Forum Horrors

brbhsThis weekend I’ve been reading American forums regarding BR2049, as the disc came out over there last week and I was curious about what people were saying about it, particularly as so many of them failed to see the film at the cinema. Some people loved it, some people didn’t, some people actually preferred it over the original, some didn’t- so the usual stuff you’d expect to see. Overall I was pleased to see many more positive comments than negative, and quite a few regretting not seeing the film theatrically.

BUT… then I read this one.: My God… I’ve watched the first hour of BR2049 and it’s a mind-f–er!! I think it’s wonderful!! I don’t want it to be any shorter!

He then adds: I felt lots of tension all the way through the first hour. I’ll watch the rest tomorrow night…

Whoa. I nearly choked with laugher (somehow it struck me as being deliberately funny). THIS is the kind of stuff that really winds me up, and makes me question people’s modern viewing habits, their attention spans, how they watch films, and maybe explains all those assertions that the film failed in America partly because of the running time. This guy buys the film, puts it on, watches just an hour, then switches it off to resume a day later. What crazy shit is that? How do you watch a film in pieces like that? Can’t people schedule their lives, leave sufficient time to watch a film throughout, or refrain from watching it until they do have enough time?

But anyway, it just struck me as rather funny, praising a film that he clearly enjoyed and then almost offhandedly adding that he’ll watch the rest tomorrow.  Imagine watching Psycho for the first time, getting up to the shower scene and then deciding to stop it and resume it a day or so later. I can imagine Hitch being well impressed by that.

Is this how the new generation digest films now? No wonder studios think they have to chuck explosions and shit it every twenty minutes to maintain people’s attention. Bit like my recent review of Cinderella, and how I was a bit annoyed by the frequent cuts to big flashy (and rather fake-looking) cgi shots to establish locations. Its a crazy world out there.

I should avoid forums. They can be a bit scary.

Blade Runner 2 teaser

blade-runner-trailer-street-level

I won’t post a link here as its easy to find posted on Youtube, but the first official teaser for Blade Runner 2049 has just been released. It ain’t bad. It even looks rather cool and, yes, genuinely ‘Blade Runner.’ Its like I just got an early Christmas prezzie. This film could be good. Roll on next October…

Blade Runner 2049…

br209…is the confirmed title for the Blade Runner 2 film currently being shot in Budapest.

Actually, I don’t like it. I guess they really felt the need to get ‘Blade Runner’ in there as a marketing device and didn’t think the simple ‘Blade Runner 2’ was imaginative enough. I think its going to take awhile for it to grow on me. (well, we have twelve months from now until release so there’s definitely time). Its the first really unconvincing step the project has taken- up to now its been pretty rosy regards director, cast etc.

My first reaction to this title was negative though; I actually thought it was a prank at first – Blade Runner 2049 sounds like a tv series (didn’t they do something identical with a Total Recall series a few years back?) or even a videogame. I think I’d have preferred something else, like maybe Replicants Dream or the original film’s Dangerous Days title. Oh well, we’ll have to wait and see. I guess the first set photos will land soon enough and maybe a teaser shortly after Christmas. But yeah, that title’s going to have its work cut out to win me over. I keep thinking about ten years from now, talking about the two films, and how awkward it will feel saying “… yeah, Blade Runner was great and Blade Runner 2049 wasn’t too bad…” I guess we will shorten it down and refer to it just as 2049, like we do with 2001.

Whats the third film going to be- Blade Runner 2054? Where does it end?  “…yeah, 2049 was okay, but JJ Abram’s  2054 was a stinker…. and don’t get me started on James Cameron’s 2082 with its blue Replicant aliens…”

Blade Runner 2 update

br2Well its been a few months, time for another update before I close the curtains and hide from the outside world to avoid any real spoilers. Most details are being kept refreshingly secret (and I hope it stays that way for several months to come), but there’s been a bit more news of late about Blade Runner 2 (still lacking an official title), currently in production in Hungary. In production– I confess it seems so weird, thinking that a sequel to Blade Runner is currently being shot. I’m certain that watching this film next October will be the most surreal experience of my life- its like reality has taken some weird twist into a distorted dreamland. But yeah, its in production, its real.

