Tag Archives: SciFiNow

Firestarter (Keith Thomas, 2022)

During filming of The Thing in 1981, Universal offered John Carpenter the gig to direct a movie version of Stephen King’s novel Firestarter, about a pyrokinetic girl on the run from a secret government agency with her also super-powered father. After The Thing underperformed financially, Universal dropped Carpenter, replacing him with Mark L. Lester for the perhaps overly faithful 1984 adaptation that King reportedly hated.

Carpenter got his own swing at King for another studio with Christine. And four decades on, he’s now involved with a new take on the one that got away. His score for the 2022 Firestarter, co-written with Cody Carpenter and Daniel Davies, is by far the best part of director Keith Thomas’ adaptation of a text that no one can quite seem to crack…

Full review for SciFiNow

Men (Alex Garland, 2022)

Alex Garland’s Men shares DNA with David Bruckner’s recent Rebecca Hall-led The Night House. Both see widowed women navigating an isolated haunted house, each also concerned with the fallout of a husband’s suicide, that trauma weaved into the thematic underpinning.

But while Hall’s character is plagued in her own home, Men’s Harper (Jessie Buckley) is on a solo vacation in the English countryside. Another crucial difference: The Night House’s instigating suicide is presented as sudden, but in Men, Harper both witnesses husband James’ (Paapa Essiedu) apparent jump from their building and is explicitly told he’ll take his own life if they divorce, in an explosive flashback confrontation involving assault – where cinematographer Rob Hardy lights their apartment in appropriately fiery hues…

Full review for SciFiNow

The Northman (Robert Eggers, 2022)

With The Witch and The Lighthouse, writer-director Robert Eggers emerged as a distinctive voice in American independent film. They are surrealistic nightmares set in America of centuries past, in which small groups try surviving encroaching supernatural threats that may well be hallucinations encouraged by harsh surroundings. Their environments are brought to life with an exquisite sense of historical detail and period-accurate language.

In light of this, that Eggers’ third feature, The Northman, is a big studio-backed, sprawling Europe-set epic that can plausibly, and not inaccurately, be marketed as an action movie might raise red flags for those concerned his voice could be lost – budget-wise, it’s closer to a Morbius than The Witch. But praise the Norse gods, for not only is The Northman an exhilarating revenge saga that outdoes most modern blockbusters when it comes to action sequence staging and immersive sound design, but Eggers’ penchant for the strange remains fully intact…

Full review for SciFiNow

Hellbender (John Adams/Zelda Adams/Toby Poser, 2021)

Based in a secluded, privately-owned mountainous area, American teen Izzy (Zelda Adams) lives with her mother (Toby Poser), but has no contact with the outside world. Having left civilisation when she was five, Izzy is told she has a serious health condition that means human interaction is a massive risk. Only Mother can venture out for supplies. Secretive Mother is Izzy’s only confidante, with whom she has a rock band called Hellbender, whose music no one else will hear. But Izzy is 16 now and craves friends. What Izzy doesn’t realise is that a disease isn’t necessarily the reason she needs to be kept away from others…

Full review for SciFiNow

Army of Thieves (Matthias Schweighöfer, 2021)

A non-horror prequel to a horror movie, where zombies are relegated to news reports and dreams, Army of Thieves is a film where the logic behind its existence is ultimately more interesting to think about than anything presented on screen. That said, this spinoff of Army of the Dead is somewhat fascinating as an example of playing in the Zack Snyder sandbox without the same stylistic imprint…

Full review for SciFiNow

Thieves like us: Zack Snyder and co. on their Army of the Dead prequel

It’s unusual enough for a prequel to arrive barely five months after the original film, yet alone for it to be in a different genre. Such is the case with Army of Thieves, a non-horror spin-off of Zack Snyder’s zombie action movie Army of the Dead, greenlit and shot before the first film was even released by Netflix. “Because it’s a different genre than Army of the Dead,” producer Snyder tells SciFiNow, “it gave the film a freshness and uniqueness I think transcends the normal traps you can get into with a sequel or prequel…”

Full interview for SciFiNow

Old (M. Night Shyamalan, 2021)

Adapted from Pierre Oscar Lévy and Frédérik Peeters’ graphic novel Sandcastle, M. Night Shyamalan’s Old takes a Twilight Zone-esque premise to wickedly entertaining, gruesome and occasionally touching places…

Full review for SciFiNow

The Legend Of The Stardust Brothers: Stardust Melodies

Originally published as a print-exclusive in SciFiNow #167, in January 2020

In 1985, a legend was born. Except, in the western world, it’s a legend you never encountered. And, to be fair, it wasn’t encountered much in the eastern world where it originated. 

Released in Japan that year, The Legend Of The Stardust Brothers is a terrific musical comedy, with horror and sci-fi trappings, that premiered to not-so-terrific critical notices and box office, seeing virtually no release outside of East Asia. In the 30-plus years since, the film has developed a cult following, to the extent that its writer-director was able to make a semi-sequel, The Brand New Legend Of The Stardust Brothers, in 2016. Thanks to the efforts of distributor Third Window Films, the original Legend is premiering on UK home media in a dual format, region-free Blu-ray and DVD set, having undergone a full restoration.

Director Macoto Tezka has gone on to a career of further live-action films, animation and teaching, but in 1985, he was primarily known for being the son of Osamu Tezuka, the man considered the Japanese equivalent to Walt Disney. Tezuka’s best known manga series include Astro Boy, Black Jack and Kimba The White Lion

Full interview for SciFiNow