Posts Tagged ‘Film’

The Last of Us: Exposed

 

Script By

Joshua Malone

 

Based off the Events and Characters Created by

Neil Druckmann

 

 

 

 

 

Fade on:

3 Years After Outbreak

Fade off

 

All is black.

We hear a faint clicking sound (ala CLICKER infected,) unsure of what it is. Then we hear a loud BANG. Pause. BANG. Then clicking again. The sound gets louder and continuous until finally…

 

SNAP TO:

INT. APARTMENT ROOM- DAWN

Close on ANNA, late twenties/early thirties, she suddenly wakens, as if from a bad dream. She hears the clicking and banging sounds, and sits up- looking around the room, frantic. She doesn’t seem to find what she’s looking for and quickly gets out of bed, grabbing a pistol.

She quickly, but quietly, exits the room and enters the APARTMENT HALLWAY following the sound. She sees the front door, and it appears to be completely locked up. All of the many various locks are still in place, and the sound isn’t actually coming from outside. It’s coming from the KITCHEN.

She approaches cautiously until she reaches the kitchen. Some daylight is just peeking through the window shades; otherwise it’s dark in the apartment. There, she sees an older man (RICK) on his knees examining the fridge.

RICK is in his late fifties or sixties, an odd mixture of strong yet fragile looking. Maybe the strong look comes more from the determination in his eyes than his actual physique. Every so often RICK bangs his fist on the fridge, and then turns a ratchet. That is what’s making the clicking sound.

 

RICK

Fucking piece of…

 

ANNA puts the pistol in the waist of her pants.

 

ANNA

Dad, stop

 

RICK snaps his head up.

 

RICK

Oh, Anna. Sorry… didn’t mean to wake you. It’s just this damn thing wont-

ANNA

Leave it. You can’t-

 

RICK

No. The food’s going to go bad. Just… can you flip the light on for me.

ANNA

There is no power.

RICK

Son of a… fine. Can you reach the company on a cell or something?

 

RICK stands up and exits the room in a huff.

We hold on ANNA, who stands still for a moment and takes a deep breath. She moves forward and shoves the fridge back into place. As she does the door to the fridge opens slightly.

ANNA leaves to go to her father, and as she does we track down to see that the fridge is empty.

ANNA walks out of the kitchen and slowly moves across the hall towards the living room, sighing. The LIVING ROOM is fairly well maintained, with only some minimal peeling to the wallpaper. There is a couch and an arm chair in the space, along with a dust covered television set.

On a coffee table there is a small radio. A voice is heard through some static…

 

FIREFLY MEMBER (V.O)

Remember, when you’re lost in the darkness, look for the-

 

 

ANNA turns the radio off.

RICK is tense, and paces back and forth. Every so often he goes to the window and peeks out the shades. When ANNA enters the room his head snaps up back to her.

 

 

RICK

I was listening to that!

(Pause)

Did you get ahold of them?

ANNA

No.

RICK

We can’t let that food spoil. Your mother’s gonna’ pitch a bitch if she comes home to a fridge full of-

ANNA

Dad, there’s no electricity. And mom-

RICK

(Slight chuckle, looking through the blinds again)

Well no shit Sherlock. And where’s Elli-

ANNA

Stop! Listen to me. There is no electricity.

 

RICK looks questioningly at his daughter. ANNA pauses, waiting for what she has just told him to register. We see RICK thinking hard. He goes to the window and looks out through the shades.

Through the window we can see the street below and surrounding building. Everything is dark, empty, and decrepit. The sidewalk shrubbery is overgrown.

 

ANNA

And mom isn’t here anymore.

 

RICK looks taken aback for a moment as he tries to digest what he just heard. RICK sits down and lowers his head for a moment, letting a long breath out.

ANNA sits down next to him, but leaves some space between her and her father. RICK’s leg is bouncing up and down. After a long beat he looks up.

 

RICK

Thanks, baby girl…

 

ANNA nods, and there is a slight pause before she gets up. RICK remains seated, eyes following his daughter out of the room. Then he looks forward, staring off…

 

 

CUT TO:

INT. APARTMENT BUILDING LOBBY- DAY/NOON

ANNA and RICK are moving down the stairway to the front door. The lobby is dusty, dark, and quiet. There is a big shelf in front of the door along with a pile of other stuff.

To the right is a window nailed shut. ANNA walks to the window and pulls out a hammer. She begins to take out the nails.

 

CUT TO:

EXT. APARTMENT BUILDING- DAY

ANNA is walking around the side of building, with RICK behind her. They are in a city, or the suburbs of a city. There are a few abandoned cars rusting on the street. The buildings surrounding them look dirty and dilapidated for the most part. A few of them are even boarded up.

There is some overgrowth poking through sections of the asphalt and concrete sidewalks. It’s really quiet outside- an unnerving quiet, but something that ANNA seems used to.

They move slowly. ANNA has a backpack full of gear and a rifle slung over her shoulder. RICK has his hand on a knife that is on his belt. He doesn’t appear to have any other weapon at the moment. In front of them is a string with cans dangling. ANNA ducks under it and continues on. RICK stops though.

Around the corner is another string with cans on it, and farther down on the opposite corner is the same thing. She examines the lines briefly and continues on. Suddenly there is a loud clanking sound from behind her and she spins to see RICK examining the cans, confused.

 

RICK

What’s the deal, here?

ANNA

SH!

 

There is a sudden howl heard from down the adjacent ALLEY. ANNA looks up. Painted on one of the ally walls is The FIREFLIES symbol. After a moment’s glance at it ANNA’s eyes follow the sound.

 

There is a lone RUNNER infected, down the ALLEYWAY and it sees her. The RUNNER is male. Blood seeps from its eyes and mouth. Some of the infectious fungus can be seen growing around the ears.

It howls, and runs towards ANNA, who is unshouldering her rifle and getting into a shooting stance.

The RUNNER runs straight into one of the lines with cans, is caught there for a second, and ANNA takes aim. The RUNNER howls but before ANNA can take her shot a machete comes crashing down on its head. ANNA lowers her gun, not particularly surprised.

The machete is pulled out of the RUNNER’s head, and it collapses to the ground. Behind the runner stands ANDRE, a young black man. He’s carrying a backpack and duffle bag packed with supplies- yet manages to be extremely stealthy and quiet with his movements.

 

ANNA

You know I could have fucking shot you.

ANDRE

And you know that you really shouldn’t use guns if you don’t have to. Makes too much noise.

ANNA

Left my subtlety at home today.

ANDRE

Yeah, and every other day.

 

The two embrace, as friends. RICK steps up.

 

RICK

Hi, Andre.

ANDRE

Hi, sir.

ANNA

Really? You remember his name, but not that you shouldn’t touch the fucking lines?

RICK

Sorry, I was just… I guess-

ANNA

It’s fine.

Good to see you, Andre.

ANDRE

Likewise. How are things?

ANNA

(pause)

Could be worse.

ANDRE

Yeah? Well, hopefully some of this will brighten your day.

 

ANDRE crouches, and unshoulders the bags that he has.

 

ANDRE

You really owe me this time. I had to pay a lot of people credits for some of this shit, and the guards were doubled up today around the outposts.

ANNA

Put it on my tab.

 

They open the bags and look inside. The duffle is full of various canned foods and a few gallons of water. The canned food is in bulk.

The backpack has a box of handgun ammunition in it, and a blanket. ANNA grabs the ammo, shocked.

 

ANNA

Where did you get this!?

ANDRE

Well… let’s just say if the person who owned that finds out I took it, I’ll owe them a lot more than credits.

 

ANNA smiles and the two zip the bags back up.

 

ANNA

Dad, why don’t you take the duffel bag back upstairs? You remember which apartment right?

 

RICK

(annoyed)

Yes.

 

ANNA is waiting for an actual room number.

 

RICK

322.

 

ANNA

(nodding)

We’ll be up soon.

 

RICK shoulders the duffle bag, and heads back. ANDRE shoulders the pack again. The two stand, and wait a moment until RICK is around the corner and they hear the entrance window open and close. Then they start towards the building’s entrance.

 

ANNA

Seriously, thank you.

ANDRE

Well, make this last. Like I said, for some reason they’re doubling up at the posts. It may be a while before I can get back out here.

ANNA

(Starting to get up)

We’ll make it last.

ANDRE

Makes me kind of consider joining the Fireflies.

 

ANDRE nods to the Fireflies tag on the alleyway wall.

 

ANDRE (cont’)

 Would save me the headache of trying to get back into the zone. Seriously, they’ve been cracking down in the zones since the Fireflies have started building their ranks. It’s always been tight but… it’s starting to get scary.

ANNA

Fireflies are talking about storming zones and liberating. FEDRA sure as hell doesn’t want to give up their control.

ANDRE

Right.

 (after a pause)

So… how are things?

ANNA

(sighs)

 I bitch, but really things could be worse. Could be better also, I guess. (laughs) He was trying to fix the fridge this morning. Kind of worked him up, but not to a point where he… well, where it was bad or anything. Really he’s been fine, for the most part.

ANDRE

That’s good. I’ve been trying to jack some meds while I’m at work, but-

ANNA

Nah, it’s okay.

ANDRE

So it’s not getting any worse or anything?

ANNA

No.

 

ANDRE looks at her for a moment. Is she telling the truth?

 

ANDRE

Good. I know it was rough there for a bit during spring. There’s actually a group that meets and talks back at the zone-

ANNA

(Ignoring the last part)

Yeah, he’s doing well now though.

 

There is a long beat.

 

ANDRE

Anna…

ANNA

Don’t.

ANDRE

You can’t stay-

 

ANNA spins, stopping dead in her tracks. ANDRE almost bumps into her. She stares him straight in the eye.

 

ANNA

(pointedly)

No.

ANDRE

You guys can’t stay out here. I… I can’t keep doing this.

ANNA

Fine.

 

ANNA turns to leave.

 

ANDRE

(Hushed, hissing)

ANNA! Listen-

ANNA

I appreciate this but you don’t have to do it. You never did. You don’t owe me a damn thing, so you could have stopped whenever you wanted.

ANDRE

Consider coming to the zone with your dad for one second. Or, maybe you should try and find the Fireflies-

ANNA

What part of ‘no’ don’t you get? It’s always been no, it’s always going to be no.

ANDRE

But-

ANNA

We can’t, Andre. They… we just can’t.

ANDRE

(pause)

Anna, this won’t last. You will die out here.

 

ANNA pauses for a moment. Her expression is hard to read. Sadness? Anger? Fear?

 

ANDRE (cont’)

He’s going to die out here. And if they don’t get to him (glances towards dead RUNNER) –

 

Whatever ANNA facial expression was, it’s now anger. Not at ANDRE necessarily…

 

ANNA

We don’t have a god damn choice! We’ve tried going before. After my mom died we tried going to the zone. When we-

 

There is a shrill squeaking sound. Then there is the faint sound of an engine running. ANNA snaps her head back and ANDRE looks past her shoulder.

An armored vehicle with the label FEDRA on the side pulls into frame at the end of the alleyway, with two armed soldiers following. ANNA and ANDRE duck behind a dumpster from view.

The truck slows, but doesn’t stop as it passes. We hear some men talking, indistinctly.

 

ANNA

Oh shit.

 

While staying crouched, ANNA leads ANDRE around the back of the building. Behind the building there is a fire escape above them.

 

ANNA

Boost me.

 

ANDRE boosts ANNA so that she can grab ahold of the rusty ladder, and when she does get her hands on it she pulls it down. It squeals in protest though, loudly all the way down.

ANDRE cringes.

 

We hear the truck tires squeal again, and someone shout.

 

ANNA

Let’s go.

 

ANNA climbs the escape quickly, and ANDRE follows. Once they are up they pull the escape back up. The two climb up to the nearest window, which ANNA then lifts and goes through.

 

 

ANDRE

WAIT! Is it safe?

ANNA

I cleared this building months ago. Come on!

 

 

INT. APARTMENT BUILDING

ABANDONED APARTMENT

ANDRE follows, and then shuts the window until it’s open a mere crack. The apartment is dark and cobwebs are everywhere. There is a large water stain on the ceiling and the wallpaper is peeling. The window is grimy, so the two peer outside the crack, and see a man run down the alleyway.

When he approaches one of the lines with cans on it he slows, and examines it. Then he spots the dead RUNNER.

 

LIEUTENANT (V.O)

(over a radio)

You’re sure you saw him come this way?

 

SOLDIER #1

(to radio)

Yes, sir. Didn’t get a good look so don’t know who, but he’d definitely here. I have a dead infected, freshly killed. He’s close.

 

SOLDIER #1 looks up towards the escape, and ANNA and ANDRE back away from the window.

 

ANDRE

Shit. Shit.

ANNA

What’s going on?

ANDRE

They must have followed me, or something… seen me leaving the zone.

 

ANNA risks a look out. SOLDIER #1 is moving slowly around the corner, under the fire escape now. His radio hisses.

 

SOLDIER #1

He may have entered the building.

LIEUTENANT (V.O)

Roger that. Keep your eyes peeled. Sending Harding and Rosco now. We’re circling around. Hold your position.

ANNA

Come on.

 

The two hurry towards the front door of the apartment and into the HALLWAY. ANNA leads ANDRE towards the stairs, passing many apartments along the way. Several have the words SPORES DON’T ENTER scrawled on them.  The two reach the STAIRWAY and they rush up them. Finally they reach the floor she is looking for and head down the HALLWAY towards ANNA and RICK’s apartment.

When they reach the door ANNA hurriedly begins to unlock the door. From somewhere in the building there is a loud BANG and ANDRE looks back towards the stairs. Something breaks, and then there is silence except for ANNA working the lock. Then we hear the SOLDIERS begin to enter the building.

The apartment door suddenly swings open, and ANNA pulls ANDRE inside and she shuts the door.

 

APARTMENT

The APARTMENT is quiet, and dark. The blinds are still down, but open- so that you can see through the spaces.

ANNA rushes towards them, and peers outside. She can see the truck, and three more men are getting out. The one in the driver’s seat is the LIEUTENANT. They are arming their weapons and pulling on filter masks while they are walking towards the building.

