Genre: Action
Premise: A group of hot-shot car enthusiasts help a secret government black ops group take down a terrorist, all while avoiding the vengeful brother of a man they put in the hospital.
About: This is the latest installment of The Fast & The Furious phenomenon, and easily the most talked about. That’s because one of its key actors, Paul Walker, died, ironically, in an unrelated car accident during shooting. They had to stop production for a few months to rewrite the script, since they only shot half of Walker’s scenes. They eventually brought in Walker’s lookalike brothers to finish the film, and went to Peter Jackson’s WETA digital effects company to do some cut and paste jobs with Walker’s face. The film came out this weekend and was the first to make 9 gablillion dollars at the box office.
Writer: Chris Morgan
Details: 137 minutes

Furious-7-Dwayne-Johnson

So let me see if I got this right. Michelle Rodriquez has amnesia and can’t remember she’s married to Vin Diesel. A guy named Deckard Shaw, who’s part of a double secret probation London Black Ops organization, destroys a hospital because he’s mad that they’re not giving his patient brother enough attention. He then leaves his brother in said burning hospital to go fight the people who hurt his brother in the first place.

There’s an international terrorist named Mose Jakanda who’s kidnapped a hacker who’s created something called the “eye in the sky” which can find anybody in the world within two hours. Snake Plissken, who’s now an army general for an American Black Ops team that specializes in having really expensive cars around, promises to help Vin Diesel get Deckard Shaw before Shaw gets him if he’ll go reverse-kidnap the hacker who created the eye in the sky.

The thing is, this new terrorist only travels on roads that are inaccessible to cars (huh?) so Vin’s crew has to parachute the cars onto the road via plane only. After Vin steals the hacker back from the terrorist, Deckard Shaw shows up to try to kill Vin, despite not having access to a plane that parachutes cars out of it. Vin survives, and somewhere around this point I realize that I’ve never seen Furious 6 even though I was absolutely positive I had.

For reasons that never become clear, Mose Jakanda teams up with another American Black Ops unit that has access to predator drones and uses one of these drones to stalk Vin and his buddies in Los Angeles. In the meantime, Deckard Shaw, who it’s still not clear if he’s working with Jakanda or just always shows up when he’s around, also attends this Los Angeles showdown, where he corners Vin on the top of a parking garage and fights him with crowbars, all while Tyrese yells a series of phrases through an unknown radio channel that all basically amount to, “Oh hell no! That shit did not just happen!”

To try and hold Furious 7 up to the standards of proper screenplays is kind of like trying to hold the McDonald’s drive-thru guy who needs you to repeat your order three times up to a Michelin chef. It’s not really fair.

And that’s a problem. Young screenwriters who want to write cool action movies are going to see this and think it’s what you need to write to sell an action spec. It’s not. Furious 7 is a series of set-pieces held together by threads so loose, they feel like an autistic child trying to socialize at a birthday party.

There’s a desperation as characters try to explain what they’re doing, and despite the writer’s best attempts to distract us from this reality (distractions that are almost always Tyrese yelling something like, “Oh hell no! This shit is WHACK!”), it’s clear that unless action is involved, Furious 7 is like a hipster at a biker bar.

ewret

So I’m watching all this go down and wondering, like many in Hollywood, what makes these films so successful. They started out doing solid numbers, but the third installment was a B movie and made 27 dollars at the box office. Episodes 4-7, though, became box office titans, competing with the most powerful comic book properties for yearly domination.

You might say, “Well yeah, it’s got hot women and fast cars. Of course it’s going to do well.” Ehh, but so did Need for Speed. Why didn’t that film do Furious numbers? Or you might say, “Duh, it’s because of Vin Diesel.” The problem with that theory is that Diesel isn’t exactly tearing it up at the box office outside of the Furious films.

And then, as I was watching this film, it came to me like a ray of light shining through a lone hole in the clouds. It’s no secret that the franchise plays extremely well to Latinos (they make up the highest audience for the films at 37%). What do Latinos value over everything else? Family. Family is extremely important to the Latino culture. What are the Fast and Furious films about? You got it. Family. The Fast and Furious group considers themselves a family. The characters are getting married and creating families. Vin’s sister is married to Paul Walker.  Paul Walker’s character now has a child. The Rock reveals he has a kid in the movie. The word “family” is uttered somewhere in the neighborhood of 732 times (Vin Diesel to Shaw: “I don’t got friends.  I got family.”).

There’s no doubt that fast cars and hot women are going to bring in moviegoers. But for a film to become a phenomenon, there’s got to be something more to it. You got to find a way to connect with the audience on another level. Here, that level is emotion. It’s the importance of family that makes this franchise more than a bunch of car chases.

And this is actually good news for writers. For everyone who thinks you have to sell your soul to break into Hollywood – this proves that audiences want to connect on a deeper level with their movies. Do I think Furious 7 rivals the emotional intensity of, say, The Imitation Game? No. But the fans of this series obviously do.

