Impact No. 5

August 25th, 2014

Impact No. 5

This one was created for the latest issue of the ‘All About Space’ magazine. Topic for the article is, yes you’re right… Apocalypse. I enjoy this pic quite a bit and it does a nice job printed in the magazine here.

All About Space on the Internet: here

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Dawn Of The Planet Of The Apes – Movie Review

August 25th, 2014

movie reviewI bought the first part of this movie on Bluray. The reason why? Well, it came with the 1968 Charlton Heston original. Fantastic! But no, I didn’t hate the first one. I actually liked it for what it wanted to be. Solid characters, some impressive VFX work and a small hint on what’s in store for the sequel.

Now that certain hint is maybe something you don’t remember too vividly since the first movie glanced over it a bit. Don’t worry though, it’s explained in the opening sequence of this second part. Some nice animation graphics and compositing work there. After that short introduction we find ourselfes a couple of decades in the future. Due to a virus, originating from the laboratory that kind of gave Caesar his intellect, mankind went almost extinct and struggles to get back on its feet.

It’s a post-apocalypse setting placed in and around San Francisco. While the humans stood in the city and built a kind of colony, the apes found a place in the Redwoods and built a nice home there as well. In order to maintain electricity for the small human colony they send out a small team to secure a dam that’s located somewhere near the woods. Man and Ape co-existed rather peacefully up until that point and barely took notice from each other. Now our team, on the search for the dam, has to cross Ape territory. That’s potential for conflict. The fact that one of the humans shoots one of the apes doesn’t help the cause.

Caesar spares the humans and allows them to explain themselfes. Both come to an agreement and the humans get safe passage to the dam. Of course there is this one human character that manages it to destroy all trust between the team and the apes. From here on out it’s a little back and forth between our small team (a father (Jason Clarke), his girlfriend (Keri Russell), his son (Kodi Smit-McPhee) and three helpers) and Caesar. This is the part where the movie dragged a little for me. The end of the first act basically. Even though there are some good moments in there. Especially when it pulls on your heart strings a bit.

Caesar doesn’t have the best position since he’s getting some criticism about how he’s handling the situation with the humans. Some of them argue that he’s too soft with them and would do better to send them away or kill them. Especially Koba, one of Caesars closest friends and ally. Koba is with Caesar since the beginning and was one of the apes that had a really rough time in the laboratory. So his motivation is unterstandable. He’s only seen the worst of humanity. Caesar on the other hand knows both sides of humanity. And that’s why he’s helping the team to even repair the dam.

From that point on the movie shifts gear and things start to move a little faster, without losing the emotion that it built up to this point. Koba decides that he’s not happy with the situation and discoveres that the human colony is preparing weapons. What he doesn’t know is that these weapons were not prepared for an attack. They were thought for defence. Koba starts to manipulate the apes around him and sabotages Caesar and his try to build a bridge between the humans and apes. Koba manages to get the upper hand and soon enough the ape society turned into a dictatorship of sorts. Koba leads them straight to war and attacks the human colony in San Francisco.

Like I said, I had some problems in the first act. The movie establishes a lot of things, goings ons and I didn’t know where it was going. I also didn’t know who to root for. This changed later in the movie. But to get there took a while. It’s certainly very fascinating how the movie portraits the ape society and how things are done there. They communicate via sign-language (with subtitles) and sometimes even speak. I found it very interesting that they chose to go for subtitles. It’s a point that potentially would have made the movie rather goofy. Speaking apes… you know? But they found the right solution and balance. They do speak in certain situations but it’s very animalistic and sometimes even hard to understand. The ape characters are done so extremely well that it was pretty much impossible to tell them apart from the real live footage. The CG work was exceptional. Some matte paintings looked a little rushed but that’s a nitpick. The facial expressions and the way the apes moved looked great and Andy Serkis, who made himself a name for playing CG characters like Gollum, King Kong surely did a fantastic job as Caesar here. There was a little controversy about him saying that the CG work to create the characters is far less important than his performance in the motion capturing process. I have to disagree with him wholeheartedly. While I absolutely give him credit for some outstanding work and acting, it’s maybe a 60/40 between the work of the CG department and his motion capturing. 60% of the success of his characters definitely belongs to the people who created the creatures he’s playing. Especially when looking at how insanely detailed Caesar looks in this movie. The fur, textures, lighting and so many other things (that even I have no idea of and I do kind of work in that CG field) that have to come together to make Serkis’s performance to work in the first place. Nonetheless I would applaud if Serkis would at least get an Oscar nomination. Also the fact that it were not the “stupid humans” that started the war was very welcome. Yes they started the aggression but tried to make it all good and helped the apes with some issues they had. The apes turned it into a war. I liked that. The humans and apes represented a nice mirror of how things normally work out in our world. No matter how intelligent a species may be.

