Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Yardbird





This is the last short film I have to post--It's been a long list lately, right?--and judging by the few pictures I've seen, this one is either Post-apocalyptic, or it's set in Australia. Written by Julius Avery and Directed by Michael Spiccia, Yardbird is the story of a young girl with a secret power. It's a power that terrifies her, so she hides out in junkyard, until the day she is forced to come out of hiding and take on some local bullies tormenting her father.

So... Carrie, right? That's what we've got here? It's basically Carrie, right?

Let's find out.


So, yes... Carrie. Kinda. But a good version, really. I liked this one. It was good looking, spare and grimy (Australia), and focused on a single story with clear motivations, and told it really well. There were good performances too, and the effects were well done. The CGI was a little clumsy around the edges maybe, but not too much, and it was used judiciously, so big thumbs up all around.

This one is worth watching.

Good job,
Jon

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Overwatch Cinematic Trailer





There's a new video game on the way from Blizzard Entertainment, and it's called Overwatch. The internet is going a little nutso-crazy-pants over it. Myself, I'm only so-so on the game. From what I've seen of the gameplay, it doesn't really interest me. It looks okay, I'm sure it's fun, but it's not really my type of thing when it comes to games. I feel the same about the character design too. I'm just not that hot on the overall style of it, it's too cartoony-anime-ish for me.

So why the post, you ask? 

Well, while at first blush, it might sound like they don't have much to draw me in, that's not entirely true, because it turns out, they have a Cinematic trailer. If any long time readers actually exist out there, I'm sure they would all agree with me when I say: I love a good Video Game Cinematic trailer.

Which is what we've got here. 

Let's watch...



I love it. 

It's fun. It's fast. It sets up the story and then pays it off really nicely in the end. It features a clear theme and even a little bit of a character arc too. I think they made some good choices when it came to which heroes and villains to showcase, all of whom were clearly drawn personality-wise. Plus, come on, everyone loves a hyper-intelligent gorilla in small glasses, right? Also, I love the kid's reaction to Tracer saying her catch-phrase. This was good stuff. I'd totally watch more of this, if it were a show.

Too bad the game looks kind of meh...

Jon

Monday, November 10, 2014

The Life and Death of Tommy Chaos and Stacey Danger





Written and Directed by Michael Lukk Litwak, this short film is called: The Life and Death of Tommy Chaos and Stacey Danger and it is the tale of two star-crossed adventures who are madly, deeply in love. All they want is to be together, but whether in outer space or at the bottom of the ocean, conflict always finds them. And sometimes that conflict involves dinosaurs with lasers attached to their heads.

Sounds good to me. Let's watch...


It was a little Wes Andersony, right? 

Or a lot, really... it's a lot Wes Andersony, but without any actual Wes Anderson.

Okay, maybe that's a little mean. Maybe it's a little too easy to say something like that about a short film like this just because of some similar shooting styles and script choices and set aesthetics. It might seem a little flippant, and imply that the film is nothing but preening poses and glib witticisms ringing hollow. And I'm sure Michael Lukk Litwak probably hears that particular charge a lot too, just like I'm sure it's probably pretty upsetting to him, because it probably seems more than a little unfair, too off-handed and too curt, which is, honestly, a pretty fair assessment of that particular charge. Saying this short film is "a lot Wes Andersony, but without any actual Wes Anderson" is a fairly dismissive criticism.

But it's also kinda true...

Not that there weren't some good parts going on here. For all of the film's pretentious and (intentionally...?) faux-depth, there was definitely a lot of fun too. I mean, dinosaurs... with lasers on their heads? Come on. What about Tommy's reaction to the Megalodoons? Classic. And the big switch that turns the submarine to a spaceship? That was some real magic right there, kids.

But then the tone changes...

Oh, so it's a relationship metaphor, huh? Great... that's just great (sarcasm). And it's an incomplete metaphor too, huh? That's a bold choice (more sarcasm). Meh (not sarcasm).

I'm iffy on this film, your mileage may vary,
Jon

Friday, November 7, 2014

PLUG





Today's short film is called PLUG, and it's the directorial debut of David Levy. Before this, David worked as a designer and a concept artist for films like Tron Legacy, Prometheus, Ender's Game, and even the up-coming Tomorrowland and Avatar2. This is an impressive resume, folks, because let me tell you, if there's one good thing I can say about all of those films (or expect to be able to say), it's this: At least they all looked really good.

So there's that possible plus in PLUG's favor.

But here's the thing that really grabbed my interest for this film, and that is that it is described as "a return to 1970's classics like Star Wars and Mad Max with a gritty universe made from mostly live props and real life settings." I really like the sound of that. I've been saying it for a long time now: CGI Ruins Movies. Not simply because it exists, of course, more so due to the over-reliance modern Hollywood has for what should be just one film-making tool among many. I'm all about the Practical Effects, my friends, with a little bit of CGI added in to smooth out the rough spots, but I digress...

Here's the synopsis:

"On a post-apocalyptic Earth, Leila Dawn (NatalieFloyd), is the only human survivor. Raised by Robots after humanity abandoned the planet they destroyed with nuclear warfare, Leila cannot forget her parents nor ignore her yearning to find other organic life. A hunt she sets out on with a Military Unit, Marker (Lex Cassar), leads Leila to discover the reality she’s been denied—a reality that sparks her ultimate quest."

