I chose read your third draft because I read your 1st draft a year and a half ago. I did not look at my last critique so I could have a fresh read of your script. In some ways you made a lot of changes, but in many ways you didn’t make some the key corrections to make the story better. A better logline: A sheriff lost in grief from her husband’s death doesn’t see the danger when a man arrives in town wielding Excalibur. Your logline references “find a strength she never knew she had”. In your script she never finds it. She is just being a mom and a trained police officer in all of her actions. Because you never indicate that she isn’t a good officer, or mom. So what is different? Every word in your logline is crucial to explaining what the story is about. The logline I wrote hits upon some of the key points but it needs more work. Because the two points of your logline don’t seem related to the reader: her husband’s death and finding the true heir. You don’t want to have mysteries in a logline because a reader can’t figure it out. But the main part that is missing is there is no conflict stated in the logline. The BK could do everything without her involvement while she grieves. https://www.masterclass.com/articles/screenwriting-tips-how-to-write-a-logline What tragedy isn’t horrible? It’s a redundant descriptive. What plot are you following in your story? I pondered on it both times and I can’t identify it. Which is why I think you script doesn’t have the intensity you seek. If you change the opening scene this would follow a Pursuit plot. I would read this book to help guide you: http://www.writersdigest.com/wp-content/uploads/Master-Plots-Exclusive.pdf I can see you did a lot work on the last third of the script. You got rid of some extra stuff (Emma) but then added a lot of dialogue to existing scenes I am assuming to add depth? Or clarity? Most of those changes only make the scenes longer instead of efficient. Here are some reactions I had to your revisions. Pg 1 What kind of relationship do they have when he just points her back to the bed? Where he could coax her back to it by kissing her and tucking her back in, promising to be back soon. That’s how most couples convince the other to do something knowing that comfort is waiting for them. You have her being obedient and then he covers her up. Your choice but if you want the audience, in this only scene with her husband, to feel that they are deeply in love, then you need to get that across better. Him then citing that she didn’t remember their 5yr old? Not very intimate. How do you want the audience to feel about their marriage, and then David? Pg2 and then she forgets about her kid? At first I thought it was sarcasm. But I suspect your trying to show that she is all about being a sheriff. Then he wants her to hold a police jacket next to her? Those big full of pockets jackets? Not very soft. It’s just a little awkward. Maybe that’s what police officers do and I’m thinking too much like a suburbanite. If that is the case, then we need more that two-sheriffs-married stuff to show how that kind of relationship goes. Pg 9 “Andy fulls break apart” What is a fulls? Slang doesn’t translate well in scripts. Pg 11 moping vs mopping. Pg 12 “I like where your heads at.” It should be “I like where your head is”, of you want to use slang “I like where your head’s at”. Something to help set the feel of the story would be to describe the exterior of the police station. Is it small, in a small town? Or is it bustling with pedestrian and cars. That way when we meet Ortiz we will have a sense if it’s Super Troopers movie or something with more gravitas. Pg 14 Would Ortiz say “Yes sir” vs “Sorry...”? Pg15 there is a lot of little awkward language throughout the script, and dialogue that is on the nose. Check out https://www.scriptreaderpro.com/on-the-nose-dialogue/ (pg19 Ortiz’s dialogue for example). Not distracting but just enough to wonder about the disposition or personality of the characters. Another example: ANDY All right-- we should head out and help look for the guy. JULIAN You sure? You just got here. ANDY Yeah, I'm sure. I'd Rather do that then be bored here all day. If you are playing these officers to be in a small town and bored, okay. But for Julian to say “you sure?” to his superior officer is odd. And her response too. Maybe it’s a 21st century police station where everyone is very sensitive. But it doesn’t match the profile