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Tag Archive: 3D movies


Review by C.J. Bunce

This weekend sci-fi and fantasy fans finally get to see French director Luc Besson’s singular vision decades in the planning as Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets arrives in theaters.  An adaptation of the fifty-year-old, popular, French comic book series Valerian and Laureline, the film delivers in a magnificent, grandiose way only Besson could deliver.  As with his sci-fi classic The Fifth Element, Besson–who also directed Lucy, The Professional, and La Femme Nikita–has added another genre-defining film to the list of must-see sci-fi movies.  If there’s any criticism due, it may be that the film in places is too much like The Fifth Element, but where Valerian falls short, it makes up for it with wall to wall action and alien creations that look nothing like anything Hollywood has ever produced.  It’s rounded out with spectacular production design by Hugues Tissandier (Lucy, Taken, The Transporter) and a riveting score by composer Alexandre Desplat (The Golden Compass, Argo, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows).

  • Best use of 3D cinematography in a movie to date?  Check.
  • Best visual depiction of strange new worlds and new alien life in a film to date?  Check.
  • Best hold-onto-your-seats spaceship rides through these strange new places?  Check.

Credit Besson, WETA Digital, Industrial Light and Magic, and hundreds of other visual effects, special effects, make-up, costume and prop creators–Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets looks like nothing you’ve seen.  Combine 2001: A Space Odyssey, Blade Runner, and The Fifth Element, and you’ll have an idea of Besson’s big screen epic filled with all sorts of wonderful images.

Valerian is a snapshot of a day in progress in the life of two cocky space pilots.  The leads are two attractive, snarky and sassy, young and very modern, would-be lovers in a typical “will they or won’t they” set up–Valerian, played by Dane DeHaan (The Amazing Spider-man 2, True Blood), and Laureline, played by model-turned-actress Cara Delevingne (Suicide Squad, Anna Karenina).  Besson peppers the landscape of the big action sequences with the bare threads of their relationship, showing us if their relationship has room to be anything else beyond mere partners.  Beyond their through-line is a race to uncover the mystery behind an Avatar-inspired race of willowy peacelovers ravaged by war.  How are they related to a vision seen by Valerian, and are these peaceful people really the good guys or the bad guys?  But most of the time Valerian and the City of Thousand Planets is a non-stop rollercoaster ride as the leads assemble clues and rescue each other a time or two, as they try also to rescue a missing commander and uncover the mystery behind two unusual items in their possession: a rare magical pearl and a wide-eyed, pint-sized creature with extraordinary abilities.

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Terminator 2 in 3D poster

If you’re not familiar with 3D movie releases and 3D Blu-rays, one thing to be aware of is that some films are produced originally with 3D technology and others are not, but still can be “upconverted” in various ways to a form of 3D viewing.  Some movie watchers dismiss the entire notion of 3D, others live for it.  When done right, a film can be produced and displayed brilliantly in 3D.  A film can also have a successful upconversion.  One of the best we’ve seen so far is the upconversion of Predator, reviewed previously here at borg.com Predator 3D was directed by John McTiernan, the brilliant director of films like Die Hard and The Hunt for Red October, back in 1987, long before the new renaissance of 21st century 3D entertainment.

Lucky for us, McTiernan had an eye for texture and layering, and filmed most of Predator in a jungle setting, one of the best locales to demonstrate the most effective imagery of 3D technology.  So despite the original film not being shot in 3D, the Blu-ray release of the upconversion is like a different film.  The result is a stunningly layered experience that, when watched on quality 3D home entertainment equipment, is as completely immersive as technology allows.

Robert Patrick T2

This week we learned that Terminator 2 is finally being upconverted for a 2017 release in 3D.  Along with his movie Aliens, Terminator 2 is at the top of James Cameron’s best work, so it stands to reason that it is a superb candidate for the 3D treatment.  To cement the project, Paramount released a new poster (above) for the 3D release, via the T2 Facebook page.

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Bwana Devil A poster

The choice of subject matter for the first 3D was a good pick– the gruesome, real-life attacks on workers in Tsavo, Kenya from March through December of 1898 by a pair of lions.  The story that inspired director Arch Oboler’s 1952 adventure Bwana Devil would later be adapted as the 1996 film The Ghost and the Darkness starring Michael Douglas and Val Kilmer (as well as a lesser direct-to-video movie, Prey, in 2007).  Bwana Devil is now available via streaming on Amazon Prime.  It’s not shown in its original 3D format, but as we have suggested before here at borg.com, watching it via 3D glasses and an up-converted 3D television system will get you close to the original 3D presentation.

Robert Stack plays Bob Hayward, an ineffective chief engineer and leader of local tribes building a railway.  Stack’s performance reveals a frenzied and crazed character who makes nothing but bad decisions over the course of the story.  Nigel Bruce, in one of his final film roles, plays Dr. Angus MacLean, Hayward’s jovial friend and confidante.  All that can go wrong does.  Hayward isn’t up for the task of completing a railway across East Africa between Kenya and Uganda even before lions begin plucking off workers one by one.  His stupidity gets innocents killed from almost the opening scene to the last, from a cook he drags along from another town to a very young African child.

