Edge of Tomorrow - Movie Review by Monte Yazzie

edge of tomorrowEdge of Tomorrow  

Dir: Doug Liman

Starring: Tom Cruise, Emily Blunt, Bill Paxton, and Brendan Gleeson


Rated PG-13

113 Minutes


By: Monte Yazzie  from www.thecodafilms.com


Tom Cruise knows how to make an entertaining film and director Doug Liman understands action film storytelling. Combine these two consistent artists in a film and you are bound to have one entertaining experience. “Edge of Tomorrow” is a smartly designed and skillfully constructed science fiction thriller, with good performances from the two leads.


Major William Cage (Tom Cruise) is a high level recruiter for the military and the new war against alien invaders known as mimics, who have the ability to reset time, giving them the advantage of being a step ahead in warfare. Cage, a non-combat officer, is stripped of his rank by an overzealous General (Brendan Gleeson) and placed in a ragtag group known as “J Company” for frontline defense in the impending first assault. Cage doesn’t make it very far on the battlefield, dying within minutes but in the process killing a mimic that bleeds on him and gives him the ability to reset time. On a learning curve with his new power, Cage enlists the help of a respected soldier named Rita (Emily Blunt) in an effort to defeat the mimics.


Cruise was good throughout the film, starting the story as a privileged officer in the military who had an aversion to blood and had never used the weapons he promoted. But by the end he was a hardened expert of combat, motivated by the needs of humanity over his personal fears. It was a shift that Cruise handled with ease. Emily Blunt was enjoyable to watch, wielding a massive combat sword with an attitude that challenged most manly military stereotypes. She was best when paired with Cruise; mostly kicking him around during training sessions and repeatedly killing him so she could reset the day, it became fairly humorous after awhile.


The narrative was complicated, but not confusing. Liman kept the story nicely paced up to the final act, which changed tone and unfolded too predictably. The battle sequences were in the style of Liman’s past films, a mix of frenzied handheld perspectives awash with a grey color palette. Liman constructed a maze-like battlefield with explosions from nearly every direction that was an impressive display even with the unneeded 3-D gimmickry. The initial battle, that would again be replayed more than few times, was dizzying and exciting.


The CG aliens were in a constant state of hyper movement, reminiscent of the chaotic transition seen with the conversion from machine to robot in the “Transformers” series, and it became cluttered when mixed with Liman’s distinct action design in some parts. The artistic design of the futuristic weaponry was reminiscent of the first person shooter game “Unreal Tournament, though the gore was much less. The restraint, in regards to violence and the many deaths of the lead character, were handled subtly with a camera pan or an intentional edit.


While the movie incorporated elements from some familiar sources, most notably “Source Code” and “Groundhog Day”, director Doug Liman kept the story easy to follow and the action exciting to watch, making “Edge of Tomorrow” an unexpected summer surprise.



Monte’s Rating

4.00 out of 5.00

X-Men: Days of Future Past - Movie Review by Monte Yazzie

xmenX-Men: Days of Future Past  

Starring Hugh Jackman, Patrick Stewart, Ian McKellen, Michael Fassbender, James McAvoy, Jennifer Lawrence, Peter Dinklage and Halle Berry

Directed by Bryan Singer


From Twentieth Century Fox

Rated PG-13

131 minutes


The “X-Men” films have always been an interesting addition in the comic book film world. While most superhero films have one extraordinary figure, the X-Men are a wealth of exceptional people who are otherwise shunned by the bulk of society. They compose two very identified factions, one being protectors of mankind to promote their coexistence and other being survivalist looking for the advancement of their own kind with zero regard for humanity. It becomes a reflective mix of political and social commentary. Bryan Singer returned to the director’s chair and successfully combined the journey to the past established in “X-Men: First Class” with the characters that started the whole franchise fashioning a worthwhile summer popcorn film.


It’s the future and mutant-hunting machines called Sentinels are defeating the X-Men. Professor X (Patrick Stewart) and Magneto (Ian McKellan) devise a plan to send the Wolverine (Hugh Jackman) into the past to motivate their past selves into an alliance to change the future, one that involves the participation of the now self-sufficient Mystique (Jennifer Lawrence) and her motivations for Dr. Bolivar Trask (Peter Dinklage), the inventor of the Sentinel program being offered to the U.S. government.


Focusing the transition of the storyline on the sturdy shoulders of Hugh Jackman, and his time weary Wolverine character, was a great choice. The character, already solidified in the franchise history through his stand-alone films, had an established relationship with every character, which made the chemistry work between the past and future teams. Peter Dinklage was a great antagonist, his motivations were none too complicated but instead were reasoned as a strategic move for humanity. In one exchange he complimented the powers of the mutants, in a way envious of them, while at the same moment discussing his intrigue for experimenting on them for his Sentinel program. In this film the mutants were unified against a common foe, making the character Magneto (played by both Ian McKellan and Michael Fassbender) embrace a whole new level of complication. Fassbender, in a calm and monotone presence, particularly blurred the line of Magneto’s true motivations and was consistently enjoyable to watch on screen. Some characters were unfortunately shorthanded screen time and relinquished to glaring stares at far off foes, the overpopulation gave a few great actors only minor occasions to shine.


