Archive for June, 2008

Stephen Sommers, director of such “extraordinary” films as The Mummy and The Mummy Returns, is known for needing a superfluous amount of special effects in his endeavors.

Don’t take our word for it: Crew at Industrial Light & Magic have conceived the Stephen Sommers Scale based on his demand for high-end, CGI-heavy special effects.

Now special effects serve many purposes of which many people are unaware. A boot that falls off of a car after being kicked several times is a special effect. A newspaper flying in from off-screen to hit an actor in the face is a special effect. Chroma-keying a green screen from behind a scene in order to put in a false background is a special effect. Golem was a special effect.

But Stephen Sommers relies primarily on Computer Generated Images for the majority of his special effects. So much so that ILM devised this scale to rate how much work their computers will be put through depending on what the director needs.

Without further adieu, here is the scale that they defined:

Level 1 – What the shot needs (lowest)
Level 2 – What the computers can handle
Level 3 – Oh my God, the computers are about to crash
Level 4 – What Steven wants (highest)

Learn them, because we’ll be referring to them from now on. Hope you enjoyed the read.


Get Smart or get outta here

Can Steve Carell do anything wrong? After watching Get Smart, the answer is a huge, resounding, unequivocal, unassailable “No”.

Peter Segal (50 First Dates, Anger Management) throws his hat into the ring as director and succeeds at putting together a slick evenly-toned effort, allowing the audience to laugh at and still feel for each of the characters. There’s even a moment for the BMI-challenged people in the audience to get an “in-your-face” trice to all the anorexic models out there.

Every actor puts forward a good effort as well. Anne Hathaway, as the pulse-pounder Agent 99, does her gender proud with a performance equaled only by her surreal (and inexplicable) beauty. Never have I seen her look so beautiful and yet think of her as a smarty-pants. At the same time, Dwayne Johnson stuns yet again as the suave and successful Agent 23. He seems to have more than what most action heroes do in the classic sense: Not only does he have the body of a Greek God but he’s smooth, smart and speaks English properly.

But the stalwart heart of this summer romp is the dead-pan, sardonic Carell. He’s believable as the smart Maxwell Smart should be and as bobbled in his bone-headed mistakes to boot. Oh, and the man can pull off action hero. Carell’s performance left me desperate for the sequel as soon as I got up to walk out of the theater.

This movie does have it’s downsides. First and foremost, the majority of the funniest sequences happen in the first 45 minutes. After that, it drags sluggishly towards the finish creating a movie that seems a bit longer than the 110 minute run-time. The other thing that seemed a little out of place is the blatant critiques of government. When you have a movie parodying intelligence agencies and doing a damn fine job of it, there’s no need for little lines that come right out and say what you’re already showing. There are quite a few of these lines throughout the movie and seem to take away from the interesting parody.

Nevertheless, for the few downsides this movie has it is still a very enjoyable film. There are plenty of laughs — whether slapstick, gross out or sarcasm — to go around, some fine acting on display, and some above-the-line brilliance in this flawed but enjoyable fair.

And there really can never be enough Steve Carell.

(***) Jessicas out of four. This movie was quite the hilarious summer movie that makes you leave with a smile on your face, whether you wanted to or not.