10th Oct2014

‘Okora: The Prelude’ Review (Short Film)

by Nicky Johnson

Stars: Anusha Prakash, Anthony Miles, Lexx James, Lyston Laurence, Dionne Alexandria, Lauren Scott Berry, Itoya Osagiede, Kaya cansfield, Laurie Brown | Directed by Lyston Laurence, Lexx James, Tracer Ital

Okora-cast

This short film is, as the title suggests, a prelude to a feature length serving to both give an idea of what it’s about and try to pick up some funding on the festival circuit. It follows Tahani (Anusha Prakash) and her little brother Icarus (Anthony Miles), exiles from the once heavenly world of The Grey Realm now beset with a war between good and evil, travelling across dimensions to Earth to prevent the machinations of seven evil Gods, including Lucifer (who was an angel, but whatever). These Gods plan to use the devastating energy source ‘Okora’ generated by their mortal descendants and their sins to win the war for The Grey Realm once for all. However, a prophecy also speaks of the descendants and their ability to use the power of virtue to beat out evil. Can Tahani and Icarus find the mortal descendants and convince them of this prophecy?

OK, so Okora will win no prizes for originality, and when I saw just how low budget this film was (the IndieGoGo campaign reached only $2,120) I was dubious. Then I started hearing the characters talk and dreaded another cheap urban style film like It’s A Lot, the single worst film I have ever reviewed. Thankfully, writers/directors/actors Lyston Laurence and Lexx James, seem to have their heads screwed on and actually managed to produce something well shot, well thought up, and with real potential.

The young cast did a great job too. The mortal descendants, each somewhat predictably given the fatal flaw mirroring each of the 7 deadly sins (lust, greed, envy, wrath, gluttony, sloth, and pride), were well cast and considering their inexperience really performed. I think Anusha got a bit of a raw deal with the wishy washy Tahani, and Icarus is a bit of a non-character in this. Both are fairly weak characters, seemingly only there to tie the story together, but hopefully if a feature film does follow then their parts will be expanded upon.

The main problem with Okora really doesn’t come from the acting or directing, or even the CGI (which again was fairly impressive for such a low budget). It comes from the fact that they’ve crammed what would easily be half a film into half an hour. We’re introduced to 8 main characters and Icarus, what seems like all the exposition and backstory behind them, and already had the big meeting where they all get together to try and figure out what to do. The first couple of minutes was spent discussing the entire good versus evil story and the Gods and their descendants. It’s a lot of story and information to take in over half an hour, and thinking ahead, what’s really left to explain in the feature film if it is made? Or will they just explain it all again?

That’s all jumping the gun though. I hope it gets funded and we see the whole thing, not just because it’ll good to watch but also because these young directors and actors deserve a good shot with this. With the short film as it is, it’s well done, but let down but a weak protagonist and a cramped information-packed feel.

*** 3/5

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