Archive | September, 2013

Grunting at the Screen (133)

30 Sep

The information age hasn’t finished with us.

I don’t generally cover biopics, but this is different. Joe Dante is going to make a film about legendary independent director/producer Roger Corman.
It will be tightly focussed on how Corman made the hallucinogenic flower-child era film The Trip.
Corman is responsible for a string of low budget genre movies stretching from the sixties through to this very year, and his various companies have incubated an impressive roster of film makers including James Cameron and Dante himself.
In a word he is a legend.

Ah here is something. I always thought Riddick should take advantage of its following in the games world, and it has. Riddick: The Merc Files is a mobile game from Tigon Studios who gave you Escape from Butcher Bay and Assault on Dark Athena. It will be available on i0S platforms, by that I supposed that means iPhones and iPads (sorry Android users). Only one thing. It should have come out before the film.

Vikingdom? How did I miss that? As I said before, the northmen are rising…* anyway, Viking films are popping up in every direction; Vikingdom is actually finished and has a trailer on line. How did this one slip past me? Well it’s Malaysian. Yes, a Malaysian Viking film. Not the kind of thing I google every day.
Stars Dominic Purcell, and Craig Fairbrass (so that’s where he’s been) directed in Malaysia by Yusry A. Halim.
Basic plot is a Viking warrior Eirick battles back from hell to retrieve Odin’s Horn before the God Thor and his Asgardians can conquer earth (Yes, Thor is the bad guy).
I’ve see the trailer, it’s cheesy; looks like a cheap take on 300… no, more like a cheap take on the Spartacus TV series.
It gets a US release October 4 (although I would not look for a UK one any time soon).

From time to time a publisher or broadcaster decides to go all multimedia; they plan a project to be launched all across the world on the web, on games platforms, in bookshops etc. all at once. Hardly ever works.
Anomaly was one such project. It has already been presented as a graphic novel, written and illustrated by Skip Brittenham and Brian Haberlin; it came with a free app that brought the book illustrations to life using Augmented Reality.
Anomaly has now been optioned by Relativity as a movie.
The basics scenario; a diplomatic mission visits a planet but find themselves caught between violently divided alien races.
Joe Roth is producing, no world on writer or director yet.

We have some US release dates.
Last Days on Mars, will be released on December 6 and you’ll have to wait until March 7th, 2014 for the documentary Jodorowsky’s Dune.
We also have a release for post holocaust ice age thriller The Colony,
it is out now in US cinemas. No UK release as yet.

It looks like Alex Proyas’ Gods of Egypt is a go project. They are casting it.
It has a hokey plot about a human who has to take on the snake god Set after Osiris has been murdered.
Gerard Butler plays Set, no word on who is playing the human hero.

Directors Joe and Anthony Russo haven’t yet finished Captain America: The Winter Soldier but are already planning a follow-up. It’s Ciudad, based on a comic published by Oni Press.
Story is of a mercenary contracted to rescue the kidnapped daughter of a drug lord.

So that live-action Patlabour just got complicated, they are still doing it, but first they will make a Patlabor TV series; both will be set after the events of the OVA and animated movie, they will have independent story-lines from each other the Live movie will have a more serious tone than the TV series.
Sounds like it has multiple chances of coming a cropper.

And Sci Fi London is holding its annual Oktoberfest. Included in this year’s crop is the Ice Age post-holocaust feature, The Colony from director Jeff Renfroe, Christopher Hatton’s follow up to Robotropolis, Battle of the Damned, and Vincenzo Natali’s Haunter.
You can find it all at the Stratford Picturehouse from October 11th

You’ll also have another chance to catch Caradog James’ The Machine.

*just about everything I say sounds wrong lately.

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 (132)

10 Sep

The information age isn’t finished with us.

Now this is interesting. Ben (Kill List) Wheatley will adapt JG Ballard’s High Rise.
Up until recently this film was attached to Vincenzo Natali.

More reviews of Gravity are coming through and they are much more enthusiastic, they find it beautiful, exciting and stunningly realistic.
Hollywood Reporter, Variety, and Screen magazine are all wildly enthusiastic about it, especially at the technical level.

The first review of The Zero Theorem has emerged. Once again it is by Derek Malcolm in the Evening Standard. He thinks it looks more expensive than it is in fact he calls it a “feast for the eyes”,
but the story is “scattergun”. Hme. Of course most reviewers disagreed with him about Gravity…

Just completed is Under the Skin, stars Scarlett Johansson, directed by Jonathan Glazer. This one is about an alien disguised as a woman who lures human men so they can be shipped to her homeworld as meat.

