Archive | June, 2016

Grunting at the Screen (207)

25 Jun



The information age isn’t finished with us.



For some reason it seems the Russians have been very active lately.


In addition to Fyodor Bondarchuk’s Attraction, which now has a CG filled trailer, there are a couple of other features; The Monk and The Demon a horror comedy Director Nikolay Dostal. We will have more information when it comes out. And then there is “Guardians of the Night” (not to be confused with the superhero themed “Guardians”) and also not to be confused with Nightwatch which it so resembles: a secret organisation fight Werewolves, Vampires, and Witches… in the night.

I’ve seen the trailer and it looks oh so very familiar. Emilis Velyvis is the director and once again no release date is available.




Although Warcraft made a moderate amount of money in the US it actually did well in China, really very well. So well it may get a sequel.

This is quite important. In fact we have not yet realised the full implication yet

In the past the US market was able to determine the future of films and their sequels: if it didn’t work in the US it didn’t work anywhere else.

The world market made sequels viable, as long as they also had a viable US market.

Now with the massive China market, the US may have been taken out of its primary position determining which films are successful.

And that is significant.





OK, you know I love the military horror sub-genre; as if the horror of war was not enough, we have to throw in another element.

Well check this out. A priest leads a teams of mercenaries… so they can descend into hell… and kill Satan before he brings hell to earth.

You have got to be kidding me!

But no, this is a real movie called Hell Bent; Corin Hardy is to direct, screenplay is by Mike Finch, and it has a respectable budget of $60m.

No cast or schedule yet but I am cautiously optimistic.





The presence of a big Alien Invasion sequel has not discouraged others from getting in on the act.


There are a couple of spec scripts knocking around LA right now. One by… oh I’m sorry it is by Roland Emmerich, Harald Kloser and Spenser Cohen. Obviously someone had leftover ideas from his other big movie. It is called Moonfall; an asteroid collies with the moon, threatening to knock it into the earth. A rag-tag band have to use leftover alien technology (I was wondering where they would come in) to put the moon back in its place.


The other project is the totally unrelated “Fall”, a divorced couple make their way from the middle of Atlanta to their kids in the suburbs, a journey complicated by the Alien invasion that is happening: it is written by Pete Bridges.


Should either of these films actually be bought, we’ll get back to you.




Between Marvel and Warner Bros. they seem to have lock on Superhero films.

The vast amounts to be made are attracting sharks, er other interested Studios. MGM has bought the rights to J. Michael (Babylon 5) Straczynski’s comic Rising Stars: 133 people gain superpowers after being born during a celestial event. I’m sure there must be more than that.

We took a look and it seems Rising Stars has a Watchmen like sweep looking at how society reacts to the advent of superpowers, it has a narrative that crosses decades.

Seems to me this is not a story that can be covered in a single feature film.

The author will also write the screenplay.



Ross Evans is writing the Science-Fiction film ‘Gadabout’ for Sony.

It’s another time travel film that may or may not start out in the 1950s.

It is based on an odd publishing artefact from 2011.

Back then Curio & Co. published a book called Gadabout TM 1050 Time Machine User’s Manual. It purported to be the instruction book for a 1953 manufactured device; elaborately illustrated, filled with examples of how you might use your time machine.

The book was limited edition and came with a certificate of authenticity.

It is this book that is being adapted.

No word of director yet.




Now this is bizarre, back in Grunt (205) the Cyberpunk special, we speculated about remaking Johnny Mnemonic as a TV series.

Well that is not on the cards but director Robert Longo recently reminisced about the joy (nightmare) of making it,


and speculated about making a cut down Black and White version that showed his actual intentions.

It’ll never happen.




Ah, here is something, we blogged Denis Villeneuve’s adaptation of Ted Chiang’s “Story of Your Life” in Grunt (202).

A first-contact story where two human officials struggle to understand the language of an alien visitor.

It now has a release date and a name change. It is now called “Arrival”, and is set to hit theatres on November 11.




British killer robot feature Kill Command has a review from Starburst.

It’s interesting what they say; OK, so it isn’t a character piece, and the plot is kind of familiar, but the visuals are well designed, it’s a quick film, and good for its low budget.





Well we don’t have ask what ever happened to Crank’s Neveldine and Taylor, because we know.

As we reported in Grunt (206) Neveldine is producing the comic book adaptation Office Downe, but we have just discovered Brian Taylor has his own project going.

