Archive for November, 2013

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Review: Silver Circle

November 12, 2013

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It was the best of times, it was the worst of times…who would have thought that an independent filmmaker would be able to produce an animated feature for less that $2 M? I’m going to try to give this film a fair shake, due to its groundbreaking nature – that the film got produced at all deserves kudos to the filmmakers.

Short plot summary: It’s 2019 and the USA is in the grip of some pretty strong inflation. Jay Nelson (De’Lon Grant), an arson investigator for the Strategic Housing Reserve (which is a subset of the Federal Reserve) needs to investigate why a “terrorist” would blow up one of the first developments SHR was responsible for, in order to protect Victor Brandt (Peter Berkrot) the Head of the Fed, and his upcoming lifetime appointment to same. Why is Zoe Taylor( Philana Mia) so interested in the investigation? And will they be able to steer clear of Brandt’s creepy fixer, Mr. Quill (Victor Shopov)?

I liked the way the inflation posited was depicted matter-of-factly: LED signs instantly updating the prices ($152.25 per gallon gas!) As an ice-breaker to a discussion of inflation, the movie should work well. Plotwise though, I’m not sure I’m buying that the Fed, which seems to be close to all-powerful in the film, would be quite so weak. We live, after all, in a regime that will almost routinely do extralegal things to the citizenry – they need to pussyfoot around in such a world? In the real world, they’d probably just shoot Nelson in the back of the head and dump him in the nearby river.

As far as production values, the production company, which is supposed to be based outside Boston, used a lot of Indian animators in making the film.  Knowing that, it’s a fun game trying to figure out where the money went. For an estimated $1.6M (at least partially raised through Kickstarter). the film looks OK, if not up to Pixar standards (my guess is Poser was used exclusively for the animation) – some movements that should be fast (say, a punch) seem to move very slowly. Also – shadows seem to be problematic. Shadows falling on faces seem to be realistic, shadows of a car outdoors seem almost non-existent.  Strange flickering on the shadows at times. The character design seemed a little elongated to my eyes, except for the heroes of the film – though that may have been an aesthetic decision by the filmmakers. Walls of people’s homes are mostly bare. I used to think that Lighting TDs in Pixar films were a bit redundant – not anymore. The lighting in most of the film is really flat, except for the end, where it did get a little more atmospheric. Where were the armies of Poser experts (like the artists at Renderosity.com) when this film was being made? Maybe the way the film Renaissance (2006) would have been the way to go? Or maybe some sort of “soft focus” filter?

I seem to remember reading about The Simpsons back in the day, that the show didn’t really take off until the writers understood that, being an animated show, they really weren’t constrained by budget. Anything they could think of could be presented in the show. I think this is the major flaw of this film – for the money that they spent, they could’ve gotten a lot more Dystopia for the dollar, as it were. I’d say rent it, if you’re interested.

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Just Because

November 12, 2013

Just Because

Me likee…