Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Time Masters (1982)

Title: Les Maitres Du Temps (a.k.a. Time Masters) (1982)

Director: Rene Laloux


In the vast world of animation, there is a small corner reserved for what is commonly referred to as ‘adult animation’. This term refers to animation films that aren’t about talking animals having to learn to believe in themselves or follow their dreams - nobel themes, but let’s face it, they’ve been done to death in children’s films. Nope, adult animation films are films that play with complex and adult themes, noted for experimental and sophisticated storytelling techniques. Certainly more complex and adult than anything you’d find in your regular Disney/Pixar films. In the case of ‘Les Maitres Du Temps’ (French for Time Masters) the film plays with themes of religion, despotism and the importance of what we choose to teach our children. Definitely not the kind of themes you’d find in animated films made in the United States. Hollywood can’t seem to disassociate animation from children’s films. They seem to think animation is only good for making films like Ice Age or Toy Story. I’m not bashing the validity and entertainment value of these children’s films, I’m just saying, animation films could be so much more! Animation films can go so much further in terms of the themes they can explore especially when you take in consideration that animated films don’t have to spend as much as a live film does. Imagination is truly the limit with these films. Only a few animators have taken a stab at producing animated films for adults in the United States, and I'll get into those later. The validity of adult animation is something that the rest of the world has known for a long time, for example, Japanese animation films have broken these boundaries by producing animation films for both children and adults equally. As you’ll see on my review for Time Masters, the French have also explored the world of adult animated films as well. Americans need to wake up to the amazing possibilities of animation films and take them further! A fine example of what adult animation films are like is Rene Laloux Time Masters.

Piel and his father, stranded on Planet Perdide
Time Masters tells the story of Piel a little boy who finds himself marooned and alone in a strange planet called Perdide. You see, Piel was with his parents driving around Perdide when suddenly they were attacked by a horde of giant killer hornets. The mother is killed by the creatures while Piel and his father manage to escape them! Unfortunately, their vehicle crashes and Piel’s father dies in the accident. Now, Piel, a little boy of no more then 8 years old finds himself completely alone in a planet filled with dangerous animal and plant life! Good news is that before he died, Piel’s father left him a communication device that allows Piel instant contact with Jaffar, an adventurer who was a close friend of his father. When Jaffar realizes Piel’s situation, he immediately decides to change course and head for Perdide to rescue Piel. Through out the whole ordeal, Jaffar manages to maintain constant communication with Piel thanks to the communication device his father left him. Through the little microphone, Jaffar tries his best to guide Piel through the strange planet so he won’t get into any trouble before he arrives. Will Piel manage to avoid the dangers of Planet Perdide?

Planet Perdide presents little Piel with many dangers!

This is what I love about adult animation: they are rich in themes and unafraid to explore challenging subject manner. Sadly, these type of adult oriented animated films are a rare commodity in the world we live in because they are not easy to market. The problem is that 95% of adults out there instantly associate any animated film with a children’s films. So whenever these films were released in theaters, they’d have a hard time finding their target audience. Thankfully, animators from around the world have always been making efforts to destroy these stigmas associated with animation films. One of the very first to do this in the United States was Ralph Bakshi; an artist and animator who has always tried to demonstrate that animation doesn’t exist solely for children. One look at Fritz the Cat (1972) and it’s clear. This was a film that was accused of being pornographic! It was the first animated film to receive an X rating! Yet it was the highest grossing independent animated film of its time. In Bakshi’s animated films characters had sex, did drugs and listened to rock and roll. He continued this all through out his career with films like Heavy Traffic (1973), Coonskin (1975) a film that heavily criticized racism and racist stereotypes (yet was accused of being racist!) and Hey Good Lookin (1982). To avoid further controversy, Bakshi would take things in a different direction by diving into the world of fantasy with films like Wizards (1977), his own adaptation of Lord of the Rings (1978) and an awesome homage to Robert E. Howard’s Conan novels called Fire and Ice (1983). Point is there’s always been animators out there trying to break this barrier, trying to destroy this stigma that has always existed with animation films. Another filmmaker that we can add to this roster was Rene Laloux.

