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#1 Keith Walters

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Posted 15 August 2009 - 03:14 AM

I have to admit I'm totally baffled by this film.

It has overwhelmingly positive reviews from critics, and I can only say I found it to be the most boring, idiotic and pretentious piece of cinematic tripe I've seen in the last 12 months. (Well, that I've paid full price plus snacks to see at any rate). Even Slumdog Millionaire was better than this.

It opened in Australia last Thursday, and at the 12:30PM session today (Saturday) when the lights went out there were SIX people in the audience (including me). When they came on again I was the only person left! It came perilously close to being zero patrons, but no, I went to see this because it's a Peter Jackson backed all-RED production and it was interested in the technical aspects.

The cinematography, as in framing and so on, was fine, apart from the now-irritatingly-ubiquitious shaky-cam that attempts to give it a documentary feel.

The CGI on the aliens was first-class, as you'd expect from Weta Digital. It looks like they used live actors in suits for most of the scenes with digital tidying-up in post. The aliens have a wasp-waist only about 6 inches in diameter and the matting of that against the background was absolutely flawless; I'd love to know how they actually did that. I don't think they're all-CGI, simply because if they were, they wouldn't have looked so much like men in rubber suits :lol:

Overally, the picture has the same "tired" digital look that every other digitallly shot movie I've seen seems to have. Routine blown-out exteriors, the same perenially "overcast" skies, actually caused by pixel overload. On a couple of scenes it looked liked they experimented with some sort of blue graduated filters to try to correct this, which looked every bit as convincing as the "Autumn" forest colours on Knowing.

None of this really impacts on the production itself, by the way; it would have been just as awful no matter what it was shot on.

As for the acting, they were all competent enough, but it seemed like they all tried too hard to convey a sense of: " Look folks, we're only kidding. I know the story is silly but this meant to be a witty farce, after all, so cut us some slack..."

US viewers may have trouble coping with the over-the-top South African accents, which are laid on like six inches of foam rubber.

Ironically, they had subtitles whenever black shantytown guys were speaking English, and I could understand then a whole lot better than the white people most of the time!

The story would have been reasonable, except that key aspects of the situation change dramatically as the movie unfolds, for no adequately explained reason.

In a nutshell, I thought it started out like an episode of Flight of the Conchords (but nowhere near as funny) and turned into a (very) poor man's Transformers.
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#2 Keith Walters

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Posted 15 August 2009 - 03:49 AM

Oh, yes, the other interesting aspect is that this is a Sony Pictures release. So much for the oft-repeated notion that Sony are somehow applying pressure to stop people using the RED.

I've been reading some of the negative reviews on RottenTomatoes and elsewhere, and the responses they've been getting. Do I detect the faint but acrid stench of AstroTurf...?
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#3 Freya Black

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Posted 15 August 2009 - 06:53 AM

I have to admit I'm totally baffled by this film.

It has overwhelmingly positive reviews from critics, and I can only say I found it to be the most boring, idiotic and pretentious piece of cinematic tripe I've seen in the last 12 months. (Well, that I've paid full price plus snacks to see at any rate). Even Slumdog Millionaire was better than this.

It opened in Australia last Thursday, and at the 12:30PM session today (Saturday) when the lights went out there were SIX people in the audience (including me). When they came on again I was the only person left! It came perilously close to being zero patrons, but no, I went to see this because it's a Peter Jackson backed all-RED production and it was interested in the technical aspects.


Wow! I'm kind of sad to hear this. I thought it looked kind of interesting from the trailer and I felt conceptually it could have been good. :(

Sounds like a wasted opportunity. :(

I was going to say that Duncan Jones Moon is supposed to be really good intelligent sci-fi, but I'm not sure if it has been released in Australia. It's quite hard to see outside of the states. Here in the UK they seem to feel theres no guns or explosions so it's a waste of time and it's a UK production so has to be bad, so it's not had much of a release whereas in the states it's even been doing slightly better than "the hurt locker"!!

It's all shot on film tho so probaly not so useful for checking out techie stuff tho.

