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Harry interviews Robert Zemeckis about A CHRISTMAS CAROL, Digital Cinema & Eddie Valiant!!!

Hey folks, Harry here and this was a surprise today. I came back from my INGLOURIOUS BASTERDS screening to pack my bags, shower and get ready for my PAPER HEART screening - but fate had another plan. This is our Exclusive 1 on 1 interview with Robert Zemeckis - now - for the record, I don't enjoy the interview process, I'd rather "shoot the shit" - but when you have a brief amount of time, there's less room for that. I had almost zero prep time, but I think it came out pretty well. You Comic Con geeks can see Zemeckis and his presentation as part of the Thursday (11am - 12:30pm) DISNEY: 3D PANEL - where he'll screen some of A CHRISTMAS CAROL in 3D - and we'll also get a peek at ALICE IN WONDERLAND & TRON - with Tim Burton, Sean Bailey & Steve Lisberger - all moderated by meta-geek Patton Oswalt in the hallowed Hall H. See you there. Till then, I'm in transit. Hope you enjoy this rare interview from me. Harry Knowles: Hello. Robert Zemeckis: Hello. Harry Knowles: Hey Bob, how are you? Robert Zemeckis: I’m good. How are you doing Harry? Harry Knowles: I’m doing fine. It was a nice little surprise that I was going to get to talk to you today. Robert Zemeckis: That’s good. How’s it going? You are down in Texas, right? Harry Knowles: Yeah, but getting ready to go jump to San Diego, like half of the nation it seems like. Robert Zemeckis: [Laughs] Yeah, it feels that way! That will be something. I’ve never been to there before, so that will be an experience. Harry Knowles: What footage are you showing down there? Is it the thing that I saw earlier this year? Robert Zemeckis: Yeah, well it’s the Marley scene that you saw, but then we have this scene that is… It’s a scene in the Funiary where Scrooge is paying for Marley’s funeral. Harry Knowles: Oh? Robert Zemeckis: That wasn’t reading when we did the thing that we showed to you earlier, so we thought that would be something that the COMIC CON folks would enjoy, so we tacked that on. Harry Knowles: One of the things that I noticed when I saw the footage was while it’s still very Charles Dickens and classical CHRISTMAS CAROL, you sort of take things a little more EC’ed, I felt, than Dickens did and I just wondered if that was just sort of a conscious decision to go there with the material. I’ve never seen Marley’s jaw unhinge in any version before and just the power of the ghost coming threw the wall is just so… You can see the kids go “Whoa” back in their seats when that happens and I’ve always loved your love for EC Comics, because I was raised in a household that they were chapter and verse in. I just wonder if any of that has sort of leaked into this for you. Robert Zemeckis: I would say that EC is channeled through Walt Disney, because there’s no gore involved and there’s no… That was the thing that was great about EC, we don’t have any of that, but I’m taking a page out of Mr. Disney’s book in that cinematic drama can certainly have tension and suspense in it and if you are going to tell a ghost story, you might as well tell it. I actually think thought that in the actual writing of those scenes in CHRISTMAS CAROL, I think Dickens evokes a fantastic sense of suspense and dread and I don’t think it’s ever been realized the way that he wrote it. Now do you think I’m projecting on that or do you think that’s in there? Harry Knowles: I think it’s in there. Definitely CHRISTMAS CAROL… I had never heard anyone refer to it as a time travel story before until I heard you say that, whereas I had always thought of it as a ghost story, a definitive Christmas tale, that sort of “rich man’s guilt” story. What was it about this 160 some odd year old story that made you want to do it and do it in this fashion? This is very expensive technology, so what about it makes you feel that at this point in history its going to sweep people up? Robert Zemeckis: I have no prediction to answer the last thing you just said, I just have to do things that I feel passionate about and I always felt that… I think instead of it… You see, I think that one of the great things that we can do in the digital cinema is we can represent the classics in a way that is more accessible to a modern audience. For example, I consider this to be a graphic novel version of CHRISTMAS CAROL. Harry Knowles: OK. Robert Zemeckis: It’s not a cartoon version. It’s not a Muppet’s version. Do you know what I’m saying? It’s a graphic novel version, the way that… I don’t know how old you are, but when I was a kid we had comics… Harry Knowles: You had CLASSICS ILLUSTRATED. Robert Zemeckis: Yeah, we had CLASSICS ILLUSTRATED, which took the classics and made them into comic books and you were able to go “OK, I’m reading MOBY DICK” or “THE HUNCHBACK OF NOTREDAME.” Harry Knowles: MAN IN THE IRON MASK, THE THREE MUSKETEERS and all of that stuff, yeah. Robert Zemeckis: I think that in the digital cinema, we have a chance now and the thing was to present these things in a way that is much more accessible. Harry Knowles: Is that where you are wanting to continue? Are you wanting to continue to do the great classics in this form? Robert Zemeckis: If they lend themselves. See, that’s the thing, you don’t want to do anything that could be done better live action and when you read Dicken’s description of the Ghost of Christmas Past… John Leech, the famous illustrator who illustrated his first edition, didn’t even attempt to draw it, because he had no idea. It was so surreal. It was so unbelievably surreal that he just said “No, I’m not even going to try.” Harry Knowles: Yeah, he just put the guy in the hood with the hand sticking out of it. Robert Zemeckis: Right, he did something like that and so why not now? We get a chance now to do it in a way that is very surreal, the way Dickens wrote it and not just have it be a woman like they used to do in the old versions of it. They didn’t know what to do, so it was “Make this ghost a woman.” Not that there’s a problem with that, but that’s not what Dickens wrote you know? It was like a man baby with a weird light thing, it was really very weird. Something amazing about Dickens is how cinematic he rights and that’s the thing that always impressed me about it, so CHRISTMAS CAROL, I think it might be the first time travel… No wait, when did Mark Twain write CONNECTICUT YANKEE? Was that before this or after this? Harry Knowles: I think before, but I’m not sure, so I’ll look it up. (NOTE: CONNECTICUT YANKEE IN KING ARTHUR’S COURT was 1889 and A CHRISTMAS CAROL was 1843 – for the record.) Robert Zemeckis: That might have been the first time travel story that was written in English, but I don’t know. This is certainly one of the early ones. Harry Knowles: Absolutely. What’s it about Jim Carrey that made him your Scrooge? My personal favorite Scrooge was Alastair Sim, but there are so many great people that have played him and Jim, I love what I’m seeing from him. It sort of looks like Scrooge meets Uncle Creepy to a certain degree. What about bringing Jim in that made you excited about having him? Robert Zemeckis: I think Jim first of all is a great actor and he is probably the greatest working character actor that we have working in films today and I just knew instinctively that he would be a magnificent performance capture actor, because when he does a performance and unfortunately in so many of his earlier films… He works with his entire, I mean every muscle in his body performs every single moment of every single movie that you see and we generally don’t get to see that in a lot of these movies and that’s what makes his Scrooge work so well. He’s not just doing a facial performance. He’s not just doing a voice performance. He’s doing an entire instrument performance and that just comes flying through the process and that’s why and he is so meticulous and he is so absolutely conscientious about what he does. His accent is absolutely flawless. Harry Knowles: One of the things that sort of stunned me when I saw that initial scene between Scrooge and Fred with Cratchit off to the side, when I went to look up who was playing Cratchit, I was absolutely shocked to see that it was Gary Oldman, because visually there is no similarity really. Robert Zemeckis: Oh but there is though! The problem with Gary is he is a master of disguise, you don’t really know what he really looks like most of the time, but yeah there is a tremendous similarity, but you will see more of it when you see the whole movie in it’s