Showing posts with label james cameron. Show all posts
Showing posts with label james cameron. Show all posts

Tuesday, 16 May 2023

Avatar: The Way of Water splashes onto Disney+



Avatar: The Way of Water finally arrives on Disney+ and Max (formerly HBO Max) this June.

The sequel to Avatar has been available digitally since March, but I've waited for director James Cameron's (Aliens) latest blockbuster to surface on Disney+, which will include bonus content featuring filmmakers, cast and crew.

Will you watch Avatar: The Way of Water on Disney+ on 7th June? Let me know in the comments below.

Friday, 13 January 2023

Alien series in pre-production at FX



Alien fans (myself included) rejoice. As reported by Deadline, Noah Hawley's (Fargo) long-awaited live-action spin-off series is in pre-production for Hulu and Star on Disney+.

"Noah is currently in production on the fifth season of Fargo but he’s in active pre-production on Alien, he’s written scripts," FX boss John Landgraf said during the Television Critics Association press tour. "I think he’s meeting with his production designer in Austin this weekend, gearing up for production this year after he completes the fifth season of Fargo."

Hawley's Alien spin-off series was first announced during the pandemic in 2020. Whilst we wait for further details, you can read Nick Smith's thoughts on the state of the franchise here.

Are you looking forward to the Alien spin-off series? Let me know in the comments below.

Thursday, 12 January 2023

Titanic returns to the big screen in 4K 3D



As Avatar: The Way of Water continues to dominate the box office, James Cameron’s Titanic is returning to cinemas this February to celebrate its 25th anniversary.



In the years before its release, I avidly followed reports of Titanic's troubled production, which suggested Twentieth Century Fox had a box office disaster comparable to Cleopatra. As the budget ballooned, Paramount Pictures stepped in to distribute the movie in the US.

At the time of Titanic’s original release in the UK, I wrote that the film had transcended my (admittedly) low expectations in the wake of a preview screening on my birthday.

In a sold-out Odeon Exeter Screen 1, I got swept away by this sepia-toned ghost story based on an infamous real-life tragedy. Nothing could've prepared the audience for the audacious spectacle and sheer grandeur that leapt from the great expanse of widescreen before us.

Cameron is indeed a master magician of montage and emotion. His craft would be further honed for Avatar.

The self-proclaimed king of the world had come of age with his Oscar-winning epic romance, starring Leonardo DiCaprio and Kate Winslet, underscored by composer James Horner’s haunting orchestrations - filled with Easter Eggs from an illustrious career cut too soon. Incidentally, I owned the original soundtrack on CD and MiniDisc. Now I can stream alternate versions on Apple Music, how times and technology have changed.

Ultimately, Titanic conquered the box office and was the first film to reach a billion dollars. The moral of the story is to never bet against Cameron.

Like Avatar, Titanic has been remastered in 4K 3D. However, I'll wait to see it on Disney+. It will be available on Paramount+ in the US.

What are your memories of watching Titanic? Let me know in the comments below.

Saturday, 26 November 2022

Avatar: The Way of Water on track to make millions



Tickets for Avatar: The Way of Water went on sale this week. Disney released a new trailer for director James Cameron's (Titanic) long-awaited sequel.



Read the official synopsis:

"Set more than a decade after the events of the first film, “Avatar: The Way of Water” begins to tell the story of the Sully family (Jake, Neytiri, and their kids), the trouble that follows them, the lengths they go to keep each other safe, the battles they fight to stay alive, and the tragedies they endure."

Directed by James Cameron and produced by Cameron and Jon Landau, the Lightstorm Entertainment Production stars Sam Worthington, Zoe Saldaña, Sigourney Weaver, Stephen Lang and Kate Winslet. Screenplay by James Cameron & Rick Jaffa & Amanda Silver. Story by James Cameron & Rick Jaffa & Amanda Silver & Josh Friedman & Shane Salerno. David Valdes and Richard Baneham serve as the film’s executive producers.

The House of Mouse has bet big on Cameron's sequel and it's difficult to imagine how Avatar: The Way of Water will fail at the box office this holiday season. The movie is on track for a $175 million domestic opening and needs to bank $2 billion to break even. The true test will be the release of future sequels. At least there's always Disney+.

Avatar: The Way of Water is in cinemas on 16th December.

Are you looking forward to Avatar: The Way of Water? Let me know in the comments below.

Wednesday, 2 November 2022

Avatar: The Way of Water on GMA



On Wednesday, Disney dropped an official trailer for Avatar: The Way of Water on Good Morning America (GMA).

Director James Cameron (Aliens) has been working on the Avatar sequel for years. During this time, Disney bought Twentieth Century Fox's film and television assets. Cameron was given more time and money for his film franchise.



