Enchanted Ground 1: Reviews

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Review 1: Slenderman

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Slenderman has become a popular cult sensation for horror enthusiasts and people interested in the paranormal.

The Slenderman myth was created during 2009 on the somethingawful web forum as an experiment in the creation of folklore-like images through photo manipulation.

It’s all about a gaunt, abnormally tall figure who stalks children and lurks in narrow places. It blends ancient European demonic myths, traditional terrors and modern memes to produce one of the internet’s most terrifying stories.

Distorted pictures. Disturbing sightings. “Found footage” video. All have been spawned through the inspiration this spindly, faceless figure has generated. This particular story has succeeded beyond its creators’ dreams, and has been a popular topic of fan-fiction on a wide variety of websites. In short, Slenderman has become firmly entrenched in urban legend. (http://www.news.com.au/technology/online/a-brutal-stabbing-attack-by-preteens-obsessed-with-the-slenderman-puts-spotlight-back-on-the-popular-culture-of-horror-stories/story-fnjwmwrh-1226942516909)

I heard about Slenderman when I discovered my students playing a videogame in class. I am always intrigued by new forms of pop culture and I thought this was quite curious. The student played the game as a character of a little girl who would walk through the woods and eventually get a fright as the Slenderman would appear all of a sudden. He told me that this character is real! Of course I laughed at the students naivety. I heard more about the character as classes went on and I thought it was an interesting idea similar to the Blair Witch phenomenon from 1999.

Slenderman is a great idea for a digital story as it mixes historical myths with modern and traditional terror mixed with stories, memes and video games all found online.

Unfortunately it has become the centre of a crime in Milwaukee, US. Where two teens tried to murder their friend as a sacrifice for Slenderman.

Check out this website for more stories and myths regarding Slenderman but beware if you’re about to go to sleep.

http://www.creepypasta.com/

 

Review 2 Hurst

Similar to Slenderman, Hurst is an online horror story told through the popular social media website Twitter. Screenwriter Kristi Barnett is using transmedia to engage her audience in a new way. Transmedia is a technique of telling stories through multiple platforms and formats.

Her story revolves around Karen Barley who is convinced by her sinister boss to take an outdoor trip with sinister repercussions to not only herself but her boyfriend Darren. Using Twitter to drop hints at what is happening, Barley uses the format to introduce a new way of telling ghost stories.

A great idea and with everyone using twitter to put bite sized film reviews or opinion pieces why not use it to tell an overarching story. Much like how Dickens used the paper to publish chapters of his novels back in the day why not use Twitter to market and create your own story. I think this is a great way for up and coming artists to get a leg into the industry without getting a book deal. More and more writers are using this format and it is exciting to see the young talent coming through.

 

Review 3 Goldilocks

The action packed Goldilocks starts with an exciting short film/intro on Vimeo and to continue the tale of Goldilocks or Locks you have to purchase the app Majek.

The link from Enchanted Ground 1 leads to a short film shot entirely on an iPhone 4 and iPod Touch. It is exciting and full of action. The camera techniques are original and incorporate low angles on a bike riding and a shot under a glass of wine. Also the fast paced editing and quick cuts push the audiences adrenaline. This is a great intro to what can possibly be an interesting series found exclusively on your mobile phone.

Digital Storytelling Reviews: In Sight & The Aussie Affair

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For the final stretch of this course I need to review my peers work. Having viewed a few I am now very nervous about my little amateur production.

Review: In Sight

First off is Bo, Jarrod and Matthew’s In Sight. What a beautiful little film. Amazing cinematography and use of colour and light ad depth and emotional resonance to each frame of this short film. Acting was great and this didn’t feel like a University project it felt like something I could see in a short film festival. Well done to Bo, Jarrod and Matthew. All the best for the remainder of your course.

Rating: 4 Stars

Review: The Aussie Affair

Very well shot documentary dealing with the lives of international students studying in Melbourne, Australia. The cinematography and editing is well done and shows the highs and lows of life as an international student. Insightful and humorous at times. Well done to all involved.

