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.


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