Now before you go off to write Terms of Endearment with cars, let’s back up to the make-or-break component of any action script – the set pieces. The key to writing a saleable action spec is to write set pieces that haven’t been seen before. So here we have cars jumping out of planes. We have cars jumping from skyscraper to skyscraper. These were things we hadn’t seen before. They were stupid fun – sure – but they were original stupid fun.

If you’re going to accomplish anything in your action script, make sure it’s to give us UNIQUE SET PIECES. If I read a set-piece in a script that I’ve already seen before, I’m done with that script. Just like in a horror script, you have to give us unique scares. Just like in a thriller script, you have to give us unique thrills. In an action script, the one job you gotta get right is to write unique action.

Speaking of action, I want to finish with a warning to all future action writers out there. Beware of writing huge crews into your action scripts. As convoluted as the plotting here was, I have to give it to Chris Morgan for juggling all these characters. In each action scene, he was usually cutting between a dozen different characters. For any of you who’ve had to write scenes like this, you know how difficult it is to keep track of that many people.

Usually, you only have one or two featured segments in an action scene. But if you have 12 characters, you now have to keep the audience abreast of where they all are. You can’t just focus on the Vin Diesel part for the whole 10 minutes and then show Michelle Rodriquez at the very end or everyone will go, “Where the hell was she the whole time?” This forces you to come with things for everyone to do. And the more people you’re cutting between, the harder to follow everything is.

If you have a clear goal (get the hacker from the bus) a set piece can survive this complexity. But if the goal is even mildly unclear (as is the case with Furious 7’s climax – why the hell was a terrorist coming to Los Angeles again????), cutting between that many people can destroy the sequence. It’s yet another reason to celebrate movies like Star Wars. They make it so damn clear what the ending goal is that the set piece can survive any level of complexity.

Now you might think with all this criticism that I hated Furious 7. Actually, that’s not true. As sketchy as the screenwriting is here, the action is borderline amazing. Like I said before – we see things in this movie that we’ve never seen before. And this installment of the franchise seems to be more reliant on real stunts than the others, making for a much more realistic experience. I mean they really did drop cars out of planes for that plane drop sequence. I’m not sending any aspiring screenwriters to the theater to study Furious 7’s script. But if you want to enjoy the hell out of some amazing action, there are worse ways to spend your evening.

[ ] what the hell did I just watch?
[ ] wasn’t for me
[x] worth the price of admission
[ ] impressive
[ ] genius

What I learned: Figure out who you’re targeting and write what matters to that group into your screenplay. The writers and producers of Furious 7 realized they were targeting the Latino audience here, so they focused the story on family. A few years ago, The Blindside knew it was targeting Christians, so it infused a lot of Christian values into the script. Know who you’re writing to and then give that group what they relate to.

  • kenglo

    Just saw the film last night….they had a preview of MAD MAX: FURY ROAD. My daughter was like, what is that about? And I said, “Cars, racing, wrecking, explosions, stuff like that. Kinda like the one we are about to watch.” And it was true.

    I liked it, but I didn’t like it. The whole ‘God’s Eye’ thing was a rip off from a Hong Kong film entitled ‘SO CLOSE’. Turned me off. 6 was better, IMHO. Not a big fan of the whole series, but it did what it did I suppose, made duckies!

    Justin Lin (previous director) and now James Wan tore it up. But I think the set pieces, although they ‘may be written in the script, I think those are the brainchild of the director(s). Just my opinion. Meaning, it’s a collective effort on the whole crew, including the writer of course.

    And how the hell do you use Tony Jaa, and keep the camera close on him, so you can’t see him move, because that’s what you have to do to cover up Paul Walker’s inadequacies as a fighter (I’m a fighter addict, sorry). And the quick editing quick cuts fights (ala BATMAN/DARK KNIGHT) which again, cover up inadequacies (or is it just an ‘American’ way to stage fights??? HONG KONG WAY. Didn’t they learn anything from Yuen Wo Ping???!!!)

    Sigh….guess I’m gonna have to make an action pic myself……show ‘em how it’s done!

    • Poe_Serling

      “….guess I’m gonna have to make an action pic myself……show ‘em how it’s done!”

      Could we possibly see the return of Teague? Or at least some kind of homage to the character? :-)

      • kenglo

        LOL no he died a long time ago in that jungle. Besides, I’m too old for that, although seeing Stallone and Willis in these action flicks lately got me to thinking!!! Heck, I don’t LOOK as old as those guys! :)

        • Poe_Serling

          Universal Soldier: Return of Teague. Tagline: Get ready for some good old-fasioned, old school ass kicking.

    • MGE3

      Every Frame A Painting, a great series on directing, explores this very concept through Jackie Chan’s films https://vimeo.com/113439313.

    • Fish Tank Festival

      Absolutely motherf!!!!!!!! right! How in the hell do you throw away Tony Jaa AND Gina Carano (from Fast 6)!? These movies are all kinds of stupid. Yes, I am a glutton for punishment for watching. And as far as the pseudo “emotional component,” gag!

  • leitskev

    I just want to comment that I enjoyed the newsletter this week. I had not heard of the e-book Departure. Pretty cool story. Looks like the guy first self published 2 years ago with a sci-fi kinda book that became a trilogy. And then he put out Departure.