Read the official synopsis:

"Set more than a decade after the events of the first film, “Avatar: The Way of Water” begins to tell the story of the Sully family (Jake, Neytiri, and their kids), the trouble that follows them, the lengths they go to keep each other safe, the battles they fight to stay alive, and the tragedies they endure."

The sequel stars Zoe Saldana, Sam Worthington, Sigourney Weaver, Stephen Lang, Cliff Curtis, Joel David Moore, CCH Pounder, Edie Falco, Jemaine Clement, Giovanni Ribisi and Kate Winslet.

In the 13 years since the original Avatar was released, the 3D format has become a niche in the home market and television manufacturers have all but abandoned it in favour of 4K UHD.

The House of Mouse has bet big on Cameron's sequel for the holiday season and it's difficult to imagine how Avatar: The Way of Water will fail at the box office. Especially with the allure of immersive 3D. The true test will be the release of future sequels. At least there's always Disney+.

The original Avatar was pulled from Disney+ when the remastered movie returned to cinemas last September. Hopefully, the 4K UHD version will be on Disney+ during the holiday season.

Avatar: The Way of Water is in cinemas on 16th December.

What did you think of the Avatar: The Way of Water official trailer? Let me know in the comments below.

Tuesday, 10 May 2022

Avatar: The Way of Water teaser drops



On Monday, Disney dropped an official teaser trailer for Avatar: The Way of Water, which was first shown at CinemaCon and exclusively in cinemas with Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness.

Director James Cameron (Titanic) has been working on the Avatar sequel for years.



Read the official synopsis:

"Set more than a decade after the events of the first film, “Avatar: The Way of Water” begins to tell the story of the Sully family (Jake, Neytiri, and their kids), the trouble that follows them, the lengths they go to keep each other safe, the battles they fight to stay alive, and the tragedies they endure."

The sequel stars Zoe Saldana, Sam Worthington, Sigourney Weaver, Stephen Lang, Cliff Curtis, Joel David Moore, CCH Pounder, Edie Falco, Jemaine Clement, Giovanni Ribisi and Kate Winslet.

In the 13 years since the original Avatar was released, the 3D format has become niche in the home market and television manufacturers have all but abandoned it. I recently rewatched Avatar on Disney+ and my enjoyment of 'Cameron's greatest hits collection' hasn't diminished.

It remains to be seen whether or not cinemagoers suffer from the so-called 'Pandora blues' this holiday season.

The House of Mouse has bet big on Cameron's sequel and it's difficult to imagine how Avatar: The Way of Water will fail at the box office. Especially with the allure of immersive 3D. The true test will be the release of future sequels. At least there's always Disney+.

Avatar: The Way of Water is in cinemas on 16th December.

What did you think of the Avatar: The Way of Water teaser trailer? Let me know in the comments below.

Wednesday, 27 April 2022

Avatar: The Way of Water this December



The 13-year wait to return to Pandora is almost over. The first sequel to Avatar (2009), Avatar: The Way of Water, will be in cinemas this holiday season.

Director James Cameron (Aliens) made the announcement during Disney's presentation at CinemaCon 2022 in Las Vegas.

"We wanted our return to Pandora to be something really special," Cameron told the CinemaCon attendees. "We set out once again to push the limits of what cinema can do."

The sequel stars Zoe Saldana, Sam Worthington, Sigourney Weaver, Stephen Lang, Cliff Curtis, Joel David Moore, CCH Pounder, Edie Falco, Jemaine Clement, Giovanni Ribisi and Kate Winslet.

In preparation for the upcoming sequel’s release. The original Avatar will be remastered and back in cinemas on 23rd September. Cameron's sci-fi epic was 3D's killer app in cinemas and at home. Panasonic Hollywood Laboratories (PHL) was instrumental in the early success of the format.

A trailer will be exclusively shown with Marvel Studios' Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness. There'll be a week delay before it's officially released online. Let's see how quickly someone uploads it.

Avatar: The Way of Water is in cinemas on 16th December.

Are you looking forward to Avatar: The Way of Water? Let me know in the comments below.

Tuesday, 26 April 2022

Alien Day toy bug hunt



It's Alien Day celebrating all things xenomorph on LV-426.

So what better time to examine the plastic fantastic incarnations of the monster that first terrorised the ill-fated crew of the Nostromo.

Nick Smith, our resident US-based collectable guru, goes on a toy bug hunt.

Guest post by Nick Smith

The internet can be a deep, deep rabbit hole, fluffy tail and all. While immersing myself in the intense video game Alien: Isolation, I was compelled to check out the toys that have accompanied the Alien saga.