entirety, yeah. Harry Knowles: Yeah, because just in that scene he’s sort of off to the side and really just eerie feeling in a way, like he’s sort of just spying in on everything that’s being said in the other room, which I love. I can’t to see how he brings Tiny Tim to life. Robert Zemeckis: He’s great and of course you saw what he did with Marley, so that… Harry Knowles: Marley was amazing. I thought his Marley was just absolutely tremendous, but on the scene between Scrooge and Fred, there’s still something where sometimes between the two of them when they are talking to one another, I don’t seem to catch that their eyes are actually focused on one another. Robert Zemeckis: Right. Harry Knowles: I think you have sort of gotten past the stare that people would once complain about, but what is it about the eyes that are so hard. Robert Zemeckis: Well first of all, let me say that those scenes that you saw are completely revamped and that scene that you saw, those scenes were the very first finals that came out and for someone with such a discriminating eye as yours, you would see that, where most people didn’t, but none of those scenes are in the final movie. They are completely redone and all of those flaws that you saw in those scenes I guarantee you are no longer there, but the answer to your question is it’s a learning curve and I think the thing that we… We made a couple of technological breakthroughs including now using the retina as a marker, so whatever the performer does, even with the smallest movement of the eye is recorded with four high def cameras now, so we’ve got that really really zeroed in on as far as the technology is concerned, secondly and what we realized and when I did POLAR EXPRESS, the thing that I thought was a noble gesture if you will, was to bring the design of the characters the way that Chris Van Alsburg designed them to life and what you realize is that maybe sometimes characters that are painted in a certain style don’t necessarily lend themselves to be digitized in performance capture. So what we learned is there are certain things that you have to do in the design of the character to alleviate that. The second thing is that it’s all about lighting them more photoreal and in an interesting way, you have to go in with an artist’s paintbrush and I mean a digital paint brush, like the way Rembrandt would, rather the way a computer would paint it within it’s virtual reality, so in other words the computer sees “Oh this character is over here and it’s light source is over here and there’s this light source is over here and so that’s where the highlights have to go and that’s “real,” but it’s not right if you know what I mean. Harry Knowles: I know what you mean. Robert Zemeckis: The other thing that we realized as well too is you don’t see anywhere near the amount of detail on film that you can do digitally, so basically we fixed the eyes by turning off detail. You see much less than you think on film, which is what you are used to seeing. You see way more in images that are digitally rendered, so it’s basically understanding the art form, but we don’t want to do is we don’t want to throw out the tools, just because we haven’t perfected the artform. Harry Knowles: Exactly. When I saw it, I saw it at The Drafthouse here in town and they have got one of those 4k digital projectors, so it was just beautiful to look at and there was just a couple of little spots where I noticed that problem, like in the Marley and Scrooge scene, everything was just rearing. It was just great. I see that Bob Hoskins is playing Mr. Fezziwig in this, did you have any discussions with him about returning as Eddie Valiant? Robert Zemeckis: [Laughs] Oh yes, he always has them with me. He loves Eddie Valiant and he would love to do it. We talk about it and it’s something we are thinking about. Harry Knowles: Cool. Where are you on the film right now? How far along is it? Robert Zemeckis: Well we are about three days away from what we call “animation,” which is getting all of the final digital performances completely completed and we are about three days away from that and then the rest is just lighting and final rendering, so the film is basically locked and we are just now perfecting all of those little blemishes that you were talking about, like that whole Fred scene has just been completely relit and completely re-rendered. One of the problems that we have in this art form is we are forced, because of modern marketing techniques, we are forced to violate the one rule that they beat into me in film school which is never show anybody anything until you are completely finished with it, but unfortunately we can’t do that in the world today. Harry Knowles: That’s one of the reasons… When I wrote up my coverage of the piece that I saw, I didn’t take you to task on that, because I know that when you see something like a Super Bowl commercial for THE INCREDIBLE HULK, well that movie’s five or six months away from coming out, there’s no way that those are final renders. Intellectually I know that, but when I’m talking to you, I just wanted to make sure you were catching those things. [Laughs] Robert Zemeckis: Absolutely. Trust me, I’m completely dedicated to… My goal here is to present this art form to tell stories that we never had a way to do before and I use the graphic novel as an example, because animation is a magnificent art form that I’m a big fan of and that I’ve been a fan of my entire life. Live action… We are never going to replace actors, we actually liberate actors. All of the fears that you are hearing about this new art form is the same fear we heard about sound, color, wide screen, and everything. My feeling is we now have this new art form to present stories that shouldn’t be animated and are impossible to make live action. Harry Knowles: My thing is this; I think anyone who has a sense of history about animation isn’t offended by the concept of motion capture, because it’s essentially just a much larger version of rotoscoping and the sort of work that Fleischer was trying to do at one point, but at a level that just screws you up entirely. Once you have that movement captured, you can move all around it and everything. I find that very interesting. I think some of the shots that come out of being able to do that have been pretty amazing. In BEAUWOLF, that whole flying sequence on the dragon scene… we had never really seen anything like that before and I think that came out of the tools you had. Robert Zemeckis: Absolutely and that’s the whole point and the point is to do something that you couldn’t do in any other form and you are absolutely right and that’s the fun of it. I’ll tell you the other thing that I think is really the great bonus about having what I call “The virtual cinema” or “The digital cinema” and I’m really excited that The Walt Disney company is so dedicated to digital cinema. When you think about it, it’s amazing how they are behind this. When you think of their commitment to Pixar and their commitment to 3D and their commitment to what I’m doing, it’s huge. It’s gigantic! What I love about it is the cinema is so liberated. Your ability as a filmmaker to do things that are absolutely only restricted by your imagination. You don’t have any physical restrictions on what it is that you have to do. I think if they were alive today, guys like Hitchcock and Kubrick, they would love this art form. They would love to be able to work with this art form and that’s why, by the way, the guys who are on the train are Peter Jackson, Steven Spielberg, you know Jim, this isn’t happening by accident. Harry Knowles: Last question, any desire to return to traditional live action filmmaking? Robert Zemeckis: I’m really committed to getting this art form off of the ground, but of course I would and I’m never going to say never to anything, but right now though I really want to make sure that we get this out there so that younger filmmakers have these absolutely breathtaking tools that they can use. Harry Knowles: I think you are doing a fantastic job. Robert Zemeckis: Of course I’d love to do a live action movie and it always depends on the right story. It’s always about the story. Harry Knowlers: Cool. Well thanks for the work that you have been doing, I’ve been a fan of it and I’m very much looking forward to seeing the rest of this particular film. Robert Zemeckis: Well good and I hope you enjoy it and thanks for taking the time. Harry Knowles: No problem. Thanks for talking the time to talk to me! Robert Zemeckis: Alright, take care!

