Friday, November 11, 2011

Short Film Review: The Mini Boss (Third Person Action Scene)

Many see Hollywood’s plundering of superhero comics, cartoons, and video games as a sign of creative bankruptcy.  That’s a rather curious outlook given as to how tinsel town has a long and storied tradition of adapting material from other mediums.  Then again, relatively modern mediums such as video games don’t have the prestige that literary properties do.  Neither are they confined to the same laws of physics and traditional storytelling that that live action filmmaking usually is.  Perhaps that is why they provide so much inspiration for Hollywood’s showmen and ringmasters.  Every once in a while such inspiration leads to inventive and novel filmmaking.  Such is the case with the super short film The Mini Boss (Third Person Action Scene).

A spy observes a secret drop off/exchange taking place in an alleyway.  The delivery man, clad in a trench coat and cowboy hat, drops off a briefcase in front of a building entrance before walking inside.  The spy then sneaks up on the recipient of the brief case and violently assaults him, rendering him unconscious.  He then enters the building himself, equipped with a silenced semi-automatic pistol.  He swiftly and stealthily makes his way up to the rooftop, perforating every guard or henchmen that he comes upon in an efficient fashion.  He uses not only various firearms, but hand to hand take down tactics as well.  Upon finally making it to the rooftop, he confronts the mysterious urban cowboy, who has rather nasty surprise for him hidden under a red flag.

The Mini Boss (Third Person Action Scene) was made by Corridor Digital in conjunction with the Thousand Pounds Fight Team.  It is described as a take on the third-person shooter genre of video games, for which Wikipedia defines as “a game structured around shooting, and in which the player can see the avatar on-screen in a third-person view.”  A rather clinical definition, but it covers the basics.  However, it doesn’t adequately describe the adrenalized “run and gun” aesthetic displayed by such games.  Corridor Digital uses takes a rather novel approach to visualizing the medium and translating its kinetic energy to live action.

A behind the scenes video handily describes how the third person shooter perspective was achieved by creating a PVC rig for a Go Pro by attaching a Kino light plate to a tactical vest.  The lead actor/stunt person is then outfitted with the apparatus for certain shots.  It turns the camera into a proverbial low flying bird that peers over the characters shoulder.  It’s a truly novel approach to shooting action, giving the viewer a unique perspective.  Curiously, it also offers the gritty aesthetic of “shaky cam” without the resulting visual incoherence.  The camera does shake and sway a bit as the main character moves and runs, but not nearly enough to the turn the action into a muddled mess.

The clip is utterly kinetic, maintaining a steady stream of action from beginning to end.  It starts out relatively calm, with the hero using stealth and efficiency to engage his targets.  Some of his moves are extravagant flourishes, but not so much as to look ridiculous or out of place.  The clip then goes gloriously over the top during the rooftop confrontation.  The “mini-boss” wields a minigun.  The hero ridiculously uses a henchmen’s body as a human shield.  He evades the weapon simply by running in a circle around its user.  As a coup de grace, he uses the rotating action of the barrels turn the mini gun into a grindstone for sharpening his combat knife.  The moment is right out of a Looney Tunes short, the sort of thing that Bugs Bunny might do to antagonize Elmer Fudd.

The Mini Boss (Third Person Action Scene) is a three minute long testament to resourcefulness.  It challenges the notion that an action scene should or could never be an end unto itself.  It also challenges the idea that video games (and various other forms of “low culture”) cannot provide adequate inspiration for other more legitimate mediums, or foster innovation.  The Thousand Pounds Fight Team and Corridor Digital have created a mini masterpiece. 


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