Overall Recommendation:
3.0 stars
(4)
5 Stars:
0%
(0)
 
4 Stars:
25.0%
(1)
 
3 Stars:
50.0%
(2)
 
2 Stars:
25.0%
(1)
 
1 Stars:
0%
(0)
 
Premise:
4.5 stars
(4)
 
Story structure:
2.5 stars
(4)
 
Character:
3.3 stars
(4)
 
Dialogue:
3.3 stars
(4)
 
Emotion:
2.8 stars
(4)
 
 
1-4 of 4 reviews
Sort: Newest | Most helpful
1 out of 5 people found the following review helpful:

Cool stuff.

Overall Recommendation:
4 stars
 
Premise:
5 stars
 
Story structure:
4 stars
 
Character:
4 stars
 
Dialogue:
4 stars
 
Emotion:
4 stars
 
September 24, 2011
What can I say but GREAT!

Not only a great script, but great guy, a future talent.

Maybe you should collaborate.
 
2 out of 4 people found the following review helpful:

Revenge is a plate of chicken, best served cold...

Overall Recommendation:
3 stars
 
Premise:
5 stars
 
Story structure:
2 stars
 
Character:
4 stars
 
Dialogue:
4 stars
 
Emotion:
2 stars
 
September 05, 2011
Great scenes and moments are sprinkled within this story: The reveal of Janus talking with his dead son, zombies destroying Milan, Marcus killing Ridley and accidentally killing his wife. These are memorable moments, that if this were made into a movie, would stay with a moviegoer long after the credits.

Between those awesome moments, there's a lot of talking. Personally, I don't mind long stretches of dialogue, as long as the conversations are interesting. And for the most part, I thought the conversations in this script were interesting.

On the negative side, though, those lengthy conversations only served to move the story along in small increments...

-Janus reflects on his past glory to his son;
-Ridley and Talious talk about Diana;
-Ridley and Diana talk and stop seeing each other;
-Jason and Talious talk about the games;
-Janus tells his son about a flower, then raises the dead;
-After a battle in the arena, Marcus talks with Ridley, setting him up to sleep with his wife;
-There's a party, where we learn Diana and Talious had a relationship, and where Marcus kills Ridley and his wife (intercut with a zombie invasion in Milan)...

At this point I'm thinking we've reached the end of ACT 1...42 pages in. Maybe I'm wrong? Because after this, the two stories move to converge, with Talious heading out of Rome and Janus heading for Rome. Regardless, I'm thinking this juncture of the story could arrive sooner. Maybe by trimming about 15 pages? And by trimming, I'm suggesting the dialogue. Though I like it, I think it could be more succinct, tightened up. But, that is just my opinion...

Shortening the first act could really open up the second act, where:

-Talious and Diana make love, battle zombies, and meet Janus;
-Janus reflects on his life, describes why he hates Christians, ties up Talious, takes Diana to Rome;
-Secondary gladiators fight zombies;
-Janus sets Diana free;
-Talious speaks to the gods, and Deus sets him free;
-Janus kills Constantine...

I'm thinking the beginning of the third act is when Talious and Diana meet in Rome. Of course, again, I could be wrong. But by this point, we're on page 88, with 14 pages to go. If the second act is what I think it is, then it's about 46 pages long. But the thing is, within these pages, nothing very memorable happens, not as memorable as the first act.

Talious is put out of commission. Diana simply runs around. The secondary gladiators do the fighting. Janus rides into Rome and kills the emperor. And again, with Talious and Diana conversing, the picnic scene, Janus waxing on about his motives, Talious speaking to the gods, then to Deus...all these conversations deflate momentum. The story seems to be treading water.

If, perhaps, the heroes were given more to do...like maybe getting them back to Rome sooner? Maybe they could give Janus more of a struggle getting to Constantine. As it stands now, Janus pretty much walks up and kills the emperor. Shedding pages off the first act (where I'm thinking the first act might end), would give enough space to widen the scope of the second act as well.

As it stands now, pages 42-88 don't really go anywhere special. A few things happen, leading up to the final confrontation, with little to no tension.

