Archive | March, 2014

Grunting at the Screen (147)

24 Mar

The information age isn’t finished with us.

Looks like Ray Bradbury’s Something Wicked This Way Comes is heading for a remake, I am not as incensed as I might be because the 1983 version was really not that good.
Reboot is to be directed by Seth Grahame-Smith,

Whatever happened to Joe Cornish? I was just thinking that.
He’d been linked to a bunch of projects but after his impressive debut (Attack the Block) finding the right one was proving difficult.
The latest project to seek his input is the spy thriller Section Six, which explores the origin of British counter-intelligence agency MI6.
More information if it develops.

March Madness continues with the cinema release of The Machine and a very limited release it is, we can only confirm two London Cinemas where it is showing: Ritzy Cinema Brixton and Hackney Picturehouse.

Coming up fast is Captain America: The Winter Soldier. The reviews have been flowing in and they are deliriously positive. Disturbingly so. Especially since they are saying all of the things we’d like them to hear.
We really liked the first Captain America and hope, just hope this new one can be half as brilliant as forecast.

Looks like Ubisoft’s Splinter Cell has a director, It’s Doug “Jumper” Liman. The feature is due for release in 2015.
Ubisoft Studios is positioning itself as gaming’s Marvel; it formerly optioned away its intellectual property (to unsatisfactory results) and now it is taking control and has six feature films on its slate.
Of course Marvel’s Intellectual property consists of stories and Ubisoft’s consists of playability.
Let’s see how it plays out.

Dead Man Acts
Fast & Furious 7; we learned of Paul Walker’s tragic death in 2013, and now we hear the production company will complete the scenes with body doubles and CGI.
Finishing movies where actors have died is not unprecedented; Brandon Lee and The Crow, Oliver Reed and Gladiator. But Fast & Furious 7 shut down with half of Walkers scenes remaining unfilmed.
A note of disclosure here. I didn’t see the last three Fast & Furious films and I am not a fan.
I am however interested in digital recreation of performances.
Just how successful is the process likely to be? Human performance is the gold standard of CGI; we have seen it go all to wrong in films from Final fantasy: the Sprits Within to The Polar Express.
We have also seen relative successes like the de-aging of Patrick Stewart and Ian McKellen in X-Men: Last Stand.
Will they be able to create convincing performances in Fast & Furious 7? And just how far are they going; they are talking about doing both CGI facial reconstruction and voice.
If they pull this off it could be a step towards the total digital creation of a human performance: one that owes nothing to a “real” performance.
As it is they are enhancing human performances.
We shall be following developments with interest.

What’s Ridley Doing..?
We are not the only ones asking what Ridley is doing. Since 20th Century Fox announced there would be an untitled Ridley Scott film opening on March 4, 2016 there has been speculation. The Rumour is it will either be Prometheus 2, or Blade Runner 2.
Weighing in on my own I see no reason to assume it would be any of the above or even a science fiction film (Scot has a preference for historical films and he has many on his present slate) although, all things considered the chances are better than even.
Time of course, will tell.

But just to keep the suspense going here are a number of Ridley’s films that are presently with 20th Century Fox:
The Forever War

And they are only a fraction of the films on Ridley’s slate (I’d conservatively estimate twenty active ones- after removing the ones probably in turnaround).


The trailer for the Science Fiction thriller The Signal has released and the blogs are excited:
I didn’t get it.
I thought I’d covered it already, apparently not;
basic scenario: a group of teenagers go wandering in the wilds of Nevada
they all lose consciousness, and when the awakened they find themselves the prisoners of some shadowy government department, and one or more of them seem to have been strangely changed by the experience.

The producers are keeping it all kind of mysterious, possibly in order to create intrigue that would also explain the mysterious viral marketing going along with it.

It seems to have worked in the journalistic community; I am hearing it compared to everything from Chronicle to District 9.

But I’m not hooked and I’m waiting for some reviews

I was fascinated to note Europa Report got a Nebula Nomination.* Now have not been paying much attention to this found footage space feature due to the mixed reviews it received (that is mixed negative rather than mixed..mixed)
So I went on to Starburst and checked out what they thought..
Apparently it still sucked.

we have a release date for Last Days on Mars, Friday 11 April 2014. it had mixed reviews. no, Actually they pretty much hated it.

