Star Wars: The Rise Of Skywalker – Movie Review

February 21st, 2020

movie reviewLet’s start with the fact that I really liked what they did with The Force Awakens. I wouldn’t call it too clever but it’s a well made “soft reboot”. The film managed to find the right strings to play and sparked the imagination of all fans. JJ Abrams did a fine enough job. The Last Jedi, the follow up film, written and directed by Rian Johnson was very polarizing to say the least. I guess the task he was given was to cut ties with most of the familiar Star Wars elements and give the franchise a new direction by subverting expectations. I completely understand the motivation for that step and in some parts the movie actually did fine. But other parts got me angry. Especially how they treated the character of Luke Skywalker. It wasn’t so much the place and state of mind he was in. It was the presentation of him and certain actions I would never expect Luke to do. So the ultimate message of that film was to leave everything behind for something new. It did not work too well. Especially that chase plot throughout the film. Nothing really happens in that 2 hour film. Now we have JJ Abrams back with The Rise Of Skywalker. The film to bring all the threads together and find a satisfying end to the most popular scifi series, in the making since 1977.

After the backlash we’ve seen for The Last Jedi it was quite a challenge to please the fans with this last film of a nine movie series. My hope for this film was a longer break in the timeline. The ending of The Last Jedi was very dark. The Rebellion/Resistance was pretty much defeated. So why not start the next film a couple of years later? Leave some room for speculations for the fans. It would also detach this new film a little better from The Last Jedi and what happened there (not too much… but still!). Instead of giving it time we start what seems like almost immediately after the last film.

There will be spoilers in this discussion.

The film starts and not much has changed from where we left off at the end of the last film. The First Order is still wreaking havoc in the galaxy and our heroes lick their wounds and hide on a jungle planet (too familiar? yes!). The Emperor, through his almighty force powers he did let the galaxy know that he’s not dead and preparing a comeback. Kylo Ren (Adam Driver) manages to obtain a Sith Wayfinder that leads him to Emperor Palpatine’s (Ian McDiarmid) hideout. It’s well hidden, outside the known regions of the galaxy. When Kylo meets Palpatine we get our first load of “trying to fix what Last Jedi did”. And these fixes are sprinkled in throughout the film. Rey (Daisy Ridley) in the meantime is trained by Leia (Carrie Fisher) to complete her Jedi training. Of course our heroes start their journey soon too. There is a second Wayfinder to be found! We get to see a load of new places and characters. The film leaves no breathing room and jumps from one setpiece to another. It’s all spectacle and no room for character development. There is only one real personal character scene in this film. A confrontation between Kylo and Rey in the middle of the film. This part was executed really well. Only these two characters and their struggles embedded in a nifty lightsaber fight. We get another fight between them later and it’s alright too but by far not as good as the first confrontation. Throughout the film we see our protagonists hunt objects that lead to another object that eventually leads to Palpatines hideout. On that journey we get a lot of scenes that have an Empire Strikes Back and Return Of The Jedi vibe. Much like The Force Awakens we have a lot of familiar stuff sprinkled in. It kind of does and doesn’t work at the same time. If there is a second movie like Last Jedi that tries to cut ties and does something new… we should follow that up in the third film. Now it feels as if the second film doesn’t really exists. You could play The Force Awakens and Rise Of Skywalker back to back and you wouldn’t miss the Last Jedi at all. Which leads to the unfortunate conclusion that Disney had no plan at all for these three films. Especially this last one feels very rushed when it comes to its plot. And beside Kylo and Rey all the other characters (that are very likeable throughout the films) fall completely flat. Adam Driver acts the crap out of his Kylo Ren character and for me he’s the only thing holding the films together. Rey is a nice character too but by far not as conflicted as Kylo. The bad guy, as usual, is far more interesting. Ultimately, as a long long long time fan it’s frustrating to see this story unfold. So many wasted oportunities in favour of plain and flat spectacle. Oh, and the final space battle is one of the worst choreographed space battles I’ve ever seen in a scifi film.

After an Indiana Jones like hunt for places and objects we get said final space battle of course. Along with the confrontation of Palpatine. And while most of the things that happened before could be shrugged off, a lot of things start to make seriously no sense anymore in this third act. A lot of “How did he…?” and “How is it possible…?” questions pop up. And there are no answers. And while watching the film you don’t have much time thinking because it moves so fast from one thing to the next thing to the next thing. Almost deliberately. Just don’t make the audience think too much while watching the film! Keep them busy at all costs! And when the credits start to roll it’s almost a waking up moment.

