Mike's Bookshelf

Currently showing posts tagged Fantasy

  • The Art of Ready Player One by Gina McIntyre Book Review

    The Art of Ready Player One by Gina McIntyre

    Reviewed by Mike Kenny

    In arguably Director Steven Spielberg’s most visually dazzling and technologically challenging film to date, Ready Player One invites viewers to a cautionary tale where reality and the limitless possibilities of its virtual counterpart blur beyond belief.  Embracing a pop culture obsessed way  of life, Ernest Cline’s fanboy-loving novel of which the film is based on could only be realized on the big-screen by one of its crowning inspirers.  Without the requirement of VR goggles, Gina McIntyre’s The Art of Ready Player One sends readers on an in-depth journey through the film’s distinctly unique realization with insight from the many makers and creative heads who helped bring this once-thought unfilmable premise into our world.  Set in Columbus, Ohio of 2045, Spielberg’s 3D feature follows Wade Watts’ (Tye Sheridan, X-Men: Apocalypse) struggles, along with his trusted core friends of competitors, to win the late James Halliday’s contest, granting the victor control of the virtual realm known as the Oasis and the latter’s lucrative company.  While Wade expresses himself differently in the Oasis as the avatar known as Parzival, his real-world life is anything less than stellar.  Residing in the poverty-stricken Stacks, McIntyre’s book showcases the production’s challenges in realizing the RV stacked mobile homes and their eventual explosive destruction.  

    Furthermore, the behind-the-scenes account showcases the film’s juxtaposition between its traditional set-built locations and the digital realm of the Oasis where the actors spent months on end performing on motion-capture stages in order for the digital wizards at Industrial Light and Magic to bring their avatars to life.  Showcasing gorgeous pieces of concept art for the wide army of creatures seen in the film, otherworldly locations such as Planet Doom, the variety of familiar vehicles utilized and the futuristic costume designs donning our characters, The Art of Ready Player One is eye-candy galore.  Taking a particularly hefty and appreciated look into the characters’ exploration of Stanley Kubrick’s The Shining and the film’s equally intense and action-packed racing sequence, McIntyre’s leap into Spielberg’s latest blockbuster easily stands as one of the best art-of books of the year for a film that will leave viewers scratching their heads and pondering “how did they do that?”.

    Available April 17th from Insight Editions, The Art of Ready Player One can be purchased via Amazon.com, BarnesandNoble.com and other fine retailers. 

  • Guillermo del Toro: At Home with Monsters - Inside His Films, Notebooks, and Collections by Britt Salvesen and Jim Shedden with Paul Koudounaris, Keith McDonald and Roger Clark Book Review

    Guillermo del Toro: At Home with Monsters - Inside His Films, Notebooks, and Collections by Britt Salvesen and Jim Shedden with Paul Koudounaris, Keith McDonald and Roger Clark

    Reviewed by Mike Kenny

    Serving as a glorified companion piece to the exciting exhibits debuting at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, the Art Gallery of Ontario and the Minneapolis Museum of Art centered on the work and influences of Guillermo del Toro, Guillermo del Toro: At Home with Monsters - Inside His Films, Notebooks, and Collections delves into the fantastical passions of del Toro, guiding readers through his massive Bleak House that holds his vast collection of artifacts, art pieces, books, pop culture collectibles and movie props.  Littered with several essays and an exclusive interview with the visionary director on his moviemaking techniques, influences and obsessive collecting habits, the scholarly compositions cover a multitude of subjects including, the perception of monsters throughout history as well as the evolution of freak shows and fictional, misunderstood characters in latter-day centuries.  Akin to its exhibits, the text is broken into several sections ranging from innocence and childhood to magic, alchemy, and the occult, where select passages from del Toro’s personal notebooks are included alongside personally selected pieces of art that speak directly to the artist’s unique, wide-ranging sensibilities.

    Presenting gorgeous photographs inside Bleak House that showcase del Toro’s many different, genre associated libraries, the jaw-droppingly gorgeous and gigantic reproduction of the Frankenstein monster’s head that towers over the house’s hall entrance and his life-size sculptures of noted authors H.P. Lovecraft and Edgar Allan Poe, the visual layout of this entryway into del Toro’s mad imagination is second to none.  Serving as an invaluable introduction to countless other artists and works that have shaped del Toro’s creativity, the imagery filled volume concludes with an appreciative reference guide of literature, visual art and cinema that surges through the writer/director’s works.  A true treasure trove of unique sights and overwhelming inspiration, Guillermo del Toro: At Home with Monsters - Inside His Films, Notebooks, and Collections is a thematic necessity for appreciators of one of cinema’s most unique souls.

    Available now from Insight Editions, Guillermo del Toro: At Home with Monsters - Inside His Films, Notebooks and Collections can be purchased via Amazon.com, BarnesandNoble.com and other fine retailers.

  • The Art of Krampus by Michael Mallory Book Review

    The Art of Krampus by Michael Mallory

    Reviewed by Mike Kenny

    Inspired by the genre blending fantasies of Amblin Entertainment, Michael Mallory’s The Art of Krampus sends readers down the developmental chimney of this year’s hilariously terrifying Christmas-themed opus.  From the macabre imagination of Michael Dougherty (Trick ‘r Treat), Krampus centers on a midwestern family overwhelmed with the holiday season and the arrival of their tedious visiting family members.  When young Max (Emjay Anthony, Chef) loses his faith in the Christmas spirit, the shadowy demon Krampus, joined by his evil minions, crashes his household to unleash their own frightening season’s greetings.  Adam Scott (Parks and Recreation), Toni Collette (Little Miss Sunshine), David Koechner (Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy), Allison Tolman (Fargo) and Conchata Ferrell (Edward Scissorhands) comprise the ensemble cast.  

    An admitted throwback to the 80s efforts Dougherty was raised on, The Art of Krampus explores the early mythological origins of its titular character to the popular modern greeting cards bearing his likeness that sparked the film’s inspiration.  Successfully bringing his love for the Halloween season to fruition, Dougherty and his team vowed to conjure the dark fairy tale aspects of Christmas for a unique experience.  Unlike most live-action films, extensive pre-visualization and storyboards were conducted to firmly establish the film’s tone ahead of filming.  Beautiful concept paintings, character sketches and detailed costume depictions are showcased alongside insight into the film’s uses of puppetry, CG animation and practical makeup effects accomplished by New Zealand’s Weta Workshop (The Lord of the Rings trilogy, King Kong).  With a foreword by Dougherty, The Art of Krampus is the perfect combination of textual substance and behind-the-scenes visual exploration, leaving fans (naughty and nice alike) with an exceptional post-holiday treat into the film’s making.

    Available now from Insight Editions, The Art of Krampus can be purchased via InsightEditions.com, BarnesandNoble.com, Amazon.com and other fine retailers.