This movies doesn’t need to be over 2 hourse long. There was room for trimming, especially in the first act. The main protagonists are clearly the apes. The humans felt a little flat. I also wished that Gary Oldman (playing the leader of the human colony) had more space. His character has to face some difficult decisions and there was potential for some drama. The ending part with Gary Oldman felt a little forced though. Almost out of character. I did not expect him to go that route. He seemed more intelligent than that. But anyway… the movie is worth a watch for sure.

A 7.5 for this one.

Dawn Of The Planet Of The Apes on IMDb

All About Space Magazine No. 29

August 22nd, 2014

All About Space Issue No. 29

Not long ago I got contacted by the All About Space Magazine to do an apocalyptic scenario of an Asteroid impact near a well known city. So I did a little Digital Matte Painting for the current issue of All About Space. The article I’ve done it for is about possible doomsday scenarios, quite an interesting read. If you are a Space fan then I’d suggest you check out this magazine. Really interesting topics and facts in there.

All About Space on the Internet: here

All About Space on Facebook: here

Regards

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Assassin’s Cradle by Rupert Pollard

August 10th, 2014

Assassin's Cradle

A couple of weeks ago I made a cover for self publishing writer Rupert Pollard. Nothing groundbreaking when it comes to the picture but it fits the authors idea and what he had in mind. He sent me a copy, which you can see in the photo, and it looks really good. I haven’t read the book yet but definitely plan to do so.

Here a short description: “In the future, galaxy-spanning conglomerates use subterfuge and treachery in a never-ending struggle for domination. Idries Tanarra, a naïve and overconfident operative, must build a network of allies to help him overthrow the malignant government of Ganoten, but he didn’t expect to fall in love, an operative’s fatal flaw. As he closes in on a solution, allies turn into deadly enemies, and competing forces seek to take advantage of the opportunity he creates. Can he navigate the perilous politics of espionage? Can he divine friend from foe when the stakes are survival? Will his decisions be his undoing or can he escape his predicament to take the ultimate step out of the assassin’s cradle?”

Rupert Pollard on Facebook: here

Assassin’s Cradle on Amazon: here

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Jodorowsky’s Dune – Movie Review

August 3rd, 2014

movie reviewIt’s safe to say that this was probably the most influential movie that was never made. If you are a film fan and remotely interested in filmmaking history then this documentary by Frank Pavich will be right on your alley. It’s about Alejandro Jodorowsky (also called Jodo and now in his 80s) and his attempt to film his version of Frank Herbert’s “Dune” in 1975. I admit I have never seen his movies (like El Topo or The Holy Mountain) or any other of his art projects. From what I knew he is known for his very unique style and abstract imagery in film.

This documentary knows very well that there are more Scifi and Dune fans out there than hardcore movie fans that know the name Jodorowsky. So the trip starts with an introduction to who Jodorowsky is and what he’s mostly known for. It explains his unique approach to art and movie making very well and introduces the viewer to the character that is Jodorowsky. I would say he’s ‘the living passion’. As soon as we see him and hear him, we learn that this man is full of emotion, drive and… passion. Especially of course when it’s about his work.

He says he never read Frank Herbert’s classic and all he knows about it was told to him by friends who loved the book. Immediately a vision began to take shape in Jodorowsky’s head. His friend Michel Seydoux, who previously worked as Producer on projects with Jodorowsky, gave Jodo free hand on what to do next. Jodorowsky just said “Dune!” and Seydoux said “Sure, why not!” and both embarked on the journey to realize the vision.

