Overall Recommendation:
4.6 stars
(7)
5 Stars:
57.14%
(4)
 
4 Stars:
42.86%
(3)
 
3 Stars:
0%
(0)
 
2 Stars:
0%
(0)
 
1 Stars:
0%
(0)
 
Premise:
4.4 stars
(7)
 
Story structure:
4.3 stars
(7)
 
Character:
4.4 stars
(7)
 
Dialogue:
4.3 stars
(7)
 
Emotion:
4.6 stars
(7)
 
 
1-7 of 7 reviews
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0 out of 1 people found the following review helpful:

Page Turner

Overall Recommendation:
4 stars
 
Premise:
5 stars
 
Story structure:
4 stars
 
Character:
5 stars
 
Dialogue:
4 stars
 
Emotion:
5 stars
 
April 23, 2011
The Tavern by Carl S

Review of first 30 pages.

Big picture items:

The writer is very competent at writing a screenplay. No complaints with the formatting or style. He uses economical language and writes in a manner that moves the reader along.

There is some hook in those opening 30 pages, it leaves us wondering why the incident occurred (what forced Cyrus, by all accounts a reasonable person, to act in such a callous manner), but that opening scene takes much of the suspense that could be possible away. SPOILER ALERT: We see that the mysterious stranger Cyrus is a murderer.

There seems to be a lot of tea drinking in the screenplay. I would worry that with the onscreen rain, and the tea drinking scenes that the audience will have to take potty breaks! Seriously though, you may want to occupy the characters in other ways if possible in place of some of the tea drinking scenes.

Dialog seems pretty good except for a few spots where it seems a bit archaic and few spots where it is a bit on the nose. The archaic spots are a problem in period pieces. It’s a fine line between setting a period feel and actually writing dialog as they would have spoken. Most of the time you handle it quite well; I’ve noted a few places below where I think it was a bit archaic and a bit on the nose.

Pg 3 (Archaic)
Cyrus
Are you there!? Come kill me then
and put this cursed soul to rest.

Pg 6 (on the nose)
Thorfin
And I say dreams get distorted in
the glimmer of gold. The value of
your dreams comes in the striving
for them, not in the purchasing.


In the second example, you could leave off the following:

“The value of your dreams comes in the striving
for them, not in the purchasing.”

And we would still get the idea. I do like the line, however, it does come off as a bit preachy.

This could easily be made into a movie fairly cheaply, (actually, you should consider making it into a stage play, if the rest of the screenplay is set in the same tavern it would be an easy transition).

No nit-picky details to pick on; the writing is quite good.


Good luck with it Carl!
 
1 out of 2 people found the following review helpful:

One Draft Away

Overall Recommendation:
4 stars
 
Premise:
4 stars
 
Story structure:
4 stars
 
Character:
4 stars
 
Dialogue:
5 stars
 
Emotion:
4 stars
 
April 12, 2011
I think your first scene gives us way too much information right now. On the first page we find out that Cyrus is a vicious killer. He kills women and children. We know right away he's a bad guy.

I would suggest cutting up that first scene. Dribble this info out to us in flashback.

You can still have the scene. Just limit what we see. For instance, we open with a woman's scream. And the soldier steps up to the tent flaps and he's stabbed. And the man in black rides away. And we hear Stillwell yelling behind him. "God's wrath upon you!"

You should save the dead woman and children for much later in the story. I think we should have suspicions, not certainty. When the people in the tavern find out that Cyrus is a killer, they have a strong emotional reaction. But we've been carrying this knowledge for the whole movie. It blunts what should be a climactic moment.

"There's but one kind of man out on a night like this."

"What kind'd that be?"

Don't answer that! Leave that question open. Cyrus is the answer. He walks in before Thor can say what he was going to say.

Why do we have an iguana in this story? That’s weird. Kinda funny, too. Do you want people laughing at the iguana? I'm not sure about that damn iguana. Would Darth Vader call out for his iguana?

