woensdag 1 oktober 2014

Today's Column: the boring months of fall



Opening the month as usual is a column of mine:

http://www.moviescene.nl/p/157377/column_de_cinefiel_in_herfstslaap

Unintendedly my column sparked some controversy on Twitter, I've been told (as I don't use Twitter myself). Apparently someone took umbrage against my statements that there aren't many good films released in arthouse theaters in the months of September and October. I do agree in hindsight that I came off a bit harsh in that regard, since there are a fair number of decent titles available for our viewing pleasure (and I did acknowledge the few gems among them by name, like Winter Sleep, though that is a matter of taste). Nevertheless, I do stand firm in my opinion (which of course is all a column ever really is) that though these titles are certainly good enough, they are far from memorable compared to the films generally released in the months of November up till February, when 'good enough' is replaced by 'great'. If the current titles truly are as strong as the distributors would have us believe, I'd say more people would bother to attend. The really good stuff is being kept until later this year, as it usually is.

Looking at this column now, I really feel I ought to have stuck to my ranting against the cowardly release strategy of the commerical distributors and studios only, since they're the ones that really fall short and cause these months to be so depressingly dull. Most of the titles released in your bigger theaters are simply meant to at least give us new titles, any titles, regularly, but arguably movies of good quality are few and far between. Thus audiences tend to visit a select number of titles en masse, while the rest receives lukewarm attendance at best. Currently, the only movies people bother to visit at my work are The Maze Runner and The Equalizer, while the rest of them is euphemistically lagging behind, drawing only barely adequate numbers of spectators at best, and at worst, none at all. October doesn't seem set to break that pattern from the looks of it; things won't get more exciting until November. So we'll be sitting on our elbows for a whole more month on the job (except for that darn fall school recess, when parents and kids flock to theaters in great numbers hoping to escape the cold and the rain, though decent family movies too are a rarity: however, kids don't care about that, since anything that moves and makes a lot of noise, for which they have to leave the house is exciting and worthwhile to them). Special discount events don't seem to persuade audiences to attend, as there's simply too few movies that spark their interest. That is why the National Film Days didn't do as well as the industry had hoped for: there just weren't enough movies to entice people to visit theaters at all, even at half price. And this is basically how it goes every year, a tedious situation I'm kinda fed up with, which is why I call for distributors to reconsider their shying away from decent releases in the fall, as they seem to have for the spring months which in recent years have become much more eventful since the blockbuster season is seemingly expanded, now starting as early as March rather than May. Seeing as to how well that works financially, I'm hoping studios and distributors will risk the gamble and keep some of their summer hits back for the fall. I'm sure that would sit well with people sitting at home bored wishing for good movies to be released, of which I reckon there are fair numbers available.

That was basically the discussion I had hoped to ignite, on Twitter or elsewhere. But since I made the generalizing mistake to throw arthouse and commercial releases in the mix together, that backfired on me, and I do regret it. I wonder what they're tweeting about my column. But not enough to sign up on Twitter.