The Zero Theorem Review

This is a combination of the familiar and the strange.
Qohen Lethe is a number cruncher working on the titular Zero Theorem, an equation designed to prove that Zero is equal to 100% and life is meaningless.
It’s a loud bright world one that Qohen feels ill at ease with, he has every phobia going, lives a life of quiet despair and longs only for a phone call that will tell him what his life means.
Into his life comes a mysterious woman who for some reason is fascinated with him. And Still he is unable to solve the Zero Theorem.
The visuals are great, and they are even more impressive once you consider that this was a low-budget production.
This is an odd film; Christopher Waltz gives an eccentric performance.
yet it is a familiar, there are moments reminiscent from Gilliam’s other films.
That said it is an interesting and uncompromising film, a rarity in a market which squeezes revenue from ever frame of film.
It is not as original or powerful as Gilliam’s best, but it is forceful and honest in its ideas and worth a look.

*I’m not going into who else got a Nomination…yey Pacific Rim!

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 (146)

15 Mar

The information age isn’t finished with us.

Some Greek Ire
300: Rise Of an Empire is the first of the month’s big openings. I really liked 300, it was different, a real crowd pleaser and easy on the eye. And it definitively showed Zack Snyder was a force to be reckoned with.
But 300: Rise of An Empire is not a Zack Snyder film, and the rule of sequels tells us to expect the same again, only less so.
I am just not feeling it.

The reviews have come in and predictably…hey wait a fracking moment! They actually like it! It is not unanimous but by and large the reviewers admit the new director Noam Murro has pulled off a workable sequel, recreating the visual style and narrative flavour of the original. In short they think it is worth a look.
There are a few provisos: in no way is it as powerful or iconic as the first, the male characters are a little colourless, on the other hand the female characters; Artemisia on the Persian side and Queen Gorgo on the Greek are just great, go see and take your Significant Other. (I’m still not going.)

Word is coming through that Rise of an Empire has done comfortably well at the box office. Do I hear yet another sequel coming on?

Alien Sex Fiend
Also just out, Under the Skin. Also getting a lot of positive reviews. Scarlett Johansson as an alien wandering about in Glasgow abducting and consuming men.
On paper this should be a no-brainer, but to be honest it is not moving me. It may be something simple as the lack of extensive prosthetic effects… or spaceships.
Hey, I’m a simple soul.

When Hook-men Attack
Here is something, a documentary called Killer Legends from Josh Zeman. Zeman takes a look at the factual basis of four urban legends: The Candyman, The Babysitter and the Man Upstairs, The Hookman and The Killer Clown.
Back in the last century I lived with a friend whose vast collection of Jan Harold Brunvand’s Urban Legend books gave me hours of entertainment, more so they left two effects; amazement at the persistence of certain attractive myths and disappointment with the gullibility of the general public (including myself).
So I am interested to see what Zeman will do with this material: will he sadly expose the mundane basis of attractive myths, or will he bend over backwards to fit the facts to the theory?
Anyway Killer Legends will be screened on Chiller TV in the US on March 16th.
No word on a DVD release as yet.

Unoriginal Sins
Robert Rodriguez and Frank Miller have wrapped on Sin City 2. They are eager to get going on Sin City 3.
Oh dear. Do they have enough stories left?
Frank Miller wrote and drew as series of Sin City stories for Dark Horse.
Included in Sin City 1 were; The Hard Goodbye, That Yellow Bastard, The Big Fat Kill and The Customer Is Always Right.
In Sin City 2 will be: A Dame to Kill For, “Just Another Saturday,” and two new stories by Frank Miller “Long Bad Night.” and another unnamed one.
OK, so it seems if we run out of graphic stories, Frank will just write more: remaining are Family Values and Booze, Broads, & Bullets with stories like The Babe Wore Red and eight more not including The Customer Is Always Right and Just Another Saturday.
That blows the theory.
So Sin City 3 is perfectly plausible, but is it advisable?
Seeing that the potency of film stories diminishes with each sequel, would number three be some weak a**ed s***?