I saw this film relatively late. Went into it without big expectations. Avoided spoilers as much as possible. I admit it, Last Jedi left a mark on me. Immediately after the film was done I felt a hole in my stomach. That waking up moment. “So that’s it now?”, I asked myself. Growing up with all the Extended Universe novels (that are not part of the Star Wars canon anymore), I expected something so much grander. Especially when it comes to how they treated our beloved characters. Now this new trilogy definitely has its moments and a lot of entertainment. And that’s what these films are reduced to, “moments” and “entertainment”. There is almost no depth. It feels shallow. After seeing all three films it seems that The Last Jedi, the movie everyone hated so much, is probably the best one! Because itat least ‘tried’.

Now I would still place this trilogy above the prequel trilogy but the original trilogy still is on top. By far. Should Disney attempt a new movie series (and they will), it needs to be planned out and not be done on a movie by movie basis. The good thing is that they are forced to do something new now. Sure, you can sprinkle in some references here and there I’m sure… but overall it needs a new story and new characters. I’ll be there and watch it. I’m too much of a Star Wars nut to miss it. Did the prequels and the sequels ruin the original trilogy for me? Absolutely not. Still, I expected more heart and depth from these new films.

My conclusion: Star Wars desperately needs a new identity.

A 6.8/10 for me.

Star Wars: The Rise Of Skywalker on IMDb

1917 – Movie Review

January 29th, 2020

movie reviewIt makes me wonder why this film didn’t come out in 2017. You know, a perfect fit… a round 100 years. That pointless analysis aside, I often wonder why most of us gravitate towards war movies so much. Is it the battles, emotions, horrors? I guess it comes down to reminding us how bleak and hopeless the world can be. While early war movies tended to be more about the spectacle and heroics than the single person and the impact it all has on the soul or how a single person in that war machinery doesn’t make a big difference. In the past 40 years we started to look at this topic with more critical eyes. War is a beast. You can’t tame it. It’s unpredictable. While it brings out the courage in some of us, it turns other human beings into the worst creatures you can think of. That said, WW1 didn’t get much attention on the big screen yet. Paths of Glory (1957), All Quiet on the Western Front (1930) come to mind. Both very strong movies. I hoped for the 100th anniversary of WW1 to get some movies that cover that war a little more closely. Nothing happened. Until now with 1917.

We follow Lance Corporal Blake (Dean-Charles Chapman) and Lance Corporal Schofield (George MacKay). Ordinary soldiers, just taking a break. Their well deserved break ends soon when they receive the order to cross dangerous territory to the front line and deliver an important order to stop a planned attack on the germans. Thousands will run into a trap if they fail. One of them is Blake’s older brother. So right there Blake has a special motivation to get the job done. We follow them through the trenches and on their journey through the field and the difficulties that the circumstances put on them.

The cinematography makes the audience discover the world along with the characters. They chose a very immersive way of putting us right into this world. By filming everything in the style of a single continuous shot. Of course they used every trick in the book to put in their cuts but it’s all pretty much hidden and invisible. Very long takes that require some fantastic acting and a lot of discipline, which both actors (and everyone else involved) deliver nicely. We get to see the horrors of that war and the immediate reaction of our characters. In fact, stylistically some sequences could actually be straight out of a horror movie. In times where it seems to be the easiest thing to deliver a message it’s a valuable shift of perspective to see how difficult it can be or how difficult is was only 100 years ago.

The film is not trying to be about the big battles with all the familiar noises of a battlefield. It’s not “Saving Private Ryan” and a comparison would be rather unfair I think. It’s a rather quiet film that focusses on the protagonists and how they deal with their task, their reactions, their fight for survival, emotions and how the whole sitation affects them. We follow them to a variety of locations and the camera work makes sure you notice everything they notice. There are a couple of situations and locations that almost make that world feel unreal. Which kind of works since I imagine war itself as a rather unreal experience. An experience I don’t want to make.

