‘God: Serengeti’ short film review

‘God: Serengeti’ was directed by Neill Blomkamp and is part of his short film series from his studio ‘Oats Studios’. It came out last week and when I first watched it I could not stop thinking about it. I have watched it again and again and still it has me thinking.

The film opens up with a bird’s eye tracking shot of some elephants walking across a field as the title ‘God’ appears on-screen. There is angelic musical score, linking to the theme of God. The camera then pans up revealing God played by Sharlto Copley whilst he reads a book and watches over the elephants in the field. His assistant ‘Geoffrey’ then asks him “Hows the book?” to which God replies “A little technical for my taste. I like the chaos more, I suppose.” This line of dialogue sums up the entire short. This is shot with a wide-angle, ensuring the table with the field on it, God and Geoffrey are all in the shot. It then cuts to a close up of the table, with God in the background, focusing on the development of mankind and putting God in the background out of focus. A man is seen rubbing sticks together as God notices him and says “What’s going on over there, Geoffrey?” and calls the humans “Funny” suggesting that God does not fully understand his creation and underestimates mankind’s capabilities. This is reinforced by his shock when the man tries to create fire, and when he says “I didn’t say he could do that!” God then commands Geoffrey to get rid of the fire, as only God gives the fire. The man who created the fire is seen falling to his knees and the other people are heard shouting in despair. God tries to control the humans even more by commanding Geoffrey to send the people back into their cave. The music has been slowly building up throughout this scene, while still remaining angelic with the vocals in the music. Elephants chase them into their cave (with the score becoming much more intense, with no trace of any godly presence within the music) and God says he must shrink their brains again. This implies that he has done this before, and links to the fact that it is human nature to be curios and to create. it also suggests that God has a problem with the way humans are and wants to control them as much as he can. The music becomes more twisted and sinister after he says this, which has connotations of evil. It then changes to more tribal music as the humans exit their caves, bringing the focus onto them instead of God. The people start doing a rain dance, which leads God to make Geoffrey give them some water. Just before Geoffrey sprays the water he says “God the merciful”. This links into bible and refers to the idea that when we deserve punishment, God blesses us instead. The humans then start cheering and screaming with joy. God seems fascinated with their reaction, saying they get so excited over the tiniest things. He starts to laugh and seems enjoys the humans behaviour. He then sits back and there is a beat, and then God says “Release the plague, Geoffrey.” Geoffrey then goes over to a case and pulls out a bottle which contains ‘The plague’. As he pulls the bottle out, rattling is heard. This reminds the audience of a snake, which also links with the bible, specifically The Devil. ¬†Geoffrey sprays the plague on the humans and they all drop dead. It then cuts to God’s emotionless face as he watches the humans die, and then the same angelic voices from the beginning come back as it fades to black.

When I first watched it I started to laugh at the beginning. I thought it was just a lighthearted comedy (although there are not really jokes). However, by the end I found it quite thought-provoking. I had to watch it over and over and I still don’t know for sure what the message was. I found the character of God very interesting. He was not evil. But he was not good. Throughout the whole of the film he does good things and bad things. For example he blows out the fire, and then gives them water, and then kills them all. It is a deep and complex character. Through Sharlto Copleys portrayal of the character we learn that he wants to control the humans. He does not like their curious nature and he thinks that he should be in control, which is why he tries to get rid of their fire and “shrink their brains”. The portrayal of the Human and God dynamic was interesting too. He speaks about them as if they are pets, and literally looks down on them. There are a few biblical references within the short as well as other symbolism. Although I think where it really stands out is the portrayal of God and the story, especially the end. It comes as a shock to the audience when God tells Geoffrey to release the plague, and really shows the cruelty of the character and his lack of care. He does not see humans as the intelligent life they are, and underestimates them and feels no remorse when he kills them all. Neill Blomkamp did a very interesting thing with this short film and I like it a lot. It has kept me thinking and I think it is very well made.

Film review analysis

This is a film review for the film ‘The Conjuring’. The first thing that your eyes are drawn to is the very large image over the actual review. It is taken from the film, rather than a promotional image. It also has the title of the film over the top of the image. The image used is representative of the horror genre, as is involves someone with a sheet over them that is tied to a chair. In horror, a lot is hidden from the audience. This could be why they chose an image where someone has a sheet over them to hide their identity. It is also an iconic sign that links to ghosts. The background of the image is very dark and has a lot of shadows. This, again, links with the horror genre as horror is often associated with darkness, and shadows are a common trope of the genre. Below the title of the film there has been some text added that says “Who ya gonna call?” which is a comedic reference to the film “Ghostbusters”. This was added as an attempt at humour as it links the two films, due to the fact that they both involve people who deal with supernatural events.

