Posts tagged movie
Everything is connected.
Or so they would have you believe. Cloud Atlas is the newest installation brought to us by the Wachowski siblings. Now, we all know the Wachowskis from the Matrix series, and chances are most of us loved at least, or only, the first one. Here in the comic fan world, we also know them from producing the V for Vendetta movie which, to most lovers of the brilliant Alan Moore comic, left much to be desired. I wasn’t sure what to expect going into this movie. I had asked a few friends what they thought of it, without revealing any details, and got very mixed reviews from them. However, it seemed to have a great cast behind it, and has had many compliments on the graphics and stylistic choices, so I tried to keep an open mind. If you haven’t seen this film yet, don’t worry, I won’t give anything away for you. We’ll try to keep this as spoiler-friendly as possible.
I’d like to tell you this movie is phenomenal. That it’s mind-blowing, life-changing.. all that gooey stuff. It’s simply not. It’s true that the cast was fantastic – well, most of them. To be honest, the two main leads – Tom Hanks and Halle Berry – really weren’t anything to write home about. A lot of their characters’ personalities seemed a bit forced and unimagined. To be fair, though, they each played several characters throughout the movie (six, to be precise). Mostly main characters, at that, which can’t be easy to do. However, the supporting cast was quite wonderful. By the ending credits, I was astonished to find that there were a few characters portrayed by Hugh Grant that I truly would not have guessed to be him. Another notable appearance was made by Hugo Weaving. Of course, I’m pretty sure we all have just come to expect wonderful things from Weaving, his portrayal of Old Georgie in this was disturbing in all the right ways. Not only that, he also shows up as a comically rough-handed female nurse in a mental institution. All things considered, the casting for Cloud Atlas did lend a lot to the movie as a whole, that would have been greatly soured by a lesser cast.
What I had previously heard about the aesthetics of the film did not seem to be exaggerated either. Taking place in six different time lines, Cloud Atlas had to adapt to very different settings very quickly. The futuristic, dystopian feel of Neo Seoul was particularly interesting. In fact, let’s take a look at a scene from that time line:
However, casting and looks can only take you so far. There needs to be a great story line behind a movie like this, and that’s where it really fell short. The tagline of Everything is Connected is pushed very hard from the second you even look at a movie poster for Cloud Atlas. In fact, it’s pushed so hard that it’s quite a let down when you come to see that things.. really aren’t that connected. You’d expect the six stories to be very intertwined; you’d expect the core characters in each respective timeline to suffer the same general pitfalls, and learn the same overall lessons as they may relate to them, personally. I’m just going to rip that band-aid off right now – they don’t. There are certain aspects that are passed down through timelines, but they just aren’t enough to connect the characters together as much as you want them to. If you take a look at the infographic here (click to enlarge), it explains individual items that are passed between characters, but these items, with the notable exception of Sonmi-451 and 2346 Hawaii, really don’t mean very much in the grand scheme of the story. The way you’re built up to believe that everything will connect on a profound level ends up being a huge let down. This entire story seemed like it spent two and a half hours driving and driving to a point, and it just never got there. Frankly, it was disappointing.
Cloud Atlas has a fair amount of well-delivered humor, and a good portion of fun action sequences. The cast obviously had a lot of fun with this one, and their efforts definitely show. Six different timelines are very beautifully portrayed, often with unique and interesting styles. However, the soundtrack was unremarkable, and the story was infuriating. This is the kind of movie that would be fun to watch on a rainy Sunday afternoon when you have nothing better to do, but it’s absolutely not something I’ll be revisiting anytime soon.
I would, however, like to mention something I found particularly wonderful. This isn’t even about the movie, though, it’s about the packaging. One of the ways you can get this DVD is in a combo-pack. This comes with a DVD, Blu-Ray Disc, and an optional digital download. I really have to hand it to WB and the movie industry on this one. Giving consumers options for how they want to view a product they own is a long-awaited idea that we’ve all been hoping for.
That said, Cloud Atlas available NOW on Blu-ray Combo pack, DVD and Digital Download. I’d love to hear what you guys thought of it.
Dawn of the Dragonslayer tells the story of Will (Richard McWilliams), a shepherd’s son whose land is ravaged by a dragon. After his flock is destroyed he takes his father’s advice to look for a better life. He is encouraged to approach Baron Sterling (Ian Cullen) to cash in a debt owed to his father.
