The awesomeness that is…Avatar

December 21, 2009

I was very excited by the look of this film months ago, (teaser trailers should be banned, seriously they piss me off so much!), it just looked so different and awesome, I wasn’t let down. After seeing it in 3D I can safely say that it is one of the best films I’ve seen in a long time, it’s not perfect but it’s comes bloody close. The first thing that hit me was the world of Pandora, every tiny detail is so imaginatively created, you can really see how much time and thought was put into every aspect of the environment, and the creature designs are spectacular, with James Cameron himself designing the badass panther, (I found the gyrocopter geckos hilarious). While this film is so visually stunning the acting is superb and casting could not have been better, everyone from Sam Worthington right down to the tech guys in the background play their parts as if they really belong there. Now a bad aspect is that if you’ve seen the trailer then you know whats going to happen, the story is very predictable, and is basically, in the words of Cameron himself, a retelling of Pocahontas (but this time with giant robot suits), never-the-less the familiar story is told in such a way that keeps you on the edge of your seat to the last second, with some new and unexpected twists along the way. Some have said that the film is too long, personally I could’ve watched another two hours of this story. I can see this film becoming the Star Wars of our generation, lets just pray that George Lucas doesn’t come and make a prequel in 16 years. So in conclusion my advice to you is this; go see it, DO IT NOW!!! Even if you’re not a sci-fi fan you’ll still appreciate the fantastic story telling and the unbelievable special effects, and besides it’s one of those films that Im sure everyone’s going to see and then say “Like Oh my God! You totally HAVE to go see it! It’ll blow your puny mind!” so good luck dealing with the backlash if you say you dont wanna see it. Peace out.

Take it easy

Captain out

P.S. James Cameron has some sort of vendetta against marines…those poor bastards….


Special effects, then and now.

October 20, 2009

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Now when I say ‘special effects’ I don’t mean some computer animated robots, I mean REAL effects, Im talking about the times when if a film needed a monster then you hired a crew to build one 2 meters tall hung from a forklift truck, covered in slime with ridiculously complex controls that took ten dudes with wires to operate. Now I’ve got nothing against CGI, those guys work hard, I mean it takes Pixar 4 years to finish a film, thats dedication, but when it comes to horror movies I just don’t think it’s the same. However good the CGI is you know deep down that the actors are performing in front of a green screen and screaming at a tennis ball on a stick, with the old effects you know that that thing actually exists and they’re really face to face with it, I dunno it just seems to make it scarier for me. So many classic films used these kind of effects to create staggering performances: Alien, Predator, Jaws, The Thing, Terminator even Star Wars.

A perfect example of what I’m talking about can be seen in the 1986 and 1989 ‘The fly’ movies. For those unfamiliar with thefly_posterfilms, they’re based on a short story written by George Langelaan in 1957 about a brilliant scientist (played by Jeff Goldblumin the 1986 film) who invents a teleporter, but in his haste to try a human trial tests it on himself, but unknown to him a fly lands in the pod with him. Though successfully teleporting, the scientist comes out of the pod not 100% human. The following story is a twisting tale of tragic love and gruesome effects. The sequel deals with a similar story about the scientist’s mutant son, but is a film focused much more on action and horror than love. In both films the creature effects were designed and executed by Chris Walas (he also directed the second film and invented the ‘Gremlins’). These effects are simply amazing, the detail and subtlety of some of the early effects (over the film the scientist slowly mutates into a hideous hybrid) while the later effects are shocking and truly horrifying. The creatures are made by a combination of time consuming make-up (early) and epic cable controlled puppets (later). What truly makes these effects amazing is how while they are able to create a horrifying creature they can also give it emotions and actually make the audience relate to the creature. An example of this can be seen in the second film when the main character finds a failed teleportation experiment in the form of what used to be a beautiful golden retriever (this dog gave me nightmares for a week) the way that the creature is controlled and the sounds it makes are so sad and painful that even the guy who wet himself at the back row when he first saw it, will start to see through the monster to the victim inside.

Like I said before, I’ve got nothing against CGI, but nothing beats a monster thats actually there, I really think that it just ha426959812_d3e2986a56_os so much more passion and subtly than a CG monster and I believe that you can see it in the actors’ performances too. Now far from gone I can see that these effects have evolved and combined with CGI; while the larger more complex effects are CG, the smaller and more subtle effects are created with more traditional means, we can see this happening in films like 300, where the deformed humans were good old fashioned men is grotesque suits while the shots of the army and the larger creatures were CGI. Now this I love, combining the strengths of both while dealing with none of their weaknesses.

