Posts Tagged ‘stereography’

Transformers: Age of Extinction (We should be so lucky…)

June 27, 2014
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Capable of doing everything imaginable – except engage in intelligent conversation.

An Active3D Movie Review
Movie: Transformers: Age of Extinction
Rating: * (out of 5)

165 minutes? Are you kidding me? This is the fourth of a new-millennial series of films based upon the HASBRO action toys, in which giant robots beat the bejesus out of one another. Does this really warrant as many sequels – and a 165 minute running time? The answer, of course, is a resounding NO. Unless you’re a 12 year-old boy, I suppose. Or a studio that’s aware that these franchises are critic-proof licenses to print money. Seldom in the history of human endeavour has so slender a plot been stretched over so long a movie. Each noisy battle sequence lasted far too long, and, when it would finally grind to a halt and I was hoping that the closing credits weren’t far off, I’d be shattered to discover that there were many more to follow. (Remember when movies had one climactic sequence? And we didn’t feel robbed?)

The plot, such as it is, centres around Mark Wahlberg as a largely failed inventor with a gorgeous teenaged daughter who – though she loves her pop – is starting to lose faith in him. He’s bought this old truck, which just happens to be a dormant Transformer, and … oh; who cares?

Here again I must take issue with the battle scenes. We *know* that the good guys will triumph, so can’t we just bing-bang-boom and get it over and done with? But no; the director and computer operators want to show off their CGI toy-boxes, so they gleefully string every element of the conflict out, as if they were producers of a daytime soap opera. I can just see them proudly strumming their bowties with each new explosion they create. And, to make matters worse, the hulking robots are forever mouthing inanities that could’ve been scripted by stoned teenagers playing video games in their parents’ basements.

What are the film’s virtues? The 3-D cinematography is spectacular – and is seen to gobsmacking advantage in IMAX theatres, if you have the opportunity to do so. Also, when the two villains (played by Stanley Tucci and Kelsey Grammer) are on screen, one can feel the intelligence level of the experience rise – admittedly, not a huge feat.

Much has been made of the fact that the new Digital IMAX 3-D camera has been partially deployed in the making of this film. You will notice, if you’re watching the film in an IMAX theatre, that the regular shots, which have been up-converted from the digital cinema master, don’t fit the entire screen; they leave black strips over and under the picture. When the shots from the IMAX camera kick in, the picture fills the entire height of the screen. An irritation here, is that scenes in the film are often made up of shots from both cameras, so we keep switching rapidly between reduced screen and full screen, from shot to shot. It’s very irritating, and I don’t get why director Michael Bay went with that. Entire sequences, yes; they make sense. But this ongoing click-in-and-click-out? No.

If the film had been 95 minutes long, I might’ve possibly enjoyed it as a matinee distraction, but damn; Hollywood is taking these comic-book/action figure adventures far, far too seriously. It’s also a stupid move, commercially, to make these things so long, as the distributors would be able to fit in more shows per day if they were of a reasonable length.

 

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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.

I Got You, Abe

August 8, 2012

An Active3D Review: Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter

Rating: *** (out of 5)

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“Axe not what your country can do for you…”

Abraham Lincoln was one of my childhood heroes, as I had understood him to have opposed slavery because of his resistance to racism. It turns out, however, that Lincoln had been quite a staunch racist, despite his non-slavery stance. In fact, there are revisionists who have enough proof to support the view that Abraham Lincoln – this man that so many of us had held up as a paragon of virtue – was a white supremacist!

With this in mind, Fictional Detour # 1 in this film is that Mr Lincoln (played by Benjamin Walker), having witnessed racism as a child, made it his lifelong business to oppose such a prejudicial philosophy. Fictional Detour # 2 is the film’s cute little conceit that the Civil War wasn’t about South vs North, but rather about humans vs vampires. So now you know!

Early in the story, Lincoln has his bacon saved by a friendly vampire (Dominic Cooper) who becomes his mentor and vampire consultant (read “turncoat” to the vampire community). Together, this duo protects America from an onslaught of the bloodsucking beasts.

Considering that the film’s premise is such an outrageously tongue-in-cheek one, it does take itself very seriously, and it was these two elements (the daft concept vs serious execution) that I felt didn’t sit comfortably together in the same skin.

And this guy they have playing Honest Abe, looks more like Conan O’Brien than the stovepipe-hatted US president, which is unsettling in a manner which I don’t believe was intended…

All that having been said, the movie is surprisingly entertaining – and the 3-D photography is… um… bloody good!

Partially successful; Pixar’s ‘Brave’ new departure

July 29, 2012
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‘Arrow ‘arrow – what’s goin’ on ‘ere?

An Active 3-D review: Brave

Rating: ***½ (out of 5)

This Disney/Pixar adventure is such a departure from what we’ve been seeing from Pixar, that it knocked me completely off-guard. For starters, gone are the smooth, clean, plastic shapes, and clearly delineated edges, of characters such as those in Toy Story and Finding Nemo. Here, it’s gritty and rough – and the setting is grand, sweeping and mountainous. We even have a female director running the show, so this is fresh turf on so many levels.

The story’s set in Scotland during those far-off agrarian times when each of the various clans held sway over its region. Our heroine, the young Princess Merida, whose bountiful, tousled mop of red hair is – I dare guess – a motif for her fiery, independent spirit, lives with her parents (King Fergus and Queen Elinor) and her little triplet brothers. Merida’s voiced – quite appropriately – by Glasgow-born Kelly Macdonald.

Our olden-day-yet-new-age princess discovers early in the tale that she’s about to be married off. It’s tradition, so there’s little room for discussion. Merida’s a self-possessed lass – and, incidentally, a dab hand with a bow and arrow – and she’s not about to be farmed out to the first kilted hopeful who comes along. Therein lies our drama.

Although the Scottish accents have obviously been reigned in, they’re still a tad tough to follow at times, and I’ve always thought that I had quite an ear for Britain’s range of linguistic quirks. (Which led me to wonder how our American cousins have coped…)

I found Brave to be a relentlessly loud film – although that may well be because we previewed the movie at Montecasino’s Il Grande cinema – where the lads were eager to show off their new Dolby Digital 7.1 sound system.

It should be noted that the Disney tag doesn’t automatically mean that the film’s appropriate for the littlies. It has elements that I found to be startlingly dramatic, such as a great big grizzly bear that crops up in the film much as the crocodile had done in the Disney classic, Peter Pan. It could be argued that my formative years established unreasonable expectations within me, but, if I see a bear in a Disney movie, I expect it to be cuddlesome. Yet, by my oath, there’s nothing huggable about this bear (even if one’s embrace could indeed encompass its furry girth). Again, this is quite possibly the ‘fault’ of the wonderful Il Grande cinema, which now boasts an even larger, post-revamp screen. So big screen, big sound, big bear; it definitely doesn’t add up to entertainment for the wee ones, who are bound to be terrified.

For the adults, there’s enough to relish, including the top-notch voice cast, from Billy Connolly (voicing Merida’s mountainous but loveable dad) and Emma Thompson (as the mom, Elinor), to Robbie Coltrane to John Ratzenberger (whose talented tones appear to have become a staple in Pixar productions). Having said that, the film’s feminism is a touch on the strident side, and the disarming charm of the bulk of Pixar’s earlier features is largely absent. I suppose that we can’t always expect Pixar to tick all of the boxes. I believe that this beloved animation studio let the side down with the Cars movies (yes; both of them), and this film, too. It’s undoubtedly entertaining, but it doesn’t punch through as one of the studio’s greats.

In fact, the highlight, for me, was the delightful, European-style Pixar cartoon, La Luna that precedes the feature.

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