"I always knew this day would come… A new beginning. And yet - new enemies would be forged. A line would be crossed…" Oats Studios and BioWare have launched an official live-action video game trailer titled Conviction, promoting the upcoming release of Anthem - which arrives on shelves next week. This trailer is made by Neill Blomkamp, and that's the main reason we're featuring it - because it's basically another new Oats Studios live-action short film and he's still coming up with badass sci-fi concepts. Conviction is a survival story set in the world of Anthem, decades before the events of the game. Most of the exosuits look CGI, but there's still tons of live-action footage in this and it's always cool to see. There's references to Mad Max: Fury Road, and Destiny, and tons of other great sci-fi. I'm a big fan of these live-action trailers. Enjoy.
In 2007, following her breakout performance in Michael Bay's Transformers, Megan Fox was set to star in her next project, a Rogue Pictures horror-thriller produced by Bay. Then called Half to Death, the project was pitched as Groundhog Day meets Scream, with the script following a college freshman who must relive the day of her murder over and over again, stuck in a time loop that will end only when she discovers the killer's identity. For reasons unknown, the studio decided not to move on with the project. A decade later, Blumhouse Productions revived the long-gestating project with director Christopher Landon and actress Jessica Rothe. Now titled Happy Death Day, the horror comedy was a surprise hit, grossing $125 million worldwide on a small $4.8 million budget. A sequel was inevitable after that kind of success. Enter Happy Death Day 2U, an inventive and entertaining follow-up that expands upon the first in nearly every way.
"Will they be human?" "They will be superhuman!" Vertical Entertainment has debuted the first full trailer for a high concept, low budget sci-fi thriller titled Chimera Strain, the directorial debut of newcomer Maurice Haeems. This premiered at a few smaller film festivals last year, and is arriving on VOD this March. Henry Ian Cusick stars as a "brilliant but disturbed scientist" who decides to freeze his kids, in order to develop the cure their deadly genetic disease by decoding the DNA of the immortal Turritopsis jellyfish. It explores our fascination with immortality and all-consuming obsession with understanding our genetics. Also starring Kathleen Quinlan, Erika Ervin, Jenna Harrison, Karishma Ahluwalia, and Jennifer Gjulameti. This looks pretty cool, he's playing with some big ideas - I just hope it lives up to its potential.
"There's been some kind of anomaly. The crew has vanished. Can you resist?" For die-hard Trekkies only. A new Star Trek fan film has finally launched, after nearly six years in development. Star Trek: Temporal Anomaly is a feature-length (two part) fan film made by Samuel Cockings, described as a "love letter to all of Star trek! The first fan film to combine all of the eras into one project." This throwback to Trek series of past brings various timelines together into one story. It was originally funded on Kickstarter back in 2013, and has been in the works ever since. "From using antiquated video game engines for the space visual effects and green screen sets, to spending hundreds of hours learning the very same VFX software they made the space effects in Voyager/Enterprise/DS9." It's finally available to watch for those who want to check it out. But beware - this is old school Trek, with sketchy acting and even sketchier sets. But it is a true labor of love.
It's time to meet your new Mother. There's a surprise, original sci-fi film premiering at the Sundance Film Festival this year titled I Am Mother, an impressive creation that is worth your time if you're a sci-fi geek like me. I really love that there's original, epic sci-fi projects like this being made out there without us even knowing, getting funded somehow, with the ability to go all-out with crazy ideas and make something new and unique. Then the film shows up at Sundance and while it's an odd fit for the festival, I'm still all for it, bring on the sci-fi goodness, please. It's best to see this film knowing as little as possible, so I won't reveal anything major and only give a fairly vague description. All you really need to know is this sci-fi film packs a punch, plays around with some big ideas, and features a crazy cool practical robot built by Weta Workshop.
Indian-American filmmaker M. Night Shyamalan first gained major acclaimed for his 1999 supernatural horror drama The Sixth Sense. That film was a commercial and critical success and was nominated for six Academy Awards, including Best Picture, Best Director and Best Original Screenplay. His next big feature released in 2000, the ambitious Unbreakable, kickstarted the modern comic book movie boom alongside Bryan Singer's X-Men, also released the same year. Shyamalan's Unbreakable, which co-stars Willis and Samuel L. Jackson, is a serious-minded deconstruction of the superhero subgenre before movies like Sam Raimi's Spider-Man, Jon Favreau's Iron Man, and Christopher Nolan's The Dark Knight trilogy made it the industry mainstay it is today. He finally follows up this with Glass, continuing the story 19 years later.
