|Directed by|| Aydan Woodward
|Produced by|| Nick Pedersen
|Written by|| Jack Verdera
|Starring|| Nick Pedersen
|Music by||David Wyatt|
|Edited by|| Aydan Woodward
|Production company|| Zebcast Studios
|Release date||July 10, 2015|
|Running time||37:13 minutes|
|Country||United Kingdom, Spain.|
Stormwatchers is an ensemble superhero fan film based on Watchmen by Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons, although there are some differences, for example the characters have different names and the story is slightly changed. It is the seventeenth film by Zebcast Studios (fifteenth available on YouTube) and the third by Crazyak Studios, and stars Nick Pedersen, Jaime Troncoso, Jack Verdera, Aydan Woodward and Aston Wyatt as the film's main characters. It also features Gary Woodward as the Phantom Soldier and many more minor characters.
Set in 1993, it tells the story of a retired group of costumed crime fighters who reunite after one of their own, the Phantom Soldier (Gary Woodward), is murdered. It turns out, however, that this murder is part of a much bigger conspiracy, that could destroy human civilization.
The film was released on July 10, 2015, in the United Kingdom and Spain. The film had an initial release party in the Canary Islands, but later had a much bigger premiere in Congerstone, Leicestershire, England. The film received positive reception from fan film critics attending both release parties and on YouTube.
The "Stormwatchers", a team of costumed crime fighters, was formed in 1968 in response to a rise in costumed gangs and criminals. Their existence has dramatically affected American politics, dramatically reducing crime in New York. As the years pass, people start blaming the Stormwatchers for police losing their jobs as there are no more criminals for the law to arrest. Growing anti-vigilante sentiment in the country leads to masked crime-fighters being outlawed in 1972. While many of the heroes retire, Korsakoff and Strikeseeker continue to operate outside the law.
21 years later, in 1993, the Phantom Soldier is murdered in his apartment by a masked intruder. Korsakoff, who is still operating illegally as a vigilante, hears the gunshot and enters the apartment. At first, he thinks it's just the body of a normal civilian, but then he finds a framed photograph of the old team, and realises that the Phantom Soldier has been murdered. He theorizes that someone may be trying to eliminate the Stormwatchers. He attempts to warn his retired comrades—his former partner Daniel Teach (Eagle Eye) and the team's former leader George Fillmore (Captain Ares), who at first dismisses the information, but eventually agrees to reunite the team. Teach relays this information to another member of the disbanded group, failing businessman Francois LeBeau (Lionheart), who also accepts.
The reunited team goes to the prison to break out James Radcliffe (Strikeseeker), who was captured not long after going on the run with Korsakoff in 1973. They break him out after a big fight with the police and prison guards, and escape in the Stormmobile, the team's old car.
Eagle Eye shows the rest of the team the new technologically advanced base he built for them. Captain Ares then briefs the team with their first mission back together: their old enemy, Mister Explosion, has returned at the same time as they did. The team have to find him in his warehouse hideout and ask him what he knows about the Phantom Soldier's murder. Eagle Eye, flying with his wings, attacks the guards on the roof. Strikeseeker and Lionheart attack the guards in the main entrance (unbeknownst to Strikeseeker, there was a bomb that would soon detonate near him). Korsakoff enters round the back, where he successfully finds Mister Explosion. After a conversation, Korsakoff threatens him and asks him what he knows. Mister Explosion simply replies "Muhammad al-Mualim" and shoots himself to avoid capture. Korsakoff, outside, tells the team all the information he got. The team then wonders where Strikeseeker is, and look at the burning building, assuming he died in the fire. Francois suspiciously walks away, catching Korsakoff's attention.
Investigating his company after that suspicious encounter, Korsakoff and Eagle Eye discover that Francois is behind everything. Korsakoff records his final entry in his journal. Korsakoff and Eagle Eye confront Francois at his desert retreat: the Aquitaine. Francois confirms he is the mastermind behind Phantom Soldier's murder and Strikeseeker's presumed death. He explains that his plan was to sell nuclear weapons to an Arabic terrorist named Muhammad al-Mualim and in return regain his lost millions and revive his failing company. Phantom Soldier discovered Francois and Muhammad's plot, so he killed him to keep quiet. Korsakoff and Eagle Eye attempt to stop him, but Francois subdues them both.
