Worlds We Know

September 9th, 2014

Worlds We Know

This one was actually finished a couple of months ago. I started it late 2013 I think and I don’t really know anymore why. I guess there was no specific reason other than experimenting with Vue. As usual a sudden, unexpected creative spark fired up and I continued to work on it.

As usual I started with a simple setup in mind and ended up with more detail than I actually wanted. Even though it’s still pretty reduced to the basics. I guess I also wanted to play more with what DAZ characters can do. For the pose of our lady I started with a preset and invested quite some extra time to work on smaller details. Also wanted to streamline the process of using DAZ characters in my work. So it’s ultimately a learning piece I guess. In between testrenders I even had one atmosphere that was much darker but still kind of cool looking. I stepped away from it because the darker atmosphere and the highlights it created didn’t point to the spots in the pic that I wanted the viewer to see. That’s when I decided to stay daytime with some popping colours.

Technically it’s Vue, DAZ Studio and Photoshop for this one. Business as usual, I worked out a plate in Vue for later detail work in Photoshop. A lot of fixing of elements, overpainting and creating mood. I also worked with some displacement mapping in Vue, to get some waves into the pool to suggest that our lovely lady is walking, instead of just standing there. That process turned out to be a little tricky, but again… learning by doing. The result works I think. I definitely wanted this to be colourful and popping. The result certainly is colourful and I’m not sure if it’s really my taste because I usually enjoy a more balanced colourpalette. That’s ok though. Trying new stuff and playing around can’t be wrong if something a little decent comes from it.

Vue – DAZ Studio – Photoshop – 5000x2283px

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Guardians Of The Galaxy – Movie Review

September 8th, 2014

movie reviewAs usual with Marvel movies I have to start this one with saying that I’m not too familiar with the comics and have no specific idea how much of the comics went into this movie. That said… this movie pretty much rocks. Quite literally. I was following the development of this movie from early on. Once first details came out I really liked what they were going for. I hoped for some really creative stuff that hopefully does not involve Earth and shows us some places we haven’t seen yet. I wanted this movie to give the whole Marvel universe a new twist and perspective. Since it (yes it does) takes place in the same universe as The Avengers. Who knows if there will ever be a specific crossover but just the idea is pretty cool. It’s like a completely different world within the Marvel universe.

I don’t want to go into specific plot details since you should really go and see this film. Let’s just say that we mostly follow Peter Quill (Chris Pratt) from Earth, who got abducted as a young kid and grew up to be some sort of scavenger/bounty hunter in space. He’s looking for the ‘Orb’. An artifact a lot of people are looking for apparently. Once he found it, he’s not exactly making friends and ends up with a bounty on his head. A Racoon (Voice: Bradley Cooper) and his Tree-creature like friend (Voice: Vin Diesel) capture Quill, but not without bumping into Gamora (Zoe Saldana), who is trying to get the artifact. They all end up in a space prison where they meet Drax. All of them come together and manage to escape with the help of some great teamwork. When they find out how much the Orb is worth they decide to split the cash. Of course things do not work out as expected and once they discover the power the Orb holds, everything goes against them.

When it comes to the story you could almost say “have you seen one Marvel movie, you have seen them all”. It’s a weak spot in this otherwise great picture. Another thing that’s business as usual is the fact that the villain was pretty weak again. He’s not fleshed out enough to really care about his motivations. He’s just there to be the bad guy. And one scene in space that, for my taste, did go a little too far into “who cares about science” territory. After a kinda hoaky flashback at the start of the movie it soon finds its path and starts to get intertaining. Along with so many other big action summer blocbuster productions this movie is also falling into the trap of lining up one action sequence after another. Over the span of this movie there were enough things to counter these negative impressions though. Especially the way the film establishes its characters. It’s all done bit by bit throughout the movie and no single big exposition dump where everything is explained at once. So the characters stay fresh throughout the film and at the end still have some secrets left for a, highly possible, sequel. As successful as the movie is now, it’s a great statement for visual and character originality. Marvel risked something with this movie. They took fairly unknown comic characters and picked James Gunn, a director that doesn’t have much experience with science fiction fantasy. But what he’s great with is interaction between characters and especially the humor that can be found within these characters. Much like Joss Whedon who did a fairly good job with the Avengers movie.

