Tuesday, April 26, 2011

The White Gazelle

Made in 1981 this film featured in Cinemagic Magazine, made by 3 brothers Tony,Joe and Mike Laudati, the film won a Student Academy Award and landed Tony a job at ILM animating on the films Cocoon, Explorers and Young Sherlock Holmes.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Robots that I like # 4

Running from 1980-81 Starfleet (X-Bomber) and was broadcast on ITV during the Saturday morning kids shows. PPA (Perfectly Programmed Android) was the X-Bomber's robot, voiced here in the UK by actor John Baddeley, who had also provided voices for Asterix and Obelix vs Caesar,The Dark Crystal and The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy. PPA was there mainly to provide comic relief and tended to class the rest of the crew as inferior to himself.

Click the Starfleet logo to se the shows opening credits !

Cerulean teaser trailer

Trailer for Allen Etter's Cerulean that I'm doing some spaceship work on !!

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Commando 2: Die Hard

Read the other day that Die Hard was originally pitched to Arnold Schwarzenegger as Commando 2. The screenplay by by De Souza and Frank Darabont was based on the Roderick Thorp novel 'Nothing Lasts Forever' which featured detective Joe Leland visiting his daughter at her place of work the Klaxon Oil Corporation in Los Angeles, while there terrorists take over the building and Joe fights off the terrorists one by one with the aid of Sgt Powell ans LAPD officer who is outside the tower block. Schwarzenegger who had just done Conan the Destroyer wanted to avoid yet another sequel as he had not got favourable reviews from his Conan sequel.
In the final movie Joe Leland became John McClane (Bruce Willis) and his daughters character was changed over into his wife.

Other than that the story of the novel is pretty much what was filmed I have read, including a lot of the dialogue.'Nothing Lasts Forever' was the 2nd outing for Joe Leland having appeared in Thorp's other book 'The detective' which was made into the 1968 film of the same name featuring Frank Sinatra as the title character.

Interestingly the year before, Schwarzenegger had worked with Die Hard director John McTiernan on Predator, so he could have quite easily ended up being John McClane if things had been different, I wonder if I'd have liked Die Hard as much with Arnie ? Probably not !!

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Scenes I love...scenes I hate ! #2

The scene I love is from Christophe Gans Brotherhood of the Wolf (2001) were Grégoire de Fronsac (Samuel Le Bihan) Mani (Mark Dacascos) and Thomas d'Apcher (Jérémie Renier) attempt to catch the Beast with a series of traps they have set up. I loved this film when I first seen it back in 2001, and this scene really gripped me, doesn't quite have the same impact now on DVD but it's still a superb action sequence even on the small screen !

The scene I hate is from a film I love, Die Hard (1988) I think everything in the film works for me, but then like that awful shot at the end of Robocop of Dick Jones falling from the window, Die Hard suddenly has one really shit scene,Karl (Alexander Godunov) who we last seen at the top of the 35 story building hanging with a chain around his neck suddenly appears right next to a Policeman from under some kind of tarp to exact his revenge on John McClane (Bruce Willis), now I've read that he was getting helped out by a Policeman pretending to be one of the hostages, but it doesn't come across that way in the film, besides how many Policeman help hostages carrying an assault rifle ? What makes it worse is we hear some of James Horner's Aliens music over the scene !!! I think the scene was tagged on just so Sgt. Al Powell (Reginald Vel Johnson) could get to use his gun !! Mind you, the entire film of Die Hard 4 was as shit as this scene !!

Friday, April 8, 2011

Thunderbirds 2086 Intro

Used to enjoy this cartoon back in the day even though it was nothing like the original Thunderbirds. ITC Entertainment who produced the Gerry Anderson show did the dub on this although Gerry and Sylvia Anderson were not involved.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Robots that I like # 3

As a kid I loved the cartoon series The Space Sentinels, the spaceship which they used for there base had a small maintenance robot called Mo. Voiced by series Producer Lou Scheimer, Mo was there to provide comic relief against Sentinel One who was in charge of the 3 sentinels, Hercules, Astrea and Mercury. I think I like Mo because he falls in to the same type of category as robots like the Drones from Silent Running, R2-D2 from Star Wars and later Wall-E from the Pixar film of the same name.

Anyway click on the small picture to take you to a You Tube link for Space Sentinels.

The picture below is a CG model of Mo that I made a few years back, not really a great deal of decent photos of him online.

