Andrew Niccol

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Director Andrew Niccol’s 1997 science fiction film about a future where humanity’s genetic makeup is firmly under societal control, Gattaca, still has quite a few fans. To the point where whenever you’re talking about science fiction movies someone will inevitably say to you, “Hey, have you seen Gattaca? You should see Gattaca.” The problem for Niccol is that nobody has liked anything else he’s done since nearly as much, especially recently, as he’s been churning out intriguing-looking but ultimately completely shitty sci-fi schlock like In Time and The Host. Perhaps all it would take for Niccol to step up his game and make another fan favorite film would be a re-teaming with his Gattaca star Ethan Hawke though. After all, once a filmmaker has shown that he’s capable of making one good movie, you know that there’s always a chance he could do it again. Or, at least, these are the things that we should currently be hoping, because Deadline is reporting that Niccol and Hawke are getting ready to team up and make another movie together, and after Hawke just dumped The Purge and Getaway on our heads, he’s a guy who could use a little redemption as well.

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review host

It’s been difficult to pin down what exactly happened to writer/director Andrew Niccol after his 1997 debut, Gattaca, but theories ranged from him having been replaced with a lookalike to him having had a stroke. A double feature of S1mone and In Time suggests the latter, but what then to make of the film sandwiched between them? Lord of War is a blackly comic morality play that never saw the eyeballs it deserved, but as if he were being punished for creating something thought-provoking, he disappeared for the next six years only to return in 2011 with a legitimately terrible, feature-length wrist-watch commercial starring Justin Timberlake. The release of his latest film sees him once again crafting lazy, simplistic sci-fi, this time adapting a novel by bestselling hack Stephenie Meyer, but in addition to being laughably bad, The Host may actually offer an answer to the question above. What happened to turn the man behind Gattaca and The Truman Show into a seemingly clueless boob who thinks shiny, silver cars and idealized talk about mankind’s value are enough to qualify a film as speculative fiction? Having seen the movie the answer seems so obvious now. An intergalactic jellyfish slipped into a paper cut fifteen years ago, curled up around his brain stem, smothered his creativity, talent and curiosity and then turned his body into a fleshy, bipedal rental car. And Niccol’s been fighting to be heard from the back seat ever since.

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The Host trailer

If there’s one thing that can be said for “Twilight Saga” author Stephenie Meyer, it’s that she tried something new with her first non-“Twilight” book, “The Host.” Emphasis on the tried. The similarities are there – both stories center on leading ladies who don’t fancy themselves to be the leading lady type who somehow get caught up in supernatural-ish plots with wide-reaching implications and, oh, don’t forget those love triangles. Don’t you ever forget those love triangles! But “The Host” was written for a somewhat older-skewing audience, and its aliens-on-earth plot is both more interesting and more well-built than whatever the heck it was that Meyer was going for with “Twilight” (sorry, Twi-hards, really). So why then does Andrew Niccol‘s big screen take on The Host just seem so terribly boring? At least, that’s how it looks in the film’s first long-form trailer. It’s certainly a keener and cleaner look at the film than the very tease-heavy teaser trailer from March, which seemed to hinge almost totally on the viewer’s perceived awareness of the property, but it’s still makes The Host look like Twilight with aliens. Take a look after the break.

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Though my earlier editorial might have given you the impression that I loathe author Stephenie Meyer‘s works, that’s not necessarily the case, and I am reasonably interested in the next film to translate her books to the screen. Post-“Twilight,” Meyer penned a sci-fi novel called “The Host,” and while it’s no shock that the book is intended to kick off a new franchise, it is somewhat surprising that the book was intended for a more adult crowd and for some more mature lessons than those taught by Bella, Edward, and Jacob. While the book has many of the same issues as “Twilight,” it is a different animal, and its sci-fi bent might be able to lure in even rabid “Twilight” dissenters. Set in the near future, The Host imagines a world that has been taken over by an alien race that, while not overtly violent, are terrifyingly good at destroying whole civilizations. It’s not by war by that these aliens consume other beings – it’s by taking over their bodies and minds like a parasite. One of those aliens, Wanderer (Saoirse Ronan) finds herself confused and dismayed to find that the human she’s taken over (also played by Ronan) won’t let go, turning the two into individual spirits in one body. Bad enough, but still worse when Wanderer/Melanie makes her way to one of the last all-human encampments. The film’s first teaser is a true tease, and certainly won’t offer much to those who are not familiar with the book’s […]

