This script (or movie if Tom Cruise has his way) is essentially Groundhog’s Day set to the opening scene of Saving Private Ryan. Now, I like Groundhog’s Day, and I even liked the short lived TV series Day Break featuring Taye Diggs, and this script has a very cool premise. What I don’t like is the idea of seeing the D-Day type scene over and over again.
Here’s why. The D-Day scene in Saving Private Ryan is easily the best WW2 scene ever, and probably among the greatest movie scenes ever. It was very well done, so much so that it’s been recreated in one Medal of Honor game, and Call of Duty used it in at least two different games. So not only is it going to be hard to top a great cinematic scene, but you’re target market has also been beat over the head with it.
My suggestion before we actually start the technical stuff, have them fight ANYWHERE else but the beach, and storming up a cliff next to said beach.
With that off my chest, here we go. (I actually liked the script, lol.)
1.) Can we visualize the description?
Harper does a good job of putting us into the scene. It might not be the flowery language that Roy tends to like, but as this is an action movie, there’s enough description to give us a lucid picture in our minds and not bog us down with details.
HOWEVER, I am taking off one single little point here for TWO reasons.
One, when describing the invasion by the Mimics, Harper said North America was lost. He then goes on to tell us that the UDF (we do know that’s a Midwest chain of convenience stores right?) base is in Mexico, and parts of Canada are poisoned by the Mimics. Um, not to go all PC on you, but North America is not just the USA, you know that right?
The second half of the subtracted point is talking about the battle of Florida. Harper tells us Disneyland is in ruins around our marines when Rita wins the battle. Disneyland is in California, Disney World is in Florida. I know I’m nit-picking, but you piss off A LOT of Disney junkies when you get this wrong. (To be fair, most of the point was lost for the oversight of elementary geography.)
9 out of 10 points.
2.) Does the author use an acceptable format?
The version I have is a shooting script. It’s acceptable for that format, since the guidelines are looser. I would suggest though, for our readers here, to NOT write your actual script in this manner. Use one of the other scripts we reviewed as a template.
No points lost, but I did have a hard time in a few spots, as WORDS were capitalized that weren’t characters, actions, OR sounds, so I’m not SURE what the PURpose was. Also,
for what SEEMED like random PURPOSES.
10 out of 10 points though, but DON’T SEND out a script like this if you’e an unknown quantity.
3.) Is the dialogue free of exposition and rich in subtext? Does each character have a unique voice?
Alright, this part needs to be fixed. Rita sounds unique, as does Cage, Farell, and Yono, but there’s a BUNCH of supporting soldier characters that are all too similar. For this script, this will probably be hammered out during production, but as you write your own script remember to keep supporting characters on a short list and ONLY if they are necessary.
Since I’m reviewing this script however, I’m taking off points for too many similar characters and the LAME back and forth between Rita and Cage like on page 78:
You fight with your eyes. You’ve
got to fight with your heart.
There are more examples of this sort of dialogue with the rushed romance near the end, but this example sums up what bothered me.
6 out 10 points.
4.) Does the writer understand the challenges and rewards posed by the medium in which they’ve chosen to tell his/her story? Shorthand version of this is: Is it a movie and not a play?
Again, I tend to like tent-pole movies, and this is written as just that, a high concept movie. I like video games where humanity’s on it’s last leg, and this script captures that setting with big explosions, a lot of firepower, and a decent plot in between. Can easily see the trailer in my mind from the get go.
10 out of 10 points.
5.) Is there anything unique in what the writer presents? Are the writer’s idea, based on this sample, likely to continue to be original?
Although this is based on a book (which I haven’t read) I’ll give the idea kudos for being original. We’re launched into a futuristic Earth which is being overrun by an alien horde bent on wiping out the entire human race. The main character is also stuck in a time loop where he gets to relive the battle over and over, forced to watch comrades die before being extinguished himself, then contemplating how to fix it.
