Monday, December 29, 2008

Back in Black

Spent the last week playing catch up on mostly old movies:

“El Orfanato” - spooky happenings at a former orphanage. Engaging story. A few suspenseful scenes, but you can almost see Producer Guillermo Del Toro’s fingerprints all over the ending -- or is it the other way around? If you’ve seen “Pan’s Labyrinth”, you’ll know what I mean.

“Fear(s) of the Dark” - freaky animated anthology -- in french. Meh...

“Forbidden Kingdom” - tone is all over the place. Can’t decide if it wants to be a kid’s movie or not. Gets the fantasy aspect right, but the fights are kinda dull -- hard to believe when Jackie Chan and Jet Li are your stars. Good concept, only average execution. The sequences set in the real world were especially awful.

“Hatchet” - a throwback to 80s horror. Better than average dialogue for a slasher flick, a cast of veteran character actors doesn’t hurt either -- although Mercedes McNabb is kinda wasted here, somebody give her a sitcom! Clings too much to the 80s formula: Unstoppable killer dispatches stranded victims in the most gruesome of manners. I kept expecting an interesting twist to a well-worn concept, but it never came. Shame.

“Rocket Science” - one of the best films of 2007. Released in only a handful of theaters, it’s a coming-of-age dramedy about a teen with a stuttering problem who gets recruited by a Tracy Flick type to join the debate team. Exploits a lot of the cliches that we’ve come to expect in this genre. Not everyone’s cup of tea, but if you like quirky comedies, give it a chance.

“Stardust” - “The Princess Bride” comparisons are accurate -- they couldn’t sell that one either. Too light and fluffy for grown-ups, no draws for the younger crowd -- although Michelle Pfeiffer is a hoot! Entertaining story, but a hard concept to sell. I usually rally against special effects overkill, but this film could’ve used some CGI-poppers. And it doesn’t have as many memorable lines and scenes as “Bride”. Gotta dig up that early draft I have on the hard drive...

Monday, December 22, 2008

Story Starters

Blood sucker implicated in father's murder.

Burglar: Ghost held me captive for 3 days.

'Evil water' linked to mysterious drownings.

Ghosts, aliens and us.

Hairy sea monster cast ashore.

Human-sized heart left at car wash.

Crow remake

It’s good to see Stephen Norrington working again, but this seems like a reach -- a gritty, documentary style version? The franchise is in shambles and I can’t imagine fans of the original will be pleased. Of course, folks said the same thing about Batman...

Monday, December 15, 2008

Heroes: Duality

I'm officially done. "Heroes" is dead to me.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

The Unborn

Hot poster and all, but the primary audience for these flicks are female teens and it hardly looks scary. Might be a turn off.


Everyone involved must have thought “Jumper” was going to be a can’t miss franchise, how else do you explain the underdeveloped story and characters? Jumpers are bad. Palladins are good. We’re in the middle of a war. Who? Huh? What!? There’s a much larger story here, but the film decides to focus on an uninteresting and selfish protagonist -- maybe the good stuff was teleported into the sequel that we’ll never see...
Hayden Christensen’s character is more realistic than the typical comic-book hero, he uses his newfound teleportation ability to rob banks instead of “doing good”, but I dare you to care about anyone in the story. I expected a lot more from Doug Liman and David Goyer.

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Lost Boys: The Tribe

A sequel for a film made over twenty years ago... it certainly isn’t the vampire biker chick idea that Joel Schumacher was supposedly keen on a few years back -- with Britney Spears being the head vamp. Now that could have been “Showgirls” good...

I could have sworn the original was this huge box office smash, but it only made 32 million back in 1987. Probably got bigger on video. Anyway, LB: TT is a decent vampire flick that doesn’t have any lofty goals. Kiefer Sutherland is busy saving the world as Jack Bauer, so they got his brother Angus to play the baddie. He’s fine, along with the rest of the cast. Ironically, the guy with the most experience was the weakest link here. It seemed like the cast was in one movie and Corey Feldman was in another -- if you stick around after/during the credits, Corey Haim makes a “surprise” appearance.

There’s not a lot to say about the story. It’s basically a low budget rehash of the original, except the siblings are brother and sister. I’m not sure why the vamps are surfers or if it matters -- probably not.

Saturday, December 06, 2008

The Incredible Hulk

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A much better effort than Ang Lee’s version. Edward Norton makes a great Banner -- although I gotta say, Liv Tyler < Jennifer Connelly. I especially liked all the shout-outs to the TV series: the Gamma radiation machine, Lou Ferrigno cameo, Jack Magee, etc. It’s a fun romp -- mostly.

One of the biggest challenges of a superhero flick is to make the protagonist's civilian life seem interesting. Banner (and Betty) on the run from the military works as a Bourne-styled thriller. I also dug the way the film didn’t go for the money shot right away, instead they hid the Hulk in the shadows at the soda plant in Brasil -- very much like a horror movie. The transformation scenes could have been handled a little better -- hastily put together and I don’t recall seeing the Hulk change back to Banner.