When you hear Jodorowsky talk about how they started pre-production with writing the screenplay, doing concept art and creating a shot for shot storyboard, you don’t have a choice than just to think that this movie was meant to be. Especially when Jodo is talking about how he met all the people who were involved in the pre-production process or planned to get involved with filming this monster project. It really all sounds like destiny wanted this movie to happen. There are storys about Mick Jagger, Pink Floyd and even Salvador Dali! It’s crazy hearing all this but in context of Jodo’s vision it all makes sense for some strange reason.

Jodo managed to bring together a group of people that were able to artistically bring their absolute best for the project. People like Jean ‘Moebius’ Giraud, Chris Foss and H.R. Giger managed to change the look of how Scifi had to be shown in movies. Their talent defines Scifi even today. And it all started with Jodorowsky trying to realize his vision of Frank Herbert’s Dune. At the time in the early to mid 70s they shared a very special common idea. They wanted to show something completely new. They wanted to break barriers when it came to design, feel and the technical execution of visual effects. All that, of course, comes for a price.

A too high price for the studios. Jodorowsky and his team had a finished and fleshed out idea that they brought from one studio to another. They had this amazing book that contained a scene for scene storyboard, the full script, several pages of concept art and all that on really high quality paper. A true treasure. And still, all of the studios said “thanks for the effort but no”. And it was either because the ideas in the script were to far out there and weird or they wouldn’t simply finance it because the visuals necessary for this movie demanded a really huge budget. No one wanted to risk it. And from my point of view, I couldn’t blame them. Jodo’s vision was weird, brutal and visually strange. Yet… fascinating on so many levels. So ultimately the project failed because no one wanted to finance it. Jodo admits that it was a very hard time for him. His heart was broken.

So the rights for Dune then went to Dino De Lautentis who then produced the David Lynch version of Dune. Jodorowsky’s first thought was very positive. If someone was able to create a similar movie, close to Jodo’s ideas, it was David Lynch. When the movie came out in 1984 Jodo refused to see it. I would have probably reacted the same. Later then he saw it. A funny reaction by Jodo in the documentary because he smiled and was happy because Lynch’s movie was a failure on almost every level. Not just to him but also in the box office, to the critics and fans. And again… it’s a human reaction and I would have probably reacted the same. I personally enjoy Lynch’s Dune and think it definitely has its place. It’s sturcture is completely nuts but it contains enough ideas and weird concepts to stay fresh and interesting.

At the end of this documentary you can come to only one single conclusion. And that would be that Jodorowsky’s Dune is probably the best thing that ‘could have’ happened. By that I mean the fact that this movie was never fully made. Keeping in mind that something like Star Wars most likely never would have happened if Jodorowsky’s Dune were made. And they cover that fact in the documentary. But it also made movies like Alien, Blade Runner and so many other scifi classics possible. I mean, Giger’s design of the Alien alone is a timeless thing, that will look creepy, strange and frightening even to people that aren’t even born yet. And the atmospheric dystopia feel and look of Blade Runner wouldn’t have been possible without Moebius. So we may have lost one crazy Scifi version of Dune but won so many more Scifi movies that contain the ideas of Jodorowsky’s Dune and kinda sorta immortalize his project in a very special way.

Check out this documentary if you’re either a Movie fan, Scifi fan or simply interested in Art. It’s be worth your while!

8.0/10

Jodorowsky’s Dune on IMDb

Nok Tiris

July 21st, 2014



Nok Tiris

In 2011 Jason Huls contacted me to create a picture for a shortfilm (Citizen In The Temple) he’s doing. He sent me the script and when I finished reading it I found it really good. So I picked out the descriptions for the scene and started something. As it normally turns out shortfilms, especially when worked on in spare time, take a while to get done. Everyone working on it has a real job to take care of as well and so it comes that often things get delayed a lot. Earlier this year I was organizing my harddrives and stumbled over the folder with the painting I did for the film. I still liked how it turned out but couldn’t stop myself from adding a little more detail. I contacted Jason asking if the project was still alive and sent him the refined version. The film is in its final production stages but still… good work needs time. =) I also saw that other artists did backgrounds as well… so the film should have some eyecandy for sure.

What we have here is sort of an establishing shot that reveals where most of the story is taking place. The megacity of Nok Tiris. Eolan, the Planet itself, is pretty much dead and deserted. The fundament for the picture was again created with Vue and refined/detailed/overpainted with Photoshop.

