Grunting at the Screen (234)

27 Jun





The information age isn’t finished with us.



Jel much? OK?

John Landis has joined a parade of directors laying into Marvel Studio’s product. Now just assuming the journalist hasn’t been putting words into the interviewee’s mouth, what are we to make of it?

Landis is claiming he’s bored and Marvel movies are interchangeable films about city destruction.


You know I’m not going to address the criticism. You can decide that for yourself.

I’d like to look at the trend:

Mel Gibson ripped into them, Tim Burton claimed they had a formula, Oliver Stone attacked them for their fantasy violence. Peter Jackson crowed that he will never make a Marvel Movie. Steven Spielberg darkly predicted the death of the Comic Book Movie. They pretty much lined up to kick Marvel’s ass.

What unites this august group* is, not only are they directors of stature… but they haven’t directed a Marvel movie.

I’ve no evidence they have even been asked.

Hme. Jel Much?

After The Incredible Hulk, Marvel didn’t use Action oriented directors, and it didn’t use the name directors. Marvel films have been helmed by directors from television, the independent film world, directors who deal in character rather than explosions. And it has worked. While blockbuster Science Fiction has had a variable reception, even in the world of established franchises, Marvel has hit it out of the park with every film from Iron Man onward, it has taken unknown actors and made them superstars, and made hitmakers out of its directors.

How could we not expect a reaction from the old guard because this turns established order on its head; there is no slow march from obscurity to respectability, instead new stars are appearing in our night-skies like supernovae. And the Old Gods are afraid.


(Actually, and I’m showing my cynical side here, they likely have nothing to fear, Disney is making noises that it is bringing its lucrative, if unruly child to heel: future Marvel movies will have more star performers in them, and I don’t doubt this will be followed with star directors and the golden age of Marvel movies will have come to an end.)



We keep files on a lot of kickstarted projects and to be honest many of them fail to come to fruition.

One that I doing quite nicely is Code 8 which we covered back in… ah, let’s start this again.

Although we keep files on kickstarted projects I have doubts that any particular one will go the distance.

Code 8 was one of them.

4% of people have a supernatural ability. This does not make them superheroes, just an underclass subject to 60% of arrests. Robbie Amell one of these “specials” he has a sick mother and is forced into a life of (no doubt supernatural) crime to support her.




It kicked off back in 2016; actors and cousins Stephen Amell (Arrow) and Robbie Amell (Tomorrow People) got together to make a very professionally produced teaser video for a feature film project. It was directed by Jeff Chan.

We’ve seen the trailer and it looks like mutants vs. robots.




They ran an effective marketing campaign highlighting the mysterious nature of the trailer.


This culminated in a successful crowdfunding project that raised $1.7m using


Now the film has been greenlit and it is in production in Toronto; Jeff Chan is directing from a script he co-wrote with Chris Pare.


It has a distribution deal and is looking at 2019 release.




This one snuck up on me: The Gracefield Incident.

Those pesky aliens have invaded again; they have forgone the usual pleasure of demolishing landmarks to invade a weekend getaway party in a mountain cabin.

The unique selling point of this particular fest is one of the partyers has embedded a videocamera in his eye and is filming the whole invasion.

Oh dear, another found footage movie.

This one is written, directed by and starring Mathieu Ratthe.

It gets a limited theatrical release and goes on demand on July 21, 2017



Gearbox Software is planning a Duke Nukem feature film. I never played the game myself, but a friend of mine used to have a big old smile when he did.

Gearbox is working with production houses to put together a deal before making an announcement.

So no word on: director, writer, schedule or cast yet.

Hme. Not as “groovy” as I anticipated.




We mentioned Kill Switch back in Grunt (230) and Grunt (231).

It should be released by now.

The basic story is that an energy project goes wrong and opens the door to a parallel world.

But more information has come to light.

First of all it is a one shot movie; i.e. it is one continuous shot. Second it is all shpt from the stars point of view (not new, we’ve had things like hardcore Henry) But what caught my attention was that the director, Tim Smit, shot the whole thing in four days. Huh? No wait it was 18 days. (He shot the principle actor for four days) but just over two weeks for a feature film is still pretty good. Then he did most of the FX on his home computer. (That took two years.)

It just got interesting.

The last time we were in this territory was with GE’s Monsters; which was interesting.

It was kind of an expansion of Smit’s short film “What’s in the Box?” and strangely no no-one is calling him “the next Neill Blomkamp”.

Tim Smit is working on his second feature.



I read a story that by 2020 Netflix’s earnings in the UK will exceed that of the local entire film industry.


I heard a story that on Oscar Wilde’s deathbed he was begged to repudiate the devil and all his works, his reply was; “Now is not the time to be making enemies”.

I’d give the same advice to the cinematic distribution industry. These are dark days, and the reaction of distributors to the streaming networks has been push back**. They are playing hardball with Netflix over simultaneous streaming and cinematic releases.

But now, when so much is in the balance is not the time to make enemies. Cinemas offer a unique experience, home theatre offers connivance they will work together or one will eat the other. Right now Streaming media has a big mouth and a big belly to feed. It is already pouring cash into making its own product, if cinemas won’t show it why shouldn’t they just buy their own distributors, but their own cinema chains? Studios have owned chains before and soon from now Netflix and Amazon may be the biggest players around.



This seems to have entirely slipped my attention, massively since it is now being reviewed on a major newspaper site.

OtherLife comes out of Australia: OtherLife takes the user to a Virtual Reality which can be experienced though all of the body’s senses, where minutes can expand into subjective years, creator Ren Amari originally pitched it as the ultimate recreation, the government steps in with a proposal to make it a virtual prison,

when Ren finds herself trapped in an experimental digital supermax, she must use all of her resources to mentally survive and get back to reality.

