Since the new MATRIX: RESURRECTIONS movie is in cinemas now...
I loved the first MATRIX film, but was disappointed with the second, and decided to skip the third. While watching MATRIX RELOADED, several times I wish
I had gotten loaded a few times before watching the movie. The movie was slow going,
cold and uninvolving, and had fight scenes that put me to sleep. Here's where I think
the movie went wrong:
1) Exposition. I swear, I thought I was watching PHANTOM MENACE for a while! Once
we get to Zion the film just dies. It's one chunk of exposition after another.
There's a whole pointless scene that explains why Tank isn't in this movie - and gives
us this big chunk of backstory on his replacement Link. The problem is - we now know
all of this stuff about Link... and we *never* knew that much stuff about Tank. Tank is
just a member of the crew in THE MATRIX - he's an important member of the crew (lots
of face time) but they never spent any time giving us details beyond that he was
freeborn. We get this history of Link, his problems with his wife, whether he should be
reassigned to another ship, etc. I know they were trying to make Link into the
non-believer who comes to believe... but did we need boring static scenes to do that?
Why not SHOW Link as the non-believer in action scenes?
Then we have all of the political crap with Morpheus and the commander -
booooooring! Why do we need that stuff? It's this big political subplot that we come
back to over and over again... and it kills the story momentum. It's there to explain
Morpheus's relationship to the government of Zion - but do we even need to know that?
It's also supposed to establish the love triangle - but that has to be the most boring way
to establish a love triangle in the history of film! Look at the Luke/Leia/Han love triangle
in STAR WARS - it's all in the action scenes!
More political crap with Anthony Zerbe (cool that he's in the film) - this leads to that
booooring speech by Morpheus and the boooooring walk through the machine room
with Neo. All of this to establish that Zerbe is going to side with the believers - so that
when we get to another one of those booooring political scenes Zerbe will send Jada to
help against the commander's wishes. Ummm - that's a boring *idea*. It's better if Jada
is told by the commander (her lover) that she can't go to help Morpheus, and she says
"He needs me" and goes anyway. That's a *conflict* scene (rather than a booooring
political scene). We're also establishing Zion politics, here, and the religion vs.
government thing. Why do we need any of this?
We introduce that French dude and his wife and their marriage troubles... huh? Why do
we need ANY of that? Why do we need sexy Peri telling us how her husband doesn't
kiss her anymore. How is that any of our business? What does it have to do with the
And that pointless fight scene with the Oracle's bodyguard just to establish that she's
protected? All you have to do was ask.
There are more scenes where people just sit around and talk instead of DOING
THINGS, where it's all about the politics instead of the conflict. Those scenes just kill
the movie. It's a ton of exposition instead of action - telling the story through the actions of the characters.
Though there's less of that in the new movie (MATRIX: RESURRECTIONS) there still isn't the *drive* that the first film had.
2) Neo & character arc. A regular guy who must grow to become a superhero is a great
character arc, but what do we have in this movie? Superman. Pretty dull stuff. There
were two things they could have explored - and both were mentioned in passing... but
neither was what the movie was *about*. So Neo has no real character arc - he's
Early on, there's a great set up that I really wanted to see explored. Neo gets to Zion
and there are people there with their sick kids who want him to heal them. There are
people who have brought him gifts. There are people who worship him. People who
wear necklaces with little Neos - like we wear crucifixes. In the first film, Cypher has this
great line about Neo being the guy who has to save the world - and the responsibility
that entails. I was waiting for us to see the dark side of that - that Neo *can't* save sick
children. That he *can't* perform miracles. That it's not easy being Jesus. But instead
we cut away for that boooooring Link & wife exposition scene. I would rather focus on
Neo having troubles living up to the hype of being the chosen one. That would make
Neo easy to identify with - more human. It also takes us back to the self-doubts of the
first film. Though it's been decades since I saw it, didn't REVOLUTIONS have some
of this stuff in it? The new film, RESURRECTIONS, does have an arc - Neo and Trinity
are back inside the Matrix with no memory of their past... so each has to rediscover The
Matrix and rediscover each other... and their love for each other.
