Archive | March, 2012

Grunting at the Screen (85)

31 Mar



The information age has not yet finished with us


So, where are science fiction movies going from here?

The future is unclear.

The sad fact is that original films have not done so well. Low budget successes like Chronicle are balanced out by big budget disappointments like John Carter.

After Avatar I expected a boom in science fiction, but studios have been uncommonly cautious, many projects have been mooted, few actually begun.

And John Carter’s financial failure suggests this situation will not change soon.

It was not so in the last great boom. Two quick successes in 1977 and ’78 made sure the eighties enjoyed a boom in science fiction film making. Of course there were high profile failures as well, but this failed to stop the onrush.


Of course it might all yet change; it depends on what happens next, a high profile success might turn it all around.


In the meantime the future looks like one with a lot of sequels, prequels, remakes reboots and adaptations from other visual media (television, comics and computer games).


It will also be a future of adaptation from juvenile novels which are also enjoying a rare success.

I didn’t hold out much hope for a UK release for Mardock Scramble (First Compression) but it looks like we will see one. Reviews so far are extremely positive, and this is despite the fact that the setting is very familiar indeed. Some will say it is derivative.

OK, a young victim of incest is murdered then brought back to life as a killer cyborg. Of course she has to go looking for the man who killed her.

 Big warning; this is just the first part of a three part story, so it ends on a cliffhanger. Good news is that the second part is finished and presumable will get to us later.


Ooh, this is unexpected. Red is not dead…

Let’s start this again. The Red Star is an American comic set in a science fictional Soviet Union, for some years it was mooted as the post Wanted project for (genuinely) Russian director Timur Bekmambetov this was not to be and it looked like the project was dead.

However it has emerged from development hell with director Josh Trank attached to it. Trank is the very hot and very busy man of the moment. He has been linked to the Fantastic four reboot (which he’s denied) and the Venom movie (more likely).

Oh yes, He also directed Chronicle.

The Red Star from Christian Gossett was always a superbly well designed comic. So it’s a good project to keep watching. 


There are quite few animated zombie films lurking out there. I kind of wonder why. The genre is a good way to get into film without worrying about expensive special effects or locations (or acting for that matter…) with animation it should not matter. Anyway.


Over the last couple of years we’ve had a few entries into the very tight animated zombie subgenre (and that does not include Night of the Living Dead Reanimated). The latest entrant is Year Zero; set in New York City, it’s a portrait of the slow decent into madness of a man trapped in his room during a massive outbreak of the walking dead. (..Good theme for a first live-action feature… I’m just saying!)


Saw the trailer for Prometheus.

I don’t know what to say. It’s spectacular, but that is the least I should expect, it sounds like Alien, no really there are noises straight from the original film… which is good. At the same time I don’t want to raise my expectations too high,



You may well notice my prediction of great riches coming due to John Carter has severely come a cropper.

I’d like to forget all about that.

I haven’t mentioned The Hunger Games. I’m not going to; for the love of God, I’m a forty-five year old man, I have no business talking about that movie.


Damn! That Dr. Dre has formed a film company looks like we’re going to see some horror in the hood! The… ah…the Yukon hood.


The first production is Thaw based in the Yukon…in 1959 (they have hip hop back in ’59? Hell, did they have record decks back in 59?) Anyway, something evil is melting in the ice up north and I’m sure Dre is wondering what the hell he’s doing up in all that ice and snow, I know I am.


Anthony E. Zuiker of CSI fame is taking a massive gamble by moving sideways into film, he’s not starting small, he’s going for what he describes as “an event film”; Cybergeddon, about the growing threat of cybercrime (what, not cyberwar, with Russian and Chinese hackers crashing the world’s networks, bringing down planes and plunging cities into darkness..? I’m just asking.)



This is different. A Mexican movie, called Halley, pretty much in the can, but it needs post production.

It’s about a dead guy, walking around and quietly rotting, trying to deal with his dead situation, publicity says “he’s not a zombie”, which I read to mean there will be no moans, no stumbling around and no-one will get bitten.

