Archive | January, 2013

Grunting at the Screen (111)

23 Jan

The information age has not yet finished with us.

For some time rumours have been circulating that Guillermo del
Toro was planning a comic book movie using all of the supernatural heroes in DC.
He has now confirmed that this is the case.
The film is to be called Dark Universe and will feature Swamp Thing, The Spectre, Zatanna and other supernatural heroes (perhaps Deadman, the Phantom Stranger and dare I hope… John Constantine?)
The feature is very much in the planning stage and has not been greenlit yet.

I like Christopher Nolan, I didn’t think I would, but I do. I rescued Batman from the hole of unmarketability Joel Schumacher left him in. He proved that you can be both intelligent and commercial without compromises with Inception. And he proved the Matrix sequels hadn’t raised the bar so high it couldn’t manage another notch or two.
So I am delighted to find that his next project will be a big science fiction feature called Interstellar. We are promised a wormhole, time travel and alternate dimensions. Screenplay is by Jonathan Nolan
Wait a second. This is the same project Steven Spielberg was set to direct way back in 2006.
Based on real science, with the treatment written by physicist Kip Thorne, this has an outside possibility of being the most scientifically accurate major science fiction feature in years.

Just add more space pirates. You’ve heard me kvetch about this before but here we go again. Warner Bros. is making a new version of the Odyssey… this time in space. I’m not sure where these notions come from, done creatively it could be great but I expect Wrath of the Titans with space pirates.
James DiLapo is doing the script.

Oooh, Oooh, have you been going over to Starburst’s DVD reviews? Because you really should. In their latest batch of trash, grindhouse, and drive-in movies is Cyborg Soldier. I read that title and a shiver went up my spine. Perhaps unlike you I have a weakness for Terminator knock-off movies, I have shelf full of them: Nemesis, Class of 1999, Circuitry Man… They range from the awful to the inspired. Most hail from the late eighties to early nineties but this one seems to be new. Same plot as usual: unstoppable killing machine escapes from its maker and has to be recovered by some serious looking people. It’s Canadian and made in 2007, The Starburst review is plainspoken: it’s unoriginal cheap, and like low budget action films lacking in real action but not too bad. Unfortunately the review does not tell us the only thing; how good are the cyborg effects? It’s the make or break; Nemesis; good Project Nemesis; none existent. Weapons popping from unlikely places, flesh peeling to reveal metal skeletons, parts falling off with sparks flying, this is what makes a cyborg movie.

I like Timur Bekmambetov, I like him a lot, not withstanding Abraham Lincoln; Vampire Hunter (which was entertaining, but not his best work.) He’s back with Heat seekers to be written by F. Scott Frazier. Apparently it’s about an ex-military pilot who goes up against air pirates. Air pirates, huh? We’ll see.

Ghost in the Shell is back, they are making another TV series with the provisional subtitle of Arise. More news at it emerges.

Personally I don’t think it’s got a snow ball’s chance in hell of making it, but we’ve just heard that Rob Liefied’s comic Goddyssy just got a film deal. Looks like a massive smackdown between gods from different pantheons: Zeus, Buddha, Ra and Pangu, (Pang-who?*) etc.

One mythological comic book film that looks likely to be made is Hercules starring The Rock; it has a shooting date fixed for a few months from now and a release date of August 8th, 2014.

Saw the trailer for Live Free or Die Hard (which no doubt will be called “Die Hard 5” by the time it gets here. Hme. They spent too much money.

Er, yeah. It’s spreading. More movie blogs are realising Oblivion and After Earth are nearly the same movie (abandoned earth, human explorer from space, mystery etc.)
One thing no-one seems to have realised yet is After Earth is not actually a Will Smith vehicle, it actually belongs to Jaden Smith, and this could make all of the difference.

* Ah, Pangu, Chinese creator god….who knew?
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

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


Grunting at the Screen (110)

8 Jan



Grunting at the Screen (110)

The information age has not yet finished with us.

The Global Garage is the place where small film teams or individuals dream their way onto the screen

Now I don’t do shorts, I don’t have the patience.* But to celebrate the start of 2013 -the year of the cyberpunk movie**- I present to you the glory that is cyberpunk short film.

You’ve seen them before but I want to put them all in one place.

