Written By: Ken Hulsey
Sources: Cannes Press Release / Official website / Facebook page / YouTube Channel / Robert Hood / Avery Guerra
Over the past five years Asian cinema has become a hot bed of creativity with each new film aspiring to push the envelope in regards to special effects and action. In China, particularly, film makers have taken every opportunity to try and match the level of production seen in Japan and especially here in Hollywood.
To do this, Chinese film companies have lured in outside talent, both in front of, and behind the camera, to try and play 'catch-up' with the 'big boys' in the fantasy film biz.
A prime example of this is the effects heavy, "Empires of the Deep", which boasts both cast and crew from Europe, America, and of course, China.
Now, producer Guy Orlebar is following in the same footsteps to produce his 3D giant robot epic, "Future Fighters", signing big name talent from the United States, Japan, and let us not forget, China as well.
On a side note, Eiko Sato (photo above) has made our "Top Ten Hottest Women" list both in 2008 and 2009!
So far, the film's cast boasts Ray Park (The Phantom Menace), Eriko Satô (Cutie Honey), Lisa Sa (Lisa Cheng)(Chinese model, athlete and gymnast) and Yasaki “David” Kurata (Blood: The Last Vampire).
Like most of us, Orlebar grew up watching Japanese robot cartoons like, "Macross" and "Transformers" and these shows heavily influenced the development of "Future Fighters".
The film maker explains, "I’m an Eighties kid, and a huge fan of the animated Transformers show and all the fantastic mecha, particularly giant robot, shows that were being shown in Japan at that time. Shows like Macross (known as Robotech in the US), Patlabor, GUNDAM, of course — loads more. But we’d never really seen any of these types of stories coming out of Hollywood before. Okay there’d been a few. I’m not sure how many people remember Robot Jox [directed by Stuart Gordon] or the English language live‐action Gundam G‐Saviour. But it wasn’t until Steven Spielberg, against all conventional Hollywood wisdom, decided to big‐up his live action Transformers with director Michael Bay, that Hollywood finally sat up and took notice, especially because as we all know Transformers as well as Transformers 2 did phenomenally well. Personally, I preferred Korean director Nelson Shin’s 1986 animated theatrical version of Transformers in terms of style and emotion and coolness… but I was only 8 at the time which probably helped! (laughs)"
"Anyway, I totally respect Misters Spielberg and Bay for reviving the franchise and making Transformers go mainstream. It may not be the Transformers I grew up with, but it’s great that it’s going strong, and has ushered in an entire new generation of Transformer fans. So Future Fighters is our contribution to expanding the giant robot genre. Other examples that this genre is now taking off include Spiderman Tobey Maguire’s recently announced Robotech live‐action adaptation, and the live‐action adaptation of Voltron, another Eighties anime shown also in the West."
Which of the numerous Japanese giant robot anime shows impressed the film maker the most?
"One of the strongest influences to the story of Future Fighters is the original Japanese animated TV show, Macross, which as I mentioned earlier US readers will probably know as the first Robotech installment." Orlebar adds. "And which Transformers fans will know from the original Jet Fire toy, which I did have as a kid. This Macross story is basically a love‐triangle between the main three characters set against a war between humans and big green aliens who battle in these fantastic robotic fighters. The robots, or mecha — the Japanese word for mechanical designs — are treated as little more than part of the background, and instead it’s the human drama between the three characters that takes centre stage — something which is also very similar to the Japanese TV show, and two of Mamoru Oshii’s animated feature films, Patlabor, where the robots in that show are really nothing more than fancy police patrol cars but still looked so cool and made the show so distinctive."
"So, apart from the big green aliens in Macross, I really liked this concept of putting human relationships first and keeping the mecha secondary. But, and this is true for all Japanese mecha shows, the mechanical designs have to be unique and original, and utterly distinctive. I read in an article by Spielberg how all his best characters are instantly recognizable from their silhouette only… just think of Jaws, ET, Indiana Jones. Very good advice for designing memorable characters or imagery."
Though giant robot anime is the basis for "Future Fighter", Orlebar also drew inspiration from the work of classic sci fi novelists.
"In my teens I read Arthur C. Clarke’s sequels to 2001: A Space Odyssey: 2010, 2061 and, er, what was the most recent one? 3001. In 2010, or maybe 2061, Clarke writes about some of the fantastic moons around Jupiter. I don’t want to give too much away here, but anyway they’re not just rocks, and they definitely both feature in some of the key visuals for Future Fighters. And there’s a whole bunch of other stuff out there too which I learned about and which have been discovered only in the past few years. Really fascinating."
