Have you seen the film (The Grey) starring Liam Neeson? Yes, the very same guy that has starred in award winning films like Schindler’s List…. Well let’s unpack this film a little from the writing side…
In this film (The Grey) Liam plays a rather unlikely hero who leads a disfunctional band of men in the survival of a plane crash. Not only do they have to survive the wounds from the crash as well as the Alaskan wilderness; they also find themselves hunted by a pack of wolves.
Snippet of irony: I’m literally writing this from a plane on my way to Alaska. How funny is that?! Anyways…
Now that you have a brief reminder of what this film was about, maybe you can remember some of the horrid writing and storytelling. Here are the signs this film showed of a bad screenwriter.
1. Use words where needed not everywhere.
As expected this film begins with quite an amazing plane crash sequence followed by an insane frenzy of survivors running about. Of course, who could really have a clear head after such a traumatic experience? However our writer decided to fill nearly every scene following the crash as they looked for survivors, debated what to do, etc etc with dialogue (pointless dialogue at that see point 2). There were countless moments where the cinematography and score (without dialogue mind you) would have told the story (I feel) much more effectively, emotionally, and artistically… So yes, you’re a writer, we get it, but this is a film – there’s an image and sound too. Which brings me to my next point on dialogue…
2. Is your vocabulary too small?
Ok, yes, I would certainly expect a moderate amount of profane language to be coming from the scene of plane crash… especially as people start to gather their heads, begin analyzing how hopeless their situation really is, and trying to figure out what to do…. Yet most likely, I would expect people to be in shock, probably to the point of no words really at all; and if they did have things to say, I feel most would revolve around screams, hollers for help, “are you ok?” and “what we should do next?” This film spends the the better part of a half hour after the plane crash not saying much more than brief childish complaints from these men, complaints that consist of not much more than, “F*** this! We’re gonna die out here!” it’s a relentless barrage of whiny, obnoxious, and sometimes completely crude phrases from immature men with a vocabulary that doesn’t stray far from four letter words. I mean, the dialogue was truly hopeless, a lack of vocabularly if you ask me, and quite frankly, probably a reflection of the writer’s personality himself. And thinking back to my first point, many of these scenes would have been more meaningful, frightening, and artistic if words of any kind weren’t present at all. Let the filmmaking tell the story….
3. An actual story with a purpose.
(Spoiler Alert) I can give you the entire story arch of this film in 5.5 bullet points:
(1) Plane crashes. (2) A few survive. (3) Wolves attack. (4) Wolves pick em off one by one. (5) One man “survives”. (5.5) And there’s this mysterious poem throughout the film to make it “artsy?” Really?! Is that storytelling? I guess the story goes somewhere…. But we never knew WHY! There was never a purpose, never a goal (other than to survive and even that was mostly pointless).
4. Give us something to root for.
Without understanding the WHY behind a film we are left never knowing what to really root for or why we should be rooting for them. This film not only leaves the viewer without a purpose, the characters themselves seem to be hopeless men without anything to live for either. In fact, one man completely gives up and our main character nearly commits suicide at the beginning of the film. Despair is written all over this film and it never really let’s up, minus one glimmer of hope with the thought that each of these men do have something they love, something that they would be willing to fight for.
Maybe I will give the film the benefit of the doubt: After all, we all have that one thing we love that we would be willing to fight for. Don’t we? But again, is that really enough to revive this flat-line of a film? One that has not much more going for it than pretty cinematography and suspense?
I’ll let you decide…… These are simply my own views and each of our lives, circumstances, and experiences will, without question, bias our opinions. So with that said, hopefully you will still lend a willing ear and I would enjoy a good conversation to follow in the comments below.
(PS: The screenwriter might not be the only person to blame, but the writing bothered me the most. So there’s that….)Posted // in // Thoughts // No Comments