09 November 2006

ITS HERE - The Spider-Man 3 Trailer!

UPDATE! Its here:

A new Spidey trailer is coming today. It should feature some of these guys. So check back later today and it should get it up. Until then, the last trailer is still cool! Or check out some movie spoilers.

07 November 2006

Ink Blots XXXVII - The Thief and the Cobbler - Recobbled Cut

Its November and under appreciated gems month.

Before he directed animation on Who Framed Roger Rabbit, Richard Williams spent over 30 years creating a film that was to be The Thief and the Cobbler. This film was well known by those in animation circles as many of them had worked on it over the course of its development. Ironically, the premise of Thief was "borrowed" as inspiration for the Blockbuster Disney production Aladdin. In the meantime, Williams received financial support to finish The Thief and the Cobbler, but failed to meet deadlines. Sadly, Williams was fired from his life's work, and the picture was eventually sold to Disney. Whatever their motivation (possibly to prevent their own Aladdin from being out done) Disney butchered the film. Silent characters were given lines. Wisecracking celebrities were added as were musical numbers, whole sections of film were edited out, and references to Aladdin were edited in. The film was released theatrically as Arabian Knight in 1995 earning a dismal $669,000. The movie was later released on DVD under its original title, The Thief and the Cobbler. Adding insult to injury, this video would be available for free as a cereal box promotion.

Fortunately, the story does not end there. Some of the Disney animators smuggled out workprints and storyboards of this film, recognizing them as part of a masterpiece. Animation enthusiast Garret Gilchrist was able to get a hold of the original workprint along with footage from various overseas releases of the film. Additionally, he undertook the job of restoring storyboards and unfinished animation to create a Recobbled Cut of The Thief and the Cobbler. It is this restored cut that is the subject of this review.

Though integral to the story, neither the Thief nor the Cobbler have any lines throughout the film (save one). The Cobbler, is a simple man named Tack who stumbles into the royal palace and quickly befriends Princess Yum-Yum (and repairs her shoes of course). The Thief remains nameless. He is always seen with a swarm of flies hovering above his stinky body. Though he is called a thief, I think the Clepto would be more befitting name for him as he snatches everything in sight with little concern for the perils he is putting himself in. Wherever the story goes, the Thief is there hiding treasures in his pockets.

The main story involves the sinister Royal Vizier Zigzag's (who looks uncannily like Aladdin's Jafar, but is blue and is voiced expertly by Vincent Price) scheme to win the hand of the princess by treachery and cunning. With his bird Iago... I mean Fido by his side, he teams up with an invading army of "one-eyes" to conquer the golden city. Of course, love wins out in the end, and the simple Cobbler becomes the hero of prophesy.

While the plot may sound pretty straightforward, the delivery is anything but. As the plot advances, the action cuts away to check in on the Thief who's persistent, though usually vain efforts to make it big kept me enthralled. Also, the defeat of the invading army result from a grand chain reaction of events that simply must be seen to be believed.

What is most amazing on this film is the attention to detail. In one scene, as bath bubbles float and wobble through the room, they reflect the intricate checkered tile with perfection. In fact marvelously elaborate designs adorn the walls of the entire palace. In one sequence these designs serve to create a chase though an M.C. Escher inspired optical illusion, all with no CGI. Later, the marauding army is animated in meticulous enormity, and the mechanical war machine's moving pieces rotate and spin with unbelievable detail. I could go on about the perfect blowing wind effects, or spectacular zooms out from character close ups to city views, but the bottom line is that this film is a marvel to behold and a joy to watch. The cobbler brings heart to the screen, but the thief steals the show with his Wile E Coyote turned criminal-like antics. Unfortunately, the film is incomplete. Given the possibility that Roy Disney may be able to oversee this films eventual completion in a respectable form, I must reserve the highest score for a better version. Until then Thief must settle for an A-.

Also, thanks to Kory for letting me know about this film and for getting me a copy to watch and enjoy.

06 November 2006

Superheroes on Screen - Spider-Man 3 Baddies

UPDATE!!! Better Quality VENOM image added. Click it for full effect.

While we wait for this Thursday's debut of the new Spider-Man 3 trailer, here is a sneak peek at conceptual digital models from the movie! We have the Snowboarding Goblin, the uber cool Venom, and Sandy the Sandman.

Spider-Man / Spider-Man 2 (Widescreen Special Editions)