Filed under: Entertainment,Florida News,Hidden Orlando,Leisure |

One of my passions is acting, but unfortunately I am now limited to making small cameo appearances as an extra … or background entertainer.  One of the movies I worked on last summer is now due for a release in March, but here is what Orlando’s movie critic thought of the preview last night.

Never2 Last night I caught Never Back Down, the Mixed Martial Arts kid-fights-his-way-to-respect genre pic last night, the one filmed in and around Orlando through a blistering August and September of last year, with an audience filled with people who worked on the film, either in production jobs or as extras.

And the first impression I took away from it was “Why isn’t Hollywood shooting here more often?” Or toGet2st  be more to the point, why aren’t more movies SET here?

Seriously, if, as National Geographic recently noted, Orlando is truly the quintessential modern American city (young, sprawling, cluttered with highways, strip malls in Disney Deco architecture, megachurches, outlet stores) and yet the city is as colorful, working class prosperous and under-exposed (on the big screen) as Never Back Down makes it look, why do we see so many movies set in generic suburbs of LA or Chicago or NYC? And so many others set in Portland, Sante Fe, Denver, Atlanta, Memphis, etc? Most of those places are more scenic, in a broader sense, than Orlando. Except for Atlanta (which has nothing on us but a baseball team). But these movies aren’t travelogues. They don’t spend much time down by the river, peering at the mountains, on the shores of a Great Lake.

And Orlando IS America, the good, the bad, the car-reliant, the over-extended.

Never1_4   See the movie (which opens Mar. 14) and you may be struck, as I was, by the O.C.styled new wealth (McMansions), the watersports, the “now-ness” of the place. Director Jeff Wadlow, cinematographer Lukas Ettlin and editor Victor DuBois have synthesized a YOUNG city that rides whatever wave pop culture is surfing at this moment, a metropolis with a caffeinated, viral video energy (viral video of the fights is a plot point) and a jumpy film of sleek modern schools, swimming pools and “girls in bikinis, YEAR ROUND.”

And also miles of highways, matching apartment blocks, little slices of Disney-fied seediness, an “underground” club scene that looks set-designed and a Sanford waterfront that makes a pretty good stand-in for Marina del Ray.

Not to oversell what is, of course, a simple-enough genre picture, Never Back Down has style and sass to burn and is the best showcase for Orlando on the big screen EVER. If it hits, it could very well draw the eyeballs of location scouts to the place that Monster caught in all its tacky glory, that Sydney White so cleverly hid (all that lovely, old money character that the Rollins College can provide).

Pity they changed the title. Get Some is punchier, by far. And it has a meaning that would sex up Disneyopolis even more.

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