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Hey, everyone. "Moriarty" here with some Rumblings From The Lab.

I’m not exactly sure who Laeta Kalogridis is or what she looks like, but I’d like to take this opportunity to propose.

After reading both TOMB RAIDER and her strange, bold take on BRIDE OF FRANKENSTEIN, I’ve grown fascinated by her voice as a writer. She seems to specialize in action with a genuinely feminine edge, fulfilling a promise that Kathryn Bigelow once made to action fans. Bigelow’s action films always strike me as a woman trying to play what she perceives as a man’s game. With Kalogridis, that’s not the case. Her female leads are the center of her scripts, and it’s their very nature that sets the tone for everything we see, everything that happens. There have been very few women who have tried to establish a strong identity in the genre, and to see someone turning in several exciting projects in a row gives me hope. Action could use strong, specific new voices like this, male or female, new perspectives. It’s appropriate that the first two pieces I’ve read by her are both twists on classic genres and styles. It gave me a chance to see how she makes the familiar fresh, and it’s the strongest indicator of where she’s headed as a writer.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m not saying she’s a good writer just because she’s a woman. TOMB RAIDER is as good a piece of mainstream action writing as I’ve read in quite some time, with descriptions that pop off the page, action that pulls you through the thing, all of it hinging on character. Because there were other hands on the TOMB RAIDER script, I wasn’t sure how to judge the input of Kalogridis. Now that I’ve read the October 2000 draft of BRIDE OF FRANKENSTEIN, her fingerprints have become far more visible on the earlier piece. I think only Cameron has written stronger central action characters for female leads. Kalogridis seems to have a fairly sharp knowledge of genre. TOMB RAIDER manages to reproduce the kicks of a video game without sacrificing depth or a certain sophistication of storytelling. She paid closer attention to RAIDERS OF THE LOST ARK than Stephen Sommers did. She’s not writing camp. She definitely has a wicked sense of humor in the appropriate moments, but she’s most assuredly not writing camp. She means what she writes. The stakes are high for her characters, and they’re real. Lara Croft may be chasing a treasure, but she’s also chasing a sense of closure in regards to her lost father. The lead character in BRIDE OF FRANKENSTEIN, Lily Praetorius, goes through a horrific transformation, a journey into death and back, but she’s also torn by her dissatisfaction with her place in the world, her need to put love before duty.

I’m not going to spoil too much of the script. Imagine, working with Jim Jacks and Sean Daniel of Alphaville, has tried something radically different with this pass at remaking the classic tale. I actually dragged out Anne Rice’s take on it, a script I read two or more years ago, just for comparison. It’s as stiff as I remember, without a single new idea to contribute to the Frankenstein mythos. The dialogue is low-grade bodice ripper, and the script takes forever to get where it’s going. Part of the difficulty in telling a Frankenstein story is finding some way to keep the audience engaged. We’ve seen so many different riffs on the material at this point that it’s all a sort of blur. When I picked this new draft up, I didn’t really expect much. What I got was as much a retelling of Fritz Lang’s classic METROPOLIS as a reimagined version of James Whale’s brilliant original BRIDE OF FRANKENSTEIN. Purists are going to freak, protesting that this isn't FRANKENSTEIN. That's true... it's not. But if I see one more straight-faced remake of the original, I'm going to scream. At this point, FRANKENSTEIN means "science meddling with the domain of God" more than it refers to specific characters in my mind. This is a new story, a new world that's been created, and anyone who isn't able to get past that first hurdle might as well stop reading now. The script is set in a future of metaphorical design, rather than practical. Things have been divided into the very rich and the very poor, with the privileged living above the ruined planet’s surface in The Enclave, fabulous spires and crystalline bridges of spun glass serving to connect everything. On the streets of the Lower Realm, life is a dark, poisoned exaggeration of today’s worst urban settings.

