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Seven Eight Nine

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Last Chapter First

Let me start by saying this film was not bad, in fact, it was almost very good. The cinematography was nice, the mood and lighting well achieved, and the acting wasn't bad. I did however feel that it suffered from a case of bad casting which made it seem far more pretentious than perhaps was intended. Most of the time, a script has to be read very carefully and avoid poetic and overly complicated wording so that you don't come across as alienating the audience like a sign card that says "Ha Ha I'm smarter than you." Casting an older, wizened actor who really has that look of being world-weary and a bit eccentric would have helped by miles, as opposed to your mid-20s looking actor with healthy rosy cheeks who didn't look like he'd really had time to suffer that much, and instead of world-weary writer, we ended up with the portrayal of a pretentious, angsty university student. I know casting is hard, and writing a good script is harder, let alone getting actors with an ability to breathe life into the words, but with such an emotional piece like this one, it was really important to get just the right person in that role, which unfortunately didn't happen. Some of the dramatic pauses were a bit too long, and the whole thing could have benefited from a bit of a trim. The room and props were a little off to me as well, it didn't give me that typewriter-era feel to it. I expected a low, cone-shaped lamp hanging from the ceiling and cigarette smoke adding atmosphere. I looked around a bit and it seemed more of a modern setting with the typewriter thrown in for dramatic effect. That being said, the imagery was lovely, the story was solid and the ending was well filmed if a bit obvious. Overall, a good job!

Threesome

A man is in a polygamous relationship with two ladies. Audio: 3.5/5 Video: 3.5/5 Story: 2/5 Acting: 2.5/5 Pros: A refreshing premise in this film, I liked the beginning. Some good visuals and sound too, which is crucial for a non-dialogue film. Cons: It was difficult to work out what was happening. I struggled to work out which of the women was leaving and why. It's such a difficult genre to get, perhaps the montage of them happy could have been a bit shorter and a bit more time put into clearly developing the plot points. Overall: Everyone loves a good threesome, but it felt like the story was a bit confusing beyond that. Some nice visuals and sound.

Sweet Child Of Time

This is the sort of film that leaves you with an eye twitching and your brain misfiring. The content and animation style fit together perfectly and while it's not really my cup of tea I can totally appreciate the art of its creation. That pimple is going to haunt my dreams.

Copy That

Lens flare did a great job with this road movie. There were some lovely shots at the beginning, and the story flowed well through most of the short. Some scenes were just a little bit too long, and the ending let it down a bit, but it wasn't bad. The characters in Copy That were very well portrayed, from the delivery guy, to the two criminals, to the faceless operator of the delivery company. The acting, the script and the Cinematography were all nearly flawless. I say nearly because this film was a bit spoiled for me by the ending. They had to work the compulsory character in somehow, and the result was a bit ham-handed. While I can appreciate that Bobby the thief bleeding to death was a bully the delivery driver knew from childhood, actually saying “I never told you my name” was unnecessary and sent the audience into a fit of laughter which almost ruined the mood. The delivery driver's line was cheesy too, and it was like using a sledgehammer to drive a nail into wood, hit and miss, and you look really silly doing it. Overall a great film, really compelling and well shot, it's just a pity about the ending.

REST Inc.

This was the second film I've seen with this theme, and perhaps my review is a bit biased because I saw the other one first. After the brilliant film Me vs Googleplex came up with last year, my high expectations probably put them at a disadvantage in terms of my review. The film was, as usual, beautifully shot, well graded and had some fantastic acting, but there were some plot elements which I didn't think gelled together quite well enough. For example, I found it a bit strange that the main character, upon becoming a woman, decided (after a brief squeeze of her breasts) that she wanted to eat copious amounts of food. I didn't understand why that was important, especially considering that the male character she swapped with was relatively thin himself, the sudden urge to binge eat seemed a bit strange and was never quite explained. I think I also missed the motivation for the switch in the first place. Surely there are easier and better ways to take a break from your life than to switch bodies with someone in order to be stuck inside a house in front of a TV with a list of food you can't eat and things you can't do. That said, the lead actress did a brilliant job of appearing unused to her body, and she really had a sense for her limbs and how to look awkward that sold the body switch quite nicely. The ending took a very serious note and was very gory, but again, I'm really not sure whether to like or hate it. I'm still very undecided about this film, I definitely didn't like it as much as last year's entry, but standing on its own, it was at the very least a solid film.

According to Plan

I must say I was a bit confused about this film. I could have sworn I'd seen the intro before, but the film was completely new to me. The film follows a rather unfortunate Nicky Brick who plans to propose to his girlfriend on a camping trip. Because he's so unlucky everything goes wrong. If there is any comment to be made, it's perhaps about the overuse of the unlucky trait, though it worked in the context and this film would perhaps stand alone better, away from the expectation of the compulsory elements. I was pleasantly surprised with a very light and funny storyline. The idea was solid and simple, and they executed it well. It managed to be funny at unfortunate circumstances without making you cringe, and it was well wrapped up.

pulse

A film about a guy walking to Queen Street?? Audio: 4/5 Video: 4/5 Story: 0/5 Acting: 1/5 Pros: This was a very pretty film. Some good audio and video, and I really loved the "through the eye" shots where the same shots in the daytime and night were superimposed, it was very cool. Cons: Non dialogue is hard, I get that. But I really had no clue what happened in this film or why. There seemed to be a lot of very large holes in the storytelling. Overall: Some very impressive visuals, but a very muddy storyline made it quite difficult to watch.

The Somnambulist

A Horror film about a girl and a doll and a room. Audio: 3/5 Video: 3/5 Story: 2/5 Acting: 2/5 Pros: Horror is a difficult genre, all my sympathies go to people who get it, because it's so hard to pull it off. This film was pretty good considering. The choppy style of the edit and the lack of narrative really helped it a lot as a horror film. Cons: It was a bit confusing, but I think that's OK. I can't really give it more marks for the script. Montage films are quite choppy by nature, but you have to be careful to still get your main points across. Overall: A good effort. They did well within the genre. I feel sorry for the person that had to pin all those paper sheets to the wall, which gave me a bit of a giggle.

The Solution

A film about a solution to the global recession. Audio: 3.5/5 Video: 4.5/5 Story: 2.5/5 Acting: 2.5/5 Pros: Visually a pretty great film. This team goes above and beyond each year to bring something unique and this was no exception. I loved the use of an actual website created for the film, and was impressed with the costumed actors handing out 3D Glasses at the screening. The underwater scene was interesting, and some snappy cuts did a lot for this film. Cons: I'm so gutted I missed out on a pair of glasses. I was sitting up the back with another reviewer and by the time we realised there were glasses, we both missed out, so I can't comment on the 3D (though I did nab a pair off someone as they were leaving, so hoping to see it in 3D in the screening room). If we took the website and 3D glasses out of the equation and looked only at the story, I'd be a bit disappointed. It's OK but it's nothing spectacular and I thought they could have been a bit more creative with the ending. Overall: A stunning film to look at, I love how unique this team is every year with their offering. It was definitely the most interesting film of the night visually, but the narrative was a bit boring in places. PS: Plugging in a glass of water via USB would be a great prank.

Am I Questing

This funny little film featured a bully who had been fitted with an anti-aggression shock collar by one of his victims and embarked on a quest to remove it. I thought this film had some great aspects, and some not so great ones. It was a little tedious in parts, the plot was lacking substance and some of the acting was a bit overdone. However, the ukulele-toting minion character was very entertaining and his performance practically made this film. His expressions were fantastic, and his lines had a lot of personality which the bully character was sorely missing. Great use of the wire prop as a shock collar, I was getting a bit sick of seeing lock-picking wires, and this was a fresh take. A more fleshed out script with a few more plot hooks, some better camera angles and more personalities into the characters would really have made this film pretty spectacular. It was original, clever and funny, and I enjoyed it tremendously, especially the closing narration "He still remains on the Most Wanted list of sexual predators". Zany, irrelevant and utterly hilarious.