I like the premise (hell, I think I had one myself…very similar)


Also opening , Act of Valour, the first of many movies featuring Navy Seals. This one has real Navy Seals in an action drama

Somehow I’m unexcited.


Hey, here’s a magic trick; how to make a cinema audience disappear.  3D is great for theatres; it allows them to charge a fat premium for giving their audience headache,

problem is some pesky movie goers don’t like paying extra for 3D and they go to 2D features instead.

Which is annoying. The industry is annoyed at loosing the premium; the audience is annoyed for having to pay extra for eyestrain.

Now check what I just found out at Film School Rejects.

Spotlight in Georgia have had the brilliant idea of folding the 3D charge into 2D tickets, what that means is that 3D tickets will get a cheaper… and 2D tickets more expensive. They will meet in the middle and everyone will be happy, right?

Yeah…. not quite. Cinema tickets are already outrageously expensive, paying extra and getting nothing for your money… I’m thinking no.

So If the Devil that’s come to Georgia wanders in my direction, I’ll be saying thanks but no thanks and watching my movies at home.

They can stick their 3D and their 3D prices and this blog will be called Grunting at the Small Screen


Now here’s something. Acclaimed manga Lone Wolf and Cub is getting and American adaptation.

The manga has already seen action as a series of Japanese movies (two of which were condensed into the notorious Shogun Assassin).

Justin (Fast Five) Lin has been pencilled in to helm, but check this screenplay is to be by David and Janet Peoples (David has been writer or co-writer on Blade Runner, Unforgiven, 12 Monkeys…)



Got a few things from the Terracotta Far East Film Festival there are some genre movies this year; a vintage horror program featuring the classic Ju-on and adding the anime Gyo, and a premier of the Chinese ZOMBIE 108.

In addition Terracotta will screen The Monster Club and Himizu from Japan. 

Oooh ooh, I dunno, good sense tells me not to get excited for a lot of reasons.

Number one: I see a lot of cyberpunk shorts, most look pretty good and don’t have story worth a damn.

Number 2; we know almost nothing about this clip. All we’ve heard is that it is a short being turned into a feature.

But I don’t think with my head and right now I feel something stirring down below. This clip from TRUE SKIN looks just like the inside of my head.

(Warning: contains scene of augmented cat.)

Hopefully in months to come there will be more on exactly what this is and I’ll bring it to you.


And now for something new. In the wake of John Carter’s demise we won’t expect more original science fiction. Or will we?

Bizarrely the film industry is still willing to bet on new stories and new names.

Ehren Kruger, writer of the last two Transformer films (…er, OK) and Bradley Camp have delivered Invertigo, a Science fiction/disaster hybrid. A satellite crashes on New York reversing gravity on earth.

 D.J. (Disturbia) Caruso is to direct.

Glad to see someone still has the faith.



My own favourite Film Blog is John Scalzi’s. Not much in the way of news but his opinion is on point


And if you want some real news scoot over to Dark Horizons




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


Grunting at the Screen (84)

20 Mar

The information age has not finished with us yet



If you have a hankering for the psychedelic space operas of the seventies you might want to hold on for The Book by director Richard Weiss, a film described as bizarre and surreal. It will be chock full of “telepathy, time travelling, subliminal manipulation and free will”, I can’t even imagine.


I wasn’t going to mention Blood Shot. It’s an action movie with Christopher Lambert, 

Lance Henriksen and Brad Dourif. If that isn’t the cast list of a straight to video movie what is it? Anyway an ex-cop and a vampire are recruited by a covert government agency to fight terrorists. Whatever.

Then they invoked the sacred name of Blade. They say its “Blade meets Die Hard.” Well that’s a hard row to hoe (try not to say that fast.)

Well I doubt it will be anywhere near as thrilling as either Blade or Die Hard , but it underlines the growth of a now established genre: the vampire action movie: Blade Underworld, Daybreakers, Priest and now Blood Shot. This kind of mash-up (to be polite) was innovative in 1999; science fiction, supernatural and action-adventure. It was a sweet, crazy brew.  Now it’s cliché.