Now to some technical things. The direction by James Gunn works really well and shows in the more quiet moments when we have some witty character interaction and conversations. Especially the funny stuff! The overall acting is pretty much flawless and enjoyable. The interaction between CG and live action characters is pretty amazing. The motion capture, 3d, design and voice work is fantastic and does a good job bringing us closer to the CG characters. What I’m talking about? Rocket and Groot of course. These two have a great relationship going on and couldn’t be more different on the outside. Together they are almost unstoppable. Aside from the characters this movie lives from the places it shows. We get to see some fantastic environments and planets. Probably some of the most creative stuff to see in a film right now. It’s obvious that the concept artists had fun with this movie and it definitely shows in the result. We also have one of the most beautiful colour palettes going on there. Every place has a different feel, lighting and colour mood. Everything well balanced and thought through from an artistic standpoint. Just gorgeous to look at and a lot of fun.


Guardians Of The Galaxy on IMDb

Adobe Master Class Book Feature

September 6th, 2014

Adobe Master Class: Advanced Compositing in Photoshop

Recently “Adobe Master Class: Advanced Compositing in Photoshop” written by Bret Malley was released and is now available. In the book he very thouroughly explains various Photoshop techniques to achieve and realize all kinds of visual ideas. The book itself comes in very nice shape, printed on very good paper and an easy to follow layout. Now what role do I play? Well, not a too big one but still something I’m sorta proud of. Beside great artists like Andree Wallin, I’m featured in the Ebook version of the book that can be bought separately or downloaded if you already own a print book version. The cool thing about the Ebook version is that it comes with a bonus chapter about Scifi!

Right now there is also a Discount/Promo code available if you buy a copy via the Peachpit site. The Promocode is: AMC2014

Adobe Master Class: Advanced Compositing in Photoshop on Peachpit: here

Adobe Master Class: Advanced Compositing in Photoshop on Amazon: here



Impact No. 5

August 25th, 2014

Impact No. 5

This one was created for the latest issue of the ‘All About Space’ magazine. Topic for the article is, yes you’re right… Apocalypse. I enjoy this pic quite a bit and it does a nice job printed in the magazine here.

All About Space on the Internet: here

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Dawn Of The Planet Of The Apes – Movie Review

August 25th, 2014

movie reviewI bought the first part of this movie on Bluray. The reason why? Well, it came with the 1968 Charlton Heston original. Fantastic! But no, I didn’t hate the first one. I actually liked it for what it wanted to be. Solid characters, some impressive VFX work and a small hint on what’s in store for the sequel.

Now that certain hint is maybe something you don’t remember too vividly since the first movie glanced over it a bit. Don’t worry though, it’s explained in the opening sequence of this second part. Some nice animation graphics and compositing work there. After that short introduction we find ourselfes a couple of decades in the future. Due to a virus, originating from the laboratory that kind of gave Caesar his intellect, mankind went almost extinct and struggles to get back on its feet.

It’s a post-apocalypse setting placed in and around San Francisco. While the humans stood in the city and built a kind of colony, the apes found a place in the Redwoods and built a nice home there as well. In order to maintain electricity for the small human colony they send out a small team to secure a dam that’s located somewhere near the woods. Man and Ape co-existed rather peacefully up until that point and barely took notice from each other. Now our team, on the search for the dam, has to cross Ape territory. That’s potential for conflict. The fact that one of the humans shoots one of the apes doesn’t help the cause.

Caesar spares the humans and allows them to explain themselfes. Both come to an agreement and the humans get safe passage to the dam. Of course there is this one human character that manages it to destroy all trust between the team and the apes. From here on out it’s a little back and forth between our small team (a father (Jason Clarke), his girlfriend (Keri Russell), his son (Kodi Smit-McPhee) and three helpers) and Caesar. This is the part where the movie dragged a little for me. The end of the first act basically. Even though there are some good moments in there. Especially when it pulls on your heart strings a bit.

Caesar doesn’t have the best position since he’s getting some criticism about how he’s handling the situation with the humans. Some of them argue that he’s too soft with them and would do better to send them away or kill them. Especially Koba, one of Caesars closest friends and ally. Koba is with Caesar since the beginning and was one of the apes that had a really rough time in the laboratory. So his motivation is unterstandable. He’s only seen the worst of humanity. Caesar on the other hand knows both sides of humanity. And that’s why he’s helping the team to even repair the dam.

