Friday Free-for-All: Ryan Reynolds makes some kid's day at Comic-Con

This has been making its way around the internet this week, but in case you didn't see it here's Ryan Reynolds making a kid's day at Comic-Con. While on the Green Lantern panel, Ryan is asked by a young fan what it feels like to say the Green Lantern oath.



Interesting side note: when I went looking for this video last weekend, the search terms "Green Lantern Comic Con" returned one instance of this clip and four separate videos of Blake Lively's appearance on the panel with titles that indicated there was some sort of wardrobe malfunction. (I didn't watch the videos to confirm.) This proves that as much as comic book geeks will go crazy for the Green Lantern oath, boobs always win in the end.

Friday Free-for-All: Ryan Reynolds makes some kid's day at Comic-Con

This has been making its way around the internet this week, but in case you didn't see it here's Ryan Reynolds making a kid's day at Comic-Con. While on the Green Lantern panel, Ryan is asked by a young fan what it feels like to say the Green Lantern oath.



Interesting side note: when I went looking for this video last weekend, the search terms "Green Lantern Comic Con" returned one instance of this clip and four separate videos of Blake Lively's appearance on the panel with titles that indicated there was some sort of wardrobe malfunction. (I didn't watch the videos to confirm.) This proves that as much as comic book geeks will go crazy for the Green Lantern oath, boobs always win in the end.

Amateur Friday - The Assassination Of George Lucas

On the last Friday of every month, I choose an amateur script submitted by you, the readers of the site, to review. If you're interested in submitting for Amateur Fridays, send the genre, the title, the premise, and the reason I should read your script to Carsonreeves3@gmail.com. Note that your script will be posted online and that you shouldn't submit if you're allergic to criticism. :) This month's script is The Assassination Of George Lucas by Aaron Michael Thomas.

Genre: Comedy
Premise: When George Lucas announces a third trilogy, Mac and his group of ragtag friends hatch a plan to assassinate him in the name of preserving the purity of Star Wars.
About: This is the third amateur script in my monthly Amateur Script review series.
Writer: Aaron Michael Thomas
Details: 105 pages


So why did I choose The Assassination of George Lucas over all the other entries for Amateur Friday? Well duh, because the title is “The Assassination of George Lucas!”

But seriously, the title made me smile. And the premise made me laugh. Sometimes that’s all it takes. When you read a lot, there are periods when you want to get away from the serious stuff and just rattle the belly a little bit. I needed some belly-rattlin.

The Assassination Of George Lucas is about four friends: Mac, our conflicted hero, Sarge, the result of a one night stand with a nameless army Sargent, Casey, a home schooled Star Wars nut, and Joanna, who became a lesbian after seeing Princess Leia in Return Of The Jedi.

These childhood friends endure the same devastating disappointment all of us went through when we sat through the debacle known as the prequels. With cinematic perfection forever ruined, the group tries to come to terms with their favorite movies ever never being the same.

And then the unthinkable happens. At Comic-Con, George Lucas makes a surprise appearance to announce that he will be making a third trilogy – episodes 7, 8 and 9. Within minutes, Star Wars costumed geeks are staging a protest. But Mac is so sickened by the announcement, he’s thinking of something much more dire. If Lucas were to make a third trilogy, it would destroy the memory of Star Wars forever, and Mac can’t risk that. Hence, the only way to save Star Wars…is to KILL GEORGE LUCAS.

The only actor in the world who can turn the word "course" into two syllables.

So he and his buds draw up a flimsy plan to drive up to the Lucas Ranch and poison the goitered one. Along the way they run into a slew of people, including a real life bounty hunter, a frantic Mark Hamill, and a long in hiding Lawrence Kasden. In the meantime we see that Lucas has become so reclusive and paranoid that he can’t even go to the bathroom without body guards. This is a man who will be hard to kill.

There’s some funny stuff in this script. My favorite character was Casey, who’s the only person on the planet who loves the prequels (the guy incorporates Jar-Jar quotes into everyday conversation). In a world where hating on the prequels has become as ubiquitous as pictures of Zac Efron on Perez Hilton, it was funny to watch a character who unapologetically loved them. I also loved the Lawrence Kasdan stuff, as it’s well-known that Lucas didn’t exactly flip over Kasdan getting so much credit for Empire Strikes Back. Seeing him holed up so that Lucas can’t get to him was pretty funny.

The rest of the stuff is hit or miss. There’s a trivial recurring joke about gummy bears, a random scene dedicated to observations about Super Mario Brothers, and probably my least favorite bit, George Lucas being an alienated asshole.

When you write a comedy, you want the jokes to be fresh. And Lucas being a reclusive dickhead has been done to death. I think there's even a South Park episode dedicated to it. I was hoping for a more complicated original take on the character, not unlike what's done with Casey. For example, what if Lucas was actually the nicest guy ever? What if they got there and were all ready to kill him and he made coffee for them and sat them down and started telling them stories? How are you going to assassinate the nicest guy ever? That’s a butchered “off the top of my head” idea and I’m not saying it’s great, but the point is, we needed something fresh here.


But the real problem with The Assassination of George Lucas runs much deeper, and that's the characters. None of these characters have any substance. They have no flaws, no problems, nothing they’re trying to overcome. Each character is exactly the same at the ending as they are at the beginning. And that’s not going to cut it in a comedy spec.

Take the characters in the recently reviewed “Crazy Stupid Love,” for example. Jacob (the womanizer) is emotionally incapable of opening up to women so he engages in an endless streak of one-night stands, not realizing that it's making him miserable. Watching him resist conquering that flaw is what made his character so interesting. Or take Cal (Steve Carell’s characer), who’s trying to come to terms with his wife leaving him. He doesn’t know whether to embrace the singles scene or fight to get his wife back. In both cases, the characters are fighting an inner battle. None of the characters here are battling anything. In fact, three of the characters are built on a joke. Casey is home-schooled, Sarge is a one-night stand, and Joanna turned into a lesbian after seeing Princess Leia. That’s as deep into the characters as we get. And Mac, our protagonist? His big problem is that he wants to preserve Star Wars. I’m sorry but that’s just not deep enough to keep us engaged for 2 hours.

Instead, what if Mac had a choice tugging at him? What if he’s at a point, 26 or 27, where he has an opportunity to take a job, to start being an adult with responsibilities, or continue this arrested development lifestyle where he's obsessed with a children’s movie. Now there’s something actually going on with Mac. He has a choice. He has depth. If you want to see this exact flaw in action (and done well), rent The 40 Year Old Virgin and pay attention to Steve Carell’s character.


Another problem I had was that the script didn’t take advantage of its premise. If you look at a movie like Fanboys, which covers similar terrain, there were all these moments where Star Wars serendipitously intruded upon their journey, leading to a lot of funny in-joke situations. The Assassination Of George Lucas is actually about a piece of Star Wars – the prequels - that hasn’t been explored in cinema extensively. There’s a TON of funny situations Thomas could’ve drawn from these movies but instead we keep focusing on the old stuff. For example, why are we bringing in Mark Hamill, who’s already been done to death? Instead, what if they run into Ahmed Best, the actor who played Jar-Jar? Let’s look at how that role ruined his life and how he hates Lucas as a result. What the hell is Jake Lloyd doing nowadays? Maybe he’s a drugged out misfit who actually thinks he’s Darth Vadar. There’s a moment here where our characters walk into a car dealer. Why not make the dealer like annoying nonsensical Watto? In other words, let’s make their journey to kill Lucas turn into their own Prequel Hell. The current comedic choices here are too obvious and deal with territory that we've already seen. Let’s explore something new.

The final issue here is that The Assassination of George Lucas probably couldn't get made. It paints Star Wars and Lucas in a negative light and even though Lucas would whore out the Star Wars brand to flesh lights if it added to the bottom line, the one thing he does still care about is his personal image, which The Assassination of George Lucas…well…assassinates. That would mean you’d have to make this movie without any Star Wars paraphernalia whatsoever, which I don’t think is possible. That’s not to say all is lost, however. Pretty much all scripts are calling cards anyways, so if this made the right people laugh, it could open the door to a career.

The Assassination of George Lucas was a cute script. But if it's going to compete in the ultra-competitive spec comedy market, it will need to dig deeper.

