FILM INFO: A Roman invasion of Celtic lands hangs on the edge of success. The chieftain, Ambiorix wages war against the Roman general Eydis. A deadly battlefield blow costs Ambiorix the life of his son, resulting in the unceasing deterioration of his soul and sanity. This is a story of morality and a man's struggle for truth and atonement.
When it comes to indie films, something that strays away from horror, found footage and flat out comedy can be quite refreshing. An interesting and potentially difficult short is always a pleasure to watch, when one happens to comes my way. The fact that "said" short was finished, and not abandoned, just adds the icing to the cake. "Valor's Dawn" is one such piece. An indie low/no budget film that strives to be much more than it's collective financial parts. Featuring some cool sword-play and seemingly massive fight sequences, you may wonder just how the director pulled this off with next to nothing. I have to say however, that all the "how'd they do that" thoughts vanish as you watch Reed Clare's world unfold before your eyes. Instead of doubts, stemming from the fact this is an indie film running through your head, you're left thinking nothing except what the director wants to be on your mind. The action is not only present, but done very well and the story is one that's simple enough to follow, yet complex enough to stew on. "Valor's Dawn", simply put is a good watch. The fact this was put together on what I assume was a shoe-string budget is simply astounding. The best part? Even the casual movie viewer will enjoy this as much as I did. This isn't a title for "Indie Filmmakers" to sit around and brag how they'd done it for next to nothing; this is a film everyone can follow and enjoy. No excuses needed. So, I guess that means it's time to hit-up the technical aspects of this short. As a reader, keep in mind that everything is subjective. I may hate something... you may love it. It all comes down to personal preference. "Valor's Dawn" unfolds essentially as the musings of a tortured man, on his deathbed. Without giving any details away, let's just say this is accomplished in a slick way with some beautiful locations. However... I would have loved to have had some form of activity during the wrap-around with the main character. Even having the lead making some form of death bed confession, to another person. This would have not only added to the on-screen drama, but would also have given our lead a bit more depth; and possibly an opportunity to showcase more of his acting chops. The way it is now certainly does the trick, a little extra simply would have pushed "Valor's Dawn" up another notch. Aside from that little nit-pick, the overall production of "Valor's Dawn" is quite nice; featuring some good camera-work that mixes the hand-held style with standard fare. In this case, the hand-held work actually does intensify some of the sequences. This is not some shoddy shooting done for a lack of budget, rather a style that actually works in favor of the movie. Following up on that, we have a nice, slick edit that pulls the pieces together in a great way; both visually and pacing-wise. Then we have Reed Clare, as the lead "Ambiorix" portraying his character eerily well, putting good use to "expression" acting. At times during the film I was left asking how much of Reed's expressions were pure acting, and how many were caused by the frustration of filming. (Ha ha) Some of his on-screen looks were really that good. I could totally believe that this was a real man and not some character in a short film. Expressions to me are 80% of any given performance. Reed nailed them and for 15 minutes owned the screen. The dialog itself was also done well, leaving the cheese factor behind the lens and out of our ears. The only other small thing I'd like to ramble about was a shot or two that looked... weird... is the only way I can describe them. Slightly distorted or distorted/shaky. I really only noticed these few instances during establishing cuts. Shots of trees or a sky. Very small thing to write about but I figured I had to find something that bothered me. I completely understand that as an indie flick, sometimes you just gotta use what you have. In my opinion however, if it doesn't look right... cut it out. If it's gone you won't end up with guys like me thinking about something so small. As I started this write-up praising this short, I'll end it the same way. All my personal tech concerns are just that. Personal. As a whole piece, Reed Clare has pulled together a great short film with some excellent sequences. Especially the battle scenes. The only qualification a person needs when stepping into this film is the desire to be entertained. If that's present in you, you'll be in for a treat. This is a flick I would gladly watch again, and look forward to grabbing myself a copy, for my own collection.