The review starts off with some information about the film. It displays the release date, certificate, Director, Cast and run time of the film. It then goes into a brief plot synopsis before starting the actual review. This gives the audience a lot of information about the film before they start to read the writers opinions. This is helpful as it provides some background information that might be useful for the readers to know. When the actual review starts there is a big blue arrow underneath the text in the background. This could be to draw the reader’s eye to the start of the review as it separates it from the information that comes before. The colours used in the rest of the article are very basic, just black font on a white background. For the most of the rest of the review it is just laid out in paragraphs talking about different elements of the film and things relating to the film, however at the end there is a subheading ‘Verdict’ (which is in big, bold, blue writing) which sums up the writers thoughts on the film. This allows the audience to get a nice summary of the writers opinions and a star rating.

The tone of the overall article is informal. The words that the writer uses are quite casual, and whilst he is offering his opinions and analysis, he is also making jokes and writing in a relaxed and friendly manner. This way of writing may appeal more to the audience that is being reached, as they might not want to read such a technical, formal review. However, this informal tone does not impact the quality of the article, as the writer still goes into enough detail and clearly knows what he is talking about.

Baby Driver poster analysis

The main colour used in this poster is pink. It stands out the most. Even the red colours have a slight pinkness to them. This suggests that love is a key theme throughout the film. The sky in the poster is pink and it is behind the main characters head. This means that perhaps the main character has some sort of romance in the film. The red car has a pinkish colour to it. The use of this red car suggests that there is danger and action within the film. This is reinforced by the red and blue lines next to the car as well as the lights in the cars behind the red one. This tells the audience that this is a film about criminals, as red and blue lights are an iconic sign as well as indexical signifier (like the lines next to the car) of the police. This, again, informs the audience that the film is about a crime. This is also reinforced by the gun being held by Jon Hamm in the poster. This gun is an indexical sign as it has connotations of violence. There is also another gun in the hand of Eiza Gonzalez as well as tattooed onto Jamie Foxx’s hand whilst he is making the shape of a gun with his hand. This reinforces the idea that violence is present throughout the entire movie and informs the audience of the genre of film. However, these signifiers of violence and crimes are juxtaposed by the pink that is present across the entire poster. This contradicts the themes of violence and danger as pink is associated with love and innocence. There are also many other uses of semiotics within this poster. For example each of the actors present on the poster are an example of an iconic sign, as they are all physical representations of the actors in the form of the image. The signifier resembles the signified. The names of the actors are also symbolic of them, because the name of the actor is seen and then associated with the actual person. The use of their names on the poster can encourage a larger audience to come and watch the film as they recognise the names. Another symbolic sign is the road sign saying ‘Atlanta’. This accompanied with the iconic sign of the Atlanta skyline in the background inform the audience of the setting in which the film takes place.

The layout of the poster draws the audience’s attention to the road and the cars. This may have been done so that the audience know that this is a movie about a getaway driver, and that cars and driving are very important. It sets up a certain expectation for the audience and tells them more about the film. After noticing the road and cars you then see the cast. The images of the cast tell you about the characters as well as who is in the film. The audience sees that the character ‘Baby’ has earphones in, which is a key plot point within the film. Jon Hamm’s character is holding a large gun, as is Eiza Gonzalez’s and Jamie Foxx’s characters. This shows that they are criminals and perhaps threats within the film. Kevin Spacey’s character is wearing a suit, suggesting that he is more empowered, as well as more professional like a business man.

The text informs the audience of the films name, as well as the director. Edgar Wright is a very well-known director and has a very dedicated fan base, so the inclusion of his name on the poster may be a way of them marketing the film as it may lead to more ticket sales. Not all posters have the directors name so prominent¬†on their posters, so this stands out. The text is also retro and almost a cheesy generic action film text, looking like it would be on a ‘Bad Boys 2’ poster. However, it also reminds the audience of a road, as it is similar to text that would be present on a road. It also reminds the audience of a road as some of the letters have been split in half, creating an aesthetic that bares resemblance to two lanes in a road.

Moonlight poster analysis

Moonlight is a film about a gay black man living in poverty and in a society that does not accept him the way that he is. The poster is good.

The colours used in this poster are all very similar. It uses light blue, purple and then a darker purple’y blue. This could represent his journey throughout the film. The light blue could represent his innocence, and it is in the section where he is a young boy. This then moves to a purple/pink colour which is representative of his transition into a teenager, where he starts exploring his sexuality and loses his innocence. Finally, when he is a man he has matured, hence the more dulled blue/purple which suggests he has matured as a person as he has reached adulthood.

The layout of this poster is very interesting. The movie follows one character over three stages in his life. This is why the poster is set out in the way that it is. It shows the character when he was a young boy. In this section of the movie he is learning about life and himself. This then continues into him as a teenager. In this section of the film he is struggling the most. He is having a hard time with who he is as well as experiencing problems in school when he is targeted by bullies. This is represented on the poster by the cuts across his nose and above his eye. Finally when he is a man he is more respected, however he has started a life as a criminal. This links back to what happens to him in the first section of the movie, as the father figure for him is also a criminal. However themes also carry on from his teenage years. This is why each third of the poster is touching each other, as they are all connected. Each of them has links to the last and themes carry over each part of the story.

