There are coffee-table "The Art of …" and "The Making of …" books on just about every new American animated feature. Books about older movies are rarer. Here is one on a 1967 "classic": the stop-motion Mad Monster Party.
Article Type: Review
It’s been close to 2 decades since I last saw the original Beauty and the Beast, sitting mesmerized right alongside my then 3 year old daughter Becky. Sitting mesmerized right alongside my now 23 year old daughter as we watched this beautiful new version of the film, I can safely say the ends justify the means and the tremendous amount of work to bring this film to 3D has produced a visually stunning experience.
For five days every year the historic town of Fredrikstad, Norway becomes the center of Nordic/Baltic animation. The festival brings in an illustrious roster of names from the international animation community and this year was no exception.
This dark comedy isn't the prettiest looking release, but Sony does bring it to Blu-ray in a quality MPEG-4 AVC 1080p transfer. Dimensionality is the biggest issue with the image often looking soft. This then lowers the depth of field. Colors are natural and balanced well. When more vibrant colors pop up in the palette they do indeed pop. Blacks might not be inky throughout, but they aren't too murky. Digital issues aren't problematic, but crush is its biggest issue. Of course night scenes in low lighting suffer the worst. Some noise and banding occur but nothing too awful. Most of the issues with the picture quality presumably stem back to the source, which was a low-budget indie shot on Super 35. The worst thing you could say about the image would be that it is inconsistent. Some darker scenes can be murky and feature pixelization, but daylight scenes can be crisp and deep.
It was a surprise when Brendan Gleeson was announced as a Golden Globe nominee for his role as a corrupt, drug using, foul mouthed cop. Once you've seen it you'll know why. He owns the role. The best statement said about his character is he's either really stupid or really smart.
Over the years Steven Spielberg has certainly adapted his style to fit the project. The black & white cinematography in SCHINDLER'S LIST added a grim solemnity. The desaturated colors and herky-jerky photography of SAVING PRIVATE RYAN only matched the gritty war sequences. In WAR HORSE, he tackles the first World War with a touch that matches the melodramatic nature of the source book and play. He channels the melodramas of the 1940s and 1950s like John Ford's HOW GREEN WAS MY VALLEY, creating an almost surreal fable.
Based on Stieg Larsson's international bestseller, this film makes this the second time this story has been brought to the screen. The original Swedish version is very fresh in my mind, having made my top 25 list last year, ranking fourth, just behind David Fincher's THE SOCIAL NETWORK. Now we have Fincher's version of the same tale in English.
Have you ever wondered how Santa delivers millions of presents in a single night? The 3D animation film Arthur Christmas (Aardman production for Sony Pictures Animation) reveals exactly how things work in Santa’s mysterious Arctic Headquarters.
Have you ever wondered what the life of a young journalist is like? Of course, you could probably hear my story, but my career as a journalist is far less dangerous, mysterious, and exciting than that of Tintin, a boy reporter with spiky orange hair in the movie “The Adventures of Tintin” directed by Steven Spielberg.
Steven Spielberg has made a rousing globetrotting adventure that harkens back to his early INDIANA JONES films. Using performance capture, he brought to life Herge's world-renowned comic strip character in a strangely realistic and surreal way. The lightning paced action scenes will be well accepted from the videogamer set, while older audiences might want it to have slowed down a bit to let us meet these characters.
If you’re from South East Asia, China, Japan or Korea, Singapore’s modern architectural skylines may not wow you as much as a Westerner. And I imagine, if you are from the region, the proliferation and impact of Asia’s animation production isn’t news to you either. After all, Asia’s “animation moon” has been full and shining brightly for many years, decades even for some countries.
For a continuing franchise it's so often the quality of the villain that makes the series longevity. The hero never changes, or we think that is the case. It's a good villain that pushes the protagonist to the edge. This is the case with the introduction of Professor James Moriarty into Guy Ritchie's steam punk version of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's great detective.
Roman Polanski adapts Yasmina Reza's dark comedy play for the screen. For better and worse, Polanski, who co-wrote the script with Reza, doesn't adapt the film very much. Outside of a dialogue free opening and closing in a park, the rest of this dialogue-heavy production takes place in one New York apartment. Primarily his top notched cast keeps the film from crumbling under its weaknesses.
