Everybody else is doing it, so why not try it? It looks promising… the film’s Facebook page where all photos, videos, and links can be readily organized and properly documented. Easy access, especially when being asked about online resources for screenings and programs where the film is entered or invited to. So here you go…
The Philippine-Korean-Iraqi 16mm short film “Technophilia” will have a screening at “RAW: Las Vegas Presents Fusion” on Aug. 25, 2011 (Thursday) at Tommy Rocker’s in Las Vegas. If you’re in the Vegas area on the said date, you’re invited to come to the event and support local artists. You can buy tickets through this link. Buying ahead of time will only cost $10 for a night of film, music performances, photography, mixed media, and performance art exhibitions, and fashion show.
Inside a hangout place, the game addict boyfriend gets boxed up by his techie lifestyle, which further alters his relationship with his already fed-up girlfriend. Things become more and more mechanical as they move on.
RAW: natural born artists is an independent arts organization, for artists, by artists.
Our mission is to provide independent artists of all creative genres with the tools, resources, and exposure needed to inspire and cultivate creativity. RAW educates emerging artists through seminars, workshops, and insights to further knowledge of their industries.
RAW connects them with one another so that they may grow together, while also providing them with opportunities to give back to their own local youth communities through the arts.
We encourage the creative success of the many visionaries and storytellers of our generation.
Grassroots Showcase Events
RAW handpicks and spotlights local artistic talents in film, fashion, music, visual art, hair and makeup artistry, and performance art. With artists from all genres in each showcase, RAW events come together to form an amazing circus of creativity.
What Can You Expect when Attending the RAW Showcase?
We screen an independent film (usually a short, webisode, or music video), a fashion show from an up-and-coming local designer, a musical performance, an art gallery featuring several independent visual artists, and performance art (comedy/dance/fire dancers, you name it…). You’ll get a little taste of everything. Combine all this creativity with drinks, fun, and good company! To partake in the experience, RSVP ($10/ticket) in the “Showcases” section of the event.
Now, Inception is more than just a leap of faith for filmmaker Christopher Nolan.
With its elements about powerful ideas, dreaming in a dream, and dreaming inside other people’s dreams, Inception is one entertainingly hard-core, multi-layered mindbender. This motion picture masterpiece is one of the strongest science-fiction concepts to come in a long time. Nolan and his production team construct a breathtakingly audacious blockbuster narrative while not leaving the intelligent and more demanding film lovers behind.
Inception is nothing less than astounding. It dreams big, dreams deep, and creates challenging dreams to engage the wide-eyed dreamy viewers. In doing so, the film’s own thin line separating dream space and reality innovatively creates such a well-mounted story. It carefully blends the conscious and subconscious in various levels. It balances philosophical ideas and narrative tension within a labyrinthine plot that engages in various forms, degrees and intensities.
Whether for its visceral popcorn thrills, elegantly laid out action sequences, boldness and restraint, this ambitious film knows how to manipulate its thematic fetishes and its complicated narrative structure.
Like its own theme, Inception taps into the subconscious of each viewer in its relatively comprehensible way. Orchestrated by a crafting hand of a director who knows what he wants and how to make things happen, even the most obscure details get digested as the film cinematically sells its conceptual and emotional investments. It’s bold, intense, exhilarating, engaging, and impressive. It is complex yet coherent. It’s something that can benefit repeated viewings and feed the viewer with something new or different each time. Preposterous, yet ingeniously done, it offers such an entertaining ride. It serves as a popcorn flick, too!
While it is ambiguous enough to lead to conflicting opinions, the main purpose of the film is to engage the intellect about its theme and concept, not just merely figuring out which one is real, which one is a dream. While additional viewings are needed to personally provide a more solid analysis and opinion about the film’s ending, it seems more like the filmmaker crafts this opus in a way that there is no concrete interpretation to dictate to each and everyone that something is or is not.
The various elements, symbolisms, characterizations, and dialogues are carefully planted in a way that they work together to let the audience go beyond the need to figure out a twist or find out the “truth” behind the main story. Like how actual dreams are, Inception is open to different interpretations. And it does so without making specific aspects of it bug its quality down. It works in higher levels of film viewing that it touches something beyond a film viewer’s surface thinking, quite different from how s/he would typically treat other movies. And this is what makes Inception seem quite different from the usual. It is endlessly elliptical and it works in many facets. It allows its tagline “Your mind is the scene of the crime” validate itself; while its grand provisions for a visual feast keep up with the more palpable sense of its thrilling ride.
Inception isn’t perfect. Yet, its weak points are unquestionably shadowed by its brilliant and meandering machinations. The film splurges and invests in its concept, story, script, visuals, sound, emotions, and intellect, in accordance to how the film language can intangibly bring out all its cinematic ideas and values across.
Like Leonardo diCaprio’s character Cobb, Nolan is a meticulously skilled extractor and an architect of deep and provoking thoughts. He is a sly narrative tactician who juggles at big ideas and make people think about his idea. He takes the audience to a pleasurable trip through varying mental labyrinths filled with elegant dreamscapes and genuine human drama. It has a sort of paradoxical architecture of its own as Nolan offers a clockwork-precise showmanship in every scene. By the film’s ending, he impressively allows the characters to wake up from their dreams to figure out what’s real. Yet, whether for his film’s characters or for his film audience, things doesn’t really end there…
Inception is a rare movie project that can be enjoyed on a superficial and/or progressively deeper level of viewing. It uncannily fascinates the audience as the story moves further into the challenging layers of the subconscious mind. It is a work of a visionary. For all its high production values and budget requirements, this is the kind of film that the big movie studios should support more often.