It comes from director Ben C. Lucas.

it is based the Young Adult novel Solitaire by Kelley Eskridge but it has numerous changes from the original, not limited to the central character and the setting.

It just got an Australian release, no word on a wider distribution.




It’s been a good week for me, just turned up is Jahmil XT Qubeka’s Stillborn.

it’s about a robot obsessed with her human ancestry.

None of that sentence makes sense. A gendered robot, with a lineage, which is human, and it is concerned with the whole shebang.

However what everyone is keyed up about is that it comes out of South Africa and has been filmed in the Xhosa language.

It is in the can, and just got selected for the BRICS Film Festival at Chengdu, China. More as we get developments.




OK, we have a release date for Overlord (WWII Paratroopers verses supernatural forces – Grunting 223), it’s October 26th 2018.



Well this is interesting.

Science Fiction Author William Gibson just re-tweeted the Japanese trailer for “2307: Winter’s Dream.

Hme. We blogged this back in Grunt (204) – and I recall we were not very kind.

Here is the trailer, sorry to say, not the Japanese version.


Given so august a patronage we went back and checked if the reviews were more generous than originally thought… nope, still sucks.


So, Mr. Gibson, I’ll “see”*** your straight-to-video cheapy and raise you one Filipino Near- Future social drama.

Just ran into Instalado, directed by Jason Paul Laxamana and starring Mccoy de Leon

Victor is a poor farmer who’d like to advance in life through education, problem is education is archived only by implants called “installation”, and that costs money.

It opens in the Philippines July 12.





André Hedetoft, Swedish director of Origin and the forthcoming Finns Här Några Snälla Barn (I’m not going to explain that) has another project going on, it’s Space Pirates; three young girls scattered across the galaxy discover they are the daughters of notorious space pirates and they each have part of a map to a legendary treasure.

He intends to make it a graphic novel first.

No word of schedule.












*this august group and Roland Emmerich.

** I love that term? Don’t you?

*** No, I don’t think I’ll actually watch it.



I’m Jack Eris and if you know me, you know Jack.

Grunting at the Screen (233)

17 Jun

The information age isn’t finished with us.


Biopunk snuck past me, it has already got a trailer before I knew it was in production.

What we know: well it not cyberpunk obviously. We have a summary. The world has been devastated by a virus, leaving some people as Altered (capital letter),

this new underclass has been relegated to the ghettos, when an Altered named Resha discovers her brother kidnapped she must venture beyond the city to find him before he is turned into a weapon (oh, that kind of Altered).

Here is the trailer;


The reason this slipped beneath my radar was likely that it was Kickstarted and so many of those projects end up languishing. What we don’t know is if this just the Kickstarter concept trailer or if they have actually done some principle photography.

It is directed by Liam Garvo.

No release information.


WTF? Filming has wrapped on Terry Gilliam’s The Man Who Killed Don Quixote. Yes, Seventeen years in the making the film that would not die and yet struggled to live is in the can

I didn’t report on it because, well like many other people, I had totally lost faith. I never thought he’d finish it.

Adam Driver and Jonathan Pryce are starring, screenplay is by Gilliam and Tony Grisoni. And they got some of that sweet, sweet streaming cash from Amazon Studios.

No word on the release date.


What’s Neill Blomkamp doing? Update

Blomkamp has given an interview with the Verge and he is clarifying his future plans…

He is indeed proceeding with Oats Studio, his personal production facility, it is an all-service studio developing scripts, creating physical effects, digital effects, casting and filming.

Interesting thing is that it is not focussed on features, or even necessarily on traditional short films. He wants to produce sketches; visual ideas which may form the basis for future shorts or features. Yes there will be short films, in fact Oats studio will launch with at least one, but it will publish fragments of footage and even digital files for fans to recut, re-render and turn into their own versions. This explains why Blomkamp chose to release Oats through Steam.

The second Oats trailer is more interesting:



In the meantime he has not given up on making feature films, he is still working on adapting Thomas Sweterlitsch’s novel The Gone World. Sweterlitsch is writing the screenplay and Fox is apparently still interested in making it.


Of course the world is still interested in a sequel to his debut feature District 9, and yes, he is interest in making one; just not right now.



Breaking news.

Neill Blomkamp’s Oats Studios has released its first product.

Rakka, an alien invasion short.

I have had a little peek, it is set in Blomkamp’s usual “scuzzyverse”: you know the same location as District 9, Elysium and Chappie; decaying housing, dust, and detritus.

I have to apologise if I suggested that it might be a rip-off…er loving homage to Alien. No, it’s a Terminator rip off, with tarry lizard aliens instead of unstoppable killer robots. I have some strong evocations of the future war sequences of the first Terminator; humans living in squalor while learning to fight an implacable enemy who outguns them.

Oats Studios is supposed to be the place where Blomkamp explores the more experimental side. I have to say Rakka is on the less experimental end of “experimental”, it’s a new-ish take on the Alien Invasion trope.

That’s OK, even pioneers need to make money.




We’ve been covering Tommy Wirkola’s Seven Sisters for some time.

Some are calling it cyberpunk. Hme, not according to its summary.

Maybe the poster is giving people ideas,

Anyway it has a release date… in France!

In the rest of the world it is anyone’s guess.

Seven Sisters will open in France in August.

What the heck, here’s a trailer.

Looks like a generic near-future setting to me.



We are hearing about South Korean science-fiction film “A Day”; a man becomes stuck in a time-loop while trying to save his daughter.