Very cool idea, but as I said above, set it somewhere else besides the cliché Beaches of Normandy. We’ve seen that too much.
8 out of 10 points.
6.) Does the script have a hook?
Groundhog’s Day meets D-Day in Saving Private Ryan, all set in the future. If you like that you’ll like this script. Since I took points off above for the D-Day thing, I won’t subtract them again here, and honestly, even given the setting of the particular battle, I’m pretty sure I’d read it.
15 out of 15 points.
7.) Is that hook effective?
Is the hook initially effective? Simply answered, no. I cruised through the first few pages, enjoying it immensely, but once they landed I hated Cage. I’m not saying he should be a super hero from page one, but he needs some sort of redeeming quality.
He CAN’T run in my opinion, as that’s what we’d do. We don’t go to movies to see real life, we go to see characters who we’d like to be (or think of as who we really are in the back of our mind). I get he’s scared, and that’s fine, but have him sit there shell shocked, but also have him try and make more of an effort to save someone, so us as the reader/audience thinks, “Alright, he’s not perfect, but I can root for this guy.”
Even with him giving Rita his battery, he’s almost dead, and it doesn’t come across as noble. By the time he wakes up back in his bunk I rolled my eyes, knowing I was going to see MULTIPLE versions of this wuss again and again, but I really didn’t care to. Had I NOT owed this review to the site, I’d easily have stopped reading.
8 out of 15 points.
8.) Is there enough to maintain the hook? Reveals, conflict, etc.?
Luckily I didn’t stop reading, because the rest of the script was really good. This script was definitely for gamer fans, and almost read like a first person shooter. The action was cool, and once you get into version 2.0 of the repeated day it’s really interesting.
Again, I am a fan of the time loop idea, and I like how Cage dealt with the various days. It was also cool to see him finally accept his dilemma and want to train to get as far as he could. (The idea of him writing down his longest time was particularly interesting.)
It was also a nice plot point to make Rita have the answers to why it’s happening to him. Her having been through an earlier loop not only makes sense, but even with me guessing that early on, I was surprised and happy to see how it was presented.
How Cage got out was also cool, and with the particular mimic presented early on, the whole thing tied together nicely.
What I didn’t like, and not sure it even needs to be in there, was the romantic love story. I guess people come to expect it, but it was rushed and flat. Combined with the lame dialogue from above, the whole idea felt forced, especially considering that Cage has to convince her to love him in a single day.
It needs to be presented earlier on that he has a thing for her, and instead of just “glancing” at her, he needs to look for chances to talk with her, even before he realizes she’s his ticket out. She also needs to be more reluctant, even if he is stuck in a loop and she can relate. Staying true to character, she’s a loner, even with her friends, and afraid to get too close to anyone.
The first time they truly fight together, they shouldn’t kiss. They should want to, but not get a chance to. Then it should take several attempts, which can easily be quick scenes, before he gets the final outcome of both of them falling in love and spending the night together.
8 out of 10 points.
9.) Does the story play to a target audience, and have the elements demanded by that audience?
Gamer fanbois will love the premise (even if they need to get over seeing D-Day of the future) and fans of Groundhog’s Day type movies will enjoy the familiar plot twists, Cage going through DENIAL, SUICIDE, then finally ACCEPTANCE. This is a sci-fi genre script that all in all doesn’t disappoint, so once you get past those first few pages, the rest of the script flies by.
10 out of 10 points.
As I mentioned before, I did enjoy this script. There were a few things I would suggest steering clear of for new writers writing a spec script (especially when it’s not based on a successful book) and also a few spots I personally didn’t like, but I can still see it as a summer blockbuster that will entertain us, the masses.
Tom Cruise in it might be a stretch, but I didn’t see him in the latest Mission Impossible. As long as he doesn’t take himself too seriously, he’s tolerable and it shouldn’t affect this movie’s outcome.
84 out of 100 points.