Under the impression that he is meant to be a bondsman training to be a knight, his thoughts of a better life are extinguished when he recognizes that the Baron is suffering a financial windfall. He is initially sent away until he reveals a sealed document from his father. The Baron reluctantly agrees to employ him, but the Baron’s servants immediately delegate the less tasteful jobs to Will.
Although the experience wasn’t quite what he expected, he took note of the Baron’s lovely daughter, Kate (Nicola Posener). As sparks start between them, a young nobleman named Rogan (Philip Brodie) arrives with a request for Kate’s hand.
During these deliciously awkward moments, the dragon migrates to the Baron’s lands. The Baron, hungry for glory and gold leaves with Rogan to take down the monster. While they are away, Kate reveals a book that helps Will learn the lessons of a knight. Before he is ready to avenge his homeland, the dragon attacks the castle and Will manages to wound it.
Through faith in himself and his feelings for Kate, he sets off to finish what had started on his farm.
I have to admit that even though I had a bit of a setback*, I was a little hesitant to watch an independent film about dragons. I’m one of those people that loves the idea of being immersed in a movie, and if the budget isn’t high there are areas that tend to be shaved down.
I KICKED MYSELF once I started watching it. The special effects and underscoring were incredibly impressive. The dragon itself looked phenomenal and the magical moments were accentuated without distracting you from the actors, and their performances were compelling.
Richard McWilliams and Nicola Posener have a chemistry on screen that feels naïve but intense. The romance novel nerd in me squeed when there were slight facial clues of the character’s developing feelings. It was very well played in a training montage. Yes… That’s right. A montage. As Kate and Will are learning the ways of the Knight, there are stolen glances and tender moments.
One of my favorite characters is Lady Spriggs (Maggie Daniels), Kate’s Aunt who initially appears to be a minor character. When the Baron leaves to battle the dragon, however, she steps into a far more inspirational role to Will than the Baron could ever be.
As of right now, Dawn of the Dragonslayer is only available through UK distribution, and they are currently speaking with US distributors. If you “like” their facebook fanpage they can keep you abreast with the latest updates.
* Back in September, we posted an official press release for Dawn of the Dragonslayer’s World Premiere at Bleedfest 2011. In October, I managed to get my hands on a copy of the movie. Frankly, I love dragons. Can’t get enough of them. It was just my luck that the weekend I planned to watch it and write a review, Connecticut would have a freak snowstorm and leave 94% of the state without power for a week and a half. Guess which percentage I was a part of?
But there is still great news! Dawn of the Dragonslayer was awarded Best Fantasy Film at Bleedfest 2011!
Since Halloween is steadily approaching, I figured I would suggest a few films that are definitely not made for children but have taken both the horror and sci-fi genres to a different level within the last few years.
I had the absolute pleasure of going to see Attack the Block earlier this month in Plainville, CT. I follow Edgar Wright on twitter and when he announced that the release was widening into my area, I had to go. Shaun of the Dead, Hot Fuzz, and Scott Pilgrim vs. the World instilled a little faith in Mr. Wright.
Each movie was a genre movie. It wasn’t a comedy trying to itch that genre niche. They are genre movies that have incredibly funny moments in them. They show a great nod to comedy, but display an intense love for the genre in the storyline.
I’m sure some people are saying “he only produced Attack the Block”. You’re correct. I still have faith in something that Edgar Wright would put his name on.
Faith bolstered, Mr. Wright.
Attack the Block is a science fiction thriller written and directed by Joe Cornish. It is the tale of a teenage gang that takes it upon themselves to defend their council housing in Lambeth from alien invaders.
The first few minutes of the movie established how unsavory the youth had become when we witness them mugging a nurse as she is walking home. The mugging is interrupted by something crashing from the sky into a parked car. The gang leader Moses goes to check it out and is attacked by a creature that he kills with the help of his friends.
What proceeds is absolute chaos. Throughout the area, the sky is lit up with fireworks, masking the illuminated single creature transporters crashing against the Earth and everything built on it.
