Archive for September 2010

Star Wars Saga 3D In Theaters Starting in 2012. Lucas Gets His Paws in The 3D Money Ring.   2 comments

Hey Everybody,

I grew up watching the three original Star Wars films and let us just  say, they had a big impact on me.  The newer prequels, not so much. In 1999 watching Episode one , it was the first time I realized that nothing I ever watched again could capture my imagination like the movies I watched in my childhood.

I’m not just talking Star Wars.  Blade Runner, Raiders Of The Lost Ark, The Thing, The Shining, 2001, Apocalypse Now, The Terminator  just to mention a few, have made a stronger connection with me than most “blockbuster” fare ever could today  (with rare exception). I realize it might have been the frame of mind I was in as a kid watching them, open to new ideas, or it could be that most story tellers today are shit. I’m not exactly sure which it is yet.

Regardless, the marketing empire keeps on rolling with big news on the Star Wars front today.  Sources indicate that George Lucas is set to re-release the entire “Star Wars” franchise in new 3D conversions beginning in 2012. Though the 3D versions have been rumored for some time, Lucas was purportedly waiting until there were enough 3D screens available to make the release a sizable enough event.

Fox, which released all six of the original “Star Wars” films, would also release the 3D versions.

Part 1, “The Phantom Menace,” would be first out of star-dock in the early months of 2012. After that, each of the films would be released in order at the same time each consecutive year (meaning “Attack of The Clones” 2013,”Revenge of The Sith” 2014, “A New Hope” 2015, ” The Empire Strike Back” 2016 and “Return of The Jedi” 2016) depending on how well the first re-release does.

Each conversion takes at least a year to complete, with Lucas personally overseeing the process to make sure each one is as perfected as possible. Lucas has said that the “Avatar” experience convinced him that “Star Wars” was ready for the state-of-the-art 3D treatment.

Also pushing the timetable is a potential breakthrough in 3D television technology. With Samsung penetrating the market with 50,000-plus 3D-equipped televisions, and Sony planning to send its version to market in the coming months, the home-viewing experience could be primed for 3D DVD versions of the classic films by the time the new 3D series runs its course.

Lucas is purportedly queuing up the theatrical re-releases as a lead-in to the ultimate home viewing experience. Beyond that, the property would launch to all other 3D media.

We are also going to see a Blu-Ray set in 2012. Most likely one that has some more tinkering done to it. Hopefully Han shoots first again,  I can only hope.

And then who knows where Lucas will take Star Wars next? Possibly a 3D home version of the really great 1978 Star Wars Holiday Special ? See. Lucas hes been whoring our his creation from the start. Money Money Money Money Money Money Money Money Money Money Money Money Money Money Money Money Money Money Money

Wow, fucking unbelievable. If you actually made it through more than three minutes of that shit I’m impressed.

There was a lot of cocaine fueled decisions in the entertainment industry in the 70’s and 80’s.  And I’m thinking this might have been one of them. The individual who came up with that pitch must have been caught in a Colombian snow bank for a few weeks. And surprise surprise, they actually produced that shit. Amazing . Nice work on that one.

Till Next Time

J.

Fubar 2 Trailer Online. Fubar Blu-Rays In The Stores. Looks Like Someone Is Working The Marketing Right.   Leave a comment

Hey everybody,

I grew up with the guys that were in the first Fubar movie. I think they nailed “The (Head) Banger” phenomenon that roots feel strongly influences by Calgary Alberta Canada and growing up drinking a lot, making “one take” home sketch movies. The Blu-Ray is out in stores now, and when I saw it I had to pick it up. It surprisingly looks a lot crisper on Blu. Considering it was shot on standard def cameras it looks great in HD.

I think Michael Dowse has vision to see the real comedy genius in Paul Spence, David Lawrence and Gord Skilling. These guys have always liked to make people laugh, ever since we were kids I love the fact that we can see their work some where  besides theater sports. I think these guys should be working on a comedy series that needs strait up funny content. They are hilarious.

Now with the success of a first film come the inevitable cry for a sequel  from the so called executive types. With a movie like Fubar, it’s hard to capture magic like that again without spoiling the surprise factor of the characters and story telling medium. Take a look at the trailer which popped up online this week

It looks pretty good. Again, any content these guys do will end up being funny. I hope it gets even more attention and more box office dollars this time around. GOOD LUCK TO YOU GENTLEMEN.

till next time

J.