    I read the free portion of the first book and of Departure. This is not literary work by any stretch. I suspect the writer has tried his hand at screenwriting because the stories read kind of like screenplays with constantly switching character POV’s.

    From what I can tell, 2 years ago this writer didn’t have a publisher. Not sure if he did anything to market his e-book. Now it’s changed his life as both books have had the movie rights sold and both have publishing deals. That’s a nice story.

    • kenglo

      I loved the newsletter this week. Inspirational. All the specs Carson mentioned, then the review of READY PLAYER ONE…..have to up our game for the SS 250!!

      • carsonreeves1

        Thanks. :)

  • ChadStuart

    I think the popularity of this series goes beyond the theme of family. It’s really the diversity of its cast. You have most races represented, and they’re given more to do than just be there for the sake of diversity. Even the female characters are usually given one fight set piece. The inclusion doesn’t seem like pandering.

    • RJ

      Ding! Ding! Ding! We have a winner. I work in the industry and that has been widely discussed. The diversity is the winner here. It’s a huge franchise with Latino actors and just about every other race is represented. I wish more tentpoles would follow suit. TV is finally getting that diversity (with substance) equals dollars. Hopefully film will get there sooner than later.

      • filmklassik

        Except — the moment you start treating Diversity with a capital “D” like it’s some kind of mandate… a mandate based on, of all things, MELANIN (“Dude, so far you’ve got two white guys, an Asian and a brother. You need a Latina in there!!”) you’re finished, because you’re putting agenda ahead of story. And savvy viewers will smell the politics.

        • Brainiac138

          I don’t think it’s putting an agenda ahead of politics, it’s just depicting the world more accurately. Personally, if I see a film that is completely and utterly dominated with white people, even if it makes sense to the story for it to be that way, I am out of it, because I don’t know of any world, at least the diverse, urban areas most stories take place, where it is like that.

          • filmklassik

            Forgive me, I’m trying to understand your point, but I’m not sure I follow you. I guess I’m hung up on one contradiction. First you say this:

            “…if I see a film that is completely and utterly dominated with white people, even if it makes sense to the story for it to be that way, I am out of it…”

            And then you say this:

            “I don’t know of any world, at least the diverse, urban areas most stories take place, where it is like that.”

            But if no world is ever like that, how could it possibly “make sense to the story for it to be that way”?

            On the other hand, if some worlds ARE like that, and it DOES “make sense to the story for it to be that way” (as you indicate in your first sentence)… why would you be “out of it”?

          • Brainiac138

            I guess I could have articulated that a little better. All I meant is that whenever a movie has a completely white cast the movie all of a sudden seems false to me. I wrote it quickly, I meant I don’t see how it would ever make sense for it to be that way.

          • filmklassik

            Understood. I guess here’s where we disagree, Brainiac: I think a predominantly white cast can make perfect sense depending on the subject matter… just like a predominantly black cast can make perfect sense depending on the subject matter… and United Colors of Benneton casting can make perfect sense, too, depending on — you guessed it — the subject matter.

            And I agree that in a movie about undercover cops infiltrating the world of urban street racing, diversity of casting makes excellent story sense.

            But you used the word “false” before, and I think Diversity with a capital D can feel every bit as “false” as monochromatic casting when it is artificially imposed by Political Correctness and not the dictates of Story.

          • mcruz3

            Predominantly white casts are on their way out. You can argue “story” all you want, but that’s not the world anymore — so you’re going to get left behind.

          • filmklassik

            Mcruz: Are you sure you mean “PREDOMINANTLY white casts are on their way out”???

            Cuz that’s hard to believe… and even harder to prove. Seems to me that the majority of Hollywood movies still have predominantly white casts, don’t they?

            Isn’t it possible, though, that you mean this: “ALL white casts are on their way out”? Because if you mean ALL white casts, then I agree with you 100%.

            Then again, the majority of mainstream movies haven’t had ALL white casts for several years.

          • brenkilco

            Are you arguing that racially and ethnically heterogeneous casts are going to get shoehorned into future films regardless of the subject matter or that only subject matter that accommodates diverse actors will be considered? Not sure I’m buying either possibility though the latter is more likely.

            And it depends on your definition of diversity. Sure we’ll get more and more action movies with a black costar and a latina leading lady, maybe with an Asian actor in support. But Hollywood has always had a reluctance to embrace foreign lead actors, particularly actresses. We still haven’t had an Asian leading man- at least one not dependent on Kung Fu. Chow Yun Fat went nowhere. Not so long ago Ashwaryi Rai was being touted everywhere as the most beautiful woman in the world. Decent actress. Perfect English. And they couldn’t give her away in LA. African actors? Please. Has Lupita Nyongo worked since winning the Oscar? Not sure the multicultural millennium has quite arrived.

          • filmklassik

            Me either. And doesn’t the filmed output of any country with an active or burgeoning movie industry tend to reflect the ethnic composition of the country itself? I mean, are there ANY exceptions to this rule?