Joe Cornish’s directorial debut is not something to be missed. His vision is well executed with phenomenal performances by John Boyega (Moses), Jodie Whittaker (Sam), and Luke Treadaway (Brewis, who I had taken to calling “British Butters”). The cinematographer, Thomas Townend, kept the pace with dynamic shots and exceptional angles.
I am beyond pleased with this movie. The aliens were actually alien and something that I had never seen before. Initially, when I saw the second alien in the movie I threw my hands up in the air because I thought it was so cheesy. Then it opened its mouth and I screamed “AWESOME!” in the theater.
(Make note: I am a horrible person to go to a movie with.)
All of the special effects were marvelous as well. Some scenes were perfect homage to scenes from the past. There are moments where you know what’s happening to these characters off the screen is more terrifying than the blood spatter you see. My favorite weapon was only used briefly as a defensive maneuver (motorbike).
The ending was exactly what needed to happen and I was not disappointed at all. I absolutely loved Sam and how she spoke with the boys in the gang. Brewis was the character where you could see someone following him just to play a sad trombone “wah wah” whenever he opened his mouth. Nick Frost was hysterical as the skeezy drug dealer for the block. There is a moment between him and Brewis where the entire theater laughed.
I loathe spoiling any of the story for you, so I suggest you get your hands on it. Attack the Block is now available on DVD and Blu-Ray.
Attack the Block will kick you in your face with awesome.
Tucker (Alan Tudyk) and Dale (Tyler Labine) are two best friends that take a weekend to fix up a dilapidated mountain house that Tucker pinched pennies to purchase. They are then mistaken for murderous backwoods hillbillies by a group of obnoxious, over-privileged college kids that chose an area nearby to pitch tents and camp.
During a skinny-dipping session one of the college kids, Alison (Katrina Bowden), is injured. Tucker and Dale attempt to lend a hand and notify her friends that they’ve saved her. Instead, the friends think that she has been abducted. With the cajoling of one in the group they decide that they have a time limit to saving their friend. They go to the house to rescue her.
Then someone dies. The misunderstanding between the two parties becomes seemingly unsurmountable.
As the body count increased, my laughter raised in decibels. Alan Tudyk and Tyler Labine have INSANE chemistry as redneck buddies. Their sometimes slow-witted thinking is equally balanced with a keen intellect and a genuine care for themselves and the things around them.
The gore and crazy ways people end up dying are amazing. I hope that some of them were pulled from the Darwin awards.
Have you ever laughed so hard at someone’s reaction to something that you thought you were going to pee your pants? No? … … … Me neither…
Tucker and Dale is definitely worth checking out. It is on limited release this month and I hope that it gets the viewers it needs to open nationwide.
If you just can’t wait to see Wash and Sock from two of the greatest TV shows cut from their prime dressed in flannel and wielding a chainsaw you need not fear. If you have digital cable, it is available On Demand. It’s a few dollars more than they normally are, but it is worth every cent.
Warning: Minor Spoilers Below
I first heard about Cowboys and Aliens from my uncle David. He’s a sound technician who does a lot of work in New Mexico. After a bit of research I discovered who was attached to the movie. Three names sealed the deal for me: Jon Favreau, Daniel Craig, and Harrison Ford. Jon Favreau does great work, Daniel Craig is nice to look at (that’s shallow but true), and I’m pretty sure Harrison Ford is the first man I ever fell in love with. Names like that pretty much guaranteed I was going to enjoy it. And it was nice to know those names didn’t lie to me. The skeptical one this time was Mr. Doc. Normally he’s very gung-ho about movies and I’m the one with the grimace on my face trying to figure out if the movie is worth my time. I am very happy to report he left the theater with a much different outlook.
Daniel Craig and Harrison Ford play opposing men, forced to work together when aliens invade a small New Mexico town and abduct many residents including the local sheriff (Keith Carradine), Ford’s character’s son, and the wife of the saloon owner (Sam Rockwell).
Jake Lonergan, is played supremely well by Daniel Craig. He’s a man who is slowly remembering the horrors he faced at the hands of the aliens, including being forced to watch them dissect and then kill his wife, and being partially cut open with a laser scalpel. He manages to steal one of the alien’s bracelets and escape, which leads to the opening scene where he wakes up in the desert with no memory, shoes, or gun and a wound he can’t explain.
