Short Film Find: Kenobi – A Star Wars Fan film

Kenobi – A Star Wars Fan film

  • Director: Jason Satterlund (JasonSatterlund.com
  • Writer: Rob Harmon
  • Producer: James McLean & Jamie Costa
  • Published: Dec 24, 2019
  • NOTE: This is a fan film with no official affiliation to Lucasfilm/Disney.

Synopsis: Set before the events of Star Wars: Episode IV, a New Hope, an old Jedi Knight resides on the desert planet of Tatooine. His final duty, watch over, protect a special young boy, from a distance in secret. Agents of the sinister Galactic Empire arrive, to impose their presence and scout the area. What follows, is a danger for the New Hope, perhaps forcing the Knight to reveal himself.

Personal Thoughts:

Hello there!”

I’m a sucker for anything with the Star Wars label on it. All of it stems from my love of the original movies, and then the immense amount of world-building done via the expanded universe entertainments, then the Prequel trilogy movies…which I have a love/hate relationship too. I would have almost grown tired of it since the overhyped newer movies, if not for the wonderful books, games, TV series spinoffs (huge shout out to the Clone Wars, and Rebels animated series).

But the fan films, and dedication by fans to tell Star Wars stories in their own special way, has kept the spirit of the Rebellion alive. It’s the homegrown nature of it all, that I love and feel open to surprises. Kenobi – A Star Wars Fan Film fits with that tradition, making another memorable piece of many since the days of Troops and Dark Redemption.

Actor Jamie Costa as Kenobi, surprises with a performance that have Sire Alec Guinness and Ewan McGregor nod in appreciation. There shows his stoic character with gained wisdom, resorting to non-violence until the tense last minute, where he carefully weighs the stakes. The Empire, as represented here continues to show the true villainy of a fascist, oppressive regime (though a little of it feels cartoonish). There also shows the relationship between Obi-Wan and the Lars…strained and conflicted on the life of Luke, and also well-acted. All resulting in action, and tension, and that when added to the relationship of characters, is what Star Wars is half about.

The other half is cool mechanical and creature/alien designs, and related details not quote shown in Kenobi. For the elements in Kenobi, and the totalness that is the Star Wars universe is shown well with the Disney+ hit, The Mandalorian (which to me comes off as another great fan film with each episode, if I didn’t know any better).

I enjoyed this Kenobi film, especially for its pacing and build. The film directors and writers of the recent films could learn by watching this film and others, where dedication and love for the franchise could inspire better overall construction. This is a pleasant reminder, that the Force of the galaxy is strongest, with its fans.

Short Film Find: Untogethered by Ryan Chatfield

Untogethered

  • Director, Writer: Ryan Chatfield
  • Producer: Amy Rockman
  • Published: Jan 17, 2019 via the DUST Youtube channel

Synopsis: “A hacker named Quinn infiltrates a cult, who are slowly killing off its members, in order to save her estranged sister, Harper. Untogethered is a sci-fi/action/drama about a hacker named Quinn who seeks to rescue her terminally ill sister, Harper, who is deeply involved cult named Sacred Paradise, who claim to grant their who claim to grant their members access to the mythical paradise called Evila. Quinn infiltrates the cult and ventures into a virtual reality world to find her sister. With difficulty, Quinn convinces Harper to follow her as they traverse the fantasy world while being chased down by virtual security and the cult leader, Mother, in order to find their way back to reality.”

Personal Thoughts:

I love little stories of the extent of total immersion technology could take us, which are usually never good. So, they become weird cautionary tales, but sometimes saved by a hero like Kevin Flynn, James Murdoch, or Neo.