From that point on the movie shifts gear and things start to move a little faster, without losing the emotion that it built up to this point. Koba decides that he’s not happy with the situation and discoveres that the human colony is preparing weapons. What he doesn’t know is that these weapons were not prepared for an attack. They were thought for defence. Koba starts to manipulate the apes around him and sabotages Caesar and his try to build a bridge between the humans and apes. Koba manages to get the upper hand and soon enough the ape society turned into a dictatorship of sorts. Koba leads them straight to war and attacks the human colony in San Francisco.

Like I said, I had some problems in the first act. The movie establishes a lot of things, goings ons and I didn’t know where it was going. I also didn’t know who to root for. This changed later in the movie. But to get there took a while. It’s certainly very fascinating how the movie portraits the ape society and how things are done there. They communicate via sign-language (with subtitles) and sometimes even speak. I found it very interesting that they chose to go for subtitles. It’s a point that potentially would have made the movie rather goofy. Speaking apes… you know? But they found the right solution and balance. They do speak in certain situations but it’s very animalistic and sometimes even hard to understand. The ape characters are done so extremely well that it was pretty much impossible to tell them apart from the real live footage. The CG work was exceptional. Some matte paintings looked a little rushed but that’s a nitpick. The facial expressions and the way the apes moved looked great and Andy Serkis, who made himself a name for playing CG characters like Gollum, King Kong surely did a fantastic job as Caesar here. There was a little controversy about him saying that the CG work to create the characters is far less important than his performance in the motion capturing process. I have to disagree with him wholeheartedly. While I absolutely give him credit for some outstanding work and acting, it’s maybe a 60/40 between the work of the CG department and his motion capturing. 60% of the success of his characters definitely belongs to the people who created the creatures he’s playing. Especially when looking at how insanely detailed Caesar looks in this movie. The fur, textures, lighting and so many other things (that even I have no idea of and I do kind of work in that CG field) that have to come together to make Serkis’s performance to work in the first place. Nonetheless I would applaud if Serkis would at least get an Oscar nomination. Also the fact that it were not the “stupid humans” that started the war was very welcome. Yes they started the aggression but tried to make it all good and helped the apes with some issues they had. The apes turned it into a war. I liked that. The humans and apes represented a nice mirror of how things normally work out in our world. No matter how intelligent a species may be.

This movies doesn’t need to be over 2 hourse long. There was room for trimming, especially in the first act. The main protagonists are clearly the apes. The humans felt a little flat. I also wished that Gary Oldman (playing the leader of the human colony) had more space. His character has to face some difficult decisions and there was potential for some drama. The ending part with Gary Oldman felt a little forced though. Almost out of character. I did not expect him to go that route. He seemed more intelligent than that. But anyway… the movie is worth a watch for sure.

A 7.5 for this one.

Dawn Of The Planet Of The Apes on IMDb

All About Space Magazine No. 29

August 22nd, 2014

All About Space Issue No. 29

Not long ago I got contacted by the All About Space Magazine to do an apocalyptic scenario of an Asteroid impact near a well known city. So I did a little Digital Matte Painting for the current issue of All About Space. The article I’ve done it for is about possible doomsday scenarios, quite an interesting read. If you are a Space fan then I’d suggest you check out this magazine. Really interesting topics and facts in there.

All About Space on the Internet: here

All About Space on Facebook: here



Assassin’s Cradle by Rupert Pollard

August 10th, 2014

Assassin's Cradle

A couple of weeks ago I made a cover for self publishing writer Rupert Pollard. Nothing groundbreaking when it comes to the picture but it fits the authors idea and what he had in mind. He sent me a copy, which you can see in the photo, and it looks really good. I haven’t read the book yet but definitely plan to do so.

Here a short description: “In the future, galaxy-spanning conglomerates use subterfuge and treachery in a never-ending struggle for domination. Idries Tanarra, a naïve and overconfident operative, must build a network of allies to help him overthrow the malignant government of Ganoten, but he didn’t expect to fall in love, an operative’s fatal flaw. As he closes in on a solution, allies turn into deadly enemies, and competing forces seek to take advantage of the opportunity he creates. Can he navigate the perilous politics of espionage? Can he divine friend from foe when the stakes are survival? Will his decisions be his undoing or can he escape his predicament to take the ultimate step out of the assassin’s cradle?”

