In a post-apocalyptic world, where humanity is hard to find, two strangers have to team up in order to face a new challenge. We review The Wolf Brothers’ new web series Cities In The Air.
Sometimes in life, it’s all about timing and that is what I thought when I was given the opportunity to review the first episode of a new Steam Punk inspired web series created by Romanian brothers Andrei (Wolf) and Mihai Constantinescu also known as The Wolf Brothers.
Recently HBO and The BBC have combined their creative talents and considerable budgets to produce an adaptation of Philip Pullman’s fantasy work ‘His Dark Materials’ also influenced by Steam Punk. The adaptation manages to combine enthralling world enveloping storytelling and memorable characters with themes and ideas so rich and complex that fans chew over the possibilities over and over again. The 3rd episode will be broadcast this week and there has been so much anticipation, advertising and critical acclaim everywhere for it that The Wolf Brothers couldn’t have chosen a better time to release their own attempt at a steampunk multiverse with Cities In The Air.
For those of you who may be asking what is steampunk? The term basically comes from science fiction author Kevin Jeter as a way of distinguishing himself and his fellow old-world sci-fi writers from those future-loving “cyberpunks” like William Gibson. But now Steampunk has grown into a whole visual style, a philosophy and its own money-making economy. The main crux of Steampunk is the fantasy that steam and not electricity has become the world’s most used and coveted energy supply and is all about mixing old and new: fusing the usability of modern technology with the design aesthetic and philosophy of the Victorian age.
At the start of Cities In The Air we are given a brief prologue concerning an author called James and his recurring dream of water and waves rising up and swallowing the city. From this, we are immediately thrown into a dusty and deserted landscape of a post-apocalyptic world. Here we are introduced to a small but bouncy bundle of energy called Caleb played with gusto by Andrei Constantinescu, costumed in a top hat, blue hair and red military garb he comes across like a hyperactive Willy Wonka. Into the fray wanders the straight-laced and seemingly dull Linus played by Andre’s brother Mihai also wearing some sort of military clothing, except his uniform has been designed with subtle Asian influences. After some persuading, Linus reluctantly agrees to team up with Caleb in order to travel across this nuclear wasteland together and find the city. Later on in their journey, they bump into a Russian guard Zechariah (Laurentiu Stiniguta), who may or may not be a soldier himself. However, will he prove to be a friend or a foe?
Filmed entirely using green screen the effects for such a low budget production are actually pretty decent surrounding the actors with a suitable looking wasteland and nuclear winter feel. The sky remains a hazy blood red with the desert landscape looking ominously vast and scarce. This all helps to make the setting believable and real as it looks as though it has been lived in. Both Andrei and Mihai share directing and writing credits on Cities In The Air and the script is well written with generous helpings of philosophy and humour spread evenly throughout the 19 minutes run time. The soundtrack also works well with the use of music adding to the atmosphere of tension and dread.
When it comes to the creation of the most popular forms of science fiction and fantasy, the building of the world is just as important as the narrative and character development. Using very few resources The Wolf Brothers have managed to create an impressive world. I have no doubt that their efforts will result in the return of viewers for future episodes of this enjoyable web series.