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Transformers: Dark of the Moon Reviews: 3-D Action Porn, Nostalgia for Megan Fox

Transformers: Dark of the Moon Reviews: 3-D Action Porn, Nostalgia for Megan Fox
Transformers: Dark of the Moon opens June 29 after its June 23 premiere at the Moscow Film Festival. So far reviews confirm that the third installment of this mega-franchise indeed delivers visual spectacle lacking from most post-Avatar 3-D. Some say the movie is too long and may actually make you miss Megan Fox's acting chops. One writer compares Fox to Kate Winslet, while Brit replacement Rosie Huntington-Whiteley "suck[s] the life out of every scene she appears in," says TotalFilm. "[Shia] LaBeouf has graduated to full-on liability," according to Daily Mail. Character-wise, it's the robots coming out on top, causing one critic to speculate; "One gets the feeling that if [director Michael] Bay could stop including people in his films altogether we'd all have a much better time with this franchise."
  • By Sophia Savage
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  • June 28, 2011 2:00 AM
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  • 5 Comments

Cinematography in the Digital Age at The Academy, May 24: Navarro, Semler, Deakins, Pfister

On May 24, the Academy will host "Cinematography in the Digital Age" at the Samuel Goldwyn Theater, with host (and Short Films and Feature Animation Branch governor) Bill Kroyer. Onstage discussions with cinematographers and other industry pros will look at the opportunities and challenges with technological advancements, from visual effects and motion capture to animation. Among those participating are Oscar-winning cinematographers Guillermo Navarro (Pan’s Labyrinth, 2006) and Dean Semler (Dances With Wolves, 1990) as well as How to Train Your Dragon directors Chris Sanders and Dean DeBlois (who will talk about working with cinematographer Roger Deakins on their film), and recorded words from last year's Oscar winning cinematographer, Wally Pfister (Inception).
  • By Sophia Savage
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  • May 19, 2011 7:15 AM
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  • 0 Comments

Cannes Review: Tree of Life Lures Packed House, Oscar-Worthy Pitt Speaks for Missing Director Malick

Cannes Review: Tree of Life Lures Packed House, Oscar-Worthy Pitt Speaks for Missing Director Malick
In all my years coming to Cannes, I've never seen the 8:30 AM Palais press screening fill up so fast. Guards were turning people away by 8 AM, who literally ran across the grass to queue for the back-up 9 AM screening at the Soixantieme. I decided not to wrestle my way in and took the path of least resistance to settle into a center middle row seat and let Terrence Malick's fifth feature, the luminous The Tree of Life, wash over me.
  • By Anne Thompson
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  • May 16, 2011 10:30 AM
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  • 5 Comments

Cannes Review: Why is Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides in Fest?

Cannes Review: Why is Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides in Fest?
What motivates a groggy, jet-lagged scribe to crawl out of bed for an 8:30 AM press screening of Pirates of the Caribbean? Schadenfreude. The word on the Croisette was that the fourth Pirates installment was lousy. Safe to say I wasn't expecting to have a good time. (I didn't even see Number Three, even though it boasted Chow Yun-Fat.)
  • By Anne Thompson
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  • May 14, 2011 10:48 AM
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  • 1 Comment

Live from Wellywood: WETA Digital Hosts Rise of the Planet of the Apes Livestream

Peter Jackson has long been ahead of the curve where doling out info directly to fans is concerned. Thus, live from Wellywood, New Zealand, Jackson's VFX house WETA Digital (The Lord of the Rings, Avatar, District 9, Tintin) will reveal cool stuff from Rise of the Planet of the Apes via Fox's Facebook fan page for James Cameron's Avatar, which has 14.2 million followers. This is basically a maneuver to grab those fans and lure them to also follow this movie via a five-second preview of Rise of the Planet of the Apes (August 5, 2011) on its official Facebook page. What will they see on April 13 at 2:30 PM Pacific time (player is below)? WETA's VFX masters Joe Letteri and Dan Lemmon will give a behind-the-scenes look at how they created photo-real intelligently emotive CG ape Caesar (although their last ape, Jackson's King Kong, also acted by Gollum's Andy Serkis, will be hard to top). Jackson's King Kong earned WETA the coveted Avatar gig, which won them the VFX Oscar.
  • By Anne Thompson
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  • April 11, 2011 6:44 AM
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  • 1 Comment

