Okay, so Scriptshadow’s been around for about eight months now. Some of you have had a chance to read upwards of 50-100 scripts. I’m interested in putting together a “Reader Top 10″ list so here’s what I’d like you to do. Send me a list of your Top 10 favorite unproduced scripts in order 1 through 10. I’m going to use a complex algorithm to average them out and come up with the definitive list.
Send your list to Carsonreeves1@gmail.com or leave it here in the comments section. Would like to have this up by next week! :)
Many of you know sweet, caring, cute and insightful Kristy over at MSP. Although she’s in the thick of a college semester, she’s found enough time to give a female perspective on a lot of the latest scripts in town. Also, she has a library of scripts on her blog where you just may be able to find some of the script links I’m not able to post. Kristy and I agreed she should do a guest review and it was up to me to decide what script to give her. I thought long and hard and finally settled on M. Night’s first sale script, “Labor Of Love.” Why? Well because what film geek doesn’t like discussing M. Night? It’s like Yankee fans reading an article about A-Rod. Everybody’s got an opinion.
I’m one of those people who thinks that each of Night’s films has been worse than the previous. The Sixth Sense, in my eyes, is pretty much the bar for spec scripts. It would fall into the genius category without question. Unbreakable didn’t cater to my sensibilities. Signs showed his first huge miscalculation on an ending. The Village insulted my intelligence. Lady In The Water felt like I’d been transported to an apocalyptic Candyland after being injected with a week’s supply of LSD. And then of course there was The Happening. Maybe my favorite theater moment this decade was when Marky Mark and his group tried to outrun the wind. My entire theater couldn’t stop laughing. Then a dozen people got up and left, then someone in the back yelled out, “You can’t outrun no wind!” and then a few more people left, one of them declaring, “This is bulllll-shit.” During the rest of the movie, an old lady sitting next to me had a running commentary with her friend about how she didn’t understand what was going on. It was way more entertaining than if I had just seen the movie.
But see here’s the weird thing. I went to see *all* of these movies. And I will go to see the next M. Night movie. And the next one after that. Despite everything, in some weird way, I still care about what M. Night makes. So he’s gotta be doing something right, right? Whatever the case, I’d always heard about this script but never knew anything about it. 750k is quite a sale, even back at that time, so the script had to be special, right? Right Kristy?
Premise: After his wife’s death, a man sets out on a 3,200 mile journey across country on foot to show his love for her.
About: This was M. Night Shyamalan’s third script, and the first he sold to Fox back in 1993, for 750k. The project failed to get off the ground reportedly because they were unwilling to put M. Night in the director’s chair (I have other theories why it didn’t get made). The script sale led to work on the film “Stuart Little,” which was then followed by his masterpiece, “The Sixth Sense.”
Writer: M. Night Shyamalan
Details: 119 pages
So I told Carson I wanted to do a blog entry for Script Shadow…he was letting everybody else do one and we go way back so it was only fair that I get a shot. My demands were met with a script by a writer who I wouldn’t care a thing about if he didn’t come up with The Sixth Sense and a script written and sold when I was the ripe age of 5. The night before, I was actually discussing to a friend how much we really didn’t care for M Night. That’s karma I guess. To my surprise this has no elements that I’ve seen from MNS in the past. No dead people, no people lying down in front of lawn mowers for no reason, no mermaids, no contained villages. It was just a regular character driven drama.
Labor of Love is about Maurice Parker and his wife Ellen. The script opens up in a way we’ve seen many times before. It uses a shocking flash-forward scene and then skips back so that we have to read and find out how we ended up there. We fade in on Ellen’s fatal car wreck, but we skip back a few weeks earlier to her and Maurice’s seventeen year marriage. Maurice is very much a man settled into his marriage, it’s the same routine day in and day out. Ellen wakes up, walks ¼ one way to get a loaf of raisin bread for Maurice every morning while Maurice fails to tell Ellen how much she means to him. Ellen is basically STARVING for some affection. Sure Maurice says he loves her, but as a female, I know words can only go so far before we start doubting them. Is it too much to ask for someone to show their love every now and then? Apparently it was for Maurice. He got by on the words “I love you” for seventeen odd years to the point where it was just background noise. She wanted flowers, chocolates, anything tangible to represent his love. She asked him once if he would walk across the country for her and Maurice of course says, sure. But how do we know he would? We wouldn’t unless he physically did it.
