Portal: No Escape: Finally, A Great Movie Based On A Video Game
Director Dan Trachtenberg has done the impossible. He has made a gritty, gripping, SFX-driven movie adaptation of a video game.
Of course, it’s only seven minutes long.
Portal: No Escape is a true labor of love, a fan film that Trachtenberg has been working on independently for two years.
What makes it so good? Lead actress Danielle Rayne brings steely intensity and subtle acting to a completely silent role (also, her biceps are seriously intimidating). Trachtenberg says he was inspired by Terminator 2, but I also see a lot of Kill Bill in the first shot and the ass-kicking main character.
Trachtenberg uses music brilliantly; he recruited composer Mike Zarin, whose last gig was the megahit Inception, to score the film (the moment when the woman discovers the barcode on her neck still gives me chills, largely thanks to that music). Also, the special effects look damn good, especially for such a low-budget project. The final roof-jumping sequence covers a difficult shot with some shaky, fuzzy camera work, but it just heightens the jittery energy of the moment. Finally, the team crafted a twist ending that’s unexpected, believable and leaves you wanting more.
Trachtenberg premiered the film at ComicCon and posted it on YouTube last week, receiving immediate praise. Donald Glover (aka Childish Gambino) tweeted that the movie was “fuckin baller.”
Not everyone was thrilled: Some Portal fans have criticized Trachtenberg for cutting the game’s signature dark comedy (a lying robot narrator, a mad scientist who makes shower curtains). The director himself admits he believes in “‘adapting’ material not ‘recreating’ it.”
So give this guy a feature film already! Yes, it will need to be fleshed out, but as the AV Club noted, this short film could easily be the pre-credit sequence of a full-length one. And as we watch Rayne break through all the remaining walls and find out who has been confining her, a little of that dark humor might help keep the film from becoming just another revenge flick.
In any event, it’s guaranteed to be better than Battleship.