Why studioADI Is Awesome

Bob Woodruff, Jr. and Alec Gillis of studioADI, the practical special effects house behind a lot of your favorite movies, including the Predator and Alien films, as well as the upcoming Kickstarter-funded practical horror film, Harbinger Down) are two men that clearly enjoy their work.

You can see the devotion and craftsmanship that their effects shop brings to every creature they make, even when their creations don’t appear in great movies, such as X-Men Origins: Wolverine and the effects they designed for fan-favorite anti-hero, Deadpool.

This disdain occasionally spills over to the creator of the effects.

In the above clip Gillis and Woodruff are explaining why Deadpool looked as he did.

And Gillis makes a great point, which is that special effects houses, aren’t necessarily in control over how a character looks, when all is said and done.

The thing is, I knew that already and while I also hated how Deadpool ended up, the effects-works itself (which is the only thing that studioADI is actually in control of), was spot-on.

‘After The Dark’ Review

 

After The Dark

After The Dark Is A Visually Beautiful Movie, Undermined By Needless Pretense.”

I actually saw John Huddles’  After The Dark four or five months ago before it turned up on Netflix, and it bothered me then, and it continues to do so (though it’s taken me awhile to understand why).

Though I think I finally figured it out:  After The Dark tries too hard to be seem significant and important, when it actually isn’t.

The movie revolves around a multi-ethnic Philosophy class in Jakarta, Indonesia and the logic tests led by their teacher.

When you’re exploring ideas of the mind, it’s particularly useful to not fill your class with, in most instances, remarkably attractive men and women.  To a fault all the students in this class are beautiful, which movies typically do when they have very little to actually say about anything.

And the ending…let’s go into it for a moment.  Things are played relatively straight, till that time, where the movie takes a detour into The Twilight Zone.  It’s not a bad thing, though it has the unfortunate effect of potentially undermining much of what came before, because you’re not quite sure of what’s real, and what isn’t.

Which isn’t to say that I don’t mind a good mind-fuck every now and then, though what I am not a fan of is uncertainty.

Another problem I found with the movie is its underlying premise.  As I mentioned earlier, the entire movies is composed of a series of thought experiments, done to elicit a particular response from the students.

Yet throughout the movie you have people interfering in the thought exercises of others, adding variables they shouldn’t be able to.

That being said, After The Dark isn’t a bad film, it’s beautifully shot and filled with lots of attractive people, but it’s really odd because despite have seen it (twice) I still have no idea what it’s doing or trying to say.

 

‘The Equalizer’ – Trailer Two

The Equalizer is going to be a monster, despite the R-rating.  Denzel Washington is as reliable as it gets, as far as consistently entertaining actors go.  I also like how the characters that he tends to play don’t overcompensate in terms of their physicality, by which I mean you can see from the trailer that Washington is a tad paunchy, yet he’ll still believably kick you ass.

That it’s being directed by Antoine Fuqua pretty much ensures that it’s an event.

Besides, I can only see Guardians of the Galaxy so many times…

This Movie Is “Antisocial,” Though Don’t Watch It Alone

The Social Redroom is a fictitious social networking site that’s similar to others that you may already be familiar to, like Facebook.  And like Facebook, The Social Redroom (which coincidentally(?) reminds me of ‘redrum;’ ‘murder’ spelled backwards) also does experiments on its users without their knowledege, all in an effort to find what it is that makes users ‘tick.’

But what happens your their efforts go seriously awry (which if you’ve seen the movie is probably the understatement of the decade)?

That’s the idea at the heart of Antisocial–it’s probably not a coincidence that the title is similar to David Fincher’s movie, The Social Network, though what’s a bit odd is that it in a way covers similar subject matter (without the physical violence, though there was plenty of the psychic variety).

It’s a conceit that works remarkably well because the ideas that animate the movie are familiar to anyone with even a passing understanding of how human nature, capitalism and the Internet work.

It’s also not a gratuitously gory movie, though I’d be lying if I said that there weren’t body fluids of the red variety shed.  And speaking of gore, most of it is deliciously practical, which isn’t to say that there isn’t CGI, though it’s not gratuitous.

What’s also surprising is how well-acted this movie is.  There’s none of that wink, wink, nudge, nudge stuff at one end of the spectrum, or histrionics at the other.