Maurice decides to have a celebration one night, he just bought a bigger space to move his classic book store into. Just friends, family, Ellen, for a nice relaxed evening. That’s until he gets the news that Ellen was killed in a car accident by a drunk driver, which we already knew. Maurice’s world instantly falls apart. This story very much reminded me of the Garth Brooks song, If Tomorrow Never Comes. The lyrics go a little something like:
If tomorrow never comes
Will she know how much I loved her
Did I try in every way to show her every day
That shes my only one
And if my time on earth were through
And she must face the world without me
Is the love I gave her in the past
Gonna be enough to last
If tomorrow never comes
Well Ellen won’t ever know how much Maurice loved her. He didn’t do his best everyday to show her. This eats at Maurice from the inside out. She begged for his love and he couldn’t give her an ounce of tangible evidence…until now. Here is a scene between him and an old lady in the park that pretty much confirms his future decision:
Where did he go?
He’s getting my sweater from the car. I said there was a breeze.
(shaking her head)
I told him not to go.
May I ask you a question that might sound strange?
How do you know he loves you?
The old woman looks at him oddly.
I mean besides… time — how did you know ten years ago — twenty years ago?
She thinks hard… tough question. No answer for a moment
The old woman sees something out of the corner of her eye — her husband is walking up the path with her white lace sweater over his arm…
She smiles as the answer comes to her.
Because he shows me… he’s not much for words, but he shows me.
It’s like that scene in The Break Up where Jennifer Aniston tells Vince Vaughn she wants him to want to do the dishes. In other words we shouldn’t have to beg for love, or ask you to do the dishes, you should want to do them because you know it will make us happy. I’m not being gender specific when I say you…but yeah men…you J.
So after 22 pages of me not sure where this story was going, Maurice decides he’s going to walk across the country to show Ellen how much he loved and would do anything for her (umm now that she is no longer in existence). This journey starts in Philadelphia and will end in Pacifica, California, that’s over 3000 miles. It doesn’t say at the beginning why Pacifica, CA, but we find out at the very end through a flashback that Ellen once told Maurice that Pacifica was her “heaven.”
Maurice closes up shop. He gets his stuff together and just leaves, heads out west. He’s in his late forties, not technically physically fit, so you can imagine how this is going to go. So it’s a basic struggle itself just to make the trek across the country. Maurice does make some encounters along the way. Nothing strong enough, not for me anyways. He walks by this liquor store and sees these drunks getting into their trucks to drive. Maurice politely asks them not to drive drunk. This pisses the guys off. Not a page later guess who’s coming up behind him? They beat the pulp out of Maurice but luckily a police “happens” to be nearby and stop them. He runs Maurice’s name to find out his niece is looking for him. She is a psychologist and thinks Maurice is a danger to himself and needs to be in better condition before attempting this crazy adventure. She uses her frequent flyer miles to drive all the way to Indiana and pick him up. Well she stops at a gas station, when she gets back in her car she tries talking to Maurice but he’s silent. She figures he’s sleeping (long journey and all). But when she gets back to PA, she realizes she’s been duped. There’s a homeless man in her backseat in place of Maurice.
