Overall Recommendation:
4.4 stars
(14)
5 Stars:
42.86%
(6)
 
4 Stars:
50.0%
(7)
 
3 Stars:
7.14%
(1)
 
2 Stars:
0%
(0)
 
1 Stars:
0%
(0)
 
Premise:
3.9 stars
(14)
 
Story structure:
4.1 stars
(14)
 
Character:
3.7 stars
(14)
 
Dialogue:
3.6 stars
(14)
 
Emotion:
3.4 stars
(14)
 
 
1-10 of 14 reviews
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0 out of 0 people found the following review helpful:

Really enjoyable movie

Overall Recommendation:
5 stars
 
Premise:
4 stars
 
Story structure:
5 stars
 
Character:
4 stars
 
Dialogue:
4 stars
 
Emotion:
4 stars
 
November 25, 2011
I really loved the mood and theme of this movie. It reminded me of the old Indiana Jones movies with a bit of Gulliver's Travels mixed in. Nice work overall.
 
0 out of 1 people found the following review helpful:

Pirates In The Sky

Overall Recommendation:
4 stars
 
Premise:
5 stars
 
Story structure:
4 stars
 
Character:
4 stars
 
Dialogue:
3 stars
 
Emotion:
3 stars
 
November 21, 2011
i can hardly wait for the release the script has lots of potential. Reminds me of Raiders of the lost ark, their is a lot of material from this historical period that Good Ripping yarns could be pulled from. Think about it Love Craft elements Nazi Occultism and other legends and lore the possibilities boggle the mind.
 
0 out of 0 people found the following review helpful:

Awesome Movie!!

Overall Recommendation:
5 stars
 
Premise:
5 stars
 
Story structure:
4 stars
 
Character:
5 stars
 
Dialogue:
5 stars
 
Emotion:
4 stars
 
October 22, 2011
I was totally impressed with the artwork, voice acting and story. Also appreciated the characters.
Check out the new trailer which I recently uploaded: http://studios.amazon.com/projects/3439 (Trailer 2).
It was fun making it!
 
0 out of 0 people found the following review helpful:

Great stuff!! I am taking the challenge to make your movie poster!! Hope you like!

Overall Recommendation:
5 stars
 
Premise:
5 stars
 
Story structure:
4 stars
 
Character:
3 stars
 
Dialogue:
4 stars
 
Emotion:
3 stars
 
October 09, 2011
 
0 out of 0 people found the following review helpful:

Easily, I could see this as a feature. And I would totally watch.

Overall Recommendation:
4 stars
 
Premise:
3 stars
 
Story structure:
4 stars
 
Character:
3 stars
 
Dialogue:
4 stars
 
Emotion:
4 stars
 
October 06, 2011
 
2 out of 2 people found the following review helpful:

Would make his idols (Cameron, Speilberg, Lucas) proud. Cool adventure flick!

Overall Recommendation:
4 stars
 
Premise:
4 stars
 
Story structure:
5 stars
 
Character:
4 stars
 
Dialogue:
4 stars
 
Emotion:
4 stars
 
October 04, 2011
It's good lighthearted fun. Has the anti-hero adventurer (Han Solo type) in Major Jack, the exotic locales and Nazi villains of an Indiana Jones movie, and the dark, shady presence of Marines-with-a-hidden-agenda of Cameron's 'The Abyss'.

So when all is said and done, I think this writer/director would make his idols proud.

Also very cool that the protagonist is a strong, competent woman and the unlikely supporting hero is a black cook leading a battalion of African hunters.

I think for a solid, entertaining tentpole film this one is great. It might raise the stakes a little to make the implications of uncovering the lost city's secrets a little more clear. I.e. the whole uranium thing might get lost on children.

Nice work Gary!
 
0 out of 0 people found the following review helpful:

I love the idea! Perhaps a few more characters to develope deeper interest, perhaps a love interest, or a a hook such as a discovery of secret.