of typical officers who have to protect their inner-workings against the hard stuff they endure everyday in their job. Just something to consider. Montage: “husband and wife” how does the audience know they are married, or a couple? So now we are at the 15th page and there is little excitement going on. By page 20 we are still hearing about Andy’s grief and how it is affecting them. It’s too much time spent on something that can be sprinkled throughout the script. We get it after pg 8. Now we need the inciting incident. Which is what I suggested over a year ago: Your movie should open with the BK “Welcome to New Haven” scene. It’ll throw off your audience, get them to ponder on it while you introduce your characters and the setting. Pg 16 So they went out looking for the suspect and now they are napping a few hours later? Pg 22 She throws the jacket in a trashcan? That’s so odd. No love or respect about the symbol it represents. You need to think of a better way to show her moving on. If it’s a small town she might even bring it to the station and store it there. Or she might pack it away because her son might want it. It is incongruent how we spent 20 pages experiencing her grief and then she just chucks the jacket. pg 23 why doesn’t Jake grab the jacket from his mom if he doesn’t agree with her thinking (and to protect it). Pg28 Julian is sensitive and now he is douche? After I didn’t see the key necessary changes between your 1st and 3rd draft I put them side by side to see what you did change. What you added has turned your script into a melodrama. • You added more dialogue in the first scene – presumably to show more personality and intimacy between husband and wife. Yet… • Then drew out the introduction of Jake with his mother to show… what? More emotional indecision (than from your first draft)? • I see you changed Jake from being precocious to intuitively sensitive. And that you were having his mom come to a realization that in trying to honor her husband on his birthday it inadvertently relived their sadness. • You fixed the Black Knight dialogue. And I love what you did on page 32 with the strange deaths hint! But I liked it better when you had Andy think BK might be responsible for the unexplained deaths in the first draft. Then have Julian jump on that. It’s a good misdirection for the audience. • I like Andy’s logic on page 40. I would like to see on pg38 that Andy is driving and we see her thinking and then we see her do a sudden u-turn. Then the Cynthia scene would feel more organic. • Pg 50 the whole johnny interrogation scene needs to be cut down. The sole purpose of it is to let them know Andy left with the BK. • Pg 61 Andy’s thankfulness is too mommyish! It’s too familiar. And she assumes too much: that it’s over. No new interrogation of the BK about what they were about or after? Just let him go! It won’t sit right with anyone. And this includes the following pages about “I got them” and “I need to let Cynthia know”. Way too assumptive for a supernatural experience. You may want to watch the original Poltergeist (1982) to see how they showed a suburban family handling supernatural events in their life. • Pg74 patrol cars are rarely locked in Maine, especially at their home. • Pg83 I can see Julian pushing Andy to recognize her odd actions, but taking over command is a serious offense. But what’s worse about this scene is that Andy accepts it and tosses the badge – totally giving up her sense of duty and responsibility that police officers inherently have. Yes she has had some odd experiences but an officer’s sense of protecting and stopping bad guys won’t have her become immature with a colleague. Remember Action Defines Character. It reads like you are treating Andy like a 20th century view of how a woman would handle extreme situations. Rather than a professional. • Pg85 It’s one thing for Joe as a character to be accepting of David walking in, but Julian and the other officers would be questioning their perception. Julian is too accepting of the odd sight of fellow officer David. • I thought BK turning into appearing like David was a good ploy. But finishing the script you indicate that he really is David? The audience will want to understand more in Act 2. Either that David became something and is no longer David the husband/father, or… something. This is good modern take on the Arthur legend with some great action. Work on tightening your scenes and dialogue.
