Saturday, 31 October 2015

Character Project: Expressions Practice

  Halloween is a time of celebration, dress-up and parties. I myself spent a little time this afternoon working on expression ideasfor two of the characters for the character project - the hero, and Nian. As one of the components of a character profile is expressions.

  Nian was a lot of fun to draw this time around, I found there was a lot I could do with those big eyebrows of his to express emotion, The angle of the head also helped convey emotion. I attempted to convey fear in 15 and 16 but I think I got sadness out of 15 instead of fear while 16 conveys it a lot better despite both being attempts at the same facial expression. Faces for the her however, was slightly harder due to the the design I had come up with and the fact he was a somewhat realistic human. Tried stretching it a little with 6 but he feels like a definite zone for improvement. Like with Nian, I think eyebrows are going to be a prominent component in his emotions.

Friday, 30 October 2015

Film Studies: Skyfall

  For a film relevant to an analysis of two conflicting characters I looked at the 2012 James Bond film Skyfall, somewhat convenient I admit now that Spectre is out. Skyfall's story revolves around an element of M's (Judi Dench) past coming back to haunt her through acts of terrorism designed to provoke her. The two characters I will be looking at are Bond (Daniel Craig) himself and Raoul Silva (Javier Bardem), a former double-agent like Bond who turned his back on MI6 after M left him at the mercy of the Chinese many years ago.

  I chose these two because they are mirrors of each other: James Bond is a loyal MI6 agent who is starting to become a relic as international espionage becomes more computerised, needing field agents like him less. While Raoul Silva is the opposite - a rogue MI6 agent and a 00 like Bond who treats technology-backed espionage as the future with a personal vendetta against M.

James Bond

Figure 1: Bond
  • Personal Worldview: As a veteran 00 agent of MI6, Bond has a pessimistic view of the world, most clearly seen in a word-association game he undergoes. His responses to the word "gun" being "tool" and "murder" being "employment", solidifying that to him, his job is as typical as any other more domestic career. But it's something he feels he was meant to do.
  • Inherited World: Traditional Espionage. Bond prefers the old ways of doing things, being physical and collecting hard evidence.
  • Wants: Bond's mind is always on the mission at hand, and when there is a target given to him, the only thing that sticks in his mind is bringing that person in.
  • Needs: To Bond, without MI6 he is nothing. Bond's temporary retirement involves drinking and sleeping with women, but all it takes is news of a bomb attack on MI6 headquarters to send him back to London.
  • Traits: He is merciless, severely determined and apears to enjoy playing mind games with both love interests and enemies. However any mention of the word "Skyfall" tends to silence him as it is something he would rather forget.
  • Flaws: In this film, along with showing signs of falling behind the times, Bond gains a physical impairment in the form of a bum right arm that prevents him from shooting straight
  • Overall Story Arc: Bond's only real goal is to protect M and bring in Silva.
  • Conflicts: Bond is not only battling mentally with Silva, but also trying to keep useful in an age where assassinations and eavesdropping are more commonly done though a computer.
  • Value Change in a Scene: Bond spends most of the film resentful that M nearly killed him, but when M's life is finally ended, he treats a will-bestowed gift (a Union Jack emblazoned china bulldog he found tacky) as a sign she wanted him to keep doing what he does best.

Raoul Silva

Fiure 2: Raoul Silva
  • Personal Worldview: To Silva, the world is his oyster thanks to computers. He also sees himself as something that is inevitable when working for M.
  • Inherited World: Modern Espionage. Silva built up a small criminal empire stealing secrets electronically, hacking, remote sabotage and using the internet as his personal weapon of choice.
  • Wants: For what she did to him, he wants M humiliated before she is killed.
  • Needs: Silva is obsessed with M's humiliation. And wants M to understand his suffering before he fully enacts his revenge.
  • Traits: Externally, Silva is playful, egotistical and with a touch of callousness to him, He feels he can do whatever he wants thanks to how all-pervasive electronics are. Inside however he is horribly broken and desperate for revenge for what M let happen to him.
  • Flaws: Silva has a degree of ego as he appears unaware that part of what forced M to leave him to the Chinese was his own behavior, assuming that he did nothing to make M hate him. He is also shown to be not as physically well-conditioned as Bond, feeling exhausted near to where M is hiding in the finale while Bond moves like he never lost a step.
  • Conflicts: Silva never fights Bond directly. But his ego and his disdain for M are at odds with Bond's patriotism and devotion to the job.
  • Value Change in a Scene: When Silva finally gets within grasping range of M, he effectively breaks into tears. Emotionally strained and desperate for closure he decides that he wishes to die alongside M by sharing a bullet.
  I could have explored the conflict between M and Silva, as within the film there is a lot of focus on M's past catching up to her and an apparent inability to adapt to a post-Cold War world. However I decided to focus on the strong mirror that there was between Bond and Silva.