Lily Praetorius lives in Tor Praetorius, her family’s castle-like structure, one of the richest in The Enclave. She’s engaged to be married to Victor Frankenstein, a brilliant scientist whose work is so advanced that it seems like magic. He is working with ultrasmart nanobots, honing sophisticated medical techniques designed to repair or even replace damaged tissue of any type. Even so, Lily finds herself drawn to Ben Morran, a police detective who gets his hands dirty on a daily basis, working in the Lower Realm. They’ve been seeing each other secretly. Ben’s involved in a major case, though, that threatens his relationship with Lily. He’s trying to figure out what’s behind a recent rash of "chopshoppers," prostitutes and poor women and even children who have shown up dead, all of their organs surgically removed, some of the scars very old. It appears that they’ve been selling themselves off, piece by piece. Ben’s questions are the obvious ones: who is buying the organs, and why?

Ben’s investigations stir up trouble in The Enclave, and he finds himself stonewalled at every turn. He manages to spur Lily’s conscience, though, and she ends up pursuing her own inquiry. Her questions lead her to her fiancee and to her own family. When she confronts Victor, the argument spins out of control, and this leads to Lily’s death and rebirth as something more than she was, something more than anyone has ever been before. Lily is the first incarnation of Victor’s twisted dream, and it sets her free from the conventions of the society that has restricted her. She becomes an angel of vengeance, a terrible force of destruction fuelled by righteous anger. It also sets loose Lily’s carnal side, something that both Ben and Victor experience.

It’s gonna take one hell of a filmmaker to pull this one off. If Imagine and Alphaville move ahead with the film, they need to talk to Alex Proyas first. I’m not the world’s biggest advocate of either DARK CITY or THE CROW, but I can admire his ability creating a certain tone. DARK CITY has that one unforgettable sequence, the first Tuning, that feels like total invention, true inspiration. THE CROW is a film I can’t watch for personal reasons, but I find the action sequences in it powerful and visceral, and they stick with me. This is a strong piece of material, giving Proyas a headstart he’s never had as a filmmaker. He could knock this one out of the park. If not him, though, then start talking to people like Chris Cunningham or Steven Norrington. It’s not a perfect script right now, but with a strong visualist who understands the material, it’s close enough to be exciting. The greatest trap would be to camp it up at all. Try and be post-modern, and you might as well save the money. Find somebody who falls in love with this draft, not someone who wants to come in and start tearing it apart and redeveloping it. I’m definitely interested to see this project move forward if it’s in the right hands, and I look forward to covering it as it does.

"Moriarty" out.

Readers Talkback
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  • Jan. 16, 2001, 6 a.m. CST


    by Dash101

    I dont know Moriarity, Tomb Raider, I dont believe is going to be anything to shout about.. dash101 out.

  • Jan. 16, 2001, 6:02 a.m. CST

    As a matter of fact....

    by Dash101

    Frankly, Im not sure that yet another remake of a Frankenstien film will be all so popular either. I mean come on, " Lara Craft is Tomb Raider"..? What is that crap! This I fear shall be no better. -dash101 out.

  • Jan. 16, 2001, 6:10 a.m. CST

    Kalogridis... Wait And See

    by drew mcweeny

    Well, Dash, that's easy enough to say without having read either project. I've read both. Which one of us is actually talking about something they've experienced, and which one of us is just voicing a knee-jerk reaction? Anything can be great if it's in the right hands. Anything can be crap if it's in the wrong hands. The whole point of the review is to say that Kalogridis is not what you'd expect. Open your mind a bit. Wait for the films. Maybe you'll be pleasantly surprised.

  • Jan. 16, 2001, 6:21 a.m. CST


    by sundown

    I loved the originals. Universal MADE the concept of a franchise. The Mummy was done right why do do they need to screw up Frankenstein! F should be done the way the Mummy was but with less comedy. The future, cops and investigation and a lame ass super hero thrown in. WHY CALL IT FRANKENSTEIN! Sounds like the lame 2099 series Marvel put out. When I saw the title I flipped cause I thought it was the CG thing coming back or something newer and cooler but I get some lame cyber punk 'reimagination' of a cool story as is. Just like Burtons Apes which I bet will suck ass wprse than Mars Attacks. IF YOU DON'T RESPECT IT LEAVE IT BE! B.O.F. an avenging angel MY ASS! How dreadful.

