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“Inception”
a review by Darby O’Gill

Okay, I’m going to do the best I can to write a review for Inception. But, I don’t want to give anything away, or even talk about the events in the movie for that matter. So, if any of you know how I can possibly achieve this, please feel free to email me. Okay, I’m also realizing that writing this, and waiting for you to email me is probably not going to work either, so… Well, shit.

Here’s the gist of it, Dom Cobb (Leonardo DiCaprio) is a well trained thief, but his methods are anything but ordinary. With access to a person’s dreams, Cobb and his team perform an extraction, which is the art of stealing a secret from deep within the dreamer’s subconscious while the mind is at its most vulnerable state. But now, Cobb’s team is faced with the impossible act of inception, which the planting of an idea in the dreamer’s subconscious. Inception is the welcomed return of writer/director Christopher Nolan’s art house approach to filmmaking. His early work of Following and Memento, paved the way for Batman Begins and The Dark Knight, but with Inception he take the audience back to that place where not everything is what it seems to be. It has been awhile since a film has given up its control of meaning to the audience. Much like the last scene in Blade Runner, the last scene of Inception is very much up to the viewer’s perception. This would be another reason why reviewing it would not be as easy as one might think. I have my theories, and know what the movie means to me, but at the same time don’t want to let them get in the way of your own interpretation of the movie, especially if you haven’t seen it yet. I will tell you this; it is one of the smartest and most visually amazing films of the year. The zero gravity fight scene is to die for! And, when you find out that most of it is done without the use of CGI… Well, what can I say? Wow! This one is a must see, and all I can say is that I really enjoyed it. It’s a little long, but doesn’t feel too long, and it will most definitely give you plenty to talk about on the drive home. If you would like to talk about Inception in more detail, or want to hear my theories, leave a comment and we’ll discuss it there. If you haven’t seen the movie yet, please know that below this review will be nothing but SPOILERS, so you’ve been warned.

Rating:



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“Clash of the Titans”
a review by Darby O’Gill

Someone please put back the Kraken! I don’t know about you, but I’m just about over the whole Hollywood re-make thing. I haven’t seen the original Clash of the Titans film in years; but I also didn’t want to watch it before seeing this new version, because I was afraid it would jade me. I was hoping I would be able to enjoy the new one a little bit more that way. Now that I’ve seen the new version of Clash of the Titans, I think I need to see the original movie I loved as a kid, and just hope that it’s enough to redeem itself for me. It’s not that the new movie is bad, as much as it’s not good. It felt like the pace of the movie was off. The score also didn’t really seem to fit at times; and if I didn’t know any better, I would have said it was temporary music. The score should have been epic and grand, but it was nowhere near that level. The one thing that really didn’t work, or make any sense for that matter, was the film’s use of the 3-D. There was absolutely no reason for this movie to be made in 3-D. If I had paid top dollar to see this movie in 3-D, I would have been so pissed! I realize that this contradicts what I’ve said before about the use of the 3-D format in modern films, but Clash of the Titans doesn’t even try to make it worth the audience’s time. I love that they didn’t poke things at the camera; but at the same time the movie also didn’t have that sense of depth, which makes me think they just wanted the extra six bucks a ticket. People really should complain and ask for their ticket difference back if they paid to see it in 3-D and not 2-D.

In Clash of the Titans, man has waged war on the Gods, which forces Zeus, played by Liam Neeson, to enlist the help of his fallen brother, Hades, played by Ralph Fiennes, to once again instill the fear of the Gods into the human race. In hopes of helping to stop Hades’ destruction of the city of Argos, a demigod called Perseus, played by Sam Worthington, chooses to join the fight, and embarks on an epic journey to stop him. The biggest problem here is that there’s just too much going on. But at the same time, the audience doesn’t seem to be overly involved. At no point do you care enough about Perseus to emerge yourself in his journey, which I don’t remember being the case in the original. Maybe I’m just becoming that old man that says, “In my day…” but I honestly don’t think that is the case. I think this movie just missed its mark somehow, and that the classic will remain just that.

