A band of survivors fends off a mech invasion in Mark Bell’s animated series, Project 13: The Mechanical Advantage. Our story takes place on a remote mining island invaded by a military operation to the north. The mining operation’s personnel has either been captured or killed, with just a few survivors remaining trying to figure out their next steps. This is where our story begins.
Stan (voiced by Mark Bell) is a hapless worker who narrowly escaped an assault by an invading enemy mech. During this escape, he runs into Abe (also voiced by Mark Bell), who, unlike Abe, has skills in weapons, hand-to-hand combat, and anything involving survival. They plan to convert one of the mining robots into a robotic battle suit…that is, until they’re caught by one of the enemy, Jim (Kevin Macmillan).
Meanwhile, on the other side of the island, Max (Falon Echo) and Sean (Andrew Vorsteveld) find themselves at the island security center and discover a stash of weapons in one of the mines. The pair decides to investigate in hopes of uncovering the invaders’ plan.
“…takes place on a remote mining island invaded by a military operation to the north.”
Project 13 is the first chapter of a series by Mark Bell. His story is told through stop-motion animation, very much resembling Robot Chicken with action figure puppets and paper mouths, but has the cheese and campiness of the Thunderbirds.
Animation-wise, the first chapter of Project 13 is pretty impressive for an upstart animation studio…or should I say mom’s garage? (I’m joking here) Bell brings a lot of action involving guns, running, and quite a bit of sneaking around. For sets and props built of cardboard and barrels filled with who-knows-what made from tin cans painted yellow, it’s really easy to buy into this world.
Storywise, it’s a good start. Episode one involves investigating the recent invasion, the enemy’s plans, and a twist or two here and there. There’s also a bit of witty banter with well-developed characters. Stan and Abe are badass Abbot and Costello, with Stan playing the unwitting coward forced into battle. Max and Sean are similar in that Max is the alpha of the pair, and she takes no s**t from the poorly-trained security guard Sean and his banana gun.
Again, Project 13: The Mechanical Advantage is a good start for a stop-motion animated comedy/action series. Though half of the film surrounds an investigation (i.e., talking), the action sequences involving the main characters and the robots allow this chapter to shine. I don’t know what’s in store for future episodes, but they must push Mark Bell’s animation skills to the limit. Good luck, and send part two our way when it is done.
"…pretty impressive for an upstart animation studio..."