  • Jan. 16, 2001, 7:26 a.m. CST

    Women Characters in Movies

    by MunDane

    Hollywood has done more to eviscerate strong female roles in most movies than a thousand of the worst Harry-hating fundamentalist preachers. From the degeneration of the naturalist character in The Lost World played by Julian Moore, to the creation of non-existent female characters in Starship Troopers. The female always ends up as some damsel in distress because that is what the Slime in Suits thinks that Mid-America wants to see. I have hopes that Tomb Raider will not turn out like that, but so far most of the advertising seems to be leaning to an action jiggle-fest ala BarbWire. But, I still hold out hope it is not.

  • Jan. 16, 2001, 8:09 a.m. CST

    Tomb Raider / Bride of Frankenstein

    by I am_NOTREAL

    Wasn't especially impressed with the "Tomb Raider" trailer, but hey, that doesn't mean the script didn't have some great stuff in it. A lot of it has to do with what Simon West got onscreen. I nearly walked out of "The General's Daughter" in the first hour, but the book was a top-notch page-turner. I'm very intrigued by the way Moriarty describes the plot of this new "BoF." LOVE it when a writer is able to take a familiar story and turn it into something new and fresh, something all too few writers seem capable of. Obviously Kalogirdis has lots of ideas. What remains to be seen is what (if anything) makes it to the screen. Agree with the take on Proyas as well--not the biggest fan of either "DC" or "The Crow"--both had good moments that failed to come together into a cohesive whole. It would be interesting to see what Proyas could do with a script that creates fascinating images yet moves with a purpose as well, something that "Sleepy Hollow," for all its terrific set design, DIDN'T do, IMHO.

  • Jan. 16, 2001, 8:19 a.m. CST

    How about a faithful version of frankenstien?

    by alabamaboy

    Poor Mary Shelley. 100 years of Frankenstein films and not one has actually made a decent effort of telling the book's story. Karloff's creature was made a childish oaf(liked the portrayal, but far cry from the book) and everyone sees it as the true classic. Lee's was a mute. Sarrazin's was more like Dorian Gray /Mr. Hyde and yet the film was called the True Story. Then came Mary Shelley's Frankenstein. De Niro's creature was turned into a brutal thug(only slightly more articulate than Karloff's). If they actually followed Shelley's design plan, the creature would be far more interesting and the films more memorable.

  • Jan. 16, 2001, 8:31 a.m. CST

    Imagine Entertainment...

    by geekzapoppin

    The fine folks who brought you the steaming pile of shite known as THE GRINCH. 'Nuff said!

  • Jan. 16, 2001, 8:33 a.m. CST

    Mary Shelley vs the Bride of Frankenstein

    by All Thumbs

    To start off, I love Shelley's novel and I think one of the problems with many adaptations is that they focus on the "science circumventing God" theme rather than some of the more personal, more complex questions Shelley raises. I also think the Whale versions are beautiful works of art and I loathe Branagh's version, although it is a more "faithful" adaptation of the novel. DeNiro was excellent, though, and could have been a great Frankenstein's monster if there had been more focus on his alienation from his creator and the world and lost that horrible scene with Helena Bonham Carter going up in flames. I think Branagh's version suffered from some of the recklessness of ambition mapped out in the original novel. Anyways, I guess that's why I consider the Whale adaptations (and for some strange reason "Young Frankenstein") more faithful than some of the so-called faithfuls; they explore some of the other themes and are more of an homage to Shelley's work than a straight repetition. I think this new movie, if done right, could be a great "homage" rather than a "faithful" adaptation. It sounds like a wonderful script with some great potential, but I gotta tell ya...the purists (those of the Whale movies and the Shelley novel) are gonna throw a hissy fit. And, Moriarty, who would you want to see as Lily?

