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In addition to being a writer, I am the co-founder of GZ Storm, an independent game development studio.
 

Reviews Adrian Has Written

Evolver, Zaki's Test Movie

0 out of 0 people found the following review helpful:

Review of Evolver

Overall Recommendation:
3 stars
 
Premise:
3 stars
 
Story structure:
4 stars
 
Character:
3 stars
 
Dialogue:
3 stars
 
Emotion:
2 stars
 
February 15, 2012
CONCEPT: What if the perfect killing machine was created? Clearly there is potential in a shapeshifting, seemingly invincible creature. Especially in a contained horror, like this was.

But was this premise taken to the extreme? I don't think so. The Evolver could be a lot more vicious and menacing throughout.

STORY: I can't quite tell you why all those criminals (and the undercover cop and “Shades”, etc.) met up at the seemingly abandoned military facility at the start. Were they there to split up the money from what seemed to be a recent heist? If so, why meet up there? And why have Shades in the team? I know Shades wanted to bring them there to ultimately feed the Evolver. But how could he possibly know that one of them would shoot another so that his blood would drip down a drain and seemingly bring the Evolver back to life?

It just doesn't quite make sense to me. Part of that may be due to the low-sounding and over-echoing dialogue that was, for the most part, overpowered by the ambient noise that pervaded every scene.

It seems like an odd choice, too, to make Zeke shoot the heroine's brother and then, by the end, have her come to care for Zeke and his welfare (if they ever make it out of there alive). It didn't quite ring true.

CHARACTERS: Overall, I think this story had too many characters in it. Being a contained horror, I know you need a few characters to get killed every now and then, but I still think this story could benefit from axing a couple of them completely.

The lesbian duo felt gratuitous. And why did they throw the bag off the bridge in the beginning?

Zeke's change of heart, when he tells Thrilla (I think that's his name) that he's staying in the building with the heroine, to set it ablaze, seemed to come out of nowhere. And, therefore, wasn't all that believable.

Clearly there was effort to give Zeke some dimensions, via a backstory that kept on alluding to “Phoenix” (which, come the end, he claims he wasn't even there). Also, I know he shot the heroine's brother by accident, but why be so needlessly aggressive in the first place?

Shades was a good mystery character. But his death (which lasted a bit too long) and his mindset (of bringing these criminals here to feed his creation), I just wasn't buying.

STRUCTURE: The structure isn't too bad. But I would introduce Zeke a bit earlier. Also, I would cut down on the character count (is the “throwing the bag off the bridge” scene necessary?).

The opening took a bit too long, with all those fades to the credits.

The first act confused me because I couldn't quite grasp who everyone was and what their roles were (like the mustachioed fellow wearing the hat). The I-won't-let-you-hear-anything-else ambience most certainly played a role in that.

The second act, while competent, lacked originality to some degree. There were no cool kills, nothing I had not seen before. Nothing memorable. Moreover, I found that I really didn't care for any of the characters as much as I should've. And I didn't get this feeling like the Evolver was all-powerful. It didn't seem all that menacing.

The third act could've been a lot more tougher on Zeke and the heroine. I felt there escape was too easy. And the image of the heroine holding out her hand across the digital flames to a Zeke who seemed far away looked a bit ridiculous (as if the heroine had poor depth of vision).

The resolution twist, while not surprising, was a nice touch.

DIALOGUE: Solid, for the most part. But many of the one-liners (if I could hear them through the ambience) felt stilted.

OVERALL: The ambient noise overpowered the low-sounding dialogue, making it hard to hear what the actors were saying in almost every scene. That alone makes this movie very hard to watch and enjoy.

Structurally and story-wise, there is stuff to build on and improve upon here.

The characters, I feel, could use more work, too; amp up their personalities and traits.

Finally, congratulations on all your success with this project. Clearly you've put a lot of effort into it.

All the best with this and other projects in the future.
 

Z-Man, Joseph's final cut hi res

0 out of 2 people found the following review helpful:

Review of Z-Man

Overall Recommendation:
2 stars
 
Premise:
2 stars
 
Story structure:
2 stars
 
Character:
2 stars
 
Dialogue:
2 stars
 
Emotion:
2 stars
 
February 14, 2012
CONCEPT: What if a dying research scientist decided to inject himself with an untested formula that inadvertently turned him into a zombie? It's a strange concept, namely because the protagonist doesn't turn into the prototypical zombie, but sort of temporarily regains his humanity after munching on a brain. It's not what I expected.

