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:
4.0 stars
(2)
 
Story structure:
4.0 stars
(2)
 
Character:
3.0 stars
(2)
 
Dialogue:
2.5 stars
(2)
 
Emotion:
2.5 stars
(2)
 
 
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1 out of 4 people found the following review helpful:

Good Times!

Overall Recommendation:
4 stars
 
Premise:
4 stars
 
Story structure:
5 stars
 
Character:
4 stars
 
Dialogue:
3 stars
 
Emotion:
3 stars
 
September 07, 2011
I love me some good horror/comedy, and this script gets very close to being a near perfect one. It's a quick read, very entertaining, and had me in a genuinely good mood throughout, with points of laughter here and there.

Though...

The one scene that vexes the fun, for me, was Quintus and the 10 year old slave girl. First, the dude is alone in the room with her. Creepy. Then, he kills her. Boooooo. All because Orcus was inhabiting her body. This is 17 pages in, and I'm wondering how much of the audience you'd lose right here.

Perhaps if the tone of the script was more serious, more dark and gritty, it would be slightly more allowable, but in the spirit of the script, this seems out of place and a bit over the top, even if it's just trying to convey that Quintus is a bad guy. In all reality, does the age and gender of whoever Orcus inhabits really matter? Could it be an old dude with false teeth, and when Orcus is trying to speak, his teeth keep falling out? Could it be a guard with a stuttering problem? Could it be an assassin sent from a rival senator...could it be anyone? Sure. But a 10 year old girl falls flat. To me, anyway.

Beyond that, the mood is good, very much in the vein of something like Army of Darkness.

From a story standpoint, the biggest hole for me was the relation between Orcus and the Panther. By what I can surmise, Orcus is basically stuck in the temple. It's not like he can go around nabbing up the woman of his dreams, Cassia, as far as I can tell. Perhaps it needs to be established that he needs Quintus to bring her to the temple, which he ultimately ends up doing. As it is, from the standpoint of a viewer, if he's been summoned and he's in a bodily form, people may think: Well, why doesn't Orcus just go get her?

Beyond that, what connection does Orcus have with African mythology? It seems like two worlds greatly separated. When the panther arrives on the dock, it almost seems like a coincidence. Like the plot with Orcus is something completely different to the plot with the panther. The dock scene seems shoehorned in, and in reality, mostly unnecessary.

My reasoning is this: If the zombie infection is directly caused by Orcus, the beginning of that infection should start with something Roman, or even personally by Orcus. What if Quintus goes back to the temple hoping to appease Orcus with another wolf, because he doesn't want to sacrifice Cassia? Right before Quintus sacrifices it, Orcus intervenes, turns the wolf into some zombie thing that attacks someone and escapes? Just a suggestion...but I was thinking the link between Orcus and the zombie outbreak could have been stronger.

With Orcus telling Quintus that "You will bring my sacrifice to me or I will unleash my army on the city." And then having Dax joking at the panther: "Did Orcus send you, little one?" It comes across rather thin. The moments seems to fly by. How and why does Orcus need an African animal to raise his army?

So...Titus is 28 years old. Cassia is a nubile young 19 year old. This is most definitely a match made in every male fantasy. The young woman transfixed by the older dude. Honestly, it doesn't matter if there's any chemistry between them or not. She's beautiful. She wants him right off the bat. Titus has been surrounded by swinging d*** for a good number of years. How could he deny? Right? Right!?

But here's the thing: is there anything endearing about Cassia for an audience to latch onto? She comes across as someone bratty. Sure, she's determined, but her strong personality gets a bit annoying. Other than sex, I didn't read one moment that convinced me why Titus would fall in love with her. Why anyone would.

In fact, I don't think he does. It seemed to me he wanted to save her only because: OMG! She's hot! She's into me! I gotta keep her around for a little while longer! Once the zombie invasion is over, I could totally see him blowing her off.

In my opinion, she might be a stronger character if she matured throughout the script. She could be all immature at first, but after seeing all the death, her father being turned into a zombie (to which she has moment of surprise, but then seems to not really carer about), the life and death situations, she could mentally grow up. Maybe involve a bit of vulnerability? Maybe slowly change her dialogue, make it more mature? Regardless, it seems an audience will root for her if she has a stronger character arc.

So once the zombie is unleashed, there's plenty of fantastic scenes. With the elephants, the sewers and zombie animals, the exploding barrels of oil, the brothel. These scenes have improved, especially Cassia on the elephant and the underground tunnel turning into a nightmare for the heroes, with the zombie animals and zombies on fire. Very well done! For the most part, things seem mostly intact story-wise from the original script, until we get to the garrison.

Apparently, Cassia is in the mood for love, despite the zombie invasion, her father turning into a zombie, and nearly dying in the sewers. But you know, when you take a breather, might as well take the most of it. And, of course, Titus obliges. My favorite scene is Titus in the stockade, and Quintus tells him, "I've seen the way you look at her." Referring to Cassia. But, Quintus has already walked in on the two in bed! He knows they've slept together! Perhaps it was an oversight, but I like to think that Quintus has blocked it out of his mind, having observed the woman he loves in bed with Titus, and is in a state of denial.