In a nutshell, I thought it started out like an episode of Flight of the Conchords (but nowhere near as funny) and turned into a (very) poor man's Transformers.


"Transformers"?!! Ouch!

That sounds harsh. You mean the first transformers movie right, not transformers 2? Surely it can't be anything like THAT bad?

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#4 Freya Black

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Posted 15 August 2009 - 06:59 AM

The CGI on the aliens was first-class, as you'd expect from Weta Digital. It looks like they used live actors in suits for most of the scenes with digital tidying-up in post. The aliens have a wasp-waist only about 6 inches in diameter and the matting of that against the background was absolutely flawless; I'd love to know how they actually did that. I don't think they're all-CGI, simply because if they were, they wouldn't have looked so much like men in rubber suits :lol:


I'm guessing they shot plates of the background without any actors in and then either keyed the aliens in or possibly roto'd
them out and onto the background plate.

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#5 John Young

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Posted 15 August 2009 - 06:06 PM

Yes, Yes, and more Yes.


Just got back from seeing this with my father.

now-irritatingly-ubiquitous shaky-cam



I've said it once, and I'll say it till someone makes a good picture. Set the camera on a tripod, and WALK AWAY!
Holy crap, I shout this at the TV every night, then promptly change the channel and watch something that was made
50 years ago because they don't shake the camera.

I can only say I found it to be the most boring, idiotic and pretentious piece of cinematic tripe I've seen in the last 12 months

Agreed 100%. This story could have been good. It could have been a REALLY great film. But, I think they just wanted to show off how many
terabytes they could use. Transformers used close to 150. I wonder if they got that far.

Why can't anyone just present a nice Sci-fi narrative that looks decent? Even the new Star Trek falls prey to this, and I half way liked that one.

I do have to say, that while the theatre I saw it in presented the film in 1.85:1, matted in the projector with dust all about the gate, I didn't see
the usual detractions from digital production in which I hate. So I may be a fan of the RED after all.
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#6 Keith Walters

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Posted 15 August 2009 - 06:59 PM

Yes, Yes, and more Yes.


Just got back from seeing this with my father.



I've said it once, and I'll say it till someone makes a good picture. Set the camera on a tripod, and WALK AWAY!
Holy crap, I shout this at the TV every night, then promptly change the channel and watch something that was made
50 years ago because they don't shake the camera.


Agreed 100%. This story could have been good. It could have been a REALLY great film. But, I think they just wanted to show off how many
terabytes they could use. Transformers used close to 150. I wonder if they got that far.

Why can't anyone just present a nice Sci-fi narrative that looks decent? Even the new Star Trek falls prey to this, and I half way liked that one.

I do have to say, that while the theatre I saw it in presented the film in 1.85:1, matted in the projector with dust all about the gate, I didn't see
the usual detractions from digital production in which I hate. So I may be a fan of the RED after all.


I didn't mean to imply the photography was hopless, it's more that it just looked like any other digital production I've seen. The film only had a $30 million budget, so I guess you can forgive them for that.

I'm just baffled why so many critics think this is such a great film.

Probably the biggest turn off-for the other 5 patrons was the tedious shaky-cam "doco" info-dump intro. It went on far too long, and I suspect they baled out while they had a chance to sneak into some other film in the multiplex.

The "message" was that this is a Cliver Settire on the Apartheid system, excipt we replayce "Kaffir" with "Prawn". (Seth Effricans heve thus ermazung way uv saying the werrd "Prawn" - sort of "PerrOrrW-un" said real fast).

Yeah, I think we got that after the first two minutes, chaps.

It reminds me of some of the truly awful movies that they used to make in New Zealand (probably still do), where clumsy and obvious satire is laid on not so much with a trowel, more like a cement-render gun, to cover up a pissweak story that would been stretched to make a 5 minute short. But I guess, (as in Australia), if you don't thoroughly fertilize a script with several bags of well-rotted Political Correctness, you can forget about Government assistance....

