Saturday, March 12, 2011

Red Letter Media's Revenge of Nadine

Red Letter Media recently released the Epilogue to their Star Wars reviews in a short film called Revenge of Nadine. Its purpose is to complete the series of skits that progressed from The Phantom Menace Review into the Attack of the Clones Review and left with a cliffhanger in the Revenge of the Sith Review released back on December 31st, 2010. Now only about two and a half months later we have been treated to this short film that concludes the Plinkett vs. Nadine showdown.

Nadine's first appearance is in Part 2 of the TPM Review.

Red Letter Media has made several shorts films beforehand, including five seasons of "The Grabowskis," Monkey Man, The United States of Noooo!!!, and, of course, several Mr. Plinkett shorts which were created before the reviews. Mr. Plinkett was originally played by Rich Evans. When Mike Stoklasa, creator of the reviews and writer/director of most of Red Letter Media's projects, decided to make his reviews, he felt it would be more interesting if he did them under the persona of Plinkett rather than his own persona. Little did he know that when he moved on to do the Star Wars prequels (after finishing with the Star Trek's TNG movies), that his videos would go viral. Plinkett has also progressed as a character throughout these reviews, and became popularized through them. Most people became familiar with Plinkett as a POV camera or--from the shorts done with a photoshopped Palpatine--as a drawn image.

Note here that Plinkett is shown, but shown as just an image.

So now, with the release of Revenge of Nadine, Stoklasa attempts to bridge the gap between his popularized Plinkett Reviews and his less known short films and features. There are quite a few funny moments, notably when he is blatantly spoofing Star Wars. My favorite moment is probably when the dark cloaked figure's cell phone rings: "The Phantom Menace in 3D? WHHHAAAAATTTT?!" Unfortunately, the short film fails to live up to the hype as an Epilogue for what were some of the greatest film reviews ever made. The Plinkett Reviews were all released far apart from one another, taking quite a bit of time because of the amount of material, footage, and editing that needed to be done. Though some fans grew impatient, they were unaware of the necessary tedium that went into making these great and elaborate reviews. It seems, however, that Stoklasa's heart isn't in it so much anymore when it comes to the Star Wars reviews. It may be that he's somewhat embittered by the focused popularity and his infamy being solely on one piece of creative work he's done, but I think it's more that he's had more time to hone his skills as a reviewer/editor than as a "from scratch" creative filmmaker.

A short version of Plinkett's Bee Bustin' Service

Don't get me wrong, I love Red Letter Media, and I'm planning on watching absolutely everything they've created, but I'm a completist and I imagine that something as creative and insightful as the Plinkett Reviews coming from Stoklasa means that I will find elements to this insight and creativity--and wonderful dark humor--in his other creations. Despite my love, however, it would be dishonest for me to say that Revenge of Nadine is truly that great. Though it has some funny non sequitur in addition to its reference humor, Stoklasa still struggles with comedic material and especially with delivery. Plinkett in a floating wheelchair was simply too much without any real warning of previous absurdist humor. The high ground reference was funny but went on too long, at the very end, hearing "Go get 'em tiger" followed by "Let the Bodies Hit the Floor" and credits was random after random without any even ironic sense of fluidity. Finally, the biggest mistake seems to have been the overwrought presence of Rich Evans as Plinkett. Plinkett grew in popularity voiced by Stoklasa and was best known as a POV camera. Though I think it was a good idea to eventually show Plinkett, there was no dramatic element. We simply watch from a distant vantage point Plinkett wheel on stage. And whenever we hear his voice we all think, "Why does it sound so weird?" Plinkett's voice should have been done still by Stoklasa, and Plinkett should have been shown only in parts, slowly, dramatically. I understand that Plinkett was already established previously, but as this is supposed to be a natural follow up from the Star Wars prequel reviews, it should have felt more like that and less as simply "another short" project of Red Letter Media. I believe what could have been a nice send-off Epilogue of the Star Wars reviews into an unknown Plinkett Review era has been missed, somewhat. That's not to say a few great moments weren't in the film, but it ultimately doesn't have that same tone or feel that the skits in the reviews had: a twisted, sick kind of funny that made you laugh even if you found it horrifying, an element of mystery, and an undertone of symbolism. I do like Nadine's character arc, as it hopefully parallels how some prequel fans originally felt when they saw the reviews but then became enlightened, but overall the short was very "meh." I believe that if Stoklasa had spent more time on it, perhaps had been more willing to collaborate on the writing (he is the only one credited as having written it), I think this short could have been much better and much more memorable. Still, it's definitely worth a watch.


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