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Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Review: Faraway

Faraway (2014):

Synopsis – The legend of a world right in our world’s shadow, one of Gods and Demi-Gods, sends Audrey to the Philippines in pursuit of treasure and legacy. Along the way she teams up with 2 plucky Filipino youths and an American expat who is also looking for a new lease on life. Danger stalks the adventurers from the very beginning, as where treasure is involved, bandits are sure to follow.

FULL DISCLOSURE: I know the film maker. I worked with Mr. Randal Kamradt in a local stage production. I played Ranger Rick for those of you dying to know. Back then we chatted a little while about film, and he mentioned he was a film maker. I said I would love to see his stuff, and we pretty much left it at that. A few years later, I got a message from Mr. Kamradt, inviting me to see the film he had made recently. Naturally I was super happy to get a chance to see his movie, so I took him up on his offer! After I watched, I was told that when I reviewed it, I should keep the kid gloves off. So here is what I’ve got, after trying my best to remain objective and unbiased. Being unbiased is impossible by the way; Faraway is a true indie film after all. No one wants to kick the little guy. The makers of this film tried to make an action/adventure movie on a tiny budget, and what they came away with is pretty damn good considering that. Faraway leans more toward an art film than anything Hollywood produces. I prefer my films arty most of the time, but trying to make a low budget action movie was really ambitious, and the production suffers sometimes because of that. That being said, the effort alone is admirable, and I cannot wait to see future works from these film makers. Hopefully many others will get to see their work soon as well.

What I Liked:
-Beautiful cinematography is seen throughout the movie. The Philippines is apparently full of lovely looking places, despite how it is often portrayed in films as grimy and unruly. Even the towns in the film have a charm to them. If I had to guess where money went in the movie, I’d say in the camera equipment.
-I gotta say, the score is pretty good for a low budget film.
-I am a fan of the use of non-professional actors. Both of the Filipino leads are non-professional, and I think they both did a fantastic job. Especially Genelyka Castin as Hazel. She knocked it out of the park in my opinion.

What I Didn’t Like:
-Frankly, making my critical opinions known on a low-budget film like this really feels like a cheap shot. BUT, I said I would treat this seriously and so I will. So here are my complaints, and these are all the minor nitpicks: Editing was a little off sometimes; some of the shots were out of focus; most of the night time scenes were much too dark, obscuring the action; the sound sometimes dipped out to inaudible levels; the main actress sometimes seemed tired of what she was saying. Argh, I feel like an ass for pointing this stuff out. It really doesn’t detract that much from the movie; they are just things I noticed.
-Here is my only unapologetic complaint: Nick Medina in the first part of the movie is hamming it up big time. He is supposed to be a screenwriter who has run away from Hollywood so he can have the freedom to write without the pressures of the system, but he doesn’t come off as someone who has experience doing that at all. I think he does an excellent job of playing someone who has “gone native” and blends in with the environment of the Philippines settings. His character has becomes a local, and because of that he is perfectly suited as a guide in the adventure. After Medina settles into the guide role, he becomes quite enjoyable in the movie. I realize that this is supposed to come off as an evolution of his character, but he is too over the top in the beginning.
-I don’t know if the movie is actually rated by the MPAA, but if it was it would be an R for language, violence, and suggested sexual content. I think that the language and violence does a disservice to the film, because otherwise it is a very fun adventure film that would be appropriate for any age, a la an Indian Jones movie. A lot of F-Bombs are thrown around, and they aren’t needed.

What I Hated:
-No, no, nothing warrants any hate this time. Sorry, dudes.

I don’t know when people will get a chance to see this movie, but I can say if you want to see a fun adventure movie with some fantasy elements, made by a promising film maker, then you can’t really go wrong. KEEP IN MIND, this is a low budget action movie. Set your expectations appropriately and you can’t go wrong.

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