If this movie does one thing right. Just one thing! Then it’s giving us Ben Affleck as Batman. And the interpretation of Alfred is really interesting! All the rest… is really strange. If there is a movie that should have a sticker on its poster that suggests the audience to turn their brains off for the viewing, it’s this one. Normally I try to write reviews spoiler free but I really don’t care for this one. The whole movie is in the trailers.
So the movie starts with a flashback of how Bruce Wayne’s parents get murdered (again). How many times do we have to see that part actually?! It’s well shot since Zack Snyder knows how to work with camera angles and all. But it’s boring. We know that part already. After that scene we get another flashback to the end of Man Of Steel. Zod and Superman are fighting it out, right in the middle of Metropolis. Destruction porn. Literally. We follow an aged Bruce Wayne who is in the middle of all that destruction, trying to get to a Wayne Enterprises building right in the middle of Metropolis. Now the movie reaches a fascinating level of stupidity. Bruce Wayne can’t reach the building and calls a guy who is in charge of that building and employees to tell him to evacuate. The guy looks like he’s having no idea why, until he looks out the window where an alien spaceship is doing some serious damage. In context with Man Of Steel that spaceship is there for a while now. And this chief of staff guy doesn’t even notice it or orders the evacuation of the building. Meanwhile two godlike beings fight their way through the city, wreaking havoc and death, in the entire area. Evacuation? Why? Is that a statement on capitalism? Wayne Enterprises seems to have a ‘no evacuation’ policy for some reason. The movie would be over in less than two hours if the people working for Wayne Enterprises would have some brains! If I were in a big city and a giant spaceship comes from the sky… fuck that job, I’m gone! This movie makes no sense from minute one. So instead of a good compact less than 2hrs movie, we get another behemoth with 152 minutes. And they already threaten us with a directors cut kind of release on Bluray. And that’s just one stupid thing in this film.
The plot is as simple as it can be. 2 years after the events of Man Of Steel we’ve defeated the aliens and Superman is seen with a very critical eye. Of course, after all the senseless destruction he caused while fighting Zod. There are some heavy religious undertones that would have worked great if the movie was written better. Bruce Wayne doesn’t like Superman because he’s the reason why his building collapsed and killed so many Wayne Enterprises employees. All of a sudden Lex Luthor shows up and without explanation is very interested in all the alien tech that is around now. He stumbles uppon some Kryptonite and plans to use the Kryptonian technology to build a Superkryptonian out of Zod’s remains. Lex gets permission by the goverment to work on all the technology and manages to enter the wreck of Zod’s ship. Said ship, even two years later, is still right in the middle of Metropolis. (Of course!) If I translate the movie right then Lex has a problem with beings that are too godlike. So he creates another godlike being to fight the other godlike being! Simple! Come on movie… sigh.
So now let’s focus on some positive points. And there definitely are good things in this film. The already mentioned performance of Ben Affleck is the most interesting and good part of this film. I would say that 80% of the Batman stuff works. All the other stuff that is sprinkled into this film seems to disrupt the Batman movie that is in this movie. I also liked Jesse Eisenberg as Lex Luthor. The character definitely needed some clearly explained motivation for his actions but I kind of enjoyed him. Amy Adams as Lois Lane looked cute, got something more to do and does a nice job with what she is given compared to Man Of Steel. And I want to see a standalone Alfred movie that explains his past and how he got so badass. Jeremy Irons is great in that part and I enjoyed him as much as Ben Affleck.
Back to the bad points again. Throughout the movie there are multiple attempts to introduce more of DC Comic’s character catalogue. Aside of the introduction of The Flash and Wonder Woman these parts fell completely flat. Aquaman looked ridiculous and I really cannot see how they want to make a complete movie out of that guy. I have my doubts about Wonder Woman as well. Gal Gadot is a beautiful woman that looks the part, but she is a bad actress. I also still don’t feel Henry Cavill’s Superman. He’s so bland and we get the impression that he is constantly miserable and unhappy. Lois and Clark are already a couple by the way. The movie completely skips that part. Why put positive emotions or romance into a Superman movie?! (That’s sarcasm.)
