By Jason Apuzzo. Now that the election is over, I thought it would be a good time to introduce a new feature here at Libertas that I’ve been contemplating for some time: Invasion Alerts!
As regular readers know, for the past several months we’ve been covering the massive new wave of politically-charged ‘alien invasion’ projects that will be unleashed on moviegoers over the next several years. This wave was just kicked off this past week with Gareth Edwards’ Monsters (see our review here), and will be continuing through next week’s Skyline, and is guaranteed to proceed at least through James Cameron’s second Avatar sequel, which is currently slated for 2015. There will be a lot of projects in between those dates – and some potentially gigantic ones even beyond 2015, although you’ll need to keep reading to find out more about those …
Based on recent developments such as, for example, Roland Emmerich’s announcement from last week of his own alien invasion project, The Zone – and a multitude of other projects that we’ve already documented here – I’ve decided that there will be more than enough material coming out of this genre in coming days to warrant its own, special feature here at Libertas. So today, the day after the election, we’re going to kick off this feature with our first Invasion Alert!
Why link this feature to yesterday’s election, one might ask? In brief, because I think Hollywood – as well as the indie film scene – has been channeling a lot of the anxieties on display yesterday well in advance of the election. To put matters simply, the country currently feels like it’s under siege – like it’s being invaded – from forces on the outside (terrorism), and from within (political radicalism). And so it should come as no surprise that filmmakers as otherwise different as, say, Michael Bay and Tim Burton would currently be contemplating (or already shooting) alien invasion films of one kind or another.
But there’s another reason, as well: I think that explicitly ‘political’ cinema in America is currently dead – to the extent it was ever alive, to begin with. And so a lot of political ideas are getting channeled into mainstream science fiction.
Yet there’s more going on here than filmmakers simply resorting to the ’safe’ medium of science fiction in order to make potentially controversial statements; indeed, I actually think science fiction films are currently ahead of the curve in predicting certain developments in our culture, rather than behind it.
I say this because it seems to me that the really big changes coming in our society, changes much larger than what happened yesterday, haven’t really taken place yet … but are only going to happen once the Baby Boomers finally ease into their retirement, at which point a major reckoning is going to take place with respect to their legacy. That reckoning – which will have financial, cultural and even geo-political aspects to it – is unlikely to be pretty. This, in essence, is the major ‘revelation’ that I expect these new science fiction films to contain: that our American future is highly precarious, and fraught with perils not imagined since the 1930s.
I’ll have more to say about this in days ahead, but let’s get on with our alerts, shall we?
One final point: the fact that the most attractive women in the industry tend to work in this genre has absolutely nothing to do with my deciding to do these alerts. Nothing whatsoever. More or less.
• As you probably know by now, James Cameron has finally committed to his two Avatar sequels – likely to be shot simultaneously – which are now scheduled for release in 2014 and 2015, respectively. No surprises here, but this also effectively puts that Angelina Jolie 3D Cleopatra on hold (poor Cleopatra, scorned again!). Incidentally, if you’re interested in reading a review of Stacy Schiff’s Cleopatra biography – which the film would be based on – you can catch the Wall Street Journal’s review of the book here. I’m not really thrilled by Schiff’s approach, frankly. In other Cameron news, he may have found a director for his Fantastic Voyage remake – Louis Leterrier, who did the abysmal Clash of the Titans remake. That would be a horrible decision, after what that guy did to deface Ray Harryhausen’s classic.
• The J.J. Abrams/Steven Spielberg Super 8 has a release date: June 10th, 2011. Circle that date on your calendar, because that film should really be interesting. I’m expecting something like a nasty version of E.T.
• Skyline is coming out next week, and a bunch of clips have leaked on-line (see here and here). You can also hear an interview with the Strause brothers here. Interestingly, the movie is not being screened for critics. Does that guarantee that the film isn’t any good? No, but it likely means that the film’s word-of-mouth (which is generally good) probably can’t be improved any by getting the critics involved. We’ll know by next week …
• Speaking of alien invasions, the first season of ABC’s V reboot is out on DVD and Blu-ray this week. And while we’re at it, feel free to pre-order the newly restored/’complete’ Metropolis 2-disc DVD set.