There’s a shuffling noise behind her, then the distinct sound of a hammer of gun being pulled back.

 

RICK

Who the hell are you?

ANNA

Anna.

RICK

Lie to me again. See what happens.

ANNA

Dad, it’s me.

RICK

(pause)

Turn the fuck around. Slowly. I swear to Christ, if you even twitch for that rifle you’re both done.

 

ANNA turns around to see RICK holding a knife under ANDRE’s throat and a handgun pointed at her.

After seeing her face RICK lowers the gun but keeps the knife at ANDRE’s throat.

 

RICK

Annabelle? Baby… baby girl? What are you doing here?

ANNA

Dad, let Andre go.

RICK

Who?

ANNA

Dad… remember Andre? He’s helping us.

RICK

I… I don’t get it. Why are you here? What’s going on? You shouldn’t be here. It’s not safe.

 

RICK lets ANDRE go, and ANDRE takes a few steps back and breaths deep. ANNA steps forward and checks his neck. A slight cut but nothing serious.

ANNA goes to her father. He’s tense, and extremely confused. He’s eyeing the gun on ANNA’s shoulder then his eyes go to hers.

 

ANNA

It’s okay.

RICK

You can’t be here. You’re not Annabelle.

 

RICK raises the gun and points it straight at ANNA’s head. ANDRE tenses and moves slightly forward but ANNA’s motions her hand for him to stay back.

 

ANNA

It’s really me.

RICK

Fuck you. You’re not my daughter.

ANNA

Look at me.

 

RICK glares at ANNA for a long moment, arm stiff and gun never moving from her forehead but ANNA doesn’t budge; she remains calm. ANDRE’s eyes are wide at the scene in front of him. The small amount of blood from the wound on his neck mixes with the sweat that is running down from his face.

 

ANNA

You remember what you told me right after mom died?

 

RICK doesn’t move.

 

ANNA (cont’)

You said that if you ever lost me, you will have officially lost all the battle buddies you ever had. And you’d never let that happen.

 

RICK slowly registers that this is in fact his daughter in front of him. He looks at her, then to his hand… to the gun in his hand. Tears begin to well inside his eyes.

 

RICK

Baby girl… I thought you-

ANNA

It’s okay…

 

ANNA takes the knife and gun from her father.

 

RICK

What are you doing here?

ANNA

It’s okay. I’ll explain later. But we have to move, now.

 

RICK looks at her, puzzled. Then there is a sudden crashing sound outside in the HALLWAY. ANDRE goes to the door. He opens it a bit, and listens.

RICK

What’s going on?

ANNA

We’re leaving.

RICK disappears off into the adjacent room. ANNA moves towards ANDRE, and he leans in close to her.

 

ANDRE

What the fuck was that?

ANNA

He’s… having an episode.

ANDRE
An “episode?” What the hell do you mean an episode? I thought you said he wasn’t getting any worse?

ANNA

He’s not… he started having them last year. It’s fine.

ANDRE

He just held a gun to your head.

ANNA

He must have seen them pull up. Things trigger him. He… he’ll think he’s back in combat.

ANDRE

Jesus, Anna…

ANNA

Just shut up. Go find out where they are.

 

ANDRE stares at her for a moment before leaving the room. ANNA goes to a closet. She unshoulders he backpack and digs around in the closet taking out a few more items and stuffing them in the bag. Extra flashlight, pills, anything seemingly important.

ANDRE soon darts back in.

 

ANDRE

They’re making their way up the floors. Checking the apartments.

ANNA

We don’t have much time.

 

ANNA zips up and re-shoulders her pack.

 

ANNA (cont’)

We’ll lead them away. You head back to the zone and sneak back in. They probably haven’t seen your face; they just know that somebody made it out. Just don’t let them catch up to you-

ANDRE

(Pause, looking at the door)

ANNA… maybe we-

ANNA

No way.

ANDRE

I can convince them that I found you. I was leading you back to the zone. Everything will be fine.

ANNA

(with venom)

God damn it, I said NO.

 

ANDRE stares at her.

 

ANNA (cont’)

(after a beat)

On our way to the zone two FEDRA officers came by us. I was so relieved. The zones aren’t paradise… but at least we were going to be someplace safe. But before they could escort us to the zone they had to check us first. So they gave me the scan and I checked out, but then they got to him…

 

ANNA looked over to the other room where RICK is shouldering a backpack. At his feet lies a military bag- their “bug out” bag.

 

ANNA (cont’)

When they gave him the test, the scanner went off. Andre… he’s not infected. I think it’s his disease.

 

ANDRE

His disease?

ANNA

The…  dementia that affects his memory, whatever kind it is- it affects the higher brain functions, just like the infection. They did the head and retina scan, and both came back positive. I insisted they take him back and do blood work, but they wouldn’t. They were about to give him the injection, when I… I wasn’t going to let my father die. I can’t take him to the zone, Andre. They’ll kill him.

 

ANDRE stares at her, shocked. There is another banging sound in the HALLWAY. Closer this time. They can hear the soldier’s voices now from the room. He looks back at ANNA.

 

ANDRE

Okay.

 

RICK comes into the room with his military duffle and backpack.

 

ANNA

Sorry, we’re packin’ light, sarge.

 

ANNA grabs the bag and throws it to the ground. She picks up the knife and gun and hands them back to her father.

RICK checks his gun, mechanically without even hesitating or thinking about it.

ANNA grabs her rifle and her bags, and ANDRE does the same with his gear. Then the three head towards the door.

ANNA opens the door. The soldiers are close. Possibly just on the floor below them.

 

ANNA

Okay. We’re moving down the hallway. In the last room on the right there is another fire exit outside the window. We’ll take that down, and then run. Andre, you head back to the zone. Go as fast as you can. As long as they don’t know who you are you’ll be safe. Dad, you and I are going West.

RICK

Roger.

ANDRE

What if one of them is outside?

 

ANNA says nothing. She just takes a moment, breaths, and then swings the door open.

 

HALLWAY

She steps out and heads towards the stairs. ANDRE steps after her, and she points down to the end of the hall. ANDRE goes, and RICK follows. ANNA walks quickly backward, keeping her sights on the stairs.

ANDRE reaches the last door on the right and opens it. A cloud of dust and spores swirls in the dark room.

 

ANDRE

Shit, ANNA! This room is-

ANNA

Just hold your breath and GO, damn it!

 

ANDRE puts his shirt over his mouth and nose and enters the room. RICK does the same, and then ANNA follows, shutting the door behind her. As she does, the soldiers enter the HALLWAY from the stairs and head towards ANNA and RICK’s apartment.

 

SPORE APARTMENT

ANNA takes the lead and moves towards the window. The infectious spores are thick, and in the corner there are the remains of an infected person, fungus growing out from their body.

ANNA reaches the window and tries to open it. It won’t budge. ANDRE goes to help her, while RICK stays trained on the door.

The voices of the soldiers can be heard outside down the hall. They sound upset.

ANNA looks at the window, then, without warning grabs her rifle and slams it against the glass- shattering it. She pushes ANDRE outside of it and he falls out onto the fire escape.

 

EXT. APARTMENT ALLEYWAY

ANDRE looks up, and sees RICK coming out of the window followed by ANNA. ANDRE goes to assist her but she lands, perfectly and without missing a beat starts going down the escape.

 

ANNA

MOVE. NOW!

 

When they reach the bottom of the escape, they can now hear shouting above them.

ANNA and ANDRE hit the ground, on their feet and as RICK begins to finish his decent down the escape, shots are fired above them. A few bullets ricochets of the building behind them and others bounce off of the fire escape.

 

RICK

Go!

 

RICK lays down some cover fire, and ANDRE and ANNA head towards the STREET. RICK follows quickly, once the soldiers duck back in through the window they were shooting out of.

One of the soldiers leans out of the window and takes aim…

 

STREET

ANNA and ANDRE rush into the street and just as RICK does the soldier fires from the alleyway and the bullet connects with RICK.

 

RICK

(falling)

AH!

ANNA

DAD!

LIEUTENANT

DON’T MOVE!

 

Right outside the entrance of the APARTMENT BUILDING stands the LIEUTENANT and another soldier. The LIEUTENANT still has his mask on, but the soldier (GAFF) does not. They both have their assault rifle fixed on ANNA and ANDRE, who are now looking at them- frozen.

ANNA tries to glance over her shoulder at RICK. He’s face down, one arm tight to his side and one out in front with his pistol a few feet away from his outstretched hand. He’s not moving. Blood is beginning to soak his shirt.

 

LIEUTENANT (cont’)

I said don’t fucking move!

 

ANNA’s head snaps back to him, anger and tears in her eyes.

 

LIEUTENANT

(into radio)

We have them. Hurry down, but stay frosty. Could be more.

(To GAFF)

Check ‘em.

 

GAFF steps towards ANNA and ANDRE. He grabs their weapons and tosses them to the ground.  The LIEUTENANT takes off his filter mask, and looks ANNA and ANDRE up and down. GAFF begins to pat them down. He grabs his radio.

 

LIEUTENANT

(to GAFF)

Make sure to check the old-timer, too.

 

GAFF nods, and heads towards RICK.

 

LIEUTENANT

(to radio)

Bravo, give me a sit rep.

SOLDIER (V.O)

Second floor. Doesn’t seem to be anybody else here.

 

GAFF bends over RICK.

 

LIEUTENANT

(to radio)

Roger. Finish the sweep, and clear out.

(looks at ANNE and ANDRE)

Where’s the rest of them?

 

ANDRE
Ain’t nobody else…

 

The LIEUTENANT raises his gun directly at ANDRE’s head.

 

LIEUTENANT

Don’t lie to me, dickhead. Where are the others?

ANDRE

WHO?

LIEUTENANT

You damn well know who! The rest of you!

 

ANNE looks puzzled, and her gaze goes from the LIEUTENANT to ANDRE. ANDRE looks back at her, but as he does her eyes adjust to look at something slightly behind him… to the white symbol on the wall: the Fireflies symbol. The realization dawns on her.

ANDRE follows her gaze, and realizes as well.

 

ANDRE

No, NO. We’re not with them.

LIEUTENANT

Shut the fuck up.

(looks up at GAFF, who is still bent over RICK)

Gaff, what’s his status?

 

There is no reply for a while. GAFF just remains crouched, until he slowly stands up and tries to grab for his assault rifle. When he turns his head to LIEUTENANT though we see the butt end of a knife sticking out from under his chin, blood dripping from the handle and oozing out of his mouth as he tries to stutter something.

 

LIEUTENANT

Shit!

 

As GAFF falls to the ground, RICK gets up, gritting his teeth and grabs GAFF’s rifle and his pistol. ANNA and ANDRE duck as LIEUTENANT raises his rifle and fires, but RICK fires back driving the LIEUTENANT behind the FEDRA vehicle.

ANDRE and ANNA grab their weapons and backpacks (but not the big duffle with food and water) and fall behind RICK as he lays down cover fire. ANNA grabs GAFF’s leg and tries pulling him back behind the alley.

ANDRE sees her struggle and helps. Finally RICK joins them, and they hide behind the corner of the ALLEYWAY.

 

ALLEYWAY

 

ANDRE

What the hell did you grab him for?

 

ANNA crouches over the dead soldier and grabs several full mags for the assault rifle, and hands them to RICK. He nods to her. ANNA then grabs the knife, an Italian Stiletto Switchblade, from GAFF’s jaw and gets up, then pushes ANDRE down the ALLEYWAY. RICK follows, wincing at the pain in his side- where he was shot. He keeps his focus towards the street though, gun trained.

ANNA and ANDRE round the corner, and stop just short of the line with the cans on it. They duck, and RICK follows. Then they head down the SECOND ALLEYWAY, the one where the dead RUNNER originated. They hear shouting from the direction they came from.

ANNA leads the way down the SECOND ALLEYWAY. A large WAREHOUSE is to the right and to the left is another building. Up ahead we can see another street and a dumpster off to the side near the WAREHOUSE. Just before the dumpster, there is a slightly ajar door that leads into the WAREHOUSE.

ANNA sprints towards the street, the two men close behind her. The FEDRA truck suddenly skids to a stop at the end of the alleyway on the street. The LIEUTENANT jumps out with another soldier, and aims from behind the safety of the vehicle. ANNA and the other two duck behind the dumpster as the LIEUTENANT and his man take a few shots. ANNA looks back and sees the other two soldiers come around the corner (where they just came from), guns raised.

 

ANNA

Screw it.

 

ANNA kicks in the door to the WAREHOUSE.

 

ANNA

Go!

ANDRE

Are you serious?

 

Shots are fired.

ANNA grabs ANDRE and throws him into the building and follows him. RICK enters the building and then the door slams shut just as bullets hit the bricks where they just stood.

 

INT. WAREHOUSE

It’s dark. The only light available is sunlight peeking through dirty windows. The building is very dirty, and run down looking. One part of the floor off to the right has completely collapsed to the basement. Cobwebs and mold is everywhere. There are some spores, but not enough to cause alarm.

ANNA turns on a flashlight at the end of the assault rifle. It’s quiet inside the building, but they can hear the gunfire outside. One stray bullet shatters a window, and more light filters in. ANNA looks around, and sees an old filing cabinet. She goes over to it.

 

ANNA

Fucking help me.

 

RICK goes over, followed by ANDRE, and then the three push the cabinet in front of the door. When they are done ANNA sits on the desk and ANDRE collapses. RICK tries to stand up straight and catch his breath, but the wind is knocked out of him from his wound. He doubles over and ANNA rushes to him.

She examines RICK, with what little light there is. His shirt is dripping with blood and his breathing is a little ragged.

 

ANNA

How is it?

RICK

(through the pain)

Had worse.

 

ANNA

We need to get this taken care of.

 

There is a crashing sound, and they turn to see a canister flying through a window, spewing a gas of some kind.

 

ANDRE

MOVE!

 

ANDRE and ANNA have RICK put his arms around them and they quickly head towards the room’s exit as it fills with gas.

There are some spores present, but not a lot. Not enough for them to be worried. They enter a HALLWAY and the gas slowly creeps out after them, but not going much farther.

