by Quendrith Johnson, Los Angeles Correspondent This opener from ONLY THE BRAVE’s official notes says it best: “All men are created equal… then, a few become firefighters.” Josh Brolin stars with Miles Teller to bring the Granite Mountain fire epic to life. Expect this movie to drop Oct. 20, when the summer heat is gone. […]
by Quendrith Johnson, Los Angeles Correspondent
What is it with ‘ripped from the alt-news headlines’ movie plots lately? KONG: SKULL ISLAND has a hollow earth slash reptilian b-story, even a CIA mind control “Monarch” reference on a briefcase. Now LIFE, starring Ryan Reynolds and Jake Gyllenhaal, has a waterborne microbe from Mars mass-extinction horror twist.While scary stories about hostile life on Mars is a running theme since B-movies in the 50’s, this one has some actual science to back it up.
LIFE, directed by Daniel Espinosa, touts the fact that the producers and writers consulted with “astrobiologists and space medicine experts,” one of whom is Dr. Kevin Fong. “Space is an extreme environment, like any of the extreme environments we’ve attempted to conquer in the 20th century – deserts, polar ice caps, our highest mountains,” Fong explained. “What we know about extreme environments is that you can’t go there for long and it’s not without penalty. You come back literally less than the person you were.”
“It’s hard enough to stay alive up there on a routine mission when everything goes right. When things start to go wrong, people start to die off pretty quickly.” These cheery words underscore his experience as an astrophysicist and MD who’s worked on NASA’s Human Adaptation and Countermeasures Office at Johnson Space Center in Houston, meaning he is a medical expert on keeping folks alive and kicking in space.
No offense to the astro-geniuses, but frankly movie stars can explain a movie better.
In typical Jake Gyllenhaal extreme-character mode, he plays International Space Station denizen David Jordan, who’s already clocked 473 days afloat in outer space. “It was a beautifully paced, terrifying script. It’s a fun idea. You think you know where it’s going, and then it evolves into something where you really, really don’t,” he added. “The life form is literal, but it’s also an incredible metaphor for what can happen. Curiosity is one of the most important human traits, but I think searching too far can be full of hubris. In that way, the life form is a repercussion for that kind of curiosity.”
“My grandfather was a doctor,” Gyllenhaal shared, “and Daniel and I talked about the similarities in my character to my grandfather. It’s a bit of an homage to him.”
Next some newcomers join the freaky plot, and things get terrifying as a look for proof of life on Mars backfires. Naturally the movie includes a requisite CDC, Centers for Disease Control, rep. This one comes in the form of Rebecca Ferguson, as Miranda North. “Miranda is a microbiologist sent up to protect everyone on Earth from whatever this is that we find,” Ferguson explained.
Her character puts up some “firewalls” against extra-terrestrial contamination. “The firewall is, first, the container that the specimen was in. And then the room. And then the station itself. She has to do whatever she can do to protect Earth, because we don’t know what this life form is.” No, it’s not a gimmicky ‘life form,’ either.
Producer Julie Lynn nailed it best on that front. “We didn’t want the life form to be a person in a suit or a puppet. We wanted it to be something that could evolve from a cellular piece, a tiny cell. It’s not that it comes out with an intent to do harm; it is its own creature, and it is affected by what happens to it.”
Rebecca Ferguson spins it as a relationship game with the pathogen. “We all have our own relationship to this creature. Some of us love it, we nurture it. Some of us want to kill it off in the beginning. And that creates an incredible tension in the group,” she said.
Ryan Reynolds rounds it out with, “this script had such a degree of reality and a feeling of constant tension,” that he reteamed with his DEADPOOL writing pals Rhett Reese and Paul Wernick, to ratchet up the stakes. Coincidentally, Reynolds also went back to the well with his SAFE HOUSE director Daniel Espinosa.
Having worked well with Reynolds, Espinosa is also super excited about LIFE. “I think the reason so many great directors have walked into science fiction is to work with the unknown — the fear or fascination with the unknown,” he said. “We live in a world that is quite mundane, but in space, you enter an adventure – you don’t know how it looks, how it feels, what it can do to you, where it is. It doesn’t make a sound. That’s terrifying.”
