EVEREST (3D)

July 27, 2016

everest_ver2_xlg2015

s12a121

CANDLES 6

DIRECTOR: Baltasar Kormákur

Everest tells the story of the tragic ascent of the mountain in 1996, dubbed the “1996 Mount Everest Disaster” in which several climbers lost their lives. The story is tragic, true and well documented as one of the worst disasters in the mountain’s recent climbing history but how does this film tell that story?

It recreates the events and the environment well, but it fails to tell a compelling story. The events are relayed on a production line, with low-key events leading to low-key deaths and whilst it must be given credit for showing us the relative of life and death on a mountain, if fails to draw us in anything like as much as you might expect from a 3-D epic such as this.

The characters are hollow, the scenery, whilst beautiful, is repetitive, I mean, it is a mountain for god’s sake! And besides a touching final call between a one of our dying climbers, I will not say which, and his wife, as well as a daring helicopter rescue, the film is quite frankly, and I hate to say this, boring.

With a cast as good as this, the technology to recreate Everest so well and the true story behind it, this should not have been so plodding and what should have been a tear jerking climax simply falls short.

Points for effort but none for the disappointing final result.


STAR TREK BEYOND (3D)

July 24, 2016

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s12A12

CANDLES 9

DIRECTOR: Justin Lin

I honestly don’t know where to start with this one. After the disappointments which were meted out by the severely overrated J.J. Abrams and his Star Wars audition reels which he just happened to call Star Trek (2009) and Into Darkness (2013), we finally have our first REAL Trek movie in 14 years!

From the opening scenes, to the finale, this felt completely different to previous two, proving once and for all, that Abrams did not really understand Trek as much as he liked us to think, even William Shatner’s failed Star Trek V (1989), the worst Trek film to date, understood Star Trek, maybe a little too well. Justin Lin on the other hand, seemed to be a ludicrous choice of director, making his name with the later Fast And Furious movies, but in retrospect, what a great choice.

He has already managed to infuse his last franchise with a lot of sentimentality and camoradary, a franchise which is essentially about racing fast cars. But this ironically is a big part of the Star Trek formula and here we have it all. A sense of the nature of the original series and beyond, better characterisations, no doubt thanks to Simon Pegg taking over the writing duties.

The action is phenomenal from start to finish, with great 3D cinematography without over doing it, out of this world concept designs, a plot right out of the best episodes of Star Trek and finally a Chris Pine incarnation of Kirk who I would happily think of a Captain, at last! The comedy is sharp and affectionate and there are so many Trek references and Easter eggs throughout, it will keep us occupied for some time to come.

But that is at the heart of this film’s success. The screenplay is leagues beyond the work of the last two, with a real understanding of what made Star Trek tick without the condescending tone which Abrams brought, as well as allowing for an epic blockbuster adventure, making the most of the big screen but never afraid of small, tender or comedic moments to hold this tent-pole movie up.

There were well handled moments, both in the pilot and the film itself where respects are paid to both the late Leonard Nimoy (Spock Prime) and Anton Yelchin (Chekov), which were handled perfectly. Credit to Lin and his team for that, bit this is not, unfortunately the first that he has been faced with losing a cast member during production, though in case, it was post. Though it must be said that Chekov well never so well represented in these new films until this one, so it does serve a worthy farewell for his character from the Trek movies.

In short, this is the best of the rebooted Star Trek franchise to date and even with the many quibbles which I had with the previous two movies, I do like them, but I do not love them. This, on the other hand has the potential to be a Trek classic by tapping into what makes classic Star Trek such.

BARCO ESCAPE

As I have already posted before, Star Trek Beyond is one of the first films to be produced in the Barco Escape format, a new take on the Cinerama three panel immersive widescreen format of the 1950’s. For more of this check out my other post here.

