Julien Neaves, Caribbean Head Writer
Plot: Alien warrior and commander Acuna (pronounced Acoon-nia) is betrayed and banished to a prison planet after finding herself on the wrong side of an intergalactic war involving the planet Capernaum. Now she must adapt to survive or be consumed by this harsh world.
Context: Sci Fi action short film Acuna, written and directed by Ancil Harris, is the latest from Trinidad and Tobago production house GT Network and their interconnected Ville Ventures Universe of movies and series. The titular character first appeared in Episode 3 of the series Vaser Claw back in August 2022 (I’ll link that review for you good folks below) and the fierce warrior instantly stood out with her striking multi-coloured hair, shredded costume, scythe-like weapons and powerful sonic scream power. While we got to see her throw down with Vaser Claw and we learned that the hero had some type of history with her, we didn’t get any back story on this visually intriguing femme fatale. As her story was screaming to be told (I don’t regret that pun one bit) we finally got to see her fleshed out in her own self-titled short film. With the context out of the way on to my review!
Review: We at Red Mango Reviews have been reviewing content from GT Network and the Ville Ventures Universe since December 2020 (wow, that is a long time) and Acuna is the best to come from them. There is just something so clean and tight about the film that I really loved. The plot is straightforward and easy to follow, alternating between Acuna’s challenges on the prison planet V-En (the main setting of the Vaser Claw series) and the events leading up to her banishment on said planet. Jenelle Karamath really kills it as the female warrior, imbuing her with a grit and almost feral nature in the action scenes (more on that later) that demands to be seen. And she also does solid work in the tender moments with Vaser Claw (Jumael James reprising his role) and with the scenes on V-En with no dialogue, conveying her desperation with just her eyes and body. Now that is acting!
Also returning for the film is Charli Griffith, who played the noble Queen Lou-Cinda in both Vaser Claw and superhero series Magonolia. Here she steps behind the camera to provide narration, and her strong vocals and butter voice do yeoman service in providing exposition and keeping the story moving along. There is yet another returning actor whose appearance I will not spoil, but I will just say that the scene with said character was really cool and will likely have implications for the Ville Ventures Universe moving forward. Overall, the acting here is good all around.
Three more feathers in Acuna’s cap are the action sequences, music and visuals. The action sequences, while not long, were well choreographed and featured brutality and use of alien powers, two things that I enjoy. The epic music is the best I have heard from the Ville Ventures Universe. And the 3D Modelling by Designs Projects and Mat Van Rhoon VFX creates some super cool looking background and establishing shots that help this alien world feel more tangible.
The only two quibbles I have with the film is the pacing (Acuna crawls in the dirt just a scene too much) and the prop work and costuming of the villains could have been stronger. But other than that, I had quite a blast with Acuna and I look forward to seeing more of this intriguing character in future projects. And while the film is connected to the broader Ville Ventures Universe, as a story it stands well on its own, making it the perfect gateway for new fans of this ever-expanding world.
Score: 8 out of 10
You can check out Acuna for yourself by clicking here. And you can catch up on more Ville Ventures Universe reviews below:
Julien “Editor Jules” Neaves is a TARDIS-flying, Force-using Trekkie whose bedroom stories were by Freddy Krueger, learned to be a superhero from Marvel, but dreams of being Batman. I love promoting Caribbean film (Cariwood), creating board games and I am an aspiring author. I say things like “12 flavours of awesome sauce”. Read more.