The Walking Dead
By Jessica Dwyer
( Also posted on TH Terrortime )
There are spoilers here…
“Head’s Up” was the answer to many fans questions as well as the truth of the trolling job that The Walking Dead did to the fan community. I’m curious to see the reaction to this one.
So obviously Glenn isn’t dead and all the misinformation and no real comment given by the series creators was to cover this fact. Glenn’s non-death is something I’ve been saying all along because it felt cheap for such a main character to go out like that. Especially considering the epic way Glenn goes out in the comics.
The episode starts with this bit of information immediately and as many fans figured would be the case, Glenn is helped by Enid (rather reluctantly.) The two go on the world’s most depressing road trip back to Alexandria, snagging some balloons in the process.
Within Alexandria we see the struggle between Morgan’s desire to not kill and the ideal that Rick and most of his crew have of being able to kill being a central part of life in the this new world. Morgan sits with Michonne and Rick and talks about this and admits even he doesn’t know if he’s going to be able to stick by this rule. It’s obvious this is going to come into play…probably sooner than later. Morgan is going to have to make a choice.
Meanwhile Rosita is giving combat lessons to some members of Alexandria as well as Eugene who is as about as comfortable with a machete as you can imagine. Rosita doesn’t hold back her thoughts on his weakness being something that could put everyone at risk and he walks away, eventually returning to train later on.
Does anyone else wonder how Rosita is going to react to Abraham’s newfound interest in Sasha? I mean…they are still an item right? Just throwing that out there…
Spencer decides to do something stupid! SURPRISE! The mayor’s only remaining son decides to Batman climb over the walker horde and is saved from nearly falling to a munchy end by Rick and Tara. His plan was actually for the benefit of everyone but it would never have worked because…he’s Spencer.
While this is all happening the wall is everyone’s focus. Getting it more support etc. because there’s a LOT of walkers surrounding them. But no one notices the big tall tower that’s cracking and losing wooden beams right and left that was hit by a semi. How is that possible? How do you not think…hmmm…that big crack in the side of that thing looks mighty dangerous.
Morgan still hasn’t announced his “guest” that has been stashed in the locked room of a house. He goes to find Denise and confides in the doctor/psychologist that he needs her help to treat the man. Morgan’s been on Carol’s radar for a while…and her spidey sense starts tingling as she’s taking care of Judith and sees Morgan heading off with Denise and some medical supplies.
Carol goes to Jessie’s to drop off Judith so she can investigate. While there she has a discussion with Jessie’s younger son Sam, the one who like her cookies. And it may be another of those “this conversation is foreshadowing some bad things” moments because as she leaves she tells him that killing is what keeps people from becoming monsters. Hmmm…Carol’s mothering instincts have taken a definite turn to the dark side of the force. This wonderful conversation takes place while holding baby Judith too…so really nice. Our last shot of both Morgan and Carol is her asking him “Who the hell do you have in that cell.”
Oh…I forgot to mention Sam’s brother Ron stole a gun (after being shown how to shoot by Rick) and looks ready to blow Carl away. Those who have read the comic know Carl’s not got the best of luck with guns.
Throughout the episode we’ve seen Deanna showing positivity and a hope for the future. As we all know this never bodes well for anyone on this show. Deanna shares her plans for Alexandria with Michonne and Rick, making a point to Rick that he saved her son because Rick’s a good man etc. while Rick is working on the wall.
All the while that big ol leaning tower of death is just creaking and a moaning. Of course they might not hear the creaking and moaning over all the moaning the walkers are doing.
Glenn and Enid show up and we get our first really good look at how screwed Alexandria really is from their perspective. There are a lot of walkers. Enid immediately decides everyone is dead and screwed (which yes…screwed is the right word) but Glenn tells her that no, the walls are still up and the people inside could still be safe.
They release the balloons that Enid has had tied to her backpack which are seen by everyone within the walls, including Maggie who starts running and grinning to Rick that IT’S GLENN!!!!
