+ Recommended – NR, Action, Martial Arts, Adventure (97 minutes)

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Firstly, it’s worth noting that upon release of the film, Skullduggery Theatre Films has a slue of content on their website here. You’ll find information regarding shorts, features, and a webseries called Stuck. It is important to support local art, so I highly recommend seeking these projects out. Marcus Majestic of Omaha will be holding an encore screening of Level Up! on the 21st of February and you can get tickets for the show now!

Level Up! follows two unlikely heroes who get entangled in a government conspiracy and must fend off numerous assassins sent to kill them. Will they be able to obtain the secret codes and save the world or will they watch the world collapse right before their eyes? The plot is fairly simplistic, and frankly cliché, but it works in favor of the film; and those cliché’s are implemented rather effectively. That is all it needs to entertain, and boy are there certain moments that are truly satisfying. That’s not to say that every aspect of the movie is spotless, rather the opposite.

Writer-director Faustus McGreeves‘ script, for one, has a couple slight mishaps. Certain lines, or short monologues, don’t quite land and the level of talent between the actors is very disproportionate in many places; exacerbating the sections where the dialogue is stale. A rendering issue that had occurred prior to our screening left most of the footage tainted with motion blurriness—and it’s irritating. I’m assured [by McGreeves] that this is currently being fixed. Beyond this, the minor flaws can be easily overlooked by the amount of care that went into making the feature film. And better yet: it was all filmed in the Omaha/Lincoln area.

Even more impressive, though, is the stylized fight choreography. It is shot and edited in a way where the viewer can see every little detail, as not to trick the audience by rapid intercuts or implied contact. And while it is obvious during some sequences that no contact is being made, it never breaks the immersion. Rest assured knowing that there are plenty of scenes that are structured around these on-screen fights and gags; little bits of comedy are interspersed throughout, lightening the mood and ensuring that the tone is never taken too seriously.

Alexander Hamilton‘s score is reminiscent of cyberpunk era electronica, or at least modeled off of media centered in those worlds, and it is infectious. It is the one through-line connecting the shots together, other than the actors of course. In any case, the film accomplishes some level of consistency; with the minor exception of costuming. Certain characters have the suited physical appearance of an entirely different movie; namely among the group of assassins. While it is important for the viewer to recognize a reoccurring character, it is equally important to have those visual flares blend seamlessly.

Overall, the quality is above admirable for a project independently funded. It’s one hell of a ride and does reward the viewer with exceptional choreography and precision. Props to everyone who worked hard to bring this concept to life. Make sure to pick up your tickets using the link above so you don’t miss out on the last screening before it goes to disc. You won’t be disappointed!

Poster for Level Up!
Image via Skullduggery Theatre Films
Image via Skullduggery Theatre Films
Image via Skullduggery Theatre Films

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