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James Cameron talks Avatar sequels and Terminator 5

- April 13th, 2014

During an Ask Me Anything interview with the reddit community this weekend, James Cameron revealed new information about his forthcoming Avatar sequels. He also answered questions about next year’s Terminator reboot, his plans for Alien 5, his cinematic guilty pleasure and how he would go about finding the missing Malaysian Airlines plane. Here are some of the highlights (some of the questions have been edited for clarity).

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James Cameron. Reuters File

How did you feel about what Prometheus contributes to the Alien story arc?
Interesting. I thought it was an interesting film. I thought it was thought provoking and beautifully, visually mounted, but at the end of the day it didn’t add up logically. But I enjoyed it, and I’m glad it was made. I liked it better than the previous two Alien sequels.

Mr. Cameron: A Na’vi, the Alien Queen and the T-800 Terminator get in a fight. Who wins?
An Armed T-800 with a plasma rifle will clean house, all it has to do is shoot the Alien Queen, and have it bleed on the Na’vi. I would think that all three of them unarmed. Queen beats Na’vi. Queen beats T-800, because the T-800 would tear the arm off a queen, which would dissolve the mantel and shut down the cyborg.
Now a Na’vi riding a leonopteryx, or a Na’vi riding a thanataur, that would be a different story.

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Were you asked to do Alien 3? What happened with Alien 5? And would you consider working on the Prometheus sequels?
[Fox and I] never talked about Alien 3. I don’t remember the timing exactly, but I might have been making The Abyss at that time, also for Fox. What came up was the idea of doing Alien 5, and at one point I pitched that I would write it and produce it, and Ridley would direct it, and we had lunch talking about this, and we were in violent agreement, then nothing happened. What happened was Fox went ahead with Aliens Vs Predator, and I said “I really don’t recommend that, you’ll ruin the franchise, it’s like Universal doing Dracula versus the Werewolf,” and then I lost interest in doing an Alien film. But Prometheus is seen as the A-level alien, as opposed to rather, the derivative. I don’t think I have anything to offer on the Prometheus sequels, that’s Ridley’s, I think I’ll stick to the Avatar universe.

I was just wondering. What did you honestly think of T3, T4, The Sarah Connor Chronicles and all the other non Cameron Terminator works?
Well, I have to be objective, or as objective as possible about that. I’m not big fans of the films, I think that the big ideas of the first movies – I didn’t make the second film until I had an idea as big as the first film, and it had to do with the moral complexity of the story, and asking the audience by the end of the film to cry for a Terminator. I don’t think that the 3rd or 4th film lived up to that potential. Sarah Connor Chronicles I never really watched much of it, so I never gave it a chance I get to get hooked, like you have to with a TV series. I’m hopeful that the new films, which are being made right now as a reboot, but still involving Arnold [Schwarzenegger], will be good. From what I’ve seen from afar, it looks like they will be quite good.

Will Arnold be involved in the Avatar sequels, when do they go into production and how much pressure are you under to make them even better?
As of right now, he and I have not discussed it, and I don’t see a role as the scripts are coming together that would be appropriate for him, so I would say probably not.
The second, third and fourth films all go into production simultaneously. They’re essentially all in preproduction now, because we are designing creatures, settings, and characters that span all three films. And we should be finished with all three scripts within the next, I would say, six weeks.
There’s always pressure, whether it’s a new film or whether it’s a sequel, to entertain and amaze an audience. I’ve felt that pressure my entire career, so there’s nothing new there. The biggest pressure I feel right now is cutting out things I love to get the film down to a length that is affordable. There hasn’t been a problem finding new and wonderful things to include in the movie.

Favourite guilty pleasure movie to watch.
Oh, probably Resident Evil, the first one.

Given your experience with submersibles, do you have any insight into the challenges of finding flight MH370?
Well, I know how it will be done. If these pings that they’re receiving are confirmed as being from the flight recorders, then they’ll triangulate the acoustic data that they have so far, and they’ll generate what’s called a search box. I don’t know how big that will be, but it might be 25-30 miles on a side, it might be a very large piece of ocean. Then there are a suite of tools that can operate at the kind of depth we’re talking about, I believe between 4000-5000 meters. My ultra-deep submersible would not be required at those levels, that’s half of the level it’s designed for.
The next step would be to use an AUV, an autonomous underwater vehicle, and have it run at 400 or 500 feet above the bottom and do a sonar profile of the bottom, it does that by running a search pattern, kind of like mowing the lawn. That takes days or weeks to do. Then you analyze any signatures that are anomalous, that don’t look like flat bottom, and you say are those rocks, is that geology or does that look like the piece of an aircraft? And then once you have those targets, you know where they are on the bottom, then you go back, either with that type of vehicle or an ROV (a remotely operated vehicle) that would be hanging down from a ship on a cable. And you’d take a look essentially with a videocamera. And then you’d be able to identify whether that target was in fact the aircraft you are looking for.
So that’s how it would be done. But it all hinges on whether or not those pings are actually from the black box, and not from something else, like a scientific instrument that’s drifted off course or whatever.