The stupidest aspect of District 9 (of many stupid aspects) is that for 20 years there's been this alien spaceship parked over Jo'berg, and we've been able to get into it for almost that long, but the only people seemingly interested in investigating the awesome technology it must contain, is a two-bit South African armaments company.
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#7 Justin Hayward

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Posted 15 August 2009 - 08:19 PM

Wow, you all are real critics!

When the credits rolled, all I could think is this was a weird freak'n movie. I checked my watch at about an hour in and was shocked that the main character was the main character, which is a testament to how subtly they lured us into the film. For that, I liked it. Not to mention the flawless special FX and complete originality.
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#8 Thomas James

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Posted 15 August 2009 - 11:49 PM

Doesn't Red have an optical image stabilization system? With all this supposedly high technology you are stuck with manual focus and manual iris control .
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#9 Ruairi Robinson

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Posted 16 August 2009 - 12:52 AM

Doesn't Red have an optical image stabilization system? With all this supposedly high technology you are stuck with manual focus and manual iris control .



Yeah, and how come they don't put training wheels on Ducati's?

R.
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#10 Jake Iesu

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Posted 16 August 2009 - 06:20 AM

Hmm Interesting view.
I liked it alot. Yes, the camera shake could have been used a little less I agree and also the accents May have been a little over the top to begin with but honestly what did you expect? Lord of the rings with extra terrestrials? I thought the way they intercut documentary footage with the live action was very well done as was the Edit on the whole. It was photographed well except for a little too much shake and the performances were quite believable and of course absolutly top notch CGI. To put this on a similar level to Transformers is ludicrous. This was how transformers should have been done.

Edited by Jake Iesu, 16 August 2009 - 06:22 AM.

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#11 Keith Walters

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Posted 16 August 2009 - 06:30 AM

Hmm Interesting view.
I liked it alot. Yes, the camera shake could have been used a little less I agree and also the accents May have been a little over the top to begin with but honestly what did you expect? Lord of the rings with extra terrestrials? I thought the way they intercut documentary footage with the live action was very well done as was the Edit on the whole. It was photographed well except for a little too much shake and the performances were quite believable and of course absolutly top notch CGI. To put this on a similar level to Transformers is ludicrous. This was how transformers should have been done.


I'm not sure who you're talking to when you say: "To put this on a similar level to Transformers is ludicrous"
If you mean me, I never made any such statement. As a low-budget film project, it's a respectable enough effort (aside from the script). It is what it is.
What I can't understand is why so many critics are heaping such effusive praise on it.
It will be very interesting to see how it actually does in the box office.

Edited by Keith Walters, 16 August 2009 - 06:32 AM.

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#12 John Young

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Posted 16 August 2009 - 07:51 AM

If you mean me, I never made any such statement

.

I think he is talking about me, when I was comparing the data usage between Transformers 2, and District 9.
It was, of course, not a fair comparison because the Transformers 2 material was shot on 15-perf 65mm, took 72 hours per frame to render,
and used almost 150 terabytes of storage space.
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#13 Freya Black

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Posted 16 August 2009 - 08:10 AM

Why can't anyone just present a nice Sci-fi narrative that looks decent? Even the new Star Trek falls prey to this, and I half way liked that one.


Like I said before, Moon , Moon, Moon.

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#14 Steve McBride

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Posted 16 August 2009 - 12:19 PM

.

I think he is talking about me, when I was comparing the data usage between Transformers 2, and District 9.
It was, of course, not a fair comparison because the Transformers 2 material was shot on 15-perf 65mm, took 72 hours per frame to render,
and used almost 150 terabytes of storage space.

Someone got this month's AC. I was amazed when I read about the 150TB storage space used as well as the 72-hour renter time for a frame, completely ridiculous.

Personally I liked the movie. I'm not the kind of person who follows politics and all of that kind of undertones in movies just go over my head, so I was watching really just for the story and the cinematography which I think besides the shaky cam was very good.
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#15 Justin Hayward

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Posted 16 August 2009 - 03:07 PM

I understand the shaky-cam tends bother people, but in this case the filmmakers would have made a different movie without it. I mean, a huge part of the pitch (somewhat like Clover Field) is the documentary POV. Obviously they could have shot it more traditionally, but good, bad, or the other, it wouldn’t have been the movie it is and the movie this director chose to make. It’s not like they were just too lazy to stick the camera on a tri-pod.

