The FFOW! series takes a look at that vast library created by the proud and the passionate: fan films. Whether the budget and talent is astronomical or amateur, FFOW! celebrates the filmmakers whose love of comics, books, movies, video games, and TV shows inspires them to join the great conversation with their own homemade masterpieces.
Director Vincent Tran has gained momentum this past year thanks to his very successful Supergirl fan film, Girl of Steel. (You can read my review here). His modern interpretations of DC characters strips off the colorful costumes and replaces them with logical and emotional motivation. The same trend continues in his newest film, a spinoff set in the same Tran-verse of DC continuity that promises even better stories.
Spoofs and satires about third-rate superhero teams are considerably more common than you would think. Even spoof reality show about third-rate superhero teams have been done multiple times before. Because of that, if a film chooses to go that route, it really needs to be something special in order to make itself stand out, and I’m happy to report that Real Heroes succeeds on that front. It’s unique, fun, engaging, and often laugh-out-loud funny.
My first impression of the film, Hollows Grove, was that it’s sort of like The Blair Witch Project meets Tropic Thunder; however, while that’s essentially an accurate assessment, it’s also a bit misleading, as the association with Tropic Thunder implies that the film is a comedy, which it definitely isn’t. Still, it does share some elements in common with both movies.
Despite the title clearly aping that of Affleck’s thriller about a missing child, Gone Doggy Gone is not simply a parody of the aforementioned work. Instead, it examines LA dog culture through a loving, yet critical, lens while simultaneously weaving a tale of flawed individuals unknowingly searching for healing. It’s not always a perfect journey, and people who have never wholeheartedly loved a pet may find the characters pitiable rather than relatable, but it’s a satisfyingly heartwarming ride where the doggy star manages to steal her scenes, yet still function beautifully as a plot device. LA couple Elliott and Abby Harmon appear to have everything they could want: matching cars; a cute house perfect for hosting parties; and high powered jobs. Their only real quirk is their obsessive care of their Yorkie Laila who is pampered like a human infant and boasts more stylish clothing than a celebrity baby. Jill, the Harmon’s dog walker/baby sitter, seems just as nutty for the tiny canine, happily referring to Laila as her BFF and using the tiny dog as a substitute for her lack of fulfilling human relationships. When the beloved canine disappears while in Jill’s care, the Harmons fly into a frenzy to get their “baby” back, regardless of the toll it may take on their ties to each other and everyone around them.
Last night at King King in Hollywood, CA, the Kickstarter-funded short film The Bigfoot Hunters held its premiere to a raucous crowd. The evening was a great success; well attended by a mix of cast, crew, friends, and Kickstarter backers and coupled with a red carpet entryway and the eclectic rock/country sounds of The LA Hootenanny, the energy of the premiere had the crowd amped even before the film began. As if icing on the cake, the film itself was the climax of the evening, receiving cheers and laughs from an enthusiastic audience.
Pink Zone takes the popular “Young Adults in a Dystopian Future” genre and does it on a shoestring budget. It’s certainly not The Hunger Games, but it’s a good reminder of how a filmmaker can turn a little into a lot, with just a bit of creativity.
Indestructible, from Darby Pop Publishing, explores the notion of superheroes as celebrities. It’s an idea that plenty of other comics (and other media) have touched on before, but perhaps none quite so in-depth as this one. In the world of superheroes, those who use their powers for fame and fortune, instead of altruistically helping the helpless, are generally portrayed as self-absorbed and egotistical, or perhaps as having “lost their way” after a prior career of successful civil service. But, Indestructible shows us a world where altruism and self-promotion aren’t mutually exclusive, and the people making money from their abilities can still be the good guys.
Meet the Patels is a funny and insightful film about the search for true love, but it’s not a romantic comedy. Rather, it’s a film about family and cultural traditions. It’s also a documentary, which makes the characters and situations that much more engaging, knowing that it’s a real story, about real people, not just a warped Hollywood depiction of clichés and stereotypes.
Man from Reno is a complex crime thriller, full of twists, surprises, mistaken identities, and more. At times, it’s a little too complex, making it difficult to keep track of exactly what’s going on from one twist to the next, but, nonetheless, it’s an intense and engaging film that most mystery/thriller fans will enjoy.