Archive | March, 2017

Grunting at the Screen (227)

25 Mar

 

 

 

The information age isn’t finished with us.

 

 

 

Cyberpunk Special: Spring

 

Spring comes early this year. Not because of climate change, but Ghost in the Shell opens this month.

 

 

Neuromancer is still dead, and instead of shedding tears over it they should consider the alternatives. Since they complain most of the ideas have been stolen by other film and shows, they should try something else. Like Pat Cadigan’s Synners: there should be an HBO miniseries, only without of HBO’s usual gratuitous shagging. It is a serious long-form story with layered characterisation (and seeing that there are no androids, it won’t step on Westworld’s toes).

 

 

 

We were weren’t going to play the game of “which short should be a feature” this quarter, but it came to our attention that shorts director Hasraf “Haz” Dullul

is making his first feature. It occurred to me, should his short Sync have been his first feature?

Now I took another look at it. And I think they got it right. Sync is not the great lost feature, in fact it is … a bit boring. And the premise is well a bit Johnny Mnemonic, with an android substituted for Johnny’s head.

Sorry.

 

There must be something in the air: Sync is not the only short with a recent feature deal.

David Karlak’s short film Rise caused a minor hubbub when it was released in 2014.

In the future the robots are rising (again) however this time we are seeing it from the viewpoint.

 

It was another of the FX heavy Science Fiction shorts that we’ve seen so many of.

Like many of those, it had a studio deal: Warner Bros. had contacted to make it into a feature.

That meant nothing, the hordes of shorts that have reached for featurehood and fallen at the first hurdle are many.

This one had an edge: it starred Anton Yelchin.

However Yelchin has sadly passed away, and Rise spent the last three years in Limbo.

But there has been progress.

The rights have been obtained by producers Brian Oliver and Johnny Lin.

They are fully funding it and Karlak will direct the feature.

 

The producers are not just talking feature, they are using the word “franchise”; eggs before chickens, guys….

 

 

 

The classic Ghost in the Shell anime directed by Mamoru Oshii got a cinematic re-release in February.

 

I’m wondering if this is a good idea. Oh it is good for the anime, but for the Live-Action adaptation. After all, how will you sell the idea of the copy, when the original looms so large?

 

Sure, the release can serve as great publicity, it can raise awareness, but it can also remind us of what the Live-Action adaptation is not.

 

 

I’ve been neutral about the Live-Action feature. It had a troubled origin, Steven Spielberg had the project for a while before passing it on.

 

Now I cannot say Spielberg was the best fit for the project (the closest he has been in territory was Minority Report and I am in two minds about that) but moving from him to Rupert Sanders seems like a step down.

 

Seems like, I have to confess, I never saw Snow White and the Huntsman.

 

Anyway, I’d like Ghost in the Shell Live-Action to be good, I really would.

 

With the feature opening in March the publicity machine is well into its groove. This is the stuff I usually treat as background noise, but since we are taking an in-depth look, I might as well say. Ghost in the Shell Live-Action has scored very highly in social media buzz; Variety magazine clocked it at 30,000 conversations (no, I don’t know what that means), which is higher than Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2.

The question is, will that translate to ticket sales. If internet buzz meant ticket sales the Snakes on a Plane would be the highest grossing film ever.

Anyway, we will know very soon.

 

I’d like Ghost in the Shell Live-Action to be successful, I’d like it to be good and I’d like it to make money. That would keep the door open for so many other films.

But I worry.

I’m worried about that statement Director Rupert Sanders made about cherry-picking scenes from the different anime iterations.

This might work: it is a narrative strategy; take a number of outstanding moments; and build a narrative around them. Perfectly legitimate.

If it is possible.

If you have the writing talent.

It would be great if Sanders has harnessed the talent to create a coherent and compelling narrative around those visually stunning scenes.

But I worry this will be a “greatest hits” collection: a cynical attempt to pull the fans in by showing them what they want to see, and not making much of an effort to make sure it all makes sense.