I find it fascinating that there are toys associated with such a visceral, fatalistic franchise, proof that America never misses a chance to prize making a buck over childhood innocence. Sure, there have been monster movie toys since plastic was mouldable; Aurora Monster Scenes were rattling around in the ‘60s.

But the monster movies that spawned those toys were not the R-rated equivalent of plastic reliquaries for kids.

Picture little Johnny’s playroom, where tiny terrible xenos with two sets of jaws and acid blood take on Disney stablemate Buzz Lightyear. Or imagine toy developers going wild, creating alien shapes that have burst from different animals.

Fox’s films have always struggled to merge rollercoaster horror scares and iconic characterization with marketable monsters and space action that appeals to teens – and since the paintings of H.R. Giger formed the basis for those monsters, the way the Alien films have been developed and marketed is a quintessential example of art vs commerce.

Thanks to nerd culture, you don’t have to be a kid to play with action figures, as long as you don’t mind getting a few strange looks down the pub. My own online research was spurred by the recent appearance of Alien tie-in toys in my local Wal-Mart, where you’re more likely to see a hillbilly in slippers than a space marine.

The action figures are an eye-catching surprise, considering the last movie, Alien: Covenant, is four years old.

The toy range retains the late, great and rather sick H.R. Giger’s artistic xenomorph design, which helped the original Alien film transcend its B-movie trappings to become an eternally watchable classic. But there have been other, more faithful figures through the years, as well as goofy caricatures and cute Lego-like chestbursters.

Reports of Corporal Hicks’ death in ALIEN³ may have been exaggerated, since he turned up as a Kenner toy in 1992, the same year David Fincher’s gloomy movie was released. Most of Kenner’s toys were based on the earlier Aliens movie, and the figures included a gorilla alien, a snake alien and a queen hive playset.

Sadly, the toys were not remotely as popular as Kenner’s Star Wars range, probably because its target buyers weren’t even supposed to be watching the Alien saga. Kenner dropped the line in 1995 and it was a long time before we got new figures from a new company.

NECA (National Entertainment Collectibles Association) first caught the attention of collectors in 2001 with a range of 7” figures based on the Tim Burton film Beetlejuice. These were followed by toys based on Tron, Ghostbusters, A Nightmare on Elm Street and many other popular properties.

By 2013, NECA was hatching various Alien toys and figures, with a big push for Alien’s 40th anniversary in 2019. The wide range includes a replica of the original Alien and the sinister foes from Alien: Isolation. The attention to detail is excellent, although there have been reports of a limb or two coming loose in packaging. Let’s blame it on the acid blood.

The Minimates aliens are intricate and charmingly chunky, as all Minimates are designed to be. However, they are as flimsy as the plot point that brings Ripley back to life in Alien Resurrection. The alien’s tail and paws fall off at the drop of a space helmet, so keep close track of the pieces or they’ll be lost in the space behind your display cabinet. But these figures are still a lot cuter than a sci-fi horror movie toy has any right to be.

When I spotted a Funko Pop! of Katherine ‘Danny’ Daniels from Alien: Covenant in a bookstore bargain bin, I had to pick her up. In hindsight, the astoundingly popular, ridiculously bug-eyed pieces of plastic are my fave thing about that movie (sorry, Sir Ridley).

The Lanard Toys Aliens may be the wrong colour, but it’s a joy to see them on the shelves when I visit my local superstore. Their kid-friendly green colour is apparently deemed less disturbing than the glossy, crustacean black of the movie aliens. They lurk in Wal-Mart, waiting to draw some unsuspecting pre-teen into their nihilistic world. My favourite in the range is a glowing, semi-translucent alien that ties in, intentionally or not, with Marvel Comics' Aftermath.

As the Alien franchise has aged, it has gained a split personality, trying to please target-age cinemagoers and veteran fans who’ve been loyal since the ‘70s. Neither of these age groups is going to rush to Wal-Mart to pick up a kid’s toy.

Veterans are more likely to drop dollars on NECA’s realistic figurines. The ironically goofy-looking Minimates and Funko Pops! might appeal to 18-25-year-olds.

If Lanard Toys' Alien line is successful, maybe we’ll see more unlikely movies turned into toys. Hey kids, do you want to play a game with Jigsaw?

Saturday, 5 March 2022

Alien on Hulu



According to The Hollywood Reporter (THR), a new standalone Alien movie is in the works along with a live-action spin-off series already greenlit for FX on Hulu and Star on Disney+.

