Thursday, December 24, 2009

New UFO film

The original UFO's opening sequence. One of the best title squences in the history of television!

Apparently plans are well advanced to make a film based on Gerry Anderson's paranoid classic UFO. Now, given the travesty that was Thuderbirds, this should fill Agent Triple P with dread but director Matthew Gratzner does seem to have a firm grasp on the essentials of the original. Gratzner is one of those special effects technicians turned directors which doesn't usually work as whilst they can handle the visuals they often have trouble dealing with those troublesome actor chappies.

"What I want to do with UFO is what Christopher Nolan did with the Batman franchise, or Martin Campbell did with Casino Royale.” says Gratzner “UFO is not a spoof, or a parody or a kids' movie. It's a pretty dark story, actually…it is not a show for young children.”

This is a pretty good sign. The film is planned to be the first of a trilogy of UFO films. SHADO is still going to be sited under a British film studio (talks are going on with Shepperton and Pinewood at present), they are going to use the original characters, vehicles and even the original theme music. All very promising.

“My biggest goal for this is, firstly, to not alienate the fans of the original show. We're not picking up where the series left off - we are starting from the very beginning. We really take the franchise seriously, unlike a film such as Thunderbirds, where they were saying 'here's a franchise that was great and everybody loved it, now let's put a whole new spin on it...'. We're not doing that. There's a reason UFO has a following, there's a reason that Gerry Anderson has a following, and for us to overlook that or take that for granted would be foolish."

So far only one character has been cast, Col. Paul Freeman (Michael Billington in the Anderson show), who will be played by Dawson's Creek actor Joshua Jackson (who went out with Katie Holmes before she married Tom Cruise). Jackson was excellent in Dawson's Creek so should be a solid core for the new film.

Ali Larter. Also luscious

Also currently in talks to play Col. Virginia Lake (the luscious Wanda Ventham in the original) is Ali Larter, latterly best known for cult TV show Heroes. There is a Dawson's Creek connection here too as she co-starred with Dawson himself, James van der Beek in Varsity Blues (1999).

The incomparable Gabrielle Drake

Agent Triple P is more interested in who they get to play Lt Gaye Ellis, portayed in the original by the incomparable Gabrielle Drake.

Grazner's special effects company, New Deal, encouragingly, has not moved lock, stock and barrel over to CGI. They still mix in matte paintings and miniatures with their digital work (as Weta Workshop did in The Lord of the Rings) which Agent Triple P thinks gives a much more organic feeling to the finished image.

The groovy Harry Stoneham

It's good to hear that they will be using Barry Gray's original theme music although it will be in a orchestral version by Julliard educated composer Richard Sortomme. For Agent Triple P. though, nothing characterises Anderson's groovy vision of 1980 like Gray's original version with Harry Stoneham (later to be composer of the Parkinson show theme and musical director of that show) on the Hammond B3 organ.

Shooting is due to start in 2010 for a 2011 release. Can't wait!