Ultimately, things falls apart when the third act turns into a lame CGI smackdown. Look Hollywood, nobody above the age 12 cares about two computer generated behemoths trading blows. Nothing is at stake -- except for the city of New York, yet again. At least “Transformers” was smart enough to give the puny humans something to do. Here, everybody stands around and watches. I have a copy of the script on the hard drive, will have to do a little compare and contrast...

One more thing, the scene where the Hulk kicks Tim Roth in the chest didn’t ring true to me. The Hulk is this rampaging monster, but Bruce Banner still exists somewhere inside him and he’d never allow that.

Tuesday, December 02, 2008


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The DVD release reminded me that I had neglected to post my thoughts on this... meh. Okay, I can do better than that. I’m a big fan of Russian director Timur Bekmambetov -- now that’s a mouthful -- “Day Watch” and “Night Watch” were fun supernatural/action flicks bursting with energy. “Wanted” seemed like a great opportunity to showcase his unique vision for mainstream American audiences... didn’t turn out that way. Sure, there are tons of cool set pieces, big stunts and lots of stylized action, but it just sits there like a lump of coal.

It’s hard to ignore the obvious “Matrix” parallels: wimpy hero stuck at a crappy job, beautiful woman comes along, takes him through the looking glass to a secret place with other special people, where a wise black man explains his true path. “The Matrix” doesn’t have a monopoly on this particular storyline, but it’s still fresh in a lot of minds. The script is a good read -- alas, some of my favorite scenes didn’t make the cut. I did like the mystical bit about the loom, and Fox is a far more honorable character in the film than in the draft that I read. It’s a solid action film, but even with Jolie and all her bells and whistles, nothing special. Look, I know it’s a film about assassins, not about folks who work at a teddy bear factory. If you’re looking for a violent popcorn flick, “Wanted” fits the bill -- made a ton of scratch and somehow they’re gonna do a sequel or prequel -- it’s just not the best popcorn flick it could be.

Would’ve been interesting to see the actors who inspired the graphic novel, Halle Berry and Eminem, in the lead roles.

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Benjamin Button

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The trailer looks interesting and all, but a 150+ million dollar budget?!? That's an awful big gamble.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Saving Story

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Maybe Shyamalan was on to something... or not. Interesting article in last week’s New York Times about the sad state of storytelling. There is an unfortunate trend of big special effects strong-arming story into a corner, but I don’t believe we need an updated “Hero’s Journey" for today’s ADD audiences.

Screenwriting is more art than science -- which is why everyone thinks they can do it. Maybe if writers were given more respect, there would be better stories. Of course, better stories don’t always translate into box office success... is Hollywood willing to take that risk?

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Underworld Prequel

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I’m guessing there’ll be other posters, this one is kinda... meh. Still, with the phenomenal success of “Twilight” over the weekend -- 70.5 million, expect to see more vampire flicks. I’m not a big believer in chasing trends, it’s fool’s gold. What’s hot now, might not be so hot 6-8 months from now.

Thursday, November 20, 2008


Might come as a shock to some, but “Supernatural” has been the best genre show of the fall. Better than “Heroes” or “Sarah Connor Chronicles”, probably cheaper too. It flies completely under the radar on the CW -- which only seems to have eyes for “Gossip Girl”. Great episode tonight. They’ve ventured into areas that even “Buffy” was reluctant to explore with the whole angels vs. demons stuff. It’s like a beefed up “Frailty” meets "Prophecy". The show is still about good battling evil, but there’s a murkiness to it all that really works. Will definitely get this season on DVD.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Worst Enemy Axed!

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Can’t say I’m surprised about this one -- kinda shocked the low rated “Sarah Connor Chronicles” and “Knight Rider” were picked up for the rest of the season. “My Own Worst Enemy” was a good idea on paper, just didn’t pan out in the execution. Is this a harbinger of things to come for Joss Whedon's "Dollhouse"?

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Beyonce as Wonder Woman?

She’s lobbying for the role... I think the closest she’ll get is the theme song. Fanboys still haven’t gotten over Halle Berry as “Catwoman” and this would generate an even bigger outcry. If Beyonce’s serious about playing a superhero, go with Vixen. She’s a lower tier black superhero/model with cool powers -- seems tailor made for her. Actually, Vanity’s role in the “Last Dragon” remake would be more appropriate. My fantasy pick is still Eva Mendes, but casting is irrelevant. A “Wonder Woman” movie seems destined to fail. Joss Whedon couldn’t pull it off. The WW spec set in “World War II” was good enough to buy, but not good enough to make. Now there are rumblings about McG at the helm. No one has figured out the big screen formula for comic book heroines.

