Solo: A Star Wars Story – Movie Review

June 17th, 2018

movie reviewI have rarely seen a film that the press covered in such detail before it came out. The film did have some serious production issues with the original director duo (The guys who did the Lego Movie) being fired shortly after shooting of the film began. Creative differences they said. They brought Ron Howard on board. A solid director with a solid track record (I love Apollo 13). Then there were constant bad news about the Han Solo actor Alden Ehrenreich. Reports that they gave him an acting coach because his performance seemed not appropriate and good enough. Then the fans that constantly voiced their negative stance on the production as a whole. Tumultuous would be a word to perfectly describe the history of the film so far. Now what’s the result? Is the end product even a movie?

Han Solo. One of the most iconic movie characters ever created. The decision to make a standalone movie about him was seen critical from the get go. Even if it was the logical next step for Disney to do a Han Solo movie. Everyone expected it and a lot of people still complained when it was announced and happening. I was indifferent. What I knew was that the film would at least end up being entertaining. I also knew that we would finally get a different perspective on the SW universe. Not the ever grand perspective of Jedi or Sith… Rebels or Empire… no, we wanted to see something of the every day/every mans life in that universe. This movie kind of delivers on that. And sure, why not? The character of Han Solo needs and demands that backdrop.

The biggest thing of course… who would be casted to play Han Solo? I have seen so many youtube video titles reporting about that… insane. And pretty much all of them complained about the casting of Alden Ehrenreich. These people haven’t even seen the film and base their opinions solely on news that may or may not be true. Who knows? And even if it’s a sacrilege… yes, I thought Alden Ehrenreich did a nice job! Eat it, you crazy SW fans! He did perfectly fine and I’ll stay with that opinion, no matter what. I don’t know what people expect. There’s no young Harrison Ford out there. You simply can’t replicate his performance 1 to 1. Ford even admitted that SW never really was his cup of tea. So even the performance of the original actor probably wasn’t the best. Even if we all loved it, it was just fine for the part, nothing more. So yes, Ehrenreich did a fine enough job too. The only thing I would have loved to see more of would be Han’s more sleazy side. The character of the young Han Solo as portrayed in this film is a little ‘too good’.

We start on Corellia. A SW location long overdue for a visual treatment. Young Han (Alden Ehrenreich) is part of a gang of thieves trying to survive. Together with Qi’ra (Emilia Clarke) he dreams of leaving the place and make something of his life. Both soon get a once in a lifetime opportunity. Due to unfortunate events both become separated and are forced to go their own ways. Due to circumstances Han is forced to join the Empire. One of the more interesting parts of the film. Seeing an infantry war from the imperial side. Some good scenes here with dense (similar to WW1) war imagery. We all know that Han has problems with authorities and so the empire isn’t really his thing. During a battle he teams up with Beckett (Woody Harrelson) and his crew. Beckett is using the chaos of the battle to steal stuff from the empire. A desperate Han tries to join them. Before he can… we see how he meets up with Chewbacca (Joonas Suotamo). Han and Chewie join Becketts crew. Together they go on a heist mission that goes wrong. They have to justify their failure to a client called Dryden Vos (Paul Bettany). Dryden is a pretty big name criminal and a dangerous enemy to have. Much to Han’s surprise he meets Qi’ra on Dryden’s ship. Quite some time has passed and Qi’ra isn’t exactly the person we know from the beginning of the film anymore. Dryden gives them a second chance with another job and sends Qi’ra with them. In all honesty… I would have been fine with a little less Emilia Clarke in this film. She’s a piece of wood. I don’t really see her appeal as an actress. For said job they need a new ship and find out that a certain Lando Calrissian (Donald Glover) loves to gamble a lot. Han joins a game and manages to win Lando’s ship. The Millennium Falcon. Now that the whole gang of small time criminals found together, they start to go for the job. The infamous Kessel Run! In less than 12 parsecs? How can that even work?! Well, they made it possible. That’s the part with the coolest visuals and some solid action pieces. Let’s just say they survive it and leave the synopsis there. Overall it’s a nice and fun plot that changes locations quite a bit. Which is a welcome thing to have as long as it doesn’t get confusing. Which it doesn’t in this film.

