Begin Countdown to “Battle: Los Angeles”

18 02 2010

Next Alien Film By A South African Director Scheduled to Premiere in Exactly One Year

The alien invasion film Battle: Los Angeles (nice colon) is scheduled to hit theaters on 17 February 2011. Which doesn’t even sound like a real year. Regardless, ima be following this like a gay dude on Gαgα. Directed by Johnathan Liebesman, it’s being pitched alternately as “a West Coast Cloverfield“, “Black Hawk Down meets Alien”, or “Black Hawk Down meets Independence Day”. Your blogger meets anticipation.

Here’s something weird: a lot of it was shot in Shreveport, Louisiana, because it was cheaper. I mean, I get that a lot of films get shot in, like South Carolina, or whatnot, for that very reason. But I still think it’s weird when a film that takes place in the world capital of the film industry (well, technically Santa Monica) is filmed elsewhere. The NYT thought it was weird, too. So get bent.

It wasn’t just about the money, though. No, seriously. The script called for some significant action sequences on California’s I-405, and of course shooting practical effects on that major artery was never going to happen. Shutting down a section of Louisiana’s I-49 for three weeks, though, was doable. And so they did. Here are a couple of freeway interchange pics I lifted from movie-trailer.com:

Interstate 49 = Interstate 405

Palm trees means it’s LA. They’re idiobotanical cues.

These are the kind of pics that get me all hot-and-bothered. By the time I actually see this bitch I’ll have these images so burnt into my skull that, unless the entire scene’s been cut, I’ll be able to recognize bits and pieces of scenery from a single shot—even an insert shot—like some sort of fanboy idiot savant.  But as cool as these freeway shots are (and there are several more out there), I can trump them. Or, rather, some Shreveport townie on YouTube can:

How awesome is that dude with the camera. And how awesome is the fact that the movie crew members who are blithely enjoying another one of my dream careers were taking their sweet time removing all of the set dressing. I screen-capped a couple of the set pieces that I expect might be recognizable in the final product, even if shot at night, out-of-focus and a block away:

Make it easy with product placement.

Do you reckon this storefront was actually a parking lot?

If this kinda thing isn’t your kinda thing, then stay away from this blog for the next twelve months. You were warned.





Plague of Bears To Be Unleashed on Select Theater Audiences as Punishment for Arriving Early

25 11 2009

Conservatives with Weakened Immune Systems Already Experiencing Allergic Reaction to Rare 11th Plague; Vaccine-Resistant Viral Clip May Also Convince Stubborn Eskimo to Rethink Unnecessary Air Travel, Free Israelites

You guys know I find politics gross, but I really wanna talk about this clip, and there’s no way to do it without trudging through hot-button sludge. So here goes. A nickel-bag environmentalist group in England somehow rustled up the funds to produce the following clip, which is blue-filtered and moody and Bolero-like and melodramatic and artsy and all of the things that a good theater commercial should be. That’s right, I like commercials—that doesn’t make me a capitalist any more than a conscious effort to reduce my carbon footprint makes me a communist.

Fueled by blind, impotent rage, scores of resentful, self-imagined guardians of truth instantly responded to this new threat with a barrage of climate statistics and strange references to Al Gore.  This counteroffensive, however, will probably prove ineffective against the bears, which are computer-generated and not really falling from the sky. YouTube is not the front, and the comments sections are not the trenches. Get over yourselves. You’re taking all of the good out of it, and ruining it for the rest of us.

There will be blood.

The channel that I embedded from is called “adsoftheworldcom“, and the theme of the channel is not global warming or climate change or making fun of birthers, but rather—you guessed it—ads of the world. It’s seemingly a repository for cool ads. That’s why I thought the comments for this clip might break YouTube precedent and actually be about style and technique and approach. It was naive of me, I now realize, to expect that the invisible chains of relevance would hold. Again, I thought we could all just enjoy the fact that it really looks like there are polar bears falling out of the sky. Yeah, the factoid is specious and the mammal use is over-the-top sentimental. Yeah, the cause is too niche. But the jet engine SFX are synchronized well, and incongruous imagery is always a treat. Usually the comments are an amusing supplement to any popular YouTube video, but today they just made me feel like I was living in a social Dark Age.

This is something that happens.

This is not something that happens. It looks really crazy, though, right?