Rupert Pollard on Facebook: here

Assassin’s Cradle on Amazon: here



Jodorowsky’s Dune – Movie Review

August 3rd, 2014

movie reviewIt’s safe to say that this was probably the most influential movie that was never made. If you are a film fan and remotely interested in filmmaking history then this documentary by Frank Pavich will be right on your alley. It’s about Alejandro Jodorowsky (also called Jodo and now in his 80s) and his attempt to film his version of Frank Herbert’s “Dune” in 1975. I admit I have never seen his movies (like El Topo or The Holy Mountain) or any other of his art projects. From what I knew he is known for his very unique style and abstract imagery in film.

This documentary knows very well that there are more Scifi and Dune fans out there than hardcore movie fans that know the name Jodorowsky. So the trip starts with an introduction to who Jodorowsky is and what he’s mostly known for. It explains his unique approach to art and movie making very well and introduces the viewer to the character that is Jodorowsky. I would say he’s ‘the living passion’. As soon as we see him and hear him, we learn that this man is full of emotion, drive and… passion. Especially of course when it’s about his work.

He says he never read Frank Herbert’s classic and all he knows about it was told to him by friends who loved the book. Immediately a vision began to take shape in Jodorowsky’s head. His friend Michel Seydoux, who previously worked as Producer on projects with Jodorowsky, gave Jodo free hand on what to do next. Jodorowsky just said “Dune!” and Seydoux said “Sure, why not!” and both embarked on the journey to realize the vision.

When you hear Jodorowsky talk about how they started pre-production with writing the screenplay, doing concept art and creating a shot for shot storyboard, you don’t have a choice than just to think that this movie was meant to be. Especially when Jodo is talking about how he met all the people who were involved in the pre-production process or planned to get involved with filming this monster project. It really all sounds like destiny wanted this movie to happen. There are storys about Mick Jagger, Pink Floyd and even Salvador Dali! It’s crazy hearing all this but in context of Jodo’s vision it all makes sense for some strange reason.

Jodo managed to bring together a group of people that were able to artistically bring their absolute best for the project. People like Jean ‘Moebius’ Giraud, Chris Foss and H.R. Giger managed to change the look of how Scifi had to be shown in movies. Their talent defines Scifi even today. And it all started with Jodorowsky trying to realize his vision of Frank Herbert’s Dune. At the time in the early to mid 70s they shared a very special common idea. They wanted to show something completely new. They wanted to break barriers when it came to design, feel and the technical execution of visual effects. All that, of course, comes for a price.

A too high price for the studios. Jodorowsky and his team had a finished and fleshed out idea that they brought from one studio to another. They had this amazing book that contained a scene for scene storyboard, the full script, several pages of concept art and all that on really high quality paper. A true treasure. And still, all of the studios said “thanks for the effort but no”. And it was either because the ideas in the script were to far out there and weird or they wouldn’t simply finance it because the visuals necessary for this movie demanded a really huge budget. No one wanted to risk it. And from my point of view, I couldn’t blame them. Jodo’s vision was weird, brutal and visually strange. Yet… fascinating on so many levels. So ultimately the project failed because no one wanted to finance it. Jodo admits that it was a very hard time for him. His heart was broken.

So the rights for Dune then went to Dino De Lautentis who then produced the David Lynch version of Dune. Jodorowsky’s first thought was very positive. If someone was able to create a similar movie, close to Jodo’s ideas, it was David Lynch. When the movie came out in 1984 Jodo refused to see it. I would have probably reacted the same. Later then he saw it. A funny reaction by Jodo in the documentary because he smiled and was happy because Lynch’s movie was a failure on almost every level. Not just to him but also in the box office, to the critics and fans. And again… it’s a human reaction and I would have probably reacted the same. I personally enjoy Lynch’s Dune and think it definitely has its place. It’s sturcture is completely nuts but it contains enough ideas and weird concepts to stay fresh and interesting.

