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Title Average Rating Downloads Date
Created

The Henchman Zack's Original Draft (Script 1)

3.8 stars
(5)
21 09/16/11

About

Graduated from The Ohio State University with a degree in Film Criticism, which is an academic way of saying "Listen to me, damnit!"
 

Reviews Zack Has Written

Shockwave, Paul's Original Draft

0 out of 0 people found the following review helpful:

You Have a Great Premise... Use It!

Overall Recommendation:
3 stars
 
Premise:
5 stars
 
Story structure:
4 stars
 
Character:
2 stars
 
Dialogue:
3 stars
 
Emotion:
2 stars
 
January 30, 2012
Premise:

You have a strong idea at the heart of your premise, but I'm not entirely sure you're exploiting that idea as effectively as possible. The idea of an EMP is a fairly new and original one within movies. The only other movie that I can think of that even mentions EMPs is The Matrix, and there it's basically a throwaway line. So basing a script around the threat of massive EMP damage within the continental US is certainly more than viable.

However, the fact that the MacGuffin of the story happens to be an EMP device is entirely unimportant to the overall plot (as the definition of MacGuffin would imply). You could find-replace the the word "EMP" with "nuclear device" or "dirty bomb" or "experimental weapon X" and the story would make just as much sense. This is because we only see the weapon detonated on the news. Far away. It doesn't effect our good guys, bad guys, or even periphery characters in any way. It's only important as an item of value that Chris wants to prevent Kyle from selling.

The obvious (and only really interesting) place I can think to take a story involving EMPs is to have their detonation effect the plot deeply. You know, like, having your main characters - who depend so much on technology in their FBI investigations, criminal dealings, and everyday lives - right in the center of the effected area of the EMP "detonation". Then you get to fully exploit the potential horror of this weapon by showing all the ways being without technology changes things - everyone has to walk everywhere because cars no longer work, the public is panicking and rioting over food and water supplies, no one can contact anyone via cell phone, or even landline, the FBI can't track anyone using GPS, and instead has to rely on more basic methods of investigation, etc... This would be constantly increasing the stakes from scene to scene, as well as providing ample opportunity to show how the EMPs work rather than simply exposit that in the dialogue. As it stands now, this is generic procedural that feels like it should be a three-episode arc on CSI rather than a Hollywood movie - which is a shame considering how much you could do with the EMP storyline.

Structure:

Opening hook - scene in Hyatt
Introduce main characters - pg. 3-11
Motivating incident for protagonist - pg. 9 (Kate's death)
Motivating incident for antagonist - pg. 10 (Kyle learns of his dad's death)
First act turn - pg. 25-33 (Theft of devices and initiators)
First Complication - pg. 40 (demonstration of EMP on LA)
Midpoint - pg. 54 (arrest of Luo)? Or pg. 60 (arrest of Kyle)? Or pg. 65 (Kyle escapes) - or would that be the Second Complication already?
Second Complication - pg. 70 (Ransom plan initated)?
Turn into Act 3 - pg. 90-95 (Kyle loses everything and initiates his last-ditch plan)

Your first act is alright, though it could set up both the situations that motivate the protagonist and antagonist better. Since we never see much of Chris' relationship with Kate, it's hard to feel that loss along with him when she dies - which is a big deal because that's what drives him for the rest of the movie. I never found Kyle's motivations all that clear, is he working for revenge on Chris or money? I didn't really understand the story beats if Kyle was personally motivated, but you assured me in StudioMail that Kyle was simply motivated by money. If that's the case why involve Kyle's father's death at all? Wouldn't it be simpler and cleaner to just avoid a story point that could be read as personal involvement if that's not what you're going for? Also, money isn't a great motivation to give a character who's already depicted as extremely wealthy.

Things get pretty complicated in the second act, but basically only two important things happen (so SPOILER WARNING) - by important I mean important to the characters, not just a rundown of the plot:

1) Rebecca is kidnapped
2) Kyle loses everything except complete and functional EMP devices.

Everything else that happens is overcomplicated to the point of confusion, introducing many new characters and plot points and discarding them before the beginning of Act 3. Sean Gallagher is introduced on pg. 35 and on pg 48 he's simply let go and never mentioned again. Similar for Attache Luo. In fact, the entire subplot of Brockman teaming with Gallagher to sell the EMPs to China serves only to have him lose the initiators, giving him a practical motivation for kidnapping Rebecca.

How do the EMPs tie in with the emotional core of the story (Chris vs. Kyle) at all?

And the kidnapping subplot? Resolved before Act 3 as well. All Act 2 really does is strip Kyle of everything he had at the end of Act 1 and give him back just enough of it to be dangerous by the beginning of Act 3. This would be a great arc if Kyle were the main character - but he's not. Which brings us to characters...

Characters:

There's a tendency in this script to do something weird with character introductions. Basically, you introduce a character in the scene action then proceed to give a rundown on the character's personality and history in a way that almost seems like an IMDb bio or something (i.e: "AARON HAYES (late 20s, African American). Aaron grew up in South Central LA, worked his way through college, graduated top of his class at Quantico (the FBI’s training academy).") This could work, but it doesn't in this script for two reasons:

1) A script isn't written for the people who read it, it's written for those who will eventually view it as a finished film. Describing a character's biography in the scene action may provide the reader with background information, but the real audience (the one theoretically watching the movie based on this script) won't get that information unless you relate it in some way through the visuals or the dialogue.

That wouldn't be so bad, if kept limited it could provide a ephemeral "sense" of the character that a reader doesn't get without an actor depicting the character onscreen. However,

2) The script often leans on this type of description as a crutch, giving us this instead of actual character development.

I'll run through the impressions I got of most of the main characters:

Chris - I get no sense of if he's supposed to be a good FBI agent or not. I suppose he's got to be some kind of super-agent to pull off the stunt he reveals towards the ending, but that stunt didn't really feel earned so I don't know if it even made sense within the world of the story, or if it did if it was a fluke considering how much Chris messed up earlier. I also get no sense of whether he's intended to be a good father or husband. He never actually spends any time with his wife or kid in this script where the wife isn't dead or the kid isn't intentionally pulling away from him in rebellion. The family-oriented scenes felt perfunctory, relying on cliches in broad strokes (a man whose wife dies will cry while looking at her ring, a girl whose mother dies will become angsty and rebellious, etc...). I also get no sense of Chris' personality outside of his job. Is he funny? Is he stoic? Does he have interests or hobbies? He doesn't really have any inner life - he's just the protagonist of this story, with the exactly 1 piece of emotional baggage necessary to create soap opera-ish drama but nothing more.

