Genre: Sci-fi Dark Comedy
Synopsis: A spacecraft transporting thousands of people to a distant planet has a malfunction in one of its sleep chambers. As a result, a single passenger is awakened 90 years before anyone else. Faced with the prospect of growing old and dying alone, he wakes up a second passenger who he’s fallen in love with.
About: Considered one of the best screenplays of 2007, this script was put on the fast track once Keanu Reeves attached himself to star.
Writer: Jon Spaihts
One of the first things I ask people who read a lot is, “Have you read anything good lately?” The one title that keeps coming back over and over again is “Passengers”. And I can see why. It’s an entirely unique premise. It’s a sci-fi film that’s also a comedy. It’s dark in ways that movies like this never are. It takes chances. It’s interesting. It’s different.
So then why didn’t I like it?
Upon hearing so many people hype this script up, I actually went back and reread it, figuring I’d missed something. But even that second time around, I couldn’t get over one major hole in the story: This would never happen.
A giant ship is flying to another world to colonize it. Makes sense. People are put in sleep chambers for the 100+ year trip. Makes sense. One of those sleep chambers malfunctions. Makes sense. There isn’t a system in place in case this happens??? …….. Sorry, doesn’t make sense. I don’t care how you spin it. It’s a huge hole. Because the whole movie hinges on you believing that Keannu Reeve’s character, Jim, is in this situation.
What about cycling tech support people in and out of 10 year sleep periods so there were always men maintaining the ship? What about robots with the capability of waking crew up? Why wouldn’t a system be put in place?
Okay, enough of Grouch Patrol. When Jim realizes there’s no way to go back to sleep, he fears he’ll end up living the rest of his life alone in this vast vacant ship. He does make a friend in Arthur The Robotic Bartender. But you can only take conversations with a robot so far – or at least I’m told – and Jim cannot escape his loneliness.
The only thing that keeps him going is the divinely beautiful Aurora, one of the other passengers still in her chamber. Jim begins quite possibly the biggest stalking case in history as he spends every waking hour watching Aurora sleep. This leads to querying the central computer and finding out everything about her. It’s a seriously unhealthy relationship. After months and months, Jim gets an idea. A terrible idea. What if he opened Aurora’s chamber? Knowing that she’ll never be able to go back to sleep. Knowing that she will grow old here with him and die….. It’s the ultimate act of selfishness. Does he do it?
Of course he fucking does it. You can only have a single character wandering around in a movie for so long (unless you’re Tom Hanks).
So he releases Aurora on false pretenses, telling her her chamber malfunctioned. And because he’s spent months and months researching her, he’s able to be every thing she wants in a man. Not having any competition helps as well. Eventually though, Aurora finds out the truth, and the only two people left in the world become enemies. Jim is even more alone now than when Aurora was asleep.
The final act deals with a ship malfunction that threatens to kill everyone and Jim and Aurora are forced to work together. It’s not a bad ending but like I said, I just wasn’t into it.
This is one of the few instances where even though I’m giving Passengers a bad review, I encourage you to check it out yourself. It appears I’m waaaaay in the minority here and there’s a good chance you’ll like this. Here’s the link….
[ ] trash
[x] barely kept my interest
[ ] worth the read
[ ] impressive
[ ] genius
What I learned from Passengers: I think it’s important that you approach all of your stories with a sense of logic. Ask yourself, “Does this make sense?” “Would this really happen?” A lot of times writers don’t challenge their ideas because they fall in love with them. Crossover genres like Passengers are particularly susceptible because there’s always one genre the writer cares less about. He/she simply assumes you won’t give a shit (and you can argue that he’s right – since this script is so universally loved). But I still believe you turn off a portion of your audience by not tending to the details and I think it will cost Passengers a lot of sci-fi fans. Don’t ever underestimate your audience.
Just wanted to say hi to the people coming over from Scott Myers’ blog, “Go Into The Story“. Scott loves writers who read and you’ll find no better blog for script-reading than Scriptshadow. I welcome you guys and hope you stick around. Scott and I plan to do some cool things in the future so stay tuned. In the meantime, check out today’s review of Diablo Cody’s latest: Jennifer’s Body.
Genre: Teen Horror
Synopsis: A high school cheerleader becomes a flesh-eating spawn of the devil.
About: This is the much talked about follow-up to Diablo Cody’s Oscar winning screenplay, Juno. Megan Fox to star. Coming out in September of this year.
Writer: Diablo Cody
There’s a real temptation here to tear this to pieces. There’s a temptation to lol at the sound bytes of dialogue that are way too cute to be uttered by any human being, regardless of age. There’s a temptation to call Diablo Cody’s career a sham, based on her decision to to do what every other wanna-be celebrity does to get famous: take off their clothes. But one thing is very clear: Diablo Cody is making millions of dollars writing screenplays. I am not. Well, not yet anyway. The point is, she’s clearly doing something right. For that reason, I’m going to pretend that I never saw the first 30 minutes of Juno, that I never heard the phrases “You’re preggo with my eggo” or “Oh my blog”, and I’m going to do what nobody in this world has been able to do since Juno was released. I’m going to judge Diablo Cody’s screenplay objectively.
