Movie Review: Jurassic World

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Good ol’ dinosaur park has lost its novelty? Create something new that’s bigger and scarier, people will come and pay to get frightened. The basic plot of Jurassic World is pretty much the movie franchise’s situation. 20 odd years after the original Jurassic Park, prehistoric faunas walking the present day won’t wow anyone, so the studios resort to creating something more furious, from the basic ingredients. Does the recipe work? Fasten your seatbelts, keep your hands and bodyparts inside the vehicle at all times, we’re going for another ride around Isla Nublar.

Present day, Jurassic World is now a full fledged luxurious theme park resort that’s been around for a while, actually long enough that dinosaurs as an attraction is no longer that fantastic, and business is slowing down. A new attraction always draws more visitors, but since they’ve pretty much made all the dinosaurs there is, including a gigantic waterbourne thing called mosasaurus that snacks on sharks, Jurassic World execs and scientists decided to then engineer a whole new hybrid species on their own. New monster on the block brings ‘more teeth’ and playfully named ‘Indominus Rex’. Of course nothing can go wrong, right? Well surely enough things went south, the Indominus Rex got loose, chaos ensues, people gets eaten, more dinos run amok, and fun begins.

Despite the whole DNA engineering and hybrid dinosaurs science talk, the nature and science undertone evident in the original now takes a backseat. It’s great to see the direct approach of Jurassic World as an action blockbuster this time around. This sequel is a straightforward ride of thrills and scares, and as such, it is quite effective. There have never been more all out action, carnage, guns, bullets, destruction and ‘controlled gore’ in a Jurassic Park movie before. While the first act really takes its time, Jurassic World goes full throttle in second and third. Visually, ‘World’ seems to have more color than ‘Parks’, possibly due to the more announced use of CGI in environments, while creature-wise, the animals mostly look less real than previous movies. The action scenes in Jurassic World doesn’t shy away from getting big, a refreshing change from the previous lonely jungle island settings, as now the Disneyworld-like resort has got 20,000 tourists in danger. jurassic-world-pratt-howard-fb1 On the star-power side, Chris Pratt took to his role rather well as Owen Grady, an ex-Navy military man turned raptor-wrangler-hero. That’s right, he trains velociraptors, popular baddies from the previous instalments. Looking handsome and costumed almost like a character designed for an adventure video game, Pratt convinces you that he’s the guy you’ll count on to survive a dino-park chaos. Seriously, riding a classic motorcycle while flanked by badass raptors? Awesome scene unimaginable by old school Jurassic Park fan. If you’re worried that Chris will act Star-Lord style, be at ease, he did not. Meanwhile, Bryce Dallas Howard plays Claire, the ‘suit’ that’s so busy running the resort island, she didn’t have time to attend to her visiting nephews Gray and Zach, played adequately by Ty Simpkins and Nick Robinson. The kids got lost amidst the chaos and Beth took the aid of Owen to find them, while transforming from a stiff exec into suddenly-adventure-hardened woman in the process. NEojaVoDdptSrw_1_a Being a straightforward action adventure this time around, Jurassic World needs no deep plot, back story or elaborate subplots. All the action makes up for those absence. However, it is the lack of depth in its characters that holds this solid actioner from being a full blown entertainment powerhouse. Pratt’s Owen, while believable as a capable hero the audience will root for, lack any story despite the effort on building his character in the first act. Showing more emotion than everyone else in the movie, Bryce Dallas Howard’s Claire is also someone you will probably accept or like, but nothing more. And the two kids, despite having had their emotional moments and a back story, felt somehow underdeveloped. I feel like the makers wondered, how should they write the siblings. Nasty? Good? Troubled? Not too troubled? Doesn’t get along good, or do they? They even have this subplot that seems to somehow disappear. Anyway, you will most likely like all these main characters, and you will want to love them more, but you can’t, as you find that there’s really nothing much under the surface. No you won’t complain. I won’t complain too. Yet I can’t help but imagine how much better Jurassic World would be if the characters weren’t so paper thin. 25112014_jurassic_world_1 In the end, I left the theater feeling quite happy as a Jurassic Park fan. Jurassic World is a legit thrill ride, and you gotta give the makers credit, because really, after two less-glorious sequels, it’s hard to pull this one off. It would be so easy to screw this one up and make a bomb, but director Colin Trevorrow didn’t, and achieved the opposite. Just like how the scientists engineered a brand new dinosaur, the franchise cooked up a different approach that seems to serve itself well. Jurassic World brings Jurassic Park to the new generation, and if this is how they roll, I won’t mind another sequel.

Special thanks to Mercedes-Benz Indonesia for the media screening of Jurassic World.