An alternative to this concept could have Zedderman slowly turn into a zombie, slowly developing his lust for brains. Doing such would bring instant urgency to the overall story (in the form of “can Zedderman find a cure before he turns into a zombie?”). Not to mention, the overall goal of the story would be pretty clear.

Such an alternative concept could give you a chance to develop higher stakes too. Maybe his family cannot survive without him financially.

There would be room for dramatic irony, too, as Zedderman could keep the secret of his illness from his wife—while she talks about her future plans, how they should buy a bigger house, etc.

STORY: To be honest, the story, as told in Test Movie #9, confused me. I couldn't tell you exactly what the protagonist was working on (a vaccine of some sort) or why, after he injected himself, he needed to get the five million dollars. I think you mention that he needs it to complete his research, but then you have his wife in the lab doing her own experiments (or finishing up his research—I'm not sure).

The goal needs to be made more clear. How will five million dollars help Z-Man achieve his goal? I never got the sense that he really could be saved from his condition.

What's really at stake here? Zedderman's humanity? He's fighting for his life but I never get the sense that he could actually achieve it.

The urgency, I suppose, comes from what seems to be his increasingly poor state, almost as if he's nearing a threshold at which, once crossed, there will be no chance at recovery. But still I'm not sure.

Maybe have it so that, if Zedderman doesn't recover, his wife will lose the house, or his death benefits, so his family will suffer if he can't recover.

The repetition of brain-eating scenes doesn't help either. Zedderman, in his brain-eating frenzy, seems to be unstoppable. Where is the insurmountable odds? Where is the villain? Why didn't Z-Man kill Heston when he had the chance (in the garbage truck)? Given Z-Man's almost mindless nature, I don't know what stopped him from doing such.

CHARACTERS: Zedderman, like all the characters in this story, lacked dimensions. I can't tell you all that much about these characters because it seems like they don't have much of a past. They just felt quite flat.

Giving Heston that dog as a companion seemed like an odd choice, too. I mean, it seems like he is the antagonist early on. Giving him that dog seems like a choice to give him sympathy. It just didn't quite click.

I know you introduced the Old Man character on the TV early on, but at the end, when Zedderman kills him, I just didn't know how he factored into the story.

STRUCTURE: The structure of this story did not aid in giving me any sense of when this story was going to end. I never anticipated the moments to come because I simply didn't understand what the protagonist was trying to do. I still don't know why he went to the military base (or was it a ship) with Heston and the Army Guy. Moreover, why did the Army Guy help Heston and Z-Man attack the military base? I couldn't tell you.

DIALOGUE: The dialogue felt odd in places. The one-liners, most of the time, fell flat and seemed forced. While I wouldn't call the dialogue horrible, I would say it lacked luster.

OVERALL: The artwork sufficed. However, there were a lot of moments when you would cut to black or focus too closely in on certain images. I feel like this could definitely benefit from more frames.

I have a feeling you had to cut corners making this test movie just to get it finished. And maybe that hurt the overall telling of the story to some degree. But I can't imagine that the cutting of corners reduced the clarity of the story all that much versus the screenplay version of the tale.

Though, the biggest problem with this is the telling of the story, and its overall structure. Things need to be crystal clear. One should never be in doubt as to what the characters are trying to achieve. And, unfortunately, I found myself wondering, most of the time, what the protagonist's goal was and why.

Congrats, though, on winning the Best Test Movie prize and all the other awards this project has garnered. You've clearly put a lot of effort in this and are well deserving of the honor.

Good luck with this and all your future endeavors.
 

Blackburn Burrow, J. H.'s 4th Draft

1 out of 5 people found the following review helpful:

Review of Blackburn Burrow

Overall Recommendation:
4 stars
 
Premise:
5 stars
 
Story structure:
3 stars
 
Character:
3 stars
 
Dialogue:
4 stars
 
Emotion:
3 stars
 
May 17, 2011
CONCEPT: What if a nomadic ghost hunter came across a whole village full of monsters? I think it's a good concept, one that has a lot of potential.

STORY: The story could potentially be set up better. For instance, adding more mystery by rumblings of occult activity taking place at the Mayor's farm or some such (maybe the Shopkeeper tells Mister this). Or maybe have a crazy drifter utter something prophetic to Mister as he walks on into town.

