Uprising

13Jul09

Today’s review brings back the dark angel of death himself, Tarson Meads. If you’re always complaining that Scriptshadow only reviews the fluffier fare, well then do I have a blog for you. Tarson not only likes the darkness. He thrives in it. Though I’ve never actually been inside, I’ve been told he redecorated his basement to look like the basement from Silence Of The Lambs. Anyway, if you enjoy Tarson’s dark sensibility, then head over to his blog afterwards and explore your inner evil. Here’s his review of Uprising by David Twohy, which sounds like something I’ll have to check out. I loved Pitch Black. The script is almost a perfect example of how to craft a sci-fi action screenplay. But man, that sequel was abysmal. And don’t get me started on “Below,” that weird submarine flick he directed. Talk about all over the place. Still, when David Twohy does sci-fi, I pay attention.

Genre: Sci-Fi/Action/Thriller
Premise: The story revolves around the resistance efforts of some citizens after Earth has been occupied by a powerful alien race.
About: Variety has confirmed that Wolfgang Petersen will be directing Uprising for Columbia Pictures, with Douglas Wick and Lucy Fisher producing through their Sony-based Red Wagon shingle. Like most scripts, this seems to have been rewritten quite a bit. Before Twohy was involved, William Broyles Jr. wrote a strong draft as well.
Writer: David Twohy

“Come on, men, who’s with me?”

David Twohy is a man I admire. He’s fantastic writer, and he certainly knows his way around a camera too. He’s responsible for the cult Sci-Fi/Actioner, Pitch Black, which spawned a movie sequel and two critically acclaimed video games, based on the adventures of Riddick, and funnily enough, was one of the writers hired for Waterworld. He’s had a diverse career, peppered with flops and successes, and he’s written everything from GI-Jane to Critters 2: The Main Course. So when Uprising arrived in my inbox with a chime, I was excited. After all, this was being pitched as “The Great Escape” with aliens. I mean, come on, that just spells cool with a capital “C.”

I’ll gladly confess I’m partial to the odd alien invasion story. I think there’s something that’s both fascinating and intriguing about them, almost on a primal level. It’s a universal theme. Everyone on earth can relate to it. It asks one of the biggest questions: are we alone? The idea of being invaded by forces far more advanced than us, has thrilled generations for over a century, and when you boil it all down, it’s just great entertainment. War of The Worlds might still resonate with today’s Facebook generation, but I’m waiting for the day when I read a solid script that tackles the UFO subject, without being campy, spoofish or prudish.

Anyway, on with the show.

Some of you may have noticed lately, there’s been an increasing trend, both in novels, comics and yes, even screenplays, which explore life on earth, post alien invasion. Anthony Peckham’s spec “No Man’s Land” was an honorable effort, even garnering some votes on 2007’s Black List, but since that script, there’s really been nothing of interest, or of significance in the alien invasion genre. At least not to my knowledge, screenplay wise.

That is until, Uprising.

I’m happy to report, the script is extremely good. Twohy just wipes the floor with this. He’s managed to not only write a compelling story, but do it with such imagination; it honestly makes me wonder why I bother trying to be a screenwriter, when this guy is just so good. Uprising clocks in at 136 pages. Now for the jaded reader out there, that’s bad news. But I can’t tell you how long it’s been where a script has grabbed me from start till finish. Some scripts take me days, even weeks to trawl through, but this was sheer entertainment.

The story takes place in and around a human POW camp, where a brutal alien race, called the Druuben, have conquered earth. There’s no military, no Government, just the Druuben. They now run earth, and it’s not a pretty sight. Those who are lucky enough to avoid the camps, dwell in complete squalor. There’s human life, but it’s the pits, man. Basic services are next to non-existent, and humanity is being forced to live the Druuben way. They are here to rebuild earth in their image. Kids are even being forced to learn the Druuben tongue.

It’s clear Twohy invested a lot of thought into designing the Druuben, and one of the things I loved about them, is that they’re not simply merciless overlords. They’ll indirectly bargain with humans, as long as it benefits their cause. Throughout the story, we catch glimpses of their social structure, their culture and their language, and it makes us hate them even more. It’s also clear; they’ve done this invading business many times before.

The Druuben themselves are only partially revealed to us in quick glimpses. Twohy teases us, and rightly so, because like our enslaved human brothers and sisters, we dare not look at them. Once revealed in full, the Druuben are shockingly grotesque and completely alien. For starters, they don’t have eyes. They see radio. That’s right, radio frequencies, which also explains how they were able to coordinate a global attack with such efficiency. It’s like organic range-finding. Moonless night? No problem. Snowstorm, heavy rain? Cut right through it. They might even have the ability to see with the back of their heads. They’re scanning and frequency hopping, tuning their built-in radio dial, finding the wavelength that will best resolve their target. No, just because they don’t have eyes, doesn’t mean they can’t see.