It would fit in with the current ethos of Los Angeles cinema.

What do I mean? They want Khan, give them Khan. They want the Death Star, give them the Death Star. And the sop to originality is you just change the names, but we all know it is just the same old dog and pony show.

If this is what it turns out to be then the reaction will predicable: a savage attack by the critics, followed by mass rejection by the fans. Whether that turns into Box Office failure is not certain: there is a trend for going against the critics, and when it comes to predicting the audience, nobody knows anything. *

But the fan and critical reaction could seal the fate of any sequels and anyone else who wants to do Near Future urban Science Fiction. Really; despite the fact that the Matrix sequels were more financially successful than the original they are still accounted as failures (but not by me).

The first Hulk film is accounted as a failure, the second as a success; even though they made about the same amount at the box office.

So even if Ghost in the Shell Live-Action is moderately successful, it may still be a disaster.

As political hacks say “It is all about the optics”

 

Hah, I win again, I already insisted there would have to be a name change in the old “Motoko” situation. In early March a story started that Scarlett Johansson character (previously only referred to as the major” is now being called “Mira”. Score!

 

The Japanese language dubbed version of Ghost in the Shell Live Action will be voiced by the original actors: Atsuko Tanaka from the 1995 anime will voice The Major.

So is everyone happy now?

 

We don’t generally blog promo vids. But we love Adam Savage, so when he want to New Zealand to see what WETA did for Ghost in the Shell We could not resist.

This is what he found out about the Geisha Dolls:

 

And here are some alarming details about the stealth suit,

 

Enjoy

 

 

I was going to leave the Ghost in the Shell controversy be, it is after all ridiculous. But then the original anime director Mamoru Oshii weighed in with his definitive statement during an IGN interview;

http://uk.ign.com/articles/2017/03/21/original-ghost-in-the-shell-director-mamoru-oshii-has-no-problem-with-live-action-remake

 

“What issue could there possibly be with casting her?” Oshii told IGN by e-mail. “The Major is a cyborg and her physical form is an entirely assumed one. The name ‘Motoko Kusanagi’ and her current body are not her original name and body, so there is no basis for saying that an Asian actress must portray her. Even if her original body (presuming such a thing existed) were a Japanese one, that would still apply.”

 

And that is that.

 

 

 

 

 

Of the upcoming features, Blade Runner: 2049 is the most keenly anticipated, it has a small and enthusiastic fanbase. Its trailer has garnered positive response.

 

News has been coming apace. There have been interviews with director Denis Villeneuve, and he is still making the right noises, and I am comfortable in saying I believe them.

Denis Villeneuve is telling us expectations are high for the sequel, he is aware that his critics are watching him and he intends to produce a sequel worthy of the original, he also says the sequel will have the same atmosphere as the original, same genre same atmosphere.

Having seen the Arrival I expect this means we will see no action sci fi spectacular with a slam bang CG finale. And this is a mercy.

I keep saying “he’s saying all the right things”. One of those things is, in fact, about the use of CG, which he says will be kept to a minimum. There will be live sets, mostly and the sparing use of Green Screen. It is what fans want to hear, and it may even be true.

 

Less significant was the news that there will be Blade Runner: 2049 merchandise. No need for panic. The original Blade Runner had its own merchandise, die-cast metal spinners, caps, and a few books: The Art of Blade Runner, The Blade Runner Storyboards.

For Blade Runner: 2049 I expect fewer books, more action figures. But that is fine.

 

Cast member Lennie James reported that security on set was extraordinary, and much of that related to the screenplay; most of the time only parts of the script would be available to the actors, and those parts would be removed at the end of each days filming, if they had been provided electronically, they would vanish after a given period.

In addition the sets in Budapest were locked down tight with no photography leaking out.

I’m not concerned about the security, a lot of major projects are now security obsessed, what is interesting is that the feature seems to have been filmed entirely on set, I have heard no word of location filming. This will be influential on the final look.

