Thursday, 30 April 2009


The other day, I posted part 2 of my top 100 movies to see before you die. In there, I talked about HOUSE OF FLYING DAGGERS. My words couldn't do it justice. Even if martial arts movies aren't your thing, or you usually shy away from reading subtitles on foreign films, I can't urge you enough to watch this film. Here's an amazing video that I found on youtube, put together by amy1bm from Barnsley. It features various clips put to the brilliant musical score from the film:

Monday, 27 April 2009

100 movies to see before you die - part 2 (adventure and martial arts)

This is the second part of my 100 movies to see before you die series. Again, this isn't in any order, but just split into genre. You can read Part 1 (war) here.

RAIDERS is a timeless adventure classic. The first of the INDIANA JONES movies, it's never been beaten. The now standard action-filled opening was practically sired by this film. We see two great sides of Indiana Jones - the sophisticated professor and the flirtatious adventurer. The film is an adrenaline ride from the off and takes us through one of the most exciting adventures ever in cinema. It also hosts probably the best chase scene in Western cinema, as well as exploding Nazi heads! What more can you ask for from a movie. It's just a shame that none of the sequels could match up to the same excitement.

THE MUMMY films have always been viewed as the poor man's INDIANA JONES. I disagree entirely. While there are clear elements that are similar, the sagas are very different. The best thing about THE MUMMY RETURNS is that it does its job as a sequel - it's twice as big, twice as exciting and twice as entertaining. With great stunts, dialogue, direction and storytelling, THE MUMMY RETURNS is one of the best adventure movies out there. Take writer and director Stephen Sommers away from the helm however, you get the disgustingly terrible THE MUMMY 3 - everything that made the first two good were gone. The result - the worst film of 2008.

91. FEARLESS (2006)
Jet Li cunningly declared this his last martial arts epic. He lied. Nevertheless, FEARLESS is brilliant biopic of martial artist Huo Yuan Jia. From childhood through to adulthood, Jet Li is perfectly cast and the choreography is top notch. Much more than a martial arts epic, FEARLESS is a brilliantly told true story of revenge, trickery and honour. And the ending is the best I've ever seen in a Jet Li film.

90. HERO (2002)
HERO is the brilliant story of a band of assassins who are intent on bringing down the tyrant Qin. Shot through flashback, a Nameless warrior (Li) claims to have killed the assassins. As he tells stories of the battles (allowing for beautiful action), Nameless is able to move closer and closer to the paranoid ruler. The audience gradually begins to realise that Nameless is not all he seems. What better way to get close enough to the tyrant to kill him, than to kill his enemies. Upon realising the trick, ruler Qin is faced with a decision - let the assassin go or make an example. Keep in mind that Qin went on to become the first Emperor of China and united the provinces of his country. A Brilliantly crafted story with truly amazing realisation and action.

Bruce Lee's most famous film and easily the best martial arts epic ever made. It's the movie that really brought Chinese martial arts over to the west and made it popular. Tense fight scenes are littered throughout and while they may now seem basic, in their time, they were the best of the best. The film is of course haunted by the death of Bruce Lee just three weeks before it hit cinemas in America. This martial arts movie will definitely live on as one of the best action epics ever made.

This biopic of martial artist Bruce Lee is easily as good as the man himself. Starting off in China, we follow Lee as he sets out to make a name for himself in the USA. Jason Scott Lee is spot on as the famous fighter and does the legend justice. While the fight scenes aren't exactly amazing, the film is more than a martial arts movie. It's a great biopic that dives deep into the professional and personal life of Bruce Lee and never shies away from testing topics such as racism and oppression. It's a true inspiring tale of the dedication of the true martial arts master.