Thursday, 29 October 2015

Film Studies: The Beast From 20,000 Fathoms

Figure 1: The film's theatrical poster. Which appears
to present the beast as much larger than it was in
the film (Bourne, 2011).
  The Beast from 20,000 Fathoms is a 1953 monster film about a prehistoric dinosaur that is thawed out of the arctic ice and proceeds to terrorise the North American coast. The film is one of the signature projects by stop-motion animator Ray Harryhausen.

  The first thing that signifies Beast as a B-movie aside from the rather action-word heavy and emotionally charged messages on the poster to the right, is that the film was made on a meagre $210,000 (around $1.85 million in today's money (, 2015)). The monster, as a stop-motion creation, tended to change size depending on the scene. During a rampage tohugh New York its height to the top of the head appeared to alternate between 3 and 4 floors. In one scene the monster picks up a car with a guy in it and the camera cuts to a man in a stationary car being horribly shaken. In an earlier scene when the monster eats a fighting shark and octopus, it does so by engulfing them in its mouth by moving away from the audience as its mouth surrounds the two fighting animals. Somewhat giving away that the two sets of creatures were made up of two reels of film.

  The film's story, while gripping, does have its corny points. Dr Thurgood Elson (Cecil Kellaway) gets a good look at the monster but is so amazed at it that he refuses to have his diving bell raised even as the beast opens its mouth and subsequently eats the diving bell. When the monster attacks New York City in the climax, the first person to actually fight back does so with a police-issue revolver. Which quite expectedly does absolutely nothing and the poor cop gets eaten.
Figure 2: The beast tears down its first building, in homage to the story that
inspired it. (Bourne, 2011)
  The film itself was inspired by a short story of the same name by pulp science fiction author Ray Bradbury (of Farenheit 451 fame), which involved a sea monster attacking a lighthouse (Lauer, Suduiko, 2012), a scene that exists within the film. While the short story has the beast destroying the tower out of anger for being tricked, the monster in the film appears to destroy the tower as a random act of destruction.
Figure 3: The Redosaurus knocks down a building in New York. (Deniz, 2011)
  As I said the film is not a bad B movie. The budget was low enough that Ray Harryhausen had to do all the animation work himself (Harryhausen, 2013) and despite this the animation was considered revolutionary for its time and holds up rather well. The dialogue, while it does have a few off moments, is fairly believable - part of the skepticism of the idea of this monster being alive is that there had beenno evidence for anything surviving being flash-frozen - and the method of downing the monster is rather intelligent. There is a plot element that explains why the monster cannot be killed with conventional methods and the solution avoids a cliche of some monster films where science is bad. The film does go some way to explain monster's mindset and attack patterns, with the chain of attacks creating a believable indicator that it is travelling down the American East Coast.

Figure 4: Considering the film's budget, I'd forgive the production team if
these cars were in fact toys.
  The dinosaur's plausability also holds up compared with both predecessors and contemporaries despite its fictional nature. At the time of filming there was thought to be little distinction between a dinosaur and a reptile, and the thought at the time was that like crocodiles or snakes, dinosaurs were cold-blooded. However recent research has suggested that dinosaurs may in fact have been warm-blooded (Viegas, 2015), which makes the monster's activeness in the arctic and in Canadian coastal waters plausable.