Pages 88-96 is a good battle, where the secondary gladiators see some action first, and then Talious basically comes to the their rescue. Diana doesn't do much, except nearly cut off someone's head and warn Talious to hurry up.

But with a lackluster second act, and Janus seemingly defeated when he kills Constantine and his wife and child are still dead...there's not a whole lot of tension when Talious arrives. I'm thinking, the only stake either of them have in fighting is for Talious to extinguish the zombie horde and for Janus to be through with his miserable life.

At this point, shouldn't the stakes be higher? Maybe Janus goes insane? Maybe he figures he must destroy the whole empire before seeing his wife and son again? I don't know.

Talious wants to be the man he was, so he must end Janus. I'm thinking his motivation is a little thin. Other than having his brother momentarily turned into a zombie, what has Janus done to Talious personally, to motivate him? Nothing really. Tied him up, I suppose. Heck, they're practically friends too. But the fight seems mostly impersonal, generic, something that must be done, with no other motivating factors beyond that.

It's like a random fight in the Colosseum. These men square off against each other and fight. It's nothing personal between them, it's just what they do. And at this point in the story, it seems like there should be something more between these two, a sense of history within the time frame of the story, a back and forth of sorts, of one side gaining the upper hand, then losing it, so that the final battle would have a stronger impact.

And then it ends. Talious swings for Janus' corpse head and...cut to a pot. Actually, I think this works. I got the picture. Very well done.

In the aftermath, there's banter between the gladiators and Talious, between Diana and Talious that don't serve any purpose other than being there. It's more talking about this and that, that goes on for 5 pages. Could be trimmed down, or perhaps the conversations could have more purpose to them?

Anyway, in the last scene, through Janus' dead wife, Orcus says "Rise!", and the word pretty much enters Janus' mouth. Which I do not really understand. If Janus has his head crushed in or cut off, can he rise? I dunno.

Apparently Orcus wants to squash Christians and Rome for turning their back on him. Seems like a good motivation, but with all the talking and conversations, I actually had to go back an reread, because I had forgotten this point. Perhaps this point could be developed more...like right off the bat. In the beginning, when Janus says everyone who dishonors the gods will die, its very vague and easily forgettable. Perhaps adding in a line about Christianity might help to tie that thread together.

Anyway, I enjoyed the script. It's very different from any other ZvG script, and has potential to be something more.

-We have Christianity vs Orcus, a good theme.
-We have a retired gladiator who believes he is not washed up.
-We have Talious and Diana, their complicated relationship.
-We have Ridley's death.
-We have Janus and his delusional state of mind.
-We have actual zombies.

All good ingredients that make for a strong story. So, giving more clarity to the Christianity vs Orcus theme...Doing something more with Talious and Diana after they sleep together (maybe putting Diana in more danger?)...making the second and third acts as interesting and complicated as the first...and making the final battle more personal could very much strengthen the script. Of course, it's just my opinion.

Hope it's helpful.
 
2 out of 5 people found the following review helpful:

Killing Zombies by Talking them to Death

Overall Recommendation:
2 stars
 
Premise:
5 stars
 
Story structure:
1 stars
 
Character:
2 stars
 
Dialogue:
2 stars
 
Emotion:
2 stars
 
September 02, 2011
I only read the first 30 pages and skimmed the rest. Glen and Lisa already reviewed this and I agree with their comments, so I will just add a few of my own.

This is a page one rewrite that has almost nothing in common with the original other than zombies and gladiators. I didn’t notice any characters or scenes that were in the original.

The zombies don’t appear in the first 30 pages, but they do appear to have a supernatural origin, connected to Orcus, that’s revealed later. I’m guessing Ridley is the Titus surrogate, since he gets the best lines and all the sex. It appears that Janus (who is not a god, but apparently a god’s father) will be the villain, but he doesn’t actually DO anything for the first 30 pages.

And that’s the problem: for the first 30 pages, nothing HAPPENS. People talk (A LOT), and there’s some jogging and foreplay and a little fighting, but it all feels like prologue. The action scenes feel underwritten, like the characters can’t wait to get back to those LONG conversations. I kept waiting for the real story to begin.

