Overall Recommendation:
3.5 stars
(2)
5 Stars:
0%
(0)
 
4 Stars:
50.0%
(1)
 
3 Stars:
50.0%
(1)
 
2 Stars:
0%
(0)
 
1 Stars:
0%
(0)
 
Premise:
4.5 stars
(2)
 
Story structure:
3.0 stars
(2)
 
Character:
2.5 stars
(2)
 
Dialogue:
2.0 stars
(2)
 
Emotion:
2.5 stars
(2)
 
 
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4 out of 6 people found the following review helpful:

flat

Overall Recommendation:
3 stars
 
Premise:
5 stars
 
Story structure:
2 stars
 
Character:
2 stars
 
Dialogue:
2 stars
 
Emotion:
2 stars
 
September 07, 2011
The story and structure of Act 1 are similar to the original, with the addition of a new prologue, and acts 2 and 3 are mostly new.

There’s a new villain – the African demon/god Nzambi, who creates and controls the Zombies. He first kills people (unseen) on page 4, then disappears until pg. 96, when Titus confronts him. Thus, the conflict between the two of them doesn’t drive the story. Nzambi seems to simply want more power, but it’s not clear to what end.

Flavius remains a weak secondary villain, but he vanishes after page 75 and Titus never confronts or defeats him.

Titus has a more developed character here, and he’s smarter, but I’m not sure he’s more engaging. He seems cranky and self-centered much of the time. And he’s supposed to be a “barbarian,” but he’s just a generic one. How about making him a Gaul or a German or Briton or SOMETHING to give him a richer back story?

Thus, the AS notes have been addressed, but not in a fully satisfactory way.

Titus’s relationship with Lavinia seems superficial and inconsistent. He moons over her at first, then every time they’re actually together he seems to be pushing her away while she’s throwing herself at him – both for no obvious reason.

The pacing and structure in this draft seem way off, and thus it feels episodic and repetitive – just one thing after another, with no real sense of rising stakes, and no feeling for how these events are affecting the characters. There's a lot of bickering but very little emotion.

There are some cool bits here, as detailed below, but overall the script felt sketchy and not fully thought-out.

I thought the first 3 pages were flat, with dialogue that felt like it came from a 50-year-old movie. All this chit chat about a statue simply isn’t interesting. And the Valerian and Cassius father-son relationship didn’t ring true.

Pg. 5: The gory aftermath of an unseen monster is always a good way to build up anticipation and dread. But this violence seems jarring after the banality of the first few pages. And then the thing vanishes for 100 pages…

Pg. 8: “Thank you, oh mighty Emperor. … Trainer, send in more barbarians.” This sounds mocking or campy to me. Is that intended?

9-11: This shows Titus’s smarts and leadership, but all this geometry is rather mechanical and dull – like a marching band performing at halftime.

13-14: I liked the nails and teeth growing.

15-17: Lots of chit chat to state the obvious about Titus and Lavinia. And if she’s the Emperor’s favorite and he sics wolves on her, I’d hate to see what he does to his enemies.

Pg. 20: More chit chat. Almost a repeat of the earlier scene.

Pg. 21: I like the “weaponization” of the Zombies. I think this and Porcius were the best bits and you could have a lot more fun along these lines.

Pg. 22-24: A bit talky, but it shows that Titus is smart and politically savvy. His post-freedom goal seems vague and unsatisfying -- it doesn't give us enough to root for.

Pg. 27: I don’t understand Flavius’s “fight at my side” line.

Pg. 28: Why is Quintus worried about the Emperor’s enemies finding Titus?

Pg. 30: I really liked the Zombie proving ground and the live dissection.

Pg. 31: Flavius sounds like an idiot with his “Roman gods” line. He hasn’t seemed stupid so far, so this seems out of character.

Pg. 42: It seems like the Zombie outbreak in the arena should mark the end of the first act, but this seems very late for a 108-page script.

Pg. 43: “File a report” -- way too modern.

Pg. 45: Repeat of “report” line -- not funny.

45-47: A dull and static scene in the cellar.

Pg. 49: I liked the showing the teeth bit.

Pg. 51: Since when is Quintus an expert in Zombies?

Pg. 53: So why are the Zombie animals going for the heavily-armed soldiers rather than the lightly-armed others?