This journey is mostly about him walking. At one point Maurice does save a woman and her daughter after a car wreck in a snowstorm. This makes him feel a little better about Ellen’s wreck, as he saved someone. It’s not long before words gets out all over the country. Maurice’s friend used to be a newspaper writer and starts writing little columns about Maurice’s story. Maurice isn’t even aware how big a celebrity he’s becoming. In the final stretch he falls off a ledge in Nevada, breaks his ribs, has a minor stroke, ruptures his spleen, and has some bleeding of the brain. He is hospitalized but glad to find out he is still in California. Doctors tell him that if he doesn’t have surgery he will die. Well of course Maurice is determined to finish the last 60 miles. He HAS to feel that California water on his skin or nothing that he did before matters. He sneaks out of the hospital and keeps on truckin’. He’s on his deathbed as he walks. His side is bleeding through his shirt, he can barely walk. It’s a bit sad and strung out. And the ending? Well…let’s just say if it didn’t end this way I’d be mad because the ending was the only real thing in my mind that had an emotional impact. And I don’t mean the fact of whether he makes it or not. I guess you’ll have to read to find out how it ends.
So like I said I got almost 20 pages in and was wondering where in the heck this was going. I thought Ellen’s death would be something that was strung out the entire story and we would find out why at the end, much like Famous Last Words did. By the way, in my mind it is kind of a short cut, some say cheat, by putting a shocking scene in the first few pages to grab the reader then skip back and reveal the events leading up to it. This hooks the reader in for a bit so they keep reading to find out. The problem is with L.O.L , after that wreck scene it takes 15-20 pages to materialize into the rest of the story. My ADD mind starts to wander by then.
So I was for sure getting a MNS script it would be along the lines of what he does now…but a drama? Where did you pull this one out of MNS? In reports it said this didn’t get made because MNS wanted to direct but they wouldn’t let him. I suspect it didn’t get made because the story is boring and uneventful. That’ just my honest opinion. No offense but I don’t want to watch a man walk across the country and every 15 pages something “comes up” putting doubt in our minds that he will make it. The events used were weak and didn’t have the emotional impact that I think MNS was going for. I knew they’d pass the instant they came up. I’m not sure what others would say about this script…maybe the fact that it is 16 plus years old says something. Maybe this was original back then. Now we got people who walk across country, ride their lawnmowers, horses, etc. So maybe that has something to do with the story.
I had a hard time buying Maurice’s journey. Sure his wife’s death was sad, death always is, but I couldn’t latch on to him. I was never in it when she was alive. I didn’t feel any connection with either character or their relationship. The scenes with them together, including the flashbacks, were very OTN and expositional. It’s like they were saying what they needed to say to go along with the story. Maybe it’s me but I don’t know anyone who talks like that. It was almost as if I didn’t care he was walking across country. In my mind, the way their relationship was presented it was more of a, well you had your chance to show her but you didn’t. I know that sounds bad but that’s how I felt. It was hard to buy Maurice’s sudden revelation and arc.
[ ] What the hell did I just read?
[x] barely kept my interest
[ ] worth the read
[ ] impressive
[ ] genius
What I Learned: If you are going to do a character driven story then make sure we are on board with the actual character. If we have to sit through their journey for an hour and a half, make sure we care enough to want to listen to them and not because we are forced to. If we don’t feel their needs, wants, emotions then you basically have nothing for us.
Genre: Action/WarPremise: (from IMDB) America relies on 1940’s technology to defend itself against an invasion after an electromagnetic pulse leaves the country vulnerable for an attack.
About: This spec script was sold a few years ago. There is some information on IMDB like the fact that Ericson Core (The Prodigy) is the director and Chris Moore the producer, but I’m not sure how recent or accurate the information is. Core is also listed as director on the XXX threequel, “The Return Of Xander Cage,” though that may be a tough movie to direct, since as of today, Xander Cage has announced he’s not returning.
Writer: Sean Bailey, Revisions by Andrew W. Marlowe
I have to admit, I love movie ideas like this. I like movies with worldwide consequences. Not necessarily disaster movies, but any movie where the world or a country is threatened by some force that’s greater than anything they’ve dealt with before. My interest always peaks when the projects take preview form because these movies were born for the trailer medium. When Trailer-Voice Guy goes home to practice at night, these are the movies he practices to. Deep Impact, The Day After Tomorrow, Independence Day. Even the trailer for 2012 leaves me smiling. Destruction on a mass scale can be a beautiful thing on a 900 square foot screen.
