Grunting at the Screen (231)

20 May

 

 

 

The information age isn’t finished with us.

 

 

 

The Net is evil; we know that because cheap horror movies tell us.

Confirmation comes from forthcoming action film, Guns Akimbo, starring Daniel Radcliffe. He plays a man lured into an on-line gladiatorial competition.

It has been written and directed by Jason Lei Howden.

It is currently in pre-production.

 

 

 

Rob “the Fast & the Furious” Cohen has been tapped as director for Everette Hartsoe’s comic, Razor: Nicole Mitchell has become the crime fighting vigilante known as Razor.

Here’s a thing, Cohen’s been hired to make the film and its sequel which has a name, Stryke.

I love it when studios do this kind of stuff. There is technical term in the film industry, it’s called: counting your chickens before they hatch.

And we’ve seen it before, on the eve of a release you get the marketing blurb “we are so excited about this one, we’ve already greenlit the sequel.”* You wouldn’t guess how often this is followed by a film crashing and burning.

So, let’s just let the audience decide whether there will be a sequel.

No word on screenwriter, cast or start date.

 

 

 

Now this is what I’ve been looking for: Extrasensory, a film starring Toby Kebbell, directed by Lesley Manning with a screenplay by Stephen Volk.

Twin brothers are recruited by Soviet intelligence to test telepathy.

Usually I’d be saying it had no start date, but actually shooting will commence in late October 2017.

 

 

 

We mentioned Kill Switch back in Grunt (230), well it has a limited release date now: it has a US release from June 16th.

 

 

 

We also have news on the surveillance thriller Captive State, Grunt (222), no wait, the alien surveillance thriller: we have a US release date; August 17, 2018.

 

 

 

 

Now this is interesting.

Netflix has signed a deal with Ridley Scott to adapt JG Ballard’s “Hello America” as a feature.

No world on writer, director or schedule yet.

 

 

 

 

Alien: Covenant.

 

One of the big surprises to me was that he surrendered the director’s chair of Blade Runner: 2049, but held onto Alien: Covenant.

He’d just done The Martian, why would he want to do another space movie? It seemed like he had unfinished business.

 

Honestly I thought he was aiming to finish the business of Prometheus while hiding his intention under the “Alien” label, but interviews suggest he is really going for it.

Which is a pity because another Alien sequel is not that interesting, we know all the moves. And Prometheus deserves to have a proper conclusion.

 

 

Alien: Covenant is upon us.

I haven’t blogged much comment about it. And if it wasn’t a film directed by Ridley Scott I wouldn’t be seeing it at all.

I have concerns, but likely not those that the rest of the audience has.

It of course follows on from Prometheus, a film that made moderate Box Office but attracted a lot of (I’d say unnecessary) vituperation.

There were various objections, but I believe it boiled down to the fact that Prometheus didn’t give us the familiar Alien formula established over six previous films. (For Alien movies, and Two Alien Vs. Predator.) This was a deliberate strategy spearheaded by the studio (not the director or writers.)

I suspect the audience for Alien: Covenant will be suspicious that there will be more of the same.

I pretty much know they will be wrong.

From the name itself (marking it as an Alien film not a Prometheus sequel) to the elements (all of the usual tropes are present: eggs, facehuggers, xenomorphs) this is solidly the Alien movie the audience expected… last time.

This deliberate, Ridley Scott took to heart the criticisms of Prometheus and determined to make a crowd-pleaser. However he also placing himself. The Engineers from Prometheus are back, and so are the ideas of creation and origins previously touched on.

Will this be enough? Crowds are notoriously difficult to please. The Matrix sequels gave as much action ass you could want in two films, but because they mixed philosophy in there to the audience howled (They still bought tickets even while howling.)

Well in Alien Covenant, whatever epic ideas Ridley Scott has about Alien Gods and the origin of man will be underpinned by well tested narrative of chestbursting aliens picking off humans one by one.

And that is the problem.

I own an Alien film, I own six. Why do I want something I’ve already seen? I guess it’s just me.

 

Anyway, I made this bed for myself and I’m prepared for the backache.