Wow! Everything is going so awesome! What could possibly…Oh.
Snap and crack and timber, the tower falls over crushing down a section of the wall in slow motion and leaving a big gaping hole for the walkers to funnel through. And that’s how the episode ends, leaving a nice cliffhanger for the mid-season finale to tie up.
“Head’s Up” is like a visual representation of the Glenn trolling that AMC did. The whole episode is set up to make you think that Glenn’s the one in danger as he makes his way back to the town, but in reality the town itself is in WAY more danger and Glenn’s in the best place…outside (Enid’s not wanting to go back was smart.)
It’s an interesting episode because the obvious threat of that building was missed by everyone else who was focused on the wall itself. You never know where the true threat or true weakness is until it’s too late. Like Carl with Ron…Carl’s so focused on being the “big man” in front of Ron that he doesn’t realize Ron’s a threat.
Carol’s comment to Jessie rings true because she’s the most observant in the episode. She likes being up on watch because you can see everything…well except for the big cracking building with the semi sticking out of it.
Next week is the mid-season finale. The title is “Start to Finish” and I’m curious as to just how many people are going to make it out of Alexandria alive. But I’m pretty sure we can assume Glenn’s safe…for the time being. Because Negan’s been cast…and we know how that goes for him.
On the outskirts of Hillsboro Oregon, there stands a madhouse.
Which is to say there exists a studio filled to bursting with mad scientists, engineers of the improbable, and imaginations churning out ideas on the regular that the rest of us could hardly conceive of. It’s called Laika, and it is a wonderland.
It’s no secret that the world of animation has been all but dominated by Digital Imaging, and while the effort and skill that particular art form requires is nothing to sneeze at, Laika stands at the forefront of Stop-Motion animation. Since their establishment in 2005, the studio has put out three feature length films, each more exquisite and extravagant than the last.
As an Oregeonian and lifelong lover of all things animated, I root for Laika with all the pent up enthusiasm one is supposed to reserve for local sports teams. So when I was told that Georgina Hayns, the Creative Supervisor for Laika, was coming into town for a special Halloween screening of Paranorman (my personal favorite of the Laika productions) I was chomping at the bit to pick her brain.
J: Well first off, what is your official title at Laika and what does it entail?
G: I am the Creative Supervisor of Puppet Fabrication, and that entails working with a group of 65 to 70 artists and craftspeople, and working with the director, the production designer, and the Head of Animation to make all of the puppets for each of the films that we make here at Laika and make sure they are able to achieve all of the actions and gestures that the animation requires of them. It goes from initial concept art, that’s what we’re handed and that’s the point that I step into a show, and I work with the sculptors to sculpt the machets, then the puppeteering team and the sculptors to break those sculptures down from a machet to a working shape that we can build into a puppet. And then work putting a skeleton in it, which we call ‘armature’, and going through all the different steps until we have a final puppet. And it’s my job to make sure that it’s keeping on style and that the colors and everything are in keeping with the look of the movie. But mainly that the performance is there to get everything that they need.
J: So you are very, very busy is what I’m hearing.
G: Yes! I’m very busy with a team of amazing artists who are as busy if not busier than me.
J: What sort of educational background or training does it take to become a Creative Supervisor?
G: You know, I was never very academic, I wasn’t a writer, I wasn’t a mathematician. The back of my math and English books were far more interesting because they were covered with doodles or drawings. I knew I wanted to do something either using my drawing skills or my craft skills. And my biggest challenge was that I liked sculpting, I liked drawing, I liked making clothes, and I was finding it very difficult to focus on how I was going to turn this into a career. And it was really through my hobbies that I ended up finding out about puppet making and Stop-Motion. My hobby at the time that I was leaving school was collecting old dolls and restoring them, and then I started to make my own dolls. And my art lecturers were actually a little horrified that I was going to go into doll making! So it was sort of a sidestep to get around my 1960’s fine art lecturers, that I came up with this idea that puppets were a much more artistic form of doll making, and that’s where it all really started. Then I started to look into different kinds of puppet making. At the time I didn’t know what puppet making for Stop-Motion was, I didn’t know it existed, but as the world opened up to me I realized that most of the kid’s T.V. that I had grown up with and loved was actually Stop-Motion animation with handmade puppets. So I ended up doing what I had loved as a child and what had obviously informed me and influenced me.
