Tag Archives: ray harryhausen

Special Effects: Why They Look Right When They Look Right

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The late, great Ray Harryhausen. (1920-2013)

When I was a little kid my grandpa showed me King Kong, the 1933 one.  King Kong doesn’t look real, but it looks good, because it looks right.  Looking ‘right’ is the key.

Special effects are perhaps film’s biggest point of separation from the other arts.  In literature, if you want a monster in your story, you just describe it.  But a movie has to convince you what you’re looking at is real, even when you’re looking at the most not real things humans can dream up.  This takes a perfect synthesis of human imagination, technology, and innovation.
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On Colorization

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She (Orig. 1935, Colorized Version 2008)

Colorization is one of those things that people call “controversial”, and like most glib descriptors, it’s a kind of shoddy definition. There’s no controversy over colorizing things. People hate it. Everybody hates it.

The people who care about movies hate it because it paints over esteemed favorites, dolloping them in eerie flesh tones and smeared, lifeless color like a little girl trying out one of those toy makeup kits. Meanwhile, they fail to catch any new blood because those who hate black and white movies don’t just hate black and white movies because they’re in black and white, and a bit of clown makeup will never bridge that psychological distance.
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Jurassic Park Was Almost Ruined By The Technology That Made It Possible

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After Jaws, Jurassic Park is my favorite Spielberg. By and large, it’s a great big piece of blockbusting cinematic magic. So what if its plot does little beyond getting characters where they need to be in order to get attacked by dinosaurs in the most spectacular of fashions—and often ungracefully? (Where exactly did that goat come from?) It ain’t Tarkovsky, guys—it’s purely entertainment for its own sake. It’s a creature feature about a dinosaur zoo going haywire. If this prospect alone isn’t enough to excite you, go back to your art films you pretentious tosser, because if you’re not too full of yourself to buy into it, this movie is a serious treat. Even almost 20 years after its theatrical release, Jurassic Park remains one of the greatest cinematic thrill rides ever released.
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