Thursday, May 25, 2017

Philip K. Dick ’17: Aden (short)

It is unclear whether the Aden Corporation’s motives are altruistic or maybe slightly more sinister, but in the short run, they are the only force preventing full-scale chaos from erupting on the streets. More precisely, it is their beleaguered bounty-hunter who does all the hard work in Gary H. Lee’s short film Aden, which screens during the 2017 Philip K. Dick Film Festival.

Cyrus will be doing a lot of running tonight. His mission is to secure a gifted child from the giant killer robot on his tail. The beastly machine is invisible to most of the people on the street, but he can see it just fine—sort of like Roddy Piper in They Live. All those hipster bystanders assume Cyrus is crazy, until they feel the shock waves from its giant metal feet.

You can tell Aden is a proof-of-concept short, because it raises many questions about the nature of its world, but supplies absolutely no answers. Instead, it delivers a mega-concentrated dose of science fiction action. It is pretty amazing what kind of movie magic can be realized in short films these days, but Lee happens to be a special effects and animation specialist, whose credits include the Star Wars, Star Trek, and Kung Fu Panda franchises.

As Cyrus, Kevin Alejandro never gets a second of peace in Aden, but he is still the sort of hard-nosed, rumpled screen presence fans will appreciate. Charles Rahi Chun, Caroline Macey, and Logan Kishi are also completely convincing as the terrified family caught up in the strange phenomenon afoot.

This is definitely a cool looking film that evokes the cityscape of Ridley Scott’s Blade Runner as well as the Los Angeles of classic Hollywood film noir, making it a perfect selection for the Philip K. Dick Film Festival. It is also a compelling calling card for the planned feature film. (Note to studio talent scouts, there are a number of promising independent pilots and proof-of-concept shorts at this year’s festival.) Highly recommended for cyberpunk and noir fans, Aden screens this Saturday (5/27) as part of the Philip K. Dick fest’s Block 5: PKD Shorts—Inspiration or Adaptation at the Soho Playhouse.