Every other week Jack Reda, The Script Doctor, tells the powers that be in Hollywood why they should listen to him. You decide if he's right.

Normally, the Script Doctor covers movies with great concepts but poor execution. This week, however, has three movies that almost did it right. They had me in their grip for most of the movie, but somewhere in the last reel they blew it.


A very nice, taut psychological kidnapping thriller, Ransom builds up a beautiful "you won't get the money no matter what" parley between Mel Gibson and Gary Sinise. Sinise's character is clever, resourceful, and determined, which perfectly explains why he decides to bump off his gang in the end, and play the hero cop. After all of Gibson's assurances that he will never pay the ransom, it would have been beautiful to let Sinise get away with the reward money. Instead, the filmmakers contrive a lame action set-piece where Gibson can shoot Sinise to death. Snore. This would have been a brilliant film with a different ending. They could have even let Gibson suspect in the end, and left us wondering "does he tell his wife he just gave the kidnapper 2 million dollars?".


This is one of the best portrayals of a comic-book hero's genesis. All of the "fantastical" elements of superhero origins are played out very realisitically and with a nice tension. The rules of this genre are well adhered to, until the end. After such a deliberate foundation, why does writer/director Shyamalan decide to let Bruce Willis' character kill the bad guy holding the family prisoner? Any fanboy worth his salt knows that as a rule of thumb comic-book good guys don't kill. That's what the bad guys do, and we don't sink to their level. Willis isn't even the kind of superhero born from a burning sense of revenge (like Batman), who has every reason in the world to kill bad guys. He's just some dude with super powers. He should have beat the shit outta the guy and left a note for the police. He can't really be treated like a hero when he's now wanted for manslaughter, can he?


After the somewhat disappointing third installment of the Alien franchise, you would think they'd work hard to get the fourth one right. They almost did. This chapter in the saga brings Ripley back from the dead, and does some interesting things with her character. The alien, on the other hand, gets the shaft. Here is a golden opportunity to dream up a new version of the alien, and what do we get? A whimpering Skeletor-looking thing with chicken legs. Dear God. From the scene where the abomination is born (where Brad Dourif gives a moronic monologue) the movie spirals off into toilet-town. The coolest thing about the Alien movies are the aliens. James Cameron knew this, which is why he packed his movie full of them. Leave it to the French to screw it up.

I shouldn't really blame the French... it's just that the scene where Leland Orser dies and gets J.E. Freeman killed at the same time played out very "French" to me. For a slick Sci-Fi Action film, French is not a good thing.

Jack Reda


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