Wednesday, 24 June 2015

GUEST POST: Atlanta & The Movies: How the South Secured Its Spot on the Silver Screen

Another guest post today, this one is from Ron Goldenberg on how Atlanta is becoming the new Hollywood for the American film industry.

Ron Goldenberg is the manager of Atlanta Lockmasters and loves sharing his love for Atlanta through blogging. Whether you need your car unlocked or a recommendation for an ATL restaurant or attraction, Ron is your man!

Read on and enjoy!

When you think of classic Hollywood cinema, most likely, images of L.A.’s Sunset Strip or NYC’s iconic skyline come to mind. However, within recent years, another up-and-coming city has been stealing the scene from these larger markets by redirecting the film industry’s focus down South. And, that city just happens to be Atlanta.

The Atlanta skyline. You may recognize this from The Walking Dead season 1 poster. All the urban/city shots in the series are filmed in Atlanta where the series takes place.

This connection between flashy Tinsel Town and the simpler Peach State -- which has a thriving arts culture but isn’t exactly a mecca for commercialized entertainment -- has left many movie fans confused. Atlanta residents, in particular, are probably wondering: “Why our city? Why Georgia, in general? Why are A-list stars, like Will Ferrell or Jennifer Lawrence, filming right here in our backyard?”   

Well, to begin with, cutting costs plays a major role in why blockbuster directors and in-demand actors are suddenly relocating their projects to ATL. In 2008, Georgia legislators passed appealing tax credits for film and television production. Hollywood wasted no time responding to this incentive and, thus, the collaboration was born. In fact, during the 2014 fiscal year alone, studio executives spent an estimated $1.4 billion shooting big-budget movies -- like The Hunger Games -- and TV programs -- like The Walking Dead -- throughout metro-Atlanta.

This arrangement is mutually stimulating for both the Peach and Golden State economies, as increased jobs are being created for Georgia workers, and California’s sky-high entertainment expenditures are finally getting a break. Multiple production companies, such as Tyler Perry Studios and Pinewood Studios, have even been built in Atlanta or surrounding locales.     

And filmmakers do enjoy working in the city. Many have stated that the commute in Atlanta is much better compared to the deadly freeways of Los Angeles.

These examples are just a sampling of the many box office smashes that have turned ATL into an epic cinematic backdrop:    

  • Dirty Grandpa, starring Zac Efron and Robert DeNiro, centers around a young soon-to-be-married man, who is manipulated into road-tripping to Florida with his laughably perverted grandfather. This movie was filmed in the Atlanta suburbs of Marietta, McDonough and Riverside, and on Tybee Island.

  • The Accountant, starring Ben Affleck, Anna Kendrick and J.K. Simmons, centers around a seemingly clean-cut accountant, who works at a prestigious financial firm by day but transforms into a nefarious assassin by night. This movie was filmed in downtown Atlanta, including the Georgia Tech campus.

  • Captain America: Civil War, starring Chris Evans, Robert Downey Jr., Scarlett Johansson, Elizabeth Olsen, Anthony Mackie, Paul Rudd and Jeremy Renner, picks up where Avengers: Age of Ultron left off and centers around a potentially catastrophic feud between superheroes, Captain America and Iron Man. This movie is currently being filmed in the metro-Atlanta area.

  • Michelle Darnell, starring Melissa McCarthy, Kristen Bell and Peter Dinklage, centers around the title character, a financial tycoon with questionable ethics, who is released from prison after serving time for an insider trading scheme and tries to subsequently rebrand herself as “America’s sweetheart.” This movie was filmed in various Atlanta neighborhoods, including Midtown and Buckhead.

  • Guardians of the Galaxy 2, starring Chris Pratt, Zoe Saldana and others to-be-announced, picks up where the highly successful Guardians of the Galaxy left off. Although Marvel has not yet disclosed any plot details, principal photography will reportedly be shot at Atlanta’s soon-to-open Pinewood Studios.

Finally, Atlanta is home to many student and indie filmmakers. Georgia State University and SCAD (Savannah School of Art & Design - Atlanta Campus) have many student filmmakers hoping to create something unique which they can present in their city. Whether this be at the High Museum of Art which presents short films regularly or the well known Atlanta Film Festival, expect to see the next Spielberg or Tarantino rise from the South’s Capital.

So, while currently many movies are being filmed in ATL are attempting to pass themselves off as taking place in NYC or other major cities, I predict that as this Southern city gains more notoriety, that we’ll be seeing more plots centered in Atlanta (like Ride Along starring Kevin Hart & Ice Cube and The Walking Dead series already have). Atlanta is truly an up & coming place for the film industry; it’s full of talent and promise, y’all.