Readers Talkback
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  • July 22, 2009, 3:23 a.m. CST

    Jim Carrey = greatest character actor working today???

    by YackBacker

    I don't really think so, Bob. I'd take Steve Buscemi, John Turturro, John Malkovich, Brian Cox, John C. Reilly, Bill Macy, Gary Oldman... etc. etc. before JIM CARREY.

  • July 22, 2009, 3:32 a.m. CST

    Zemeckis dropped the ball w/ BEOWULF

    by YackBacker

    What a thoroughly disappointing movie experience. Grendel was poorly designed, the concept of Beowulf and Hrothgar both sharing the same deep, dark secret didn't really add to the character in the end either. The art direction was good and Angelina Jolie's body spoke for itself, but in the end you ask yourself "so what?" Oddly, I found THE 13TH WARRIOR a more compelling version of the story. And that's a flawed movie, Jack!

  • July 22, 2009, 3:33 a.m. CST


    by DocDaneeka

    yeah i took notice of that line too.<br></br><br></br>does anyone else get the sense that zemeckis feels like he's accomplished everything he set out to do with live-action film making, and it just doesn't excite him very much anymore? as much as i'd love to see it, i don't see him going back to live-action any time soon.

  • July 22, 2009, 3:36 a.m. CST

    Jim carrey stole everything from Jerry Lewis

    by Gorgomel

    except talent. Jerry Lewis is a genius (on par with charles Chaplin and buster Keaton). Jim carrey is a pathetic hack.

  • July 22, 2009, 3:37 a.m. CST

    yackbacker, take Turturro off the list

    by vadakinX

    After the Transformers movies he doesn't deserve to be on a list like that.

  • July 22, 2009, 3:37 a.m. CST

    No, I won't take Turturro off the list- Jesus Quintana is legend

    by YackBacker

    Turturro is bulletproof.

  • July 22, 2009, 3:40 a.m. CST

    i liked beowulf

    by DocDaneeka

    i thought the grendel design was refreshing; after seeing so many movie-monsters with similar looks (rip-offs), i liked that they took it in a different direction. although i should say that i was not familiar with the original story when i saw the movie, so i didn't have any preconceived idea of what grendel should look like.<br></br><br></br>i also really liked the concept of the movie being what actually happened, and the 'legend' that we all know being interpreted/growing from that.

  • July 22, 2009, 3:58 a.m. CST

    Beowulf was much better than I expected

    by drturing

    Great script. And some really fun stuff where you could tell Zemeckis was having a blast with cinematic grammar... But...

  • July 22, 2009, 4:01 a.m. CST

    Turturro IS bulletproof...

    by billyhitchcock

    ...he's piss funny in mr deeds ;-)

  • July 22, 2009, 4:01 a.m. CST

    This artform just DOESN'T WORK

    by drturing

    I'm sorry Zemeckis, the tools are there, but it's ridiculous to have 4 HD cameras trained on a retina when you could just FILM AN ACTOR DOING IT. Every audience I've seen the Christmas Carol trailer with - one conventionally, one in Imax 3d... Was left totally unimpressed. It still just looks like a higher realm of videogame cutscene, sadly, for all the effort that goes into it. And character animation is just better when it's done by hand - if you're going to stick it on uncanny valley characters that aren't truly photoreal. I respect Harry for mentioning the one thing that always always gets audiences about this photoreal stuff - the EYES ARE DEAD AND HOLLOW LIKE BLOODLESS CYBORG EYES.<p> For all the fun you're having liberating the camera from physical constraints, I just don't see the point whatsoever in coating all this humanity in unnecessary technology.<p> The thing about AVATAR is that mocap is written into the story. The whole concept in fact hinges on motion capture. That's Cameron's genius.

