Monday, February 27, 2012

New Stills from 'Wrath of the Titans' vs Old Stills from 'John Carter'

We've gotten a bunch of new stills from 'Wrath of the Titans'. I like these:

They have a presence. Hard to just glance at them and move on, dismissively. CGI in the top one perhaps needs another pass at texturing, but these may not be fully finished products. Still, optical polish aside, they have a core, a spine. Based on them and trailers, I'm looking forward to Wrath.

I get a completely different vibe from similar stills from 'John Carter', which I think bears comparison considering genre, storyline, setting, etc. Like this one:

Again, needs some polish -- elements don't sit quite right, angle and intensity of lighting is off -- but this may not be a finished product. Beside the point. It's the feel of the imagery I'm talking about. I know this is a Disney product but, still, the creatures are off. They're too hokey for older viewers (how they got a purely computerized monster to look like guys in suits I don't know) but a bit too much for younger kids. There's also a disconnect between Taylor Kitsch and what's going on behind him (his expression just doesn't fit):

Look at the guy's face -- he may as well be launching a row boat at the lake on a summer afternoon, a beer and sandwich within arm's reach. This has to be due to some generic direction during green-screen shooting. (Really, I hope there's another pass or two in the works for the CGI. This is just not there yet).

Compare it to this still from Wrath.

The creature is more appropriate and (even though we can't see his face) Sam Worthington seems more engaged. I know, it's totally subjective, but I get a more visceral feeling from this one whereas the JC still is has no emotional center. Here's a crop from the Wrath image above that reflects the quality of direction.

Looks better to me.

Here's another good example. Compare this shot from 'John Carter':

To this one from 'Wrath of the Titans':

Very close, both in lighting and mood. Objectively you can't say one's better, of course, but to me there's a sense of wonder in the Wrath shot that's a result of more dialed-in direction. They're going for the same feel in the JC scene but neither actor seems sure where they're supposed to be, mentally. One shot resonates on a character level, the other has an 'assembly line' feel, like TV from the 60s -- 'Star Trek' maybe.

So far, everything about 'John Carter' has struck me as superficial, while 'Wrath of the Titans' comes across much better, with more depth. Wrath director Jonathan Liebesman (Battle Los Angeles) seems more at home than JC director Andrew Stanton (Wall-E, Finding Nemo).

Both sets of stills need some tuning. However, the ones from JC are too rough and were not ready to be released.


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