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Posts Tagged ‘The Thing’

Helix: Billy Campbell talks new sci-fi series about deadly pandemic

helixBy Richard Crouse Metro – Canada

“I’ve been reading film scripts for over 30 years,” says Helix star Billy Campbell, “and I could probably count on my hands and feet all the truly, truly great scripts I’ve read. The rest are, to various degrees, garbage.”

Campbell, a veteran of big screen features like The Rocketeer and Francis Ford Coppola’s Dracula, says, “the hour-and-a-half format of telling a story is unnatural. You either have to do like they do in Bollywood movies and have a four-hour movie tell a story or do like European films do. They tell small, intimate human stories. Moments in people’s lives. That’s more appropriate to the format.”

That opinion may explain why he’s been spending more and more time on the small screen on shows like Once and Once Again, The O.C. and The Killing.

His latest project, the sci-fi series Helix debuts on Showcase on Friday. Produced by Battlestar Galactica creator Ronald D. Moore, its sprawling story of a deadly disease outbreak couldn’t fit into a 90-minute film.

“Television is a place where you can tell a great story,” he says. “You have the time. AMC coined the phrase, Slow Burn Storytelling. You have the time to develop characters, develop storylines in a way that is not artificial. Or doesn’t seem to be artificial.”

The pilot script for the Montreal-shot series appealed to the ruggedly handsome actor because he’s a fan of science fiction, horror and speculative fiction.

“When I read the pilot script the first thing that popped into my head was The Andromeda Strain, then John Carpenter’s The Thing and a little bit of Walking Dead popped in there as well. We don’t have zombies. I think what we have is a great deal scarier than zombies. What we have are living human beings, terribly infected, who have a pathological compulsion to infect others.”

He describes the show as “intense, but still an escape.” But an escape from what?

“There seems to be an obsession with not just speculative fiction but stuff that is not our real life. I couldn’t say why, except to think that perhaps we’re so unhappy with our present lives. We might need to get away. Some people like to escape by being scared.”

As an actor on the show he says the most exciting part of the process is “to come to work and try to do the next outlandish thing they’ve written. That’s exciting.”


Fantastic-Four01At the beginning of The Rise of the Silver Surfer the Fantastic Four—Mr. Fantastic, The Invisible Woman, The Thing and The Human Torch—are tabloid celebrities. They have endorsement deals, always travel in first class and their every move is followed by the press. They’re just like Paris Hilton, except that she’s in jail and they aren’t. Oh, and rather than commit crimes, they solve them, and by the end of this movie will have saved the entire world.

On the eve of the marriage between Mr. Fantastic (Ioan Gruffudd) and The Invisible Woman (Jessica Alba) strange atmospheric disturbances begin to plague the earth. Seas freeze and giant craters start to pop up everywhere. Despite the trouble the superheroes decide to go ahead with the wedding as planned. Just before the “I do’s” a shiny silver man on a shiny silver surfboard whizzes by, disrupting everything, and very nearly mussing Jessica Alba’s really fake looking blonde hair.

Some scientific mumbo jumbo later it is revealed that every time the Silver Surfer buzzes a planet, it dies eight days later. Call him Mr. Global Warming.

No one likes a deadline, but the Fan 4 jump into action, with the help of the army and their former nemesis Victor Von Doom (Nip and Tuck’s Julian McMahon) who has returned from the dead and may have some crucial information to help save the world. With time counting down the Silver Surfer will, to paraphrase Brian Wilson, have fun, fun, fun until the Fan 4 take his surfboard away.

The Rise of the Silver Surfer is a vast improvement on the first movie in this franchise, 2005’s Fantastic Four, which made a lot of money (hence the sequel) but offered little in the way of good story-telling or even interesting special effects. Neither film is as smart as any of the X-Men movies, as stylish as Spider-Man 1 or 2, or even as action-packed as Batman Begins, but they do manage to capture some of the goofy fun of the comic books. Corny jokes pepper the script, and instead of taking their usual powers seriously, the superheroes seem to have fun with them. The Invisible Girl uses her magical cloaking abilities to make a zit disappear on her wedding day and Mr. Fantastic, more colloquially know as Rubber Man really struts—or should that be stretches—his stuff on the dance floor.

Teenagers and fans of the comic books should enjoy the action sequences, the bad guy, Dr. Doom, a villain so over-the-top dramatic he makes the Phantom of the Opera look like he’s auditioning for a high school glee club, the straightforward story—there’s no background info, dark sides or any of the other stuff that often make movies based on comic books a bit of a slog—and The Silver Surfer who is just flat out cool.

Too bad the acting isn’t better—we’re looking at you Alba and Grufudd—and the dialogue a little sharper. The Fantastic Four are hugely popular comic book characters, unfortunately when translated to the screen they’re not quite fantastic, just adequate.


1136507-30daysofnight_vampires_1_It’s amazing that more bad stuff hasn’t happened in the isolated town of Barrow. Located literally at the Top of the World, this fictional Alaskan town is desolate, freezing cold and has one month a year with absolutely no sunshine whatsoever. It’s the stuff that Hollywood nightmares are made of.

When this sleepy little town is invaded by blood sucking freaks who move fast, howl for no reason and are in desperate need of a visit to the dentist, the townsfolk are terrified yet spend most of the movie running through the snow yelling, “What the hell is going on?” to anyone still left alive.

Why they are surprised is a bit of a mystery to me. Anyplace that dark and out-of-the-way is just asking for a supernatural invasion of some kind. They should just be thankful it didn’t happen a long time ago.

It’s a good set up for a horror film. 30 Days of Night mixes the isolationism of The Thing with the conventions of a zombie film—the survivors hole up in a “safe house” while chaos reigns outside—to create an effectively creepy story with enough gore to keep the hard core fans happy.

With a setting this perfectly creepy the cast doesn’t have to do much other than swing the odd axe and grimace appropriately through blood smeared lips. Josh Hartnett is the love-sick sheriff who one ups George A. Romero’s classic “shoot them in the head” defense by getting up close and personal with these creatures of the night and using an axe to decapitate them. Former Australian roller skating national champion Melissa George is his gun toting ex-wife, while Danny Huston, son of Hollywood legend John, brother to Angelica, is Marlow, the head vampire with a mouth full of rotten fangs and a wardrobe that looks borrowed from Marilyn Manson. Mark Boone Junior is great as a Grizzly Adams type who meets a particularly… grizzly end.

Based on a graphic novel of the same name, 30 Days of Night is packed solid with thrills and is the best horror film of the year.