Archive | October, 2016

Grunting at the Screen (215)

31 Oct




The information age isn’t finished with us.


We are hearing Time Travel adventure Prisoner X (Grunting -195), is coming to DVD.

This one is based on a short story called “Truth” by Robert Reed: war has been going on for ever, the CIA has captured a Terrorist named Ramiro and they are ready to interrogate him, but it seems not only is he the one responsible for staring the war, but he’s also a time traveller.

It is scheduled for an October release; we haven’t seen it in the wild yet.




We found some reviews for Steven Shainberg’s Rupture. The verdict is wildly mixed. While all of them are cagey about the story details (indication there are twists and revelations).

To be honest, this kind of mixed reception encourages me, it indicates a film different enough to be interesting.

It is out on DVD on November 4th.



Peter Jackson is co-writing but not directing a feature adaptation of Philip Reeve’s novel Mortal Engines.

He’s collaborating with his usual team; Fran Walsh and Philippa Boyens.

It’s a post holocaust fantasy set in a world where cities march across the landscape and battle each other.

This is the first volume of one of the big Young Adult series of the early 21st century.

Director will be Christian Rivers (also a long term Jackson collaborator)



There are a number of Neil Gaiman film projects knocking around at the moment, up next year will be How to Talk to Girls at Parties, but a deal has just been struck for his kids book, ‘Fortunately, the Milk’; a man goes out the corner shop to buy milk for his breakfast cereal, looks up and there is a saucer hovering above. I gather time travel is also involved.

Johnny Depp has bought the rights, Edgar Wright is pencilled in to direct. There is no cast, no schedule.




We mentioned Tarsem Singh’s The Panopticon back in Grunting (130). Looks like Keanu Reeves may be involved: an ordinary man receives a message that the world is about to end, a message from himself.

Hme, is it Time Travel? Parallel worlds? Time Travel (darn-it, said that one already.)

Actually the title refers to a system where everything can be observed. Hme. Keanu can now see everything….? I dunno.

So far there is no schedule. It has been in development for years, so who knows when it might get going?



Doug Liman has been a busy little bee: he’s working on a sideways television sequel to Jumper based on Steven Gould’s book Impulse. He’s working on the Young Adult trilogy, Chaos Walking, taken over DC adaptation Dark Universe, but most surprisingly he is now talking about a sequel to Edge of Tomorrow.

(yeah, I may have to explain, This was the Tom Cruise film originally called All You Need is Kill, it come to  the Cinemas as Edge of Tomorrow but fans who saw it on disc will only remember Live, Die Repeat plastered all over the cover.) Anyway.

Screenwriters have been hired; Joe Shrapnel and Anna Waterhouse. And Liman has claimed it will “revolutionise how people make sequels”: Oh really.

You may have noticed I am not too particular about reporting on sequels , but this one is of vague interest to me. (Honestly I am not sure how there can be a sequel…) I like Liman (I thought Jumper was really good and “Edge of Tomorrow” was not bad at all) but I’m not sure if there is value in going back to this well, and as for “revolutionary”, that is a claim that may come back to haunt him. Or not, the original was just about successful and there are many hazards between movie development and an actual release.

And of course the Director’s plate is almost as full as Ridley Scott’s.

Let’s put it this way, of the two sequels Liman is working on I am anticipating one.


Ah, shoot! I turned around and there is another Liman project: Unearthed ; based on the forthcoming series of novels by Amie Kaufman and Meagan Spooner it is described as “Indiana Jones in space”. He obviously never sleeps.


In the wake of a plague of zombie movies, vampires have taken a back seat but we are just hearing about Bloodrunners a feature from writer-director Dan Lantz; you could call it Untouchables meets Underworld.

Staring Ice-T as a small town chef Vampire during

Prohibition, it chronicles his conflict with a corrupt sheriff.

The trailer is out and the release will be in early 2017.




The release of Arrival is coming up, we haven’t talked extensively about this one, but the buzz is good.

It is a science fiction feature that has attracted the attention of mainstream critics, it is a major project that also seems to have some heft.

It was originally titled Story of Your Life, following the title of the Ted Chiang short story upon which it was based.

When Alien starships appear above the cities of the world a physicist and a linguist are chosen to attempt communication from the visitors and establish their intentions, good or bad.


Critical approval hasn’t been just good, it has been phenomenal, in fact it reminds me of the buzz behind Gravity (although there is no guarantee it will do anywhere near as well).