87. UNLEASHED (2005)
I was in two minds as to where to place this film. Yes, it's a martial arts film, but really it's simply a film with martial arts. Bob Hoskins plays a London gangster who is always safe with his bodyguard Danny the Dog. Danny was trained in martial arts from childhood and forced to fight for his life. He was conditioned so that when his dog collar is on, everything is fine. But take that collar off and the dog is loose - Jet Li instantly explodes into a brutal killing machine. Combining traditional kung fu with street fighting, the choreography is amazing and terrifying. Danny soon befriends blind pianist Sam, played by the amazing Morgan Freeman. The cast alone tells you what you need to know - so much more than a martial arts movie, this film tells the story of a man who is effectively a child and a danger to all those around him. Very emotional and touching, the acting is superb and at no point in Jet Li out-shinned by Freeman or Hoskins. If you thought Jet Li was just a fighter, think again.

The huge appeal of this film is the story. A blind outcast is being held prisoner when a warrior breaks in and rescues her. But things soon develop into a beautifully told love story. The film was nominated for a cinematography Oscar and for good reason. Truly spectacular visuals add to the depth of the plot and make the film a three course meal for the eyes. This seems to be one of those martial arts movies with glamorous moves and action, however, as the film progresses, the combat becomes more and more realistic and brutal. The film's finale is the most touching moment, with every emotion exposed and ripped to shreds. HOUSE OF FLYING DAGGERS is a great lesson in character storytelling and lets the world know that martial arts movies aren't just about the action.

Saturday, 25 April 2009

New professional website

Taking a leaf out of Michelle's book, I decided to make myself a professional website a few weeks ago. Again through Michelle's recommendation, I used weebly to make the site. It's a fantastic site and so easy to use. In just a few hours I'd put everything on there I wanted.

The annoying thing was that my domain address had the word "weebly" in there. It's hardly professional to have that in your website. So I decided to bite the bullet and buy a domain (for under £8). I went to and spent a long time trying to find a decent site name. I thought about neilbakerwrites (but that limits what I'm saying I'll do). Then I thought about neilbakeraction (because I write a lot of action, but again - limiting. In the end, I went with Because I create things, you see?

Alas that wasn't the end. I then encountered insane problems with the website. I couldn't get it to show up at all. I googled 123-reg and discovered that they're famously crap. Everyone else seems to have problems with them. I found a number for them (after searching for hours) and gave them a call. They now assure me that the website is perfectly fine and will continue to work.

It seems to be ok at the moment, but I strongly advise against 123-reg!

Anyway, take a look at my professional website and let me know what you think. It's got details on the services I offer, projects, testimonials and even a sample from this here blog.

Thursday, 23 April 2009


In an earlier post, someone answered the poll question commenting that they were unsure what a treatment is. So I figured it might be something worth going over.

A treatment is essentially a synopsis or story summary (typically between 3 and 7 pages) - your story in prose form. It's also a pitch. Your treatment should be a work of art in itself. If you get in touch with a producer telling them your basic premise for the film (one paragraph explaining what the film is about), they may respond by asking for a treatment. This is because to read a feature screenplay could take days. Whereas a treatment could be read over in just a couple of hours.

I don't have much experience of treatments as pitch documents, however there are various websites you can go to and find samples. A good treatment can be downloaded here.

I often use treatments to actually write my scripts. Very few people write films as they go along, with no planning whatsoever. I've tried it before and sometimes produced some good material, but it's hardly ideal - you always need to know what you're trying to say and where the story is going. Without any form of planning, this is almost impossible. Other writers have the idea fully mapped out in their heads and work from that. Until a few months ago, I wrote everything down in a document and used that. Depending on the idea, the document would vary in length and detail.

So treatments can help you write your story. My treatments tend to do the following:
  • Have a characters section (so I know who I've got). This forces me to think about their motives first.
  • ACT I - everything that happens here. The opening and the catalyst (or inciting incident that kicks everything off)
  • ACT II - the bulk of the story - lots of character development. End with a 'point of no return' moment - characters are usually at their lowest point.
  • ACT III - how the characters deal with their low point and the finale.
  • I bullet point every scene and when it's written, it gets ticked off.
This is a very simple and broad use of a treatment and other writers have much more detailed ones. For example, some people put dialogue in and really go into the depths of their characters. I tend to put dialogue in only if it's something very good or something to remind me about a moment etc. Also, if I have a particularly great moment, I'll write that in the treatment in some detail. Other than that, most of my treatment is broad, generally not exceeding more than 4 pages (5 at the most).

