Everything comes into existence to eventually be destroyed for the amusement of a twisted clockmaker.
THE BIBLE tells the story of everything in existence, beginning with the creation of the Heaven and the Earth and culminating with the destruction of all things with the failed return of Jesus Christ, a prophet sent to Earth for its salvation.
“Hostel” meets “Gladiator”, THE BIBLE begins with the villain, GOD, who creates all being without any motivation but to watch things suffer. It’s pretty much downhill from there. We’re subjected to numerous plotlines, dramatic arcs, and other endless threads which are confusing and contradictory, which I’ll get into below.
This is where I felt the writer struggles the most. There are TOO MANY CHARACTERS! Characters are introduced, seemingly without any purpose but to propel the story forward or provide convenient explanations to very complicated setups. The writer’s main character, the prophet Jesus, is introduced late in the second act and suffers from having no clear motivation or goals with his actions. One minute he’s a peaceful shepherd, the next he’s smashing a temple with his bare hands ala Incredible Hulk. Overall this is may be the worst character I’ve ever read, short of the protagonist in that Secret Agent Werewolf script that won the Tucson contest. In the end, Jesus is easily captured and does little to escape his predicament, but then returns seemingly from thin air to provide a convenient, although visually impressive, third act finale. (BTW, if he’s sent to Earth to save it, why does he watch it get destroyed by the hydra?)
Mary Magdalene is a character with a lot of potential. I felt the writer would be wise to focus on her, specifically with regard to her days as a prostitute. Perhaps focus on some instances in which she was turning tricks and how that made her want to be stronger and fight for Jesus. Remember, audiences want characters they can get behind! For instance, the crucifixion. What if Jesus’ posse showed up when he’s on the cross and fought to get him down from there? Or maybe he rips himself down through sheer strength like Jean-Claude Van Dam in “Cyborg” and then uses the nail in his hand to pop out some big dude’s eyeball? Perhaps the prophets are able to appeal to Pontius Pilate’s better sense of judgment and he’s willing to fight against everything that he’s worked for to join their ranks and fight as well? There are a lot of different ways to handle this scenario, but remember, your protagonist must ALWAYS be taking pro-active steps to achieve his or her goals.
Experimental narratives are difficult to pull off, and sometimes better left to pro’s. This is where THE BIBLE really stinks up the place. Pick one story and stick with it. The structure is, for lack of a better description, a puddle of elephant piss. The key elements, which were difficult to identify, were executed horribly with seemingly no consideration for conflict/resolution or any semblance of heightened suspense. Things just sort of happened with no explanation or purpose. For example, why did God need to test Abraham? Isn’t he omnipotent and therefore able to look deep into men’s souls? What was the point except to make our characters walk from one set-piece to another on a hot day?
And if you really want to make this “the greatest story ever told”, think about filling out your story with some comic elements. You have plenty of farm animals, what if one of them could talk? It’s not so far-fetched in a world in which bushes burn, water turns to wine, and women to pillars of salt. Think about casting as well, who would you imagine performing situational comedy as the Three Wisemen? Maybe it’s the Three Stooges? Or the Three Men and a Baby? Envision your characters and let their dialogue flow, you’ll be amazed at what you can come up with.
Last, the ending needs a lot of work. In the beginning we’re introduced to God, a villain so dastardly and wicked that he makes Darth Vader look like Santa Clause. When does this character ever get his comeuppance? For all his riddles and games he’s never addressed nor do our characters ever attempt to fight back against his twisted design. Wouldn’t that be their ultimate motivation? To knock this bozo out of the way so they can live free and without senseless rules and killings? Why don’t they attempt to launch some kind of massive counter-attack by employing logic which would allow him to vanish in the minds of his followers? There isn’t a right answer here, but this is definitely something that needs to be fixed in the next draft. Remember, people love seeing the underdog prevail against the tyrant, and in this case God’s merciless rule needs to go challenged. Make him suffer because that’s what the audience paid to see!
From a pure commercial aspect, I don’t think this is something that anybody would be willing to get behind. Period pieces can be challenging from a budgetary standpoint, and there doesn’t seem to be the kind of ‘big tent’ feel that studios tend to pick up. Think about appealing to a broader demographic by adding characters that teens, children, and old people can relate to. Giving Jesus a smart-alecky son who rides a skateboard, or including a love story involving two high school kids who meet at a rock concert could go a long way in polishing this donkey turd.
Writer: PASS AND DON’T LOOK BACK