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Blade Runner in 60 seconds (and some very bad news for fans…)

March 27, 2013 3 comments

Every Year Empire Magazine hold a competition open to all amateur film makers. The premise is simple; remake an existing film in less than one minute…

This years very worthy winner was Philip Askins, who with this rather fine black and white, animated version of one of my very favorite films, the timeless Bladerunner, beat off 15 other competitors, to take the trophy home…

Out of interest, I’ve just looked online for an update on the Blade Runner prequel that Ridley Scott was supposed to be directing, and I am utterly shocked, disappointed and dismayed to read some of the names now connected to the project : Will Smith, Chris Tucker, Michael Bay (Directing) and the final insult, the name that ruins virtually every film he’s been in, Nicholas F**king Cage…

No, no, no… how can it be anything other than total shite, full of macho posing, pointless explosions, over the top CGI and characters with as much depth as my dining table…  What a shame, I was quite looking forward to that.

Oh well, I’ll just have to make do with watching Philip’s excellent interpretation a couple of times more, knowing full well that it will be infinitely better than anything the bunch of tossers above will ever come up with…

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Steve Thomas Travel Posters

October 5, 2012 3 comments

I’m liking the work of Steve Thomas at the moment, an American (I think) illustrator and graphic designer…

Like most things that appeal to me, it’s a very simple idea that’s been executed very well.. Steve takes imaginary or unreachable destinations and then creates a travel poster advertising it as a holiday destination..

In each case there is an instantly recognisable feature/ landmark, a cheeky written reference to the source of the idea, and always a very good reason to go there…

Drawn in a soft 1930’s Halcyon style, I like the inherent contradiction within the images, wherein something you know to be made up or totally inaccessible, becomes an almost achievable destination, thanks to the familiarity of the presentational format.

The Star Wars ones I think are especially good (but then anyone whose read more than a couple of posts on this blog, would probably know that already…)

The Transit of Venus.

June 7, 2012 Leave a comment

For about 6 hours last night and this morning, our closest neighbouring planet Venus made its way slowly across the face of the sun.

Due to the orbit of Venus running in a different plane to our own, these solar transits happen very infrequently and when they do, you get two in quick succession. The last transit happened only fairly recently in 2004, so if you missed last nights, the next date for your transit diary is 2117…

I have to admit that I didn’t actually see it myself (living in London, you get used to missing out on astronomical wonders) however I did see some of the all female cast of scientists on the BBC last night, and jolly good they were too, although (and I know this is an easy and probably unfair observation) despite their obvious intelligence, knowledge and presentational abilities, I couldn’t help but wonder if it was just me that saw this as a rather obvious “Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus” thing…

And while I think of it, is it wrong to admit that I sometimes miss being told about science by bearded men in corduroy jackets and big specs imploring me to understand things the proper way, the old fashioned way, with shonky graphics and laboured explanations…. (whatever did happen to James Burke?)…

Still rather Liz Bonin standing where we can see her, than that eternally amazed goon Brian Cox standing stupidly in front of the sun, spewing out similes…

Anyway, there were some stunning photos up on the net by lunch time today with the ones I’ve stolen below being particular favorites… I love the reality check of these images: Venus (a planet I’ve written about before) is not dissimilar in size to our own earth, and averages about 85 million miles away. The Sun is not that much further distant at 95 million miles (which I’ve just learned is 1 Astronomical unit) but just look how f**kin HUGE it is… completely dwarfing tiny Venus… its enough to scare the willies out of you… (to paraphrase Slartibartfast..)

Ever since I saw Sunshine, Danny Boyle’s most excellent and criminally underrated Sci-Fi epic, the sun has literally taken on a new dimension for me. The whole film is soaked with the heat and size and light and orange and red and intensity of our very own star, slowly baking the desperate and increasingly hopeless crew get as they get closer and closer to their destination…

The first couple of pictures below (both from the amazing NASA SDO satellite) show the Sun as I like to think of it in Danny’s film, raging, beautiful and utterly incomprehensible…

Ron Cobb’s Semiotic Standards for Alien…

May 25, 2012 7 comments

With the new Alien film Prometheus coming up in the next few weeks, I watched the first film again recently to remind myself of the story and came across these forgotten gems, referred to on one of the extras spread across the rather excellent fluorescent green, nine dvd box set…

It is a series of signs designed by the graphic artist Ron Cobb (although this sheet is a digitised version based on his hand drawn originals). Ron Cobb was the man responsible for imagining and designing all the human technology in the first and second Alien films. HR Giger of course was famously responsible for the monster itself, and Ridley Scott apparently kept the two men apart so that their particular visions would not become compromised or tainted by the others ideas…

These signs were intended for “all commercial trans-stellar and heavy element transport craft” and are wonderful examples of graphic design. Conceived when the film was in pre-production sometime during the mid/ late 1970’s, they have a graphic simplicity and an almost contemporary feel that would not look out of place in todays CGI-tastic adventures.

