The unnamed protagonists seem to be the progeny of an unholy union between zombie slayers Simon Pegg and Nick Frost, and comic book hero Scott Pilgrim.
Multimedia: Pirate Baby's Cabana Battle Street Fight 2006
US release date: 2007-07
As computer technology has evolved, computer graphics have gone from a beautifully rendered (but now archaic) glass knight fighting a teenage version of the world's greatest detective to making a live human baby dance like a Tex Avery character.
Maybe it's time to take a step back, and Paul Robertson may be just the man to take us there. Combining brief nudity, gratuitous gore, indie comic style with cutting edge 1989 video game technology, he brought forth the world of Pirate Baby's Cabana Battle Street Fight 2006.
The digital short was paid for by the city of Melbourne, Australia, and seems like a fun anime-inspired video game, using side-scrolling techniques perfected by the multi-monitored classics Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: The Arcade Game and the X-Men game of 1992. Everyone I've seen the film with has demanded to play the game it is no doubt based on. Tears form nearly every time someone learns there is no such game.
The style of the game -- I'm sorry, film -- is formulaic as far as early '90s arcade hits go. The bad guys repeat, the bosses can be defeated with the right trick, and special levels allow for extra moves. There are even power-ups along the way. That said, the short takes all of those video game conventions and turns them on their head. My personal favorite special moves include summoning a fat guy to fight for you and calling upon an evolving Christopher Walken.
The unnamed protagonist pair -- I call them bat-guy and hat-guy -- seem to be the progeny of an unholy union between Shaun of the Dead stars Simon Pegg and Nick Frost, and Oni Comic hero Scott Pilgrim. Their quest? Save the girl from the bad guy. The challenge? Fight through level after level of increasingly evil baddies. The villain? Pirate Baby himself!
If I talk glowingly about this film, it's because I am finding it hard to remain cultured. The short carries such energy and excitement that it's hard to keep even the most reserved inner child quiet. That said, the short is not intended for children. As I said, it has a lot of animated blood, a little animated nudity, and even a few animated cusswords. It's not even for all adults. It takes a sick mind raised on quarter machines and slasher movies to enjoy this film -- fortunately there is no shortage of such fans on the Internet.
Word of Pirate Baby has slowly spread across the Internet through blogs and message boards, but the merits of the film should not be outshone by the cleverness of its creation.
It is animated smoothly, with pixilated edges kept to preserve the authenticity of a 16-bit game. A rock sound track was woven in masterfully by Australian composer Cornel Wilczek. As a sign of the times, Robertson kept early fans interested by updating them on the film's progress through online blogs.
Easy access to technology, growing acceptance by art society, and the universality of the web are changing the way indie films are produced and received. Robertson seems to have come along at just the right time.