It would be great to have a decent genre entry late in the year, and even better if it does really well.

Arrival opens on November 11.



Coming to cinemas and streaming on Sky this week is Let’s Be Evil -Grunting (210)-: the virtual reality horror feature. When the virtual training of genius children goes awry, bad things happen.



Also out at theatres this week is Train to Busan; Korea’s greatest zombie epic. Well reviewed, but I am so over zombies.




Reviews for Doctor Strange are coming out and the verdict is in; visually spectacular with an adequate story.

It is very much an origin story with all that entails, but the visuals will impress.



Doctor Strange


Let’s Get Strange.

Steven Strange is a neurological surgeon at the top of his field, He’s supposed to be arrogant, but he actually just looks overconfident and goal-focused. And how can we hate him when he’s introduced with Earth Wind and Fire’s “Shining Star”? Of course he gets his comeuppance from using his phone while driving. causing a crash which wrecks his hands so he can’t operate, the irony here is the only one who would have been able to save his hands would have been him.* He tries every treatment but his hands won’t stop shaking so finally he hears of a place that can heal him.

So he reaches Nepal (oh come on, it’s Tibet, it was always Tibet) meets up with the Ancient One in the Temple of Kamar-Taj, who does not promise she will heal him, but offers to show him a world beyond this one; one of magic and the eternal battle between earthly sorcerers and the supernatural threats from out there.


Dr. Strange, the movie is the most visually ambitious Marvel Studios movie so far. In terms imagery it borrows from Inception, The Matrix Reloaded, 2001: A Space Odyssey, and M.C. Escher (who’s also an Amsterdam DJ.)** But it does not feel like a mash-up. In fact… it feels pretty good.


The narrative moves insanely fast, there is no time to stop and think how crazy this all is.


But the story keeps us engaged, despite the very light character development all around we care about Strange, the Ancient One and their travails.

And it comes together in a credible, clever and satisfying way.



Most of the characteristic elements of the original Marvel comic are right there: the backstory, the Eye of Agamoto, the cloak of Levitation and Strange’s recurrent enemy.


I liked it, I liked it a lot, more than Ant Man, more than Guardians of the Galaxy. About as much as I liked Captain America: Civil War.


Now there are two scenes at the end, one Mid-credits, one Post-credits. Stay for both of them, you’ll want to.


Any detractions? Well I am really disappointed the temple of Kamar-Taj wasn’t on the side up a mountain, covered in snow and Strange wasn’t required to scale the peak and crawl up the iron-shod doors: I mean we have a tradition to uphold!


Otherwise I was very happy.


Really happy, the film makers did not fall into the trap of including everything from the comics (no one appealed to the Hoary Hosts of Hoggoth -although the Wand of Watoomb was mentioned in passing.) As for the matter of Magic and how it worked, and whether it was in fact science, well this was a great big fudge: magical powers are drawn from other dimensions (Science?) but it is manipulated with ritual hand gestures (er magic?) it is like this throughout the film. The clever thing is the narrative is so swift there is no time to dwell on the lack of resolution. So the fudge turns out pretty tasty!


It’s been a good year for Marvel.













* I can’t believe they actually used a Drake Ramoray joke, no really.

** He’s not.


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.

Index Page


And if you want to walk the wild side of genre video try Starburst’s review section


Grunting at the Screen (214)

22 Oct




The information age isn’t finished with us.


Max Steel was released October 14th. OK, so it’s a movie based on a cartoon based on a toy. But I like the cartoon; masses of superpower-based destruction keeps a smile on my face.

Oh dear, there are now reviews and the news is not good (perhaps we should have guessed from the vast gap between production and actual release).

The Verdict; bland, silly, weak FX. Boring draggy, unfocussed.

The reviews are not even mixed, they agree precisely in what it wrong. I am not adverse to films with negative reviews, so long as they are negative in ways I find interesting.

I should have known better than to expect much of this one.

Now, will someone make a theatrical feature of Ben Ten already?






Normally at this point I’d be ranting about “that double-dipping son of …” and you’d know who I was talking about. Ridley Scott.

But I find myself unable to raise the energy to be angry, so I will just report it.

There will be an extended edition of The Martian. There you go; it hasn’t even been that long. And yes, I bought the DVD.

Well there is another reason why I am not as mad as I could be.

