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

A Tragedy Without the Tragedy

Overall Recommendation:
2 stars
 
Premise:
3 stars
 
Story structure:
3 stars
 
Character:
2 stars
 
Dialogue:
3 stars
 
Emotion:
1 stars
 
September 30, 2011
Caliban has a decent enough premise: Lewis, an aspiring actor, gets his lucky break in a major Shakespearean play as the character Caliban, only to get into a near fatal auto accident that leaves him so severely disfigured that he can only play that character afterward. In fact, that's enough of a plot for an entire movie were the script to actually focus on the realistic impact of such an event.

But instead there's a psychopath on the loose.

And I'm not talking Lewis, who would have actually been more interesting as an unhinged scarred serial killer. Instead we get Bearing, a remorseless maniac who is introduced in the midst of a killing spree in a diner where he worked. Despite his lack of hurry, no police manage to show up to stop him. In this day of cell phones and instant messaging, that's a bit hard to swallow.

The lack of competent police allows Bearing to crash his Hummer full speed into Lewis as he's relaying the good news to his girlfriend, bringing up to MAJOR DISFIGUREMENT MODE.

And unfortunately, this is where the script falls completely flat. There's a brief scene where Lewis' best friend is torn up about the accident, but that's about all the emotion that's displayed for Lewis being ground into an almost exact replica of Two-Face.

It would have been something to explore the aftereffects of such trauma, but the script completely glosses over the incident. It is basically a plot point that takes the story in a certain direction, and pretty much nothing else. Candice, Lewis' girlfriend, doesn't seem fazed in the slightest. She is so supportive and loving about her man looking like living ground beef that she comes off as almost as manic as Bearing. And there's no time for Lewis to feel sorry for himself, because guess what: he's still got the part!

That's right, the director of the play is willing to put off production and rehearsal for all the months it takes Lewis to recover, because apparently NO ONE ELSE CAN PLAY THE PART. And why? Because no one else is disfigured like Lewis! Hooray! Now all Lewis has to do is learn how to walk again, and let his scars heal (but not too much), then it's off to wild applause, runaway success, and flirtation by makeup women who think it's hot to look like Frankenstein's monster. If it wasn't for the psychopathic killer, you'd think being maimed was the best chance for success on Broadway.

And that's the sad part. The script goes to great length to tie the story of Lewis and Bearing to Shakespearean tragedy, but misses on one point: there's no tragedy. Lewis' disfigurement only elevates him to fame, without a thought on the trauma and shame that would accompany such a major alteration.

Bearing is a one-dimensional killing machine, which is ok, but the attempts to humanize him come off as forced and awkward. The flashback where we learn his dad was a mother-murdering psycho seems unnecessary. We don't need to feel sorry for Bearing. It didn't work for Hannibal Lector, and it doesn't work here. After all the remorseless bloodshed, he's more interesting as a monster than a human being.

Candace is the character that I thought needed more work than Bearing. Aside from having absolutely no reaction to Lewis' disfigurement, her 'balls of steel' attitude severely detracts from the realm of realism. The incident in the bar where she slaps thugs around without any support from Lewis felt wrong on all accounts. I know that the point was to demonstrate how much of a 'ride or die' chick she is, but it came across as truly over the top. Her near-murderous rampage in the hospital didn't help much either.

Formatting: There's a few grammatical errors, but what stands out is the passive voice that pervades the script. Example:

9) Bearing is dressed in the man’s cloths.

10) He is also wearing a hat.

Which would be better as:

9) Bearing dresses in the man’s cloths.

10) He also wears a hat.

Eliminate all those 'is' lines, and the script will read better.

Bottom line: Caliban has an interesting premise that can work as a solid film with a script overhaul. If the focus is on the tragedy of these character's lives, then by all means shoot for tragic. Everything is too easy, which makes the plot seem contrived. The emotions that could have resonated instead don't exist, which in turn makes the characters paper thin.

The most interesting plot point was Bearing's obsession with Lewis' portrayal, but that doesn't happen until then end of the script. Until that point, Bearing has nothing to do except kill people, which isn't exactly original. I'd suggest finding a way to have the characters cross paths sooner, or at least start Bearing's obsession earlier in the script. There's definitely a story to be had here, if the writer would only dig deeper to find it.
 
6 out of 7 people found the following review helpful:

Shakespeare & Slashing?!