Overall Recommendation:
4 stars
 
Premise:
4 stars
 
Story structure:
3 stars
 
Character:
2 stars
 
Dialogue:
2 stars
 
Emotion:
3 stars
 
October 02, 2011
Development of a few more characters may bring more twists into the storyline.
A discovered secret, a love interest, another failed attemp to kill Hitler ( there were really many attemps) what Ifs?( what if hitler was not dead and was tried for his crimes) Hey I like that one!
 
0 out of 0 people found the following review helpful:

Nice job.

Overall Recommendation:
4 stars
 
Premise:
3 stars
 
Story structure:
4 stars
 
Character:
4 stars
 
Dialogue:
4 stars
 
Emotion:
2 stars
 
October 02, 2011
Nice job. The story was fun to watch and kept me there. The main line of action was a little slow to emerge. Did a fair job on the beats. The premise is a little far fetched, but no more than something like Indiana Jones.

Congrats Gary
 
9 out of 9 people found the following review helpful:

Best test film which fully integrates filmic elements of possible movie: characterization, story, action set-pieces

Overall Recommendation:
5 stars
 
Premise:
5 stars
 
Story structure:
4 stars
 
Character:
5 stars
 
Dialogue:
4 stars
 
Emotion:
4 stars
 
August 04, 2011
Similar Films: Indiana Jones Raiders/ National Treasure/ Pirates of the Caribbean
Genre: Period Action/Adventure
Milieu/Locale: WWII Zeppelins, blimps & the jungle/Congo (archeology)
Time Period: pre-WWII - 1940
Market: Male & Female 25+ / PG-13 (so could be 14 and up)

Gary, I think you did an amazing job with the test movie, it's fantastic. Definitely one of the best test movies to date on Amazon Studios (from the ones I’ve seen).

Why? Because it does a great job of integrating all the potential film’s elements: character, story, action set pieces (as well as solid performances).

It’s the most realized characters and story – fully integrated. It gives you a good flavor of the script. (I was going to both read the script and watch your test film but after watching it, really seemed unnecessary to read it as I got a fairly good idea from the test film).

Sky Pirates is an ambitious project. I'm a sucker for history, Nazis and adventure (and so is everyone, I think)! I think 81/2 to 9 out of 10 times you deliver. You hit it out of the park in terms of storyboarding your story. The multitude of frames is impressive and by the time some of the rougher frames appear, we barely notice because we’re engrossed in the story.

Is it ready to go from storyboard to feature film? Probably not quite because it needs to be fleshed out a bit more in act two. Major kudos. I know how much work goes into this… it's a compelling test film. The storyboard art is very compelling, I was engrossed in the story. I found the pacing mostly just right. I was impressed by how quickly it moved. I pretty much agreed with Amazon's Story Dept. notes. (Except I didn't think Sara asking about dresses in the beginning is that big of a deal. It stood out a bit, though, so maybe re-think it). I really like Sara, she's a compelling character. Jack Danger is solid too. You’re good at creating likeable and relatable characters we root for. You are also good at set-ups.

{The following is only food for thought, meant as inspiration for you (not some sort of criticism because it's very good as it stands) but if you plan on developing further or rewriting it might spark something}:

CHARACTERIZATION:

Hats off to you for your character development. You show solid arcs. Yes, we've seen the cocky rogue protagonist at odds with the woman trope before (Hans Solo, Indy etc.) but we still love it. We still want to see it. I feel they consummate their feelings a bit too quickly. I like the scene and how she kisses him and I bought into it but it seemed a little quick. I thought the dialogue was good and even humorous but I would like some clever dialogue here and there, maybe even for Sara, she’s a great character.

STORY & PACING

In terms of story, the pacing was on target. The one aspect to change for pacing might be to offer some transitions... that feeling of letting us breathe for a moment between scenes/sequences (which I am certain is just part of the test film process, where you had to edit it down). The characterizations are strong, perhaps there were too many characters and some could be pared down. (For some reason, I wanted Jack Danger to replace the ‘drinking captain’ which might not work for the logistics of your story but they seemed different sides of the same coin in terms of character).

