Grunting at the Screen (228)

3 Apr

The information age isn’t finished with us.

We are hearing the search is on for a director of the live-action Akira, personally we will not believe a thing until filming begins.

And to be honest Akira needs no live action version.

Ruben Fleischer has been tapped to direct Valiant Comic’s Archer & Armstrong, Terry Rossio will be writing the script; an assassin from a cult is forced to team up with his target (a superhuman immortal) to stop the end of the world.

Now this really gets me going: Hidden Reserves AKA Stille Reserven a feature film by Austrian director Valentin Hitz,

In the near future the insurance business is pretty dread. If you don’t buy death insurance your body is reanimated at death and used as a commodity.

Of course there is a rebellion against this process.

The story is about an insurance agent who infiltrates one of the rebel groups to bring it down.

I gather the plot is kind of complex.

I’ve see the trailer, and it’s got me excited because it has one of those vast body storage facilities which have been come a science fiction trope, like in Blade III or Daybreakers.

But it all seems to come from the era before Science Fiction was a branch of action cinema, back when it was all about ideas.

 

There have been rumour of Robert Rodriguez being involved in a certain reboot, I’m not interested but what is known is that he’s taking on his first animation.

Oh cool is it Heavy Metal?

Er, no.

His debut in the animated world will be Ugly Dolls. It is a toy based movie deriving from the Uglydoll line produced by Pretty Ugly, LLC.

No schedule, but it should be interesting.

Generally I object to Toys turning into movies because, toys don’t come with a narrative. Well usually, I have done a little digging and it appears that the Uglydoll concept came in concert with its own stories. Hme.

We’ve already mentioned Hasraf “HaZ” Dulull’s film Origin Unknown, it turns out this was his second feature. His first one was the documentary-styled film: The Beyond.

The first interstellar mission is in progress and we have sent a crew of enhanced astronauts. This one is (loosely) based on Dulull’s short film Project Kronos.

There is already a trailer and it is headed for the festival circuit.

 

It seems at this point I need to make an apology. Back in Grunting (144) I may have suggested that Scott Glassgold was guilty of hoovering up all of the very best short film projects and letting them lay fallow: well lately everything is coming up roses for him.

Hasraf Dulull: is making Origin Unknown, and The Beyond

Stephan Zlotescu: is having True Skin produced as a series at Amazon Studios.

Progress is happening.

 

 

Life: Review

Life may not last forever, but it certainly can feel that way. The beginning is really boring. In the first half hour I nearly dropped off a couple of times.

You know the score; a Martian probe with a soil sample arrives at the International Space Station. They examine it and find life, They feed the organism and of course it grows, attacks and kills them all.

Oh Shoot! Spoiler Alert!

Forget what I said; the alien gives them flowers and chocolates, takes them to dinner and everyone gets a kiss on the doorstep.

(Now, won’t you be surprised when it kills every one!)

It is reasonably executed, the performances are adequate, the FX are fine, there is no sign of crappieness in the CG. On a technical level it is OK.

All the publicity has been running this as “Alien meets Gravity” , but interestingly enough, it actually plays more like Alien meets Gravity: you have lots of squeezing though tight spaces, futile attempts to kill the beast, tumbling around in spacesuits outside, space trash flying around and the obligatory decompression scene.

Hey, I propose the Air Prize: a prize awarded to any movie set in space where decompression is not one of the scenes, because this shit has gotten old.

And of course it has some quiet scenes, where I almost go to sleep again. I don’t know what it is, have I seen so many space movies that it all seems routine now?

There are some of the usual illogicalities, though less than usual in a Science Fiction movie.

But it is not all bad, it moves along quickly enough (really, it wasn’t slow, just kind boring) there is some action.

And you know what? I actually enjoyed it. But not until the end. You’ll see.

 

 

Reviews for Ghost in the Shell are turning up, inevitably mixed, after all of the negative publicity you can only expect it leak into the criticism. They all note or praise the visuals. There is less joy concerning the story. Some however are quite enthusiastic.

On the whole they are positive.

The Ghost in the Shell Anime is a classic, not just of animation but of Science Fiction. In my humble opinion it is the finest example of cyberpunk committed to film.

Should it have been adapted to a live action feature? Probably not.

Should Rupert Sanders have been the director? The jury is out.

The thing is Ghost in the Shell has already been sequelised all to hell, another feature, a couple of TV series, a DTV feature.

Live action was the next step.

It should probably have been a Japanese production. But we have what we have.

Ghost in the Shell: The Review

There is a film that casts a shadow over the Live Action Ghost in the Shell film, a film that informs and guides it, that foreshadowed it.

And that film, of course is Johnny Mnemonic. I am dead serious . and if you know Jack you’d know I don’t joke about the really strange things.

Like Johnny Mnemonic, Ghost in the Shell is about a hero with amnesia and the return of memory.

Unlike Johnny Mnemonic, this plot point takes centre place and it actually works.

You will see a lot here familiar from the 1995 anime: iconic scenes are lifted and reproduced “en vivo”. Not just the action scenes, there are quiet character moments that transfer as well. But the original plot and themes are not present. The scenes are attached to a brand new plot spine built around the missing memory of the Major, as played by Scarlett Johansson.

This is an emotional plot about the search for and discovery of memory and identity. Very different from the more abstracted and philosophical theme of the anime.

And you know what? It is the right decision and it works. The cold and intellectual treatment of the previous material would not have worked for a Western audience and it would not have worked in live action.

OK.

This is a very visual movie and the visuals are sumptuous and alluring: the megalithic city is huge busy, colourful and bright. A contrast to a say more famous depiction of the urban future; not as original, but certainly not inadequate.

The action scenes are tough, fast, impressive; but as ever often cut to tightly to precisely follow the motion, but no more than the normal action movie.

The CG is reasonable, and some of what you may assume is CG has actually been done right there in front of the camera.

Scarlett Johansson is impressive, of course she is cold and mechanical, she plays a full body cyborg, but as the film progresses she reveals a quite affecting and yes human character.

And Takeshi Kitano plays it as if he’d stepped off the set of Sonatine: do not mess with the old-school.

There are some cute Easter eggs that will gladden fans that have brought an open mind; my favourite being Batou’s Basset hound (subject of an extended cameo in Ghost in the Shell: Innocence.)

And there are changes beyond the story, if you are the cute Tachikoma spider-tanks of the Manga and Anime, then prepare to run in terror; the live tanks are like M1s on columns.

But this is a big (well low end big) budget action Science fiction movie, so you know it will be all about the fights and the FX. You know there will be a big CG climax. This is a given.

How is it handled? It passes.

Do you know what? A third of the way into the film I stopped judging the film and started enjoying the immersion, the characters and the story. And by the time we reach the end I’m quite stirred.

Yes, this is the cyberpunk movie we have been waiting for. purer that The Matrix, better executed than Johnny Mnemonic.

I have no qualms in apologising to director Rupert Sanders; I didn’t think he could pull it off but he has.

I would have satisfied if they had just not screwed it up, but this is a little more; this is good, not great, but very satisfactory and you should see it.

Oh yes, stay until the end titles, you will get a treat; and no it is NOT a post credit scene.

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.

http://www.darkhorizons.com/

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

http://www.starburstmagazine.com/reviews/DVD-and-blu-ray-home-entertainment-reviews

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Grunting at the Screen (227)

25 Mar

 

 

 

The information age isn’t finished with us.

 

 

 

Cyberpunk Special: Spring

 

Spring comes early this year. Not because of climate change, but Ghost in the Shell opens this month.

