Saturday, 12 December 2015

Film Review - King Kong

King Kong (1933) was directed by Merian. C Cooper and Enerst B. Schoedsak , and it is undoubtedly the most famous monster movie in history ,It could be argued that King Kong founded this genre . It also belongs to the genre of lost worlds though.

King Kong is about a group of people who follow the orders of Carl Denham, an adventurous filmmaker. They go to an island in the middle of the Pacific to make a film recording the natives of the place and the mysterious giant ape called Kong. But the natives of the area discover them and kidnap Ann Darrow, who is the heroine in Denham's film , to offer her as a sacrifice to Kong. The huge monkey kidnaps her and the entire crew of the boat set out to her rescue. John Driscoll rescues Ann and they are both pursued by Kong.  Denham manages to capture the monkey and takes him to New York to make it a show.

Talking about the camara plans, sometimes  there are close-ups of the ape that appear to have been made ​​with a giant model. This means that instead of provoking amazement, it causes laughter, due to its low gesticulation .  At the time the movie was filmed, the director had to use every possible resource on the book and even invent new ones, mostly for the special effects. Matte paintings of trees in the jungle were required, as well as miniature sets, which were put in layers of more miniature model trees. Composite photography was also used along with rear screen projection and an invention for this film, front projection, a technique in which a miniature film can be projected onto a miniature set while doing stop motion work.

King Kong is based on The Beauty and the Beast but in the Beauty and the Beast there is a romance, King Kong doesn't comes from a romance. The only thing there is the obsession Kong has with Ann. Ann is nothing more than a nice toy throughout the movie , which makes the role of the woman a screaming and waiting for rescue one. But it's not only Ann’s character that lacks something, the other characters seem to have no personality either.

But the best thing about this movie is that causes the spectator not to miss a minute . And besides being incredibly innovative , it is also very violent : Kong brutally destroys its victims.


I would recommend this movie to anyone who is interested in seeing how the genre has changed over the time. King Kong may not be a masterpiece in terms of acting and special effects from today’s perspective, but it certainly is a piece of history in stop motion animation. The special effects have changed a lot but it is incredible how the ones used in King Kong have held up and how today’s viewer gets still engaged with the movie. A definite must see.

Illustration list:
Figure 3: Kong and Tyrannosaurus fighting. At:


Film Review - Edward Scissor Hands

Edward Scissorhands (1990) is one of Tim Burton's important films because it defines Tim Burton's style really well. His style is always joined with the movie characters. These characters do not follow the "society rules". Burton's characters play the role of movie monsters. Burton, himself, said: "I practically grew up fed by those monster films and now I realize the movies I do , basically , tell the same stories and use similar characters , although they have a different appearance. "

The film begins with an elderly woman telling her granddaughter the story of Edward Scissorhands at  Christmas overnight .  Edward Scissorhands (played by Johnny Depp) is a boy created by an inventor who died before finishing him. That's why he has scissors instead of hands.  Isolated from the world for years and with a kind of sinister look , the young man discovers true love when a woman takes care of him. At first everyone accepts him . Edward falls in love with the daughter of the woman that takes care of him. But after a series of unfortunate events , the neighbours decide that Edward is dangerous  for the community, so he is forced to go back to his isolated house.

Edward is a clear image of adolescence as that time of painful isolation and loneliness, and scissors can be understood as the inability of a boy to give unconditional love without harming the people he loves. But also the character of Edward brings together two opposing worlds. There is the city and its inhabitants who are all the same and do always the same things and they reject the different things and  Edward is the different one.

Some other important characteristics are the desing production and how the actors were perfect for each movie character. But also, the soundtrack is great as it creates a connection between Edward and the viewers.

In conclusion, Edward Sccissorhands was a risk and a personal project that made Burton's artistic career even more amazing.

