3D Blu-ray releases that blow away 4K releases : THE YOUNG AND PRODIGIOUS T.S. SPIVET

“If I stayed there, I’d end up turning around in circles like these bats. I’d only be an echo of myself”

And with wit and charm, the protagonist of THE YOUNG AND PRODIGIOUS T.S. SPIVET weaves a heart warming, yet surprisingly mature and at times bleak tale of the hinterlands of the dream for great things and vast adventures; in prosaic and insular times.

I only picked this movie up due to claims it had great 3D, and having finally received and watched it today, it lives up to the hype. It has excellent  A+ 3D, putting to shame inferior 3D releases such as DR. STRANGE (or most of the post converted Marvel Movies) and disappointments such as DUNE or ALITA BATTLE ANGEL in 3D.

But when 3D is done as well as it is done here and in films such as  LIFE OF PI, GRAVITY, THE MARTIAN (that mars storm sequence is as impressive a 3D sequence as you will find) , THE FORCE AWAKENS, and BILLY LYNN’S LONG HALFTIME WALK, it blows away so-called 4K/UHD films.

 

And there are some good UHD releases (THE SHAFT 4K is a noticeable uptick,more for making use of color grading, but that is largely because the previous Blu-ray release was underwhelming in its mastering), but the majority of the ones I have seen offer negligible uptick in quality over a well mastered Bluray film.

 

Quick aside, when comparing Bluray to 4K a big mistake even so called experts make is letting their 4K player to upscale their Bluray or DVD content. Don’t do that. There is still no such thing as intelligent upscaling. What you get is duplicate pixels, for duplication’s sake. What you get is noise, which actually makes the picture look worse.

So to get a real comparison between your Bluray picture and 4 K picture, turn upscaling off on your TV and 4K Player. You will find a well mastered Bluray and a well mastered UHD, on an average 55″ screen, viewed at a normal viewing distance of about 8 feet, are relatively indistinguishable EXCEPT for the use of color grading on the UHD.

Color Grading, which is impressive, and the ability to burn your retina out (not impressive at all) is the questionable criteria that UHD “picture quality” is being sold on.

And in some cases, UHD looks worse than a well mastered Bluray (HURT LOCKER 4K is inferior to the HURT LOCKER Blu-ray mastering) . Resolution being only about real estate, dots per inch, and dots per inch is not the measure of picture quality.

The real great use of UHD would be to produce high definition 3D UHD physical media, so we get something with the wonderful immediacy of 3D, while being able to give a full 2K presentation/detail to each eye. That would be an impactful use of UHD/4K, and also an improvement to 3D

But getting back to TS SPIVET, more than being a 3D success, the movie is just plain good. Surprisingly so. Highly Recommended to other 3D Fans!

On the RUST Alec Baldwin Manslaughter Case and the Fate of Weapons Masters and the call for CGI augmented prop guns.

A lot of people have weighed in on this tragedy.

Some with agendas, some with axes to grind, some with pain to share, some with outrage to place.

I say the following as someone who is a gun owner, but absolutely believes in stricter gun laws. Absolutely believes you should have a background check for guns, and for guns capable of mass murder, waiting periods, psyche test, and sales excluded based on a history of violent issues or mental issues. I believe the same rigid testing, what has been called psychopath testing, should be required not just for purchasing of high capacity weapons, but to be a politician, a police officer, a prison guard, in the military, etc.

I say the above to let you know that the following does not come from a knee-jerk, “don’t touch my guns” place.

If it saves lives, take all our guns; and give us all swords.

No the RUST case, I see a Tragedy.

I feel bad for all involved, of course the family of the victim, but also the cast and crew touched by this accident, including Alec Baldwin.

Obviously there was culpability and incompetence on this set, enough incompetence that six live bullets ended up on set, and one ended up in a gun, that ended a life.

I’m not here to argue who should have been charged and who should not have, chargers have been proffered and hopefully it will clarify the mistakes of that day, and while nothing will repair the damage of that day, hopefully it will give some framework to the tragedy, and at the very least some additional impetus to future productions to increase or at least adhere to established safety protocols.