Rating: 3 Stars

Bridge-Less River 1: Ebooks

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*I have made it to Level 2 yay!

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Unlike most people I talk to I actually love ebooks. Many people still prefer the printed paper books. To feel the weight of the book in your hands and dog tag the pages and add your own notes to each page. However I prefer the light and flexible ebook. This started around 2011 when I got my first iPad. At that time it was the iPad 2. I was so excited to get this brand new apple product to add to my apple collection of my iPhone 3 and Macbook Pro. The iPad 1 was released in April 2010 and just like the iPhone before it became apple’s next big hit. Since then the iPad has received many upgrades, with iPad 2, 3, Mini and last years iPad Mini, it has also sold over 200 million units. In 2010 I was dying to get my hands on one. Then for my birthday in 2011 my then girlfriend (now wife) bought my an iPad 2 for my birthday. Best birthday present ever! Anyway this post isn’t about iPads, it is in fact about one of their apps that has since changed the way we read books, iBooks.

Using the app iBooks users were able to purchase a book through iTunes (usually at a pretty standard rate) and read it on their iPad. These books were published digitally and allowed readers to highlight text, enlarge text and bookmark pages with the ease of touching their screen. Today iBooks isn’t the only ebook app as there is Kindle for Amazon subscribers, Google books for Android users and many more ebook apps. However as a user of iBooks I’ll stick to that app. On iBooks some books were free but most popular and recent titles would not be free. As with other iTunes products there are sales here and there and you can get updated on your favourite genre, author or series. The first book I bought on iBooks was A Song of Ice and Fire: Book 1 – Game of Thrones by George R. R. Martin. After watching the excellent first season of Game of Thrones I was interested in catching up on the books. As we were planning a holiday on a cruise ship it was the perfect time to catch up on some reading. I found reading on the iPad so much easier than lugging around a massive book. (Game of Thrones is an especially big book coming in over 1000 pages). It is easy and versatile and you can read wherever you are. I could read in my dark room as the back light allowed me to read each word without needing to turn on a lamp and I could read in the sun with my glare free screen. Since then I have enjoyed many books on my iPad and haven’t read a paperback since. I have a lot of friends that disagree with the ebook phenomenon and believe a book should be felt but I find the versatility and sleekness of an ebook/iPad so much easier to carry around and enjoy on any occasion.

If my film criticism takes off and I want to write a book one day and make it into an ebook there are different ways of doing this. One way could be to get a deal or contract with a publication company and get them to edit and publish my book both paperback and ebook. They could use EPUB format for IOS devices and Kindle for Amazon Kindle products. If today I decided to do it myself I could use BookWright a downloadable book making tool. To create a book you can publish it in print, as an ebook, or both. Bookwright keeps it tidy for you in one project file. You can also use Adobe InDesign to make an ebook. You can choose your fonts, edit your blurb and control how everything appears aesthetically using the Bookwright tool.

Other ways of making an ebook can be found in these links;

http://www.bookbaby.com/how-to-make-an-ebook

References:

BookWright – http://au.blurb.com/ebook

Interpreter’s House 5: Search Engine Comparison

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Using three different search engines, I searched for ‘MIFF 2014’. MIFF 2014 is the Melbourne International Film Festival. I want to learn as much as possible about this years festival and I wish to attend as many screenings as possible.

Instagrok Search:

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Unfortunately Instagrok couldn’t find anything on MIFF 2014. In the search engine comparison, Instagrok fails right away.

Duckduckgo Search

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Duckduckgo appears to search from an international point of view. Related topics that appear include the Mumbai International Film Festival and Malaysian International Furniture Festival. These searches aren’t what I was hoping for and don’t help me. The Melbourne International Film Festival is no where to be seen.

Google search:

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Google is clearly the winner and found the best results regarding MIFF 2014. The first link is the official website for MIFF and holds all the information for this years Melbourne International Film Festival.

