Archive | June, 2012

Grunting at the Screen (95)

30 Jun

 

 

The information age has not yet finished with us

 

 

Colombian action horror The Squad has received a DVD release. It’s been a while and it provides an insight into how slowly the process of international film acquisitions and releases works.

The Squad is a military horror movie not unlike similar offerings from Korea (Say R-Point).

 

 

Oh no he di’n’t! Vincenzo Natali was interviewed on the subject of his latest project, Haunter; and do you know how he described it? “if Philip K Dick had written a ghost story”. Woo! That’s a tall order.  Natali is saying it’s a ghost story with multiple layers of reality, told from the ghost’s point of view, where we are not sure just what is real. It is not, he emphasises,  Science Fiction.

 

 

Ubisoft has been trying to get into movies for some time. the superannuated game Splinter Cell is one of theirs, but they are not relying solely on the old stuff. They are appear to be going for a fresh project,  one not already peeked and forgotten in the games world. The forthcoming game Watch Dogs.

It has a standard cyberpunk scenario;  in the future our lives are dominated by machines, but a lone hacker hero challenges all of that. Meh.

Watch Dogs is due out in 2013.

 

 

Reviews of The Amazing Spiderman are in. Verdict is mixed. Actually the critics cannot agree on anything;  the characters, the FX, the 3D the very idea that Spiderman has been rebooted. Mildly strange. I’m still not going.

 

 

OK, Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter is just around the corner and the reviews are out. Again they are mixed. It’s joyless ly series, or wonderfully authentic, the action is pedestrian, or great fun, it’s bloodless or incredibly violent.  A persistent complaint is that the action may be fine but the film dies whenever the character development is going on. I’m sorry to say this is also a 3D movie. Needless to say, I still went.  

 

 

Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter. Review

Or as I call it, “President Evil.”

Free the slaves

Kill the Vampires

Get to the theatre…

 

It’s OK. Well it’s absurd, and it fits together awkwardly, the make up effects are not quite perfect, and the final action sequence is just unbelievable…but its still OK.

Ten year old Abraham Lincoln witnesses his mother murdered by a vampire and in true Bruce Wayne fashion vows vengeance. He grows up and takes lessons from veteran hunter , so he can go to work bringing death to the undead. As he becomes a seasoned hunter he learns the vampire breed have settled in the American South to take advantage of slavery and freed upon its victims. The struggle against slavery and the war on vampires become one, and Lincoln endeavours to win one by ending the other. In between there are some kick ass action scene.

 

Like I say, it’s absurd, Lincoln learns to twirl his silver coated ax like a majorette and prance around like a  Cirque Du Solei dancer. This is very much in the tradition of Martial arts versus supernatural tradition that we have seen degenerate into the Underworld and Resident Evil Sequels. However Bekmambetov brings freshness to it it with kinetic sequences such as have never been seen before like a mid film del among stampeding horses (think of it as a nineteenth century equivalent of the freeway chase in Matrix Reloaded) and the final sequence in and on a speeding train is simply insane; a physics defying. In between we have character and plot moments that sit uncomfortably (but not painfully so) with the rest of the film. Does it drag..? Well a little, but again not fatally. It is worth a look if only for fresh cinematic ideas. It is far from perfect; at the end, despite the heavy themes of slavery , freedom and nation building it is still a bit of fluff, and Bekmambetov deserves better (especially after his wildly innovative Night Watch and Wanted), but this will serve until he finds subject matter that truly resonates with him.

 

 

Nacho Vigalondo’s latest movie, Extraterrestrial, is coming out soon. I’m not going. A lot of people loved his debut, Timecrimes, I thought it was a poor iteration of the usual time paradox idea. His next project is something called   “Windows” which he describes as another narrative labyrinth, Hmph. After that’ he’ll get to his Mark Millar project, Supercrooks.

 

 

With 250 million scooped up a the box office it seems certain that Prometheus will have a sequel. Only two questions remain: when will it happen? Who will direct. It’s not a billion dollar movie, that dictates the sequel will not come soon, perhaps in three to five years. Ridley Scott also has a lot on his plate, after the Cormac Mcarthy movie he is doing, he can jump in any number of directions: the Monopoly Movie, Gertrude Bell (with Angelina Jolie) … he may even do the Blade Runner sequel (though,  as I have said, I find it hugely unlikely). Prometheus 2 is likely to be passed onto another director with Ridley producing and possibly developing the story. Ridley owns RSA advertising agency, he knows scores of talented young directors (who will do exactly what he tells them to.)

