Archive | May, 2016

Grunting at the Screen (205)

31 May

The information age isn’t finished with us.

    Cyberpunk Special: Summer

Well there hasn’t been much movement on…

Actually with Blade Runner 2, Ghost in the Shell and the TV series for Altered Carbon and True Skin, we are doing pretty well.

And that last one got me thinking. There have been a ton of other cyberpunk short films out there, which one would benefit most from some extension: either as a feature film or a mini-series.

True Skin was the top of my list, the visuals were just so impressive, so different, it screamed for an adaptation.

After that I would have to go with Jesús Orellana’s Rosa.

It’s incredible; like an anime movie made entirely from baroque art. And oh yes, barrelling down on you at a hundred and fifty miles an hour.

Jesús Orellana like Kerry Conran (Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow) is a self-taught film maker. He wanted to make a short film so he did it all himself. He did not even particularly want to be an animator, it was choice forced on him by the solo nature of the project.

He combined anime, heroic-bloodshed, Blade Runner and the Matrix then laid a distinctive European look on top.

And he made it on his Mac, it was not even a new Mac -well until he had to replace it with a Mac Pro.

But the intention was never to leave it as an animated film. He always wanted to develop it as a live action feature.

Then Scott Glassgold and IAM Entertainment optioned it.

Since then the silence has been stunning.

I would hope at some point some visionary producer will get behind us, and we will get Orellana’s complete vision.

…. and what ever happened to Mute?
Duncan Jones’ near-future project seemed all ready to go, but for a long time there was nothing.
The release of Jones’ Warcraft was coming up fast. And with a commitment to publicity it looked like Jones would be tied up for months. This would impact on him commencing principle photography on Mute.
It looked like Mute was dead in the water…
Then an article appeared in Empire magazine

Jones reiterated his commitment to Mute. Confirmed Michael Fasbender was still cast, and there was new conceptual artwork. Really Good Artwork.

Jones has been openly admitting that the look will be indebted to Blade Runner.
It looks like Mute is still very much in play and due for a release in 2017.
But its future may depend on how well Warcraft does…

Ghost in the Shell is on like King Kong. It has commenced filming and we have seen pictures… er a picture, of Scarlett Johansson as Major Motoko Kusanagi (if this remains her character’s name).
It’s a fair representation.
I have a long memory and recalled she looked OK in Aeon Flux.
And that did not turn out OK at all.
Advance publicity for the feature has been overshadowed by a net based controversy surrounding the suitability of Johansson for the role.
Ghost in the Shell is a major motion picture with a huge special effects budget. The only one who would ever be cast in the lead would be someone who could open the film in the theatres. I am told there are less than fifteen such people in the world.
Should the role be played by a Japanese actor? Very likely but if it was none if the very vocal critics who are screaming “whitewashing” would be going to see it.
How can I say this with so much confidence?
Japan actually makes and releases movies.
Some of them actually get US releases and none of them has made as much box office as say Johansson’s Lucy.
If critics want to see a Japanese actor playing a Japanese character well… they should have gone to see Attack on Titan which had a US release and sank without a trace.
Until US audiences start supporting Japanese actresses in Box office significant numbers then the status quo will remain.
The money in Hollywood don’t care about any colour… except green.
The controversy is bogus, and always was.

That said
It appears the studio, DreamWorks, is responding to the outcry: it has been casting Japanese actors in supporting roles: se far Takeshi Kitano and Rila Fukushima (who was so strong in The Wolverine.) No doubt DreamWorks will insist this was always the plan, but I can’t fault their choses.
In the end Ghost in the Shell will come down to the quality of the story and directing rather than the race of the class. And that is all.

Blade Runner 2 was casting like crazy: Sylvia Hoeks, Robin Wright, Ana de Armas, Carla Juri and Dave Bautista joined Harrison Ford and Ryan Gosling.
There has been a lot of speculation about who will be playing what, but we will see.
The release date is now January 12, 2018.
Meanwhile Rutger Hauer has commented on the sequel at Gizmodo website; “I don’t understand why they’re calling it Blade Runner if they have a new project,”

Altered Carbon has also been casting, Joel Kinnaman has taken the lead (which I hope is still named Takeshi Kovacs, that should confuse a bunch of people).

