As part of the publicity for the new Terry Gilliam film The Zero Theorem, there has been a series of featurettes released by Sony Pictures. The pick if the bunch is a short look at Gilliam, the brain behind the concept and execution of the film. It shows on little of ninety seconds just how much effort and imagination he puts in to the production on a daily basis. Continue reading “The Zero Theorem Featurette: The Director” »
For the majority of film makers today the biggest obstacle to getting their projects made is money. It does not matter how good the story is and, in most cases, who is attached. It all comes down to support. It has become something of an art form in recent years for producers to obtain funding via any number of schemes and options. One film maker who has struggled with financing and to a lesser degree a lot of bad luck is Terry Gilliam. If you are sitting in a cinema and see the words ‘A Film By Terry Gilliam’ pop up, you know that there will be a back story of struggle and tenacity associated with the production. It gladdened the heart to see those words appear for his new film The Zero Theorem. Continue reading “The Zero Theorem” »
It is difficult to find a contemporary Sci-Fi film that doesn’t try to please everyone. The gritty Elysium from last year, had a storyline that was almost a joke due to it’s overly earnest nature. It eventually results in the anti-climactic and clichéd sacrifice that we have become overly familiar with in movies in recent years. Instead of looking to the classics of Star Wars and Metropolis, I looked towards the 2004 film The Chronicles of Riddick to provide me with a slightly different experience. The film is full of stealth action scenes, parkour with explosions and excessively violent fight scenes and terrible one liners.
The Chronicles of Riddick is set five years after the events of Pitch Black. The first film found its place in the home medium after a modest cinema run film which turned out to be successful enough that a sequel was financed. In the film, we follow Riddick (Vin Diesel) on his quest to find out the identity of the person who has placed a massive bounty on his head. The trail leads to Helion Prime, a world which has very strong echoes of the cities and desert landscapes of Arrakis from Frank Herbert’s Dune. It is this world that showcases some stunning visuals that draw the audience into the story. Although the special effects do not rival that of Avatar, the $105 million budget is very evident on the screen.
Vin Diesel gives a very good performance. The fact that he plays pretty much the same character whatever the film is of little consequence. He knows exactly what the audience wants and he delivers. He relishes the slightly daft one liners and is obviously enjoying taking on the role for a second time. He carries the majority of the film and some of the smaller cast roles are pushed to the side to give his screen presence more impact. That does not mean that other actors do not get a look in.
Karl Urban as Vakko is the main adversary for Riddick and he growls and snarls his way through the film with gusto. It is an almost pantomime bad guy performance which sits well within the confines of the film. Thandie Newton acts alongside Urban as his wife. Her role is a cross between Lady MacBeth and Cruella DeVille. She chews the scenery with her over the top performance which again never feels out of place in the spectacle. Bizarrely Dame Judi Dench also features as Aereon, an elemental. She is of a race of beings who believe in the balance of the universe and have a talent for prophecy. Dame Judi appears to be having a good time hamming it up with the rest of them.
The storyline is nothing special which is both a good and bad point. It’s excellent as the film focuses on the often explosive action and unbelievable elements that truly make a good sci-fi flick. Unfortunately, the film’s lack of in-depth story leads to the action scenes becoming the main driver of the film with the ‘major’ plot points being used as a connective device. For example, when Riddick is interred in an underground prison and for some unexplained reason is left hanging while bounty hunters haggle over money. He of course escapes his chains and is immediately greeted by violent prisoners and a standard fight scene that last only a few moments.
Another major flaw is the colour design. This is reflected in several scenes and none more apparent than during the battle for Helion prime. The fight sequences are very dark and it is a struggle to see what is going on. We are then subjected to a first person view from Riddicks point of view. There is an almost lazy purple light over everything that would give anyone a sore head.
The ultimate problem lies within its originality. As mentioned earlier, Helion prime is very much like Arrakis from Dune. Unfortunately the main issue found is its likeness to certain aspects of the Star Trek universe. I am obviously referring to the unnamed security guard that is killed within ten minutes of appearing. This happens repeatedly as bounty hunters and security guards alike are massacred by Riddick and the armies of the Necromongers, the principal evil presence.
In conclusion, The Chronicles of Riddick is a very good film. The action and adventure is relentless but the overall enjoyment doesn’t wear off and the story doesn’t take itself too seriously.
The stakes for the new Transformers movie could not be higher. The third film in the franchise was a commercial success, but it received a critical mauling across the board. The main issue was that the film just didn’t hang together at all. For a film that was full of action set pieces most people did not have a clue as to what was happening from one moment to the next. Continue reading “Transformers: Age of Extinction new trailer” »
As part of the publicity leading up to the release of the remake of RoboCop the film studio released a number of short behind the scenes features. The Man and Machine two-part feature takes us behind the science of the main premise of the movie, how a man can interact and join with technology in order to become greater than the sum of the parts. With a series of soundbites from the cast and members of the scientific community we delve into the thin line between fact and fiction. Continue reading “RoboCop Featurette – Man And Machine” »
Remakes/reboots/re…whatever you want to call them, are generally met with scepticism and keyboard sabre rattling. News that MGM would be resurrecting the RoboCop franchise was met with similar disdain. With Darren Aronofsky attached to direct, interest in the project piqued as quickly as it fell at the announcement that he had vacated the role. Award winning filmmaker Jose Padilha was then revealed as the man who would reintroduce the franchise to cinema goers but enthusiasm was low. Stars such as Gary Oldman, Michael Keaton and Samuel L. Jackson got people curious but Padilha’s film was standing in the very big shadow of Paul Verhoeven’s 1987 original. It was going to take something special for it to step out of the shade.
A short companion piece to Alfonso Cuaron’s film Gravity has been released. The film revisits a key scene from the film where The stranded astronaut played by Sandra Bullock makes contact with earth. The seven minute short titled Aningaaq shows the other side of the conversation. Continue reading “Aningaaq” »
People have short memories. This is of particular benefit to those who like to complain as it gives them the opportunity to continue voicing their grievances even if it contradicts their previous feelings on a subject. This was never more evident than on October 31st 2012. A historic day for film as Disney announced that they were buying the Star Wars franchise from George Lucas for a little over 4 billion USD with the intention of adding more films to the series. The internet went into meltdown as fan boys spewed vitriol over social media, prophesying the death and ruination of their beloved Empire. Which sounded very familiar.
There was a golden period for science fiction cinema in the nineteen fifties and sixties. The reasons for so many of these genre films being made were mainly two-fold. Firstly they were reasonably cheap. With a straightforward story and a few special effects a film could be made for a reasonable sum. The other reason for their success was the masked subject matter. With the cold war in full effect film makers used the Sci-Fi genre to explore people’s fears and prejudices about the unknown. Rather than the red peril they brought us creatures from another planet. A prime example of the best of the genre is the nineteen fifty-seven film 20 Million miles to Earth. Continue reading “20 Million Miles To Earth” »
Unleashed online is the first teaser trailer for the 2014 monster movie Godzilla. Based on the cult Japanese film series, the film deals with the appearance, out of nowhere, of a giant Lizard creature intent on destroying all of mankind. In the big chair for the film is director Gareth Edwards. His last film was the 2010 low-budget Sci -Fi thriller Monsters. That was an impressive and entertaining movie with a unique vision and an outstanding execution.