As for the third act: I LOVED the zombie elephant and the flying/on fire zombies! Especially the flying zombies. What a great visual! Loved Titus trying to get out of the stockade, asking for a key. Not sure if the zombie picking up the key works. It's a funny scene when the zombie tries to eat it, but then it unlocks the cell. Perhaps if it was specified that it's a Zombie Soldier with the key, one that was guarding Titus, it might be more believable.

Things do get a little wonky when Lucius turns into a zombie. His chariot flips over and then he turns into a zombie. It's quick and not very memorable. We've been with this guy for most of the movie. He needs a memorable end, and something to stick in the audiences mind, since he ultimately "dethrones" Flavius with a swift lopping off of the head, another quick scene. It seems almost too random.

Don't get me wrong, it caught me by surprise when Lucius kills Flavius, and I liked it, but it seemed so quick, so random, that it did not hold any meaningfulness. It just happens and we move on. Maybe a quick set up? Of Flavius directing his army and Lucius having nothing to do with it? Maybe Lucius sneaking up on Flavius? Nothing better than zombie betrayal! But it needs a bit more.

Loved Titus trying to figure out where Quintus took Cassia. When he gets there, we come again to the panther. Now, I love the fact that the panther turns into a sort of hydra, but it seems to be mixing two different mythologies again. African and Greek. And the fact that the panther starts to grow more heads every time one is cut off, as thrilling as it is, comes across more confusing than anything.

We're in a zombie movie, and now this panther is growing heads like we're in Clash of the Titans. It's so out of the blue. I'm thinking that maybe if something of this sort was set up earlier it wouldn't be so shocking. Not sure how it would work. Maybe if Orcus, unsatisfied with his zombie army, decides to ratchet up his power, and all the beheaded zombies come back to life with multiple heads? I dunno. What if there was no way to kill a zombie except to kill Orcus at this point? Well...except for cauterizing the neck, but how difficult would that be!?

And about vanquishing Orcus. Choking him to death seems rather easy. There should be something inventive. Like, what if Quintus was really Flavius' first daughter, though Flavius wanted a boy, and so Quintus has been living this secret life, and Titus ends up stuffing him/her into Orcus' mouth? Hey, he got what he wanted! Flavius' daughter! Or Titus has to choke Cassia to death, giving Orcus what he wants, only to revive her afterwards. I dunno. The movie has been building to this point. It seems like it should be spectacular or emotional or something.

Loved that the zombies turned to ashes!

But it's tough. With only a couple months to revise a screenplay, this one is great fun and entertaining. If there had been more time, I could see this version becoming a classic. It would be well worth it to continue revising, to enter it into the monthly contest. A great read, paced well, with quirky characters, and a better plot (that could use some fine tuning). A great adventure!
 
3 out of 3 people found the following review helpful:

Solves some problems, but creates some others

Overall Recommendation:
3 stars
 
Premise:
4 stars
 
Story structure:
3 stars
 
Character:
2 stars
 
Dialogue:
2 stars
 
Emotion:
2 stars
 
September 05, 2011
This rewrite makes substantial changes to the original while keeping much of the scenes and many of the characters while adding deleting and changing a few. There is an additional villain, the god Orcus, who becomes a mystical element behind the zombies. Orcus is invoked by Quintus who takes on more of a villainous role right from the beginning.

The nit-picky details:

Pg #9 “The biggest, strongest of the captured Africans.”
Need to cut this remnant of the original. We haven’t seen that Africans were captured and it really isn’t filmable that they are the “biggest and strongest.” If you keep it, it should be more like: “Big, strong Africans.”

Pg#15 “Quintus grabs a cluster of grapes from a fruit bowl. He begins dropping the cluster into his mouth.”
A bit cliché, but I like the choking and spitting it out.

His purpose for bringing the slave to the room is unclear. I can guess, but maybe a line or two of innuendo before Orcus shows up.

Pg #22 You need a Scene heading taking us to the Colosseum before the less formal IN THE ARENA

Pg #23 Hadrian is put to death after a single failure, I though previously it said he had a month to succeed? Need to change one of those.

It bugged me in the original that the emperor should be jealous of a slave. It’s true that was a motivation in Gladiator, but they showed that he was a person who craved attention for which he was deprived and the gladiator and the emperor had a history. You’ve corrected the issue in the original by making the emperor want to kill the gladiator because of his daughter. Much better motivation. The party makes more sense as well, so he can fool his daughter into believing that he would not be trying to kill him.

Pg #40 Good idea having Cassia take over driving the elephant, so Titus can fight. I like that.

Pg #42 You could add a line just having Cassia say “Oops, sorry dad.” Or something like that when she bumps over the statues of her dad.