Script link: The Assassination Of George Lucas

[ ] What the hell did I just read?
[x] wasn’t for me
[ ] worth the read
[ ] impressive
[ ] genius

What I learned: Your comedies, even the goofiest ones, should contain some sort of theme - some sort of statement you're trying to get across with your story. When I finished The Assassination of George Lucas I felt…empty. Without a larger statement, the story experience dissolved as soon as it was over. One of the reasons Toy Story 3 was so great (and all of Pixar’s movies – which put a heavy emphasis on theme) was that it kept harping on the theme of “moving on.” That there are phases in your life where you have to move forward, even if you don’t want to. In Liar Liar the theme was obviously “truth” and the consequences of not telling it. Even in the seemingly depth-less Dumb and Dumber, the theme is “taking a chance.” Refusing to be held back by the rules and restrictions of society. There’s an opportunity in The Assassination of George Lucas to write a movie about people who are afraid to grow up. Had that been explored here, this script would’ve lingered in the reader’s mind, instead of disappearing into space like the opening crawl.

Amateur Friday - The Assassination Of George Lucas

On the last Friday of every month, I choose an amateur script submitted by you, the readers of the site, to review. If you're interested in submitting for Amateur Fridays, send the genre, the title, the premise, and the reason I should read your script to Carsonreeves3@gmail.com. Note that your script will be posted online and that you shouldn't submit if you're allergic to criticism. :) This month's script is The Assassination Of George Lucas by Aaron Michael Thomas.

Genre: Comedy
Premise: When George Lucas announces a third trilogy, Mac and his group of ragtag friends hatch a plan to assassinate him in the name of preserving the purity of Star Wars.
About: This is the third amateur script in my monthly Amateur Script review series.
Writer: Aaron Michael Thomas
Details: 105 pages


So why did I choose The Assassination of George Lucas over all the other entries for Amateur Friday? Well duh, because the title is “The Assassination of George Lucas!”

But seriously, the title made me smile. And the premise made me laugh. Sometimes that’s all it takes. When you read a lot, there are periods when you want to get away from the serious stuff and just rattle the belly a little bit. I needed some belly-rattlin.

The Assassination Of George Lucas is about four friends: Mac, our conflicted hero, Sarge, the result of a one night stand with a nameless army Sargent, Casey, a home schooled Star Wars nut, and Joanna, who became a lesbian after seeing Princess Leia in Return Of The Jedi.

These childhood friends endure the same devastating disappointment all of us went through when we sat through the debacle known as the prequels. With cinematic perfection forever ruined, the group tries to come to terms with their favorite movies ever never being the same.

And then the unthinkable happens. At Comic-Con, George Lucas makes a surprise appearance to announce that he will be making a third trilogy – episodes 7, 8 and 9. Within minutes, Star Wars costumed geeks are staging a protest. But Mac is so sickened by the announcement, he’s thinking of something much more dire. If Lucas were to make a third trilogy, it would destroy the memory of Star Wars forever, and Mac can’t risk that. Hence, the only way to save Star Wars…is to KILL GEORGE LUCAS.

The only actor in the world who can turn the word "course" into two syllables.

So he and his buds draw up a flimsy plan to drive up to the Lucas Ranch and poison the goitered one. Along the way they run into a slew of people, including a real life bounty hunter, a frantic Mark Hamill, and a long in hiding Lawrence Kasden. In the meantime we see that Lucas has become so reclusive and paranoid that he can’t even go to the bathroom without body guards. This is a man who will be hard to kill.

There’s some funny stuff in this script. My favorite character was Casey, who’s the only person on the planet who loves the prequels (the guy incorporates Jar-Jar quotes into everyday conversation). In a world where hating on the prequels has become as ubiquitous as pictures of Zac Efron on Perez Hilton, it was funny to watch a character who unapologetically loved them. I also loved the Lawrence Kasdan stuff, as it’s well-known that Lucas didn’t exactly flip over Kasdan getting so much credit for Empire Strikes Back. Seeing him holed up so that Lucas can’t get to him was pretty funny.

The rest of the stuff is hit or miss. There’s a trivial recurring joke about gummy bears, a random scene dedicated to observations about Super Mario Brothers, and probably my least favorite bit, George Lucas being an alienated asshole.

When you write a comedy, you want the jokes to be fresh. And Lucas being a reclusive dickhead has been done to death. I think there's even a South Park episode dedicated to it. I was hoping for a more complicated original take on the character, not unlike what's done with Casey. For example, what if Lucas was actually the nicest guy ever? What if they got there and were all ready to kill him and he made coffee for them and sat them down and started telling them stories? How are you going to assassinate the nicest guy ever? That’s a butchered “off the top of my head” idea and I’m not saying it’s great, but the point is, we needed something fresh here.


But the real problem with The Assassination of George Lucas runs much deeper, and that's the characters. None of these characters have any substance. They have no flaws, no problems, nothing they’re trying to overcome. Each character is exactly the same at the ending as they are at the beginning. And that’s not going to cut it in a comedy spec.

Take the characters in the recently reviewed “Crazy Stupid Love,” for example. Jacob (the womanizer) is emotionally incapable of opening up to women so he engages in an endless streak of one-night stands, not realizing that it's making him miserable. Watching him resist conquering that flaw is what made his character so interesting. Or take Cal (Steve Carell’s characer), who’s trying to come to terms with his wife leaving him. He doesn’t know whether to embrace the singles scene or fight to get his wife back. In both cases, the characters are fighting an inner battle. None of the characters here are battling anything. In fact, three of the characters are built on a joke. Casey is home-schooled, Sarge is a one-night stand, and Joanna turned into a lesbian after seeing Princess Leia. That’s as deep into the characters as we get. And Mac, our protagonist? His big problem is that he wants to preserve Star Wars. I’m sorry but that’s just not deep enough to keep us engaged for 2 hours.

Instead, what if Mac had a choice tugging at him? What if he’s at a point, 26 or 27, where he has an opportunity to take a job, to start being an adult with responsibilities, or continue this arrested development lifestyle where he's obsessed with a children’s movie. Now there’s something actually going on with Mac. He has a choice. He has depth. If you want to see this exact flaw in action (and done well), rent The 40 Year Old Virgin and pay attention to Steve Carell’s character.


Another problem I had was that the script didn’t take advantage of its premise. If you look at a movie like Fanboys, which covers similar terrain, there were all these moments where Star Wars serendipitously intruded upon their journey, leading to a lot of funny in-joke situations. The Assassination Of George Lucas is actually about a piece of Star Wars – the prequels - that hasn’t been explored in cinema extensively. There’s a TON of funny situations Thomas could’ve drawn from these movies but instead we keep focusing on the old stuff. For example, why are we bringing in Mark Hamill, who’s already been done to death? Instead, what if they run into Ahmed Best, the actor who played Jar-Jar? Let’s look at how that role ruined his life and how he hates Lucas as a result. What the hell is Jake Lloyd doing nowadays? Maybe he’s a drugged out misfit who actually thinks he’s Darth Vadar. There’s a moment here where our characters walk into a car dealer. Why not make the dealer like annoying nonsensical Watto? In other words, let’s make their journey to kill Lucas turn into their own Prequel Hell. The current comedic choices here are too obvious and deal with territory that we've already seen. Let’s explore something new.

The final issue here is that The Assassination of George Lucas probably couldn't get made. It paints Star Wars and Lucas in a negative light and even though Lucas would whore out the Star Wars brand to flesh lights if it added to the bottom line, the one thing he does still care about is his personal image, which The Assassination of George Lucas…well…assassinates. That would mean you’d have to make this movie without any Star Wars paraphernalia whatsoever, which I don’t think is possible. That’s not to say all is lost, however. Pretty much all scripts are calling cards anyways, so if this made the right people laugh, it could open the door to a career.

The Assassination of George Lucas was a cute script. But if it's going to compete in the ultra-competitive spec comedy market, it will need to dig deeper.

Script link: The Assassination Of George Lucas

[ ] What the hell did I just read?
[x] wasn’t for me
[ ] worth the read
[ ] impressive
[ ] genius

What I learned: Your comedies, even the goofiest ones, should contain some sort of theme - some sort of statement you're trying to get across with your story. When I finished The Assassination of George Lucas I felt…empty. Without a larger statement, the story experience dissolved as soon as it was over. One of the reasons Toy Story 3 was so great (and all of Pixar’s movies – which put a heavy emphasis on theme) was that it kept harping on the theme of “moving on.” That there are phases in your life where you have to move forward, even if you don’t want to. In Liar Liar the theme was obviously “truth” and the consequences of not telling it. Even in the seemingly depth-less Dumb and Dumber, the theme is “taking a chance.” Refusing to be held back by the rules and restrictions of society. There’s an opportunity in The Assassination of George Lucas to write a movie about people who are afraid to grow up. Had that been explored here, this script would’ve lingered in the reader’s mind, instead of disappearing into space like the opening crawl.

Amateur Friday - The Assassination Of George Lucas

On the last Friday of every month, I choose an amateur script submitted by you, the readers of the site, to review. If you're interested in submitting for Amateur Fridays, send the genre, the title, the premise, and the reason I should read your script to Carsonreeves3@gmail.com. Note that your script will be posted online and that you shouldn't submit if you're allergic to criticism. :) This month's script is The Assassination Of George Lucas by Aaron Michael Thomas.