Woodrow Dolarhyde, played by the always fantastic Harrison Ford, is the local cattle baron who feels that the whole town should bow down to him because his cattle business is the reason the town manages to stay afloat. His son Percy is a spoiled brat who uses his name to get out of trouble. Dolarhyde came to town to get Percy out of jail after he accidentally shot a deputy.
As the movie progresses Jake and Dolarhyde are forced to reconcile their differences, Jake had stolen gold from Dolarhyde, in order to mount a rescue mission. They set out the morning after the abductions, their party including the mysterious Ella, who knows more than she lets on, Emmett, the son of the sherrif, and a group of Dolarhyde’s ranch hands. Through a rather exciting set of events the townsfolk meet up with a band of Apaches, and a gang of outlaws formerly lead by Jake. Together the group manages to mount a rescue mission that leads them to the alien stronghold, which is their buried ship. The climax of the movie involves cowboys on horseback fighting aliens who run like big cats and wield energy cannons while the cowboys are armed with revolvers, and the Apache have spears, clubs and bows and arrows.
Final Verdict: 4.75 out of 5 on the action scale. And it gets a definite10 out of 10 on the pretty people scale, thanks to Mr. Ford, Mr. Craig and Ms. Wilde. Definitely one to see in the theaters.
*WARNING: Contains Some Spoilers*
Let me start by saying I am not usually a fan of what I call “Zoolander/Bruno” humor. Yes, I call it that because I can’t stand either one of those movies. Zoolander just bores me, whereas Bruno (and on that same note, Borat) makes me sick to my stomach. So I went into The Hangover determined I wasn’t going to like it. And I was way off base. I laughed so hard during that movie Mr. Doc had to pause it at least half a dozen times so I could go pee.
So when I heard that Zach Galifianakis was going to be doing a movie with Robert Downey Jr, I got really excited with a side feeling of trepidation. What if it goes back to that “Bruno” humor and I just hate it? I’m happy to say that’s wasn’t the case. Of course I’ll watch just about anything with Downey Jr. in it. (see above picture)
Due Date was a fun ride. From the very beginning when Downey Jr.’s character Peter is telling his wife about a dream he had where a bear chewed the umbilical off their soon-to-be born child, to the end where Peter and his wife are cuddled up in bed with their newborn daughter watching Galifianakis’s character, Ethan, make his TV debut on Two and Half Men.
It had its parts that made me cringe, in particular the scene where Ethan is beating off right next to Peter and then Peter looks in the backseat of the car and Ethan’s dog, Sunny, is DOING IT TOO. Mr. Doc found this so hysterical I was forced to watch it upwards of a dozen times. I finally took a cue from Peter and just hid my head under the covers.
One of my favorite scenes begins in the Range Rover Darryl loans Peter. Ethan is driving and Peter is asleep. We see Ethan taking a hit off a bong. It’s apparently time for his “glaucoma medicine.” Peter wakes up and tries to roll down a window, of course Ethan has locked them to get a “good clambake going so Sunny can get stoned.” Peter realizes he’s stoned too. He looks over at Ethan, and Ethan is a BEAR! *gasp* Is he the bear from Peter’s dream? They end up accidentally trying to cross the border into Mexico and they get stopped for having weed. Ethan runs away and leaves Peter to take the heat. Eventually he comes back and rescues Peter and they end up driving a Border patrol truck all the way to LA. On the trip there, Ethan finds a gun in the glove box and it goes off shooting Peter in the leg. They pull over, Ethan pukes on Peter’s gunshot wound, manages to rip a door off the truck and finally they make it to the hospital. Peter busts into his wife’s delivery room and promptly passes out from blood loss. When he comes too his daughter has been born, and Ethan the Bear was there to cut the umbilical cord.
I’ve heard this movie referred to as “The Hangover .5” and I can see where that is a true statement, but it was still a nice, no-thinking-required, easy to watch film. I laughed, a lot. Cried just a little when Darryl used Ethan’s father’s ashes to make coffee (he keeps them in a coffee can). And hid when Sunny masturbated. All in all I enjoyed it and I highly recommend it to anyone who likes Galifianakis or Downey Jr.
