Saturday, May 29, 2010

Fresh Homemade 3D--Straight from Your Own Computer

If you've been following the news that has been circulating through the home video market, 3D television has finally arrived for the general consumer. Following hot on the heels of James Cameron's blockbuster 3D film Avatar last December, video equipment companies such as Panasonic, Samsung and Sony have been slowly releasing 3D-ready blu-ray players and flat screen TVs, with the promise of compatible 3D video content (both in broadcast and on disc) arriving in the near future. I've seen an in-store display of a Samsung blu-ray player/flat screen bundle which was playing the 3D blu-ray version of Monsters vs. Aliens. I was very impressed with what I saw--the images were crisp and smoothly achived the illusion of depth, while the shutter glasses fit well over my own glasses.

Unfortunately, there are two big problems facing the release of this particular wave of home 3D products: high prices (this stuff ain't cheap, folks) and lack of content. Some alternatives are available that you can use to bide your time until home 3D comes into its own as an affordable, high-quality entertainment option with an ample selection of content. There are cheap field sequential converters avaiable which will allow you to watch full-color 3D on your TV and computer (more about that later). Yet while this kind of field sequential 3D does have some DVDs available in this format, many of these titles are obscure, low-budget cheapies that don't hold up to repeat viewings (or even a single viewing, depending on the title). The best option would be to take the DVD titles which are already available in the anaglyph (i.e., red and blue) format and make them field sequential-ready. Fortunately, there is a way to do this, thanks to Underground 3D Cinema. Read on . . .

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Deca Trek-A-Thon Coming to DC

For all of you Washington DC-based Star Trek fans, this is for you. Travel the Galaxy this Summer with Crystal Screen: Star Trek Crystal City BID Arlington, VA. Crystal Screen will be showing all ten Star Trek movies, outdoors and in order, from June to August. Click the link above for more details. Each night will also have special giveaways and other activities, but the big highlight (at least for me) is that the Washington Shakespeare Company will be doing performances in Klingon as part of the movie showings. What's not to love?

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Jaws East Coast Tour '88: Experience the Toothy Magic (Updated)

Way back in August of 1988, my folks were kind enough to take us to the Franklin Institute in Philadelphia, PA for an exhibit about movie special effects. This was the first time I had ever seen a museum of any sort devote space to the art of creating illusions in cinema, so that in itself impressed me to no end. However, what really knocked this exhibit out of the park is that it included a working mechanical shark from the Jaws movies. Click below to see the pictures I took of the mighty animatronic beast.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Tony Stark, Clean and Sober: A Review of Iron Man 2

I saw Iron Man 2 last weekend, after carefully dodging the opening weekend to avoid the crowds. In a nutshell, it’s a great film. It does everything a good sequel should do: It advances the plot from the first movie, while at the same time adding new elements to the story to keep things interesting. The script is witty and fun, the direction by Jon Favreau bounces seamlessly between snappy character interactions and explosive set pieces, and the cast delivers good--and in the case of Robert Downey Jr. as Tony Stark, GREAT--performances. Furthermore, the special effects are top-notch, featuring the best scenes of military machinery run amuck since last summer’s Terminator Salvation.

Superhero stores are at their most compelling when they act as parables of power--both its use for good and its misuse for evil--and its effects on the human condition. Thus, what makes Iron Man 2 really stand out among recent superhero movies is that it directly overlaps the super powers of superheroes with the fire power of the contemporary military industrial complex, allowing for commentary on the relationship between technological development and international conflict. Read on . . .

Friday, May 14, 2010

Honey, I Shrunk the Blockbuster Space Opera Franchise

With the summer blockbuster movie season officially at hand, I suppose I should get around to saying something about Star Wars, Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back, since this year marks the 30th anniversary of its release. I could go on and on about what it was like to be there to witness the arrival of the first Star Wars sequel (the giddy anticipation of waiting in a long, long line just to get into the lobby of the movie theater, the thrill of buying new sets of Star Wars merchandise, the tireless effort of annoying my parents for hours on end when I didn't get the Star Wars stuff I wanted, etc.), but I don't think I could say anything that hasn't already been said before by other Star Wars geeks of my generation. So, this post is dedicated to a brief post-Empire moment of Star Wars toy history that has sadly gone unappreciated by many: Kenner's Star Wars Micro Collection series. Read on . . .

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Nightmare on Elm Street (2010): A Nightmare Remade

I watched the Nightmare on Elm Street remake a few days ago (sorry--I've been busy in my non-blog life, so this was the earliest I could get my review online). I wanted to see it before the new Iron Man movie uses its repulsor rays to blast it off of my geek to-do list. While I'll try to avoid any major spoilers in this review, those who wish to watch the new Nightmare with fresh eyes should probably steer clear of this review. My opinion in a nutshell is that the film as it stands now is just OK, and nothing more than that. For those wishing to be spoiled, read on after the break.