In the short film The Escape, director Paul J. Franklin weaves a modern telling of late sci-fi author Robert Sheckley's story about a man seeking more meaning in his life, via some extreme (and costly) sci-fi ways. That man, Lambert (played by actor Julian Sands), is presented with a Faustian bargain: Live out his most tantalizing fantasy, in exchange for handing over every one of his possessions to the enigmatic Kellan (Art Malik), who can supposedly deliver anyone's desire.
The Lambert decides to take this devil's deal, sacrificing much in the process. Of course, like most Faustian transactions, Lambert doesn't get quite what he wanted from the deal, leading to a shocking revelation about that which was truly surrendered, and truly gained.
Fans may recognize the name of The Escape director, Paul J. Franklin as the multi-Oscar-winning Visual Effects Supervisor of Christopher Nolan's Inception and Interstellar, who also worked on some of the biggest (and best) superhero movies ever, such as Nolan's The Dark Knight and The Dark Knight Rises, and Marvel's Captain America: Civil War.
We sat down to talk with Franklin about The Escape, and the conversation naturally turned toward his work in the superhero genre, how visual effects should be used in the genre, and whether or not the genre has enough good opportunities left for bold, ambitious directors. Read on to see what he had to say.
While discussing what kind of projects Paul J. Franklin may want to take on as he moves from VFX work to full-on directing, we addressed the question of what big sci-fi properties or franchises Franklin might want to try his hand at.
After covering the question of the sci-fi genre, we had to ask Franklin - who worked on some of the biggest, and/or game-changing films in the superhero genre - what superhero properties or franchises he would want to take on. According to Franklin:
"That's an interesting one to ask. I was so lucky to have been involved in all three of Chris Nolan's Dark Knight movies. It's very difficult to top that. I think they are the definitive superhero movies."
There was a time that most superhero movie fans would instantly agree with Franklin; however, in the nearly ten years since The Dark Knight hit theaters, fans have moved on to new favorites (see: Guardians of the Galaxy), and you'll find just as much debate over Nolan's Batman movies, as you will praise.
For his part, Franklin still clearly likes what Chris Nolan did with the genre; other films in the genre? Not so much:
"[Nolan's Batman Trilogy] They're fantastic films as well as being fantastic superhero films and I don't think that can be said for all comic book movies, by any means.
...I think there's been a huge number of really great superhero movies in the last few years. I think some of the ones before the modern era of superhero filmmaking came along... A good superhero movie was the exception rather than the norm. You look at a film like Richard Donner's 'Superman,' absolutely fantastic film, but there were so many other not very good versions of Spider-Man and the Fantastic Four that came out in the '70s and the '80s which are rightly forgotten these days. I think those are examples of not very good versions of superhero films."
That's a very diplomatic answer - but what can one expect from a man who has worked on some the best projects for both DC and Marvel? Not the usual fan bias for one or the other, that's for sure.
For more on Paul J. Franklin's short film The Escape, and more of our interview with filmmaker (including talk about the sci-fi genre), click the link below.