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Movie Review: Furious 7

Go ahead, see the trailer first. Or not. Whatever. Like many, I’ve seen the trailers and a couple of behind-the-scenes featurettes of Furious 7 before I went to see it at the theatres. I’ve heard raves, comments and positive reviews, from that surprise SXSW screening to major blogs and those from average joes like me. Having seen the trailers and read reviews, I was ready for what most of them suggests: a relentless adrenaline charged vehicular action flick that will entertain the shit out of you with only one caveat, leave logics outside the door and just go in for a good time, thrills, laughs and even perhaps a bit of a teary eye. Hell, game on.

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One last ride.

Once the movie kicks it in high gear, it almost never stops. Sometimes it gets so kinetic up to the point that it seems James Wan directed the whole thing drinking Red Bull mixed with NOS. This is not to say that Furious 7 doesn’t have heart, in fact, it’s the other way around, the franchise have never been this touchy-feely emotional. Part of it perhaps has got something to do with the passing of Paul ‘Brian’ Walker and I am pleased to say it’s all good. Director Wan managed to compose everything in such a rhythm that will have you moving from spectacular action fest to a soapy drama, with sitcom moments in between, rinse, repeat, seamlessly. Safe to say, the chorus of complimenting reviews about Fast & Furious 7 is quite spot on. And the tribute to Paul Walker, is probably the sweetest and most touching I’ve ever saw. Yes, I shed a tear.

Can't help but be reminded of Sex & The City 2 trailer.

Can’t help but be reminded of Sex & The City 2 trailer.

There really is no need for another review on James Wan’s take on Dom’s family adventures number seven, not one that echoes the others. I watched the movie with a satisfactory grin, fist pumping in the air, and got a little misty in the eye at least a couple of times. What else can you ask for a popcorn entertainment, right? Yet, I walked out of the theatre feeling something was not quite right. It’s not about the increasingly crazy over-the-top stunts, it’s not about having to do away with logic, those are fine. It’s about identity. Even with numerous nostalgic moments and returning characters, it feels as if it Furious 7 has lost its identity.

Remember what was the franchise about when it started?

Remember what was the franchise about when it started?

As big a Fast & Furious plots gets before this, it’s still grounded. In Furious 7, it took no time to start making me think of Transformers or Diesel’s XXX, and by the third act it got so unrecognizable that I find myself wondering whether I’m watching a Fast and Furious movie, a Mission Impossible sequel or something with the word ‘Marvel’s’ on the title. Sure there’s ol’ Dom, Brian, Letty, Tej and Roman, muscle cars and rice rockets, they don’t change, but what world is this? To go from a very grounded premise of illegal street racing to something that looks like James Wan is auditioning for an Avengers or Transformers sequel, is quite a jump. It also feels like it decided to evolve merely to justify following the basic rule of action franchises: make everything bigger and crazier.

They actually did this for real,

From the modest streets of LA, to global espionage plot.

Of course, there is no rule that says that is wrong. The audience is happy! Who says stories of Los Angeles illegal street racers can’t evolve into bigger premises? If the 6th and 7th showed us something, is that Dom and the gang -I mean, family, will only face increasingly epic scenarios lightyears from their roots of living lives “a quarter of a mile at a time”. If the franchise goes on to 10, I won’t be surprised we’ll see Toretto squares off with a boss alien xenomorph. But me, as a fan, hopes it doesn’t go that way. I love the stunts, the gravity defying scenes, I don’t nitpick about logics or plot loopholes, but I do care about the original concept that is The Fast and The Furious. Please keep it close to its roots. To director James Wan, congratulations on pulling off a tough job and giving Brian a more than proper farewell. It’s a hell of an entertaining spectacle. Surely hope the next one will still be (back to being) a Fast & Furious, and not an Avengers or Mission Impossible wannabe.

Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera: Alternatif Baru

Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera

Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera

Sementara banyak videographer yang selalu tertarik dengan banyak kamera-kamera baru seperti Canon C-series atau sang pendatang ‘underdog’ Blackmagic Cinema Camera, saya belum begitu merasa tertarik. Kenapa? Soalnya untuk pekerjaan saya saat ini kemampuan video DSLR sudah cukup, dan  harga ke semua mainan baru itu masih sangat tinggi. Dan ini kita belum bicara soal workflow dan lain-lainnya. Baru dari NAB kemarin ada kabar yang lumayan membuat saya jadi melirik, kali ini Blackmagic Design meluncurkan satu lagi kamera video, tapi dengan bentuk dan harga yang relatif ‘kecil’, namanya Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera.