The Iron Man Element Still Works By Rianne Hill Soriano
“Iron Man 2” keeps its visual and polished appeal. It is entertaining enough but falls a little short of delivering anything new, other than rediscovering its “new element.” Yet, it doesn’t really oblige itself to, anyway. It packs itself with a cool “Iron Man” air and it blasts things in awesome ways.
More than just being a popcorn spectacle with a typically mainstream plot, the shots are impressively well thought off, the acting performances are engaging, the sound elements and music deliver well, and the special effects are visual grabbers.
Robert Downey Jr. and the rest of the cast fill this superhero flick with solid performances fitting its action-techno-fantasy package. His style for witty dialogue with deadpan delivery continues to own and entertain the part. His portrayal of billionaire industrialist Tony Stark and his superhero alter ego Iron Man continues to be the movie’s most compelling component and the franchise’s strongest asset. People can keep such satisfied popcorn smiles while watching the movie.
“Iron Man 2” soars high amidst the heavy metal it wears. There are fewer surprises and exhilarating scenes than its smarter predecessor and there are a few moments of contrivances, but this sequel is still a thrilling and charming offer.
Other than its heavy reliance on CGI, action sets, and stunts, both its production team and cast members live up to the task of making the film a worthwhile action-packed film. It has an aptly fast-paced and glossy look that overwhelms its not so engaging plot. It remains mindlessly entertaining from the technophile’s haven scenes to the fight and chase scenes. The industrialist clunks sometimes get slightly annoying, but it remains mindlessly entertaining with all the big guns, high tech gadgets, cool cars, flashy metal suits and machinery plot.
The filmmakers seem conscious of both the advantages and disadvantages of fight scenes involving faceless actors in big titanium battle suits. The insert shots of their faces from inside their metal gears work. But interestingly, Tony Stark’s scenes are more point blank solid if compared to the showy Iron Man fight scenes. As usual, Downey’s performance as the man outside the suit works best whenever he is hanging out and having fun.
The verbose parts, mostly from the bantering moments and tireless arguments between the main tandems (Tony and Pepper; Hammer and Ivan), are fun and charming. Snappy one-liners also help the movie build up well.
More than his own charismatic personality transcending on screen, Downey’s character really blends well with his colleagues in the acting department. Gwyneth Paltrow as Pepper Potts provides wit, energy, and chemistry with the leading man as she offers a beating heart to the story without resulting to cheesiness. Scarlett Johannson as Natalie Rushman/Natasha Romanoff effectively steals the show with her fight scene. Her cyborg-ish looks also add to the film’s visual commercial flavor.
Sam Rockwell as Justin Hammer and Mickey Rourke as Ivan Vanko are great additions to the movie. Their characters are well developed; thus, making the typical plot and characterization work to the movie’s advantage. Rockwell’s smarmy acting is effectively irritating. He really measures up to the need of the story for such a selfish corporate freak character. Rourke is awesome with his very convincing performance as a Russian techno genius with a streak of both serious and comic personalities. He promotes a wide range of emotion than makes him such a driving force on the other end of the Iron Man’s superhero spectrum.
Don Cheadle as Lt. Col. James “Rhodey” Rhodes/War Machine doesn’t really transcend to the investment already made by Terrence Howard’s charismatic performance for the first “Iron Man.” It’s such a disappointing change that really affects this significant part of the franchise. Personally, Howard’s Rhodey is a bull’s eye in the same way as Downey’s Stark. Unfortunately, Cheadle doesn’t live up well as a needed replacement.
Garry Shandling as Senator Stern delivers greatly as the typical politician modeling in front of the public’s eye. Leslie Bibb as the journalist Christine Everheart is a recognizable face from the first “Iron Man” and she keeps her short but significant appearance in this sequel. Samuel Jackson as Nick Fury also has a short screen time; and yet, how he handles his role quite peaks the interest for his character. Favreau again appears more than just the director as he plays the part as the funny Happy Hogan for the second time around. Stan Lee makes another fun cameo in the movie.
This movie is another treat for those who pay respect to the credits. After the long scroll filled with endless names and production credits of people who really worked hard to make this cinematic project how it is, people staying get a glimpse of what’s in store for the next “Iron Man” sequel.
Clearly and wittily exuding a screwball vibe filled with action and techno treats, “Iron Man 2” lives up to the idea of slam-bang entertainment. Indeed, this franchise isn’t rusty yet. It is undoubtedly a solid blockbuster sequel with a few faults that people don’t mind overlooking.
Technophilia Film Trailer
Countries: Philippines, Korea, Iraq
Shooting Format: 16mm
Aspect Ratio: 16:9
Screening Formats: HD (1920×1080) and SD (720×480) NTSC, HDCAM SR, Beta SP, Digi Beta, DVD, Mini DV
Running Time: 6 minutes, 44 seconds
Location: Seoul, Korea
Synopsis: Inside a hangout place, the boyfriend gets boxed up by his techie lifestyle altering his relationship with his already fed-up girlfriend. And things become more and more techie-like as they move on.
