The Future of Cinema… Monochrome?

Last night the Stupor collective teamed up to watch the excellent but bleak and harrowing “The Mist”. A very well made, gritty film that could be loosely categorised as horror with a pinch of Sci-Fi. Adapted from Stephen King’s short story by director Frank Darabont, this quality movie seems to have gone rather unnoticed by most, even it’s target audience and not least by two thirds of that evenings audience (Gazz and myself).

The only reason it came to my attention, I now recall, was because it was mentioned in a podcast I listened to over my Christmas break of the BBC’s flagship film review show (the Wittertaining Kermode and Mayo’s Film Review Show in fact). They interviewed one of the stars, one Toby Jones (ironically, the guy who’s name I couldn’t remember during the showing). “The Mist” was a remarked on by Mr Jones and the interviewing Mark Kermode as a top draw, having an ending the director had to fight the studio tooth & nail to keep and being originally planned to be released in in black-and-white.

It would appear these three things stuck with me as I spontaneously quizzed this parish’s Mr Holmes on the movie this Monday and mentioned the other two facts during our discussion. He confirmed the veracity of the comments on both quality and ending, and took to investigating the black-and-white point further.

On arriving at my house with his DVD in hand (yes, of course I had to watch it as soon as possible) he confirmed that, from his research, the movie was “even better” in black-and-white, with the effects looking “nicer and less plasticy” too. With this in mind we sat down to watch the movie but, as Neil DVD didn’t have the “Special Edition” black and white edition on it, we unanimously decided to turn the saturation down to zero. Simultaneously turning the 47” HD panel into a monochrome set and allowing us to watch the movie the way the director intended.

Argh!! The Black &White Tentacle Got The Sherminator!!

125 minutes later and we’d witnessed a revelation. Not only was I sat there completely aghast at the beyond-brutal ending but seeing this film in shades of grey really added something. As reported, the special FX looked darn good (in a kind of fun but horrifying way) and, most surprisingly, the picture quality looked comparable with a decent BluRay transfer. The best bit, however, was how the whole thing felt. It was absolutely wonderful. If anything it seemed almost more real and only on a couple of occasions did I even realise we were watching in black and white. We were all very impressed, so much so that we agreed with Gazz when he voiced the opinion that we should watch future horror films with the colour removed too.

So, there you have it, revelation shared!! Go watch things in black-and-white, people. Just give it a go and see what you think…

Sure it won’t work for everything but anything that’s intimately filmed and has a good story won’t suffer and, if anything, may be improved by a manual decolourisation.

As an aside, it also served as quite a good counterpoint to the current 2D (twoD) verses 3D (threeD) debate too. At no point did I wish it was in threeD and, yes, there were quite enough frames per second for me too. This completely confirmed what I guess we already know; attach all the bells and whistles you want, you can’t beat having a good, well written story and, if you don’t have that, then the rest is just meaningless, superfluous fluff.

Turn eyes to MAX

Tomorrow I’m hopefully going to have my first “IMAX Experience”, as they call it, and I’m rather excited about it too.

I’ve wanted to go and see what all the IMAX fuss is about for quite some time now. I’m a regular listener to the Mayo & Kermode Film Review podcast from BBC Radio 5 Live, in which chief contributor Mark Kermode has continually insisted IMAX, and not 3D, is the future of cinema. Combine this with some independent research into the cinematic standard (it’s extraordinarily high resolution, stadium style seating and gargantuan concave screens) and my appetite is whet to the point being positively submerged…

Until recently IMAX screens were few and very far between but I’ve noticed them popping up in many of the cities I’ve visited of late, though I’ve never really had the chance to pay any of them a visit, as I’m usually there to do something else, either that or there’s nothing on I really want to watch. However, with the opening of an IMAX screen at Sheffield’s Centertainment Cineworld complex, one of these mammoth venues is easily at hand, so all I had to do was wait for a movie to come along that would justify the rather costly £13.10 admission.

Enter “Prometheus”, Ridley Scott’s return to the Sci-Fi genre and prequel to the Alien(s) franchise. I saw a trailer for this before a release day screening of “The Cabin in the Woods” and was so impressed by the visual quality and shear scale of the thing I made the decision, then and there, that this would be the one to take my IMAX flower.

Looking further into it, now the time is upon me, the only thing that’s giving me second thoughts is that you can only see it at IMAX in 3D (or threed) but I’m willing to overlook this in this case as it was filmed in threed (so it wont be one of those awful pop-up book looking retro-fits) and I’m hoping the extra umph of the IMAX projection might compensate for the usual dimming effect.

So, there you have it, I’m on the verge of what might be an incredible experience or a rather expensive disappointment. As far as the film goes, I have great confidence in Scott to deliver, if not a classic film, then at least an epic feature. He has a great pedigree for such things and given the cast he has to work with, I feel sure he’ll not let me down. I watched Alien in Hi-Def on my mate’s wall last night too, so I’m all kinds of prepared. Now it’s just a waiting game. I’ll b sure to report back on how it goes, on all fronts.

Roll out your shiniest bells and finest whistles IMAX. I’m coming over there and I expect to be impressed.