Grunting at the Screen (239)



Cyberpunk Special: Autumn


The age of Cyberpunk is upon us. New projects are popping up like whack-a-moles. There is more visual-media cyberpunk activity than even in 1995. OK, I may have bullshitted you before. But the evidence is now in.




Neuromancer is back.

But I guess you know that.

However since the announcement at the beginning of August it has gone terribly quiet.

No screenwriter has been announced, No cast, and the director has been quite shy in announcing his intentions.


But let’s celebrate; the age of cyberpunk has truly arrived.


Well yes, despite the indifferent performance of Ghost in the Shell, Cyberpunk has reached the public ear.


Next year we will get the Altered Carbon TV series and a release for Mute (which should do better than Blade Runner).


And of course Neuromancer is in the air.


The majority of blogs reported the news straight, but the negativity crept into a couple of the reports, one suggested the idea of making a film of Neuromancer was passé and the movie is twenty years too late.

Another, that a Neuromancer movie would be a documentary because we are living in a William Gibson’s imagination.


That will be for the director to decide.


Talking of which, one of the film blogs suggested that, along with the director Tim Miller, his FX company Blur had been hired.


What do we know about Tim Miller?


He has one feature film under his belt. He’s done some short films. He was previously best known as an animator.

Tim Miller is indeed an FX supervisor, he has owned his own FX studio, Blur since 1995, won awards for his animation.

He worked on a number of projects including Avatar, Thor; the Dark World and Scott Pilgrim vs. the World. They did the very famous title sequence for the Remake of The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo.

Much of its work was in advertising and for the game world.

He’s done some writing on his short films, some TV commercial work.


And ah, some are gleefully pointing out that he will have to take on the next Terminator sequel before he takes on Neuromancer…


In fact a lot has been made about Miller’s obligation to make the next Terminator movie (yeah, James Cameron has the rights back, he wants to make a sequel, he is outsourcing the directing, presumably to Miller, I didn’t report it because I don’t care).

It is unlikely to be a big problem, Cameron takes forever to do anything and we first have to get a script. There is no script. And besides the Terminator rights do not revert to Cameron until 2019

One thing that did pique my interest was a note that the production company involved was quote: “bankrolling an exploratory effort that includes engaging some top-flight Science Fiction authors to find the movie creatively.”

Which top-flight Science Fiction authors?

Let’s put on my conspiracy hat;

William Gibson tweeted the news that Tim Miller was Neuromancer’s director. Did he have prior knowledge because he had been working with James Cameron and Tim Miller on the next Terminator movie….?


And we have confirmation that Tim Miller is officially Directing Terminator 6; I can only conclude his flirtation with other projects including Neuromancer was about him getting leverage for a big project i.e. this one.

There is now a schedule for Terminator 6 (or whatever) it is due out July 26th, 2019. I was hoping for a less ambitious projection. Movies of this size take about two years to make, which means this will be Miller’s next movie and Neuromancer will be kicked into the long grass.

Uuuunlessss… well if Miller was replaced then we could go forward.


One last thing; Jim Cameron is the director who once said “Nothing that happens in Cyberspace matters”. Interesting





Hme; Mute still has no release date; director Duncan Jones has gone quiet, and this late in the year either Mute will wait until next year for a theatrical release or go straight onto streaming services.

What happened there? Well for years the not-so-unique selling point was that it would be made in the style of Blade Runner and then a legitimate Blade Runner sequel got scheduled. It’s like two girls showing up to the prom in the same dress. Awkward. Perhaps Netflix has woken up to this and is steering well clear of 2049.




Altered Carbon is still in production, who knows when it will hit the screen.

And that is so frustrating, because the scant information we get is that it will be epic, like ten movies rather than ten TV episodes.




There is also no news on Hard Boiled, Ben Wheatley’s adaptation of the Frank Miller comic. Which is not cyberpunk, how could it be: amnesia, robots, a megalithic future city filled with outrageous and exotic detail. Nope, not cyberpunk.

It’s a huge project, I guess there is just one studio on earth that could successfully take it on: Luc Besson’s EuropaCorp. And that’s not likely to happen.




We idly speculated that Vincenzo Natali was working on a secret William Gibson project (we can dream) if so it is going to have to wait. He is now direction a TV version of the Tremors property for the Syfy channel.

Tremors has been a series of horror movies running to five instalments.

We had wondered what Natali had been doing, it emerged he had been directing quite a lot of TV episodes including some well-regarded series: Orphan Black and Westworld.




True Skin has likely been quietly cancelled and the producers are just too chicken to tell us.



I came across a note where Stephan Zlotescu mentioned True Skin would film in 2014. Obviously that did not happen.

It occurred to me; just how long have all these projects been in turnaround? There should be a measure.

Let’s have a cyberclock; how many years a project lingers in limbo.