Framed

This film had some great moments, and was fantastic in its absurdity. A police officer gets framed for robbery in retaliation for a childhood act of bullying. He and his partner break into the accuser's house in order to find evidence that he was framed. There were some great moments and some very silly moments in this film. I loved the use of the wire and the sheer absurdity of their escape from the house. The ending was rather abrupt, which was really in the same style of comedy as the rest of this film, and worked well. Overall it was a simple piece, but effective and amusing. It could have had a bit more meat to it, but I don't think it suffered too much because of it. There were some fantastic camera shots and some good acting, and it came together nicely.

Big Boys

Another good film from this team. Some great moments and generally a solid script but it could probably have been edited down a little shorter and tighter for better impact. It did do a fantastic job of selling clapping hats, I really want one now.

The Lake

Horror was probably the most limiting genre this year, it doesn't have as much leeway as others, and you practically have to make a scary mood. Not many films managed to be genuinely scary, but this one did the job. I liked the non-linear storyline and that the accident is only brought in midway into the film. The biggest problem I had with this film was how dark it was in the night scenes. It was incredibly difficult to see anything, and I found myself squinting a few times to make out more detail. A horror movie at night doesn't have to be pitch black, and selective use of lighting can show and hide things to remain mysterious. Though this film was not particularly original, it followed the horror formula well and came up with a decent and easy to follow plot. It was coherent and the mood was set pretty well, there was silence in the cinema.

Henchmen

A film about an expendable henchman who doesn't want to be one anymore Audio: 3.5/5 Video: 3/5 Story: 1.5/5 Acting: 3/5 Pros: Some great visual effects, a good punch of Battlesoup trademark humour and decent sound and video. Cons: Perhaps I'm biased here because I love these guys (You should check out the BattleSoup YouTube channel) and had some pretty high expectations. As such, I feel this falls far short of their usual standard. The story actually felt a bit dragged out in places, without mentioning a similar "bad guy who's sick of it" animated feature we all saw advertised late last year, and not a single person gets hit by a car despite some great opportunities (What's up with that?). Overall: Some good shots and some awesome BattleSoup Gun em' down scenes, but overall it fell flat for me. Definitely missed Tom in this one, but it was a nice surprise to see Sean, who did a great job.

Mind Creep

Chess Club are always a point I look forward to in this competition, I really enjoyed their 2011 musical and was thrilled when their 2013 robot film got into the finals. This year however, I was somewhat underwhelmed. While the film itself was okay, it missed a lot of that fun, zany humour and surprise that this team is so great at delivering. The film follows a washed up street magician (closely based on Chris Angel’s mind freak) who is kidnapped by a man that does real magic in order to help him fight evil. The story was fairly linear and predictable, the fun moments felt a little too short, some of the other moments ran a little too long, and it would have been nice to see a few more visual effects shots and magic tricks. The ending was similarly quite linear and held little surprise, though it was well choreographed and interesting to watch. It’s difficult to distance yourself from a team’s previous work, and there were some great shots in the film. The reveal of the villain’s face was hilarious and got a lot of good vibes, and the mid-turn reveal of the magician with the ball stuck with me as a pretty great shot. The supporting actor gave the film a particular amusing zaniness and overall it was fun to watch. While this film was not the best of the heat, it has something to offer and is interesting and amusing to watch.

Mind Creep

Chess Club are always a point I look forward to in this competition, I really enjoyed their 2011 musical and was thrilled when their 2013 robot film got into the finals. This year however, I was somewhat underwhelmed. While the film itself was okay, it missed a lot of that fun, zany humour and surprise that this team is so great at delivering. The film follows a washed up street magician (closely based on Chris Angel’s mind freak) who is kidnapped by a man that does real magic in order to help him fight evil. The story was fairly linear and predictable, the fun moments felt a little too short, some of the other moments ran a little too long, and it would have been nice to see a few more visual effects shots and magic tricks. The ending was similarly quite linear and held little surprise, though it was well choreographed and interesting to watch. It’s difficult to distance yourself from a team’s previous work, and there were some great shots in the film. The reveal of the villain’s face was hilarious and got a lot of good vibes, and the mid-turn reveal of the magician with the ball stuck with me as a pretty great shot. The supporting actor gave the film a particular amusing zaniness and overall it was fun to watch. While this film was not the best of the heat, it has something to offer and is interesting and amusing to watch.

Steampunk Zombie 2000A.D.

Steampunk Zombie 2000AD was a cute silent-movie style black and white flash animation about a zombie filled world. From what I gathered, Mr Young was a Zombie Slayer married to Mrs Young, who's task was to get attacked and look worried a lot. The thing about silent films, is that because you are alternating words on the screen with footage, you have to keep the text short and sweet and make up for the words you can't say with the acting. Yuckbear seemed to take the silent film theme as a way to do less animation and tell the story with words. The words were too verbose, and not on the screen for long enough. It was far too much reading for my brain at 9pm on a Sunday night and I had a lot of trouble keeping up. From what I can surmise it was a pretty average zombie film, without any sort of interesting plot hook, which in the end I didn't actually have a problem with. The formulaic story really made up for the simple animations and the fast text I couldn't read. Some nice drawings, I really liked the style of Mr and Mrs young and the zombies, though I was a bit underwhelmed by the lack of steampunk which was promised in the title. Still, Yuckbear was one of only a few teams willing to brave the Animation genre and that definitely deserves some props. The animation that was there was nice, and I enjoyed the style of it at least.

I Fought The Law

This was a clever little film about a pair of detectives investigating seemingly unrelated crimes comitted by the same person. I thought the characters in this short were really well fleshed out, and had personalities of their own, which is a hard thing to do in 48 hours. The jaded detective and rookie trying to fit in are a stereotype, but they had their quirks in this film which really helped it along. It's a pity the lead detective actor didn't quite manage to make his character convincing, going from a bit too uninterested to very over the top. I Fought The Law had some brilliant little quotes, and managed to really push an anti-smoking agenda, which as a non-smoker who gets smoke blown into her face every day walking down the street, I absolutely loved. The twist at the end was fantastic, and subsequent joke hillarious and well pushed through the whole film. Overall an enjoyable watch and I can see why this won audience favourite.

The Office Quest

Poor Fractured Radius, they always seem to be a bit misunderstood and suffer in their ratings because of it. First off, I enjoyed The Office Quest, far more than last year's entry, "Professional Dancer". It was less grating and far less gratuitously silly. There's no doubt that every year this team brings very high production values to the table. Their shots are lovely, their lighting is great, their actors don't let the team down, and I get the impression that these guys work really well together. I'd love to see Fractured Radius take this competition seriously one year. I think they'd produce an amazing film if they weaned themselves off the disjointed jokes, absurd story lines and zany characters. The Office Quest started in a typical environment and got stranger. Our protagonist is sent on a mystical quest by a voice only she can hear, and her workmates become characters in her journey. The disjointed character who criticises every body's claims of where they've been is shoved down our throats in true Fractured Radius style, and is repeated again and again until it's funny. By which point it isn't anymore. That said, the storyline made sense, for the most part is was cohesive, and they had a clever twist that far surpassed their vampire quip last year. As always, their cinematography was beautiful, but most importantly, I wasn't bored.