Google is my default browser as I use Google Chrome for my web browser. If I used Internet Explorer I would go to Internet Options and select Google as my default browser.

Slough of Despond 5: Creative Commons

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One thing I haven’t thought too much about is copyright issues with regards to my reviews. Anyone out there online can take my work and reproduce it as their own. I know my students constantly do this with wikipedia. However for this task we are to find a Copyright licence which suits our work.

I have found Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International.

Under the following terms:

  • No additional restrictions — You may not apply legal terms or technological measures that legally restrict others from doing anything the license permits.

Review: The Amazing Spider-Man 2 (2014)

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Doubting castle 4: advanced blogging

In order to write a review for the film The Amazing Spider-Man 2, I got information about the film, behind the scenes information, release dates and trailers via my RSS feed from my account on theoldreader.com

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Review: The Amazing Spider-Man 2 (2014)

Plot Synopsis: Peter Parker struggles with keeping his promise to the late Police Captain George Stacy to stay away from his daughter, Gwen Stacy, so she can stay out of danger. Peter also deals with the truth behind his parent’s disappearance as a child as well as a new threat in the villains Rhino, Electro and the Green Goblin.

Review:

Reading the plot synopsis above doesn’t quite capture everything going on in the film. I didn’t mention Peter also reunites with his old friend Harry Osborn, who is slowly dying from a mysterious disease and needs Spider-Man’s blood. As well as everything going on in the mysterious corporation Oscorp, and Peter’s Aunt May (Sally Field) and Peter graduating from High School and going to college. As you can see this film is very busy. So much is crammed in that it is hard to grasp everything that is going on. The producers are clearly trying to develop a cinematic universe much like The Avengers which balances sequels and numerous characters with great ease. I find this unfortunately detracts from the film and instead of focusing on a few interesting characters (which this film has many) the film gets lost in its juggling act.

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This is unfortunate because Peter Parker/Spider-Man is such a compelling character. Growing up as a fan of comic books I found the story of Peter Parker balancing his personal life with his superpowers among the best of the genre. In 2002 Sam Raimi directed an excellent adaptation of the comic book which balanced the heart and soul of the characters with the action and spectacle of a blockbuster film franchise. Raimi continued this streak with 2004’s Spider-Man 2 and ultimately failed in 2007 with Spider-Man 3. Unfortunately in Spider-Man 3 even Raimi couldn’t juggle the multitude of characters, back stories and villains and tie them up into an interesting film. Spider-Man 3 was the last film in Raimi’s trilogy. In 2012 Sony and Columbia Pictures decided to reboot the franchise with a new director, actors and crew, titled The Amazing Spider-Man. The film went back to basics with Peter Parker discovering his powers, falling in love with Gwen Stacey and fighting one villain. It was a tightly focused, smaller superhero film which I thought worked because of its simplicity, great actors and a darker more realistic vision from director Marc Webb. However just as Sam Raimi before him, he too must now work out how to balance franchise needs, multiple character arcs, giant action sequences and keep fans eager for a sequel. The Amazing Spider-Man 2 works better than Spider-Man 3 however while balancing it all we lose some of the heart and soul which made the first two films so great.

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On the positive side Andrew Garfield and Emma Stone both excel in their interpretations of Peter Parker and Gwen Stacy. Their chemistry is real and believable. You feel for these characters and are engaged in their every step. They engage us with their romance and break our hearts with their actions. They are truly the films strongest asset. Also Marc Webb creates multiple action set pieces which defy the laws of gravity and show us things we’ve never seen before in a superhero film. The introduction of Spider-Man taking on some thugs in a busy New York City throws us right back into the wonderful world of Spider-Man. The ending (especially in Imax 3D) is also breathtaking in its vision and scope.

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Where the film suffers is in its multiple storylines and characters. Dane DeHann and Jamie Foxx don’t get enough to flesh out their respective villains. Also Paul Giamatti and Sally Field can’t do much with their limited screen time.

