Zemeckis Continues Motion Capture Obsession with 'Airman'
by Ethan Anderton
October 20, 2009
At least Robert Zemeckis will leave the directing to Gil Kenan (Monster House, City of Ember) this time, as Variety reports that ImageMovers and Disney will be producing a $150 million motion capture adaptation of Airman, an action-adventure book by Eoin Colfer. The story centers on Connor, a boy who lives on an island off the coast of Ireland, where his father has the honorable job of protecting the King. But when the King is murdered, Connor is blamed for the crime and thrown into prison where he designs a flying machine that uses to escape. Oh, how I wish all prisoners did that while passing the time during their long sentences.
This continues Zemeckis' undying interest and dedication to motion capture films after adapting three other stories (The Polar Express, Beowulf, and A Christmas Carol most recently) into the computer animated world. And while I respect and in some ways admire his love of the new technology, after three attempts, I'm still not impressed with the motion capture animation in his films. The characters still don't feel real or emotive enough for me to get lost in the story with. The key fault in this blunder is that for some reason Zemeckis and his crew still haven't mastered the ability to create lifelike eyes and not glass balls resembling human eyes. And not to stir the already overflowing hype pot behind James Cameron's Avatar, but the level of motion capture quality in what we've seen of that film is leaps and bounds above any of Zemeckis' film.
On the other hand, maybe that kind of motion capture look has become Zemeckis' unique style, in the same fashion that strange, dark, gothic, circus-like elements and environments are expected of fellow director Tim Burton. Either way, I think motion capture still hasn't reached it's full potential, but I'm hoping Avatar and the upcoming Peter Jackson/Steven Spielberg Adventures of Tintin series will be much bigger steps in the right direction towards the hopeful mastering of this interesting but challenging new technology. Agree?