Sunday, July 01, 2007

Painful Dragonlance Update

Haven’t said much about this movie lately. There hasn’t been much to say, honestly. And now, what I have to say is disheartening.

There are four new pics up. These are labeled as “production shots”. I’m not entirely certain what that means, but there appears to be some confusion. Ms. Weis is quoted as saying the stills are over a year old. But it seems odd that they’re releasing year-old pics, and as I understand it, production shots are supposed to be from the actual, working production of the film, as close to final as you can get. So there may be some hope here that these are, for reasons I can’t even begin to guess, very incomplete and not very representative of what the final film will look like.

God, I hope so!

Let’s start with the pic of draconians on the march. Not bad, nice and atmospheric. But look closely. Notice that the two scuffed-up shields that we get a good look at are identical in every detail. That seems to hold true for every detail of the draconians in this picture. If you just see a flash of it, a few mere seconds, I suppose that will fly, but it is worrisome.

Even more worrisome, this is the best picture of the new quartet. Much has already been made of the fact that all of Takhisis heads are breathing flame in the still labeled “Takhisis vs. Paladine”. The juxtaposition of 2d and 3d elements is annoying, but not a deal-breaker for me. I’m afraid lots of that sort of thing handled with varying degrees of success in anime has already inured me to it. But take a look at Takhisis. Look at the shape of her chest and belly, or how her right arm attaches to her body, and the angle it’s being held at. She looks misshapen, like she was put together by someone who has a poor grasp of anatomy. She almost, kinda-sort, looks like an alligator. Sorta. But that is one ugly looking dragon.

Look at the close-up of Pyros. This is supposed to be a villain? Does he look sinister or comical to you? Notice the lack of texture, the lack of bump-mapping, the lack of shadow. Also notice the lack of teeth. I guess he lost his dentures somewhere?

Finally, and most horribly, we have Pyros in flight. Again, notice the arms. It appears the artist started with a snake and then tacked very human arms onto the sides, without consideration for or inclusion of such details as shoulders. Look how the limbs are splayed all akimbo, feet and arms going every which way, making the dragon look about as aerodynamic as a brick. This awkward pose is only exacerbated by the duck-like feet, hanging straight down rather than tucked up close to the body. Also notice that Pyros has apparently found his dentures, and now has fanglike canines. These are very ugly dragons that wouldn’t pass muster in your average MMOG, forget a movie.

There is a ray of sunshine in all of this. Karl Preusser’s Q&A has some very heartening things to say. In addition to a live orchestra, female choir, and female vocalists, he’s also drawing on the talents of a medieval instrument ensemble. He talks about building themes around characters as well, themes that take into account action from later books. If nothing else, we might get another cool and inspirational soundtrack to play at the gaming table.

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