A little while ago we got a few examples of pre-production art that infers the film will maintain the tone of the original film, such as is in the image above. I was surprised by this as I had assumed the film, set decades after the 2019-set original, would have its own ‘look’ and feel- I almost expected them to go the Minority Report route visually and maybe they will, but that image above does look very Blade Runner.

As the film is shooting there have been more cast details, most recently news of Jared Leto being a late addition. I quite like Leto onscreen but he has a weird rep behind the scenes that is a little disconcerting. Other additions include Dave Bautista, Sylvia Hoeks, Barkhad Abdi, Ana de Armas, Carla Juri and Lennie James. Seems a pretty solid cast is being brought together, multicultural and quite European (as the original was shot in Hollywood it was mostly an American cast). They join the already announced Harrison Ford, Ryan Gosling, Robin Wright and Mackenzie Davis.

Mackenzie Davis has been speaking a little about the project. Regards the original, she says that “…it’s been my favourite movie for as long as I can remember… I can’t believe I get to be a part of it. (Villeneuve’s) enthusiasm and love for it has made the whole thing so exciting. I had friends from university who called me when the news first came out saying, ‘It’s so crazy, you had been talking about this when we were 19 that if ever a Blade Runner sequel came out it would be your dream job.’ And then it happened. It’s truly insane to me.” I guess it’s another reminder of how influential the original has been amongst the film community over the decades, no matter how it flopped back in 1982.

Vangelis, who has his first album for several years out next month, is definitely not involved this time around. As widely expected, it has been confirmed that Jóhann Jóhannsson has signed on to write the score. Oddly enough, like Vangelis,  Jóhannsson has a solo album being released next month (Orphee, which sounds great by the way from what I’ve heard of it). While publicising Orphee,  Jóhannsson has made a few comments about Blade Runner 2.

He has revealed he has visited the set and already started working on the score, and like Mackenzie Davis is a big fan of the original. “I saw [Blade Runner] when I was 13, the year it came out, and it had a huge effect on me. I was already a big fan of Philip K. Dick’s novels, so I knew the original. Obviously the film is very different from the book, but I was a huge fan from day one and it’s a film that’s hugely important to me in terms of both being a visual masterpiece – this amazing world that Ridley Scott and his team created – and also in terms of the music and the sound design, which is tremendously strong and which was very memorable at the time when I saw it. This is true of many people of my generation who experienced that film, it had a deep impact on them.”

Arrival,_Movie_Poster“Denis I tend to start very early in his process,” he says of scoring films. “I start working on the music when he starts prepping the film. When he starts shooting I’ve usually started collecting material and putting together ideas and starting the process of finding the sound of the film. This is a long process that can take many months and I like to start early in order to send things to Denis while he’s filming.” Jóhannsson has also scored Villeneuve’s sci-fi film  Arrival, which is released in November. Arrival (previously Story of Your Life) is a fascinating prospect- it will be so interesting to see how Villeneuve handles a genre film with his Blade Runner 2 on the horizon. Which raises the thought- can you even imagine the pressure he must be feeling?

The most recent news concerning Blade Runner 2 was actually something tragic and a reminder of all those people behind productions that usually never hit the headlines- a construction worker has been killed whilst dismantling a set on which production had been completed at Budapest’s Origo Studios. A statement by Alcon Entertainment stated that he was a local employed by a subcontractor to dismantle the set, he wasn’t a member of the film-crew and production has continued, having already moved on to the village of Etyek in Hungary where they were filming at the time of the accident.