Fede Álvarez, the lauded horror director behind Don’t Breathe, will write and direct an original standalone movie in the storied franchise for Hulu. Sir Ridley Scott, who directed the original Alien and prequels Prometheus and Alien: Covenant, will produce the upcoming movie and series for the House of Mouse.

Álvarez is reportedly eschewing big blockbuster thrills in favour of Alien's nightmarish haunted house roots.

In related news. Alien is coming to Star on Disney+ this month. Hopefully, it'll be available in 4K UHD like the original Predator, which has never looked better.

Are you looking forward to the new Alien movie and spin-off series? Let me know in the comments below.

Tuesday, 17 August 2021

Nerf blaster celebrates Aliens



"Hey, I wanna introduce you to a personal friend of mine!" To celebrate the 35th anniversary of Aliens, Hasbro is releasing a limited edition electronic Nerf blaster based on the iconic M41-A Pulse Rifle used by the Colonial Marines in director James Cameron's spectacular sequel to Alien.

With its Power Loader-inspired livery, electronic dart counter and movie-accurate sound effects, it's too cool to pass up for fans (myself included) of both Nerf and Aliens. The Nerf LMTD Aliens M41-A Pulse Blaster is available to pre-order for £99.99 from Hasbro Pulse and will be released in October 2022. Yes, that's over a year away.

Nerf LMTD is a premium, fan targeted line from Nerf that brings to life some of the most iconic items from entertainment and video games. This will be the first official Aliens collectable I've bought since Kenner's nineties toy line ended.

In related news. Marvel Comics has begun a new comic book series and Aliens: Fireteam Elite video game is released on PlayStation, Xbox and PC this month. The live-action Alien series begins filming in early 2022 for FX on Hulu and Star on Disney+.

It's not game over for the bug hunting multimedia franchise.

Are you excited for the Nerf LMTD Aliens M41-A Pulse Blaster and what Nerf LMTD license would you like to see Hasbro produce next? Let me know in the comments below.

Monday, 9 August 2021

Aliens: Aftermath



This year, Aliens celebrates its 35th anniversary and to commemorate Marvel Comics has released a sequel to James Cameron's action-packed follow-up to Sir Ridley Scott's Alien.

Aliens: Aftermath.

Nick Smith, our US-based stellar scribe, goes on another bug hunt with the help of the fine folks at TBS Comics in Fort Walton Beach, Florida.

Guest post by Nick Smith

Not content with a monthly Alien comic, Marvel Comics has released a one-shot sequel to 1986’s Aliens and it successfully captures the atmosphere and motifs of James Cameron’s masterpiece. It’s not going to get your adrenaline pumping like the movie unless nostalgia is your epinephrine of choice.

Cleverly, Aftermath is set 35 years after the movie and features Jennette Vasquez’s nephew, Cutter. He explores the mystery of Hadley’s Hope, a lost colony on LV-426. When he and his crew visit the desolate moon it’s suffering a nuclear winter, as if it’s been nuked from orbit. Yet something has survived the holocaust…

The homages come thick and fast. The Weyland-Yutani company is as devious as ever. Writer Benjamin Percy (Wolverine) and artist Dave Wachter (Iron Fist) take the bold step of introducing a different xenomorph that doesn’t have the oily, shadowy camouflage of the originals. Part of their charm – of that’s the right word – is that they can pop out from the shadows at any moment; this one is more ghost-like in appearance. But it is still just as effective at killing hunky heroes.

Story-wise, the perspective is different - Cutter is part of the anti-corporate live-feed guerrilla movement Renegade XM. The tropes are the same as always, however: betrayal, sudden death, corporate greed and using people as ‘space mules’ for chestbursters, as seen in the Alien movie series and the regular comic.

There’s nothing wrong with telling the same story differently; Cameron was an expert sequel-maker (see also Terminator 2). But the universe is vast and there are so many new stories that could be told, new characters to meet and new species to fight. If Aliens and Predators co-exist, what else is out there to threaten humanity and make us scream?

Marvel is staking its claim as the new home of Alien comics and it’s doing it with care and skill. I’m glad they chose Percy, an unashamed Alien fan, to write Aftermath. The publisher quotes him as saying:

“When I was a kid, I had a door-length poster of a xenomorph crashing through the wood, tearing off the hinges, creeping forward with a drippy fanged smile. This is the image I would drift away to every night, which no doubt influenced my imaginative hard-wiring, along with the films and comics that I watched and read over and over and over. To this day, I can't grip a knife without wanting to lay my hand on a table and tick-tick-tick the point between my splayed fingers—I can't play a game of ping-pong or Clue without yelling, ‘Game over, man.’—I can't scratch an orange tabby without whispering, ‘You are my lucky star.... lucky, lucky, lucky, lucky, lucky.’ I’ve been in love with these stories most of my life, and it's truly an honour and a delight to celebrate the 35th anniversary of Aliens with a script inked in acid blood.”

