Archive | January, 2016

Grunting at the Screen (196)

30 Jan

The information age isn’t finished with us.

The DVD for Air has appeared. Its producer is Robert “The Walking Dead” Kirkman.
In a post collapse world, the remainder of humanity is stored in hibernation: two custodians wake up every three months to do maintenance, but on this occasion one of the custodians’ hibernation pods breaks leaving two men, one pod and just two hours of breathable air.
The reviews are running the gamut, from wildly enthusiastic to mildly derisive. Sounds interesting

And so to The Killer Robots! Crash and Burn. It seems the link between the music and film worlds is becoming stronger. Latest entry is… well those Robots. It is a project of the titular rock band The Killer Robots who have an unaccountable fascination with Canadian film collective Astron 6’s Manbourg.
Take a look at the trailer…

The restoring effects of Grunting’s Cyberpunk Specials are once again in evidence. Just back in Grunting (194) we said there was not much progress anywhere, and in true cussed style the universe has replied with some news
Richard K. Morgan’s Altered Carbon has just been bought by Netflix for a ten-episode series.

Even the author would not call it Cyberpunk, adamantly. That has not stopped the massed blogosphere.
What Altered Carbon is, is a mid-future science fiction hardboiled novel, and a great one at that, fast-moving, cynical and packed with ideas; Takeshi Kovacs comes to Earth to investigate a murder, his client is the victim because death just isn’t what it used to be. A future where people can move from body to body, the rich are essentially immortal, crime is bizarre and often spectacular.

We are very excited, Netflix is rivalling HBO as the place to go for fresh television. I cautiously hope it will be something special, after all it will not lack for expertise: Laeta Kalogridis is the writer and showrunner. She has developed the live action “Technotise Edit and I” and Ghost in the Shell. She has as much experience in the area as anyone.

Also coming from Netflix is Arq, a feature film.
This is a hybrid: kind of Post Holocaust meets Time loop.
It is the future and the oil has run out. An engineer has discovered a technology that can power the world and restore civilisation, but he faces two problems; a gang of black-clad strangers trying to gain access to the lab, and the side effect of the machine: it throws time into a loop.
Director is Tony Elliott, look for it in 2017

And the news just piles up. Blade Runner 2 has been scheduled; it is to film in July 2016, Denis Villeneuve is still the director, Ridley Scott is producing. No word on a release date.

There was also some confusion about the Ghost in the Shell Live action adaptation. First they said it had been cancelled then not, it got chaotic.
Here is what we know: Dreamworks is the production company, they recently dropped out of their distribution deal with Disney. This caused Disney to drop Ghost in the Shell from its release schedule.
However Dreamworks has a new distribution deal with Paramount Pictures, and they say Ghost in the Shell is still on and it will start shooting in the spring and keep its original release date of March 31, 2017.

All we need now is a shooting date for Duncan Jones’ Mute and this will make 2017 the most cyberpunk year since the 90s…

Doh! Just jinxed it!

We mentioned The Call Up back in Grunt (163). Quiet Earth are calling it “cyberpunk”, I’m not so sure, it has Virtual Reality, but that says little. Anyway, there is a trailer now, so you can decide for yourself.

We are hearing about Director: Matt Johnson’s feature Operation Avalanche, exploring CIA’s involvement in the space race. Being intellectually lazy, we’ve decided this slots in with the recent films that sound like Gravity.
Operation Avalanche debuted at Sundance. It seems it is one of those documentary style feature films. The CIA put agents inside of NASA, they discover the agency is unable to put a man on the moon so he CIA decided to fake the moon landings instead.
Sounds bizarre.

Joseph Kosinsk has settled on his next project. He previously made Tron: Legacy and Oblivion but his latest strays from the Science Fiction line, it is No Exit, an adaptation of the true story of the Yarnell Hill Fire in 2013 which was fought by the Prescott Arizona Fire Department.
Ken Nolan is writing it but there is no schedule yet.

Here is a reminder that you should never regard any career down for the count.
Back in Grunt (185) we mentioned that Sam (Avatar) Worthington was angling to make The Titan, a science fiction feature.
We didn’t think it very likely, but there has been progress. There is a teaser poster, it is in pre-production and set to shoot this year.
And the story sound fresh and exciting; Worthington plays an air force pilot subjected to experiments to make his body strong enough to survive Saturn’s moon, Titan… hey! I’ve heard that one before!
Here’s the poster:

Oh dear…..
As we move towards February the SF projects are jumping out of the woodworks:
Pandemic is an action SF feature from director John Suits: the world is on the brink of collapse in the wake of a global, Pandemic (well of course), Lauren, a doctor, comes to LA in search of uninfected survivors. Oh dear, I’ve done a bit more searching and it seems this may be another of those films shot from the first person. Please don’t be a reality-style movie.
It is set to hit cinemas on April 1 (very encouraging!)

Also knocking around is Embers. After a global neurological epidemic (Again?) the survivors are left without their memories.

Ah, I did a little searching … and I found this is one of the rare examples of a short film that made it to feature.

Claire Carré is the director, it is still making the rounds of the festivals, so there is no release date as yet.

This time of year is usually pretty slow, but things are picking up nicely. The latest project picked up is Life to be directed by Daniel (Safe House) Espinosa. The screenwriters are Paul Wernick and Rhett Reese, who were the men of the moment after their debut Zombieland hit big.
A group of astronauts from the International space station bring back a sample from Mars, but it is, more dangerous than expected… I could point out that the ISS is nowhere near Mars. I could also query this has echoes of a lot of films: Evolution, The Blob, going back beyond the Quatermass Experiment.
Filming is due to begin later this year.

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 (195)

18 Jan

The information age isn’t finished with us.