So how long can the secrecy hold? How long before the marketing department get loose of their chains and start dropping set photos and teaser trailers out? I guess that will be when I try to stop thinking about the film and start actively avoiding any details. Or do I just give up avoiding those details, will it even be possible? I rather like it how things are now. It’s nice knowing the production has a great director, a fine cast and a backroom staff that seem to have a handle on the project and how important it is, but it’s also nice not knowing any further details, like the plot or what characters the cast are playing. Blade Runner 2 may be a project many of us Blade Runner fans never expected or really wanted, but at the moment it could be all things; great, horrible, brilliant. It could be anything.

Some Blade Runner 2 Trivia

Blade Runner 2 is now scheduled for release October 2017 (bumped up from its original January 2018 slot) so we really are closing in on something that was once either incredibly unlikely or even impossible. Just to make things a little weirder, Ridley Scott’s Alien prequel, Alien: Covenant, is due out in August 2017. Its enough to freak me out.

Here’s something interesting I stumbled upon whilst looking up the latest Denis Villeneuve/ Blade Runner 2 news on the ‘net and trying to avoid the clickbait. Someone on the IMDB message-board was asking what’s the longest stretch of time between a film and a sequel being made. Blade Runner was released in 1982, and the (untitled) Blade Runner 2 film is set for 2017, which is a gap of 35 years. Some examples of other long gaps the poster mentioned are The Hustler (1961) and The Colour of Money (1986) = 25 years,  Psycho (1960) and  Psycho II (1983) = 23 years, The Godfather Part II (1974) and  The Godfather Part III (1990) = 16 years.

There are likely other examples, but a responding poster noted there is a Brazilian horror -film franchise with a longer gap;  This Night I’ll Possess Your Corpse (1967)/ Embodiment of Evil (2008).  But I think there may be a case for Blade Runner taking the prize for a Hollywood film series. One I can think of is The Odd Couple (1968) and The Odd Couple II (1998) which is close at 30 years, but still short of the Blade Runner gap. Maybe someone reading this will be able to think of something obvious that I’ve missed.

Blade Runner 2 is scheduled to start filming next month (I’ve read it starts shooting in Budapest but don’t know how true that is, like everything else, much about this film -including its proper title- is a mystery). But yeah, we do know it starts shooting in July. The more I think about that… its really weird. I guess all the design work is done, the sets are being built now, costumes are getting ready… it messes with your head, thinking about it. Imagine what it will be like when the first set photos get released or the first teaser trailer in six months. I guess it won’t be long before some of the secrecy gets lifted a little, at the moment it feels like the lull before the storm. Anything is possible right now.

On the whole  everything seems promising, and as someone who was critical of a sequel at first, I’m currently quite looking forward to it. Up to now everything I have read about it seems positive. News has been scant about the film other than updates on the cast, which is looking as impressive as the film’s backroom talent – Ryan Gosling and Robin Wright were confirmed awhile ago, but more recently Dave Bautista (Guardians of the Galaxy, Spectre) and Mackenzie Davis (The Martian) have been added to the roster, as well as some names less familiar to me- Carla Juri, Sylvia Hoeks and Ana de Armas, which already indicates the film has more women’s roles than the first film featured. God only knows what that means.  But Mackenzie Davis in the picture below looking very Pris-like is an unnerving coincidence…

Mackenzie Davies, looking rather like Pris here...

Funnily enough Denis Villeneuve has another film due out this year, and it’s a sci-fi film too- Story Of Your Life is based on an acclaimed short story of the same name by Ted Chiang (note there is a rumour going around that the film’s title has now changed to Arrival).  The film stars Amy Adams, Jeremy Renner and Forest Whitaker, and concerns aliens arriving on Earth and the military recruiting an expert linguist to determine whether the aliens come in peace or are a threat. I’ve avoided reading the original story so know little more than that, other than its serious science-fiction inferring the film is firmly in the CE3K camp of First Contact rather than that of  Independance Day. In anycase, its Villeneuve’s first genre entry and so will be very interesting to see prior to his Blade Runner 2.