Acknowledgments: Colorwheel Media Studios – through the help of the Korean Film Council (KOFIC), Korean Academy of Film Arts (KAFA), and Korea University (KU) Read More
The Top 5 Worst 3D Movies List
There are actually many movies (both animation and live action offers) that are made into 3D flicks for the heck. And not all stories or film style or cinematic treatment are best suited for the 3D medium. Read More
A Slick and Solid Family Slapstick By Rianne Hill Soriano
Catch colorful candies and marshmallows from the sky. Play around ice cream snowballs. Hop around nacho cheese fountains. Slide onto a giant gumball hill. Go gaga with a palace of Jell-O. Get endless supply of jellybeans. Then there comes the massive pancakes, tornados of pasta, pools of nacho cheese, hailstorm of jellybeans, ice cream blizzard, pizza flurries, and deadly gummy bears… Suddenly, it’s raining steak and gumballs! It’s “Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs.”
The story is engagingly ridiculous. And it’s fun. And it works.
This eye-popping and mouth-watering film cooks up a veritable buffet of the bland and the bizarre, the sweet and the sour, and all other tastes generously offered on screen. It serves up a riot of glee, color, and absurdity. And it actually looks fresh and witty beyond the expectation for it.
With a solid gag ratio and a pretty good animation, “Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs” serves as a commentary on the potential perils of genetically engineered food and the downside of “overabundance.” It makes a social point about how people now have too much of what they need. It’s a culture of excess where wastefulness seems next to coolness.
This impressive film from Sony Pictures is a downright odd family flick with exuberant animation, quirky humor, and plucky characters. It’s a slick and solid slapstick made with technical sophistication and engaging storytelling. This animated venture from writer-directors Phil Lord and Chris Miller have utilized the popular children’s book by Judi and Ron Barrett into a nice movie feature.
The filmmakers know how to play with their food. And at the same time, they capitalize well on the universal compulsion for stomach-filling delight. As a computer-animated 3D extravaganza, it provides entertaining food fights and pleasurable food trips. It amusingly expands the book for the big screen. It provides whimsical detail through: increasingly surreal weather activities, in a way that climate change in the real world suggests a call for action; and a hunger for more when everything is too much already, in a way that capitalism and consumerism in the real world becomes an alarming concern for every nation.
From the gloriously surreal buffet of predatory giant chickens to the psychopathic gummy bears fighting to death, things are quite weird but really wonderful. Mutated food isn’t that far from the reality of junk food and some unwholesome fast food stuff. And all these are actually best seen in 3D splendor. Technically, this 3D food adventure makes terrific use of the format. Things really look stunning, but that doesn’t mean that its conventional 2D counterpart is of no good value. In fact, the film is a good DVD collectible. It’s just that, dining on 3D is another cool treat. It looks natural for the format and it enhances the story. And it’s good to know that the excellent animation is a veritable feast for the eyes and doesn’t overwhelm the storytelling.
As a computer-animated flick, it is bright, cheery, and at times flat-out hilarious as it provides winsome sight gags involving giant food, references to disaster film clichés (including “Independence Day” and “Twilight Zone”), and endearing characters that vividly come to life. The running gags are pretty neat clichés. It’s mostly slapstick yes, but it’s a pretty charming kind of slapstick that works well for its intended commercial value.
The sophisticated presentation doesn’t look pretentious, and it doesn’t sweat the message. As a family-friendly movie, it provides a frenetically tasty offer. It’s insanely funny and at times wonderfully weird. Things work well with the gastronomically hilarious pace and tone of the comedy. It’s visually inventive and can be swallowed very easily while serving some serious food for thought on the side.
Unlike most children movies being insipid and lowbrow, this film doesn’t insult its audiences. It’s light on its feet and it’s quick-witted. It is silly and surprisingly enjoyable – not to mention, a little trippy. It bursts with random sight gags that boast intricate design and goofy humor. It has some grown-up gags to keep the adults amused as well. The characters are likeable amidst the fact that in terms of character development, they don’t render something of the caliber of Pixar’s “Up.” Yet, this movie really assures the audience with such a tasty adventure.
As a hyperbolic exposé of human greed, abusive behavior, and environmental destruction, this food revolting spin of the 30-page children’s book into a 90-minute bountiful big screen buffet is something that the general viewer won’t regret sinking his/her teeth into. Its delicious and imaginative concept takes flight with a real tasty family delight. And while it rains big food, it also rains big laughs and sheer fun.
A Thinking Man’s Timely Sci-Fi By Rianne Hill Soriano
“District 9 “ is a hybrid of a film, and it looks like a successful “sort of anti-Hollywood” venture for that. A brilliant social commentary.
This sharp-edged, down and dirty science fiction film incorporates a great deal of big budget elements in a part fake documentary, part body horror, and part robot flick. And as a comparably “smaller” offer, it’s still utterly reminiscent of the failed alien and mechanical warrior franchises of “Terminator,” “Aliens vs. Predator,” “Transformers,” and “G. I. Joe” – with good effects in par with them, but with creative quality being much better in so many ways. This is not to say that the original “Alien,” “Predator,” and a few of the first “Terminator” series are not good, but their latest sequels are definitely poor releases especially if compared to the many aspects of “District 9.” The good thing about this film is that it’s both intelligent and entertaining. For the audience, no need to dumb out to be able to get that combination of funny, violently gross, and wildly enthralling speculative fiction flick with genuine emotional resonance.