Genre: Comedy
Premise: When George Lucas announces a third trilogy, Mac and his group of ragtag friends hatch a plan to assassinate him in the name of preserving the purity of Star Wars.
About: This is the third amateur script in my monthly Amateur Script review series.
Writer: Aaron Michael Thomas
Details: 105 pages


So why did I choose The Assassination of George Lucas over all the other entries for Amateur Friday? Well duh, because the title is “The Assassination of George Lucas!”

But seriously, the title made me smile. And the premise made me laugh. Sometimes that’s all it takes. When you read a lot, there are periods when you want to get away from the serious stuff and just rattle the belly a little bit. I needed some belly-rattlin.

The Assassination Of George Lucas is about four friends: Mac, our conflicted hero, Sarge, the result of a one night stand with a nameless army Sargent, Casey, a home schooled Star Wars nut, and Joanna, who became a lesbian after seeing Princess Leia in Return Of The Jedi.

These childhood friends endure the same devastating disappointment all of us went through when we sat through the debacle known as the prequels. With cinematic perfection forever ruined, the group tries to come to terms with their favorite movies ever never being the same.

And then the unthinkable happens. At Comic-Con, George Lucas makes a surprise appearance to announce that he will be making a third trilogy – episodes 7, 8 and 9. Within minutes, Star Wars costumed geeks are staging a protest. But Mac is so sickened by the announcement, he’s thinking of something much more dire. If Lucas were to make a third trilogy, it would destroy the memory of Star Wars forever, and Mac can’t risk that. Hence, the only way to save Star Wars…is to KILL GEORGE LUCAS.

The only actor in the world who can turn the word "course" into two syllables.

So he and his buds draw up a flimsy plan to drive up to the Lucas Ranch and poison the goitered one. Along the way they run into a slew of people, including a real life bounty hunter, a frantic Mark Hamill, and a long in hiding Lawrence Kasden. In the meantime we see that Lucas has become so reclusive and paranoid that he can’t even go to the bathroom without body guards. This is a man who will be hard to kill.

There’s some funny stuff in this script. My favorite character was Casey, who’s the only person on the planet who loves the prequels (the guy incorporates Jar-Jar quotes into everyday conversation). In a world where hating on the prequels has become as ubiquitous as pictures of Zac Efron on Perez Hilton, it was funny to watch a character who unapologetically loved them. I also loved the Lawrence Kasdan stuff, as it’s well-known that Lucas didn’t exactly flip over Kasdan getting so much credit for Empire Strikes Back. Seeing him holed up so that Lucas can’t get to him was pretty funny.

The rest of the stuff is hit or miss. There’s a trivial recurring joke about gummy bears, a random scene dedicated to observations about Super Mario Brothers, and probably my least favorite bit, George Lucas being an alienated asshole.

When you write a comedy, you want the jokes to be fresh. And Lucas being a reclusive dickhead has been done to death. I think there's even a South Park episode dedicated to it. I was hoping for a more complicated original take on the character, not unlike what's done with Casey. For example, what if Lucas was actually the nicest guy ever? What if they got there and were all ready to kill him and he made coffee for them and sat them down and started telling them stories? How are you going to assassinate the nicest guy ever? That’s a butchered “off the top of my head” idea and I’m not saying it’s great, but the point is, we needed something fresh here.


But the real problem with The Assassination of George Lucas runs much deeper, and that's the characters. None of these characters have any substance. They have no flaws, no problems, nothing they’re trying to overcome. Each character is exactly the same at the ending as they are at the beginning. And that’s not going to cut it in a comedy spec.

Take the characters in the recently reviewed “Crazy Stupid Love,” for example. Jacob (the womanizer) is emotionally incapable of opening up to women so he engages in an endless streak of one-night stands, not realizing that it's making him miserable. Watching him resist conquering that flaw is what made his character so interesting. Or take Cal (Steve Carell’s characer), who’s trying to come to terms with his wife leaving him. He doesn’t know whether to embrace the singles scene or fight to get his wife back. In both cases, the characters are fighting an inner battle. None of the characters here are battling anything. In fact, three of the characters are built on a joke. Casey is home-schooled, Sarge is a one-night stand, and Joanna turned into a lesbian after seeing Princess Leia. That’s as deep into the characters as we get. And Mac, our protagonist? His big problem is that he wants to preserve Star Wars. I’m sorry but that’s just not deep enough to keep us engaged for 2 hours.

Instead, what if Mac had a choice tugging at him? What if he’s at a point, 26 or 27, where he has an opportunity to take a job, to start being an adult with responsibilities, or continue this arrested development lifestyle where he's obsessed with a children’s movie. Now there’s something actually going on with Mac. He has a choice. He has depth. If you want to see this exact flaw in action (and done well), rent The 40 Year Old Virgin and pay attention to Steve Carell’s character.


Another problem I had was that the script didn’t take advantage of its premise. If you look at a movie like Fanboys, which covers similar terrain, there were all these moments where Star Wars serendipitously intruded upon their journey, leading to a lot of funny in-joke situations. The Assassination Of George Lucas is actually about a piece of Star Wars – the prequels - that hasn’t been explored in cinema extensively. There’s a TON of funny situations Thomas could’ve drawn from these movies but instead we keep focusing on the old stuff. For example, why are we bringing in Mark Hamill, who’s already been done to death? Instead, what if they run into Ahmed Best, the actor who played Jar-Jar? Let’s look at how that role ruined his life and how he hates Lucas as a result. What the hell is Jake Lloyd doing nowadays? Maybe he’s a drugged out misfit who actually thinks he’s Darth Vadar. There’s a moment here where our characters walk into a car dealer. Why not make the dealer like annoying nonsensical Watto? In other words, let’s make their journey to kill Lucas turn into their own Prequel Hell. The current comedic choices here are too obvious and deal with territory that we've already seen. Let’s explore something new.

The final issue here is that The Assassination of George Lucas probably couldn't get made. It paints Star Wars and Lucas in a negative light and even though Lucas would whore out the Star Wars brand to flesh lights if it added to the bottom line, the one thing he does still care about is his personal image, which The Assassination of George Lucas…well…assassinates. That would mean you’d have to make this movie without any Star Wars paraphernalia whatsoever, which I don’t think is possible. That’s not to say all is lost, however. Pretty much all scripts are calling cards anyways, so if this made the right people laugh, it could open the door to a career.

The Assassination of George Lucas was a cute script. But if it's going to compete in the ultra-competitive spec comedy market, it will need to dig deeper.

Script link: The Assassination Of George Lucas

[ ] What the hell did I just read?
[x] wasn’t for me
[ ] worth the read
[ ] impressive
[ ] genius

What I learned: Your comedies, even the goofiest ones, should contain some sort of theme - some sort of statement you're trying to get across with your story. When I finished The Assassination of George Lucas I felt…empty. Without a larger statement, the story experience dissolved as soon as it was over. One of the reasons Toy Story 3 was so great (and all of Pixar’s movies – which put a heavy emphasis on theme) was that it kept harping on the theme of “moving on.” That there are phases in your life where you have to move forward, even if you don’t want to. In Liar Liar the theme was obviously “truth” and the consequences of not telling it. Even in the seemingly depth-less Dumb and Dumber, the theme is “taking a chance.” Refusing to be held back by the rules and restrictions of society. There’s an opportunity in The Assassination of George Lucas to write a movie about people who are afraid to grow up. Had that been explored here, this script would’ve lingered in the reader’s mind, instead of disappearing into space like the opening crawl.

Amateur Friday - The Assassination Of George Lucas

On the last Friday of every month, I choose an amateur script submitted by you, the readers of the site, to review. If you're interested in submitting for Amateur Fridays, send the genre, the title, the premise, and the reason I should read your script to Carsonreeves3@gmail.com. Note that your script will be posted online and that you shouldn't submit if you're allergic to criticism. :) This month's script is The Assassination Of George Lucas by Aaron Michael Thomas.

Genre: Comedy
Premise: When George Lucas announces a third trilogy, Mac and his group of ragtag friends hatch a plan to assassinate him in the name of preserving the purity of Star Wars.
About: This is the third amateur script in my monthly Amateur Script review series.
Writer: Aaron Michael Thomas
Details: 105 pages


So why did I choose The Assassination of George Lucas over all the other entries for Amateur Friday? Well duh, because the title is “The Assassination of George Lucas!”

But seriously, the title made me smile. And the premise made me laugh. Sometimes that’s all it takes. When you read a lot, there are periods when you want to get away from the serious stuff and just rattle the belly a little bit. I needed some belly-rattlin.