Mengusung sensor ukuran Super 16 yang memberikan video full HD dengan dynamic range sebanyak 13 stop, Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera menjanjikan kualitas video yang lebih baik daripada DSLR. Terutama di set yang terang. Dengan ukuran yang sepertinya kurang lebih sama dengan Sony NEX atau Samsung NX, BMPCC menggunakan lensa mount MFT. Belum ada kabar apakah akan ada versi lensa EF mount seperti abangnya, BMCC. Saya nggak akan bahas detil teknisnya karena bisa langsung lihat di website nya, tapi satu yang menarik sekali buat saya adalah harganya, us$995.

Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera - MFT Lens

Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera – MFT Lens

Jika dengan harga ini bisa lebih baik daripada DSLR mainstream, mungkin bisa jadi alternatif yang menarik walau lensanya di sini nggak begitu populer. Toh kayaknya bisa pakai adapter. Yang belum ketahuan, bagaimana dengan kemampuan low light nya? Kita tunggu saja, kabarnya akan mulai dipasarkan di bulan Juli. Di Indonesia sudah mulai ada yang memesan kakaknya, Blackmagic Cinema Camera, tapi bagaimana dengan si ‘kecil’ ini? Ada yang sudah pesan?

Membuat Timelapse Jarak Jauh Secara ‘Live’ Dengan Samsung Galaxy Camera

Satu manfaat nyata dari ‘connected camera’ seperti Samsung Galaxy Camera adalah kemampuan untuk secara otomatis mengunggah semua hasil jepretan ke cloud storage seperti DropBox, dan adalah ide dari rekan videografer Lucas Ony untuk memanfaatkan ini dalam pembuatan timelapse yang termonitor secara ‘live’ di lain kota.

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Timelapse semakin sering digunakan di video-video sebagai insert transisi antar segmen, dan pembuatannya masih cukup tradisional dengan intervalometer pada kamera. Kamera disiapkan, ditinggal, atau ditunggui, dan setelah itu baru hasilnya dirangkai sebagai sekuens. Jika ada kesalahan, atau ada masalah dengan kamera, tidak akan ketahuan sebelum selesai semua. Masalah ini bisa diatasi dengan connected camera seperti Samsung Galaxy Camera.

Percobaan timelapse di atas memang sekilas tidak ada yang terlalu istimewa, memang hanya test, keunikannya adalah di pembuatannya. Timelapse ini direkam oleh saya pada suatu pagi di Jakarta Selatan, menggunakan app Camera FV-5 dan dengan fitur auto-upload DropBox dan koneksi 3G di Samsung Galaxy Camera, hasil bisa langsung diterima dan dirangkai puluhan kilometer jauhnya di studio rekan Lucas Ony di Serpong.

Infographic by Lucas Ony

Infographic by Lucas Ony

Ini adalah manfaat nyata sebuah kamera bukan hanya pintar namun juga ‘connected’, terhubung ke internet secara mandiri. Bisa menjadi solusi alternatif pembuatan timelapse jarak jauh yang termonitor. Jika sampai ada kesalahan teknis, atau ada sesuatu yang terjadi pada kamera, semua file sudah aman di cloud.

Alat yang dipakai:

1. Samsung Galaxy Camera

2. Koneksi internet 3G atau WiFi

3. Aplikasi Camera FV-5

4. DropBox

Urutan kerja:

1. Atur Samsung Galaxy Camera agar semua foto otomatis diupload ke DropBox

2. Gunakan app Camera FV-5 dan atur folder outputnya

Setelah Video DSLR Jadi Mainstream, Apa Lagi?

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Apa lagi yang bakal mengguncang dunia videography dan indie filmmaking? Lahirnya kemampuan rekam video di kamera DSLR merevolusi semuanya, memberi akses terjangkau untuk menciptakan video dengan visual yang bukan sekedar tajam namun juga punya dimensi. Tidak lagi datar dan hambar. Dengan begitu banyak pilihan di semua range harga, hampir semua filmmaking-enthusiast mampu beli HDSLR sekarang. Produsen kamera pun juga hepi. Teknologi sudah sampai di titik yang baru. Tapi terus apa lagi dari sisi hardware? Resolusi lebih tinggi? 4K? Ah, buat saya nggak menarik. Belum. Emangnya mau bikin apa sampai butuh Ultra HD? Selain overkill, harga kamera dan workflownya juga belum bersahabat. Yang saya tunggu adalah produk revolusioner, yang menggerakkan massa, yang terjangkau, dan masuk akal, bukan produk kelas atas yang overkill. Yang realistis.