Rosa by Jesus Orellana

R.O.A.C.H. Sergio Luca Loreni

Eva, Kike Maillo

The Raven, Ricardo de Montreuil

Adevale 3313, Jacob Grygier

The Source A.T.(AD 2044, Japan)


True Skin, Stephan Zlotescu

Violet Suk and Martin Koch’s Retina

Mech action in Keloid by Big Lazy Robot VFX

David Levy’s Plug

Steven Ilous, “2088”

Azureus Rising from David Weinstein

Synthetic World from Slavik Anishchenko

Rendering Lisa from Márcio E. Gonçalves

Cíclope by Carlos Morett

Mark Cheng’s Deployment Strategy

Reboot by Joe Kawasaki

Extraction Protocol by Simon K Jones

Prism by Sam Gorski and Niko Pueringer

XXIT by Sam Nicholson

Matthew Santoro’s Offline

The Sentient by Gabriel Scott

Eran May-raz and Daniel Lazo Sight

Fusion by Eugen Baitinger and Falk Boje

Thousandth Street by Alexis Amant, Jeremy Nquyen, Ghali Ouazzany and Maxime Servoise

From the Future with Love from K-Michel Parandi

We’ve finally found a website for Miguel de Olaso’s Kor3

Here is Sililo by Bruno Zacariasand Miguel de Olaso (it’s got nakey bits so it’s definitely not safe for work!)

Lunar from Tyson Wade Johnston. This opens a lot like The Raven then takes a different turn

A City to Make Me by Jason Chapman

Solo 7 by by Aze Cowley

The Signal by Marcus Stokes

Remi Gamiette’s Cable

Cut/Paste from Thomas Underhaug

Plurality from Dennis Liu

Project Shell from Blow Studio

Dystopia from Paul Mader.

Sync from Hasraf Haz Dulull

Extropy – Speedhack from Dylan Nathan

Into Dusk from Jason Ho

Uncanny valley from Federico Heller

Rise from David Karlak

Shifter from the  Hallivis Brothers


In Sight from Kelly Bonin


“21 cube” from Stunga Lab


And Ben Hibon’s Code Hunter has nothing to do with cyberpunk but it’s so full of Metal Hurlant style cool I could not resist, enjoy.

I’d love to give you the URL for Kore, by the Polish director Miguel de Olaso (yeah, I know, don’t sound very Polish, but what can you do?) Unfortunately it’s hiding behind a log-in screen. Pity, it’s one of the best.

Anyway, the URLs above represent what is possible, even with modest budgets. Now if someone would fund some of these guys we might get some features out of them.

Wiseman, Wiseman, Wiseman. Oh dear. Len Wiseman made his debut with Underworld, a smart, fast-moving feature that took advantage of the brand new vampire-action subgenre. Since then… well let’s look at what he’s done: Underworld 2, Die Hard 4, The Total Recall reboot. His next intended project? Rebooting the Mummy. Do you see a pattern here? Since his original (OK, relatively original) debut, everything he’s done has been a sequel or reboot. It’s not as if he hasn’t tried to get an original feature underway, but it just hasn’t worked out.

The pattern is terribly familiar and jokes aside, I don’t blame Wiseman. Major directors like Ridley Scott are sequelising their hits from thirty years ago. I was hoping a young vigorous director like Len Wiseman with his guerrilla approach could break through the wall of imagination deficiency.

Twentieth Century Fox wants to make a thriller based on quantum physics. Stop sniggering! They have a guide to help them. Yes it’s based on a comic by Dan Casey called The Theory of Everything. So that’s OK.

It’s all about a scientist named Charles Witten, he thought his wife was dead but no, she’s trapped in a parallel dimension. (hm.. sounds like Bob Shaw’s novel “The Two Timers”..) He has to use his expertise to retrieve her.

This is off topic…let’s see if I can make it work. Oh yes. For the last several years the studios have been trying to make a Twilight Zone make, sorry remake a Twilight Zone movie. They may well have given up because Bryan Singer has now been contracted to restart The Twilight Zone as a TV series. I think I caught a few episodes of the 1980s reboot TZ and, it just wasn’t the same. I’m not sure if Singer or any creative force could either a) recapture the essence of the 1960s originals or b) find the equivalent voice of the 21st century. It’s a lost cause.

Talking of flogging a dead horse Roger Corman is remaking the series of Edgar Allan Poe movies he made in the 60s. I kind of liked them (even with Vincent Price.) Now whether they can recapture… hey haven’t we had this conversation already? Isn’t this exactly the same conversation we just had. Anyway. The Poe centenary was last year, I’m glad the master’s works are getting a look in, buuut Corman’s going over old ground. OK, he’s is producing only and each one has a rock bottom budget of about two and a half million, there is a lot of scope for creativity so long as Corman hires young smart talent and gives them their head, but also the possibility of treading some very old and mediocre paths.

I didn’t go to any film festivals last year, a combination of lack of interest and the richness of mainstream provision.

London does a score of film fests and we should pay better attention.

It’s the new year. Traditionally the time we take a look at the forthcoming Sci Fi London.

Of course, whatever we speculate on appearing, well it never appears anyway.

so here are some films we would not mind seeing at the 2013 festival

The Prototype (basically a Terminator take off from the makers of Act of Valour)

The Colony (a Post Apocalyptic drama with Laurence Fishburn set after a new Ice Age).

