Archive | April, 2017

Grunting at the Screen (229)

18 Apr





The information age isn’t finished with us.



What the F*** is Ridley Doing? No Really!

You know, every time we think we’ve figured what Ridley Scott is doing he blindsides us.

I’m sure it is not personally directed at the fans, just a defence mechanism against the film industry, but still.

So what has he done now?

You know he announced he would directing one Alien movie after another (the sequel to Alien: Covenant is already written), and you know he then announced his next film would be All the Money in the World the kidnap drama.

That in itself puts Alien 6 (or Prometheus 3… who knows) three years away: figure it out, a year for All the Money in the World and two at least for another Alien.

Well he’s just gone and signed for another film. And it isn’t even one of the numerous projects on his backburner (he has a backburner bigger than the Dorchester Hotel’s kitchen). Oh no Ridley’s latest project is an unnamed Battle of Britain feature; screenplay is by Matthew Orton and 20th Century Fox is behind it.

When is he going to have time for this?

Don’t get me wrong, I don’t care if he never makes another Alien film, he has been there and done that (superbly).

But it drives me nuts; what is he doing?



We have more information on Sci Fi London 2017 programme.

Also screening are.

Diverge: Director James Morrison

The Kaos Brief: Director JP Mandarino

Caught: Director Jamie Patterson

Anti Matter: Director Keir Burrows

The Last Scout: Director Simon Phillips

The Gatheouse: Director Martin Gooch

Occupants: Director Russ Emanuel

Virtual Revolution: Director Guy-Roger Duvert

The End of the Lonely Island: Director Ren Chao Wang

Domain: Director Nathaniel Atcheson

Sublimate: Directors Roger Armstrong, John Hickman

Space Detective: Director Antonio Llapur


Some of these we have covered before.

The Last Scout: British movie, humanity’s search for a new home planet. Was due for release two years ago.

Virtual Revolution: French, yes it is that low budget cyberpunk thing. From the trailer it looks very generic.

Domain: social media during the viral holocaust.

(In fact three of Sci Fi London’s features take place during or in the wake of some kind of pandemic disaster: do they know something we don’t?)





This is big news, although you may not see it as.

Invincible will be a movie.

OK, you likely don’t read it but Invincible is a comic written by Robert (The walking Dead) Kirkman.

Yes, it is a superhero comic. But it is more.

See it started as a comic for all the family, the story of a boy who gets super powers and comes to terms with it while having relationships, dealing with family etc. So far so Spider-Man.

Then in issue seven the equivalent of the Justice League in this universe are brutally murdered.

I dunno, maybe Kirkman just got bored of the “leave it to beaverness” of it, but from there it gets brutal, with secrets, alien invasions, worldwide crises and battles that leave all parties beaten to bloody pulp. What happened dude? OK, it is unspeakably violent, but a really different take on the superhero genre.

Now it will be a film,

Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg are to write and direct and as long as Rogen is not playing the title character it should be fine.




I am staying on top of the Dune project, latest news is that Eric Roth will write the screenplay.

It’s a classy choice he’s written Forrest Gump, The Insider and The Curious Case of Benjamin Button.

And he’s not a ‘genre” writer so emphasis is going to be character not FX.

It’s cool.




It should not surprise me but Ghost in the Shell will get a new anime feature, it will be directed by Kamiyama Kenji and Aramaki Shinji.




The Recall hasn’t got a release date but Wesley Snipes has another feature lined up: Armed Response directed by John Stockwell, written by Matt Savelloni from WWE Studios. Anne Heche, Gene Simmons and Dave Annable co-star.

A highly trained armed team is trapped in a compound where the central AI has been shut down, they begin to experience strange phenomena.

Sounds like the start of every zombie film. (I do hope it is not zombies).

More details as they emerge.





Activision Blizzard Studio are planning to build a cinematic universe around their Call of Duty, property. Because that worked so well with Ubisoft and Assassin’s Creed.

Wait, this imaginary thing in my ear tells me attempts to boost Ubisoft game property to the big screen have in fact crashed and burned.

They have plans for at least three films with the first arriving as early as 2018.

Well maybe Activision Blizzard Studio will have better luck.





In Grunting (224) we blogged Ad Astra, the feature that goes into space but goes nowhere near the stars (unless you count Sol… no, wait, they are going the other way.)

Well it has a schedule now. Brad Pitt will be shooting on July 17th. He will play an astronaut on a voyage to Neptune in search of the fate of his father who disappeared earlier.

Director James Gray is very bullish about it; he wants to give us the most authentic version of space travel in a movie yet. Looks like he’s going up against the biggest swinging d… er.. the most illustrious directors on earth. Good luck with that. I predict he will get caned by the same folk who gave Gravity a thrashing.

