Friday, July 18, 2008

Supermax: Blue Sky Script Review...


Since a major movie about a DC Comics super-hero comes out today, I think this is an appropriate post...

So I'm coming back from a nice jog along the shore and smelling the salty air as I walk up to Blue Sky Headquarters when I start to open the door and notice a package lying on the front step with the bold letter: "TOP SECRET" on it. Well, it really didn't have those letters on it, but I thought it sounded better than just a plain brown envelope... so I open it up and low and behold...

A FEW HOURS LATER...

Ok guys, everyone seemed to enjoy my "The 5 Best Scripts Hollywood Never Made" so I thought I'd let you guys in on another hot property out there...

"Supermax"

Those of you that are in the know in Tinsel Town will know what that is. Fellow Comic Book Geeks will raise an eyebrow when I say that name as well. It's not a film that is going to be made by the Mouse. It's not even a film yet... it is a hotly talked about spec script that David Goyer(Batman Begins) came up with the idea for. He then got screenwriter Justin Marks to pen the script. Many people have been after it for a while now...

Blue Sky Disney has it.

All right, Honor. What is it? In a nutshell, it could be described as a story in which Green Arrow is put into a maximum security prison with a rouge's gallery of criminals. Those of you that don't know GA, well he's a mid-level Super Hero at DC Comics... not as popular or dark as the Dark Knight, not as universally known or as light as the Man of Steel. Essentially where Batman is a darker, right-wing vigilante millionaire that fights crime, Green Arrow is a lighter, left-wing vigilante millionaire that fights crime. Some will disagree, but that's a very quick analogy to get those that are clueless up to speed on SUPERHERO 101.

I've always collected comics and I'm an endless example of being raised on pop culture... when it comes to comics, I love them all, but those that fight the wars will understand I'm a DC guy, not a Marvel guy. Not that I don't like Marvel. I do, but my heart will always belong to the absolutes of Batman and Superman. I watched the old 60's show in syndication as a kid and have read everything I can remember about the caped crusader. I love how Bruce Timm showed how relevant the DC Universe is to today's stories... for a while it looked like Marvel would dominate the world of super heroes with its much better campaign of adaptions. That is of course, before Ari Avad began screwing up the adaptions and went from a comic book geek's Super-Hero to Super-Villain in a matter of years causing Marvel to start its own production company to retain more control of their properties. Marvel's first two at bats were out of the park. Now DC is trying to get many of their list of underwear-clad crime fighters up on the silver screen. Green Arrow is not the most known, but he is one of their rather interesting heroes. So it would be interesting to see how they portrayed him. How he entered the world of live action films...

Now, onto the script...

First off, the full title is "Green Arrow: Escape From Supermax" and second of all THERE WILL BE SPOILERS... read at your own peril.

The story starts with several military figures being assassinated on a night by a mysterious figure that looks remarkably like Green Arrow... but the difference is GA doesn't kill. Across town(Star City) Oliver Queen(Green Arrow) is at a gala dinner to receive an award when he gets wind of what's happening. He excuses himself and dawns his green outfit. Arriving at the scene of the crime he finds a dead general with a green arrow protruding from him. Realizing he's been set up he makes a run from the police. He doesn't get far and before you know it he's sent to trial. Queen figures he's been set up by a corrupt businessman named Cross, who has been trying to get hold of Queen's company. All this happens in the first fifteen or so pages. It all happens so quickly you feel that it's somewhat forced. I know the point is to get him in prison, but I would have preferred a few more pages of set-up. A rigged trial soon follows and Queen is sent to a maximum security prison he has no reason being sent to... unless of course, it was set up so that he could be taken out. Get the picture?

Queen is sent to Supermax, a maximum security prison(think, Alcatraz for Super-Villains) ran by an organization known as CHECKMATE, a sort of quasi-big brother corporate/governmental organization. The majority of the prisoners inside this facility are super powered criminals known as "Metahumans"... what we'd refer to as "Mutants" in the Marvel Universe. When Queen arrives he's greeted, stripped of everything, put into a colored jumpsuit and assigned a cell and number to be referred to. The Warden of the facility, a tough minded African-American woman named Waller sets the rules for him and others. It essentially all plays out kind of like "Shawshank Redemption", but doesn't have the emotional appeal of that film. Along the way he meets up with several inmates that he is able to get along with(SPLIT, a teleporter) and several others you know he's going to have run-ins with(Blockbuster, a behemoth).