Your first two reversals were good, I didn’t see them coming (her father being killed and when she fell off, into the water).

STAKES & SUSPENSE

The number one issue I would say is that you need to clarify. We need bits and pieces of the puzzle revealed as we go. This will help ramp up the stakes. When clarity of purpose is muddled – stakes become muddled. You don’t have to give it away but we have to feel the stakes are very high.

You need to ramp up our stakes and involvement in act two so we are on the edge of our seat. I was definitely on the ride with the action sequences but there could be more clarification on Sara’s agenda and what’s at stake to ramp it up. There could also be more suspense throughout.

We do lose Jack for a bit of the film as well and it would be good to feel him driving some of the action more. Maybe he’s really into trying to ferret out where this gold is… since you have strong set-ups that work… I think you could follow the throughline a bit more: his goal to get the gold has to be at cross purposes to Sara’s goal. Sara’s goal is to find the Temple, to take the gold and then to destroy the gold and the Nazi Zeppelin… ? That is a bit confusing that her goal changes. We get that it’s the Atom bomb but maybe if he’s focused on the gold and she’s focused on something else… and he has a blind spot to the Nazis and the war, that could cause conflict.

Maybe he’s really a spy? Or she is?

There are probably some simple ways you could ramp up the suspense and some conflict between your characters as they try to find the temple. . I wanted more of a wow factor when finding the temple, the “ahhhh” moment of lots of gold and some sort of amazing treasure feeling.

One note, perhaps you’ve considered this but how about… a twist?

I feel like your story needed a twist. What if her father is alive? They’ve forced him to decipher? What if Sara’s a British spy & works for the M16 and is going to steal the gold tablets for her government? You probably don’t want to do those but they’re just to show that you could use some kind of twist at the end.

We could also use a few more set pieces – we need a “money shot.” You have some great ones and great action set pieces but I would love to see one really unique one (like Indy’s running from the boulder). The dogfights are probably the best. I think the heroes could get into a lot more predicaments in the jungle, with wild animals, caves, getting lost etc.

You & your team knocked it out of the park with the entertaining story, storyboard art, music, and the dialogue track which was excellent!


Story Notes:
Strengths:
Character arcs – very likeable & we root for them
Premise – haven’t really seen this idea before in this way
Milieu – fun archeology and WWII & jungle
Structure – solid pacing with good act points and beats

Weakness:
Conflict/Obstacles – our heroes need more obstacles to reaching their destination in act two, need to get into more adventurous predicaments. Perhaps they get caught between warring Pygmy tribes. They get lost in a cave, fall down into quicksand, maybe the two heroes are alone in the jungle while the others back on the zeppelin have to figure it out.

Suspense – we need more suspenseful moments. We also could use a twist at the end.

Cleverness- if you’re going the National Treasure route maybe add some more puzzles in there for her to solve and also some clever moments and dialogue.

Set-pieces – we need one “money shot” – a unique set-piece.

If you want to attract a top actor, you need to have Jack Danger show a bit more range. I love the idea that he doesn’t feel fear and that at the one moment he does, you could play this up more (vs. exposition).

Fantastic job & best of luck!
 
6 out of 7 people found the following review helpful:

Nice looking, meh story

Overall Recommendation:
3 stars
 
Premise:
3 stars
 
Story structure:
3 stars
 
Character:
1 stars
 
Dialogue:
2 stars
 
Emotion:
2 stars
 
August 03, 2011
This guy has a promising premise, strong dialogue track and passable art work that adequately tells your story. I enjoyed the frames and for the most part stayed engaged throughout your entire film – big thanks to your strong dialogue track (although music and fx could use some improvement).
I think this test movie probably does what you want it to do, present your screenplay and tell your story. However for me that was the weakest link. The story.