While the narrative may seem complex the film did a great job of never feeling confusing but instead remained interesting in ways that other comic book films struggled. Most try to incorporate a steady amount of action; this film had some stunning sequences, in particular an exchange with speedy character Quicksilver (Evan Peters) amidst a perfect choice of music, but it was far more restrained than other films and instead forwarded the story with character altercations that were more for development than extravagance. While the time travel aspects began to fall apart in the finale, amidst back and forth transitions between the future and past, it was not enough to hurt anything established before it.


“X-Men: Days of Future Past” organized a great ensemble of characters familiar to fans of the X-Men chronicle. With the addition of a good script and solid performances from leading characters, this film is the comic book experience to beat this summer.


Monte’s Rating

4.00 out of 5.00


Witching and Bitching - Movie Review

witching and bitchingWitching and Bitching

Directed by: Álex de la Iglesia

Starring: Hugo Silva, Mario Casas, and Carolina Bang

Director Álex de la Iglesia has been making his brand of satire filled stylistic dramas for the past twenty years, yet he is still relatively unknown stateside. “The Last Circus” and “800 Bullets” are his most recognized works but it may be the frenzied “Witching and Bitching” that draws the most attention from genre fans looking for something different.  With a blend of melodrama meeting horror, de la Iglesia produces a bizarre and humorous excursion.

Jose (Hugo Silva) is a struggling father trying to make the best for his 8-year-old son Sergio (Gabriel Delgado). Unfortunately Jose’s idea for making a better life involves a daylight robbery of a jewelry store with Sergio playing accomplice along with his partner Tony (Mario Casas). Things don’t go as smoothly as Jose would like but he narrowly escapes capture in a cab and takes the driver Manuel (Jaime Ordóñez) hostage. The group is in retreat to a remote border town called Zugarramurdi. But freedom becomes more complicated as the town they enter is home to a coven of witches.

From the beginning moments the attitude of the film is rather playful, as the group of robbers are dressed in all manner of extravagant costuming. The beginning heist is filled with comic moments that range from slapstick to jeering banter. De la Iglesia has a knack for crafting grand displays of scenery full of interesting imagery while also composing rapid-fire exposition that surprisingly compliments the story. In one scene during a hectic and violent getaway the four characters bicker about their lives and relationships amidst gunshots and car crashes, it’s a great action sequence but an even better introduction to the characters.

Once the opening assault is over the film steadies as the group escapes to a border town known for being a home to witchcraft. It’s at this point that the film turns into something different, less crime and more horror though the comedy remains. While this transition isn’t bad the contradicting decisions the characters begin to make threatens to derail the momentum established early. Jose is a father making terrible choices for the sake of his son, but when the film needs to lead the characters further into the realm of the witches Jose suddenly forgets about his son. It’s ruins the development of his character along with the camaraderie of the group.  The spectacle continues, too much, into an effects heavy ending that feels out of place for the rest of the film.

Álex De la Iglesia is an accomplished director and it shows early with “Witching and Bitching”. At its core the film is a melodrama about the varying dynamics of relationships between men and women. Set amid the perils of criminal activity, the collapse of companionship, and the threat of witches, de la Iglesia’s film skips around as much his frenzied editing style. While this unconventional style may not suit every fan “Witching and Bitching” is still amusing and funny enough to warrant a watch.

Monte’s Rating

3.00 out of 5.00

Godzilla - Movie Review


Starring Bryan Cranston, Aaron Taylor-John, Elizabeth Olsen, Ken Watanabe, Sally Hawkins and David Strathairn


Directed by Gareth Edwards


From Warner Bros. Pictures

Rated PG-13

123 minutes


Review by Monte Yazzie



The most iconic of monsters returns to the big screen in Gareth Edwards’ larger than life “Godzilla”. Edwards, director of the unexpected though satisfying “Monsters”, pays proper homage to the legendary Gojira, once he finally makes an appearance. Focusing more than past incarnations have on character development, Edwards’ rendition may not be consistently packed with action, but once the “king of the monsters” tramples front and center, it’s something impressive to behold.


Godzilla is a secret to the world, hidden in history under nuclear testing done by the U.S. in the Pacific Ocean that was actually an attack on the monster. The film introduces two scientists, Dr. Seriwaza (Ken Watanabe) and Vivienne Graham (Sally Hawkins), who are investigating a massive mine in the Philippines where two large insect-like pods have been discovered. In Tokyo, Joe Brody (Bryan Cranston) and his wife Sandra (Juliette Binoche) are working in a nuclear plant that sustains deadly damage during what is said to have been an earthquake. Fast forward a few years and Ford (Aaron Taylor-Johnson), the son of Joe and Sandra, is on military leave with his family in San Francisco when his father is arrested for trespassing in Tokyo. Ford picks up his father and they soon find themselves detained in a research facility that is investigating strange anomalies reminiscent of a past secret.


