Archive | February, 2013

Grunting at the Screen (113)

15 Feb

The information age has not yet finished with us.

The latest short film to get a feature deal is Noon; a nuclear accident has stopped the earth’s rotation, in the calamity resulting, a people-smuggler guides a band across the earth to take control of the last water.
Director is Kasra Farahani. It looks like it has some possibility (despite the unlikely premise).
Chernin Entertainment is producing.

Over the last few years the genre community have all but fetishised Duncan Jones; I found Moon endlessly tedious, but Source Code was as sharp and well thought out a science fiction thriller as I’ve seen lately. So maybe Duncan Jones has skills. That does not mean I wait with bated breath for his next project; World of Warcraft. To cross that river, he has to hit new heights. It will not be enough for him to deliver a generic piece of high fantasy. He has to be better than that. Batter than anyone expects. He has to deliver something better than Peter Jackson’s Lord of the Rings. *Why? Because he is operating in a new era. Ursula K. Le Guin Once asked “Why Are Americans Afraid of Dragons?” which is to say why they had an aversion to fantasy; well it looks like America and the rest of the world are over it, they welcome it and they are in danger of getting bored of it. The ray of light is HBO’s Game of Thrones; it shows that fantasy can be so much more. Duncan Jones is entering the fray in a world which is so much different to even that of five years ago. Can he meet the challenge?
And whether he can deliver a good videogame movie; that is another story.

Have you seen the trailer for the new Captain Harlock? Like I said, I usually don’t post Trailers.

Let me explain; trailers are lies, well not all of them, but have you ever noticed how the trailer has all of the coolest stuff in it, and those moments may be far and few between in the actual film?
Yeah, anyway. The anime Captain Harlock has been rebooted as CGI and not withstanding earlier comments it is looking good. Darker and more dangerous than the original and directed by Shinji (Appleseed Ex Machina) Aramaki.

V/H/S the horror anthology is now out on disc. Initially it had mixed reviews but now opinion is coalescing around positive opinions. Of course it is another realty horror film, but most of the segments are supposed to be pretty scary.
It has done so well that the sequel SVHS (yes, indeed) is already in the can.

Ridley Scott’s production company has optioned an independent comic, Mind MGMT, It is about an intelligence agency that uses psychic powered agents and the chaos when one of its operatives goes off the hook.
Based on Scott Free’s previous record of acquiring and then benching properties, I would not expect to see this on the screen anytime soon.

I had a profound thought. Now work with me. Bryan Singer’s Jack the Giant Slayer is due out soon. Now I was looking though my Giant Sized Monster folder (I have a Giant Sized Monster folder, don’t you?) when I realised… Giants are Giant Sized Monsters too, and as such the rules could similarly apply, only the background would be standard folk or fairytale. This is worth thinking about…

Guillermo del Toro must be the busiest man in LA this month, here are his current projects: the horror movie Crimson Peak, the Pinocchio animation, promoting Pacific Rim and … oh yes he’s producing an adaptation of Frances Hodgson Burnett’s children’s classic, The Secret Garden, Lucy Alibar is to write the screenplay.
With everything else he’s got one, good luck to him.

Jon Wright made a splash with last year’s creature feature Grabbers. He had a bunch of projects lined up, but the one moving forward is Our Robot Overlords, I’m feeling a warm fuzzy feeling over this. Gillian Anderson and Ben Kingsley have signed up to star and the film has a low to mid budget.
It’s about a near future dystopia where resistance fighters take on the titular “Robot Overlords.”
Cool; if Spielberg won’t give us the Robot Holocaust of our dreams maybe Wright will.