  • July 22, 2009, 4:01 a.m. CST

    Zemeckis is lost without Bob Gale

    by palimpsest

    He just hides behind technology these days. Like we need another version of A CHRISTMAS CAROL. A redundant exercise.

  • July 22, 2009, 4:12 a.m. CST

    I could care less about Mo-Cap.

    by Henry Jones Sr

    They can bang on all they like about the great leaps in technology and the realism and the ability to bring anything they want to the screen ... but all the Mo-Cap films are really boring so who cares! Beowulf was two hours of flat moments and unexciting action. I also don't think the general audience is particularly interested in Mo-Cap. For example, my brother told his movie loving pals that Steven Spielberg was going to direct Tintin. They all went "Wow! Awesome!", but when he added it will be filmed in Mo-Cap they all went "oh" and went back about their business.

  • July 22, 2009, 4:22 a.m. CST

    tintin will be a frakking masterpiece

    by Gorgomel

    your friends are just a bunch of morons

  • July 22, 2009, 4:40 a.m. CST

    Mo-Cap and Jim Carrey do share one thing in common

    by YackBacker

    They were briefly considered cool back in the '90s.

  • July 22, 2009, 4:45 a.m. CST

    Harry...what about Roger Rabbit??

    by wildphantom07

    You must have quizzed him on his recent comments surrounding a sequel? <p> I'm looking forward to Xmas Carol, but surely a sequel to RR is where its at in terms of the number one question you should be posing to Bob??!!!

  • July 22, 2009, 5:05 a.m. CST

    His animated films may not be perfect

    by ThePorkChopExpress

    But respect to the man for staying dedicated to MAKING it perfect for future brilliant films and the generation of Zemeckis, Spielbergs, Jacksons, Camerons and even the Jonze's, Arranofsky's and Nolan's. Good on him.

  • July 22, 2009, 5:07 a.m. CST

    *the NEXT generation of

    by ThePorkChopExpress

  • July 22, 2009, 5:11 a.m. CST

    Back to the Future

    by kwisatzhaderach

    was Zemeckis's last great film. He'll never top that. <p> AVATAR footage tomorrow folks!!

  • July 22, 2009, 5:37 a.m. CST

    Zemeckis is absolutely wrong on this point:

    by Dingbatty

    "...present stories that shouldn’t be animated and are impossible to make live action."<p>

  • July 22, 2009, 5:46 a.m. CST


    by Anything But Tangerines

  • July 22, 2009, 5:47 a.m. CST

    More savings

    by The StarWolf

    The nice thing about yet still another unnecessary remake is that it means I get to keep more money in my pocket as I avoid going to it.

  • July 22, 2009, 6:36 a.m. CST

    Back to the Future = Best. Movie. Ever.

    by Droid

    I have no problem with motion capture. I really don't understand why all the geeks are getting so worked up over it. <p>The worrying thing for me after reading this interview is that Zemeckis appears to be saying he has no plans on returning to live-action. If he wants to push mo-cap that's fine, but not at the expense of regular filmmaking. Balance the two. <p>And please no sequel to 'Who Framed Roger Rabbit?'! It's a perfect standalone flick.

  • July 22, 2009, 6:39 a.m. CST

    Gorgomel, you're nuts

    by hst666

    Jim Carrey may be similar to Jerry Lewis, but Jim is much funnier than Jerry. I sat through a number of Jerry Lewis "comedies" on TV growing up and they just aen't as funny. Maybe his stand-up act was much better, I don't know.

  • July 22, 2009, 6:46 a.m. CST

    but why Christmas Carol??

    by Righteous Brother

    when its been done so many times before, and so well? Moby Dick would have been a much better choice, or something like John Carter of Mars.

  • July 22, 2009, 6:54 a.m. CST

    Beowulf was terrible.

    by Ingeld

    He changing of it from epic to tragedy was a bit of hubris on Zemeckis' part. Why not trust the original poet's narrative genious and epic themes instead of believing you can do better?

  • July 22, 2009, 6:58 a.m. CST

    Righteous Brother

    by palimpsest

    Because it's an easy sell at Christmas. This is one of the most cynical and redundant Hollywood products for a long time.

  • July 22, 2009, 6:59 a.m. CST

    Why "A Christmas Carol"?

    by Ingeld

    Take the rationale for doing remakes, add the fact that it will be a perfect sell for a Christmas release, add the fact that it has a potential audience that crosses generations, genders and specific interests, add the fact that if it becomes a holiday classic, the dvd sales and television showings will pull in the money every year for generations. The short answer: greater potential for profit.

  • July 22, 2009, 7:01 a.m. CST

    re: Ingeld

    by palimpsest

    See John Gardner's novel GRENDEL.

  • July 22, 2009, 7:07 a.m. CST

    I just find motion capture creepy

    by Spandau Belly

    It's like being in some living wax museum or something. I feel really uncomfortable watching those flicks so I don't. I prefer more stylized animated people like The Incredibles. Cartoons should look like cartoons.

  • July 22, 2009, 7:17 a.m. CST

    re: Palimpsest

    by Ingeld

    Read it and read Beowulf in the original OE. Gardner's was a different vision of the poem that none would mistake for the poem istelf.

