a pro script reader ponders movies, reading, writing and the occasional personal flashback

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

The Dark Knight/Pineapple Express

So I took a half-day off on Sunday, and went out with the wife to catch these two movies.

Nothing like taking a break from plot, plot, plot, to experience more plot.

But both movies are happily extremely satisfying, and I'm not going to go into a long explanation of why here; I have work to do.

But I'd like to focus in on one aspect that works well, and that's fleshing out the villains.

It's always a dilemma for writers about how to handle the villain's backstory. Sometimes no explanation can leave a bad guy feeling too cryptic, while too much explanation can feel like it is erasing too many of the shadows that should be there.

So I had mixed feelings when the Joker tells his story about the smile being carved into his face, because it seemed like it was a too-easy way to set up why he went bad.

But then, he tells the story to a different character -- and it's a completely different story.

Brilliant. Because it hammers home the sense that something messed-up caused him to be that way, but now we're not sure what it was -- Door #1, Door #2, or Door #3, which we can only imagine.

It's acknowledging that there is a dark backstory, but not revealing it. Perfect.

In Pineapple Express, they take a different route, humanizing the villains, by giving them quirks that help flesh them out and make them human and almost likable. One guy just wants to get home to have dinner with his wife.

Then, when the script actually goes in the direction of killing some of these characters off -- while keeping the overall tone funny -- it's an interesting, fresh effect.

Don't stint on the villains.


My last weekend numbers were way off, likely because I was over-impressed by the opening Wednesday numbers, and because the Olympic coverage gave the box office a big hit.

(Go Michael Phelps go).

Pineapple Express did a solid $23.2, though, and the Traveling Pants girls did an okay $10.7 million.


At 2:57 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I thought the DK's entire plot was designed by a couple smarty-pants who kept leading me down a path and everytime I assumed I knew what they were gonna do- bang!- they slipped the capret from underneath me.

It was a fresh, original script

At 6:08 PM, Blogger E.C. Henry said...

Scott, I absolutely LOVED "The Dark Knight." Best Act II of ANY movie this year. I never really annalysed Joker's inner workings. The way your mind works is like some hyper-complex rubix cube. Has anyone figured it out yet?

I just enjoyed how the screenwriters like totally reinvented the Joker from the 1989 "Batman" movie. Going into this film I NEVER THOUGHT this film's Joker would be able to hold a candle to Jack Nickolson's masterpiece. But shucky darns, I do believe Heath and the Nolan brothers pulled it off!

Haven't seen "Pineapple Express," but given your endorsment I can't wait. Seahawks this Saturday night, "Pineapple Express" late matinee on Sunday. I know it's only pre-season football, but I'm Jonesing for some NFL action. Wish the Packers would have traded Farve to Seattle, as Matt Hassleback's back is acting up...

- E.C. Henry from Bonney Lake, WA

At 7:23 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

In some comic (I can't remember which) the Joker once said of his past that he remembered it different each time, but "if I'm going to have a past -- I'd rather have multiple choice."

Love that they picked up on that for this movie.


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