Rather than go into elaborate detail about how something will be done, I tend to say what will be done. For example, this is a segment from the treatment I'm using for my scriptwriting module at uni:
We learn that the antidote is made by scientists at Command. Tonya explains that she was in a coma. She says where her family lived and Nix explains that they're definitely dead. Tonya has no-one left in the world.
This is a classic example of telling rather than showing. Rather than waste time writing out all the dialogue (revealing exposition etc) I've decided to say what the scene will achieve.

What's important to note about the above sample is that it's hardly great writing. This isn't a great example as a good treatment should be (as I said earlier) a work of art in itself. However, this is a bit of exposition (revealing what the audience needs to know). It's boring.

Other parts of the treatment (where there is more excitement) are more detailed and written better. This creates the same effect that the film would, be it emotion, tension, drama etc.
Suddenly, two more Roamers race round the corner, heading towards them. Gaining fast. Loki is a little frantic, hurrying Rider. But the sniper is perfectly calm. He takes his time (a long time) to target the first of the Roamers. A shot rings out and down it goes - head shot. Loki stands up, cocking his heavy shotgun, ready to do his thing. Another shot is fired. The second Roamer crashes into the ground.
This is a lot better example. It has the same effect on the reader as the film would have on the audience.

So that's basically how I write them. My treatments are documents I use to write from. Every scene is present but depending on the desired effect of those scenes, some are more detailed than others.

Tuesday, 21 April 2009

Bond realism

The other day, I was trying to write the opening for my BOND movie. And before anyone says anything, yes it is possible to get a BOND script made. And no, it's no a breach of copyright unless you actually make it.

So anyway, BOND movies practically made the classic action opening - a full blown action sequence in the first 10 minutes. Every action film since has done this. The action in BOND has never been particularly realistic. What I love about the new BOND movies (with Daniel Craig) is the hard hitting, brutal and realistic fight scenes. Adam Kirley (Daniel Craig's stunt double) does a brilliant job of getting the action just right. I've spoken to him about it and he seems so grounded in it all. If I were him, I'd be like "Look! That's me! That's me falling from that thing! Look!"

Anyway, openings don't get much better or more spectacular than CASINO ROYALE:

It's clear to see that this action isn't the most realistic, but the combat is. No fancy moves or spinning kicks - just put your opponent down as fast as possible. Take this scene - frighteningly realistic and brutal for a BOND movie:

So in writing the first five pages of my BOND movie, I was faced with a dilemma - how do I make a spectacular opening but keep the action realistic? I've decided to make the opening spectacular in a different way.

The action is brutal (as per new BOND movies) and realistic, but what is spectacular is the question I've asked - how the hell did Bond get into this situation? I won't say what that situation is (just in case someone is reading who would either a) steal it, or b) kill me for it).

I'm not sure if the opening does its job yet. I know it's a great action sequence, but is it right for the opening? Only time will tell...

Sunday, 19 April 2009

Write alone - poll result & new survey

Last month, I asked people whether they prefer to write alone or with a partner. You can check out my thoughts on this here. The results are in.

66% of people would rather work with a writing partner and 33% prefer alone time. As I said in my blog about it, writing with someone else is a lot of fun and the encouragement is also a plus. But the main bonus that comes with solo writing is that it's your idea and it stays your idea. It also means that you get full credits assuming you sell the script. Full credits = full money. Shared credits = shared money. However, it's no good writing a particular piece alone if you don't make it all it can be. There are some ideas I'd never attempt alone so I'd rather share credit than not get it made.