Coming up to page 42, Mister had not faced insurmountable odds yet. I always thought he'd make it out alive by either killing the monster or running away. This could be improved.

By page 51 we learn Mister lost a wife and son to something demonic. Which is good, giving Mister a history, a reason to do what he does. I think Mister could do with more of a backstory, though. Maybe make him an ex-priest.

By page 62 Mister's goal changes to going back to Blackburn Burrow and killing the 30 or so monsters there, stating that it is more or less his duty and that only he is capable of destroying them. I think this is a bit of a weak motivation. After all, Mister and Merrin haven't really been in danger ever since escaping from the town.

By the end of page 70 Mister is on his way to Blackburn burrow with a map made for him by Merrin. Personally, I think there needs to be more at stake them simply his duty. Also, Harper, the Army commander, just trusts Mister to take care of business without even asking what's going on. I would've rather there have been a subplot with Harper, him being a coward perhaps, and perhaps going with Mister there to clear the town of monsters (maybe even make him a skeptic) but when things get tough, he turns on Mister and runs away. But maybe he ends up coming back to save Mister in the end.

I think, overall, the stakes that drive him into Blackburn Burrow need to be higher—like Merrin has been kidnapped by the demons, or is herself possessed, and Harper's army wants her dead. Ergo, Mister has to save Merrin before Harper kills her. Mister, obviously, would need to be assured that he can exorcize the demons in Merrin first. Maybe he used to be an ex-priest or some such.

The Missing Soldier Monster tells Merrin they can't die, they live off of fear, so the only way to kill them is to not fear them. It is Batman-Villain-esque. Not good.

Raise the stakes. Doing such will make this story that much better.

CHARACTERS: Mister is a bit strange. He's one-part aloof, invincible, wisecracking ghost killer around almost everyone and one-part talky, sensitive caretaker when he's with Merrin. Not that that's bad. I just felt like his character might be almost just as quiet around Merrin as he is everyone else.

Merrin is a bit strange, too. I mean, would she really trust Mister right away, when she first meets him in town? It might be plausible all things considered, it just feels a bit contrived, or unbelievable, the way it is set-up. But still, overall, it is plausible.

With Harper I felt there was a missed opportunity. He never gave Mister any problems. I think he should have ended up being a thorn in Mister's side. Such would've added to the conflict.

The Monsters were pretty run-of-the-mill. It was disappointing to see them talk so much in the end, toying with the hero. It really took away from their gruesomeness, I thought. Plus, when the Missing Soldier Monster tells Merrin how they can be killed, that just seemed like something a Batman Villain might do.

STRUCTURE: The first act was good for the most part, with Mister meeting Merrin and agreeing to accompany her to safety. That way we have a goal for Mister, get to the Mayor's farm.

I think the second act, however, lacked in horrific scenes, with only the escape from the Mayor's farmhouse and the Merrin's dream serving to horrify the reader to some degree. I think a lot more could be set up in this act. Maybe hint that the world is in danger, use the relief to suggest such.

The third act simply lacked stakes. Mister doesn't even discover that the monsters are coming to take over the world until late in the third act. If anything, something along those lines should be driving the third act to some degree.

Mister also appears far too good in that third act. He really doesn't have any flaw. Add to that overconfident enemies which toy with him verbally and that substantially reduces the antagonist's formidability. The reader needs to think that Mister is facing some pretty epic odds here, seemingly insurmountable. I think a lot could be done to make this third act better than it is.

The ending sets up for a sequel and suggests a new foe. But Mister doesn't even fear killing his son, so that sort of takes away from any tension that could come down the line.

DIALOGUE: While the dialogue was long in parts, I felt that, overall, it was well-written and fitting.

OVERALL: It's a good script. But there is room for improvement. And I think this concept is definitely worth spending some time on to improve.

The actions lines are mountainous. Just scanning a few pages and seeing such big blocks of text will turn a lot of readers off instantly. Surprisingly, though, I found that the blocks of text didn't always slow down the read. But they did puff up this story to make it seem bigger than it is. I would reduce them to three lines max. Focus on showing only the pertinent information.
 