 

 

Neuromancer is still dead, and instead of shedding tears over it they should consider the alternatives. Since they complain most of the ideas have been stolen by other film and shows, they should try something else. Like Pat Cadigan’s Synners: there should be an HBO miniseries, only without of HBO’s usual gratuitous shagging. It is a serious long-form story with layered characterisation (and seeing that there are no androids, it won’t step on Westworld’s toes).

 

 

 

We were weren’t going to play the game of “which short should be a feature” this quarter, but it came to our attention that shorts director Hasraf “Haz” Dullul

is making his first feature. It occurred to me, should his short Sync have been his first feature?

Now I took another look at it. And I think they got it right. Sync is not the great lost feature, in fact it is … a bit boring. And the premise is well a bit Johnny Mnemonic, with an android substituted for Johnny’s head.

Sorry.

 

There must be something in the air: Sync is not the only short with a recent feature deal.

David Karlak’s short film Rise caused a minor hubbub when it was released in 2014.

In the future the robots are rising (again) however this time we are seeing it from the viewpoint.

 

It was another of the FX heavy Science Fiction shorts that we’ve seen so many of.

Like many of those, it had a studio deal: Warner Bros. had contacted to make it into a feature.

That meant nothing, the hordes of shorts that have reached for featurehood and fallen at the first hurdle are many.

This one had an edge: it starred Anton Yelchin.

However Yelchin has sadly passed away, and Rise spent the last three years in Limbo.

But there has been progress.

The rights have been obtained by producers Brian Oliver and Johnny Lin.

They are fully funding it and Karlak will direct the feature.

 

The producers are not just talking feature, they are using the word “franchise”; eggs before chickens, guys….

 

 

 

The classic Ghost in the Shell anime directed by Mamoru Oshii got a cinematic re-release in February.

 

I’m wondering if this is a good idea. Oh it is good for the anime, but for the Live-Action adaptation. After all, how will you sell the idea of the copy, when the original looms so large?

 

Sure, the release can serve as great publicity, it can raise awareness, but it can also remind us of what the Live-Action adaptation is not.

 

 

I’ve been neutral about the Live-Action feature. It had a troubled origin, Steven Spielberg had the project for a while before passing it on.

 

Now I cannot say Spielberg was the best fit for the project (the closest he has been in territory was Minority Report and I am in two minds about that) but moving from him to Rupert Sanders seems like a step down.

 

Seems like, I have to confess, I never saw Snow White and the Huntsman.

 

Anyway, I’d like Ghost in the Shell Live-Action to be good, I really would.

 

With the feature opening in March the publicity machine is well into its groove. This is the stuff I usually treat as background noise, but since we are taking an in-depth look, I might as well say. Ghost in the Shell Live-Action has scored very highly in social media buzz; Variety magazine clocked it at 30,000 conversations (no, I don’t know what that means), which is higher than Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2.

The question is, will that translate to ticket sales. If internet buzz meant ticket sales the Snakes on a Plane would be the highest grossing film ever.

Anyway, we will know very soon.

 

I’d like Ghost in the Shell Live-Action to be successful, I’d like it to be good and I’d like it to make money. That would keep the door open for so many other films.

But I worry.

I’m worried about that statement Director Rupert Sanders made about cherry-picking scenes from the different anime iterations.

This might work: it is a narrative strategy; take a number of outstanding moments; and build a narrative around them. Perfectly legitimate.

If it is possible.

If you have the writing talent.

It would be great if Sanders has harnessed the talent to create a coherent and compelling narrative around those visually stunning scenes.

But I worry this will be a “greatest hits” collection: a cynical attempt to pull the fans in by showing them what they want to see, and not making much of an effort to make sure it all makes sense.

It would fit in with the current ethos of Los Angeles cinema.

What do I mean? They want Khan, give them Khan. They want the Death Star, give them the Death Star. And the sop to originality is you just change the names, but we all know it is just the same old dog and pony show.

If this is what it turns out to be then the reaction will predicable: a savage attack by the critics, followed by mass rejection by the fans. Whether that turns into Box Office failure is not certain: there is a trend for going against the critics, and when it comes to predicting the audience, nobody knows anything. *

But the fan and critical reaction could seal the fate of any sequels and anyone else who wants to do Near Future urban Science Fiction. Really; despite the fact that the Matrix sequels were more financially successful than the original they are still accounted as failures (but not by me).

The first Hulk film is accounted as a failure, the second as a success; even though they made about the same amount at the box office.

So even if Ghost in the Shell Live-Action is moderately successful, it may still be a disaster.

As political hacks say “It is all about the optics”

 

Hah, I win again, I already insisted there would have to be a name change in the old “Motoko” situation. In early March a story started that Scarlett Johansson character (previously only referred to as the major” is now being called “Mira”. Score!

 

The Japanese language dubbed version of Ghost in the Shell Live Action will be voiced by the original actors: Atsuko Tanaka from the 1995 anime will voice The Major.

So is everyone happy now?

 

We don’t generally blog promo vids. But we love Adam Savage, so when he want to New Zealand to see what WETA did for Ghost in the Shell We could not resist.

This is what he found out about the Geisha Dolls:

 

And here are some alarming details about the stealth suit,

 

Enjoy

 

 

I was going to leave the Ghost in the Shell controversy be, it is after all ridiculous. But then the original anime director Mamoru Oshii weighed in with his definitive statement during an IGN interview;

http://uk.ign.com/articles/2017/03/21/original-ghost-in-the-shell-director-mamoru-oshii-has-no-problem-with-live-action-remake

 

“What issue could there possibly be with casting her?” Oshii told IGN by e-mail. “The Major is a cyborg and her physical form is an entirely assumed one. The name ‘Motoko Kusanagi’ and her current body are not her original name and body, so there is no basis for saying that an Asian actress must portray her. Even if her original body (presuming such a thing existed) were a Japanese one, that would still apply.”

 

And that is that.

 

 

 

 

 

Of the upcoming features, Blade Runner: 2049 is the most keenly anticipated, it has a small and enthusiastic fanbase. Its trailer has garnered positive response.

 

News has been coming apace. There have been interviews with director Denis Villeneuve, and he is still making the right noises, and I am comfortable in saying I believe them.

Denis Villeneuve is telling us expectations are high for the sequel, he is aware that his critics are watching him and he intends to produce a sequel worthy of the original, he also says the sequel will have the same atmosphere as the original, same genre same atmosphere.

Having seen the Arrival I expect this means we will see no action sci fi spectacular with a slam bang CG finale. And this is a mercy.

I keep saying “he’s saying all the right things”. One of those things is, in fact, about the use of CG, which he says will be kept to a minimum. There will be live sets, mostly and the sparing use of Green Screen. It is what fans want to hear, and it may even be true.

 

Less significant was the news that there will be Blade Runner: 2049 merchandise. No need for panic. The original Blade Runner had its own merchandise, die-cast metal spinners, caps, and a few books: The Art of Blade Runner, The Blade Runner Storyboards.

For Blade Runner: 2049 I expect fewer books, more action figures. But that is fine.

 

Cast member Lennie James reported that security on set was extraordinary, and much of that related to the screenplay; most of the time only parts of the script would be available to the actors, and those parts would be removed at the end of each days filming, if they had been provided electronically, they would vanish after a given period.

In addition the sets in Budapest were locked down tight with no photography leaking out.

I’m not concerned about the security, a lot of major projects are now security obsessed, what is interesting is that the feature seems to have been filmed entirely on set, I have heard no word of location filming. This will be influential on the final look.