It has a DVD edition. (At least in rumour, an actual physical copy has yet to appear) It has 10 extra minutes, a commentary featuring Ridley Scott, original author Andy Weir, and screenwriter Drew Goddard, a science documentary, deleted scenes, and production art.

The Prometheus Special edition is Blu-Ray only. The Batman V Superman Ultimate edition is Blu-Ray only. The Force Awakens is Blu-Ray only, but the Martian can be bought by us mere mortals.

So I am angry really angry… can’t you tell by my big old grin?



But how can I be mad, Scott is not the only one releasing special editions. There will also be an extended edition of Suicide Squad.



Feature films come from all sorts of places. And this week is a particularly good example.

We are getting word of a new feature from Netflix. Recently the streaming service has been flush with crash and breaking the first rule of film production “never use your own money”. They got resistance from the cinema chains that are seeing their business model vanish and placing Beast of No Nation became a real task.

Well Netflix has a deal to get more of their films into cinemas and one of their upcoming productions is a Science Fiction feature called “IO”; Margaret Qualley is the last girl on earth rushing around to find a cure to the poison that has killed the environment before the last shuttle leaves the planet.

Jonathan Helpert directs, screenplay is by Clay Jeter, Charles Spano, and Will Basanta.

It is set to be streamed in 2017


YouTube is more associated with sneezing pandas but it also is a source of new drama. One such series was Carmilla; the tale of 19th century lesbian vampires that ran for three seasons. Well the show is coming off the smartphones and onto the big screens, it is getting a feature to be released in late 2017.

It will star the original cast , Jordan Hall will co-write the script.



Also from YouTube is the post holocaust film The Thinning; two school kids discover that their high school aptitude test is being used for something more sinister- population control. It has already been released on streaming media.

Director is Michael J. Gallagher.



Looks like Steven Shainberg’s Rupture -Grunt (177)- will get a UK release on November 4th; interesting Shainberg is a known director (The Secretary) and I thought this release would get a bigger marketing campaign.

So what do we know? Noomi Rapace plays a mother with severe arachnophobia, she kidnapped, taken to a secret facility, strapped to chair and a large spider is released onto her. She escapes and journeys back to find her sons.

In some accounts it is suggested that the woman has super powers.

Obviously the film makers are playing it mysterious.

We’ll try to find some reviews.






OK, there have been a bunch of Science Fiction feature announcements.


Crossbreed: Vivica A. Fox is to star; a team of ex-military specialists are sent to a New Mexico lab to retrieve an extraterrestrial that is being illegally used to develop DNA weapons.

Brandon Slagle is to direct, shooting starts this month.



Jonathan: Ansel Elgort stars. A man and his twin live two halves of a single life, until his twin decides he wants to live a different life to his brother.

Bill Oliver is directing it right now.



In the Robot Skies: a boy and a girl in a surveillance state, imprisoned in two tower blocks, they communicate only by subverted drone.

This one has gained distinction by being the first feature shot entirely from drones.

Director is Liam Young and it is doing the round of festivals right now.



You know, these are small to medium sized films, but I still feel encouraged that science fiction features with fresh, new stories can still get financed. It’s not over yet.






Looks like Equals (Grunting 128, 162, 188) has come to DVD, we’ve seen reviews, and they generally seem to like it. (Though I think, however good it is, it can only be improved with more gunfights…)



Well, you are all looking forward the Russian superhero feature, Guardians -Grunting (198)- what?

Well the director has been a busy little bee and he has another feature in the works.

Station 88

Centuries After a nuclear holocaust the last of humanity battle it out, one man discovers an ancient tech that might tilt the balance of the final conflict.

Otherwise we don’t know much at all. Is it a feature? A short? Other details like release date are also a mystery.

We went looking and found a bit about the director.

I thought Sarik Andreasyan was Russian, but he is actually Armenian;

He’s one of the top selling directors in Russia.

He’s made a number features and some of them are visually quite exciting.

Along with the Guardians (which we are still waiting for) he was also responsible for Mafia: The Game of Survival -Grunting (183)- which is still waiting for a western release.

Before that he made his English language debut with American Heist.

Hopefully some of his films will get a wider release.




Fede (“Evil Dead” remake) Alvarez is set to adapt “Incognito” a comic by

Ed Brubaker and Sean Phillips. Ed Brubaker is the master of the Hardboiled superhero sub-genre. In Incognito a supervillain in witness protection is finding it hard to leave the “life” behind.

Script is by Daniel Casey.