The film is unlike any of those mostly seen in the sci-fi canon. Actually, those who are not too favorable with psychological and physical gore would probably feel a little uneasy, at the least, covering their eyes at some moments. Some may find it kind of stressful to watch certain scenes. But sitting through it has its price – a fresh and thought-provoking, if not groundbreaking story, making a good point about racial prejudice and posing a number of serious questions about the state of humanity. It’s a superb realization of a poignant satire, irony, humor, violence, and drama that is not afraid to examine the essence of what it actually means – and what it might cost – to be human.
“District 9” is an edgy, provocative commentary on the human condition. It has a heart and soul to its piece while keeping up with its own technical challenges. As a science-fiction actioner that entertains mercilessly, it opens up a certain compassion and humanity to its audience. It is a swift and subtle movie that trusts its viewers to do some of the work – and it’s quite effective at that. It serves as a pop allegory for the racial tension of apartheid, issues on mass immigration, and man’s inhumanity to man – and the non-human.
Director Neill Blomkamp has packaged this imaginative sci-fi tale and gritty actioner with a boldly exciting piece of pop entertainment. People have seen much alien invasion flicks before, but nothing anything quite like “District 9” in terms of its carefully merged compelling dramatic story, biting satire, low-key CG inventiveness, tightness of editing, and carefully rendered set details. The special effects don’t overwhelm the harrowing story, which makes it quite emotional at that. The gross and drama, together with the big guns, chases, and explosions, are appropriate to the storyline. Thus, paving the way to a fresh franchise potential for the producers and filmmakers.
A modestly budgeted project with an actual idea in its head, the film marries breathless action, political satire, poignant drama which can generally hold the viewer’s attention from start to finish. Produced by the people behind LOTR including Peter Jackson and company, it delivers its universal message about ethnic tolerance through the story of a doomed extraterrestrial race forced to live in slum-like conditions on Earth, mainly in a South African ghetto, and suddenly finds a kindred spirit in a government agent exposed to their biotechnology.
This film proves that sci-fi flicks don’t have to be automatically star-studded or mega-budgeted to be visually intense, remarkably executed, and thoroughly entertaining. Its unknown cast works pretty well. Lead character Sharlto Copley as Wikus Van De Merwe puts the right dose of pathos for the film through grit, charm, naiveté, and humor.
People have seen many aliens come to earth movies. Many have seen the finest use of computer-generated imagery on the big screen; but it’s rare to see an intriguing, sci-fi fable that is consistently gripping. “District 9” makes itself an original classic in its own right.
Time Warping Love and Destiny
By Rianne Hill Soriano
“The Time Traveler’s Wife,” an across-the-years love story transcending space and time, takes a couple into the grandeur and sadness of life and the mystery of time in a combination of drama, romance, and science-fiction. Is it really worth your time or travel?
The very first thing to do is suspend the disbelief. It’s a sci-fi date flick where the nature of its illogical plot is essential to its very own provisions about the exploration of relationships in such a genre fiction offer. It can either be a picturesque, emotional journey working out as an elegy to love, fate, loss, and free will. Or it can be a trying hard romantic melodrama that will disappear from the viewer’s mind before too long. It’s actually dependent on mood, taste, and preference.
This film adaptation from an Audrey Niffenegger best-selling novel obeys no dramatic rules or narrative logic. It has some psychological dissonances that can only make things work if the illogical nature of the plot heaving away at space/time conundrums finds its wavelength through the right audience – those who can find a charming, if mildly depressing fantasy, and consider it a full experience that tugs at the heartstrings beyond the preposterousness of its story. It seems to peg around the combining elements of sweepingly romantic time travel movies like “Somewhere in Time” and the supernatural swoon of “Ghost.” Add up its old-fashioned treatment with a fairytale-ish glow, this thought-provoking melodramatic fantasy about what it takes for two people to overcome all the obstacles in their path together mainly works around the heavy emotional tones to create a deeper texture on its life, love, and destiny questions.
Time travel is an interesting and intriguing plot device. The characters’ unusual circumstances enable quite a bit of humor and mystery while surrendering to a far-fetched concept to reward the audience with a lush, high-gloss weepie by its end. The film stars Eric Bana as the Chicago librarian Henry DeTamble, a man suffering from gene anomaly that causes him to involuntarily time travel. And yet, the defective gene doesn’t prevent him from meeting his wife played by Rachel McAdams as Clare Abshire – with the two living the supposedly ideal marriage of genuine lovers. The complications his time travels create for his marriage is what emerges as a story of living such a life of stolen instances and valued moments.
“The Time Traveler’s Wife” tries to play itself out as a serious and heart-rending love story filling the emotional suitcase with pseudo-poetic significance. The film moves fast, as though to distract the audience from the convoluted storyline’s shortcomings and the nearly total absence of logic in its plot, and such make the viewer ask about the actual story making sense or not. The loose ends are even left untied that making the film really work is more than just the audience embracing the magic of its concept and its escapist date fare value; it should mainly deliver as an engaging cinematic offer with first-rate treatment and spellbinding storytelling than just merely prioritizing its commercial value above everything else.