The Assassination Of George Lucas is about four friends: Mac, our conflicted hero, Sarge, the result of a one night stand with a nameless army Sargent, Casey, a home schooled Star Wars nut, and Joanna, who became a lesbian after seeing Princess Leia in Return Of The Jedi.

These childhood friends endure the same devastating disappointment all of us went through when we sat through the debacle known as the prequels. With cinematic perfection forever ruined, the group tries to come to terms with their favorite movies ever never being the same.

And then the unthinkable happens. At Comic-Con, George Lucas makes a surprise appearance to announce that he will be making a third trilogy – episodes 7, 8 and 9. Within minutes, Star Wars costumed geeks are staging a protest. But Mac is so sickened by the announcement, he’s thinking of something much more dire. If Lucas were to make a third trilogy, it would destroy the memory of Star Wars forever, and Mac can’t risk that. Hence, the only way to save Star Wars…is to KILL GEORGE LUCAS.

The only actor in the world who can turn the word "course" into two syllables.

So he and his buds draw up a flimsy plan to drive up to the Lucas Ranch and poison the goitered one. Along the way they run into a slew of people, including a real life bounty hunter, a frantic Mark Hamill, and a long in hiding Lawrence Kasden. In the meantime we see that Lucas has become so reclusive and paranoid that he can’t even go to the bathroom without body guards. This is a man who will be hard to kill.

There’s some funny stuff in this script. My favorite character was Casey, who’s the only person on the planet who loves the prequels (the guy incorporates Jar-Jar quotes into everyday conversation). In a world where hating on the prequels has become as ubiquitous as pictures of Zac Efron on Perez Hilton, it was funny to watch a character who unapologetically loved them. I also loved the Lawrence Kasdan stuff, as it’s well-known that Lucas didn’t exactly flip over Kasdan getting so much credit for Empire Strikes Back. Seeing him holed up so that Lucas can’t get to him was pretty funny.

The rest of the stuff is hit or miss. There’s a trivial recurring joke about gummy bears, a random scene dedicated to observations about Super Mario Brothers, and probably my least favorite bit, George Lucas being an alienated asshole.

When you write a comedy, you want the jokes to be fresh. And Lucas being a reclusive dickhead has been done to death. I think there's even a South Park episode dedicated to it. I was hoping for a more complicated original take on the character, not unlike what's done with Casey. For example, what if Lucas was actually the nicest guy ever? What if they got there and were all ready to kill him and he made coffee for them and sat them down and started telling them stories? How are you going to assassinate the nicest guy ever? That’s a butchered “off the top of my head” idea and I’m not saying it’s great, but the point is, we needed something fresh here.


But the real problem with The Assassination of George Lucas runs much deeper, and that's the characters. None of these characters have any substance. They have no flaws, no problems, nothing they’re trying to overcome. Each character is exactly the same at the ending as they are at the beginning. And that’s not going to cut it in a comedy spec.

Take the characters in the recently reviewed “Crazy Stupid Love,” for example. Jacob (the womanizer) is emotionally incapable of opening up to women so he engages in an endless streak of one-night stands, not realizing that it's making him miserable. Watching him resist conquering that flaw is what made his character so interesting. Or take Cal (Steve Carell’s characer), who’s trying to come to terms with his wife leaving him. He doesn’t know whether to embrace the singles scene or fight to get his wife back. In both cases, the characters are fighting an inner battle. None of the characters here are battling anything. In fact, three of the characters are built on a joke. Casey is home-schooled, Sarge is a one-night stand, and Joanna turned into a lesbian after seeing Princess Leia. That’s as deep into the characters as we get. And Mac, our protagonist? His big problem is that he wants to preserve Star Wars. I’m sorry but that’s just not deep enough to keep us engaged for 2 hours.

Instead, what if Mac had a choice tugging at him? What if he’s at a point, 26 or 27, where he has an opportunity to take a job, to start being an adult with responsibilities, or continue this arrested development lifestyle where he's obsessed with a children’s movie. Now there’s something actually going on with Mac. He has a choice. He has depth. If you want to see this exact flaw in action (and done well), rent The 40 Year Old Virgin and pay attention to Steve Carell’s character.


Another problem I had was that the script didn’t take advantage of its premise. If you look at a movie like Fanboys, which covers similar terrain, there were all these moments where Star Wars serendipitously intruded upon their journey, leading to a lot of funny in-joke situations. The Assassination Of George Lucas is actually about a piece of Star Wars – the prequels - that hasn’t been explored in cinema extensively. There’s a TON of funny situations Thomas could’ve drawn from these movies but instead we keep focusing on the old stuff. For example, why are we bringing in Mark Hamill, who’s already been done to death? Instead, what if they run into Ahmed Best, the actor who played Jar-Jar? Let’s look at how that role ruined his life and how he hates Lucas as a result. What the hell is Jake Lloyd doing nowadays? Maybe he’s a drugged out misfit who actually thinks he’s Darth Vadar. There’s a moment here where our characters walk into a car dealer. Why not make the dealer like annoying nonsensical Watto? In other words, let’s make their journey to kill Lucas turn into their own Prequel Hell. The current comedic choices here are too obvious and deal with territory that we've already seen. Let’s explore something new.

The final issue here is that The Assassination of George Lucas probably couldn't get made. It paints Star Wars and Lucas in a negative light and even though Lucas would whore out the Star Wars brand to flesh lights if it added to the bottom line, the one thing he does still care about is his personal image, which The Assassination of George Lucas…well…assassinates. That would mean you’d have to make this movie without any Star Wars paraphernalia whatsoever, which I don’t think is possible. That’s not to say all is lost, however. Pretty much all scripts are calling cards anyways, so if this made the right people laugh, it could open the door to a career.

The Assassination of George Lucas was a cute script. But if it's going to compete in the ultra-competitive spec comedy market, it will need to dig deeper.

Script link: The Assassination Of George Lucas

[ ] What the hell did I just read?
[x] wasn’t for me
[ ] worth the read
[ ] impressive
[ ] genius

What I learned: Your comedies, even the goofiest ones, should contain some sort of theme - some sort of statement you're trying to get across with your story. When I finished The Assassination of George Lucas I felt…empty. Without a larger statement, the story experience dissolved as soon as it was over. One of the reasons Toy Story 3 was so great (and all of Pixar’s movies – which put a heavy emphasis on theme) was that it kept harping on the theme of “moving on.” That there are phases in your life where you have to move forward, even if you don’t want to. In Liar Liar the theme was obviously “truth” and the consequences of not telling it. Even in the seemingly depth-less Dumb and Dumber, the theme is “taking a chance.” Refusing to be held back by the rules and restrictions of society. There’s an opportunity in The Assassination of George Lucas to write a movie about people who are afraid to grow up. Had that been explored here, this script would’ve lingered in the reader’s mind, instead of disappearing into space like the opening crawl.

Calling all pro writers and bloggers - an update on the collaborative writing project

At present, I have 18 people ready to go for the collaborative writing project discussed in this entry. That's enough for two teams, though if I get an influx of people in the next few days, I'll expand that to three.

A couple people have written in with suggestions that they'd like to see an "all-star" team made up of screenwriting bloggers. I haven't asked any other bloggers directly, but I absolutely would welcome their contributions. I might even send some emails to my counterparts and see if there's any interest.

Perhaps this idea is too ambitious for the first go-round of this experiment, but I'd love to get a true all-star team made up of working screenwriters. I know there are a few who read this blog regularly, and if you fit that criteria we'd love to have you. If anyone has a direct line to any pro writers, please email or tweet them this blog post.

In brief, here's the idea and the rules:

- the product is a screenplay written round-robin style 10 pages at a time.

- there will be no treatment or plot breakdown. Each writer picks up where the previous one leaves off and is free to send the story in any direction they wish.

- "Yes, and..?" style of improv is suggested. In other words, a writer cannot unfairly "deny" or undo details that have been established by previous writers. Shocking twists that redefine those earlier details are, of course, encouraged.

- I will write the first ten pages. From there, each writer will have a week to produce ten pages when their turn in the rotation comes up.

- Each writer takes only one turn.

- Multiple teams may be working at the same time. The only common element is the first ten pages. Otherwise there is no creative overlap among the scripts or the writers.

- Have fun and be creative.

Pros, I recognize many of you are extremely busy. I'm hoping that you'll find this a fun and freeing exercise, and perhaps one that other writers might find educational. We've seen what writers can do when they have a plan - now let's see how they handle being written into a corner.

You can reach me at zuulthereader@gmail.com.

Calling all pro writers and bloggers - an update on the collaborative writing project

At present, I have 18 people ready to go for the collaborative writing project discussed in this entry. That's enough for two teams, though if I get an influx of people in the next few days, I'll expand that to three.

