Compression Movie Reviews
The acting is on target and the dialog efficient. The production values are rough, but that makes the movie's wit and clear sense of itself all the more refreshing.
A few of the films hold up well, notably the video to Mick Jagger's "Hard Woman," and it's interesting to contrast the weightless, metallic dinosaurs in "Chromosaurus" with the more realistic versions in Jurassic Park. Others have aged less gracefully: "Tony De Peltrie" looks even uglier today than it did in 1985.
Classics surveys only one strain of CG history; among the important omissions are Peter Foldes' groundbreaking "Hunger" (1973), the experimental works of John Whitney Sr., Ed Emshwiller, Lillian Schwartz, and Larry Cuba, the scientific films of Jim Blinn, and John Lasseter's brilliant Pixar shorts. The resulting disk is more effective as eye candy or a historical overview of one specialized area of CG than as a general entertainment. --Charles Solomon
A few personal favorites from this collection;
My favorite animation on here (and the sole reason I bought this DVD) is "Eurthythmy" by Susan Amkraut and Michael Girard of Ohio State University. Also included are two amazing early raytracing works by the Midnight Movie Group at Apollo Computer, "Balloon Guy" by Chris Wedge (who worked as an animator on TRON, and recently created the computer animated short "Bunny" which has won the 1999 Oscar for "Best Animated Short Film."), and Tony de Petrie, an amazing if slightly eery work from Canada (one of the animators later founded Softimage). "Dance of the Stumblers" is a very funny and entertaining stick-figure Fantasia by Steve Segal that was obviously created on a personal computer. The ending should appeal to Amiga fans.
On the downside, the video quality of the DVD was obviously transferred from magnetic tape. It would have been nice if some digital processing had been done to clean up and sharpen the image quality. Aside from that, it is still very enjoyable and I recommend this to anyone who is a fan of computer animation.
Stanley and Stella in "Breaking the Ice" Quest - A Long Ray's Journey Into Light Megacycles, High Fidelity, Glider, Peppy, Work's Ant, LBS, Pencil Test, Deja Vu, Adam Powers, Chromosaurus, The Gold Series (Benson and Hedges adverts), Botco, Eurhythmy, Brilliance, Max's Place, Opera Industriel, Speeder, Dance Of The Stumblers, Balloon Guy, A Comic Zoom, Fair Play, The Little Death, Hawaiian Punch, Tony de Peltrie, Hard Woman (Mick Jagger pop video) Metafable
Different styles of early character animation are presented, going all the way from 2D lines, primitive geometric shapes, smooth shaded polygon meshes to the first texture mapped characters. However, only five or so really tell a short story.
My only disappointment was that there wasn't
any coverage on how each animation was made (ie. behind the scenes like The Abyss DVD etc...) although the credits do mention the hardware and software used.
I have wonderful memories of watching this on TV with my parents back in the early 70's. We thought it was hilarious then, and it is still enjoyable almost 35 years later!
HOWEVER, I have not bought this or any other classic Disney movie on DVD yet, nor will I, until the Disney studio gets it right and releases them in widescreen format, and with some good extras.
Unfortunately, Disney tends to ignore the true audience for these (pre-1980) classics, and treats us as if we were all the same age as the target audience for their current movies and shows; e.g; Deleting sequences deemed 'politically incorrect' or 'offensive', no theatrical trailers or other extras, etc...
If there are any Disney execs reading this, trust me, there are plenty of older Disney fans, well over 18 years old, who want to enjoy the classic movies and TV shows we grew up with.
C'mon Disney, get with the program!
"The Computer Wore Tennis Shoes" is the first of Kurt's three forays as Dexter Riley, a mild-mannered misfit vaguely studying science at Medfield College -- essentially the same role that Tommy Kirk played in "The Misadventures of Merlin Jones" and "The Monkey's Uncle." But Tommy, recently out and outed, was obviously miserable and struggling with the role, and his co-stars hysterically overacted to keep him in line. Kurt is relaxed and confident, having fun with the role. There is still a gay subtext, but it occurs naturally in the interaction of the characters (several played by gay actors).