There’s some elegant writing and good lines here, but it doesn’t feel like a movie, let alone a hundred million dollar 4 quad movie. It feels like a stage play or a novel, or maybe a very literary art house movie like “The Draftsman’s Contact.”

Some specifics:

I liked the opening image, scrolling back to the zombie origins, but then I found the first two pages dull and pointless.

Pg. 2-3: Janus is a god’s father, a former gladiator, a former actor, AND descended from emperors? That’s quite a resume two pages into the script, especially since little of this is developed in the next 30 pages.

Pg. 5: I liked the voice coming from the boy’s corpse. Very creepy.

Pg. 6: Massively overwritten. You use over 200 words to say: TALIOUS, 30s, a retired gladiator, jogs through the city streets and is joined by RIDLEY (age?), his younger brother.

Also, it just sounds silly to call a Roman “Ridley.”

6-9: Boring chit chat. But I liked the cork line.

Pg. 10: I liked Ridley’s lines on the bottom of the page.

9-13: Another long, talky scene.

13-16: And yet ANOTHER long talky scene, loaded with exposition.

16-18: And ANOTHER one, with flowers yet. The fanboys are getting restless…

Pg. 19: Claudia says, “When will the action start?” I’m wondering that myself…

Pg. 20: This jumping around to different times/places/realities is both confusing and tedious.

24-31: These are history’s most articulate and polite gladiators. They sound like they’re breaking for tea after a croquet match in “Brideshead Revisted.”

Pg. 29: I do not buy for a moment a gladiator saying a line like: “I must admit, I am rather frazzled after today’s match. Perhaps another time?” This almost seems like a Monty Python parody of a gladiator movie, but I don’t think this is intended to be a comedy.

I’m up to page 31 and I don’t know what this movie is about, or even who it’s about. If there was an inciting incident, I missed it. If the first act ended, I missed it. If anyone other than Janus has a goal, I missed it. And I’m still waiting for the zombies to show up.

There are some cool elements and good writing here, but the story, structure, and characters aren’t strong enough to make me want to read on.
 
4 out of 4 people found the following review helpful:

Things needed to read this version: Mensa friends, eccentric flare, and a good dictionary.

Overall Recommendation:
3 stars
 
Premise:
3 stars
 
Story structure:
3 stars
 
Character:
3 stars
 
Dialogue:
3 stars
 
Emotion:
3 stars
 
September 02, 2011
If I could picture a group of Harvard professors all gearing up for movie night after the big chess match, I could see them watching this version. This is a very smart dialogue driven version. Smart as in, it required me on more than one occasion to look up words most people do not use on an everyday basis (i.e. quelled, fallible, mollify, usurp). To that end, it made this version a bit boring.

My notes while reading this version:

If I’m a fallen gladiator and I can grab the leg of the gladiator who struck me down, I’m taking my mace and busting a knee cap. I realize things were different back then, but it seems Gladiator I could have put up more of a fight rather than getting beat down and then resorting to asking for mercy over fighting to the last breath - by being able to reach up and grab not his ankle or the air, but his thigh.

“Perhaps now he is only carved from oak”...can this be shown? How about a better and easier description like, he’s old and weathered.

Closely shaved head, but he has stubble on his face that matches? Closely shaven head = bald, no?

I’m reading the opening and I have this constant look on my face. You know the one where you squint your eyes, cock your head to the side, and give an abrupt, “what?” Janus, a former gladiator, now old, is having a candlelight discussion with the god of death, Orcus. But it starts with Janus giving the impression that he’s giving a lesson to Orcus – “Have you finished your studies? Your mathematics? Your history?” After Janus gives a brief history of all his killin’, we see his dead seven year old son sitting across from him (here’s that look again). ?? And so Orcus goes from being somewhat schoolboy-ish to now basically reaffirming Janus’ allegiance to the gods.

We next meet Talious as he goes on a morning run through graffiti laden streets. Was there graffiti way back then? And we discover he is a teacher. Then we meet Ridley, his brother. Talious is aged and he doesn’t have a sex life. Ridley is quite the opposite, cocky, pompous, young, and a male whore. Then we meet Diana, the woman who continually meets Ridley for some bang-bang, but now she’s ready to settle down. Like most college-aged men, Ridley lets his stance known that he doesn’t want to grow old and fat. Oddly, HE is the pissed one...not Diana. He should be happy – he has others, right?

