Archive for the sci-fi Category

The Dark Dystopia of “Eden Log”

Posted in film, reviews, sci-fi, suspense/thriller with tags , , , , , , , , , on October 31, 2008 by worldofmatmos

In this interesting little French science-fiction film from 2007, director Franck Vestiel has crafted an eerie, dystopic underworld which leaves viewers as unsettled and engaged as the film’s protaganist. With its heavy silver-tint, dark, unnerving sets and characters, and the slow unfolding of the what-went-horribly-wrong scenario, Eden Log opens in complete darkness. Blinding, sporadic flashes of light reveal a man emerging from a thick mud, almost as if he were being born from the earth itself. Disoriented, he tries to acclamate himself to his surroundings. He fumbles through the darkness, and eventually comes upon a portable light source, which helps him to navigate the dark corners.

His first human encounter is with a man who is mounted to a wall, with strange, tree-like roots growing out of his body. This image reminded me of when the team of Space Marines encounter the first cocooned host on LB-426 in Aliens. He warns our hero, whom we discover has amnesia, of the impending doom ahead, as his body is wrought with pain as the tree roots further engulf him [we learn late in the film that our hero’s name is Tolbiac (Clovis Cornillac), and he has a unique connection to Eden Log]. Out of the shadows comes a roar, which apparently affects Tolbiac profoundly, as he races off, gripping his head in agony. Tolbiac continues his journey through the dark labyrinth, and begins to find clues that lead him to encounter the hideously deformed subhumans, the subterranean tactical police unit, and a stranger in white that helps him in his escape to the surface, all while trying to find out his identity, and what happened to him.

The film is beautifully shot by Thierry Pouget, who manages to keep the film feeling dark and dirty, whilst contrasting the cold and clinically strile areas of Eden Log. Great handheld and dynamic wide-angle camerawork reminiscient of Terry Gilliam’s films also lends a feel of claustaphobia to the frames. Vestiel plays his characters with little dialogue, just enough to move the plot along; the script places emphasis on the world, and the visuals (particularly the production design) are as fantastic as those of Vestiel’s contemporary Chris Cunningham.

Another great aspect of this film is the score by Seppuku Paradigm (aka Alex & Willie Cortes). The haunting, Vangelis-esque ambience it creates perfectly compliments the imagery, and is at the same time neither overly electronic nor symphonic.

The film has a decent plot twist at the climax of the third act, and overall I dug the whole picture. The pacing was good, the story simple and unique, and the visuals all that one would expect from French sci-fi; the design is very Moebius at times, and even feels like it could have graced the pages of Metal Hurlant. I highly recommend this to anyone who is tired of the big, lazy Hollywood effects pictures that seem more concerned with CG explosions and character animation than crafting a good story and atmosphere.

Great Scott! Ridley’s Return to Science-Fiction!

Posted in action/adventure, film, news, sci-fi with tags , , , , , , , on October 28, 2008 by worldofmatmos

As anyone who knows anything about film, there is resounding agreement that Ridley Scott is one of the few remaining master filmmakers still working. The man has undoubtedly “the best eye in the business” and has proven himself for nearly 40 years. The legendary director’s earlier films are some of the most beloved films in history, particularly in the realms of science-fiction and fantasy. Two of his most iconic works – Alien and Blade Runner – remain as pillars of the industry, still inspiring filmmakers today, and surely for all time. Nearing the end of the 1980s, Scott began delving into other genres, and whilst still creating magnificent pieces, geeks yearned for his return to sci-fi. Well, it seems that it may actually be happening.

Recently, news has been circulating webwide that Sir Ridley has finally rescued one of his long-entrenched-in-development-hell dream projects, the adaptation of Joe Haldeman’s classic epic novel The Forever War. The director had been trying to get the project into production for 24 years, but to no avail…until now. The thought of Ridley Scott helming something as huge [in narrative and scope] as this has left film geeks salivating.

The story involves a deep-space soldier who is thrust into intergalactic warfare that lasts only seven years, yet when he returns home to Earth, he finds that 20 years have passed and the world is much different than it once was. Expect a beautiful dystopic vision of the future as only Ridley Scott can portray it on the big screen. There is sure to be a great cast, majestic visuals, dramatic action, and cutting-edge effects in this highly-anticipated film. More on this as it comes in…

Warners to Adapt “Ninja Scroll”

Posted in action/adventure, anime, fantasy, film, horror, news, sci-fi with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on October 28, 2008 by worldofmatmos

Yoshiaki Kawajiri has been one of the Japanese anime industry’s greatest influences for nearly 30 years, and his seminal period piece Ninja Scroll (Jubei ninpuchou) is another one of his masterful works adored by fans worldwide. So, it’s only natural Hollywood wants to cash in on a live-action adaptation.

