Review Fix Tribeca Film Festival Coverage: Fire in Cardboard City: Quality Animation, Weak Story

With no real story and the absence of a real climactic payoff, “Fire in Cardboard City” is a short film that you never feel invested in. A sad fate, especially given the fact that the quality of the overall animation far outweighs the depth of the narrative.

More like a series of disasters in Cardboard City, with characters that fail to grab your attention, followed by a not so shocking twist, it feels more like a small sample of what this team could do, in hopes of one day getting an opportunity to do so. While this is the goal of all short film creators, this attempt is rather blatant.

Although it doesn’t feature a wild musical score or a top-notch cast, Phil Brough and Matt Heath’s “Fire in Cardboard City” will remind you a ton of “Lego Movie.” Why? Because you’ll smell the big plot twist coming a mile away. Lacking a real narrative push, its mishmash of scenarios is what you’d expect from a few kids in a backyard. Not so ironically that’s what you get by the end.

Again, it’s not fair considering the quality of the animation. The fire, the water, the city, all look great. There’s a litany of untapped potential here. And although the film is a short, it feels larger and there’s definitely room to do something. Ultimately, however, it just falls flat.

Overall, with a predictable and lacking story, this film’s most redeemable quality is the fun and unique animation. If that’s what you’re looking for, you’ll get a momentary smile or two out of it.

About Patrick Hickey Jr. 13080 Articles
Patrick Hickey Jr. is the Founder, Editor-in-Chief, Master Jedi and Grand Pooh-bah of and is the author of the book, "The Minds Behind the Games: Interviews with Cult and Classic Video Game Developers," from leading academic and non-fiction publisher McFarland and Company. He is currently the Assistant Director of the Journalism Program at Kingsborough Community College and is a former News Editor at NBC Local Integrated Media and a National Video Games Writer at the late He has also had articles and photos published in The New York Times, The New York Daily News, Complex and The Syracuse Post-Standard. Love him. Read him.

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