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Robert Harris

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Gareth Edwards' The Creator is an odd film, and something of which I was rather unaware until the new 4k disc showed up.

I figured that I'd check it out, based primarily upon - the slipcover - more on that later. And ended up spending over two hours with it. Partially enthralled by the effects and equally trying to figure out the plot/message/characters.

There are obvious tendrils here, harkening back to Apocalypse (especially one shot), Blade Runner, ET, and probably a few other films. You'll note them all.

Shot digitally, apparently with Sony Alpha camera and a DJI drone (or drones), and completed in 4k, it's a gorgeous 4k UHD disc, with a huge track aided by Dolby Atmos. It's seems to not be your grandfather's Panavision or Arri project. Greig Fraser, one of the DPs, worked on Rogue One, Zero Dark Thirty and Dune, gives us the connection to Mr. Edwards.

Shot in 2022, The Creator seems to be at least a partial impetus toward the SAG strike of 2023.

Judging from what I'm seeing in the film, at least half the cast - much of the film was shot in Bangkok, Thailand, Cambodia and Nepal - are automatons of some sort, all controlled by AI.

You can tell because the real actors have back to their heads as opposed to digi-mechnical aparatii.

From what I'm able to figure out from the plot, the film takes place in the reasonably near future, after a group of rogue AIs nuke Los Angeles.

This makes some folks uncomfortable. They burn their Megans and join forces around the world to defeat the AIs. One enclave in the Far East is protecting them, and a top military killer, another typecast role for Allison Janney - is sent in to take care of things. But Joshua, who was in love with and may have had a child with an AI, takes on the job in order to find his wife.

The leader of the AIs seems to be a sweet young girl AI - think ET, who may be Joshua's daughter.

Some of you may be able to sense my confusion, even though the concept and storyline is still head and shoulders above The Big Sleep.

Special effects are gorgeous, and are helped by appropriate sound effects - this is not a silent - and the entire project works, even if I may not fully understand it.

But here's the important part.

The "slip," aka slipcover.

When I originally unboxed this disc. The video is too large to post. I was stunned by its design. And for slipcovers collectors, this one is a must own in all its First Edition beauty. I'm betting that later pressing will eliminate this because of cost.

It should win the 2023 4k slipcover award.

The basic artwork is all in matte finish, with the bad-girl leader at the center, surrounded by the character of less importance.

Colors are soft and delicate, with a light blue (sky) background, showing one of the air attack vehicles at the left.

The entire cover is printed over reflective silver - once again probably that of the source of the Kane fortune - but here's the kicker, and what makes this cover so special.

The AI humanoids have a hold going through their heads, where an ear might be. I presume this is for cooling all the chips inside. Bad things happen if AI humanoids overheat.

And what's going on is that in this single area, the full silver is allowed to show through with nothing printed atop.

And it's stunning. The effect is used to a slightly lesser effect in the surrounding areas.

Below the illustration in title logotype are the words THE CREATOR, printed over the matte material in a glossy white.

The entire aura of the design works, and even if the film were unworthy of purchase, this would make the new 4K UHD from Disney/Fox a required addition to any serious home theater collection.

One final thought...

As I watched the film, I made note of the aspect ratio, saying to myself. "This is odd. Doesn't look like 2.40."

It wasn't.

The film is presented at 2.76. Hitherto, I believe only used for Ultra-Panavision 70 and Camera 65.

Image – 10 (HDR10)

Audio – 10 (Dolby Atmos)

Pass / Fail – Pass

Plays nicely with projectors - Yes

Makes use of and works well in 4k - 9

Worth your attention - 8

Slipcover rating - 9

Recommended

RAH


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Worth

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The script is dreadful, but it's beautifully shot, with some of the most seamlessly integrated special effects I've ever seen. Anyone interested in photography or filmmaking should check it out, just don't expect much from the story.
 

Josh Steinberg

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The script is dreadful, but it's beautifully shot, with some of the most seamlessly integrated special effects I've ever seen. Anyone interested in photography or filmmaking should check it out, just don't expect much from the story.

