Review of: 13-Romeo 

reviewed by jackjohns on 06/20/2011
Credited Review
jackjohns
Superb! Credited Review
13-Romeo was a fantastically enjoyable screenplay written with talent and skill. This may well be the least constructive review I’ve ever written. There’s really nothing much negative I can say.

I think therefore, I’ll talk a bit about a couple of things you may be criticised for by other people on this site, namely your use of unfilmmables in your action lines and your extensive use of flashbacks. I’m sure you will probably get feedback from others, probably new to screenwriting, who have read in some theory book that flashbacks are bad and that you should only write what you see and will therefore criticise you for these things without really knowing why. I’m not totally against screenwriting theory. Flashbacks and unfilmmables are used badly far more often then they are used well. However, in your case they are both used to great effect and so I would urge you not to be put off by the inevitable comments you’ll get telling you that you’re wrong to use them.

In the case of your use of unfilmmables in your action lines I felt they were used sparingly enough and to good effect and I very much liked them. They draw the reader into the story and serve to give some personality to your writing. These are some of the best action lines I’ve read.

As for your use of flashbacks I think they work well for two reasons. First, these are parallel plots with their own motivations, interest and story arcs. It’s use and structure reminded me of Blue Valentine and, though a very different film, I think this aspect works for the same reasons. Flashbacks are bad when they solely exist as an easy way to provide exposition. This is not the case here.

Second, these flashbacks help to break up the action and give the script a beating heart that is missing from most action screenplays. I find action on its own can get tiresome if it drags on for too long. These short sharp bursts of action work better at keeping our attention then if we saw the hostage situation uninterrupted for its duration. I was reminded of the huge battle sequence in LotR – TT where the action was intercut with quieter more personal moments that served an effective juxtaposition and created an investment in the characters that made their peril all the more engaging.

The only slight reservation I have is with the first flashback. As a set piece it’s well structured and gripping and it helps explain why Shep loves his job so much. However, this is an example of how showing a scene in flashback can have its drawbacks. It suffers from the fact that we know what the outcome is going to be, from the medal of life saving and the fact that Shep and Dane are still around in the present. We know that nobody dies right from the outset, which lessons any potential suspense. It also doesn’t have any relation to the relationship story of Shep and Amy and so is independent from the parallel plot of the other flashbacks.

Perhaps think about having this scene at the start of the Screenplay instead of the fake peril with the Bot water canon. This way the scene could be played out in the present and this would increase the urgency and tension of the scene. The opening scene with the Bot was well executed but this sort of trickery has been a bit over done in the past. The gimmick's somewhat tired and audiences may just end up feeling a little cheated.


A few notes;

Pg 18 – the short bit of dialogue at the end here felt a little forced. Is this really what Shep would say in this situation or is it what you’d like him to say because it ties into your theme?

Pg 20 – too much exposition from Ma.

Pg 38 – love the sex scene and the hilariously embarrassing situation it places Shep in.

Pg 62 – be good to have a brief description of these hostages along with their names and ages, something simple the reader can visualise.

Pg 73 – THE BEAR? – not sure what this is.

I needed more motivation to explain why Trent sides with Resnick.

I like how Edwards provides a link between the two timelines.

Very much liked the ending with Shep sacrificing himself. Like all the best endings it’s at once both sad and uplifting; sad because he was such a likeable character but at the same time you get the sense that, just like a Samurai warrior, this is exactly the way Shep would have wanted to go out, sacrificing his life in the heat of the battle for the greater good and dying an honourable death. Clearly old age and retirement wouldn’t have suited Shep and as much as I’m sure he loved Amy, and Amy loved him, she’s clearly better off with Edwards.

Hope this has been of some help and thanks for a gripping read. If this doesn’t get an SOM nomination it’ll be a travesty.

All the best,

Jack

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