The Sci-Fi News: Writing Some Triffids, Casting a RoboCop and Directing The Pet
What we've got here is a pretty busy week for science fiction movie news, so let's get this show on the road without any further ado, shall we?
First up, there's the news that Neil Cross has been hired to write a remake of The Day of the Triffids for Ghost House Pictures. Originally a novel and then a semi-classic 1951 film, The Day of the Triffids is the story of aggressive, man-eating plants that set out to conquer the planet after much of the population is blinded by a freakish meteor shower. It's a classically b-movie story -- charming in its inherent goofiness -- and hopefully Cross (whose horror film Mama is in post-production and who did some rewrites on Guillermo Del Toro's Pacific Rim) will find the proper balance of tone.
Despite the wacky rumor that Russell Crowe would be taking the part, it looks like the upcoming and inevitable RoboCop remake has found its Alex Murphy: Joel Kinnaman, best known for his role on AMC's The Killing (and for a scuffy-chic Wild West Rodeo Show 'stache), has been offered the role, though he has yet to officially accept it. I'm not going to pretend I'm a Joel Kinnaman expert, so I won't cast any kind of knee-jerk response, but I do hope he's a Movies.com reader so he can get this message. Ahem. Hey Joel, if you do take the role of RoboCop, please note that Peter Weller didn't half-ass the part. Watch how he incorporated extensive movement training to create a bizarre and wonderful physical performance that transcended the fact that he was in a metal costume for most of the shoot. Thanks. Talk later!
Now to switch gears…producer Scott Rudin has recruited director Jared Hess to take on the long-gestating The Pet, which follows a human being who is abducted by aliens, taken to their home planet and made into a family pet. It's the kind of quirky concept that would definitely appeal to the director of Napoleon Dynamite, but it's the kind of concept you want to keep as far away as possible from the director of Gentlemen Broncos and Nacho Libre. Hess is in a position where he has to prove he's worth trusting. Can a silly, sci-fi family comedy make him a hot commodity again? I don't know. That's why I'm asking you.
Finally, here's the full and final trailer for Mass Effect 3. The game hits right before SXSW, so I won't be able to play if for a few weeks, but you can be sure that I'll have a thing or two to say about it in this here column.
The Sci-Fi Discussion: Prometheus and Rewriting the Alien Continuity
If you're the kind of person who reads science fiction movie columns, you've probably already seen this, but if you haven't, just go ahead and give it a watch. I'll just wait right here. Go on. It's only three minutes long.
Okay. Are we all back? Good. If you watched that, didn't know a thing going in and smiled with approval when the speaker's name was revealed, you're what we in the industry like to call "a real Alien fan." Hopefully, it won't be the last great piece of viral marketing for Ridley Scott's upcoming Alien sorta-prequel, Prometheus.
The footage, from a TED Talk in the near future of 2023, features Peter Weyland (played by Guy Pearce), waxing poetic about pushing the boundaries of what mankind of capable of accomplishing and creating synthetic humans. It's a pretty riveting speech, performed well, shot well and surrounded by enough futuristic details that we get a sense of this science fiction world. Fans of Alien lore know that Mr. Weyland will eventually meet a Mr. Yutani and the two of them will merge their powers and eventually send people into space to retrieve dangerous bioweapons from LV-421. When that ends in blood and tears and screaming and Sigourney Weaver in her underwear, they'll just attempt to colonize the planet, with even more disastrous results.
So we know that much about Prometheus: Guy Pearce will be playing the man responsible for four films worth of chestbursting. That's right. Four films. I will no longer include the two Alien Vs. Predator films anymore in the greater discussion of the Alien mythos and not just because they're terrible films. The observant viewer may remember that Lance Henriksen played a character named Charles Bishop Weyland in Alien Vs. Predator, ostensibly the founder of that infamous corporation. The character didn't survive that film. Now, we have a new Weyland popping up, associated with a production that's directed by the man behind the original Alien. What does this mean?
It means that the Alien Vs. Predator films have officially been removed from the Alien continuity, reduced to the glorified fan fiction that they should have been in the first place. Prometheus will not only ignore those films, it is openly overwriting them.
Even if Prometheus doesn't live up to expectations, it certainly won't be the red mark on the Alien record that those films were. For that much, Prometheus is already a partial success.
The Sci-Fi Horizon: Short Film Archetype on the Way to the Big Screen
The problem with short films is that it's hard for them to reach an audience. There's no proper way to distribute them and most tend to vanish into the ether, never to be seen beyond a cast and crew screening. However, the internet gives movie fans the opportunity to discover terrific shorts like never before. Vimeo and YouTube allow filmmakers give filmmakers an opportunity to showcase their work for an audience of millions. Short films have existed for over a century, but it took the creation o the internet to give them the proper home.
This way, we can also catch a sneak peek at certain projects that are on their way. Chronicle producer John Davis has picked up the rights to Aaron Sims' short film Archetype (which finds a robotic soldier discovering a hidden humanity beneath its deadly metallic surface) with plans to develop it into a feature. How do we know this project has the potential to be really cool? Because we can watch the short film right here, right now!