You know what? Time to move on.


I like Robert Rodriguez. I own a lot of his movies. I’d like him to succeed. But he has so much on his plate.

Next up is the sequel to last year’s grindhouse styled Machete. It’s called Machete Kills and he plans to get started in the spring. I liked Machete, I thought it was absurdly violent, over stuffed with sensation, silly and fun (if they can get Lindsey Lohan back as a gun packing nun, none to attached to her vows, that would be good too).

Then in the summer Rodriguez plans to make Sin city 2. This project has been on the edge of shooting for two years. Excuse me if I think he’s miss the kick-off date.

And concurrently he is working on two animation features. One of them is Heavy Metal. The script is written and he’s about to go into preproduction. I think he’ll be able to supervise animation while working on live action films, but this will be a break point. Animation is usually long and expensive. But the motto of Rodriguez and Troublemaker Studios is; “Fast, Cheap and in total control.” More than anything he’s done before it will be a challenge to deliver feature quality animation at the kind of tight budgets and schedules he usually works to.

I like him a lot. I want him to succeed. I want to see a really great Heavy Metal Movie. I’m not sure if we will.


Shock. Horror.

I am beginning to get reports that Asylum have made a good movie. Asylum are a straight to video house specialising in knock-offs of blockbuster movies. Battle of LA, Almighty Thor, and Paranormal Entity are all movies you will not have seen at the cinema.

The big surprise is they have made a film which some reviewers actually quite like: Zombie Apocalypse. It’s directed by Nick Lyon and stars Ving Rhames. Although it has been compared favourably to The Walking Dead, series, it is said to have ideas and imagery that can only be described as original. The premise however is pretty standard: The dead have taken over the world, a small band of the living trek across the land in search of a sanctuary.

Well you can’t have everything, but it is light at the end of the tunnel. With support Asylum could transform itself into a house producing low budget, high quality genre movies.

Look out for Asylum’s American Battleship…Doh!


OK, trailers. Mirror Mirror. I haven’t seen Tarsim Singh doing humour before and this is has a lot humour. I’m not sure if it will work.

The other trailer I saw was Battleship. It looked spectacular… and very familiar. The alien spaceships as they rose from the sea look familiar, the kind of changes shape, and they sounded familiar: damn it looks and sounds like a Transformer movie. I entirely forgot about the trailer until two days later. Which shows how much excitement this project is stirring.


The comic book movie is dead.

Calm down, I’ve said it before (in fact I’ve said it every year for the past three years.) This time I have evidence. On Film 2012 we had a parade of experts telling us that comic movies will never die. It’s an impossibility. At that point I knew we’d passed the peek. How come? I remember the 1970s, sitting in front of a TV show where experts were telling us that Disco Music could never die. They were very convincing too. By the next year it was dead. In retrospect I saw this was the top of the curve. The point where the smart money was already pulling out while trying to persuade everyone else that all was well. For anyone who wants a close look at this phenomenon you can look at Robert Beckman’s book Crashes* which teaches you more than a trunk-full of economic texts.

This year we have four big expensive comic book movies plus Judge Dredd and Men in Black III (also with a comic book origin). They cannot all be big hits, and this year has unique hazards; not only do the  Olympics kick in July but we also have Euro 2012, which I gather is some kind of “footie match”, eyes will be drawn away from the big screen. Inevitably some very big films with very big hopes will tumble.  


Can this be true? Oren Peli of Paranormal Activity fame is making a movie and it’s not Found Footage. Chernobyl Diaries, takes us to the heart of Chernobyl’s exclusion zone with a bunch of American Extreme Tourists who become stranded before discovering the deserted wasteland is not so deserted at all (I am assuming they uncover something more interesting than the radioactive homeless.)


OK, Tom Cruise sucks, we can all agree with that. However he is the lead in Joseph Kosinski’s latest project Oblivion. And as of this month this is a go project. Kosinski directed Tron: Legacy, but don’t let that put you off, Oblivion is his pet project,  It is an epic science fiction, featuring a war damaged soldier on a devastated alien planet holding the last vestige of a dying alien race, into this mix we add a mysterious traveller. I’ve seen the preproduction art and it’s impressive so I am expecting something on the scale of John Carter.  So hopefully Tom Cruise’s major suckage won’t detract from what could be an interesting film. Oblivion is currently in production and due in April 2013.


