I went and saw Super 8 last night with my dad and my sister. After the movie was over and we were walking out, the classic "discussion of the movie you just saw" began.
Dad: "So Erin, what did you think?"
Erin: "I really liked it. What'd you think?"
Dad: "I really liked it, too. I liked that the ending was completely unpredictable. Brian, what did you think?"
Me: "Uuuuuuuh...I knew what the ending was gonna be from like half an hour in, but it was alright."
Dad/Erin: (Chortles) "How could you possibly know that that soon?"
Me: "I dunno...I just did..."
I'm not saying the movie was bad. It was mediocre at worst, but honestly the thing that held my attention more than anything else in this "thriller" was that the 15-year-old or so girl who played one of the main characters looked uncannily like a younger version of a girl I know who just graduated from college, and that said girl I know is pretty attractive, and was it weird for me to therefore think that this 15-year-old was also attractive?
It's hard for me to put my finger on exactly what qualities make a movie "good" to me. But let me try to break it down anyway, as best I can.
Visuals/Cinematography: Obviously this is important. No one wants to look at a screen that looks like someone vomited on a puddle of diarrhea. We all want to see pretty things that look super cool. Take, for instance, the movie The Fountain. One of my favorite movies now. The plot is interesting and keeps my attention, but it's not why I love the movie so much. I love it because it is so damn pretty. Prettiest movie I've ever seen. Also, when it comes to action movies, nothing is more important than visuals. Plot is often negligible. People watch action movies to see awesome stunts and badass explosions. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7UcpL45SZRM (see 0:35). If your spending millions on production, you better wow me in this category. Super 8 at least had that going for it.
Plot: Unless the movie is a prequel or based on a book that I've read, I'd like to not be able to guess the ending until sometime near the ending. As I said before, Super 8 pretty much failed me in this respect. Whilst trying not to spoil anything for those who haven't seen it, let me explain why that is. Presuming that you've seen the trailer for this movie before you went and saw it, you would be aware that there is a train crash, something tries to get out of the train, and then a bunch of paranormal things start to occur. It isn't all that difficult to guess what's in the train, and from details that are given to you over the course of the next few minutes, you can narrow it down to 2 possible endings, one of which is eliminated shortly afterward. Now, I'm not saying that if I can guess the ending, the movie is ruined for me. But it sure doesn't boost my approval rating. I guess I just really enjoy plot twists. Probably why my favorite movie genre is the phycological thriller. However, if you have a substantial enough plot that I can't easily poke holes in, I can forgive you your predictability.
Acting: I've seen so many potentially awesome movies ruined by subpar acting. I realize some films can't afford the big stars, but that isn't really an excuse. I don't care if you have the coolest idea for a story ever conceived by the human mind; if your characters aren't believable, everything else is negligible. And on the other hand, I've seen plenty of otherwise mediocre movies shoot their way up the charts because of good acting, usually done by small time actors/actresses no one has heard of yet. THIS IS IMPORTANT. DON'T FUCK THIS PART UP.
Soundtracks: Never been a factor for me. I know for a fact Twilight has some good music. Twilight still sucks ass. I'm not gonna see the movie for the music. I'll look it up online later if I'm desperate to give it a listen. And I've never been turned off by a movie because it has an atrocious soundtrack. I hope that day never comes. I can't imagine it will. I don't want to imagine that.
There's some other stuff that I take into account, but ultimately you could probably fit them under one of these categories. Anyway, this is just how I process movies. I'm sure y'all do it differently. Tell me all about it in comments.