J: I really just love hearing about dreams coming true and that they actually can be turned into a career.
G: Well that’s the other thing! I have my parents to thank as well because a lot of my friends at the time were also artistic but their parents were terrified of letting them go into the arts. But my parents, they were just like ‘Yep! You go for it George. We’ve got trust in you.’ They actually ended up with two daughters who are both successful in the arts. So I think it has a lot to do with your raw talent and knowing what you want to do, and then your family accepting it and letting you run with it.
J: I’ve always believed that the media we consume when we’re young significantly influences the people that we become, and that’s why I’ve always been fascinated by it. And especially the movies that come out of Laika don’t pander, they don’t talk down to kids. They trust them with huge concepts. Do you have any thoughts on children’s media right now and the best way to speak to kids about these lifelong concepts that we learn as we get older?
G: Yeah, I mean, I think that is definitely a great thing about Laika that we do present challenging storylines and educational storylines to children. I remember being scared out of my wits when I was a kid at Doctor Who and hiding before the sofa when the Daleks came in! But actually, things that like set you up for the real world, because you are going to get scared when you’re an adult. All of this coveting of kids and keeping everything serious behind closed doors, I don’t think it’s a good idea. Children for centuries loved the stories of Grimm’s Fairytales and in their time they hit on relevant, political, and life and death matters. So I think it’s important that we introduce children to subjects that everybody has to deal with day to day, but remembering that they’re children, so not laying it all out in blood and guts. But I think what Laika does is they do tell stories that have an underscore of a different meaning, and I think children are intelligent enough to take from that and learn from that. But at the end of the day they’re rip-roaring fun adventures as well. So yeah, I think it’s important to deal with some of those real world issues that we deal with every day, but not throw it in the kids’ faces.
J: As a massive fan of the studio, what is the creative environment like at Laika?
G: It’s great! We’re very lucky that we’ve got Travis Knight as our C.E.O., he’s an inspiration. He was born with this amazing artistic talent to be able to move puppets in Stop-Motion animation, and he’s probably one of the best stop-motion animators in the world. And he’s actually got his directorial debut on the latest film that we’re making ‘Kubo and the Two Strings’. So it’s been really exciting to work alongside him because he’s such a creative force. And all the people around me are amazing creators, and we’re not creators in a strict fine arts sense. I think we’re all crafts people. We are artists but I think a lot of us are highly skilled craftspeople. It’s definitely a rare opportunity for a group of like-minded people with those skills to come together and be allowed to make things and problem solve at the highest level, and then see them out there on the big screen! At times we forget how lucky we are, because you go day in and day out for nine years sometimes you’re like ‘oh really? Again?’ But when you go and see one of our films it reminds you ‘that’s what it’s all about! We all came together to work on that!’ And so many amazing craftspeople were involved.
J: Out of the three feature films that have come out of Laika, which one was the most demanding for puppet fabrication?
G: You know, I’m asked that question, and all of them for different reasons have been demanding. ‘Coraline’ was demanding because we were setting up the studio, so not only were we trying to make puppets we were trying to set up a system and a process. ‘Paranorman’ I would say actually, looking back was sort of the halcyon days. It was our second feature, we already had a process in place, we had the team who had already worked on ‘Coraline’ and knew how to work together and we were still a young flourishing company. So I feel like there were a lot of creative challenges but we just took every one as it came. And when ‘Boxtrolls’ came along it was a bigger project so we had more puppets to make in a similar timespan. So it was more about ‘can we get this done in time?’ Rather than big challenges, though we did have some big challenges. We had ballroom scenes with women dancing in big hoop skirts, and we had these boxtrolls that we got to overcome with these tiny little creatures living in boxes with retractable limbs. But that’s the fun of puppet making! And it’s interesting because right now we’ve just come to the last build on ‘Kubo and the Two Strings’ which is going to be released next year, and this one was incredibly challenging! Just with the costumes and some challenges that we’ve just never had before. I can’t let too much out of the bag! But each movie that we’ve worked on has had its’ own challenges.