Ah actual news. Everyone is going to China, latest to go east is Joe Johnston; former FX supervisor turned Director of Rocketeer, Honey I shrunk the Kids and Captain America: The First Avenger.

He’s collaborating with media corporation Wanda on the $100M Science Fiction feature Starfall.

Script is by David Coggeshall, all we know is it is an action pic set on a space station.

It will be shot at the new Qingdao Studios in Eastern China. This is one of the first fruits of Lionsgate’s recent Chinese deal.





We last reported on Sovereign back in Grunt (155) (” 2001 meets Deathwish”) Well it is coming together, it is directed by Marc Munden, and Joseph Gordon-Levitt has been cast as the lead.

The script (one of the acclaimed “Black List” screen plays) originally pit man against AI but we don’t know how much of this has survived, it is , however set on a space station (funny, that..)

No schedule yet.







Dr. Strange

In 1961 Marvel comics published a story by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby about a medical doctor, drawn to Tibet where he met a wise master, learned the art of Magic and became the guardian against all magical evil forces. And his name was Dr Droom.

Huh? Yep, that’s what happened.

Two years later in 1963, Dr Strange came along, eventually he had a very similar origin but he also had an Eye of Agamoto and a flying cloak. But is advantage was he was draw by Steve Ditko in a particularly psychedelic phase (owing nothing to chemical substances).

Since then the character has been a sold mid-selling character for Marvel.


But now we are on the eve of the opening of the Dr. Strange feature film.

Dr. Strange is Marvel’s most important opening because … no wait we did all of this with Guardians of the Galaxy, and Ant Man.

Let’s just assume Dr. Strange will open big, just because it is a Marvel Movie. We now ask the question; just how long can they keep doing this? And the answer is not “indefinitely”.

Marvel has made itself notorious for taking risks. Most notably they have cast the least likely leads, but they have also taken radically different turns at the superhero genre.

One day a Marvel movie will fail. This is not my desire, this is statistics. No one bats an unbroken round of perfect games.

And when they do, will they become much less risk adverse? Their parent company Disney has already taken this route. Marvel is only allowed its latitude because it succeeds. After that, it is anyone’s guess.

So, Dr. Strange will give us many new elements for a Marvel movie, not the least of which, it stars a name actor at the height of his popularity (bit risky there), but seriously, the elements of magic and surrealism will challenge the audience to stick with the narrative.


But how much of the comic will translate to the screen? We’ve seen publicity photos and the Doctor’s impractical robes have made it (is he manipulating the supernatural or headlining Vegas?), the surreal alternate dimensions are there as well. But what about magic? How will it be explained, will it be explained at all (in the Thor movies Asgardian Magic is explained away as an advanced kind of science), and what about Strange’s spells, I have to ask: will we be hearing phrases like “By the Hoary Hosts of Hoggoth!” or will he be yelling “By the Ageless Vishanti!”? Because for a non-comic reading audience that may be the deal breaker.

There has been a ton of speculation: Agents of Shield are introducing their first magical character: it is Ghost Rider and they say they are following the old Marvel Cinematic Universe rules : magic is science you don’t understand.

However an interview with Dr. Strange director Scott Derickson suggests he will be going his own way; no scientific explanation for magic.

Once again it suggest a growing rift between the Marvel Cinematic Universe and the Marvel Televisual Universe.


We have seen the trailer. Quite disturbing. There are cues as to how the magical realm will be depicted and it all looks terribly familiar. In fact it looks like Christopher Nolan’s Inception dream sequences.

This kind of effect, where the earth bends over to become the sky, is now common enough to be mimicked in TV ads.


If this is truly indicative it truly means Marvel Studios have abandoned its policy of being different and embraced the nervous conservatism of the rest of Hollywood.

I really hope there is more than this.

But mostly I hope there is a real story and real characters to carry it.

Marvel are at their most dangerous time; they can do no wrong.

But how long will this last?

Doctor Strange opens October 25 2016.











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.

Index Page


And if you want to walk the wild side of genre video try Starburst’s review section




Grunting at the Screen (213)

1 Oct



The information age isn’t finished with us.



We blogged Officer Downe back in Grunting (206), this comic book adaptation looks nuts and now it has a release date.

It is out in the US from November 18.



Richard Kadrey’s dark urban fantasy Series ‘Sandman Slim’ has been picked up by production company Studio 8.

