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Thursday, July 31, 2008

The Little Mermaid 3: Ariel's Beginning



The Little Mermaid 3: Ariel's Beginning tells the tail of Ariel the mermaid growing up under the sea in a prequel set years before 'The Little Mermaid'. From what I can tell from the trailer, it is the uber-dramatic tale of Ariel living in a world of other mer-people, when her mother is kidnapped by humans (maybe Prince Eric) and since she enjoyed singing so much, King Triton decides to make all music illegal in the land, kind of like the musical Footloose (Kevin Costner). Little by little all the kids, especially Ariel, Sebastian, and her fish friend Flounder get together to restore music to the community.
The Little Mermaid - Ariel's Beginning

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Lets Talk About Motion Capture



Lets talk about motion capture animation for a minute. I remember beating 'Legend of Zelda: The Ocarina of Time" and seeing credits for the motion capture team. I was amazed that people could capture motion and translate it digitally, and now as video game and film technology progresses, it is amazing to see all the things that can be done with motion capture animation.

Animation has always been a form of motion capture. Great animators from all over the world, Including Walt Disney Studios, hire actors and performers to come preform many actions live in a studio, so they can 'capture' the motion with their eyes and translate it to hand-drawn animation correctly. Many animated movies, especially those from Don Bluth studio, rotoscope which is a form of Motion Capture, where an action is filmed, and literally traced over with a pencil to become the finished animation. Rotoscoping is often frowned upon in most creative circles, because it is seen that the artist is not good enough to do the animation him/herself. PIXARr uses no motion capture (as told humorously in the end credits of Ratatouille)




Rotoscoping turned 3d is called motion capture. It is taking the action that is recorded and using it to become your final project. Using light reflections and an infrared camera, actors movements are recorded and translated into animation. Robert Zemekis is a large supporter of this, creating such fully mo-cap movies such as "Polar Express" and "Beowulf". Often time, people ask why the movies were not made with real actors in live action, but Mo-cap offers things that are impossible in real life, such as sweeping cameras and closeups in fights, and magical characters, such as Gollum (Andy Serkis) in Lord of the Rings, and Grawp in Harry Potter 5.



What are your opinions on Motion Capture? I think that in live action films it is amazing for effects and makes stunts safer for everyone, but stunt people are against it saying that they are being put out of jobs. What are your opinions? More on this to follow.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Upcoming Movie: Judd Apatow's "Funny People"




Judd Apatow is back in the directorial chair with his upcoming, self written, comedy "Funny People". The film chronicles the lives of a few stand up comedians trying to make it big, and one comedian who has a near death experience somewhere along the way. They say it will have more drama than other Apatow creations, so that should be thoroughly interesting.

Most of the cast has been announced so far. It stars Seth Rogen and Adam Sandler, but also will feature Leslie Mann, Jonah Hill, Jason Schwartzman, and.... Eric Bana (who used to do stand-up himself).

We can probably expect appearances from all the other Apatow regulars, it will be interesting, but it seems to be genuine Apatow, which will be nice to see, since everyone loved "40 Year Old Virgin" and "Knocked Up". Lets see where it goes. More on this film soon.

Monday, July 28, 2008

PIXAR's UP



Pixar's next movie is called UP. It is about a little old man named Carl, who covers his house with balloons and flies away to South America to go on the adventures he wished he had went on with his wife when she was still alive. He meets up with a little wilderness scout and together they journey the land doing all sorts of fantastical things.



Disney's BOLT



BOLT

Bolt is the next animated feature from Walt Disney Animation studios, and is set for release this November. After a Q&A with the Directors, and being shown 20 minutes of footage, I am ready to give a preliminary report of this film.

It is well known that this film has been going through crazy 'Development Hell'. It was conceived by Chris Sanders (The creator/director of "Lilo and Stitch", and was shuffled around when Pixar's John Lasseter took over the studio. Now Sanders is over at Dreamworks, and Bolt is being helmed by Byron Howard and Chris Williams.

The film tells the story of a movie star dog and his friends as they try to get across the country from New York to Hollywood, with the dog, Bolt, thinking he actually possesses the superpowers that he uses onscreen. Slowly he learns he does not have powers, and learns who he really is.

For the visual style of this movie, Disney has 10 patents pending on a software that allows them to have what seems like had painted brush strokes on all the sets and locations, making the whole movie seem more handcrafted and stylish. The style is a nice noticeable change, and is probably the same software used in Tarzan's tree surfing sequences, and will probably be expanded again for Glen Keane's Rapunel due to hit theaters in 2010.

