Wednesday, 11 May 2011

Wednesday Review: Starship

Hey guys, sorry I've been away for so long, being back home with my family and friends seems to take up a lot of my time. Projects will probably a little low during the summer months, so I'm going to be updating my blog at least once a week, every week, with a review of a film I've watched. This doesn't necessarily mean a recent Hollywood film, it could be and old film from the 70s, a film I saw at a film festival, a film on the internet, anything. And I'll be calling these reviews Wednesday Review. I'm bad with names, so sue me.

The first film I'm going to review is an musical that first debuted on stage in Chicago in February, then made it's way to Youtube on April 30th. I watched it the moment it hit Youtube but was unable to find time to review it until now (so I watched it again ... cause it's totally awesome). So he's my review of Team Starkid's Starship!

Review after the break

Starship Logo.

Example of visual effects now used in Starkid Productions.

Starship differs greatly from past Starkid shows in that there are a lot of special effects used this time. The opening scene is a promotional video for the Starship Rangers, a group of intergalactic travelling, planet conquering human beings. The entire scene is shot in front of a green screen with various visual effects placed in the background. Team Starkid have used a lot of Adobe After Effects (or a similar program) to create various effects in the show. Though most of them are simply laser beams fired from guns, the opening scene features a wide variety of different images, videos, and effects that are not only visually appealing, but very skilfully used. This scene alone shows the wide array of skills that Team Starkid has.

Starship Ranger Promotional Video.
Starship also differs from past Starkid shows in that the opening song does not occur immediately at the start of the show, but rather 2:22 in. Since this is Starkid’s first big show outside of school the team has access to a lot more equipment. For the first time the actors have microphones which is great because the audience is able to hear everything the actors are saying instead of being drowned out by music or else not projecting their voice enough. The second thing that is new, and the biggest thing of the show, is the puppets used. There are about a dozen different puppets in Starship operated by various cast members. What’s remarkable about these puppets is that they were designed by someone who works for Jim Henson Productions. These puppets are top of the line, Muppet-Style creatures.

Now, enough comparing Starship to older Starkid shows, it’s time to focus on the show itself. Being a stage play, it’s a lot harder to work with than a film, so the camera, like suspected, is only so good. There are several points were we see the camera zoom, pan, or tilt at moments where it shouldn't, which can make it visually jarring. It’s clear that the camera operators have some knowledge of film etiquette and do their best to relay a stage play as a film. The acting, as per usual, is both very well done, as well as comically well timed.

Joey Richter as Bug.
The actors operating the puppets are clearly seen operating them, and at times it can be distracting watching the actors instead of the puppets. However the camera operators have done a good job trying to frame the puppets instead of the actors, so that the audience will avoid looking at the actors. On a related note, the audience must use their extension of disbelief to pretend that the actors are not on stage, but rather only the puppets are, and that those puppets are real creatures.

Cast of bugs performing "I Wanna Be".
Looks like I’m going back to comparing it to older Starkid shows again. But once again Starkid, or more specifically Darren Criss, has written some great tunes for the show that get stuck in your head long after the show is done. *Quietly hums “I Wanna Be”*

Every line Jim Povolo says is hilarious.

Joe Walker as Solid Snake.
Nick Lang is a fantastic voice actor. In A Very Potter Sequel he played four different characters (that I’m aware of) each one with a different voice. Once again we get to see his talents at altering his voice in Starship. I’m positive he could easily get a job doing voice overs for cartoons.

Even with new special effects to use, nothing beats the good old fashioned Styrofoam cut-out.

One of the great things about Starship is it’s abundance of pop culture references. For example we’re introduced to Joe Walker’s character Solid Snake ... I mean Commander Up. Let’s not forget Doctor Space Claw. There are probably about as many references in Act 2 Part 3 from the 4min marker to about 5:30min marker as there are in the rest of the show put together.

Dylan Saunders as Tootsie Noodles and Meredith Stepien
as Mega-Girl.
Meredith Stepien plays Mega-Girl in Starship. Some Starkid fans may not recognise her, but for those of you that looked back at their work before A Very Potter Musical, you might recognise her as one of the band members of The Hot Girls from Little White Lie. P.S. She’s amazingly attractive AND a good singer AND funny. Just throwing that out there.

Pincer operated by four people. One on each claw, one on the
body/tail, and Saunders on the head.
Pincer is probably the most complicated creature/puppet thing of any Starkid show yet. It takes four people to operate it. Not entirely sure if I’d say it’s clever or cliché that they light Pincer with a villainous red light every scene he’s in. On one hand it’s a good use of foreshadowing, on the other it’s something very simple, obvious, and over done.

Gotta get me one of those Headbands.
Bug, Joey Richter, and Ron Weasley all shop at the same store for headwear. Gotta get me one of those headbands.

The jab at Glee was one of the best lines in the show, stalling the show for a full ten seconds full of the audience’s cheers, laughter, and applause.

Eep Opp Ork Ah Ah

Overall the show is a great film. It has a Disney feel to it, but has all the action of a sci-fi story. Despite being an almost three hour play that claims to be a musical, the soundtrack is only about half an hour long. This is another reason I like to think of this show as more of a Disney movie than a musical. The acting is superb; with actors playing multiple roles it really broadens their acting scope. Not only is their acting good, but their singing is fantastic as well, which is key in a musical. The plot is a little cliché, but if you go in expecting that, and wanting that, then it’s a great film to watch. It has its plot holes as well, but there are far less of them than you’ll find in most Hollywood movies today. You can tell they took the time to fix any mistakes like that.

The visual and audio effects used for this show helped to make it better than their previous shows. The music really blends into the story rather than standing out as individual songs this time. It’s funny, heart-warming, action packed. There’s even that tear jerking moment at the end.

Overall I’d rate the show a 9/10. Not everyone’s perfect, like me. That’s why I’m holding out for a 10. Totally awesome guys.

Cast performing final number.

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