dinsdag 30 september 2014

Jurassic Park III: Animatronic Spinosaurus



Year of release: 2001

Description: this large carnivore, the biggest dinosaur sculpt in Hasbro’s toy line, measures a good 40 centimetres in length and stands about 20 centimetres tall. As far as the paint job is concerned, this dinosaur looks the same as the smaller Spinosaurus figure from this toy line. The overall colour is brown, with some darker tones mixed in to give it texture. A large white stripe runs across each flank from the back of the head to the upper legs. A smaller curly white stripe runs under the sail on his back, also on both sides of its body. From the nostrils to the very end of the tail (and over the top of the sail) a semi-golden stripe is found, most notably on the head and neck. Seven purple stripes adorn each side of the sail, along with small white specks. All of its claws are black, while the (somewhat small) teeth strangely enough sport a golden paint job (though an irregular variation with regular white teeth also exists). The throat and upper part of the belly are greyish blue and its eyes are green. A yellow JP III logo can be located at the base of the tail on its right side.
This creature’s skin is largely made out of rubber, including the head and the sail. This is done to accommodate the animatronics. Only the legs and arms are made of the regular plastic material the other Hasbro toys are composed of: these limbs are also moveable. The animatronics’ functions can be activated by pressing three buttons under the rubber skin, all on the right flank of this model. The first is located under the JP III logo, and produces an attack roar. The other two buttons are concealed under the exposed dino damage wounds (no larger Hasbro dinosaur would be complete without them unfortunately), either the large wound on the belly with the ribs sticking out, or the smaller one on the neck which shows muscle tissue only. Both of these produce a shrieking roar, as if the animal yelps in pain. Pressing any of these buttons activates the animatronic features, which make the creature move his head either up or down and open its mouth. While doing so, the inner mechanisms unfortunately make a rather annoying sound. (Note: the particular model used by the reviewer isn’t in the best condition. The reviewer isn’t sure whether the tail is also meant to move: in his case it doesn’t.)

Analysis: this model looks impressive, especially for Hasbro standards, but has some downsides unfortunately. The paint job is nothing special, and of course very similar to that of the smaller Spinosaurus figure, so not much points for originality can be given either. The green eyes and gold teeth, something the smaller Spino didn’t have, aren’t an improvement. It’s a good thing this sculpt has a formidable body mass and doesn’t appear skinny like that model though. The body proportions of this model are quite good, though the tail might have been a tad longer. This Spino also suffers from Hasbro’s dino damage curse, with a wound that can’t be covered up and looks quite fake. Also a shame is the fact that the underside of the feet are plain smooth, like they forgot to make it have a dinosaur feel.
The most promising aspect of this model are supposed to be the animatronics. They are an interesting new feature and original as well, since no other JP dinosaurs had animatronic components. Unfortunately they don’t work all that well: the movements the animal makes are pretty slow and artificial, and the mechanism inside the model makes a rather irritating sound when the animatronics are in use. The worst part however is that these animatronics are quite fragile and break easily; if you want to keep the animal in working order, it’s better not to play with it at all. That’s really a shame, because this is the only large carnivore toy of all toy lines that isn’t a Tyrannosaurus and thus would make a worthy opponent for a large sculpt of one of those. But having a neat dinosaur battle with this Spinosaurus is definitely out of the question if you want to keep it intact. This model is better for dioramas than it is for actually playing with it. And that’s a real waste for such an impressive looking model. Overall, it looks better than it is.




Playability: depends on what you intend to do with it. Like stated above, it’s not done playing with it if you want to keep the animatronics working. Still, the animal stands in a neutral position and has poseable limbs, which would make it superior to most of the other Hasbro toys qua playability. Since it’s such a cool looking toy I reckon most people are very tempted to play with it. Best solution for the collector seems to buy two of these: one to keep mint in box and thus in perfect condition, and one to play rough with it like everyone wants to.

Realism: it would be hard to mistake this creature for something other than a Spinosaurus. The sail and crocodilian jaws are a dead giveaway. It looks a lot like the main carnivore in JP III, thought the paint job is somewhat different. For one thing, the Spino in the movie didn’t have gold teeth (and the teeth he did have were a good deal bigger and sharper as well).
On a paleontological level this sculpt looks a lot like an anatomically correct Spinosaurus (thinking pre 2014 at least, considering the current radical change in scientifically accurate Spinosaur depictions) as well, though the tail was a little longer in reality. In comparison to the human figures from this toy line, the size is more or less accurate.

Repaint: no. This model wouldn’t be repainted either.