  • July 22, 2009, 7:32 a.m. CST

    I'm personally scared that Zemeckis is...

    by DrunkyMcLush

    quickly becoming a prophet of George Lucas, if not already (e.g. "Money, green screen, technology, technology, money, special effects, technology, special effects, money, blah, blah, blah.") ----- I really hope that if a Roger Rabbit sequel comes to fruition that he goes back to the same frame of mind he was in when he made the first one where he makes a great movie that's a lot of fun and one that everyone can enjoy. Remember when Zemeckis was a great story teller? I do. It suffered a stroke in 1997 and slowly died in painful misery for the next 7 years.

  • July 22, 2009, 7:57 a.m. CST

    IF he uses mocap to bring Eddie Valiant or Doc back...

    by ricarleite2

    ... then he is forgiven and is a GOD of film making. If not, the old Zemeckis is GONE.

  • July 22, 2009, 8:25 a.m. CST

    Avatar teaser poster

    by Trannyformers_Apologist

    The exclusive first look at James Cameron's eye fucking Avatar <P><P>

  • July 22, 2009, 8:38 a.m. CST

    Yeah, you're right....

    by Righteous Brother

    I think A Christmas Carol may be in the public domain as well, so no-one has to pay any rights to use the characters.

  • July 22, 2009, 8:41 a.m. CST

    Every Minute of This Interview ...

    by ThusSpakeSpymunk

    ... is either Harry trying to impress with his knowledge ("It's like EC Comics, or Uncle Creepy, or CLASSICS ILLUSTRATED!") with Zemeckis basically ignoring him or telling him that he's wrong ... or it's Robert Zemeckis saying "Trust me, this isn't as terrible as it looks!" Wow.

  • July 22, 2009, 8:48 a.m. CST

    "The writers of Saw IV V and VI present..."

    by Nasty In The Pasty

    Like THAT'S anything to brag about.

  • July 22, 2009, 9:03 a.m. CST

    Loved the 13th Warrior


    Didn't care of Beowulf, really, but I understand what Robert Zemeckis is up to and I'm totally for it. I actually like Polar Express a lot more now than I did originally. The kind of wooden, dead-eyed characters are actually sort of appealing to me--not sure why, it just seems to work in the movie.

  • July 22, 2009, 9:04 a.m. CST

    I Think Christmas Carol Will Be Plenty Cool


    Gary Oldman. Nuff said.

  • July 22, 2009, 9:05 a.m. CST

    Biggest Problem with Beowulf


    No serious R-rated digital nudity. He should have gone all out.

  • July 22, 2009, 9:30 a.m. CST

    It's BEOWULF, Harry. B...E...O...W...U...L...F

    by IndyCollector


  • July 22, 2009, 9:31 a.m. CST

    Absolutely unnecessary


    Instead of spending all that time on animation, try tightening the script first, Robbie. Polar Express and Beowulf were shit, this will probably be even worse than those turds.

  • July 22, 2009, 9:41 a.m. CST


    by mynemaborat

    jesus was a characiture... that aint good character acting, that was just his usual over the top, subtle like a sledge hammer performance. turturro sux compared to the others

  • July 22, 2009, 10:17 a.m. CST

    WTF Harry?

    by Biffs_Pleasure_Paradise

    The guy mentions bringing back Eddie Valiant and all you say is 'Cool', no further questions asked?

  • July 22, 2009, 10:43 a.m. CST

    Monster House was the best use of mo-cap

    by SoylentMean

    I might be biased because I love that movie so damn much, but to me it captured the sense of photorealism while maintaining its sense of illusion as well. That movie wasn't even directed by Zemeckis. The Polar Express was just, weird. I can't actually narrow it down but I was completely put off by that movie. <P> Beowulf was somewhat cool, when it focused on the fantastical elements, but the efforts in photorealism (most glaring in Grendel) were so jarring, I just couldn't fully accept it. <P> I think that's the problem most people have with mo-cap. It's trying to bring realism to films that don't cry out their need for realism. <P> I'm behind the use of the technology but I still think that happy medium hasn't really been met. <P> I'm still gonna see this movie.

  • July 22, 2009, 10:43 a.m. CST

    What the hell does Zemeckis know about time travel?

    by SoylentMean

    Oh, right.

  • July 22, 2009, 10:48 a.m. CST

    I bet Jessica Rabbit has aged well

    by SoylentMean

    I would love to see a sequel to Who Framed Roger Rabbit? But, it's been over 20 years. Good God do I love Who Framed Roger Rabbit? That's the title, not a question. I know I love that movie. It's just that there's a question mark in the title, which makes it hard not to make it look like you're asking a question when you type it, because the title is, in fact, a question.

  • July 22, 2009, 10:49 a.m. CST

    Hey Zemeckis, how 'bout a new Tales From the Crypt series?

    by SoylentMean

    People would watch. Well, I know SoylentMean would watch. And SoylentMean is people. SoylentMean really hates it when folks write in the third person. SoylentMean fuckin' hates that.

  • July 22, 2009, 10:51 a.m. CST

    13th Warrior love? Get outta town!

    by SoylentMean

    I will learn your Norse language by watching you around a campfire. Then, I will speak it fluently. WTF? In the book there was a translator. I guess that would have been too much for a movie.

  • July 22, 2009, 12:04 p.m. CST


    by ricarleite2

    The title does NOT have a question mark, as it is considered bad luck

  • July 22, 2009, 12:10 p.m. CST

    mynemaborat, go watch MILLER'S CROSSING

    by YackBacker

    You cannot bash Turturro with a straight face. Get over the robot movies, skippy. Fucking amateur, we're done me and you... professionally.

  • July 22, 2009, 12:18 p.m. CST

    Zemeckis lost his touch in the mid-90s or so

    by Josh Acid

    I think it was when he realized doing Death Becomes Her that with special effects you can make anything happen in a movie...He started to become more about seamless effects and "impossible" camerawork than telling a good story well. He needs to do a small-scale comedy on a tight schedule and limited budget, ASAP. I want that Used Cars magic back!

