Archive | July, 2017

Grunting at the Screen (235)

29 Jul




Back in Grunt (206) we mentioned the Canadian feature Radius; it now has a showing at this year’s Frightfest.


Well Valerian has been released and it has not done very well at all.

We would not call it inevitable, but it is not surprising; original Science Fiction has had trouble making money; in the past I have blamed a risk-averse industry, but now I lay the blame squarely on an audience who just will stick with what it knows.

To be fair, the reviews have not been encouraging, certainly not bad, but few have jumped with excitement.

On the other hand, is Valerian really worse than a Transformers movie?




The next original Science Fiction film to be ignored by the audience will be O2. Ah, and it is also one of those Blacklist movies.

As we’ve said before the Blacklist is a roll of screenplays highly rated by studio readers but not bought for production. O2 by Christie LeBlanc was on the 2016 Blacklist: A woman awakens in a hibernation chamber with no memory of getting there and her air running out.

Anne Hathaway has been cast, there is no director yet they plan to start filming in the autumn.




Netflix continues to be the patron of the Science Fiction arts: latest feature to get their nod is Bird Box, starring Sandra Bullock, based on the novel from Josh Malerman: earth has been devastated by creatures who induce visions in humans. Malorie and her children must endure a journey to safety, but they must brave a rage inducing creature that will make them turn on each other if the even glimpse it.

That sounds… different.

Script is by Eric “Arrival” Heisserer; it just got interesting.


No word on director or schedule.







I’m surprised; it looks like the Mega Man movie is going ahead.

Henry Joost and Ariel Schulman directors of Paranormal Activity 3 and 4 have been tapped to helm it.

No word on screenwriter or schedule.




And this Blog deals just with Indie Science Fiction movie; cool.





Cyberpunk Special: Summer


Neuromancer is still dead

There is no news on the “True Skin” series

“Altered Carbon” has no broadcast date

Mute has no release date


In fact I suspect Neuromancer is unfilmable. Not because of the usual given reason: i.e. that so many of its ideas have been stolen by film and television that there is nothing left (heck if that were true we’d never have another sequel, reboot or rehash of anything and the zombie genre would be dead at birth) People love stuff they have seen before; so the Matrix did it? Let’s see it again! No the reason Neuromancer is unfilmable is because there is no visual equivalent of William Gibson’s prose. They just don’t have the style to convey his cutting-edge cool, Filmmakers don’t have the chops.

It would take the emergence of a fresh talent such as we have not seen.




This is a surprise Last Studio Standing, a Canadian animation company, announced they were adapting William Gibson’s 1981 Short story “Hinterlands”.


I did not expect that.


What is more they are adapting it as a TV series. The way they are angling it; a Russian space station disappears, when it reappears everyone aboard is dead. Anything that wanders into the place of disappearance also disappears with similar results, the ships are going somewhere there are technologies unknown to man, but to access them you need to survive the trip, it is a mystery that needs to be solved.

Last Studio Standing is pitching it as “Gravity meets Blade Runner.” Cut it sounds more like Event Horizon to me (the original Short story predates Even Horizon by several years…)

They have big plans for it, a Five year plan detailing where the story will go.

They intend to release a short pilot film in cinemas and then going to series.

Interesting; “Hinterlands” is a short story, I would not exactly call it epic in scope (short stories can be epic…) so the studio has to build up the plot considerably.







If I wanted something to be gloomy about I certainly have it. The Live Action version of Ghost in the Shell did not do very well at the box office.

How badly is yet to be determined. The worst case scenarios predict a massive loss. But going by the official budget at worse it is break-even.

It did way better on the international market that in the US.

Although this is old news now it is indicative of a bad year for cyberpunk, the other projects being released this year may well also be met with audience indifference.

We have been here before 1995 promised so much but was a let-down.

Unless Blade Runner 2049 and Mute are certifiable hits 2017 will go down the same way.


Well, with the less than stellar performance of Ghost in the Shell at the box office, you might think the Hollywood industry would be quite reluctant to do another anime adaptation.

I have another suggestion: double down.

Sure, do the same again, only harder. Why not? All they have to loose is money.

I even have suggestions: all the other similar products from Production IG.

Stuff with androids in: like Appleseed and how about Vexille? They are both action films with tons of visual attraction and everything that was learned doing Ghost in the Shell can be applied here.

If at first you don’t succeed….