The film was conceptualized by 'Moebius' 

First film I ever saw by Rene Laloux was Le Planet Sauvage (1973) a.k.a. Fantastic Planet, I was amazed by it. This film immediately got masterpiece status from this reviewer. If you ever want to know just how bizarre, different, otherworldly and profound animation can be, watch Fantastic Planet. It’s a story about a society divided between the working class and the powerful. It deals with philosophical themes pertaining society, and why it’s often times divided into factions. The working class is represented by a race of little midget creatures, while the powerful are giants that see them as pets, as a distraction. But what happens when the working class begins to develop a brain? When they begin to desire education, and something more out of life? Deep themes are explored on this film to be sure, but Fantastic Planet succeeds on a whole other level as well: its visuals! The different races look so completely bizarre, so outlandish…it’s a delight simply to look at this film, highly recommend it to those who have never experienced it. In many ways, it’s a very subversive film that shows the importance of education as a means to freedom. After watching Fantastic Planet and Time Masters it became obvious to me that Rene Laloux always aimed his guns at themes that trouble society. Even Gandahar (1987) a.k.a. Light Years, the last film he directed before his death in 2004, deals with themes of oppression against society and the need we all have to be free. So Laloux was a very socially conscious filmmaker who had chosen animation as his weapon of choice.

Everyone gets a chance to guide Piel

In Time Masters, everyone on Jaffar’s ship manages to talk to Piel at some point, and everybody gives him different kinds of advice. This to me was a key premise in the film and its themes; it shows how adults are the ones responsible for how a child’s life is going to go during those formative years. And it’s the adult’s responsibility to guide the child, and send him off on the best course of life that they can. Sadly, this doesn’t always happen because not all parents or adults are reliable. Some will have downright evil plans for a child, some are totally uncaring towards their children’s course in life and will send a child down a dark and dangerous path. This happens to Piel in the film, when he gets some bad advice from someone who wants him dead. So the film comments on the responsibility adults have with children, on how our teachings, our words, can send a child on the proper path, or not. Ultimately, we all end up alone in this world, and then it’s up to ourselves to choose our path in life, but until then, parents are like God to a child. I found it so interesting how the film got me to care about Piel, the little kid on the alien planet. I mean, he comes off as so innocent, so vulnerable and the planet so dangerous and hungry. So the film deserves Kudos for managing that alone in my book!

Speaking of God, the film also addresses religion. On his way towards the Planet Perdide, Jafaar and crew encounter a planet called Gamma 10 on which a race of faceless angels worship a tentacled creature. The creatures intent is to make everyone a faceless angel, each one the same as the other. No one is unique, or special, or different. All have to be transformed or turned into the same faceless drones. Aside from commenting on religion, this part of the film also speaks about how some governments have an obsession with eliminating art, culture and individuality from society. This is a theme that is addressed in many films about Totalitarian Futures, so Time Masters also comments on the evils of an oppressive government. In fact, at one point the adventurers actually encounter government soldiers who search their ship and steal their treasure. Demonstrating once again what governments really care about: making their money.

The film was designed in part by Jean Giraud (a.k.a. Moebius) one of my own personal heroes. Moebius is such an amazing illustrator that it’s hard not to fall in love with the work he has done, and continues to do to this day. He’s worked on a huge number of films and for the best filmmakers, who all recognize the greatness in Moebius’s work. He has worked on the designs for films such as Alien (1979), Blade Runner (1982) and The Fifth Element (1997) to mention but a few. That plus, he has published many graphic novels and comic books across the years, all with some truly exquisite art. On Time Masters he designed the creatures and spaceships, which as you can see on some of the pics I’ve posted, are all amazing. The animation in Time Masters is good for its time, similar to the animation we can find in films like Heavy Metal (1981) by the way, Heavy Metal is another fine example of Adult Animation done right. These animators pushed animation as far as they could both technically and thematically.  I would have loved to see what kind of visuals Laloux would have conjured up with today’s technology and animation techniques. When compared to today’s animation, the animation on Time Masters feels crude, yet the creativity and uniqueness of the ideas overshadow any technical shortcomings the film might have. I mean, on this film we even encounter these cute little creatures that can read thoughts! They are called Yula and Jad, they become observers of human behavior through out the whole film. I love how they refer to evil thoughts as “foul smelling”. So in terms of design, ideas and creativity Time Masters gets high marks from me.

