Monday, August 3, 2009

Jar Jar Binks is no more!

Finally, a movie has created characters more revoltingly racially tinged than Jar Jar Binks.

Meet Skids and Mudflaps from "Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen". Acting like stereotypes from films of the 30s and 40s, these characters are no better than if Bay had simply hired two guys in blackface.

Sitting through these two was really uncomfortable -- and that's in addition to all the other awfulness of the film.

The capper was that the two Stepin Fetchit characters are also illiterate, further cementing the stereotype.

Asked for comment, Michael Bay stated, "We're just putting more personality in. ... I don't know if it's stereotypes. They are robots by the way."

Please. You don't know if they are stereotypes? And dismissing it with a comment about the characters being robots is the same as George Lucas having dismissed the egregiously racist Jar Jar as being "just an alien".

I wonder what would have happened had Bay used two stereotyped "Jewish" robots with sidelocks, rolling around kvetching about how much things cost while all the time sounding like Jackie Mason.

Saturday, June 6, 2009

Beware Digital IMAX

I was excited to see Star Trek in IMAX, even though the IMAX screen at Easton is one of the downsized "MiniMAX" variety. No big deal, I've seen the DMR presentations of various Harry Potter movies and, most recently, "Dark Knight" there. This latter film actually included scenes that were shot using IMAX cameras, and it was clearly evident when the scene changed from DMR to true IMAX. And anyone who has ever seen any of the science and nature IMAX films knows that they are something very different from a regular film.

For those of you unfamiliar with DMR, it is a proprietary IMAX process in which the 35mm negative is scanned, and then re-created on a 70mm (don't be pedantic about 65/70mm please) horizontal frame. Along the way, each frame is rebuilt to remove 35mm artifacts (grain, etc.), so what ends up being projected is much better than simply doing a 35mm optical blowup. It actually does look great. True IMAX is shot on special IMAX cameras and yields a stunning projected image.

So, I and some friends go to Easton to see a DMR Star Trek in IMAX. The trailers, etc., run in digital, which is fine. But then the first sign of trouble enters the frame -- so to speak. The IMAX intro plays and it is clearly being projected digitally. Then the feature starts. As the jagged Federation shield jutters onto the screen, I'm crestfallen. They are projecting the film itself digitally. This was nothing like what IMAX is supposed to be. And don't say it was because I wasn't lucky enough to get a seat all the way in the back row next to the booth. I don't care how far away I sit, I know when something is being projected digitally. To confirm, I just had to turn my head and see two digital cinema projectors going in the booth -- IMAX digital uses two aligned projectors to brighten the image and partially soften the image to try to hide the obvious screen-door effect of digital projection. Had I not been there with Jennifer and a group friends, I would have left and gotten a refund.

After the film, I asked the manager on duty if they had completely removed the IMAX film projector. He said, "yes, we 'upgraded' to digital last week, and it's much better." I noted that it was not better, and that it was not indicated anywhere in their ads, online or otherwise, that this was not true IMAX. At this point, he seemed pretty surprised that the new gewgaw hadn't blown me out of my seat, but he did offer comp tickets -- to another IMAX movie! Before I actually lost my temper, I simply took a deep breath and walked away, sans tickets.

The IMAX corporate overlords seem to have forgotten that the whole basis of IMAX was built around high quality, specialty 70mm film.

So, what I take away from this is that I no longer need to pay a premium for IMAX in Columbus.