You might work on making Cyrus more subtle with his racism. Right now it’s like a hammer. You might want to think of ways to make it more like a dagger.

I think your dialog is excellent for the most part. I avoid period pieces because I doubt my ability to write authentic dialog. So I commend you for your bravery and what sounds pretty authentic to my ear. But I also think you have to be real careful with this sort of dialog as it can veer over into melodrama and suck the serious right out of your story.

For instance, when Cyrus dies he says this: "I go to die. I go to face...justice." It's such a phony way to die. You shoot me, I say, "Ow!" And some four-letter words and some nine-letter words. But people really did talk that way. That's the hellish part of crafting a melodramatic personality and making him seem authentic.

You have this problem with Thor, too, a bit. "Leave this Viking to his fate!"

I did get a stage play vibe from this material. What makes a screenplay feel like a play? One location. Lots of dialog. Emoting characters who have lots of feelings and they feel them in a big way. People talking about stuff that happens off-screen. You can’t do much about #1 or #2, but you can maybe work on #3 and #4. You might try some cinematic tricks, too. Montage. Going out of sequence. Watch Dark Passage for ideas on radical point of view shots.
 
2 out of 3 people found the following review helpful:

There may be an issue with the inciting incident.

Overall Recommendation:
5 stars
 
Premise:
3 stars
 
Story structure:
4 stars
 
Character:
3 stars
 
Dialogue:
5 stars
 
Emotion:
5 stars
 
April 06, 2011
My primary concern on reading this has to do with the inciting incident: the murder of Captain Sitwell's wife and two daughters. I believe the general feeling with screenplays is to have a sympathetic lead character. I wonder how the judges will view this when they consider this script. You might want to consider concealing the fact of these murders until the third act, and have it come out in the dialogue with Thorfinn, Twigs, and Adelaide.

Tied in with this is the issue of Cyrus's character. I don't see any arc to it. He goes to his grave the same, bitter, vengeful man he was when he arrived at the inn. If he was to feel remorse for the murders at the end, before he died, and did something to atone for it - perhaps by saving Twig's life - I think it would better fulfill the dramatic needs of the story.

The screenplay is very well written. The dialogue sounds authentic to the time period, yet it is accessible to modern ears.

The limited locations is (are?) the greatest strength and the greatest liability of the structure. At times, it seems dialogue heavy, particularly in the second act. Yet that also makes it economical to produce. I get the feeling that this could also work as a stage play with a little rewriting.

I'm torn between giving it a four and a five. I'm going with a five because it's so well written. I noticed that it is appearing on the New & Notable list. I believe that there is a good chance it will make the Semifinals and perhaps beyond. If I were you I would wait to see how it does before doing any rewrites. If you do decide to rewrite, then you might consider my thoughts on character and the inciting incident.
 
1 out of 3 people found the following review helpful:

THE TAVERN review

Overall Recommendation:
5 stars
 
Premise:
5 stars
 
Story structure:
4 stars
 
Character:
5 stars
 
Dialogue:
4 stars
 
Emotion:
5 stars
 
April 06, 2011
This is the most well-crafted contained script I've ever read. Keeping a story contained and the cast small without losing the audience is extremely hard to do but you've managed. Because of the historical nature of the script I think it would find a larger audience in theater than on the big screen... but I'm sure you've heard many times now that The Tavern lends itself perfectly to be a play.
There are only a few things I'd work on and they go hand in hand. In terms of structure, there are times when things go up and down... from excitement back to sipping tea or playing chess. That's not necessarily unnatural but maybe you need smoother transitions or some device that justifies this.
Some of the conversations drag on a bit too much and because it's a contained historical piece you run the risk of boring the reader/audience. The great part here is that you have about 5 pages you can definitely cut and your length is still just fine. So, I'd really consider tightening some conversations.
The talisman, the iguana, the clock, the demonic-style visions surrounding Cyrus are all extremely clever devices to keep up the tension. Considering all that is going on inside and outside the tavern, I think I would up the level of cabin-fever type behavior of your characters. It's there already but I would intensify it.
There were a couple of moments that made me smirk and I feel for as heavy of a piece this is you need one or two instances that are truly, truly funny to really bring out the humanity of everyone.