Meanwhile a review has emerged, and it is positive. Hme.

We’ll see.

 

 

 

 

So What Is Ridley Doing?

Back in Grunt (229) we expressed consternation* at the opacity of Ridley Scott’s future plans.

Uncharacteristically he has now revealed them unambiguously.

First he will make ‘All the Money in the World’ (Which is casting right now) then The Cartel.

And in a year he will be making the next Alien prequel, for a release in fourteen months’ time. I’m going to be literal about this and say September or October 2019.

(And oh yes, he may have another after that.)

Well finally that is clear.

(Let’s just say we don’t believe a word of this)

 

 

 

 

 

 

Alien Covenant.

Review.

Pretty much the only thing that really didn’t work was the prologue with David and Weyland talking about their quest to find the creators. A little stiff and not necessary in story terms.

 

There is a lot familiar here. This is a film of homages. The title sequence is classic Alien, with the letters slowly emerging sideways. There is a reappearance of Jerry Goldsmith’s familiar title theme. And it does not stop here.

 

The plot; the Covenant is a colony ship on its way to an earth-like planet when it intercepts a message that appears to be human.

They track it down to a paradise planet which might be a closer and more viable target than their colonisation world.

 

On investigation they find a snake in this Eden (and I am sure the metaphor is very deliberate). If you ever saw an Alien movie you can guess the nature of this hazard.

 

So we get the return of the Android David from Prometheus but Elizabeth Rapace appears only in drawings.

There is some wired homo-eroticism between androids David and Walters. Not so much “subtext” as just “text”. And some homages to Blade Runner in the dialogue and staging.

 

The classic forms of the alien organism reappear and there is the requisite amount of action and gore.

 

This is a Ridley Scott film so the execution is tight, visually it is more than satisfactory (and one of my thoughts was Uh, Oh, Adam Savage has a new spacesuit he needs to build) Oh shoot, he’s already discovered it!

And the pace is good.

In all aspects Scott has polished up the material. The look and performances are up to standard. It is an improvement on 1978’s Alien. And mostly just that.

 

I was slightly annoyed to see another scene of tobacco smoking in a future-set movie. Really? Is that likely?

 

On the whole it was very entertaining, very efficient.

 

But not essential. There is one plot point that advances knowledge of the Alien mythology. However the expected philosophy and depth is barely rushed through: One Shelly poem and a snippet of Wagner do not make a an intellectual feast

 

It felt like the values of Prometheus had been flipped upside down: Where it had been cerebral, this is visceral, there it has been indirect, this is specific, where it had been strange, this was familiar.

 

The Engineers re-appear in an unmotivated but enlightening flashback (hme… didn’t think it went that way).

 

On the whole, if all you want is entertainment, this will be more than adequate; it is as good as any of the Alien sequels. If you wanted it kicked up to the other level in the Direction Prometheus seemed to be heading. Not happening.

 

There are still a couple of questions left hanging from Prometheus, based on this they will remain unanswered.

 

You know, this is the first Alien film I feel no desire to own…

 

Your choice.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Alien: Covenant has had an international opening of $42m, ahead of its US opening.

Thing is, I don’t know if this is a good thing. I think I used to know, but with bigger budgets and even bigger expectations it could mean anything.

 

 

 

 

 

*Blind rage.

** Daybreakers, Robin Hood, Real Steel, Conan (reboot) all have unproduced sequels.

 

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 (230)

10 May

 

 

 

The information age isn’t finished with us.

 

 

Blumhouse is a production company known for its hit horror pictures. Lately it has been moving sideways into science fiction. The latest such feature is something called Only You; they are calling it a “time-travel thriller”, but otherwise keeping their cards close to their chests.

David Oyelowo has been cast, Jacob Estes is to write and direct.

 

 

 

OK, we have a release date for Prisoner X, -Grunting (195)- it’s out on VOD and DVD on June 6, 2017.

This is about the interrogation of a time travelling prisoner who started a war.

 

 

We are hearing about “Encounter” a feature film by Paul J. Salamoff; four friends discover a crashed space-ship, rescue the alien from it and find themselves being chased by the authorities…hey that’s ET!

