Archive | December, 2015

Grunting at the Screen (194)

29 Dec

The information age isn’t finished with us.

Here is something that slipped my notice: Blue World Order, a science fiction film in production in Australia. It stars Billy Zane and Jack Thompson and has a release date in early 2016

Directors are Ché Baker, Dallas Bland

In the wake of global thermonuclear war a new government has arisen: the Order. Under the guise of a vaccination against pandemic, the Order has spread a bio-tech virus to control the population. One man is immune to the Order’s Virus; his daughter will be the key to survival of mankind.

We will check out reviews when they appear.

Cyberpunk Special: Winter.
We had so much success with the autumn special that we are going quarterly again.
Blade Runner 2 is still scheduled to shoot in summer 2016.

Duncan Jones’ Mute has been casting. The clock is ticking on whether it can shoot before the release of Warcraft.

You know, it seems Mute and Blade Runner 2 are a little bit in a race to start first. Mute is kicking it old-school with a look very much like the original Blade Runner. As for the Blade Runner sequel, no-one knows what the plan is: will it meticulously recreate the original look (impractical, and in my mind incredibly expensive), or will it risk the fan’s ire by updating everything? Who knows? If Mute starts first it will finish way before BR2, it is a small production that needs to be done before Warcraft opens. If BR2 starts first, even if it finishes last it may well overshadow the smaller production…

Thinking about it there is a way to avoid the long shadow of Ridley Scott’s classic, without falling through the cracks. Rumour has surfaced that BR2 is using the abandoned opening from the 1982 film. It starts out in the country.
Work with me here: what if the whole movie is out in the country? It avoids the challenge of meeting the visual achievement of Blade Runner (1) while staying true to the history of the project. So, no megalithic vistas traversed by rising spinners, no wending through the throngs of a future metropolis, yet it is the same future.

Ghost in the Shell has a new screenwriter. Casting continues, they have added Pilou Asbæk as the male lead (film blogs are calling him “Batou,” but I suspect all of the names will be changed from the Manga originals.)
It is scheduled to open on March 31, 2017.

Nerverackers is likely dead. There has been no announcement but since Robert Rodriguez is now involved with Battle Angel Alita he has that large scale SF/Fantasy project he has wanted for years and Nerverackers has become surplus to demand.
Talking of Battle Angel Alita, neither Robert Rodriguez nor Cameron are calling it “Cyberpunk”, but everyone else is. If it is, it is more Cyberpunk in the vein of Terminator than Neuromancer.
So how do we feel about it? It is full of potential. Rodriguez is strong on action and entertainment, not so much on story, but with Cameron in his corner he should be able to produce the same miracle he pulled off with the Sin City movies. Rodriguez is used to operating in the low-to mid-budget region, Battle Angel Alita may propel him into the big leagues (especially if it is marketed as “James Cameron Presents..”) Is Rodriguez up to it? I can’t even guess; what I know is that that the Manga presents the possibility of some iconic imagery.
The caveat is that many of the story elements have already been seen at the cinema.

Ah, Neuromancer. No movement at all; since GFM acquired the property in May 2015 there has been no announcement of a release date, a starting date for principle photography, a director or even a screenwriter. So far as the public are concerned the project has once again ground to a halt.
This is curious. The last project foundered under legal problems and questions of casting. With the acquisition, these problems were left behind. So what is the hold up?
Producer Steven Hoban Claims that too many of Neuromancer’s elements have been used by others.
Perhaps GFM are only now coming to the same conclusion (remember, film executives can’t read..) If so, prospects are poor and GFM’s best bet is to play pass the parcel with this particular IP.

And what happened to Rian Johnson’s unnamed “cyberpunk” project. I have to feign interest here, I really did not like Looper. Oh yes Johnson is up to his neck in that Star Wars sequel off, I am not even sure which one- no, wait it’s Star Wars Episode 8- You will not see him come up for air for years.

Producer Adrian Askarieh claimed he had a big announcement for Deus Ex, that was back in June.
What we know is that Scott Derrickson is out and no new director has been announced. The project was previously at CBs Films but they have let it go.
Askarieh was hoping to set it up with another company.
Since we are still waiting to hear about the new deal I am assuming it all fell through.