I am well aware that the fans who long for a new Blade Runner long for one that is just like the old one. But not I. What would be the point? Since the 1980s a revolution has taking place in cinema: from Minority report, to Chappie, new film-making techniques have given us futures that are shockingly real; futures filmed on location.

I am willing to acknowledge that Blade Runner (1982) was state of the art then: is too much to demand that Blade Runner 2048 be state of the art now?

 

 

 

 

Alita: Battle Angel is in production. A notice for extras appeared in the industry press indicating that shooting was taking place in February.

They are filming in Austin at night.

Now if this is anything like Robert Rodriguez’s usual shoots, he will shoot in fragments over a long period, grabbing various cast members along the way.

We speculate he will use a mixture of his known techniques of real sets plus greenscreen.

What can we expect from it? Well, we’ve had very little indication, no detailed plot, no production art. We suspect the story will be an amalgamation of several of the different Manga stories.

A good guess would be that it is intended to be the first of a series.

But we know almost nothing.

 

 

 

 

It has gone quiet around the Amazon series True Skin. Back in July, creator Stephan Zlotescu said things were progressing well.

The plan was to make an hour-long pilot then see if a series was indicated.

Aside from a writer being hired, nothing else has been announced.

The plan was to get it on screens in 2017, but it is unlikely this will be possible with movement being so slow.

Question? Is this project still in play?

 

 

 

 

Question? Will Mute get a theatrical release?

No one is saying. On the plus side Director Duncan Jones has a fanbase who still fawn over Moon and they would support a release.

On the minus, Netflix has had trouble getting theatrical chains to accept their product. And we still have no date for Mute’s Netflix debut.

Let’s take a guess here: Netflix are still negotiating, hoping to get it into cinemas, but ready to just put it out of they can’t get one?

We might never know the actual situation, but I expect it will be out some time this year, one way of another.

Meanwhile Jones is deep in post-production.

 

 

 

 

The other thing coming on streaming services is “Altered Carbon”, we know it has been filming. But nothing else.

Actually we know a couple of things. Added to the cast has been Tamara Taylor. Which is fine.

We also have been looking over the notices of filming, and it has been posted as “Altered Carbon: Season One.” This could mean nothing. We assumed they would do the whole novel in one season, and we still assume it.

We’d hate to think they are splitting it up over multiple seasons…

And we don’t think they will.

But are they thinking they might go to Season 2? How would they proceed? Would they go straight on to Richard Morgan’s follow-up novel Broken Angels? Problem there; the premise of the series is that people can jump from body to body but physically travelling between the stars is difficult, Broken Angels set on a different Planet, with a different cast of characters, in bodies we have not seen. Would Netflix recast?

I don’t think so. I’d like to think they’d stay on Earth, carry on with the same faces, with new characters behind them. They would be new, different and fresh.

But we’re counting our chickens again. Let’s get to Season One first…

 

 

 

 

Another project we have had no news on is Hard Boiled.

I don’t buy it. Initially I didn’t but it because it was so far out of Ben Wheatley’s Wheelhouse.

Now I accept he could make it, but only if it could be made.

Huh?

Take a look at the source material. It is Bugf***.

The level of detail there, the strangeness of it. It just cannot be done.

It can’t be done because it will be too expensive, even with CG the level of visual detail is insane. Even if you shoot, I don’t know, Cambodia (that should be pretty cheap to film in) it will be too expensive.

It can’t be done because it is crazy dirty weird. It is, nobody will finance a film with that much strangeness and filth… and it is a pity.

It can’t be done because no-one knows what is; it is not a “Brand”, before you start shouting. I know what it is, I bought the issues when they were new. I know who Geoff Darrow is I know who Frank Miller is.

Do a street survey and see how many other people know.

You can make deal to make a Hard Boiled movie, but you can’t make a Hard Boiled movie.

 

 

 

 

 

And in other news

 

What Ridley is Not Doing

 

Back in September 2016 Ridley Scot grabbed up the rights of Don Winslow’s unpublished manuscript before it even had a title.

Now we know what is happening to it.

First of all, it now has a title: The Force; NYPD Sergeant Denny Malone has to juggle personal and professional issues amid a city about to explode in racial conflict. A situation complicated by the fact that he has been bought and paid for by one of the city’s biggest drug gangs.

 

The book will be published in June.

And the feature has a director. James Mangold.

The screenwriter has yet to be announced, and there is shooting or release schedule.

 

There is now a Japanese release date for Fullmetal Alchemist Live Action

by Warner Bros. Pictures on December 1st 2017. There is no North American release yet but who knows.

Here’s the Trailer again

 

 

 

Arrival is now out on DVD, surprise, it has as many extra features as the Blu-Ray

Highly recommended.

 

 

 

The alien invasion feature Extinction now has a release date: it is January 26, 2018.

 

 

 

‘Round about this time we usually speculate about what’s coming in Sci Fi London. Not this year. Although we can tell you a little about what is actually coming.

The Festival will open with Caught from Jamie Patterson: it is the classic scenario of fugitives who seek refuge at a remote house and take the owners hostage, only these fugitives are alien.

 

And the festival closes with The Rizen from Matt Mitchell. In 1955 secret NATO weapons experiments backfire: one woman has lead a band of survivors out of a horror the military have unleashed. (Hme, sounds like a zombie movie).

 

Sci Fi London are also jumping on the VR bandwagon with Tesla Punk a film in Spherica’s Immersive Combat program.

 

 

 

Reviews for the film Life are coming out and they are mixed. Not good/bad mixed but OK/great mixed. Most notices agree that it is pretty entertaining, though derivative.

A small number of critics are going nuts over it and think it is the greatest thing since sliced bread.

Basically the scenario is Alien-meets-Gravity: an alien organism attacks in the International Space Station.

We’ll see how that goes.

 

 

 

Military horror is again a bit of a thing.

We just had Spectral (Grunting 217), and later on we have been promised Overlord. But it looks like Overlord (Grunting 223) will have direct competition.

Another film based in World War II, Ghosts of War: a squadron assigned to hold a French chateau discovered the building full of malevolent ghosts.

Eric Bress is to direct.

 

 

 

 

Paramount is to adapt Garth Ennis’ comic The Pro; a prostitute who wakes up one day with superhero powers.

Well, that won’t be controversial.

Zoe McCarthy to write the screenplay.

 

 

 

 

 

*thank you William Goldman

 

 

 

 

 

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.

http://www.darkhorizons.com/

 

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

http://www.starburstmagazine.com/reviews/DVD-and-blu-ray-home-entertainment-reviews

Grunting at the Screen (226)

18 Mar

 

 

 

The information age isn’t finished with us.

 

OK, March, what’s fresh and funky? GITS of course, Life,

MindGamers

The Void

The Belko Experiment

 

The Discovery on Netflix…

 

and some rehash movies. But what the hey.

 

And there is Logan.

We had no intention of watching this. The first Wolverine movie had so much potential, and threw it away. The Second was better, but dissolved into a standard GCI action-fest at the end.

Now all the reviews are saying this is anything but standard. Anything but a regular

superhero movie.

And oh yes, they all say it is very, very good.

All of them; critics in agreement, well it happens, but not really with something positive to say.

You know, the sequel that is better than the original is a rare thing. Even in this era when knock-off sequels are far more seldom. As good as, yes. Better? Not so much; but it seems every Wolverine film is slightly better than its predecessor…

 

 

 

 

 

 

Reviews for The Great Wall are popping up. They all say it is silly, they all say it is fun.

Ah, why not.

 

 

MindGamers has a release date, it is March 28th. This is to coincide with a “global mind experiment”, which I read as “global marketing exercise”.

