An excerpt from my script review for The Predator (2018) which will be available 09/17/18:
4.) Dialogue and Description
Typical Shane Black description and dialogue.
Some of it works, some of it doesn’t.
One good trait that a reader like myself can appreciate is that the action sequences are easy to mentally digest and move pretty quick. If you’re looking for a good example of action in the description, and not wanting to bog down your reader with over-description, this is a good place to start.
What I’m going to cover here is something that should be considered a screenwriting sin.
Don’t treat your reader like they’re stupid.
Should go without saying, right? Apparently not for Mr. Black and Mr. Dekker.
A MAN materializes before our eyes. Bedraggled, unshaven. Edgy. McKENNA.
HE’S USING THE PREDATOR’S CLOAKING BALL.
No shit. We saw McKenna take it earlier, he just phased out of a wall, and we’ve probably seen a Predator film before.
Not to mention you put it in all caps so we couldn’t miss it! That’s like saying…
LOOK! YOU’RE FUCKING STUPID!
This is RORY, 12.
He doesn’t know it yet, but he’s going to save the world.
This is one of a few examples, but just tell the fucking story. Spelling shit out for a reader like this is almost as bad as explaining a joke.
“Pay attention to this! Are you paying attention?! Did you see it?!”
You know how we’ll know something or someone is important? Because you fucking mentioned them in your story. If they’re not important, they don’t have any business being mentioned or named at all.
The Technician turns to the big red button; SLAMS IT —
THE WHOLE ROOM SHUDDERS and we hear a WHINE from all around us because… THE ROOM IS AN ELEVATOR.
Oh my gosh…no way! I could have never guessed that! /endsarcasm
Seriously, who didn’t fucking see this coming, or wouldn’t fucking understand this when the room starts moving downward to a larger room below?
THE SYMBOLS HE WROTE LIFT off the paper, SUPERIMPOSED for us to see. He does some mental calculations, and —
The symbols RE-ARRANGE.
(NOTE: This is NOT REAL. It depicts Rory’s mental process. We are literally watching him translate Predator language.)
Not real? No shit.
Has Shane Black never watched a movie he wasn’t involved in? He knows this little technique of showing a character’s mental calculations isn’t new right?
He didn’t just “crack the code” on showing us a character’s thoughts in a film, and we’ll put two and two together on what Rory’s doing.
THE DRIVER puts his HANDS UP as Baxley and Coyle — the best of friends now — snag the guards’ keys and start unlocking the prisoners’ shackles. A ruse from square one.
Really? A ruse? You mean their fight was staged so the Loonies could take control of the bus? Oh my gosh I almost missed that, despite them taking over the bus and Baxley no longer fighting with Coyle…
GENERAL WOODHURST, comes into view, flanked by ARMY troops.
Good riddance to bad rubbish.
(NOTE: This is the General we saw on the phone with Traeger earlier.)
No shit, we saw Woodhurst in an earlier scene. Your action and story aren’t so overwhelming that it’s actually blowing our mind causing short term amnesia.
McKenna stares in disbelief… then starts after them, the FULL meaning of this hitting him —
His son figured out how to fly the Ark; how to kill the hybrids. So what does that mean to the Upgrade? Only this:
RORY IS ITS MOST EVOLVED OPPONENT.
Wow. Another telegraphed twist that most people saw coming, and again you put it in all caps? Fucking fantastic.
My overall point here is to respect your reader.
It seems these two gentlemen may have gotten too big for their britches when it comes to their writing and personal impressions of it.
Like my dad used to tell me when I’d take on a certain arrogant tone, “If you were half as smart as you think you are, you’d be doing alright.”
Want EARLY access to our videos, uploads, and movie/script reviews? Members get them FIRST! Follow this link to our Discussion Forum.
And be sure to check out our Notes Service, where I give my detailed thoughts and suggestions on your script.