Breaking the Cinematic Drought

Kitt and I have been to the movies a few times lately – mostly to The Astor which is just through the park from our place. We really like the Astor and prefer to support them rather than some mega-corp multiplex, although some days you just have to buckle under to see something while it’s still new.

The Golden Compass
We went to see this at a multiplex on Jan 31st to avoid the scorching 40+ heat outside (great idea Kitt, thanks :). Not a bad yarn, the effects blend seamlessly, the plot & acting are pretty good and it had some great moments. I did feel a bit let down at the end as after the big fight scene it drops back to a “I know we’re going to make it” segway into the next movie. Perhaps I wouldn’t have felt so dumped if I’d known it was the first movie in a series? I didn’t feel dumped with Fellowship of the Ring or Two Towers, just anticipation. I did feel dumped with this one and Eragorn – perhaps it’s the not knowing that leaves you deflated at the end?

Where Final Fantasy was like watching a cut scene on a PS2, Beowulf was like watching a cut scene on a PS3. Way better graphics, but still computerised. This movie used computers to provide a digital version of rotorscoping (animating a movie by tracing over filmed actors) – makes bodies buffer (or fatter :) and lets them put in creatures, amazing backgrounds & scenes, etc. Interesting to see their interpretations of the buff bods of Beowulf and Grendel’s mom (mmmmm, Angelina :) let alone the monstrosities of Grendel and the dragon. Shame about the accents though – once again like 300, Alexander and other Holywood versions of ancient history, they were somewhat grating. It was also wierd to have very Austin Powers influenced “Beowulf’s naked but we’re not going to show you the naughty bit” scenes. Still, it’s a massive adventure with amazing fight scenes and gore – like 300, well worth seeing.

A Scanner Darkly
Here’s another variation of rotorscoping – this time done in an animated/cartoon style (rather than as computer-reality) giving a grainy, disjoint, drug-induced feel to the movie. I really like Phillip K Dick’s stories and this one crossed dark sci-fi near-future with Naked Lunch and Fear & Loathing in Las Vegas. Once again Keanu Reaves worked well as the lead, playing the role of a cop who’s losing his personality due to drugs. Funny how he works best as characters with no personality :)