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2 out of 3 people found the following review helpful:

Only One Thing Wrong. And the Expense. The Rest - Loved It!

Overall Recommendation:
4 stars
 
Premise:
3 stars
 
Story structure:
4 stars
 
Character:
2 stars
 
Dialogue:
3 stars
 
Emotion:
2 stars
 
September 05, 2011
I enjoyed this. It’s very readable, direct and economical and I wish I could format scenes as well as this. Given the plot you’ve committed to, I think you’ve handled it about as well as it can be … but it does lack a really big climax – we only get more of the same.

There are very few spelling errors or typos. Your descriptions are brilliantly visual, they go bang-bang-bang. Dialogue less so, and sometimes a little stodgy, not speech-like enough – ‘I will’ for ‘I’ll’. But that’s trivial. Very little out-of-period or modern language – and this is a Zombie movie after all, not a history lesson, so if some modern phrases enable you to connect with the audience and keep them (if not perfectionists) immersed in the movie, why not?

Characters – Lavinia,not Titus, is the standout. Lavinia dominates her environment, Titus is reactive. He needs more push. And more masculinity. He’s too sensitive, he just isn’t arrogant, or stupid, or admirable, or epic enough. Lavinia’s stolen his trousers.

Expense – I don’t think we can even dare imagine such a colossal budget. I’m so glad I’m not a banker or accountant with this project landing on my desk. This is perhaps the major practical problem – there isn’t anything that could possibly exist in ancient Rome that you haven't used and abused, mega-scale. Elephants, alligators, blazing Zombies, Zombie Rats, Zombie Whores, Zombie Wolf … but this is the first historical zombie movie. It has great potential. And historical zombies will always, always be more expensive than modern ones, because they can’t be shot down at the Mall.

Salt as an antidote – this to me is the one really big no-no, because you don’t mean it to be funny. It's that One Really Big Problem.

Anyway, compared to the salt issue, the rest is nitpicking –

2 - Excellent visual writing sets up 1st scene – what date?
Dwarf? Game of Thrones shows us this is OK … but still … or is this just shorthand for Flavius is a baddie? Pompey’s a good name.
Over-ripe and over-dressed - lovely, I don’t like her already!
Good jealous first line to establish your story.

3 – water organ. Nice touch.
‘horny for blood’ – almost too good. Lovely.
To me ‘A hit!’ sounds medieval, gentlemanly. Maybe ‘Bleed him! – Cut him! – Kill him! Pull off his ears!’ is more crowd-basic.

5 – ‘Dancing master’ good.
‘Theseus’ - Titus the Roman hero playing a Greek? Romans thought of Greek warriors as pansies. I think this detracts from Titus’ manliness – it would in the eyes of the crowd.

6 – Titus slaps Daria’s backside … but he’s a dedicated professional, a man of honor? Or a showman? The Titus-Daria setup is good, but Titus gets the weaker side of it – with ‘Do you always have to do that?’ Titus sounds peevish and Daria gets the strong role.
Chopping the arrow-shafts off his shield’s rather 300.
Also, the Amazons firing off all these arrows … would Flavius’ security guys approve?

7 – ‘When do I stop being your enemy?’ – Does Titus mean gladiators are only enemies in the arena and the naughty girl’s breaking the rules? Or does he just not get women?

9 – Hermann – ‘One of THOSE parties I see’ – sounds a bit Romanesquely colloquial for a German barbarian who retains the droopy ethnic moustache etc. And he sounds archly disapproving. Barbarians loved parties! Maybe he was just disappointed only to be offered wine not beer.
Masked woman – she assumes Titus is a slave, but gladiators could be free or slave. Then she assumes freeborn Titus must be a criminal. Being sold by his father is a nice touch. Her zeroing-in could be tighter I think.

10 – Perhaps unfairly, ‘work accident’ sounds strangely modern. Maybe ‘blinded at work’ or ‘crippled in a fall’?
‘A neighbour brought me the news’ unnecessarily complex? What about ‘I heard … ‘ ?
Women who vomit in the garden were disapproved of then as now. Perhaps she made an effort to get to the vomitarium. But I know what you mean.

11 – The rape scene’s much better than in the earlier drafts, but still compromises the submissive or indifferent Titus. Neither submissive nor indifferent works. And why does Titus glare at Caeso? – if not in awareness of his weakness?

12 – Again, in the Falernian conversation, Titus is withdrawn and passive. He’s just deflowered the Empress! Very exciting! Very dangerous! Let’s talk oenophile!

13 – The Bokor is good, as far as he goes. Does this establish him sufficiently? Yet as always you handle the visual side of the narrative very well.

16 – ‘looks a bit like my son?’ – I can’t imagine Flavius or any Emperor saying this. And the kid looks like a gladiator with a face that’s a landscape of scars and gouges? Hmm …

17 – Why does the Gladiator Handler shove out The Bokor at this particular moment? – which changes everything?
Fast Zombies … some people won’t like it, but the supernatural cause does allow non-scientific explanation. The superhuman Zombie powers introduce new problems though.
You handle the atmosphere of generalised mayhem visually and with style.

29 – the reward negotiations with Lavinia are well done.

39 – Nice humour with the touch about Hermann’s superstition re spilling oil being bad luck. An example for our times.

40 – Exploding zombies – good way to introduce some pyro. But this is the third way to kill zombies, who are starting to look a little vulnerable. Which, however, you now have to do – see superhuman powers above. I confess to liking slow dim zombies. They force much more human characterisation.

46 – Gratuitous butt-shooting? Hasn’t the poor woman got troubles enough already?

61 – diaper sounds modern. Just ‘change him’?

64 – the last gender reference Titus makes is to killing men, then in his next dialogue he says ‘you were the only one I kissed’. Maybe this is confusing.

65 – The Bokor understands Titus without translation?

69 – the gift dagger for Titus to kill the woman he loves is unexpected and I like it. Good for Lavinia.

80 – ‘weak and feeble woman’ – Elizabeth I rather than Lavinia, I think?

81 – oh-oh, the cure is salt? ‘The cure is love’ – I thought you meant everyone would have to make love to end the Zombie curse (Yeah!). But salt. This is more than faintly risible. I fear at least half your four-quadrant audience will be catcalling MacDonalds or KFC at this point. And all men crave tears? You’re losing me here.

84 – And now you address the obvious salt-related problem of why Zombies aren’t cured by biting their victims. I find the explanations unconvincing. Then you tell us we’ll have to remain unconvinced because only the sorcerer knows the answer – and we know he’s dead!

87 – ‘An archer must be able to read the wind’ – good.

96 – The marriage. Is this in the right place? It’s nice romance for the girls, and faintly raunchy for the boys, and it’s well written, but what on earth does Titus think he’s doing while there’s Zombies to kill? Again Titus seems a little unmasculine?

98 – Roman women were tough cookies, but Lavinia wearing armour? Barbarian women fought, Roman women never that I can think of. But it’ll look good.

All in all, thanks for a fun read.
 

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