Of course one of the questions fans have about the new film concerns the music and whether Vangelis will be involved, and this has yet to be resolved. I rather suspect Vangelis won’t be composing the films score. Villeneuve usually has Johann Johannsson composing the scores for his films and I expect the same to apply here- which is good, as having a creative team familiar with each other always bodes well for a project. Nothing has been announced yet, but Johannson stated “Back in the studio working on a very special project to come in the next year.” on Facebook which has his fans already wondering, but he has signed a new album deal so it is likely something for that or some other film project. It certainly feels too soon for work on the Blade Runner 2 score, unless he is preparing some source music for on-set use (i.e. background music for in a bar or something). Who knows?

 

Ender’s Game (2013)

end12016.33: Enders Game (Network Airing, HD)

Youngsters playing videogames save humanity from Alien menace.

Well, thats essentially it. The youngsters think they are playing a videogame simulating an attack on alien planet, when its actually really happening. They win the game, annihilating the aliens, only to find out -gosh!- that gigantic space armada in the game was the real thing obeying their instructions. Yes, whenever they lost ships hundreds of real people got killed but, hey, they won the game! Earth is saved!

This film really is that stupid. I mean, you have the fate of humanity at stake. You have a vast armada of huge battleships and attack fighters, thousands of military personnel. And you have an orbiting school for ‘gifted’ teens to find a kid to put in charge of the bloody lot. I don’t mean ‘gifted’ as per special powers such as the mutants of X-Men or super-intellects. I mean a bunch of teens who maybe passed their GCSEs a bit early. It’s utterly insane.

Incredulous, I watched this film convinced there would be a twist (other than that final painful one- literally game over, kid, you won the war-that left a huge WTF expression on my face that lingered for hours) but there isn’t one. Unless, well, I guess I could mention the painful coda/twist that suggests that, even though they attacked Earth fifty years ago, the aliens might not have been quite so evil after all so our teen hero has to fly off to make amends. I mean, what?

When the best thing about a film is its excessive CGI and green screen there is something rather wrong. It starts a little like The Hunger Games, reluctant teen becomes hero (in this case, it’s a male rather than a female) but it is a pale shadow of that series. I’ve read that the film is based on a series of books written by Orson Scott Card but I can only hope that most of the best material was lost in the screenplay, because the film does the book/s no favours at all. They ploughed $100 million into this turkey- I can in no way fathom what they saw in the screenplay that merited that kind of attention and outlay. Sure, teen-angst adventures were all the rage post-Harry Potter and Hunger Games but really, this tedious film is really poor and wide of the mark.

And anyone surprised/impressed that Harrison Ford thought the script for Blade Runner 2 was one of the very best he’d read and so good he subsequently signed up to star in it, well, its time to be rather worried. If Ford thought Ender’s Game was worthy of him, then really we need to be very cautious about BR2. I swear he looks half-asleep in much of this. What was he thinking (i.e. how much was his pay packet)? Whatever it was, he returns the favour with one of his worst performances that I have ever seen. I’ve seen better performances by trees, he’s that wooden.

It’s a harrowing film. Avoid.

 

 

Sicario (2015)

Now THATS a film poster...
Now THATS a film poster…

The prospect of director Denis Villeneuve helming Blade Runner 2 is more exciting than ever having seen Sicario. It also reinforces his evident fascination with humanities dark side, being a particularly grim, and at times unrelentingly tense, thriller with some fantastic performances (oddly, I did find a particular comparison here with Blade Runner, albeit unintentional- just as Harrison Ford was overshadowed by Rutger Hauer in the 1982 film, here Emily Blunt is overshadowed by the performance of Benicio Del Toro in what is ostensibly a supporting role that simply steals the movie). Alas news that LIonsgate seem keen to move on with a Sicario 2 is a little depressing even if somewhat predictable considering how the film ends. Sicario simply does not need a sequel and I fear it will be weakened by a follow up- I guess this is just a further demonstration of the times we live in, but it’s such a shame that a film like this can’t be allowed to stand by itself anymore. Indeed, it has hardly been given time to be released before the studio has raised the prospect of a sequel. My own response to the news of a sequel was “what? WHAT?” as if it was some kind of joke. Imagine Heat being followed by a Heat 2 and a Heat 3…. it’s heartbreaking really how cannibalistic the film industry is now, success breeding some kind of instant feeding frenzy.

