Tag Archive: cgi


After a highly publicised problematic time in production which included delays to the release date, location changes, problems with the Hungarian government and new writers being hired to rewrite the ending, World War Z has finally been released in cinemas.

World War Z is a globe trotting apocalyptic action adventure about the human race’s battle for survival against the fast spreading disease turning people to zombies. At the centre of this ‘war’ is Gerry Lane (Brad Pitt), a former UN investigator who is forced to return to his old job to help locate the source and a cure for the disease in exchange for the safety of his family. Lane’s journey takes him all around the world, from South Korea to Israel and eventually to Wales where he hopes that he can find a way to prevent the disease from spreading any more than it already has done.

The film opens with a brief introduction to Gerry and his family life, his wife and two daughters providing the emotional attachment to the central character who identifies with the audience as this sympathetic family man. And about ten minutes later World War Z erupts with excitement and begins to roll at breakneck pace with the attack on Philadelphia setting the bar very high as the, albeit poorly CGI’ed, zombies launch a full scale attack and Marshall law is enforced. The Lanes manage to escape to an apartment block, where Pitt gets to excel in a more action oriented role and takes out several more zombies, before they are saved. And Pitt is eventually landed with the mission of saving the world.

So with the world’s hope weighing heavy upon his shoulders Pitt takes the journey to South Korea and things show no signs of slowing down. As soon as they step off the plane zombies arrive and death follows closely behind. Inside the safe haven Pitt receives information from a random prisoner who seems to have no purpose other than to make sure Pitt ends up going to Jerusalem (pretty convenient that he was there really). This prisoner also offers a really clever but subtle insight into how other countries are dealing with the epidemic: North Korea have extracted the teeth of all of its civilians to stop the disease spreading through bites.

In Jerusalem the battle wages on and on and here is where Pitt teams up with an annoyingly trigger happy Russian soldier played by Daniella Kertesz. The action here in Jerusalem is really exciting and the pace of World War Z never seems to let up even for a minute throughout the first hour. However, once on the plane (a really really fantastic scene somewhat ruined by the fact that it is in ALL of the trailers) the film seems to take a twist of direction and the pace slows and an attempt to inject some real drama replaces it; the only other signs of drama coming from Pitt’s on screen wife holding a telephone and hugging her children.

 

On the plane you get this sort of “previously on World War Z” segment where you are shown once more the bits that you thought were unimportant from the first half of the film and why they are important now, as Pitt cleverly pieces together the clues as they land in Wales (of all places) to put an end to the spreading of the zombie disease.

The final act which takes place in Wales is not at all bad, but it slows the pace so much that it seems a far cry from the beginning of World War Z. Here, suspense is built and the film begins to seem like it is being character driven rather than action driven with Pitt becoming a much more engaging character at the end that he has been before. There are some places in which it seems like the zombies don’t really pose a serious threat but these are made up for with some great fight scenes throughout and a genuine fear portrayed by other cast members.

There seems to be a growing argument around the internet that Damon Lindelof can not write a good ending. And with the climax quickly tied up in a not too neat monologue delivered by Pitt there seems to be more ammunition to fire at the writer. With a really entertaining first half, a slightly weaker but still engaging second half it is more than worth the poor ending. Brad Pitt’s proves that he alone can still be a box office draw and, even at fifty years old, the world is still a safe place in his hands.

 

My Rating: 7/10.

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It’s not very often that someone comes along and changes the way that films are made. There are rare moments in the modern movie industry where such significant leaps are made to enhance movie viewing. Ray Harryhausen is one of the most famous pioneers of special effects technology ever to grace the industry. Unfortunately, the sad news has been broken today that this pioneer has passed away at the wonderful age of 92.

Ray Harryhausen was a visual effects legend (and that is no less than he deserves) and he pioneered the stop motion movement. He brought stop motion to the big screen; hand crafting and painting his figures and then shooting them frame by frame in a long, tedious process that eventually ended up contributing to some of the most famous films of all time.

Harryhausen’s work can be seen in films such as The Golden Voyage of Sinbad and Sinbad and the Eye of the Tiger, but his two most famous contributions were to Jason and the Argonauts and Clash of the Titans, it seems even the incredible CGI advances can’t help make a modern Clash of the Titans better than the stop motion original. Jason and the Argonauts produced some of the best special effects seen at the time: the multiple headed Hydra and the skeleton soldiers rising from the ground to name but two.

Compared to modern special effects Harryhausen’s work does look dated, but his contribution to the movie industry cannot be underestimated and his presence will forever be recognised. He may not have been a director but when the films featured Harryhausen’s animation work, they were HIS films.

This brilliant video puts together all of Ray Harryhausen’s creatures together…

UK Release Date: 21st June 2013.

Stars: Marc Forster (director), Brad Pitt, Mireille Enos, David Morse, James Badge Dale, Eric West, Matthew Fox.