  The film has held up well enough that the Rhedosaurus (the monster dinosaur in the film) inspired the monster movie genre and is seen as either the father or the cousin to Gojira, quite possibly one of the most famous movie monsters in history.


Image References

Character Project: Developing One of the Strangers

  Today I decided to make progress with the character project. I've narrowed down the hero silhouette to flesh out for the final character bible to a warrior wearing a conical straw hat and wielding a bo-staff. I decided to experiment with  variations of how the armour and clothing were worn. The key thing I wanted to keep in mind while making the outlines is that the character is a wanderer, so his outfit would likely be an assortment of things he has bought or collected. With this in mind, I might keep away from the more soldier-like outfits (1, 6, 4 and 5) but perhaps the hero does wear at least a little armour to protect himself from bandit or wild animal attcks.

  When it came to the face I liked the style I had discovered when making the body outlines. And I tihnk it has helped in hilighting the core features of the face. WHen it came to a hairstyle my research suggested that among men there wasn't that much variation - many men in ancient China went for tying their hair in a bun on the tops of their heads, while facial hair often had a wispy quality to it.

  The style for the eyes were inspired by one of the Chinese artworks I had discovered during my research, which poretrayed two men in the middle of discussion. 1 and 5 attract me the most. Though I might do some exploration involving scars - if this wanderer is connected to Nian or the Sha, it's possible or perhaps likely he's had a few scrapes with them in the past. Confronting such a beast as Nian is unlikely to avoid some sort of struggle. So I might look into some facial markings later on.

Wednesday, 28 October 2015

Maya Tutorials: Final Stages of Head Modelling

  After several weeks the head is finally complete. The next stage after this is the body. In one sitting I managed to finish the hair, make the eyebrows and the eyeballs.

Tuesday, 27 October 2015

Character Workshop: Environments and Some Previous Work

 Today's character workshop focused primarily on environments. How just like characters they can be defined by shapes, angles, lighting, mood and appearance. And can be just as crucial to telling a story as the characters that inhabit it, who are useful for conveying a sense of place.

  The workshop task was to design an environment (in the form of some sort of residence) that would fit a particular character. I was given Halo's Master-Chief. And my first thoughts were towards something industrial. But as Justin pointed out his armour also bears a huge number of more organic shapes. Nothing as extreme as Covenant armour or designs (which is all curves) and he suggested some components of his armour could be structures in their own right.

  So the first two were based on this idea he'd live something industrial, prefabricated. A military outposts that could look like it was dropped from space via an orbiter.

  Unfortunately I found they came out rather generic and not that serious. So I looked again at the components of Master Chief's armour.

  I feel much happier with this base than I did with the first two. There's a lot more going on and it feels more fitting with the Master Chief himself.

  The rounding-off task that was set near the end of the lesson was to make a scene out of two randomly-chosen words. The words given to me were "decadent tavern", which got me thinking a little. I ended up imagining a place of garish opulence filled with patrons who cared primarily about themselves or enjoying the moment. So a lot of fancy costumes,  sharing of drinks or all-round pleasure seeking. Stuff that more upstanding people may question. The narrative behind it is this could be a place where the protagonist of the story where this tavern is used is a place of temptation and danger. They are in the belly of corruption, so to speak, a dangerous place where if you are nto careful you could lose yourself forever.

  These drawings should have been uploaded last week. They were of a task where three of us were given a premise to a setting and our job was to draw three characters, one for each person, for that setting. The story my group got was about snake-based South American Vampire lords who had enslaved humanity. I decided to have a go at drawing the vampires, going though a few ideas like them being hybrids of snakes.

  One idea I had during the process was that vampire bosses could have some "super" form that could be used for boss battles. Which turned out a couple of interesting ideas.

Monday, 26 October 2015

Narrative Project: First Script

  So here I have an initial script idea for the group project based on our current storyboard. If we go by the rule of thumb that one page is equivalent to one minute of screentime, then we are in line with the two-minute mark. But that timing also depends on how we pace ourselves in constructing the animation itself. Something that will be worked out when making the animatic.

