Dark Matter

  Media

© 2018 by Dark Matter Media LLC

 
where creatives control
Screen Shot 2018-09-13 at 2.51.37 PM.png

Logline: After the only boy she’s loved falls into a mysterious coma, a teenage loner with the ability to venture through Gates into the afterlife races to reunite his spirit with his physical body before the corrupted spirit leader finds her out and takes her captive, as well.

Dark Matter Review

 

Overall Impression:

Gatewalker follows Alexandria “Lex” Lamb – a badass, teenage, female John Constantine – as she races to save her heartthrob Jason while grappling with her true identity (and powers), family history and the fate of her people.  With shades of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, but true to its unique vision, Gatewalker serves up some delicious teen drama, with a side of the supernatural.  We thoroughly enjoyed reading the adventure of this reluctant hero – this script deserves to be produced.

What We Found Most Effective:

 

Gatewalker scores well across our holy trinity of fantasy script writing: world building, system of magic and tight action sequences, but what sets Gatewalker apart is its pitch-perfect teen female protagonist.  We bought Lex’s attitude, embraced her Goth-girl phase antics, and enjoyed watching her relationship with Jason blossom.  Great character, great work with giving her a clear emotional goal and strong character development.

What We Found Least Effective

The antagonist’s motivation is kept under wraps until deep into Act III, and when it’s finally revealed, it’s a little thin.  While the primary villain’s (Gideon’s) motive is eventually explained, we were left with a number of unanswered questions about the Dark, the Wardens, the Gray City, the In-between and the Lost.

Suggestions For Improvement:

Big Picture Suggestions

 

  • We suggest preparing the audience for the Napoleon element earlier.  Don’t get us wrong, we really enjoyed the involvement of historic souls, and Napoleon in particular, but in the moment it comes out of nowhere.  It is a jarring transition to go from high school drama to Napoleon: head of the spiritual mafia.

  • Elias’s appearance feels like too convenient of a coincidence.  While his timely appearance is later explained, in the moment Elias appears, our immediate thought was “cue the grizzly outsider-turned-ally who has a secret.”  We think he is a necessary character, and Elias is generally well constructed, but we’d love to see him built more organically into the story.

  • In terms of world building, which is probably the hardest job in fantasy writing, the script give us a clear enough picture of what the spiritual world is and how it works.  The spiritual world is very rich in detail and wonderfully textured in its overall feel, but there is a nuts-and-bolts “what is this place” element missing.  For example, Is the spiritual world Judeo-Christian? Is it secular?  What are the rules, e.g., how do you end up in spiritual jail vs. in the Gray City vs. in the White Terrace? What makes a spirit “tainted”? You don’t have to answer every question, but you should leave the reader with the impression that all of these questions have answers.

 

Odds & Ends

 

  • Pg. 1-4. The script starts with great energy. We liked that the protagonist is immediately thrust into an important decision.

  • Pg. 7. Good, but not quite great, meet cute between Lex and Jason. We like that there is immediate tension between the two.  The super man jokes are a little corny (though we did like the juxtaposition of super man and Goth girl).

  • Pg. 11-12.  We’re wondering what Lex’s father looks like.  Great tension building with Lex and her father.  There is depth in this relationship that shines through.

  • Pg. 15. Typo. “The hot Texas son beats down…”

  • Pg. 17. Wow, we loved this choice by Lex.  Very interesting way to help cheer up Jason, and great way to introduce more of her backstory.

  • Pg. 18-21. This is nice writing, you packed the better part of a new mythology into 3 pages, all in a cute package of Lex’s play acting on stage.  Well done.

  • Pg. 29-32. The Man with Sunglasses comes off as somewhat clumsy.  Since this is our first glimpse of one of the antagonists, you’re best served by establishing him as a more formidable foe. Think about that first fight scene in Terminator 2 (also starting in a mall) when T-1000 first squares of with Terminator. T-1000 is immediately established as an efficient, nearly invincible killing machine.  For all of Terminator’s capabilities, he is hard pressed to merely survive, let alone protect John Connor.  Whereas, in Gatewalker, the Man in the Sunglasses runs when a good Samaritan pokes his head in.

  • Pg. 34. Excellent work setting Lex up for the fall (i.e., the date for the dance) and then letting her take it.  We’re pissed at Jason now, though we suspect he has a good reason, and we’re invested in wanting to see if he can explain it (and if Lex will buy it).

  • Pg. 36. While we might have liked to see Lex wallow in self pity over the dance for a little longer, you do a great job of yanking hard on her emotions yet again by putting Jason in the hospital (presumably due to a something/someone who was really searching for Lex).

