Archive for August, 2017

It’s heartening to realise that the Sci-Fi short film still has a home on our TVs. While the likes of the Twilight Zone and Outer Limits have moved to a vaulted, and yet mostly untouched space in the minds of fans, there is still a place for the eerie one-off and the thought-provoking stand alone.

Obviously Black Mirror has found its deeply disturbed niche audience and is now returning for a fourth series on Netflix. For anyone not initiated, it’s best consumed at a rationed pace. Not to savour its sparse number of episodes, rather to cope with the fact that each one spawns a burrowing mind worm filled with associations and ideas. So strong are the episodes that even Hollywood is taking note. Robert Downey Junior has just optioned the rights to produce a feature length version of ‘The Entire History of You’.

Now in the UK on Channel 4, a near perfect union is about to grace our screens – our favourite Sci-Fi novelist presented in short form via Philip K Dick’s Electric Dreams. The series will run for 10 episodes this September, with each one focusing on a ‘best of’ selection from his copious back catalogue of short stories.

While not a return to the heady days of the late 20th century – when you’d continually bump up against the aforementioned US TV series, a technological Tales of the Unexpected, a mentally scaring Hammer House of Horror or an adaptation of a J G Ballard short – it’s still proof that this format has an audience. Plus, if you want more chilling Sci-Fi shorts, be glad that Neill Blomkamp – resting from a stint in Hollywood – hasn’t let his creative drive languish. Check out Oats Studios and relish the truncated perfection housed therein.

Tags: , , , ,

Considering the problematic receptions of the likes of Interstellar (2014), Jupiter Ascending (2015) and, most recently Valerian: City of a Thousand Planets (2017), maybe Brad Pitt should have thought twice before embarking on his latest Sci-Fi epic, Ad Astra. He starred in the adaptation of Max Brookes’ World War Z in 2013, but his engagement with the genre has been sparse to say the least – Terry Gilliam’s 12 Monkeys is over two decades (two decades?!) old now. So, are we looking at another misguided addition to the ‘seemed like a good idea at the time’ vault? Well, here are the positives…

James Gray, director of the recent Lost City of Z is at the helm. While his genre heritage is nonexistent, he is at least going into the project with his eyes open. In this interview with Collider, he states that he’s “terrified” of the tricky nature of nailing good Sci-Fi. He’s also trying to create as realistic a representation as possible, which is a reassuring point of difference from other more fantastical, effects-driven titles. Plus a factual focus has played well with audiences in the past five years – Gravity (2013) and The Martian (2015).

Script duties are falling to Gray as well, collaborating with relative unknown Ethan Gross who’s penned several episodes of the X-Files-esque TV series Fringe. As for the plot… Everything revolves around Pitt who plays Roy McBride – a military space engineer in search of his absentee father who went searching for extraterrestrial life 20 years ago. So far, so Fallout 4/Guardians of The Galaxy: Volume 2. So what of the talent?

There’s no doubting that Mr Pitt has a good eye for a script and tends to put in a sterling, self-depreciating performance. Added to this is the confirmation that he’ll be joined by movie stalwarts Donald (Invasion of the Body Snatchers) Sutherland, and Tommy Lee (Men in Black) Jones as well as Oscar Nominated Ruth Negga who appeared alongside Pitt in World War Z. All positives thus far.

Filming’s already started and the scheduled release is for 2018 – so expect a teaser trailer to appear in this site’s traditional end-of-year film wrap. Until then, we’ll follow the wider credo of the film’s title, “Per aspera ad astra” – through hardship to the stars. Here’s hoping for a stellar piece of work.

Tags: , , , ,