Here’s the problem though…
These movies never turn out any good. They can’t possibly live up to their galaxy-sized expectations gleaned from their eye-popping trailers. And I think I know why. It is my contention that the wide-scale destruction/action movie is the hardest genre to write. You must tell a story that focuses on the effects of millions (sometimes billions of people) while at the same time focuing on a core group of characters in a localized place. And you must do so in two hours. If our characters are in New York City but you want to show the Golden Gate Bridge getting flattened, someone has to get a phone call and go, “My mom’s in San Francisco. She says the Golden Gate Bridge is about to buy it!” Cut to the Golden Gate Bridge buying it. Cut back to our characters in New York and continue our story. There’s no emotional connection to the event because it doesn’t have any immediate effect on our characters. You can cut to Tibet or Brazil or Niagra Falls or the Hoover Dam and show them all blowing up in unique wonderful ways, but since our characters can’t possibly be in all these places at once, the shots become exploitation. Destruction porn. Unconnected sequences ideal for a TV spot but unimportant to our main character’s journey.
That’s one problem but there are many. The dialogue is another issue. Most of the time the movies are supposed to be “realistic,” requiring you to write your characters in that vein, yet because these films are “event movies,” the characters must add a “grandiosity” to their words. Everybody’s forced to talk in overly dramatic tones that nobody on earth talks like. This creates a weird overly serious melodramatic fog that just hangs over every scene, making it impossible to buy that you’re watching real life.
For these reasons, we’ve never really had a perfect destruction movie. They’re almost all disappointments. Which is why I was both excited and cautious when I heard about Liberty. First of all, why more people don’t write movies about a modern day America getting attacked is beyond me. That idea alone is cool enough to get me in the theater. But the cherry that pushes this sundae over the top is its twist: What if the biggest army in the world was forced to defend itself with 1940s weaponry? The irony in that premise is just too juicy not to love. So is this just like every other “destruction” film that doesn’t live up to its potential? Or does Liberty discover the secret ingredient to success?
General Ivan Galkin has just pulled a coup on the Russian government and declared martial law. Ivan misses all those separated Soviet states that left his great country and would like for nothing more than to bring them back together. In a time where it’s difficult to come up with an enemy for the United States, this take feels oddly believable. We saw the Soviet Union fall apart in a day. Why couldn’t it come back together in that time?
Back in the U.S., Maggie Heflin, the Secretary Of The Interior (yeah, I don’t know what that means either) is coaching her little girl’s soccer game and having quite a hard time leading the team. A few minutes later, a couple of serious looking men show up and tell her she’s needed immediately. She jumps in a car and is ushered to the White House, where she’s placed in a room with all the other members of the cabinet. She asks around, speculating on what this means. Well, this tends to happen under only one condition – the president (who was visiting Russia) has been assassinated.
If that weren’t bad enough, satellite radar has detected a large mass of ships blazing through the Pacific Ocean towards Santa Monica. It doesn’t take long to figure out that this fleet is headed up by General Galkin. Galkin gives his Yankee comrades a call and lets them know that he’s not coming to catch the latest performance of Wicked. The U.S. laughs off the attack because, well, even a huge Russian fleet is no match for the United States’ army. They probably shouldn’t have laughed it off. Five seconds later, using advanced electro-magnetic pulse technology, the Russians shut down every single electric and computerized piece of equipment in the country. The United States has just been transported back to the 1940s.
In one of the better twists in the story, the president, vice-president, and numerous top officials have been assassinated by the Russian government. As the White House scrambles through the books to figure out who is supposed to lead them, it turns out that Maggie Heflin, the little woman who couldn’t lead her daughter’s soccer team to victory…is next in line to become the leader of the United States.