 

 

 

Here is something cool, a movie based on an idea rather than a label: The Mandela Effect: there is a phenomenon where people misremember an event on mass. It got its name from the persistent rumour that Nelson Mandela died in prison.

What if people are not misremembering? What if it is reality itself in flux?

Script is by Steffen Schlachtenhaufen. Director is to be David Guy Levy.

It’s being cast and will shoot in June.

 

 

 

 

 

Generally I ignore rumours. But when the tip comes from the horse’s mouth then I have to take note.

Neil Blomkamp has been suggesting he will not be making an Alien sequel.

I guess the only one happy about that is me.

I’ve been keeping an eye out for what he does next, and something has emerged; but only as a frustration hint on his twitter stream.

First he said

“Excited to show Mr [William] Gibson some stuff.”

Then “See! Totally new stuff coming in six months?”

You know, it’s worse than a rumour, it tells us nothing;

For a start we know it is not one of the things we have heard before, not a sequel to his three original Science Fiction features, or an expanded version of one of his shorts.

It is not one of the projects previously mooted “The Gone World.”

Guess we’ll find out. In six months.

 

 

OK, Straight to disk.

 

Train to Busan has made it onto UK DVD, I’m not one for zombie movies, but reviews suggest this is one of the best recent ones.

And the disk has extra features too.

 

 

Also on the shelf this month is Supernatural Forces. The title is not familiar, let’s check the cover.

Ah, it seems this is in fact “the Mind’s Eye” (Grunt 188)

And more significantly, this one has actually been well reviewed.

What we have here is a take on those old-school psychic movies like Scanners.

Graham Skipper plays a fugitive psychokinetic being chased by (presumably mad) doctor John Speredakos who wants to turn his power into a weapon.

Many names have been evoked here: John Carpenter, David Cronenberg, Stephen King; and in an approving tone.

Yet they changed the name.

What is going on here, some kind of “anti-branding” where product is given the least recognisable labels to…? I have no idea what the purpose might be.

OK, let’s be unfair; lately in fandom there has been fetish for practical FX over CG, and “Supernatural Forces” is one hundred percent practical with reportedly fine execution.

It is the quality of storytelling I am after, and there might be something going for it in this regard too.

Anyway, I’m a sucker for this kind of thing and if you are too it is now available.

 

 

 

Which brings to mind.

Lately there has been a vogue for two things: practical FX and 80s nostalgia. These things go hand in hand. There has been a rising tide, the most visible example has been stranger Things, but it is far from the only one.

Inanimate/Harbinger Down evoked sea based horror like Deep Star Six and Leviathan.

Infini was reminiscent of Alien and its many homages.

Turbo Kid was a nod to Mad Max

Manborg again Mad Max.

The Void a mix of various John Carpenter: Prince of Darkness, The Thing.

Somnus another alien tribute.

 

Why are we seeing this now? The usual reason is demographic; those who were teenagers in the 80s now have the power to get film and TV made, and they choose to bring back the things they know and love.

 

But let us be realistic, like all trends it will only last so long and it will have both good and bad entries.

 

 

 

So Tomorrow and Tomorrow (Grunting -129) now has a director; Matt Ross (Captain Fantastic).

This is the one where the investigation of a murder in a virtual city uncovers a vast conspiracy.

As of yet there’s no word of cast or schedule.

 

 

 

OK, Dune, I just can’t let it go.

Assuming, as we were, that this film actually gets made there is one burning question: black stillsuits, totally unacceptable or just a regrettable idea?

Back in the eighties the one good aspect of Dune was the costume design, it should have been, it was by the great Bob Ringwood.

But black stillsuits, are you serious. Is there a worse colour to be under the desert sun in, and in rubber? (Maybe that would one useful during the cold dessert nights but really.

I don’t really blame Bob Ringwood, a designer makes what he is told to, and so much of his other stuff was great.

So what colour should a stillsuit actually be?

Sand colour of course; with some creative cinematography they can make sand camouflage suits visible when they have to be and disappear against the dunes when appropriate.

 

Glad I got that out.

 

Meanwhile back to length, I previously suggested the only way to do justice to the breadth of Dune’s story was to split it in two.

But . There. Is. Another. Way.

When legendary Studios bought the rights to Dune they got both the Film and television rights, maybe that was to prevent some other company making a TV version while they were dithering over the movie, maybe they wanted to put Dune on the big screen and the subsequent books relegated to broadcast.

But I have another idea.

They could make film four to six hours of Dune; carefully cut a two and a half hour feature version, but then release a six hour mini-series version with the extra footage on TV. In essence do deliberately something similar to what was done accidentally with the David Lynch film.

 

Now, I have no information suggestion that this is what they intend, but it is a possibility.

 

Which has gained sudden relevance.

An interesting thing happened at the Kong: Skull Island release, bear with me; some critics were praising it for its shortness, they were making snide comments about Peter Jackson’s bloated productions.

Is the tide turning? Is the age of the overlong epic coming to an end?

That is very relevant to future productions, this is very relevant to Dune.

Dune needs a certain amount of space, will it fit into these slimmed-down times?

 

So, where should Dune be filmed?

My first inclination is to Say Morocco; it is where Ridley Scott made The Martian, and Kingdom of Heaven and Black Hawk Down.

Then I remembered that Denis Villeneuve is not making Dune with Ridley Scott. (No, He’s making Blade Runner 2049 with Ridley Scott).

OK, it is unlikely the sands of Morocco will stand in for those of Arrakis.

 

Since Legendary is producing Dune, how about China? They have desert. And it is pretty cheap to film out there. They will get more bang for the buck there.

 

Anyway, we are in that wonderful twilight area; the film has been mooted but it has not yet disappointed us… So we can speculate on how good it could be.

 

Who should write it? Who would you cast (actually I am pretty flexible on this question)?

 

The last thing that bugs me is just who will write the screenplay?

What we know is that Denis Villeneuve has his own particular vision.

We also know that Legendary Pictures has not imposed a script on Villeneuve, we know that because he has said in interview that it has not been written yet.

 

I got to say it is a poisoned chalice. Even of the new writer is unaware of the prestige of the material they are dealing with, it is still a massive tome to reduce to feature film size. I wouldn’t wish it on any… hey, maybe one of the Game of Throne writers could give it a shot, it should be child’s play to them.

 

 

 

 

Blame! is being called a cyberpunk story: based in a city so vast it extends to the orbits of the Gas Giants, I’d say that is questionable, but the imagery is interesting.

What is interesting is the original manga creator was Tsutomu Nihei, who produced some concept art for the abandoned Neuromancer feature.

Blame! already had a cell anime series, but it has been trying to get a CGI feature going for a while. The original studio Basara, went bust before that could happen.

Well, another company, Polygon Pictures, has taken over and it looks like the feature is finally coming.

Here is the trailer.

 

 

 

We last ran into The Last Scout back in Grunting at the Screen (164), thought it had vanished into straight to video hell, but we just found a trailer

It goes to VOD in the US March 7th.

 

 

 

Director Dan Trachtenberg has signed on for Space Race, a Science Fiction feature written by Daniel Kunka.

Other than that details are thin.

It is described as “high concept with four-quadrant tentpole potential”.

Huh?

They’ve lost me.

“High concept: means is the idea is simple as f*** (which is probably why they are keeping it close to their chests, anyone can copy it)

“Tentpole” suggests they think it will be big (oh dear, they may also sink a tone of cash into this one.

“Four-quadrant”? You’ve lost me there.