Hot Toys Brings The Original T-800 To Life In 1/6 Scale. And Boy Does That Shit Look Nice   Leave a comment

Hey everybody,

The original Terminator is still a great film, It kicks the shit out of that McG crap a few years ago. In 1984 we first got a taste of  director James Cameron’s real feel for kinetic storytelling, a great focus on design and vision on pushing the boundaries of special effects.

The movie also gave us Arnold Schwarzenegger as the cyborg killer from the future T-800 Terminator.

Hot Toys out of Honk Kong has just announced the 1984 version of the T-800 in 1/6 scale.figure  As usual the detailing is super sick.

The outfit is looking tight from the Tech Noir club scene, screen accurate down to the last detail.

The detailing is getting better on every figure hot toys has been producing in the last few years.

This Head sculpt looks nuts. Perfect likeness of the 1984 Arnold Schwarzenegger. Head Sculpted by Yulli, Head Painted by JC. Hong , Head Art Directed by JC. Hong. Absolutely Incredible.

They really seen to give their Schwarzenegger figures special attention. obviously big fans of the Terminator series at Hot Toys. This shit kick some serious ass,much like Arnold in many of his movies.

As usual I can’t wait to see what Hot Toys have in store for the future.

till next time

J.

shelves

Kubrick on Blu   Leave a comment

Hey everybody

One of my biggest deciders for me to start on a format change ( then-from VHS to DVD and now-from DVD to Blu-Ray) is how many Stanley Kubrick films are available on the format. He was the first person I ever recognized as a director and the more of his movies I saw and re-watched, the more I was drawn into his technical expertise, storytelling and amazing grasp of the film medium. There are few directors films that you can re-watch more than a hundred times and still see new things or get new insights from. Kubrick was the master director of all directors, with only 13 films he covered many genres and subjects all layered with so much visual information they are still studied today.

The level of detail in the Blu-Rays that are available is astounding. The fact that I look at movies shot in the 60’s, 70’s, 80’s and the visual quality is so superior to todays efforts shows you what a real perfectionist is capable of . That, and also most film makers today are pussies in comparison. It’s hard to top a guy  who would shoot on average 250-300 days with the quarter of the regular sized crew, 35-65 takes on average for every shot and still come in with a lower budget that 70 percent of  studio pictures. He was of God status at Warner Brothers and the film community as a whole. Never to see another picture of his is a sad notion each time I think of it.. I will surely miss looking forward to the next Stanley Kubrick picture.

Of Kubrick’s 13 films so far, 7 are available on Blu-Ray with one coming from Criterion soon and more rumored by Warner Brothers to be coming on next year. The first 5 Blu-Ray I brought two years ago were The Shining, A Clockwork Orange, Full Metal Jacket, Eyes Wide Shut and of course 2001:A Space Odyssey. All which are vast improvement on the previous DVD incarnations or “that visual crispness shit is sick on the Blu”.

Full Metal Jacket: special edition (1987)- This movie has never looked better, and in my living room to boot. The blacks are deep and the depth of the picture pulls you into the film like never before. The whole movie comes alive in a way not seen on DVD. The HD mastering was done with real care here. The documentaries and special features are a great treat for any Kubrick enthusiast.

Eyes Wide Shut (1999)- We here in North America finally have the original version of Kubrick’s final film without any bad CGed characters blocking the intended action. I feel this is a under rated film, it’s pure and classic Stanley. The lighting is other worldly in a dreamy “film land” version of New York, where the traditional marriage relationship in dissected as well as the underground life of the elite in America. The compositions and scenes become magnificently twisted as the story progresses to the climax of the sex cult of the super rich descends upon Cruise character.  A great film experience from a master. The picture is stunning on the Blu-Ray and again the documentary is great.

Clockwork Orange (1971)- This was known as Stanley’s “low budget film”. He had previously done 2001 for what was a big budget at the time, and wanted to prove that he could make a film for little money and in a short period compared to Space Odyssey. I love the the language from the Burgess novel that is used in the script. Most people need at least a few viewings to get the flow but once you wrap your head around the dialog you might not get everything as a literal translation, but you understand the story all the same.  The picture quality on the Blu-Ray has been criticized for looking muddy and almost out of focus. I think that all shit talking, it looks amazing compared to the DVD. You can see make up around one of the droogs eyes in yellow and green that you could never see before as well as a whole lot more detail.  The documentaries on the disc are worth the price alone. A must own on Blu.