Which brings to mind this short, which could have taken an entire movie length, but shortened to some decent action and key plot points towards a somewhat satisfiable end for the protagonists. I like the production for its use of VFX, colors, and music. But, I felt it could use a little more story. But that would take more time, and away from the “short.” Perhaps, I was thinking more than I should here…

While watching, I ponder on how far will technology giants in the future go in promoting immersive tech, towards the control of consumers into these special “cults.” Some video games are starting on this now but not quite VR. Take the game Fortnite, for example. It’s initially a free game that takes users into this paradise of fun, expansive usability, leading them to want more and sacrifice piles of earned money in the real world for “V-Bucks”, into more involvement of the artificial life. Fortnite has made for than 2.4 billion US dollars in 2018. The collected hours of its many users, from both the time earned into purchasing the V-Bucks and the game itself, can be put into many lifetimes now.

Or maybe, this is just a short and cheesy sci-fi film warning us of nothing.

Short Film Find: Blade Runner – The Aquarelle Edition

Blade Runner – The Aquarelle Edition

  • Animator: Anders Ramsell
  • Published: Nov 8, 2013
  • Source: http://www.andersramsell.com
  • Note: Music and dialogue from original Blade Runner film

Synopsis: “This animation consists of 12 597 handmade aquarelle paintings, each painting is approximately 1,5*3cm in size. Together they form my 35-minute long paraphrase on the motion picture Blade Runner (1982) by Ridley Scott.”

Personal Thoughts:

Today, Blade Runner reaches its 35th anniversary of it original première date in 1982. The film may seem a bit lengthy and dry to some, with themes that go beyond your typical science fiction films of its time, including religious and philosophical symbolism, overreaching globalization, environmentalism. Such is much to take in, for those looking for more meaning in their imaginative storytelling. But I think the real cultural impact of this film, stays with the amazing visual direction, cinematography, set designs, and soundtrack. Such would influence and inspire countless persons towards creating their own dystopian visions and building upon the cyberpunk movement for decades after.

Meanwhile, this Aquarelle Edition is a beautiful and moving tribute to the original visuals of the film, breaking down the shapes and colors into stunning paintings. After 35 years, the original Blade Runner film will continue to inspire new generations to build upon it, and find their own artistic interpretations.

With that inspiration in mind, check out this trailer by the same animator Anders Ramsell, Genderness; done in the same style and narrated by Rutger Hauer….

Viz Media releases ‘K: Missing Kings’ anime film for DVD/Blu-ray

Viz Media released today K: MISSING KINGS as a Blu-ray/DVD Combo Pack and as a Standard Edition DVD Set.

The story follows one year after the original, recent K anime series. The further continuation follows from ViZ Media:

“In K: MISSING KINGS, Silver Clan members Kuro and Neko are on a mission to find their king, Shiro, who went missing after the battle on the School Island involving four of the seven colored kings. During their search, the two discover that Red Clan member Anna Kushina has become the target of the mysterious Green Clan, which intends to use the girl’s special power to track down Shiro. Now the Silver Clan and Red Clans find themselves joining forces to protect Shiro and Anna from this new threat. But will this unexpected alliance be enough to counter the Green Clan’s top fighters, as well as its king?”

The English dub English voice cast includes Sam Riegel as Yashiro Isana, Matt Mercer as Kuro Yatogami, and Stephanie Sheh as Neko.

The Blu-ray/DVD Combo Pack is set at $29.98 U.S, $34.99 CAN, featuring full 1080p HD resolution, 16×9 video with character bio gallery and trailers. The Standard Edition DVD is $19.98 U.S. / $24.99 CAN.

Funimation Films presents new ‘Your Name’ English dub trailer

Your Name, will be will be debuting in North American theaters on April 7, 2017, presented by Funimation Films.

Directed by Makoto Shinkai, the film tells a story about two high schoolers who continue to switch bodies on random nights. Eventually, their lives are intertwined and they connect. The film originally opened in Japan in 2016, becoming the country’s highest-grossing film of that year.

Funimation will present be two versions, an English-language dub (English voiceovers) and Japanese original language with English subtitles. Funimation Entertainment will also feature an all-new English-language soundtrack created by award-winning Japanese band RADWIMPS, the composers behind the original Japanese film soundtrack. The theatrical release will be very limited, to select theaters. Advance ticketing and more info is now available at its official site via at Funimation.com.