Oblivion is a project from Radical Publishing/Radical Pictures whose scatter-gun approach seems to be paying off. Radical develops comics and graphic novels specifically to be exploited on the screen. Sure, a lot of its projects have been shelved by the various studios they were set up with, but Oblivion and Hercules: The Thracian Wars are looking healthy.


I don’t usually bother with teasers. But the animated Starship Troopers move: Invasion has only been in production a few months. But we’ve already seen some footage, and it looks promising.

Will there be power suits? Well it’s Shinji Aramaki, so it’s got to be “Hell yeah!”


*Yeah, it’s out of print, handle it.


My own favourite Film Blog is John Scalzi’s. Not much in the way of news but his opinion is on point


And if you want some real news scoot over to Dark Horizons




I’m Jack Eris and If you know me you know Jack.


Grunting at the Screen (83)

14 Mar


The information age has not finished with us yet


I’ve stopped looking for the next District 9. It’s a pointless activity. I’m not doing it. No, really.

But just because I’ve given up doesn’t mean the rest of the world has and the latest project to be so burdened is Archetype.

This started life as a short from FX designer’ Aaron Sims it’s about a robot who awakens and starts experiencing memories of having been human (hme… sounds like Ghost in the Shell 2… I’m just saying…)

Twentieth Century Fox are behind it and producing is John Davis who just produced Chronicle. It just got interesting. Of course it hasn’t even gone into pre-production yet, so nothing is guaranteed.


I don’t report on sequels. And there are some films I think edge beyond the pale. Yeah, I have limits.

I haven’t seen Human Centipede 2 but I suspect it has breached those limits. So I don’t expect to be telling you about the third and last instalment Human Centipede 3 (Final Sequence). Tom Six is again directing and he will even have supporting role in the film. He promises it will be even more extreme that number 2 (censored and banned all over the world)

This one he’s filming in the USA.


There is a small subgenre of science fiction concerned with diving into the human mind and treating it like a physical territory (generally as an area of combat).

It has honoured literary antecedents from Robert Silverberg, Robert Sheckley and yes the Queen of cyberpunk Pat Cadigan.

Lately and quietly we have been getting regular cinematic entrants.

Well not so quietly in the case of the one and half billion dollar grossing Inception, but it has not arrived on its own. Last year also brought a small well reviewed film named Ink with a very similar premise.

This year it’s the turn of independent movie “Extracted” directed by Dominic Bogart)

In this feature an inventor dives into the mind of a heroin addict to determine his innocence or guilt. Unlike a lot of projects we note, this one has been shot, completed and is due for screening at festival.

It’s an ultra low budget feature (under $1M) and the director boasted it was free of the usual spectacular effects associated with science fiction features.


First reviews of The Raven are emerging and the verdict is… not good. Hme. They are disappointed that Poe isn’t more of an alcoholic …and more of a detective.

They also claim it’s a bit slow moving. OK. I’ll hold out for more reviews.


Have they made the first cyberspatter move? I am getting a report about a Brazilian Horror movie.

Nervo Craniano Zero: a best selling author gets a surgeon to implant a chip in her brain to increase her creativity. It of course has unintended consequences (I’m hoping of the weird and gory variety). More as the story develops.


Ewan McGregor’s Perfect Sense just emerged on DVD. How did that happen, did it have a theatrical release? I didn’t see one. Anyway this one is about a catastrophe where every one on earth starts loosing their senses one at a time. The sole review I have for it calls it “listless and unfocussed”


The first review of Cabin in the Woods is out. In the past I have been a little dismissive, I’ve said many times, nothing good happens in the woods. However this looks different.

Well Joss Whedon is a co-creator. Hme, not sure if that’s a recommendation.

OK, try this; the review suggests it entirely reinvents this horror sub-genre. the clichés are there but made fresh.

