April 30, 2011
I picked up ‘The Prestige’ on Blu-Ray by the great Christopher Nolan in the same offer at HMV that I got ‘An American Werewolf In London’. I’d seen it before but a second viewing was even better for reasons that I shall reveal. Like his recent cerebral blockbuster ‘Inception’ (Such is Nolan’s genius that it’s probably the only film ever released where the words cerebral and blockbuster are both applicable) ‘The Prestige’ is an intricately convoluted puzzle within a locked box in a meandering maze (And that’s its charm). The cast is excellent with Hugh Jackman and Christian Bale as the leads with Michael Caine, Scarlett Johanssen and even David Bowie in the supporting roles.
It’s a film about the bitter and often wantonly sadistic rivalry between two master Illusionists in Victorian London. The clever Nolan angle is that he deliberately constructs the film’s narrative as a magical illusion in itself. Showing you several things you take for face value, tricking you with Miss-direction, employing non-linear storytelling and finally good old grease paint and mirrors so the big reveal is astoundingly clever at the end. So of course my second viewing was about observing the little ways in which Nolan deceives you as a viewer while simultaneously putting all the facts there for you to solve the puzzle… if only you’ve got a Sherlock Holmes level intellect.
April 30, 2011
John Landis’ 80’s classic ‘An American Werewolf In London’ was on offer at HMV so I couldn’t resist. I haven’t seen it since it was shown late night once on Channel 4 when I was about 16, and I’d forgotten quite how brilliant it was. It’s one of those films that imprints certain scenes indelibly in your brain. Such as when Jenny agutter is suddenly brutally knifed by a mutant-apealoid-zombie-nazi-stormtrooper from hell (I clearly remember jumping a clear 30ft in the air at that point). Sadly these shock tactics naturally don’t work when viewed a second time but you don’t need scares when a Horror flick has this much slyly observed humour.
The razor-sharp comedic observations of British culture could only have been made by an American genius like Landis. These moments are cleary based on Landis’ own bemused and frustrated experiences of living and working here while making the film. Such as when the British Union Equity insisted that the whole cast and crew should be exclusively British, despite the title of the film! After Landis threatened to rename the film ‘An American Werewolf In Paris’, they relented (That title would eventually go to a supposedly dreadful 90s sequel). The Oscar-winning special effects by Rick Baker genuinely still look astounding today. The word chemistry cannot do justice to the sizzling romance between Agutter’s sexy English nurse and David Noughton’s wise cracking and charming American backpacker.
The hi-def transfer is lovely and sharp and the disc is groaning under a weight of extra content. This includes a commentary, all the usual bits and bobs and best of all, a feature-length documentary about the film itself.
I can here the children of the night calling, it’s so good I might just go and watch it all over again.
April 27, 2011
I just gave in to temptation and purchased the new Tron boxset. I was really buying this for the chance to see the groundbreaking 1982 classic in stunningly restored high-definition but getting the new ‘Tron: Legacy’ film is a nice bonus. One of the reasons I love ‘Tron’ is that it features my own personal God, Bruce Boxleitner aka CAPTAIN JOHN SHERIDAN!!! from the great Scf-Fi series Babylon 5 (I honestly cried when John died, he meant that much to me). Here’s a clip from the powerful episode ‘Intersections In Real Time’ that explored the true horror of psychological torture:
I’m getting a bit off topic (But seriously I got goose bumps when I first heard Bruce’s voice in the ‘Tron: Legacy’ Trailer!). The transfer of ‘Tron’ is truly stunning, this film has never looked this good. The dazzling use of colours, light and inspired art-direction rank it alongside Ridley Scott’s ‘Blade Runner’ (Also released in 1982). The Blu-Ray extras give great insights into what a staggering feat it was to bring this film to the screen.
The sequel has it’s moments, like Daft Punk’s awesome score, which was like having shiny black Electro Treacle poured into my ears when I heard it in the cinema. The digital re-creation of Jeff Bridges circa-1982 is not perfect but by god is it impressive. It just suffers in comparison to the original visually. In ‘Tron: Legacy’ the cast wear black rubber suits that actually have lights cunningly built-in to them. Unfortunately that is just what they look like, but in the original due to the painstaking optical composting affects the cast actually appear to be beings of light. The luminescence and hue of the circuitry on their bodies was used by the animators to heighten their emotional state. By the way, back in ’82 the Academy refused to nominate the special-effects team because they thought that the use of computers was cheating! Oh how times have changed.
Click here for a nice little page with behind the scenes screenshots.
The middle part of this clip gets across just how difficult the look of the original ‘Tron’ was to achieve:
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