Soon after, Captain Ares and Strikeseeker, who survived the burning building (which leaves Francois both shocked and horrified), arrive at the Aquitaine and shoot Francois. It looks like he's dead, but he quickly gets up and punches Ares in the face. Then the television turns on, and Muhammad reveals that the plan cannot happen, as his terrorist organisation has gone bankrupt and his family had died. Francois bursts into a rage after realising he gave him nuclear weapons for nothing. The whole team agrees to keep quiet about the failed plan and not tell anyone. Korsakoff however refuses to remain silent and prepares to leave, believing that if something like that would ever happen again, the world would be prepared to stop it. Eagle Eye fights him in the stairwell and successfully defeats him, but Korsakoff gets up and continues. The team believe that there's nothing they can do, but Strikeseeker goes out into the desert to confront Korsakoff. After a heated argument in the burning New Mexico sun, Korsakoff forces Strikeseeker to shoot him in the head, killing him.
After Francois leaves the Aquitaine, the three remaining Stormwatchers (Captain Ares, Eagle Eye and Strikeseeker) plan to return to New York and continue fighting crime underground. The film ends with Daniel returning to his house in New York. As he is about to make a cup of tea, he is surprised to find Korsakoff's journal on his kitchen table, ending the film with a cliffhanger.
Cast and characters Edit
(in order of appearance)
- Gary Woodward as Elias Bones/Phantom Soldier: An old superhero who, after the banning of costumed heroes in 1972, is commissioned by the U.S. government as a black-ops specialist. His murder at the start triggers the events of the movie.
- Aydan Woodward as Korsakoff: A masked vigilante who continues his extralegal activities after they are outlawed. He is also the narrator of the story. Aydan explained, "He tries to show the viewer his dark, creepy perception of our world. His black and white view of reality. He's clearly mentally disturbed but he is an honourable man who wants to help the oppressed no matter the cost".
- Aston Wyatt as Daniel Teach/Eagle Eye: A retired superhero with technological expertise that can fly with mechanical wings. After the forced retirement of the Stormwatchers, he isolated himself from the rest of the world.
- Jack Verdera as George Fillmore/Captain Ares: The former leader of the Stormwatchers, who has become a successful author since the prohibition of vigilantes. After hearing of the Phantom Soldier's murder, he is convinced by Korsakoff to put on the costume again and reunite the team. Verdera said, "He's a very cheesy and campy character. Very colourful, but he's supposed to be like that. He represents an outdated hero who doesn't really fit in with the new world, but is still a courageous leader who wants to do the right thing."
- Jaime Troncoso as Francois LeBeau/Lionheart: A retired Spanish/French crime-fighter, Francois is now a struggling businessman, trying to stop his company (Dagger Consolidated) from falling to pieces. He becomes Lionheart again after hearing of the murder of his old teammate, the Phantom Soldier. However, it is revealed that Francois is the murderer, and he only dressed up as Lionheart again to avoid suspicion.
- Nick Pedersen as James Radcliffe/Strikeseeker: A former Stormwatcher, who has been incarcerated in a heavily guarded prison after refusing to surrender to the government's prohibition of superheroes. Nick explained, "He has a violent past. He used to be in SWAT. That's how he knows all these special police combat stuff but he left them after seeing how corrupt it's bosses were, and became a vigilante. Then he and Korsakoff continued fighting criminals illegally after superheroes were outlawed in '72. He got caught, Korsakoff got away. He's been locked up in jail ever since."
Supporting cast Edit
- Nick Pedersen as Nicky Mail
- Aydan Woodward as Victor Volstagg/Master Galaxy: A classic villain to the Stormwatchers.
- Taui Atwood as Mister Explosion: An old foe of the Stormwatchers who has returned around the same time as them.