I am well aware that the fans who long for a new Blade Runner long for one that is just like the old one. But not I. What would be the point? Since the 1980s a revolution has taking place in cinema: from Minority report, to Chappie, new film-making techniques have given us futures that are shockingly real; futures filmed on location.

I am willing to acknowledge that Blade Runner (1982) was state of the art then: is too much to demand that Blade Runner 2048 be state of the art now?

 

 

 

 

Alita: Battle Angel is in production. A notice for extras appeared in the industry press indicating that shooting was taking place in February.

They are filming in Austin at night.

Now if this is anything like Robert Rodriguez’s usual shoots, he will shoot in fragments over a long period, grabbing various cast members along the way.

We speculate he will use a mixture of his known techniques of real sets plus greenscreen.

What can we expect from it? Well, we’ve had very little indication, no detailed plot, no production art. We suspect the story will be an amalgamation of several of the different Manga stories.

A good guess would be that it is intended to be the first of a series.

But we know almost nothing.

 

 

 

 

It has gone quiet around the Amazon series True Skin. Back in July, creator Stephan Zlotescu said things were progressing well.

The plan was to make an hour-long pilot then see if a series was indicated.

Aside from a writer being hired, nothing else has been announced.

The plan was to get it on screens in 2017, but it is unlikely this will be possible with movement being so slow.

Question? Is this project still in play?

 

 

 

 

Question? Will Mute get a theatrical release?

No one is saying. On the plus side Director Duncan Jones has a fanbase who still fawn over Moon and they would support a release.

On the minus, Netflix has had trouble getting theatrical chains to accept their product. And we still have no date for Mute’s Netflix debut.

Let’s take a guess here: Netflix are still negotiating, hoping to get it into cinemas, but ready to just put it out of they can’t get one?

We might never know the actual situation, but I expect it will be out some time this year, one way of another.

Meanwhile Jones is deep in post-production.

 

 

 

 

The other thing coming on streaming services is “Altered Carbon”, we know it has been filming. But nothing else.

Actually we know a couple of things. Added to the cast has been Tamara Taylor. Which is fine.

We also have been looking over the notices of filming, and it has been posted as “Altered Carbon: Season One.” This could mean nothing. We assumed they would do the whole novel in one season, and we still assume it.

We’d hate to think they are splitting it up over multiple seasons…

And we don’t think they will.

But are they thinking they might go to Season 2? How would they proceed? Would they go straight on to Richard Morgan’s follow-up novel Broken Angels? Problem there; the premise of the series is that people can jump from body to body but physically travelling between the stars is difficult, Broken Angels set on a different Planet, with a different cast of characters, in bodies we have not seen. Would Netflix recast?

I don’t think so. I’d like to think they’d stay on Earth, carry on with the same faces, with new characters behind them. They would be new, different and fresh.

But we’re counting our chickens again. Let’s get to Season One first…

 

 

 

 

Another project we have had no news on is Hard Boiled.

I don’t buy it. Initially I didn’t but it because it was so far out of Ben Wheatley’s Wheelhouse.

Now I accept he could make it, but only if it could be made.

Huh?

Take a look at the source material. It is Bugf***.

The level of detail there, the strangeness of it. It just cannot be done.

It can’t be done because it will be too expensive, even with CG the level of visual detail is insane. Even if you shoot, I don’t know, Cambodia (that should be pretty cheap to film in) it will be too expensive.

It can’t be done because it is crazy dirty weird. It is, nobody will finance a film with that much strangeness and filth… and it is a pity.

It can’t be done because no-one knows what is; it is not a “Brand”, before you start shouting. I know what it is, I bought the issues when they were new. I know who Geoff Darrow is I know who Frank Miller is.

Do a street survey and see how many other people know.

You can make deal to make a Hard Boiled movie, but you can’t make a Hard Boiled movie.

 

 

 

 

 

And in other news

 

What Ridley is Not Doing

 

Back in September 2016 Ridley Scot grabbed up the rights of Don Winslow’s unpublished manuscript before it even had a title.

Now we know what is happening to it.