Kate - Umm... supportive of her husband? Understanding of her daughter? I realize it's a little much to expect an amazing character out of a few pages, but when her death is so crucial to understanding the ONLY motivation Chris has outside of simple duty to his job there should be SOMETHING more to her than "she seemed like an okay wife/mother".

Rebecca - "I'm sad my mom died and wish my dad was around more." There. I just described every scene Rebecca is in. She doesn't have a real character arc, since before her mom died she was exactly the same, but without the first part of that sentence. Sure, she became a troubled, rebellious teen after her mother died, but that doesn't effect the way her character interacts with her father - she goes from "complaining he's not around more" to "complaining he's not around more, despite the fact that he's not around because he's trying to avenge her mother's death while saving thousands of lives" - and speaking of that what is with the lack of communication in this family? It doesn't help her subplot that it presumably only exists because Chris doesn't want/isn't allowed to tell her that he's after the man who killed her mother. I think she'd be fine with her dad not being around because he's arresting the man who killed her mother, so that conflict feels a bit falsely manufactured.

Kyle - I believe I've already gone into my lack of understanding of Kyle's motivation, but I also have no sense of Kyle as a character. What did Kyle do before this plot began. What's his actual job? Is he an arms dealer? Then why does he have to team up with another arms dealer to sell the EMPs? Is he a drug dealer? A legitimate businessman? You say he has a PhD from Stanford, but in what? What was he planning on doing with his "mole" in the FBI before he got caught? Why was his house wired with explosives? Was he planning for his plan to fail?

Azumi - I know the following things about Azumi: she doesn't talk much, she uses two guns, she's Asian, sometimes she and Kyle kiss. She pretty much appears in the opening scene, the scene in Aurora Corp, then disappears from page 33 until the final action scene on page 100. She appears in a few other scenes, but just standing in the background. She has no backstory, no character moments other than the "cool" action scenes, she's not much more than an action figure.

Naomi - I get the sense that Naomi was included because it was cool to have Azumi remain mostly silent, but too impractical not to give Kyle someone to bounce off of. She's maybe a little better rounded, but really serves no purpose in the story other than as a tool of Kyle's. You could easily switch around any scenes Naomi has with any scenes Azumi has, or even combine them into a single character without effecting the script in any way. Hell, other than the opening sequence in the Hyatt everything both these characters do could be done by Kyle, cutting out the middleman.

Ramirez - Ramirez is introduced on pg 30. The first time Ramirez's name is mentioned in the dialogue is on page 88. The audience will have no idea what his name is until this point. Much of what I said about Naomi applies to Ramirez as well. However, this does underline the way characters are used in this script, as tools serving the plot rather than as characters who do things for their own reasons that cause that plot to occur. Not only are character details beside the point, even names can be forgotten about.

Aaron & Lisa - Pretty much everything that I said about Naomi and Ramirez can be applied to Aaron and Lisa as well. They're less distinct characters than tools being used by the various sides of the conflict. Each of them also have a subplot that isn't effectively foreshadowed. In Aaron's case it's the fact that he becomes a traitor, this is set up in exactly one part - where he tries to put Kyle and Ramirez in the same SWAT van and then tries to be the only one to accompany that van - which is immediately before he turns traitor, so it doesn't do much to alleviate the feeling that this subplot appears out of nowhere.
In Lisa's case it's that the last page seems to imply that she and Chris are going to be getting together or something. I never got even the slightest vibe throughout the script that they were attracted to one another. This makes the way it's implied they'll get together at the end feel like a forced romantic subplot that has been unearned and thus is a little jarring.

Sean Gallagher - I don't know why this character was included. He's introduced on pg. 41 and neither effects the plot nor is mentioned after pg 48. He could be incorporated into Kyle's (already very similar) character, simplifying an already long cast list. In fact, having Kyle - whose main trait is that he's an arms dealer - need to go to another arms dealer to pull off this big sale kind of undermines his character a bit.

One technique I would recommend for assessing whether you have three-dimensional characters/creating three-dimensional characters is to try writing a scene featuring a character or characters from your script that is totally unrelated to the main story and character relationships featured in the script. For example, right now we don't really get any scenes of Chris' family just hanging out so you could try writing a scene set months before the events of "Shockwave" in which Chris, Kate, and Becca do something simple like play a board game or go to the grocery store or something. Try writing a scene of Kyle back in his college days. Or a scene of Azumi and Naomi just hanging out in their off time. It doesn't have to be particularly exciting since this is just a tool for you to experiment with their character relationships, not something you have to show anyone.

The easier it is to write these scenes the more three-dimensional the characters probably are, and writing these can help define characters better than than a simple character background sheet.

Dialogue:

I noticed nothing particularly remarkable nor much particularly horrible about the dialogue, other than the previously noted lack of character detail being revealed in dialogue (or action, for that matter) and a few of cases of clunky exposition.

Emotion:

It may seem like I'm harping on about this "Three-Dimensional Characters" issue, but the biggest problems with this script and maybe the most common problem with scripts on Amazon Studios. None of your characters are really three-dimensional. We are people. We care about people. People are three-dimensional. One-dimensional characters can produce no emotion.

For example, when Chris cries from looking at his wedding ring it can't help but feel hollow because we don't know anything about his character. If he'd been portrayed as an overly masculine character who was into sports, collected baseball cards, had this masculine CIA job, and maybe didn't relate to his daughter that well as a result of this I'd have been thinking "Oh no! Not only does Chris have to deal with the loss of a loved one, but clearly his wife would have been an intermediary between him and Becca so now that she's gone it's like he's lost both his relationship with her and his daughter!". Or you could just as easily go the other way with it: Chris was a guy who was very well-rounded and in touch with his feminine side (related very well with his wife and daughter), so they were especially close and that makes the loss even sadder. Or you don't have to define it in terms of masculine/femenine, he could have been a goofball and this makes him turn serious. The opposite: he could have been very serious and needed to be in control, but this loss makes him feel totally out of control.

If those - or any of a million other - character dynamics were in place that same scene of Chris looking at his wife's ring would suddenly be packed with meaning, but since he has no clearly defined character it feels flat. He's just a guy who's sad that his wife died. The same principle could be applied to most any of the other characters as well.

Overall:

This review might sound more negative than I want it to. On a technical level this is one of the best scripts I've read - few if any formatting or spelling errors, good structure. You write great action scenes with a level of detail and pacing that gets the blood pounding. The opening Hyatt scene and the following scene with Chris' family are real nail biters - though the climactic action scene has so many twists it feels like an SNL "Dear Sister" parody. Though I'm not sure all the plot points in that ending made perfect sense, they're nonsensical in the way that many successful Hollywood movies are. For example, this script holds together better than Mission Impossible 2.

