Things Hollywood Can Never Get Right

Cal picks a few facets of studio films they can never seem to crack. Hello, technology!

Found Footage

The list of perpetrators on this front run rampant. The Paranormal Activity sequels, V/H/S: Viral, Cloverfield, and pretty much every Found Footage movie ever.

Most Found Footage productions purport to be shot with consumer equipment. Blair Witch nailed this because it was actually shot with the cameras we see in the freaking movie. It’s poor quality because of it, but the illusion is ever true. In other such productions, we see parts apparently shot on iPhones, yet the video quality is gorgeously crisp and 4K, with a rumbling 5.1 HD audio track that sounds as if it was mixed by Hollywood’s finest. Paranormal Activity 3 is meant to be an 80s VHS tape, but it’s beautifully crisp and detailed.

Another annoyance, particularly in Project Almanac: the purposely shaky photography and improper lensing is exaggerated to the point of ludicrousness. Worse, the glitches in the photography are completely over-exaggerated. I mean, consumer cameras are manufactured so as to not actually glitch that much, yet you wouldn’t know it from productions like this. And fuck me, the noise of people handling and fiddling with the camera is completely, utterly overdone. I’ve used cameras for years, and even my shitty old VHS cameras never made so much freaking noise from handling them.

Another completely unnecessary, hoary chestnut: starting the movie with people asking “Are you filming?” or figuring out the framing, etc. Honestly, again, I’ve made student movies for years, and even when my completely disinterested father uses the camera, none of that shit is recorded. And in most cases in these movies, it’s friends who are experienced in filming shit. Or even professionals. In real life, people press the record button, say “I’m filming, and go.” And even if the crappy “Are you filming?” shit is recorded, why wouldn’t it get edited out? It doesn’t add realism or anything. It’s just annoying.


Apparently, most filmmakers have never actually used an mobile or iPhone in their lives, as movies seem to have trouble depicting them properly. Oftentimes in movies, characters answer their iPhone by pressing a button, with a sound effect from some old Nokia phone. Nobody has realised that, to answer an iPhone, you slide to answer and it makes absolutely no noise. Even when the iPhone is unlocked and there’s an “Answer” button to tap, it makes no noise.

And in the opening of John Wick, the titular Wick presses play on a video in his gallery, and a noise is heard. But no such noises are actually made on a real iPhone. It’s silent.

I get why most filmmakers do this – exaggerating for theatricality – but it’s still an annoyance. Although it doesn’t kill a movie or anything, a bit of realism on this front would be appreciated.

Computer Operating Systems

Computers as a whole are never depicted properly. It’s rare to see characters using straight-up Windows or Mac operating systems. Often, it’s the trademark Hollywood iteration, as seen in¬†Live Free or Die Hard, Shooter, Swordfish, and pretty much every action or hacker movie from the past couple of decades.


In Kick-Ass, characters watch clips on YouTube, yet the layout is not correct at all. YouTube has been through many iterations, granted, but it has never looked like it does here.

Movies do this all the time. You see weird movie versions of Facebook, MySpace, and others. Ted‘s depiction of Facebook was just strange.

Yeah, like with the iPhone stuff, it doesn’t really matter in the grand scheme of things, but it does help the illusion. I mean, the TV show Derek is shot in mockumentary style, and when Derek loads up a YouTube video, they actually filmed Ricky Gervais loading up a YouTube video on a computer. It’s a little touch of naturalism that’s appreciated. Yes, granted, it’s not like filmmakers can just put their fictional videos up on YouTube, but it can’t be too hard to use an actual screenshot of a YouTube page and just digitally touch it up to integrate the intended video and manipulate the view count, etc.


My mother is a midwife, so I’m a bit clued in about this one. Whenever I watch a movie with mum that involves a baby being born, she scoffs at it. No matter what Hollywood does, they can’t quite get it right.

First of all, the exaggerated screaming and so on is preposterous. Secondly, movies can’t quite nail the look of what a newborn baby is meant to look like. Thirdly, mothers poo themselves when they give birth. Yeah. I don’t remember seeing Ellen Page doing a poopy on the floor in Juno.

This is probably more of a case of doing something unrealistically to keep it cinema-friendly. I mean, seeing a woman shit herself will not exactly make for pleasant viewing. But while I can forgive it in some movies or TV shows (Friends was never realistic), if a film aims for realism and blows it with a childbirth scene, it’s a bit distracting.


I hate throwing a 007 movie under the bus, but the rear projection driving sequences in Dr. No are genuinely awful. A lot of times in Hollywood movies old and new, characters are seen steering unrealistically, which doesn’t always match the images being projected in the windows.

Some movies do it right, mind you. In the making of Collateral, Jamie Foxx actually talks about the urge to make exaggerated driving motions, and he did that at the beginning of shooting and got chewed out for it. So, yeah, some movies do it correctly, but a lot of others don’t. It’s annoying. There’s even a knowing joke in Airplane! which spoofs this tendency. Watch it here:




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