The Devourer and her zombie minions have destroyed untold worlds. Those worlds didn’t have rednecks.
HOW IT RATES
To rescue his son from execution in Afghanistan, a government scientist employs two underachieving - but skilled - video gamers to remote pilot his experimental assault robots.
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Reviews of The Spooky Elite 13
by Michael Keller on 07/08/2012Spooky Elite is a fun, entertaining script, with a very timely premise. Here are my running notes: -Cool description on the first page. -The way you describe Doc controlling the robot, is as if it’s some big reveal. It’s clear from the get go. P18-“A third soldiers calmly tends to these wounded.” soldier -I don’t think this whole fracas about not having Apaches for air... Spooky Elite is a fun, entertaining script, with a very timely premise. Here are my running notes:
-Cool description on the first page.
-The way you describe Doc controlling the robot, is as if it’s some big reveal. It’s clear from the get go.
P18-“A third soldiers calmly tends to these wounded.” soldier
-I don’t think this whole fracas about not having Apaches for air support and using the Chinook is really necessary. I don’t know the protocol on these sort of rescue missions, but it seems like they could just go straight to rescuing them without the discussion, getting shot down and the story would work fine. I’m sure apaches do sometimes break down and need repairs, but we laymen never see them that way so it’s sort of distracting from the main plot.
-“I'll gather the test footage. Fantastic. Another hoop to jump through.” I’d put the first sentence at the end.
-Wouldn’t Doc be reporting to people in DARPA?
-If the most exciting storyline is using the spooky robots to save the captured soldiers, the mission has to start WAY sooner. That gives more room for complications in the mission. All that fussing over the program can be condensed.
-How can Doc get in trouble for applying for expedited clearance? If he was the one who granted it without proper due diligence, that would be a different story. But he didn’t grant it. It would be more plausible that he would get in trouble if he couldn’t get clearance in time and just let them operate the robots anyway.
-I think it would take much less than 2 hours for f-18s to arrive anywhere in Afghanistan. They go almost twice the speed of sound and I'm sure they're stationed in country.
-A satellite can launch experimental spooky robots faster than the air force can scramble battle tested f-18s?
Okay, overall great concept. My main suggestion is to adjust the pacing so the big mission starts sooner, so there can be more time for complications in Afganistan. That's the most exciting part.
Good job! read
by tashahardy on 06/24/2012Hi Chris, Thank you for the exciting read. Overall, I found this script to be a tight action film with a unique and interesting premise that I've never seen before. Even though I'm personally not into movies about the army, war, etc. I found that I couldn't put this one down. The subject matter dipped enough into other areas (character development, engaging subplots, etc.)... Hi Chris,
Thank you for the exciting read.
Overall, I found this script to be a tight action film with a unique and interesting premise that I've never seen before. Even though I'm personally not into movies about the army, war, etc. I found that I couldn't put this one down. The subject matter dipped enough into other areas (character development, engaging subplots, etc.) to keep me going, which makes me think this film would appeal to a wide audience. I also like you how you explained technically what was going on with the robots, experiments, etc. but balanced it out with visuals. Good "show not tell" ratio.
I do have some notes/thoughts which hopefully will be helpful. I really started getting into the script when Mark and Darius get captured by Saif's crew. The stakes were suddenly high and I thought you did a great job wrapping it around Mark's dad and brother's involvement. But before that, I wasn't really attached to the characters. The first act seemed to revolve around the robots, while the second act revolved around the characters and I thought there was an uneven balance. I wanted to see more bonding with Mark and his family at the beginning (flashbacks perhaps?) so that I could empathize with them when Mark gets captured. I also thought Chad should save his own brother. Even if he has an asthma attack maybe he could snap back right at the last second and be the hero.
You have a nice, flowing writing style but I would read it for each individual character's voice as sometimes they're humor all starts coming off as snotty 20-year-olds. (Although, I loved Saif's personality-funny stuff.) Also, there are a few places where the grammar is off. not spelling errors words that are supposed to be different words, etc. For example page 37: Doc says "Let my put it this way" instead of "let ME put it this way."
I think if you balance the first half and last half a bit more with character vs. action this script would be ready to send out. It's all there, it's just a matter of moving some character driven scenes around and maybe adding more bonding scenes between Doc, Mark and Chad at the beginning.
by heylang on 06/22/2012Hi Chris, Before I start I want to let you know that I am trying a new format for my reviews. Hopefully it’s not too much of a jumbled mess and it makes sense to you. Okay, this is a rather fun story about a scientist who works for the military developing combat robots. He has two sons, one who is a Navy SEAL (are SEALs assigned to Afghanistan? I’ll assume they are) and... Hi Chris,
Before I start I want to let you know that I am trying a new format for my reviews. Hopefully it’s not too much of a jumbled mess and it makes sense to you.
Okay, this is a rather fun story about a scientist who works for the military developing combat robots. He has two sons, one who is a Navy SEAL (are SEALs assigned to Afghanistan? I’ll assume they are) and the other who is a bit of a slack-off and spends all his time playing video games.
The title THE SPOOKY ELITE is a little odd. You do explain what the whole spooky concept is, or at least you kind of explain it but I don’t know if the title really works. A title has to speak for itself and should not mislead prospective viewers. This one sounds like it could be kind of a cross between a supernatural story and one involving Scooby Doo. Not sure and it’s not really explained until act 2.
Also not sure about your logline. It tells me there is a scientist who has a son in trouble in Afghanistan and he uses two unrelated kids to help him by utilising their gaming skills. This is misleading because it’s clear from the start that his own kid plays video games so I was wondering how his video gaming kid ends up in Afghanistan but when I find out he has another son, who is in Afghanistan, I kept going back to the logline thinking, “This doesn’t make sense”.
