June 18, 2015


73638_left_hiCast your mind back to 2006. The ubiquitous term HD, Hi-Def or High Definition began to permeate the culture. Less than decade had passed after DVD decimated Video and was the best thing ever, but now it wasn’t good enough. The resolution was just half of the 1080p HD format, which TV channels had already being testing for year, with the 2004 Athens Olympics springing to mind, but it was a tough sell, in the same way that Ultra HD 4K is now.

People ask do we need it? Well no, but in time it will become standard and we’ll all have it built in to everything but who wants top pay through the nose for it now? Only the hardcore and this was the problem back in 2006. HD was here but there were too few takers to bring the price down. So, 3D TV was invented. Cinemas plan to use 3D to curb piracy was high-jacked by Sony and the 3D bubble exploded and imploded almost as quickly as people couldn’t afford it and those who could, had plenty to complain about.

Sky_3D_2011In short, 3D TV was nothing more than a way of pimping up HD, which better than SD it may have been or be, it is not the greatest selling point. But now even Sky, the most cynical of satellite networks has cut back on their 3D coverage, axing their Sky 3D channel and no longer showing Sky Sports in 3D either.

The 3D bubble has burst and when the dust settles we will be back to 2D, with a collection of 3D movies which have made a notable impact on Cinema and 3D technology built in as standard in everything. The irony is that it takes a format to fail before everyone gets a chance to see what all the fuss was about.

You never know though, in fifteen years or so, when everyone can just turn of their TV, projector, tablet, phone of whatever devices we are using then, 3D will no doubt rear it’s head again and may they will get it right. But this time it is defiantly a case of “close, but no cigar”.



June 17, 2015

digital-cinema-projector-4k-main-image-1blu-ray-3d-logoreald-logoIt’s been eight years since the digital 3D “Revolution” hit, with the little known and equally forgotten Scar 3D (2007) having the honour of being one of the first digital 3D films, along with Disney’s Meet The Robinsons (2007), to be released. IMAX had dominated a limited revival for some time before that with one of the most notable releases and certainly for me, as it was the my first 3D film to be seen at the cinema, was James Cameron’s Ghost Of The Abyss (2003), a documentary “follow up” to his hit 1997 epic, Titanic (1997).

meet_the_robinsons_xlgBut this was analogue 3D, which in simple terms, means that there were two IMAX 70mm projectors running in tandem, synchronizing the images as they hit the massive screen. But with the rise of Real D 3D, along with IMAX bursting into the mainstream thanks to the corporations move from 70mm film to digital, kind of defeating the purpose but, anyway, 3D became the latest in a long line of pop culture bubbles, but like all bubbles, it needs to burst eventually and it pretty much just has.

3-D had been around since 1915, yes that is true, though the most famous eras are the 1950’s with movies such as House Of Wax (1953), Dial M For Murder (1954) and Creature From The Black Lagoon (1954) and the 1980’s, where Jaws 3D (1983) springs to mind!

scar_xlgBut at least the 1950’s took a real stab at it, with Dial M For Murder making up part the Hitchcock legacy and Creature From The Black Lagoon being considered as a classic in its own right, but the 1980’s didn’t quite make it. But now, with the digital bubble trying to push the format into our lives with everything from Cinema, TV and even games consoles such a the Nintendo 3DS, 3D has triumphed a much as it has fallen.

Avatar (2009) was the game changer, a massive box office success and in no small part due to the must see nature of the 3D and this would lead to almost all the major blockbusters adopting the format with variable success. My first bad experience of 3D was just a few months later with Clash Of The Titans (2010), a post converted 3D movie which was bad enough in 2D but the 3D was a total disaster.

But then we have movies such as Martin Scorsese’s Hugo (2011), a masterpiece of 3D photography, an exercise in restraint and subtly. Pixar’s 3D is the same, creating beautifully layered images, rather than out of the screen 3D. Tron Legacy (2010) tried to take it to more immersive level by paying homage to the principles used in The Wizard Of Oz (1939), with the classic film beginning in Black & White and bursting to glorious Technicolor when we arrive the Land of Oz. In this case, Director Joseph Kosinski’s Tron sequel begins his film in 2D and opens up in to 3D when we arrive in the CGI world of the computer.

star_wars_episode_one_the_phantom_menace_3d_movie_poster_01But talking about The Wizard Of Oz, this is one of so many classics which have been “Upgraded” to 3D, joining films such as The Lion King (1994), Titanic (1997) and the all but buried Star Wars: Episode I: The Phantom Menace (1999/2011). This is a cynical attempt to make money, not much different than posting junk all over a Facebook in order to get hits or colorising old films, as was controversially done with movies such as The Night Of The Living Dead and It’s A Wonderful Life (1946).