Pg. 56: They finally get out of the Arena, which is good. The story’s been feeling claustrophobic, and not in a good/scary way. Keeping this smaller scale may keep the budget down, but it also makes it seem like the real story hasn’t started yet.

56-65: This is feeling repetitive. Fight, flee… flee some more…

Pg. 71: This feels like Titus’s deeper commitment moment, which seems like it should come about at the mid-point, so it’s late. And he’s forced into it through a technicality, so it’s not the emotional moment it should be.

Pg. 80: I like Porcius the fanboy. If this tone could be applied consistently throughout, the whole movie would be a lot more fun.

Pg. 88: How does Kayode know about Titus’s people?

Pg. 89: This seems late for Kayode to develop a back story.

I’m looking for a third act break around here and not finding it. I’m also not finding an “all is lost” moment other than the one on pg 106 which comes late and lasts all of 3 seconds.

Pg. 91: So are the men Christian Zombies, or are they just pretending to pray? Either way, they’re not acting like mindless Zombies.

Pg. 96: Titus finally confronts Nzambi.

Pg. 97: I don’t see the point of the flashback.

Pg. 99: I didn’t dig the “I am legion” pun.

Pg. 102: I really hate when people flirt and quip in the face of death. Takes all the urgency out of the scene.

104-106: Good fight, but Lavinia – not Titus – is the one who actually defeats the bad guy.

The ending seemed very abrupt and anticlimactic.


Overall, this just seemed flat to me. There are some good ideas here, but at the moment there's not enough fun and not enough to care about.
 
5 out of 7 people found the following review helpful:

Very good rewrite, but a little uneven

Overall Recommendation:
4 stars
 
Premise:
4 stars
 
Story structure:
4 stars
 
Character:
3 stars
 
Dialogue:
2 stars
 
Emotion:
3 stars
 
September 06, 2011
I wasn’t going to do reviews of these, but after the furore of a couple of threads, I thought I’d give this one a read. I’m not going to reply to the “outside” issues, just give my opinion on this as a script.

Overall, this addresses the Amazon notes and improves considerably on the original, but I think its shortcomings can be attributed to the same things as my own, in that the time allocated to do this wasn’t enough to present our best work. A lot of great ideas and notions, and I can see what was trying to be achieved,, be when these things don’t pay off as powerfully as they could, plus the typos etc, I see a slightly rushed script that would be great with maybe two more weeks to work on it. I’ll not mark down anything for typos, or list them because, frankly, I’m sure the author is more than capable of doing that.

Firstly, I felt the opening was a little on-the-nose (“my favorite son”) but soon settled down into a smooth setup and - if directed well - pretty damn scary without showing any CGI demon or whatever. All good horror movies have an element of sin, and this is no exception; desecrating another culture’s god is a fine sin. We also learn much later that it isn't so much the desecration that activates the "god" but the physical contents of the piss. So, solid opening, with minor reservations re dialogue.

Titus is introduced in a decent action scene, although - again- a bit on-the-nose in what was being accomplished - both from the gladiators (Titus’s lecture about teamwork) and the OTT Quintus stuff, but again, I chalk that up to the time restrictions. I far preferred Lavinia’s introduction, a skill I expect will come in handy when the zombies need an arrow through the head.

Cassius’s transformation is well executed, with buildup and payoff, although a little less buildup (shorter dialogue) would probably result in better pacing.

The gladiator party serves a purpose, but yet again it’s overwritten, with subtlety, and spells out too much for the reader.

MARCUS
You’re not in one of your moods
again, are you?

TITUS
I sense some intrigue is afoot.

MARCUS
Some intrigue is always afoot. It’s
Rome! Now just relax and enjoy the
party. It’s in your honor.

TITUS
That’s what troubles me, Marcus.
Why now? Why not wait until I win
my freedom? That would certainly be
cause for celebration, and it’s
only a few days away. Having a
party now makes no sense unless
it’s part of some manipulation.

MARCUS
Titus, you think far too much.

TITUS
That’s what’s kept me alive. And
you as well.

Eliminating all the “tell” stuff would give a far smoother read and add a little, well, intrigue. I hope you don’t mind, but I’d rewrite this as:

MARCUS
You’re not in one of your moods
again, are you?

TITUS
What moods?

MARCUS
Just relax and enjoy the
party. It’s in your honor.