(While those films that deserve or suggest a sequel, like Dredd or John Carter, haven’t a teardrop in Hell’s chance of ever getting one).

sic3I wouldn’t by any means describe this film as perfect- there are a few pacing issues with Sicario that leaves the middle somewhat laboured, but it remains a superior thriller with ambiguous lines of morality that is quite refreshing. Clearly there is Good and Evil here but its all shades of grey rather than simplistic black and white… There is no moral high ground championed, rather just a vague sense of futility trying to make sense of it all, the distinctions of right and wrong blurred in somehow trying to define a Greater Good, the central question being does the end justify the actions getting there. Having seen his previous film,  Prisoners, it comes as no surprise that Villeneuve has no problem establishing a realistic milieu with fine performances from his cast. What does come as a welcome surprise, considering how intellectual that films probing of human darkness was, is how well Villeneuve manages Sicario’s action sequences. It’s no overstatement to suggest it is so accomplished it recalls Michael Mann’s Heat, but even when the bullet’s aren’t flying it is the threat of violence that is most powerful and impressive. We live in age of films laden with cartoon violence with cities portrayed collapsing in photorealistic detail, whether it be due to superheroes or giant robots or giant monsters, but the implied threat of violence when being trapped in a traffic jam is here far more overpowering. Tension is ramped up incredibly high in three sequences, but beyond that there is a dark feeling of dread, of a world out of control. Its a tragedy, in many ways.

Clearly this film consolidates Villeneuve as one of the most promising directors at work today. Roger Deakins photography, meanwhile, ensures the film looks utterly beautiful, if such a thing can be said about a film as uncompromisingly as bleak as this is. I must stop mentioning BR2 but goodness, one can only wonder at the possibilities of these two working on the project, and what they might come up with if left alone and given decent material (i.e. a decent script). One can only hope and wonder. As it is, Sicario simply remains one of the best films of the year and really deserves some recognition come awards season.

 

It’s a strange world….

Have you read the news today...?
Hey, have you read the news today…?

This has been one of those weeks where I found myself wondering if I’d slipped into the Twilight Zone or something…

ALIEN 5

First came the confirmation, after weeks of rumours, that Neill Blomkamp of District 9 fame (and, lets not forget, Elysium infamy) has signed on to make Alien 5, and that it would be essentially a sequel to Aliens, bringing back Ripley, Hicks and Newt, apparently ignoring the existence of both Alien 3 and Alien: Resurrection. Now, I couldn’t give two hoots about Resurrection but I’m a big fan of Alien 3, particularly the workprint version. Indeed, I much prefer Alien 3 to Aliens, as I feel that Cameron’s film really undermined the mystery and terror of the first film, turning it into Rambo in Space. God knows I’m in the minority in that, as the film has its legions of fans who are now hugely excited. But its really bizarre, this whole thing. Are the events of the third and fourth film to be consigned to a hyper-sleep dream? Really, the whole thing boggles the mind. I’m curious to see how Blomkamp pulls the whole conceit off, following Aliens somehow with those characters, considering how many years have passed now and the actors will have aged so much (it is seemingly not being recast as Sigourney Weaver has apparently signed on for the project). Its either some kind of genius project or a horrible cynical reboot disaster…. only time will tell.

More BLADE RUNNER 2 news…

Another project that carries a heavy weight on its shoulders is the promised (or threatened, its a matter of opinion) Blade Runner 2. Alcon, the production company behind the film, has officially announced that the film commences shooting summer 2016 with Denis Villeneuve signed as the director. Villeneuve made the well-regarded Prisonerswhich I haven’t seen yet (but you can be certain its now top of my watch list). Harrison Ford is confirmed, having been very impressed by the screenplay penned by Hampton Fancher and Michael Green (the script being one of the best things Ford ever read, according to earlier reports by Scott). The story is reportedly set several decades after the events of the original film. So maybe Deckard wasn’t a rep after all?

