Archive | October, 2014

Grunting at the Screen (163)

23 Oct

The information age isn’t finished with us.

Oh this sounds good, Spanish director Albert Arizza is deep in pre-production his current project Malware; a woman has been kidnapped by cyber-criminals, her house androids have been infected with a strange virus. Production is due in summer 2015

Edge of Tomorrow was a while back so I guess not many of you are interested in further news, but Topless Robot asked, just how much does it differ from its source material, All you need is Kill. And this is what they came up with.

For a while it seemed that Joseph Kosinski was going to be a Sci-Fi guy. it seemed,  like Vincenzo Natali and Neill Blomkamp, he was set on the course:  he debuted with Tron: Legacy followed up with Oblivion and he has a slate of films like The Black Hole remake, and Twilight Zone (remake). However he is angling to direct The Trials of White Boy Rick the tale of a Caucasian drug kingpin in Harlem.

Maybe he can do with a change. Let’s see how it goes.

I was expecting Antonio Banderas’s Automata was bound for a 2015 debut but in fact it will have a limited US release from this week.

Critical reaction has been mixed but the SF oriented blogs have praised it as a rare beast: a thoughtful science fiction film. That in itself makes it worth checking out: Now will it get a UK release?

Coming in under the radar is British science fiction horror feature Hangar 10: a group of metal detector enthusiasts are hunting at the site of a classic UFO siting, they run into their own Alien encounter and find their lives at risk. It is a found- footage film from director Daniel Simpson. Astonishingly it is done and scheduled for a US release on November 7th and a British release in February.


While checking up on Hangar 10 I ran into something called The Call Up from director Charles Barker.

The setup is familiar: a group of online gamers receive a mysterious call to try out a state of the art combat simulation, when they get there they find themselves in a real fight for their lives. (hmme can anyone remember The Last Starfighter…?)

The screenplay made it to the Brit list (the British equivalent of The Blacklist). Thing is it, the script is sold but production is yet to be scheduled.

Disney has lost the rights to the Edgar Rice Burroughs John Carter novels.

Now that they have reverted back to the Edgar Rice Burroughs Inc., the original rights-holders have planned addition John Carter films.

Of course this is easier said than done: they must first find a studio brave enough to take on the property (may I suggest Marvel Studios…?)

Well things have turned around. There is now a slow but steady flow of cheap, straight to disk science fiction.

I don’t know how long this has been out Time Runners has just caught my attention (find it at all supermarkets, and no doubt some mediocre ones too.

(AKA 95ers: Time Runners.) Not to be confused with Time Runner (singular) a Mark Hamill movie from 1993, this one was made in 2013 but seems to have emerged this year.

It is hard to describe this but the protagonist is a woman who can rewind time by a few minutes; this comes in handy because her husband is kidnapped by someone from the future. From here on it gets complicated.

Reviews have been mixed but the negative ones have been virulent: the story, acting have been berated in no uncertain terms. although the FX is apparently acceptable for it’s low budget.

It has champions too, but I’m somehow not convinced.

Glad to see low-budget SF on the shelves, the more there is, the more chance that some of it will be good.

Coming this month to DVD:

Appleseed Alpha; this is a prequel to the many Appleseed features. And we catch up with stone killer Deunan and her cyborg buddy, Briareos working as mercenaries to crime bosses on the post holocaust scene (…hmm post holocaust organised crime… why didn’t I see that coming?.)

They are contacted by agents of the utopian city Olympus and suddenly find themselves on the side of right and saving what is left of New York City.

It’s a CG animation, I have seen stills and they are, well very convincing.

Space Station 76, the SF comedy in the style of the 1970s.

Initial reviews were enthusiastic but Starburst hates it. Me, I’m not a big fan of parodies.

And Oculus, a reality-horror style feature using a haunted mirror as its McGuffin.

We have mentioned the Anime adaptation, Kite.

Stars Samuel Jackson. It has the old experienced-man plus girl-assassin thing going on (huh? Leon, Hanna.. it’s becoming a subgenre, man, even Film School Rejects say so!

Well don’t look for it at the cinemas, it’s going straight to disk.

Usually that is an alarm bell.

inevitably the first review has turned up on Starburst.

Atmospheric, brutal violent. What is there not to like?

However the acting is average and the characteristic skeletal.

On the whole they think the film is just about OK (which might justify its straight-to-disk fate).

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


Grunting at the Screen (162)

3 Oct

The information age isn’t finished with us.

Instead of some news, a comment. So a deal has been set up for William Gibson’s Pattern Recognition. Fair enough.
Has its time come and gone?
When it was written there was no YouTube.
Since then YouTube is passer, we have raced through the YouTube Era to the Machinima era and now we live in the shadows of Netflix and Amazon.
But them we could never have imagined a world of Broad Band High Definition television on the web.
We have all but turned the web into broadcast TV.
Has Pattern Recognition missed the bus?
Perhaps not, its other aspect is that it is an internet mystery, and people are still fascinated by internet mysteries, if something appears and it does not appear to be advertising something, or serving someone’s ego, it is just enigmatically there then it can still pull in the fascination of the world’s netizens.
So, still in with a chance…at the moment.

The Maze Runner has been surprisingly successful. No surprisingly. I was beginning to suspect that the era of big YA movies was over, aside from a few successes like Hunger Games All I saw were also runs. Mortal Instruments crashed and burned, Divergent was only moderately successful.
But The Maze Runner has opened big with a $30m box office and it seems the YA juggernaut will keep steaming on.

