J.B. Spins

Jazz, film, and improvised culture.

Wednesday, August 03, 2016

FLY ’16: Heroes of the Realm (short)

Remember when video games cost a quarter and required players to stand on their own two feet? Evidently, there is at least one coin-operated video arcade still chugging along in Oklahoma City. Of course, as the genre film tradition demands, it is not just an arcade. It is also a portal to a fantasy dimension that a pizza deliverywoman will unwittingly open with her high score. Yes, everything is old school about Kyle Roberts’ short film Heroes of the Realm (trailer here), a recent selection of this year’s Comic Con International Independent Film Festival, which screens during the upcoming 2016 FLY Film Festival.

Anya Vickors has just been dumped via text (that’s very 2010’s), so she blows off steam 1980s style after making her regular pizza delivery to the neighborhood video arcade. When she sets the high score, the machine opens up, offering her a glowing golden bracelet. That’s all very nice, until Thorak, the big warrior lug, comes looking for her and the bracelet to help him stop an invasion of evil from his plane of existence.

Realm was shot as part of a 48-Hours Film Project, so the special effects are bound to be quick and dirty. However, there is something nostalgically appealing about it, bringing to mind the short-lived, hazily-remembered eighties fantasy spoof Wizards and Warriors. To her credit, Kate Le makes a terrific action lead as Vickors. The entire game cast handles the lunacy quite well, particularly Alissa Ford, who gets the best lines as Vickors’ roommate Gina. Stephen Goodman also looks the part and is quite the good sport as Thorak. Granted, the film’s humor could definitely be described as broad, but that makes it much harder to land.

If you remember pizza and video games as being a nice treat back in the Reagan years, Realm will be massively nostalgic. You could say it is like the fantasy version of The Last Starfighter, which is obviously cool (and the one-sheet art is awesome). The film just gives off good vibes. Highly recommended for those who will get its retro appeal, Heroes of the Realm screens twice this Saturday (8/6) as part of the FLY Film Festival in Enid, Oklahoma.

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