In fact thinking about it (and yes I know it’s not heavily CGI’d) one of my most favourite recent Sci Fi films, Duncan Jones’s low-key and very stylish directorial debut Moon from a few years back has similar looking graphics, creating a retro feel that undoubtedly references back to the 1970’s and Ron Cobb’s designs (although confusingly of course, both these films are set many years in the future, so explain that one away..)

Anyway, next time you watch Alien, keep an eye out for Ron’s brilliant little graphics. They are clearly there to see all over the Nostromo; above doorways, arranged in groups around control panels, sometimes glimpsed in the distance through the steam and the panic, looking for all the world as if they’d been there forever… which should mean they should also be evident on the new ship Prometheus? (fingers crossed)

Ron Cobb worked on many classic films during his career, including Star Wars, Total Recall and Back to the Future (I believe the time travelling DeLorean was basically his idea) but I’ll leave you with some fine sketches that he did for interiors of the Nostromo and the original felt tip pen artwork for the crew patches and the signage…

Prometheus

April 29, 2012 Leave a comment

Wong sent me this the other day… it’s the trailer for the new Alien film…

Its called Prometheus and it’s directed by Ridley Scott who also directed the first (and in my opinion the best) of the four previous films.

Prometheus started out life as a prequel to Alien, however the original storyline was reworked during development so that it became a separate, stand alone thing, sharing “strands of Alien’s DNA” (as Scott has said) and taking place in the same universe, but not being directly connected to Ripley, The Nostromo, Fury 161 and any of the other people and events we know and love in Aliens 1 to 4…

From the trailer above, I have to say that it looks quite promising and being the sad Sci Fi geeks that both me and Wong are, we’re getting rather excited about going to see the film when it opens here in London at the beginning of June. OK, the story about finding star patterns and hidden messages from unconnected ancient human civilisations is, on the face of it surprisingly derivative for someone of Ridley Scott’s calibre (Erich von Daniken anyone?) but the CGI space craft and technology look truly amazing. I’m also intrigued to see the inclusion of the huge, dead Pilot who may or may not have been the first victim of our favourite Xenomorph Aliens…

Fingers crossed that all this CGI is used to illustrate the narrative, rather than the other way around. I’ve always liked this about the Alien films… that they feel like they were shot on an actual set rather than on a green screen, for me this adds significantly to the claustrophobia of each installment…

The only down side to this new film is that from what I can tell, the wonderful Sigourney Weaver will play no part in it… An Alien without Sigourney is something I thought I would never have to consider and it will definitely take some getting used to.

Still, Noomi Rapace is in the new one and although she denies it online, I guess she will take on the role of the strong, lead female character that will attempt to fill the huge space left by Ellen Ripley…

Other than the footnote below, I’ll finish with some pictures of the great woman herself …. young and fresh faced in Alien (1979) (if only she knew what would happen to her over the next 200 years); dirty and armed to the teeth in Aliens (1986); shaven headed and terrifyingly close to her nemesis in Alien 3 (1992) and finally as the leather clad hybrid, that prowled through Alien Resurrection (1997)

One final thing .. this is a link to a rather excellent viral ad campaign that started doing the rounds in February. It is the website of Weyland Industries and initially focuses on their newest product, David 8 (a cybernetic android played by Michael Fassbender in the film).. It is brilliant and will suck up much of your time if you let it, trying to find all the strands and where they lead..

Ralph McQuarrie

March 5, 2012 Leave a comment

I read this morning that Ralph McQuarrie died over the weekend. He was 82.

One of the very first posts I wrote on this blog, back in June 2010, was in celebration of his birthday, so it is very sad to learn that less than 2 years later he has passed away.

McQuarrie was an amazingly gifted and visionary artist, famous for his work with both Steven Spielberg and George Lucas for whom he illustrated a bewildering number and variety of ideas for such classics as the first three Star Wars films, Close Encounters and ET. His role was to bring the ideas of the directors and writers to life, which he did in such a convincing way, that much of what people  remember of these films, came directly from his head..

I was lucky enough at the end of last year to find an original hard back copy of his 1980’s book “The Illustrated Star Wars Universe” in a local charity shop. Without doubt the best £1.50 I’ve spent in a long time. The link takes you to Parka Blogs’s review of the book, which includes a video of him flicking through the pages… As an aside, I’ve come across this book review site a number of times before. It’s definitely worth a visit, Parka Blogs writes well and spends a huge amount of time and money on books.; The word obsessive doesn’t do him (and it almost certainly is a him) justice..)

All in all then, a sad day for Star Wars fans.. but a pretty good excuse to put even more of his wonderful work up on my site.

Yes or No?

October 11, 2011 Leave a comment

(Yes, obviously….)

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