Jack Reacher

jackreacherOn Friday evening, I had the pleasure of taking in the new Tom Cruise feature film Jack Reacher.  I was completely blown away by how enjoyable this film was.  From the brutal action, to the humour, to one of the best car chase scenes I have ever scene on film, Jack Reacher was above and beyond anything I was expecting.

We all knew that Tom Cruise had the ability to carry an action movie with the Mission: Impossible franchise, but the Jack Reacher character is such a different character from Ethan Hunt that I wondered if Cruise would be able to pull off a ‘vigilante’ style character.  Not only did he pull it off, he managed to portray Jack Reacher as one of my favourite characters of 2012.

The car chase scene in this movie completely blew me away as well, and come to find out, Cruise did almost all of the driving stunts himself, increasing the awesomeness of the scene.

Jack Reacher was a hard-hitting, funny movie which proves that action movies that don’t rely on overboard stunts or fake-looking explosions can still be great movies that are enjoyable to watch.

I would highly recommend Jack Reacher to anyone that is a fan of the Mission: Impossible or Die Hard franchises, or to anyone else that is a fan of Tom Cruise movies.  In the end, I would say that Jack Reacher is one of my favourite movies of 2012.

For all this and more, feel free to follow me on Twitter at @kymayer.  Cheers.

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Monsters, Inc. 3D

monstersincOn the weekend just before Christmas I took in the 3D re-release of Monsters, Inc. and as is always the case with Pixar releases the 3D in Monsters, Inc. was phenomenal.  If I was to list my five favourite animated movies of all-time, Monsters, Inc. would definitely be on that list, and to get the chance to see it on the big screen again was completely worth it.

Even after all these years, I still find Monsters, Inc. to be a completely hilarious movie, and I had actually forgotten the scenes during the credits showing the “play” that Mike and Sully put on.  Too funny indeed.

I really do believe that the Pixar movies, just with how they were filmed to begin with, lend themselves so well to 3D up-conversion, much more so than any other animated movies that I have also seen in 3D re-release.

That being said, the true enjoyment for me in watching Monsters, Inc. again in the theatre was in the sheer hilarity of the movie.  It has probably moved into the #1 spot for Pixar movies for me this year, and the chance to see it on the big screen was great, especially with a prequel, Monsters University, coming out next summer.

For all this and more, feel free to follow me on Twitter at @kymayer.  Cheers.

The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey

thehobbit

*********IMAX HFR 3D Viewing Update*********

Last evening I had the pleasure of experiencing my first IMAX viewing of a movie ever when I went to the new theatre 45 minutes away to take in The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey in IMAX HFR 3D.  Many have said that seeing An Unexpected Journey in HFR or 48fps highlights the abundance of CGI in this film.

First things first. The IMAX 3D glasses are big, bulky and completely uncomfortable.  It has been a long time since I have had any issues watching a 3D movie with glasses on, but last night was one of those nights.  I had to remove and reposition the glasses numerous times and had I not have already seen the movie before, it would have been quite the nuisance.

As for how the movie looked, I will say this, I have never seen such a beautiful looking film on such a large screen in my entire life.  Now, that is not to say that there were not any issues with it.

At times, the movie looked, for lack of a better description, like watching a movie in fast forward in slow motion.  It really is hard to explain that any better, and that is due solely to the fact that after 33 years of watching movies filmed in 24 fps that my eyes and brain are conditioned to movies looking a certain way, and that finally seeing a film in 48fps that it looked odd at times.

It is a very similar thing to when I first saw flat panel TV’s that were running at 120Hz or 240Hz.  The mind’s eye was used to 60Hz TV’s and watching Blu-ray’s on these newer TV’s looked almost fake and fabricated, and this is the same issue that appears to be coming up with 48fps versus 24fps.

That being said, as more and more movies are shot using 48fps this issue will go away.  It is a new technology, and this was the first film shot using it.  I don’t feel it is anywhere near as bad as others said it was, but I do understand how it was jarring at times.

