Portal: No Escape (2011) Poster

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Clever little effects-driven fan film
bob the moo18 March 2012
A woman wakes up in a locked room with no way out and no contact with anyone. However, the discovery of a very odd gun changes that situation dramatically.

Fans of the Portal video games will not need to be told too much more about the plot to know what this "odd gun" is as this fan film takes the mechanics of the game and makes it into an escape attempt that is exciting and cleverly done. Beyond that there isn't really a plot so much as an idea and a dramatic punch line at the end. The effects are very good whether it be the realism of the gun, the editing of the portals or moving the character through them. At 5 minutes long it fills the time easily even if there is a lot of build-up before we get into the action. The ending of the film is clever and made for a punchy way to close.

The only cast of note is Danielle Rayne who does really well. Despite not saying a word, she has the physical presence to hold the attention while in her cell and also pull off the action later. Of course the lack of other speaking characters from the game is a little bit disappointing at first, but the more dramatic film would probably not have suited the more comedic input. Overall, No Escape is a great little short film that is driven by effects and atmosphere; it will of course play best to those that love the games and bring this with them to the film because the lack of story-telling does mean you need to know the scenario before you start.
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10/10
Decisive, Short, and Totally Nerdy-Hot
Exodyus20 April 2012
While the critics complain that this is too short -- it's a short film, for crying out loud. It's supposed to be a teaser. The length of the shorty feels perfect, if you know anything about the game at all.

And even if you don't, it might leave you longing for a taste of Portal / Portal 2. You grasp the understanding of the weapon from just a few clips. And you don't need to understand 'how' she figured out how to get out eventually, because the game is a massive puzzle, in itself.

Clearly it all makes sense and the film was enjoyable from a nerd's perspective. The woman is also ripped as can be and gorgeous. I really enjoyed this.
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6/10
Satisfying short film
estebangonzalez109 April 2015
With an upcoming film starring Mary Elizabeth Winstead and John Goodman coming out in 2016, I decided to check out director Dan Trachtenberg's short, Portal: No Escape, which was based on a video game which I've never heard of. Fans of the video games will probably appreciate this film more, but it's still pretty simple to follow. A young woman awakens in a locked cellar (similar to the one in Oldboy) under heavy surveillance. She discovers a hidden weapon that will allow her to escape. I don't want to give away what exactly it is that the weapon does for those of us that aren't familiar with the video game. The woman is played by Danielle Rayne and there isn't any dialogue so it basically is a very physical performance. I could easily see Rayne as the next female Michelle Rodriguez faces off in the Fast and Furious franchise after eliminating Gina Carano and Ronda Rousey. Ryan delivers some fun scenes, while the short also benefits from some cool looking visual effects. The short is less than six minutes long, but it is an entertaining watch. I'm looking forward to Trachtenberg's upcoming film, Valencia, which seems to have a very interesting cast.
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9/10
Outstanding short film adaptation
I_Ailurophile18 June 2021
'Portal: No escape' is not complete, but it's great fun all the same.

There are leaps taken in the narrative flow, though these can be waved off with the consideration that the accelerated video feed of Chell's cell suggests the passage of much time, and therefore much mental calculation and physical preparation. We don't actually get to see the fabled portal gun used to a great extent, though that's more because of budget and time constraints, I'd think, than lack of imagination. Chell seems incredibly adept in her physicality, movement, and use of the portal gun, more than is perhaps believable - yet, like the skills necessary to excel at any hobby or activity, some people just have a natural gift.

These are things that detract from our engagement with the short - but it's also easy to say this is just nitpicking. Because as a sci-fi short film, and as an adaptation, this is overall brilliant in its execution.

Limited though her capacity in the role may be, Danielle Ryan is swell as Chell, the athletic protagonist ported over from the widely acclaimed game; she very much looks like the Chell we briefly see in the first-person titles. Hats off as well to stunt double Heidi Germaine Schnappauf, whose expertise complements the clear force of personality and resolve portrayed by Ryan.

The design of this portal gun looks great, as do the effects representing the portals it creates. I quite enjoy Mike Zarin's original score, which even in its simplicity lends great air to the uneasy tension of Chell's predicament. And even in only seven minutes, Dan Trachtenberg has concocted a duly satisfying minimalist story demonstrating what 'Portal,' the game, could look like in real life. His eye as director, too, to me illustrates a potential that he explored more fully, to great success, in '10 Cloverfield Lane.' A quick glance at his credits shows Trachtenberg doesn't have an especially long resumé, but these two examples alone make me hope we get to see more from him in the future.

The linchpin is in the final moments of the short: A clever maneuver echoing mechanics from the videogame, followed by the realization that Chell's situation is more dire than she could have known. And the final shot furthers that notion, and holds promise of a much longer tale that could be told. It's a solid ending, making us wish for more.

I'm of the mind that, ideally, the same persons involved in 'Portal: No escape' should be first on the list to work on a full-length adaptation of the 'Portal' games, whatever that feature might look like. That piecemeal news of film development without these folks has come out in recent months is a bit disappointing, and has me ambivalent - but we'll see.

In the meantime, this particular rendition is a fantastic depiction, in brief, of the concept beloved by critics and general public alike. That it's not wholly fulfilling is less about any specific shortcomings, and more about the potential of much more that could be done, given the opportunity. I've greatly enjoyed 'Portal: No escape' from the first day I watched it, and it still holds up now.

Recommended especially for 'Portal' fans and sci-fi fans broadly.
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6/10
Some effects, with no story
rgcustomer30 August 2011
This one will make the fanboys happy, but will leave most people cold. It makes the mistake of assuming you can cover for a lack of storytelling ability by having lots of Really Cool Effects, and referencing a popular game doesn't hurt.

It's not clear how our hero figures anything out. She just does.

It's not clear how any of this portal magic works. You're just supposed to know already, even though the character doesn't. Until she does.

It's not clear why the obvious weapon is never actually used as a weapon.

These are the kinds of things that aren't really useful as big revelations at the end, but need explanation as they happen.
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