New question:
Do you work from a treatment?
- Always
- Never

- Sometimes

- I don't know what one is
If you want to elaborate, feel free to do so in the comments section of this post. And while we're here, this is a shiny thing I found while searching for a pic to go with this post. Take a looky:

UPDATE: Someone has answered the poll question saying they don't know what a treatment is, so if there's call for it, I'll do a blog post this week all about treatments - what they are, why you need them, what production companies want with them etc.

Friday, 17 April 2009

Whedon Metaphor

Here, David Bishop talks about metaphors used in Joss Whedon's work. He goes through the more obvious layers of BUFFY and then voices a very interesting idea on what DOLLHOUSE is a metaphor for.

This got me thinking about how Whedon's shows depend heavily on characters and their goals / missions. Let me explain.

SPOILER ALERT - If you haven't watched all of ANGEL, this will spoil it for you.

I'll talk about ANGEL. Angel is a vampire fighting for redemption. As the evil vamp Angelus, he killed countless numbers of innocent people. So he made a decision to make his new life count - he would help the helpless. He began by lending a helping hand to Buffy when she needed it. But after their hot, steamy sex, Angel went all evil again and as Doyle puts it (yes, I know almost every episode of ANGEL off by heart) -

"The technical term is perfect happiness and as soon as our boy gets there, he goes bad again. Kills again. It's ugly. So when he gets his soul back a second time, he figures he can't be anywhere near young Miss Puppy Thighs without endangering them both. So he takes off. Goes to LA to fight evil and atone for his crimes."

How's that for remembering a quote? I'm showing off? Really? Oh, chur-ni-duh.

Anyway, ANGEL is all about this guy trying to repent. Now, the idea is that when he's fought enough and stopped enough evil - when he has been forgiven for his sins - he will become human. Now at this point, Angel being Angel would keep on fighting. As he says to Spike - "What else we gonna do?"

But as soon as Angel has nothing to fight for, the show is over. ANGEL isn't about fighting evil, it's about why we're fighting evil. Without the will, Angel is still fighting, but not fighting for anything. So the character (and thus, show) would have no drive.

However, this remind me - at this point in season 5, Angel and Spike are having a good old heart to heart. Spike has just realised that he's going to go to hell. This actually makes for a superb episode - "Hellbound", as Spike is literally being dragged into hell. It's not often you see Spike scared, so watching our bad-ass vampire scream in pain and terror is always fun.

Right, so here, Angel tells Spike that yes, they're going to hell. So essentially, has Angel lost his will to fight already? In the final episode, he signs away the prophesy that would make him human. The thing that has driven him for 4 years has gone away. And why? He does it so he can take the Circle of the Black Thorn. He knows they're not getting out of there alive but he's going to make a difference. There's your theme.

If you've never really watched the show, this clip will serve as a trailer and will probably explain the whole redemption theme pretty well.

Thursday, 16 April 2009

100 Movies to see before you die - part 1 (war)

Over the next few months, I'll be doing a run-down of my top 100 movies to see before you die. Rather than rate them and put them in order 1 - 100, I've decided to categorise them into genre. First up, we have the WAR section. It's a royal shame I can't put BAND OF BROTHERS into here, but with it being a mini-series, it'll have to hang about until I go through my favourite television episodes of all time. As I've said, these are in no order, but here are the eight war movies that make it into my top 100.

100. SCHINDLER'S LIST (1993)
Pulling no punches at number 100 is Spielberg's most thought-provoking film to date. I first watched this at school when I was 14. I didn't really understand everything that was going on but even then I was stunned by the mastery of the story, characters and direction. Liam Neeson delivers his best ever performance as Oskar Shindler, a businessman who witnessed the devastating terror of genocide and managed to save over a thousand Jews from certain death. It doesn't top IMDb's best war movies list for nothing - a true masterpiece and one of the most powerful films ever made.