You know what I’m calling Gary Whitta now? The guy with all the pictures. Why. Well he’s a screen writer and he just got hired to do Mark Millar’s Starlight.
What has this to do with all the pictures Mr. Whitta presumably owns of film executives banging their personal assistants?
Well he wrote The Book of Eli and One Thousand A.E. Now The Book of Eli was not terrible, not hugely original, but not a classic. On the other hand One Thousand A.E. was a steaming turd; one of the worst big budget SF movies I have seen in years, and the writing was a big part of this.
Yet Gary Whitta is never without a gig. He’s got all the pictures, dude.

They Killed his Dog.No, seriously.
John Wick, the new Keanu Reeves vehicle is based on a plot element most would consider parody.
Reeves plays the eponymous John Wick, an ex-hitman. All he wants is to retire and grieve for his dead wife, but some thugs kill his dog, so he has t go all Liam Neeson on their asses.
I’ve seen some reviews and despite the shakey premise, they say Keanu is convincing as a master of gun-fu and it’s kind of entertaining.

Predestination, which they are now saying is “inspired by” Robert Heinlein’s classic short story “All You Zombies”, rather an adaptation of, now has an opening date; it can be seen from January 9th. 2015 in the US.

I feel obligated to tell you that the feature film I Origins opened this week. It is about the structure of the eye and the debate surrounding divine existence. Made by the director of Another Earth, it has attracted praise from the reviewers and it sounds boring as all sin.
One for you guys, I think.

Not a lot I read is worth blogging. But a sudden rash of news has brought a smile to my eyes.
Sony has just picked up Eden Project science-fiction script from Black List awarded screenwriter Christina Hodson. There are no details as to plot but they are letting on that the cast is female-lead.

Also getting backing from Spanish company TVE is the science-fiction film ‘Project Lazarus’ from writer Mateo Gil. This one we have details on: it is 2074 and for the first time a human has been revived from cryogenic suspension.
Fine, the theme has knocking around the genre since HG Wells and “The Sleeper Awakens, it has great potential.

Word is even better on Equals from director Drake Doremus. We blogged it back in issue (128). Good news is that principle photography is done.
There are also some details: the futures, emotions have been banished and humanity lives in harmony. However a disease reactivates dormant human emotions. A man and a woman become infected and realised they must team up to escape before they are sent to a mysterious place of quarantine.
As details emerge it appears that the story is an updated version of Orwell’s 1984.
Strangely, I think we can forgive this.
Ridley Scott is producing.

OK, straight-to-disk science fiction is getting more visible. Now on the super market shelves is Scintilla.
Info on this has been hanging out in my “military horror” folder for a while.
It has a familiar scenario. A military unit investigate an abandoned lab. Only to find the experiment running is more dangerous than expected.
It has a unique selling point.
Biff Byford from the heavy metal band Saxon has recorded a concept album based on the film.
But what about the feature itself? Reviews are mixed. is has been described as sold and compared to Neil Blomkamp’s District 9, on the other hand it has been criticised for poor pacing and a weak ending.

I knew there was a reason I went to horror movie sites- and I know it can’t be the found footage films or the zombies- it’s stuff like this; Debug produced by David Hewlett of Stargate Atlantis fame (so it should be at least as good as … Stargate Atlantis, huh?)
So what do they say about it? We are in deep space and six hackers on work release are attention to debug the systems of a massive derelict freighter, as they are working they realise that the ship’s artificial intelligence is alive and malevolent and they fight to escape alive.
Has potential: little 2001, a little Event Horizon.
Stars Jason Momoa before he hits the big time as Aquaman.
Principal Photography is done, From the DVD cover pics we have found we suspect this one is going straight to disk.

I am still stoked over
Antonio Banderas’ Automata. Now you saw the trailer (you did see the trailer? I sent you to it: and you might think that is a lot of CGI.
Well not as much as you might think. The best bits are quite practical.
Check out this background clip at Aint it Cool:

When Dan Trachtenberg unleashed his game-tribute short Portal: No Escape onto the web it was a cause celebre. It was only a matter of time before he got his own feature.
Well hopefully that time is a little closer. Screenwriter Gary Dauberman has been hired for his current project, Crime of the Century. Details are vague: a gang of thieves use time travel to pull off the crime of the century

Also not related to Gravity is the Neil Armstrong biopic “First Man”. It is based on the book by James R. Hansen.
Josh Singer will write the script, Damien Chazelle will the director.
There is no start date yet.

Over the last few years we have seen a number of projects based on the earliest generations of video games: Space Invaders, Asteroids, Missile Command, and Pac-Man. You know games without the slightest hint of narrative. What unites them is that not one of them has made it to t he silver screen. The latest such project is Tetris. The producer is Larry Kasanoff who describes it as “Epic”.

Where did this one come from?We’d been so busy paying attention to the Patlabor projects we did not notice
Mamoru Oshii had another project going, Garm Wars: The Last Druid. On a world known as Annwn three tribes are embroiled in a war without end, throwing their clone solders into the fray.
One clone is separated from her troop in the battle, and finds a burning desire to learn the truth.
This one is a live action-animation hybrid. I suppose it means there will be a ton of CG, Lance Henriksen, Andrew Gillies and Melanie St Pierre stars.

What of Marvel?Before Guardians of the Galaxy we were asking “has the studio become the brand” and the clear answer now is “Yes.”
Based largely on the brand of Marvel Studios itself, Guardians became a massive hit.
Our question for now is “Can Marvel survive its own success?”
2015 brings Ant Man and Avengers 2. I don’t doubt they will open.
It is clear the studio will have an audience for whatever it brings out, so what happens when Marvel brings out a stinker? And I don’t just mean a film that underperforms, I mean a belly flop of a movie.
Every studio does it, and with Marvel releasing two (rising to three) films a year, there eventually will be a misfire.
The studio is becoming a legend, can it survive failure?

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.