These little creatures can read your thoughts!

Time Masters isn’t a perfect film. The animation on Fantastic Planet is far superior, I am guessing that this has to do with the fact that Time Masters was initially being developed as a television show, and Laloux, realizing he had enough material for a feature film transformed the project into a feature film. This is probably the reason why the animation isnt as perfect as it was in Fantastic Planet. It could also be the reason why there is little nudity or violence in it. The ending is too abrupt; it felt rushed, as if they didn’t finish the story properly. But overall, the creativity and the themes on Time Masters makes it well worth the watch.

Rating: 4 out of 5

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Withnail and I (1987)

Title: Withnail and I (1986)

Bruce Robinson

Cast: Richard E. Grant, Paul McGann, Richard Griffith. Ralph Brown


My interest in Bruce Robinson’s Withnail and I came because Bruce Robinson (the films director) was recently in Puerto Rico filming The Rum Diary, a film which I am eagerly looking forward to not only because it was filmed in Puerto Rico (my country) but also because it’s based on Hunter S. Thompson’s novel of the same name, and I love that novel. It is partially based on Hunter S. Thompson’s own experiences while living in Puerto Rico and writing for a now defunct local newspaper called ‘The San Juan Star’. Robinson’s Withnail and I is a film that has that same whacked out, ‘grim and dark’ world perspective, it has that bleak sense of humor that we’ve come to expect from all things Hunter S. Thompson. Actually, it was the bleak sensibilities of Withnail and I that got Johnny Depp to ask Robinson to write the script for Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas (1998). Robinson declined writing that script because he didn’t know how to adapt that novel into a film; I’m guessing he thought the book was too incoherent to be adapted into a film, he wasn’t the first to think that way. But the fact remained in Johnny Depp’s mind that Robinson was a guy who ‘got’ what Hunter S. Thompson was all about. So of course, it came as no surprise to me when Bruce Robinson ended up directing The Rum Diary, a film based on Thompson’s own life. The Rum Diary also stars Johnny Depp, yet another great fan and close friend of Thompson’s life and work. These are the reasons why I can’t wait to see The Rum Diary, it will be a film made by people who really understood who Hunter S. Thompson was, they really got how his brain worked. And it’s Robinson’s involvement in that film that got me interested in exploring the rest of his filmography starting with the film I’ll be reviewing today: Withnail and I.

Withnail and I tells the story of two aspiring actors Withnail and Mawood (a.k.a. "I") two guys living in extremely poor conditions in a horribly disorganized filthy flat in Camden Town, London, 1969. These guys live in such a shit hole that they actually find "matter" inside of their kitchen sink, beneath piles and piles of dishes that haven’t been washed since forever! They suspect rodents living inside of the oven. They get visited by drug dealers and dead beats. This lifestyle of theirs isn’t meant to go on forever, this is the in-between before they make it to the big time. You see, they are both waiting for the proverbial "big break". In real life terms that means they are waiting for their respective agents to get them a part in something, anything! Unfortunately, nothing seems to be popping up at the moment in terms of acting and living in filth and poverty is getting to them; so much so that they begin to feel physically ill! In a desperate attempt to get away from the grime, they get this idea in their heads that a weekend in the countryside will clear their heads up and charge their batteries, so they can continue their struggles in life. So they go up to Withnail’s Uncle Monty to ask him for permission to stay at his country cottage. After lots of ass kissing, Uncle Monty finally says yes and off they go to the country side. Will the country side be all the hope it will be?

