Icesica: An Introduction

Icesica Poster

I was an action figure kid. I had a big blue box full of them, all from multiple franchises like Doctor Who, Star Wars, Power Rangers. I played with them for years, enacting my own stories with epic plots and huge battle scenes.

One weekend, a friend of my father’s came over and showed me a moviemaking software, which came with a camera. Digital Blue Movie Creator was designed to introduce primary school children to animation and filmmaking. That weekend changed my life. I made countless animations with that software using action figures, army men, cuddly toys and even my own characters I made out of plasticine. For months my father’s friend would bring the camera over, let me keep it for a few weeks, take it back only to let me borrow it again until finally, at Christmas that year, he gave me one of my own.

Not many people know this but I actually had another YouTube account before I started MetalicoOfMeltron. Among the many films I made, a lot of them were Doctor Who themed, featuring my stop-motion Dalek toys. I was attracted to the Doctor Who fan film community on YouTube. So towards the end of 2008, I made my channel and uploaded my fan films.

It was in the middle of 2009 however, when while running the channel and enduring secondary school, that something magical happened. I discovered a film, a film that would have a profound, life-altering effect on me. That film was David Lynch’s panned 1984 adaptation of Frank Herbert’s Dune.

I’d watched many Sci-Fi, Fantasy epics at that point but Dune was unlike anything I’d seen. It was a space opera yet it was artsy, dark, political, disgusting, beautiful and overall amazing. To this day it remains as one of my favourite films.

So, I had an animation software, a ton of action figures and an inspiration. In my head, a fantasy took shape. A Sci-Fi epic set on an ice planet. It would be big, visual and weird just like Dune. Instead of giant worms there’d be giant sharks. Instead of a floating, repulsive baron there’d be a monstrous, alien general. Instead of a fictional spice being ‘the most precious substance in the universe’, it would simply be water. This epic would be called ‘Icesica’. This was a fantasy purely because I didn’t think I could do it. It was too big, it would take forever to make. The fantasy stuck with me for months until one afternoon, at age 13, I got out some cereal boxes, cut out some doors, got some figures and started animating.

My original plan was to make a trilogy; three episodes chronicling a civilisation’s struggle to overthrow a tyrannical empire, a bit like the Lord of the Rings trilogy. There was no script. I improvised the whole plot, stealing characters, lines and images from Dune, with no knowledge of story structure.

After months of animating scenes, voicing scenes, animating them again because they were no good, I finished ‘Episode One’ and uploaded it to YouTube. It was the same process for the second episode, only longer. ‘Episode Two’ was uploaded mid-2010. The audience I had on the channel wasn’t that much bigger than the audience I have now but they were certainly loyal. They enjoyed the Icesica episodes and couldn’t wait for the third one.

Unfortunately, my audience wouldn’t see ‘Episode Three’ or any more videos because, in October 2010, I deleted my account.

There are many reasons why I shut down the channel; one of them being boredom. I was cranking out a lot of videos and was, rather naively, expecting a much larger following. Since that never occurred, I didn’t see the point of continuing. The main reason however, was that my peers at school were discovering my videos. This resulted in some unwanted attention. It was difficult to make videos knowing I had a rather unpleasant audience, hence I deleted my account. However, despite having no platform, I continued with Icesica.

I noticed that ‘Episode One’ was 5 minutes long and ‘Episode Two’ was 12 minutes long. These were not the runtimes of Sci-Fi epics. Being a naïve 13-year-old I was hoping these episodes would be over an hour long and, when watched together, would be true 3-hour saga. I abandoned my original plan and focused on merging the two episodes together, making Icesica into a single film. As I re-watched the episodes I spotted more mistakes, more scenes that had to be done again. By the end of 2010 I was 14-years-old, I had now been working on this thing for over a year. Once the two episodes were bound to my liking, it was now a case of finishing the rest of the film. By the summer of 2011 Icesica was complete.

I felt fulfilled and proud. It was done. It was finally done. This fantasy that’d been born from my love of Dune was here, in the flesh, ready to watch.

Why it has taken me this long to get the film online I’m not sure; a combination of fear, procrastination and lack of time. I had many nightmarish fantasies about all my hard drives dying and Icesica being lost forever but now I will no longer be haunted by such anxieties.

