Monday, December 05, 2005

The Nightmate Before Christmas

I didn't see this when it was first released and the technology surrounding it is amazing. I didn't look too closely at the rendering of the people but it is a bit creepy.

The nightmare before Christmas

I watched the scariest shit this weekend.


That's how my face was during the entire duration of . . .


It wasn't the many instances of peril that the characters faced that had me so ill-at-ease . .





. . . it was the characters' actual faces. I mean, look at them:






When The Polar Express was released last year, a lot of the reviews focused on this very point. With good reason! It's hard to pay attention to anything else when you're startled every two minutes by some matte humanoid's creepily realistic expressions. The movie is, at best, gorgeous torture, right down to the closing credits, over which a Josh Groban song plays. Ed Gonazlez's review contains the best summary the action sequences that I've read: "at turns suggests an Olympic-style luge event or a trip through an especially crowded FAO Schwartz."

Anyway, back to the ugly:



As though time hasn't been cruel enough to Tom Hanks!


I can't believe he signed off on that!



Not even Santa could escape the ugly stick.


Seriously, Billy Bob Thornton has nothing on him.

The elves are scary . . .


. . . the snowman's scary . .


. . . and just when you think it can't get any scarier, Steven Tyler shows up as an elf:




As you can tell from the Hanks and Tyler characters, the movie's characters were rendered using detailed scans of human models. Clearly, the technology has yet to be perfected. Some $165 million was put into this movie. Director Robert
Zemeckis was ripped off.

Watching these unlikeable characters interact is like watching cosmetically corrected corpses interact.



They waaaaannnntttt your soooooouuuuulllllllllll.

If only the script were as subversive as the flawed character design. It's not. The moral is something like: if you have faith in Jesus (for what is Santa Claus but Jesus with training wheels
on?), your presents will work properly. Merry Gift Day!

One more dash of ugly:


I really hope Hanks, Zemeckis and everyone else involved got smacked upside the head with a bag of coal last Christmas. If not, I'll be happy to do the job this time around.




At 12/05/2005 3:57 PM, Blogger Michael said...

2 things:

1. There is a name, and a wikipedia article, for the feelings of revulsion you experienced. It's called the Uncanny Valley.

2. I will never waste an opportumity to link to the review that made me fall in love with New York Times Snarkmistress Manola Dargis, who apparently hated the Polar Express so much she thought it prudent to reference Nazis and Nutsacks in this, perhaps the greatest movie review paragraph in history:

It's likely, I imagine, that most moviegoers will be more concerned by the eerie listlessness of those characters' faces and the grim vision of Santa Claus's North Pole compound, with interiors that look like a munitions factory and facades that seem conceived along the same oppressive lines as Coketown, the red-brick town of "machinery and tall chimneys" in Dickens's "Hard Times." Tots surely won't recognize that Santa's big entrance in front of the throngs of frenzied elves and awe-struck children directly evokes, however unconsciously, one of Hitler's Nuremberg rally entrances in Leni Riefenstahl's "Triumph of the Will." But their parents may marvel that when Santa's big red sack of toys is hoisted from factory floor to sleigh it resembles nothing so much as an airborne scrotum.


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