According to this past Sunday’s article at Variety, Warner Brothers in association with Leonardo DiCaprio’s Appian Way production house will produce an adaptation by the currently red-hot scribe Alex Tse. The production will be co-produced by Madhouse. Tse pulled writing duty for Zack Snyder’s upcoming Watchmen and has also adapted Ray Bradbury’s The Illustrated Man for Snyder. Appian Way is also currently making headway with their adaptation of Katsuhiro Otomo’s masterpiece Akira.

On a personal sidenote, this news comes as bittersweet. Sure, it is cool that Hollywood has the ability to make such films these days, and there is undoubtedly some talent working on these adaptations, but being that the original works are [to some] untouchable – or at the very least should have the input of the original creators, directors, and/or artists, all of which has been thrown to the wayside in lieu of remaking these projects for American audiences.

Hopefully, Appian & WB will pioneer this with their joint production with Studio Madhouse, the original anime production team. As of yet, there has been no word on the level of their involvement, but hopefully if these great talents play a major role on these live-action anime adaptations, it may ensure that these projects do not ultimately fall prey to cinematic acculturation.

SciFi “Sanctuary”

Posted in action/adventure, fantasy, horror, reviews, sci-fi, suspense/thriller, television with tags , , , on October 27, 2008 by worldofmatmos

Sanctuary (SCIFI, Fridays 10/9C, TV-14)

The Fall schedule this year is full of new and interesting sci-fi, fantasy, and horror projects, and the premiere of the new series Sanctuary on the SciFi Channel has quickly become a part of the top ranks of the genre. The fascinating horror hybrid is a look into the otherworldly titular organization run by the mysterious Dr. Helen Magnus, who collects and studies that which has been all but forgotten in the human world. Cryptozoological monsters and other supernatural beings are “residents” at the Sanctuary for All.

The very well-produced series from creator Damian Kindler (Kung Fu: The Legend Continues, Stargate: Atlantis) includes a variety of great effects work, ranging from the subtle (lots of green-screen composites that are seamless) to great make-up and other practical effects. The cast is well rounded and have good writing to guide them through the dark corners of the Sanctuary world. Amanda Tapping is Dr. Helen Magnus; she is revealed as the proprietor of the Sanctuary for All, where she protects the secrets of the world (and netherworld) with her daughter Ashley (Emilie Ullerup), a headstrong ass-kicking young lady who stalks the creatures of the night and helps her mother with her research. At the center of the story is our main character Dr. Will Zimmerman (Robin Dunne), a forensic psychiatrist who has been searching for answers to a tragedy that had befallen him as a child, and whose secrets are revealed to him by Dr. Magnus when he crosses the threshold towards his newfound destiny. Dunne is likable in the role; his keen sense of perception is an asset to the team, and he is equal parts nerd and hero. Henry Foss (Ryan Robbins) is the goofy yet brilliant tech expert at the Sanctuary, and provides the comic relief in the series. The rest of the cast is equally good, and the pilot sets up future relationships with them. Will must now divide his time between the world and the Sanctuary, and hopefully survive the team’s future encounters.

I look forward to reviewing this series, as it seems like a lot of fun and could go somewhere. However, I have only watched the pilot episode, but look for more on here soon.

 

Joss Whedon’s “Dollhouse” Series Airdate Still Unconfirmed by FOX

Posted in action/adventure, news, sci-fi, suspense/thriller, television with tags , , , , on October 26, 2008 by worldofmatmos

For any new series that hits the networks, any number of issues can cause delays; from production issues to timeslot approvals to shifts in the scheduled line-up for a season, all that viewers really care about is, “When will it be on?” And for the legions of Joss Whedon fans awaiting his highly anticipated new series Dollhouse starring Whedon fave Eliza Dushku, the burning question happens to be “How much longer do we have to wait?”

