LOGLINE: The second instalment in the Chronicle franchise.
WRITER: MAX LANDIS
SCRIPT BIO: This was to be the follow up to the original film Chronicle, but the studio passed on it, citing that it was too dark and off canon.
If you haven't seen Chronicle, see it. It's exceptionally good. It is a story of three high school kids who develop telekinetic powers after they chance upon an alien crystal buried in the ground near a party they attended.
Those powers lead them to be able to do literally ANYTHING with their minds. They could fly, crush cars, stop bullets... everything.
The really unique thing about this story was the execution. It was told from the three kids POV just having fun exploring their new found abilities.
There was no meddling secret government agents trying to intervene. It was just kids having fun.
Until one of them realised he could use his powers for evil and became the shadow character. One of them died, then the third killed the shadow in an epic battle.
The third and only one left alive - MATT - vows to use his powers for good and the film ends with him going off to save the world super hero style.
It's an epic story incredibly well acted and directed. It's budget was $12m and it made $126m at the box office. You do the sums.
Chronicle 2 picks up a year or so later. Matt has been flying around the world saving lives where he can, but he refuses to work for or have anything to do with the US government.
Because of his incredible powers, and unwillingness to share them with the government, we learn late in the piece that the government has had a secret program in place, developing an IronMan like suit for the off chance that Matt himself turns rogue and starts dedicating his powers for evil.
We join Jack and Miranda, essentially mad scientists who were part of the secret government program developing the IronMan suit, but they have now gone rogue.
They're building their own prototype of the suit with the specific intent of killing Matt. Miranda is the brains of the two. Jack is the maniac.
When they have the first prototype of the flying suit ready, Miranda warns Jack that it's not ready to take out Matt yet.
They're only to use this prototype to run training drills.
But Jack being the maniac he his, flies off in the suit and tries to kill Matt.
There's an epic battle in a football stadium full of people that ultimately ends with Matt destroying the prototype suit and killing Jack in the process.
Miranda sees this and is furious. She goes back to the workshop and starts working on the IronMan suit mark #2.
She soon finishes it and sets out to take down Matt.
The question becomes, who will win, will Matt survive, and how will he deal with the meddling government officials?
Man, this script was great.
It had been such a long time since I read a script that I was really into.
There were a few stretches of the imagination at first, for instance, we don't get any context on who Miranda and Jack are. We meet them building an Iron Man suit out of discarded cell phones and what not.
I didn't buy that. UNTIL later when it's explained that Miranda is the world's most intelligent person (pretty much) and had been part of a special government program where she spent her entire life working on and designing the Iron Man suit.
That stretch of the imagination (within the canon of this story) suddenly made sense.
Max breaks all the rules in screenwriting and you know what. It works.
There is something SOOOOO refreshing about a story that DOESN'T adhere to all the rules. BUT HERE'S THE REASON WHY IT WORKS - because Max knows why he's breaking the rules.
There's a real intelligence on display here. In the voice. The dialogue. In the writing.
The only thing I could fault is Max's formatting.
But shit. If that's the ONLY thing that's not working for a script. Hell. Forget formatting.
He's nailing, CONCEPT, STRUCTURE, CHARACTERS, DIALOGUE and VOICE.
An everyday man develops superhero like telekinetic powers.
That's about as BIG an idea as there is.
Kinda shits all over every other idea I've reviewed this year.
I guess, the thing about this idea is that the execution could fail. But here's the thing - they already KNOW that this team - the writing and directing duo - can nail this concept, because they ALREADY HAVE, in Chronicle 1, and the film made serious profit.
CONCEPT RATING 10/10
CONCEPT TIP: Think big. Think huge. Then think, how can I put a unique twist on it? How can I deliver it in a fresh way?
Chronicle was about kids having fun with super powers. Most other writers would have injected the government at some point, which would have made the story cliche.
Form here is so-so. Max uses BOLD all the time. Which is a no-no. He also has large chunks of descriptions. Could use much better formatting.
But you know what? When your story is this good.
Who gives a shit about formatting.
FORM RATING: Who cares?
FORM TIP: Nail every other aspect of your screenplay, and no one will care if you write it freehand on toilet paper. (Okay, maybe they will, but you get the point.)
Structure is all over the place here. But it works! You know why? Because Max understands how to make the SCENE WORK.
If every scene has conflict and every scene has a POINT then even if your structure doesn't follow the typical Hero's Journey beats, the story will flow.
In fact, I'm pretty damn sure one of the reasons I loved this script sooooo much is because of the lack of structure. It kept me on my toes. I had no idea what was going to happen next.
Predictability was zero here. Which kept me constantly engaged.
Amazing work here. Max actually writes in the stutters and the pauses. But it doesn't feel like over writing.
Think about it, when we speak we're constantly stopping to figure out what to say next, and correcting ourselves. In a screenplay, dialogue can often come across as fake because you, the writer have had forever to think about exactly what you want the character to say. That's not how real life dialogue is.
DIALOGUE RATING 9/10
DIALIGUE TIP: Secretly record the next conversation you have with one of your friends. Go home and type up that conversation, word for word, including all the self corrections and pauses. Have a look at how REAL dialogue looks on the page.
Amazing voice here. Max's writing is up there with Brian Duffield. These two guys have such a unique way of telling a story. It's sheer brilliance.
VOICE RATING 10/10
VOICE TIP: Read Brian Duffield and Max Landis scripts. It's almost impossible to put into words what they do. They each have very different styles. But the story they tell STAYS with you. That's good writing.
The studio made a HUGE mistake passing on this script. It took the original idea to a new place. To a unique level. Now I've read that the studio passed because they wanted Chronicle two to basically be the same as Chronicle one.
I don't even need to explain that sigh. Do I?
This story would kill it.
I imagine they'd need to sink a little more money that $12 into it. Probably closer to 20 million. But even then, it would be a guaranteed money maker.
Genius script. Would love to see it on the big screen one day. Alas, that day may never come.
OVERALL RATING 9.5/10