Let’s get to the meat of this movie! The Batman/Superman fight sequence. Beside the fact that it’s boring and repetetive (like most of the superhero battles throughout the past 10 years) it is cringe worthy how this clash of the titans ends. Within 30 seconds these two guys, who just beat the crap out of each other, are best friends forever. Man it must have been hell for Ben Affleck to not be able to rewrite parts of this film. He’s a fantastic screenwriter and director. Poor Ben. This film could have benefited from a gifted writer so much. There are so many scenes where you are asking yourself “did he just say that?” or “did he just do that?”. It’s actually a quite amazing mess.
In the end of the movie all our heroes team up to fight “Doomsday”, the abomination Lex Luthor has created and unleashed onto Metropolis. Now the character of Doomsday isn’t even a real character. He’s like a walking nuclear bomb. Nothing more. Doesn’t even say a single word. To avoid a disaster finale like in Man Of Steel, the movie goes out of its way to make clear that all the areas are either evacuated or abandoned. Two minutes after the big fight starts, someone in a situation room says that Metropolis has been evacuated. It would take multiple hours to evacuate a city like Metropolis! So this final battle doesn’t do as much damage as the battle in the previous film but it comes close. And you ask yourself how big Metropolis actually is?! It must have three times the size of New York I guess?! Another fascinating part is that Gotham City seems to be a neighborhood of Metropolis. This almost made me laugh. From Metropolis it’s just a look across a river and there is Gotham City. Less than 50 miles away. How convenient! Gotham City is the New Jersey of Metropolis.
Oh well, there is more to talk about but I think the internet pretty much covered that part very well. Let’s just say that I’m very excited for Ben Affleck’s Batman movies. I’m sure he’s able to tickle out some great story from all the comic source material.
I saw this movie in 2D. Thank god. I would have left the screening with a headache, would I have seen this film in 3D. That’s for sure. I cannot even say if this movie is good popcorn entertainment since even the characters in the film constantly looked like they have the most miserable time of their lives. A really weird movie.
The initial idea for this one came from a commission I had finished at the time. I took the foundation of that earlier project and expanded on it. Since you can never have enough fantasy stuff in your portfolio, I wanted to go into it full throttle. And even while writing these lines I’m still fixing elements in the picture and tuning colours. I guess it’s one of those where I will always find stuff that could need some touch ups here and there. But at some point you have to stop. Because it looks good already and the stuff you fix are on a pixel level that no one will actually see. So yeah… I’ll stop now. :D DONE.
I guess the inspiration for this one came mostly from the commission but also a lot of Game Of Thrones or Lord Of The Rings of course. These properties kind of set a standard in the recent years. At least when it comes to a more ‘realistic’ look and feel of the fantasy genre. I’m a fan of cities that are built on a mountain cliff and always wanted to explore that theme. There went a lot of work into the fine tuning of the renders I used for a plate here. I used a wide range of tools from World Machine to DAZ3d to C4D to Vue and last but not least Photoshop. Lightroom as the final step of getting the colours and mood right.
Are the dragons attacking or just flying by? I leave that to the viewer. When I had the city pretty much done I felt that there was something missing. So I added some dragons because… ‘because’. They added a level of depth that was missing before. So I decided to keep them.
At the end I had a handful of different colourschemes for this one. I decided to go with a more aggressive and colourful tone instead of a dirty greyish realistic one. I think and hope the overall look, along with the colours, give a nice and epic impression. It at least works for me. =)
I dedicate this piece to two companions I lost over the last 5 weeks. You guys always made me smile when I was down. You’ll be greatly missed.
6000×2739 – Vue – World Machine – Photoshop – Lightroom
Thinking about todays market, how can you make a movie from a really good script, that actually has nothing in it, that makes an audience go “well, I need to see that!”. You create a connection to something else, that previously made people curious! It is very hard to tell if this film originally had a Cloverfield connection or not. Or if it was tacked on, to attract an audience. Because this film would actually work without the name Cloverfield in its title, as a standalone movie. But it’s only fair to assume that it would have probably ended up as a direct to dvd movie instead of a theatrical release.