We’ve liked Neil Marshall for a while, in fact ever since his first movie, Dog Soldiers. He is a solid storyteller, but more than that he made a string or original films, original British films.
His last was Centurion.
Hme. What has he been up to since then?
Television mostly; he’s directed episodes for Black Sails, Game of Thrones and his work will soon be seen in the DC comic series Constantine.
That’s all very well, his Television work has been well regarded, he is neither the first nor last feature-film director to work for the small screen (especially now in the era of prestige TV).
I’d like to see him get back to what he does best though: original genre movies. (I’m not fussy if he makes them in Britain or not).

The Zero Theorem opens this week.
It has been a while since Terry Gilliam’s last movie. And we were certain this one was never going to get off the ground. But Gilliam is nothing if not persistent.
It was proposed back in 2009 but there was no movement on it until a couple of years back.
Even then it turned out that the production would be a small one, using a lot of green screen instead of build sets.

Any Gilliam movie is an event but we are especially excited about The Zero Theorem because it will be his first venture into science fiction since Brazil.
Now we doubt there will be anything as ground-breaking here, but still.
What we are expecting is originality, inventiveness, surrealism and a lot of ideas. Of course it should all be allied to Gilliam’s intense visual creativity.

Good news everybody: Terry Gilliam’s The Zero Theorem is also getting its US release.
Distributors Amplify will give it a theatrical release in the summer.
The UK will see it from March 14.

At Last
It must be a month of miracles and wonders because we have a US opening date for Snowpiercer; it is June 27, of cause since it is a limited release not everyone will be able to see it at once.
No word on an OK release.

Sam Raimi has signed up to produce and adaptation of the hit (and award winning) game The Last of Us.
I’d heard of the game but was not familiar so I checked it out: Joel and Ellie trek across a post holocaust landscape battling bandits, cannibals and “zombie like”* infected.

From Page to Screen
A man walks into a bar… Hme sounds like every time travel story I ever heard; in fact it sounds especially like the beginning to Robert A_ Heinlein’s classic of time paradox stories, “All you Zombies”. Which is just as well because this is the beginning of the adaptation renamed Predestination.
Ethan Hawke stars and it is directed by the peerless Spierig Brothers who brought us Daybreakers. It has received its premiere at SXSW and the verdict is it’s delicate and subtle work (huh? OK then…) not only exploring the rules of time travel and paradoxes but unfolding into an effective character study and poignant memoir of the twentieth century from the forties through the sixties. Well that was unexpected. Well keep you updated when and if there is a release date.

Martha De Laurentiis and Lorenzo De Maio have bought the rights to Frederik Pohl’s award winning novel Gateway, they plan to make it a TV series.

OK, we have more news on The Juliet (the feature adaptation of Alfred Bester’s “Fondly Fahrenheit”) The latest version of the screen play is to be written by Paul Haggis.
We also learned the short story had an earlier adaptation as a television play back in 1959 called Murder and the Android.
The feature is being described as a “futuristic Bonnie and Clyde”. Now we have heard this described as a romance before, yet the source material doesn’t exactly jibe” it’s about a playboy traipsing from on planet to another dragging a homicidally bipolar android…
Hmme, maybe the android is this Juliet and we have a bizarre love affair between the two (didn’t he see the public health film?**)

More Crimes Against Nature
Nacho Vigalondo’s Open Windows has finally emerged. It got a screening at SXSW. Vigalondo of course had a spectacularly successful debut with Timecrimes.
His latest entry is a thriller for the information age revolving around hacking, cellphones and surveillance cameras.
It has also been compared to Hitchcock with both North by Northwest and Rear Window evoked.
On the whole, they seem to like it.

Hopefully Super, Hopefully Not Bad
This one come out of nowhere; Sparks, the feature adaptation of a graphic novel from Christopher Folino.
Chase Williamson and Clancy Brown star.
A radioactive meteor strikes Rochester, New York creating the Rochester 13. A group of superpowered individuals.
Chase Williamson (Sparks) takes the fight to New York’s Criminal element. Unfortunately it seems he isn’t very good at it.
This one is all done and coming to DVD and Digital Download on March 18th.
If we see any reviews we’ll pass the word on.

London Calling
I was checking for news on this year’s Sci Fi London when I found a potential line-up at Facebook.

I don’t know if this is the official list but here’s some stuff I have been able to find out.