Still more intriguing the review at IGN filmforce warns us that anything it could tell us would give away the constant surprises. Well.

I like a good horror.

More reviews are to come but if they are all this gushing I might give it a try.


Marc Caro , formerly half of that remarkable directing due Jeunette et Caro, is trading hats in to be a producer. He’s putting together Windwalkers chronicle of the 34th hoard. It’s a 3D animated feature about a world where powerful winds have devastated the world and a small group of survivors have mounted an expedition to find the source of the wind. Sounds OK, (especially since Caro will not be directing). Helming it will be Jan Kounen.


Kounen is a hero of mine. His debut Doberman is one of those unrepeatable triumphs yet each time he steps up to the plate I hope he will do it again. So Yes. I have an eye on this.


John Carter.

I asked myself, why bother with it. There are a bunch of blockbusters out this year. some even science fiction. But this is different. This different like Star Wars, like Chronicles of Riddick; it is full bore, no one is going go on the press junket saying “it’s not really… science fiction”. In fact I was watching footage from that junket and the image of mounted Tharks traversing Barsoom’s desserts was just like a 1970s paperback cover.

No Hiding from that.


John Carter (review)

It’s epic, sweeping, majestic, an funny and heartfelt and…

Are you getting a certain impression here?

Well, I haven’t read Burroughs’ original but I’m pretty sure a lot of story engineering went on here, a lot of the plot elements were moved around and the result is a pretty well integrated narrative. To be honest it does not make science fictional sense at all. But the story logic is solid.

What is more once you get past the first few moments meeting the eight foot tall green Tharks you forget they are CG creations and accept them as characters. In fact John Carter has the least offensive CGI in a big budget film I’ve seen in a while.

It’s smartly made, the cast is thoroughly professional: they raided the TV series Rome and the movie 300 to get that suitably classical level of performance. The leads don’t miss a step, Taylor Kitsch makes a manly Carter, Lynn Collins a feisty Dejah Thoris (rather more feisty than Burroughs would have her).

I’ll say it. I liked it. Much more than I expected, it brought out the inner eight year old in me, it was adventure, romance and melodrama.

Like many recent films there’s no real originality here;

you can start racking up the comparisons, Dune, Star Wars, Avatar. We’ve seen key elements of John Carter in all of these, but it does not matter the traditional storytelling and the sheer love the film makers have for the material (and in this era of cynical marketing-lead movies this was a labour of love) raises the film above the level of pot boiler. This is a film all of the family can enjoy.


Now a lot has been said about its box office performance, some say it underperformd. And to be honest it will not make Dark Knight style money. However it’s doing much better internationally and if it edges to word four or five-hundred million we could see a sequel; I’d line up for that.


Whether there is or is not a John Carter sequel, the implications of the less than stellar box office will be widely felt.

I expect this will be the end of Disney Science Fiction features for a while. At least the live action ones. After the underperformance of Tron last year and this, the money men will be thinking (incorrectly) that Science fiction is just not something the studio does very well. It will mean the cancellation of a good many projects. Perhaps some of them (Like Oblivion did) will escape to other studios, most however will go into permanent turn-around.


What is Cronenberg doing? Lately he’s been a bit random: a feature on the history of psychoanalysis, a Don Delilo adaptation, and plans for a feature about a woman in love with a black home. The latest venture is into television. He’s teamed up with Sam Raimi to executive produce a series called Knifeman. He’s also directing the pilot. its about a self taught surgeon..

I perfectly understand if he doesn’t want to make horror movies anymore; but it’s far from obvious what he actually does want to do.


File under “what the heck?” The guitarist with The Mars Volta directed a movie. It’s

called Los Chidos. And American is force to spend some time with a Mexican family when his car breaks down. However the family is as mad as a box of spanners (that’s wrenches for all the Americans out there.). Hme, sounds like a south-western “Visitor Q”, and to be honest it has been compared to Takeshi.

More as it develops.


My own favourite Film Blog is John Scalzi’s. Not much in the way of news but his opinion is on point


And if you want some real news scoot over to Dark Horizons


I’m Jack Eris and If you know me you know Jack.