If you want to know something about the story, without to spoil the movie for you, it’s best to watch the trailer. It’s a seldom case where the trailer was put together really intelligent, without giving too many clues about where the story will go. In the first minutes we follow Michelle (Mary Elizabeth Winstead) who is leaving her fiance/boyfriend. On her way she’s having a car accident and soon wakes up in a room. There she meets Howard (John Goodman). The first impression we get from him is a little weird. We are with Michelle and ask ourselfes what exactly is going on. Soon we meet Emmett (John Gallagher Jr.) and learn that we’re in a bunker, that Howard is a survivalist nut and something happened outside. But we’re never sure what exactly happened.
The movie has a really efficient structure. The buildup works great when it, every couple of minutes, throws something at you to chew on. That goes on for 85% of the movie. It’s a smart move not to overexplain everything and let the audience discover the truth along with the characters of the film. A good way to build the characters and make these connect with the audience. Which brings us to the actors of the film. All three of the main characters, Michelle, Howard and Emmett are thoroughly believable and at no point in the film fall into the usual horrormovie traps of doing stupid shit just to create tension or to move the plot forward. That’s one of the big things to appreciate in this film. No one is doing stupid stuff! A welcome thing in the horror genre these days. Every decision is relatable and smart. And all that can only work well with a strong cast and well written script by Josh Campbell, Matthew Stuecken and Damien Chazelle. Fantastic work by all of them.
Now I have a little history with Dan Trachtenberg the director of this film. By that I don’t mean ‘personal’. The first time I saw him was on a small online show called “The Totally Rad Show” in 2007. A show about Tv, Games and Movie reviews. Really enjoyed that show. Later he did a shortfilm about the game “Portal”. A very good showcase of his skills as a director and understanding of VFX. And now he made his first feature film. And it’s a really good one! It will definitely be interesting to see what’s next for him.
Even if the Cloverfield title feels a little too much like a marketing thing, I think this could work out nicely. They could do more of these kinds of films, with a loose connection to the original. We’ll see what happens there in the future I guess. In any case it’s better to have movies like these than a neverending string of Paranormal Activity found footage movies.
So if you’re a fan of a smart character driven horror story, then this movie is definitely something to check out for you. Great characters, mood and look… combined in an intelligent script that’s been nicely brought to film. I enjoyed it.
This one was a commission done quite some time ago. It’s done for a young lady who wanted a special gift for her boyfriend’s birthday. She told me that he’s a very big Scifi fan and wanted something personal and special. The sweetest thing ever and the girlfriend we all dream of, don’t you agree? I ultimately was very happy to help her out and together we managed to create something everyone was very happy with. She very early on made clear that the pic should show a moon scene with a base and Earth in the back. I took it a step further and started to build a city.
‘Collins City’ is a mixture of DAZ3d models and modified 3d models. Everything arranged and setup with Vue. The challenge was to create a scene without using atmospherical effects. The moon has a very specific lighting going on and I wanted to recreate that as good as possible. The foreground required some extra time to get the microcomposition right. The lighting was a little tricky too. After rendering the elements I used Photoshop to fix things and overpaint a couple of elements. Also the mood and the lighting received some touch ups.
So in the end we have a neat scene where even I managed to learn things from. And a young couple that enjoys the result very much and has something I created as a symbol of their love. That’s pretty amazing.
6000×3000 – Vue – Photoshop – DAZ3d
This is a first try in offering some resources for you to play with. Maybe there will be more in the future. This first one is a freebie that you can grab here – you can either pay an amount you think justifies the quality/content or just enter a 0 to get this package for free. No one will hold it against you. :D The contents of this package are free to use for personal and commercial projects. Please check the included readme file for more info.
Beside the main terrain (8192×8192, 16bit) itself, this package contains a collection of masks (16bit) and colormaps that allow you to go into very fine detail when giving the mountain character by adding textures and materials. It’s best used with Vue or Terragen but can also be used with any other sophisticated 3d package that’s out there.