In memory of Leonard Nimoy (1931 – 2015) and Anton Yelchin (1989 -2016)


CINERAMA 2.0 (aka THE BARCO ESCAPE FORMAT)

July 17, 2016

star_trek_beyond_ver2_xlgAs many nEoFILM’s followers will no doubt be aware, I am a HUGE fan of Cinerama, the defunct and some may rightly say, the failed format which was used in theatres between 1952 and 1963, in its truest sense at least. Projecting three full frame 35mm images onto a 146 degree curved widescreen, the three panel Cinerama format ushered in the wide screen revolution in the 1950’s, as well as helping along the multi-channel sound systems whcih we used to day, coining the term “Stereophonic Sound” in the process.

But, there were many drawbacks to this format but it was the beginning, and its most notable decedent is the the large screen format of our day, IMAX. But the newly revealed“Barco Format” goes in some way to reinvent this wheel, by not only attempting a three panel wide/curved screen format, but with each panel seemingly being in the 2.39:1 ratio, doubling the width and enveloping the audience in the most daring way in decades.

And as it essentially adapts the multi-monitor format of our PC’s, this is progressive and responsive to our viewing habits which many of us already use in some way, whether it be a dual screen display at work, or a gaming machine at home.

It is bold, ambitious but ultimately innovative. But is this too similar to continually re-inventing 3-D every 30 years or so?

Only time will tell.

But in the meantime check out this Barco Escape version of the Star Trek Beyond (2016) trailer which has just appeared on the internet this evening. Personally, I am very exited about this as the potential  for both cinema and home screens is huge.

Barco Escape

cinerama logo

For more on my views on Cinerama search nEoFILM and you will find plenty!


ENCOUNTERS IN THE THIRD DIMENSION (3D)

July 8, 2016

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CANDLES 5

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DIRECTOR:  Ben Stassen, Sean MacLeod Phillips

May contain spoilers!

…Or Encounter In The Thrid Dimension….

NO! There is no spelling mistakes, okay well there is a deliberate one, one which appears in the film’s title as a moment of, (cough) comedy…

Originally presented back in 1999 on duel-strip 70mm IMAX 3D, this short 40 minute contrivance is a so-called comedic documentary, the sort that children would have been shown on a trip to a museum with an IMAX screen back in the day. It supposedly takes a look at the history of 3D cinema through a CGI laboratory in which the film is set. This is a blending of CGI and real photography with our host, guide and mad scientist (Stuart Pankin) who will lead us through the world of the third dimension.

But this tour begins on the wrong foot. One of the first so called historical 3D clips is the Lumiere’s and their “Train pulling into the station”, often regarded as the first real public presentation of film. Later in the 1930’s, they would revisit this footage and convert it into early 3D though the footage has yet to be recovered, but this film not only claims that they were making 3D films in 1896, which is WRONG as last year saw the centenary of 3D, with the first public showing taking place in New York City in Jun of 1915. It also decides to replace the original footage with a terrible 3D CGI abomination!

But is not all bad, with the inclusion of a clip from T2-3D, the now defunct Universal Studio Tours ride, making this the ONLY DVD to have any of this particular footage included to date, as well as few clips from actual 3D films from 1950’s and a selection of 3D photography.

But when all is said and done, this was a misjudged IMAX movie with a childish tone for a subject which is now considered to be more historically significant than when this was made.

The DVD on the other hand, I would consider to be rare, yet it is cheap. It is rare because nobody wants them and I get it, they are only for the enthusiast. At the time when I picked these up, the early 2000’s, 3D was still limited to a few IMAX theatres and would not break into the mainstream until 2009’s Avatar, even though it began it resurgence in 2007 with Disney’s Meet The Robinson’s and the low budget horror flick, Scar 3D.

These discs provide TWO 3D options. The first is an Anaglyth variant known as Color-Code 3D and the second was known as Field Sequential, which is basically the forerunner of todays LCD shutter glasses. So with this in mind, it occurred to me to dig out my copy of this disc and see if my DLP 3D projector would play the format and…

it does!

The problem is that this format was designed way back when for CRT TV’s and it appears that it lowers the resolution from DVD’s 525 lines to Video Cassette’s 200 or so lines. The result: A pixelated image that you would expect from a lower res image of Youtube which has been blown up.