Now to get into the actual review.
Not bad. I can see there’s a fair bit of work setting things up at this stage. I do think Doc is a little inconsistent. He’s a real stickler for the rules but he’s also forgetful. I find it hard imagining the two going hand in hand. Will wait to see what happens.
ACT I (1 – 25)
So far it’s pretty good and I’m enjoying the read. You’re setting up the story nicely but I’m still not entirely convinced by Doc. On P12 I made the note “Doc is not a likeable protag”. He’s a bit of a jerk toward his son. Your audience should root for your protag and I’m wondering if I’ll be rooting for him by then end.
ACT II (25 – 75)
The story is really moving well. No surprises yet and I’m anticipating fairly natural ending but I still want to read on and see it for myself.
ACT III (75 – 94)
Okay, this act lets you down. This is where your story moves from a believable fun script to something I can’t buy into. This is where your natural characters start to fall apart. Chad is twenty-two, these days, that’s still considered a kid. He’s also a civilian who plays shoot ‘em up video games with his friends and suddenly he thinks nothing of blowing up a vehicle with real people in it. “The vehicle explodes, the wreckage burns violently”. Later Tony seems to have no problem blowing a man’s head off and another man’s hand off. Even Doc, who is a scientist and not a trained soldier, is only too eager to jump in and incinerate a man’s head. These actions don’t fit any of these characters. I can understand Doc being angry and wanting revenge but not to that extent, as for the boys, I can’t accept that at all. If you can have the boys rescue Mark without actually killing anyone then that would be more believable, or have trained soldiers do the dirty work, but to have these people willingly kill other people, it’s so out of place. This is then followed up with Tony boasting “That guy got totally owned” and Jessica coming out with such a corny line of “You’re all awful”. This really lets down the entire story.
You suddenly reveal there are more robots already built and sitting in space waiting for deployment. What?!?! You can’t reveal new facts at this late stage. This is called deus ex machine and is frowned upon in this industry. Here’s why – It’s a plot device whereby a seemingly unsolvable problem is suddenly and abruptly solved with the contrived and unexpected intervention of some new event, character, ability or object. You can’t pull a rabbit out of the hat to solve a problem that your story has been building up to.
Concept: The concept is fine and when written well could be a successful story.
Character: In general I had a problem with Doc. Now I could be way off the mark here but your style of writing makes you sound young and Doc sounds like he’s been written by a young person who hasn’t yet got the art of writing older people effectively. In other words, Doc and the others for that matter, sound too young.
I was very confused by the relationship between Hill and Kirkland. If Kirkland is more senior, why is Hill getting away with so much? Why does Kirkland act like his hands are tied? There is some mention at the end about Hill’s family money but it’s not made clear and this raises questions as to why Kirkland is letting him get away with it.
Hill is obviously Doc’s superior, he must be if he can sack him, so for Doc to say “You didn’t need to know” on P.55 is kind of asking for trouble, in my opinion.
I couldn’t understand why Doc’s son, Chad was depicted as the loser who couldn’t even contribute to helping save his own brother and instead a non family member had to come to the rescue. In movies it’s usually the protagonist’s family who are better than any body else unless members of their family are particularly evil and are working as an antagonist. So why is it, when the chips are down, Chad is writhing on the floor looking for an inhaler and Tony has to take over Chad’s robot to save the day? You really should swap them around ‘cause in the end, you didn’t need Chad in this story, only Tony.
Dialogue: Okay but not outstanding. Most of your dialogue should be shortened by at least one sentence. As an example on P.30, Doc says, “Hammer Time? Cute. What’s your handle by the way?”. I’d simply drop the “by the way” bit. It sounds unnatural and forced.
Chad is a college boy (or has since finished) but twice he says “..me and him..” when it should obviously be “..him and I..”. The former doesn’t ring true for a college boy, it sounds more like a person who dropped out before finishing high school and even if he says this as a slip then Doc should be correcting him.
Story: I finally see how the story got it’s name on P.38 but it needs more explanation. Are you saying one half of the entangled quantum particles reside in the robots while the other half is in the computers? We understand the connection between the two particles but we don’t understand how that relates to the robots and the computers. And, if it is the particle in the computer that influences the particle in the robot then surely it would make more sense if the opposing particle was in a suit in the lab rather than in a computer, but that’s okay. It’s not my story, it just makes more sense to me. But while I’m on this topic, how do the secondary robots from the satellite work? Where are their opposing particles?
Doc announces the results of their expedited clearance on P.43. I had to say at that point, “Who cares?”. Three lines of dialogue or six lines in your screenplay that have been used up for nothing. It means nothing to your story, it means nothing to the mood of the scene. Re-read your screenplay and remove all these meaningless bits. If it doesn’t drive your story forward or add tension to the scene then get rid of it.
I couldn’t work out why the Afghanis didn’t kill Mark and Darius. They were very quick to kill the others. If there was a genuine reason for keeping them alive then I would accept it but Diaz is shot upon sight which tells me there is no specific reason why they didn’t shoot Mark and Darius. If the Afghanis had taken all the survivors alive and then killed Diaz during questioning or for some other reason then it would make more sense but if they kill one man without saying a word then take the protagonist’s son alive, then it just seems too convenient.
Darius is inside the shed watching the action outside. He saw the man being burned alive which means he saw them dousing him in fuel which means he should have known what was going on when Mark asked him.
I just don’t think the term henchmen fits with Saif’s men. Call them Afghanis or terrorists but not henchmen. It sounds too much like the mob.