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With the Twilight Saga film franchise (thankfully) wrapping up this year, fans of author Stephenie Meyer are turning their attention to the next film to spring from one of her works. The Host is being adapted from Meyer’s crack at more adult fiction and, while the book itself is a touch more advanced than Twilight, it still relies on some familiar tropes – love triangles, concocted mythology, the somewhat sci-fi, and lots and lots of drama. And now it looks as if the film version (from writer and director Andrew Niccol) will have something else in common with Twi-land – a way too attractive cast. Saoirse Ronan has long been attached to play the lead character of Melanie Stryder, a teenage girl who lives in a future world where Earth has been invaded by an alien race (the Souls) who take over human bodies (a la Invasion of the Body Snatchers), but with a much less nefarious edge to their plan. Melanie is one of the few remaining full humans, and she spends her days on the run with her little brother and her boyfriend Jared (to be played by Max Irons), until she too is caught by the Souls (who are also highly organized) and implanted with one of the parasitic aliens – who eventually goes by the name Wanderer and then Wanda. Of course, Melanie and her memories prove to much even for the experienced alien (who has been implanted in no less than eight other species over […]

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Justin Timberlake and Amanda Seyfried in In Time

In Time squanders a promising metaphor on an abundance of sleek action scenes that seem to have wandered into the movie from a car commercial. Writer-director Andrew Niccol will always have a beloved, if underrated, place in the realm of modern day sci-fi crafters for his terrific eugenics drama Gattaca and his Truman Show script. But his career has floundered since then, and his latest flick fails to find the structural, atmospheric or plot-driven ingenuity to match its provocative premise.

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Retreat is a film that lives or dies by its actors. Mainly set in one location and focusing primarily on three characters constantly interacting, that’s an exceptionally tough film to make. That seems like a common thing for actor Cillian Murphy, though. No one can look at Peacock and Breakfast on Pluto and say, “What safe, easy roles.” The actor takes chances, and it all comes down to the directors he’s going to put his trust in. When one works with the likes of Danny Boyle, Christopher Nolan, Ken Loach, and Andrew Niccol, that must not be too difficult. The actor usually manages to work with the best nowadays, but even so, as Murphy says, you’re never going to quite know what to expect from a film. And, at the end of a film, that doesn’t matter much. Murphy’s advice: never be nostalgic and always move forward. Immediately before talking to Murphy, I had just gotten out of In Time. In that film, Murphy spends a lot of time getting his ass kicked, being disrespected, and everything else that would make one of us feel unmanly, similarly to his character in Retreat. A lot of Murphy’s characters seem that way, but to him it’s less about emasculation, more about how everyone’s a contradiction.

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This week, Fat Guy Kevin Carr puts on some 3D glasses to look at some puss… in boots, that is. He proceeds to rewrite fairy tale fiction to include more bodily function humor, an egg-shaped Zach Galifianakis and a hairy but still sexy Salma Hayek. Then, he heads to the reference department of his local library to discover who really wrote the complete works of William Shakespeare. When all signs point to Neil Miller as the real author, Kevin gives up, realizing he’s out of time. So he brings sexy back and heads out to kidnap Amanda Seyfried so he can occupy Hollywood and start a revolution together… or get arrested.

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Andrew Niccol is one of the few futurist filmmakers working today. The man knows how to take ten steps ahead of everyone else. His concepts are imaginatively absurd, but in that absurdity, Niccol generally points to problems that plague us today and may grow in the future. The concept of The Truman Show seemed outrageous at the time, and yet that film has become a sad reality. Despite his forward-thinking, Niccol doesn’t have the easiest time getting films made. It has been six years since Lord of War, and a few projects between that time fell through for the filmmaker. Why? Because Niccol, as he himself says, is always creating too expensive of concepts. Now, he’s finally got one of those not-so-cheap concepts made. With In Time being his biggest film yet, he pointed out how like on every film, there are “trucks of compromises.” Here’s what Andrew Niccol — who I also spoke to at Comic-Con, so if you want to know more about In Time, read that interview — had to say about the difficulty of getting his ideas made, the desire of leaving for France, and why it’s easier to sleep when you have no conscience.

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One of the few films from Comic-Con that I wasn’t looking forward to, but left feeling excited about, is Andrew Niccol‘s In Time. After viewing the sizzle reel in Hall H and interviewing Niccol, expectations got raised. Niccol isn’t a filmmaker that works all that often and considering this is his return to the sci-fi world, it’s somewhat of a mini-event. This is also his first action movie, and it is shot through the eyes of Roger Deakins. The action is apparently all running, too – something expressed pretty clearly in this trailer. Seeing Justin Timberlake run around for two hours isn’t exactly ideal entertainment, but there looks to be more than a generic chase film here. The world building comes off topnotch, Roger Deakins’s first step into the digital realm seems to be a success, and Cillian Murphy as the man hunting Timberlake down is an idea I can get behind.

