Archive | April, 2016

Grunting at the Screen (202)

23 Apr



The information age isn’t finished with us.


The Warner Bros. Sci Fi Holocaust

Warner Bros. has announced it will concentrate on its franchises and release fewer films. This begs the question, will original films suffer? And what exactly is a “franchise”? Do they just mean “established franchises” or will potential franchises be cancelled?


Spielberg’s Ready Player One, may be safe but films like Brad Pitt’s Illuminae may need to find another home.


Dante’s Inferno may be just esoteric to be kept, like Daniel Espinosa Morningstar (which some say is just a code for the same Inferno project).


But will films with name-brand recognition like Akira be put in permanent turnaround? It is not beyond possibility. Already Anime adaptation Death Note has been transferred to Netflix.


Most at risk are short film adaptations like Mischa Rozema’s Sundays and E. B. Rhee’s “The Garden”.


It also looks bleak for literary adaptations like Dragonriders of Pern and The Forever War.


It appears commercial prospects like the Giant Shark thriller Meg are for now safe. Jason Statham has been cast. It is not the freshest ideas, in fact there have been a number of straight to disk features about Megladon attacks, but Warner has the opportunity to make the definitive movie about giant prehistoric shark jeopardy. Yeah.


And what of the Robert Downey Jr. produced supernatural project, “Cloaked”, or Jose Padilha’s Mindcorp, Mark Millar’s Nemesis, and The cartoon adaptation Jonny Quest?


Sam Raimi’s “World War 3” was a recent acquisition, even this may not help.


For the time being the future looks like Comic Book movies and Harry Potter spin offs.






We have an update and some details on “Story of Your Life”-Grunting at the Screen (142) – Denis Villeneuve is the director and it is based on Ted Chiang’s award-winning novella.

Progress has been good, some footage has been aired at CinemaCon in Las Vegas.

Alien vessels have openly landed all over earth, humanity tries to communicate but the alien language is incomprehensible so they send in a linguist and a physicist, Amy Adams and Jeremy Renner.

It looks like this might be one of those quiet and contemplative Science Fiction films (as opposed to the loud and violent ones which make all of the money.)

Story of Your Life is due for a release in the Autumn.




From the same CinemaCon we have news of Passengers. You know the one we have repeatedly reported on because it is about a hibernation ship where a passenger wakes up too early on a century-long trip.

Well it seems the plot has changed considerably.

In the original version the male passenger accidentally awakes and finds he cannot be put back into stasis. He selfishly wakes a female passenger so he does not have to be lonely.

In the new version the female passenger awakens afterwards in the same kind of error that causes the first one. Oops… twice.

It seems they were not content with hiring the most likeable actor in the business to star, Chris Pratt, but they had to cut out the only edgy aspect of the story and probably cut out a third of the plot; so a story about the biggest douche in space becomes a story about a cool and sweet guy.

Let me take wild swing at it… in the end, instead of dying alone and old before the ship reaches its destination, they find a way to save both of them, and everyone lives happily ever after.



And then there is Helix.

First of all it is not to be confused with any TV series or Novels of the same name. Helix is a Straight to Disk movie directed by Eric Petey. It is the near future, a computer controls the entire city, a cop is accused of murder… by the computer. He must prove his innocence.

Sounds like it has potential. But I could not tell you, I can’t find reviews.

The strangest thing, because this film is on supermarket shelves.

There should be something. Anyway the cover looks suitably generic and digital. If I find an actual review, I’ll get it to you.




Tom Woodruff’s Fire City is out on disk

Woodruff is half of the FX team that gave you Aliens and all of the sequels.

In a city where humans and demons live in harmony, an unseen creature of the night is picking people off.

Fire City actually well reviewed and full of practical FX.

However the disc has no extra features.





A lot of western film makers are going to China, Steven Spielberg, Roger Corman, Avi (X-Men) Arad. Now David (Riddick) Twohy has joined them. He is signed up to make ‘Ice Moon Rising’ as a U.S.-China co-production.