          • mcruz3

            Lupita N’yongo is in the new Star Wars films – and Brad Pitt’s Plan B is producing her next film, Americanah, with David Oyelowo as a co-star. Empire is network TV’s highest rated show, Orange is the New Black is Netflix’s, Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt did crazy well for Netflix as well (Asian male romantic lead! Crazy!), Shonda Rhimes essentially owns ABC, Blackish and Fresh Off the Boat and Cristela are outperforming other network comedies almost consistently, Paul Feig’s new show has an Indian male lead, pilot season saw a HUGE push for “ethnic” leads even when the roles were written as white, a few sci-fi spec scripts have already sold this year BECAUSE they had either people of color or a woman as the lead (or both), the leads of the new Star Wars franchise are a black male, a white woman, and a Latino male, then there’s the Fast and Furious franchise… and I don’t know how involved you are in the industry, but you should be aware that studios are actively pushing for female or “ethnic” driven stories because they see that is what is now selling the most on television.

            This is a business, first and foremost, and diversity is selling — and it’s not going to stop because the world is only becoming more diverse. There are not really stories where white only casts make a lot of sense, and if that’s the only thing that a writer is pushing.. there’s a bigger issue there than the fact that it likely will not fare as well in today’s market.

  • Frankie Hollywood

    Interstellar is E=MCsquared
    Furious 7 is 1+2 = dog

    But I love dogs.

    BOOM!

  • IgorWasTaken

     
    Carson, I gotta give you props on the opening 4 paragraphs of your review. It read like one of those fun Ebert reviews where he just couldn’t stop himself from cracking large.

    …all while Tyrese yells a series of phrases through an unknown radio
    channel that all basically amount to, “Oh hell no! That shit did not
    just happen!”

    BAM!

    As for one thing you mentioned later, in the context of “make sure it’s to give us UNIQUE SET PIECES”:

    “We have cars jumping from skyscraper to skyscraper.”

    Didn’t one of the MI films do that? (Not saying I have a problem with it.)
     

    • LV426

      Also, Carson states that he’d be done” with a script if every set-piece isn’t some mind blowing new action sequence.

      What if the rest of the script is great and is populated with awesome characters, built on an intriguing plot, as well as sports a unique and marketable high concept premise? What if two out of three set pieces are new and one is a bit more low key or a slight twist on something we’ve seen before? Couldn’t that one underwhelming set-piece be addressed in a rewrite?

  • Randy Williams

    Besides “family”, what I think appeals to the latino audience in a script is erasing race and class and celebrating the “hybrid”.

  • carsonreeves1

    (mild spoilers) – I thought the montage was a little much, but otherwise what they did with Paul Walker at the end was pretty darn spectacular. I was not expecting it to affect me and it totally did. We think of these movie stars as movie stars, pawns for our enjoyment. That ending reminded me, ironically enough, that he was a real person.

    • kenglo

      My daughter bet we would cry…and even though I didn’t have full blown water pipes…..there was a point when the ‘ol throat knotted up, and the screen got a bit blurry. I never thought of Walker as this ‘great’ actor….but he had his following. Everyday homie type guy.

      • drifting in space

        Paul Walker is the man. Outside of acting, what he did in life was nothing short of amazing.

  • Scott Strybos

    I haven’t seen Furious 7 yet but based on Carson’s review, I think Fast Five still reigns supreme as the best Fast and Furious film by far. And on it’s own is a great action film

  • kenglo

    Yeah, for me the key was getting Justin Lin involved….for Tokyo Drift especially…Then he took his ‘slant’ on the franchise and it took off…..he made it ‘hipper’ and kept hitting that ‘family’ theme. Plus you had ‘Grand Theft Auto’ come out during this period. Timing is everything…

    BTW, Carson, the ‘family’ thing is Universal, not just latino….you got Diesal (Torreta/Godfather/”this ‘Sicilian thing’, Michael”) and of course all the other ethnic eccentricities.

    • S_P_1

      Off topic sorta.
      I happened to witness young 20’s interacting Easter Sunday. They all had $600+ cell phones. A few of them admitted to using their cell phone more than a desktop or laptop. Their entertainment level bar is ground level essentially as long as it doesn’t kill their buzz. It just so happened to be open bar at this event. Between the various alcoholic beverages none of the wine or beer was drunk by the young 20’s, strictly premium liquor. The generation gap is now around 5-7 years.
      The majority of screenwriters on this site are late 20’s and up. No matter what your personal sensibilities are the disposable income bracket isn’t interested in your personal world views. Carson has previously mention this, but if you have no intentions of writing a COMMERCIAL script screenwriting may not be the particular medium for your writing talents. The more serious you take writing something profoundly meaningful the less serious you are with being marketable.
      Tokyo Drift was about teens being teens. This is extremely crucial when you’re writing your script. Keep in mind your target audience. Always cater to them FIRST and FORMOST.
      This isn’t a revelation. Its a reminder to be Entertaining in the BUSINESS of screenwriting.

      • Frankie Hollywood

        I agree with you 100%. But your reminder is gonna fall on a lot of deaf ears.

        Too many “real” screenwriters scoff at BILLION dollar franchises like F&F, Transformers, Terminators, Avengers, etc.

        “A retarded m-m-monkey with Alzheimer’s could write that garbage.”