It’s the little things like this that make Uprising so much fun, and render the Druuben as truly terrifying oppressors.

Okay, so enough about aliens. What about our characters? What about the plot? This is after all, a screenplay, right?

So after the opening attack, we meet our hero Lieutenant J. Stevens, a US Naval officer. Twohy likes to write tough guys with attitude. Stevens oozes “action hero guy.” He’s not afraid to go head to head with the Druuben and risk his life. Not afraid to cut a deal with the Druuben, so us humans can have the right to bury our dead. And just like the title suggests, Stevens is responsible for initiating an underground movement inside the camp – an uprising. Under the cover of darkness, he develops a plan to not only escape, but play the one final card humanity has against the Druuben. What is it? You’ll have to read it to find out – but it’s something the Druuben suspect is out there. Something they may have missed. Something that could turn the tide. Something the Druuben fear.

Despite having recruited a small army, it’s not all roses for Stevens. There’s fighting, squabbling and politics inside the camp. Ex-military men, who have been entrusted by the Druuben to maintain order and run the camps, are out to keep their status. These men are also tasked with interfacing between humans and their new masters. Basically, there are a lot of people out to double-cross for their own benefits, and do anything to gain favour amongst the Druuben…

Okay, I’m going to stop right there.

Reason being: I want this to be as spoiler free as possible. This is a script you should read without knowing too much.

After finishing Uprising I was exhausted, not from the reading itself, but because it made me realize just how much further I have to go, on a personal level as a screenwriter. Sure, Uprising is far from perfect, but when it comes to sheer entertainment on a commercial level, this script tops the cake. It ticks all the boxes – intriguing, gripping, horrific and funny – just an enjoyable read. I must admit I’m not entirely stoked over the chosen director, but Wolfgang does have an uncanny ability to do things on an epic scale – and although the bulk of Uprising takes place in and around the same location, it’s also an alien invasion movie. They need to be epic. They need to be big, global, bold and in your face. I just hope to God they make this film, and I hope to God they don’t change too much from the draft I read. So if the weekly barrage of alien specs is making you yawn, do yourself a favour, read Uprising. I highly recommend it.

Script Link:Uprising

[ ] trash
[ ] barely kept my interest
[ ] worth the read
[x] impressive (almost genius)
[ ] genius

What I Learned: David Twohy rocks!

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34 Responses to “Uprising”

  1. 1 Anonymous

    I haven't read the script but already want to kill myself… had the same story in mind for my next script… Shit. What a great way to end my weekend. Thank you so much Twohy!!! I'll still read your script though, cause you freaking rock.

  2. 2 Anonymous

    I haven't read the script but already want to kill myself… had the same story in mind for my next script… Shit. What a great way to end my weekend. Thank you so much Twohy!!! I'll still read your script though, cause you freaking rock.

  3. 3 Anonymous

    Aronofsky wrote Below.

  4. 4 Anonymous

    Aronofsky wrote Below.

  5. 5 Carson Reeves

    I try not to destroy dreams but it happens sometimes. Anon, thanks. Fixed "Below".

  6. 6 Carson Reeves

    I try not to destroy dreams but it happens sometimes. Anon, thanks. Fixed "Below".

  7. 7 Anonymous

    Carson,

    I had a friend in developement at Red Wagon and read a draft of Uprising two years ago written by William Broyles Jr – which was pretty great. The premise hasn't changed, and I have yet to take a look at this draft. Before we go blowing Twohy, let it be known that he was not the first on board. And Bill got paid a shit-load of money.

  8. 8 Anonymous

    Carson,

    I had a friend in developement at Red Wagon and read a draft of Uprising two years ago written by William Broyles Jr – which was pretty great. The premise hasn't changed, and I have yet to take a look at this draft. Before we go blowing Twohy, let it be known that he was not the first on board. And Bill got paid a shit-load of money.

  9. 9 Carson Reeves

    I'll add it.

  10. 10 Carson Reeves

    I'll add it.

  11. 11 Anonymous

    i read Uprising and it really was that good am recent convert to script shadow and have loved a lot of the scripts you reviewed especially Everything must go and Salt could you get your hands on any William Monahan screenplays especially London Boulevard still great blog though

  12. 12 Anonymous

    i read Uprising and it really was that good am recent convert to script shadow and have loved a lot of the scripts you reviewed especially Everything must go and Salt could you get your hands on any William Monahan screenplays especially London Boulevard still great blog though

  13. 13 Julian

    Edge of Darkness could be good to review. No probs getting it either. It's an Exposition of darkness. Haha. Worth reading though.

  14. 14 Julian

    Edge of Darkness could be good to review. No probs getting it either. It's an Exposition of darkness. Haha. Worth reading though.

