Okay so last week got a little crazy with the Inception April Fool’s Day joke and I apologize to anyone who was offended (not really though). But my little made-up plot was good enough to convince a few people (Hey, it was a pretty fucking cool idea. I’d see that movie). They even had a little blurb about it at /Film. In order to sell the lie on April Fools’ Day I had to resort to some drastic measures, informing good friends that Warner Brothers was close to putting me behind bars. It wasn’t easy. To relive the fun, here’s the pretend review for Inception.
So we’re going to stay with the “bad joke sci-fi” theme and review a little script called “Battle: Los Angeles” – which should’ve been titled “Battle: For My Attention”. It does contain, however, the very first Scriptshadow embedded picture. So it’s a landmark in that sense.
For those of you who sent angry e-mails demanding a link to “The Details” script, I’ve finally posted one. Go back to the original review here: The Details and the link is at the bottom. Also, for all you development pimps, I’m trying to get my hands on a script called “Nonstop” which sold to Dreamworks last month, as well as Zach Braff’s latest script, “Andrew Henry’s Meadow.” I have a couple others I’m looking for in my appropriately named “Scripts I’m Looking For” list (down and to the right). They’re rare enough that if you can get me any of them, I will be your BFF for the remainder of 2009, and most of 2010. And of course if there’s anything hot out there that you want reviewed, send it my way.
This week’s first review is posted BELOW this post. Enjoy.
Genre: Sci-Fi Action
Synopsis: Aliens take over Los Angeles. We try to take it back. I think.
About: This is being made into a movie to star Aaron Eckhart and directed by the guy who directed Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Beginning.
Writer: Chris Bertolini
The original Battle of Los Angeles took place in 1945 right here where I live, in Culver City, California (a suburb of Los Angeles). Remember, after Pearl Harbor, the U.S. was gripped by the fear that their distance would no longer protect them. It wasn’t unlike 9/11 when we assumed that every plane we went up in was going to be hijacked (or at least I did). So the U.S. set up these gun stations to protect the major cities. Then one night, a strange object appeared in the sky. Huge sky lights pointed up at the air vehicle and the army blasted away at it with every bullet they could find. It was that night that this famous picture was taken.
For those that care, I can see this very spot from my apartment right now!
Anyway, there are UFO pundits who use this picture as solid evidence that UFOs are real. Skeptics, however, point out that all the numerous lights do is distort the image, making it impossible to tell what it is. Although generals on the scene swore it was some sort of hovering craft, later on their statements changed, saying they weren’t sure what it was. Some even theorized that it was a commercial airplane (of which nobody knew where it originated nor where it landed – plus it was somehow able to avoid the collective firepower of the United States army) Some even say it was nerves. Just us being so afraid something was going to happen, that we created the scenario out of fear. I just think it’s cool that it happened a few blocks away from where I live.
The reason I bring this up is because it was this scenario – vaguely – that inspired Battle: Los Angeles, the script I was unfortunate enough to read last night.
Maybe it was because period pieces don’t sell. Maybe it was because the studio was too lazy to do the research. But somewhere along the way they decided to base their film in the present. And this is how we got one of the worst action scripts I have ever read.
So the movie starts off kinda cool. Meteors shoot into the ocean a couple of miles off the coast of Los Angeles. Minutes later, beachgoers witness a strange alien like army oozing out of the water “first ten minutes of Saving Private Ryan”-style. These aliens are nasty, they’re fast, and they kill on site. Within seconds they’re shredding the suntanning populace to pieces and moving into the city of Santa Monica.
And then the movie proceeds to turn into total and complete SHIT. Santa Monica evacuates, leaving this army of 50,000 aliens to take over apartments, houses, Pinkberrys, and Jamba Juices (thankfully Tito’s Tacos was spared). As night falls, someone in the army makes the decision to send 5 marines into the city to………I have no fucking idea why. Look around? Check things out? Yes, because it makes total sense to send 5 marines into a city overtaken by 50,000 lightning fast superhuman strength flesh-ripping aliens. Makes total sense to me. Particularly since their mission is so clear. To like….go in….and check things out.