Overall rating: 7/10. Granted, the animatronics aren’t very appealing (at least in my case, maybe they look better with a mint model). But it’s still one of Hasbro’s better models, especially because of its unique size (at least unique for this toy line and particular species). Even though it sucks the animatronics are so fragile which makes playing with it hard, and despite minor paint job flaws, it looks great and shouldn’t be excluded from any JP fan’s collection. It’s not always easy to find though: it’s relatively common in the USA, but in some other territories (like my native country Holland, where this particular model remains unreleased and is much sought after, often fetching high prices) it can be a real challenge to get your hands on one. Nevertheless, I suggest you give it a try.

zondag 28 september 2014

Today's overdose of news



It's been a busy week for posting movie news after all:

http://www.moviescene.nl/p/157368/nieuwe_trailer_jupiter_ascending

Jupiter Ascending is back with a vengeance. We've had zero word on the project since it was postponed a few months back, but it's certainly set to be the big film of February 2015. Which seems an odd time to release such an ambitious and expensive title, but at least it ensures there's not a lot of competition to go up against. In terms of visual effects and atmosphere it seems this is going to be quite a thrilling piece, but I have my doubt about the plot, which marries an element or two from Dune to bits and pieces of The Matrix and of course mixes the epic qualities of Star Wars in as well. Then again, I kinda dig the notion of humanity simply being bred as a resource for an extraterrestrial imperial dynasty's vain pleasures. It doesn't seem to emphasize the moral and existential 'specialness' such Sci-Fi films inherently attribute to our species, usually portraying them as the great wonder of the galaxy. Here, humanity is just a big herd of dumb sheep, ignorant to the bigger picture. Of course, this fairly rebellious notion is sure to be shattered by the character played by Mila Kunis. And speaking of Kunis, I'm not convinced of both her and Channing Tatum's ability in terms of acting to carry such a big blockbuster movie. At least there's a decent cast of supporting characters (Sean Bean, yay!) to make up for it if they fall short.




http://www.moviescene.nl/p/157333/game_of_thrones_acteurs_gecast_in_pride_and_prejudice_and_zombies

There's enough pride & prejudice in the Lannister family to be siphoned off by other projects for sure. Game of Thrones has also witnessed its fair share of zombies, too. Any excuse to get Headey and Dance showing off their considerable acting talents, on their own or together, is well worth the effort. Dance should have plenty of time on his hands, now that he's not likely to do much more work on GoT (and boy, will we miss him!). The cast for this movie grows ever more impressive, perhaps more so than its decidedly silly premise deserves. It's a clear sign all these grand actors, who usually deal with heavily dramatic performances, need a break at times, something lighter to keep from going insane. Pride and Prejudice and Zombies may be just what Headey and Dance need, to keep their mind of all the political intrigue, backstabbing and murderous family squabbling they've had to endure in recent years. It'll be great to see them bounce off such frustrations on the mindless hordes of the undead.



http://www.moviescene.nl/p/157366/game_of_thrones_acteur_wordt_booswicht_maze_runner_2

Here's another GoT actor who has time to spare for a big genre movie. Considering the series has progressed as far as the books with Littlefinger's particular story line (or Sansa's, to be more precise), I wouldn't be surprised to see he was used only sparingly in the next season. Which gives Gillen time for other things, like playing another villain (come, on, that's what Littlefinger is and you kow it!) in a hugely popular dystopian teen franchise. I have no doubt he'll excel at playing the part of the character called the 'Rat Man', even though, considering the pace with which The Scorch Trials is being produced (the deadline ends in less than a year from now), it seems he has very little time to prepare for the role. Good thing his experience on Game of Thrones comes in handy then.



http://www.moviescene.nl/p/157335/nieuwe_trailer_laggies

Oh hey, they made a movie about my lack of a career! And Keira Knightley is playing me. Odd choice, but I'll take it. But seriously (if ever), this movie is just made to reflect on the many millions of people lagging in their lifes, of which I am only one. Hopefully it'll also provide a solution out of this mess that is my existence, other than the generic resolves of embracing adulthood and responsibility. Which wouldn't help me any further, as I do believe at least the latter element is perfectly honed in my case. But from the trailer it at least appears as if I would leave the theater in a cheerful mood, as the sizzling levels of feel-good juice are dripping off my computer screen when it's playing this preview of Laggies. Whether the movie will have the same effect, or whether I'm in for a painful confrontation with the hard, merciless truths of life remains to be seen. It's starring Keira Knightley, so the latter scenario seems unlikely.




