Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Spy vs Guy





This short film is called Spy vs. Guy

The official synopsis: A retired Russian spy hunts down dangerous technology after it falls into unsuspecting hands. Directed by Seth Worley, and written by Seth, Micah Lanier, Neil Hoppe, and Aharon Rabinowitz under the Red Giant banner.

And that's about all I know...

Let's watch.


Not bad. Kind of funny, in a pretty classically slapstick kind of way. Very Peter Sellers. And all while tipping its hat to the old Spy vs. Spy comic. Some of it was really funny, actually. The message delivery system disguised as Weather Alerts made me laugh. It looked good too, kind of a Le Carre aesthetic going on. I really liked the wildly complex, but archaic machinery of his support system, and the amazing-but-dated superspy gear it would provide him. I liked it.

Worth a watch,
Jon

Friday, April 17, 2015

Films I'm looking forward to: Star Wars: The Force Awakens (2nd Teaser) - UPDATED!

Just when I think I'm out...

Have I talked about Star Wars here before? Probably, right? I'm sure I have. Do I need to say more? No? Well then, let's just jump right to it and watch the new teaser...


Revel in it, man. Revel in it.

Yes, it may have broken the Internet yesterday, so you've probably all watched it a million-billion times by now, but I thought since we've now all had a day or so to sit and think about it, we should talk about what there is to love here, because there really is so much here to love...


I think I'm legally required to point out the new rectangular Radar dish on the Millennium Falcon. So, do you see it? Huh? HUH?!?! Good. Moving on, it really is great to see this ship again, huh? The classic moment, the happily familiar done right, the Falcon facing down some TIE fighters. It's just good to see this. It's reassuring. It's a whiz-bang clear hint that they've gotten the touchstones right.

But then you get this too. A crashed X-Wing crumpled in the foreground, and the ruins of a Star Destroyer looming in the background. This is your first indication of the passage of time, that things have changed a great deal. It's fantastic imagery, and very telling.

This is BB8. He's the "new" R2-D2, the new main droid--not that R2 has gone anywhere or anything. BB8 is pretty cool, I think, but the best part about him? He is not CGI, he's all practical effect. That's cool. Plus, it lets you know that these films aren't going to be the total Greenscreen/CGI screaming mess that the Prequels were... at least, not totally.

I love this moment. There's just something incredible about how the X-Wings are coming in over the water here... I love it, it's so good. Add that feeling to the whoosh of the speed and the exhilaration of the roaring engines, a sentiment obviously shared by the pilots, and instead of the dour, poo-faced seriousness you get from some franchises--CoughBatmanVsSupermanCough--you're suddenly feeling the fun of this franchise again, and that's fantastic. The weird split turbine thing on the wings kinda bugs me though...

Speaking of things that bug me, this is Kit Fisto... You heard me. Kit Fisto. Let that sink in for a second. Kit Fisto. Fisto! That's what someone named him. I mean... what the fuck? Fisto? Kit Fisto? I guess they can't all be winners, but shit, man. However, despite this egregiously horrible name, there are idiot "fans" out there who are more upset/confused by his new lightsaber. I don't know why, because it's awesome, except for the obvious reason: They're idiots... Anyway, Kit is the bad guy, as evidenced by his gaunt and striking silhouette, his tattered black cloak, and his red lightsaber. He looks pretty good, really. I just wish his name wasn't Baby Cat Sex Act.

UPDATE: Holy shit! It has been brought to my attention that this guy isn't named Kit Fisto after all--Thank the Maker! Kit Fisto is the squid-head alien, the one that crossed over from Men in Black. Anyway, this guy's name is Rylo Ken... which is still a pretty dumb name.

So, I don't know if this is true or not, but people are claiming this is Gwendoline Christie. I hope so, because she's awesome and so is this suit, so if it's true, together they'll be mega-awesome. Rumor is, this is the soldier who is hunting John Boyega's AWOL Stormtrooper character. I love everything about this look. I love the color. I love the cloak. It's new. It's menacing. This is a good design.

And speaking of good design. I really like the tweeks to the Stormtrooper armor too. I like the idea that things have evolved, because time has passed. And I really like how the design seems to have gone forward, as opposed to the Prequels, where instead of designing it all as if it were the previous incarnation of the equipment/outfits seen in the original movies, everything ended up looking more modern and much sleeker... which was shockingly stupid. So, yep, I'm totally for this. Also, the remnants of the Empire left over since Return of the Jedi now call themselves The First Order. It's a pretty good name, I guess, but The First Order of what...? Business, I guess. Nachos? Maybe... I hope so. I love Nachos.

