You Spin Me ‘Round & Round: Stargate Origins, a Review

24 Feb

By Ed Sum
(The Vintage Tempest)

Stargate Command is a website and an app for all things related to this series owned by MGM. When the announcement arrived at the 2017 San Diego Comic Con about a new web series during the SG-1’s 20th-anniversary celebrations, I was excited. The fact it’s going back to the basics as imagined by original creators Dean Devlin and Roland Emmerich made me giddy. My love for archaeological adventure in the style of the pulps got me anxious.

However, I knew that I did not need to jump into the launch of this service right away; I knew this series would not be immediately coming. Origins had no confirmed release date. Accessing this site for detailed content about the franchise is nowhere as comprehensive as GateWorld.net — which offered essays and detailed synopsis of the entire franchise.

The one-time fee of $20 (online price) or $29.99 (through the app) to watch the everything that made up SG-1 and onwards is very questionable. The premium content, to which there’s only a handful, I found feels scant. When this offer disappears in May, I have to wonder how much of it will be gone? It’s no loss when compared to the content the DVD releases offer, namely all the commentary tracks and featurettes offered. To sell this online service, all these extras should have been included. To have “The Secret Files of the SGC—The Stargate Universe” or “Stargate SG-1: Timeline to the Future—Legacy of the Gate” under one cloud service make paying the fee all the more worthwhile.

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Heading West with Red Dead Redemption

22 Feb

MarstonBy Shawn Trommeshauser
(Dreaming in Digital)

I don’t always get into shows and games while they’re current. A perfect example is how I’m finally watching HBO’s Westworld. I remember how the original trailer really caught my interest, but in the never-ending flood of media the modern world provides, I didn’t actually start watching until a few weeks ago. It’s FANTASTIC. No spoilers here. Just go see it if you have any interest in westerns and the nature of reality.

I would have been perfectly happy with how it ended, but there is a second season in the works, due to arrive April 22nd. In the meantime, however, it did leave me in the mood for more entertainment in a western setting. Then I remembered a game that, like Westworld, was extremely popular and while I enjoyed it for a few hours when it was new, never seriously sat down and gave it the attention it deserved.

Red Dead Redemption (available for purchase on Amazon) was created as a spiritual sequel to Red Dead Revolver (also on Amazon), a straightforward action game for the PlayStation 2, and was released on the PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 in 2010. It was developed by the legendary Rockstar Games who created many other world-famous titles over the years from the addictive Lemmings to the industry changing Grand Theft Auto series. Not directly tied to its predecessor other than its name, Redemption took much more inspiration from the scale and open world of the Grand Theft Auto games and shares many of the same conventions.

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Foley Artists are the Actors of Sound, A Documentary Review

20 Feb

By Ed Sum
(The Vintage Tempest)

Coming to VOD and iTunes on Feb 27th.
Also continuing to play at select Film Festivals. Please check local listings.

Actors of Sound is a solid, insightful and fascinating documentary about one stage of the process which makes cinema come alive. Without it, the cute waddle we hear from E.T. the Extraterrestrial moving about would not be there. These days, part of the sound mix is created on the computer and fully assembled. Back in the golden age of cinema, the talents had to innovate. To come up these nuances with limited resources and splicing magnetic tape was a real thing! In the early days of cinema, the work was difficult. People were most likely recruited from radio since timing was important — and the history of this art can be traced to the pioneer of the craft, Jack Foley.

Other talents this full-length feature includes are John Roesch, the mastermind behind giving life to E.T., and Ross Taylor who led the work behind The Exorcist. Twenty-three talents from around the world were interviewed. Each of them offers their own unique perspectives on how this work is done in their native country. India is unique because of the extravagance some of their films are made. Back home in America, Kitty Malone became the first female Foley Artist to work in Hollywood. She did all the dancing we hear (not see) in Liza Minnelli’s movies. They were not recorded as the microphones were intent on catching the vocal tracks than ambience.

This feature is not about the secrets. Instead, it’s about the life and times of those dedicated to this craft. It also becomes part of the romance. Relationships emerged and having a connection to the actors in the film is just as important. A lot of these talents become the celebrity when recording the same footfall they make. These audio artists describe the work as a joy. This exploration shows people “playing in a sandbox and having fun” with it. They are essentially painting a picture with sound.

A gentle plot helps guides viewers to this visual thesis. The threat of going completely digital — using huge sound libraries to put in each sound we hear in a television show or film — to replace these talents is mentioned. An answer is given: the human element is important. The pros and cons are weighed in. Although the stance these talents reveal is obvious, hopefully a revolution can happen to keep this aspect of film/tv production ongoing.

5 Stars out of 5

Internationalizing the Monster Hunt with its Sequel (捉妖记2)

18 Feb

By Ed Sum
(The Vintage Tempest)

The only reason why the supernatural beasties in Monster Hunt (捉妖记) are cute than frightful is to make this product accessible for youths. The first film released in 2015 was very successful at the box office.

Three years later, the sequel is chiming in Chinese New Year! This latest live-action CGI marvel directed by Raman Hui (Shrek the Third) has more enthusiasm going for it. The team he assembled adds nuances which are globally recognized than making it a piece of traditional Chinese Fantasy — namely in world construction ala Harry Potter and the addition of musical numbers ala Walt Disney. Also, this tale is far more sentimental.

The adventures of Song Tianyin (Jing Boran) and Huo Xiaolan (Bai Baihe) continue. Although separated from Wuba, a creature that looks like a fat radish with a mop of grass hair, they still wonder how he is doing. The familial bond is important in this tale.

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