See here’s something I’ve got to give Diablo credit for. Cause when I first heard this was going to be her follow-up to Juno I thought, “You’re stupid.” But the more I thought about it, the more I realized how genius it was. Horror gets bad reviews no matter what. Doesn’t matter if Sucksy McSuckums writes it or Quentin Tarantino. Critics bash horror. So by writing a horror film, you effectively exonerate yourself from criticism. Cause when the bad reviews come in you can simply throw up your arms and say, “What I am supposed to do?? Critics hate horror.” And thus Diablo Cody doesn’t have the pressure of following up an Oscar effort. Although I don’t particularly like Diablo’s writing style, I admit she’s one smart chicky.
Enough of this shit. Let’s talk about Jennifer’s body. Now as some of you may know by now, Jennifer is being played by super-douche Donna’s boyfriend from the old 90210’s current ex-girlfriend Megan Fox. Jennifer is your typical perfect high school cheerleader princess. She’s got the body, she’s got the face, and she’s got the attitude. So it’s a little confusing why her best friend is Needy, the artsy girl who works at the school paper (no not “needy”, but her actual name is Needy, for real). A little bit of a stretch there but since it’s early on in the script, you go with it.
Jennifer’s clearly in control of the relationship. It’s Thora Birch – Mena Suarvi Bff-ship in American Beauty territory. So when Jennifer informs a busy Needy that she has to come with her to see this new totally blog-like Emo band, Needy reluctantly agrees. Well not even 2 minutes into their first set, the club catches fire and nearly everybody dies. Except for Needy, Jennifer and the band (clearly inspired by the Great White fire that killed all those people in the Rhode Island club a few years back).
The emo band invites Jennifer along for an after-party to which, despite dozens of people just dying, she accepts. And after that night, Jennifer is never the same. Mainly because she’s possessed by the devil and needs to feed on able-bodied male teenagers to get through the day.
This is going to surprise some of you but I didn’t think Jennifer’s Body was that bad. It was silly but Diablo isn’t aiming for greatness here. I would say that there were a few times that the Jennifer character seemed to enjoy the act of dismembering boys a little too much – to the point where I’d be a teensy bit scared to meet Cody in an alley – but it was still funny.
There are Diablo-isms that will definitely test the patience of non-fans. For example, instead of a character saying “You’re jealous” they’ll say “You’re jello.” And if you say you’re not jello they’ll counter with, “Yes you are! You’re key lime green jello!” Personally I plan on never using the word jello again because of this and I would recommend to the people at Webster’s Dictionary that they remove the word “jello” so that Diablo can never use it again either. But what are you gonna do? It started with a chair.
Another curiosity I found was that whenever Jennifer killed someone, Needy became Obi-Wan Kenobi. She would have to sit down and take a moment to process a “terrible feeling.” I mean I know these two are besties but does that mean they also have The Force?
Hey look, I admit it, I thought the first 30 minutes of Juno were shit. But I look forward to Cody’s EW column every week. And as many of you have pointed out, exposure for any writer is a good thing. I sorta kinda didn’t mind Jennifer’s Body. It was somewhat not-unlikeable.
[ ] trash
[ ] barely kept my interest
[x] worth the read
[ ] impressive
[ ] genius
What I learned from Jennifer’s Body: So towards the end of the movie, the story becomes about Jennifer seducing Needy’s boyfriend, Chip, who she obviously wants to kill. Needy starts to sense this, of course, and must delicately persuade Chip to avoid Jennifer, all the while not being able to tell him that she’s a flesh eating satan-beast. It works but not nearly as well as it could have. Why? Because Needy didn’t love Chip. She *says* she does late in the script. But everything Cody’s shown us up to that point suggests that Chip is a big teenage sex-hungry oaf and played him for laughs. But those laughs came at the expense of us really caring about the final outcome. If we knew that Chip and Needy were desperately in love Romeo and Juliet style, do you know how powerful that final act could’ve been? How terrified we would be of Jennifer stealing away and killing Needy’s soul mate? That would’ve made for great drama. As of now, it still works, but just barely. We don’t really care if Chip is killed. Are a few laughs during the screenplay worth that? That’s up to you to decide.
It happened. I don’t know how it happened but it happened. Everybody brace yourselves. There’s no easy way to say this…………………
I joined Twitter.
I have been avoiding this for about four years now. I am a techy guy. I love technology. I once took apart my entire laptop and put it back together without instructions. I was one of the first people to say “You gotta check out this new video on Youtube.” I joined Myspace, left Myspace, joined Facebook, enjoyed Facebook. But this Twitter thing. I didn’t get it. It’s like a mini version of Facebook. My friend said it best: “What’s next, micro-Twitter? Where they only allow you to use one word?” It’s funny but is it really that far away?
Alas, everybody loves Twitter and I’m not going to be left behind. In a week I’ll probably love it. I probably won’t be able to do anything but tweet. Right now though? All I can think is “Someone’s going to buy this program for 500 million dollars” ??? Baffling.
For you Twitterers, you can follow Scriptshadow updates here: @Scriptshadow. I think that’s how you say it, right? Somebody help.
Tomorrow (Thursday) I’ll be reviewing Diablo Cody’s second script, Jennifer’s Body, so all you Diablo lovers/haters get here early and throw down some comment gauntelets as I expect Fox Atomic to cause a stink and possibly force the review off the internets. I will try and stand strong though because there’s nothing I love more than a little Diablo discussion.