Could it have been a better movie? Yes, it probably could have. I’m of the opinion that they need to give the writers more time to come up with interesting stuff! We don’t need two SW movies per year. It’s ridiculous. The good thing is that we don’t actually see how troubled the production of the film was. It has a good solid flow with some minor pacing issues here and there. The visual presentation was very dark at times. A look I would have wished for in Rogue One… but not really in a Han Solo movie. I’m sure they had their reasons for the dark presentation but more often than not it blocks the opportunities to see the rich detail of the sets and stuff in general. Which is a shame because there definitely is a rich detail going on. After some harsh critique for that… they might fix that for the Bluray release, I hope. Another downside were some cringeworthy fanservice moments. The film also spells out too many things. Seems to not have enough confidence in the brains of the audience. I liked the fact that the film had a rather quiet ending. Not the usual big battle.

To answer the question from earlier, yes it is a movie. It’s not even a bad one! But it’s also nothing more than ‘fine’ for what it wants to be. The film certainly has some glaring weak points. But the overall experience was positive and I’m certain I’ll revisit this first adventure with a younger Han Solo. And Disney… please do not try to re-cast Han Solo. Ehrenreich did a good job and he will most certainly grow into it over time.

No masterpiece but a solid and entertaining piece of film.

7.6/10

Solo: A Star Wars Story on IMDb

Shrine Of The Unknown Huntress

June 6th, 2018



Shrine Of The Unknown Huntress

“Many tales, in all kinds of shapes, forms and variations, covered the deeds of this fine lady and ignited a revolutionary fire which the galaxy will tell tales that will echo through the ages – even in thousands of years.”

Cassandra’s Book, 3:29

Here we have something highly experimental (for me) again. Much like my “The Hidden” piece, this one was done with help of Mandelbulb3d. I found a neat scene whilep laying with it, rendered out several passes of it and did some Photoshop magic. I also used Vue to bring in these monumental statues. The look of it is really different compared to my usual stuff and I really enjoy how it turned out.

When working on this piece, I decided to make a loose series, that is based on my “The Unknown Huntress” artwork. What if the lady belongs to an ancient old collective or cult of warrior ladies that kind of work from the shadows and shape the civilizations of the universe. A variation on the Assassins Creed story of sorts and not superbly original, I admit. But more based in a fantasy related universe. I found it tempting and decided to go with it. =D The location we see in this pic definitely belongs to a Scifi setting. Something completely different from the first (The Unknown Huntress) picture. Maybe a gigantic temple, honoring highly decorated members of the past. A place for the members to visit and gather some spiritual energy for upcoming missions or events.

7000×2996 – Mandelbulb3d – Vue – Photoshop – Lightroom

Mandelbulb Plate

Part of AURORA: AURORA Exhibit II

wallpapers available

The artwork on:
DeviantartArtstationCGSociety

Regards

signed

Aurora – Exhibit II

June 3rd, 2018

Project Aurora - Exhibit II

The Luminarium & The Cosmosys Collective invite you to a trip to boost your imagination and inspiration! Members of the two artgroups sat down and decided to do a crossover Exhibit. Represented is art created with all kinds of techniques in all kinds of fields. A healthy variety… how I would call it. I’m included with four pieces that definitely (hopefully) show some neat quality and variety! =D The exhibit has the extension RED because at some point someone in the group thought it would be a cool thing to focus the art on something. Overall the the exhibit is freestyle but most tried to do something with the colour red in it. This certainly gave us some great results! Thanks to everyone involved and especially the people who did the organisational stuff in the background!

Go check it out and share it!

Project Aurora Project Aurora Website
The Exhibit on Behance

Regards
signed

Avengers: Infinity War – Movie Review

May 21st, 2018

movie reviewThe very fact, that this movie even became a reality, can only be applauded at this point. I tip my hat to what Marvel Studios achieved in the past 10 years. They carefully crafted storylines for all these different superheroes to lead into this first part, of a two part (kind of finale), movie. Who would have thought that all these different superheroes would even work for an audience? Back then I was more than skeptical when they announced a Thor movie! Well, the first one wasn’t too amazing but still worked in bringing this universe closer together. The more fantasy and magic based stuff in the Thor storyline enabled a Doctor Strange movie for example. Another character that most people didn’t even know existed. Plus so many characters that didn’t get their own film and were introduced along the way. It very rarely did not work. And that’s fairly amazing. The downside is… you will be completely lost watching this film, without having an idea what else happened throughout the other films. The upside is… they did not need to waste time introducing characters and jumped right into the story.

