Monday, March 30, 2009

Inkheart (2008)

Inkheart reminded me of Raiders of the Lost Ark in more than a few ways.
For example, Our protagonist (Indy) is in a race against evil (the Nazis) searching for a book (ark of the covenant) that has the power to destroy all that we know (supernaturally).

Okay, so maybe there is a little more than the short description above. Brendan Fraser plays Mo, he is a "Silver Tongue", this means that he has the ability to bring fictional characters into the real world simply by reading a book aloud. As fun as this may seem, it also has a few side effects. Whilst reading a novel called Inkheart to his baby daughter and wife, Mo unleashes a group of evil bandits into the real world whilst transporting and trapping his wife into the fictional Inkheart novel.

Fast forward a few years and Mo and daughter Meggie (who has no recollection of the above) are traveling the world in search of a copy of Inkheart in order that Mo may read his wife out again. Meanwhile, the evil bandits who were extracted have set themselves up in a castle, and led by Capricorn (the 2nd baddest guy from the book), are on a mission to destroy all copies of Inkheart lest they be returned to their fictional world (apparently the real world is far more exciting), but first they need Mo to extract THE baddest guy from the book, he is known only as The Shadow.

What follows is a standard good vs evil adventure story with Mo trying to save his wife, and Capricorn trying to take over the world.

Again, this movie has a bit too much going on at any given time and what I have explained above is only the tip of the iceberg.

Brendan Fraser is just coasting along in what appears to be becoming a typecast role for him, appearances are made by Helen Mirren, Paul Bettany, Andy Serkis and Jim Broadbent among others.

If you are just looking for an evening of fantasy adventure then you could do worse, if you are after something with a little more heart and soul might I suggest re-watching Raiders!

Twilight (2008)

I shall start by pointing out that I have not read, nor do I have any interest in reading the Twilight series of books. This meant that I did not go out of my way to see the film at cinemas and based on some very mixed reviews wasn't sure if I was going to watch it at all. Add to all of that the fact that the movie is about a teenage vampire and his obsession with a human classmate and it does not exactly appeal to my 28 year old male psyche. Of course I appreciate that maybe I am not the target audience for the movie, but hey I still watch the Muppets and I am fairly sure I am not the target audience for them either!

A few issues I have first off: the vampires in this film are "vegetarian"; meaning they only eat animals, not people and apparently they also look like fancy bling bling when exposed to sunlight. They can move faster than a speeding bullet, they are more powerful than a locomotive and are able to leap tall buildings (trees) in a single bound....hmmm

Anyways, Twilight is directed by Catherine Hardwicke for whom this film should have been a sinch. Her first film Thirteen was an amazing look into the world of teen angst and more specifically teen girls, with Twilight we are presented with lingering stares, laconic pacing and some of the most uninteresting dialog put to screen, I can only assume it was the material she was given to work with although she has been kicked off of directing duties for the inevitable sequels.

Well, It should come as no surprise that I did not overly enjoy Twilight, it was certainly not the worst film I have ever seen, but I won't be rushing out to watch any of the sequels. Suffice to say I am sure the audience to which these films are being marketed can't wait!

Friday, March 27, 2009

Rant Alert - Cinemas

I am an avid cinema patron. Usually I go to the movies at least once a week. I am beginning to get very annoyed at my local cinemas constant screw ups or lack of respect for the screening of their films.

In this age of technological advancement in Home Theatre technology I am finding it harder and harder to spend money going to see a film at a cinema that I could watch a better presentation of in the comfort of my own home. With the advent of Blu-ray high definition and uncompressed or loss less master audio what appeal does the cinema hold now?

The fact that they get movies months before the home video release?
That depends where you live. The Uninvited has just started at cinemas here in Australia, but it
will be released on DVD and Blu-ray in the U.S on the 28th of April, less than a month away!

The atmosphere?
People talking throughout the film, the sticky floors, mobile phones going off and the smells be it popcorn, B.O or whatever is making the floor sticky...

Big Screen & Sound? comparison to room size...LCD and Plasma's are pretty good and who wants optic film Dolby Digital surround when you can have DTS-HD Master Audio from a THX certified surround system?!!?

My most recent venture to the movies was to see the Uninvited (see review in last post). The cinema had the A/C on so loud that it was all you could hear during the quiet moments, the screen was exposed to a ratio of 2.35:1 whilst the movie was presented at a ratio somewhere between 1.85 and 1.90 given that we could see the blurry edges and sprocket marks. There was a constant light source on screen from the projection room (possibly a peep hole?) that meant for the better part of this dark movie there was a white box on the left of the screen washing everything out.

