Tag Archives: IMAX

Further Into Darkness

Lovely "Star Trek Into Darkness" images (c) Paramount Pictures

Lovely “Star Trek Into Darkness” images (c) Paramount Pictures

There’s a new trailer for J.J. Abrams‘ second “Star Trek” adventure, “Into Darkness”, which is technically the first proper look at the film – last week saw a teaser trailer and a nine-minute prologue which unfurled ahead of selected IMAX screenings of “The Hobbit“.

But, as I was denied such bounty by the uncaring folk at my local cinema, let us not focus on what we don’t have and instead turn our attention to what we do get.

Yep, no portents of angst or doom in that image...

Yep, no portents of angst or doom in that image…

Which is Bruce Greenwood‘s glum voice over suggesting there may be trouble ahead for Kirk & Co., huge action sequences, portents of dread and lots of furrowed brows on display.  Watching it, there’s a palpable sense that there’s a big elephant in the room with this “Star Trek” sequel – is it following the path laid down by “Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan” and upping the emotional stakes big time (i.e. killing off major characters) or is the speculation about the identity of the villain merely misdirection of the kind so beloved of and oft-practiced by major magic geek Abrams?

The trailer indicates that nobody’s safe in this movie – Chekov‘s even sporting a Red Shirt at one point, for pity’s sake! – and I’m all for that if  this eagerly anticipated follow-up has the courage to deliver on all that Debbie Downer potential.  This is, after all, a summer movie – not a genre known for wallowing in melancholy and bad vibes, man.

You can be in danger – but nobody’s allowed to get hurt.  Or are they?

 

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“The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey” film review

Make mine Bag End...

Some pertinent business to deal with before I start my review proper:

1) The much-ballyhooed 48 frames per second process, which makes its debut with “The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey” is more or less unnoticeable.  Advanced reports of the film looking like a TV soap opera, or as though it was shot on digital video, are utter piffle.

2) If you can see “The Hobbit” in traditional 2D, feel free to do so.  I saw it in a 3D ‘LieMax’ screening and felt that the 3D frequently detracted from the experience – several action sequences were rendered impossible to watch comfortably, thanks to our old friend, Mr Irritating Motion Blur.  Mrs Rolling Eyeballs, who saw the film with me, currently rates the film as a 5 out of 10 as she saw roughly half of it – IMAX 3D and people with glasses apparently don’t mix too well.  A 2D viewing may be required for our actual full enjoyment of the film.

3) That 9 minute “Star Trek Into Darkness” prologue?  The “Man of Steel” and “Pacific Rim” trailers?  Conspicuous by their wholesale absence.  Thanks, Cineworld, for screwing your UK consumers and having the nerve to charge a premium for an experience which is decidedly lacking.

Minor, nerd-entitlement caveats aside, did I actually enjoy the film?

Well, yes.  Yes.  Yes, yes, YES!  It’s Peter Jackson, Fran Walsh, Philippa Boyens and a prodigiously talented ensemble in front of the camera and behind it delivering epic fantasy on the kind of scale that fans always dreamed of seeing but rarely experienced before Jackson’s initial “Lord of the Rings” trilogy expanded the possibility of cinematic adventure in the early part of the 2000’s.

Getting over the fact that these movies are inherently episodic and tell their story in a serial fashion – don’t count on getting much in the way of closure until the summer of 2014 – going back to Jackson’s Middle Earth is like visiting a much-loved holiday get away destination and finding everything much as you left it.

Breathtaking New Zealand vistas, Hobbit holes, craggy old wizards and Howard Shore‘s delightfully evocative musical score are very much present and correct – thankfully Mr Jackson has resisted the urge to cast Justin Bieber, pump up the dubstep and ‘fix’ that which isn’t broken.  As I mentioned before, the major add-ons this time around – 3D and 48 FPS – are either a waste of time (3D) or imperceptible (48 FPS), so it does feel very much like business as usual.

The changes to the plot don’t really offer up anything particularly problematic – we get a fantastic prologue which deftly underlines lead dwarven warrior-in-exile Thorin Oakenshield‘s motivations and show us more of Middle Earth than we saw in the “LOTR” trilogy, and the climax imagines the events of ‘Out of the Frying Pan Into The Fire’ quite a bit differently, and really shows how Jackson and his team have rendered three films from a fairly slender piece of source material.

Where Tolkien’s classic tale for children of all ages alludes to action occurring off-screen or dispenses with blood and thunder battles in a sentence or two, Jackson’s film goes to town by mounting elaborate, bravura sequences which pile on the Orcs, Goblins and Warg enemies for our band to face off against.  It’s probably a bit too intense for younger kids, I would guess – this iteration particularly amps up the ass-kicking whilst not exactly down-playing the whimsical nature of Tolkien’s book but emphasizing the heroics in an appropriately cinematic fashion.

On the performance side, Martin Freeman is superb as Bilbo the Younger.  He’s not doing an Ian Holm impersonation, but instead gives a turn which is funny, touching, quietly decent and layered – I’m going to enjoy following him on his burglary mission and I predict that you will too.  He’s perhaps at his best during the “Riddles in the Dark” sequence, which brings back Gollum for a spell and reminds you how utterly brilliant Andy Serkis is.  New addition Richard Armitage makes a commanding appearance as Thorin, quietly dominating scenes and neatly filling the noticeable, Viggo Mortensen-shaped hole for a heroic, smouldering lead.

I really enjoyed this movie – tech qualms be damned.  And I look forward to seeing more of Smaug, how Jackson stages the battle of the Five Armies and how the extended lore of Tolkien’s epic fantasy cycle is added to what is at heart a fairly simple and linear tale.

