TORONTO AFTER DARK 2023 REVIEW! Though it lives in a thoughtfully conceived world and has solid attention to detail, Xtemplar is unfinished. Writer-director Paul Furminger and the team at Fish Flight Entertainment have bitten off more than they can chew with their first animated short.
The film follows a single soldier in his struggle against the Soul Eaters, a race of psychic creatures that has waged war against Earth. After 60 years, humanity has learned to harness the power of religious relics as weapons against the Soul Eaters. Finally, the tide of the war is beginning to turn.
“…a race of psychic creatures that has waged war against Earth.”
The setting of Xtemplar is clever and rather interesting and could be used to proffer a host of equally exciting narratives. The team at Fish Flight has brought this sci-fi-medieval world to life with a striking art style that looks like an acrylic painting. Even more, they’ve enhanced their world with a host of meaningful elements, such as the soldier’s armour, which features a red cross like a Gregorian knight.
But for all the love the team has shown to the movie’s greater context, the story itself is nonexistent. It plays like the introduction to a full feature. But very little happens that is intelligible as a short unto itself. It’s disappointingly basic.
As such, Xtemplar stands as more of a proof of concept than an actual short. It shows that Fish Flight has potential but has not yet found a way to form their ideas into tangible expressions.
Xtemplar screened at the 2023 Toronto After Dark Film Festival.