Staying with Spielberg, SAVING PRIVATE RYAN is the most powerful film I've ever seen. I remember watching this at school in an English class. Take a bunch of 15-year-old boys and tell them they're going to watch a war movie. The reaction is pure delight - blood, shooting, death - just what teenage boys want. We watched the movie from start to finish and no-one uttered a single word. We all just sat there, completely shocked by what we saw. I don't generally cry but if any film is going to make me - it's this one. From the assault on Omaha Beach to the defence of the bridge with Private Ryan, this film is the most brutal, realistic and amazing film in the genre.

Taking a new look at the Vietnam war, Robin Williams plays a radio host whose job it is to boost the moral of the American troops. The film rests a lot on a good understanding of the conflict and if you're not a fan of William's humour, you'll probably hate this film. Nevertheless, GOOD MORNING VIETNAM alternates between black comedy and brutal death, taking the audience on a mixed journey through the invasion.

97. PLATOON (1986)
Again, concentrating on the Vietnam war, PLATOON follows an American Private as he joins up with his squad and makes his way through the pillaged country. The film pulls no punches in its accurate portrayal of the conflict, often showing brutal murders and near-rapes by American soldiers. The best thing about this film is that it doesn't end at the close of the war. We follow one soldier's journey and as he leaves, the war continues. The tense character conflict throughout builds up to the most iconic image in 80s cinema - Willem Defoe's desperate cry for help upon his death.

96. BLACK HAWK DOWN (2001)
This Ridley Scott war adventure tells the story of the famous near-disaster when an 'indestructible' Black Hawk helicopter crashed in Somalia in 1993. The unique thing about this film is that it never focuses on one particular character. Rather than following one soldier through the conflict, we see every soldier's point of view. It takes some getting used to but allows for much more depth in the storytelling.

95. TEARS OF THE SUN (2003)
TEARS OF THE SUN tells the story of a Special-Ops squad who go behind enemy lines in Nigeria to extract an important doctor. With amazing gunfire and brutal realism, this film produces on every level. While focusing heavily on action, the character development is what drives the story and makes it one of the most emotional war movies to date.

94. TROY (2004)
If you can get past the annoyance of Brad Pitt's American accent, TROY is actually a very good war film. Based on Homer's The Illiad, we follow legendary warlord Achilles as he battles through the Trojan War. To do an accurate portrayal of Homer's work would be unreasonable. What works well in an ancient Greek epic poem, doesn't always transfer well onto screen. What the film excels at is in capturing the true character of Achilles and the relationship with his men. Combine that with spectacular action and battle scenes, you have a truly epic war movie.

93. 300 (2006)
300 received a lot of stick for its inaccuracy but as someone who knows a fair bit about the ancient Spartans, it's quite accurate. Captured through the unique eye of Zack Snyder, 300 follows King Leonidas as he marches out of Sparta and stares down the nose of thousands of invading Persians. A perfect tale of honour and bravery, 300 has captured the spirit of ancient Sparta and (semi)educated a whole generation in the warriors that were the Spartans.

Monday, 13 April 2009

David S. Goyer - The Dialogue

It would be an understatement to say that David S. Goyer was a successful screenwriter. The guy has written the likes of the BLADE trilogy, BATMAN BEGINS, THE DARK KNIGHT (story) and the upcoming X-MEN ORIGINS: MAGNETO movie. He's the go-to guy when it comes dark action films. Anyone who knows his work will have a very strong idea of what to expect from his writing.

The Dialogue is a shiny website hosting interviews with tonnes of great writers. You can see samples online and order the DVDs. Goyer's interview is extremely insightful and makes great viewing. Here is is for your viewing eyes:

Friday, 10 April 2009

Great Movie Openings

What makes a good opening to a movie? In my opinion, it's an opening that says something about the movie itself - grabs your attention, tells you what to expect, sets the tone, introduces characters etc.

