Spectral Review – Bland Military vs. Bland Ghosts is Bland Experience

Spectral Review – Bland Military vs. Bland Ghosts is Bland Experience

Movies

If I told you that there was a movie out there about a group of soldiers in Eastern Europe teamed up with a plucky scientist against a horde of ghosts you would probably think it was either a really stupid idea or the kind of bonkers idea that makes for some truly entertaining popcorn fair. Unfortunately, Spectral is not the latter.

James Badge Dale plays as Dr. Scientist. Okay, his name is Dr. Mark Clyne but that doesn’t matter because you’ll be forgetting his name as soon as you hear it. Mark is a scientist who works for DARPA and is disillusioned by the fact that all of his inventions, gasp, are going to be weaponized. You would think a guy working for, you know, DARPA would be accustomed to such things but hey he can’t be a genius inventor and self aware.

Dr. Scientist is sent to Moldova to investigate why soldiers are being mysteriously frozen to death after seeing apparitions on a special pair of Spectral (Hey! That’s the title!) goggles that Dr. Scientist created. He’s sent in with a team and a special science light thing he’s created to see if they can spot whatever this mysterious force is while also fending off the current insurgents. The team inevitably spots the “apparitions” (because nobody in this movie has apparently heard of a ghost or is willing to actually use the word) and are swiftly attacked with most of their members killed. Long story short, Dr. Scientist does some science and creates a special light gun that kills the gho…I mean apparitions in their tracks. Whatever, you get the point.

Spectral is not a “bad” movie per se. It’s not good either. What it is, plain and simple, is bland. Now, a lot of this owes to the fact that the script is basically Aliens where instead there are ghosts. But a lot of it is also built around the fact that the characters have no personality at all and there is no real conflict between characters. Our main character, for example, is clearly a pacifist who wants no part in the actual warfare part of his job. And yet, when a soldier mocks him saying that he’s only a tourist if he’s not carrying an assault rifle he all too quickly offers to carry one. From then it’s a moot point. There’s no culture clash at all.

There’s no point in learning the names of any of the soldiers, either. That’s either because they get killed as soon as they are introduced or they simply have no real personality because the movie is so bogged down with the present situation that no real time is given for us getting to know them. There are no character moments to give us an idea of who these people are. For a movie that is so desperate to riff off Aliens it’s amazing that they at didn’t at least take a page out of the Bill Paxton school of comic relief (of which there is none in this movie).

 

Let’s compare Spectral with a movie that clearly influenced it, Live Die Repeat/Edge of Tomorrow. In Edge of Tomorrow Tom Cruise’s main character is clearly defined. He is a coward and will do anything to get out of active combat. We see him go through a clear and concise character arc in which he goes from coward to he with whom you do not screw on the battlefield. His fellow soldiers have character moments that endear them to the audience. We get to know them bit by bit as the film progresses. The secondary protagonist Rita is given her own story arc. The action isn’t generic because the film uses its premise to its fullest potential. Spectral does none of these things.

The film’s design is pretty awful as well. Weta Workshop is one of the gold standards in the film industry. They have an incredible team and they frequently knock out masterpiece after masterpiece of design…but either they dropped the ball here or they were instructed to create characters and props that were devoid of imagination. The ghosts look like every other generic gray blob antagonist you’ve seen in every blockbuster over the last 5+ years. The sci-fi weaponry looks marginally okay but nothing really stands out. The spectral gun that’s created has no personality. It doesn’t look cool. Think about the proton pack from the original Ghostbusters. You want a proton pack. I want a proton pack. Everyone wants a proton pack because the proton pack is cool and has personality. This things has none of that.

At the end of the day Spectral commits almost every cardinal sin of modern action and sci-fi films. It rests on the laurels of a decent idea and does nothing to actually use that premise to its full potential. It’s lazy, it’s bland, it’s poorly designed, and it borrows ideas from movies that are so much better. Spectral is a film with the personality and flair of a dead moth. It’s not scary, it’s not inventive, and it’s just not any fun.

Beauty and the Beast and the Problem With Photoshopped Movie Posters

Beauty and the Beast and the Problem With Photoshopped Movie Posters

Movies

The upcoming live action remake of Disney’s Beauty and the Beast is one of the most anticipated movies of the coming year. So far just about everything has been pitch perfect in terms of casting, set design, and music choices but if there is one area where I’m finding myself a bit disappointed it’s in the poster.

beauty-and-the-beast-poster

It’s not an ugly poster, not by any means. In fact I actually liked it at first glance. But it’s got some problems, some of which have less to do with the poster itself. First of all, I like the idea of the poster. It’s clearly meant to an homage to the John Alvin artwork for the original movie.

original-beauty-and-the-beast-poster

For Disney to have commissioned an homage to the original says that they really do want fans of the original to like this. But the problem is that, at a second glance, there is some laziness in the execution of their concept. First of all, the edges of the figures are too hard. They immediately make the image look photoshopped, which betrays the rest of the painterly qualities that they’ve clearly tried to give the image. That brings me to my next point: If you’re going to try and make a painterly image then why not simply have the image painted, be it digitally or traditionally? The artwork that we currently have here is a half measure. They want that classic Disney look but the execution looks lazy.

 

Speaking of classic Disney, and this is probably a minor gripe on my part, am I the only one who misses the “Walt Disney Pictures Presents” portion of the logo? It just adds that little bit of formality to the picture, like it’s a product they’ve crafted and put out with pride. Instead it literally seems like they’ve just slapped the Disney logo on it and put it out the door.

 

At the end of the day, it’s a poster. It’s not the film itself, but sometimes a movie’s marketing campaign can speak volumes to a company’s pride in their product. The original Beauty and the Beast is still the only animated film to have ever been nominated for Best Picture at the Oscars. Not Best Animated Picture, but Best Picture of any kind. That makes it important, so to see them fumble the ball with the poster makes me wonder just how seriously they’re taking it. Then again, I’m old school and they’re the ones who just made $5+ billion in the past year so what do I know?

I’m Back and It’s Time For a Change

Blog

Hello, interwebs! It’s certainly been too long since we last saw an update. I had to take some time off of the site because, quite frankly, I had no idea what I wanted to do with it anymore. The fact of the matter is that there were so few movies this summer that I was excited for and I’ve found myself more and more getting into the world of cosplay and prop crafting. This happened in a pretty organic way. I’m in the middle of writing the first screenplay that I intend to shoot and

I’m in the middle of some short film projects while also writing the first screenplay that I intend to shoot. As a result of that there are numerous props that I had to learn to create in order to save money.

So what does that have to do with the website? I’ll tell you. I’m taking things in a new direction. While I still intend to cover films and video games you’re going to start finding a lot more space that covers filmmaking, props, and cosplay. We’ll be highlighting not only some of the coolest cosplay I find on the internet, I plan on there being tutorials that range from crafting cosplay, props, and even showing you some of the DIY tricks I intend to put into the film I’m making. I have much more to cover later on, but overall I’m excited to see where this new direction takes us and what kind of fun we can have.

As for the first project we’ll be covering? I think it looks like a hood ornament…