Film Review: Kid Icarus

   Kid Icarus is a winsome parable exploring the world of a would-be-Spielberg who, armed with totalitarian ambition but little consideration as to what creating a great movie actually entails, aims to shoot a student project that will forever enshrine his name in the annals of film history.

   Leigh Harkrider is, in fact, so certain of his upcoming success he demands each of his cast and crew sign a twenty page legal waver, drawn up by a lawyer cousin, so they can't capitalise on all the profits which he is certain will arrive when Enslavence is an inevitable huge hit. Armed with a script, potentially cribbed from another student's work, a rag tag team of volunteers, and the impression that listening to Schindler's List's audio commentary is as much preparation as is needed, Harkrider prepares to shoot his magnum opus and is surprised when all begins to fall apart at the seams; his Napoleonic way of dealing with others helps matters not a jot and a film-making crisis is on his hands.

   Worse still, Harkrider slowly begins to realise that creating a great piece of art is much harder than simply wishing it into existence - it may even come to pass that a weekly appointment with Smallville may have to be scrapped if his project is going to be completed to a half decent standard. Kid Icarus pivots on the following conundrum - can Harkrider salvage a movie which appears to be full of the worst stereotypes of student films (there's gratuitous drugs, rape and murder) and emerge, transformed like a butterfly, a hugely successful and critically acclaimed director whilst playing video games instead of studying?

   Co-directed by Carl Bird McLaughlin and Mike Ott (who features as Harkrider's teacher), the documentary represents a cautionary fable warning of the destructive power of hubris - rather than spend the  appropriate time learning about the craft of cinema, the aspiring director whiles away the hours playing computer games; the quality of his story-telling technique reflects this. As borderline mutiny swamps the set's production, Kid Icarus finds itself documenting disaster in a not dissimilar fashion to Heart of DarknessLost in Manchuria and American Movie. As everything falls apart, his crew alienated by Harkrider's less than impressive man management skill and a story which has considerably dubious gender politics, the bigger the mess Enslavence becomes, the more intriguing and excruciating Kid Icarus becomes.

   This slow moving fable, in many ways, represent the perfect text for film students to engage with. The non-interventionist approach of the direction, the ability to engross without employment of continual cuts or non-diegetic distractions and the lyrically observational editing act as a great template for best practice at how to sculpt a fascinating piece of cinema. In this respect, McLaughlin and Ott's film is simultaneously a wonderful example of movie-making at its best whilst demonstrating, simultaneously, movie-making at its very worst too.


Kid Icarus is available to watch on-line here
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