My all time favourite opening is in SAVING PRIVATE RYAN. This assault on Omaha Beach is brutally shocking and brilliant cinema. It's made all the more powerful by the fact that it actually happened. The epic 20 minute long opening is split into two parts for your shiny viewing:



The TERMINATOR movies have always started with flashforwards to the nuclear war and a powerful voice over. The best one is by far in TERMINATOR 2: JUDGEMENT DAY. It very cleverly introduces John Conner, tells you what to expect in terms of tone and action and also pitches the movie to you. For some reason, I can't seem to embed any videos to this, so check it out on youtube here.

PULP FICTION has an incredible opening, again setting the tone for the movie. In classic Tarantino fashion, the witty dialogue and situation placing makes for brilliant comedy and drama:

Now think back to the first time you saw THE MATRIX - you had no idea what it was about. Who are the good guys? The bad guys? I didn't know. And it's that confusion that the opening plays on. Take a look as it ticks all those opening boxes - tone, characters, action, tension, interest, questions.

These are just a few of my favourite film openings. I could go on and on but then I'd be embedding videos all day. What are your favourite openings and why? Let me know.

Tuesday, 7 April 2009

X-Men + The OC = Blissful Hell?

I read about this in shiny SFX a few months ago and thought it might be a joke, but apparently Josh Schwartz is to make an X-Men film (or TV show). Schwartz has been very succesful on TV, his biggest feat being the creation of THE OC. But does this guy know anything about comic books?

The article is here - let me know what you think. Will it be great? Will is be absolute shite? I'm leaning towards the latter at the moment.
Resulting film would likely draw from elements of the Marvel comic of the same name, launched in 2006, and enlist such characters as Iceman, Rogue, Angel, Colossus, Jubilee and Shadowcat, who have appeared prominently or made cameos in prior pics.

Monday, 6 April 2009

Connor Conclusion

We're getting near the conclusion of TERMINATOR: THE SARAH CONNOR CHRONICLES over here in the UK (Thursdays 10pm, Virgin 1). The beginning of the season was top notch - easily as good as season 1. Then it hit a downfall. The middle episodes of T:tSCC have been a real disappointment, as I've been discussing with Dan here.

The first season had some really fun and cool scenes like this one:

The show got insanely boring and I was so close to forgetting the whole thing. To be honest, the only thing that kept me watching was my dedicated loyalty to all things Whedon. Summer Glau - who plays Cameron in T:tSCC - also played River in Joss Whedon's FIREFLY. I know she's an amazing actress. She proved this in every episode of FIREFLY, but for me, the only work that's come close in T:tSCC is this scene with John:

Dan says the finale is set to be pretty good, but who knows. The middle of the season was boring crap and nothing compared to the beginning. Although it is picking up - the last two episodes have been pretty good. For me, the shiny highlight of the season so far has been this scene in episode one.

Cameron has just been blown up (in the jeep) and Sarah and John are in a world of trouble. Something to note (for those who know what happens with John and that man in the room - why he is dead) - listen to the lyrics while Cameron is taking out man #1 - the song essentially narrates what is happening between John and man #2 in the room upstairs - very cleverly done. Check it out and let me know what you think:

Friday, 3 April 2009

Why TWILIGHT is a piece of fei-oo

This is a blog post about the film TWILIGHT as opposed to the book. I haven't read Stephenie Meyer so I have no idea about how much of the story is hers etc. So for all intensive purposes, I'm talking about the film and not the book. Every time I say the film is a bunch of crap, I just get a disbelieving sigh from fans. So it's time to justify my verdict.

First of all, the apparent primary appeal of this film seems to be Robert Pattinson. Everyone says he's a complete unknown; they're clearly forgetting that he played a supporting role in HARRY POTTER AND THE GOBLET OF FIRE a few years back and had quite a good death scene. Nevertheless, he seems to be the thing attracting viewers. This is something I really don't understand, but that's a matter of opinion. What exactly is the appeal of Robert Pattinson? Is he really that attractive? Maybe it's because I'm a heterosexual male, but I'm capable of appreciating that other men are attractive. Robert Pattinson I just don't get.