Pg #43 I know they had crossbows in the original, but my research showed they didn’t have them in Rome in 300 AD. I can usually accept anachronistic elements if they are supported creatively, like if there is an inventor in the story, such as the blacksmith who created the lightweight armor in Knight’s Tale, also that film already established a trend of anachronisms in the use of music and dance. Otherwise it just seems like a mistake.

Pg #47 “Marcus, out of his armor, walks over to Antonius. The Senator takes a step towards him, trips, and spills the wine all over Marcus.”

That’s one coincidence. An audience will accept one or two. It’s better if the BAM! On the door that follows comes sooner and startles him, less coincidence and more of a natural reason to trip. Titus’ armor line doesn’t work for me so that could be cut in my opinion.

Pg# 54 “...It rolls down the hall...” They’re still in the sewers, not sure hall is the right term, happens several more times in the next couple pages.

Pg# 72-73 I like the “key” lines.

Pg# 73 “Suddenly, the flaming zombie drops down into the cell in front of Titus, along with chunks of rock and clay.
Titus looks up. There‘s a gaping hole in the ceiling!”

That’s two coincidences.

Pg# 74 “Which shrine?” I like that.

I like the zombie catapult, clever idea.

Pg# 83 “She jumps up, holding her chains, and takes off in the same direction as Quintus.” Then in just a few lines, “Quintus sees Cassia running down a hill.”

Your intention is unclear. How’d she get past him?

Pg# 85 “Suddenly, Flavius is DECAPITATED. His head falls off, and his body keels over. Standing behind him and holding a sword is Zombie-Lucius.”

I’d almost call this a third coincidence. He comes out of nowhere. It is a bit of a let down for the death of one of the villains.

Pg# 86 “Now the zombie-panther has two heads!”

I’ll be looking for why. Nope, never found out why.

Pg# 88 “It spins and spins and spins, decapitating the right arm of Quintus, right before his dagger comes down.”

Use “severing.” Decapitating just applies to heads.

I think we need to see that Orcus is influencing some of the occurrences earlier in the script. Quintus says so, but that doesn’t feel like it’s enough. Maybe if he appears like he did in the slave girl in a few other people, that could be cool.

Overall, I found it an improvement over the original in some aspects, but I feel there are some problems.

The tone is inconsistent. This seems largely due to the fact you developed new characters, but kept a lot of the original story. For example Cassia. I like the modern expressions and flippant tone, but she is the only one in the screenplay that goes quite that far and she contrasts with all but the more goofy bits of Quintus. Quintus goes from being Goofy to being evil, to being a senator (remnants from the original) to being an emperor. I’m not getting that Titus likes Cassia. I would rather see him come around to love her and her to tone down as she gets him to love her, to keep the energy, but loose the annoyingness. Like when she is jumping for joy at killing all the zombies, he could hush her up and kiss her, making her focus on him. If he doesn’t love her he merely used her at the garrison for sex and that will drop him in the eyes of the audience. Have him make believe that he doesn’t love her, but secretly he does, it might make him more interesting.

I think the tone could be improved by going more toward the comedy side. There is lots of comedy in, but it doesn't quite go far enough, ending up in uneven tone.

Killing Orcus. I’m not too sure about that. He is a god. Can a mortal kill him? For one thing, his death is kind of Mehh (sp?). Yeah he floats up, yeah Titus chokes him...Mehh. They drift back down and the zombies catch fire...Mehh. How is it he was able to do it? Pure strength? Stronger than a god? That has to be established somehow. Maybe if Titus claimed then that he loved her...or disclosed that he had sex with her...or what if they did get married? Maybe this could dissuade or weaken Orcus or somehow give Titus a boost to allow him to triumph. In the humorous vein, it may even be cool if Titus just says “Talk to it” and she says stuff like “for a god, you have an awfully small penis.” Until Orcus changes his mind about wanting her.

None of the villain deaths really got me excited. An audience likes to see a villain get what is coming to them. Orcus gets strangled (mehh), Flavius gets his head hacked off with no warning, (what was that?), Quintus gets...I can’t remember. I have to go back to the script and look. Oh yeah he gets strangled and his neck broken (mehh). It didn’t work for me with the god, I doubt it will be terribly exciting with a skinny senator.

While Orcus ultimately causes the zombies to appear, he does it for reasons that seem to me like a god should be able to do easier in other ways. Why didn’t he just take Cassia before? Need to set some ground rules that can make his limitations evident, and make killing him or dispensing with him at least possible.

Ultimately, for two months work, this is not too bad. Most of the problems could be fixed fairly easily. I don’t see any fatal flaws that make it unworkable, except the idea of having to kill a god.

These are just my opinions. I tried to be as honest in my review as I could. Considering this is two months of work only, I would give it four stars because all the flaws can be fixed in a couple of rewrites, but as is I think the tone is too inconsistent for four stars.

Good luck with it in the contest!
 

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