By Mark Bell | August 26, 2012

Sam (Nick Edwards-May) is late for a date with his girlfriend Rose (Annie Quigley), which is problematic because he’s planning on proposing to her. He can’t help his tardiness, however, because his alter ego is the superhero White Bolt, and there are superhero deeds that need a’doing. By the time he finally meets up with Rose in the park, she’s fed up with him and his plan to not only propose but finally come clean as White Bolt is undermined. Matters only get worse when a new villain, Neuro (Kaylon Hunt), appears in the park, strapping White Bolt of his powers and giving him an impossible task. In the end, the definition of what truly makes a hero comes into question as White Bolt and Neuro face off while Rose waits in the wings.

Hero Story is a nice mix of comedy, drama and action, and it is as respectful of superhero tropes as it can be derivative. Still, it’s fun and manages to work in a number of amusing elements, from the on-screen onomatopoeia action like the ’60s Batman show to the villain who can’t help but explain his entire plot in long-winded detail.

Many of my criticisms of the film are a result of the film’s lo-fi nature, and given a bit more massaging, perhaps most could even be erased. For example, the short film desperately needs some color correction, if it hasn’t already been taken as far as it can. Wide shots have a faded, almost foggy quality to them, while a number of close-ups are crisp and saturated. It makes cutting within the main scene more distracting than it would be otherwise.

The other element that trips up the edit is the actors’ eye lines, which often seem like they’re just a smidge off. I wish it wasn’t as noticeable, but it’s the sort of issue where I started thinking to myself, “at what point does Neuro ask White Bolt what he’s looking at, and would he please pay attention?” The camera doesn’t cross the line or anything, but it still feels off. Perhaps it’s placement of the characters in the frame, or maybe the actors cheated to camera too much? I don’t know, but something ain’t working.

On the plus side, the special effects elements are well-done. Considering the conversational nature of the rest of the short, having such crisp effects makes for a more engaging watch. And while certain elements, such as the spinning newspaper headlines and magazine covers to set up the story in the opening, aren’t entirely original, they’re still quality and handled with a comic book flair. In fact it’s the quality of the effects that makes me wonder if the color correction has already been improved as much as it can; obviously there are people involved who know how to tweak the visuals.

The acting is a little stiff, but in the case of the Neuro character, which is where it is most apparent, it actually works because you get the idea that he’s just trying his best to talk and act like how he thinks superheroes and villains talk and act, and he’s just not very good at it. This aping of the superhero look is also apparent in the hair curl on his forehead, which is a nice touch.

In the end, while Hero Story isn’t entirely original (plot elements found here are also in The Incredibles and Spider-Man, to name just two), it is comfortable for a superhero short film and has more complexity going for it than one would expect at first glance. Which is really where the comfort level comes in; giving the audience something they’re used to allows them to focus on the more unique elements, such as character relations and motivations, instead. There’s really more good here than bad, I just wish the technical hiccups didn’t bother me as much as they did.

This film was submitted for review through our Submission for Review system. If you have a film you’d like us to see, and we aren’t already looking into it on our own, you too can utilize this service.

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