Structure: You have to make sure that people don’t question things in your story because of surprises. On P.31 you have the action line “Chad, hair wet from the shower…” What shower? When you say “the shower” that implies you had previously mentioned that he was having a shower, but you didn’t. I know this sounds so incredibly minor but it drags the reader out of the story, it breaks the flow of the story and pulls them back into reality and when they start to question the logic of your story then you start to lose them. If this was my story, I would cut the whole scene anyway. It doesn’t achieve anything and the absence drives the story forward as much as the scene itself.
Prior to the above point, Doc says, “Check this out”. Suddenly that scene and time frame ends and we don’t see anything. I was waiting for something and it never happened. Find another way to end the scene or show us what he’s about to show his son.
By around P.35, I have figured out that every time you change to one of your main scenes you use an establishing scene before moving inside. First of all, you don’t need an establishing scene as these days, it’s considered directing from the page. Second, if you really wanted to use one then it might be around twice per script, not every time you change locations. Third, the establishing scene begins with an EXT slugline. You can’t then move inside by using GUARD SHACK or HIS HOUSE or GETAWAY CAR. When moving from an exterior to an interior or vice versa, you need a new master scene heading. You even jump between the CONTROL ROOM and DOC’S BEDROOM and back again without using sluglines. You can’t do this, it is incorrect formatting.
Notes I made as I read through:
I find the level of typo’s to be interesting. You have a lot less then I would normally see, which makes me think you have proofed this but you also have some very basic ones that should have been found during your first proofread. Words missing, repeated words, apostrophes missing and commas missing. I won’t point them all out as there are too many but I have a list if you want them.
At least 90% of your parentheticals should be removed. Most of them are not required as they are obvious and the remaining ones are actions and thus should not be used as parentheticals anyway.
P.3. The paragraph at the bottom of this page beginning with “Soon, it’s clear…” is not required. When “Doc adjusts his computer’s mouse slightly”, we understand what’s going on and we understand the link between the Doc’s actions on the computer and the actions of the robot. You should get rid of that paragraph, it’s just overkill.
P.5. “Doc turns.” Is all that’s required. Turning to his left is irrelevant and directing from the page. You’re telling the actors where to stand when you tell them to turn left or right and that’s not required.
P.7. ‘INT. A COMPUTER DESKTOP – DAY”. This is not a location and can’t be used in a slugline.
P.8. The virtual world of the computer game starts with a slugline of a virtual office but without changing scenes you then use a mini slug of CONFERENCE ROOM. You repeat this later down the page even though we still haven’t left the same room. Change your slug and remove those mini slugs.
P.9. The following action text “indicating that the carnage in the conference room was part of a video game.” Is not required as it’s obvious.
P.12. Don’t know that I would call a group of soldiers watching a basketball game an audience. Audiences go to shows not to sporting events. I’d be calling them spectators. Same on P.13.
P.13. Marks should be Mark.
P.16. seats should be seat.
P.17. Soldiers should be soldier. I won’t point any more of these out. Give it a good proofread.
P.18. “His eyes void of emotion”. Too much prose for a screenplay. How is an actor going to show this?
P.18.MALE VOICE (O.S.). is this character in the scene or not? You’ve just described a multitude of heavily armed men and I assume MALE VOICE is in this group?
P.20. “Putting a folder in his teeth, he opens a door..” Don’t direct from the page unless it is important to the story that he puts the folder in his teeth.
P.24. “make due” should be “make do”.
P.25-26. This is a really long montage sequence. I know it is only one page but on the screen it would be much more than one minute. The action ones are going to take a lot of time so this might even translate to around four minutes. A montage should be around 15 to 30 seconds.
P.27. “If we don’t pull of…” should be “off”.
P.27. In Doc’s residence is the action line “As he opens the front door, he pauses”. The next paragraph has “Doc opens the door slowly…” It’s already open.
P.28-29. Bottom of P.28 is the action “The front door opens” then Chad calls out for his Dad and Doc says “I’m in the kitchen”. If you simply remove the front door opens line then it will make more sense. As it stands, apparently the kitchen is not at the front of the house or Chad would have seen Doc when he entered so then when we are in the kitchen we would not see the front door open.
P.29. Wayward asterisk sits in the margin.
P.34. Tony puts the phone to his ear and says “Wassup, Chad?”. How does he know it’s Chard?
P.35. The lengthy scene with Chad and Tony filling out paperwork and getting clearance, is that necessary? I’d hate to say it but it’s really boring and adds nothing to the story.
P.41. “The room is empty save for Doc, Chad and Tony”. The room is not empty because there are three people in it and based on earlier scenes there are normally only two people in it anyway as no other staff are ever mentioned, so this would make the room seem crowded or busy. I’m not trying to be a smart-ass but don’t say a room is empty if it has even one person in it and I’m guessing it is a big lab? Why are there never any other staff?
P.41. Tony mentions that mannequin is kinda far away. Chad suggests he toggle the zoom to which Tony then toggles the zoom. If he knows how to do the zoom, why does he mention that it’s far away? If someone says an object is far away and they have to be told to zoom in then I would expect that they would then ask how?
P.42. Doc calls his son an idiot. Most Dads wouldn’t do that and it makes him out to be a really mean parent and a not very likeable character.
P.45. Gotta mention this again, you can’t go back and forth from and interior location to an exterior location simply by using OUTSIDE SHED and INSIDE SHED.
P.45. “Men cut down the charred body and drag it off”. There has been no break in the scene and it has only been a minute since he was set alight. He’s still got quite a while to go before he is out.
P.47. The Leader talks to Mark and Darius in English, Mark then asks, “You speak English?”. No offense but that was a stupid question and the Leader’s response was even worse.
