Archive for August, 2008

Speed Racer Review (Visualisation & Conceptualisation)

August 20, 2008

The first thing that comes to mind after watching the movie Speed Racer was how completely blown away i was by the visuals in the movie. There are definitely more than a few similarities between this movie and the anime in which it was adapted from. The Wachowski brothers definitely showed us their skills in creating the essence of the movie and captivating the audience with the visual effects. To me, the visuals actually played a big part in making the movie worthy of watching, mainly because the entire storyline is so dull and predictable, i felt as if i already knew what was coming at the end of the movie. It seemed to me that from the beginning of the movie, the audience was already being led directly to the plan of Speed winning the Grand Prix race.

Another factor in which i have to give the directors credit for, is the fact that they have not forgotten the initial target audience of the Speed Racer anime, which of course, are the younger generation. Therefore, the Wachowski brothers have kept the more playful and humorous elements in the movie, which in my viewpoint, was done in an effort to buy the votes of the loyal Speed Racer anime fans. At the same time, the directors used the visuals as a tool to reel in the more mature audience. As they have said that Speed Racer is actually produced to be a family movie, that means they have to make this movie all-rounded by ensuring that they have attended to different elements in the movie that appeal to all audience, regardless of the age group.

Many have said that in comparison to the Wachowski’s prior blockbuster movie, which was the incredibly successful Matrix Revolution, Speed Racer was decribed as being merely mediocre or even disappointing to others, I on the other hand, would beg to differ. However, having said that, i have never personally watched the former before, therefore have no idea how good it truly was. But i assumed it had to be extraordinarily good to have received the praises i heard. Nevertheless, even if compared to a praiseworthy movie such as The Matrix, i still maintain that Speed Racer was not given the credit it deserved. I have to admit that entering into the introduction of the movie, i was a little skeptical of the whole flying-vehicles futuristic world idea, especially as it was accompanied by the sleek and shiny costumes which made the entire cast seem like sausage casseroles walking around in aluminium foils. But moving on from there, slightly towards the middle of the story, when the races truly began, that was when the magic of the movie started drawing me in. From that point on, it was impossible not to be captivated by the brilliant colors of the race cars, or to get caught in the rush of the race.

In my opinion, the directors did a masterful job of creating each racing scene. Just the look of virtual cars defying the laws of gravity as each tore down the race tracks, trying to outrun their opponents, spiralling down sharp turns, looping round 360 degree turns on the roller coaster tracks, with the sounds of the racing cars ringing in your ears, is enough to fulfill any child’s wildest fantasies. All of these have proven to me that the Wachowski brothers have lived up to our expectations, that the visual techniques embedded in the movie were nothing short of genius.

The audience should not try to compare a movie such as Matrix with Speed Racer, as they are both clearly set in different genres and appeal to different people. The Matrix is leaning more towards the sci-fi action genre which involves lots of conflicts and combat scenes, whereas Speed Racer is merely just an adaptation of a children’s anime. Unlike Matrix, a movie such as this does not take a lot of brainpower to understand the progess of it. It only aimed at allowing the audience to have a good time, which the directors did superbly.

I was able to spot a few key elements in this movie which was crucial in determining its success. For the first element, which was having a character that the audience can believe in and sympathise with, was clearly portrayed through Speed. The audience would be able to identify with the inner conflicts he went through when he discovered that the Grand Prix was nothing more than a fixed race, and that all the past winners had been decided beforehand. This is clearly a reflection of reality, reminding the audience that at times, no matter how hard one tries to change the world for the better, there is only so much one can do, and that some things are just out of one’s hands to control.

The second element, which is the rise of an urgent and difficult problem, would most likely be, again, the part when Speed discovered the reality of the racing world, and strove to change it for the better. Moving on to the third element, which is the characters’ attempts to resolve the problem, which fail and make their situation more desperate, is clearly seen during the scene of the Casa Crista race. Speed Racer teamed up with Racer X and Taejo, in an attempt to convince Taejo to reveal the wrongdoings of Royalton. However, after having helped Taejo win the race, he in turn, went against his words and left Speed in a stage of betrayal and turmoil.

The fourth element, the arrival of the big crisis and their last chance to win, is obviously the last big race, the Grand Prix, in which Speed got the chance to race in and have a final chance of trying to change the corrupt world of racing. The last element of a successful movie, which is predictably, the successful resolution of the story, is identified with Speed’s victory in the Grand Prix. At the end of it, he had been able to prove that he was capable of changing the world he lived in and loved, which is the world of racing.

After watching Speed Racer, and having had a taste of what the Wachowski brothers were able to serve to the audience, let’s just say i would definitely be queuing up in line for their next movie.



Brick (Budgeting & Scheduling)

August 11, 2008

After watching both Brick and Enter the Zombie King, my observation is, both movies, in certain aspects, have some differences. Despite the fact that both movies are produced on low budgets, Brick covered all aspects of the movie down to the last intricate detail with such expertise and precision, which is what distinguish it as a brilliant movie compared to  Enter the Zombie King.

