Archive | May, 2017

Grunting at the Screen (231)

20 May




The information age isn’t finished with us.




The Net is evil; we know that because cheap horror movies tell us.

Confirmation comes from forthcoming action film, Guns Akimbo, starring Daniel Radcliffe. He plays a man lured into an on-line gladiatorial competition.

It has been written and directed by Jason Lei Howden.

It is currently in pre-production.




Rob “the Fast & the Furious” Cohen has been tapped as director for Everette Hartsoe’s comic, Razor: Nicole Mitchell has become the crime fighting vigilante known as Razor.

Here’s a thing, Cohen’s been hired to make the film and its sequel which has a name, Stryke.

I love it when studios do this kind of stuff. There is technical term in the film industry, it’s called: counting your chickens before they hatch.

And we’ve seen it before, on the eve of a release you get the marketing blurb “we are so excited about this one, we’ve already greenlit the sequel.”* You wouldn’t guess how often this is followed by a film crashing and burning.

So, let’s just let the audience decide whether there will be a sequel.

No word on screenwriter, cast or start date.




Now this is what I’ve been looking for: Extrasensory, a film starring Toby Kebbell, directed by Lesley Manning with a screenplay by Stephen Volk.

Twin brothers are recruited by Soviet intelligence to test telepathy.

Usually I’d be saying it had no start date, but actually shooting will commence in late October 2017.




We mentioned Kill Switch back in Grunt (230), well it has a limited release date now: it has a US release from June 16th.




We also have news on the surveillance thriller Captive State, Grunt (222), no wait, the alien surveillance thriller: we have a US release date; August 17, 2018.





Now this is interesting.

Netflix has signed a deal with Ridley Scott to adapt JG Ballard’s “Hello America” as a feature.

No world on writer, director or schedule yet.





Alien: Covenant.


One of the big surprises to me was that he surrendered the director’s chair of Blade Runner: 2049, but held onto Alien: Covenant.

He’d just done The Martian, why would he want to do another space movie? It seemed like he had unfinished business.


Honestly I thought he was aiming to finish the business of Prometheus while hiding his intention under the “Alien” label, but interviews suggest he is really going for it.

Which is a pity because another Alien sequel is not that interesting, we know all the moves. And Prometheus deserves to have a proper conclusion.



Alien: Covenant is upon us.

I haven’t blogged much comment about it. And if it wasn’t a film directed by Ridley Scott I wouldn’t be seeing it at all.

I have concerns, but likely not those that the rest of the audience has.

It of course follows on from Prometheus, a film that made moderate Box Office but attracted a lot of (I’d say unnecessary) vituperation.

There were various objections, but I believe it boiled down to the fact that Prometheus didn’t give us the familiar Alien formula established over six previous films. (For Alien movies, and Two Alien Vs. Predator.) This was a deliberate strategy spearheaded by the studio (not the director or writers.)

I suspect the audience for Alien: Covenant will be suspicious that there will be more of the same.

I pretty much know they will be wrong.

From the name itself (marking it as an Alien film not a Prometheus sequel) to the elements (all of the usual tropes are present: eggs, facehuggers, xenomorphs) this is solidly the Alien movie the audience expected… last time.

This deliberate, Ridley Scott took to heart the criticisms of Prometheus and determined to make a crowd-pleaser. However he also placing himself. The Engineers from Prometheus are back, and so are the ideas of creation and origins previously touched on.

Will this be enough? Crowds are notoriously difficult to please. The Matrix sequels gave as much action ass you could want in two films, but because they mixed philosophy in there to the audience howled (They still bought tickets even while howling.)

Well in Alien Covenant, whatever epic ideas Ridley Scott has about Alien Gods and the origin of man will be underpinned by well tested narrative of chestbursting aliens picking off humans one by one.

And that is the problem.

I own an Alien film, I own six. Why do I want something I’ve already seen? I guess it’s just me.


Anyway, I made this bed for myself and I’m prepared for the backache.

Meanwhile a review has emerged, and it is positive. Hme.

We’ll see.





So What Is Ridley Doing?

Back in Grunt (229) we expressed consternation* at the opacity of Ridley Scott’s future plans.

Uncharacteristically he has now revealed them unambiguously.

