Archive for the ‘NEWS’ Category

Comin’ (Back) at Ya! : Retro with Spin

November 14, 2009

As you've never seen it before!In a previous posting on this blog, I referenced Comin’ at Ya, a glorious romp of an early ’80s 3-D exploitation flick:

The film was, indeed, a “leader in gratuitous 3-D”! I remember seeing it as a kid (and – even back then – stereoscopy geek), and chortling contentedly as all manner of objects were shot, tossed, tipped and otherwise projected into audience-space.

Back then, it put four million bums on seats in the US and Canada (which would equate to $44 million in box office receipts at today’s figures). And this was achieved, mind you, in less than 200 theatres!

At a time when Hollywood is raiding its archives for stories to be remade, it shouldn’t – and didn’t – surprise me that Comin’ at Ya is comin’ right back at us – in a partial remake. “Partial remake?”, I (hopefully) hear you enquire. Yes, partial. It’s actually the same movie, but it’s been digitised – and digitally altered. Dramatically so. Check out

The 2-D (or “flat”) version of this “Noir” re-envisioning has been shown to college students, and the feedback has been overwhelmingly positive. I’ve only seen clips so far of the “reinvented” version, and it looks like a whole lot of trippy fun. Add stereoscopic 3-D to the mix, and there’s no stopping the sensory carnival!

We’re trying to find out whether the film will be released on South Africa’s 3-D circuit, and, if it is, there’s a good argument to be made for midnight screenings. Yeeeeeeee-ha!!!


Titanic Goes Deeper

October 18, 2009
Kate and Leo launch themsleves into three-dimensional theatre-space

Kate and Leo launch themsleves into three-dimensional theatre-space

There’s no stopping Hollywood movie director James Cameron – and I don’t necessarily mean that in a good way… The Hollywood Reporter informs us that he’s now tinkering with the idea of retooling his hit flick Titanic in order to have it re-released in 3-D.

The only aspect of that overlong, overindulgent film that ever appealed to me was its painstaking attention to historical detail. From the wall coverings to the furnishings to the crockery, Cameron saw to it that every detail of the film set was to be a faithful reproduction of the sumptuous, awe-inspiring real thing.

I didn’t care much for Cameron’s trumped-up, cross-class love affair between the working-class Leo DiCaprio and upper-class Kate Winslet, and I certainly could’ve done without Celine Dion’s heart (and high-pitched wailing) going on and on and on…

Cameron is a far better technician than he is a director. And if you don’t believe me, watch that superb 1958 British movie about the Titanic, A Night to Remember, and work out for yourself how many shots Cameron felt he needed to steal from it in order to enhance his product.

Would I visit my nearest 3-D cinema to see this dimensionally-enhanced Titanic? I would indeed. In his pursuit of technical and historical perfection, Cameron turned the backdrop of his movie into a living museum. And, if you’re in the business of duplicating reality, then stereoscopic 3-D is but a natural progression.

So, yes, I will endure this overblown epic again, because I believe that stepping on board the Titanic in stereoscopic, big-screen realism will be a thrill in much the same way as my childhood visits to the museum were. My little heart would tremble with excitement, as I knew that would be entering into other realities, far distant in time and geography from my orderly suburban existence. So bring it then, Mr Cameron, and I promise to sit through all 194 minutes of it. Although I can’t promise not to squirm during Celine Dion’s caterwauling…

Ashes to Ashes, Mud to Mud

October 8, 2009
Swamp Thing TV series

Sadly, the man who made the role of The Swamp Thing his own, won't be around to grace the 3-D remake with his presence.

While Warner Brothers busies itself putting together a 3-D remake of Wes Craven’s 1982 The Swamp Thing (based upon the DC Comics character), fans of the original film have been dealing with the death, on September 17th 2009, of the actor who played the creature in two films and a television series.

Dick Durock, a 6ft5 former Marine, passed away aged 72, at his home in Oak Park, California, after a long battle with pancreatic cancer. His stoical struggle against the disease reflected, in a tragically ironic way, the tough-guy persona that he had so frequently assumed on the big screen.