 

Will the Blade Runner sequel be the Blade Runner sequel? Taking in the distinct possibility it may not be made at all, consider. Time has moved on. Many of Blade Runner’s coolest moves have been taken. The megalithic cities, the flying cars, the urban density and ethnic diversity,  that looks and feel has been stolen, can Ridley Scott return to it without being  third generation copy of himself? To approach this just look at haw he has handled Prometheus. he exiled the most recognisable aspects of  Alien and the refined the less iconic imagery. He kept just two things,  both HR Giger elements: The Space Jockey, and the alien space ship. He may decide to take a similar approach with the Blade Runner sequel.   Remove the most iconic Blade Runner aspects and refine the less obvious ones. With Prometheus he pulled everything towards the more visually realistic, he may do so with the Blade Runner sequel. One thing that might change is the eternal night. Sure Fifth Element gave us the megalithic city in sunlight, but I am sure Scott believes he can do it better. He may also feel free to demonstrate the passage of time with technological advancements in the Science Fiction milieu.  What would surprised me the, most would be a meticulous recreation of the original film’s look.  And what of Deckard? One minor motivation for taking on a Blade Runner sequel might be to settle the tediously repeated question: Is Deckard a replicant. Scott has answered this in documentaries: Yes he is. He may get his chance to demonstrate it on film;   with or without Harrison Ford. If Scott obtains the image rights, he may simply recreate Deckard digitally with Ford’s appearance.

 

 

Robots Everywhere.

Gareth Edwards’ robot collaboration with  Timur Bekmambetov has got a name: Forever. As I said before it involves a young boy in a world full of robots. They are working the second draft of the script (unlike Edwards’ first move, Monsters, which had no script). 

 

 

Now you remember Act of Valor.. er no? Hme..so I didn’t see it either, but it seems the team behind that film (you didn’t actually expect me to go over Act of Valor again did you?) are going all robot with The Prototype (I hope it is nothing like the Prototype movie from the early nineties…that was foul!) Anyway we have the usual plot; android escapes from a military base. More news as it develops.

 

 

Isn’t it late for a British  Terminator rip-off? I’d rather be expecting a Bollywood… no they’ve had one… er Malaysian… nope them too… er Russian! Yes! Russia hasn’t had one!  I’d rather expect a Russian Terminator rip-off than a British one. But a British one is what we have. Having only heard the title of Caradog James’ new project “The Machine” I wasn’t sure which way he was jumping. in the near future the Ministry of Defence has been working on the ultimate female soldier (no comment) of course something goes wrong (never!) and the android wrecks the lab. The lead scientist has not lost faith and continues working on her in secret, in fact an emotional bond has formed between them.. Dyam! Sounds like Battle Angel Alita again.  Principle photograpy beings in July, in Wales.

 

 

Robert Rodreguez failed to get it off the ground but it loks like there is renewed energy behind Barbarella. This time as a TV series. Could work. (personally I think the original movie was pretty but devoid of plot, so the only way is up from there).

Nicolas Winding Refn, is contracted to direct and executive produce the pilot. It has potential.

 

 

Barry Sonnenfeld is set to adapt DC Comics’  The Metal Men. Warners having failed with second stringer DC Hero Green Lantern are going  for a third stringer superteam this time around. Who knows…it could work.

 

 

Dutch pervert set to get biblical on our asses.

Paul Verhoeven has been a member of a Jesus study group for two decades, he hasn’t suddenly sprung a conscience over showing us so much bloodshed and Sharon Stones muffin. No he is interested in the Historical not the divine Jesus. Now he is ready to turn his studies into a movie. Roger (Pulp Fiction) Avery will write a script that includes no miracles but a very maculate conception. I pass my condolences along to Verhoeven’s widow in advance of some Tea Party nutjob busting a long-range cap in the director’s ass.

 

 

No! No, no no no no! He ruined the Blade Trilogy, He ruined Wolverine, he ruined Green Lantern…actually that came pre-ruined, but he didn’t improve it. Now Ryan Reynolds is set to destroy the reboot of the Highlander series. To be honest , its a remake, there is not much that can be done for it , but really; can you buy him as an immortal Scotsman? God, I hope he doesn’t try to do  an accent…

 

 

He may have made a string of hit movies, he may be a bigger (and likely more respected) African-American director than Spike Lee but in the United kingdom we say “Who the fuck is Tyler Perry? Well he’s the guy tooling up to make his first space movie. I shouldn’t be surprised, eventually he’d get tired of making rom-coms. He says he’s a big fan of the Alien movies. So far there are no details, title, plot , nothing. Hme.

