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Friday, July 27, 2007

Indiana Freakin' Jones!

Well, in case it isn't obvious to all of you, I am a huge Indiana Jones fan. The fact that they are making a new movie (and just finished day number 26 of shooting), blows my mind!
Raiders of the Lost Ark is a fantastic movie (my favorite) and just gets me pumped up every time I see it. Of course, I have seen it too many times to mention without embarrassment! Yesterday at the San Diego Comic Con, Steven Spielberg gave a live video feed to the audience at Paramount's movie panel, and welcomed Harrison Ford (in full Indy get-up), Ray Winstone, Shia LeBeuf and.... Karen Allen! Yes, Marion Ravenwood is back in Indy's life to abuse him and hopefully get back together with him. I know I am identifying myself as an uber-geek to even post this, but I just couldn't help but get excited about all of this. If yo are interested in any of this, head on over to these places:




Thursday, July 26, 2007

CG for CG's sake = lame

OK, I haven't seen Beowulf yet (no one has, it isn't even finished) but the trailer that appeared for
it made me start to think about something that people who know me would probably be surprised to hear me say (or write, in this case). I am disturbed by the notion of doing a realistic CG movie just to say you did. I am not AT ALL suggesting that is what Robert Zemeckis has done with Beowulf, but since we have yet to see so little of the movie, the fact that nothing in the trailer REQUIRED the characters to be created in CG, makes me wonder what happens in the story that DID dictate that the movie should be done all CG? I am confident that there is quite a lot there that dictated that choice. But it does suggest a potential trend that I see: things that
could more easily and convincingly done with live performers are starting to be done with CG characters instead. Why? Just because we can, does that mean we should? I would say no. The story, to which everything should be in service of, should dictate more than anything what medium the film is created with. But does it always? Final Fantasy: The Spirits Within was just a dull and story-poor movie. It could have been done for a lot less money and effort with real humans playing the real humans (I can't even believe I have to write that!), but it was done with CG "humans" because it had never been done before. If the first fully computer generated film was done in CG because it could, we really wouldn't be in the same place we are now, with CG films making gobs of money at the boxoffice.

Thankfully, we got Toy Story as the first fully CG film, a film that really was tailor made to be done in CG, since it was all about the "secret life of toys" and created a fantastic and not-too-real world that they lived in. The story was great, the acting was great, and it really was the BEST way to tell THAT story. I leave it up to seeing the movie in November when it is released to judge for myself whether Beowulf was best created in CG or not. What do you think about this possible new trend?

Monday, July 23, 2007

At One With Nature

Illinois is a LOT more beautiful than I ever imagined.
I am used to Connecticut, which I always loved for it's twisting
tree-lined roads and sleepy bedroom communities. This weekend I went in search of
a nice town for me and my family to live in, and came across this great nature walk area right on the property of a huge subdivision that I was looking at. Check it out:

This brings up a really good point, which is this: spend time observing nature, especially if you are trying to recreate it in the computer. What makes it beautiful? What makes the sun
so bright when it reflects back at you from the water on a lake (and what do your pupils do when it's that bright)? How do bees hover over a flower before they land? How do trees REALLY sway in the breeze (as opposed to the built-in functions in most CG animation programs)? Think about this for a moment... Do you really know what all this stuff looks like?
Do you really? If the answer might even be a "maybe", then get up off your duff and get out into the real world and take a peek. You might be surprised what you find. I know I was!

Children of the Summer Blockbuster

It wouldn't be obvious to anyone younger than children of the late 70's, probably,
but we are in another "Golden Age" of big summer movies that make us throw our
popcorn from fright or excitement, make long lines stretch out into the hot summer air,
It's this time of year that they pack the trailer-time before the movie with previews of coming attractions that everyone comments on to their date or friend in hushed whispers that are either
"I am SO going to see that!" or "I'll pass, I'd rather clean my garage out than see that..."
Started in May of 1977 with Star Wars, the Summer Blockbuster is a real, tangible, great part of my childhood memories. There was all three Star Wars films, Raiders of the Lost Ark (my favorite film of all time) and it's sequels, Jaws (forget the sequels), The Superman films,
James Bond films, etc. etc. etc...
And now, I feel we are in another period that is like that time
in history. It's not just the boxoffice these films are generating (because, frankly, with the cost
of a lot of these films, the profits are actually LOWER than the blockbusters of my childhood).
It's that what was once old, is renewed again. We have a new Indiana Jones movie coming out
next summer, another Batman movie and Superman movie coming in the next 2 years, Iron Man is coming, another James Bond movie, Spielberg and Lucas pal-ing around making films they love, with crews they have worked with for 30 years... It's a great time to be a movie fan, and here's hoping that the movies are good (great would be even better), and that even in some
small way bring the "Children of the Summer Blockbuster" back to a time when the world was simpler, safer and a whole lot more fun! I've got my popcorn, do you?