A Gareth Edwards film, in other words? :)
 

jayembee

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A Gareth Edwards film, in other words? :)

Now, now. I'm guessing you never saw Monsters? Well...OK, the script for Monsters was improved. Literally. So one might argue that the "script" varies in quality with respect to how well the actors manage to come up with something to say in any given scene. But I actually liked that, as it felt rather natural in the way that normal people don't speak like their dialog is scripted.

One final thought...

As I watched the film, I made note of the aspect ratio, saying to myself. "This is odd. Doesn't look like 2.40."

It wasn't.

The film is presented at 2.76. Hitherto, I believe only used for Ultra-Panavision 70 and Camera 65.

Interesting. There was a recent film that was shot 2.66:1 -- Potsy Ponciroli's Old Henry (2021). But the last film that was shot 2.76:1 was The Hateful Eight in 2015. Or am I forgetting something?
 

Robert Harris

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Now, now. I'm guessing you never saw Monsters? Well...OK, the script for Monsters was improved. Literally. So one might argue that the "script" varies in quality with respect to how well the actors manage to come up with something to say in any given scene. But I actually liked that, as it felt rather natural in the way that normal people don't speak like their dialog is scripted.



Interesting. There was a recent film that was shot 2.66:1 -- Potsy Ponciroli's Old Henry (2021). But the last film that was shot 2.76:1 was The Hateful Eight in 2015. Or am I forgetting something?
Don't believe so. I'm unaware of any production outside of 65mm that ever used 2.76. 2.66 was the original CinemaScope ratio.
 

Robert Harris

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I thought that was 2.55.

I popped over to IMDb to see what Old Henry was shot with: "Arri Alexa Mini, Zeiss Master Anamorphic Lenses".
2.55 was mag on film. Double system was 2.66. Unless I’m mis-remembering. Similar to Oklahoma, which originally ran on 65mm.
 

sbjork

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Don't believe so. I'm unaware of any production outside of 65mm that ever used 2.76. 2.66 was the original CinemaScope ratio.
Sarah Polley's Women Talking (2022) was also 2.76:1. In that case, Luc Montpellier used the newer Panavision Ultra Vista prime lenses that have a 1.6 anamorphic squeeze. Different squeeze than Ultra Panavision 70 and MGM Camera 65, but the RED Monstro image sensors on the Panavision DXL2 cameras that he used are narrower than the full 65mm film frame. Same end results.

The Creator took a different approach. Greig Fraser and Oren Soffer used vintage Kowa Cine Prominar anamorphic lenses. 2.0 squeeze in that case, so they ended up with something closer to 3.0:1 and actually cropped the sides in order to get the classic 2.76:1 ratio. (The Creator was also exhibited in ScreenX, so I think that they used the full uncropped width for that.)

There have been other recent examples, too. Prairie Wind in 2018, and I think one or two others that I'm forgetting.
 
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sbjork

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And while everyone of course free to their own opinions, I humbly submit that there's far more to the stories in Edwards' films than meets the eye. It's just that it's not always the stories that people are expecting. Monsters isn't really about the monsters, and The Creator isn't really about A.I. Both films actually have far more in common thematically than is immediately obvious -- The Creator is almost a spiritual sequel to Monsters. I'll have more to say about that elsewhere.
 

Robert Harris

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Sarah Polley's Women Talking (2022) was also 2.76:1. In that case, Luc Montpellier used the newer Panavision Ultra Vista prime lenses that have a 1.6 anamorphic squeeze. Different squeeze than Ultra Panavision 70 and MGM Camera 65, but the RED Monstro image sensors on the Panavision DXL2 cameras that he used are narrower than the full 65mm film frame. Same end results.

The Creator took a different approach. Greig Fraser and Oren Soffer used vintage Kowa Cine Prominar anamorphic lenses. 2.0 squeeze in that case, so they ended up with something closer to 3.0:1 and actually cropped the sides in order to get the classic 2.76:1 ratio. (The Creator was also exhibited in ScreenX, so I think that they used the full uncropped width for that.)

There have been other recent examples, too. Prairie Wind in 2018, and I think one or two others that I'm forgetting.
Thank you for the further information. I have a copy of Women Talking, but have not yet found the time to screen. Your comments just moved it up. Digital capture enables us to use any ratio we like, captured in different ways by the optics, and further controlled via cropping.