The Godzilla mythology, originally presented as a global warning against nuclear production after the destruction in Hiroshima and Nagasaki, was born in 1954 by director Ishirô Honda. The original film wasn’t overlooked but instead familiar elements were utilized that allowed for a great setup that introduced the film. While Edwards delicately handled the lore, his film was much different than most of the titles in the long running series, focusing extensively on narrative and character developments in this version. The story was interesting at first mostly due to Bryan Cranston’s turn as the vigilant Brody, providing a sincere and strong performance even though he was only given minimal screen time.


Whatever incarnation of Godzilla you appreciate most, it’s the monster that you want to see. It was near 60 minutes before the title character made a full appearance on screen. Most of what was seen initially was glimpses of a massive tail being dragged through wreckage or spines peeking through water, it helped in building excitement but those looking for carnage will need patience. Once Godzilla made his impressive visual appearance, accompanied by that iconic roar, it was easy to justify the wait.


Unfortunately the story began to drag after the first full scale encounter as routine plot devices took over as scientists and soldiers who planned for the protection of population and shaped the nuclear strategy aimed at stopping the colliding monsters. Additionally, the story of Ford returning to San Francisco to save his family felt forced, though Elizabeth Olsen was given a few moments to shine. When the final battle commenced in San Francisco, the imposing visual aspect took hold. Whether it was the parachuting soldiers against the massively scaled Godzilla or the destruction heavy battle finale, the film came together to give the audience what they came for.


While this Godzilla may feel more like a supporting character than the leading star, director Gareth Edwards’ utilized an exceptional visual presence and attempted to add some interesting character and narrative attributes which made “Godzilla” a worthy entry into the monster genre.


Monte’s Rating

3.50 out of 5.00


Only Lovers Left Alive - Movie Review

only lovers Only Lovers Left Alive


Directed by: Jim Jarmusch

Starring: Tilda Swinton, Tom Hiddleston, Mia Wasikowska, Anton Yelchin, and John Hurt


From: Sony Pictures Classics

Rated: R

Reviewed by: Monte Yazzie

Director Jim Jarmusch has made a career of examining people and the idiosyncrasies they embrace. Whether it’s the journey of three imprisoned men in “Down by Law” or the account of cab drivers from different parts of the world in “Night on Earth”, Jarmusch has the skillful ability of forming fascinating characters that serve the story. While Jarmusch has explored numerous genres, “Only Lovers Left Alive” is his first endeavor into the realm of horror and the subgenre of vampire mythology. What Jarmusch accomplishes with this moody piece of cinema is another achievement in his already impressive career.


Taking place in the nighttime desolation of both Detroit and Tangier, Eve (Tilda Swinton) is a wise and sympathetic vampire who has survived longer than most of her kind. She is in an enduring married relationship with Adam (Tom Hiddleston), a cynical musician whose existence amongst a changing humanity has brought despair into his world. Blood is life and, though they have evolved away from the usual means of human consumption, they drink it from goblets and treat it like a fine wine. All the while observing and scrutinizing a world that is simply beneath their time journeyed experience. Nevertheless the world they are trying to separate themselves from seems to be invading their lives in a destructive way.


For a film about vampires there is very little to consider horrific. While the genre characteristics are in accordance with the well-known lore, like the usual blood drinking and sunlight avoidance, those elements are mostly used for assisting atmosphere. The horror extremes are replaced with multilayered conversations spanning a centuries worth of knowledge and are delivered in a gushing philosophical form from two timeworn vampires. Their discussions are a mix of insightful social commentary, comical diatribes about history, and deliberately ordinary remarks about everyday life. These characters are what keep the momentum moving when the film, which at numerous times, slows to a stationary scene of two people talking. This, in less seasoned hands, could turn into a confused mess but Jarmusch makes nearly every second absorbing.


Like most of Jarmusch’s films character development takes precedent, and Tilda Swinton and Tom Hiddleston are impressive in the leads. Swinton, always entertaining to watch, gives Eve compassionate and understanding attributes, while also being susceptible to love. Hiddleston is a gloomy mix of emotions, depressing and self-defeating but also hopeful because of his cherished Eve. John Hurt makes a welcome cameo as Christopher Marlowe, the same person associated with Shakespeare. Marlowe is a vampire who is the local blood provider for the more civil ones of his kind. Hurt is great, offering some of the films most memorable lines concerning his famous history.


There is a certain amount of commitment needed to make it through this film, which will undoubtedly split some viewers wanting more plot developments or genre fans looking for more intense influences from the horror aspect of the story. Still, “Only Lovers Left Alive” may be one of the few vampire films, from the bulk of oversaturation seen in recent years, which will be remembered as one the exceptional films of the genre.


