There may come a day when I get tired of human-robot banter, but until then, I will take great joy in films like Tom Teller’s Icarus, a suspenseful live action-VFX hybrid about two astronauts (mother and son) and their quirky robot Kevin.
The plot is a routine one—one of the characters gets into trouble, and the others set off to save them—but the short is no less enjoyable for it. The impressive VFX work and high grade production values of Icarus are worth your time, and are supremely impressive, especially considering that the director was in film school at the time of production.
When the film came our way however, we were not surprised at the film’s stellar fusion of forms. Teller is no stranger to Short of the Week, or the short film world at large; we featured his last short Hum, and before that, he made a film called Harley about a strange, adorable fish that was Staff Picked by Vimeo. What all of these films have in common is small, realistic-looking creatures brought to life with superb VFX. I like how each of his animated characters fits into the world in a real way, and in Icarus, Teller challenges himself with a bigger budget, better actors, and a longer runtime.
The film was shot in six days, and there was a five month period of post-production where Teller and team brought this vision to life. At times, the film approaches “big budget cheese” territory, but it often stops short of going there. There’s a pleasant see-saw of serenity and chaos that goes together like yellow and blue, and it is quite emotionally effective. In the first few minutes, Chris talks to his robot like a little son (“Let’s play the quiet game”), but in the last few, he talks to his robot like a friend on the verge of death: “Talk to me, you rusted tin can, talk to me.”
If I knew what I was talking about, I could probably write a second article about the VFX work in this film, but the technicalities of it all are beyond me. What I do know is that Teller is a filmmaker worth watching out for. He’s got a knack for mixing technology, heart, and creativity into a cauldron pot and stirring up something that demands attention.