There are rumours that Robert Rodriguez’s Battle Angel Alita has also cast its lead but we are awaiting confirmation on that

With all of this positive energy sloshing around I’d like to pour some cold water on the whole thing. After all The Cyberpunk Specials are fuelled by negativity.

There has been a ton of activity around videogame based feature films. There has been action on Half Life, Portal, and Thief.
Conspicuous by the absence of news has been Deus Ex Human Revolution.
Since it lost its director to Marvel, this project has been in turnaround.
The producer promised an announcement but there has been nothing: no screenplay, no director, no cool concept art.

Similar is the silence surrounding When Gravity Fails, from the same producers (again, why they wanted to produce two such parallel projects, who knows.) Personally I think, with the Arabic background, there is not a chance this thing will be made.

Neuromancer seems as stymied as ever. Not a peek from GFM, the production company.

On parallel note, back in March Vincenzo Natali re-tweeted a page from William Gibson’s comic, Archangel.
We don’t generally speculate in Grunting, but with Gibson suggesting he might have another project for Vincenzo Natali, a non-Neuromancer project, it is not hard to suggest Archangel could be that project: it started as a film idea, and with a little finagling it could be again…
But maybe that’s a reach.

We have word on the adaptation of William Gibson’s and Michael Swanwick’s Dogfight, Hot Property is still intent on shooting it.
Apparently there have been major changes in the story-line.
The latest summary talks about a fighter trying to make a fortune on simulated boxing and virtual gaming.
Meanwhile writer-director Simon Pummell, has begun working on Piper: a space-set feature about an Artificial Intelligence developing a link between humans and animals. Whether he will make this one or Dogfight first we do not know.
Well we shall see.

Nobody is suggesting they reboot Johnny Mnemonic.
Why am I saying so?
Because there is no reason not to (except the usual one that reboots are a creative abyss).
Well why shouldn’t they?
1) Because it made no money?
Well the same could be said for Blade Runner (which is getting a sequel) and Zoolander (which is not in the same league, but also got a sequel).
2) Because it is hardly a classic?
Unlike Zoolander and more sequels and prequels than we can shake a stick at? Hell, the Dune movie was blasted on release and has never been afforded classic status, and that got a TV remake.
And you know what remake they are talking about? Jacob’s Ladder. No Kidding.

No seriously, if they could remake Point Break, they can remake Johnny Mnemonic.

Now for some frankness. I don’t want them to remake Johnny Mnemonic, it would be pretty pointless, not enough time has passed to warrant a remake.

There is something. While the Neuromancer movie was in play, there was talk of a Johnny Mnemonic TV series. At first this too sounded absurd. But it has possibilities. As a TV series the ideas can be extended and explored, there would not be the problem of cinematic FX and production budgets and the emphasis would be pitched back on story and performances.
This is the age of streaming services, streaming and screaming for contents. There have already been series based on the Hannibal Lector movies and Hitchcock’s Psycho, there is one based on the Omen. Feature films are a great seedstock for TV.
At this point it makes sense.

And finally there is Virtual Revolution, I am not sure what to make of this one.
It is French, directed by Guy-Roger Duvert, and boy this is self-consciously “cyberpunk”. The director cites influences like Blade Runner and Deus Ex. And it seems to want to hot all the clichés from megalithic cities to flying cars.
It is set in Paris 2047 when most of the population is living in a Virtual Reality every bit as convincing as real life. But it seems there is trouble in paradise, because a revolution is brewing.
The thing is, the film might not even exist.
In 2015 they tried to crowd-fund 100,000 on IndieGoGo and only got a quarter of the way there before time ran out.
However I scooted over to the IMDB, and it seems that it is finished.
Does anyone out there actually want this?
Anyway it has a website:

Honestly, from what I’ve seen it seems a little generic and I’m not sure if I care one way or another.

