Jackson taking the same route as Lucas?

Entertainment, Film, Opinion, Popular Culture, Uncategorized

It is becoming increasingly obvious that Peter Jackson is beginning to take the same path as George Lucas had before him.

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Viggo mortensen in an interview with the Telegraph gives his spin on Peter Jackson’s dependance to technology. “In the first movie, yes, there’s Rivendell, and Mordor, but there’s sort of an organic quality to it, actors acting with each other, and real landscapes; it’s grittier. The second movie already started ballooning, for my taste, and then by the third one, there were a lot of special effects. It was grandiose, and all that, but whatever was subtle, in the first movie, gradually got lost in the second and third. Now with The Hobbit, one and two, it’s like that to the power of 10.”

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Mortensen is not wrong like gollum and his precious, Jackson similarly has fallen in love with technology to an extreme extent. There was a huge practical element to his Lord of the Rings series. Jackson like Ridley Scott at first was seen to be a world builder. Epic sets built for epic scale on the one hand.

On another hand, his original techniques were similar to Lucas. Many of his sets were this model scale. Little beautifully detailed scale models on a table. Then filmed and used practically for the film.

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It takes longer and much more manpower has to be invested in these projects. That is an obvious stumbling block. But Lucas and Jackson moved away from their practical pioneering roots to a more CGI driven future. The attraction was obvious to see. The payoff has not.

The similar storyline of Lucas starting with a franchise. Been held up as a pioneer. Only to tarnish his legacy by depending too much on CGI to prop up his films.

Why did Jackson make the same mistake?

The link between the two starts at Rick McCallum. He was the producer for Lucas originally before he lent his expertise to Peter Jackson. He showed him how the new prequel trilogy was made.

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Jackson similar to Lucas one could argue bought into the idea of being seen as a pioneer. As a result, could see themselves as the ones to push the boundaries and not the ones to lean on old practical values.

Jackson pushed for the higher frame rate of 48 fps. It helps builds beautiful worlds. But his characters end up lost. Similar to Lucas’s films.

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The world of green screen simply can’t replicate the practical reality. Consider Ridley Scott. Like Lucas he is a world builder for decades like Lucas. Yet he manages a balance between pratical and CGI. He is one of the few that still builds sets. They help a world actors can exist in instead of imagining in.

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Same can be said for J.J. Abrams. On his appointment of director of the Force Awakens, Abrams made clear he favoured a more balanced practical / CGI world for Star Wars. It was welcomed by fans and it paid off in the film.

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Special effects shouldn’t be dismissed. They offer many distinct advantages that clearly Jackson and Lucas could see. But it isn’t a one size fits all solution. A careful combination of special effects and practical effects should still be favoured.

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Mo-Cap_ A New world

Blogging, Film, Opinion, Uncategorized

When one mentions motion capture, most people’s minds think of Andy Serkis. No other actor in recent history has done more to promote than Andy Serkis. Films like LOTR, Planet of the apes, King Kong along with Tintin are several samples of Serkis doing Motion Capture. He will be forever linked to motion capture no matter what he does for the rest of his career. Both a blessing and a curse. Nevertheless, if a list of motion capture performers was conducted tomorrow. Serkis’s body of work would put him far out in front.

However, his lonely existence is quickly evaporating. Zoe Saldana delivered such a performance in Avatar there was calls for her to be nominated for an Oscar. Bradley Cooper showed he could deliver as well as Racoon in Guardians of the Galaxy. A role many can’t wait for him to reprise in Guardians of the Galaxy 2. Vin Diesel showed another side of himself by playing Groot in the same film. The main point being that world of motion capture is opening up due to pioneers like Serkis. Eventually we may even see a category for motion capture performance at award seasons. Saldana may even get belated recognition and Serkis be seen as the godfather of motion capture performance.

Another interesting aspect is that of being seen as a motion capture specialist. Serkis being the obvious example. But one possibly not imagined going forward was Lupita Nyong’ O.  Nyong’O received an academy award for Best supporting actress in 12 years a slave. She had the world at her feet. She was the darling of the Oscars. Everybody waited with baited breath to see what her next move was. Many previous winners of similar award Best actress had dips after their wins. Halle Berry after her win had a few flops. Reese Witherspoon had a few lean years before she came back into contention. Charlize Theron had a similar story. The point being That Lupita had a lot of capital in her corner, she had more options than she ever had before.

Her first step was to do the film Non-Stop with Liam Neeson. The film did ok, But Nyong’ o had a small role and struggled as a result to make an impression. She seemed destined to lose that Oscar momentum. Everything went quiet until rumours swirled she was in contention for Star Wars. It quickly transpired not for a main role like originally expected. Instead for a motion capture role. Consider that her Oscar momentum was fading. It was great to get a role in Star Wars. But not a role that easily could be similar Non-stop.

Instead, her role of Maz Kanata was one of the major talking points of the new Star Wars film. Her performance was one of the strong points of the film. Interestingly, instead of going back to mainstream acting, she moved to voiceover for the role of Rakcha, a mother wolf to Mowgli in 2016 version of the Jungle Book. She will then reprise her role for Maz Kanata in the sequel to 7th episode of Star Wars. Nyong’o instead of playing it safe when choosing roles after her Oscar success. Instead has gone bold and has been handsomely rewarded. She isn’t there yet. But overtime she could be mentioned in the same conversation as Andy Serkis for her motion capture performances. Along with Saldana, to some she may be remembered overtime for her motion capture performances. For others, it will still be her Oscar performance as Patsy in 12 years a Slave. Either way, her career slows no signs of suffering any dips in the near future.