The fun in the script comes from both us and the characters trying to figure out how to defend a country when all the technologies we’ve become so dependent on are stripped away. “I want an analysis of our options when the country’s electrical grid goes down.” “I can’t get it,” the aide says, “All that info is on my laptop.” If you don’t have computers, if you don’t have e-mail and internet, if you don’t have TV or cell phones or transportation…how do you accomplish *anything*?? To give you an idea of just how dire and desperate their situation is, if this really happened, there would be no Scriptshadow updates! There would be no Scriptshadow website!! Yes, I know.
Eventually Maggie figures out that the only way they can defend themselves is by scrounging up all the pre-computerized military equipment in the U.S., which basically amounts to cars, planes and tanks used back in World War 2, and use that to defend the west coast. A radio call is sent out to any veterans who fought during the 2nd war who know how to operate this ancient machinery. All these young Air Force hotshots have to learn how to fly planes that actually require you to *fly them* (as opposed to do all the work for you).
Overall, the script is fun, but it does run into those requisite cheesy problems these types of movies have trouble avoiding. For instance, the old highly decorated codger comes back to fight one more battle. The writers try a little too hard to make you love the guy and therefore his journey doesn’t ring true. Cliché isn’t avoided either. There’s the Top Gun ace who’s a cross between Tom Cruise and Die Hard Bruce Willis. His every utterance screams, “I’m in an action movie and I’m badass.” I would’ve liked to have seen a more original human side to both these characters, but they do their job.
The final battle is intricate and elaborate enough that no amount of scriptwriting can do it justice. A director with a strong vision has the tools here to create one of the most action-packed drool-inducing battles of all time. 1940s American army vs. the state of the art Soviet army – how cool would that be? Even though it didn’t blow me away on the page, I fully recognize that seeing it would be a different experience.
A couple of cliché main characters keep this from being exceptional. I thought the writers could’ve taken more chances as well, dived into some areas we haven’t seen in this kind of movie before. They’re almost too cozy, resting on an idea that they know is going to smooth over a lot of the problems. But for the most part, I dug what I saw. This script isn’t ready for its close-up just yet, but it’s on its way.
[ ] What the hell did I just read?
[ ] barely kept my interest
[x] worth the read
[ ] impressive
[ ] genius
What I learned: It’s really hard to make elaborate action/car chase scenes pop off the page. It’s not that it can’t be done, but most filmmakers recognize that the director is going to choreograph these scenes anyway, and therefore speed-read through them. I know some professional writers are so sure of this, they merely write: “Big action/chase scene here” instead of writing everything out. Not that you should take that approach on a spec script. My advice to you on writing good action scenes actually has very little to do with the action at all. Make us obsessed with your character. Make us care about him/her more than we care about members of our own family. That way, even if you place your character in a straightforward no-frills sidewalk chase, we’ll be gripping our seat hoping he makes it out alive.
Let it be known: Roger does not like everything! And he proves that today. I can’t say I know much about this project, but I know that when Jan De Bont is attached to anything, that project is in trouble. Let’s go back a decade shall we? Do you remember The Haunting? A 100 million dollar scary movie that managed to not be scary…in any capacity? Do you remember Speed 2? Jan De Bont actually wrote the sequel to a movie called “Speed” and set it…ON A CRUISE SHIP. Everyone who signed up for that premise deserves what they got, but De Bont’s the one who wrote it. So when I hear his name associated with this project, I’m not surprised it never made it in front of the cameras. De Bont’s last directorial effort was 2003’s Lara Croft sequel, “The Cradle of Life.” Can’t say I saw that one. Maybe it was great.
For those of you curious about the logline contest, I’ll be making the official official announcement next Monday. So warm those loglines up people. I will say that there’s been a major change. You will only be allowed to submit 1 logline. And that must represent a script that’s already been written, as I’d like to speed up the timeframe of the contest considerably. If you’re wondering how to write a logline, here’s a good place to start. But before you go anywhere, read Roger’s review of “Ghost Riders In The Sky.”