The other thing they could have explored better in #2 is that choice between love and duty
thing. That was in the script, but kind of as a side story. He's afraid that Trinity might get
hurt because he's the chosen one. That's a great idea - look at how well it works in the first
SPIDER-MAN (2002). Peter Parker really has to deal with his powers hurting everyone around
him for the entire movie - that's his character arc. The whole movie is leading up to the
scene where the villain gives him a choice between saving the woman he loves or a
school bus full of children. In RELOADED Neo really doesn't have to deal with the
problem very much. Sure, he has nightmares, and sure, by the end of the film he has to
pick a door (like he's on LET'S MAKE A DEAL) but the rest of the time that isn't what
haunts him... NOTHING seems to haunt him. He doesn't have a major emotional
struggle like he did in the first film... so it's harder to identify with him. Plus - he's
superman this time around - we KNOW he'll win the fights. That's a frequent problem
with sequels - we know that the character is a badass from the first film, so there's no fear
and suspense and tension. This is why bigger and better villains are usually required.
But we really needed a conflict that propelled the story and caused Neo to make a series of
3) Magic & Mind Benders. The first film took us down the rabbit hole. It was one strange
twist after another. This film is matter-of-fact and doesn't really have any rabbit holes to
take us down. All of the reveals are kind of bland - nothing as dramatic as taking the red
pill. Nothing as frightening as Cypher pulling the plug on Epoch. Everything was bland -
no magic in the story. Since they don't have all of the big reveals like the first film had,
they needed to make the small reveals *feel* bigger and more important in this flick.
They needed to create a sense of mystery and awe - and it just wasn't there. Zion was
boring. The characters they meet along the way - boring and unimportant. Smith is
bland this time around - nothing nearly as cool as his "humans are a cancer" and "can't
stand the smell" ideas from the first film. Remember how cool it was that the
mechanical devices like the bug they plant in Neo seem to be living organisms in the
first film? Where's *that* kind of thing in this film?
It's not just that we have high expectations, it's that they didn't have anything as cool as
in the first film.
I know, by the end we get a *potential* mind bender or two - but that's way too late (and
they seem to be MATRIX REVOLUTIONS stuff). The film has no magic.
The new film (RESURRECTIONS) brings back a little bit of magic with the mirrors. Though swiped
from Cocteau's ORPHEUS, traveliing through mirrors and the idea that the "old Neo" might be just on the
other side of the mirror from the "new Neo" is kind of trippy. I always felt like the Wachowskis had spent years
working on the first screenplay, and then had to write the two sequels in a rush and didn't have anything
new or interesting to add at the time. Now, even though parts of it may seem like a rehash - that's also presented
as a trippy memory trick because the *audience* is in the Matrix. The script sets up how stories repeat themselved -
there are hundreds of stories in hundreds of religions about "The Chosen One". The Deja Vu and black cat
from the first film are at the center of the new film. The Analyst has a black cat... this whole story is Deja Vu! Though
we know why Trinity looks familiar to Neo, he doesn't - so we are a bit ahead of the curse and when two strangers
meet in the coffee shop (Simulatte!) and the audience knows their connection before Neo does. The magic moment
of their shaking hands is great.
One of the things that some members of the audience didn't seem to notice is that *we* see Neo and Trinity as they
were in the first three movies, but now that they are back in the Matrix, other people see them differently. When they are reflected
in a window or seen from another character who is in the Matrix's POV - they are played by different actors.
Neo is bald. Trinity is blonde. This is more mind bending - they have been reinserted as different people! Just as
I think I still look the same as I was when I was 30 years old, they think they still look the same as before... when they look
like completely different people (played by completely different actors in a few shots). Mind bending magic!
4) What's the story in the second film? In the first film it's clear that the story is about Neo becoming the
chosen one, but what is the story here? What is the goal? Who really is the antagonist
(since we have free-range Smith, he seems to be just a revenge guy, not the actual
villain). I really didn't understand the purpose of the Keymaker until we came to the scene with
the doors - and even then I wondered why we couldn't just get the Lockpicker instead.