 

 

Superhero movies are dead*, but until it’s twitching body realises it here’s another costume freak movie: The Human Fly, based on the life or real stuntman Joe Ramacieri, this was a Marvel comic back in the seventies. Marvel is no long involved with the character, Eisenberg-Fisher are developing the movie.

 

 

I really should see Storage 24. It’s just the kind of film I watch just for the hell of it.  British, low budget horror picture that just wants to have fun: such impulses lead me to Dog Soldiers, Shaun of the Dead, and Attack the Block. However it’s been a busy year and I’ve already seen as many movies by June as I saw all of last year. But what are the reviews saying? Well they say the leads deliver competent performances, though the supporting cast is under written and underplayed, the FX are surprisingly good for a  low budget picture. However, and a big however, the story and directing are cliché (if solid- the name of  Alien comes up frequently) as is the design of the monster, and the film as a whole does not stand comparison to the break-out films of recent British horror.

 

 

If you look at the average movie line-up you might be forgiven for thinking it was anywhere between 1985 and 1998. There’s scarce and original thing out there. Over at io9 they are as exasperated by the the re-this, pre-that and whatever numbers 2, 3 and however many that they are throwing at us. They have listed the genre films that actually live only for themselves, and its a fair list. Lets see if we can find that url for you.

 http://io9.com/5921089/upcoming-science-fiction-and-fantasy-movies-that-arent-remakes-sequels-or-prequels#13410462621954&{“type”:”iframeUpdated”,”height”:1043}

 

*Chill, I say that every year

 

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

http://www.darkhorizons.com/

 

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

 

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Grunting at the Screen (94)

17 Jun

 

 

The information age has not yet finished with us

 

 

After months without word we have some news of Neill Blomkamp’s Elysium. Elysium is in fact the name of a space station, where the superrich live, while the unwashed poor live on an overpopulated earth. Of course the people from down here want badly to get up there and there lies the story. That is so weird, I’ve just finished reading Battle Angel Alita and the second book is just like that…

Anyway, District 9 was one of the most extraordinary Science Fiction films of the decade and I’m eager to see what Blomkamp will do with this theme. They are shooting for a release in March 2013.

 

 

Out this month is Storage 24 from Noel Clark, a great pity, it comes out in the shadow of a whole lot of other genre movies and it is having trouble distinguishing itself from the pack.

In order to get ahead of Prometheus and the Dark Knight it has to bring some kind of uniqueness that I am not so for seeing, of course it’s been pretty cagy; we know it involves some kind of monster, possibly of extraterrestrial origin, trapped with some people in a London storage facility. Will that be enough? It remains to be seen.

 

 

When Terracotta had its festival in April we thought we were through with them for a year. Now I’ve never done a Terracotta, a pity, they do genre stuff from time to time,

Well it seems I have a chance to redeem myself. There’s Terracotta Hong Kong 15 starting 2nd July.

 

What a shock, Warner Bros. has started work on a Justice League movie. Well actually it’s revived work that was stalled for a while. Stalled until Avengers made a truck-load of money.

Will Beall is working on the latest screenplay. There is speculation that the studio is following Marvel’s strategy by paving the way with two preliminary features; Flash and Wonder Woman. Of course there will also be the Man of Steel movie next year.

The wave of neo-giallo rolls on with the Australian entry, Sorroral. You know the routine; woman starts seeing visions of a killer, turns out to be real, yadda yadda. I wasn’t that much into the first wave of giallo but if it floats your boat a trailer is out there.

 

Abraham Dieckman’s Trash and Progress is a western, post apocalyptic space Science Fiction mash-up filmed in San Francisco. Sounds nutty. I’ve seen the trailer; predictably cheap CG, but what the heck, at least they are making an effort. It’s still in production, but I really hope it’s better than it looks.

 

 

I cannot but express disappointment that Clive Barker has undertaken the rewrite of a script called Zombies vs. Gladiators for Amazon Studios. A zombie movie? Based in Ancient Rome? Sounds like any zombie movie crossed with that abortive project Werewolves and Gladiators. Anyway, Barker describes it as his, “dream ticket.”

 

Oh great, another found footage film. Seems like Chronicle opened the floodgates and they’ve realised that horror is not the only genre they can use. This time they want to bring the style to the Time Travel film.

Glimmer is the name of the script written by Carter Blanchard and being developed by DreamWorks (you’d think they had enough money to make real movies.)