Looking back at the film with the experience and knowledge that I have now, I can say with a smile on my face that it is god awful. The animation is too fast, there are countless plot holes, subplots are started but not finished, the dialogue makes no sense (in terms of both logic and grammar) and the music ranges from sounding distorted to so loud you can’t hear what the characters are saying.

Despite the many flaws I still feel that Icesica, for what it is, is quite amazing. It is an expression of many weird and bizarre passions. Passions for epic battles, giant monsters, political waffle, a panned 80s film. It’s an ambitious and pretentious film that shouldn’t have been made, yet it was. I’m proud of Icesica and I am happy that it’s finally out here in the world, for people to see.

I hope you are amused, impressed and entertained.

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And Now For Something Completely The Same. Alien: Covenant (2017) Review

Alien: Covenant technically gives the fans of the franchise what they want, with the familiar plot and visuals and provides answers to the questions many audiences had at the end of Prometheus. While the film does have some good characters and original material, the recycled plot and certain revelations make it less than what it could’ve been.

A colony ship tracks a strange transmission to its source and discovers a rich, habitable world. There they find David, the android who served on the Prometheus. Suddenly, a hostile alien-lifeform appears and the colonization mission becomes a fight for survival.

Alien Covenant Pic
I call this my ‘positively neutral face’.

The premise is exactly the same as previous Alien films; crew lands on a planet, someone is impregnated, aliens are produced and everyone tries to survive. As expected, most of the crew are one-dimensional characterizations, as their sole purpose is to be cannon fodder so the aliens can showcase their aggression.

Daniels appears to be the main protagonist. As a character I thought she was a bit boring; she doesn’t do a lot in the story except try to survive and get everyone off the planet. Even though she has a desire, which is to colonize a world and settle down with her husband, its only mentioned occasionally hence it doesn’t really feel relevant.

One character who I found compelling was Christopher Oram, the assumed captain. Unlike Daniels he has weaknesses and vulnerabilities that are challenged and exploited in the plot. He is a first-time captain, having to take responsibility for thousands of lives, his wife is on the planet with him and he is a religious man, trying to maintain his faith in a horrific situation. My favourite character however has to be David. He is capable of both emotion and intellectual ambition, I thought he was a very conflicted character hence I found him the most attractive.

Covenant does provide some original content despite the recycled plot. The aliens in the film for example are significantly new. Rather than infecting the crew with the classic facehugger, these aliens enter their hosts as spores through their ears and nostrils, forming embryos deep inside their skulls. The dubbed ‘Neomorph’ erupts via the back or throat. These ‘birth’ scenes I thought were, quite honestly, more gruesome than the previous chestburster scenes.

Another example of Covenant’s original content is its continuation of the storyline established in Prometheus. The film does answer questions many had following Prometheus, whether or not I thought these answers were believable will require going into spoilers.

So for those who haven’t seen the film I will state my overall conclusion here, while those who have seen the film can read ahead to my spoiler thoughts.

Alien: Covenant recycles a lot of old plot points but the film does have some genuinely compelling characters (like Oram and David) and does tie up the loose ends left by Prometheus. It isn’t great but it’s certainly one of the most gruesome and philosophical Sci-Fi films out there right now so I recommend it.

I give Alien Covenant a worthy 7 out of 10.

 

Ok, spoiler talk.

I found the idea of David wiping out the engineers and creating the xenomorphs to be a bit far-fetched.

I know a lot of people didn’t like Prometheus, but I appreciated its originality, it didn’t rehash old ideas and characters like most prequels and reboots do. It was the start of an epic science fiction series that would comment on religion, God and the relationship between creation and creator. After watching Covenant I was a little sad because it seems apparent now that we’re not going to see that series.

However, David’s backstory of experimenting with the black liquid and desiring to create does seem to continue the themes of Prometheus. I thought it was an interesting notion, but I didn’t expect the film to show us where the xenomorph came from. I’d thought that’d be something we’d discover later in the series, not in the second film.

The last twenty minutes, once again, recycles plot points we’re all familiar with. The xenomorph goes on a rampage and then gets sucked out the airlock, just like in previous Alien films. I liked the cliff-hanger at the end with Walter being revealed as David, having full control of the ship and the thousands of embryos. It looks like he’s going to be a major character in the series, which I’m happy about.

While Covenant didn’t go where I hoped it would, there’re some things about this new course the series is on that I like and I’m going to keep watching to see where it goes.