3 January 2013

UFO movies galore: 2013 & 2014 preview

By Robbie Graham Silver Screen Saucers 

 
2012 saw only a handful of UFO/alien-visitation-themed movies grace the big screen – though perhaps ‘grace’ is the wrong word to use in the same sentence as Peter Berg’s lunkheaded Battleship. Men in Black 3 was inoffensive but forgettable, The Watch was offensive and forgettable, while the UFOlogically flavored space operas John Carter and Prometheus – both deeply flawed but with much about them to admire – divided critics as well as audiences.

But the next two years are set to be bumper ones for UFOs at the box-office, with at least 26 headed our way in 2013 and 2014. Here’s your Silver Screen Saucers preview...

Absolutely Anything

The surviving members of the Monty Python team will reunite for the first time in 15 years to bring us a sci-fi comedy combining CG and live action. The film – titled Absolutely Anything – will also feature dogs, aliens and Robin Williams.

According to Variety, the film is about:

“A group of aliens [voiced by Terry Gilliam, John Cleese and Michael Palin] who endow an earthling [played by Robin Williams] with the power to do "absolutely anything" to see what a mess he'll make of things—which is precisely what happens. There's also a talking dog named Dennis who seems to understand more about the mayhem that ensues than anyone else does."

Absolutely Anything is to be directed by The Life of Brian's Terry Jones from a script he's been developing for 20 years. Eric Idle is not yet on board, but the other Pythons are currently trying to sway him.

Due for release sometime in 2014.

All You Need Is Kill

A big screen adaptation of Hiroshi Sakurazaka’s graphic novel about a soldier (Tom Crusie) in a future war against extraterrestrials known as ‘Mimics’ who finds himself stuck in a Groundhog Day-style time loop and is forced to relive his last day over and over again after being killed. With each new resurrection the soldier’s skill improves, giving him the chance to change not only his own fate, but that of humanity.

All You Need Is Kill is being directed by Doug Liman for Warner Bros.

Release date: 7 March, 2014.

Area 51

Regular visitors to Silver Screen Saucers will know that Oren Peli’s Area 51 has gone through a bumpy – or, at least, staggered – production process. In June of 2011, the film’s producer, Jason Blum, told Shock Till You Drop: "I anticipate the movie will be mostly done in three or four months." Here we are in 2013 and still no sign of it.

Amidst rumours of re-shoots, Blum told STYD that the film was “a work in progress.” However, with so many other alien-base-themed movies now in the works, Peli’s long—gestating Area 51 may be destined never to reveal its secrets to cinemagoers at all.

The film itself, if and when it reaches the screen, follows a trio of kids who trespass on the eponymous government base and encounter an alien menace that has been set loose.

Status: completion and release date unknown (maybe 2013, probably 2014). Paramount is distributing. Maybe.

Area 52

Not content to have two ‘secret alien base’ movies currently in production with Area 51 and Umbra (see below), Hollywood is also planning a third.

Summit Entertainment is developing a live action adaptation of the four-issue comic book series Area 52, which was published in 2001. Lorenzo di Bonaventura and Mark Vahradian will produce the movie.

Rookie writer Johnny Rosenthal has been hired to draft a script which tells the story of a secret storage facility in Antarctica (as opposed to Nevada, where the real Area 52 is located) that houses the alien technology no longer being studied at Area 51. The original story followed an army nurse who is forced to save the day after a mercenary attack unleashes an alien beast.

Release date: sometime in 2014. 


Asteroids

Atari's classic video game, Asteroids, is to be adapted for Hollywood, possibly with master of disaster Roland Emmerich at the helm. The script comes from Matt Lopez, best known for co-writing Disney’s Race to Witch Mountain (2009).

Vulture describes the Asteroids film as “an ersatz sequel to world-ending Emmerich films like Independence Day and 2012, but one in which the aliens have won. The remnants of human civilization are now living on far-flung colonies within an asteroid belt alongside aliens. The survivors were led to believe that this alien civilization was benevolent, rescuing them from doom, but ultimately discover that the aliens have engineered Earth’s destruction, and soon will do the same for the rest of humankind.”

