Greetings, Chris ‘Excelsior’ Mason here with another edition of Superhero Hype!’s Fan Film Spotlight. This time out, rather than one film I’ve chosen four of my more recent favorites. Fan films have been around for years, those industrious fans feeling unsatisfied with some of Hollywood’s attempts at bringing their favorite heroes to the big screen, these talented fans have taken it upon themselves to make their own superhero movies. With the digital revolution, anyone with a video camera and a hundred dollars worth of editing software can produce DVD quality films in the comfort of his/her bedroom!
I’ve been a huge supporter of fan films since I made my first superhero “fan film” way back in 1977. I shot it with my dad’s old silent 8mm film camera, (yep, I said 1977 â€“ yes, I’m that old – and yes, I said film) I can still see my younger brothers dressed as the Green Hornet & Kato leaping around the backyard fighting evil.
Over the last few years, I’ve spotlighted a number of up and coming filmmakers; Dan Poole
(“Green Goblin’s Last Stand”), John Fiorella (“Grayson”), Aaron Schoenke (“Batman: Legends & Patient J”) to name just a few. Well, here we are with a new list of filmmakers looking to put their spin on some of their favorite heroes. Who knows, maybe one of these could be the next Spielberg or Lucas?
LARA CROFT TOMB RAIDER: TEARS OF THE DRAGON
Written & directed by Nick Murphy, producer & star Valerie Perez.
This very ambitious globe trotting fan film finds intrepid Tomb Raider Lara Croft embarking on her most personal mission. Lara must find the legendary 500-year-old jade dragon called The Tears of the Dragon, an artifact said to have amazing healing powers, before time runs out for a dying friend.
TOTD has what every Tomb Raider fan wants, lots of action, pyrotechnics, gun battles, stuff blowing up, but most of all it has Lara Croft as played by Valerie Perez. Ms. Perez is down right hypnotizing in every frame of this film and could indeed give Angelina Jolie a run for her money. Director Nick Murphy and his crew have pulled out all the stops, with locations ranging from the blazing desert, china town, deserted alleyways to deep dark underwater caves. The fight choreography is very well done and Perez more than holds her own shooting and punching it out with the bad guys. The weapon fire-power alone in this film is enough to make your ears ring for a week! If you are a fan of the Tomb Raider films, and just can’t wait for a third big-screen adventure, then “Tears of the Dragon” will give you that much needed Lara Croft fix!
WONDER WOMAN: BALANCE OF POWER
Directed by Ron Satinano, written by Ed Merta, produced by Ron Satinano & Chuck Stone, starring Michelle O’Neil.
Not unlike Lara Croft, this Wonder Woman fan film has a very strong and recognizable heroin front and center. For most fans, Lynda Carter is the one and only WW. But if you can’t get her to be in your fan film then Michelle O’Neil is your next bet. O’Neil, while not quite the six foot four image of WW, what she lacks in stature she more than makes up for it by bringing a certain exotic nobleness to the role. “Balance of Power” finds Wonder Woman once again fighting World Inc. (WW fought them in an earlier fan film “Battle For Justice”) Wonder Woman must rescue agent Steve Trevor from the clutches of the nefarious villain, known as the Neutralizer, who just so happens to possess a weapon powerful enough to take down the Amazon princess. The film boasts some great fight choreography full of dramatic camera work and, as far as I know, the first time we have ever seen WW fly in live action! Overall BOP is one of the finer examples of fan filmmaking and I for one can’t wait for the next chapter “Shadow of Destiny,” teased at the end of the film and featuring a team up with Superman!
CATWOMAN: THE DIAMOND EXCHANGE
Written & directed by Chris R.Notarile, starring Niki Notarile.
Continuing the trend of strong female heroes or in the case of Catwoman, anti-heroes. This Catwoman film is another example of what you can do if you put your mind to it. Rather than one film, Chris Notarile has designed six chapters to tell his story of Catwoman attempting to get her paws on a rare diamond called ‘The Eye’ all the while trying to fight off the hired hit-man out to eliminate her. If you like your feline jewel thieves slinky & sexy then Niki Notarile is your kind of Catwoman. Niki proves she can not only look great in skin tight purple but she also proves that she can kick the stuffing out of big-bad thugs while wearing it!
Chris Notarile has produced quite a collection of fan films. Check out his “Blue Beetle,” “Booster Gold,” and “Power Girl” shorts and the newly added “Joker.”
You can check out the film at the Blinky Productions.
Read the complete fan film Q&A with the filmmakers HERE.
THE GREEN HORNET
Directed by Aurenlien Poitrimoult.
I’ve been tracking the progress of this one for some time. This film reminded me of John Fiorella’s “Grayson,” with its grittier take on the familiar heroes. The Green Hornet is not the first thing that pops into your head when you think gritty. GH has always been one of those characters that lives just outside of everyone’s awareness. The last time we saw GH on film was the 1960’s TV show featuring Van Williams & Bruce Lee. French filmmaker Aurenlien Poitrimoult has paid homage to that show but taken it further and showcased what a really cool Green Hornet film could look like. It’s slick and professional, the special effects help sell the noir of the film and the fight scenes are some of the best I’ve seen in a long time. The premise of the film is simple, the mysterious Green Hornet has been branded as a thief and he and sidekick Kato must go after the real villains and clear his good name. From the very start, once you see the Green Hornet & Kato mow through 4 thugs without so much as breaking a sweat, you will be hooked! The highlight of the film is a fantastic alley fight that is on par with anything Hollywood could dish out. The end credits of the film alone remind me that this could easily be a show on TV or the big-screenâ€¦ why isn’t Hollywood letting guys like these make this into a real studio backed movie?
While the films above are by no means perfect, they all suffer at times from poor lighting & sound and sometimes the dialogue can be a bit stiltedâ€¦ Keeping it all in perspective, these films were made in a matter of days for the pure love of it and on the budget of one day’s worth of doughnuts from Halley Berry’s Catwoman! The intention here is to not dwell on the faults of these films, but rather to spotlight the talented and devoted young filmmakers of tomorrow!
I want to personally thank Ron & Michelle, Aurenlien, Chris & Niki and Nick & Val. All are talented filmmakers and actors, thanks for taking the time to share your films with Superhero Hype!
I had the pleasure of talking via email with all the filmmakers, please visit our Fan Fiction & Films at the links at the bottom of each film spotlight for the full Q&A on what these filmmakers have to say about their projects!
Till next timeâ€¦ SAME BAT-TIME, SAME BAT-CHANNEL!
Chris “EXCELSIOR” Mason
(*)Disclaimer: It should be noted, that the fan films spotlighted here are intended as ‘non profit’ and done for the pure love of the characters and medium. SuperheroHype.com makes no claims to any of the films, the filmmakers or to the respected copyright holders.