Dustin P. Anderson
Our story follows Kitch, one of only a few survivors from a deadly outbreak that has devastated much of the world. Kitch makes his living by taking down drones and stripping them for parts. The most valued part is Arcanum pellets, which have taken over as currency in this bleak future. One day, after trying to sell some Arcanum pellets to reclaim a camera that was stolen from him, he meets a drone marked with DR1 . Kitch thinks that this drone will lead him to his father, who was last seen trying to find a cure for the plague that ravaged the world. On his travels to find his father, he is joined by the niece of a gangster who is hunting them. The two search for Kitch’s dad together while trying to avoid her uncle and protecting DR1.
There’s something very bleak about having to review a movie like this when I can tell that there was so much effort poured into the project. This was an experimental, passion project with an extremely low budget. I tried to keep that in mind as I watched the subsequent film, but there is so much here that is wrong, I end up struggling to find what went right.
Fortunately, one of the things that went right in this was the cinematography. When you are dealing with a project centered on machines whose main claim to fame is “being a flying camera” I could only hope that cinematography was first on the list of “things to get right.” Nothing appeared out of focus, nothing appeared to be at a disturbing angle, and the quality of the shots all looked to be of a professional caliber. There is not one bad thing that I can say about the shots that I saw throughout the movie; the only things I can say are the few nitpicks I noted. I wish had more shots from the drone prospective when Kitch was in his race. I wish there were more experimental angles taken with these cameras, since the main selling point of this movie (AKA movie about drones) is so experimental. Aside from those two things the camera work in this couldn’t be touched; the film just starts going downhill when we start looking at the rest of the movie.
The downward spiral begins with the sound; usually I’d start with the story, but the sound was something that bugged me throughout the entire runtime. I had to restart this film from the beginning with the subtitles on, because the dialog was infuriatingly low, and the rest of the movie was cranked to eleven. To put this into prospective, there is a scene where Kitch is talking to a character named Hashtag, and a significant portion of their exchange is inaudible due to some leaves crackling in the distance. Trust me when I say that this example is not an exaggeration. The audio is saved at some times by a good song coming on; then that saving grace is shot down by 70’s/80’s style beats mixed in. A lot of the audio in this reminds me of Tron, except in this version I can’t hear Jeff Bridges.
The story in this was fair for an apocalypse piece, but just barely. The entire story behind “the virus” is told to us with newsreel footage in the beginning credits of the movie. The rest of the time that we hear about the virus is in regards to the fallout and when in search of a cure. Nothing seems to be at stake in this universe. No one seems to be on opposite sides, just sides that somewhat disagree. The entirety of the animosity in this story seems like a moment where you fight with a friend over a videogame and at times that fight gets a bit too real (like if you’re playing Mario Kart with a friend, and he hits you in real life out of aggravation). Confused by my comparison of video games? Well, that is because there are some heavy-handed geek-bait moments in this. The first thing Kitch does when he gets home with a limited supply of power? Plays a game called Earthbound. The secret lair of our “antagonist” is in an arcade. When Kitch gets his camera back, it is spliced with pictures of the main actor holding up a Wii U. It’s only somewhat made clear to me after watching this movie in its entirety that these characters are trading Arcanum pellets as a source of power, which leads me to question why they are wasting so much power running arcade games that no one is playing. It takes far too long for the creator to let us in on the fact that these drones have Artificial Intelligence; until the race begins you are only left to assume. The team-up between Kitch and Maya seems to happen randomly and with very little provocation; with that in mind, everything in this movie is treated as a reveal, even the most mundane parts.
The cast is the final bad point of this picture. Going through the IMDB page of this movie, you can surmise that most of this cast has little to no experience. In fact there are only three actors who have more than two accredited roles, besides the one they are playing in this movie. No one is good in this; they only have good points. The main actor Christian Kapper has a great voice for the inner monolog scenes, but he cannot emote. At all. When all of the things at his place are burned to a crisp, there is little to no reaction from him. Of the girls, Natalie Welch is the closest person I can find in this movie with any discernable talent. She doesn’t seem to know how to act on camera at certain points (like when she is in danger and I can tell she is desperately trying not to stare at the camera), but she gives a great monolog. All the acting in this is captioned by the director choosing to bleed the conversations into each other. When Kitch finds his father’s friend, the two have a conversation that feels as though two robots are talking to each other. There is a barely a beat between Kitch asking a question and the friend giving an answer.
In the end, I would only get this if you are desperate for cool shots from drones. There are plenty of extras on this that make the purchase of a Blu-ray worth it; the only bad thing is that you would have to eventually watch the movie.