Cause here’s the thing, every talking head that has discussed this has railed that this is a call for change in Hollywood, and “removing live weapons from set is the answer, live guns is the cause, and prop guns with CGI effects is the answer.”

To that I say, with all respect, you have to see with better eyes then that.

There is a 100 years of cinema checks and balances in place, security measures in place, to stop accidents like this. To catch accidents like this. And that process works. Lets say a 1000 movies (both theatrical, and broadcast, and streaming)  a year, for a hundred years of cinema, so a 100000 movies at the low end, a 100,000 movies, millions of guns shot, swords slashed, cars crashed, heavy artillery fired, buildings and bridges blown up, and you can count on fingers and toes, the fatalities, rather than those fatalities being in the millions.

And that is because of a system the has worked and is working, The Weapons Masters. These guys for a hundred years, have given cinema its exciting fiction, while keeping people safe and alive.

The fact that it didn’t work in the RUST case, was because the rules, the safety checks were not followed. Was because the checks and balances that a competent Weapons Master brings to a set, was obviously not in use on this set.

So the peanut gallery’s kneejerk reaction is to “do away with live guns, and use prop guns that look like real guns, but can’t fire so are absolutely safe and we add the ,muzzle flash with CGI. Job Done, right? Who needs Weapons Masters when we eliminate operable guns?”

So now everyone drinks this koolaid, and they dismantle and fire weapons masters because no one is using real guns, “no need. We are safe now.” You have never been more wrong.

This mindset that you are now safe, is a horrible mindset for safety. Flies in the face of security. There is a lot of horrible things about fear, but one redeeming part of fear… fear if you listen to it, can keep you from harm, can teach you caution, can teach you respect, can teach you to stay alive.

You now create an atmosphere without checks and balances, because everyone assumes they are using inoperable guns, no need for fear, no need for caution, no need for checks and balances. So what happens when the same type of person who would bring live bullets to a set, instead brings a 3d printed prop gun, with live rounds in the chamber. In your new perfect CGI prop set, people end up just as dead.

And with the checks and balances of a proper movie, these tragedies become the norm, not the exception.

The RUST case was a tragedy, but the take away from that tragedy can not be to gut an overhaul a system that has saved lives and limbs for a hundred years, the takeaway must be to have productions strictly adhere to the protections that are in place to keep people safe. And an Indie production must prove it has qualified weapons masters and checks and balances in place, prior to being insured/going into production.

 

That is the solution, not knee-jerk outcrys for wholesale change, change that opens up its own untested issues, but to give teeth to the protections already in place, and productions and individuals… bound by them.

 

Here endeth the Lesson.

 

AVATAR : THE WAY OF WATER (2022) Theatrical 3D Review! Imax vs RealD vs Dolby Cinema!

The 2nd week of 2023 I finally made it around to seeing the long gestating followup to the landscape altering first AVATAR film. Not so much because I had any real confidence in this film, or desire to sit through a 3+ hour film (though feedback has been nothing but great), no what swayed me to check this out theatrically, was the praise for the 3D, specifically courtesy of Dolby Cinema 3D, which there is less than 200 such theaters in the world, and one of them being conveniently near me and still showing AVATAR WAY OF THE WATER.

 

Long Story short, I saw the first film, back in 2009 at the same theater in Imax 3D, no Dolby Cinema 3D at that time, and that film deserved all its accolades and praise. The 3D was ground-breaking and the film enjoyable and compelling, it became a billion dollar movie, and launched the 3D craze/infrastructure, that had been dead for decades.

The film didn’t just put butts in seats, it changed the way cinema worked, it changed the technology of theatrical cinema and home cinema. I own 200 Blu-ray movies, due to the economies that rose up directly because of the success of that one, original James Cameron AVATAR film.

Fast forward thirteen years, and the sequel no one thought was coming, no one thought was needed, no one wanted, no one thought would be successful, myself included; no one except James Cameron believed in, and the effing thing is not only real, it is by all reports great, and another billion dollar success.