First of all, it now has a title: The Force; NYPD Sergeant Denny Malone has to juggle personal and professional issues amid a city about to explode in racial conflict. A situation complicated by the fact that he has been bought and paid for by one of the city’s biggest drug gangs.

 

The book will be published in June.

And the feature has a director. James Mangold.

The screenwriter has yet to be announced, and there is shooting or release schedule.

 

There is now a Japanese release date for Fullmetal Alchemist Live Action

by Warner Bros. Pictures on December 1st 2017. There is no North American release yet but who knows.

Here’s the Trailer again

 

 

 

Arrival is now out on DVD, surprise, it has as many extra features as the Blu-Ray

Highly recommended.

 

 

 

The alien invasion feature Extinction now has a release date: it is January 26, 2018.

 

 

 

‘Round about this time we usually speculate about what’s coming in Sci Fi London. Not this year. Although we can tell you a little about what is actually coming.

The Festival will open with Caught from Jamie Patterson: it is the classic scenario of fugitives who seek refuge at a remote house and take the owners hostage, only these fugitives are alien.

 

And the festival closes with The Rizen from Matt Mitchell. In 1955 secret NATO weapons experiments backfire: one woman has lead a band of survivors out of a horror the military have unleashed. (Hme, sounds like a zombie movie).

 

Sci Fi London are also jumping on the VR bandwagon with Tesla Punk a film in Spherica’s Immersive Combat program.

 

 

 

Reviews for the film Life are coming out and they are mixed. Not good/bad mixed but OK/great mixed. Most notices agree that it is pretty entertaining, though derivative.

A small number of critics are going nuts over it and think it is the greatest thing since sliced bread.

Basically the scenario is Alien-meets-Gravity: an alien organism attacks in the International Space Station.

We’ll see how that goes.

 

 

 

Military horror is again a bit of a thing.

We just had Spectral (Grunting 217), and later on we have been promised Overlord. But it looks like Overlord (Grunting 223) will have direct competition.

Another film based in World War II, Ghosts of War: a squadron assigned to hold a French chateau discovered the building full of malevolent ghosts.

Eric Bress is to direct.

 

 

 

 

Paramount is to adapt Garth Ennis’ comic The Pro; a prostitute who wakes up one day with superhero powers.

Well, that won’t be controversial.

Zoe McCarthy to write the screenplay.

 

 

 

 

 

*thank you William Goldman

 

 

 

 

 

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.

http://www.darkhorizons.com/

 

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

http://www.starburstmagazine.com/reviews/DVD-and-blu-ray-home-entertainment-reviews

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Grunting at the Screen (226)

18 Mar

 

 

 

The information age isn’t finished with us.

 

OK, March, what’s fresh and funky? GITS of course, Life,

MindGamers

The Void

The Belko Experiment

 

The Discovery on Netflix…

 

and some rehash movies. But what the hey.

 

And there is Logan.

We had no intention of watching this. The first Wolverine movie had so much potential, and threw it away. The Second was better, but dissolved into a standard GCI action-fest at the end.

Now all the reviews are saying this is anything but standard. Anything but a regular

superhero movie.

And oh yes, they all say it is very, very good.

All of them; critics in agreement, well it happens, but not really with something positive to say.

You know, the sequel that is better than the original is a rare thing. Even in this era when knock-off sequels are far more seldom. As good as, yes. Better? Not so much; but it seems every Wolverine film is slightly better than its predecessor…

 

 

 

 

 

 

Reviews for The Great Wall are popping up. They all say it is silly, they all say it is fun.

Ah, why not.

 

 

MindGamers has a release date, it is March 28th. This is to coincide with a “global mind experiment”, which I read as “global marketing exercise”.

 

 

 

Here is something cool, a movie based on an idea rather than a label: The Mandela Effect: there is a phenomenon where people misremember an event on mass. It got its name from the persistent rumour that Nelson Mandela died in prison.

What if people are not misremembering? What if it is reality itself in flux?

