Sci-Fi

J.J. Abrams

According to Variety, J.J. Abrams‘s Bad Robot and Paramount are working together to develop a spec script purchased from Matt Stuecken (associate producer on the soon-to-be-seen  G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra) and Josh Campbell. It’s a small budget, science fiction thriller, and there’s literally no more information than that. Most likely, per Abrams’s request. Finding a director could be a crucial element in discovering some excitement here beyond the basic idea of having Abrams produce something with both science and fiction involved. But there’s the larger question. Is Abrams’s name and his usual sense of mystery enough to get you interested in something he’s producing?

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Gary Oldman Fifth Element

If you think about it, the Robocop remake actually has a lot going for it. Other than the baggage of being a remake. Director Jose Padilha has a successful action franchise in Elite Squad under his belt; co-writer James Vanderbilt wrote The Rundown, Zodiac and The Losers. co-writer Nick Schenk wrote Gran Torino; star Joel Kinnaman was fantastic in Snabba Cash/Easy Money and The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo. It’s got some great names involved. Rising talent. But, you know, who needs a remake of Robocop? According to The Hollywood Reporter, an actor just made it even more interesting. Gary Oldman is joining the movie as the scientist who wrestles with his own sense of ethics when he finds himself in the middle of a big corporation’s needs and a former human’s humanity. There’s no denying the gravitas and intensity that Oldman brings to the project. It was already interesting, but it just got interesting.

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Mick Garris

Moving away from horror (specifically Stephen King’s horror), writer/director Mick Garris is prepping a science fiction film called Invasion that combines elements of The Outer Limits and Mad Men, studio math-style. Most likely, that’s just because it’s set in the past and involves science fiction. According to The Hollywood Reporter, the script from A.J. Ferrara will focus on a female reporter trying to break into the male-dominated, 1960s world of newscasting, and in an attempt to be taken seriously, she stumbles upon a government secret about aliens. So maybe toss in some Anchorman and Men In Black as well. So this is what Garris is doing while no one is calling him for the Stand adaptation. Jokes aimed at a more-than-competent director aside, the title sounds pretty generic, and the premise is mildly interesting, but the most interesting aspect here is Garris returning to the big screen for only the fourth time. And, this outting, without King’s work as his blueprint.

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Criterion Files

David Cronenberg’s Videodrome is the Network of participatory media. Where Sidney Lumet and Paddy Chayefsky’s celebrated 1976 masterpiece rather accurately predicted televised sensationalism and infotainment, Videodrome’s ideas about media’s dissemination and our relationship with it continues to reveal its incredible foresight nearly thirty years after its initial release. Just as Network is now hardly satire, Videodrome seems less and less a work of science fiction. Sure, digital technology has brought many of Videodrome’s ideas into stark realization more so than the analog technology depicted throughout the film (a disconnect literalized by Criterion’s clever faux-Beta DVD packaging of the film), but the film’s many astute (and foreboding) observations about our evolving relationship to media technology is nothing short of profound.

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Drinking Games

More than thirty years ago, Ridley Scott directed the groundbreaking sci-fi/horror film Alien. Now, this summer, he’s prepping the release of the sister film Prometheus. As is the case when any sequel, prequel or remake comes out, fans will want to revisit the original film. Whether you’re planning on watching the entire Alien series (including the odious Alien Resurrection and the batshit crazy Alien vs. Predator: Requiem) or just the first – and possibly best – of the run, here’s where you’ll start. And what better way to enjoy this classic monster movie in space film than with a frosty drink in hand?

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The Best Short Films

Why Watch? Last year’s Transcendent Man dealt with Ray Kurzweil and the possible future where human life is extended thanks to computer memory, The Cloud and our own egos. In Tom Scott‘s new short, we find that death might be preferable once the lawyers have taken over. It’s straightforward sci-fi that pulls off the storytelling magic of placing you at the center of it – a movie that directs its attention to you and manages to nail down a universal humor. You’re dead. Now what? What will it cost? Only 5 minutes. Skip Work. You’ve Got Time For More Short Films

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The Best Short Films

Why Watch? Staring straight into the camera, a pretty young woman tells us she’s 21 years old, and she’s a monster. Throughout the rest of Francesco Calabrese‘s short film, she explains the problems she faces, and the filmmaker talks to her neighbors, her mother and a scorned friend who all have a different take on this seemingly benign human being. Shot engagingly, every element comes together to hold the mystery. Then she shows her true nature. What will it cost? Only 5 minutes. Skip Work. You’ve Got Time For More Short Films Thanks to Thane E. for the tip.