Illustration list:
Figure 1: Film Poster At:

Ebert. R. (1990) Edward Scissorhands At:

Friday, 11 December 2015

Film Review - La Belle et La Bête

Jean Cocteau's La Belle et la Bête (1946)  a gothic fairytale in which the imagination and the power of love make magic places where everything is possible. Marina Warner said: "The film unfolds to a perfectly poised slow tempo in surreal settings that gain intensity from the fabulous decor and costumes, the glittering lighting and the many moments of magic effects. The candle-lit shadow-play deepens the gothic atmosthere of the beast´s castle, harking back to early expressioist classics of the genre" (

Figure 1

Beauty, played by Josette Day, is a young girl who decides to save her father's life by living with the Beast in his castle. At first, Beauty is quite afraid because of him, but then her feelings start to change till they become true love. And that was the only thing the Beast needed to get his human body back again.

The tricky changes between outdoor realism and indoor fantasy, the makeup, the sets, and the costumes are full of details, maybe because Cocteau wanted to appeal through images rather than words. And that is why the role of imagination and creativity are so important. Cocteau creates a great atmosphere in which fantasy is the key idea or as Cocteau said, "Fantasy has its own laws, which are like those of perspective. You may not bring what is distant into the foreground nor render fuzzily what is near". (

Some interesting things are Cocteau's camera tricks and special effects. These make the movie's atmosthere even more surreal and magic.

Figure 2

In conclusion, as Geoffrey O'Brien writes, "Out of the extravagant variety of Jean Cocteau's work - the paintings and drawings, the poems, the plays and novels and memoirs, the opera librettos and ballet scenarios - it is likely his films that will have the most enduring influence, and among those, Beauty and the Beast will have the most pervasive effect". ( La Belle et la Bête is just a magical and enchanted piece of cinema that will always be on our minds.

Illustration list:

Matthew (2015) Beauty and the Beast (1946). At:
O'Brien, G. (2011) Beauty and the Beast: Dask Magic. At:

Finish dismatched dysevolution

Maya Tutorial - Old Alley: Texturing

What If? Metropolis - Art of Al-Medina

WIM - Production Designer - Stuart Craig

What If? Metropolis - Crit Presentation

WIM - Final Render

WIM - Pipeline


WIM - Textures



Thursday, 10 December 2015

Film Review - Only God Forgives

Is Nicolas Winding Refn's Only God Forgives a brilliant macabre great film as a stylized violence exercise or as art? In interview with Simon Abrams Refn said "Well, the use of violence is... I guess art is an act of violence, in a way." ( violence-an-interview-with-nicolas-winding-refn)
What is debatable is whether, in this film, Refn goes a bit further and tries to show that violence is an act of art.

Only God Forgives tells a story set in Bangkok in which the main character is Julian (played by Ryan Goslig) who is an American gangster leading a troubled life. His brother murdered a young prostitute and then he is killed by her father. So Julian is in the middle of two extremes: one is her mother, who wants him to avenge the murder of his brother, and the other one is an old policeman who wants to be fair and solve the problems of Julian's family by killing them. The story becomes a kind of nightmare: Bangkok scenarios are defined by neon colors and shadows where torture is treated like an art, and the lighting becomes a character.


The movie received a really negative response from mainstream critics primarily. Rex Reed says: "a diabolical horror called Only God Forgives may not be the worst movie ever made, but it is unquestionably in the top five" ( While this may be true, there are some strong points that I would like to highlight here as well.

Talking about Only God Forgives technical point of view, it's perfect. Refn uses a unique perspective: the long shots, the slow motion and the broken scenes predominate. But also the importance of the calm in which the story is told makes the viewer stop at each of its scenes.

On the other hand, this vengeance trailer focuses on technical details. This results in the film not having a great meaning or a great plot. One of it's negative points is the lack of emotions and the unfinished character development. So Only God Forgives treats a stylized scene oriented towards making violence scenes and characters without emotions.

Perhaps one of the few emotions that are shown in the film is when Julian feels guilty. This is filmed in the scenes in which he looks at his hands carefully. His hands are what he hates but also what define him. Despite this, Julian fails at any time to empathize with the audience.


Finally and as a conclusion, sometimes people forget that essence of the movies resides not only on the way in which they are shown, but also in the reseach of the different approaches that can cause different emotions in the viewer's feelings. The cinema, like any other art, can changein different ways depending on the artist. And despite the thig s that fail in Only God Forgives, Refn has done it quite well regarding the way in which this film has been shot. However, I must agree with Ali Arikan's words abiut the director's suggestion that there is art in violence: "Not only in this take on human relations unoriginal, it's algo sophomoric and blatanty un true" ( I can accept there is something similar to violent art but aldo that there is such thing as artistic violence.