  • July 22, 2009, 2:23 p.m. CST

    I wonder if Zemeckis directed BENJAMIN BUTTON

    by YackBacker

    It was essentially the same movie as FORREST GUMP... fuck Eric Roth.

  • July 22, 2009, 2:31 p.m. CST

    Making Mo-Cap attainable to who???

    by PANtheMAN

    perfecting mo-cap so younger filmmakers can have access to it really means whoever has the time, money, patience, and money to play with it. There's a reason Pixar does so well, cuz they capture emotion and story in one, not rely on photo-real personifications of what real actors can do live action.

  • July 22, 2009, 2:35 p.m. CST

    ricarleite2, what's next Macbeth referred to as...

    by SoylentMean

    the Scottish play? Amazingly someone is paying attention on this site. Still, grammatically, Who Framed Roger Rabbit should end with a question mark. <P> Fuckin' superstitions. Excuse me while I avoid walking under this ladder, stepping on this crack in the sidewalk, and crossing the path of this night colored feline.

  • July 22, 2009, 3:15 p.m. CST

    Zemeckis - one of the all-time greats, it can't be denied

    by performingmonkey

    Beowulf was pretty good, I have to say. Just cut 10 minutes out of it for pace and you've got an even better piece of work. The whole thing is a learning curve and Zemeckis is really making his mark, taking his place in movie-making history once again. Go him! And YES to Roger Rabbit!!!

  • July 22, 2009, 3:56 p.m. CST

    Zemckis is cool, but please go back to REAL ACTORS!

    by lockesbrokenleg

  • July 22, 2009, 4:17 p.m. CST

    Did anyone catch Fox on Kimmel a couple weeks back

    by Series7

    Talking about how he went to a Back to the Future Con or something? How he had never been, but other people from the movie were there like Lloyd. And when he showed up trying to be all friendly, they peaced out like he was their replacement for autographs. Seeing that Lloyd probably gets most of his coke money from Conventions while Fox never had to do that.

  • July 22, 2009, 4:19 p.m. CST

    I want to care about this

    by Series7

    But really? A Christmas Carol? AGAIN. May as well go ahead and reboot the Superman franchise while your at it. What Lies Beneath may have sucked but at least it was original. <P> Maybe he'll do a Bible story next.

  • July 22, 2009, 4:19 p.m. CST

    Also what ever happened to

    by Series7

    Death Becomes Her 2?

  • July 22, 2009, 4:26 p.m. CST

    A Christmas Carol is THE most overexposed story in history

    by Nasty In The Pasty

    "Ironic" remakes, at least half-a-dozen sitcom variations each December, animated versions (hell, even the Muppets did it...a damn good version, I'll admit)...there is NOTHING LEFT to do with this story. It's a great story, but ENOUGH, already. Just read the fucking BOOK or watch one of the 5,000 previous movie/TV versions, or something.

  • July 22, 2009, 4:28 p.m. CST

    Big Fan

    by snaps_provolone

    In retrospect, he's directed some of my all-time favorite films. Back to the Future Trilogy & Cast Away especially. I'm a huge fan of Gump & Roger Rabbit. In terms of all this mo-cap stuff, I do think this will be much more beneficial/succesful 20 years from now, as opposed to today. In that aspect, he's doing outstanding work. Him being a pioneer in making tools & animation more accessible and immediate for filmmaking is a good thing. However, in terms of the acutal "films" he's making with this mo-cap's hit and miss. "Polar Express" was alright, but did have that dead-eye problema. I saw "Beowulf" in 3-D, and as a theatrical experience, it was awesome. For a stand-alone movie to watch later on, I actually haven't even seen it since the theater. Not even a second of it. "Christmas Carol," I'll bet, will be good. It will at least be fun to watch in IMAX 3-D.

  • July 22, 2009, 4:50 p.m. CST

    Perched upon the ledge Huxley portended in "Brave New World"

    by ChaunceyGardiner

    When I saw one of the teaser images of the alien being in Cameron's Avatar, accompanied by the phrase, "Raping your eyeballs," what I thought of, just something that suddenly rose to mind, something unbidden but subconsciously there for quite a while as I have warily regarded the developments of this film, and of the current popular Hollywood assembly line, and its need to push the visual boundary (with seemingly no consideration whatsoever of the importance of story, of meaning and context), was Huxley description of futuristic entertainment, and its goals, in the Westminster Abbey Cabaret: "[It] raised a quite impenetrable wall between the actual universe and their minds." I'm just saying. Hollywood is getting out of touch. Maybe it always has been. If we abuse our gifts, these tools, for mere pleasure sake, I feel... I feel that we are distancing ourselves from something very important. It is a mindlessness that I feel we need to try to avoid. These creative minds need to realize that while pushing the boundaries of film, they also have a responsibility to the medium itself, to its vast and important heritage. They need to be models for behaviour, not just pace-setters. I feel that they have missed the point.

  • July 22, 2009, 4:53 p.m. CST

    Whenever Zemeckis is mentioned I always bring up

    by skimn

    Used Cars. Kurt Russell doing slick sleazeball to a T, Lenny & Squiggy, Gerrit Graham, the immortal Jack Warden...I hope Zemeckis does one more raunchy, R-rated comedy fest before he's just known for mocap kid's films.

