donderdag 31 januari 2013

Today's News: Old Star Wars must make way for the new

Just posted this on MovieScene:

So the original planning to re-release both trilogies in 3D already was messy, quickly deviating from the one-film-a-year concept, but now because of J.J. 'Rape Trek' Abrams it's on hold indefinitely. In the case of Episodes II and III that's not a total disaster, though I was very curious as to just how much improvement Attack of the Clones showed over its lackluster 3D performance of its already poor predecessor. But it's a bitch to know the original trilogy won't hit the screens again for many years, in 3D or otherwise, in favor of Abrams' upcoming Episode VII. Granted, J.J. has been known to be an avid Star Wars fanboy (something he never claimed about Trek, which showed a little bit too obviously in 2009 for my taste), which showed in his abysmal Star Trek Episode I (it truly had everything its Star Wars counterpart featured, from an annoying alien sidekick meant for comic relief (and failing) to an overly digital 'there's always a bigger fish' scene taking chunks out of the FX budget over spending it on better writing). Big FX and grand spectacle are obviously what J.J. wants in his space operas, and Star Wars is historically the franchise that has done it best so the guy might be in the right place for once. If not, he'll destroy yet another much beloved Sci-Fi franchise and everyone will let him, standing by idly while I cry my eyes dry and beg for divine intervention (but I'm an atheist so such powers are not bestowed upon me). I had hoped his turn to the Dark Side would mean he'd leave Trek alone for now (or maybe even give it to somebody who actually cares!). Fat chance. He says he thinks he can manage both. Greedy bastard...

Oh well, no classic Star Wars in 3D. I'm sure it'll happen eventually down the road, but for now we'll have to make due with the home cinema and remember the 3D fail that was The Phantom Menace. At least that means Lucas won't secretly slip in some more pointless alterations to bug the legions of fanboys (it really was his only reason in the most recent case, blinking Ewoks and all).

woensdag 30 januari 2013

In Memoriam: Draco

Today is January 30. Exactly one year ago today, my beloved cat Draco was put to sleep because of an untreatable liver illness. She was only eight years old and spent most of that time in my company. It's safe to say she wouldn't want it any other way, since she had a hard time getting along with anybody else, be it cat or human, but me. This of course was the reason she moved in with me and we had a great, though in hindsight all too short, few years together before her health turned ill. After two months of increasing suffering, my mother eventually decided to end her misery while I was away. Unfortunately this meant I was not there at her end, a fact I will regret forever. I took her death pretty hard and will always be feeling sad at this particular date. However, Draco's demise led me to the creation of this blog to help me put my mind to other things than her absence. Death can apparently lead to constructive creativity.

Thanks for the fond memories, dear cat. And thanks for those four great sons of yours that continue to be a blast to hang around with, even though none of them live at my place.

woensdag 23 januari 2013

Today's News, and HFR

Posted this little bit of news on MovieScene the other day, so of course it was bound to appear here as well. Note: it got edited, and the glaring spelling error in Jim Carrey's name is not mine:

Kick-Ass 2

Yup, that's right: Jim Carrey is playing a character (named Colonel Stars and Stripes, an obvious reference to the renowned super-patriot Captain America) in Kick-Ass 2. And why not? He's no stranger to comicbook movies, having done Batman Forever and The Mask in the past. With such a track record, you can of course doubt he's a stranger to good comicbook movies, but for now I have full faith in Kick-Ass 2, considering all the old favorites (minus Nicolas Cage's character Big Daddy) are back with a vengeance. There's just little than can go wrong with this movie, which is still being based around a fairly simple premise: ordinary people take to the streets in silly costumes and beat up bad guys. Or so they think. It worked fine the last time around. Naturally there is the danger of the film feeling redundant due to repetition, or the presence of a new director (Jeff Wadlow) who has yet to fully prove his competence in the chair, but so far no really awkward news has reached my ears about this project (except maybe for Matthew Vaughn not returning as director, but at least he will still produce). Judging from this single picture (which is much too little to make a truly based judgment about the whole film) Kick-Ass 2 is simply continuing what Kick-Ass started, meaning we'll get more wacky characters in doubtful mental conditions fighting crime in overly outrageous and no doubt excessively violent manner. Plus more Hit Girl. What's not to like?!

I also, finally, got to see The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey in IMAX 3D HFR, now that the Christmas break has ended and there's finally some showings of the film that are not sold out. Of course I had already seen the movie in the regular 3D version - which I mentioned before was fucking awesome, an opinion I'll stick by - so I got to focus a bit more on the technology behind the film's projection than on the actual movie itself. I must say, HFR is not as bad as I feared it would be. I had already had a few sneak peeks through the projection booth's windows, at which point I was not wearing glasses so it looked absolutely hideous, due to the motion of the camera and characters which seemed cranked up a little too much, making it feel unnatural. As it turns out, HFR is indeed a tool in service of 3D projection. The image looks a lot more quieted down and smooth when wearing the necessary glasses, and it's indeed tremendously sharp to behold. There was only a handful of scenes, mostly concerning fast paced action or close-ups of characters's hands and objects, where you were made aware the film was indeed shot at 48 frames per second, and in those few instances it did indeed momentarily make the projection technology draw attention to itself: this had to be expected, since all the fuss about HFR should warrant the occasional feeling of a different viewing experience, positive or negative.