The Shining (1980)- When talking about The Shining I find it hard to say anything bad. I’m sort of in love with this one.  The film amazes me, even after over a hundred viewings. This was the second disc to go into my PS3, I figured on Blu-Ray  it would just look a bit better. To my surprises it felt like I was seeing the film for the first time properly. Frankly, it made my balls tingle. The colors are rich and vibrant popping of the screen. I’ve seen this one on 35 mm film over twenty times and I think the Blu is a better experience over all. The next level of detail you get only strengthens Kubrick’s visuals, giving you a flawless representation of the film. The doc series continues here and it is the same caliber as the other Warner’s discs. Brilliant. A must own Blu-Ray.

2001: A Space Odyssey (1968)- 2001 is one of my all time favorite films. I love the fact that there is hundreds of answers to what it all ultimately means depending on your build in beliefs. For 1968 the age barely shows, with the transfer used for the Blu-Ray you finally get a faith representation of the intended look of the film. The two DVD print were terribly transferred, making the colors looks too dark or too light in some place. All in all a shit disc. I’ve seen 2001 projected a number of times and it looked better on a 25 year old 35mm print than on the DVD versions. This was the first Blu disc to go into my PS3 and I was blown away instantly. I sat down and watched the whole thing.  The image is crisp with grain and perfect image saturation. I watch this disc once a month now. It is unbelievable that the movie is 42 years old. The concept and story still hit me harder than anything today, a truly adult sci fi film made to make you think after. The real key is to lay back and let it wash over you with out thinking about too much during the viewing. The true genius of Kubrick is his ability to have a true experience with the viewing of his films. Upon viewing  you might not think the same way about the subject again. A great film which we can finally see as it was intended, and at home.  Thank you Warner Brothers, you finally got it right, nice work.

Dr. Strangelove or :How I Learned To Stop Worrying And Love The Bomb (1964)- The Doctor never looked so good.  3 amazing character roles played by Peter Sellers , almost 4. (He originally was going to be the bomber planes captain as well, but on the first day playing the role he fell out of the cockpit set that was suspended something like 25 feet above the ground and broke his leg. So he finished the rest of the movie doing three parts with a broken leg). As far as the transfer on the Blu-Ray, the black and white of Strangelove is made for HD with phenomenal depth of tone in the picture, a vast improvement on the previous DVD. I love all the performances layered with satire rarely able to be pulled off and rarely seen from an American director. Kubrick shows his power and intellect at a young age, dealing with much old more seasoned power house actors in Peter Sellers, George C. Scott and coming out of retirement Sterling Hayden as the bat nuts crazy General Ripper. The disc is loaded with special features and docs on the production, another great treatment of the material.

Spartacus (1960)-  This film was a real turning point for Kubrick. He was brought in as director after Kirk Douglas had a major falling out with the original director, Anthony Mann. According to Peter Ustinov one of the uncredited writers, the salt mines sequence was the only footage shot by Mann. Stanley was not given control of the script, which he felt was full of stupid moralizing. After Spartacus, Kubrick always kept full control over all aspects of his films. The Criterion SD-DVD (Standard Def DVD) release is the disc to beat so far. In 1991 it was restored  by Robert Harris, who has said that he considers the Criterion SD-DVD “color and density correct.” So let’s leave the previous Universal SD-DVD and certainly the troublesome HD-DVD aside and address how this new 1080p Blu-Ray looks beside the Criterion.  The film is undeniably cleaner in the Blu-ray presentation, with that digitally scrubbed look which argues to DNR. The color saturation has a slight, tilt toward the red-yellow side of the spectrum on the Universal 5oth Anniversary Edition Blu-Ray. I still hope Criterion is given back the rights to do a Blu-Ray at some point to get back the proper color tones.  I would wait on this one if I were thinking of buying it, to see if a better transfer pops up.

