Sunday, July 29, 2012

Penny Thoughts ‘12—Electric City (2012) ***½

NR, 20 5-min. webisodes
Creator: Tom Hanks
Director: Joel Trussell
Writer: Tom Hanks
Starring: Tom Hanks, Holland Taylor, Jeanne Tripplehorn, Joey Kern, Tara Sands, Edith Fields, Jason Antoon, David Kaye, Tara Strong, John Rubinstein, June Diane Raphael, Paul Scheer, Georg Stanford Brown, James Urbaniak, Chad Coleman, Ginnifer Goodwin

Tom Hanks’ “Electric City” is an animated sci-fi web series that is totally unexpected. Taking place in a future world where some catastrophic event has totally changed our world, which has rebuilt itself into a more totalitarian state where electricity is a precious commodity that is controlled by the state. Anyone using electricity outside of the guidelines set forth by the state, even in small transistor radios, is dealt with by law enforcement. If their transgressions are more subversive to the establishment, there are assassins sanctioned to kill on behalf of the state.

I’m surprised to find that these are the themes that a filmmaker like Hanks spends his time contemplating, but I’m also glad. He does a good job building a fantasy world in which to explore his ideas. He keeps it vague enough to allow for further exploration, but it’s also detailed enough to create a solid mythology. The art rendering is quite beautiful, and the mature themes make it enjoyable on an adult level. This is even more impressive when considering that each episode is only 5 minutes in length. I notice that the creators of MTV’s “Aeon Flux” are credited as consultants. Their influence is felt in how economically Hanks’ complex story is conveyed in such short installments.

Hanks himself provides the voice of the lead character, one of the state’s assassins who may begin to question the good intentions intended by the state’s mandates. Hanks collects a variety of good voice artists, both known movie actors and others from the voice artist industry, to create a solid cast of characters. It’s important to note that my bias toward this cast is increased by the involvement of a friend from college as one of the major players. Way to go Tara Sands!

Unlike many web based series, “Electric City” left me hungry for more; and it seems Hanks has left plenty of room for this to become a long running series.

Here’s the first episode.

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