It’s hard to get more indie than a show shot on $300 by a team of three friends, but that is indeed what’s behind the five-episode drama Dice, a highly stylized trip through the criminal underworld that focuses on Dice (Kyle J. Downes), about whom we know little — except that he isn’t afraid to take risks.
Dice isn’t the first film noir I’ve seen in the web series world, and it’s perhaps not quite as authentic to the reality of criminal life as other examples, such as the Chattanooga-set The Steps. However, the first episode of Dice…Oh, it’s so hard to resist the “starts off with a bang” cliche. Let’s just say that it’s attention-grabbing. And the subsequent episodes feature great cliffhangers and a cool polish that appeals to any Bannen Way fan.
And the style of the piece can’t be denied, especially given the extremely limited resources. Given the claimed budget of $300, the production values are decent and the cinematography is great, notably the desaturated palette enhanced by the bright red dress worn by a femme fatale. Yes, the femme fatale wears a bright red dress, it’s a total cliche, but it’s still a striking one. So really, the only technical flaw is the sound design, which is thin and tinny at several points — dragging down the series, though not overtly so.
The other thing the show is missing is a cleaner perspective on its hero. The titular Dice is portrayed as a take-no-prisoners type, in it for himself, and while there’s a nice twist on his true identity at the end, it’s still not quite enough to make for a fully realized character. The promise of a season two intrigues for that reason, though — because with more episodes and more time, the show could go beyond its style and achieve some real substance.
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