When he last worked with Nicolas Cage in Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance. That did not work out too well, but obviously they enjoyed the experience because they are back together, and on a horror feature: Mom and Dad.

A teenage brother and sister have to survive the day when a mysterious force turns their parents against them.

Cage plays their father, Selma Blair the mother.

It shoots in July.




We are hearing about an adaptation of the Liquid Comics title The Leaves written and drawn by Christopher Kyle and Kevin J Walsh. Actor Josh Radnor will direct.

It is a bit of a romantic Science Fiction story. A man is suddenly cast into a parallel universe, very similar to his own, except his girlfriend has never met him there. He has to convince her they are meant for each other. Well that is different.

No word on cast or start date.






Eli Roth has been busy lately. First he’s been involved in the new remake of Death Wish. But we’d rather not think of that.

More interestingly he’s attached to a comic adaptation that has potential.

It is Aleister Arcane, a comic by Steve (30 Days of Night) Niles.

A horror TV presenter dies and leaves behind a curse, two children fight to undo it.

Jon Croker is to write the script, and Jim Carrey will star.

No schedule yet.



We’ve waited since 2011 for Robert Rodriguez to deliver his Heavy Metal sequel.

Well we can quit waiting and instead check out Nova Seed from Canadian animator Nick DiLiberto. It has the 1980s adult-animated style. He spent 4 years had animating it, and it is having a quick spruce up for the sound track before going on the festival circuit.

I’ve seen the trailer. It’s not the most sophisticated animation I have seen.

More news as it develops.







God’s of Egypt; Review


It’s not all bad. And that’s as far as you can go.

Oh yes, it’s bad and had just about every problem a blockbuster can.

Its tone is more like a soap opera than an epic, the action is schematic, the story structure ramshackle, the effects very obvious (not bad but you could not mistake them for realism) the action scenes go on too long.


And yet… and yet. I had fun. Really; the pace was constant, the action regular and the talky bits not too long. The FX were pretty. Heck, I’ll buy the DVD.

It did look gorgeous when the characters went full-god on us, in fact it resembled the gods taking on their Aspects in Roger Zelazny’s Lord of Light.



Story wise it stood halfway between say Clash of the Titans and Thief of Baghdad. We have a conflict between the Egyptian gods (Set wants to rule Egypt, Horus disagrees) and a human Thief named Bek who uses his talent to aid the underdog Horus.


In terms of authenticity, well, just how authentic are say the Greek mythological movies? Plus Egyptian mythology is so convoluted and complicated I challenge any film maker to make sense of it. That said the writers do make an effort to work some things in: the land of the dead is named “the West”, they use the Egyptian God names, and they even have the legend of Ra’s barge.


But that make’s little difference, the real quality is in the crazy CG battles, the impressive production design, the wild kineticism in this it is similar to the previous year’s Jupiter Ascending.


So. It’s not good, but, switch off all critical facilities, and you might have a good time.




















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 (206)

11 Jun



The information age isn’t finished with us.



We are hearing good noises about Approaching the Unknown- Grunt (203). This one popped out of nowhere a couple of months back.

Some interesting things: the film makers have opted to use model work rather than CG where they can.

They have made an effort to stick to scientific accuracy in the space scenes.

Most interestingly the Village Voice is gushing over it calling it the best Science Fiction film since Gravity (Hey! What about The Martian?)

Mark Strong is an astronaut on a solo mission to Mars. Like The Martian it deals with isolation in space.

This is another single Point-of-View movie in the ‘reality’ style.


We have some reviews.

I’ve only seen a few and they are negative, but they are negative in different ways, and even contradict each other.

What I can glean is that this is no action film (which seems to irritate the critics) but a measured contemplative look at the isolation of a man on an extended space journey, it gets metaphysical and philosophical. There is jeopardy, but it is not the focus.

To me all of this suggests  Approaching the Unknown sounds different, it is a change from the FX driven space epics that presently dominate the scene and should be evaluated on that basis.


Approaching the Unknown opened on June 3.



We don’t generally blog reboots, but I am duty bound to mention Logan’s Run.

Unlike many reboots (Too obscure, too soon, too pointless) this one has potential: it can actually improve on the original.

OK, word is that there is another screenwriter involved; it is Ryan Condal creator of the TV series Colony.