Paths of Glory (1957)- On October 26th Criterion is releasing Kubrick’s anti war epic starring Kirk Douglas. This is a marvelous film that moves very quickly for 1957. Douglas plays Colonel Dax, commander of a battle-worn regiment of the French army along the western front during World War I. Held in their trenches under the threat of German artillery, the regiment is ordered on a suicidal mission to capture an enemy stronghold. When the mission inevitably fails, French generals order the selection of three soldiers to be tried and executed on the charge of cowardice. Dax is appointed as defense attorney for the chosen scapegoats, and what follows is a travesty of justice that has remained relevant and powerful for decades. In the wake of some of the most authentic and devastating battle sequences ever filmed, Kubrick brilliantly explores the political machinations and selfish personal ambitions that result in battlefield slaughter and senseless executions. The film is unflinching in its condemnation of war and the self-indulgence of military leaders who orchestrate the deaths of thousands from the comfort of their luxurious headquarters. For many years, Paths of Glory was banned in France as a slanderous attack on French honor, but it’s clear that Kubrick’s intense drama is aimed at all nations and all men. Though it touches on themes of courage and loyalty in the context of warfare, the film is specifically about the historical realities of World War I, but its impact and artistic achievement remain timeless as Kubrick himself.

Can’t wait to get my hands on this one.

The set includes:

  • New, restored high-definition digital transfer
  • New audio commentary by critic Gary Giddins
  • Television interview from 1979 with star Kirk Douglas
  • New video interviews with Jan Harlan, James B. Harris and Christiane Kubrick
  • Excerpt from a French television program about real-life World War I executions
  • Theatrical trailer
  • PLUS: An essay by Kubrick scholar James Naremore

Waners has revealed that both Lolita (1962) and Kubricks period master piece Barry Lyndon (1975) are being preped for HD transfers now and are going to be released in 2011. Hopefully the same attention to detail goes into them as The Shining, FMJ, 2001. EWS and Clockwork transfers. I’m particularly interested to see Barry Lydon, with how it was filmed an HD transfer can only help see detail as it was meant to be seen. The candle light scenes will be perfection.

As far as the MIA titles…

Fear and Desire (1953) – The seldom seen film about a fictitious war, following  solders on a mission to kill a commanding officers. The movie was sold and played briefly in the theaters in the US. Kubrick took it out of circulation in  the late 50’s early 60’s. He wasn’t so happy with his first attempt at a dramatic story telling, so he buried the movie. DVD copies are next to impossible to film with any kind of good print. I figure it will never seen the light of day on Blu-Ray. I’m sure that is what Stanley wanted. you can find bootleg copies on ebay and online if you really want to check it out.

Killer’s Kiss (1955)- The first of two decisively film noir pictures of Kubrick’s. The down and out boxer verses the rich gangster for the girl, pure pulp story line. This is where Kubrick starts to show his flare with lighting and understanding of photography which only comes from a practiced hand, remember he was a staff photographer for look at the age of 17. Five years of talking picture professionally helps you develop a pretty good eye for lens choice and composition. Even though it didn’t make much money theatrically it got Kubrick noticed by the studios and major actors. My hope is that Criterion has already picked up this title for release in the future as MGM owns the right for  Killers Kiss, the Killing and Paths of Glory, will MGM’s financial woes as of late I’m sure the tile is up for grabs to Criterion. I hope they grab that shit fast.

The Killing (1956)- A great race track robbery story with a cast of all star character players. Well for the time, Sterling Hayden, Collen Gray, Vince Edwards, Jay C. Flippen,Ted de Corsia, Marie Windsor, Elisha Cook Jr. and Joe Sawyer all had a hundred roles plus in their careers as character actors.  This is one of my favorite films of the 50’s. A great tone, brilliant photography, a strong voice over,  a great” bad ass” strong man in Hayden and a “fuck you” ending that really works, that I won’t ruin for anyone who hasn’t seen  the film. You can’t be a real film connoisseur without knowing this one inside and out. A classic must see noir. I hope I hope I hope Criterion is working on this one for Blu-Ray release. Something tells me they just might be keeping it up there sleeve, for now.

Warner Brothers continues to delivers the best treatments of their classic film library on HD. I can only hope it continues with the final few releases of Kubrick’s work, which I am looking forward to very much. If you couldn’t tell that already…

RIP Stanley Kubrick 1928-1999. Long live the spirit of a true master. LONG LIVE  THE NAME OF KUBRICK.

till next time.

J.