I Fought The Law

This was a clever little film about a pair of detectives investigating seemingly unrelated crimes comitted by the same person. I thought the characters in this short were really well fleshed out, and had personalities of their own, which is a hard thing to do in 48 hours. The jaded detective and rookie trying to fit in are a stereotype, but they had their quirks in this film which really helped it along. It's a pity the lead detective actor didn't quite manage to make his character convincing, going from a bit too uninterested to very over the top. I Fought The Law had some brilliant little quotes, and managed to really push an anti-smoking agenda, which as a non-smoker who gets smoke blown into her face every day walking down the street, I absolutely loved. The twist at the end was fantastic, and subsequent joke hillarious and well pushed through the whole film. Overall an enjoyable watch and I can see why this won audience favourite.

string

A dark film about love, depression and suicide Audio: 2.5/5 Video: 2/5 Story: 2/5 Acting: 3.5/5 Pros: This film did a great job with its tone. It's so hard to set a serious tone among all the humorous stuff in a heat, but this hit the nail on the head. There was a brief funny moment with some god bothers, and it didn't detract at all. I thought the scene in the bathtub was well done and very poignant. People around me were commenting that it was a bit too dark, but that's a stylistic choice and one that I think was well executed. Cons: I had a bit of trouble with the story. The masked man and the card seemed a little odd and superfluous. I had trouble working out who had died and why. The video was also a bit dark and grainy in places. Overall: A really nice achievement of tone, some unfortunate story issues and a bit of grainy video.

The Somnambulist

A Horror film about a girl and a doll and a room. Audio: 3/5 Video: 3/5 Story: 2/5 Acting: 2/5 Pros: Horror is a difficult genre, all my sympathies go to people who get it, because it's so hard to pull it off. This film was pretty good considering. The choppy style of the edit and the lack of narrative really helped it a lot as a horror film. Cons: It was a bit confusing, but I think that's OK. I can't really give it more marks for the script. Montage films are quite choppy by nature, but you have to be careful to still get your main points across. Overall: A good effort. They did well within the genre. I feel sorry for the person that had to pin all those paper sheets to the wall, which gave me a bit of a giggle.

Real China

double post, sorry.

Meeting Bobby Young

Doing a fad film is not particularly easy, considering that no matter what you do, there's a high probibility that it will end up a bit gimicky. Whanau Marama threw themselves into this with gusto, and covered a range of fads. Notably, they were the only team to really touch on 3D Television, which was quite a good idea. The sequences covering that were well done, and their obvious spoof take on explaining it was hillarious and well thought out, I especially loved the red/blue glasses being used to watch one of the new LCD 3D TVs. Like many other fad films, they gave planking its share of screen time, and I rather hope the guy who fell off the apex of the roof didn't hurt himself. Overall a decent movie, though it was a bit long here and there. The audience got a kick out of it and the boys looked like they enjoyed making it, which is always good!

Vic Meyer: Neighbourhood Crime Watch

A mockumentary about a dedicated accountant-turned-neighbourhood-watchman. Audio: 3/5 Video: 2.5/5 Story: 2/5 Acting: 2.5/5 Pros: It had some pretty funny moments. There was a great leap over a fence and a Cluedo gag which got a lot of laughs. The scripting was great in places and the main actor was appropriately overdone. While the age of the main character didn't fit the actor, it didn't actually bother me in this case. Cons: It felt a bit long in places, and a bit more attention could have perhaps been paid to the way it was shot (lighting, framing etc.). The ending was pretty well anticipated by the time we got there, which ruined the reveal. Overall: A good attempt. A bit more planning and storyboarding might have helped this film, and perhaps a more unique twist on the ending.

pulse

A film about a guy walking to Queen Street?? Audio: 4/5 Video: 4/5 Story: 0/5 Acting: 1/5 Pros: This was a very pretty film. Some good audio and video, and I really loved the "through the eye" shots where the same shots in the daytime and night were superimposed, it was very cool. Cons: Non dialogue is hard, I get that. But I really had no clue what happened in this film or why. There seemed to be a lot of very large holes in the storytelling. Overall: Some very impressive visuals, but a very muddy storyline made it quite difficult to watch.

Interstellar

A lot of end of the world films this year have opted for "giant lens flare ending" as a plot device. While this film wasn't short on giant lens flares, it was refreshing to see some thought put into the specifics of how the world would end. Clearly it takes a massive geek (and I mean that in a good way) to come up with kinetic bombardment from space followed by robot killing machines (also from space). I think this film was meant to be set in the future, so it would have been nice to see that communicated in some way other than voice over, but with a limited amount of resources this team did what they could and did it well. Awesome sound design! Ending felt a little anticlimactic, left us wondering if maybe the ones who didn't make it through the first day were better off after all. Turns out resistance really is futile.

DAS BEAT

A man has to protect his perfect mix from falling into the wrong hands Audio: 3/5 Video: 2/5 Story: 3/5 Acting: 3/5 Pros: 10 Trucks have a particular style of things looking a little bit bad, which is fine. It actually adds to it, because it increases the humour value of this film. A lot of cheesy lines and acting, but done well! Cons: Might have gone a bit overboard with it. The sound really could have used a bit more work, and some bits seemed a little dark. Overall: A funny, silly film, not trying to be more than it is. I also really love their team logo animation.

Steampunk Zombie 2000A.D.

Steampunk Zombie 2000AD was a cute silent-movie style black and white flash animation about a zombie filled world. From what I gathered, Mr Young was a Zombie Slayer married to Mrs Young, who's task was to get attacked and look worried a lot. The thing about silent films, is that because you are alternating words on the screen with footage, you have to keep the text short and sweet and make up for the words you can't say with the acting. Yuckbear seemed to take the silent film theme as a way to do less animation and tell the story with words. The words were too verbose, and not on the screen for long enough. It was far too much reading for my brain at 9pm on a Sunday night and I had a lot of trouble keeping up. From what I can surmise it was a pretty average zombie film, without any sort of interesting plot hook, which in the end I didn't actually have a problem with. The formulaic story really made up for the simple animations and the fast text I couldn't read. Some nice drawings, I really liked the style of Mr and Mrs young and the zombies, though I was a bit underwhelmed by the lack of steampunk which was promised in the title. Still, Yuckbear was one of only a few teams willing to brave the Animation genre and that definitely deserves some props. The animation that was there was nice, and I enjoyed the style of it at least.

The Expulsion

A film about a child being expelled from school after soiling a teacher's...reputation. Audio: 3.5/5 Video: 4/5 Story: 4/5 Acting: 4/5 Pros: This was a stellar film, excellent technical quality, and the story and pacing were great. The child actor in this film did a superb job, and it didn't feel too long. Cons: This film was played out of order, a stylistic choice, and something that confused the people around me. Personally I got a bit annoyed at the title cards splitting the film into acts. It didn't add anything for me, but instead fragmented the film. Overall: A brilliant film with only a few small snags.

Threesome

A man is in a polygamous relationship with two ladies. Audio: 3.5/5 Video: 3.5/5 Story: 2/5 Acting: 2.5/5 Pros: A refreshing premise in this film, I liked the beginning. Some good visuals and sound too, which is crucial for a non-dialogue film. Cons: It was difficult to work out what was happening. I struggled to work out which of the women was leaving and why. It's such a difficult genre to get, perhaps the montage of them happy could have been a bit shorter and a bit more time put into clearly developing the plot points. Overall: Everyone loves a good threesome, but it felt like the story was a bit confusing beyond that. Some nice visuals and sound.

Real China

Despite only being at it for the second year, Kappa Patrol has really stuck with me as a team I remember well, because of the sheer absurdity of their films. Last year's offering, True Hauntings, was a film I really loved, because it was (possibly unintentionally) a clever parody of Ghostbusters. I loved the style of it, the age of the actors was hillariously innapropriate and there were some fantastic one liners that were so cheesy and over the top that everyone laughed and loved them. This year, Kappa Patrol went for something a bit more original and not as closely tied to a particular film or story, and lost a bit of that parody vibe that I thought True Hauntings had. There was still plenty of wildly age innapropriate acting, and some funny scenes, but where True Hauntings was short and sweet, Real China was a little bit too long, and the jokes were thinned out by periods where nothing was happening (yes, I thought the walking scene was far too long and pointless). That said, the film still got a lot of laughs, and I'm looking forward to their work next year. I think Kappa Patrol is a great contender for Best Bad Film and the guys are great at it. Perhaps if they get a bit of time before next year, some pratice with another story would be good. Cheeze up the lines a bit more, add some continuity issues, make it really clear that it's a parody of a serious film, and I think they'll do something amazing.

