A science fiction-loving school boy dreams of meeting extra-terrestrial life in the short coming-of-age comedy The Great Champ Fernley. Our review is after the jump.
Coming from the minds of directing duo Josh and Thomas Calder, comes The Great Champ Fernley. Lawrence “Champ” Fernley is a school boy who is obsessed with the universe and what lies beyond the Milky Way. When he isn’t reading his favourite comic books, he is watching Science Fiction television shows and daydreaming about space travel.
One night, whilst in bed, his bedroom window is smashed by a letter attached to a rock. The letter isn’t written in English though, but some alien-like code. With the help of one of his prized comic books, Lawrence translates the message, which informs him to visit the woods at a certain time on Friday night. Whilst he is excited at the chance of meeting an alien for the first time in the history of mankind, he does have a slight problem – Friday is also the date of the school Halloween dance and he can’t get out of it.
The Great Champ Fernley is a beautiful looking short film; it is shot with such professionalism, you would believe that the Calders and Daniel Maddock (cinematographer) had been making films for decades, yet they have only three short films on their resume – including this. The look of the film would be expected of a high budget flick or a series on the Disney channel, but in reality The Great Champ Fernley was made on peanuts. This is thanks to both Maddock and his team’s camera work alongside some wicked production design by Rachel Steedman. The whole team needs applauding as there are no dips in quality throughout. The short really does look that good.
The performances by all the children are excellent. Maximo Fatica is great as the titular character, whilst Jarrod Yates and Jai Bofinger put in stellar comedic performances as Lawrence’s best friends Butch and Tubbs respectively. Another standout in terms of overall performance is Ian Calder as the school teacher Mr Boffat. Calder plays the role in such a fantastically over-the-top manner that it would make Tim Curry proud.
The Great Champ Fernley is basically what I thought Super Eight was going to be like when it was first announced – sort of like a Goonies meets E.T. Unfortunately for everyone though, Spielberg went down a different route. It makes you think, what a feature version of The Great Champ Fernley could be like if Josh and Thomas Calder was given a Super Eight budget.
I suspect it would be excellent, much like this short.