J: Definitely. I just wanted to talk for a second about Agatha Prenderghast from ‘Paranorman’ just because she is one of my all-time favorite characters, not just to come out of Laika, but out of movies in general. I adore her! And I think part of the reason for that is the moment when she is that electrical storm who is barely holding herself together and then just turns back into her normal human self. And honestly, I just want to say kudos. Well done! I can’t even imagine what the creative process was for making that happen.
G: It was quite astounding! It brought together all the departments. We were all involved, the then the 2D animation department added on top of that, and then of course the whole concept was Production Design. So it was a really cool character to be a part of. And it was interesting because some of the mistakes and haphazard routes that we’d gone down in past films and early on in development of ‘Paranorman’ lead to that self-illuminated body and face that she was made out of in the electrical storm. So it was quite an interesting technique that we used to build her.
J: Oh my goodness, I just remember seeing that for the first time, and seeing her face morphing and changing!
G: I’m sure that you know we use Rapid Prototyping for the faces on all of our movies. And the way in which that came about was that they had a mistake print that had gotten so thin in places that when you shown the light from behind you could see the light shining through. But it made them realize you could use that, a little bit like a night light holder where the ceramic has been layered in a way that you got a three dimensional city. That was a similar idea that we used for Aggie’s faces. So actually when they were printed, they were printed with different layers of material, so when it was illuminated from behind you got those crazy shadows! And then of course the distortion of the faces being squashed and stretched, that was all worked out beforehand in drawn animation, and then modeled and animated in the computer and then printed out. We also in the puppet department built a tiny little skeletal body which was the core of everything, and that was shot and filmed in stop-motion without any C.G. and then the heads were replaced onto it, and then all of the effects with her dress and her hair were all made on top of that.
J: I was watching ‘Boxtrolls’ a few nights ago and I remember there’s a scene where you close up on Eggs’ hands and you can see the individual dirt particles under his fingernails!
G: Oh yeah, all hand painted! All intentional!
J: The work that you all do is incredible. Just rest assured it doesn’t go unnoticed.
G: That’s great. And you know, I think that is the joy of stop-motion. You really do see what we make on the screen, and that’s the magic. I think that’s why kids and adults alike love going to see stop-motion movies because it’s a bit like watching a movie through a view master. It’s real, three dimensional images, and these fantastical creatures that you feel really exist because they do exist.
J: Well last thing for you, do you have any advice for aspiring animators or fabricators, especially people who have been really inspired by Laika and what it’s doing right now?
G: Well I think if somebody wants to go into the fabrication side of things then they should just concentrate on making small scale beautiful things. You know it’s all about detail on the small scale with some kind of artistry and design behind it. And if somebody wants to get into animation then start animating their bendy dolls, start animating anything that they have! You have these action figures that are really quite sophisticated and jointed these days. We start to see kids coming through college, who started in their bedrooms on an iPhone on a tabletop, and they started with action figures, and now they’re phenomenal character animators. I think with every discipline we have here at Laika it starts with a love of art or movement or movies, and it’s just practice and believing in yourself, and knowing that you can make a career for yourself in this crazy world!
This looks like a combination of Dark Crystal meets The Iron Giant. And Liam Neeson can read or speak anything and it sounds amazing. But this is based off a great modern classic of a book. So I’m in.
