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: Volume 1: ZYGOTE, a sci-fi horror directed by Neill Blomkamp

Zygote: Volume 1

  • Director: Neill Blomkamp
  • Published: Sunday, July 12, 2017 on youtube.com
  • Source: oatsstudios.com
  • Time: 22:23
  • Note: “Volume 1” with Zygote includes other short films available to watch online, directed by Neill Blomkamp (District 9, Chappie). Support for volume 2 calls for fan support, of which can be helped through the purchases of its DLC digital assets (video files, D assets, script, concept art). Visit oatstudios.com for more info.

Synopsis:

Oats Studios and filmmaker Neill Blomkamp are pleased to announce the latest short film in the Oats Studios Volume I anthology, ‘Zygote’. Starring Dakota Fanning, a few people find themselves fleeing a creature made of human body parts.

Personal Thoughts: 

A good creepy short, with nothing too complex in social commentary, or too dumbed down for an average schlock horror. The set-up is unexciting, as mining colony’s in science fiction usually mean nothing good for anyone. Still, there is hope between the main characters, in a set-up that gives a little back story of the horror unleashed. The creature itself is scary, though at times feels a combination of John Carpenter’s The Thing, a monster from a sci-fi anime, and a bad dream. Such works well, for being in a low-budget short film. What works better, is the frantic danger that seems ever-present from the beginning, carried on by the pounding score and blinking, flickering lights. The interaction between the two main characters presents the futile hope that both can perhaps make it, but predictable only one in the end. I chuckled, where Dakota Fanning’s character tries out different fingers of the monster.

Otherwise, a good short of which I think is great for an anthology set. The rest I have not seen. Enjoying this quality, and being a big fan of Neill Blomkamp’s District 9, I will check out the rest and likely support his Volume 2 anthology.

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….

Short Film Find: BIOPUNK, a concept short set in dystopian London

BIOPUNK

 

  • Director and story: Liam Garvo, Screenplay: Andrew Harmer
    Producer: James Heath
  • Published: Sunday, June 5, 2017 on vimeo.com
  • Source: dresdenpictures.com
  • Time: 6:19
  • Note: Biopunk began as a Kickstarter project, funded successfully. Details here.

Synopsis:

Set in a dystopian London in 2054, the world has been ravaged by a virus that has killed billions and caused part of the remaining population to mutate into something other than human. BIOPUNK is a proof of concept short for a feature film. Starring Katie Sheridan as Resha, Charlie Jones as Edwin, Benjamin Tuttlebee as Kio, Robert Nairne as the Preacher and Kristian Nairn as Bob.

Personal Thoughts: 

Damn it, that video was too short. I enjoyed the visual cinematics and editing, and especially the story. I want more of this story and more of this kind post-apocalyptic telling of small-scale living and social commentary. While there is a hint of horror and action, I felt more engaged with the good and bad habits of humanity remaining constant, and the survivalist elements intact. I hope there will be a BIOPUNK full-length feature film for at least as a short-release indie title, with much of the cast here involved.

Short Animated Film Find: CLEANER by Sung Hwan Lee

CLEANER

 

NOTE: Subtitles may not appear. If needed, click on the subtitles/closed caption logo at the bottom of the screen.

  • Director: Sung Hwan Lee
  • Music: Justin Oh
  • Artwork:  Choo Soo Hyun, Kim Do Hyung
  • Published: Sunday, April 5th 2017 on youtube.com
  • Produced by Studio Shelter, South Korea facebook.com/studioshelter

Synopsis: ““The future of the flood due to the overflow of waste and environmental pollution. Machine robots that try to eliminate human beings who are responsible for pollution. A lonely hero, ‘cleaner,’ who lives for survivors.”

Personal Thoughts: 

Very over the top, and enjoyable as a short action piece. I also like the music. Yet, something more with the sort of parody of hero-worship here, suggests the olympian feats are just the outer later. Beneath, is complexity and want to maintain youthfulness in a world gone harsh and emptied. There is strange joy in not being lonely after losing his loved ones, with possible hallucinations in the weird talking things, and eventually another human. The cleaning equipment is cool in use as silly playthings. I like the idea of robots hunting humans for the crimes of pollution, as it is they who also see themselves as “cleaners.” It all works out, strangely.

Short Film Find: STRANGE BEASTS, augmented reality gone too far?!