Doodles

Doodles was a cute little story about an office worker scanning and emailing his doodles to a colleague/love interest. It was very cute and was one of the best Rom-Coms this year, really embracing the genre. I do get a slight feeling of deja vu, as if I've seen this film before, and it's a nagging feeling I couldn't throttle. I had a bit of an online look, and this concept's actually been done several times before in one way or another, which I guess is fair enough, it's hard to write something that hasn't been done before, but it did disappoint me a teeny bit I must admit to note its similarities to the June 2009 short "Post-it Love. There was also a wee bit of confusion in the middle when he was drawing things about other people, I couldn't quite work out whether he was drawing what he saw or if what he drew ended up happening. I can't remember anything about the compulsory elements which is a great sign that they were integrated quite well and not at all showy or forced, which is not an easy thing to do when an audience has seen them many times already. It was a cute, well-developed short and everyone was gushing at the end. The cinematography was really nice and the whole thing seemed well polished, well paced and well written. I loved it, and definitely got a case of warm fuzzies at the end.

Last Chapter First

Let me start by saying this film was not bad, in fact, it was almost very good. The cinematography was nice, the mood and lighting well achieved, and the acting wasn't bad. I did however feel that it suffered from a case of bad casting which made it seem far more pretentious than perhaps was intended. Most of the time, a script has to be read very carefully and avoid poetic and overly complicated wording so that you don't come across as alienating the audience like a sign card that says "Ha Ha I'm smarter than you." Casting an older, wizened actor who really has that look of being world-weary and a bit eccentric would have helped by miles, as opposed to your mid-20s looking actor with healthy rosy cheeks who didn't look like he'd really had time to suffer that much, and instead of world-weary writer, we ended up with the portrayal of a pretentious, angsty university student. I know casting is hard, and writing a good script is harder, let alone getting actors with an ability to breathe life into the words, but with such an emotional piece like this one, it was really important to get just the right person in that role, which unfortunately didn't happen. Some of the dramatic pauses were a bit too long, and the whole thing could have benefited from a bit of a trim. The room and props were a little off to me as well, it didn't give me that typewriter-era feel to it. I expected a low, cone-shaped lamp hanging from the ceiling and cigarette smoke adding atmosphere. I looked around a bit and it seemed more of a modern setting with the typewriter thrown in for dramatic effect. That being said, the imagery was lovely, the story was solid and the ending was well filmed if a bit obvious. Overall, a good job!

Paranormal Dancetivity 4- Slave to the Beat

This school team didn't exactly start off in the best of circumstances. After a fire at their school on Saturday morning I could have excused just about any offering from them, but even though the team was disqualified, they made a fantastic film. Paranormal Dancetivity was a very clever dance film about dance-loving ghosts preventing the object of their torment from sleeping. They did a great job of using what they had and definitely came out on top. There were some brilliant shots mixed in with some really average ones which would have been fine in a worse film, but stuck out a bit here. The ghosts were creepy, the cut was snappy and the story was clear and concise. Overall a very enjoyable offering, it was very disappointing to see it disqualified.

You Muppet!

I'm not entirely sure how I managed to enjoy this film and still end up a bit queasy at the end of it, but there we go. Like Mike made a great film, which was hilarious in its own way and it certainly had the audience going, but it wasn't a horror film. I think this team missed the genre completely which is a pity because it really was a great film. We follow the inner dialogue of a very aggressive and vicious, yet equally tiny little dog who keeps murdering other animals. We hear him swearing and being relatively grotesque about his actions and inclinations, as his owner and her boyfriend find two dead cats in the yard (there was a third, but he ate it). Basing a film around a dog means you really have to work with your camera shots, lighting and sound to create the illusion of a performance. Like Mike could really have pushed this, brought their angles higher or lower depending on whether the dog was supposed to look dumb or look evil and it was a bit of a missed opportunity. That being said, The story was solid, and the ending (while a little bit strange) worked. I'm not sure what they had to do to the dog to get it to walk as funny as it did in the ending, after it had been supposedly lobotomised, but I hope the most it suffered was a mild case of humiliation having to wear whatever that was on a big screen. Overall, the audience was laughing, and it left everyone feeling good (though slightly nauseous). The idea of lobotomising a dog with a piece of wire made me a little sick, not to mention the thought of eating and killing cats, but I laughed along with everyone else nonetheless. It did lose points in my rating due to the missing genre which was very dissapointing.

Made to Order

This team impressed me with its ability to create a full-3D film in 48hours. The story was a one-liner, but it didn't really need more than that. It was clear, concise and to the point. Unfortunately, the story is not an original one, and that was probably something that prevented them from winning the audience over. The continuity was good, though the 3D looked a bit rubbery and floaty, and I'm still unsure whether it qualifies as a dance film. Overall though, I enjoyed it, and it was memorable. Looking forward to their work next year.

Meeting Bobby Young

Doing a fad film is not particularly easy, considering that no matter what you do, there's a high probibility that it will end up a bit gimicky. Whanau Marama threw themselves into this with gusto, and covered a range of fads. Notably, they were the only team to really touch on 3D Television, which was quite a good idea. The sequences covering that were well done, and their obvious spoof take on explaining it was hillarious and well thought out, I especially loved the red/blue glasses being used to watch one of the new LCD 3D TVs. Like many other fad films, they gave planking its share of screen time, and I rather hope the guy who fell off the apex of the roof didn't hurt himself. Overall a decent movie, though it was a bit long here and there. The audience got a kick out of it and the boys looked like they enjoyed making it, which is always good!

Bus Stop Love

Bus Stop Love is what you get when a bunch of bros get “Rom Com” as a genre. All and all, it was a vast improvement on Sydney Manson and the Magical Glasses, their 2010 Musical, and was very enjoyable to watch. The personality of each character was solid, especially the one that liked to watch his friend sleep, who was hilarious. The bus stop scenes were well constructed, and the double punchline, while a bit brutal, was great and had the audience going. Well put together, not as polished visually as some other films, but that didn't detract from it at all, and it managed to not be too long, which is a common problem. Well done on a great film.

Mimey Vice

Mimey Vice had a lot of unspent potential. The idea of clowns vs mimes in some sort of turf war was brilliant, but unfortunately it wasn't explored as well as it could have been. There were some great moments in this film, the best of which was a clown getting angry and throwing his tiny car into the bushes and the subsequent reference to the family car being dented in the end. The mimes were definitely silent, but there was just not much there. They could have mimed a wall and thrown the clown into it, beaten him with an imaginary baseball bat, etc. Had we replaced the clowns and mimes with rivalling gangs, the film would have simply been a bit boring and disjointed. However, fair is fair and it was a good idea, and there's something I just love about the idea of a world where everyone's either a clown or a mime. The story did suffer a bit, and I never worked out why it was that the mimes killed the clowns in the end. You see, it wasn't really a clown and mime movie to me, it was just a bunch of people dressed as clowns and mimes, without the traits that define these two character types. Overall, a great idea which toppled a little in the execution. A valiant effort though.

New Flat

A cool little twist on an otherwise mundane premise. A group of young adults move into a flat and somehow decide to film everything from their petty disputes, to taking a leak with the the toilet door wide open (seriously a cinematic highlight). Here it gets interesting though, as we start to learn that not only are they not alone, but that they are sharing the same space (and/or time) with doppelgangers of themselves. Some very nice work flawlessly duplicating characters in the same shot. Took quite a while to pick up speed, but the ending had just the right mix of unexpected loose ended weirdness to leave viewers very satisfied.