Actually, that Mission Impossible comparison is apt both in describing the problems I had with this script and why they might not matter. When reading the opening hook I made the note that "What you're giving me is Mission Impossible, my problem is that with a little work it could be Children of Men". That's only a problem if you'd rather have it be Children of Men. It doesn't have to be, I suppose. Mission Impossible probably has more fans than Children of Men, but you won't find a film critic this side of Armond White who'll claim the former is better than the latter.

Or to use a different metaphor: you're killing a cow and making me a fantastic hamburger, but with that same cow you could have made filet mignon.

Recommendations for improvement:

1) Exploit your premise more.

By far the hardest part of writing is coming up with something interesting and original to write about, and you hit it out of the park with this one! But right now it's mostly wasted as an interchangeable MacGuffin. A page one rewrite - starting with an EMP "detonation" ripping through LA, tracking the crucial first few days of the investigation attempting to find out who did it while the FBI has no electronic equipment whatsoever - would be fantastic. But at the very least there should be at one sequence in which an EMP detonation effects the investigation in some way - the most obvious thing would be to have Aaron succeed in detonating the EMP on Wall Street, making the final sequence more about Chris' attempt to capture Aaron for personal reasons than preventing the explosion and using the detonation as a way of raising the stakes in the last act.

2) General improvement of characterization.

If the details of your main characters are fuzzy, they're virtually nonexistent in your many supporting characters. Either cut down on the number of supporting characters and focus on making them more nuanced, or keep all your supporting characters and make them more iconic and memorable so that the audience isn't bored or confused (asking themselves where characters they recognize are) when these people are in the spotlight.
 

Running For Dear Life, Eskender's Original Draft

0 out of 0 people found the following review helpful:

Interesting idea, likeable characters, but major structural problems

Overall Recommendation:
3 stars
 
Premise:
3 stars
 
Story structure:
1 stars
 
Character:
3 stars
 
Dialogue:
3 stars
 
Emotion:
2 stars
 
October 20, 2011
Premise:

The idea of a refugee needing to get out of the bad area/refugee camp he's stuck in and escape to America because he's being chased by gangsters and corrupt cops is simple but solid. The writing style is heavy on little details of the culture (such as the chewing of khat) that make this feel especially grounded in the reality of what it would be like to be stuck in Eslee, Kenya - and just how dangerous it is.

This isn't a plot-heavy script, though. What plot we have is pretty simplistic - bad guys hate our heroes and our heroes need to escape or outwit them, the fact that they're refugees and can't leave gets in the way.

3 stars

Structure:

This script is strong in the character and world-detail departments, but very weak when it comes to structure, pacing, and motivation. There is little more than a very general sense of structure - in order to escape something in their homeland our protagonists must become refugees in Eslee, Kenya, Eslee is really shitty and dangerous, things get worse there, they think they're going to leave, Solomon starts dating Ieda, Zee and Kana emerge as the main bad guys, SPOILER Solomon is killed /SPOILER, Elias gets his revenge, goes to America and raises awareness of the situation in Eslee. In other words, this is at least a 4-act story - movies (particularly Hollywood-style movies that Amazon is interested in) tend to be 3 Acts.

The script starts with Elias and Solomon being attacked in Ethiopia. This introduction and their subsequent action of fleeing to Kenya makes it seem like the "running for dear life" of the title will be from the group that attacked them in the beginning, the reader assumes that this same group will chase them to Eslee. Ultimately this doesn't happen, the only thing that's important for the story is that Elias and Solomon are refugees from outside Kenya and can't safely leave for most of the script. Why not just start with them arriving in Eslee as refugees?

The pacing for the rest of the script seemed off. For a story called "Running for Dear Life", the characters spend a lot of time sitting around in Chad's apartment - "Waiting for the American Embassy" would be a more fitting title. I'm not sure who the main villain is supposed to be. The clearest example would be Kana, but Zee, Gold Tooth, and Sanka all seem to be nearly equal threats. Kana isn't introduced until nearly page 40, the other contenders for main villain aren't introduced until even later, and I'm not sure how or why the situation will come to a head until SPOILER Zee sees the protagonists murder Gold Tooth /SPOILER. You seemed to have been building up the fact that Solomon is dating Zee's sister as the thing that will ultimately cause violence to erupt, but in the end that wound up having nothing to do with it - and since SPOILER Solomon dies /SPOILER that plot thread goes nowhere.

I called this a 4-act movie because the main plot you build up is simple good guys vs bad guys (Elias and Solomon vs Kana and Zee). Kana is clearly so corrupt and abusive that he could explode into violence at any time, the mere act of placing him in close proximity to our protagonists seems to put them in danger. The same goes for Zee, who is described as backward and tribal-minded - the fact that Solomon is from another tribe and dating his sister creates a similar sort of tension. We know that sooner or later both of these situations will go badly for the heroes. Once that happens, we've entered act 3 - which should consist of Elias getting his revenge. After he does that the story should be over - we're in resolution mode, which should show that things are better after Elias has finally taken action and end the story quickly. Instead we enter a completely different series of short scenes following Elias' actions in America, involving him raising awareness of the human rights abuses in Eslee. There is easily enough plot information in this section to make an entire second movie, and it doesn't even appear to follow Elias' character arc for reasons I'll get into in the "Character" section.

Many important plot points happen offscreen, and are simply discussed as having happened later - for example, Solomon reveals that he's been dating Ieda for some time while they sit around chewing khat at Chad's apartment. It would be more cinematic and produce greater impact to see this happen instead of just casually hearing about it later.

1 star

Character:

All the characters in this story are easily definable and most appear to be three dimensional. However, I have a very hard time finding consistent motivations among them, and question why some are even included.

Elias appears to have a good life in Ethiopia and be quite fond of living there. He's a comedian - he has a rebellious streak and is good at seeing problems, but doesn't feel it's worth it to fix them himself. His arc should be to get motivated, to learn that it's not enough to be clever - sometimes you have to be a man of action. Right now, he starts out as a guy who will stick his neck out for people (as in the scene in line at the airport), but not too far (which is why he decides to keep his head down rather than pursue Ieda, for example). He ultimately solves both his problems by being clever - he gets revenge by playing different groups off of each other, and he raises awareness of the human rights abuses in Eslee by writing. However, the way he was clever in the beginning of the story was just by being funny, so it still feels out of character for him to suddenly be an expert at manipulating criminals or to excel at non-comedic non-fiction writing to such an incredible degree. This represents no character arc for Elias. He didn't learn anything or change as a person because of his experiences in Eslee, he's still the same guy we were introduced to in the beginning. If the fact that he's being serious at the end is supposed to be a character change then it needs to be more fleshed out, right now it feels unearned.