The overall experience worked great. The acting, photography, sound and music gel so well that you are right in that world and discover it with the characters in the film. It’s almost necessary to see this film on a big screen with good sound. Especially that one night sequence with it’s lighting, music and composition. Roger Deakins was the perfect director of photography for this film. It is an experience.

A 8.4/10 for me.

1917 on IMDb

Myriada – Terrain Asset Resource

January 11th, 2020

Myriada 8k Mountain Heightfield Package

This is the fourth heightfield resource/asset I created. For $11,99 the contents of this package are intended for personal and commercial projects. Beside the main terrain (8192×8192, 16bit) itself, this package contains a collection of masks (16bit) and colormaps (8bit) that allow you to go into very fine detail when giving the terrain character by adding textures and materials. As usual I have also added some custom made material, I had fun with while creating the terrain, as well. It’s best used with landscape centered tools like Vue or Terragen but can also be used with any other sophisticated 3d package that’s out there. I also included a Vue scene file with an example setup of the terrain. Vue might ask you to reload the materials when you load the scene. Please check the included readme.txt for more info about the contents. Have fun with it! :)

Find it here:

Myriada on Artstation

Regards
signed

Chill Your Base

December 25th, 2019



Chill Your Base

Last one for 2019, with the right message! Three and a half years I’m having this on my drive now. Waiting. For what? I don’t know. Maybe for that one tick that tells me to let it go. There’s nothing else/more to do on it. That’s what I feel now. I started this project to learn a little more about texturing. UV mapping and all that. Learned a lot, that’s for sure. Composition wise it’s not a bullseye but for every down there’s an up. And that up is the lighting, with which I’m faily happy with. Who wouldn’t want to live there and chill out every once in a while?

8000×3652 – Vue – Photoshop – Lightroom – World Machine – Cinema 4d – DAZ Studio

The artwork on:
DeviantartArtstationCGSociety

wallpapers available

Regards

signed

Com-cept 26

December 1st, 2019



Com-cept 26

Finished this a while ago as part of my Comcept series. I had it on my drive a while and when the Aurora artgroup started a new topic, I figured it would fit nicely. No big story for this one though. Just me having some fun with a spaceship chase scene.

4500×2054 – Vue – Photoshop – Xenodream – Apophysis

Part of Project Aurora: Orange

The artwork on:
DeviantartArtstationCGSociety

Regards

signed

Emma’s Refuge

September 15th, 2019



Emma’s Refuge

“There’s a high class party going on somewhere. She needed a break, contemplating to leave or not. She certainly has enough of all these caricatures, throwing around senseless phrases and drowning in mindless smalltalk.”

Although I worked on this for quite a while, it was a rather spontaneous decision to go for it. I downloaded a free promo pack of 3d cyberpunk buildings by Kitbash3d. When I started to convert them to make them work with Vue properly, I naturally played around with the objects. I found a neat angle and I suddenly had a scene in my head. Then I discovered that the fine folks at Kitbash3d made a contest. All you have to do is to use the buildings. “No problem!” I thought! =D

I don’t have many night scenes and took this as a challenge. Cyberpunk needs to be at night and even better with rain! Still, I decided to add a couple of elements you normally don’t see too much in a typical Cyberpunk environment. I fell in love with this scene while working on it and I think it’s easily one of my better pieces.

I noticed the potential of the scene very early on and spent a lot of time with details. I took apart the building objects and kitbashed stuff here and there for additional details. The lady was created with DAZ Studio. I sat down and modified the dress quite a bit and it turned out rather good. That dress on the right kind of woman would surely be a sight to behold. Rendering was quite a chore due to all the lights in the background. I did separate renders for the back and front. Which resulted in tons of passes I combined in Photoshop. So yeah, there were tons of adjustments in Photoshop.

8000×5333 – Vue – Photoshop – Lightroom – Kitbash3D

The artwork on:
DeviantartArtstationCGSociety

Regards

signed

Organica II

September 4th, 2019



Organica II

Like so many of my works this one started by just playing around. Suddenly that creative spark strikes and one thing leads to another. Needless to say, I’m particularly proud of this one.

Imagine a field trip on an alien planet. There once were these giant bacteria like creatures roaming the surface (because scale doesn’t matter in our universe)… now fossilized. I imagine this place being part of a park much like the Yosemite National Park in the USA.

