Archive | May, 2014

Grunting at the Screen (152)

24 May

The information age isn’t finished with us.

Feet on the Ground

Foresight Unlimited is raising money for a science fiction disaster movie called Inversion: The earth loses gravity and it is devastation all over
script is by Bragi Schut and David Arata, no word on director yet.
It sounds familiar, I am sure there was another project called “Gravity” (no not that Gravity) with a similar premise.

Short to Feature
I am not going to make the traditional joke about “Mexico’s greatest Science fiction movie” because Mexico has a long history of genre film.
Latest is a co-production with Canada’s EMAfilms and Mexico’s Velarium
to make Multiplier; a clone drama expanded from director Rodrigo Hernandez’s short Protocol. In a world where cloning is illegal, some still have cloning machines called Multipliers, one of them is stuck in a loop producing endless clones. Has potential but not yet its nation’s finest Science Fiction feature.

….Which cannot be said for Cuba, which has wrapped principle photography on its greatest Science Fiction feature (yes, they say it’s the first one..) It is now in postproduction and it’s called Omega 3.

Director is Eduardo del Llano (known for his novels and short films).
I am not at all sure what it involves but I have gleaned some facts.
It’s a post-holocaust feature, based in a devastated city.
The soundtrack is by the Argentinean composer Osvaldo Montes.
The director claims it has a “Blade Runner atmosphere”, mixing futuristic and retro aspects. Hme…

And then there are some things I am not so clear about.
he also claim it is about “food partisanship” where “diet is a watchword” I’m not sharing my guesses about where that is going.. although it might just explain the title…
Anyway, no release date as of yet, I’ll keep on top of it.

It Bites
When I first mentioned Wolfcop you thought I was kidding, werewolf cop? Very funny. Well laugh on the other side of your face; not only is it almost done but they have greenlit a sequel, it will film this autumn. You have the right to remain hairy, very hairy.

No Horned Hats
Vikings are very much back, they are on television, they are on film, in fact Stellan Skarsgard I has been cast in an adaptation of the Frans Bengtsson novel “The Long Ships” Hans Petter Moland is to direct what has been described as the Biggest Swedish Vikings production yet.

Is this the End?
Lately we have been inundated with end of the world dramas, and I emphasise dramas, because the emphasis now seems to be the emotional effect on the characters during this pressing time: Les Derniers Jours du Monde,
4:44 Last Day on Earth,
The Last Days of the World,
and Seeking a Friend for the End of The World among many others.

The latest of these is Zak Hilditch’s These Final Hours, which follows a young man as he tries to get a girl back home so she can spend the last hours of the world with her family.
The film is all wrapped and trailers are circulating now.

Also screening trailers is the time travel feature I’ll Follow You Down directed by Richie Mehta, in this one, a man discovers that his father, who disappeared years back, may well have invented a time machine, his investigations threaten to send him on the same journey.

Here’s a sequel I don’t mind at all.
Back in 2010 the Brothers Strause brought us Skyline, a low budget Alien Invasion picture, for its money it was pretty creative and I liked it a lot. Problem is it finished just as it got interesting: just what were those brain sucking aliens up to? Well we’ll have a chance to find out with Beyond Skyline to be directed by Liam O’Donnell, who served as producer and screenwriter on the first film. We are gratified it is staying “in house” which should give us a more authentic result. The new film has just hit its earliest financing stages, so it may be a while before we see it.

Reviews for Edge of Tomorrow are out now and the verdict is; They Like it!

Monster Weekend
The numbers are out on Godzilla and they are spectacularly good. The studio was hoping for a $90m weekend, they got all of that plus $100m international opening. The upshot of this is that the sequel was greenlit immediately.
I am in two minds at this.
It seems they want Gareth Edwards to come back as director.
I’m glad it has been successful. But I’d prefer Gareth Edwards goes on to something else.
But it gets worse. Edwards has been selected to direct the first Star Wars stand-alone movie. And then he’ll do Godzilla 2… as a part of a Trilogy.
He had an interesting project in the works with Timur Bekmambetov: “Forever” based on a totally robot society (And I love robots).
But a sequel to a reboot? Hme?


It’s the boxing day Tsunami, It’s Fukashima, It’s 11 9/11s, it’s Chernobyl. In fact it is a composite of all sorts of natural disasters, in the form of a giant monster movie.

The reports are accurate, you will not see any monster action at all for the first hour… and when you do…

Actually this is a small spoiler so don’t read on if don’t want to know…

… the first monster you see is not Godzilla; there will be monster on monster action and you first meet MUTO, ‘Zilla’s enemy. What is he like? Kind of a hybrid of Mothra, a bat, and the creature from Cloverfield.

OK, spoilers over. This film is a slow burner, it starts in the Philippines with the discovery of a mysterious egg, and develops into a strange who dunnit: involving cover-ups, a secret research project and the birth of a monster that will challenge the world.