I don’t know how many of you guys and gals out there are city dwellers, but after a while living in the city can get to you. The cars and their exhaust, building on top of buildings, the never ending cement and pavement, the noise pollution, the drunks, the drug addicts, the people…you name it, in the city, there’s always a huge assortment of things that can drive you nuts. After a while, your body and mind will ask you to please, escape somewhere with clean oxygen and trees and nature. After a couple of years of living amongst buildings, you’ll yearn for nature. This is what happens to Withnail and Marwood. On top of all of this, they live in poverty, always surviving with the least of things, food being a rare commodity. To alleviate the pain of being poor and living under these inhuman conditions, they consume huge amounts of alcohol and drugs. Somehow, no matter how poor they are, there’s always money for drugs and alcohol. And if they don’t find it, the go nuts! They need something to help them forget their lives. The first few scenes of this film present us with characters who are desperately looking for some sanity. Their solution is nature. The question then arises: are these two city boys ready for nature?

The answer is a big fat no! I loved how the film portrays these two city guys trying to find sanity amongst nature and then being totally unprepared for it; as if modern living had rendered these two humans completely useless when it comes to depending on themselves for survival. When Withnail and Marwood first arrive to the country side, they are greeted by a thunderous storm, and a house with no light, not comfortable accommodations. They actually have to find wood to start up a fire and dig out potatoes to eat. When it comes to killing their own chicken, they can’t even achieve that properly. I love how the film addressed these issues because it is a question that I commonly ask myself. What if suddenly, for whatever reason, food stopped coming to supermarkets? How would you go about getting your food? People in the city don’t have time to grow their own food. Millions rely on the supermarket having everything they need to survive. What if you were suddenly faced with having to take a chicken, kill it, take off all its feathers, gut it and chopping off it’s head and legs? How about beef? No one knows how to go about killing a cow and slicing off a proper cut to eat! Hell, no one has cows in their homes! People are used to getting their meat neatly packaged at the supermarket. If people were to suddenly get cut off from that for whatever the reason, it would be a complete disaster, it would be chaos! City people are so used to having everything done for them; I found it interesting how the film addresses these issues.

The story behind this film is that its partially based on Bruce Robinson’s own life experiences, living in the 60’s, in Camden, trying to make it as an actor. Actually, the script was based on Robinson’s unpublished novel of the same name. so the film is a collection of all these experiences he and his friends had trying to make it in the entertainment world. Robinson is an actor himself (this often times makes for some great directors) and by that point he’d appeared in various films including Ken Russell’s The Music Lovers (1970) and Franco Zeffirelli’s Romeo and Juliet (1968). But since he wasn’t making much money between each film, he decided to take up writing; many great directors have gone down this exact same route. One that comes to mind is Vittorio de Sica an actor who decided to get into directing and ended up making  The Bicycle Thieves (1948), one of the greatest films ever made. Withnail and I is considered one of the best British Films ever made itself, in fact, its considered one of the best British cult films out there. Some of the best films have a genuine feel to them, in the case of Withnail and I its realism stems from the fact that many of the characters in the film are based on Robinson’s own friends and acquaintances. For example, Uncle Monty, (Withnails gay uncle) who tries to seduce Marwood in a couple of hilarious scenes was partially based on Italian director Franco Zeffirelly who was constantly hitting on Robinson during the production of Romeo and Juliet. Many of Zefirrelly’s pick up lines were incorporated into Uncle Monty’s dialog. So it’s that kind of a film where the situations feel real, what makes it special though is that pitch black humor the film has!

