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FILM GENRES

When you want to enjoy a great movie in your garage while your custom garage door is enclosing your family bonding, you might want to consider the following genres or types of movies:

Action Movie Sub Genres

The term ‘action movie’ is a rather broad umbrella which applies to a wide range of films, as evidenced by the variety of sub genres described below. With a lot in common with the equally broad ‘adventure’ genre, action movies typically follow conventional story telling techniques and plot paths.

An epic movie is one which sees its protagonist (or multiple protagonists) going to great lengths and over a long period of time in order to achieve a vital objective. Based in ancient Greek storytelling conventions and one of the oldest genres known to man, the tale usually involves the characters growing or changing in some way along the journey. (Ben Hur, Gone With the Wind, Lawrence of Arabia)
A hallmark of the genre is that a spy or other undercover professional finds themselves on a secret mission, usually behind enemy lines, and armed with an array of special equipment and gadgets. (James Bond, Salt, Mission: Impossible)
Often with crossovers into sci-fi and thriller genres, disaster films center their story around a disaster, usually natural but it can be artificial. The disaster itself can be on a global level (Armageddon, Knowing, The Day After Tomorrow) or extremely localized, imposing peril on only the central characters. (Poseidon, Towering Inferno)
One of the highest grossing of any movie genre in current times, superhero movies feature one or more characters who have supernatural abilities and do battle with similarly-powered antagonists. The majority of superhero movies – though not all – are derived from comic book source material. (The Dark Knight Trilogy, Hancock, Superman)
‘Thriller’ is a relatively nebulous term that can be used in conjunction with crime, mystery, horror and even sci-fi genres but typically involves a race-against-time or similarly high stakes plot device. Straight action thrillers include notable titles such as Die Hard, Lethal Weapon and The Bourne Franchise.
Also referred to as ‘Kung Fu movies’, the primary focus of martial arts movies is the physical fight scenes peppered throughout the film. Actors typically come from a martial arts background, or are highly trained before production. (Enter the Dragon, Drunken Master, Mortal Kombat, The Karate Kid)
Screenplays which have been adapted from popular video games can fall into any genre depending on the source material, but for the most part they can be considered as action movies. (Resident Evil, Tomb Raider, Prince of Persia)

Crime Movie Sub Genres
As the name implies, crime movies see their plot revolve around a crime (or series of criminal actions) which is either taking place or has already been committed.

This category of crime mystery is typified by its complex plot as the protagonist (usually a detective) attempts to solve the nature of a particular crime and identify the perpetrator, with the audience learning key plot details and invited to do the same along the way. (Lady on a Train, Murder Most Foul)
Anything that covers the activities of gangs – either historic or contemporary – can be considered a ‘gangster movie’. The antagonist of such a movie is often a law enforcement agency or a rival gang. (Gangs of New York, City of God, Reservoir Dogs)
The hardboiled detective genre rose to prominence during the film noir era of the 1920s and reached its peak during the 40s and 50s. The genre is famed for its direct-to-audience narration by the lead character, who is stereotypically a cynical detective. (The Maltese Falcon, The Big Sleep)
Although courtroom dramas are generally confined to television, there have been a few notable examples of films which cover the legal proceedings surrounding a crime. Can incorporate elements from other crime sub genres, including ‘whodunnit’ mysteries. (Philadelphia, A Few Good Men, The Verdict)

Fantasy Movie Sub Genres
The fantasy genre spans a wide variety of plot tropes and themes, but a unifying factor between fantasy movies is that they contain some kind of fantastical or speculative element which affects the world and the characters within it (as opposed to a technological element, which is the main distinction between sci-fi and fantasy movies). Fantasy sub genres include:

Set in the real – or slightly modified – world and in a present era but with a fantastical element such as magic or other dimensions acting upon it. (Hellboy, Harry Potter, Mirrormask, Neverending Story)
As above, but used to describe contemporary fantasy primarily or wholly set within a city. It’s a sub genre within a sub genre. (Constantine, Ghostbusters, Underworld)
A merger between the horror/thriller and fantasy genres, dark fantasy movies are just that – dark in tone and incorporating disturbing imagery and plot lines. (Pan’s Labyrinth).
Taking folkloric fairy tales – particularly from the likes of the Brothers Grimm and Hans Christian Andersen – and adapting them into screenplays is a growing mainstay of Hollywood in recent times. Fairy tale movies are increasingly (but not necessarily) portrayed with a gritty and dark undertone, or at least stays true to the already dark source material. (Maleficent, Into the Woods, Jack the Giant Killer)
Often derived from high fantasy literature, particularly ancient Greek epics and some of the more contemporary works of high fantasy. Epic fantasies rarely deviate from a serious tone, and can feature mythical creatures and invented languages. Also incorporates elements from heroic fantasy, as described below. (Lord of the Rings, 300, Chronicles of Narnia, Beowulf)
The term ‘heroic fantasy’ describes the character arc moreso than the plot or theme of the movie, but arguably the two are intrinsically linked. The hero trope has existed as long as literature itself, and is typified by an (often initially reluctant) hero having to overcome a series of challenges – both physical and metaphysical – across large stretches of time and distance. (Jason and the Argonauts, The Dark Crystal, Willow)
Comprising of many elements from epic and heroic fantasies, sword and sorcery rose to prominence with pulp fiction magazines of the 20s and 30s. (Conan the Barbarian, Krull, Masters of the Universe)