Like any other prison break film, Queen has his spirit broken, since he's a rebel and the warden wants to make an example of him. Being as he's a pretty good escape artist they punish him with solitary confinement. While there he meets a man named Hartley... how does he meet him in solitary confinement? Well, Hartley is a man that has the ability to control lesser beings minds. So when he greets Queen he communicates through ants. Ants craw into his cell and spell out the words Hartley wants to say. Together he and Queen plot a way out of the prison. Not only so that Queen can get justice and clear his name, but so that the world can see the abuses that go on inside this seemingly inescapable prison out in some unknown sea.

Along the way, Hartley and Queen get the help of a character named Djinn that has the ability to transfer himself into an electronic virus, Gemini, a shape-shifter very much like Mystique in the X-Men. All while this is going on, a new inmate is brought to Supermax. Merlyn, a sort of rival archer to the Green Arrow that has really been sent in to kill Queen so that he's no longer a problem to Cross and others in the outside world. Merlyn really is there for a very short time and doesn't add as much to the story as he should have. About the most compelling thing about Merlyn is his desire to be the number one archer... even if it's being a bad guy that's the number one archer. We find that Merlyn was the one dressed as Green Arrow earlier framing Queen.

To make a long story short, they escape. Some of them don't make it, others wind up going that weren't expected(Blockbuster). They find out that the super-prison out by the sea isn't really what it appeared and isn't anywhere they expected. A chase ensues with Checkmate combat soldiers rolling across icy tundra in snow tanks, cycles and other vehicles after Queen and the escapees. Most don't survive the assault and eventually Queen, Gemini and a character known as Mahkent, who is essentially an Ice-Man type villain, escape in a cargo hold back to Star City.

Once back the script plays the "Fugitive" angle with Queen being a marked man on the run, looking for ways to find out how Cross framed him. Eventually, Queen realizes that Cross isn't the only person responsible for him being framed. It turns out someone close to him was responsible for the set-up. A final confrontation occurs when Queen confronts the real culprit responsible for his imprisonment in a penthouse apartment that leads to a battle on the rooftop with police helicopters swirling around and shots peppered all across the rooftop. The story tends to go by the book from then on. A couple smaller twists unfold as we head for the finale which brings Cross, Waller and the person close to Queen to justice...

Supermax isn't really a super-hero movie masquerading as a prison break, but instead a prison break movie masquerading as a super-hero movie. The script is well written, there's really no "Six Sense" style twist at the end. It is good, but it doesn't seem too high above the ordinary. If it were to get the right director and casting attached it could rise above average to something memorable. Some choices for directors would be Paul Greengrass(highly unlikely) to Timur Bekmambetov(who would be perfect for a vehicle like this). This script kind of reminds me of something along the lines of Marvel's "Blade"(but still not as good) which was a cool, fun comic book actioner featuring an interesting character that most people not into comics wouldn't know about. I just don't feel we got to know Oliver Queen as much as we should. To care for someone you have to be invested in them emotionally and although I liked him... I didn't love him. And I wanted to.

I've heard that this script is stuck in development hell at the moment... perhaps Goyer should take that time to polish it up. Not to make a bad script good, but to make a good one better. My biggest complaint is that it follows the traditional formula for this type of film and doesn't offer anything we haven't seen before. Perhaps more of a focus on what happens inside the prison and the characters Queen comes in contact with could change this normal script into one that is super...

5 comments:

aracuanbird said...

I too have always been a "DC guy." And I've always had a conflicted sense about Green Arrow. On one hand, he can be a really well defined character (depending on who is handling him). On the other, he's often used as "just a character," particularly when he's used in an ensemble piece like JLA. Lacking the superpowers and not being Batman usually means Ollie is treated as some caricature of himself, off spewing garbage and getting in Hawkman's face.

This Supermax treatment--plopping our B-team hero into a powderkeg scenario--may be what is needed to get a Green Arrow book off the ground. But Green Arrow can stand alone. I felt Kevin Smith's reboot was well handled (though I was disappointed with the way the opening arc wrapped itself up. How cool would it have been if Ollie had opted to stay in Heaven rather than return to his "husk"...he could have mentored his corporeal self, sort of like Jiminy Cricket.)

Of course, I would love Supermax If DC opted to take the route Marvel seems to be heading, stitching their movie properties into one cohesive universe. And this could be a travelogue thru that world, giving us an Ollie-view perspective of how a world with a Superman, a Batman, and lord knows what other characters could possibly make sense.

That'd rock!

AB

http://www.plausible-impossible.com

Art Tifact said...

Hope they make this. Green Arrow is one of my favorite comic characters.

Anonymous said...

Wait a minute. You live by the ocean? You lucky bastard!

Honor Hunter said...

Sorry, but Blue Sky Disney's headquarters are in an undisclosed location so I can neither confirm nor deny that question...

Hehe.

Anonymous said...

This sounds like an alright SEQUEL to a Green Arrow movie.