Archive | June, 2017

Grunting at the Screen (234)

27 Jun





The information age isn’t finished with us.



Jel much? OK?

John Landis has joined a parade of directors laying into Marvel Studio’s product. Now just assuming the journalist hasn’t been putting words into the interviewee’s mouth, what are we to make of it?

Landis is claiming he’s bored and Marvel movies are interchangeable films about city destruction.


You know I’m not going to address the criticism. You can decide that for yourself.

I’d like to look at the trend:

Mel Gibson ripped into them, Tim Burton claimed they had a formula, Oliver Stone attacked them for their fantasy violence. Peter Jackson crowed that he will never make a Marvel Movie. Steven Spielberg darkly predicted the death of the Comic Book Movie. They pretty much lined up to kick Marvel’s ass.

What unites this august group* is, not only are they directors of stature… but they haven’t directed a Marvel movie.

I’ve no evidence they have even been asked.

Hme. Jel Much?

After The Incredible Hulk, Marvel didn’t use Action oriented directors, and it didn’t use the name directors. Marvel films have been helmed by directors from television, the independent film world, directors who deal in character rather than explosions. And it has worked. While blockbuster Science Fiction has had a variable reception, even in the world of established franchises, Marvel has hit it out of the park with every film from Iron Man onward, it has taken unknown actors and made them superstars, and made hitmakers out of its directors.

How could we not expect a reaction from the old guard because this turns established order on its head; there is no slow march from obscurity to respectability, instead new stars are appearing in our night-skies like supernovae. And the Old Gods are afraid.


(Actually, and I’m showing my cynical side here, they likely have nothing to fear, Disney is making noises that it is bringing its lucrative, if unruly child to heel: future Marvel movies will have more star performers in them, and I don’t doubt this will be followed with star directors and the golden age of Marvel movies will have come to an end.)



We keep files on a lot of kickstarted projects and to be honest many of them fail to come to fruition.

One that I doing quite nicely is Code 8 which we covered back in… ah, let’s start this again.

Although we keep files on kickstarted projects I have doubts that any particular one will go the distance.

Code 8 was one of them.

4% of people have a supernatural ability. This does not make them superheroes, just an underclass subject to 60% of arrests. Robbie Amell one of these “specials” he has a sick mother and is forced into a life of (no doubt supernatural) crime to support her.




It kicked off back in 2016; actors and cousins Stephen Amell (Arrow) and Robbie Amell (Tomorrow People) got together to make a very professionally produced teaser video for a feature film project. It was directed by Jeff Chan.

We’ve seen the trailer and it looks like mutants vs. robots.




They ran an effective marketing campaign highlighting the mysterious nature of the trailer.


This culminated in a successful crowdfunding project that raised $1.7m using


Now the film has been greenlit and it is in production in Toronto; Jeff Chan is directing from a script he co-wrote with Chris Pare.


It has a distribution deal and is looking at 2019 release.




This one snuck up on me: The Gracefield Incident.

Those pesky aliens have invaded again; they have forgone the usual pleasure of demolishing landmarks to invade a weekend getaway party in a mountain cabin.

The unique selling point of this particular fest is one of the partyers has embedded a videocamera in his eye and is filming the whole invasion.

Oh dear, another found footage movie.

This one is written, directed by and starring Mathieu Ratthe.

It gets a limited theatrical release and goes on demand on July 21, 2017



Gearbox Software is planning a Duke Nukem feature film. I never played the game myself, but a friend of mine used to have a big old smile when he did.

Gearbox is working with production houses to put together a deal before making an announcement.

So no word on: director, writer, schedule or cast yet.

Hme. Not as “groovy” as I anticipated.




We mentioned Kill Switch back in Grunt (230) and Grunt (231).

It should be released by now.

The basic story is that an energy project goes wrong and opens the door to a parallel world.

But more information has come to light.

First of all it is a one shot movie; i.e. it is one continuous shot. Second it is all shpt from the stars point of view (not new, we’ve had things like hardcore Henry) But what caught my attention was that the director, Tim Smit, shot the whole thing in four days. Huh? No wait it was 18 days. (He shot the principle actor for four days) but just over two weeks for a feature film is still pretty good. Then he did most of the FX on his home computer. (That took two years.)

It just got interesting.

The last time we were in this territory was with GE’s Monsters; which was interesting.

