Wednesday, December 23, 2009

PAN'S LABYRINTH one of the best of the decade

As 2009 comes to a close, I've noticed that PAN'S LABYRINTH has popped up on a few "Best Films of the Decade" lists.

In fact, just named PAN'S LABYRINTH the overall top movie of the decade based on a score of theatrical reviews.

It also got a shout out in the NJ Star-Ledger. Metronews Canada called it "one of the decade's most amazing movies."

The best quote comes from Lucy Jones of the Telegraph, who said "I walked out of Pan's Labyrinth feeling like a piece of gum on a frozen pavement. Spat out by a serial killer." She ranks the scene with Ofelia in the Pale Man's lair as the #9 Scene of the Decade.

It is great to see that the film is sticking with people. This is evidence that it will remain as an all-time classic.

Monday, December 21, 2009

Avatar is Ground-Breaking

It takes a really special movie for me to get out of the house and make it to the theater. Having two children under 2 years old will do that to you. It is always hard finding a babysitter, and it is even harder for me to ditch the wife with the two young ones while I run off to see a movie (ESPECIALLY since she is a big movie-watcher herself).

But this weekend I got the "green-light" to go see AVATAR. And it was worth it.

I went with some friends to see it at the local IMAX in 3D. (The ONLY way to see this movie in my opinion). I got the tickets several days in advance because I knew it would be a sell-out. Got there 45 minutes early to make sure I wouldn't be straining my neck in the first row. There was already a line a mile long to get into the theater (I ended up sitting in the back row - still not as bad as the front). I think "blockbuster" is a given on this one.

The film is an amazing achievement technically. The alien world looks completely real, and is a feast of visuals and imagination. It isn't like the forest of Endor - the planet Pandora is completely alien - alien plants, alien trees. And every scene is peppered with alien life - insects, lizards and small animals are injected to add fascinating detail.

AVATAR is the future. Much like TOY STORY ushered in a new standard of animated film, I too believe AVATAR is going to change how fantasy movies are made. The key is in how life-like the aliens (the Na'vi) of Pandora appear. You may only see a movie like AVATAR once a year because it is too expensive, but I can see all special effect films expanding on its motion capture technology - particularly in how it was able to create faces with real expression. Gone are the "clay" and "stiff" emotions of characters in films like BEOWULF. AVATAR is putting actors in real digital "suits". I don't think we'll ever see a puppet again (sorry, Yoda).

The 3D didn't impress me as much as I thought it would. At times I found it a little distracting - so maybe 3D is better when you don't know it is there - when it is "immersive". I can tell you that the best moments of the 3D was when characters found themselves at tremendous heights looking out into empty space. The 3D coupled with the IMAX screen can make someone with a fear of heights a little nervous - it was a spectacular effect.

The greatness of AVATAR is purely within its technical achievement - much like STAR WARS. The story itself was good enough - kind of a space version of DANCES WITH WOLVES - and it kept me interested and entertained. The acting was good, too - and it was nice to see Sigourney Weaver playing a cranky scientist.

I would call this film a must-see "amusement park ride", and probably the closest I'll ever get to actually visiting an alien planet - which is probably exactly what James Cameron was going for.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

On The HOBBIT "Delay"

Lots of talk on the 'net right now about "The Delay". I found a great blog post from our good friend Kristin Thompson that sums up the matter perfectly:

I cannot overemphasize that much of what the studio and filmmakers have said so far about dates is tentative. Until the two scripts are finished, the budget planned, and the greenlight given, no really firm dates can be devised. In the meantime, all announced dates are presumably targets, and they will change as the decision-makers gain more information.

So whether the principal photography begins in April or July or whenever, there is no real delay. It’s a delay only in relation to estimates, not a firm schedule. These procedures are normal in Hollywood. There is no need to imagine a crisis based on the Tolkien Trust lawsuit, MGM’s financial crisis, or some sort of creative disagreement between the scriptwriters and the studio.

Second, on the release dates of the finished films, the interviewer asks, “So you believe in December 2011 the first part is going to be in theaters. Peter replies, “At this stage, that is certainly the plan.”

Again, that’s tentative. Studios frequently change the release dates of films, especially if the release date was estimated very early on, before the scripting/greenlighting process was even begun. A delay would be disappointing, but it wouldn’t be indicative of some behind-the-scenes calamity.

Pay heed everyone - Kristin is a smart cookie.