The sharpness of the imagery does make the job of the visual FX teams creating the movie's vast array of digital effects more difficult. Digital effects stand out more in 48fps, being exposed for the pixels they are. It was clear the FX teams worked overtimes to make their computer generated wizardry appear photorealistic, and for the most part, they succeeded. Gollum was the absolute highlight, looking about as real as he could ever hope to get and, also thanks to Andy Serkis' input of course, giving a totally compelling performance. That said, several shots of charging Wargs and vicious Goblins looked less convincing, but never truly bad. It's clear movies that will be shot in HFR better have the budget to make their VFX look good, since if they fail in this regard, lousy digital imagery will destroy the spectator's viewing experience by exposing the cinematic trickery for what it is.

The question now of course remains: where does HFR go from here? So far the reception of Peter Jackson's new preferred way of shooting a movie has been lukewarm in Hollywood. Which is not surprising, since basically HFR at this point is a gimmick in a gimmick: it looks good in 3D, but has yet to prove visually pleasing in the regular 2D-format, which is still (fortunately) the dominant way of film projection. Though James Cameron has expressed interest in the technology, it'll be years before we see HFR applied to other movies than the upcoming pair of Hobbit sequels. And if the recent evolution of the current 3D-format is any indication, greedy producers hoping to cash in on the phenomenon's hype will quickly apply a cheaper type of HFR to things like low budget horror movies, all too easily satiating the market and ruining HFR's name in the process by not convincing the audience of the need for the format. It can of course be argued there is no particular need for HFR at all. After all, the regular 3D version of The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey already was fully engaging as a marvelously pleasing visual presentation, and few audience members complained about image blurring during action sequences. Mostly, viewers were too busy focusing on the movie itself, the story, the characters, the things that still remain, and for that matter will always remain, the most important ingredients for making a good film. At least Peter Jackson still understood that part of moviemaking too.

zondag 20 januari 2013

Oscars 2013: Where's Jagten and what's with the love for Amour?

Still being a worm in my mother's Apple. Hopefully this ghastly situation won't last much longer and I can finally go about making good on my noble intentions for the year and update my blog like three times a week instead of three times a month. Still not happening though, but at least I'm now taking the time to have a go at the Oscar nominees, before the Academy Awards for 2012 have happened.

Ah, the Oscars. That awful Academy Award ceremony where a bunch of feeble-minded rigid  Hollywood conservatives decide what movies of the year are the best, after which the rest of us movie buffs all just have to live with their at times nonsensical, but equally often utterly predictable choices. There's a lot of good movies competing this year, but there's also a few illogical nominations going around: someone please explain to me why a non-English spoken movie like Amour is up for no less than five (!) awards. Like last year, here are my own thoughts as to which movies will win what award, with a back-up choice for each category.

-Best Picture: Zero Dark Thirty. Despite its controversy, Kathryn Bigelow remains a favorite at the Oscars. Being similar in nature to The Hurt Locker, which also won Best Picture, this is a likely choice.
-Second choice: Amour. There's much ado about this movie, it might as well be the first fully French spoken movie to run away with Best Picture.

-Best Actor: Joaquin Phoenix for The Master.
-Second choice: Daniel Day-Lewis for Lincoln. It's D. D.-L., he wins every time. Why should this time be any different?

-Best Actress: Emanuelle Riva for Amour. Very demanding role, played completely believable and totally compelling.
-Second choice: Jessica Chastain for Zero Dark Thirty.

-Best Supporting Actor: Philip Seymour Hoffman for The Master. After all, he's The Master.
-Second choice: Tommy Lee Jones for Lincoln.

-Best Supporting Actress: Anne Hathaway for Les Miserables. She can act, she can sing, she can starve herself to appear for real. So she can win.
-Second choice: Amy Adams for The Master.

-Best Director: Michael Haneke for Amour.
-Second choice: David O. Russell for Silver Linings Playbook.

-Best Screenplay: Zero Dark Thirty.
-Second choice: Moonrise Kingdom.

-Best Adapted Screenplay: Argo.
-Second choice: Silver Linings Playbook.

-Best Cinematography: Life of Pi. Shows you just how much you can do with a boy, a tiger, a boat and a camera. In 3D no less.
-Second choice: Django Unchained.

-Best Costume Design: Anna Karenina. Keira Knightley + Costumes = Oscar. Wouldn't be the first time.
-Second choice: Lincoln.

-Best Sound Mixing: Lincoln.
-Second choice: Les Miserables.