Strange Beasts

 

  • Director, Writer, Producer: Magali Barbé
  • Published: Sunday, March 19th on vimeo.com
  • Source: magalibarbe.com
  • Time: 5:19

Synopsis: “A sci-fi short about augmented reality. “Strange Beasts” is an augmented reality game. It allows you to create and grow your own virtual pet. How far can it go?

Personal Thoughts: Creepy, because this fantasy is not far from reality. It’s got all the feel of an episode of Black Mirror, including a dark twist to the end. The far effects of this AR and eventual VR would be interesting to the effect of one’s mental health and long-term sanity. The loneliness at the end has me pondering, what if more people engaged in this AR game? I think back to the silly episode of Star Trek: The Next Generation (“The Game“). That and this situation seems dark and creepy, but at least the victims are happy, right?!

Image Comics brings parallel-Earth adventure in RETCON, this September

Writer Matt Nixon (Wolverine) and artist Toby Cypress (Rodd, Racer, Blue Estate) will team up for an all-new time-hopping paranormal series, Retcon, from Image Comics.

In Retcon, a group of paranormal adventurers faced with an impossible threat keep shutting down alternative timelines in order to prevent the ultimate destruction of the solar system. This is only to find themselves reinvented in a similar—albeit retconned situation—back in issue #1 on a parallel Earth, facing the same enemy.

“Artist Toby Cypress and I set out to make Retcon a ‘craft’ comic book,” said Nixon. “We took our time and made sure from layout to panel design to colors and letters—every piece fits, nothing was rushed. We made the best book that we could, and we believe it will find its audience.”

Cypress added, “Matt’s story is like David Lynch doing a few episodes of X-Files, it’s weird, over the top, and subtle all at once.”

RETCON #1 will hit stores this September 2017.

Stranger Reads – Comics Log 2017.4.14, Exciting Times…

The first week of April brought much joy to the comic stores around the world, with some damn fine reads. Some of which were fresh, exciting, and different. I also picked up continuing favorites, for which I always look forward too. Nothing bad, though the picks are not for everyone.

Below are my further notes on the following books (with minor spoilers). Read on!!!

RECENT COMICS, RELEASED 4/5/2017:

 

Extremity #2 (Image) by Daniel Warren Johnson, Mike Spicer

“Thea has taken her first step toward vengeance against the Paznina warlords who ruined her family. But this world offers more than vengeance as she discovers a new ally in the wreckage of the Rising Plains.”

A good followup to an excellent first issue. The second issue expands a bit more on the unforgiving world of the Rising Pains, expanding on the background losses of the first issue, an apparent retaliation for something yet clear. It would be almost depressing if not for the awesome fantasy visuals and mystery building. Though we get less of Leah during this issue, I am happy to see a bit more expanding on the character of Rollo. We also get a bit of the other side and deeper look at the ruling class. There is much development at play here, and looking forward to what may come of it. I also love the map at the end, putting the board in a sensible perspective.

Eleanor & the Egret #1 (Aftershock) by John Layman, Sam Keith

“The most daring art thief in Paris has struck again, and the police have assigned their best detective to the case. His only clue? A single white feather left at the scene. Could this feather belong to the thief? To the thief’s accomplice, an oversized talking egret? Or will his investigation lead him to somewhere even stranger? (Answer: all of the above.) Presenting a peculiar and unforgettable tale of birds and banditry, paintings and pets, larceny, love and… lamprey-wielding assassins?

I love the hell out of this first issue, which combines the best of Layman’s narrative, meta-writing style with the gorgeous storytelling visuals of Sam Keith. I didn’t think this would work, but this first issue found me eating my words. The character of Eleanor is a fascinating and mysterious one, as an art thief that only a persistent detective could expect. The egret is a fantastic avian criminal, with the taste in art (heheh). The introduction to the key players is perfect, without giving too much away. I leave myself to only guess where this story could go; as also the first issue ends too soon, leaving me begging for more. Definitely check this one, if wanting something a little different.

Paper Girls #13 (Image) by Brian K. Vaughan, Cliff Chiang

“Trapped in the distant past, KJ discovers something shocking about the future.”