The marines head into the city: At night. I guess cause going in there at night gives them an advantage over the aliens.
After getting into a few battles with the aliens, they find a group of people left behind. Their mission now becomes to get *out* of the very city they were just told to go into (for no reason).
That’s pretty much the movie right there. I’d tell you who the characters were but I forgot. They were so bland, so boring, that I instantly forgot who they were as soon as I finished the script.
I will not fault the writer for this mess. There is no way even the least talented writer in the world could’ve come up with something this bad. He had to be working with notes given to him by some clueless studio executive. This so wreaks of lack of imagination that it’s the only way I can explain it.
This is going to be a real movie. No, I’m serious. Out of words.
[ ] barely kept my interest
[ ] worth the read
[ ] impressive
[ ] genius
What i learned from Battle: Los Angeles: Nobody cares about your characters being in peril if we don’t know anything about or like the characters. And that’s this entire movie – is these marines in peril. Who cares? I don’t know a single one of these guys. None of them have any problems. None of them have any goals. None of them have done anything to help me identify with them. Take those extra few pages at the beginning of your action script and introduce us to your main characters. All the better if you do it in an entertaining way. Please see “Aliens” as the best example of this. Terrible.
Genre: Light sci-fi/Romantic Comedy
Synopsis: What if, on the verge of getting married, you learned that your soul mate was someone else?
About: This spec just sold to Dreamworks earlier in the week.
Writer: Chris McCoy
Hot off the presses is the recently sold spec script “Good Looking”. Good Looking is about a dating service in the near future that is able to identify with 100% accuracy your one and only true love. As WILL and EMMA near their wedding, Will begins to wonder if Emma is the right girl for him and tries out the service. Imagine his surprise when he finds out that his true love is not Emma, but some girl named SOPHIE. The script focuses on the crumbling of Will and Emma’s relationship as Will becomes more and more fixated on the fact that he may be with the wrong person.
It’s actually a really good premise with a ton of potential. You’ve been with someone for five years, then along comes this dating service that tells you (with 100% certainty mind you) that that person isn’t your true love. You start to have doubts. You start to wonder. And all of a sudden, you want to meet this other person.
Unfortunately Good Looking is never as good as it is in those first few pages because there’s no real engine behind the story. This script needed some energy, some drive. And, at least for me personally, I didn’t care if the two leads stayed together, which is the essential component to any romantic comedy.
Good Looking takes its time setting things up. I’m no Page Nazi but Will doesn’t have his appointment with the Good Looking service until page 39. Since we know where this movie is going by page 5, that gives us 34 pages of sitting around and doing nothing.
I might have forgiven McCoy if there was some story within the story that we could get excited about. Or if we could learn something new about the characters. But all we find out is that Will is a decent enough guy, if not a little boring. Emma’s a police officer who’s kind of moody. And that’s it. Those 34 pages are dedicated to reinforcing those character traits.
I think what bothered me about Good Looking was that it understands the beats it has to hit, but forgets what to do in between them. For instance, Emma and Will are supposed to get married. Yet it’s freaking 3 months away! There’s no sense of urgency. If a mistake is made, we still have another 2 months and 29 days to fix it. Why not make the wedding in a week? That way every decision and problem is magnified times a thousand.
Now as far as the Rom Com world in general, there are a few key things you have to get right. First we have to like the guy. Second we have to like the girl. And third we have to want them to be together. That way, when the “guy loses girl” scenario happens, all we can think about is him getting her back (or vice versa) But Emma is an aggressive moody cop that likes bad 80s movies and smokes pot. That’s not someone I would want to get back together with, and so I didn’t want Will to get back together with her either.
There’s a so-so third act where Will is trying to court Sophie (the “soul mate”) that feels like it comes on too late. In the end he decides he doesn’t want “perfect love”. He wants love with all its imperfections. Which is a sentence that sounds good in a trailer, but in the context of Good Looking, it doesn’t quite feel honest. I don’t know any guy who likes to get screamed at for 2 hours because he forgot to empty the dishwasher.