Three times I made the attempt to watch this movie and finally it worked out this week. First it was a timing conflict. Then I became sick literally the day I wanted to go see it. But two days ago I finally made it. Sounds like the odyssey Mr. DiCaprio’s character went through in this film! Well, maybe not exactly.
First of all let’s go into the contents of this film a little. The movie is set in the early 1820s, when brave men embarked onto the conquest of the western (what we now call) United States of America. These men were so called ‘frontiersmen’ or ‘trappers’. People who tried to make a living by exploring the wilderness of a then unknown part of the land. In the case of the movie these men were trading fur and pelts that were quite the commodity back then. The french had a hand in that as well and were a big competitor in that field.
The movie sets its tone very early on within the first 10 minutes. We meet Hugh Glass (Leonardo DiCaprio) and his half-blood son Hawk (Forrest Goodluck) tracking down an animal. We immediately understand that these guys know what they’re doing. In the meantime we get a look at their camp of trappers and get introduced to John Fitzgerald (Tom Hardy) and Captain Andrew Henry (Domhnall Gleeson). When out of nowhere an ambush by native americans starts. This scene in particular is shot with very very few (if at all) cuts/edits. While we watch the brutality unfold and chaos break loose, Glass and his son arrive back in the camp, right when the battle is raging. We also get a glimpse of how the character of John Fitzgerald is ticking. Throughout this beautifully executed scene the audience gets an idea of how brutal battles like these must have been. The camp gets overrun while a small group of trappers manages to board a small boat and flee. They took everything they could with them and as soon as they decide to go on land, they hide the furs and pelts, they managed to grab when the ambush happened. There we get a great scene with Fitzgerald that draws out his character a little more. Up to that point we also learned more about the background of Glass and Hawk. The group trusts him and while we don’t get to see how Glass earned their trust, it is very clear that this group of men respects his suggestions and knowledge of the land. Only Fitzgerald seems to question Glass quite a bit. Glass decides to go scout ahead the area since he knows this region of the land very well. Then this (now famous) bear attack sequence happens. This is quite a vicious part. The brutality of nature or the message that nature doesn’t give a damn about who we are and what we do… if it gets the chance, it will destroy us. Glass barely survives the attack and the group decides to take him with them on a makeshift stretcher. Again we see how Fitzgerald is kind of opposing that idea and it’s understandable from his point of view. Glass was barely alive at that point. Captain Henry insists of taking Glass with them. In the meantime we learn that the earlier ambush wasn’t just random. Natives called The Arikara are looking for their Chief’s daughter, that was kidnapped. Which builds a nice dynamic throughout the movie since they’re never far behind of our hero. Even if our group of trappers didn’t actually kidnap that woman. With glass on a stretcher, and the terrain becoming more and more difficult, the group gets to a point where they consider leaving Glass behind. Fitzgerald is all for that and again it’s relatable. The party decides to leave Glass behind. The Captain offers a payment raise for 2 people that are willing to stay with Glass and give him a proper burial, should he die. Fitzgerald and a young man named Jim Bridger (Will Poulter) decide to stay behind with Glass and Hawk. While the main group tries to find a way through the mountains, which turns out difficult without Glass’s guidance. While Fitzgerald and Bridger practically wait for Glass to die. Then some bad stuff happens and the movie turns into one of the finest revenge movies ever made.
Enough about the story and more about the film itself. To make it short, I really enjoyed this movie. It kept me engaged throughout its 2 1/2 hours runtime and I never felt bored. Maybe the Oscars did cloud my judgement a little bit though. Especially in regards to Leonardo DiCaprio’s performance. While I do agree that his performance is really good, and something different from what we know him doing, I’m not with the general hype that he definitely had to get his first Oscar for that. I would have loved seeing him get one for his Django Unchained performance. I found Tom Hardy’s character much more interesting in comparison. He at least got an Oscar nomination for supporting role as well. And while awards are always a thing to argue about, I would have probably nominated him aside DiCaprio for Leading Role. We do see DiCaprio’s character go through hell and what he does makes you really feel for the character. But from an acting standpoint I found Tom Hardy more interesting. Yes, DiCaprio had to do a lot communication through facial expressions alone and he does that great here! But the character of Tom Hardy’s John Fitzgerald had some nice facettes as well. You could argue that he did nothing wrong. He didn’t have the best life and (like he says in the film) just tries to survive in a rather brutal environment. I can’t hold it against him when he’s looking out for himself. Of course the movie has a couple of scenes that clearly position Fitzgerald on the negative side of the spectrum. And that’s good because we certainly need a bad guy. But more often than not it’s the bad guy character that is more interesting than the good guy.
