Archive | February, 2017

Grunting at the Screen (224)

18 Feb




The information age isn’t finished with us.





So what is on the DVD shelves this February?

The usual stuff plus some straight-to-video fare.

Sole Survivor had me scratching my head, where did this one pop up from? Can’t find any reviews for it either.

Ah yes, we have another feature that has changed its name, to protect the guilty makers of this piece of crap.

Sole Survivor from director Christopher Jacobs was originally called Lone Wolves; it’s the end of the world again and a soldier gets in contact with an astronaut trapped on a space station to save civilisation.

The problem is, it sucks. The story, acting, and FX suck. Of course if it has kept its original title you could just look it up and see how much it sucked.

But don’t worry, you know Jack and I’m happy to expose these skinwalking weredisks that think they can slink past your quality control in the dark.


You may not have heard of Deep Space from director Ian Truitner, which is not surprising because it was originally called Teleios. Oh here we go again, except we don’t because Teleios is actually well reviewed; good fx for a low budget production, a thoughtful script, acting a little stiff, but that is explicable since the characters are genetically altered artificial humans.

The scenario is a crew of genetically engineered artificals journey out to rescue a mining ship that has gone silent, the miners turn out to be mostly dead and strange thing start happening on the ship.

OK so the scenario is not new, if you have seen Alien or Event Horizon you will find yourself in familiar territory, but reviews suggest the execution is a cut above the rest.

So what was the point in changing the title? Well there does not seem to be one at all.

Deep Space, available in supermarkets.




There are umpteen horror anthology movies at the moment, one close to my heart is “Galaxy of Horrors”, and anthology of Science Fiction horror collected by Justin McConnell, and Avi Federgreen, it features 8 stories from international directors and a framing sequence. It is in cinemas from March 1st and VOD from March 7th,

Here’s a trailer




James Gray’s To the Stars (Grunting 134) is now being called Ad Astra (although they are still going no closer to the stars than they were under the old name). They are talking about casting Brad Pitt.

The plot involves some kind of mental breakdown on a long space voyage.

Grey is talking about making something “conceptually amazing”, good luck to him.




I have not covered Gore Verbinksi’s A Cure for Wellnes because I could not figure out just what it was: was it a thriller? Horror?

To be honest I have no particular feelings about Gore Verbinksi. He’s never particularly impressed me, but I don’t hugely hate his work.

Anyway reviews are out now and… they are interesting. Downright fascinating;

Basic plot; ambitious young executive is set to the mountains to retrieve his boss who is taking the cure in a wellness clinic, when he gets there, the boss is not ready to go and the young man finds himself drawn into a series of treatments at a clinic which is not what seems to be.

The thing is, reviews have described this as totally nuts. Some are positive, some not so much, all agree it is odder than any mainstream film deserves to be.

OK one review says it drags some.

But it sounds just crazy enough that it might be good.

Open Feb. 17th.






Ah, Black Hole is coming… not The Black Hole. Oh no.

Disney’s long mooted reboot is still in turnaround. We are talking a production from Brad (San Andreas) Peyton.

A black hole enters the solar system setting off the usual global disasters, a team of scientists and soldiers try to prevent total disaster.


No Cast as of yet but production is expected to begin in early 2018



A few years back it looked like we were going to have a major influx of Viking films.

What we got were some well-regarded TV series, but few features.

Perhaps the day of the northlander has come because the production of a major feature has been announced: Viking Destiny: a young girl is banished after being framed for the murder of her father, the king. She travels the world accompanied by the god Odin gathering an army to reclaim the throne. (So long as she does not require a Wizard, a warrior a thief, and an ancient object of power I think she’ll be fine).

The god Odin? Hme. Based on a true story is it? Anyway.

Director is David L.G. Hughes, Terence Stamp has been cast as Odin.

No schedule.



You may be wandering about that population dystopia What Happened to Monday, well wandering will do no good because it has now changed its name to Seven Sisters.

It is getting an international release, US release is yet to be announced.




Looks like Tom DeLonge has competition. You want Skater Science Fiction? Next up is “Skate God” from director Alexander Garcia in a dystopian world a skater is a descendant of a geek god.

The plan is to shoot in the late spring.






The Space Between Us: Review

First of all the cast is great Britt Robertson is a young Julia Roberts, a young Kyra Sedgwick, she lights up the screen, gives a convincing performance and is someone to watch in future movies, (Asa Butterfield is every bit as good a s he was in Ender’s Fame, which is very good. He does a good performance f someone lost on Earth.

