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In Defense of “Obnoxious” 3D…

Discussing the upcoming adaptation of Marvel’s The Avengers, it was strange to hear director Joss Whedon assure fans that the film would not be “obnoxiously 3D.” I am hardly the biggest fan of 3D, for a multitude of reasons I’ll undoubtedly get into in a minute, but I can’t help but feel a little disappointed. After all, since Whedon isn’t filming in 3D, what’s the point in doing it at all if you aren’t at least going to treat it like the gimmick that it is?

Out of their depth?

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Re-Release Me… Let Me Go… Hollywood and Re-Releases…

So, yep. It’s a bad time for the US box office. The Lion King, a movie first released in 1994, managed to hold on to the number one spot at the top of the charts for two whole weeks, and ranking higher than any new release in its third week. If anything, the major movie studios have been very quick to jump on any trend that offers even the slightest hint of a money-making opportunity. It’s a trend one can easily see from the way that Hollywood pursues ideas. After Harry Potter was a breakout hit, every studio in town was looking for a young adult franchise to adapt to the big screen. After The Dark Knight, it became customary to plan for the superhero sequel before the original even hit theatres. It’s a trend even more obvious with technological gimmicks. After Christopher Nolan proved that you could make money in Imax, it seemed every other movie was being released in the format (even if it didn’t warrant it). Avatar led to a wave of 3D releases, which seemed to be growing old fast. So the success of a film originally released nearly two decades ago in the cinema, remastered in 3D, is pretty much assured to be the next big thing.

I'd be lion if I didn't admit I want to see it...

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Stop Motion Capture: Time to Worry About Tintin?

Mars Needs Moms bombed at the box office. Badly. Really badly. Ignoring the fact that Disney is in need of another hit, the failure of the Seth-Green-starring Robert-Zemeckis-produced motion-capture 3D CGI films raises serious questions about the future of that particular animation style. However, I wonder if it’s playing across the minds of Steven Spielberg and Peter Jackson as they add the finishing touches to their Tintin adaptation.

All at sea?

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Non-Review Review: Tron Legacy

I admired the original Tron perhaps because of what it attempted rather than because of what it accomplished. It was brave and bold, and it demonstrated more than any other film of its time what was possible with computer-generated imagery – it was a statement of intent and a proof of concept. However, it was also somewhat awkward and clunky – to the point that several sequences in the movie had to hand-animated rather than digitally modelled, because time and technology worked against the crew. It was very much a movie of its time, held back by the status of the industry at the time – and yet inspiring a whole new generation of film-goers and film-makers as to the possibilities. It seems only fitting, perhaps, that Tron: Legacy took so long to make it to the screen – those impressionable young future movie-makers have come of age in the thirty years since the original. In many ways, the sequel feels like a debt is being repaid – here’s a chance to see the original and daring vision as it was imagined all those years ago.

I haven't got a Clu...

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Paradise Lost & Found: Milking Milton

Sometimes you hear a movie pitch and you think “man, that’s a good idea”. This is not one of those ideas. Apparently Hollywood has run out of modern fantasy books and comics to adapt and have set their eyes to a somewhat higher brow work: Milton’s Paradise Lost. I loved that book in secondary school almost as much as I loved Dante’s Inferno (the rest of The Divine Comedy I could take or leave, to be brutally honest). Anyway, you’d think I would be rejoicing at the news of the adaptation, but my cynical nature betrays itself here. You see, here is exactly what the producers had to say about the proposal:

…the project tells the story of the epic war in heaven between archangels Michael and Lucifer, and will be crafted as an action vehicle that will include aerial warfare, possibly shot in 3D.

Yes, it’s a 3D “aerial warfare” movie. I’m waiting for the announcement that Sam Worthington will play Satan and Vin Diesel will play the “one day away from retirement” Archangel “my friends call me Gabe” Gabriel.

That pitch meeting obviously didn't go well...

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Going Looney About 3D…

Well, as far as 3D is concerned, I’m not convinced, despite it’s increasing presence in the market place. However, after all my time criticising post-rendering in 3D or how certain films don’t necessarily need the gimmick, maybe it’s about time I got a little bit excited about 3D and stopped complaining so damn much. Or at least recognised that it’s not all bad. The good news of which I speak? The Looney Tunes are coming back… in 3D.

This coyote is about to get ugly...

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Man of Iron, Feet of Clay: Nothing Succeeds Like Success…

A little while ago, I mumbled something about how ‘failure’ didn’t really mean much, despite how often the term was thrown around in discussions about films like Watchmen and Kick-Ass. They generally made their money back, received cult attention and didn’t enter the history books as massive wastes of time or energy – which I figured was kinda fair given that neither example was a box office bomb in the style of, say, Motherhood, Uma Thurman’s last film (opening weekend of £88 at the UK box office – I’m not kidding and I didn’t omit an ‘m’). Still, it looks like success isn’t a particularly better deal, given what is circulating on the web regarding Iron Man 2 and its opening weekend – just shy of $130m, I believe. When is success not success?

There may be blood in the water... but Ivan isn't the only shark circling...

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Can Avatar Save Blu Ray?

Avatar is already the fastest selling Blu Ray of all time, knocking The Dark Knight from its perch. But what really struck me is how close the Blu Ray sales figures – estimated at 2.7m – are closing in on the DVD numbers – 4m. Could Avatar not only save the planet, but also the home media format?

Blue Ray?

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The Day That 2D Died…

I’m not going to bore you with another 3D post. In short, my opinion is thus: I’m not outright against it, but recognise it is a cynical money-making plow that has yet to really add anything to any movie (with the possible exception of Avatar). I just noticed something today which indicates we may have hit the tipping point. And it isn’t the news of an Oscar-baiting drama like Precious being rendered in 3D like I thought it might be. It’s the fact that Clash of the Titans is being advertised as “also in 2D”. It’s in small print in all the ads, but it seems to suggest that the standard movie-viewing experience has now become the smaller, optional one. Something for the cinema-completest rather than the default way of viewing the film. I remember not even last year when rendering a movie in 3D was a selling point of itself, a quirk. Now it appears that we should be treating it as standard for these films, with the 2D screenings being essentially sideshows and extras.

Some would rather stare at Medusa's face than watch the satndard 2D version...

I’m fairly sure that Avatar may have used the same “also available in 2D” line, but there’s a huge difference between Avatar and Clash of the Titans. It might not seem much (in fact, it likely seems very little), but this I think this may be the moment that the impact of 3D has truly sunk in for me, with 2D screenings now being a curiousity and an afterthought, with 3D the norm rather than a bonus.

Non-Review Review: Alice in Wonderland

I imagine Lewis Carroll’s iconic fantasy story poses quite the problem for anybody looking to bring it to the screen. Both Alice in Wonderland and Alice’s Adventures Through The Looking Glass essentially consist of a collection of vignettes, very loosely linked to each other. One minute you’re translating The Jabberwockey and the next you’re hearing the story of The Walrus and the Carpenter. I can’t imagine it would be particularly easy to produce a film following that sort of almost random structure. Perhaps that’s why Tim Burton’s wonderfully visual fantasy seems to draw perhaps more heavily from The Lord of the Rings than its own source material, which is a shame, as the director fantastically brings the magic of Wonderland to life. If only there were more of it.

Down the rabbit hole...

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