Next we meet Jason, a gladiator friend, who is lending a hand to examine Talious’ wound. If Talious is retired from the games, why was he attacked in the arena? It’s also suggested here that your origin of the zombie will come from a jackal maybe?? Emphasis is placed on the fact that he has a wound that is still bleeding and it has come from a jackal. If this isn’t it, why have this scene?

“Janus’ inner most hallucinations are influenced by the gods themselves. The world of Janus’ mind is displayed in a distinctively different color palette and motif. Colors are steeped in too much light and should be restricted to pale tones.” Is this a directors note? Why not just say that Janus is in a vivid dream state? Janus envisions talking with his son in a garden. After the flashback, the garden is long since wilted and there’s the dead corpse of a seven year old again (and that look on my face). Is Janus carrying around the corpse of his son? Is the corpse following him somehow?

After meeting a wealthy couple, Marcus and Claudia on page 19, Janus is in a garden, confirming my earlier question: he’s carrying around his dead son’s corpse! So it’s established on page 21 that we are flip-flopping between an unfolding event involving Talious and Ridley and Janus’ reality/dream state. Two plots going on at once.

After 22 pages of confusion, it’s revealed on page 23 that Janus is in some type of parallel universe or god like realm as he declares punishment on Rome for...something. Through all of Janus’ smart speak and visions, I can’t determine why he is so bitter towards Rome and why he must call on the dead to serve punishment. The gods have been “forsaken”, but how? Why? When? And why does Janus care?

Finally it’s suggested on page 28 that perhaps Janus is more out for revenge after fighting Talious and Talious receiving rudis (mercy)?

Marcus is quite a talker. Very smart in dialogue...and very wordy. And through his intelligent speak, he manages to throw out an F-bomb. Ridley is ordered to attend a party and is given money to “service” Marcus’ wife.

Page 36/37 Janus launches a zombie march on Milan and we find that Talious and Diana were an item before Diana and Ridley. Ridley is sent to perform his “duties” and the Janus zombie mob is attacking Milan.

Marcus kills Ridley and Diana and then kills himself. Talious is granted permission to leave (albeit through a long-winded speech) the arena and take his brother home for proper burial.

Page 45 and not one zombie has fought a gladiator. We have only a love triangle and a crazy, hallucinating former gladiator carrying around his dead son’s corpse. Where are the zombies fighting gladiators? Where is the ACTION? I suppose “action” in its suggestive sense could be the detailed two page sex scene starting on page 50. The REAL action starts after the copulating. Diana is almost killed until Janus, who has been a crazy man carrying around a dead son, breaks into a happy reunion of sorts as he recognizes Talious. So far, this entire unfolding is – weird. Janus has a HUGE army of zombies and he’s on a mission to destroy, but he has time to stop and have a PICNIC!?

On page 67 we have a revelation that Janus was given lands for the event between he and Talious, only to find out that the lands belonged to Christians, who were given the rights BACK to their lands, which ended up being Janus’ nice little home. So the Christians, who were fresh off of losing Jesus and who were mostly seekers of spreading the Word, are now killers and end up killing Janus’ wife and son. And so Janus is angry. He calls upon every god in the book and the only one to answer was Orcus – god of the dead.

Page 75 and Talious goes on his own crazy spout at the gods to free him.

Page 79, Talious is freed by peasants (who were not devoured by the passing zombies) led by one named Deus ex Machina. Kind of clever – kind of cliché.

Tanner not coming alive was a HUGE let down. All of this and no satisfaction for what Janus was fighting for.

Ending left an opening for a sequel perhaps.

