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Monday, July 6, 2015

"A Shadow of Dara" A Head Spinning Sci-Fi Action Epic . . . All In Under 15 Minutes!

"A SHADOW OF DARA" (2015)
Genre: Sci-Fi
Length- 14:15
Company: White City Productions

There's no time like the future -- because in "A Shadow Of Dara", in 2280 AD the Earth is destroyed by an evil race of alien creatures.

Bummer, right?

Well, fortunately for all of us, freedom fighter Nataly (Jo Price) leads a band of misfits back in time in an attempt to stop the evil aliens from manipulating pencil pusher AJ (Jonny Spurling) into giving up the crucial coordinates they need to eventually go forward with their genocidal plans.

Will Nataly and company succeed?

Only time will tell, as they say . . .

EPIC BREVITY

White City Productions is the team responsible for bringing us "Iscariot" earlier this year, and as far as tone and subject matter, not a lot has changed: we're still dealing with fairly dark stories, the question of identity, and whole worlds at risk of destruction.  These are big stakes we have on the line here, and director/editor Kirill Proskura pulls out all the stops to deliver as high quality a product as possible.

The result is a sometimes uneven short film that moves at lightning pace and manages not only suspense, but genuine fear and awe.  This is a truly huge story that Proskura and co-writer Andy Mihov are cramming into this short film, and the result may feel at times confusing but if you can jump over a couple of those hurdles, it's really quite a trip.

DELVING DEEPER

The first half of the film is without question the best -- with the insanity just out of reach and perfectly represented within the reach of the limited budget.  When the action kicks in, it's forced and the choreography is stilted.  Even so, you roll with it because the first half is charismatic and Proskura and company have built up so much steam that you genuinely want to see where this is going.

And oh, where it goes!  There's shades of The Matrix, there's bits and pieces of the best episodes of "Star Trek" here, and even a touch of Star Wars.  All these threads attempt to come together, but they never quite do, and the thriller-ish beginning doesn't quite explain sufficiently the setup for the action-ish middle.

Which brings me to the ending . . . inevitably, it's a bit of a letdown, but only because this is a fifteen minute short and not a two hour feature.  I enjoyed this short tremendously, and I'd have loved to watched a whole lot more of our characters' adventures.

I liked "Iscariot", but "A Shadow of Dara" demonstrates filmmakers who have developed their talent and are ready to move to the next level.

I cannot wait to see where the next adventure takes us!

OVERALL SCORES:

Writing: 4 / 5.  Proskura and Mihov's script delivers all the genre specifics fans are going to crave and then some, while at the same time entertaining some pretty deep thoughts.  The only problem -- and this is fairly minor -- is that the film moves at such a lightning pace that those deep thoughts have to be discarded almost as soon as they're introduced to make room for the next moment.
Directing: 4 / 5.  Proskura's visuals hit the mark once again.  I loved the part where AJ discovers the truth about the people around him in the beginning -- I don't want to spoil anything, but the shot of Jane (Lana MacIver) was chilling as she rose.  Brilliant.
Editing: 4.5 / 5.  Proskura is on editing duty here as well.  We move quickly, but the action (shot to shot) never gets disorienting.  The coloring looks great here too, with some other-worldly blues and reds used to good effect at various moments as our intrepid heroes explore an enemy ship.
Sound/Music: 3.5 / 5.  The music by Jacob Cetkowski was OK, though the first battle scene's song seemed silly.  Gethin Rhys Jones handled the sound design well, with all dialogue being audible and every sound effect ringing clear.
Acting: 3 / 5.  Price, Peter Imms, and Lana MacIver all were credible throughout.  Spurling was OK overall, but he sounded more like he was complaining when he was supposed to sound scared.  Some of the supporting cast were a little flat.

Final Grade: 3.8 / 5.

Don't forget to check out "A Shadow Of Dara" and follow the creators on Facebook!  When it comes out for online viewing, I'll post the link -- but until then, check out the trailer below!

And if you haven't had the chance to check out my review of White City Production's previous short film, "Iscariot", then check it out right here!






Thanks for reading! I'm a screenwriter and script consultant. Most recently, I've worked with LMC Productions and Mad Antz Films in Australia. I helped mold Goodybag Productions' award winning screenplay "The Teacher" and Michael Maguire's feature length script "The Wolfpack", which is still in development.

Check out my blog and let's get in touch!