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Sunday, February 26, 2012

Boston Science Fiction Festival 7

On the Friday before the marathon I went in to see the feature Sol and the shorts program Steam punked. I was feeling a bit worn out at this point in the festival but really wanted to see Sol (2010). Made by the Obsidian Collective of North carolina, a multimedia group trying to make high quality productions for their clients. The film a world premiere is about a group of academy students left on a distant planet. They compete as teams each trying to be the first to spot the Earth's sun in the star filled sky. Opening with some impressive special effects as students come through the transport door, but something is wrong and not all the members of all the teams make it through before the door breaks. So we have a collection of roles from different teams all on the wrong planet (as they soon figure out). Quickly the leader from the team that has the most members, Gemini takes charge. Obviously leadership lessons did not really take with this kid as he blunders and bullies the students from the other academies to follow him. The only thing worse than his leadership skills is the actors acting. Stilted dialog through both acting and writing by Benjamin Carland made the interactions between team member very challenging to watch. The collection of young actors were probably the weakest part of the film but not totally because a couple of them certainly has enough credits to suggest that they should know what they are doing. The film becomes a survival movie very quickly, with the Gemini leadership moving the group away from the door only to be attacked by some giant rat/wolf creatures in the night. Why did the group move away from the door? It was really established that if some kind of rescue was going to happen that it is at the teleporting door that it will happen. So instead they move across a barren wasteland of sand with very little water in the middle of the day. Really? After the attack in the camp a small group of boys take refuge in the nearby ocean. No one notices it is a fresh water ocean even though they spend hours in it. Only later when we have the inevitable "we are out of water" scene do the test it. Eventually as they travel down the coast they are attacked by a sea monster so they now have a choice between dying inland and dying on the coast. While trying to find the sun they need to somehow phone home they just don't know enough about where they are to get the location in the sky to look. It is about this time I stopped taking notes, so put off by the "then this happened" storyline I was drifting thinking about getting a beer to dull the pain. It's not that the film did not try but the execution was just not where I wanted it to be. There eventually is an attempt to send messages back to earth that eventually leads to the survivors rescue. One thing though I have to mention since it was such a poor piece of problem solving through plot manipulation that it is truly note worthy. The group needs time to execute their plans and has been driven inland where the rat creature roam. So having figuring out the creatures don't like light and holding them off for several days with said lights, the batteries start to fade. So they find the hole where the creatures go during the day. Looking in we get a comment about it going all over the planet under ground. So they decide to build a fire in front of the hole, and low and behold it is magically the only way for the creatures to come out at night. Whatever is what I was saying to myself at this point. Anyway this is not a movie that I would recommend and really am surpirised I stayed through to the end. I am not sure it is the 2.8 of 10 rating it has on IMDB but it was not very good. The value was the effects were not horrible so there is something for the Obsidian Group to build on.
The second part of the night was Steampunk shorts, some good some not as good but the large and enthusiastic audience made for a good close to the night.
Schlonburger Certainty Postulator - was an amusing short about mixing of universes and the negative effects that can have. Wriiten and directed by Steve N. Bradford it was an enjoyable start to the shorts.
Molly and the Masked Storm - was amazing in the story behind it. Filmed by a group of middle school student this short showed what an amateur group can do. Written and directed by Ben Kadie it is a story about Molly Marlow and her attempts to protect Merlin's magic from a bunch of wind demons.
Doctor Glamour - Was a hilariously fun short about a scientist who has to travel to another dimension to save the woman he loves. In his travels he is help by a rock god and learns more about himself and his wants than expected when he set out.
Steam Driven - A romance between two factory workers and the troubles it causes them is explored in this silent(mostly) featurette. Really not my style of film the audience seemed to like it even while I was wishing it would just end. Maybe I was too tired at this point but a silent film love story was really not what I was looking for so late at night.

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