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I still think there's room in movies -- even in the most escapist entertainment -- for characters that engage, dialogue with a little sparkle in it, and something that makes us say, "Yeah, I know the feeling."
 

Reviews Bill Has Written

Disarm, Paul's 2nd Draft

1 out of 3 people found the following review helpful:

It'll make you sweat

Overall Recommendation:
4 stars
 
Premise:
3 stars
 
Story structure:
4 stars
 
Character:
3 stars
 
Dialogue:
3 stars
 
Emotion:
4 stars
 
March 06, 2011
Here's a script that's better than the sum of its parts, although its parts are pretty solid.
A disgruntled ex-cop challenges the daughter of the cop responsible for his axing to a life-or-death contest: she's a newly-minted member of the Chicago bomb squad and she has to disarm seven devices within a number of hours or he'll kill her held-hostage father.
There's a certain familiarity to the premise: SPEED had a disgruntled bomber, so did JUGGERNAUT (which may be the best of this kind of flick), and although the characters are drawn quite clearly, the script moves so damn fast they don't quite develop the emotional heft I'd have liked to see. The dialogue, which tends a bit toward the bland, doesn't help.
Still, it DOES move damn fast, although it has a nice build: it doesn't drop into third right away but takes its time getting the pieces into place before it deftly ratchets up the suspense, and that's the kind of accleration I like.
There's a nice eye for detail; someone has been doing their homework without allowing the tech side to overwhelm the heat of the moment.
If I had to find something that hit something like the same notes it would be that Samuel L. Jackson cop thriller of a few years ago (memory fails; can't recall the title) where he was a hostage negotiator who'd been set up to take a fall. This has a similar caliber.
If I were pushed for advice, I would counsel a pass for the sole purpose of giving the characters a bit more flavor. The plotting, the structure, the basic dynamics are all in place. It's that rare script that's just a WEE bit too lean.
 

EARTH SHAKER, Richard's 2nd Draft

0 out of 1 people found the following review helpful:

Bullet-paced action/FX fest has everything but the kitchen sink...and maybe that.

Overall Recommendation:
3 stars
 
Premise:
4 stars
 
Story structure:
5 stars
 
Character:
3 stars
 
Dialogue:
3 stars
 
Emotion:
3 stars
 
February 02, 2011
I have to start with the clear caveat that this isn't my kind of story. That's not a good/bad judgment, it's just not my kind of thing. But if it were, this would be the kind of script that, back in The Day, we used to call a rip-snorter.
It has a nice build, an appropriate sense of the grotesque and creepy, and the finale where a museum's skeletal relics rise from the dead to wage war on the White House (kind of like a dark-hearted version of NIGHT AT THE MUSEUM) would be a hell of a screen-filler! The action builds to a nicely handled full-scale war on the WH grounds where even the President takes a hand. I can see this piece following in the line of such successes as THE MUMMY, Indiana Jones, the Nick Cage archeological adventures, etc.
I think some of the main characters accept the supernatural aspects of the piece way too readily; there's hardly a WTF moment among them and it's hard to imagine them NOT having a BUNCH of WTF moments considering the ever-greater mystical moments of the story.
Some of the dialogue feels a bit stilted, and while that may suit the period elements, it seems odd that Naomi falls so easily into it as well when she's speaking with the Minotaur.
I have some other quibbles, but they seem very minor, like how easily the WH is penetrated, but then this is hardly a docudrama on WH security, and I wonder if dragging the president into this isn't a little bit over the top (but this IS a story that's all about going over the top so I don't know if that's legit even as a quibble).
I do have one significant concern and it's not over the quality of the material. The writing is, in my view, quite accomplished, the bizarre and grand-scale story solidly-crafted. But it's also quite gory, and the amount of effects works promises a fairly expensive film. Can this kind of movie at that kind of cost recoup if it's saddled with an R-rating (which, as written, I feel fairly sure it would earn)?
Well, that's for minds better placed than mind to fret over. Qualitatively, on balance it's a well-put-together big-scale actioner done by someone who, clearly, has what it takes.
 

Algiers Point, Pa's 4th Draft

1 out of 3 people found the following review helpful:

Unique spin on big action thrillers.

Overall Recommendation:
4 stars
 
Premise:
5 stars
 
Story structure:
4 stars
 
Character:
3 stars
 
Dialogue:
4 stars
 
Emotion:
4 stars
 
February 01, 2011
I have to admit to a bias in that these kinds of grand scale action thrillers often don't work for me. I've always preferred more life-sized actioners.

That said, this is a solidly put-together piece with the unique wrinkle of the Big Caper having been planned and executed by an all-female team. There's a not-quite fully exploited heart to this slant as some of the women are motivated by a militant maternalism, participating to avenge the deaths of their children by nuclear toxins.

The author handles the big action with admirable craft, and nicely adds to the suspense with the threat of a nearing hurricane: a natural "ticking clock." She's got a good handle on the setting and the tech side of the story. And some of the dialogue pops in a way that can't help but bring a smile to your face.

If there's a deficiency -- and it's less the author than it is the ritualistic form of these kinds of flicks -- is there's a predictable arc to this. Early on we can see that the disparate natures of various members of the group are going to lead to fractures in their solidity (it almost never fails that these groups are never all on the same page), the more militant members seem a bit familiar...

I suppose you could say that the motives are new, the setting a bit different, but you still kinda/sorta know how it's going to play out. But then that's never hurt these kinds of things before, and this is executed about as well as you would want it to be.
 

An Absurd Life, Michael's Original Draft

1 out of 3 people found the following review helpful:

An interestingly oddball spin on a familiar romcom plot.

Overall Recommendation:
3 stars
 
Premise:
3 stars
 
Story structure:
3 stars
 
Character:
3 stars
 
Dialogue:
2 stars
 
Emotion:
2 stars
 
December 03, 2010
The basic plotline is familiar: a woman realizes she's engaged to a man for the wrong reasons, realizes her true happiness lies with an impoverished actor. Familiar moral: money doesn't buy happiness.

But the quirk in the script is in its tone. There's an almost surreal quality to some parts, an artfully designed cartoonishness to others. At times the approach to the script reminds one of BIG FISH, parts of JOE VS. THE VOLCANO, RAISING ARIZONA, but the tone isn't kept consistently, and isn't enough to compensate for a lack of suspense: anyone's who's seen a romcom in the last 30 years knows how this HAS to come out And when that intriguingly offbeat tone falters, we're left with a conventional mildly amusing romcom. One gets the feeling the script isn't always sure what it wants to be: an intentionally stylized take on the genre, a lampoon, or straight-faced.

If the writer could maintain that highly stylized tone throughout -- which, granted, would be a tough haul and even harder to do without it becoming numbing, or twee -- he might have something here that re-energizes the genre in the same way that, say,l (500) DAYS OF SUMMER managed to do in its way (keeping in mind that 500 DAYS went against the grain in its bittersweet ending).
 

Favorite Movies

I love 'em all, even the stinkers. That's why I write about them.
 

Influences

Undoubtedly the single greatest influence is the same guy who inspired so many screenwriters of my generation: William Goldman. Not just for his work, but for his insights in books like ADVENTURES IN THE SCREEN TRADE.
 

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