second-guessing slate’s sci-fi shorts selections, day 2

Today I continue my critique of Slate.com’s 2012 sci-fi shorts with Memorize. You might want to check out yesterday’s post on Archetype if you haven’t already. Spoiler warning again, if you can say that discussing a seven-minute film embedded in the very page you’re reading is “spoiling” it.

Memorize‘s first mistake is that it subscribes to the theory that in the future, everyone will look like a model. It’s a look so prevalent in sci-fi that it’s a kind of convention, and you could just be chalk it up to the filmmakers’ desire to make the future look slammin’. But while stylization like this has its merits, it’s hard to justify from a story perspective, and in a drama like this, it probably detracts from the sense of visceral grittiness that we are probably looking for, especially in this sort of noir-ish dystopia.

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second-guessing slate’s sci-fi shorts selections, day 1

I’ve finally got around to checking out Slate.com’s list of the six best sci-fi shorts of 2012, so starting today, I’m taking a look at a short a day.

I don’t have a particular rubric I’m working off of, but for each one of these, I’ll be thinking specifically how the sci-fi element helps/hinders or maybe even hydrates/hogties the storytelling.

I will say, every one of these shorts boasted dazzling FX, at least by the standards of my untrained eye, so I will refrain from sliming on that aspect.

Today’s short is Archetype, from director Aaron Sims.

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the six dollar fifty man messes with expectations you didn’t even know you had

In my post on Tuesday about the awesome New Zealand short The Six Dollar Fifty Man, I didn’t get into some of the neater storytelling sleight of hand used by the directors for fear I would scare off some people. But the movie has two great ploys that it would have been sad to forget about just because they’re a little hard to describe.

First, a great switcheroo, though you might want to check out the video before you read on to make the following more comprehensible. You’ll see at about the 2:00 mark (and in the above screen shot) that our little hero Andy, dressed in red, has just jumped off a roof. This creates an immediate tension — what the ef is this kid thinking and is he going to be okay when he lands? — and the next shot is of the ground below at a blank spot where we think he’ll arrive any second, probably disastrously. And then, suddenly, dropping into the frame … is a doll, in a pinkish outfit that looks like Andy’s, and, wait huh? Then the kid alights gracefully in the background.

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the six dollar fifty man: being a superhero without being obvious about it

I swear I was planning on digging in and perusing several shorts to find one worth posting, but The Six Dollar Fifty Man happened to be the first one I looked at under Vimeo staff picks. It’s from a couple of years ago but only seems to have been posted to Vimeo a couple of months ago, and besides, it would have been completely worth posting anyway.

I admit off the bat that there are probably too many close-ups, but that’s true of loads of films, and this has some stellar compositions that make up for it. Check out this peach of a shot, from about 9:50:

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