MovieChat Forums > Scanners II: The New OrderĀ (1991) Discussion > Did anyone notice how the writing change...

Did anyone notice how the writing changed halfway through?


I hadn't seen this in years, so after having come to know David Hewlett in Stargate: Atlantis as Rodney, it was pretty hilarious to see this movie again, and realize that he was the lead. And so young! Long hair, softer voice, and exuding confidence and charm. Such a huge departure from what I'd become familiar with.

Anyhow, as I watched this movie again after all these years, I noticed something interesting. I know there's only one writer listed, but about halfway through the film the writing changes dramatically. With sequels, one can't help making comparisons to the original, and for the first half I was pleasantly surprised with the tone and quality. There seemed to be a general desire on the writer's part to maintain Cronenberg's style, tone, and intent. However, midway through that all suddenly changed. I found it very jarring as the script became sloppy and foolish, contradicting itself and failing to notice as its own internal logic crumbled.

In fact, you can almost spot the exact moment things changed, right in the middle of one character's dialogue. It was after David had gone home to the farm, and is speaking with his adoptive father. "Dad" is revealing the truth about David's origins, and in one breath explains how his real parents had disappeared, with no clue as to what became of them, to then saying with surety that they're definitely long dead.

A bizarre bit of contrary dialogue as-written, but nothing that, on its own, could not be dismissed as a simple case of poorly crafted sentence structure and reasoning (trust me, I'm a writer, and these things happen if you try to write when you're too tired or haven't had your coffee yet --fortunately, you tend to catch these instances when you go back over it later and slap yourself in the forhead with an obligatory, "Oh, wow, that's awful. What was I thinking?"). However, what makes this interesting is that it also happens to be the exact moment that the rest of the script continues in this contrary, poorly thought-out way.

There's a natural flow to speech. Human's react to things a fairly certain and common way. Someone gets in your face and "invades your space" you instinctively back away or deflect. Someone says one thing but exhibits emotions, facial expressions, or body language that doesn't fit the statement, you assume they're lying or trying to sell you something. These are pretty basic things writers have to understand and keep in mind when writing, among a zillion other similar "rules of thumb" to keep a story real.

And pretty much all of those tools got dropped at that mid-point in the movie.

-Suddenly, with no logical explanation, the unexpected orphan whose parents "vanished without a trace" is told he has a sister, and dear old dad's even got her address.

-Police officers begin acting like B-movie thugs, never questioning ridiculous orders and shooting wildly at "suspects."

-The primary "bad" scanner, who demonstrated his stunned inferiority to David's abilities in the beginning is now much more powerful than David, despite our seeing David learn a few new techniques that give him more control over his power.

-Outright control of someone through scanning shows no signs except distress, but passively looking through their eyes causes the scanner to develop "star eyes" and the subject to appear to have cateracts, which by itself is silly, but even worse, nobody seems to find this odd when they witness it.

-Ephemerol apparently no longer exists, but a new, addictive drug does. Depending on what's needed for the scene, the new drug alternately allows a scanner to function [as a scanner] and stay sane, or entirely inhibits the power. Additionally, if "F2" is supposed to be anything like Ephemerol in nature, it should have no effect on non-scanners, yet an overdose immediately mutates and kills one.

-The scanners mutilate someone on-camera (granted, in defense), before a room full of cops and reporters and were apparently then free to go.

-"We mean you no harm." Swear to God, that line was actually used.

I could go on, but you get the idea. The biggest error is actually one we as viewers can easily overlook for the sake of the movie, that being the ages of Cameron and Kim's children. Both Scanners 1 & 2 appeared to be set in their respective "modern day" periods, only ten years apart, but David was easily mid-20s or older, and his sister was at least in her early thirties. No attempt was made to make the "real world" look like it was more futuristic to match the assumed passage of time. Still, for the sake of enjoying the story, that's easily forgiven. But the rest... All the cheese and mistakes that happened after the midpoint of the film, they were just terrible, and I don't forgive those. I'm convinced someone either took over the script at that point, or it was re-written from there, and in either case, it changed from good to very, very bad. If it was the same writer throughout, I'm utterly baffled why the story and writing style changed so drastically and obviously, and at such an easily recognizable spot.



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