Script is by Steffen Schlachtenhaufen. Director is to be David Guy Levy.

It’s being cast and will shoot in June.

 

 

 

 

 

Generally I ignore rumours. But when the tip comes from the horse’s mouth then I have to take note.

Neil Blomkamp has been suggesting he will not be making an Alien sequel.

I guess the only one happy about that is me.

I’ve been keeping an eye out for what he does next, and something has emerged; but only as a frustration hint on his twitter stream.

First he said

“Excited to show Mr [William] Gibson some stuff.”

Then “See! Totally new stuff coming in six months?”

You know, it’s worse than a rumour, it tells us nothing;

For a start we know it is not one of the things we have heard before, not a sequel to his three original Science Fiction features, or an expanded version of one of his shorts.

It is not one of the projects previously mooted “The Gone World.”

Guess we’ll find out. In six months.

 

 

OK, Straight to disk.

 

Train to Busan has made it onto UK DVD, I’m not one for zombie movies, but reviews suggest this is one of the best recent ones.

And the disk has extra features too.

 

 

Also on the shelf this month is Supernatural Forces. The title is not familiar, let’s check the cover.

Ah, it seems this is in fact “the Mind’s Eye” (Grunt 188)

And more significantly, this one has actually been well reviewed.

What we have here is a take on those old-school psychic movies like Scanners.

Graham Skipper plays a fugitive psychokinetic being chased by (presumably mad) doctor John Speredakos who wants to turn his power into a weapon.

Many names have been evoked here: John Carpenter, David Cronenberg, Stephen King; and in an approving tone.

Yet they changed the name.

What is going on here, some kind of “anti-branding” where product is given the least recognisable labels to…? I have no idea what the purpose might be.

OK, let’s be unfair; lately in fandom there has been fetish for practical FX over CG, and “Supernatural Forces” is one hundred percent practical with reportedly fine execution.

It is the quality of storytelling I am after, and there might be something going for it in this regard too.

Anyway, I’m a sucker for this kind of thing and if you are too it is now available.

 

 

 

Which brings to mind.

Lately there has been a vogue for two things: practical FX and 80s nostalgia. These things go hand in hand. There has been a rising tide, the most visible example has been stranger Things, but it is far from the only one.

Inanimate/Harbinger Down evoked sea based horror like Deep Star Six and Leviathan.

Infini was reminiscent of Alien and its many homages.

Turbo Kid was a nod to Mad Max

Manborg again Mad Max.

The Void a mix of various John Carpenter: Prince of Darkness, The Thing.

Somnus another alien tribute.

 

Why are we seeing this now? The usual reason is demographic; those who were teenagers in the 80s now have the power to get film and TV made, and they choose to bring back the things they know and love.

 

But let us be realistic, like all trends it will only last so long and it will have both good and bad entries.

 

 

 

So Tomorrow and Tomorrow (Grunting -129) now has a director; Matt Ross (Captain Fantastic).

This is the one where the investigation of a murder in a virtual city uncovers a vast conspiracy.

As of yet there’s no word of cast or schedule.

 

 

 

OK, Dune, I just can’t let it go.

Assuming, as we were, that this film actually gets made there is one burning question: black stillsuits, totally unacceptable or just a regrettable idea?

Back in the eighties the one good aspect of Dune was the costume design, it should have been, it was by the great Bob Ringwood.

But black stillsuits, are you serious. Is there a worse colour to be under the desert sun in, and in rubber? (Maybe that would one useful during the cold dessert nights but really.

I don’t really blame Bob Ringwood, a designer makes what he is told to, and so much of his other stuff was great.

So what colour should a stillsuit actually be?

Sand colour of course; with some creative cinematography they can make sand camouflage suits visible when they have to be and disappear against the dunes when appropriate.

 

Glad I got that out.

 

Meanwhile back to length, I previously suggested the only way to do justice to the breadth of Dune’s story was to split it in two.

But . There. Is. Another. Way.