5000×2283 – Vue – Photoshop

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Edge of Tomorrow – Movie Review

June 14th, 2014

movie reviewWell, the first thing that comes up is the movie ‘Groundhogs Day’ with Bill Murray from 1993. Even though it’s not fair to compare the two movies. They may share the same idea… but the movies itself couldn’t be more different. Still… this comparison comes up all the time.

Edge of Tomorrow (EoT) shares the same idea but it’s far from being a comedy. Instead it’s a Science Fiction war movie. In its depiction a very ‘reduced to the essence/basics’ movie. It’s not playing around and follows a straight line. It doesn’t sidetrack and keeps its main characters in focus and therefor comes across like a very very efficiently produced movie. And while all that sounds very bleak and uninteresting… it’s, on the contrary, exactly that efficient moviemaking what makes this movie work.

We follow Major William Cage (Tom Cruise), a military officer and sort of a public relations spokesman from the military for the media. He is the typical guy that tries to ‘sell’ the war to civilians to make them join the fight. In short… he’s the typical advertising guy that’s most likely an asshole. And he is an asshole. Cruise does a formidable job in selling that asshole image with his very unique smartassy charming smile. Now what ‘war’ is there? Well, it’s the typical “aliens (called Mimics) invaded Earth and Mankind wants to send them home again” scenario. Now Major Cage is invited to visit General Brigham (Brendan Gleeson) just to get the order that the next day, when the largest offensive ever is scheduled to reclaim Europe, Major Cage will also be there, on the front line, to do media coverage about how the attack is going on. This is a great scene between Cruise and Gleeson. Major Cage, even with his rank as an officer, never fought a single battle in his whole career. He immediately understands that this ‘frontline report’ mission will be very dangerous. Too dangerous for him. Cage is trying to find a way out of his misery and manages it to really seriously anger the General. So much that he’s losing his rank and gets demoted to the rank of Private. Then he finds himself waking up on the military rally grounds that previously was the Heathrow Airport in London. This place looks great and really delivers pictures that kind of look and feel like what you see in documentaries from the day before D-Day in WW2.

There we meet Master Sergeant Farell (Bill Paxton) who is giving Cage hell, brings him to his new platoon and has no mercy, telling him he’ll probably won’t survive the next day. Soon enough the forces are readying for the action and prepare themselves for the invasion. Cage has no clue about anything is pretty much a playball of the circumstances. The invasion is codenamed ‘Downfall’ and the battle itself is kind of an homage to ‘Operation Overlord’, the landing of the Allied forces on the beaches of France in 1944. Except this time the enemy is prepared and everything possible goes, against all predictions, horribly wrong and the enemy anticipated the attack. We see how Cage is stumbling through the battlefield, barely able to make sense of the situation. Soon enough his team is wiped out and the last chance to redeem himself is to blow himself up and take one of the aliens with him. Now that certain Mimic he took out was a special one. Cage suddenly wakes up the day before the invasion and has to live through it all again.

After a couple of repeats he understands what’s happening and understands that he can turn the tide in this war. He also understands that he can’t do it alone. So Cage is trying to make friends with Rita Vrataski (Emily Blunt). She’s the hero of a previous battle and known for her relentless will to kill the enemy. She’s kind of a symbol for hope. Cage of course tried to make his officers understand what is going on with him but naturally no one believes him when he tells them about that strange time-loop effect. But Rita does. We learn that the same thing happened to her in that famous battle at Verdun. Even though she lost her ‘reset’ ability both of them try to find a way to end this war.

So much for an intro to the storyline. Now there is some great acting in this movie. When Cage is entering the first day of the battle he is completely broken. Sweaty, shaking… completely useless. He is basically a joke to all his squad members. And they all do joke about him. Not the best motivation and you can see plain fear in the eyes of Cage. Well done job by Tom Cruise there. He eventually, after a couple of repeats/loops, learns how to handle the situation. Slowly but surely we get the Cruise we know from the Mission Impossible movies for example. It’s a nice transition. But still, Cage is making mistakes and the movie has some very original (and very often funny) ways to show and explain these. In an earlier loop he’s hit by a truck which comes out of nowhere and was just plain funny. You’re a robot if you’re not laughing at that scene. Bill Paxton also works great as Cage’s officer in the Heathrow camp. He’s giving him crap from left and right and seems to have a lot of fun playing that character. Emily Blunt is also very believable in her part as the heroine. Even if she’s very vulnerable, she still stays above all these other soldiers around her. She has a certain ‘grace’ on the battlefield. The way she moves and deals with the enemy just looks really good.

