Wednesday, September 20, 2006

THE LIST by Dwhte Star

Well, it’s been about three weeks since I started this blog, and already a number of queries have come in...of which only a handful of scripts I accepted for reading. It’s been an interesting experience, and a bit frustrating too. I presumed that most of the stuff I’d get would be complete trash, but each one had at least some positive things about them…some little bit of charm or originality that took me by surprise…but in the end, only one script truly grabbed my attention. And while it has its flaws and is a bit rough around the edges, it was also a genuine page-turner from beginning to end.

written by Dwhyte Star
Telephone: 845-496-5203

This action/thriller rehashes virtually every cliché in the book: The world-weary reluctant hit man who sets out to finish one final job before quitting the business once and for all, only to find that (shock!) it's more than he bargained for.

Sound familiar? Absolutely.

Did I enjoy it? Hell yeah.

THE LIST doesn’t really offer anything new script wise, and, tragically, it feels a bit…well...incomplete. Characters that could have been explored and developed with more detail are left rather sketchily drawn, and there’s little to the plot beyond the familiar vengeance storyline. In style and tone, the script reminded me of the dark, gritty Mel Gibson thriller PAYBACK -- a film which, oddly enough, I genuinely hated.

So why have I chosen THE LIST as my first script endorsement? Because, truth be told, it demonstrates a definite writing talent. Star has three big strengths here, which managed to help me overlook the shortcomings of the plot.

First is the way in which the story unfolds. Rather than an over reliance on expository dialogue (so common to fresh screenwriters), Star tells his story with great efficiency of dialogue and prose, while slowly unraveling his characters’ backstories just a little bit at a time. This latter point, in particular, is quite refreshing. (For example, it’s not until nearly halfway through the script that we learn the main character’s relationship to the “boss” he’s working for – a genuine surprise that I knew I should have seen coming.)

Second strength: the action scenes. THE LIST clocks in at a fairly compact 97 pages, and many, if not most, of them are dedicated to fights, chases, brawls, fights, and more fights. There is one obligatory explosion, but (mercifully) most of what’s here is down-and-dirty, hand-to-hand combat rather than an indulgence in stupid pyrotechnics. I’m not sure how Star would envision the direction of these scenes, but I read them as more akin to those tough, gritty thrillers of the 1970’s, instead of the overblown stuff of the 80’s and 90’s -- and that’s a good thing. (What Peckinpah or Friedkin could have done with this material back then!)

The third -- and greatest – strength is Star’s knack for writing extremely sharp, dry dialogue, which alone made reading the script worthwhile. There are wisecracks and jokes aplenty, but rather than coming off as forced or cheap, they feel natural and very much in the spirit of the characters speaking them.
(In writing this review I was tempted to include some excerpts here, but rather than risk giving too much away, you’ll just have to take my word for it – there are some real gems!)

So there you have it…the first official selection of The Unsung Critic’s blog. With a little bit of work -- and a good rewrite or two -- THE LIST has the potential to be a pretty decent flick…and Dwhyte Star has the makings of a pretty decent screenwriter.


Dwhyte said...

Thank you for reading my script, I'm pleased to hear that you enjoyed reading it as much I enjoyed writing it. Hopefully someone interested in buying my screenplay will read your blog and contact me. I understand that there are alot of people out there just like me just looking for a break in the biz, unfortunately everyone on both sides has made it very difficult. The producers who overlook great scripts because someone big isn't attached to it (or the writer hasn't already sold something -- which is hard to do since no one wants to buy something from someone who hasn't...) anyway; and there are also the writers who are looking for half a million dollars for their first script which up and coming (but unfortunately underfunded) producers can't afford. So that is why I say to the up and coming producers, you read the review - hand to hand combat and one or two explosions should fit into a small budget. So if you interested in purchasing my screenplay and using it to make yourself the next Oliver Stone, contact me and I'm sure we can work a price out. Once again, thank you Unsung Critic for giving a useful review -- you actually gave me some advice I could use to improve my next script.

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