Essentially they are telling us nothing. However, there is the title; “Space Race”.

It couldn’t be that simple? A bunch of people compete in a race across space; perhaps in spaceships maybe in space yacht, or maybe space bikes (it could happen!)

 

Well, more new if it happens. These “secret ” projects tend to wither secretly on the vine.

 

 

 

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.

http://www.darkhorizons.com/

 

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

http://www.starburstmagazine.com/reviews/DVD-and-blu-ray-home-entertainment-reviews

Grunting at the Screen (225)

6 Mar


The information age isn’t finished with us.

OK, March, what’s fresh and funky? GITS of course, Life,
MindGamers
The Void
The Belko Experiment

The Discovery on Netflix…

and some rehash movies. But what the hey.

And there is Logan.
We had no intention of watching this. The first Wolverine movie had so much potential, and threw it away. The Second was better, but dissolved into a standard GCI action-fest at the end.
Now all the reviews are saying this is anything but standard. Anything but a regular
superhero movie.
And oh yes, they all say it is very, very good.
All of them; critics in agreement, well it happens, but not really with something positive to say.
You know, the sequel that is better than the original is a rare thing. Even in this era when knock-off sequels are far more seldom. As good as, yes. Better? Not so much; but it seems every Wolverine film is slightly better than its predecessor…

Reviews for The Great Wall are popping up. They all say it is silly, they all say it is fun.
Ah, why not.

MindGamers has a release date, it is March 1st. This is to coincide with a “global mind experiment”, which I read as “global marketing exercise”.

Here is something cool, a movie based on an idea rather than a label: The Mandela Effect: there is a phenomenon where people misremember an event on mass. It got its name from the persistent rumour that Nelson Mandela died in prison.
What if people are not misremembering? What if it is reality itself in flux?
Script is by Steffen Schlachtenhaufen. Director is to be David Guy Levy.
It’s being cast and will shoot in June.

Generally I ignore rumours. But when the tip comes from the horse’s mouth then I have to take note.
Neil Blomkamp has been suggesting he will not be making an Alien sequel.
I guess the only one happy about that is me.
I’ve been keeping an eye out for what he does next, and something has emerged; but only as a frustration hint on his twitter stream.
First he said
“Excited to show Mr [William] Gibson some stuff.”
Then “See! Totally new stuff coming in six months?”
You know, it’s worse than a rumour, it tells us nothing;
For a start we know it is not one of the things we have heard before, not a sequel to his three original Science Fiction features, or an expanded version of one of his shorts.
It is not one of the projects previously mooted “The Gone World.”
Guess we’ll find out. In six months.

OK, Straight to disk.

Train to Busan has made it onto UK DVD, I’m not one for zombie movies, but reviews suggest this is one of the best recent ones.
And the disk has extra features too.

Also on the shelf this month is Supernatural Forces. The title is not familiar, let’s check the cover.
Ah, it seems this is in fact “the Mind’s Eye” (Grunt 188)
And more significantly, this one has actually been well reviewed.
What we have here is a take on those old-school psychic movies like Scanners.
Graham Skipper plays a fugitive psychokinetic being chased by (presumably mad) doctor John Speredakos who wants to turn his power into a weapon.
Many names have been evoked here: John Carpenter, David Cronenberg, Stephen King; and in an approving tone.
Yet they changed the name.
What is going on here, some kind of “anti-branding” where product is given the least recognisable labels to…? I have no idea what the purpose might be.
OK, let’s be unfair; lately in fandom there has been fetish for practical FX over CG, and “Supernatural Forces” is one hundred percent practical with reportedly fine execution.
It is the quality of storytelling I am after, and there might be something going for it in this regard too.
Anyway, I’m a sucker for this kind of thing and if you are too, it is now available.

Which brings to mind.
Lately there has been a vogue for two things: practical FX and 80s nostalgia. These things go hand in hand. There has been a rising tide, the most visible example has been stranger Things, but it is far from the only one.
Inanimate/Harbinger Down evoked sea based horror like Deep Star Six and Leviathan.
Infini was reminiscent of Alien and its many homages.
Turbo Kid was a nod to Mad Max
Manborg again Mad Max.
The Void a mix of various John Carpenter: Prince of Darkness, The Thing.
Somnus another alien tribute.

Why are we seeing this now? The usual reason is demographic; those who were teenagers in the 80s now have the power to get film and TV made, and they choose to bring back the things they know and love.

But let us be realistic, like all trends it will only last so long and it will have both good and bad entries.

So Tomorrow and Tomorrow (Grunting -129) now has a director; Matt Ross (Captain Fantastic).
This is the one where the investigation of a murder in a virtual city uncovers a vast conspiracy.
As of yet there’s no word of cast or schedule.

OK, Dune, I just can’t let it go.
Assuming, as we were, that this film actually gets made there is one burning question: black stillsuits, totally unacceptable or just a regrettable idea?
Back in the eighties the one good aspect of Dune was the costume design, it should have been, it was by the great Bob Ringwood.
But black stillsuits, are you serious. Is there a worse colour to be under the desert sun in, and in rubber? (Maybe that would one useful during the cold dessert nights but really.
I don’t really blame Bob Ringwood, a designer makes what he is told to, and so much of his other stuff was great.
So what colour should a stillsuit actually be?
Sand colour of course; with some creative cinematography they can make sand camouflage suits visible when they have to be and disappear against the dunes when appropriate.

Glad I got that out.

Meanwhile back to length, I previously suggested the only way to do justice to the breadth of Dune’s story was to split it in two.
But . There. Is. Another. Way.
When legendary Studios bought the rights to Dune they got both the Film and television rights, maybe that was to prevent some other company making a TV version while they were dithering over the movie, maybe they wanted to put Dune on the big screen and the subsequent books relegated to broadcast.
But I have another idea.
They could make film four to six hours of Dune; carefully cut a two and a half hour feature version, but then release a six hour mini-series version with the extra footage on TV. In essence do deliberately something similar to what was done accidentally with the David Lynch film.

Now, I have no information suggestion that this is what they intend, but it is a possibility.

Which has gained sudden relevance.
An interesting thing happened at the Kong: Skull Island release, bear with me; some critics were praising it for its shortness, they were making snide comments about Peter Jackson’s bloated productions.
Is the tide turning? Is the age of the overlong epic coming to an end?
That is very relevant to future productions, this is very relevant to Dune.
Dune needs a certain amount of space, will it fit into these slimmed-down times?

So, where should Dune be filmed?
My first inclination is to Say Morocco; it is where Ridley Scott made The Martian, and Kingdom of Heaven and Black Hawk Down.
Then I remembered that Denis Villeneuve is not making Dune with Ridley Scott. (No, He’s making Blade Runner 2049 with Ridley Scott).
OK, it is unlikely the sands of Morocco will stand in for those of Arrakis.

Since Legendary is producing Dune, how about China? They have desert. And it is pretty cheap to film out there. They will get more bang for the buck there.

Anyway, we are in that wonderful twilight area; the film has been mooted but it has not yet disappointed us… So we can speculate on how good it could be.

Who should write it? Who would you cast (actually I am pretty flexible on this question)?

The last thing that bugs me is just who will write the screenplay?
What we know is that Denis Villeneuve has his own particular vision.
We also know that Legendary Pictures has not imposed a script on Villeneuve, we know that because he has said in interview that it has not been written yet.

I got to say it is a poisoned chalice. Even of the new writer is unaware of the prestige of the material they are dealing with, it is still a massive tome to reduce to feature film size. I wouldn’t wish it on any… hey, maybe one of the Game of Throne writers could give it a shot, it should be child’s play to them.

