Written by: Ron Cotton on May 23rd, 2007
Theatrical Release Dates: March 15, 2004 (SXSW Film Festival)
Director: Graham Robertson
Cast: Scott Kelly Galbreath, Michael Shamus Wiles, Steve Beaumont Jones, David Ury, Keri Bruno, Johari Johnson, Brian Carpenter, Elizabeth Ince, Kent Kubena
DVD released: May 29, 2007
Approximate running time: 85 minutes
Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1 Letterbox
Sound: Dolby Digital Stereo
DVD Release: Heretic Films
Region Coding: Region 1 NTSC
Retail Price: $19.95
A biological contaminant is dispersed throughout the Earth’s atmosphere, killing over 90 percent of the world’s population. Humanity flees the earth to space, living in Earth satellites known Civilization Pods. In this new world, many aspects of reality is synthesized. When earth was habitable, Abel Edwards had the entrepreneurial spirit to transform his cartoons into the Wonderland Theme Parks and the Edwards Corporation. As humanity left Earth Behind, the Edwards Corporation changed their primary business to manufacture androids which ultimately saturated the market. The Chairman of the Board developed bold move to clone the original Abel Edwards to bring back the profits they’ve lost over time. To do this successfully, not only use Abel Edwards’ original DNA, but also recreated the events that happened in his past.
Abel Edwards Beta (Scott Kelly Galbreath) was raised cognizant that he’s a clone from the conglomerate corporation the original created. Unbeknown to Edwards, troubles arise in his life are also under the control of the Edwards Corporation. When he turns twenty five, Edwards becomes CEO of the company, marries Rosemary (Keri Bruno), and decides to rebirth the Theme Park of the past. At time goes by, Edwards is determined to get himself in the political arena. In one swift moment, Edwards’ life turns upside-down, and as a result, Edwards reflects on his past. Once he uncovers the deception of his life, he’s determined to make his own choices without outside influence.
With a little synergy and a lot of luck, Able Edwards was executively produced by Steven Soderbergh. Inspired by the look of Blade Runner, Able Edwards accomplishes the look of integrating the genre of Film-Noir with Science Fiction. What’s most bizarre is that Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow was released merely months ahead of Able Edwards. Both films have similar veins, yet the effect produced is different in many ways. As a result, Able Edwards is marked as the first feature film shot entirely against a green screen according to the Guinness Book or World Records.
Able Edwards has the framework of Citizen Kane with the lead being a clone of a magnanimous and world-reaching “Walt Disney” archetype. So much so, that the introduction of the film is of the tragic death of Abel Edwards Beta, jumping to old film footage of the original Abel Edwards, and finally to a court case of Rosemary Edwards v. Edwards Corporation. The momentum being propelled back and forth from flashback to flashback and from past to present build up Abel Edwards life is felt strongly in this film. Adding to this malaise of chaos, a clone of the original who must live up to his former is an intriguing idea.
The casting and acting in Able Edwards was some of the best I’ve seen. Scott Kelly Galbreath as Abel Edwards Beta portrayed a convincing role as the tireless strong-jawed clone. David Ury as the weasel Franklin Wallace who despised the fact that Abel Edwards Beta would become acting CEO. Steve Beaumont Jones as the android Gower is very reminiscent to Data from Star Trek: TNG. Others actors not mentioned also get a positive nod.
There was some visual disappointments with Able Edwards digital crafting. Some key digital pans appeared rough and broke the illusion of film. The opening news reel of Abel Edwards at times gave the appearance of a digital slide show rather than raw film footage – more care was needed to create a more realistic effect. It was quite humorous that this “old” black-and-white footage was letterboxed. Shooting on a thirty-thousand dollar budget with a few weekends to work in, Able Edwards is a moving piece of Digital Cinematography. Able Edwards, however, doesn’t live up with the contemporary film seeks to emulate: Citizen Kane.
Some of the DVD menus animated run-times are a bit drawn out like other Heretic Films releases, so you’ve been forewarned. The audio is more than adequate for the dialog and soundtrack. Unfortunately, instead of being natively a 16:9 release, Able Edwards is a 4:3 matted to wide screen.
Behind the scenes of ‘Able Edwards’ has Director Graham Robertson as the narrator of this piece. He describes the creation of the film as we see the green screen set during the principle filming is taking place. Some of the Green Screen Reveals in that short are also shown in this feature. Green Screen Reveals show what the sets look like before post-production processing of the Mini DV footage. Some of the transformations before and after were visually remarkable.
The commentary track is of the standard fare as heard in other commentaries. Spoken by Director Graham Robertson and Producer Scott Bailey, it discusses technical problems such as processing green screen with low-resolution Mini DV. Graham Robertsons antes up tricks on achieving the astounding effects with simple heat guns. Robertson also recounts how he had access to materials from other films and how his backdrops came from library books. Disappointingly, the commentary drags at times and repeats information that can be found elsewhere on the Internet.
Able Edwards also features a trailer collection of Heretic’s Indie Releases. It includes Able Edwards, 24 Hours on Craigslist, Kissing on the Mouth, Lurking in Suburbia, Piece by Piece, and Magdalena’s Brain.
As an aside, ableedwards.com is a high-quality flash page with a layout like a nostalgic scrapbook detailing the production, cast, and crew with Video Clips and Snapshots. The book “Desktop Cinema: Feature Filmmaking on a Home Computer” written by the director Graham Robertson describes the step-by-step process of creating budget feature films using a home computer. Desktop Cinema sites his feature film, Able Edwards as a template to accomplish this.
Heretic’s release isn’t heavy on extra features, yet with a more than adequate Mini DV transfer. Able Edwards excels with great casting and an epic story constructed with a micro-budget. The execution isn’t perfect, with some visuals and special effects lacking realism. The dialog at times is a bit too predictable and lack the depth of a classic like Citizen Kane. Overall, Able Edwards is an above-average film that delivers the “goods.”
For more information about Able Edwards and other titles released by Heretic films visit their website.