True Skin 2012; 5 years

Technotise 2010; 7 years

Altered Carbon 2006; 11 years

Hard Boiled 2001; 16 years

and the Methuselah of the all cybermovies; Neuromancer 1986; 31 years

(yeah, I know, it’s depressing.)

Now you may query these numbers, but they are only measured from the year the product was first optioned for the screen.





And so to Blade Runner: 2049


Voice One: Pst, wanna lose money on a movie?


Voice Two: Sure, deal me in!


Voice One: We got a sequel to a thirty year old film.


Voice Two: Great, no one will remember it.


Voice One: Better than that, it lost money back them.


Voice Two: Even better!


Voice One: The critics hated it back then.


Voice Two: Perfect! But how do they feel about it now.


Voice One: It’s a classic, but that won’t put cash in anyone’s pocket.


Voice Two: Damned Straight! But they aren’t got no big-time director this time?


Voice One: You kidding, he makes art films. No-one watches them!


Voice Two: Hot Damn!


Voice One: But I know you won’t make a goddamned dime on this one.


Voice Two: How come?


Voice One: It’s rated R! They cut the potential audience in half!



Yes, Blade Runner: 2049, handicapped in so many ways, also got itself Rated “R” for violence, nudity and sexual behaviour.




Well I’m not concerned, I don’t care if it makes money or not, only if it is good.


Sure, I have tried to be objective, but I come with a bias, however I have one compromise; If it is works in itself, not necessarily as a sequel then I am fine with that.


That said, Variety is projecting an opening weekend Box Office opening of $40m. which is respectable.



Denis Villeneuve continues to reassure us, he gave an interview where he promised he is not making a pastiche or parody. He is taking the original as a stepping off point, bringing his own vision to it, and using as much real set and props as possible.

He claims there is no “director’s cut” because the theatrical version is exactly what he wanted. Some journalists are suggestion that he was given cart blanche and the studio did not interfere with it at all. I have to take that under advisement, as well as having a raft of executive producers, a substantial budget on the line and a tetchy star there is the director of the original as a producer looking over the shoulder. I would not be surprised if Blade Runner: 2049 was a masterpiece of diplomacy on Villeneuve’s part. He certainly is trying.

He even engaged original visual futurist Syd Mead to work on the design of one set.

Interestingly enough he worked on the desert sets. The sketches he made for Blade Runner 2049 can now be seen in the book The Movie Art of Syd Mead: Visual Futurist.

I have often wondered why more film makers don’t still make use of Syd Mead, he is still active.


It is all very comforting. How this translates to an actual film we will see very soon.


It’s not fair to judge a film by its marketing, but what the hell. We’ve looked at the posters and they are not bad. Ah, no. And they don’t imitate the iconic original poster, which is good (Of course they use the logo typeface, but that is fine). They are however, very orange, the character posters have that orange logo. The main poster is saturated in orange, and that is evocative of the original film’s colour drenched cinematography but the poster is all just so … orange.



In the run up to the release the trailer appeared.


And then they started dropping mini-films to whet the appetite of the audience.

The first, Nexus Dawn, from Luke Scott.



The second short film in the series is titled “Nowhere to Run” another Luke Scott short looking at the background of Dave Bautista’s character (Sapper).



The third short film “Blade Runner: Black Out 2022.” came from Shinichiro Watanabe of Cowboy Bebop fame. It was a surprise. Watanabe also wrote it.

Here is a trailer.

You can see the film here.



Interesting, it is in the old school anime style (I would have expected something more CG) It indicates they are evoking the spirit of 80’s animes like Akira and Ghost in the Shell.



Then the movie’s TV spots began running. There was some footage not present in the trailer.


The Blade Runner: 2049 merchandise has started emerging, starting with the Art and Soul of Blade Runner 2049 By Tanya Lapointe. (Documents the filming, includes photos, concept art, storyboards, the usual)




Progress continues on Alita Battle Angel.



Activity has started on the Live Action Akira project again. But of course Akira is not cyberpunk.




And this is the latest news: Snow Crash is on again.

back in 1992 Neal Stephenson produced what is probably the best William Gibson pastiche.

It was not hugely innovative, but it captured the feel of mid-eighties cyberpunk well where most others failed.

Since then Stephenson has fond his own voice, but to many he is remembered as the author of Snow Crash.


It was optioned soon after publication in 1992 and been bandied around as a film project for years.


In 2012 Joe Cornish was selected to direct it, but news stopped coming out of that camp and I honestly expected no progress would be made.


Well more fool me, because Amazon has stepped in to revive it, not as a feature film but a series.


What surprised me even more is that Joe Cornish is still attached to the project, but as an executive producer (his next film as director will be The Kid Who Would Be King.)


The show will be co-produced with Paramount TV, Spielberg-collaborator Frank Marshall will be a producer. No Schedule yet of course, but considering how long Altered Carbon is taking we may not see the Snow Crash series until early 2019.



We have said before that we are in a new era, the film companies are giving way to the streaming outfits. Projects that would once be the crown jewels of major Hollywood studios are now going to Amazon and Netflix either as features or series.