Speaking of the films humor, it’s awesome. I mean, I had never seen this film before, but I’m sure I’ll be watching it a couple more times because the dialog is simply brilliant. It’s the kind of film you’ll be quoting from for years and years. My favorite line is when Withnail and Marwood enter this restaurant filled with conservatives and they sit on a table (obviously drunk) and say: "We want the finest wines available to humanity! And we want the now!" I mean, seriously? I think the dialog and situations are the real stars of the show. These characters come off as totally whacked out of their minds! They’ve been cooked up in their apartments for so long that they are becoming ill, so much so that at one point, Marwood says: "I don’t feel good. Oh my God. My hearts beating like a fucked clock! I feel dreadful!" and Withnail replies: "So does everybody. Look at my tongue! It’s wearing a yellow sock!" Those first few moments when they are going paranoid are awesome, on top of everything they have this friend who is a drug dealer played by Ralph Brown (who is pure genius on this movie by the way) he’ll have you cracking up with every single word he says! At one point he tells Withnail: "You have done something to your brain, you’ve made it high. If I lay you 10 mil of diazepam on you, it will do something else to your brain, it will make it low. Why trust one drug and not another? That’s politics isn’t it?" This dude was so hilarious on this movie that he was asked to play practically the exact same character in Wayne’s World 2 (1993)! In that one he plays Del Preston, the guy who had to find 10,000 brown M&M’s or Ozzy wouldn’t play! So as you can see, I totally dug the dialog in this movie, it’s got a lot of dark dark humor in it, if you appreciate that sort of thing, you’ll love this movie.

"We want the finest wines available to humanity, and we want them now!"

Currently, Robinson has said that he feels the film was badly shot and illuminated, but that it makes up for its technical faults with its great dialog. I don’t agree so much with that sentiment, I mean, yeah Robinson was making his first film. He even told the cast and crew that he didn’t know what he was doing, this was his first time as a director and that he was going to be making mistakes as they went along. That’s understandable, and I love the humility displayed in those comments, but I’m not so sure I agree with the part that it was badly shot and illuminated, I actually loved the way the film looks. The film looks so grey and dark that it fits the characters persona’s perfectly! These are not happy people! These people hate their lives, they want to improve desperately but don’t know how to go about it, and so that bleak look the film has fits it perfectly. Plus, it rains for 90% of the picture, which makes everything all the messier! Well, I’ve gone on long enough about this one. Basically, this is a film filled with biting, sarcastic, intelligent, black humor. It’s one of the most important British cult films ever made. If you like that acid, biting humor you find in Hunter S. Thompsons books and films, you’ll love this one for sure. Highly recommend it for a night of dark humor with a brain.

Rating: 5 out of 5

Monday, May 23, 2011

Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides (2011)

Title: Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides (2011)

Director: Rob Marshall

Cast: Johnny Depp, Penelope Cruz, Geoffrey Rush, Ian McShane


Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides is yet another Big Budget Summer Blockbuster that has been unleashed upon us in this, one of the busiest Summer Blockbuster Seasons in a while, Summer 2011! A lot is riding on this Pirates of the Caribbean film, namely, the future of the entire franchise. If this one tanks, it means we wont see anymore Pirates of the Caribbean films for a while (or ever), but if it makes kajillions (like I’m predicting it will) then we will most likely see two more films in the franchise, which is fine by me because if the next two are as fun as this one was, then I’m all for them. Bring them on!

On this the fourth chapter of the Pirates of the Caribbean franchise, everyone is after the legendary “Fountain of Youth”. That’s right, the very same Fountain of Youth that Juan Ponce de Leon was after back in his day. You drink from its waters and the fountains magic powers elongate your life, or possibly even makes you eternal! So of course everyone is after it! On this flick we have three parties after the famed fountain, The Spaniards, The British and The Pirates! Everyone has their own personal reasons for getting to it, and everyone wants to get there first then the other guy. So once the journey begins, it’s a race to the finish to see who gets to The Fountain of Youth first.

I have to be honest; I had my doubts about this movie for various reasons. The first question to pop into my mind was this: would I be able stand Johnny Depp as Captain Sparrow for a fourth time? Or had the character outlived its charisma? As it turns out Jack Sparrow is still a very entertaining fellow; maybe even more so then on previous films. Jack Sparrow has always been a funny type of character, but this time around they emphasized the comedy factor a whole lot more, as a result, you can’t help but giggle and laugh through out the whole movie, I know I had a big old fat smile upon my face through out this whole movie and Depp’s Sparrow had a lot to do with that. Jack Sparrow’s funnier than ever! Johnny Depp’s still got it in my book; he hasn’t lost that magical charisma he brought to these films. Best part of all is that as opposed to the previous films, Sparrow is the main character, so we see him a whole lot more through out the film, not just sporadically. I guess the studio decided to give audiences more of what they loved most from these films.