No details but we are promised a young and perky cast (So it’s Twilight, meets Paranormal Activity doing the Time Machine; thanks.)

 

Takashi Miike is generally known for a style full of blood and brutality. In fact he has a sideline in children’s movies; the Great Yoki War and Ninja Kids show just a sliver of his versatility, as does his latest film for a younger audience, Yatterman, it is based on an Anime series and as such has a complex story I will not attempt to understand let alone replete (Ok, it involves an alternate future) What draws me is one thing; Mecha. It’s a live action film with Robot suits. Hmme! OK, as you imagine there will be a fair amount (vast) of CG (and I’ll guess it will be from the cheaper end.) However there will be some live Mecha action and this alone makes it worth a look.

Best of all you will not have to wait for it to crawl into the theatres, it’s coming on DVD. There will be a British Distribution from Eureka! Entertainment. (I’m astonished there’s no US Distributor, what’s up with that?)

 

 

Just Add Pirates

Following on the success of Snow White and the Huntsman…Wait, what did you say? Only moderately successful? OK, following in from the moderate success of the Other Snow White film, director Rupert Sanders is proposing an as of yet unnamed Science Fiction film based on the classic feature ‘Battle Of Algiers’. David Koepp is writing it. Now I’m not hugely interest except for the trend. It seems more frequently where you see a Science Fiction film, it is being adapted from a non- Science Fiction origin. As if you take anything, set it in space and make it more interesting.

In the spring we heard of plans for Zorro, as Science Fiction. Last year a spin on the Count of Monte Cristo (no, not Tyger Tyger) and a take on Moby Dick, in space.

None of these films were actually made, not surprising, most film projects remain unmade. What concerns me is the lack of ambition, why do this, take a classic book, or movie and add space pirates (To be honest, I have no indication that any of these projects involves space pirates, but you get the drift). For very modest amounts (I was dismayed to learn just how modest) you can purchase the rights to genuine Science Fiction classics, with original plots and as of yet unexploited ideas. OK, I can dream.

 

Prometheus’ Box office looked good at first. Initially opening outside the US, it was the number one film in the UK and Russia and number two in France. It was Ridley Scott’s best ever British opening. The real test was when it opened in the US. Up against Madagascar 3 it made fifty million dollars and came in second, which isn’t bad; Ridley Scott’s second best opening and the best opening for any film related to the Alien Franchise (neatly pipping Aliens Vs. Predator).

The Worldwide opening ran at $140m, which is no disaster. In fact, it could be called a modest success.

Prometheus is getting a book; Prometheus: the Art of the Film. Cool. there was a period in the late nineties and early noughties where it was uncool to bring a book out with your film, but those days are gone; DVD extras are out and sumptuous coffee table books are in. What has excited the film blogs is that the book includes numerous images of unused FX and creatures. I felt a stirring that was justified when I finally handled the book in the Forbidden Planet; it’s full of sketches, concept art, storyboards and Ridleygrams*. Not to speak of the countless production photos. 

Meanwhile Ridley is promising an Extended cut 20 minutes longer and 30 minutes of deleted scenes (well 10 minutes, as this also includes the 20 minutes going into the Extended cut.)

 

And here’s a blast from the past. I thought the Snow Crash movie was deader than disco but it’s back in play. The surprising thing is whose linked to it. Joe Cornish, director of Attack the Block. I always thought Cornish was one to watch, I scarcely thought he’d be making the jump to something of this size. And as I said Snow Crash seemed pretty unlikely; Science Fiction films have been having a patchy reception; John Carter got its management fired, Prometheus arguably under-performed. Joe Cornish is set to write a direct, Frank Marshal and Kathleen Kennedy are producing.

 

I glanced upon a photo of Idris Elba in a jumpsuit for Pacific Rim, (he looked like he was trying out for GI Joe) and I realised, he’s been in a bunch of genre movies lately; Thor, Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance, Prometheus, and Pacific Rim. Have these been conscious choices?