Expect Asteroids to hit in 2014. 

Beyond Apollo

Barry Malzberg's award-winning sci-fi thriller novel Beyond Apollo is being adapted for the big screen by writer/director Michael Grodner and executive producer Matt Reeves (Cloverfield, Let Me In).

Here’s the synopsis as presented on the movie’s official website:

“The first two-man mission to Venus is aborted in mid-flight and abruptly returns back to Earth. When rescue crews go to retrieve the space capsule, they make a startling discovery: The Captain is missing – there is no sign of his body whatsoever – and strangely enough, the lone surviving astronaut has no clue about what took place.

Beyond Apollo tells the riveting story of when that astronaut, Harry Evans, returns to earth and must answer to the authorities about what really happened on board the doomed flight to Venus. His mind-bending struggle to figure that out is a harrowing journey through the possibilities: Was the Captain murdered? Did he commit suicide? Or were alien beings responsible for his demise? The answer, as Evans will eventually discover, is far more terrifying than anything he could possibly imagine.

Based on the award winning book by Barry N. Malzberg, Beyond Apollo captures the eerie isolation of delving into the unknown, begs us to ask the unanswerable, and marks the separation between the real, unreal and surreal.”

The cast list for Beyond Apollo is still developing, but so far includes Scott Speedman (Underworld), Bill Pullman (Independence Day) and Ali Larter (Heroes). The movie has been in development for several years but has lacked sufficient funding. It now has the backing of sales company Stealth Media Group.

Expect a 2014 release.

Charles Fort

An early pioneer in the research of anomalous phenomena – from ghosts to UFOs and everything in between – Charles Fort is to get his very own eponymously titled Hollywood movie.

Charles Fort is to be produced by Robert Zemeckis for Universal Pictures and adapted from the 2002 Dark Horse Comics series Fort: Prophet of the Unexplained, which portrayed Fort as an adventurous investigator pursuing aliens and murderers in turn-of-the-19th-century New York City.

According to The Hollywood Reporter:

"Fort, which is being described by some who know the material as a "period Ghostbusters," is the first project set up under Zemeckis and his Imagemovers' newly minted first-look deal with the studio [Universal]. 

Charles Fort was an early-twentieth-century American researcher and writer whose focus was "anomalous phenomena" and the unexplained. Books Fort wrote such as The Book of the Damned (1919) and New Lands (1923) were some of the first to explore everything from levitation and teleportation to alien abduction and other paranormal pursuits. Fort was essentially a curious skeptic who enjoyed collecting data to support explanations for things that he felt were no less possible than the scientifically accepted ones.

In addition to Zemeckis, Dark Horse's Mike Richardson is producing the film, as are Imagemovers partners Jack Rapke and Steve Starkey."

Will Charles Fort be embraced by Forteans and UFOlogists? Or will it be seen as an unforgivably sensationalised distortion of the life and achievements of a true trailblazer in the world of the weird? We'll find out for sure when the movie hits cinemas sometime in 2014.

Dark Skies 

It’s alien-flavored domestic distress in the title-stealing abduction horror Dark Skies, the official blurb for which reads:

“As the Barret family's peaceful suburban life is rocked by an escalating series of disturbing events, they come to learn that a terrifying and deadly force is after them.” 
 
 
 

Release date: 22 February, 2013.

The Day of the Triffids

Ghost House Pictures announced in February 2012 that John Wyndam’s classic sci-fi horror novel The Day of the Triffids is headed for the big screen – again.

Wyndam’s 1951 angry vegetable novel was previously adapted for cinema in 1962 when a British production of the title placed the blame for Earth’s Triffid invasion not with the Red Menace (as in the paranoid source material), but with alien spores that arrived in a meteor shower. It seems highly likely that the new Triffids movie will also opt for an otherworldly explanation for people’s gardens gaining sentience.

The movie will be produced by Sam Raimi's Ghost House Pictures, The Mark Gordon Company, and Preger Entertainment, LLC. The script is being penned by Neil Cross – creator and writer of the acclaimed BBC TV show, Luther.

There is no word yet on a likely release date for the movie, but it seems doubtful the Triffids will arrive any time before early 2014.