There is a subdued hetero love interest and a lot of pleasant buddy-bonding, but, as in most collegiate movies, the major plot dynamic is in the conflict between exuberant youth and mendacious adulthood.
Kirk reluctantly agrees to play along with a Federation test of a new supercomputer, designed by the brilliant Dr. Daystrom (William Marshall, the booming baritone stage actor most famous for Blacula) to run a starship almost single-handedly. It does its job too well, locking the human crew out of ship operations and using deadly force during the Federation war games. Spock and McCoy continue their now-legendary banter about man versus machine while Kirk muses over the obsolescence of his own command. Marshall is excellent as a former-boy-wonder genius banking his reputation on this breakthrough, treating his creation like a son. That's not too far from the truth: designed after his brain pattern, this thinking, reasoning, learning machine carries with it the insecurities and desperation of its creator. The fears of the emerging digital revolution explored in The Ultimate Computer in 1968 remain today: what is the fate of man in the face of technological efficiency? Films from 2001: A Space Odyssey and Colossus: The Forbin Project to Demon Seed and The Matrix have echoed these themes, and this Trek episode--primitive special effects, zero-budget sets, and all--stands up to them quite nicely. --Sean Axmaker
"The Omega Glory"
What is it with Starfleet captains? So many of them become wildly grandiose. Witness "The Omega Glory," in which another starship commander, Ronald Tracey (Morgan Woodward), tramples the Prime Directive by interfering in a long-running conflict between primitive societies, in this case the Yangs and Kohms of planet Omega IV. Siding with the Kohms, Tracey creates an imbalance of power that Kirk works to adjust by arming the Yangs proportionately. The script by series creator Gene Roddenberry is one of his not-so-subtle allegories for the state of the world in the 1960s, specifically our own cold war between nuclear superpowers. So bluntly drawn is Roddenberry's parallel between Omega IV and 20th-century Earth that this is one of the few Star Trek episodes that risks becoming completely absurd after a point. William Shatner (Captain Kirk) takes the biggest risk of all with a passionate, lengthy speech of the sort pranksters like comic actor Kevin Dunn are wont to imitate today. But the fact is that Shatner pulls off such chancy material very well, and certainly does so here. --Tom Keogh
It should be noted that this is one of the most prominent roles played by an African-American on Star Trek TOS. While one is initially frustrated by the character's fate, further reflection suggests a lack of prejudice in this episode. Rather than walk on eggshells, the brain trust gave him the same fate (collapse of some sort) that (almost) always befell all Federation elite. (3 stars)
The Omega Glory-This patriotic episode, in which the Yangs (American whites) are oppressed by the Colms (Communist Asians), is a real stinker, no matter what your political philosophy. The Roddenberry-written episode starts strongly enough with an intriguing and disquieting teaser, but despite plenty of action it's a downhill ride once we reach the planet's surface. I can see the appeal of the 'what-if' stories; they allow us to imagine other possible historical trajectories on earth, and they are cheap to make. But the second season really overloaded us with them. Worse, this episode is in my opinion totally biased, presenting Asians as savages and Americans as heroic. A more measured approach with some heterogeneity would have been nice; on the other hand it wouldn't have made for as viscerally-gripping an episode. I guess what I'm saying is, I don't mind simplistic, but this goes too far, and it's too offensive along the way. By the time we get to Old Glory, we feel almost embarrassed for Shatner. I give him credit though for being professional enough to play the scene seriously.
Tidbit: Morgan Woodward, who plays Tracey here, was also Dr. Van Gelder in Dagger of the Mind. (2 stars)
THE ULTIMATE COMPUTER © PRELIMINARY BRIEFS:
Moral, Ethical, and/or Philosophical Subject(s) Driven Into The Ground: The Series' Umpteenth "Man-Versus-Machine" Scenario
Historical Milestone: The first and only time the term 'Captain Dunsel' (defined as 'a component that serves no useful purpose') is brought up on the show.