There’s a movie here somewhere and I get why it sold. As human beings, we’re obsessed with the color of grass just over the hill. Is it really greener? Or is it just as patchy and inconsistent as the grass in our front lawn? That’s really what this movie is about. It’s not about 100% matches or any of that – it’s about the human condition of never being satisfied with what we have and always feeling like we can do better. I think, in the next draft, if Good Looking focuses more on that theme, it could be that rare Rom Com, the kind that makes you think. As of this moment, it’s too raw for my taste. Hope it gets better in the rewrites.
[ ] trash
[x] barely kept my interest
[ ] worth the read
[ ] impressive
[ ] genius
What I learned from Good Looking: Lots of things here. But I’ll focus on the lack of urgency. The wedding should’ve been scheduled for a lot sooner. The choice of making it 3 months down the road almost destroyed the script all by itself. We never ever felt a sense of urgency with the story. People just sat around talking and acting upset. In a story like this you need to feel like time is running out. It really ups the stakes and gives your script momentum.
Those paying attention will already know that my script of the month is Tenure. There isn’t much more I can say about it other than that I loved it from top to bottom. At its heart, it’s the most basic, most tried-and-true genre of them all: the underdog story. And who doesn’t like a good underdog story? But you’ve still gotta execute it. And Mike Million is a literary executioner. I was so excited when I heard not only that this was being made into a movie, but that Million was directing it, because it’s one those stories that will not work without the author’s interpretation. One of my most anticipated films of the year. The below link will take you to the original review.
Okay, this probably went WAY over some of your heads. But “Inception”, the script review I posted yesterday, is currently the Holy Grail of scripts. It’s impossible to get. As of this moment, there’s only one copy, and it’s on Christopher Nolan’s computer. Or more likely printed out and kept in a safe. So the idea of me getting my hands on it is kinda ridiculous. But it was sure fun to come up with the story! Sorry for having to perpetuate the lie for so long. And I actually received a lot of nice e-mails telling me to keep my head up. Thank you! It made me feel terrible. So I’m finally coming clean. Inception was an April Fool’s Day joke. I’m not in any trouble. :)
Now if I may, let me indulge a little, and recall some of my favorite parts of the review.
-“The movie revolves around a man named JACOB HASTLEY, 34, a scientist and recent paraplegic who’s considering suicide.” — Hahaha! This actually sounds pretty good. When I read it back I thought, ‘That’s a role Leonardo Dicaprio would probably want to play.’ (DiCaprio is attached to play the lead in the film).
-“These first traveling scenes to other solar systems and galaxies are some of the highlights of the script. Nolan takes us to worlds that defy everything we know about physics and matter and space and time. It’s hard to describe it but he writes it as if we are inside of his mind, thinking it, just like he is. It is such a risky choice as a writer and like nothing I’ve ever seen on the page but it totally pays off.” — I think I laughed non-stop for fifteen minutes coming up with this.
But my all time favorites have to be these two:
-“KANSAS is a dog-whisperer who seems to have an otherworldly connection with the animals she teaches…And then there’s ISABELL, a blind woman who will stop at nothing to see again.” — Come on guys! lol. If that didn’t give it away.
To be honest, the concept sounds vaguely like it could work. I explored the mind-universe idea in one of my own scripts, so I know it has potential. I apologize to everyone for going that extra mile and e-mailing them that this was not an April Fool’s joke. But, you know, it’s April Fool’s! So you’re allowed to add lies on top of your lies. Think of it this way. An ex-girlfriend once played an April Fool’s “joke” on me where she told me she was pregnant. And didn’t back off until the end of the day! So you guys got off easy. Before I leave though, I’d like to leave you with one last favorite from the review…
-“Inception has a purpose. Jacob must find the truth behind the origin of the universe (its “inception”) before the other travelers catch up to him.” — hahahaha. I loved throwing the title in there, as if that gave it more credibility. lol
I’ve put the original review back up. It’s under the Breach and Clear review. Thanks again to everyone for the well wishes. I promise not to do this again until next year. :)