The strength of the film is the emotional bearing that makes it more moving by its latter half. It could have benefited well if director Robert Schwentke gets to further explore the romantic elements and level up the story development to more imaginative heights. The picturesque look and fairytale sound makes it a pretty interesting escapist fare on the surface. And for viewers aching for a romantic drama that leaves them emotionally, honorably exhausted, this escapist offer can hold themselves towards the flick’s enveloping emotional grasp until its tear-jerking conclusion. Moreover, the soundtrack also adds a great deal to the film. Furthermore, it’s interesting to note that it’s already quite rare to see such an intimate love story with old fashioned treatment outside the demands for cinematic themes as comics, graphic novels, superheroes, spoofs, historical highlights, futuristic ideas, apocalyptic situations, sell-out gags, and “what if” issues, nowadays – which adds to its kind of charm for its preferred audience at this very moment.
This flick moves with a sort of a stately but confusing pace and era that its “bound by realism storyline flourished with fantastic elements” still depicts an unimpressive stature in its tone and actuality. And this reflects on the acting performances which become a combination of oblivious, touching, and confused. In its choice of decisions about what to keep and what to leave out from the book, it seems to cram too much into the runtime and it loses the elegance of the novel along the way – not to say that I have read the novel already, but it just shows in the way the storytelling flows in it’s kind of choppy plotpoints. And more than just the insights about love, destiny, and time, the audience finds it hard to directly relate to the film’s characters and situations amidst the suspension of disbelief. Many of the long spans of time passing between lines seem to have been inexpertly translated that they almost make sense but not quite. And with such little regard for establishing character or letting a moment play itself out, the movie gets weaker as it becomes even more convoluted and far-fetched by the last third of the story. Perhaps, the book fills in the blanks in emotional beats and plotting as the story strives for meaning in its affecting allegory about love that persists beyond the mundane timeline.
At first, I felt like Bana as the man with the time-traveling gene is a miscast. But after a while, I have then started to accept him for the role. He and McAdams grow to become easy enough on the eyes to distract from the script’s many plot holes and somehow compensate on the vague level of emotional investment to make the film still work on a certain light. Though not consistent all throughout, they still develop some charmingly emotional moments together in order to make a great looking couple with characters able to genuinely care about each other at times. There are also notably touching scenes including the one where Henry sees his mother at the subway. The climax scene of Henry’s life with his loving family going to the fireworks and hunting scenes are well-mounted. The sell-out treatment on the ending is a bummer. The romance is then deprived of an ending that feels earned.
While the film makes a decent enough date movie, this could have been a much better film. Nevertheless, it’s still a decent escapist romance for its particularly chosen market. It’s best not to overthink things to make it a more acceptable time filler. And maybe die-hard romantics won’t really mind… But those seeking a higher level of viewing experience would feel like they rather disappear and time travel somewhere else than sit through it.
Overall, “The Time Traveler’s Wife” is not something to rush out to see right away. Yet, it still something to consider watching during some free time when on the mood – and by then, it could be something worth renting.
The Future of Film through IMAX and Digital Cinemas
A Sneak Peek at James Cameron’s Avatar and Looking Into the Current Digital Cinemas in the Philippines
By Rianne Hill Soriano
James Cameron’s “Avatar”
Experiencing “Avatar” is seeing the future of film technology right before my very eyes.
The realms of CGI and 3D technology on this age of filmmaking are definitely starting to write their own history already. From the initial experimentations to the developing of the medium to the hype of the format, both the filming process and the theatrical playing field prove that the evolution of cinema technology is really revolutionizing our film experiences in various levels.
Gone were the days when imagination becomes a limited audio-visual fare to filmmakers. Creative exploration is now equated by technological innovation. Leveling up to a new chapter of filmmaking history has truly started… and it continues to polish itself in every new cinematic venture exploring its prowess. From educational documentaries to children’s animated entertainment to narrative film offers, CGI and 3D technology create a larger scale of sensory high at this fast-paced and competitive era of infinite information and entertainment available to more and more people.
The rare sensation delivered by the 3D look for both animation and live action projects takes on the viewers to extraordinary cinematic journeys that have already yielded results of astonishing variety. We had the likes of “Deep Sea 3D” establishing a captivatingly fresh and interesting look to documentary productions. We had Polar Express pioneering the 3D family movie funhouse. We had “Beowulf” achieving that larger-than-life treatment and absolutely high-tech makeover to a literary classic. We had “U2 3D” breaking new ground for a new form of concert experience. And we had a number of live action offers as “Harry Potter” experimenting on the crisp and sparkling 3D look in selected parts of the films. And now, we have “Avatar” with its ambitious visual texture combined with humanly emotional depth creating a 3D spectacle amazingly exploring both live action shots and computer-generated images.
“Avatar” is truly creating the hype. This James Cameron first directorial debut since “Titanic” provides such a sense of wonder with its jaw-dropping images. Being part of the select audience to get a first look on the filmmaker’s hand-picked scenes of the film in 3D at IMAX Theater SM North Edsa last Aug 24, 2009, I should say, it is definitely something to look forward to starting on Dec. 18, 2009, the schedule for its regular showing. This motion picture epic pioneers two unrelated technologies – e-motion capture which uses images from tiny cameras rigged to actors heads to replicate their expressions and digital 3D. From the said exclusive peek at the ultimate 3D technology that is yet to revolutionize our movie experience, this motion picture epic has definitely provided me much anticipation for what the future of cinema has begun to realize.
