Thursday, September 30, 2021

Blush (short), on Apple TV+

In 1942, science fiction author Jack Williamson coined the term “terraforming” in his short story “Collision Orbit.” He never thought the process could be so easy for a space-faring horticulturalist like this young chap. The unnamed astronaut just needed the help of a pretty alien woman in Joe Mateo’s animated short Blush, which starts streaming tomorrow on Apple TV+.

Clearly, the astronaut’s defense system did not provide enough advance warning against asteroid collisions. As a result, he is stuck on a dwarf planet just marginally larger than the Little Prince’s, but it lacks handy features like an atmosphere or vegetation—until the alien girl also makes a sudden crash landing.

She looks very human, aside from a very flat nose. She also seems to magically supply oxygen and spurs the horticulturalist’s plants to take root and blossom on the formerly desolate rock. Soon, the planetoid is an oasis and the former travelers are happily in love. Naturally, they start a family, but eventually we see signs that the usual cycle of life must continue, even in paradise.

Blush is a more poignant and thoughtful depiction of humanity hitting the reset button than Apple’s Foundation. Although it holds great symbolic weight, it also represents a personal labor of love for Mateo, who was inspired by the passing of his own wife. It is accessible, but not dumbed-down. In fact, the absence of dialogue quite distinguishes it from the noisy pack (yet kids shouldn’t have any trouble with it, just like they could deal with Shaun the Sheep).

Blush is also quite impressive. Mateo (who had high-profile animation roles on several Disney films) makes the most of the science fiction backdrop. Ironically, he briefly echoes elements from Moon Zero Two’s animated title credits, but without the shticky goofiness.

Blush should definitely help establish Mateo and Skydance (the animation house) with fans of the medium. It is sweet and touching, while still incorporating some nice science fiction world-building (literally). Highly recommended for fans of Wall-E and Jack Williamson, Blush starts streaming tomorrow (10/1) on Apple TV+.