A qualified thumbs up for “The Hobbit” part the first it is, then.  Try and find time in your Christmas celebration to see it and I’m sure you’ll enjoy it too.

Related Arcana:

 

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“Star Trek Into Darkness” gets a new poster

Ominous, much?

Ominous, much?  Image via Paramount Pictures

As we wait for either the nine-minute IMAX prologue playing before selected screenings of The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey“, the astute folk at Paramount have elected to steal a march on the marketing for next summer’s “Star Trek” sequel by releasing every geek-centric blockbuster’s must-have item, the enigmatic teaser poster.

Putting on my modish great-coat and a fashionably directional long scarf in the manner of all the best consulting detectives, I note that the poster seems to feature putative “Star Trek Into Darkness” villain, Benedict Cumberbatch, who is of course playing classic “Trek” baddie Gary Mitchell/Khan/Keyser Soze (delete as likely) in the J.J. Abrams directed sequel.

And that scene of urban mass destruction, the hallmark of all contemporary bad guys who seek to threaten our very way of life via the medium of terrorist action – could it be London?  As Empire magazine‘s post on the teaser poster intimated, the background scenery seems to have the ‘Gherkin’ building prominently featured.

England’s capital?  Being destroyed in a summer blockbuster?  Such a thing has never happened before…

A trailer for this must-see geek fest is due before the end of 2012 – I don’t know about you, but I already have my popcorn ready for that one…

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“Star Trek Into Darkness” with “The Hobbit”

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Yes, I did use this picture because Simon Pegg’s wearing a kilt. Like a boss…

In a bold effort to monopolise the attentions of Chez Fluffrick on December 14th, IMAX have announced that screenings of “The Hobbit” on that day will be preceded by nine minutes of “Star Trek Into Darkness” prologue footage.

Just. Take. My. Money. Now.

This footage will be available in 500 IMAX 3D screens worldwide, and I’m hoping that my local Sheffield cinema will be amongst the lucky havens of nerdery receiving such an early Festivus gift – it’ll make up for my local IMAX not being one of the locations with projection capable of displaying “The Hobbit” in Peter Jackson’s much-discussed High Frame Rate presentation.

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A Plucky Dwarf writes…

I’m The Tallest Dwarf In Middle Earth!

In a stunning development matched nowhere else in recorded history, Warner Brothers have really begun to push the Gollum piloted boat out for their December Tolkien release, “The Hobbit“.

Hence the screen grab above – a neat little game which allows you to blatantly rig answers and cheat your way to your favourite Middle Earth character answer fun quiz questions and arrive at a nifty downloadable/Tweetable/BookFace-type digital thing to share with your fellow nerds.

You can book your tickets for Peter Jackson’s latest slice of Hobbit based awesome now, which is nice.  And if you’re sufficiently tech-obsessed and live near a big IMAX screen, you can check out whether they’ll be showing “The Hobbitin super-48FPS-3D-space-vision.

Oh yes, waiting until December 14th is going to be so easy…

 

 

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New “Skyfall” trailer kills Bond, takes names.

Well, it’s one way to wrong-foot the audience…

OMG – SPOILERZ!

There’s a new “Skyfall” trailer, everyone – go lookit!

Not really – the bait-and-switch gambit of apparently sending James Bond to sleep with the fish community in the new trailer for “Skyfall” is quickly undone when it becomes clear that Bond’s mission this time around is to sleep with French starlets and destroy foreign locales recover an in-the-wild secret hard drive containing the details of every MI6 agent before it goes to the highest bidder.

New Bond girl, Berenice Marlohe, not long for this world if the on-screen fate of previous Bond girls is any indicator…

Where the previous teaser trailers, IMAX pimping and Olympic-piggybacking tv spots have played up the psychological drama aspect of the new, Sam Mendes directed Bond as if to indicate that this won’t be a glum shoot-em-up like the previous, unloved (but actually not that bad) “Quantum of Solace“, this trailer gets down to business by including some pretty major action and one classic prop with a biometric twist.

A tech guy who’s wearing a nerdy parka? The invention of these film makers! Where do they get their crazy ideas?!

New Q, Ben Whishaw shows up and we get our best look yet at the horror which is big bad Javier Bardem‘s blonde hairstyle.  I’m assuming that the sketchiness therein indicates that it forms some kind of secret weapon, perhaps for employment during the grand finale (perhaps it assumes some kind of sentient life and goes in for the kill when his owner is dispatched?).

The reassuring sight of James Bond effing up a vehicle and still finding time to sort his cuffs out. And all’s well with England anew…

“Skyfall” opens in the UK in October and the US in November.

 

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“The Dark Knight Rises” – what a lovely apocalypse…

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IMAX poster for The Dark Knight Rises via Empire Online.

So, there’s two weeks to go until Gotham gets an unplanned course of urban redevelopment, courtesy of the villainous Bane and his grumpy, demolition-friendly cohorts and the number one question for me about this is – do I hold out for proper IMAX or LieMAX, the multiplex-friendly version?

To go and see the film as Christopher Nolan intended involves a trip to Bradford or Manchester, travel and seeing a lengthy (164 minutes – edit, Chris, edit!) flick in not terrifically comfortable auditoriums.  On the plus side, proper IMAX is a sight (and sound) to behold, and this the conclusion to a well-starred trilogy – it’s worth making the effort.

LieMAX is more convenient for me – there’s a screen in my city – but pricey at £12 a ticket, considering that it doesn’t offer a dramatically bigger picture than one of the bigger theatres in my multiplex of choice.

All things considered, and unless I hear differently, I’m going to catch “The Dark Knight Rises” in a regular screen – I don’t remember feeling in any way short-changed by seeing the second Nolan Batman film in a ‘normal’ presentation.  The film, after all, is the thing, is it not?

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