Typically, giving a fan the tools to work with his or her favourite franchise usually works to the readers’ benefit. Percy certainly leaves us wanting more and although Aftermath is a double-length comic, it deserves a second issue.

14 years before the adventures of Cutter and Co., Security Officer Gabriel Cruz tries to reconnect with his son in the regular Alien comic. Compared to Aftermath this is a slow burn, spending several issues onboard the claustrophobic Epsilon Station.

Alien writer Phillip Kennedy Johnson (Batman) takes a chance by focusing on Cruz, a sympathetic character who nevertheless is gruff and lonely; if you’re looking for a younger male or female hero to relate to, you have my sympathies [I see what you did there - Ed].

Alien introduces strange xenomorphs with horns and bizarre appendages and refers to ‘others that didn’t exist yet.’

This is what we really need to see, and what will keep the franchise alive, with fresh acid breath and dark ideas to surprise us the same way that the first appearance of the chestburster shocked us, with characters as memorable as the original Vasquez and her fellow ill-fated Colonial Marines. It’s quite a challenge but so far Johnson isn’t doing too bad… for a human.

Aliens is now streaming in the UK on Disney+.

Are you reading Marvel Comics' Alien series? Let me know in the comments below.

Saturday, 3 July 2021

Alien series shooting without Ripley



James Cameron's Aliens marks its 35th anniversary this year and Noah Hawley (Fargo) has shared details about his mysterious Alien spin-off series for FX on Hulu with Vanity Fair.

"What's next for me, it looks like, is [an] Alien series for FX, taking on that franchise and those amazing films by Ridley Scott and James Cameron and David Fincher," Hawley said. "I've written a couple of scripts, the first two scripts, and we're looking to make them next spring."

If you are hoping for a cameo from Ellen Ripley (Sigourney Weaver), a la Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill) in Disney stablemate The Mandalorian, you may be deeply disappointed.

"It's not a Ripley story," he added. "She's one of the great characters of all time, and I think the story has been told pretty perfectly, and I don't want to mess with it."

This may be a misdirect as Weaver could be de-aged for the FX on Hulu and Star on Disney+ series. Regardless, I want to be surprised and Nick Smith recently wrote about his hopes and fears for the upcoming Alien series.

Whilst many fans (myself included) of the franchise lament never seeing Neill Blomkamp's (District 9) Alien 5, I'm hopeful this spin-off series will surpass Sir Ridley Scott's prequels as it focuses on humanities parasitic past and AI-dominated technological future.

Prometheus is available to stream on Star on Disney+. The original Alien and Aliens are coming soon to the House of Mouse's streaming service in the UK.

Thursday, 24 June 2021

MasterClass with filmmaker James Cameron



Academy Award-winning director James Cameron (Titanic) took a break from working on his Avatar sequels to become the latest member of a growing pantheon of creatives to be featured on MasterClass.



"From The Terminator and Titanic to Avatar, James Cameron has directed some of Hollywood’s biggest blockbusters. Now, for the first time in his 40-year career, he opens up about his process. Through behind-the-scenes breakdowns, James shares his approach to developing ideas, storylines, and characters; harnessing technology; and worldbuilding on any budget. Explore the innovation and imagination behind epic moviemaking."

“I’ve been directing films for almost four decades, and if there’s one thing I’ve realized, it’s that learning is a constant process,” Cameron said in a statement. “Every filmmaker stands on the shoulders of the filmmakers who came before them, and I hope that my MasterClass will allow members to filter and develop my techniques through their own subjective lens and experiences.”

Added MasterClass founder and CEO David Rogier: “Having directed two of the top three highest-grossing films of all time, there’s no question the impact that Jim has had on both the film industry and film fans around the world. In his class, Jim takes our members behind the camera and, for the first time in his career, shares what he’s learned in four decades of directing epic films.”

25 years ago I graduated with a degree in Media Production from Bournemouth University. Cameron, along with contemporaries George Lucas and Steven Spielberg, inspired me to pursue a career in the creative arts.

As I've written previously, a textual analysis of Terminator 2: Judgment Day (handwritten and lost to time) garnered unconditional offers to study on several university courses, which was in stark contrast to what a high school career tutor suggested would ever be possible as outlined here.

Will you be watching James Cameron's MasterClass? Let me know in the comments below.

Monday, 21 June 2021

Alien to infest Hulu and Star on Disney+



Marvel Comics' all-new Alien series heralds the arrival of the iconic movie monster at Disney.