        “Nope, I’m writing an eloquent masterpiece only the Academy or Harvey Weinstein will appreciate. I say nay to your boobs, bombs and beers. I write ART, damn you!”

        It’s like commercial success equals selling out. If that’s true, I started selling out at script #1. Go titties, ‘splosions and puking. God Bless America.

        • Bacon Statham

          This. I don’t get it. I genuinely don’t get why people are quick to turn their noses up at these type of films.

          I’m really looking forward to Terminator: Genisys, yet people really don’t wanna see that film succeed and I don’t know why. T2 was the first action film I’d ever seen and I’ve been a big fan of the series ever since. Now I will reluctantly agree that Salvation had faults, but it was fairly entertaining. I’ll grumble about it, but I’ll agree. And apart from the ballsy ending, T3 pretty much sucked through and through.

          Like you said, ”real” screenwriters scoff at billion dollar franchises, but isn’t that the endgame? Isn’t that why we do this in the first place? As much I love writing, I don’t want it to be just a hobby. I do wanna see the worlds I’ve created on screen, but I do wanna make a living out of it more. If that’s wrong and the real reason I should be writing is because I love the craft, then all I can say is my bad.

          But I’d rather be honest about why I’m writing.

          • Magga

            As a path to getting rich, there are better options than writing, to put it mildly.

        • LV426

          I feel like I’ve been lied to.

          All we’ve heard for years and years in the screenwriting mags and blogs is how we need to be smarter and write these dramatic masterpieces as our “breakout” specs. Now I’m hearing we need to just blow shit up.

          Why didn’t somebody tell me that years ago? I can do that. I can blow shit up real good!

          • klmn

            I’ve got a blow-‘em-up script. Maybe I should rewrite it and start testing the waters? Maybe submit to AOW*.

            *It sure ain’t no contained thriller, though. Probably won’t appeal to C.

          • LV426

            What if the hero and his/her allies are trapped inside a giant time bomb? It guarantees a big explosion, has a ticking clock, and is a contained thriller too.

        • HRV

          Now, if we could write an eloquent masterpiece that included titties, ‘splosions and Stoli’s…

      • LV426

        Basically I agree, that’s the reality of the marketplace.

        The problem is you write a big action-packed extravaganza and they say it’s too expensive. You go low budget and they aren’t excited. Maybe a comedy or clever horror film, but even then those are nearly impossible to do (comedy is more subjective than horror). I also believe you need to be geniunely funny to properly do comedy. You can’t force it or learn it like you can with say horror, action, thrillers, and drama writing. In the case of horror it’s so damn hard to stand out in that genre amongst the overcrowded marketplace, that it might as well be the lottery at that point.

        Yeah, I know it’s all sort of a game of luck to some extent, but it’s becoming increasingly impossible for aspiring scribes writing sample/salable specs.

        On top of that it seems that more and more contradictory advice is always floating around about “what” and “how” we should write. Then you add up that we all likely aren’t even in our mid-20s anymore, and can’t really properly relate to the 15-22 year aold ADD audience. It’s maddening.

        I think with Carson’s newsletter the one big bit that he sort of glossed over was the recent sale of The Leviathan. Based on a concept teaser, it sold and got people onboard at the studio level. Another slick short concept teaser sold recently as well. A dystopian sci-fi project called Sundays.

        I really think that is becoming the way to tackle this industry. Go make a film. A short, a concept teaser trailer, a low budget feature, a documentary maybe. It sucks but that is how it’s feeling to me.

      • Magga

        I don’t think young people are as stupid or as rich as that. You’re talking about upper class people here, most young people live on student loans, their parents or the income from some shitty job. I was hired to grade 18-year-olds last year for their final film exams, and to see what their level was, I asked in advance to see things they’d made before, and one of their tasks was making their favorite scene from their favorite movie. The movies were Trainspotting, Fight Club, Pulp Fiction, The Matrix and Amelie. In other words, they were as interested in the movies of twenty years ago as people at that time were for 70’s movies. Make something they feel is theirs, that is a landmark for them the way the above mentioned films were for 90’s kids, and you might have something big on your hands.
        (BTW, the thing that is “theirs” is Breaking Bad, it just happens to be on TV)

  • Evangelos

    Personally, i think the first one was the best of the franchise. It had much more visceral stakes and the characters were more grounded and compelling. Now they are just words on paper to me.

  • Evangelos

    In my opinion, the FURIOUS franchise is successful because its what people want to see (cars, woman, explosions) and because we grew up with these characters and are now emotional attached to them and their journey’s.

    • drifting in space

      Bingo.

      I saw the first one when I was around 16 and getting my first car. Now I love cars and grew up with these movies. Kind of goes hand in hand.

      Plus, I love the Rock and couldn’t care less what the more pretentious members of this board think.

      • Evangelos

        Yes. Everything The Rock is in, count a majority of America to be in as well. He’s just a big loveable lug.

  • fragglewriter

    I tried watching the Furious 6 when Michelle Rodriguez’s character ot amnesia, but the storyline was so stupid that I rolled my eyes so much that I got a headache. Espeically the scene where Vin Diesel jumps out of his car to rescue her. The Furious installments are very bad 80’s storyline masked by great stunts. The Furious 6 storyline as so anateaurish that I’m surprised that it was produced and actors were attached to it.

