Sunday, June 11, 2017

Short Film Spotlight: STARR: A POWER GIRL FAN FILM

Welcome back to another installment of SHORT FILM SPOTLIGHT. This week, we're taking a look at another superhero fan film, this time centering around the superheroine, Power Girl. So, without further ado, I present to you...STARR: A POWER GIRL FAN FILM!

One of the hardest things about doing these fan film reviews is figuring out exactly how hard I should be criticizing these films for things on the production side. Specifically, I've been thinking a lot about criticism for low budget special effects, especially in the context of Starr: A Power Girl Fan Film. And while I don't pretend to be an authority on criticism, I do think I know where I draw that line. For me, low budget special effects aren't automatically bad, at least if you know how to work with it. Depending on what you're doing and how you draw or don't draw attention to it, you can get away with a lot (next week, in fact, we'll be looking at a fan film that uses a low budget to its advantage).

Starr unfortunately falls into the trap of not only having a low budget, but making some unwise choices about how it chooses to use it. I can forgive things like Power Girl's laser vision looking a bit cheap, I can forgive her super speed not looking totally convincing, and I can forgive some particular angles used to simulate the super strength. That's all necessary, and in the latter's case, it's incredibly clever and resourceful. The flaws start to show when you get really cheap looking green screen backgrounds that really draw attention to the low budget. That, and a very odd CG fly that they decided to add in for some reason. It's a small thing, but these production flaws draw too much attention away from the film, and could've been masked better, in my opinion.

Fortunately, Starr isn't a trainwreck, especially when it comes to the performance of the main character. In many ways, this is a production salvaged by a genuinely charismatic and charming performance by Katherine Oswald. The film makes the wise decision of keeping the focus entirely on her. All other characters are generic and don't get much screentime, mainly because the focus is on our lead, where it should be. The story is about Karen Starr, the superheroine Power Girl, who's only just beginning to find her feet in the superhero game. The story is minimalistic, only giving us the barebones of what we need to know (the fact that Karen is the cousin of Superman isn't even mentioned in the film, only mentioned in the video's description), and that's a good thing. An overly complicated story would've taken away time for Oswald to really give Karen Starr real personality and vibrancy. Her dialogue is witty, she's got great presence, and she's great at making the film entertaining even when it's mostly just her talking to herself.

By the time we get to the end where Power Girl fully establishes herself, I feel like I've got a good grasp of who this character is, even if I wasn't already familiar with her from the comics (the fact that I am is just icing on the cake). It's a satisfying film, even with all its flaws taken into account. The best fan films make the watcher wish that they could get more in this universe. And while I often found myself wishing that some wiser choices were made on the production side, I still find myself wishing for more. And really, blemishes aside, what more could you ask for?

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