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Haven't sat down to read a feature-length script in a while. I've had my eye on this one, seeing as it's a Mike Shelton action, so I decided to check it out.
- I like the scene duality between the two brothers’. Duality in film can only go two ways but when it works, it works. However I’d say when the brothers are in gridlock, you don’t need them to say a word. You can tell their personalities based on their behavior and the music they’re listening to.
- Also, I would have Zen react to the bad news before his brother. The line “shit, I can only imagine how he’s going to react” sets it up all too well and you started the script with Zen anyway. Might as well keep some consistency.
- Where does Fury get off murdering an insignificant druggie loser? He clearly hasn't killed their mother. I think you need a more plausible reason for Boof getting offed. I don't think him being a crybaby cuts it. In fact, it hurts the likeability of the two protagonists. Even though I wouldn't want to be friends with Fury, he's still amusing.
- Following the list doesn't seem to be getting these guys anywhere. Maybe they oughta try finding out more about these Blue Meanies.
- Why do the Blue Meanies go through so much trouble to catch Pal if all they're going to do is paint him blue?
Overall, the script felt kind of hollow to me. There was so much more you could have given it that you didn't. The characters of Zen and Fury are written well however I think they could use more. Sure, they react to situations differently but there's no incite into why. You also don't give any information whatsoever regarding their mother or their relationship with her. For all I know, they could have had her cooped up in a nursing home. I think this kind of stuff would strengthen your story immensely. Maybe Gail treated Zen better than Fury and there's some longheld sibling rivalry that's carried on into their adulthood.
Most of the other characters, I'm afraid to say, are completely one-demensional. Who the hell is this Pal cat? We never get any information about him. He just seems to tag along. We also don't get any information about the people on the list. Why do they have beef with Zen and Fury? In any case, following the list doesn't seem to get the brothers anywhere. You don't give any information about the Blue Meanies. Why not have the brothers interrogate the guys on the list to see what they know about them? Then whenever they get too close to revealing certain secrets, they get offed. I'd actually say information about the Blue Meanies is the most important out of all these minor characters. They were pretty nifty. I wanted to know more about them.
I didn't care for the ending at all. I mean AT ALL. Sorry dude but I hate twist endings like this. I felt cheated. I figured the two brothers would be able to set aside their differences and work together on their own. You don't need a fake plot for that to happen. A real one will do fine. I think the father killing Gail would've been far more interesting. It could still be Phil too. I had no problem with that bit.
Finally, the action was kind of week. I wouldn't say this is out of your genre. You have a knack for creating these gangster-type characters and good plots to fit them. I just think you could have used more than just car chases. I thought the Blue Meanies with nunchucks were pretty cool. I'd have liked to see more of that stuff. Just my opinion though.
All in all, I'd say you have a decent basis for a story but it's not really developed at this point. You have a lot of room to grow, in terms of both pages and story. Maybe you could make something more out of this. As of now, it's kind of flat.
In any case, I'll give you props for trying something new. Can't win them all but it's always good to take a shot. Good job in that regard, Mike.
I agree that it's kinda high on the "meh" scale, and I'll even go so far as to say that I wasn't a huge fan of the ending myself, but I couldn't find any really good way to bring the dad into it, and Phil just seemed too predictable.
I did enjoy writing the Zen and Fury characters, and I liked Pal as well. There really isn't too much to him though, other than being the numbers running "man on the street".
The Blue Meanies were a lot of fun to write, but the action appears flat for cost purposes. I didn't do nearly as much as I would have liked to do because it would have been way too expensive.
I've been tooling with it a little bit here an there in my free time, so hopefully the next draft will turn out better. I'll probably be reworkign the list as well, to the point where it works better, but still keeps the Blue Meanies mysterious.
Anyway, thanks for checking it out, and I appreciate the feedback.
I remember reading this one and I noticed I didn't say anything. Weird.
The best part was the polar opposites of the brothers, though it was interesting as the story moved along how they became more similar. That's not a bad thing either. It seemed to be part of their development. One might say part of their individual imperfections was that they were so extreme.