**Warning: This Post Contains Spoilers**
It’s no secret to those that know me that I am a gigantic Disney Nerd. I have several Disney playlists on my iTunes, and most movies I can cialis pills quite with the help of my best friend, (who works at Disney World.) So I had been excited about the new DIsney movie Tangled for a while. It might have helped a little that I’m a fan of Mandy Moore, I saw her when she opened for the Backstreet Boys back in 1999, when she was a young blonde little thing, (like I can talk, I was 11 at the time.) Also, any fan of Chuck will recognize Zachary levi’s voice as Flynn Rider. Like the crazy person that I am, I passed up on Harry Potter to see “Tangled”, and I’m actually pretty satisfied with that decision.
‘Pretty Satisfied’ is an understatement.
This was Disney’s 50th animated movie, and right proper Disney Princess movie, reminiscent of the classics. Alan Menken was once again at the helm of the songs, and score for the movie. One can hear the influence of his earlier classics, such as The Little Mermaid, and Aladdin, and there were no misses this time around, (like there really are any misses for this man.)
“This is the story of how I died?” –Flynn Rider (Anyone else having Doctor Who flashbacks?)
Backstory time! As is with most Disney fairytale movies. Our, er, hero, Flynn Rider narrates. A single drop of sun fell from the sky, and bloomed into a flower, and held great power. The person who found it, of course, used it selfishly to make herself young again, and would continue to do so for hundreds of years, only by singing a song to it, (“Healing Incantaiton”.) Well the pregnant Queen is sick, and needs this miracle flower. Our selfish hag, Mother Gothel, makes a mistake and the flower is found! The queen is alright, and bouncing baby girl, with long blonde hair, is born. They let off a floating lantern to celebrate. This is important. Mother Gothel breaks into the castle and realizes that the baby’s hair is magical and can make her young again, but if you cut the hair it turns brown and loses it’s power. So what can she do now? Kidnap the baby!
This is how Rapunzel comes to live in her tower, with 70 feet of hair. Hair that she can wield as a weapon, or a swing, or a hook to pull Mother Gothel up the tower, or as an Indiana Jones-esque bull whip. But she has a dream, (“When Will My Life Begin”) she wants to leave the tower to see the floating lights that appear once a year on her birthday. The lights that the Kingdom releases every year hoping that it will help bring back the lost Princess.
Enter, Flynn Rider. A thief. He’s stolen a tiara from the castle, with the help of two other thieves, and is now on the run from what could be the entire Royal Army, and their horses. Maximus is part horse, part bloodhound, and all serious about getting Flynn. This chase is what brings Flynn to Rapunzels tower, that he climbs with the help of two arrows. Flynn is Rapunzel’s ticket to getting out of the tower to go see the lights, that her mother has forbidden her from doing, in the form of an entertaining song (“Mother Knows Best”) with a stern warning. (Mother Gothel is the mother you wish you never have.) How does she get Flynn to agree to this? By hiding the tiara he so urgently seeks and says that if he takes her to see the lights and brings her back then he gets it back.
It doesn’t take long for Mother Gothel to realize that something’s up, finds the tiara, and she starts to follow the two after she finds them at the Snuggly Duckling. The Snuggly Duckling full of murderous, sadistic, and fluffy pub thugs. They all have dreams, (“I’ve Got a Dream”) and have been inspired by the young, 18 year old, sheltered girl. As the Royal Guards come, still searching for Flynn, arrive the pub thungs help them escape. And it almost works, until Maximus shows up and discovers the hidden tunnel.
Cut to a dam with an impossible escape. Rapunzel gets to higher ground with her hair, Flynn fights off a sword wielding horse with a frying pan, and the Royal Guard and Flynn’s very upset partners are all there to get Flynn, dead or alive, depending on who you ask. The dam breaks and we find our heroes in a very precarious situation, where we learn that Flynn Rider is not his real name, (Eugene Fitzherbert,… really?), little orphan Eugene got his name from Flynnagan Rider, and that Rapunzel has magical glowing hair that can also heals wounds.
Mother Gothel appears to make Rapunzel think that she’s delusional, why would this thief like her when all he wants is his stolen tiara? She challenges Rapunzel to test Eugene, er Flynn, by giving him the tiara and to see if he’ll actually still take her to the floating lights. Rapunzel hides the tiara instead.