A couple people have written in with suggestions that they'd like to see an "all-star" team made up of screenwriting bloggers. I haven't asked any other bloggers directly, but I absolutely would welcome their contributions. I might even send some emails to my counterparts and see if there's any interest.

Perhaps this idea is too ambitious for the first go-round of this experiment, but I'd love to get a true all-star team made up of working screenwriters. I know there are a few who read this blog regularly, and if you fit that criteria we'd love to have you. If anyone has a direct line to any pro writers, please email or tweet them this blog post.

In brief, here's the idea and the rules:

- the product is a screenplay written round-robin style 10 pages at a time.

- there will be no treatment or plot breakdown. Each writer picks up where the previous one leaves off and is free to send the story in any direction they wish.

- "Yes, and..?" style of improv is suggested. In other words, a writer cannot unfairly "deny" or undo details that have been established by previous writers. Shocking twists that redefine those earlier details are, of course, encouraged.

- I will write the first ten pages. From there, each writer will have a week to produce ten pages when their turn in the rotation comes up.

- Each writer takes only one turn.

- Multiple teams may be working at the same time. The only common element is the first ten pages. Otherwise there is no creative overlap among the scripts or the writers.

- Have fun and be creative.

Pros, I recognize many of you are extremely busy. I'm hoping that you'll find this a fun and freeing exercise, and perhaps one that other writers might find educational. We've seen what writers can do when they have a plan - now let's see how they handle being written into a corner.

You can reach me at zuulthereader@gmail.com.

The End Of History

Genre: Sci-Fi
Premise: A group of time-travellers jump back to 12th Century China in search of a rare gene that will save mankind. Problems arise when they find themselves in the direct path of Genghis Khan’s army.
About: Details are scarce about this one, but it was acquired by Sony earlier in the year. David Gleeson is an Irish writer-director who wrote and directed a couple of small features in his home country.
Writer: David Gleeson
Details: 116 pages – Feb 10th 2010 draft (This is an early draft of the script. The situations, characters, and plot may change significantly by the time of the film's release. This is not a definitive statement about the project, but rather an analysis of this unique draft as it pertains to the craft of screenwriting).


When trying to find out more about this low-key project, I made a call out to my Facebook peeps for more information. A Scriptshadow reader chimed back, “This sold?!! I thought this was going to be the Amateur Week special on Friday. It is so f**kin' bad!”

To you, Mike, I say….I couldn’t disagree more!

The End Of History starts out much like the sci-fi darling “Children Of Men.” It’s the near future and less than 5000 women in the world are pregnant. Something is preventing the human race from procreating, and if it continues, in about 90 years, earth will look like downtown Pyongyang.

Cool-headed Nathan Scott, however, is going to make sure that doesn’t happen. No place should look like Pyongyang dammit. The Colonel is leading a combination military/scientist team back to 12th Century China, where they’ve located a band of warriors that contain the extinct gene which can reverse the procreation problem.

Scott has a vested interest in the mission. His baby daughter is fighting the killer disease, and won’t live without a gene transplant.

The mission is supposed to be simple. The clan they’re targeting is militarily formidable for the 12th Century, but their weapons might as well be toothpicks compared to what the Americans are packing. Actually, there’s a specific reason the Americans chose this clan. In 100 years, Genghis Khan will wipe every single one of them out on his march through China, permanently erasing any historic influence their presence may have had.

Indeed, when they jump, the sailing is smooth. They infiltrate the fortress without much resistence and the sci-tech team quickly goes to work extracting the gene. But after sending up a quick satellite to get a lay of the land, a horrifying video plays back. An army of 100,000 soldiers is marching DIRECTLY TOWARDS THEM.

Genghis Khan’s army.

There was a malfunction in the jump. They jumped back 100 years LATER than they were supposed to. Which means they’re right in the path of that Ghegis Khan massacre that was the whole reason they chose this location in the first place. Ahh, the irony.

To make matters worse, the hastily scrapped together tech starts malfunctioning in bunches, and after a major explosion, their time travel apparatus is all but toast. The group realizes they can salvage a small piece of the flux-capacitor, but only enough to send a message into the future, not to jump. Their plan is to fix it as fast as possible and send out an SOS. But even under the most optimistic time frame, Genghis Khan is going to arrive before they finish. And that means the unthinkable. A group of rag-tag 21st Century American soldiers is going to have to hold off the most ruthless army in history.

Will they be able to do it?

I have to give it to Glesson. This script straddles the line between ridiculous and awesome so finely that at first I wasn’t sure which side it would land on. But after it got going, I decided on awesome. Usually, in these sci-fi/historic hybrids, either the sci-fi is shoddy and the history is exceptional, or the history looks like it was researched by an 8 year old and the sci-fi is brilliant. Rarely do you find a script where both are handled well, but that’s exactly what happens here, and why I liked the script so much.

And believe me, this isn’t easy to do. One only needs to “travel back” a few years to the abombination that was Timeline to see how to royally fuck up an idea like this. I don’t think I’ve ever heard, read, or seen a time travel story as bad as that monstrosity. There were two castles. People were running back and forth between them for no reason. The time travel had 16,814 rules you had to remember. It was embarrasingly bad.

What The End of History wisely does is it keeps the time-travel plot simple. There’s never a moment where you don’t know exactly what the portagonists’ goals are, and that’s important in a script like this.

I also loved the technology of the war. Oh, I’m not talking about the 21st century technology. I’m talking about all the wacky weapons Khan had in his arsenal. This guy had rudimentary Napalm at his disposal. He had early versions of dirty bombs. He even had an ancient version of the damn Predator (the pilot-less airplane). Watching him unleash these toys on a shell-shocked 21st century army was, in a word, sweet.

However, there were things that kept this from becoming the next Source Code. First, I’m getting tired of these serviceable but ultimately unimaginative motivations for main characters. Yes, Scott has a daughter affected by the killer disease, and that makes his mission personal, but it’s such a derivative motivation that it doesn’t resonate with us. We’ve seen it so many times before. Contrast that with Leo’s character in Inception. Sure there were some problems with the kids storyline, but I have to admit, I don’t remember seeing a character with that particular motivation before, which made it original and therefore powerful.

Also, to echo my sentiments on Layover, there needed to be more dissention inside the group! There’s a troublemaker here, Decker, who adds about as much conflict as an agitated Abe Vigoda. There was so much potential for his character to stir things up, but instead he observes Scott pull off a couple of neat military maneuvers and becomes his BFF. Dissention inside the group – conflict – always makes a mission/goal more interesting, because there’s more for the hero to overcome. If you want to see it how this can help a screenplay, read The Grey.

I also thought Gleeson missed a couple of opportunities. One thing he doesn’t adequately address is what happens if they destroy Khan’s army. Obviously, all of history would change. If they had to fight off this army, but only enough to keep from getting killed, and not enough to become a part of the history books – that’s the kind of unique obstacle that could’ve introduced some interesting challenges. There’s also a female character on Scott’s team who’s half-Asian. What if she were a direct descendent of someone in Genghis Khan’s army? What if killing them wiped her out of existence? Even better, what if she was the romantic lead (a surprisingly absent piece of this puzzle). That would create quite a dilemma as well.

But hey, that’s neither here nor there. Sure the script has some problems (like all time travel stories – there are some holes) but it’s a great spec premise. Contained area. Contained time frame. High concept. These are the kind of scripts that sell when written well, so I’m not surprised that it did.

Still needs to be developed, but overall, enjoyable.


[ ] What the hell did I just read?
[ ] wasn’t for me
[x] worth the read
[ ] impressive
[ ] genius

What I learned: Whenever you write a time travel flick, you have to deal with one specific problem: “Why can’t they just go back and do it again?” The End of History, unfortunately, doesn’t deal with this question satisfactorily. But this is exactly why a franchise like The Terminator is dying. If they fail in killing Sarah Connor or her son, they can just send back another Terminator a few weeks later (or earlier). There’s no end to how many times they can try to assassinate our heroes.

The recommended solution to this isn’t as difficult as you might think. You simply have to make clear that this is a one-shot deal. Maybe the technology is unproven. Maybe the time machine is so expensive that if it breaks, that’s it. Maybe there’s something in your own time travel design that simply doesn’t allow them to jump more than once. If you do it this way, the mission actually means something. Because everyone knows that there are no second chances here. Ignore that rule, and you have a bunch of sophisticated fanboys (the core fanbase for this kind of film) in the audience thinking, “None of this matters cause they can just do it again.”