It is curious how the Sci-Fi and Horror genres have succeeded where others have failed. One of the arguments I hear is that strong women are a turn-off, but horror flicks have tons of strong female protags. Of course, you could make the argument that many female protagonists start off as victims and really don’t become empowered until the third act. In superhero flicks, the protagonist is kicking butt after the first fifteen minutes...

Monday, November 10, 2008

The Invasion

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Dear Nicole Kidman and Daniel Craig,

You’re both talented and accomplished actors, but please stop making movies together. You're like some bizarro Wonder Twins couple, canceling each other out. I gave you a pass after the average “Golden Compass”, but this stinker is just plain indefensible. “The Invasion” makes Lindsay Lohan’s “I Know Who Killed Me” look like “Silence of the Lambs”. You've moved on to bigger and better projects, but if you ever get the inkling to hook up on screen again... don't!

Your pal,

Okay, so I’m being a bit facetious, but it’s still an awful movie. How do you screw up a concept that’s been done a million times over? Maybe that’s the problem. A Hail Mary pass to be bold and daring, instead turns into a flat, uninteresting film. And don’t get me started on that ending. I honestly expected the “real” ending to pop up after the closing credits.

Wednesday, November 05, 2008


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Sometimes the best stories are also the most unlikely.

Sunday, November 02, 2008

Legend of the Seeker

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It’s been a long time since “Xena” and “Hercules” ruled the syndicated airwaves. This new fantasy series “seeks” to regain the crown. The production values were pretty decent, cast likeable and New Zealand always makes a great fantasy locale. Action wasn’t that bad, but the slow-mo stuff might start to grate after a while. I thought the dialogue was weakest aspect -- that and the main villain, all he lacked was a long mustache to twirl.

As far as the plot goes, there’s a reason why folks keep going back to the same well, bringing up Arthurian elements: it works! Some ideas just resonate with the masses -- it’s important to keep that in mind. Dunno if “Legend on the Seeker” will last, but its heart seems to be in the right place.

Saturday, November 01, 2008

The Reaping

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Totally forgot I had this. Kind of a throwback to those bad seed, evil children flicks that were popular in the 70s and 80s -- but with much better special effects and a big twisty ending. Like “True Blood”, it doesn’t do the South any favors.

“The Reaping” isn’t a bad film, but there’s a TV-movie quality that it can’t seem to shake. I just don’t think the stakes are high enough. Will Hilary Swank kill the evil child and save the townsfolk from those nasty plagues? And it’s not quite the horror movie that the trailer suggests either. A couple of creepy scenes, but you’ll have to look long and hard for scares. With all that said, I’m surprised the film didn’t fare better at the box office, only 25 million. There’s a very specific audience for this, but the marketing department folks didn’t get enough of ‘em.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Let the Right One In

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When this was on my “On Demand”, the artsy trailer and premise of this Swedish film didn’t exactly grab me -- a bullied boy’s relationship with a girl who turns out to be a vampire -- but a couple of genre sites have given it favorable reviews; to hear them tell it, “Let the Right One In” is far superior to the overhyped “Twilight”. I’ll have to check it out at some point...

Friday, October 24, 2008

Rise of the Lycans

I think I'm starting to suffer from "Underworld" fatigue, because the new trailer isn't doing a whole lot for me. Still, from spec script to full blown trilogy is quite the accomplishment.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Heroes: Dying of the Light

All in all, tonight's episode wasn't that bad. Robert Forster makes a great heavy. Nice touches of comedy with Hiro and Ando in Africa. We even got a decent fight scene between Peter and Sylar. After a rought start, it feels like things are slowly coming together. BTW, Claire Bennet's superhero name should be: The Possum!

Sunday, October 19, 2008

New V series?

Old news by now, but the thought of a new “V” series brings back a lot of memories --mostly of the hot alien leader, Diana. After “Invasion” and “Threshold” flopped, I’m not exactly sure how they can pull this off. The revamped “Battlestar Galactica” is a “hit” for the Sci-Fi Channel, but it would get killed on one of the big three networks. There’d probably be a major attempt to make things more “realistic”, but cheese was a major part of the show’s charm. Who could forget the hybrid birth? Twins!

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Life On Mars

Never saw the U.K. version, so I didn’t know what to expect, but this turned out to be a pleasant surprise. I have to say, the marketing was a bit off. The commercials were all about the 70s and bad fashion, instead of focusing on the characters and their relationships -- which is really odd since the show follows “Grey’s Anatomy”. In my mind, a man trying to save his girlfriend from a killer, should be the heart of the story -- the stuck-in-the-70s stuff is just window dressing. I think audiences/viewers like to be asked questions. What if you had an affair with the wrong person? What if someone kidnapped your child/spouse? What if you only had days to live?

‘What if some major disaster separated you from your family?’, probably gets more traction than, ‘What if a giant, radioactive dinosaur woke up and started devouring the city?’ If you can put the audience in the shoes of your protagonist, especially with genre stuff, that’s half the battle.

