The rumors are true: there is a brand-new video game based on Ripley Scott’s Alien in the works, and this one is keeping it all in the family. After months of whispers and speculation, Alien: Isolation has announced itself with the creepy trailer above, inviting fans to experience an untold story from the Alien mythos, namely the story of Amanda Ripley’s quest to discover what happened to her mother. Yes, Isolation puts players in the role of Ripley’s daughter, first mentioned — and long since dead — early in James Cameron’s Aliens director’s cut. Let’s hope for Amanda’s sake that she’s inherited a knack for outsmarting vicious, acid-blooded xenomorphs.
After the bloated, overwrought mess that is The Chronicles of Riddick, this past summer’s long-gestating follow up, simply titled Riddick, was a welcome sight for fans. The Vin Diesel/David Twohy joint went back to the spare, stripped down style of the first film in the family, Pitch Black, and got away from attempts to cram in every little detail of their fictional universe. World building is great, and a vital part of science fiction, but Chronicles tried to stuff a franchise’s worth of information into a single film, and the result was jumbled and overwhelming. Riddick hits Blu-ray and DVD next Tuesday, January 14, so you can judge for yourself if this was a good move, but before that, you can now watch a free preview of the first ten-minutes.
It took nearly a decade for Diesel and Twohy to get Riddick made. There were tons of starts, stops, and delays. They’d get funding, lose funding, and eventually Diesel put up his own house as collateral and the two pumped a ton of their own capital into their passion project. Moving into the film, many of us wondered how the third installment was going to handle the events of part two. At the end of Chronicles, Riddick kills the Lord Marshal (Colm Feore) and becomes the leader of the Necromongers. This issue is dealt with in short order, just after the introduction you see here.
After a winter hiatus, NBC’s perpetually frustrating post-apocalyptic series Revolution returns to the airwaves tonight. The question: will anybody still be watching? I mean, obviously, some people will be watching. Tons of people watch Two and a Half Men, and if that doesn’t prove that some people will watch anything, I don’t know what does. And since watching Revolution is part of my job, by god I’ll be back on the clock come hell or high water, and I’ll be hoping against hope that these new episodes are where the show finally, fully gets its act together.
Don’t get me wrong, season two has been quite a bit better than most of season one. And they provided answers to what caused the blackout, just as they promised and without dragging things out in a Lost-ian fashion. But even now, the storyline of Aaron (Zak Orth) and his connection to the energy-eating nanoswarm is by far the show’s most interesting plot point. All the stuff involving the evil U.S. government and the presumed revolution of the title is, at least, better than the half a season we initially spent trying to rescue whats-his-name-who-they-killed-anyway, but I still find myself losing interest and realizing and entire act has passed by without me paying attention to what happened. Honestly, if I wasn’t getting paid to watch it and write about it, I think I would have bailed by now. And that’s something I never thought I’d say about a show that has Farscape’s Rockne O’Bannon helping steer the ship.
Awards season is in full swing, with the Academy of Arts and Sciences set to announce its nominees for the 86th Academy Awards on January 16. After a full year of prestige films and CGI-heavy genre movies, we’ll soon find out which films will be honored for their artistic and technical achievements. One of the films that is high on a lot of critics’ and bloggers’ top 10 lists (not mine) is Alfonso Cuarón’s highly successful and technically savvy film Gravity. With the Oscar nominations just around the corner, Warner Bros. is trotting out the space epic for another theatrical run.
Gravity will return to theaters on Friday, January 17, just one day after the Academy announces the 86th Oscar nominees. At the moment, it’s unclear how many theaters will welcome Gravity back, but it’s believed it will be more than with a typical limited release. It’s also unclear how long Gravity will stay in theaters, since it’s slated to hit Blu-ray/DVD on February 25. Gravity has grossed $670.2 million worldwide, so this will be an opportunity for Warner Bros. and Cuarón to make more money from the space epic adventure.
We all know how science fiction works in Hollywood, right? We get maybe one or two really original ideas a year, followed by a handful of clever riffs on worn-out ideas, followed by trope-heavy and badly acted C-movies, which make up the majority of the releases. (Occasionally there will be a few great ideas in terrible movies.) Since fans know we can almost always expect a couple of alien invasion movies in a year’s time, we can only hope that the director getting the job is the best possible one anyone could have hoped for. Mandeville and Good Universe are doing just that with the upcoming invasion film Extinction, which has pulled Captain America: The First Avenger director Joe Johnston in with its tractor beam. If nothing else, we know this film is going to look really damned cool.
Johnston is directing from a script written by Spenser Cohen, who has a couple of as-yet-unproduced action films sold to different studios. The story is being kept secret for now, but it involves a man trying to save his family as an alien invasion unfolds. We’re assuming he’s saving them from the alien invasion, sort of like Steven Spielberg’s take on War of the Worlds, but perhaps it’ll have more of an action-oriented angle, rather than just a bunch of running-away scenes.
With 2013 having slid into the rearview, everyone’s eyes have turned toward the horizon, and to all the interesting science fiction we have to look forward to in 2014. Still, 2013 was a huge year for science fiction at the movies, in quantity if not always in quality. So before we start marking our calendars for what’s to come, we’re going to take one last look back at the year that was…the winners, and the losers.
Warm Bodies (February 1)
$35 million budget; $117 million worldwide box office
Rotten Tomatoes rating: 81%
This first entry will highlight one of the problems inherent in making a list like this. Namely: how do you define success? Purely box office? Critical reaction? General “buzz” surrounding the picture? You could make a strong argument for any or all of those, and the truth is that there isn’t any clear answer. When it comes to Warm Bodies, based on the YA novel by Isaac Marion, I was in the critical minority that didn’t think it was very good. But Rotten Tomatoes has it sitting at 81% Fresh, and its worldwide take of $117 million more than tripled its budget, so regardless of how I feel about it, Warm Bodies has to be considered a win, at least for Summit Entertainment. And they’re welcome to it.