Of course the big news about all this is that while Ridley Scott remains involved (presumably in a producer role) its now confirmed that he won’t be directing. I’m split on this. On the one hand, after Prometheus, I’m rather relieved, as it would have been a huge weight for Scott to equal/surpass his original work. On the other hand, I’m disappointed as there’s that part of me just plain curious to see what Scott could come up with, returning to Blade Runner with all the tech that film-makers have these days. Have to admit its likely a wise move by Scott. If it somehow turns out that Blade Runner 2 is a great movie and a worthy sequel, he still has his name on it- if it turns out to be terrible then he can blame everyone else. Certainly, whatever you think of the project, Denis Villeneuve is a very brave man. Signing on for the sequel to such a classic film (one that hardly needs any sequel at all) must be such a daunting prospect.

But what a strange week its been. Alien 5. Blade Runner 2 confirmed. Add it to recent news that Sony has teamed up with Marvel Studios to reboot its Spider Man franchise yet again…. its a crazy world. To be honest, I still can’t believe that we have another Star Wars movie coming this December. Next thing you know, Vangelis will sign on to produce the Blade Runner 2 score and as a genius nod to his fans release a complete Blade Runner soundtrack with all the previously unreleased music that we’ve been waiting decades for.  Who knows? These days it seems all bets are off.

Alas, Blade Runner 2…

blade1Years ago, back in the mid/late ‘eighties, I would never have dared dream this were even possible. I have mentioned several times here in the past, how Blade Runner utterly disappeared from the spotlight following its dismal box-office failure in 1982, and its equally poor critical reception. The rise of home video, and its need for fresh product, gave Blade Runner a second life. Repeated viewings unveiled its nuances and the public (eventually) caught up with the film. If ever a film could be said to be ahead of its time, Blade Runner was it.

Sometimes I look back on those days when the film was the very definition of the word ‘cult’ with some fondness. I recall an outside examiner marking my art design folio during my degree days coming across some Blade Runner-inspired work of mine (I believe it was ideas for a boardgame tie-in); suddenly he paused, sat back and launched into a reverie about the film. “There was a philosophy about that film,” he remarked, and then my artwork was forgotten and we were sharing our thoughts/love for the film like kindred spirits sharing some arcane knowledge. I literally could count on the fingers of one hand back then the people I knew that had any awareness of the film at all.

The years have changed that of course, and the films later success seems to have reached a point that seemed quite impossible back then. They are now going to make a sequel.

If ever a film never needed  sequel, Blade Runner is it. Particularly after so many years. But one thing Hollywood loves is a sequel, and a marketable IP to work from. Over the years the film has gained such a following and critical acclaim that I guess it was inevitable, particularly following the success of The Final Cut version back in 2007 (has it been so long since then?). The only good thing about a sequel is that it isn’t a remake-  thankfully Hollywood has at least not gone down that route.

So on the one hand, I consider any Blade Runner 2 with some loathing. How can it possibly improve on the original? What can it add to it? How many are the ways it could completely fuck everything up and damage the credibility and status of the original (countless, surely)? Sometimes I think the magic of Blade Runner is its very age- it’s neon-drenched 1980s vibe and its photochemical effects. What the hell can CGI add to it?

And yet there is a nagging curiosity, particularly with Ridley Scott attached to the project (although that’s diluted somewhat following Prometheus), regards the possibilities. Its the same way I felt about Prometheus pre-release, and for the Star Wars prequels…  maybe none of those realised those possibilities, but you never know. You just never know.

Recently Ridley Scott commented about the film in an interview: “We talked at length about what it could be, and came up with a pretty strong three-act storyline, and it all makes sense in terms of how it relates to the first one,” Scott said, adding that Harrison Ford was involved too. “Harrison is very much part of this one, but really it’s about finding him; he comes in in the third act.”