Sunday, 25 October 2015

Narrative Project: Storyboard Development

  Over the weekend I have attempted to drum up a new storyboard for the narrative project. It was felt that the last idea didn't feel entirely complete an idea.

  This took two revisions as there was some discussion over how expressive we should be making our fish. I feel I can work with primarily the eyes however when version 4.1 was discussed I was told that the fish was too expressive. This was the purpose of 4.2, to pare down the emotion so that the real focus is the eyes and perhaps the body language. Hopefully 4.2 is on the right course because I worry about the possibility of this project entering development hell over what expressions the character should be conveying.

  I had worked late on version 4.1 which is why it is lacking in text and posessing a few arrangement anomalies, both of which were resolved for storyboard version 4.2

Friday, 23 October 2015

Character Project: Preliminary Biographies

  I took some time today to work on the biographies of the characters I will include in my character project. The brief calls for three characters and I will work on the bio for my adventurer(s) once I get more fleshed out appearances for them. But an alternate second character would be the Sha, bad spirits that spread negativity wherever they go. And would serve as minor antagonists for the players.

Nian, shadow lord of the winter’s end.


  Nian is an ancient spirit of the wilderness. Every spring marks his brief emergence from the shadow realm, where for one night he descends upon the people of China, starving and eager for the taste of living flesh. He is not particular towards either animals or humans, he hungers for both.

  Nian is an embodiment of things ending: Of life, and of time. Things that represent time running out or death empower him. Implements of death and tragedy such as knives, blades and spears merely shatter upon his body and for this reason he has been considered unstoppable. While considered this, even he has his vulnerabilities. Things that embody life and continuation frighten him and drive him away.

  As a spirit beast, Nian relies on his own body to defend himself. Mortal weapons cannot hurt him and when he has to fight, he has large, sharp claws on each foot and a bountiful set of large teeth. His smoky mane can serve to aid him in hunting, either obscuring him or providing an environment that renders his prey completely helpless as he closes in.



  The Sha are the inhabitants of the Shadow Realm. A twisted, a negative representation of the real world. To most people the Sha are invisible, their primary interaction with the real world being their involvement in the manifestation of misfortune or negativity.

  As spirits of negativity, Sha are drawn and emboldened by negative feelings or foreboding feelings, but repulsed by positivity and life. Lesser Sha will be desperate to counteract this positivity, but they are all repulsed upon the sight of their own appearance and powerful presences of positive energy. 

Forge Studios Logo Design Progress

  This morning I spent a little time investigating font styles for the studio's logo. It would be nice to make this shiny and embossed, like something made out of cast iron. But before we get to that phase we first need to work out the font we are using.

  The one thing we could agree on was our O would be a diamond with a furnace or fire in the middle. This served as the basis of what fonts would suit our style as the various fonts would have to compliment the shape.

  I have investigated various thicknesses and degrees of condensing, as well as looking to see if our style suits a thick heavy blocky font or something more carved and refined. The last two I experimented with the diamond being larger than the font to see if it could fit. 

Thursday, 22 October 2015

Maya Workshop: Posing.

Today's Maya workshop lesson involved posing in relation to an established pose. We were to pick either a "before" or "after" moment to accompany a pose that had been referenced from the internet. Due to Maya playing up I only managed to create two initial poses.

So the afternoon was spent both posing accompanying poses and finishing off the five I needed to reference. I then placed the poses in sequential order to which they would come (either before and after) for easy recognition.

  And here are the references I used. One thing I discovered for 1, 4 and 5 is the head (the model's head is pretty large) can detrimentally affect the silhouette as behind-the-head poses get lost.

  I had so much fun with the task, here's the model from a different angle that I caught while posing.

Wednesday, 21 October 2015

Maya Tutorials: Character Neck and Hair

  For the past couple of days I have attempted to push though with the Maya character tutorials. I feel confident with how much I have managed to do tonight though I ran out of steam not too far from finishing the head. That'll be something for tomorrow night.

Tuesday, 20 October 2015

Character Project: Lion Appearance testing

  With a few concepts down I decided to draw up some appearance concepts. I've largely kept the design simple and wanted to keep a couple of details consistent such as the use of black and white, a strk eye and some markings that hilight the features of the face. I was drawn a little to covering him in patterns to contrast the core of the body and follow on the swirling patterns that are the beast's hair.

