Season 10, Episode 1: “Wanted, Dead or Alive”
[photos: Jordin Althaus/Syfy]
Host McKenzie Westmore welcomes back regular season judges and special effect gurus Glenn Hetrick, Ve Neill, and Neville Page to kick off season 10 of Face Off. Fourteen new contestants possessing a wide variety of backgrounds and skills will be pitted against each other for some nice prizes, including $100,000 cash, a year’s worth of Krylon special effect makeup, and a Fiat 500.
Some participants have industry-related experience and training, while others are self-taught, either through hobbies or building on previous professional skills. At first, you might see the lack of experience or formal training as a disadvantage, but if you’ve ever watched these creative competitions before, you know that it’s all about creating characters with a good story, having a solid plan that’s manageable within the time given, using materials in unconventional ways, and giving the judges something that they haven’t seen before. Often, the simple designs are the best, and over-the-top “scope creep” can kill the impact of an otherwise good idea.
This episode’s task put the contestants into a spotlight challenge before they even unpacked their bags. Pulling inspiration from characters who impact a great many sci-fi movies, such as Star Wars, Guardians of the Galaxy, and the Chronicles of Riddick franchise, they were to create a rogue alien bounty hunter based on a wanted poster providing the character’s name, their last known whereabouts, and an image of their space ship.
The imagery, color palate and character background from the poster gave the teams a head start, letting them get right into the design phase. By giving them a team challenge, each contestant also had the support of a teammate — well, in theory. As we saw with the bottom teams, this didn’t work so well for them. With Michael Westmore’s tips and critiques, the teams push forward, fixing potential issues in their sculpts before it’s too late to turn back. His recommendations included design tips for more successful application of the finished makeup, and improving facial proportions to fit the character.
Michael Westmore: “That chin looks too much like Jay Leno.”
As is often the case in a team challenge, the success of the design depends a lot on the chemistry between the teammates. Johnny and Ant start out in a rough spot, first sculpting their individual parts without agreeing on a common design direction, then switching mid-way to work on each other’s work to try and make it more cohesive. In reality, they worked against each other the entire time. While Johnny tried to follow Mr. Westmore’s suggestions, it seemed that Ant had a hard time giving up his initial ideas, and his changes took the face sculpt a few steps backward when they traded spaces. Although they kept their interactions professional, their frustration and lack of cohesion is apparent, and they end up in bottom looks with a poorly-executed makeup and an uninspired, flat paint job.
They were saved, however, by Greg and Yvonne. After Mr. Westmore’s suggestion to improve their character’s bio-mechanical face, Greg decided to scrap what little he had done and start over. His partner, Yvonne, focused on her own portion of the project and left Greg to his own devices. He spent the entire day on a simple square nose and chin in which there was little design.
However, he and Yvonne didn’t discuss how their pieces would work together, and at day two, he realizes that her cowl includes a nose piece and the styles don’t match, so they scrap his work (again). I’m not sure why Yvonne included a nose in her cowl design, but since they were working side-by-side, it seems that one of them should have noticed before now.
Unfortunately, their foam edges turned out very thick and rough, resulting in a rough finish that looked neither biological nor mechanical. As you might have guessed, Greg was ultimately sent to the workroom to collect his things and go home.
I always feel bad for the first person eliminated in any of these types of competitions. If you don’t take the time to look at their previous work, all you ever see of their talent is the one hideous piece that sent them home. At the end of the day, Greg didn’t contribute much to the finished product due to all of the re-dos, and what he did produce was clunky and ill-defined. I’m sure that Greg has talent or he wouldn’t have been selected for the competition, but judge Neville Page said it best in his very kind parting remarks to Greg:
Neville: “Greg, what I’m confident of, is that the best of you is yet to be seen.”
Yes, we all hope so, because if it gets much worse than what he made here, he should pick another profession.
As for top looks, I agreed with the judges about their top two picks, but not about the winning look. While Anna and Melissa’s version of “Tolo Ezulon” was good, it seemed to me that the shapes and details in the cowl that gave Melissa the win are something that we’ve seen before in Aliens, albeit on a much larger scale. Also, the monochromatic paint job lacked the depth that Kaleb and Walter’s lizard-man, “Maas Rossi,” featured.
On their lizard bounty hunter, the guys thoughtfully transitioned colors from front to back, and included short translucent horny projections, a realistic cross-lip scar, and glowing eye prosthetic to give him a believable back-story at a glance. In my opinion, this creature showed a more realistic and better-executed finished look, and should have taken home the prize this week.
Just as the judges love to be surprised, so does the audience. With the promise of new themes this season like World of Warcraft, Skull Island, industrial/futuristic, and the return of the Gauntlet, and including appearances by some of the industry’s best talents, this season looks to be off to an interesting start. Guests we can expect to see in upcoming episodes include:
- Lance Henriksen (Terminator, Aliens)
- Robert Kazinsky (Pacific Rim, Warcraft)
- Gale Anne Hurd (The Walking Dead, Terminator)
- Douglas Smith (Percy Jackson: Sea of Monsters, Terminator Genisys)
- Bill Corso (Star Wars: The Force Awakens)
- Lois Burwell (Saving Private Ryan, Braveheart)
- Jason Blum (Whiplash, Insidious)
- Paul Reubens (Pee Wee’s Playhouse, Blow)
The program airs Wednesdays on Syfy. Check your local listings for times, and watch past episodes on Syfy.com.
[Also published on SciFi4Me]