Just people caught up in circumstances way, way, way beyond their control.  It’s a trip.  I haven’t felt this positive about a horror film since The Den.

It’s that awesome.

Kudos all around for director Cody Calahan, who also co-wrote the movie with Chad Archibald, though I’d be amiss if I didn’t mention that the exemplary lighting by Jeff Maher and the music by Steph Copeland.

And what every you do, get off the damn computer.  Go outside and perhaps spend a little time with someone you love because The Social Redroom is coming, and it’s a killer.

Antisocial is currently on Netflix.

 

‘The Remaining’ Trailer

Hollywood can be so fascinating.  It seems that lately there’s a trend revolving around religious-based movies, from Noah to Exodus: Gods and Kings, God is in.  This isn’t something that’s been ignored by either comedies, This Is The EndRapture-Palooza (a really funny movie.  Well worth checking out), dramas, and horror films.

The most recent example of the latter is The Remaining, which sounds like Damon Lindelof’s The Leftovers, with the inclusion of more blatantly supernatural elements, such as angels and demons.

 

‘Someday This Pain Will Be Useful To You’ Review

Someday This Pain Will Be Useful To You

Significantly Less Innovative Than Boyhood, But In Its Way A Better Movie

I watched Roberto Faenza‘s Someday This Pain Will Be Useful To You a few days ago, and was reminded of another movie that revolved around a young person growing up, Richard Linklater‘s Boyhood.

Though the thing is, Someday This Pain Will Be Useful To You was a much more interesting film–and most importantly, more watchable–despite being not as innovative (considering that Boyhood took 12 years to make, few films are going to compare when it comes to that score).

My primary issue with Boyhood was that there was little in the way of drama about the central character, though perhaps I should rephrase that:  All the drama was literally around him.  His mother had things happening to her, his father (and her ex-husband) as well.

Mason (Ellar Coltrane), not so much.

But Someday This Pain Will Be Useful To You (possibly one of the worse movie titles ever) is different.  The movie revolves around a young person,  James Sveck (Toby Regbo) who’s entire family is remarkably dysfunctional, self-involved or just plain weird and he’s doing what he can to just keep remain afloat.

Another similarity to Boyhood is that James is also a child of divorce, though unlike Mason, he reacts and is effected by everything that goes on around him (a tendency that decreased as Mason grew older).

He’s a clever, and strong-willed individual, but he’s also young and hasn’t quite defined who he is or what’s he about quite yet.

He needs help, but doesn’t know how to ask for it.  You won’t necessarily like everything James does–because he’s a bit of a dick at times–but that has a lot to do with the fact that he’s an engaging character, unlike Mason, who was a bit of a tabula rasa.

Someday This Pain Will Be Useful To You is currently on Netflix.

‘Happy Valley’ Review


Happy Valley trailer

Seeing The Women That Turn Up On British Television, I Think I Better Understand The Culture That Produced Margaret Thatcher

I don’t know what’s in British water, but they have a knack for creating engaging, dynamic female characters for television.  For me one of the best is Supt. Jane Tennison (Hellen Mirren) from multiple seasons of Prime Suspect.  After Tennison I wasn’t expecting to find any other strong women on television any time soon.

That is, till I saw Happy Valley, which also like Prime Suspect was created and written by a woman; the former by Sally Wainwright, the latter by Lynda La Plante

So now I am honored to add Sgt. Catherine Cawood (Sarah Lancashire) to those esteemed ranks.

Though what I initially found interesting is that Euros Lyn directed the initial two episodes of Happy Valley, since he also did an episode of Sherlock, The Blind Banker, easily the weakest of the first (if not the entire) series.

As you can probably guess, Happy Valley is anything but, as Sgt. Cawood works to partrol the streets of a small town in Yorkshire, while raising her grandson, Ryan (Rhys Connah), who was born of the rape of her daughter.  As if that weren’t a difficult enough task, she also lives with her sister, Claire Cartwright (Siobhan Finneran), a former heroin addict.

Though to be fair to Claire, she’s actually a great character, and the only mistakes she makes tend to be out of love, not malice.

And I know that that sounds a bit like drama overkill, but it’s presented in a natural fashion, in easily easily-digesitble chunks and doesn’t come off as either maudlin or ham-fisted.

It’s good stuff, and great television, which justifies comparisons between Netflix and HBO.

Happy Valley is currently on Netflix.

Binge, and be happy.