• As I mentioned above, Roland Emmerich has now committed to doing a low-budget ($5 million) ‘found-footage’ take on the alien invasion theme, called The Zone. Needless to say, this represents a major departure from his huge-scale Independence Day (which still may get sequels) … yet I wonder whether Emmerich is reading the handwriting on the wall here, and noticing how much can be done visually on a modest budget. Interestingly, Emmerich is currently working on Anonymous, a political thriller set in the time of Queen Elizabeth I.
• With Steven Spielberg having committed to doing Robocalypse, there’s some potential consternation at Dreamworks because Tim Burton may also be doing Monsterpocalypse there, as well. Robocalypse is about a massive robot uprising; Burton’s film (which he hasn’t yet committed to do) would involve robots being used to combat a massive alien invasion. My advice? Combine both stories into MonsterRobocalypto in which robots and aliens join forces to battle Mel Gibson – and release it as a video game.
• As I predicted, Noomi Rapace is apparently Ridley Scott’s favored lead actress for his Alien prequel. He obviously wants to go dark with this film, as he did on the original.
• You can check out a new video interview with the cast of The Thing here.
• Based on this current rumor, I’m betting that the new villains of the next Star Trek film are going to be … the Talosians, a cool and sinister alien race from the original Star Trek TV pilot The Cage of long ago … which would be a great choice, precisely for being so old-school. In any case, it does not look like Khan will be appearing, which is probably just as well, as we’ll be spared somebody trying (and failing) to duplicate what Ricardo Montalban did.
• Monsters’ Gareth Edwards talks here about his next project, which will be similarly sci-fi related; plus, he also does a new interview here about Monsters. Some people other than me are already commenting, by the way, on the obviousness of the politics in Monsters; Edwards’ political intentions for the film are quite obvious and on-the-nose, which is part of the film’s problem.
• The sci-fi project that’s currently everywhere, though, taking up all the oxygen in the room, is clearly Disney’s Tron. Daft Punk’s “Derezzed” music video just got released (see here), and there are 2 new clips (see here and here) and a new ad – all of which are revealing different aspects of the film … and none of which are relieving my concerns that the film is going to be vapid, if gorgeous to look at. Plus, some people have already seen 20 minutes of the film (the same 20 minutes that Disney is about to preview in 3D IMAX theaters) and are already expressing concerns that the film seems too dour in tone. I don’t know. I’m currently assuming that this film is going to be shiny on the outside, insipid on the inside. I’m hoping I’m wrong about that.
• If piranha invasions are more your thing than alien invasions … check out the specs on the forthcoming 3D Blu-ray release of Piranha 3D. Must. own. this. disc!
• AND I’VE SAVED THE BEST NEWS ITEM FOR LAST. This would, of course, be the ultimate rumor of all-time … if true: there’s some chatter that after all these years George Lucas may, indeed, be contemplating doing a third Star Wars trilogy, which would be set after the events of Return of the Jedi – but likely not involve the Skywalker family at all. [IESB, the source on this rumor, has been pretty good on these things.] The idea would apparently be to have the first film of this new trilogy ready for release sometime after Return of the Jedi 3D comes out, likely around 2015 or 2016. [Incidentally, there's another hot rumor right now that the Indiana Jones series is about to be converted to 3D, as well.] As this current Star Wars rumor goes, George has apparently been energized by the success the Clone Wars animated series, the Star Wars video games and also the huge success of Avatar.
This rumor makes a certain amount of sense, and I’ll discuss this whole matter further in another Invasion Alert! down the line … If true this new trilogy could represent the topper of this whole genre.
• AND IN TODAY’S MOST IMPORTANT NEWS … I thought we’d take a look at Rosie Huntington-Whiteley, in this photo (above) from the set of Michael Bay’s forthcoming alien invasion sequel, Transformers 3. Do the glasses work for you? They work for me. And from her badge, the pretty Ms. Whiteley (Megan Fox’s replacement in the new film) appears to work at The White House, which is currently under a different form of ‘invasion’ today – the kind involving angry Democrats who just received their pink slips …
And that’s what’s happening today on the Alien Invasion Front.
[UPDATE: Special thanks to the LA Times' Patrick Goldstein for commenting on this post today, and really engaging the ideas here. I'll respond to Patrick's thoughtful analysis in LFM's next Invasion Alert!]
Posted on November 3rd, 2010 at 2:57pm.