The Magic of George Melies: Roundtable Podcast 2:46.2

man with the rubber head
George Melies blows up his own head in THE MAN WITH THE RUBBER HEAD

Following up on the previous CFQ Spotlight Podcast devoted to Martin Scorcese’s HUGO, the Cinefantastique crew of Dan Persons, Lawrence French, and Steve Biodrowski – joined by special guest Andrea Lipinski – blast off into the fabulous fantasy world of George Melies. The special effects pioneer and cinema magician of the early silent era was the first to realize the potential of movies imbued with a Sense of Wonder, using the camera not to capture reality but to create dreams writ large on the silver screen.
Also on the table for discussion during this Round Table: upcoming 3-D theatrical films and recent home video releases.

Check out the links below to see some of the Melies movies discussed in the podcast.

Rio, 007, The Crow: CFQ Round Table Podcast 2:15.1


In this week’s installment of the Cinefantastique Round Table Podcast, Dan Persons, Lawrence French, and Steve Biodrowski analyze the hot topics in the world of horror, fantasy, and science fiction films: Sony Pictures will finance and distribute the new James Bond Film; Barry Cooper may star in THE CROW; Peter Jackson films THE HOBBIT in 3-D and at 48 frames per second; RIO celebrates a box office victory of SCREAM 4; and Lionsgate picks up director Barry Levinson’s docu-style eco-horror film THE BAY (aka ISOPOD). Also, Lawrence French offers a capsule review of RIO and finds it a surprisingly refreshing step up from the ICE AGE sequels.


Mars Needs Moms: March 11

Walt Disney Pictures opens this computer-animated 3D science fiction comedy nationwide. We seriously doubt the film will have much in common with its almost namesake, MARS NEEDS WOMEN, but we also wonder whether the big-budget goofiness will be half as entertaining as the inepititude of 1960s low-budget campfest. Simon Wells directed from a screenplay co-written with Wendy Wells, based on the book by Berkeley Breathed. Seth Green, Joan Cusack, Breckin Meyer, Elisabeth Namois, Dan Fogler, and Billy Dee Williams provided the voices.

The Chronicles of Narnia: The Voyage of the Dawn Treader – Cinefantastique Podcast 1:43


For the second week in a row, Steve Biodrowski, Lawrence French, and Dan Persons immerse themselves in a magical, 3D kingdom for this episode of The Cinefantastique Review. This time, though, instead of Disney whimsy, it’s C.S. Lewis faith-tinged adventure, as they join siblings Lucy and Edmund Pevensie (Susan and Peter appear to be away on assignment) and thorn-in-the-side cousin Eustace, plus King Caspian (king!)  for the newest chapter of THE CHRONICLES OF NARNIA: THE VOYAGE OF THE DAWN TREADER. Can the forces of darkness be vanquished by only a pair of Narnia royalty, where four were needed before? Does the film profit or lose by running a half-hour less than its predecessors? And is it any coincidence that Edmund’s greatest fear is a monster whose features resemble a certain female orifice that many teen boys find intimidating? These and many other questions will be discussed in this week’s episode. Plus, the usual round-up of news, events, and home video releases.

We're Getting the Band Back Together: Aslan (voice of Liam Neeson), Lucy (Georgie Henley), Edmund (Skandar Keynes), and King Caspian (Ben Barnes) reteam one more time for THE CHRONICLES OF NARNIA: THE VOYAGE OF THE DAWN TREADER.
We're Getting the Band Back Together: Aslan (voice of Liam Neeson), Lucy (Georgie Henley), Edmund (Skandar Keynes), and King Caspian (Ben Barnes) reteam one more time for THE CHRONICLES OF NARNIA: THE VOYAGE OF THE DAWN TREADER.


'Spider-Man' Reboot Shoots RED Epic

RED_epic-2In a post at, John Schwartzman (ARMAGEDON ), Director of Photography on Columbia Pictures still-untitled Spider-Man film, revealed the film began shooting on Monday, December 6th, using RED Epics; new digital cameras configured to capture the images in High Definition 3-D.