Blame! is being called a cyberpunk story: based in a city so vast it extends to the orbits of the Gas Giants, I’d say that is questionable, but the imagery is interesting.
What is interesting is the original manga creator was Tsutomu Nihei, who produced some concept art for the abandoned Neuromancer feature.
Blame! already had a cell anime series, but it has been trying to get a CGI feature going for a while. The original studio Basara, went bust before that could happen.
Well, another company, Polygon Pictures, has taken over and it looks like the feature is finally coming.
Here is the trailer.

We last ran into The Last Scout back in Grunting at the Screen (164), thought it had vanished into straight to video hell, but we just found a trailer

It goes to VOD in the US March 7th.

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.
http://www.darkhorizons.com/

And if you want to walk the wild side of genre video try Starburst’s review section
http://www.starburstmagazine.com/reviews/DVD-and-blu-ray-home-entertainment-reviews

Grunting at the Screen (224)

18 Feb

 

 

 

The information age isn’t finished with us.

 

 

 

 

So what is on the DVD shelves this February?

The usual stuff plus some straight-to-video fare.

Sole Survivor had me scratching my head, where did this one pop up from? Can’t find any reviews for it either.

Ah yes, we have another feature that has changed its name, to protect the guilty makers of this piece of crap.

Sole Survivor from director Christopher Jacobs was originally called Lone Wolves; it’s the end of the world again and a soldier gets in contact with an astronaut trapped on a space station to save civilisation.

The problem is, it sucks. The story, acting, and FX suck. Of course if it has kept its original title you could just look it up and see how much it sucked.

But don’t worry, you know Jack and I’m happy to expose these skinwalking weredisks that think they can slink past your quality control in the dark.

 

You may not have heard of Deep Space from director Ian Truitner, which is not surprising because it was originally called Teleios. Oh here we go again, except we don’t because Teleios is actually well reviewed; good fx for a low budget production, a thoughtful script, acting a little stiff, but that is explicable since the characters are genetically altered artificial humans.

The scenario is a crew of genetically engineered artificals journey out to rescue a mining ship that has gone silent, the miners turn out to be mostly dead and strange thing start happening on the ship.

OK so the scenario is not new, if you have seen Alien or Event Horizon you will find yourself in familiar territory, but reviews suggest the execution is a cut above the rest.

So what was the point in changing the title? Well there does not seem to be one at all.

Deep Space, available in supermarkets.

 

 

 

There are umpteen horror anthology movies at the moment, one close to my heart is “Galaxy of Horrors”, and anthology of Science Fiction horror collected by Justin McConnell, and Avi Federgreen, it features 8 stories from international directors and a framing sequence. It is in cinemas from March 1st and VOD from March 7th,

Here’s a trailer

 

 

 

James Gray’s To the Stars (Grunting 134) is now being called Ad Astra (although they are still going no closer to the stars than they were under the old name). They are talking about casting Brad Pitt.

The plot involves some kind of mental breakdown on a long space voyage.

Grey is talking about making something “conceptually amazing”, good luck to him.

 

 

 

I have not covered Gore Verbinksi’s A Cure for Wellnes because I could not figure out just what it was: was it a thriller? Horror?

To be honest I have no particular feelings about Gore Verbinksi. He’s never particularly impressed me, but I don’t hugely hate his work.

Anyway reviews are out now and… they are interesting. Downright fascinating;

Basic plot; ambitious young executive is set to the mountains to retrieve his boss who is taking the cure in a wellness clinic, when he gets there, the boss is not ready to go and the young man finds himself drawn into a series of treatments at a clinic which is not what seems to be.

The thing is, reviews have described this as totally nuts. Some are positive, some not so much, all agree it is odder than any mainstream film deserves to be.

OK one review says it drags some.

But it sounds just crazy enough that it might be good.

Open Feb. 17th.

 

 

 

 

 

Ah, Black Hole is coming… not The Black Hole. Oh no.

Disney’s long mooted reboot is still in turnaround. We are talking a production from Brad (San Andreas) Peyton.

A black hole enters the solar system setting off the usual global disasters, a team of scientists and soldiers try to prevent total disaster.

 

No Cast as of yet but production is expected to begin in early 2018

 

 

A few years back it looked like we were going to have a major influx of Viking films.

What we got were some well-regarded TV series, but few features.

Perhaps the day of the northlander has come because the production of a major feature has been announced: Viking Destiny: a young girl is banished after being framed for the murder of her father, the king. She travels the world accompanied by the god Odin gathering an army to reclaim the throne. (So long as she does not require a Wizard, a warrior a thief, and an ancient object of power I think she’ll be fine).

The god Odin? Hme. Based on a true story is it? Anyway.

Director is David L.G. Hughes, Terence Stamp has been cast as Odin.

No schedule.

 

 

You may be wandering about that population dystopia What Happened to Monday, well wandering will do no good because it has now changed its name to Seven Sisters.

It is getting an international release, US release is yet to be announced.

 

 

 

Looks like Tom DeLonge has competition. You want Skater Science Fiction? Next up is “Skate God” from director Alexander Garcia in a dystopian world a skater is a descendant of a geek god.

The plan is to shoot in the late spring.

 

 

 

 

 

The Space Between Us: Review

First of all the cast is great Britt Robertson is a young Julia Roberts, a young Kyra Sedgwick, she lights up the screen, gives a convincing performance and is someone to watch in future movies, (Asa Butterfield is every bit as good a s he was in Ender’s Fame, which is very good. He does a good performance f someone lost on Earth.

Gary Oldman plays against type effectively.

 

The film starts well portraying Oldman as a space visionary (apparently Elon Musk is now a “type”). The FX here are solid and credible.

In fact, later the film makers even make an effort to portray Martian gravity.

Which is all well and good because this film sucks!

Yes even a good performance cannot survive a film with a terrible script, and this one is the cinematic equivalent of Swiss cheese.

Where do I begin? OK with the premise; i.e. NASA (even in collaboration with a private company) sending a pregnant astronaut into space. With the health examinations flight crew get, they won’t send one up with a head cold.

And how about the fact that don’t have the nouse to do a urine test but do include a sonogram kit up with the medical equipment? Sounds like a little accidentally-on purpose.

Moving on swiftly, why is NASA ending people to Mars when they have clearly found a hole in Einstein’s relativity? I mean the instant communication between Earth and Mars. With that theoretical breakthrough we should be designing starships.

At closest approach the time delay between Earth and Mars is four minutes, at its most distant, about twenty four. It took me 45 seconds to find that. 45 seconds the film makers didn’t think you were worth.

Apparently Asa Butterfield plays someone with an immune system of steel; despite all of exposure to Earth pathogens the only threat to his life are the conditions he brings from Mars.

Which reminds me, he walks from a capsule landing. After an entire life on Mars and seven months at zero g (I’m sorry, “microgravity”) he walks. So they reinforced his bones with carbon nanofiber, did they reinforce his muscles as well?

And let’s not get into accelerating into orbit with your head on a girl’s lap. (Stiff neck maybe?)

The technical difficulties are not the only problem, Asa and Britt are not shown communication long enough to form the kind of bond they later have, not even for horny teenagers.

But the way there is a twist at the end, but don’t worry, you won’t care.

The film is not without virtue, it is cut tightly enough to move along swiftly (which suggests a whole lot of missing plot support.)

And the love story is kind of cute: she’s from Colorado, her boyfriend is from Mars.

But it doesn’t forgive the utter mess it all is.