Nevertheless I am glad Brad Pitt is getting into the Science Fiction game, he’s been out of it since 12 Monkeys (Come on! World War Z was a fantasy.)

And you know what? We like ambition. We’ll keep on top of it.





What’s Neill Blomkamp Doing?

Since he finished Chappie there has been some speculation about what the District 9 director would do next. For a while it looked like he would do a sequel to Aliens, but Ridley Scott put the kibosh on that one.

Lately he has been hinting at an original project he’s been working on; but without giving specifics.

Latest word from his twitter account is him asking if people would be interested in him putting his experimental films on the Steam Games web-site, as tests for potential feature films.

He is making the short films right now and the main question is whether to give them away for free.


In fact the plan is to release them on Steam via a company called Oats Studios.

Author William Gibson has had a preview and he says ” I can personally vouch for @NeillBlomkamp having some exquisitely weird shit to show you on Steam.”






So we mentioned Warriors Gate back in… oh, we don’t seem to have blogged it.

Anyway, produced by Luc Besson and starring Dave Batiste.  It’s a fantasy adventure and it has a trailer.

A boy is transported from his ordinary life to China where his video-game skills make him a warrior.

It has a Chinese release on August 5, 2016, no UK or US release as yet.





We are hearing about a new science fiction feature called Occupation; a band of small town residents fight to resist an alien invasion. Director/writer is Luke Sparke, Tempera Morrison and Dan Ewing will star.

Shooting commences in Northern New South Wales and the Gold Coast, Australia on May 2.




Now this is something: Needle In A Timestack, an adaptation of Robert Silverberg’s short story: Time travel is real, it is happening now, in fact time travellers are back there changing your present as we speak, Mikkelsen is married to  Janine but Tommy  is trying to split them up, using time travel. It is up to Mikkelsen to figure out what Tommy has done, and stop him.

This one is loaded with potential: writer/director is John Ridley. No cast or schedule yet.




Coming soon is Alienate, directed by Michael Shumway, written Rick Hansberry by and Lex Hogan: aeroplanes fall out of the sky, cell towers fail and David fights to return home in the wake of an alien invasion.  Limited opening in theatres and VOD on May 5th.




Full Metal Alchemist second trailer is out, you’ll need a Google apps account

















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






And if you want some real movie news you know what to do.


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





Grunting at the Screen (228)

3 Apr

The information age isn’t finished with us.

We are hearing the search is on for a director of the live-action Akira, personally we will not believe a thing until filming begins.

And to be honest Akira needs no live action version.

Ruben Fleischer has been tapped to direct Valiant Comic’s Archer & Armstrong, Terry Rossio will be writing the script; an assassin from a cult is forced to team up with his target (a superhuman immortal) to stop the end of the world.

Now this really gets me going: Hidden Reserves AKA Stille Reserven a feature film by Austrian director Valentin Hitz,

In the near future the insurance business is pretty dread. If you don’t buy death insurance your body is reanimated at death and used as a commodity.

Of course there is a rebellion against this process.

The story is about an insurance agent who infiltrates one of the rebel groups to bring it down.

I gather the plot is kind of complex.

I’ve see the trailer, and it’s got me excited because it has one of those vast body storage facilities which have been come a science fiction trope, like in Blade III or Daybreakers.

But it all seems to come from the era before Science Fiction was a branch of action cinema, back when it was all about ideas.


There have been rumour of Robert Rodriguez being involved in a certain reboot, I’m not interested but what is known is that he’s taking on his first animation.

Oh cool is it Heavy Metal?

Er, no.

His debut in the animated world will be Ugly Dolls. It is a toy based movie deriving from the Uglydoll line produced by Pretty Ugly, LLC.

No schedule, but it should be interesting.

Generally I object to Toys turning into movies because, toys don’t come with a narrative. Well usually, I have done a little digging and it appears that the Uglydoll concept came in concert with its own stories. Hme.

We’ve already mentioned Hasraf “HaZ” Dulull’s film Origin Unknown, it turns out this was his second feature. His first one was the documentary-styled film: The Beyond.

The first interstellar mission is in progress and we have sent a crew of enhanced astronauts. This one is (loosely) based on Dulull’s short film Project Kronos.

There is already a trailer and it is headed for the festival circuit.


It seems at this point I need to make an apology. Back in Grunting (144) I may have suggested that Scott Glassgold was guilty of hoovering up all of the very best short film projects and letting them lay fallow: well lately everything is coming up roses for him.

Hasraf Dulull: is making Origin Unknown, and The Beyond

Stephan Zlotescu: is having True Skin produced as a series at Amazon Studios.

Progress is happening.



Life: Review

Life may not last forever, but it certainly can feel that way. The beginning is really boring. In the first half hour I nearly dropped off a couple of times.