-Best Editing: Zero Dark Thirty.
-Second Choice: Life of Pi.

-Best Sound Editing: Django Unchained.
-Second choice: Skyfall.

-Best Visual Effects: The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey.
-Second choice: The Avengers.

-Best Makeup: The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey.
-Second choice: Hitchcock.

-Best Original Song: Skyfall. Really catchy. I reckon the guys at the Oscars can't get it out of their heads either. So let's face it all together. At Skyfaaa-hahahall.
-Second choice: Les Miserables.

-Best Music: Lincoln.
-Second Choice: Life of Pi.

-Best Foreign Film: Amour. Foreign, but still a lot of love for this one so also might win Best Picture. Typical insane Hollywood hypocrisy.
-Second choice: En Kongelig Affaere. Mads Mikkelsen is in this. Speaking of which, where is Jagten in all this?! Shenanigans says I!

-Best Animated Feature: Frankenweenie. Lousy year for computer animated films, but excellent for stop motion, and this one was the best.
-Second choice: The Pirates! Band of Misfits. Frankenweenie was the best, but this one was the most fun. Pirate Award here, please!

-Best Production Design: The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey. Middle-Earth still looks spectacular. The opening scene alone, delving deeply into Dwarf history, was Oscar-worthy.
-Second choice: Lincoln.

I'm confident I got at least ten of these right. Time will tell. Hopefully my PC will be back to normal by the time the Oscars are handed out so I can report on my triumph/failure in predicting these sodding prices everybody is always so full about but nobody could really care less for.

zaterdag 12 januari 2013

Ooh, aah, that's how it always starts...

...then later nothing happens. Unfortunately my PC is still out of order for at least another week (screw you, Microsoft!), so all my noble intentions towards updating this blog (almost) every day have turned to naught so far. However, today big news - or something like it - hit the Internet and I just had to post it on MovieScene since it's right up my alley (and nobody else had done it yet). And if I post something on MovieScene, I just have to post it here too:

So it seems Jurassic Park IV is finally going to happen, after over a decade of fruitless tidbits of news, idle speculation and many a misleading message from Mr. Spielberg or one of his producer lackeys regarding the status of the project, which they claimed was gonna happen, after which nothing happened at all for another year until they claimed the same thing all over again just to keep all the fans' hopes up. However, this time a release date has been set - June 13 of 2014, only 5 days before my birthday - and in Hollywood, a release date is very definitive. If you don't make a date, your career is either just over or you're powerful enough to defy Hollywood itself (Spielberg falls into the latter category, but so far he has adhered to set release dates). Plus, the studio claims the movie will be shot (not just released, but actually made) in 3D, indicating just how much faith the studio has in the project (and in the upcoming 3D re-release of the original Jurassic Park, which is also good to know) and therefore in its new deadline. So for all intents and purposes, it seems JP IV is finally our of pre-production hell and gearing up full steam. It better be, since June 2014 isn't that far off, so time is limited. It seems the script, the one thing that has kept the project from happening for so long, is finally done, courtesy of the duo behind the script of the surprisingly good Rise of the Planet of the Apes, also drenched with scenes of genetic tampering on animals to the detriment of humanity, so at least these people, Rick Jaffa and Amanda Silver, are likely to understand the JP mythos. Let's hope they kept the proposed human/dinosaur hybrids out of the loop, there's still plenty of real dinosaurs waiting for their big-screen break. Micropachycephalosaurus, anyone?

So this exciting bit of news I managed to post at least. However, there's still so much I can't explore on this blog no matter how much I would want to. Saw Amour and Life of Pi this week, as always I have an opinion about the Oscar nominees and I have yet to review The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey in detail. Suffice to say for now it's fucking awesome and the lack of a computer at least allows me ample time to build this plastic gem:

dinsdag 1 januari 2013

Review - Silent Hill: Revelation 3D

Happy New Year everybody!

Still offline unfortunately. My own computer continues to undergo attempts at repair (or so I hope) at the store where I bought it from, a process that isn't going as smoothly as it might have gone because of the interruptions caused by the Holidays. Hopefully I'll be able to pick it up tomorrow so I can return to update my blog as often as it ought to be updated, instead of by the low frequency of late. Of course, I haven't fully idled my time away (though that is one of the reasons we have holidays, if I understand correctly) and I managed to be present at yet another press screening, particularly of the horror flick Silent Hill: Revelation 3D, my (not all too positive) thoughts on which can be found here:

Hope to be back soon. After all, the excellent (in terms of movies) year 2012 has made way for 2013, which also looks to witness its fair share of good - and not so good - films over which I hope to share my feelings. Plus, there's all the usual year-gone-by backlash, as we can finally settle the score on which 2012 movies rocked abs and which sucked ass. There's plenty of both as we have seen, and I hope to be able to discuss it all in the not too distant future. If technology will allow me...