The three quickly move down the hall, and they hear some banging behind them. No doubt the soldiers are trying to enter.

The HALLWAY extends forward and then opens up into a small LOBBY. There are two doors there, but as they take a step towards them they can hear the vehicle pull up outside.

To the left there is a door marked STAIRWAY. ANNA and ANDRE look at each other, and then head for the door.

 

WAREHOUSE STAIRWAY

The door to the STAIRWAY swings open and the three enter. ANDRE slams the door closed behind them.

 

ANNA

(to RICK)

You think you can make it?

 

RICK

(through closed eyes)

I’ll be fine. Don’t worry about me. Just… get my men out

 

ANNE and ANDRE share a glance but then RICK groans and starts to go limp.

 

ANNA

Fuck. dad- DAD! Andre, help me get him someplace safe.

 

ANDRE takes hold of RICK again with ANNA and they start up the stairs, quickly. They get to the second floor, and open the door. It’s dark. Even darker than the first floor. They wait a moment. From somewhere, deep inside… they hear a CLICKER.

 

ANDRE

We can go one more up.

 

From below, they hear the door to the stairway open loudly and someone shout “GO!”

ANNA pulls RICK through the second floor door, and ANDRE follows, shutting the door as quietly as he can.

 

SECOND FLOOR

Once inside, ANDRE and ANNA start pushing a few desks and cabinets in front of the door- anything they can. Then they grab RICK, and move deeper into the space, listening. They can hear the CLICKER and possibly more…. There are also other subtle movement sounds. This floor definitely has a number of infested residing on it.

The three go past aisles of cabinets and clutter before finding a small corner with a desk. ANNA motions for them to go behind it, and the two drag RICK there and set him down. His breathing is deep and ragged.

 

ANNA

I need to take care of this.

ANDRE

I’ve got him. You keep watch.

ANNA

Don’t be stupid. I’m the nurse-

ANDRE

You’re also the better fighter. I said I got this!

 

ANNA stands up, and there is a sudden banging at the door to the stairway. It’s the soldiers. In the distance a CLICKER howls, and begins to run.

ANNA lifts her gun, and waits. Soon enough the CLICKER passes by her in a dead sprint towards the sound of the banging door. It has the body of a female, but other than the mouth the face is no longer visible. Instead, the fungus has taken over the entire head.

The door to the stairs opens and a soldier steps through and is tackled backwards by the CLICKER. The man begins to scream and there is a sudden stream of gunfire followed by silence. ANNA can hear a few more of the infected on the floor getting agitated.

 

LIEUTENANT (VO)

(distant/from stairway)

Son of a bitch.

 

There’s a single gunshot, followed by silence.

After a long moment another soldier enters the space through the door, gun raised. Behind him is the other soldier and the LIEUTENANT. They all have masks on now.

 

ANNA

(to ANDRE)

No matter what, take care of him.

 

ANNA suddenly leaves ANDRE and RICK. ANDRE watches for a moment, and then gets back to work on RICK.

ANNA moves slowly back into the aisles, and turns the light on the rifle off. She is keeping her focus in the direction of the soldiers. The soldiers have their lights on. To her left she can hear something shifting around.

She rounds the corner of an aisle and sees another CLICKER. Its clicks are soft, and spaced out. It’s relatively quiet and stealthy for its kind.  ANNA looks around and, at her feet, lays a book- a manual of some kind. She grabs it and lobs it across the space.

 

SOLDIER #1

What was that?!

 

The CLICKER howls, and takes off in a sprint towards the soldiers.

 

SOLDIER #2

Got it.

 

The CLICKER runs down the aisle where the book was thrown, and at the end of the aisle stands SOLDIER #2. He raises his rifle, and fires a single head shot at the CLICKER, who dies instantly. SOLDIER #2 lowers his weapon, and steps towards the fallen infected to examine it. He then looks and sees the book, which was thrown.

Suddenly, a knifed hand comes from behind the soldier and slits his throat. As he begins to go down arms come up to stop him. ANNA buckles slightly under the weight of the soldier, but is able to keep him from falling and making any major noise. She sets his body down softly, and moves on after grabbing some more assault rifle ammunition.

 

CUT TO:

The LIEUTENANT and SOLDIER #1 move slowly down the aisles. They hear infected really agitated now on the floor, moving their way. The LIEUTENANT grabs his radio.

 

LIEUTENANT

(to radio)

Brant, status?

 

There is nothing but static in reply.

 

LIEUTENANT

(with venom)

Cocksuckers.

(to SOLDIER #1)

Stay alert. Shoot on sight.

 

The two soldiers continue to move forward… towards the direction of the desk where ANDRE and RICK are.

ANDRE is bent over RICK. He has his shirt up and is trying to stitch up the exit wound. He’s already done the entrance. ANDRE goes for his backpack, which makes a shuffling sound.

LIEUTENANT and SOLDIER #1 hear the shuffling sound, and their heads snap up towards the desk. They take a few steps towards it.

ANDRE crouches lower.

 

ANDRE

(silent)

SHIT.

 

ANNA is watching the action take place, eyes wide. The desk is wooden, so she can’t shoot at the men for fear the bullets may pierce through the desk and hit ANDRE and her father. But the soldiers could, at any second, open fire.

ANNA aims the gun upward, and begins to fire.

 

The soldiers turn towards the sound and move quickly.

 

ANDRE watches from his position, and then gets back to work. He opens the bag up and grabs some tape and gauze.

 

LIEUTENANT

Got you…

 

Deeper in the halls, the sounds of infected grow louder until finally several rush into the space.

SOLDIER #1 turns and fires at the infected, dropping them. More howl in the distance.

 

LIEUTENANT

You cover our six, I got point.

 

LIEUTENANT moves forward with precision. ANNA passes in front of his light beam.

 

LIEUTENANT (cont’)

Contact!

 

LIEUTENANT fires. One of the bullets grazes her calf. She yelps in pain, and falls. She gets back up and begins limping away.

The LIEUTENANT rounds a corner and sees some fresh blood on the floor, leading away. Under his mask he can’t help but smile.

 

More infected enter the space, and SOLDIER #1 fires.

One of the infected is a RUNNER, who stops just short of being shot with the others and turns to see ANDRE bent over RICK. The RUNNER howls and sprints towards ANDRE, who looks up- terrified.

SOLDIER #1 spots the lone RUNNER heading towards the desk, and squints.

 

 

SOLDIER #1

Lieutenant, I think some of the targets are behind us.

LIEUTENANT

Copy. Go for it. I got this one.

 

SOLDIER #1 fires from his position.

ANDRE watches as the RUNNER comes towards him, but then is met with a spray of bullets. The gunfire doesn’t stop though. It starts hammering the desk, and he takes cover. One bullet makes it through the desk. Then another. And another…

 

ANNA leans up against a wall, and catches her breath. She hears the gunfire, and is trying to work her way around to get a shot at SOLDIER #1 but LIEUTENANT is hot on her. She hears a shuffling, and then sees the light from CAPTAIN’s gun come around the corner of an aisle, and he fires at her. She runs, just missing the bullets as they hit the wall.

 

LIEUTENANT moves in, knowing he’s close to cornering her.

 

ANDRE grabs the pistol and cocks it. A bullet passes through the desk right above his head as he does. He begins firing through the desk, and SOLDIER #1 takes cover.

ANDRE peeks out and sees the position of the soldier from the light on his gun. He can hear more infected heading their way, as well as something else. Something big. He watches as a RUNNER comes towards the soldier and is shot down. After, SOLDIER #1 slowly lowers his gun a few inches and stares into the darkness where the infected are coming from.

ANDRE looks, and doesn’t see anything. He looks back and sees SOLDIER #1 backing up.

 

SOLDIER #1

What the hell…!?

 

Suddenly a giant sack of Mycotoxin (toxic spores produced by the fungus) is hurled from the darkness towards the soldier, and explodes as it hits one of the shelves in the aisles. The soldier backs up even more, and tries to frantically radio in.

 

SOLDIER #1

Sir… LIEUTENANT!

 

CUT TO:

ANNA is being herded farther away from her father and ANDRE now. She can hear SOLDIER #1 over the CAPTAIN’s radio, and she can also hear that the LIEUTENANT is not responding to his comrade’s cry.

Before the LIEUTENANT rounds another corner, ANNA fires a few round in his direction, keeping him back.

She hears more shouting over the radio, through static.

 

SOLDIER #1 (V.O)

SIR! We need- leave- Something-BIG. FUCKING BIG – shit everywhere, it burns! -Oh my God! – LIEUTENANT!

 

CUT TO:

ANDRE watches in horror as, out of the darkness, comes a big hulking shape- a BLOATER. It’s large and imposing, and looks like a corpse that’s been soaking in water for too long. Fungus covers its entire body, acting as a kind of armor plating. It makes a deep clicking/groaning sound, and then lobs a Mycotoxin sack towards SOLDIER #1.

The soldier gives up trying to radio, and begins spraying the infected with bullets while backing up. The bullets seem to have no effect on the beast. Finally the soldier reaches the door to the stairway and rushes out of it. ANDRE looks back and two CLICKERS are starting to edge in towards the action as well.

A bloody hand comes up and grabs on to his shoulder. He looks back and it’s RICK, standing.

 

RICK

Let’s go, soldier.

 

CUT TO:

ANNA is now literally backed into a corner. She’s scooting a cabinet over, and taking a position behind it.

 

LIEUTENANT

Bitch… you’re gonna’ fucking die here. Shame, really. You’re damn skilled. Would’a made a fine soldier. Did you have training?

 

LIEUTENANT reaches the opening and sees the cabinet. The window casts enough light in that he can see ANNA’s shadow on the opposite wall from behind the cabinet. He lifts his gun.

 

RICK

Yeah, she did.

 

LIEUTENANT looks back and his head is met with the butt of a gun. He topples over on to the floor. He looks up stunned, and then he’s hit again and passes out.

ANNA peeks out and sees her father standing over the LIEUTENANT and ANDRE close by. RICK bends over and picks up the assault rifle from the CAPTAIN, and some ammo.

 

RICK

Move out.

 

ANNA comes out from the corner, just as a sack of Mycotoxin falls near them. They all look back and see that the BLOATER and a few CLICKERS are heading their way.

 

ANNA

What… the…

ANDRE

Let’s go.

 

The three start heading back towards the exit, but not before ANNA topples over a large shelf, pinning the LIEUTENANT and jarring him awake. The sound distracts the infected from the fleeing group, and draws them towards the LIEUTENANT.

The three exit into the STAIRWAY.

The LIEUTENANT tries getting himself unstuck, but to no avail. He looks up and the BLOATER reaches down and grabs at his face and rips his mask off. LIEUTENANT begins to scream, but the BLOATER hooks into his jaws and starts to tear open his mouth…

 

CUT TO:

STAIRWAY

We hear the CAPTAIN’s screams and then abruptly end. ANNA, ANDRE, and RICK never stop or look back. They head down to the first floor and exit the STAIRWAY into:

 

LOBBY

As they enter the LOBBY the main doors slam shut. They hurry towards them, and open them.

 

EXT. STREET – DUSK

The sun is beginning to set. SOLDIER #1 is running around the front of the FEDRA truck and is about to get in when he’s met with a spray of bullets from RICK.

The three of them approach the vehicle and get in. RICK is moving very militarist again, like he was in the alleyway. RICK is about to hop into the driver’s seat when ANNA stops him.

 

ANNA

I got it, dad.

 

RICK looks at her, and begins to slowly realize who she is.

 

 

RICK

Yes, ma’am. I mean… Anna.

 

 

RICK gets into the rear of the vehicle. From the other side of the truck ANDRE gives ANNA a questioning look. She nods, and gets in without a word. ANDRE climbs into the back of the truck. Once he closes the door they take off.

The truck pulls a U turn and they go back towards their apartment building. ANNA gets out of the truck and picks up the duffle bag full of food and supplies that had been left behind. She throws it into the truck then hops back in and they start up again down the street.

 

 

CUT TO:

FEDRA TRUCK/HIGHWAY- NIGHT

Night has just set in, and the group is heading down the highway- towards the zone. RICK is asleep in the back and ANDRE is now seated up front.

 

ANDRE

Here is good. I don’t want to get too close.

 

ANNA pulls over the vehicle and the two get out. ANNA now has a bandage around her leg as well. There is a long pause.

 

ANNA

Thank you.

ANDRE

No problem.

ANNA

(after another pause)

Should be easier to sneak in, now that it’s dark.

ANDRE

Hopefully.

(Pause)

Where are you heading?

ANNA

Don’t know. I’ll need to ditch the truck. More soldiers will be out soon, if they aren’t already. I’ll make sure we get far enough away though.

ANDRE

We could try to sneak in, together. All of us.

ANNA

Don’t be stupid. Someone would notice us.

ANDRE

I could-

ANNA

Andre.

ANDRE stands in silence, and looks off towards where the zone is. We can just make it out- perhaps five or so miles away.

ANDRE

Anna… I know there is… nothing I can say that will make you change your mind-

ANNA

You’re right.

ANDRE

What if you didn’t even go to the zone? What if we go, you and me- find a Firefly outpost.

ANNA

I’m not leaving him.

ANDRE

Him to. For now. I mean… That’s not what- (Pause) You know, right before the outbreak happened… I remember I was going over to my neighbor’s house, my best friend’s place, to hang out. When I got there his mom said that they couldn’t have visitors because his dad had come home sick from work that day and they wanted to make sure I wasn’t exposed to whatever it was. A few hours later when all Hell broke loose and we were packing up our car we heard screaming next door. My parents shoved me into our car and as we drove away I could see my friend’s dad… killing them through the window. Ripping them apart.

ANNA

Andre…I know you’re trying to say something.

ANDRE

ANNA… your dad may not be infected, but he’s still sick. And… if you expose yourself to it, you’re going to die too.

ANNA

(after a long pause)

You can fucking leave now.

 

ANDRE opens the back door, and grabs his gear. Without a second glance back he starts down the road towards the quarantine zone.

ANNA watches him for a few seconds, thoughtful, before climbing back into the truck and driving back the way she came.