Let's check it out...


Okay, so the dialogue/story really needs a bit more work, but hey, it looked good...

A little over-lit, maybe... but still good. Apparently this is just the extremely hopeful first 15 minutes of a possible TV Pilot, so that can probably explain away some of the more awkward big jumps/weird editing moments, otherwise--unsurprisingly bargain-basement acting aside--it wasn't too bad. The opening world set-up was done really well, succinct but still pretty explanatory, for the most part. The costumes are great. The proliferation of the humanoid robots should probably be explained a little more, at least be shown in the background of the opening crawl. I mean, where they built for this apocalypse? If not, what were they before? Soldiers? Domestics? Actually, what are they now? Janitors? Do they have a purpose, or are they just... loose in the world? Where the hell did they all come from? But maybe these questions would be answered if this ever became a real TV show... hopefully.

There was one thing that happened that I really fucking hate, and that's when characters try to shot their weapon, nothing happens, so they shake it once or twice and then just hurl it aside... What the fuck is that? I mean, guns can't be easy to come by. What if it's just out of ammo? What if just one part is broken? Don't just throw it away, you might be able to fix it later.

Drives me crazy.

Anyway, other than that, not bad,
Jon

Friday, October 31, 2014

Brent Sims' Grave Shivers





In honor of Halloween, today's short film is called Brent Sims' Grave Shivers and it is a scary one. Supposedly. Or three, actually... Three short horror stories in one short-ish film. I don't know how scary they actually are, but looking at the images, I'll be honest, I have my doubts. Also, I have no idea who the hell Brent Sims is, despite the fact that he put his name in the title like we're all some how supposed to know: "Oooo... Brent Sims! Oh, boy!" said his mother. I kid, but like I said, I have my doubts... But then, fuck it, what do you want? It's Halloween and we're all under contract, right?

Here's the synopsis from the official Brent Sims homepage:
Grave Shivers is a sci-fi/horror anthology that weaves three tales of monsters, killers, and things that go bump in the night. It has been an official selection of over 16 film festivals and taken home multiple nominations for best director and awards at the New Orleans Horror Film Festival as well as the audience award at the H.P. Lovecraft Film Festival in Los Angeles. Dread Central called Grave Shivers "...An anthology…”

So let's do this, people! Be prepared to piss yourself with terror!



Hmmm, well... the last bit was all right, but... I don't know about you all out there, but I did not piss myself in terror. I didn't even pee-pee in panic, not even a dribble or a drop, let alone tinkle in shock. Brent Sims, you let me down, dude. Bummer. I remember when your name in the title used to mean something, but now, I don't know what I'm supposed to think. After seeing this... I don't think I even know who you are anymore, Brent Sims. I'm not sure I ever did.

Another Halloween down the tubes...

Boo,
Jon

Thursday, October 30, 2014

A Tale of Momentum and Inertia





Today, we've just got something light and fun.

At only a minute long, A Tale of Momentum and Inertia is a short film by the animation studio House Special. It's the simple tale of a Rock Monster who tries to save a small town from getting crushed by a boulder and ends up learning a valuable lesson as a result. Filled with drama, action, and a wicked sense of humor, this is definitely worth taking a minute out of your day to watch.

Seriously. This is good stuff.


Hilarious. I love it.

Jon

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Ambition





The unoffical short film week continues!

Today we have a joint effort from Director Tomek Baginski and the European Space Agency that stars Aidan Gillen, who you might know from the movie Shanghai KnightsAmbition tells the story of a Master and his Apprentice using the rubble and ruin of the Wastelands to create a Universe. How did someone like Littlefinger end up in this random six and a half minute short film? I have no idea. Also, why is the ESA involved? Again: No idea, but I would guess it's probably due to the mention of the Rosetta Probe Comet mission, an odd detail which leads me to suspect that some of the nerds over at the ESA got scammed out of a portion of their funding by your typical opportunistic Hollywood cool guy. I imagine a moment akin to something out of Van Wilder... But then, Baginski was nominated for the Best Short Film Oscar in 2003 for Katedra, so there's that too. It didn't win, of course, but it is an impressive thing to have on one's resume. Something like that can go a long ways toward convincing folks to pony up some cash for a project, and it looks like the ESA has done just that, and in spades too. Either way, here we are, and the only question that really matters is a simple one: Does Ambition have what it takes to end up fairing as well or better as Katedra?

Let's watch and see what we think...



Not bad. Not bad at all. I really liked the kind of vague hints of world-building they had going on here. It was a nice mix, a little bit magical, a little bit super science. I really liked that. Iceland is an amazing looking place too, right? Like New Zealand, it seems to look like Heaven on Earth at one end and like the most alien place imaginable in another, and it's not that big a country. Littlefinger was great, but then he's always great, of course. The design and effects were surprisingly good. That might be enough to send it on to the Oscars actually. Maybe. Well, probably not. It's a bit lacking in the story department and, let's be honest, that's because it's mostly a humble-brag on the part of the ESA, right? Not that they don't deserve to brag a little, the Rosetta Probe is pretty fucking amazing, but yeah, that's pretty much what this is. Not that that really matters either, of course, because "humble brag that's light in the narrative department" or not, it's still pretty cool.

Also, I like the poster,
Jon