According to co-director Aydan Woodward, the duration of the production process was a year and a half. Since he was 12 or 13 years old, Woodward loved Watchmen. It was his favourite comic book ever, and he had read it several times over. Woodward had already made several fan films before, but from then on his dream was to make a film based on Watchmen.The idea for the film started around the middle of February 2014, after Woodward's 14th birthday. He went over to see his friend, colleague and fellow filmmaker Jack Verdera to pitch the idea to him. However, Verdera wasn't so easily convinced, as he saw making Watchmen as something far too complicated, if not impossible. Woodward didn't give up though, and decided to simplify Alan Moore's complicated arcs, remove Dr. Manhattan entirely from the story and change the characters names/looks. The story's setting was changed from 1985 to 1993. Woodward and Verdera started drawing character sketches and name ideas while they were in high school.According to Woodward, "We didn't really have a casting, we more or less called everyone from previous movies to come back. They were obviously like 'Yeah we really wanna do this again'. Jack (obviously), the legendary Aston Wyatt, Nick Pedersen, Gary Woodward and newcomer Jaime Troncoso".
Shooting began in June-July 2014. Woodward apparently had to go through a lot of stress due to "bad eggs on set" and suffered breakdowns. There were several moments when the production team lost hope and thought they couldn't do it, but Jack Verdera would always be hopeful and motivate the others to never back down. After a year of hard work and stress, filming had ended. Editing was headed by Aydan Woodward and veteran Zebcast Studios editor Jimmy Maugleiter, with VFX being supervised by Verdera.
The film was released to the world on July 10, 2015.
David Wyatt was credited as the composer of the film's soundtrack. He wrote and sang the movie's main theme, Questions Unanswered.
The film was released on YouTube on the 10th July, 2015. There were two release parties for the film: one in Fuerteventura, Canary Islands which was only a small celebration, and a much bigger premiere in the Congerstone Theatre on the 2nd August, 2015. The Congerstone premiere was a very big and well organised event, prepared with the collaboration of Ta Cook Events.
The film received very positive reviews from both YouTube viewers and attendees of the premiere.
Mary Anne Kribson of the Leicestershire Fan Film Diary gave the film a perfect 10/10 and said "Absolutely mindblowing! A stunning tribute to Watchmen. Brilliant soundtrack, sharp dialogue - the most exciting Zebcast Production yet." Also praising the film along with another perfect score (8/10) was Kyle Smith of Dunas Canarias, comparing it to some of Quentin Tarantino's films. "Directors Woodward and Verdera's fan film incorporates several similarities to both the graphic novel it's based on and the Tarantino film Reservoir Dogs".
The YouTube critic Faceless Critic made a full review of the film and gave it a C, saying that 'although a lot of people will say it's a cheap knock-off of Watchmen, it incorporates a few creative changes and good acting', praising Aydan Woodward's portrayal of Korsakoff, but slightly criticizing Jaime Troncoso's portrayal of Lionheart.
- In the beginning of the film, in the TV interview from The Nicky Mail Show, the presenter of the chat show (Nicky Mail) is the name of a character that appears in Zebcast's earlier movie saga Jsmboinick. In Jsmboinick, Nicky Mail is a news reporter for Playa Blanca News that reports on Scantugo Strange becoming Mayor of Playa Blanca City. Playa Blanca City is the home city of Zebcast Studios superhero Jsmboinick. It is possible that Stormwatchers and Jsmboinick are set in the same universe.
- A possible sequel is in the works. According to co-director Aydan Woodward, if a sequel will ever be made, it will be directed and written by Aston Wyatt (who portrayed Eagle Eye); and that he and Jack Verdera would have nothing to do with the creative process.
- Another Zebcast Studios film, I Am 8, was confirmed to be set in the same cinematic universe as Stormwatchers by director Edgar Jacobi in February 2017. The character known as The King Of Hearts (Gary Woodward), who is a supporting character in I Am 8, was an enemy of the Stormwatchers back in the late 1960's and early 1970's. Not only that, but in a scene in which Gustavo Tojedo (Aydan Woodward) is talking to his partner on the phone in a cafe in southern Spain, he is reading a book by George Fillmore A.K.A. Captain Ares.