You know the score; a Martian probe with a soil sample arrives at the International Space Station. They examine it and find life, They feed the organism and of course it grows, attacks and kills them all.

Oh Shoot! Spoiler Alert!

Forget what I said; the alien gives them flowers and chocolates, takes them to dinner and everyone gets a kiss on the doorstep.

(Now, won’t you be surprised when it kills every one!)

It is reasonably executed, the performances are adequate, the FX are fine, there is no sign of crappieness in the CG. On a technical level it is OK.

All the publicity has been running this as “Alien meets Gravity” , but interestingly enough, it actually plays more like Alien meets Gravity: you have lots of squeezing though tight spaces, futile attempts to kill the beast, tumbling around in spacesuits outside, space trash flying around and the obligatory decompression scene.

Hey, I propose the Air Prize: a prize awarded to any movie set in space where decompression is not one of the scenes, because this shit has gotten old.

And of course it has some quiet scenes, where I almost go to sleep again. I don’t know what it is, have I seen so many space movies that it all seems routine now?

There are some of the usual illogicalities, though less than usual in a Science Fiction movie.

But it is not all bad, it moves along quickly enough (really, it wasn’t slow, just kind boring) there is some action.

And you know what? I actually enjoyed it. But not until the end. You’ll see.



Reviews for Ghost in the Shell are turning up, inevitably mixed, after all of the negative publicity you can only expect it leak into the criticism. They all note or praise the visuals. There is less joy concerning the story. Some however are quite enthusiastic.

On the whole they are positive.

The Ghost in the Shell Anime is a classic, not just of animation but of Science Fiction. In my humble opinion it is the finest example of cyberpunk committed to film.

Should it have been adapted to a live action feature? Probably not.

Should Rupert Sanders have been the director? The jury is out.

The thing is Ghost in the Shell has already been sequelised all to hell, another feature, a couple of TV series, a DTV feature.

Live action was the next step.

It should probably have been a Japanese production. But we have what we have.

Ghost in the Shell: The Review

There is a film that casts a shadow over the Live Action Ghost in the Shell film, a film that informs and guides it, that foreshadowed it.

And that film, of course is Johnny Mnemonic. I am dead serious . and if you know Jack you’d know I don’t joke about the really strange things.

Like Johnny Mnemonic, Ghost in the Shell is about a hero with amnesia and the return of memory.

Unlike Johnny Mnemonic, this plot point takes centre place and it actually works.

You will see a lot here familiar from the 1995 anime: iconic scenes are lifted and reproduced “en vivo”. Not just the action scenes, there are quiet character moments that transfer as well. But the original plot and themes are not present. The scenes are attached to a brand new plot spine built around the missing memory of the Major, as played by Scarlett Johansson.

This is an emotional plot about the search for and discovery of memory and identity. Very different from the more abstracted and philosophical theme of the anime.

And you know what? It is the right decision and it works. The cold and intellectual treatment of the previous material would not have worked for a Western audience and it would not have worked in live action.


This is a very visual movie and the visuals are sumptuous and alluring: the megalithic city is huge busy, colourful and bright. A contrast to a say more famous depiction of the urban future; not as original, but certainly not inadequate.

The action scenes are tough, fast, impressive; but as ever often cut to tightly to precisely follow the motion, but no more than the normal action movie.

The CG is reasonable, and some of what you may assume is CG has actually been done right there in front of the camera.

Scarlett Johansson is impressive, of course she is cold and mechanical, she plays a full body cyborg, but as the film progresses she reveals a quite affecting and yes human character.

And Takeshi Kitano plays it as if he’d stepped off the set of Sonatine: do not mess with the old-school.

There are some cute Easter eggs that will gladden fans that have brought an open mind; my favourite being Batou’s Basset hound (subject of an extended cameo in Ghost in the Shell: Innocence.)

And there are changes beyond the story, if you are the cute Tachikoma spider-tanks of the Manga and Anime, then prepare to run in terror; the live tanks are like M1s on columns.

But this is a big (well low end big) budget action Science fiction movie, so you know it will be all about the fights and the FX. You know there will be a big CG climax. This is a given.

How is it handled? It passes.

Do you know what? A third of the way into the film I stopped judging the film and started enjoying the immersion, the characters and the story. And by the time we reach the end I’m quite stirred.

Yes, this is the cyberpunk movie we have been waiting for. purer that The Matrix, better executed than Johnny Mnemonic.

I have no qualms in apologising to director Rupert Sanders; I didn’t think he could pull it off but he has.

I would have satisfied if they had just not screwed it up, but this is a little more; this is good, not great, but very satisfactory and you should see it.

Oh yes, stay until the end titles, you will get a treat; and no it is NOT a post credit scene.

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

And if you want some real movie news you know what to do.

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