  Originally I had considered a black smoke mane but I am torn now that I see how intense a white mane looks on a black (or dark) body. I think bce blue eyes give the impression that this creature is a negative, that it is a mirror to the colour of the rest of the world. It's definitely going to stand out in a world of vivid greens, browns, dark blues and reds.

Monday, 19 October 2015

Character Project: Nian Design Elements

  After doing some work on the adventurers I decided to look back at Nian, the monster lion spirit that is the central antagonist of the game. I took into account what Justin said about shape. This is a powerful, monstrous, spiteful creature so I thought to myself that the design needs to have a lot of squares and triangles to accentuate the creature's strength and hatefulness. I looked back on how the mane could be represented as an artistic form of smoke to either make it seem more frightening or link it to the Sha. I also looked into how I could make the eyes terrifying. In colour I imagine them to be quite bold, golden or silver. But I wanted eyes that would chill a viewer but also link with the elements of the character. So as well as detail around the eyes I also looked into how I could make the pupil intimidating; spirals, concentric circles and even a 4-point star.

  Just to see how it would fit with the rest of the character I did a little experimentation with a forked tongue. 3 is not to bad but I think I exaggerated the tongue too much on 4. The more chaotic manes (11, 4 and 10 for instance) I think make the creature look more threatening whereas the orderly nature of 21 makes him look regal rather than imposing.

Character Project: More Outlines

  I created these outlines on Friday. Back when I made them I planned to do more after returning home from working late at the university however when I sat down to work I think I had gotten myself to work late enough. The difference between 1 and 2 are why despite the appeal of a flowing red cape, everyone lacks them. The addition of a cloak just obliterates  the detail of a character's form. It can also make poses much harder to discern.

  I myself am drawn to 4, 10, 9 and 12. Though I do also like what I made 12 do with his hands. I think it gives him a mystic quirkiness. 10 might be the weakest design of these selected though. He seems a little too "generic soldier hero" like.

Narrative Project: Another Storyboard

  After consulting with the group on the last version of the storyboard, we felt that the fish was too clumsy and the first one's story was a long adventure of him haplessly crashing into things. I looked back on what I had done and decided to rework the second half was well as move around some of the cuts of when the two narratives would switch.

  The sequence in the middle where both fish struggle to shake off the stuff that sticks on them. Is it good or bad that they are the same? Is it too repetitive or does it hint that both fish are heading down the same disastrous path?

Friday, 16 October 2015

Narrative Project: New Prototype Storyboard

  The narrative group had to restructure the story due to a lack of strength in our previous idea. But this idea might be a little more solid. It's not perfected, and some refinement over the weekend could really polish it up. One possible aim is to get the story ready for constructing the pre-vis by the coming week so that we can get to the construction of the animation proper.

  Our deadline is early December, which doesn't feel that far away when construction and final rendering has to be taken into account.

Wednesday, 14 October 2015

Maya Tutorials: The Neck

  Tried pushing on with the construction of the head. I hoped to work with the throat but after more correction on the mesh this took longer than I thought and I think this will be it for tonight.

Character Project: Adventurer Outlines

  I made a start on some outlines for possible hero characters for my character project. I'm still getting the odd feel of genericism from a couple of them but some of them like 8, 10, 12 and 3 I an drawn to continuing further.

  Paring back detail to outlines feels really good for getting a rough feel for a character. While I have discussed giving the adventurers cloaks, I feel that adding such to the outline would either defeat the point of the exercise or make it more difficult to spot design ideas.

  I might look into more dynamic poses and I'm wondering about a mix-and-match approach later. So this is something of a startup sheet.

Tuesday, 13 October 2015

Character Project: Developing The Major Characters

  I attempted some drawings to flesh out Nian's design. However upon reflection I think I am heading for something too generic, something too mush like my source material. A sit turns out this creature is placed in front of Chinese temples and old places of government because at some point it was tamed and made a guardian of sacred spaces. I received some positive feedback on Twitter over the weekend that was positive for my Sha designs. Although they may not appear in the final character bible as they are extras essentially.

