Posts Tagged ‘nWave’

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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The House of Magic: Family fun

June 27, 2014

The House of MagicAn Active3D Movie Review
Movie: The House of Magic
Rating: ***½ (out of 5)

The story begins quite distressingly, with a young cat, Thunder, being dumped on the side of the road by people who (a) have yet to realise that a pet is a lifetime’s commitment, and (b) seem unaware of the existence of animal shelters. It isn’t long, however, before he locates an eerie looking mansion that he reckons could be the roof over his head that he seeks. It turns out the said home belongs to an eccentric old magician who lives with an assortment of pets, intriguing automatons and penny arcade attractions. The magician is more than happy to included Thunder in his eccentric menagerie, but a grumpy rabbit (clearly the Elder Statesman) and his sidekick mouse, aren’t at all happy about this interloper, and make it quite clear to him that that he should vamoose.Adding to the tale’s assortment of villainry is the magician’s nephew, who’s keen to sell his uncle’s house, and dump the old guy in a care facility.

This animated feature comes from nWave, a Belgium-based outfit that started off by making short 3-D ride attractions for so-called 4-D theatres (such as the one at Gold Reef City). They’ve since branched out into full-length movies such as ‘Fly Me to the Moon’ and ‘Sammy’s Adventures’ I and II; all three of which have released in theatres locally. Whilst their production values can’t hope to match those of the huge Hollywood studios, nWave’s films still have well-developed characters, fun scripts, and overall, a considerable charm and flair. And being as they have a background in what one might call “fairground 3-D”, their 3-D is always played over-the-top – which this stereoptifile loves! Active 3-D recommends this fantastical adventure for a fun family outing.