In a way, this goes back to the magic. If these are supposed to be important, iconic
characters we need to build up their legends and understand how significant they are.
We need to understand that only the Keymaker can open the backdoors of programs...
and that he's LEGENDARY. Remember how legendary Trinity and Morpheus were in
the first film - even before Neo has meet them they are the most important people in his
life. They are the people who can answer the question - what is the matrix? Here, the
Keymaker is just some dude we've never heard of before who doesn't seem all that
important. He isn't a legend.
This is where "soft plants" would have helped in the first film. If they had set up these characters -
even without showing them - the audience could "recognize" them when they showed up on screen and
know their importance in the story. I think part of the problem in this second film is that instead of *discovery* we
get exposition. Even if the Keymaker and Architect had never been mentioned in the first film, if they
had created mystery and discover in this second film - had Neo search for the answers,
follow a trail of clues which bring him into danger, and
then find the answers - it would have been more interesting and exciting. But this second film
just tells us things instead of having Neo *earn* in information.
We participate in the first film. Neo sees the screens showing code and all he sees is
code. Cypher says after a while you don't see the code, you see people (a blonde, a
brunette, a redhead). Neo is fighting the Matrix all the way through the story - we want
him to be able to see what Cypher sees on the monitors. We hope that he will gain
these powers, but we fear the Oracle may be right - he's just a regular guy. We've been
taken inside Neo's character. So when Neo sees the hallways as code at the end, we
know that he is more powerful than the Matrix. We know that he can beat Smith. If we
don't know what the heck anyone is doing or why, we can't fear that they'll fail. We have
to be taken inside and know what the goal is. We have to be given the plan, then see it
This is why the moment that Neo meets Trinity in the coffee shop in the new film works. We know that
they know each other and belong together, even if they don't know that. But they feel as if they have met...
and we want to yell at the screen - "Wake up Neo!" "Wake up Trinity!" The Matrix has you again!
After wasting all of my time on Link's marriage problems and politics in Zion in that second film, when we
get down to the STORY - their plan to end the war - we don't get much info and I was
confused by *why* what was behind the gold door was important. The most important
part of the story seemed really rushed. When they lose all of the people inside that one
building, I not only didn't care about them, I wasn't sure how that impacted anything. I
didn't really get what they were up to - and it seemed like they just came up with this
*goal* right before the end. That it wasn't what the whole film was about, just what the
last half hour was about. Not a legend, more of an afterthought.
I didn't think they needed a complete mind bender like the first one - just SOMETHING.
At least the fourth film gives us SOMETHING. And plenty of mind bending material to think about later.
If THE MATRIX is a video game in the movie, is the movie itself Neo's call for help to us in the audience?
Is the movie we are watching making us feel as if we are free, when we are all just copper-tops? Is the movie
part of *our* Matrix? We believe that we are real because we are watching a movie about people who don't
realize that they are not real... We need to find falsehoods to feel as if we know the truth... but what if the truth
we are getting is just more falsehoods created to make us feel as if we are in power? I though the best part of RESURRECTION
was the the *audience* was in the Matrix. The film was playing with us.
Here are two things that could have been interestingly done in the second movie - but weren't:
1) Agent Smith - instead of an "Oh my God!" moment when Smith multiplied, they
telegraph it by having Smith double in an earlier scene. Wouldn't it have been better if
Smith's multiplicity had been revealed in the big fight scene?
They didn't use the Smith thing the way they used the agents popping into bodies in the
first film. If you remember how cool and frightening it was when the wino in the subway
station turns into Smith and attacks... or the chase at the end where no matter where
Neo runs, Smith pops into a body ahead of him. A cool part was when Neo runs
through an apartment where a mom is making dinner.... and the mom turns into Smith
and throws a knife at him.
2) Backdoors - one of the cool ideas in the second film that was underused were the backdoors
between programs and sections of programs. The idea that there's a hallway that
connects different places within the Matrix. THIS could have been used as a big and
weird reveal - discovering that doorways in what we think of as the real world may lead
to different locations (and maybe even different *times*) in what we think of as the real
world. What if there is more than one Matrix? What if there's a *Western Matrix* and a
*Colonial Matrix*... and what of there's a *2200 Matrix* (or whatever year the story takes
place in)? What if secret doorways could take you to these places? This kind of gets
explored in the Marvel LOKI series - the doorways that can take you to different time periods.
