Friday, November 28, 2008

Classes On CD - $5 Off Sale!

Holiday Sale - Classes on Audio CD
I'm putting the audio CD version of my classes on sale - $5 off. This is the lowest price these CDs have ever been: $10 each.

High Concept Ideas, Writing Horror, Guerrilla Marketing Your Script - No Agent? No Problem, Writing Indies (about budget), Writing Thrillers (2 CDs, $20 on sale).

Sale runs from Black Friday to the end of the Holiday Season.

Here's a link to the page: Classes On CD On Sale!

- Bill

TODAY'S SCRIPT TIP: High Concept Ideas updadted with a list of high concept elements.
Yesterday’s Dinner: Turkey.

MOVIES: TRANSPORTER 3 - The TRANSPORTER movies are a guilty pleasure - produced by Luc Besson and co-written by Besson and KARATE KID's Robert Mark Kamen - so when it came time to vote for what movies my friends and I would see this weekend, TRANSPORTER 3 won over AUSTRALIA.

The first film was great junky action fun, ex Special Forces badass Frank Martin (Jason Statham) is the best driver in the entire world. He makes a living transporting contraband from one place to the other, no questions asked. In fact, Frank is a man who lives by rigid rules and never breaks them. He is so meticulous that he needs to know the exact weight of the packages he carries so that he can calibrate his Audi for perfect handling. Can’t be even an ounce off. In TRANSPORTER he breaks one of his rules, for good reason (the duffle bag they threw in the trunk of his car *speaks*), and that leads to all kinds of problems. The kind of problems where things blow up real good.

Though the script for that first TRANSPORTER wasn’t going to win any Oscars, the film has three things in the plus column that made up for it: One - freakin’ amazing car chases and car stunts, I believe by the same precision driving team that did RONIN and the first BOURNE movie. A movie about the world’s best driver needs the world’s greatest car chases and car stunts, and the film completely delivered. Two - absolutely fantastic fight scenes, stuff that rivals Jackie Chan movies in skill, wild-ass imagination and grace. When motor oil is used in an unusual way as a weapon in a fight scene about a car driver, you know the fight choreographer was thinking. Completely cool stuff. Three - Jason Statham. Who knew from his roles as a clever schemer in LOCK STOCK and SNATCH that he could play a badass so well. And it’s not just that he’s a true tough guy in a Hollywood filled with girly-men, he has attitude to spare. Part of Frank’s meticulous character are his perfectly pressed shirts and tailored suits that he seems to care about more that himself. He carefully hangs his coat up before kicking ass. Statham makes these films.


TRANSPORTER 2 had a more complex script and some real names in the cast. Martin has moved to Miami where he’s the driver-bodyguard for Matthew Modine’s son... in a story that seems inspired by MAN ON FIRE. Martin is accused of kidnaping and must get the kid back unharmed. Though they don’t focus much on his rules, the story is much better than the first film... except for some silly Gay subplot that has the French detective from the first film (François Berléand) living in Frank’s house and baking him cookies. Not that there’s anything wrong with that... but it’s kind of nipples on the Batsuit. With a better story and a better cast, you’d think TRANSPORTER 2 would be a better movie... but it’s not! It sucks! Why? Well, it’s a movie about a car driver who does kung fu fightin’, and that’s where it crashes and burns.

Instead of the great precision driving from the first film, we get impossible CGI car stuff that would seem cartoony and unrealistic in a Road Runner cartoon. There’s a scene where there’s a bomb attached to the bottom of the car, so Frank zooms the car into the sky, spins it upside down, managed to snag the bomb on the hook of a cargo crane and pull it off, spin back to wheels down by the time the car perfectly lands on the asphalt. Huh? And the car chase scenes and action scenes are all like that one! So TRANSPORTER 2 just sucked. Once you set the level of reality in your story, you can’t suddenly change it. The better script was *more real*, and that made the stunt stuff more fake. And, on movies like these, we aren’t paying for the great acting... we’re paying for the car stunts and fighting and great badass moments. Good acting and a good story make it a better movie, but we paid for the stunts... and they just sucked.


So, TRANSPORTER 3 could have gone either way. But someone must have been paying attention to the audience the last time around, because T3 is back to T1. In fact, maybe too far back. The great car stunts are back, the amazing and imaginative fight scenes are back... but the somewhat silly plot is also back. They mention Frank’s rules in passing, but don’t make a big deal about them and Frank never seems to care how much the package he’s delivering weighs. The story needs 2 more car chases, and gives us a love story instead. This brought out the 7 year old boy in me - no kissing! I don’t want to see kissing! I want to see fighting!