Thursday, October 09, 2008

Deaths of Ian Stone

Caught this on the Sci-Fi Channel over the weekend. Kind of hard to describe... I guess you could call it a low budget “Dark City” meets “Deja Vu”. Ian Stone is stalked and eventually killed by strange creatures that only he can see, only to wake up in a slightly different reality -- but always with the same hot blonde -- over and over. Better than I expected. Cool creature designs from Stan Winston. Things fall apart in the third act when people don latex and place other people in torture devices -- unless that’s your sort of thing...

There’s an interview with screenwriter Brendan Hood here. It’s mostly him lamenting the changes that were made and how he was shut out of the process, but it’s interesting nonetheless. Some stuff I agree with, others I don’t. I think the love story angle made the story seem less generic. Sure, it’s kind of corny, but sometimes corny works.

Tuesday, October 07, 2008

Fringe Pick Up

No “Fringe” tonight, but Fox picked it up for the rest of the season. Highest-rated new show among 18-49 year olds -- not overall viewers because that distinction would belong to “The Mentalist”, which is handily kicking Fringe’s butt. Meanwhile, “Sarah Connor Chronicles”, “Heroes” and one of my faves, “Life”, can’t seem to stop the bleeding...

Saturday, October 04, 2008


I dig Amanda Tapping as a brunette with a British accent -- kinda schoolmarm sexy -- but I’m not entirely sold on this. The story could have been stronger. The subplot with the mutant boy was a little weak. Some of the twists/reveals were completely telegraphed -- John killing the prostitute, the identity of Ashley’s father, etc. And what was up with Dr. Zimmerman swagger jacking Daniel Jackson? It was like they cut and pasted his character from an old “Stargate” episode. The green screen stuff was okay. Didn’t get in the way. All in all, the whole thing felt *really* familiar, borrowing here and there from sci-fi shows past. Not great, but light-years ahead of stuff like “Flash Gordon” and “Painkiller Jane”.

Thursday, October 02, 2008

Angel Heart remake?

According to Variety, there’s an “Angel Heart” remake in the works... Hmmm. Back in ‘87, there was a ton of controversy surrounding the film because of the graphic sex scene with Mickey Rourke and Lisa Bonet -- who was doing her damndest to shed her sitcom good girl image. Strange picture. A little ahead of its time with the twisty ending and some creepy performances, but my overall opinion soured over the years. What seemed dark and daring to me as an adolescent, now looks cheap and exploitative. Damn you, maturity! I suppose they’ll trot out Beyonce or someone like that to play Epiphany in a PG-13 version. In fact, it’d probably be more fun to see who they’d cast in the major roles than sitting through the film again.

Monday, September 29, 2008


From a distance, Penelope Cruz’s “Volver” appears to be a foreign chick flick -- lots of female bonding and few (mostly evil) male characters -- but director Pedro Almodovar skillfully tip-toes through various genres along the way. Part black comedy, a bit of a ghost story and not quite all of the above. Can’t think of a recent American film that went a similar route.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Heroes: Season 3 Premiere

Gotta give props to “Heroes” for the William “Greatest American Hero” Katt cameo -- one of the night’s few bright spots. The writers are in an almost impossible situation. How do you please fickle fans and keep the network happy at the same time? Don’t think you can. The premiere drew 9.9 million viewers, down 25% from last season, clobbered by “Dancing With The Stars” and CBS sitcoms.

They need to kill off some characters, the cast is just too bloated. And stupidity shouldn’t drive the stories. Early on, didn’t Kring say that each season was supposed to involve a different cast of characters? Can’t imagine NBC would go along with that one. Say what you will about “Lost”, but they’re not afraid kill their babies.

Almost forget to mention the season premiere of “Supernatural” last week. Gets better every season.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Script Alert: Fringe has the teleplay for the "Fringe" pilot. Check it out here.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Max Payne

Just finished reading the script. Yet another video game adaptation -- that I’m not familiar with. The trailer gives off a strong “Constantine” vibe, to the point where folks are confounded by what appears to be a supernatural element that isn’t present in the game. The plot is pretty basic: burnt-out cop investigating the murder of his family, becomes the prime suspect in a series of bizarre killings.

I was scratching my head for the first 25-30 pages. Almost gave up on it, but things start to make sense after a while. Good action. Kind of a throwback to those one-man-army action flicks from the 80s -- with some trippy visuals for today’s cgi hungry audiences. The third act is especially ambitious. Really curious to see how it comes off -- we’re talking PG-13 here. Will gamers accept some of the “interpretations” and the tame rating?