P.47. I found it odd that the Leader was more concerned about Mark and Darius stealing stuff from him. Out of all of the things these soldiers could do if they escaped and he is worried about them stealing stuff. Really odd.
P.50. The picture shows a hand missing two fingers but Kirkland says he has lost three.
P.52. The series of shots is not a series of shots but only one shot of a bunch of pictures.
P.65. “His blood trickles over the sandy ground” Too much prose for a screenplay.
P.66. Mark looks in the mirror of the moving SUV and sees that Saif’s men are working on the SUV’s. How can he tell considering the compound is a speck in the distance as mentioned on P.65.
P.76. Tony is in the gas station when Chad comes to get him. Tony quits, they all go outside and Tony moons his boss. They are outside. Where’s the slugline?
P.82. sight should be site.
P.82. “These Spooky units are dark green with black accents”. What does that mean? Do they speak Jive? You need a better description.
P.83. “Doc types the coordinates that he wrote on his arm” You didn’t say this before. You just said he wrote it down.
P.93. Slugline “KNIT. CONTROL ROOM – DAY”. I assume this is meant to be INT?
P.94. Remove this blank page.
Would I pay money to see this on the screen? If you fix up the third act this could be very much like the 80’s movie WARGAMES and I would enjoy watching this but as it stands, I wouldn’t, simply because the ending is so disappointing.
Like every review, take the bits you want and simply discard the rest, this is your story, not mine.
Good luck and keep up your writing. read
by jpaige09 on 06/21/2012Okay first off, fantastic job. This was a good read and I think there's a lot of potential in this to become a highly marketable script. A lot of what I'm about to discuss is going to focus on suggestions for change. Don't take it the wrong way. I'm making these suggestions because I think you have something very valuable. With just a few tweaks here and there I think you could... Okay first off, fantastic job. This was a good read and I think there's a lot of potential in this to become a highly marketable script. A lot of what I'm about to discuss is going to focus on suggestions for change. Don't take it the wrong way. I'm making these suggestions because I think you have something very valuable. With just a few tweaks here and there I think you could definitely sell this.
Concept: High concept. Potential for a series. Very good. Yes, yes, yes.
Characters: I liked that you had unresolved relationships with Doc and Chad. Chad and Tony had nice character arcs. The ending with them hard at work, in suits--great stuff. I will say, there were waaaayyyy too many characters. Here's a list I compiled, and I didn't include ALL of the characters in this because it became too tedious.
Soldiers 1, 2, 3
General Ward Kirkland
Major Frederick Hill
Now, I know that action movies tend to have loads of characters in them... But if I was a paid reader, I may have stopped reading before the end of the first act because there were soooo many characters. A lot of characters were named when they didn't need to be named. A lot of characters could be combined. Just consider this. For example, Fujimito. We see him once and he has one line. We don't need his name. Cordell, same thing. Pale Pilot is a great example of a character you could combine with another--like Miller or Fujimito or whoever you want. Just a consideration.
Also, I think it would be interesting to give Jessica and Chad a sort of love story. It's an action film, so it's basically obligated to have a love story, and we also get snippets of Jessica talking about her love life. She says she went on a date with Hill--you set her and Chad up and now there's some more antagonist potential for Hill. He now wants to bring Chad down, not just Doc.
Dialogue: The dialogue never stood out one way or another. There were several lines that made me chuckle (this is good--I rarely laugh while reading a script, even a hilarious Judd Appatow script). Overall, I stayed in the story and I usually only notice dialogue if it takes me out of the story.
Story: Okay, a lot of my suggestions about this are made in the page notes, so I'm going to have to summarize from those...
1. Cordell says he was specifically told NOT to send choppers out in daylight. Now, obviously him doing so results in the chopper getting shot down with a grenade. However, I think it would be interesting to add a false victory to this part of the story. Have the mission seem successful. They get their men out and fly off to safety. Cut back to the states with Doc’s meeting. Then, we return to the base where it seems the chopper was tracked by the terrorists. The SEAL’s location has been compromised. Mark and others are taken, some killed, many wounded and left to die. This would also make the time lapse between when Mark is taken and when Doc finds out much shorter.
2. Saif’s reasoning for not killing them is confusing. Killing two hostages will do wonders for his credibility? But he just set one of the hostages on fire? I assumed the man he set on fire (which was awesome, by the way) was a hostage, but now I’m unsure. I guess what’s confusing is we’re not clear on how many hostages they took. If the terrorists took like eight hostages or something--so many from the chopper, so many from Darius's team. If you gave them the false victory, you could also have a lot of the characters we met just once (Fujimoto, Cordell, etc.) show up again. This solves your problem in cutting characters. Anyway, I think this is a great scene to set a ticking time bomb. You don’t need Saif to speak at all. You establish Mark has been going in and out of unconsciousness. Have him ask Darius how many have been killed that day. “So far? One.” Then, Darius says, “They kill two a day.” Now, we already know all the men in that shed. It's a countdown and total dread to finding out which one of them dies next. Tension and anticipation. (pg. 48)
3. Doc should not be passive AT ALL. I like that he listens to his son on the PC. That's a really sweet moment. however, what I suggest is having Kirkland give this to him way earlier in the story. Kirkland tells him his son is missing during the training. Doc asks how he knows Mark is still alive. Kirkland gives him the information and tells Doc they heard his voice over the radio or whatever it was (the whole ultimatum thing can be taken out). Try while Chad and Tony are training for the presentation (while they're training, Doc can't do much in terms of saving his son anyway). As soon as Chad and Tony kill the presentation you need to have Doc trying to figure how to save his son. He knows he can use the bots now. He just needs to figure out where the fuck his son is. (pg. 60-61) Which moves me onto the next point:
4. Hill firing Doc, good. Good choice. BUT right now it's not an obstacle or setback because Doc isn't pursuing a goal. My suggestion: bot presentation went well, Doc knows he needs to send the bots to save his son and now all he needs is his son's location. So, he's trying to triangulate the position over the radio (or something) when Hill comes in and fires him. Now, his getting fired is an obstacle.
