Directed by: Jonathan Brooks
Comic book heroes have become somewhat lost amongst the clatter of blockbuster franchises. What these graphic novel characters mean to those who read and love the literature is the foundation for Marvel and D.C.'s cinematic success (the latter less so), as well as other superhero stories that have made it to the silver screen. Writer and director Jonathan Brooks takes us back to the time where pivotal parts of childhood are formed by the characters we read about with his short film Gun Metal Max.
Eliot Milward plays Ben, a typical ten-year-old who is obsessed with comic books featuring the titular Gun Metal Max. Creating elaborate sets in his house and acting out scenes with his toys, as well as reading the comic books cover to cover are ways he likes to spend his time. However, a power outage sees the entrance of the formidable Shadow and Ben looks to be doomed until his favourite superhero turns up for real.
Retro and playful, Brooks takes time to caress his movie with touches of nostalgia. It is a piece dedicated to the wonderment of childhood and the imagination that is always in plentiful supply. Having seen Brooks' movie Ghostboy, I can see a thematic pattern emerging whereby stories are being unlocked through the eyes of younger central characters.
Gun Metal Max as a short film doesn't really work as the plot feels unfinished. This feels more like a proof of concept for a feature length movie. Whether or not the story is there to be told is yet to be known but if Brooks and his crew can deliver a longer film with the same high production values and cinematic splendour as this, audiences will likely be suitably pleased.
Milward as a lead is ok however he struggles to not come across as wooden with his delivery. Possibly largely because of a lack of other actors to riff off, viewers may find his dialogue reminiscent of after school television. That being said, the score and editing of the piece more than make up for this and do some form of damage control to limit the heavy lifting from the young actor.
By tapping into an imagination-becomes-tangible plotline, Gun Metal Max immediately draws parallels with similar genre films. Whilst watching the short film, movies such as Drop Dead Fred, Inkheart, and The Indian in the Cupboard all came to mind yet there was something more impressive about this that lingered. It was the aesthetic of the short that felt more enduring than those movies, as if this was a piece of cinema that could have been made at any point in time and for good reason. It's stylish, enduring and joyously pure cinema and storytelling.
Watch the official movie trailer below.