Director is Cho Sun-ho.

It gets a Korean release on June 15.

No international release information as of yet.




Now here’s an interesting thing; Happy Death Day. It’s labelled horror but is actually something very familiar to us.

A college student relives the day of her death noticing every detail until she can identify her killer.

Yes, it is another time–loop thriller and these come in all flavours and budgets. The sub-genre has most recently been identified with Edge of Tomorrow and Source Code.

Director is Christopher Landon who co-wrote it with Scott Lobdell, Oh yes, it is a Blumhouse film.

Due for release October 13, 2017


We’ve been covering Wesley Snipes’ Final Recall ever since Grunting (204), of course back then it was called The Recall; it is the standard ‘cabin by the lake’ scenario: five young people go to a cabin by the lake (now why would they do that?) of course this does not go too well for them.

In this case it is not a blade-wielding maniac that does for them but an alien invasion.

Well we now have a release it will be available for digital download from August 14th, and then on disk from the 21st.



Something interesting is happening with Bong Joon-ho’s Okja. Korean cinema chains are banning it.

Because Netflix plans to release the film simultaneously on streaming and theatrical formats, distributors are afraid it will not make much in the way of box office.

This is a problem Netflix have come up against before with Beast of No nation. But this time it is with one of Korea’s biggest and most respected film makers.

It bodes ill for future Netflix theatrical ventures.



Do you watch web video? I don’t watch web video. You know anyone who does? Actually I don’t really want to know. But I was looking at my file with the web series documents in it and I couldn’t remember anything about them, I certainly hadn’t seen any of them. OK, there is web video I go after aggressively and it is Adam Savage’s Tested clips on YouTube. I’ve linked a couple of them on Grunt, but I actually watch many more, I like to watch him making things. Anyway my point is, if you are a film maker who wanted to transition into Television or a theatrical release the last place you would go is a Web series. Heck even those short film guess have better luck. Hell, even if you make video games you have a better chance of making a feature film…









I’m Jack Eris and if you know me, you know Jack.






And if you want some real movie news you know what to do.


And if you want to walk the wild side of genre video, try Starburst’s review section

Grunting at the Screen (232)

5 Jun




The information age isn’t finished with us.


Although Wonder Woman is here the film they are banging the drum for is Valerian. They are dropping TV spots like it is hot.


Even now I think the trailers look spectacular. They just dropped the last trailer;



But something occurred to me, it looked familiar. You know what it looked it? It looked like the Phantom Menace from 1999.


Oh dear.

The release date remains July 21st.

Nevertheless reviews are coming out for Wonder Woman and the broad verdict is positive, in fact it may be the most welcomed DC movie in a while.


Everyone is going to war. Christopher Nolan is going to Dunkirk Ridley Scott is fighting the Battle of Britain and now Roland Emmerich is going to the battle of Midway.

Now this has already been made into a film, but I doubt Emmerich has seen it.

Script is by Wes Tooke, and there is a significant amount of Chinese money being invested.

Let’s just hope it is better than Michael Bay’s Pearl Harbour.








They are calling ‘Dream Breaker’ cyberpunk. We doubt it, but let’s see what we know for sure.

It is Chinese, a feature film directed by Han Yan: “young woman who must fight her way through a mysterious, holographic game world designed by her late father to avenge his death”

I’m non-committal; when I find some reviews, I’ll get back to you.

They are shooting for a release in the autumn 2017.




Rupert Wyatt’s alien invasion feature, Captive State, now has a release date August 17, 2018.




So we now have a little idea of what Neill Blomkamp is doing.


Hme. Not what we expected. You know what it looks like? This looks like the Aliens project he was forced to abandon. Except instead of insectoid aliens we have reptilian aliens, instead of space we have them on earth. Having seen Blomkamp’s earlier features I was hoping for something… not so easily categorised.

I can’t help thinking if Ridley Scott had delivered this the reaction would have been a collective yawn.

But hey, the internet is all excited.

Maybe the full short film will surprise us.




Check this one out. Revolt, a film by Joe Miale, the general Alien invasion scenario, and the aliens have bad CG robots. The Unique selling point is that this one is based in Africa.

They are trying to get a distributor for it, once it has a release date I’ll get back to you.

We have to stretch out this post so here is trailer;




Takeshi Miike The master of the Anime to Live Action form* has struck again: JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure: Diamond Is Unbreakable is to premiere at the Neuchatel International Fantastic Film Festival. (Actually Jojo’s comes straight from the manga without touching an anime adaptation on the way down.

The manga is based around the Joestar family, guardians of the Ripple martial art and fighters of supernatural menaces.


No release date yet.




Wonder Woman



So you know the story; Amazon princess on the island of Themyscira lives an idyllic life of warrior training among the other women when the outside world rudely intrudes in the form of American pilot, hotly pursued by German sailors.

Said American brings word of a terrible war in the outside world, the slaughter of millions.

To Diana this can only mean the return of the War God Ares, ancient enemy of the Amazonians.

She determines to leave the island of her birth, seek out Ares and put an end to his evil works.


As a film this is very watchable.

Gal Gadot is fair actor despite her single expression is the one women so seldom give to me.

Chris Pine does his best Chris Evans impression and that is not the only thing this movie shares with Captain America.


The story is simple and efficient, the action and effects well handled.


It is an entertaining if not especially fresh take on the superhero genre.


It looks like Warner/ DC have taken the most important lessons from Marvel Studios: hire directors who can direct and actors who can act.

It might seem obvious but so many other studios and production houses think that hiring, stars, athletes, celebrities and wrestlers is so much better.