You shouldn't worry about budget when you write. If you can tense up the action, that's what some people want to see. Otherwise, you end up with the "meh" effect where it's ok, but wish it had more action to it. Hey, you blew up a car. Might as well intensify things. Write the action you want to write. Screw the budget. Nearly everything can be done in a cost effective way.
My big problem was with the blue meanies. What are these things? You say you left them mysterious and while in some stories that works, I don't think it does here. Why do they behave as they do? Why do they work as they do? Why? Why? Why? I can see one answer leading to another question for some time. What is their interest in chasing our heroes down? Why abuct Pal? Why kill their targets? I understood it was a setup by Phil, but their overall actions didn't make sense to me.
After a story that ran as decently as this one did, the ending was just corny. We need some hints dropped as the story rolls onward. Just some stuff that runs against the grain to setup what happens in the end. It won't make any sense until all the clues fall in place, but without these hints, the ending falls flat. The reveal should complete the puzzle. Right now, it's kind of like we've been working on a puzzle and once we see the big picture, you drop a photograph on it of something different. If you said that doesn't make sense, you got the idea.
So I think this has a lot of potential in it, but you need to fill it out with a lot of missing questions. A descent into the lair of the Blue Meanies might be warranted at least to learn about them.
Ive been meaning to check this out for a while, so i finally did.
Characters - Zen and Fury were great fun characters with great dialog throughout. I lost count how many times i laughed at what those two guy's had to say, especially Fury. The other characters however, i didnt much like them, they just didnt seem to have a purpose other than to be killed, or pass out information. I too have been guilty of these kind of characters, so im not judging, just trying to help.
The Blue Meanies - These guys were cool, really, really cool, but i would have liked some back story on them, e.g where do they come from?
The Action - This is an Action script, so dont be afraid to write action. The action that was included was good, but it just seemed mellow. In action movies i want to see explosions, huge shootouts etc.
The Ending - Mike, i know this has been said, but the ending just doesnt go down well with me. It seems to extreme that their mother set this up to get them bonding again. I personally expected, Phil to be the killer of their mother for some reason, and if it had been Phil, i would have liked that better. The end just seems weak.
Overall, this was very enjoyable and entertaining read that goes in fast and doesnt drag. With some work i believe this script has great potential and i wish you the best with it and all future writing.
Just looked at this one, Mike. Got some comments with --
Matching up two opposites as protagonists was a smart move. “Lethal Weapon” already proved that these kind of couples are interesting to look at. I would suggest, though, to bring Fury’s Fury-o-meter down a notch. Just a bit. He shouted and cursed a little too much.
Plot wise, the script is about finding a killer (for the most part, until the twist happens). You’ve got two defined protagonists with a clear and defined dramatic goal. No major complaints about Act 1 then; it establishes what it has to be established.
Is in Act 2 when I started taking some notes to annoy the hell out of you. The main guideline to consider is that in any “finding” story, the finding must be hard. There are clues planted along the way, but there are also obstacles; the main one being usually an antagonist, someone who tries to avoid the protagonist from achieving his goal.
The cool thing about the second act in this kind of tale should be watching our heroes overcome very difficult obstacles in order to achieve their goal (in this case, catching the killer).
That’s why I think that the list given to Zen and Fury hurts the dramatic possibilities of this story. It’s an “easy way out”. The brothers get easily and right off the bat a suspect list, with out sweating a bit. So they just have to pay some visits, till they find the killer.
Before knowing the twist at the end, I was wondering why you didn’t include a scene in which the brothers had to sneak on the crime scene to find some clues by themselves. Finding clues (difficult clues) by their own (in whatever way) is much more interesting than having a secondary character handing them a list of suspects.
I believe that the list is the cause of another problem in the second act. Its sequences are quite disconnected from each other. Zen and Fury check on this guy, then on that guy, and so on. I wonder if it wouldn’t be more convenient make them find a suspect on their own who knows something but not everything, and points to a bigger fish, which points to a bigger fish, etc. Having the brothers working up their way on the food chain, killing their way to the truth (like Marv does in Sin City, for example).
Pal gives the brothers some important information by which Fury makes his own theory on who killed their mom. While not accurate, this theory is crucial at the time, and so the information which leads to it. Crucial information must be hard to get. Make the brothers hear that information from their enemies (after risking their lives to get it) not friends.
