Sunday, February 26, 2006

Fort Point San Francisco

My storyboarding class went on location to shoot some reference material for a project we're working on. Of course the day ends up with me acting like a private investigator who just saved a woman from throwing herself into the bay.

Out Of The Silent Planet by: C.S. Lewis


In my studies of: animation, comics, and film making I've learned that story is pretty much king in any project. C.S. Lewis is definately one of the modern "kings" of literature in my opinion, but this book didn't really score as highly as his other work in my mind.
The story is an account of how a man named Dr. Ransom was high-jacked while traveling on foot through the Brittish countryside by two other scientsits, Dr. Weston and Dr. Devine. The two villains forcefully take Ransom to the planet Malacandra where they intend to offer him as a living sacrifice to the inhabitants of the planet.
I liked the book all the way up to about the middle where Dr. Ransom was learning about the culture and language of the natives of Malacandra, and Lewis intigrates a few of the Malacandrean terms into the regular text of the book so you almost feel like you're learning a bit of the language along with Ransom. The qualms that I had with the story came somewhere around three quarters of the way through the book where it was time for some of the conflict to be resolved. I found the resolutions to some of the problems the main character faced to come too easily without much struggle. In all fairness this is only the first book of a space trilogy, so I do have more reading to do.
At the very end of the book Lewis includes a fictional postcript in the form of a correspondance that he had with Dr. Ransom. I really love it when authors come up with a clever backstory to how they supposedly came across the tale they just wrote. This sort of fictionalizing even the reality of the book goes hand in hand with Lewis' "Screwtape Letters" where he claims that he came into posession of a collection of letters that two demons wrote to eachother.
All in all, I'll have to read the following two books to formulate my complete opinion of this sci-fi story, but as of right now I find it lacking in suspence. I may change my mind upon reading the rest of the trilogy.

Saturday, February 25, 2006

Night Watch

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I once had a Narrative Story Telling Instructor who said that if any of our short stories had anything to do with vampires we would get an automatic F for the class, and with good reason. Vampires are right up there with ninjas on the extremely played out list, but this film gets a B+ in my book and I'll tell you why. I went in thinking that the movie could go one of two ways. Either it would be a lame foreign vampire movie with all the cliches, or it would be an artsy new take on the whole vampire mythology, and I would end up enjoying it very much. I was very surprised by this film, and I'm glad to say that it leaned towards my latter suspicion.
The story starts out with the classic battle between light and dark. There have been beings living amongst humanity since the beginning of time called "Others." These beings each fall under one of three catagories: vampires, withces, or shape-shifters. It is the choice of every individual "Other" to join a side of the eternal war, the light side (good) or the dark side (evil). I thought it was interesting that the film starts off with both opposing sides in a thousand year truce where some are neighors and even friends with those on the other side. There is some bad blood amongst the two factions in the form of politics because each side has formed a sort of police force to watch the other side, and make sure that no one breaks the truce. The dark side has their Day Watch, and the light side has a Night Watch. Politics come into play when you find out that the Night Watch has some power over the dark side in the fact that dark siders have to be liscensed by the light side to turn a human into a vampire, or for witches to mettle in human affairs.
The film follows a man by the name of Anton Gordesky who finds out he's an other after a traumatic experience triggers his supernatural abilities. He gets recruited by one of the side's police forces, and has to make many difficult descisions in order to keep the truce. Things get shakey between the two sides after Anton makes a controversial descision while in a tight fix, and two big messes surface that only he can clean up. One is just another bump in the road in his line of work, while the other might hit really close to home.
One thing you'll have to keep in mind is that there are two films to follow after "Night Watch." Some of my friends found the ending to be a little too sudden, and some revelations in the story don't make complete sense, so please be aware this is only the first chapter of the story. I'm sure many things will come to light in the next two sequals. Another thing to watch out for is that this film is rated R for a reason; so don't bring the kiddies. There is a quick shot of a woman's breast in the movie, but it's not sexual. There is also a little violence, but not a whole lot.
I really enjoyed that the sub titles were animated to follow the action on the screen, and sometimes they were even up in the visuals rather than stuck below. I thought that was a great way to keep us slow readers involved in the action up top. I also enjoyed the artsy special effects of the film. Some of the effects might have been a little hokey as far as technical approach, but they were all still very visually dynamic. I also like that the Night Watch's uniforms kind of look like the Ghost Busters uniforms. I also found that there were some well placed light hearted scenes to give you a break from the intensity of the story. Over-all I would give this film a strong B. I'll definately be waiting in line when the next two films to come out.
You can go to the official sight here and watch a 2 1/2 minute quick view of the entire movie to get a feel of what it'll look like. Don't worry, the cuts are too quick for it to spoil anything in the story.

Any Resemblance?

My good friend and colleague Andy Froilan likens me to the DC Comics character The Martian Manhunter a lot. I think the whole thing started because the Martian Manhunter is a character that I've always liked, but as time went on we've discovered a lot of creepy simularities between the two of us.
I submit to you the following

Exhibit A:
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The resemblance is uncanny wouldn't you say? (sorry for the unfocused image)

Exhibit B:
The Martian Manhunter's real name is J'onn. Some call him John. My name happens to be John. Coincidence? I think not.

Exhibit C:
Martian Manhunter is obviously from Mars. He's an alien to Earth, and as a Christian I know what that feels like. I am in this world, but not of it. (1 Peter 2:10-12 NIV and Hebrews 11:13-14NIV)

Exhibit D:
Many members of the Justice League go to J'onn J'onzz for advice since they perceive him to be a sensative person understanding, and accepting of others. I've found that for some reason or another, people are very comfortable with me and ask for advice on deep matters or the heart and soul.

In conclusion; I'm obviously a geek looking desperately for something to do other than my massive loads of homework. I know that J'onn J'onzz would take responsibility for his various tasks, so I'm getting back to work.

Just For Starters

Every now and then I write down one of my random thoughts. I've been told that I think differently about a lot of things. I don't know how true that is since I can't see into any of your minds, but I like to share these daily queries of mine for fun's sake. Maybe I am a lot different from you. You tell me.

Random thought #1:
"Have you ever thought about what a disgusting custom it is to blow out the candles on a birthday cake? I'm sure the person conducting the blowing hasn't brushed or rinsed in the last hour or so, otherwise they wouldn't be partaking in this cake with their highly sterile minty breath. Now that this person has blown their bad breath and spit all over the cake, everyone is dying to dig in. I think next year I'm going to do everyone involved the courtesy of not blowing out the candles."