The bigger weakness of all the past movies were the villains, the bad guys. In this film we finally get a baddy that comes with the full package. Thanos (Josh Brolin) has a compelling backstory and a motivation that is relateable. That instantly makes him much more dangerous because you don’t really know what he’ll do. He’s not a cliche. His set of motivations can lead to different outcomes and his relationship to Gamora (Zoe Zaldana) is almost heart breaking. Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr.) still struggles with PTSD from what happened in the previous Avengers films. And rightfully so. A lot of stuff happened and some deal with it better than others. So there are some real life issues tackled by this film. Which is always a good thing to have, since it allows the audience to connect much better with the material they see now and have seen in the past. Every film made the previous films better. Most of them managed to build on each other and overall made the universe as a whole richer.

The film starts pretty much where we left off with Thor: Ragnarok. Right off the bat we are confronted with Thanos and get a taste of his powers. Thanos is looking for six infinity stones. Each stone has a specific power that would allow him to literally control the universe and what its made of. We follow Thanos collecting these stones. Which actually makes him the main character of this film. The Avengers themselfes often feel like they aren’t actually the main part of the film. The heavier and more meaningful parts always include Thanos. I really enjoyed the depth they gave him. Of course we get to see our heroes do their hero stuff and it’s fantastically choreographed action sequences. I rarely lost oversight of what was going on and the way they shot these sequences works nicely. A lot of ‘tag team’ action where our heroes combine their abilitys and powers. They did that very nicely in the past and continue to do that here in the best possible ways. To get all these characters into one big film is a task. Especially to give them all something to do! Naturally some are more reduced to just being there, while others get larger moments to shine. Captain America (Chris Evans) felt very flat this time. Which he never was in the past. He was always one of the more interesting characters. So looking at the end of the film it can be argued that the old guard will get their moments in the second film. While the newer characters got their action in this first movie to take a step back in the next. Due to all these heroes doing stuff, the film jumps around quite a bit too. Lots of different locations. Which, in other films could have been problematic, but here it kept the whole thing fresh, in regards to the long running time of the film, another accomplishment. The different locations also helped to keep the heroes divided (which normally sucks but was clearly necessary here) into groups. These pairings were thought out very well and enabled some inspired scenes and interactions. They clearly had their fun writing these parts.

I wasn’t super hyped for this film. I still haven’t seen Spiderman: Homecoming and Black Panther. I even contemplated not watching Infinity War before I watched these two. I figured that I haven’t watched all the other films (over 10 years) for nothing and that I really deserved watching Infinity War in big and with superb sound. The theater was almost empty and it was perfect! =D I also thought that the two films I missed did not seem to have a too big story impact on Infinity War. Luckily I was right. This film worked for me.

Are there some negative points to this film? Yes. It is very long. 150 minutes were definitely needed to tell that story but it’s still very long. The ending feels very abrupt. Thanos is entirely CGI and in some parts it does show. Even though they did a very good job for most of the time. Half (if not more) of this film is entirely CGI… why not go full CGI at this point? I ask the same question with the Transformers film every single time. Near the end there is a scene with Bruce Banner (Mark Ruffalo) in the Hulkbuster armour and it looks like shit. Sorry, whoever worked on that part, it looks really really badly integrated. But I digress. I’m still no fan of the music/score in these films. Yes, the Avengers theme is somewhat memorable but the rest is/feels like noise. I don’t like the Avengers theme. It doesn’t feel epic at all. It’s just good enough to serve its purpose. Like pretty much all the music in these Marvel movies. That’s still a shame.

So yes, this movie is the spectacle everyone wanted and even a little more. My surprise is Thanos. I liked him a lot. I know, he’s the bad guy but still, finally a bad guy that has some gravitas. I saw the film in 2D and Dolby Atmos sound… it was perfect. No 3D needed. I’m event interested in the upcoming Captain Marvel and Infinity War 2 now. Another accomplishement!

7.7/10

Avengers: Infinity War on IMDb

Dunkirk – Movie Review

May 13th, 2018

movie reviewAfter finally seeing it at home, I kind of regret not having seen it on the big screen, in a theater. Christopher Nolan certainly knows how to put together a film with great images. Images that suck you in and create a dense feel for the atmosphere he intents for his films. Dunkirk has these images as well and creates an almost ghostly feel throughout the entire picture. It’s a film that makes you want to say that it’s a typical Nolan movie. But that’s not entirely right. Now if you would break it all down it would probably point to a lot of ‘Nolanisms’… stuff you can find in every one of his films. But it still feels very different. I was disappointed by Interstellar. I felt he wanted to do too much stuff in there that he’s not exactly the best guy for. Dunkirk was perfect for him.

