Monday, April 13, 2009

Broken Amber

Genre: Sci-Fi Thrilla
Synopsis: A sci-fi Bourne Identity, Broken Amber is about a man who realizes that his life isn't what it seems.
About: A spec that I believe came extremely close to being purchased by Warner Bros. Can anyone confirm or deny this?
More: I'm keeping the synopsis vague as it kinda spoiled the script for me. My suggestion would be you read it before you read the review.
Writers: Oliver Butcher & Stephen Cornwell

Soccer moms are hot. I mean honestly, who wouldn't want to be with a soccer mom? Men, women, boys. We all want to be with a soccer mom in some way. Oh, except for one person. That would be Lucas Hall, who just got murdered by a soccer mom in the first 5 pages of Broken Amber. And if that weren't bad enough, Soccer Mom comes over to Lucas' house and KILLS HIS FAMILY TOO, Stepfather-style (the original John Locke). Bad Soccer Mom! This is not the kind of behavior I expect from a soccer mom. I like my Soccer Moms to be a little less...murdery.

Lucky for me Soccer Mom disappears, at least for the time being, and we meet a new family. Clay, his wife Nancy, and their two children. They're the typical suburban family except for one problem: Clay ain't happy (well, I guess that still makes them the typical suburban family - heh heh). He's unmotivated, confused, moody, watches Dancing With The Stars (yes, I made that last one up). Everything about his life seems to be based in this odd pseudo-reality. Something is wrong but he can never quite figure out what it is.

Answers start to come when Clay goes in for his yearly check-up. Two tweakers have taken the clinic hostage and aren't leaving without a body count. That is until Clay becomes Neo and Bruce Lee all-in-one and takes out the Tweak Twins like they were a couple of developmentally challenged 4 year-olds.

Either Clay's got the Bourne trilogy on repeat or there's something deeper going on here. A hunger is triggered. A hunger to find out who the hell he is. He starts making calls and asking questions which lead him back to his past. Or is it...........his fuuuuuutuuuurrrrrreeee???

Yes. We discover - spoiler alert (isn't my whole site a spoiler alert?) - that Clay's been placed in the past, his mind partially erased and reconfigured so he will forget his previous life. The truth is, Clay is a soldier from the year 2054 and he witnessed something so awful, so terrible, that they had to send him away. And what better place to send him than the past? .............. Right?

....ummm...not so sure about that one but I'll get to that in a second.

Anyway, the rest of the script is basically one giant chase sequence that features Clay running from the future government, who want to kill Clay in order to cover up their secret program, appropriately named... you guessed it: Amber (and, you know, he like, "broke" it).

So here's the problem you run into and it's a problem everybody who writes one of these sci-fi conspiracy movies has to address: Would the government really spend all this time and money (and resources) and endure the incredible risks involved with this kind of program - which probably costs hundreds of millions of dollars - when they could've just used a ten cent bullet to kill this guy and hide the body? I mean, wouldn't that be just a smidgen easier? Problem solved. I just saved the government of 2054 millions of dollars and all I'm asking for in return is to send me back a hot 25 year old brunette who won't call me lazy when I lay on the couch all Sunday.

The one other thing that bothered me about Broken Amber was that it relied too heavily on its twist (which is a good twist). But since it's included in the original logline (which I took out), the movie for me rested on its characters and story. And Clay was never a compelling enough character for me to worry about whether he was caught or not.

Despite these faults Broken Amber has its moments and is worth the read.

[ ] trash
[ ] barely kept my interest
[x] worth the read
[ ] impressive
[ ] genius

What I learned from Broken Amber: If you have a big twist in your script, make sure the reader's enjoyment doesn't rest too heavily on that twist. In other words, you still want to make sure the rest of the screenplay is compelling. A big mistake beginning writers make is thinking their twist (or concept) is so awesome that a monkey can write the rest of the script and they'll be fine. WRONG! Challenge yourself and approach each scenario as if you don't have that twist to fall back on. Put the same amount of effort into your characters and story as you would any other script.