Why don’t you have a look?

And in other news…

Reviews of Warcraft: the beginning are emerging.
They certainly have not knocked it out of the park, some reviews are quite disparaging, but some have cautiously suggested Duncan Jones has pulled it off.

The publicity machine is grinding up to speed on behalf of Morgan,
We last blogged it in Grunting (179). It’s the project directed by Luke Scott and produced by his father Ridley.
I thought it bore an uncanny resemblance to Ex Machina with its plot about a specialist evaluating an Artificial intelligence (in the form of an android) hopefully it can put some clear water between it and last year’s Outstanding robot movie.
We shall see.
Well it now has a poster a trailer and a US release date: September 2, 2016

Ah, here is something.
A lot of people have been asking, what is next for Andy Weir? The Martian was improbably a success both as a book and movie.
We first heard he would be writing a far future Science Fiction novel, then heard a rapid turnaround that he is now writing a book set on the moon in the same vain as The Martian.
But that is not the end of the story. It has emerged that he is also working on an original to screen project for Ridley Scott. Scott is reassembling the Martian Team of Screenwriter Drew Goddard and producer Simon Kinberg although Ridley himself will not be directing.
We are hoping this will actually be Weir’s far-future idea.
We are excited.

No details yet. But we are waiting in anticipation.


We don’t blog sequels a lot. But photos have arisen from the set of Alien: Covenant in Australia. Interesting. They show what looks like a lot of the Engineer aliens including some of their sculpture and hieroglyphs. This is a positive indication.
I am a lot more interested in a Prometheus sequel that an Alien one; and it looks like that is what we are getting regardless of title.


British Virtual Realty thriller The Call Up has hit DVD.
I have to admit, reports don’t suggest there is anything new going on here: players stuck in a game that can really kill you, fighting an artificial intelligence gone a bit mad.
Reviews are wildly mixed.
However Starburst seems to like it;

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 (204)

21 May



The information age isn’t finished with us.




Straight to Disk movies have been coming thick and fast lately;

the Time Travel feature with a Blade Runner look film: Synchronicity has finally made a showing in the shops. I might actually try that.


Also in is Project 12: The Bunker. This I have not heard of but the cover blurb compared it to the Nazi Zombie film Outpost (which I still have not seen, for shame),

During the Cold War the Soviet Union developed Project 12; something so dangerous they dared not deployed it. The project was sealed in a bunker, the scientists that worked on it hunted down and killed. However one scientist escaped, and the bunker is about to be opened again.


Of course neither has extra features, I don’t know why I bother to note this anymore…


They really are coming thick and fast:

Robot World; a star captain crashes on an alien world to find himself stalked by predatory machines.

Atlantis Down; a space shuttle on a routine run finds itself the subject of a dangerous experiment.

Flight 1942; a modern jet aircraft travels back to WWII and changes the future.

We are living in a time of (cheap and cheerful) wonders.

But are they any good? Likely not, even Starburst website won’t review them, but I live in hope of the Straight-to Video-movie of my dreams.




Guillermo Del Toro has chosen his next project, it is The Shape of Water; set in 1963; a female janitor discovered that an amphibious man is being kept prisoner in a lab, she enlists her neighbour to help rescue him. This could go in any direction; gender-swap mermaid, Creature from the black lagoon paranormal romance. It most suspiciously resembles Abe Sapien, that similar creation of Mike Mignola who also created Hellboy. I am guessing there may have been a discussion between Mike and Guillermo.






Mark Millar is at it again, he has sold his comic, Empress, to be developed as a feature film.

The producers are Joe Roth and Jeff Kirschenbaum and F. Scott Frazier is writing the script.

This is just the latest of many, many of Millar’s projects to be grabbed up by the film industry.

They are comparing it to Star Wars and Guardians of the Galaxy but it sounds rather more interesting to me: an interstellar Empress takes her bodyguard and children and abandons husband throne and empire, knowing she will be pursued by the Emperor at the head of his fleet.