Nick Smith, our US-based stellar scribe, looks ahead to the first live-action spin-off series coming to FX on Hulu and Star on Disney+.

Guest post by Nick Smith

I first saw Sir Ridley Scott’s Alien on TV as a teenager. I’d read a lot about H.R. Giger’s designs, seen pictures of the Space Jockey, watched clips and spoofs of the chestburster scene and read reviews describing Alien as a “boo!” of a film. But I wasn’t prepared for the sheer excitement of watching it as it built to its roller coaster peak of a finale. I watched it at midnight, alone, in the dark. It was a goose-bumping, singular experience that could be repeated but surely never topped.

Not to be outdone, James Cameron (Avatar) went ahead and topped it with his sequel. It was bigger, more exciting, satirising military movie stereotypes in the same vein as Alien’s over-the-top “company” had commented on powerful corporations, steering just this side of realism. Instead of Jones the cat, Ripley had a little girl to rescue, emphasizing her maternal instincts. Aliens is rarely matched for its thrills and characters you care about.

I played my Alien and Aliens soundtrack LPs until vinyl wasn’t a thing anymore. They made great background music when I was writing, furiously typing away to James Horner’s climactic beats. If I’d been able to get my young paws on Kenner’s toy range, I would have bought every figure. But the range never surfaced in my local toy store.

The Kenner range was released in the US in the early ‘90s, featuring animal hybrid xenomorphs that prefigured the bio-blends of later sequels. There were toys of the marines from Aliens (Apone, Hudson, Drake and Vasquez) despite the sticky end they received in the movie!

A cartoon was proposed, but perhaps we should be thankful that a great outer space horror movie didn’t get turned into watered-down, kid-friendly fare a la the Rambo and RoboCop toons that did get produced.

Now there are Alien toys in the local Walmart and Disney has its mousey gloves on Fox’s cash creature. In December 2020, Disney announced its mission to make Alien its next 'mega-franchise.' The live-action series will be on Star on Disney+ internationally and FX on Hulu in the US, with Noah Hawley (Fargo) showrunning and Sir Ridley Scott in an executive producer role. Will the forthcoming live-action series be a pale imitation of its silver screen forbears, like My Big fat Greek Life (except with creatures laying eggs in your chest)?

On the big screen, the xenomorph has never quite reached its Scott/Cameron heights since Aliens was released in 1986. While Prometheus was intriguing, it trod stale ground with its “Ancient Aliens” ideas and characters as cold as LV-426, distant from the sympathetic heroes of the first two Alien films.

TV might be a good fit for the franchise right now. The format is more prone to showing scary stuff these days; while in the 70s and 80s it would focus on atmosphere and characterization, now we can see special effects gore (The Walking Dead) and spectacle (the twisted corpse sculptures of Hannibal).

How much will be shown on FX on Hulu and Star on Disney+? Promisingly, a source told Edward Lauder of Small Screen, "These future Alien properties will be full-blown action-horror. They are not intending to make these upcoming movies and TV shows PG-13. Disney execs see this property and the Predator franchise – which they now also own – as their ‘adult’ offerings and they are hoping to boost their adult subscribers…"

Although the new show is being touted as the first story set on Earth, we’ve already seen xenomorphs on the loose in Alien vs Predator: Requiem. If that 2007 film hadn’t been part of the saga, it would have been fine as a monsters-on-the-loose film. But it failed to live up to its legacy with a puppy love story pandering to 18-to-25-year-olds instead of focusing on mature, capable actors. So how can the new showrunners learn from Requiem’s mistakes?

I like a happy ending as much as the next viewer, but Lost and The Walking Dead have shown that audiences are not turned off by the death of major characters; in Alien, the ‘final girl’ element raises the stakes and makes us care more about her, admiring the fact that she survives.

If the new Alien series wants to endure, it will have to cater to the fans who have supported the movies over the years, invent new ways to incorporate original, horrific ideas, and scare the pants off them.

Are you looking forward to the Alien spin-off series? Let me know in the comments below.

Tuesday, 1 June 2021

Alien Marvel



For a generation of Alien, Predator and Star Wars fans (myself included), Dark Horse Comics satiated fevered fandom between movie franchise instalments in the nineties.

When Disney bought Lucasfilm from George Lucas in 2012, Dark Horse Comics relinquished the Star Wars license back to Marvel Comics as expected. Following the House of Mouse's subsequent acquisition of Twentieth Century Fox's film and television assets, the Alien and Predator franchises have also moved from Dark Horse Comics to Marvel Comics.