The great thing this time around is a bit of high concept swiped from some other movie - Frank and the girl each have an explosive bracelet around their wrists - if they get 25 feet away from the car, the bomb turns on, 50 feet away from the car and the bomb is set to go off... and 75 feet feet away from the car? Blam. Frank is blown to a zillion pieces in a massive fireball and explosion. So, it’s best not to leave the car. Though this leads to some great scenes - one where the car is stolen and Frank has to keep up with it and get it back, using a bicycle and anything else he can grab. But the director never shows us the danged bracelet in this chase - green you’re okay, yellow at 25 feet, orange at 50 feet, red at 75 feet before you blow up. I want to know how much trouble Frank is in from minute to minute! They come up with this great suspense “focus object” and then never focus on it! No shots of it!

And the plot is kind of silly - what is it with new action movies that the villain’s plans are just kind of dopey? At least in CASINO ROYALE the bad guy is manipulating the stock market to make more money by blowing up a prototype plane at the airport - a good action scene. In QUANTUM we have an evil villain building a dam to corner the water market... kind of. Exploding a prototype jumbo jumbo jet plane vs. building a dam? In TRANSPORTER 3 we have an evil villain who needs a government dude (Jeroen Krabbe) to sign a contract that will allow a US company to ship waste products to the Ukraine. Huh? This is right up there with that first STAR WARS prequel’s taxation plot. Just silly! You never think, “Frank can’t let them make him sign that agreement!” Though dealing with waste and other environmental issues are a big deal in real life, they don’t seem to have the kind of intense threat that makes for a good movie plot. In the case of TRANSPORTER 3, it ends up a movie about paperwork. But the car chases and fight scenes deliver - making it better than #2 but not as good as #1. And, um, I liked it more than QUANTUM. You know, T3 is still a junky action movie... with a stupid script and too much kissy stuff and almost no characterization... but some great drivin’ and great fightin’.

- Bill


Unknown said...

What's up dude. I'm from the DVXUser forum. I had to drop in on you after seeing you were a fan of the Transporter. I'm doing a film called "Divinity" (See the User films). I call it James Bond meets Transporter.

I love this series and it keeps coming. I want to see 3 but haven't yet. I still remember that original trailer. Dude uses his leading lady as a projectile weapon. Insane.


wcmartell said...

Cool. I'll check out your project.

- Bill

Fat Monster Films said...

I also found your blog from Adam's thread on DVXUSER. I've subscribed after reading a few posts.

Regarding Transporter 3, I'm open to guilty pleasures but I balk at the REALLY implausible stuff - no matter how cool (see, e.g., the fighter jet vs. truck scene in the last Die Hard flick. I mean, come on!). In Transporter 3 the scene with the car stolen was way over the top.

I also was surprised at the absence of any shots of the bracelet during this sequence as you commented. However, he was WAY WAY outta range to the point of ridiculousness. The chick couldn't even go to the bathroom at the gas station when she walked into the joint and yet the car peels out and through several streets while he's running through buildings and grabbing a bicycle????

While I'm ranting, the car jump onto a speeding train from a parked position on a bridge??? And driving across the top of the train to vault INTO the train???

I saw it with my 13-year old who buys almost EVERYTHING but even he was moaning at the utter unbelievability of those stunts. I guess he and I have to stop watching Mythbusters and forget about Newton's Laws at the cineplex.

wcmartell said...

I didn't have any trouble with the car to train sequence because it looked real (it was composites rather than CGI - which means a real car and real train were used) - and I have seen that actual stunt done for real with a motorcycle jumping onto the roof of a speeding train and landing in SUPERCOP. So it is completely possible - been done before on film - just this time was FX.

All of the car stuff was a million times more realistic than #2, and it's great to see the car on 2 wheel thing - which was done for real. Haven't seen that one in a film since the 70s.

- Bill

Grant said...

I actually liked the cartoony-ness of Transporter 2. It's probably my favorite out of the series. I know what you mean about CGI car chases though. "Fast and the Furious:Tokyo Drift" was supposed to be all about the hip new trend of drifting, and then they CGI-ed friggin' everything! It's not like the guys on the drift circuit would have demanded a lot of money to do the real thing. They're not exactly making Tiger Woods pay. And it would have at least been something neat and new to see on film.

But there's hope. I read an interview somewhere with George Miller asking if Max Max 4 would use CGI if/when it gets made. He replied that blowing up a junky car that can pass for post-apocalyptic only costs $7000.

I don't expect much of a plot in the Transporter movies, but they could have at least had incriminating photos of the Minister of Whatever. I don't see why he didn't just call the Ukrainian Army or Police in to find his missing daughter. They didn't even have a line saying they'd kill her if he told anyone. Probably because it was supposed to be a surprise that she was the package. In my imaginary version of the Ukraine, where there are a little more grey areas in the law, if I were that minister... Well, I would have called in my own personal secret police, and started chopping the fingers off of those three sleazy businessmen until they called off the whole thing. Or water-boarded their wives and kids. But then there wouldn't be a movie.

wcmartell said...

I wish the TRANSPORTER 2 script had the TRANSPORTER (1) car action. So many movies would be better if they could frankenstein them...

- Bill

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