Gladiator and assassin James Stark has broken out of hell to find out who killed his girlfriend and get revenge on the man who sent him to perdition.

Kel Symons is the screen writer; it is too early for a director or shooting schedule.



The London Film Festival comes back in October and of particular interest is… oh, not much at all.

Hme. Well if you can’t be bothered to get down to HMV and buy the box set you could see Phantasm: Remastered. The other thing is The Void. This one is from themakers of Manborg, it is a horror film involving a dark cult and some rubbery body transformation.

London Film Festival runs from October 5th.





Cyberpunk Special: Autumn.

With all the recent developments it has been so hard holding back until no.

We have resisted speculation, but everything is going so well, so why not totally screw thing up?

In fact, let’s talk Marvel. Lately everyone wants a piece of Marvel. Actors are falling over themselves letting it known that they want to be in a Marvel Studios movie. Blogs are wildly speculating which director will join the Marvel rolls.

So why can’t we get a piece of this?

And by that I mean: when will Marvel make its Cyberpunk Movie?

It’s a fair question.*

Marvel Studios, have gained a reputation for thinking different. While other studios steadfastly make the same stories over and over, Marvel have tried to seek new genres, even while they (like all other studios) are chained to the idea of sequels.

They have gotten over making every film an origin story and they embrace comedy, War films, spy thrillers, and soon a supernatural thriller.

So why not cyberpunk? After all… it is different. What is more it is a genre others find hard to get right; history has given us one artistic success: Ghost in the Shell (animated!) and one commercial one; the Matrix.

Getting this right would put clear blue water between Marvel and the run of the mill studios.

So, taken it is a possibility, which character could possibly slot into the cyberpunk genre?

Well of course, Iron Man. Plenty of room there in the wake of the Ultron incident, the demise of Jarvis and any other Artificial Intelligence shenanigan. We could even have something involving Tony Stark’s new computerised assistant.

It would be a storming reintroduction of Iron Man to a new Marvel trilogy, and yes, we could see a digital Iron Man in cyberspace…. Tron style.


Who else could star in their own Marvel cyberpunk spectacular? Black Widow? Going all technomancy could distinguish it from the spy movie stylings of Captain America: The Winter Soldier. Vision? He is an android, and his otherworldly personality fits in well with the genre: we even have an idea- in the wake of Infinity War when Thanos steals the Vision’s Infinity Stone, the Vision feels like his very soul has been taken and he has to delve deeply into cyberspace to find out who he really is apart from a creation of an Infinity Stone. Let’s call it The Vision: Vision Quest.

How about War Machine, whoever he is. I mean he was Iron Patriot in Iron Man 3, now he’s War Machine again. If Marvel are nervous about bringing the neuro-action to their A1 character they can spin in Rhody instead. Additionally the fact that He has been injured and could well be treated by any number of cool and dangerous cybernetic solutions.

All of these are very well but let’s think outside of the box; Deathlok. He’s been introduced in Marvel’s Agents of S.H.E.I.L.D. and he’s Marvel’s resident cyborg, he could be the entry-level character for all number of cyberpunk ideas, starting with prosthesis and ending with all out cyberwar.

And this is all doable; Marvel has left open two slots for unnamed movies in 2020:

May 1, July 10 and November 6.

So; post Infinity War, in Marvel’s Phase Four, bring on Deathlok: Cybergeddon.



OK, that was silly.


Back to the real world.


Blade Runner 2 has started production, now that we have this and Ghost in the Shell actual shooting it feels like things are really happening.


In addition Blade Runner 2 (let’s lay on a bet, before release it will get a new subtitle) has begun releasing concept art; have a look:


The most positive thing I have heard is that they have engaged a composer. Jóhann Jóhannsson, who has worked with director Villeneuve before. He’s done a pile of soundtracks including The Theory of Everything, Most recently he did Villeneuve’s feature, Arrival. I treat this as a plus because the producers are not throwing crazy money at Vangelis just to get him back, and we may get something a little different. I like Vangelis, but this needs to be different.


To be honest, I am nervous. We have paintings depicting a future city in rain. What is the problem with that? The “Blade Runner” look has been replicated over and over again, sometimes well. Sometimes ineptly. (Seriously; we have significant sequences in Judge Dredd, Star Wars, The Fifth Element, and Priest. My favourite straight rip is the Korean movie Natural City.)

