Mission: Impossible Scripts

Once an acclaimed CBS TV series, a quarter of a century would have to pass for Mission: Impossible to have its first feature film adaptation. It did so under the guidance of Brian DePalma and with a script that gathered top-notch names in screenwriting: Steven Zaillan, Robert Towne and David Koepp.

The film was criticized for focusing on ‘stylish’ action sequences in a way the original series didn’t, but the script still had a clever treatment of intrigue and mind games that resembled more the spirit of the show. Coupled with great performances by Tom Cruise and Jon Voigt, M:I was successful enough as to make Paramount consider the possibility of a sequel.

Despite an evident drop of quality in its second installment, young director and producer JJ Abrams managed to convince audiences and reviewers alike with the notable Mission:Impossible III. Brad Bird delivered a very entertaining flick with Ghost Protocol and then Christopher McQuarrie, perhaps one of the best American screenwriters of our time, returned a bit to the convoluted schemes of the first installment with Rogue Nation and, very recently, Fallout.

Tom Cruise has remained loyal to the saga all throughout, providing a very effective and charismatic driving force that has been paired with popular names in both the direction and writing departments. M:I is arguably the most successful espionage movie franchise altogether with James Bond, and a phenomenal proof that story quality can be retained through a long running commercial series.

(1996) Mission: Impossible

(2000) Mission: Impossible 2

(2006) Mission: Impossible 3

(2011) Mission: Impossible Ghost Protocol

(2015) Mission: Impossible Rogue Nation

(2018) Mission: Impossible Fallout

Best Spoof Scripts

Spoof films work in a similar way as pastiches do in other arts, with the exception that they try to mock other films rather than celebrating them. Ever since Chaplin created one of the most daring and influential satires in film history with The Great Dictator, these parodies have evolved and acquired an increasingly absurd tone – the goal is not so much producing a coherent plot as it is about helping our brains to switch off for a time and granting us good, unconcerned laughs in the process.

Mel Brooks found his voice as a comedian with celebrated spoof movies like The Producers, Blazing Saddles and Young Frankenstein. These films display a pretty clever absurdity, as they identify many of the typical tropes in western, horror, and other genres, and bring it to a territory where the audience is granted a new perspective on elements they are very familiar with.

Nobody defined the thin line between satire and parody as Vladimir Nabokov: “Satire is a lesson, parody is a game.” Most of the films often labeled as spoof make a habit of breaking the fourth wall, presenting the movie as an entity aware of itself and interacting with the audience in unexpected moments.

Many films in this genre have been accused of lacking focus and relying excessively on lowbrow humor, but still there are plenty examples of spoof scripts that have shown brilliant creativity and uniqueness in their humor, and have left quotes and gags whose hilarity has remained intact over the decades.

These are some of the best spoof/satire movie scripts:

(1940) The Great Dictator

(1948) Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein

(1967) The Producers

(1969) Support Your Local Sheriff

(1974) Monty Python and the Holy Grail

(1974) Blazing Saddles

(1974) Young Frankenstein

(1979) Life of Brian

(1980) Airplane!

(1984) This is Spinal Tap

(1984) Top Secret!

(1987) Spaceballs

(1991) Naked Gun 2 1/2: The Smell of Fear

(1991) Hot Shots!

(1999) Galaxy Quest

(2004) Team America: World Police

(2004) Shaun of the Dead

Alex Garland Move Scripts

Though he was born in London, he spent most of his teenage years travelling all around Europe and Asia, which served as inspiration for his first novel. The Beach became an instant phenomenon among young European readers, and was promptly adapted by popular British director Danny Boyle with Leonardo DiCaprio as the lead.

Garland, who was just 26 at the time he published his first novel, had plenty of artistic ambitions that didn’t confine themselves to literature. Shortly after his first collaboration with Boyle, he would start writing screenplays – the first of which, 28 Days Later, became a modern horror classic, and he would collaborate once again with Boyle for a notable incursion in science fiction with Sunshine.

Garland is one of the best examples of the influence of nerd culture in today’s art. His broad knowledge of fantasy, sci-fi, gaming, literature, and comic-books have paved the way for his very particular niche, working as a writer in both films and video games, and recently switching to the director’s chair with two acclaimed titles: Ex Machina and Annihilation. He is also an avid traveller, especially backpacking.

(2000) The Beach (based on a novel by)

(2002) 28 Days Later

(2003) Tesseract (based on a novel by)

(2007) Sunshine

(2010) Never Let Me Go

(2012) Dredd

(2014) Ex Machina

(2018) Annihilation

 

John Carpenter Film Scripts

When it comes to cult classics from the 80’s, leaving John Carpenter out of the conversation would almost equal to an artistic sin. Despite early struggles in the industry, Carpenter established his very particular personality as a filmmaker from the beginning with the sci-fi comedy Dark Star.

Turning low-budget projects into straightforward but delightfully enjoyable movies was one of Carpenter’s trademarks. Few other directors dominated the late 70’s and early 80’s commercially as he did, and though his streak was cut with the poorly received The Thing, it would eventually become a cult horror film.

Highly imaginative, Carpenter enjoys bringing a strong sense of humor into his stories. This playfulness has produced many films that often go over the top and do not take themselves too seriously (Escape from New York, They Live), though he has also proved his mastery at conveying horror and tension (The Fog, Vampires).

Carpenter is also known for frequently composing the music for his own films –another one of the elements that cemented his reputation as a multi-faceted artist and cult director.

(1974) Dark Star
(1976) Assault on Precinct 13
(1978) Halloween
(1980) The Fog
(1981) Escape From New York
(1981) Halloween 2
(1982) The Thing
(1983) Christine
(1984) Starman
(1986) Black Moon Rising
(1986) Big Trouble in Little China
(1987) Prince of Darkness
(1988) They Live
(1992) Memoirs of an Invisible Man
(1995) Village of the Damned
(1995) In the Mouth of Madness
(1996) Escape From L.A.
(1998) Vampires
(2001) Ghosts of Mars

Screenplay Adaptations of Foreign Language Films

As it happens with all kinds of adaptations, changing the elements of a story is risky, but it can also lead to very interesting results.

Adapting a movie into another language, market and setting is a practice more common in screenwriting than some suspect – and sadly, there are occasions in which the general audience never even learns that they are watching an adaptation from a foreign work.

Even some of the most reputed filmmakers have occasionally transitioned from creators to adaptators in this sense, as did Martin Scorsese when he adapted the 2002 Hong Kong film Internal Affairs into a brilliant script written by William Monahan (The Departed, 2006). Others, like Quentin Tarantino, have defined their careers by paying constant tribute to cinematic universes whose uniqueness and exoticness captivated them.

True enough, these adaptations are often turned into mere attempts of exploiting a formula – again, this is what seems to happen with other kinds of adaptations as well.

But we also have plenty of examples of filmmakers adapting a fellow director’s creation with respect and creativity enough as to produce something equally unique and memorable:

(1959) Some Like It Hot
(from the French film Fanfare d’amour)

(1960) The Magnificent Seven
(from Kurosawa’s Seven Samurai)

(1965) The Sound of Music
(from the German film Die Trapp-Familie)

(1992) Scent of a Woman
(from the Italian film Profumo di donna)

(1993) The Vanishing
(from the Dutch film Spoorloos)

(1994) True Lies
(from the French film La Totale!)

(1995) Twelve Monkeys
(from the French short film La Jetée)

(2002) Insomnia
(from the Norwegian film of the same title)

(2006) The Departed
(from the Hong Kong film Internal Affairs)

(2007) Funny Games
(from the German film of the same title)

(2010) Let Me In
(from the Swedish film Låt den rätte komma in)

(2012) Contraband
(from the Icelandic film Reykjavík-Rotterdam)

Best Remake Scripts

Can a remake actually surpass the original? In the seventh art, the question has been debated forever; and though some people may associate terms like ‘remake’ or ‘reboot’ to a contemporary sign of lack of creativity, truth is directors and screenwriters have been consistently adapting other films for decades.

As a matter of fact, many have retold their own stories. Hitchcock thought that his first The Man Who Knew Too Much was an amateurish work, so he changed the setting and some plot elements in his 1956 remake. And directors such as Michael Haneke (Funny Games) and Michael Mann (Heat) returned to their old scripts with bigger budgets and A-list casts.

Sometimes, necessities of international markets are the seed of these remakes: Kurosawa saw his work adapted several times in the American industry (The Magnificent Seven, A Fistful of Dollars).

In other instances, filmmakers feel curious about bringing their own vision and methods into a popular classic story, as Herzog did with Nosferatu, Cronenberg with The Fly, and the Coen brothers with True Grit.

There are plenty of examples of film remakes that have proved to be more than just a commercial gimmick.

Here are some of them:

 

(1956) The Man Who Knew Too Much

(1960) The Magnificent Seven

(1978) Invasion of the Body Snatchers

(1982) The Thing

(1983) Scarface

(1986) The Fly

(2001) Ocean’s Eleven

(2002) The Quiet American

(2002) Insomnia

(2004) Dawn of the Dead

(2005) Pride and Prejudice

(2006) The Departed

(2006) Casino Royale

(2007) 3:10 to Yuma

(2010) True Grit

Terminator Movie Scripts

James Cameron was once fired from the Piranha II shooting after failing to get a simple close up on one of the protagonists. Later on, a food intoxication-induced vision gave him the premise for one of the most acclaimed action blockbusters in the last decades.

Terminator daringly explored the fear of humanity becoming a slave of its own creations. And it did so with clever special effects, a terrifying villain (Schwarzenegger in his peak) and the unknown Linda Hamilton as the lead. It also set the first of many collaborations between Cameron and Gale Ann Hurd, Stan Winston, Michael Biehn, Bill Paxton and others.

The Canadian filmmaker learned some lessons to create one of those rare sequels that are arguably better than the original. Noticing the charisma of his own creation, he turned the villain into a hero and pushed technology to the limit to produce a truly spectacular film with some smart and effective dramatic notes.