The test movie highlights a number of areas that stand to be addressed. I suppose this is the point of the test movie. To iron out story problems. However I’m sure you’d rather me say a frame or two needs punched up than rewriting, re-recording and re-storyboarding your entire project. I’m only going to focus on a handful of the story issues that I had, if you’d like me to elaborate more, feel free to StudioMail me.

1. Sarah – I like what you’re going for, but the first act does much more harm than good for her character. She goes from a materialistic daddy’s girly-girl, to winding up at a Circus to scout airplanes (no idea what she’s doing or what her role is), why she’s able to meet with the US military, why she’s able to go ALONG on this mission. The lack of clarity is more confusing than anything.

None of this feels organic to the story.

You need the first scene is to connect her to the plot issue and the villain, somehow she needs to meet Jack so she’s wandering to a circus, but you need her to go along on the trip (so you can have a romance) so she just gets to go. These are just a series of convenience and these missteps happen all throughout and it makes me lose faith in the story.

On the trip, she shares a kiss with Jack, for no good reason simply because you need it to happen. She ventures away and gets captured, why? Because you need it to happen. She says we can’t leave without the gold and then says leave the gold…why? Because it’s intended to raise the drama in the climax. The problem is at each and every one of these turns you are sacrificing character for story.
While Sarah is an example the biggest problem I had is it felt like you are playing the role of “God of the Story”. Let’s have these irrational character choices happen so story beats can hit at the right spot. Only looking at the story structure, the beats, the story is fine, but if you ask yourself if they make sense, that’s where I have a problem. I understand that you have to make a logic fudge or two when you're writing. It's inevitable, but the sheer volume of these coincidences took me right out of the story. I know it’s an Action movie and everything doesn’t have to make sense, but I’m sure you’re better than this.

Simply (probably way too simply) here's the spine, the US govt, chooses to takeover a blimp with another blimb, by recruiting a circus pilot because there's no one else in the US that can do an "air hook move", which was fortunately seen by a British girl, there for some reason. Regardless of their military standing, both of these characters get to go on this military mission, under the guise of piratry, under the command of a drunk with no desire to hide it. Being honest, I might be able to get over this and get into the story, but the problem is this type of story logic continues throughout the entire film.

2. Jack – I can get on board with the brash, cocky, gold digging anti-hero. He mostly worked for me because he was witty and the voice actor was very solid. Constantly reiterating his desire for gold was just tiring for me. The relationship with Sarah was paper-paper thin and it turns out he ends up LOVING HER. I feel like I’m watching the Bachelorette here. 2 days of contact and he LOVES her. I’d also work on his emotional reveal. Laying literally all of his cards on the table did not feel organic at the time he did it and seemed to just be an attempt of a 3-D character, piling it up into one monologue 28 minutes into the movie doesn’t work for me. And he goes right back to talking about gold. While these are big problems for me, the biggest problem for me is how he seems to disappear during the most important parts of the story.

3. Climax – Watching it, I wasn’t invested in the climax. Other than your characters telling me “the fate of the free world is at stake” I didn’t really know why or how. Because they might get a formula for an atomic bomb? That will take years and years to test and build. The main villain seems to disappear for the middle 55 minutes of the film. Why the wanted the gold or didn’t want the gold wasn’t really clear for me, but perhaps I missed this.

4. Lastly at 78 minutes, it doesn’t feel like there’s enough meat for a feature. The 2nd act really drug for me even compressed. There’s such a strong title and good hook, in Sky Pirates, but it doesn’t deliver for me. I’m not even sure there was any Pirating. I guess I envision something more like a 1940’s Executive Decision type film, but this just isn’t it. Interacting with the villain and doing some pirate things in the 2nd act would dramatically improve the story. A full blown impersonation of Nazis in order to infiltrate and learn about what they are after might be a better way to go.

I’ll stop here, but if you’d like to pick my brain more, feel free to StudioMail me. I know this seems predominantly negative, but patting your back won’t make anything any better and I’m sure that’s what you want. There are good pieces here and good touches there.

Best wishes.
 

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