In addition to J.J. Abrams’s other duties this year (which we shall not be mentioning) he has also taken on production on two game movies. Not little ones either: Half Life and Portal.
These are popular games, either one would be a handful. Both? That is off the hook.
OK, I’m not a gamer, so I had to go look this up. Both games are legendary. Both, interestingly enough were developed in part by Science Fiction writer Mark Laidlow.
Portal is set an abandoned lab, Chel has to make her way across the lab complex using a portal gun which opens apertures but can have her emerging at all strange angles. On the way she also has to solve several puzzles to proceed.
In Half-Life Gordon Freeman is at work in a secret lab complex when there is an accident which opens up a space-time rift. This lets through the alien Vortigaunts. Freeman has to fight his way across the complex (taking on both Vortigaunts and marines who arrive to cover up the accident ) and even cross the rift into the alien planet Xen so he can close the rift.
In Half Life 2 the space time rift attracts more aliens this time the X. They conquer and oppress humanity. Freeman has to get back to the lab on a mission on behalf of the resistance (human and Vortigaunts working together).
(I kind of doubt the movie will start with Half Life 2).
My guess is that both face long development periods and have as much a chance of reaching the screen as any other Video Game film.

All of these videogame movies in play do not mean that the comics have been neglected, not in the least, the latest indie comic to get optioned is Jonathan and Joshua Luna’s Sword. It’s the usual shtick; paraplegic discovers a mystic sword that lets her walk and take revenge on the brutes who killed her family.
Lakeshore Entertainment has the rights, no word on script or director.

Something’s rocking in Denmark.**
The Danish Film Institute and Director Tommy Ibsen are plotting world domination with Exodus a multimedia property set to debut on film, TV, Games and Novels.
I’ve now seen a trailer (yeeahh) and it looks interesting. The CG is crude (how crude? Cruder that Lockout’s) so I am hoping it is preliminary and it all looks like a combination of Blade Runner and Dune. I’d try to describe the plot but it’s ridiculously complicated (something about a conflict between father and son) but the trailer suggests something with both spectacle and story.
Providing they let the FX cook a few extra months it could be worth checking out… hey, it could be this year’s Cargo.

Although most of the wind has been knocked out of the two waves of Sword and Sandals (Gladiator and 300) there are still fresh projects in development.
Latest one is Lost Legion about a Roman Legion that gets beaten in the Middle East but somehow finds itself in Han Dynasty China. Kurt (Act of Honour) Johnstad is writing.

I was wondering what happened to the Neveldine/Taylor team which gave us Crank and so many other lumps of cinematic goodness. Turns out that Mark Neveldine has gone solo to direct “Vatican Tapes”; an exorcism goes wrong and somehow the tapes get leaked.
Hme. Sounds like another found footage film and we already have a bunch of found footage exorcism movies. Another thing that bothers me is that Hollywood seems to think the Vatican has nothing to do but supervise exorcisms. I’m just saying.

We have more news on the new Ghost in the Shell TV series. It is less a series than a miniseries. First of all it is a prequel and examines the story of Major Motoko Kusanagi before the events of the first film. There will be four films each 50 minutes long. Each will have a short cinema run in Japan before going to disk. (50 minutes is not short for Japan which has a history of short films at the cinema.)

London is a city of film festivals. Most of which I don’t go to. While we are waiting for one I do, here are a couple of others.
The London Turkish Film Festival from 22- 28 February
The Human Rights Film Festival Runs from 15th to 21st March

*Yes, them is fighting words
** Hey, it took forever to work that one up.
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 (112)

2 Feb

Grunting at the Screen (112)

The information age has not yet finished with us.

Hmme. How do I put it? Richard (Notting Hill) Curtis has made a time travel romance. It’s called About Time. It is set to release March 22nd.
And that’s all I’m saying.

It’s February and the sleeping film industry is awakening. Opening this month is Hansel and Gretel: Witch Hunters, Cloud Atlas, Antiviral, PP’s Dark Skies.
I’m tempted by all.
I’ll likely see Cloud Atlas despite my misgivings (the novel did nothing for me and the Wachowskis have not had a critical success since… well not in a while)
I want to support Scott Stewart despite the subject matter being a bit Spielberg meets M. Night Shyamalan.
And Hansel and Gretel sounds insane.
Could be good.

Reviews of Parker are coming out and the word is not good. A pity, I was looking forward to it. I’ll wait for a few more reviews before making a decision.

