Things get insane today. I mean like writers of Deadpool write about ninjas, cowboys, and vikings, with Quentin Tarantino making a cameo insane.
Genre: (cannot be classified)
Premise: A crazy man with three personalities, a cowboy, a ninja, and a viking, must defeat his evil billionaire boss before he destroys the world.
About: Uh, did someone say a Chris Pratt project written by the hottest screenwriting team in the universe? Do Mondays get any better? — Actually, a little more information on this. This is an early draft of the project written by Deadpool super-scribes Reese and Wernick. However, it looks like there have been new scribes hired since this draft to update the project. So take this for what it is – an early draft of a cool project that is trying to get cooler.
Writer: Rhett Reese & Paul Wernick (based on the Image comic book, Cowboy Ninja Viking, by A.J. Lieberman and Riley Rossmo).
Details: 119 pages – December 31st, 2011 draft
I chose today’s script because our big summer choice this weekend was Star Trek 3. Star Trek 3, the most bland sci-fi movie Hollywood could’ve possibly conceived of. And it did okay. But that’s only because “okay” has been redefined after every movie this summer has bombed.
When I saw “Cowboy Ninja Viking” I thought: “FINALLY!” This is the movie we need. Something with some god damned originality, Alice! Audiences are ACHING for a movie like this. It’s primed to be the next Deadpool.
But is it as good as Deadpool?
Hmmmm…. only a Scriptshadow review can answer that.
Duncan Trevello is crazy with a capital “K.” Wherever he goes, for as long as he’s been going, he’s had with him Cowboy, Ninja, and Viking, his alter ego multiple identities, all three of whom, of course, will be played by the same actor who plays Duncan (notable for major screenwriting lesson later on).
Duncan has been holed up in a nuthouse for eight years but escapes when he finds out his nemesis, Ammo, is coming after him. Duncan flees to Vegas where he gets on a black jack winning streak that would make Ben Affleck jealous (by following the crazy advice of his alternate personalties – like hitting on 19).
The pit boss is convinced that Duncan is cheating since no sane person would be making the choices that he’s making, so he pulls him into his office and beats him up. That’s when Duncan unleashes his secret, that he can take on the fighting skills of his three alternate personalities. So he beats the living hell out of the pit boss as well as a half dozen casino guards, and starts spending his money like mad all over town.
But Ammo finally catches up to him and takes him back to their master, billionaire Richard Blaq. We learn that Blaq plucked Duncan, as well as every multiple-personality orphan he could find, from his orphanage, and used his split personalities to create the ultimate fighting machine.
Duncan is able to escape once more, but when he learns that Blaq has created the most powerful computer chip in the world, he knows he must stop him. Because if Blaq has created something that powerful, he knows that he plans to use it for something awful.
Let’s get down to business, scribes. Why didn’t you think of this idea!!!??? This is the ultimate spec script idea. It gives a major actor FOUR DIFFERENT UNIQUE FUN ROLES TO PLAY. We talk about this all the time. Create multiple roles for a single actor to play and it’s fucking acting catnip! This was GUARANTEED to nab one of the biggest actors in the world. Not to mention PDA. Write a script that will either draw a producer, director, or major actor. This gets you your actor.
Better than that, it’s a best of both worlds project. Not only will this make money, but it gets you STREET CRED since it’s so weird. It’s the exact same thing that made Deadpool the envy of every studio in town. You get the money, the critics, the audience, and the opposite looks on Rodeo Drive than you get when you’re the producer of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.
Unfortunately, once you start comparing Cowboy Ninja Viking to Deadpool, the katana starts cracking at the seams.
Maybe Wernick and Reese fixed these problems in later drafts, but in this one, they’re pretty glaring. See, here’s the thing with this script and with these nutball hero scripts in general. You have two options. You can have the story mirror the main character and just be balls-to-the-wall crazy. Or you can keep the story clear and concise, which allows your main character to be the lone balls-to-the-wall element in the movie.
I prefer option 2. If everything is unhinged, there’s nothing to ground the story, and we’re never going to know where we stand. That’s exactly what happened here. A clear plot didn’t emerge until super late and up until that point, I had little idea where we were or why.
That’s a big question writers need to be constantly asking themselves:
WHERE ARE WE AND WHY?
If you don’t know where your character is in the story and why, chances are the reader doesn’t either.
At one point, Duncan’s back with Blaq and the two are just sort of hanging out, not really happy with one another but not really upset either. And I’m thinking, “Wait, why is Duncan just hanging out? What’s he doing? Why isn’t he attacking this man that he hates?” It was like the story stopped functioning for awhile.
Another issue I had here was how much of the story was driven by Blaq. Black was the one making everything happen. He was trying to capture Duncan. He was trying to put together this army of people with multiple personalties (but why???). He was making some super computer chip that was more powerful than anything.
Everything was so centered on Blaq, no time was left over for Duncan!!! And he’s our hero! And he’s probably one of the most interesting characters ever created for a big film. And he’s just sitting on the sidelines, watching Blaq do all this bizarre shit.
The best part of this movie is the first act, because that’s the only time that Duncan is active. It’s the only time he’s making his own decisions, driving his own storyline. This is a lesson for everyone. If your script goes on for too long where your hero isn’t driving the story, we’re going to get bored. We didn’t come to see your hero play second fiddle. We want him on first chair.
If I were these guys, I would’ve kept this whole thing in Vegas. It’s the perfect town for a character this weird. And the great thing about this idea is that it doesn’t need a giant plot. We don’t need to be whisked all over the world like in a James Bond film. Your main character is the entertainment. Save a ton of money, improve the chances of this getting made, and just set the whole shebang in Vegas and shoot if for 40 million. Everyone will go see this. It’s the movie that Hollywood needs right now.
A mess of a plot that needs fixing but this character is so fun, I say this is worth reading.
[ ] What the hell did I just read?
[ ] wasn’t for me
[x] worth the read
[ ] impressive
[ ] genius
What I learned: The messier your main character, the cleaner the plot needs to be. If we’re trying to wrangle in fifteen layers of hero, we can’t be confused about what the hell is going on. Make it simple! This is actually what the original Deadpool did. Sure, it jumped around in time. But it was a crystal clear revenge film. We always knew what Deadpool was after.