Monday, April 4, 2011

Lifeforce (1985)

Tobe Hooper made 3 films in the 1980's for Yoram Globus and Menahem Golan's Cannon Films.Invaders from Mars and The Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2 were part of that deal, the other was a Sci-Fi film based on the novel The Space Vampires by Colin Wilson.With a screenplay by Alien writer Dan O'Bannon and Don Jakoby, Lifeforce was the first film of the 3 he shot, budgeted at $25m the movie was shot on location here in the UK. The film deviated from the source novel which is set in 2100 AD, the crew of a spaceship find a giant derelict spaceship, on board they find 2 males and a female in suspended animation, on return to Earth they turn out to be energy vampires who suck the 'lifeforce' from their victims.
The movie set on Earth in present day has an alien spaceship discovered by the crew of the space shuttle Churchill in the coma of Halley's Comet. The Churchill find the bodies in glass cases and return them to the ship, later when Earth loses contact with the crew of the shuttle a 2nd rescue mission is sent up, they find the ship gutted and it's crew dead, only the glass coffins with their occupants survive, these are returned to Earth to the European Space Research Centre in London. Tom Carlsen one of the Churchill's crew is found in Texas having ejected from the ship in an escape pod, he is brought to London. The female from the alien ship escapes sucking the 'lifeforce' from a security guard.Dr Leonard Bukovski and Dr Hans Fallada with the help of Tom Carlsen must find the female who is now moving through various host bodies.

Of course most people may recall Lifeforce for one reason, that being the fact that the space girl played by Mathilda May walks around for a fair bit of the movie in the nude. The film starred Steve Railsback, Michael Gothard,Peter Firth, Patrick Stewart and Frank Finlay in a role that was originally going to be played by Klaus Kinski. As a film being shot in the UK it has a very Quatermass feel to it at times, and although not very well received at the time I think people have warmed to it over the years.John Dykstra (Star Wars) handled the Visual FX, and I know he speaks in Cinefex Magazine about problems they had with the composite work and how unhappy he was with the final shots in some cases, Make-up FX were created primarily by Nick Maley and his crew. There are some pretty cool Make-up FX for the time involving the 'lifeforce' being sucked out of the victims and a brief glimpse of the Vampire creatures in their true form (bottom row on the pictures 2nd in)
James Horner was originally asked to score the film before Henry Mancicni was brought in, in the US Domestic print Michael Kamen was asked to write some additional music cues.
The $25m budget Lifeforce didn't fare well at the Worldwide Box Office, grossing only $11.5m. The US DVD release featured additional scenes, mainly with British actor Michael Ball on board the space shuttle Churchill.

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Robots that I like # 2

First appearing in the 1956 movie Forbidden Planet Robby the Robot soon became a Sci-Fi icon. His appearances in other films and TV shows are to numerous to mention, but some key ones are The Monkees,Wonder Woman, Mork and Mindy, Gremlins, Looney Tunes: Back in Action and The Simpsons.

Robby was designed by Robert Kinoshita and was built by the MGM props department for a reported cost of $125,000

Click the picture above for a You Tube video about the history of Robby the Robot

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Solar Crisis (1990)

Solar Crisis is a film based on the novel by Takeshi Kawata. The film itself cost around $55m yet was given a very limited cinema release. Solar Crisis ended up as an Alan Smithee movie, the real director being Richard C. Sarafian.

Plot Summary from IMDB

A huge solar flare is predicted to fry the Earth. Astronauts must go to the Sun to drop a talking bomb (Freddy) at the right time so the flare will point somewhere else. Giant IXL Corp CEO Teague thinks the flare won't happen and wants the mission to fail so he can buy the planet cheaply while the scare lasts. Employee Haas prepares a surprise for the astronauts. While daddy Steve Kelso commands the space ship where temperatures rise, granddaddy Admiral Skeet Kelso is searching the desert for grandson Mike who's gone AWOL to say goodbye to his dad but who inadvertently crossed the path of the guys from IXL after meeting desert-dweller.

All in all Solar Crisis is a real mess of a movie, produced by Visual FX legend Richard Edlund and starring Tim Matheson,Charlton Heston,Peter Boyle,Jack Palance and Annabel Schofield, the film at times seems like two separate plots, the stuff on Earth seems far removed from what's happening in space. The 2007 film Sunshine follows a very similar premise about carrying a payload to the sun. The movies FX are hit and miss, being from the pre-digital era most of the spaceship work uses optical compositing techniques which suffer a fair bit from matte lines around the miniatures. The voice of the bomb 'Freddy' was provided by Paul Williams who wrote music for Bugsy Malone, The Muppets and starred and wrote The Phantom of the Paradise. I picked up this move for less that 2 quid a few years back now purely out of interest because I'd read about it's production problems, after watching it makes me wonder just how does such a big budget movie for it's time get so badly out of control !?

Robots that I like # 1

Probably my favourite robot/robots of all time are the 3 Drones from the 1972 SF Film Silent Running directed by Douglas Trumbull, Huey, Dewey and Louie. A superbly simple design and a forerunner to R2-D2. In the film they were manned by four multiple-amputee actors: Mark Persons, Steve Brown, Cheryl Sparks, and Larry Whisenhunt.

The supeb models of the 3 Drones above are made here by www.destinymodels.co.uk

Click the above picture to see Dewey's final scene in the movie, if you've never seen Silent Running you might want to watch it first as this is the end scene !