Archive | February, 2014

Grunting at the Screen (144)

22 Feb

The information age isn’t finished with us.

Japan Catches Reboot Fever
After the less than enthusiastic reception of the Appleseed XII series, the producers are rebooting the story with Appleseed Alpha, the idea is to rewind to the beginning and show Deunan and Briareos’s search for Olympus. Digital anime legend Shinji Aramaki is directing.

The British “Kick Ass”…?
Now this is different. A movie that seems to be positioned between the rush of “real life superheroes” (Griff the Invisible, Super, Kick Ass) and Hoodie Horror.
And what’s more, it is out on DVD.
The Bad Samaritan Must Die! from Director, Andrew Leckonby. Set in near future London it is determinedly low budget and low tech.
The Bad Samaritan is a mask-wearing vigilante set on pummelling elements of the criminal underworld, he even recruits an army of like-minded friends. The kicker is the Samaritan himself has issues with Traumatic Stress and mental health issues.
Starburst have reviewed it and they like it.
Sounds fresh.*
It appears this is just the beginning of a trilogy, continuing with Dawn of The Bad Samaritan and God Save the Bad Samaritan.

What’s Big in Shorts?
The names Scott Glassgold and Raymond Brothers of IAM Entertainment, have been cropping up more regularly. Now regular visitors to the blog know I spend a lot of time reading my own posts, so I have realised these guys are involved in a lot of short film buying.
Now, whatever you may think, I have no patience with short films (really, I open them in one window and surf in another, you will not believe how slow an eight minute film can crawl…) But I live in hope that one of them will be transformed into a cool feature.
Now Glasshold and company have been scooping them up with an eye to doing just that. I knew it was happening, I did not realised that the same names kept cropping up.
So far they have bought:
True Skin
Project Kronos
and Beyond

Now I don’t know what this means, as I have mentioned, most short films stay short and never reach featurehood. At the same time IAM’s concentrated attention may be the beginning of something great: one house which is a font of visual creativity.

Who Made Who?
Marvel Comics have spread their intellectual property all across the film industry.
Not every Marvel Movie is a Marvel Studios movie.
i09 have created a useful graphic to illustrate just who belongs to what (or should that be “what belongs to whom”? I dunno.
Here it is.
(I am not sure if the only shared product will turn out to be Quicksilver and the Scarlet Witch.)

Is it Real or…..
I saw the Need for Speed trailer while checking out I Frankenstein. Seemed OK, car chase movie and all that.
Then I read the coverage in Empire magazine. They are using no CGI. Specifically no CGI except for camera removal, even historical movies use computer graphics to remove modern intrusions. The director was adamant it would be filmed like a 1970s movie, he pointed to films like Two Land Blacktop and Vanishing Pint, and insisted if the care could not do the stunts it would not go in the film.
It just got interesting.

Please… Please… Please…
Although neither the UK nor America have seen the Metal Hurlant Chronicles but it’s already going to second series.
Netflix needs to buy this and show the networks how it’s done.

Can We Get a Little Restraint of Trade..?
So, I was watching the special features on Star Trek: Into Darkness, (don’t look at me like that, it was a gift… and not kind that keeps giving either…) actually it was quite fun, for a film that is utterly derivative. Anyway, I was watching the interviews and checking the by-lines: J.J. Abrams, Alex Kurtzman, Roberto Orci, Damon Lindoff.
Hmm, where do I know these names from? Four of the men who control most of American visual science fiction (and they are all working on one film… but that is another thing).
No, the thing is that four men control most of American Science Fiction film and television; and they all work together. This is either the dream team or a nightmare.
Think I exaggerate?
Try This:
J.J. Abrams: Star Trek, Star Wars, Cloverfield, Super 8, Almost Human.
Damon Lindelof: Prometheus, World War Z, Tomorrowland, and Once Upon A Time on TV.
Alex Kurtzman and Roberto Orci: Pretty much everything else. Think I’m kidding? Mummy, Van Helsing, Ender’s Game, Cowboys vs. Aliens, Transformers (there are fifteen more names on that list) and I have not even gone into their TV stuff yet

Is there any point to this? Well yes, it looks like a cartel, you want to know why all our movies and TV look the same? It’s all made by same tiny group of people. This is One Percent of Science Fiction media!
Can this be good?
Well I wish them all the best for their hard work and talent… But this is damaging to the diversity of story, style and subject matter in science fiction.
They are not reason we have to endure sequels, remakes and reboots, that is economic, but they are the reason such products all look and feel so familiar.