Nick Smith, our US-based stellar scribe, grabs a couple of issues of Marvel Comics' all-new Alien series, from TBS Comics in Fort Walton Beach, Florida, and goes on a bug hunt!

Guest post by Nick Smith

Space should be a scary place. Despite NASA’s Ad Astra derring-do and our primal desire to see what’s out there, the void beyond Earth’s atmosphere is cold, dark and full of danger.

The best Alien comics capture this sense of dread: come fly the unfriendly skies, where one misstep could cost you your chest. I’ve yet to read one that really captures the body horror, psychosexual symbolism and bleak outlook of the original movie. Dark Horse’s 1989 spin-off Aliens, by Mark Verheiden and Mark A. Nelson, came closest, a benchmark for high-quality comics, benefiting from its black and white interiors.

Later efforts suffered from out-of-place Sam Kieth art (in Earth War), cardboard characterisations and horrible retro-edits to make them fit into a continuity nobody wanted. A slew of one-shots and mini-series seemed like mere moneymakers.

Five years after the last drop of synthetic milk was squeezed from Dark Horse’s cash cow, Marvel presents a new take on Ridley Scott and HR Giger’s nightmare vision. The result is one of the best storylines since Verheiden’s run.

In issue #1 we’re introduced to Gabriel Cruz, who retires from running Epsilon Orbital Research and Development Station and tries to reconnect with his estranged son. Their reunion doesn’t go very well and the son causes trouble for Cruz in unexpected ways. Meanwhile, Cruz is beset by post-traumatic flashes of a previous encounter with the xenomorphs. Writer Phillip Kennedy Johnson really makes us feel like we’re involved in the action and we care about Cruz from the get-go.

Disappointingly, artist Salvador Larroca’s art doesn’t really work for this kind of story. The images are too clean and the characters have plastic avatar faces. It’s a testament to Johnson’s work that we still sympathize with them and want to know what happens next.

Larroca can draw a mean alien, though, and his human faces improve in issue #2. It’s a little late though, because a whole bunch of humans end up dead thanks to the freaky creatures loose on the station.

As Cruz prepares to face the aliens again, he also encounters homages to the first two Alien movies. There’s a Newt-like little girl, military grunts who expect a traditional ‘bug hunt’ and are unprepared for xenomorphs, and biological research that you just know is a bad idea.

Other Marvel revamps – Conan, Star Wars – have succeeded by maintaining a respect for the source material. So far Marvel’s Alien does the same, finding just the right balance between something old (a version of Bishop, the ‘artificial person’ from Aliens), something new (Gabriel Cruz), something borrowed (facehuggers hiding in nooks and crannies) and something silently screaming in the blackness of space.

Far superior to Dark Horse’s later comics, this 4-issue series is recommended for readers who like to take their sci-fi with a splash of acid blood.

Aliens Omnibus Vol. 1 (affiliate link) is available for pre-order.

Are you reading Marvel Comics' Alien series? Let me know in the comments below.

Monday, 26 April 2021

Celebrate Alien Day on Fortnite



It's Alien Day celebrating all things xenomorph on LV-426 and they're invading Fortnite. Play as Ripley or as a xenomorph.



"They mostly come out at night... mostly." An iconic line from Aliens, which celebrates its 35th anniversary this year.

Director James Cameron's action-packed sequel to Sir Ridley Scott's haunted house in space remains one of my all-time favourite films. At the time of Aliens' original release, I was too young to see it in a theatre.

However, I remember cycling to the newsagents whilst on school summer holiday staying with grandparents, picking up a copy of Starburst magazine and excitedly leafing through its pages, reading Alan Dean Foster's novelisation out on store deliveries with dad and playing the 8-bit video game tie-in on Commodore 64. Being blessed with a cool mum meant I was able to see Aliens (on rental video) a few months later to the envy of high school friends.

In related news. Twitter experienced a xenomorph infestation of its own when folks argued whether or not Alien was a horror movie? Kevin Smith stepped in to save the day. Prometheus is now streaming on Star on Disney+. And Nick Smith will be reviewing Marvel Comics' Alien series soon.

Here's hoping Fortnite does something similar for Star Wars Day on 4th May.

What are your favourite Alien franchise memories? Let me know in the comments below.

Friday, 7 August 2020

Alien and Predator move to Marvel



For a generation of Alien, Predator and Star Wars fans (myself included), Dark Horse Comics satiated fevered fandom between movie franchise instalments and Kenner (bought by Hasbro) produced an amazing line of tie-in toys, available at Argos, in the nineties.

When Disney bought Lucasfilm from George Lucas in 2012, as expected, Dark Horse Comics lost the Star Wars license back to Marvel Comics. Following the House of Mouse's acquisition of Twentieth Century Fox's film and television assets, the Alien and Predator comics are also moving from Dark Horse Comics to Marvel Comics.