To the films credit these were not as distracting as I thought they would be, but to be honest I would rather have waited for the Blu-ray and if my ticket wasn't complimentary I would have complained a little louder than I did.

It really annoys me that cinemas hike their prices and claim that TV, DVD and Blu-ray will kill their businesses when in reality they are doing it to themselves.

If you want to own and operate a successful cinema here are some 5 easy tips for you:

1. Ensure that each presentation of your movie is going to offer superior sound and visual quality than I could get at home.

2. Block mobile phone signals. The technology to do this has been around for years!! It blocks all incoming and outgoing calls & txts with the exception of emergency numbers.

3. Install doors that can be opened and closed without noise, both for allowing patrons to leave & return quietly during screenings and to allow staff to monitor what is going on in each cinema without disturbing patrons who are not breaking any rules.

4. Offer me an experience I can't get anywhere else. Some cinemas offer night out packages...go and have a meal, coffee and a movie for a set price.

5. Ensure your staff know what they are doing and are well trained. Also ensure there are enough of them on hand to meet demand. who wants to spend 20 minutes in line for tickets when you movie starts in 10?

that is all I have to say.

Please feel free to tell me of your bad cinema experiences and what you think cinemas could do to attract audiences.

The Uninvited (2009)

Based on A Tale of Two Sisters, The Uninvited is the latest attempt in Hollywood to remake Asian Extreme cinema. The original film is still one of Korea's most original and highest grossing horror films and I enjoyed it so much that I took the time to introduce it to countless friends and relatives over the years and I have purchased multiple copies on DVD, I tell you this simply to point out that my opinion on The Uninvited would automatically be biased.

Having said that, this film is not A Tale of Two Sisters, and I imagine its retitling may also be because of this, whilst The Uninvited shares many similarities in plot, a few direct scene steals and even a few of the major twists, for the most part it is an original retelling of the story.

We are introduced to Anna, a 14 year old girl who lost her sick Mother to a fire, she has spent the last 10 months in an asylum after attempting to take her own life, but is now being released into the care of her Father.

Arriving home she seeks out her older sister Alex, but is instead greeted by her Mother's nurse who has now become romantically involved with her Father. She also notes that the old boat house that was converted to her Mother's sick room has been rebuilt after the fire.

Alex and Anna finally get together and have a sisterly chat, catching up on lost months and the new soon to be step-mother situation. During the night Anna experiences horrible nightmares and is visited by the ghost of her Mother who proclaims that perhaps the fire was not an accident as was once thought.

What follows is a story with many twists where not all is what it seems to be, granted a few of these so called twists are a little obvious (even more so if you are familiar with the original), but there are a couple of genuine surprises making the film to altogether predictable.

The performances are excellent, with Emily Browning perfectly cast as the troubled Anna, Arielle Kebbel plays big sister Alex, Elizabeth Banks is cast as Rachel the step mother in a role that is quite different from her previous efforts in comedy and her cheerful outward appearance hides her bitterness for the girls well. David Strathairn plays the girls Father with equal amounts compassion and a little dab of selfishness.

The movie has some great cinematography that sets the mood well, from darkly list recesses in the New England style house to summer sun sparkling from the waters surrounding. The score by Christopher Young is quite impressive and spooky in all the right parts.

The story holds up for the most part, there are still a few unanswered questions, but on the whole The Uninvited is one of the better Asian horror movie conversions to appear of late.

I would still recommend seeing A Tale of Two Sisters first, but I would not condemn The Uninvited as far as remakes go it does quite a good job.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Film Noir (2007)

As the title suggests Film Noir is exactly that....reminiscent of the detective stories of Hollywood old. This animated feature is presented with an aesthetic reminiscent of classic black and white, but adds colour to certain elements (think Sin City) in order to keep things fresh. The score is an appropriate saxophone based jazz and in true noir fashion the film is narrated by our "hero" whom has just awoken to find he is lying under the Hollywood sign next to a dead cop and unfortunately suffering from a bout of Amnesia. Things get a lot worse from there as we follow him on his journey of self discovery full of sex, greed, murder, betrayal and a few twists and turns.

I must admit I found the film quite fascinating, both in visual style (There are numerous photo realistic L.A backdrops with animation placed over the top) and in storytelling. The ending was a little, but not entirely predictable, however this didn't affect how much fun it was to follow the characters in their pursuits.

Film Noir is an excellent example of global movie-making craftsmanship, with its American writing, French distribution and Serbian animation crew. I am not sure when or if the film will be released on DVD, but I would certainly recommend seeking it out if you find it.

Monday, March 23, 2009

No matter how long it takes, no matter how far, I will find you.

