Science Fiction

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? 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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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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Back last summer when Robert Rodriguez was talking about the projects he was cooking up for the future, most of the focus was on his prospective Sin City and Machete sequels. And, since then, both Machete Kills and Sin City: A Dame to Kill For have been officially announced as his next two projects. Those weren’t the only movies he was expressing an interest in making back then, however; he was also into the idea of remaking the animated 1983 film Fire and Ice, which was directed by Ralph Bakshi and inspired by the artwork of Frank Frazetta, who also served as co-writer on the film. If you don’t know who Frank Frazetta is, he’s a science fiction and fantasy illustrator whose work you’ve undoubtedly seen at some point in your life. He’s done all sorts of book covers, comics, paintings, and whatnot, and usually his work involves alien landscapes, muscle-bound warriors, scantily clad women, and some sort of stabbing weapon. You know, it’s the sort of stuff that you’d get airbrushed on the side of an awesome panel van.

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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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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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Colin Farrell in Total Recall

When it first got announced that they were going to remake Paul Verhoeven’s action/sci-fi classic Total Recall, the collective groans of film fans could be heard the world over. If there was ever an action movie full of iconic imagery and quotable lines that didn’t need to be sullied, it was that Arnold Schwarzenegger-starring original. This remake was going to star a pipsqueak like Colin Farrell instead of a mountain of muscle like Arnie, nobody was going to be getting their asses to Mars, and there wasn’t even any confirmation that it would include a three-boobed hooker. Who needed it? Well, after watching the first full-length trailer, I’d say that anybody who’s ever been a fan of adrenaline pumping action, jaw dropping special effects, sprawling future cities, the feminine wiles of Kate Beckinsale or Jessica Biel, Bryan Cranston acting grizzled, guns, explosions, or Stormtroopers needs this movie. Check out the trailer and be blown away:

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Culture Warrior

Most dystopian science-fiction narratives feature stories in which a protagonist experiences a process of ‘waking up,’ transitioning from a state of blind ignorance to one of newfound enlightenment. The protagonists of The Matrix (1999), Brazil (1985), and the ur-text for dystopian futures, George Orwell’s 1984 (and its numerous film adaptations), all feature primary characters who transition from a state of passivity and complicity in an oppressive and manufactured society and transition to a newly critical, empowered state of being in which they are able to see beyond the veil of ignorance and witness the world for what it ‘really’ is for the first time. These protagonists are made capable of seeing beyond the structures of propaganda and carefully constructed illusion that they previously accepted to be objective reality and develop a political impetus in direct reaction to their previous state of complicity and ignorance. As someone previously uninitiated to the world of Suzanne Collins’s The Hunger Games (I hadn’t read any of the books prior to seeing the film), what struck me most about Gary Ross’s adaptation is the spin it puts on the typical ignorance-to-enlightenment narrative of dystopian science-fiction.

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Editor’s Note: This review previously ran as part of our Fantastic Fest coverage but with The Corridor hitting limited theaters this weekend, it makes sense to publish it once again. A sharp twist to the concept of getting together for a boys’ weekend (and the ultimate bizarre response to the influx of Dude Bro movies), The Corridor opts for rounded, deeply complicated characters who have the kind of shared history that is as likely to cause an outbreak of hugs as it is a burst of heated words and violent threats. The whole messy pile then gets an eyebrow-raising element right out of The Outer Limits dropped on top, and it’s off to the races. The film opens with a frantic confrontation where Tyler (Stephen Chambers) hides in a closet while his mother (Mary-Colin Chisholm) lies dead on the ground ostensibly by her own handful of pills. A brick wall named Bobcat (Matthew Amyotte), pretty boy named Lee (Nigel Bennett), and Brad Cooper look-a-like named Everett (James Gilbert) bust into the house only to be confronted by a maniacal Tyler who takes a swipe at Everett’s face and stabs Lee in the hand. Months later, they find themselves at a funeral/reunion at Tyler’s mom’s house in the woods with another childhood friend (Glen Matthews) in tow, trying to reconcile their relationship and deal with a supernatural force that threatens their existence.

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Boiling Point

The full length trailer for Ridley Scott‘s Prometheus recently hit the … broadband? I don’t know how the internet works, but regardless if you would so choose, you could join the legions that have hit play on the new trailer or you could be like me and decide not to watch it. What is the purpose of a trailer, really? I think it’s a fairly straightforward deal – to entice people to see a movie. Once you’re already enticed, do you really need to see more? There are some movies that I would never have even known about if it weren’t for a trailer. Equilibrium comes to mind. Never had any clue about this movie until I saw a trailer online and it looked awesome. I was lucky enough to then catch the movie in theaters. Sometimes it takes several trailers to wear you down. At first glance, you might not care about Wrath of the Titans because the first one was so mediocre. After watching a few other television spots, they won me over. Now, here’s the thing about Prometheus….

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