A Chinese / American joint task force sets out for Jupiter’s moon Europa to rescue an astronaut who survived an alien attack. Hme, that is not going to end well.

Part of the feature may be shot in Canada.






At first I didn’t know what this was.

but some information is coming in

Coma: it is Russian, it is the first trailer from a feature;

A young architect trapped a strange world where the laws of physics seem to be suspended, is it a dream, is he in a coma?

The director is Nikita Argunov who also worked on. Mafia. You have heard me drone on about Mafia, you really ought to see the trailer, and understand why Russia is producing some of the most striking Science Fiction imagery in the world right now.


However most of it is not reaching Britain and the US (I can’t say about the rest of Europe) I can hazard a few reasons why.



And I am not sure where to classify this one.



Sci Fi London are showing “Androids Dream”, by Ion de Sosa, an adaptation of Philip K. Dick’s Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?. No Not Blade Runner, Do Androids.

I am not even going to ask how this is possible.

It is a Spanish film using Dick’s novel as a starting point to explore the economic crisis, it was shot in Benidorm for its eerie empty towers.


Sci Fi London Runs from  27 April – 6 Ma







Reviews for Captain America: Civil War are insanely positive. Slightly worrying. But we will see






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 (201)

9 Apr



The information age isn’t finished with us.


The latest Live-Action anime adaptation is Fullmetal Alchemist Movie.

The original was based against a background of the European industrial revolution in an alternate world where alchemy has come to the forefront. Two brothers seek the Philosopher’s Stone to restore their damaged bodies.

I suppose they would say this was what become “steampunk”.

Fumihiko Sori is to direct and they are projecting a 2017 release.




No-one is calling it “The Chinese Avatar” but it seems we will be getting the first motion captured animated fantasy feature from China. It is called L.O.R.D or “Legend of Ravaging Dynasties”. Directed by the original novelist Guo Jing Ming; Fan Bingbing will star.

We will fill you in with more detail on the Chinese Avatar as soon as we get it.



At last Terry Gilliam is making The Man Who Killed Don Quixote.*

He has received financing from Alfama Films and filming will begin in September.

Jack O’Connell has been cast.

Please note this is the third time he has attempted to start this project. Kudos to a man who just will not give up.



Now this is new, a Japanese feature film called Colonel Panics. Yes, Japanese although it is helmed by Korean director Cho Jinseok. Just about everyone else involved is Japanese including the FX director Nishimura Yoshihiro (a legend of indie genre movies including Tokyo Gore Police, and Vampire Girl Vs. Frankenstein Girl.)

The film seems to involve some time travel and a computer virus that “blurs dream and reality”. More detail as it develops.






Well it’s April.

That means we are looking out for the Sci Fi London Festival. Round about this time we usually are usually speculating on the programme for Sci Fi London. But information is already leaking. Although word on the net is strangely sparse.

We have some names, but we don’t know just how reliable the info is:


Dual City; Japanese near-future thriller.-Grunting (193)-

Prisoner X; the time traveller interrogation story. -Grunting (195)-

Embers; the post-holocaust amnesia art film -Grunting (196)-

Kill Command; the British solders verses robots movie.-Grunting (198)-

Dolcezza Extrema; ” Captain Pixws and his space pirate crew are forced to deliver tanning showers to every corner of the universe”.


Cesium and a Tokyo Girl “Mimi and the seven gods in search of her grandmother’s myna bird.”


Somnio; initially we thought this would be a future prison thriller. A sub genre I particularly like, (especially in Space). But when we looked into it, it was even more interesting than expecting. It is in fact an example of the “restricted space” experiment which comes along every few years: Cube, Everly, Aragami etc.

Yes it is about a man in prison, but it is restricted to one individual in his high tech cell, forced to walk though the crime scene again and again. It has potential, like future prison meets time-loop.


Polder; the Swiss gaming-tech feature. -Grunting (199)-


It appears The Call Up -Grunting (163)-will be the closing night Gala. In this feature, gamers, find themselves in actual combat.