Genre: Western, Science Fiction
Premise: As the U.S. military wars against the Apache, two Civil War veterans set out to help a woman find her missing anthropologist father. Everyone gets more than they bargained for when the Apache make contact with a race of creatures that might be from another planet.
About: In 1998, Warner Brothers postponed one of the many iterations of “Superman” and pulled the plug on the Protosevich-scripted and the Arnold Schwarzenegger-leading, “I am Legend”. Over at Fox, they decided to sideline an event pic of their own, an alien western helmed by Jan de Bont called “Ghost Riders in the Sky”. With a budget ballooning over $100 million and purported script concerns, Fox ultimately killed the project. However, everyone knows that the project’s death was directly tied to the disastrous box office of Speed 2, De Bont’s previous effort. Ironically, this was all Fox’s doing, as they were so desperate to set up a summer tentpole project, they announced Speed 2 without even an idea in place. De Bont spitballed a bunch of his ideas with his people, including an idea that would’ve focused on volcano bombing, but ultimately settled on a cruise ship, because he had so much fun D.P.’ing on Hunt For Red October. Keanu saw that idea and bolted. The only reason Bullock signed on was because she owed her career to De Bont. It is said that nobody at De Bont’s company understood what he saw in “Ghost Riders In The Sky,” a script that was plucked out of the slush pile by an intern.
Writer: Draft by W.D. Richter; Rewrite by Mark Protosevich
One of my first movie memories is of my dad showing me “The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai Across the 8th Dimension” (another is of him renting “The Adventures of Baron Munchausen”; I have a cool dad), so I have much fondness for the name W.D. Richter. As screenwriters and lovers of movies, how can anyone not have appreciation for a writer whose oeuvre includes John Carpenter’s “Big Trouble in Little China” and Philip Kaufman’s “Invasion of the Body Snatchers”?
Admittedly, the only flick I’ve seen that has Mark Protosevich’s name attached is “The Cell”, which I like. I have not read his scripts for “I am Legend” or “Thor”, and rather than proffer an uninformed opinion, I’ll just say, “I hear good things about them”.
Which brings us to a script, a proposed sci-fi western that has both of these dude’s names on the cover. For some reason, Samuel L. Jackson’s name is on the cover as well (plastered in ominous fat font, no less), yet I’m hard-pressed to guess which character he might have played.
Isn’t “Ghost Riders in the Sky” the name of a legendary country song?
So it is. A scared-straight song about a cowboy who has a haunting vision of The Devil’s herd: red-eyed, steel-hooved cattle thundering across the sky.
In our script there’s a red-eyed motif and a copious use of thunder and lightning (and ice, for that matter), but our beasties ain’t flying cattle. They’re more of the flying serpent variety.
Ever wonder where the inspiration for the Aztec god, Quetzalcoatl, came from? According to this script, it comes from the “chilling, gorgeous images of god-like bird humans” who serve as the eponymous aliens to our scared cowboys.
Who are our cowboys?
That would be Buck and Reb, Gettysburg veterans who abandon the railroad crews to venture to California, with the hope of making it big in the citrus industry.
Easily the best part about this script, Buck and Reb are a Union and Confederate screwball duo who aren’t above robbing trains in inventive fashion. Like when they try to use the corpse of a cow to stop a train, only to find that something else entirely has killed everyone on board and stripped the corpses and the locomotive of metal.
They have a lot of funny dialogue in an otherwise frustrating and messy script.
Might say so. Betcha fifty cents can’t tell me what this is.
Out from under the bar…set down in front of Reb and Buck. A dark crusty object about a foot in length, sweet potato in shape.
Sorry. Not a gamblin’ man.
You’re on. It’s a yucca root. Been roasted in hot coals for…
Fifty cents, Reb.
(back at the bartender)
…about five hours I’m guessin’. Makes for damn fine eatin’.
