Archive | November, 2014

Grunting at the Screen (165)

18 Nov

The information age isn’t finished with us.

Now here is something, Jeff VanderMeer’s novel Annihilation has been optioned.

It has a writer/director and it is Alex Garland of 28 Days Later fame.

There is an environmental disaster zone labelled Area X. A biologist leads her team into it to discover the truth.

I’ve often wondered what David Twohy does between Riddick movies. In this case he has a time travel movie named Replay in his sights.

(Unfortunately not the adaptation of Ken Grimwood’s seminal time look novel).

A man is involved in a time travel experiment but finds four days into the future his son has been murdered. He wakes up and it’s a day earlier, he finds he has to solve the murder, before it happens.

Production is due to start early 2015.

We are now getting word of a science-fiction feature called The Device, written and directed by Jeremy Berg.

The poster is great, it has a great Ghost in the Shell vibe going on.

Shame that the story is a very familiar alien abduction plot.

We now have a trailer for Neill Blomkamp’s Chappie (ooh, the rabbit ears give him a real Briarios lean…)

It’s kind of … sweet. No what you expect from Blomkamp.

I’m getting reports of what is claimed to be Russia’s first zombie feature; Winter of the Dead (that can’t be right…)

A Freak snowstorm ends Russia’s hottest ever summer and heralds an army of zombies who descend on a small town.

It is co-written and directed by Nikolai Pigarev and Mikhail Borzenkov. More when we have a release date or some reviews.

It looks like that disaster movie we told you back in issue 152, Inversion, is actually coming to fruition.

In this deeply unnatural disaster gravity is reversed and cities fall into the sky.

It now has a director; Scott Waugh of Act of Valour and Need for Speed fame.

We are hearing it has a budget of $120 million (which has become the top end of mid-budget).

I’m hearing about about a horror feature called The Blackout; the power goes out and very quickly a town descends into anarchy as the supplies run out : (didn’t we have a whole TV series about that called “Revolution”.) it’s directed by Louis Mandylor.

Now in the planning stages, a new film by Alexander Payne to star Matt Damon: Downsizing.

A man realises he would have a better life … if he shrunk himself. I gather this is supposed to be some kind of satire.

We mentioned Hangar 10 back in Grunt (163). (You remember, British movie, three guys with metal detectors in an alien encounter,) Now there is a review. It’s not good.

Apparently it is long meandering and embodies all of the vices of found footage movies.

The Iron Sky sequel “The Coming Race” now has trailer. You may have thought director Timo Vuorensola was kidding when he promised “Hitler riding a dinosaur in the centre of the earth.”

He wasn’t, oh God, he wasn’t.

The last place I expected to see progress was on Day Men, the vampire comic adaptation from Boom! Studios (wouldn’t you want punctuation in the middle of your name too?) But here we are, Sylvain White is set to direct and Will Simmons is to write the screenplay.

The first review of Robot Overlords is out and the word is mixed. It is said to be pacy but the FX are cheap. We’ll wait for more reviews.

UK release is scheduled for March 19th 2015.

You remember those innocent days? When we could make films like The Thief of Baghdad and not have it be a documentary about George W Bush? When we could make and Arabian Adventure and it would not star a single Navy SEAL? Since those times many have tried to make jolly movies about Middle Eastern fantasy and all have failed.

The latest attempt does not even try very hard; Shawn “Real Steel” Levy is talking about Forty Thieves, a very loose remake of “Ali Baba and the 40 Thieves”. How loose? Well the hero’s name is now named “Allan”. Hme.

No screenwriter or star have been announced (maybe they are shy…)

Park Chan-Wook (Thirst Oldboy) is set to direct a science fiction feature: Second Born. In the future implanted neural chips are used to store human consciousness. A by-product of this is the possibility of body swapping leading to a black market.

Cool. It is brimming with possibility.

Screenplay is by David Jagernauth.

Definitely one to keep an eye on.

Here is something different.

Thirty three years after its debut Blade Runner will get another cinematic release.

It’s true. It will get a wide UK release in its Final Cut from April 3 2015.

