Film Season 2009 is here, part 3

Here we are approaching the end of this summery season of films, for those needing a recap part one highlighted the top films out each week in may and part two highlighted most of June and now we’ll round up with July.

19th June – Transformers 2: Revenge of the Fallen

Transformers Revenge Of The Fallen Film Poster

I was in awe of the first Transformers Movie, with 15 years of speculation I expected a lot and I wasn’t disappointed. (Although I apologise for the poor quality of that ‘review’ I had only just got back from the World Scout Jamboree, still neat little wallpaper by me). With any film great enough to warrant a sequel you don’t often get a better product hopefully at an epic 150 minutes long we’ll have a large quantity of quality to satisfy our appetite for a spectacular autonomous film.

26th June – Year one

Year One, Jack Black, Michael Cera, Film Poster

Hopefully the bullet dodged by Angels & Demons won’t ricochet and hit this gem. This film follows 2 Neanderthals as they search for purpose in their lives by travelling the world in biblical times. Hopefully something intend as a fun family film won’t be slated just because Moses

Harold Ramis and Judd Apatow (Freaks’n’Geeks,Knocked Up) should in theory make an excellent film, and with Jack Black dishing the jokes and Michael Cera lapping them up I can’t see why it won’t be great.

1st July – Ice Age 3: Dawn of the Dinosaurs

Ice Age 3 Dawn Of The Dinosaurs Film Poster

There have been so many entertaining computer generated films I’d be hard pressed to rank my favourites, the Toy Story films would be at the top and probably a few others underneath them I’ve place the Ice Age films. I never felt they were entirely aimed at Kids unlike most other CG films although they all usually have some adult jokes thrown in I feel these were films for films sake rather than films for kids. Either way I’m going to enjoy watching Diego and Sid getting upto some new antics.

10th July – Bruno

Bruno Film Poster

Ali G didn’t help society in the nineties, most people thought what he was doing; mocking policemen, speaking incorrectly and sensationalizing drug abuse was ‘cool’ and those not already doing it copied him to also be ‘cool’. It’s surprising how many people today realise that he was actually mocking the type of people he was impersonating, those the slung their fingers around where all victims of one of the largest practical jokes of all time, which is hilarious to those that didn’t join in. Years later Borat was released and very few, if any epitomized his character, was it because his character was portrayed daft and they didn’t want to be thought of similarly or was it because kids of the same age got the joke? Either way Bruno has some interesting character exaggerations

15th July – Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince

Harry Potter And The Half Blood Prince Film Poster

I can’t remember when, where or with who I saw the first 4 Harry Potter films but I absolutely remember how I saw Order of the Phoenix. It was at a world Scout Jamboree Build weekend, I’d gone with a Go Jamboree crew to spend 6-8 hours putting up tents, I particularly remember the chain of people across a large field passing out poles for each tent…I digress. In the evening myself and about a dozen other people bundled into our cars and head to the nearest cinema still in Scouting (and Guiding) garb. It was interesting to see the rest of the audiences reactions. Now 2 years later I will be going away again with some of the same people and some new ones to work upon another campsite for far less grander reasons but for just as much fun. Then in the evening we’ll be going again. Hopefully I’ll get to do the same thing for the final two parts of Deathly Hallows aswell!

That just about rounds up all the summer films I’ve had my eye on since January, the dates have changed around a bit but they are mostly all there. I only really have my eye on one film before autumn and thats G-Force so for me this season of film is over. Certainly been fun through writing on a theme over several posts, I’m probably going to do this again which means I’m going to need a better system for linking post series, but that’s what all this site is about, trying new things!

All release dates are UK based, they may vary in your country.

Film Season 2009 is here, part 2

This is the second part of 3 of the incredibly long season of film 2009, you can catch the first part here. These are all good films but with the exception of Terminator if they came out the same week as any last month they would get top billing from me here. All this being said Universities and some schools are breaking up for bit so there should be more people available to go seem them. I guess we’ll see in the end of the summer film rankings.

29th May – UP

Up Pixar Film Poster

Unlike the other big family film this season (Coraline) there isn’t another big hitting film like Star Trek trumping its place in the charts. I hope children today appreciate how spoiled they are with regard to entertainment these days, when I was little film-makers dreamed of making a feature length stop motion or CGI production, nowadays its a common occurrence.