 

Amidst the plethora of sequels and reboots comes something I am actually interested in. Shane Acker made a film called 9 that was actually half good. It was an animated feature about a little woolsock robot struggling along with his companions in a wrecked post apocalyptic landscape. It looked god and it worked up until the ending. 9 failed financially, but I hoped he’d be given a gig again and he has. It’s called Deep and its genesis is actually interesting.  It’s being produced by a game developer called Valve; they are responsible for the acclaimed games Half Life and Portal. This isn’t the first time a game company has dipped its toe in the film world. This time they are using their Source Game engine for the actual animation (It’s actually quiet late in the game, Machinima has been around for more than a decade I would have though television would be full of its animation and it would have had a couple of features by now.)  Anyway Deep is set in a …Post-apocalyptic   undersea world. OK, it’s undersea, that makes it different from 9. No-one knows what Valve plans to do with this, their games development team are building a level based on Deep, but the question of distribution remains: will it be a webisode, a DVD, are get theatrical distribution?

 

Tom Clancy’s Splinter Cell game is up for cinematic adaptation. Hme. Isn’t that game..  a little long in the tooth? Why not  Call of Duty, Why not Battlefield 3? Once again we have a superannuated game creaking towards the screen.

 

Director Rob Coen (of xXx and Mummy 3 fame) has an idea; he wants to make an movie about Isaac Newton… action hero.

You, of course can hear me sighing from here. I got into it back when they wanted to make an action hero out of Leonardo da Vinci. Why? What is the point? I am calling it “the Sherlock Holmes effect”: take in intellectual hero, turn them into a meathead. It is not enough that we have plenty of genuine historical figures, men of action all, as of yet not exploited in a major motion picture, no, we have to take the giants of the mind and swing them from balconies, because of course there’s nothing heroic about picking up book. Incidentally this is something Hollywood executives, and apparently some directors, never do; pick up a book and read it. It’s why so many films are made from comics (the pictures are pretty) so many made from video games (so pretty) and so many from TV shows (no reading there) so many from foreign movies (hey look, they did most of the work for us) and so many from films that already exist (just do what he did).

Ah, that was good. That said, Newton did have his crime busting years, he ran the Royal Mint which included taking on the forgers; enough action for ya?

 

I feel obliged to mention this. JJ Abrams is planning the God Particle, a low budget Science Fiction movie based on the notion that a quantum physics experiment has caused the earth to disappear. An American space craft witnesses this vanishing and is faced with a dilemma when a European space craft approaches it.

For some reason the summary puts my teeth on edge, it seems to be spurious even by Los Angeles standards, I do wish they would go away and make another comic book movie.

 

Juan of the Dead is out on disk, should see it. No I really should, but I’m increasingly sure I won’t. It’s Cuban, that’s good; I like genre films coming from fresh parts of the world. It’s a Zombie film, that’s bad, I’m up to my neck in Zombies and if it ain’t the Walking Dead I’m not interested. Reviews are enthusiastic, that’s good. But it’s still a Zombie movie.

 

Oh, look at that Metal Tornado is out on disc. I’d given up on that one. It’s an Australian film that’s been knocking around the international film markets since 2009, and yes it does what it says on the tin. Scientist discover magnetic tornados on Mercury, after years of research they duplicate the phenomenon on earth; big mistake, they lose control of it and a swirling mass of metal is unleashed on the earth.   We have some reviews, and the suggestions are it’s: cheap, badly acted, has poor fx, and it’s boring. To be perfectly fair this isn’t just a random supermarket disc, it did get some coverage four years ago, just not lately.

 

Heading for a disc release is Erotibot starring Maria Ozawa written by Naoyuki Tomomatsu.

Tamayo is protected by three androids. Her niece, Tsukiyo wants to kill her aunt, but she has to get past her android guards. the review suggests this is cheap, badly made and even the nudity is boring. However it is a comedy parody of Blade Runner, for all that is worth and the strapline on the box is “Do heiresses dream of erotic androids”. Hme..yeah.

 

You know, I like Japanese movies, I like Tsukamoto, I like Meatball Massacre, I like Warm Water Under a Bridge, I like both versions of the Abe Sade story,** I like Sonatine, I like Verses. So tell me… why haven’t I seen a Japanese movie I’ve liked lately? No, really? Where have they all gone? Anyway, something will come along, something…wonderful.

Maybe something like this: Hideo Nakata , director of Ringu is working on something called Suicide Forest, I’m not fan of Ringu (ooh, sacrilege!) but this has potential The Suicide Forest is a real place, a woodland just outside of Tokyo where distraught urbanites experience that last hours of their lives.  Of course this in itself is not interesting enough, I believe the film will involve some evil spirits.

 

Jonah Hill is about to direct the Kitchen Sink written by  Oren (Mortal Kombat) Uziel about vampire, a zombie, and a human going up against alien invaders. Does it say something that I’m not even surprised? I mean they could have thrown Ninjas in for good measure…But they didn’t.

