Posts Tagged ‘scifi’

Survivors ’08: Hot British Post-Apocalyptic Action

November 24, 2008

The remix of Terry Nation‘s classic 1970s post-apocalyptic series, Survivors aired last night on BBC1. The first episode was a fairly impressive feature-length update of the original storyline: a virus destroys 95% of humanity within about a week, and a disparate bunch have to work together to survive.

Here’s the trailer:

Of course, as a BBC production there were bound to be some cheesy moments and I spotted at least one continuity error at about 50 minutes in – another car flashes past the camera in what was supposed to be an abandoned housing estate.

Nevertheless as a die-hard fan of post-apocalyptic fiction, I can’t help but be impressed by the scope of the programme. The resurgent eco-friendly 70s commune themes are also strangely pleasing, if a little naive, such as the outdoor retreat leader who chastises Western society for becoming disconnected from the land and complains because the central character, Abby Grant, can’t milk a cow or kill a pig or something equally “practical”.

Next episode is tomorrow night. If you missed it, you can catch up on BBC’s iPlayer. To whet your appetite, here’s a documentary from BBC Four on the appeal of the original 70s show:


Fallout 3 Preview At Eurogamer

April 29, 2008

Fallout 3 Logo

Well, damn… A lot of water has passed under the bridge since I last talked about the latest in the Fallout series. Apparently it’s nearly ready, and Eurogamer posted Kieron Gillen’s two-page in-depth preview last Friday…

Okay, I’m seriously salivating over this game now! Not only is the retro-futurist, post-apocalyptic, amoral core of the game present and correct, you also get to play as a child version of your future self! Check out this description of the section where you play a new-born infant:

“Any game which starts you between your mother’s legs, looking up at your dad, and being able to bawl by pressing a button deserves a round of applause. It’s at this point you also decide what you’re going to look like as an adult, and then the game – from your choices – generates what your Dad would have looked like.”

Is this a sideways nod to the unexpected genius that was the first Alien chapter in AvP2? The bit where you play as a facehugger, then as a young alien, bursting out of your victim’s chest (recently memorably replayed by Alec Meer on RPS) was nothing short of spectacular.

Fallout 3’s take is necessarily more subtle: you get the chance to play yourself (?!?) at one, ten, sixteen and nineteen. There’s other good stuff, too – just check the preview. The only partially negative note concerns the combat – a fairly major element of gameplay, admittedly, but I have faith in Bethesda!

I haven’t checked yet, but I imagine that this has already prompted hundreds of angry diatribes over at NMA et. al…

But who cares about the fanboys? Bring it on.

Blast From The Past: Batman Dead End

April 27, 2008

Remember this?

This fan-produced film did the rounds ages ago. In fact it was back in 2003 (5 years ago!) when I first heard about it – from this thread at TTLG forums, as it happens.

And, you know what? It’s still as gloriously campy and fun as it was back in the day, as well as being a shining example of what insane fanboys with a budget can actually produce when they put their minds to it… Batman vs. Alien vs. Predator – no one expected that! Talk about a mashup

Just imagine how the audience would react if Christopher Nolan pulled that kind of stunt in his upcoming The Dark Knight. Although it would of course be unforgivable (and would no doubt result in a sustained hate campaign from legions of die-hard fans), it would almost be worth it simply because of the supreme “WTF!?!” factor and stratospheric levels of internet kudos which such a move would generate.

Watchmen: 11 Months To Go

April 6, 2008

The clock is ticking…

Watchmen smiley

According to the official blog over at Warner Bros., there’s just under one year to go until Zack Snyder’s film version of the “unfilmable” Alan Moore/Dave Gibbons masterpiece, Watchmen, hits the screens:

Watchmen – One Year To Midnight

6th March 2009 is the magic date all the fans are waiting for – and the great news is that it’s a global release date (well, apart from cinema-goers in Norway, Spain and Belgium who have to wait another week, but who’s counting?), so we get to see it in the UK at the same time as the US.

Watchmen charactersTo be honest, my hopes for the film have been marooned somewhere between low and zero since I’d read all the stories of development hell back in the nineties and early 2000s. When I heard about Snyder‘s involvement (he of 300 and Dawn of the Dead remake fame), I became very worried; Watchmen deserves so much more than amazing visuals and a heavy metal backing track.

However, having read parts of Snyder’s official blog on the movie – particularly Dave Gibbons’ comments about his visits to the set – my expectations have been well and truly raised.