5. Okay, in my opinion here’s what should change about this entire ending/climax sequence: Chad has asthma attack, Tony is forced to hold off all the terrorists by himself as Doc frantically searches for Chad’s inhaler, Doc finds inhaler, Chad is ready to go again right as Tony’s robot is killed. This leaves Chad to save his brother and win his father’s approval--after all, it’s Chad’s relationship with his father that needs resolving. Not Tony’s relationship with Chad’s father… Chad needs to be the one who saves Mark in the end.
Finally, Kirkland mentions that they have limited ammo. This should play into effect in the rescue. Tony and Chad should be counting down their ammo. The last laser beam thing should be saved for Saif. It should be a big moment. If Chad (or Doc) misses they‘re out of ammo and the whole mission was a failure. Big moment.
Structure: Overall, the structure was pretty good.
Pg. 4--General Kirkland materializes and then just walks out… Did he materialize with a transporter or… it’s a minor detail, but when I read “materializes” I thought he was a projection. I think what you have going is really good, but with sci-fi you’re creating an alternate world. So, with this materializing shit I’m questioning how advance the technology is because at this point the rest of the world seems rather realistic. Whereas a technology that can dematerialize a person, send the particles to a far off location and rematerialize the person correctly is very distant in the future. If the ability to teleport doesn’t have a large role in your story (it’s difficult for me to determine at this point) I would suggest Kirkland doesn’t materialize.
Page 30--Doc asks his son “What’s your handle?” If he doesn’t play--and doesn’t like--videogames he should just say name. It seems more in tune with his character.
Page 50--Leader is missing two fingers. Kirkland says he lost three. Small fix.
Page 53-- “Major Hill works the room. He looks […] as he works the room.” Change the second one to “as he does so.” Also, why is Doc uncomfortable in his suit? It seems to me he should be used to wearing a suit to this point. Chad and Tony, on the other hand, would.
Pg. 56--When describing the monitors, we don’t need so many details as we’ve been described this same exact thing before. Example: We know the monitors are large, we know the Dustbowl is an urban combat training facility, we know the two robots are gray and tan. Just cleaning this section out will make this part read faster. Reading information already given multiple times can cause readers to skim and you don’t want that.
Pg.64-65--Now, I don’t know what draft this is but from the logline I went in really excited to see these robots kick some ass. Instead, before we even approach the goal of the logline Mark and Darius are magically saved by Khaldoun and Ghassan. Personally, I don’t like this.
Pg. 74-- Now that I’m further ahead, I understand what you were going for. There’s a good ticking time bomb here. Saif’s catching up, help is far away… the problem is Mark escaping before the robots get there is good, but he should not be aided by those two men. Mark should pull some bad ass shit out (he’s a SEAL after all) and escape while Saif is gone pissing or something. As is, this chase scene is really good. It’s just how they escape that’s bothering me. The one rule from Pixar’s 22 rules of storytelling thing that I think really resonated with me was, “Coincidences to get characters into trouble are great. Coincidences to get characters out of trouble are cheating.” The whole Khaldoun and Ghassan thing feels like a cheat, especially because they have to explain why they’re helping.
Pg.82--I think it would be much more cinematic if the pod landed right in front of the men. From “pod” I imagine the robot will pop out. If the pod lands in front of all the men and they all stop, stare at it, then the robot bursts out--that’s a great moment and a much stronger entrance. Having Saif send men to investigate it isn’t super exciting right now.
Pg.85--I love the robots just standing there while Chad is having an asthma attack. That’s great. Again, I think it would be more cinematic if the enemies were closer and didn’t need binoculars to be like, “The fuck is it doing?” Also, the subtitled “WTF?” is a hilarious touch. Love it.
Pg.86--It should not be that easy to destroy the Spooks. Are they not bulletproof? If they are made to engage in combat, you would think that the government would make the investment to ensure that they’re not going to be destroyed by the bullets they’re bound to take on. One robot does need to be taken down, but it really should not happen so easily and so quickly. What’s the point of having these robots as soldiers if they go out of commission as easily as humans? It’s just more money.
Pg. 94--Great ending. Set up for a sequel very nicely. This was a fantastic read. Wow. Great job!
Overall: I don't expect you to take all (or even any) of my suggestions. I know I made quite a few, but I really think you have something special here. It was an outstanding job. I'm curious as to whether this was your first draft or not. I think with some rewriting (and it would be pretty basic rewriting) this could do really well in the spec market. Congratulations!! :) read
by D J Sheridan on 06/17/2012INTRO: This idea of yours is an interesting one, similar to some films that are out there but this was still an interesting read. PLOT: To rescue his son from execution in Afghanistan, a government scientist employs two underachieving - but skilled - video gamers to remote pilot his experimental assault robots. This feels like an idea based loosely on War Games, Universal... INTRO:
This idea of yours is an interesting one, similar to some films that are out there but this was still an interesting read.
To rescue his son from execution in Afghanistan, a government scientist employs two underachieving - but skilled - video gamers to remote pilot his experimental assault robots.
This feels like an idea based loosely on War Games, Universal Soldier and Digital Man… with Avatar thrown in, obviously not from the ‘alien’ POV.