Much to my surprise filming has begun on Joseph Kosinski’s  Oblivion, yes, it may be a Tom Cruise film but it is also an original Science Fiction feature which looks pretty interesting. For a while it seemed it would never get going.

 

Matt Westrup made a nasty short film called The Gate; near future action drama about genetic experimentation and its icky results.  I don’t do shorts, so, as you imagine I’m only telling you that it has been purchased by  Wayfare Entertainment for production as a feature. This one is British and takes place on the mean streets of London…I glanced at some footage, the CG is cheap but passable and the monsters have that rubbery Splice look. It has a lot of potential.

 

The last Russian Sword and Sorcery film to grace these shores was Wolfhound (I didn’t see it, no one liked it). Perhaps they can have a bigger impact with the Hoard. by Director Andrei Proshkin This time they are going Mongolian. It’s released in Russia in September, no word yet on a British release.

 

He’s the most famous fictional character that most people have not heard of his name is Parker and he’s been the subject of five movies and countless (OK, maybe twenty, thirty) novels, and a graphic novel I am reading at this moment.

The reason he’s not more well known is he’s always been called something else, in Point Blank he was “Walker” in the Payback he was “Porter.”

In 1962 Donald Westlake (under the pseudonym of “Richard Stark”) gave us the Hunter, and an icon was born.

They are making another movie about him right now with Jason Statham in the lead. This time under the name Parker, so there is a certain imperative for this portrayal to be definitive, it may be the incarnation under which he is always known.

I like Statham, I like him a lot, but is he the man for the job?

Parker inhabits a criminal underworld rooted in, but not limited to the mid sixties,  a world of tough guys and mean girls. It is a very American world. I don’t think Statham is up to it.

My other concern is  the name, the film is just called “Parker”. That is that about? there are a ton of novels. Is this an adaptation of one of them? What I fear is it is a cobbled  version of the character taking from some of the novels but relying on the Hunter (basis of both  Point Blank and the Payback ) I also fear there may be innovations that have nothing to do with the character or his world. I’m afraid this film may be done without love.

Online summaries describe Parker  as a thief with a code of honour, somewhat diverging from the character in the books. On the Plus side Michael Chiklis is playing the antagonist, so that should be good.

What does it really need? It needs to be a heist movie, this is what he does, it needs to show him as he is, cold, direct, a stone killer, his only morality is that everyone keeps their world and he always gets paid. And it has to have the fixtures of his world, the fences or “juggers” of his world and his sometime partner Allan Grofield. 

Word of this film has reached Richard Stark’s fan community, they are also concerned about Jason Statham.

But so far no one has asked, what of the director, Taylor Hackford? Is he up to the job?

 

 

 

*Ridley Scott’s famous miniature sketches.

** Yes I know there are more than two.

 

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

http://www.darkhorizons.com/

 

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

 

The information age has not yet finished with us

 

 

 

 

 

 

Grunting at the Screen (93)

2 Jun

 

 

The information age has not yet finished with us

 

 

 

 

 

Prometheus Rising

 

Ridley Scott made two science fiction movies and then left the genre for nearly thirty years.

Yet in those two entries he revolutionised science fiction film… twice.

Can he do that a third time? Frankly I doubt it.

Not because he isn’t good, but it is so rare for lightning to strike three times.

But it’s Ridley Scott and we’d be fools to count him out.

 

Before the release of Prometheus the media saturation was outrageous, multiple teaser trailers a massive main trailer taking up an entire TV ad break, I don’t know about the States but over here they were plugging it on TV incessantly. The web presence has been huge too; with interviews, set visits and of course those trailers.

Key to all of this was the long running speculation of whether it was in fact a Prequel to Alien.

If we can say anything, it’s that the movie was not under marketed.

 

Once again I have to ask, can any film endure this much hype and not disappoint? Maybe. Avengers survived and prospered, but then again it delivered (within its remit). You know there is a problem here.

Avengers was not expected to do anything else but deliver on the promises of the movies feeding into it (all heroes’ present, all given their moments) and of course to be good fun.

However Prometheus has the long shadow of Alien hanging over it. Now I have watched Alien a bunch of times. Don’t reach for the soft fruit now, but it is not perfect. Alien is B-movie made good. Its considerable power is in the insistence of its reality. You cannot help but believe in it because of the completeness of its world. It’s also a damned good thriller. Alien breaks new ground but not in terms of its ideas.

From the little we know Prometheus is aiming higher than Alien, it is looking at the origin of mankind, at the possibility of alien visitation in our past. Ambition is good. Higher ambition way further to fall.