Plot: United Nations employee Gerry Lane traverses the world in a race against time to stop the Zombie pandemic that is toppling armies and governments, and threatening to decimate humanity itself.

I don’t normally post new trailers for films that I have already looked at unless I am desperately excited to see a certain film. That’s not the case with World War Z. The reason I have decided to look at this trailer after examining the first here, is that the originally trailer was met with a lot of skepticism surrounding its faith to the original novel and the bad CGI. So is this new trailer any better?

Well the way the trailer is set up it seems to be the same before. A peaceful little section of Pitt’s nice, loving family is then broken up by lots of scenes of panic and the mountain of zombies. What I can deduce from this trailer is that it seems like the CGI on the zombies won’t be TOO important because there will be so many jump cuts flying around you’ll barely see them, especially behind the explosions.

The books is a best seller and people love it because it’s not just a brainless zombie epic, which unfortunately it looks as though the film will be. But studio execs need to put bums on chairs (and maybe Brad Pitt’s name alone isn’t enough to do that anymore?).

World War Z comes complete with mid-air plane siege as seen in The Dark Knight Rises and Iron Man 3.

1939 saw the release of arguably the most iconic film of all time: The Wizard of Oz. Since then, no film has really managed to touch audiences as much as this and influence pop culture in such a fashion. The red slippers, the yellow brick road, the Wicked Witch of the West, the cowardly lion, tin man without a brain and a scarecrow without a heart are all easily recognised and associated with The Wizard of Oz. So why on Earth have Disney decided to try and even come close to the original with Oz: The Great and Powerful.

It should be noted that Oz: The Great and Powerful is not a direct prequel to the 1939 film. It is in fact a prequel to the original novel The Wonderful Wizard of Oz due to some complicated copyright business. James Franco is Oscar ‘Oz’ Diggs, a small time magician/con artist who is transported to the magical land of Oz, where he meets three witches and is said to make the prophecy come true and become the king of Oz.

James Franco is an actor who seems to love trying to add strings to his bow, however as any good huntsman will tell you one string is all a bow needs. Fantasy is the latest in a long line of genres Franco has had mixed success in along with comedy, drama, science fiction, superhero films. And it has to be said that fantasy is not a genre Franco looks at all comfortable with. Based on this performance alone I would be surprised if anyone ever let him loose with CGI again; his vision and hands and everything else was all over the place. His performance was elevated thanks to actual on screen actresses in his presence and when this happened (particularly in the scenes with Michelle Williams) Franco actually looked like a professional actor.

The beginning of the film, set in black and white and pushed back into a smaller frame in homage to the original film, is poor at best. Supposedly set in 1907 the dialogue and persona of the characters really lets Oz down. I found it hard to get into the film with poor performances for the first fifteen minutes or so and Oz being quite frankly, a very hard character to like.

As the film goes on Oz: The Great and Powerful does appear to get better but it has more ups and downs than Oz’s hot air balloon ride that got him there. The problem with this being a prequel is that the audience already know where the story leads, but in this case it feels as though the producers of the film have no idea where it is going. On the surface, though, there is a lot to enjoy thanks to incredibly well put together CGI displays and the intricate work done on the flying baboons is fantastic.

The supporting cast does very little to help the film with the exception of Michelle Williams and Joey King who both perform their roles as well as they could. This isn’t a performance that Mila Kunis or Rachel Weisz can be proud of and either with their characters being rather poorly written and just firing information at us as if they were telling us every single thought which we really do not need to hear. Zach Braff as Oz’s first real friend Finley the monkey provides a few much needed laughs but there are a lot of jokes that really miss the mark… by a lot.

There is already a sequel in the works but it is going to need a much better script, much better performances and any sign of a sense of direction because you won’t find that in Oz: The Great and Powerful.

My Rating: 5/10.

There’s a mixture of good, bad and just plain weird news this week. First of all there was the good news that the Godzilla reboot was looking to take itself seriously and add some serious acting talent to the cast. Aaron Taylor-Johnson was, until recently, the only actor attached to the project (set for a 2014 release) but this week both Elizabeth Olsen (Silent House) and Bryan Cranston (Breaking Bad) have joined up.

 

A mixture of news in the sequel business this week. The good news first is that Albert Brooks, the voice of Marlin in Finding Nemo, WILL be back for the sequel which already has seen Ellen Degeneres return for her part as Dory. This is good news as you couldn’t really have the film without him; we followed him on his journey all the way through the original film and it would be pretty harsh on Nemo to kill off his dad considering his mum has already bitten the sea’s equivalent to dust. Marlin was the most important, and in my opinion the best, character in Finding Nemo so I’m pleased to see Brooks back. Oh… the bad news is that Night at the Museum 3 is being made which we really don’t need to see after the shambles of the second one.

