Apocalypto Trailer Subliminal

OK, check out this trailer for Apocalypto.

Now, watch it again. Pause and go frame by frame (arrow keys) right after the guy gets caught in the net. You will see something weird. (If you get to the screaming monkey you’ve gone too far.)

ps: I’m not planning on seeing Apocalypto, but part of me is wondering if this is some kooky marketing scheme to get people to watch the trailer.

November 26, 2006 | Posted in: Movies | Comments Closed

Boooo, hissss!

First Red Eye, then Flight Plan – seems like planes are the new “hot” setting for movies. From the director of Homeward Bound II: Lost in San Francisco – Samuel Jackson is starring in the very aptly-named Snakes on a Plane.

On board a flight over the Pacific Ocean, an assassin, bent on killing a passenger who’s a witness in protective custody, let loose a crate full of deadly snakes.

Well, uh… at least it’s not a remake or a big-screen version of a sitcom.

October 14, 2005 | Posted in: Movies | Comments Closed

Serenity, wow!

SerenityI’m a relative newcomer to the Firefly universe. Well, I did watch it when it was first on TV, but (since the network somehow decided to show the third episode first) I didn’t really get it and I (and millions of others) never watched it again.

I’m not a Buffy fan, and I’ve never watched Angel, but after many different people (with different tastes in sci-fi) recommended it to me, I figured I would give it a try. For the past few months, a bunch of us have been watching an episode or two a week, building up to the release of Serenity.

After the first episode, I was hooked. The stories are good, but not great. The universe (sorry, the ‘verse) and characters are so interesting though, it makes up for any narrative shortcomings. The kooky space-chinese-post-civil-war future is fascinating. The dialog is excellent, and the chemistry among the cast really works.

We finished watching the episodes just in time, and on Saturday we got to see Serenity on the big screen. Wow! The money the studio put into this movie really shows. The props, costumes, and CGI all look great. The story really shines too, and clears up some of the loose ends that were left hanging at the end of the show.

My only complaint would be that you didn’t get to see the crew hanging around doing some of the fun downtime stuff you would see in the show. I guess that’s just the nature of making a film instead of a TV series, where you would be able to play things out over time.

Oh wait, I do have one more complaint – but I don’t want to spoil the movie. If you’ve seen it, you know what I’m talking about here. Let’s just say that something really sad happens, and it hit me surprisingly hard. I know it was necessary for the story, so it’s not really a complaint, but… damn.

Mal and Jayne aim to misbehaveI think the movie is self-contained enough that a non-fan would be able to follow along (although of course a fan would get much more out of it). So if you’re a fan, you’ve probably already seen it. If not, go! If you’re not a fan (yet), go see it, or better yet watch Firefly on DVD and then go see it!

October 7, 2005 | Posted in: Movies | Comments Closed

Vanishing Point

I’ve been wanting to watch Vanishing Point ever since I saw it listed as an inspiration for Activision’s Interstate ’76, waaay back in ’97. I finally got around to watching it this week, and I’m still sorting out my feelings about it.

(I’m going to spoil the movie now, so if you don’t want to know what happens, stop reading!)

Vanishing Point (1971) is about Kowalski, a loner working as a car deliveryman. At the beginning of the movie he bets his friend/drug dealer that he can get a car to San Francisco in record time. Then Kowalski drives, and drives, and drives. Along the way, he meets lots of weird characters who want to help, stop, rob, or have sex with him. There’s also a (semi-telepathic?) blind DJ who tries to guide him to safety.

Despite the movie poster’s claims (“THE ULTIMATE CAR CHASE MOVIE!”) there’s not that many car chases, and they’re not that exciting. We’re definitely not talking Bullitt here. Mostly, Kowalski drives across the desert really fast.

Kowalski is something of a cipher. We get some glimpses character through some short flashbacks. His girlfriend drowned in a surfing accident. He’s an ex-cop, -soldier, -racer. But we never see the sequence of these events, and how they all tie together.

I won’t say the movie was boring. It was certainly slow-paced and even monotonous at points (“Oh. Another long shot of the car driving across the desert.”) but I think that was intentional. Kowalski’s last-reel suicide is telegraphed from the beginning of the movie (we see everything but the impact at the start).

In the end, Vanishing Point is pretty much a mood piece – you feel sorry for Kowalski but you can’t really empathize with him because you can’t get close enough to him. Still, I’m glad I finally saw it and would recommend seeing it at least once.