Sight unseen, I think they got the wrong Mila for this. Milla Jovovich would make a far more convincing Russian Mob Princess than Mila Kunis. I don’t know about Ludacris either. Still, nobody’s gonna confuse “Max Payne” with “King Lear”. Not a lot of deep thoughts here, but the visual eye candy promises to make up for all that.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Fringe: Same Old Story

The season premiere of “House” will definitely boost the ratings, but I don’t think this was an improvement over the pilot. The short-lived “Nightstalker” series with Gabrielle Union and Stuart Townsend did an episode about a serial killer who paralyzed her victims before feeding on their pituitary glands. It’s been done many times over. I don’t mind the recycled plot, just give me better execution. The pregnancy was a nice misdirection, but not enough moments like that.

UPDATE: Over 13 million viewers last night. Not bad.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Fringe Ratings

9 million viewers for the premiere. Fox has to be extremely disappointed with those numbers. They poured an enormous amount of money into the marketing campaign, but most folks weren’t interested. It just goes to show, you can put lipstick on a pig... er, never mind.

Here are series premiere numbers for some recent genre shows:

Heroes - 14.3 million
Bionic Woman - 13.9 million
Surface - 11.2 million
Journeyman - 9.5 million
Moonlight - 8.6 million
Threshold - 8.42 million

Things just got a little harder for anyone trying to get their sci-fi show on television. Remember that urge I had to write a pilot? It’s gone now. So what went wrong here? I still stand behind my theory that Sci-Fi/Fantasy has a limited appeal. Go too hard and you run the risk of scaring folks off. Fox has invested too much money in the series to give up on it, so it’ll be around for a while...

Tuesday, September 09, 2008


Probably one of the weaker J.J. Abrams’ pilots. “Fringe” just doesn’t seem as fresh if you’ve seen “Alias” and “Lost” -- not to mention the ginormous elephant in the room, “The X-Files”. Giant conspiracy? Check. Mysterious Company/Group? Unexplained Phenomena? Beautiful Government Agent in the middle of it all? Spooky orchestral music? Check. Check. Check. Are we going to discover that she has Daddy issues as well?

I thought the cast had good chemistry. Some funny exchanges. Obviously the show isn’t taking itself too seriously, witness the cow in the lab.

Not saying it was awful or anything, just okay. And to be fair, “The X-Files” pilot wasn’t exactly a grand slam. I’m gonna take a wait and see approach...

BTW, the season premiere of “Sarah Connor Chronicles” kicked all kinds of butt. Looking forward to the new season.

Samurai Girl

I’m officially an old guy. How else can I explain my adverse reaction to “Samurai Girl” over the weekend? I’m guessing it’s one of those situations where bad means good and dumb is even better. All the bad dialogue and dumb story? That was actually *good* -- to anyone under seventeen. Kids...

Didn’t make it past the first two hours. Liked ABC Family’s “Fallen” mini-series, but this did not work for an old fart like me. Think I’ll go outside and start yelling at some kids to get off my lawn. BTW, I don’t have a lawn...

I am so tempted to take a stab at writing another pilot, but I’ll just grit my teeth until the feeling passes.

Monday, September 08, 2008

True Blood

Wasn’t the complete train wreck that I was expecting, but nobody is going confuse this with “Six Feet Under” or “Buffy” any time soon. The accents were more than a little grating and the tone was all over the place. And how about throwing in a couple of ignorant Yankees to spread the offensive stereotypes around? I suspect the show might have been a little too over the top for a lot of viewers. Still, I’m curious enough to see where things go...

Thursday, September 04, 2008


Read the script over the weekend. I’m sure the target audience will be more than satisfied, but it’s a bit bland for us non-Twilighters.

I was expecting something with a lot more bite. There’s a heavy chunk of script that involves Bella and Edward just feeling each other out. Does he hate her? Maybe she should hate him back? He smiled at me! What does that mean? Does my hair smell? Standard teen stuff.

“Twilight” isn’t trying to be “Romeo and Juliet” -- or Buffy and Angel for that matter. There’s not a lot of plot and cheesy dialogue runs rampant. The story works because of Bella. She’s at an awkward age and her vulnerability comes through. The idea of a magical protector coming to her rescue and also desiring her, is the sort of wish fulfillment that probably appeals to most fans of the books.

I know “Moonlight” got the axe last season, but I think there’s a big audience for a teen vampire show. “TruBlood” looks too weird to fit the bill.

Friday, August 29, 2008

Babylon A.D.

Might as well be in a foreign language because the trailer is downright incomprehensible. I have no clue what this film is about -- Well I do, but that was after extensive googling. Was the movie trailer guy with the deep voice unavailable to say, “In a world where...”? Some serious exposition was needed.

Vin Diesel, part robot, has to protect some girl who can stop bullets with her mind, Michelle Yeoh does some kung-fu and Charlotte Rampling says something profound.... right? I can’t even get a handle on the cast. Seems thrown together. And who in their right mind is making “Blade Runner” comparisons?