It was kind of an expansion of Smit’s short film “What’s in the Box?” and strangely no no-one is calling him “the next Neill Blomkamp”.

Tim Smit is working on his second feature.



I read a story that by 2020 Netflix’s earnings in the UK will exceed that of the local entire film industry.


I heard a story that on Oscar Wilde’s deathbed he was begged to repudiate the devil and all his works, his reply was; “Now is not the time to be making enemies”.

I’d give the same advice to the cinematic distribution industry. These are dark days, and the reaction of distributors to the streaming networks has been push back**. They are playing hardball with Netflix over simultaneous streaming and cinematic releases.

But now, when so much is in the balance is not the time to make enemies. Cinemas offer a unique experience, home theatre offers connivance they will work together or one will eat the other. Right now Streaming media has a big mouth and a big belly to feed. It is already pouring cash into making its own product, if cinemas won’t show it why shouldn’t they just buy their own distributors, but their own cinema chains? Studios have owned chains before and soon from now Netflix and Amazon may be the biggest players around.



This seems to have entirely slipped my attention, massively since it is now being reviewed on a major newspaper site.

OtherLife comes out of Australia: OtherLife takes the user to a Virtual Reality which can be experienced though all of the body’s senses, where minutes can expand into subjective years, creator Ren Amari originally pitched it as the ultimate recreation, the government steps in with a proposal to make it a virtual prison,

when Ren finds herself trapped in an experimental digital supermax, she must use all of her resources to mentally survive and get back to reality.

It comes from director Ben C. Lucas.

it is based the Young Adult novel Solitaire by Kelley Eskridge but it has numerous changes from the original, not limited to the central character and the setting.

It just got an Australian release, no word on a wider distribution.




It’s been a good week for me, just turned up is Jahmil XT Qubeka’s Stillborn.

it’s about a robot obsessed with her human ancestry.

None of that sentence makes sense. A gendered robot, with a lineage, which is human, and it is concerned with the whole shebang.

However what everyone is keyed up about is that it comes out of South Africa and has been filmed in the Xhosa language.

It is in the can, and just got selected for the BRICS Film Festival at Chengdu, China. More as we get developments.




OK, we have a release date for Overlord (WWII Paratroopers verses supernatural forces – Grunting 223), it’s October 26th 2018.



Well this is interesting.

Science Fiction Author William Gibson just re-tweeted the Japanese trailer for “2307: Winter’s Dream.

Hme. We blogged this back in Grunt (204) – and I recall we were not very kind.

Here is the trailer, sorry to say, not the Japanese version.


Given so august a patronage we went back and checked if the reviews were more generous than originally thought… nope, still sucks.


So, Mr. Gibson, I’ll “see”*** your straight-to-video cheapy and raise you one Filipino Near- Future social drama.

Just ran into Instalado, directed by Jason Paul Laxamana and starring Mccoy de Leon

Victor is a poor farmer who’d like to advance in life through education, problem is education is archived only by implants called “installation”, and that costs money.

It opens in the Philippines July 12.





André Hedetoft, Swedish director of Origin and the forthcoming Finns Här Några Snälla Barn (I’m not going to explain that) has another project going on, it’s Space Pirates; three young girls scattered across the galaxy discover they are the daughters of notorious space pirates and they each have part of a map to a legendary treasure.

He intends to make it a graphic novel first.

No word of schedule.












*this august group and Roland Emmerich.

** I love that term? Don’t you?

*** No, I don’t think I’ll actually watch it.



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


Grunting at the Screen (233)

17 Jun

The information age isn’t finished with us.


Biopunk snuck past me, it has already got a trailer before I knew it was in production.

What we know: well it not cyberpunk obviously. We have a summary. The world has been devastated by a virus, leaving some people as Altered (capital letter),

this new underclass has been relegated to the ghettos, when an Altered named Resha discovers her brother kidnapped she must venture beyond the city to find him before he is turned into a weapon (oh, that kind of Altered).

Here is the trailer;


The reason this slipped beneath my radar was likely that it was Kickstarted and so many of those projects end up languishing. What we don’t know is if this just the Kickstarter concept trailer or if they have actually done some principle photography.

It is directed by Liam Garvo.

No release information.


