Tuesday, January 29, 2013

The Whisperer in the Darkness

This is the latest film from the people who brought back the silent film to bring us "The Call of Cthulu". Unlike the earlier film this one is more modern in look and feel... but not by much. It recalls the style of the Universal horror classics and does a damn good job of it. 

This is company that knows it has limited resources and makes the most of them. While some of the film is slow (there is a good 15 minutes that could easily had been cut out and no one would have noticed) the intention and spirit of Lovecraft is respected and certainly present. There is one scene in particular that is fairly gruesome and disturbing. Other scenes use animation maybe not possible with the 30's tech this film imitates faithfully in most places, but even those effects seem in place for this project. 

Trying to explain a Lovecraft story is difficult at best and filming one, even harder. Changes must be made and visual choices to show what is indescribable can go either way with viewers but these guys get 100 points for effort and for actually getting it done when much more monied studios can't even get past the planning stages for putting Lovecraftian chills on the screen. 

Saturday, January 12, 2013

The "New" tech of the Hobbit

If you want a review of the film, not the tech, check out the excellent review on "The Movie Wrench". 

With the release of the Hobbit came a slew of new, not so new and fairly old technology that's all been heralded at some time or another as the "future of cinema". While the future is not easy to predict, it's not too early to pass some judgement on these advances... if in fact they are. 

This has been the future since the 50's and I have to say that watching The Creature from the Black Lagoon in three dimensions is much more entertaining than any of the films released recently. It is headache producing, eyes straining and lends itself to excessively obvious shots of things pointed directly at your face with no reason to do so. 

IMAX screen
Again, not so new an idea as bigger and bigger screens were quite the thing on and off in movie theatres since they began. On the positive side, these new screens are not just bigger but clearer, have much more depth and the sound is amazing. This really does give you the larger than life feeling we want from a night at at the movies. The set back to this is the price... paying a lot more for what should maybe be standard if you want to compete with 80 inch TVs which let you watch for free and in your own home. 

High Frame Rate
While still not totally new (Douglas Trumbull - a god of cinema effects and tech) has been trying to get up to 70 frames per second (FPS) in our local movie houses for decades. Unfortunately in the Hobbit, this aspect of the film is hard to separate from the 3D. The images are 48FPS not 70 but even that might look either "hyper real" or "fake and video like" depending on each person's tolerance for the technique. The colour and sharpness is beautiful however when the images are up to the technology. People's faces can look odd at first and some action sequences look like they have been animated with puppets one frame at a time since there is almost zero blur. It makes any kind of special effect that much harder to pull off realistically, at least for now. 

The future could easily be comprised of IMAX and high frame rates but 3D is still something that time has never arrived and likely never will come to pass as something many people will want to see beyond the gimmick.