Not too long ago, the director went public about his nasty squabble with Fox. Looks like a project that everyone just wants to go away. Really getting very little promotion and the late August release date is clearly a dump. A 60 million dollar dump.

I kinda wish it would do well enough to generate interest in another Riddick flick -- yes, deeply flawed, but pretty to watch. What happens to the new ruler of the Necromongers? Guess we’ll never know...

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

The Dark Knight

Just finished reading the screenplay off simplyscripts. Almost wish I hadn’t seen the movie first -- it’s always fun to see if the image in your head matches up with the finished product. The script definitely delivers. I’ve said it before, I like approaching a story with the idea that every character believes they’re the hero. The script/film is full of these “spotlight moments”: Alfred’s speech about the bandit, Rachel standing up to the Joker, Lucious dealing with the blackmailer, etc. Good stuff. Check it out if you haven't already.

This is easily the best comic book film ever. “The Dark Knight” has raised the bar so high, I’m not sure where the next crop of comic book films can go. Good luck with that darker "Wonder Woman" and “Superman” reboot. And if Chris Nolan wants Cher as Catwoman or even Gary Coleman as the Penguin, get out the way and let the man do whatever he wants!

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Southland Tales


Nothing else to say about this one...

Friday, August 22, 2008

Fruit Loops

Almost forgot to mention how much I hated Tuesday’s “Eureka”. Someone needs to place an embargo on time loop stories. The concept was cool in the 90’s with “Groundhog’s Day” -- we even got the big screen treatment again with “Deja Vu”, but it’s been beaten to death by every sci-fi/fantasy show ever since. Enough already!

And what a terrible way to resolve the Allison, Carter and Stark love triangle. Seemed really lazy to me. I’ll be shocked if that character doesn’t pop up again at some inopportune time.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Boogeyman 2

Caught this on Sci-Fi over the weekend. Surprised it wasn’t edited more for basic cable ‘cause they sure got away with a few gruesome scenes -- the cardioectomy instantly comes to mind. This sequel doesn’t have much in common with its predecessor. No supernatural monster, just a slasher flick set in a mental hospital. There is a slight attempt to connect the two films, but it doesn’t mean very much. Avoid the glaring red herring and you should be able to figure out the killer pretty quickly.

I really haven’t devoted as much time as I should to work on minimal location scripts. A good angle for a story always seems to elude me...

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Characters Welcome

The USA Network has really taken that slogan to heart. And they’re not just talking quirky either. The season finale of “In Plain Sight” was pretty entertaining and a little uncomfortable to watch at times. Mary’s family truly puts the “D” in dysfunction.

It never hurts to give your protagonist some issues, but wow... the free-loading kid sister with a suitcase full of meth and eyes for Mary's two-timing boyfriend, her slutty/lush mom and I can’t forget Mary’s estranged, bank-robbing Dad who’s been writing to her for twenty years -- unbeknownst to Mom and Baby Sis...

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Silent Running

Been quiet most of the week because I was trying to finish up a screenplay for the Screamfest Screenplay Competition. Didn’t quite make the deadline. I haven’t said much about my scripts in a while, but I’ve been still plugging away. The Slamdance Horror contest is still out there, so I've got another shot at something.

Thursday, August 07, 2008

Dragon Wars

This was huge in South Korea, but didn’t go over that well with American audiences. Can’t say how much was culture clash or really bad storytelling. Hate to bring in marketing lingo but it applies here: Know Thy Audience. “D-War” seemed like a better fit for kids. A teen/tween hero on a quest -- ala “Transformers” -- probably would have gone over better than two starcrossed, twenty somethings mired in melodrama.

The special effects are pretty good, not mind blowing -- even though three years were spent working on them. The big finale between the two cgi creatures is as boring as you’d expect. Hated it in “Van Helsing” and “Transformers”. No stakes. No tension.

Can’t remember the last time a dragon movie was a hit. “Eragon” was hyped to death and did only so-so business. Still, it must have made some money because there’s a sequel in the works.

Sunday, August 03, 2008

Werewolf Women of the SS

It’s no big secret that “Grindhouse” could have made a decent profit if Tarantino and Rodriguez hadn’t gone overboard with the budget. I mean, why spend 60+ million to make intentionally crappy-looking films that appeal to a niche audience? Maybe Rob Zombie will learn from their mistakes. The comic is great way to build an audience, but an anime would have been way cooler.

Friday, August 01, 2008

Dead Monster Washes Ashore

Dead Monster Washes Ashore In Montauk

If you can't turn this into a script, then just give up already!

UPDATE: I post #storystarters on twitter these days.

Skin and Bones

Finally aired. I’m gonna have to re-read the script to catch any changes. The director did a good job of capturing the creepy atmosphere in the teleplay. The implied gore was handled well. Doug Jones was great. My only quibble would be... the lack of a strong ending.