And just when you thought that they had lost Maximus, he’s back! But Rapunzel discovers his soft side and he helps them get the to castle town, without getting Flynn arrested. As comes with any Disney movie, this is where the montage of cute things happens between our two love interests that pull them closer. As night falls Flynn takes Rapunzel out on to the water to have one of the best views of the lanterns as they take to the sky. Here I discover that Zachary Levi has a decent voice, and my new favorite song, “I See The Light”.
Enter, Mother Gothel’s master plan. With Rapunzel so close to finding out that she is the missing princess, she must get her back to the tower, and get rid of Flynn Fitz-, Rider. A plot breaks out! Flynn is set up and set sailing back to the guards to get captured, and Mother Gothel lures Rapunzel in with fake worry, and they travel back ‘home’.
In prison, as he’s being led to his execution, everything comes together for Flynn. He realizes that Rapunzel is the Princess, that Mother Gothel was behind everything for the magical hair, and that he must go help the woman he has fallen in love with! But how will he escape? Maximus and the Pub Thugs to the rescue!
Back at the tower Rapunzel thinks on everything that she’s seen at the castle town, and what’s she’s learned, and all her paintings, and pieces together that she’s the missing princess, (without any help from any other character!) Mother Gothel transformation: Into evil, selfish hag!
Flynn climbs the tower again to save Rapunzel to find out that he’s stumbled onto a trap. She’s been chained to a wall by Mother Gothel, as the same evil woman then stabs Flynn, letting him slowly die. At this point I thought I was going to have to start writing an angry letter to Disney for not providing a happy ending. I would have done it, too. Rapunzel gives her word to Mother Gothel that she will go with her, into hiding, and never run away if she just lets her save Eugene, (Rapunzel has called him Eugene since finding out it was his real name, luckily never saying Fitzherbert again.) Eugene won’t let this happen though. He cuts off her hair!
This breaks the spell that Mother Gothel has been using and she falls out of the tower, turning into dusts as she starts to age. But it’s too late to save our dear Eugene, and the older woman in front of me*, and I started to cry, (no lies.) Disney saves it though, her tears heal her love as she once again sings the healing song, in vain she thinks. Eugene takes her back to her parents, who have waited 18 years to find their daughter. Eugene takes over narrating and confirming, in a very Flynn Rider way, that everyone was happy again and that he and Rapunzel did in fact, get married.
I would actually pay to go see the movie again, but I’ll bring a friend with me this time, and I recommend this movie to anyone who likes Disney, especially the classic Princess movies. They managed to focus both on the princess Rapunzel, and the, almost, unlikely hero Flynn- Eugene Fitzherbert! It was the second biggest opening movie that weekend, no surprise right behind Harry Potter, with $45.1 million. It’s also Disney’s second biggest Thanksgiving opening movie, right behind Toy Story 2 with $54 million.
*I should state that I went to the movie alone, as did the woman in front of me who was at least ten years older than me. I heard her sniff in that way that one does after crying, and I was slightly relieved to know that I was not alone in crying at (another) Disney movie…. Yes, I cry at Disney movies, it happens.
You know how all of the apocalypse talk nowadays is about Zombies and Vampires? Well, this film is going back to old-school, 1990s apocalypse fears and it’s awesomesauce.
In their own words: Wry, cynical and full of off-beat humor, APOCALYPSE, CA is the story of John Parsons and his ill-fated friends as they prepare for certain death at the hands of a massive asteroid, sex-inducing drugs, a three-hundred foot giant, and a horde of other unfortunate problems. APOCALYPSE, CA is an indie cult film of catastrophic proportions, featuring outstanding visual effects from artists Ryan Wieber (Ryan vs. Dorkman) and Teague Chrystie (The Pacific) in this feature film directorial debut by Chad Peter (behind the popular Internet short films, Sex, Drugs & Natalie Portman & Roleplayed).
Chad Peter, Ryan Wieber, and Teague Chrystie were awesome enough to let us ask them some questions about their upcoming film. Before you check out their answers, make sure to watch this:
How long did this film take (from pre-production to now)?
Chad: Wow, well it has been an interesting three years from start to finish. Originally “Apocalypse, CA” was going to be a short film, but the idea behind it quickly blossomed into what it is now – a full-on feature length project. It’s been a rough and tough process, but I think we’re all very proud of how it all turned out, despite whatever ups and downs were presented along the way.
It’s independently produced, so where/how did you get the funding?