WTF? Filming has wrapped on Terry Gilliam’s The Man Who Killed Don Quixote. Yes, Seventeen years in the making the film that would not die and yet struggled to live is in the can

I didn’t report on it because, well like many other people, I had totally lost faith. I never thought he’d finish it.

Adam Driver and Jonathan Pryce are starring, screenplay is by Gilliam and Tony Grisoni. And they got some of that sweet, sweet streaming cash from Amazon Studios.

No word on the release date.


What’s Neill Blomkamp doing? Update

Blomkamp has given an interview with the Verge and he is clarifying his future plans…

He is indeed proceeding with Oats Studio, his personal production facility, it is an all-service studio developing scripts, creating physical effects, digital effects, casting and filming.

Interesting thing is that it is not focussed on features, or even necessarily on traditional short films. He wants to produce sketches; visual ideas which may form the basis for future shorts or features. Yes there will be short films, in fact Oats studio will launch with at least one, but it will publish fragments of footage and even digital files for fans to recut, re-render and turn into their own versions. This explains why Blomkamp chose to release Oats through Steam.

The second Oats trailer is more interesting:



In the meantime he has not given up on making feature films, he is still working on adapting Thomas Sweterlitsch’s novel The Gone World. Sweterlitsch is writing the screenplay and Fox is apparently still interested in making it.


Of course the world is still interested in a sequel to his debut feature District 9, and yes, he is interest in making one; just not right now.



Breaking news.

Neill Blomkamp’s Oats Studios has released its first product.

Rakka, an alien invasion short.

I have had a little peek, it is set in Blomkamp’s usual “scuzzyverse”: you know the same location as District 9, Elysium and Chappie; decaying housing, dust, and detritus.

I have to apologise if I suggested that it might be a rip-off…er loving homage to Alien. No, it’s a Terminator rip off, with tarry lizard aliens instead of unstoppable killer robots. I have some strong evocations of the future war sequences of the first Terminator; humans living in squalor while learning to fight an implacable enemy who outguns them.

Oats Studios is supposed to be the place where Blomkamp explores the more experimental side. I have to say Rakka is on the less experimental end of “experimental”, it’s a new-ish take on the Alien Invasion trope.

That’s OK, even pioneers need to make money.




We’ve been covering Tommy Wirkola’s Seven Sisters for some time.

Some are calling it cyberpunk. Hme, not according to its summary.

Maybe the poster is giving people ideas,

Anyway it has a release date… in France!

In the rest of the world it is anyone’s guess.

Seven Sisters will open in France in August.

What the heck, here’s a trailer.

Looks like a generic near-future setting to me.



We are hearing about South Korean science-fiction film “A Day”; a man becomes stuck in a time-loop while trying to save his daughter.

Director is Cho Sun-ho.

It gets a Korean release on June 15.

No international release information as of yet.




Now here’s an interesting thing; Happy Death Day. It’s labelled horror but is actually something very familiar to us.

A college student relives the day of her death noticing every detail until she can identify her killer.

Yes, it is another time–loop thriller and these come in all flavours and budgets. The sub-genre has most recently been identified with Edge of Tomorrow and Source Code.

Director is Christopher Landon who co-wrote it with Scott Lobdell, Oh yes, it is a Blumhouse film.

Due for release October 13, 2017


We’ve been covering Wesley Snipes’ Final Recall ever since Grunting (204), of course back then it was called The Recall; it is the standard ‘cabin by the lake’ scenario: five young people go to a cabin by the lake (now why would they do that?) of course this does not go too well for them.

In this case it is not a blade-wielding maniac that does for them but an alien invasion.

Well we now have a release it will be available for digital download from August 14th, and then on disk from the 21st.



Something interesting is happening with Bong Joon-ho’s Okja. Korean cinema chains are banning it.

Because Netflix plans to release the film simultaneously on streaming and theatrical formats, distributors are afraid it will not make much in the way of box office.

This is a problem Netflix have come up against before with Beast of No nation. But this time it is with one of Korea’s biggest and most respected film makers.

It bodes ill for future Netflix theatrical ventures.