“Avatar” was conceived by Cameron 14 years ago, when the means to realize his vision did not exist yet. Now, after four years of actual production work, the film delivers a fully immersive cinematic experience of a new kind – with the revolutionary technology invented to make the film disappear into the emotion of the characters and sweep the story with unprecedented craftsmanship.
The movie takes the audience towards the spectacular new future where pulse-pounding action sets forth from a mythical planet named Pandora. Embroiled in the new world is a reluctant hero (Sam Worthington) that embarks on a journey of redemption and discovery as he leads a heroic battle to save a civilization. It shall be distributed worldwide in the following formats: IMAX® 2D, digital 3D, digital 2D and 35mm to be available in local theaters nationwide this December through 20th Century Fox as distributed by Warner Brothers Philippines.
It is too early to give the best distinction for this ambitious film venture as I have only seen bits and pieces of some scenes. And it will just be fair to give my true thumbs up or thumbs down once I get to watch the whole film and find out for myself if more than just the film’s mind-dropping technical prowess and fascinating audio-visual spectacle, the storytelling delivers an ultimate triumph for this project. But so far, with what I have witnessed firsthand at the IMAX Theater, this film is not just a mere technical exercise of the new technology. During the sneak preview, I have watched the 20-minute excerpt of the film three times. I’m calling the first opportunity to see the footages as level 1 watching – where I merely enjoy and immerse myself in seeing the film for the first time. Level 2 is where my filmmaker side provides a more conscious study on the kind of film language utilized in the selected scenes I have watched. I become more keen in the kind of shots chosen, the movements of the camera, the production design, the utilization of the various elements present on the screen, among other things. Level 3 provides me an opportunity to evaluate the more technical aspect of the making of the film – considering the fact that it’s a newly explored advancement on this kind of film technology.
As a director myself who is also venturing into some animation projects at the moment, I have been in total awe with what I have seen. Watching it for the third time allows me to examine how superior the filmmaking process is for the film – I have been trying to see if there are technical and aesthetic compromises, if there is something not rendered well, if there are compositing issues, if the movements of the background does not match well with the movements of the actors and actresses and if the backgrounds separate too much from the main subject/s, if the shadows are missing or not on the right parts, if the motion captured expressions of the live performances have something questionable for the needed genuine expressions, among other things. Kudos to Cameron and his team. The fast cuts and action shots don’t look like they are cheating the audience’s eyes. Of course, it could be a more in-depth evaluation if I can do like a frame-by-frame examination of it (which is something that I really am interested to do because after trying to really see if there’s something not seamless on the shots and even the sound, the only thing I am considering to check again so far is if the dinosaur scene with the main character really perfectly matches the supposed movements of the vines that the huge, monstrous animal is stepping in, plus other little things that make me curious on the process that they further went through, regardless of missing something small along the way or things were just made to be at their most effective really), but basing it from what I saw three times, the technical and emotional parts of the film definitely look so promising. The idea of losing some needed emotional punch for the sake of technological show-offs is not an issue with the scenes I have seen. And the sound quality is no less than impeccable.
Digital Cinemas in the Local Playing Field
For the Philippines, it is but a dream to explore filmmaking on this foray of big budget, ambitious 3D projects, but it is a positive thing that we are part of the audience already benefiting on the improvement of the playing field of cinema’s freshest technological breakthroughs. We have around a dozen of digital cinemas and two IMAX theaters in the country this year compared to less than five last year. We have IMAX at SM Mall of Asia and SM City North Edsa (we used to have only one at Mall of Asia for the past few good years). We have digital cinemas at Gateway Cineplex 10, SM City North EDSA, Trinoma, Greenbelt 3, SM Megamall, Robinsons Galleria, and SM Mall of Asia (we used to have only one at SM City and two at Gateway Cineplex 10 for the past few good years) – and I have heard from a reliable source that a mall in Cebu is already on the works for their own digital cinema as well.
This is a great news for the country. It reflects how Filipinos can now go a notch higher not just in watching Hollywood blockbusters but also showcasing our own films with top quality 2K resolution –which is actually within the reach of our own productions. In fact, the Filipino independent filmmaking community has been on the forefront of this. Interestingly, more independent Filipino films are pushing the boundaries of HD projection than local commercial film projects. This provides a significant sign that limited budget independent film ventures have great opportunities to level up the technical quality of their films already. And another good news is that there are commercial theaters catering to HD and 2K film projections helping out even the local independent film projects. And I’m a living testimony to this as even my short films were given the chance to be premiered in HD format courtesy of Outpost Digital Frontier who is currently at the forefront of DCP (Digital Cinema Package) release of our local films, and courtesy of Gateway Cineplex 10 and Araneta Group who have gladly provided their Dolby Super Digital Cinema (Cinema 5) for the films’ theatrical projection a few months ago. And we are yet to see Cannes Palm d’Or Winner Raymond Red’s film “Himpapawid” (Skies) which is also working on its DCP – which explores great possibilities to being catered by the growing number of digital cinemas in the country.