When we do see monsters it is largely from the human perspective, so they look all the more imposing, and this is a loud film, the cinema shakes with Godzilla’s roar.

As mentioned before, it all heats up in the last third where the military decided to use the Bomb (like that ever works) the action moves to San Francisco. There is property damage like you cann… well actually you can imagine it, it’s about the level of a modern action film.

When is more powerful are the scenes of post devastation, reminiscent of news footage from disaster areas.

Every effort is made to make it look real. And as for the FX, at no point did I say “that is CG S***!” although it largely was CGI. It seems we have gotten over the hump into consistent realism.

The most oft cited detraction has been the human story, I don’t see the problem, there is a solid if slightly melodramatic story of fathers and sons and the way men try to protect their families. What I will say is that the human story slides to the background in the last third, but it is difficult to narrate at a human scale when gods do battle in the streets.

As well as the clear references to real disaster, there are subtle homages to genre film: Alien, Cloverfield, and interestingly enough Terminator. They are clear, but never heavy handed.

OK on the downside it is a bit long, as all action spectacles have recently been. But not onerously so. There are some logic problems, not so many as to ruin it.

If you have seen the trailer there are some surprises; that iconic shot of Godzilla roaring through the closing blast doors? Never happens, but a similar shot does.

Now we get to the controversy. Is Godzilla fat? OK, he could stand to lose a few tons but he wears it well.

So, as reboots go, this is a superior one, it is true to its heritage without being slavish to it, it has a real story and real spectacle. Worth a look.

Trailers this week include Maleficent (darker and more interesting than expected) and X-Men: Days of Future Past (Oh it looks so good… still not going, oh no.)

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 (151)

17 May

The information age isn’t finished with us.

Heaven and Hell
Having dodged the bullet of I Frankenstein (oh yes, at one time he was attached as a director) Patrick Tatopoulos has now contacted to helm New Babylon
where…oh dear, check this: it is based in a futurist Middle East where the Tower of Babylon has been rebuilt and wait for it, there is a war between angels and demons.
To be honest this sounds just a little like I Frankenstein, which was not a little like Underworld. And maybe mixed in a little with Legion which now has a TV series named Dominion. Hme…
But… no doubt it will be well designed.

And now for Godzilla.
On paper it is a typical object of derision, a reboot of a reboot of a foreign adaptation of a sixty year old franchise.
It actually should be played out.
The wild card in this latest incarnation is the Director Gareth Edwards, coming off of his independent, (in fact guerrilla) debut feature, he brought afresh eye. His film Monsters was an excellent extension on the Bong Joon-Ho tactic of using the Giant monster genre to explicate human relationships.
Now he is parallel but subtly different territory: unlike his debut, this one comes with a massive cultural burden, and the weight of expectations.

Which brings us to early reactions. There have been screenings and reactions were mixed, a small number were confused that the monster did not appear until quite late in the film, but many praised the slow-burn approach. What is clear is that this will not be the Monster-mash spectacle that Pacific Rim was.

Whether it can convince an audience sceptical after Roland Emmerich’s reboot, well that is yet to be seen.

Godzila reviews are out and the verdict is mixed. Well mixed/positive. Although as few notices criticise the human side of the drama, most of them track enthusiastic to wildly positive.

Since this seems to be the reboot, remake and sequel edition I could mention that Sharknado is getting a second sequel, having eschewed the brilliant (and still so far unused title) “Sharkicane”, I suspect they will also pass on “Sharkquake” which I will let them have for free, I’d quite like to see the earth cracking open and shark heads snapping at hapless pedestrians… possibly in Los Angeles..

Just out on Disk
We knew there would be clones of Gravity, we just thought they would appear some time between two and four years’ time.
But here were are with the first straight to video offering with an EVA suit floating on the cover… and it’s not even from Asylum!
I took a look around and found a few things. First it was originally released 2013 as “Astronaut: The Last Push” and, you would believe it, the cover is just a little bit deceptive.
The scenario is a little like this; there is a space mission to Europa, moon of where is it Jupiter? I dunno, OK, the mission is cut short and the crew battle to get home.. over a period of years.
There were also a few reviews, and they were not encouraging. Yes the film depicts a journey of years, so the best you can expect is “slow burn” although indications are not so enthusiastic. Most of the action takes place in the cramped capsule so don’t expect many spacewalk scenes. The budget is rock bottom and there is little indication this is compensated for by either great writing or performances.
It stars, Khary Payton and is directed by Eric Hayden.
Anyway, I haven’t seen it, it might be great… It’s now on supermarket shelves.

Talking of Asylum, when are they going to being out their Gravity clone? We are disappointed.

