Wednesday, January 16, 2013

'Face Off' recap: Season premiere, 'Make it Reign'

Courtesy Syfy
BY LARISSA MRYKALO


The fourth season of Syfy’s make-up effects series Face Off, premiered with 14 new faces and two regal challenges. Hostess McKenzie Westmore has returned and promised the "biggest season ever!"

Judges Ve Neill, Glenn Hetrick and Neville Page have also returned. Michael Westmore (McKenzie's pop) has been added as a regular to the series as mentor to the contestants. He’ll be offering his expert advice and critiques each week during the walk-through portion of the Spotlight Challenge.

The stakes are the same as previous season: $100k; a guest-lecturer spot at the Make-Up Forever Studios in NYC and Paris; and a 2013 Fiat 500.

The contestants first met each other (and McKenzie) on the famously haunted Queen Mary ship in Long Beach, and this set the stage for their first challenge.

Let’s meet this season’s 14 eclectic new artists:
Alam (25); Alexandra (31); Anthony (26); Autumn (35); "House" (41); Eric Fox (37); Eric Zapata (22); Jenna (40); Katie (26); Kris (41); Meagan (29); Michael (31); Troy (34); and, Wayne (27).

Some interesting notes: Michael (who sports some really cool Wolverine hair) is the brother of Season 2’s Matt; Jenna is an ovarian cancer survivor who lost both her job and her spouse during her ordeal; and Eric F. may just be the love child of rockers Adam Ant and Perry Farrell. Nonetheless, they’re all majorly talented and showcased their skill nicely with the episode’s two challenges.

Foundation Challenge

While aboard the Queen Mary, the contestants learned that for their first challenge, they had to select one of 14 diverse-looking crowns that inspired an original "Queen" character. The winner of the challenge receives immunity.

This is where they learn that acclaimed make-up artist Michael Westmore will be their mentor for the season. Needless to say, they were excited and got to work on their creations right away. The make-up and crown needed to complement each other and tell a story. Their talents were showcased and some standouts were Eric F.’s "Queen of Absent Souls," Jenna’s "strong" creation, and Anthony’s alien queen that Michael deemed "good enough to shoot on film."

Michael Westmore chose Anthony as the winner of the challenge and this probably gave him the added boost of confidence to tackle the spotlight challenge. The 14 went to their new home, inspected the sweet digs, admired the mountainous views and mentally prepared for the stressful road ahead of them.

Spotlight Challenge

The Gothic architecture of 88-year-old St. John’s Cathedral in Los Angeles served as the inspiration for the first spotlight challenge. McKenzie revealed that their task is to create a Goblin King that must match the geographical region of the mythical landscape where they reign. Seven teams of two were pre-chosen: Jenna/Eric F.-Desert; Michael/Troy-Volcanic; Alex/Wayne-Swamp; Alam/Kris-Forest; Anthony/Meagan-Mountain; Katie/House-Arctic; and, Eric Z./Autumn-Jungle.

The teams took some time in the cathedral to get inspired and start sketching in the Design Phase. Their drawings gave viewers a taste of their talent and their willingness to work with one another. No drama is sensed yet!

Day 1

As in previous seasons, the first day is reserved for sculpting and creating the prosthetics, and then molding. Five hours is provided to do all this tedious work. The only real issue was when Anthony broke the nose on the cast and teammate Meagan got really nervous. Since Anthony gained immunity, he feared the gang would suspect sabotage. He fixed the cast and went on to finish what needed to be accomplished.

Day 2

The looks started to come together on the second day, and Michael Westmore did his walk-through. He feels that overall, they’re doing a great job but his favorite concept is by the native-Floridian team of Alex and Wayne. They have the "Swamp" region and are creating a gator-inspired king. He is most concerned about Katie and House’s Arctic King due to the need to watch the colors and luminosity and Eric Z. and Autumn’s woody Jungle King.

The most drama on Day 2 came when Autumn had a melt-down because bald caps weren’t available and she had to make one from scratch. Luckily her teammate Eric is a cool dude. Eric F. also got nervous about the darkness of the skin pieces but it all worked out in the end and he realized that Jenna had the right idea.

Day 3

Application Day is always very stressful and hectic. They’re given four hours in the lab to apply the prosthetics to the models and then 1 hour for “last looks.” Troy’s volcano king creation definitely needed more time and he and Michael worried about the crown falling off.

Last Looks is one hour and when the finishing touches are added. Team Arctic (Katie and House) struggle with their creation’s mouth, Troy and Michael continued to struggle with their Volcano King, and Alex and Wayne don’t have enough time to paint their swampy Gator King.

Reveal

The three regular judges plus guest judge, John Rhys-Davies (Raiders of the Lost Ark, Lord of the Rings Trilogy) got to take a closer look at the final creations. Overall, they were impressed and Rhys-Davies deemed the work "extraordinary."

Alam and Kris’s labor-intensive Forest King, and Katie and House’s Arctic King (that looked a lot like the Winter Warlock from Santa Claus is Comin’ to Town) learned early on that they were safe.

The top looks were: Autumn and Eric’s Jungle King that displayed brilliant form and great choices in design; Eric F. and Jenna’s Desert King that had exceptional details with the cool Egyptian theme; and, Anthony and Meagan’s Mountain King that displayed great tonality and was organically accurate in the sculpturing.

The bottom looks were: Alex and Wayne’s Swamp King that needed a better paint job; and, Troy and Michael’s confusing Volcano King that looked more like a witch wearing a clown hat.

The winning team was Anthony and Meagan, with Anthony not only winning the Foundation Challenge, but also the Spotlight Challenge. The unfortunate contestant who got sent packing was Troy, due to his poor facial sculpt. He said his loss only has motivated him to do better.

So what do you think of this season’s contestants? Any front runners this early on?

Next week, the artists will be challenged to design their own original superhero and compete for the chance to have their creation featured in a DC Comics book. Guest judges are DC editors Jim Lee and Dan DiDio. Watch "Heroic Proportions" on Tuesday at 9 p.m. ET on Syfy.

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