http://www.moviescene.nl/p/157350/neeson_en_freeman_in_ted_2

More actors in for a change of pace and genre. These days, Liam Neeson is either starring in a slick but forgettable action thriller, or a comedy cannibalizing on his persona of a slick (and forgettable?) action thriller star. The latter was the case in Seth MacFarlane's previous zany comedy, A Million Ways to Die in the West, in which Neeson made quite the badass desperado. Seems both parties enjoyed their collaboration well enough to go at it again, though one of them is resorting to doing voice work only again (and it's not Neeson). Freeman is still wandering around completely at a loss as to providing any sensible exposition of what exactly went down in the unintelligible Lucy, and apparently hopes to do a better job explaining the still somewhat fuzzy science behind a living teddy bear. Probably easier to do than providing the many answers that come with a woman unlocking her mind to the max and turning into everything there is. Or stuff. I dunno. And neither did Freeman. No freckle added to his face for a job well done on that one, that's for sure.




http://www.moviescene.nl/p/157371/nieuwe_trailer_big_hero_6

Well, this looks simply adorable. And also quite un-Marvel for what is in essence still a Marvel movie. The subject matter obviously lends itself better to a regular Disney animated film, or so this catchy trailer would suggest. It does make for a less complicated Marvel movie that refrains from tieing into other Marvel movies for a change, diversifying the Marvel properties under Disney's control. Yet it remains faithful to the source material in keeping the (fictional) Japanese type of setting, though the characters don't seem all that South-East Asian, except for the robot himself which seems to come straight out of a Studio Ghibli film. This movie seems to do a great job of marrying the younger side of Marvel to the traditional Disney style, yet ensuring there's enough to enjoy for the adults in a way more reminiscent of Pixar. But what's up with keeping this one in the fridge for Dutch theaters for four months? That's just asking people - not me, I must say - to start downloading illegally! I thought Disney had learned their lesson on Up. Though waiting four months instead of six admittedly is a kind of progress.






woensdag 24 september 2014

Today's Double News: scorched by interview



Only two bits of news? Slow start of the week apparently.

http://www.moviescene.nl/p/157292/nieuwe_trailer_the_interview

So North-Korea is pissed off... at this? Only goes to show rude humour isn't that country's forte. You gotta put things into a relative perspective. Nobody is meant to take this seriously as anti-North Korean propaganda, it's too overtly rude and silly for that. It's not like the protagonists are the token Western good guys (far from it!), nor is the CIA portrayed in the most flattering light. Of course, the question is whether a similar approach taken to a movie about North Koreans plotting an assassination on President Obama would be equally funny (that is, if you think this trailer actually provides some successful jokes, which is all a matter of taste). How many North Korean movies make their way to the rest of the world for that matter? I wouldn't be surprised if there's plenty a movie with a similar theme in circulation in that part of the world already, we just don't hear anything about it. And I bet humour isn't their prime ingredient. Totalitarian states are by their very nature not particularly amusing. It would suit North Korea's own interests to stop making a fuss about this film, which only boosts attendance worldwide since everybody now wants to see for themselves what is ticking off Kim Jong-un so badly. I don't recall the Blessed Leader being so angry about another recent American movie which involves North Korea, the notable Red Dawn. In that much more seriously toned film, the American homeland is invaded in force by the stalinist state, which leaves a couple of heroic rebels (teenagers, for the most part, too) to wage guerilla war against the evil aggressor. Now that's what I call propaganda, but few people are even talking about that movie and most that do condemn it for its questionable political motives. The Interview, however, is just rude comedy. Of course, that doesn't mean 'anything goes' in the genre, but it does imply the audience should not take anything seriously, humourless dystopian agents with their own shady agenda included.