So that brings us to the audience. The film is aimed at (needless to say) readers of the book. They announce that the film is being made and you tend to get two reactions from fans. First off, they think "Ooooh, shiny Twilight as a film". Then comes the security response - "Bet it's going to be shit compared to the book". They cover themselves. That way, if the film is really bad, they've said that it's the fault of the film, not the book. Which is true.

The film clearly targets young females. The plot is essentially "A teenage girl risks everything when she falls in love with a vampire". It's escapism for teenagers. Young women long to be swept up and carried to a far away land where normal, boring things don't happen. The risk of danger adds to the appeal. There's also that sexy vampire thing going on as well.

So if a film satisfies its target audience (teenage girls), has it done its job? In a way, yes. You can almost guarantee that no 14 year old girl is sitting down thinking about the poor dialogue, anti-climax ending or poor character development. They're seeing an 'attractive' vampire swooping in to take a normal girl out of her boring life. Job done.

This brings us onto the whole sexy vampire theme. It's something that's been done time and time again. Right from the birth of cinema, vampires have been portrayed as sexy characters (disregarding Nosferatu of course). So this is nothing new. If it were done well, we might be able to get past this, but the fact of the matter is that it's practically impossible to fulfill the sexy vampire role in a teenage film. For that, you're going to need an 18 rating and possibly leather. And even if we just focus on the imagined appeal of a vampire - without showing explicit content and thrusting bloodsucking into the viewers' face - it still doesn't produce. There are a few scenes where Edward is desperately close to Bella, but for me, that just seems like a poor substitute to the chemistry between Buffy and Angel.

The acting isn't bad. Obviously it's not Oscar-worthy, but it's not as if the stars are given desperately emotional scenes. If you think they were, turn the sound off in a truly emotional scene and it'll still be emotional. That's not the case in TWILIGHT. Too much of the emotion comes from the musical score. Film is a visual medium and that's what should come first.

For me, the best acting in the film comes from Kristen Stewart. She does her best with the choppy dialogue and awkward moments, but that's all. If she were given a more powerful role, I'm sure she'd do better.

Dialogue time. In any film like this, there are going to be some majorly corny lines, but people will forgive that for the sort of film it is.

Bella: How old are you?
Edward: Seventeen.
Bella: How long have you been seventeen?
Edward: A while.

Not exactly Shakespeare but we can get past it. But can we really deal with horrible lines like;

Bella: I'm not scared of you.
Edward: You really shouldn't have said that.

Where does that come from?! Telling someone you're not afraid of them is a bad thing? A good thing? A funny thing? Either way, it's horrible, pointless dialogue.

James - the badass of the piece (but I'm coming to this) - says this line: "Beautiful. Very visually dynamic. I chose my stage well". No self-respecting tracker vampire who hunts people for fun would ever say anything like that.

I could go on and on, but I think I've made my point about the dialogue. As bad as it is, it does have a few funny, ironic lines, but nothing original or unique.

The structure of the movie. Along the way, we begin to realise that something is killing off townspeople. Readers of the book knew exactly who was responsible, but for the average audience, it seemed highly likely that it was one of Edward's family. Then suddenly - about two thirds of the way in - we meet the bad guys. Let me explain something they teach right at the beginning of screenwriting - introduce your villains early on.

The audience likes to know where they stand. Every action film shows the villain near the beginning so people know who they are. It gives time for the audience to appreciate and accept them as dangerous. This isn't the case in TWILIGHT. They come in and we suddenly realise that maybe it was them killing everyone. Ok, but the way they killed them was nothing special.

To really show that these vamps are badass, there should have been an earlier scene where we realise who they are and what they can do. Also, the only reason these vampires can be seen as 'bad' is because of who you compare them to. The Cullen family is all dressed up in nice shiny baseball outfits. Enter the bad guys - dressed in leather and walking slowly. If you take them and dump them in another film, they suddenly become less scary - Blade - for example - makes them look like teletubbies.