Solomon starts out as a coward and a sidekick. When Elias makes a joke, Solomon laughs. When Elias wants to idealistically help someone, Solomon warns him that they could get in trouble for it. However, in the middle of the story the situation reverses. Solomon is practically the main character: Elias is the one who wants to hide out until they get approved for their emigration to America, while Solomon is risking everything by dating Ieda, though she is Zee's sister, Solomon is even the one who initially wants to take revenge against Zee and Kana. This seems totally out of character for him, and even weirder because a scene or two later Elias and Solomon switch back to their initial roles. Structurally it also weakens a lot of Elias' potential arc - in the second act - where he should be developing as a character and building to the emotional release of the events that trigger Act 3 - he's basically a non-character, just sitting around playing sidekick to Solomon.

I don't know why Zee and Kana are two separate characters. The only threat Zee poses is that he tends to give Kana information, so Kana is still the actual threat. Why not cut out the middle man (Zee) and just make Ieda into Kana's sister? You're already spreading your villainous actions throughout 4 characters (Kana, Zee, Sanka, and Gold Tooth), which gives each of them less villainous stuff to do, which decreases their perceived threat to the reader - for example: if you have 4 evil actions happen in your script, each performed by a separate character then each of those characters will appear mildly threatening - but if you have one character perform all of the evil actions then he will appear very threatening. The fewer villains you have, the simpler and easier to follow the story will be, and the more effective those villains will be story-wise.

Ieda basically doesn't have any character traits at all besides being attractive until the last third of the script. She feels like a new character at that point. You should develop her earlier in the story in order to make it flow better.

I liked Chad, he was funny. However, he really didn't serve much purpose other than to speak exposition to the other characters. In the scene where he and Elias discuss religion you show a real potential for this character - he could serve as a warning of what Elias will become if he doesn't manage to get out of Eslee. Both Elias and Chad are funny, but Chad is willing to laugh at things that Elias is angry about because Elias still has hope for change and Chad has lost that hope - instead drowning his sorrows in khat.

Your characters are good, but you tend to allow them to fluctuate in terms of motivation and role in the story.

3 stars

Dialogue:

The dialogue in this script ranged from quite good to beginners-level bad, but it always tended to feel real and reveal the characters well.

The biggest problem that I had was with on-the-nose dialogue: at many points the characters would literally say what they think with no subtlety or wit. Whether it's Elias directly stating that he liked Ieda but didn't pursue her because it might get in the way of their emigration, or Chad, Elias, and Solomon all directly stating the point that the police and governments in Eslee are corrupt (which the audience already understands from seeing the corrupt police in action). These sorts of plot points are generally better left as subtext.

Despite all this clear, direct stating of what's going on I often also found myself lost. For example, when Elias and Solomon leave their interviews at the American Embassy Chad mentions something about "five thousand U.S. and I could have been out of this shitty place", and I was suddenly confused - did the police interviewing him when he went to the American Embassy ask for a bribe of five thousand to let him out? Did Elias and Solomon pay that bribe? This sort of confusion happened several times throughout the script.

3 stars

Emotion:

While your characters were well-defined and sympathetic, I didn't really feel too much emotion throughout the script because I predicted most of what was going to happen. As soon as Solomon mentioned he was dating Ieda I knew SPOILER he would die and Elias would escape/SPOILER. I wasn't particularly invested in any of the characters besides those two, either.

Additionally, I had trouble feeling for Elias because I didn't really understand his motivations. He's introduced doing stand-up comedy, he says he wants to become an American stand-up comedian like 80s Eddie Murphy, but when he gets to America he doesn't follow through with this - if he did, it would be emotional. Alternatively, the events he survives in Eslee could teach him that there are some things in life that it's worth being serious about and he could become an activist as he does in the current ending - this would also be a fitting emotional conclusion, but right now it feels unearned. Right now we just see him start as a stand-up, then it switches over to Solomon being the main character for a while, then we end with Elias acting out of character by writing a non-fiction book - because Solomon is the focus in the middle of the story we don't see Elias' emotional journey that leads him to become the sort of person who would write an exposé rather than a comedy routine.

2 stars


Overall:

This script has a fair amount of potential in the form of an interesting setting and sympathetic leads, but currently it lacks the structure that would make it a compelling story. I'd recommend doing another draft of this script specifically with the 3 act structure in mind, knowing fully that you will later do one more draft that you can use to put back any personal touches you miss. That way you won't have to be afraid to try new things with it, remove stuff you love, conglomerate characters and plot points, etc...

http://www.scriptxray.com/writing-a-screenplay-with-the-syd-field-3-act-paradigm/

I feel that as the story stands right now you could easily lose the opening in Ethiopia and the ending in America, the real meat of the story happens in Eslee and this other stuff dragged the story down for me. Additionally, I'd either give Zee more of a unique purpose in the story or combine his character with the Kana character to make one unified main villain.

I've heard Christopher Nolan said when writing and editing The Dark Knight that he removed or rewrote until every single scene served 3 purposes in the story. While every story might not demand such rigorous trimming down, I'd definitely recommend you go over your current script and ask yourself what message you're trying to send with this story, and what purpose every scene and character serves towards sending that message. Make sure it's consistent throughout and within every scene.

3 Stars
 

Wicked Creatures, Brian's Original Draft

2 out of 2 people found the following review helpful:

Cool idea, needs to be funnier and scarier, tone and character issues

Overall Recommendation:
3 stars
 
Premise:
4 stars
 
Story structure:
4 stars
 
Character:
2 stars
 
Dialogue:
4 stars
 
Emotion:
2 stars
 
October 08, 2011
I'm afraid I can't really discuss this one without getting into spoilers, so be warned.

Premise:

The premise here is pretty good in theory. You essentially have a group of twenty/thirtysomethings accidentally getting involved with a vampire laying siege on a town of werewolves. However, I've got to mention that this isn't the most original idea. The Howling did the concept of a town of werewolves before, and once Cowboy is revealed to be a vampire he becomes a pretty standard "powerful vampire" character straight out of Fright Night or even Dracula. And when we consider the site we're posting on - if you click on the "Scripts" tab you see The Temple (basically a zombie script), Pack Behavior (werewolves), Devil's Pass (werewolves and cowboys), ZvG (Zombies and Gladiators), Pray for Dawn (vampires), and My Gun, She is Quick (cowboys) (and now we're getting into my personal experiences) but I've also reviewed The Good, The Bad, and The Undead (zombies and cowboys)). I have to admit that I was pretty excited by the title, hoping to see something new - but was a little disappointed to see that it was just more werewolves, vampires, and even a cowboy. At least there weren't zombies.