Good and Medieval
Of all of the medieval movies from three four years back Ironclad was the one I really liked. (Hell, I’m looking at the box cover now) I heard there would be a sequel but I didn’t put too much credence in it.
Well, looks like they delivered, Ironclad: Battle for Blood.
And this time the Surviving Knights of Rochester Castle are taking on the Celts.
Publicity materials are promising a “hellacious ride” and “ultraviolent medieval action”. Which is consistent with the first film.
Original Director Jonathan English co-writes and helms and it’s now in post-production but there is no release date.
I’m not one for sequels, but I’m interested and I’ll keep an eye on this one and let you know how it is shaking out.

Catching Air
Robert Kirkman obviously is not busy enough, as well as his work on The Walking Dead TV series, it’s forthcoming spin-off series, the Walking Dead comic, more comic titles than I can name (really, he has done dozens) he is also producing a Science Fiction movie called Air, it’s your post-holocaust set up where two guys in a radiation proof bunker slowly go nuts, it will star Norman “Blade II” Reedus and Djimon “Push” Hounsou. Director and co-writer is Christian Cantamessa.

Well they have started running TV spots for 300: Rise of an Empire. Are they kidding, they used Black Sabbath’s War Pigs. Whoa. My only objection is that they didn’t use it for the whole trailer.

Still not going to see it…

Just opened
The first reviews of Pompeii are out and they are.. well it’s a Paul WS Anderson film what do you think?
Actually they are nicer than expected, but they paint Pompeii as relentlessly bloodless, ball-less and middle of the road. It’s not too long, but falls short of the works that inspired it: Irwin Allen’s 70’s material, Gladiator.

We mentioned Brilliance back in Grunting (116). A super intelligent federal agent goes up against a super intelligent terrorist. No capes.
Well Will Smith is now involved so it has a better chance of getting made.


Vincenzo Natali’s Haunter has been released on DVD in the US. Strangely I do not recall a theatrical release. It got mixed reviews at festival but it appears to be very original.

Web series Cybergeddon finally is getting a DVD release on March 18th.
When it premiered on Yahoo it was described as “the latest evolution of the crime genre”, now it has come out on disk it is “low budget”, “Lo Fi thriller”.
It’s your basic hacker thriller: a federal agent and a hacker team up to take on a world cyber-crime threat.
That said I’d like to see more shows crawl off the portals and onto disks.

John Dies at the End is out on DVD in the UK, it is a bare-bones release but I’m getting it. The Blu-Ray however is loaded and may the distributor burn for that.

And the least surprising special edition release this year. Yes it is Iron Sky: Dictator’s Cut.
When the initial release was a bare-bones edition, and we knew with all of the interest the film had garnered before release there had to be some serious behind the scenes material just sitting around. It was one of the first crowd sourced feature, it got in there before films started using Kickstarter.
Thing is, it was also a prime example of why you can crowd source your funding but you don’t want to crowd source your plot.
Now that the Iron Dream has become a somewhat rusty reality I am not sure just how much of a dent this release with extra footage and a “making of” documentary will actually make.

*Sorry; Will.I.Am and all that…

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 (143)

10 Feb

The information age isn’t finished with us.

This interesting; Caradog James’ The Machine gets a release on March 20th 2014. However it has a DVD release on March 31, 2014. There is a narrow window to catch it on the big screen.
It has been well reviewed and I’d like to think It might be a little gem.

The TV and press are saturated with word of the RoboCop reboot.
I haven’t been saying anything. I got burned with the Total Recall debacle and I don’t expect much better for this.
Two things usually alert me to a dodgy reboot; one is where they stick to close to original, Two, if they stay so far you are no longer in the same game.
With Robocop, the costume looks the same; ED209 looks the same, so they’ve added drones.
I don’t know why they bothered… oh yes, they wanted to make a film that already had a name, how could I forget.
Don’t expect a review from me.

Which is not to say I won’t read any. Although the reviews are mixed there is a distinct lack of enthusiasm for it. On the pro side they say it goes more into the characterisation of a man who has been made into a cyborg, the action is faster and more dynamic, they also say it is not as bad the Total Recall reboot. On the con side I get the impression that this is a gut-less version, bloodless too and most of all it adds very little to the original.

