Posts Tagged ‘movie’

In this new sci-fi action-thriller “World Invasion: Battle Los Angeles” of Columbia Pictures’, the City of Angels is destroyed by unknown, alien forces… and by Everett Burrell, a visual effects supervisor.

Scenes from the Movie "World Invasion: Battle Los Angeles"

“Once [director] Jonathan Liebesman had chosen the shots he liked, we could add smoke, fire, and city destruction,” Burrell explains.

Burrell even flew in a helicopter between San Diego and Los Angeles, to take some digital photos of the southland – wide shots to make it background plates for the film for Burrell to use as a tool.

“It’s always difficult to get the design down because there are endless possibilities,” says Burrell.

However, making the destructions was just the start – Burrell and his team were also responsible for creating the “destroyers”. Liebesman works with a team of artists to create the aliens and bring his vision to life.

“While I had a very clear idea of what I wanted for the look of the aliens, the collaboration between concept artists and our post-production team ensured the aliens became far more complex and fascinating creatures than I could have ever imagined,” says the director.

Scenes from the Movie "World Invasion: Battle Los Angeles"

“We went through a lot of different concepts with Jonathan to get the alien right – to get what he envisioned. This is mainly due to the fact that it was such a different type of thing we were going for. We wanted ours to be very different, like nothing anyone’s ever seen before. CGI allowed us to tinker with the look all through production, until he was completely satisfied.”

Scenes from the Movie "World Invasion: Battle Los Angeles"

CGI can make a lot of things, but sometimes, an effect is best achieved with just a physical prop. This was true for the alien autopsy sequence, in which the Marines see up close what the aliens are made of and how they can stop them.

“I come from creature effects, makeup effects; our full-scale alien really is the best way to get the effect when it has to interact with the actors closely. The autopsy alien is about eight feet tall, with a 20-foot-long tentacle coming out of its leg.”

For the aliens’ aircraft, the design began with a happy accident.

Jonathan was playing around with the visual effects and, by mistake, there was a large ship with a separate piece broken off, They’ll destroy the world in thirty minutes or less or your money back” Burrell explains.

Scenes from the Movie "World Invasion: Battle Los Angeles"

Opening on the entire Philippines on March 16, “World Invasion: Battle Los Angeles” is distributed by Columbia Pictures, local office of Sony Pictures Releasing International.

MOVIE REVIEW: Inception

Posted: July 17, 2010 in Info News
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For the vast majority of moviegoers, the Hollywood summer of 2010 will be remembered with great fondness for Toy Story 3. For me, writer/director Christopher Nolan’s mind-manipulating, brain-bending Inception is THE defining movie of the season, if not the entire year. It’s one of those ultra rare movies that actually lives up to the hype and even surpasses the most fanatical expectations.

Because my full enjoyment of the movie was slightly diminished by a Hollywood review that revealed and spoiled a crucial detail about one of the female characters, I won’t provide a detailed plot summary here. Suffice it to say that there’s so much more to Inception than was hinted at in the trailer. Yes, one character’s mind is the scene of a crime, and yes, the crime’s perpetrators are a team of specialists played by Joseph Gordon Levitt, Ken Watanabe, Dileep Rao, Tom Hardy, Ellen Page and led by Leonardo DiCaprio. But this is merely the setup. The specifics of this trippy, breathtaking ride through the mazes of the mind will surely be the most intellectually absorbing 145 minutes you’ll spend in a movie theater this year and for many years to come.

Leonardo DiCaprio stars in Inception

 

I can’t think of any other film which enthralled its viewers not mainly with its grade A cast, pixel-perfect visual effects and other flawless production values, but with its provocative IDEAS. Though only theoretical, the assertions which writer/director Chris Nolan makes in Inception about dreams and the subconscious all make sense, because he’s able to relate these to familiar, common experiences. Most of us have experienced what it’s like to fall from a height in a dream (a key plot point in the film), and we’ve all woken up from a dream that felt like it unfolded not just over a few hours, but over several days. In terms of inspiring viewers to want to know more about a particular topic, Inception will probably do for dreaming what the Indiana Jones movies did for archeology, and what The Da Vinci Code did for Leonardo Da Vinci. This is no small achievement, especially for a film which sprang from the mind of a filmmaker whose greatest prior success was The Dark Knight, the top-grossing movie ever made about a comic book superhero. Thanks to Inception, there will probably be thousands of young folk out there who will now want to devote their lives to studying dreams and the subconscious.