The End Of History

Genre: Sci-Fi
Premise: A group of time-travellers jump back to 12th Century China in search of a rare gene that will save mankind. Problems arise when they find themselves in the direct path of Genghis Khan’s army.
About: Details are scarce about this one, but it was acquired by Sony earlier in the year. David Gleeson is an Irish writer-director who wrote and directed a couple of small features in his home country.
Writer: David Gleeson
Details: 116 pages – Feb 10th 2010 draft (This is an early draft of the script. The situations, characters, and plot may change significantly by the time of the film's release. This is not a definitive statement about the project, but rather an analysis of this unique draft as it pertains to the craft of screenwriting).


When trying to find out more about this low-key project, I made a call out to my Facebook peeps for more information. A Scriptshadow reader chimed back, “This sold?!! I thought this was going to be the Amateur Week special on Friday. It is so f**kin' bad!”

To you, Mike, I say….I couldn’t disagree more!

The End Of History starts out much like the sci-fi darling “Children Of Men.” It’s the near future and less than 5000 women in the world are pregnant. Something is preventing the human race from procreating, and if it continues, in about 90 years, earth will look like downtown Pyongyang.

Cool-headed Nathan Scott, however, is going to make sure that doesn’t happen. No place should look like Pyongyang dammit. The Colonel is leading a combination military/scientist team back to 12th Century China, where they’ve located a band of warriors that contain the extinct gene which can reverse the procreation problem.

Scott has a vested interest in the mission. His baby daughter is fighting the killer disease, and won’t live without a gene transplant.

The mission is supposed to be simple. The clan they’re targeting is militarily formidable for the 12th Century, but their weapons might as well be toothpicks compared to what the Americans are packing. Actually, there’s a specific reason the Americans chose this clan. In 100 years, Genghis Khan will wipe every single one of them out on his march through China, permanently erasing any historic influence their presence may have had.

Indeed, when they jump, the sailing is smooth. They infiltrate the fortress without much resistence and the sci-tech team quickly goes to work extracting the gene. But after sending up a quick satellite to get a lay of the land, a horrifying video plays back. An army of 100,000 soldiers is marching DIRECTLY TOWARDS THEM.

Genghis Khan’s army.

There was a malfunction in the jump. They jumped back 100 years LATER than they were supposed to. Which means they’re right in the path of that Ghegis Khan massacre that was the whole reason they chose this location in the first place. Ahh, the irony.

To make matters worse, the hastily scrapped together tech starts malfunctioning in bunches, and after a major explosion, their time travel apparatus is all but toast. The group realizes they can salvage a small piece of the flux-capacitor, but only enough to send a message into the future, not to jump. Their plan is to fix it as fast as possible and send out an SOS. But even under the most optimistic time frame, Genghis Khan is going to arrive before they finish. And that means the unthinkable. A group of rag-tag 21st Century American soldiers is going to have to hold off the most ruthless army in history.

Will they be able to do it?

I have to give it to Glesson. This script straddles the line between ridiculous and awesome so finely that at first I wasn’t sure which side it would land on. But after it got going, I decided on awesome. Usually, in these sci-fi/historic hybrids, either the sci-fi is shoddy and the history is exceptional, or the history looks like it was researched by an 8 year old and the sci-fi is brilliant. Rarely do you find a script where both are handled well, but that’s exactly what happens here, and why I liked the script so much.

And believe me, this isn’t easy to do. One only needs to “travel back” a few years to the abombination that was Timeline to see how to royally fuck up an idea like this. I don’t think I’ve ever heard, read, or seen a time travel story as bad as that monstrosity. There were two castles. People were running back and forth between them for no reason. The time travel had 16,814 rules you had to remember. It was embarrasingly bad.

What The End of History wisely does is it keeps the time-travel plot simple. There’s never a moment where you don’t know exactly what the portagonists’ goals are, and that’s important in a script like this.

I also loved the technology of the war. Oh, I’m not talking about the 21st century technology. I’m talking about all the wacky weapons Khan had in his arsenal. This guy had rudimentary Napalm at his disposal. He had early versions of dirty bombs. He even had an ancient version of the damn Predator (the pilot-less airplane). Watching him unleash these toys on a shell-shocked 21st century army was, in a word, sweet.

However, there were things that kept this from becoming the next Source Code. First, I’m getting tired of these serviceable but ultimately unimaginative motivations for main characters. Yes, Scott has a daughter affected by the killer disease, and that makes his mission personal, but it’s such a derivative motivation that it doesn’t resonate with us. We’ve seen it so many times before. Contrast that with Leo’s character in Inception. Sure there were some problems with the kids storyline, but I have to admit, I don’t remember seeing a character with that particular motivation before, which made it original and therefore powerful.

Also, to echo my sentiments on Layover, there needed to be more dissention inside the group! There’s a troublemaker here, Decker, who adds about as much conflict as an agitated Abe Vigoda. There was so much potential for his character to stir things up, but instead he observes Scott pull off a couple of neat military maneuvers and becomes his BFF. Dissention inside the group – conflict – always makes a mission/goal more interesting, because there’s more for the hero to overcome. If you want to see it how this can help a screenplay, read The Grey.

I also thought Gleeson missed a couple of opportunities. One thing he doesn’t adequately address is what happens if they destroy Khan’s army. Obviously, all of history would change. If they had to fight off this army, but only enough to keep from getting killed, and not enough to become a part of the history books – that’s the kind of unique obstacle that could’ve introduced some interesting challenges. There’s also a female character on Scott’s team who’s half-Asian. What if she were a direct descendent of someone in Genghis Khan’s army? What if killing them wiped her out of existence? Even better, what if she was the romantic lead (a surprisingly absent piece of this puzzle). That would create quite a dilemma as well.

But hey, that’s neither here nor there. Sure the script has some problems (like all time travel stories – there are some holes) but it’s a great spec premise. Contained area. Contained time frame. High concept. These are the kind of scripts that sell when written well, so I’m not surprised that it did.

Still needs to be developed, but overall, enjoyable.


[ ] What the hell did I just read?
[ ] wasn’t for me
[x] worth the read
[ ] impressive
[ ] genius

What I learned: Whenever you write a time travel flick, you have to deal with one specific problem: “Why can’t they just go back and do it again?” The End of History, unfortunately, doesn’t deal with this question satisfactorily. But this is exactly why a franchise like The Terminator is dying. If they fail in killing Sarah Connor or her son, they can just send back another Terminator a few weeks later (or earlier). There’s no end to how many times they can try to assassinate our heroes.

The recommended solution to this isn’t as difficult as you might think. You simply have to make clear that this is a one-shot deal. Maybe the technology is unproven. Maybe the time machine is so expensive that if it breaks, that’s it. Maybe there’s something in your own time travel design that simply doesn’t allow them to jump more than once. If you do it this way, the mission actually means something. Because everyone knows that there are no second chances here. Ignore that rule, and you have a bunch of sophisticated fanboys (the core fanbase for this kind of film) in the audience thinking, “None of this matters cause they can just do it again.”

The End Of History

Genre: Sci-Fi
Premise: A group of time-travellers jump back to 12th Century China in search of a rare gene that will save mankind. Problems arise when they find themselves in the direct path of Genghis Khan’s army.
About: Details are scarce about this one, but it was acquired by Sony earlier in the year. David Gleeson is an Irish writer-director who wrote and directed a couple of small features in his home country.
Writer: David Gleeson
Details: 116 pages – Feb 10th 2010 draft (This is an early draft of the script. The situations, characters, and plot may change significantly by the time of the film's release. This is not a definitive statement about the project, but rather an analysis of this unique draft as it pertains to the craft of screenwriting).


When trying to find out more about this low-key project, I made a call out to my Facebook peeps for more information. A Scriptshadow reader chimed back, “This sold?!! I thought this was going to be the Amateur Week special on Friday. It is so f**kin' bad!”

To you, Mike, I say….I couldn’t disagree more!

The End Of History starts out much like the sci-fi darling “Children Of Men.” It’s the near future and less than 5000 women in the world are pregnant. Something is preventing the human race from procreating, and if it continues, in about 90 years, earth will look like downtown Pyongyang.

Cool-headed Nathan Scott, however, is going to make sure that doesn’t happen. No place should look like Pyongyang dammit. The Colonel is leading a combination military/scientist team back to 12th Century China, where they’ve located a band of warriors that contain the extinct gene which can reverse the procreation problem.

Scott has a vested interest in the mission. His baby daughter is fighting the killer disease, and won’t live without a gene transplant.

The mission is supposed to be simple. The clan they’re targeting is militarily formidable for the 12th Century, but their weapons might as well be toothpicks compared to what the Americans are packing. Actually, there’s a specific reason the Americans chose this clan. In 100 years, Genghis Khan will wipe every single one of them out on his march through China, permanently erasing any historic influence their presence may have had.