 

 

CUT TO:

HIGHWAY/TRUCK – NIGHT

ANNA drives, while RICK is in the passenger seat examining one of the assault rifles.

 

CUT TO:

HIGHWAY – DAY

The two have parked off. RICK is siphoning off some gas through a hose and filling some containers with it.

ANNA is looking around. There are a bunch of abandoned trucks and vehicles laying around, pushed to each side of the road.

She wipes some dust away from a car window before breaking it and opens the door. She finds some medications and stuffs them into her bag. She peers inside several abandoned cars.

 

RICK

Don’t forget that one.

 

RICK is finishing up, putting the caps on the fuel containers. ANNA looks at the last car her dad was referring to, then walks towards it. She peers in through the window. She sees a rotting corpse of a woman in the front seat, a gun in her lap. The woman has a hole in her head.

ANNA goes to break the window and as she does she looks in the back. In the back, sitting in a safety seat, is the corpse of a baby. It too has been shot and killed. ANNA begins to well up, and her arms slump to her side. She walks away.

 

ANNA

Nothing. Let’s go.

 

The two load up the FEDRA truck and start off.

 

CUT TO:

HIGHWAY/TRUCK – DUSK

ANNA is driving.

 

ANNA

Looks promising.

RICK

Hm. Yeah. Just keep your eyes peeled.

 

 

The two turn off of the HIGHWAY and onto the STREET.

There are still plenty of abandoned cars, rusting and growing moss.

There are buildings now which don’t seem to be in much better condition. Miles away they can see several larger structures, including the parking structure, on a small strip. Not as big as those closer to the city where they were, but still large. This area is more suburban.

They see houses that were once nice, and apartment complexes, and stores. No infected, yet, though.

 

RICK

Might as well try for that structure. The parking garage. We’ll do some recon around here, see what we can find.

ANNA

Yes, sir. I’mma drive a little out though first.

 

ANNA turns down a residential street where houses are lined up on each side. She continues down this road for several miles. Outside it’s a nice evening. Calm. Birds in the sky, and the sun is beginning to set.

After a while she looks up and sees that at the end of the street is a school.

 

ANNA (con’t)

 We need to ditch this truck and I don’t want to do that anywhere near where we’ll be setting up-

RICK

Why is the road wet? It hasn’t rained.

 

ANNA looked ahead and saw that the ground was indeed wet. RICK sniffed a little, then opened his window just a crack.

A realization quickly sweeps across his face.

 

RICK

Shit, it’s-

 

From out of the window of a building a red flare shoots out and strikes the wet pavement. Huge flames erupt from the gas soaked STREET and engulf the underbelly of the vehicle.

ANNA looks ahead and sees a large school bus edging in front of them until they crash into it.

 

ALL GOES BLACK.

 

POV shot as ANNA waking up to her father yelling, her vision blurry until it locks on him.

 

RICK
Grab what you can!

Out of POV

ANNA looks around and grabs their bag of weapons. Blood is covering the side of her head. She looks back and sees that their containers of fuel are leaking everywhere. As she turns to her door she sees the passenger door swing open and a group of people pulling RICK out of the car.

 

ANNA

DAD!

 

ANNA opened her door and is licked by flames. Suddenly someone dressed in all black tactical gear (ANDERSON) starts pulling her out. ANNA kicks them off, and jumps out of the vehicle.

ANNA tries to land, but her foot is caught by the person she just kicked.

 

ANDERSON

Grab her!

 

Two more individuals dressed in the gear grab hold of ANNA as she reaches for her switch blade. They lift her up and one of them takes the blade away. The two drag her off as she thrashes about, yelling.

 

ANNA

Dad. DAD!

 

ANDERSON gets up and jogs towards them. There is a group of people standing on the side of the road and several more inside a shop. Several of them have the same gear on, and several are in regular clothes. All have guns.

 

ANDERSON

Everyone get back!

 

A group of people moves into the SCHOOL, while ANNA and her captures stay just outside.

There is an explosion, and the FEDRA truck is engulfed in flames.

ANNA looks on in horror, but as the flames begin to die down she can see that her father is kneeling on the other side in front of a house. He’s surrounded by men, all with guns trained on him.

 

ANNA

(turning)

Let him go you mother-

 

ANNA is hit in the back of the head and falls unconscious.

 

ALL GOES BLACK.

 

INT. SCHOOL ROOM #1- NIGHT

ANNA wakes up slowly, and then immediately tries to stand up. She is strapped down. She looks around. She’s in a classroom. An elementary classroom and she’s strapped to a medical cot. Her head has since been bandaged and the one side of her face has been cleaned of blood. But the rest of her face is still covered in soot and dust. He clothes are filthy.

 

ANDERSON

Don’t thrash too much. Those cots are shit, and will tip over.

 

ANNA leans her head back and sees ANDERSON behind her, near the door of the classroom.

 

ANNA

Where the hell… who the hell are-

ANDERSON

Please, relax. We’re not going to hurt you.

ANNA

Hurt me again you mean.

ANDERSON

Yeah. We’re… erm-

ANNA

Sorry? Fuck you.

 

ANDERSON pulls a chair close to ANNA and sits.

 

ANDERSON

Look we thought you were them. You were in a FEDRA truck. We have to take precautions…

ANNA

What did you do with my dad?

 

ANDERSON

He’s alright. He‘s-

ANNA

I want to see him. NOW.

ANDERSON

You will. Soon. But first you need to answer my questions.

 

ANNA glares at him for a moment, and then relaxes.

 

ANDERSON

Why where you in a FEDRA truck?

ANNA

We stole it.

ANDERSON

Bull shit.

(Pause)

 How? Why?

ANNA

Closer to the city… to the zone. Got into a standoff and we won. Needed to get out of there and fast. Figured a vehicle is pretty fast. So long as we don’t crash it.

 

ANDERSON

Were you fleeing the zone?

ANNA

We… yes.

ANDERSON

(pause)

Want to try that again?

ANNA

We actually were. But… we… we were never really there to begin with. My dad and I. Never in the zone. They were going to try and take us there. We weren’t going.

ANDERSON

So you haven’t once been inside a zone?

ANNA

No.

ANDERSON

Lucky you. Why?

ANNA

No, no. My turn. Who the hell are you people? Just outsiders, or-

 

ANDERSON

Fireflies.

 

ANNA gives a momentary subtle look of shock, but regains her composure.

 

ANNA

Really?

ANDERSON

Really.

ANNA

(pause)

Guess this all makes sense, then.

 

ANDERSON

My name is Anderson. I was once a part of FEDRA. Until it turned into this … monster it is now. The goal had been to restore order. That’s never going to happen with them now. That’s why I joined the Fireflies. We are seeking to reestablish equilibrium.

ANNA

Fantastic. That sounds like a really noble thing to do. The right thing, yeah? Good luck with it.

ANDERSON

You don’t need to be afraid. We’re safe here.

ANNA

Don’t care. Let. Us. Go.

ANDERSON

(pause)

You’ll be free, soon enough. For now, just enjoy your rest.

ANDERSON stands up and starts towards the door.

ANNA

HEY, I want to see my dad.

ANDERSON

You will. Please, try and trust us. Try and relax… uh?(searching for name)

ANNA

Anna.

ANDERSON

Anna. Nice to meet you. Let us know if you need anything.

ANDERSON leaves the room.

 

ANNA

Yeah. I need to see my dad, fucking asshole.

 

As the door shuts ANNA leans her head back down and stares at the ceiling, then looks at the wall.

There is a motivational poster that reads:

SUCCESS

Success Is A Journey, Not A Destination.

 

ANNA rolls her eyes and lays her head back down. Soon she starts drifting off to sleep.

 

FADE TO BLACK.

 

CUT TO:

SCHOOL ROOM #1- DAY

ANNA wakes up and head talking outside. She can also hear something like a fire crackling. A grill.

She leans up and notices that she is no longer strapped down. She gets up, and moans.

 

ANNA

(in pain)

Shitshitshit.Ugh.

FIREFLY #1 walks in.

FIREFLY #1

Good, you’re up.

ANNA

Yeah, I suppose that’s a good thing.

FIREFLY#1

Come with me, when you’re ready.

 

ANNA gets up and follows FIREFLY #1 out of the room.

 

SCHOOL HALLWAY

The two head down a hallway towards the gym.

 

FIREFLY #1

ANDERSON thought you may want a shower. We have clean clothes for you also.

 

ANNA

My dad, I want to-

FIREFLY #1

You will. I promise.

 

The two stop outside of the gym. ANNA turns to FIREFLY #1.

 

ANNA

You guys are dicks.

FIREFLY #1

Enjoy.

 

CUT TO:

SHOWERS

ANNA is sitting on a bench in the school shower room.

She is clean, and her hair is still damp. She has a long row of stitches on the side of her head.

ANNA is getting dressed in clean clothes that look to be a size too big on her. Once she is done she heads up the stairs.

 

GYM

There are several people here including one in a doctor coat. She approaches them.

 

ANNA

You the one who stitched my head?

FIREFLY DOCTOR

Erm, yes.

 

ANNA

Thanks. But your suturing skills can use some work. Can I have a wrap please?

 

The DOCTOR gives her some supplies.

 

CUT TO:

EXT. SCHOOL YARD

ANNA steps out of the building and into the open day. She looks around and starts towards the grill. Her head is now bandaged back up, although it’s damp from her hair.

Several FIREFLIES are standing around. One at the grill, cooking chicken. There are some in tactical gear that have assault rifles near the fence.

She just as she reaches the grill she notices RICK stepping out from another door. ANDERSON is behind him. RICK is clean as well and has new clothes.

ANNA breaks into a dead sprint, and nearly tackles her father.

 

RICK

EXCUSE- Oh my god, ANNA!

ANNA

Dad!

ANDERSON

Man of my word.

ANNA

(to ANDERSON)

‘Bout damn time.

ANDERSON

Precautions. I apologize.

ANNA

(to RICK)

How are you?

RICK

Good. I got wounded though, I guess. They took care of me though. Have you seen your mom?

ANDERSON

He’s been asking about, Ellie is her name? We-

ANNA

Dad, you remember yesterday?

RICK

Yeah. Yeah. The attack on the bunker and those soldiers. Just don’t remember getting shot is all. We lost a man though right?

ANNA

Andre… he, no. He’s fine. He… he was shipped home.

RICK

He’s a good man. Deserves to see his family. But where is mommy, baby girl?

ANNA

Dad, she’s-

 

ANNA looks over an ANDERSON, who has his arms crossed. His face though is sympathetic… understanding.

 

ANDERSON

You two have to be hungry. Please, get some food.

 

The two get food, chicken breasts. They then sit down on a bench and eat.

 

RICK

How are you?

ANNA

I’m fine. Head got banged up in the crash.

RICK

Ah. Well, it was luck of us that we found another platoon right?

ANNA

Right.

 

ANNA looks over and sees ANDERSON seemingly arguing with another man, DAN. DAN keeps pointing over. She strains her ears to see what she can hear.

 

DAN

(hushed)

-and he’s fucking gone. We can’t have him here. He’s a liability.

ANDERSON

(hushed)

No. Every man counts.

DAN

Keep thinking that, until he ends up getting someone killed.

ANNA

(to RICK)

We won’t be staying long though. You gonna’ be good to move out soon?

RICK

Yes, ma’am.

 

DAN walks away, upset, and ANDERSON turns to look at ANNA for a moment and then walks over.

ANDERSON

So, apart from the whole almost dying thing… how do you guys like it here?

 

 

ANNA gets up after finishing her food, and RICK follows.

 

ANNA

Just fine, but we won’t be staying. We appreciate the help, and the food, but we gotta go

ANDERSON

Wait, hold on-

ANNA

Come on dad.

 

RICK and ANNA walk back inside of the building leaving ANDERSON outside watching.

 

 

INT. SCHOOL ROOM #2

Firefly #2 leads ANNA and RICK into the room.

 

Firefly #2

All of your stuff that went undamaged is in here.

ANNA

And our weapons.

Firefly #2

They’ll, er, be returned to you on your way out. Although you’re more than welcome to-

ANNA

Thanks.

 

Firefly #2 leaves the two as they start collecting their things. Most of the important stuff like their medical equipment and other items in their bags has, surprisingly, been left untouched.

ANDERSON soon walks in, with a young black woman (MARLENE) trailing behind him.

 

ANDERSON

Hey, there was something I wanted to talk to you guys about.

ANNA

Make it fast. (to Rick) We’re leaving in ten.

RICK

Yes, ma’am.

 

ANDERSON

We need people. And you two are more than welcome to stay. My doctor said that that you have medical experience. That’s perfect. We need more doctors-

ANNA

I’m a nurse.

ANDERSON

Still great. We need people. And your dad, Rick, you look like you can handle a weapon well, and take care of yourself. (chuckles) He knocked out two of my guys yesterday after pulling him out of that truck. He’s trained. We can use him-

ANNA

Until he turns on you.

 

ANDERSON looks puzzled, and RICK stops what he’s doing and looks at ANNA.

 

ANNA

You know how many times he’s pointed a gun at my face, or threatened to slit my throat in my sleep? Me. His own daughter. What the fuck do you think he’s going to do to strangers, your people? He is a liability.

 

There is a moment of silence in the room. RICK slowly starts going back to packing, hurt.

 

ANDERSON

We’re… forming teams. Trying to send reinforcements to other sections. Our next once is heading close to Boston. This Marlene. She’s leading the team, and they defiantly need people.

ANNA

I’m not fucking dragging my dad all the way to Boston. God, you people are fucking dense.

MARLENE

If I may… we would really appreciate-

 

ANNA shoulders her pack. RICK hesitantly does the same.

 

ANNA

I’m stopping you, now. We’re leaving. We’re not staying. We’re not fucking going to Boston, or anywhere with you. We’ve survived this long on our own, we’ll be fine.

 

ANNA starts towards door.

 

MARLENE

I really think we can help one another-

ANNA

Get the hell out of my way.

 

MARLENE looks at ANDERSON and he nods. She moves aside and ANNA and RICK leave.

 

EXT. SCHOOL YARD

RICK and ANNA exit the building and heads towards the gate. Beyond, just down the road is what remains of the FEDRA truck. A group of men surround it, trying to clean up the debris.

