Zemeckis’ Scrooge Had a Cameo In Polar Express

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It’s been too long since I’ve seen Polar Express, I guess, because this one slipped right by me (I blame the characters’ eyes – how about going back and dezombifying them, Bob?). It’s now clear that Zemeckis’ first, admirable yet failed, attempt to cross the uncanny valley featured a neat little surprise, just like one of Pixar’s infamous easter eggs in which Nemo appears in Boo’s bedroom in Monsters Inc., or a pink Teddy Bear glimpsed in Up turns out to be a player in Toy Story 3. This revelation hints at the same sort of long leadtime in development and design in Zemeckis’ mo-cap pictures as in Pixar’s toons.

See a full comparison image at the bottom of this post.

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Editor’s Note: After Turner Classic Movies released their list of the 15 Most Influential Classic Movies, some people were complaining that no films were included from the last 32 years. I joked on Twitter that I would like to see a list of the ten most influential films of the last ten years, and Brendon jumped at the opportunity to create such a list. The idea is to predict what ten films from this decade would be looked at as influential in 20 years. The task is ridiculous, because its hard to predict the long term effects of the films that were released in the last decade (especially ones released in the last couple years), but Brendon did a pretty good job. It should be noted that Brendon’s list is more skewed towards advances in filmmaking and storytelling which influenced and changed the future of cinema, rather than movies that influenced the culture.

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Are these the ten most influential films of the last ten years? I think they might just be. Disappointingly, I really don’t like four of them. I’ve also cheated and only included English language films.

The full list will come after the break, and then after that will come the comments section for your contributions.

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This Week in DVD is a column that compiles all the latest info regarding new DVD releases, sales, and exclusive deals from stores including Target, Best Buy, Circuit City, and Fry’s.

Please don’t take the commentary on the movies and TV shows too seriously, as they’re meant not to be reviews but rather previews that include the general thoughts and ramblings of a twice-committed DVD addict. In regards to movies and shows the author hasn’t seen, the DVD release is placed in its respective category based on critic and audience response.

Buy It

MYSTERY SCIENCE THEATER 3000 (20TH ANNIVERSARY EDITION)
Complete with awesome tin packaging, 4 lobby cards and a figurine of Crow T. Robot, this MST3K 20th Anniversary set is a must-have for any fans of the series. The 4 previously unreleased episodes it houses are First Spaceship on Venus (an underrated gem), Laserblast (the last episode before Comedy Central dropped the show and it moved to the Sci-Fi channel), Werewolf (a personal favorite of mine – “It’s a WAHR-WILF!”), and Future War (the most recently made film to be featured on MST3K). Overall, an excellent collection of episodes, and a worthwhile set for fans to salivate over.
Blu-ray? No.
Notable Extras: Three-part “The Oral History of MST3K” feature, 2008 Comic-Con MST3K Reunion Panel, original film trailers, “Variations On A Theme Song” (featuring all six versions of the theme song).

BEST PRICE
Target Best Buy Circuit City Fry’s
N/A $49.99 $69.99 N/A
Amazon – $48.99

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How Dreamworks Animation is Innovating 3D

/Film was invited to the Dreamworks Animation campus to preview some footage from Monsters vs. Aliens, and take a tour of the company’s new 3D process (which is actually pretty incredible… more on that later). It all began when Dreamworks Animation CEO Jeffrey Katzenberg saw a screening of Robert Zemeckis’ Polar Express in IMAX 3D.

“I was so blown away by the presentation. I literally came scurrying back here and said, this is a game change,” Katzenberg told /Film and a small group of other online press. “The implications of this movie theater experience are something I have not seen or imagined in my 35 years of doing this and I think it is a huge opportunity and we need to get on it.”



Katzenberg explained that filmmaking has been through two great revolutions, the first being the transition from silent film to talkies, and the second being the transition from black and white to color. He insists that 3D is the next great revolution.

“The movie theater experience has not been innovated in any meaningful way in decades. Meanwhile, the home experience with the big flat screen tvs and surround sound, blu-ray and everything else has just become amazing. So one experience has stood still while the other has continued to rise up.”

Movie attendance continues to fall as the popularity of the home theater and on demand movie watching builds. This leads us to Katzenberg’s passionate plea to keep the movie theater experience alive.

“I love the movie theater experience. I think that it’s very special when a couple hundred people to share a experience. Everything is amplified – things are scarier. Things are funnier. Things are sadder. Everything in that shared experience is enhanced. And I would like that experience to stay around and to me this offers the first opportunity to innovate the theater experience in ways we can’t in our home for many years to come.”

He admits that 3D will eventually be possible in your home theater, but says its probably “10 years out”. And even then he likens it to “the difference between a live sport event and being in the arena and everything that it brings and how immersive it is vs. watching it on TV.”

“Samsung is making monitors right now that are 3D capable, so I don’t think that’s the challenge. It’s actually the viewing experience,” Katzenberg explaned. “There’s 2 things about 3D in order to really give the full Rolls Royce version of it. One is the size of the screen needs to hit your peripheral vision. If you think about it, if you have a 50” television set that means that you actually sit no further than 50” away from the TV. So that’s here. You don’t sit that close to your TV.” … “The second thing is that the more light, the more it diminishes the 3D experience and so I made a joke which is I walked around my house in terms of where I have a TV set and the only place I can go in my home in which I can have a 3D experience as good as what I can have in the movie theatre is in coat closet where I come into my….and I can’t fit a 50” TV in there, so it’s light actually kind of dissipates it a fair amount. You can do it in the home but it’s not going to be, again

So why now? What’s changed?

“These are polarized glasses as opposed to my father’s 3D: The blue and red anaglyph, which kind of disintegrated… forget the fact they were made of cardboard, beyond that they sort of disintegrate the color and the art of the film. They were really more for gimmick than a quality experience.”

Secondly the technology behind the projection of 3D films which allows for “absolute precision in doing the right eye left eye so that all of the imperfections and things that we all associate with the old 3D, in terms of what happens on the theater side, are corrected. And if you remember, with the old 3D, there were two projectors, and if you’re trying to line those things up, it is impossible to have precision in it. And those imperfections cause many of those things that people identify with motion blur, eye strain, nausea, those things.”

But the third thing Katzenberg touted was the new tools to create the technology. This is where Dreamworks Animation is taking 3D to the next level. Until now most 3D films have created in a post production process, something Katzenberg compares to the equivalent of a black and white movie being colorized.

“If you have seen a black and white movie that has been colorized, it is that big of a gap. Because a movie that was designed and shot in black and white, everything about it from the set dressing to the cinematography to directing the film, is very specifically designed to show shades of white to black and all of the colors and skews of gray in between it,” explained Katzenberg. “So literally a color would be picked for a piece of set dressing because it would translate to a color of gray. So to go in and literally colorize it, it doesn’t look right. That’s what happens when you post-produce a movie in 3D.”

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