The supporting cast is amazing; we have a couple of new additions to the Pirates of the Caribbean family, as well as some old friends and foes. First up, my favorite performance in the film after Depp’s was Ian Mc Shane as the evil Captain Black Beard, the villain of the piece. He looks really evil; he is a strong villain and gives a good performance in my book. They really made an effort to make Black Beard a strong villain, not a weakling as has been happening lately in films. Many filmmakers today are forgetting how to craft a good villain. Filmmakers pay lots of attention to the action and fx and the journey of how we get to point a to point b, but the villain isn’t given much importance and gets ignored in terms of development. Thor and Fast Five are good examples of this, both films had weak villains in my book. I mean, there was a day and time in film history when villains use to steal the show! Kudos to Ian Mc Shane for pulling that off, Blackbeard isn’t the most memorable villain ever, but at least he isn’t forgettable either, he had some gravitas to him, I liked that! Penelope Cruz looked gorgeous, and she has chemistry with Johnny Depp, thanks to the romance that develops between the two we see a side of Jack Sparrow we had not seen before. Geoffrey Rush was another great character on this one. I mean, I just loved how the film is populated by all these great actors, no slip ups in terms of performances on this film, and Kudo’s to the writers for giving them funny lines to work with. When Barbossa and Sparrow end up tied up together, the back and forth banter is hilarious!

The only other thing that worried me about the film was director Rob Marshall who is not all that known for making big budget effects heavy films. He’s the director behind Memoirs of a Geisha (2005), Chicago (2002) and NINE (2009), not the most adventurous bunch of films. So I was on the fence on whether he was a good choice or not as a director of this film. Turns out he did just fine; the film has an air of adventure to it that I loved! On Stranger Tides is just a good pirate movie as far as pirate films go. Huge ships, skeletons, hidden treasures, high adventure, deadly sea creatures, this one had all the right elements for a good pirate flick. Speaking of feel, I think the music has a lot to do with what we feel in a movie and this film has a very adventurous old school type of score to it, so beautiful, it soars, it excites, it brings that air of adventure to the film, so kudos to Hans Zimmer for that one.

Also, the films got a dark supernatural element to it which I loved. The supernatural was always a part of these films, what with skeletons and zombies and witches, but on this one they turned it up a little more. For example, Black Beard’s boat is a haunted ship which he controls with a magic sword and the crew is partially made up of zombie soldiers. Which reminds me about the films spooky vibe. It’s the kind of film that will have its characters huddle together to tell a spooky story by candle light. Same goes for the scenes just before they encounter the mermaids. The pirates start talking about how evil the mermaids are, and start spooking each other out by telling these stories. I just loved how the film built up the spookiness of the moment. I never thought Mermaids could be so spooky! The scenes where they have to capture a mermaid were my favorite in the whole film. In terms of pacing, the film goes at just the right pace. I love that this film is not in such a hurry to go from plot point to plot point, like a film with Attention Deficit Disorder. Nope, this one takes its time to tell its story and I loved that. And yet another positive point for the film is that it doesn’t rely so heavily on computer effects, it only uses them when necessary, or to augment a scene. The computer effects are never overdone, I loved that about it as well. So director Rob Marshall gets good grades from this reviewer.

