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3 out of 3 people found the following review helpful:

Better Characters Mashed Awkwardly with Original

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Story structure:
2 stars
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September 06, 2011
You've improved on the original story, giving characters backstory, more believable motivation, and really just made it more compelling in general. Where I think it falls short is that it didn't go far enough. In some cases the new characters, story arcs, etc blend perfectly with the original. In others, it's awkwardly placed and really stands out as an afterthought. I found myself wanting to see MORE of your interpretation and less of the original dialogue and description.

So, let's address the Amazon Studio notes:

1) Make Titus more real - You do this well. His father as a priest is a much more compelling backstory than the original's. In places he seems more thoughtful and well rounded. Only in the spots where the original dialogue shines through does he revert to his brutish, flat persona.

2) Make it Magical - You get full marks here. No more science, no more cure, no more machine-gun crossbow. It's curses and god battles all the way. You've introduced two new characters (Nyamiyongo and his daughter Nyamata) to get this done and they are well suited for it.

3) Give it a Villain - Things get muddier here. Flavius was never a real villain. Nyamata is the hero's love interest. Nyamiyongo is pretty close, but it's not entirely clear what he is doing for most of the script (he is gone the entire 2nd act) and his motivations are murky at best. The best I can figure is that the gods are the real enemies. We invoke them for revenge and then they double cross us. So we're forced to kill them in the end.

Going over my notes here might help display some of the things I liked and some that could use improvement.

p.2 "tears his knife from his belt". Whose belt is this? Cassius'? Shouldn't he be unarmed if he is tied up?

I don't understand why Cassius is "faithless". What does that mean? How does she know that Cassius did anything? This whole confrontation is confusing because we haven't established any facts yet. I agree with the other reviewer that it would have been nice to see some of the party/orgy that got out of control so we'd have some context. I found myself thinking "What is going on and why was it so severe that she's sticking her hand up the guy's brain?"

p.3 Arrias is a soldier still commanding men, but he's been called a coward (for something we don't see), and he allows Nyamata to give him orders and lobotomize a fellow Roman?

p.4 I start to hate the dismissive and jokey Titus of the original. He comes off as an arrogant ass that I just can't relate to.

p.8 "I've heard little but about this man Titus" ??? Is there an emphasis on the word "but"? Hasn't Quintus been out of the country?

p.9 Nice ass kissing from Nyamiyongo. Reads well.

p.11 Titus is a bit too jaded. He is dismissive about Lucius' death. "he was an unfortunate. there are many in the arena" Hard to like him.

p.13 The doctor stabbing Cassius in the chest. I didn't buy it in the original. Still don't.

p.15 Wow, this Flavius is a total jackass. Earning a bit of villain cred.

p.17 How do we tell the chicken entrails are corrupt? Maybe that's just the horror movie fan in me asking.

Arrias is old? Was this mentioned before?

Why would anyone suspect Arrias? Mind control? Just to get in the good graces of their African guests?
I do like the idea of making him a gladiator for a day. Fun.

"indignant and excited" at the same time?

p.20 This conversation is awkward. It starts to go somewhere, and then veers back into the original dialogue. I wanted to stay on that first path.

p.22 For being a boring party popper, Titus is pretty gracious about being drilled verbally by some random woman he never met before.

p.24 Flavius was being an ass, but he suddenly becomes the super jealous Flavius from the original and wants to kill Titus. This version isn't believable.

p.27 Titus telling Arrias not to die is funny stuff.

p.32 Marcus referring to Nyamata as "trim" is a bit too modern. I'm not really getting why she likes Titus so much at this point.

p.40 Ok, what are Nyamiyongo and his daughter actually doing? They're not controlling the zombies. Are they just harnessing the power of the mist? Why doesn't Flavius object? Why is Nyamiyongo so excited about the plan that was originally his daughter's?

p.46 The followup line "gladiators learn how to ride horses?" is great.

Still wondering what this vapor that is creeping around Rome actually does.

"Drop it toga" probably isn't much of an insult, since most of the populace wears them.

p.57 "more of that heated tension and attraction" Show me, don't tell me.

Would a seasoned soldier gulp in horror? Maybe reword.

p.63 I get that Marcus is the vulgar comic relief, but he's just saying odd things now.

But the "you speak dead, don't you" line is funny.

p.66 This is my biggest problem - no one ever pushes Nyamata on her responsibility for this curse. They don't ask why, if there is a cure, how to stop it, etc. And she's never held responsible for it. Maybe with a leadup to the carnage that she was getting revenge for, we would be ok with it, but it bothers me.

p.76 Titus doesn't need to say most of that stuff about lions, since we actually see it in the flashback.

p.83 "this isn't lucius" is straight up cold blooded of Titus to say. It also directly contradicts his statement on p.87 about not leaving anyone behind. He'd sacrifice his fellow gladiators of many years for the woman he just met?

Flavius' death at the gates is rather meaningless. If he is just resurrected, what was the point.

p.89 This conversation needs to be cut up a bit. Nothing happens.

p.91 Quintus has a nuanced personality…until the original dialogue creeps back in and he's back to being irrational.

p.96 The tag and hide n seek jokes seem misplaced.

The possession is fun. Could be even more dramatic/over-the-top.

p.105 The hyenas are an inspired zombie animal to use, but the action is stilted and flat.

p.111 The arena waiting for Titus to die. Nice.