The other problem I have with the premise is a logical one - not sure it's quite a plothole, but it's an issue that bugged me more and more as it continued to go unaddressed. This is a premise that works great for one night every month, but what does this town do the rest of the month? It's stated that Cowboy needs to feed every night, so we know at least one person is dying every night. This is a small town, how many people can they afford to lose before they call someone to help them, no matter how preposterous it sounds? Alternatively, Cowboy has to sleep during the day, so why don't they just take the doors off their hinges and hunt him down then? Maybe this is explained by the slow onset of the werewolfism. Cowboy didn't attack so much, but as the town became werewolves he felt the need to hide less and attacked more, and the town began to feel they could fight back with their new powers. However, this still doesn't solve the problem since the population of the town is human and completely helpless for twenty-nine nights out of every month. They're still pretty screwed, so why wouldn't they call for help or just move out of the town?

Which brings us to werewolfism: I have no idea how it's supposed to work in this story. With regards to transforming, it appears that it's the full moon that transforms them rather than emotion (like in The Howling, for example). However, it's not clear what the rules are for how moonlight transforms them. Most of the werewolves stay werewolves when they aren't in direct contact with moonlight, but Wes doesn't transform until he actually enters the moonlight.

The bigger issue with werewolfism in this script is one of memory and control. Do the townspeople remember what they did as werewolves when they transform back? Do they have control over their actions as werewolves or are they mindless animals? Stories have been told both ways in the past, but I'm not clear on what the rules are supposed to be here. There are logical/moral/story problems either way.

If the werewolves have no control over their actions then every time one is killed an innocent person is dying - that's not very funny, it's actually kind of tragic.
If they do have control over their actions, then why are they attacking innocent people? Are they evil cannibals or something?
In which case, story-wise why even bother having them be werewolves if they're just as dangerous when they're not in wolf form?
But if they don't have control, then logically you have to explain why they don't immediately alert authorities when they turn normal because people are dying and their town in completely trashed.
And story-wise, giving them no control would ruin your ending - there'd be no way to assume they'd take vengeance on Cowboy, no way to assume Wes would attack Cowboy instead of Brandon and Penny, and his ending would become tragic.

Right now it feels like werewolfism works however you need it to for a particular scene.

Structure:

1-10: Intro characters
11: spooky clerk foreshadowing
17: first blood
21: first werewolf
24: intro Cowboy
25: They decide to go to the school
39: They make it to the school
49: Cowboy=vampire
75: They form a plan to survive the night
78: They get split up
85/86: Lowest point? Wes presumed dead and the other two stuck with only five shots left.
92: Or here? Where they've run out of ammo and Cowboy reveals he's still alive. Doesn't last long and it's a little late for a final complication, though.
94-97: Resolution

Hook, intro, situation established and moving to a new location by pg 25, mid-point turn at page 49, Act 3 turn on pg 75
Follows the Three Act Structure pretty well, but I've got to subtract a star for the subplot with Brandon having cold feet for his wedding to Penny. It's clearly meant to be the character-based subplot that gives emotional drive to the movie, but while the mechanics of it work the motivations are entirely off and it was the single biggest problem that stuck out to me - with the exception of one scene, both of which I'll discuss further in the Character section.

Character:

This is where it all falls apart for me. While there are minor-ish nitpicks with the logic behind the plot, that could all be glossed over if we were following characters we liked. However, I actively disliked every character in this script - some by design (Debbie), and others who disliking them ruined the plot for me (Penny). In order to explain this, I'll break down all the character introductions.

Brandon - First met complaining about his fiance. At this point, we don't know his fiance, so we don't know how to feel about this. Are we supposed to be rooting for him to grow up, ditch his friends, and get married? Are we supposed to be hoping he gets out from under this controlling bitch's thumb? Complaining is no way to first meet a character we're supposed to like, so we don't really like Brandon at first. At best, we feel indifferent towards him. Adding a simple Save the Cat moment might help us to understand that he's more than just some frat bro with a girlfriend he doesn't like.
Wes - Wes becomes likable by the end, though that's not saying much relative to the other characters. However, when we first meet him he's a crude asshole. There's a difference between fun comic relief Seth Rogen-type character and the type of dude who humps the air while talking about boning your fiance. What do we know about him from their first conversation - he's looking for a place to live, he's overweight, he drinks too much and still hangs out with his friends from his frat nearly ten years later, he's crude, while Brandon is trying to talk about a serious life decision he makes dick jokes. I get the type of character you're going for here, but it's a little too much right now and stays that way until people start dying.
Penny - Seems fairly normal. Compared to the others she's even likable, but that's not saying much. My problems with her start when she learns that Brandon was considering calling off the wedding:
A) She doesn't know how serious he was about it and immediately assumes the worst.
B) She's upset that he considered not marrying her, so the first thing she does is call the wedding off. Kind of counterintuitive.
C) She doesn't try to save the relationship at all, jumping straight to making snide comments that feel incredibly petty and representative of a messed up set of values considering their current life or death situation.
Kai - no character at all.
Darcy - Cartoonishly emotionless, makes so little effort to interact with the others that it's mean, and later we learn both that she possesses no value for human life, and that she's crazy enough to sacrifice herself to a vampire - assuming vampires are exactly like in the movies.
Debbie - intentionally unlikable, I get it. But why make a character intentionally unlikable? Do you want to annoy the audience as much as your characters? She was so annoying the other characters didn't even mourn her death. Even her own husband got over it in like an hour! Why even include her if even the most extreme action you can take with her character (killing her off) is going to produce no effect? I guess she provided for a little comedy in the first act.
Roland - Well, he's more likable than Debbie. Or is he more likable only in comparison to Debbie? He acts like a prick about the SUV, and even when he "loosens up" he's still a hateful bastard - when he learns that the label says "man sauce" he instantly assumes it was an intentional plot to embarrass him by his nephew who he claims "always hated me". He's pretty useless later when they're fighting werewolves, and just serves to bitch at the others about his wife for a while before unrealistically getting over it.
Cowboy - the problem with Cowboy is that he becomes a completely different character once he reveals himself to be a vampire, effectively wasting all the time we've spent with him up to that point. As a "human" he comes across as a character like Raylan Givens on the tv show "Justified" - a stubborn lawman with a moral code harsher than the laws he enforces - who's enjoying this opportunity to take payback for injustices he wasn't able to right legally under normal circumstances. As a vampire he seems like the typical Powerful Vampire Lord. He's pompous, Evil (with a capital E), sadistic, has a massive labyrinthine home that he traps people in. I say he's pompous because he really has no other reason than pride to keep chasing the humans. If he let them go they'd never make it past the werewolves and his secret would be safe, and it's established that he doesn't need the blood, so he must just not be able to stand losing. We get no set-up of that kind of personality before his reveal, so it feels like a totally different character.