    The What I Learned Tip is freat advice, but it also has to be believable that either the entire family or at least one family member cares for someone.

    Off topic. Is there anyone going to the BlackList events in NYC? I’m going to the Happy Hour and the Business of Screenwriting Panel. It twould be great to see some Scriptshadow writers there too.

    http://1567a3c69b6fc7b6cb69-623a919300c0393b1039229b9c403c0c.r40.cf2.rackcdn.com/nyc_flier_2.pdf

  • S_P_1

    Carson definitely sticks to his guns when it comes to either professional scripts or commercial movies. No matter how AWFUL the material is, its still better and has more redeeming qualities than any amateur offering. I’ve highlighted several previous articles where Carson ripped a particular project only to give it [x]worth the read or [x]worth the price of admission.
    I personally liked the first 3 films of the series. I still haven’t seen Fast & Furious (2009) or Furious 7. Basically the appeal of the series is viewing Robbs Report and Dupont Registry autos only the rich can afford in high speed action sequences. Watching the F&F franchise is equivalent to watching the Friday the 13th franchise you already know what to expect and lower your expectations accordingly. Essentially its a popcorn movie plain and simple.
    In all honesty now that Walker has passed its time to reboot the series towards reality. After the third film the series stopped being about racing for prestige and money. The series now is about shoehorning in a resolution involving cars. The franchise needs to diverge and make a motorcycle or electric vehicle F&F using a new cast.
    The end of this franchise will be a parody film from either the Wayans or Will Ferrell.

    • klmn

      Don’t they have any electric vehicles? I haven’t seen this, but from the YouTube videos of street races, the new Tesla is whupping everything. All wheel drive and the constant torque of an electric motor (independent of rpm) gives it a big advantage.

      • S_P_1

        To my knowledge there hasn’t been any electric vehicles in the franchise.

        • LV426

          I think a souped up electric sports car could have its own noise that could sound cool, but just different. Maybe the MacGuffin in one of these is to steal some experimental electric supercar?

          F&F on motorcycles is not a bad idea.

          How about on water, in crazy racing boats or something like that?

          • klmn

            If they put wire wheels on an electric car, you could use playing cards and clothes pins to make a fake motorcycle noise, like kids used to do with bicycles.

          • LV426

            F&F: Old Timers

            The “family” travels back in time to an alternate 1910s and butts heads with a corrupt megalomaniacal Henry Ford, forcing them to do car battle with a fleet of electric Model T’s. This will also tie into the Back to the Future reboot.

    • Casper Chris

      And they’ll add combustion engine sounds to those electric cars. Just like we have explosions in space.

      Anyway, how you can give something like this [ ] Worth the price of admission and something like Interstellar [ ] Wasn’t for me is beyond me. I’m probably going to catch a lot of flak for saying that.

      • S_P_1

        That would be an epic short film! A V8 engine being dubbed in for an electric vehicle. Literally that would go viral instantly.

        • klmn

          I watched an episode of Rocky Mountain Bounty Hunters recently. The “bounty hunters” were supposedly chasing someone in a stock car, both cars driving across grass. And they dubbed in the sound of tires squealing.

          There’s a lot of stupid stuff on the so-called reality shows.

        • LV426

          The Rock trying to squeeze into a Peel P50 (with a rocket booster mounted on the back and a minigun on the roof).

  • filmklassik

    Hmm. Are we saying then that this generalization about Latinos isn’t true (a reach)… or that even if it IS true, it shouldn’t be talked about?

  • ChadStuart

    I think the question arises because there are equally “dumb” movies that are “fun” that either don’t get the box office like this (i.e. increasing with each entry) or alternately don’t get the critical acclaim.

    For instance, the “Transformers” movies have an equal disregard for plot logic and physics that these movies have, and although they certainly check the box office box of the form, the critical acclaim box remains blank. Why does one franchise get a pass and the other doesn’t?

    That’s what people are trying to figure out. It’s not a slight against the series itself, they obviously have a formula that’s working for them. But what is it about this formula that succeeds where other films of similar ambitions fail?

  • drifting in space

    Nice up-skirt.

    • klmn

      She’s just getting a little behind in her work.

  • Midnight Luck

    People are talking about this being about “Family” and just “dumb fun action” and therefore it is valuable in something we should aspire to.

    GODFATHER was about “Family”. This is Talking about and Word Dropping “Family”, it most definitely isn’t about FAMILY. If this is Family, then I feel very scared for everyone’s idea of “family”. In the age of family meaning everyone gets together and plays GRAND THEFT AUTO, so they can rape, murder, steal and beat the living shit out of Bitches and Homies and Pigs, (all in the name of dumb “fun”) and everything is about relating to the lowest common denominator while listening to Rap music, smoking, and breaking any and every law you can as a matter of “sport”, well, “FAMILY” has a very different meaning than what I am used to or I think most people would consider that word to mean. The FURIOUS movies wrapping themselves in the pseudo cloak of the word FAMILY is just idiotic, much like most of the world is anymore. As long as you spout that you believe in something, it doesn’t matter if you actually do, or if your actions agree with your words. These movies are words, not actions. Terrible dialogue words. Terrible scenes with words.