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Andrew Niccol loves thought-provoking ideas. Gattaca, his script for The Truman Show, and Lord of War are works of varying genres that all posed interesting questions. His latest film, In Time, looks to be his most commercial endeavor yet. Although there apparently will be a few action beats, Niccol set out to craft a human story with social commentary. This appears to be, more than anything else, a love story set within a chase thriller. And that chase happens to look fantastic, courtesy of cinematographer Roger Deakins. This is the first film which Deakins shot digitally, and after the experience, the legendary cinematographer expressed the possibility that he may leave film behind for good. As Niccol describes below, it makes sense why he would. Here’s what Andrew Niccol had to say about the world of In Time, the Gattaca connection, Deakins going digital, and what to expect in the action department:

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In Time was one of the films I was the most excited about covering at Comic-Con, and yet I had no bloody clue what it was about. I heard it involved some sci-fi aspect, a lot of running, and Amanda Seyfried sporting a short red ‘do. That’s all I knew. See how well-researched I am? Once I actually learned something about the film, there ended up being more to get excited about than just the fact it’s an Andrew Niccol film and one of the few original stories we’d be getting a glimpse at during Con. The high concept, which sounds a bit heavy-handed, is unique and looks well-handled in the three-minute sizzle reel Fox showed. And to be fair, the comparison to Gattaca carries that sound of potential non-subtlety, so I have faith Niccol will deliver a thought-provoking comment on “our desire to stay young forever” and “economic enslavement.”

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Saoirse Ronan is an extremely talented actress which as is often the case means she’s also an extremely busy one. You can see her in theaters now as the title character in the teen assassin film Hanna, and later this year she’ll be book-ending that role alongside Carey Mulligan in the film Violet & Daisy, an independent drama about two teenage assassins who question their own morality when their latest target turns out to be a nice guy. Also in the mix is her rumored involvement in Peter Jackson’s The Hobbit and Joe Wright’s Anna Karenina. Many people wanted her to land a role in the Hunger Games adaption, but the news on that film’s casting has been incredibly sparse and any real hope has faded. But she appears to have her eyes on another popular book for young adults… Per Deadline Wackoville, Ronan has signed on to star in an adaptation of Stephenie Meyer’s only non-Twilight novel, The Host. The story is about a young girl named Melanie Stryder living in a world where alien invaders called Souls routinely take control of human hosts to erase their memories and turn them into worker bees. Wanderer, the Soul assigned to Melanie, attempts to wipe her mind but it discovers an inner strength that’s both impressive and intriguing. Wanderer’s newfound interest in this particular human leads to some surprising discoveries for them both. Interestingly, Ronan will apparently be playing the roles of Melanie and Wanderer. Andrew Niccol has completed a script […]

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As the only literate Reject, it’s my duty to find the latest, the greatest and the untouched classics that would make great source material for film adaptations. I read so you don’t have to. “Orwell feared we would become a captive culture. Huxley feared we would become a trivial culture, preoccupied with some equivalent of the feelies, the orgy porgy, and the centrifugal bumblepuppy.” I have no idea what a bumblepuppy is, but Neil Postman was right to point out that while Orwell (and especially his “1984”) cautioned against tyrannical thought-police shoving rats in our faces to get us to comply, Aldous Huxley was more concerned with a governmental structure that shoved pleasure and an overload of information and distraction in our faces to get us to comply. Orwell is what happens post-apocalyptically. Huxley is what happens when society prospers beyond our wildest dreams. It’s unclear why a feature film has never been made of “Brave New World.” It’s baffling actually because the material there is so rich. With the completely average trailer for Atlas Shrugged out this week, it got me thinking about the classic philosophical novel that I identify with the most, what shaped my thinking most when I was younger, and the prospect of that novel becoming a movie. Here’s how I’d want to see it done, and in the effort to make it as viable as possible, my dreamcasting is all also economically viable for any studio who would take the chance on this brand. In […]

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Twilight author Stephenie Meyer could probably retire with the money she will surely make off of her hit tween vampire series, but it seems as though she’s not satisfied with that.

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Will Smith can move islands with his mind. What can you do?

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