"There's nothing more thrilling than a story that will keep you at the edge of your seat, and Alien and Predator have delivered that time and time again!" C.B. Cebulski, Editor-in-Chief of Marvel, told IGN. "I can clearly remember where I was when I saw each of these modern masterpieces for the first time, and reveling in how both masterfully weave extraterrestrial dread and drama into some of the most iconic scenes we've ever seen on film. And it's that legacy that we're going to live up to!"

"The incredible legacies of both franchises offer some of the most compelling and exciting worldbuilding in all of science fiction," said Marvel Editor Jake Thomas. "It is a thrill and an honor to be able to add to that mythology and continuity with all-new stories set within those universes."

"Alien and Predator are the two of the most identifiable, iconic characters of all time, and I love them for that," said comic book artist David Finch. "But mostly, it's being fortunate enough to be a kid when they were new. I've seen every movie they've ever been in, and I cannot wait to see them wreaking havoc in the Marvel Universe. I drew my pictures of them with a massive smile on my face."

"As a visual medium, comics are the perfect place to build on those moments, and we here at Marvel are honored to begin telling these stories for fans everywhere," added Cebulski. "As our release schedule continues to return, we can't wait to share more in the coming months!"

Due to the Disney takeover and coronavirus pandemic, director Ridley Scott's Alien prequels remain in cryostasis for now. However, there's talk of an Aliens live-action spin-off series coming to Hulu.

Alien and Predator begin their all-new comic book turf war in 2021.

Monday, 22 July 2019

Avengers: Endgame ends Avatar's box office reign



Avengers: Endgame ends Avatar's decade-spanning reign at the top of the box office.

Director James Cameron congratulated the Russo brothers on the achievement as he did previously when Endgame beat Titanic.

Cameron posted on Avatar’s official Twitter account: "Oel ngati kameie, I see you Marvel – Congratulations to Avengers Endgame on becoming the new box-office King."

Avatar is now a Disney franchise, following the acquisition of Twentieth Century Fox's film and television assets earlier this year, and the first sequel is expected in cinemas December 2021.

During San Diego Comic-Con (SDCC), Marvel Studios president Kevin Feige announced Phase 4 beginning with Black Widow starring Scarlett Johansson.

Sunday, 16 June 2019

I Am Mother is a maternal Chappie



I Am Mother is the best Netflix original genre film since director Alex Garland's Annihilation. Like Garland's previous film, Ex Machina, I Am Mother shares the same sense of encroaching claustrophobia and mines a rich seam of sci-fi tropes (at times inverting them) with post-apocalyptic aplomb!

Set in the aftermath of an extinction event, I Am Mother could have been a pedestrian retread of overly-familiar themes. Instead, it is elevated by stunning cinematography, taut direction from first-time film director Grant Sputore with a background in commercials like Ridley Scott and David Fincher, Weta's wizardry - Mother is a memorable robot performed by Luke Hawker - and an inspired casting trifecta. Hilary Swank (Woman) channelling Linda Hamilton, Rose Byrne as the sensitive voice of Mother, and Clara Rugaard (Daughter) who is the revelatory driving force and evokes a young Natalie Portman.



I Am Mother weaves a philosophical tale of artificial intelligence raising human life, a prevalent sociological theme as digital assistants become increasingly integrated into our daily lives. What are Mother's motivations and is Daughter in danger from her gleaming guardian or the mysterious woman? There are nods to Alien, Blade Runner and Terminator as Sputore and screenwriter Michael Lloyd Green explore allegorical subtext with greater subtlety than Neill Blomkamp (Chappie).



Where I Am Mother stumbles is in the third act as the story moves from a confined space into an open world decades after a cataclysmic war. Yet, despite that unexpected narrative stutter, the ending is ambiguous and thought-provoking. It is easy to see Sputore going on to direct for Marvel Studios and a galaxy far, far away...

Saturday, 25 May 2019

Look who's back in Terminator: Dark Fate



Arnold Schwarzenegger is back and he's brought an old friend. As someone who's been a fan of Terminator since the mid-eighties, I wasn't sure about another sequel after Genisys failed to ignite the box office and reboot the ailing franchise. However, the trailer for Terminator: Dark Fate has my attention.



With Tim Miller (Deadpool) at the helm, James Cameron (Avatar) as producer and Linda Hamilton reprising the role of Sarah Connor for the first time since Terminator 2: Judgment Day, the franchise may have a resurgence not seen since Star Wars: The Force Awakens.

Terminator: Dark Fate is in cinemas this October.