"Outside of these walls, there are no guarantees." Another outstanding short film to watch. Dust is a sci-fi, fantasy short film produced by Ember Labs and directed by Mike Grier. We originally featured the teaser trailer for this short film way back in 2013, a year after it was on Kickstarter getting funding. Now it's finally complete and it's gorgeous, some of the best short film cinematography I've seen all year (by Michael Nie), with some incredible world-building and mythology to draw you deeper into the story. This was shot on location in remote areas of Japan with VFX added later. The film follows a tracker who takes a black-market merchant out into the wilderness to find the source of the "dust" that is poisoning the air. There's all kinds of cool flora and fauna hidden throughout this, and the main character (named Irezumi) is awesome. Enjoy.
"Before man makes it to Mars, he must conquer the Arctic." IFC Films & Sundance Selects have debuted a trailer for a film called Passage to Mars, an experimental doc with narration by Zachary Quinto retelling some of the stories from the crew on NASA's Arctic expedition. As a test to see if astronauts could survive on Mars, NASA sent a team of six people on a 2,000-mile journey up into the Northwest Passage in the Arctic - this film recounts their voyage. "As an expedition that was supposed to take weeks stretches into a two-year odyssey, the crew must overcome seemingly insurmountable challenges and life-threatening conditions if they hope to realize their dreams of someday reaching the Red Planet." James Cameron even loved this film.
The journey for Star Trek on the big screen hasn't always been going at warp speed. For the most part, the films have had a difficult time appealing to both the general audience and to the hardcore faithful (known as Trekkies). That changed, however, in 2009 when J.J. Abrams rebooted the film series with the simply titled Star Trek. For the first time in a while, Star Trek was accessible to both mainstream audiences and hardcore Trekkies alike. However, as the series progressed with Star Trek Into Darkness, some Trek fans started to dismiss the new films as being too action-oriented, as well as missing the philosophical essence that made Star Trek the groundbreaking success it was when it first aired on this day 50 years ago. So as Star Trek celebrates its 50th anniversary today, let's explore why I believe that all changed with the latest installment, Star Trek Beyond, and why I believe it is the best Star Trek movie in nearly two decades.
Before returning to our condo and beginning this review, I stopped for a few minutes and stared up at the stars. Here in Telluride you can view them so clearly, but this time I felt a renewed sense of wonder after emerging from one of the most intelligent alien sci-fi movies since Contact. It's a major milestone in sci-fi, the next step in the non-stop evolution of this exciting genre of cinema. Arrival is a phenomenal film, an extremely intelligent yet captivating story brought to life in the most invigorating way by director Denis Villeneuve. It's one of those brilliant movies that actually makes you appreciate all that sci-fi can offer, making you think intensely about life, the choices we make, and what place humans have in the universe.
"You don't have to believe me, but I need you to trust me." Netflix has debuted the first trailer for a sci-fi film called ARQ, produced by Netflix as one of their smaller productions (similar to Christopher Guest's Mascots). The film is about a unique technological device called the "ARQ", which an engineer invents and keeps in his own house. Apparently it can "deliver unlimited energy and end the wars that have consumed the world", but one day he wakes up and finds masked men in his house. They shoot him and leave him to die, but he wakes up alive repeating the same day, like Groundhog Day (the clock is an obvious reference). Robbie Amell stars with Rachael Taylor and a cast including Gray Powell, Jacob Neayem, Shaun Benson and Adam Butcher. This actually looks pretty cool, I'm very curious about checking it out. Enjoy.
Now this is unique marketing. Fox has partnered with IBM to create a special trailer for the sci-fi Morgan, about an artificially created being. It was made by IBM's Watson and is the first-ever AI-created movie trailer. "Utilizing experimental Watson APIs and machine learning techniques, the IBM Research system analyzed hundreds of horror/thriller movie trailers. After learning what keeps audiences on the edge of their seats, the AI system suggested the top 10 best candidate moments for a trailer from the movie Morgan, which an IBM filmmaker then edited and arranged together." The film stars Kate Mara as an expert called in to analyze the realistic aspects of an artificial person known as "Morgan", played by Anya Taylor-Joy. They've been pushing some really fantastic marketing for this film, I just hope it all pays off. Have a watch.