If I had to list my favorite movie scores of all time, then Last of the Mohicans would most definitely get a mention. Trevor Jones is one of the finest composers working in movies from his amazing scores for Jim Henson's Labyrinth & Dark Crystal to his science fiction work on Dark City. Here he works with Randy Edelman to present a score that compliments an equally fine movie and today I thought I would pay tribute to it.

Firstly, Last of the Mohicans has become the second score that I have converted to DTS 5.1, this time using elements from the actual DVD and Recording Session Audio in order to make a complete score.

The track I have chosen to present here is from the End Titles, it does not feature in its original form on the official CD, thus making it a treat for both myself and fans of the music alike.

A reminder once again that you require DTS decoding in order to play this file. You can get a free software DTS decoder for PC here

Trevor Jones & Randy Edelman - End Titles for Last of the Mohicans

The following files are normal Mp3's

Next up, I thought I would continue with my remix posts by uploading a nice Trance version of the theme I Will Find You. Performed in the movie by the group Clannad, this is a non vocal remix by a group calling themselves Napalm. I am not sure where I actually found this track....but I think it is a great revisioning of the theme for clubs. If you know the source please feel free to comment so that I may give credit.

Napalm - Last of the Mohicans (Trance Mix)

and lastly I thought I would add a re-interprative version of the theme by Sara Grimaldi. In 2008 EGO music released a 7 track single of mixes. I present the full Thomas Schwartz remix here for your listening pleasure.

Sara Grimaldi - I Will Find You (Thomas Schwartz Mix)

Enjoy :)

Walled In (2009)

Walled In is one of those horror movies that could actually have been good. It had an interesting idea, a fairly strong cast, a well designed set and what most likely would have been a reasonable budget. It is based on the novel Les Emmur├ęs by Serge Brussolo. The story follows Samantha Walczak who is sent in as a demolition expert to destroy a famous architects building, the site of a grizzly series of murders in which victims were "walled in" whilst still alive. Upon her arrival she starts to realize that the building may not have shared all of its secrets. Sam is played quite capably by Mischa Barton, an actress whom I followed long before her O.C days going back to PUPS and Lost & Delirious, the film also stars Debra Kara Unger and Cameron Bright, both quite comfortable in their respective roles. The main issue I have is the plot. I have not read the novel, so I am not sure of how much licence the movie has taken, but for the most part the story just becomes horror cliche and certain character subplots unbelievable or worse absurd. The film also suffers from superfluous back story and a few dead ends.

It comes as no surprise then that the film has gone straight to DVD, I wouldn't recommend you rush out and rent it, but if you like psychological thrillers and enjoy movies that have creepy ideas (despite failing to fully complete them) then you may enjoy this one.

Friday, March 20, 2009

Duel of Fates (Remix)

So I thought I would revert back to soundtrack remixes....something I covered a little earlier in the blog. This particular one is for John Williams Duel of Fates from Star Wars Episode 1. To my knowledge this was only available as a promo or on LP? I may be wrong, but for now here is Planet Core with their trance remix of Duel of Fates enjoy :)

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Blue Eyes & Square Eyes

Hurray for Firefly & Serenity on Blu-ray disc....I sold my DVD's awhile back in anticipation of these releases, thankfully I bought the EzyDVD tins (see image above) and kept those to put my BD's in :D

I have started watching Dollhouse, but not sure what to make of it at this is on FOX too so I don't hold out much hope of it getting past the first season. I was glad to see that it deals with the issue of Anamnesis, always a bonus for me and something sure to keep me watching for a little while although I have only seen the first 2 episodes. I will give it a few more before I make the final cut decision whether to keep tuning in or not.

It is quite sad how little TV I am actually watching at the moment.... no new series has really grabbed me and encouraged me to continue watching and those that had have been canceled and all traces gone.....Pushing Daisies is my main pet peeve...

So currently only Chuck and The Mentalist and even those aren't religious.

oh well.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

The Island Awaits You (Anamnesis DTS 5.1 Mix)

One of my favorite scores over the last few years was for the Michael Bay sci-fi film The Island. The score is by Steve Jablonsky and although it is basically a rip off of Hans Zimmer's work for King Arthur, which is also used for his part in the Batman Begins score, it is still the best of the 3 soundtracks. I have recently completed my surround mix of the entire score which actually worked far better than I had anticipated.

Sorry, No Longer Available for Download

*This file requires DTS hardware or software in order to play.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Round, Shiny & Collectible

Why don't we get good limited edition DVDs here in Australia? The Asian market caters for many a movie enthusiast with some of the best limited edition DVD sets around. Even some of their standard sets are 500 times better than our releases and they don't even cost that much more!

