Saturday, March 10, 2012

Short Film Review: Chase

Early one morning on the I-95, an apocalyptic high speed chase is underway.  The entire police department is in hot pursuit of four sexy speedsters.  Given the manpower involved, these ladies shouldn’t be hard to snare.  However, they have more than a few tricks up there sleeve.  The interstate is their playground.  

Chase is an animated short produced by France based Space Patrol studios and directed by Philippe Gamer.  It’s like a Looney Tunes short, only much more elaborate. Imagine that the cops are Wile E. Coyote, the Girls are the Road Runner, and Michael Bay is standing in for Chuck Jones.  Of course, that last part might not be entirely accurate as Chase is more focused and cinematically disciplined that anything Bay could ever hope to deliver.    

Visually, Chase is a contrast in styles.  The exterior shots of the swarming police cruisers bobbing and weaving along the interstate are shockingly crisp.  Considering the obvious artificiality of the environment, they nearly look photo real.  The background vistas, camerawork, and vehicles are so well rendered that the character designs seem out of place at first.  To be fair, there is a method to the visual madness that isn’t revealed until the very end.

Action wise, Chase is as amazingly tight.  At the 1:19 mark there’s a pretty awesome multicar collision in which flatbed trucks careen out of control and police cruisers go flying.  The scale and scope of the whole thing make it look like something out of an over-the-top summer blockbuster.  Yet the physics are nearly perfect, resulting in a visual that feels real (relatively speaking).  It’s chaotic and overwhelming, yet clearly guided by a steady hand.

As the action moves out of the city and into the desert, the already exaggerated scenario goes full on surreal, with the highway suddenly morphing into a real life Tyco race track.  It’s the set up for yet another sight gag even crazier than the last one.  Just when it seems as though things couldn’t get any more insane, the film ends with a twist that would leave Rod Sterling in stitches.  It’s at that point that the viewer realizes the visual style of the film was a dead giveaway as to what was really gone the whole time.  

The biggest compliment one can pay Chase is that it leaves the viewer begging for more.  In a world where live-action filmmakers increasingly abandon discipline for the sake spectacle, Philippe Gamer uses animation to show that both can be maintained simultaneously.  Controlled chaos is an art mastered by few, but it’s essential for making a gem like this.  

The Chase from Philippe Gamer on Vimeo.