  • Jan. 16, 2001, 8:38 a.m. CST

    Great idea, change the title.

    by Z-Man

  • Jan. 16, 2001, 9:08 a.m. CST

    "Bride Of Reanimator"

    by Uncapie

    Now that was a good sequel! Flawed in some parts, but still good. This story is not "Bride Of Frankenstein". A good story, but as the poster above suggested, change the title. Knowing Jim Jacks though, "Mr. Fullofhimself" no, that's not it, "Mr. Dickhead" is right, who used to be head of development at Universal(Gee, how'd he get that sweetheart distribution deal with them?) they'll monoplize on the the title alone. Though Sean Daniels has always been a good guy to work with.

  • Jan. 16, 2001, 9:20 a.m. CST

    Sounds like an interesting experiment.

    by Klam Bake

    Question, Where is Frankenstein's first creation? At the very least a cameo is warranted. And please don't say the detective gets turned into a monster. Ugh! I also could see the plot coming a mile away. The division of who's the bad guy is to concrete. The novel was great for that because you didn't realize till the end that the evil guy was the main character. Ditch the romance with the detective. Let the Bride have no one to turn to. Let her stand on her own and come through. My 2 cents.

  • Jan. 16, 2001, 9:40 a.m. CST


    by Trulane

    Hey Moiarty, what's with the shot at Sommers? I thought you loved the Mummy?

  • Jan. 16, 2001, 11:42 a.m. CST

    Kalogridis wrote X-Men too!

    by Emerald Eyes

    For those who forgot to mention it (that includes you, Moriarty), Laeta Kagridis was also up for arbitration (along with Joss Whedon and Chris McQuarrie) in the writing credits for "X-Men". As we all know, neither her or the others got credit as it was handed to the luckiest screenwriter in Hollywood, David Hayter - who was basically a script supervisor/secretary/hanger-on of Bryan Singer's. By several accounts, Hayter compiled and shuffled all of the various X-drafts into one cohesive script, and got a credit. Anyway, it could be for the best. I have Laeta Kagridis' draft of "X-Men", and it is less than inpressive. It smacks of the outrageous "comic booky" flavor that Bryan Singer wanted to avoid. Kagridis' draft tries to be all things to all people with an over-emphasis on Wolverine's origin, a convoluted plot involving Magneto, and overdeveloped bits with Gambit and Beast. It was a mess as a screenplay but might've made a good animated adventure. This "Bride Of Frankenstein" sounds interesting and fresh and I hope it gets made. For all of you so-called "purists" -- get a life.

  • Jan. 16, 2001, 11:44 a.m. CST

    Question for talkbackers

    by Krackbaby

    This article reminded me of an anime that had similar themes. It was about a robot girl who lived in a world that had an above world for the elite, and a lower world for the "refuse" of society. That anime also had organ removal (spinal removal if I remember correctly) as one of its themes.

  • Jan. 16, 2001, noon CST

    Battle Angel Alita

    by TheKraken

    Yup, that's what I thought, first off. They should ditch the Frankenstein thing and just make a live action Battle Angel movie. Of course, it would suck as an anime film and wouldn't quite make it as a "summer blockbuster", so it would tank at the box office and no more films would be made like this again for a good ten years. ...which might not be a bad thing...

  • Jan. 16, 2001, 12:01 p.m. CST

    hey Emerald Eyes the only thing more annoying than needlessly ch

    by sundown

    is making assumptions on peoples involvement in work hundreds of miles from you with no real information. Calling Hayter lucky or anything but good considering the finished product is downright foolish. Do you really know what he did or are you making up or passing on a stupid rumor? Hopefully this turd won't make it. I hope they rename it 'undead man hating avenging chick'. So from all the 'purists' who need to get a life I say the Whales film was one of the greatest in history an not just horror...if you don't get that then you just don't understand go watch Wild Wild West. also I think the previous poster who said Karloff was lumbering was thinking of Glen Strange...Karloff was menacing and evil and maybe the greatest screen villain...lastly hopefully one day someone will do this right the way Xmen was done right. Done with care not just crapped out with all the PC attributes and trendy plot twists.