Okay, now we have to talk about why I hated Penny. Which means we have to talk about the scene that made me really begin hating Penny. The scene with Selene. First of all, let's remember that sex has never been graphically discussed prior to this - Cowboy never looks the girls in the group over lustfully, he rejects Darcy's offer to be his vampire bride, etc... - and the tone has generally been that of a goofy horror/comedy. Even the death of a major character's wife wasn't allowed to change the tone to "serious". Out of nowhere, the characters seem to step onto the set of "Martyrs".

Now let me clarify that I'm not a prude. In the proper context damn near anything is acceptable to be shown in a film. I watched "A Serbian Film" and barely batted an eye (thanks 4chan!). My problem here is not with content, but with tone and story. This scene is so out-of-tone with the rest of the script that I'm not quite sure you understand how fucked-up this concept is. You have a young girl, who's been kept in a dog cage for four months, tortured and raped the entire time, knowing that her entire family is dead, having witnessed a pregnancy, miscarriage, and murder while trapped in this room, carrying an inhuman child, a completely broken human being begging for death - and you're making JOKES?!

You have Penny (who we're supposed to continue to like for the rest of this script) belittling Brandon for having a moment's hesitation in mercy-killing this girl, because she's still feeling slighted over Brandon's cold feet. This situation doesn't put anything in perspective for her? The fact that any of these characters can wipe this girl's brain matter off of their faces and continue on as normal completely kills their likability for me.

And in story terms it's a scene that serves no purpose. You're introducing a concept that could be it's own subplot - hell, it could be its own movie - and then discarding it in the space of a scene, never to be mentioned again (except for one line that doesn't amount to much).

Moving on... Right now the cold feet subplot doesn't really work because we don't really feel an inner life for Brandon or Penny - they don't feel like three-dimensional characters. We don't get the little steps along the way that make the final turn (Brandon deciding he is in love with Penny and going to marry her) feel earned. It just seems like he has a personal problem with Penny (she's smothering him), then some monster fighting happens, then she finds out and bitches at him for half the movie, then they realize they're in the middle of Act 3 already so they need to make up.

In order to fix this, I'd recommend removing the entire part of the subplot where Penny finds out that Brandon has cold feet. Considering they could die at any moment a case of cold feet should be a non-issue, so any time it gets brought up it feels so incredibly petty on the part of whichever of them is complaining that one can't help but start to hate both Brandon and Penny.

This is Brandon's story so it should be his issue. If his chief conflict is going to be that he's having second thoughts about Penny, this should be part of a larger character flaw - the most obvious example would be commitment issues. Maybe at the beginning Brandon is either debating whether he should propose or he's already called off the wedding but he and Penny are still together on relatively good terms, he has commitment issues, we hear about how he's lost out on good things in the past because of them (he could make more than Roland, but he didn't take a better job because he'd have had to commit to a big move, for example), because of the werewolf/vampire situation he's forced to get over his commitment issues by making a bunch of life or death decisions, at the end he proposes/tells her the wedding is back on.

Dialogue:

Good for the most part. A few minor cases of plot points or character details being verbalized a little too on-the-nose for my liking. Some clever lines, but occasionally your wording seems overly complex. That may ruin a few jokes, so I'd recommend you read all the dialogue out loud to see if it sounds okay when spoken rather than read. Film is a visual medium, so the more you can do with stage action to pare the dialogue down to only what's necessary for the joke, the better.

There are also a number of cases where a little setup for a joke would go a long way to making the joke funnier. More likable characters would go a long way toward generating audience goodwill that could make the jokes get more laughs, too.

Emotion:

Since I didn't really care about any of the characters I didn't feel any happiness when they escaped death or sadness when they were killed. However, I can't give you a 1 star here because you did manage to make me feel a lot of anger towards Penny, a little towards Brandon, and bad for Selene.

Overall:

There are two types of horror comedies:
1) Those that are about the genre itself, poking fun at its tropes (April Fool's Day, Scream, Scary Movie, Gremlins 2)
2) Those that are examples of the genre that happen to be particularly funny (An American Werewolf in London, Shaun of the Dead)

As it stands, Wicked Creatures is neither of these. It doesn't have significantly more laughs than many 'straight' horror movies. The only thing that gives this away as a horror/comedy (other than the scene where they discuss the movies Blade and Van Helsing) is the tone. It's a light tone that doesn't really treat the deaths seriously enough to qualify as a serious horror movie, and the deaths aren't original enough for it to just be a splatter movie (like Final Destination or something where people don't come to see a story, but rather to see a bunch of creative kills).

In order to make this into a type 1 horror/comedy you need to come up with more original takes on the concepts you're dealing with here - Like the scene where they talk about "Blade" and "Van Helsing"

In order to make this into a type 2 horror/comedy you need to make the characters more three-dimensional, or at least more likable. I'm sure you've seen it, but rewatch "Shaun of the Dead". Listen to Edgar Wright's commentary track and/or this third-party commentary track: http://www.downinfront.net/audio/commentary-10-2-SHAUN.mp3

I'd wager "Shaun" is one of the most perfectly-scripted movies of the past ten years, and it deals with characters of a similar age and place in their lives as Wicked Creatures, working out relationship issues under attack from monsters, often being assholes to each other, and yet they all come across as likable because they're three-dimensional characters. We can relate to three-dimensional characters, so we can forgive them for being assholes - we're all assholes sometimes. Shaun has a strong emotional motivation that the audience can relate to (his desire to get his girlfriend back and get his life in order), and that drives all of his actions in the movie while simultaneously effecting all the other characters' emotional motivations.

On top of all that, "Shaun of the Dead" is screamingly hilarious from the first scene on. That's the big problem with the script right now: it's not funny enough, so instead of feeling like a horror/comedy it feels like a horror movie that's not scary enough. This wouldn't be so damaging if we had three-dimensional characters who we liked to fall back on, but we don't have that either.
 

The Miati, Christina's Original Draft

0 out of 0 people found the following review helpful:

A truly epic story... maybe a even a little too epic...

Overall Recommendation:
3 stars
 
Premise:
4 stars
 
Story structure:
2 stars
 
Character:
3 stars
 
Dialogue:
3 stars
 
Emotion:
3 stars
 
September 30, 2011
There was something off about this script for me. I'm having trouble saying exactly what it is. It's like your script and its characters exist in a quantum state: they appear to be solid and three-dimensional until directly observed.

