Archive | September, 2015

Grunting at the Screen (188)

26 Sep


The information age isn’t finished with us.

Crimson Peak opens on 16th October. Hme, I supposed I’d better go, it’s Guillermo del Toro after all. Thing is. Well the way I see it Crimson Peak is del Toro’s stab at doing one his Spanish languish features, only in English. What do I mean? well he’s known for these high quality arty features “Devils Backbone, Pan’s Labyrinth ” etc. and they are well thought of, his Spanish Language movies get the critical approval, his English Language ones make the money. So Crimson Peak looks like a bit of a cross over. He describes it as a gothic movie, sounds like some MR James kind of thing. But I don’t wanna see a gothic movie.
But it’s Guillermo del Toro, he gave us Blade II and Pacific Rim, so I’d better go.

We mentioned wuxia feature Monster Hunt back in Grunt (183). Well it has had a Chinese release and done rather well, it has made $381m at the box office and become the biggest Chinese hit ever.
Not too bad. No word on a western release yet.

When I heard Toyota was promoting a film called Reversion, I paused. I went back, had a dig around and found out I was not mistaken.
It is in fact a feature, and it looks interesting; Sophie works for company that produces a gadget called the Oubli, it allows the use to experience their fondest memories as if for the first time, on the day of the Oubli launch, Sophie is kidnapped and she finds there is more than she expects to her memories.

Hme, a near-future cognitive tech thing? Sounds like it is full of potential.
Director is José Nestor Marquez.
Although I cannot imagine why a Car maker wants to promote it (Other than to show case its products, which it does…)

It premieres on September 29, there is an LA release from October 9, with a wider national release to follow.

I know what Ridley is Doing (and it scared me)

Actually it scares me that I’ve been watching Ridley Scott films and thinking about them so long I can discern his motivations.

He’s securing his legacy.

I have been thinking that for maybe a year or so, but it has been confirmed in an Interview he did with Deadline.
http://deadline.com/2015/09/ridley-scott-the-martian-star-wars-2001-alien-blade-runner-prometheus-toronto-film-festival-1201522484/
When I first saw Prometheus I saw what he was doing; I realised he had been unsatisfied with Alien and wanted to make a Science Fiction film that tackled the big issues : Who we are and where did we come from. He wanted to do something on the order of Kubrick’s 2001. In the Deadline interview he talks about 2001, his love for Kubrick and returning to the universe of Prometheus.

When I saw Exodus I saw he wanted to make his definitive statement on the Biblical Epic. And in the process to say something about the relationship between man and god.

When I saw he signed on for The Cartel I said, he want to make the definitive Gangster epic (I have read it, it is the material for a true modern Gangster epic). And what does Scott compare it to in his Deadline interview? The Godfather.

It is clear. Ridley Scott’s last films will be his effort to make his mark on cinema… no compromise.

Coda
OK, I thought I knew what Ridley was doing; I am not commenting on the news story that there may be a Prometheus 3 and 4. It is way too early to know if even 2 will come off.
News is coming thick and fast for Prometheus 2. We now hear its official title will be “Alien Paradise”, and announcement which has get everyone saying: “huh!”
Ridley Scott has said repeatedly that he wants to put clear distance between the alien series and the Prometheus films. All I can imagine is the sequel has been named by the Marketing team.

Straight-to-disk Science Fiction continues to leak onto the supermarket shelves. The current microtend is the UFO phenomenon.
There have been a couple titles: “The Phoenix Incident” and “Dominion”
The Phoenix Incident is ‘based on true events’ (my least favourite flavour); a group of friends go mission on the night of a UFO sighting. Starburst has a review here.
http://www.starburstmagazine.com/reviews/dvd-and-blu-ray-home-entertainment-reviews/12441-phoenix-incident
Aliens have discovered earth and are planning to attack, a retired intelligence agent turned UFO investigator has five days to uncover the truth before the invasion is launched.
I cannot find a review for this one (as ominous a sign as any.)

Also on the supermarket shelves is Starship Apocalypse, not hugely well reviewed, but why should it be, it is the sequel to the similarly reviewed Starship Rising (Grunt 171.)

Reviews for Equals are emerging, although my initial impression of the film was that it resembled Equilibrium (one of my favourite low budget SF movies). The reviewers are suggesting it is more like a cross between THX-1138 and Logan’s Run (how very seventies).
The basic plot is of a future where emotions have been removed from the human psyche. Of course this only partially works and some are confronted with the rude return of their feelings.

Reviews for ‘The Mind’s Eye’ are coming through. The Mind’s Eye is an 80’s styled psychic-battle thriller. Word is pretty good; it very accurately reproduces the feel of 80s straight to video genre film and feels very much like a Cronenberg or De Palma film of the era.
No word on a release as yet.

It seems that Kickstarter funded British science fiction movie Narcopolis is an actual thing, in fact it attracted an article in the London Evening Standard.

http://www.standard.co.uk/showbiz/celebrity-news/london-filmmaker-justin-trefgarne-gets-20000-from-fans-to-help-kickstart-debut-sci-fi-film-a2950851.html

It sounds a bit complicated. It takes place in two future eras, flicking back and forth between the 2020’s and 2040’s. A cop discovers a body with half a head and goes on the hunt for a new super narcotic.

Reviews have been less than generous with it, though they say it is visually interesting.
http://www.theguardian.com/film/2015/sep/24/narcopolis-review-justin-trefgarne
It will get a limited cinematic release from September 25.

Also getting a limited release will be Shane Abbess’ Infini.
How limited? Well I hear a cinema in Edinburg, might show it, but I have no confirmation.
Which is neither here nor there because the DVD is here, on supermarket shelves (No extras of course).
Reviews have been mixed but it is clear we are dealing with an old-school SF-Horror piece in the Alien/Event Horizon mould.

Richard Stanley is returning to the world of H. P. Lovecraft with a feature adaptation of The Color out of Space.
He last explored this territory with his Mother of Toads segment from the Theatre Bizarre anthology film (based on Clark Ashton Smith’s Lovecraftean short story).
SpectreVision is producing and principle photography is scheduled for spring 2016.

The wave is gathering under Chinese Science Fiction.
First up we hear there will be an Australian-Chinese co-production called Nest; a scientist looking for the discovery of the century (?) first has to
survive a cave full of carnivorous spiders. Not immediately appealing but the production is engaging a top FX studio so there may be more than meets the eye.
Kimble Rendall is to direct.

Already in the can is Chronicles of the Ghostly Tribe. A soldier discovered fossils in the Chinese mountains, what he finds next is neither fossilised nor dead. Director Lu Chuan and the feature gets its cinematic opening in China on September 30th.

China is also attempting to crack the English language market with Lost in the Pacific, a giant airliner is forced to crash land on a pacific island, but the passengers find the crash is no accident. (What? A Chinese version of Lost?)

And by the way, it is in 3D. Brandon Routh stars.

Finally we hear Warner Bros. is investing heavily in Chinese language films. They just made a deal with China Media Capital. No titles have been announced yet.

And if you want some real movie news you know what to do.
http://www.darkhorizons.com/

And if you want to walk the wild side of genre video try Starburst’s review section
http://www.starburstmagazine.com/reviews/DVD-and-blu-ray-home-entertainment-reviews

I’m Jack Eris and if you know me, you know Jack.

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Grunting at the Screen (187)

14 Sep

The information age isn’t finished with us.

The video game Mega Man has been bought by 20th Century Fox for adaptation as a feature, no writer or director has been announced.

It is film festival season. I demurred on Frightfest, so didn’t see Turbokid (Well, why should I when I’ve already seen Mad Max: Fury Road?). But up ahead are Raindance and The London Film Festival.

First up the London Film Festival (kicks off October) is screening Ben Wheatley’s High Rise. This should be interesting. Wheatley has impressed (other writers) with a string of dark features starting with Kill List. I haven’t seen anything of his, so it will be instructive to see what he does with a classic JG Ballard novel.

Raindance also has something special; Shinya Tsukamoto’s Fires on the Plain, one of his rare adaptations, and also a period film, based on a novel by Ooka Shohei, it is about the last days of the Japanese army on the Philippine island of Leyte, as the US forces close in, from the Japanese point of view.

There have been good things said about this; I suspect it will be a very different film from Tsukamoto.

Light at the end? I was reading Screen International (yes, I read industry papers…sometimes) when they noted that several sequels and reboots this year had done especially badly. They said “there is nothing such as a sure thing”. So are we looking at light at the end of the tunnel? The Glimmer that next year will have less rehash and more original cinema? Well not necessarily, they also point out tentpole original films like Tomorrowland also crashed and burned.

There is no sure thing.

I think there is still

We hadn’t been tracking Momentum, and no wonder, everyone thought it was an action film:

Olga Kurylenko is an infiltration expert with a secret past, she finds herself in a cat and mouse chase with a master assassin.

It is directed by Stephen Campanelli.
But io9 website alerted us that apparently there is a science fiction element.

They largely mention some futuristic gadgets, so whether it is sci fi or spy fi, it may be worth keeping one eye out for.

It opens in the US on October 16.

Now we previously mentioned Listening back in Grunt (183); Khalil Sullins feature about the development of electronic telepathy.

Well we’ve seen some reviews now.
They are comparing it to Inception.
In fact they call it a kind of “mini block buster”. Low in budget but high in ambition.

The basic plot is that two college researchers develop a device that can read minds, no sooner than that, the CIA jump on it and try to develop it for “National Security”

What we are hearing is that the plot moves quickly but more than that, ideas just keep coming.

I’m quite stoked. In my mind it could … the next Chronicle.

I’m just saying!

Listening has a limited US release from September 11.

I have been discovering all sorts of Science Fiction movie this week; some of them actually new, some which have been around but unnoticed, like the British feature The Call Up. We are in Ernie Cline territory here.

An elite team of gamers test a VR combat game, but then it turns horrible and violently real and they are fighting for their lives. (Don’t tell Stephen Spielberg!)

From Denmark we have Fang Rung; the seas have risen and Copenhagen is under water. “Fang Rung” the head of intelligence undergoes molecular fission (!) one half of him goes back in time (!) to obtain the secret of turning sea-water into freshwater (!!) Contact between his halves are broken so Fang Rung struggles to reintegrate himself and get the precious technology home. It sounds utterly bonkers (and a little like 12 Monkeys).

Now we don’t have release dates for either of these, although they are definitely “in the can” so to speak.

On top of these have been deals for new science fiction features, starting with Neil Marshall and his revenge movie “The Sentence”, Marshal is a favourite director of mine, his SF is usually tinged with horror, although of late he has been known for directing the more ambitious episodes of Game of Thrones. There are no details as of yet except it will definitely be set in the future.

We have some details on French director Claire Denis’ untitled space movie. Robert Pattinson is rumoured to have been cast in the lead as an astronaut and the scenario is of a future “that seem like the present” (Hmme…)

There is still no title but it will be shot in Germany late 2015 to early 2016.

We have an update on Out of This World, the Peter Chelsom feature we reported on in Grunt (158). Just about everything about it has been changed, it is now called, The Space Between Us and is focused on the only line relationship between a boy born on Mars and a girl in Colorado.

It is being pegged as an “Intergalactic romance” (Yeah.. someone needs to explain that one to me…)

And we don’t know if he has a deal yet but Argentinean director Damian Szifron is planning an epic Science Fiction quartet (yes, quartet) called The Foreigner; there are very few details, an in Buenos Aires is investigated by the CIA. So that could go anywhere, and in four films it’s likely that is exactly where it is going.

Shows how much I know.

In the wake of the less than stellar performance of both Edge of Tomorrow and Oblivion you might think Tom Cruise had finished with Science Fiction.

Wrong.

He is planning yet another assault on the greatest genre, and this time he has reteamed with accomplice from Edge of Tomorrow; Doug Liman. This is really asking for trouble.

Personally I quite enjoyed Edge of Tomorrow (aside from the cop-out ending) but I was in the minority.

Anyway, the current project is Luna Park which Liman has been working on for a while; a group of renegade scientist build a craft to go to the moon and nab an energy source.

Meanwhile Gullermo del Toro is hinting at a new project “Wall-E meets Splash”, but hints are all we are getting.

And this one sounds the business: Emergence. A mining crew on a distant moon fight for their lives as they face down a rogue terraforming organism that is destroying everything in its path. Now that is plot.

Now there have been a number of proposed film projects with the name Emergence. This isn’t any of them; it is co-written by written by Rowan O’Neill and Jonathan auf der Heide and the director is Andre “Troll Hunter” Ovredal.

As of yet we have no date for production to begin.

What’s Ridley Doing?

Well he’s putting his producing hat back on and sheparding some other people’s movies to the screen

He’s started a new label called “Ridley Scott Presents…” and its first product is Olatunde Osunsanmi’s “The Twisted”: Children in a mountain located orphanage are displaying bizarre behaviour, a child-psychologist and a parapsychologist (with camera crew) try to get to the bottom of it, but things get dangerous.

Hme; kids, isolation and cameras. Sound like “Ridley Scott Presents…” is going down the Blumhouse route.

The Martian is approaching. We have  British release date for 30th September.

Reviews are coming in and the general verdict is good, very good, (they are some dissenters but who cares what the Guardian feels about genre film?)

I am hearing stuff I have never heard about a Ridley Scott film, like, it is funny.

And if you want some real movie news you know what to do.

http://www.darkhorizons.com/

And if you want to walk the wild side of genre video try Starburst’s review section

http://www.starburstmagazine.com/reviews/DVD-and-blu-ray-home-entertainment-reviews

I’m Jack Eris and if you know me, you know Jack.