Why is Quintus still talking about Flavius' last days? Don't they think he's dead?

p.122 I wasn't entirely clear that this whole sequence was in Titus' head. With that in mind, the scene is quite dramatic.

The double crossing god(s) are dead. Is magic the enemy?

p.123 Was it the mist that Nyamiyongo summoned that kept the zombies going? If he hadn't of done that, would the zombie Cassius even have done anything? Did it just make them fast and furious?

There are some (not many) formatting errors throughout - character headers, parentheticals used inappropriately, etc.


Overall I found jumping from your storylines to the original a bit jarring. Much of the time I was often engrossed in the story, only to have it revert to the original's dialogue and storyline. I would have liked to see where you would have taken it, minus some of the structure of the original.

Still, you did improve on the original. A better story for Titus, buckets full of mysticism, and a much more compelling female lead.
3 out of 5 people found the following review helpful:

the best so far

Overall Recommendation:
4 stars
5 stars
Story structure:
3 stars
3 stars
4 stars
3 stars
September 05, 2011
This is the best version I’ve read so far. There’s still a lot of work to do here, but the fundamentals are solid and there are some very strong elements.

Much of the original structure, story, and characters have been maintained. There are major changes as well as many subtle changes that significantly improve the original scenes and make them come to life.

The villain is new: The African sorcerer-king Nyamiyongo. He's interesting but missing from all of the second act, and I'm not entirely clear about his motives. His daughter Nyamata takes over some of the Lavinia part (although Lavinia is also still around) and is a much stronger character. Orcus is also involved, but enters rather late.

Titus is more engaging -- smart and canny with a great new back story and justified anger.

Thus, the AS notes have been effectively addressed here.

Much of the new dialogue is a major improvement, adding humor without getting too “jokey” and killing the tension, and also showing genuine emotion.


I don’t understand opening with an establishing shot in Rome, then inserting the title, and then immediately jumping to Africa. Seems to make more sense to open in Africa, with a title giving the place and date.

Also, I’d like to see some of the Bacchanal, to get an idea of what it was and how it went wrong. Half a page should do it, then right into the morning after.

Pg. 3: Nyamata reaching into Cassius’s mouth for his brain is very cool and grody.

Pg. 4: Might want to be clearer that “took” means raped and that Nyamata was raped too (f that’s what happened).

Nyamata’s “he will not die” line is cool and ominous.

Original Coliseum scene starts here.

Titus seems rougher and meaner here than in the original… but that gives him somewhere to arc.

Pg. 6: “He is ARRIAS’ and CASSIUS’ commanding officer, a military officer with great political standing.” This is telling, not showing, especially since Arrias and Cassius aren’t around to relate to him.

Pg. 13: After months on the road and sea, Cassius hardly seems like an “emergency.”

Pg. 17: The “my son” lines are awkward and unfunny.

Pg 19: I liked the chicken lines, but the bird itself showed up WAY too quickly.

Pg. 20: I liked the “then you will be dead” line.

29-35: A long, talky scene.

Pg. 40: Mist scene is very cool – but why is no one noticing or reacting to this?

I don’t get why Nyamiyongo says “NO!” when the Zombie attacks Flavius, since he seems to control it.

Pg. 47: This is a good character moment for Titus.

Pg. 53: This seems late to bring in Orcus, and then he doesn’t play a part until page 107.

Not clear why Flavius gets different treatment here.

Pg. 56: Nice emotional moment with Antonius.

Pg. 59: I thought Quintus’s line was a big improvement on the original.

Pg. 63: Another telepathic Zombie?

Pg. 70: Good lines here.

Pg. 76: More good lines.

Pg. 79: It might be good to save the big reveal about Titus’s father until this scene, rather than revealing it earlier.

80-82: I think the flashback scene worked really well, and I like how you didn’t fall back on a supernatural explanation for why Titus was spared.

Pg. 83: This is starting to get talky. I’d get out of the scene at a stronger point.

Pg. 91: I’m not so happy about killing off Flavius here, especially since Titus has nothing to do with it. And though he shows up later, I didn’t see where he recovered from being dead.

Pg. 94: I’m not sure how someone COULD chop off his own head. Chopping off each other’s heads at the same time is cool and could work.

Pg. 95-100: Nice imagery and some important info but getting chatty again. Scene needs a trim.

104: I’m not crazy about the original temple scene, and here they just “happen” to fall into the group from the temple they’re looking for while running into a different temple.

Pg 106: ACK! A huge block of description.

“painted alcoves dimly depicting stories few outside of the cult ever heard.” Huh? How does the audience know what “few outside” have heard? What do the pictures SHOW?

107-111: Some nice visuals in the Temple scene, but then it gets talky and complicated and a bit confusing. Also, I’m not 100% happy with Orcus showing up “in the flesh” this late in the story.

Pg. 113: Hyena scene seems under-written, and it feels like it’s delaying the climax. This could easily be cut.

115: Nice visuals in the Arena.

Titus’s explanation seems long-winded. Try something more pithy?

Pg. 125: Oooooo! Very cool with Demogorgon!

Pg. 132: Not clear who “he” is at the start of the Forum scene.

The battle scene is great – BUT if they’re GODS, how does Titus manage to kill them?

Pg. 133: I really hate Quintus’s line at the top of the page. Way too casual for the moment.

I thought the third act god stuff got confusing, and at 138 pages the script needs some major trimming, but overall this is a very strong effort.

Good work!

Errors: Missing character names. Parentheticals used improperly. Missing sluglines.

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