TITUS
Hmm.

MARCUS
You think far too much.

TITUS
My thinking too much has kept me alive
so far. You too.

Okay, that’s enough about dialogue. There are a ton of scenes like this throuought, but as I keep saying like a broken record, I’m sure Gary would be more than capable of polishing this sort of thing. I know because my own script contains the exact same faults, (along with my propensity to overwrite scene description).

Oh, one more thing: Kayode’s dialogue veers from good English to Pigdin throughout. Perhaps an oversight, perhaps it needs more polish. Not sure.

Okay, onto the bones of the story.

I love the idea of “testing” the zombies. It nods toward the scientific side of the original but without the anachronisms.

However, it takes way too long to get going. The first 37 pages, although containing action, are all setup. No zombies meet any gladiators until page 38, which is just too long IMO. Not some from formulaic write-by-numbers instruction manual, but it also FEELS like it takes too long. Cut the dialogue by around half, and it would be fine.

When it does happen, it’s spectacular, though. It addresses the concept brilliantly, with Titus the tactical warrior seemingly in real danger.

There are neat moments of humor too (“I’m gonna have to file a report”) that allow the script to breathe, which the original somewhat lacked.

The claustrophobic feel of setting it in the Colosseum is effective, and the story progresses apace in the traditional manner, with a band of heroes and assholes making their way to freedom. Flavius is a great cowardly piece of crap, and the escalating stakes work well. I felt the zombie animals – like in the original – were a bit comical. I don’t know how this would work on film, but I suppose it would depend on the rating – if, like much discussion has mentioned, this is to be PG13, the animals are a great image; if it’s to be an R, then I don’t think zombie animals are the way to go.

When they break out of the Colosseum the pace keeps up. The stakes continue to rise as it’s clear more people than they thought had been turned. And when they realise the zombies are being controlled, it’s a good beat.

When they talk about water gods, this comes quite late on. Yes, we know they bleed water from the experiments, but up until now, the talk of gods has felt more like superstition than fact. Now it’s a firm plan? Okay, it’s not as anachronistic as the “cure” of the original, but still a bit of a leap. However, the IDEA of a mystical creature that is both powered by AND controls water, is a neat concept in this world. Could there be more buildup, though? Could they moot this idea closer to the halfway mark, and THEN come up with the plan?

If water makes the zombies stronger, could this not be used to more effect earlier? The scene on page 82 is very good but feels like we should see this power sooner.

The finale is spooky and exciting, with Nzambi/Quintus a decent reveal. The supernatural element is well-and-truly addressed without the hokey need to on-screen gods. But does it come too late?

Until the final quarter of the script, it has been a largely-traditional zombie film with the addition of gladiators. It wasn’t until the two-thirds mark that there was definitely an intelligence behind the zombies. Perhaps there could be more discussion or hints about this?

The final battle is pure spectacle, and the “cure” comes about in a way that is consistent with the rest of the piece, unlike the original, but it still feels a little bit simple. Maybe “simple” is the wrong word. Perhaps I should say “rushed.” With so much spectacle and visual feasting, I might have liked a bit more (sorry for repeating again) SPECTACLE.

Minor quibbles I noted as I read:

Octavius on page 29 is a little casual about defeating lions. Is it really easy for a highly skilled fighter to kill a lion?

Titus seems to behead the first zombie almost by accident. Could this be more of a plan? “We’ve tried everything else…”

When they reach the command room, how do they estimate 200,000 citizens? It would be tough to estimate it in modern times in that time frame.

Page 99’s “at least it can’t get any worse” is way too cliché. I know it’s probably an ironic cliché, but still made me groan.

Probably wouldn't occur to me if I wasn't doing the review, but if pissing on the statue activated Nzambi, does that mean it wasn't active because Africa is so dry? That means they got the statue from Africa to Rome without even accidentally wetting it? Sorry if I've misunderstood, but that's a small logic flaw if I haven't.

That’s all. There were more, but I didn’t make many notes like this, as I find them annoying.

In Summary:
Overall, a really good adaptation of the original, with brilliant visuals, a much better story in general, but suffers primarily from way too much dialogue and what feels like poor balancing in the revelations leading to the solution. Nothing too fatal, and like I said earlier, probably simply a victim of the time given to complete the task.
 

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