 

After the success of Ted last year Seth MacFarlane’s next project is going to put him in the lead role once more, this time in live action mode rather than as a CGI teddy bear. It will be a comedy western entitled A Million Ways to Die. We already knew this but this week Amanda Seyfried has been added to the cast. Seyfried (of Mean Girls and Les Miserables fame) will play the wife that leaves MacFarlance’s character to plunge the whole story into motion. Charlize Theron is also set to star.

 

And finally, some really WEIRD and completely unexpected news. Sony has a little project in the pipeline entitled Dodge & Twist which is a sequel update reworking …it’s just a completely new story about Oliver Twist. This story sees Oliver Twist twenty years older than when he was a pickpocketing child and he encounters old rival Artful Dodger who is now on the right side of the law. Twist gets wrapped up in a plan to steal the Crown Jewels and has Artful Dodger in hot pursuit. Interesting…?

UK Release Date: 25th January 2013

Stars: Taylor Hackford (director), Jason Statham, Jennifer Lopez, Michael Chiklis, Nick Nolte, Wendell Pierce

Plot: A thief with a unique code of professional ethics is double-crossed by his crew and left for dead. Assuming a new disguise and forming an unlikely alliance with a woman on the inside, he looks to hijack the score of the crew’s latest heist.

Jason Statham’s career over the past few years has been a little bit hit and miss; The Expendables and Safe went down pretty well whereas Crank 2 and Blitz just haven’t particularly impressed a lot of people. Couple this with the fact that Jennifer Lopez is in this film (and she is an atrocious actress) then you may not want to see Parker. But watching the trailer you can tell that this is Jason Statham at his finest; wise-cracking, ass kicking and he is even a good actor!

There are things throughout this trailer that would interest the real Statham fans and fans of the action genre in general. I love watching Jason Statham films and I love seeing his fight scenes as they are some of the best around in modern films in my opinion. In a time where films are full of CGI and actors just fighting made up creations of animators it is refreshing to see Statham going hand to hand with foes.

Whilst obviously Parker will be nothing special in the broad spectrum of films it will be an hour and a half of fun and that is guaranteed. There are some humorous lines through the trailer although “I always follow through” sounds more like a bad case of diarrhoea than something that would strike fear into the heart of enemies.

 

Sometimes when you see a trailer for a film it can either make you really want to go and see that film or it can make you decide that there is no way you are going to see that film if not even the trailer looks good! I felt the latter about Rise of the Planet of the Apes when it was released last year. However, a friend of mine asked me to go and see this film with him and, never being one to turn down a trip to the cinema no matter how bad a film looks, I went along. I went into the screen expecting to be twiddling my thumbs for an hour and a half; I did not expect to be sat there having my heartstrings played with by a CGI invention but this is what actually occurred!

Rise of the Planet of the Apes is the story of Will (James Franco) and Caesar (Andy Serkis).  Will is a bright young scientist working on ALZ-112, otherwise known as a cure for Alzheimer’s disease, and is desperate for his cure to be put into a phase of human trials after successful trials on apes. This is because Will’s father is suffering from Alzheimer’s and Will cannot cope with his father’s illness and the suffering it is putting the family through. After ‘Bright Eyes’ goes rogue at the lab, all chimpanzees have to be put down. This is where Will and chimp handler Franklin (Tyler Labine) find a new born baby chimp, soon to be known as Caesar. Caesar instantly shows signs that he inherited the ALZ-112 drug from his mother and his intelligence charts off the scale for a chimpanzee. Although this is fantastic new for Will at first, events take their toll as Caesar grows older and more ambitious.

In truth this is not one of James Franco’s best performances but that doesn’t mean it’s a bad performance, just not neccassarily as good as one might expect from a man who put in a terrific performance in 127 Hours and managed to grab an audience’s attention and hold it all by himself for ninety minutes. However, his friendship with Caesar is truly believable. Tyler Labine, Brian Cox and David Oyelowo put in an adequate shift, John Lithgow as Will’s father is one of the best performances whilst Tom Felton and Freida Pinto seemed to be competing in a competition of who could act worse. But the real star, of course, is Andy Serkis as Caesar. Serkis has made a name for himself in motion capture performance with roles as Gollum in Lord of the Rings and King Kong in Peter Jackson’s remake of the classic film. Here, Serkis is once again brilliant; his emotion he brings to the character make Caesar one of my favourite characters (and one of the best characters) of this century.

Caesar’s relationships with the human characters are wonderful to watch. Will and Caesar soon have a mutual respect for each other as Caesar soon becomes one of Will’s closest and only friends where he one was just a test subject. Caesar develops a heart-warming relationship with Will’s dad and some of the most touching scenes take place between these two. So for a film that bases so much of it’s development and early story on relationships it seems almost implausible that there is this ridiculous love story happening at the same time between Franco and Pinto’s characters which really adds little to the overall story.