It’s 1940. British, belgian and french soldiers are trapped and surrounded by the germans on the beaches of Dunkirk. After a failed offensive to free france, almost 400000 soldiers are trapped by a german military at its peak of efficiency. Evacuation moves slowly due to constant bombing runs and submarine attacks. Up to a point where the british don’t want to spare ships anymore and start to requisit and send out civilian vessels to get the soldiers out. History. From what can be found/read, it’s safe to say, the film treated the historical events fairly accurate.

What really sticks out is the ghostly presentation. Especially some of the beach scenes are shot in a way that shows the soldiers more as shadows instead of appearing like real people. Combined with the underplayed, humming music by Hans Zimmer it creates a very special atmosphere. It is no typical war movie with lots of action and explosions. Instead we get a closer look at the soldiers and how they tried to get away from an almost certain death by german forces coming closer and closer to the beach. The constant fear of Luftwaffe attacks and their bombers.

Technically we get 3 movies in one. All three of them different and interesting in their own ways. First we get the soldier story. Here we follow three soldiers on their journey trying to get home. The second piece follows a man, his son and a friend that embark to save some soldiers with their ship. The third part shows two RAF pilots who try to keep ships safe from Luftwaffe bombing runs. Of course all these parts come together at one point. There are time differences in their stories though. I had no problems following the strings but I can imagine this to be a little problematic for an audience that’s not fully ‘there’. All three parts give a nice shift in perspective and the editing to keep everything in a good flow works very good. It surely wasn’t easy to edit all the elements, so the audience doesn’t get confuse. Same goes for the filming. Scenes you experience with the fighter pilots earlier, do come back later, from a different perspective, but you recognize the connection due to behaviour of the planes and their moves. That’s masterfully done.

Due to the different parts and the way they are presented, we end up with some inconsistencies here and there. Especially when it comes to the weather and light situations. Granted… it’s pretty much always stormy weather and so the lighting situations between scenes naturally differ from scene to scene. But in some parts the difference are a little too obvious. That’s just a minor nitpick though. That’s what happens when you film on location and not in a studio.

So ultimately this film comes almost appears like an experimental film. Its appearance for a war movie is very different. There are pretty much no heroes in this film. Except for one character maybe. Don’t expect a super bombastic movie. Nonetheless it’s quite fantastic, relevant and a good watch.

7.9/10

Dunkirk on IMDb

Parsec City

May 10th, 2018



Parsec City

Not too much to say about this one. Originally a commission, I did have some real fun with it. Earlier this year the rights fell back to me and so I decided to show it to the world! The pic is four years old and the cool thing is that it holds up. I still really enjoy this piece.

Vue – DAZStudio – Photoshop – Lightroom

Concepts

Atmosphere Study

wallpapers available

Regards

signed

Vue Basics Tutorial on Artstation

May 9th, 2018

Vue Basics - Tutorial

A while ago I was approached by none other than one of the (if not THE) biggest websites for digital art professionals. In the recent past they ventured out a little and try to also bring people tutorial/walkthrough videos to certain software packages. Now it seems I’m known for using Vue quite a bit. =) So they were asking for a quick run through the tool and what it’s able to do. I sat down and took “Port Fenster“, one of the projects in my Endeavours series, to help me explain the strengths of Vue. Maybe I’ll get the chance to cover some more detailed stuff in a later video. For now we have the basics. Enjoy! =)

Find the video: here

This video is sponsored by the fine folks at E-On Software, the creators of Vue! And, of course, Artstation. Big thanks to both!

Regards
signed

A Quiet Place – Movie Review

May 5th, 2018

movie reviewAfter hearing a number of good things about this film, I decided to grab a good friend of mine and have good evening! I did not have this film on my radar too much. Only recently it created a blip on said radar and the film’s runtime, of just 90 minutes, looked very attractive to me. Now if you have seen the trailer you probably understand what the film is about. A world where sound can be your end. Did they manage to create a believable world for that concept and do the performances work? Let’s see.

As far as I understand it’s the second movie by John Krasinski. An actor who made his name by being part of the US version of ‘The Office’. Which I have never seen a single episode of. But I know the British original and the German version. So he’s clearly coming from a comedy angle/background. He recently ventured out and tried himself on other stuff and, from what I can gather, with success. He’s a very charismatic actor and, it seems, very talented director as well. “A quiet place” certainly leaves an impression!

