Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Super Mario: Underworld

Today's short film is called SUPER MARIO: UNDERWORLD.

This is an older short film. It's been floating around for awhile. You may have seen it already. But it's quick and fun, and I don't think I've ever posted anything about it, so that's changing today. There's some weird stuff going on here, though. Not in the film... well, yeah, in the film, but right now, I'm talking about the people who made it. The folks responsible for creating this film are from a group/team/Production House called Nukazooka.

Beyond that, I don't know anything else about them.

I mean, I'm sure I can look around the Internet more, maybe try some Google tricks, but why bother? A. I don't get paid for this. And B. I don't really give a fuck. And besides, they have a Facebook page, and they have a Youtube page, and they have a barely filled out IMDB page, so it's not like they don't have options to easily provide the information, if they wanted to. They obviously don't.

And like I said, I don't really give a fuck.

So, from what I can tell, Nukazooka makes a lot of short films--A LOT of them--and they're mostly rather broadly jokey, kind of bro-ey, and usually involve some kind of video games in the "real world" and/or "real-life" Nerf gun use. It seems like a lot of them are probably young Dads too. They have that look about them. I bet even more of them wear flip-flops or open-toed Dude-sandals whenever possible. They also have that look. Also, despite this list, their videos are usually pretty well-made.

Here's the synopsis for SUPER MARIO: UNDERWORLD... Mario enters the upside down.

Okay, that's a shit synopsis. For one (Nerd Beef)... it has nothing to do with the Upside Down. It's not even the same concept as the Upside Down. That's just... a flawed, and ridiculously lazy comparison. That kind of half-assed pop culture callback is an unfortunate hallmark of this Nukazooka group. Looking at them, and what they focus on, it's also the least surprising thing ever for them to have this issue. The miracle is that it doesn't ruin their work that often.

Granted, the film is only 3 minutes long, but as the possibly tens of my long-time readers out there are no doubt well aware of by now, a shitty synopsis is usually a pretty bad sign as a predictor of a short film's general and narrative quality. Usually. However, I've already watched the film, so let me assure you all that this time, at least, the short film in question is actually pretty good.

But still... what a crap synopsis.

A better version might be: Ever wondered what happens to Mario when he falls off the screen? One hapless little plumber survives the fall, and learns the horrifying truth.

Let's watch...

That was great.

I love it. Short, sweet, imaginative. It doesn't overstay its welcome, or over-estimate the power of its central joke. It manages to be both funny AND kind of creepy. Sure, it's more of an amuse-bouche of a short film than a whole short story, but that's not a problem when it's done right. Besides, this whole thing is an in-joke. The entire premise is based off the idea of the audience being well-versed in the subject, so the point isn't the narrative, it's the tour of a world that twists the familiar elements. It's flash fiction meets the Alternate Universe Trope.

And it's pretty fun.


Monday, July 17, 2017


Today's short film is called TEMPLE.

I found TEMPLE on a website/Facebook group called DUST. I'm not really sure what DUST is, who runs it, or why it even exists, but a cursory examination tells me that it's a platform for weird/sci-fi/genre short films, so that's right up my alley.

This is what they have to say about themselves:

"When You Cut Into The Present, The Future Leaks Out.” – William S. Burroughs

DUST is the first multi-platform destination to experience stunning visions of the future from filmmakers of tomorrow. We feature the best sci-fi short films, series, and innovative content that cuts through the present to invite the future. With vivid special effects, complex characters, and captivating plots, prescient themes are explored and tantalizing questions asked. Whether it’s a utopia worth striving for, an apocalypse to avoid, or a truth about the ways technology is changing the human experience – we amplify the voices and visions that will shape the future through imagination. New videos every week across technology platforms. The future is coming. Be our passenger. Explore, subscribe, follow, and submit to join us.

A tad over-written, perhaps, but at least they have a mission statement.

I'm a little surprised to see that DUST is so cyberpunk heavy. Honestly, in most parts of the world, cyberpunk is dead as the ideas and styles that power it. This isn't a recent development either, decades ago, Cyberpunk joined its obnoxious lesser cousin, Steampunk, as an out-of-date, ultra-specific speculative branch of the future/past that never happened, and never will. Not only will it never happen, but really, as the real future gets closer and closer every day, cyberpunk just ends up seeming more and more quaint and ridiculous. The real world moves too quickly, and cyberpunk is the 8-track of speculative fiction.

However, that doesn't mean I don't still enjoy the genre every now and then, so I guess I'm glad DUST is around. From the looks of the stuff they've curated, you'll probably find a lot of what they've got over there appearing over here.

But back to today's short film...

