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Sunday, 24 October 2010

Lines in the Sand: Ties (2010)

Director: Justin Golightly
This film was an official selection at the 6th annual International Horror & Sci-Fi Film Festival in Tempe in 2010. Here's an index to my reviews of 2010 films.

While watching it, Lines in the Sand: Ties felt like an unfortunate way to start a set of science fiction shorts at IHSFF because it just didn't seem up to being at the festival, especially when shown immediately after a great selection of horror shorts. However it made a little more sense after the set was finished because all the films included were military themed and this one had the most overt connection to today's world, given that it's easy to draw parallels between this fictional Earth vs Mars war and real conflicts like Iraq or perhaps Vietnam. The film's successes all revolve around those parallels, as we presume we're supposed to side with Earth but are drawn instead into sympathising with the Martians, who are presumably colonists as they look very much like us. The invading Earth soldiers believe they have God on their side and bemoan the lack of gratitude from the Martians for what they're doing for them. It's a universal story.

Unfortunately there are a number of fronts where it falls apart. Initially I felt I was watching quite a few different Martians but as the film ran on, it became more likely that I was watching only two of them, merely at different points in time. This played havoc with motivation, especially as we're given no background to what this war is and why it's happening. In the film's defence, I should point out that rather than being a self contained short, it's apparently part of a feature that is still in production and so may well be subject to change. Nonetheless it was screened in public so should stand up as more than a work in progress and it didn't. Shot on greenscreen, it looked more like machinima, as if it had been shot within the graphics engine of a video game, I'm presuming there's a lot of graphic post production work still to come. Presumably there's a message to come too because I couldn't fathom one unless it's that terrorism is relative.

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