Has possibilities.





I must be the only one in England who is not a slavering fan of Ben Wheatley. I thought High Rise was watchable but I haven’t stayed awake for his other features. That said, he is now producing something that has my attention: Tank 432.

The thing is, this is a subgenre I am quite interested in: War horror.

A if war isn’t enough of a horror by itself, some people just have to throw in extraneous elements: Soldiers verses vampires, Soldiers verses Werewolves (Dog Soldiers) Solder’s Vs. Ghosts (R-Point). It is an almost inexhaustible subgenre.

In Tank 432 group of routed soldiers take cover in an abandoned Tank, of course the tank contains a presence for dangerous than the enemy they are fleeing from.

Director is Wheatley’s cinematographer Nick Gillespie. I am assuming the feature is mostly finished because it will released onto disk shortly.



OK, check this one; Victim 321; a cop jumps back in time three days into the body of a prisoner on death row. He has 72 hours to solve a murder or he will be executed in the wrong body.

Body swapping and time travel? (And a mystery). And it is set in Caracas.

Anyway, director is Diego Velasco, script is by Michael McGrale.

No word on a release date.



Screenwriter Adam McKay is to make an adaptation of the Boom Comics title, Irredeemable.

Interesting, I thought all the Boom Studio titles had been sold off to Warner Bros.

Originally written by Mark Waid this takes a dangerous tack; The Plutonian, a superhero whose powers are eerily like Superman’s makes a mistake, lives are lost. But his standards of perfection are so high that he has a breakdown, and unleashes his powers against the world in an extended rampage. Can he be brought back into the fold, or is he Irredeemable?

Given the dark turn DC comic movies have taken it is either right on time or it has just missed the bus.

20th Century Fox has optioned the property, script is by Tommy Wirkola.




I think I know what Ridley Scott is doing.

He’s just announced what he’ll be making after Alien: Covenant.

He has a huge backlog of films he’s been developing so naturally he’s chosen something new; Wraiths of the Broken Land a novel by S. Craig Zahler. And this one is a Western.

The reason I think I know what is going on involves Ridley’s previous choices which have included a biblical epic (Exodus), The Medieval film (Robin Hood) and the massive Prometheus.

Scott has never made a western, and you might think it is not really in his wheelhouse. But I think this is the point. He is securing his legacy, he is master of cinema and wants to prove his worth in different genres.

I’ve taken a peek at what they are saying about the source novel, and they say it is an extraordinary example, very extreme.

So we may get something interesting here.



Coming off Civil War the Russo brothers can do no wrong. And like many other film makers, they are taking on a Chinese project. A Hero’s Awakening will bring the Russos particular talent for superhero narrative to a different arena.

Anthony Leonardi III and Mushui Feng will co-direct under the supervision of the Russo brothers.

No details yet.



It is certainly the month for Science Fiction film.


Word of new projects is coming in thick and fast:

The Recall written by Reggie Keyohara III and Sam Acton King; five friends on vacation are unaware of an alien invasion,

The Twisted to be directed by Olatunde (The Fourth Kind) Osunsanmi, and written by Ari Schlossberg; this one is produced by Ridley Scott, a child psychologist and parapsychologist investigate a group of children who may be more dangerous than they appear.

Boy (yes that is its name) with a script from Mattson Tomlin and Danish director Jonas Arnby; a boy with powers has to be whisked away for his own protection (hey didn’t we have that film already this year?)

Somnus written by Russell Owen and Chris Reading, now this one seems to be finished and they will release it this year; an ageing cargo space ship takes a detour to an asteroid mining colony where they find the inhabitants have a secret that may affect all of mankind.

Tau, to be directed by Federico D’Alessandro with a script by Noga Landau: a woman is kidnapped and trapped inside a smart house, he only way to escape is if she makes and alliance with an artificial intelligence named Tau.

The future looks bright.



Studio 8 just optioned Ken Liu’s short story “The Hidden Girl”; a team of assassins are able to navigate between dimensions. This certainly has possibilities.