So Fast forward 13 years and I am sitting in an absolutely amazing theater, this Dolby Cinema 3D that was built largely to be here for AVATAR THE WAY OF WATER, and despite the good word of mouth, I have my doubts about a 3+ hour movie, and revisiting the world of AVATAR. So largely I pay this exorbitant ticket price just to check out this new Dolby Cinema 3D process. I told who I was with, if the film is not good or too long, we’ll just leave, and I mean it. The 3 hour time frame  does not fill me with confidence, but then the movie starts… and I am swept away.

James Cameron, did it. Not only did he equal the success of his first film, this sequel AVATAR THE WAY OF WATER in every way is superior to the first film, and you do not have to see the first film to enjoy this one. The film brings you into the world smoothly. I am ENTRANCED from frame one.

I have seen David Lean’s LAWRENCE OF ARABIA projected in 70mm, perhaps the measure by which all theatrical experiences must be judged against; AVATAR WAY OF WATER in Dolby Cinema 3D, with the HFR sequences (I love that look, the fluidity of the motion) is simply the most visually astonishing film I have seen. It moves the needle past anything I have seen before, and is simply gorgeous and immersive… in effortless, no-eyestrain, not darkened, 3D.

The film is as far above previous 3D efforts today, as the first AVATAR was 13 years ago. The look of it is absolutely jaw-dropping, but what really surprised me is the story and performances and heart of the film, is as superlative as the visuals. This is masterful storytelling and is a great, impactful film without the sumptuous 3D, but married to the 3D… it becomes an emotionally moving and heartfelt film, and a triumph for James Cameron on every level, but particularly as filmmaker. It is a great film, directed and performed and shot and scored… greatly. If still showing at a Dolby Cinema 3D theater, and you have not seen it, see it. It is a viewing experience years in the making, and every year of effort pays off in the finished film.

A 21st century American Blockbuster and Masterpiece. Highest Recommendation in Dolby Cinema 3D.

 

Favorite Publishers of 2022!! DC Edition

DC COMICS

Not for their single issues which are criminally over-priced (especially for a comic book company whose motto not too long ago, before hiring Bendis, was “we hold the line at $2.99”) but entirely for their collected editions, primarily their ABSOLUTE line, is why DC makes my list of favorite publisher’s for 2022.

Their Absolute line is one of the best hardcover formats not just in all of comics, but all of Book Publishing, and feature for feature, one of the best bangs for your buck.

2022 We received the last of a collection that for a long time I thought we would never see; namely the utterly brilliant and seminal Alan Moore Complete Swamp Thing run,

DC produced this long awaited book, in one of the best archival formats in comic books or books in general, their Absolute format. And not only did they put out Alan Moore’s pivotal run in a stunning collection, they finally collected it in a quality format and found a way to put his name on it.

( I’m looking at you Marvel, with your disappointing MIRACLEMAN omnibus. Can Alan Moore, be petty and difficult? Seemingly… yes. So you as publisher, you be less petty, and find a way to get Alan Moore’s name, on Alan Moore’s Book. That’s why I prefer the out of print ECLIPSE trade-paperbacks to the new Marvel MIRACLEMAN omnibus. The trades have an introduction by Alan Moore, and sports his name on the book.

Shame on you Marvel. You should have found a way to make it happen, instead of releasing the Alan Smithee version of a hardcover.)

Thankfully DC, that have made great missteps on their periodical front, when it comes to their ABSOLUTE division, they really are putting out, for the last two decades, the single most impressive archival format in comics.  And ABSOLUTE SWAMP THING BY ALAN MOORE is the pinnacle of that line, and for the last two years these releases have been among my favorite releases of their respective years.

And yes I know these releases have generated some controversy over the updated coloring, (Imagine that, controversy in the age of twitterers and the overly entitled. 🙂 ). However, I actually like the new coloring , and this comes from someone who grew up on the original coloring, who bought the issues off the newsstand, and enjoyed the original coloring. Tatjana Wood doing wonders with a problematic printing medium, newsprint, doesn’t change the fact that newsprint was a horrible paperstock but a necessary one due to cost, and is not a look that should be emulated. From the beginning of comic books creators and even publishers, disliked the limitations of newsprint. But it was an economic reality and limitation of the times. Just like pops and scratches on records played more than a couple of times, or snow on broadcast tv due to weather or distance, or pan and scan movies on broadcast tv, or deteriorating VHS quality, these were economic limitations of the time.