As with previous Fox outings like Firefly, in which the underrated and short-lived series got screwed by the network, it seems that Fox is giving a home to Dollhouse, but without a move-in date. Despite rumors abound that it could reach airwaves in January to headline the Spring schedule, nothing has been confirmed by the suits at Fox. The show looks to be interesting as usual for Whedon fare, and will likely garner a fan-base early on with webisodes and an already-building online community. Could Fox have another Buffy on their hands, or will Dollhouse go the way of Firefly? As of this month Whedon has defended Fox from any controversy fans may have with the current network execs, fearful that it will end up like the latter. Hopefully, January will be definite and we’ll get a cool new series to watch. Get a glimpse of the Dollhouse below:

James Cameron’s “Battle Angel” Concept Art & Pre-Production Updates

Posted in action/adventure, concept art, fantasy, film, news, sci-fi with tags , , , , , , , , on October 24, 2008 by worldofmatmos

James Cameron’s live-action adaptation of Yukito Kishiro’s Battle Angel Alita was discussed with the guys at MarketSaw3D in an interview with concept artist Mark Goerner. Goerner has worked for years as a concept artist in the game and film industries, and had the opportunity to work on concepting for Battle Angel at Lightstorm Entertainment for about a year-and-a-half before moving on to work on Cameron’s Avatar.

Although it is speculated that this is Cameron’s next project after Avatar, don’t expect to see the post-apocalyptic world of GUNNM anytime soon. A possible 2011 release is being buzzed around online communities. At least we have Avatar to look forward to in 2009 to keep us satiated for the time being.

On the “Fringe” of Prime-Time Television

Posted in action/adventure, reviews, sci-fi, suspense/thriller, television with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on October 23, 2008 by worldofmatmos

FRINGE (FOX, Tuesdays 9/8C, TV-14)

Headlining Fox’s 2008 Fall schedule is Fringe, a sci-fi/thriller from masterminds J.J. Abrams, Alex Kurtzman, and Roberto Orci, that is an intense thrill-ride full of suspense, intrigue, and action that is reminiscent of the original season of The X-Files.

The pilot introduces FBI Agent Olivia Dunham (Anna Torv), who is recruited into a top-secret sector of the Department of Homeland Security that investigates rather unusual cases. When her partner (and lover) becomes a casualty of the case they are working, she seeks the help of Dr. Walter Bishop (John Noble), a brilliant scientist whose past achievements have landed him in an asylum for 17 years. With a little blackmail, she enlists the help of Dr. Bishop’s estranged son Peter (Joshua Jackson) to get access to him. Peter is also a genius like his father, but has instead chose to lead quite a different life.

Now employed with the FBI, Walter and Peter help Agent Dunham and her team, which includes Security Director Phillip Broyles (Lance Reddick), Olivia’s good friend Agent Charlie Francis (Kirk Acevedo) and Agent Astrid Farnsworth (Jasika Nicole) unravel these mysterious happenings. Also introduced is the huge mega-conglomerate called Massive Dynamics that remains shrouded in mystery, and is run by CEO Nina Sharpe (Blair Brown), who prompts some intrigue into these investigations with bits of information regarding “The Pattern”.

The series itself is currently up to Episode 6, and much like Abram’s last epic television outing Lost, each episode is a compelling stand-alone piece that also slowly unravels the secrets of a larger, more insidious tale. What exactly is Massive Dynamics, and what is its ultimate goal? What is “The Pattern”? What is in store for us next week?

The show is impressive on several levels. First, the writing is top-notch, and coming from Abrams, Orci, and Kurtzman, this is to be expected. The high production values (especially the visual effects) rival anything else being currently produced, and although each episode has an almost formulaic cat-and-mouse hunt in the team solving their bizarre cases, each episode is loaded with enough plot twists to keep us engaged to find out the overall story and character arcs.

The characers are also well-developed and are some of the more interesting in recent years. John Noble is particularly excellent as Walter, who is easily my favorite. He is full of quirks, and his lapses between moments of genius and madness are fantastic. He also offers the comic relief in this otherwise tense series. Joshua Jackson is also great as Peter, who never comes off as too cocky or brash for his own good; he is likeable in this role and seems as though his character would be someone you’d want to hang out with. Anna Torv is also good in her role as Olivia; she is a tough yet fragile woman whose emotions help to point her in the right direction when trying to solve a case. Lance Reddick is definitely the hard-ass boss as Broyles, with his no-nonsense, follow-the-orders, need-to-know-basis attitude, but manages to come across as the most trustworthy of characters. Kirk Acevedo is limited in his role as Charlie, he is relegated to the background, but is still a worthy screen presence, and Agent Farnsworth spends most of her time in Walter’s renovated lab in the basement at Harvard.

The series covers a range of interesting and cool ideas such as nanotechology, telekinesis, cryogenics, viral warfare, re-animation, time travel…you get the point. The science is believable fiction and its entertaining suspension-of-disbelief has not disappointed yet. Abrams and crew have another hit on their hands, one that I hope will continue strong over several future seasons.