DIARY OF A DEITY, Angus's 10th Draft

2 out of 4 people found the following review helpful:

Review of Diary of a Deity

Overall Recommendation:
1 stars
 
Premise:
1 stars
 
Story structure:
1 stars
 
Character:
1 stars
 
Dialogue:
1 stars
 
Emotion:
1 stars
 
May 16, 2011
CONCEPT: What if. . . angels and demons fought each other for sole ownership of immortality (and they needed a page of a book to do so)? What if a man sought redemption? Are those the concepts at play here? After reading the whole story through, I'm not entirely sure I can say just what it's about.

STORY: It's a confusing story. I'm not sure I can even give a good summary of it. And that's because I could never really picture what was going on all that well due to the choppy and oftentimes confusing action lines. Therefore, I was constantly aware that I was reading a story. In short, the action lines just didn't flow for me, which made this a hard read from the get-go.

Here's a few example of choppy action lines:

Angle cups his eyes with jittery hand. (On page 4. It should be “. . . with A jittery hand.”)

Cassandra wipes at her foggy window, a demon, eye to eye. (On page 19. This line could do with two sentences or something like this: “Cassandra wipes away the fog from the window. . . when, suddenly, a demon stares her in the eyes.”)

Pops trunk, grabs shotgun, a 9mm, the evidence bag, looks at Cassandra. (On page 83. This line, like so many others, would flow a lot better, if it was written more smoothly. Something like this: “Angle pops the trunk, pulls out a shotgun, a 9mm, and the evidence bag, then looks at Cassandra.”)

A good story should make one want to continue reading it, make one want to figure out what is going to happen next, or how our hero will get out of it all alive. This story, more so than anything else, frustrated me and confused me. It should have encouraged me to keep on reading and rewarded me along the way.

CHARACTERS: There are too many characters in this story. And they currently only serve to add to the mountain of confusion already running rampant in this script.

STRUCTURE: It's difficult to even speak of structure here because I can't really even give much of a summary of what happened in this story.

DIALOGUE: The dialogue felt stilted and unnatural.

Very odd way of saying things. E.g., WALTER: “OK fellas, Captain's Office is two doors down. This is not a great juncture in your careers for a brawl.” Juncture? That just doesn't sound right at all. Not natural at all.

It's like English is every character's second language. The dialogue just doesn't feel natural, like something an English speaker would say.

OVERALL: 15 pages in and I don't know what the main character wants or what his goal is. 31 pages in and I have no idea what's going on. Or very little idea. It's a quick enough read, but I'm not wondering where things will go, I have no dramatic question in my mind that I want answered. I can't figure out who wants what and why. There are cops and demons. I'm just reading words on a page and getting more confused by the minute. It's a frustrating read.

The actions lines just aren't painting a very good picture. Every time I read one of these chopped-up lines I'm yanked out of the story anew.

Plenty of formatting problems (like names of a character appearing on the end of one page and his dialogue appearing on the next). Missing words on many pages. Missing periods and apostrophes.

This needs a good re-write. The number one fix right now should be the choppy actions lines and the unnatural dialogue.

Other than that my only concern would be with the story (the bits and pieces of it that I did comprehend). If this is about cops and demons and deja vu and strange baseball quips, I'm not all that confident that this hodgepodge of elements really works together or could be made to work all that well together. I just don't have a lot of confidence that these sundry elements could form a cohesive plot. But perhaps I'm wrong. I hope these notes will serve to motivate you to prove me wrong and make this the best script this can be.

I wish you well with this.
 

Monster Mash, Anthony's Original Draft

0 out of 1 people found the following review helpful:

Review of Monster Mash

Overall Recommendation:
2 stars
 
Premise:
2 stars
 
Story structure:
2 stars
 
Character:
3 stars
 
Dialogue:
2 stars
 
Emotion:
2 stars
 
May 03, 2011
CONCEPT: What if the Hollywood Monsters were real and, years after their time in the limelight, they were being targeted by a serial monster killer? I think the biggest problem with this concept is the Hollywood Monsters. I mean, are they really relevant anymore?

STORY: While there certainly is mystery throughout the story regarding who is behind the monster murders, I think the story is a bit meandering. I don't think Dracula really needs Annabella to make his story work. In fact, I think it would make his character more sympathetic if the whole Annabella/Dean love storyline was dropped. Because that way Dracula would be on his own. Having no one in his family would definitely draw sympathy. Maybe even put him and some other monsters in a retirement home. No one remembers and no one cares. Then maybe, in the end, announce that he and the other monsters will be given an Honorary Oscar.