Grunting at the Screen (82)

3 Mar

There is something magical about a film before it is made, the script, the press releases the interviews. Most of all the Concept Art, vivid paintings showing what the film is supposed to look like.

It almost seems a pity that the film actually gets made… The concept paintings are always more exciting than the actual film, they always leave you feeling “I wanted to see that film…”

Edgar Rice Burrroughs’ A Princess of Mars almost got made more times than I care to count, and in the process lots of concept art and demo reels were made.

Thankfully the io9 website collected some of them so we could experience some of these abandoned projects.

The earliest one was an animated version in the thirties. 

After that Disney had the option for years, but I have no art from that era.

Later Kerry (Sky Captain) Conran had the helm and he produced some video

After he moved on one of my favourite directors, Robert Rodriguez was in the chair.

I found no video but there was some art.

Now these all versions are history, but it’s good to think of what might have been….


The first reviews of John Carter have emerged and the verdict is cautiously optimistic. They like it…but they don’t love it.



Guillermo Del Toro is quite an animation enthusiast; he has been working behind the scenes on several projects, including the recent Dreamworks film, Puss.

The latest film to catch his attention is Day of the Dead, no not another remake of the Romero classic but something actually based on the Mexican Day of the Dead (fancy that.)

The general plot is a Romeo and Juliet style romance set amount the ghoulish festivities. Sounds good.

It’s a Mexican production and Jorge R. Gutierrez is directing.


The Film Industry has a love-hate relationship with mythic movies. It’s in the love phase now since Immortals made good money and Wrath of the Titans is about to hove its hideous head into view. Bidding to join them is Hercules: the Thracian Wars, a project which has been in play for a while. As well as a Sword and Sandals project it is also a comic book movie, based on Steve Moore’s book of the same name.

Brett Ratner is set to direct; a word here. He gets ripped into a lot, and yeah I don’t like his Rush Hour films either, but I thought X-Men: The Last Stand was really good.

The Rock is pencilled in for the lead. Now this does give me pause. I Like Dwayne Johnson, he’s an affable guy, but his acting range is even less than Vin Diesel’s (and that’s saying something.) That said Hercules has traditionally been a … how shall we say, robustly portrayed character and in this case grace -notes may not be required.

(Actually, let me take askance at this: three years ago I read quite an extensive book on Hercules -or Heracles in the old Greek- and his various portrayals, yes he was always shown as poor with a sword and preferring the Club as a weapon, but he had potential. Everyone knows of his Twelve Labours -not a factor in this current movie- but do you know he obliged to perform them to purify himself? And why was that? He murdered his own wife and children. In fact Hercules had to endure quite a few purifications for very similar reasons. This recasts the hero as less of a meathead, more like a sociopath or narcissist with post traumatic stress. Now that would be a character with depth. One day someone will make that movie and I will be first in line to watch it.)


Ridley Scott’s Prometheus is rising, but there will be more about that as the release time approaches. What I am more interested in is what he will do next.

Rumours are he has a lot of fun filming it; there has been talk of Prometheus II. Of course lots of talk of the Blade Runner prequel and some of you may remember he still has the rights to The Forever War.

Well I strongly suspect his next film will not be science fiction at all.

It looks like he will be moving on to The Counsellor, a film written for the screen by Cormac McCarthy. It is about the drugs trade in the Southwest, and flavour of the month Michael Fassbender has already been cast in the lead.

Of course I have some misgiving (No, The Counsellor will probably be fine) but if Scott takes it on he is less likely to get around to the big Science Fiction epics. I’m just saying.


Lockout is approaching. Now I like Luc Besson’s productions, lately they’ve been way more reliable than the ones he’s directed. On the other hand French science fiction movies suck (work with me, they have form for this: Renaissance, Chrysalis, Eden Log, Dante 01…suck, suck, suck.) But on the third hand* the directors Stephen St. Leger and James Mather are not French.