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Short Star Wars Fan Film: Rebel Scum

Rebel Scum

  • Director, Writer: Timothy Van Nguyen
  • Production Company; Blood Brother Cinema
  • Publish Date: January 9, 2016 – Time: 9.07
  • Notes: For more info, visit bloodbrothercinema.com

Synopsis :

“A Rebellion pilot is hounded by death from the merciless Empire and a frozen grave, after being abandoned during the retreat of the Rebel Alliance from Hoth. Rebel Scum pays homage to the original Star Wars trilogy; nearly all visual effects were created without the use of CGI, using time honored methods such a stop-motion animation. Shot on location in -30°C (-22°F) at Columbia Icefield in Alberta Canada.”

Personal Thoughts:

This is fantastic work, especially with the cinematography.

The stop motion on the Imperial Probe Droid is a great throwback to the early Empire Strikes Back special effects use. Its mechanical movements, ominous floating, and the sound effects are well-played. The AT-ATs were also well done in detail and motion, but not as awesome creepy as the Probe Droid.

The story itself is a cool little tale, well done for one using no words. A favorite thing about the latest Star Wars movie (The Force Awakens), was the little insight of a soldier’s POV in the intergalactic conflicts. After the Clone Wars, they must have personal struggles as well, and must ponder just how high in duty they take their cause to live and fight.

In Rebel Scum, we a nice example of a Rebel fighter. He is also a family man, with extra motivation to survive in the Hoth wilderness. The Imperial soldier is a perfect contrast, clean-cut and cold as the icy planet itself. Her darkened eyes and deathly skin gives off a hateful vibe, perhaps thinking the Rebel fighters as ungrateful troublemakers. To suddenly miss and be shot by one, is a humiliation to her.

The conclusion leaves much open. Will the Rebel soldier as an Imperial sabotage from within, steal some secrets, and return to his family? Can the Imperial soldier now trapped in the Rebel fatigues survive the Probe Droid and “join” the Rebellion? While the answers are best left to the viewer, I would much welcome an extension to the story by the filmmakers here.

Overall, Rebel Scum is a now a personal favorite among the Star Wars fan films out there. I am also turned to other works by Blood Brother Cinema, which now have my interest on bloodbrothercinema.com.

 

– Orion T

Short Animated Science Fiction Film – NO-A

NO-A

  • Director: Liam Murphy
  • Time: 5:32
  • Notes: For more info, visit noafilm.org.

Synopsis :

“Award winning graduation film NO-A completed at the Savannah College of Art and Design by a core team of 8 students.

The world is a desolate, unforgiving place in this action sci-fi with a surprising amount of heart. We follow NO-A (Noah), as he attempts to rescue Aixa, the young woman that created him. In his desperate attempt to save her, he must face an unknown enemy force and fight to keep them both alive. NO-A is the passion project of several visual effects artists from around the world.”

Personal Thoughts:

A fantastic short of science fiction, worth the thousands of minutes of work put into just over five.

The story is brilliant in its pacing and presentation, as it leaves a little guesswork by the viewer on the robot’s initial motivations. We get pieces of a larger story, to which we can easily speculate. The intrigue leads to the robot in rescuing its creator, captured and put into some deep sleep for unknown reasons.

What we do know is that this machine is full of heart and love for his master, and little for the soldiers against him. The robot’s characteristics and motions are poetic almost, with determination to the end. The action sequences are exciting but not overdone, as emotional aspects throughout are good and balances. We also see beautiful cinematography, with moments to take in the details and depth of the surroundings.