http://www.moviescene.nl/p/157313/vervolg_maze_runner_aangekondigd

Speaking of dystopias, those are always a blast in the pictures. The Maze Runner has shown not to be an exception in that regard, as it's doing quite well at the (North-American) boxoffice (it has yet to be released in most "foreign" territories). So the inevitable Hollywood conclusion is a sequel is warranted. And the word is we'll be getting one. Only one? Yes. Unlike with most contemporary sequel strategies, Fox is taking a somewhat more cautious approach to things by taking things one step at a time. I can only call that responsible planning. These days, studios tend to plan ahead several sequels and spino-offs over a decade before their predecessor has even properly hit theaters yet, and in many cases, that backfires on them financially (John Carter), or on us as an audience creatively (The Amazing Spider-Man 2). Still, studios don't seem to dare risk losing their momentum and so they inform audiences of their commitment to the franchise they hope to build by revealing too early what's in store. Same thing is currently happening with the suspiciously similarly themed Divergent, which already has three more movies lined up since it did well enough at the boxoffice (though certainly not as stellar as the superior equally suspiciously similarly themed The Hunger Games). Not so on The Maze Runner, which also has two books left to adapt, but there is as yet no word on filming the third (which I reckon their soon will be). So for now, only one sequel in progress. Release date: in less that a year's time. That soon?! Uh-oh, they better start running! Yes, that was a pun and a predictable one, but so is the fact movies dealing with teenagers stuck in a nasty dystopian future continue to sit well with their target audience of young adults. But that audience is growing up fast. Mark my words: that third movie will soon be up for an adaptation too, and it's undoubtedly split into two parts. Like I said, there is an momentum to consider and it may expire. And what's more, there's the potential of lots of money.


maandag 22 september 2014

Jurassic Park III: Raptor Attack Playset


Year of release: 2001

Accessories:
-Main Gate (with dino damage pieces)
-Five fence pieces
-Rocket Launcher (with two rockets)
-Net Launcher (with net)
-Alan Grant figure
-Velociraptor figure




Description: this play set consists entirely of repainted material. The fences, gate, net launcher and rocket launcher are all repainted accessories of those same sculpts found with the JPS1 Command Compound. The Grant and Raptor figure are the same as those of the Raptor Motorcycle Pursuit from this toy line, except different colours.
The fences are all painted in silver, giving them a metallic feel. This set comes with stickers, including some yellow ones that can be wrapped on the fences, so there’s a little sign saying ‘10,000 volts’, which is of course the voltage the fences in Jurassic Park on Isla Nublar had. Other than that there’s no more colour on the fences. The gate is much more detailed than the original JPS1 gate. The doors are now painted in various tones of brown, giving them a wooden feel. The pieces of dino damage have more of an orange paint job. The little flames on top of the gate aren’t just simply red this time, but have some tints of orange and yellow in them, making them slightly more realistic. The rest of the gate sports a silvery black paint job, again giving it a bit of a metallic feel. The net launcher is painted in an orange brown colour, making it feel like it’s been rusting away for some years after being abandoned and disused when Isla Sorna was vacated. It still works fine though, even better than the original one. It can fire a small net with silver weights on it over a distance of almost a metre (if lucky). The rocker launcher also does what it suggests: when loaded, pressing its button leads to the rocket being fired with force, impacting roughly on anything in its path. It comes with two dark grey rockets with slightly different shapes. The launcher itself sports a metallic dark grey look, with some brownish and black tones (again giving it a rusty feel), and an orange button.
The Alan Grant and Velociraptor figures are the same ones as those from the Raptor Motorcycle Pursuit, again with a different paint job. Grant wears a green shirt, blue bandana tan pants, black shoes and brown gloves. He stands in a neutral position, but his knees have joints in them so he can move his legs in multiple ways. The Velociraptor stands in a stalking position and has a dino damage wound. When pushing the back of his head, his jaws open. Strangely enough this Raptor sports a mostly green paint job, an odd choice considering none of the Raptors in any JP movie were green. Apart from the green his body is adorned with dark red stripes and light blue spots. His eyes are very yellow, and his claws aren’t coloured. A black JP III logo is located on his left leg.