  • Pg. 39. Okay, so this scene between Lex and her Grandmother, in our opinion, is the script’s Big Event (i.e., the catalyst that starts the hero on her journey and moves the script to Act II).  We are generally of the school that the Big Event should happen on or before page 15 (otherwise the main character – and hence the audience – is drifting without a tangible goal for too long).  Given the late placement of the Act break, you made a shrewd choice by starting the script out with Lex and Lucille facing the gate (you planted the immediate result of the big event on page 1), but we still read this scene between Lex and her Grandmother as the true end of Act I.  Notwithstanding the opening scene, we’d love to see you find a way to claw this forward 10-12 pages.  We acknowledge that you’d have to kill or drastically condense some good scenes to do so, but we think it’d be worth it.

  • Pg. 39-41. The in-between world is a bit confusing.  What exactly is the path between the worlds?  Is it a straight back/forth line (like a wormhole)?  A dimensional plane?  Something else?

  • Pg. 41-44. The inter-dimensional processing complex scene is reminiscent of Douglas Adams.  While we love Adams’ work, it doesn’t seem to fit the tone of the rest of the script, and we’re not sure it adds much.

  • Pg. 47. We know you touched on it once earlier, but we’re unclear on the Wardens’ precise role.  A further elaboration (or subtle reminder) might help the audience here.

 

  • Pg. 47-53. This is a deep and intricate world you’ve developed.  Nice work.  We’re brimming with questions about the different levels of the spiritual world, how/why you get to any of them, how/whether you can get out, etc.

  • Pg. 54. Gray World China Town.  Cool setting.

  • Pg. 56. Typo. “That perks Gideon’s interest…” it should be “piques Gideon’s…”

  • Pg. 57. What does “Souls of all time periods interact with each other” mean? Is this like Beethoven playing chess over a glass of wine with Cleopatra?  If so, we think it’d be more interesting to give a few examples.  E.g., instead of saying Lex hides as they pass, she could duck into the open air café and bus a few glasses off of Hemingway’s table.

  • Pg. 58. Typo. “Misseur Bonaparte” it should be “Monsieur”

  • Pg. 63. We missed the takeaway from the Lex/Elias interaction.  What was so shocking to Lex about Elias after he took his hood down?  If it’s supposed to be obvious, you may want to elaborate a little further.

  • Pg. 68-75. The Napoleon scene is a ton of fun, and a nice entry into the stretch run of Act II.  We’re still struggling to understand the motivation of the Wardens, and why Jason is in prison, but we enjoyed the heck out of your use of this historical figure.

  • Pg. 82. The concept of the “Dark” hasn’t been mentioned since page 13, when Lex’s dad explains that the Dark and Wardens are different.  We’ve seen things described as dark spirits, but we still don’t know what the Dark is.  The gap in this concept’s appearances is probably too long for the audience to stay properly engaged with it.

  • Pg. 89. Lex made a light sword, and saw other Gatewalkers using shield when she was 8, but back on pg. 56 she is amazed when she is able to create a shield.  It seems more likely that she knew all along that she had the ability.  Did she forget/block the memory?

  • Pg. 89. Okay, so what exactly is the Darkness? Is it humanoid? The devil? A demon? An amorphous shape? We think it needs better/more description.

  • Pg. 92. Typo. “The Darkness is respelled back.”

  • Pg. 98.  We like that you’re giving us a rationale for the antagonist, this is really important, and we think the rationale is a good one.  However, we’ve got two issues with how it’s playing out: 1) it would help build tension if you give us the antagonist's rationale much earlier (especially if it plants the seed of doubt with Lex that there’s a possibility that Gideon’s world view is correct) and 2) the way it unfolds has a “monologuing” vibe to it – as so hilariously lampooned by Syndrome in The Incredibles – and we wonder if there is a way to weave this into the script more organically.

  • Pg. 100. Typo. “She screams in frustrated.”

  • Pg. 102. At the moment Lex and Jason are reunites and she has full knowledge of making Gates, why can’t she take Jason home?

  • Pg. 105. In the last action entry on the bottom of the page where General Gideon grabs Jason, we’re not clear on exactly what happened.  Did they fall through the gate?  It’s a pivotal moment, and crucial that this action entry is clear.

  • Pg. 108. We enjoyed Gideon’s last stand (i.e., taking Jason’s body).

  • Pg. 112. Lex’s dialogue starting “Grandma. Don’t let him…” is too on-the-nose (and a tad corny). We suggest letting the audience infer those sentiments.

  • Black Facebook Icon
  • Black Twitter Icon