And then there's this. What else can I really say here except: Awesome. I'm just really glad to see these two again. How could you not be?

Finally, here we have Oscar IsaacDaisy Ridley, and John Boyega as Poe Dameron, Rey and Finn. I'm not quite sold on the names. They're not anywhere near as bad as Kit Fisto, but still... Poe Dameron? Maybe it's just me, but it just sounds so awkward. Poe Dameron. Even Dameron Poe sounds better. I gotta say, the track record of the names so far with these new films is not good, people. Also, I really hope Rey and Finn get last names. Anyway, all of that aside, the three of them definitely look good.

I approve.

Shocking, I know. I never thought it would happen again after The Prequels, but I'm actually excited for more Star Wars. Who would've ever thought that the key to maybe making Star Wars great again was to dump George Lucas? Don't feel bad for him, the man has enough money to buy a solid gold house and rocket car.

However, all that having been said, after watching the teaser, I think it's important to keep two things in mind: Star Trek Into Darkness, and Super 8. Both were good looking films. Star Trek Into Darkness (or more appropriately... STiD) was slick and glossy and fast. It had good looking forward momentum to spare. It was pretty as all get out, and actiony as hell too, well shot and well choreographed. And Super 8 looked just like an Amblin/Steven Spielberg movie from the 80s, almost exactly like a Spielberg movie, in fact. It was amazing how exact it was, actually. The attention to detail, the little quirks and nuances, stunning. And how charming were those kids? Super charming. Super 8 seemed less an imitator of a long gone time, and more an actual artifact.

But both films were terrible.

Mind-numbingly bad.

So, as we all stand here, breathless, giddy with excitment, toes to the edge of a six month slide down into what appears to be a gorgeous-looking update of the much-beloved, and now long gone glory days of a once-favorite franchise, try to remember this, folks, so as to temper your expectations: What we see on display here today? This teaser? This is what J.J. Abrams and his people are good at. In fact, it wouldn't be unreasonable to say that this is what they excel at. They're fucking great at it. They can stir your emotions like no one's business, manipulating you through orchestral cues and sudden imagery until you cry. They're masters of the art of trailer making. So, my advice? Let's all take a small step back from the edge, and keep our fingers and toes crossed that Abrams and his people can do even half as well with the script this time out as they can with the visuals, okay?

Because usually, they can't.


BUT... to end on an upbeat note... Good or bad, no matter how Episode VII ends up this Christmas, Episode VII is going being directed by Rian Johnson. So hold on to that. I am.

The Force is strong within me again,
Jon

Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Films I'm looking forward to: Mad Max: Fury Road - Official Main Trailer


This is the fourth trailer for this film that I've posted here. Fourth. I've gone on and on about it. Seriously. Look herehere, and most recently here, if you don't believe me. And yet, my excitement remains undimmed. UNDIMMED, people. In fact, it grows with each viewing. You have watched this, right? It is literally the most awesome trailer ever. Literally. The most awesome. Ever.

Trust me, it's even better the fourth time.

Let's watch. 



What a lovely May,
Jon

Monday, March 30, 2015

Sundays







I know, I know, I've posted a lot of these type of things lately. What can I say, it must be short film season. Regardless, this is the last one for awhile, I promise. Maybe. We'll see.

Whatever, let's get to it.

Sundays is another proof-of-concept sci-fi short film. It's from PostPanic Pictures, directed by Mischa Rozema, and written by Rozema and Kevin Koehler. They're aiming for a full feature, of course, and it sounds like Warner Brothers is going to grant their wish. We shall see. Best of luck to them.

So what is it? 

Here's the official synopsis: The end of the world seems like a nightmare to Ben. A memory of a past life that doesn’t belong to him. When Ben starts to remember Isabelle, the only love he’s ever known, he realizes she’s missing in his life. An existential descent into confusion and the desperate need to find out the truth begins. This reality depicts a stunning, surprising and dark world. A world that is clearly not his.

Okay... well, that doesn't tell us too much...

Let's watch.



Huh...