The other thing they are making a lot of noise about is X-Men: Days of Future Past.
I haven’t seen an X-Men movie in a while, who knows it might be good, the studio is throwing a ton of money at it, and they are claiming it has the largest scale of any X-Men movie.
I have my misgivings, besides the fact that it is fourth sequel to a successful film (sixth if you throw in the Wolverine movies): the cast is packed, we have the cast of X-Men: First Class, plus the cast from Last Stand (minus a few…) Some would say the more the merrier, I say remember the bloated cast of Batman and Robin, it was full of stars, that did not help.
The time-travel plot. Look, even I cannot remember the plot of the Days of Future Past comic, and it’s been endlessly reiterated in subsequent issues and the X-Men cartoon. Will the audience leave the cinema cheering or scratching their heads?
Giant Robots. They avoided depicting the Sentinels from the first movie, There was kind of cameo on Last Stand (but that was a simulation in the Danger Room…) for some reasons the studio didn’t thing an audience would buy a film with giant robots in it. Actually I think the Sentinels are a positive development… except they also have these super shifty sentinels that look like they are made of the same stuff as the T2000 from Terminator 2.

Ben Wheatley’s next production will be van adaptation of JG Ballard’s High Rise; he plans to shoot in July.
Here’s the URL

He has cast Tom (Loki) Hiddleston as the lead.
And here’s the URL for that

Marc “World War Z” Forster has chosen his next project and thank god it is not World War Z 2. No it’s an adaptation of Pierce Brown’s novel Red Rising. It’s a planetary revolution, this time the Martian colonists revolting. The lower classes have been toiling away in the depths of the red planet too long and now they are kicking back against their aristocratic masters.
Script is by the author.
Sounds fair. There have been future-revolution projects (like Shockwave Darkside) that did not get off the ground but I hope this one gets a shot.

On the other hand I took a look at the novel on the shelves and it has a look of “Product”, on the flyleaf you see it described as Hunger Games meets Ender’s Game” and the book has that curious “over-designed” look characteristic of so many YA books (even though this one seems to be an adult novel).

Whether it turns out to be as prestigious as Hunger Games (which I am informed is well written) or awful as I am Number Six (which I tried) may be irrelevant, as most of these projects eventual go into turn-around.

While checking out the Japanese superhero film Joshi Zu (it’s mad, it’s got a “woman tornado” in it) I stumbled on 24 Framespersecond website. Stuffed with Asian Movie news I haven’t seen anywhere else I think it is worth a look.
Find it at:

Good news everybody, it look like Snowpiercer will get a “roll out” release; at its full length.
What this means is that it will open first in major markets like New York and LA then be “rolled out” across the US over subsequent weeks.—-if-you-can-find-it.html
Most important is that America will get a chance to see the film for themselves, equally significant is that there may not be as much marketing as usual for it and fans will have to look out for when it actually arrives in their locality.
And if it does badly in the initial markets it may not make it to smaller regional markets.
Weinstein emphasises that Snowpiercer is not being “dumped”* No word yet on a UK release.

Jaume Collet-Serra slanders Akira

And it looks like the first segment of the Patlabor Live action TV series has emerged.
No worries, the Feature is on its way.

I, Frankenstein


It’s absurd, not just the premise, but everything about it, the dialogue the acting the … well actually the technical stuff like the production design and FX are fine: mid budget but perfectly acceptable but the rest?
We start out at the end of Mary Shelly’s novel; Antarctica, Victor Frankenstein pursuing his creation to the ends of the earth, failing.
The monster brings his master’s corpse home and then the action begins because we find there has been a secret war between the demons and the heaven-sent gargoyles. The Demons wish to capture the monster for their own purposes.
Perfectly clear.
All of this would be fine, except the film seems to have been assembled from pieces of a whole bunch of other, better films.
I, Frankenstein is an example of the “action-horror” sub-genre and follows the template closely; you’ll find big lumps of Underworld and more surprisingly chunks from the blade films as well.
It is actually quiet disappointing. I certainly did not expect starling innovation but it was within the film makers’ means to deliver more originality than this.
The acting is indifferent the dialogue frequently risible, the plot ramshackle.
This is not a good film.
However…. it is fun?
How-so? Two reasons: most importantly it takes itself entirely seriously, it lays down its lore of a millennia long struggle between celestial beings with a straight face.
Furthermore the director does not let the pace drop for a moment, there are a couple of moments of exposition , otherwise it is all plot and action, and the action scenes are very competently staged (and not over long).

As I said, this is no classic, I do not recommend you see it at the cinema, but it is a pleasant diversion if you rent it, or stream it on Netflicks in a few months.

I don’t regret seeing it, but I’d be askance at pointing you in its direction.

*It’s being dumped, so see it if you can.

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.