When legendary Studios bought the rights to Dune they got both the Film and television rights, maybe that was to prevent some other company making a TV version while they were dithering over the movie, maybe they wanted to put Dune on the big screen and the subsequent books relegated to broadcast.

But I have another idea.

They could make film four to six hours of Dune; carefully cut a two and a half hour feature version, but then release a six hour mini-series version with the extra footage on TV. In essence do deliberately something similar to what was done accidentally with the David Lynch film.

 

Now, I have no information suggestion that this is what they intend, but it is a possibility.

 

Which has gained sudden relevance.

An interesting thing happened at the Kong: Skull Island release, bear with me; some critics were praising it for its shortness, they were making snide comments about Peter Jackson’s bloated productions.

Is the tide turning? Is the age of the overlong epic coming to an end?

That is very relevant to future productions, this is very relevant to Dune.

Dune needs a certain amount of space, will it fit into these slimmed-down times?

 

So, where should Dune be filmed?

My first inclination is to Say Morocco; it is where Ridley Scott made The Martian, and Kingdom of Heaven and Black Hawk Down.

Then I remembered that Denis Villeneuve is not making Dune with Ridley Scott. (No, He’s making Blade Runner 2049 with Ridley Scott).

OK, it is unlikely the sands of Morocco will stand in for those of Arrakis.

 

Since Legendary is producing Dune, how about China? They have desert. And it is pretty cheap to film out there. They will get more bang for the buck there.

 

Anyway, we are in that wonderful twilight area; the film has been mooted but it has not yet disappointed us… So we can speculate on how good it could be.

 

Who should write it? Who would you cast (actually I am pretty flexible on this question)?

 

The last thing that bugs me is just who will write the screenplay?

What we know is that Denis Villeneuve has his own particular vision.

We also know that Legendary Pictures has not imposed a script on Villeneuve, we know that because he has said in interview that it has not been written yet.

 

I got to say it is a poisoned chalice. Even of the new writer is unaware of the prestige of the material they are dealing with, it is still a massive tome to reduce to feature film size. I wouldn’t wish it on any… hey, maybe one of the Game of Throne writers could give it a shot, it should be child’s play to them.

 

 

 

 

Blame! is being called a cyberpunk story: based in a city so vast it extends to the orbits of the Gas Giants, I’d say that is questionable, but the imagery is interesting.

What is interesting is the original manga creator was Tsutomu Nihei, who produced some concept art for the abandoned Neuromancer feature.

Blame! already had a cell anime series, but it has been trying to get a CGI feature going for a while. The original studio Basara, went bust before that could happen.

Well, another company, Polygon Pictures, has taken over and it looks like the feature is finally coming.

Here is the trailer.

 

 

 

We last ran into The Last Scout back in Grunting at the Screen (164), thought it had vanished into straight to video hell, but we just found a trailer

It goes to VOD in the US March 7th.

 

 

 

Director Dan Trachtenberg has signed on for Space Race, a Science Fiction feature written by Daniel Kunka.

Other than that details are thin.

It is described as “high concept with four-quadrant tentpole potential”.

Huh?

They’ve lost me.

“High concept: means is the idea is simple as f*** (which is probably why they are keeping it close to their chests, anyone can copy it)

“Tentpole” suggests they think it will be big (oh dear, they may also sink a tone of cash into this one.

“Four-quadrant”? You’ve lost me there.

Essentially they are telling us nothing. However, there is the title; “Space Race”.

It couldn’t be that simple? A bunch of people compete in a race across space; perhaps in spaceships maybe in space yacht, or maybe space bikes (it could happen!)

 

Well, more new if it happens. These “secret ” projects tend to wither secretly on the vine.

 

 

 

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.

http://www.darkhorizons.com/

 

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

http://www.starburstmagazine.com/reviews/DVD-and-blu-ray-home-entertainment-reviews

Grunting at the Screen (225)

6 Mar


The information age isn’t finished with us.

