Southland Tales review 38 of 52.

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Alright enough about me, let’s get back to the breaking down of Southland Tales.

Way back in review 20 I read the first installment of the Southland Tales prequel graphic novels.

In review 31 I read the screenplay for the animated feature prequel of Southland Tales.

The screenplay is broken up into three sections and each section shares the title with the corresponding graphic novel.

I remember thinking that the graphic novels and the screenplay are the same, but different enough to where it feels like they are telling the same story of the same events taking place in two parallel universes.

This week I’m going to compare the two part ones and see what I learn.

  • Right out the gate there are differences, nothing big but different none the less. The Rock gets to the fork in the road, there's a sandstorm in the screenplay and Pilot Abilene proclaims, “Two roads diverge in a desert storm,” while in the graphic novel there is no storm and the words read, “Two roads diverge in a yellow wood.”
  • In the screenplay there are two soldiers trying to track down the Rock, they venture down the left road of the fork while the Rock heads down the right. There is no mention of these soldiers in the graphic novel.
  • Both the graphic novel and the screenplay point out that Will Sasso awaits the as the Rock’s chariot, only the graphic novel takes this opportunity to break away and introduce Will Sasso’s character.
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  • During this Will Sasso breakaway we are briefly introduced to Seann William Scott and the guy with the red, white and blue Mohawk. We also meet Seann William Scott’s dad, and see how Sarah Michelle Gellar and Will Sasso partnered up.
  • In the screenplay we go straight to Will Sasso finding the Rock and picking him up.
  • A conversation that takes place in the car, in the graphic novel, takes place in an AM/PM parking lot in the screenplay.
  • The screenplay then goes on to introduce this giant sand storm that’s creating a maze type formation, while in the graphic novel two guards find the Rock’s burnt body in the experimental Treer vehicle.
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  • I found this interesting because you would think that this sand maze would be easier to show in the graphic novel, than in a live actio… one wait, this prequel script was meant to be animated, nevermind.
  • Oh, and in the graphic novel we cut back to the AM/PM as they finish their conversation.
  • Will Sasso then informs the Rock that he is famous. This is pretty much the same in both formats.
  • In the graphic novel the guards try to figure out what this experimental Treer vehicle is, while in the screenplay guards make their way through the sand maze and find dead monkeys.
  • Again both the graphic novel and the screenplay sync up as Will Sasso breaks down the levels of celebrity ass. It’s very reminiscent of the strange conversations the Rock has with Seann William Scott during the ride along.
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  • The screenplay then cuts back to the maze where they finally discover the Treer vehicle and the Rock’s burnt body.
  • The two stories sync up again as Will Sasso explains to the Rock that he woke up in the middle of WWIII
  • In the screen play the Treer vehicle is helicoptered back to a hangar and the Baron demands the Rock be found, while in the graphic novel there’s a big action scene where the people examining the dead version of the Rock are shot. The shooters then take the Rocks body along with the Treer vehicle.
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  • The two stories sync up as the Rock and Will Sasso enter Buffalo Bill’s Casino. Sarah Michelle Gellar is on stage at the strip club doing poetry and singing her song. The audience is disappointed that she’s not stripping and the manager has a talk with her about getting naked, she runs loops around the manager because she’s smarter than him and worked it into her contract, that he didn’t read, that she's fulfilling her requirements. There is nothing the manager can do but pay more.
  • Here’s where it gets confusing up until now there have been differences but they all seem to be minor, but big enough for me to believe that there may be a parallel universe thing going on. In this scene however things get way different.

    In the graphic novel it’s established that Sarah Michelle Gellar and Will Sasso already know each other. In fact in the graphic novel they secretly meet up in the strip club to come up with a plan to con the Rock and get everyone over the border. She comes up with a story that she was out doing research for a movie with her and the Rock.
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  • Meanwhile in the screenplay we have no idea who she knows. When she notices the Rock she rushes over and starts to implement the plan that she made with Will Sasso in the graphic novel. In fact if it wasn’t for the graphic novel I would just assume that she was telling the truth because her evidence is sound. It also feel like she’s telling the truth because it’s not until later in the screenplay that Sarah Michelle Gellar and Will Sasso start working as a team.
  • In the graphic novel Sarah Michelle Gellar takes the Rock to her room, has sex with him and then tells him the backstory of how the two of them were out in the desert, he was on drugs and disappears. She then introduces the script The Power.
  • Meanwhile in the screenplay she takes both Will Sasso and the Rock to her room to tell them about the script The Power and then informs both the Rock and Will Sasso how the Rock must have ended up lost in the desert. In this version of reality Will Sasso has no idea what Sarah Michelle Gellar is up to at this point.