Nowadays in horror films I always look for ways in which old school effects have been used in modern films, and I can say that IGangstaKermit am glad that CGI is there. Films can now truly expand in ways that old effects held them back, like taking a moving shot of a creature running, or having a lot more creatures. As long as we still remember the horrifying results that puppets can cause, I think we’ll be alright.

Take it easy

Captain out.


Review: Newton Faulkner

October 4, 2009

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Newton Faulkner is an acoustic guitarist who I heard of a couple of years ago, my brother was listening to his album one day and I thought wow, who is this? After a while a really got into his unique style of hammering the strings, and when I heard that he was playing at my very own Isle of Wight Festival I was very excited. After I saw him play an amazing cover of Bohemian Rhapsody I was hooked. He is an amazing performer who just isn’t famous enough. His style is so ori

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ginal and fresh (this he credits to his late teacher) and he has such a stage presence, he’s one of those people who can perform to a crowd of a thousand and make it feel like he’s just chilling in his house and jamming with his mates.

Whenever I get in after being out all day nothing beats just sitting down and listening to his album, it slips from one song to the next with perfection, nothing chills me out more. He sings each song with such passion and mind-bending vocal effects and the way that he plays the guitar makes it sound like a completely different instrument. I guess the main reason that I like him is because he’s just so original, there’s no-one else on the radio or in the charts who sounds anything like him.

Like any band or artist worth their salt he started off playing in pubs and tiny little venues, this is the sign of a real artist, seriously, no REAL band is made by a TV talent show. Slugging the equipment to the venue and spending hours setting up to play your heart out to a group of twenty for a couple of quid and a pint, and loving every second of it. This makes a real band.

But anyway, Im gonna stop there before I go off and rant about how most music ‘artists’ in the charts have less talent in their whole bodies than Hendrix had in his spit. So if you like the sound of Newton Faulkner then I suggest you listen to his song U.F.O first, it’s awesome, I don’t blame you if you don’t like him though, he’s a bit of an acquired taste.

Take it easy.

Captain out.


First Review: Drew Struzan

October 1, 2009

For my first little review I will be looking at the poster artist Drew Struzan.

Looking back at some my favorite films growing up, it’s the Struzan poster that sticks out and identifies the film, (maybe thats just because Im a design but humour me). Drew Struzan is quite simply, a legend. He has painted the faces of childhood heros of an entire generation, films that I and all of my peers grew up with are forever represented by the glorious artwork of Struzan. ItIndiana Jonesdoesn’t matter if you haven’t heard of him, because I guarantee that you would have seen his work; Star Wars, Indiana Jones, E.T., Back to the Future, Rocky, Rambo, the Goonies, I could go on for hours. If you have Drew Struzan painting for your movie, then you’d better hope that your film is as good as the poster. Now Im not saying that a Struzan poster guarantees a good film, he’s just an artist, who gets paid, whatever the job maybe (He painted Star Wars:episode one for godsake) but I am saying that he will give the film a unique identity, a feeling, and access to a prestigious club, like a movie version of the freemasons. His posters are so brilliant, so life-like that I have had to argue with my friends in great depth to prove that they are paintings and not photos (Good bless wikipedia for undeniable evidence).

Unfortunately for Struzan, the 90’s saw great advances in the world of computers, and people saw that not only were computer designed poster quicker and cheaper than hand painted ones, but anyone could do them. Slowly but surely the demand for quality slipped as directors looked to computers to solve their advertising needs. A few people remained loyal to what is referred to in the industry as “the Struzan style”, but it just wasn’t enough. In 2008 After a long, successful career and an impossible battle with technology Drew Struzan completed his last posters and retired.

Poster art has always been a subject of great interest for me, and I was saddened to see the slow decline of handmade art. Go toShawshank Redemptionyour cinema today and you will see hundreds of posters, all made by a team sitting behind a Mac, all showing some computer generated action montage with an explosion in the background and the main characters all posing in some ridiculous fashion, a lifeless depiction that gives little to no insight into the movie it portrays. But ever so often your eye will be caught by somethings that’s different, new and original. When this happens to me I always think, “Wow, looks like we’ve got a new Struzan”.

For all you designers out there I think he said it best himself:

“I paint for three reasons; One, to make myself happy, Two, to make other people happy and Three, to support my family.”

To see His work you can go to his official site:

http://www.drewstruzan.com/

Or go to this little fan-site I found that’s not as well made but shows just about every poster he made:

http://home.scarlet.be/~bliek/starwars

Thanks for reading.

You take it easy.

Captain out.