Dark Matter

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© 2018 by Dark Matter Media LLC

 
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Logline: Infected by a DNA-altering virus, two lovers develop bizarre superpowers and battle ruthless criminal mobs bent on harvesting the virus from their brains.

Dark Matter Review

 

Overall Impression:

Indigo Rising is a unique take on the reluctant super hero story.  The writing is solid (as well as being well edited) and there are several flashes of brilliance: a wildly creative source for and set of powers, a gentle love story between two equally matched protagonists and a certain joie de vivre for the subject matter that shines bright.  The plot, on the other hand, is a bit of a grind.  While the story has great bones, including a fully formed universe and a mature set of characters, Indigo Rising is a script in search of a story.

What We Found Most Effective:

Derek and Alessandra’s relationship hit home for us.  Way too often in superhero flicks, one character holds all the cards (usually the guy), and the love interest is just happy to be there – the proverbial “Bond Girl.”  Indigo Rising doesn’t shy away from quickly upgrading Alessandra to be Derek’s equal, and that decision paid off handsomely in terms of tension and emotion between the characters.

What We Found Least Effective
 

The antagonists in the story don’t work that well.  Not for an instant were we concerned that Derek and Alessandra were in real danger, wouldn’t win, or were even meaningfully challenged.  Clichéd as it may be, superheroes need supervillians.  Batman needs Joker.  Superman needs Zod.  The Avengers need Thanos.

Suggestions For Improvement:

Big Picture Suggestions

  • The rules for the god virus need to be clarified.  Both how the carrier is infected and passes it along, as well as what powers it grants.  At first, we understood that the carrier would need to be infected via experimental drug treatment.  Later, we understood that it acted more like a virus, but it was never clear to us how/when it could be passed along (any why it didn't spread more aggressively).  Similarly, the rules for the powers it grants were unclear.  We appreciate that this is an origin story, and the characters are learning as they go, but usually there’s a set of “movie-logical” rules that the audience can pick up on pretty quickly: e.g., spiderman gets the powers of a spider.

 

  • The plot structure goes something like: Derek gets powers, mobsters want powers, mobsters attack Derek, Derek (accidentally) gives powers to Alessandra, Derek and Alessandra defeat mobsters.  Of course we’re oversimplifying, but for as rich as the universe is and as cool as the idea of the god virus is, the plot feels underdeveloped.  We wanted more intrigue, more nuance, more suspense.

 

  • Perhaps Pembroke is the answer to our above plot suggestion.  The history and development of the god virus were both interesting elements, and we often felt like you had more backstory on these aspects that you chose to omit.  In his brief time on screen, Pembroke struck an evil-genius tone.  What if Derek and Alessandra were forced to battle with some fail-safe plan Pembroke had put in place to hedge against his own demise?  Now you'd immediately have a foe that is Derek's equal (Pembroke, after all, invented the virus, so he is essentially Derek's god), and one that can't be beaten (only his plan could be).  

Odds & Ends

  • Pg. 1. Interesting opening.  We can instantly tell we’re either going to hate Pembroke, or love him.  Either is good!

  • Pg. 4. Huh, Pembroke’s dead already.  We did not see that coming.

  • Pg. 8. A lot of characters have been introduced by name at this point: Pembroke, Derek, Norton (the cat), Baranov, Alessandra, Alicia, Milford, Detective Roberts, Mantell.  It’s certainly quite possible they’re all important enough to be named characters and they’re all appropriately introduced this early, but at this juncture our head is swimming a bit just trying to keep characters straight.  If they're not going to recur or otherwise play an important role, we would recommend against naming them.

  • Pg. 9. Would he be wearing PJs? Don’t know a lot of 24 year old men who wear them to sleep.  Just briefs, or briefs and a tee is the way to go.

  • Pg. 12. The Mrs. Pembroke drop in feels artificial/random.  We assume you’re setting up something for later in the script, but this just felt a little off.

  • Pg. 16. Could make for a good laugh if Derek came through naked.  We’ve always loved that scene in Terminator 2 when Arnold goes into the biker bar and says “I need your clothes, your boots and your motorcycle.”  We’re sure that would complicate Derek’s use of spirit-world-traveling later in the script, but complications are a good thing.

  • Pg. 18. Would Alessandra really be visibly drunk already?  Does she need to be for the scene to work?  Seems like you got the point across when she downed a Manhattan in a gulp.