Dominion: Dinosaurs Versus Aliens

 
Men in Black director Barry Sonnenfeld has teamed-up with comic book writer Grant Morrison to develop a graphic novel and movie sharing the same name: Dominion: Dinosaurs Versus Aliens, which will chronicle a secret, prehistoric battle for the Earth.

Speaking to Wired, Morrison dismissed the notion that his comic/movie project is lacking in the brain cell department, describing it as “a philosophical treatise on manifest destiny, genocide and indigenous revolt.” Morrison said that “instead of another popcorny blockbuster thrown onto Hollywood's disposable entertainment pile,” Dinos Vs. Aliens is “a pointed critique of overreaching civilization at the edge of oblivion.”

Of the dinosaurs themselves, Morrison told Wired:

“The dinosaurs don't speak and what they do tells us who they are. Every dinosaur scene had to be constructed like a silent movie to ensure that "characters" of the various dinosaur heroes would come through clearly. So although the dinosaurs don't talk, they're fairly expressive physically and it was obvious that audiences would immediately root for the reptiles as the underdogs. We were trying to avoid the trap of "good" dinosaurs versus "evil" alien monsters, and we wanted to be able to shift the allegiance of the audience from one side to another as the story progressed. Which made it important to flesh out our aliens' motivations and personalities, too.”

The aliens will also be relatable, says Morrison:

“As we know from watching animated movies like Wall-E, it's possible to create relatable characters who look barely human at all. So we decided to provide contrast to the buglike appearance of our aliens by making them very human in the way they talk and interact with one another. They're not just rapacious monsters from another world, as they might have been in a less ambitious movie. These aliens are conflicted, brave, frightened, hopeful and poised on the edge of extinction themselves. Establishing a new home on Earth is their last chance for survival."

Expect a 2014 release. 

Ender’s Game
 

A big screen adaptation of Orson Scott Card’s classic – and, until now, “unfilmable” – sci-fi novel about a future Earth under threat of invasion by a race of insectoid aliens known as 'Formics'. Set seventy years after an epic human/alien war, the story follows the character of Ender Wiggin, a young boy whose tactical genius offers hope for humanity in the face of a new Formic invasion.

Currently filming under the direction of Gavin Hood, Ender’s Game stars Ben Kingsley, Harrison Ford, Hailee Steinfeld, Abigail Breslin and Viola Davis.

Release date: 1 November, 2013. 

Escape from Planet Earth

How genuinely refreshing to see Hollywood filmmakers sticking their necks out on a UFO movie in which the US military is depicted as the hostile force rather than the alien visitors.

The trailer for Escape from Planet Earth would seem to indicate that Hollywood still has some faith in the non-hostility of potential extraterrestrial intelligences despite Tinseltown’s long and successful history of aggressively demonizing life beyond Earth (UFO buffs will also note the references to modern human technology being seeded – or in this case literally produced – by ETs... Philip Corso, anyone?).
 
 
 

Here’s the official blurb for the movie:

“The 3D animated family comedy Escape from Planet Earth catapults film goers to planet Baab, where admired astronaut Scorch Supernova (Brendon Fraser) is a national hero to the blue alien population. A master of daring rescues, Scorch pulls off astonishing feats with the quiet aid of his nerdy, by-the-rules brother, Gary, head of mission control at BASA. When BASA's no-nonsense chief Lena (Jessica Alba) informs the brothers of an SOS from a notoriously dangerous planet, Scorch rejects Gary's warnings and bounds off for yet another exciting mission. But when Scorch finds himself caught in a fiendish trap set by the evil Shanker (James Gandolfini), it's up to scrawny, risk-adverse Gary to do the real rescuing. As the interplanetary stakes rise to new heights, Gary is left to save his brother, his planet, his beloved wife Kira (Sarah Jesscia Parker) and their adventure hungry son Kip.”

Release date: 14 February, 2013.

The Europa Report

In which astronauts seek out life on Jupiter’s frigid moon of Europa. The viral marketing campaign has been underway almost a year now. See, for example, the website for faux aerospace corporation Europa Ventures, where you’ll find a ‘live’ video feed showing astronauts onboard the spacecraft Europa 1. The site’s intro text reads:

“For decades, scientists have theorized the existence of liquid water oceans on Jupiter's moon, Europa. We've recently discovered new, captivating evidence that these sub-surface oceans do exist and could support life.