Someone at Sony Pictures Has Snapped

5 10 2009

Fall Blockbuster Clip of Only Part Anyone Is Interested in Seeing Allowed to Circulate Unchecked; Need to Sit Through 110 Minutes of Cumbersome Exposition and Character Development Eliminated

Somebody thought it was a good idea to compress the entire California megaquake sequence down to one 5-minute edit and let it get around like your sister. I’m certainly not complaining; I’ve already watched it, like, fifty times. I just can’t fathom how this makes sense from a box office perspective. Everyone’s gonna see this clip, which means no one’s gonna bother going to a theater to pay for a smelly seat in a smelly room full of smelly strangers, since we all know that these are surely the film’s best bits:

And they just did some sort of Northern Hemisphere media blitz!

I’m not going to cry too much about all the goofy nonsense that distracts from the CGI—I don’t know what I was expecting—but I will cite a few examples. There is an audible “oh sh– [sic]” in the limo as it’s doused by raw sewage from a ruptured pipe. Get it? Lame. And a shotgun-shout of “doughnut”, which compounds the folly of an already-unfortunate sight gag, is reminiscent of Helen Hunt calling cow in Twister. Oh, and 2012’s protagonist also drives a car through a building:

We're going in!

It’s been done.

And no surprises on what sounds like a relatively set-in-stone score. I’m all for the jungle beats during the low fly over an uplift- and subsidence-ravaged main drag (which, I’m pleased to report, looks very much like those sepia photographs you always see of San Francisco streets after the 1906 earthquake), but all opposed to the chirpy woodwind flourishes—there’s never an excuse for the piccolo, as far as I’m concerned, and it strikes me as wildly inappropriate here, given that it occurs as the plane flies past a freeway span laden with people plummeting to their collective grisly demise. Speaking of which, this bitch totally needs more screams of abject terror from the people scurrying around on foot. I think we’re good on the horns and car alarms, but we need more screams. There’re a few good ones, but some of them sound more like people on a roller coaster, and the overall effect suffers where they do. Hopefully the post-production people are on that. Although they’re probably not.

mixer 1

These minor shortcomings

mixer 2

are excusable

mixer 3because

mixer 4

the cement mixer that

mixer 5

careens off the freeway

mixer 6

and crashes into the gas station

mixer 7

triggers a Milton hose

mixer 8

before exploding.

So, yeah. A+++ on the ear for detail. Also, I love how it happens on an otherwise beautiful morning. Blue sky, I mean, and all. Slick.





CGI More Polished in 2012 Japanese Trailer

28 08 2009

Trailer Contains Morsels Not Featured in Teaser Trailer, Feature Trailer or International Trailer

The Japanese trailer for 2012 just dropped. I think eager YouTube viewer “2001wazevedo” puts it best:

absolutamente

The SFX are inferior to previous trailer versions, but that’s a small price to pay for a 2012 trailer largely unburdened by melodramatic Carmina Burana-like warblings.

2012 new obelisk shot

Here’s an angle we hadn’t seen yet; note St. Peter’s obelisk going down in courtyard.

You can tell they’re still in post on this thing; for example, in the Japanese trailer, the layer timing is totally different for that already-iconic shot of the plane zooming away as California’s tectonic plate crumbs slide into the sea (somebody likes Titanic).

2012 new plate drop plane swoop

New carnage shot. I can’t get enough of those oscillating palm trees.

Speaking of which, I think that all the gaping-wounds-in-the-surface-of-the-earth stuff is going to be the hardest sell here. Somebody should tell the CGI team that cracks, crags and crevasses don’t look the way they think we think they look. At all. It’s tons of rock and earth, dudes. It’s not an eggshell. That supermarket sequence they keep showing us, where the wall and ceiling open up in a clean, amusement park-ride gash, looks particularly Humpty Dumpty ridiculous. I mean, I get that there’s no precedent to work from, no reference shots. But if you’ve ever seen the cartoonish and piss-poor ice shelf CGI work in The Day After Tomorrow, then you know that whoever’s signing off on this stuff has the sensibilities of a preschooler—which does not bode well. However, from what I can glean on IMDb, it looks like Digital Domain worked with different partners for 2012 (I may be misinterpreting the listings; I don’t know the first thing about this stuff). So who knows. I just hope they don’t harsh my mellow when they marsh California’s mallow.