Call Of Duty XP: Activision Premiers Finding Makarov: Operation Kingfish

I am probably the only person on the Internet who didn’t think Finding Makarov, the Call of Duty fan film that blew everyone’s mind last Spring, was any good. Like most fan films, Finding Makarov has nothing to say, it’s just a series of cool images and gruff dialogue. I get that short films can never have the kind of weight a feature has, but it actually is possible to tell a real story in a very short amount of time. The problem is that most fan filmmakers aren’t storytellers, they’re just fans. I’ve watched Finding Makarov a few times and I still don’t know what the point even is, other than “We really love Call of Duty!”.

I don’t want to hate of course. I haven’t made a fan anything, and I’ll admit that Finding Makarov looks really slick, really professional, and the guys behind it undeniably have real chops when it comes to the most superficial elements of what makes someone a ‘good’ filmmaker. But at the end of the day, all they did was make a pro bono advertisement for the flagship product of one of the biggest corporate entities on the planet.

That’s fine, as far as such things go, and Finding Makarov is impressive, even if only on an entirely superficial level. When it emerged out of nowhere last spring, everyone thought the short was commissioned by Activision, that it might be a piece of viral marketing or even a hint that Activision was planning a live action Call of Duty film. As it turns out, Activision were also impressed – as they should be! That’s some exceptionally awesome advertising!

Activision were so impressed, so much so that they contacted the team behind Finding Makarov and offered to fully fund the production of a sequel, Finding Makarov: Operation Kingfish. Last night they premiered the new short to a packed crowd of Journalists at the first night of Call of Duty: XP.

So how was it? Truthfully, Operation Kingfish is as impressive as its predecessor. Slickly produced, professional, excellent, if extremely budgeted SFX and fast paced enough that it resembles the kind of brainless action film that defined the 1980s. It has no plot to speak of, just a series of glossy images of tough soldiers fighting other tough soldiers. It picks up from where the first short left off and features some extremely hammy acting and ADR syncing that makes the entire production sound as realistic as a cut-scene. In short, it is everything Operation Makarov is. Which means it’s equally as shallow and pointless.

The crowd ate it up, however, and no doubt the thousands of Call of Duty fans on hand for XP today and tomorrow will as well. And who am I to judge? Regardless of artistic merit, it’s a worthy achievement in DIY, and we can’t help but smile when fanboys are knighted by the very thing they obsess over. While I can’t say I’m a fan of the short, I am a fan of the fact that the guys who made it seem to have found some real success from having done it, and I hope this means their next outing will be the chance to make an original film.

Find Makarov: Operation Kingfish premiers at Call of Duty: XP this weekend and will be available online shortly after. Until then, here’s a peek at the original:

The official Finding Makarov site.

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