What do you get if you cross Citizen Kane
, the Walt Disney cryogenics myth, and the green screen process that produced Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow
Something like Able Edwards
, only much better.
Able Edwards (according to the DVD cover) is the first feature film to be shot entirely in front of green screen (according to the Guinness Book of Records) - beating Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow
by several months, I'd assume. The eponymous hero is a Walt Disney like character who is cloned from his frozen body (in fact, the main character is referred to at one point as Able Edwards Beta) to lead his now stagnant mega-corporation into a new, hopefully more productive, phase.
By this time, most of humanity has been wiped out by a plague and the survivors ensconced in an orbital colony, where the bulk of the film is set. Similar to the Hitler clones in The Boys from Brazil
the Able Edwards clone grows up in normal time, so is subjected to the same traumas that supposedly formed the first Able Edwards, something it takes the main character much longer to figure out than it does the audience. The film is told in flashback (during a hearing to decide ownership of the corporation after AE's death, so it borrows the structure (and some of the shots) of Citizen Kane
It's a very different SF film from most, with interesting ideas about actuality vs virtuality, legal rights of clones etc that are wasted in a film that's far too long and amateurish. Scott Kelly Galbreath is good as Able Edwards, convincingly charismatic and mercurial, but the rest of the performances range from wooden to lousy. The writer/director Graham Robertson is a set director for US tv shows and movies (including Firefly
) and whilst he gives the film an interesting retro-SF look, his framing of shots and direction of actors is inadequate.
It was interesting to reflect that the two best ultra low-budget SF/Fantasy films I've seen in recent years; Primer
and The Call of Cthulhu
, were made by talented amateurs and were much better films. Able Edwards
had Hollywood professionals involved both on-screen and off (and was picked up by Steven Soderbergh for distribution) but remains an interesting failure. While it's great to see a SF film that's more about ideas than spectacle (though some of the images are great), ultimately Able Edwards
' ambition far outweighs its execution.