The remake of Gerry Anderson's ultra-campy alien-fighting TV series UFO will be deadly serious, along the lines of Batman Begins or Casino Royale, insists director Matthew Gratzner. But is it a bad sign that Ali Larter is set to co-star?
Larter is in talks to play Virginia Lake, the "strong but feminine" woman at the heart of the show, says Gratzner. She'd be starring opposite Joshua Jackson, who's playing pilot Paul Foster.
And the new movie is already planned as the first installment in a trilogy — the first screenplay is written, and the second and third movies exist in treatment form. The movie's aliens will still be evil organ-stealing bastards, and they'll be humanoid instead of District 9-style creatures. It sounds like a recipe for exciting G.I. Joe-style schlock, but apparently that's not the goal.
Gratzner, a veteran special-effects worker, tells Forbidden Planet:
What I want to do with UFO is what Christopher Nolan did with the Batman franchise, or Martin Campbell did with Casino Royale. 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.
You could argue, of course, that both Batman and James Bond had a track record of being dark and tackling adult themes before those films appeared, whereas UFO has a track record of this:
Great pep talk: "You're doing a fine job — a man's job. But you don't have to do it any better just because you're a woman [in a Lady GaGa costume.] And don't forget, you're a very pretty girl." And then they make the other woman stand with her leg raised , in a silver miniskirt. When she tries to move, they're like, "Hold it right there." As she says, "Not the most flattering of pin-ups."
Anderson's first live-action science fiction series, before Space: 1999, UFO is a delightfully campy adventure show about SHADO, a secret organization that fights evil organ-harvesting aliens. The moonbase staff all wear purple wigs and shiny silver outfits, and the music is jazzay, sixties style.
On the other hand, reading between the lines of Gratzner's interview, it sounds like he really wants to make something closer to J.J. Abrams' Star Trek, keeping a lot of the concept design and silly outfits of the original, but with a smidge more character development and slightly more serious plots. But he's namechecking Batman Begins and Casino Royale because they're the gold standard for reboots right now. In any case, an Abrams-esque remake could be an attainable goal, and could actually do quite well amidst a swarm of Nolan-wannabes. Fingers crossed! [Forbidden Planet]