Tuesday, 3 February 2015

sophie's fortune

last month i reviewed a short film called moments, directed by chris cronin and produced by phil meachem. sophie's fortune is another short from the same team, and though it's hugely different in terms of ambition and story it's similar in that it's another attempt at emulating hollywood on a fraction of the budget.

sophie's fortune is about a young father desperate to prove himself to his daughter, the sophie of the title. he finds the opportunity to do so at a childrens' party where the dads are challenged to a treasure hunt. sophie's dad must do whatever it takes to win the treasure hunt and bring the prize back to his daughter.

from the moment the film opens it's clear that the filmmakers have really done an amazing job with the production value of the piece. the music, the look of the film, the camera movement all suggest a project with much higher aspirations than your usual festival-fodder short. this is a film made by film fans who want to replicate the experience of a big budget hollywood blockbuster as closely as possible, and they really succeed. it looks and feels better than most straight to dvd/vod genre films i've seen and would even compete with a few big screen blockbusters. i don't know what the budget was but i'm sure it wasn't hundreds of thousands and this film could easily pass for having cost that much.

but it's not just how good the film looks, on top of that the actors really sell the story and the whole thing is genuinely exciting. i should explain that from the moment the treasure hunt starts the film enters a fantasy world where the dads are essentially action heroes in a full-on indiana jones style adventure, complete with a double-crossing villain, an army of henchmen and numerous traps and pitfalls along the way. there are some great gags in there as well and it's nice that despite how serious the filmmakers must have taken the process to achieve this level of quality they aren't above making the odd joke here and there too.

there are a couple of problems, perhaps the biggest being the length. the central idea is perfectly suited to a short film and would have worked fine in a ten minute running time, but at nearly half an hour sophie's fortune does begin to outstay its welcome in places. i was also a bit put out by the fact that the mums weren't included in the treasure hunt and feel it reinforces a dangerous stereotype of dads as big, violent kids that i personally could do without. lastly, the tone is a bit off and for what felt like it should be for kids was way too violent in places. then again, my dad showed me the original robocop when i was 7 and i loved it, so what do i know.

overall, the issues i had with the film didn't get in the way of my enjoyment and i did get a real kick out of watching it. it's free to watch online at www.sophiesfortune.com and i'll also post it below. if you like old school adventure movies and have wondered what a british indiana jones would look like i seriously recommend checking this one out.

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