Expendable Enterprise Crewmember ('Red Shirt') Confirmed Casualty List: One dead
If you're familiar with the episodes 'Nomad' and 'Return of the Archons', you'll probably feel a sense of déjà vu while watching 'The Ultimate Computer'. Once again, a computer goes haywire (in this case, one that's been installed & patched into the Enterprise's systems, in preparation for ship-to-ship battle simulations), and it's up to the resourcefulness of our gallant crew to save the day once again. As expected, Kirk manages to talk the computer 'to death', but not before he shares his feelings of self-doubt, fear of losing his job to a machine, and a stiff drink with the always-sympathetic Doctor McCoy. Nothin' like a nip of the hooch with your chief medical officer to get yourself back on track, I always say...
THE OMEGA GLORY © PRELIMINARY BRIEFS:
Moral, Ethical, and/or Philosophical Subject(s) Driven Into The Ground: Allegory of the Cold War; The true meaning of freedom and liberty
Expendable Enterprise Crewmember ('Red Shirt') Confirmed Casualty List: One dead
This particular show features the return of Morgan Woodward, one of my all-time fave Star Trek guest stars. As the mentally-tormented Dr. Simon Van Gelder in 'Dagger of the Mind', Woodward's unbelievably overdone facial expressions of pain and anguish were really fun to watch. His mush undergoes further manipulation-- this time showing off his 'angry' faces-- in his second Star Trek go-round as he fills the role of rogue Starfleet Captain Ronald Tracey.
But if that ain't enough of a laugh, there's Jimmers' "lesson-of-the-day" that manages to milk a few more yuks outta me. His "we the people" spiel where he discusses the spirit of the United States Constitution to the planet's natives, while heartwarming to the average patriotic American Trekkie, is also quite cheesy when it's done in that unique Shatnerian delivery that has become a component of every modern two-bit standup comic's repertoire of backup gags. Throw in the unintentionally ironic fact that William Shatner is Canadian, and the guffaws don't die down 'til the closing credits roll!
In contrast, "Dreamaker" features shimmering surfaces that suggest Tiffany glass, but it remains an exercise in technique. "Fan-tasy" tries very hard to copy "Luxo," but the animation lacks the nuances that brought the lamps to life. In "Tosio," the gargoyle atop a walking stick literally coughs its lungs out--although the entrails look like plastic, the effect is sophmoric at best. The crashingly unfunny "Dutch Nelson, Galaxy Guy" is a trailer for a nonexistent film--an idea many students entertain, but usually outgrow by their second year of film school. --Charles Solomon
The story line for most of the animations also doesn't impressed me. I've seen an animation collection VHS from PIXAR 3 years ago (actually it was out 5yrs ago) and the quality is superb! This DVD is a dissappointment to me.
The quality of many of the animations on this disc are _REALLY_ good, with only a few exceptions. A couple of my personal favorites on this disc;
"Michael Gagne's Prelude to Eden" is _AWESOME_! Gagne is a well-known animator (his childrens books are on Amazon) and worked on Iron Giant. If you liked the climax in Iron Giant, you'll like this one.
"Light & Heavy" - another of Pixar's Luxo Jr. shorts done for Sesame Street.
"Joe & Basket: Mostly Sports" - Very wacky and well-done character animation.
"Dreamaker" - Very surreal animation with a nice music track. This is one of the best I've seen yet in this style.
"Operating Manual for Spaceship Uterus" - Too surreal for words! Awesome!
"Displaced Dice" - This is neat little animation from Mental Images (makes of the excellent MentalRay rendering software, used by Softimage and now 3D Max 3) showing off some very cool displacement mapping effects on a very simple scene. Nice music track.
