Assault on Precinct 13 Remake and Van Helsing: 2 script reviews showed up online tonight for 2 anticipated projects...

First up is a script review of the Assault on Precinct 13 remake that popped up over at IGN. Here's a clip...

As you might already know, both versions of Assault on Precinct 13 borrow the gist of the classic 1959 Western Rio Bravo where it's up to a handful of lawmen to protect a small jail from a gang of outlaws trying to bust out a killer. Rio Bravo is a straightforward oater reportedly produced as a reaction to High Noon. Director Howard Hawks even recycled its plot for El Dorado and Rio Lobo, his two subsequent shoot 'em-ups also starring John Wayne.

This remake of Assault on Precinct 13 uses the gimmick of Carpenter's version while ditching most of its other plot elements. All the characters' names are different as is the setting. Gone is the father/daughter subplot. This version's protagonist is darker and more experienced than Carpenter's hero. There's also a twist involving the villains but I won't reveal that.

The titular police precinct (now set in Cleveland instead of California) is located in a rundown neighborhood where outsiders fear to tread. It's a one-story, ugly little spud of a 1940s building marked for closure. After an extended prologue, the story begins on New Year's Eve where everything short of a nuclear blast is used to make sure the skeleton crew at Precinct 13 remain helpless and isolated, including a massive snowstorm, cut power and phone lines, blocked radio frequencies, and the holiday itself.

CLICK HERE for the entire review. Thanks to 'Stax'

Second up is a review of the Van Helsing script which was posted to UGO...

You're not alone if you first assumed, upon seeing the trailer for Van Helsing, that it is probably based on a comic book. What collectors and readers of comics already know is that this movie isn't based on anything... at least not directly; and that's almost a shame, because if this had been an adaptation of some comic property, it would be a lot easier to swallow just how familiar and almost repetitive a lot of the story really is. As an original screenplay, Van Helsing is rather uninspired. The concept is a familiar one, slightly displaced: Van Helsing is essentially an assassin working for the Roman Church. The idea is that the he and the holy men he works for protect mankind from various monsters and have done so since the dawn of time. Of course, most of the world doesn't even know it's happening. It's a not-so-subtle variation of Men in Black or Hellboy. As the story progresses, Van Helsing travels to Transylvania to protect and aide a princess, the last remaining soul of her family who must survive long enough to vanquish the evil Count Dracula, who rules over the land. Of course, there's also werewolves to contend with, and the Frankenstein monster, and Dracula's vampire brides, because for some reason Sommers decided to use them all. At this point the story becomes very reminiscent of films like Blade and Underworld (which got enough flack as it is for borrowing so many ideas that have appeared in other properties). The script is also chalk full of elements from just about every other superhero and monster film that has ever been successful, often mirroring them a little too closely (i.e. the "my life... my job... my curse" line you've probably heard in the trailers - where have we heard that before?)

What does work, conceptually, is the characters and the way they are used, particularly the relationships they have to each other. Sommers has created a solid, if not entirely original, character with Van Helsing. He's not a super-hero, per-se, and he is venerable even while kicking ass. Van Helsing doesn't know who he is, and has no memory of his past, other than the assurance from Rome that he is meant to fight evil, a task for which he's provided with a lot of very cool weapons. Sommers has thrown a lot of characters into this story, but most of them do serve a purpose, and many of them somehow connect, so that at least the Wolf Man is somebody relevant to the story, and the Frankenstein monster does play a different role than just being another monster for our hero to fight. Dracula is the real villain of the film, without a doubt. There are a few too many secondary characters running around, though. Van Helsing has his own sidekick, inserted for comic relief, as does Dracula. In addition to providing some comic relief, none of which is all that clever or original, they also quite transparently (and often painfully) provide much of the exposition. Van Helsing's sidekick is a Friar, sent to keep him supplied with weapons and ammo and more importantly to explain to us, the audience, what the rules of this world are, what everything does; and to verbalize how our heroes interpret new information as the plot unfolds. Sommers needs to be sure we understand what's happening, and that we understand that the characters understand as well. It's a typically embarrassing dumbing-down of an already simplistic story. There are no real twists or surprises, because we can see just about everything coming based on these little pieces of dialogue that explain the importance of certain plot points. The characters may as well turn and wink at the camera. Hell, Sommers even specifies in several places in the script that there should be a particular note of music to signal to us that something sinister is about to happen. These would be very helpful and necessary story-telling techniques, if we were all 14 years old and hadn't seen more than a half a dozen films in our lifetime.

CLICK HERE for the entire review.

Brian B.