You’d be surprised how emotionally captivating and driven Caesar can be to say he is just computer generated. His creation is a wonderful credit to the visual team on Rise of the Planet of the Apes and Andy Serkis himself. But it is not just Caesar, in the final act there are hundreds of primates running about the town and the special effects are wonderful – the special effects in this film are among the best that I have ever seen. You would honestly think that they were real chimpanzees at times.

The final act is fantastic. There is the climatic battle on the bridge between humans and apes that audiences have waited for since the beginning of the movie with seeds planted leading to this moment for a while. And it does not disappoint; the action is directed superbly and everything happens so smoothly – it really is great to watch and exciting as the apes bring down the police force and war wages throughout the streets.

There were obviously a few things that annoyed me (besides Freida Pinto’s involvement in the film). Most notably, the fact that in the first twenty five minutes eight years pass by and the only character that ages is Caesar. I know it was important to speed through this so that we could get to Caesar’s story as a grown ape but at least make James Franco and the rest of the cast look eight years older. How hard is it to do that when you’re creating hundreds of apes? Come on.

Anyway, Rise of the Planet of the Apes is a very emotional and touching film, not just a nonsense popcorn flick which many people seem to mistakenly believe it to be. I went in with a negative approach and I really enjoyed it, there are some shocks, some great action, fantastic character development in Caesar and a great ending setting up the sequel, Dawn of the Planet of the Apes, very nicely indeed.

My Rating: 7/10.

UK Release Date: 3rd August 2012.

Ted is the upcoming live action/CGI animated film that is directed, written and produced by Seth MacFarlane and so if the film goes well, all credit to him, if it goes badly MacFarlance only has himself to blame. Since creating hit animated television shows Family Guy and American Dad, MacFarlane has tasted success but also splits audiences right down the line, for all the fans he has he sure does have his haters too.

Ted is the story of a young boy’s wish coming true. When he was younger, John wished that his teddy bear (Ted) could come to life and talk to him. As John got older, Ted also got older and as an adult John’s attempts to embrace his adulthood and move forward in a relationship with the love of his life, Lori, are scuppered by Ted’s irresponsible and vulgar lifestyle.

For Seth MacFarlance’s live action directorial debut he has got a pretty good cast on his hands. Mark Wahlberg plays John while Mila Kunis plays Lori and the cast is filled out with Giovanni Ribisi, Patrick Warburton and Laura Vandervoort.

Whilst you may not be able to tell this from the trailer, Ted is supposed to be a comedy and not just a piece of rubbish. To say it’s a comedy there aren’t many, if any at all, funny parts of the trailer. Ted himself just comes across as someone you just want to punch and the overall type of comedy just seems immature and dated. I won’t be lining up to see this, that’s for sure.

So it seems as though Michael Bay is on a one man mission to destroy the childhood of millions. First, he enraged a large majority of Transformers fans with his franchise that consisted mainly of blowing things up and now he has incurred the wrath of millions of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles fans with his latest announcement.

At the annual Nickelodeon presentation producer Michael Bay said of the loveable Turtles in their new film: “These turtles are from an alien race, and they are going to be tough, edgy, funny and completely loveable.”

Aliens?! The heroes in a half-shell are not aliens, they are mutants: Teenage MUTANT Ninja Turtles.

Seriously, what is Michael Bay’s problem?

I was looking forward to this film before the latest announcement. Changing the origin changes the whole story of the Turtles and the millions of people who grew up loving the green heroes tutored by a rat are set to be disappointed. And speaking of the mentor rat, Splinter, is he a mutant rat or another alien? Absolutely ridiculous!

This Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle film has been slated for a Christmas 2013 release.

The Turtles' last film outing was an enjoyable CGI adventure back in 2007.

John Carter of Mars

UK Release Date: 9th March 2012.

There has been a lot of hype about this film within the comic-book community, despite it being based on a novel. The story follows John Carter (Taylor Kitsch), a civil war veteran who is transported to Mars, or Barsoom as it is known. Here, he becomes involved in the conflict between the various nations of the planet. Carter then takes it upon himself to save the people of Barsoom.

It is clear that Disney is attempting to find another franchise that will make them as much money as the Pirates of the Caribbean series has so far (despite now owning Marvel and milking the merchandise as much as possible) and where they failed in 2010 with the Prince of Persia film, John Carter may just succeed. The visuals look great and the special effects used on the creatures that we see in the trailer look terrific.

The cast is not full of stars but it does carry some recognisable names: Willem Dafoe, Mark Strong, Thomas Haden Church and Lynn Collins among others, whilst Taylor Kitsch gives his audition to become a Hollywood leading man after his small part in the dreadful X-Men Origins: Wolverine. Andrew Stanton is directing and has co-wrote the screenplay and he has a very successful career behind him so hopefully this will be another great film that he can add to his list.