Buck picks it up, to smell it. He’s starved.
You lose. It’s Luke Smith. Poor bastard was standin’ guard on the rail line last night when the Devil roared through.
This screwball duo becomes a screwball trio when they hook up with Alice Butterworth, the dainty daughter of an English anthropologist who disappeared while researching a mysterious Native American myth (our bird-god Quetzalcoatl thingies, which will later be referred to as ‘Sky Knives’) near the town of Mesa Gulch.
She’s searching for her aforementioned father, possessing one of his last letters sent from the Mesa Gulch post office. In an eyebrow-raising aside, she gets drunk with our clumsy cowboy lotharios after she shoots a man dead when he tries to rape her. The binge-drinking ends the next morning when all three of our players wake up in the same bed.
Yep, a risqué screwball ménage a trois.
What’s the big picture?
Let’s backtrack to the first 10 pages of the script. It’s an interesting break from form, where instead of being introduced to the heroes of the piece, we get an extended action sequence that establishes the historical climate and the alien menace.
A group of thirty Calvary soldiers trap the notorious Indian gunslinger, Wild Gun, and his band of Apaches in a box canyon. The Apache medicine man, Hawk Dreamer, works some of his juju and it’s not long before something sentient swoops out of the sky and comes to their aid.
The Calvary troop is massacred by streaks of gold light and fireballs that descend out of the sky, leaving behind frozen corpses and scorched earth. Trust me, it’s as weird as it sounds.
Anyways, defying the old showbiz adage, the Mesa Gulch Massacre is not good publicity for Philander W. Beckwith, powerful railway magnate obsessed with manifest destiny. This captain of industry is so powerful he even gets into a public screaming match with the President of The United States, Ulysses S. Grant.
For a character that only has one scene, Philander sure has a lot of sway over our nation’s leader. “Well, then do something about reality. Because if you don’t, I will,” he tells The Hero of Appomattox.
Not to worry, the President is already on it. “I have cut loose a force of nature. I have summoned The Eradicator.”
What pray-tell is The Eradicator?
Not what, but whom. The Eradicator is no other than Colonel Harry Loveless Knowland, a scripture-quoting bounty hunter tasked with assassinating Wild Gun and any other Apache he and his mercenary army run across.
Not only is he a hypocrite, dickhead, and cold-hearted killer, he also has his eyes set on the presidency.
Things get dicey when Alice offers Reb and Buck one hundred dollars each to accompany her to Thunder Mesa, where she hopes to find the “Cave of Stars” and her father. Both cowboys (being broke and in love) are tempted by the offer, but ultimately decide they don’t want to get scalped by Apaches.
So they opt to rob the Mesa Gulch bank instead.
Only problem is, The Eradicator shows up for reasons I still don’t understand (perhaps he wants to rob the bank, too) and Reb pisses him off royally by escaping his clutches. Shenanigans ensue as Buck and Alice pretend to be a married couple and are taken under the wing of the Colonel and his men.
And for muddled reasons we’re all rollicking towards Thunder Mesa and the grand finale. There’s a stage-coach chase and another appearance by the Sky Knives, who save our heroes and whisk Alice away to the “Cave of Stars”. Reb surrenders to the Colonel so he can help Buck rescue Alice, as The Eradicator is hell-bent on getting to Thunder Mesa so he can kill Wild Gun.
The ruse is up when Buck helps Reb escape and the third-act showdown begins as The Eradicator receives back-up from the U.S. military to wipe out the Apache stronghold.
There’s a lot of The Weird (but more importantly, Confusion) as Alice discovers what happened to her father and witnesses the awe and wonder of the alien creatures. Which falls flat, because it’s opaque and I couldn’t figure out what the fuck was going on.
But I’ll try. Apparently her father is in some kind of trance, or perhaps he’s just frozen in time within the Cave of Stars, I can’t tell.