These kinds of criticisms don’t sit well with me, because it feels like we’re telling someone their favorite color is the wrong favorite color to have. Too subjective.
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#16 Paul Bruening

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Posted 16 August 2009 - 06:22 PM

Doesn't this always end up with the "suspension of disbelief" concept? For me, I was sufficiently involved with the story and characters to not be distracted by the shakey-cam. I guess that means that the cam work enhanced instead of distracted for this viewer. I usually hate shakey-cam, as well.

I don't really like dig-acq as a rule. I wasn't enjoying it here. However, I think it sets a lower standard of visual quality that now makes the CGI seem a little more acceptable. That is to say, if the image seems synthetic then the CGI doesn't stand out as being as synthetic.

I was a little impressed at how well the movie maintained a tension level in me for so much of the time. Likewise, I was impressed by how well the movie involved me with the principle alien character. The ending was emotionally ambiguous for such a commercial venture. I guess I respect the creators' courage for not going for a predictable and universally pleasing ending
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#17 Keith Walters

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Posted 16 August 2009 - 07:11 PM

Someone got this month's AC. I was amazed when I read about the 150TB storage space used as well as the 72-hour renter time for a frame, completely ridiculous.

72 hours per frame? What exactly does that mean?
A 120 minute movie contains 172,800 frames.
At three days per frame, it would take 1,420 years to render, at least with a single-channel rendering computer.
So, either only parts of it were done like that, or they’ve got one mother of a Render Farm down there :huh:
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#18 Keith Walters

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Posted 16 August 2009 - 07:13 PM

The ending was emotionally ambiguous for such a commercial venture. I guess I respect the creators' courage for not going for a predictable and universally pleasing ending

The ending was about the only part of he script I liked.
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#19 Ruairi Robinson

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Posted 16 August 2009 - 09:04 PM

72 hours per frame? What exactly does that mean?
A 120 minute movie contains 172,800 frames.
At three days per frame, it would take 1,420 years to render, at least with a single-channel rendering computer.
So, either only parts of it were done like that, or they’ve got one mother of a Render Farm down there :huh:



I means that the longest, most complex frame in the entire project took 72 hours to render, but even in the same shot, every other frame took less time, and spread across a render farm of 2000 or so machines, it made no appreciable difference to the deadline, whatsoever. In a sequence of 1000 frames (however unlikely that Bay holds any shot for that long) the whole thing would render in 36 hours at worst. Probably much less.

Also it means that whoever set up the render didn't do a very good of optimizing the scene.

This used to be something VFX people bragged about, I'm surprised they still bother.

Re: D9 Whatever little flaws you can nitpick at, at least they made the movie they wanted to make, and didn't bow to pressure to soft-pedal it or whatever. You gotta admire that.

I loved the film. I thought it was the best sci fi action movie I've seen in a long, long time. Blomkamp is a really talented guy, and deserves all the success he will undoubtedly receive.

Best,
R.
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#20 Keith Walters

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Posted 16 August 2009 - 09:53 PM

Re: D9 Whatever little flaws you can nitpick at, at least they made the movie they wanted to make, and didn't bow to pressure to soft-pedal it or whatever. You gotta admire that.

I loved the film. I thought it was the best sci fi action movie I've seen in a long, long time. Blomkamp is a really talented guy, and deserves all the success he will undoubtedly receive.

Best,
R.


I've only just now worked out why this film has received such overwhelming critical approval.
I'm not going to discuss it further here because I will only get flamed, but Jim Jannard is onto a winner at last.
(As in there is finally a RED-shot film he can legitimately brag about. Maybe now he'll get round to updating the www.red.com website).

I'll only make one prediction: I'll bet it doesn't do anywhere near as well in Australia and New Zealand.

I'm thinking this could turn into greatest box-office achievement since "The Passion of the Christ," for very similar reasons... B)
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