More adventure, more mystery, more intriguing pieces to a very big puzzle, with more questions than answers. And also, more character development than the last arc for sure (especially with that ending). But, I think what is really working for me more than ever is the outstanding art by Cliff Chiang, combined with some truly superb coloring. There seems some very deep thought put into each panel, with each stroke rather thick or thin to have some additive into the surreal situation of our misplaced Paper Girls. 

Rock Candy Mountain #1 (Image) by Kyle Starks

“SERIES PREMIERE Eisner-nominated comic creator, KYLE STARKS (SEXCASTLE), would like to invite you to enter the magical world of hobos. The world’s toughest hobo is searching through post-World War II America for the mythological Rock Candy Mountain, and he’s going to have to fight his way to get there. Lots of hobo fights. So many hobo fights. A new action-comedy series full of high action, epic stakes, magic, friendships, trains, punching, kicking, joking, a ton of hobo nonsense, and the Literal Devil. Yeah. The Literal Devil.”

Another pleasant oddity for this week in comic reading. Rock Candy Mountian has a bit of classic cartoonism to it, with a sort of play on familiar caricatures mixed with brilliant action at the end. The package is a ton of fireworks, with humorous and fun dialog sequences. Jackson the hobo is a great character, who comes off as a sort of guide to this strange world of hoboing. The color and inking speak for itself, adding thrills and excitement to the otherwise drab world. Such the book may not be for everyone, but those who enjoy great sequences with momentary meanings and humor may find it most welcoming. I do enjoythis.

Black Cloud #1 (Image) by Jason Latour, Ivan Brandon, Greg Hinkle, Matt Wilson

“Zelda was born in a world of dreams, and hers burned bigger than anyone had ever seen. Now she’s on the run in our world, the dreams broken in her hands. But the pieces are for sale, the rich and the powerful are buying, and suddenly her world isn’t the only place Zelda’s running from. From the creators that brought you Spider-Gwen, SOUTHERN BASTARDS, and DRIFTER, and the incredible colorist of THE WICKED + THE DIVINE, comes a place where dreams come true–and today, they go to war.”

This is an interesting book, for what it does to the reader in terms of narration and story dissection. It’s a story of someone born from a bigger story, and we meet Zelda; someone who others consider of no importance; yet through the narrative has great ties into something otherworldly and deeply imaginative. Zelda connected the two worlds together, for reasons not quite clear other than a sort of escapism into a sad exile of sorts into a world of modern sadness. Her and us readers fall into what could be mistaken for dreams but know there is something more. The art is special, though the sequences, later on, can be tricky; leading the reader to slow down and comprehend the strange structure of things. This can be a good, for many issues. We shall see.

The Flintstones #10 (DC) by Mark Russell, Steve Pugh

“Bedrock is in ruins and its citizens believe their mayor, Clod the Destroyer, is to blame! Meanwhile, Bamm-Bamm develops his first crush. Can his best friend Pebbles help him get the girl?”

The most topical issue yet, with the usual hard-hitting satire. Clod the Destroyer seeks to make Bedrock great again by declaring war upon the tree people. The result is hilarious connecting stuff from the earlier issues, as Clod seems to struggle with common sense and the repercussions of his actions. We also cut to the more local happenings in between, being the discovery of cinema and its impact upon daily lives. There is less emphasis on Fred’s personal struggles as he does his best to do the right thing while indulging in personal pleasures. But, the real heart string is the incredibly saga of Vacuum Cleaner, coming to a very sad end (though judging from earlier issues could mean the start of a household item revolution). The end is a tear jerker, leaving this reader feeling a bit emotional.

..

That’s all until next time. Did we miss any worthwhile reads on the latest shelves?  Do you have further thoughts on the books covered here? Leave a comment below!

 

 

Stranger Reads – Comics Log 2017.3.24, New Myths and Legends

More new comics from last week!

Among them, comes a variety of new visions based upon epic fantasy and fantastic concepts. Some are twistings of such, reaching into our childhood dreams and warping further the endless possibilities.

Below are my further notes on the following books that caught my interest (with minor spoilers)…

RECENT COMICS, RELEASED 3/15, 2017:


Neil Gaiman’s American Gods: The Shadows #1 (Dark Horse) by Neil Gaiman, P. Craig Russell, Scott Hampton

“WAR IS COMING! Shadow Moon just got out of jail, only to discover his wife is dead. Defeated, broke, and uncertain as to where to go from here, he meets the mysterious Mr. Wednesday, who employs him to serve as his bodyguard—thrusting Shadow into a deadly world of the supernatural, where ghosts of the past come back from the dead, and a brewing war between old and new gods hits a boiling point..”