Illustration list:
Image 3: Julian looking at his hands. At:

Bradshaw, P. (2013) ) Only God Forgives Review At:
Wise, D. (2012) Only God Forgives Review At:

WIM - Matte Painting

WIM - Building orthographs

Drawing class #9

Monday, 7 December 2015

What If Metropolis - Buildings and lamps modelling

Film Review - The Shining

The Shining (1980) is a horror film masterpiece. Directed by Stanley Kubrick, the movie is about how the inner depths can exist in a trouble mind. Although it is one of the most admire horror films in the cinema history, Stephen King, the author, hates it, describing the film as “maddening, perverse and disappointing”.

Figure 1

The story begins when Jack Torrance is hired to handle the facilities of the Overlook hotel, which is situated on an isolated mountain in Colorado, during the winter months as in this period the hotel is closed because of the snow storms. The hotel manager warns Jack that the previous care taker hotel had lost his mind and killed his wife and his daughters before killing himself. This does not impress Jack and he decides to move to this hotel with Wendy (his wife) and Danny (his son). Danny is a 7-year-old boy that has a strange power of premonition called “the shining”, so that he can see past episodes he has not lived and he can also anticipate future situations.

Figure 2

Jack is a writer and his main objective is to find calm and peace to write a novel. Nevertheless, after living there during a month, Jack begins to suffer disturbing personality disorders while some mysterious and paranormal phenomena happen in the hotel rooms. All this will make Jack get immersed in a series of surreal hallucinations that are going to transform him into a psychopath. Danny will know all the criminal situations that Jack has in mind.

The film ends with Jack chasing Danny into the labyrinth. But Danny knows how to go out of the maze and he escapes with his mother. And Jack ends up dying frozen inside the maze.
The Shining is based on a Stephen King novel but the novel and the film are quite different in many things. Apart of the disturbing narrative with which the film is told, the power of the image was its best feature. The oppressive atmosphere makes this film being one of the most shocking horror films. The difference between all the horror films and The Shining is that in The Shining dark settings are not used to cause fear and tension. The psychological terror is the main cause of the viewer’s fear.

In addition, the exceptional performance of Jack Nicholson, as Jack Torrance, with his psychotic looks and gestures, Danny Lloyd, as Danny Torrance, being the quiet boy with paranormal worlds, and Shelley Duvall, as Wendy Torrance, being the frightened and hysterical mother, makes the viewer be even more immersed in the film.

Figure 3

But the most important characteristic in this film is the innovative camera movement because of the wide angles and the use of the steady cam. The steady cam movement can be seen in scenes like the one where Danny is riding his tricycle in the hotel, and the chase in the maze. These shots transmit a lot of tension. Kubrick even got Garrett Brown to operate the steady cam for the film, which was an honor and a major education for Brown, being him the steady cam inventor. “I would have been happy to be on any of his movies,” Brown says. “Stanley moved the camera well and purposely. The Shining was an opportunity to bear down on technique that you wouldn’t find anywhere else. That’s where I really learned to control the damn thing.”

Figure 4
There are also shots that transmit certain serenity such as the air shot in which the film begins and the shots in the luxury hotel rooms. But all this calm is changed with the uncontrolled psychic Jack. All these types of shots cause a lot of tension and suspense during this nearly two-hour long movie.

Finally, as the L.A. Times wrote twenty-five years after The Shining’s initial release, “Visually, it’s a knockout. Every frame, every tracking shot is a masterpiece of cold, paranoid composition.”

PD. Smith (2013) The Shining by Roger Luckhurst – review. At:
Derek Malcolm (2014) From the archive, 2 October 1980: Stanley Kubrick’s The Shining – review. At
David Konow (2013) The Shining and The Steadicam. At:

List of Illustrations:
Figure 2. Danny riding his tricycle [Film Still] At:
Figure 3. At the door: Jack Nicholson and Shelley Duvall in The Shining  [Film Still] At:

Figure 4. Filming with the steadicam. At:

What If Metropolis - Animated Gif in progress