Following up with my post from last week about believable characters, today I’m going to discuss character development after recently watching a movie that highlighted some what-not-to-dos when it comes to story writing.
Again, if you haven’t seen The Last Witch Hunter, I warn you now that I will be spoiling the story. As someone who hates spoilers it’s only fair that I warn you.
Last week I covered the main issue my viewing partner had with the story, now I’ll get to the part I had a major issue with: a bad plot twist. As we enter the climax of the movie it’s only appropriate that the heroes get separated so the main hero can face the big bad evil alone. As the trio, Kaulder, Chloe, and the young handler, enter the bizarre cave system housing the resurrected Witch Queen, Kaulder leaves Chloe near the entrance to perform some important magic that requires her to go into a trance that leaves her vulnerable. He leaves his handler’s young replacement to watch over her since he’s a trusted ally of the order—yes, the same one that betrayed him.
While Kaulder is fighting the Witch Queen and just about to deliver the death blow with his sword, the young handler comes into the cavern yelling while he holds Chloe at gun point. He (essentially) says to Kaulder:
“Remember how I told you we met when you saved me as a kid from the fire that killed the witches who kidnapped me? Those were my parents. I was born without any magic. You killed them. Now release my queen.”
I quite literally yelled “Come on” to the screen. Lamest. Plot twist. Ever. Not to mention it’s a terrible chunk of dialogue. I was even less impressed when the young handler asks the Witch Queen to grant him the gift of magic and instead she kills him—without magic he’s only human, and she hates humans. This secret order has an 800 year-old-warrior in their ranks but they were infiltrated by this guy? Still, if the author’s plan was to kill him off from the get-go this betrayal added nothing to the story because he and Kaulder hadn’t developed any kind of relationship in the movie. This young handler was in a handful of irrelevant scenes.
This plot twist was useless to the story. If Chloe had betrayed Kaulder that might have been something, but I think the additional betrayal was a waste of movie time. Sure, this interruption allowed the Witch Queen to get the upper hand, albeit briefly, but there was no way that Kaulder was not winning the fight in the end.
I was quite invested in the movie up until this point. This scene kicked me right out of the story and left me shaking my head. This is not a reaction any creator wants from their audience.
Obviously, we’re two very picky viewers, we like stories of all kinds but we like picking them apart because it’s fun. At the end of the day these two points, believable characters and solid plot twists, are highly subjective and, again, it comes down to what the author wants to do with their piece. You can’t please everyone.
What are your thoughts? Did you watch this movie or have you encountered similar issues in a story that left you feeling a bit deflated as a consumer?