Here is an adaptation on Neil Gaiman’s book, first published in 2001. I have mixed feelings about this, though I felt originally excited. Now, I feel somewhat mixed on this translation from lengthy text to sequential art. Perhaps, being an adaptation and relying upon the original work to tell a story feels a bit odd. Yet, I felt drawn because much time has passed since last read. Or perhaps, the established vision doesn’t quite match to my expectations. Also, there is a new television  series, of which I have similar feelings about.Yet, I really dig the art and balance of the story in its interpretation. The characterization and setting play true to the original story, but I feel something missing in what also feels like an abridged version. Yet, I feel interested in any artistic of mythological gods and monsters. The artwork of the interpretation is the book’s strength, as I feel in discovering more of such as the series continue. The story, not so much. I wish I was less familiar with the source material, to fully enjoy this.

Head Lopper #5 (Image) by Andrew Maclean

“NEW STORY ARC “IN THE SHADOW OF THE TOWER” Norgal and Agatha are back! A daring new adventure awaits, looming like the Crimson Tower, home of Ulrich the Twice Damned, sworn enemy of Zhaania Kota Ka. With old friends and new, our heroes boldly enter the bloodied pinnacle with bare steel and steady hearts. The quarterly series HEAD LOPPER has returned.”

This is my first read of Head Lopper, of which I came across from a friend’s purchase. From what I thoroughly enjoyed,  I definitely should go back on the earlier issues and check out this series. Though there is little I learned on the Head Lopper, his world is a fascinating set-up and cornucopia of discovery, just from this one issue. There is heavy magic, action, architecture, and odd concepts that defy any sort of genre stereotype.  I also like the odd humor and offbeat characters, giving this a sort of adventurous feel for the heart in knowing the surreal setups and fun characters. The jump on point still feels early, and the potential for far more is definitely ahead. I just need to go back a little first.

I Hate Fairyland #11 (Image) by Skottie Young

“NEW STORY ARC “CON GIRL” Gertrude is back in her hit-comedy/fantasy/all-out bloodbath of a comic, I HATE FAIRYLAND. Gert and Larry take a break from their normal questing and killing for some fun at Fairyland’s annual Dungeon Con.

I am much happy to see the return of Gert to the comic stands (after a short hiatus). This issue brings a bit of familiarity to the fantastical Fairyland, of which our perturbed protagonist visits an annual fantasy convention. The con itself is a mix of the gaming, sci-fi, fantasy, comic, and related geek culture gatherings that are now ingrained into the mainstream entertainment landscape. I enjoyed and related much to the hero-worship striking Gert and she finds herself at both ends of the fandom relationship. She again learns important lessons, and seemingly ever-growing as a result, while bonding deeper into the strange world less trapped in. The art is the usual mix of vibrant awesome. However, I notice more so from this issue, the developed mastery of Skottie Young’s artistic ability to bring about body form to exhibit character, with special attention to shape and expressions. His artwork is genius, and very underrated.

He-Man/Thundercats#4 (DC) by Rob David, Lloyd Goldfine, Freddie E. Williams II

“The epic series comes to the only conclusion possible: all-out war against Mumm-Ra and Skeletor! He-Man and Lion-O confront the diabolical duo in the heart of the magical, mystical Castle Grayskull, but the battle royal quickly expands across the multiverse itself

What ridiculous fan-service this series has become. As a fan of both cartoons based upon, I have gained much in the return of the guiltiest pleasure of my childhood, absurd fantasy concepts with the ridiculous high stakes and enduring heroism. Such is plenty here, but also the merging of Eternian and Thundarian fanfare. Much of which, I pondered by some in some dream after a heavy dose of Sunny-D and Fruit Roll-Ups. Meanwhile, artwork is very busy in trying to comprehend all, and has grown on me as the story progresses. The beastly concepts, especially of the supporting cast of good and evil is well-done. Anyway, the story reached its satisfiable conclusion, delivering all expected and much more.

That’s all until next time. Did we miss any worthwhile reads on the latest shelves?  Do you have further thoughts on the books covered here? Leave a comment below!

Orion T – SW chief writer and seeker of great comic books and all related wonderful things.