Today was Epic, Monday December 6 marks the first day the Red Epic camera was used to shoot a major studio motion picture. I can say for certainty the camera does exist, and boy is it ready for primetime, as a matter of fact it’s a true game changer. We shot in 3D with 4 Epics mounted on 2 3ality TS-5 rigs today, we did 22 set ups, including running high speed and the images look stunning! …For the first time in digital cinematography, small size doesn’t come with a resolution penalty, as a matter of fact there isn’t a higher resolution camera available other than IMAX, and this one weighs 5lbs with an ultra prime on it, suddenly 3D isn’t a 100 lb beast! We had the cameras on dollies and a libra head today and we flew the 3D rig like it was an Arri 435. You guys told me you could do it in September and here we are today, Congratulations.
I am lighting by eye except that I’ve had to re-train myself to work at lower light levels because the camera is so sensitive. The images we made today were stunning, rich beautiful color and the resolution of a vistavision camera all in a package the size of a Hasselblad 501.
…. I can tell you without these cameras it would be impossible to move a 3D rig in the ways that THIS story demands, if Jim (ED. Note: Jim Jannard, head of RED Cameras) and the crew hadn’t made these cameras available to us I don’t think we could have shot this movie the way our director envisioned it in 3D. Guys, you’ve trusted me to take these out on their maiden voyage and I can tell you that after today I won’t let you down.”

Looks as though Marc Webb’s Spider-Man production will be the first feature to use the cameras, which only debuted in April of this year, and faced some technical and manufacturing hurdles.
Peter Jackson, an early proponent of RED’s other HD cameras, has ordered 30 RED Epics to shoot a real epic; his 3-D, two-part adaptation of J.R.R. Tolkein’s THE HOBBIT.
Via SuperheroHype

Tangled: Cinefantastique Podcast 1:42

TANGLED (2010)

For their 50th animated feature film, Walt Disney Pictures presents TANGLED – a CGI modernization of the Brothers Grimm fairy tale “Rapunzel.” Is this the new millennium equivalent of Disney classics like BEAUTY AND THE BEAST, or is it a failed and schizophrenic attempt to meld the new and the old into one uneasy mix? Find out as Dan Persons, Lawrence French, and Steve Biodrowski this 3-D wonderland, asking such pertinent questions as: “Are two cute animal characters one too many?” and “Is this the world’s first homicidal chameleon?” Also this week, we bid farewell to director Irvin Kershner (THE EMPIRE STRIKES BACK) and actor Leslie Nielsen (FORBIDDEN PLANET). Plus, the usual round-up of news, events, and home video releases.


Megamind Review

Megamind (2010)

Originality of vision is not always necessary to make a film, and the lack of it does not necessarily make a film bad. Even in 3-D, a movie can sometimes find it’s place in the middle ground between typical trash and art. Case in point: the newest Dreamworks Animation release, MEGAMIND, a collage of recycled material, prime voice casting, and fun, antic wit that brings absolutely nothing “newest” to the table.

Discharged from his dying home planet Clark Kent-style, blue-skinned extraterrestrial Megamind (voice by Will Ferrell) lands in a prison cell in Metro City and learns pretty quickly that villainy is his forte. He spends most of his huge-headed life being defeated by Metro Man (Brad Pitt), the narcissistic but nonetheless vigilant and all-powerful guardian of Metro City. Both villain and hero pay special attention to capturing/rescuing newscaster Roxanne Ritchie (Tina Fey), whose beauty and sass only further paralyze her faithful cameraman Hal (Jonah Hill, most likely cast not for his fitting voice, but body type). In the film’s most inspired conceit, however, Metro Man is finally defeated and presumed destroyed by a sun-powered Death Ray, leaving Megamind without a rival and with no one left to play cops and robbers. He decides, being the genius he is, that making a new superhero is the best idea to cure him of his boredom. Giving away anymore is both unnecessary and unfair, as the plot runs on fumes from there, much to the chagrin of anyone over the age of 10.

One may notice that the voice cast of this film is almost too good to believe, but it’s true, and impressive. Ferrell, whose last voice-over role was Man with the Yellow Hat in 2006’s CURIOUS GEORGE, proves once again why he is Hollywood’s go-to funnyman. His slight British inflection makes simple expressions embarrassingly funny – “Minion, I’m feeling so mel-onk-o-lee”, he says at one point. Fey’s Ritchie is a rare character for any film, strong and single and just as willing to dish out lines like “Let’s go gangsta”. Besides these two and Pitt (again spoofing his Hollywood persona a la BURN AFTER READING), the voice cast includes Ben Stiller, David Cross (as Megamind’s BFF puffer-fish-in-a-gorilla-suit, Minion), and J.K. Simmons (an obscure but apt, choice for a prison warden). These are highly sought-after and talented people, and through sheer skill and experience they elevate Megamind to a higher realm of comedy than many kids and adults will come to expect from the trailers.