"… One of the great things about [Clarke's] novels is they are all steeped in science and realism. That’s also something I want to achieve with Future Fighters: bringing the science back to science fiction. Honestly, there’s no sound in space, and (unless you’re spinning around) there’s no such thing as artificial gravity in a spaceship. The challenge, and what we’re aiming to achieve with Future Fighters, is to keep it real without losing any of the great action, pace and excitement of a fabulous sci‐fi adventure. Imagine like a cross between the first Star Wars film and Stanley Kubrik’s seminal 2001: A Space Odyssey. That’s what we’re aiming for."
Looks like Orlebar's head is in the right place. So, I suppose your wondering how the film maker is going to tie all this together for "Future Fighter"? Well, maybe this plot synopsis will shed some light on the subject?:
It is the 22nd Century. After bringing irreversible destruction to our planet’s habitable environment in their relentless plunder of resources, the Earth’s leading mega-conglomerates lead humanity into space to colonise the night skies and forge a new future, leaving behind the barren Earth as a ruined, radioactive wasteland, with humankind seemingly destined never to return. For the past fifty years the colonies living amongst the planets of our solar system have been at peace.
But now, out of the ashes of the scorched Earth a new evil emerges, threatening to engulf the entire free solar system into a terrible darkness. Now, never before has the fate of all humankind lain in the hands of so few — a small clutch of brave mercantile militia soldiers, and their sophisticated interstellar fighting machines, stationed at a military garrison outpost orbiting the planet Jupiter and its moons. Pitted against impossible odds, they must fight… for the future. But they will soon unwittingly and devastatingly discover that, in space, the blackest darkness is in the hearts of men.
Countless fighter craft explode, battleships are ripped apart, moons shatter, love is lost and found, and whole atmospheres ignite in huge planet-sized fireballs in this exciting new, big-budget, CG-heavy, sci-fi epic [...], which features never-before-imagined non-stop zero-G action stretching from the serene azure Neptune-filled skies of the exotic, geyser-filled moon Triton, to the heights of the colossal Olympus Mons on Mars, through the volcanic, hellish landscape of Jupiter’s Io and icy depths of the subterranean oceans on Europa, crashing through the rings of Saturn and methane rain and lakes of its moon Titan, and down into the ubiquitous, ravaging Giant Red Eye storm of Jupiter itself!
Also on board for "Future Fighter" are action director Dee Dee Ku (Matrix 2&3, Kill Bill 1&2, The Mummy 3), 3D cinematographer Henry Chung, composer Robert Ellis-Geiger, and actors Reuben Langdon (Avatar, Spiderman 2, Pirates Of The Caribbean 3) and Kazuya Shimizu (Azumi, Big Man Japan, Returner).
Amazingly, the film has been moving forward, quite effectively, without a director, which according to Orlebar, will be announced before this years San Diego Comic Con.
We will have to wait and see if "Future Fighter" can stand out among all of the giant robot films due to be released over the next few years including "Gaiking", "Robotech", "Voltron", "Battletech", "Transformers 3" and the Korean produced "Taekwon V".
Here is the teaser trailer and some production/behind-the-scenes images from "Future Fighters":
See Also: More Info On Jules Urbach's Shogun Warrior Movie "Gaiking" / Get Ready With Your Finger Missiles And Robot Punch! The Shogun Warriors Are Coming To The Big Screen! / Move Over Power Rangers & Ultraman - Korea's 'SFX Fantasy Rayforce' Is Here! / Mazinger Z - Soul Of Chogokin Action Figure / The Triumphant Return Of Mazinger Z / Brand New Photos From Won Shin-yeon's Taekwon V / Mazinger Z Jumbo Grendizer 24-Inch Figure / Two Great New Video Clips Of Robot Taekwon V / Great Mazinger TOP Collection #5 Statue / Production Has Begun On The Live-Action Robot Taekwon V Movie / TOP Collection Mazinger Z Figure / Mazinkaiser (1999)(2001) OVA / Mazinkaiser Revoltech Action Figure
The Top Ten Hottest Women Of 2009 / Top Ten Hottest Women Of 2008 / Kyûteî Hanî / Cutie Honey
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