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Face Off: Heavenly Bodies

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Face Off Heavenly Bodies

Remember last season when I made fun of the ballet finale? Well they actually found a way to make it worse. So much worse.

I’m going to spend some portion of this recap mocking the finale itself, because it was eminently risible. But to be totally clear, George, Tyler, and Rashaad are awesome and did amazing work.

Back at the Face Off house, everyone got to video chat with family members. Both George and Rashaad have gorgeous pregnant girlfriends, and Tyler’s parents were super supportive. Then it was off to the studio, which was decorated like an 80s music video. Just random neon lights all over the place.

The challenge was indeed extremely cool: design two rival alien races. The way they introduced it was hilarious. “Aliens have been a staple of high profile science-fiction franchises like…Star Trek. And SyFy’s Defiance!” Look, I love Defiance. It’s seriously excellent sci-fi. But in terms of being high profile? It’s lucky if it shines Star Trek’s shoes. Nice try though.

Then it’s time for the big shocking twist. The aliens have to incorporate light elements. Fine, fine, that often looks very cool, and some contestants do that even when it’s not required. To deliver this news, they drag in some British hipster who I guess is a DJ? Sure. Let’s just focus on how enthusiastic Tyler was about this challenge. Just like every challenge! “I’m so pumped right now.” That’s a Tyler quote from literally every single episode of the season. How can you not love a guy like that?

The artists selected constellations to inspire their aliens. George and Tyler went a predictable route, basing their aliens off of the constellation’s name (except Tyler’s basically had nothing to do with his constellation at all). You guys get how constellations work, right? Just because a vague formation of stars (which are actually nowhere near each other) look a little bit like a whale from Earth, that doesn’t mean the aliens there are going to be whalefolk. Rashaad, however, did a little research. “Ursa Major is the brightest constellation in infrared,” he told us. I have no idea if this is true but it’s enough to base a sci-fi story on. So his aliens and their light producing abilities were related to this generation and theft of light. He deserved the win based on that alone.

Eliminated contestants were brought back to work on the finalists teams, as usual. I wish we could do away with the schoolyard picking teams thing. Everyone worked together really well. Rashaad had some mold problems, solved by giving one of his characters a scar. George had to do some repair work that left him a little short of time for painting. Sadly, I think that’s where he fell out of contention. The muddy, too similar paintjobs did nothing to sell the amazing sculpt he’d created.

I could not have made the choice between Tyler and Rashaad. Both knocked it out of the park this week. Tyler’s female alien looked ethereal, and the lit chest piece was transcendent. His evil character didn’t quite work out, looking a little more cheerful and goofy than Tyler probably intended. Still, I liked the way that face had a sort of hollowed out bone structure feel to it.

Rashaad’s use of light in his female alien, and wild blue with green undercoat color pattern on his male alien, made them look incredibly good. Picking Daran for his team was a big deal, because Daran’s technique of adding small silicone pieces helped to both emphasize alienness and worked well with the lights.

It’s possible Tyler’s aliens were slightly better this week, but Rashaad has been more consistent over the course of the season. Just slightly better, long-term, than Tyler.

So, aliens completed, they had to perform in a special dance in an “underground club.” If that was anything other than a random soundstage, I’ll eat a pizza ( I’m probably gonna eat a pizza anyway). Random DJ comes out again, and the aliens are joined by some other dancers in generic silver space suits. A generic pop song starts playing, and they dance around. With all the backup dancers and twirling lights, it was almost impossible to make out the actual aliens. The DJ danced around and pretended to push buttons or something in his DJ booth. DJs are the real estate agents of the music world: they work really hard to look like they’re working really hard while serving no discernible function.

Then things got much worse. It wasn’t just a generic pop song. It was dubstep. So randomly in the middle of the song a sound like 50 Ampeg bass amps blowing out their speakers would blurt out and the aliens would try to dance to that.

Rashaad got the win, and totally deserved it. What’s cool is, I suspect Face Off has become a big enough thing, at least in the film-making circles that care about the craft of practical makeup and creature design, that the top three and most of the other people we saw tonight have some great resume material. “Face Off Finalist” is something I’d imagine opens some doors at this point.

There’s another season of Face Off coming in July, but I won’t be recapping it. I think I’ve done five seasons, and there are only so many ways you can talk about how good one werewolf is compared to another werewolf. The show also refuses to change their formula, and we’re seeing the same challenges every year. I love the concept, I love practical effects, I love monsters and creature designers and all the insanely talented artists that do this stuff. I’m just too burned out on Face Off.

I’ll bid farewell to Face Off recap readers (I’ll still be here doing Walking Dead and Game of Thrones, and you can find me at io9 and on Twitter) with one last kick to my favorite dead horse. More than anything else, I want Face Off to show off the creatures in a way that ties them to movies. That’s why people design creatures! Stick them in a lit set and shoot a 30-second sequence so we can see how they’d look in their proper environment. Jim Henson’s Creature Shop (which is a different production company, as far as I know) does this, and it’s amazing.

Farewell, Face Off. I’ll still be watching, just more quietly.

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Posted by on Tuesday, April 22nd, 2014. Filed under Dark TV, Headline, Lifestyle. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can skip to the end and leave a response. Pinging is currently not allowed.

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