Indeed, when they jump, the sailing is smooth. They infiltrate the fortress without much resistence and the sci-tech team quickly goes to work extracting the gene. But after sending up a quick satellite to get a lay of the land, a horrifying video plays back. An army of 100,000 soldiers is marching DIRECTLY TOWARDS THEM.

Genghis Khan’s army.

There was a malfunction in the jump. They jumped back 100 years LATER than they were supposed to. Which means they’re right in the path of that Ghegis Khan massacre that was the whole reason they chose this location in the first place. Ahh, the irony.

To make matters worse, the hastily scrapped together tech starts malfunctioning in bunches, and after a major explosion, their time travel apparatus is all but toast. The group realizes they can salvage a small piece of the flux-capacitor, but only enough to send a message into the future, not to jump. Their plan is to fix it as fast as possible and send out an SOS. But even under the most optimistic time frame, Genghis Khan is going to arrive before they finish. And that means the unthinkable. A group of rag-tag 21st Century American soldiers is going to have to hold off the most ruthless army in history.

Will they be able to do it?

I have to give it to Glesson. This script straddles the line between ridiculous and awesome so finely that at first I wasn’t sure which side it would land on. But after it got going, I decided on awesome. Usually, in these sci-fi/historic hybrids, either the sci-fi is shoddy and the history is exceptional, or the history looks like it was researched by an 8 year old and the sci-fi is brilliant. Rarely do you find a script where both are handled well, but that’s exactly what happens here, and why I liked the script so much.

And believe me, this isn’t easy to do. One only needs to “travel back” a few years to the abombination that was Timeline to see how to royally fuck up an idea like this. I don’t think I’ve ever heard, read, or seen a time travel story as bad as that monstrosity. There were two castles. People were running back and forth between them for no reason. The time travel had 16,814 rules you had to remember. It was embarrasingly bad.

What The End of History wisely does is it keeps the time-travel plot simple. There’s never a moment where you don’t know exactly what the portagonists’ goals are, and that’s important in a script like this.

I also loved the technology of the war. Oh, I’m not talking about the 21st century technology. I’m talking about all the wacky weapons Khan had in his arsenal. This guy had rudimentary Napalm at his disposal. He had early versions of dirty bombs. He even had an ancient version of the damn Predator (the pilot-less airplane). Watching him unleash these toys on a shell-shocked 21st century army was, in a word, sweet.

However, there were things that kept this from becoming the next Source Code. First, I’m getting tired of these serviceable but ultimately unimaginative motivations for main characters. Yes, Scott has a daughter affected by the killer disease, and that makes his mission personal, but it’s such a derivative motivation that it doesn’t resonate with us. We’ve seen it so many times before. Contrast that with Leo’s character in Inception. Sure there were some problems with the kids storyline, but I have to admit, I don’t remember seeing a character with that particular motivation before, which made it original and therefore powerful.

Also, to echo my sentiments on Layover, there needed to be more dissention inside the group! There’s a troublemaker here, Decker, who adds about as much conflict as an agitated Abe Vigoda. There was so much potential for his character to stir things up, but instead he observes Scott pull off a couple of neat military maneuvers and becomes his BFF. Dissention inside the group – conflict – always makes a mission/goal more interesting, because there’s more for the hero to overcome. If you want to see it how this can help a screenplay, read The Grey.

I also thought Gleeson missed a couple of opportunities. One thing he doesn’t adequately address is what happens if they destroy Khan’s army. Obviously, all of history would change. If they had to fight off this army, but only enough to keep from getting killed, and not enough to become a part of the history books – that’s the kind of unique obstacle that could’ve introduced some interesting challenges. There’s also a female character on Scott’s team who’s half-Asian. What if she were a direct descendent of someone in Genghis Khan’s army? What if killing them wiped her out of existence? Even better, what if she was the romantic lead (a surprisingly absent piece of this puzzle). That would create quite a dilemma as well.

But hey, that’s neither here nor there. Sure the script has some problems (like all time travel stories – there are some holes) but it’s a great spec premise. Contained area. Contained time frame. High concept. These are the kind of scripts that sell when written well, so I’m not surprised that it did.

Still needs to be developed, but overall, enjoyable.


[ ] What the hell did I just read?
[ ] wasn’t for me
[x] worth the read
[ ] impressive
[ ] genius

What I learned: Whenever you write a time travel flick, you have to deal with one specific problem: “Why can’t they just go back and do it again?” The End of History, unfortunately, doesn’t deal with this question satisfactorily. But this is exactly why a franchise like The Terminator is dying. If they fail in killing Sarah Connor or her son, they can just send back another Terminator a few weeks later (or earlier). There’s no end to how many times they can try to assassinate our heroes.

The recommended solution to this isn’t as difficult as you might think. You simply have to make clear that this is a one-shot deal. Maybe the technology is unproven. Maybe the time machine is so expensive that if it breaks, that’s it. Maybe there’s something in your own time travel design that simply doesn’t allow them to jump more than once. If you do it this way, the mission actually means something. Because everyone knows that there are no second chances here. Ignore that rule, and you have a bunch of sophisticated fanboys (the core fanbase for this kind of film) in the audience thinking, “None of this matters cause they can just do it again.”

The End Of History

Genre: Sci-Fi
Premise: A group of time-travellers jump back to 12th Century China in search of a rare gene that will save mankind. Problems arise when they find themselves in the direct path of Genghis Khan’s army.
About: Details are scarce about this one, but it was acquired by Sony earlier in the year. David Gleeson is an Irish writer-director who wrote and directed a couple of small features in his home country.
Writer: David Gleeson
Details: 116 pages – Feb 10th 2010 draft (This is an early draft of the script. The situations, characters, and plot may change significantly by the time of the film's release. This is not a definitive statement about the project, but rather an analysis of this unique draft as it pertains to the craft of screenwriting).


When trying to find out more about this low-key project, I made a call out to my Facebook peeps for more information. A Scriptshadow reader chimed back, “This sold?!! I thought this was going to be the Amateur Week special on Friday. It is so f**kin' bad!”

To you, Mike, I say….I couldn’t disagree more!

The End Of History starts out much like the sci-fi darling “Children Of Men.” It’s the near future and less than 5000 women in the world are pregnant. Something is preventing the human race from procreating, and if it continues, in about 90 years, earth will look like downtown Pyongyang.

Cool-headed Nathan Scott, however, is going to make sure that doesn’t happen. No place should look like Pyongyang dammit. The Colonel is leading a combination military/scientist team back to 12th Century China, where they’ve located a band of warriors that contain the extinct gene which can reverse the procreation problem.

Scott has a vested interest in the mission. His baby daughter is fighting the killer disease, and won’t live without a gene transplant.

The mission is supposed to be simple. The clan they’re targeting is militarily formidable for the 12th Century, but their weapons might as well be toothpicks compared to what the Americans are packing. Actually, there’s a specific reason the Americans chose this clan. In 100 years, Genghis Khan will wipe every single one of them out on his march through China, permanently erasing any historic influence their presence may have had.

Indeed, when they jump, the sailing is smooth. They infiltrate the fortress without much resistence and the sci-tech team quickly goes to work extracting the gene. But after sending up a quick satellite to get a lay of the land, a horrifying video plays back. An army of 100,000 soldiers is marching DIRECTLY TOWARDS THEM.

Genghis Khan’s army.

There was a malfunction in the jump. They jumped back 100 years LATER than they were supposed to. Which means they’re right in the path of that Ghegis Khan massacre that was the whole reason they chose this location in the first place. Ahh, the irony.

To make matters worse, the hastily scrapped together tech starts malfunctioning in bunches, and after a major explosion, their time travel apparatus is all but toast. The group realizes they can salvage a small piece of the flux-capacitor, but only enough to send a message into the future, not to jump. Their plan is to fix it as fast as possible and send out an SOS. But even under the most optimistic time frame, Genghis Khan is going to arrive before they finish. And that means the unthinkable. A group of rag-tag 21st Century American soldiers is going to have to hold off the most ruthless army in history.

Will they be able to do it?

I have to give it to Glesson. This script straddles the line between ridiculous and awesome so finely that at first I wasn’t sure which side it would land on. But after it got going, I decided on awesome. Usually, in these sci-fi/historic hybrids, either the sci-fi is shoddy and the history is exceptional, or the history looks like it was researched by an 8 year old and the sci-fi is brilliant. Rarely do you find a script where both are handled well, but that’s exactly what happens here, and why I liked the script so much.

And believe me, this isn’t easy to do. One only needs to “travel back” a few years to the abombination that was Timeline to see how to royally fuck up an idea like this. I don’t think I’ve ever heard, read, or seen a time travel story as bad as that monstrosity. There were two castles. People were running back and forth between them for no reason. The time travel had 16,814 rules you had to remember. It was embarrasingly bad.