Now that filming is finished, a year (!?!) of post-production work begins, so we’re not likely to hear a great deal of new information during that time. My impressions of the casting are mixed: on the positive side, most of the major characters from the graphic novel are present and correct – including minor players like Big Figure – and I like the way that Snyder’s avoided using really big names. However, it’s going to be really difficult to get people like Rorschach spot on. In fact, I was watching The Thin Red Line the other day and, during one of the many monologues, it struck me how perfect Nick Nolte‘s voice would have been for Rorschach…

Rorschach - Watchmen

The big question mark still hangs over how they’re going to fit the epic alternative-history storyline into the ~2 hours running time. Some reports suggest that fans might have to wait until the DVD release to get the full experience – possibly including the Black Freighter sub-story as anime, voice by Gerard Butler!

Cloverfield: Review’d

February 29, 2008

CloverfieldI finally got round to seeing this after numerous abortive cinema visits, and… it’s pretty good. Very intense at times, a fact emphasised by the style of presentation: the film is exclusively shot from a small video camera carried by one of the survivors. But this isn’t some arthouse scifi flick – there are plenty of big-budget action scenes here, though they’re cleverly staged so you don’t feel like you’re watching a Hollywood blockbuster.

However, despite the motion-sickness-inducing handicam amateur feel, it’s actually a fairly traditional disaster movie at heart. It’s got the lighthearted beginning bit, where characters are introduced and lovelives become increasingly entangled. Then there’s the middle section where the disaster strikes and the monster stomps around trashing NY, most impressively. Then there’s the desperate final section, where major characters are picked off, and things become increasingly fraught as they near their goal.

Cloverfield 2Kudos to the director for cleverly intercutting footage of two of the main characters from one month before the main events – this adds depth to the relationship, and lends the ending a poignancy it might otherwise have lacked.

I also liked the way the film didn’t focus too much on the creepy crab-like minimonsters – though the section in the subway was scarily good stuff. Overall Cloverfield is well worth watching, but it doesn’t quite live up to all the preceding hype.

Mind you, I’m very glad I saw this film after the earthquake struck on Wednesday morning. That would have properly freaked me out…

Mustn’t Spoil Cloverfield!

January 18, 2008

CloverfieldWell, it’s finally 01-18-08, and Cloverfield is out (in the States at least), which leaves us Brits on the other side of the Atlantic with two whole weeks in which to avoid seeing any spoilers relating to the film (it’s not out until 01/02/08 over here).

Of course, anyone who’s online can hardly go five minutes without seeing a link to a review or a “reveal” of the monster. So now the trick will be summoning the effort to resist clicking on any of these things for fear of spoiling the surprise!

I’ll leave you with the latest official TV “spot” (I guess this means “advert”) to keep you guessing, although I’m sure that by tonight there’ll be hundreds of dodgy phone videos from first night screenings uploaded to youtube — if there aren’t already: I refuse to search for “cloverfield” on youtube for the next two weeks!

I Am Legend: Review’d

January 13, 2008

I Am Legend 2I’m in two minds about this.

On the one hand it’s a cracking, well-paced action thriller with some expertly directed tense scenes. The bit with the vampire dogs held back by an ever-decreasing sliver of setting sun as an injured Neville struggles lamely toward his car is a stand out moment. And there are plenty of other unsettling and memorable moments, too.

On the other hand, however, it’s far too CGI‘d for my liking. It’s like they tried so hard to make the bad guys scary, and in the process kind of missed the point of why zombies are so fearsome — it’s because they were once just as human as the rest of us, but now they’ve been corrupted and perverted into something monstrous. That’s been lost somewhere here. For my money the infected in 28 Days Later were more terrifying than I Am Legend’s supercharged computer-generated versions.

Being a fan of the book, it was always going to be an uphill struggle, but Constantine director Francis Lawrence and the writers did a commendable job of updating the story. Of course the ending doesn’t live up to the uber-grim novel versio…(read more)n, and a lot of the subtle details — like the different vampire race and the lascivious vampires trying to tempt Neville out of his safe house — are missing altogether. The ‘legend’ in the film is also crudely simplified in comparison to Matheson’s novel.

I Am Legend 1It’s still well worth seeing though, at least for the superbly realised post-apocalyptic New York setting and, surprisingly, Will Smith’s very credible performance. I was a little disappointed that he didn’t do his trademark “AW HELL NAW!”, but you can’t have everything…

Even More Cloverfield

December 16, 2007

Following the release of the official trailer last month, more footage of the hotly anticipated Cloverfield (01-18-08) has now been released onto the internet. This time it’s a five minute clip, introduced by JJ Abrams, showing some intense Statue of Liberty exploding action. From the looks of this, it seems like this will be an urban Blair Witch Project, but with a much higher effects budget.