  • Jan. 16, 2001, 12:09 p.m. CST

    There are three types of action adventure movies...

    by docsisx

    those that carry intentional camp those that unintentionally carry camp and those that are serious. The reason Sommers didn't study "Raiders" was because he was making a campy movie and "Raiders" isn't that.Whereas whatever her name is, is writing "Tomb Raider" as a serious action/advernture flick. And it will probably turn out campy anyway.

  • Jan. 16, 2001, 12:36 p.m. CST

    What the fuck.

    by neo-jimmbob

    From the simple desciption that you gave i say what the hell. if the movie turns out to be a tenth as engauging as the scipt sounds then its already kicked as on nintey percent of the "action" films currently in theaters. And in using the ever repitous dark gritty class segregated, "we really weren't trying to copy bladerunner that much honest" future, perhaps it will succed where dark angel failed like a dyslexic third grader. As for revisiting the frankenstein mythos i give Kalogridis credit for having the required (all be it figurative) balls to wade through so many cluster fucked attempts (the bride, frankenstein unbound, and that kenneth branough shitfest). Further the notion to include proyas was astounding. With two huge cult films under his belt he seems the perfect person to helm, what will most likely turn into a cult supported classic. In short it sounds filled with the possibility to be a great film, and if it fails theres no way it could any worse than battlefield earth.

  • Jan. 16, 2001, 1:06 p.m. CST

    So naturally, since it's great, they'll start tearing it apart a

    by Junior D-Girl

    I've seen this happen at first-hand. Would love to read this script. Moriarty your problem is your penis. If it's about a woman and was written by a woman why can't you in your infinite wisdom mention some women directors who might be appropriate for this project? I mean besides Kath Bigelow. Surely there must be a few women who could handle this script and bring it to the fullest incarnation it clearly so richly deserves. Let a woman take the reins on this and give her the freedom to make it her way.

  • Jan. 16, 2001, 3:49 p.m. CST

    I think I aready seen this movie

    by Killgore

    And it was called Battle Angel. And I think someone already made that observation and it was called TheKraken.

  • Jan. 16, 2001, 5:02 p.m. CST

    Im sorry...

    by marla singer

    ... where exactly was I mentioned...?

  • Jan. 17, 2001, 1:26 a.m. CST

    Rip off....

    by yummyfur

    This writer's ideas for 'The Enclave' with it's crystal spires and magnificant towers overlooking the debris of the lower classes is a blatant rip off of Neil Stephenson's book, 'The Diamond Age'. Still, it's such an awesome novel, no wonder she's borrowed from it. Alex Proyas would be a great choice to direct but I can't imagine it turning out too good. It'll have to be dumbed down too much otherwise who will want to see it apart from a few of us geeks.

  • Jan. 17, 2001, 5:20 p.m. CST

    I like it.

    by The Hillbrothers

    Rich people living in towers above ground/ poor people living underground in a post-apocalyptic world...This is not a rip-off, those are now sci-fi genre conventions. This movie will be cool if it's made the way described. Sounds scary too. I know it has nothing to do with the original, but then the original was an invention, not based on a classic novel. It's the sequel to a pulp film version of a classic book, and this movie seems clos enough in theme to warrant use of the "Frankenstein" title. The original (Mary Shelley) book, by the way, has a great plot/ theme, but is way over-written and really terribly boring if you already know the story, and painful to read even if you don't. Anyone agree?

  • Jan. 19, 2001, 10:56 a.m. CST

    listen to this

    by melinda

    Laeta Kalogridis is a brilliant writer with lots to offer everyone. If people would just quit being anal and open their eyes they would be able to see this. And by the way "Moriarty" Laeta is NOT single!

  • Jan. 19, 2001, 10:59 a.m. CST


    by melinda


  • June 17, 2009, 9:06 p.m. CST

    Funny people were talking about Battle Angel

    by Toilet_Terror