PORTLAND FESTIVAL OF CINEMA, ANIMATION AND TECHNOLOGY 2023 REVIEW! There is a genuine hopefulness at the heart of writer-director Greg Derochie’s Awake. At only five minutes long, the sci-fi short has an extremely simple scope but accomplishes much. There is some truly wonderful puppeteering on display, and it has a score uncannily reminiscent of Star Wars. To be certain, this is a charming little film. However, the actual story tackles some heady subjects, and it settles for an ever so slightly facile conclusion.
Awake is the story of a sentient space probe (Richard J. Brewer) that suddenly awakes in the vacuum of space. Both down on his luck and past his expiration date, the eager probe resolves to find new meaning in his life. While this is a seemingly basic set-up, the filmmaker still manages to infuse his leading robot with charisma, as well as supply him with a complete character arc.
“Both down on his luck and past his expiration date, the eager probe resolves to find new meaning…”
However, the film’s one stumbling block is its symbolic antagonist. In delivering a message about human courage, Derochie has created a clichéd villain. Primarily, this villain is propped up only for the purpose of being shot down. As such, the universal power of the message is neutered.
Still, this is not enough to forestall the momentum completely. The practical work is emotive, the score is captivating, and the special effects are incredibly respectable. For such a small film, Awake has greater charm than most mainstream movies.
Awake screened at the Portland Festival of Cinema, Animation and Technology.
"…has greater charm than most mainstream movies."