The towering actor donned the latex bodysuit to play the monster in the 1982 original as well as its 1989 sequel, which was (quite logically) named The Return of Swamp Thing. He also starred in a subsequent Swamp Thing TV series that ran for 71 episodes, from 1990 to 1993. Although he’ll undoubtedly go down in movie history as “the Swamp dude”, the actor also appeared in loads of TV series, including Star Trek, Knight Rider, The A-Team, Quincy M.E., Magnum P.I., Married With Children, Dynasty, Battlestar Galactica and The Incredible Hulk.

Not one to limit himself to either boggy marshes or TV series, Durock also appeared in theatrical features such as Stand By Me and Silverado – invariably in brief roles, and playing brutes (what else would a 6ft5 ex-Marine play?). He was a pro stuntman, and performed daring physical feats for exciting big-screen attractions such as Die Hard: With a Vengeance and Runaway Train.

After Sandra Locke, Big D has probably appeared in more Clint Eastwood movies than any other actor. He was a terro in The Enforcer, fought fist-to-fist with Eastwood in an early scene of Any Which Way You Can and performed stunts for Bronco Billy. While Locke may have had better legs, few would dare suggest that she was better thespian…

Durock participates in a 'Q & A' at Fangoria's 'Weekend of Horrors' at the Renaissance Austin Hotel, in January, 2008. [Thanks to Flickr's Infidelpoptart for the photie.]

Durock participates in a 'Q & A' session at Fangoria's 'Weekend of Horrors' at the Renaissance Austin Hotel in January 2008. (Thanks to Flickr's Infidelpoptart for the photie.)

Durock’s fans had hoped that he’d have a cameo role in the 3-D remake of The Swamp Thing, or at least be a part of the excitement around its release, but sadly, the beloved old giant was called to that Great Big Swamp In The Sky before he was able to participate in any of the new film’s activities.

There is still a hope that some kind of on-screen homage will be paid to the cult hero in the new film. Dick Durock will be missed by his legions of fans.

MJ’s Swansong Goes Out in 2-D

September 1, 2009

Michael's 3-D footage stays under wraps

Michael's 3-D footage stays under wraps

Shortly after Michael Jackson’s passing, word went out from the Sony camp that they had footage of Michael rehearsing for his big This Is It tour of Europe. Tantalisingly, we were informed that much of it was shot using the latest 3-D technologies.

Somewhere between the promise and reality, however, fortune has burped – and left *us* with the after-taste. Fans of the King of Pop will undoubtedly still be storming the box office for tickets, although the 3-D geeks amongst us will be left nursing bruised hopes.

This Is It releases on October 28th in the States, and on October 30th in South Africa. 3-D fans will hopefully find consolation in the fact that The Christmas Carol (starring Jim Carrey) opens in SA the following week in 3-D. This is about the 15th time that the Dickens classic has been made into a film – if one considers variations such as the Muppets take on this timeless story. It is, however, the famed morality tale’s debut in three dimensions. I have, if you’ll pardon the awful Dickensian joke, great expectations…

[P.S. Disappointed fans who’d looked forward to seeing MJ brought back to life, so to speak, in 3-D, will be pleased to know that Captain EO, the spectacular 17-minute 3-D attraction that had wowed DisneyWorld visitors in the late ’80s, is going to be brought back by the theme park. And knowing the Disney organisation, which has always been in the forefront of technical innovation and quality (thanks to the lead of Uncle Walt), the film will probably be digitally tweaked and restored before its re-release, in order to bring it in line with current standards.]

The ‘Avatar’ teaser, revealed

August 21, 2009
Eyeing December's box office...

Eyeing December’s box office…

Finally, James Cameron’s much-vaunted teaser for his upcoming sci-fi spectacular, Avatar, has been unleashed! I can’t say that I’ve ever been a huge fan of this director’s work, but – quite obviously – I am a 3-D fan.  I’m also aware of the time, money, effort, and cutting-edge 3-D technology that’s been poured into this epic affair. The movie’s being shrewdly marketed – as witness the Mxit cellphone campaign that has attracted hordes of young ‘uns to the teaser screenings held throughout the country this evening.