Thursday, July 31, 2008

Underworld 3: Rise of the Lycans

Rhona Mitra looks pretty badass in her armor, but can “Underworld 3” really deliver the goods? Think about it. They’re taking out a lot of the things that worked in the first two films: the modern setting, hybrids, gunplay, Kate Beckinsale in latex, etc. and replacing them with what looks like a costume drama. Obviously there’s going to be action, but the budget will limit what they can do. I suspect we’ll see the occasional skirmish but no bloodbaths on the battlefield. And we already know how Sonja and Lucian's relationship will turn out. I'm not seeing the audience grabber...

Monday, July 28, 2008

I Wanted To Believe

Sad to see the “X-Files” underperform at the box office with just 10 million over the weekend. Read somewhere that Chris Carter was under the gun to finish the script before the writer’s strike. The trailer looked ho-hum. Kind of hard to believe that he didn’t have a few polished “X-Files” screenplays tucked away for a rainy day. Looks like I won’t be holding my breath for another installment.

A few weeks back, Stephen King made a dire prediction in “Entertainment Weekly” about the film’s fate. His argument was that big studio genre films rarely work as well as the low budget variety. Brought up examples like “The Blair Witch Project”, “Night of the Living Dead” and more recently, “The Strangers”. Now I’m not trying to take a stab at one of my heroes, but what the heck is he talking about?

For every “Texas Chainsaw Massacre” and “Blair Witch”, there are scores of awful low budget flicks that make you wanna tear your eyes out. When so many are being thrown against the wall, obviously a few are gonna stick. I can appreciate the charm and ingenuity of no/low budget films, but how can the master storyteller not bring up the fact that a lot of it comes down to story -- and a good hook?

And it’s not like studios are cranking out a ton of big budget horror flicks in the first place. “I Want To Believe” might have looked big, but it only cost around 30 million to make. Its poor opening weekend had more to do with the lack of a strong concept and lackluster marketing. Even the hardcore fans couldn’t be bothered.

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Anaconda 3

The Most Dangerous Night On Television + The Hoff + Giant Snakes = Pure Entertainment!

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Jennifer's Body

Deja vu anyone?

True Blood

HBO is pulling out all the stops for True Blood. Postcards with Sumerian text sent to horror fans, pseudo news reports with real reporters, vampire social networks, etc. But does all that stuff really work? How about more emphasis on the story, characters and relationships?

Vampires are tailor-made for soapy dramas, but no one has been able to pull it off since “Dark Shadows”. “Kindred: The Embraced” and "Ultraviolet" (UK mini-series) had some potential.

There are some talented people behind this, but it could go either way...

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Tonight He Comes

Simplyscripts has a link to an early draft of Hancock-- I think I understand why screenwriter Vincent Ngo declined an interview with the New York Times before the film was released, the script barely resembles the final product. “Tonight” plays out like a really, really dark episode of “Amazing Stories” -- if it aired on late night cable. And get this: Hancock isn’t even the protagonist.

At the end of the day, it’s hard to criticize the changes because audiences ate it up like gravy on a biscuit. Ngo’s script, as good as it is, speaks to a niche audience and not the four quadrant behemoth. Still, I’d love to see “Tonight He Comes” as a graphic novel.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

New Year's Day

"Fear Itself" finally had the twist ending that we’ve been expecting. Sort of. A lame twist is probably better than no twist at all, but this was a bit of a reach. Nothing like the power of zombie love, huh? Still, a better effort than previous eps.

This episode had a strong “Cloverfield” vibe, right down to the shaky cam in the moments of extreme terror.

BTW, why does Christian Slater's new show, "My Own Worst Enemy", remind me a lot of the BBC's "Jekyll"?

Story Starters

The $10,000-a-month psychic
Cat killed in Missouri was a leopard
Europe's last executed witch to be exonerated
Indian baby "back from the dead"
'Lucky' girl hit by lightning, then wins lottery
Rabbit ripper shocks Germany

Monday, July 14, 2008

Script Alert!

Ain’t It Cool News’ very own Moriarty, aka Drew McWeeny, co-wrote the July 24th episode of “Fear Itself”. He talks about “Skin and Bones” here and links to the actual teleplay -- which will only be online until the 24th. The script is actually a pretty good read, especially when you consider that it was completed in six days -- two of those six days were spent making revisions based on network notes. Cool insight into the process...

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Resident Evil: Extinction

Hard to say how I feel about this film or franchise as a whole. I mean, they’re entertaining on a basic level because they don’t pretend to be anything more than popcorn flicks. No character arcs, twists, reversals -- who needs ‘em? Just watch a Photoshopped Milla look badass as she slices and dices her way through zombies every ten minutes or so. Makes you think this screenwriting thing ain’t half as hard as some of us make it out to be. Outta the way, writer boy! Let the director, stunt people and FX guys show you how to tell a story! I will say this much, the opening and closing scenes are pretty good bookmarks, the problem lies with all that stuff in the middle.