OK, March, what’s fresh and funky? GITS of course, Life,
MindGamers
The Void
The Belko Experiment

The Discovery on Netflix…

and some rehash movies. But what the hey.

And there is Logan.
We had no intention of watching this. The first Wolverine movie had so much potential, and threw it away. The Second was better, but dissolved into a standard GCI action-fest at the end.
Now all the reviews are saying this is anything but standard. Anything but a regular
superhero movie.
And oh yes, they all say it is very, very good.
All of them; critics in agreement, well it happens, but not really with something positive to say.
You know, the sequel that is better than the original is a rare thing. Even in this era when knock-off sequels are far more seldom. As good as, yes. Better? Not so much; but it seems every Wolverine film is slightly better than its predecessor…

Reviews for The Great Wall are popping up. They all say it is silly, they all say it is fun.
Ah, why not.

MindGamers has a release date, it is March 1st. This is to coincide with a “global mind experiment”, which I read as “global marketing exercise”.

Here is something cool, a movie based on an idea rather than a label: The Mandela Effect: there is a phenomenon where people misremember an event on mass. It got its name from the persistent rumour that Nelson Mandela died in prison.
What if people are not misremembering? What if it is reality itself in flux?
Script is by Steffen Schlachtenhaufen. Director is to be David Guy Levy.
It’s being cast and will shoot in June.

Generally I ignore rumours. But when the tip comes from the horse’s mouth then I have to take note.
Neil Blomkamp has been suggesting he will not be making an Alien sequel.
I guess the only one happy about that is me.
I’ve been keeping an eye out for what he does next, and something has emerged; but only as a frustration hint on his twitter stream.
First he said
“Excited to show Mr [William] Gibson some stuff.”
Then “See! Totally new stuff coming in six months?”
You know, it’s worse than a rumour, it tells us nothing;
For a start we know it is not one of the things we have heard before, not a sequel to his three original Science Fiction features, or an expanded version of one of his shorts.
It is not one of the projects previously mooted “The Gone World.”
Guess we’ll find out. In six months.

OK, Straight to disk.

Train to Busan has made it onto UK DVD, I’m not one for zombie movies, but reviews suggest this is one of the best recent ones.
And the disk has extra features too.

Also on the shelf this month is Supernatural Forces. The title is not familiar, let’s check the cover.
Ah, it seems this is in fact “the Mind’s Eye” (Grunt 188)
And more significantly, this one has actually been well reviewed.
What we have here is a take on those old-school psychic movies like Scanners.
Graham Skipper plays a fugitive psychokinetic being chased by (presumably mad) doctor John Speredakos who wants to turn his power into a weapon.
Many names have been evoked here: John Carpenter, David Cronenberg, Stephen King; and in an approving tone.
Yet they changed the name.
What is going on here, some kind of “anti-branding” where product is given the least recognisable labels to…? I have no idea what the purpose might be.
OK, let’s be unfair; lately in fandom there has been fetish for practical FX over CG, and “Supernatural Forces” is one hundred percent practical with reportedly fine execution.
It is the quality of storytelling I am after, and there might be something going for it in this regard too.
Anyway, I’m a sucker for this kind of thing and if you are too, it is now available.

Which brings to mind.
Lately there has been a vogue for two things: practical FX and 80s nostalgia. These things go hand in hand. There has been a rising tide, the most visible example has been stranger Things, but it is far from the only one.
Inanimate/Harbinger Down evoked sea based horror like Deep Star Six and Leviathan.
Infini was reminiscent of Alien and its many homages.
Turbo Kid was a nod to Mad Max
Manborg again Mad Max.
The Void a mix of various John Carpenter: Prince of Darkness, The Thing.
Somnus another alien tribute.

Why are we seeing this now? The usual reason is demographic; those who were teenagers in the 80s now have the power to get film and TV made, and they choose to bring back the things they know and love.

But let us be realistic, like all trends it will only last so long and it will have both good and bad entries.

So Tomorrow and Tomorrow (Grunting -129) now has a director; Matt Ross (Captain Fantastic).
This is the one where the investigation of a murder in a virtual city uncovers a vast conspiracy.
As of yet there’s no word of cast or schedule.

