Wanna see something cool? Academy Award favourite Life of Pi is playing in 3D at the Whistler Village 8 this week and this is the rare flick where the 3D transcends its gimmicky nature and actually adds to the viewing experience.
An enthralling tale of a young boy on a life raft with a pissed-off Bengal tiger, Life of Pi is based on the bestselling (and once-deemed "unfilmable") novel by Canada's Yann Martel.
Best Director winner Ang Lee (Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, The Ice Storm) laces the film with stunning surrealist images and the CGI tiger is crazy awesome. A visual masterpiece, this is 3D at its finest, and while some audiences felt ripped off with the ending it's still worth checking out on the big screen.
Also opening this week in 3D (or 2D), Oz the Great and Powerful never quite pulls off the same wow factor as Life of Pi (or even the original Oz film) but director Sam Raimi (Evil Dead, Spider-Man 1, 2 and 3) does manage to have a lot of fun with the 3D format, poking at the audience with spears and sending flying monkeys to and fro.
The simplistic story stars James Franco as a kind of huckster carnival magician who ends up riding a hot air balloon into a tornado and wakes up in the land of Oz, where strange things happen and folks seem to think he is some sort of saviour. Toss in some hot witches (Mila Kunis, Rachel Weisz) an overused kids-love-animals monkey sidekick and a sassy porcelain doll and the end result is semi-decent, light-hearted, uber-colourful family entertainment. Oz is not epic but for once it's nice to see a kiddie movie climax with a battle of wits rather than armies, war and bloodshed.
The opening sequences of Oz are some of the strongest as Raimi sets up a perfect circus world trapped in sepia and a 4:3 aspect ratio before he blows out the colour and widescreens things up once we reach the magical realm. While the visuals are certainly the main star, the actors deserve credit for hamming it up enough without overdoing it. The film borrows from Alice in Wonderland, Shrek and Tim Burton but kids probably won't care because by now everything is a remix of old ideas anyhow. (Hit up everythingisaremix.info to watch an incredible web series on that idea.)
The newest teaser for Iron Man 3 dropped this week and it's also worth checking out. Gwyneth Paltrow (Royal Tennenbaums, Seven, Shakespeare in Love) and Ben Kingsley (Gandhi) both have Academy Awards, yet here they are dodging CGI explosions with the best of them. Comic book movies are as big as it gets these days and Iron Man, the surprise King of the Castle, drops May 3. This year's "Summer Blockbuster Season" will kick off before the ski season even ends.
The Download of the Week is Sound City, directed by Dave Grohl of Nirvana/Foo Fighters fame. It's a documentary recounting the days of analog music recording and Sound City Studios, a grungy little studio in California that produced some of rock and roll's greatest albums, mostly due to its unique mixing board. Grohl and friends gather to jam and reminisce about the days before digital recording and autotune changed the way people make and consume music (hint: it was better back in the day). This one is an excellent flick for any serious music fan who wonders, "Am I just getting old, or is a lot of this new stuff pure shite?"
The answer is probably both.