2014 is the year of straight to video. It must be because Gallowwalkers is here.
I waited so many years for it. Since 2008 at least! This was the last film made by Wesley Snipes before his unfortunate legal problems. The concept is just nutso. It’s a martial arts occult Western… based on a cult Korean comic; a gun slinger is afflicted with a curse that everyone he kills will return to life and attempt to kill him in turn.
Well it is here and in supermarkets (again no extras, but what do you expect?)
As for the quality? Ah..

Also going straight to disk Ice Soldiers starring Dominic (has only one expression) Purcel. Basic scenario: back in 1962 three Nazi created Russian super-soldiers were poised to launch an attic on New York (try to keep up). However they are frozen on the Canadian Arctic (a fate endemic to super soldiers).
Fast forward to the twenty-first century and a team of scientists accidentally thaw out the Russians.
Bad move. Murder and mayhem ensure.
Purcel and Adam Beach playing native trapper have to track down the Russians before they carry out the attack on New York.
Reviews are mixed, it is cheap and has no big set -pieces, Purcel makes Steven Segal look like John Gielgud, and it has not one original bone in its body. However it is beautifully shot in stark snow bound locations and the director Sturla Gunnarsson does make an effort. It’s out now and here is a positive review from Starburst

For years, no really years Brian Yuzna’s Amphibious has languished in the wings, but now it has a release.

It’s the story of the hunt for a giant monster in Indonesian waters.

Yuzna in the past has been known for his wild and innovative film making m films that anticipated the madness of say the Sushi Typhoon boys in Japan.
However this is not one of his more acclaimed works. Reviews suggests it has a ramshackle structure, shoddy CGI and inconsistent in both visuals and pace.

There certainly is a wave of disks, like The Forgotten, also known as Falls the Shadow, it’s a post holocaust story of a man find his family three years after society has been wrecked by war.
There are some zombies in there but they are not the main thing.
Reviews suggest it is a good little independent movie with a decent story and performances… if a little on the cheap side.

Just Optioned
Kate Cohen and Marisa Polvino (who are producing “Transcendence”) have optioned Richard K. Morgan’s award winning novel Thirteen (aka. “Black Man”).
It’s about genetically modified super soldiers who must face the reality of their existence and their place in the world.
Good for Morgan, but I would not get excited quite yet, several of the authors other
novels have also been optioned and are still languishing on turn around.

What the %&£! is Ridley doing now? World is circulating that Ridley Scott is negotiating to replace Drew (Cabin in the woods) Goddard as director of The Martian. (Talk about “from the ridiculous to the sublime..”) We blogged The Martian back in Grunt (149). It’s an adaptation of a current novel about an astronaut stuck on mars (presumably alone) where he must endure all privations in his quest to survive.
Of course the long shadow of Gravity falls over this project, and Scott, should he accept this mission, will have to put clear blue water between himself and that recent mega-hit.
The second and obvious comment is, if he does accept this project that kicks a number of big projects into the long grass: Prometheus 2 (which I’d quite like to see) The Forever War and Blade Runner 2 (which everyone is doubtful about).
Of course, judging from past performance Ridley’s next project will be none of the above but some smaller more intimate project (he tends to alternate).
He’s currently finishing up the big Moses project… just changed names what are they calling it now? Exodus: Gods And Kings.*

In totally unrelated news, there are rumours that Prometheus 2 is getting a new director. Word is that 20th Century Fox is eager to get the sequel going soon, and with Ridley very iffy about immediately returning to it, there may be a replacement on the cards.

Which is all very interesting because we just got word that Harrison Ford has been offered a part in Blade Runner 2. The production company is very enthusiastic, they are bullish about the new script.
Which all suggest in the slightest way that Blade Runner 2 is an “on” project.
All of this does not change the above: it is unlikely Ridley Scott will be directing it any time soon.
Let’s speculate, perhaps Ridley Scott is directing The Martian (or some small project), this means Blade Runner 2 is off the table, this means Prometheus 2 is off the table. It means Ridley is shedding projects like anybody’s business.
But that is just speculation.

Now Casting
Every time you count Clive Barker’s Books of Blood movies down for the count another one pops up. And it looks like Jacqueline Ess from Clive Barker’s short story Jacqueline Ess: Her Will and Testament is going full speed ahead, casting has begun Lena Headey will star;
Jacqueline Ess discovers she can transform other people’s bodies at will. Sounds like fun.
Jovanka Vuckovic is to direct from a script by Christian Francis, Barker’s Seraphim Films will produce.

In Memorium
Artist and Visionary HR Giger has passed away. He shaped the imagination of a generation and his benevolent claw on our shoulder will be missed.

Reviews of X-Men: Days of Future Past are in. Word is that it is ambitious, sprawling and successful.
That said I am exhausted with the X Men films and hope you enjoy them.. without me.

Ooh that’s embarrassing! Here is a quote from Grunt 30 “‘though Alfonso Cuaron has made a bunch of films, he is very foreign and no one expects a big hit out of him,”

*I prefer “Movement of Jah People” but what do I know?

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.