July 14, 2010 |
My son and I attended a screening of "The Sorcerer's Apprentice" at a schmantzy new multiplex, and heading out to the car afterward he observed that the only thing louder than the film was the supersonic hand dryer in the restroom. He enjoyed both for what I surmise was the same reason: blasting functionality. This latest Disney live-action feature, based a tiny little bit on the "Sorcerer's Apprentice" segment in "Fantasia" and on Goethe's poem before that, isn't bad as these things go. It's more diverting than the "National Treasure" movies, which, like this one, were produced by Jerry Bruckheimer, directed with aggressive impersonality by Jon Turteltaub and starred Nicolas Cage.
February 10, 2010 |
Time may have ever so slightly mellowed James Cameron's combative, take-no-prisoners approach to life and filmmaking, but that doesn't mean he still doesn't get a kick out of rocking the boat on the way to the bank. So, as his sci-fi epic "Avatar" sails past $2 billion in worldwide box office, breaking the record set by "Titanic," his last movie, Cameron takes no small delight in the way conservative commentators have attacked the movie. "Let me put it this way," Cameron says during a recent dinner conversation at a Hollywood cafe.
January 5, 2010 |
The box-office phenomenon "Avatar" has become well known for its technological advancements and visual triumphs -- it creates a photo-realistic universe where the alien creatures seem to live and breathe, its immersive 3-D somehow making viewers forget that they're watching images on a screen. So, how exactly did director James Cameron perform this feat and create a watershed moment in cinematic evolution? It took more than 3,000 people and 10,000 computers roughly 4 1/2 years to create Pandora, the verdant planet that is the setting for the science fiction-adventure film, and its 10-foot-tall blue-skinned inhabitants known as the Na'vi.
November 25, 2009 |
Whether you are a Muggle or a Jedi, a Twi-hard or a Trekkie, Marvel-lover or a Bat-fan, this is a golden age to be a geek. The fanboy culture is in full blossom at the box office and beyond, and this holiday season there's a mountain of gifts and gadgets that speak to the Comic-Con constituency. Here are some of the best. 'Fringe: The Complete First Season' "Fringe" may be the best sci-fi show on television right now, which is saying a lot considering the crowd of competitors.
November 15, 2009 |
For "2012," concept artist Warren Flanagan created images of a tidal wave engulfing the Himalayas and a chasm in the Earth swallowing up Los Angeles. But early in his career, Flanagan exerted his destructive influence on a much smaller scale as a barman at Ireland's Ardmore Studios. "I was up there for the wrap parties for 'Braveheart' and 'Far and Away,' and Mel Gibson and Tom Cruise would be walking into the bar, so it was pretty cool," he said. The barman, who attended the Dun Laoghaire College of Art and Design, soon landed a job in one of Ardmore's animation studios and moved on to several other Irish animation houses before relocating to Canada, where he worked as a storyboard artist on 2004's "I, Robot."
November 13, 2009 |
As far as the new disaster film "2012" is concerned, the world will end with both a bang and a whimper, the bang of undeniably impressive special effects and the whimper of inept writing and characterization. You pays your money, you takes your chances. In fact, it's hard to say what leaves the more lasting impression, how realistically director Roland Emmerich has destroyed Los Angeles (it's the third try, after "Independence Day" and "The Day After Tomorrow," practice apparently making perfect)
November 6, 2009 |
Have you ever wanted to strangle a ghost? You may well feel the urge after seeing "A Christmas Carol," Robert Zemeckis' exasperating re-imagining of the Dickens classic as a 3-D action-thriller zooming through Victorian London and the fever dreams of that most miserly of men, Ebenezer Scrooge. The "it's better to give than receive" moral to this story is almost lost under the snowdrifts of special effects. Then there is the blizzard of Jim Carrey's theatrics to weather. The actor voices eight characters, including Scrooge at all ages as well as the three ghosts who haunt him -- you can just see him in the recording studio pingponging manically around during one of the Scrooge-ghost tÃªte-Ã -tÃªtes.
September 24, 2009 |
What, you don't believe they can do it? You doubt that Jacksonville running back Maurice Jones-Drew can be buried up to his neck on a beach, then use his superhuman burst to explode out of a hole five feet deep? You wonder whether Denver quarterback Chris Simms can effortlessly throw passes into trash cans 45 yards away, then pull off the same trick as a can is zipping past on a golf cart? You scoff at the comic-book quickness of New York Giants tight end Kevin Boss, who bends backward Matrix-style to one-hand a pass screaming at his head from point-blank range?
August 27, 2009 |
To play up the grisly spectacle of scalping Nazi soldiers in Quentin Tarantino's "Inglourious Basterds" required some sleight of hand as well as the makeup skill of Gregory Nicotero and the rest of the effects crew at KNB EFX. "The way the gag works, the scalp and the actor's head are separate," Nicotero said. "To sell the gag, you have to pretend like you're really putting effort into the cutting, like the knife is really slicing through skin." The team made a mold of makeup effects artist Jake Garber's head and used that as the model to sculpt the scalps to be affixed to the extras' heads.