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Thompson on Hollywood

Serkis and Weta Talk Photo-Real Performance Capture for 'Dawn of the Planet of the Apes'

From the outset, with that tight close-up of Caesar's face, it's clear that Andy Serkis and Weta Digital have taken performance capture to a whole new realm of photo-reality The detail and emotional intensity are extraordinary. We're not even aware that Caesar is CG anymore. We are totally immersed in the moment and from there it just gets better as we witness the complexity of Caesar's epic struggle.
  • By Bill Desowitz
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  • July 11, 2014 12:05 PM
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Seventeen Minutes of Marvel's 'Guardians of the Galaxy' Previewed with a 'Cherry Bomb' on Top (VIDEO)

After viewing 17 minutes of new footage Monday from "Guardians of the Galaxy" in IMAX 3D, it's now clear that Marvel has fashioned the ultimate "Star Wars" riff. the '70s sci-fi grunge, the rag-tag underdogs, the sarcastic chemistry, the serial action, the improbable success, all wrapped around the "Hooked on a Feeling" anthem. Judging from the enthusiastic response at the TCL Chinese, director James Gunn pushed all the right buttons and Disney/Marvel should have a late summer hit.
  • By Bill Desowitz
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  • July 8, 2014 6:02 PM
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  • 4 Comments

Matt Reeves Brings a New 'Dawn' to 'Planet of the Apes'

No "Apes" director has gone through the looking glass to explore the human condition as ambitiously as Matt Reeves. As a result, "Dawn of the Planet of the Apes" is the smartest and most compelling kind of summer tentpole, with Andy Serkis delivering his most powerful performance as Caesar, and Weta Digital making a quantum leap in performance capture. We are totally immersed in Caesar's struggle to prevent war with humanity, and forget that we're watching a CG character.
  • By Bill Desowitz
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  • July 4, 2014 7:26 AM
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  • 1 Comment

Why Mendes Brought Back Purvis & Wade for 'Bond 24' Polish

Turnabout is fair play, as veteran James Bond scribes Neil Purvis & Robert Wade have been reinstated to add a bit of witty repartee to the upcoming "Bond 24," according to the reliable Baz Bamigboye of DailyMail. Purvis & Wade, franchise staples since Pierce Brosnan's "The World is Not Enough" (1999), turned over the screenwriting reigns to John Logan for "Bond 24" after he was brought in to polish their work on "Skyfall," which, of course, become the first billion Bond in franchise history.
  • By Bill Desowitz
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  • June 28, 2014 4:04 PM
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  • 2 Comments

ILM Reanimates Badass Transformers for 'Age of Extinction'

Keeping up with Marvel isn't easy, but Michael Bay and Industrial Light & Magic have brought new life to the badass Hasbro bots in "Transformers: Age of Extinction," introducing a sleek new sci-fi design and a new army of fire-breathing Dinobots. At the same time, Bay has smartly ventured into China and has replaced Shia LaBeouf with Mark Wahlberg as a single dad and failed inventor, which also kicks the franchise into higher gear.
  • By Bill Desowitz
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  • June 25, 2014 4:00 PM
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  • 0 Comments

PREVIEW: Pixar's 'Inside Out'

Thursday night at the Directors Guild, Pixar provided the same sneak peek of Pete Docter's "Inside Out" that was presented at the Annecy festival last week, except we were also treated to the first screening of the short that will play in front of it (next year to the day): the lovely Hawaiian-themed "Lava" musical directed by animator James Murphy.
  • By Bill Desowitz
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  • June 20, 2014 7:10 PM
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  • 0 Comments

Mid-Year VFX Report: 'Godzilla' and Marvel Rule

Without a "Gravity" this year, the wow factor might not be as strong but certainly the Oscar race is now wide open. Yet in surveying the first-half of 2014, only "Godzilla" looks like a potential nominee. But there are still plenty of bake-off contenders, with solid VFX work on display in "Captain America: The Winter Soldier," "The Amazing Spider-Man 2," "X-Men: Days of Future Past," "Maleficent," and "Edge of Tomorrow."
  • By Bill Desowitz
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  • June 20, 2014 9:47 AM
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  • 1 Comment

'The Rover' Cinematographer Talks Filming Pearce and Pattinson--"he's a natural" (VIDEO)

The Rover," the Australian dystopian crime drama from director David Michod ("Animal Kingdom") is a fascinating cross between a western and neo-noir. And the pairing of Guy Pearce and Robert Pattinson is an intense psychological study of abuser and enabler. For Argentinian cinematographer Natasha Braier ("The Milk of Sorrow," "XXY"), this is a breakthrough movie. Shot on film in the hot outback, she helps convey a hostile environment where survival has put humanity on hold.
  • By Bill Desowitz
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  • June 13, 2014 2:36 PM
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  • 2 Comments

How Sony Imageworks Embraced Challenging Animation, Gritty Realism and Alien Mimics for 'Edge of Tomorrow' (VIDEO)

Sony Pictures Imageworks, which is moving its headquarters from Culver City to Vancouver to stay competitive, embraced gritty, CG photorealism for the first time with Doug Liman's smart and trippy "Edge of Tomorrow." Truly "War of the Worlds" meets "Groundhog Day," with Tom Cruise caught in a nightmarish loop, the aliens he's up against were a strange, tough animation challenge for Imageworks.
  • By Bill Desowitz
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  • June 6, 2014 4:27 PM
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  • 1 Comment

Director Robert Stromberg Talks 'Maleficent': Cutting Edge Virtual Cinema and Age-Old Emotional Storytelling

The path to directing from VFX and production design has certainly been a natural one for two-time Oscar winner Robert Stromberg ("Avatar," "Alice in Wonderland"). And after re-imagining Disney's iconic "Sleeping Beauty" with "Maleficent," he not only wants to continue directing but also explore new tech frontiers. In fact, Stromberg has formed his own virtual company, Hydra (in partnership with The Third Floor previs boutique and "Maleficent" production designer Dylan Cole), so he can be on the cutting edge of total cinematic immersion.so he can be on the cutting edge of total cinematic immersion.
  • By Bill Desowitz
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  • May 30, 2014 2:26 PM
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  • 1 Comment

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