AFGHANI GOLD

I'm always a fan of claymation, but every time I see the medium in 48 Hours, it always seems unfinished, not surprising considering the time frame. This film followed a pair of military men on a plane arguing over who killed the dead man they found under their seats. There are a few great lines sprinkled through an otherwise awkward storyline. The use of prop was quite good, and despite the fact that it was similar to a film they previously made, it came together and stood on its own. The lip-synch was fantastic, and the team stuck to it through the whole film. After the screening, a few people mentioned the reference to the two characters being alone on the plane, an obvious omission of the pilot. It created a plot hole that most of us assumed would be wrapped up in an ending that never quite got there. That being said, congratulations on claymation in 48 hours, great job.

"Perfect"

A man purchases an android woman to fulfil his wishes, but is not quite satisfied. Audio: 2 Video: 2.5 Story: 3 Acting: 2.5 Pros: It was a very cute film, had some funny moments and the split screens worked well in places. The first android lady was fantastic, she had real personality which I thought was brilliant, some excellent acting there. I also really enjoyed the song over the end credits. Cons: A few minor sound issues, in general not as "polished" technically as it possibly could have been. Overall: Some great visual gags and a good story. Could have been a bit more development technically, but overall a solid film.

Revenge Unlimited

Revenge Unlimited was a really simple joke with a great punchline that was turned into a film. Its no frills approach to the cinematography didn't detract from it at all, but rather gave this film a really home-grown, grass roots feeling. It was simple, well paced and punchy, had some fantastic gags, and didn't try to be more than it was. The blindfold and hot dog scene was a great example of what you can do with innuendo to sail over a child's head and reach the adults in the audience, which was well done and a refreshing change from some of the films in this heat. The ending was great, though I was a little confused at first. Everything came together though in the end, and though I'd suggest solidifying the story a bit more at the end to really deliver the punchline, it was overall, a well composed film.

Blood Surrogate

This film bored me for the first bit. I thought the "stuck in a house while there are zombies outside" was overdone and was not looking forward to watching another six minutes of it. Then the zombie appeared and the film shifted to a "man teaching zombie how to be human again" film, which I thought was a little bit like Resident Evil and a bunch of other zombie films out there, while slightly more interesting, still not original. And then the main character started making out with the zombie. At this point my jaw dropped and didn't lift back up until it was over. It was weird, sickening and very original, and despite my disgust I couldn't quite look away. The way this team executed a story about revenge on zombies for killing someone important was utterly brilliant, I was spellbound and it really made me think about an aspect of being alone in the world that I hadn't quite considered before. The thing that let this film down a bit for me is really the obvious. If you exchange fluids and things with a zombie (and at one point the zombie did bite him) how do you not become one yourself? That point was never quite explained, and despite the whole thing being a fictional concept anyway, it left be a little bit unsatisfied with the believability of the whole thing. A great film, hope you're not squeamish.

Swap

I really loved Limp Squid's film. It's quite possibly my favourite of the body-switch genre so far, and despite not being as pretty and well graded as some films, it's very solid. The main criticism I have of this film is about the pacing. The narration worked and most of the story was rather general about the main character's job as a confrontation expert, who would switch bodies with a person in order to complete a task they didn't want to do, like firing someone or breaking up with a girlfriend, which was great. But the punchline and plot of the story really should have been based more strongly around this particular experience with the current client, because without this distinction, it ended a wee bit more abruptly than I would have liked. That being said, the ending was hilarious and brilliantly timed, and the theatre was roaring with laughter. The pace was good, the shots were great, the script and punchline hilarious, and I very much enjoyed it.

Henchmen

A film about an expendable henchman who doesn't want to be one anymore Audio: 3.5/5 Video: 3/5 Story: 1.5/5 Acting: 3/5 Pros: Some great visual effects, a good punch of Battlesoup trademark humour and decent sound and video. Cons: Perhaps I'm biased here because I love these guys (You should check out the BattleSoup YouTube channel) and had some pretty high expectations. As such, I feel this falls far short of their usual standard. The story actually felt a bit dragged out in places, without mentioning a similar "bad guy who's sick of it" animated feature we all saw advertised late last year, and not a single person gets hit by a car despite some great opportunities (What's up with that?). Overall: Some good shots and some awesome BattleSoup Gun em' down scenes, but overall it fell flat for me. Definitely missed Tom in this one, but it was a nice surprise to see Sean, who did a great job.

Broken Record

Sideways Productions are well known for their sleek production values and elegant stories. This year’s entry was far left field of their usual work, but it was still an excellent, enjoyable film; if you’re not intimidated by a little – ok a lot of poo. The story follows a group of friends trying to set a mini-golf record during a bachelor’s party. They get into the usual trouble as the film unfolds. It was a bit crude, and there were points where I wished for an extra set of hands to cover my eyes and ears at the same time, but it was still very enjoyable. The audience seemed to love it, with laughs and groans in all the right places, and the film was fairly well shot and cut together, which meant the story was tight and well presented. I’m not sure I’d watch it again, but that’s due to personal tastes, and it’s by far one of the better films of the competition. This team will go far and they did a really amazing job.

The Solution

A film about a solution to the global recession. Audio: 3.5/5 Video: 4.5/5 Story: 2.5/5 Acting: 2.5/5 Pros: Visually a pretty great film. This team goes above and beyond each year to bring something unique and this was no exception. I loved the use of an actual website created for the film, and was impressed with the costumed actors handing out 3D Glasses at the screening. The underwater scene was interesting, and some snappy cuts did a lot for this film. Cons: I'm so gutted I missed out on a pair of glasses. I was sitting up the back with another reviewer and by the time we realised there were glasses, we both missed out, so I can't comment on the 3D (though I did nab a pair off someone as they were leaving, so hoping to see it in 3D in the screening room). If we took the website and 3D glasses out of the equation and looked only at the story, I'd be a bit disappointed. It's OK but it's nothing spectacular and I thought they could have been a bit more creative with the ending. Overall: A stunning film to look at, I love how unique this team is every year with their offering. It was definitely the most interesting film of the night visually, but the narrative was a bit boring in places. PS: Plugging in a glass of water via USB would be a great prank.

AFGHANI GOLD

I'm always a fan of claymation, but every time I see the medium in 48 Hours, it always seems unfinished, not surprising considering the time frame. This film followed a pair of military men on a plane arguing over who killed the dead man they found under their seats. There are a few great lines sprinkled through an otherwise awkward storyline. The use of prop was quite good, and despite the fact that it was similar to a film they previously made, it came together and stood on its own. The lip-synch was fantastic, and the team stuck to it through the whole film. After the screening, a few people mentioned the reference to the two characters being alone on the plane, an obvious omission of the pilot. It created a plot hole that most of us assumed would be wrapped up in an ending that never quite got there. That being said, congratulations on claymation in 48 hours, great job.

string

A dark film about love, depression and suicide Audio: 2.5/5 Video: 2/5 Story: 2/5 Acting: 3.5/5 Pros: This film did a great job with its tone. It's so hard to set a serious tone among all the humorous stuff in a heat, but this hit the nail on the head. There was a brief funny moment with some god bothers, and it didn't detract at all. I thought the scene in the bathtub was well done and very poignant. People around me were commenting that it was a bit too dark, but that's a stylistic choice and one that I think was well executed. Cons: I had a bit of trouble with the story. The masked man and the card seemed a little odd and superfluous. I had trouble working out who had died and why. The video was also a bit dark and grainy in places. Overall: A really nice achievement of tone, some unfortunate story issues and a bit of grainy video.