Having said that, the worse example of this are conversions of i,Robot (2004) and Jumper (2007), both converted solely for Blu-ray 3D, neither receiving a theatrical 3D release and both being, well rubbish for want of a better word. Well, maybe that is a bit harsh, as they are watchable but in no way worthy of this kind of treatment unless the studio thinks that by upgrading these films that they can try to squeeze a few more Cents of them. And let’s face it, with these two who can blame them?

So, after eight years of argument of over headaches, expensive equipment, inflated cinema tickets and rubbish post conversions of major blockbusters, the audiences seems to have had enough. 2D is coming back. But the truth behind 3D is self-evident…




June 16, 2015

3DThanks to Flicker Alley, who have made there name releasing such rarities at the Smilebox Cinerama Travelogues and a vast array of silent movies, including the most influential version of Sherlock Holmes this year, I was as surprised as I was delighted to see their plans for a 3D compilation of shorts.

274432768This Blu-ray 3D set consists of a broad selection of 3D shorts and segments spanning 1922 – 1962.


Released in honour of the centenary of 3D, which was first commercially presented on the 10th June 1915 in Times Square, New York, 3-D Rarities was release six days after the anniversary itself in order for the theatrical presentation to take place.

Obviously, living in the U.K. I will have to wait for the Blu-ray which is already pre-ordered but I am looking forward to this unusual release. The early reviews are very good, sighting a top notch restoration of the films which would otherwise be lost. It is a shame though, that as stated in the early descriptions, Flicker Alley has had to pull the Lumière test films, which I believe would have included their 3-D conversion of L’arrivée d’un train en gare de La Ciotat (1896) (The Arrival of the Mail Train (U.K.) but there are some rights issues, if I understand correctly. Maybe next time and hopefully this won’t be the only 3-D release from Flicker Alley, a personal favourite of mine.

Quote from Flicker Alley

Please note:  The Lumière test footage, previously listed as part of the contents, is no longer available to our project partners, 3-D Film Archive, to include in this publication.   We regret this inconvenience and still hope that you will enjoy the many other rare treasures and supplemental bonus features in this specially-curated collection.

The 3D Film Archive (Link below) is a great resource for learning more about this controversial, yet historic format.

Expect the review of 3-D Rarities to follow soon after my copy arrives…



June 11, 2015

Jurassic_WorldIn the worlds of the late John Hammond (Sir Richard Attenborough),“Welcome to Jurassic Park”. The words uttered by Michael Crichton and Steven Spielberg’s fictional entrepreneur upon revealing the Brachiosaurus to his guests in the 1993 Blockbuster, Jurassic Park. Now, 22 year and three sequels on, he would no doubt be welcoming his guest to Jurassic World, the realisation of his dream to create a Disney World style resort featuring dinosaurs, resurrected from DNA found in fossilised mosquitoes, imprisoned in pre-historic amber.


The original was and still is, one of my all time favourite films and even though its sequels, The Lost World (1997) and Jurassic Park III (2001) never lived up to the original, both were good in their own ways.

The first was a logical expansion of the universe set up in Jurassic Park whilst the threequel was little more than a child friendly dinosaur romp, though good fun if you let it wash over you. But Jurassic World has the promise of giving us something else.

jurassic_worldFirstly, we are going back to Isla Nubar, the island from the first film, I.E. Jurassic Park itself and secondly, with some of the writing talent behind Rise Of The Planet Of The Apes (2011), very cleverly tying in a 21st century movie with the 1968 classic, Planet Of The Apes, this has the prospect of taking the story to where Spielberg’s original was only hinting, as well as giving us a taste of what we wanted Jurassic Park II to be; returning to Jurassic Park.

The big question is; is the title Jurassic World simply a reference to the new park and the move away from a dino-safari park into Disney World, as well as references to Crichton’s early attempts, Westworld (1973) and Futureworld (1976), or is this a hint as to how this franchise might be heading should this soft reboot do well…?

…and could this early teaser poster (right) be giving away more than it first appears…

Stay tuned…


June 1, 2015

HD141x_beauty-leftToday, after a long wait, I have finally been able to upgrade my home cinema setup to full HD 3D. I am, as always, on a budget. I can’t afford the best, top end equipment but have built up a good set up over the past 15 years, with a Pioneer 6.1 THX certified Amp, a Sanyo PLV-X3 HD ready projector, which means that it is limited to just 1080i, though in the summer of 2005, this was more than you needed.

I also have set of Mission speakers, a pair of Sony 7.1 Headphones and a myriad of DVD and Blu-ray players etc.. to play my large collection of DVD/Blu-rays. As for 3D, I do have a basic polarised 3D TV, manufactured Teckinika and it is pretty good. But it is not what I have wanted. I have a passion for projection.

zf2100Ever since I was young boy and my dad would get his 8mm and 16mm projectors out on a Saturday night, to when I was 13 or 14, when I bought my first cine projector from a second hand camera shop in Stockport, though it was silent and the reel arms were too small, this only served to make me more resourceful. I would record the sound tracks off my dad’s sound projector and manually sync them with my Bush stereo, as I would project old films on to a hand painted, hard board screen which was screwed to the wall.