*********2D Second Viewing Update*********

So, I went to see ‘An Unexpected Journey’ for a second time last evening, taking advantage of cheep night once again, and seeing the movie in 2D.  Having now seen ‘An Unexpected Journey’ in both 3D and 2D now, and both in standard 24 fps, I am now 100% sure that the only way anyone can possibly complain about the visuals in this film is if they have seen it in 48 fps and found it to look fake.

And I understand how that can be possible.  ‘An Unexpected Journey’ is one of, if not the first, films to utilize 48 fps, and because of that, and years and years of conditioning to how 24 fps movies look, anything new can be jarring to the eye.  It is quite similar to the first 120 and 240Hz flat panel TV’s when they first came out.  When I first saw them, they seemed jarring to me as I was not used to the higher quality of picture they were providing, and that is the issue I feel we have with 48 fps and ‘An Unexpected Journey’.

I would also like to say that the scenes that I mentioned I found blurry in the 3D version of the film I also found blurry in the 2D version, so I am not sure if that was caused by slight out-of-focus or just quick panning with the cameras as a whole.

What I can say is just how much I do love this movie, how enjoyable it was even on the second viewing, and how with a second viewing I think that I can tell all 13 dwarves apart now.

I am going to see the film a third time this coming weekend when I head out-of-town to see it in the new IMAX theatre that opened 45 minutes from me.  I am quite excited for that.

*********Original Article*********

Wow.  In a single word, that explains just how blown away I was by The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey.  The return to Middle Earth was everything that I was hoping for and more.  Be it the word-for-word scenes directly from the book, to the inclusion of scenes that were only hinted at in the Appendices of The Lord of the Rings, all the way to the briefest of glimpses of the wyrm, Smaug, I loved every moment of this film.

What ‘An Unexpected Journey’ also did is point out just how well I know the source material, despite having not read The Hobbit in almost two years.  The ability to go word-for-word with scenes in the film, and the ability to know the answers to all of the riddles from Riddles in the Dark surprised me.

I will say that, even though the movie was filmed in 3D, there were still a couple of scenes where the 3D was lacking, and I found those to once again be the wide-scope, panning shots that have plagued most movies in 3D.  This is not a fault of this film in particular, but a fault that I have found in almost every movie I have seen in 3D.

That being said, the scope of how they filmed this was astonishing.  From our first looks at the city of Dale and halls of Erebor, to our returns to Hobbiton and Rivendell were all done in such grandeur as to take my breath away.  Everything that worked well in the Lord of the Rings trilogy with regards to scenery was once again present in ‘An Unexpected Journey’.

Someone asked me if this was what I was expecting, and I replied “yes and no”.  Yes, because I knew it would be visually stunning and full of beautiful scenery.  No, because I was not expecting scenes to be filmed almost identical to how I have always imagined them in my head since I first read the book when I was in grade school.

I saw ‘An Unexpected Journey’ in standard 24 fps 3D, and as I mentioned, aside of a couple of pan shots, I had no issues with how this movie looked.  I have heard some issues about the visuals not looking good from other people, and I would have to say that this sounds more like an issue with people not being used to the 48fps that the movie was filmed in.

I know for a fact that I am seeing the movie at least twice more, both in the coming seven days, as I will be taking in a 2D showing tomorrow evening on my local cheap night, and I am also taking it in this coming Sunday in the new IMAX theatre that opened up 45 minutes east of me.  Neither of these showings will be in 48fps though, so I won’t be able to get a good comparison on this issue.

In the end, The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey was much more than I ever expected and Peter Jackson has done a masterful job of recreating Middle Earth for all of us Tolkien fans.  The only issue I have is the fact that we have to wait a full year for The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug to hit theatres.

For all this and more, feel free to follow me on Twitter at @kymayer.  Cheers.

The Hobbit – Why It Will Be Awesome

hobbitIn less than two weeks time, fans of The Lord of the Rings will be able to once again return to Middle Earth as the first of The Hobbit trilogy hits theatres around the world.  Today, I’m going to outline just why The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey will be an awesome movie, and quite possibly be even better than our first visits to Middle Earth a decade ago.