Areas of concern…
Some parts of this script really need throwing onto the floor. The basketball scene is not necessary as it creates a lull in the flow. That said there’s no need to keep things on an adrenaline high is there?
You have Doc as the main character but you really ought to think of having Chad the main.
Also you have given the game away nearly from the off. Your synopsis screams everything that this is about. It might be good to lend a little incognito to the story instead of telling us that 2 gamers are going to save the day.
DOC is the kind of guy who wants to impress but is afraid of failure -similarly he feels this with his son, CHAD and due to his other son, MARK, being in the military he feels Chad has been lost to him. But when his project becomes the next best military thing he uses Chad, which becomes his downfall. Although you do kind of set it up on a slight level, you’d be better using this to create conflict between Chad and Doc. Show what their relationship is like with conflict conflict conflict. Then create more conflict when Doc tries to get Chad to help out his brother.
CHAD is great as a good-for-nothing lazy kid who just like to play on-line video games. His couldn’t-care-less attitude seems great here.
JESSICA is a great female support character for Doc. It would have been great for her and Chad to perhaps have chemistry leading to their getting together.
Areas of concern…
You have way too many characters with names that we can’t keep track of them. Cut them out or just have them fill space warranted to be filled by using TECH #1 or some such to define them as being non-descript to the plot.
This did feel wooden on many occasions, but on the whole it did flow nicely.
Areas of concern…
You use Parenthesis too much during the course of your script. If removed this would free up about 2 pages for much better dialogue and more of your great Action pieces.
You have good visual writing ability and that showed through this script. Only a few minor details that could be brushed up on but for the most it was well defined to be clear.
Areas of concern…
What are we ‘seeing’ here? You first have the robot on the LEFT GIANT SCREEN, then you say a TECHNICIAN closely inspects the robot.
Now from what I’m reading here the ‘Robot’ is out in the desert and the Screen shows it. Do you mean the Technician inspects the robot on the screen? Seems confusing.
…stand motionless in the in the center of… - s/b stand motionless in the center of…
FORMATTING (Scene Headings, Inserts, Transitions, etc.):
This looks amateurish. Have your Title in capitals within speech marks then miss a line and have your ‘by’ line, miss another line and have your name.
Also the contact details would be best lower left corner and not in a centralized way.
You use TITLE: for text to appear on screen. This is okay for TV but in film it should be SUPER: or SUPERIMPOSE:.
Also you start this Scene with an EXT. Scene then without entering an INT. Scene you have CONTROL ROOM. This is confusing for the reader as we would take it that all Action happens on an EXT. location.
The way you have it shows everything like the computers and screens are outside.
This was an interesting read and I enjoyed it totally. I would suggest a re-write to really make those action scenes stand out.
Main points to think about would be:-
1. How Doc is informed of MARK’s capture, etc. This does not show itself anywhere in the script. If it was me I’d be very concerned over my son’s capture in a war-torn area…
2. Why is the tech only keyboard and mice? Most gamers use joystcks and controllers, etc. so in this world you’ve developed it might be better to have it more future looking and such…
3. To me, TONY seems a lesser character. As Chad is the ‘black-sheep’ whereas Mark is the all singing all dancing military son, instead of Chad and his asthma it would be better to have Tony the one with asthma, collapse so that Chad could save his brother. That way it’s the all top bro being saved by the inferior brother.
Another idea might be to hook us into your world better by having the capture of Mark et al at the start, then SUPER: to a few weeks earlier at the robot test site.
OR you could have Mark’s capture then have the intro for Chad and Tony at their gaming chairs on-line. read
by victortiti89 on 06/16/2012First of all, congratulations for the title! It’s very well chosen.Just a note: You put your e-mail on the first page. Even if you registered the script, I think it’s only ok for Trigger Street labs. If you plan on posting it somewhere else, make sure nobody with bad intentions would ever see it. I’m sorry to mention this, but some of the dialogues don’t really sound like the... First of all, congratulations for the title! It’s very well chosen.Just a note: You put your e-mail on the first page. Even if you registered the script, I think it’s only ok for Trigger Street labs. If you plan on posting it somewhere else, make sure nobody with bad intentions would ever see it. I’m sorry to mention this, but some of the dialogues don’t really sound like the characters would speak. I am also making the same mistake, so I won’t be critical. Just try reading it out loud. If there is one thing you should re-write it’s the dialogue. Apart from that, formatting is great and the length is just fine.One thing, you capitalize some locations or words(eg:stops at the+ pause+ GUARD GATE, on the crest of a+ pause+ LARGE DUNE) which you deem important to create a certain pace associated with your story, to attempt captivating the reader.This isn’t really a bad thing, just check again to see whether it only works the way you wrote it, or it’s ok even if the were written in normal letters and without a line of their own. Apart from that, there isn’t much to be critiqued. You have an original idea and you put it well in your screenplay.
I’m not really keen on critiquing a story, since that is everyone’s job, and I’m not telling people what to write, and therefore I only try to stick to other aspects. However, your page count allows you to develop it even further. I mean, with 94 pages(95 if we count the title page), and with a concept as interesting as yours, it would be a shame not to exploit its full potential. You still have a few pages to use for this purpose, if you want to do more about that. Otherwise, the length is, like I said, perfect. Good luck with it! read
by RBin2011 on 06/14/2012Review the Spooky Elite This screenplay seems like the colorful action-packed daydream of an avid video gamer. It shows how, in the not-too distant future, ground wars can be fought remotely by robots. I imagine the next step would be both sides have robots, then the robots would find and battle with the contollers, and on and on. But I digress, onto the script. First,... Review the Spooky Elite
This screenplay seems like the colorful action-packed daydream of an avid video gamer. It shows how, in the not-too distant future, ground wars can be fought remotely by robots. I imagine the next step would be both sides have robots, then the robots would find and battle with the contollers, and on and on. But I digress, onto the script.