Wonder Woman (a phrase appearing nowhere in the film’s dialogue) works. But it is not perfect, there are moments where the actors reach moments of crisis and talk rather than act, and there are some improbabilities (is it really only a single night sailing from Themyscira to London?)

On the whole I like it.


Where Batman V Superman was fussy and tangled, this is clean and efficient. `This down to director Patty Jenkins.


I’d say it portends good news for Justice League later this year… but that one is a Zack Snyder film so all bets are off.




*simply because he keeps making them!

















I’m Jack Eris and if you know me, you know Jack.






And if you want some real movie news you know what to do.


And if you want to walk the wild side of genre video, try Starburst’s review section

Grunting at the Screen (231)

20 May




The information age isn’t finished with us.




The Net is evil; we know that because cheap horror movies tell us.

Confirmation comes from forthcoming action film, Guns Akimbo, starring Daniel Radcliffe. He plays a man lured into an on-line gladiatorial competition.

It has been written and directed by Jason Lei Howden.

It is currently in pre-production.




Rob “the Fast & the Furious” Cohen has been tapped as director for Everette Hartsoe’s comic, Razor: Nicole Mitchell has become the crime fighting vigilante known as Razor.

Here’s a thing, Cohen’s been hired to make the film and its sequel which has a name, Stryke.

I love it when studios do this kind of stuff. There is technical term in the film industry, it’s called: counting your chickens before they hatch.

And we’ve seen it before, on the eve of a release you get the marketing blurb “we are so excited about this one, we’ve already greenlit the sequel.”* You wouldn’t guess how often this is followed by a film crashing and burning.

So, let’s just let the audience decide whether there will be a sequel.

No word on screenwriter, cast or start date.




Now this is what I’ve been looking for: Extrasensory, a film starring Toby Kebbell, directed by Lesley Manning with a screenplay by Stephen Volk.

Twin brothers are recruited by Soviet intelligence to test telepathy.

Usually I’d be saying it had no start date, but actually shooting will commence in late October 2017.




We mentioned Kill Switch back in Grunt (230), well it has a limited release date now: it has a US release from June 16th.




We also have news on the surveillance thriller Captive State, Grunt (222), no wait, the alien surveillance thriller: we have a US release date; August 17, 2018.





Now this is interesting.

Netflix has signed a deal with Ridley Scott to adapt JG Ballard’s “Hello America” as a feature.

No world on writer, director or schedule yet.





Alien: Covenant.


One of the big surprises to me was that he surrendered the director’s chair of Blade Runner: 2049, but held onto Alien: Covenant.

He’d just done The Martian, why would he want to do another space movie? It seemed like he had unfinished business.


Honestly I thought he was aiming to finish the business of Prometheus while hiding his intention under the “Alien” label, but interviews suggest he is really going for it.

Which is a pity because another Alien sequel is not that interesting, we know all the moves. And Prometheus deserves to have a proper conclusion.



Alien: Covenant is upon us.

I haven’t blogged much comment about it. And if it wasn’t a film directed by Ridley Scott I wouldn’t be seeing it at all.

I have concerns, but likely not those that the rest of the audience has.

It of course follows on from Prometheus, a film that made moderate Box Office but attracted a lot of (I’d say unnecessary) vituperation.

There were various objections, but I believe it boiled down to the fact that Prometheus didn’t give us the familiar Alien formula established over six previous films. (For Alien movies, and Two Alien Vs. Predator.) This was a deliberate strategy spearheaded by the studio (not the director or writers.)

I suspect the audience for Alien: Covenant will be suspicious that there will be more of the same.

I pretty much know they will be wrong.

From the name itself (marking it as an Alien film not a Prometheus sequel) to the elements (all of the usual tropes are present: eggs, facehuggers, xenomorphs) this is solidly the Alien movie the audience expected… last time.

This deliberate, Ridley Scott took to heart the criticisms of Prometheus and determined to make a crowd-pleaser. However he also placing himself. The Engineers from Prometheus are back, and so are the ideas of creation and origins previously touched on.

Will this be enough? Crowds are notoriously difficult to please. The Matrix sequels gave as much action ass you could want in two films, but because they mixed philosophy in there to the audience howled (They still bought tickets even while howling.)

Well in Alien Covenant, whatever epic ideas Ridley Scott has about Alien Gods and the origin of man will be underpinned by well tested narrative of chestbursting aliens picking off humans one by one.

And that is the problem.

I own an Alien film, I own six. Why do I want something I’ve already seen? I guess it’s just me.


Anyway, I made this bed for myself and I’m prepared for the backache.

Meanwhile a review has emerged, and it is positive. Hme.

We’ll see.





So What Is Ridley Doing?

Back in Grunt (229) we expressed consternation* at the opacity of Ridley Scott’s future plans.

Uncharacteristically he has now revealed them unambiguously.

First he will make ‘All the Money in the World’ (Which is casting right now) then The Cartel.

And in a year he will be making the next Alien prequel, for a release in fourteen months’ time. I’m going to be literal about this and say September or October 2019.

(And oh yes, he may have another after that.)

Well finally that is clear.

(Let’s just say we don’t believe a word of this)







Alien Covenant.


Pretty much the only thing that really didn’t work was the prologue with David and Weyland talking about their quest to find the creators. A little stiff and not necessary in story terms.


There is a lot familiar here. This is a film of homages. The title sequence is classic Alien, with the letters slowly emerging sideways. There is a reappearance of Jerry Goldsmith’s familiar title theme. And it does not stop here.


The plot; the Covenant is a colony ship on its way to an earth-like planet when it intercepts a message that appears to be human.