But inside the “concave bowl” within a mountain, she discovers that these golden serpent thingies are melting metal and mounds of gold coins and are feeding the molten liquid to their young. There’s also lightning shooting out of a hexagonal hole in the center of this milieu.
Yeah, don’t ask me, I only read the thing.
So, there’s a big battle, which for some reason is written in ALL CAPS, and the Sky Knives make a big show of killing some people but sparing others, and then their space ship flies out of the mountain and they leave planet Earth, presumably to teach The Eradicator (and you, dear reader), that violence is bad.
Why the long face, Roger?
This script has all the bizarro ingredients to create a feast that appeals to my oddball palette, but as a whole, it’s a savorless mess that leaves behind a disorderly kitchen with way too many dirty dishes.
It’s a screenplay that’s plagued with unclear storytelling. Just now, as I was trying to recap the plot for you guys, I felt like a mortician trying to make sense of a corpse mangled beyond all recognition.
There are a lot of prose passages in this thing. Which, personally, I don’t mind in a screenplay. I can read something by Walon Green, William Goldman, or hell, even Frank Darabont’s Indy script and feel like I’m rewarded for my patience. Nothing wrong with lots of words as long as they are good words strung coherently together.
But I do mind when the sentences are in ALL CAPS, and instead of periods there are copious amounts of ellipsis and comma splices. I don’t know, maybe that’s just an aesthetic preference, but my eyeballs had a fuck-all time wading through the long blocks of description and action. So much so that at times I lost all sense of narrative spatial awareness. I was constantly back-tracking trying to figure out what was happening on stage (or on the movie screen in my head).
I hate to say it, but there was some sloppy writing and use of language in this script.
Seems like whichever exec made the hard decision to pull the plug on this $100 million dollar turkey was struck by a sobering dose of wisdom and saved Fox some major face.
[x] What the hell did I just read?
[ ] barely kept my interest
[ ] worth the read
[ ] impressive
[ ] genius
What I learned: Economy of words, people. Economy of words. Are your lines of action/prose passages clunky? Do you trip over them or run out of breath while trying to read them aloud? If the answer is ‘Yes’, then you might want to experiment with brevity. I’m all for dense and compelling lines of action, but I think there’s something to be said for the 3-sentence rule. If anything, if you limit your lines of action and description to 3 sentences, you’ll at least simulate a breezy read.
I…don’t know what to say here. I’m still in shock. Will…Ferrell? For Everything Must Go? My favorite script? A dramatic coming-of-age movie about a man who gets locked out of his own house by his wife and starts living on his lawn (by the way, some people are reporting this as a romantic comedy – it’s not a romantic comedy by any stretch).
I’m trying to wrap my head around this. I guess I deserve this, since it’s my favorite script and I haven’t even reviewed it on the site (The script is perfect in my memory – I’m afraid if I read it again, I might start finding faults).
This is just…it’s strange. I always pictured Mark Ruffalo in the role, or Edward Norton, or Bruce Willis, or Robert Downy Jr. This is just such out-of-left-field casting I don’t know what to do with it.
The reason I’m kinda freaking out right now is because this movie IS the lead’s performance. It’s about a man who sits in his yard all day. It’s him observing the world, him talking to neighbors. It’s all about him.
There are some comedic moments in the script for sure. The main character lives solely to find enough beer money to get him through to the next day, and his dealings with a kid who hangs out on the block to help him get the beer is consistently hilarious, but there’s some real weight to this character and I think we’ve seen from Will Ferrell in the past that the only weight he has is in his abdomen area. I guess I should be happy that at least now the movie will be seen. They’ll have an advertising campaign. People will know about it. But I imagine this nightmare scenario where the studio secretly tricks Ferrell into shooting the movie, but then they have “screenings,” determine the film is “not working” then cut it to turn it into a comedy (which was really their plan all along). Cause the truth is, you could easily skew this to play as a comedy (it *is* about a guy who camps out on his own lawn). My feelings are I don’t know what my feelings are. I’m going to need to sit on this for awhile.