Europa Report (a Space movie from Ecuadorian director Sebastián Cordero and staring District 9’s Sharlto Copley’.

Gravity (a space movie from Alfonso “Children of Men” Cuaron.

So. Robots, after the Ice Age in space. Hell, I’d go to that movie.

Of course, like 2013 there’s a lot of mainstream genre out there and I’m cautiously optimistic.

On the comic book front is Iron Man 3. Number 2 was OK in year it should have been superb (post dark knight and all that..) But we still have enough good will to want to slap down ticket price.

The blockbuster currently exciting me is Del Toro’s live action remake of Monsters vs. Aliens; Pacific Rim. Just kidding, but the trailer is mouth-drop-open astonishing.

What a mess.

I’ve been annoyed with Bradley Cooper because so many projects have collapsed from under him (Paradise Lost, Hyperion, well not so much the ***Crow…)

But I had another look (and the Crow was not his fault, that project had three directors and a lawsuit it was doomed.)

What concerns me is the tangle of relationships that has arisen. Oh? Let’s lay it out.

The original Crow was directed by Alex Proyas, (who Bradley Cooper professed great admiration for). Bradley Cooper signed up for the reboot.

Then Bradley drops out and signs on for Paradise Lost, which is great because this one is actually to be helmed by Proyas (or not).

Interestingly Proyas was not the first scheduled director of Paradise Lost, no, that would be Scott Derrickson. So why should that be interesting, well if Cooper had signed on earlier he would have worked with Derrickson. Oops, it looked like Cooper would work with after all because when Scott dropped out of Paradise Lost he found another project; Hyperion, to which Bradley Cooper signed on to. That’s why it’s interesting.

By the way; none of these projects actually got made, and they are all presently in turnaround.

My head hurts.

The film industry is a big incestuous tangle, but this little love-in seems exceptional. What is happening here?

I’m not the only one who has noticed that Tom Cruise’s Oblivion and Jadeen Smith’s (Will is in there too but it looks like a Jadeen project) After Earth is the same movie.

Check it. The earth is abandoned. Humanity largely lives somewhere else. Then an explorer(s) lands on earth and we find the planet less lifeless than expected.

This pretty much describes the plot of both.

And they are both coming out this year. Oblivion is taking the lead in April and After Earth is following in the summer.

Being first out of the gate is no guarantee of success (as last year’s Snow White fiasco proved) But there is a psychological edge. One of these films may rule, and the other may bomb.

The ambitions of Ubisoft continue to grow as it appears they are putting yet another feature into play Tom Clancy’s “Ghost Recon”. So far it is just at the pitch stage.

The original game features a fictional US Army special forces unit (not unlike Delta Force) which battles Russian Ultranationalists and Colombian Narco-Terrorists.

This adds up to five projects in play although none of them are in production yet.

According to reports Ubisoft are making a very strong play: they are deeply involved with each project at every level, and they are talking budgets of above a Hundred million each: this lifts them just into the big budget category.

The marketing machine is grinding up to speed for Bong Joon-Ho’s The Snowpiercer.

This is an adaptation of a graphic novel by Benjamin Legrand and Jacques Lob.

The basic scenario is an Ice Age postapocalyptic future where the last people on earth are passengers on a constantly moving train (the “Snowpiercer” of the title).

Just lately some production paintings have emerged.

Response has been positive. Two things are impressing. The cast of top flight actors and the concept imagery which promises something epic.

On the downside, this has been acquired by the Weinstein company and no release date has been set.

I promised to keep you up to date on Straight to Video science fiction releases. Well you haven’t heard from me because…well they aren’t any.

Well not that many. the current one comes from the king of straight to video himself, Jean-Claude Van Damme**** It’s called “UFO.” Encouragingly it looks cheap and full of CGI as anything else that has come our way.

Ah, it seems that this is a British feature (who knew).

Directed by Dominic Burns and shot in Derby. It has a pretty standard alien invasion scenario; starships appear in the sky, war begins, five people navigate the devastated landscape in search of safety.

I even found a couple of reviews. Once again Starburst leads the way in reviewing the cheapest scuzziest discs on releases.

Oh dear, Starburst hates it; bad script, lousy fight scenes, budget not high enough.

By the way, Starburst also reminds us that Manborg is also out on disk.

This is an apparently successful homage to 1980s cyborg/postapocalptic cheapies; and it uses lots of low budget prosthetics and stop motion work.

I’ve seen a lot of those 80s straight-to-video features and some of them have their charm. So this may be worth a look for the nostalgia value alone.

*Heh, heh!

** I think we got until maybe May before that all goes south…

***Yep, another reboot…tell me about it.

****Don’t get excited, there are a number of claimants to that title.

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

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