Tag Archive: Terminator 2


T-1000 A

Enterbay, the Hong Kong-based toy company known for creating photo-real action figure likenesses of Bruce Lee and Al Pacino’s Scarface, has released photos of its next high-end articulated figure in its HD Masterpiece line. Fans of the Terminator franchise will be happy with the release of the best likeness to date of Robert Patrick’s T-1000 from Terminator 2. Of course, the craftsmanship comes at a price, since the figure will release at more than $400.

T-1000 B

Along with the great likeness of Robert Patrick, the next best feature is the box of accessories for posing the figure to match many of the T-1000’s key scenes if the film, including the creepy pointy metal finger and an alternate head with the liquid metal gunshot wound as delivered by Arnold Schwarzenegger’s T-800 in the psychiatric ward scene. The shirt is tailored with soft metallic nets inside for magnetic attachment of the liquefy damaged bullet holes. Very cool!

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Hannibal - Season 1

If only it wasn’t another incarnation of Hannibal Lecter.

In hindsight the Academy Awards sweep of Silence of the Lambs at the 1992 Oscar ceremony seems very strange.  A win for a horror movie about a cannibal that took best film, best director for Jonathan Demme, best actor for Anthony Hopkins as the villain Lecter, best actress for Jodie Foster, and best writing for Ted Tally’s adaptation of Thomas Harris’s novel–it was pretty much unheard of.  The actual antagonist in the film was far creepier than Hopkins’ Lecter, played by Ted Levine, who would go on to star as the far kinder cop in Monk.  The Hunt for Red October and Silverado star Scott Glenn also had a key role in the film as an FBI director.

One explanation for the Oscar wins was that the events were preceded by actual cannibalism in the news and as sometimes happens Oscar nods to movies reflecting life.  The other is that it was a pretty bad year for movies, with Lambs facing off against the underwhelming JFK, Bugsy, and The Prince of Tides (it beat one acclaimed film, the bigger box office draw for the year, the successful animated Disney film Beauty and the Beast).  It also beat out two of the best sci-fi films of all time: Terminator 2 and Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country.  Yet which of these are the only films that stand up to repeated viewings today?  Not Lambs or Tides or Bugsy or JFK, but the now classic genre films Terminator, Trek VI, and Beast.

Hannibal poster

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Review by C.J. Bunce

If you ever had an inkling to go to film school, if you are going to film school or if you teach film courses, Richard Rickitt’s Special Effects: The History and Technique should be required reading.  Not only is it a comprehensive work about the history and craft of special effects, it is a detailed account of the history and progress of film, and could serve as a college textbook to a master class in film technique.  And it is also a history of science and technology in its own right.

Rickitt’s Special Effects is a well-reviewed work, which is why it was purchased for me as a gift.  It is used as a college text in film schools and for good reason.  It has seen several printings since its first printing in Great Britain in 2006, including a reprint as recently as 2011, and it is as current as a nearly 400-page volume can be, including new effects technologies employed as recently as the Lord of the Rings films and X-Men 3.

Because of its price, Special Effects may not be for the casual movie enthusiast–but only because of price–as it can cost $40 for older editions and up to $230 for the most current edition.  Yet if you are really interested in behind-the-scenes cinema, it is probably worth saving for, and if you’re a college student, just slip it into your current semester’s $800 book purchase (at least that’s what I spent on each of my last few semesters for books and I can’t imagine prices have dropped–plus this book is actually a fun read you’ll hold on to).  It’s breadth is enormous, with both general and detailed coverage of landmark people and technologies from George Melies to Willis O’Brien and Ray Harryhausen to Industrial Light & Magic to Pixar and Weta.  Although it purports to cover merely Special Effects, in truth it covers the beginning of film and every technology that was created since, building upon each discovery and new invention to bring us to the complex CGI technologies of today.