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The score from Hans Zimmer and Pharrell Williams is interesting in combining orchestral music with dub-step. It really does work in amping up the action and tension.

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As a popcorn blockbuster the two main leads and great set pieces keep this film working. However the multiple storylines let the film down and it can’t reach the heights of the first two Raimi Spider-Man films.

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Rating: 2 Stars

Cast & Crew

  • Director: Marc Webb
  • Starring: Andrew Garfield, Emma Stone, Jamie Foxx, Dane DeHann, Sally Field, Paul Giamatti
  • Screenplay: Alex Kurtzman, Roberto Orci and Jeff Pinkner
  • Producer: Avi Arad & Matt Tolmach
  • Music: Hans Zimmer & Pharrell Williams
  • Cinematography: Daniel Mindel
  • Editor: Pietro Scalia & Elliot Graham
  • Studio: Columbia Pictures and Marvel Entertainment

Review: Captain America: The Winter Soldier (2014)

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Slough of Despond 3: Advanced Blogging

In order to write a review for the film Captain America: The Winter Soldier, I got information about the film, behind the scenes information, release dates and trailers via my RSS feed from my account on theoldreader.com

Captain America: The Winter Soldier (2014)

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Plot synopsis: After being frozen for over 50 years, Captain America struggles with his new life in modern day America. While working for the secret agency S.H.I.E.L.D under Nick Fury, his growing concerns of corruption come to a fold when an old threat returns.

Review:

The seventh film from the Marvel Studios is surprisingly one of their best. In 2014 the Marvel brand is as strong as ever. This year we will see four blockbusters based on Marvel properties, Captain America: The Winter Soldier, The Amazing Spiderman 2 and X-Men: Days of Future Past and Guardians of the Galaxy. However only Guardians of the Galaxy and Captain America: The Winter Soldier are produced in the Marvel Studios and follow the timeline of other Marvel Studios properties such as Iron Man, The Incredible Hulk, Thor and The Avengers. Following these films adds extra weight as we have gotten to know these characters, and minor characters, over seven films now. After playing Captain America for the third time, Chris Evans appears comfortable in the role and takes the character to places he hasn’t been before. Supporting characters such as Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson), Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson), Bucky Barnes (Sebastion Stan), Peggy Carter (Hayley Atwell), and Agent Maria Hill (Cobie Smulders) are fleshed out and given higher stakes to play with. New supporting characters including Sam Wilson aka The Falcon (Anthony Mackie) and Kate/Sharon Carter aka Agent 13 (Emily VanCamp) also bring gravitas to the film. This all adds to the films overall tension and development. The writing also helps these characters shine with their witty banter to each other keeping things light in the right moments.

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The film is different to other superhero properties as it plays with the genre conventions of the paranoid spy thrillers of the 70s, while also staying faithful to the genre conventions of the modern action superhero film. The film is a rush from beginning to end. With breathtaking action sequences including hand-to-hand combat, car chases and city street shoot-outs, every scene keeps you engaged and hungry for more.

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The direction of brothers Anthony and Joe Russo is superb showing an eye for incredible action set pieces as well as tender moments between characters coming to terms with the films twists and turns. The score by Henry Jackman also helps to amplify the tension, especially in the action set piece on the city street where we are introduced to the winter soldier, a high frequency pitch is played which jars the audience and gives the soldier an extra edge. Cinematography from Trent Opaloch is also top notch. This film is an excellent addition to the Marvel franchise and superhero films in general.

This is the 2014 action film to beat, with three more Marvel films on the way this will be hard to top.

Rating: 4 Stars

Cast & Crew

  • Director: Anthony & Joe Russo
  • Starring: Chris Evans, Scarlett Johansson, Samuel L. Jackson
  • Screenplay: Christopher Markus & Stephen McFeely
  • Producer: Kevin Feige
  • Music: Henry Jackman
  • Cinematography: Trent Opaloch
  • Editor: Jeffrey Ford
  • Studio: Marvel Studios