You have a good basis for an action/thriller script. This has a 80/90s action movie feel to it. Key details and action are skipped to move the story forward, but a 21st century audience will struggle with the logically missing parts. But for a thriller there must be a reward for the audience after enduring all the twist and turns you wrote into your script. When you introduce the twists of Frank and her father, they don’t do anything to elevate the thriller. They are just emotional betrayals for her – and not the audience. In other words their betrayal doesn’t change the story or her actions: she was going to reveal the information regardless if they betrayed her or not. So what was the point other than make it seem emotionally distressing for her? Now if she took down her father at the end, then you would have a twist with vindication. What would make a more rewarding climax is if Goldman turned out to be her father. Then the betrayal would have been felt by the audience since we know that he has been thwarting her all along. One of the basis tenants of screenwriting is “show, don’t tell”. Much of your script tells us what they are feeling and thinking. This is something you are going to have to research how to show your character’s internal struggles versus explaining them in the descriptions. The lead character has asthma sometimes and not others. Only when it seems convenient to the scene. There is an international cast but their accent and language structure do not stand out. This is a typical corporate power vs the underdog story. The first ten pages pulls you into the story. But the parallel conflict that is escalating in story never comes together in the end. The military coup and corporate scheming never meet up with Michelle and her father. They happen separately so it seems to the audience that neither will affect the other even though you have told the audience they are both related. The final ten pages… If Michelle has condemning information wouldn’t she die soon after giving it to the press, just as Pyramid has always done? Wouldn’t her father be keeping tabs on her the whole time, or most likely keeping her confined in some way? I understand the goal of your story is to attack the corporations that have exploited Africa. But you did not really hurt or stop them in this story, only delayed for a brief time. Yes Michelle, for now, is speaking out about their machinations but will the audience feel vindicated at the conclusion? Maybe your intent is to insert some realism into your ending by letting the audience know that even though the corporations weren’t vanquished there are some who will never give up fighting? If so then your 80s/90s type of script needs to be rethought as the casual demeanor of Michelle and skipping key logic points of dialogue and response does not take in the gravity of your ending. A movie to reference for this kind of international intrigue is The Peacemaker (1997) amongst many others. If you decide you want this moralistic story to resonate with 21st century audiences, then you’ll need to revamp the casual dialogue and work out the subplot so they have a real-world feel. You have a good structure to work from. Keep refining the scenes and this will become a rewarding script!
I can’t tell if you are taking this as a serious action drama, or is this a tongue-in-cheek light adventure from the 1980s? It feels like a 13 year old wrote this from limited knowledge of the world that is only through old movies and books. The dialogue is off, too Americanized, and too on the nose. It’s just poor writing, with a tremendous amount of grammatical errors. All of the characters speak as though they are all Americans even though the majority are from other countries. The locals in Tunis and other places speak American. The local television stations in those foreign countries are speaking American. Did you think any of this through? Now you have a decent idea but you have a lot of work to do to make this realistic if that is your intent. I have given you a bunch of notes but it only covers half of the work you need to do to fix this awkward script. There is a reason we laugh at 80s movies today. Their action is over the top and unrealistic, the dialogue is from the 50s and lacks the seriousness of the situation, and the relationships are poorly developed. Unless your intention was to create a parody of that type of era movie, this script will not work in the 21st century. From your summary it appears this is not a parody. And the twists that you worked out at the end is just a last minute reveal, there are no hints or puzzles for the audience to solve along the way for this to be a Thriller.
I know Scriptmother does not allow you to identify this as a stage play, or as a musical, so I didn’t know what I was getting myself into. I like theater and musicals, but it’s not my forte as a screenwriter. Is the intent of the opening speech to warn the audience that this is for young children? Because, one of the pleasures that come from the famous movie is when each companion is discovered is that their introduction is played out, meaning their weaknesses and fears are in full exposition. In your play it is touched on, but there is no exposition given to appreciate their struggle, we don’t empathize with them. Much of what is experienced in the movie is what happens on the journey of overcoming obstacles from the wicked witch. All of this has been left out of the play with a sole reliance on the vaudevillian style of entertainment, so the play lacks depth of any kind. It’s an interesting idea but the fusion has left out the reward of Dorothy’s quest. While you stated that this is vaudeville oriented, is this what you meant as a new take? It’s not very entertaining for a 21st century audience. But you did label it as a Family feature, and “solely to the please children of today”. In modernizing this classic tale, you missed out on basic necessities for entertainment, even for a musical. You chose to leave out the “heart-aches and nightmares”, but nothing is compelling in this retelling. All the songs feel like they are left in the 20th century, there is no new take on them. Vaudeville served a purpose, and had little competition from other forms of entertainment. Vaudeville was about survival and money, not the art of storytelling. Personality, enthusiasm and speed were essential, but not having any of the three was still a good shtick if it was funny to the working class who came because it was cheap, and thus the acts had to be repeated a dozen times a day to make any money. So what is it you want the children to get from this family musical? Because the song references go above their heads, especially 21st century children. The original lessons of how do you find courage, your heart, or develop your mind is still something a child can grasp. Yet they were skimmed over. You did a good job with the jokes as they are fitting, dry and witty and made me chuckle. The song choices seemed random, or just because they didn’t have a copyright issue. Since I don’t know what your plan was for this screenplay (Broadway versus a local town production; children or all ages), I hope I gave you some points to consider in your next draft.