Winter 2013 VFX Movie Preview
March 8th – Emperor
Australia-based Iloura handled the visual effects for this drama/love story starring Tommy Lee Jones, Matthew Fox and Eriko Hatsune. Based on the book His Majesty’s Salvation by Shiro Okamoto and set in Japan circa 1945, Emperor is easily the most sobering of this winter’s fanciful offerings, as it explores the final days of World War II. Still, period pieces are often the test of any studio’s ability to enhance the story visually without distracting the viewer.
March 15th – Blancanieves
Though audiences have seen their fair share of fairy tale adaptations of late, none are likely to compare to this black & white retelling of Snow White, set in 1920’s Spain. Macarena García stars as the young woman destined to take a bite of a poisoned apple, with Miribel Verdú playing the role of the loathsome stepmother. Instead of simply wishing for true love, however, this heroine’s passion is bullfighting, which eventually leads her to a troupe of bullfighting dwarves. Intertitles tell the story in this silent picture bursting with originality and visual artistry. It may lack the explosive power of many of the other contenders on this list, but it’s definitely worth a look.
March 15th – Upside Down
Imagine meeting your perfect mate, only for them to come from a world whose gravity requires both of you to remain where you are, or suffer dire consequences. Actually, that sounds pretty tricky to imagine, making the accomplishments of Montreal’s Vision Globale and Paris’s La Maison all the more impressive here. The effects houses helped to realize a love story in which the two leads exist on planets directly opposite one another, and often interact, as the title would suggest, while upside down. Though Adam (Jim Sturgess) and Eden’s (Kirsten Dunst) tale of romance certainly seems visually captivating, audiences might be wise to brace themselves for a slight case of vertigo.
March 29th – GI JOE: Retaliation
After having its release date unexpectedly delayed by almost a year, this sequel to 2009’s Rise of the Cobra is finally hitting theatres having undergone a couple of noteworthy changes. Additional scenes were added to expand upon the relationship between Duke (Channing Tatum) and Roadblock (Dwayne Johnson), and the entire picture was converted to 3D, making the destruction of London’s Parliament just that much more immediate. To give this beloved ‘80s property the best treatment possible, Paramount engaged their own special forces to realize the effects, including Industrial Light and Magic, Digital Domain, Luma Pictures, Method Studios, Blind Squirrel Digital and Lola Visual Effects. The big question, however, is whether or not this latest entry will once again leave fans and critics shaking their heads and crying “No!” or finally giving them reason to chant “Yo Joe!”
April 12th - Oblivion
Tom Cruise and Morgan Freeman star in this sci-fi epic set in a post-apocalyptic earth (aren’t they always?) left uninhabited and ravaged by an alien war fought some sixty years earlier. At least, that’s the story Cruise’s drone repairman Jack Harper was told. In this 140 million dollar adaptation of director Joseph Kosinski’s own unfinished graphic novel, Harper must uncover the answers, while wearing a cumbersome spacesuit no less. Following on the heels of Tron: Legacy, Kosinski is delivering another stylish take on the future of mankind, with effects being handled by (you guessed it!) The Third Floor, Digital Domain and, for the sake of variety, Gentle Giant Studios. In spite of the scope of the picture, with its beautiful floating city and wondrous space ships, the director still considers it a “small character-driven science fiction story in the vein of those science fiction films of the 1970s.” Sounds promising.
James Gartler is a Canadian writer with a serious passion for animation in all its forms. His work has appeared in the pages of Sci Fi Magazine, and at the websites EW.com and Newsarama.com.