Look forward to this, it may not be what many people expected, but will be a nice movie, and probably very enjoyable none-the-less. Also, the primary voices are done by Miley Cyrus and John Travolta, so it can be expected to be a major hit.



TERMINATOR: SALVATION



TERMINATOR SALVATION

Director McG as well as Moon Bloodgood, Sam Worthington, Bryce Dallas Howard, and Common took the stage to discuss "Terminator: Salvation", the next in the Terminator Franchise, starring Christian Bale as John Connor. It is interesting because this film is a reboot, a prequel, and a sequel. Set after Judgement Day, this film will show the world that the other three movies have only hinted at. Swarzenegger will not appear, since his model of the T-800 has not been built at this time, but McG hinted that when the time comes to show the T-800, the character will not be recast.

It is not clear if the film will have a new Terminator as the villain, or if the villain will be a human, but it was noted that this is the time of the crummy latex skin terminators, so we can expect a few of those, also many other machines that have been created to kill the humans before Skynet has fully established itself.

A three minute trailer was shown and it looks simply fantastic. Plenty of action, and a very good representation of the world that Terminators have expected to see. James Cameron was consulted along the whole process, and all the models were built by Stan Winston studios before Stan died, so it should be just what we are looking for.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Comic-Con 2008



I AM BACK FROM COMIC-CON. PREPARE TO BE INFORMED.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Review: STEP BROTHERS



Lets begin with these delightful posters. They are all over the malls and such, and when they come on, you think that it is a picture, until they begin to move at least. I think this is a very creative form of advertising, and could be used to even more potential in the future. Whoever thought of those posters is genius.

Now... on to the movie.

(Spoilers May Occur in This Paragraph)
Step Brothers is a hilarious comedy about a two 40 year old live at home losers, Dale (John C. Riley [ Chicago, Walk hard: The Dewey Cox Story]) and Brennan (Will Ferrell [ Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy], The Producers]), who are made stepbrothers once their parents marry on a whim. They meet each other for the first time after the wedding, and in instantly turns into a battle for who can hate each other more. Eventually they must reconcile (as all movies have) in order to save the day before it is too late.... as well as find jobs... and maybe find some women too.

Its not too easy for them to coast through life when they are constantly being surprised by Brennan's younger and much more successful brother, Derek (Adam Scott [Knocked Up]), who is so driven to succeed, you will think you are watching Greg Kinnear in 'Little Mrs. Sunshine'... if Kinnear took some speed and steroids first.

Produced by Judd Apatow, Directed by Adam Mckay, and Written by Adam Mckay, Will Ferrell, and John C. Riley, Step Brothers certainly succeeds, and all its jokes hit right on the mark. I think this is one of their funniest comedies to date. Each performance is memorable, and leaves you wanting more.

As the two parents, Mary Steenburgen and Richard Jenkins are a good match. Mary tries to have a say but is easily put down by Richard, making seemingly realistic family dynamics. The only thing I could never get is how Brennan and Dale never met before they got married. Kind of large plot hole. The relationship is unstable, story-wise, and could have used a mere 3 minute extra scene to sort it all out. Maybe it is explained on the DVD.

Adam Scott ( Knocked Up) and Kathryn Hahn (Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy) make the perfect ultimately dysfunctional couple. They are so dysfunctional, in fact, I would never be able to figure out how they got together in the first place. I want to tell you more about the characters, but I think that it would spoil some of the fun. Trust me though, they have fantastic comedic timing, and every scene they are in is worth the watch.

Seth Rogen ( Knocked Up, Pineapple Express) and Ken Jeong (Knocked Up, Pineapple Express) both appear in the film, in some slightly random "blink and you will miss them" roles. It is nice to see them on screen, but it is a shame that they did not get to put their comedy skills to use, especially with how funny the two of them are. Perhaps there will be some nice deleted scenes with them, being trademark funny. That would be cool.

While everyone knows and loves Will Ferrell - John C. Riley may be one of the greatest big time comedy players who gets the least recognition. I urge everyone to see his performances in Walk Hard, and Talladega Nights, (and his other films), because each is more priceless than the next, including this one as one of the tops. Will Ferrell is his trademark character... and after seeing him play such a similar character in so many films, one begins to wonder... is he even acting... or is this just how he really is? I don't mean that in a bad way though, because if he really is like his characters, he must be the most fun person to hang out with... ever.

STEP BROTHERS hits theaters next Friday!