 

If Prometheus is only as good as Alien it will have failed. It is fighting not just the reality of Alien as a superbly designed, tense, science fiction thriller, but the legend of Alien as a Science Fiction classic.

Out of the box Prometheus has to be a classic.

It’s got a lot of advantages. It looks great in trailers; it has a first class cast.

And yes, it has to make money. If it nudges a billion then it will de-facto be a classic no matter what the critics say.

 

Will Prometheus make money? I honestly do not know. After Avatar I would have said ‘sure’. After John Carter, who knows? Do enough people care? Does this generation care, or are fixated on what happened thirty years ago. Is there still an audience? Does Ridley Scott’s style still jibe with that audience?

 

I hope it will be huge.

But most of all I hope it’s good; a smart, suspenseful movie that makes it worth waiting 32 years.

 

The road to Prometheus was a long one. It perhaps started with Alien Verses Predator, a project which both Ridley Scott and Sigourney Weaver decried. At that time they teased the idea of a sequel bringing back Ripley. But even then Scott was expressing interest in the story of the Space Jockey figure from the first film and exploring his planet of origin. As late as 2008 there were informal discussions with Weaver.

Gradually the idea evolved away from a sequel towards a prequel which would answer questions relating to the derelict spaceship, the space jockey and his origins.

For a while there was talk of a reboot of the original starting with the fated encounter with the alien parasite in the derelict space ship. This was quickly nixed in favour of the plan for a sequel which Ridley and others would produce but would be directed by a newcomer.

It would be a good plan, the franchises original creator would provide a guiding hand, and fresh blood would revitalise it. The proposed director was Carl Erik Rinsch who in every way was the current wunderkind. Rinch was a very capable director of commercials but has also wowed the movie world with a short film called The Gift, heavily designed and haunting, it was widely touted as the basis for a feature. Instead Rinsch got an offer to relaunch one of the most famous science fiction series.   

A good plan but not good enough, 20th Century fox loved the idea of an Alien Prequel, they didn’t fancy one directed by an unknown. They wanted Ridley. There were some renegotiations. Rinsch was out Scott was in.

At this point John Spaiht was attached to the project to write the script. His highly regarded screenplay ended up in the hands of David Lindoff and The prequel became the more ambiguous Prometheus.

In the process of rewriting the script the Alien elements were scaled back and the film was refocused on big ideas like ancient alien visitation and the origin of mankind.

 

Slowly, as details emerge, it appears Prometheus is presenting itself as more. More than a prequel to Alien, more than science fiction horror, more than an action sci-fi spectacular. Apparently it has ambition. Film journalists are becoming nervous even as 20th Century Fox expresses confidence in the highbrow approach of Scott’s vision.  Can a smarter Science Fiction movie succeed? One already has. Inception made almost a billion dollars. No-one expects Prometheus to do that kind of box office, but it indicates the height of financial ceiling. More importantly, will Prometheus be smart enough? Will it meet our expectations? Oh I hope so.

 

 

Jon Spaihts has come a long way. Since he wrote an unproduced script called Shadow 19 which got the attention of Ridley Scott’s his career has just gone up and up, he’s not the only writer to take advantage of being hot and current. But he seems to have parlayed his first script into being the industry’s go-to guy for space movies.

Back in 2007 his script Passengers made the Black List of best unproduced screenplays.

In fact he’s progressed all the way from exciting original scripts to the reboot of the Mummy.

He’s actually written two scripts for Disney, one an untitled one under Jerry Bruckheimer, the other under Scott Rudin titled “Children of Mars.”

Spaihts is not the only one to have benefited from Prometheus. Rewriter Damon Lindelof was known for writing Lost but since Prometheus he has been everywhere. Blogs cannot stop interviewing him, and he’s written a space movie for Disney named 1952 (which will never get made, Disney are cutting back everywhere.)

Of course if Prometheus breaks large Lindelof will be first in line to write the sequel.

 

Newspapers indicate Prometheus is tracking large at IMAX theatres. at London’s BFI screenings were fully booked to a tune of half a million pounds before frame one of the film had been screened.

 

Early Reviews for Prometheus came in. The verdict was mixed. They all agree it has been superbly designed and shot. Every review praised Fasbender’s performance, and agrees that he is the best thing in it. It seems the FX and even the 3D are exemplary. But as to quality, there is disagreement. Sadly none of them insist it is the enduring classic it needs to be. One says it functions as an excellent thriller, without transcending the genre. The other is more disappointed generally, although it acknowledged the technical superiority of the film making.