MARLENE comes walking out of the school with ANDERSON behind her. She is shouldering the bag with RICK and ANNA’s weapons and walking towards them. ANDERSON stops and watches.

MARLENE approaches them and hands off the weapons to RICK. ANNA reaches into the bag, grabs her switchblade and pistol. She checks the gun, mechanically.

 

ANNA

Open the gate. Unless you’re forcing us to stay here against our will.

 

MARLENE

We wouldn’t do that. We believe that people still have rights. Even when the world’s gone to shit.

 

MARLENE opens the gate.

 

MARLENE

I wish you’d reconsider.

ANNA

(Pause)

You don’t want us around. We’re more trouble than we’re worth.

MARLENE

I doubt that. But the offer still stands, if you change your mind.

RICK and ANNA step outside. The gate is then closed and the two start heading down the street. RICK looks at ANNA, wanting to say something but doesn’t. ANNA doesn’t look back.

 

 

CUT TO:

STREET

The street is lined with stores and shops and a few abandoned cars. RICK peers inside the cars as the walk past. Some of the roads have been blocked off with signs.

 

CUT TO:

Another shot of the two walking down another STREET. There is a dead body in the road that they walk around, not even looking at it.

 

CUT TO:

On the street RICK whistles towards a darkened store. A moment passes and a RUNNER comes barreling out. As it does though it’s tripped and ANNA rushes it, stabbing it in the back of the head. ANNA and RICK then proceed inside, searching.

 

CUT TO:

As they round a corner they see a large structure- an APARTMENT BUILDING. The two look at each other and then start towards it.

 

CUT TO:

INT. APARTMENT BUILDING- DAY

RICK and ANNA kick in the doors to a new APARTMENT BUILDING and aim their weapons. They wait a moment before entering. Hearing nothing, they step inside and close the doors behind them.

The place is dirty, and there is dust in the air. No spores though. This building is distinctly different from the last apartment building.

The two head towards the main desk.

 

OFFICE

ANNA rifles through the office area and finds the keys, and grabs one of the only remaining keys- room 208.

The two then leave the office and head upstairs.

 

APARTMENT 208

The door unlocks and swings open and the two step inside of their new living space. It’s bare. The two look at each other.

 

CUT TO:

ANNA breaking down the door to another apartment. The two go inside and start moving the couch.

 

CUT TO:

ANNA and RICK moving beds into their new apartment.

 

CUT TO:

HALLWAY

ANNA going down a hall, checking each apartment door and making sure they are locked.

 

CUT TO:

208- DUSK

ANNA is looking out the window. There is a fire escape outside.

In the front room is a couch and a twin bed. The bigger bed that they got earlier is in the master bedroom. Right now these are the only furnishings.

RICK enters the room without a shirt. His bandages are all bloody.

 

RICK

We’ll pick up some more stuff tomorrow.

 

ANNA

Not sure how much more there is to find around here. Seems the Fireflies have cleaned this area out well.

 

ANNA goes to the pack that ANDRE had given them and opens it. Inside is a first aid. ANNA grabs it and goes to her father. She slowly peels away the bandages. We can see that a stitch has popped out of the exit wound.

 

ANNA

Damn it. You tore a stitch. I don’t think I have anything to do a new one. For now… just try not to move a lot, okay? We’ll see what we can find tomorrow.

RICK

Alright.

 

ANNA takes off the other bandage and then puts two new ones covering up the bullet wound.

 

RICK

You know, your mom was good at this too. When I came back from tour the last time, and I had that big shrap wound… she was able to clean and redress it better than any doctor.

ANNA

I know. It’s why I wanted to be a nurse.

(pause)

You know, it amazes me some of the shit you remember.

RICK

Heh. When it comes to your mom… I like to think I remember quite a bit.

ANNA

Except that she’s gone.

RICK

(pause)

Maybe I don’t like to remember that.

ANNA

(Pause)

Sorry.

RICK

I guess… it’s her and war. Those two things, I remember most.

 

ANNA says nothing, although this obviously distresses her.

 

RICK

Well, I guess they were kind of the last two things I had before… well, you know. I became like this.

ANNA

(finishes dressing)

Done.

RICK

(looking at bandage)

Like new. Thank you.

 

He smiles, and she gives somewhat of a smile back. Then she starts to get up, and RICK grabs her arm.

 

 

RICK

Honey… I still have plenty of memories of you, too.

ANNA

(smiling, trying to fight tears)

Love you, daddy.

 

RICK

Love you too, baby girl. Get some rest. We’ve had a Hell of a day.

ANNA

Yeah. You too. Tomorrow will be busy. Priority number one, finish clearing the building. I only got about half way.

RICK

Roger that.

 

RICK gets up and goes into the bedroom. ANNA puts the first aid away, and drinks some water before climbing onto the twin mattress and falling asleep.

 

We go to black. And hold there for a long time, almost like it’s the ending. Then we hear the clicking sound of a hammer on a gun being pulled back. Then the faint sound of a door open and close.

We are in ANNA’s POV as her eyes open slightly for a moment and the room is hazy. We see the front room, and the door leading out to the hallway. But that’s it. All is quiet. ANNA goes back to sleep again. And all is dark and quiet for a long time again.

 

BANG

We are out of ANNA’s POV and her eyes snap open- very reminiscent of how the film begins.

BANG.

She sits up very quickly and looks towards the front door.

There is a third BANG and she reaches for her assault rifle, and gets ready to aim it when RICK bursts through the door and slams it shut.

 

 

RICK

(bracing against the door)

They followed me! FUCK. I gave away our position.

 

ANNA

(throwing the locks into place)

Dad! What’s going on?

RICK

They’re out there. They’re coming.

 

ANNA listens and in the distance she can hear the faint howls of infected.

 

ANNA

Oh shit…

RICK

Wake the others!

ANNA

Dad. Dad, listen to me. We need to go.

(heading towards gear, and starts packing.)

 Come on.

RICK

What… what the fuck? What are you talking about?

 

ANNA goes up to RICK and pulls him away from the door. They go into the center of the room and RICK flips the couch over as a barrier.

 

ANNA

What are you doing? We are not staying here!

RICK

I can’t leave our post; our men!

 

The infected can now be heard outside in the hallway approaching the apartment. A few are already scratching at the door.

 

ANNA

(shouldering her backpack)

Dad, we have to go!

RICK

No, I won’t abandon my men! It’s my fault, I led them here!

ANNA

(pulling at him)

DAD!

RICK

(yelling, and pushing her away)

My men need me!

 

ANNA struggles with herself, tears welling up in her eyes. She walks away and then back to RICK- who is vigilantly aimed at the door.

 

 

ANNA

(Pause)

Sarge… sir, do you know what’s behind that door?

RICK

Corporal, I’m very well aware!

ANNA

(kneels down)

We… You can’t let one of those fuckers through, do you hear me!? We gotta’ protect our men!

RICK

Hooah!!

 

ANNA gets up and backs away. RICK is still kneeled behind the flipped over couch, aimed tightly at the doorway. The infected, outside the door, continue to bang against it- howling and screaming. The door begins to splinter around the hinges.

 

ANNA

(still backing up)

You have to protect us …

 

RICK is breathing hard. His face contorted with determination and anger.  He’s trying to control his breathing.

ANNA continues to back up until she reaches the window. Outside is the fire exit. She quietly lifts the window up as the banging continues.

The door splinters some more, and a big chunk falls to the floor. One of the infected can be seen beyond, howling. RICK fires and hits it in the skull. Blood sprays and it falls backwards, Hands reach in from the whole tearing away from the door. The infected are only seconds away from entering…

RICK turns, a smile on his face.

 

RICK

Fuckin’ right! Corporal, get in-

 

RICK sees the open window, and his smile fades. Fear rushes into his eyes as he looks around. The banging continues and the wood splinters loudly.

RICK’s head snaps back and we watches in terror as the infected bring the door down. Then RICK raises his gun, tears in his eyes and anger on his face… and he begins to scream and fire at the oncoming horde.

 

 

CUT TO:

 

EXT. BUILDING – NIGHT

ANNA lands on her feet at the bottom of the fire escape, and she hears the gunfire. Tears are streaming down her face as she looks up and hears the howling of RICK and the horde mixed with the gunfire.

The gunfire continues for a second before it abruptly ends and RICK’s screams turn from anger to pain as he is ripped apart.

ANNA’s crying intensifies as she begins running.

SNAP TO BLACK

END.

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WB films/ DC Comics

 

As always, MAJOR spoilers.

You were warned.

 

When the first trailer hit for Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice I was just as game as anyone. As a lifelong Batman and comic book fan this was a film I have been dreaming of for years. But as the subsequent trailers and TV spots were released, and more details of the film were spread I started lowering my expectations. I’m glad I did, because I think it actually allowed me to enjoy BvS.

Personally I think BvS was okay. Not great, and not bad- just okay. Which, to some, it might as well be bad- and I understand that ‘lukewarm- spew you out’ mentality. The flaws of BvS are obvious: rushed story and some weird character choices. When some of the things get to being cringe-worthy in the film it makes you wonder how a film can simultaneously have some of the best comic film moments ever. For all its flaws, this film has some amazing moments in it that the audience as well as fans will enjoy. But those moments make the bad sting just that much more, because you know that really… this could have been a really good film

 

The basic synopsis can be found everywhere now, so I won’t waste a lot of time on it. Basically we pick up nearly two years after where Man of Steel leaves off. The world is still

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WB films/ DC Comics

recovering from Zod and Superman’s battle (although… they seemed to have rebuilt Metropolis pretty damn fast) and people are torn on if Superman is friend or foe. Even Superman for the entire length of the film, until the end, is torn on if he feels like saving the world anymore. Batman/Bruce Wayne sees him as a threat though, a threat that must be dealt with before more innocents are killed. Ensues is their fight, but there is another force (Lex Luthor) that wants to see the world be rid of both of them.

 

 

Overall, as I said before, the film feels rushed. It literally follows the same pacing as Man of Steel, which is unfortunate. The first half, in my opinion, is actually great. Well-paced, and sets up a lot and had me invested. Besides one character (which I will get to soon enough) I was really in to this film for the first half and was actually wondering why it was getting all of the hate. Then the “Knightmare” sequence  happened and you’ll know right then that there is a sudden shift, you can feel it.  Something happens that is both cool and confusing and you know right away that that is how the rest of the film is going to play out then. And that’s how it starts. The confusion… the cramped story, that turns a good movie… cruel.

The rest of the film you really have to fight at times to keep straight. I mean, sure, you still understand what is happening: Batman wants to actually kill Superman, Luthor is [kind of] the overall puppet master and doing evil stuff, and there are other metahumans out there. Got it. But the why’s just seem to either get glossed over or left out completely sometimes. Which makes the resolutions to the problems happen seem less cathartic. You’re left thinking “this really could’ve been easily avoided if-”, or “wait, when did they find that out?” or “wait, why was this a thing again/how did that happen?” instead of focusing wholly on what is actually going on screen.  Great example: as much as I loved the actual battle between Bats and Supes, all we were really given before it was a brief training montage of Bruce in the cave- which I didn’t mind. But him creating the kryptonite gas he’ll use on Superman or any other type of planning he does for the battle is never really explained. It’s showed, somewhat, but unless you’ve read The Dark Knight Returns and KNEW that’s what he was probably making, you’d have no real clue what he was doing and then later when he uses it against Supes you’d be left thinking “wait, when did he make that?” More importantly, how? We’re never given any explanation to is this Batman is

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WB films/DC Comics

good at chemistry, or manufacturing, or… really anything other than fighting, being awesome, and some detective skills. I guess we’re supposed to already “know” that Batman can do anything, but it just doesn’t play out that way. When does Clark figure out Batman is Bruce, or Luthor figure Supes is Clark? Or how exactly is Doomsday created? I know it deals with using some of Zod’s body and Luthor’s blood and the genesis chamber… but, seriously, how? It just comes across as lazy story telling when certain things are glossed over. There are tons of other examples, sadly, that I could go on about but I don’t want to meander on the point.

 

The characters really suffer for the rushed second half. Relationships develop, plot points are revealed, and problems are resolved too quickly and in the end while hitting every major beat it just doesn’t feel… complete. What baffles me is the choice of what was included and what wasn’t. There are just some sequences that, while fun, didn’t need to be in the film and I feel like there are probably some that were cut (for crying out loud, there is another 30+ min being added for the BluRay release)  that would have served more of a purpose. Case and point, the Knightmare sequence. While cool I could tell that everyone in the audience who wasn’t comic book savvy didn’t have a clue what it meant. Yes, it serves as a key moment for Batman to decide that he needs to deal with Supes. But it was just all too much. In one scene it introduces us to Darkseid (without actually introducing

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WB films/ DC Comics

him,) and Flash and his powers, AND (kind of) the story of Injustice. It just didn’t serve any other purpose than to look… ahem, flashy and really bulk up a really non-existent side plot. Really it was a post credits scene in the middle of a movie. Actually, come to think of it, I feel like most of the second half of the film was just cut together post credit scenes. That’s the way it plays out. Cool, exciting eye candy that are just really cliffhangers that set up a bigger picture with no real explanation. All these cameos and winks are cool to see, but you’re left confused most of the time and wanting some actual substance.

 

 

 

Now, the characters.

Let’s just get this one out of the way. Jesse Eisenberg’s Lex Luthor. Yes. This is the one, single character that I didn’t find myself liking through most of the film… and not for the right reasons. The sad thing is, is that like the movie itself, there actually are moments that he nails it. They’re subtle, and very few, but when he does get it you know, and it’s wonderful. But then it’s all very fleeting and waving goodbye as it moves on. I don’t quite know what was the though process with this depiction. He plays out like a mad scientist half the time, which… in the very early days of Luthor in the comics, that’s actually exactly what he is. But it just doesn’t fit the tone of the film at all, and seems weird. Eisenberg is a great actor, and like I said- when he gets it, he gets it. My hope is that if he’s in future films he finds that center more than doing the twitchy mess we got. I will say, despite everything, this Luthor as some very evil moments.