This is far from a quick read, and will likely serve as a reference work or one you pull off the shelf from time to time when you need something exciting to read of the non-fiction variety.  I mentioned college text–Rickitt is a good teacher, clearly explaining in terms anyone can understand not just the “what” but the “why” and “how” of benchmarks in film with visuals and diagrams, including explanations of the role and use of technologies like the zoetrope, the parts and functions of the modern movie camera, the history and types of film recording materials, matte film, blue-screens, film printing, optical and digital compositing, the A to Z of film projection, post-production techniques like image interpolation, the use of mirrors, forced perspective and miniaturization, pyrotechnics, cloud tanks, models, motion-control photography, digital and procedural modelling, texture mapping, special effects animation, rotoscoping, 3D technologies, motion blur, digital skin, performance capture, particle systems, high dynamic range images, match moving, rendering, the A to Z of matte painting, props, make-up, prosthetics, animatronics, sculpting, inner mechanisms, performance systems, digital make-up, atmospheric effects, breakaway effects, sound recording, sound effects mixing, foleying, dialogue replacement, and the future of film technologies.

A diagram from Rickitt’s Special Effects: The History and Technique

The author uses hundreds of photographs and provides real-use examples from movies to explain techniques.  Detailed analysis is used for movie benchmarks Rickitt has identified, including The Abyss (1989), The Birds (1963), Aliens (1986), An American Werewolf in London (1981), Blade Runner (1982), Citizen Kane (1941), Close Encounters of the Third Kind (1977), Darby O’Gill and the Little People (1959), Destination Moon (1950), Earthquake (1974), The Exorcist (1973), Fantastic Voyage (1966), Forbidden Planet (1956), Forrest Gump (1994), Jason and the Argonauts (1963), Jurassic Park (1993), King Kong (1933), King Kong (2005), The Last Starfighter (1984), The Lord of the Rings trilogy (2001-2003), The Lost World (1925), The Matrix trilogy (1999-2003), Metropolis (1926), Mighty Joe Young (1949), 1941 (1979), Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981), all six Star Wars films (1977-2005), Terminator 2: Judgment Day (1991), The Thief of Baghdad (1940), Things to Come (1936), Titanic (1997), Toy Story (1995), Tron (1982), 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea (1954), 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968), The War of the Worlds (1953), Who Framed Roger Rabbit (1988), Willow (1988), and Young Sherlock Holmes (1985).

You’ll learn about ambient occlusion, beam splitters, cannon cars, color separation, depth of field, diffuse reflection, dissolves, dubbing, edge detection, emulsion, extrusion, fluid dynamics, go-motion, introvision, the Lydecker technique, morphing, NURBs, plates, ray tracing, squibs, time-lapse and time slice photography, wipes, zooms and zoptics.

An early edition of Rickitt’s book–note that earlier versions will not have the most up-to-date coverage of current technologies. The version shown at the top of this review is the most recent edition.

And along with the “what”  and “why” Rickitt profiles a “who’s who” of landmark film creators, including Georges Melies, Mack Sennett, D.W. Griffith, James Whale, Alfred Hitchcock, George Pal, Roger Corman, Irwin Allen, George Lucas, Steven Spielberg, James Cameron, Robert Zemeckis, Peter Jackson, Dennis Muren, John P. Fulton, Linwood Dunn, Richard Edlund, Dennis and Robert Skotak, Arnold Gillespie, Theodore and Howard Lydecker, Gordon Jennings, John Dykstra, Steve Gawley, Lorne Peterson, Willis O’Brien, Ray Harryhausen, Phil Tippett, John Lasseter, Norman O. Dawn, Albert Whitlock, Peter Ellenshaw, Lon Chaney, Jack Pierce, Stan Winston, Rick Baker, Ken Ralston, Cliff Richardson, Michael Lantieri, Jack Foley, Ben Burtt, Gary Rydstrom, and the Carboulds.

But you don’t need to look at Special Effects: The History and Technique as a dense book of facts.  Pick it up now and then and enjoy reading the book in 4-5 page stints and you’ll become an expert in film in no time, or just be amazed at how the magic of film works.

Special Effects: The History and Technique has a forward by Ray Harryhausen and an appendix, including a glossary of film terms and awards.