“A visually spectacular drama from acclaimed director Juan Antonio Bayona (“The Impossible”), based on the award-winning children’s fantasy novel. 12-year-old Conor (Lewis MacDougall) attempts to deal with his mother’s (Felicity Jones) illness and the bullying of his classmates by escaping into a fantastical world of monsters and fairy tales that explore courage, loss, and faith.”
Director: Juan Antonio Bayona (“The Impossible,” “The Orphanage”)
A Monster Calls hits theaters next year.
In the last few days we’ve seen two trailer released for new entries into the fantasy film genre. Both of them are studies in excess and digital effects. I’m talking about Gods of Egypt and The Huntsman: Winters War.
One of these movies I didn’t even know was happening. The other is a sequel to a film that has done away with the original movies main character altogether and brought the films villain and sidekick front and center.
Gods of Egypt, as far as I know, doesn’t have a single actual actor of Egyptian descent in its main cast of characters. That’s already ruffling a few feathers. The sheer crazy scope of the trailer in terms of digital effects not seen since Attack of the Clones is the other thing people are talking about.
The Huntsman: Winters War sees a mix of Frozen gone bad and the characters that people actually ENJOYED from Snow White and the Huntsman. Namely The Evil Queen, The Huntsman, and the dwarfs. Heimsworth seems to be channeling Thor with an ax instead of a hammer (which is fine because he does it well.) But the need to insert Frozen (since we discover the Evil Queens sister is in face The Ice Queen) is getting very, very old.
I will say this however. Even with all the extreme effects use etc, at least these aren’t more entries into the “teen protagonist discovers they are the hope for the world against an evil dystopian government” category.
No you didn’t imagine it: 13 13th Ave
By Jessica Dwyer
As a sort of sister series to my “Gone but not forgotten” articles, I’ve decided to do a new series called “No you didn’t imagine it.” It will be a sort of catch all for random and strange series, videos, and movies that you may have caught a glimpse of or things you saw once and think you might have only imagined it in your mind. This should be fun because my brain manages to hold on to information like this forever it seems…but I couldn’t tell you what I had for lunch yesterday.
I was eight years old when I caught a one-time special showing on CBS of a pilot which was filmed but never produced for a full season. That show was “13 13th Ave” and I weep for what might have been some epic slapsticky monster greatness.
The pilot was about an apartment building at number 13 13th AVE where a psychologist, Dr. Carey (Clive Revill) lived and treated a few of the more “special” residence in the building. A divorced dad, Jack (AC Weary) and his son Willie (Wil Wheaton with bowl cut hair and being hyperactive and adorable) move in and realize the patients are in actuality monsters.
Melinda (played by Mr. Belvedere’s Ilene Graff) is a blonde witch. Marv (possibly a nod to Marv Wolfman and played by Robert Harper) is in fact a werewolf. Roland (Paul Kreppel) is a vampire. And Vlastock (Ernie Sabella) is a troll.
The pilot dealt with Marv possibly having bitten someone and dealing with guilt and Jack and Willie dealing with what they’ve discovered about their neighbors. It was fun and goofy and I would have loved to have seen this go to a full series for at least a season. Sadly you can’t find this anywhere except for a few brief moments pieced together from what I believe was the commercial for the one time airing.
Some interesting facts about “13 13th Ave”:
- The writer, Leonard Ripps, went on to write the screenplay for Tim Burton’s Frankenweenie, both the short and the feature film.
- Clive Revill played the determined physicist who didn’t believe in spirits in the classic film Legend of Hell House
- Werewolf Robert Harper will be recognizable to fans of Creepshow as one of the victims of the monster in The Crate
- Troll Ernie Sabella is the voice of Pumbaa in the Lion King and, funnily enough, Charlie Brewster’s psychologist in Fright Night 2.
Here’s the only bit of footage I’ve ever been able to find.
This awesome video shows us all the Doctor’s and their TARDIS interiors from the new Lego Dimensions Doctor Who add on pack. It’s awesomely neat and also…there’s apparently a LEGO version of Missy in this game. And yes, the theme music changes for each one. My god I love this…