No studio in a long time has made a film on the same creative or intellectual level as a Pixar Animation Studios; knowing this, Dreamworks is campaigning heavily for a Best Picture nomination in February for HOW TO TRAIN YOUR DRAGON, and seems intent on adding quality films to their repertoire. In this sense, MEGAMIND represents. First, writers Alan J. Schoolchraft and Brent Simons borrow not only Superman allusions and jokes, but also essential plot details from such films as THE INCREDIBLES and DESPICABLE ME. Those films were each too good and too recent to forget, and the script would have benefited if equal attention were given to plot as the jokes (many of which had the 18+ audience members laughing while the kids waited for the loudest noise or brightest 3-dimensional explosion). Second, director Tom McGrath (stepping down a bit from MADAGASCAR, but not much) resorts to using that 3-D technology for pure exploitation, unlike great CGI films such as HOW TO TRAIN YOUR DRAGON and TOY STORY 3.

Megamind horizontal posterOh, and weird as it may be to say, Hans Zimmer’s score (with Lorne Balfe) is just intrusive. My expectations for Zimmer are perhaps too high, and the man is bound to win a million more trophies before year’s end (his INCEPTION score was tremendous), so this was a bit of a disappointment.

MEGAMIND (November 2010). Directed by: Tom McGrath. Written by: Alan J. Schoolcraft & Brent Simons. Music by: Hans Zimmer & Lorne Balfe. Voice Cast: Megamind – Will Ferrell; Roxanne Ritchie – Tina Fey; Metro Man – Brad Pitt; Minion – David Cross; Hal/Tighten – Jonah Hill; Warden – J.K. Simmons.


Megamind: Cinefantastique Podcast 1:39


MEGAMIND takes the usual superhero-supervillain rivalry and turning it upside down (or inside out). The result – voiced by Will Ferrell, Brad Pitt, and Tina Fey – is a box office hit, but does it have a brain on its shoulders or is it soft in the head? Find out on this week’s episode of the Cinefantastique Podcast, as Dan Persons, Lawrence French, and Steve Biodrowski take an in-depth look at the latest 3-D CGI film from DreamWorks Animation, makers of SHREK FOREVER AFTER and HOW TO TRAIN YOUR DRAGON. Plus, the usual assortment of news, upcoming events, and home video releases.


'Deathly Hallows' Won't Be 3-D

DeathlyHallowsPosterAccording to The Hollywood Reporter, Warner Brothers Pictures has abandoned its plans to release HARRY POTTER AND THE DEATHLY HALLOWS Part I in 3-D.
In a statement released today, October 8th, the Warners said that when the New Harry Potter film  is released to  theaters on November 19th, it will be in 2-D,  and at IMAX venunes.

“We will not have a completed 3-D version of the film within our release date window. Despite everyone’s best efforts, we were unable to convert the film in its entirety and meet the highest standards of quality. We do not want to disappoint fans who have long-anticipated the conclusion of this extraordinary journey.”

DEATHLY HALLOWS directer David Yates is quoted as saying:  “This decision, which we completely support, underscores the fact that Warner Bros. has always put quality first.”
Seeing as the studio’s CRASH OF THE TITANS post-production 3-D conversion was judged as of varying and questionable quality by many fans and critics, this is probably a wise move on Warner’s part.
My opinion: 3-D films should be shot in 3-D, at least until the conversion process is perfected — and even so, it will probably never equal true 3-D production in quality, assuing that technology also progresses.
I’ve always seen 3-D as a gimmick, and a personal cause of eye strain. Kind of fun, but you wind up paying for it, in more ways than one, considering the additional charges for 3-D admissions now commonplace.

'Star Wars' Saga to go 3-D

StarWars_HildebrantWe all knew it was coming. George Lucas has mentioned the idea a number of time over the years.
Now, is carrying the story that the STAR WARS films are being digitally converted to 3-D, begining with THE PHANTOM MENACE. 
John Knoll will supervise the project with Industrial Light & Magic.
Knoll said “Getting good results on a stereo conversion is a matter of taking the time and getting it right. It takes a critical and artistic eye along with an incredible attention to detail to be successful. It is not something that you can rush if you want to expect good results. For STAR WARS, we will take our time, applying everything we know both aesthetically and technically to bring audiences a fantastic new Star Wars experience.”
STAR WARS: Episode I – THE PHANTOM MENACE  is expected to be released theatrically in 2012.
As mentioned above, George Lucas has been interested in the conversion process for some time, and it would appear that he thinks the technology is mataure enough to suit his standards.
I’m actually glad they’re starting with the “prequel” trilogy, as that gives them plenty of time for trial and error before getting to the original trilogy.
An interview with John Knoll can be found HERE