Nightflyers (Syfy) First Look – Trailer

If I can be honest for a moment: While the idea of a channel dedicated to science fiction is a great idea, SyFy is shockingly lame.

For a start, what does ‘SyFy’ even mean (other than a uber-pretentious and dumb way of spelling ‘SciFi.’ that is)?

But let’s for a moment look beyond the general suckiness of SyFy and instead consider an upcoming series on the network, Nightflyers, based on a novella by George R.R. Martin.

It spawned a movie in 1987–I was on a serious George R.R. Martin kick and was devouring all of his work I could find after reading the excellent Fevre Dream so I made sure to see the movie, which wasn’t terribly memorable.

But let’s move on to the present and look at the trailer for the new version, where someone connected to the production says: “Nightflyers” is like nothing you’ve ever seen before.”

Sure, if you haven’t seen The Black Hole.  Or Event Horizon.  Or Galaxy of Terror.  Or Supernova.  Or numerous other movies that revolve around space being full of horrors..

Though the most problematic thing about the series is that it’s coming from Syfy–a network that somehow manages to keep renewing the barely watchable ZNation–when they’re not regaling us with Sharknado movies–while cancelling the excellent Dark Matter (I will likely be forever bitter about that one)..


Fahrenheit 451 Teaser Trailer

Growing up, Ray Bradbury’s Farenheit 451 was a seminal novel for me–less for the book itself than for the concept, namely a world where everyone is so afraid of differing points of view and knowledge in general that they resorted to destroying it as close to the wellspring as possible.

And that wellspring are books.  Destroy them, you destroy  links to our past, and potentially control the future.

Luckily we don’t live in a society where scientifically-verifiable truths are demonized and people are sedated into complacency by thousands of channels of television, right?

Bread and circuses, indeed

The Shape of Water – Red Band Trailer

Just in case anyone out there thinks Screenphiles has become a member of the Guillermo Del Toro Fan Club (not that there’s such a thing as far as I know), let me assure you in no way is that the case.

Though speaking of Del Toro, did you know a Red Band trailer from The Shape of Water recently dropped?

This is interesting for numerous reasons though the first that comes to mind is that–based on the trailers released thus far–is if there is even anything at all ‘Red band’ (which typically designates violence, sexual content or lots of really bad words–and I’m not kidding about that last one)  about the movie.

Having watched the so-called Red band trailer the worse I saw were two letters of a pretty common expletive (there was an earlier scene that was a bit questionable, though I need to watch it again), though what we have seen this far has been pretty tame and by no means warrants a ‘Red band’ designation.

Blade Runner 2049 – Trailer 2

The latest trailer for Denis Villeneuve’s Blade Runner 2049–a pretty terrible title, by the way–a few hours ago and so far reminds me less of Ridley Scott’s original and more than Peter Hyams’ 2010 in that it appears to take the most important elements of the original (Harrison Ford, replicants, a neon-bright skyscraper, a whiff of conspiracy) and makes them more palatable for general audiences.

That was what 2010 did as well, namely taking Stanley Kubrick’s cold and analytical 2001: A Space Odyssey and preserving its themes and ideas, while recasting them in a way that–while still challenging–was more narratively traditional and just easier to like.

Reviews Have Begun To Drop For Valerian And The City Of A Thousand Planets

Reviews have begun to drop for Luc Besson’s Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets, and while it’s early days yet, let’s just say they haven’t been charitable.

The Hollywood Reporter’s Todd McCarthy was particularly tough on Besson’s latest effort, saying, ‘Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets really is that bad, bad enough you don’t know for longest time that Valerian is one of the lead characters and not a planet or a spaceship.’


Steve Pond  of The Wrap was slightly more charitable, saying ‘(Luc) Besson takes all that fun and color, along with a wild array of fantastic creatures, and deploys (them) in service of a big, dopey story that remains resolutely uninvolving and quite often annoying.’

Now, as I said earlier, it’s early days yet and a few mediocre reviews aren’t likely enough to torpedo Valerian’s chances at the domestic box office (after all, it’s taken five movies before many moviegoers in the United States noticed that the Transformers movies are really, really bad).

Though I get the feeling at that we’re not going to see Spider-Man: Homecoming-type box office when the movie goes into wide release.

Valerian and the City of A Thousand Planets – ‘Space Is MAGIC’ – Trailer

Luc Besson is nothing if not ambitious and Valerian and the City of A Thousand Planets is his most ambitious feature yet, but I am concerned.

The movie, based on a French comic book written by Pierre Christin and illustrated by Jean-Claude Mézières, is likely unfamiliar to most Americans, which is likely why the director spends quite a bit of time in the trailer telling the viewer what it is they’re going to see, and what it’s  based on.

If I were promoting the movie in the United States I’d  bypass the origins of the characters–which domestic audiences are likely unaware –and instead concentrate on two things:

  • Spectacle

Valerian appears to be visually spectacular, as if Besson took the visual esthetic of The Fifth Element and combined it with Star Wars and Avatar.  Movies are all about diversion and this is an aspect that–in promotional materials–needs to be played up (it goes without saying that he movie itself will hopefully have a story that matches the visuals) even more than it is in this trailer.

Promise a visual experience like no other.  And sure, it’s likely not to be the case –I have seen few, if any, movies to actually live up to such hype–but it doesn’t stop movies from saying it, so Valerian might as well do the same.

  • Competition

Valerian cost somewhere between $170-200 million dollars to produce and while I expect it will perform strongest in Europe (where familiarity with the source material is likely greater) I wouldn’t discount it doing well in most international markets.

How well it does domestically depends upon when it is released, and perhaps more importantly, what it is released against.   It it performs (domestically) like Universal’s The Mummy, which had Wonder Woman to content with, then it had better do as well as that movie did internationally (despite not starring an actor with the international pull of a Tom Cruise) or there might be troubles for EuropaCorp (Besson’s production company, though the movie is released domestically via STX.).

Though if Valerian has a month or so alone (and there’s no Spider-Man: Homecoming waiting in ambush) competing with smaller releases it’s likely to do just fine.