By Elizabeth C. Bunce

When I set about to pull together my Fantasy Casting Dream Team, I knew right away what it would look like: The characters I selected had to be drawn from various storytelling forms (film, TV, literature, etc). They had to stand the test of time–be true, perennial favorites (vs more recent character crushes).  And they had to be female.

That part was easy.  Actually picking the roster, however, took some deep thought.  It was far easier to say who wouldn’t make the list–no matter how much I may love, say, Charlie Crews (Life), Eliot Spencer (Leverage), or John Casey (Chuck), they were all missing one important trait (that second X chromosome).  Coming up with great female characters wasn’t a problem, either–it was narrowing down my choices (and worse, committing to them, as if I’m going to be quizzed on this later in life, possibly by St. Peter.  Ok, I guess that technically doesn’t happen in life… never mind.).  So.  How to choose among beloved characters from favorite childhood books (Anne Shirley or Mary Lennox? Sophie or Princess Aerin?  Sweet Hattie or dastardly Cruella de Vil?)?  Or narrow down iconic TV characters (I could name Buffy or Faith… but my actual favorite was Anya)?  Or plumb the depths of classical literature and the oral tradition to select among greats like Penelope or Guenevere?

Ultimately, though, with enough shaking, five I’m proud to commit to rose to the top.  There was a tiny glitch with my #1 spot; astute readers may notice that it missed my #1 requirement by rather a long margin.  But he really is so marvelous he makes up for it, and he was, after all, created by a woman (if you don’t know many Emmuskas yourself, the “Baroness” part probably gave that away).

So, like choosing sides for a playground game of kickball, from first pick to last, we have:

Sir Percy Blakeney, aka the Scarlet Pimpernel
The Scarlet Pimpernel by Baroness Emmuska Orczy

We seek him here, we seek him there/Those Frenchies seek him everywhere….

When asked to come up with my five favorite characters, the only one to come instantly to mind was Percy Blakeney/The Scarlet Pimpernel.  Genre fans already recognize the drama inherent in dual identities, and in the early days of the 20th century, Orczy gave us one of the best.  He is, without a doubt, my personal favorite superhero, and my favorite incarnation is the one pictured above, as played by Richard Grant in the 1990s A&E miniseries.  By day, he’s Sir Percy Blakeney, foppish and outrageous and shockingly clueless–a charming idiot obsessed with tying the perfect cravat.  By night, he risks everything to perform incredible acts of heroism as the Scarlet Pimpernel–rescuing beleaguered French aristocrats from the Reign of Terror.  Had she stopped there, Orczy’s hero would probably still have endured.  But she added depth to Sir Percy’s character in his troubled relationship with his wife, French-born Marguerite, who bears the guilt of having once unwittingly betrayed a privileged family to the revolutionaries.  Orczy showed us this story through Marguerite’s eyes, but Grant (and others before him, including the great Leslie Howard) gives us Percy’s side, and the pain of his love for her, tainted by her treachery, informs every one of their nuanced interactions.  He is a complex and layered character, deeply wounded yet no less driven, and able to sustain the most brilliant of aliases.  It takes a genius to play an idiot so convincingly, and so Sir Percy Blakeney, aka the Scarlet Pimpernel, swashbuckles his way to #1 among my all-time favorite characters.

Dona St. Columb
Frenchman’s Creek by Daphne Du Maurier

The great Daphne du Maurier left us a legacy of unforgettable characters: the sinister seductress Rebecca and her creepy handmaid Mrs. Danvers; the ruthless smugglers of Jamaica Inn; The Birds that stormed the Cornish coast and went on to terrorize Hitchcock’s Bodega Bay.  But among that august company, my personal favorite is Dona St. Columb, the heroine of du Maurier’s brilliant Restoration-era pirate romp, Frenchman’s Creek.  Dona is a bored aristocrat whose first act in the novel is to steal her husband’s best friend’s clothes and rob a stagecoach.  Purely for the novelty of it.  Bored to death by herself, her husband, and her shallow life at court in London, Dona takes her young children and flees to Navron, her family’s seaside estate in Cornwall.  There she discovers that the home is being used as the base for French pirates.  Lured by adventure and romance, Dona falls in with the pirates and in love with their captain, whom she always refers to as the Frenchman.  This is the setup for dozens, nay hundreds, of insipid romance novels since–but du Maurier’s great skill and talent elevate both the novel and its delightful heroine well above the average.  Dona is smart, funny, sly, impatient, gloriously larger than life, and soberly self-reflective.  Her journey of languid awakening and swashbuckling adventure is tempered by a self-awareness and maturity that copycat romances lack, and the bittersweet conclusion to her affair with the Frenchman adds a sophistication and respect to our enjoyment and understanding of her character.  But it’s through her bright, delightful voice and her witty observations of life around her that we get caught up in her tale.  I adored Dona from the first, and felt bereft when her story was complete.  And that is exactly the sort of character we all want to create.  (It is a good thing that Dona and Percy never met, for the world might well have imploded.)

