The Ray Gun is a solid screenplay. The story in it of itself is very good with a grounded approach to sci-if that works really well. As far as protagonists go, Milton is a very good one. He has a motive for using the weapon, he wants to help his sisters. He develops over the course of the movie becoming less timid and more headstrong, going straight after his problems. Finally, we can really see the negative effects of the ray gun in Milton as he compromises on some of his values and becomes more aggressive and violent. The two other characters that are really well done are the government agents Knox and Duncan. Knox is a spiteful independent contractor for the government who is angry that he has lost his steady income and pension. Knox is tough and, at times borderline psychopathic, but he never feels like a cliche and feels human through his relationship with Duncan, who feels like a new year try to learn everything he can from a veteran. Knox’s dialogue is the best part of the screenplay because every time he talks about the dangers of the ray gun, or his unfamiliarity with technology he could become a caricature or cliche, but the dialogue remains engaging and realistic. However, some characters do feel like cliches, mainly Angie’s boyfriend Steve and the mob boss known only as the Big Boss. Steve is the dumb, enabling boyfriend that the brother doesn’t approve of. He is a dunce and his hatred for Milton goes zero-to-hundred in his most important scene. Steve doesn’t really serve much of a purpose aside from giving us a reason to sympathize with Angie and is just a two-dimensional bully, although he has a couple funny moments. By far the worst character is the Big Boss. He’s a stereotypical mob boss and speaks as such. Everything he says has been said before in Godfather knock-offs. You can even see how hollow he is by him not even having a real name. The Big Boss is an unnecessary side villain, whereas making Hector last a little linger would’ve sufficed and given more time to make Knox a true villain, and having more of the best character couldn’t hurt. There is a scene is the script in which Milton dreams of an alien using the ray gun and that’s unnecessary. With no other inclusions of aliens in the story this dream felt misplaced. The action seems we’re well written and intense. I enjoyed the endings and thought the characters stories ended in the right ways, especially Knox, Duncan, and Angie. I thought Angie’s relapse while being away from Milton and having to deal with the incident was perfect. The only thing that didn’t make much sense to me was the significance of the orb at the end or Milton eating it. Maybe, that’s something others would understand but I think it could have been elaborated in more earlier. Overall, a very entertaining script with a lot of potential, maybe a couple tweaks to characters like the Big Boss and Steve.
I was truly intrigued when I read the logline as this is an original concept. However, the originality is about all this screenplay has going for it. The story is incredibly stale and predictable. As soon Richard went into the first movie, everyone and their mother knew that the villains would be escaping. Screenplays can get away with a less than stellar story if they have relatable three-dimensional characters which is another component that “Alternator” lacks. Richard is a genius but his dialogue isn’t clever and he has an extremely limited vocabulary, and he doesn’t really possess any qualities other than that. He’s an orphan but that’s not really touched upon. Josh is terrible. Many of Josh’s comments are meant to be comic relief to the bland Richard. Firstly, it’s never good when the supporting characters have more depth than the main characters but Josh just plain and simple isn’t funny. Humor is subjective but the vast majority of people would concur that just throwing together a string of swears with a couple of “bro’s” and “my dudes” is neither funny nor a way that anyone speaks. Josh’s ma is also a character, who hints at a homosexual relationship between Richard and Josh and I’m not sure why that needed to be included. Michelle is also hollow. She should’ve just been the boss who fired Richard to a side character to dabble into as a potential love interests. More characters does not equal a better story. Finally, there are the horror movie villains. Most of them talk like they were in a horror C-movie which is ok but the dialogue for the villains is comparable to Richard and Josh which is absolutely not okay. Chain Breaker, the main antagonist, while lame by villain standards is the most interesting character as a sort of personification for these cheap movies that Richard and Josh love. There is a clear love for cheap horror movies explored here but there is a fine distinction between paying homage to B-movies and writing one. Finally, a lot of times characters just blatantly say exactly what they’re feeling or thinking without being promoted to do so. It makes all of the dialogue that follows feel unnatural. Overall, there’s a good concept underneath all of this that with a couple more drafts and a lot of editing could really turn into something worth reading but this screenplay is not there yet.
The story feels a little choppy. I can’t tel if that was the intent of the screenplay but it quickly cuts from event to event which doesn’t make it a read that flows well. However, the writer does an exemplary job of developing the characters especially given that the screenplay is only nine pages. One can really see the growth of Ben in his demeanor and confidence as the story plays out. Sean is good supporting character that’s there to drive Ben’s story but has enough of his own personality where he doesn’t simply feel like a narrative device. Beth is alright her one line “testosterone fueled” is something I have never heard a woman say or has worked in movies. Also, I think she would worked better if she was just the wisest character of the bunch who cares for Ben, sympathetically, rather than a quick turn to hint at her being a love interest. The actual story of the domestic abuse is compelling but maybe a different backdrop than bowling. The bowling scenes killed the rhythm of the screenplay. Additionally, the Jenny “The Comet” twist at the end wasn’t bad, it was set up properly and all, it just didn’t feel write. Maybe there could’ve been a little more depth to Ben’s past. Overall, the screenplay was pretty good but could use another draft or two.
A solid but simple story that really is expanded. Animated shorts of this nature usually have a strong theme and this one tries to force one about being open to new experiences and being positive but it feels a little forced. The character of Chippy doesn’t have any dialogue and is by far the most fun character in the story. You can tell how much heart this character has without him even having to say a word. Conversely, the antagonist, Randy, fails because of the dialogue he is assigned. Randy refers to himself as “Daddy” while he has Chippy in a cage which is unsettling for an animated short seemingly intended for a younger audience with some of the visual gags included. The entire tone of the second half feels inconsistent with the first half, and Randy is the root of this problem. Aside from that, the other problem is that the story is too generic. While it has something to say, it has been said before and this particular resembles a Looney Tunes cartoon a little too much. Overall, the story has heart but that alone is not enough to carry it and the villain needs a major overhaul.
I think the biggest problem with this script is that it being written by a fan of shows and movies like Glee and High School Musical and they are simply trying to recreate the feeling they felt when they saw those movies. The plot is ripped directly from the aforementioned series and the characters feel like imitations or high school students. The story feels like it happens to the protagonists, they are not driving the story. All of Shaggy’s dialogue is painful to read and very cliche. Each scene feels like it is just patched together, it doesn’t flow. I reached page 9 and thought I had just read the full episode because everything moves so slowly. Additionally, the scene with the cheerleading coach and the girls is unnecessary as it does nothing to further the story. The first meeting between the girls and Jacob has too much dialogue, maybe try using some more actions instead to convey emotion rather than clunky dialogue. I also felt like the character of Mason isn’t really important either. I recognize that you are trying to set up a whole series but that doesn’t have to be done completely in the first episode, we didn’t meet Petyr Baelish until the fourth episode of Game of Thrones. Also, I feel like the characters weren’t really introduced in the story. You gave a description of the characters but keep in mind those descriptions are for a reader, not a viewer who doesn’t really understand that Courtney is seeking to create a legacy or the Holly is fierce and wants to chase her dreams. I think a good idea is to pick a topic you no little about and try to plug your characters into that story and see if they’re a still one-dimensional.