  • July 22, 2009, 5:05 p.m. CST

    "I am on my knees Tommy, I am PRAYING TO YOU!"

    by ChaunceyGardiner

    Then look at the scene recapitulated in the remake of "Get Carter" (which I do feel had its moments), but that time with Alan Cumming doing the routine. It was cringe-worthy. Silly and overwrought, and maybe that was what the movie was going for. But they missed the point. The point was not to make Bernie Bernbaum look like a fool; it was to add to Tom's pain and anger by making him fall privy to the illusion so prevalent in that cruel world he existed inside of, that mercy was weakness. He was surrounded by the disingenious, and he had to deny himself human empathy in order to reside within it (look at his betrayl of Johnny Casper, the pure sorrow and disgust on his face, the cringing when Johnny Casper "SEE TOM! YOU GOTTA PUT ONE IN THE BRAIN!" The complete transcendant horror of that moment - one of the few films to turn a completely normal room into a personal hell; Tom's plans and machinations for survival repulses him, empties him, and at the end he must isolate himself, must hold on to that fuckin' hat). Tom Reagan's spiritual journey is one of the most wrenching I've ever seen - I still watch that movie, trying to understand it. Joel and Ethan gave us a real gift with that picture. "Get Careter" was pure revenge fantasy. Only Turturro could make Bernie the astounding character that he was. "You'll have grifter kids, and they'll have grifter grandkids." It was the reality of the world that Tom had chosen. Damn that is a powerful film.

  • July 22, 2009, 5:08 p.m. CST

    Great inteview, Harry...

    by ZombieHeathLedger

    You were very knowledgeable, asked interesting questions and kept right up with him. Well done, sir.

  • July 22, 2009, 5:16 p.m. CST

    Zemeckis should mo-cap a volleyball

    by Star Hump

    and then talk to it for the rest of his life.

  • July 22, 2009, 6:12 p.m. CST

    Never got Christmas Past right? P'shaw!

    by geekzapoppin

    Richard Williams won an Oscar for his 1971 animated version. It had Alistair Sim and Sir Michael Redgrave doing voices. It also had everything creepy about the original text that has never been done well in any of the live action adaptations. Thirty minutes of pure genius. Considering that Williams animated Roger Rabbit, I'm calling bullshit on Zemeckis. If, in fact, he didn't see Williams' previous work, then he has no business making an animated film. The Williams version is a classic. Online, in its entirety, at Google Video.

  • July 22, 2009, 7:50 p.m. CST

    Christmas movies are great, well for the most part

    by SoylentMean

    There's a ton of crap out there, but there are also a lot of good Christmas movies. Since I didn't like The Polar Express hopefully this movie won't suck and will get added to the pile of cool, fun versions of A Christmas Carol. <P> Or it could suck. I don't think it'll suck though.

  • July 22, 2009, 8:59 p.m. CST

    I'm actually excited for this...

    by jjwalrus

    Very interesting comment about Carrey as a character actor... He's supposed to be a leading man. I love A Christmas Carol. Classic versions, twists on the story like "Scrooged". Why do people keep remaking it? It's a great story and the checks that come every December don't hurt either! Polar Express was a very cool film, the technology just wasn't all the way there yet.

  • July 22, 2009, 9:05 p.m. CST

    Justice League

    by Antz

    He would be great for it, and because it is "Animated" it wouldn't necessarily interfere with other franchises.

  • July 22, 2009, 9:57 p.m. CST

    Try the original Michael Caine GET CARTER

    by palimpsest

    MILLER'S CROSSING is a fine film, but it's a pastiche. Watch the Mike Hodges / Caine GET CARTER and see something bleak and awesome.

  • July 22, 2009, 11:03 p.m. CST

    You didn't say chocolate covered pussy juice to Zemeckis?

    by axel fff

    I'm impressed.

  • July 23, 2009, 12:33 a.m. CST

    I have ZERO interest in Mo-Cap anything...

    by conspiracy

    especially Roger Fucking Rabbit! Human actors and practical effects mixed with animation...THAT is what made RR the classic it is. Mo-Cap will Fuck all that Up.

  • July 23, 2009, 12:34 a.m. CST


    by mynemaborat

    ummm yeah ive seen millers crossing... what makes u think i was talking about his performance in the transformer movies when i clearly referred to his role in the big lebowski? u that simple? just because u seem to think the sun shines out of turturro's ass doesnt make it so... i think he's a terrible over actor. now run along

  • July 23, 2009, 4:14 a.m. CST

    Dingbatty, care to elaborate?

    by Talkbacker with no name

    or that's your total input to such a bold statement on your part? Seriously, I'm interested in why you think he is wrong.

  • July 23, 2009, 4:18 a.m. CST

    conspiracy, where does it say that...

    by Talkbacker with no name

    where does it say that the roger rabbit sequel is going to mocap? <p>Is anyone actually reading the words on the page!?

  • July 23, 2009, 4:24 a.m. CST

    PANtheMAN, the prices come down very quickly

    by Talkbacker with no name

    ok maybe not as quick as many would like, but who thought even 15 years ago we would have better or even the equivalent of equiptment available on our home computers than they did back then to make movies with and with more ease?

  • July 23, 2009, 7:27 a.m. CST

    I used to admire Robert Zemeckis

    by AsimovLives

    Now i just wish he retires from filmmaking and stop making over-priced cartoons. Any year without a Zemeckis movie gets closer to be a good year.

  • July 23, 2009, 7:29 a.m. CST

    Ooohhh, Zemeckis is a Bob now, hem?

    by AsimovLives

    Another BOB fucking up modern cinema. As if Bob The Orci was not a BOB too many! in my country, Bob and Bobby are names we give to the dogs, and deservedly so.

  • July 23, 2009, 7:34 a.m. CST

    Neil and Bob

    by Star Hump

    Are those your names, or just what you do? HEY-O!

  • July 23, 2009, 8:11 a.m. CST


    by thecheesegrommit

    Sorry dude, I still want your Public Enemies review. Have fun at Comic Con

  • July 23, 2009, 8:11 a.m. CST

    AsimovLives, he's a film maker not a terrorist

    by Talkbacker with no name

    you need to relax a bit, babe.

  • July 23, 2009, 8:21 a.m. CST

    It's "you" not "u", mynemaborat

    by YackBacker

    And your opinion is duly noted and summarily ignored. Have a great fucking day.