On the technical side of things it is a through and through admirable job they did with this film. The gritty realism gave weight to even the smallest things. A lot of face close ups that make you see a little bit of what’s going on in the characters heads. Great acting through the bench. I really enjoyed Domhnall Gleeson and Will Poulter too. The camera and reduced use of cuts and edits made this film flow very well. Especially the camera and lighting work is remarkable. Natural lighting all the way. CGI only when there was no other choice. The colorgrading may have been a little too much here and there but that’s a nitpick.
When the movie is over and you had a minute to reflect you might end up asking yourself what the message is. Revenge is the strongest force in the universe? Well, that may be the ultimate take away from this film. And I’m sure you can agree that it’s not really a good message to take away from this film or any film.
So what I did was to watch “A World Unseen”, a 45min documentary about the movie. It was released pretty much at the same time the movie came out. It has some great images too and talks about what ideas and influences fuel the movie. And the film made a little more sense after seeing that. The movie references a lot of things that relate to the world we live in now. It shows how early stages of capitalism started to take its toll on the environment and the people of the time. How greed can transform people into monsters. Even without their own fault. It’s the world we live in that transforms and shapes us. The movie talks about a lot of things that aren’t visible at first glance and that’s something I can only applaud for. We also get some nice interviews with the native american actors from the film and their views on history and what their world has become. “A World Unseen” is very insightful and a clear recommendation to round up the experience from the movie itself.
If you get a chance to see this film on the big screen. Take it. The images alone are worth it.
A clear recommendation.
This one was a plain just for fun thing, started quite a while ago. When playing around, I started to like it and things fell into place for the final result you can see there now. It was a quickie and nothing overly complicated. Even though I (as usual) got carried away a little. Originally I only wanted some scifi fighters sweeping over a landscape. Soon there was a larger ship added. And I when that ship told me it felt a little lonesome… I added another larger one. So everyone is happy now. However, I wanted to keep it simple. Thus it became a perfect entry into my comcept series.
Now what are we looking at here? Could be a group of destroyers flying off into a battle. Ready to deal some damage! :D Nothing too special.
Created with Vue, Worldmachine, Photoshop & Lightroom
For everyone who missed it or is just interested… the webinar, where I discussed and deconstructed the creation of my ‘From Here I Can Almost See The Stars’ piece, is now available (digital download in FullHD quality).
Find more info and the download here: https://digitalartlive.com/p…/vue_and_photoshop_masterclass/
It’s recorded in HD and has a runtime of 102 minutes.
Hope to see your there!
I started this one very late 2011 and thought I finished it early 2012. Well, not so much. While it was a rare attempt at creating a snow scene, with me actually being rather happy with it, I struggled with it a long time. Everytime I looked at it I found stuff I wasn’t happy with. So I fiddled with it over the years. However, it’s time to finally lay it aside and call it done.
The picture does not have a specific story behind it. I just wanted to try myself on snow. I’m fairly happy with the result and again learned something while working on this project. As usual I started with a plate I created with Vue. Rendered out the scene as well as various additional elements and combined it all in Photoshop. A lot of overpainting and fixing happened there (as usual).
Right now it’s really cold around here in Germany and a sweet little romantic snowy mountainside scene may lift the mood a bit. Snow can be a cool thing. Not so much in the city though. :)
Hope the pic makes you wish to be there as much as it makes me wish to be there. Winter in the city can be quite depressing. =)
5000×2334 – Vue – Photoshop – Lightroom