Posts Tagged ‘active 3d’

African Safari 3-D

October 5, 2014
Not a postcard, not a trunk call... nothing! Our hosts get (fortunately) overlooked in this close call in 'African Safari 3-D'.

Not a postcard, not a trunk call… nothing!
Our hosts get (fortunately) overlooked in this dramatically close encounter in ‘African Safari 3-D’.

An Active3D review
Film: African Safari 3-D
Rating: (out of 5)

Experience Africa’s wildlife up-close – really up-close – without risking life and limb, without getting sweaty, and without getting nasty bugs in your hair. That’s the appeal of this 3-D documentary, and on that level, it delivers unfailingly.

The film’s director, Ben Stassen, has involved himself largely with the production and direction of whizz-bang animated shorts for exhibition in “4-D” motion-enhanced fairground rides (such as those that South Africans have experienced at Gold Reef City’s theme park).

In later years, he and his Belgian production outfit, nWave, have expanded into animated theatrical features, but he returns here to a subject that he covered in a 2005 short film; the safari.

This feature-length trek into the wilderness kicks off in the sand dunes of Namibia, meanders through Botswana, stops off at a couple of spots in Zambia, and finally makes quite a meal of Tanzania, which seems to be a haven for wildlifers. Our hosts are the South African “Lion Whisperer” Kevin Richardson and the Kenyan-born Mara Douglas Hamilton, whose field of expertise is the African elephant. The duo also provides the film’s voice-over narration and general chit-chat, and this is the project’s weakest area. Much as I have nothing but the hugest respect for Richardson and his work, movie narration will never be his thing, and he should never have been thrust into that role.  His flattened vowels convert “wildlife” to “warldlarf”, and the accent is quite disconcerting for this South African who has always tried his level best to respect the Queen’s English and avoid the pitfalls of Sarth-Efrikan-speak. Maybe audiences in other countries will find it charming or quaint, but I found it distressing to have our boere-brogue thrust at us from the big screen. The banter that he and his co-host enjoy throughout the film is also banal, off-putting, and sometimes unintentionally comical.

Please don’t misunderstand me: I think that both of these people have taken gigantic strides in increasing our understanding of Africa’s wild animals, and directing international attempts at wildlife preservation. It’s just that the producers should’ve found stronger scriptwriters (well, someone such as yours truly, for example), and given the task of narration to someone with authority and masterful diction (Jeremy Irons, perhaps?).

That said, the film’s 3-D visuals are truly spectacular, and it’s safe to say that you’ll probably never get this close to wild animals without (a) losing life or limb, or (b) soiling your smalls.

Lions brush past the 3-D camera, so close that you’ll believe you can smell the sand on their coats, and – in one particularly showy sequence, an elephant thrusts his (or her) trunk way out of the screen frame and deep into cinema-space.

Some shots in hyperstereo (i.e. with the Left and Right-Eye cameras placed unusually far from one another) are quite distracting and unrealistic. A recurring such shot, for example, is one taken from the front of the safari vehicle, showing our two adventurers.  The 3-D here is horribly exaggerated, as is the opening shot, in which a computer graphic of the earth makes our planet bulge towards us like the long end of an egg. Finally, in the bad egg department, the film embarrasses itself with some “climate change” prattle (hopefully not lots of it) that will even look silly in the near future, which is where it casts its predictions.

That said, this is an eye-filling document of probably the only decent thing that our sorry continent has to offer; its majestic wild animals; creatures that we need to treasure and protect.  The film doesn’t linger long on any one topic or animal, and is thus short on detailed information. It is, however, a good overall picture (and a stereoscopic one at that) of the majesty that roams upon African soil. Which makes a damn pleasant change from the tyranny that rules it.

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Active 3-D’s Award Ceremony for 2010

January 3, 2011

Whilst donning my tuxedo, I must apologise for my absence of the last few months, sadly necessitated by the restructuring of my company. Let us, however, consider last year’s 3-D releases, blow some raspberries, and dish out out some trophies, shall we? Shhh… the lights are dimming…
[Some random dancing is followed by a respectful hush as the announcer is tracked to centre stage by a follow-spot. He isn’t famous, but that’s a budgetary issue… He begins with the evening’s announcements:]

First up, is the…

Active 3-D 2010 Award for the 3-D film that was:

NOT QUITE AS GOOD AS ITS REPUTATION

Tron: Legacy – it was heartening to see original stars Jeff Bridges and Bruce Boxleitner return for the sequel, and the film contained some eye-ticklingly fanciful virtual environments – and a strong, driving soundtrack by Daft Punk. Its storyline wasn’t up to much, however, and its premise – that software should be available to all at no cost – flies brutally in the face of the film studios’ fight against piracy. Uncle Walt would’ve been horrified.

"And this pedal here accelerates box office receipts..."

 

That wasn’t as classy as one had expected.

Here, then, the…

Active 3-D 2010 Award for the 3-D film that was:

NOT QUITE AS BAD AS ITS REPUTATION

A tie, ladies and gentlemen:

Piranha 3-D – sadly, it wasn’t the tongue-in-cheek tribute to animal horror flicks that I had expected, but its crass attempts to please the older teen market at all costs were frequently laugh-out-loud ridiculous. Unintentionally so, of course. Richard Dreyfuss makes a funny cameo upfront which has all the movie buffs commenting that “You’re gonna need a bigger boat”, and its gasp-inducing, outrageous and counter-intuitive last few seconds were worth the price of admission alone!

Shrek Forever After was an entertaining-enough romp. I really believed that it didn’t deserve the vilification it received from so many loyal Shrek fans, despite the fact that its plot premise – of Shrek’s midlife crisis – was a bit heavy for junior audiences, and probably a bit depressing for the parents that took their kids to see the film.

 

 

With some trepidation, we approach the

Active 3-D 2010 Award for THE CURSE OF 2010

Without a shadow of doubt, this goes to Post-production 2-D to 3-D conversion, which plagued titles such as Clash of the Titans and The Last Airbender. These were veritable crimes against humanity, whose stereoscopic cruelty was matched only by their godawful scripts and woeful performances.

 

Moving on to the …

Active 3-D 2010 Award for THE WORST 3-D MOVIE OF THE YEAR

Where do I begin? Jackass 3-D for its relentlessly juvenile celebration of bodily functions? It’s tempting, but then I’d be overlooking some other, even more depressing, screen-time wasters…

I’d love to choose the re-release (with additional yawn-inducing footage!) of Avatar, but I’ve already roundly slagged off that release (at length) in this blog.

Could it be that disappointing animated effort, Alpha and Omega? Close… but no cigar. Nope; the winner is a tie between… the envelope, please… The Last Airbender and The Clash of the Titans. Finding the biggest offender between them is akin to having to choose between Tuberculosis and Hepatitus…

Please insert brain here. (The Last Airbender)

 

And now… the big one; the…

Active 3-D 2010 Award for  THE BEST 3-D MOVIE OF THE YEAR


Without a doubt, Toy Story 3-D. This funny, moving and highly engaging franchise-closer was not only the best 3-D movie of the year, in this reviewer’s opinion, but it was one of the finest movies of the year, in whatever dimensional package!

To add to the thrill of it all, its release was preceded by reworked, now-3-D versions of Toy Story 1 and 2. Unlike post-production 3-D conversions of live-action 2-D movies, computer-generated animated movies are easy to convert into comfortably-viewed 3-D releases, as they are originated within a 3-D environment.

Toy Story 3-D beat out other strong contenders, such as the charming How to Train Your Dragon, the moving, very funny and stereoscopically exciting Despicable Me, and the dramatically sound Megamind 3-D.