Chums

A man gets a new flatmate who is a little over-friendly. Audio: 4 Video: 4 Story: 3.5 Acting: 3.5 Pros: Bald Faced Cheek do some hilarious films and this year's is no exception. A nice blend of witty, offensive and downright out-there humour. I immensely enjoyed the ending which really set this apart from your average obsessive friendship film, of which there are many this year. Cons: It was very much the same thing they do every year. Having seen this group's films before, it's difficult to get into the characters when you remember them from previous years' films. That being said, it was only a minor issue. Overall: Another brilliant film by this team. Their writers have a great sense of humour, though not as offensive as some previous entries. PS: I loved the giant cupcake.

Youth-emisms

While I don't think I'd classify this exactly as cringe or gross out comedy, it does have a definite charm and is a well put together story. Everything makes sense, there's some decent production values and a great little original song. This is one of BOTUs best efforts so far, I wouldn't be surprised to see it do well in the finals.

That's Fab

That's Fab is about picking up the wrong shopping bag and where it can lead you. Audio: 4/5 Video: 3/5 Story: 3/5 Acting: 5/5 Pros: This film had a great script. The acting from the villain character was absolutely fantastic, and the other characters delivered some great performances too. Cons: There's not much to criticise about this film, it was very clean and well delivered. It was very similar to another film, but the ending saved it. Perhaps do a bit more with your lighting and video quality, just for that last polish. Overall: A hilarious film with great acting and story, watch the similarities to other films, hope to see some sweet lighting next year!

The Stile

While I found the twist in this film fairly predictible from the setup, I was very impressed with the idea. For this film to have come out of the star-crossed lovers genre was truly a good shake-up and the sort of thing teams should be doing with their allocated genres.

Eggspiry Day

This film was very strong, and was both funny and very captivating. The doctor tells a woman that she has exactly 24 hours in which to get pregnant, or she will never be able to. Eggspiry Day was captivating, providing an unusually good balance between heart-wrenching sympathy and outrageous gross comedy which will leave you on the edge of your seats. The lead actress took us on an emotional rollercoaster and did an amazing job. It made you laugh, cry, groan and cringe in your seat, but despite a less-than-surprising ending, everyone was still hissing and groaning when it was revealed. It was a fantastic film, well thought out and had the audience wrapped around its little finger.

The How, The What, The Who and The Why

This film was entertaining but could have been tighter and better scripted. The length of some of the shots gave too much time and left you poking at the plot holes. That being said it was a great way to tackle kids as the main characters. I do wish you hadn't made the little girl cry for that ending though.

Trust

‘Trust’ was a really captivating post-apocalyptic film about a father and son’s struggles. Some great acting, good camera and editing work helped reinvigorate an otherwise unoriginal story. Shame it was disqualified.

Kill Therapist

Kill therapist was pretty predictable after the first shock of the film. Why we have so much sexual content this year is a bit beyond me, but I really thought that the drugged anal raping in this film was just a bit much. I was definitely a bit disgusted and I guess it delivered on the shock value of that first scene. But after that, there was nothing there. It was a predictable revenge ending, where he follows the guy home one day and kills him, nothing special, nothing overly brilliant, except for a few funny freeze-frame captions, and I was somewhat disappointed. Ladies oh Ladies obviously has a very slick production crew and the film was beautifully shot, but they really needed to think past that initial shock and make a film with a bit of originality to it. The acting was good, cinematography was nice, lines were fine, but overall it was just a bit meh.

The Dole

This loveable film about dole bludgers who suddenly get cut off and have to find a way to pay the rent was not only hilarious, but hopefully spread a message too. I love a story with a good moral, and this one seemed to scream “get off your lazy asses, you bums” which is a moral I'm always quite in favour of. We have a pretty over-the-top film here, with over-the-top acting and over-the-top characters, but it really is quite charming. Our ex bully is now some sort of pacifist monk, whom our mullet-toting dole bludgers accidentally anger by stealing his nanna's handbag. Of this I am pretty sure, because we watched the scene of her getting robbed and whacked upside the head three times. Some of the shots drag on a bit, and this is another example of a good movie that could be much better by loosing a bit of fat. Overall a good story, a funny ending though a bit weak, and a great laugh.

Made to Order

This team impressed me with its ability to create a full-3D film in 48hours. The story was a one-liner, but it didn't really need more than that. It was clear, concise and to the point. Unfortunately, the story is not an original one, and that was probably something that prevented them from winning the audience over. The continuity was good, though the 3D looked a bit rubbery and floaty, and I'm still unsure whether it qualifies as a dance film. Overall though, I enjoyed it, and it was memorable. Looking forward to their work next year.

Laid Out

A man is sent to jail when his lover mysteriously dies after they commit a robbery. Audio: 3 Video: 2.5 Story: 1.5 Acting: 1.5 Pros: The voiceover wasn't bad, use of props was quite good (curious whether they dug the grave or just...borrowed one?). The masses were impressed by the card un-ripping. Some of the shots were interesting. Cons: As a mostly serious film, I think it could have used a bit more treatment, grading or just lighting to set the tone. Some of the plot points were a little odd too, and I had trouble working out why certain things happened. Overall: A good effort and some nice set dressing. Maybe a bit more story development would have been nice.

Heist School Musical

This film had a great premise and the team made a bold choice to encorporate not only extra genres but a voluntary musical. While the ending was a bit obvious from the get go and the team could have really pushed it further and whackier, it was a clever idea and an entertaining watch.

We'll just have to do things the long way.

Having a baby makes me appreciate this effort far more than I would have in previous years. I enjoyed the creative use of editing to create multiple characters and think this was a great result of an ultra duo. Some tighter cutting could have made this much more impactul but a great effort nonetheless.

Natural Selection

This was a film I enjoyed. I liked the blend of humour and seriousness that the film had and the way it put forward its message. Natural selection was an interesting film, about a boy in the back of a class who keeps imagining he kills his fellow students, who are all interrupting the teacher. The motivation got a little bit fuzzy for me, because the student was evidently smart, and able to answer the teachers questions, but he wasn't really paying attention, so I didn't understand why the disruption bothered him so much, and in his imagined fight-sequences, he's attacking the teacher too, which confused me even more about why he was imagining the fight. I imagine the team tried to play with the idea of natural selection, the title of the film and the subject which the teacher was explaining, and tie it in somehow to this school-shooting theme, but I'm afraid it went a bit over my head. Perhaps I was just thinking about it too hard and tried to make meaning where there was none. However, it was all done with some lovely shots, some great sound, and some excellent gunfight sequences, and I really loved the way this team used the freeze-frame ending.

Laid Out

A man is sent to jail when his lover mysteriously dies after they commit a robbery. Audio: 3 Video: 2.5 Story: 1.5 Acting: 1.5 Pros: The voiceover wasn't bad, use of props was quite good (curious whether they dug the grave or just...borrowed one?). The masses were impressed by the card un-ripping. Some of the shots were interesting. Cons: As a mostly serious film, I think it could have used a bit more treatment, grading or just lighting to set the tone. Some of the plot points were a little odd too, and I had trouble working out why certain things happened. Overall: A good effort and some nice set dressing. Maybe a bit more story development would have been nice.

Choose Hers

I really think this one's a contender for best bad film. Some of the script was so bad it was hilarious and I think just about everyone will remember the hula-skirt-toting voodoo guy with big smiles and a lot of fondness. Overall, if the long ambling walks in silence had been cut down it would have made this film even better, and it certainly had its moments. Pretty enjoyable, the story was predictable but strangely executed and not all of it made sense, that combined with the indifferent attitude of the characters gave it that weird charm we associate with Best Bad Film contenders.

