Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Superconducting Supercollider of Sparkle Creek, Wisconsin

Genre: Sci-fi Dramedy
Synopsis: A secret supercollider underneath Sparkle Creek, Wisconsin starts wreaking havoc on the town.
About: This sold back in 2001. Koepp alone made $2.5 million dollars off the deal that also included future script commitments. He was supposed to direct it as well, but it never (or has not yet) came to be.
Writers: David Koepp and John Kamps

As you know, when I see a title like Supercollider, I have to read it. "Sparkle Creek" is an older script, written back in 2001, before 9/11, before the ultra information boom, before anyone cared about the Large Hadron Collider potentially stirring up mini-black holes that could swallow up our entire planet. I'd imagine reading this script back then would've been quite a trip. Now, I feel like I know this world a little too well, therefore a lot of the wonder was lost on me.

Still, it's a cool ride. The script starts out with our hero, Karen, a Sparkle Creek cop who's about to marry the same man for the third time, experiencing a moment of deja vu so intense, she has an emotional breakdown. There are little Matrix-like blips on the screen to clue us in that something is not quite right. Karen meets Howard, a scientist who works up at the mysterious Cyntek offices at the edge of town. Nobody knows what happens up there - and up to this point, nobody has had any reason to care.

But then, in a sacred 3 hour Sunday block known in Wisconsin as a Packers game (if you've never been to Wisconsin, when the Packers play, the entire state shuts down for 3 hours - I am NOT exaggerating this) a strange glitch occurs in the air, and Karen and her family watch incredulously as horses run straight through their home! Everyone freaks out, running outside, trying to figure out what's going on. Everywhere they look are strange waves floating through the air. Images that look like television shows and commercials - but they're right there in front of you!

Luckily the madness ends and everybody, true to their roots, hurries back inside to catch the end of the Packers game. Karen, though, isn't satisfied and decides to investigate. She finds a mysterious group of men that she follows up to the Cytek offices and then demands to be let in. She's given permission to meet the head scientist who turns out to be...Howard (the geeky guy she met earlier).

Howard informs her that beneath Sparkle Creek, Wisconsin is a 28 mile long Supercollider (a large atom-smasher) that is conducting experiments for "the good of mankind." Supercolliders have a sort of mythical status because they perform experiments that have never been performed before. Like trying to recreate the Big Bang. Unfortunately, nobody knows exactly what will happen if these experiments go wrong. That is until now.

Harold attempts to show Karen how this bad boy works and in doing so, accidentally creates a 3 second instantaenous time loop! Oh my God! What the hell is that??? Well, whatever it is, it inadvertantly rewrites the laws of physics. Up above them the town loses gravity, loses time, loses people (who vanish into thin air), and lose a dimension (momentarily existing in a 2-D world). Before you know it, Sparkle Creek is in some deep shit. The government is brought in and an order is given to immediately destroy the Collider. Howard has hours to re-rig the Collider to go back in time and save the people that were lost. Will he do so before the government shuts him down? That's the story of "Superconducting Supercollider of Sparkle Creek, Wisconsin."

Although we do find out what happens to the poor people of Sparkle Creek, Koepp decides to shift gears in the finale and focus on Karen and Howard's relationship. Sort of a "love conquers all" thing. Was this a good idea? Well, to use a Packers analogy, in the end of movies (4th quarter) you can go with your main story (your quarterback) or your love story (your running back). "Sparkle Creek" decides to go with its running back and unfortunately, the running back isn't very good. I'm sorry but I just didn't care enough about Karen and Howard getting together. And sadly, I can't pinpoint why. They both seem like nice people. And maybe that's it. Maybe that's all they are is nice. And I never really saw anything in the characters beyond that.

I would say I enjoyed "Sparkle Creek", but not as much as I wanted to. I'm always looking for things that bend my brain, that make me see the world in a different light. "Sparkle Creek" merely switched out a 60 watt bulb and replaced it with a 100.

[ ] trash
[ ] barely readable
[x] worth the read
[ ] impressive
[ ] genius

What I learnd from Sparkle Creek: The screenwriting books drill into our heads how important it is to make our characters "likable" or "relatable." We can get so caught up in this, that having them then save a cat, or help a woman across the street feels adequate enough. You still have to let us into their minds, show us their complexities, their faults, their struggles. You have to give us real people so that when you rest the entire story on them in your film's finale, the audience actually cares. Sparkle Creek didn't acheive this, and I think this has something to do with the project languishing in development hell.