Each time I wake up in the morning, I expect my day will include at least one battle of wills. It usually involves limiting my food intake or abstaining from destroying all traffic, but today involves a much more literal use of the idiom. This explosive skirmish is between William Shatner and William Shakespeare, and it takes place entirely in Lego form. In other words, it’s the most important battle in the history of humanity. Ever. Or maybe it’s just a cleverly amusing short film; I didn’t have my glasses on so I couldn’t tell if this was archival footage or not.
Created by AMAA Productions, a stop-motion animation company out of San Antonio, Texas, Action Bill is an epic take on heroes fighting heroes in a world made out of unforgiving plastic. While that sounds like a fairly pompous description, the actual fact-by-fact synopsis is even more extravagant, and is representative of science fiction conceptualizing at its finest.
The arguably lovable Shatner has apparently moved from Priceline ads to become a time-traveling assassin, and his number one target is the Bard, whose iambic pentameter he blames for giving him his stunted speech patterns. (Seems plausible.) Shatner arrives in the early 17th century inside of a deadly robot, with murderous destruction as his only motivation. It’s a shame, too, as Shakespeare is a joyous chap, suffering from a desk-filling case of writer’s block (not to mention all the innocent citizens who get squeezed into a bloody oblivion). But the Bard’s fast feet and weapons skills aren’t the only things standing against the explosive Shat-Bot. Sir Patrick Stewart also beams himself down (and back in time) to fight his fellow Star Trek franchise cohort. This would make for THE most amazing celebrity boxing match, with Sir Ian McKellen standing in Stewart’s corner, idly hiding a horseshoe and blinding powder inside a jacket pocket.
All in all, we give a big slow-motion pat on the back to the tiny crew that managed to fit so much action and comedy into such a time-consuming process. Directed with a skilled, painted-on eye by Gareth Witte, Action Bill boasts voicework from Kent Pool as both Shatner and Stewart, while Kenneth Haney voices the eloquent playwright, and Nick Longoria provides a solid soundtrack. You can find out more about the company and the film at the AMAA Productions website, where you might just get inspired enough to make that Francis Ford Coppola/Francis Bacon Tinkertoys short film you’ve been thinking about for ages.
Get a feel for the painstaking process in the behind-the-scenes video below, and cross your mass-produced fingers that Action Bill lives on beyond this one film.