What The End of History wisely does is it keeps the time-travel plot simple. There’s never a moment where you don’t know exactly what the portagonists’ goals are, and that’s important in a script like this.

I also loved the technology of the war. Oh, I’m not talking about the 21st century technology. I’m talking about all the wacky weapons Khan had in his arsenal. This guy had rudimentary Napalm at his disposal. He had early versions of dirty bombs. He even had an ancient version of the damn Predator (the pilot-less airplane). Watching him unleash these toys on a shell-shocked 21st century army was, in a word, sweet.

However, there were things that kept this from becoming the next Source Code. First, I’m getting tired of these serviceable but ultimately unimaginative motivations for main characters. Yes, Scott has a daughter affected by the killer disease, and that makes his mission personal, but it’s such a derivative motivation that it doesn’t resonate with us. We’ve seen it so many times before. Contrast that with Leo’s character in Inception. Sure there were some problems with the kids storyline, but I have to admit, I don’t remember seeing a character with that particular motivation before, which made it original and therefore powerful.

Also, to echo my sentiments on Layover, there needed to be more dissention inside the group! There’s a troublemaker here, Decker, who adds about as much conflict as an agitated Abe Vigoda. There was so much potential for his character to stir things up, but instead he observes Scott pull off a couple of neat military maneuvers and becomes his BFF. Dissention inside the group – conflict – always makes a mission/goal more interesting, because there’s more for the hero to overcome. If you want to see it how this can help a screenplay, read The Grey.

I also thought Gleeson missed a couple of opportunities. One thing he doesn’t adequately address is what happens if they destroy Khan’s army. Obviously, all of history would change. If they had to fight off this army, but only enough to keep from getting killed, and not enough to become a part of the history books – that’s the kind of unique obstacle that could’ve introduced some interesting challenges. There’s also a female character on Scott’s team who’s half-Asian. What if she were a direct descendent of someone in Genghis Khan’s army? What if killing them wiped her out of existence? Even better, what if she was the romantic lead (a surprisingly absent piece of this puzzle). That would create quite a dilemma as well.

But hey, that’s neither here nor there. Sure the script has some problems (like all time travel stories – there are some holes) but it’s a great spec premise. Contained area. Contained time frame. High concept. These are the kind of scripts that sell when written well, so I’m not surprised that it did.

Still needs to be developed, but overall, enjoyable.


[ ] What the hell did I just read?
[ ] wasn’t for me
[x] worth the read
[ ] impressive
[ ] genius

What I learned: Whenever you write a time travel flick, you have to deal with one specific problem: “Why can’t they just go back and do it again?” The End of History, unfortunately, doesn’t deal with this question satisfactorily. But this is exactly why a franchise like The Terminator is dying. If they fail in killing Sarah Connor or her son, they can just send back another Terminator a few weeks later (or earlier). There’s no end to how many times they can try to assassinate our heroes.

The recommended solution to this isn’t as difficult as you might think. You simply have to make clear that this is a one-shot deal. Maybe the technology is unproven. Maybe the time machine is so expensive that if it breaks, that’s it. Maybe there’s something in your own time travel design that simply doesn’t allow them to jump more than once. If you do it this way, the mission actually means something. Because everyone knows that there are no second chances here. Ignore that rule, and you have a bunch of sophisticated fanboys (the core fanbase for this kind of film) in the audience thinking, “None of this matters cause they can just do it again.”

Reader mail: Public domain and Is there still a place for romantic comedies?

Jordan asks:

I recently came across a public domain superhero that has not been used in mainstream media for quite some time that I would be interested in reviving in some form. Before I start on the script, though, I would like to ask if any good can come from pitching a public domain story. I don't have to pay any options and neither does a studio. If the studio wanted, they could take a look at the project, decide to pursue it, and then then dump me in favor of another writer. I know you talked about how writing a parody script is essentially useless, so could the same be said for a public domain property?

I am also working on a spec at the moment, so could it be beneficial to show them original material if they are interested in the project?


I tend to think there's nothing wrong with mining the public domain, so long as you keep a few things in mind. In the case of a superhero, it's probably most useful if the character in question is familiar enough to audiences to have some branding value. If it's EXTREMELY obscure, there might be a benefit to writing it up as a completely original spec rather than a public domain adaptation. (On the other hand, adaptations have been hot for a while - but mostly in cases when there's some name recognition value.)

The most important thing: make absolutely sure that the character you're dealing with is in the public domain. There have been so many copyright extensions over the years that there's always a chance that character is still owned by someone. Disney has been very good about lobbying to extend copyright protection because they NEED to maintain ownership of Mickey Mouse, who first appeared in the 1920s. Superman didn't come along until 1938, and as he hasn't fallen into the public domain yet, I'm unsure if any other superheroes have. (Though I suppose it's possible assuming the owner had no interest in maintaining their rights.)

As a friend reminded me in this post, the public domain isn't always cut and dried.

As for the studio stealing your idea, well... that's the risk of working with characters you don't own. However, if they were blown away by your take, it's going to be a hell of a lot easier to just buy your script and put you to work instead of hiring another writer to come in and do it on assignment. (Think about it, as a newbie, you're going to be cheaper, even if they eventually boot you off the project and hire another writer for rewrites.)

As for original material, I'd say it can't hurt you, so long as it's as solid as your adapted material. Heck, my strategy might be to use the adaptation to get the meeting and the contacts, then see if there's anyway to capitalize on that to sell your original script. Don't go into any such meetings pushing both scripts, but be on the lookout to mention that you're wrapping up a new script. If they express interest in anything else you've written, don't be shy about mentioning the new one.

Romantic at Heart asks:

With the foul stench of Bromance in the air, is there even a place for traditional male/female romantic comedy anymore? And if you do take the time to write one, does it have to be jaded and sarcasm laden, or is there still room for a "Sweet Home Alabama?"

A manager I used to know once referred to romantic comedies as "perennials." At least, in this manager's estimation, romantic comedies would never go completely out of style. I'd like to think there's still room for a rom-com that isn't jaded and sarcastic. A rom-com with a great concept and enjoyable characters will always sell.

Reader mail: Public domain and Is there still a place for romantic comedies?

Jordan asks:

I recently came across a public domain superhero that has not been used in mainstream media for quite some time that I would be interested in reviving in some form. Before I start on the script, though, I would like to ask if any good can come from pitching a public domain story. I don't have to pay any options and neither does a studio. If the studio wanted, they could take a look at the project, decide to pursue it, and then then dump me in favor of another writer. I know you talked about how writing a parody script is essentially useless, so could the same be said for a public domain property?

I am also working on a spec at the moment, so could it be beneficial to show them original material if they are interested in the project?


I tend to think there's nothing wrong with mining the public domain, so long as you keep a few things in mind. In the case of a superhero, it's probably most useful if the character in question is familiar enough to audiences to have some branding value. If it's EXTREMELY obscure, there might be a benefit to writing it up as a completely original spec rather than a public domain adaptation. (On the other hand, adaptations have been hot for a while - but mostly in cases when there's some name recognition value.)

The most important thing: make absolutely sure that the character you're dealing with is in the public domain. There have been so many copyright extensions over the years that there's always a chance that character is still owned by someone. Disney has been very good about lobbying to extend copyright protection because they NEED to maintain ownership of Mickey Mouse, who first appeared in the 1920s. Superman didn't come along until 1938, and as he hasn't fallen into the public domain yet, I'm unsure if any other superheroes have. (Though I suppose it's possible assuming the owner had no interest in maintaining their rights.)

As a friend reminded me in this post, the public domain isn't always cut and dried.

As for the studio stealing your idea, well... that's the risk of working with characters you don't own. However, if they were blown away by your take, it's going to be a hell of a lot easier to just buy your script and put you to work instead of hiring another writer to come in and do it on assignment. (Think about it, as a newbie, you're going to be cheaper, even if they eventually boot you off the project and hire another writer for rewrites.)

As for original material, I'd say it can't hurt you, so long as it's as solid as your adapted material. Heck, my strategy might be to use the adaptation to get the meeting and the contacts, then see if there's anyway to capitalize on that to sell your original script. Don't go into any such meetings pushing both scripts, but be on the lookout to mention that you're wrapping up a new script. If they express interest in anything else you've written, don't be shy about mentioning the new one.

Romantic at Heart asks:

With the foul stench of Bromance in the air, is there even a place for traditional male/female romantic comedy anymore? And if you do take the time to write one, does it have to be jaded and sarcasm laden, or is there still room for a "Sweet Home Alabama?"

A manager I used to know once referred to romantic comedies as "perennials." At least, in this manager's estimation, romantic comedies would never go completely out of style. I'd like to think there's still room for a rom-com that isn't jaded and sarcastic. A rom-com with a great concept and enjoyable characters will always sell.