When “Movie Magic” Defies Common Sense

When “Movie Magic” Defies Common Sense

We’ve all heard the term ‘movie magic’ in the past and it’s usually been attributed to whatever lack of common sense in the movies we feel the need to explain, but there are times when it simply defies that same common sense and leaves some folks no real choice. The above picture from Predator is a good example since without needing to go into the whole movie the understanding is that the main antagonist (Dylan was kind of a bad guy for tricking Dutch remember) could only see heat signatures, which is an interesting quirk, especially in a sweltering hot jungle, but okay. The biggest bit of movie magic isn’t the fact that the creature picks the soldiers off one at a time and is never seen dragging a body through the trees, it’s not even when Arnold goes on a tear and sets up an entire camp filled with traps and pitfalls, not to mention turning into a bowyer on the spot. Instead the biggest use of movie magic comes from the fact that once he’s out of the lake he was dumped into during his escape, Arnold is coated, mostly, in mud which almost immediately hides him from the Predator. Shawn S. Lealos of Screenrant can back me up on this. The only issue there is that he has plenty of areas on his body where the mud doesn’t appear to cover, and since the creature can see even traces of heat, Arnold should have been just as much of a sitting duck as he appeared to be. But that’s movie magic, it allows us to let out a pent-up breath and think ‘whew, that was a close one’, when in reality things would likely go a lot differently. 

Another humongous use of movie magic would be the Home Alone movies, and most people should know what I’m talking about since the movies are for the most part a live action cartoon where the bad guys can feel the pain and take the damage, but they won’t be permanently crippled or flat out killed from some of the trap that mini-Jigsaw, aka Kevin McAllister, decided to set for them. In reality, had it not been a kids movie, Marv and Harry wouldn’t have made it out of the McAllister’s house alive, and young Kevin might have been headed off to a court-mandated appointment with a child psychiatrist not too long after his parents returned home. Lizz Schumer of the CheatSheet has a few things to say about this topic. Think of it, in the first movie the two bumbling crooks were beaten, stabbed, shot, burned, bludgeoned, and in the end smacked in the face with a snow shovel. In the second movie Marv took three bricks to the head from a three to four story height, Harry took multiple blows to the head and neck, and both of them should have been carted out in body bags instead of being able to jump up and run after Kevin. Heck, in the second movie even Kevin should have had a concussion after slipping and falling on the patch of ice that was his undoing. 

This is the point though, movie magic is more than having perfect hair after waking up in the morning or taking a miles-long motorcycle ride with a helmet on, it’s the ability to simply act like reality is a malleable thing and expect people to either buy it or just pass it by and think that it means next to nothing. We allow this since we know the movies are for the most part entirely fake and make-believe and that in reality the reaction of many people would be far different on many different occasions. In Predator the inclination to stare a moving silhouette wouldn’t be the first thought of many individuals with a gun in hand. In Home Alone many burglars would either be in traction or say to hell with it when getting into the house proved to be too much for them to handle. That, or Kevin wouldn’t stand a chance against two seasoned crooks that knew what they were doing. The idea of movie magic is something that we don’t often question, but there are moments when the silliness goes a little too far and we can’t help but call it out, even if it is a serious buzzkill at times. It’s not so much the idea of needing to spoil the fun as it is calling movie-makers out for being lazy and possibly thinking that they could slide one past the audience. Martial arts movies are another one in that they look insanely impressive with the flash and pomp of the styles that are on display. But any true fighter, especially those with an MMA background, would likely tell you that in many martial arts movies the fight should have ended with the first few hard blows. 

Movie magic is great without a doubt, but there are times when it stretches a little past its means, which in a big way can damage the reputation of the movie. 

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