2011 Summer VFX Preview
It looks like a memorable summer of VFX with plenty of comic book superheroes, aliens, sequels, genre mixing, the return of the apes, the meaning of life and the explosive finale for our favorite young wizard.
10. Thor (Paramount, May 6, 3-D)
Here's a unique Marvel superhero: A fallen Norse god who must learn humility while saving Earth. Director Kenneth Branagh (Henry V) adds gravitas and wit to this comic book story of a dysfunctional family that's positively Shakespearean in scale and tone. Chris Hemsworth stars along with Oscar-winners Anthony Hopkins and Natalie Portman. The 1,300 vfx shots include a 10-foot flame-throwing metal juggernaut, a gigantic ice beast that comes out of hibernation and a race of frost ghosts. Wesley Sewell is the overall vfx supervisor and Digital Domain (supervised by Kelly Port) leads the pack of vendors that also includes Legacy Effects, Luma Pictures, BUF, Whiskeytree, Fuel VFX, The Base Studio and Narrate, among others.
Here's another franchise that needs to rediscover its light touch and rollicking sense of fun. Rob Marshall (Chicago) takes over for Gore Verbinski in helming the fourth sequel to Disney's popular Pirates franchise -- and the first in 3-D, courtesy of Cinesite. Jack Sparrow (Johnny Depp) and Barbossa (Geoffrey Rush) go after the fountain of youth only to discover that Blackbeard (Ian McShane) and an old flame (Penelope Cruz) are after it too. Can't wait to see how ILM raises its game with more human-looking creatures (this time spearheaded by Ben Snow). There's additional support from MPC, Hydraulx, CIS Hollywood and Rising Sun Pictures, among others.
A pivotal piece for next year's launch of Marvel's The Avengers has Chris Evans as Steve Rogers, who turns into Captain America, the country's defender, after volunteering for a secret research project that goes awry. Joe Johnston directs, and let's hope there's some of homespun charm of October Sky and The Rocketeer. Samuel Jackson reprises his role as Nick Fury and Hugo Weaving co-stars as The Red Skull. Christopher Townsend is the overall vfx supervisor with Double Negative as lead vendor and additional help from Matte World Digital, Fuel VFX, The Senate, Framestore, Lola VFX, Cinesite and others.