On a technical aspect there’s also not much to critique. The script is solid and even manages it to flesh out background characters enough that you kinda care for them too. Sometimes a little far fetched but still good and efficient in its pacing. The camera work is ok, but has a little too much shaky cam syndrome going on in the battle scenes. On a visual level the movie comes along really bleak. This may turn off some people but for me it added to the visual realism. Then there are the Exo-Suits. Now a lot of fans were not happy when they didn’t manage to make these for the 1998 Starship Troopers movie. Since in the novel the soldiers had such Exoskeleton Suits to fight the Bugs. I guess they had to strip that part due to budget limitations and VFX not being where techniques are nowadays. The aliens often reminded me of the drones in the Matrix movies. Which probably isn’t a fair comparison since the aliens here are organic. It’s mostly their movement style. When they get a closeup and don’t move too much, they actually look quite scary. I have to applaud the fact that (when you get a clean look at them) these creatures finally do look like aliens and not humanoid or like something that could be off Earth.

You can see a lot of influences from all kinds of Scifi literature and movies packed into EoT. From Starship Troopers to The Forever War. Some parts of the film even have a World War 1 flair. But that may be caused by the look they chose for the invasion scenes. In some twisted universe EoT could have even been a sequel to that World Invasion/Battle: LA movie. Thinking about it… it would have been perfect. Battle: LA had a really nice first 30 minutes but became a horrible movie very soon after that.

While watching a review of this movie on Thecinemasnob.com, it was noted that this is best videogame movie ever made. And while the movie is not based on a videogame it completely makes sense. The whole mechanic of the movie works like a videogame. Cage basically is the playable character and everytime the (let’s say just for fun) director makes a mistake… Cage has to start the level again! It’s a funny analysis and it could totally make sense! In ye olden days, with the jump’n'run games for example, you really needed some very good timing and planning on how you move through the levels. The same thing happens in the movie. That’s a funny detail worth to mention.

Only the ending felt a tiny bit too much by the book. But that’s merely a taste thing I’d say. Otherwise a very solid and good movie. I like Tom Cruise’s Scifi choices so far. I can’t remember a bad movie with him that’s set in the Scifi genre. It’s also good to see an original movie and not a remake, sequel or prequel making a lot of money and being successful these days.

7.9/10

Edge Of Tomorrow on IMDb

Escape

June 11th, 2014



Escape

This one started out as a commission. I just had done and finished up another one for that client but with my attempts on a second one I didn’t manage to hit the right look that they wanted. We decided to leave it be and I asked if I could use one of my attempts for a personal approach. We agreed, parted ways and I carried on working on my idea since I felt that I was on to something with that picture.

It surely paid off when I look at the final version now. I always wanted to try myself on some kind of park area. A bright, peaceful and not too stressy picture setup with some nice depth. Not sure if I succeeded with the ‘stressy’ part but the depth works really well I think. Again there’s not much of a story behind it but I sorta imagine this huge park area as some sort of point of escape for all the people living in the city that is lurking in the background. It must be a great place to relax your mind and body a bit. The lady we see even got out of her shoes and walks around barefoot. So I’m sure it’s a great place to find peace of mind and such.

Technically it’s my usual Vue & Photoshop combo. The terrains were done with Worldmachine and the big rocks with Sculptris. Sculptris is a neat tool by the zBrush people. It’s basically a reduced version of zBrush and ideal for 3d sculpting beginners. It was more than sufficient for what I needed it for in this project. I also worked with a lot of masks to align the trees for the park. There went a lot of fine tuning into it. Mainly to get the positions, order and number right. In Photoshop the usual fixing, overpainting and additional texturing happened. Ultimately the overall result is satisfying. It’s not perfect but at some point you have to stop working on a picture. I, in fact, stopped working on it an hour ago. After a longer break where I considered the picture final. But you can always find something to tune and fix. I basically force myself to stop working on it by releasing it to the public. =D

Enough babble… I hope you like this one and enjoy the view!