So, this is the down side. The upside however is the colour is vibrant and the 3D is astonishing. The DTS sound, taken from the IMAX negative is rich and powerful, the image would be better if not using the Field Sequential option but the 3D image is worth the sacrifice.

This is just a fun 40 minute three dimensional extravaganza for fans of IMAX or 3D, providing not the greatest experience that can be had with home cinema by any stretch, but something different and unusual as not many people will be watching this film anymore and certainly not like this.

I would strongly recommend this cheap and unusual DVD to fans of either IMAX or 3D and whilst you will not be blown away by the picture clarity if using the F.S. option, the Color-Code will still work and the 2D Version is included, the F.S. 3D is IMAX  at its most bold and brash from the time it was made, a time when 3D was just a quirky idea from the past.


ATTILA THE HUN

July 6, 2016

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1954

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CANDLES 7

DIRECTOR: Pietro Francisci

This is a hard movie to see. Better known as Attila in it’s native Italy, yet the Derran Super 8 release which I saw was called Attila The Hun and also dubbed into English, a version whcih I have to find on home media.

Starring Anthony Quinn, (Qvinn) and Sofia Loren, Attila (Quinn) took on the on the Roman Empire and won, setting the scene for their final fall and evolution in to the Rome which still exists to day, the seat of power for Christianity and the Pope.

The film is short, pre-widescreen and a simple sword and sandal epic of the period, not a match for the colourful MGM epics of the same the era but a cheaper alternative. Having said that, Attila is a simple and effective tale, based on the truth of the Hun’s war against the weakening Roman Empire.

Featuring typically overblown performances of the day, there is no doubt that Quinn is actually quite good and convincing as the rebellious leader and whilst much if the dialogue is explanatory and a bit representative, it works on its own level, whilst not being a convincing epic it manages to tell its story well, concisely and entertaining.

 

 

 

 

 


BOWLING FOR COLUMBINE

July 4, 2016

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CANDLES 9

DIRECTOR: Michael Moore

May contain spoilers!

Michael Moore’s chilling examination of the American love affair with their guns and the devastating consequences thereof, Bowling For Columbine takes its title from the infamous event in which two boys who would go to their high school on the 20th April 1999 and murder ten students and one teacher, in what was at the time one of the worst school shootings in U.S. history.

The Columbine High School massacre in Littleton, Colorado was just one of a many such vicious attacks from a disenfranchised youth but Moore is on a mission  to determine what may be a the core of the America high mortality rate with guns.

Is it cultural violence? Video games or movies? Poverty? Access to guns? The answer would seem to be none of the above, rather a culture of fear propagated by the American media. This would be a recurrent theme in Moore’s work, attacking the government and the media’s use of fear and scaremongering in order to keep the American people from questioning the military campaigns of their government.

Whether he is right or this is a just a work of liberal propaganda is as debatable as the topics but personally, I feel that Moore expertly presents his arguments and makes a strong case, but this is documentary will not be for everyone.


TITANIC (1953)

July 1, 2016

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sU

CANDLES 5

DIRECTOR: Jean Negulesco

Of all the Titanic movies, this Hollywood attempt from 1953 must surly stand as one of the worst, even standing next to the appalling Nazi propaganda version from 1943! I would not even call this a truncated version, rather and rushes and lackadaisical re-telling of the disaster, in which there are heroes, dignity and a lack of conviction or at least confidence in telling this story.

The disaster itself is reduced to a half an hour of footnotes whilst the main story is a first class melodrama focusing a Barbara Stanwick and Clifton Webb’s impending divorce and the true parentage of their son. Though I must admit, these relationships do provide the nearest thing to a palpable character arch during this movie, which not only takes numerous liberties, it also misses the point several times.

But having said that, it would not be until 1958 with A Night To Remember (1958) where a sobering and more detailed examination would be committed to celluloid and this film is clearly a product of its time, just off the back of Hollywood’s Golden Age and it may well have been perceived that audiences would not be interested in a more detailed break down of the disaster itself. Maybe this was true?

Overall, it will do for its time but being so light and fluffy, it cannot stand the test of time.


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