The Nintendo Entertainment System meets MTV’s “Catfish,” Emily Carmichael’s “RPG OKC” is an epic love story that steals your heart. Fueled by 25-year-old gaming technology, the pop culture and nostalgia is too cool to ignore. A genuine ability at storytelling and tight editing however seal the deal. It’s one of the best short films at Tribeca this year.
Simply designed and equally as approachable, this film quickly captures your attention and holds you tight throughout. One of those “sad it has to end” shorts, Carmichael deserves a much larger canvas to play with.
At its heart, “RPG OKC” is what you get when you combine legendary video games the likes of “Dragon Warrior” and “Final Fantasy” with animated sitcoms “Adventure Time” and “Code Monkeys.” Silly, yet smart and fun, it’s a nine-minute short with plenty of staying power. When it’s over, you won’t want to leave this world. Lush, yet simple, it’s beauty without the drama, no fuss.
The aesthetics of the film are all about hiding weaknesses and showing strength. While the characters don’t speak, the audience is connected to them via solid storytelling and a hilarious script. The visuals are dated, but the sound is tight. The music hits at all the right times and when needed, the characters show just the right amount of emotion, even if it’s a blink of the eye or an attempt at sneaking past enemies. While the presentation may be inarticulate and even childish to some, Carmichael is a master at work here. She is able to get you to fall in love with this world in minutes. It’s what the Uwe Boll’s of the world dream about doing and can’t, even with million dollar budgets. She doesn’t need any of that.
A “medieval” love story, the film introduces us to an unlikely couple, Paquine and Paul, who meet online and literally has to travel to the end of their worlds to meet up. The conversations they have with friends and family before their encounter are easily relatable. The same thing goes for their relationship. Scared to take the next step, they delete their instant messages and try to slow things down. It’s adorable, even in eight-bits. Although the visuals are animated and the story fiction, everyone will laugh. There will be a few romantic “awws” as well. Everyone has been here before. Just never quite like this.
A partial escape from reality, accompanied by a series of pop culture references and endearing characters, “RPG OKC” is a gamer geeks kind of love story, but it’ll still be a retreat for any fan of film looking for ingenuity, honesty and heart.
Patrick Hickey Jr.
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