Broken (see review for rating)

Posted on December 4th, 2005 in Movie Reviews by EngineerBoy

The producers of the short film clip “Broken” were nice enough to send me a review copy on DVD. There’s an interesting story behind this short film, as it was produced by independent film makers on a shoestring to serve as a demonstration of their film making skills, a sort of artistic audition, if you will. The difficulty on judging this piece stems from trying to figure out if it should be judged in the realm of Hollywood films (to which it aspires) or in the realm of shoestring, independent films (which it is). My only choice is to rate it both ways, so here goes.

Shoestring Film Rating (***½, grading on a curve)

If I had been shown this short film without having previous knowledge I would have assumed that it was from some schlocky new UPN/WB television series about spies. It’s got sort of an Alias-meets-Consipiracy-Theory-meets-Xena-meets-Seven kind of feel to it, but with cornier writing and acting. For a network television show or a Hollywood film, that would be faint praise. However, for something done in the manner of this short film, it’s actually very good. So, from the perspective of a couple of normal folks spending their own money to put something together, this film rocks.

Absolute Film Rating (*½, no curve)

However, if we ignore the origins of this piece, it comes in at a bit below average for Hollywood/network TV fare. The dialog and acting are sometimes okay, usually corny. The artistic direction is a bit trite with all the characters affecting the most obvious trappings of their stereotype. For example, the main bad guy’s schtick is he plays a harmonica, and the various henchpeople are tattooed, muscled, pleather-wearing, and/or cartoonishly menacing depending on the particular well-known caricature being attempted.

Overall Rating (**, combined rating)

So, if I put that all together I say that this is overall an average piece, but with flashes of talent, imagination, and drive that clearly demonstrate that the people behind it could probably step up to the major leagues. I think that was the purpose the producers had for this film, and in that I think they have succeeded. Consider that they went out of their way to locate this website, contact us, send us the DVD gratis, and continue to communicate to elicit feedback. They clearly want people to see and review their work.
They’ve even gotten a mention from Roger Ebert. They have also put a lot of work into their web site, where you can read more about their production of this film and its effects, and even buy a copy of you’re interested. In particular, if you have an interest in the making of film, the information on this site and on their DVD is incredibly interesting and entertaining.

For me, as a film aficianado, seeing people creating works like this is like a breath of fresh air. Yes, the film aspires to a lot of Hollywood cliches that I don’t find particularly compelling, but what it does it does well. It also shows that “cinema” is coming into the reach of the masses and it gives me hope that we’re moving to break the stranglehold that the big studios have on this type of entertainment. I urge Alex Ferrari and Jorge Rodriguez (the makers of Broken) to use this film as a Trojan Horse, allowing them to enter the gates of Hollywood film making, while allowing them to secretly bring their artistic sensibilities along for the ride and not be assimilated. Resistance is NOT futile!

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