The Outsider is here. A mysterious script reader who’s harder to find than the island on Lost. People believe I’m tough on scripts. Well, they’ve never met The Outsider. This is how he/she describes him/herself: THE OUTSIDER devours scripts like a newborn sucks on a tit, which is to say, virtually non-stop. She/he/it is a screenwriter’s worst nightmare, because he/it/she has no axe to grind and nobody to impress. If you don’t like the opinions expressed by The Outsider, well, it really doesn’t give a shit. There’s something to be said for honesty, so don’t kill the messenger, kill the script!
The good news is, if you can impress The Outsider, you can pretty much guarantee your script is awesome. Without further ado, let’s get to his/her take on Odysseus, the script I reviewed on Saturday and liked quite a bit…
Oh Odysseus, Wherefore Art Thou?
Ah, there’s nothing like an epic that gets my blood boiling. Big battles on land and sea. Big stories. Big CGI effects. Big love story.
Big. Big. Big.
The only b you’ll find in this screenplay is BAD. Carson, what the fuck is wrong with you? This script is a poor man’s pastiche of Braveheart, Gladiator and The Patriot. No wonder Homer came back from the dead and demanded to have his name deleted from this pile of camel dung.
Okay, it’s not that bad. It’s putrid. It’s 300 Lite and at 89 pages, it’s a “contained epic” which can be shot on the cheap.
The main problem is that the story begins in the wrong place. We don’t get to Odysseus/Ulysses until page 13, and even then the “epic” action one expects doesn’t get going until well past page 40. Did I tell you it’s 89 pages?
The main plot is that Odysseus returns to his island and his kingdom after 20 years and is about as welcome as a case of the clap. His Queen is in chains, his son is under the thumb of the evil Antoninus (think Commodus from Gladiator except with charred face), and his people live in misery. Everyone blames Odysseus for going on this stupid journey, but when he was on the throne, everyone was happy. Instead of rebelling against Antoninus, the good folk of Ithaca would rather just stand around and bitch and moan about their crummy King.
There is nothing epic about this epic. Battles are described in shorthand: it was a “terrific” fight. Odysseus is a one man killing machine and is always bathed in blood, his enemies hacked to “pieces” like he’s a butcher down at Winn-Dixie. Even one of the most pivotal event in the script, the “massacre of the innocents”, is quickly dispatched. And I don’t know which version you read, Carson, but in the one I read, Odysseus doesn’t do a damn thing to stop the slaughter. In fact, when his townspeople beg for his help, he runs away.
The dialog is like a bag of Cheese Doodles. When Odysseus (I say Russell Crowe) stares at Telemachus and proudly says “what a son” I almost lost my Chicken Stir Fry. And how the hell could anyone know about Russell milking the dragon with Calypso if his fate was unknown?
Yeah, it’s a great Hollywood read. It hits all the plot points and beats, but it’s devoid of any soul. It’s Homer’s Iliad for Dummies.
There is an epic story to be told. Sea monsters. Sirens. Mortals at the whimsy of the mercurial Gods. True love. Huge battles. I mean, HUGE BATTLES.
Carson, when you get that script, ship it over.