Winter 2013 VFX Movie Preview
In the coming months, cinemas will play host to a variety of star-crossed lovers in exotic, VFX-laden locations. Here’s a run-down of some of the culprits competing for your bucks at the box office.
Feb 8th – The Sorcerer and the White Snake
Some sixteen months after it first debuted at the 2011 Venice Film Festival, this romantic fantasy based on Chinese folklore is finally making its way to North American audiences. Directed by Hong Kong legend Tony Ching, Snake tells the story of two demon snake sisters (one white, the other green) who become human and fall for mortal men. This puts them directly at odds with demon-hunting sorcerer/monk Abott Fahai, played by a leaping Jet Li. The Wushu champion-turned action star called the shoot one of the most physically exhausting of his career. Reviewers, meanwhile, have criticized the picture for being visually exhausting, in spite of its nominations for Best Visual Effects and Best Action Choreography at the 2012 Hong Kong Film Awards. Decide for yourself whether this world of snake demons, ice harpies and bat men is enchanting or overkill when the picture hits theatres this Friday.
Feb 14th – Beautiful Creatures
Twilight may be behind us, but here to fill the void is Beautiful Creatures, the first in what’s sure to be a series of adaptations of Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl‘s Caster Chronicles. This supernatural romance focuses on fifteen-year-old Lena Duchannes (Alice Englert) whose secret powers and spell-casting relatives will lead her either towards the Light or the Darkness on her next birthday. Naturally, she finds herself drawn to a boy at school named Ethan (Alden Ehrenreich) whom she realizes has a role to play in her fate. Effects houses Pixomondo, Scanline VFX, Method Studios and Pixel Magic are sharing the challenge of bringing all the hocus pocus to life on the big screen, though it’s worth noting that effects like the spinning dining room table were achieved on-set, the old fashioned way. Here’s hoping the actors skipped lunch before shooting that scene.
Feb 14th – A Good Day to Die Hard
This latest installment in the on-going saga of John McClane may already be screening overseas, but the rest of us will have to wait until Valentine’s Day before we can say “Yippee Ki-Yay.” Day sees Bruce Willis’ smart-mouthed cop travel to Russia to reunite with his equally adventurous son Jack now that he’s all grown up and working for the CIA. Once again, Pixomondo and Method Studios are teaming up, along with Shade VFX and Screen Scene, to handle the visual effects. Director John Moore, however, states those will be limited, as most of the explosive action was captured on-camera. In other words, yes: they really did blow up all those beautiful Mercedes autos.
March 1st – Jack the Giant Slayer
As one might expect, it takes a lot of digital work to create an army of Giants descending from a kingdom high above the clouds. To accomplish this, Bryan Singer engaged the help of The Moving Picture Company, The Third Floor, Digital Domain, Rodeo FX and Soho VFX. His take on the tale of Jack and the Beanstalk makes considerable use of motion capture performances, which were lined-up in-camera during shooting using a process called Simul-Cam, previously employed in the making of James Cameron’s Avatar. Regardless of how good the tall guys end up looking, this one is worth checking out purely to see three veterans of fantasy films acting alongside one another: Warwick Davis (Willow), Ewan McGregor (Star Wars) and Nicholas Hoult (X-Men: First Class).
March 8th – Oz, The Great and Powerful
For the first time since the lukewarm reception of 1985‘s Return to Oz, Disney is stepping back into L. Frank Baum’s world of yellow-brick roads and sparring witches. Instead of Will Vinton’s claymation nomes, however, audiences will be seeing digital effects courtesy of Evil Eye Pictures, Luma Pictures, Sony Pictures Imageworks and The Third Floor. This 200 million dollar picture was shot with 3D cameras and uses a mix of green screen and practical sets to realize locations as diverse as the Emerald City and Quadling Country. Of all the wonders glimpsed in the trailer, however, none seems as striking as the China Doll character, who was physically present on-set in the form of a puppet. Here’s hoping James Franco, Mila Kunis, Michelle Williams and company handle her with care.