Monte’s Rating

4.00 out of 5.00

The Sacrament - Movie Review

SacramentThe Sacrament

Directed by Ti West

Starring:  AJ Bowen, Joe Swanberg, Amy Seimetz, and Gene Jones

From Magnolia

Rated R

Reviewed by Monte Yazzie

The Sacrament” isn't necessarily a horror film but that doesn't make it any less horrific. Ti West, a genre standout who directed the slow burning throwback “Innkeepers” and the dread filled “House of the Devil”, directs his sixth feature which is reminiscent of the events that transpired during the Jonestown Massacre in 1978. Creatively handling tension and mystery in this film, even though the subject matter may be familiar to older audiences, West builds and molds the film into a deeply affecting piece of cinema.

Patrick (Kentucker Audley) receives a letter from his estranged sister Caroline (Amy Seimetz) who has taken refuge in a religious commune known as Eden Parrish. Patrick brings along his friends Sam (AJ Bowen) and Jake (Joe Swanberg) who are journalists working for Vice, the real journalism company known for their immersive pieces. The three men travel to an undisclosed tropical location and are met at the gates of the group built community by armed guards and resentment from its members. Sam wants an interview with the reclusive leader known as “Father” (Gene Jones), but quickly realizes the true extent of Eden Parrish’s control.

West employs a documentary style for this film. This hand held, motion heavy style has been commonly used in horror for “found footage” films. West separates “The Sacrament” from some of the sloppy trappings of “found footage” by utilizing the journalistic merit of Vice and shaping an impression of a documentary through onscreen written narrative and interview style edits. Though some scenes are still quite frantic with motion, the modified method works in gradually building tension from scene to scene. By the time “Father” appears on screen, amidst an entrance fit for a rock n’ roll band, the atmosphere is tautly apprehensive. Making the interview between Sam and “Father” gripping and spellbinding in the same manner as the first encounter of Clarice and Dr. Lecter in “Silence of the Lambs”.

West explores the depths of extreme religious devotion, pointing the camera on the diverse members of the community as they respond to questions of their past and their guidance by “Father” towards salvation. For the first 45 minutes, the film is dedicated to examining people, never offering the validity of deceit or honesty. It’s an effective technique used to twist the mystery that anyone familiar with Jonestown will likely be anticipating. While the film does a great job of character building and slowly manufacturing the narrative tension, once the chaos begins the film turns visceral with a few scenes that will undoubtedly be too intense for more sensitive viewers. It’s a jarring change that is necessary for the film, though for a few moments amidst the staggering disorder the film diverges into an overlong chase and evasion sequence that seems out of place.

Ti West continues to grow as a filmmaker, displaying with “The Sacrament” the ability to venture away from straightforward genre horror and examine the realistic terror that exists in the world.

Monte’s Rating: 4.00 out of 5.00


Resivent Evil: Retribution Trailer

Film Synopsis The Umbrella Corporation’s deadly T-virus continues to ravage the Earth, transforming the global population into legions of the flesh eating Undead. The human race’s last and only hope, Alice (Milla Jovovich), awakens in the heart of Umbrella’s most clandestine operations facility and unveils more of her mysterious past as she delves further into the complex. Without a safe haven, Alice continues to hunt those responsible for the outbreak; a chase that takes her from Tokyo to New York, Washington, D.C. and Moscow, culminating in a mind-blowing revelation that will force her to rethink everything that she once thought to be true. Aided by newfound allies and familiar friends, Alice must fight to survive long enough to escape a hostile world on the brink of oblivion. The countdown has begun . .

'The Walking Dead' Season 2, Part 2 Preview!

Just a little more than two weeks to go until The Walking Dead returns with all-new episodes on AMC. The network has just released yet another trailer for the second half of the season, as well as the titles and descriptions of the remaining episodes. Check 'em out after the jump. The following episode titles and descriptions for The Walking Dead come to us from SpoilerTV via ShockTillYouDrop...

Episode 2.09 - Triggerfinger 

Rick, Hershel and Glen are trapped and fight to survive; Shane finds Lori in danger.

Episode 2.10 - 18 Miles Out 

Rick and Shane are in conflict over the fate of an outsider; Andrea helps Hershel's daughter face a crucial decision.

Episode 2.11 - Judge, Jury, Executioner 

Rick sides with Shane causing Dale to worry that the group is losing its humanity; Carl's actions have unintended consequences.

Episode 2.12 - Better Angels 

Someone dangerous may be loose near the farm; Rick, Shane, Daryl and Glenn keep the group safe.

Episode 2.13 - Beside the Dying Fire 

Rick and Carl find the farm in jeopardy; the group is split up in the chaos; Rick's leadership is questioned.

10 potentially great sci-fi movies coming in 2012

As you’ve probably gathered, 2012 is an absolutely gigantic year for geek movies. From The Muppets arriving in the UK at the beginning of the year, via The Dark Knight Rises in the summer, to the first Hobbit movie near its end, 2012 is so packed full of potentially great films, we’re not quite sure how we’ll find the time to watch them all. Next year’s also a promising one for sci-fi fanatics. And as this list aims to prove, there are some genuinely intriguing genre films coming out in 2012, from low-budget oddities to expensive epics. In compiling a run-down of the ten SF movies we’re most looking forward to, then, we’ve tried to weight it in favour of the less well-known pictures that we think deserve a little more exposure.