  I also think I've ended up seriously messing up the monster's mane. Justin, our character lecturer, suggested I looked at something wispy and flowing (14) which related to my Sha ideas. I needed something fierce, predatory, monstrous. A mane of black smoke is a start.

  What I was advised about though was to focus on the wanderers that would be the characters used by the player. And it was suggested by Justin that they could be related to elements. While fire, air, earth and water are certainly go-to elements, I went back to mythology to discover the Five Elements, which fortunately had their own properties in Chinese mysticism relating to personalities.

  • Wood - Benevolence
  • Fire - Power, bravery
  • Metal - longevity, foretelling events to come, righteousness
  • Water - Talent, wisdom
  • Earth - Honesty, status
  I consider these words a good foundation, but I might avoid being too literal with them. The water adventurer for instance could be a sorcerer or a trickster while the earth adventurer could be this big, broad hearty fellow who looks like he enjoys being true as much as he does a nice slab of pork.

  These elements could be reflected in their tools too; perhaps a quarterstaff for the wood adventurer, a sword for the fire adventurer, a hammer for the metal adventurer, a bow for the water adventurer and a spear for the earth adventurer. These are initial thoughts though.

I have four adventurers and five elements. Either I devise a fifth character or I stick with wood, fire, water and earth. It also means more work, the game would cater for a maximum five heroic players rather than four and more drawing.

Character and Game Workshop: Shadows, Pandas and Foxes

Character Design

  Today's character workshop was about key points in a character: colour, theme, shapes and emotion. We were set two tasks over the session. The first was to take an established character that we were each assigned and rework them to fit with one of the cards we were given for the character project. The second was to draw silhouettes of a given character archetype in order to get the hang of character outlines. 
  For the first task I was given Fox McCloud. The card I had that stood out most for me was "collecting". I had a bit of flexibility as Fox is cast as your typical brave and confident hero. So I took the word and decided to draw him as a scavenger. Who would travel the galaxy collecting parts for the Arwing or trinkets that interested him. I think what I have came off rather well, the other thing that changed thematically was that as a scavenger he's probably be a bit dirtier and scruffier than the real Fox McCloud.
  I had a bit of time left on the task so I decided to have a go at fitting him into the "numeracy" theme. This one was a little trickier to pull off, I first thought of other words that related like "logic" and "scientist" but decided to have a go at drawing him as a cyborg. I don't think this one turned out as well as Scavenger Fox because looking at it now, he looks more like Wolf O'Donnel so the character's essence is therefore lost.
  With the second task I was assigned the archetype of Ninja and I generally had fun with this. I got the hang of outlines and I had the most fun defining the flow of the body and in some cases the body shape. The one thing that was suggested to me however was that the forms were too similar to each other so what I have is 13 outlines of possibly the same individual.

Games Workshop

  Soon after the character design workshop Justin (our lecturer) broke out the board and card games. I spent the evening in a group of five led by Justin that included me, Vlad, Lewis and Andy. The first game we played was Takenoko, a game where the task was to collectively construct and manage a bamboo garden of an Asian emperor while completing three types of task: Grow bamboo stalks, create garden layouts and feed the resident giant panda said bamboo.

  The thing I loved most about the game was the sense of cooperation and competition. We were all building one garden but we were competing for the highest score. Vlad won the game, achieving enough tasks to trigger endgame and I came a few points behind in second place. But the intrigue going on was so engrossing that I didn't mind that I came second. I was able to get some good-scoring tasks done especially late into the game.

  The second game was Revenge Of The B-Movie, a rapid-fire but hilarious card game where we were all (again) competing and cooperating to see who could make the best B movie names. Some of the names we were devising were hilariously silly like "Day of the Alien Priest Woman" (one of mine) or "[something] and the 50 Foot Lawyer From Down the Road" (one of Lewis's). Once again I came second, with Justin winning the game. It was an exiting game that reminded me a little of Cards Against Humanity by the way people play for laughs in a way that is either wholeheartedly funny, or so bad its good (Justin proposed that a rule where movies that fell into that category got bonus points).

