Archon Defender is a very complex and detailed animated feature, written and directed by Canadian indy filmmaker David T. Krupitz (also the Executive Producer), produced by Canadian indy filmmaker Morgan Muscat, and featuring the voices of Daniel Wooster (Six Reasons Why, Severance), Katie Uhlmann (The Devil Walks Among You), Robert Nolan (Severance and The Devil Walks Among You), and Astrida Auza (Cold Dark Mirror) and Morgan Muscat (Origin: A Call to Minds, Finding ODO) Archon Defender tells the story of a young woman, Colette, who is beset by a series of unfortunate circumstances.
In her world, a terrible war is going on which ultimately kills her parents and results in her being rescued and taken to another country called Archon. It so happens that Colette has powers which she gets from something called the Shard. This power of hers, however is deemed undesirable by those waging war in her former world, Echelon. In Archon there are others who share her powers. Training to help increase their abilities is given to those with the power. We are shown Colette in training with the monk types and it appears that she really has impressive powers. She will be involved in going along with fighter pilots to help ward off the shards.
At first, I thought the shard appeared to be a relentless weapon, rather than a magical power. Each time a vehicle or an aircraft were shot down, a bunch of shards would appear, piercing them and those in them. I later came to see that those who were "Shard Sensitive" however, seemed capable of disbursing the shards, although they did not always do so.
The story has potential, but the way in which it is told tends to be very confusing because one is never sure whether one is seeing a flashback or the present. Additionally, as the story progresses, a number of new characters are introduced to us who appear to be in the present story, but who, we discover later, are in fact in the past.
There are, of course, many ways of telling a story, and it may well be that the Director intentionally structured this story as he did to comply with the Anime inspired broken time line style which does not follow a linear narrative. For me however, it was quite confusing that the story jumps about, sometimes in the present, sometimes in the past, and with many unexplained characters.
We are first shown Colette and her father visiting a medical/government institution, getting tests. That visit appears to raise the suspicions of the police/army. Next, one sees Colette and her father and their friends being chased by armed men(soldiers) and trying to escape in an aircraft of some sort, which is subsequently attacked and shot full of shards, and goes down but appears to manage to recover and escape. Colettes' father and mother are apparently killed. Colette is distraught. This seems to be in the present.
Next, several new characters show up. They seem to be in some sort of training place, possibly in Archon, but that is not clarified. One of the females shown, Lucia, seems to be having an affair with a gardener much to the disapproval of her classmate. Next her classmate is seen talking to an older monk type (clearly in charge) and basically rats on her philandering friend. The young gardener is sent away to an undisclosed location. Lucia is furious and kills her classmate when she finds out it was due to her that the boyfriend was moved. In another scene, Lucia has tracked down the boyfriend, but at that very moment the place inexplicably comes under attack and he is killed. Lucia is upset. We certainly get the impression that Lucia is strong minded, vengeful and capable of killing, but we are still not sure what she has to do with Colettes' story.
A horrible female referred to as the Empress shows up, wreaking devastation and death all over the place and decides to attack Archon. Her mission it seems, is to subjugate/kill all those who are Shard Sensitive.
It is only toward the end that I clued in that Lucia and the Empress are one and the same persons, partly because of the name, and partly because of a hairstyle detail. I was surprised at her dislike of the Shard Sensitives since she herself seemed to possess those powers.
The lack of linear plot development left me somewhat confused, because the story is extremely complex and it is easy to lose a thread.
I found the animated characters very wooden looking, with stilted and limited movements. The "button" eyes had no expression, which was particularly disturbing. The costuming was also misleading, and as result I also found it hard to differentiate characters. I realize that part of this is due to the limitations of the animation package used, but that made it difficult for me to "get into" the story or relate to the characters. Because the animated characters came across visually as rather unemotional and cold, I was unable to relate to the dialogue, through no fault of the actors producing the voices.
I was really taken with the air battle scenes, with the airborne craft very nicely rendered. I also liked how the backgrounds were done. I thought that much of the foley was good, especially the explosions. I feel that the sounds for the various types of small arms fire need work.
This story is interesting and imaginative but, in my opinion, deserves a better animation style.
I think it is a testament to the strength of character and determination of David T. Krupitz that he was able to put this film together by himself. He was responsible for every aspect, including the music. In his own words this film was completed "using obsolete older versions of production software running on second hand computers".
A very good effort.
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