They track it down to a paradise planet which might be a closer and more viable target than their colonisation world.


On investigation they find a snake in this Eden (and I am sure the metaphor is very deliberate). If you ever saw an Alien movie you can guess the nature of this hazard.


So we get the return of the Android David from Prometheus but Elizabeth Rapace appears only in drawings.

There is some wired homo-eroticism between androids David and Walters. Not so much “subtext” as just “text”. And some homages to Blade Runner in the dialogue and staging.


The classic forms of the alien organism reappear and there is the requisite amount of action and gore.


This is a Ridley Scott film so the execution is tight, visually it is more than satisfactory (and one of my thoughts was Uh, Oh, Adam Savage has a new spacesuit he needs to build) Oh shoot, he’s already discovered it!

And the pace is good.

In all aspects Scott has polished up the material. The look and performances are up to standard. It is an improvement on 1978’s Alien. And mostly just that.


I was slightly annoyed to see another scene of tobacco smoking in a future-set movie. Really? Is that likely?


On the whole it was very entertaining, very efficient.


But not essential. There is one plot point that advances knowledge of the Alien mythology. However the expected philosophy and depth is barely rushed through: One Shelly poem and a snippet of Wagner do not make a an intellectual feast


It felt like the values of Prometheus had been flipped upside down: Where it had been cerebral, this is visceral, there it has been indirect, this is specific, where it had been strange, this was familiar.


The Engineers re-appear in an unmotivated but enlightening flashback (hme… didn’t think it went that way).


On the whole, if all you want is entertainment, this will be more than adequate; it is as good as any of the Alien sequels. If you wanted it kicked up to the other level in the Direction Prometheus seemed to be heading. Not happening.


There are still a couple of questions left hanging from Prometheus, based on this they will remain unanswered.


You know, this is the first Alien film I feel no desire to own…


Your choice.







Alien: Covenant has had an international opening of $42m, ahead of its US opening.

Thing is, I don’t know if this is a good thing. I think I used to know, but with bigger budgets and even bigger expectations it could mean anything.






*Blind rage.

** Daybreakers, Robin Hood, Real Steel, Conan (reboot) all have unproduced sequels.


I’m Jack Eris and if you know me, you know Jack.






And if you want some real movie news you know what to do.


And if you want to walk the wild side of genre video, try Starburst’s review section

Grunting at the Screen (230)

10 May




The information age isn’t finished with us.



Blumhouse is a production company known for its hit horror pictures. Lately it has been moving sideways into science fiction. The latest such feature is something called Only You; they are calling it a “time-travel thriller”, but otherwise keeping their cards close to their chests.

David Oyelowo has been cast, Jacob Estes is to write and direct.




OK, we have a release date for Prisoner X, -Grunting (195)- it’s out on VOD and DVD on June 6, 2017.

This is about the interrogation of a time travelling prisoner who started a war.



We are hearing about “Encounter” a feature film by Paul J. Salamoff; four friends discover a crashed space-ship, rescue the alien from it and find themselves being chased by the authorities…hey that’s ET!

Luke Hemsworth is to star.

Shooting commences this month.




Apparently feature film project Gemini Man has been knocking around for two decades; a veteran assassin who has to battle his 25-years-younger clone,

Jerry Bruckheimer originated the project. Digital de-aging technology will likely be used.

The latest director to be linked to it is Ang (Hulk) Lee, but he has not quite signed on yet.

More as it develops.



After the briefest and narrowest of theatrical debuts The Void is out on DVD. And it has extras.

It is deliriously well reviewed.




We have the English subtitled version of the Fullmetal Alchemist trailer.





Marketing for Alien: Covenant is beginning in earnest. It opens in Mid-May and I honestly do not know what to say except I would not be even talking of it if it wasn’t a Ridley Scott film.

Oh, I’ll see it. And then we will know.


You know I have a thing for straight to disk science fiction movies. I live in hope. I really do.

Well, I’m scanning the shelves when I come across “The Winter Soldier”. No seriously, it is not a subtitle it’s just “The Winter Soldier”, they do know the name is somewhat already taken, do they?

Well apparently they do, because after a more than frustrating attempt to look it up, (for some reason another movie keeps coming up). I discover “The Winter Soldier” as directed by Joey Curtis was until recently known as 2307: Winter’s Dream.

Ah that makes sense. It’s another one of those name changing DVDs.

So, that confusion sorted out. I looked up what it was.

Hmme, seems like the title wasn’t all they borrowed. It has an android named Ash-393 being chased across a frozen wasteland by a character called Bishop, This feels like a sad version of Blade Runner on ice with nods to Alien, Aliens and any 80s Science Fiction Action film they can touch on the way down.

If you are jonesing for a cliché, you can find it on all good… er adequate … you can find it in supermarkets.



We finally have a release date for Wesley Snipes’ The Recall: June 16 (there is also a virtual reality release, but we can’t be bothered with that.)



This one came out of nowhere: Kill Switch directed by Tim Smit. A pilot has to save the world when an energy experiment using parallel worlds goes wrong.

it is looking at a limited theatrical release from June 16th.

Here is a typically CG heavy trailer;



Talking of the Black List, ah we weren’t, but were we back in Grunting (219).

Among the screenplays we were talking about was Mother:

“A robot Mother raises a girl in a bunker, until a stranger comes along.” We’ve got more; the earth has been depopulated and the robots are being used to raise a new generations of humans.

Well it looks like Mother is off the shelf. The writer is Michael Lloyd Green, director is Grant Sputore. Clara Rugaard has been cast and it is in preproduction to be shot in Australia.

No start date as yet.


