Disney continues to throw money at their live-action adaptations of all their classic animated films, and Aladdin is the latest. Unfortunately, judging from this special preview, they might have mucked things up a little.
Now, it’s important to note just how terrible trailers and “special previews” can be. It’s really difficult to gauge how good a film is going to be unless you actually go and see it. Having worked in VFX where it was often all hands to the pumps during trailer time to get work completed so it can be used, I can wholeheartedly sympathise with those working on this film. But alas, Will Smith’s genie just feels .. dead. And blue. Like a dead smurf.
As an example of deceptive trailers, back in 2014, the live action version of Paddington suffered horribly when he first made an appearance on the internet. He looked terrible. He looked.. creepy. Memes were generated in abundance. But people (including myself) absolutely loved the film. I’d even go and say that it’s some of Framestore’s finest work. The second film too is wonderful. I’d never thought I’d say that, but it’s true. Go see Paddington and Paddington 2 (available on Prime Video).
For those of us that remember, ILM did a marvellous job with The Mask, taking Jim Carrey’s character and bending and twisting him into all sorts of madcap characters. Then “Son of the Mask” came along, and it is, without doubt, the worst visual effects I have ever seen in a movie. One can only hope that with Aladdin, ILM have erred on the side of Jim Carrey rather than the sequel.
The rest of the VFX in the Aladdin special preview feels “meh”, like it could have been done by any vendor. Jafarr seems strangely far less malevolent than he was in the original animated film too. Nothing to me in this special preview or the trailer before that makes me think they have done anything special with this other than to plonk live action people amongst animation of a different type. Seems a massive waste of money to me.
The only two live-action Disney remakes that I have been impressed with so far have been:
In the end, however, does it make any difference? This is just a family film aimed at younger kids. And younger kids will watch anything. In fact, Disney could have saved substantial amounts of money and have had the entire film shot with glove puppets, or brightly covered twigs. The kids don’t care. As long as it’s bright, moves around a lot and makes noise, they’re entertained. They’re the ones not going to write up reviews of the film.
I gave up on WordPress.com because I felt I wasn’t getting value for money. Unless I forked out more money than I’m paying now – and annually upfront no less – there was no Google Analytics access and I disliked having to give up the ‘www’ subdomain. Then there are other technical matters which just couldn’t cut the mustard. So I’ve gone back to using CloudFlare, a CDN (content delivery network) and WAF (web application firewall), which sits in front of my VPS (virtual private server) to protect the server and WordPress application. As an added bonus, I was able to enable DNSSEC too.
However, one of the problems I have had with CloudFlare in the past is making it play nicely with WordPress.com’s Jetpack plugin. This provides additional features which are nice to have, but more importantly, allows me to use the WordPress iOS app to create and edit posts on the fly. Very handy if I have my iPad Pro with me and have the urge to write a blog post.
One of my favourite (relatively) new features of CloudFlare is the Firewall. This allows anybody to create a series of rules which grants or denies access to the underlying application. This is a big step up from the simple whitelisting/blacklisting feature which was very limiting and as a simple $20/month Pro subscriber didn’t allow me to block entire countries (a few of which are almost always entirely responsible for attacks and dodgy bots).
To get the Jetpack plugin to work properly, I had to create a brand new rule to allow a series of IPs from Automattic (who make WordPress) to access the blog.
The rules page is very simple:
The /?rest_route= URI was a result of examining the output of the firewall logs. I’ve not seen any other calls from WordPress.com using that URI as yet (but then again, I haven’t used it in anger fully as yet), so it might not be necessary. But certainly WordPress.com will use xmlrpc.php.
Prior to this, whenever I tried to associate Jetpack with WordPress.com, it would fail authentication, refresh the page, seemingly authenticate and that would be it. Nothing else would work. By applying the above firewall rule has made everything work as it should.
Last week I spent the week staying with dad in North East London, commuting to work via the Central and District Lines to Wimbledon instead of enduring the torturous South Western Railway journey from Woking to Wimbledon via Surbiton.
It’s amazing that despite it being the 21st century with all this wonderful technology, we still have to suffer a horrible (and expensive) daily commute.
The experience wasn’t bad, though it does take a while to get to Wimbledon when changing at Mile End. I like the District Line trains because you can walk all the way through them, and they’re big beasts. Even when you’re packed in, it’s not entirely awful. The Central Line, on the other hand, is a nightmare when packed. And it was often packed. I remember heading back to my dad’s place where we were about to pull into Leytonstone but had stopped just outside the station. I didn’t know this, and neither did the people that wanted to get off. The carriage was jampacked, and as soon as we started off again to pull into the station, the force sent me flying into a woman. I hadn’t been holding on to anything because I thought we had stopped and the doors were about to open.
Wimbledon is the black hole of the London/suburbs train network.
I will never understand why Tube trains have to be so full, with people happily (or rather, unhappily) invading other people’s personal space so easily. Given how frequent trains run, it really shouldn’t be a problem to wait a couple more minutes or so for the next one. Or the one after that. If a train were to be involved in a major accident, with a train packed to the brim with passengers is going to potentially see a significant loss of life. It’s amazing that despite it being the 21st century with all this wonderful technology, we still have to suffer a horrible (and expensive) daily commute.
Despite all the crowding of the Tube network during rush hour, there were relatively few problems with the network itself. It was around 8 quid less than I’d be paying to commute from my home to Wimbledon each day, including the buses to and from the Underground station. I did manage to find seating for the majority of the time on the District Line, even if it meant having to wait until Embankment or Earl’s Court. I occasionally got an end carriage seat on the Central Line, but not always.
Over the past year and half in my current job, I’ve found Wimbledon to be the black hole of the London/suburbs train network. So many trains run late to or from Wimbledon, plus there are only a handful of direct routes to Wimbledon from Woking that are convenient for working hours. This is in stark contrast to Guildford which ran regularly, and had very few problems. And before that I cycled or took the bus. Or bussed/walked.