Hme.

 

As the reviews kept coming in one, from the Telegraph, was very enthusiastic indeed.  He also finds difficulty reconciling the blockbuster format with the movie of ideas, but he also was mesmerised, fascinated and excited, in fact he says Scott has been more visually creative than he has been in years.

The Guardian is much less enthusiastic.

In fact the trend is wide division in opinions from wild enthusiasm to deep disappointment.

 

Prometheus: The Review.

I liked it.

 

Oh? You want more than that? OK, Let’s start with the obvious. It is exquisitely well shot. The production design is exemplary. The FX are flawless. But you expected this.

The cast put in a solid performance, and Yes Michael Fassbender steals the show with his unearthly rendition of an android.

 

There are some surprises. The pace is nowhere near as slow as the original Alien, but it is, let us say legato. If you went bugfuck over The Avengers last month, you will lose patience with this. And there are other plot related surprises.

 

To be honest this is made of the elements of Alien, there is much familiar here. But each element is repurposed, the same things but acting very differently within the plot.

 

Arching over all of this is Ridley Scott’s major idea about the origins and destiny of humankind, and this makes all of the difference, it provides not just the raison d’être of this film, but gives deep background to Alien itself.

 

This is a well made film, fill of tension thrills, and horror.  Scott is a director operating at the peak of his technical form; it is a pleasure to watch how he creates atmosphere, tension, and spectacle. It is a smart film with real ideas. And it is a satisfying film that delivers on its premises.

 

However it that is all it delivers on. Scott has not reinvented science fiction cinema for a third time. This is not a science fiction classic, but it’s a fine film, as good as anything I’ve seen this year. Really.

Oh yes. It has a sequel friendly ending but even then, it leaves us with a few hanging questions, not so much to be annoying, just to leave us thinking.

Miss it and you’ll regret it.

 

 

 

The Vice

While we are on the subject of pointless speculation let’s get back to the Blade Runner sequel. there has been a lot of rumour as to whether Harrison Ford will come back. This has been answered twice, there have been no talks with Ford, and Ridley himself stated he wanted to bring back the character of Deckard even if Ford was not on board. This is not the issue. What is, is the style of the move. Since Blade Runner in 1984 there have been many developments. The film itself served as inspiration to endless Music Videos and feature films (most pale imitations) but recently the film industry (mostly using digital technology) have caught up with the visual density of Blade Runner. The Fifth Element, Minority Report, even Repo Men all replicated the dense urban future with some effectiveness. The question is; can you make the sequel the same way as the original, or does it need to be updated. I am not talking technology, of course there will be digital tech and lots of it. The question is; is the Blade Runner look just another outmoded future, as hackneyed as Jules Verne and buck Rogers? And what if there are big changes in the sequel. Will an audience accept a new and improved future? Will they say ‘that’s not Blade Runner.” In a sense Ridley Scott is trapped between Scylla and Charybdis.

 

 

Ah DVDs. Chronicle has come to disk with a package noticeable light on extras.

At least it has some because Iron Sky (as predicted) has been released on disk. It has zero extras and this is unconscionable. Five years in the making and they couldn’t throw in a featurette, take a walk of shame guys.

It must be a Nazi month because we are coincidentally (yeahright) seeing the released of War of the Dead.  formerly known as Stones War, this is another in the Nazi Zombie genre.  It’s the usual thing; elite allied deep in Europe attack a  German bunker, only to have the soldiers they have just killed return to life and counter attack.

 

HP Lovercraft’s short story “Cool Air” comes in the screen in the shape of Chill, a film by  directed by Serge Rudnunsky. actually it’s more ‘inspired by’. yes we have a Dr. Munoz whose peculiar physiological condition forces him to live in a permanent state of refrigeration. Where it veers from Lovercraft the good Dr also controls a serial killer, there’s also an extraneous love plot.

Yeek! Kekkou Kamen is back!

The masked ninja whose power comes from , comes from… how do I put this in the most delicate way? It comes from “that which makes her a woman”. Anyway, she’s back in a new live action movie. Mask the Kekkou Reborn. In popular Manga and anime Kekkou was the defender of abused young girls. She was also the subject of at least seven live previous action films. This new version stars Kishi Aino and very few details are available. Apparently this one is written by celebrated manga writer Go Nagai (Mazinger, DevilMan)

 

 

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

http://www.darkhorizons.com/

 

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