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Rockfish (2003)

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A peaceful fishing trip on a remote desert planet turns out to not to be so peaceful after all.

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Title: Rockfish (2003)

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A fisherman and his little alien pet go fishing on a desolate barren planet somewhere in the galaxy. With his gear he digs a whole in the crust up until the magma shows up. Now the fishing can start, some bait, and down the mechanical fishing rod goes. It won't take long until something eats the bait. But what kind of fish is this? One thing we know for sure: it doesn't want to get caught. Not at all. Written by Arnoud Tiele (zelva@tiele.nl)

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A biting, insightful scifi satire... or a brainless action romp, you be the judge
20 November 2014 | by (New York City) – See all my reviews

"Rockfish" was, in 2003, Blur Studio's most ambitious project which required the labors of computer graphics experts around the clock for 4 months. By today's standards, it's probably about as visually impressive as the latest video game. But in 2003 which is rapidly becoming ancient technological history, it was quite an achievement.

Reading the other reviews I see most people take this as a simple action/suspense/scifi short with no deep story or theme. That may be the case, and this may be simply a 2003 computer technology showcase. But I'm going to go out on a limb and say that there is a very subtle yet very powerful message here. Don't worry, I won't spoil anything...

The short begins with our hero Sirius Kirk arriving on a barren planet. By the way, we are never told his name and there is no dialogue. I just know his name from the comic strip this is based on. Sirius, a lantern jawed macho man, proceeds to use his giant ATV the size of Shea Stadium to drill a hole in the desert and drop a line. Joined by his dog-like creature, he lays back and starts to snooze. Suddenly he gets a bite. But it's no ordinary bite. The rest of the short takes us on a harrowing battle of man vs. beast, or hunter vs. prey.

In the first 2 minutes we see that this is the embellished story of a man who goes hunting with his dog. What you get from this animation depends on your opinion of hunting, particularly the hunting of rare & exotic creatures. The punchline, which I won't ruin, is very subtle but it tells me that the creators of this short are definitely hitting us with a dose of biting sarcasm. At least I hope they're being sarcastic, otherwise I would want to punch someone.

It reminds me of the excellent Veerhoven film "Starship Troopers" which, on the surface, is a straightforward heart-pounding scifi action flick about humans fighting the monsters. But the real point is that the definition of "monster" is arbitrary, and quite often the "monster" is the hero. Veerhoven is known for his ironic spins on things (like the great dark comedy action flick "Robocop"), but since I'm not familiar with Blur Studio's filmmakers, it's hard to be sure of their message. Also I'm from Canada, and Canadians don't get sarcasm (haha, that's a line from 30 Rock).

If you see this short, try to look beyond the action and see if you catch the same subtle irony I did. I hope that was the intent of the creators: to challenge us with a seemingly clearcut battle of good vs. evil that may not be what it seems. If I'm right, then this is a brilliant effort which really made me think hard about the human race. If I'm wrong, then it's just a mindless 9 minute animation with a lot of things whizzing by. Either way, give it a look.


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