6000×2550 – Vue – Worldmachine – Sculptris – Photoshop

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3d Art Direct Issue 38

June 10th, 2014

3d Art Direct

I just want to let you guys know that there is a really extensive and well researched part about me and my work in the latest issue of 3D Art Direct. Part of my Skyhigh image even made it as the coverart. Pretty damn awesome! Especially since it their first issue with a new and reworked layout and design. This is the second interview I gave them, with the first one in issue 15. Here, for this new issue 38, I have to thank David Haden for his work on my part. He did a really good job. Everyone else… go check it out! Really great artist interviews in this magazine.

3d Art Direct: here

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Godzilla (2014) – Movie Review

May 22nd, 2014

movie reviewI had some high hopes for this one. What really made me curious about this new one were the casting choices and how the characters would work out. When it comes to the old Godzilla movies then I’m by far no expert. I know they’re around since the mid 1950s and saw tons of different iterations of the same story over and over again. The very first Godzilla movie from 1954 was kind of a Japanese comment on the discovery of nuclear energy and bomb testing and had some serious undertones. Later iterations of the so-called ‘Kaiju’ (which basically translates as ‘strange creature’) movies ended up very kid friendly and very goofy in the 60s. Then it got a little more serious again. Let’s just say that Godzilla itself has quite a history. And from my personal experience, watching this latest iteration, this ‘king of all monsters’ still worked great!

The first 15 minutes of the movie we have our all beloved Bryan Cranston trying to figure out some strange anomalies on some instrument readings from the nuclear power plant he’s working for. Something strange is going on and he has no idea what’s the source of the readings. Cranston plays Joe Brody. He and his wife Sandra (Juliette Binoche) and son Ford live in Japan, really close to the power plant, which is portrayed as this really massive complex you actually want to avoid going too close to. This one particular morning, the strange readings go off the chart and result in an earthquake. In an effort to secure the power plant Sandra dies, right in front of Joe’s eyes. A pretty heartbreaking moment. Cranston does a phenomenal job with showing the pain he’s going through in these moments. His decision to sacrifice his wife and colleagues helps to avoid a bigger catastrophe but Joe wants to know what exactly happend and caused the earthquake that forced him to kill his beloved wife. 15 years later we have Ford (Aaron Taylor-Johnson), who joined the military, coming home from his latest tour of duty. Just when he wanted to have some peace with his wife Elle (Elizabeth Olson) and kid, the telephone rings with a message that his father got arrested in Japan. Joe, now obsessed with finding out what happened 15 years ago gets released from prison after Ford bailed him out of there. Both have very different ideas on how to get on with life but Joe manages to get his son along to take a trip to the ruins of the power plant. Ford’s reason to help his father is mainly to put an end to all of it by showing his father that there was nothing special going on 15 years ago… that it was an accident. Slowly but surely both understand that there is indeed something going on and Joe now wins the trust he needs from his son. And that’s all I want to say here. Let’s just point out that things start to happen and things start to get spectacular.

If you take all the old Godzilla movies into account then you notice that all of them have a slow buildup. You will not get your big time monster fight in the first half hour (or even full hour). The fight is reserved for the third act in the end. Yes there are skirmish fights here and there… but the big one always in the end. And that’s something this new movie does perfect! It surely takes like 20 to 30 minutes before we can actually see a monster. And it’s a great first appearance and the first moments of ‘epic’.

What this movie does perfectly is to (for the most part) show the monsters from the perspective of a human. That gives these enormous creatures so much weight and results in some dreadful and believeable images. A lot of “holy crap, how would I try to get out of there?” moments. Especially when we’re with Ford when he’s trying to get home and later trying to do his job. There is one scene on Hawaii when Ford is on a train, trying to catch a plane for San Francisco, when one of the monsters appears in the city. At first all electricity is off and the whole city dark. Kind of the atmosphere you have when a thunderstorm is coming. Very quiet, before it goes off. Military jets and helicopters zipping around. We’re still with Ford in that train and you start to think that something off and weird is going on. Then lights come on again and suddenly this giant creature appears. There are a lot of these moments in this movie, where a short buildup is going on, that introduces the monster to the environment. It’s so well done and creates a very immersive mood.