First he will make ‘All the Money in the World’ (Which is casting right now) then The Cartel.

And in a year he will be making the next Alien prequel, for a release in fourteen months’ time. I’m going to be literal about this and say September or October 2019.

(And oh yes, he may have another after that.)

Well finally that is clear.

(Let’s just say we don’t believe a word of this)







Alien Covenant.


Pretty much the only thing that really didn’t work was the prologue with David and Weyland talking about their quest to find the creators. A little stiff and not necessary in story terms.


There is a lot familiar here. This is a film of homages. The title sequence is classic Alien, with the letters slowly emerging sideways. There is a reappearance of Jerry Goldsmith’s familiar title theme. And it does not stop here.


The plot; the Covenant is a colony ship on its way to an earth-like planet when it intercepts a message that appears to be human.

They track it down to a paradise planet which might be a closer and more viable target than their colonisation world.


On investigation they find a snake in this Eden (and I am sure the metaphor is very deliberate). If you ever saw an Alien movie you can guess the nature of this hazard.


So we get the return of the Android David from Prometheus but Elizabeth Rapace appears only in drawings.

There is some wired homo-eroticism between androids David and Walters. Not so much “subtext” as just “text”. And some homages to Blade Runner in the dialogue and staging.


The classic forms of the alien organism reappear and there is the requisite amount of action and gore.


This is a Ridley Scott film so the execution is tight, visually it is more than satisfactory (and one of my thoughts was Uh, Oh, Adam Savage has a new spacesuit he needs to build) Oh shoot, he’s already discovered it!

And the pace is good.

In all aspects Scott has polished up the material. The look and performances are up to standard. It is an improvement on 1978’s Alien. And mostly just that.


I was slightly annoyed to see another scene of tobacco smoking in a future-set movie. Really? Is that likely?


On the whole it was very entertaining, very efficient.


But not essential. There is one plot point that advances knowledge of the Alien mythology. However the expected philosophy and depth is barely rushed through: One Shelly poem and a snippet of Wagner do not make a an intellectual feast


It felt like the values of Prometheus had been flipped upside down: Where it had been cerebral, this is visceral, there it has been indirect, this is specific, where it had been strange, this was familiar.


The Engineers re-appear in an unmotivated but enlightening flashback (hme… didn’t think it went that way).


On the whole, if all you want is entertainment, this will be more than adequate; it is as good as any of the Alien sequels. If you wanted it kicked up to the other level in the Direction Prometheus seemed to be heading. Not happening.


There are still a couple of questions left hanging from Prometheus, based on this they will remain unanswered.


You know, this is the first Alien film I feel no desire to own…


Your choice.







Alien: Covenant has had an international opening of $42m, ahead of its US opening.

Thing is, I don’t know if this is a good thing. I think I used to know, but with bigger budgets and even bigger expectations it could mean anything.






*Blind rage.

** Daybreakers, Robin Hood, Real Steel, Conan (reboot) all have unproduced sequels.


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 (230)

10 May




The information age isn’t finished with us.



Blumhouse is a production company known for its hit horror pictures. Lately it has been moving sideways into science fiction. The latest such feature is something called Only You; they are calling it a “time-travel thriller”, but otherwise keeping their cards close to their chests.

David Oyelowo has been cast, Jacob Estes is to write and direct.




OK, we have a release date for Prisoner X, -Grunting (195)- it’s out on VOD and DVD on June 6, 2017.

This is about the interrogation of a time travelling prisoner who started a war.



We are hearing about “Encounter” a feature film by Paul J. Salamoff; four friends discover a crashed space-ship, rescue the alien from it and find themselves being chased by the authorities…hey that’s ET!

Luke Hemsworth is to star.

Shooting commences this month.




Apparently feature film project Gemini Man has been knocking around for two decades; a veteran assassin who has to battle his 25-years-younger clone,

Jerry Bruckheimer originated the project. Digital de-aging technology will likely be used.

The latest director to be linked to it is Ang (Hulk) Lee, but he has not quite signed on yet.

More as it develops.



After the briefest and narrowest of theatrical debuts The Void is out on DVD. And it has extras.

It is deliriously well reviewed.




We have the English subtitled version of the Fullmetal Alchemist trailer.