Would have been cool to use in that second film. One of the things that we are always looking for
in a screenplay or story are those amazing moments where what we thought was true is something else.
Plost twists in Thrillers. Mistaken identities in Romantic Comedies. Every genre has a *reveal* of
information that changes the way the audience views the story - and the idea of different doors
leading to different Matrix life simulations would have been cool, even if they weren't explored
in the second film. A "soft plant" for later films that could open a door to WESTWORLD type stories.
Now here's the Keymaker cool idea - what if different keys opened doors differently.
That is, the key you use to open the door to your home takes you to your home... but a
special key would open the same door but inside would be someplace else. That using
a different key on the same door takes you to a different place. This builds up the
legend of the Keymaker, and creates a cool idea. Every door is like the screen in Buster
Keaton's SHERLOCK, JR - when you open it you never know what's on the other side.
That adds surprise and keeps the story changing. I got this idea from stand up comic Steven Wright's (trippy) joke
about coming home drunk and using his car key to open his house door... and the house
started up and he drove it around for a while, until a cop pulled him over. He told the cop to get out of his driveway.
Thinking Weird is something that works in comedy and works in screenplays - and the second MATRIX movie
needed a lot more weird thoughts. Having different keys that opened the same door differently would have been cool!
The backdoors and hallways idea could have been used like this: They discover that no
matter where they go, Agents get there first. It's as if the agents are magic - they can
travel hundreds of miles in a heartbeat. In the big fight with Agent Smiths, Neo chases
him to a doorway... barely gets in, sees the weird hallway. Fight in the hallway, and Neo
grabs this Agent Smith's special keys. He opens a door - it's China! He opens another
door - it's Paris! It's amazing that he's discovered the backdoors - but he can't
remember which door takes him home! Then a few Agents enter the hallway through
other doors and Neo has to run out the first door he can open... into a desert!
This sets up the backdoors, the reason why they need the Keymaker, etc... and every
time someone in the audience unlocks their front door they'll wonder what's on the
other side. Are their doorways that link different parts of the world?
Here's where the hallways & doorways could turn into a great twist:
After Neo realizes there are doors that lead to different time periods - different Matrixes
(or is that Matrixii?) - the big twist could be that there is no such thing as the past. We
know about the past because people have found their way from "past" Matrixes to our
Matrix and their stories have become history... but in actuality their worlds take place at
the same time as our world takes place...
Because there was NEVER a time when humans were not batteries in the big
machines. There was NEVER a time before the Matrix. The past is just another Matrix...
and humans have ALWAYS been copper-tops.
Now that would have been a cool To Be Continued cliff hanger!
THE MATRIX gave us a character we could identify with and action scenes that told the
story. We were in Neo's shoes, trying to figure out what was going on. In MATRIX
RELOADED Neo hides behind his dark glasses - too cool to care. He's a character
without an emotional problem - no reason for us to care about him. Those dark glasses
and that cool attitude keep us out, so we aren't involved in the character or the story.
We are kept at a distance and observe the story instead of participate in it. When all
you have is the surface of the film, that surface better be as entertaining as KILL BILL
(vol. 1), but RELOADED doesn't have the humor or the wild energy of the Tarantino
film. It just lays there on the screen - boring things happening to people we don't care
about. Too cool for its own good. I hoped REVOLUTIONS would be better - but it was more of the same.
Nothing new and
exciting and nothing *emotionally involving*. Make sure you allow us inside your
protagonist, make sure you amaze us with your story instead of just creating a string of
events. Your screenplay needs to be an emotional experience for the audience, not just
things happening. Look at every scene, every line... what is the audience feeling? How
does this scene or this line of dialogue or this action emotionally involve the audience in
your story? If we don't care... we don't care!
The best thing about the new film is that it's a love story about Neo and Trinity... kind of a
"reincarnation love story" because they don't recognize each other. That gives the film heart..