In a realistic sense, the utilizing of digital cinemas is very much favorable to the Philippine film industry – both commercial and art-house films. Why and how? Shooting in HD, which cuts the production cost with such a significant amount as compared to shooting on film, can go two preferable routes for cinema projection: 1) blowing up to the standard 35mm prints for nationwide release of bigger film projects; and/or 2) projecting in HD which is file-based and needs no film prints anymore which can further cut the production cost especially to those films only catering to a specific audience like film buffs and people who are into watching art films. It may be a smaller market, but it doesn’t mean that it can’t make its own decent way into the box office especially if it is shown in digital cinemas where the saturation of its audience can be found in proximity with it. And in its case right now, tapping areas like Quezon City, Ortigas, Makati, and Manila (where the recent digital cinemas in the country are situated) are truly formidable grounds to the audience of art and independent films. And in the future, it will also be wise to start investing on digital cinemas in other key cities around the country as Cebu, Bacolod, Davao, Baguio, Ilocos, Laguna, etc. to further cater to the decent market of such films all around the country. And it is really “high time” that more Filipino producers, whether for commercial or art-house projects, be more inspired by all these.
The high resolution and mostly file-based filming in HD cameras make it easier for the footages to be utilized for post-production work. The file-based showing of films becomes a real advantage to film theaters as there are no more scratches and noises due to wear and tear of a 35mm print and there are no more possibilities for human error in rewinding and queuing up prints. All these, in the long-term, entails lower cost than using film-based projections; thus, making it more feasible for the Philippines to catch up with the technology in the global perspective. And as more and more digital cinemas come into the picture, the opportunities are getting bigger and bigger for Filipino filmmakers, producers, distributors, theater owners, and cinema-goers.
We may not be on the level of using the technology that “Avatar” has already maximized for itself, and it may take some decades before we reach that status; but if filmmakers, producers, distributors, theater owners, media people, and the film audience all work together, reaching out to the future of cinema with a global mindset on the technological breakthroughs of the likes of IMAX and digital theaters will be ultimately beneficial for us… And realistically speaking, it’s not too far away for us… We can both dream and achieve more and more in our own developing country with a slowly, but surely thriving film industry – now producing a great number of films garnering awards and receiving critical acclaim all over the world…
Indeed, we are all part of this new, astounding cinematic revolution with the most brilliant efforts for “filmmaking” and “film watching” within our midst – whether in such top Hollywood film projects or in our own steps forward in very our local films. Together, let’s develop our film industry further and appreciate the technology we are also starting to see, learn, and experience through Hollywood films that are already investing on cinema’s greater options for the future.
“Angels and Demons” is a less contemplative and more motion-driven version of Dan Brown’s novel. It’s a challenge to keep up with such a story to be mounted from a book into a moving picture. With the kind of plotting and the pretty good utilization of the medium for the novel, translating it into a two-hour audio-visual fare is really a tough path to take…
The film mounts the visuals the way I imagined them while reading the book. That part is impressive. The suspense part that hooked me to the book gets lost in the film adaptation though. For a movie based entirely around a beat-the-clock goal, the momentum is significantly lost and the its far-fetched plot surfaces even more – without enough packed intensity and make-believe that the novel actually offered to its readers.
I read the book about three years ago, and I can honestly say that it is one of the few books that I couldn’t put down while reading. In fact, I finished reading it in two days with only a few breaks in between. That’s how effective the plotting and suspense-filled moments are.
‘Angels and Demons’ is quite faithful to the book. Though I know that the story is quite hard to completely translate into a film with everything in the book is in tact and with a full, solid grasp, if the suspense and emotional engagement were built up much more, I would probably love the film similar to how I love the book. Having read the book, the film becomes quite a let down in terms of general execution. But what gets me interested is the film’s impressive technical points. As a filmmaker myself I was amazed on how slick and seamless the combined footages shot in film and in HD. Overall, the technical aspect is pretty solid.
The film’s strong points as a commercial cinematic offer is that it combines religious, scientific, political, art, historical, and academic issues in one package; thus, making it an entertaining blend capturing many kinds of moviegoers. The grounding in the debate about science versus religion is laid down pretty fine.
There are admittedly handsome production values in the film. The re-creation of St. Peter’s and the Sistine Chapel is a production achievement that will sure keep the viewers’ attention to what’s on the screen. Director Ron Howard puts a wonderful piece of seamlessly mixed real locations and beautifully detailed sets. However, he doesn’t go much beyond Langdon running and talking and thinking and running. The characterizations don’t progress as much as the plotting. And the screenplay from David Koepp and Akiva Goldsman becomes a too talky affair where most things are explained through dialogues instead of letting the other aspects of the film such as characterization, acting, and visuals to do the work.
Like the “Da Vinci Code,” “Angels and Demons” is filled with such far-fetched story lines that can either get the audience instantly drawn into it or they completely dismiss it as another convoluted adaptation. But overall, as a long ordeal about scientific and religious conspiracies and double crosses, it is still an improved material from the “Da Vinci Code.”