Also praiseworthy is the manner in which Nolan handles all his tricky exposition onscreen. The discussions about dreams never become dull because the characters use words and analogies that are easy to understand. Also helpful are the mesmerizing performances of the actors, who deliver their loaded lines quickly but efficiently, with no desire to waste the audience’s valuable time. These and the tightness of the editing are the reasons why Inception, even though it clocks in at 2 hours and 25 minutes, does not feel a minute too long or too short. That’s all the more stunning when you experience the film’s white-knuckle climax and see how Nolan and his editor successfully stretched six seconds of real time into a 15-minute tour de force involving an army of snow mobiles, a corridor with zero gravity, and an old man whose last moments on earth recall the finale of another mind-bending movie classic, 2001: A Space Odyssey.

Was that a dream or is it real? This is the question that you will repeatedly ask yourself as Inception unravels. The events depicted in the movie aside, Inception is, thankfully, very very real. Thank you, Christopher Nolan, for sharing this dream of a movie with us, and for assuring movie lovers everywhere that there’s still hope for those who constantly dream of better movies to behold during their waking hours.

Rating: ..  5 out of 5 OT Hours

MOVIE REVIEW: Tooth Fairy

Posted: February 3, 2010 in Info News
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Tooth Fairy—the creators didn’t even have enough initiative to add a “the” to their title—features that most reliable of comic conceits: the fish out of water. In this case, the fish is a professional ice-hockey player named Derek “Tooth Fairy” Thompson (Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson), who is famous in the minor leagues for knocking out his opponents’ teeth. Facing the twilight of his career, the cynical enforcer almost dashes the childhood fantasies of the little daughter of his divorced amour (Ashley Judd) when he tries to tell her that there is no such thing as the tooth fairy. Derek is summoned to the land of the fairies and penalized for his disbelief by the head fairy (Julie Andrews, channeling Mary Poppins but with more attitude), forced to become a nocturnal collector of juvenile orthodontia for one week. But, of course, not before a uniform mix-up that has the hulking Johnson donning a pink ballet tutu instead of the regulation powder-blue bathrobe and tights.

It may seem churlish to rip into a movie that is less a movie than a vehicle for the crowd-pleasing attributes of its marquee star—after all, the character and the star are practically carbon copies of each other, right down to their names. (I won’t even go into the incongruity of a tough athlete allowing himself to gain a nickname with the word “fairy” in it.) And Tooth Fairy has a bit of comedic pedigree to it. Two of the credited writers are Lowell Ganz and Babaloo Mandel, esteemed scribes who bring their years of experience writing such modern classics as Splash and Parenthood to bear on their script-polishing duties. There are also scene-stealing turns from Billy Crystal, having a blast as a custodian for fairy supplies, and Stephen Merchant as the hockey player’s gawky, saucer-eyed case worker who suffers from a case of “wing envy.”

But still, a few joyful joke deliveries aside, Tooth Fairy is by and large predictable, from its protagonist’s “hilarious” adjustment period to his grudging embrace of his predicament to his feel-good, life-changing epiphany. Plus, there’s Ashley Judd, who doesn’t seem to have the foggiest notion what she’s doing in a movie like this.

A dispiriting reverse between animated and live-action comedies have long been taking place: More and more, the computer-generated denizens of films like Up and Fantastic Mr. Fox seem to be more dexterous not only in what they can do and how they can move, but also in the ways in which their characters grow. And more and more, it is the real-live actors who are becoming the cartoons. I don’t begrudge Hollywood its formula—I just don’t understand why getting a surprise out of a movie like Tooth Fairy is like pulling teeth.

Images from 20th Century Fox

MOVIE REVIEW: Legion

Posted: February 3, 2010 in Info News
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Legion joins the ranks of Night of the Living Dead, Assault on Precinct 13, Feast, Ghosts of Mars, and a host of other classic (and obscure) genre titles in the subcategory of “siege movies”—you know, the ones where a ragtag group of strangers are thrown together in a remote location (jungles and forests are usually preferred for their ability to hide deadly creepie-crawlies), forced to battle a powerful adversary (that may or may not have a host of minions to do its bidding) bent on their total extermination.

legion_cast

The ragtag group of strangers, in this case, are trapped in a greasy-spoon diner in the middle of the desert while an “apocalypse” rages outside. The usual suspects are all accounted for: a bickering couple (Kate Walsh of Private Practice and Jon Tenney of The Closer) and their disaffected teenage daughter (Willa Holland), the world-weary middle-aged man (Dennis Quaid, playing the diner’s owner), the wise black man (Charles S. Dutton as the cook), the man with a past (Tyrese Gibson), the single mom (Adrienne Palicki, playing a disillusioned diner waitress heavy with child) and the earnest young man who loves her (Lucas Black). Into the middle of this microcosm of society charges a mysterious stranger (The Da Vinci Code’s Paul Bettany) who seems to be the only character with an inkling of what’s going on, so he starts barking orders like “Don’t open that door or we’re all dead!”