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Nacho Vigalondo‘s Timecrimes was a different kind of time travel movie, and his second feature, Extraterrestrial, is definitely a different kind of alien invasion. The new trailer has a creepy sort of vibe, both from the miles-wide ship that lands and from the young man who wakes up in a gorgeous woman’s apartment. Apparently he’s got incredible beer goggles and a desire to video tape her while she sleeps. It’s a great trailer for a great movie, but it’s not telling the whole story. Check it out for yourself:

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With a dormant development arm, James Cameron has fully committed himself to holding his breath underwater and exploring the depths of narrative that he can mine from Pandora and the world of Avatar. A sequal and a threequel were already in the mix, but The Playlist is noting that Cameron seems more than open about an Avatar 4. It was 14 years from first draft to finished film, and its been almost 3 years since that sci-fi epic was released, so if the prospect of 3 more seems like it would take up the rest of Cameron’s sane days, it’s because they just might. The director looks to be quitting the original story game. “I’ve divided my time over the last 16 years over deep ocean exploration and filmmaking. I’ve made two movies in 16 years, and I’ve done eight expeditions. Last year I basically completely disbanded my production company’s development arm. So I’m not interested in developing anything. I’m in the Avatar business. Period. That’s it. I’m making Avatar 2, Avatar 3, maybe Avatar 4, and I’m not going to produce other people’s movies for them. I’m not interested in taking scripts,” said Cameron.

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Avoiding Prometheus trailers, images and information was just too taxing. They’re just putting out too much great stuff. Ridley Scott and his team should be proud of what they’ve shown so far, and that June 8th release date just cannot come quickly enough. A new international trailer has debuted thanks to the UK’s Channel 4 (via Film Stage). It brags a lot of Charlize Theron, a screaming Noomi Rapace and three full minutes of crazy sci-fi action. Check it out for yourself:

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Meet your new fear: Time-Traveling Nazis. An band of Australian movie misfits has decided to continue the legacy of Brian Trenchard-Smith and other down under heroes of exploitation by sending Nazis into the future. It’s an idea close to Iron Sky‘s Moon Nazi concept, but the results look far different. And far more low rent. With Asylum-level effects, The 25th Reich from director Stephen Amis made our list of interesting projects out of Berlin, and now the trailer promises not to take itself too seriously. With an SS spider-robot squeaking out “Heil Hitler!” it would be hard to. The movie focuses on an elite squad of US soldiers in the outback given a task by OSS to travel in time and save the future from those spider-robots and their Nazi overlords. It looks aggressively cheesy. But hopefully that’s part of the fun. Check out the trailer for yourself:

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According to Anne Thompson, Roadside Attractions picked up Jamie Bradshaw‘s sci-fi thriller Branded. The film is set in a future where corporate entities have created brands which make the entire population complacent, and one man fights against them to expose the truth. Hopefully the product placement will be as hilarious as it is ironic. “The most powerful weapon on earth today is not a gun or a disease, nor is it even visible to many,” says Bradshaw. “It is Marketing.  Marketing is the power to control your desires and change your mind, and if you look closer there is something about it that is not of this earth.” It stars Ed Stoppard (Brideshead Revisited), Leelee Sobieski and Jeffrey Tambor. It sounds like a fantastic, timely concept, and for the life of me I can’t figure it out, but I really want to eat a Doritos-shell Taco Bell taco right now. Maybe this finally make people realize what a sharp, satirical masterwork Josie and the Pussycats really was. Pink is the new cross-platform pass-along rate. Or something. Also, it’s important to note that this project has nothing to with the television show Branded (which was featured in The Big Lebowski). Regardless of all that nonsense, the movie should be headed to theaters this September.

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It’s taken 33 Commentary Commentaries, 33 different movies we’ve heard all kinds of people from directors to actors to whatever was going on with Cannibal: The Musical, but we’ve finally gotten to AH-NOLD. That’s right. This week we’re looking into Total Recall, that mind-melting actioner from 1990 wherein Arnold Schwarzenegger uses a completely innocent bystander as a human shield, loses his memory, and saves just about every mutant living on Mars. He doesn’t save the girl with three breasts, though. That probably deserves a spoiler alert. But it’s time to hear what Schwarzenegger and director Paul Verhoeven have to say about the whole experience. With the remake headed our way this Summer, we felt it was time to find out everything we could about this modern classic. Maybe this time next year we’ll have a Total Recall 2012 commentary from Colin Farrell and Len Wiseman. Wiseman has already offered a commentary for his film’s trailer, but there’s no way in the world it’s going to be as entertaining as listening to Verhoeven and Schwarzenegger. No way. Let’s get our asses to Mars, shall we?