Up is the endearing tale about a Grandpa who wants to see the world and by using what he did for living as a balloon seller is able to attach enough balloons to his house and float away unwittingly taking a chubby 8 year old along for the ride!

Lefts hope the boys (and girls) at Pixar haven’t popped under the pressure of living up to there reputation.

5th June – Terminator: Salvation

Terminator Salvation Film Poster

In the beginning there was one Terminator, when preventing the first judgement day there were 2, when the second judgement day came there were 2 and their creator and now John Connor and the human race are up against an entire army of murderous machines.

I remember the first time I saw the 1984 original, sure the stop motion animation of the endoskeleton was a bit corny but the idea was a frightening one, hunted by a machine that would never sleep, would never rest and whose sole intention was to wipe you out for something you hadn’t done yet! T2: Judgement Day is the mother of all sequels, the bad guy was just as ruthless and still better than the protagonists protector.

Technology certainly improved, as already mentioned the first metal skeleton was stop motion models, in T2 there was some CGI but the T1000 death was still drawn frame by frame as computers couldn’t morph the liquid metal appearance. And when the Machines rose it was a combination of the two.

If you haven’t gotten what I’m hinting at yet then here it is, the Terminators films are great and have gotten better in terms of action, content and effects. I doubt T4 will be the one to break the mould.

12th June – The Hangover

The Hangover Film Poster

When “What happens in Vegas” and “Bachelor Party” are taken what are you going to call a film centred around the aftermath of a Stag-do in Las Vegas? Its another one of those post modern slap stick comedies for the audience of new dating relationships, the ones where you have compromise to a very mid-line film for fear of alienating the person you’ve recently charmed. Last weeks Terminator is too boyish and Up has a cinema filled with children so cuddling is a little in appropriate.

I would choose to watch it, I wouldn’t choose to pay £6.80 to watch it at the cinema when a much much better film is coming out next week. I imagine it’ll be a very enjoyable film to watch, Bradley cooper has never disappointed and Heather Graham is very elegant with comedy. Guess we’ll have to wait and find out!

All release dates are UK based, they may vary in your country.

Little history on Digital Lighting Effects

Another amazing feat from production teams at Pixar Animation Studios, Emeryville, California, “made possible by modern technology (William*)”. With processors and memory available in such large quantities more computing can be done in less time, with time being money, and films having a limited budget it means higher quality films can be made at lower special effects costs.

Simply put: How?

The film WALL·E uses a derivative of the Ray Tracing Technique, light rays are projected perpendicular to the viewpoint plane into the digital environment and reflected off surfaces until a set number of bounces or they reach a light source. This creates a very realistic looking shot, with the realism being proportional to the number of reflections, 1 bounce casts shadows but doesn’t produce any ambiance, 3 looks only just plausible but will be too dark, 8 would be acceptable for daytime television and a full 16 or more are used in motion pictures.

As you can imagine each bounce has to be remembered, the colour information of its reflecting surface(s) and the distance between each one until it matches a finishing condition, this has to be done for each pixel. A rough idea of film resolution is 2048 by 1152, that’s 2,359,296 light rays (2.4 MegaPixels) every 1/24 of a second. An awful lot to remember for just one frame of 129600 in a 90 minute feature.

Is there a simpler way?

There are many other ways, each with pros and cons, my particular favourite, for sentimental reasons, is Ray Casting, the technique used extensively in the film Tron (1982).

Ray Casting functions in a similar way to Ray tracing except there are no bounces once reaching a surface, colour and shading is faked. With less information to remember the process is a lot quicker but also has more inaccuracies. If the shading and colouring isn’t done proficiently then the entire shot looks fake.

Further Advances

There you have it, the basics in how light and shadows are produced digitally. Mathematical equations work out the path a real light ray might take, complicated stuff made possible by the advances in technology. Luckily Pixar aim to create one frame (1/24 second) to be rendered in 3 minutes, making a whole film take a year, so its safe to say we’re a long way off being able to create photorealistic digital environments in realtime. When that happens I would worry, if we could create a near perfect environment in a simulator and you went into that simulator how would you know if you really left?

WALL·E

Such a loving little film about an endearing robot. Whenever I’ve been in the cinema over the last month or so I’ve heard people saying “Have they remade Short Circuit?” Obviously not but there are some similarities. Back then they used Johnny as a promotional tool, but there was only one because it was sooooo expensive to make, with most of the budget going to the Visual Futurist, Syd Mead, who designed him.