I think a large part of my difficulty with this story is the large number of secondary characters. I had a very difficult time remembering who was who, what their relationships with one another and their related tribes and associations were. Part of that is almost definitely my personal preferences - stories with a large number of characters scheming in different directions always confuse me - and with a script I don't even have faces to associate with names. A great example of exactly what I mean is the opening scenes. Virtually the first thing we're presented with is a roundtable discussion among 6 characters, only 2 of whom (Clype and Morghanna) become important to the story. These characters refer to a number of other tribes, people, locations, and rankings that the audience will be unfamiliar with. Most of these things are explained fairly well, but it' so dense that one almost feels too intimidated to continue reading. Ultimately, the only thing I gather is important from this entire exchange is that we understand that the tribes are divided and being conquered by the Romans, and we learn what a Legatus is. This sort of thing peppers the entire script, there is little economy of characters and we're introducing new and important secondary characters well into the third act. This can be confusing, especially in a story that already concerns the interweaving relationships of both a fair number of primary characters and social groups.

A structural problem related to this, I didn't understand whose story this was until far too late in the game. From the opening, it appears to be the story of Clype. After that, it looks like it will be Firth's story with Morghanna as his love interest. Later it appears this will be the story of their daughter Erin's love across social boundaries with the Legionnaire Yiberious. Then SPOILER they both die and it becomes Morghanna's story of revenge. Though it really shouldn't be revenge, as the poisoning was an accident. And her actual goal winds up not being revenge, but resetting the Romans' boundaries to their previous area and mediating a peace with the various tribes. /SPOILER The goal doesn't really fit in with the motivation, so the entire second act feels like a red herring. And speaking of unresolved plot threads, the conflict between Erin and the Legionnaires never really felt adequately resolved to me.

On the plus side, your characters are generally distinct - Nonus, in particular, was something of a scene stealer as one can't help but picture him as flamingly gay in the Bride of Frankenstein "Dr. Praetorius" sense - however, I'd have liked to see more of them. I get the feeling that Morghanna was very proud of her native culture in a way that Firth couldn't relate to, creating a rift between them and ultimately leading her to the places she goes in the final act. I think focusing on this relationship more, cutting down on some of the subplots and side characters would make the whole story feel more urgent and cause the more tragic aspects of the story to pack a greater emotional punch.

The same sort of streamlining could apply to many areas of the script. The opening battle sequence might be a good way to draw viewers in if this were a film, but as a script action is often less fun to read than dialogue-based scenes. As it is, this sequence really doesn't do a whole lot for the story or to draw in the reader. You use it to set up Morghanna and Firth's personality types and the relationship Clype develops with Nonus, but since the story winds up drifting away from Morghanna and Firth's relationship this feels wasted right now. I'm tempted to suggest cutting it, but if you do decide to focus more on their relationship in later drafts this sequence might fit in better.

You build the story up to a very interesting climax as the tribes take over the fort and perpetuate the illusion of normality, however the momentum grinds to a halt as the scene gives way to yet another lengthy roundtable negotiation scene regarding sums the tribes demand to be paid, etc... Business negotiations - even at sword point - do not a good finale make.

Two points regarding Morghanna's arc:
1) I didn't understand her relationship with Ulpius at all. At first it made enough sense as she was trying to get information out of him, but near the end it seemed as though she had genuine feelings for him. This seemed totally unmotivated as Ulpius was hardly even established as a character, the two seemed to spend very little time together, and their goals are diametrically opposed. If she's supposed to still be using sex as a negotiating tactic, it seems to weaken her skills as a negotiator.
2) I don't understand her turn after SPOILER her family dies /SPOILER initially it seems as though she's going after revenge on Nonus - though his part in the events was accidental - which I would understand. It's a terrible thing and he's the most directly responsible. But she never really seems to take that revenge, allowing him to stay alive in exchange for more gold for the tribes. This, combined with the way she's shown as the one to do nearly everything productive in the final battle and negotiation makes her feel like a bit of a Mary Sue (http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/MarySue)

And one formatting note:
The subtitling instructions seemed a bit unclear. Latin appears to be subtitled in most cases, but it I'm not sure what language is being spoken in sequences where the language isn't noted, or if it's subtitled. Other languages pop up, so it could be any one of those, and you refer to English sometimes - does this mean antiquated English that they may have actually spoken in ancient Britain at this time or is it just referring to the Hollywood convention of having the standard language always be modern English? Ultimately, this isn't really that important because it's likely that if this script were made the director would choose how to use various languages and subtitling himself. Since this never really becomes a major plot point, it might be advantageous just to drop detailed mention of language entirely.

Overall, this script shows a lot of promise. Your writing style is good, there's a wealth of character and world-related detail, and the arc I think you intend to focus on (Morghanna's) is strong, and is easily the most entertaining part of the story right now. I'd recommend focusing the script on that arc, eliminating most character and world detail that's not immediately important to her story, and focusing on Nonus as the bad guy.
 

Moonlight Meadow, Branden's 3rd Draft

1 out of 1 people found the following review helpful:

Confusing

Overall Recommendation:
3 stars
 
Premise:
4 stars
 
Story structure:
2 stars
 
Character:
4 stars
 
Dialogue:
2 stars
 
Emotion:
3 stars
 
September 26, 2011
This script was very confusing to me. I've thought about it and I've deduced that there are two main reasons for this: tone and contrivance.

It feels like there are very specific ideas that you want to convey in this story - images, character types, plot elements - but it struggles to get from one to another effectively.

Those images - the multitude of staircases in the palace, the bombing of the city, Alyssa and the guards - are very cool. The main characters are distinct and mostly three-dimensional, even the side characters tend to be more than simple stock cutouts. Finally, the idea of the plot - a secret agent's first case winds up leading him to protect a princess that SPOILER turns out to be a benevolent member of a godlike race that wants to take dominion over Earth /SPOILER and they must fight to prevent that from happening - is pretty damned cool.

However, nearly every other aspect of the story feels either like filler or major contrivance just to get to the good parts. For example, Francine and Alyssa are willing to commit murder in the open streets in order to prevent Myra from becoming next in line for the throne - but when they get to the Black Unicorn Cafe they put their murderous plans on hold as the result of peer pressure from some older showgirls. While this does make for an interesting "Temple of Doom"-like setpiece where they have to go along with a song-and-dance while trying to get at Myra, the entire situation is so unrealistic and out-of-character given what's come before that it ruins any chance the audience will take the scene on its own merits. This same type of contrivance applies to many points in the story: a princess doesn't know how to get to the palace in her own capitol city, neither she nor the OSS agent think to ask anyone for directions, no one in the town knows what the princess looks like, the robbers decide to come back later to finish robbing the house, etc...

You have many pieces of exposition that get repeated: revealed to new characters as they come along, independently realized by other characters, etc... When characters fill other characters in on plot points that we've already seen Craig and other characters learn it feels extremely redundant - like when we see Alyssa learn her origin, then Craig learns the girls' origins, then Alyssa fills Myra in on the details of her origin. The audience has to hear that same information three times.