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After working with hairy primates, director Rupert Wyatt is using the success of Rise of the Planet of the Apes to move up the food chain. According to Variety, he’s cast Charlize Theron in his latest sci-fi flick, Agent 13. There are no details about the story, written by T.S. Nolan, but it’s unlikely that it will be made any time soon. Wyatt is attached to more than a handful of projects, but more Apes are on the way with him locked in for at least one more go. Plus, this particular movie is more like a script with two well known players stapled to it. It still needs to find a home. At the very least, the spy thriller nature of the title and the promise of science fiction with Theron in the lead and Wyatt calling the shots is not a bad idea. Not a bad idea at all. As long as the title isn’t the codename for Aeon Flux 2.  

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Some of you are avoiding Prometheus advertising like it’s the black plague or Cabin in the Woods spoilers or that bookie you owe money to. That’s fine. It’s understandable for a movie this gigantic, promising and appropriately mysterious. But you’ll want to go back after seeing it this summer to check out all the cool stuff you’re missing. Guy Pearce’s TED Talk was a hell of a way to introduce the world to Ridley Scott‘s newest sci-fi epic, but now they want to introduce you to someone else: Michael Fassbender‘s David. Tell him Happy Birthday, find out what he can do, and check out the video yourself:

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“The cut that you’re gonna see in cinemas…it’s always the director’s cut, really.” That’s Ridley Scott speaking to the press at a Prometheus event in Paris. Fortunately it’s in English, although it only has the appearance of plain speak. Scott has taken advantage of home entertainment by releasing director’s cuts in the past (the most famous/biggest improvement being Kingdom of Heaven), so it’s not exactly obvious how theater cuts are always the director’s cut. However, it’s great news to see that Scott will be delivering his vision onto the big screen since he hasn’t always been able to. Plus, he’s confirming that the cut is around the 2 hour mark. That might be arbitrary, but it’s a welcome change in a world where big blockbusters are becoming more and more bloated (and yet, way too often, without substance to back up the hours). [Prometheus Forum]

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The Best Short Films

Why Watch? A woman is asked to interrogate her husband to see if he’s who he claims to be, or if he’s a dangerous shape-shifter in this swift, starkly-crafted science fiction gem. With verbal dexterity, it keeps up the mystery even with death on the line. What will it cost? Only 5 minutes. Skip Work. You’ve Got Time For More Short Films.

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When did this trailer for the trailer thing become the norm? Was I napping or something? We’re now advertising for advertisements? Maybe that’s what happens when you give iTunes the exclusive – they demand that you make another video. Already got the trailer you worked real hard on? Great. Now make another trailer so we can make people want to see the trailer you made. Infinite regression is our worst enemy here. But, then again, that’s the kind of thing Rian Johnson probably wouldn’t mind tackling because he’s got a mind to take the Gordian knot of time travel and toy around with it like a rubber Rubik’s cube. Here he is alongside Joseph Gordon-Levitt talking about the action and the mind-exercising premise of Looper to get people excited. The cheeky line, “I think you guys are gonna like it a lot,” is where things get sold on the market floor:

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Apocalypse Soon: Children of Men

The Mayans, the wise race of ancients who created hot cocoa, set December 21st, 2012 as the end date of their Calendar, which the intelligent and logical amongst us know signifies the day the world will end, presumably at 12:21:12am, Mountain Time. From now until zero date, we will explore the 50 films you need to watch before the entire world perishes. We don’t have much time, so be content, be prepared, be entertained. The Film: Children of Men (2006) The Plot: In the near future global civilization is on the brink of total collapse as the human race approaches extinction via a long dry spell of human infertility. There hasn’t been a human child born in almost two decades and the answer for our sudden inability to bear children has been an elusive scientific mystery in all those years. In this world of societal discourse and upheaval Theo Faron (Clive Owen) is an everyman with ties to an underground group of revolutionaries through a past relationship with the group’s leader Julian (Julianne Moore). Kidnapped off the streets by the group Theo is asked by Julian to help attain transit papers for a young woman and help see that she crosses the British border to safety. Asking no questions of what the significance of that particular girl’s safety is Theo agrees and along the way to the first stop on their journey their vehicle gets ambushed. Following that event Theo’s initially loose involvement in the situation becomes more important when he takes […]

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In September, Bruce Willis will be hunting Joseph Gordon-Levitt (unless it’s the other way around? Or the other, other way around?) for Rian Johnson‘s Looper. You know this because Tyler knows this. And because you’ve probably had your calendar marked for this one since a year and a half ago. The fine folks at /film have debuted the first poster for the Sony flick, and it looks beautiful, mirrored, and like it will continue the People Evaporating theme that’s hit everyone from Source Code to Total Recall lately. Check it out for yourself:

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