Saturday morning started off with a bang and a smile -- and, perhaps, a look at the future of movie-going.
A 3-D preview of "Monsters Vs. Aliens" reminded me that when I interviewed Jeffrey Katzenberg before the Super Bowl, when a 3-D commercial of the movie was about to air, he told me I would be blown away by the InTru 3-D on the big screen. The DreamWorks animation chief has been preaching the gospel of 3-D for a while now, and I can't help but thinking that, like every other technology, this will be very different in a relatively short time. Or it will just go away, as it has over the years.
"M. Vs. A." does look great and, like "Coraline," the 3-D isn't in-your-face annoying but integrated seamlessly. (It also has impressive voice work from Reese Witherspoon, Hugh Laurie, Seth Rogen, Keifer Sutherland, Will Arnett, Rainn Wilson and Stephen Colbert, among others, obviously having a really good time with their characters.)
An article in the Brit mag Total Film March issue talks about the new 3-D process that James Cameron is working with for his first movie since Titanic 12 years ago. Like Katzenberg, Cameron thinks 3-D is the future, and why wait?
"Avatar," the sci-fi war movie that's been in his head since 1995, is taking shape now. Working with first Microsoft, then Peter Jackson's WETA special-effects team, he has helped develop a new 3-D camera technology that throws out digital motion-capture or performance-capture filming with the bath water. It seems like only yesterday Robert Zemeckis was perfecting this "new" 3-D imagery for "Polar Express" and "Beowulf."
As Total Film explains it: "It allows Cameron to do someting no one has ever done: shoot in live 3-D. Not poke-you-eye-out 3-D, but a totally immersive environment. You don't see a screen. You see a window. . . . 'Avatar's' process merges a full live-action shoot (real actors, real locations like New York and Hawaii) with a photorealistic CG world (green screen in Los Angeles), populated by "synthespians" who convey emotion as authentic humans."
Cameron concludes, "I can say with absolute certainty that you'll see stuff you've never imagined."
The release of "Avatar," rumored to cost around $300 million (will Cameron ever do anything on a small scale again?), has been on hold while more and more theaters become 3-D and IMAX 3-D compatible. I had to go out to Showcase West, at least a half-hour drive, to see "Monsters Vs. Aliens." It costs thousands of dollars to retro-fit theaters for 3-D and the cost is passed on in higher ticket prices.
The timing may prove to be toxic if the economy continues to nose-dive.
It happened to be a two-movie Saturday, with "Duplicity" the evening choice.
It's a timely corporate espionage story about CEO's who will do anything to one-up each other and spies -- Julia Roberts and Clive Owen -- who try to take advantage of their need and greed. Roberts works her chiseled cheek bones to charm and vex Owens, who likes her just the duplicitous way she is. When big cheese Tom Wilkinson is seen in a glass-walled office, it reminded me for all the world of the set of the board-room/assembly room on the new NBC drama "Kings," about an alternate-world America run like a corporation. Owen has had back-to-back films that seem spooky timely, with this and "The International," in which the banks were the bad guys.
Was glad to hear he had signed on for "Sin City 2." Imdb.com says his character, Dwight, "In the dark bowels of Sin City, Dwight plans to have his vengeance against the woman who betrayed him, Ava Lord." That would be Rose McGowan.
Doesn't say anything about 3-D, but can you imagine?