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Critique: God Complex, Pg. 2

I really liked the lighting in this film. It was shot both at night and full sun, and I didn't notice any problems at all (except for one instance of light reflection on the lens.) There was even a scene in full sunlight with one character in the shadow of a tree, but the entire scene was perfectly exposed - this is not easy to do, and I'm very impressed! In the many night and low light shots, there was always a bit of a pink, blue, or green tint. This smacked a bit of older films which had to shoot day-for-night resulting in a bluish tint, but in this case it didn't look fake and actually added a nice look as opposed to just ordinary shadows. My only complaint is that the interior of the ark wasn't lit in this manner and seemed lacking in light for proper exposue.

As mentioned previously, there is a lot of CGI in this film, as well as green screen. The CGI is used on everything from creation effects, set dressings and location setup shots, and even the effects of two mysterious men who follow God around, trying to whack him. The CGI looks pretty good in some places, but it is still very obvious, and not just from the logical fact that the sets just couldn't have been constructed. Using it to create wide shots of the ark or exterior shots of Biblical-looking buildings is understandable, but I thought using it for set dressing was excessive - it wouldn't have been that hard to build sets for a lot of these scenes; the shoddier, the better in this case. Or, since there was a great use of stock footage, especially for the creation scenes, that resource could probably be used in place of some of the CGI and green screen effects.

There were CGI flashes, lightning, explosions, and falling rocks added in for the creation, God's fights with his two rivals, and when Job is being "tested." There is one funny moment where Job and his wife are standing next to each other after losing everything and Job says, "At least we have each other." The sentence is punctuated, of course, by a massive boulder that lands directly on his wife. But the flashing, exploding, etc - while they are necessary - just doesn’t look all that great. Good CGI is very hard to do on a small budget, unless one has access to a great animator willing to work for free or the right equipment and the skills to use it well. Even though this is satire, it doesn't mean that one should skimp on the effects, especially when they comprise such a large portion of the film. And when the quality is poor, it just becomes a distraction for the audience. One option is to find a professional who is willing to work for deferred payment, or even an exchange of products or services. 

Along with the CGI comes the green screen. At the beginning of the movie, God is pictured floating around in space, and later on is sitting in a cosmic "control room" filled with television monitors. Among some of the other uses of green screen includes the fairy that appears to Joseph and informs him that Mary has been knocked up by God. I really liked the control room setup in particular; the monitors looked really good and also helped to make some transitions between stories logical. The problem was that nearly all of the green screened images contained the telltale green 'outline;' the dead giveaway for the green screen effect. The outline is result of an improper key, usually a result of improper background lighting, incorrect keying, or a keyer that wasn't powerful enough. MFM Editor recently co-wrote a book on greenscreen called GreenScreen Made Easy that simplifies correction of a lot of these issues for future films! (

At the end of the film there was the inclusion of photographs of famous religious figures such as Kirk Cameron, Billy Graham, John Paul II, and the obligatory jab at George W. Bush. This was accompanied by a voice-over about the weak-minded who use religion as a crutch. Hints of propaganda aside, there is a further legal consideration. Being public figures, their images might be able used in this manner, but rights to the actual photograph must be secured before use. The expression of opinions in conjunction with certain individuals are often permitted under the Fair Use Doctrine - which is how Saturday Night Live and Mad TV can get away with their parody sketches. But they have likely had to defend their use in court multiple times, which would prove detrimental to a microfilmmaker.  

Who manages to
mishandle his creation...
...And mess up every-
thing he tries to do.

Use of Audio
There is a lot of music in this film, which matches well with the action. The creation scene is underscored by a chanting, chorus like song - typical of this type of scene. When Adam and Eve disobey God by eating the "apples" (which are actually psychedelic mushrooms), there is a music bed of a sixties hippie-sounding music piece, which accompanied swirling and colored effects done to the images. There is even a cover of the Marvin Gaye song, "Let's Get It On," but with different lyrics and slight changes to the music. It was a funny addition, but there could be a question of copyright violation if the music isn't altered enough or if the proper rights haven't been secured. (Vanilla Ice was successfully sued due to using 9 bars from Queen/David Bowie's song Under Pressure without permission.)

There was added narration throughout, which helped keep the story concise and added additional anecdotes. The fact that said narrator had a deep James Earl Jones-type voice didn't hurt either. With the many outdoor shots, there was no breeze or overpowering nature noises. I couldn't really tell if ADR had been done or not - except for one instance where a line of dialogue sounded a little odd and didn't completely match the actor's mouth, but it was still impossible to tell for sure.

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