The movie follows family Abott, in a world that’s gone quiet. Evelyn (Emily Blunt), Lee (John Krasinski), Regan (Millicent Simmonds), Marcus (Noah Jupe) and Beau (Cade Woodward). Throughout the film we get some hints to what happened to this world, and very early on are confronted with the tragedies that are possible in this world. Evelyn and Lee do their best to protect their children from this world. And certainly try to prepare them for a life in this world. Therefore it is very easy to slip into the skin of all the characters and their thought process behind every decision they have to make. The script is also smart enough to show and explain how they manage to survive in this world. The subject matter and the execution of the film is very efficient and only goes into detail where it’s absolutely necessary. It does not talk down to its audience and wants the audience to connect certain things on their own. And no, it’s not a complicated film. It is easy to follow. Still, so many films nowadays find it necessary to explain even the most unimportant details. Not so here. And it’s welcome.

As soon as the film starts we understand that the environment the Abotts live in will demand sacrifices and we’re waiting for them to happen. We’re with the family until the end and the film fokusses purely on them. So we see how they manage to live their daily life and what obstacles they have to overcome. The characters are believable and the actors get as much out of the script as possible. Which is great acting by all involved since there really isn’t too much dialogue between the characters going on. Emily Blunt and John Krasinski have good chemistry and it’s nice to see Emily Blunt in a horror movie. She can literally do anything. She’s that good. And John Krasinski, with this film, will put himself on a list for not only hip actors but directors as well. I’m certainly interested in where he’s going next.

So yes, it is a good film. There are some small down sides though. Like so many horror movies these days, we get a number of jump scares here as well. Unfortunately most (not all) these jump scares feel very constructed and just being there for the sake of being there. A tiny bit more info about how the world turned into this mess would have been nice too. Maybe one or two lines. Not more. As stated earlier I did welcome the condensed runtime of the film. But 5-8 more minutes to create some more atmosphere would have maybe worked out nice too. But that really is a minor nitpick. The film, at no point, felt rushed.

It certainly was an interesting experience watching such a quiet film in a dark theater. Probably the best way watching this film! So if you can still catch it… try to!

7.7/10

A Quiet Place on IMDb

Into The Distance – Webinar

April 16th, 2018

Into The Distance - Webinar

Here a couple of infos to the upcoming Digital Art Live Webinar next Saturday & Sunday. In our past webinars we used to go for a more theory based approach. I talked about the creative process of how one of my artworks was done. In the upcoming Webinar we decided to for a more organic and practical approach. Not just talking about stuff… but also showing how it’s done. Therefore we scheduled two shows since it will definitely take a little more time to go through the various things. There will be a couple of shortcuts here and there but we will cover the main aspects of the scene in detail. Of course feedback and questions throughout the show are welcome and will be covered and discussed if possible.

The best thing about it? It’s FREE!

If you are interested and you want to participate go here and register for the event. The webinar will take place in a Fuze meeting and you will get all info via email. You need to install the client software but you don’t require an account to attend the Webinar! You will also get the room number via email before the show starts.

Find the registration page: here

Part One – Start Time: 20:00 BST (London)/21:00 GMT (Berlin)/12:00 PDT (Los Angeles)/15:00 EDT (New York) – The duration is estimated to 1.5 to 2hrs. Saturday, April 21st 2018!

Part Two – Start Time: 20:00 BST (London)/21:00 GMT (Berlin)/12:00 PDT (Los Angeles)/15:00 EDT (New York) – The duration is estimated to 1.5 to 2hrs. Sunday, April 22st 2018!

This event is sponsored by the fine folks at E-On Software, the creators of Vue! Big thanks to them!

Introduction:

The Artist, Project Info, Used Hardware

JSplacement:

Creating abstract heightfields

Vue:

Importing heightfields, Setting up the terrain, Ecosystems, Adding buildings, Additional detail... and more

Photoshop:

Compositing, File Setup, Exploit hidden detail with Multipass renders...and more

See you there!

Regards
signed

XPrize: Terminal

April 15th, 2018



Terminal

Mid last year I had the pleasure to create some work for “Seat 14c” – a scifi shortstory event, held by the XPrize folks. This particular image belongs to a short story by Kevin J. Anderson. Now this is very special to me since I’ve read and really enjoyed some of his books in the past. So his name was very familiar to me. Having the honour to grace one of his stories with an artwork of mine is amazing! At first I was a little overwhelmed but after reading the story I quickly kind of knew where I wanted to go with the cover image. A dream world kind of environment. Things started to fall into place and I got a scene that is very different from what I did so far. It definitely leaves a very abstract impression but in context of the story it does make sense. =)

8000×4500 – Vue – DAZStudio – Photoshop – Lightroom

wallpapers available

The artwork on:
DeviantartArtstationCGSociety

Regards

signed