Thanks for reading!

Ron Goldenberg


Saturday, 13 June 2015

Jurassic World

I binge watched the previous Jurassic Park films recently, and although I have enjoyed the last two films in the series, they never had the special something that made the first film so great. When watching Jurassic World, the fourth instalment of the franchise, it regained some of the magic I felt when watching the first film as a child and really did feel like a worthy Jurassic Park sequel.

Jurassic World sees the Park finally open to the public and apparently has been for some time, because apparently some people aren't that impressed by dinosaurs anymore. So now the park's scientist have come up with a new hybrid, a genetically modified dinosaur named The Indominious Rex, and because this is a Jurassic Park film, things obviously go wrong and the monster breaks out and runs rampage around the attractions. The main cast looks like this; Bryce Dallas Howard, Chris Pratt, Vincent D'Onofrio, Ty Simpkins, Nick Robinson and many other supporting players. At first I was worried at how large the cast was but they were all handled well and had enough screen time to make them seem significant to the plot, in which they all have a hand in moving along at a swift pace.

All the acting is good, I had no problems with any of the cast, even the child actors were strong and believable. The characters were slightly heightened versions of themselves, I have heard many reviews say they were cartoony, I don't believe this to be the case, in fact the familiar character archetypes were one of reasons this film felt a lot like the first to me. The director, Colin Trevorrow, really needs to be applauded for making these characters work and really making this feel like a classic Spielberg film, without ever becoming a full on pastiche of the mans work. There are still quite a few nods to the first film but it never gets in the way of the story.

The special effects are great and although it relies a lot more heavily on CGI then the previous films, it still has a few cool animatronic shots and the computer effects them self do look realistic. After the last week of Jurassic Park film watching, I have decided that there should definitely be more dinosaurs in films these days! It has been way too long a wait for Jurassic World, I didn't even realise how much I wanted to see a new Jurassic film until I saw World. With the park actually being open, it really takes me back to the awe and amazement I felt when watching the first and with it still being pretty scary it really does work some of the same magic from the first, just on a much larger scale. It's not as good as the first but it gets more right then it does wrong.

With the amazing theme tune from John Williams, Jurassic World takes you straight back to Isla Nubar and your childhood. I had an absolute blast watching this film and really didn't expect it to be as much fun as it was. The film doesn't give you everything from the get go and the payoff at the end is really, really awesome. This is easily one of my favourite films of the summer so far! I am giving Jurassic World a rating of 4/5.

What did you think of Jurassic World? Were you as big a fan as I was? Let me know in the comments below!

Thanks for reading!

Wednesday, 10 June 2015

Quick Reviews #11

Three new(ish) films and one old one. It's another round of Quick Reviews! This time I review Mad Max: Fury Road, It Follows, Chappie and Jurassic Park. Read on and enjoy!

Mad Max: Fury Road

This film rocks! It's a visceral and physical experience from start to finish, I felt like I had spent the day at a theme park after leaving the cinema! For what is essentially a two hour car chase, it sure has a lot of heart and emotion. It's not feminist propaganda, it's a film which holds its male and female characters with care and equal standing, but yes, Charlize Theron's character, Furiosa, is the best. I absolutely loved it!

It Follows

I'm not usually a big horror film fan but I really enjoyed this film. It sets up its rules pretty early on and then just has fun with them. The film is shot in such a way, that like the main character, you are constantly on the look out for whatever it is that follows. The soundtrack was also great. I could have done with a more finalising ending. I hope this doesn't get turned into another endless franchise...


Some of this film is great, some of it is not. Everything with A.I robot Chappie is awesome, he looks, sounds and acts amazing. I liked seeing a more baby-like approach to a new found A.I technology and the influence it's different 'parents' had on him. But even with all that, you still have the weird Der Antwoord couple being there in the film, and just messing with the tone of it all. Plus the fact that they couldn't act that well didn't help. Even Hugh Jackman is pretty rubbish. For what could be a great Sci-Fi film, it's just a bit of a mess.

Jurassic Park

I went back to my childhood and binged the Jurassic Park trilogy in time for Jurassic World. For now I'm just talking about the first film. It is the ultimate family film, with enough thrills, scares and dinosaurs to make anyone happy. They just don't make films like this anymore, it has so much heart, excitement and adventure. And it's pretty scary still! There haven't been enough films with dinosaurs in them recently. And it is incredible just how well the special effects hold up today!

Let me know in the comments what you thought of the films I have reviewed, or even give me some quick reviews of your own!

Thanks for reading!