1989 Batman documentary

A lot can happen in 25 years. When Warner Bros. was pushing Tim Burton‘s Batman, released on this day in 1989, changed the landscape for superhero movies. But at the time, the studio had to convince many people that there was good reason to make a Batman movie. More to the point, Warner Bros. put in a lot of effort to convince people that a serious take on Batman was a good idea, rather than a continuation of the Adam West concept for the character.

One tool used to make the case for this new Batman was a 20-minute documentary feature showing the history of the character, and detailing the thought and work that went into Burton’s film. In celebration of the film’s 25th anniversary that doc has been dropped onto YouTube, and you can watch it below. Read More »

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Jurassic Park special effects

We get to see a lot of computer generated special effects breakdowns these days, but nothing like this. Today I came across a video showing the before and after shots from Steven Spielberg‘s Jurassic Park. While the film is known as one of the first blockbuster films to extensively employ computer generated effects, there are actually only 15 minutes of dinosaurs in the film: 9 minutes of which are Stan Winston’s animatronics, and only 6 minutes of ILM’s computer animated versions. But those six minutes are quite impressive for a film released over 20 years ago (1993). After the jump you can watch a six minute video which breaks down the Jurassic Park special effects showing how the computer generated dinosaurs were added to shots in post production.

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Jurassic Park

Today is the 21st anniversary of the release of Jurassic Park, which hit theaters on June 11, 1993. With those twenty-one years in the rear view mirror, it can be difficult to remember just how groundbreaking the film was at the time.

In ’93 there were only a few films that used digital effects, and not even a handful that used them as extensively as audiences saw in Jurassic Park. Now, when digital effects are used so pervasively that they can be impossible to distinguish from “real” images, it is good to mentally return to the days when a few seconds of animated T-Rex footage could blow the minds of some of the movie industry’s most powerful figures.

A ten-minute installment of ‘Moments That Changed the Movies,’ produced by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, helps us turn back the clock to the dawn of the digital effects era. Watch after the jump. Read More »

The SpongeBob Movie Sponge Out of Water poster (header)

Today’s Sequel Bits involves the sea floor-dwelling creatures of Bikini Bottom, the high-flying dragon riders of Berk, and everyone in between. After the jump:

  • Is China getting sick of effects-heavy Hollywood sequels?
  • Rumor has it Jurassic World will feature pterodactyl riders
  • Insurgent casts a couple more Dauntless characters
  • Paul Walker‘s brother may be in future Fast movies
  • Ernie Hudson says Ghostbusters 3 will shoot soon
  • Brittany Snow tweets from the set of Pitch Perfect 2
  • Get ready for lots and lots of Sharknado tie-in merchandise
  • SpongeBob has a Coppertone moment in a new poster
  • Watch the trailer for the video game Alien: Isolation
  • See a How to Train Your Dragon 2 featurette about the score

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Cheap thrills making of

Cheap Thrills is one of my favorite films of the year so far — a simple, tightly contained and very vicious punch to the gut. Now we’d like to show you a clip from the making-of documentary that is on the new Blu-ray release. The film stars Pat Healy and Ethan Embry as two not-quite-friends who are down on their luck. Potential financial salvation arrives in the form of a couple, played by Sara Paxton and David Koechner, who are celebrating a birthday with a night on the town. But their night on the town isn’t like yours — they’re willing to pay ever-larger sums of money to see Healy and Embry do crazy things, all in the name of entertainment.

One of those crazy things (well, several of them, really) is beyond crazy — it goes into the realm of totally insane. Below, you can see a clip of how the sequence, and the prop associated with it, was put together. What follows is both a spoiler for the film, and not for the squeamish. Read More »

Dawn of the Planet of the Apes Performance Capture

Last month, 20th Century Fox screened five scenes from Dawn of the Planet of the Apes. While I was very impressed with the footage, I was blown away by the performance capture I saw in the 20 minutes previewed — it was the best performance capture performances I had seen to date.

On top of that, Andy Serkis was on hand to introduce a brief video showcasing the live-action human actors filming the performance capture for the Ape roles side by side split screen with the computer animated finished footage of the Apes. I cant tell you how impressive this brief clip was on the big screen — it brought me back to the days of movie magic specials from my childhood.

20th Century Fox has now released the clip online for all of you to see. Watch the Dawn of the Planet of the Apes Performance Capture comparison clip embedded after the jump.

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Fistful of Dollars outtakes

The Cannes Film Festival will close this year with a presentation of a restoration of Sergio Leone’s 1964 film A Fistful of Dollars. (Released in the US in early 1967.)  The movie, an uncredited remake of Yojimbo, turned Clint Eastwood into a movie star and made the spaghetti western the hottest genre going. Quentin Tarantino will present the film at Cannes, but even if you can’t attend that show we’ve got a good treat, in the form of some newly discovered and restored A Fistful of Dollars outtakes.

The Cineteca di Bologna and Unidis Jolly Film (the original producers and distributors of the movie) were behind the restoration. The Hollywood Foreign Press Association and Martin Scorsese’s Film Foundation also helped out. As part of the process of restoration, some outtakes from the film were discovered and restored. Cineteca has now put them online. Watch below. Read More »

Frank featurette Michael Fassbender

One of my favorite films so far in 2014 is Frank, the movie in which Michael Fassbender plays a musician who spends every minute of every day wearing a giant fake head. That’s a pretty good way to get some attention for the film, but Frank is a very funny and genuinely wonderful movie about the process of creativity, and the fact that some of us are simply no good when it comes to making music and art.

Still, it’s a weird concept to get your, um, head around to some extent, so how about a clip featuring Fassbender’s title character in conversation with the musician (Domhnall Gleeson, of About Time and soon of Star Wars Episode VII) who desperately wants to be his musical equal? That will get across the tone of the film pretty well. If you still have questions (and you will) there’s also a great ten-minute featurette that gives a lot of background without giving too much away. Read More »

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