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Entries in Visual FX (109)

Sunday
Jul242016

Yes No Maybe So: Wonder Woman

They're trying to trick us with this new Wonder Woman poster. Look at all that COLOR. From WB/DC? Could it be possible? Mmmm yes and no. 

Since it was Comic Con weekend the studios were working hard to inundate fans with new superhero footage and the second Wonder Woman trailer is here... which has some color to it but a lot of blue grays since that's how DC (and action movies) likes to play it these days. The trailer is a bit premature as the film is not due for 11 months but we'll take it. It looks pretty good and maybe, just maybe, they'll do right by the Amazon princess?

Our Yes No Maybe So is after the jump but first things first. You must know that we do deeply dig The Little Mermaid shoutout which begins the trailer. Steve Trevor is all washed up on shore like a Prince Eric thirst trap and Diana is eager to drink him up...

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Saturday
Jul162016

Review: Ghostbusters (2016)

This review was originally published in Nathaniel's column at Towleroad

Remember when Sony rebooted Sam Raimi’s take on Spider-Man (2002) with The Amazing Spider-Man (2012)? Their whole conceit at the time appeared to be “What if you didn’t know the story?” so they just told it again. Only everyone actually did know the story. The result was an instantly forgettable retread, useless but for the printing of money. While that may have been the whole point, it left a lousy corporate aftertaste. It took the world gargling with some Marvel Studios mouthwash (aka Captain America: Civil War) to make people excited about Spidey again.

The good news is that the mega corporation appears to have learned from their mistakes. Ghostbusters NOW does not moronically assume you don’t know Ghostbusters THEN. Sure, it’s the same story again — the Ghostbusters set up shop, refine technobabble gadgets, fight against a supernatural invasion of New York and the bureaucrats that get in their way — but writer/director Paul Feig and his cowriter Katie Dippold (who wrote The Heat together) have correctly guessed that the fun of the movie will be in the makeover. 

the ladies fighting the (undead) patriarchy

The story gets a new look, freshened up details, and most famously, four female Ghostbusters and a male receptionist in place of the original’s four men and a female receptionist; that gender inversion proved more revolutionary that any rational human might have expected because a lot of manbabies have been freaking out on the internet ever since...

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Monday
Jul042016

Review: The Legend of Tarzan (2016)

Editor's Note: This review was originally published in Nathaniel's column at Towleroad. Our "Swing Tarzan Swing" column, investigating the shifting portrayals and quality of Tarzan films over pop culture history will resume next weekend. We'll circle back to Skarsgård at the end.

You know that antipiracy text that sometimes appears on movie screens now post-credits? "The making and legal distribution of this film supported over X-many thousands of jobs." This message kept bothering me the day after seeing The Legend of Tarzan (2016). Yes, piracy is bad but you know what else is terrible? That none of those jobs were for animal trainers! I swear that not a single real animal appears in the new film, which has to be a first for a Tarzan film. And hopefully a last. It's all computer generated imagery for this jungle adventure...

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Sunday
Jun122016

Irwin Allen "Master of Disaster" Centennial

Tim here. Today we celebrate the 100-year anniversary of the birth of producer-director-writer Irwin Allen, one of the great junk-food purveyors in Hollywood cinema. It's by no means true that Allen invented the disaster movie (a genre stretching back into the 1930s), nor even the uniquely '70s-style incarnation of the form, with an impressively well-stocked larder of overtalented, underpaid stars filling out the clichéd melodramas of addiction and marital strife that tend to form the plots of these movie (Airport got there first). But it was under Allen's hand that disaster movies became the greatest, gaudiest spectacles of the decade.

Allen was not always a high-end schlockmeister. In fact, he began his career as an Oscar-winner, taking home a Best Documentary Feature award for 1953's The Sea Around Us, based on a Rachel L. Carson book. Curiously his first taste of the effects-driven spectacle that would typify his later films came in as a way of fleshing out his documentaries. One sequence of his 1956 film The Animal World, on dinosaurs, featured effects by the great Ray Harryhausen, and his very next film was his first all-star extravaganza, the cameo-packed The Story of Mankind.