The Expulsion

A film about a child being expelled from school after soiling a teacher's...reputation. Audio: 3.5/5 Video: 4/5 Story: 4/5 Acting: 4/5 Pros: This was a stellar film, excellent technical quality, and the story and pacing were great. The child actor in this film did a superb job, and it didn't feel too long. Cons: This film was played out of order, a stylistic choice, and something that confused the people around me. Personally I got a bit annoyed at the title cards splitting the film into acts. It didn't add anything for me, but instead fragmented the film. Overall: A brilliant film with only a few small snags.

Cruel Games

Lune noir started off strongly with a lovely split screen shot, some funny actors and great lyrics. The problem was, it didn't maintain that quality all the way through. The story was about a man who had two girlfriends who didn't know about each other. The whole thing was relayed with bouts of song and even a little synchronised dancing which was quite good. Upon realising they were dating the same man, the ladies made the only sensible choice, and decided to date each other. There was a massive cheer for the first on-screen female/female kiss of any heat this year which, considering the theme of many films so far, I was surprised we didn't get to earlier. Some good shots, funny pauses and great lyrics, slightly brought down by the weird double homicide ending which gave it all a serious turn that muffled the sense of amusement from the rest of the film. One of the actresses was clearly a stronger singer than the other one, which created a little bit of unbalance considering the script seemed to call for them being evenly matched in every way. I enjoyed it, the ending not so much, it was nice to hear a good score and some solid singing, and overall it was quite good.

Wire Rose

This superhero film followed the love interests of a small, introverted man, who had relationship issues due to the fact that his girlfriend was a superhero who could turn into a piece of wire at will. It was more of a romantic comedy than a superhero film, though it definitely fit into both genres, and the narration was quite clever, especially the scene where the man explains how it was obvious when Wire Rose (the superhero/love interest) was not 'in the mood', and we cut to a shot of a piece of wire in the bed. I loved the twist at the end, though there was a bit of overacting that gave it away earlier in the film. Some nice colours and good cinematography here, and I admire them for tackling a romance in addition to their allocated genre. A wee bit long in places, but a good watch.

What A Guy!

It’s difficult to create a period piece in a 48 hours film. ‘What a Guy’ did a really good job of this with their narrated glimpse back in time. This type of storyline has been explored a lot in the past, and it feels like the team liberally borrowed from Stranger than Fiction, but it was nonetheless a charming piece. It only caused a problem by setting a precedent for the ending of the film, which despite their “shock ending” genre, was rather predictable from about halfway through their film. I really loved the vintage vibe, the tone was set beautifully and apart from an unfortunate scene against a very modern looking Auckland skyline, they really strived to take you on a journey back in time. Overall a very enjoyable piece, if a little derivative.

"Perfect"

A man purchases an android woman to fulfil his wishes, but is not quite satisfied. Audio: 2 Video: 2.5 Story: 3 Acting: 2.5 Pros: It was a very cute film, had some funny moments and the split screens worked well in places. The first android lady was fantastic, she had real personality which I thought was brilliant, some excellent acting there. I also really enjoyed the song over the end credits. Cons: A few minor sound issues, in general not as "polished" technically as it possibly could have been. Overall: Some great visual gags and a good story. Could have been a bit more development technically, but overall a solid film.

20q

I had a very difficult time watching this film. Although the characters were clear to understand and the simple story made sense, the painful gory graphics were a bit too much for me. Amazing job on behalf of the special effects team who obviously did their job beautifully, and the lead actress did a great job. A bit more story development might have been nice, and I felt some of the violence might have been unnecessary to the plot, but that may be personal taste. Loved the animated intro except for the extra frame at the end which is singed onto my eyeballs. Good job on the grossness, it was to the max!

Chums

A man gets a new flatmate who is a little over-friendly. Audio: 4 Video: 4 Story: 3.5 Acting: 3.5 Pros: Bald Faced Cheek do some hilarious films and this year's is no exception. A nice blend of witty, offensive and downright out-there humour. I immensely enjoyed the ending which really set this apart from your average obsessive friendship film, of which there are many this year. Cons: It was very much the same thing they do every year. Having seen this group's films before, it's difficult to get into the characters when you remember them from previous years' films. That being said, it was only a minor issue. Overall: Another brilliant film by this team. Their writers have a great sense of humour, though not as offensive as some previous entries. PS: I loved the giant cupcake.

What A Guy!

It’s difficult to create a period piece in a 48 hours film. ‘What a Guy’ did a really good job of this with their narrated glimpse back in time. This type of storyline has been explored a lot in the past, and it feels like the team liberally borrowed from Stranger than Fiction, but it was nonetheless a charming piece. It only caused a problem by setting a precedent for the ending of the film, which despite their “shock ending” genre, was rather predictable from about halfway through their film. I really loved the vintage vibe, the tone was set beautifully and apart from an unfortunate scene against a very modern looking Auckland skyline, they really strived to take you on a journey back in time. Overall a very enjoyable piece, if a little derivative.

An Eye for an Eye

The message in this musical was actually quite refreshing. There have been a lot of films which have brought revenge down on Bobby Young, our ex bully, and the message of “That was a long time ago, it's time to get over it, let's have a beer” was one I loved. The score was a bit shaky in places, but also funny, cheesy and carried the story well. The idea that a bully is confronted and blames a bigger bully for his actions was also original, though I was surprised more films didn't address it. It's never easy getting musical, and this team came away with a film they can be proud of. Some great moments and original themes, despite the cheesy music.

That's Fab

That's Fab is about picking up the wrong shopping bag and where it can lead you. Audio: 4/5 Video: 3/5 Story: 3/5 Acting: 5/5 Pros: This film had a great script. The acting from the villain character was absolutely fantastic, and the other characters delivered some great performances too. Cons: There's not much to criticise about this film, it was very clean and well delivered. It was very similar to another film, but the ending saved it. Perhaps do a bit more with your lighting and video quality, just for that last polish. Overall: A hilarious film with great acting and story, watch the similarities to other films, hope to see some sweet lighting next year!

DAS BEAT

A man has to protect his perfect mix from falling into the wrong hands Audio: 3/5 Video: 2/5 Story: 3/5 Acting: 3/5 Pros: 10 Trucks have a particular style of things looking a little bit bad, which is fine. It actually adds to it, because it increases the humour value of this film. A lot of cheesy lines and acting, but done well! Cons: Might have gone a bit overboard with it. The sound really could have used a bit more work, and some bits seemed a little dark. Overall: A funny, silly film, not trying to be more than it is. I also really love their team logo animation.

Doodles

Doodles was a cute little story about an office worker scanning and emailing his doodles to a colleague/love interest. It was very cute and was one of the best Rom-Coms this year, really embracing the genre. I do get a slight feeling of deja vu, as if I've seen this film before, and it's a nagging feeling I couldn't throttle. I had a bit of an online look, and this concept's actually been done several times before in one way or another, which I guess is fair enough, it's hard to write something that hasn't been done before, but it did disappoint me a teeny bit I must admit to note its similarities to the June 2009 short "Post-it Love. There was also a wee bit of confusion in the middle when he was drawing things about other people, I couldn't quite work out whether he was drawing what he saw or if what he drew ended up happening. I can't remember anything about the compulsory elements which is a great sign that they were integrated quite well and not at all showy or forced, which is not an easy thing to do when an audience has seen them many times already. It was a cute, well-developed short and everyone was gushing at the end. The cinematography was really nice and the whole thing seemed well polished, well paced and well written. I loved it, and definitely got a case of warm fuzzies at the end.

