Directed by: Michael Cristian Greene Starring: Jacob Lentfer-Maguire, Zana Rockwell, and Jasper Lloyd Short Film Review by: Owen Herman
The Grand Palaver is a nostalgic sci-fi short centred around three children trying to solve a mystery. It’s certainly playing to the current popularity of this style and genre but has enough of its own charm to just about stand on its own.
Tommy, Chilli, and Dill are become obsessed with finding out what their neighbour is mysteriously building in his backyard. Inspired by a longing for adventure, they spy on him and begin to come up with their own theories behind his mad scientist activities. The short gets that nostalgic sci-fi feel just right, with the sense of adventure and a room cluttered with not-too-in-your-face references, from Star Wars to X-Men.
The use of child actors is always risky, and The Grand Palaver manages to demonstrate both the positives and negatives. There is certainly a young charm to the characters, and they are believably curious, but their lack of experience shows with wooden delivery of lines that is unfortunately common.
The Grand Palaver shows a surprising amount of technical polish for a short film. The score sets the mood well and evokes all the emotions usually associated with the genre. The special effects are also impressive, thankfully not overused, and better than some recent big screen efforts. The camera work is solid but encounters problems early on with the overuse of focus. When the children are spying on their neighbour through the binoculars the focus is constantly shifting. The effect the director was going for was achieved but it is at the cost of enjoyment as the scene is genuinely difficult to watch. Although it may just be the fading eyesight that I’m experiencing at the ripe old age of twenty-one.
Overall, The Grand Palaver is a bright and fun sci-fi short that although problematic at times, has enough charm to see it through.