Overall Recommendation:
3 stars
 
Premise:
4 stars
 
Story structure:
2 stars
 
Character:
2 stars
 
Dialogue:
2 stars
 
Emotion:
2 stars
 
September 25, 2011
STORYTELLING -- Good opening & closing... but that stuff in between -- yiikes! You may think it’s just over my head but... idiots need to follow and understand. And I think maybe you just bit off more than you can chew.

There’s a lot of visible violence. But if you notice the movies you talked about: psycho, silence of the lambs, seven, let the right one in all have a great style but we don’t see much violence at all. We see the after effects and affects.

I’m not sure if you were trying to do a parallel story to The Tempest because I don’t know it well enough. A story like this should be full of metaphors and symbolism. Maybe someone who knows that play better can comment on that. For example: I didn’t see what was going on with the cigarette smoking that threaded throughout the story. Is the car CRASH like the boat that crashes on the island and splits the players into 2 groups to follow.

Are Lewis and Bearing parallel to the two main leads from the play? If you were trying to do this then your minor characters should also mirror Tempest characters as well. I didn’t get that you did.

For example: Brigit could have been “trapped” in a contract with the sitcom or a horror movie trilogy or something... Miranda? But you have her playing Ariel.
Also - her dialogue with her agent made him seem stupid. “Scary stuff. Scary stuff” - well, duh! Didn’t you get her the deal?!

Dr. Scott - what?! Since when have you heard a doctor say all that? “Listen, she cares so much about you.” LOL! They don’t have good bedside manners... and then his good side turns bad when he tells Lewis one by one how his body has been damaged. And you recreate it all with a visuals of the crash -- the crash we already saw in detail just moments ago. You should combine them and show us just once. I don’t get his symbolism -- and that scene where Jack threw the beer bottle at his car came out of left field.

If police officers are guarding Bearing’s hospital room then they certainly wouldn’t let visitors pass... esp without checking them. Seems silly that Candice would have access. And there are no scalpels laying around a nurses station. She should have brought her weapon with her. And those officers were way too talky-talky with a woman who just tried to stab a man in a hospital room that they were guarding. She would be locked up. And later, the hospital lets her back in. LOL! Ummm - NO!




FORMATTING STYLE -- there are no hard rules, only guidelines.

Your storytelling suffers with confusion because of it. It’s even more important with complex storytelling and multiple time lines that are not linear.

For example: so many flashbacks... and flashbacks within flashbacks. It makes it difficult to follow mostly because you never END your flashbacks. There is standard type formatting for flashbacks and you’re not using it -- but you have so many.

Plus your story needs a really strong foundation to make this work. I know you’re trying to be creative but it comes off as way too much over-directing. Slo-mo, Fast-mo, Music cues, pixilated** censor boxes (what?!), Lewis breathing on the respirator during other scenes, etc... Most of your over-direction will come in post-production. **pixilated why? Is he naked and showing his genitals??

Tons of passive verbs all the way thru: “the phone begins to ring.” “The begins to stop his car.” “People begin getting up and ducking.” You should go thru line by line and make your passive verbs into action verbs.

Lots of telling, not showing: “She is portraying a role in a movie.” “She is attempting to hide incognito.” Luther has never looked at the resume.” Just tell us what is actually on the screen. There is no need to explain it by telling.

You’re confused about VO and OS. If someone is on the phone it’s VO. If they’re in the scene but not on the screen at that moment then it’s OS.

Way too much product placement: coca-cola, M&M mars, mountain dew, Jameson whiskey, jack daniels, etc... cut out the name brands. No need to tell us what a movie concession stand looks like with product ads.

SPEECHES - you have quite a few heavy blocks of dialogue. You need to break these up with images. For exammple: when Lewis does his long Caliban speech you should have cutaways to Luther and Lucille... maybe “producer” type stuff is going on: phone calls, PA coming in with messages, ordering lunch, checking their email, etc... Make it seem like they’re not paying attention but of course, they are. Another example is when Tatyana (what a stereotype she is) talks for an entire page. This should be done simultaneously with the tv show... Which btw goes on entirely too long.

Inconsistent with overwriting and underwriting - You mostly overwrite in exhaustive detail and then you have a scene like:
“He pistol whips her. She falls to the ground. He talks down to her.” -- just the opposite.

I'm going to stop here only b/c you can apply what I said through-out the script if you choose to or not. Hope this helps.
 

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