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WB films/DC Comics

Next, Ben Affleck’s Batman. Holy. CRAP. This was, hands down, the best part of the film. Every scene he was in he just ate up. It’s sad that there wasn’t more. I can’t quite decide if I like this Batman more than the TDK/Bale Bat but… man it’s a close call. This Batman in every way was epic. Brutal, fierce, cunning, and just an overall bad ass. Now, here is the thing that I will bet a lot of people will be divided on: Batman and his “one rule.” Do we see Batman kill in this film? Yes. And… no. Defiantly in the Knightmare sequence we see Batman killing.  But the rest of the film I would argue that Batman doesn’t kill any more in this film than the Nolan Bat-films (with two exception.) The BvS Batman really follows that “I won’t kill you, but I don’t have to save you logic.” In some instances he causes things to happen in which it’s possible bad guys would die but a.) that happens in the comics, especially the Frank Miller-verse (which this film is inspired HEAVILY by) and b.) once again, happens in the TDK films (watch ANY of the Batmobile chase scenes.) There are two exceptions. One possible exception is at the very end, where Batman causes a flamethrower tank to explode, but even then one could argue that maybe the guy is just badly burned, but if you argue that I feel like you’re grasping at straws. But as much as I love my non killing Batman… I have to admit, whether he killed the Lex flamethrower goon or not, that moment was amazing. And anybody who’s read The Dark Knight Returns knows exactly how it’s going to play out. “I believe you.” The other obvious (and probably most problematic) one is that he’s trying to straight up murder Superman. In the comics Batman has made contingency’s to kill Superman, so it’s not really like this hasn’t happened or could never happen in the comics. But it’s still kind of shocking to see, and a part of me wonders if he’s doing this to save people why hasn’t he killed to Joker yet… but you obviously shouldn’t be wondering too much about these things, right?

 

Another awesome surprise is Gal Gadot’s Wonder Woman. I know when she was cast a lot of people were skeptical, but man is she amazing when she’s on screen. The problem is  her inclusion is seemingly secondary and an afterthought that, while enjoyed and does tie in to the grand scheme of things, was obviously just thrown in there so that the film can

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have that broader scope. While she might be ultimately unneeded she certainly isn’t unwelcome by any means. Her and Batman make this movie.

 

Now, for Superman. This is probably the character I’m most torn on. I think Henry Cavill does a fine job, really. The problem is that in a movie where they are trying to fit so much Superman’s story just gets lost and he’s left seeming really whiny and wishy washy. It’s just… not very Superman-like. Which was also an issue in Man of Steel. That nihilistic, brooding tone is great for Batman and something director Zack Snyder does well… but it’s not Superman. And his evolution goes way too fast. He goes from helping people, to kind of being pissed at people not being thankful, to not sure if he wants to help people anymore, to all of a sudden willing sacrifice himself for humanity. And while that seems like a typical hero arch, it all happens in, like, the second half of the film; a very short amount of time. And it’s this quick turnaround (along with some other aspects) that leave the ending, which I will discuss in a minute, feeling rather hollow.

Other mentions:

Amy Adams is great again as Lois Lane, but I think they used her in distress one too many times. It just got old.

Jeremy Irons is fantastic as Alfred.

Diane Lane is great as Martha Kent again. AND we get a surprise return of Pa Kent (Kevin Costner) that I actually think is one of the best Superman scenes in the film. Felt the same way about his scenes in Man of Steel…

 

Now… on an overall note about geek/fan service of the film.  It’s there and it’s not, just like the rest of the film. There are aspects that comic fans will love, appreciate and are on point. Then there are others that just come out of nowhere and tamper with the lore. I could go on and on about my opinions on what they tampered with, but at the end of the day… I just think that comic fans have been a tad spoiled with what Marvel has done. I’m not saying we should expect less, I’m saying that… well, look at the Burton Bat-films. They don’t follow any comics, yet we love them (well, most do.) Try and be a little open minded. I’m not forgiving all aspects where this film diverges from the lore (I actually really hate how Doomsday was handled in this film)  but some you can see they were inspired by something in the comics or another movie and decided to try and do something new. If you want to discuss this note further I’m always happy to talk comic books and movies!

 

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Now… the ending. The ending is actually something I called happening back in August when the first Suicide Squad trailer hit and have discussed with several people. Superman dies. I’m both happy that they stuck to the source material and a bit perturbed. Like I said before, Superman’s arch in this film was just really rushed and because of that I don’t think the impact of his death- his self-sacrifice is fully felt. Furthermore he and Batman’s sudden friendship and Bruce’s mourning and wanting to honor him feels rushed and weird as well. I get it but it doesn’t make it feel any less weird. In the comics Batman is so devastated by he doesn’t even appear at his funeral. While he attended the funeral here, they tried to give him the same level of grief I feel and I just… don’t get it. Literally, like 48 hours before you were trying to kill each other.  It, just like most of the rest of the film, feels a tad forced and rushed. If they just wanted to tell Superman coming to terms with being a hero then they just should have told that story ending with his sacrifice, instead of doing all this other side stuff with Batman, Wonder Woman, etc.

 

 

 

In the end while messy, I actually think Batman v. Superman  is enjoyable. I’m actually going to say the most recent comparison in terms of comic book films would be Amazing Spider-Man 2. So if you liked that film you’ll probably like Bvs. If you didn’t you probably wont, and if you thought it was okay (as I did) you’ll… well, you get the picture. A lot is shoehorned into this film making it feel busy and cramped. It’s not the second coming of hero films like I think a lot of people were expecting, but I also think a lot of people (especially critics) wanted to go in hating this film or certain aspects of this film. If you do that, really with any movie, you’re going to hate it. It defiantly is a film to go in to with few expectations and I think you’ll be pleasantly surprised. There are some really, really good moments in this film that shine through. It’s not comparably bad to films like Catwoman, Batman & Robin, Green Lantern, or last summer’s Fantastic Four. But it’s obviously no The Dark Knight or Avengers either. It’s obvious that, despite what they’ve said, WB/DC feels the pressure from Marvel/Disney and wants to catch up. The problem is they tried to fit what Marvel’s done in seven years, across countless movies and show in two movies over the past three years.  I think that the feedback from this movie will result in a few changes in how the future of the DC Cinematic Universe is handled, and hopefully for the best. If  BvS ends up being kind of the bottom film out of it all… I actually think I’ll be comfortable with that.

 

 

Now, if you’ll excuse me… I have a different DC film I’m actually really anxious for to come out in a few months…

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WB films/ DC Comics

Hey everyone! Sorry for the major lag in posts. Life has been hella crazy the past few months since Dracula (the latest production I was in) has ended. But I wanted to take a moment and just kind of reflect on this past year as a whole.
It’s really cliche to look back on the previous year and say something akin to “man, it’s been a rollercoaster!” It’s also never been a very appropriate analogy in my eyes either. Rollercoasters are fun. This past year was more like standing in line for said rollercoaster.
You see the rollercoaster, and you get really excited and run towards it only to see there is a really long line. So you get in the line and begin your wait. And you wait… and wait. Then you hear the person in front of you start to talk about the last episode of your favorite TV show and you nervously pipe in and then get a genuinely good conversation started and you’re happy. But then the conversation peeters off and you’re left standing there feeling a tad awkward and go back to just waiting in line. Then a voice comes over an intercom saying that there is a delay of some kind and the wait is even longer. You have the option of getting out of line and going to that “other” coaster, which is probably almost as fun but you REALLY want to ride THIS coaster. So you wait, and wait, and wait some more. And it starts getting hot, and a couple behind you is starting to make out and you’re just standing there rubbing your head because you’re starting to get hungry also because you missed breakfast before you came to the theme park and just b-lined it to this ride because you wanted to ride it so badly! Sigh. But then… after such a long wait… it moves. The line moves, and you look around unsure if you’re dreaming or if it’s for real. You step forward, scared that you’ll be reprimanded somehow by seizing this opportunity of advancing yourself. Nothing happens though and you take a few more steps forward until you’ve caught up to the line again. Your heart is beating fast because you are close to the stairs that lead up to the loading platform of the coaster! You’re almost there; the wait is almost over and you’ll be latched in and on your way to 60 seconds of 50mph bliss! But now that couple behind you has caught up again and are up to their old smooch-anigans again and you’re standing near the garbage can. You feel that angst building up again inside but soon enough the line moves again and you can take your first step up that flight of stairs towards the platform! DEAR GOD, it’s (almost) so close! You can even hear the operator now saying “all clear” before the ride takes off. You can’t shake the grin on your face even though you know that it’s still a ways away before you’re seated AND you still have choices to make ahead- like will you go for the front row, and wait a little longer or risk getting a back seat ride? You don’t know, and you don’t care because you’re just that much closer and you want to be on this ride!
So, yeah. That’s how I feel. This year has had a lot of truly amazing moments and experiences but also a lot of… stagnant moments as well, for lack of better word at the moment. I know, I know- that’s life. I get it, that’s the way it’s always been. But my point isn’t to complain and whine but to be thankful for the adventure 2015 has been. I have met and made some amazing new friends this year and have also had an opportunity to strengthen relationships with people. I’ve worked on some incredible projects and productions, and know that it’s only the start. There has also been turmoil, heartbreak, and low points. But, as I’ve stated before, that’s going to happen. I’ve been able to get through it though, with the help of my family and friends (both new and old.)
As I look forward to 2016 I’m sure there are a lot more obstacles to overcome for everyone. I’m trying not to stress it though. I’m moving to the city and starting a whole new chapter in my life and stepping one step closer to that platform. I thank all of my friends and family for their love and support this past year.

When I started this blog I intended on it being nothing more than a place where I can review and discuss films, plays, and books- mainly those of a horror persuasion. Obviously it has evolved in to a little more than that, but still it has been built on that basic cornerstone.

As I was going through some of my past posts though I couldn’t help but notice… there is only one [horror] book review, for Let’s Go Play at the Adams’. And the review, if you notice, isn’t super positive. Now Let’s Go Play was a book that was not just recommended to me by several acquaintances but was on pretty much every “must read” list for those wanting a terrifying story. Yet when I read it… at no point was I terrified. I’ve been thinking about that a lot lately on top of the fact that I haven’t written any other horror book reviews. It isn’t for lack of reading any. I’ve read Chuck Palahniuk’s Haunted, Ray Bradbury’s  Something Wicked This Way Comes and several others and it’s not that I didn’t enjoy any of these books (on the contrary many of them are very well written and gripping in their own right) it’s just that they aren’t scary and I want to write reviews about books that really put me on edge- books I’d gladly recommend to others who are constantly on a search for stories that chill you to the bone. I have spent hours on the internet looking up horror novel/story recommendations and reviews in search for those tales that keep me up late at night, both because they have me in their clutches and because I’m afraid to turn out the lights. But for some reason… it’s really hard to find such books.

Now before any of you go and crucify me I understand that good horror is actually not that hard to find. All you really have to do is go to the library isle that is marked F – Kin, and walk only a few feet in. At the same time though horror really is difficult to accomplish through literature, I feel and I think that boils down to two main reasons: 1.) it’s hard to sustain suspenseful/terrifying tension in literature and 2.) horror is subjective.

For reason #1 – Some of the best horror I have ever read are short[er] stories. The Hellbound HeartPsycho, any of Poe’s work, most Lovecraft, tons of works put in to anthologies of horror, and (not even joking on this) Goosebumps and Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark. There is obviously plenty of good longer horror stories, once again- look back to the master, King. But even some of his best work is short stories/novellas.

The kind of strain and tension created by horror is hard enough to sustain with visual images (be it film, or theater), but I think it’s even harder to an extent with literature/words. Yes, the imagination is sometimes worse than reality or pictures but to initially be able to tap in to the imagination of your audience in the first place I think is a struggle. Then to hold their attention is a whole other issue. That was one of my biggest complaints with Haunted. Palahniuk wrote an amazing first chapter (Guts) which, while not scary, really had me reeling because of how I was able to picture it in my mind. But after that chapter the book just became a bore because he never was able to match the magic he worked in that initial chapter. And you are a straight up liar if you think classics like Dracula don’t have the same problem. They’re classics, and yes- Dracula does have some scary moment, but it is a bear to get through. Same with Frankenstein, which is actually one of my top five books.

If you can hook your audience and keep them on the line for an entire novel… that’s a feat. That’s why I think shorter works work better sometimes with horror. You hook your audience, and then proverbially release them soon after (although, the best stories never truly “leave” us do they?)

Now, for reason #2- Horror is subjective. What scares you may not be the same thing that scares me. Let’s Go Play is a prime example. Rape, to me, is not scary. It is a horrific act that is evil, but it’s not scary. I believe that it is a super cheap way to get under the audience’s skin. But plenty of people have read this book and love it and said that it really messed with them and was one of the scariest books they ever read.

Another issue is that the way you picture something the author is describing may not be the same way I picture something. With film, theater, or even comic books/graphic novels- it’s all laid out. You see the image they want you to see, and it’s in the open.  But in a book the author has to paint that picture for the audience and sometimes it’s very specific (ala King,) sometimes it’s left more to the imagination, and other times it sits right in the middle.  Horror is a mixture of describing the scene/atmosphere, the emotions, and the ultimate horror the characters are facing. That’s a lot of factors the author has to mesh together. And with horror being such an unstable craft it’s hard to get all those factors right. Now I’m not saying that ALL of them need to be spot on, but that general mixture needs to be at least somewhat solid for the terror to resonate with your audience. A lot of times, in longer texts, authors start off really well or eventually get to a nice spot where all the factors come together… but at some point it just kind of fizzles and the author tends to pull focus on only one of the elements, and forgets to give the others some attention. House, by Frank Peretti and Ted Dekker is actually a book I think combines all of these elements well. Say what you want about Christian horror but this book, I think, combines a great atmosphere, with some great horror moments, and some real emotions. This formula is also why I think Pet Semetery is one of Stephen King’s greatest works. He crafted an absolutely heart wrenching story about a family losing their child, and then built out the atmosphere and some of the most horrific moments I have ever read. Some of the latter parts of that book still stain my mind with imagery that makes me shutter. I read that book about three years ago, and it was the last book I’ve read that really ever scared me to the point that I had to stop reading it for a length of time.