We all know the premise: President’s daughter is trapped in an Orbital Prison; one prisoner has to rescue her. (Did Besson see Escape from New York once and has been unable to get it out of his mind? What is it?)

But aside from the dodgy French connection and the winning premise (how many good space prison movies do you know)… aside from all that… I’m interested.

OK, it’s not a prequel, sequel or adaptation from a TV series, game or comic. So technically it’s original. And publicity has been ramping up; I’ve seen some of the trailer. Predictably it’s full of cheap CG, but cool CG. Huh? It looks like it’s plucked from a console game: brash, bright and stylised. Ooh!

So, more news closer to release, but I am keeping an eye on this one.


Saw the Avengers….oops “Avengers Assemble”** trailer. What’s the word? Fuck! Oh Fuck! Oh Fuck! Looks like Transformers…only good. Indescribably stylish, dynamic and watchable.

Now this is a problem.

Before, I had no expectations. I knew it would be big, loud and bright, otherwise who knew? Now it looks like it may be good.

Better not disappoint.


Grzegors Jonkatys has been doing FX on big budget movies like War of the Worlds, The Incredible Hulk, Battleship, Iron Man 2, and the Star Trek reboot.He’s also made his own shorts like The Ark and The Third Letter.Now he’s ready to make his first feature. It’s called Snow King, about a man who can see Evil as a palpable thing. Feels a little like the Sixth Sense, but being it’s from an FX artist, it will have a big visual component.


Rampart (review)

The strapline on the poster promised the dirtiest cop yet.That is a huge claim; let’s see if they can sustain it.

The gold standard for dirty cops is of course the original Bad Lieutenant’s Harvey Kietel. How does Woody Harrelson as Dave Brown match up?

Substance abuse:

Harrelson downs a lot of liquor stuffs his mouth until he pukes and takes some drugs for his erectile dysfunction.

Kietel gets totally screwed up with two prostitutes on heroin.

Sexual malfeasance:

Harrelson picks up women in bars and has impersonal sex with them. Also goes to a sex club but does not seem to do anything.

As well as the junky prostitutes Kietel also accosts teen girls on a night out in their parent’s car and does something unspeakable… and then there is that incident with the naked nun.

Financial impropriety:

Harrelson steals from a stick-up gang and murders to conceal the theft.

Kietel attempts to steal drugs (sloppily), accumulates massive gambling debts to gangsters and tries to collar a couple of rapists to grab the reward money.


I think Kietel’s Bad Lieutenant wins in two out of three cases.

So Rampart is not as sleazy as we might like it. How about the story? Is it a good film?

It has great moments, like the card game rip off and the Rodney King style beating. And Woody Harrelson is brilliant; blustering, bullish, raging, finally crumbling mentally and emotionally. It may get him some kind of nomination or something.

This is the kind of film critics like; oblique, with moments of almost psychedelic obscurity and shots held for way longer than necessary.

However I was disappointed. It was co-written by James Ellroy so you might expect some kind of strong story backbone. However the narrative wanders, it never links up and it ends inconclusively. Harrelson’s good work is wasted in a film that refuses say anything.

Is Dave Brown a bad cop…?Yeah kinda, but he could be worse.

What is infuriating is the film bears the name of “Rampart” but aggressively refuses to look at the culture of corruption , drug dealing, torture and cover-ups that the Gang Unit of that Station were involved in. It is a tease.

The film had so much potential. Even ignoring its indifference to history it could have been a hard hitting look at police culture in LA and it failed at that because it was slow confusing, boring and irrelevant.

I actually like this tiny sub-genre; I love Bad Lieutenant, and Training Day and Brooklyn’s Finest. I would have loved to have liked this but I’d really rather watch repeats of The Shield.



OK, Next Week John Carter and the Raven open. It’s an Olympic summer, from now they’ll be coming thick and fast.






*Aye, the gripping hand, I’m a handy man I am!

** And what’s with the name change? Fercrissake, I bet they don’t even manage to fix all the posters in time!



My own favourite Film Blog is John Scalzi’s. Not much in the way of news but his opinion is on point


And if you want some real news scoot over to Dark Horizons



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