The Black List of unproduced screenplays has a legendary status, but I’m wondering how long it can keep it, with so many of the films that make it off the list crashing and burning…





Finally after many years Upside Down has come to DVD,

“Huh?” You say. we first reported on it back in Grunting at the Screen (81)

and that was a long time ago.

“Upside Down is a romantic fantasy about two worlds inverted from each other, one down, one up, of course you have to have a romance separated by these worlds).”

It was completed and reviewed as long ago as 2013. But this is the first sight I have had of it.

You can get it in legitimate places where DVDs are sold, not just supermarkets








So we have more information on Andy (the Martian) Weir’s next book.

Hey wait a minute, this isn’t a movie!

You know what? I’ll allow it.

Its name is “Artemis” and it is based on the first city on the moon. what it looks like is a crime story with a noirish conspiracy plot attached.

And no sign or any lone spacemen needing rescue.

I like what I am hearing.

It has a publication date on November 14, 2017

… And by the way the film rights have already been sold to Fox and New Regency.

So maybe it fits in after all.






Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2.


…Celestial Huh! Didn’t see that coming..

Anyway, this film is almost unreviewable. Whatever anyone says it will be a huge hit.

Let’s see, the Guardians take a job protecting some sacred batteries , but instead Rocket steals them.

This leads to a deadly chase, an encounter with the past and the possible destruction of most of the universe.

Fundamentally it is story about families and the story is familiar; jut so we never have say this again, the family of choice trumps any biological connection where the connection has been broken for enough years. See. we can move on now.

OK., as expected the FX are competently executed. Baby Groot is cute and dangerous, Gamora is finally allowed to be the most dangerous woman in the universe.

However the whole tone of the film is distracted. Really. It feels like director James Gunn made it while texting, tweeting or doing something else he’d rather be doing.

The only exception is the over-long coda after the climax which becomes an uncomfortable stretch of genuflection after all of the action and clowning.

This makes it sound like I hated the film, but in fact I enjoyed it, it’s very funny and until the end does not flag.

In fact It is better than the first one.

But it’s as inconsequential as any film about the destruction of most of the universe could be. Fun but Fluff.

And yes, there are five (count them) post credit scenes. And yes they are pretty trivial (but what can you expect from the men who gave you Howard the Duck last time?)









I’m Jack Eris and if you know me, you know Jack.






And if you want some real movie news you know what to do.


And if you want to walk the wild side of genre video, try Starburst’s review section




Grunting at the Screen (229)

18 Apr





The information age isn’t finished with us.



What the F*** is Ridley Doing? No Really!

You know, every time we think we’ve figured what Ridley Scott is doing he blindsides us.

I’m sure it is not personally directed at the fans, just a defence mechanism against the film industry, but still.

So what has he done now?

You know he announced he would directing one Alien movie after another (the sequel to Alien: Covenant is already written), and you know he then announced his next film would be All the Money in the World the kidnap drama.

That in itself puts Alien 6 (or Prometheus 3… who knows) three years away: figure it out, a year for All the Money in the World and two at least for another Alien.

Well he’s just gone and signed for another film. And it isn’t even one of the numerous projects on his backburner (he has a backburner bigger than the Dorchester Hotel’s kitchen). Oh no Ridley’s latest project is an unnamed Battle of Britain feature; screenplay is by Matthew Orton and 20th Century Fox is behind it.

When is he going to have time for this?

Don’t get me wrong, I don’t care if he never makes another Alien film, he has been there and done that (superbly).

But it drives me nuts; what is he doing?



We have more information on Sci Fi London 2017 programme.

Also screening are.

Diverge: Director James Morrison

The Kaos Brief: Director JP Mandarino

Caught: Director Jamie Patterson

Anti Matter: Director Keir Burrows

The Last Scout: Director Simon Phillips

The Gatheouse: Director Martin Gooch

Occupants: Director Russ Emanuel

Virtual Revolution: Director Guy-Roger Duvert

The End of the Lonely Island: Director Ren Chao Wang

Domain: Director Nathaniel Atcheson

Sublimate: Directors Roger Armstrong, John Hickman

Space Detective: Director Antonio Llapur


Some of these we have covered before.

The Last Scout: British movie, humanity’s search for a new home planet. Was due for release two years ago.

Virtual Revolution: French, yes it is that low budget cyberpunk thing. From the trailer it looks very generic.

Domain: social media during the viral holocaust.

(In fact three of Sci Fi London’s features take place during or in the wake of some kind of pandemic disaster: do they know something we don’t?)





This is big news, although you may not see it as.

Invincible will be a movie.

OK, you likely don’t read it but Invincible is a comic written by Robert (The walking Dead) Kirkman.

Yes, it is a superhero comic. But it is more.

See it started as a comic for all the family, the story of a boy who gets super powers and comes to terms with it while having relationships, dealing with family etc. So far so Spider-Man.

Then in issue seven the equivalent of the Justice League in this universe are brutally murdered.

I dunno, maybe Kirkman just got bored of the “leave it to beaverness” of it, but from there it gets brutal, with secrets, alien invasions, worldwide crises and battles that leave all parties beaten to bloody pulp. What happened dude? OK, it is unspeakably violent, but a really different take on the superhero genre.

Now it will be a film,

Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg are to write and direct and as long as Rogen is not playing the title character it should be fine.




I am staying on top of the Dune project, latest news is that Eric Roth will write the screenplay.

It’s a classy choice he’s written Forrest Gump, The Insider and The Curious Case of Benjamin Button.

And he’s not a ‘genre” writer so emphasis is going to be character not FX.

It’s cool.




