Friday, January 26, 2007
Darcy Prendergast has gone completely off the rails - and crashed into the zoo!
Those of you who have been with me from the beginning or somewhere thereabouts might remember when I reviewed Darcy Prendergast's first film Off the Rails back on the old Darkstrider blog (scroll down just a bit... it's the second entry on the page). It was clear then this guy has talent. And now he releases his latest twisted vision Ron the Zookeeper. He's come a long way. And he's kindly sent me a review copy!
In Off the Rails his kinship with fellow Australian animator (and Darcy's mentor) Adam Elliott (Cousin, Uncle, Brother - Harvey Krumpet) was clear, but here he's moved beyond that. The puppets and sets are more complex now and more appealing. And this time around he doesn't follow the very Elliott-esque device of using the puppets to illustrate the story being told through voiceover. Instead he's created a fully animated film - the puppets talk to each other and there's more movement than the rather minimal (but perfectly timed and hilarious) approach in the first film.
There's a bit of an Aardman flavor to this one that I wasn't aware of in Off the Rails, but that's not to say he's copied the Aardman style or approach... as before he's capable of allowing his influences to be visible without cramping his own style. The first thing that jumps out at you about Darcy's work is the strong texture and powerful painted surfaces. The second thing is the great voice acting (Darcy voiced Sushi, the last male Grey Panda himself, as well as playing bongos for the sound track) and the perfect facial expressions. I believe he makes heads from something solid like super sculpey, with moving eyes, and only the mouths and eyelids are done with plasticene - but he manages to wrangle the most amazing range of expressions from them. His sense of humor is definitely twisted and there's a good deal of potty humor, but it never gets vulgar in a blatant way, like so much of today's entertainment does. And there's an overriding warmth and compassion that saves it from being nasty. Let's put it this way.... I'm pretty unforgiving toward a lot of stuff I see on Adult Swim but I strongly recommend Darcy's work.
Hmmm.... I just posted this and realized I hadn't even mentioned the plot of the film! Let me remedy that....
Sushi is the last male Grey Panda, living in Ron's zoo, and Ron's mission is to extract his.... Panda Paste for the good of the species. Ron is very dedicated to his job, let me tell you! He's willing to go farther for the animals than even Steve Irwin ever was! And in the course of the film Darcy introduces something the world has never seen before... that's right, Panda Porn! You'll come away from this one in a much better mood than you were going in.
And always remember kids.... don't stand too close to the animal cages! This film graphically demonstrates what can happen......