Friday, April 20, 2012

Fan Film Theatre - Short Reels: "Seeds of Arkham" (Aaron Schoenke, 2011)


Directed by Aaron Schoenke

Written by Aaron Schoenke, David Hammond and Bryan Morton
Based on the DC Comic Characters Created by Bob Kane and Bill Finger

Produced by Sean Schoenke, Aaron Schoenke, Bryan Morton, Mark Towle and Kevin Porter
Cinematography by Aaron Schoenke
Make Up Effects by Jeff West
Costume Design by Mekhell Cassagnol, Aaron Schoenke, Sean Schoenke and Bryan Morton
Visual Effects by Mark Towle, Bryan Morton, Sean Schoenke and Aaron Schoenke
Editing by Aaron Schoenke
Sound Design by Sean Schoenke
Original Songs written by Sean Schoenke
Original Motion Picture Score composed by Sean Schoenke

Kevin Porter ... Bruce Wayne/Batman
Xango Henry ... Waylon Jones/Killer Croc
Alexa Mey ... Pamela Isley/Poison Ivy
Aaron Schoenke ... Dick Grayson/Nightwing
Robert Rexx ... Thug Leader
Danny Evans ... Brave Thug
David Elson ... Shotgun Thug
Raymond Gonzales ... Thug #1
Peru Diaz ... Thug #2
Justin Micthiner ... Thug #3
Terrance Thompson ... Thug #4
Carlos Baca ... Thug #5
Carlos Rodriguez ... Thug #6
Geo Meyers ... Thug #7

With mass hysteria threatening the balance of criminal power in the wake of the Joker’s death, Batman rushes to rescue Nightwing from a pair of sinister captors.


With every film, 'Bat in the Sun' productions gains more confidence and more ambition; the resulting rise in challenge created more results and reward.

For their latest outing with the caped crusader, writer/director Aaron Schoenke pulled out all the stops, creating a piece of no-holds-barred action and scope that leaves you wanting more from the opening voice over.


Following the explosive events of its predecessor, 2011's "Seeds of Arkham" finds Gotham City in a crisis following the shocking death of the Joker. Chaos reigns over the criminal underworld and it all manifests within the cavernous walls of the Asylum itself as psychotic costumed criminals all vie for the chance to fill the void left by the Clown Prince while the lowly thugs and scum fend for themselves.

In the midst of turbulence, Batman (Kevin Porter) races to resolve a priority dilemma following the recent disappearance of Dick Grayson aka Nightwing (Mr. Schoenke himself).

Desperate to retrieve his comrade, the dark knight is confronted by the nefarious duo responsible; the tantilizing Poison Ivy (Alexa May) and the brutalist Killer Croc (Xango Henry).


"Seeds of Arkham" is, in hindsight, the most visually appealing of all of Aaron's work with Batman as a character (this exempts "Patient J" given that for the most part, Batman is a background character in that film).

Aaron's mastered how he wants the dark knight to be presented on screen by this point and this is by far the best depiction he's done to date. Everything from the design of the Batsuit to the tactics of employing the Batmobile to the menacing stare in Porter's eyes and his voice (take notes, Bale!) are all wonderfully composed to bring a terrific Batman to life.


It's this same attention that creates great iterations of Nightwing and especially of Ivy. I really love both what the cinematography does as well as Alexa herself. Embodying the role and going for it, she's definitely a potent mix of primal attraction and genuine threat.

This is an Ivy I believe to be both seductive and deadly given her tone of voice and body language.

And yeah, the image of her straddling and riding Grayson while dosing him with her phermone toxins is just great; I totally buy the character doing that.


One of the great joys of "Seeds of Arkham" comes courtesy of Xango Henry as the world's first full-on, live action Killer Croc!

Xango does a great job with his physicality not just shining through the prosthetics and make-up, but emphasizing and pushing them further to create a very realistic version of Croc that's terrifying in his own right.

"You're gonna taste real GOOD, Batman!"

The production of the film is just superb and Schoenke is deserving of all the acclaim through the years that's gotten him to the point of being able to conceive and shoot something like this.


The use of the Anton Furst designed Batmobile, especially in a day and age dominated by Christopher Nolan, is a welcome pleasure and seeing that car in action again brings me tremendous joy!

The scale of the short is astounding with everything from helicopter footage to a great rising crane shot as Batman departs from the first confrontation.

There's even a great bit of sound design, particularly in the opening when Batman uses a counter-measure of the Batmobile dubbed 'Vertigo.' For a fan film, it's quite impressive!

The fight choreography is also well handled, particularly in the scene where Batman disables a group of thugs in the beginning of the film. The tactile nature of his technique as a crime fighter and a combatant; the presicion, the timing, the ability to incapasitate them efficiently and quickly. It's well paced and calibrated much like the animal, the machine that Batman transforms into when dealing with a situation like this. The battle reminds one of the many brawls in the "Arkham Asylum" and "Arkham City" video game with its speed and viciousness and it works VERY well.

The film is capped with a lovely original song (a rarity for fan films!) titled "Scarlet Scorpio;" written and orchestrated by Sean Schoenke with fantastic vocals courtesy of songstress/actress Madelynn Rae (she's also been featured in several 'Bat in the Sun' pieces as the lovable Harley Quinn on occassion).

The lyrics are a bit more ambiguous but the tone of the song and its melody are infectious and used to great effect with wonderful guitar and percussion work; the song reminds me of the days of there being lyrical music for a Batman film like "Batman Returns" or "Batman Forever."

I still cherish the idea, so "Scarlet Scorpio" is more than welcome into the fold!

"Seeds of Arkham" is well crafted material beautifully handled by a filmmaker coming into his own more and more with each attempt.

It'll be interesting to see what Aaron does next, Batman or otherwise.


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