Overall, I really love this script. I have no doubt it'll be successful in one form or another. Great job and best of luck!
 
3 out of 3 people found the following review helpful:

MOLEHILL BECOMES MOUNTAIN

Overall Recommendation:
5 stars
 
Premise:
5 stars
 
Story structure:
4 stars
 
Character:
5 stars
 
Dialogue:
5 stars
 
Emotion:
5 stars
 
April 02, 2011
Once I got into the script, all those discussions on the forums re: small movies vs. big ones became moot. This is less limited in visuals than I formerly thought. And a full-bodied drama that makes apologies to no one. Some period research is evident and it gives the reader a welcome peek into the rustic world of the American frontier. And the desperate straights of a Fort Apache mise en scene makes the project gripping.

Premise.
A fine historical setting in a little-talked about American war (or rather the situation leading up to , with conflict on the mind. Drake is not only a vengeful murderer, but also a doctor. A healer taking life with a vengeance—some bitter irony there.
5 stars.

Structure.
The layout of this scenario made sense in the reading. Common act breaks and plot points were less obvious to me than they might have been. But their absence was no impediment to connecting with and appreciating the drama.
4 stars.

Character.
Very full-bodied personages, some more tragic than others. The Drake character is near stereotype—the passionate and wounded Southern Gentleman—while Thor is his rustic counter, hale and hearty survivor of the Revolutionary War nearly 4 decades before and full of energy beyond his middle age. Adelaide is kind, desirable, peace-loving but can become a spitfire and courageous in the moment. Twigs is an early example of a person until recently gripped by slavery and guilt for inadvertently causing his mother’s death at the hands of a slave owner. The Brit Sitwell is single-minded—the equal of Drake who is his implied foe. At one level—and time in the story--Drake is the antagonist; but it’s Sitwell at another.
5 stars.

Dialogue
Given the obvious filmic need to make period language understood by present day audiences while communicating a range of emotions and exposition, THE TAVERN accomplishes the task handily. i added some notes that might help here or there, but they are not necessary.
5 stars.

Emotion.
The growing desperation of the situation—moving from Drake the vengeful murder to Sitwell barging in with deadly force. Had me going, hoping the cavalry would arrive—which was silly since was 1812 and nation had little or no standing armyAND this was way out on the Michigan frontier.

I had a melancholy thing going for all the major characters, including the Brit, Sitwell, all suffering through brutality in one form or other, for one reason or another.

Some remaining plot questions:
*Drake got some voodoo help in Louisiana, where he purchased the amulet. The purpose was that he be protected from harm on a vengeance mission to kill Sitwell’s loved ones. He must have known they were in Canada before he started, for that was his reason for the voodoo blessing. How might Drake have known this.

Yes, it was 1812..In the Revolution, the various Brit generals in-country had various entourages of family or ladies. But this is 36 years later; England is reputed to be broke. Sitwell’s family is with him…IN A TENT. Could a lowly Captain bring his family afield like this?

What of a call to nature? No toilet facilities are described. The folks in the tavern spent several house consuming various liquids. And Thor’s house was some distance away in the rain (and later with I was crossing my legs, waiting for them to take a restroom recess (with no mention of facilities). To be sure, the need would be an added element—comic or dramatic—if included.

By the page numbers…
1.Should be its.

2.TICKTOCKS (caps on sound cues not made by characters)

6.This was the theme, either way you looked at gold.

13. Should be “Aw, Miss Adelaide,”

19. Illusory spirit a distinctive effect. Reminds of something you might see in a movie about Doc Holliday dying of consumption in Tombstone, or any melancholy piece about Edgar Allen Poe.