That makes me rather nervous. Its one thing to have another movie spinning off from the original but quite something else to bring back characters from the original- particularly Rick Deckard. There has been some bone of contention regards Deckard being human (my own preference) or a Replicant (Ridley’s preference, wrong/nonsensical as it may be), but I like the idea that its open to interpretation and the film can be ‘read’ either way. I’d contend that having the character in a sequel would rather indicate a definitive statement either way. I prefer the vagueness, the subtlety, the mystery. Its like turning Space Jockeys into bald giants, we just don’t need it.

Anyway, Blade Runner 2 certainly seems to be happening, and next year we’ll see developments and I intend to run posts on this blog as they arise. Its a bumpy ride all the way to a likely (how could they ignore it) release in November of 2019. Well, maybe it will arrive before then, but its got to be tempting to go for that date, hasn’t it?

November 2019. I vividly remember walking to a RPG session with some of my nerdy mates way back in my teens, talking about Blade Runner, thinking about the year 2019, what the world would be like, working out how old we would be. It seemed a lifetime away, 2019, just as the year 2001 and its own filmic associations still seemed some time off. But 2019 is coming, and so is Blade Runner 2. Its a very strange world sometimes.

blade2

The Martian by Andy Weir

martianWhen I read the announcement several days ago that Ridley Scott’s next film (following his biblical epic Exodus) will be The Martian, based on a recent book by American first-time author Andy Weir, I was both surprised (had rather expected his next film to be Prometheus 2) and curious, as I had never even heard of the novel. Reviews on Amazon were mostly positive so I took a punt and ordered a copy- at the very least it would give me a break from my Game of Thrones marathon read (just started book three folks for those interested).

So The Martian arrived last Friday on a rainy afternoon and I picked it up to give a few chapters a go before starting my chores… and a few hours later I was still reading it (chores undone), already midway through it, thoroughly captivated by it. Okay, it won’t ever win any literary awards but good grief, as I read it I kept thinking, ‘this will make one hell of a bloody movie!‘. Its also one hell of a page-turner- if it hadn’t been for the fact that I was going out that evening, I’d have cracked on with the book and likely finished it in one sitting, something totally unheard of for me. It really is one of those ‘couldn’t put it down’ books.

Its got a killer premise- the third Nasa mission to Mars is beset by a mission-threatening sandstorm on its sixth day on the planet. Nasa informs the party to abort the mission and launch back  to orbit for return to Earth, but during the hazardous trip through the storm to the launch vehicle, one of the crew is left behind – presumed dead when he is struck by flying debris from the wrecked communications array and separated from the others in the storm, the life-signs from his suit indicating he is dead.

He awakes stranded on Mars, a space-age Robinson Crusoe- without any way to communicate with Earth, in a habitat designed to last  just 31 days. His crew-mates already on their way home, everyone on Earth believes him dead. “If the Oxygenator breaks down, I’ll suffocate. If the water reclaimer breaks down, I’ll die of thirst. If the Hab breaches, I’ll just kind of explode. If none of these things happen, I’ll eventually run out of food and starve to death. So yeah. I’m screwed.” 

So anyway, I got back to the book at first opportunity the next day and completed it. I’d read the whole damned book in just two days. Weir obviously did plenty of research, and it certainly seems realistic and the technology plausible. He keeps the tension levels up with plenty of twists and turns, a tale of survival against incredible odds and the ending is great- it’ll bring the house down in cinemas.

As a pitch for a movie, its a no-brainer; its Apollo 13 times ten, hot on the heels of the hugely successful Gravity, and its clear what kind of a thrilling movie this might be if handled properly- indeed with Ridley Scott at the helm I’m salivating at the prospect. Its supposed to be coming out in 2015 which seems a bit of a quick turnaround considering that Scott hasn’t completed Exodus yet, but who knows? Matt Damon seems to be already attached so things are evidently moving with it. Whatever one thinks of the book, this really could be a great movie (I could see it in my head as I read it). Besides, if he’s busy with this, Ridley can’t crack on with that damned Blade Runner 2 project we’re being threatened with, so its a win-win in my book.