Essentially, James is the dangerous antagonist. He is apparently an unstoppable hunter. He likes to track and kill his prey but we have no real evidence of this so he's not scary. There should be a scene earlier on where James displays expert hunting skills, shows no mercy and kills someone in an extremely gruesome fashion. But alas this never came.

The Cullen family try to tempt him away and hit him with the old bait and switch. But James doesn't fall for it. Again, nothing original here. Even I could work out (in his position) that I was being tricked. So he finds Bella, breaks her leg, then Edward turns up. There's a tiny fight, then James is killed out of frame. This is a vampire who is "never gonna stop", yet after a small fight, a few baseball-playing vampires manage to can his ass. A very unsatisfying ending.

The entire film now rests on characterisation. There is none. A few characters learn a few things, and others get a bit happier, but there's nothing big. No character arc really.

Annoyingly, the film opens with Bella's narration, explaining who the guy sitting next to her is. He's her cop father. Oh, because we didn't understand that what with him calling her "sweetie" and wearing a cop's jacket and hat. The voice over is completely unnecessary.

All in all, the film fails to produce to the full extent. I think they tried to be too much like the book, forgetting that what works on the page rarely works on screen. So many of these problems could have been avoided had the film makers read a few screenwriting books and given their audience more respect.

I think that's all I have to say on TWILIGHT but it's been a while since I've seen it. If you want to tell me your opinion - agree, or shout your gorram head off at me - feel free to comment or even e-mail me -


Thursday, 2 April 2009

War epics

It's been a busy week for me - hence the time since the last post. What with more organising of MICHAEL'S RESIGNATION and other projects as well as uni work and my part-time job, there hasn't been too much time for blogging. But guess what - I've got 2 weeks off from uni! Yay for me! I'll be doing uni work in the first week, but week 2 is all for writing, which will be nice and relaxing. Or do I mean insanely stressful.....? I'll also have some time for a social life, fancy that!

Anyway, for some random reason, I decided I'd like to write a war epic. I'm not talking about a film, I'm talking about a mini-series - think BAND OF BROTHERS set in a futuristic war with Brits. I spent a long time last night brainstorming...oops...sorry...mind mapping. Actually, my name for this is this - you're not doing a brainstorm, your doing a creative diagram. Sounds fancy and bullshitty yes? Good.

Anyway, I want my war epic to consist of 10 one-hour episodes, showing the adventures of a platoon in a futuristic war. That means at least 600 pages of warfare writing. Stupidly difficult but so much fun!

I've already decided that there will be no fancy laser guns or plasma grenades. For all intensive purposes, this is a brutal, realistic and risky futuristic war series.

I don't have a solid story yet (or even their primary, series mission) but there are a few ideas floating around. I enjoy the (cliched) idea of the band of soldiers having to retrieve some vital piece of info and escape enemy lines. But that's been done too many times. The plan now is to use that and exploit it, maybe adapting the idea or throwing it out the window early on.

Anyway, that's what I'm gradually working on at the moment.

In other news, I joined this facebook group Film Blogs. It does what it says on the tin. The creator saw my blog and decided to tell the rest of the group about it, which is always flattering. I urge you to join the group and network - a very useful tool and a great community.

I also received an e-mail from a chappy, asking me to read through his script to add an English perspective to it. Again, rather flattering and it shows that someone out there is actually reading all these random blog posts. So readers - I thank you.

At uni, I'm writing a script for one of my modules. Apparently I'm on track for a good grade in that, which bores well for next year; instead of writing a 10,000 word dissertation, I'm handing in one of my feature scripts. It's already in the first draft so I'm about two months ahead of everyone else. Mua haha. Mine is an evil laugh!

I think that's it really; lots going on and it's all good fun. Now back to some uni work and random messages with the MR crew. Have a shiny day.