Do you watch web video? I don’t watch web video. You know anyone who does? Actually I don’t really want to know. But I was looking at my file with the web series documents in it and I couldn’t remember anything about them, I certainly hadn’t seen any of them. OK, there is web video I go after aggressively and it is Adam Savage’s Tested clips on YouTube. I’ve linked a couple of them on Grunt, but I actually watch many more, I like to watch him making things. Anyway my point is, if you are a film maker who wanted to transition into Television or a theatrical release the last place you would go is a Web series. Heck even those short film guess have better luck. Hell, even if you make video games you have a better chance of making a feature film…









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 (232)

5 Jun




The information age isn’t finished with us.


Although Wonder Woman is here the film they are banging the drum for is Valerian. They are dropping TV spots like it is hot.


Even now I think the trailers look spectacular. They just dropped the last trailer;



But something occurred to me, it looked familiar. You know what it looked it? It looked like the Phantom Menace from 1999.


Oh dear.

The release date remains July 21st.

Nevertheless reviews are coming out for Wonder Woman and the broad verdict is positive, in fact it may be the most welcomed DC movie in a while.


Everyone is going to war. Christopher Nolan is going to Dunkirk Ridley Scott is fighting the Battle of Britain and now Roland Emmerich is going to the battle of Midway.

Now this has already been made into a film, but I doubt Emmerich has seen it.

Script is by Wes Tooke, and there is a significant amount of Chinese money being invested.

Let’s just hope it is better than Michael Bay’s Pearl Harbour.








They are calling ‘Dream Breaker’ cyberpunk. We doubt it, but let’s see what we know for sure.

It is Chinese, a feature film directed by Han Yan: “young woman who must fight her way through a mysterious, holographic game world designed by her late father to avenge his death”

I’m non-committal; when I find some reviews, I’ll get back to you.

They are shooting for a release in the autumn 2017.




Rupert Wyatt’s alien invasion feature, Captive State, now has a release date August 17, 2018.




So we now have a little idea of what Neill Blomkamp is doing.


Hme. Not what we expected. You know what it looks like? This looks like the Aliens project he was forced to abandon. Except instead of insectoid aliens we have reptilian aliens, instead of space we have them on earth. Having seen Blomkamp’s earlier features I was hoping for something… not so easily categorised.

I can’t help thinking if Ridley Scott had delivered this the reaction would have been a collective yawn.

But hey, the internet is all excited.

Maybe the full short film will surprise us.




Check this one out. Revolt, a film by Joe Miale, the general Alien invasion scenario, and the aliens have bad CG robots. The Unique selling point is that this one is based in Africa.

They are trying to get a distributor for it, once it has a release date I’ll get back to you.

We have to stretch out this post so here is trailer;




Takeshi Miike The master of the Anime to Live Action form* has struck again: JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure: Diamond Is Unbreakable is to premiere at the Neuchatel International Fantastic Film Festival. (Actually Jojo’s comes straight from the manga without touching an anime adaptation on the way down.

The manga is based around the Joestar family, guardians of the Ripple martial art and fighters of supernatural menaces.


No release date yet.




Wonder Woman



So you know the story; Amazon princess on the island of Themyscira lives an idyllic life of warrior training among the other women when the outside world rudely intrudes in the form of American pilot, hotly pursued by German sailors.

Said American brings word of a terrible war in the outside world, the slaughter of millions.

To Diana this can only mean the return of the War God Ares, ancient enemy of the Amazonians.

She determines to leave the island of her birth, seek out Ares and put an end to his evil works.


As a film this is very watchable.

Gal Gadot is fair actor despite her single expression is the one women so seldom give to me.

Chris Pine does his best Chris Evans impression and that is not the only thing this movie shares with Captain America.


The story is simple and efficient, the action and effects well handled.


It is an entertaining if not especially fresh take on the superhero genre.


It looks like Warner/ DC have taken the most important lessons from Marvel Studios: hire directors who can direct and actors who can act.

It might seem obvious but so many other studios and production houses think that hiring, stars, athletes, celebrities and wrestlers is so much better.


Wonder Woman (a phrase appearing nowhere in the film’s dialogue) works. But it is not perfect, there are moments where the actors reach moments of crisis and talk rather than act, and there are some improbabilities (is it really only a single night sailing from Themyscira to London?)

On the whole I like it.


Where Batman V Superman was fussy and tangled, this is clean and efficient. `This down to director Patty Jenkins.


I’d say it portends good news for Justice League later this year… but that one is a Zack Snyder film so all bets are off.




*simply because he keeps making them!

















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