Review of: Ctrl Alt Deleted 

reviewed by dgburton on 05/03/2010
Credited Review
dgburton
Everybody do the robot! Credited Review
When I saw this on my assignments I was immediately taken by the premise. We've been given way too many action heroes who are former green berets, CIA operatives, cyborg karate champions or other highly trained professional tough guys. I always liked films that had an ordinary protagonist caught in an extraordinary conflict, which is one reason why noir films are so intriguing. I think 'Taken' could have been a much better film if it was a green grocer's daughter that had been kidnapped into slavery.

So, anyway, right off the bat I like the idea of your protagonist being a kind of underachieving everyman. So let's see where this goes.

I really like the opening; it's an intriguing scene in the police station, it sets up an existential mystery nicely and is a good bridge to the flashback which breathlessly runs head first into the action.

Good, tense scene with Jonathan and the men looking for the files. I would question whether your action lines are overlong though, as we're on pg 7 here and the film doesn't feel as if it would be 7 minutes long at this point. It feels about half that.

It might just be me, but this whole 'Video Fix' fax thing is confusing.

OK, there's a bit of a problem here for me in Jonathan's actions. If he escaped the apartment with the disc and there was no one behind him, why did he stop at the video store, start banging on the window, and stick it through the drop slot? Why wouldn't he have gotten as far away as possible with the disc? His actions here would only make sense if he was being closely pursued, turned a corner, threw the disc in the drop slot (unseen) and kept running with pug nose closing in.

And I still don't understand the fax thing (and the descriptions of the disc transfers into different cases seemed overly elaborate and confusing as well), but isn't it a huge coincidence that the printer smeared the writing so that instead of reading 'Video Fix', it read 'Video Pix', which just so happens to be the store where he's taken the disc?

So far the neighbor, Jonathan, the coffee shop girl, and Leslie and Derek have already been killed and we're only on pg 19. These are definitely some bad dudes. Great set up.

I think Leslie's note would have probably read something like 'Matt's got 2001' rather than '2001 rented by member 000'. I doubt she would refer to him by member number, and then that the member number in the computer would correspond simply to 'owners' rather than an actual name. I suppose you need to get Pug to Ana's house but it would still be better if you could find another way to do it rather than straining credulity on such a small thing.

And I personally think it would be better if Ana just shot Square-Jaw in the chest without first shouting a warning that she had a gun. More surprising.

And one last note on this scene, it might be better if they find something in Ana's house that led them to realizing Matt was the other owner of the store, rather than having it on a sheet of paper they've been carrying around all along.

Why did he carry his DVD into a convenience store instead of leaving it in the car? I can't imagine many people would take a DVD with them shopping. Or to the beach, or hiking, etc.

Good break into ACT 2, with Matt now being pursued by both the police and the thugs, but I question your decision to have the information about the disc revealed to Matt off-screen. It seems like it's a crucial discovery, so it's a little anti-climatic to only hear about it after the fact.

"You got involved because Jonathan was too cheap to repair a busted printer". Did anyone actually see that fax? I thought Pug and Square-Jaw followed Jonathan and ended up at the store after finding the 2001 disc. That fax is still bedeviling me, I just don't understand how it relates to anything.

"Jonathan! That's the name on the invoice. Where is he? I need him to help me sort this out." Why is he surprised about hearing Jonathan's name? He knows he's in his apartment...

I would think it's more powerful if Matt doesn't make little grabs at the disc constantly while he's in the apartment building with Gloria, but then she discovers that the disc's missing when she dives into the cab. Up until that moment we would have thought Matt was happy to let her have it, and then we realize he's got other ideas...

It might be better to have Matt picked up on the street by the cops instead of voluntarily going in, especially after Gloria just told him that 1) he'd never make it out of the alive and 2) they have more than enough evidence to put him away.

The voice is whispering Matt's name? Pug and Square-Jaw are detectives? Wow, this is getting interesting.

Gloria to save the day! Great, but I would have preferred a little more action in that scene, maybe rescuing him in a car chase. But I'm very demanding.

I'm not really into sci-fi stuff, so I'll just assume all the logic and whatnot behind Pandora and computer viruses and replicating robots will make sense to other people.

Gloria on pg 65: "It seems to be the way it seems". Maybe "It seems that way" would be less awkward.

Gloria "What is it with you and dream references?" Has Matt made many dream references? I certainly hadn't noticed.

Matt to Gloria on pg 69 "You're one of them?" This shouldn't be a surprise after she opened her mouth earlier and it was scanned like a bar code.

OK, I really wasn't able to completely deduce what was going on by the end. So Matt was a robot who was endlessly re-imagining a sequence of events? Why? Was he really married to Bridget? Did he really work in a video store? Was there ever any virus? What was his objective? What was anybody's objective? What was the point of the story?

I think that's the biggest thing working against you with this script, it's really hard for the viewer to invest themselves in the story or characters because they keep being revealed to be, basically, fake. Everyone's just a bunch of wires. I think it would have been a better story if Matt was a real person caught in this dystopian web, and just when he thinks he has it all figured out and has overcome his enemies, the rug is pulled out from under him. As it is, I feel like I was wrong to ever care about him at any point in the story. After all, he was just the same as everybody else in the end.

Despite being quite confused by the whole thing, I did still enjoy it in parts, and if it was reassembled in some new and different shape it could be great. If you could find a way to establish an emotional core to the story, and some kind of ultimate goal that everyone's scrambling to reach, it would be a much more effective piece. Best of luck with it.

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