So bear in mind that, although we’re looking forward to, say, Battleship, The Hunger Games or Men In Black 3, we’ve decided to highlight some less obvious indie fare instead - and as this year’s Another Earth once again proved, it’s from this side of the moviemaking fence that the best ideas and performances often hail.

Chronicle Released: 1 February

“What are you capable of?” asked the trailer for this mash-up of found-footage movie and sci-fi superhero thriller. It's about a group of teenagers who possess telekinetic powers that gradually increase in destructive strength. Hollywood may be busily converting the classic Akira for western audiences, but it looks as though director Josh Trank and writer Max Landis may have beaten them to it; as the youths use their new-found abilities to pull off various pranks, one of their group begins to display a murderous appetite for destruction, a bit like Tetsuo in Katsuhiro Otomo's seminal anime.

The trailer that arrived last month placed Chronicle high up on our must-watch list, and while we’re growing a little weary of the found footage genre, the grungy, quasi-realism of Trank’s movie could make for a great alternative to next year’s glossier comicbook movies. There are some fantastic images and special effects in here, too, including a fantastic bit where half a dozen police cars are swept away by a gigantic telekinetic wave, and an amusing moment where a child is menaced by a floating teddy bear.

After that trailer, Chronicle went from being a film we’d barely heard of to one we’re eagerly anticipating.

John Carter Released: 9 March

We’ve already written lots and lots about John Carter in previous posts, but that’s because we’ve every faith that director Andrew Stanton can pull this one off. Edgar Rice Burroughs’ original John Carter books inspired an entire generation of writers and filmmakers, and movies such as Star Wars and Avatar can all be traced back to his much-loved pulp adventures.

Stanton has a rich well-spring of inspiration to draw on, then, in this tall tale about Carter, an American Civil War veteran who ends up fighting exotic creatures and falling love with a princess on Mars. The special effects look stunning, and the director’s experience in computer animation really shows here, with Willem Defoe unrecognisable under a layer of pixels as Carter’s 12-foot-tall alien ally, Tars Tarkas.

A rip-roaring pulp yarn, John Carter doesn’t boast the fascinating concepts of some of the other sci-fi movies on this list, but its spectacle alone makes this one of our most anticipated movies of 2012.

Lockout Released: 13 April

Luc Besson co-wrote and produced this action thriller, which looks rather like Escape From New York relocated to an orbiting space station. Guy Pearce is the laconic, cigarette-smoking hero, who gets a shot at freedom when he’s tasked with rescuing the president’s daughter, played by Maggie Grace.

Everything points to a fun, breezy and pleasingly retro adventure – the international trailer released last week even features lots of blazing laser cannons (it feels like ages since we’ve seen one of those in a genre film), and Pearce looks to be on form as a wise-cracking, unreconstructed hero.

It’s also thought that Lockout will get an R rating in the US, so it’s likely to be one of the more violent, sweary movies on this list. Prometheus Released: 1 June

Ridley Scott makes what we hope will be a triumphant return to the sci-fi genre with Prometheus. Scott and his fellow filmmakers may have been reluctant to describe this as a prequel to Alien, but whatever its relationship to that 1979 classic proves to be, we’re clamouring to see it. Filling in the history of the Space Jockeys, the creators of the strange, horseshoe-shaped ship carrying the xenomorph eggs in Alien, Prometheus stars Noomi Rapace, Michael Fassbender, Idris Elba and Charlize Theron as a group of explorers who encounter something nightmarish on the edge of space.

One of the most secretive film productions we’ve seen in years, the few bits of information Fox has divulged have been quite encouraging. Scott’s built some huge and spectacular-looking sets for Prometheus, which gives us hope that the film doesn’t suffer from the same depressing over-use of green screens and digital sets that made the Star Wars prequels look so cold and unengaging.

If we could pick fault with anything, though, the promo pictures released a couple of weeks ago showed Rapace and her fellow actors looking extremely polished and air-brushed, though, with Fassbender displaying the sort of slick, well-oiled side-parting you’d expect to see on a 30s matinee idol - we were rather hoping that Prometheus would have the same battered, lived-in look as Alien. Maybe the characters’ extra-terrestrial encounters will leave them looking rather less pristine.

Total Recall Released: 22 August

Like last year’s The Thing prequel, Total Recall’s one of those movies that some might argue shouldn’t be made. Paul Verhoeven’s 1990 original is a fondly-remembered action staple, even if it is rather less mordantly satirical than his other sci-fi masterpieces, RoboCop and Starship Troopers.

It’s evident, though, that director Len Wiseman’s trying to do something different with his version of Total Recall. For one thing, Doug Quaid (played by Colin Farrell) won’t be getting his ass to Mars this time, with his identity crisis adventures taking place in future city on Earth. What we appear to be looking at, then, is a sort of futuristic Bourne Identity, with Farrell running around trying to discover the facts behind his erased past.