First, although the plot is fairly predictable, it is sprinkled with some interesting characters and the action keeps your attention. The main characters are fairly well developed, especially Doc, but there could be more. There are a few throwaway characters who serve only to detract from the plot i.e. tony's boss at the gas station, the two afghans who release Mark and Darius, the poor soul who is hanged and burned. Which, by the way, loses its impact because we don't know this character.
There are two antagonists, Said and Maj Hill. Hill is not believable, a stereotyped character who needs more subtlety, motivation and quirks in order to fulfill his role.
The character Mark needs more development. For example, what was his relationship with Chad like?
The subplot of Doc's divorce never really goes anywhere. This could be used to further character development. In summary, a good screenplay that could be improved by a less predictable plot, better character development and deletion or development of several secondary characters.
a few random thoughts and notations during my read-through:
A few spelling errors and repeated sentences/ clauses.
Pg 3 POV descriptions confusing
Pg 4 28 is awfully young for a Major
And he's already gunning for LTC?!
Pg Doc's remarks on divorce seem like clumsy exposition
Pg 12-13 nice transition to the brother in Afghanistan.
I have a problem with the development of Hill's character. A Major would never address a General this way, even with his connections. His ring polishing is an eye roller, as was his previous future rank modelling in the rest room. His ego and ambition can be shown in more interesting and subtle ways.
Pg 27 Beginning to wonder why Doc hasn't been notified of his son's capture..
Pg 28 i imagine the video game nerd is going to save the day. I hope not, too predictable.
It was weird to have Doc hauled off by the MP's, then seen next at his home as if nothing happened.
Pg 79 it seems highly unlikely that this weapons system, still early in development, would have active, armed units satellite deployed.
The action scenes seem realistic and vivid.
Well, I guess I didn't foresee the asthma attack, even though it was well foreshadowed, but seems senseless in that Tony saves the day. Would be more satisfying if it were Doc who mans the controls. And by the way, doesn't make sense that the creators of all this technology would be using keyboards/mouse. read
by Lexey on 02/25/2010Thank you for sharing your work. I do think that you have the beginnings of a good story, but it lacks focus in MHO. I’ll share my thoughts with you in hopes that they will help you in some way. First off, whose story is it? You open with Doc, and I think that is who you want your main character to be, but then you move on to Mark’s story. At that point, I began to... Thank you for sharing your work. I do think that you have the beginnings of a good story, but it lacks focus in MHO. I’ll share my thoughts with you in hopes that they will help you in some way.
First off, whose story is it? You open with Doc, and I think that is who you want your main character to be, but then you move on to Mark’s story. At that point, I began to wonder -- maybe it’s Mark’s. However, in the end, I found it to be Chad’s story. I think that if you base a rewrite on this aspect alone (making Chad the main character), it will solve the lack of focus. Your first 10 pages are so very important. You need to grab the reader’s interest. Take a good look at what you have up front:
Pgs. 1/2 –We are watching a battle scene with the robots.
Pgs. 3/7 – We meet Doc, Kirkland, Hill, and Jessica.
Pg. 8/10 – A virtual reality (video game) scene, then we meet Chad and Tony.
Maybe you can rearrange scenes in a way that will give the opening some spark, and end page 10 with an inciting incident that launches the main action of the story. What got my interest were the scenes with Mark, pages 15- 20. Suggestion: What if you shorten the scenes in Afghanistan. Make them all action, (void of dialogue), but write the action so that you know what’s going on -- quick shots taking us from the time the soldiers relax on the basketball court, to taking off urgently in the helicopter, to the point where we see rocket propelled grenades swarming toward the helicopter – then match dissolve that scene with a video game scene of a helicopter being blown up. Introduce Chad and Tony, followed by Doc walking in on the two slackers. Give us some real conflict. Chad has lived in Mark’s shadows. Never good enough in his father’s eyes, not like his hero brother. You hint of this, but avoid really going there. Put some flesh on these characters. I think if you concentrate on making us see the story through Chad’s eyes, instead of Doc’s, real drama would naturally develop.
From this point on you can move forward with Doc’s project, but we don’t need as much technical detail as you provide. The robot scenes felt very repetitive. First we saw Doc and Jessica fail to control them. Then we saw Doc teaching Chad and Tony to control them. Then the review board scene (Pg. 58) and finally the final fight scene with them in Afghanistan. In MHO that’s way too much repetition. Your scenes need to keep the story moving forward, providing new information with each step, and building to a climax. I think you do a good job with Mark’s scenes, but not so much with Doc’s. Get into his scenes as late as possible and out of them as soon as possible.
Also try to create scenes that show us, instead of tell us. There was a lot of dialogue that felt on the nose. Two examples of this is on page 12:
When you marry a cheating woman who
takes your life’s savings and retirement
funds in a divorce, I’d be interested to see if
you complain about coupons.
Okay, would he really say this to his own son? Or is it the way you figured you could get the back-story to the reader without having to show it?
He’s fine. Typical Mark, says he’s
whipping ass with his fellow seals in
Afghanistan and, when he’s done, he’s
coming back to whip your ass at basketball.
Think about this dialogue. They both know that he’s in Afghanistan, so would Mark really even write it that way? It feels expositional to me, not natural.
One last comment: In the end Chad has to be the hero, not Tony, and he has to be at the barbeque. This is his celebration, too.