OK, Dune, I just can’t let it go.
Assuming, as we were, that this film actually gets made there is one burning question: black stillsuits, totally unacceptable or just a regrettable idea?
Back in the eighties the one good aspect of Dune was the costume design, it should have been, it was by the great Bob Ringwood.
But black stillsuits, are you serious. Is there a worse colour to be under the desert sun in, and in rubber? (Maybe that would one useful during the cold dessert nights but really.
I don’t really blame Bob Ringwood, a designer makes what he is told to, and so much of his other stuff was great.
So what colour should a stillsuit actually be?
Sand colour of course; with some creative cinematography they can make sand camouflage suits visible when they have to be and disappear against the dunes when appropriate.

Glad I got that out.

Meanwhile back to length, I previously suggested the only way to do justice to the breadth of Dune’s story was to split it in two.
But . There. Is. Another. Way.
When legendary Studios bought the rights to Dune they got both the Film and television rights, maybe that was to prevent some other company making a TV version while they were dithering over the movie, maybe they wanted to put Dune on the big screen and the subsequent books relegated to broadcast.
But I have another idea.
They could make film four to six hours of Dune; carefully cut a two and a half hour feature version, but then release a six hour mini-series version with the extra footage on TV. In essence do deliberately something similar to what was done accidentally with the David Lynch film.

Now, I have no information suggestion that this is what they intend, but it is a possibility.

Which has gained sudden relevance.
An interesting thing happened at the Kong: Skull Island release, bear with me; some critics were praising it for its shortness, they were making snide comments about Peter Jackson’s bloated productions.
Is the tide turning? Is the age of the overlong epic coming to an end?
That is very relevant to future productions, this is very relevant to Dune.
Dune needs a certain amount of space, will it fit into these slimmed-down times?

So, where should Dune be filmed?
My first inclination is to Say Morocco; it is where Ridley Scott made The Martian, and Kingdom of Heaven and Black Hawk Down.
Then I remembered that Denis Villeneuve is not making Dune with Ridley Scott. (No, He’s making Blade Runner 2049 with Ridley Scott).
OK, it is unlikely the sands of Morocco will stand in for those of Arrakis.

Since Legendary is producing Dune, how about China? They have desert. And it is pretty cheap to film out there. They will get more bang for the buck there.

Anyway, we are in that wonderful twilight area; the film has been mooted but it has not yet disappointed us… So we can speculate on how good it could be.

Who should write it? Who would you cast (actually I am pretty flexible on this question)?

The last thing that bugs me is just who will write the screenplay?
What we know is that Denis Villeneuve has his own particular vision.
We also know that Legendary Pictures has not imposed a script on Villeneuve, we know that because he has said in interview that it has not been written yet.

I got to say it is a poisoned chalice. Even of the new writer is unaware of the prestige of the material they are dealing with, it is still a massive tome to reduce to feature film size. I wouldn’t wish it on any… hey, maybe one of the Game of Throne writers could give it a shot, it should be child’s play to them.

Blame! is being called a cyberpunk story: based in a city so vast it extends to the orbits of the Gas Giants, I’d say that is questionable, but the imagery is interesting.
What is interesting is the original manga creator was Tsutomu Nihei, who produced some concept art for the abandoned Neuromancer feature.
Blame! already had a cell anime series, but it has been trying to get a CGI feature going for a while. The original studio Basara, went bust before that could happen.
Well, another company, Polygon Pictures, has taken over and it looks like the feature is finally coming.
Here is the trailer.

We last ran into The Last Scout back in Grunting at the Screen (164), thought it had vanished into straight to video hell, but we just found a trailer

It goes to VOD in the US March 7th.

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.
http://www.darkhorizons.com/

And if you want to walk the wild side of genre video try Starburst’s review section
http://www.starburstmagazine.com/reviews/DVD-and-blu-ray-home-entertainment-reviews