10 Movies That Were Saved by One Small Decision

Many a times whether a movie turns out to be good or bad rests on just one small decision. That one decision either elevates the film to a better level or just completely changes the direction that the film ultimately takes. Here are 10 examples of how one small decision ended up saving the film.


1. CAPTAIN AMERICA: THE WINTER SOLDIER (2014) – The System is the Villain

Making a Captain America movie for a modern audience provided Marvel Studios with a few challenges. Cap’s first movie chronicles his exploits during WWII so it wasn’t hard to get people to root for the star-spangled man when he was fighting Nazis. The sequel however, could have gone badly if it had been handled poorly. Taking a hero who is literally draped in the American flag and relating him to a contemporary audience could have been awful (especially with widespread, anti-American sentiments being an obstacle to overcome) but an ingenious plot device managed to nip that problem in the bud. In CAPTAIN AMERICA: THE WINTER SOLIDER, the U.S. Government (specifically, SHEILD) ended up being the villain because of its infiltration by HYDRA. Making your patriotic superhero fight back against a corrupt system eliminated any possible accusations of flag-waiving propaganda. Not bad for a guy who punched Hitler in the face.


2. RISE OF THE PLANET OF THE APES (2011) – Andy Serkis

The Planet of the Apes franchise had been dead in the water ever since the Tim Burton remake bombed in 2001. With advances in special effects and the growing use of motion-capture, it was decided to revamp the franchise utilizing the newest technology. The apes would be CGI for the first time, portrayed on set by actors using MoCap. The ace in the hole for this production was the casting of Andy Serkis as the lead ape, Caesar. Serkis had already played Kong in Peter Jackson’s KING KONG and was the most experienced actor in the world of performance capture ever since he portrayed Gollum in The Lord of the Rings. Serkis’ performance is remarkable and his presence inspired everyone’s confidence in the production leading to a rejuvenated film series that is both commercially and critically, successful. Hail Caesar!


3. 21 JUMP STREET (2011) – R-Rated, Self-Parody

Taking the plot of the television show of the same name and adapting it for film sounded like another horrible idea used to cash in on people’s nostalgia. We don’t need another stupid reboot, right? This film took care of all of the complains with one, smart choice; it was decided that 21 JUMP STREET: the film, would be a raunchy, R-rated parody of the genre and remakes themselves. The film lampoons remakes and the premise of the original show, with many meta-jokes included. The directors, writers and stars also elevated it to a level no one expected as critical acclaim was high. Additionally, it’s not actually a reboot. Johnny Depp & Peter DeLuise cameo as their characters from the original series, effectively making this a sequel.


4. CAST AWAY (2000) – Wilson

Making a movie about someone who is stranded on a desert island creates one huge issue right off the bat: your protagonist has no one to interact with. Everyone talks to themselves occasionally but that can get messy, especially for someone in a perilous situation. Robert Zemeckis and company decided to deal with this problem by creating the “character” of Wilson, a volleyball that gains a crude face painted in blood after Tom Hanks’ character throws it in a fit of rage. Hanks’ cast away proceeds to name the ball, carry out conversations with it and finally, create an emotional bond with the audience that few would expect.

Hanks has stated that Wilson even had lines of dialogue written out for Hanks to react to even though we couldn’t hear what Wilson was saying. Hanks also confirmed that Wilson’s “voice” was that of director, Robert Zemeckis. Using Wilson as a plot device allowed Hanks to craft one of the best performances of his career. In the film’s climax, Wilson is set adrift at sea. Hanks’ character valiantly tries to save the doomed volleyball, even weeping with regret as he tells Wilson that he is “sorry” he couldn’t save him. Russell Crowe won Best Actor at the Oscars that year for his role in ‘Gladiator.’ I love Gladiator as much as the next person but Tom Hanks made me cry over a volleyball. The Oscar should have been his.


5. FORREST GUMP (1994) – Tom Hanks copies the performance of a child actor

Tom Hanks’ performance in this Robert Zemeckis’ film DID win him an Oscar and has become the stuff of legend. Hanks’ performance as the simple-minded man from Alabama is a revelation that drives the entire film. While his acclaim is well earned, Tom Hanks’ performance only exists because another actor did it first. Michael Connor Humphreys plays the younger version of Hanks’ character. The young actor was from Mississippi and had a very unique way of speaking; specifically, extending vowel sounds at the end of words with consonants.

For example: Speaking became spea-king-AH, and running became run-ning-AH. Originally, they tried to teach Humphreys to speak more like Hanks but ultimately, they decided that Hanks would simply mimic Humphreys. That voice became the foundation for Hanks performance and he has publicly admitted so. Forrest Gump is a cultural icon and he only exists because of pragmatism and a child actor’s rural upbringing.

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