Luke Hemsworth is to star.

Shooting commences this month.

 

 

 

Apparently feature film project Gemini Man has been knocking around for two decades; a veteran assassin who has to battle his 25-years-younger clone,

Jerry Bruckheimer originated the project. Digital de-aging technology will likely be used.

The latest director to be linked to it is Ang (Hulk) Lee, but he has not quite signed on yet.

More as it develops.

 

 

After the briefest and narrowest of theatrical debuts The Void is out on DVD. And it has extras.

It is deliriously well reviewed.

 

 

 

We have the English subtitled version of the Fullmetal Alchemist trailer.

Enjoy.

 

 

 

Marketing for Alien: Covenant is beginning in earnest. It opens in Mid-May and I honestly do not know what to say except I would not be even talking of it if it wasn’t a Ridley Scott film.

Oh, I’ll see it. And then we will know.

 

You know I have a thing for straight to disk science fiction movies. I live in hope. I really do.

Well, I’m scanning the shelves when I come across “The Winter Soldier”. No seriously, it is not a subtitle it’s just “The Winter Soldier”, they do know that..er the name is somewhat already taken, do they?

Well apparently they do, because after a more than frustrating attempt to look it up, (for some reason another movie keeps coming up). I discover “The Winter Soldier” as directed by Joey Curtis was until recently known as 2307: Winter’s Dream.

Ah that makes sense. It’s another one of those name changing DVDs.

So, that confusion sorted out. I looked up what it was.

Hmme, seems like the title wasn’t all they borrowed. It has an android named Ash-393 being chased across a frozen wasteland by a character called Bishop, This feels like a sad version of Blade Runner on ice with nods to Alien, Aliens and any 80s Science Fiction Action film they can touch on the way down.

If you are jonesing for a cliché, you can find it on all good… er adequate … you can find it in supermarkets.

 

 

We finally have a release date for Wesley Snipes’ The Recall: June 16 (there is also a virtual reality release, but we can’t be bothered with that.)

 

 

This one came out of nowhere: Kill Switch directed by Tim Smit. A pilot has to save the world when an energy experiment using parallel worlds goes wrong.

it is looking at a limited theatrical release from June 16th.

Here is a typically CG heavy trailer;

 

 

Talking of the Black List, ah we weren’t, but were we back in Grunting (219).

Among the screenplays we were talking about was Mother:

“A robot Mother raises a girl in a bunker, until a stranger comes along.” We’ve got more; the earth has been depopulated and the robots are being used to raise a new generations of humans.

Well it looks like Mother is off the shelf. The writer is Michael Lloyd Green, director is Grant Sputore. Clara Rugaard has been cast and it is in preproduction to be shot in Australia.

No start date as yet.

 

The Black List of unproduced screenplays has a legendary status, but I’m wondering how long it can keep it, with so many of the films that make it off the list crashing and burning…

 

 

 

 

Finally after many years Upside Down has come to DVD,

“Huh?” You say. we first reported on it back in Grunting at the Screen (81)

and that was a long time ago.

“Upside Down is a romantic fantasy about two worlds inverted from each other, one down, one up, of course you have to have a romance separated by these worlds).”

It was completed and reviewed as long ago as 2013. But this is the first sight I have had of it.

You can get it in legitimate places where DVDs are sold, not just supermarkets

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

So we have more information on Andy (the Martian) Weir’s next book.

Hey wait a minute, this isn’t a movie!

You know what? I’ll allow it.

Its name is “Artemis” and it is based on the first city on the moon. what it looks like is a crime story with a noirish conspiracy plot attached.

And no sign or any lone spacemen needing rescue.

I like what I am hearing.

It has a publication date on November 14, 2017

… And by the way the film rights have already been sold to Fox and New Regency.

So maybe it fits in after all.

 

 

 

 

 

Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2.

Review.

…Celestial Huh! Didn’t see that coming..

Anyway, this film is almost unreviewable. Whatever anyone says it will be a huge hit.

Let’s see, the Guardians take a job protecting some sacred batteries , but instead Rocket steals them.