Various images, both official and otherwise, have shown off some rather cool-looking floating cars and stylish sets, and from a visual standpoint, Total Recall 2012 looks more like Minority Report than Verhoeven’s bloodthirsty blockbuster. If you’re still not convinced, there’s still the presence of the great Bryan Cranston to consider; he’s stepping into Ronny Cox’s old shoes as sneering corporate bad guy, Vilos Cohaagen. Even if this Total Recall can’t match the brilliance of the 90s Schwarzenegger vehicle, at least we know it’ll have a highly watchable villain.

Looper Released: 28 September

There are many reasons to look forward to this time-travel sci-fi thriller. First, it’s written and directed by Rian Johnson (Brick, The Brothers Bloom). Second, its cast is excellent, and includes Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Bruce Willis, who play the same character at two different points in time.

And then there’s the premise itself, which sounds complicated yet fascinating - so complicated, in fact, that we’ll let the filmmakers’ synopsis do the explaining: "The story takes place in a world where a crime syndicate can send their enemies back in time and a group of killers known as 'loopers' eliminate those enemies, so there's no evidence of the murder in the crime syndicate's present time."

Johnson apparently worked with Shane Carruth on the script, which might explain why it sounds so intricate - Carruth was responsible for the brain-melting yet fantastic Primer, after all. Looper sounds like a twist on such films as Twelve Monkeys (or going further back, the film that inspired Gilliam, 1962’s La Jetée), and if it’s anywhere near as good as those, then we’ll be very happy indeed.

Gravity Released: 19 October

Sci-fi cinema seems to be producing fewer and fewer space-based movies these days - maybe it’s the retirement of the NASA space shuttle that’s to blame. At any rate, the space station setting of Gravity is one of the reasons we’re so excited about it - the presence of Alfonso Cuarón at the helm is another. After the stunning Children Of Men, we’re anxious to see what he does next, and by all accounts (not least the director’s chum, Guillermo del Toro), Gravity is just as grand and ambitious as that dystopian classic.

George Clooney and Sandra Bullock star as a pair of astronauts who find themselves trapped on a crippled space station after it’s struck by debris. With Cuarón’s talent for constructing mind-blowing set-pieces and unforgettable images, this slight race-against-time thriller template could provide the springboard for one of the best-looking movies of 2012.

Cloud Atlas Released: 26 October

It’s been a while since the Wachowski brothers had a box-office hit, but maybe this unusual sci-fi epic will change their fortunes. Based on David Mitchell’s novel of the same name, it’s a sprawling tale with six interweaving story lines set across different ages in history. The cast is quite remarkable: Tom Hanks, Hugo Weaving, Hugh Grant, Halle Berry, Susan Sarandon and Jim Broadbent are among the stars, who play multiple characters in each plot strand. Halle Berry, for example, plays a 70s journalist, a Jewish woman living in the 1930s, and a member of an advanced race from the 6th century.

The reaction to a six minute preview of Cloud Atlas screened in LA earlier this year was highly positive, and its distributor has described it as “phantasmagorical” and “unlike anything I’ve seen in 40 years in this business”. We do wonder about its chances at the box-office, though, particularly when one considers the unfortunate history behind Darren Aronofsky’s The Fountain, a similarly sprawling sci-fi parable that, after a troubled production, eventually made a disappointing $16 million return on its $35 million budget.

It’s also been said that some actors will not only play multiple characters in Cloud Atlas, but also characters of different races and genders - we’re not sure how well that will come across in the finished film. Tom Hanks dressed as a woman? Susan Sarandon with a beard? It could be the weirdest sci-fi flick since Zardoz.

With a budget of $100 million drawn together from international investors (Hollywood financiers thought the project too risky), Cloud Atlas sounds big, bold and ambitious. It could be a triumph or a catastrophe. However it turns out, Cloud Atlas certainly sounds intriguing.

Iron Sky Released: TBA

Nazis in space, flying saucers, and Udo Kier. Iron Sky sounds like great fun, and its makers should be applauded for embarking on such a grand idea on an indie budget. Made for just £6.5 million, Iron Sky bring us lunar bases on the dark side of the moon and huge invading space armadas.

Iron Sky also represents a growing trend in independent filmmaking: crowdfunding. As well as traditional investors, the money for the film’s been raised via merchandise sales and pre-orders. It’s one example of a project that’s used social media to drum up interest and support - its trailer’s been a huge hit on YouTube, and Iron Sky’s due out in Japan, France and much of Europe in 2012, with UK and US release date still to be confirmed. Its Finnish premiere, meanwhile, is on the 4th of April.

The more support Iron Sky gets, the more quickly we’ll get to see it - there’s every reason, then, to visit the film’s website and find out how you can get involved.

The Cosmonaut Released: TBA

Like Iron Sky, The Cosmonaut is an indie sci-fi funded by donations and advertising as well as traditional investments. Made for an absolutely tiny £735,000 (or thereabouts), the film is from Spanish director Nicolás Alcalá, and covers the apparent disappearance of a Soviet cosmonaut during a trip to the moon.

Shortly after the explorer’s empty ship is found seven months later, a childhood friend begins to receive strange radio signals, apparently from the cosmonaut, saying that he’s returned to Earth, and found it to be completely deserted. It’s a great-sounding idea, and sounds very much Andrei Tarkovsky’s Solaris, a film Alcalá cites as an influence.

Unlike the other films on this list, The Cosmonaut won’t be released theatrically, but made available on the Internet. But while it’s the smallest movie in this run-down, it’s nevertheless among our most anticipated, based on its premise alone. We just hope both The Cosmonaut and Iron Sky get the attention they deserve, and will that they’ll inspire other filmmakers to bring their own unique science fiction ideas to the screen.

Elijah Wood in Remake of 'Maniace'

It feels like Maniac has been rolling around the Hollywood remake mill for years now, but it finally has its maniac: Elijah Wood. Best known as the furry-footed Frodo in the Lord of the Rings movies, Maniac casts Wood as a serial killer with mommy issues, in a role originally held by Joe Spinell. Joining him in the cast will be Nora Arnezeder (Safe House) as Anna, the role originally played by Caroline Munro. Check out more after the jump.

Directed by Franck Khalfoun (P2), Maniac is a remake of William Lustig's exploitation classic from 1980. The film was reviled by critics like Gene Siskel, and made it onto Britain's "Video Nasties" list. Now it is being remade with a popular actor best known for family-friendly roles. Go figure.

Maniac is scheduled to start filming by the end of the year. Alexandre Aja (The Hills Have Eyes) is producing.

Behind the Scenes of 'Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance'

Expectations aren't exactly huge right now for Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance, given the lukewarm reception for the first film starring Marvel's motorcyclist from Hell, and the last, relatively lackluster, trailer for the sequel. (Oh if only the whole movie could be about Nicolas Cage pissing fire...) But a new production video from directors Mark Neveldine and Brian Taylor suggest that at least the eventual DVD documentary on the making of Ghost Rider 2 will be entertaining. Check it out after the jump.

The above video is exclusive to FirstLookOnline. Here's the official Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance synopsis...

"Nicolas Cage returns as Johnny Blaze in Columbia Pictures' and Hyde Park Entertainment's Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance. In the successor to the worldwide hit Ghost Rider, Johnny - still struggling with his curse as the devil's bounty hunter - is hiding out in a remote part of Eastern Europe when he is recruited by a secret sect of the church to save a young boy (Fergus Riordan) from the devil (Ciaran Hinds). At first, Johnny is reluctant to embrace the power of the Ghost Rider, but it is the only way to protect the boy - and possibly rid himself of his curse forever. Directed by Mark Neveldine and Brian Taylor. Screenplay by Scott M. Gimple & Seth Hoffman and David S. Goyer. Story by David S. Goyer. Based on the Marvel Comic. Produced by Steven Paul, Ashok Amritraj, Michael De Luca, Avi Arad, and Ari Arad."

News provided by Fearnet.com

Ghostly Adaptations: 8 Ghost Movies Adapted from Books

by Scott Neumyer, Tue., Jan. 24, 2012 11:00 AM PST

ghostly adaptations

Someone must have designated February 3, 2012 as Ghosts in the Theater Day as it marks the theatrical release of Ti West's spooky The Innkeepers as well as the Hammer Film Productions release of the Daniel Radcliffe-starring The Woman in Black. It's the latter film, however, that got us thinking about some of the very best ghost movies adapted from books. Based on the Susan Hill novel of the same name, The Woman in Black has been adapted before, but this latest version might just prove to be the best version yet. If you're gearing up to find out on February 3, why not get yourself in the right mood by checking out a few of the ghostly adaptations on our list below. This isn't a complete list, by any means, but it's a great starting point for anyone interested in the ghost movie subgenre. Happy Hauntings!

The Haunting

Robert Wise's 1963 classic The Haunting is, arguably, the very best ghost movie ever adapted from a novel. Based on Shirley Jackson's The Haunting of Hill House, the film stars Julie Harris, Claire Bloom, Richard Johnson, and Russ Tamblyn and is a study in the subtle, slow-burn of a psychological horror film. Remade in 1999 by Jan de Bont and starring Liam Neeson and Catherine Zeta-Jones, the stories are essentially the same, but don't let that fool you into thinking the remake is even remotely as solid as Wise's original. Where de Bont's version utilized shoddy CGI effects, a sub-par screenplay, and overused horror clichés, the 1963 version of The Haunting is thrilling and scary based on the fact that you actually care about its characters and the house's chills are understated and creepy. It's a sinister little flick that's become the Granddaddy of ghostly adaptations.

ghostly adaptations

Burnt Offerings

Based on the novel of the same name by Robert Marasco, 1976's Burnt Offerings is an oft-underrated little creepfest about a haunted house that gets rejuvenated with every injury or death that takes place inside of it. It was the first of many classic films to be filmed in the famed Dunsmuir House (others include Phantasm and A View to a Kill), and really takes advantage of the location by making the house itself the real star of the film. Directed by Dan Curtis (Dark Shadows and Trilogy of Terror), Burnt Offerings boasts an all-star cast that includes Burgess Meredith, Karen Black, Oliver Reed, Lee Montgomery, and Bette Davis. It's another slow burn of a horror film, but one that's well worth the wait.

ghostly adaptations

The Amityville Horror

The Amityville Horror was a huge box office success back in 1979, but critics panned the film and have long since questioned the legitimacy of the "true" story that the novel of the same name by Jay Anson and the film are both based on. Whether the story of the Lutz family is true or not, however, barely matters. The film gets a bad rap for being hokey and over the top. While there are certainly moments of bombast throughout – mostly from James Brolin and Margot Kidder's performances – the film actually works pretty well overall. It's creepy, suspenseful, and has a sense of paranormal anxiety that actually does a great job of chilling the bones. It's the kind of film that has just enough things wrong with it that a remake could really do it some justice. Unfortunately, the 2005 remake directed by Andrew Douglas and starring Ryan Reynolds and Melissa George fails to improve upon any of the original's missteps. While it's a serviceable film, the 2005 version deals in overcomplicated backstory and hinges on too many ghost clichés. The film's, nonetheless, have made tons of money, spawned a bunch of sequels, and remain some of the most financially successful ghostly adaptations of all time.

ghostly adaptations

Ghost Story

Based on the novel of the same name by Peter Straub, 1981's Ghost Story is the last film to feature Melvyn Douglas, Douglas Fairbanks, Jr., and the legendary Fred Astaire. The film takes place in a small New England town and tells a pretty familiar, simple tale about four old men who form a club to tell each other spooky ghost stories. You've seen this film before, but Ghost Story tells it with such style and atmosphere that you're nearly choking on the thick fog of a dark, scary night. The cast is spectacular and Irvin's direction is solid in what has become a staple of the ghost movie subgenre.

ghostly adaptations

The Shining

What can I possibly say about Stanley Kubrick's 1980 masterpiece of horror and isolation? Not much, honestly. If you're reading FEARnet.com, the chances that you haven't seen The Shining are slim and none. Adapted by Kubrick and Diane Johnson and based on the novel by Stephen King, The Shining is an absolute classic not only of the horror genre but all of cinema. Starring Jack Nicholson in a career-making performance as writer Jack Torrance who takes a job as the off-season caretaker of the enormous, isolated, and completely spooky Overlook Hotel, the film features some of the most famous scenes in horror history. The twins. Redrum. The elevator scene. "Here's Johnny!" The list goes on and on. If you haven't seen The Shining yet… seriously… what are you waiting for? Go! Go!

ghostly adaptations

The Others

Alejandro Amenábar's The Others may be loosely inspired by The Turn of the Screw by Henry James, but it sure has a personality all its own. Starring Nicole Kidman and Christopher Eccleston, the film is extremely slow-paced, but it's a worthwhile investment of time. A solid story that Amenábar gives plenty of time and space to unravel naturally (even if the "twist" turns out to be a bit heavy-handed), The Others is even more of an achievement in its spooky, dreamlike atmosphere. The cast is pitch-perfect and believable as "normal" people in this very "abnormal" situation. It may not be a great ghost movie, but it has aged pretty well since its release in 2001.

ghostly adaptations

The Legend of Hell House

Richard Matheson adapted his own novel Hell House for the 1973 film The Legend of Hell House. Directed by John Hough – who would go on to direct three of the creepiest Disney films of all time in Escape to Witch Mountain, Return from Witch Mountain, and The Watcher in the Woods – the film stars Roddy McDowall, Pamela Franklin, Clive Revill, and Gayle Hunnicutt. The Legend of Hell House is a pretty fantastic haunted house flick that takes place at the Belasco House (the "Mount Everest of haunted houses") where the original owner, millionaire (and murderer) Emeric Belasco, supposedly murdered numerous people who now haunt the estate. The film is filled with possessions, erotic visions, séances, and one super creepy chapel. The Legend of Hell House easily stands as a staple of the subgenre.

ghostly adaptations

The Woman in Black

If you think the upcoming Hammer Film Productions version of The Woman in Black is the first film to be adapted from the Susan Hill novel of the same name, you'd be wrong. The Woman in Black actually became a stage play first in 1987, before being adapted Nigel Kneale as a television drama in 1989 for the ITV Network. Directed by Herbert Wise, the highly underrated ghost story was a huge success and was even nominated for four BAFTA awards. It's full of spooky, fog-filled marshlands and is a genuinely haunting film. Which brings us to the upcoming 2012 version written by Jane Goldman, directed by James Watkins, and starring Janet McTeer, Ciaran Hinds, and Harry Potter himself Daniel Radcliffe. While we have yet to see how well the Hammer version holds up, advance buzz is good and it'll certainly be fun to see Radcliffe break out of his usual mold with something truly scary.