It should not surprise me but Ghost in the Shell will get a new anime feature, it will be directed by Kamiyama Kenji and Aramaki Shinji.




The Recall hasn’t got a release date but Wesley Snipes has another feature lined up: Armed Response directed by John Stockwell, written by Matt Savelloni from WWE Studios. Anne Heche, Gene Simmons and Dave Annable co-star.

A highly trained armed team is trapped in a compound where the central AI has been shut down, they begin to experience strange phenomena.

Sounds like the start of every zombie film. (I do hope it is not zombies).

More details as they emerge.





Activision Blizzard Studio are planning to build a cinematic universe around their Call of Duty, property. Because that worked so well with Ubisoft and Assassin’s Creed.

Wait, this imaginary thing in my ear tells me attempts to boost Ubisoft game property to the big screen have in fact crashed and burned.

They have plans for at least three films with the first arriving as early as 2018.

Well maybe Activision Blizzard Studio will have better luck.





In Grunting (224) we blogged Ad Astra, the feature that goes into space but goes nowhere near the stars (unless you count Sol… no, wait, they are going the other way.)

Well it has a schedule now. Brad Pitt will be shooting on July 17th. He will play an astronaut on a voyage to Neptune in search of the fate of his father who disappeared earlier.

Director James Gray is very bullish about it; he wants to give us the most authentic version of space travel in a movie yet. Looks like he’s going up against the biggest swinging d… er.. the most illustrious directors on earth. Good luck with that. I predict he will get caned by the same folk who gave Gravity a thrashing.

Nevertheless I am glad Brad Pitt is getting into the Science Fiction game, he’s been out of it since 12 Monkeys (Come on! World War Z was a fantasy.)

And you know what? We like ambition. We’ll keep on top of it.





What’s Neill Blomkamp Doing?

Since he finished Chappie there has been some speculation about what the District 9 director would do next. For a while it looked like he would do a sequel to Aliens, but Ridley Scott put the kibosh on that one.

Lately he has been hinting at an original project he’s been working on; but without giving specifics.

Latest word from his twitter account is him asking if people would be interested in him putting his experimental films on the Steam Games web-site, as tests for potential feature films.

He is making the short films right now and the main question is whether to give them away for free.


In fact the plan is to release them on Steam via a company called Oats Studios.

Author William Gibson has had a preview and he says ” I can personally vouch for @NeillBlomkamp having some exquisitely weird shit to show you on Steam.”






So we mentioned Warriors Gate back in… oh, we don’t seem to have blogged it.

Anyway, produced by Luc Besson and starring Dave Batiste.  It’s a fantasy adventure and it has a trailer.

A boy is transported from his ordinary life to China where his video-game skills make him a warrior.

It has a Chinese release on August 5, 2016, no UK or US release as yet.





We are hearing about a new science fiction feature called Occupation; a band of small town residents fight to resist an alien invasion. Director/writer is Luke Sparke, Tempera Morrison and Dan Ewing will star.

Shooting commences in Northern New South Wales and the Gold Coast, Australia on May 2.




Now this is something: Needle In A Timestack, an adaptation of Robert Silverberg’s short story: Time travel is real, it is happening now, in fact time travellers are back there changing your present as we speak, Mikkelsen is married to  Janine but Tommy  is trying to split them up, using time travel. It is up to Mikkelsen to figure out what Tommy has done, and stop him.

This one is loaded with potential: writer/director is John Ridley. No cast or schedule yet.




Coming soon is Alienate, directed by Michael Shumway, written Rick Hansberry by and Lex Hogan: aeroplanes fall out of the sky, cell towers fail and David fights to return home in the wake of an alien invasion.  Limited opening in theatres and VOD on May 5th.




Full Metal Alchemist second trailer is out, you’ll need a Google apps account

















I’m Jack Eris and if you know me, you know Jack.






And if you want some real movie news you know what to do.


And if you want to walk the wild side of genre video, try Starburst’s review section




Grunting at the Screen (228)

3 Apr

The information age isn’t finished with us.

We are hearing the search is on for a director of the live-action Akira, personally we will not believe a thing until filming begins.

And to be honest Akira needs no live action version.

Ruben Fleischer has been tapped to direct Valiant Comic’s Archer & Armstrong, Terry Rossio will be writing the script; an assassin from a cult is forced to team up with his target (a superhuman immortal) to stop the end of the world.

Now this really gets me going: Hidden Reserves AKA Stille Reserven a feature film by Austrian director Valentin Hitz,

In the near future the insurance business is pretty dread. If you don’t buy death insurance your body is reanimated at death and used as a commodity.

Of course there is a rebellion against this process.

The story is about an insurance agent who infiltrates one of the rebel groups to bring it down.

I gather the plot is kind of complex.

I’ve see the trailer, and it’s got me excited because it has one of those vast body storage facilities which have been come a science fiction trope, like in Blade III or Daybreakers.

But it all seems to come from the era before Science Fiction was a branch of action cinema, back when it was all about ideas.


There have been rumour of Robert Rodriguez being involved in a certain reboot, I’m not interested but what is known is that he’s taking on his first animation.

Oh cool is it Heavy Metal?

Er, no.

His debut in the animated world will be Ugly Dolls. It is a toy based movie deriving from the Uglydoll line produced by Pretty Ugly, LLC.

No schedule, but it should be interesting.

Generally I object to Toys turning into movies because, toys don’t come with a narrative. Well usually, I have done a little digging and it appears that the Uglydoll concept came in concert with its own stories. Hme.

We’ve already mentioned Hasraf “HaZ” Dulull’s film Origin Unknown, it turns out this was his second feature. His first one was the documentary-styled film: The Beyond.