The supernatural element about the Blue Meanies came off as awkward to me. Kind of weird for a plain action script; I’d suggest an earlier plant of this story element. They were the closest thing to an antagonist (because they gave the brothers a hard time in some scenes), yet I didn't feel they were exactly that. They were killing the brother's suspects which, ultimately, was not opposing to their goal but helping to achieve it.
I’m not sure if Phil as the father can work. I personally didn’t like it. The other twist felt like a pay-off of an earlier plant. We knew the brothers had a fight, and that they worked better if they did it together. But Phil’s twist seemed to come out of nowhere.
While there are some problems (at list for me) with this script, there are also some good aspects as well. I know you’re more of a comedy guy, so I must give you the extra credit for stepping into the action genre.
Thanks, Z, and Bates as well since I'm a little overdue in my reply.
I've been taking notes on this one, and I think once I get ready to go at a rewrite I shoudl be able to make this a more solid script. I'm definitely going to be changing the ending. The dual twist thing hasn't worked all that well for me either, but I didn't want to end up being "generic". Turns out it may be the best way.
The claims about lack of action are defintely my fault. Going through this more and more, I'm starting to see it as more of a drama with a little bit of action than a straight up action flick.
Thanks for the comments. Everyone's feedback has given me a REALLY solid base to work with on my next draft......
*SPOILERS for those who haven't read it*
Phil will be responsible for their mother's death and she'll actually be dead this time around. His motive will still be to get Zen and Fury back together and take out his enemies.
The Blue Meanies will kidnap Pal, and hold him for awhile. Zen and Fury will have to go in and get him.
The mystery of the Blue Meanies will be explained a little more as well, and the reasons they're brought in will also change.
Some heavy changes will be made, but I think ti will work a lot better in the long run, plus a have quite a few pages to use in expansion.
This had an off-beat, almost kind of slap-stick feel to it. It's was a quick, fun read. It was structured well. I enjoyed being intoduced to the two brothers, Zen and Fury. They were very similar, yet at the same time, very different which gave each character, at least as they related to one another, a kind of depth. Still, as the story progressed, I found myself wanting to know more about them -- why they're in the business they're in, etc. Ultimately, I suppose it doesn't matter.
The story itself, although, being in the "action" section, had many comedic moments. I wonder if such moments would have played even better if they were punctuated by more serious, dramatic moments? I don't know. Just a thought.
As for the writing, having read reviews of some of your other pieces, I expected this piece to be "talky." It wasn't. You struck a good balance between dialogue and action. Some of the action lines, though, were wordy. For example, one line read: "Zen slides the seat back and takes a seat in the passenger seat." This is, I think, awkward. I'd definitely tighten the descriptives.
As for the ending, I thought it was going to be revealed that Phil was responsible for Zen and Fury's mother's death. Having said that, and now knowing that this is what's going to happen in the next draft, I have to say, I feel this is the easy way out. It's too simple. Phil playing the role he does, supplying the the two with a list of suspects makes himself an obvious suspect. Have you considered Pal? This might be a way of beefing up his role.
Normally, if I don't get called out for being too talky, I get called out for having an abundance of comedic material in something that doesn't necessarily warrant it. Just a couple of my writing vices.
Some of the action lines are a little clunky, I agree. This was written when I was still on the front end of trying to make things more concise in my descriptions.
As far as who ends up being the killer in a new draft...I haven't figured that out yet. The more I think of Phil, the more I end up not liking it just because of the entire predictability issue. I thought the original ending was alright, but when I piled on the additional twist is what hurt it.
I'm new to the boards and I happened to select Zen/Fury as my first read.
Right now I'm on page twenty and, I have to be honest, if I were a reader for a production company I would have already stopped reading.
Nothing has developed other than the brother's banter.
Every scene should move the story along, but, the first act in Zen/Fury appears to be a collection of opportunities for the two brothers to showcase their differences. By the restaurant scene it's a dead horse. I get it, he's zen and he's fury.