Very soon major film creatives will go to streaming media first and film studios second; if at all because the appetite for content is enormous. And this could

happen with startling rapidity.


(And oh yes, Amazon are also developing Larry Niven’s Ringworld and Greg Ruka’s Lazarus)





What I had intended to end this special with was:

“Now all we can hope for is a cyberpunk gold-rush where all the studios insist on owning their own cyberpunk novel to adapt for feature film.”

Well the gold-rush has begun, grab yourself a spade.



Release Dates

Blade Runner: 2049; October 6

Ready Player One; March 30, 2018

Alita: Battle Angel 20 July, 2018


Traditionally I am supposed to select some short film that I really think deserves to be made into a feature, to be honest I’m already tired of the idea. OK, at random let’s say Cole Drumb’s Posthuman


Just think of it as American anime, and it avoids the awkward matter of whitewashing!



And in other news.


So the releases of Ghost in the Shell and Death Note were public-relations disasters. They really got thrashed for their conventional Los Angeles casting.

The film industry has certainly learned its lesson.

Or has it?

In the face of opposition, Hollywood just doubled down. Paramount is working on a live action adaptation of the anime feature “Your Name.”

It’s a body swap movie, a high school girl and high school boy swap bodies. (Hme, I kinda was hoping for something more…)

Anyway the original anime by Makoto Shinkai is well thought of.

This remake will be produced by JJ Abrams and written by Eric (Arrival) Heisserer.




We mentioned the Blackpills project a while back (director Stephan Zlotescu teaming up with producer Scott Glassgold.) We still have very little data. But the Internet Movie Data Base suggests we are talking about a group of TV series, rather than features. There are about four different titles, many of them to be shot in Thailand.

Most are live action, but Product Wars is to be animated.

One of them, Tokyo Red, has been fully cast.

What we don’t know is where they will be screened, when they will be scheduled or even when they shoot.

My guess is that they are angling at some kind of streamed distribution.

I am most cautious here. Scott Glassgold has bought so many products but is only now starting to produce. The cynic in me expects the whole Blackpills endeavour will just effervesce to nothing. But I do hope they will release product that further goes on to feature film or full TV series.




Now this is interesting, The Broken Key a new science fiction feature staring Rutger Hauer: it is the near future, in this information era paper has all but been banned, a scholar goes on the path of Dante Alighieri and Hieronymus Bosch.

Hme, sounds like a science fiction Dan Brown.

Director is Louis Nero

So far it only has an Italian release, if it gets a wider distribution I’ll let you know.




We don’t do shorts, but what the hell, there isn’t much news this week, so courtesy of Screen Anarchy a very fine site, here is Daemonrunner.


I didn’t see the Roache-Turner brothers’ first feature Wyrmwood: Chronicles of the Dead, but I’d certainly pay good money for this; if you want to be reductive about it (and we always do) you could call it a punk Ghostbusters, or better still; the Matrix meets the Exorcist.


Hostile. This post-holocaust movie has a feeling of Terminator right at the end. It has that Sara Conner vibe going on.


Director is Mathieu Turi, and it is still doing the festivals, when it gets a release date we’ll let you know.



Osiris Child already has a video release in the UK but it gets a US cinematic release on October 6. The reviews have been generous.

It has had so many alternate titles “SFv1” Origin Wars, and of course “The Osiris Child: Science Fiction Volume One”. It is low budget but packed with plot and ideas, a large scale Science Fiction feature at bargain basement price. It is a mashup of several science fiction genres, from post-holocaust desert to space adventure with a futuristic prison thrown in for fun. It sounds like it shouldn’t work, but it does.


On the 13th comes Happy Death Day, the groundhog day of horror; a college student revives the day of her death, learning more and more about it, until she learns the identity of her murderer.


And is this Tokyo Ghoul that gets a release on October 16th?

Ken just wants a date with a hot girl, however his date gets hotter than he can handle when his girlfriend tries to eat him, It turns out she is a ghoul, a flesh eating monster in human form, one of many who inhabit the Tokyo underground. Fortunately the creature dies before she can kill Ken, and the ER surgeons save him by implanting her organs into his body. Which is a mixed blessing because Ken starts having some decidedly unusual cravings.

We found some reviews of Tokyo Ghoul some saying it’s stylish but lacking good FX.

However fan sites say expensive FX are not needed because it sticks close to the plot of the anime, the cinematography is fine, and so is the set design.

Most of all the reviews emphasises that it is not Paracyte, an earlier Anime-to-live action adaptation with a similar premise but nowhere near as generous notices.




Keanu Reeves’ Replicas (Grunting 164) directed by Jeffrey Nachmanoff is in post-production. and they are rolling out publicity.

When a neurologist family is killed in an accident he brings them back in mechanical bodies. Because that never goes badly.

OK, here’s the trailer


No release date yet

























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



And if you want some movie news about other than sequels and reboots try



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