The show begins with a mercifully brief intro by Cameron, who introduces himself as “Jim Cameron” (so we’re on casual terms, now!). Wisely, he allows the snippets that follow to do most of the ‘talking’.

What’s the movie about, you ask? Who cares? We caught snippets of the storyline, though I suspect that this film will offer little to engage our minds. You can be sure, however, that every technical detail will be beautifully seen to. Cameron, we must not forget, is a kindred spirit (i.e. 3-D geek of note), so there’ll be much on the screen (and off it and behind it!) to keep us enthralled.

Think Jurassic Park and Journey to the Centre of the Earth (the recent 3-D version), and you’ll have a fair idea of what to expect; just that there are heaps more dinosaurs and other prehistoric gnashers stomping about these steamy jungles in full stereoscopic glory. Throw in some cliffhangers (quite literally) and the scene is set for a grand-scale sci-fi romp that I’m almost certain I’ll enjoy – even if I pay no attention to the storyline whatsoever. And if you think that you’ll ever be able to replicate this mammoth adventure in your home theatre, I have bad news indeed for you.

‘Up’ Falls Flat on its Disc

August 19, 2009

Up 3D posterThe Disney/Pixar 3-D family movie Up opened in the States on May 29th, but local audiences are going to have to… well… hang in there, until September 11th. (Apparently, it’s well worth the wait!)

Walt Disney’s home entertainment unit has announced that, when they release the movie on disc (which, in the States, will be on November 10th), it will only be available in 2-D. Bolt, Disney’s recent computer-animated 3-D hit, was also released in flat ol’ 2-D only.

Disney doesn’t seem sure which way to turn when it comes to 3-D releases on DVD/Blu-ray. Other recent Disney 3-D theatrical releases such as Miley Cyrus: Best of Both World’s Concert and The Jonas Brothers 3-D Concert Experience gave the public the opportunity of seeing the films in 3-D at home. The easiest way to achieve this on the average TV set, however, is to use the anaglyph system (such as we’ll be using in our Active 3-D Galleries). This uses those glasses with the coloured lenses – not the most satisfactory solution, but the cheapest and most accessible to all consumers. And at least you’re getting your 3-D kicks!

Yes, many critics and consumers have expressed their dissatisfaction the anaglyph system, but the 3-D discs which Disney released always contained the 2-D option as well (for the more churlish family members!). In fact, I remember that the Miley Cyrus movie was also available in a 2-D-only pack. But at least consumers were offered the choice. Now, it’s a flat nada…

Of course, there are higher-quality 3-D systems being mooted for the Blu-ray format, so maybe Disney is waiting for those to be finalised. They’re probably hoping that we’ll buy the 2-D versions of these films, and then, when the Blu-ray 3-D versions are finally released, we’ll buy those as well. Talk about lessons in retail recycling of the same title…

Ice Sets the World on Fire

August 19, 2009

Ice Age 3-DThe second Ice Age sequel, known as Ice Age 3 or Dawn of the Dinosaurs, has, to date, clocked up more than $600 million in overseas (i.e. outside North America) box office. The Los Angeles Times notes that it’s the most ever earned by an animated film abroad, and further observes that, in some markets, it’s become the biggest-grossing film since 1997’s Titanic.

The newspaper goes on to say that part of the movie’s success comes from the fact that 40% of its take comes from “premium-priced” (i.e. higher priced) tickets at theaters that are showing the movie in 3-D. It’s a fair call that the tickets should be costlier, as the cost of upgrading cinemas to digital 3-D isn’t to be sneezed at. And then there’s the additional cost of the high-quality 3-D spex dished out to the audience members…

The good news is that, in SA, the cost of the eyewear is largely absorbed by the distributor and exhibitor.

For South African audiences, attending a 3-D movie costs a fraction of what it would cost in the UK or US. And the quality of our 3-D theatres is up there with the best the world can offer. In SA, a ticket for a 3-D movie will cost you between R30 (US$3.75, at today’s rates) and R65 (US$8.15), whereas, for example, in the States, the same experience will set you back between R105 (about US$13) and R160 (US$20)!