Monday, 12 October 2015

Narrative and Structure: Total Recall

Figure 1: Theatrical poster (IMDb, 2012)
  For the analysis into narrative and structure I looked into the 2012 remake of the 1990 science fiction film Total Recall. In the film, factory worker Douglas Quaid (Colin Farrell), bored with his life and being haunted by strange dreams, decides to visit Rekall, a business that offers the promise of providing fantasy memories of whatever you like. Quaid's visit to Rekall leads him on a tense journey though an overcrowded post-apocalyptic United Kingdom to get answers as to who he really is.

  Act One starts off with a literary exposition describing a world where a global chemical war has devastated most of the globe save for Europe (now the United Federation of Britain or UFB) and Australia (The Colony). The exposition act shows how Douglas Quaid lives a tiring life of the same routine.

  The Inciting Incident is Douglas's visit to Rekall. Immediately as the chemicals that would give him his fantasy of a super-spy enter his bloodstream he is accused by Rekall's manager (John Cho) of being a spy and everyone but Doug is shot dead by the sudden arrival of UFB soldiers. Plot Point One comes shortly after Lori Quaid (Kate Beckinsale), Doug's wife turns out to be a UFB undercover agent who then tries to kill him. Charles Hammond, an apparent friend, tells him to open a particular safety deposit box at a bank that will give him answers after Doug escapes Lori.

  Much of Act Two focuses on Doug as he tries to unravel who he is while Lori and the UFB chase him down. The Midpoint of the film is after Doug explores an apartment he apparently used to own, where a recording of himself explains everything. Not long after there is a tense scene where a friend of Doug's (Bokeem Woodbine) explains he's still in Rekall and has to wake up or risks losing himself in his fantasy.

  Plot Point Two comes after Doug and his partner Melina (Jessica Biel) evade Lori once again and travel to meet Matthias Lair (Bill Nighy) who can give him the answers he needs and the motivation to stop chancellor Cohaagen's (Bryan Cranston) plan of leveling the Colony. 

  Act Three begins when this discussion is interrupted by Cohaagen himself who assults the base, setting off the Climax as his assault culminates in strapping Doug to a chair like the one in Rekall and plans to inject him with a serum that will convert him into his former identity minus the betrayal. After he leaves for The Fall (the primary connection between the UFB and The Colony), Charles Hammond cuts Doug loose from the chair and allows him to escape. Much of Act 3 revolves around fighting to destroy The Fall, which contains the army Cohaagen planned to use against The Colony.

  After Cohaagen is killed in the explosion that destroys The Fall, Doug wakes up in a medical unit to see Melina. Who is in fact his wife in disguise. When Doug realises he kills her and thows her body out of the ambulance that saved him.

  The film's Ending at first glance appears to be a classic partial ending: Doug is a hero, he has the girl, they both look out to the sunrise and The Colony is celebrating its first act in becoming an independent nation. The one big thing that makes this film have an open ending however is one question: Did the events of the film actually happen? Did the film end within Doug's fantasy? In the midpoint Doug's friend Harry appears between him and an army of UFB armed response soldiers explaining that he's running the risk of losing himself in the fantasy, acting like he's fully aware of the mechanics of the fantasy while Melina is screaming that it's all a UFB trick. So the question is raised if shooting Harry was a point-of-no-return. Or was Rekall's manager right that Doug was in fact as spy as he changed his tune right as the chemicals entered Doug's bloodstream.

  These questions likely stem from one moment: there is no cinematic change between the moments before and after the manager is aware of Doug being a super-spy. The way the shot is assembled it is as though, out of the blue, the manager of Rekall realises his checks missed something out. We are treated to a series of voices after the explosion of The Fall, memories about what was said about memories and Rekall as Doug wakes up in an ambulance. All seems like it might be real until Melina (who Doug had no idea of outside his dreams) appears beside him, but it turns out to be his homicidal wife and Melina is outside.

Image References

  • Figure 1: IMDb, 2012; [Theatrical Poster]; Total Recall (2012) Poster; available at (last accessed 13th October 2015)