"The Presidential Suite of the Hollywood Hoover Hotel looked like a bloody battlefield: bodies everywhere, furniture broken, red liquid dripping from the walls, dead soldiers littering the elegant Berber rug as clouds of smoke overhead bounced between two air conditioning vents.
Mitch Robertson stepped over the body of an ex-child star turned sex tape star turned pop star and entered the room, spotted a gun on the floor and picked it up... careful not to spill his coffee with three pumps of mocha syrup from Penny’s Coffee Shop. That coffee was gold, the only thing keeping him going in this dazed state of wakefulness. The gun felt light. Holding it, he saw the silhouette of an 80s action star sitting sideways on a tipped over chair. Motionless. Was he dead? Mitch was still hung over from the Awards Party the night before, and wondered whether this was all some sort of crazy nightmare that he would wake up from... but when he tripped over the brown legs of a bottomless Superhero, flaccid junk encased in a condom but still wearing his mask, and hit the edge of the sofa, gun skittering and coffee spilling, he realized that it was all very real. What the hell had happened here?"
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William Goldman says the most important single element of any screenplay is structure. It’s the skeleton under the flesh and blood of your story. Without it, you have a spineless, formless, mess... a slug! How do you make sure your structure is strong enough to support your story? How do you prevent your story from becoming a slug? This Blue Book explores different types of popular structures from the basic three act structure to more obscure methods like leap-frogging. We also look at structure as a verb as well as a noun, and techniques for structuring your story for maximum emotional impact. Most of the other books just look at *structure* and ignore the art of *structuring* your story. Techniques to make your story a page turner... instead of a slug!
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Most screenplays are about a 50/50 split between dialogue and description - which means your description is just as important as your dialogue. It just gets less press because the audience never sees it, the same reason why screenwriters get less press than movie stars. But your story will never get to the audience until readers and development executives read your script... so it is a very important factor. Until the movie is made the screenplay is the movie and must be just as exciting as the movie. So how do you make your screenplay exciting to read? Description is important in a novel as well, and the “audience” does read it... how do we write riveting description?
Expanded version with more ways to create interesting dialogue! How to remove bad dialogue (and what *is* bad dialogue), First Hand Dialogue, Awful Exposition, Realism, 50 Professional Dialogue Techniques you can use *today*, Subtext, Subtitles, Humor, Sizzling Banter, *Anti-Dialogue*, Speeches, and more. Tools you can use to make your dialogue sizzle! Special sections that use dialogue examples from movies as diverse as "Bringing Up Baby", "Psycho", "Double Indemnity", "Notorious", the Oscar nominated "You Can Count On Me", "His Girl Friday", and many more! Print version is 48 pages, Kindle version is over 175 pages!
What is a scene and how many you will need? The difference between scenes and sluglines. Put your scenes on trial for their lives! Using "Jaws" we'll look at beats within a scene. Scene DNA. Creating set pieces and high concept scenes. A famous director talks about creating memorable scenes. 12 ways to create new scenes. Creating unexpected scenes. Use dramatic tension to supercharge your scenes. Plants and payoffs in scenes. Plus transitions and buttons and the all important "flow"... and more! Over 65,000 words! Print version was 48 pages, Kindle version is around 210 pages!
Expanded version with more techniques to flesh out your Supporting Characters and make them individuals. Using the hit movie BRIDESMAIDS as well as other comedies like THE HANGOVER and TED and HIGH FIDELITY and
40 YEAR OLD VIRGIN and many other examples we look at ways to make your Supporting Characters come alive on the page.
Print version was 48 pages, Kindle version is around 170 pages!
Expanded version with more techniques to help you through the desert of Act Two! Subjects Include: What Is Act Two? Inside Moves, The 2 Ps: Purpose & Pacing, The 4Ds: Dilemma, Denial, Drama and Decision, Momentum, the Two Act Twos, Subplot Prisms, Deadlines, Drive, Levels Of Conflict, Escalation, When Act Two Begins and When Act Two Ends, Scene Order, Bite Sized Pieces, Common Act Two Issues, Plot Devices For Act Two, and dozens of others. Over 67,000 words (that’s well over 200 pages) of tools and techniques to get you through the desert of Act Two alive!