Ps.
Freaks and Geeks fans will like the use of the shows font in the opening titles. Its a nice touch.
2 stars

Friday, July 11, 2008

Review: MEET DAVE



Meet Dave is a decent film at best. Ed Helms plays a villain that is not too captivating, and the jokes on his name being #2 were used up back when austin powers still was a 'new thing'. Elizabeth banks is beautiful as always as the mom of the kid who Dave spends his time around, but her character is hardly developed. Same goes for everyone else. Pretty much, the only two developed characters in the entire film are #3 (Gabrielle Union) and The Captain (Eddie Murphy). They have nice character arcs in a film that teaches you that, when everyone treats you like trash under their shoe, you will develop and learn to be human.... when you are in fact from outer-space.

The story relies far too much on sympathy for cute children, and for a Sci-fi comedy... the director, Brian Robbins, did not quite nail the film, ironically he did quite nicely for one of his recent films "The Shaggy Dog", which is always good for a laugh.

What makes the movie good is Eddie Murphy. He is easily one of this generations best character actors. He can contort his body and muscles in a way that one could never imagine. His comic timing is brilliant and almost every line or action he makes delivers a solid laugh. Shame the rest of the movie couldn't preform as well as he did.

"...and now I must disappear into the night!"



Ps. Eddies next movie is also about people who are really small. Keep an eye out for "The Incredible Shrinking Man"... coming to a theater eventually!

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Film Review: WALL-E



This review will be short because of the fact that there are not all to many actors to critique. Lets start with the fact that the robots don't talk very much, and when they do it works well and is not obnoxious. Jeff Garlin does a magnificent job as the Captain of the Axiom, a man who wants to return to Earth so badly, he will disobey orders to do it.

This is the first PIXAR movie to feature live action segments, and because of the story and art direction of the film, it fits flawlessly. Fred Willard is fantastic as the CEO of Buy 'n' Large, and subsequently, the world. And when the live action cuts back to animation it does not feel awkward at all.

Review: HANCOCK



Hancock is the summer Superhero movie that we all have been waiting for. Wait? What? Oh sorry... I meant Dark Knight... which will easily shadow Hancock as soon as it comes out and send it to the realm of Will Smith movies everyone has forgotten about... like MIB II and Sharktale. However... Hancock isn't a bad bad idea... its just a bunch of good ideas that was made into a bad film. Kind of like a collage that a 5 year old makes using classic magazine images.

Hancock tells the story of John Hancock (Will Smith) (a Superhero who's origins are never revealed). However, (surprise, surprise) Hancock is not your average Superhero. He does his job because he feels obligated, but like a burned out social worker, he does not care at all about how his actions affects everyone else. He has pending lawsuits and fines, has outstanding arrest warrants, and above all, he is an alcoholic. It is soon revealed that while Hancock cannot be penetrated by bullets, his feelings are not so strong. So he wanders around depressed and teary-eyed, until one day he saves the life of Ray Embry (Jason Bateman) a Public Relations man, who is looking for a new project... ie. Hancock.

Hancock is convinced to head off to prison to reform his image, messing up two guys who challenge him on the prison yard (apparently forgetting he was the superhero who put them in there). After some depressing basketball, a visit from Embry's wife, Mary (Charlize Theron), and several heads stuffed up other peoples bums, the city realizes that it needs Hancock the superhero, and he sets out to do what he does best... kickin' other peoples asses.

As far as acting goes, Will Smith is superb. You easily connect with Hancock's emotions, and feel where he is coming from right off the bat. In certain scenes, Smith does seem to be as old as his character, and this is one of his best. Jason Bateman essentially reprises his character from "Arrested Development", Michael Bluth, in trying to be the guy that holds his family and friends together. While Bateman is a good actor, this is a character who brings nothing new to the genre and we have all seen before.

Charlize Theron looks very attractive in this movie... but thats more or less it. Her character is far too over dramatic, and from the moment she 'meets' Hancock, you know something is up. Also, once it is revealed that something is indeed going on there, you wonder how you or anyone else never noticed it before. Each time Hancock walks in, the camera zooms in on her and she gasps, almost as in saying to the viewer "Hey you, you look dumb so let me tell you multiple times that a twist is eventually coming."

After all two or three twists come, the movie dramatically improves. The climax of the film is beautifully shot and a thing of total art, and Superhero drama in the best from. However is is disappointing that the ending of the film is when it finally gets good. Peter Berg (The Director) makes you feel as if you are watching three different movies that were cut together. Its almost as if someone edited together "Transformers," "The Notebook, and the non action parts of "Spiderman 3". The whole movie is disjointed throughout, and they never explain any of the origins or back-story before the film takes place, which is very annoying and confusing.

By far the best scene comes at the end of the film (mid credits) when Hancock goes to a bank robbery... and... well I won't spoil that part for you. If you do happen to head over to the theater to see the film... this is easily the best part. Too bad it didn't come sooner in the movie.
3 stars
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