My point is that Blade Runner 2 is in danger of looking like another Blade Runner rip off. And that would be a disaster. Is there a solution? There was: to base the sequel out of the country in the wilderness we saw at the end of the theatrical cut of Blade Runner, this would force a whole new future vision. That will now never happen.

But there is light; in the Entertainment Weekly article accompanying the paintings, director Denis Villeneuve made all of the right noises, he spoke of seeing the original movie in 1982 and being mesmerised, and of seeing it thousands of times after, most of all he spoke being terrified of making the sequel. He acknowledges that the original is a classic and he is not even going to try to match it, just tell his own story in the same world. This is good news. He knows what he is taking on.

But he also said “the ocean, the rain, the snow is all toxic” What? Snow? In LA? This is good news, we can sell it because Blade Runner always suggested considerable climate change, and giving Future LA a snow layer puts clear blue (or even white..) water between the look of Ridley Scott’s feature and Denis Villeneuve’s sequel. It is a little thing but a positive one.

On the other hand Villeneuve has admitted that he does not have final cut on the movie; if that means the final film may be shaped by a producer or worse one of the financiers then any intention of Villeneuve, however noble, may well be moot.


Some of you may detect a slight sense of disapproval towards Blade Runner 2; well it isn’t slight. I have real concerns. I was watching the Blade Runner documentary. And I became worried that sequel makers may get the idea of “improving” on scenes from the first film; “improving” meaning making it louder, faster and brighter. Just because they have computers and they can.

More isn’t better, more is just more.

Blade Runner’s look was a product of its budget limitations.

The New York Street set at Burbank was too small and the buildings were not tall enough so Ridley shot at night.

He used smoke and steam and rain, he shot with bright shafts of light that there were deep shadows and all of these things obscured the cheapness of the sets.

And if Ridley had access to all the resources he may well have showed his world absent of all his tricks.


Of course with the new production of Blade Runner 2 and the advent of CG all of these limitations have been lifted. They can now shoot in flat daylight. They can do almost anything they like.


But will they? Because this is not the “Blade Runner” look.


This is an opportunity and also a risk. But only in the same way the whole film is a risk.

If they show us what we have seen before they risk boring us, irritating us, because it can never been the same, never as good. And you can’t go home.

If they show us what we have not seen before then “this is not Blade Runner “, someone will say it. Guaranteed.

And this is why I didn’t want any sequel, you just cannot win. But a sequel we have.

I think I would prefer the second. Something distinctive, something new. But only if it is good.







Ghost in the Shell is fully under steam and it has produced some uninteresting set pictures.

But the video from Comicon was far more fruitful

Ghost in the Shell Movie Cyborg Revealed – IGN Access

They tell us these are cyborg bodies. I say this is cool.

They also produced a teaser trailer.

I still don’t have a feeling for what it will be yet.



Richard Morgan’s Altered Carbon is still an on project. Netflix will make and screen ten episodes of this mini-series.

In a recent interview Joel Kinnaman was talking up the forthcoming production, it will be the equivalent of a hard R rating, Netflix are throwing a ton of money into it, and it will be the equivalent of five major motion pictures that will really show what the world five-hundred years hence will be like.






So, things have been going suspiciously well: Ghost in the Shell Live Action, Battle Angel Alita Live Action, Blade Runner 2, Altered Carbon on Netflix; it seems we are entering a golden age of visual cyberpunk **.


But we could be doing better.

The age of the superhero is ending*** and the age of the cyberhero is dawning.


Let’s start with Deus Ex Human Revolution; it has been knocking around as a putative feature film since 2012. The original game has great visuals and is well reviewed. It’s time to seal the deal. Deus Ex’s political dimension also distinguishes it from the run-of-the-mill cyber plot.


In the last Cyberpunk Special we suggested that Jesús Orellana’s short film Rosa should be given a chance, either as streaming series or feature film.

What else from the short film arena deserves re-evaluation?

How about R.O.A.C.H. by Sergio Luca Loreni? This Italian director really is something special. R.O.A.C.H. is an animated film but I think Loreni could be strong as either an animated or live action director. He has a strong visual sense.

I gather Loreni is now in the special effects field but R.O.A.C.H has enough ideas to warrant expansion into a feature.

Now, there is issue with adapting short films. Out of dozens of short films, very few actually make it. There has been speculation about this. I am guessing the problem is finding those strong story ideas inside of the original shots, ideas strong enough to sustain a narrative ninety minutes or more.