Discs Like Yojimbo/ Sanjuro Blu Ray Set Is Why I Love The Criterion Collection Company.   Leave a comment

Hey everybody
Been watching a few of my favorite samurai movies Akira Kurosawa’s Yojimbo (1961) and Sanjuro (1962).  The Criterion Collection Blu-Ray sets picture quality is astounding, for two black and white films shot almost 50 years ago in Japan you expect their age to show in the HD transfer, but just the opposite.

Akira Kurosawa was an amazing film maker,  always the most amazing composition and attention to detail. The picture quality has never been better with these films, the images are super sharp and the depth of the blacks are amazing. The use of almost all long lenses in this film give a sharp focus with little dept of field, still the picture never looks out of focus, a true show case of what a master focus puller can do. Kurosawa always brought out the best in his crew from production design to camera work, all well show cased on these Blu-Rays.

The striking physical performance from star Toshiro Mifune as the ronin samurai Sanjuro is my real reason I love these films and keep coming back to them. Everything from the speed and skill he uses his sword, to the great attitude he embodies as an anti hero of comic book proportions, being able to strike down ten opponents in ten seconds with out taking a hit and making it believable in context of the film.

Yojimbo made Mifune a international star in the 60’s and 70’s going on to do 170 films in his career. He is great as this character making Yojimbo and Sanjuro timeless classics and must see for all film fans and what better time to see them than now when you can see them in the best presentation possible in your own living room with  The Criterion Collection Blu-Ray discs.

Till Next Time.

J.

Wolverine 2 director rumors look promising, but again it is a Fox Marvel movie.   Leave a comment

Hey Everybody,

Before you start this article has some major ranting about the quality of Fox Studios Marvel Movies no holds bared, colorful language and all. You’ve been warned, feel free to read on.

Oh no 20th Century Fox, here we go again….

I’ve been a pretty big comic enthusiast since I was a kid, Wolverine, X-Men, Fantastic Four and Daredevil were among my favorites as a lad. In the last decade 20th Century Fox has continually butchered the best and most epic Marvel story lines with few exceptions.

(2003) Fuck Up # 1-Daredevil- Director Mark Steven Johnson started with Frank Miller’s brilliant Dardevil stories and $90 million dollars, which  turned into a bad action movie with one dimensional characters, shitty CG and a complete raping of the love story between Electra and Matt Murdock which completely negates the death of Electra in the third act of the movie. Why should audience care about a relationship which started a few days before, instead of the way Miller originally wrote it? ( a long passionate”love of a life time” college romance that ended because of Electra’s father taking her away only to meet again more than a decade later in the battle field of the marvel universe) The death of Electra in the comics is raw,emotional, and plainly, EPIC.

(2005) Super Fuck Up #2- Fantastic Four- I was really looking forward to this one when I heard they were finally making it. I started to get frightened after hearing really bad casting news and a director that on the shoot hadn’t actually fully read any of the original origin comics which the movie was based on. ( I had more than 50 friends who worked on the production here in Vancouver BC Canada and they were amazed how little the director cared about the source material) Tim Story shouldn’t have been directing a comic book movie based on a comic he obviously didn’t give a shit about. So what does Fox do? Give him a sequel to fuck up as well. Which brings us to…

(2006) Big Dick Contest #3- X3:Last Stand- Now after Fan 4 I thought it couldn’t get any worse. Fox pissed on my first favorite Marvel Comic team. At least Brian Singer put together a few good X men movies. X2 set up the Dark Phoenix nicely with the last shot of that film. I was excited for X3 after that last scene, finally I was going to get to see a big screen Dark Phoenix Saga story. Then Brian Singer and Fox has a few differences of opinions on what his salary should be, so he left to do Superman Returns. The release date for Superman gets announced and Fox, a week later puts X3’s release the same date with no script, few or no major cast members signed and no director attached. Sounds like the way to treat your best preforming franchise.  Now at this point Fox does lured in Matthew Vaughn to take the directing reins (Layer Cake, Stardust,Kick Ass). He some how gets Kelsey Grammer to sign on to get in full make up for over a hundred days shoot, to play Hank McCoy/Beast (great casting),  the unsigned major cast sign on to the movie at far less than their regular salaries and puts together some direction to take the production, all in a month or so.

