Yeah, that's what I thought too... "Tomb Hackers" I remember writing "Sure, I'll review your film!" then reading the title and thinking "Dude, 'Tomb Hackers'? Oh, it's animated... well that's okay then!"
"Okay" it is... actually, better than that. Anthony Thurman is funny as hell, and although Tomb Hackers is his first actual release (and in many ways, that shows) this debut already shows the promise that could make Thurman the guy you watch on Late Night TV.
Thurman's computer animation style is a bit motion-limited, and occasionally Tomb Hackers looks like one of those '70's Filmation Studio productions where frame after frame slides by with only a character's mouth moving. Hell, sometimes the characters are practically Johnny Quest in their mobility. Why this works is that Tomb Hackers looks like a cool, avant garde comic strip come to life. Further, this flat, yet TRON-embellished comedy adventure is fun to watch, evoking some of the best of Scooby Doo, Fat Albert and the Cosby Kids and yes, South Park!
You think I should Hack into the Recap now? I shall! The year is 2025 and a couple of corn ball futuristic archeologists (more O.C. and Stiggs than Indiana Jones) have discovered a tomb in Egypt (we think) that has been lost since... well... probably some time around now. Jack Loot (voice of Anthony Thurman) and amigo Rob Moore (Donnie Maclin) have decided to invade this lost temple for two main reasons... the first, they think it might be cool... the second, they're both in so much student loan debt that homeless guys might give them a quarter. In short... Fortune and Glory, kid... Fortune and Glory!
Their goal? The "MIND SHIFTER" a (probably Republican-created) device that has the power to transfer minds between bodies. Man... I usually have to drink at least a quart of whisky before that works for me... Kudos, guys. Unfortunately for them there are more "booby traps" in this Tomb they're Hacking than one might find at a Victoria's Secret store, and not a one of them half as nice to look at. Even worse, their obnoxious College Rival Fuller (also Maclin) has come to crash the party and dish out a few quips of his own. Worse, a computerized intelligence (also Thurman) left over from the 20th Century, worse than any Mummy's Curse, has awakened to wreak digital havoc upon our new heroes.
No, actually, Fuller's still worse, man.
Luckily for Jack Loot and Rob Moore, aside from having hysterically appropriate names our main men also have seven Radio Shacks worth of Crazy Cool weaponry, almost as dangerous as their biting, sarcastic wit. And man does that wit ever spark! This is the mind of Anthony Thurman! Just listening to his characters pun, quip and zing (like Ash from Army of Darkness meeting Eek the Cat backstage at a Weird Al concert) simultaneously made me laugh out loud and made me want like HELL to have a few dozen beers with Thurman. Yeah, that's the way to see how they come up with lines like this where he comes from. And where does this Helmsman of the Comedy boat hail from? Well, I'll give you a hint... not Louisiana, Paris, France or even Rome.
But enough about Thurman's Home Sweet Home. Tomb Hackers is hilarious, but most certainly not perfect. Often Thurman shows his beginner status as brightly as he shows his Independent Spirit. While the animation works for the subject matter and the look of the characters, it's hard to imagine Tomb Hackers in its present state showing up in a popular format. That's not to say it shouldn't be seen! In fact, I can see a great film, or even series, in Anthony Thurman's future. Also, though our writer/ director/ producer and even composer has a high batting average (higher than most first-timers), he's not able to hit a home run every time. Occasionally the random joke flies foul (and gets caught anyway) and at times, Anthony seems to be standing at the plate with his bat on his shoulder. Luckily this is a small percentage of the time, ensuring the fact that Tomb Hackers is NEVER BORING!
As I said, I can see Anthony Thurman going forward skillfully with his craft... even with these two characters. Often, even where polish is needed, Tomb Hackers plays like the pilot episode to a potentially popular TV series (this short film is less than 23 minutes long). Taken as such, it's notable how well Thurman makes all this so worthwhile. In fact, comparing this to the first attempts by Parker and Stone, Thurman's film is actually better. Hell, he's got virtually every episode of TV Funhouse or Tripping the Rift beat on his first try (though a hot, erstwhile nude android chick could improve any animated show... except Clifford the Big Red Dog, maybe).
Thurman's characters are hilarious not only because of what they say, but because of the way they look. Taking a page or two from Berkeley Breathed, Moore and Loot pause for a goofy look or three here and there that say almost as much as his dialogue. Thurman's and Maclin's voices are perfect fits for this crazy style and zany theme. It looks like an alternatively produced video game, like Pac-Guy and shares both the good and the bad with such killer projects. Sure, there's work to be done on all of this, but man, what a place to start!
Three Stars out of Five for 2003's cracked animated short from ALT Key Productions: Tomb Hackers. It's more than a spoof of adventure films, it's more than a crazy computer animated indie, and it's more than you might be expecting. My suggestion to Anthony T. on his expanding Philosophy? I want to see more of the chicks. That's art, baby! Man... I'm a broken record. See you in the next reel.
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