The first interstellar mission is in progress and we have sent a crew of enhanced astronauts. This one is (loosely) based on Dulull’s short film Project Kronos.

There is already a trailer and it is headed for the festival circuit.


It seems at this point I need to make an apology. Back in Grunting (144) I may have suggested that Scott Glassgold was guilty of hoovering up all of the very best short film projects and letting them lay fallow: well lately everything is coming up roses for him.

Hasraf Dulull: is making Origin Unknown, and The Beyond

Stephan Zlotescu: is having True Skin produced as a series at Amazon Studios.

Progress is happening.



Life: Review

Life may not last forever, but it certainly can feel that way. The beginning is really boring. In the first half hour I nearly dropped off a couple of times.

You know the score; a Martian probe with a soil sample arrives at the International Space Station. They examine it and find life, They feed the organism and of course it grows, attacks and kills them all.

Oh Shoot! Spoiler Alert!

Forget what I said; the alien gives them flowers and chocolates, takes them to dinner and everyone gets a kiss on the doorstep.

(Now, won’t you be surprised when it kills every one!)

It is reasonably executed, the performances are adequate, the FX are fine, there is no sign of crappieness in the CG. On a technical level it is OK.

All the publicity has been running this as “Alien meets Gravity” , but interestingly enough, it actually plays more like Alien meets Gravity: you have lots of squeezing though tight spaces, futile attempts to kill the beast, tumbling around in spacesuits outside, space trash flying around and the obligatory decompression scene.

Hey, I propose the Air Prize: a prize awarded to any movie set in space where decompression is not one of the scenes, because this shit has gotten old.

And of course it has some quiet scenes, where I almost go to sleep again. I don’t know what it is, have I seen so many space movies that it all seems routine now?

There are some of the usual illogicalities, though less than usual in a Science Fiction movie.

But it is not all bad, it moves along quickly enough (really, it wasn’t slow, just kind boring) there is some action.

And you know what? I actually enjoyed it. But not until the end. You’ll see.



Reviews for Ghost in the Shell are turning up, inevitably mixed, after all of the negative publicity you can only expect it leak into the criticism. They all note or praise the visuals. There is less joy concerning the story. Some however are quite enthusiastic.

On the whole they are positive.

The Ghost in the Shell Anime is a classic, not just of animation but of Science Fiction. In my humble opinion it is the finest example of cyberpunk committed to film.

Should it have been adapted to a live action feature? Probably not.

Should Rupert Sanders have been the director? The jury is out.

The thing is Ghost in the Shell has already been sequelised all to hell, another feature, a couple of TV series, a DTV feature.

Live action was the next step.

It should probably have been a Japanese production. But we have what we have.

Ghost in the Shell: The Review

There is a film that casts a shadow over the Live Action Ghost in the Shell film, a film that informs and guides it, that foreshadowed it.

And that film, of course is Johnny Mnemonic. I am dead serious . and if you know Jack you’d know I don’t joke about the really strange things.

Like Johnny Mnemonic, Ghost in the Shell is about a hero with amnesia and the return of memory.

Unlike Johnny Mnemonic, this plot point takes centre place and it actually works.

You will see a lot here familiar from the 1995 anime: iconic scenes are lifted and reproduced “en vivo”. Not just the action scenes, there are quiet character moments that transfer as well. But the original plot and themes are not present. The scenes are attached to a brand new plot spine built around the missing memory of the Major, as played by Scarlett Johansson.

This is an emotional plot about the search for and discovery of memory and identity. Very different from the more abstracted and philosophical theme of the anime.

And you know what? It is the right decision and it works. The cold and intellectual treatment of the previous material would not have worked for a Western audience and it would not have worked in live action.


This is a very visual movie and the visuals are sumptuous and alluring: the megalithic city is huge busy, colourful and bright. A contrast to a say more famous depiction of the urban future; not as original, but certainly not inadequate.

The action scenes are tough, fast, impressive; but as ever often cut to tightly to precisely follow the motion, but no more than the normal action movie.

The CG is reasonable, and some of what you may assume is CG has actually been done right there in front of the camera.

Scarlett Johansson is impressive, of course she is cold and mechanical, she plays a full body cyborg, but as the film progresses she reveals a quite affecting and yes human character.

And Takeshi Kitano plays it as if he’d stepped off the set of Sonatine: do not mess with the old-school.

There are some cute Easter eggs that will gladden fans that have brought an open mind; my favourite being Batou’s Basset hound (subject of an extended cameo in Ghost in the Shell: Innocence.)

And there are changes beyond the story, if you are the cute Tachikoma spider-tanks of the Manga and Anime, then prepare to run in terror; the live tanks are like M1s on columns.

But this is a big (well low end big) budget action Science fiction movie, so you know it will be all about the fights and the FX. You know there will be a big CG climax. This is a given.

How is it handled? It passes.

Do you know what? A third of the way into the film I stopped judging the film and started enjoying the immersion, the characters and the story. And by the time we reach the end I’m quite stirred.

Yes, this is the cyberpunk movie we have been waiting for. purer that The Matrix, better executed than Johnny Mnemonic.

I have no qualms in apologising to director Rupert Sanders; I didn’t think he could pull it off but he has.

I would have satisfied if they had just not screwed it up, but this is a little more; this is good, not great, but very satisfactory and you should see it.

Oh yes, stay until the end titles, you will get a treat; and no it is NOT a post credit scene.

I’m Jack Eris and if you know me, you know Jack.

And if you want some real movie news you know what to do.

And if you want to walk the wild side of genre video, try Starburst’s review section