EXCLUSIVE: Immersive Thrill Ride Human Flight 3D Opens September 30 Nationwide

The film industry's latest technological innovation--portable 3-D cameras-- will take moviegoers on an immersive aerial thrill ride, promises Northern Lights Entertainment chief Carl Samson, who will open Human Flight 3D nationally on September 30, followed by a worldwide release. Northern Lights will preview footage from the movie in 3-D at the CinemaCon exhibitor convention this week in Las Vegas.
  • By Anne Thompson
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  • March 28, 2011 4:58 AM
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  • 4 Comments

Chasing Fan Boys, from Sucker Punch and Wanted to Superman and The Dark Knight Rises

Chasing Fan Boys, from Sucker Punch and Wanted to Superman and The Dark Knight Rises
With the annual box office at $1.93 billion, down 21% from last year, the film industry is holding out for a hero. Many were looking for succor from this weekend's Sucker Punch, the latest offering by director Zack Snyder (300, Watchmen), a visually gifted fanboy who knows what guys want. Anthony D'Alessandro examines the film's assets and liabilities and reports on why Hollywood likes to target the fanboy demo, from Wanted to Superman and The Dark Knight Rises. Inspired by Japanese Anime and the adult cartoon Heavy Metal, Sucker Punch, co-written by Snyder and his college buddy Steve Shibuya, follows a band of female mental patients who retreat into their own hyper-violent fantasy world as they plot to break out of a 60s insane asylum. Going into the weekend, Sucker Punch's tracking drew well ahead of Fox’s Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Rodrick Rules, a family sequel that should score in the high teens over three days. But with current estimates pegging the film at a low $20-million bow, Sucker Punch is looking to be a gamble stateside for distributor/co-financier Warner Bros. Here’s what Sucker Punch faces at the box office:
  • By Anthony D'Alessandro
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  • March 25, 2011 6:35 AM
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  • 6 Comments

Rango's Verbinski and ILM VFX Master John Knoll Talk Fresh Take on Animation

Rango's Verbinski and ILM VFX Master John Knoll Talk Fresh Take on Animation
Defying every convention of the animated genre, Gore Verbinski's PG-rated $135-million Rango opened well, at $38 million. Why? As Verbinski (who jumped ship on Disney's Pirates of the Caribbean franchise after three installments) has been saying to anyone who will listen, audiences want originality. They want to be surprised. And animation offers the last refuge for the creative, free from many of the imitative constraints imposed by Hollywood. While Paramount agreed to fund the project off a rough story reel of the entire film--which Verbinski describes as "an animated Sergio Leone movie"-- clearly the filmmaker was left to his own devices on this one.
  • By Anne Thompson
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  • March 8, 2011 9:12 AM
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  • 3 Comments

Oscars 2011: Red Carpet Videos: Inception's Pfister, Zimmer, Network's Sorkin, Brand & More

Best Cinematography Winner: Wally Pfister, Inception
  • By Anne Thompson
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  • March 1, 2011 10:43 AM
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  • 0 Comments

Rango Early Reviews: "One Spectacular-Looking Movie," "Chaotic," "Wildly Imaginative" (UPDATED)

Rango is a gorgeous CGI animated homage to the Hollywood western from Pirates of the Caribbean director Gore Verbinski, ILM, screenwriter John Logan and a great voice cast led by Johnny Depp. The VFX masters at ILM put their genius to work on a piece of CGI animation (blessedly not in 3-D) , and the results are wondrous, from the character animation to the action sequences. But while Logan is an Oscar-nominated studio scribe (The Aviator) who knows his westerns, this is not a Pixar film. On the one hand the pacing lags, and on the other, they don't seem to have a handle on how to make it play for both adults and kids. (Younger viewers in the theater were bored.) But for any student of animation or western buff, Rango is a must-see.
  • By Anne Thompson
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  • March 1, 2011 9:27 AM
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  • 0 Comments

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