If I’m not really taking the time to parse these characters—telling you a bit of their background, say, or mentioning one character tic or another—that’s because the director Scott Stewart doesn’t spend much time sketching them in either. For instance, he doesn’t seem to be much aware of the fact that Paul Bettany isn’t a cozy fit as an action hero: I can’t really imagine English actors filling the shoes of Willis or Schwarzenegger—no matter how buff they’ve become—because the concept of heroes who can shoot automatic weapons with both hands is just too American. He’s also oblivious to the fact that Quaid’s comic asides only make him appear superior to the material.

No, Stewart is much more interested in the high concept that propels Legion’s plot: As the trailer has no doubt told you, God has lost His faith in mankind, so He’s sent his angels to wipe His greatest creation off the face of the earth. Bettany plays the archangel Michael, who has broken from the ranks of the angelic battalion and decided to defend mankind by protecting an unborn child that represents humanity’s last hope—which, as it happens, is being carried by Palicki’s hardened waitress. Of course, such a powerful hero needs an equally powerful foe; in this case, it’s fellow archangel Gabriel, played by Kevin Durand (who you may remember from his short but effective turn as the mercenary who murders the daughter of Michael Emerson’s Ben in Lost).

legion_paulbettany

The script, co-written by Stewart with Peter Schink, is full of the nervous energy that only true film nerds possess. It revels, for instance, in angel mythology: How Michael was the first angel in all of heaven to bow down before humankind, how Gabriel is traditionally portrayed as God’s hatchet man, how the hair-raising sound of a herald announces the arrival of a member of the upper echelon of angels. There are also numerous homages to other movies, most notably James Cameron’s Terminator. (Though if you squint hard enough, you may spot a tribute to The Seventh Sign, the B-level apocalyptic thriller starring Demi Moore.)

And why shouldn’t Legion proudly wear its geek origins proudly? It is Stewart’s directorial debut, after serving on the visual effects team that worked on such hits as Pirates of the Caribbean, Superman Returns, and Night at the Museum. Meanwhile, this is only Schink’s second screenplay, having served as editor on films such as Detroit Rock City and the Pamela Anderson female mercenary movie Barb Wire.

legion_pbettany

In case the exhaustive rundown of both director and writer’s résumés above haven’t hinted at Legion’s basic problem, then let me spell it out for you: The director is far too preoccupied with what will look cool on screen, and his co-writer has too little experience with movies that were actually good, to devise a plot that is propelled by recognizable human motivation. The script, for instance, never explains why Michael decides to literally clip his wings, when his showdown with Gabriel shows that an angel’s wings—here chillingly colored black instead of the traditional white, as if they were dipped in tar—are strong enough to repel bullets and sharp enough to dismember opponents who stand too close. If you’re the lone defector against an army with formidable capabilities, wouldn’t you want to keep every advantage you can?

It is also established early on that angels can use human bodies as their earthly vessels. But once again, the script decides to gloss over the idea that these angels could have possessed anybody in the diner to do their work from the inside. Were they deemed untouchable by their proximity to their target? If so, why? Instead, we get a ceaseless parade of the unlikely possessed. I admit, it was cool to see a kindly old lady skittering like a lunatic bug across the diner’s ceiling. But when an ice cream truck driver charges at the diner like a nightmarish daddy longlegs, there is less novelty. By the time the angels decide to recruit a little girl in a sundress and a boy who eerily looks like the youngest child in Eight is Enough to do their murderous bidding, what was cool has become redundant.

Many other visual flourishes—a victim crucified upside down festering with deadly boils, characters dispatched in ways that don’t reverberate with their backstories—are simply shoehorned into the movie for their coolness factor. But no flourish pays off, nothing is explained, nothing satisfies. Come to think of it, the central conceit—angels are unleashed upon the earth to exterminate an unborn child—doesn’t hold much weight once you apply the spiritual hooey that the filmmakers insist on foisting upon the viewer. As Palicki’s repetitive voice-over explains, God has gotten fed up with “the bulls**t”…so why would He bother creating an unborn child that will supposedly lead humanity out of its dark age?

Legion’s one claim to originality is also its downfall: It is never more amateurish than when it tries to give its guns-blazing sensibility a spiritual spin. Personally, I don’t believe God hates us. I just think He’d be pissed to be cast as the villain in a movie whose filmmakers worship James Cameron.

Images from Columbia Pictures.