Is Damon Lindelof the Glenn Larson of 21st Century TV? Striking ideas, the occasional good moment or even whole scene, and stories that don’t even try to track? Looks like it from here:
by Nick Cannata-Bowman
Hollywood is packed with aspiring screenwriters. After paying their dues, some find themselves rising to the top of the industry. Others still never make it big. It’s tough to nail down the one magic bullet for what makes or breaks a successful writer. Damon Lindelof though seems to have found it, having made a career in sci-fi and fantasy at the exact moment audiences want it most. Partially due to escalating and dire global crises, as well as the surge in Marvel’s cinematic empire have all made Lindelof’s subject matter worth its weight in gold.
That being so, his career has been one punctuated by sloppily-written great ideas. Virtually every project he’s been attached to has massive thematic problems tied directly into the DNA of the story. His filmography is spotted with hugely successful TV shows and movies, but those same properties have made a habit of confusing audiences. His work is defined by gaping plot-holes and hastily fleshed-out storytelling that, while on the surface is entertaining, is in many ways patently lazy.
That’s not to say Lindelof doesn’t play a key role in Hollywood. His credits include two Star Trek movies, Prometheus, and the aforementioned Lost, so there’s no debating that he’s been a successful screenwriter. But is he a careful screenwriter? Based on even his most popular work, the glaringly obvious answer is a resounding “no.” Take one look at the way Lost spun into a series of unintelligible twists and side-plots and we see the quintessential Lindelof style: Flashy, intriguing, but unsubstantial. He’s amazingly skilled at drawing an audience in, but once he’s hooked you, more often than not he writes himself into a corner.
It’s not just Lost either. Prometheus was widely criticized for playing fast and loose with its timeline and story, while Star Trek, expertly directed by J.J. Abrams, featured some confusing alternate dimension/time travel plot points that never really made much sense. Look at Lindelof’s latest work as a co-writer with Brad Bird on Tomorrowland and we see those same touch-points: A fascinating universe that never gets properly explained.