Well the Raindance schedule has come out, it has to be the usual tedious parade of indie flicks…woah, Caradog James’ The Machine is showing. Now you can never have too many unstoppable killer robot movies and this one is said to be; visually remarkable, influenced by the most stylish near-future films while wielding prosthetic effects adeptly.

Ku_on; here’s something odd. Japanese film. An office worker exhibits extraordinary powers then meets someone with the same powers as him. That’s all I got. Do they fight, do they become friends, lead the world to a spiritual awakening? Nobody is saying.

Generation Last; From Mexico, a group of kids abandoned on a post global warming earth make their way and hope for rescue.

Raindance runs from September 25 to October 6 at the Vue cinema Piccadilly, London.

And following close on its heels is the London Film Festival. I used to go to those, but since they lost their old organiser (who had a separate program for science fiction fantasy and horror) I can’t recall returning.

So let’s see what they have for us this year. Not a lot that attracts. They are premiering Gravity, that will turn up on release. Joderowsky’s Dune. I’d like to see that. Ari Folman off-beat take on Stanislaw Lem; The Congress. Antboy, a kids superhero movie from Demmark. And oh look, The Zero Theorem.
I supposed it’s better than a punch in the teeth.

It’s official, Vikings are back and you have permission to blow the theme of the Kurt Douglas film from your fist trumpet.
There have been a bunch of recent announcements for new Viking movies lately. The most recent is Northmen: A Viking Saga; Viking marauders are trapped in Scotland. Director is Claudio Fah.
This follows in the wake of Leonardo DiCaprio’s Viking written by William Monahan and an untitled trilogy about King Harald Hardrada, produced by Barrie Osborne.

I put Riddick in an entirely different category to other sequels.
Most sequels are made to cash in. Some accountant in LA plugs the original’s box office numbers into a spreadsheet and says whether it’s worthwhile to do it all over again.
And this is what is wrong with most of them.
It’s the reason why so many sequels retread the story of originals,
It is the reason why many sequels just suck.
With Riddick it isn’t about money.
The last film, The Chronicles of Riddick, did moderately well, certainly not enough to justify spending the 120m budget again. It seemed the “franchise” was dead. But the fans wound not let it die, the star would not let it die, the director would not let it die.
They were all in love with the character and with his possibilities.
The reason we have another Riddick film is because they would not let it die. They wanted to see what happened next.

The attraction of the films is the character himself, an iconic figure; a mass murderer turned anti-hero, a killer with a cause.

So here we are.
It was no easy journey.
The film makers raised the capital themselves, they initially had no studio deal, and raising the cash was difficult, at one point Vin Diesel put his own home up as collateral. They started filming, money ran out and they were shut down. It was a slog. Once the financing was in place they were quickly picked up.

Reviews of Riddick have been mixed to say the least. Largely negative, but even so, most of them agree that it is entertaining at some level.

You know the drill; Richard B Riddick, has been abandoned on a wilderness planet, he finds himself desperate to escape and has to summon his hated enemies, Mercs, as part of his plan.
You have to admit, it looks good. the colours and textures are wonderful, and it is well directed too, Dave Twoey has not lost his touch, he takes care of business with action, tension, dialogue and occasionally his choice of shot is surprising, and in a good way.
Now, for those of you who’s preference was The Chronicles of Riddick, the news is not so good, this leans more towards Pitch Black (there is enough bridging material to get from Chronicles here, but…) on the other hand it borrows visually from Pitch Black, while leading the actual story in a couple of unexpected directions.
It starts well (so much so, you fear it might be all downhill from there) With Riddick doing his survivalist thing on a hostile planet, but then really gets going in the midsection with his cat and mouse game with two Merc gangs. The style here is survival horror, but the values are reversed. The mercs are the hapless group fighting to survive and Riddick has the role of the hidden monster picking them off (in effect he becomes the Alien, the Predator, or Jason Vorhees), the last third we go Pitch Black Mode, a bunch of guys verses implacable alien monsters. It’s like three movies for the price of one.
The CG is middling, better than the crappy stuff we are often served up with, but certainly not the photorealistic quality which is gradually dominating blockbuster cinema. In effect it is acceptable.
Finally Riddick is a modest success, especially considering the low budget, it cost half as much as the last one, and just three quarters that of even mid-budget science fiction releases. That said it certainly does not compare with say Josh Trank’s Chronicle or District 9.
On the other hand, is it worth putting your hand in your pocket for? Well yes.

On opening Riddick climbed to the number one position at the Box Office. It wasn’t a huge Number one, but it may make its money back.

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.