There is also no word on any of Laeta Kalogridiss’ many projects (Oh yes, they are re-writing her Ghost in the Shell script… and as above Robert Rodriguez is making Battle Angel Alita.)
So we are still waiting to hear word on Altered Carbon and Technotise Edit and I.
(Technotise is especially at risk as its producer is Scott Glassgold, who also failed to bring a whole raft of short-films-to-feature projects to the big screen.)

Both are hard sells; complex science fiction stories packed with ideas. But it might be worthwhile not dumbing down a story for a change.

Thinking about Altered Carbon, it is looking more and more unlikely because of the surfeit of body-swap movies: recently we have had Selfless and The Anomaly and coming up is Second Born, Park Chan-Wook’s SF project. What is worst is that by and large these Body-Swap features have not performed.

Am I getting tired of these “No News” items? Hell no! Also without word is Darren Aronofsky production of Nexus. No surprise, Aronofsky takes a leisurely approach to production timetables.
I have now read Ramez Naam’s entire trilogy and it is smoking hot.
It is not marketed as “cyberpunk”, (heck, it is not even marketed at Science Fiction) but it has all of the hallmarks: information society, technology linked with the human body, an information underground. It is throbbing with potential.

It has also been quiet on the matter of True Skin. There have been other Cyberpunk styled short films picked up for feature development, this one seemed both story oriented and visually inventive. The director Stephan Zlotescu is attempting to independently develop the feature, but prospects do not look good.

This brings to mind the most highly skilled of the indie short-film directors working in the cyberpunk medium; Miguel de Olaso, aka Macgregor. He directed and co-directed the gorgeous shorts KOR-3 and Similo. He was also linked to Law Zero with Bruno Zacarias. Despite rumours and hints that he might be about to make his first feature, nothing has emerged.

2015 End of Year Roundup

2015 was no 2013, but I guess you know that. To many other fans, this will have been an annus mirabilis.
Jurassic World, Terminator Genysis, Hitman: Agent 47, Man From U.N.C.L.E., Fantastic Four, The Force Awakens, a year of reboots and sequels that has delighted the majority of Science Fiction fans who dearly wished to see more of the same.
But who cares about their annus?

On the other hand the films I saw were pretty good.
Ex Machina was a truly intelligent piece of Science Fiction in the traditional sense.

Jupiter Ascending was an underrated epic.

Crimson Peak was an unexpected delight.

And both Marvel movies were entertaining and watchable.

It could have been worse.

My Top Five this year:
Ex Machina
Jupiter Ascending
Mad Max: Fury Road
The Martian
Crimson Peak

Chappie was another delirious entry in a sequence of fresh, new, and risky science fiction ventures by Neil Blomkamp.

And let’s not diminish how I feel about Avengers: Age of Ultron, I liked it.

I’d like to say something about Fury Road: a combined sequel and reboot and one of the finest films of the year. Certainly the finest entry of the Mad Max series, a glorious comeback for George Miller, and most of all proof that not every reboot is rubbish.

Mad Max: Fury Road challenges the notion that a reboot has to be a soulless exploitation of the fans, it raises the bar on our exceptions of our favourite titles.

As I look forward I am concerned for the future of genre film. Oh, horror will stay strong, it seems invincible, but Science Fiction is vulnerable to a stubborn attitude in the audience which is biased towards titles with a known name.
It certainly is possible to produced fresh, vibrant cinema from well-warn beginnings, but the likelihood tends to the extremes of tired retread on one hand, and bizarre misinterpretation on the other.
I hate to take pleasure in other people’s failure, but perhaps a little schadenfreude is appropriate here.* There has been some light in the tunnel lately. Light signalled by the crashing of Fantastic Four and the desultory performance of Terminator Genysis; the reboot and sequel route is no longer a sure-fire formula for success.
Of course this does not mean they will stop making them, but it will give them enough pause to consider making original films. Especially when original films like The Martian make good money.

However, I expect a couple more dark years before they finally get the point.
2016 is a case in point; it will be another year of reboots and sequels. Let me make a wild swing here, not all of them will be of the high quality of Fury Road.
The number of originals is down. but they are still out there. And I hope to see some of them.

* Learned that word from the Simpsons.

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

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 (193)

17 Dec

The information age isn’t finished with us.