Chad: *laughs* That’s a good question! Sometimes I wonder(ed) that myself. But honestly, it all began with asking one person (an ex-girlfriend, no less) for $5,000, and that got the ball rolling. Once friends and family saw that we weren’t out fucking around, suddenly it seemed like people were *offering* their money to the project far more than I had to ask for it. That didn’t last too long, though, because I think the general perception is that a feature length movie shouldn’t take more than a year to make. So, you know, after two years I’m still working on the movie, essentially by myself, worn thin and struggling to pay bills and there’s no more investor money to be had. Fortunately when it came time to work on the VFX and audio, I had a pretty solid foundation of friends to go to and say, “okay guys, I’m worn out… Help me get this thing finished,” and they came through in a big way.
Who wrote it?
Chad: I wrote the script over the course of a month, basing it on a pair of student films I had made back in college, “Sex” & “Drugs” (or “Sex, Drugs & Natalie Portman” as the series was called). Again, it started as a short film, but I quickly became attached to the large scope of the project and decided to write it as a feature instead. Ultimately when shooting began, the script was quite different than it turned out in the final movie, and we ended up rewriting a bit – as we were shooting. We shot probably 90% of the first script, then I went back and threw out several scenes, rewrote, reshot and eventually ended up with a much better script than what we started with.
Where/how did you guys find your actors/actresses?
Chad: Nick Mathis is the lead actor in the movie and I was living with him when I wrote the first draft in North Hollywood. Nick might be the most raw talented person I know, and easily one of the most charismatic. He had moved to LA a few years before and done “the actor thing”, but ultimately – and I still don’t understand it – he wasn’t getting any roles. The TNT cable network thought he was good enough to award him their top “Dramatic Auditions” contest prize, but “Apocalypse, CA” ended up being his first real LEAD role in a feature. From there I went through Actors Access and Breakdown Services to put out a casting call in LA, as well as cast a few actor friends here and there throughout the movie.
Let’s see, asteroid headed to earth – check, ‘love’ story – check, giant woman stomping on people – wha? What made you decide to add that little element to a story that is already ‘apocalyptic’? Obviously without giving too much away ; )
Chad: *laughs* To be honest, I can’t remember the instance where I thought “oh hey, lets add a giant!” There’s so much going on in the movie – crazy stuff – that it just seemed to be another notch on the ol’ belt. Like, if we’re gonna go balls-out, lets add a fucking giant to the mix.
Teague & Ryan, when did you two get involved?
Teague: In a weird way, I’ve always been involved – sorta. Chad and I met online years ago when he released a short film called “Drugs” – which is cooler than it sounds, it’s not a film-school public service announcement or something, my god – and eventually moved to LA and started hanging out. At the time Apocalypse, CA got started, we were roommates living in the San Fernando Valley – being poor, sleeping with greenscreens for bedsheets (this happened) – and I ended up reading drafts, being at shoots, being an extra, every damned thing. By the time the film was shot and edited, it kind of made sense for me to be a part of the visual effects team, and it would have been ridiculous not to blackmail Ryan into doing it – I’m a visual effects artist by trade, but Ryan is a really good visual effects artist by trade.
What were your different responsibilities? What VFX did each of you focus on personally the most?
Teague: Ryan and I did most of the big visual effects in the movie, some of which are spoilers and I can’t go into them, but stuff that you already know about – like the asteroid shots – those were mine. There’s several asteroid shots, and a very large (non-asteroid) sequence at the end I’m not going to go into. (It sucks that it can’t be in the trailer, because it’s really awesome and well done. You’ll have to see the movie, I guess, oh darn. ; )) Our buddy Matt Vayda was a huge help, he spent a lot of time with us, mostly doing motion tracking for the handheld shots that required visual effects. We had garage FX marathons, where everyone would bring their computer over to my apartment and we’d sweat it out over the weekend churning out shots one after the other.
Ryan: I took on the shots of the 300 foot woman, and a hand full of other smaller, miscellaneous shots. I thought it was going to be pretty easy, but it turned out that for such a “simple” gag (glorified forced-perspective) it ended up being a lot of pretty complex shots, ended up spending several weeks where all my free time was spent getting those shots where they needed to be.