We've sent six astronauts from space programs throughout the world on a three year journey to Europa to explore its oceans and confirm these findings.

We're proud to be at the forefront of the effort to prove the existence of extra-terrestrial life within our solar system, within our lifetimes.”

Check out the teaser trailer, which gives us our first look at the spaceship Europa 1 and a taste of the score by composer Bear McCready (The Walking Dead and Battlestar Galactica)...
 
 
 

Directed by Sebastian Codero (Cronicas) The Europa Report stars Sharlto Copley (District 9), Michael Nyqvist (Mission: Impossible - Ghost Protocol), Daniel Wu, Anamaria Marinca (4 Months, 3 Weeks, 2 Days), Christian Camargo and Karolina Wydra.

Here’s the official synopsis:

“A group of astronauts, handpicked from around the world, make the arduous journey to Jupiter's frigid, glacial moon Europa in search of extraterrestrial life. The only thing more intimidating and unpredictable than the trip itself is what the team will encounter upon arrival...” 
 

The Europa Report is due for release sometime in 2013.

Flight of the Navigator

Disney’s 1986 alien abduction fantasy Flight of the Navigator has been placed on remake row, with an updating of the movie now in active development at the House of Mouse.

The original movie was directed by Randal Kleiser (Grease), and followed a 12 year-old boy who mysteriously vanishes while walking in the woods one evening only to reappear eight years later having not aged a day. Meanwhile, an alien spacecraft is discovered nearby, which NASA scientists believe may explain the boy's disappearance. 

A remake has been on the cards since 2009, when Brad Copeland (Arrested Development) was hired to pen the first script draft. Now, Derek Connolly and Colin Trevorrow have been hired to rework the new script, which the latter is set to direct.

Connolly told Variety:

"'Flight of the Navigator' wasn't a seminal movie of my childhood but I remember liking it and the original meant a lot to Colin as a kid, so it's really his baby. It'll be good to have some balance so it's not two fanboys writing the movie."

Expect the return of the Navigator sometime in 2014.

The Last Days on Mars

 
The shoot for Ruairi Robinson’s The Last Days On Mars wrapped in July last year at Elstree Studios in England. Here’s the official blurb for the British-produced sci-fi:

"As their last day on Mars draws to a close, the astronaut crew is on the verge of a major breakthrough – collected rock specimens reveal microscopic evidence of life. Meanwhile, communication is underway with AURORA, the approaching spacecraft that will relieve the crew of their operations. In their last hours on the planet, two astronauts go back to SITE 9, a cavernous valley on the surface of Mars, to collect further evidence of their discovery. But a routine excavation turns deadly when one of them falls to his death and his body taken host and re-animated by the very life form they sought to discover."
 

The Last Days On Mars stars Elias Koteas, Romola Garai, Johnny Harris and Liev Schreiber. All those involved will no doubt be hoping that, being British, the movie will be unaffected by Hollywood’s dreaded Martian curse! We’ll find out when it opens in 2013 (date TBC).

Ninja Turtles 

Transformers director Michael Bay has suggested that his production company’s upcoming live-action Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles movie reboot will be entirely rewriting the Turtles’ origins story and presenting the ‘heroes in a half-shell’ not as mutants, but as extraterrestrials. Seriously. While at Nickelodeon’s annual Upfront presentation last year, Bay told crowds:

“When you see this movie, kids are going to believe, one day, that these turtles actually do exist when we are done with this movie. These turtles are from an alien race and they are going to be tough, edgy, funny and completely lovable.”

Predictably, Bay's comments resulted in a stinging backlash from Turtles fans, who quickly took to online message boards and accused the filmmaker of violating their childhood memories (don’t take it personally, guys, that's just Bay's 'thing').