  • July 23, 2009, 8:50 a.m. CST

    "Christmas movies are great, well for the most part"

    by Nasty In The Pasty

    Yeah, Fred Claus, the Santa Claus trilogy and Surviving Christmas are films I always watch every December...<BR><BR>Most Christmas movies suck ASS.

  • July 23, 2009, 9:53 a.m. CST

    Aww, nasty, where's your Christmas spirit?

    by SoylentMean

    You didn't get what you asked for from Santa, now did you? Maybe you should be a better person.

  • July 23, 2009, 10:32 a.m. CST

    "I’ve never seen Marley’s jaw unhinge in any version before"

    by GoDFaDDa42

    The Patrick Stewart TV version a few years back did that. It was very faithful to the depictions in the book.

  • July 23, 2009, 3:06 p.m. CST

    Bob Gale

    by Munro Kelly

    I agree with palimpsest, I think he kind of lost his footing when "the two Bobs" parted ways. I believe that Zemeckis is a directing genius but he needs someone strong to balance him out. He needs someone strong enough to say no, pull him in sometimes and push him further at others. The same thing happened to Lucas when he parted ways with Gary Kurtz. John McTiernans two best movies were made with Joel Silver and, according to McTiernan, they did not get along. All three of them had made good movies apart from their old partners but you can certainly sense something has changed.

  • July 23, 2009, 3:58 p.m. CST

    Last really good Zemeckis movie was...

    by Orbots Commander

    ...CAST AWAY. I really, really dug that flick. One of the best portrayals of a man dealing with solitude, likely ever put on film. The plane crash sequence into the ocean was thrilling as hell too. I hope THAT Zemeckis comes back one day. Otherwise, I'll be ignoring the mo-cap stuff this OTHER Zemeckis doppelganger keeps putting out.

  • July 23, 2009, 4:30 p.m. CST

    Uncanny Valley

    by manhog

    Zemeckis's next film. Starring Jim Carrey as a CGI banana (with issues) who gets into scrapes in the 1950s - in 3D!!!! His last good film was Contact. And that was only 'cos Jimmy Woods was in it.

  • July 23, 2009, 4:44 p.m. CST

    if this type of technology ever gets perfected...

    by jjwalrus

    to the point where live action is indistinguisable from CGI, it would open up some more options... For example, Lucasfilm alone could make new Star Wars movies with a "young" Mark Hamill, Harrison Ford, etc.. Same with Indy. It could be interesting. Not sure if they will ever get there.

  • July 23, 2009, 5:54 p.m. CST

    Zemeckis mo-cap films

    by judge dredds fresh undies

    are totally devoid of the charm of more pure animation. If the visuals in Beowolf etc were a bit more stlyised that might offset the problem a bit. Also, I wish he wouldn't make the characters look similar to the performers as it completely takes you out of the film. Really I would prefer him to just get back to live action.

  • July 23, 2009, 6:36 p.m. CST


    by Mennen

  • July 23, 2009, 6:43 p.m. CST

    Zemeckis Mo-Caps Films?

    by Read and Shut Up


  • July 23, 2009, 8:15 p.m. CST

    Hey you... get your damn hands off my Christmas Carol!

    by Little Beavis

    had to say it

  • July 23, 2009, 11:25 p.m. CST

    Harry pronounced "BEAUWOLF"...

    by BadWaldosRevenge

    BEAUWOLF...BEOWULF...BEAUWOLF...BEOWULF... is Harry speaking French or beautifying a captive little furry werewolf or what?<p>Damned, Harry neglected to mention crazy genius Crispin Glover and how Zemeckis & Glover mended the fence with Glover appearing in Beowolf. I thought he got "blacklisted" for suing Universal over recycled footage and another actor in make-up to resemble Glover. Rule number one to avoid blacklist: You don't sue a major studio. Rule number two: Don't take Jews like Mr. Spielberg to task like Glover wrote a visceral (and unapologetically politically incorrect) essay. If Glover was indeed sarcastic, he would be a great satirist of our time a la Jonathan Swift (A Tale of a Tub, misanthropic part in Gulliver's Travel, black comedy essay A Modest Proposal). No one but Glover could have the titanium balls to mock Spielberg without committing what amounts to a career suicide.

  • July 23, 2009, 11:30 p.m. CST

    Ha, sweet.

    by MikeTheSpike

    Bob Hoskins always seems like such a crumudgeon. To hear that he has enthusiasm to play Eddie Valiant once again - while amazing - sounds strange. <p> PS: I'd pay one thousand dollars, literally, to watch the Hoskins-heavy version of Roger Rabbit without the toons.

  • July 24, 2009, 1:21 a.m. CST

    I think someone replaced the real Zemeckis with a

    by lockesbrokenleg

    mo cap one.

  • July 27, 2009, 3:30 p.m. CST

    Huge missed opportunity

    by daggor

    Why not have Christopher Lloyd and Michael J. Fox play roles? I know it would stink of "stunt casting," but Lloyd would be a great Marley, and can hold his own against Carrey for scene stealing and scenery chewing. Michael J. Fox would be a perfect Bob Crachit, and it would be a cool way for him to perform in a film again, period.

  • July 28, 2009, 12:07 a.m. CST

    Can't wait to see this....

    by bandus

    I have to say that I completely trust Zemeckis with what he is doing. Even if you weren't a big fan of Beowulf you can't disagree with how well the 3D was integrated with the story.

  • July 29, 2009, 11:59 a.m. CST

    Christmas Carol: A jaw dropping moment

    by danlquilp

    Actually at least one animated version and one "live" version, the Patrick Stewart one, have Marley's jaw-dropping performance. It is original to Dickens story. "...the spectre, taking off his bandage,as if it were too warm to wear indoors, its lower jaw dropped down upon its breast." Dickens later has Marley re-tie the bandage prior to his exit out Scrooge's window. Scrooge is looking at the floor at the time but he hears the "sharp sound" Marley's teeth make as his jaws are brought together.