The content brings me to a favorite trope of science fiction, artificial life. We have much artificial sentience in our robot fiction, yet still not enough exploring the idea. I find often in robot stories, that robots are either good or bad. The idea can be dangerous now, as warned by Stephen Hawking, Elon Musk, Bill Gates. Yet, with stories like Wall-E, Short Circuit, Chappie, Terminator 2, A.I; we have robots who choose upon a greater good for peace and friendship. However in storytelling, such choices are up to the creators who present them. Results can result in thought-provoking discussion on what it means to be really human, or at least achieve such.

The art and filmmaking of NO-A is superb with sharp attention to details, environments, and motion. The robot’s design is beautiful, as we see the moving parts and working lights of NO-A, with sensible movement and a feeling of weight in every step. Everything to him and around seems practically and necessary in design for a believable story. The musical score and sound effects are a great fit, further enthralling the viewer.

Do I want more from the short time? No, as I think the story is great in its simplicity. The rest of the world is probably uninteresting and boring. However, I would like to see more animated work from director Liam Murphy and his staff. It’s their kind of heartfelt storytelling brought to the top-notch visual effects and sequences, that I would like to see more in modern cinema science fiction.

– Orion T

Short Animated Film: Wire Cutters

Wire Cutters

  • Director: Jack Anderson
  • Musical Score: Cody Bursch
  • Time: 8:42
  • Published: Aug 31 2015 (on Youtube), August 27, 2015 (Youtube)
  • Notes: For more, visit jackanders.com.

Synopsis : “A chance encounter proves fateful for 2 robots mining on a desolate planet.

Personal Thoughts:

I love this humorous robot tale, for what it means to be human..or at least have human-like characteristics.

That is the beauty of this short, more so than the fantastic animation at play. I felt taken in by the initially simple, content purpose of this little robot. I felt, as I do for many simple humans leading their boring little lives. Also, we as viewers can reflect on what we leave behind and pass on to our machines; our creativity, innovation, and motivation. There is self-sustainment and preservation. Much thought went into collecting those rocks.

But eventually, we meet the bigger machine. A partnership is formed, leading to a friendship. But all does not go well, as we find an error in the little bot’s programming. There is a bit of greed and violent tendency, enough for the cooperation to fail and lead to the doom of both. It’s not so much depressing, but some thoughts on what we as humans can do to damage our own generational programming of self-preservation and purpose.

The animation tells this story beautifully. There is simplicity in this otherworldly environment devoid of humans, perhaps long gone. We understand the technology involved, atmospheric conditions, and importance of the rocks given value through purpose. The excellent cinematography takes advantage of that well, with matched pacing and editing. The short time tells as much of a good story as necessary, without overwhelming the viewer. And, the looney tuned style end is a perfect curtain call, as we can smile and take in this cautionary tale.

With that in mind, I would love to see more from the storyteller (Jack Anderson) and his team. I will keep a look out, and report back.

– Orion T

Short Animated Film: Venner / Two Friends

To Venner / Two Friends

  • Director: Paw Charlie Ravn
  • Producer: Jacob Jerek
  • Time: 8 min.
  • Published: Sept 10 2010 (Denmark) by Profile Pictures
  • Notes: In association with the National Film School of Denmark. See the official web page, tovenner.blogspot.com for more info.

Synopsis : “Albert and his best friend Jonas are orphans. They live in the future in a harsh dystopia where the women and children are all dead. The men have begun to change in their yearning for a woman..”

Personal Thoughts:

Captivating story, that centers not on horror but a thought-provoking coming of age tale for two children as they survive through a troubled world.

The animation is fluid and atmospheric. The uses of shadows and light are very masterful, fantastic in establishing setting and mood. I would otherwise find the entire premise a bit absurd and unbelievable as I have many questions to exactly how we accept this disturbing vision. Yet, the awesome backdrops in the aged architecture mixed with abandonment established mystery and fantasy; setting us apart from what we would consider is normally considered a dystopia in other post apocalyptic dramas. This world, no matter its creepiness and dangers, feels oddly captivating.