Analysis: even though it’s all repaints, this is a good play set. People who remember the old JPS1 Command Compound can look back to that fantastic play set with nostalgic feelings when they see this play set, while the younger generation discovers parts of those good ol’ days through this new set which adds some much needed Kenner quality in the JP III Hasbro line. The paint job is no disappointment fortunately: many components even benefit from their new look. The paint jobs of the gate, rocket launcher and fences are very nicely done and have a much more realistic look to them. The net launcher also isn’t bad, though the lower parts of this particular apparatus are too orange and could have used more darker tones. The same goes for the dino damage pieces of the gate. It’s a good thing all the mechanisms work properly though: the rocket launcher still is a powerful weapon which fires missiles at objects with great speed and force, while the net launcher works even better than the original and hurls a net at unsuspecting prey, though catching its target requires precision, since it’s still hard to predict where the net will end up and whether it will hit anything because of its small size.
The Alan Grant figure is also a fine repaint. Though it still doesn’t sport the same outfit Grant wore in the movie, and the cowboy hat is ever missing, it looks good and realistic. Since it’s the best human figure Kenner produced, because of the neutral position and the extra leg movement, it’s a good thing they decided to add this particular figure to the set (though an entirely new figure would have been preferable of course). The Velociraptor is less a cause for enthusiasm though: it’s still not a great toy with all the flaws of the original version. The dino strike action still isn’t very imposing, its attack posture limits playability and makes the creature look fat, and the dino damage wound again can’t be covered up. The new paint job also isn’t helping: green just isn’t a Raptor colour. It would have been better had they made a new Raptor figure, or a different dinosaur altogether; it wouldn’t be a Raptor attack play set then, but a dinosaur attack set would also be suitable.



Playability: this set provides for some damn fine playability. All the features are functioning perfectly and the set has a fine look to it, making it seem like an old abandoned dinosaur pen which is withering away due to lack of maintenance, but still in working order, providing the humans with a place to make a stand against their ferocious prehistoric adversaries. The new paint job is great for the most part and adds some good realism. The only nuisance is the green Raptor figure, which still isn’t a great sculpt and sports a new colour which isn’t enhancing its overall look. Of course, one can argue that there is a much bigger nuisance here: it’s all repaints and none of it is original, Hasbro just ran out of ideas or didn’t bother making its own sculpts. A valid argument, but since this play set came out so well we can live with it and should be thankful they didn’t screw up Kenner’s great old work.

Realism: Grant still doesn’t look like Sam Neill or the Alan Grant in the movie, mostly because of the different outfit and the head sculpt. The Raptor’s colours are very unusual for a Raptor figure and not reminiscent of the look the Raptors sported in JP III at all. Other than that it’s not entirely paleontologically correct either: compared to the human figures it’s oversized (like all JP Raptors), its lower jaw is too long and the animal’s legs stand in such a position that this creature looks way too fat.
The other components of this set are not seen in any of the JP movies. Though the fences and gate are certainly reminiscent of the ones seen in JP and JP III, there are a lot of differences, mostly in scale and shape. There are also some notable similarities though, like the flames on top of the gate and the ’10,000 volts’ signs on the fences. One could argue they’re just typical toy versions of their movie counterparts. The rocket launcher and net launcher are totally made up though, and don’t look similar to the weaponry in any of the JP movies at all.

Repaint: yes. This set consists of repainted parts of the JPS1 Command Compound and JP III Wave I Raptor Motorcycle Pursuit only. There are no new parts whatsoever. None of these parts would be repainted a second time after the release of this toy though, at least so far.