    Now if I am supposed to aspire to write shit like this because it is “commercial” well, I guess I might as well pack it in.

    I enjoy and want to make films that have INTELLIGENCE when it comes to ACTION. I have NO INTEREST and NO PATIENCE for STUPIDITY in movies being given the O.K. strictly because people are too lazy or bored to use their brains in life, with their families, or at the movies. Give me DIE HARD intelligence, ALIENS intelligence. Not the stupidity of 2f2f or Guardians of the Galaxy.

    Movies were in a tailspin in the late 80’s with just vapid braindead action spectacles, devoid of soul or heart. Then Tarantino and a slew of Indie movies changed everything on a massive level in a short early 90’s period of time.

    Now we are once again in that same awful doldrums of terrible / vapid / brain dead / lame ass explosion3DorgasmificCGI lameness. Story? who gives a shit? Character? who gives a shit? Just have the character say a few times “we are family” and all is good. Have someone say “it’s all good” a few times and guess what? It IS ALL GOOD! that is how it works in todays world of movie logic and movie intelligence.

    There is no need to create anything with intelligence or nuance when it comes to writing commercial movies. Sadly, no one goes to Indie movies anymore either, so they are all going to migrate to Youtube.com or TV and all we will be left with is 500 spandex superhero “universe” movies, 300 over the top Stupid-but-fun action flicks about cars / bitches / ego / machismo / testosterone / explosions / and stupid one liners (like Arnold in EVERYTHING from the ’80’s).

    So, I think ultimately all the “guidance” we are being fed for the SS250 should alter and take a different tack. More articles on how to write “stupid-but-fun” blasto-matic flicks with 50 vignette’s tied together by dental floss to keep the story together. That is what the people are buying, so we should be aspiring to that, right?

    This is what the world wants, this is what is accepted, this is the future.

    So let’s get out there and write terrible Dog shit, but acceptable (because we put in a minute scene where the main character says “family!” or shows just the right amount of emotion before his puppy is obliterated by Russians) Commercial flicks STAT!

    • drifting in space

      This may be off-based, but if I recall, you don’t really work a 9-5, yeah? The appeal of movies is different for you than the guy that just got off work and has a couple young kids that are bored and want to do something.

      That family isn’t going to see Godfather, or anything close to intelligent. Just what it is.

      • Midnight Luck

        ah yes, but it all is just about choices now isn’t it?

        I choose to live a minimalistic life.
        I choose to need so little outgo of money in my life I can live anywhere and it takes almost nothing to meet my financial needs.

        I honestly don’t see how my life choice of not having a 9-5 has anything to do with it. I have had PLENTY of soul-sucking boring and awful stressful jobs in my life. The LAST THING I ever wanted to do was go home, then go to a movie where I could STOP thinking and just watch vapid brainless stuff. But, again, that is me. I guess I am just built that way.

        The appeal to me of movies is that I have been so in love with them since I was a tiny kid and so enamored with them that to me, they opened my mind and soul to everything. They were dreamscapes of wonder. Imagination unbound.

        Now they seem to just be “paint by numbers” exercises to people. (audience and makers alike)

        I find it disturbing that people’s response to why it is normal and o.k. to just want to go sit in front of some movie is so they can turn their brain off. That is what TV has always been good at. If i am going to go spend $12 on a movie or $20 with “snacks”, I sure as hell don’t want to spend that money for the “privilege” of being able to turn off my brain and not have to think at all while being lobotomized and distracted by shiny things. Sorry, but no.

        I have no interest in whatever the hell $3.5 million car is in the movie that there are only 7 of or something. I have no interest in the loads of rich smarmy people in the movies. I have no interest in the barrage of “commercialism” instilled in people and the constant need to shop. And that is all these movies are doing. They are just another way to tell the public “hey, don’t worry about anything, it’s all good, grab your GIANT refillable popcorn (at 1200 calories an ounce) along with that 125 oz soda, fatten up, diabetic up, and turn your brain off and listen to idiots and watch as they do idiotic things”.

        No, not for me. I aspire to have my dreams be EXPANDED not shut down. To be ENLIGHTENED, to be AMAZED by wondrous things. Intelligent writing is an incredible thing. Education is so important for everyone, not just when you are in school, but when we are adults. ABL (Always Be Learning).

        It seems most people have just given up, and FURIOUS 7 is basically the essence of what everyone is aspiring to and wants from life.

        It is all about choices. And mine are so very different than others’.