Tom Hanks plays a considerably better Professor Langdon here than in “Da Vinci.” However, he needs to run fast here and there almost every time here that he is left stranded and unable to utilize well his acting skills to turn the one-dimensional Langdon into a better character. Ayelet Zurer makes a convincing enough Vittoria Vetra and this shows that it doesn’t have to be always a more familiar or famous actress/actor to have a character working (the originally cast Vetra was Naomi Watts). Ewan McGregor makes a decent Camerlengo Patrick McKenna. Nikolaj Lie Kaas as the assassin and Pierfrancesco Favino as Inspector Olivetti work pretty well for their roles.
Overall, “Angels and Demons” can pass time reasonably well as an in-flight entertainment or as a DVD offer to guests visiting the home.
Shooting Format: 16mm
Screening Format: HD
Running Time: 7 minutes
Acknowledgments: Colorwheel Media Studios, Korean Film Council (KOFIC), Korean Academy of Film Arts (KAFA), and Korea University (KU), Asian Film Professionals Training Program
Main Cast Lee Jong-jin and Lee Saekyung
Director/Writer: Rianne Hill Soriano
Director of Photography: Mohammed Jano
Production Designer: Rianne Hill Soriano
Art Director: Stephen Kochenash
Editors: Rianne Hill Soriano and Mohammed Jano
Musical Score and Sound Design: Philip Arvin Jarilla
Director J.J. Abrams and his crew build the ‘Star Trek’ franchise into a truly glorious enterprise. Interestingly, amidst the many clichés and formulaic characterization, it actually turns out fresh, funny, and emotionally engaging. The reinvention has a good mix – and it works!
Reinventing a classic sci-fi series is prone to becoming victimized by the blackhole of franchise re-openings, but what this new ‘Star Trek’ presents is a flaring shine of a supernova from start to end. The plot may be preposterous, but the way the film is constructed provides a genuinely rollicking adventure – a fine escapist entertainment that has just validated the tagline, ‘Live long and prosper.’
‘Star Trek’ maintains a nostalgia play that manages to have reverence for its source material; and at the same time, it carefully adapts to the needs of a 21st Century version of the franchise. It is invigorated without destroying the original. It’s like warping to the contemporary while still respecting the past. And for the brave new universe Abrams and his crew explore, the film passes its obstacles with dazzling, time-warping colors by being a clever, campy, and endearing form of warp-speed/sci-fi entertainment.
This new adaptation has some significant flaws and missteps, but on its own merits, its creative precision in telling the story still makes itself a skillfully constructed studio picture. It’s not the type that engages the viewers as intellectually or emotionally as the best prior movies and TV episodes of the franchise, but Abrams breathes enough energy to this offer to make it hugely satisfying in its own right. Youthful, fast-paced, jaunty, and savvy, the swift storytelling keeps up with the needed momentum and celebrates the sheer joy of having the characters back in the big screen. And his approach for this latest revamping validates a playful and unpredictable mix of special effects, an involving story, a good script, and fine ensemble acting. And for the rightful fun it needs, he truly goes full speed ahead.
Fueled by adventurous spirits, scriptwriters Roberto Orci and Alex Kurtzman maintain a kind of ‘final frontier nostalgia’ for Trekkies and newcomers alike. The pacing races well with Abrams at helm. He moves the plot at breathtaking speed; yet, he is still able to provide time to feature heroic acts from all the original show’s key players and make the characterizations blend well for the story. It boldly opens a new chapter in the series while giving it a fresh shot of life during the process – and the whole thing feels fully realized. Moreover, it effectively conceives Kirk and Spock as two rebels looking for a cause. And with the occasional philosophical underminings to discuss love, friendship, duty, family, and pride, this ‘Star Trek’ essentially turns out to be a fiery dynamo.
‘Star Trek’ could please a wide cross-section of viewers – smart enough to be accessible to everyone, while retaining enough respect for the franchise’s legacy. It’s a pretty good example of pop culture demands crafted by good hands – proving that commercial cinema can still deliver a sledgehammer punch. And perhaps, this can be a new populist benchmark on how to rebrand and relaunch a classic, or any franchise for that matter.
From the first stunning visuals of a pre-Enterprise time to the final iconic sweeping space shots, the film easily grabs the audience by mixing warp speed action and tongue in cheek humor. It’s a witty, light-on-its-feet prequel with an unbridled enthusiasm that is interestingly engaging for fans and newcomers alike.
Another strength for this new ‘Trek’ is its cast. The performances are superb – all bristling with energy and excitement from start to end. Chris Pine as James Kirk and Zachary Quinto as Spock make the journey worth taking; while the appearances of Leonard Nimoy as Spock Prime and Eric Bana as Nero take the tale even further. The rest of the supporting cast are equally strong: Karl Urban as Dr. Leonard ‘Bones’ McCoy, Zoe Saldana as Nyota Uhura, Bruce Greenwood as Capt. Christopher Pike, John Cho as Hikaru Sulu, Ben Cross as Sarek, Winona Ryder as Amanda Grayson, Simon Pegg as Scotty, Anton Yelchin as Pavel Chekov, Chris Hemsworth as George Kirk, Jennifer Morrison as Winona Kirk, and also Jimmy Bennett as the young James Kirk.
With a snappy direction, strong cast, great effects, strong story, big action, comic touches that work, and respect for the material, Abrams’ ‘Star Trek’ is a truly a bold, entertaining reboot. It is brilliantly watchable even if not perfect – a ‘Trek’ that beams bright enough as a supernova.