Bwana Devil how it works 3D

Bwana Devil has the feel of a live-action Jonny Quest, and it’s fun to see all these Teddy Roosevelt Hunter types doing their thing.  But it is also a cringeworthy look at British imperialism and the dominance of the local peoples that comes with it.  The Ghost and the Darkness handles these themes better.

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Friday the 13th part 3 3D

The defining film of the 1980s attempt to reignite the 3D medium, the 1982 sequel Friday the 13th, Part 3, represents both the best and the worst in the 3D genre.  It’s a film completely unapologetic about its three-ring circus of 3D gimmicks, yet in providing a hundred ways to throw something at the audience it stands by itself for trying things no other movie has tried.  Want to see an eyeball pop out of someone’s head and come right at you?  This is your movie.  If that doesn’t sound all that appealing, never fear, this is 1980s horror, so there is more to laugh at than truly be grossed out.

But let’s talk about the current options first.  You can watch Friday the 13th, Part 3 a few different ways.  As part of its October Halloween schedule (previewed at borg.com here) AMC is featuring a few showings of the Friday the 13th movie series October 20-22, 2014, including showings of Part 3.  You can also pick up a DVD Deluxe Edition version here or updated Blu-ray with features here from Amazon.com.  It’s not available on streaming but is a rental option from Netflix.  Certain versions, like the Deluxe Edition, come with a blue-red 3D glasses and the standard 2D version.  For this review we chose the standard version with the 3D TV upconvert option with Extreme 3D.

Friday the 13th Part 3 film poster

For some perspective, the film came out in the year of classic hits like E.T., the Extra-Terrestrial, Tron, Poltergeist, The Dark Crystal, Blade Runner, The Thing, Fast Times at Ridgemont High, and Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan.  Friday the 13th, Part 3 begins with a complete recap of the climax of the prior sequel.  The disfigured Jason Voorhees, who we actually get to see in this film, returns to Crystal Lake, to torment young camp counselor Chris Higgins (Dana Kimmell), one of his targets who slipped away years ago.

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Ian McShane Teach Pirates Blackbeard

Review by C.J. Bunce

When Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales hits theaters in 2017, the tenth largest money making movie franchise will give fans its fourth sequel.  Usually the fifth film in a franchise is so far from the spirit of the original that it fails miserably.  But the last Pirates entry, Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides, was such a visually stunning production with–more importantly–an interesting story that it could be the Johnny Depp-led franchise may just be hitting its stride.  The first of the films released on Blu-ray 3D is a showcase for the home viewing technology, and is worth another look, especially if you only saw it in the theater on 3D or just the DVD version.

Still derived on the amusement park ride and the adventures of Captain Jack Sparrow, the role that earned Johnny Depp one of his best actor Academy Award nominations, On Stranger Tides kicks up the film’s action compared to the prior two films, Dead Man’s Chest and At World’s End.  In part because director Jerry Bruckheimer branched out and borrowed the film’s story from an award-winning novel by Tim Powers (1987’s On Stranger Tides), this new film is simply better all around.  Except for some scenes that could stand to be edited down, On Stranger Tides is nearly as good as the original Pirates of the Caribbean, The Curse of the Black Pearl. 

pirates-of-the-caribbean-on-stranger-tides

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creature from black lagoon poster

Review by C.J. Bunce

Who is my favorite Universal Studios classic movie monster?  I have always answered The Creature from the Black Lagoon.  I first watched the web-footed and web-handed fellow with gills in 3D on local network television on one Friday night many years ago.  I am not sure cable TV was yet making its headway across the country, but the “creature feature” was something marketed for a few weeks over the summer.  The local CBS affiliate, if I recall correctly, teamed up with the local Hy-Vee grocery store to hand out those cardboard and vellum 3D glasses.  I knew early on that The Creature was the first and only one of the classic monsters filmed and shown in theaters in 3D back in 1954.  My trusty World Almanac told me it wasn’t the first 3D film released–that went to the African lion film Bwana Devil in 1952.

As part of my current quest to sample the best of 3D movies on Blu-ray, finding The Creature from the Black Lagoon on the very short list of released 3D films was a big win.  Back in 1997 in Seattle where basic DVDs were first released in a major U.S. market, I remember digging through a short box at the big Suncoast store but feeling similarly dismayed, until I noticed A Boy and His Dog among the early conversions to digital video.  The Creature is a great starting point for modern 3D, giving the current technology some historical context.

Creature in 3D

Thanks in large part to make-up guru Bud Westport’s incredible creature suit and mask, the film holds up as well as any modern classic.  In fact, viewing The Creature back to back with Predator 3D (reviewed here earlier this month), it’s surprising how similar the films are.  Take away the sci-fi intro to Predator and you have a jungle adventure with another otherworldly creature.  As with Predator 3D, the multi-layered jungle comes alive in The Creature, and the careful placement of actors onscreen gives a crystal clear dimensional image that doesn’t waver.  Better yet, you have to look hard to see The Creature’s air bubbles–mostly he swims for seemingly long stints underwater with no apparent breathing going on.  And let’s not forget both of these films are part of the horror genre–each character gets picked off one by one by the monster until only a few are left for a final life-or-death showdown.

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