        P.S. That family really SHOULD go see the GODFATHER, they would learn something, AND enjoy themselves immensely.
        (and that same family WOULD go see DIE HARD and ALIENS, and those movies are intelligent, well crafted and beautiful things, so we don’t HAVE TO have shit like F7 to reel in the people)

        but hey…..this is where I just differ. I am sure a million people on here will disagree for another thousand reasons, and in the end, this field is just like everything else. It is about Money, Power, and Ego. So, as long as your movie beat everything else, as long as your script was talked all about town, it must mean you are important, be damned if it is GOOD! Cause seriously, as Carson is ‘splainin the whole storyline in Furious 7, what a bunch of crap. He was JUST TALKING ABOUT “keeping it simple”. This convoluted stupid storyline (if you can call it a story) makes ZERO sense. It is another movie where someone went “oh wait, what if we have another spy appear and be fighting secretly for the rebel army and they take the hero back to a jungle but they don’t know he has amnesia and when he gets his memory back his past memory allows him to build a nuclear bomb out of kidney beans and rice!”

        Seriously.

        • LV426

          My plan now…

          – Write the ‘splosion porn for my spec scripts.

          – Make my own low budget film that can be a “smart” popcorn movie, or at least appeal to enough people that it has a chance of being a hit.

          What I mean by this is, I enjoy some of the big dumb summer blockbusters, but I don’t solely seek out that stuff. I also love a lot of the excellent television we’re getting nowadays, some foreign films, and old stuff or indies too. I also like some anime.

          • Midnight Luck

            good plan.

            unless of course the market changes as soon as you break in and all you are holding is a bunch of explosion-porn scripts and an indie.

            but if you break in soon (here’s hopin’) you’re good.

            and yes, that was one of my points, you can still do all the explosion porn you want, just give us something else to hold onto. Star Wars gave us more (sorry I don’t think Matrix did, but I differ there it seems to everyone else) as did Die Hard and Aliens and True Romance (though less explosions, but still a seriously fun ride) and on and on.

          • LV426

            Basically, I’m screwed any which way I go.

            I might as well just write what I want then.

          • Midnight Luck

            Much Good-er plan, I think.

  • Acarl

    i just parked next to his spot while visiting Bluegrass Films last week

  • carsonreeves1

    Yes, that part made zero sense. The writers even knew this and tried to have Snake Plissken explain it. “Well, yeah, but see, if you do this job for us, then you can become the HUNTER instead of the HUNTED.” Umm, okay?

  • scriptfeels

    Thanks for the newsletter, Lets all make some American Screenplays y’all, haha

  • Midnight Luck

    Yes I truly do understand that movies like F7 aren’t movies that I or any other amateur are going to write as a “spec”. I don’t mean “Buying” as in someone might buy it from me or some other amateur. I mean “Buying” in a more overall context. The more these movies make, the more Hollywood and the viewer “Buys into” the idea that this is what everyone wants, therefore, that is what we will get. So ultimately Hollywood is BUYING this kind of thing, even if they are just making the formula in-house to then feed the mouth open baby audience out in the theaters who are also then BUYING this kind of stuff.

    People are “buying into” an idea, a kind, a style, a lack of creativity.

    And, just to note, I am not Angry about or at any of it, maybe saddened and maybe frustrated as well, but not angry. The world is a big and wide and wondrous place, just sad the film world has gotten so small, lazy, and boring, unless you are open to seeing a French movie.

    Things continually change, and just when all anyone is making are these overblown idiot movies and everyone thinks they have it figured out, Romantic Comedies will become the IT thing again, then everyone will run out and try to find a bunch just like the bunch that did really well. (OK, RomComs aren’t ever going to take the world by storm again, at least in my lifetime, if ever, but I am just making a point)

  • Midnight Luck

    once again, in case anyone missed it when I posted it before…..

    The Rock as Bambi, and it spoofs FURIOUS 7 (or one of the other 6 I guess)

    I think this is hilarious.

    • LV426

      That was a good one.

      I also recommend their YA movie spoof.

      • Midnight Luck

        yes, i saw this one a while back. but i have never seen Maze Runner, not that I really need to, it pretty much speaks for itself. You don’t have to watch it to know what they are making fun of in this parody.

        Can’t anyone writing a YA novel do something not based in a post apocalyptic world where everyone is divided into factions? (and no 50 Shades of Grey is not what I mean)

      • scriptfeels

        ‘rated g for asexual kissing’

  • klmn

    I think I should start appealing to the Latino audience. I think I’ll change my avatar again.

    Wait for it.

    • Poe_Serling

      It’ll be hard to top your last year’s avatar – The Thing with Two Heads. ;-)

      • klmn

        I’ve just changed, so the next time you refresh the page you should see it. The one I just scrubbed was the work of one of my favorite mad scientists – Vladimir Demekhov.

        You can see some of his work here.

        Warning do not click unless you want to see actual mad scientist footage!

  • ripleyy

    Why can’t we just watch a movie and enjoy it for what it is? I’ve watched them all and the tongue-in-cheek aspect was the best part about watching the last few movies.

    Go big or don’t go at all. That’s what this series is about. No, this wasn’t the best and I thought then set pieces – while incredible – were just a little too big to grasp. The story faltered big time but you know what? This, to me, is the first time it had a story that failed but what do you expect? This is the SEVENTH movie and that is pretty amazing.

    Overall, this was a great memorial to Paul Walker and that earns more respect. (Also, the CGI on Paul Walker was masterful. It was impossible to figure out who was the real Paul and who was the CGI’d Paul.)