I have seen some brilliant short films, with visuals that knock your socks off. I can’t say if the story ideas are there or not. Let’s say if they are not. Or just not strong enough. This is far from the end of the world. The whole short can be picked apart; the visuals can be pulled free of the original story, and used to illustrate a new story with a stronger narrative backbone.

The truth is, a lot of these short film makers are brilliant visualists but not strong story tellers. This is not necessarily a problem. It is a matter of developing partnerships between talented directors and master storytellers. Put them together and we could get the feature films we deserve.







Robert Rodriguez’s Nerveracker is dead.

There has been no announcement but in honesty it has been hanging around since 2009 and there is no sign of it happening.

Robert Rodriguez first described it in terms of Blade Runner only way pacier.

It was to be a near future crime thriller; a detective goes up against the titular “Nerveracker” criminals.

Some interesting things; despite the constant delays Rodriguez kept assuring us it was a priority and he would make it. He said he had finished the screenplay and done a lot of the visual design already.


Now, Rodriguez has been looking for a big Science Fiction or Fantasy project for a while. He has been linked with everything from Conan to the Jetsons, His search is apparently over, he is preparing Battle Angel Alita and with any luck it should start shooting some time in the next two years (I will not commit any sooner than that because Rodriguez has a massive slate ahead of him, feature films as well as the management of his Cable station, El Rey.


So Nerveracker really is off the agenda?


Not necessarily.

As mentioned, Rodriguez has a cable station. And that channel needs to be filled. When El Ray gave us the From Dusk Till Dawn series they developed and expanded Quentin Tarentino’s original screenplay.

Why can’t they do the same with Nerveracker? The basic material is already there, they have a stable**** of writers and directors and there is no way Rodriguez will get around to it in the next three to five years.

Now what would be cool would be if El Rey started a streaming service, with the most grindhouse films and series they could find, and make Nerveracker their first original programming….


Yeah, this is the first (and last) speculating Cyberpunk Special.



Talking of film-to-TV projects my vote would go to Noel Clarke’s The Anomaly; it is not exactly cyberpunk, but it has enough elements to stretch into at least one series. I could see it as a British TV event. Pity there is no project…



No-one is calling Ramez Naam’s Nexus cyberpunk- but it has its elements: an underground, illegal technology, implanted tech, connectivity, artificial intelligence, secret organisations. It lacks the generic visual style, but that is a good thing.

Well for better or worse we are not likely to see it on screen soon.

Since it was announced in 2013 that Darren Aronofsky and his producing partner Scott Franklin had signed on in a “production only” role nothing has happened.

Which is a pity. Nexus had every potential to be the outsider candidate: the one that was not attached to a previous film, Game or animation. One that did not cage its visuals from Blade Runner.

Well, if any of the high-profile up-coming Cyber projects takes off them maybe the money men will take another look and we will get a Nexus feature.



Well so much for the speculation. Unfortunately on the news front there is not much to report.

There has been silence on the Neuromancer front.

Oh, I think it is dead, but I’ll keep thrashing it to see if it gets on its feet.



Nerveracker is not an entire loss; progress continues with Robert Rodriguez’s Battle Angel Alita.

First let’s get the terminology right. I’ve known it as “Battle Angel Alita” for years; the Anime, the Manga and whatever. The official name for the live action adaptation is Alita: Battle Angel. I don’t know why (I haven’t checked), maybe they want a higher alphabetical placing.

I hesitated commentating on casting because so much of it seemed tentative.

It seems that Rosa Salazar has been cast as Alita, Christoph Waltz as her adoptive father Dyson Ido, Ed Skrein as the villainous cyborg Zapan and Jackie Earle Haley as one of Alita’s many Cyborg opponents (so far unnamed; there were so many…)

Principal photography begins in October.

No word on release date.



Duncan Jones’ Mute is on.

If fact he caused me to rewrite this whole section- quite annoying, because I had some speculation to bandy.


To me the first indication that progress was on its way was the fact that his Twitter account ground to a halt.


Jones loves to tweet, and when he hadn’t issued an update in weeks I suspected he was in intensive preparations for Mute.

He’d previously said that the Budget was not quite there yet, and this is usually the most complex aspect prior to filming.


It all depended on a bunch of different things; one of which was how well his last film, Warcraft, did.

Warcraft was a mixed bad. It got off to a slow start in the US, a moderate one in Europe but it took off like a rocket in China. It did nearly twice as well as the next biggest opening. And that would be the next biggest opening ever.