We've just come from a scene where Fury shoots a guy in the face, for no reason other than his own justification, and now he's pissed off about his french fries and cussing out the staff of the restaurant. Nothing is happening in the story. Stopping at boof's was pointless as is the restaurant scene. You can throw them out and it hasn't affected the story. And, as far as character development goes if Fury dies in the next scene it would be a relief.
In the previous scene at Phils office the two brothers appear more concerned about their personal rivalry rather than considering the death of their mother. If these two are more interested in there bickering than the death of their mother, why should we care about the death of their mother.
If the two brothers came together and showed heartfelt emotion for their shared loss then we could see them as real people and appreciate their desire for vengance.
And, who is Phil? What role does he play in the boys lives? We know that he's done some thinking and that he feels they need to get to work, but, I feel more time should be developed on who this character is in relation to the family. He comes up with a list of names who are candidates for murdering their mother and it's persons that have a grudge against the brothers. My first thought was, wouldn't the brothers already know who was on the list. Did they really need to be told who doesn't like them?
ON A POSITIVE NOTE. I think that you have an interesting dichotomy working with your two main characters. I think you could even take it further. Zen could be truly seeking an inner peace, rarely speaking (many of his comments in voice over) and when he does speak it's a whisper. And Fury needs to be less furious. He's supposed to be contract killer, but, his behavior is too out of control. He needs to be controlled fury able to unleash it at his beckoning.
I LIKE THE DUAL INTRODUCTION. But, I believe you should work on crafting two different and interesting contract hits showcasing the brothers personalities. The first ten pages should be dedicated to the hits, a beginning, middle, and end to each.
examples; Zen's hit is to take out an entire boardroom in a high rise office building. He enters calm and collected, he's worked out all ways past security, he enters the boardroom weilding two pistols fitted with large silencers and within seconds has eliminated the board of directors, he exits the building calm and collected.
Fury's hit is to take out an entire Mob posse in an italian restaurant. He enters loud and brash, looking for a fight. The mobsters are willing to oblige him but quickly discover the foundation of Fury's cockiness when he reveals the grenades he's brought with him. He exits the restaurant amid a flurry of explosions.
They each recieve a call on their cells simutaneously after they've exited their hits. They say nothing. They recieve the information and close up their cells.
The next scenes we see them dealing with their loss in their own way. Zen could be working it out through meditation while Fury works over the heavy bag.
The next scene is their mother's burial. The brothers are indifferent to one another during the burial. There also conscience that someone could be targeting them.
So far it's been mostly action. Little dialogue.
Now comes the scene in Phil's office (no exterior, the two driving up) and this should be the scene where all types of details come out about the relationship of the brothers, why their mother was killed, who, specifically who, would want to kill her, what is Phil's relationship in all of this, that the brothers are being targeted, and that regardless of their disdain for one another that they're going to have to watch each others backs and work together to enact revenge.
I think what's important in their banter is that it can be combative, but, these characters can also be intelligent. It doesn't have to degenerate into, 'Fuck you,.. No, fuck you more.'
I hope some of this helps. Best of luck to you with it.
Thanks for looking and for providing the info you have...This one is certainly not what I would have chosen as the first example of my work since I am without a doubt the talkiest writer on the board, and action, well action is a little odd for me most of the time.
It's still a work in progress though, and I'll definitely be looking back at your notes when I attempt a rewrite.
The name still bothers me enough to take me outta the story.
So I've read some more, and I am not getting it. The script kinda feels like the tv show "Simon and Simon" with more profanity. I guess, I could also draw some comparisons to the movie "Assassins."
But the script is beginning to feel like another "Natural Born Killers." Is that your intent? Is a R Rating also your intent? You could reduce the profanity and target a PG-13 audience.
Have you read any of the scripts for the tv show "Life on Mars"? There are some good relationship dynamics in those scripts that would work wonderfully in your storyline. The 70's copper meets the modern copper.
I will continue further and drop some insights. I like to draw comparisons to other scripts and movies. I'm just a tv/movie buff. Sorry.
Read some more. And here are some more insights.
I am struggling with the two main characters. I am hoping for some type of bound, some information about their mom, something to make me want to follow them along on their story. I really need some good character development. And as others have said, this story is like the story in "Four Brothers." But what made "Four Brothers" work so well was the bound between the brothers even though they had differences. Let's see some of that.