22. Back to chess, like nothing’s the matter? Maybe a bit more resignation of speech.

23.Lots of women…

24. Exposition: 3 years since her mom died is well known to Thor. I wonder if Thor might say something like, “In the 3 years since she passed away—“ and he’s cut off by Adelaide cuts him off: “I said I can’t talk about this, or do you have a rock for a head?.

Same. Adelaide sure turns spitfire at one pont—a suitable arc element.

Same. Her husband and child died. How and when. Did I miss some tragic details?

30. What is a “thick British accent?” Oxfordian? Liverpudlian? Cockney? I think some element of description might help the Capt to be more real for the reader/actor.

Same “Thorfinn fumbles with the key at the lock, till he notices something.”

33. “Hundredth Foot” and “Tenth Royal” are capped as start of some proper nouns.
Same. Powder.

42. Torch fires. I learned about them in this script.

49 Drake rises. Is there enough alarm when this happens? It’s nearly a comedy take now. Thor says “I knew we shouldn’t have untied him” AFTER Drake says he’ll go outside

54. Show that Drake can’t make out the time by having him squint at the clock uncertainly.

58. “Gives her a leading look.” What magnificent description and in so few words!. What actor or director could possibly be confused by this. Typical of the narrative throughout.

59. Is this approximately the midpoint? Here or in 61, the arcs are bending as the characters switch “roles,” so to speak. I made a note the desperation has become the order of the day.

72. Shouldn’t this be SIX SOLDIERS, then TWO SOLDIERS—they have not been intro’d like this before?

86. The deliberations here turned a bit windy for me. The situation becomes more desperate, and they seem to have more to discuss. Or not—read several times, undecided.

90. Is Sitwell’s voice from outside OS orVO? He’s not in the actual scene till that time they open the door on him and another soldier. I always question this distinction based on distance from the speaker, and Dr. Format is slightly confusing on the matter.

95. Viking creed’s too windy for the moment. He could just say, “Vikings swear…”and cite the words that are the actual creed, per se.

97.Where the hell did all of Thor’s second wind come from? A case of Red Bull? I thought he was a goner after being hit in the head by a ball, then after trying to sneak outside and do whatever. And here he is now having a second, third, 4th go at Sitwell—this after the ball, and a slice on this thigh and various other things in the tavern.

98.Still more Thor energy!
Same. What about something simpler like, “You’ll not put a hand to my daughter!”
Sitwell strikes me as a bit speech-y here also.
 
5 out of 6 people found the following review helpful:

Engaging Script

Overall Recommendation:
5 stars
 
Premise:
5 stars
 
Story structure:
5 stars
 
Character:
5 stars
 
Dialogue:
4 stars
 
Emotion:
4 stars
 

E C

March 27, 2011
The Tavern is a really tight and well done script.

I really loved how contained it was. There's just a few characters, really just the one setting and one straight timeline. I really felt compelled to just keep reading...I had no idea where the story was going to go and I really wanted to see how it was all going to end.

This script felt a little less cinematic and much more theatrical. I can see this very easily becoming a play. It had really strong and interesting characters, a straight-forward plot and fantastic dialogue. Each character has a distinctive voice...Carl really worked hard on making them all their own people.

I really enjoyed this script. It has a really fascinating story and a great cast of characters. I'd love to see this as a table read!
 
3 out of 4 people found the following review helpful:

Smart contained thriller. Not your grandfather's period piece.

Overall Recommendation:
4 stars
 
Premise:
4 stars
 
Story structure:
5 stars
 
Character:
4 stars
 
Dialogue:
3 stars
 
Emotion:
4 stars
 
March 23, 2011
A dark, contained thriller with good twists and turns. Plenty of action in this period piece. I love the fact that this story is told with only a few characters and a single location that could easily be translated into the stage or the big screen.
 

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