  • Pg. 21. Derek’s dialogue entry is: “You’ve got all my superpowers!” There are two cornball factors going on here: 1) the line itself, 2) the plot development that Alessandra actually received Derek’s superpowers through… osmosis? Whatever the process, we’re struggling to keep disbelief suspended (even for what is shaping up as a superhero flick).  Alessandra didn’t even get bit by the proverbial spider (or, in this case, undergo the experimental drugs).  We aren’t sure how this is going to play out in the rest of the script yet, but at least consider confining the superpower to Derek or clarifying the process for exchange.

  • Pg. 23. Champagne and eggs Benedict is a darn cute way to end the meet cute.  Cheers.

  • Pg. 25. Right after Derek sees thoughts that lead him right to the bad guys in the nick of time to hear them explain their plans, Derek explains to Alessandra that: “The spirit world is like a dream.  You just know stuff, sometimes.”  Both of these developments seem a little too convenient/coincidental from a plotting perspective.  We want the goals to be difficult for the main characters.  We want them to face impossible odds, work hard and/or be very clever to solve their issues.  This is one of the reasons why the first entry in superhero movies is often the best – when the character is still learning their powers and struggling to control them, they feel vulnerable and beatable.  Once Iron Man, for example, is so advanced that his suit can auto-regenerate and anticipate his every need… it gets boring – who could beat him?  Does he really even need to try?  So play up Derek’s lack of understanding and make his job hard!

  • Pg. 27. We’re a little confused.  Does the carrier’s immune system kill of just the God virus, or the host (pun intended) as well?

  • Pg. 29.  Wow, we really did not see Alessandra’s pregnancy coming.  Nice twist!

  • Pg. 32-40. The extended sequence of Derek and Alessandra exploring and coming to grips with their superpowers is really fun.  Loved champagne and popcorn.  Loved the mind/spirit meld.  Chuckled as Derek and Alessandra begin toying with the mobsters. 

  • Pg. 46. This flashback is a little confusing.  Are they remembering past incarnations?

  • Pg. 51. So, the god virus allows those affected to teleport, and also to cause the teleportation of inorganic objects (e.g., a gun).  We like the notion of a virus altering DNA and creating a super-species.  It’s a cool idea, with a cool name “God virus” and there is a certain logic to it.  But we would draw different lines around what ability it gave those affected – specifically, only powers plausibly related to DNA alteration (super intelligence, maybe some telepathic abilities).  But when it gets too mystical, then the super power doesn’t seem as rationally related to the super-power source.  Spiderman gets spider powers.  Hulk gets strength.  Superman gets a bit of everything.  God virus just seems like it should get omnipotence… We don’t usually think of God as teleporting around.

  • Pg. 54. Carlo comes off a little hokey in this scene.

  • Pg. 68. If Derek kills someone in cold blood his superpowers vanish? The rules for the god virus powers seem arbitrary at times.

  • Pg. 74. Detective Martinez asks if Roberts is trying to trick him into thinking someone’s behind him (and Derek actually is).  The joke might payoff better if Roberts had actually used this trick earlier in the script.

  • Pg. 77. Typo. “She girl stands.”

  • Pg. 78. The “resets” that give Derek another life are cool, is there any way to defeat them?  What if you got shot in the head? Consider building in some sort of Achilles’ heel, otherwise we lose interest if the hero is invincible.

  • Pg. 87. The scene between Alessandra and Roberts had a nice, gentle touch.  Well done.

  • Pg. 93-95. While there are some cool uses of the Indigo power, the battle with the thugs over the maids doesn’t have much emotional buy-in.  We’ve just met the maids, and don’t particularly care what happens to them (other than a general desire not to see bad things happen to presumably innocent bystanders).  Would be great if this battle involved characters we were already invested in.

  • Pg. 97.  We enjoyed seeing Derek meet his alternate-universe-self.  Got us thinking about all the possibilities of that sort of storyline.

  • Pg. 99-103. This Oz twist feels really random.  We think something like this could work, but would need to be imbedded much earlier in the story.  It feels like the story just veers off on a tangent to address some existential issues.

  • Pg. 104. We’re struggling with the idea of politicians personally pleading for gangsters to get out of jail, and that it would lead a judge/prosecutor to release them.

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