One thing that has emerged from the whole Ghost in the Shell business is the resurgence of the idea of “cyberpunk” itself, it was being talked about in the national newspapers, in the supermarkets. It is very much above ground.



You probably have seen Adam Savage’s at Ghost in the Shell videos at WETA, he’s done one for the Shelling endoskeleton.









What would cheer me up would be a cyberpunk feature that came out of nowhere, already filmed, all post production done. Just popping up.

It would save the anticipation, the frustration, the anti-climax.

Movies have done that in the past. No publicity, just suddenly there.

At least that would spare me months of wondering if it was good or not.



Be careful what you wish for because I have stumbled on the trailer for Mindhack, which appears to be some kind of low-budget take on The Matrix.


Looks cheesy but sincere and there is little information on line. It is directed by Royce Gorsuch







A while back we speculated on whether Marvel will make a cyberpunk movie. It was, to say at the least, a reach.

Then we realised DC could make one very soon from now and without reaching at all.

After all, they intend to make a Cyborg movie.

And you might be interested to know, the Cyborg character was made to penetrate and control computer systems. He’s a hacker superhero.

Cyborg will appear first in the Justice League movie on 17 November.

Ray Fisher has been cast as Cyborg.

The character of cyborg was created in 1980 by Marv Wolfman and artist George Pérez; after an accident Vic Stone was rebuilt by his father with a new body that was stronger, and more durable than his original.

Along with this he was also able to turn his arm into weapons and interface with computers.


There are some elements here that lend themselves well to a cyberpunk narrative: his body was blown apart and rebuilt, of course they could run it as a standard bionic narrative “we can rebuild you” or they could take the dangerous route of portraying the uneasily union of man and machine, the violation of the flesh by the metal and the digitisation of the soul. Five years back I would have thought it unlikely, but in the light of the killing and brutality of Man of Steel and Batman V Superman, the door is open to a darker, more majestic superhero narrative. One where minds and bodies are torn apart and reassembled into terrifying combinations; blood and oil, flesh and metal.

I’m into it now: I am imagining a Cyborg movie as directed by Shinya Tsukamo; the city as an overwhelming character looming over transforming bodies, clashing and splintering while screaming malware at each other in cyberspace. Huh! Huh! Huh! Excuse my heavy breathing.



While doing publicity for Alien: Covenant, Ridley Scott had a few words about the Blade Runner sequel, he repeated that he had really wanted to direct it, but just didn’t have an opening in his schedule, he also mentioned the script, claiming that Harrison Ford called it the best script he’d ever read.

I’m not sure if it is a good idea to raise expectations so much. It already has so much to live up to.

Meanwhile we had a second Teaser trailer for Blade Runner 2049.



The Blade Runner 2049 full trailer came out in May;



(which kinda makes the teaser redundant…)



Publicity is ramping up.

They put a featurette on line in June.


Marketing for Blade Runner 2049 is coming hard and fast: a second Trailer which actually makes it look interesting.


They had a big presence at Comic-Con including a virtual reality experience. (I am still not convinced that these things have significant marketing effects).


And Atari have sponsored a tie-in hat with speakers…?


As ever, everyone is saying just the right things. And Ridley Scott is making an appearance, passing on the torch, so to speak.

There was a ton of new footage. And it looked fine. I’m not over the moon.

It’s not so much Blade Runner 2 I am afraid of, it is Blade Runner 3.

And it seems my fears are justified. In a June interview with IGN Ridley Scott about admitted that further Blade Runner sequels were possible.


Also in that interview was a statement that gives us heart, not about 2049 but the legacy of the original. When asked about the possible negative effects of a sequel Scott said “No, I think the original was so good, really, and so long ago, I don’t really care.” And that is the truth. The original will remain, no matter what and it will still be a timeless classic.





Back in Grunting (205) we speculated that Vincenzo (Splice) Natali was working on a William Gibson project: he tweeted a cover of Gibson’s Archangel comic, Gibson suggested that he might have a project for Natali.

Now we have some confirmation: Vincenzo Natali has now tweeted that he is “working on a new Gibson project”. And it was in the early stages.

We will keep you updated as it develops.


However, although I’m not one to speculate,* we might get a headstart on the publicity by examining Natali’s twitter stream.

Now, the director is neither visual nor an actor’s director. He is an ideas director (as witnessed by Cube and Splice). Lately however he has been tweeting a series of images.