Well, that’s all I have for you. I hope it helps you in someway. Keep working on this, because I do believe it’s got the bones to be a good story, just needs some meat on ‘em. Good luck.
by Centurio on 02/06/2010Overall- There's some decent stuff here, but a lot needs to be re-thought out to make this a story that really works. You have parts to build on, but it must be fleshed out. There are a few main areas that need work and some serious thought: 1) There is not one plot twist, story surprise or unique character. You have taken the easy route and given us 2 dimensional characters...
Overall- There's some decent stuff here, but a lot needs to be re-thought out to make this a story that really works. You have parts to build on, but it must be fleshed out. There are a few main areas that need work and some serious thought:
1) There is not one plot twist, story surprise or unique character. You have taken the easy route and given us 2 dimensional characters and a story that by page three every reader will be able to predict every single beat.
2) Emotion - honestly I could care less if the two guys get saved or the bad guy gets screwed at the end. They weren't believable enough characters that I cared about. Stories are important, but characters are what makes a story interesting. On your rewrite start with unique characters we can cheer for or no matter how good the underlying story is no one will care.
3) Major plot holes. Some of them I listed below. There are many others.
4) Structure - Exactly half of this screenplay is almost completely not necessary. That's a problem in structure.
Doc's dialogue is very OTN. Even for an egghead it's not very conversational. You're trying to hard to set up his character with OTN dialogue. Show us who he is more.Movies are action and visual.
You have some great transitions.
Every scene needs to advance the story. Does the basketball scene, etc do that. It seems wasted. Go right into a combat scene.
It's all so obvious. No subtlety in characters, plots.
Just not buying that the military would ever pull funding on a program that is doing as well as this one.
Just not buying that a robot that sophisticated is using a mouse and keyboard to control it.
At the halfway point and I cant help but think that all of the stuff in the lab is just wasted. This things going to be about saving Mark and Darius. Why not get right to it. It's the real story.
The whole expedited clearance things is to contrived. Maybe if he really didn't have them cleared it would work.
Another plot hole. They didn't attempt a rescue and then when they escaped they have to wait for nightfall? read
by MarcusLeary on 02/05/2010First off... Your first page is something to behold. Out of all the scripts that I’ve read on this site, this is the best first page I have read. Even though it doesn’t have any dialogue (the only page where that’s OK), it moved at a brisk pace, with just a little bit of mystery and really got you excited to read the rest. Unfortunately, it all peaked there. Great spots..... First off...
Your first page is something to behold. Out of all the scripts that I’ve read on this site, this is the best first page I have read. Even though it doesn’t have any dialogue (the only page where that’s OK), it moved at a brisk pace, with just a little bit of mystery and really got you excited to read the rest.
Unfortunately, it all peaked there.
-- The first page. I know I just talked about it, but it needs to be said again. The first page is wonderful.
-- On page 20:
“Bodies and equipment scattered in chaos. Patches of sunlight.
Dust. Moans of pain.”
This is the best line in the entire script. This should be what every line of action should be like. Quick and easy to read.
Reasons for the Rewrite...
10) The Title - Any time you need to explain what a title is means it probably isn’t that great of a title. Plus, it sounds more like a kid’s movie than what it is.
9) Exact Ages - Instead of saying “29” or “41”, jut put (Late 20’s) or (40’s). Readers hate it when you give exact ages.
8) Don’t Direct - Cut out every “ECU”, “POV”, insert and beat. This is all stuff for the director to do himself. Every once and a while you get to do it in a spec script, but it is never warranted here.
7) To many names - Doc, Kirkland, Hill, Jessica, Tony, Chad, Galvan, Diaz, Mark, Fujimoto, Cordell, Darius, Macano, Khaldoun, Saif, Santha.
The ideal script should have maybe six or seven people actually named. It order to make sure that people can follow along without a problem. This has sixteen.
Allot of these name have got to go.
6) Exposition - Read over pages 37 and 39 again. There is so much exposition going on here I felt like I was in science class. When it comes to exposition, the trick is to break it up throughout as many scenes as you can.
5) Cut all dialogue to 3 or 4 lines - Sounds insane, but dialogue blocks should rarely be longer than 4 lines. It makes it easier to digest while reading.
4) Pick a main character and stick with him - At a certain point, I had no idea who the main character was. Doc disappears for pages and pages at times.
3) Where’s the white space? - When you write a script, you want to make sure that there is more white on the page than black. Look over these pages:
3, 9, 15, 17, 20, 32, 34, 56, 80, 89
Not enough white space. No reader will get through any of these pages.
2) Structure - Go to Amazon.com. Search for “Save the Cat” and buy that book.
It may save this script.
1) CUT, CUT, CUT - Let me give you a secret about the people who need to read this script. The people that have the power to get this script made. The secret:
They don’t want to read your work.
They have five or six scripts that they need to get through a day. They want to find reasons to not read your work.
The best way to make sure that doesn’t happen is to cut, cut, cut.
On every single page of the script, cut at least a fourth of it. If not more. Get as much white as you can on the page. Because there is way to much to read in this script.
Where the script fails is in the focus. There is no focus in the story. If you were to ask me what this story was about, I would have no idea what to tell you. At a certain point, I had no idea what was going on.
There is a long way to make this script work. But that first page is so good, that I know that you can do it.
If you can get every page to look like that one, you will be golden.
- Writer: Christopher Begley
- Uploaded by: chrisdonald
- Length: 93 pages
- Genre: action, sci-fi/fantasy
- Bio: I'm your normal college dropout trying to make a life. I like screenplays because I always go to the movies and say "I could do better than that". As the old story goes, "Easier said than done"..and now I'm trying to learn the craft. If I do..great! If not..that's cool too. I am in the company of a lot of great writers with great ideas and that's reward enough. Best of Luck to You All! -Chris
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