The movie’s director, Jonathan Liebesman (Battle: Los Angeles), told ComingSoon.net what he made of ‘Turtle-gate’:

"I heard about it, and I'm glad there's such a passionate fanbase – I think that was good news for everyone – but literally, I've just been locked in a room with Kevin Eastman [original co-creator of the Turtles]. I think what we're developing, the fans will love. I'm a fan, and I love what we're doing. It's a lot of stuff Kevin's been thinking about for a long time and just hasn't done. Anything we expand will tie right into the mythology, so I think fans will go apesh*t when they see it...”

The Ninja Turtles will be fighting their way back onto screens in 2014.

The Nye Incidents

 
The Nye Incidents is big screen adaptation of a graphic novel co-created by Whitley Strieber and Craig Spector. According to Shock Till You Drop, the film focuses on the character of Lynn Devlin, a medical examiner faced with the discovery of mutilated bodies on the rooftops of buildings around her county. The film’s director, Todd Lincoln told STYD:

"The bodies have these precise surgical incisions in them and all of the internal organs are missing," explains Lincoln, "the bones are completely crushed in the body which are filled with salt water from the ocean. This town is nowhere near the ocean. What all of these bodies have in common is these were people who were somehow in the alien abductee community. The core concept is someone or something is killing off these alien abductees. We don't know if it's a serial killer making it look like aliens did it or if it's the real thing."

We’re not treating this like sci-fi,” says Lincoln, “We’re taking this seriously. We’re treating this like it’s really happening and could happen to you. 

Expect a 2014 release date.

Oblivion  

In theatres April 12, 2013, Oblivion stars Tom Cruise as Commander Jack Harper, one of the last remaining men on an uninhabited Earth. He repairs the drones which patrol the skies and protect the planet from warring aliens.

The first trailer is now online. Looks pretty epic...
 
 
 

Pacific Rim

AKA: ‘Giant Interdimensional Monsters from the Deep!' A monologue in the trailer by star Charlie Hunnam says it all about Guillermo del Toro’s Man vs Monsters flick, which is due for release 12 July, 2013... "We always thought alien life would come from the stars... but it came from deep beneath the sea – a portal between dimensions in the Pacific Ocean..."
 
 
 

The Pet

As any UFO researcher knows, the abduction phenomenon is in no way traumatic, disturbing or profound to those whose lives it touches, or even to outside observers, but rather a source of great mirth and slapstick hilarity.

Recognising this, the best minds at Disney have decided to move forward with what Variety describes as a “long-gestating sci-fi family comedy” called The Pet, about “a man who’s abducted by aliens, taken to their planet and turned into a family pet.”

The script for the live-action movie was originally penned by Matt Lieberman (Short Circuit), but was recently rewritten by Tim Dowling (This Means War). Walt Disney Pictures and producer Scott Rudin have chosen Jared Hess (Napoleon Dynamite) to direct.

Prepare to be probed sometime in 2014.

The Host

Stephanie Meyer’s alien romance hits cinemas 29 March, 2013. Here’s the official blurb:

The Host is a riveting story about the survival of love and the human spirit in a time of war. Our world has been invaded by an unseen enemy. Humans become hosts for these invaders, their minds taken over while their bodies remain intact. Most of humanity has succumbed.”

And here’s the trailer...
 
 
 

Thor: The Dark World

In which Thor does battle with the evil Dark Elves, an alien race which, in the Marvel universe, is native to Svartalfheim – the seventh world of Asgard. It exists on an extradimensional plane that consists of major land masses which can be reached via nexus portals.

According to a report from the Russian Cinema Expo, Thor: The Dark World "promises to cover not just the Earth and Asgard, but the entire Nine Realms."

Thor: The Dark World is currently in pre-production. The script has been penned by Robert Rodat (Saving Private Ryan). Alan Taylor (Game of Thrones) is at the helm.

Release date: 8 November, 2013. 

Transformers 4

The fourth film in the Transformers franchise is headed for the final frontier, according to director Michael Bay. When asked by The Los Angeles Times last year if the new story will involve a departure from Earth, Bay replied: “I think so, yeah, a little... That feels like the way to go, doesn’t it? I want to go a little off [Earth] but I don’t want to go too sci-fi. I still want to keep it grounded. That’s what works in these movies, that’s what makes it accessible.”