While there is plenty of good horror in the world of literature, both short and long, I believe that it’s a hard craft to crack. Also, ultimately you have to be the own judge of what scares you. I’ve read many a recommended stories that people have claimed to be “real shockers” only to read them and have my psyche unscathed by the encounter. Obviously I won’t stop taking recommendations, and if any of you readers have some out there (that I haven’t ready (which there is plenty I haven’t listed)) go ahead and post them and I’ll give them a read!

I really would like to start doing more horror lit reviews, which maybe I’ll just have to start doing reviews on short stories and from time to time do some novels- should I find one I think is scary enough. But until then I’ll remain on the lookout, for that elusive book that I hope will be so scary… that I have to force myself to finish it. That’s the kind of horror novel I want.

Southpaw was honestly the first dramatic film of the year that I was really looking forward to. I’m a sucker for stories such as these, and with some great talent behind it I was  anxious to see it. On Monday I had gotten an email from AMC Stubs for a free ticket to see an advanced screening last night, so I jumped at the opportunity!

The story follows undefeated boxer Billy Hope (Gyllenhaal). Undefeated that is until his anger gets the best of him and, during the middle of a brawl (outside of the ring,) a rival boxer’s body guard shoots and kills his wife (McAdams.) This drives Hope to an extreme depression, and in the midst of his sorrow the rest of his life begins to crumble around him (you know what they say about glass houses…)
Hope’s daughter is taken away from him by child services (a system that Hope himself was raised in,) and Hope is completely abandoned by most of his “friends.” It’s up to him, with help of  trainer Tick Wills (Whitaker) to pick himself back up from the bottom and become the man he truly needs to be in and outside of the ring.

If the story sounds similar or redundant to past boxing films… that’s because it really kind of is. It’s a story we’ve seen many times before about how a champion becomes an underdog through various happenstances, and then has to rise back to the top to defeat his demons. What sets Southpaw apart from other films like it is how brutal and unflinching it is in terms of emotional and physical brutality. The drama and emotions are truly present within the actors, and the fights are some of the most intense I’ve seen in a while on film.  Seriously, I think the last time that I’ve ever flinched at an onscreen punch was during Bane and Batman’s fight in The Dark Knight Rises. Every single punch is heard and felt by the audience when watching this film.

The emotional connection is really there as well. Gyllenhall not only physically owns this role (I mean… jeeze, just look at him) but he taps into the charter’s feelings the way I’ve come to expect him to be able to do. This character takes us on a ride unlike anything you’d see in a Rocky film. There are moments of this film that you will hate Billy Hope, but obviously there is going to be a redemption point where you start cheering for him again. It’s truly his performance that raises this film above others like it.

McAdam’s does a great job of portraying a worried wife, who really wants her husband to give up the sport while he still can (I.E not “punchdrunk” or worse,) and young Oona Laurence does a phenomenal job as Hope’s daughter who goes through the same roller coaster of love, hate, and love for her father as the audience does. 

As great as this film is there are some finer plot points that I wish had either been elaborated or finished better. One being Tick Wills’ obvious drinking problem. It seems to have no purpose only than to set up a single laugh in the film. From the moment we’re introduced to him he’s very against swearing and drinking (which is not explained at all, but then later he’s revealed to be a Godly man… which I feel would should have been out in the open once we met him and would have explained things better.) But then all of a sudden he’s drinking, like, a lot. It’s a trait never explained, and there isn’t any consequence to this like there is with the characters in the 2011 film Warrior. I felt like it was supposed to, in some way, tie in to a kid’s death later on in the film, and whom Tick feels responsible for- but it never is connected. Also, the kid’s death just felt off, and there was seemingly no consequence to it being done.

And speaking of no consequence… it seems like there are an awful lot of people who knew that Ramone’s bodyguard Hector is the one that killed Billy’s wife. I mean, Billy even finds out where this guy lives. Why is this guys NEVER arrested? Why did nobody ever turn this guy in? Billy’s bodyguard got arrested. This is probably the most infuriating thing that happened in the whole film that was never explained in any way. I was really hoping that, by the end of the film, Ramone or someone from his team would have ousted this guy.

Even with it’s small, somewhat nonsensical flaws Southpaw is a pretty weighty underdog story with some splendid acting and really hardcore fight scenes, It’s a brutal and emotional film, with some real heart backing it up. If you’re in to inspirational stories like Rocky, The Fighter, and Warrior then Southpaw is a film for you.

Southpaw is rated R for language throughout, and some violence

“That scene actually works not because of me but in spite of me. And that really is the marker and definition of working with a truly good director.”

-Troy Baker on the opening scene from The Last of Us. 

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There is something truly great about working with a director who understands and appreciates the craft of acting. Now, really, every director should have some knowledge and respect for acting otherwise… what’s the point? Why are you wanting to direct a show or film? You’re using actors (albeit most of the time, not always) to tell your story.  You’re using actors to convey emotions and connect with the audience, you should care about how they are doing that. I’m not saying this because actors are the end all to the entertainment industry, God no. There are so many different parts in TV, film, theatre, radio, etc. that are just as important. Acting is only one part of those machines. But the director/actor relationship is, in my opinion, of the most key parts of  performance of any medium.

I’m currently working on the production side of a film and this past week I’ve had the chance to watch our director, Estlin Fiegley, work with his actors on set. Every time I see him working with his actors it brings a smile to my face and gives me goosebumps. He walks through the scenes with the actors and legitimately cares about their motivation and relationships. Countless times he’s talked about how the only thing he really cares about is getting the performance he wants on screen. And to see him working with his actors, several of them quite young, to get the performances he wants is inspiring.

I’ve been blessed in the fact that many of the directors I’ve worked with really know how to work with actors. They have worked with me, pushed me, and tested my abilities . Not every actor is that fortunate. These kinds of directors are invaluable to actors, because they’re going to be the directors that help you grow as an artist. They’re going to be the ones that, when you do something right, you’ll take that with you for all time, and when you do something wrong… well, you’ll remember that too. Not that there can’t be discovery with other types of directors as well, but the good directors will be the ones that teach you things and give you experiences that will stick with you forever.

As an actor, it’s important that from every experience, no matter if it’s good or bad, you make the most of it, You have a job to do and an obligation to the production. The phrase “make lemon aid out of lemons”  is something I’m sure many of us hear on a weekly basis (… or is that just me?) For all the wonderful director’s I’ve had I have also worked with several who seem to want nothing to do with actors, or avoid me like the plague. Even if you have a director that isn’t that great at working with actors know that it is still a learning experience for you. That is a chance for you to step up to the plate and really take charge of your performance and the role. Not that you can’t do that anyway with a facilitating director, but it is more of a challenge when you strictly have to rely on yourself. Also realize that your fellow cast members probably feel the same way you do. Work with them- you cast is your biggest asset as a performer next to your director.

Working with directors who genuinely care about what they are capturing on stage/film/etc. is a feeling that is indescribable. You know that you’re a part of something that means something to them, and that they are putting everything they have in to that project and in to you as well. You feel empowered and supported. It really is a unique type of collaboration through dialogue that can make for some of the most memorable and powerful moments ever captured or created.

“All hail the underdogs,
All hail the new kids,
All hail the outlaws,
Spielbergs and Kubricks.”

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This past week has been crazy. It’s been one of the most chaotic, jumbled, clustery weeks I have ever experienced… and I wouldn’t trade it for anything.

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I’ve been blessed with the opportunity to work as an assistant producer for Dreaming Tree Films, a Chicago based film production company, on their next feature film which we begin shooting next week. The movie in question being Traveling Without Moving, a scifi story about two sisters searching for their parents, who have been trapped in another world

I’ve been working with DTF for the past three weeks now, with last week being the final week of pre-production. Each week gets more intense than the last, and that is to be expected. But Dreaming Tree has more than just the “normal” stresses of preparing to shoot a film. You see, this also marks the beginning of their Fresh Film’s program as well- a program that takes teens and gives them an opportunity to work alongside us as we make this movie.

I know I keep saying it but this really has been crazy. I mean, I’ve only worked on small projects in the past (technically this is still “small,” as it is an low budget feature) but this is a whole new world for me. This is my first time ever working on something  with this many moving parts. I feel lost a lot of the time, and overwhelmed. But then I look around me and I know that I’m not the only one. It’s a comfort, it really is. We all understand the burden of learning and getting through all these new things and stresses because we want this to not only be a damn good movie, but a great experience for these kids coming in. FIMG_0851[1]rom the get go, during a production meeting where everyone introduced themselves, you can tell that every single person on this production team was passionate about this project- which I believe is the only way people should ever go into a project.

My thoughts on all of it are still jumbled, and it all feels very surreal. I know I’m in for a trip the next two months, but that’s about all I know what to expect. The team we have is awesome, and while there have already been some stressing points I think that once production actually begins everything will fall in to place.

I love how everyone seems to love what they’re doing on this project, and that everyone is willing to help, teach, as well as learn on the team. There is so much I don’t know about film production, but there is always someone there to lend a helping hand and help coach me through what I need to know. It always seems like a lot, but like with anything the more exposure you have with something the better you’ll be able to learn.

It’s also nice to know that the team is willing to bond and hang out as well. Last Thursday one of my favorite moments was being able to just hang out after work was finished that day and just throw a football around. Anybody who knows me knows that July 2nd is not one of my most favorite days of the year, and that day waIMG_0853[1]s also really frantic for all of us on the production as we were scrambling looking for food donations (Dreaming Tree is a 501(3)c and the proceeds from this film are going to charity so… donations are awesome!) as well as makeup artists. It was a long end to a long week for us. Then the producer just offered to everyone to go outside after we were done for the day and throw the ball around. It… was soothing. It just shut everything off and was really relaxing. And on top of all of that we all talked more with one another and found out about each other.

I just don’t know what else to say. I’m thrilled to be a part of this team, and this experience. I don’t necessarily know what to expect. I have so many worries, but I have way more expectations of what I’m going to accomplish during this production and how this is going to help me. I’m finally taking a big step forward into the direction of a field I want to be a part of. I know I’m going to learn so much during this project and that excites me. It’s going to be crazy, and have a lot of ups and downs… that’s really any production, be it theatre or film, that you’re ever going to be a part of. The important part is always how you handle those ups and downs, and what you take away from them. I hope to take a lot away from this experience.

lot of my paleontology friends/colleagues will roll their eyes as soon as they see this, so sorry. But by now I’m fairly certain it’s obvious to anybody who knows me that I’m super excited for Jurassic World to come out.  And part of the reason  has to be the marketing.

Today it’s fairly rare to have a super extensive marketing strategy for upcoming films. It happens, but not like it did in the 90’s. Between ’92 and ’94 Universal just dropped $62 million on marketing for Jurassic Park. That’s because besides a few other movies around then it was the only MAJOR film Universal was releasing. Film companies were able to just focus on one film each year in the 90’s. Nowadays companies have several big films coming out each year and they can’t afford to compete with themselves. So seeing Universal taking the time to really promote JW makes me extremely happy.

It’s actually really nostalgic to go in to stores and see the amount of promotional material. Posters, toys, bedding and clothes, party supplies, and food. Even Dairy Queen is having a JW promotion in June with the Jurassic Smash Blizzard. All of it really harkens back to the 90’s when the first two films came out. The promotion for JP and TLW seemed as big as the dinosaurs themselves. You hardly ever saw the same t-shirt twice. Burger King had TLW and McDonald’s had JP. Arcade games, board games, and home platform games. And the toys, GOD, the toys. Then there was Jurassic Park The Ride and Jurassic Park at Islands of Adventure which garnished their own promotions, the latter of which being graced with an entirely new toyline of classic JP toy repaints.

While there was promotion for JP3, it was nowhere near the extent of the first two films. And then, as we all know it went quiet for 20 years. When JP:3D was released and we saw a little bit of the classic marketing come back. A few standees, a BK promotion, and some new toys. For a rerelease that’s quite a bit, but obviously it wasn’t going to be anything big.

Then comes JW, and fans have been pretty damn lucky with the amount of merch we’ve been getting. A new arcade game,  food products (which so far include four different WalMart pizzas, three different Mike and Ikes candies, peeps, fruit snacks, Pringles, Dairy Queen, movie theatre popcorn buckets and cups,) toys from Hasbro (albiet kind of so so in quality,) bedding, other household items, books, games, a Barbosol partnership, clothes, and some really bad ass displays at stores and cinemas. Oh, AND a plethora of TV spots, clips, and trailers. On top of all of that JW has a pretty extensive viral marketing campaign- spanning over two websites, Masrani Global, and Jurassic World’s official site (which acts as if it’s a real place!) Seriously, this viral marketing has to be some of the most extensive that I’ve seen since The Dark Knight back in 2008.

With Universal have several major films coming out this year (some already) including Furious 7, Minions, and *gag* even Fifty Shades of Grey, I say that they’ve actually gone above and beyond with the marketing on Jurassic World. Everything about the marketing, and seemingly even the film itself, brings back that feeling I and I’m sure many others had in the 90’s seeing JP and TLW stuff in stores. It’s cliche but it really does bring back that inner kid. I love going to stores and seeing kids excitedly talk to their parents about the JW merch they see. It’s almost the same feeling I get seeing kid in museums. Knowing the effect JP had on me as a child, I can only imagine the future filmmakers and scientists that JW may impact.

I saw this film last Thursday, so sorry this has taken so long for me to post. My mind has JUST NOW stopped racing about it!

Action is a genre I have a love hate relationship for. It seems as though for every film that comes out there are about six more that are utter crap. And I’m talking traditional action, not mixed genres. Furious 7 upon further reflection left me with a bitter sweet taste for action films. While I did, and still really enjoy the film overall (especially for the ending,) when I started to think about it a few days after seeing it I actually realized exactly how much sexism was in the film. Now, objectification of women happens in ALL the Furious films, but it seemed to be REALLY pushed on the viewers in F7 and that made me think twice about not only how much I liked that film, but how much such things happen in action films in general. Think about it: action is a genre typically aimed at male audiences, and what do [a majority] or men like in their action films? Violence and women.