I haven’t seen the 1997 remake starring Viggo Mortensen, but I have heard it is awful.

Final note: I realized too late that I had returned the DVD to Netflix without watching the UK cut, which apparently restores some cut scenes. D’oh!

September 30, 2005 | Posted in: Movies | Comments Closed

Star Wreck Interview

I was so impressed by what the Star Wreck team had pulled off, I contacted the director, Timo Vuorensola to hear more.

Grumpy Robot: How many people are in the cast? In the crew? On the effects team?

Timo Vuorensola: The movie is made by mainly 5 guys, but the entire crew consists of about 300 individuals. The effects are done by the producer Samuli Torssonen, who’s also playing the main role of emperor Pirk. There are also about 10-15 modellers around the world who have contributed their models to Star Wreck.

GR: How did you find the people to work on the movie? Are you all friends, or did you advertise somewhere
looking for cast and crew?

Timo: The main crew is basically gathered from friends and friends of friends, but there are also people who we’ve contacted and asked to work with us. Also, lot of people – actors and crewmembers – we’ve got from over the internet, by asking via our message board from our fans.

GR: What equipment are you using to shoot?

Timo: Mainly we’ve shot with various types of DV-cams and mini-dv’s.

GR: What software do you use for your CGI? And for bluescreen?

Timo: The CGI is made with Lightwave 3d, and bluescreen composition software is Adobe After Effects.

GR: What software are you using to edit the film?

Timo: We’ve done the edit with couple of different softwares.

GR: Have you had any legal problems come up?

Timo: No. Star Wreck is a parody, and it gives us a lot of freedom. Also, the main release is done for free over the internet, so we are not working for monetary profit with this film. We see Star Wreck: ITP mainly as a ‘business card’ which we can present and show people that we are able to do this stuff with no financing – imagine what we can do when we can get some money to work with also.

GR: Is the DVD available for shipping to the United States?

Timo: I’m sorry, we are not able to ship the movie to United States because of the legal issues – there, the laws are a bit different from Europe, but the download is available for U.S. citizens from 1.10. from our website as well.

GR: Are you glad to be finished with the film, or will you miss working on it?

Timo: I think we all are very happy with the movie, and we’ve received so much of positive feedback, that we can’t be anything but happy. Of course there are things for each one of us we’d personally like to fix or change, but we all agree with the main lines. I can’t say I miss working with Wreck, but I miss working with an actual movie, there is a big empty hole to fill right now – and we’ve started to fill it. Of course there’s a lot of stuff going on with the release, we did a small tour in finland with the movie and it went through unbelieveably well. But yes, I miss a movie to work on right now, but we’ve been gathering ideas and start to work on a new one pretty soon, that’s for sure! And this time, it’s gonna be as big leap as there was between star wreck 5 and the new star wreck: in the pirkinning

GR: What will your next project be?

Timo: If I knew, I’d tell, but I can’t because there hasn’t been anything we’ve decided ultimately yet. We’ve been toying around with ideas for a scifi series for TV and internet, but also on a new movie. Most likely we’ll stick to sci fi, and there will be some humour involved, that’s for sure – maybe we’ll go a bit darker, even, who knows.

GR: Thanks a lot for your time!

Timo: No problem.

European fans can order the DVD now from the Star Wreck site. Elsewhere, visit the Star Wreck site to download the complete movie.

Finnish Sci-Fi at Its Finest

For six years, a group of Finnish filmmakers have been working on an independent sci-fi parody film. In that time it has grown from a 15-minute “special-effects clip” to a full length film: Star Wrek: In the Pirkinning.

Star Wreck: In the Pirkinning begins with Captain James B. Pirk of the starship Kickstart shipwrecked on the 21st century Earth with his crew. Originally from the distant future, Pirk and his crew travelled back in time to save the Earth from hostile aliens, but lost their ship and became stranded. Things are not looking good for our heroes. Pirk’s daily routine consists mainly of stuffing his face at the local fast food restaurant, and he is finding it difficult to convince the ladies he is, in fact, an intergalactic space hero from the future.

As the prospects for humanity’s conquest of space look increasingly bleaker, Pirk comes up with a questionable plan to save mankind’s future…

The title and premise are goofy, but if the trailer is indicative of the quality of the finished film, we are in for a treat! The special effects, props, and set design are all far above the average “fan film”.

If you’ve ever wondered how Starfleet ships would fare against Earth Force and Mimbari ships, it looks like you will find out in October when the movie becomes available for download from the site.