The film comments briskly on faith and religion with a character who is a clergyman. I didn’t exactly get why this character was in the film save for maybe the filmmakers wanting to say their two cents on faith. One scene has Black Beard asking the clergyman to pray to god so that he will save a man who is about to be burned alive, nobody ends up protecting the man who gets skinned alive. What’s the film saying? That there is no God? That God doesn’t care? On other scenes Black Beard comments on religion saying that it’s good for nothing more then blinding people! It was interesting to see Disney (who most of the time try to be so politically correct) choosing to comment on a theme that is avoided like the plague by Hollywood. I wouldn’t necessarily say that they were bashing on religion, but they do comment on it. The clergyman is portrayed as someone who believes in something that’s not really there to help or protect him though he believes something does. The clergy man is also depictedas someone with good moral values. He is always seen as the do gooder, the guy with the big heart who saves the day and does the right thing on more then one occasion.

Bottom line with On Stranger Tides is you don’t need to know anything from the previous films to enjoy this one since this is an entirely new adventure. Yeah there are little references here and there to the previous films, but nothing to make you scratch your head. A word on the 3-D: it’s actually there! It works! Trust me, you wont feel cheated. Keep in mind that this review comes from a person who never really went ga-ga for the first three films, but this fourth one? To me it was pure unadulterated fun! A great cast, a strong adventurous spirit and a pace that never gets ahead of itself made this one a better film than its predecessors. It’s also not overtly complicated like the previous films. Was it just me or did the previous three films get completely incomprehensible by the time they reached the third one? Not so with On Stranger Tides, this fourth one was easy to follow yet not too simplistic either, it was complex enough so that it didn’t confuse with its storyline. A fun movie every step of the way, it aint a masterpice but it sure entertains!.

Rating: 4 out of 5

This is yet another summer blockbuster (the other being Fast Five) that was partially filmed in Puerto Rico!

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Conceptual Art Gallery for films that never got made!

The Sandworms of Dune as envisioned by artist H.R. Giger for Alejandro Jodorowsky's unproduced adaptation of Frank Herbert's Dune.

Coneptual art often times decides how a film is going to look or feel. It decides how the sets will be built, what kind of clothes wardrobe department will make and even how visual effects will be handled. I thought it might be interesting to post a couple of examples of conceptual artwork for films that never got made, because I find those most interesting for some reason. Dreams that never got to be. Some of these unmade projects didnt get made for obvious reasons (usually its a stinker of an idea!) but other times you just wonder why the hell they never happened. Some films never get passed that conceptual art work stage, as a result there is a lot of interesting conceptual art out there for films that never got made! I hope you find the interesting. Enjoy!

Alejandro Jodorowsky's Dune - This film never got made, but the conceptual artwork makes me wish it had gotten made! It would have been such an interesting looking film! Some of my favorite artists worked on the conceptual artwork for this film, Jodorowsky employed some of the best there is for this project, which was probably one of the problems. He spent a bundle on pre-production alone. We have some very interesting designs for the planet Geidi Prime from non other then H.R. Giger himself! Had these designs made it to the silver screen...man...there's a lot more conceptual artwork out there for this film, I only posted a couple of them here, but trust me a search on the net will be worth your while if you are a Dune nut like I am. Part of the artwork was also done by conceptual artist extraordinaire Jean Giraud, one of my personal heroes. Too bad this one never got made. I hear there's a documentary being made on the work that went into the pre-production of this doomed project, be on the look out for it.

Thundercat's - This one hasnt gotten made (yet!) but conceptual artwork has leaked. The pics you see below shows us what Lion-O and Mum-Ra would have looked like had the film ever gotten made. Im a die hard Thundercats fan, and deep down inside, arent we all?? Of course I'd love to see this one get made!

Voltron- Defender of the Universe - With the success of the Transformer's films, Im surprised this film hasnt gotten made yet, it would make for a kick ass sci-fi film! I used to watch this cartoon almost as much as I watched the Thundercats. Here we have some concept art for Voltron in its giant robot form.

Superman Lives! - This was too be Tim Burton's version of Superman and to be honest I'm kind of glad it never got off the ground. On the other hand, you kind of have to wonder what the film would have been like! Putting aside the fact that Nick Cage was going to be the one playing supes (a bad idea from the get go)  the film was going to be "weird" any way you look at it. Even Supes wardrobe was going to look strange! I like the desing for Doomsday though! And you have to admit, it was going to be cool seeing Doomsday fight Supes!