Overall rating: 8/10. Though the Raptor is still a lousy figure, all the other parts are great and in some cases even better than the original versions. The set provides for some good playability, especially combined with other toys (from both this particular Hasbro toy line as well as Kenner’s various toy lines). It’s also a great set to have if you’re unlucky enough not to own a JPS1 Command Compound: this way you’ll have at least some parts of that magnificent old play set. It’s well worth getting, but it isn’t always easy to find. Chances are you’ll have to search for it a bit and it may not be very cheap, but it’s recommended anyway.

zaterdag 20 september 2014

Today's Triple News: interstellar African Ben-Hur




A new crop of news posts:

http://www.moviescene.nl/p/157290/meer_posters_interstellar_uitgebracht

2001 much? Interstellar not only reminds me of Kubrick's classic in a visual way - in terms of both the look of space and the design of the featured technology - but also in the way it connects the vast recesses of outer space to things closer to home, that wonderful human condition, like mankind's destructive process of evolving and the emotional and psychological ties we share with the home that is our Earth. No artificial doorways to other realms here though, this time it's wormholes that do the same trick (unless they're artificial wormholes, which also wouldn't be a novel notion). It makes for a striking picture nonetheless, as this new poster above reveals. Surely stuff worthy of IMAX, unlike the few pitiful titles released in that format in the months prior to Interstellar's release. And hey, if Interstellar echoes 2001 strongly enough, at least they won't feel the need to pointlessly remake that much beloved movie.

Unlike this next classic...


http://www.moviescene.nl/p/157256/jack_huston_wordt_ben-hur

There is some Jewish blood running through Huston's veins, but not enough to warrant him playing an ancient Jewish nobleman in that regard. Fortunately Huston is also a very talented actor, so that should put all other issues to rest in my mind. So far, Huston has astonished me with his grand performance of the battle scarred WW I veteran/skilled hitman Richard Harrow on HBO's Boardwalk Empire, while I've also enjoyed his parts in movies like American Hustle and Night Train to Lisbon. It'll be very interesting to see what he makes of Judah Ben-Hur, tormented by his Roman childhood friend, subjected to brutal slavery and enlightened by Christ. I could do without the latter component of the story, but it's hard to deny it's an essential ingredient to the story. It can't be delivered any worse - though some would say 'uplifting' instead - than the way it was in the 1959 film, and I still love that film despite it's in-your-face religious overtones. It will be even more interesting to see what Timur Bekmambetov makes of this as its director. This fairly straightforward epic doesn't really seem suited for his flamboyant, if not downright outrageous, visual and narrative style. Then again, considering the fantasy elements delivered by Ben-Hur's Christian subplot coupled with Bekmambetov's experience combining both the historical and the fantastic genres (see Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter, The Arena and the Night Watch films), it seems the studio has made the perfect directorial choice.




http://www.moviescene.nl/p/157289/angelina_jolie_regisseert_africa

The elephant plight is in desperate need of some worldwide attention, as these magnificent animals (and rhinos, too) are now in more danger of extinction than ever, due to the alarmingly increasing levels of poaching caused by the Chinese hunger for ivory and their complete disregard for wildlife. So I'm glad someone is tackling the subject and I hope it will be released in time to turn the tide. As for Angelina Jolie as the director, it's a solid choice considering she's serious about the need to highlight disturbing subjects like these to the public mind. I for one believe her work as a UNESCO ambassador is certainly more than just another movie star calling to attention the plight of others merely as a hobby. I don't deny her a sense of resolve. However, her directorial talents are still somewhat under dispute. So far only one of her directed features has been released (it was In the Land of Blood and Honey, if you recall), and it wasn't a particularly good film. Her upcoming movie Unbroken seems more promising though. And hopefully it will fulfill those promises, so Angelina will use her growing knowledge of the ins and outs of the directing craft to even better use for Africa. The elephants really would benefit from a movie about the ongoing butchering inflicted upon them, and it would only be to their advantage if it turned out to be a good one.