Also, worth noting that Chad himself did a lot of VFX work in the film. He was very aware of the legal ramifications of things like logos and brand-names in the film, as well as stuff like paintings and pictures on walls. He ended up removing and changing almost everything in a picture frame in the movie. He also did a lot of dust-on-lens cleanup as well as other straightforward fix-its. The guy knows his way around After Effects and did, by far, the bulk of the visual effects shots from a numbers standpoint. If you incluse all the “invisible” effects and clean-ups, there were, i think, over 300 VFX shots in Apocalypse, CA.
Also, in the trailer, you can see that in some of the shots, there are smaller meteors burning through the atmosphere, leaving trails behind them. I originally created elements to use for my shots of distant meteors, and Chad ended up taking those elements and tracking/compositing them into many other shots where I wasn’t doing any ‘giant’ effects. He had very specific ideas on where they should be falling, how many, the angles of them, etc, and it was great that he was able to actually do those shots himself, rather than dictate to me or Teague where to put them. He did a great job.
What were the most difficult VFX to perfect?
Teague: You know what’s difficult? Modeling an asteroid. We went through a lot of revisions. “This one looks too much like a potato.” “This one looks exactly like Dick Cheney.” Finally settled on one that wasn’t too Armageddon, but wasn’t too moon-y. The spoiler-heavy sequence at the end was also a very tricky thing to get right, I think it turned out well.
Ryan: As I mentioned earlier, all the ‘giant’ shots ended up being more complex than I anticipated. The whole gag is to sell scale. The shots are successful when I can make a human being look big, and the shots fail when I can’t. Which is challenging, because we all know how big a person is, so it’s easy to get it wrong and have it look hokey movie from the ’50s. Shooting the giant elements with Chad to ensure the right perspective, lighting, and lensing was critical, but even so, it was pretty challenging. It’s all the little things. I ended up doing a lot of additional work to add dust and stuff in front of her, and slow down her motion because big things look big when they’re slow. I think the “hardest” shot was one that’s actually in the trailer, toward the end. The three characters turn and run with the giant in the distance. The shot, in the film, is actually quite a bit longer. As I worked on it and showed the progress to Chad, I ended up completely restarting that shot at least 3 times, using different footage of her, trying to get it work technically, and stylistically. It ends up looking very simple, of course… but only because of many small but important decisions Chad and I made that help it to just work.
What are the plans with this movie? Where are you going to screen it? Are you sending it out to agents?
Chad: Well we’ve applied to twelve or so film festivals so far, and we won’t start to hear back from them until the first week of December. In any case, the movie won’t premiere before January 2011 – unless we secure foreign distribution and they decide to release it before January ’11. The odds of a distributor turning the movie around that quickly, however are pretty slim, so we’re probably looking at a first or second quarter release next year. I’m currently working with a rep to secure a foreign sales agent and we’ll go from there. As far as domestic rights (north america), I’ll probably be holding onto those until after we’ve built some buzz on the movie, either online or via film festivals. The whole process is confusing, awesome and after years of editing at a computer I’m excited for the change of pace.
Fun question – Asteroid is heading to earth. What do you do to enjoy your last few days?
Teague: Start smoking again, probably. Buy a couple cartons of cigarettes and champagne, head north, be naked a lot.
Ryan: Try to score with Anne McDaniels.
Chad: *laughs* No comment. Probably something involving Gretchen Mol and a circus midget.
Another fun question – why no zombies? All apocalypse movies nowadays have zombies! Have you learned nothing from modern cinema?
Chad: Maybe in my future! There’s this band out there that I absolutely love called Schoolyard Heroes. Anyway, their music is totally B-movie inspired and bizarre, but they broke up last year. I totally want to do a crazy fun zombie movie with them somewhere down the line, so who knows. It’s something I’d love to try.
The music in the trailer is awesome. Licensed or friends?
Chad: Yes! The trailer music was done by “Apocalypse, CA’s” composer, Avi Ghosh – but not specifically for our trailer. Avi’s been playing in bands since before he was conceived – all awesome very NIN-ish stuff. He’s got an incredible group together right now in Austin called Art Versus Industry. I highly recommend anyone and everyone checking them out – Avi’s going to be a star.
“Apocalypse, California” is coming, 2011. Please visit http://www.apocalypseca.com or Facebook search “Apocalypse, CA” for more info!