    Sarah Michelle Gellar then takes Will Sasso out into the hallway and they have almost the same conversation that they had back in the strip club in the graphic novel version of reality. Only Sarah Michelle Gellar has the two fake IDs that are the reason Will Sasso and the Rock stopped at the casino to begin with.

    I like the way the screenplay does this, it makes Sarah Michelle Gellar seem much smarter and like she's actually psychic. She didn’t need to be informed by Will Sasso that there is an issue. Her seeing a famous person needed a false ID, and whatever information she got from her boss was enough for her to start plotting.

  • The graphic novel then has a quick cut away to the Baron getting information about the Treer vehicles and the Rock’s fried body and then the two stories sync up again as we go into the world of The Power script.

Even the two scripts for The Power are slightly different.

  • In the graphic novel Jericho Cane meet up with Muriel Fox at a strip club to solidify that she is the Sarah Michelle Gellar character. The two then go off to a domestic dispute where Jericho shoots the husband and meets the farting baby that the Rock tell Seann William Scott about on the ride along in Southland Tales.
  • Everything is exactly the same in the screenplay version only there is no pre-meeting at the strip club. Jericho meets Muriel at the scene of the domestic dispute and the rest plays out from there.
  • I did notice one thing though. At the very beginning of The Power story in the graphic novel Jericho sits in his car waiting and has a drink of Bud Light before racing off to deal with the domestic dispute. In the screenplay version Jericho has the beer but does not drink it. No drinking and driving on the screen.
  • We sync up again as we are pulled out of the script reading with a phone call.
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  • In both stories it’s the Baron’s mom telling the Rock to stick with Sarah Michelle Gellar. In the graphic novel the Rock is told by this woman not to ride the roller coaster. There is no mention of the roller coaster in the screenplay.
  • In the graphic novel we follow the Rock, Sarah Michelle Gellar and Will Sasso to meet with a lawyer for the Rock to make a deal to pay Will Sasso two hundred thousand dollars and an Associate Producer credit for The Power script.
  • In the screenplay however we go back to the hangar with the Treer vehicle and the Rock’s fried body. The Baron’s mother calls the Baron to inform him that the Rock is with Sarah Michelle Gellar. No meeting with the lawyer at all.
  • Where in the graphic novel the Rock is told by the Baron’s mother not to ride the roller coaster and is talked into riding the roller coaster by Sarah Michelle Gellar, in the screenplay, as noted the rollercoaster is never mentioned, the Rock is drawn to ride the roller coaster as if it were destiny.
  • And both stories end with the roller coaster going back in time through a portal and witnesses the Native American’s that used to live on the land. They wave at each ending this segment of the story.
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And that’s the end of part one to the Southland Tales prequel graphic novel and screenplay.

It’s now 7:00 in the pm on Monday November 5th and I’m sick as a dog. I’m going to finish listening to this podcast that’s been playing as I write, take a hand full of cold medicine and fire up the Cannes Cut of Southland Tales for the 38th time.

See you next week.

Good night!

Matt Bunker

I started out with a goal of becoming a paid screenwriter. I had no interest in any other aspect of filmmaking. I received and scholarship to The Vancouver Film School's Writing for Film and Television program where I graduated in 2005. I fell in love with being on set during my first non-school produced short, . I loved being around all the creative people, seeing people having fun while working. The whole liking your job was a new world to me, so I decided to give it a shot. I volunteered for any project I could, doing what ever was needed. The set was my Film School this time. While working as a PA on a feature I was informed that the DP wanted the three tallest PAs to help out in the grip and electric department. That is when I found the department that felt like the best fit for me while I continued to write.