This leads to a deadly chase, an encounter with the past and the possible destruction of most of the universe.

Fundamentally it is story about families and the story is familiar; jut so we never have say this again, the family of choice trumps any biological connection where the connection has been broken for enough years. See. we can move on now.

OK., as expected the FX are competently executed. Baby Groot is cute and dangerous, Gamora is finally allowed to be the most dangerous woman in the universe.

However the whole tone of the film is distracted. Really. It feels like director James Gunn made it while texting, tweeting or doing something else he’d rather be doing.

The only exception is the over-long coda after the climax which becomes an uncomfortable stretch of genuflection after all of the action and clowning.

This makes it sound like I hated the film, but in fact I enjoyed it, it’s very funny and until the end does not flag.

In fact It is better than the first one.

But it’s as inconsequential as any film about the destruction of most of the universe could be. Fun but Fluff.

And yes, there are five (count them) post credit scenes. And yes they are pretty trivial (but what can you expect from the men who gave you Howard the Duck last time?)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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 (229)

18 Apr

 

 

 

 

The information age isn’t finished with us.

 

 

What the F*** is Ridley Doing? No Really!

You know, every time we think we’ve figured what Ridley Scott is doing he blindsides us.

I’m sure it is not personally directed at the fans, just a defence mechanism against the film industry, but still.

So what has he done now?

You know he announced he would directing one Alien movie after another (the sequel to Alien: Covenant is already written), and you know he then announced his next film would be All the Money in the World the kidnap drama.

That in itself puts Alien 6 (or Prometheus 3… who knows) three years away: figure it out, a year for All the Money in the World and two at least for another Alien.

Well he’s just gone and signed for another film. And it isn’t even one of the numerous projects on his backburner (he has a backburner bigger than the Dorchester Hotel’s kitchen). Oh no Ridley’s latest project is an unnamed Battle of Britain feature; screenplay is by Matthew Orton and 20th Century Fox is behind it.

When is he going to have time for this?

Don’t get me wrong, I don’t care if he never makes another Alien film, he has been there and done that (superbly).

But it drives me nuts; what is he doing?

 

 

We have more information on Sci Fi London 2017 programme.

Also screening are.

Diverge: Director James Morrison

The Kaos Brief: Director JP Mandarino

Caught: Director Jamie Patterson

Anti Matter: Director Keir Burrows

The Last Scout: Director Simon Phillips

The Gatheouse: Director Martin Gooch

Occupants: Director Russ Emanuel

Virtual Revolution: Director Guy-Roger Duvert

The End of the Lonely Island: Director Ren Chao Wang

Domain: Director Nathaniel Atcheson

Sublimate: Directors Roger Armstrong, John Hickman

Space Detective: Director Antonio Llapur

 

Some of these we have covered before.

The Last Scout: British movie, humanity’s search for a new home planet. Was due for release two years ago.

Virtual Revolution: French, yes it is that low budget cyberpunk thing. From the trailer it looks very generic.

Domain: social media during the viral holocaust.

(In fact three of Sci Fi London’s features take place during or in the wake of some kind of pandemic disaster: do they know something we don’t?)

 

 

 

 

This is big news, although you may not see it as.

Invincible will be a movie.

OK, you likely don’t read it but Invincible is a comic written by Robert (The walking Dead) Kirkman.

Yes, it is a superhero comic. But it is more.

See it started as a comic for all the family, the story of a boy who gets super powers and comes to terms with it while having relationships, dealing with family etc. So far so Spider-Man.

Then in issue seven the equivalent of the Justice League in this universe are brutally murdered.

I dunno, maybe Kirkman just got bored of the “leave it to beaverness” of it, but from there it gets brutal, with secrets, alien invasions, worldwide crises and battles that leave all parties beaten to bloody pulp. What happened dude? OK, it is unspeakably violent, but a really different take on the superhero genre.

Now it will be a film,

Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg are to write and direct and as long as Rogen is not playing the title character it should be fine.

 

 

 

I am staying on top of the Dune project, latest news is that Eric Roth will write the screenplay.

It’s a classy choice he’s written Forrest Gump, The Insider and The Curious Case of Benjamin Button.