Rating:


“The Wolfman”
a review by Darby O’Gill

Well, it’s only February and I think we already have a front runner for next year’s Death Coach Award. The Wolfman is a remake of the 1941, Lon Chaey Jr. original classic The Wolf Man, only this version will never be able to stand the test of time. Universal Studios keeps trying to remake their classic monster films with all the new technology of modern filmmaking, but they never seem to be able to get it quite right. I think their biggest mistake is trying to mix this grand Jayne Austin type of setting, with a classic horror story. They think it highlights the romantic undertones of the monster movie’s original classic story, but all it really does is set-up the movie for failure. I understand that these films are based on classic literature, but they’re also the original horror films, and should be treated as such. Just once, I would love to see how one of these classic monster movies would look if they had used a Friday the 13th approach to the filmmaking. I wouldn’t want them to be hokey. I just would like to see a monster movie try and be scary for once. You don’t have to lose the romance or Victorian setting, just focus more on the monster. The original movies were scary for their time. And in this day and age, it does take more to scare us, but that doesn’t mean you can’t try to make one of these classic tales scary. The studios should save their money, by not casting Oscar Award winning actors, or not overly focusing on the film’s cinematography, and just try to make a scary movie that will do its predecessor proud for once. I want to see someone like Rob Zombie remake one of these films. Hollywood can’t seem to wait to remake the modern classic horror films like A Nightmare on Elm Street, Halloween, or the Friday the 13th franchisees, and those usually turnout to be really good remakes. But for some reason, when it comes to the true classics, it never seems to cross their minds to have someone like John Carpenter remake The Wolf Man. Why is that?

Okay, so I guess at this point you can tell I didn’t really enjoy The Wolfman. Actually, I hated it! This movie was so long winded, and pretentious, that it couldn’t even die right. I’m not kidding. There is a death scene in this movie that is so laughable, that if you do go to see this in the theatres, you’ll be truly surrounded by the audience’s laughter during the scene. The other thing that totally drove me crazy was waiting for the Wolfman to start playing basketball, or maybe even try to get a keg of beer. Look, I give the filmmakers credit for not making the Wolfman a giant wolf, and trying to keep the classic Lon Chaney Jr. man-wolf look, but the last time we, as film goers, saw this type of werewolf was when Michael J. Fox was in Teen Wolf. I realize that making this type of werewolf work in this day and age is hard, but that was their job on this film, making it work. And, if they couldn’t make it work, then they shouldn’t make the movie! At no point during this movie, should I be thinking about Michael J. Fox and his keg of beer, but I did. Quite a bit actually, and I’m sorry but that ruins the scariness of this movie right there. That’s not to say that they couldn’t have made it work. Rick Baker did an outstanding job on the make-up of the Wolfman, as always. But, they just didn’t utilize how scary they could make this movie. If the Wolfman had been jumping out of the shadows and mutilating people more, I might have found myself a little bit more immersed in this film. Instead, I just found myself waiting for a big choreographed prom dance at the end of the film. Do yourself a favor, and skip it. Rent Lon Chaney Jr.’s The Wolf Man. Or if you haven’t seen it, and that would be a huge crime, get An American Werewolf in London. Hell, I would even suggest watching one of my all-time favorites, Monster Squad before this one, because this version of the Wolfman definitely has no nards!

Rating:


“Avatar”
a review by Darby O’Gill

Okay, so I finally got around to seeing Avatar. Ah, well… It was definitely… I think… You know what? Let’s come back to that. Avatar is the story of human beings doing what they do best, taking what they want. It’s the year 2154 and groups of people from Earth have traveled to the distant planet of Pandora to harvest a rare mineral called Unobtanium. Don’t worry. We’ll come back to that too. The only thing standing in the way of our obtaining the Unobtanium (God, even I want to punch me in the face.) is the natives of Pandora, called the Na’vi. They’re basically giant blue cat-monkeys. Sorry if anyone thinks that’s racist. I don’t want to aggravate you’re Pandora Blues Syndrome. We’ll get back to that as well. So, before the conflict started getting out of hand, the humans tried to negotiate with the Na’vi, by using Avatars. An Avatar is a bioengineered life form that is a mix of Na’vi DNA and the human controller’s DNA. It’s like virtual reality, but you’re not in a simulated computer system. Instead, your consciousness is uploaded into the Avatar body in the real world. When Jake Sully, a paraplegic war veteran, played by Sam Worthington, who’s twin brother is killed, the opportunity presents itself for Jake to step into his shoes… Well, metaphorically. Jake’s brother was set to work on the Avatar program, and since his DNA make-up matches that of his twin brother’s, Jake is able to operate his brother’s Avatar. Once in the Avatar program, Jake is met with the promise of getting his real legs back, if he would be willing to spy on the Na’vi for Colonel Miles Quaritch, played by Stephen Lang, and provide him with some inside information from behind the enemy lines. However, once on the inside, Jake finds himself questioning his loyalties, and will soon need to choose a side.

Well, okay. I guess I’ve got a few things to get back to here. First, it took James Cameron twelve years to make this movie, and I really find it hard to believe that in twelve years he couldn’t come up with something better than Unobtanium. I mean what the fuck! Are you kidding me?! You could have called it Shitanium, and even that would have been better than Unobtanium. James Cameron you’re better than that. I do have one request though James. Please do not pull a George Lucas, and make a new Terminator series that claims the Terminator’s exoskeleton is actually made of Unobtanium. That would be even more unforgivable than Titanic, which brings us to our next callback point, the Pandora Blues Syndrome. People are claiming to find themselves dealing with depression symptoms after seeing the film, because Pandora is not a real place. I’m not even going to touch that. Let’s move on.

I didn’t really care for this movie. Let me clarify, I didn’t find myself getting emerged in this world at all. When you see a movie like this, like Jurassic Park or Harry Potter, I think it’s really important to care about the world the film is trying to sell you on. At no point during Avatar, did I find myself immersed or excited to be experiencing this world, and in 3-D no less. Don’t get me wrong, the world of Pandora in Avatar is well imagined, but there’s just something missing that I can’t put my finger on. Once again, I have to point out that this movie took twelve years to make! In this day and age, I think we are just not as easily impressed with ground breaking effects these days. In the last decade, we’ve seen so many amazing leaps in special effects, and it’s hard to see what took twelve years to achieve in this film. It’s the kind of thing where you really need to see the behind the scenes footage to fully appreciate what they’ve done.

With that said, let’s talk about the story. Did you ever see Dances with Wolves? Great! So, we’ve talked about the story. I’m not kidding; this is Dances with Wolves in space. I understand that every story has been told before, but come on! It’s really hard to enjoy a movie when you don’t care about the world you are in, and you know every twist and turn of the story, because you’ve heard it before. Avatar is so not the best picture of the year! I can’t believe it won the Golden Globe for Best Picture Drama. It shouldn’t even be in that category. It’s more of an animated film than anything else. I would say 80% of it is CGI generated. With all that said, I think it’s an okay movie. At no point did I want to stop watching it, I just wished I could have enjoyed it more.

Rating:


“G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra”
a review by Darby O’Gill

Honestly! Not one, but two of my favorite childhood memories are raped right before my eyes, and all in the same summer! Really!? REALLY!? Fuck you, Hasbro! I mean, what’s next? A He-Man movie? What’s that? Hang on a second. They did? When? Really, with Courtney Cox? Oh, come on! Dolph Lundgren played He-Man! Oh, fuck you too, Hollywood! What did I ever do to you!? Other than give you all my money and go see all of your craptasic movies. I can’t… I just can’t. I didn’t even want to see it, and yet here we are. Some part of me thought it might be fun to go see it just to laugh at it, like a bad B-movie, but you can’t even do that. It really is just bad news. I’m sorry; I can’t even put it into words. You would never believe me. How did they ever get Dennis Quaid to agree to be in this movie? Okay, enough of this let’s just get to it.