I found this script so confusing that I actually think I might not be "getting it", which is why I brought up tone. Maybe I missed it and Moonlight Meadow was supposed to be a dreamlike place where time and space have no meaning and logic no dominion - like Silent Hill, or Willy Wonka's Chocolate Factory, or The Twilight Zone, or Oz (not the prison), or the TARDIS, or Mulholland Drive. This would make the contrivances a lot more forgivable. But even if that was the intention, right now it's pretty unclear. The tone also varies wildly from serious/scary to romantic/zany even within a single scene: the dance number, Francine's entire character, SPOILER Myra's death /SPOILER etc...

The ending was also underwhelming. You set us up for SPOILER an epic battle between humans and near-invincible godlike beings... or at the very least Myra vs Alyssa fighting using their godlike powers /SPOILER, but mostly all we got was Alyssa fighting Zach for a while and then running away.

Overall:
The characters are well drawn, and the plot interesting - we just need to learn about these things in more interesting ways. In terms of structure and tone, it's all over the place. It feels more like a chunk out of an episodic narrative than a traditional Three Act structure. The dialogue could use some work - the ideas and characters are there, it just needs to flow more naturalistically and break up the more massive chunks of exposition into manageable bite-sizes.
 

Sinbad and The Secrets of Pandora, Tommy's 9th Draft

2 out of 2 people found the following review helpful:

About a Draft Shy of Perfect Hollywood Spectacle

Overall Recommendation:
4 stars
 
Premise:
4 stars
 
Story structure:
5 stars
 
Character:
4 stars
 
Dialogue:
5 stars
 
Emotion:
3 stars
 
September 23, 2011
This script is good. Other than a few minor technical problems or things that could be explained better - which I'll note for you in StudioMail - there's very little here that I'd wager absolutely needs to be rethought.

What you've pulled off here near-flawlessly is conveying the tone of a big Hollywood adventure movie that just doesn't give a fuck - think latter-day Disney movies like Tangled or Pirates of the Caribbean. Are there flaws? Sure - we never really believe the protagonist is in danger because he never takes his situation seriously enough, he's impossibly witty and never lets us forget it, the narrative relies on coincidence or sheer luck to get its characters out of corners they're written into, and it ratchets up those situations into ridiculousness in an attempt to impart a little drama despite the fact we know the protagonists will never be harmed, cultures and mythologies are jammed together at random, anachronisms abound... but none of that really matters because this FEELS like the sort of big Hollywood movie that would have these problems and make half a billion dollars anyway.

While there's little about this script that necessarily demands to be changed, there is room for improvement.

1) Define your world. Until most of the way through the Act 2 of your script I was under the impression that this took place in a world like Zack Snyder's 300 - where magic isn't real, but ignorant characters refer to advanced technology for the time period as "magic". Suddenly we're seeing Satyrs and talking to gods and it's treated entirely matter-of-factly, like "Oh, yeah. This is the type of script you were reading, didn't you get the memo?" While I buy that the story takes place in a crazy mythological world where anything can happen, it'd be nice if it established some sort of rules.
"Oh, no! We're stuck on this island-- Never mind, there's a giant bird we can fly out on"
is fine, but
"How are they going to get out of this one-- Oh shit! There's that giant bird they mentioned earlier! I thought they were just fleshing out the world more, but here it has saved their asses!"
is better.

2) Your characters' motivations are almost universally rather muddled and thin. King Khalaf wants to destroy the world so that he can rebuild it into a world he controls - though he already controls the world... which I'm actually okay with. He's evil just because, yeah, it's that sort of movie. But your other characters should have motivations. Why is Cyrus now Khalaf's lap dog when he and Sinbad used to be such great friends? Sinbad wants the Box, but only for the potential profit - the issue that it's essentially a Bronze Age WMD and selling it might be more dangerous than it's worth, or the possibility of using it to gain power, or to earn more money by holding the world ransom aren't really discussed. Anesidora rags on him for being amoral and only interested in profit, but he doesn't really learn a lesson. He comes back to stop the world from being destroyed and that's about it - he ends the movie on another quest for treasure. Anesidora has even more potential for motivation that gets lost in muddled story threads. SPOILER She's actually Pandora, and gets upset with Sinbad for being amoral - this makes sense because his goal is essentially to sell the world to the highest bidder, a course of action only possible because of a mistake she made. If this were played up it would provide interesting motivation for her character and an interesting conflict between them, but right now I can't tell if that's an intended story thread or not. She gets angry with him, but it could just be because she doesn't like violence/his attitude. Cyrus even says that she doesn't remember that she's Pandora, which would effectively strip the story of that potential conflict and make her just "some girl" for the majority of the movie. /SPOILER Hell, even Khalaf's motivation for hating Sinbad is a little weak - Sinbad stole a government ship he happened to be using years ago. You're King now, dude - get over it.

Get ready for a slight departure, but don't worry I'm bringing it all together by the last paragraph. There's a podcast that I listen to called Down in Front (www.downinfront.net) that has a concept they call a "Perfect Movie". This doesn't mean that the movie in question is the most heartbreaking work of staggering genius of all time, but rather that it seems to accomplish everything it set out to do and meet every expectation it led you to have of it. By this definition, something like 12 Angry Men would be a perfect movie, but so would something like the first Pirates of the Caribbean - one would walk out of either of those thinking that it did just about everything you could do with the concept (and tone) in question and paid off everything it set up. Sinbad and the Secrets of Pandora does the first thing you want to do if you set out to make a Perfect Movie: it sets a low goal. It just wants to be entertaining, and that's what it does.

However, my interpretation of the Perfect Movie is a little more strict - I'd say that a Perfect Movie has to meet every expectation it sets up both consciously and unconsciously. Walking into Transformers 2, the only expectation one would be likely to vocalize if asked would be to see giant robots fighting, realized with good special effects. So why was Transformers 2 almost universally panned? Because unconsciously people expect a movie that has structure, set in a world that feels internally consistent, and a story doesn't switch Macguffins every other scene, or mix potty humor with multimillion dollar sci-fi action.

Right now your script meets the basic definition of a Perfect Movie, but doesn't quite live up to the more thorough definition. One more draft, clarifying a few motives or providing stronger motivations and being just slightly more strict about setting up every big event that comes up later in the movie (A rule I've heard is that the audience will accept coincidence making characters' situations worse, but reject it if it coincidentally solves their problems for them) will make the script stronger - more than just an enjoyable read, but a memorable one as well.

As it stands, this is easily a 4 out of 5 star script.
 

Favorite Movies

The Fountain
Crank
Wall-E
The Man Who Fell to Earth
RoboCop
 

Influences

Darren Aronofsky
Luc Besson
Paul Thomas Anderson
Edgar Wright
Paul Verhoeven
 

Following

6 People

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