Thursday, March 21, 2013

SKULL WORLD (Review)

review by AARON ALLEN 

Directed by
Justin McConnell

Starring Greg Sommer
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There are warriors among us. Working mundane jobs by day, by night they prepare for battle. Their weapons: cardboard. Their arena: Boxwars. Their champion: SKULL MAN! 

Skull World may not be a horror documentary, but fans of horror and more importantly metal and DIY art are going to rock large to director Justin McConnell's (The Collapsed) fascinating look into the epic world of cardboard carnage that is Boxwars. At the forefront of Skull World is the Skull Man himself (Greg Sommer), a wildly creative metal fan behind a skull mask and the champion of the Canadian chapter of Boxwars, an international underground movement of cardboard-based combat.


For Boxwars, which began in Australia, participants construct elaborate cardboard weapons, armor, and even sets before charging into a Braveheart-style battle royale. Giant cardboard swords smash into armor, massive boxy claws slash at the air, and the battle field -- usually a public park or indoor arena -- is filled with the sound of savage box-on-box combat until only one corrugated champion remains standing with suit intact. As wild as the notion of Boxwars is, there is no personality in the sport as charming or as enigmatic as Toronto's very own Skull Man.

METAL!
Skull World chronicles two years of Skull Man's efforts to expand and grow Canadian Boxwars. From Canada to Australia and back again, this doc follows Skull Man as he finds love, loss, and spiritual enlightenment on his mission to turn Boxwars into a passion for life. This fist-pumping documentary is fueled by the high-octane personality of Greg Sommer, Skull Man's alter ego. With his full-metal charm and creative mania, Greg's an unabashedly genuine underground artist with an uninhibited love for metal music, horror, Halloween, and performance. Greg's Skull Man persona allows him to turn his innate inner child up to 11 and unleash it upon the world. We all know and envy guys like Greg Sommer. Although we've grown up, moved out, got jobs, sold out, and grown bitter, guys like Greg have managed to hold on to their inner child and continue to tap into that pure and primal enthusiasm and unbridled imagination of youth. When Greg walks into battle in his skull mask and a giant cardboard suit of armor and spikes that look like it fell out of GWAR's wardrobe trailer, Skull World is at its best: a riveting look into the ways we blow off steam and find creativity in a world where many of us feel repressed and otherwise denied our creative impulses.

Skull Man represents Canada at Boxwars Australia
Although McConnell's documentary hits a midpoint lag as Skull Man's Boxwars activities wane while Greg indulges his interest in UFOs and making contact with aliens, you just have to accept that as part of the deal. When you accept Skull Man, it seems, you accept all his wild whimsies and eccentricities whether they pan or our not because, as Skull Man teaches us, it's not the success that matters, it's how large you rock while doing it.

Skull World, like Skull Man himself, is uplifting and imagination-affirming. For all of us who ever had wild dreams we hid from others because they were too weird, for all of us who felt like outsiders, and for all of us who resist conforming to a world forced on us by commands to "grow up" or "get real," then Skull World is the documentary to see. And Skull Man, bless his cardboard hide, he is our patron saint.


Shine on, you cardboard diamond!
Begin your journey into SKULL WORLD at its World Premiere: Friday, March 22nd at the Canadian Film Fest in Toronto. Find out more about SKULL WORLD and other fantastic Canadian films at www.canfilmfest.ca.


Rock large, cardboard warriors!

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