The giant shapes were created with Xenodream and imported into Vue. There I did setup the overall scene and assembled all the compositional elements. The terrain was done with Geoglyph2 and World Machine. The rocks come from a variety of sources. Mainly Blenderguru and Megascans. A lot of time went into detail work and multiple renders for adding that detail. Later on I had the idea to add some smoke to the bottom of the hole and decided to try myself on cloud modulation in Vue. Took a while to work myself into it but delivered the material I needed to bring in the detail I had in mind.

7000×3784 – Vue – Xenodream – World Machine – Geoglyph2 – Photoshop – Lightroom

Part of Project Aurora “Yellow” – Project Aurora Website

The artwork on:
DeviantartArtstationCGSociety

wallpapers available

Regards

signed

Aurora – Exhibit IV – Yellow

September 3rd, 2019

Project Aurora - Exhibit IV

The Luminarium & The Cosmosys Collective invite you to a trip for your imagination and inspiration! Members of the two artgroups sat down and decided to do a crossover artgroup… which by now should be seen as a fully formed standalone group. Represented is art created with all kinds of techniques in all kinds of fields. Again a ‘healthy variety’… how I would call it. I’m included with a piece I’m particularly proud of. The exhibit has the extension YELLOW. So the artworks have a main overall colour theme going on. Still, overall the the exhibit can be considered freestyle. We’ve got some great results and so I want to thank everyone involved and especially the people who did the organisational stuff in the background!

Go check it out and sharing is caring!

Project Aurora Project Aurora Website
The Exhibit on Behance

Regards
signed

Callsign: Firefly

August 28th, 2019



Callsign: Firefly

As soon as she entered pilot training school, she was “The Firefly”. Thanks to her skills and relentless will to become the best, that name soon became highly respected among the best pilots in the fleet.

Yep, this one is a pure just for fun piece. A try in doing something ‘portray’ like. I also wanted to dig myself a little deeper into DAZ Studio and its Iray renderer. It delivers pretty neat results and I wanted to know how it works properly with materials and lighting. I didn’t just use a stock figure and tried to create a character myself. Along with modified textures for the character and props. Did have my fun with it and I quite like the result. I guess especially because of the unusual framing of the picture too.

I did use Photoshop for final touch ups. No way around it. Removed some clipping issues and refined the lighting and colours.

6000×2144 – DAZ Studio – Photoshop – Lightroom

The artwork on:
DeviantartArtstationCGSociety

wallpapers available

Regards

signed

Calista Square

August 7th, 2019



Calista Square

I started this one years ago and kept it on my drive. Sometimes I tend to keep my stuff laying around for no apparent reason. As if I’m waiting for something. Well, my inner voice tells me to finally release it. It’s scifi cityscape time! It’s certainly been a while since my last one and so far there’s nothing new in the pipeline for now. So this one has to make a splash! It does for me at least and I’m happy to finally share it.

Is there a story to the scene? No. Not really. Inspiration? Yes, sure. Although nothing specific I tried to capture. Still, I wanted to connect this place to my little “Cities Of Linestra” series. Just another city on Linestra, a planet populated with all kinds of cities. Originally it also wasn’t planned to turn this into a project this big. Sometimes these projects decide to take a live of their own and guide you. You cannot just stop there. And yeah, so I added more and more stuff.

However, in the end I was just trying to create a vista/place I would love to see or visit for real. So yeah, I just sat down and had fun. Sometimes that ‘fun’ turned into real ‘work’ but I knew it would pay off at the end. And I was right.

As usual I worked a lot with Vue to bring it all together. But I also used C4D to create variations of model assets I own. You know, to give my scene a more individual look and feel. I think I had this scene done 3 times before I was really calling it done. That is when, having time for your work to grow, pays off. I often need that time. So I ended up adding lots of cool elements I otherwise would have never included into the scene.

I started with rendering a master plate and continued to refine the scene in Vue. That resulted in multiple additional renders that were added piece by piece to the scene in Photoshop. There I changed the overall feel and added some photographic effects. I really enjoy the colours and the overall depth of the scene. Again a picture that allows to dive in, explore and discover new detail each time you risk a closer look.

6500×3514 – Vue – C4D – Photoshop – Lightroom

The artwork on:
DeviantartArtstationCGSociety

wallpapers available

Regards

signed