There is not much text used in the poster. It is very basic in that regard. In most posters there will be a large title, the names of the actors, a tag line under the title and also lots of studio logos and information at the bottom. This poster subverts a lot of that. There is one logo for A24. Other than that there are no studio logos. The tagline is at the top of the poster rather than underneath the title. This stands out and informs that audience that this is different from other films. It is story driven, hence the tagline “This is the story of a lifetime”. The text and colour used is very basic. This is because the other visuals in the poster speak for themselves and don’t need to rely on anything else other than themselves.

 

 

Analysis

Over the next few weeks I will be looking at and analysing:

  • Short films
  • Film Posters
  • Reviews

I will be doing this in the hope that I gain a better understanding of what makes goes into each of these things, as well as identifying whether they are good or whether they are bad. This will allow me to create the best products that I can and will teach me the necessary skills to create my own review, poster and short film.

My chosen brief

I have chosen to create a short film as I think it is the task I am most suited to. It will allow me to create a story of my own and I can do something that I want to do. I also think I will be able to achieve this and expand on my skills from last year. I was an editor and a DOP last year so I have played more than one role in previous tasks. This means that I can develop these skills as well as gain new skills. I sometimes struggled with my group as we all had different visions for our task, however with this task I will be able to translate my vision on to the screen and really work with what I want to do. I aim to create an innovative, well-made product that stands out from everyone else.

I did not think that the other tasks would suit me as none of them spoke to me. I’m not passionate about music and had no desire to create a music video. I also did not want to do advertisements as it would not allow me to be as creative and focus on story. The trailer does not appeal to me as it would not be editing existing footage, but would require me to make my own footage for a film that does not exist.

Brief 4: Trailer

For this task you have to create a teaser trailer for a film as well as two of the three following:

  • A film magazine front cover featuring the film
  • A poster for the film
  • A website for the film

I think that this task will be the hardest as it would require me to film in many different locations have have an overarching story in mind. I think it would be easier to create a trailer out of existing footage rather than filming footage just for a trailer.

Here are some examples of trailers that I thought were good:

Unfortunately the final product was extremely disappointing compared to the very good advertising campaign.

This is another amazing trailer. Fortunately the final product was just as good as the trailer.

Here is an A level example:

This is a very excellent trailer and got full marks.

Brief 3: Advertising

The task for this brief is to create an advertising package for a new product or service. It must include two TV advertisements with two of the three following:

  • A TV programme sponsorship sequence
  • A radio advertisement
  • A web pop up

This brief does not appeal to me very much as it is not what I am used to from AS. Personally, I like to focus on stories and by creating an advertisement I do not feel that I would be able to create much of a story. It would not allow me to express my creativity as much as the other tasks.

Here are some examples of real adverts:

These adverts stood out to me as one makes you laugh and one makes you cry. Adverts can manipulate the viewer into feeling something so that it can sell them a product.

Here is an example of an A Level students advertisement:

Brief 2: Short Film

This task involves creating a short film. This film has to be around 5 minutes long. Along with this short film you have to create:

  • A magazine article reviewing the short film
  • A poster for the film
  • A website homepage for the short film

Short films are defined as “an original motion picture that has a running time of 40 minutes or less, including all credits” by the Academy of motion picture arts and sciences, although a short film can be any film that is not long enough to be a feature film.

I have seen a few short films and here are my favourites:

This is one of the first short films I ever watched and I loved it. It had an interesting concept and great cinematography. This inspired me a lot and showed me what is able to be accomplished on a small budget with minimal resources.

This is a short film by one of my favourite YouTubers Ralphthemoviemaker. There are many problems with this film. The acting is awful and so is the audio and cinematography. However, it is so much fun. I really like the story. It is extremely funny and silly and it knows it. If you can overlook all of the flaws in some of the technical aspects then you can really have a lot of fun with this short.

I have also looked at some examples from other A Level Media students. This is the one that stood out to me the most:

I liked this one as it had a very interesting narrative. It was not conventional and subverted expectations a lot, all while being interesting, well acted, well directed and well shot. The editing gets very interesting in the second half of the video. It was an extremely well made short and has kept me thinking.

Brief 1: Audio

The first brief is Audio. This task involves creating a music video to promote an upcoming album. The video must be no more than 5 minutes and the music used must not be copyrighted and permission must be granted by the artist. Along with the music video you must also create 2 out of the 3 following:

  • A cover for the album as part of a digipack
  • A magazine advertisement for the release of the album
  • A website for the artist

If I were to choose this task I would be inspired by a number of music videos. These include:



These two music videos are good at evoking an emotional reaction from the viewer and it follows a clear story and narrative.



I have chosen these two videos as the aesthetic of the videos are stunning. They do a very good job by using visual story telling and the video and music work very well together. If I were to create a music video I would try and create something with amazing visuals like in these two music videos.