Tuesday, July 08, 2008

Psychic Kids

Forget “The Office” and “How I Met Your Mother”. A&E’s Psychic Kids is the funniest show on television! I predict a whole lot of therapy in these kid’s futures...

Friday, July 04, 2008

Rise: Blood Hunter

One of these days, I’m gonna do an entry about the things I know now, but wish I had known when I started screenwriting -- probably a good idea for a meme. Here’s one of those lessons: Most people aren’t receptive to genre stuff and it’s next to impossible to win them over -- unless it’s a big budget spectacle. Horror/Fantasy/Sci-Fi speaks primarily to a niche audience. “Battlestar Galactica” will never have “Grey’s Anatomy” type ratings. Most folks couldn’t pick Joss Whedon out of a line up. And just because “Iron Man” made over 300 million dollars, it doesn’t mean that comic book shops across the country are now flooded with throngs of new customers. Although tiny, this audience is a huge component when it comes to creating buzz. Genre fans will sift through a lot of crap, in the hopes of finding a gem and let everyone know when they do; but the temptation to take them for granted and “broaden” the appeal of a film often leads to failure.
Vamps without fangs? A change like that alienates the people most likely to see the film. The casual viewer probably doesn’t care one way or the other. To be fair, it worked in “The Hunger” and “Ultraviolet” (the UK mini-series) but the tone of those films were much different. “Rise: Blood Hunter” is basically “Kill Bill” with vampires, minus a whole lot of style, action and substance. Reporter gets too close to a story about a vampire club and gets turned. Reporter vows revenge. See Lucy Liu beat up and interrogate a vamp, hate what she's become, repeat until closing credits --- oh yeah, the guy from “The Shield” shows up and helps her take out the head vamp. That's the movie. Seriously. Maybe there’s some great material in the unrated version, but I won’t be checking it out anytime soon. My point isn’t that we should ignore casual viewers/movie goers but to find a happy medium. Have a good idea of what the core fans like before making changes.

Saturday, June 28, 2008

I Know Who Killed Me

What’s in a name? I don’t spend a lot of time obsessing over titles. I go with whatever strikes my fancy, usually a song. You have to imagine the title alone probably got the screenplay a few extra reads. Sadly, it’s also the only interesting thing about the film -- okay, Lindsay Lohan as a bad girl stripper ain’t half bad. Good girl Aubrey gets kidnapped by a serial killer, wakes up mutilated, now claiming to be a stripper named “Dakota”. Is she crazy? Is she making it all up? Does she have something to hide? Who’s the attacker? Not a bad set up, but everything after? Plot holes big enough for a chorus line of strippers to lap dance their way through, absurd twists and one of the most ridiculous closing scenes ever committed to celluloid. Still, it’s got that cool title...

Thursday, June 19, 2008

The Middleman

Caught Monday’s premiere on ABC Family. I guess you could say it’s a quirkier “Special Unit 2" with a dash of "Men In Black”. Lots of playful banter between the Middleman and his sidekick -- who at times bears an uncanny resemblance to Rosario Dawson -- as they battle the forces of evil. I’ve never read the “The Middleman” comic book, but the show certainly does capture the feel of that medium. Honestly, I’m more than a little surprised that a quirky, sci-fi comedy was able to get past the gate keepers. I would’ve expected all the fun to get sucked out by the machine and replaced with something “edgier”. BTW, “The Middleman” was created by “Lost” alumni Javier "Javi" Grillo-Marxuach and he happens to have a livejournal here.

Friday, June 13, 2008


(That’ll make more sense in a few days)

Watched last night’s “Fear Itself” with Eric Roberts...meh. Could have been a very good story about redemption, but a settled for so-so one about revenge... the ending felt a bit tacked on. Seriously thought about that Fox sitcom contest for a few days -- even came up with something non-paranormal -- but the last thing I needed was yet another diversion. I’ll save the idea for a future screenplay.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008


Even though I spent a significant amount of my weekend watching Prince videos and procrastinating, I did get my head out the Paisley Park haze long enough to check out the BBC’s “Jekyll” on DVD. It’s an updated version of the classic tale and features some brilliant writing by Steven Moffat -- who also deserves props for his work on "Dr. Who". “Jekyll” manages to be dark, scary and funny, all at the same time. Haven’t taken a good look at the DVD extras but there seems to be a decent amount. I’m sure it won’t be long before some network swoops down and tries to “adapt” it for American audiences.

Saturday, June 07, 2008

Fear Itself

What happened to the great sc-fi/horror anthology shows like “The Twilight Zone” and “Outer Limits”? Even “Tales from the Darkside” and “Tales from the Crypt” had their moments. This was pretty dull and predictable. They took what was a half-hour story -- at best -- and tried stretching it into an hour.

His name is Prince...

and he is 50!


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