I’m sure there will be a whole lot more movies.


Sci Fi London runs from 27 April – 6 May 2016


Kill Command is due for a release on May 13 in the UK.

The Call Up will be released on May 20th.






Greg Grunberg, has sold his graphic novel called Dream Jumper to JJ Abram’s company Bad Robot.

It’s about a boy who can jump into people’s dreams, nice and fresh, if you don’t count other recent films like: Incarnate, Mindscape, and Extracted, and a bunch in planning which have not started yet.






Batman V Superman…

I was thinking about how to approach this film and frankly trying to edge in something about the Watchmen movie at the same time.

Then it came to me; both Watchmen and Batman v Superman (much of which is based on Frank Miller’s The Dark Knight Returns) were directed by the same man.

Zack Snyder.

Allan Moore’s Watchmen Frank Miller’s The Dark Knight Returns were the two works which changed comics in the 1980s. They were transformative and their affect is still being felt.

Now, Zack Snyder, one of the most significant directors of the moment. Not because he is one of the greatest, not because his is one of the worst, but because he is one of the most maddening.


On the high side he is the man who directed 300 (not coincidentally also based on a Frank Miller comic). On the low side he made Suckerpunch (not coincidentally not based on a Frank Miller comic, or indeed anything else.)


Snyder has a fair set of stones thinking he can adapt both of the key comic properties of the last thirty years.

And considering the mixed reaction to Watchmen he is impervious to criticism.


If I’d been asked if the director of 300 could take on Frank Miller’s The Dark Knight Returns I would have said “maybe,”…


If I’d been asked in 2011 if the director of Suckerpunch could take on Frank Miller’s The Dark Knight Returns I would have said “Hell no,” That is how maddening Snyder is.




Now the box office numbers have come in, and it is breaking records all over, it is certain that there will be Justice League movie to follow up.



Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice…


So it starts out in a very familiar place. Thomas and Martha Wayne on their way back from a night on the town, on their way to meet their fate.


We have done this so many times before in Batman movies and TV series that it feels like we are stuck in a time loop: the Wayne parents must exit the theatre and be gunned down again and again, with a shrieking inevitability, the only thing changing being the theatre bill, Once it was Zorro, once the Ballet, this time around it is John Boorman’s Excalibur.


And yes there are pearls flying in every direction.


This is not the only reference towards Frank Miller’s The Dark Knight Returns: falling down the rabbit hole into the Batcave, ripping open the Batmobile, entire lines of dialogue lifted from the comic.


It should raise the hackles, but you know? It works.


In fact the film really starts to work the moment Superman makes his appearance in an Iron Man inspired save in Africa. After that it kicks along and doesn’t really stop.


We see Bruce Wayne having a very personal stake in the question of whether the destruction Superman causes is worth the lives he saves.


We see him come around to the idea that someone should stop the Kryptonian.



In one respect the critics have been unanimous. Jesse Eisenberg as Lex Luthor is crap; villains should be majestic, villains should be scary and Eisenberg here is deeply unimpressive and unthreatening.


Gal Gadot as Wonder Woman is both alluring and powerful, it bodes well for her own movie.


Is there anything really objectionable here? Well there are the dream sequences, they come thick and fast, and quickly make themselves unwelcome: some are character revealing moments, some appear to be foreshadowing of future DC comics movies.


Towards the end we realise this is not only an adaptation of The Dark Knight but also a very famous Superman Story, If I even mentioned its name it would be too much of a spoiler.


And there are other homages as well: including one that explains the film on the bill when the Wayne parents were murdered. To be honest Snyder really needs to get out the homage business, they are not so much Easter Eggs as facial fish-slaps.


So the film runs long, but it has a real story and enough action that it never drags, it tackles some big themes (even if it leaves them all resolves-then again the big questions can never be settled.)


In the end how good is it, well about as good as the average X-Men movie,


Which is to say, not exactly good, but pretty much good enough.







* One hand behind my back with crossed fingers.


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