If you wish further evidence of your own lack of smartness, sit through a SIGGRAPH technical paper Fast Forward presentation. This was not your typical gathering of wily-old geezer scientists in smocks and meerschaum pipes, ruefully rubbing their beards while thoughtfully using 10 sentences to explain things where one sentence would completely suffice.
Those damn, dirty apes look quite amazing in this 1080p/AVC MPEG-4 Blu-ray. This is certainly one of the best Blu-ray releases of the year. The picture quality is crystal clear adding great depth and detail. Weta's CG apes really stand out from fur to skin textures to their realistic looking eyes. The color palette is natural and clean with black levels inky throughout. There is a light film grain that runs through the picture, which does not increase during night scenes. Crush in those night scenes is also nonexistent. As for compression issues and other digital artifacts, they are completely absent.
What I love about so many Chinese historical epics is how they blend history and myth. Now famed director Hark Tsui, who created the ONCE UPON A TIME IN CHINA series, brings the real life story of Chinese historical icons Detective Dee and Empress Wu to the screen in a big budget, vfx-driven spectacle that includes spontaneous human combustion, high flying kung fu and a talking deer.
This transfer of Hark Tsui's epic fantasy is gorgeous. The MPEG-4 AVC Blu-ray has colors so rich that they actually took me aback, especially in the film's elaborate vfx sequences. Because of the detailed clarity, some of the wide matte-painted backgrounds look strikingly realistic. It shows off the impressive quality of Korean vfx firm AZ Works and their partners' work. The rich golds and reds of lavish costuming pop and the detail even reveals threads. When the film descends into the underground Phantom City, the contrast of shadow is represented nicely without any noticeable crush. Grain is practically nonexistent in daylight scenes, but does creep up in lower lit sequences. Digital anomalies like banding, aliasing or pixelization were not evident to me.
18 hours in planes, 8 hours in airports, 2 hours in shuttles, all in the quest for a chance to meet some of Asia’s brightest computer graphic technologists and to once again eat roast pork overlooking the majestic Hong Kong harbor. A worthy goal, I must say.
Director Jason Reitman and writer Diablo Cody last collaborated on the Oscar nominated JUNO. Cody won the Oscar for her screenplay, her first produced script. Some thought she was a one hit wonder following her entertaining, but not all that original, horror flick JENNIFER’S BODY. YOUNG ADULT proves them wrong.
Tomas Alfredson, who directed the wonderful Swedish vampire film LET THE RIGHT ONE IN, adapts John le Carre's classic spy novel into a slow burn thriller. His film is as laconic as his central character, played with great reserve by Gary Oldman. From its Cold War setting to its visual style, the film at times conjures up memories of Hitchcock's latter day thrillers.
In Ukrainian, KROK means “step”, but to animators, KROK means watching animation, making music, dancing and meeting friends, both old and new. For me KROK is summer camp for animators and the best ten days of my life every year.
CTNX is for the young and hungry, boasting a crowd of current students and the recently graduated, who are looking at an angle into their beloved, but notoriously tough, contemporary animation industry. There’s no doubt the event will keep on drawing in professionals, studios, and students, but it remains to be seen whether it can live up to high expectations. Seeing young talent engage with their idols, and feeling their way into a field they are clearly passionate about, is where CTN truly shines.
Michel Hazanavicius' effortlessly charming dramedy is really like discovering a lost film from the silent age. The director of the popular French OSS 117 spy spoof series recreates every aspect of a black and white silent film of the 1920s. From the classic 1.37:1 aspect ratio to the title cards to the dramatic pitch, he gets all the details right. His performers nail the acting style, which is a key to the film's success. But it's not just a gimmick. It's a reminder that sometimes words get in the way of visual storytelling.
Your appreciation of this AVC transfer relies heavily on knowing the source of this indie sci-fi drama. Filmed with a 720p camera on a next to nothing budget, the picture contains a great deal of grain that increases exponentially under low lighting conditions. One scene in the snow at night really highlights its digital origins. Banding and aliasing often creep up in higher contrasted scenes. Color are muted and natural, which fits the cool mood. But when compared to the DVD version, clarity is greatly increased with the grain issue minimized. All things considered this 1080p release is about as good as this material can look.