Borrowing from films like “The Abyss,“ “Aliens,” and “Avatar,” the futuristic sci-fi fantasy adventure, “Frontier,” is an imaginatively detailed, action-filled space yarn that moves at warp speed. Unfortunately the plot is so propulsive, and the narrative so over-stuffed with unnecessary techno-babble, that the human element -- and the point of it all -- is lost in space.
What is this story about? According to the synopsis, “Frontier” is supposed to be about two scientists helping aliens escape from the clutches of an evil corporation. But what about Spacer Captain Lenny? He’s as important to the story as Nitza, but he’s not even mentioned in the synopsis. And what about Nitza’s long lost brother, Danny? It’s his strange reappearance in the first few pages that gets the ball rolling, but he’s not mentioned either.
As written, the script’s synopsis should read more like this: When a young scientist locates her long lost brother on a remote planet, living amongst a benign alien race, she joins forces with the grizzled captain of a renegade space freighter in order to save them from the clutches of an evil intergalactic corporation. This example is far from perfect, but it does highlight the most important elements of the story: Nitza’s relationship with her brother and Lenny.
Remember, movies are ultimately about people, even when they‘re about aliens.
Focus less on the technical details and more on the characters. In the beginning the emphasis should be on Nitza and her dogged determination to find her lost brother. And when she finally does find him, allow them (and the reader) a moment to reconnect before pulling them apart again. Nitza’s relationship with Danny, like Ripley’s relationship with Newt in “Aliens,“ is the emotional anchor of the story. Everything else is secondary.
Streamline the prose as much as possible. Edit out most of the tech stuff. Lines like, “Many launching the Type 340 Anti-Capital class Heavy Torpedoes at the closing Administration warship” (pg. 95), bog the reader down with unnecessary detail. Also, don’t bother naming minor characters, like Dobbs, Vasylig and Gilsham as well as most of the Marines.
What the story’s about determines its structure. First figure out exactly the story you want to tell, then figure out the best way to tell it.
Review of: Frontier (revision)
reviewed by fencik on 08/01/2011
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