The use of some very adult visual elements, furthers this story’s dark narrative. The disturbing smelling of the rag, the group longing for female flesh; very creepy and sick to some point..as I ponder if man’s devolving is something broken in our design, or something primal in those present and collective testosterone levels. Would this situation be the same if it were the men who vanished, and the women stayed? Are there women perhaps out there, hidden in secret? The children had to have been born from a mother. In the short time they grew up, there couldn’t be that much of a change in these menkind.

The ending is perhaps the quite puzzling. A demand perhaps for a full film comes to mind. However, I also like the novelty of this short film that keeps me guessing. Either way, the storytelling and visual presentation is awesome. I would look forward to any projects with the creators involved here, whether or not a return to this interesting narrative follows.

– Orion T

Short Film Find: State Zero by Andrée Wallin

State Zero – post apocalyptic short by Andrée Wallin from Andree Wallin on Vimeo.

State Zero – post apocalyptic short by Andrée Wallin

  • Director, Writer: Andrée Wallin
  • Producer: Claire Fleming
  • Published: May 4, 2015
  • Source: www.statezeromovie.com

Synopsis (from the Youtube site): “In the near future, the capital of Sweden has turned into a post-apocalyptic wasteland. We join four soldiers on a routine mission in ‘Zone 3’, with the assignment to investigate an old surveillance tower that just went offline. That’s the setting in first-time director Andrée Wallin’s short film. With Andrées direction, renowned visual concepts and designs, this short film is something extraordinary. Produced by Claire Fleming, the film was shot in London with an international cast, while all exteriors were shot in Stockholm. With incredible CGI and VFX by Bläck, this looks like an excerpt from a big budget blockbuster.”

Personal Thoughts:

State Zero is fantastic and professional work, and enough to keep this science fiction fan in suspense.

The visuals are near perfection, as almost no shot goes unwasted in presenting the mood and sequence of events. The special effects seem practical, to not so much wow the viewer, but keep up a believable setting and situation. We have this outside world of “present day” Stockholm, Sweden; a mesh of a familiar world gone astray, still for reasons unclear. The effects of decay, and nature reclamation show through great scans and beautiful filmography; especially from above and afar. The interiors show enough curiosity for us to explore with the cast; where if not for duty, this would be fun with all the mystery of the creepiness that happened before. I feel every light source, every space of abandoned equipment, the use of darkness are examples of great cinematography.

The military tech seems practical, and well prepared before any players to begin their slow descent into some survival horror 1st person mode. However, I am glad the movie did not go wasted into some long stereotypical gaming cut scene type. We do not know much on the persons involved in this mission, other than their purpose and drive to see matters done to their completion. This is enough, as I look on with personal interest. We finally meet the humanoid creatures, perhaps responsible for civilization’s decline, or taking advantage of it. Either way, they look awesome in their creepiness and digital-aided effects.

The story setting itself, not so much original. It sticks to a premise that usually works well. A post-apocalyptic world, now slowly regressing back. Leftover humans must organize and fight back together, probably. All the thrills are here with a civilization slowly taken back by nature, where our first world problems are finally put to rest. The clues to what may have happened are there, though not explained. What may have happened, could be explained by the inhumane human engineering done in the beginning, brought up later in the end. It’s creepy stuff, and believable as scientific experimentation and augmentations are being done today. This leads upon the science fictions to give us subtle warnings on the dangerous unknowns we face, should we continue.

Now, the better part of this story I enjoy is near its ending, as we slowly understand there may be more to some monsters than meets the eye. Sure, we have some sort of military strategy, and some tech to handle it all. But what about these creatures? They seem to show more humanity to the regular humans than what was initially planned for them. Do this new world belong to them, or will be forgiveness and understanding to perhaps correct the mistakes that brought them there? Hard to say in such a short film, but the changing point in this does leave room for questions.

State Zero is brilliant, and thoughtful. I would love another short film set in this world, perhaps giving a different view expanding upon the themes of this video. If not, then at least more excellent work from Andrée Wallin as director and writer.

– Orion T