I don’t know when, but at some point Hollywood thought action sequences would be so much better if they just filmed them as close as the camera could get to the action. It’s crazy. They spend all this time and money setting up action sequences and then you can’t even see what’s happening. This movie will seriously hurt your brain if you try and think about it too hard, but here are some examples that I hope don’t hurt your head too much. The Joe’s, who are real American heroes, seem to not really care much about public safety. They’re killing every agent of Cobra they come across, and at no time try to minimize the amount of damage they are causing to the public. Now here’s the part that is really going to hurt your head. Cobra’s big bad master weapon is designed to destroy metal… That’s it. It doesn’t kill anyone, it just destroys metal. Not so mind blowing? Well how about if I told you that Cobra, not the Joe’s, use pulse pistols that are non-lethal weapons. Isn’t that the kind of weapon you would give the hero?

How about at the end of the movie…  Don’t worry, I’m not about to give anything away, not that any of you should ever want to see this movie. But, at the end of the film, the Joe’s are battling Cobra at their under water base in the Artic, and detonate the ice thousands of feet above the base to crash down and destroy it. Let me say that again. They blow up the ice above the underwater base to come crashing down. Even a 2 year old can tell you that ice floats. Actually, the ice was already floating over it to begin with, wasn’t it?

Now in a movie like this, the one thing you would think you could count on is top of the line special effects, because that’s all they ever really focus on.  But, the effects in this movie are so bad they look as if they were done on a Commodore 64. Okay look, I’ve got to stop. I’ve already wasted more than enough of my life on this movie. Let’s see if I can say at least one good thing… Sienna Miller looks amazing as the Baroness. However, I did keep finding myself thinking of Olivia Munn’s Baroness from G4’s Attack of the Show. Olivia would have at least tried to have had a Russian accent. Okay, so I can’t say anything good. Let’s just rate this turd. Once again there is no lower rating I can give this, but I would if I could. Believe it or not, this was even worse than Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen. I know! How is that even possible?!

Rating:

0.5 Little People



Tokyo!
a review by Darby O’Gill

In the spirit of Four Rooms and Paris, Je T’aime comes Tokyo! a collection of three short films about Tokyo, as told by three visionary directors, Michel Gondry, Leos Carax, and Bong Joon-Ho. We’re going to take a look at the three films individually, and then rate the project as a whole.

First we have “Interior Design” by New York based French director Michel Gondry. Gondry based his short on a graphic novel by Gabrielle Bell, called “Cecil and Jordan in New York.” In Gondry’s version, it’s the story of a young couple moving to Tokyo, and crashing at a friend’s flat as they look for one of their own. Hiroko, played by Ayako Fujitani, was the more together of the couple, but seems to find herself being the less than useful one in Tokyo. As days turn into weeks, Hiroko finds herself more and more out of place. Until one day a strange event leads her to find her place in the world. All the stories in this collection are that of surrealism, but Gondry’s is definitely the most surreal. Wonderfully shot, and with an amazing special effect shot you would only come to expect from Michel Gondry.

Next we have “Merde” by French director Leos Carax. Now I have to say this one surprised me. Not the short itself, but the fact that it wasn’t directed by Bong Joon-Ho. I honestly watched this entire short thinking it was Joon-Ho, and even thought I was seeing signs of his film style throughout. Wow. It’s not Bong Joon-Ho, but it is Leos Carax’s short, and quite simply the best of the collection. It’s the story of a “creature,” or more like a homeless full grown leprechaun, that crawls out of the sewers and wreaks havoc on the streets of Tokyo. A frightened Tokyo reports various sightings of the creature on the news and even holds a bizarre trial for the creature. I mean, you can see why I thought it was Joon-Ho: a creature that lives in the sewer, has a smoky white eye, spreads horror across Tokyo via newscasts, and is a plot heavily laced with offbeat humor. This short is fantastic! The cinematography is amazing and the performance of Denis Lavant as the creature is purely stellar. “Merde” is anything but shit. I would love to see more of this story some day.