After many false starts, studio financing issues, director changes, many wondered if we would ever see The Hobbit actually get filmed, and just how close in likeness it would be to The Lord of the Rings.

Eventually, all of those issues fell in line and once again Peter Jackson, director of The Lord of the Rings trilogy, took over the director’s chair for what eventually became The Hobbit trilogy.  Assisting Jackson as second unit director is Andy Serkis, Gollum himself, giving a seasoned Middle Earth hand to the productions as well.

Despite almost a full decade between ending filming for The Lord of the Rings and starting to film The Hobbit, all the actors or actresses who played characters who are present in both source materials are back, such as Sir Ian McKellen as Gandalf and Hugo Weaving as Elrond, with the one notable exception being the role of Bilbo Baggins, the main protagonist of The Hobbit.

In order to bring necessary youthfulness to the role, as the event of The Hobbit take place a full 60 years earlier than The Lord of the Rings, Martin Freeman was cast as Bilbo Baggins, to replace Sir Ian Holm who played the role in the first visit to Middle Earth.  That being said, Holm will be returning to the role as it is believed that The Hobbit will be a story that Bilbo is telling to his young nephew and heir, Frodo Baggins, to kick off the movie.

While filming The Hobbit, which was originally setup to be a two-part experience but has since transformed into a trilogy of its own, Peter Jackson made some interesting decisions about how he would actually film everything.  As a result of this, Jackson is pushing the boundaries of what many thought to be conventional film making.

They bought 49 RED 3D cameras, the first cameras of their kind, to film The Hobbit.  They also shot it 48 frames per second, which is twice the industry norm of 24 fps.  While the human eye can see in approximately 60 fps, 100 years of movies being filmed in 24 fps has caused the human body to get used to that format, so there will be plenty of pushback about 48 fps.

That being said, very few screens in North America are even setup to do 48fps that this should not be a real issue.  For the majority of movie goers on our continent, and for that matter, most movie goers worldwide, they will see The Hobbit in either 2D or 3D on a 24fps screen.

Some early reviews have mentioned that there appears to be an overuse of CGI, especially when compared to The Lord of the Rings, but with the advancements in technology in the last ten years, that had to be expected.

I have no fear that The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey is going to be just as awesome as any of the three Lord of the Rings movies, and if anything, I expect it to actually be more light-hearted, as we all have to remember that The Hobbit was written by J.R.R. Tolkien as a child’s book and was later amended to be the start of the greater Middle Earth world.

I can not wait to see these three movies, An Unexpected Journey, Smaug’s Desolation and There and Back Again, and I will visit this world many, many times indeed.

For all this and more, feel free to follow me on Twitter at @kymayer.  Cheers.

Red Dawn (2012)

reddawnTuesday evening, on another cheap night at the theatre, I took in the Red Dawn, a remake of a cult classic from 1984.  Now, this was definitely not my first choice as I would have much preferred to have taken in Steven Spielberg’s new movie, Lincoln.  Alas, my local theatre has for some reason decided not to bring Lincoln to our city for one reason or another, so Red Dawn was the lesser of the evils out of the options remaining.

It has been a long time since I have seen the original, so I don’t remember all the much about it anymore, so I was essentially going into the movie fresh, and I think because of that I was actually able to enjoy it a little more than maybe some others that are seeing it and remember the original fondly.

I will say that Chris Hemsworth is well on his way to becoming one of the big action stars of his generation.  With his roles as Thor in the Marvel Studios films, as the Huntsman in Snow  White and the Huntsman and now this role in Red Dawn, he has definitely shown his ability to work an action movie.

As a whole, Red Dawn, for a movie that was stuck in limbo after MGM had their bankruptcy scare and then had some edits done to change the invading army from Chinese to North Korean, comes off as an above average action film.  While no means in the same league as a big budget summer blockbuster, it does have enough heart to still come across as a worthwhile effort.

If you are looking for a quick, under two hour action movie at this time of year, then I would say Red Dawn is perfect for you.  If you are looking for Oscar worthy fare, Red Dawn will not be up your alley.

For all this and more, feel free to follow me on Twitter at @kymayer.  Cheers.