Got a half hour? Then you've got time to hit the washroom, grab some snacks, make yourself comfortable, and watch 'The Comeback', Apples's Chinese New Year film.
Created by TBWA Media Arts Lab Shanghai and directed by Zhang Meng, the 23-minute film is not only shot on iPhones (13 Pro and 13 Pro Max, Ad Nut is told) but is also about the making of a film that's (mostly) shot on an iPhone.
Both the film and the film within the film look amazing, and Apple would no doubt like Ad Nut to point out that this is thanks to features like stabilization, Slo-Mo, Time-lapse, Cinematic Mode, ProRes and Dolby Vision capture and edit. The company also notes that Zhang used no additional lenses.
The film may work a bit less well as a story than it does as a showcase for the iPhone's capabilities. You won't be surprised to find that it has to do with a young person who takes a long journey from the big city to his remote native village for the new year, nor that there's a tension between modern China and old China (mirrored in tension between the young man and his father), nor that there's a bunch of quirky locals, nor that there's a love interest for both the young man and his father.
Yet Ad Nut found it engaging enough to watch. The community bands together to make, of all things, a sci-fi epic about a rescue mission to Mars, which they hope will bring fame to the town. The frames are stuffed with fun details thanks to the inventive prop-making skills of the townsfolk. And the performances are solid enough to make you care.
In a nice surprise, the ending doesn't bring everything to an overly neat and triumphant conclusion. Will the young man stay in the village? Will the film within the film bring tourists to the village? We don't get to know. So we're left to think about how the characters have been changed and what might happen next. At a point near the end, the father observes that he never really cared whether the Mars film would succeed—he just wanted everyone to enjoy doing something together. By ending the way it does, 'The Comeback' remains true to this theme, which Ad Nut appreciates.
However, Ad Nut actually wonders whether the film might suffer in popularity because it lacks a predictable, feel-good ending. We shall see.
'The Comeback' is running on broadcast, digital, and social paid media in China, Singapore and Malaysia; online in Hong Kong, Taiwan and Macau; and on the brand's channels including the Apple TV app in many markets.
Naturally, there's also a behind-the-scenes video, also shot on iPhone, in case you'd like to watch a film within a film within a film.