The Gate Remake - Director and ex Bill and Ted star Alex Winters has been talking about getting this remake made for years. Yet I've never seen it go past the pre-production stage, or development hell, however you want to call it. Still, he has said that the film would include 3-D effects and that they have already made some pre-visualization images...so thats something. But come on! I'd love to see this one make it to the big screen with modern effects! If it never got made, it would be...whats the word? BOGUS!   

James Cameron's Spiderman - Once upon a time, when Sam Raimi hadnt made his Spiderman trilogy James Cameron was interested in the franchise. There was even a script! It was going to be a much darker version of Spiderman, spidey wouldnt be as squeaky clean as he is on these new films. He was a troubled man with lots of anger inside of him. Hell, he was even going to end up having sex with Mary Jane! Of course the studio scrapped it because it wasnt the spidey they wanted to show the masses, but still, I'm guessing it would have been an interesting film from an fx/action point of view. I mean on this one we were going to see Spidey go up against Electro!

Rob Zombies Tyranosaurous Rex - Rob Zombie is at best when left to his own devices instead of working on pre-existing material. And I still think he has potential as a filmmaker inspite of the abortion that was Halloween 2. So when he announced that he was working on something called Tyranosaurous Rex, I was excited, especially after seeing the concept art which makes the whole idea look like a mix between Mad Max, Jurassic Park and a Mexican Wrestling movie, with a mix like that...something interesting is sure to turn up. I hope we get to see this one at some point. 

Darren Aronofsky's Batman Year One - Before Nolan got a go at the franchise, studio's were looking for a serious director to take the franchise in a darker more adult direction and Aronofsky was one of the directors chosen for this 'Year One' film. Unfortunately, Aronofsky wasnt as big a name as he is now, and the whole thing went down the tubes. Hey, but we got some interesting concept art to ponder on the idea of what could have been a Batman film directed by this great director. Hey, who knows, Aronofsky has been snooping around to direct a comic book film for a while now, he was inches away from directing 'The Wolverine'! Now that would have been something!  

Darren Aronofsky's Robocop Reboot - Man, I salivating at this idea because I'm the biggest Robonerd out there. I mean, I use to do a little robocop comic book when I was in school that was a parody of Robocop and everyone loved it. I love the Robo movies. And when I heard that Aronofsky was going to be involved! Wow! The possibilities! Unfortunately Aronofsky stepped out of this project and went with Black Swan, which was an awesome film no doubt, but damn, I hope he hasnt given up entirely on making this. I got my fingers crossed! I mean with the Iron Man movies making so much bank at the box office, I'm still wondering why this project hasnt lifted off yet.

Freddy Vs. Jason Vs. Ash - Now here's a match made in heaven. I mean, people would have gone in droves to see this movie! But apparently this never got made because Sam Raimi was interested in getting another Evil Dead movie rolling. That never came to be either! But hey, at least we got a 12 part mini-series that joined all three characters in one awesome series! Highly recommend you get it. On that one, Freddy is after the Necronomicon and Ash is there to stop him! Wanna see Freddy use the Necronomicon to resurrect all of Jason's victims as deadites? Look no further!

Hamer Films Zepellin's vs. Pterodactyl's - This unproduced Hammer Film had one of the craziest concepts ever! A German Zepellin headed for war deviates and ends up in a mysterious world filled with all sorts of strange creatures, including Pterodactyl's! I guess this mysterious unchartered land falls somewhere around the same vicinity where Godzilla and King Kongs Islands are at! Either way it was going to be an interesting sci-fi film. I dont know exactly why this one never came to be, but maybe the idea was too epic for the kind of budgets that Hammer was used to working with. All we got left from this crazy idea is the pic you see below, enjoy!

Orson Welles Batman - This ones a joke, it was a hoax that roamed around the net for a while. But still, makes you wonder huh? Hope you liked this article you knuckleheads!


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