I am submitting a few Korean editions below as an example:

Pan's Labyrinth
Region 3 - Korea

Special Packaging
2 DVDs
1 Art Book
1 Gold Key Bookmark

Il Mare
Region 3 - Korea

Special Packaging
2 DVDs
1 CD Soundtrack
5 Postcards


Region 3 - Korea

Special Packaging

My Little Bride Limited Edition

Region 3 - Korea

Special Packaging
2 DVD's
1 CD Soundtrack
10 Postcards

Once again I will save some for a later post.....those of you who can't wait can find my thread at The Import Forums here - The Import Forums is one of the best resources for Limited Edition DVD, Blu-ray and all things round and shiny...if not for the forums I would have saved money for a house by now :P~

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Sleepthief - Desire Of Ages (Anamnesis DTS 5.1 Mix)

The next track I have chosen for my stereo to 5.1 conversion is from the artist Sleepthief. My project started off with me just wanting some of my favorite tracks mixed into surround sound, but I am increasingly finding myself doing whole albums. The first album I re-mixed was Delerium's Poem and I have just now completed Sleepthief's The Dawnseeker from which this track is taken.

A little about how I am actually doing these mixes. Firstly I am ripping a raw .wav file from the original CD. I then extract left and right channels into mono tracks. I then run the stereo track through Adobe Encore using a few custom filters to remove or isolate a centre vocal and stereo surround tracks. I have found in most cases that the process works best without a centre channel, so for most tracks I am doing now, I rely on the left and right speakers to place the vocal in centre. I then use Encore and Audacity to ensure the timing and placement is correct. I then output 6 raw mono wav files and use Surcode DTS CD Encoder Pro to encode the convert these to a single 5.1 DTS encoded WAV file. Burn to CD and listen to make sure it has worked correctly.

So as usual, here is the warning that the following file is encoded in DTS and requires a DTS decoder in order to play correctly.

Sorry, No Longer Available for Download.

Monday, March 9, 2009

The Watchmen (2009)

I will start off by saying that I have not read the graphic novels on which this film is based. In some ways I feel I should have as there is obviously a lot more going on than what is explained in the movie. This is not to say that I didn't enjoy the film, quite the opposite in fact! Set in an alternate 1985 where Superheroes are an everyday occurrence and America won the Vietnam war with thanks to one. We are presented with a noir style detective narration by a hero called Rorschach who is investigating the death of one of the most well known heroes, The Comedian. This sets the movie off on an action packed and sexually charged adventure told with outstanding visual style and seamless and breathtaking effects as his investigation leads to the possible annihilation of mankind. The film is certainly violent and makes no attempt to dull it down or make it seem more comical than it should be, something I admire in these types of action films. If I had any complaint it would be that the pacing seems a little off in parts and thus the running time seems a little extended. There are also a few scenes with unexplained incidents that lead me to believe had I read the novels I would have understood them.
Despite this, the film is thoroughly entertaining and definitely one to see on the big screen. I just wish I had an Imax cinema close by!!

Saturday, March 7, 2009

Globus - Diem Ex Dei (Anamnesis DTS 5.1 Mix)

So this is my next attempt at what really amounts to a quadraphonic surround mix. I didn't have enough resources to isolate a centre channel for this particular track. Anyhow, this is from the Globus album Epicon. The track is called Diem Ex Dei, but most people would know it as Lucius Dei from the production music company Immediate Music. It has been used in far too many movie trailers to name...but The Island is the only one to use the whole track.

Just to note again that this track is encoded in DTS sound and will require DTS hardware or software decoding. Attempting to play this track on normal equipment may damage your system.

Sorry, No Longer Available to Download.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Delerium - After All (Anamnesis DTS 5.1 Mix)

Well I thought I would start putting up a little original content...

A few years ago with the release of their album Chimera, Delerium ran a remix contest on their track After All. well I am not much of a remix artist, but I am a big fan of music in 5.1 surround sound so I thought I would try mixing their song into such.

Sorry, No Longer Available for Download

Instructions: The above file is encoded using the DTS surround format. To listen to it you must have DTS capable hardware. Simply burn the file to an audio CD and play on your DVD player.

or if you have DTS decoding on your PC, you can listen to it that way as well.

I will be uploading a few more of my 5.1 mixes during the year :)

Please feel free to make comments.

Monday, March 2, 2009

Server 1 - Me 1 - Even Stevens as it were

Well my server is back up and running....still a few bits and pieces to restore or setup. I was lucky this time with no specific data loss just a corrupt OS, and while I did have a back up it didn't take.

Hopefully I shall be fully up and running by mid-week.