(That’s not actually based on a specific video game.)
Hands down my favorite debut film of the last 10 years, if not the century to-date, is Evan Glodell’s Bellflower, an overtly-masculine and subtly-fragile love story that encompasses evolving friendships, infidelity, muscle cars, a homemade flamethrower, and all the inherent mayhem in between. Yeah, it’s amazing, go right now and see it if you haven’t.
I along with the rest of the world have been patiently waiting for Glodell’s follow-up, which still hasn’t happened because he’s been pouring his blood, sweat, and tears (kinda literally) into a film called Chuck Hank and the San Diego Twins that he’s producing for first-time writer-director Jonathan Keevil, who also did the hauntingly gorgeous score for Bellflower. Keevil’s film has been in progress for a while now, but at last we have first footage, and I gotta say, it makes the over-the-top qualities of Bellflower look like something out of an Anne Hathaway movie, and not grown-up, brooding, naked Anne Hathaway, but young, bubbly, Disney Anne Hathaway.
Before I let you see it, first you have to dig the synopsis, courtesy of Entertainment Weekly, who had the exclusive scoop:
Directed and written by first-time filmmaker Jonathan Keevil, the movie finds The Syndicate, an evil gang bent on world domination, summoning a secret weapon from the heavens and breaking the long-standing truce with the San Diego family by kidnapping their sister and cutting off the town’s supply of Tatsui Power-Up Drinks. Now Chuck Hank and the San Diego Twins must decide whether to fight – risking their lives, family, and the future of Flat Earth – or surrender their land to save their sister.
That’s nuts enough on its own, but you still haven’t heard the craziest part – the film’s aesthetic inspiration. From a statement by Glodell:
“Like many of our generation, we spent so much of our childhood playing these side-scrolling, beat-em-up video games that they shaped a huge part of our reality. And I think the entire team have created a truly insane film that brings that reality to life”
Oh shit yes. Shit yes. I had my eyes glued to those type of games for my entire adolescence, and with the exception of the Crank films (which I love) and possibly Hardcore Henry (which I didn’t care for), I’ve never really seen an action film live up to the hyperkinetic promise of my misspent youth. Then I saw this:
I can’t even speak, except to say that looks perfect. I’ll let Keevil weigh-in while I catch my breath.
“We set out to recreate and pay homage to iconic sequences from fighting video games from the 1980s and 1990s but we wanted to also tell a compelling story about brotherhood and family. Through a lot of blood, sweat and tears we were able to create exactly that.”
Hell yes they did. That balance he mentions between action and emotion is precisely what made Bellflower so successful, in my opinion, and what stands to set Chuck Hank and The San Diego Twins apart from the action-film flock. If the rest of the movie is half as good as the teaser trailer, I’ve got a new obsession and you should to. That’s Glodell starring as Chuck Hank, and the rest of the cast includes Keevil, Tyler Dawson (Bellflower), David Arquette (Scream), Troian Bellisario (Pretty Little Liars), Michael Pare (Streets of Fire), Olivia Taylor Dudley (The Magicians), and MMA fighters Don Frye and Josh Barnett. Summer 2017 is all we have as a release date for now, but Glodell promised in a Facebook statement that the teaser is just the tip of the promotional iceberg, so expect more news soon. While you wait, tide yourself over by watching Bellflower a few times to get you in the mood.