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Gravity & Buried – Script Reviews

Just quickly chiming in with my initial thoughts on the scripts for Alfonso Cuaron’s upcoming space adventure Gravity and the coffin-escape thriller Buried starring Ryan Reynolds.  I’ll try to keep spoilers to a minimum.

GRAVITY

The Bottom Line: Good script and it could make a great film if done right (and with some re-writes).

First things first – there’s no way this movie is being made as one single continuous shot, not without major re-writes. Not only are there a number of moments were we are shown things from a completely different location than the protagonist is in, but it is not completely real time and there are a few quick time jumps.  It could work in real time, there’s just have to be some changes made. It will likely be made with a very limited number of takes and a few select extremely long takes. I remember reading that the first 20 minutes would be one shot, and I can definitely see that happening.

Angelina would have been terrible for this, and if I had read the script without any casting knowledge, the first person who would have come to my head would be Natalie Portman. So great casting there if it goes though. I could also really see RDJ in the smallish supporting role. There are only 3 characters ever on screen and the third gets killed off in the first 3 minutes.

The movie is very basic and essentially a stripped down adventure thriller where we follow basically one character in a race against time. The movie will be make or break by the acting and visuals (something I’m perfectly confident all involved will be able to pull off). Still, there so little depth to the story that I don’t think it could ever become a classic like Children of men, just a fun taught sci-fi thriller.

Some of the quips and one liners are a little cliche and stupid, but hopefully those will get taken care of in the re-write. There’s also a thing with the main female character Ryan laughing uncontrollably as a coping mechanism. It might be a nice character gimmick (and about the only thing we know about the character) but I’m having a hard time picturing it not being cheesy on the big screen.

Overall though, I have high hopes for this being an amazing movie. Oh and this better be shot on IMAX 3D cameras. Or else.

BURIED

The Bottom Line: Awful.  Truly horrible.  The concept is good but the execution is extremely lacking.

I  was really disappointing by the script. Maybe it will work better on the screen but it felt like there could have been so much more ingenuity with the storytelling then just the main character Paul on the phone calling a bunch of different people. Maybe I just had higher expectations but I feel like the writer had the idea, wrote down a few standard possibilities and stuck almost entirely to those ideas, never branching out.  It was so standard, and there were so many things the movie could have explored or explain but didn’t.  Stuff like the strong phone signal strength, that the phone never even got close to running out of batteries, that Paul never tried to find a way to escape, didn’t try to scrawl a message on the wall, etc.   It  just rang false.

I guess I wanted a movie about a guy put in an impossible situation, and about how he’s smart and finds a way out or attempts a way out.  Instead we get him on the phone yelling at a bunch of people and just lying there, being very passive.   I’m not saying make the main character out to be a genius, but I found everymove he made to be predictable and strictly reactionary.

I’m not claming to be a scriptwriting expert, but when I see a movie, I like it to either surprise me or do what it does excellently. This script did neither of those for me, though who knows how it will turn out on the screen when it has a great actor and director.

I guess the best way to explain my frustration with the script is to say it was pedestrian. Where was the surprise or the twist on the formula? There was nothing.  I’m not looking for a Shyamalan style twist or anything, it’s just every single thing about the movie was pedestrian, predictable, and cliche.  Paul? His family? The people on the phone? The kidnappers? There was nothing new or original or particularly interesting or surprising or interesting about any of them.  Even if the actual actions and outcomes weren’t or couldn’t be improved (and I thought Kill Bill and that CSI episode did this much better), the writing of the characters, their backgrounds, their motivations, their voices could all have been so much better.

If you’re familiar with television at all, this felt like a script written by a Brannon  Braga or Tim Kring rather than a Aaron Sorkin or Jason Katims.

And it shows.

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