Marketing for Alien: Covenant is beginning in earnest. It opens in Mid-May and I honestly do not know what to say except I would not be even talking of it if it wasn’t a Ridley Scott film.

Oh, I’ll see it. And then we will know.


You know I have a thing for straight to disk science fiction movies. I live in hope. I really do.

Well, I’m scanning the shelves when I come across “The Winter Soldier”. No seriously, it is not a subtitle it’s just “The Winter Soldier”, they do know the name is somewhat already taken, do they?

Well apparently they do, because after a more than frustrating attempt to look it up, (for some reason another movie keeps coming up). I discover “The Winter Soldier” as directed by Joey Curtis was until recently known as 2307: Winter’s Dream.

Ah that makes sense. It’s another one of those name changing DVDs.

So, that confusion sorted out. I looked up what it was.

Hmme, seems like the title wasn’t all they borrowed. It has an android named Ash-393 being chased across a frozen wasteland by a character called Bishop, This feels like a sad version of Blade Runner on ice with nods to Alien, Aliens and any 80s Science Fiction Action film they can touch on the way down.

If you are jonesing for a cliché, you can find it on all good… er adequate … you can find it in supermarkets.



We finally have a release date for Wesley Snipes’ The Recall: June 16 (there is also a virtual reality release, but we can’t be bothered with that.)



This one came out of nowhere: Kill Switch directed by Tim Smit. A pilot has to save the world when an energy experiment using parallel worlds goes wrong.

it is looking at a limited theatrical release from June 16th.

Here is a typically CG heavy trailer;



Talking of the Black List, ah we weren’t, but were we back in Grunting (219).

Among the screenplays we were talking about was Mother:

“A robot Mother raises a girl in a bunker, until a stranger comes along.” We’ve got more; the earth has been depopulated and the robots are being used to raise a new generations of humans.

Well it looks like Mother is off the shelf. The writer is Michael Lloyd Green, director is Grant Sputore. Clara Rugaard has been cast and it is in preproduction to be shot in Australia.

No start date as yet.


The Black List of unproduced screenplays has a legendary status, but I’m wondering how long it can keep it, with so many of the films that make it off the list crashing and burning…





Finally after many years Upside Down has come to DVD,

“Huh?” You say. we first reported on it back in Grunting at the Screen (81)

and that was a long time ago.

“Upside Down is a romantic fantasy about two worlds inverted from each other, one down, one up, of course you have to have a romance separated by these worlds).”

It was completed and reviewed as long ago as 2013. But this is the first sight I have had of it.

You can get it in legitimate places where DVDs are sold, not just supermarkets








So we have more information on Andy (the Martian) Weir’s next book.

Hey wait a minute, this isn’t a movie!

You know what? I’ll allow it.

Its name is “Artemis” and it is based on the first city on the moon. what it looks like is a crime story with a noirish conspiracy plot attached.

And no sign or any lone spacemen needing rescue.

I like what I am hearing.

It has a publication date on November 14, 2017

… And by the way the film rights have already been sold to Fox and New Regency.

So maybe it fits in after all.






Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2.


…Celestial Huh! Didn’t see that coming..

Anyway, this film is almost unreviewable. Whatever anyone says it will be a huge hit.

Let’s see, the Guardians take a job protecting some sacred batteries , but instead Rocket steals them.

This leads to a deadly chase, an encounter with the past and the possible destruction of most of the universe.

Fundamentally it is story about families and the story is familiar; jut so we never have say this again, the family of choice trumps any biological connection where the connection has been broken for enough years. See. we can move on now.

OK., as expected the FX are competently executed. Baby Groot is cute and dangerous, Gamora is finally allowed to be the most dangerous woman in the universe.

However the whole tone of the film is distracted. Really. It feels like director James Gunn made it while texting, tweeting or doing something else he’d rather be doing.

The only exception is the over-long coda after the climax which becomes an uncomfortable stretch of genuflection after all of the action and clowning.

This makes it sound like I hated the film, but in fact I enjoyed it, it’s very funny and until the end does not flag.

In fact It is better than the first one.

But it’s as inconsequential as any film about the destruction of most of the universe could be. Fun but Fluff.

And yes, there are five (count them) post credit scenes. And yes they are pretty trivial (but what can you expect from the men who gave you Howard the Duck last time?)









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






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


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