Gary Oldman plays against type effectively.


The film starts well portraying Oldman as a space visionary (apparently Elon Musk is now a “type”). The FX here are solid and credible.

In fact, later the film makers even make an effort to portray Martian gravity.

Which is all well and good because this film sucks!

Yes even a good performance cannot survive a film with a terrible script, and this one is the cinematic equivalent of Swiss cheese.

Where do I begin? OK with the premise; i.e. NASA (even in collaboration with a private company) sending a pregnant astronaut into space. With the health examinations flight crew get, they won’t send one up with a head cold.

And how about the fact that don’t have the nouse to do a urine test but do include a sonogram kit up with the medical equipment? Sounds like a little accidentally-on purpose.

Moving on swiftly, why is NASA ending people to Mars when they have clearly found a hole in Einstein’s relativity? I mean the instant communication between Earth and Mars. With that theoretical breakthrough we should be designing starships.

At closest approach the time delay between Earth and Mars is four minutes, at its most distant, about twenty four. It took me 45 seconds to find that. 45 seconds the film makers didn’t think you were worth.

Apparently Asa Butterfield plays someone with an immune system of steel; despite all of exposure to Earth pathogens the only threat to his life are the conditions he brings from Mars.

Which reminds me, he walks from a capsule landing. After an entire life on Mars and seven months at zero g (I’m sorry, “microgravity”) he walks. So they reinforced his bones with carbon nanofiber, did they reinforce his muscles as well?

And let’s not get into accelerating into orbit with your head on a girl’s lap. (Stiff neck maybe?)

The technical difficulties are not the only problem, Asa and Britt are not shown communication long enough to form the kind of bond they later have, not even for horny teenagers.

But the way there is a twist at the end, but don’t worry, you won’t care.

The film is not without virtue, it is cut tightly enough to move along swiftly (which suggests a whole lot of missing plot support.)

And the love story is kind of cute: she’s from Colorado, her boyfriend is from Mars.

But it doesn’t forgive the utter mess it all is.

So why did the film have so many implausibilities? I realised when Britt was flying they away in her foster dad’s crop-duster (Oh yeah, they do that) that the very reason the film makers decided to pointlessly make this a Science Fiction movie is they think sci fi fans will buy and crap you serve up to them, they don’t care they’re dumb as a bag of spanners.

Well this this fan ain’t playing.

The credits rolled up with the names of the writers. Well I’m taking you over my knee: Don’t. Write. Again. Till. You’ve. Read. A. Science. Book! Now go to your corners!*

Only go see this movie if you enjoy getting your intelligence repeatedly insulted.








*Hme, that was a little too revealing…

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







Grunting at the Screen (223)

6 Feb




The information age isn’t finished with us.





With the coming of February, life begins.

The Space Between Us opens on the 10th.

We covered this back in Grunts (158), (187), (210) and (220) so you may well know nothing about this feature…


The question we are asking, with Passengers and this one: is the Space Rom-Com now a “thing”?



Reviews for The Space Between Us are emerging. They hate it. Oooh they hate it bad. They hate it for different reasons, they hate the characters, they hate the plot, they hate the bad science. I’d be more comfortable if they hated it for just one reason.

Well, it’s traditional to start the year with a bad movie.

I’m in.


Also coming in February;

John Wick: Chapter 2

The Great Wall,

and God Particle.



Now it is definitely February. What I mean is everything is happening; Dune has a director and it is Denis Villeneuve.


To be honest I did not see it happening. Denis Villeneuve had mentioned how tiring it was making BR, so it was hardly likely he’d plump for another bigger Science Fiction production.

But here we are.

A number of factors contributed to this outcome. Denis Villeneuve expressed interest even before Legendary acquired the rights.


He built an impressive portfolio with independent films, the Arrival was a hit and he was selected for BR.


He is an avowed Science Fiction fan but one with selective taste.


And finally getting an Oscar nomination did not hurt.


This outcome also follows Legendary’s usual policy of hiring the directors of smaller innovative films to make their larger budget features: Guillermo del Toro, Duncan Jones, Gareth Edwards all benefited from this approach.



There is, of course no guarantee the feature will even get made; like may science fiction classics, Dune is (and make no bones about it ) cursed.


Denis Villeneuve is just the latest of many, many directors to be attached to this most prestigious of projects. Let me count the names.