Compared to AS notes:
The hero, Talious (which = Titus in the orginal) is a retired gladiator who witnesses his brother’s death and seeks to give him a burial. Along the way, he’s met by Janus, the villain, who is on his way to destroy Rome with an army of zombies. His arc is one that he is slower and older than his younger, faster brother and he wishes to show he’s ‘still got it’. He’s also involved in a love triangle with Diana, once the town whore, who wishes to find someone to marry and be happy. He ends up fighting Janus for the safety of Rome, his girl, and most likely for his brother being brought back as a zombie. He lives happily ever after riding off into the sunset towards Milan – which was just ripped apart by zombies, so I’m not sure where he’ll settle into. But at least there is arc in the hero’s character.

The villain, Janus, is just...well, he’s just crazy. He carries around his dead son’s corpse...AND talks to it! He’s on a plight to rid Rome and every other nation of Christians. More specifically, Constantine who gave him lands that belonged to Christians. He and Talious were once friends and so he spares Talious not once, not twice, but three times. This only makes Talious a weaker character. Janus is the stronger character. His arc is that he is first angry at Christians, Rome, Milan, and Constantine. He calls upon the only god that will answer him, Orcus, and then uses zombies to form an army. He is crazy throughout – although very well spoken. He wants only to bring his dead son back to life in exchange for marching to Rome. Although, it is never really revealed that this was Orcus’ wishes. This was more Janus’ wishes because he had reason – them giving him lands already owned and then his family being killed. Orcus on the other hand never really chimes in why he wanted a march on Rome in the first place. Furthermore, Orcus is not really a good catalyst. First he’s out of character by acting like a son to Janus in the opening and only makes a few appearances. Weird. Finally, Janus has a change of heart, after decapitating Constantine and sparing Talious – only to end asking to have his life ended by Talious.

Origin of the zombies. According to the notes, you hit it dead on. You used Orcus to bring about zombies. But the zombies themselves only serve the purpose of being Janus’ army.

The story structure is elementary in that I could pick out all of the ACTS. Although, the hook was a little left to be desired. Also, the smart speak, long winded dialogue had me looking to see how much was left I had to read (sorry). And the love story was too long drawn out. It took almost 50 pages until we saw any REAL action (other than the detailed sex scene).

Emotion was good, but again, a bit boring. Same with the rest of the characters. They each had their own mannerisms that set them apart and gave a good flavor to the story, but: Ridley was a cocky, pompous, ass that never really had a chance to make an impact, Marcus could have been more but ended up only being a means to kill Ridley (why give him such a smart prominent role only to be used as a means to kill Ridley??), Diana was a whore – turned good girl – turned whore again – turned “I want a family”, and Talious was a typical “out of the meek rises a strong one” role.

Overall, I was expecting more action – and at least having gladiators and zombies fighting in the Colosseum (but this is my own personal opinion). The zombies are just...there. They’re an army, they’re menacing, and they kill/infect people...but they’re just...there. This movie is about zombies (main ingredient) vs gladiators (main ingredient). Yours is a love story mixed with a story of a crazy man and sprinkled with zombies for good looks. The love triangle plot took up a lot of the movie that could have been used for ACTION. The crazy man bit was a little entertaining at times while also a little confusing and annoying. The zombie scenes were good – when you finally got to them and used them fighting gladiators. Oh, and the Deus ex Machina bit seemed too left field. They appear, they set Talious free, and then *poof* they’re gone by means of fancy, smart speak.

This version has very smart dialogue, but it’s a bit boring for my taste. This would appeal more to a crowd of movie goers around high IQ cities. Kids are going to be bored – VERY QUICKLY. If your aim was a narrower audience – meaning, anyone over the age of say, 30 – then you did a good job. But if you wanted to draw in a very broad audience – say kid aged on up – then you missed the mark on this one. And that means, losing the smart speak and adding more action.

Smart but boring dialogue:
TANNER – “So she is related to Jupiter?” JANUS – “That is not their assertion, no.”
JANUS – “Because, my boy, it is not in the practice of those who seek to usurp and control to compromise. They mollify the masses by making conversion as easy as possible. It is up to the follower to hold strong to his beliefs…”
“My tongue is as impulsive with cynicism as it is with wine.”
“I am just a man, Diana. I am fallible.”
“I am not attempting to obligate a similar declaration in response.”
“Some magic must bind these unnatural creatures. How is the plight quelled?”
 

Reviews for