Lawn People

This film left me dazzled and confused. A lesbian couple and another woman who's relationship to them is never quite explained, move into a house owned by a rather sleazy landlord. The film plays to the masses with a lot of touching and stroking among the lesbian couple, and a cut to them cuddling in bed. They hear strange noises, and cuddle up to their seemingly unrelated friend in the other room, then the next day find out there are lawn spirits who won't let anyone cut the lawn, and that his wife was a hippy who managed somehow to merge with the lawn. As bad films go, this one was quite funny,if you like very low-brow humour. All the characters in this film were well developed, though I remained confused about the motivation of the friend character. The lesbian couple proceed to have a seance on the haunted lawn, which released the wife of the landlord, who asked the girls not to tell her husband she was back, and proceeded to a three-way lesbian kiss. This definitely played to the audience, who were whooping in their seats. 'Lawn People' was easy to follow, and although it was definitely bizarre, it wasn't confusing and it was pretty original. Some of the shots were nicely done, and the over-acting fitted with the general mood of the film.

Eggspiry Day

This film was very strong, and was both funny and very captivating. The doctor tells a woman that she has exactly 24 hours in which to get pregnant, or she will never be able to. Eggspiry Day was captivating, providing an unusually good balance between heart-wrenching sympathy and outrageous gross comedy which will leave you on the edge of your seats. The lead actress took us on an emotional rollercoaster and did an amazing job. It made you laugh, cry, groan and cringe in your seat, but despite a less-than-surprising ending, everyone was still hissing and groaning when it was revealed. It was a fantastic film, well thought out and had the audience wrapped around its little finger.

License to Film

Overall I enjoyed the majority of this film and it kept me intrested throughout. It didn't seem like cringe comedy or gross out to me however, and there were a lot of loose ends either poorly explained or not wrapped up at all, like the cow subplot. It was somewhat redeemed by some genuinely funny moments and the best use of overhead shot Ive seen this year. All in all a good effort.

Bus Stop Love

Bus Stop Love is what you get when a bunch of bros get “Rom Com” as a genre. All and all, it was a vast improvement on Sydney Manson and the Magical Glasses, their 2010 Musical, and was very enjoyable to watch. The personality of each character was solid, especially the one that liked to watch his friend sleep, who was hilarious. The bus stop scenes were well constructed, and the double punchline, while a bit brutal, was great and had the audience going. Well put together, not as polished visually as some other films, but that didn't detract from it at all, and it managed to not be too long, which is a common problem. Well done on a great film.

A Letter To A Samurai

After watching this film, I was very disappointed that it was disqualified. It started with the most gorgeous dawn shot I've seen so far, mist through a field and the sun peeking up over the trees, and we cut to a pair of samurai walking through the picture. We soon discover the film is a comedy, about a talkative and inappropriate samurai student and his master, journeying to deliver a letter. After the first shot, the shots become a lot less epic, much closer and less interesting. It's probably an unfair thing to say, but after the sheer beauty of the first shot, the rest looked rather mediocre. It was still well shot, nicely graded and appropriately paced. We follow the samurai who walks along chattering as his silent master (or mistress in this case) follows. There's just something about the acting in the student character who is overly cheerful and ignorant which makes him loveable. He makes multiple references to his “slutty master” who is also very wise and silent, and there are some fantastic one-liners that sent the audience roaring with laughter. In one scene, the student, who had just been scared away by a thug guarding a fence, exclaiming “Were you trying to teach me a lesson? So sluttily wise.” It's hard to explain this film without ruining it, it's definitely one worth watching and has some fantastic dialogue and characters, it's guaranteed to make you laugh.

Vic Meyer: Neighbourhood Crime Watch

A mockumentary about a dedicated accountant-turned-neighbourhood-watchman. Audio: 3/5 Video: 2.5/5 Story: 2/5 Acting: 2.5/5 Pros: It had some pretty funny moments. There was a great leap over a fence and a Cluedo gag which got a lot of laughs. The scripting was great in places and the main actor was appropriately overdone. While the age of the main character didn't fit the actor, it didn't actually bother me in this case. Cons: It felt a bit long in places, and a bit more attention could have perhaps been paid to the way it was shot (lighting, framing etc.). The ending was pretty well anticipated by the time we got there, which ruined the reveal. Overall: A good attempt. A bit more planning and storyboarding might have helped this film, and perhaps a more unique twist on the ending.

Kit-astrophy

In this mockumentary style film we followed a drummer through a few days of his life, and it stood out for some great cinematography. The idea was very solid, and it was very enjoyable to watch. This film could have benefitted from some snappier editing in the start, and a few things were perhaps a little unclear but overall a great effort and a brilliant ending.

Playin' the Game

It's always hard reviewing a friend's film, but I am going to try to do this as objectively as possible, and as fairly as I have done other reviews. I knew in advance that Dog's Breakfast were going away from stop-motion Lego and on to a serious live-action film, which helped ease my disappointment a bit. I really didn't like their film as much as last year. While generally OK, the cinematography was pretty rough in places, and the audio got a little fuzzy. Some of the acting was a bit over the top, and the lines didn't always seem natural or comfortable to the actors. However, Dogs Breakfast do have a wicked sense of humor and a firm grasp of irony, and while some were a bit confused by the ending, I didn't really have much of a problem grasping it. Sure, they left themselves a few plot holes trying to create twists, and the story was a bit generic, but I had fun watching it, and it wasn't a struggle keeping awake as it was with some other shorts in this heat. This team's bursting with creativity, and I think the animation medium really helped them express that last year. There's just too many immaculately polished films out there which left this one looking a little shabby.

Down To The Wire

This film left me a bit confused. After a lengthy nightclub scene with a bunch of old men and a young foreign girl, the next morning she announces she's being deported that very day, and her much older male friends take her on a tour of Auckland's sights. While there was definitely driving in this one, I wouldn't really call it a road movie, as the destinations were far more prevalent than the journey itself. The age difference between the actors really grated on me through this film, and it was never really explained. Overall it was a bit long, and a bit curious, but it made sense plot-wise which is something, and the cinematography wasn't bad.

BonaFide

This film was a little bit confusing. We follow the interrogation and conversations of Bobby Young, who is being accused of killing his girlfriend or wife, who has a twin sister. Through the film we follow various friends and relations of his expressing their absolute doubt of his guilt while the detective thinks he did it, which we discover at the end, he did. That's kind of all there was to this film. I can see what they were trying to do, paint the character as innocent while he was guilty all along, but in the end we were given no motive for the crime, even a psychopath has a reason for killing someone, it just wasn't explained very clearly what happened and why. I think were the ending a little more clear, this would have been a solid film, there was definitely not much else wrong with it other than the confusion in the plot. Some good camera shots and a reasonably finished looking performance, a pity about the ending.

Magnet Man

This was one of the few films which had a superhero being a classical superhero. There were some great shots in the comic-style introduction and though the story was very linear and predictable, there were some funny moments. I particularly enjoyed the villain's exclamation “foiled again” when he was covered in foil by the hero. There was also a very good hook in the middle where the villain calls the hero, but being magnet man, his phone keeps getting repelled by him. There was also a fantastic piece of dialogue by the villain; “All of my life you've tortured me to the heart of my soul's heart”. The magnet man theme song was very catchy and amusing, and the whole thing had a really rough over the top feel to it, which added to its comedic appeal.

The Tale of Sir Foster's Wife

It tickles me to see another team attempt puppetry, and 'The Tale of Sir Foster's Wife' is a film I enjoyed more for the style than anything else. The story appears to closely follow 'The Marriage of Sir Gawain', a medieval ballad about what women want. While there was a disclaimer at the beginning that it was an adaptation, and despite the story itself not being subject to copyright, following a story or myth so closely feels against the spirit of the competition. The shadow puppets were delightful, despite the film overall seeming a bit dragged out, but the cutaway to the live-action flowers were disjointed and the metaphor didn't work very well. I enjoyed the story itself but a few shorter editing choices might have made it better, not to mention better framing on the shadow puppets. Nonetheless, it was a brave thing to do and I hope to see more puppets from them in future!