Cameron addressed a host of other topics during his AMA, including Leonardo DiCaprio’s career and getting the star fields right when he updated Titanic. Head over to reddit to read more.

‘Prometheus 2′ moves forward with new writer

- June 18th, 2013

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If you were angry when screenwriter Damon Lindelof announced earlier this year he had no plans to write a sequel to Ridley Scott’s Prometheus, breathe deep. Variety is reporting that 20th Century Fox and Scott Free are turning to Jack Paglen to write Prometheus 2.

Paglen recently wrote the upcoming sci-fi thriller Transcendence, which Christopher Nolan’s longtime cinematographer Wally Pfister is shooting with Johnny Depp, Rebecca Hall, Paul Bettany, Cillian Murphy, Morgan Freeman and Kate Mara.

Prometheus was originally written as a prequel to Alien with Jon Spaihts’ script (titled Alien: Engineers) containing facehuggers and ending less ambiguously (his original concludes on the same planet Ripley and her crew discover in Alien). When Lidelof was brought in, the direct references to Alien were altered, and the film was envisioned as the first part of a new trilogy.

But when Lindelof said he had no interest in writing Part Two (you can read his full excuse over at Slashfilm), Fox execs were “literally freaking out” over how they would continue the adventures of Dr. Elizabeth Shaw (Noomi Rapace) and David (Michael Fassbender). Lindelof’s story left a lot of gaping holes, the biggest of which is what happens to Shaw and David.

Less certain is whether Scott will direct the sequel. He is in post-production on The Counselor with Brad Pitt, and is gearing up to shoot his Moses epic Exodus, which is booked for Dec. 12, 2014.

Although it was always assumed Lindelof would return for Prometheus 2, the writer is no stranger for frustrating fans with stories that leave people hanging (was anyone else bummed by Lost?). And in an interview with The Hollywood Reporter, he revealed he kinda likes it that way.

“… I do think there’s something exciting and challenging about a certain degree of ambiguity in filmmaking. And when you look at the other two science fiction movies that [Ridley Scott] made, the original Alien and Blade Runner, both of those movies are still being debated and speculated and theorized about all this time later. And [we looked at Prometheus as] an archeology dig where we’re basically going to turn up some artifacts and we’re going to put them on the table for everyone to look at. How these artifacts necessarily connect to each other and what the larger story behind them is going to be a matter of some discourse, and the characters in the movie will be having that discourse amongst themselves. But no one’s going to basically come out of the skies and tell them whether or not they’re right or wrong.”

So what do you think? Are you happy Prometheus 2 is on the way, or do you think they should just all move on? Let us know what you think in the comments.

‘Looper’: 43 complaints in 3 minutes

- January 17th, 2013

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You might have gotten a kick out of Rian Johnson’s sci-fi headscratcher, Looper, (I know I did) but the fine folks at Cinema Sins have found plenty to gripe about in the story of time-traveling hit-men that starred Bruce Willis and Joseph Gordon-Levitt.

Listing everything from a discount Shia LaBeouf, to its “Terminator-esque” time paradoxes, they count 43 offending moments in the film.

The sentence: Close the Loop.

Since they started on YouTube last month, Cinema Sins has found dozens of offenses in The Amazing Spider-Man, The Dark Knight Rises, The Avengers, Prometheus and The Hunger Games.

Was Looper really that bad, or are the guys at Cinema Sins being a little nit picky? Watch the clip below and let us know what you think.

Warning: Contains graphic language and spoilers.

Original ‘Prometheus’ script hits web

- November 13th, 2012

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By now, anyone who cared knows that the original version of Ridley Scott’s Prometheus was first dreamt up by Jon Spaihts (The Darkest Hour).

Written as a prequel to Scott’s landmark Alien, which spawned three sequels and two spin-offs, Spaihts’ original draft was reworked by Damon Lindelof (Lost). What had begun as a full-on prequel, was left merely containing some “DNA” of the earlier films.

Well, thanks to Wired, you can now read the original version of Spaihts’ screenplay way back when it was titled, Alien: Engineers.

In case you’re doubtful the script is legit, Spaihts confirmed it is the real deal on Twitter.

 

Some of the character names are different (Noomi Rapace’s Elizabeth Shaw is named Jocelyn Watts and Logan Marshall-Green’s Charlie Holloway goes by Martin Holloway), but the biggest change is the appearance of the chestbursting facehugger itself.

Thanks to David (played in the film by Michael Fassbender), Holloway becomes infected by an alien, and during a particularly graphic sex scene the little guy rears his ugly head.

“He begins to convulse,” Spaihts’s script reads. “A horrible CRACK. In the middle of Halloway’s chest, beneath the sternum, a grotesque head pushes out through the skin… Blood fountains from the ruinous wound.”

Spaihts is OK with the script being freely available online. “The interest in the script speaks, more than anything, to their love of the film and the Alien universe,” he tells Wired.

*Note: Sorry folks, the script has been removed by 20th Century Fox*