News and comments from Arthur

Legend of the Guardians

 Tuesday 26 Oct 2010, 9:42 AM

It`s owls. Cute, fluffy, photo-realistic, computer generated owls. In plate mail armour. In 3D. In slow motion (sometimes). What`s not to like?

OK, the films not as great as it could have been but it looked lovely (did I mention the cute, fluffy, armour wearing owls in slow motion 3D?). Really lovely. In fact some of the shots were truly breathtaking. The one that stood out for me was when some of the evil owl recruits were chasing a little bluebird and the shot just slowed to slow motion as the little bird flew out of the screen and the owl behind it slid into focus, its huge claw reaching out and enveloping its prey. And there were plenty more like that too - it`s a Zack Snyder film so there was plenty of slow motion to look great. In fact I think 3D and slow motion work really well together - it really allows you to see the depth in a image.

The story wasn`t anything special though. And I could have done without a couple of the comedy characters, in particular the 2 horned owls who practised their evil stares sounded just like Hale and Pace doing their "The Management" sketch for the 80`s. And the song used in the film and the end credits was a bit cheesy, especially given the excellent track by 30 Seconds from Mars used in the trailer. But I still liked it and will definitely buy the Blu ray.

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Sci-Fi Oktoberfest

 Monday 18 Oct 2010, 7:59 PM

No all-nighter for me this year (all night Studio Ghibli would have been nice had they not chosen most of my least favourite ones). Instead I saw an advance screening of Monsters and a showing of the classic original Tron , plus 8 minutes from Tron Legacy in 3D.

Monsters was really good - relatively slow paced and not an action film at all (so comparisons to Cloverfield and District 9 are totally unfair - it`s nothing like them but every bit as good, just in different ways) , but it was still gripping and looked amazing, even more so when you know how little it cost and how it was made (a crew of 4 people plus 2 actors just filming as the went on a road trip though Mexico with local people playing all the other roles and CGI added later to make the world complete). The director Gareth Edwards is definitely someone to watch out for in the future (I`m already looking forward to his next film, whatever that may be). Just hope he doesn`t go down the Richard Stanley road of great British film makers...

Tron Legacy looked great. The 3D didn`t impress as much as I expected. In fact some of it looked rather flat. But other shots were good (the various planes of the glass bodied Recognizer). But it was the soundtrack that really stood out - you couldn`t miss it it was so loud and aggressive! Loved it!

The original Tron sounded very quiet in comparison (or maybe I had been deafened by the preview footage minutes earlier?) and the print was rather faded with poor black levels in places. But still, it was Tron! On a big screen! Seeing it again after all these years, I really noticed how much of it looks hand animated - suppose it was made by Disney after all.

And the other good news was that the Apollo cinema seems to have proper digital cinema projectors all round now rather than those rubbish business data projectors they used in the past to show DVDs. In fact their main screen doesn`t even have 35mm film at all any more! Hopefully the Sci-Fi London 10th anniversary in April/May 2011 will have plenty of good stuff to see this year after a (in my opinion) lacklustre line-up over the past few years.

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