science fiction

Aug. 07, 2013 | 12:21 p.m.

‘Elysium': Sharlto Copley on ‘creative chemistry’ with Neill Blomkamp

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.

‘Ender’s Game’ trailer delivers explosive imagery, Harrison Ford

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.

‘Elysium’ director Neill Blomkamp on political sci-fi: Society gets to me

Neill Blomkamp is photographed in Santa Monica on July 15, 2013. (Gary Friedman / Los Angeles Times)
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': 33 photos from Neill Blomkamp’s Matt Damon, Jodie Foster film

Matt Damon, left, Alice Braga and Emma Tremblay in a scene from "Elysium." (Columbia TriStar Pictures)
“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.

Beyond ‘Game of Thrones': Exploring diversity in speculative fiction

Nalo Hopkinson, novelist and a professor at UC Riverside. (Irfan Khan / Los Angeles Times)
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.

‘Ender’s Game’ trailer teases outer space spectacle, Mazer Rackham

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. […]
April 20, 2013 | 4:59 p.m.

‘Oblivion': Tom Cruise, Joseph Kosinski on partnership, Morgan Freeman

Tom Cruise is expected to win the weekend at the box office with his new sci-fi outing “Oblivion,” which has garnered some notably warm reviews. The Times’ Kenneth Turan, for example, described the movie as a “throwback to the days when on-screen science fiction was about speculative ideas rather than selling toys to tots.” After an early IMAX screening of the Universal film in New York this week, Cruise and “Oblivion” director Joseph Kosinski (“Tron: Legacy”) talked about their on-set collaboration as one of the secrets to the movie’s creative success. “I don’t know how you wouldn’t collaborate with your actors,” Kosinski told Hero Complex contributor Rebecca Keegan during an interactive Q&A in which people nationwide were invited to participate via Twitter. “They are telling your story for you. It’s so important that the director and the actors are all […]
April 18, 2013 | 5:00 a.m.

‘Oblivion': Tom Cruise on Iceland filming, character building

In the new film “Oblivion,” Tom Cruise stars as Jack Harper, a former astronaut tasked with remaining behind on a future Earth. He collects small items — a Yankee ball cap, Led Zeppelin albums, chewing gum — that offer some telling insights. “This is a guy who’s in love with a time that exists before he was born,” said director Joseph Kosinski. “He’s on the surface and finding these trinkets. There’s certain things he finds that have a special connection but he doesn’t know why he’s attached to them. That’s part of the fun of this story.” Hero Complex hosted an early screening of the Universal film Monday night in New York and afterward, in a special interactive Q&A simulcast to nine IMAX theaters across the country, the star and the director talked about the majesty of the “stunning” Icelandic […]
April 16, 2013 | 10:13 a.m.

‘Oblivion': Tom Cruise talks return to big-screen spectacle sci-fi

Tom Cruise was on hand Monday night in New York for an early screening of his new Universal film “Oblivion,” hosted by Hero Complex, and afterward, in a special interactive Q&A simulcast to nine IMAX theaters across the country, the star talked at length about his interest in making the film, citing in particular filmmaker Joseph Kosinksi, calling the writer-director seated beside him “a world creator” and a “true visionary.” Based on a 2010 graphic novel Kosinski penned with comic book writer Arvid Nelson, “Oblivion,” which opens Friday, takes place on a future Earth left decimated by an alien invasion. Former Marine Jack Harper (Cruise) is one of a few people left on the planet to mop up after the war. The movie, written by Karl Gajdusek and Michael deBruyn, also stars Morgan Freeman as a 102-year-old insurgency leader, Melissa […]
April 15, 2013 | 7:00 a.m.

Video: ‘Oblivion’ Q&A with Tom Cruise and Joseph Kosinski

Get those questions ready — tonight the Hero Complex screening series will offer fans an early look at the new film “Oblivion” followed by a unique opportunity to pose queries directly to star Tom Cruise and director Joseph Kosinski (“Tron: Legacy”). Following screenings of “Oblivion” in 10 cities across the country, Cruise and Kosinski will join Hero Complex contributor Rebecca Keegan at 7 p.m. Pacific time on Monday at New York City’s AMC Loews 34th Street to discuss the movie and respond to fan questions. The film opens in theaters Friday. The post-screening interview will be simulcast via satellite to IMAX theaters in Dallas, Denver, Detroit, Los Angeles, Miami, Philadelphia, Phoenix, San Diego and Virginia Beach, Va. Audiences in all 10 cities as well as online viewers can submit potential questions real time via Twitter by tweeting queries for Cruise […]
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