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Pathfinder short film review

Directed by Tom Smith

Starring Kate Bond and Callum McKeith

Short film review by Chris Olson

Far from hiding the obvious influences, director Tom Smith is completely upfront about his muses when it comes to his fantasy short film Pathfinder - adding in brackets after the title on his YouTube upload “(Lord Of The Rings/Game of Thrones Inspired Short Medieval Fantasy Film)”. Played out across a series of wooded settings or earthy landscapes, Pathfinder is a loving tribute to the greats of fantasy fiction.

The plot: a princess called Gwendolyn (Kate Bond) is attempting to traverse the dangerous lands of Nexus, only to have her convoy attacked by a pack of Orcs. Luckily, a stoic rogue outlaw called Arramath (Callum McKeith) crosses her path and offers to be her travelling companion, bringing with him his own emotional baggage. Far from anything original, Smith opts for quality over innovation. Audiences will easily recognise the blatant similarities between Pathfinder and its fantasy brethren - such as orcs, elves, bows and arrows, and the like, but there is an enjoyable feeling of escapism captured which should still suck in the majority of viewers.

Picturesque landscapes are used (with some hokey green-screening) for the journeying scenes, as well as frenetic chase/fight scenes adding a great deal of pace and tension to the short film. Smith’s pacing of the fantasy story is well executed, allowing a degree of connection to be made between the central characters whilst delivering exciting sequences of peril, which made this viewer very much intrigued to see more.

The script is typical of the fantasy genre, and could certainly irk some audiences with its melodramatic clichés. That being said, Arramath has some pretty decent scenes of whimsical pondering, delivered impressively by McKeith. Bond is engaging too as the vulnerable lead, offering up a welcome contrast to the brutality and violence of the other elements of the story. Soft cuts and easy transitions also prevent the film from becoming too harsh visually, with a delicate score behind creating an immersive atmosphere.

As mentioned, this is a short film made by fantasy lovers. Far from the virile grandeur of a Peter Jackson movie, Tom Smith is still able to serve up a humble slice of filmmaking which loves what it does. If you are not a fan of Lord of the Rings, or anything like it, it is unlikely you will endure Pathfinder. Having created such an extensive, if familiar world, it seems a shame that a little more was not done with the story, as it felt like a basic fairytale thrown into Middle Earth, and could easily have conjured up a more unique plot and/or characters. Still, Pathfinder is only 15 minutes long, and left itself open to a whole load more story should more short films be made...and if Smith decides to emulate Peter Jackson further by delivering another 2 films in a Pathfinder franchise, we will happily join the fellowship.

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