Christopher Nolan has settled on his next project.
It’s Dunkirk, based on the most famous military evacuation of the twentieth century.
This is a major change for Nolan. his last few projects have been Comic Book Movies and Science Fiction.

He is writing the script himself and plans for a cast of mostly unknowns.

We are hearing about a forthcoming British SF movie called She Who Brings Gifts, we are a little hesitant because it sounds more like a zombie movie than a SF feature.
A fungal infection has turned people into mindless creatures called “hungries” A scientist is trying to find a cure, but she becomes emotionally involved with one of her subjects.
Colm McCarthy is the director and it is based on Based on a novel by M.R. Carey.
More when we get a release date and reviews.

We are also hearing about the Neil Gaiman adaptation How To Talk To Girls At Parties, written and directed by John Cameron Mitchell.

Last year was all about the reboot, we had remakes and sequels up the wazoo, some of which Like Fantastic Four and Terminator Genysis crashed and burned.

Now this year…
Is mixed. There are a whole bunch of sequels and reboots. Some of them coming from the biggest franchises in the world.
On the other hand there is good stuff out there, original stuff. Chris X in Passengers, the original Marvel feature Dr. Strange,
In fact the comics have really stepped up this year with; Deadpool and Suicide Squad, Video game movies are popping out too, this year we have: Assassin’s Creed and Warcraft. On top of it all we have Spielberg’s return to fantasy: BFG.

Oh yes, there are a bunch of rehashes but even at the big budget end, it is not a disaster.

It is early in the year, generally the quietest time for new releases, but not without prospects.

In January we are looking at US releases of 400 Days, Synchronicity, Lazer Team and Terminus.
And in February, this year’s “Jupiter Ascending”, Gods of Egypt. It has been heavily run down in the film blogs; so what, more fun for me.

io9 has published its list of films to look out for;

Among the highlights are the post holocaust feature Valencia in March and the time travel thriller Paradox in April.

Valencia is a thriller set in a bunker after a nuclear holocaust, or is it? Perhaps the world has been destroyed, or perhaps the title character is being lied to.
In Paradox, researchers travel an hour into the future and return with the warning that very soon all of the scientists will be dead. Has possibilities. It actually reminds me of 2012’s Korean movie “11.00 A.M” (Didn’t get a distribution)

There are, in fact a couple of Time Travel features,(Paradox joins Synchronicity and Prisoner X) and a couple of Zombie pictures actually going to feature this year, but it does not seem like a clear theme is developing like last year’s “Year of the Robots”

Incidentally, a small number of last year’s robot films are yet to have a UK release yet.

Chinese blockbuster Monster Hunt will get a US release. A specially edited and dubbed version will hit American theatres on January 22.
A subtitled version will also be available.

There are a couple of other Chinese films due for release later this year that have kept a low profile. First up is The Great Wall, a China-US co-production- humanity makes its last stand on… The Great Wall of China.

Next, The Three Body Problem, based on award winning novel by Liu Cixin; epic scope, big themes, five-thousand years of history.

Out on disk now is Canadian SF movie. Painkillers: A special forces team in Afghanistan has come back from an operation with no memories, the medics use an experimental drug to treat them, and they learn the team has discovered something stranger than any of them expected.
It’s out on VOD and Disk from January 12th.

Now here is something , Paramount is hoping to adapt the comic Battling Boy, It looks like manga but it’s American, created by Paul Pope. Two kids fight to save a city from monsters. Jason Mantzoukas to write and Patrick Osborne is to direct.
And the style will combine live action and animation.

We don’t usually report on reboots, but this one is interesting.
There have been rumblings about remaking The Fantastic Voyage for a while, (at least since 2009, according to my records…) The latest rumour is that Guillermo del Toro is in talks to direct.

20th Century fox is the studio, it follows the same story as the original: a scientist with an inoperable brain clot has a miniaturised crew of five submariners injected into his body to save his life. James Cameron is producing and David Goyer is writing the screenplay. It sounds like the dream team.

I’m in two minds here; there are very limited excuses to remake a film; if the original had unfulfilled potential, it makes sense remaking it to bring out the shine it could have had. But if it is a stone classic, any remake is on a hiding to nowhere: you could make an inferior copy forever staining the
memory of the original (and confusing cineastes ho forever will be asking “the 58 version or 2014?”) Or you could make something just as good which is redundant. Of course there is the outside chance you might make a superior version. This is highly unlikely, there are a handful of examples, The Thing, Scarface… not many come to mind.

So, if the only thing you can bring to the party is better cinematography and FX, then you may as well stay home.

But we were talking about The Fantastic Voyage .

Here is why I m in two minds, Guillermo del Toro is a major talent, and a first class creative mind. I don’t doubt he would bring an unique perspective to this or any project he worked on, the last time he teamed up with David Goyer we got Blade II. I have no problem in admitting, I am a fan.

But is this what he would be making?

OK, try this, if he can make a version significantly different and better than the original while preserving the essence of the original, then I am behind him.

What the heck is Ridley Doing?
At the moment he’s preparing for Alien Covenant (the so called Prometheus 2), but, apparently he is also considering directing a feature adaptation of the TV show “the Prisoner”.

Ridley Scott is not the only director with a long “to do” list, Spielberg and Guillermo del Toro are out there too. But I have an interest, and it bemuses me endlessly, with every new project Scott adds to his slate I wonder if he will ever get something great done.

I start to doubt that Alien Covenant will ever start.

Unsurprisingly Ilya Naishuller’s Hardcore has changed its name (I had trouble getting anything on it because of the net nanny software).
It’s now called Hardcore Henry… because that will help. It also has a release date, April 8th.

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