Tag Archives: CGI effects

Don’t forget

I saw Water for Elephants last night at a special early screening sponsored by Living Social.  Drinks, appetizers, the movie and a coupon for the book — all for $20?

I’m in.

Full disclosure — I haven’t read the book.  During the cocktail hour before the movie, I found that most of the people there had.  And they approached the film with equal parts excitement and expectation.

Me?  I had none. I was there based on the trailer alone.  (We all agreed that was good.)

I think we all agreed on the movie as well.  When an entire theatre filled with people cheers not once, but twice at the end of a film, that’s a good sign.

If, like me, you haven’t read Water for Elephants, it’s set in the Great Depression.  An Ivy League veterinary student loses his parents and his home at the start of the film.  Forced to find his own way in the world, he hops a train which, as fate would have it, is a struggling circus.  There he finds work and love — the girl, unfortunately, is the owner’s wife.

Wouldn’t ya know?

Christoph Waltz, who won an Oscar for Inglourious Basterds, is riveting as the circus owner and ringmaster.  He is unbelievably cruel — to both people and animals — but is still able to elicit some sympathy for his actions.

[My one hesitation in seeing the film was the animal cruelty I knew would be portrayed on screen. While it was there — all CGI, no animals were hurt in the making of this film — it was not overt, and off-camera when possible.  It will still hurt your feelings, but don’t skip the movie.]

Reece Witherspoon is all platinum hair and ice — a hardened circus performer.  She never really warmed up, though, which made her ‘desperate’ romance with Robert Pattinson a bit hard to believe.

And Robert?  Well, he finally has a role with a little more teeth in it — get it?  teeth?  you’re welcome — and I think he handled it quite well.  The cinematography, with all his sepia tones and sunsets to convey the era, suit him well.

If you just like looking at him, this film does not disappoint.  But his performance offers much more…something the major film critics are having to grit their teeth and admit.  I’m enjoying that as well.

Oh — and I can’t forget the elephant in the room.  She ends up being the star of the show.

Lovely vision

“I am in awe.”

I heard these words as I was filing out of the theater last night after seeing “The Lovely Bones,” and I thought that simple phrase kinda said it all.

I read Alice Sebold’s disturbing novel soon after its release in 2002 on a friend’s recommendation.  Although the subject matter is a bit gruesome  — a teenage girl brutally raped and murdered by a neighbor — seeing death and its effect on the survivors through the eyes of the victim was somehow life-affirming.

Now, anytime you love a book, the film will usually disappoint, and the critics have leapt upon Peter Jackson’s interpretation with claws unfurled.  “The Lovely Bones” movies had been declared only 40% fresh on rottentomatoes.com. Critics have chastised Jackson for both overdoing the visual effects of the “inbetween” — where victim Susie Salmon watches her family struggle with her murder before going on to the afterlive — to underdoing her rape and murder, which he alludes to onscreen but never shows graphically.

Personally, I was relieved Jackson didn’t show us a blow-by-blow account of her death; the more subtle ways he pointed to it were infinitely more chilling.  And, if you think about it, would Susie have taken those memories with her into the next life?  Wouldn’t she choose to leave the most horrendous details of her murder behind?

I certainly hope so.

“The Lovely Bones” movie honors the book by honoring the vision of Susie Salmon.  Jackson told the movie through her eyes, as the book told the story in her words.  It is a moving interpretation, made real by the amazing performances of Stanley Tucci and Saoirse Ronan.

Ignore the critics and see it. Then, go home and hug your family.