With actions films being so successful, why would anybody attempt to break that mold? Well, because it’s old and it needs to be broken. Action films can star strong female leads now, and the films can be more than just mindless violence. They can actually, gasp, have character growth and a story. ALL of this is present in Mad Max: Fury Road. 

Now, I’ll admit- when I saw the first trailer for this film I wasn’t sure I even wanted to see it in the cinema. I already had Furious 7 on my list of mindless action films for the year and wasn’t sure I wanted another one. But then the film started to gain some major buzz the weeks leading up to it’s release. So I decided, what the hell- I’ll go and see it. I had little expectations for what I’d be in store for. What I did expect was a two hour ‘splosion filled romp through a post apocalyptic wasteland. While that’s mainly what the viewers of Fury Road will get there is so much more that goes on with our characters.

We open on Max, who’s alone (as always.) He’s a man troubled by his past and not quite “all there.” He’s quickly picked up by  a gang of “War Boys” who follow the orders of the tyrant Immortan Joe who rules over The Citadel. Joe is a god, of sorts, to his people. Many worship him, while those who hate him stay silent. That is except for one. Imperator Furiosa is tried of Joe and his sadistic leadership. Along with restricting his people’s water supply and other resources, he has kidnapped many women over the years and uses them for his personal breeding purposes. His newest batch has had enough and wants to be freed. So Furiosa takes them in secret (while she’s supposed to be going for a fuel run) and plans to escape to her homeland where she was originally taken from as a child. She doesn’t get very far before Joe finds out exactly what has happened, and he sends a war party out after her. Max is now a War Boy’s blood bag, and has to be strapped to the hood of one of their cars. But through a series of events he manages to escape and hitches a ride with Furiosa and her “shipment.” While he starts out really not caring about what happens to Furiosa or any of the other women (as long as he’s able to escape) Max starts to form a bond with these women (and Nux, a War Boy who begins to understand how evil and untrustworthy Joe really is.) Can Max and Furiosa escape Joe and his horde, and at what cost?

6 Insane GIFs from the New 'Mad Max' Trailer

It may be weird to start off a pros list for an action film with how visually stunning it is, but DAMN- this film is BEAUTIFUL. Miller proves yet again that he can make a fantastic and visually pleasing action film. From the moment it started to when the credits rolled I was complacently consumed by this film and never taken out of it. The color palate is warm and chaotic, like a fireball engulfing you. Action is amped to utterly fantastical quality, and framed perfectly so that you never miss a moment of it in all it’s splendid glory. Obviously many of the moments in this film need a massive amount of suspension of disbelief, but is you kind of went in to a Mad Max film expecting realism then… well, you’re silly.

The action is also really well paced so that it revved up to get your heart pounding, but also will allow for ebb and flows so that some of the smaller action moments can happen. We have car chases but then on top of that you have gun gun battles, fist fights, and explosions. A lot of times in action films everything is framed of edited so that you’re really only focusing on one of those things happening. Not here. Every bit of action gets its moment in this film, ensuring that the viewer never misses a moment of any of it. It’s quite literally (and I know this is a cliche analogy) like being on a roller coaster.

I feel like the ebb and flow of the scenes is extremely complimented by the wonderful scoring done by Tom Holkenborg (aka Junkie XL.) It’s a super charged score befitting of such an action film that has super intense moment while also having very contrasting feeling moments that get you to feel more than just adrenaline. I have to say though, some of my favorite moments in the score go to this guy:

The acting is splendid. I mean first off you have Tom Hardy as Max, taking up the iconic role from Mel Gibson. Hardy does an amazing job, as always. He not only brings back the isolation of the character that we’re familiar with but also adds more heart than we’ve ever seen before. We can see more of what’s ticking in Max’s head than before, and over the course of the film Max actually gains empathy for other characters and realizes that maybe he doesn’t always have to be alone and that maybe there is a road to redemption. 

Then you have Charlize Theron’s Furiosa, who is honestly one of the most amazing action hero/heroines ever created in any kind of medium. She drives the soul of this film from start to finish. Her struggle to free Joe’s captive “wives” and return to her home pushes her forward, even when things are looking bleak. It’s her compassion, rage, and drive that hooks us. That and the fact that she can kick some major ass!  The fact that film actually focuses on Furiosa and less on Max has a lot of people talking. Miller brought us a new Ellen Ripley of sorts with Furiosa. . We’re ready for more characters like her in action films. And she isn’t the only female hero in this film. We get a whole fleet of them by the ending. It’s wonderful, and Miller proves to us that women aren’t

just eye candy or “help.” I can’t wait for more films from him that feature such strong female leads, and hopefully more directors will take notes from this as well.

The makeup effects and visual effects in Fury Road were flawless as well. While there are moments from time to time during the epic battles that you can see some CG manipulation, it seems to fit with the overall visual style I think. The makeup and costumes of all the characters on screen fit the desolate world around the characters. Be it to show how diseased, and decrepit the characters are, or to have an intimidation factor the costumes and makeup all have a purpose and feel organic. Same goes for all the sets and, probably most importantly, the vehicles. The vehicles are war machines seemingly designed for one reason- to kill (or, you know, to seriously maim. ) All of these elements fit together like some sort of demented jigsaw puzzle for the final product.

I have a few final notes on the film. Overall I was stunned by how the violence was handled. In a R-rated film, which contains almost nonstop violence and action throughout, most of the worst stuff happens off frame, or it’s somewhat out of focus. I could probably only count a handful of times in the whole film that I saw real bloodshed or dismemberment. It was all… very tasteful. Which seems really weird to say, especially in a world where many of the R rated action films have no qualms about showing disembowelment, or blood squirting wounds this film. It was a welcomed change, and I’m someone who doesn’t really mind that. It shows that you can have a really good action film without having to have obscene amounts of gore.

Probably my only qualm with the entire film is that out of the cast I only noted one character that was not Caucasian (that being Zoe Kravitz.) There was a real lack of racial diversity, and I’m not quite sure why that was… but it was kind of obvious.

Overall though Mad Max: Fury Road is a film that I HIGHLY recommend to anybody who loves a good action film.  While the movie defiantly gets the blood pumping and is unrelenting on the action throughout, it does allow for some genuine character development and growth. The violence, while not overly gory (with the exception of a few scenes) does get pretty intense at time. Visually stunning, well acted, and directed Fury Road is defiantly a film you should treat yourself to see on the big screen. Overall it is an action film that has re-written what it means to be an action film.

It’s here. It’s FINALLY here. The sequel we superhero junkies have been waiting for since that final shawarma scene. The sequel that comes after an amazing second phase of films. The sequel we hoped would wrap up some loose ends and give us some hint at what’s to come in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Avengers: Age of Ultron.

This film was in my top three most anticipated films of 2015, and I had no doubt in my mind that it was going to be awesome. Phase two has been fantastic as far as I’m concerned, with perhaps a few missteps along the way but nothing major. Phase two spans across two TV series, one Netflix Series, and four (so far) released films this was building up to be even bigger than the first Avengers film. And as a sequel to one of the most successful films in history… it rightfully should be. But could it live up to the hype? I’ll save you the suspense- yes, it can and it did I think for the most part. While not without faults Avengers: Age of Ultron was not only the best way to kick off of the Blockbuster season of 2015, but an overall satisfying semi-conclusion to phase two (semi-conclusive because we still have one film left to go technically.)

As always, spoilers ahead so… well, you were warned.

This film starts off with a bigger bang than Avengers and it fully keeps that momentum throughout. It centers on the fact that Stark has created, with the help of Loki’s scepter and the infinity gem (mind gem) inside of it, the ultimate AI- Ultron. Of course this is with the best intentions, which are to save and protect the human race. But Ultron can only see one way to peace- the extinction of the Avengers and ultimately the human race. I mean… it’s not like Nazi’s have been messing with Loki’s scepter or anything. Probably should have checked on that first. But anyway…

See, he's not an orphan! Oh, wait... wrong Quicksilver.Ultron enlists the help of Quicksilver and Scarlet-Witch, two mutants…erm, I mean two “enhanced” humans who have it in for Stark since his weapons made them orphans. But they soon realize Ultron’s plans to irradiate all human life and join the Avenger’s in stopping Ultron. But these heroes won’t be enough. No, a new hero has to be made, which is exactly what Stark does… even though that didn’t really work out the first time. It synthesizes a body for the Jarvis AI and out pops Vision. But will that be enough? Will the Avengers win!? …

Why is that even a question?

It’s all fast and furious, rough and tumble, and kind of jumbled throughout the film. But you get used to it and even through all the noise you’re still able to grasp the story that is spanning out in front of you. Whilst not to say that there aren’t any quieter moments in Age of Ultron they are scarcer than they were in the first Avengers film. I think that’s mainly due to the fact that director Joss Whedon feels comfortable with just picking up where everything left off in the films, and Agents of Shield (Age of Ultron picks up almost IMMEDIATELY after the events in this week’s episode of the critically acclaimed television series.) He doesn’t feel like he needs to backtrack and explain each character again because he knows the audience is there with him. It’s a blessing and a curse at the same time because while we don’t necessarily need to know about who Stark or Rogers are, or how Banner became the Hulk I feel like some details about newer characters are kind of glossed over.

In addition to the roster we know by now Whedon introduces two [kind of] new faces to the mix. We’re introduced to Quicksilver (Aaron Taylor Johnson) and Scarlet Witch (Elizabeth Olsen )- the Maximoff twins. Their origins are discussed in the film but I feel they are rather glossed over. Now… I totally understand why that is the way it is… *cough*Fox*cough*X-men*cough*. But still I would have liked a little more character development on these two.  They suffer from the same fate as Hawkeye in Avengers. Half the film they’re bad then by the time they’re on the good side we can’t backtrack at all because, well big action is happening. I’m sure that in the future they (or, well, at least one of them) will be more flushed out like they tried to do with Barton/Hawkeye in this film but it still feels like the characters were just kind of there for convenience. Still, they offered some really spectacular moments of action and wit- a great addition. Age of Ultron does a fantastic job of opening up the universe even wider than it already was, which is something that I think felt left out of the first Avengers film. In the first film the MCU was all self-contained to the characters that already had their solo films (or two in Iron Man’s case.) All we really got was Thanos at the end, and that was it. In Age of Ultron they do introduce new characters and heroes like the Maximoff’s, Vision, the official inclusion of Wakanda and Ulysses Klaw. Then, to top it off, we have Falcon and War Machine (yep, we’re back to War Machine again instead of Iron Patriot) as well as Thanos again in the end credits scene and all of the infinity gems are kind of explained and wrapped up by the end of the film- setting up the next phase/next two Avenger’s films perfectly.

I also do love what little is actually added on to the characters we already know. This mainly happens after Scarlet-Witch makes each Avenger see/”experience” their worst fears with her powers. Some of them have flashbacks, some of them see visions, and others just kind of… well, Hulk out. But that leads to character development later on where Banner still is gripping with the monster inside himself, and… well, the monster is gripping with Banner. We see more of Black Widow’s backstory, and she has the most gut wrenching story out of any of them. The scene in which she tells all to Banner is moving, as well as heartbreaking and Scarlett Johansson knocks it out of the park. We also learn a lot more about Hawkeye and see more of him in this film than we did in the first film.  It’s wonderful because while he’s not the only human on the team (even though the film kind of makes it seem that way) he might be the most human one on the team. He has a family, a home, and we see him get wounded in the field, badly. We’re feeling for him from start to finish. That kind of brings me to my next point as well though….

Really, I only have two major complaints about the film. One is I actually thought there was too much humor. A staple in all of the Marvel films is the use of wit and humor. But literally  it got to the point that nearly every other sentence in the film ended with a punchline of some kind, even in the really serious moments. The jokes really start to undermine the situation/stakes.

I also really don’t like how much time is spent on building up the red herring that Hawkeye is going to die. From nearly the beginning of the film to the end it plays off the fact that Hawkeye is human, and that he has this family who loves him, and that he actually can get hurt because he did early on. It reaaalllly lays it on thick and it was just too much and it got to the point that one of two things was going to happen: one- he was going to die, and it would no longer be a shock or two- someone was going to sacrifice themselves for him, and therefor THAT wouldn’t be a shock. Either moment should be incredibly powerful but knowing that one of the two of them was going to happen ruined it. And when Quicksilver does give his life, it is sad but I felt way more for Scarlet Witch losing her brother and seeing her anger and grief than I did over seeing Quicksilver dead. The fact that his death is kind of glossed over in the, and that there was ALSO a joke slapped on by a still somewhat wounded Hawkeye once he lays down next to Quicksilver’s dead body doesn’t improve matters. I actually think he isn’t dead, to be honest. I mean… they have this amazing machine that can repair cells like crazy and essentially build an entire body out of nothing. That mixed with his metabolism, probably excelled healing… I’m sure he’ll be up on his super sneakers in no time.

Also as kind of a minor nitpick, I also wasn’t quite sure why Falcon wasn’t joining the final fight. If he’s able to join the Avengers team at the end… why wasn’t he allowed to be in the Ultron fight? I mean we all heard him talk about that “missing person’s case…” but really, the end of the world seems a little more problematic than Captain Roger’s best ex-best friend.

Some final notes: James Spader is absolutely FANTASTIC as Ultron. Something that’s been kind of missing from phase two of the MCU is a good villain. While there is Hydra, and each solo film has had a villain none of them, I think, have been very good. They’re all fairly basic, and one dimensional. Not bad by any means, but not really original. Ultron was menacing as all hell, and while his plan wasn’t necessarily new by any means his story arch, overall technique, and dialogue in the film was. It was refreshing to see.

The Hulk vs. Hulkbuster Iron Man was AMAZING. There were film angles and shots that seemed a bit off to me but visually it was amazing through and through and it offered one of the best fights ever in a super hero film.

Overall this film was great. I honestly can say I don’t know if I’d rank it above Winter Soldier or Guardians, but it is an amazing movie and is not only fun but is thrilling and engaging all the way through. A few hiccups are present, with the story feeling jumbled due to simply the amount of characters present but it’s all rectified by the satisfying ending that is everything we ever hoped for in an Avengers sequel.