Judge Brett Cullum finds a typical cyperpunk rock musical about two girls in love.
Nothing is as dangerous as love.
Strange Frame is just your average lesbian sci-fi animated rock opera set in a cyberpunk cityscape populated with furry genetically altered humans. It's about the power of love triumphing over the tyranny of life on one of Jupiter's moons. Delicious evil, two lesbians, and one saxophone come together to make something like you have never seen before and probably never will again. It's an animated instant cult classic that is oddly compelling and strangely beautiful to watch. It is this generation's Rock and Rule given a queer makeover.
The plot takes us to the end of the 28th century, and humans have long left a decimated Earth to live on the moons of Jupiter. Ganymede is an urban center where an enslaved feisty songwriter named Naia (Tara Strong, Rugrats) meets a sexy saxophonist called Parker (Claudia Black, Stargate SG-1). Together they form a band, and set out to make politically charged rock protesting a slavery system that has lasted generations. But as their stars rise, so do the powers that pull them apart. Sex, drugs, rock and roll, and vintage film clips all merge to the tell the tale of two girls who need to find each other again out in a cold unforgiving space.
Strange Frame is unique for many reasons. The entire film is rendered in an unusually hip looking hand drawn style that came out of a studio full of promising art students in Hawaii. Director G.B. Hajim was determined not to ship his work off to Asia or let computers take over, and so he developed talent to produce what he wanted. It looks like a vintage issue of Heavy Metal come to life and given depth. The graphics alone could make Strange Frame a head-turner, but then add to it a legendary sci-fi voice cast including Tim Curry (The Rocky Horror Picture Show), George Takei (Star Trek), Ron Glass (Firefly), Cree Summer (Thundercats), Juliet Landau (Buffy the Vampire Slayer), Michael Dorn (Star Trek: The Next Generation), Claudia Christian (Babylon 5), and Alan Tudyk (Tucker and Dale vs. Evil). It makes things even more surreal and over the top. Everything has a sly cool vibe that marries perfectly with each aspect, and the sum is comprised of the hip parts.
Wolfe Video has provided a nice DVD package that serves the film well. The transfer is crisp, clean, and colorful. The sound is mastered in full surround by Lucasfilm's Skywalker team, and it creates a great atmosphere. Extras include featurettes showing some of the cast working on their characters, a deleted sequence, and a longer chat with Claudia Black about her process. All in all, it's an informative package that does right by the film.
Strange Frame is full of broken heroes, sexual deviants, and freaks; all seeking fame and freedom. It is a meditation on slavery, musical creativity, and ultimately what the power of the love between two women can do when set adrift in space. If you're a sci-fi fan, this is a must seek out, and well worth the trouble it could be to find a copy. It's a small independent film that caught a lot of attention at DragonCon, and deservedly so given the artistry of the animation and the caliber of the vocal talent. It's a treat to see science fiction that pushes forward the ideas of social equality for two lesbian girls in a brave new world. Imagine a gay Avatar blended up with Blade Runner and you're close to what Strange Frame is selling. Yet it is it's own beast, and well worth a look if you get a chance.
Guilty of being so strange it is impossible to frame.
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Scales of Justice
Studio: Wolfe Video
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