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Eight Sci-Fi Movies You Probably Missed In 2014, And Where You Can See Them

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Last year was a bit of a roller-coaster ride when it came to science fiction movies. There were some triumphs: the insane success of Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy, the surprising awesomeness of Lucy, and the sheer brilliance of Edge of Tomorrow. But there were also disappointments: half of Interstellar, all of Transcendence, and the fact that nobody went to see Edge of Tomorrow. But while high-profile projects such as Guardians, Godzilla, and the Bay-produced Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, there were a ton of smaller projects that may have flown under your radar in the past 12 months or so. Here are some of them worth tracking down.

Automata

In a future where Earth’s ecosystem verges on collapse, man-made robots roam the cities to protect dwindling human life. When a robot overrides a key protocol put in place to protect human life, ROC Robotics insurance agent Jacq Vaucan (Antonio Banderas) is assigned to locate the source of the manipulation and eliminate the threat. What he discovers leads Vaucan, ROC Robotics and the police into a battle with profound consequences for the future of humanity.

Helmed by Spanish director Gabe Ibáñez, Automata released this past October and received mixed reviews. You can check out Automata for free assuming you’re a Netflix Instant subscriber, or you can rent or purchase it via Amazon or iTunes.

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Movie Review: Jodorowsky’s Dune

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Jodorowsky's DuneFor every movie that makes it to screen, there are dozens that die along the way. A producer commissions a screenplay from a screenwriter, then hires a director, and then starts hiring artists and technicians to bring the movie to life…but sometimes it’s not enough. One of the most legendary unmade science fiction movies of all time was Chilean/French director Alejandro Jodorowsky’s film adaptation of Frank Herbert’s best-selling novel Dune in the 1970s, and the story of that project is the subject of an amazing new documentary.

The tale of Jodorowsky’s attempts to adapt Herbert’s science fiction classic is the subject of Frank Pavich’s debut film, Jodorowsky’s Dune. The documentary examines why Jodorowsky took on Dune as his next project after the cult success of El Topo and Holy Mountain, and how he recruited many amazing talents for the project, including Alien screenwriter Dan O’Bannon, Swiss surrealist H. R. Giger, British artist Chris Foss, and French comic artist Jean “Moebius” Giraud.

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Jodorowsky’s Dune Concept Art Includes Brilliant Work By H.R. Giger And Chris Foss

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JodoMoebiusDirector Alejandro Jodorowsky’s legendary attempt to bring Frank Herbert’s Dune to the big screen is one of the great coulda-been stories of science fiction film history. The Chilean-French director spent several years in the 1970s attempting to mount an epic worthy of the Dune name, and one that would have made David Lynch’s eventual version look positively pedestrian. Surrealist artist Salvador Dali would have played Emperor Shaddam Corrino IV, and Orson freakin’ Welles as Baron Harkonnen, a role he was, er, physically well suited to play late in his life. Behind the scenes the talents enlisted were just as impressive: H.R. Giger, French artist Jean “Moebius” Giraud (seen above, right, with Jodorowsky on the left and some sort of S&M superhero in the middle), and iconic British sci-fi cover artist Chris Foss were all going to be on the team, with Pink Floyd providing the music. We may not have gotten to see Jodorowsky’s completed vision, but we are getting an acclaimed documentary exploring it, and in the mean time we’ll have to make do with this amazing concept art from the ill-fated project.

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Jodorowsky’s Dune Trailer Chronicles The Failed Attempt To Adapt A Legend

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In 1965, author Frank Herbert created one of the most in-depth and expansive pieces of science fiction with his novel Dune. The subsequent follow-ups only increased that scope. While the book was considered unfilmable, many directors and producers tried to get Herbert’s world on the big screen before David Lynch made his movie in 1984. One pair o filmmakers who tried to make a film adaptation of Dune was legendary Chilean-French filmmaker Alejandro Jodorowsky and iconic sci-fi producer Arthur P. Jacobs. The film never materialized, but the story became legend, and this new trailer for Jodorowsky’s Dune, introduces you to the troubled unmaking of the sci-fi film.

While Jodorowsky worked on Dune in the mid-70s, the production paved the way for classic science fiction films such as Alien, Blade Runner, and Star Wars. Jacobs was coming off the success of Planet of the Apes in 1968 when he acquired the film rights to Frank Herbert’s novel, while Jodorowsky was also coming off the cult success of El Topo and Holy Mountain. The producer approached the auteur in 1975 with the project.

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Jodorowsky’s Dune Director Talks About Making The Documentary A Reality

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jodorowsky's duneBefore David Lynch directed the 1984 film adaptation of Frank Herbert’s science fiction novel Dune, film producer Arthur P. Jacobs purchased the film rights in 1971. After the success of Planet of the Apes in 1968, Jacobs looked far and wide for the next big science fiction film to take the country by storm. Originally, Jacobs wanted director David Lean to take charge of the Dune film adaptation, but later the project fell into director Alejandro Jodorowsky’s lap.

Coming off the cult success of El Topo and Holy Mountain in 1975, Jodorowsky took on adapting Dune in collaboration with Salvador Dalí, Orson Welles, Gloria Swanson, David Carradine, Geraldine Chaplin, Alain Delon, Hervé Villechaize, H.R. Giger, and Mick Jagger. Jodorowsky wanted to make Dune into a 10-hour epic with music by Pink Floyd, art direction by Jean Giraud (Moebius), and special effects by Dan O’Bannon. Salvador Dalí was cast as Padishah Emperor Shaddam IV of House Corrino, but pre-production dried up due to limited funds.

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Jodorowsky’s Dune Documentary Gets North American Distribution

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jodorowsky's duneWhen it comes to film directors with a track record of disastrously bad luck, Terry Gilliam is probably the greatest example there is. (If anyone else ends up making a Don Quixote film before I die, I’ll be so disappointed.) Gilliam could be joined on that list by French-Chilean filmmaker Alejandro Jodorowsky, but Jodorowsky only had one exceedingly insane potential disaster to his credit: his failed interpretation of Frank Herbert’s best-selling novel Dune. Honestly though, this was such a balls-out project, it does a good job of making Gilliam’s imagination seem tame in comparison.

For anyone unfamiliar with this project’s story, or for those who want a detailed look at it, a celebration is in order, as Sony Pictures Classics has acquired the North American rights to Jodorowsky’s Dune, Frank Pavich’s documentary that chronicles the film’s pre-production excess. It premiered at the Cannes Film Festival in May and was met with highly positive reviews, proving that almost every film, no matter how crazy, deserves somebody’s attention.