Bay told the LA Times that his next Transformers movie (which will be his last) will not be a reboot, as rumours had suggested, but will nevertheless veer off in new directions and feature a new cast. Some of the Transformers themselves will also be redesigned (allowing for a new line of Hasbro toys).

“It’s not a reboot, that’s maybe the wrong word,” says Bay. “I don’t want to say reboot because then people will think we’re doing a Spider-Man and starting from the beginning. We’re not. We’re taking the story that you’ve seen — the story we’ve told in three movies already — and we’re taking it in a new direction. But we’re leaving those three as the history. It all still counts.”

Transformers 4 (bizarrely) stars Mark Wahlberg. It is scheduled for release 29 June, 2014.

Umbra

 
'Umbra' is a Latin word that refers to a dark area, especially the blackest part of a shadow from which all light is cut off.

'UMBRA' is also a U.S. National Security Agency (NSA)
code word used to denote the highest-level compartment of Communications Intelligence (COMINT) – also known as Special Intelligence.

'Umbra' is also soon to be a Hollywood movie. A paranoid thriller, to be precise, about a man who finds an old cassette tape which reveals a horrifying secret.

Details of this movie
first emerged back in 2009 when Roger Donaldson was attached to direct and Nicholas Cage to star, but budgetary concerns about the production – as well as Cage's numerous other movie commitments at the time – meant that it never really got off the ground.

The movie's original screenplay was written by newcomer Steven Karczynski and was leaked online in June 2009.
It was clearly inspired by the longstanding rumours surrounding the Dulce facility – an alleged deep-underground biogenetic research facility in New Mexico rumoured to be jointly run by human black-ops forces and extraterrestrial entities.


Following a production shakeup last year, however, veteran director Martin Campbell (The Mask of Zorro, Casino Royale, Green Lantern) has now been assigned to directing duties and the script  has undergone yet another rewrite – this time at the Oscar-winning hands of Paul Haggis (Crash, Million Dollar Baby). Bradley Cooper is attached to star.

For Silver Screen Saucers’ overview of the original Umbra script, see here.

Release date: sometime in 2014.

Under the Skin


Scarlett Johansson, taking her direction from Jonathan Glazer (Sexy Beast), plays (cue official blurb) an alien on earth, disguised as the perfect aesthetic form of a mesmerizing woman. She scours remote highways and desolate scenery looking to use her greatest weapon to snare human prey -- her voracious sexuality. She is deadly efficient, but over time becomes drawn to and changed by the complexity of life on earth. With this new found humanity and weakening alien resolve, she finds herself on a collision course with her own kind.”

Under the Skin is due for release in 2013, though an exact date has yet to be set.

1952

Disney’s ‘Top Secret’ sci-fi movie project 1952 is rumoured to be an epic Close Encounters-style tale of Earth’s first contact with aliens as told through the eyes of one ordinary man (played by the distinctly un-ordinary George Clooney). The script is being penned by Damon Lindelof (Prometheus). Incredibles helmer Brad Bird is on directing duties. For more info/speculation, see here.

Disney’s big secret will be revealed in 2014.

6 comments:

  1. Man, of all the Atari games I played, Asteroids was the least probable to inspire a movie!

    Mass Effect on the other hand would make for a great trilogy of films, IMO :)

    Great movie review, Robbie!

    ReplyDelete
  2. Thanks, Miguel. I've not heard of any plans for a Mass Effect film (or films), but there is currently a 'Halo' film stuck in development hell.

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  3. Umbra seems to have some similarities to Crawlspace.

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  4. > As any UFO researcher knows, the abduction phenomenon is in no way traumatic

    No disdain for the effect absurdly riotous and grotesquely scary alien movies might have on abductees?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. NOT TRAUMATIC?!!!! Which UFO researchers are you referring to? I don't know about you, but, I found being anally probed, and tortured to be quite traumatic. I'm afraid you have no idea what you're talking about.

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    2. Anonymous, Terry the Censor is merely quoting a blatantly sarcastic comment I made in the article above in relation to Disney's 'The Pet'. It goes without saying that abduction experiences frequently are extremely traumatic.

      Delete