How things have changed, now there are many of the things.

One of my Favourites clips

Keeping with the jovial attitude of the majority of their films the Animators often place a lot of ‘in jokes’ throughout their features Jim Hill lists most, if not all, the visual jokes Pixar employees have included in their final products. Enjoy.

Film Review: Arthur and the Invisibles

On a whim from my girl I watched this peculiar children’s flick, I immediately came to realise this is the noughties Labyrinth. For those not old enough to have watched Labyrinth as a child then imagine only ever having watched animation or live actions films. Nothing in between or computer generated. Then think what it would be like to have all manner of creatures interacting in a real way with actors, okay they were muppets from Jim Henson but it was amazing to see something so different to what you are used to.

That is how it felt to watch this film, they didn’t try to make the digital characters look completely realistic, nor did they try to make them look cartoon like they have in so many films by Pixar (Toy Story for example) they simply styled them in a beautiful and unique way that sets this film apart from so many other CG animations.

Enough about its differences, was it good? Crikey it was, even for a children’s plot as an adult I was gripped, you weren’t quite sure what was going to happen next and they didn’t make a point of struggling with easy problems in the film, it was performed as you’d expect people (with a little know how) would do. This was carried remarkably by the male protagonist Freddie Highmore (Finding Neverland, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory) whom most of the live action sequences focused, accompanying him are some marvellous vocals from Robert de Niro, Madonna, Emilo Estevez and Jimmy Fallon.

There are those that have criticise the film for mimicking certain fairytales* but so many other films re-tell those all important and ancient fairytales and myths so I don’t think its fair to point at this one when so many others have done it, I think the contrary it adds to the reverence of the film.

The plot without revelling to much follows the line along this; a young boy, resourceful and obsessed with his grandfathers inventions and trinkets from his expeditions in Africa sets out to save this family’s farm from debt collectors by finding both the treasure in their backyard and his grandfather along the way. Luckily he has help….

There are rumours of 2 sequels in 2009 and 2010 but unfortunately I won’t have any kids as an excuse to go to the cinema so I might have to wait for the DVD releases.

In my opinion this film should gather a fan base in the future akin to Labyrinth or perhaps Tron, but only time will tell on this one. Give it a watch, its entertaining for adults and children alike.

Rating: 93%

Film Review: Transformers

My toys when I had a single digit age were Transformers, I saw the amazing animated movie at the cinema and even dressed up as Optimus Prime for a Halloween. As such in my teenage years I daydreamed what a live action film would be like, drawing on conclusions from what I’d seen in the cinema that week, be it The Matrix, or Episode 1. As years passed I grew more and more doubtful anyone from my generation would write a screenplay to get it directed and produced. Now its 2007 and my extremely high expectations have just about been reached.

Whilst I didn’t expect blocky robots with grotesque transformations I never imagined that the Autobots and Decepticons would be depicted so authentically. All the internal parts of the vehicle modes are visible in the humanoid form which is absolutely breathtaking, I don’t care how much it cost to render all the frames at 38 hours each it was worth every penny. However, now that the initial thrill is over I bet in the sequel (and there blatantly has to be one) there are more panels covering the mechanical organs, probably ret-con’d in as armour now that they are warring again.

Showed me something uncommon then, and a rarity now; for once the good guys didn’t always win outright at the conclusion of that weeks episode but they did eventually triumph in that particular story arch which meant that anything could happen and kept me guessing each week and inspiring me to work it out with my toys. With the eighties show being so iconic I assumed that the film might do the same, whilst the tale didn’t regale me as a beloved intrepid leader falling at the hands of the enemy the special effects did, something progressively harder in these insensitive times.

As for the toys, I owned Optimus Prime, both the original version and the Power Master version. I did not have Megatron, which is easily forgiveable because his alt mode was a pistol and given one of them to a kid is not something I would be entirely happy with today, toys guns should look like toys, plastic and brightly coloured. Maybe I’m being to PC but there are many parents not being protective enough out there and others being too much, if I fall into the ‘to much’ category on this issue so be it. Anyway, with the detail on the transformations being so high I’m interested to see how they engineer the newline of toys…

Hopefully you’ve kept reading to this point and as such I’ll not keep your attention much longer. This film whilst not entirely faithful to the animation that I loved so much is a fantastic watch. An entertaining story, great effects and superb performances.
Rating 96%

Wallpapers: Standard (4:3) and Widescreen (16:9)