Surprise! Sony Pictures has revealed that filmmaker Jason Reitman has been secretly working on a brand new Ghostbusters movie, officially set for release in the summer of 2020. To go along with the reveal of this news, they've released a very short teaser trailer that Reitman himself shot. It's nothing much, just a re-reveal of the original Ecto-1 hiding out waiting to be found again. Jason is the son of Ivan Reitman, who directed the original two Ghostbusters movies back in 1984 and 1989. Jason tweeted out yesterday: "Finally got the keys to the car." The cast and details on the new movie have not been revealed, only to say that it will continue with the storyline from the first two (and skip right over Paul Feig's female-Ghostbusters movie from 2016). "This is the next chapter in the original franchise. It is not a reboot. What happened in the ‘80s happened in the ‘80s, and this is set in the present day." Can't wait to find out more about this. Check it out.
"Break the laws of nature, and you'll pay for it." A24 has finally unveiled their own full-length trailer for the indie sci-fi film High Life, the latest from acclaimed French filmmaker Claire Denis (Beau Travail, 35 Shots of Rum, White Material, Bastards). This low budget, "eerily sexy" sci-fi space drama premiered at the Toronto Film Festival, and is also playing at the New York and Sitges Film Festivals last year. The story is about a man, as played by Robert Pattinson, stuck on a spaceship heading to a distant star. He tries to interact with the rest of the crew who are slowly going mad on the long voyage. Reactions from the festivals have been divisive, with extreme love and hate for this super artistic, slow burn sci-fi drama. The full cast includes Juliette Binoche, André Benjamin, Mia Goth, Lars Eidinger, Agata Buzek, and Claire Tran. If you've been curious about this, check it out - it is considerably weird and wacky and very cerebral.
"Managing your attention effectively is key. The aim is to achieve a laser focus…" Now this is something different. Merger is a 360-degree sci-fi short film (meaning you can interact / move the camera as it plays) made by by London-based designer and architect Keiichi Matsuda, who was also behind the trippy short film Hyper-Reality. "Set against the backdrop of AI-run corporations, a tele-operator finds herself caught between virtual and physical reality, human and machine. As she fights for her economic survival, she finds herself immersed in the cult of productivity, in search of the ultimate interface. This short film documents her last 4 minutes on earth." Starring Sarah Winter. I wanted to feature this short because it's so unique and cool and thought-provoking, not only technically but narratively about what our future might look like.
"It is in our soul to seek life no matter what." Netflix has unveiled the first official trailer for an indie sci-fi thriller titled IO, or just Io - the name of Jupiter's moon, from director Jonathan Helpert. Set in the "near future" the story follows a young scientist named Sam, one of the last survivors on a post-cataclysmic Earth, who is dedicated to finding a way for humans to adapt and survive on this planet, rather than abandon their world. But with the final shuttle scheduled to leave the planet for a distant colony, her determination to stay is rocked by the arrival of another survivor, Micah. She must decide whether to journey with him to join the rest of humanity and begin life anew, or stay to fight for Earth’s survival. Aw. It's a bit like Wall-E, but with humans and not only robots. Margaret Qualley stars with Anthony Mackie, plus the voice of Danny Huston. This has a cool concept, and has some cool shots, I just hope it's better than the usual Netflix fare.
"You pick your facades, yet?" This isn't so much science fiction, more science reality, because we're closer than ever to this technology actually existing. But it's still fun to see them play with this technology concept in a short film anyway. Face Swap is a fun short film made by filmmakers David Gidali & Einat Tubi, inspired by (and utilizing) the "deepfakes" AI technology from the internet. It's the same tech that Jordan Peele use to create his infamous Obama speech. A couple decides to try out the Face Swap service, choosing Rachel McAdams and George Clooney as their temporary "fantasy" personas. The short (actually) stars Troy Caylak, Megan Gray, and Noelle Urbano. This is another cautionary tale, of course, but it's also a mesmerizing and clever look at where technology is taking us - and some of the worrisome implications of it.
"We both know the truth - the Moon is not going to be here for long." The fight isn't over yet… A brand new trailer has debuted for the long-awaited, delayed-for-years sci-fi sequel Iron Sky: The Coming Race, which has been in the works since 2014. We ran a teaser trailer for this way back in 2014, but they've been struggling to get it finished for the last five years. Now it's done and ready to go - The Coming Race will be released in Europe over the next few months, but still no US release set yet. The plot is just as absurd as the first Iron Sky - the Nazis are back after lying dormant in a secret base on the Moon, now they're attacking with an army of ancient shapeshifting reptilians riding dinosaurs. Starring Julia Dietze, Götz Otto, Udo Kier, Christopher Kirby, Tilo Brückner, Peta Sergeant, & Stephanie Paul. After such a long delay I don't have high hopes for this, but maybe it is the perfect slice of absurd cinema we need right now. Or not.