Comic artist and creator Rob Liefeld’s has a couple of projects in development -Blood Strike and Godyssey- what I hadn’t realised was that there is also a bio-pic in the works.
What I seem to be reading is Liefeld has written the script himself and it shows the early days of Image comics when Marvel’s top artists quit on mass to form their own creator owned empire.
It’s called Icons and I doubt it has a chance of getting made as long as it requires the permission of Liefeld’s other Image owners.

Body horror film, American Mary has come out on disc. I’ll get it eventually.

The first review of Frankenstein’s Army is out and the word is cautiously optimistic.
Basic scenario is this; a Russian film crew stumble on a raided grave yard and then an obscene laboratory where corpses and machines are being combined to create zombie-cyborg Nazi army.
First the bad news, it is a found-footage movie. What is more the first half is kind of murky and unfocussed. However it picks up considerably at the end to give us a rollicking finish.
We are promised deliciously grotesque monsters and a satisfying amount of splatter. This may well be the Nazi horror movie of our dreams (that sounds so wrong).

Marvel Studios have settled on what they want to do after Avengers 2 and Guardians of the Galaxy: Ant Man and Dr Strange. Interesting choices, Marvel Honcho Kevin Feige says “We want to do something different”. You know, that’s admirable, and both projects have potential: the world of insects and the world of magic. Of course they also face the uphill battle against an audience unfamiliar with the characters: being different can also mean being overlooked at the box office.

Fans of Gareth Huw Evan’s film The Raid (or “The Raid: Redemption” if you like) rejoice. Filming has begun on the followup Berandal. It has a much bigger scale and covers a longer time frame, but don’t worry, it will be full of the same brutal and brilliant martial arts goodness we saw in its forebear.

Duncan Jones can’t catch a break. he’s been wanting to produce a near-future for years, ever since he finished fan favourite Moon but he is further from it than ever. Next project lined up for him is the World of Warcraft adaptation which was until recently linked to Sam Raimi.
He’s set to shoot in the Autumn.

Hail to the “untitled science fiction project”.
You may have been hearing about an untitled science fiction film to be directed by Brad (The Incredibles) Bird and written by Damon (Prometheus) Lindelof. Well it now has a name; Tommorrowland.
Looks like it will be based on the 1952 conceptual art for Disney’s Tomorrowland Park.
I’m relived because for a while it seemed it might be stuck with the provisional name “1952” (quite like “Cloverfield” a few years back.) George Clooney is starring and we are looking at a 2014. opening.
There is no word on story but I’m expecting something retrofuturisic.
Back when this was an unnamed project all sorts of speculation flew back and forth. It was rumoured that Lindelof was writing “the next star wars” or “The next Harry Potter”. They were sure that whatever it was, it was large-scale.
They said it was a First Contact story, there would be flying saucers, it would have a “Spielbergian” feel. One blogger even speculated that it was a reboot of Buck Rogers. And this is believable because Disney had an earlier project also called Tommorrowland with a very similar plot to Buck Rogers.
Anyway, this is far from the first time Disney has remonetized its theme park ideas; witness Pirates of the Caribbean, and the Haunted Mansion.

All of this opens the matter of “untitled science fiction projects”. There are more of them out there than you’d think. I have records for fourteen such projects across two folders, and I wonder about them.
Some companies seem to specialise in them. Disney has three (although they all might have been the same Tommorrowland), Fox , Warner’s and paramount have a couple apiece. Douglas Trumbull has one, Jodie Foster has one, Neil Marshal and Michael Bay have their own projects.
Avatar probably fuels the studios developing multiple projects, they hope they too can have a billion dollar breakout. The other projects are labours of love by creative types.
Inevitably most of these projects will fall by the wayside; that is the way of the film world.
It is slightly easier not to get too excited since they didn’t even have names, and most shy from publicising their storylines. Much of the time all we get is “untitled science fiction project” plus a list of the creative teams. We are honestly supposed to get all excited because one fan favourite director or writer or the other is working on it.

And occasionally one or two poke their heads above the parapet, get names and shooting dates.
So all hail to the Unnamed Movie, whatever it is.

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.