short film review

Reviews and news about short films, short film festivals, reviews, links and guides to short films online,images from short films,directors,writers,cinemaphotographers. Copyright 2005, 2006 by Allan Maurer. All rights reserved.

Monday, December 05, 2005

Rex Steele, Nazi Smasher Kicks Swastika Butt

Alex Woo's "Rex Steele, Nazi Smasher," made the festival rounds last year (we saw it at the venerable Carolina Theatre in Durham NC at one of its many festivals). It's also over at AOL's

"Rex Steele" follows in the tradition of Richard Fleisher's 1940s Superman animations (I hesitate to call such elegant film-making cartoons). Both use film techniques to give their comic book narratives a cinematic feel one too seldom sees in animation then or now. The "Star Wars" reminescent music drives the action with lush movie orchestration while the direction is cinematic, cutting from moody, noirish establishing shots to Leone-style close ups.

Graphic narratives (comic books? graphic novels or stories) at their best are cinematic. They tell their action sequences in pictures as film does. We apprehend the world through these picture/action narratives. So they go straight to our brain and evoke an emotional response. That's why film is the most popular and universal medium man ever invented.

"Rex Steele" is more of a homage to the Fleisher style animation--or perhaps "Heavy Metal" magazine's, and others of their type, all too few though they are. It reminds us of how much more than the general TV type of animation so common is actually possible.

This is a simple hero-saves-the-girl story with more sexy "Heavy Metal" and Frank Frazetta style art than say Fleisher's 1940's Lois Lane. Those giant sci-fi machines, (one look and the phallic nature of those big pointy things is pretty obvious), the action-adventure formula, and the rock-jawed, bulging muscled hero all hark to archetypes of the genre. But they're used effectively and the audience actualy cheered when I saw this for the first time on a big screen. It's lots of fun without any serious message.
Both images in this post are copyrighted and used with permission of Alex Woo.


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