An excerpt from Reals’ script review for MUTE which will be available 02/24/18:
What Needs Work
Pg. 1 – 2 – I don’t think we really needed to spend 2 pages showing that he is Mute because of an accident he suffered as a child. A wise person once told me “Just because your main character has a disability, doesn’t give them a Save the Cat Moment or a reason for your audience to root for that character.” That is lazy writing. Find a way to make us care for the character, disability or no, and we will be all-in on your story.
See IT (2017) where there is no given reason to like any of the kids (in fact, many of them were downright annoying) so the film feels empty. It is also a cheap sympathy grab that they gave Bill (Jaden Lieberher) a stutter that is forgotten about for large stretches of the film and never really comes back or matters in any significant way.
Pg. 5 – 6 – I can’t help but think that this would be more effective if, instead of hearing the conversation (and seeing it) we would have witnessed it from Leo’s POV – he can’t hear them, but he knows they’ve talked. It would give him something to explore later in the film and we, as an audience, would be curious.
Pg. 8 – Another pet-peeve of mine (there are many, so stay tuned!) is when you have like multiple things happening in parentheses.
First of all, you should be careful and only use parentheses sparingly. Second of all, just use it for a quick note to your readers/actors about how the line should be delivered if it is ambiguous or hard to tell just from reading.
For example, in this script, we have:
(to Leo, as he rubs the back of his neck)
Which could (and should) easily be:
Yuri rubs the back of his neck nervously, his beady eyes flitting around the room.
Pg. 10 – Walls of text – throughout the script – make a reader pass out and made me skim some of the description.
Pg. 13 – I guess this is the same universe as Moon, but you have to be really confident that people have seen/read your other work to include that, otherwise it just seems strange and pretentious.
I didn’t really like the inclusion here, it didn’t feel necessary.
Pg. 15 – For a universe/time so advanced, it is strange that they have Starbucks or at least the reference felt odd.
Pg. 19 – It’s interesting that Leo doesn’t know how to use a cell phone. How has he survived this long without some means of emergency communication?
Pg. 20 – As I have said before, I HATE dream sequences (with a capital H) and these especially don’t do anything for me. They just add page length, don’t advance the plot and don’t really add anything to the story.
Pg. 21 – 26 – We can get a quick and dirty scene of the surgery (and Cactus Bill and Duck operating) without having to spend a full six pages on it.
Pg. 39 – It is kind of hard to believe that Leo and Naadirah were dating, living together, working at the same place and yet he still had no idea she was a prostitute or was involved in a lot of shady business?
NOTE: We are really spending a LOT of time with Cactus Bill – more so than Leo and, honestly, I am having trouble caring about Leo or his plight because we were never really given a moment to connect with him (a BEFORE image as Blake Snyder calls it).
Pg. 48 – For a guy who couldn’t work a cell phone, Leo is pretty adept with a PDA (are those even still in use in the future?)
Pg. 59 – 60 – I had trouble really following (or caring about) this conversation. The story is starting to drag and feel repetitious with no real forward progress.
Pg. 68 – I am sure that there is a reason we are spending so much time with Cactus Bill and Duck, but it honestly kind of hurts the story because we are jumping around so often that it could be argued that Leo is just a supporting character in the story.
What I would suggest and what would help the story immensely is to stick with a POV (Leo, Bill, ect.) and stay with it. That way we can uncover the mystery with Leo and, occasionally, cut to Bill for some added mystery or intrigue.
Pg. 68 – Was it ever any question that Duck was a pedophile? Why is Bill acting so surprised by this?
NOTE: Duck and Bill are calling each other “Babe” a lot. This may be a European thing, but I have never heard it.
Pg. 67 – 79 – This is a HUGE intermission from Leo and our main plot which I skimmed because it was very tedious reading and, at this point, I don’t really even care that much about Leo, his mission or any of these characters in this story.
Pg. Pg. 81 – The Josie is Naadirah’s daughter is not as big of a twist as the writer would like to have you believe. And, again, at this point, I would be surprised if any readers were still following the story.
Pg. 85 – This is supposed to be our big action scene, watching Leo take down these bad guys, but it’s too little too late.
Pg. 90 – We didn’t need a CUT TO: and then another scene heading with the same information – just do something like this:
INT. CACTUS’ HOUSE – NIGHT
Leo runs crashes through, throwing open a door and entering —
It is much smoother that way.
Pg. 91 – Spare me the FLASHBACKS, please.
We get it – Cactus broke in and kidnapped Leo’s girl. Two pages of FLASHBACKS is unnecessary, especially when it all could easily be summed up in one line or, better yet, just hinted at (leaving the actual event open for a little interpretation – after all, she had a lot going on Leo didn’t know about, maybe she went willingly).
Pg. 92 – I guess we’re supposed to care here, but I don’t. See WHAT WE CAN LEARN #2 for more on this.
Pg. 93 – That was honestly one of (if not THE) most anti-climatic deaths I have ever seen.
We have spent SO MUCH time with this guy and setting up for a big revelation/reveal and then showdown that the actual 4 paragraph “fight” is a letdown.
Pg. 95 – This is creepy with Duck (the pedophile) now being able to get to Josie, but it isn’t some kind of shocking horror (again, see WHAT WE CAN LEARN #2) and honestly just kind of feels mean-spirited and gross.
Pg. 97 – We are just testing my patience. Tying up loose ends we don’t really care about – it all needs to be more streamlined and smooth.
Pg. 100 – Now we are going to have the cliche of “Bad guy doesn’t kill the hero when given every opportunity so that our hero can break free and escape”?
You can all do better than this (unless your story is a sort of James Bond parody in which you are specifically poking fun at this trope).
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