And now, sadly, we have to talk about the last short in this collection, “Shaking Tokyo,” by South Korean director Bong Joon-Ho. I honestly have to say, that I was really looking forward to this director’s piece. The Host was an amazing film that I’m so glad I heard about in time to be able to see it when it opened in theatres, and was more than excited to see something new from its director Bong Joon-Ho. I just wish it was “Merde” and not “Shaking Tokyo.” The story in “Shaking Tokyo,” is that of a man that is a shut-in that has shut himself out of the outside world for the last ten years, but it’s in the eleventh year that his world crashes down around him. I’ve got to say this story is really weak. It wants to be grand; but it’s a short, and doesn’t have the time to take its time. It also keeps the viewer in the dark, which is the case in all three of these stories. But, in “Shaking Tokyo” it keeps you in the dark, and never really lets you know what the hell is going on. Joon-Ho has an amazing sense of the characters in his films, and this is no different. His characters don’t have to say a word, and yet just looking at them through his lens seems to speak a thousand words. I only wish the story had more time, to make it worth telling. It’s just sad that the movie has to end its collection with this short. It might have been better off in the middle of the film.

Rating:

3.5 Little People


DVD Special Features:

  • Making of “Interior Design”
  • Making of “Merde”
  • Making of “Shaking Tokyo”
  • Director Interviews
  • Photo Gallery
  • Trailer

The “Making of” featurettes are outstanding! No, truly. They’re even longer than the short films themselves. Each one gives you an amazing look into the very distinct directing style of each visionary director. Gondry likes to keep the film rolling. By doing so he feels it doesn’t let the actors get out of the moment. It’s quite ingenious really, because when a film crew cuts, they stop down for a good ten or twenty minutes. Hair and make-up step in, the lighting team checks lights, and actors stop being their characters. This concept is new to the “Tokyo!” actors working on “Interior Design,” and it takes a little while to warm-up to the idea of not cutting at the end of a take. Also, during the behind the scenes interview with Ayumi Ito, it sounds like someone’s having sex in the background, but it’s just the interviewer. It took me a few minutes to figure out. She should just quietly listen to what the actors have to say.

When it comes to Leos Carax, I was amazed to find out that he shot the first street scene at least, without a permit and in a total gorilla filmmaking style. In his “Making of,” we watch the cast and crew rehearse, step by step, the pacing of the scene off site. It’s truly filmmaking at its best. Also, watching Carax and Lavant develop the character of the creature is fantastic. Which brings us once again to Bong Joon-Ho, but this time it’s good news. His “Making of” finally let us in on what he was trying to say. I think the real downfall of his short is that he’s not the type of director that can be rushed or given a time restraint. I’ve never seen a director pay more attention to the timing of a shot and his actors, almost to a fault. But it’s clear that is what makes his filmmaking so unique. Sadly, this project just doesn’t lend itself to that style of filmmaking. The one saving grace is that in the “Director Interviews,” it seemed clear, to me that is, that even Joon-Ho wasn’t pleased with the outcome of his short. Seeing him talk about what he was trying to do in the short definitely helps you see the short in a different light; but it still doesn’t change the fact that it doesn’t work.

DVD Special Feature Rating:

4 Little People



The wait is over! Well almost. Shout! Factory has announced an October 6th, 2009 release date for “Werewolf” the complete series on DVD. I never thought this day would come! I can finally throw out those crappy bootlegs. For those of you that have no idea what I’m talking about, “Werewolf” was one of Fox‘s first original TV shows. The 1987 TV show about werewolves changed everything I ever thought about television. When I was a kid this show scared the shit out of me and I loved it. The special effects were done by non-other than the master of make-up himself, Rick Baker. Look for the DVD review in October, but if you’re like me, you’re going to reserve a copy now.

 

 

Now lets see what we can do about getting Savage Steve Holland‘s “The New Adventures of Beans Baxter” on DVD.

 

 

Oh, and one more side note, that Matthew Perry show “Second Chance“, stopped me from stealing a soda from a pizza shop. True story.