Print version was 48 pages, Kindle version is well over 200 pages!
The First Ten Pages Of Your Screenplay Are Critical, But What About The Last 10 Pages?
Creating the perfect ending to your story! This 100,000 word book shows you how to end your story with a bang, rather than a whimper. Everything from Resolution Order to Act Three Tools to Happy or Sad Endings? to How The Beginning Of Your Story Has Clues To The Ending (in case you were having trouble figuring out how the story should end) to Falling Action to How To Avoid Bad Endings to Writing The Perfect Twist Ending to Setting Up Sequels & Series to Emotional Resolutions to How To Write Post Credit Sequences to Avoiding Deus Ex Machinas, to 20 Different Types Of Ends (and how to write them) and much more! Everything about endings for your screenplay or novel!
Loglines, Treatments, Pitching, Look Books, Pitch Decks, One Pagers, Rip-O-Matics?
You have written a brilliant 110 page screenplay, but how do you get anyone to read it? You need to distill it down into some form of verbal moonshine or story rocket fuel that will ignite that bored development executive or manager or agent and get them to request your screenplay. But how do you shrink those 110 pages into a 25 word logline or a 2 minute elevator pitch or a one page synopsis or a short paragraph? This 100,000 word book shows you how! Everything you need to know! From common logline mistakes (and how to solve them) to how your pitch can reveal story problems to the 4 types of pitches!
Should really be called the BUSINESS BLUE BOOK because it covers almost everything you will need to
know for your screenwriting career: from thinking like a producer and learning to speak their language,
to query letters and finding a manager or agent, to making connections (at home and in Hollywood) and
networking, to the different kinds of meetings you are will have at Studios, to the difference between
a producer and a studio, to landing an assignment at that meeting and what is required of you when you
are working under contract, to contracts and options and lawyers and... when to run from a deal!
Information you can use *now* to move your career forward! It's all here in the Biggest Blue Book yet!
Print version was 48 pages, Kindle version is over 400 pages!
Use your creative energy to focus on the content; let Final Draft take care of the style. Final Draft is the number-one selling application specifically designed for writing movie scripts, television episodics and stage plays. Its ease-of-use and time-saving features have attracted writers for almost two decades positioning Final Draft as the Professional Screenwriters Choice. Final Draft power users include Academy, Emmy and BAFTA award winning writers like Oliver Stone, Tom Hanks, Alan Ball, J.J. Abrams, James Cameron and more.
* * * Buy It!
IT'S BACK! SECRETS OF ACTION SCREENWRITING
Over 460 pages packed with tips and techniques.
write a plot twist,
the four kinds of suspense (and how to create it), reversals, ten ways to invent new action scenes, secrets and lies,
creating the ultimate
villain, five kinds of love interests, MORE!CLICK HERE!
CLASSES ON MP3
CLASSES ON MP3! Take a class on MP3! GUERRILLA MARKETING - NO AGENT? NO PROBLEM! and WRITING THRILLERS (2 MP3s). Full length classes on MP3. Now Available: IDEAS & CREATIVITY, WRITING HORROR, WRITING INDIE FILMS, more!
Take classes on MP3!
MY OTHER SITES
B MOVIE WORLD Cult Films, Exploitation, Bikers & Women In Prison, Monster Movies.
E BOOKS: New Blue Books and Novelettes!
I am expanding all of the Blue Books from around 44 pages of
text to around 200 pages! Some are over 250 pages! See what is availabale and what is coming soon!Also, I've been writing Novelletes and there
will soon be novels. E BOOKS: BLUE BOOKS & NOVELLETES
BOOKLETS & PRODUCTS
FIRST STRIKE BLUE BOOKS
Each Blue Book is 48
pages and focuses on a different aspect of screenwriting. Dialogue. Visual Storytelling. Your First Ten Pages. Act 2 Booster. Protagonists. Great Endings. Seventeen Blue Books now available!