In order to test the new checklist before I posted it, I re-submitted the movies I had already evaluated with the old checklist to the new one. I’ll be updating those old posts for a while, and doing quick highlights here of how they answered one of the new questions.
One addition to the checklist is that the hero’s primary motivation for at least the first half of the story should not be selfless. In Silence of the Lambs, Clarice Starling is a straight-up stand-up-and-cheer hero, and audiences love her unreservedly, but, like real heroes, she’s far from selfless.
She’s not a pro bono volunteer at the FBI, it’s her career, and there’s no doubt what her motivation is for most of the movie: advancement. She follows instructions to the letter, lets her boss hold her back or spur her forward, and genuinely respects him. She doesn’t burn with rage at “technicalities”, or society’s failings, or the thought of “injustice” as an abstract concept.
This was especially notable because there had been a lot of cop movies in the previous twenty years in which the cop was advised to think about his career, only to angrily retort that this wasn’t about his career, dammit, this was about the victims! Clarice feels for the victim, but she doesn’t pretend that she’s the only one who does, and she clearly knows that the victim’s loved ones must be kept away from a case with a ten foot pole, because they’ll just screw everything up.
And now, without further ado, check out lots more new answers like this one here…