Desolate directed by Rob Grant
A pair of alienated friends must reconcile if they are to survive what looks like an alien invasion

Time Lapse directed by Bradley King
“Three friends discover a machine that takes pictures 24hrs into the future and conspire to use it for personal gain, until disturbing images begin to develop.”

Lost Time directed by Christian Sesma
A woman and her sister drive down a lonely road, they encounter a bright light and when the woman awakes her sister is gone.

The Perfect 46 directed by Brett Ryan Bonowicz
Geneticist Jesse Darden creates a website to match individuals with their perfect genetic partner for children.

Bunker 6 directed by Greg Jackson
A girl has been locked in a nuclear bunker since 1962 (when the bombs fell) her mentor dies and she must learn to maintain the bunker on her own.

The Phoenix Project directed by Tyler Pavey
Four Scientists try to reanimate the dead. But is it ethical?

SOS: Save Our Skins directed by Kent SobeyTwo science fiction fans in New York to discover the entire human race has disappeared.

The Dragonphoenix Chronicles: Indomitable directed by Thanos Kermitsis
A warrior escapes slavery and makes his way home, hot on his heels are his former masters.

OXV: The Manual directed by Darren Paul Fisher
In a world unlike ours: if you have high frequency you are born lucky, if low then bad luck will dog you all your days.
A girl of high frequency should never even meet a boy of low and yet they do, and fall in love.

Mood Indgio directed by Michel Gondry
An adaptation of Boris Vian’s novel L’Ecume des Jours about a woman with a flower
growing in her stomach. No, I can’t figure that one out either.

LFO: The Movie directed by Antonio Tublen
A man realises he can hypnotise people with sound. The more he uses his power, the more he abuses it.

THE Immortal Augustus Gladstone directed by Robyn C. Miller
Directed by the co-creator of the Myst computer game.
Augustus Gladstone is immortal… and on YouTube. A documentary crew attempt to discover if he is a liar… or vampire.

Hunger Ford directed by Drew Casson
A small English town is taken over by aliens, a group of kinds have to decide whether to knuckle under or resist.

A couple of things come to mind.
Point one: None of these films were on either the list I blogged, or on my secret list. You didn’t see my secret list? Oh yes, it was secret. But the point is. I didn’t predict them.
Point two, There is nothing here I really need to see.
Truth is, I will likely not be going to Sci Fi London this year, I will pick up their programme. Last year’s was a pathetic folded sheet they called a poster, I expect this year’s to be printed on toilet paper….

*they’re zombies.

**I Loved a Robot

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 (145)

4 Mar

The information age isn’t finished with us.

And So It Begins
As we move into March the schedule is hotting up (which is one way of saying we are heading for an almighty cluster f****).
What do I mean?
March is a very good month for releases.
We are looking at:

The Zero Theorem
The Machine
Need for Speed
300: Rise of an Empire

What makes it interesting is that Noah and The Raid 2 both open on March 28th 2014, and to my embarrassment I did not realise it but I just found out, so does
Captain America: The Winter Soldier. (I don’t know how I missed that one.)
I predict box office carnage.

And oh yes, Sci Fi London opens in March too….

Festively Yours
Usually I pointlessly speculate on Sci Fi London for earlier in the year. But there is so little from the independent sector that grabs my interest I have not gotten around to it.

No really. This is the year of Edge of Tomorrow, Jupiter Ascending, Transcendence, and Interstellar. There was a time when any single one of the would have been the event film of the year.

Science fiction has gone mainstream. So is there any room left in the independent sector?


I’d like to see:
the Viet SF movie Nuoc, just because it’s Vietnamese.

Korean Time Travel Film AM 1100

Our Robot Overlords from Callan McAuliffe

Automata with Antonio Banderas

Exodus from Denmark

To tell the truth there isn’t a lot that piques my interest. No tragedy.
Come to think of it there were only three items from last year’s Festival that made my head pop up, and none of them moved me strongly enough to go:
The Tai Chi Zero plus Tai Chi Hero double bill
The War of the Worlds: Goliath 3D
and Vanishing Waves
None of them have received a proper release, and aside from the Tai Chi due this is no problem: steampunk kung fu? Why the fuck not?

I had the opportunity to read Red Rising by Pierce Brown and it’s a storming read. I was afraid it was a typical Hunger Games rip off, and although it has certain resemblances to that and other young adult titles it has an undeniable forward momentum and fun to it. So much so, that I’m tempted to buy the sequel when it emerges.
Red Rising has been lined up as Marc Foster’s next directing project.