Let’s begin with the comparison of the script organisation of both  movies. In Brick, the opening scene shows the main character, Brendan, squatting down in front of Emily’s dead form. The director probably chose to start off the movie with this scene because he wants to impress the significance of this particular scene to the audience.

This scene is mainly the catalyst, the turning point of the story, which eventually led to other revelations, including Emily’s state of pregnancy when she was killed. This somehow makes the consequences of her murder seem even more severe. The entire storyline was well thought and planned out as it follows Brendan’s investigation, as he left no stone unturned in trying to find out the Emily’s killer based on the four letter lead she gave him before she died. In contrast, Enter the Zombie King as none of the precision and details as seen in Brick. My comment on Enter the Zombie King is, it is merely  a zombie slash wrestler movie with no developments on the part of the characters as well as the storyline. The only understanding i got from watching this movie is that it is about several professional wrestlers, including the main character, Ulysses, who somehow got linked with a bunch of zombies terrorrizing and slaughtering anyone who got in their way. Another thing which puts me off about this movie is the fact that the characters which play a big part in the movie are wearing masks that conceal all of half of their faces. This means that the audience are not able to watch the facial expressions of the characters throughout the entire movie. Due to this, Enter the Zombie King has lost an extremely important essence of being a good movie as facial expressions are often the most crucial way of conveying non-verbal messages to the audience, such as the characters’ internal feelings. To make matters worse, most of the conversations shared between the charaters in the movie sound over-rehearsed, with noticeable static pauses at the end of each line. Brick, on the other hand, displays truly professional acting skills as each charatcter deliver their line with precision and clarity, resulting in a sense of reality and involvement in the movie.

Next, in terms of the shooting techniques of the scenes, Brick is by far the better of the two. Often during a conversation in a movie, the expressions of the listeners are more important than the speaker’s as it shows the effect or impact of the words. Brick clearly understands this concept as the camera diverts from the speaker to the others in the background frequently to show their response. Enter the Zombie King does not show the same skill, probably due to the budget needed in editing the films, as it mainly focuses on the speaker until it is the next person’s turn to speak.

Lastly, let’s compare the audio effects in both movies and also the scores used for soundtracks. Brick demonstrates many good examples of creating audio effects for the scenes to make them more authentic. One of them is the scene in which Brendan is pursued by a guy who is armed with a knife within the school perimeters. There is a part where the camera zoomed in on the shoes of the pursuer, accompanied by the heavy sounds of his shoes clomping down the corridor. This audio effect is produced in the studios and added to the scene to emphasize on the aggressiveness of the pursuer in his attack. Also, the audio effect of a metallic banging sound is used to disguise as the guy’s head hitting against the pole when he is tripped by Brendan. These are only a few examples of the various sound effects found in Brick. In comparison, Enter the Zombie King has really minimal sound effects, almost to the point of none. The only ones that i can remember from the movie are the sounds of the car engine when Ulysses is driving. Moving on the soundtracks, the instrumental music used for Brick adds to the mystique and suspense of the movie, whereas the soundtracks in Enter the Zombie King are of a faster bear used in the wrestling scenes.

Overall, based on the elaborate comparison i provided, it is easy to see which of the two movies i favor. Brick has the kind of ability to keep the audience enthralled and wanting to know more, as bits and pieces are revealed to them as the movie slowly advances. This is something which Enter the Zombie King does not possess as the storyline is just so predictable and dull that the audience are most likely stifling yawns halfway through the movie. However, having said that, Enter the Zombie King will most perfectly suit those who want to relax and have an evening of mindless entertainment.


Enter The Zombie King

August 2, 2008

The movie “Enter The Zombie King”, based on the little i have watched, could probably be one of the most poorly made movies ever in the history of poorly made movies. a scene which took place within a few seconds following the opening of the movie, in which a man was seen running around frantically in a dark forest, accompanied by the sounds of zombies moaning in the background. Predictably, the man was eventually caught by a zombie and became the first victim of the zombies in the movie. Thus, begins the bloodthirsty and vicious massacres of the zombies.

Even though this movie is clearly set for the horror genre, in  my opinion, it would pass off more successful as a comedy, as most of the killing scenes are just so ludicrous, that the audience can’t help but laugh at them. The bodies of victims, when shown being torn apart by the ruthless zombies, are so obviously stage props covered with a layer of fake blood to disguise as torn limbs.

The only positive outcome i can think of from watching this movie is that young audiences might be scared into staying at home after dark , even though i seriously doubt that this movie has a high chance of leaving that kind of effect. However, having said that, i actually think that this movie has a slight potential of amusing its audience with its extreme absurdity. all in all, i would give the movie a rating of half out of the total 5.