This clip is actually from a contest to win a screening of Cloverfield in your home town (if you live in the US of course). The way it works is that you ‘grab’ the widget — i.e. post it on your website, Facebook or MySpace profile, and friends and other users watch it and then post it to their profiles. It’s all part of the larger viral marketing campaign surrounding the movie.

Still no more details on the monster, though: the hype is really building now… Roll on February 1st (UK release date)!

Cloverfield Trailer Released – Speculation Continues

November 24, 2007

The trailer for JJ Abrams‘ hotly anticipated new monster movie, Cloverfield, was released officially earlier this month. You can see it at the official website:

Cloverfield – 1-18-08

CloverfieldThe level of speculation over the film’s plot and — crucially — what the monster will look like has reached fever pitch in sci-fi geek online communities over the past several months. Even the title has been the subject of intense debate: originally Paramount released a trailer with Transformers last summer which showed the decapitated Statue of Liberty shot (the iconic image of the movie) and the release date 1-18-08, which, for the non-transatlantic amongst us translates to the 18th of January 2008.

Now, however, it seems that the studio have gone for “Cloverfield” which has been a known working-title since the start of the hype. But still nobody’s sure about whether this is a Godzilla-type movie, or something darker — H.P. Lovecraft’s Cthulhu has been cited as an inspiration in several quarters.

Slash Film has a post which shows a slow-mo clip of several frames from the trailer apparently depicting the monster. Another version of this is shown below, from Youtube:

Intense. But I’ve still got no idea whether it’s a 200 foot alien terror-arachnid or a murky shot of the StayPuft Marshmallow Man from Ghostbusters. The jury’s out, in other words, but what’s indisputable is that Abrams and the Paramount marketing team are doing a great job of generating interest in what could be a run-of-the-mill monster movie.

Numerous blogs are dedicated solely to dissecting any scrap of information about the movie as soon as it is released. This is then rehashed and repackaged on hundreds of other non-specialist blogs, like mine, and the meme spreads. It’s a truly viral campaign, and it works because a very tight lid has been kept on the script, with no leaks so far.

Given Abrams’ credentials, I’m pretty confident Cloverfield will at least give sci-fi enthusiasts like me something to talk about come the new year.

Transformers – Review’d

July 29, 2007

I’ve been decepticonned! The trailer would have you believe this is a taut-but-dumb action thriller. A gung-ho, popcorn-tastic guns ‘n’ robots movie, with copious explosions, fast cars, and edge-of-the-seat scares. Not so! In fact, it’s a kid’s movie. No wait: it’s a slapstick comedy… No, wait…


To be honest, I don’t think it can decide what it wants to be, and in the process it squanders a great …(read more)premise and ruins a potentially excellent film. The biggest problem is the pacing, which is all over the place. The opening Decepticon attack on the US army base in Qatar is superb, although I felt they could have saved the big ‘reveal’ of the enemy until a little later. Unfortunately, the film then turns into a high-school comedy for half an hour, and in the process any sense of urgency and tension completely evaporates. Don’t get me wrong, there are some genuinely funny moments here. The unpronounceable Shia LaBeouf does a great job of playing likeable loser Sam Witwicky, and Megan Fox… Well, she pouts and looks pretty, I suppose.

The film’s other weaknesses are the plot and the characters. Now, I know what you’re thinking: this is a Michael Bay film — what do you expect? But the problem’s not that the characters are two-dimensional (they are) or that the plot’s ridiculous (it is). No, the big issue for me is that there’s too little time spent developing either of the two other plot threads. It’s unbalanced, so you get very few scenes of the army guys from the start, or even the hacker geeks in the Pentagon. As a result, the film feels a little lopsided, and in fact it left me feeling that with more judicious editing of the high-school comedy sections, it could’ve been a contender for blockbuster of the year at least.


By the time John Turturro‘s ill-advised slapstick government agent is thrown into the mix, it’s all gone a bit pear-shaped. It’s his job to do the backstory exposition — who are the Transformers, and how did they get here? — but it’s already been done by that point, by Optimus Prime to Sam and Mikaela. Nevertheless, we get it again, further delaying any sense of urgency and — more importantly — hardcore mech-fighting action!

Speaking of which, there are far too few scenes of robot-on-robot stomping action for my liking. You get the initial army base attack with Blackout, a short fight scene between Bumblebee and Barricade midway through, then nothing until the admittedly awe-inspiring Megatron vs. Optimus Prime climax. But when it finally arrives, it’s all uber-tight angles and fast cuts, so even then I was left feeling faintly dissatisfied.


Reading through this review, it all sounds fairly harsh. It really isn’t that bad; there are fun moments here, and parts of the final battle on the streets of New York are breathtaking. Go and see it, and decide for yourself, but don’t expect what was promised in the trailer. That’s a different film — maybe the sequel.