So why did the film have so many implausibilities? I realised when Britt was flying they away in her foster dad’s crop-duster (Oh yeah, they do that) that the very reason the film makers decided to pointlessly make this a Science Fiction movie is they think sci fi fans will buy and crap you serve up to them, they don’t care they’re dumb as a bag of spanners.

Well this this fan ain’t playing.

The credits rolled up with the names of the writers. Well I’m taking you over my knee: Don’t. Write. Again. Till. You’ve. Read. A. Science. Book! Now go to your corners!*

Only go see this movie if you enjoy getting your intelligence repeatedly insulted.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

*Hme, that was a little too revealing…

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

 

 

 

 

 

Grunting at the Screen (223)

6 Feb

 

 

 

The information age isn’t finished with us.

 

 

 

 

With the coming of February, life begins.

The Space Between Us opens on the 10th.

We covered this back in Grunts (158), (187), (210) and (220) so you may well know nothing about this feature…

Anyway.

The question we are asking, with Passengers and this one: is the Space Rom-Com now a “thing”?

 

 

Reviews for The Space Between Us are emerging. They hate it. Oooh they hate it bad. They hate it for different reasons, they hate the characters, they hate the plot, they hate the bad science. I’d be more comfortable if they hated it for just one reason.

Well, it’s traditional to start the year with a bad movie.

I’m in.

 

Also coming in February;

John Wick: Chapter 2

The Great Wall,

and God Particle.

 

 

Now it is definitely February. What I mean is everything is happening; Dune has a director and it is Denis Villeneuve.

 

To be honest I did not see it happening. Denis Villeneuve had mentioned how tiring it was making BR, so it was hardly likely he’d plump for another bigger Science Fiction production.

But here we are.

A number of factors contributed to this outcome. Denis Villeneuve expressed interest even before Legendary acquired the rights.

 

He built an impressive portfolio with independent films, the Arrival was a hit and he was selected for BR.

 

He is an avowed Science Fiction fan but one with selective taste.

 

And finally getting an Oscar nomination did not hurt.

 

This outcome also follows Legendary’s usual policy of hiring the directors of smaller innovative films to make their larger budget features: Guillermo del Toro, Duncan Jones, Gareth Edwards all benefited from this approach.

 

 

There is, of course no guarantee the feature will even get made; like may science fiction classics, Dune is (and make no bones about it ) cursed.

 

Denis Villeneuve is just the latest of many, many directors to be attached to this most prestigious of projects. Let me count the names.

Peter Berg

Pierre Morel

Alejandro Jodorowsky

Ridley Scott

 

More than one of them got well into preproduction with a lot of heavy art commissioned before the project fell apart.

 

Dune has also been made twice: once as a feature film, once as a mini-series.

The feature gathered a small but vocal cult audience, bit it is by no means adjudged a classic. Most of the film-going community is ignorant or indifferent to it and a small number are still quite hostile to it.

 

As for the Mini-series, I shall speak no more of it (well I thought it was OK).

 

Being that the Legendary production is the remake of a thirty year old film, you’d think I’d be ready to pour contempt on it.

 

Not so. Dune has never been done right.

 

A book as well regarded as Frank Herbert’s Dune should have a film to match.

 

What I object to is rebooting classic films. Dune is the perfect case of unrealised potential.

 

So, let’s pretend the making of Dune is a lock.

 

How should legendary and its director tackle it.

 

Well, ahem, I have a few modest suggestions.

 

Before Frank Herbert wrote Dune, he roughed out a smaller more conventional novel called Spice Planet. The notes for this were fleshed out into a short novel by Frank Herbert’s son Brian, and Kevin Anderson. I strongly suggest that Legendary should secure the rights to this novel. Why? it contains all of the cinematic bones that allow you to make a version of Dune that a general audience can understand easily. What do I mean by that?

What is the root of the disagreement between the Emperor and Duke Leto?

What is the secret origin of Spice?

Why would the Emperor even allow The Atreides to take over the valuable spice planet Arakis?

It is all in Spice Planet, and in a very linear way.

 

There is one more thing Legendary should seriously consider: Split it in half.

Before Lord of the Rings it would have been a risky thing to suggest. But Dune is such a massive story to tell, you can either make an 8 hour film (and you see how that worked out for David Lynch) or you can split the film. After all, the novel was originally published as two volumes.

 

And while they are at it they should get the rights to the Jim Burns illustrations in Frank Herbert’s Eye. Why? Herbert worked with the artist to produce his preferred vision: this is Dune as the author saw it.

 

When Peter Jackson made LOTR he roped in the most highly regarded Tolkien artists to conceptualise it. There is benefit to not reinventing the wheel.

And I’m not the only one who thinks Dune should be remade because the feature was originally a bit off.

http://www.tasteofcinema.com/2017/10-failed-movies-with-good-premises-that-should-be-remade/2/

 

In fact they feel that way about a bunch of films.

 

 

 

And fabulous February does not end here. We are also hearing word that Ursula K. Le Guin’s Planet of Exile has been optioned by Los Angeles Media Fund.

I’ve read some of her Hainish novels but I can’t say I remember reading this one.

Two tribes live on the planet Werel; Human and extraterrestrial. But the long winter is coming and tension between the groups is rising.

 

Screenwriter is Daniel Stiepelman and the project is still in its earliest days.

 

 

 

J.J. Abrams is producing a supernatural war film called Overlord; two paratroopers on a mission discover supernatural forces working against them. Julius Avery will direct.

No schedule as yet.

 

 

 

 

Tom DeLonge is set to direct Strange Times: San Diego skateboarders investigate paranormal activity.

Tom DeLonge is better known as a founder member of Blink-182, but he has previously produced The Signal (Grunt 147) and Love (Grunt 102).

 

 

We are delighted to tell you about Origin Unknown to be directed by Hasraf Dullul and written by Gary Hall: a discovery beneath the surface of Mars threatens to change everything.

Hmm, Hasraf Dullul where did I hear that name before? Ah yes, short film director, made a film named Project Kronos.

And Sync.

 

With Origin Unknown he is graduating to the big time.

Cast in the lead is Katee Sackhoff

Principal photography begins later February in London

 

 

They just keep coming: Chris “The Darkest Hour” Gorak is to direct and write “Attach”: an athlete gets a cutting edge prosthetic arm and leg, they are artificially intelligent, and somehow they start having ideas of their own.

Great! This is perfect high-concept: Hand of Orlac meets the Bionic Man.

Alex Russell takes the lead.

The production company is still raising the finance for it.

 

 

 

 

China Film Group is joining up with director Timo Vuorensola to make Iron Sky: The Ark, third in the series.

Wait a second did I miss the second one?

Ah, I see, he second one; Iron Sky: The Coming Race, has not been released yet. It is due out in September 2017.

The China Film Group must be really confident of success.

Max Wang has written the screenplay and Vuorensola will direct.

OK, this one will be set and I presume shot in China for delivery in 2018.

Confusingly it is chronologically before The Coming Race.

No word on the plot, but I am guessing it involves some kind of “Ark”, (I’m hoping for a giant space ark taking all the Nazis from earth… like forever.)

As I said, Everyone is going to China.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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.

http://www.darkhorizons.com/

 

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

http://www.starburstmagazine.com/reviews/DVD-and-blu-ray-home-entertainment-reviews

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Grunting at the Screen (222)

30 Jan

 

 

 

The information age isn’t finished with us.

 

January is the slow part of the year. The world is in recovery from Christmas and there is not a huge amount of news.

 

 

There are a couple of scheduled releases:

Underworld Blood Wars January 6th 2017

Resident Evil: The Final Chapter January 26th.