Peter Berg

Pierre Morel

Alejandro Jodorowsky

Ridley Scott


More than one of them got well into preproduction with a lot of heavy art commissioned before the project fell apart.


Dune has also been made twice: once as a feature film, once as a mini-series.

The feature gathered a small but vocal cult audience, bit it is by no means adjudged a classic. Most of the film-going community is ignorant or indifferent to it and a small number are still quite hostile to it.


As for the Mini-series, I shall speak no more of it (well I thought it was OK).


Being that the Legendary production is the remake of a thirty year old film, you’d think I’d be ready to pour contempt on it.


Not so. Dune has never been done right.


A book as well regarded as Frank Herbert’s Dune should have a film to match.


What I object to is rebooting classic films. Dune is the perfect case of unrealised potential.


So, let’s pretend the making of Dune is a lock.


How should legendary and its director tackle it.


Well, ahem, I have a few modest suggestions.


Before Frank Herbert wrote Dune, he roughed out a smaller more conventional novel called Spice Planet. The notes for this were fleshed out into a short novel by Frank Herbert’s son Brian, and Kevin Anderson. I strongly suggest that Legendary should secure the rights to this novel. Why? it contains all of the cinematic bones that allow you to make a version of Dune that a general audience can understand easily. What do I mean by that?

What is the root of the disagreement between the Emperor and Duke Leto?

What is the secret origin of Spice?

Why would the Emperor even allow The Atreides to take over the valuable spice planet Arakis?

It is all in Spice Planet, and in a very linear way.


There is one more thing Legendary should seriously consider: Split it in half.

Before Lord of the Rings it would have been a risky thing to suggest. But Dune is such a massive story to tell, you can either make an 8 hour film (and you see how that worked out for David Lynch) or you can split the film. After all, the novel was originally published as two volumes.


And while they are at it they should get the rights to the Jim Burns illustrations in Frank Herbert’s Eye. Why? Herbert worked with the artist to produce his preferred vision: this is Dune as the author saw it.


When Peter Jackson made LOTR he roped in the most highly regarded Tolkien artists to conceptualise it. There is benefit to not reinventing the wheel.

And I’m not the only one who thinks Dune should be remade because the feature was originally a bit off.


In fact they feel that way about a bunch of films.




And fabulous February does not end here. We are also hearing word that Ursula K. Le Guin’s Planet of Exile has been optioned by Los Angeles Media Fund.

I’ve read some of her Hainish novels but I can’t say I remember reading this one.

Two tribes live on the planet Werel; Human and extraterrestrial. But the long winter is coming and tension between the groups is rising.


Screenwriter is Daniel Stiepelman and the project is still in its earliest days.




J.J. Abrams is producing a supernatural war film called Overlord; two paratroopers on a mission discover supernatural forces working against them. Julius Avery will direct.

No schedule as yet.





Tom DeLonge is set to direct Strange Times: San Diego skateboarders investigate paranormal activity.

Tom DeLonge is better known as a founder member of Blink-182, but he has previously produced The Signal (Grunt 147) and Love (Grunt 102).



We are delighted to tell you about Origin Unknown to be directed by Hasraf Dullul and written by Gary Hall: a discovery beneath the surface of Mars threatens to change everything.

Hmm, Hasraf Dullul where did I hear that name before? Ah yes, short film director, made a film named Project Kronos.

And Sync.


With Origin Unknown he is graduating to the big time.

Cast in the lead is Katee Sackhoff

Principal photography begins later February in London



They just keep coming: Chris “The Darkest Hour” Gorak is to direct and write “Attach”: an athlete gets a cutting edge prosthetic arm and leg, they are artificially intelligent, and somehow they start having ideas of their own.

Great! This is perfect high-concept: Hand of Orlac meets the Bionic Man.

Alex Russell takes the lead.

The production company is still raising the finance for it.





China Film Group is joining up with director Timo Vuorensola to make Iron Sky: The Ark, third in the series.

Wait a second did I miss the second one?

Ah, I see, he second one; Iron Sky: The Coming Race, has not been released yet. It is due out in September 2017.

The China Film Group must be really confident of success.

Max Wang has written the screenplay and Vuorensola will direct.

OK, this one will be set and I presume shot in China for delivery in 2018.

Confusingly it is chronologically before The Coming Race.

No word on the plot, but I am guessing it involves some kind of “Ark”, (I’m hoping for a giant space ark taking all the Nazis from earth… like forever.)

As I said, Everyone is going to China.








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








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