It wasn’t until May 2003, that I bought my first video projector, the Sanyo PLV-Z1, which was okay, it cost £1,400 but I thought it was the bee knees. Two years later I upgraded to the Z3 and have had that for 10 years, on ONE bulb might I add, but ever since 2009 and 3D exploded, I have wanted to upgrade but haven’t been able to afford it. The Tecknika TV which I bought in 2012 was a compromise. At least I could buy 3D movies now and see what they were like but I could not do what I really wanted to and enjoy the big screen experience, something which I could do with any 2D film on the projector.

But at least now, I have  large collection of 3D Blu-ray ready to show on the big screen. I’ve ended up with the Optoma hd141x Full HD 1080p 3D projector.

Optoma has been a option for years, offering a decent projector at a good price but the problem a few years ago was that you needed to but the projector (£400/£500), then 3D adapter for around £150 and the 3D classes which used to cost around £80 each. I needed 6 pairs!

The overall cost was just over £1000 and it was too much. But things have changed and now I have just paid little over £540 for the lot! And after initial testing it looks FANTASTIC. Unlike the Polarised 3D option, used in theatres and on the lower end TV’s, such as mine, you do not have to be sitting in a sweet spot to enjoy the image and ghosting kept to a minimum.

Check this out on Amazon if you fancy the upgrade. So far, this looks great for those on a budget. But like anything, time will tell…



April 29, 2015


The renowned Cornerhouse Cinema, located on Manchester’s Oxford Road has sadly closed its doors for the last time, last month, as in 2012, the Cornerhouse merged with Library Theatre Company, which has operated from the basement of Manchester’s Central Library since the 1950’s, to form HOME, which will be located on First Street, just around the corner from, well, the Cornerhouse.

Opening back in October 1985, with its first film, Nic Roeg’s, Insignificance showing two weeks later, the Cornerhouse occupied two buildings. The three screen cinema itself was located in what was famously an adult cinema, Tatler and the exhibition space and bar etc… was located next door in the 1900’s built ex-furnisher store. I have to admit that so far I haven’t and will never set foot in the ex-Tatler cinema but I have seen the odd exhibition at 70 Oxford Road, of the main building.

And since I’ve spent the last 14 years working down the road from this institution at The University of Manchester, it’s a real regret that I’ve missed my opportunity to enjoy the real taste of independent cinema. The project is still running in its new home, HOME, but still, in the 30 years that the Cornerhouse has been operating, I have only ever seen the movie posters displayed outside as I’ve passed them for over a decade on my way to and from work.

This cinema even played host the U.K. premier of Quentin Tarantino’s seminal cinema début, Reservoir Dogs (1992), obviously, a tiny film at the time but now, one of the cinema’s greats.

Picture: nEoPOL  © All rights reserved 2015


March 12, 2015

color_nimoy_headshotHere in the U.K. it was late on a Friday afternoon that the news broke of Leonard Nimoy’s death. At 83, he had certainly lived a life and in that life he had achieved the status of screen icon as Mr. Spock from the equally as iconic TV show, Star Trek (1966 – 1969). From 1966 up until today, Leonard Nimoy would always be Spock to millions, if not billions in that 48 year time span.

Even after retiring from acting a few years ago, he continued on shows such as Fringe and had cameo’s in the latest two Star Trek movies. It was this relationship with J.J. Abrams which many will remember in his final years.

But Spock was his legacy and a character which like Star Trek, transcended the small screen to become a phenomenon and gain a fanatical fan base across the world. And this was very much due to the both humble and integral nature of Nimoy, often manifested by his protective relationship of the Spock character, preparing to kill him off in 1982 in order to leave him behind on high note. But with the iconic success of Spock’s death in _81337109_8c57eba6-011b-4561-a407-a8026c8e2cb5Star Trek II: The Wrath Of Khan (1982), he had to return and he managed to wrangle the director’s gig for Star Trek III & IV (1984 & 1986), his first theatrical films, though he had some work on TV in the years prior.

After his more comical take of Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home, his next directorial project was the classic 80’s flick 3 Men And A Baby (1987) along with few more lesser know works.

As the Star Trek work dried up his more notable screen credits included a couple of stints of The Simpsons and more recently, the less than subtle role of Sentinel Prime in Transformers: Dark Of the Moon (2011) which was littered with Spock references right from the get go.

His career was long and varied, spanning TV and film, as well as photography, celebrity and philanthropy but on the 27th February 2015, we lost a legend of the big and small screen alike.

Rest in peace.


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