No word on screenwriter, or director as of yet.



Ah, we have word of Serbia’s best science fiction film*; The Rift- a CIA satellite crashes in Serbia, the Agency sends a team to investigate. The Dead rise.

Oh dear.

This is the usual Serbian/South Korean production directed by Dejan Zecevic starring Ken Foree and Katarina CAS. No released date as of yet.



We are just getting word of a feature named Taking Earth.

Directed by South African Grant Humphries; the earth is suffering a viral pandemic that make people into violent blood suckers. It turns out this is just the first step in an alien invasion plan (An why not?)

Some are likening Humphries’ debut to Neill Blomkamp’s, (that again, huh?) I don’t know why Blomkamp has made two movies since District 9 and neither of them has been adjudged “The next District 9.

No word of release date as of yet



Now this is nuts, a post-holocaust movie in the new ice age: “2307: Winter’s Dream.”

A virus has wiped out civilisation, co-incidentally the earth is frozen over, Mankind clings to existence by the fingernails.

To make up for the missing humans scientist have engineered artificial humanoids; stronger, faster with greater cold tolerance than humans in every way they are man’s superior.

A rogue humanoid named ASH-393 escapes, he is hunted down by an elite team of Spartan soldiers.

Wait a gosh darned minute: that’s Blade Runner on Ice. All that is needed is a Rick Wakeman soundtrack.

Anyway Director is Joey Curtis, it has a trailer and it’s being shopped around Cannes so it is a bit of an inevitability.



And so we arrive at Future World, another post-holocaust movie, this one written by Thierry Cheung, Jay Davis and Jeremy Cheung, James Franco and Bruce Thierry Cheung are co-directing.

A young noble boy on a quest to find medicine for his mother.

There’s got to be more than that. Oh yes, he encounters a robot assassin. OK. That might be interesting.

No word on when this will start shooting.






Obviously the presence of Russian superheros just across the border has urged Finland to produce costumed heroes of their own. Thus we have Rendel; a masked vigilante on a trail of vengeance against a criminal organisation named VALA. Directed by Jesse Haaja, based on his own comic.

This film is in post-production, no word on a release date.






I got to thinking, is the BFI having a Science Fiction season this year? So I checked out the programme. Nope.

But they are doing an Anime Weekender.

Lined up are:

Ghost in the Shell (I presume the original rather than the remixed version)

bookended with Ghost in the Shell: the New Movie,


Empire of the Corpses,

When Marnie Was There,

The Boy and the Beast,

and, ah, Garm Wars: The Last Druid.

Which is interesting as Garm Wars is a live-action film, it is also directed by Mamoru Oshii, of Ghost in the Shell fame, so I guess that counts for something.

I saw Oshii’s first live-action film, Avalon; it was … different.

BFI’s Anime Weekend runs from Friday 3 – Sunday 5 June




















*Never gets old.


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 (203)

6 May

The information age isn’t finished with us.

I was going to make a big deal about Isti Madarász’ time looping thriller; A man lives the same day repeatedly as he tries to save his girlfriend’s life. Its name is Loop (Hurok): it’s about a time loop. A bit “on the nose” but what the hell.
It seems to be finished but there is no release date as of yet.

It looks like this is the year for Russian Sci-Fi. Joining Guardians and Coma is Attraction; an alien invasion feature from director Fedor Bondarchuk (Inhabited Island, 9th Company) not much is known about it but it will be released in Russia in January 2017.

Wesley Snipes has not been active lately but he is back with a new feature called Temple, Snipes leads a military team to a secure facility, while he is there the controlling AI shuts down and then the weirdness begins. The film is produced by WWE Studios, but strangely we have no world of director, screenwriters etc.
It is in production right now. More as it develops.

Videogame adaptation Borderlands has a screen writer, it is Aaron Berg.
A colony on an alien planet collapses, the only hope is a vault on the other side of the planet, between the colonists, between them and salvation is a host of savage creatures.
It is being described as “Mad Max in space” but most of the action occurs on a planet.
Avi (X Men) Arad and his son Ari Arad are producing.