And he’s not a ‘genre” writer so emphasis is going to be character not FX.

It’s cool.

 

 

 

It should not surprise me but Ghost in the Shell will get a new anime feature, it will be directed by Kamiyama Kenji and Aramaki Shinji.

 

 

 

The Recall hasn’t got a release date but Wesley Snipes has another feature lined up: Armed Response directed by John Stockwell, written by Matt Savelloni from WWE Studios. Anne Heche, Gene Simmons and Dave Annable co-star.

A highly trained armed team is trapped in a compound where the central AI has been shut down, they begin to experience strange phenomena.

Sounds like the start of every zombie film. (I do hope it is not zombies).

More details as they emerge.

 

 

 

 

Activision Blizzard Studio are planning to build a cinematic universe around their Call of Duty, property. Because that worked so well with Ubisoft and Assassin’s Creed.

Wait, this imaginary thing in my ear tells me attempts to boost Ubisoft game property to the big screen have in fact crashed and burned.

They have plans for at least three films with the first arriving as early as 2018.

Well maybe Activision Blizzard Studio will have better luck.

 

 

 

 

In Grunting (224) we blogged Ad Astra, the feature that goes into space but goes nowhere near the stars (unless you count Sol… no, wait, they are going the other way.)

Well it has a schedule now. Brad Pitt will be shooting on July 17th. He will play an astronaut on a voyage to Neptune in search of the fate of his father who disappeared earlier.

Director James Gray is very bullish about it; he wants to give us the most authentic version of space travel in a movie yet. Looks like he’s going up against the biggest swinging d… er.. the most illustrious directors on earth. Good luck with that. I predict he will get caned by the same folk who gave Gravity a thrashing.

Nevertheless I am glad Brad Pitt is getting into the Science Fiction game, he’s been out of it since 12 Monkeys (Come on! World War Z was a fantasy.)

And you know what? We like ambition. We’ll keep on top of it.

 

 

 

 

What’s Neill Blomkamp Doing?

Since he finished Chappie there has been some speculation about what the District 9 director would do next. For a while it looked like he would do a sequel to Aliens, but Ridley Scott put the kibosh on that one.

Lately he has been hinting at an original project he’s been working on; but without giving specifics.

Latest word from his twitter account is him asking if people would be interested in him putting his experimental films on the Steam Games web-site, as tests for potential feature films.

He is making the short films right now and the main question is whether to give them away for free.

Intriguing.

In fact the plan is to release them on Steam via a company called Oats Studios.

Author William Gibson has had a preview and he says ” I can personally vouch for @NeillBlomkamp having some exquisitely weird shit to show you on Steam.”

 

 

 

 

 

So we mentioned Warriors Gate back in… oh, we don’t seem to have blogged it.

Anyway, produced by Luc Besson and starring Dave Batiste.  It’s a fantasy adventure and it has a trailer.

A boy is transported from his ordinary life to China where his video-game skills make him a warrior.

It has a Chinese release on August 5, 2016, no UK or US release as yet.

 

 

 

 

We are hearing about a new science fiction feature called Occupation; a band of small town residents fight to resist an alien invasion. Director/writer is Luke Sparke, Tempera Morrison and Dan Ewing will star.

Shooting commences in Northern New South Wales and the Gold Coast, Australia on May 2.

 

 

 

Now this is something: Needle In A Timestack, an adaptation of Robert Silverberg’s short story: Time travel is real, it is happening now, in fact time travellers are back there changing your present as we speak, Mikkelsen is married to  Janine but Tommy  is trying to split them up, using time travel. It is up to Mikkelsen to figure out what Tommy has done, and stop him.

This one is loaded with potential: writer/director is John Ridley. No cast or schedule yet.

 

 

 

Coming soon is Alienate, directed by Michael Shumway, written Rick Hansberry by and Lex Hogan: aeroplanes fall out of the sky, cell towers fail and David fights to return home in the wake of an alien invasion.  Limited opening in theatres and VOD on May 5th.

 

 

 

Full Metal Alchemist second trailer is out, you’ll need a Google apps account

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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 (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

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