Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Visiting Evil: Buzzing on the Resident Evil 4 Set (PCS Repost)

resident_evil_afterlife_logoI'm back from my visit to the Toronto set of Resident Evil: Afterlife, now in its final week of principal photography, and all I can say is machine guns, monsters, and Milla make a winning formula for both a successful movie franchise and a fun vacation.

Really, that's all I can say about the movie. (Closed set = no spoiler zone.)

closed set

Luckily, my co-pilot in nerdity and the reason for the trip, Peter V. Brett figured out a few things we could say about the visit over on his own blog, and even managed to swipe some of my pics to support the post. And while I won't spoil any of the plot secrets we learned about RE4, I will share a few nonproprietary insights about the visit:

  • Making movies is hard work. No DVD featurette has ever gotten across the beehive/ant colony aesthetic we saw on the set of RE4, and no amount of back patting would be enough to commend the hundred-plus crew members who, through the organized chaos on set, always seemed to know exactly who needed to be where hammering or painting or rigging whatever, without missing a beat...except for during lunch, which rocked both days. Making movies is hard...but the food is really tasty.
  • Writer/director Paul WS Anderson has chosen the most difficult area to work in--genre films for the comic con crowd. The man sets out, film after film, to make pure, unadulterated popcorn escapism for the most opinionated, unfiltered, and hard-to-please moviegoing audience possible. For every viewer who appreciates the bloody, explodey escape or who is loyal to the growing RE movie mythology that Anderson has spent the last decade nurturing into the most successful video-game-to-movie franchise ever, there are dozens of thankless creeps furiously and anonymously flaming Anderson and his work on message boards and blogs. In this respect, when it comes to suffering for your art, Anderson may be a masochist! But love him, hate him, or confuse him with the guy that did Magnolia, Anderson was a total pro whose set pulsed with positive energy and fanboy enthusiasm for the magic of movie making. For the two days I got to see him in action, the man had an army-efficient production team moving seamlessly around four active studio stages choreographing stunts; blowing up zombie heads; building, breaking, and even flooding sets; and literally inventing new filmmaking technology for this latest entry into 3D cinema.
  • An old school gimmick is the future of film. Anderson was particularly amped about his part in the mainstreaming of 3D. Paul was sure to point out to us as part of his tour through the latest advances in 3D technology that, with the exception of James Cameron's Avatar (which relies heavily on digital actors for much of its content), RE4 would be the first live-action sci-fi movie in the new wave of 3D films--and certainly the first to feature copious amounts of zombie gore, raining bullets, and ass-kicking supermodels.
  • I'm no tech-head when it comes to movies, but just listening to Anderson gush about it and getting a two-day crash course in 3D filmmaking (including a close-up look at tools and processes invented especially for this film), I am sold on least for the types of effects-heavy genre movies I love. This is not the old red eye/blue eye cardboard glasses from a cereal box 3D you remember from the 80s, nor is it even the complicated and cumbersome flicker-effect 3D that some novelty theaters and amusement parks have employed. Real 3D (this new tech being used by Anderson and which will hit the mainstream with Avatar) really is the future of cinema--the next step toward a fully immersive moviegoing experience. (Now if only the theater chains would get on board quicker and install the necessary technology faster--one possible reason RE4 isn't due in theaters until 2011--so more filmmakers are insentivized to try it out.)
  • I'm also not exactly a Resident Evil zombie, but I can't wait to see RE4. There was so much care for the product on set and concern for maintaining the sense of epic that drives the games and movies that I want to go back and revisit everything i've missed as a passive player and viewer. I want to be fully immersed in the battle of Alice vs Umbrella Corp in time for RE4's 2011 release. Thankfully, from what I gathered on the set, it looks like I may be able to skip a lot of backtracking and just watch RE3 (Extinction) and play Resident Evil 5. The plan for the fourth film is to follow the fifth game very closely--a smart move toward streamlining the entire franchise and moving away from any previous confusion about if, when, and how the movies and games mixed. I don't know the latest game's plot yet, but fans should be happy to hear that we did get to see Wesker on set, as well as concept art and props pulled straight from the game, including one BIG bloody ax.
  • The Painted Man movie is in good hands. Producer Jeremy Bolt (who, with Anderson, optioned the novel for their Impact Pictures production company) is one of the few people who have had the opportunity to read the unreleased sequel to The Painted Man, The Desert Spear, as well as a collection of deleted scenes-style short stories from Peat's fantasy world, and the man is clearly a fan of the work (he said he loved book 2 even more than the first and refered to the series as "the next Lord of the Rings" more than a few times. Anderson was still in zombie mode, but promised he'd catch up with the demons in The Desert Spear during a January break. But while he hasn't had the chance to consume the sequel and short stories yet, he comes equipped with the same retired-Dungeon Master pedigree as Peat. Paul WS Anderson is the right kind of geek for the job! Whatever happens between now and whenever/if ever Impact Pictures produces a Painted Man movie, the people in control right now are approaching the project with love, respect, and no sign of the Hollywood cynicism that would have left the author on edge about his baby. And the best part may be that, if it all falls into place, we can expect the demon cycle in 3D!

[caption id="attachment_54028" align="aligncenter" width="709" caption="The Painted Man by artist Kim Kincaid"]The Painted Man by artist Kim Kincaid[/caption]

No comments: