Jan. 16, 2014 | 11:02 a.m.
Thursday evening sees the kickoff to the 2014 edition of the Sundance Film Festival, the annual indie confab that is the site of plenty of industry dealmaking and celeb-spotting as half of Hollywood seems to descend on Park City, Utah, for 10 days of hard-core movie-watching and celebrating. The 2014 lineup features 117 feature-length films culled from more than 4,000 submissions, and a handful of those have a decidedly Hero Complex bent. With that in mind, here are 10 films to look out for. Some might be hard to find — Sundance movies don’t always land national theatrical distribution — but with VOD and online viewing options multiplying at a rapid clip, chances are good you’ll have the opportunity to see these titles in some fashion in the months ahead. The Babadook: In Australian writer-director Jennifer Kent’s supernatural thriller, Essie […]
Jan. 16, 2014 | 9:00 a.m.
In the depths of “Low,” Rick Remender is finding reason to be optimistic. His new sci-fi series with artist Greg Tocchini, announced last week at Image Expo in San Francisco, takes readers into a far future where the expanding sun’s radiation has sent humans to the bottom of the ocean, where they’ve long been waiting for the return of probes sent to search for other habitable worlds. But the series’ “beating heart,” he says, is the hopeful Stel, who sets out after a probe that has returned. “Low” is one of three new series the writer of the cult favorite sci-fi series “Fear Agent” has running or ready to blast off at Image Comics: “Black Science,” with artists Matteo Scalera and Dean White, is two issues in and follows Grant McKay and his Anarchist League of Scientists (and his children) […]
Nov. 07, 2013 | 1:15 p.m.
The newest trailer for next year’s “RoboCop” remake has debuted, and the clip offers a much more detailed glimpse at the world — and the politics — of Brazilian director José Padilha’s reworking of Paul Verhoeven’s 1987 satiric sci-fi film. Swedish actor Joel Kinnaman (“The Killing”) stars as police officer Alex Murphy, who is reborn as a coolly effective law enforcement machine in the wake of a car bombing, leaving him in a sort of existential limbo — he’s neither wholly man nor machine. Padilha made a name for himself on the festival circuit for his documentary filmmaking before writing and directing “Elite Squad” and its sequel “Elite Squad: The Enemy Within” — crime thrillers that became critical darlings. And he’s been explicit about his intentions to use “RoboCop” as a lens through which to examine the morality of drone […]
Oct. 06, 2013 | 10:00 a.m.
Imagine gravity failing at an L.A. high school, or a sort of soap-bubble mini-universe where falling things smush instead of splat appearing over the city. Now imagine such events are no surprises, but everyday events – like traffic accidents – and there’s an agency a 911 call away whose job it is to fix things. Welcome to co-creators Simon Oliver and Robbi Rodriguez’s ongoing Vertigo series “FBP: Federal Bureau of Physics,” which follows young Agent Adam Hardy, who has found himself dealing with that gravity deficiency and then that “bubbleverse” in the first three issues. Adam joined the FBP after growing up without his father, who never returned from chasing quantum tornadoes. Lately, he’s seen his understanding of things thrown a few more curves, not only with the strange physics of the little city in the sky but with his […]
Aug. 07, 2013 | 12:21 p.m.
Tim Burton has Johnny Depp. Martin Scorsese has Leonardo DiCaprio. And Neill Blomkamp has Sharlto Copley. The “District 9” writer-director and his leading man might not be as well known as others in Hollywood, but Blomkamp and Copley are emerging as one of science fiction’s most loyal and potent actor-director partnerships. Copley played a mild-mannered bureaucrat charged with relocating some aliens in Blomkamp’s Oscar-nominated 2009 sleeper hit, and now the “District 9” duo is working together again on two more movies, a sci-fi comedy called “Chappie” and Friday’s future-set drama “Elysium.” “There’s an intangible creative chemistry when I work with Neill,” Copley said of the friend he met when he was 22 and Blomkamp was 16. “We have common tastes and styles of what we like in film and characters.” In Blomkamp’s latest, Earth is crime-ridden and overpopulated, and the […]
Aug. 06, 2013 | 10:36 a.m.
The final trailer for “Ender’s Game” has debuted, arriving with plenty of dramatic visuals, explosive space spectacle and a great deal of Harrison Ford. Set for release Nov. 1, the sci-fi film, directed by Gavin Hood (“X-Men Origins: Wolverine”), adapts Orson Scott Card’s 1985 novel and takes place in a future in which an alien race known as the Formics has attacked Earth. Asa Butterfield plays Andrew “Ender” Wiggin, a bright boy recruited to help humanity face future threats — his abilities are honed through special tactical training he receives at Battle School. The new clip opens with Ford, who plays the film’s Colonel Hyrum Graff, explaining over scenes of striking landscapes, “When the aliens first invaded, they nearly destroyed us. They will be back.” Ford’s voice serves as the through-line for the trailer, and the actor also can be seen […]
Aug. 03, 2013 | 10:00 a.m.
In the future-set utopia that Neill Blomkamp dreamed up for “Elysium,” the lawns are manicured and lush, the women are slim and beautiful, and everyone is very, very rich. If that sounds a lot like certain neighborhoods in Los Angeles, it’s no accident — the South Africa-born writer-director found inspiration for his fictional enclave in Bel-Air and Beverly Hills as well as wealthy sections of his home city, Johannesburg. “A lot of parts of L.A. are interchangeable with suburbs in Joburg,” Blomkamp said. “Very big, ostentatious houses with palm trees and lawns. Lawns are very important. Never underestimate lawns.” Blomkamp’s action movie, which opens Aug. 9, is about haves and have-nots in 2154, with the haves living on Elysium, a luxury habitat that orbits a ruined, overpopulated planet. Down on Earth, factory worker Max (a shaven, tattooed Matt Damon) contracts […]
Aug. 03, 2013 | 6:00 a.m.
“Elysium,” Neill’s Bloomkamp’s new politically minded sci-fi thriller, opens Friday, marking the second film from the talented South African writer-director who won an ardent following with his groundbreaking, Oscar-nominated debut, “District 9.” The story, set in the year 2154, sees Earth ravaged by drought and poverty; the wealthy have abandoned the planet for a blissful life on a beautiful space station called Elysium, a paradise where any illness can be cured and interlopers are kept out at extreme cost. After a workplace accident leaves him facing death, Matt Damon’s troubled, tattooed Max Da Costa finds himself in desperate need to reach Elysium and willing to embark on a wild scheme in order to save his own life. But his plans bring him into direct conflict with Jodie Foster’s officious Secretary Delacourt and a black-ops thug known as Kruger, played by […]
June 09, 2013 | 8:08 a.m.
Last August, Weird Tales magazine, long a fixture on the speculative fiction landscape, got hit with a heavy dose of online fury. The publication had made plans to publish an excerpt from an ecologically themed dystopian novel in which whites are the oppressed minority and their oppressors are referred to as “coals.” Those who attacked the work were upset by a number of elements seen as racially problematic, up to and including the title, “Saving the Pearls,’’ “pearls” being the book’s term for white people and a word read as charged with an altogether different tenor than the notion of “coals.” In response to the outcry, the magazine pulled the excerpt. Online protests and allegations of racial weirdness in science fiction and fantasy are hardly new, but they began to seriously come to a head with the still contentious Internet […]
May 07, 2013 | 2:33 p.m.
The new trailer for “Ender’s Game” received a prominent rollout online Tuesday afternoon, with director Gavin Hood (“X-Men Origins: Wolverine”), producer Robert Orci and star Asa Butterfield participating in a Google+ hangout that coincided with the premiere of the promotional spot for the sci-fi adventure adapted from the novel by Orson Scott Card. Set in a near future in which an alien race known as the Formics have attacked Earth, the movie stars Butterfield as Andrew “Ender” Wiggin, a bright boy who’s recruited to help humanity face future threats. Guided in his growth by Colonel Hyrum Graff (Harrison Ford), Ender advances from Battle School to Command School and soon finds himself under the tutelage of the legendary Mazer Rackham (Ben Kingsley, the Oscar-winning actor who’s getting a lot of screen time in fantastic films these days). “They know our strategies. […]