Now a legendary franchise, the Terminator has become a bona fide pop culture icon and has spawned a total of 5 films, numerous video games and a brief TV show (The Chronicles of Sarah Connor). A 6th installment reuniting the original cast is expected to be released in 2019.

(1984) The Terminator

(1991) Terminator 2: Judgment Day

(2003) Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines

(2009) Terminator Salvation

(2015) Terminator Genisys

John Milius Film Scripts

 

John Milius is a true Hollywood legend; a rare screenwriter whose notoriety is due not only to his work, but his flamboyant, eccentric personality, which inspired the Coen Brothers to create the character of Walter in The Big Lebowski.

Milius’ story is an atypical one since the beginning. As a teenager, he was a mixture of a delinquent and an avid reader who at one point tried to enlist the Marines. Feeling devastated after his rejection, he decided to study film at the USC after discovering Kurosawa’s films. College would mark the beginning of a long friendship with George Lucas.

Like many other screenwriters, he had to write several low-profile screenplays before truly earning a reputation, a process in which his colourful personality proved to be more than helpful –he requested a gun as part of the payment for rewriting Dirty Harry, and claimed that the iconic “I love the smell of Napalm by the morning” line came to him in a dream. Robert Shaw’s famous Indianapolis speech in Jaws was also originally written by Milius.

There are endless anecdotes about this unique screenwriter who defines himself as a “Zen Anarchist” and a sort of Hollywood deviant. After serious financial difficulties in the early 2000’s, his career relived when he found a niche in TV screenwriting and co-created the HBO series Rome.  

List of John Milius Scripts:

(1971) Dirty Harry (uncredited)

(1972) Jeremiah Jonson

(1972) The Life and Times of Judge Roy Bean

(1973) Dillinger

(1973) Magnum Force

(1975) The Wind and the Lion

(1978) Big Wednesday

(1979) Apocalypse Now

(1979) 1941

(1982) Conan the Barbarian

(1984) Red Dawn

(1987) Extreme Prejudice (story)

(1989) Farewell to the King

(1991) Flight of the Intruder

(1994) Clear and Present Danger 

Top 10 World War 1 Film Scripts

Of all the armed conflicts that have shaken humanity, World War II has probably been the most extensively covered by the seventh art. However, before the whole world heard that second call to arms, the First Great War had been splashing the screens worldwide for a long time with epic tales of courage, honor, and tragedy.

Trying to spot differences between both conflicts, it’s easy to pinpoint the sense of stillness that defined WWI battles. Trench warfare was all about resistance and attrition, and some scripts (Paths of Glory, All Quiet on the Western Front) have wonderfully captured the exhausting, maddening stillness that often meant thousands of deaths in exchange for a few meters of territory.

In fact, arguably the most popular WWI heroes belong to the skies, where a new revolutionary form of battle was starting to take shape.

Daring producers, like Howard Hughes, exploited the drama and the showiness of the airborne conflict in titles such as Wings, Aces High, and The Blue Max.

Land-based heroes would also get their ticket to immortality, courtesy of film stars such as Gary Cooper (Sergeant York), Peter O’Toole (Lawrence of Arabia), and Mel Gibson (Galipolli).

In just a few months (November 2018), the end of the war will reach its 100th anniversary. And still today, modern filmmakers keep bringing us back to it; sometimes to replicate its brutality with today’s standards, sometimes to tell a new story of hope and glory in the midst of madness.

 

These are some of the most popular WWI film scripts:

(1932) Farewell To Arms

(1938) Dawn Patrol

(1941) Sergeant York

(1951) The African Queen

(1957) Paths of Glory

(1962) Lawrence of Arabia

(1971) Johnny Got his Gun

(1981) Gallipoli

(2004) A Very Long Engagement

(2011) War Horse

10 Great Film Scripts that were Panned by the Critics (Part 1)

Sometimes, the one thing a great film needs in order to be generally accepted as such is… time. Reviewers are certainly not infallible, and more often than not they fail at fully grasping the quality of a story that perhaps was a bit too experimental, controversial or simply ahead of its time.

Few will doubt now that Vertigo is one of Hitchcock’s finest, but its reception was mixed back then, with one reviewer stating that the director had “never before indulged in such farfetched nonsense”. The legendary Roger Ebert was far from impressed after his first view of Once Upon a Time in the West, and John Carpenter admitted that his confidence never recovered after the release of The Thing, today universally regarded as a horror cult classic.

While the reasons on why some films are so widely misunderstood are difficult to ascertain, the lessons to be learned are more reassuring: though the critics hold a great degree of influence over the popular opinion, it’s the audience who truly determines the legacy of a movie, and as filmmakers we have a responsibility of staying true to the story, and not to a trend or a convention.

Here’s a selection of 10 great film scripts that were poorly received back in their day:

(1955) The Night of the Hunter

(1958) Vertigo

(1967) Bonnie and Clyde

(1978) Halloween

(1980) The Shining

(1982) The Thing

(1983) Scarface

(1987) Predator

(1998) Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas

(1999) Fight Club