As mentioned before I was curious because of the casting choices. Unfortunately the movie doesn’t go too deep into the characters and doesn’t allow a lot of character development. Only Bryan Cranston really managed to portrait a 3 dimensional character with was given to him. Aaron Johnson is a phenomenal actor who surely does a fine job here, but his character in the movie could be seen as a placeholder for every other generic monster movie hero. Still, he’s doing a good job, given the material he got. Then we have Elizabeth Olson who got herself some credit with some of her recent acting choices. She’s doing a nice job as well and gives her part at least a tad bit of depth. The true hero of this movie is Godzilla and the monsters. Which brings me to the VFX and monsters.

I really like this new take on Godzilla. I think it’s a natural progression from the original (man in a costume) design. Of course in this one the monsters are all CG. There are some really epic scenes in this movie. And no, I’m not explicitly talking about the big fight scenes. There are scenes that make the monsters almost appear human. They seem to have emotions and most importantly they have a motivation! It’s not a desaster-porn movie where all the destruction is just there for the sake of the most possible KABOOM! These creatures have a reason to fight. The CG work, from my point of view, is pretty much flawless. The detail and motivation of the monsters gives all the destruction much more weight. I can’t even imagine how much work went into the creation of the VFX scenes. It’s damn good work.

Talking about the qualities of the monsters and how they appear to have ‘character’ goes back to director Gareth Edwards’ first big movie ‘Monsters’. In ‘Monsters’ we have the question who the real monsters are. Maybe it’s us humans. The monsters in Edwards’ first movie did not really appear to be dangerous. They were just ‘there’ and we humans just don’t want them to be ‘there’ (as usual). Then there is this fascinating ending of Monsters where there are these two 20m or 30m high creatures that seem to make love and share emotions. The same qualities and undertones we have in this Godzilla movie. It seems to go a step further too. There are scenes with a subtle undertone of mutual understanding between humans and the monsters. It is fascinating and very well executed. Gareth Edwards was the perfect guy for this movie. He seems to understand the subtle details that need to go into movies like this. Action isn’t everything! It needs a little more.

Did I mention the sound design? The sound landscape in this movie is very deep! There is a scene on a train bridge in a forest that doesn’t play any dramatic music at all. It’s just the sound and noises from the monster. The movie definitely understood when to cut the music and leave space for sound effects. I already got that impression from the trailers and was so happy that it translated into the movie. The musical score in the film works well but for me the clear heroes are the sound design folks. Especially in theater! When Godzilla roars it almost felt like the seats were shaking. And there is this one scene where he roars and… keeps on roaring for longer then you would normally think for a scene like that. And it totally paid off! It gave Godzilla character and a certain kind of ‘force of nature’ feel. Almost as if he wanted to say “The wait is over! I’m here now and I’ll kick some ass!”. It worked great!

The movie got positive reviews with some sprinkles of negative. While I’m open to every opinion, I don’t understand some of the complaints from the negative reviews though. One thing you have to understand is that we’re not talking about ‘Pacific Rim’ here. Pacific Rim is a fun movie in itself and while it’s about big monsters too, it’s also a pure popcorn movie to have fun with. For the most part it’s monster bashing without investing time into developing the monsters. They’re just there to get beaten and killed in the most cool way possible. In Godzilla you don’t get the eyecandy until the story demands it and explained it. In some way you have to earn yourself the eyecandy (how it’s suposed to be goddamnit!) and enjoy it even more when it happens. I’m really glad we still have this big blockbuster movie that manages to follow a buildup and not throw all the good stuff out within the first 15 minutes of the film! It gives me hope that there still are talented people out there who understand how a good movie should be structured!

Even some of the positive reviews said that it could have had more fighting between the monsters and I say NO… it was just the right amount of fighting and destruction. If you want senseless eyecandy and destruction go watch Man Of Steel or Transformers.

Alright, I think I got it all out. I really damn enjoyed this movie. Go watch it. For this one I would even suggest a 3d screening.

8/10

Godzilla on IMDb