Whatever the hell LIFE’s monster is in this case, the SAFE HOUSE director made it even scarier when he added that “this script felt more like a realistic science fiction. Maybe science reality.” Picture waking up ’50,000-year-old microbes’ inside crystalline hibernation on Mars, that is. Or, in movie critic shorthand, the DNA from amber plot device from Jurassic Park, but with super-freaky outer space Martian microbial goo meets Alien. Sorry for the gross oversimplification but this helps put your fears to rest, folks, because it’s only a movie. We hope. Alternative news purveyors might spin it as a doomsday scenario for planet Earth, lol. LIFE, go see it before it happens. It opens Mar. 24, brought to you by Skydance and SONY (Columbia). Interestingly, Megan Ellison’s brother David Ellison is listed as a producer. The film has bowed in Berlin, Moscow, Paris, and at SXSW in Austin, Texas last week. [Most of the photos included are from SXSW premiere.] See their official website for showtimes and venues. Hahtag #LIFEMOVIE
Rhett Reese & Paul Wernick
Vicki Dee Rock
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SCREENMANCER KATE BECKINSALE ALERT – During a press roundtable for Whit Stillman’s latest movie LOVE & FRIENDSHIP, where Kate Beckinsale just kills it in a Jane Austen-themed reboot as devious Lady Susan, she was asked about her Burmese heritage. If you didn’t know, Beckinsale is one-eighth Burmese. There are so many things people don’t know about UK native Beckinsale (besides her huge male gaming fan base!). Perhaps the most remarkable gift is her incredible inner steel and staying power in an industry that is very tough on women, especially in action roles. This accounts for the success of her run as Underworld’s franchise-fronter Selene. And in the newest installment, she gets to go fang-to-fang with HBO’s “Game of Thrones” heavy Charles Dance. (You know, the one Tyrion killed with a crossbow whilst on the privy.)
So, without further backstory on the Other Kate (not Winslet or Blanchett), here is the storyline. This installment of the blockbuster franchise, UNDERWORLD: BLOOD WARS follows Vampire death dealer, Selene (Kate Beckinsale) as she fends off brutal attacks from both the Lycan clan and the Vampire faction that betrayed her. With her only allies, David (Theo James) and his father Thomas (Charles Dance), she must stop the eternal war between Lycans and Vampires, even if it means she has to make the ultimate sacrifice. Sounds exhausting, right? Expect Kate Beckinsale to continue her tireless march toward the finish line in this franchise. And the recognition she deserves as a very talented shape-shifter who can go from playing tough-talking screen legend Ava Gardner (AVIATOR) to TOTAL RECALL’s remake assassin and back to Selene, this sleek fanged one.
The director (Anna Foerster) on this one is a woman, an added plus for a female action starrer. We’re early on Blood Wars, the release date isn’t until Jan. 6, 2017, but Beckinsale is so fun to watch, and listen to, with that great narration going on.
Other Cool Things About Her
Kate’s Tweet Frequency
The Movie Trailer, Coming Soon…
Kyle Ward and Cory Goodman
Based on Characters Created by:
Kevin Grevioux and Len Wiseman
& Danny McBride
and Charles Dance
SCREENMANCER is a gathering place for people who make movies and want to see Kate Beckinsale get her due.
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SCREENMANCER SIGNS & SYMBOLS ALERT – Almost Halloween, Oct. 28 to be precise, is the perfect time for David Koepp’s screen version of Dan Brown’s Da Vinci Code follow-up, INFERNO. Koepp, who is also a director, steps back into the screenwriter role for Brian Grazer and Ron Howard‘s IMAGINE production company. Today they had a photo call for Columbia Pictures in Italy, and everybody turned out looking pretty chill, which has nothing to do with the high-intensity plot and world-breaking storyline. What’s it about? Glad you asked.
So we’ve got Symbologist Tom Hanks with British Import Felicity Jones, nominated last year for THEORY OF EVERYTHING. After white-haired SULLY, Hanks is back in black, on the trail of a super villain who plans to mess up everyone’s DNA. Okay, that’s an oversimplification. Ben Foster and Omar Sy (Intouchables) also star. (Isn’t Ben Foster usually cast as a bad guy?) Let’s have the official version, please…
Academy Award® winner Ron Howard returns to direct the latest bestseller in Dan Brown’s (Da Vinci Code) billion-dollar Robert Langdon series, Inferno, which finds the famous symbologist (again played by Tom Hanks) on a trail of clues tied to the great Dante himself. When Langdon wakes up in an Italian hospital with amnesia, he teams up with Sienna Brooks (Felicity Jones), a doctor he hopes will help him recover his memories.
Together, they race across Europe and against the clock to stop a madman from unleashing a global virus that would wipe out half of the world’s population.The film’s screenplay is by David Koepp, based upon the novel by Dan Brown. Brian Grazer and Ron Howard are the producers.
Expect Tom Hanks to look 20 years younger with the darker mop, and he gets to run a lot, always good exercise on set. The movie has great lines like “there’s a switch, if you throw it, half of the people on earth will die… you are humanity’s final hope.” Watch the clip next…
Based upon the novel by:
William M. Connor
Sidse Babett Knudsen
SCREENMANCER is a gathering place for people who make movies and like Tom Hanks with darker hair.
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