In Hostel Territory
Eli Roth has not put out his current film The Green Inferno yet, but he has now selected the follow-up.
Some of you may have been waiting for his major SF project, Endangered Species, which he promised would be epic in scope. (I know I was).
Well that won’t be his next film.
Coming up is Knock Knock written by Nicolas Lopez and Guillermo Amoedo (who wrote Aftershock for him).
Two girls seduce a married man and turn his life upside down. More news as it develops.

A Nazi Affair
What we know about Iron Sky 2?
Iron Sky may have divided the critics but that hasn’t stopped the sequel.
It will be called Iron Sky: The Coming Race
and it is going for a very different scenario. It is set 20 years after an nuclear holocaust, the last of humanity huddles on a moonbase. their only hope is to sent a team into the hollow earth and retrieve the Holy Grail, that would easy if they didn’t have to take on an army of reptiloids and dinosaurs.
Udo Kier is back they are shooting for a 2015 start and a 2016 release
Sounds utterly bugfuck; a mix of Blavatskian Hollow Earth and Atlantean mythology, but then again the original Iron Sky 2. sounds better in conception the execution.
This is not all, the producers are also talking about an ongoing TV series.

On the Far Horizons
Tremble ye in fear! I have discovered a whole new source of movie information.
It is a list of spec scripts sold to studios and production companies.
No, this is the most delicate stage of film development, while it is just a script without any principals attached it is most likely to “go into turnaround” i.e. to be positioned, usually permanently.
So most of the names on this list will never get anywhere near shooting.
On the other hand it is the earliest word of original projects, sure some are adapted from books but very few are adaptations of games, comic books, or other films, and none are sequels.

I’m stoked, just looking at the science fiction scripts sold last year;
“Maggie’s Dawn,” by Blaine Tyler.
“Tranquility Base,” by Daniel Turkewitz’s
“Outside The Wire.” by Rob Yescombe’s
“Capsule,” by Ian Shorr
“Orbit” by Bruce Guido
Pantheon by Spenser Cohen

Unfortunately there is very little detail on most of them (well they are original, if they showed their hand, someone would just pinch their idea…)

That said we have some information on these unlikely-to-be-produced items.
Tranquility Base was acquired by Ridley Scott’s Scot Free company, (at this point I am not even going to ask what Ridley is doing) It has been described as ” Lord Of The Flies in space”,
Maggie’s Dawn; An android housemaid becomes a gladiator after a nuclear war. (Um.. Umm.. give me a moment… Real Steel meets Mad Max..? I Flailing here..)
Capsule: a young man starts getting capsules with messages from his future self.

Try Some Iron?
My prayers must have been answered , the Metal Hurlant Chronicle has found a home at the Syfy Channel and they will be screening series one from April.
Now, let hope it’s actually good.

Take you higher…
Empire Magazine web site have revealed more details of Ben Wheatley’s High Rise
If I am reading this right Wheatley is shooting it as a period film set the seventies.

High-Rise is due to open in 2015

I don’t generally report rumours, but I am hearing that the Wachowskis are returning to the universe of the Matrix. Just as well, they left loose ends. Wait, I am hearing prequels are in the works. Oh dear.

John Dies At The End
DVD Review
An accurate review of how it made me feel would consist entirely of phrases like “What the F***”, “Get the F*** out of here! and most often “That is some f***** up s***!”
Because that is what I was saying all the way through the movie.
Basic plot. David Wong, a young guy goes to a rave, he and his friends take a dubious substance nicknamed “soy sauce” and from there all of their lives get horribly strange (I will neither confirm nor deny that bizarre monsters and interdimensional travel is involved)
And as for the title it’s not a spoiler because actually John…. well that would be saying.
Most reviews called this an interesting but failed experiment; not true it is a finely crafted construction that wrong foots the viewer at every turn, it has breathtaking leaps of narrative bravery, and it is very confidently executed.
The director Don Coscarelli was famous for his Phantasm films, admixtures of horror and surrealism unequal measures. In “John…” the surrealism far overwhelms the horror and it shows where Coscarelli’s heart has always been.
I really hope he does something like this again.

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.