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Saturday
May212016

Swing, Tarzan, Swing! Ch.2: Maureen O'Sullivan & Johnny Weismuller

one of many erotic moments in Tarzan the Ape Man (1932)New Miniseries! As we approach the release of The Legend of Tarzan (2016) we'll be ogling past screen incarnations of the Lord of the Apes each weekend like we're going to an old timey matinee.

We began by staring hard at Buster Crabbe's loincloth so as to avoid the acting and plotting. For chapter 2 we're moving to the main event: Johnny Weissmuller. He's the actor most often associated with the the Lord of the Apes since he played it 12 times and because he played it so well. There's a genuine guileness and in the moment feeling to his work that lets the ape man read more simple and pure than stupid, despite all the broken English. A few seasons ago on a weakly attended episode of 'Hit Me With Your Best Shot' we marvelled at how erotic the pre-code Tarzan the Ape Man (1932) was . Rather than rehash that film (though it is definitely worth your time), we jump ahead to its sequel Tarzan and His Mate (1934) which some argue is the best of the dozens of Tarzan films made during the studio era. Not I, as I think it's a notch below the 1932 original but in truth that's splitting hairs. The two films cling to each other as tightly as Jane holds on to her swinging man. More than most Tarzan films it's a direct sequel, constantly referencing events, locales, and characters from the original film.

When we left the jungle couple in 1932, Tarzan was already getting (ahem) good with his tongue. When audiences returned to see the next adventure in the Spring of 1934, Hollywood's "Pre-Code" era was ending. The code began to be rigidly enforced that year which meant there was one last burst of racy sexy times in the cinema that year for films that had already been shot. [More...]

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Monday
May162016

The Furniture: Deadpool's Junk

"The Furniture" is our weekly series on Production Design. Here's Daniel Walber on Deadpool, now available on DVD and Bluray

We tend to think of superhero movies as showcases for visual effects. Marvel, for example, has always been stuck in that one particular category at the Oscars. It can be hard to untangle CGI from physical sets, particularly when they're strung together by a deft editor. And if identifying individual elements can be difficult, assigning credit often seems even harder. As such, production design isn’t usually at the forefront of our constant national conversation around the Marvel Cinematic Universe.

Yet sometimes, even in the murky waters of big budget spectacle, the physical set outshines its digital embellishment. That’s certainly the case in Deadpool, a superhero action movie that was perhaps forced into more terrestrial creativity by its low budget of $58 million. For context, Captain America: Civil War cost about $250 million. Inevitably some of the film looks a bit cheap, particularly when it comes to the CG. Despite the low budget, the studio still clearly felt some pressure to put on the same bombastic show of digital force that comes at the end of every one of these movies. It's a bummer, frankly, because the physical set could easily have stood on its own.

This final clash between Deadpool (Ryan Reynolds) and Francis (Ed Skrein) takes place at a vast junkyard. [more...]

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Monday
Apr112016

The Furniture: The Forest and "The Force Awakens"

"The Furniture" is our new design series. Here's Daniel...

Once upon a time, Hollywood movie magic looked a bit different. In this age of CGI, with some blockbusters relying so heavily on digital effects that they border on fully animated features, it’s easy to forget how science fiction and fantasy once looked. This is why the throwback technical elements in Star Wars: The Force Awakens are so exciting to behold.

One could go on for quite some time about all these details, many of which come up in the extensive special features included on the Blu-ray. One production design revelation in particular that's worth celebrating is that the final fight scene between Kylo Ren and Rey, set in a dark and snowy forest, was shot on a set.

Initially, a location shoot was considered. Such a choice worked wonders for the forest sequence in House of Flying Daggers (2004) , certainly. Yet, due to the fact that the nighttime setting would severely restrict the schedule, the production design team led by Rick Carter and Darren Gilford began workshopping a solution [More...]

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