TEMPLE was directed by Nguyen-Anh Nguyen, and written by him and Santiago Menghini. They've worked on a bunch of stuff I'm not familiar with, as per tradition, with the noted exception of THE AKIRA PROJECT. That's an Indigogo-funded film project that was intended to either bankroll a fan-made attempt at a live-action version of Katsuhiro Otomo's famous manga/anime film AKIRA, or to finance a 5 minute trailer of a never-going-to-exist fan-driven live-action version of AKIRA. It's hard to tell. Either way, it's a pretty ill-advised idea, if you ask me. Anyway, the five minute trailer itself isn't that bad really, but it also three minutes of footage and a minute and a half of credits, so.... yeah... it's not that great either.

Here's the synopsis of TEMPLE: It's the year 2045. The ocean levels have risen to flood islands and coastal areas. The human race has been forced to become cyborgs. However, a virus has started to infect those who have these cybernetic enhancements. Oz (Osric Chau) must do whatever it takes to save the woman he cares about who has also developed this deadly virus.

That definitely sounds very cyberpunk. Let's watch...

Okay, so first things first... almost NONE of the above synopsis was in, shown, or even mentioned, during the film. I mean, how did rising flood waters force people to become cyborgs? Did they mean cyborg boats? Do they all have cyborg waterski feet? Because none of that is in the film. And the whole part about saving the woman the main character cares about? That's an inference, at best. And as far as I could tell... not one character was sick.

That's a problem, right?

That should be a problem. I mean, you go and say: "Here's what my film is about" and then include almost none of that in the actual film? What the fuck is that? That's so disappointing. Even more disappointing is how often this type of thing happens in the Genre Short Film World.

A more accurate synopsis of TEMPLE should've read: Two guys drive around a cyberpunk city, then one of the guys fights a different guy, apparently because the first guy wants the second guy's cyborg arm, because the first guy.... collects them, I guess? Also, there's a girl in a tube.

But other than that... Not too bad. I mean, it looked good. The fight was cool, and the effects were even better, so despite being a complete narrative failure, at least the film is pretty to look at.

If you have the time, and lower your expectations, I'm going to say... sure, check it out.

Thursday, July 6, 2017

War for the Planet of the Apes

I'm super excited.

This is the third, and supposedly finally, film in this franchise. That's sad, but it is supposed to be a trilogy, after all, and honestly, a good ending is necessary if you're going to complete the story, so... sad, but good. Of course, endings mean very little in Hollywood, the story will go on, especially if something hits. Not that I expect this film to be a hit. This franchise must do all right, I mean, they've made three of them, but I don't really hear people talk about these films much. People like me do, of course, but not regular people. Not really. 

Do the mainstream crowds watch these films?

I don't think so.

At least, not as much as they should, because somehow, surprisingly, against all odds and expectations, these new PLANET OF THE APES films are amazing. Somehow, incredibly, while FOX Studios has been busy crapping on the X-Men franchise, and backing ridiculously bad ideas like ID4 Part 2 or Trolls, or pushing hollow garbage like The Revenant, the Planet of the Apes reboot/prequels have quietly become the best big budget film series they've got going. 

The films look good. The effects are amazing, and only surpassed by the incredible performances. Andy Cerkis really needs an Oscar for his various Mo-cap performances... in fact, the Oscars need an Oscar for best Mo-cap performance too. The scripts are smart. They're well-written. They have something to say. Sure, Apes with machine guns are inherently silly, I know, but in these films, they're powerful, believable, fully realized 3-D characters. AND besides all of that, the movies are action-packed and super-explodey, in short... tons of fun. Hands down, these are great movies. I'm a big fan of this franchise, old and new. 

I've talked about them before now... a lot.

And now there's a new one coming out. Here's the synopsis: After the apes suffer unimaginable losses, Caesar wrestles with his darker instincts and begins his own mythic quest to avenge his kind.

Now, that's a really short, really shitty, really vague synopsis, and that's usually a red flag, but I've glimpsed a few more complete summaries other places, so I'm not worried about this film having a weak story. I'm not going to post those synopsises, because I want to stay a little ignorant of the entire plot, so you'll just have to trust me, or go hunt them down yourself. But basically what I'm saying here is... I've heard really good things.

Let's check out the trailers. I've posted a couple...

Oh, man... It's looks so dark and grim, and yet it still has a Chimpanzee holding a machine gun. What more can you ask for? The imagery on display here just makes me want to kiss my fingers as if I was tasting a particularly delicious meal... MWah! Plus, Woody Harrelson as The Colonel? That's just extra awesome.

I love it. LOVE IT!

They've finally made a monkey out of me,

WAR FOR THE PLANET OF THE APES opens on July 14th. Get hyped!