With no cohesive script or story direction Vaughn asked Fox to push back the release date considerably to be able to focus more on the story quality. Fox’s response was, NO FU@KING WAY!!!  So a hard, but right decision was made and the production was again without director, scheduled to go to camera in less than three months. With no real script, a great cast signed and set being build here in Vancouver they did what a mental patient on mushroom would do, bring on Brett Ratner to direct the film or to shit in loyal fans mouths depending on how you look at it. A guy who is more concerned that the waitress knows who he is and that he is directing X men 3 than anything to do with the movie he is directing. Not showing up for shooting for a few days with no one knowing where he was, 220 crew plus getting payed to drink coffee. Not to mention kill the best story line in the Marvel universe in my opinion by making the Dark Phoenix a bad D side plot. Fuck Me !(Now before you ask how I know these things, I had many friends that worked on this picture and was working with Fox at the time on another picture in Vancouver. I had many many conversations with the heads of Fox about Ratner and his attitude towards the picture) He didn’t give a shit obviously by the end result. Total shit storm of epic proportions. If you know the X-Men story lines from the comics you know the missed opportunity here, the people who made the movie still don’t. What Stupid Heads.

(2007) Super Fantastic Fuck Up #4- Fantastic Four 2:Rise Of The Silver Surfer- Besides the execution of the Silver Surfer flying effect, the movie was a complete shit fest. All of a sudden they attempt to fix the look of all the character that were criticized for being too unlike the comic. The Blond hair/ blue eyes on Alba, Dr. Doom’s suit changes. But the biggest embarrassment to the production design is the cloud that is in place of Galactus, a giant alien being that devours worlds . The fight between the giant super being and the Fantastic Four team in the comic is again epic in scale. The entire world is at stake and the silver surfer is the key. A really great read, a huge disappointment in the translation to  the movie and frankly a slap in the face to Stan Lee and Jack Kirby’s original vision and story. Tim Story and Fox should be very embarrassed about these movies. An utter shit sandwich.

(2009)A Hundred and Forty Million Dollar Limp Dick #5- X-Men Origins: Wolverine- If it wasn’t for Huge Jackman as Logan, Liev Schreiber as Victor Creed aka Sabertooth and the small part that Ryan Reynolds Dead Pool got to play before fucking  him up, this movie would have been border line unwatchable. I love the World War 2 opening(wish there was more of that era) and the ideas of how old Logan and Victor’s relationship really is, but for a movie that cost $140 million dollars the technical mistakes take you out of the story enough to make it annoying to watch. Terribly obvious CG actor doubles, bad green screen back grounds that look like temp plates are the worst of this. You really want this story to work while you are watching it despite all it’s flaws, mostly because Jackman understands how to play the Wolverine character that has made him a action star and he’s a great actor making non existent material feel like it is going some where. But unfortunately it really doesn’t ever go any where good after about 45 minutes in, the last fight with Reynolds Dead Pool is a pile of steaming shit (for the record Dead Pool never got Scott Summers “laser vision” or was his mouth ever covered over to stop his shit talking)  even if you don’t know the proper comic story line, it feels like a tagged on ending trying to up the action of the picture that lags in story content, and frankly lacked any kind of real ending.

Which brings us to the story of at hand…

(2011) Wolverine 2- There is a screenplay based on the Frank Miller/ Chris Claremont’s four part comic mini series from screen writer Christopher McQuarrie (The Usual Suspects, Way of The Gun, Valkyrie) which takes Wolverine to Japan. This is a great story line and McQuarrie is a talented writer capable of delivering the goods. The most interesting news it the last two candidates rumored to be up for the directing gig. David Slade (Hard Candy, 30 Days of Night, Eclipse) and Darren Aronofsky ( Pi, Requiem For a Dream, The Fountain, The Wrestler, Black Swan).

I’m hoping that we get us an Aronofsky directed Wolverine picture. That would be a dream at this point. Maybe Fox will make the right decision on this one. Mathew Vaughn is back at Fox shooting X-Men First Class right now, which sounded like a horrible idea until he came on board as director. Now it seems to be one to look out for.

Keeping my fingers crossed for Aronofsky and Jackman to pair up again and end this lack of story focus and proper directing talent paired with the right project at 20th Century Fox. There’s still the reboot of Daredevil and Fantastic Four to worry about. What chumps do they have lined up this time. Only time will tell.

more to come soon.

J.
Read the rest of this entry »