That’s fine. Thing is, this project has been dragging on for years, it was a pet project of Bryan Singer before he moved on and I swear directors have played pass the parcel with it for more than a decade (where the parcel is some kind of suicide vest): Carl Rinsch, the Alex Garland and Nicolas Winding Refn all took their best shots and stepped back. They weren’t the only ones.

I’m beginning to think Logan’s Run has become someone’s retirement plan.

So I wish the best for Ryan Condal. He needs all the luck he can get.



Project Lazarus -Grunting (162)- now has a new name, Realive; it is still the same thing, a dying man chooses suspended animation over death. Years later he is revived. Mateo Gil is the director and there is still no release information.



Here is something.

The notorious team of Neveldine and Taylor who gave us the beautiful abomination that is Crank 2 may well never work together again, but Mark Neveldine is still very much in play.

He is producing a comic book adaptation Officer Downe. The original comic was written by Joe Casey with art by Chris Burnham.

A tough cop is brought back from the dead to fight crime: repeatedly.

We have seen stills and they look eerily like the original comic.

Word is this will be comedic and hyperviolent.

Shawn Crahan is the director and Kim Coates wrote it.

The first trailers are emerging, no word on a release date.

We have seen one review suggesting the violence overwhelms the satire.






OK, we have some movement now; Canadian Science Fiction feature called Defective. It is the near future and the corporations are taking over (again?) S.E.A. has implemented martial law and its Preservers of the Peace are the police judges and Juries for all North America.

Of course there are rebels, the Preservers call them “defectives” and they are sentenced to death.

Yes, I know this sounds like some kind of privatised Judge Dredd, but it has potential.

Reese Eveneshen has written and directed it, it is in post-production, there is no release date yet.



Also out of Canada is Caroline Labrèche and Steeve Léonard’s Radius: a young man wakes from a car crash with amnesia (when I grow up I’m going to have so much amnesia) he walks into town but finds nothing but dead bodies. Apparently there is some kind of mystery (hint: it’s not a virus.)

Principle photography has just begun, we will get back to you with the first reviews.




Staying in the zone is “Day 5”; a mysterious illness has killed most of the world’s people in their sleep. A drug addict coming off a bender is a survivor, he waders the streets, unable to sleep, trying to find the answer (More mystery).

This one has a release date: 19 June in the USA.

We’ll try to find some reviews.





Neal Stephenson’s novel Seveneves has been optioned.

Is this even Science Fiction? When I last checked Stephenson was wandering away towards some kind of historical thing. Let me see: global catastrophe, nations banding together so humanity can survive in space. Five-thousand years later the human race has split into seven distinct races. Guess that qualifies.

Ron Howard is Directing, Bill Broyles Writing, and Brian Grazer Producing; no date for principle photography.









Warcraft: the Beginning. Review


First an admission. I have never played the game, never even seen it played. In fact my only knowledge of it comes from that South Park episode.

So I am not qualified to say how authentic it is.


It is a little presumptuous subtitling it “the beginning”, as if a sequel was presumed, but when you watch it, you see this is exactly what it is, the first chapter in the war between Orcs and Humans.


OK, this is how it unfolds. The Orc homeworld is dying, but through a magic portal Orcs discover the world Azeroth a place they escape to and colonise. There are a couple of problems, Azeroth is already populated with humans and the Orc gate requires lives to power it.


There are heroes and villains on both sides. It is the story of two fathers and two Sons: Orc and human. And the idea that it does not matter what you are, just how well you make your choices.




There is a particular feel to the movie. One reviewer said it reminded him of Clash of the Titans, and there is an old school aura. But to me it feels more like Krull.


This is not a great movie. Yes the CG is less than perfect, there is a pervading aura of seriousness (thankfully broken up with the comic antics of the Junior Mage) and an audience unfamiliar with the game and the conventions of fantasy story telling may get lost (the sound quality in the theatre I went to was terrible, so I missed a lot of the finer details of the plot)


However the film has a firm narrative backbone, lots of visual interest, and likeable characters of both species.


I also learned that Orc babies are so cute, I want a whole crèche of Orc babies in the next movie.


If there is any concern it is the use of firearms in a fantasy movie, it is strange, but not a deal breaker.


I never felt my intelligence was insulted and I never got bored, and that is saying something.


Some films cross divides, this one creates them: between young and old, gamer and non-gamer, fantasy fan and non-fantasy fans: it is not for everyone, but you should go see it anyway.

















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