Ark Exitus is a film directed and co-written by Johnny Yong Bosch and produced by Vox Rocket Studio. Bosch had a special screening of the film at this year’s Emerald City Comic-Con, along with a Q&A session afterward. Ark Exitus focuses on Jacob (Bosch), a special operative for a secret organization known as Structure. Structure is fighting a shadow war against inhabitants from an alternate Earth, who have been entering our world via portal technology. Jacob is tasked with locating and killing the duplicates until one of his missions leads to a startling revelation about his past.
Bosch revealed during the Q&A that he originally had an entirely different idea for Ark Exitus, but after complications led to a budget cut, he wound up changing the genre and story of the film. It definitely worked in his favor as the final film leans into the same themes of identity that shaped sci-fi classics such as Blade Runner and The Matrix. Jacob’s wetwork is shown to weigh heavily on his soul; he discusses the ethics of his job with his handler Graham (Jason Narvy) and hides the truth from the people close in his life, including his girlfriend Lauren (Jennifer Almaguer). Bosch’s work on other genre projects such as Power Rangers and Bleach has clearly given him insight into shaping well-rounded characters. (And speaking of those other franchises, fans will want to keep their eyes peeled for Easter eggs throughout the film regarding Bosch’s career.)
Other Power Rangers alums have helped Bosch shape Ark Exitus into its final form. Narvy, in addition to portraying Graham in the vein of 80’s action movie villains like Hans Gruber, also served as the second unit director and is credited as an associate producer on the film. Kyle Higgins, who wrote the Mighty Morphin’ Power Rangers comic for BOOM! Studios and the Ranger-influenced Radiant Black for Image helped co-write the script along with Brian Buccellato (The Flash, Injustice). And Kamen Ramen Studios, which has done Ranger fan videos, also helped Bosch with the stunts in the film. This film shares a lot in common with Iké Boys, which also drew from Power Rangers and tokusatsu when crafting its own story.
Speaking of the stunts, they happen to be the film’s major draw. Each action sequence showcases Bosch’s skill as a martial artist, and no punches are pulled. A key example features Jacob going up against a horde of masked thugs, who are equipped with stun batons; he nimbly dodges the incoming batons and deflects them into hitting his opponents, while also wresting a baton from one thug and using it offensively. The firefights are equally intense, with blood spraying everywhere when a bullet finds its target. And the final fight takes place in a red-lit room, which serves as a nice aesthetic touch.
Where the film stumbles is its special effects, which tend to be hit or miss. The blood effects, while plentiful, definitely have a CG feel to them. The portal effects fare better, as crackling purple electricity surrounds the targets and transports them to their destination. Bosch said he learned visual effects on the fly, which explains the rough feel; he also said it’s something he probably wouldn’t want to tackle in the future. I appreciate when filmmakers can realize their strengths and weaknesses, and hopefully Ark Exitus was a learning curve for Bosch as a filmmaker.
Ark Exitus is a lean, mean sci-fi tale that has Johnny Yong Bosch taking multiple roles behind and in front of the camera and excelling at most of them. Bosch has said that the film has been approached for distribution, and could potentially be continued in another medium. And with the film leaving things open-ended with its final act, I’d more than welcome a sequel in any form.
Ark Exitus screened at Emerald City Comic Con 2021.
- Rating - 8/108/10
Ark Exitus is a lean, mean sci-fi tale that has Johnny Yong Bosch taking multiple roles behind and in front of the camera and excelling at most of them. Bosch has said that the film has been approached for distribution, and could potentially be continued in another medium. I hope we do see a continuation as the film promises
Collier “CJ” Jennings is a freelance reporter and film critic living in Seattle. He uses his love of comics and film/TV to craft reviews and essays on genre projects. He is also a host on Into the Spider-Cast.