Theaters, on the other hand, won’t be thrilled.

We’ve just booked the 1959 Ben-Hur for our theater, for (I believe) April 24th of next year. Our screen and markings allow us to properly screen the film in its original Camera 65 ratio og 2.76:1.

As an aside, the original C65 Panavision optics were incorrectly marked as 1.33:1 as opposed to 1,25:1.
 

sbjork

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Thank you for the further information. I have a copy of Women Talking, but have not yet found the time to screen. Your comments just moved it up. Digital capture enables us to use any ratio we like, captured in different ways by the optics, and further controlled via cropping.

Theaters, on the other hand, won’t be thrilled.

We’ve just booked the 1959 Ben-Hur for our theater, for (I believe) April 24th of next year. Our screen and markings allow us to properly screen the film in its original Camera 65 ratio og 2.76:1.

As an aside, the original C65 Panavision optics were incorrectly marked as 1.33:1 as opposed to 1,25:1.
The Creator and Women Talking were both shown theatrically letterboxed to 2.76:1, although there may well have been a theatre here or there that could actually mask things properly.

Women Talking is interesting, because Sarah Polley wanted the shallower depth of field and softness at the edges of the frame that the Ultra Vista lenses provided. It's a distinctive look.

In terms of the flexibility of digital capture, you may enjoy checking out WandaVision in 4K, if you ended up with a copy of that. Jess Hall used 47 different lenses, combining spherical and anamorphic as appropriate. Instead of using vintage lenses like The Creator did, he had adaptive optics added to newer ones to mimic the effect. 23 different LUTs, too, and they further manipulated the image in post. It's a great example of the inventive ways that optics, cropping, and LUTs can be used to generate wildly different effects for digital capture. The first episode mimics The Dick Van Dyke show in black-and-white 1.33:1, with a soft, low-contrast image. The next episode jumps up a decade, still black-and-white at 1.33:1, but slightly sharper and with better contrast. And so on. Every episode has a different look.
 
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Robert Harris

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The Creator and Women Talking were both shown theatrically letterboxed to 2.76:1, although there may well have been a theatre here or there that could actually mask things properly.

Women Talking is interesting, because Sarah Polley wanted the shallower depth of field and softness at the edges of the frame that the Ultra Vista lenses provided. It's an interesting look.

In terms of the flexibility of digital capture, you may enjoy checking out WandaVision in 4K, if you ended up with a copy of that. Jess Hall used 47 different lenses, combining spherical and anamorphic as appropriate. Instead of using vintage lenses like The Creator did, he had adaptive optics added to newer ones to mimic the effect. 23 different LUTs, too, and they further manipulated the image in post. It's a great example of the inventive ways that optics, cropping, and LUTs can be used to generate wildly different effects for digital capture. The first episode mimics The Dick Van Dyke show in black-and-white 1.33:1, with a soft, low-contrast image. The next episode jumps up a decade, still black-and-white at 1.33:1, but slightly sharper and with better contrast. And so on. Every episode has a different look.
I loved the way that WandaVision was handled. In my Words I believe I made note of the I Love Lucy look, which is very similar to Van Dyke. The overall photographic concept of Lucy was established by the great Karl Freund, while Robert De Grasse, who also worked on Lucy, was involved with Van Dyke.
 

sbjork

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I loved the way that WandaVision was handled. In my Words I believe I made note of the I Love Lucy look, which is very similar to Van Dyke. The overall photographic concept of Lucy was established by the great Karl Freund, while Robert De Grasse, who also worked on Lucy, was involved with Van Dyke.
I could have sworn that I saw a Few Words about that one, but when I searched the forums, I couldn't find it, so I thought I must have confused it with something else. Still can't find it, for some reason. I must suck at search engines.
 

Robert Harris

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I could have sworn that I saw a Few Words about that one, but when I searched the forums, I couldn't find it, so I thought I must have confused it with something else. Still can't find it, for some reason. I must suck at search engines.
While the search apparatus on HTF is a bit wonky, I also attempted to find my post.

I know that I wrote it, and posted, as I noted 3-camera and Lucy, but it appears to have gone AWOL.

The search bar at BD.com seems easier to use, but that may be a function of the software package.
 

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