 

 

 

It seems these series always end up next to each other. (Why don’t they just get a room?*) Despite some ropy recent instalments I’d like to check out the Underworld Sequel and if there is a non-3D version of Resident Evil 6, I might do that one too!

 

I’m not a huge fan of sequels, but these are a couple of series which have been mid-budget and fun and, despite a certain decent into cheesiness, lack the cynicism of some other franchises out there.

Really.

 

Reviews for Underworld: Blood Wars are out and they are pretty mediocre, well the ones that aren’t plain bad.

Still… if I can catch it cheap, I just might.

 

 

 

We are hearing about a new Science Fiction project from producer Jerry Bruckheimer; It is called Origin, Joachim Ronning is to direct. Ronning and his brother Andreas Ronning will write.

No details of story as of yet but I doubt it is related to the Swedish film of the same name.

Bruckheimer is a film industry legend, known for producing big budget action films. Lately he has been associated with the box office sensation Pirates of the Caribbean franchise.

He is not known for making Science Fiction, although he did produce the time travel feature Deja Vu in 2006.

 

Origin is described as “contemporary, big scale, high concept”. Not very informative. Let’s see if we can interpret.

Easiest is “big scale”, they want to spend a ton of cash on it, maybe 100, 150 million dollars and upward.

High Concept? Ah, it is so simple you can put it a single sentence (You’d think it would be the opposite, but this is Hollywood speak); well that explains why they are so cagy about the story; if it is that simple anyone can do it.

Contemporary? Well I don’t know. Set in contemporary times? Maybe. But I suspect what they mean is it’s pretty much like something we all know and has been known to already make money. So, not very original.

In any case, we may not see at all. Many of these mysterious film projects with no names, or no known stories end up languishing in turnaround for years before quietly fading.

 

 

Steven Hammel and Keanu Reeves have a production outfit called Company Films and yes, they too are going to China.

They are lining up a number of TV and feature film projects to be co-producing by Chinese companies.

Lined up so far is: Rally Car, Olivier Megaton directing, Jeremy Lott writing; Reeves is a rally driver in a race across the Gobi desert.

Unmanned, Tim Webber directing to be shot in the autumn at Wanda’s studios in China; human soldiers are paired with robot drones that will soon make them obsolete.

Company Films is also working on an untitled (uh-oh) Science Fiction feature with Shu Huan.

And there is also Looking for Aladdin; a quest to find the lost lamp of Aladdin.

 

 

When we last reported on Rupert Wyatt’s Captive State (Grunting 211)

we had no details.

Well, we’ve got details.

For a decade Chicago has been occupied by an extraterrestrial force. This film is to highlight life in the surveillance state.

Just Chicago? Surly not. And is it really aliens we have fear in an authoritarian society?

Cast are John Goodman and Ashton Sanders, no word on schedule.

 

 

With the New Year come new DVDs.

Rupture had a cinema release, but hardly anyone heard about it. Morgan, well I didn’t take to it on the big screen, I doubt that will change for a home release, and here is something interesting: Somnus. Looking at the cover it looks like the typical cheap straight to video release. Only thing, this one went to Cannes. A commercial spacecraft takes an unscheduled trip to the colony Somnus where things are not as they should be.

Chris Reading is the director and it seems he has taken some interesting strategies in making it. It was shot in redressed cold-war aircraft interiors. CG was kept to a minimum and miniature work was used in the space sequences. And there were some visual nods to 2001 and Alien.

Increasingly at the independent level we are seeing films reverting to old-school methods where they can.

Anyway, I have seen a few reviews, they are mixed but by and large they agree that it is an amalgamation of earlier films, it brings little new to the pot

 

 

 

 

 

Attack on Titan is getting a live action feature. What? It had one already? Ah yes. This one is an American feature.

Producer will be David Heyman, the studio is Warner Bros.

As ever there is no word on script writer, cast or schedule.

This is just the latest in a string of Anima or Manga adaptations, it also slips into the trend for giant monsters: King Kong Skull Island opens this year, nest year we will have Pacific Rim: Maelstrom and in the mid-future will be the King Kong vs. Godzilla rematch.

 

 

It’s not a movie but we like Andy Weir; the author of The Martian is writing and producing the TV series Mission Control; it’s about the personal and professional lives of astronauts. CBC is the network. So far they have only asked for a pilot but if it goes well a series may be commissioned.

Just so long as it isn’t Defying Gravity.

 

 

Brandon Sanderson’s novella “Snapshot,” has been optioned by MGM: in the future the police take a snapshot of a day to solve crimes. During one investigation a horrifying discovery is made.

So far there is no director, no script, you know the routine.

 

 

 

 

Ubisoft continues to reposition its games as feature films, latest one is The Division; (formerly known as “Tom Clancy’s The Division”) a third person shooter set in a pandemic aftermath.

 

They are already quite far along with the preparations; director will be, Stephen Gaghan, Jessica Chastain and Jake Gyllenhaal have been cast.

No schedule of yet.

 

 

What’s Ridley Not Doing.

Ridley Scott’s Scott Free production company is actively pursuing the acquisition of The Wailing remake rights, this was a south Korean movie from 2016; a police office in a small village comes up against a strange contagion where people randomly become violent to others or themselves; a Japanese man said to be demon possessed is the chief suspect, but soon the policeman and his family become targeted by the contagion.

Now Scot Free has not acquired it yet, and if it does there is no indication that Ridley Scott would direct.

In fact the studio head Hosung Kim, from Fox International Productions, Korea does not believe it could be remade outside of its specific cultural context and certainly not without its original director Na Hong Jin.

 

 

 

The Dune feature film may well be dead.

Oh there has been no announcement but I have reason to believe.

It goes like this.

Thomas Tull, The head of Legendary (the film studio that acquired Dune) has been replaced.

There is a terrible truth from the plains of Africa: when the new lion takes over the pride, he kills the pride’s cubs so he can make his own.

It is just so in Hollywood studios.

Well, not exactly so…

When the new studio head comes along the films greenlit by the old studio head face a hard time. Those not in yet in production are put into turnaround. These completed and facing release are dumped in unfavourable parts of the year with little or no promotion.

The problem is , not only was Dune bought under Thomas Tull’s regime, he will remain the producer even after leaving the studio.

But why would a studio head sabotage his own pictures: it is all about perception; if these “legacy” films do well, the success belongs to his predecessor, if they do badly it is proof that replacing the old regime was the right thing to do.

It’s just politics.

 

 

Good news everyone. The Arrival has been nominated for a Best Picture Oscar, Director Denis Villeneuve has also been nominated.

All in all it got seven, with nominations for best Cinematography , best sound mixing, best sound editing, best production design and best adapted screenplay

I usually cannot be bothered with awards, they are mostly crap. But it is irksome when year after year great genre pictures fail to even get a nomination, enough so that it is worth noting when they do.

Also gaining a couple of nods was Passengers; best original soundtrack, and best production design. Not too bad.

 

 

Michael Bay continues to attempt to make another science fiction feature, the latest one is Little America. Sadly he is not directing this one. To be written and directed by Rowan Athale: in the future the president has bankrupted the USA, Americans are emigration to China to find jobs, and a Chinese billionaire hired and American ex Force Recon marine to find his lost daughter.

No cast or schedule as yet.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

* Actually, it was discussed bringing these titles together until it was pointed out no camera could contain that amount of tight latex without actually exploding.

 

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.

http://www.darkhorizons.com/

 

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

http://www.starburstmagazine.com/reviews/DVD-and-blu-ray-home-entertainment-reviews