woensdag 17 september 2014

Today's Triple News: interstellar hunger island



Posting one news item a day keeps boredom away:

http://www.moviescene.nl/p/157230/nieuwe_trailer_hunger_games_mockingjay

That's it, no more games. Are we ready for a war? Because that's what we're getting, if this trailer for the first part of Mockingjay is any indication. It surely enhances the scope of the Hunger Games world, which until so far felt a bit too limited to the actual Games of the title, rather than flushing out the wonderfully dystopian world surrounding them. Thanks to the lucrative popularity of the previous two installments, it's clear the studio sure provided the budget necessary to put this war on screen in a visually grandiose way. However, the trailer also makes no mistake in revealing that it's still mostly about the characters. That's good, as there's a lot of them we're emotionally invested in and we want to know their plight. However, in the case of the obligatory love triangle - truly a staple of the popular young adult fantasy genre that studios don't dare to shed, because it draws so many scores of screaming teenage girls - between Katniss, Peeta and Gale, here's to hoping that particular bit of character development isn't going to take precedence over the rest of the story, as it's obvious there's a lot more at stake than just the lives of three love smitten teens, and most of it is far more interesting to behold. Like hovercrafts shot down by explosive arrows!




http://www.moviescene.nl/p/157247/nieuwe_poster_interstellar

I must admit I find this first post-teaser poster on the dull side. It's obvious Christopher Nolan still doesn't want to give too much of the plot away, so the new poster doesn't reveal any more than we already know, which is that Matthew McConaughey (pictured) plays an astronaut who travels through a wormhole (not pictured) with some scientists (not pictured) in hopes of finding a new planet for humanity to prosper on after they've made a mess of their own globe (not pictured, I think). The brave new world the protagonist encounters is seen on this poster - or so we are to believe judging from the trailer, which maybe we ought not to do - and it doesn't look too inviting. Maybe the tagline is deceiving us, maybe there's something else going on and we shouldn't judge a whole planet just by the appearance of a small region. After all, there's places on Earth that look like that too (which is where they shot the film, I reckon). Point is, this poster tells us nothing new about the movie. And since this is a Christopher Nolan movie, there's probably a lot more to tell, since they tend to be stuffed with exposition and plot angles. Can't say the same for the posters used to sell them to the audience.





http://www.moviescene.nl/p/157246/hiddleston_gaat_naar_skull_island

Interesting bit of casting here. Hiddleston isn't the kind of name I had expected to see in this type of old-fashioned adventure flick. But then, neither was arthouse/independent darling Adrien Brody in the 2005 King Kong and that worked out well enough. Besides, information still is sketchy about what this movie's plot actually involves, apart from humans visiting the eerie, barely habitable Skull Island prior to Kong thrashing the Big Apple. We're still even unsure about whether Kong himself will make any appearance at all in this film. There will be ferocious creatures present though, that's been established. Wouldn't be much of a Skull Island without creepy crawlies eating people. Hiddleston probably isn't one of those snacks, as he plays the protagonist. But what kind of character that entails is still kept in the dark. Maybe a sailor or some other nautically experienced type of everyman. Whatever it's gonna be, I'm glad to see Loki Hiddleston in this picture, as his performance in the Marvel Cinematic Universe was one of the finest comic book character interpretations to date, convincing me of his considerable prowess as an actor. And though this isn't based on a comic, the subject material isn't exactly far off either. As for the choice of director, I have nothing to say about his merits as I remain unfamiliar with his works, few as they are. I hope he's a type of upstart prodigy who will do the film justice, but I'm sure he's not gonna be the next Peter Jackson. Would have been nice to see PJ handling this film, but his King Kong story has been done and I doubt his heart would be in another.