Sebelum ada produk yang mendobrak seperti waktu pertama kali Nikon D90 keluar dengan kemampuan video, dan disusul Canon 5DMkII, rasanya sekarang ini seperti stagnan. Canon Cinema 1D? C300? RED? Ngiler? Saya sih nggak. Gimana yah, nggak kepake dan nggak kebeli. Ngapain ngiler? Kayaknya untuk waktu lama, memang HDSLR jadi solusi standard. Mungkin terobosan berikutnya bukan di kameranya. Di operasi, di workflow. Mobile devices seperti smartphone atau tablet sudah mulai masuk ke fotografi dan videografi. Seperti saya bisa mengendalikan secara live-view HDSLR saya di layar smartphone. Mungkin monitoring jadi lebih murah, focus pulling jadi lebih mudah. Entahlah, kita tunggu. Pastinya, bisa ada lagi yang membuat semuanya semakin praktis juga terjangkau.

Anyway, ini cuma ocehan saya yang gemes karena merasa mestinya bisa ada terobosan baru yang bikin semakin praktis, mudah dan murah. Ini karena ngelihat teknologi mobile computing lagi kenceng banget, tapi di ‘kamera’ terasa terlalu pelan mengadaptasinya.

Film Review: Modus Anomali

Salah satu film nasional yang paling ditunggu-tunggu penggemar film Indonesia di 2012 akhirnya tiba, dan saya mendapat kesempatan ikutan nonton gala premiere nya semalam. Review ini adalah kesan pribadi saya menonton Modus Anomali.

Modus Anomali dimulai dengan cepat tanpa ba-bi-bu, langsung memberikan misteri, teka-teki dan ketegangan yang membuat saya menahan napas. Hebatnya, walau hampir selalu bisa menebak kapan bakal dikejutkan, tetap saja film ini efektif bikin jantungan. Beberapa menit berlalu dan yang tadinya dimulai dengan tancap gas kemudian rasanya seperti menginjak rem lalu  jalan pakai ‘gigi 1’. Pelan sekali. Rasa penasaran saya mulai berganti jadi ketidak sabaran, kemudian mendekati bosan. Keingin-tahuan akan jawaban teka-teki berubah jadi sekedar menunggu akhir film untuk melihat apakah kecurigaan saya benar. Semakin lama saya makin merasa ini seperti materi 30 menit yang dipanjang-panjangkan menjadi feature film. Seperti sebuah episode serial TV Alfred Hitchcock, Twilight Zone, atau Ray Bradbury Theater yang dimelarkan. Andai hanya 30 menit, rasanya Modus Anomali akan memukau. Atau ya sejam lah maksimal.

Ada satu hal yang sangat mengganggu saya di Modus Anomali, yaitu pemakaian bahasa Inggris. Sepertinya bahasa Inggris dipakai untuk menunjukkan cerita ini bukan mengambil setting di Indonesia. Sah-sah saja, namun sayangnya pelafalan canggung yang kadang ‘belibet’ plus intonasi aneh sulit diabaikan kuping saya. Mungkin pemilihan bahasa ini juga berhubungan dengan akting pemain, yang buat saya rasanya kok ya di bawah kualitas akting di film-film Joko Anwar sebelumnya. Apa karena  pemakaian bahasa Inggris saja sudah beban tersendiri, akting jadi dua kali lebih berat? Bisa jadi, entahlah, saya cuma nebak. Tapi saya yakin sekali, jika saja memakai Bahasa Indonesia, mestinya akan bisa lebih natural.

Yang fantastis dari Modus Anomali bagi saya adalah sound. Rasanya belum pernah ketemu film nasional yang bisa memanfaatkan suara dalam membangun suasana sekuat Modus Anomali. Penempatan sound effect secara maksimal memanfaatkan kemampuan Dolby Digital. Menonton ini kita tahu dari mana setiap gemerisik semak belukar datang, ke mana langkah-langkah kaki misterius berlalu, dan betapa malam hari di hutan itu bisa mencekam. Peran suara di film ini rasanya menjadi lebih krusial dari biasanya. Pastikan menonton di bioskop dengan sound system yang terbaik dan buktikan sendiri betapa luar biasa sound design di Modus Anomali!

Pada akhirnya, walau nggak bisa bilang menyukai film ini, saya hormat pada keberanian produser dan sutradara yang serius menggarap film dengan genre yang begitu langka di Indonesia. Di tempat di mana film mirip perjudian, dengan kemungkinan kalah jauh lebih besar daripada peluang menang, Modus Anomali adalah salah satu pertaruhan berani. Menunjukkan tekad dan keberanian, untuk melangkah lebih daripada sekedar permainan aman. Semoga sukses dan memberi inspirasi bagi perfilman Indonesia untuk berani mencoba.