Here is a surprise; Approaching the Unknown a science fiction film starring Mark Strong.
Years ago I would have called it a Gravity clone, but I m glad to be able to call it a clone of The Martian.
Strong plays an astronaut on a mission to Mars, does something go wrong? I certainly hope so.
Mark Elijah Rosenberg is the director.
US Theatrical release is on June 3.

Mark Millar’s American Jesus and Supercrooks properties have been knocking around for years waiting to be adapted into feature films. They have now been picked up by Waypoint Entertainment. No word on Scriptwriters, directors or cast yet. But it’s progress.

This week’s straight-to-disk feature is Brainstorm from director Khalil Sullins (not to be confused with the 1983 film by Douglas Trumble) this is another case of mysterious DVD name changes; in the USA it is known as ‘Listening,’: we blogged it back in Grunting (183) “Two grad students develop mind-reading technology, of course they attract attention from these who want to abuse it.”
This is a movie relying on ideas rather than vast budgets. It touches on current issues like freedom, surveillance, and government control.
It has mixed reviews so it is not for everyone.
Once again, no extra features, but what did you expect?

Here is a great idea, giant monsters roam the earth, they can only be defeated by giant …er… robot suits. Hme. OK if the premise to Monsterpocalypse seems familiar I can only say it came before Pacific Rim back when it was a game and in fact was due to be a film by Tim Burton.
We blogged this back in Grunting (38).
Well Burton is out and here it gets interesting.
The new director is Fede Alvarez. Although he is now known for the Evil Dead remake Alvarez cot is start with a tasty SF short called Panic Attack; all about the attack of …giant robots. Looks like he has experience.
Monsterpocalypse is now the subject if a bidding war.
Rodo Sayagues is writing the script.
Once it has been sold then we will see.

The latest short film to be sold as a feature film project is Miles directed by Oliver Daly.
A teenager stumbles onto an escaped military prototype robot named M.A.X.
Ooh cute, (sounds familiar: Gigantor, Rusty the Robot and the Big Guy, Real Steel…)

I haven’t seen the original.
Lakeshore Entertainment and Open Road Films have optioned it. David S. Goyer will produce it.

Short films have made it to feature-hood before, but it can be a torturous process.
So we shall see.

Captain America: Civil War.

(…or should we call it The Winter Soldier Pt. 2 …?)

OK, a caveat; once again, this is an unfinished movie. Oh, the film making is professional enough; it is the plot lines that are left twisting in the wind. We should not be surprised because this was the situation in the last Captain America movie.

OK, the directors (the Brothers Russo) cleaned this was not an Avengers movie and surprisingly they were honest. Sure there are three quarters of the Avengers in here, but the main story surrounds the relationships between Steve Rogers, Captain America and Buck Barnes, the Winter Soldier.

This is a well made film, there are some fine dialogue scenes that really looks at the responsibility heroes have for the mayhem they leave in their wake, and there are some very nuanced performances from the cast.
This is the Marvel Studios Debut of The Black Panther and Spider-Man; there is also an extended cameo from Amt Man.

It is a large cast, but everyone gets a monument of two, and no-one is left as set dressing.

The plot, as I indicated follows on from The Winter Soldier, Bucky Bars is regaining his memory, but he is still a hunted man and some are using him in their own agendas.

The basic idea from the Civil War comic is slipped in there, with most of the original plot sheered away, and there is even a little nod to plot elements the Winter Solder comics.

It is all woven together into a credible story covering responsibility and friendship.

Like the Winter Soldier, this leaves the Marvel Cinematic Universe severely changed. and the repercussions must travel through to Avengers Infinity Wars in a couple of year’s time.

As I indicated the only problem here is that the central questions raised in the film are left unanswered; The Civil War question and the fate of the Winter Soldier.

There are a couple of Post Credit scenes, one plot relevant and one cute.

This is a superior example of Marvel film-making, not quite as good as The Winter Soldier, but it does not let it down.

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