And no one is racing to glorify the limitations, as some artistic purity to adhere to… except people who confuse nostlagia with quality. Who delude themselves.

 

I dislike two types of people, the fadish young who deify nostalgia, and the blinded old…  who deify nostalgia.

Those who confuse something being niche or vintage with it being good, or confuse something reminding them of their youth with it being good. Neither is true. While something from your youth can be good, and something niche can be good, it is not so because of its nicheness or its ties to your youth.

But too many people , Old Nostalgia Fogies and Young Posers conflate the noise with the signal.

Newsprint, and again I say this a someone who grew up on newsprint when that was the only game in town, and still has boxes of newsprint comics in my collection, newsprint looked godawful , and colors on it looked just okay. Muted at best, Godawful at worst.

Even as a kid, reading the DEFENDERS or MASTER OF KUNG FU or AVENGERS I made do with the interiors, but I always thought it would be great if the interiors could be on nicer, glossier paper like the covers.

So when Baxter paper came out, it was like going from crappy VHS to DVD. And we have only done better in the years since, we now have those glossy pages and full rich colors that I dreamed of as a kid, and I for one do not want to go back.

Only a generation that did not grow up with newsprint being the only game in town, or a generation that did and seeks art to be only a stagnant reminder of their youth, rather than a real,breathing, growing expression of quality; would mistake newsprint (or the newsprint look) to be some badge of quality to be cherished and emulated.

I am not a fan of matte paper in my Absolutes, or muted coloring. I sold the CRISIS ON INFINITE EARTHS Absolute in favor of the Deluxe Edition, Because the deluxe had beautiful, vibrant, glossy page, and the Absolute’s Matte pages just looked dead, and bland and lifeless. They robbed the story, Perez’s visuals…. of agency.

Now everything is subjective, as consumers we disagree over what art or art style or paper stock appeals, and even creators are at odds about these same topics. There is no one right answer for everyone, the right answer for me is more often than not vibrant colors on glossy paper, the story allowing. Like what you like, but don’t try and justify Newsprint as artistic purity or historical accuracy, while you watch remastered tv shows and movies, in high def formats. It’s posing, and mendacity.

In the case of the SWAMP THING Absolutes they decide to give you the remastered UHD version of this series, now you may not like the color grading choices, but don’t dislike it on bs grounds of lacking fealty to the artistic purity of newsprint. From the beginning newsprint was a compromised medium, and is analogous to the argument of decrying remastered Blu-ray or UHD movies because they are not true to how you remember watching it on a a crappy vhs or a pan and scan tv broadcast.

 

I personally love the choices made with SWAMP THING BY ALAN MOORE, Now Tatjana Wood is a great colorist, and made some beautiful and bold choice to make the crippled medium of newsprint sing as well as it could. Now if the Absolute had been made with those colors, but taken advantage of the glossy paper, and printing options, I would be interested in seeing that as well. But as it stands I am very happy with the recoloring by Steve Oliff, his choices are different from Wood’s and in places I prefer Wood’s and in places Oliff’s but as a whole, they are differing visions, but both ultimately satisfying visions.

I’m a fan of ALTERNA comics, that produce comics on newsprint at a great cost savings, but contrary to their assertion, no one is looking at newsprint as a visually better medium than glossy, unless they are delusional. Akin to people who swear vhs or 8 trac or cassette or LPs are a better medium.

That’s posing and nostalgia replacing sense.

And I will have none of it. Ok massive rant over… onto the books.

 

Read of the Day : SOMETHING IS KILLING THE CHILDREN Slip-cased Deluxe Edition

SOMETHING IS KILLING THE CHILDREN deals with particularly heinous subject matter, but cloaks it in the more palatable concept of non-human monsters dispatching our children. Which while horrible, is a reprieve from the world outside these pages, where humans would commit such crimes against their own.