If you discount the, er political ones and those attached to the passing of Bernie Writghtson (Natali was a fan). There are a number of trends: He has tweeted a ton of Tsutomu Nihei images. Tsutomu is a Manga artist/writer who originated Blame! Knights of Sidonia, and Biomega. Lately he created concept images for Natali’s abandoned Neuromancer project.

Natali has also tweeted a ton of images of skeletons in spacesuits. I swear I didn’t know there were so many of them.

Finally he has posted a whole bunch of images by contemporary sculptors. I was foxed at first when I realised the link was most of the images had skulls in them.

Hmme. So Natali is making a William Gibson movie, with concept art by Tsutomu involving one or more skeleton filled spacesuit. (So presumably set in space).

Or something.





While corresponding with one of our …ahem… many readers, I was made aware of one anomaly; in 2017, this year of Cyberpunk, there have been no rip-offs, er knock-offs, um let’s just say “homages”. After all, every great trend leads to “me-too” productions crawling out of the woodworks, usually lead by that august studio Asylum.

So I went looking for this year’s heartfelt tributes to say Ghost in the Shell or Blade Runner 2049.

I found nothing. Oh dear. And I wondered why.

I couldn’t have anything to do with the fact that Asylum has been sued for its creation of Age of the Hobbits and American Battleship?

Have they become a little reluctant?


Apparently not, they have thrown themselves into a Fast and Furious Rip-off called

Fierce and Furious…


Are they afraid there is no money in this brave new cyber age?





Duncan Jones is being cagey about Mute, he has mentioned screenings of his director’s cut, but nothing about special FX and both he and Netflix are being vague about release date.

I am getting doubtful about a theatrical release; cinematic distribution is generally arranged more than a year in advance and Netflix releases like Okja have already been announced.

If this is so, Mute may only have a streaming release, which would be a disappointment to Jones’ fans.

One thing he keeps repeating on his Twitter stream is a photoshopped picture of a Marmite bottle and the warning that he has seen his cut of the feature and “you will either love it or hate it.”

Hme. With a Netflix release he is partially relieved of the opening weekend pressure a regular theatrical film would endure: Mute does not have to earn most of its money back during an opening because it can rely on the streaming service to find its audience over weeks or months.

However, it will have to find that audience, sooner or later.


As we go to press Mute has no release date and things are looking ominous, especially for anyone planning on seeing it theatrically.

It may be impossible to catch it on the big screen if the pattern follows the earlier release of Bong Joon-ho’s Okja. That film found it impossible to secure a Korean cinema release due to dispute with distributors who are insisting on a gap between streaming and theatrical releases.

This looks like it will be a continuing problem for Netflix.

But what is with the release date?

Okja has already been released

Bright has a release date.

The other Netflix productions are lined up. Why not Mute?






Ready Player One isn’t Cyberpunk; no, no, noo. But here is the teaser trailer.

Looks a lot like the book. We’ll see.



And what has happened to True Skin from Amazon? Since the announcement of the streaming series last year there has been barely a peek. No director, or cast announced, certainly no release date.

I am beginning to ask; is this still an active project?


While True Skin seems as far away as ever its creator Stephan Zlotescu has been busy with his patron Scott Glassgold.

Glassgold has been known for buying up short films and making deals to adapt them into features.

It seems he now wants to get right to the source.


He has teamed up with Zlotescu to create Blackpills, a label through which they will produce and release short films. The idea is to make things more innovative and extreme than a studio would ever approve.

There are a number of Zlotescu’s projects already lined up:

Product Wars” corporate mascots have been brought to reality via genetic engineering, if you can afford it you can own one. That could never go wrong, could it?

Tokyo Red: Life after a nuclear meltdown in Tokyo, not exactly post-apocalyptic, but you’ll have to adapt.


In addition there will be films from other creators;

Future Sex, anthology series from Hank Woon.

Same Rights from Gary Hall; an AI is accused of murder.


There will be a chance to see all of these in 2018.


What Zlotescu and Glassgold are not saying is that these will be the basis of future feature film projects. Bu given the way Glassgold has operated previously, this does seems to be the likely trajectory (either that or sell them to streaming services as TV series as True Skin was).


Now, I cannot help but think, this has some similarity to Neill Blomkamp’s Oats Studios project. I’m just saying.







*Hey, I’m not!







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






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