April 24, 2011

Rust Valley

Movie Review By: Mr. Roboto

Year: 2011

Directed by: Andrew Bond & John Whoriskey

Written by: Ryan Dolton

Degree of Cyberpunk Visuals: High

Correlation to Cyberpunk Themes: Moderate

Key Cast Members:

  • James Donner: Mike Orie
  • Ora: Nadine Avola
  • Rating: 7 out of 10

    Rust Valley - 35mm short. from RDolton on Vimeo.

    Overview: Our forum member Burnt Lombard brought this net short to my attention earlier this week. Actually, I had a bookmark to it on Vimeo for a while, but that version is now password locked. More recently, I seen the trailer for it on Kovac’s screener of UCF: Abstract Messiah. Now that I’ve invested the 17.5 minutes to watch, I got to give Lombard his creds for getting me to watch. Imagine, if you will, a little of what a live-action System Shock movie could be like…

     

    The Story: ASEMS pilot James Donner has spent the past 1000+ days (3 years) in space and is now on his way home for some hard-earned R-and-R. Then he gets a call from some corporate dick:

    Donner gets a call.

    “We’ve been out of contact with the Valley Isis colony for eight months now. We just received a distress signal and…”


    So much for vay-kay. Against his better judgement, Donner boards the colony when he hears a female survivor, Ora, over his radio.

    Ora

    I’d rescue that for a dollar!


    When Donner finds Ora, that when he has to make a choice…

     

    But, is it cyberpunk? Rust Valley has been tagged as cyberpunk on Vimeo, and it does make its case well. We have the ASEMS corp, though the full extent of their power and influence wasn’t revealed. There’s a bit of man-machine fusion (won’t say where due to spoiler possibility). But it’s the visuals that makes the short cyberpunk. Let’s just say that there’s a reason why it’s called RUST Valley.

    Onboard Valley Isis

     

    The audience is now deaf. Being an amateur production, and shot on 35mm film, some technical glitches are expected. But when you have to turn up the volume to hear the monitor voices, you might want to consider amplifying the microphones for the monitor actors.

    UPDATE: Burnt Lombard has uploaded the official video on Vimeo, with improved audio. It’s a bit different in other ways as well, but with the improved audio I’ve decided to upgrade its rating to 7.

     

    Conclusion: While not the most polished production, this short still manages to make for good cyberpunk viewing. And for a bonus, there’s an alternate ending that was supposed to be the original ending. This could make for a good feature… just pray that it doesn’t become the next Snakes On A Plane.

    This post has been filed under Cyberpunk movies from 2010 - 2019, Amateur Film Production, Internet Short, AI (no body) by Mr. Roboto.

    April 14, 2011

    UCF: Abstract Messiah

    Movie Review By: Mr. Roboto

    Year: 2011

    Directed by: Laszlo Kovacs

    Written by: Laszlo Kovacs

    ** No IMDB Data Available **

    Degree of Cyberpunk Visuals: Moderate

    Correlation to Cyberpunk Themes: High

    Key Cast Members:

  • Sue: Lisa Dee
  • Jazz: Andrew Hookway
  • Marshall Pax: Bryan Patrick Stoyle
  • Professor Michael Vanguard: Michael O’Hear
  • Enoch Crom: Timothy Dugan
  • Voros Farkash, Fallen Soldier, & Luddite Militia Member: Laszlo Kovacs
  • Rating: 6 out of 10

    Overview: Our resident Cecil B. DeMille, Lazlo Kovacs, and his pals at Key Pixel have brought us the follow-up to the short underground fave UCF: Toronto Cybercide. The second chapter, Abstract Messiah, continues the story of Toronto’s rebuilding struggles as a new enemy come to the forefront determined to stop the cyborgs.

    Kovacs said that the movie was about 98% complete and wanted to send a screener to preview. From what I’ve seen, it looks fairly ready for prime-time. Like many low-budget films, there are some issues to deal with, but they’re easy to overlook as long as you’re not expecting Blade Runner-quality fare.

    duct-tape.jpg

    Duct tape is just a good as a band-aid.

    The Story: Pax is called back to Toronto to retrieve the body of his former partner, and gets to meet up with his UCF mentor, a history professor. The professor is reported as kidnapped when he misses an appointment. Pax and company are called in to investigate when a member of the Luddites is considered the prime suspect. The investigation leads the UCF team to a prison for cyborgs where the Luddites plan to use the inmates in their ultimate plan; To use retrieve the nanotechnology in Pax’s deceased partner.

     

    The game. A recurring theme is the chess game; Specifically, how the action is equivalent to moves and counter-moves on a chess board.

    If that’s true then Equilibrium’s gun-fu scenes should be considered hands of Texas Hold-Em.

    Seriously, every action movie would like to be compared to chess; That all the gun-play and violence has some intellectual reason and not just eye candy. For Abstract Messiah, they take the comparison to a new level starting with a real chess match between Pax and his Foundation mentor.

    UCF Chess Game

    “While you were watching us learn, we were watching you teach.”


    Such back and forth banter isn’t uncommon in action movies, as each side tries to impart their vision to the other. But when the two are bitter rivals, diametrical opposites of each other, that’s when the chess game quickly becomes an NBA-style trash talk fest, right before everyone STFU and lets their guns speak for them. Fortunately, Abstract Messiah doesn’t get to the trash-talk even though Crom does come off as the right-wingnut zealot type (nicely played). In fact, I keep getting this feeling that this movie is just one minor move in a much larger game.

     

    Knuckle dusted. If there was a major problem with Abstract Messiah, it was the fight scenes. The fisticuffs weren’t all that convincing, but when a limited budget limits the use of professional stunt people you just have to use what you got and keep them safe for a possible part three.

    Luddite Leader Enoch Crom

    “The Luddites refuse to be slaves to the cybernetic machines, and I refuse to continue being a slave to the machinations of the Foundation.”

    Conclusion: Since the original UCF short was released back in ‘06 there was a call for more of the Luddites. This should satisfy them for a good 80 minutes as the Luddites are now front and center.

    Everyone should consider getting Abstract Messiah even if just to support indie movie makers like Key Pixel. Even with amateurish production on a shoe-string budget they still manage to make a movie that’s more watchable than what some major distributors with trillion-dollar purses have been cranking out lately.

    One has to wonder what UCF 3 would be like, especially if they get a larger budget. Dare to dream… until Kovacs sends a PM saying he has a screener ready to preview.

    This post has been filed under Amateur Film Production, Cyberpunk movies from 2010 - 2019, Cyberpunk Review Exclusive, Upcoming Movies, Dystopic Future Movies, 6 Star Movies, Man-machine Interface, Good low-budget movies by Mr. Roboto.

    WordPress database error: [You have an error in your SQL syntax; check the manual that corresponds to your MySQL server version for the right syntax to use near '' at line 1]
    SELECT COUNT(ID) FROM

    Made with WordPress and the Semiologic CMS | Design by Mesoconcepts