I have seen Blade Runner under all sorts of conditions and I have to admit, the better the screen, the better the film; so I can only applaud that an audience can see the best possible version in the most ideal circumstances.

The reboot is dead, the re-release rules.



Hmme, I don’t know, I have to apologise in advance, this review is going to be incoherent, not because of the film; Interstellar’s plot is perfectly well constructed. It’s because… well there are at least a couple of stories in one here, a lot of ideas. And it is impossible to go into detail without dropping spoilers (I hate it when reviewers say that…) Let’s see what we can do.

The earth is dusty, dry and starving, multiple blights have hit food production and the world is essentially dying.

Ex-astronaut Coop discovers a secret NASA project to search a distant galaxy for habitable worlds for the remainder of earth’s population. From there we have two stories; one is the relationship between Coop and his daughter, closeness, estrangement and reconciliation. The other is man’s urge to explore and reach beyond himself. It is the greatest adventure of the all; the journey beyond earth.

Now Nolan takes his time developing both stories, it is a while before we even leave the earth, but despite the leisurely pace he gives us lots to keep us interested, it’s masterfully shot and the steadily increasing feeling of scale engages our sense of wonder.

Other reviews have pointed out how much this feels like other films, and there are a few of them out there: Gravity, 2001: A Space Odyssey.

In fact, like Ridley Scott (in Prometheus) Nolan seems to have a rivalry going on with 1960s Stanley Kubrik.

There is a lot of cool stuff in here I cannot even talk about like Mat Damon’s performance which is straight out of Apocalypse Now in that… well I can’t say, but I can say his role is analogous to one in 2001 which is to say.. Well I can’t tell you. I can tell you he appears late but it isn’t wasted.

Anne Hathaway channels Jodie Foster (Jodie Foster in Contact) Matthew McConaughey is incomprehensible with his heavy southern accent.

There are great silent space sequences.

Ah the thing I was worried about (obviously not an issue) did Nolan stray too deeply into Spielberg territory? Interstellar was originally a Spielberg projects and you can feel some that DNA still in there with the earth scenes which have that Close Encounters feel, and the interaction between father and daughter that feel like M Night Shaylaman doing Spielberg. However it does not come off as second rate or corny.

Is it too long? I don’t think so, the pacing makes it work. There are some plot holes in here but nothing that ruins the experience, and Nolan has made a brave attempt to get the science right but it is not quite there. Some of the more radical ideas could have been set up more solidly and may frustrate an audience who are encountering them for the first time.

It is not perfect, and I have to admit, Inception is still a superior film.

There are ideas in here, physics ideas, cosmology ideas, mathematical ideas, even extropian ideas (which we cannot talk about) but they are balanced by a human story, a story of fathers and daughters of promises made which are really hard to keep and how that human tether will reach across the stars themselves to re-establish itself.

(Thank god, I was worrying I’d never find a way to finish this review!)

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 (164)

4 Nov

The information age isn’t finished with us.

Publicity is rolling out for Ex Machina. There have been features in newspapers even though the UK release date is in January 2015.
The Trailer is out and you can have look over at Quiet Earth.

Plans for Mamoru Oshii’s Live-Action Patlabor are right on schedule; the seven-part TV series is in progress and the feature, is scheduled for a Japanese release in spring 2015.
It was heavily promoted at the Tokyo Film Festival where a 10-feet tall robot figure graced the Roppongi Hills venue.

Dark Horse Entertainment is the … well dark horse of comic book movies. They are not celebrated but a fair number of their projects have made it onto the screen.
Latest proposed one is Polar, based on the comic Polar: Came from the Cold, from Victor Santos.
The comic is about Black Kaiser, an ex cold warrior who is forced to take down the organisation of killers he once belonged to (hme., sounds like R.E.D)
Spec screenplay is by Jayson Rothwell and Constantin Film are co- producing. No director or star has been announced yet.

I’m not a fan of Steve Carell and Charlie Kaufman has not impressed me since his wonderful Being John Malkovich, however I feel obliged to tell you the pair is getting together to make IQ 83 : a genius professor has a lab accident and finds his intelligence gradually slipping away.
It’s based on a novel by Arthur Herzog and should be a change from movies where the heroes become super-geniuses (you know what I mean.)
Again no director or shooting date announced.

I should be more blasé, but the trailer for Avengers: Age of Ultron emerged last week and my pants exploded. I don’t know why but even this late in the Game Marvel Studios have the power to excite (ooh that Hulk Buster!)

Well we promised to followup on Jonathan King’s feature REALITi, so I suppose
we have to do this. A single review has emerged and it is not positive.
There are interesting things about it; it’s ultra low budget, the director has chosen to use the style of the French new wave: Alphaville, La Jetee etc.
It even eschewed special effects.
However the reviewer was not impressed: the acting was stilted, the plotting unexciting. The film apparently was weird but not good.

Hopefully more reviews will give us a rounded view, I’d like original SF to succeed.

The Robopocalypse movie once thought deader than western democracy * is apparently still hanging on.
Author, Daniel H Wilson is insisting that the project is still in the queue for Steven Spielberg’s attention.
If so, it is a mighty long queue it will not be next and Spielberg is not getting any younger…..

Appleseed Alpha is here, it’s on disk, it’s cheap and has a shedload of extras.

Also out on disk (but not quite as celebrated) is Noel Clarke’s The Anomaly, I missed it at the cinema, so I should give it a try here. Unlike Appleseed this DVD is going bare, which is a pity because reviews are as ungenerous.

Rumours suggest that Benedict Cumberbatch will be the next Dr Strange. Hme. Me I think the choice is conservative. In the past Marvel Studios have had some brave casting: Robert Downey Jr. as Iron Man, Chris Evans as Captain America, Chris Pratt as Peter Quill.
These were dangerous choices and each was questioned before proving themselves at the box office.
Benedict Cumberbatch sounds like the safe option; he’s the star of a hit British drama, the major villain in a big science fiction franchise and whenever other franchises are mentioned (i.e. Star Wars) his name keeps coming up.
Marvel used to be the plucky little studio who could, the one who made edgy choices because they had nothing to lose and everything to gain. Going with the obvious sounds like a sign of an ageing corporation, afraid of doing the wrong thing.

OK, the word is coming through on Marvel Studio’s slate all up to 2017.
The blogosphere is getting excited about Ms Marvel and The Black Panther…hme being that there has been buzz about these two for months, it seems like a safe, I notice something more typically Marvel Studios: Inhumans, nominally a risky property but I think I know what they are doing. Having lost control over the X-men, Marvel is looking for something with the same appeal and the Inhumans with the factor of being hidden superbeings among humankind may be the ticket.
Overall Marvel has a heavy slate: nine films over three years. Getting there depends of delivering time and time again, and the film market staying buoyant.
So let’s take a risk here: I am predicting the imminent demise of the comic book movie, Right now it riding higher than ever, which means it is ready for a fall, and I predict, even if DC suffer badly with Batman Vs. Superman and Justice League, Marvel will lead the great decline with at least one, unexpected flop.

We haven’t mentioned Interstellar much, there is a good reason for that we’re going to see it anyway.
Just try and stop us. It’s from the director of The Dark Knight and Inception.
Well now it is upon us and reviews are positive.
It’s a big ambitious film as much about fathers and daughters as interstellar exploration. In an age when science fiction is mostly used as a backdrop this is distinct change and worth a look.

Amidst all of the Marvel madness you may have missed word of The Last Scout,
directed by Simon Phillips; there has been a nuclear war and earth is basically boned, The remnants of humanity are packed in a spaceship searching for a new place to settle.
The good news is that it has been shot, it is all in the can and has a UK release for February 2015.

Keanu Reeves is returning to science fiction with Replicas. Reeves plays a neuroscientist whose family has been killed in a car accident, but that’s no good for him: he’s bringing them back.
Tanya Wexler is directing. Chad St. John wrote the script.

*Hey, everyone gets it from us.

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