Well, like most Proof-of-Concept trailers, this one basically delivers on some interesting visuals, but little to no story or character. There's so little, in fact, it feels a bit presumptuous of them to list anyone as the "screenwriter" really. Not to say that this short film is bad or anything--like I said: It looks great--but more so than usual, this short film seems to lack a narrative thread, so it just doesn't seem fair to lay claim to the title of screenwriter when the entire point seems to be barely connected visuals of a dystopian/oppressive society, one that may or may not be a computer simulation... Did you catch that part?

Anyway, yeah, there's definitely some cool visuals, but it all feels barely connected.

It was certainly no Leviathan, that's for sure.

Jon

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

The Awareness





This short film is called The Awareness. It's by writer/director Henry Dunham, his first project, and one that plays deep within the shade of some classic sci-fi tropes.

Here's the synopsis: On the eve of a technological breakthrough, an insignificant janitor and a prominent engineer are faced with a decision that will alter the course of humanity: the release of the first aware computer system into the world.

That sounds like good stuff; let's check it out...



In a nutshell, I like where this film went. It's a well done twist. It took a little too long to get there, maybe, and it really got a little clunky with the exposition toward the end especially, but in the end it worked out nice, I think.

Jon


Thursday, March 19, 2015

C (299.792 km/s)



Today we have a short film called C (299.792 km/s), it's by Seaquark Films. It's... an odd film. I'm not really sure how to describe it for you before you've seen it. It's not bad or anything, just kind of... odd. Here's the synopsis: C is the story of Lieutenant Commander Malleck and her radical act of mutiny during an interplanetary cold war.

All right, if you say so...

Let's watch.



Okay, so... first off: There's a really odd cadence to this film, isn't there? It's almost like it's an old BBC show, or maybe some sort of a music video, but with the song missing? Or maybe it reminds me of an old video game cut scene where English is not the first language, or where the dialogue was programmed by a computer? Maybe? Kind of? I don't know. That's not really it, but I can't really put my finger on what it puts me in mind of. Maybe it's all of these at once. Either way, it's an odd duck, that's for sure. I do think it looked pretty good for an obviously "made on the cheap" sci-fi film. And, while the story is pretty vague in the larger sense--Interplanetary Cold War... What?--the characters and their relation to each other was sketched out pretty well. This was fun. I enjoyed it.

It's no Space-whale Hunt, but all in all...? Not too bad. Odd, sure, but not too bad.

Check it out,
Jon

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

The Leviathan







So yeah, this has been flooding the Feeds as of late, so you may have already seen this. But if not, what's three minutes out of your day? What are you doing that's so important?

Nothing. That's what, so read on...

The Leviathan is a Proof of Concept Teaser for a film that probably won't ever happen, but who cares because it's a pretty god damn awesome Proof of Concept Teaser. It's by Director Ruairi Robinson and Screenwriter Jim Uhls. You'll see that when you watch the short, because they have totally front-loaded their names on this thing, they're super grandiose about it. I mean, sure... it's their film, so why not, but still... shit, man... talk about blowing your own trumpet.

Maybe it's just me.

I guess I can understand being proud, it's a hell of a good looking little teaser.

Seriously. It really does look great. It sells its world, and the action is tense and well done. I'm not sure what concept they think they're proving, because there's basically zero story to speak of beyond: Hunting Sky-whales on an alien planet can be dangerous. That's cool, but it's not a lot of meat to build a feature out of, really. Some places are calling it "Moby Dick in Space", but I don't think that's a fair summation, mostly due to the absolute dearth of actual characters, or motivation, or story. Whatever. Either way, it's still definitely super entertaining. I've watched it twice so far.

Let's watch it together...



See? That was pretty great, right? Cool. Imaginative. But like I said: Almost zero actual story. Still, they can definitely hang their hats on: Looks awesome. I love the light on the clouds, and the design and execution of the creature. That's great stuff. It's so evocative of a whale in the ocean, obviously, and the classic imagery of a whale hunt, and yet, it's still so alien. Also, I'm a huge fan of the industrial-looking future technology style, that whole Firefly/Aliens/Blade Runner type of look, where everything looks like it was definitely built, and is used daily, by humans, so I love the look of the hunters' gear and vehicles.

In the end, yes, there's no story or characters. It's basically a video game cut-scene, but that isn't really all that detrimental to the end product, at least, not this time out, in my opinion. This film is short but sweet, and it definitely leaves me wanting more.

It's worth a look.

There be whales here,
Jon