The Terminatrix (Sarah Connor, Terminator 2)

Long before Kristanna Loken appropriated (appropriately) the name, fans of Linda Hamilton’s kickass performance in T2 had dubbed her The Terminatrix.  Sure, she’s not an evil cyborg killing machine, but she doesn’t let that stop her.  Evincing one of the most dramatic (if unseen) character arcs in film history, Sarah Connor goes from scared suburbanite to one-woman army, giving us a whole new breed of action hero: a female one.  We had Ripley before and Xena, et al, since, but the mold was forever reshaped around Hamilton’s chiseled biceps and steely glare.  When an aging Ahnold is not sufficient to stop a next-generation Terminator, who can we turn to but… a really pissed-off mom?  Sounds about right.

Scheherazade
The Thousand and One Nights

Her tales have been captivating us for nearly a thousand years, and it was her amazing imagination that gave us Aladdin, Ali Baba and the Forty Thieves, and Sinbad.  But it is Shahrazad’s own story of selfless and unusually daring heroism that makes her one of the best characters of world literature.  When ruthless sultan Shahriyar is betrayed by his wife (and his brother, it ought to be noted), he exacts a terrible, mad revenge: each night he marries a virgin, then slays her in the morning, so he can never again be wounded the same way.  For over three years this horror continues, unstopped by all the men of the kingdom–until the vizier’s young daughter steps forward and volunteers.  Shahrazad alone has the courage and conviction to end this mindless slaying of women–and a plan that is both audacious and baffling.  She’ll do it with bedtime stories.  Shahrazad is a natural storyteller who understands better than anyone the power of the cliffhanger–and the redemptive power of story.  Each night she spins her husband a new tale–but refuses to reveal the ending until tomorrow.  Thus is she spared her predecessors’ fate.  But more than that, Shahrazad’s tales are full of moral lessons and the wisdom and virtue of women, and gradually her stories cure Shahriyar of his madness.  For her courage to stand up where no one–no man–would, and declare the slaying of women unacceptable; for her brazen plan to stop a mass murderer in his tracks with nothing but half a fairy tale; and for her enduring legacy of literary skill and feminism, Shahrazad easily earns a spot on my roster.

Veronica Mars
Veronica Mars

I can say with total honesty that Veronica Mars (Kristen Bell) was the heroine I’d been waiting for all my life.  She came about 15 years late for me, but the smart, sassy teen (girl) PI was exactly the kind of character I craved as a kid.  She appeared on the scene in 2004, in the genre gap left behind by Buffy, but Kristen Bell did far more than just fill big sister’s shoes.  Veronica Mars not only gave us a YA heroine for the digital age, but created an entirely new genre: teen noir.  Daughter of the town’s disgraced former sheriff-turned-private investigator, the once-popular party girl now earns extra income by spying on her fellow students at Neptune High, in a community sharply divided along class lines.  Recovering stolen homework and restoring tarnished reputations is only her day job, however, for Veronica’s hardboiled exterior conceals a wounded past, and her driving passion is solving the murder of her best friend Lily.  It’s a brilliant genre mashup that gave rise to one of the very best YA heroines ever put on-screen.  Complex, smart, independent, and vulnerable–with a kickass cool job–characters don’t come much better than Veronica Mars.

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