  15. 15 Dave

    Bout half way thru Uprising and I'm not really sure what all the praise is for??? Doesn't anyone remember the last time an ill-advised alien take-over movie was made?

    It was called Battlefield Earth and we all remember what a black day that was in cinema history. Scientology aside, Uprising doesn't seem to be much of an improvement. But, I will press on given that so many of you have given it such high marks.

    Maybe the second half will deliver…does it???

  16. 16 Dave

    Bout half way thru Uprising and I'm not really sure what all the praise is for??? Doesn't anyone remember the last time an ill-advised alien take-over movie was made?

    It was called Battlefield Earth and we all remember what a black day that was in cinema history. Scientology aside, Uprising doesn't seem to be much of an improvement. But, I will press on given that so many of you have given it such high marks.

    Maybe the second half will deliver…does it???

  17. 17 martinb

    It's got everything from The Great Escape, The Dirty Dozen, and any number of post-apocalypse movies, but I feel it needs to be boiled down a bit more — clarify the backstory, remove one or two characters and incidents, that sort of thing. Make Stevens' mission more urgent, more important, more understandable. And the alien technology was a little lame.

    For me, it's a "worth the read," no more.

  18. 18 martinb

    It's got everything from The Great Escape, The Dirty Dozen, and any number of post-apocalypse movies, but I feel it needs to be boiled down a bit more — clarify the backstory, remove one or two characters and incidents, that sort of thing. Make Stevens' mission more urgent, more important, more understandable. And the alien technology was a little lame.

    For me, it's a "worth the read," no more.

  19. 19 Craig Johns

    Darn it, I also had a great idea for a post alien invasion script, although mine would have been very different. Oh well, just shows that us spec writers need to be a decade ahead of everyone else unless we have tons of inside the industry intel on what sold and when.

    I'm still looking forward to reading Uprising.

  20. 20 Craig Johns

    Darn it, I also had a great idea for a post alien invasion script, although mine would have been very different. Oh well, just shows that us spec writers need to be a decade ahead of everyone else unless we have tons of inside the industry intel on what sold and when.

    I'm still looking forward to reading Uprising.

  21. 21 Carson Reeves

    Yeah, I have to admit that I thought of Battlefield Earth too during Tarson's review. That had to be the worst-directed movie in the universe.

  22. 22 Carson Reeves

    Yeah, I have to admit that I thought of Battlefield Earth too during Tarson's review. That had to be the worst-directed movie in the universe.

  23. 23 Anonymous

    Carson, shouldn't 500 Days of Summer and Last Night be coming off your top 25?

  24. 24 Anonymous

    Carson, shouldn't 500 Days of Summer and Last Night be coming off your top 25?

  25. 25 Carson Reeves

    Yeah, once they hit theaters. It will be very sad. 😦

  26. 26 Carson Reeves

    Yeah, once they hit theaters. It will be very sad. 😦

  27. 27 Ryan (Biohazard)

    You should make a ScriptShadow Hall of Fame section that lists all the scripts from your Top 25 that were made into actual films. Just a thought.

  28. 28 Ryan (Biohazard)

    You should make a ScriptShadow Hall of Fame section that lists all the scripts from your Top 25 that were made into actual films. Just a thought.

  29. 29 Steve Axelrod

    I was tragically bored. Sorry. It was all attitude and very little real story. Why make an alien invasion movie where the creatures have taken over the whole world, and set it in one crummy POW camp? It's like SIGNS, where MNight has the inspiration — "Let remake Independence Day, but set the whole movie in some hick's basement! That will be cool."

    Alas, no.

  30. 30 Steve Axelrod

    I was tragically bored. Sorry. It was all attitude and very little real story. Why make an alien invasion movie where the creatures have taken over the whole world, and set it in one crummy POW camp? It's like SIGNS, where MNight has the inspiration — "Let remake Independence Day, but set the whole movie in some hick's basement! That will be cool."

    Alas, no.

  31. 31 Aaron C

    I thought the script was interesting, but with a title like "Uprising" I was hoping for something more along the lines of "Defiance" instead of "The Great Escape."

    Also, I still think "Signs" would have been great if M. Night had the stones to not show the aliens at all. Once they were revealed in Mel's living room I was done with the film.

  32. 32 Aaron C

    I thought the script was interesting, but with a title like "Uprising" I was hoping for something more along the lines of "Defiance" instead of "The Great Escape."

    Also, I still think "Signs" would have been great if M. Night had the stones to not show the aliens at all. Once they were revealed in Mel's living room I was done with the film.

  33. 33 Anonymous

    Just read this and Fiasco Heights… I think Fiasco Heights was WAY better, WAY more original, and WAY more fun to read.

  34. 34 Anonymous

    Just read this and Fiasco Heights… I think Fiasco Heights was WAY better, WAY more original, and WAY more fun to read.


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