"Beyond the Walls" - This is a very cool "virtual band" animation produced by Animusic. This animation was actually produced in stereoscopic form to be shown at amusement parks as "Concerto in 3D!" One nice aspect with this animation is the fact that quite a bit of the animation was driven directly by the MIDI soundtrack. Animusic also did the intro animation for this DVD.
"Dutch Nelson, Galaxy Guy" - A rather long comical animation done in the typically, ummmm, aesthetic-minimalistic style of Ronin Animation. What it lacks in subtlety makes up in humor, I guess...
"Tinkle Terror" - Very funny and cute animation. One of the best 'student' animations I've seen.
"If you ever played a video game back in the late '80s or early '90s you'll get a sense of what Computer Animation Festival has to offer."
Oh well. Anyway, this DVD is pretty decent if you are a die-hard CG fan. Here are a few of them described;
The End - My favorite animation on this disc! The academy-award nominated animation created by Chris Landreth (who later made academy-award winning Bingo) turns reality on it's head in a way that really can only be done with computer animation and motion capture. Hilarious!
Sleepy Guy - Very funny cartoonish animation by PDI animator Raman Hui, who worked on Antz.
Liberation and Let There Be Light - These are two music videos produced by the same animation company for Pet Shop Boys and Mike Oldfield. Fairly cheesy animation, but the music mixes very well, especially in the Mike Oldfield video.
Fluffy - A classic twisted HASH animation. It's amazing that this software is responsible such great animation work as this yet it's so cheap and doesn't seem as widely known.
Arnie and Birnie - Seriously twisted character animation of a dog and a pesky flee.
Mercury - Remember the classic BMW commercial showing a bit of liquid traveling over a dimly blue-light figure vaguely resembling a nude female body? Well, this is it!
Still Life - Funny animation of fruits being attacked on a still life painting by hungry silverware.
Word Play - Nicely modeled animation by Topix for an Oreo Cookie commercial, I believe.
Orbit - This is an in-house animation by Softimage and is used as a tutorial for people learning to use the software.
"Stand By Me" - This animation would be impressive if the character was done on a computer, but no - it's just some guy with makeup standing in front of a blue screen...
I've been following Zoe Productions work since they were featured in the "Gate to the Mind's Eye" and "Odyssey into ....".
Their work stood out because apart from the spaceships and explosions it was one of the few works that deserved to be called truly creative, meaningfull and artistic.
Very few companies nowadays pursue 3d animation for the sake of
artistic expression, most are doing special effects, games, comercials, etc...
This Trilogy is an INCREDIBLE artistic accomplishment by any standard.
It's full of AMAZING animations and each segment and program is totally different from the others.
The atmosphere's that are created are unique and defies description.
I'm an animator my self and there's nothing out there that comes close to this Trilogy
Zoe productions have been around for a long time winning many prestigious awards.
And you can see that by their mastery of 3d and original creativity.
The quality of the DVD is great with cristal clear images and surround sound.
Although it is a simbolic journey, you do get a sense of meaning
that it`s hard to describe.
Can`t compare with repetitive, meaningless ¨animation compilation¨ videos you`ve already seen over and over.
If you want to know what the future of CG as an art form looks like, THIS IS IT.
Parents, be warned that the DVD comes with a sticker on the front warning of "mature programming", although there is nothing that terrible here... just a non-gory gunshot in Tightrope and some minor PG-rated sexual innuendo/bathroom humor in other films.
The totally innocent and playful film "Butterflies in the Rain" and the dazzlingly beautiful "Un Temps Pour Elle" are two highlights of this very enjoyable DVD.
The premise (which should spawn some discussion about internet and email safety with parents whose kids are old enough) is that Telly, who has sent his friends a request for replies after setting up a new email address, gets a mysterious email message from a friend who asks him to guess who they are. Telly and other Sesame Street friends search high and low to find out who the mystery emailer is! There are a lot of Sesame Street animated clips and songs to help the plot along, including a GREAT bit with Cookie Monster and Prairie Dawn. If you're raising a budding hacker, this is for you!