I made note of the lack of marketing for Gods of Egypt; well the trailer has arrived, and boy it is a doozy.
It has attracted criticism, but I kind of like it.
And here is another one:

To be honest I think Alex Proyas recycled the concept art he commissioned for Paradise Lost. Take a look and see.

I figure it will do the same kind of business as Jupiter Ascending.

My attention was drawn to the feature film Criminal because it shared its name with a graphic novel series by Ed Brubaker. It is no relation although the plot could well come from a (different) Brubaker comic; an ex-con is implanted with the memories of a CIA agent so he can complete the mission.
It stars Kevin Costner, Gary Oldman and Tommy Lee Jones and is directed by Ariel Vromen.
Criminal opens April 15, 2016.

Attack on Titan had a UK cinema release; it opened on December 1 for a limited release.

Brad Pitt’s company Plan B is set to adapt Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff’s, YA SF novel Illuminae.
It seems to have a bunch of elements; aliens, artificial intelligence, a virus and more.
No word on screenwriter or director yet.

Riddick. Is. Back

Vin Diesel has announced that Riddick 4: Furya, is being developed by director David Twohy. He also announced a spin-off TV series Merc City.
We have some detail on the TV series: it will be made by Diesel’s production company, One Race, The deal is with Universal Television, it is likely it will be screened on one of the NBC channels.
We also understand the Feature Film will delve into Riddick’s origin. It is due to shoot in early 2017.

Reviews are coming in for Max Landis’ Victor Frankenstein. They are mixed. Very mixed. Opinions vary from “silly” to; a fresh and very watchable film.

The short film “Uncanny Valley” by Federico Heller is the latest candidate for development as a feature.
It has been snapped up by Scott Glassgold and he is looking for a major industry partner.
Script is being developed by Carter Blanchard: in the near future the slums are plagued by virtual reality addict who earn their meagre wages from playing games all day.
Unusually, I have watched the short all the way through,..

..and you know, not only does it have a story, it has politics as well. It has been compared to the films of Neill Blomkamp, and I understand why. It well deserves a feature.

We are hearing about a new Japanese movie called Dual City by Yokna Hasegawa: it is 2034 and Japan has been divided into North and South. A nurse, Yoriko loses her daughter in the conflict, later she is abducted by southern guerrillas and discovers her daughter survives as a form of “information life”.
It has been to some festivals but so far there are no reviews or release dates.
More news as it develops.

We heard there is progress in the adaptation of Alfred Bester’s Science Fiction classic The Stars My Destination. David DiGilio has been hired to write the screenplay. I am not convinced. This project has been going forever and the only think that will convince me of its reality is an actual start date

We are hearing that Ben Wheatley’s “High-Rise,” will get distribution. Magnet Releasing just bought the rights.
It will be a hard sell because when it premiered at Toronto 30 people walked out because of the extreme imagery.
Here’s a trailer:

Looks like they are going to take another run at Gormenghast and Neil Gaiman will be writing it.
Gormenghast was previously adapted for TV in the UK, but his one will be a feature film production. It is kind of up in the air: Gaiman is shopping for a studio so details such as; director, star and schedule are way in the future.

Ah, you won’t remember Shockwave Darkside, despite the fact that I mentioned it five or six times (it was six).
It is an Indie Science Fiction feature I always referred to it at the “War on the Moon” movie.
The earth has been poisoned by a nano-plague, there is a mining operation on the moon, it is the last great resource, it is also the site of the last great resource war.
The Director is Jay Weisman and this is a true handmade film: the FX were constructed on a MacBook.
What has changed is that it has reached VOD distribution. You can stream it from January 5.

Get the heck out. Is this some kind of gag? Sadako vs. Kayako. Take the villain from Ringu and the one from the Grudge and put them in the same movie.
Do we have some Frankenstein Vs. Wolfman action? Who knows.
Director is Shiraishi Koji and due for a June 2016 release.

Indonesian Superhero movie! Jagoan Instan. Young man is injected with experimental drug, gets superpowers. Like you do. Fajar Bustomi is the director more news as it develops.

Synchronicity, that time travel movie, has a US release date. It is January 22, 2016.
Yep, Trailer:

Hey, there is something, Hasbro is planning its own cinematic universe. It already had GI Joe on film, joining it will be M.A.S.K., Micronauts, Visionairies, and ROM: Spaceknight. Damn! It could work…

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

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