Mute will have a much smaller budget, and this will not have to work as hard to make a profit and Warcraft did.


But it still has to make its money.


Especially since Jones has an overarching plan for his independent films.

He confirmed that he planned three films in the Moon sequence: the completed Moon, Mute and a third film which will have a female lead (and presumably will also start with “M”.) In fact, he says the screenplay is already written

We heard some very vague intimations of this third project. We are interested. Moon took place… well we know where it was based, Mute is based in Berlin. So what has Jones got in store for number three? Since the speculation portion of this Special is over, we can’t guess. But we might suggest it would not be something we saw already. Now it has a female lead and Jones is very much attached to the Science Fiction of the eighties, you can see this from Moon and the Mute concept art. It is so hard not to speculate, but might we presume something in the vein of a Ripley or Sara Conner type character?

Jones said five years ago it was very difficult to fund a female-lead movie. Let’s hope in the era or Hunger Games this has changed.


We at Chez Grunt keep deep archive so we went back to see what Jones said in the past.

Having failed to get Mute off the ground the first time, he turned to another project. A future-city based project, a homage to Blade Runner. Is he still talking Mute? No, this was his third option.

Could there have been some confusion in the interviewer’s mind because in another interview he says though it is based in the same universe as Mute it is a “very different thing”.

Most interestingly at this time he said it was more adventure-driven. In fact he called it a thinking person’s action film.

Combined with his later interviews it puts credence in the idea of an action film with a female star in the mode of Terminator or Aliens (but based in a future city).

Then as now he is keeping the title secret; it suggests that even the title will reveal too much.

We are continuing with the research; even during the Warcraft junket he was complaining about the difficulty of funding a female lead Science Fiction film.

He also thought characters from the three films could cameo in each other’s features. It seems likely we will see Sam Rockwell playing his character from Moon in Mute. And something similar in the Unnamed Third Feature.

Of this third film he keeps saying it address what people expect from Science Fiction films. That remains mysterious to me.

It also seems that it demands a fair sized budget too, he said so in interviews and intimated the sticking point was not just the female lead but the budget: the financiers did not think a female lead film could make a profit at the suggested budget. Which still does not tell us just how large that budget is. Except it is likely larger than that of (his second feature) Source Code. We heard that was about $30m. (It was 32) We also guess it would be less than Warcraft (which numbers in the hundreds of millions). That puts it in the Mid-budget level. The level of films like the Blade films, Hellboy, The Resident Evil series. That would be in the $60-80M range. This is all guesswork of course. But of course we have had female lead action movies at that level: Resident Evil, Ultraviolet (not even including the YA successes.)

So perhaps Jones is thinking about the low end of the Big Budget (not a contradiction.)***** Say the $120-150M end. That may sound like a lot to you. But films like the latest Avengers sequel were estimated at the $350M and the Avatar sequels will likely be expensive enough to break a couple of developed nations.


All of this may be moot.

Whether his financiers will allow him to make two urban SF movies in a row remains to be seen; but Jones in his own words, is like a dog with a bone.

It took him 13 years to get Mute made; he may be willing to keep plugging away for as long as it takes to finish film number 3.


And just moments (well two weeks) before we went to press (because blogs need to be printed too-!?- ) we got word that Duncan Jones had secured financing for Mute and he is going to Berlin to commence principle photography.

He is shooting with his preferred cast of Alexander Skarsgard and Paul Rudd with Jones’ preferred DP Gary Shaw and Clint Mansell on the soundtrack.


The story develops from minute to minute: we are hearing that Mute will have a simultaneous release: theatrical and Netflix.


Here is some concept art.

First Concept Art From Duncan Jones’ “Mute”



We wish him all the best luck, but most of all, that he delivers a good film.

He’ll be needing luck because he will be going up against much better-funded projects like Blade Runner 2.




I’d written off Joe Cornish’s adaptation Neal Stephenson’s Snow Crash, but a piece on Collider suggests it is still a “go” project.

Producer Frank Marshall says he hopes it will shoot in 2017. There is no specific commencement date given.



So the future looks bright and soon we may all be wearing shades.

We even have a schedule

Ghost in the Shell will be released March 31st 2017.

And Blade Runner 2 October 6, 2017






*it’s not.

** We’re not.

*** It isn’t.

**** Yes, I too love being compared to a farm animal.

***** Maybe a bit of contradiction.










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




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