"Max - you can use your energy in many different ways: you can run faster, be stronger." Another toy movie! Open Road Films has debuted the official US trailer for the Max Steel movie, adapted from one of Mattel's popular line of toys. The movie is about the adventures of teenager Max McGrath, played by Ben Winchell, and his alien companion Steel - when they combine powers they become "Max Steel". The movie also features Josh Brener, Ana Villafane, Andy Garcia, Maria Bello and Mike Doyle. The villain seems to be some other weird alien force that comes after Steel and the people of Earth. This is some serious sci-fi and I'm glad they don't hold back in that aspect, but the rest of it seems a bit too cheesy for my tastes. I have no connection to the toys, but I kind of wish this looked better than it does, but alas what can you do.
"The unknown future rolls toward us. I face it, for the first time, with a sense of hope. Because if a machine, a Terminator, can learn the value of human life, maybe we can too." Get ready for the return of the Terminator movie we all love. James Cameron's 1991 sci-fi classic Terminator 2: Judgement Day is being re-released in theaters in 2017 in 3D. The Facebook page for the T2 movie confirmed and released a poster to go along with the news. If, like me, you went to one of the Universal Studios theme parks as a kid you probably fondly remember the Terminator 2 ride in 3D (called "T2 3-D: Battle Across Time"), pretty much the best use of 3D up until Cameron gave us Avatar. Here's to hoping this 3D conversion is as good.
"Albatross welcomes you. Prepare for docking." Sometimes fans come up with tributes that rival the actual work, and this is a great example of that. This new Star Trek fan film, titled Chasing The Infinite Sky, was released at the end of July timed with the opening of Star Trek Beyond. Created by Albert Martinez entirely in his own spare time, with VFX co-created by Ricardo Elliott, the short is about Captain Storm piloting a new experimental ship called the U.S.S. Albatross. It focuses more on space travel than anything else, inspired by J.J. Abrams' visuals, but it's still seriously impressive and enjoyable to watch even if you're not the biggest Trekkie. There isn't much of a story but that doesn't bother me because it's so nice to look at.
"Guys, it's just my mom!" Today's impressive short film worth watching is called Where You Are, a rather peculiar yet fascinating story about a hide-and-seek game gone awry. The story starts when a mother begins playing a harmless game of hide-and-seek with her son James, but suddenly ends traveling through time trying to find him. Sounds odd, but it's good. I love the way this plays out, just flowing from one moment to the next without much time to figure out what's going on (much like life, right?) yet it's obviously intricately planned out. This is the kind of short film that will make you realize there's still great ideas out there. Enjoy.
"It could have been a wonderful child." 20th Century Fox has released two very creepy new promo trailers to give the original sci-fi movie Morgan one final push before it opens in theaters next week. Kate Mara stars as an expert called in to "determine whether or not to terminate an artificial being's life that was made in a laboratory environment." The cast also features Anya Taylor-Joy as "Morgan", Toby Jones, Rose Leslie, Boyd Holbrook, Michelle Yeoh, Jennifer Jason Leigh & Paul Giamatti. These two trailers start out all nice and happy, looking back at the growing-up stages of this "thing's" life, before it turns evil and goes all psycho on the people from the lab where it's living. Color me intrigued. I really want to see this.
"If I were you, I'd be secretive…" Studiocanal UK has debuted a brand new trailer for the upcoming 40th anniversary re-release of Nicolas Roeg's sci-fi film The Man Who Fell to Earth, starring the late David Bowie as an alien who lands on Earth in hopes of getting water for his dying planet. He starts a technology company to get the billions of dollars he needs to build a return spacecraft, but does not count on the greed and ruthlessness of business here on Earth. The film also stars Candy Clark as Mary-Lou, plus Rip Torn, Buck Henry and Bernie Casey. This is one of this quirky yet totally unique kind of sci-fi cult classics that if you haven't seen yet, now's the perfect time to catch up with it. The mesmerizing score by John Phillips & Stomu Yamashta is also getting released in full (on vinyl, too!) for those interested in grabbing it. Enjoy.