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A science-fiction movie doesn’t need a strong visual style with massive special effects in order to win us over here at GFR, but it’s always awesome when they do. I mean, can you imagine what Oblivion would have been like without the spectacle? Eesh. Design-based production company Hydra Entertainment has a central goal of making visually appealing movies, and their next project is a big one. The company has hired Underworld: Rise of the Lycans director Patrick Tatopoulus to helm the sci-fi fantasy epic New Babylon, which gets a little more religious than the things we’re used to covering.
Set in the near future—although for this story’s sake, I don’t know why “future” is even relevant—New Babylon will be something of a modern retelling of the Tower of Babylon tale from the Book of Genesis. It’s set in the Middle East in the midst of a war between angels and demons, leading up to the construction of an updated Tower. I know what you’re thinking: What? Why would angels and demons be messing around the Middle East, and why would anyone want to build a new Tower, seeing as how humanity is about as splintered as it’s ever been in the history of the planet?
This isn’t in our wheelhouse, as we rarely even talk about Syfy‘s demonic upcoming series Dominion here. But Deadline called it sci-fi, and they’re usually about as dependable as it gets. My guess is, someone in the movie has invented some advanced take on an existing product, like a bluetooth-enabled blender, and that’ll be the entire sci-fi element to the story.
Whatever our reservations about how the story will turn out, New Babylon will definitely look fantastic. Tatopoulos, whom you might recognize from appearances on Syfy’s make-up design competition Face Off, has been all over the industry for around 20 years, taking part in creating some of our favorite films. As production designer on films like Independence Day and Dark City—and Zack Snyder’s upcoming Batman vs. Superman movie—Tatopoulos was also a character designer for all three Riddick films, I Am Legend, and I, Robot, among others. Sure, he’d worked on some stinkers like the new Total Recall and Alien vs. Predator, but it’s nothing that can’t be forgiven.
Ahem. He was the Godzilla designer and supervisor for Roland Emmerich’s 1998 disaster. Can we find a rug big enough to sweep that fun fact beneath?
The visual element is also strengthened by Hydra itself, who will work closely with screenwriter newcomer David LoPresti on the script. The concept comes from Joshua Wassung, co-founder of pre-visualization studio The Third Floor, whose members serve as Hydra’s front team. (The principals include Maleficent director Robert Stromberg, Avatar production designer Dylan Cole, and comic artist Mark Morretti.) The point here is to infuse the scripting process with on the spot visualizations in order to develop the story and look of the film at the same time. We’ll have to wait and see just how successful that process is. And I know just the place where we can get a good view…