An excerpt from my script review for Captive State which will be available 03/25/19:

2.) Plot Stability

The first scene started out brilliantly.

We open on a man and his wife trying to navigate through the busy streets of Chicago during (or shortly after) an alien invasion.

We’re not sure what the hell is going on, only that things aren’t going well for them, and they eventually are stopped and die.

At the close of this opening, we discover their two young boys alone and alive in the back seat.

Captive State.

Unfortunately, the mystery just keeps building from there, with this setting becoming more and more cryptic.

Did I wonder about things going on?  Sure, and that’s good, but what can’t happen is me become more and more confused about this world as the story unfolds.

My first question was what the fuck is an Elroy?  All they’re explained as are “Chicago police” but are they human?  Alien?  A hybrid mixture of both?

What I came to see them as, whether that’s right or wrong, was human cops wearing some sort of alien tech suits.

And that bothered me, because the questions kept building, and most of them never felt answered.

  • Why did Mulligan drive a sedan when there were flying cars available?
  • What the fuck was all the “buzzing” in the tunnels?
  • What exactly was the “dead zone” no one was allowed into?
  • What were the aliens after?
  • Why are there so many minor EMP shockwaves all the time?
  • What was across the lake that Gabriel was trying to get to?  Canada?  The better part of the city?
  • Why was there this fancy Children of Men part of Chicago, and was it the forbidden zone, with the Sears Tower in it (now called Willis Tower fyi)?
  • What was the Resistance trying to accomplish?  A revolution?  Random acts of terrorism?  Something hidden?

This last one, and what I took away from the ending, was that Mulligan was the Pheonix, and the entire plan was a set up to make him commissioner.

Now if that’s right, hooray one saving grace for the script, but it’s not enough.

(Especially if you consider all this script then becomes, based on that line of thinking, is an elaborate, yet half-assed setup for a sequel.)

When you create a unique and sci-fi based world such as this, you need to give us some clues as to what’s going on.

Having aliens for the sake of aliens, or flying cars for that matter, won’t be enough.

We need to understand why they’re there and why they haven’t killed us.

I’m left confused on both of those issues with this project.

That’s not good, and at some point you need to start answering questions before introducing new ones. Once your world is established, tease your reader with clues to what’s going on, almost as if there’s a bread crumb trail of subtext that should start at (or slightly before) the midpoint.

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