It's good that Barr has an arch and ends up thanking Dracula in the end. But the fact that Harvey Barr first started hating Dracula for not saving his mother in the theatre fire when he was a kid just wasn't believable for me.

CHARACTERS: There were far too many characters in this story. A lot of them unnecessary. For instance, Dean and Annabella. You could probably get rid of a couple monsters, too.

All of the characters had distinct personalities, which was good. Nice job.

STRUCTURE: The structure was okay. But I think the story could have moved a bit faster. Cutting the character count would help improve this. Maybe the hunchback's death should come earlier, too. And just put Jekyll's funeral before that.

The actions lines, for the most part, were good throughout.

DIALOGUE: The dialogue needs some work. For instance, Dean's “I try to be good” line to Annabella made no sense to me whatsoever. It just didn't sound right. Even Dracula when he says “Sure am” as he's watching Hollywood Here and Now. It just doesn't seem like something he would say.

OVERALL: The idea of the old-time Hollywood monsters starring in a movie just doesn't seem like it would have much appeal. Even if it was made into an animated film I would still have my doubts that this could draw a wide audience.

This seems like more of a passion project.

Congratulations on your semi-finalist awards.
 

MAD DOG, Tom's Original Draft

0 out of 2 people found the following review helpful:

Review of Mad Dog

Overall Recommendation:
2 stars
 
Premise:
3 stars
 
Story structure:
1 stars
 
Character:
1 stars
 
Dialogue:
2 stars
 
Emotion:
2 stars
 
May 03, 2011
CONCEPT: What if four hoodlums robbed a wealthy family at gun point? It's an okay concept with a lot of potential to be made exciting.

STORY: Lacks conflict.

It took far too long for the Inciting Incident/First Act Climax to occur. Too much episodic exposition prior to it, too. Act One simply drags.

In general the story lacks suspense and tension.

CHARACTERS: The antagonists were unrealistic and ridiculous. Bumbling even, as if they belonged in a comedy. They weren't taking what they were doing seriously. So I never thought of them as much of a threat. I never once thought that they were more powerful than the protagonist even with that gun because of their idiotic, somewhat comedic attitudes.

The antagonist's goal of stealing all the money and heading to Mexico could have been achieved in easier ways. It's just not believable that someone would just, out of the blue, rob a place like this. It's all so unbelievable.

Why not start by establishing that Zack and Katie have known each other for a while, and have her invite him to dinner? Then show a scene in which Zack and his buddies talk about how tonight's the night they rob Katie's family. Maybe Katie tells them they'll be alone. And Zack plans on doing things the easy way, by screwing Katie while his buddies rob the place. But then things don't go as planned. Ryan and his wife and son don't go out to the movies after all, they head back home; maybe Ryan forgot his wallet. That's when one of the thugs pulls out a gun—something that Zack didn't even know was going to be brought. Stuff like that. Make the reader anticipate what's going to happen and then trick him, basically. Such would build much needed tension and suspense.

The protagonist, Ryan, was one-dimensional. He lacked inner conflict despite showing him, early on, to be somewhat of a pacifist. Then, at the end, he kills Tony and Alex in ridiculous ways, as if he was once a seasoned killer.

If anything, I would argue that there are too many characters. All of them are boring.

Also, it's hard to empathize with a hero who is so rich.

STRUCTURE: Big problem with the first act. It's too long. It drags on.

DIALOGUE: The dialogue is okay. It's just having such bumbling, idiotic dialogue for your antagonists really makes them that much less of a threat. The antagonists should make the reader think there's no way the protagonist is going to get out of this alive.

OVERALL: It was an easy, fast read. Well formatted.

I think the biggest problem this story has is its overall concept. It's just so, at the risk of sounding like a snob, pedestrian.

The title doesn't make much sense either. Why “Mad Dog”?

All the best with this.
 

Favorite Movies

The Matrix
The Stoned Age
Escape From L.A.
Army of Darkness
The Mist
The Return of the Living Dead
Ghost Dad
Aliens
Se7en
Groundhog Day
 

Influences

Dan O'Bannon
Frank Darabont
John Carpenter
Rik Mayall
Adrian Edmondson
Bruce Campbell
Steve Coogan
Chris Lilley
 

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