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Christians v. Zombies II

Overall Recommendation:
2 stars
 
Premise:
5 stars
 
Story structure:
1 stars
 
Character:
2 stars
 
Dialogue:
1 stars
 
Emotion:
3 stars
 
September 05, 2011
This is another Christian-themed Zombie movie. As I said re script #40, this is an interesting take but also a risky one.

There’s a new 15-page prologue, and then the rest of the first and second acts are much the same. The third act is a mix of old and new elements.

The new villain is named Seneca, but he’s essentially in the Quintus role. In this version it appears that he planned the Zombie attack on the Emperor (rather than merely took advantage of it), but it’s not clear how he controlled that first Zombie.

The Zombies seem to have a supernatural origin, but it’s left vague: one Zombie already exists at the start of the story, and it’s been locked up for 50 years. It’s described as a “a demon from the black plague,” but there’s no explanation of what that means. Wherever it came from, it’s vulnerable to Christian exorcism.

Atticus (in the Titus role) has a new and sympathetic back story: his parents were (apparently) killed by Roman soldiers hunting Christians, and he was captured by a slave trader and made into a gladiator. His goal is now more specific compared to the original version: he wants to return to the place of his childhood, where he was happy. Also, in this version he offers to sacrifice himself to save the women he cares about.

Thus, the AS notes have been only partially addressed.

I felt the time jumps in the prologue removed any urgency from the Zombie situation. The movie starts when Atticus is 9. Nero’s burning Rome and he re-discovers a caged Zombie from the time of Augustus 50 years earlier. Then the script jumps to Atticus at age 13, training to be a gladiator, when Nero’s turned into a Zombie and Saul of Tarsus is briefly introduced. Then it jumps again 15 years to take us to the first scene in the Colloseum from the original.

As I’ve said elsewhere, once the first Zombie is introduced, I think it’s important to keep all the characters in the same place and time. Otherwise it dissipates the energy and the seriousness of the Zombie threat.

Much of the new writing here is a combination of stilted, on-the-nose, anachronistic (“okay”), and over-ornate lines. Examples:

“Who are you that babbles on end without even the slightest bidding?”

“It is you that will be suckling the blood that spills down your throat!”

Also, the many punctuation and grammar mistakes throw off the "sound" of the lines.

Some specifics:

Pg. 3: Yelling “The Romans are coming” doesn’t make any sense since they’re all Romans. Could say “soldiers.”

“Comrade” sounds Russian.

Pg. 5: This is a strong, emotional scene.

Pg. 6: Did you mean to put Atticus in the scene with Nero?

The idea that this Zombie has been hanging around since the time of Augustus is underwhelming. It undercuts the idea of ZvG as the Zombie ORIGIN story if the thing’s already been there all these years. And there’s no explanation of where the name “zombie” comes from.

A “Romulan” is from Star Trek. “Romulus” is a Roman name.

Pg.12: No one seems to notice or care that Cassius is sick or that these Christians are kidnapping a Roman soldier? Didn’t he get in trouble later for deserting his post?

Also, why would Saul be so open about his missionary intentions, given that Christians were being persecuted?

And it doesn’t occur to Saul that bringing a man infected with plague TO the villages he’s ministering to might not be the best way to win friends and influence people?

Pg. 14: “Infidel” is an odd word to use here. Sounds like Crusader times....

Pg. 15: “It is rumored Domitian poisoned his brother to acquire his appointment as emperor.” This is telling, not showing. If this is important, have one of the characters mention it. And this element is never developed, so what’s the point of even mentioning it?

Pg. 16: First Coliseum scene from the original starts here.

Pg.22: Atticus’s goal is revealed: he wishes to return to the place he was happy in his childhood.

Pg. 23: The Spoliarium scene was gross and cool, but why not throw the dying slave in whole, rather than taking the trouble to chop him up? Also, doesn’t word get around that there’s a Zombie in the Coliseum? Wouldn’t the guards talk or at least be a little less blasé about it?

Pg. 32: Atticus’s interest in Seraphia, and willingness to sacrifice himself for her, makes him sympathetic, but seems under-motivated – just seeing her tattoo doesn’t seem like it would be enough, especially since he comes across as so tough earlier and presumably has seen many other Christians with similar tattoos thrown to the lions. If you establish this tattoo is unique to his family or village it would be a stronger incentive for him to rescue her.

Pg. 36: Seraphia suddenly uses magical/spiritual powers to subdue lions. AND THEN SHE NEVER USES THEM AGAIN. This is a problem. You need to be clear on what the “rules” of your world are, and apply them consistently.

Pg. 37: Not clear to my why Seneca chooses this moment to spring the Zombie on Atticus. Presumably he couldn’t have anticipated that Seraphia would subdue the lions.

Pg. 38: Lavinia would only refer to Satan if she were a Christian (or a Jew), which she doesn’t appear to be. She could refer to Hades instead.

Pg. 42: How does Seneca control the Nero-Zombie, and how did he cause it to attack the Emperor, assuming that was his plan all along?

Pg 49: Seraphia’s couplet was funny, but seems out of place given the serious tone of the script so far.

74-93: In this VERY LONG section, Atticus is incapacitated much of the time, then has a talky family reunion, then is offstage while the Zombies are doing their thing in the city. Total energy kill, just when he should be active in moving the story toward the climax.

Atticus is saved via an exorcism, but it’s not clear what he’s being exorcised FROM. The pagan god Vulcan seems to be involved, but earlier the demon was described as being “from the black plague.” What exactly is a demon FROM a plague? And is it the same demon in each Zombie, or a whole bunch of demons? (I though that possession by a demon was pretty much a one-on-one affair?)

Also, if this is part of a conflict between the pagan gods and the Christus, I’d like to know the details. Right now, all of this seems vague.

Pg 85: And after the exorcism, Atticus isn’t even cured “all the way.” So it seems kind of pointless…

Pg. 94: Atticus now has a personal motive to fight the Zombies, but it comes rather late. Also, since his relationship with Lavinia is underdeveloped (especially since he splits his affections with Seraphia), his love for her and willingness to sacrifice himself for her seems under-supported.

Pg. 95: Why does Atticus say they would never be free? Isn’t his goal to get away with Lavinia? That’s exactly what she’s suggesting, but now it seems he’s changed his goal.

109-110: The exploding Zombie heads were cool, but I would think Atticus would get pretty chewed up with all these Zombies chomping on him and getting a taste of his blood.



Overall, I think that the Zombies having something to do with the conflict between paganism and Christianity could be interesting, but that’s not developed here.

Although Atticus is somewhat more sympathetic than Titus in the original, I didn't feel he was significantly more engaging. I also felt the new elements here did not overall improve on the original script.
 

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