So the fantasy aspects, and the compelling story and strong writing, as well as evocative art makes this a page-turning read. Though the ending had an outcome for one character that I did not like. Felt… wrong.

Though that one point aside, an impressive read. And the slip-cased deluxe edition, specifically the 2nd edition is beautiful. However all that said, I don’t know if it is a book I will revisit, or a story I want to continue with,

One thing I think is lowest common denominator in movies is to put children in jeopardy, one of my objections to the new EVIL DEAD trailer.  And while it can be done compellingly, as movies like NIGHT OF THE HUNTER and THE EXORCIST show, they are the exceptions. As a rule it is exploitative and muckraking and just distasteful, and not something I want to watch.

And coming out of SOMETHING IS KILLING THE CHILDREN, which is done compellingly, I still find I have no desire to revisit that world.

So a solid grade of B/B+. But not necessarily a keeper.

 

 

SHADOW Episode of the Day : VALLEY OF THE LIVING DEAD (1-22-39)

Valley of the Living Dead – The Shadow (01-22-39)

“They hurl my liberality back into my teeth, and make it a reproach!”

Really fun episode, from the Bill Johnstone, pompous age of the Shadow. I do like Bill Johnstone’s Shadow , his terse, cadaverous take on the Shadow was enjoyable. But boy was he always lecturing people, as in this episode, with its not too veiled stance that capitalism is godly and good, socialism nefarious and evil.

But look past any veiled propaganda going on here (it is not lost on me the Shadow was sponsored by a mining company) and you have a recorded live episode from 84 years ago, that is just plain fun. A solid B+. Recommended.

Movie Trailer Review : EVIL DEAD RISE – A Dissenting Opinion – I thought the trailer was mediocre at best 🎃

  1. Now the rather galvanizing heading aside, I am not trying to be contrary or snarky. I saw the trailer, I did not find it either interesting or novel or praise worthy.

Been there done that is inherent in a sequel, but the good ones add a spin, that hopefully intices.

This trailer all it seemed to add was doses of mutilation and child abuse and neither one is what I want out of a trailer or a horror movie.

A wittier soul than I defined horror as the building of tension and gore as the failure of it.

I go to films wanting the protagonists to triumph over the antagonists, so films like TERRIFIER not my thing. I do not go to horror movies to see people suffer, I go to horror movies to see how people transcend their suffering.

It is a subtle difference, but a difference none the less.

Now could the movie be better than the trailer, possibly. But based on the trailer, cheesegrater scene, I have no interest in finding out.

I am more a Universal Horror guy than a torture porn type guy.

But each to their level find.

 

My 2 cents. 😊

 

2023 Week One Day 2: A Deeper Dive Into THE ART OF MARVEL STUDIOS ANT MAN & THE WASP!

THE ART OF MARVEL STUDIOS ANT-MAN & THE WASP – My previous post I highlighted this book as one of the better art-books produced in the MCU’ s closing in on 30 film and 30 book universe. In hand, and having perused it in more detail today, I wanted to expand on my thoughts on it.

While not the best MCU film, not even as compelling as the first ANT-MAN film, this is clearly the superior art book; blowing away the MCU Art-books for most other films.

It has one of the most beautiful slipcases, sporting stunning art by Andy Park. Though to be fair most of the MCU Art of Books have great slipcover artwork, though I do think in ANT-MAN & THE WASP Andy Park’s work is escalated to the level of fine art. You just want to keep looking at and keep displaying this slipcase.

Getting beyond the slip-case what really distinguishes this volume from other, weaker, MCU Art books… is its stronger focus on actual artwork and full page spreads and less over-use of model sheets (multiple pages of characters sporting slightly different costume variations). As explained in previous posts I think model sheets are the sign of a poor art-book, and lazy book design.

Here thankfully book designer Adam Del Re, hits all the right notes, from the actual design of the hardcover so it looks like a file folder out of the lab in the film, to the appealing and fluid, and reading and art friendly flow of the interiors, it is a joy to glide through this book.

This is my art-book of the Day!