Thursday, July 27, 2017

Singularity







Today's short film is called Singularity.

Singularity was written by Ian Fried and Samuel Jorgensen (with some additional dialogue by Jeremy Pronk), and directed by Samuel Jorgensen. This trio is the usual mix of guys I've never heard of, from the Visual Effects Departments of some actually pretty impressive film projects, who are otherwise responsible for a smattering of short films that I'm not familiar with. 

Except for Ian Fried, that is.

Ian has a "story" credit, but not a "written by" credit, for the recent Netflix film Spectral. I have no idea what it is that determines that distinction, but whatever, it's still a pretty big credit. A big credit, but maybe not a very good one. I don't know... I don't want to say that Spectral is terrible, because I haven't seen it, but I also haven't heard anything good. Plus, Army guys versus Ghosts? C'mon...

So, that's a bad sign right at the start...

Here's the synopsis: In the midst of a war between humans and sentient androids, a Delta Force team must battle a dangerous enemy to rescue the US President.

Granted, that's a pretty short synopsis, which is usually a bad sign, but it should be noted that the synopsis does lay out the narrative pretty clearly, and the idea itself, while a tad basic, does sound kind of cool in an 80s sci-fi action kind of way, so...

Let's watch!


That was great.

Short and sweet, sure. A little overly familiar, maybe. But, at least in this case, those critiques seem overly harsh, and ignores what I think the creators' original intent was, which is to just tell a basic Men On A Mission action story. Simple, straightforward, and classic are not bad things, if you can stick the landing. So, yeah, you could make those claims, and you wouldn't be wrong, but in this case, I think the tight focus, the basic characterization, and the clear stakes work in the film's favor. And really, at a certain point, if you're looking for deeper characterization and larger worlds, then you need to go to Features.

All that aside... What is there to know beyond: War with the Machines. President shot down. Soldiers go in to save the President. Machines show up. Everybody fight.

Genre short films work best in smaller slices. They're meant to be vignettes, or short stories. And no matter what the topic, the simple truth is, the most important part of the film is what happens between the opening and closing credits, and not the stuff that is implied might be happening elsewhere, in a later episode, possibly. The reality of short films is that you're stuck in a box when you're making them, and time is not on your side, so you have to do the best you can with your limited space. The creators of this film are obviously aware of this, because they hit the ground running right away, the story/setting info is given quickly and succinctly, every character is clearly given a name, the geography of the action is simple to follow, and the effects are all good. For an eight minute short film about army guys versus robot killing machines, what more could you want?

Also, I really liked the kind of mass produced monster look of the robots. That was fun. I also liked the way they weren't focused too clearly on, at least not until later in the film. The World at War/Dystopian destruction was pretty good, as well.

All in all, I really liked this one. SINGULARITY is well-made and inventive, but it isn't trying to remake the wheel. It stays focused, and looks good while doing it. I'm all around impressed by their restraint as storytellers. In fact, I won't even begrudge them their little dangling future plot thread implication at the end.

Who knows, maybe there'll be more...
Jon


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