At the end of this documentary you can come to only one single conclusion. And that would be that Jodorowsky’s Dune is probably the best thing that ‘could have’ happened. By that I mean the fact that this movie was never fully made. Keeping in mind that something like Star Wars most likely never would have happened if Jodorowsky’s Dune were made. And they cover that fact in the documentary. But it also made movies like Alien, Blade Runner and so many other scifi classics possible. I mean, Giger’s design of the Alien alone is a timeless thing, that will look creepy, strange and frightening even to people that aren’t even born yet. And the atmospheric dystopia feel and look of Blade Runner wouldn’t have been possible without Moebius. So we may have lost one crazy Scifi version of Dune but won so many more Scifi movies that contain the ideas of Jodorowsky’s Dune and kinda sorta immortalize his project in a very special way.

Check out this documentary if you’re either a Movie fan, Scifi fan or simply interested in Art. It’s be worth your while!


Jodorowsky’s Dune on IMDb

Nok Tiris

July 21st, 2014

Nok Tiris

In 2011 Jason Huls contacted me to create a picture for a shortfilm (Citizen In The Temple) he’s doing. He sent me the script and when I finished reading it I found it really good. So I picked out the descriptions for the scene and started something. As it normally turns out shortfilms, especially when worked on in spare time, take a while to get done. Everyone working on it has a real job to take care of as well and so it comes that often things get delayed a lot. Earlier this year I was organizing my harddrives and stumbled over the folder with the painting I did for the film. I still liked how it turned out but couldn’t stop myself from adding a little more detail. I contacted Jason asking if the project was still alive and sent him the refined version. The film is in its final production stages but still… good work needs time. =) I also saw that other artists did backgrounds as well… so the film should have some eyecandy for sure.

What we have here is sort of an establishing shot that reveals where most of the story is taking place. The megacity of Nok Tiris. Eolan, the Planet itself, is pretty much dead and deserted. The fundament for the picture was again created with Vue and refined/detailed/overpainted with Photoshop.

5000×2283 – Vue – Photoshop

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Edge of Tomorrow – Movie Review

June 14th, 2014

movie reviewWell, the first thing that comes up is the movie ‘Groundhogs Day’ with Bill Murray from 1993. Even though it’s not fair to compare the two movies. They may share the same idea… but the movies itself couldn’t be more different. Still… this comparison comes up all the time.

Edge of Tomorrow (EoT) shares the same idea but it’s far from being a comedy. Instead it’s a Science Fiction war movie. In its depiction a very ‘reduced to the essence/basics’ movie. It’s not playing around and follows a straight line. It doesn’t sidetrack and keeps its main characters in focus and therefor comes across like a very very efficiently produced movie. And while all that sounds very bleak and uninteresting… it’s, on the contrary, exactly that efficient moviemaking what makes this movie work.

We follow Major William Cage (Tom Cruise), a military officer and sort of a public relations spokesman from the military for the media. He is the typical guy that tries to ‘sell’ the war to civilians to make them join the fight. In short… he’s the typical advertising guy that’s most likely an asshole. And he is an asshole. Cruise does a formidable job in selling that asshole image with his very unique smartassy charming smile. Now what ‘war’ is there? Well, it’s the typical “aliens (called Mimics) invaded Earth and Mankind wants to send them home again” scenario. Now Major Cage is invited to visit General Brigham (Brendan Gleeson) just to get the order that the next day, when the largest offensive ever is scheduled to reclaim Europe, Major Cage will also be there, on the front line, to do media coverage about how the attack is going on. This is a great scene between Cruise and Gleeson. Major Cage, even with his rank as an officer, never fought a single battle in his whole career. He immediately understands that this ‘frontline report’ mission will be very dangerous. Too dangerous for him. Cage is trying to find a way out of his misery and manages it to really seriously anger the General. So much that he’s losing his rank and gets demoted to the rank of Private. Then he finds himself waking up on the military rally grounds that previously was the Heathrow Airport in London. This place looks great and really delivers pictures that kind of look and feel like what you see in documentaries from the day before D-Day in WW2.

There we meet Master Sergeant Farell (Bill Paxton) who is giving Cage hell, brings him to his new platoon and has no mercy, telling him he’ll probably won’t survive the next day. Soon enough the forces are readying for the action and prepare themselves for the invasion. Cage has no clue about anything is pretty much a playball of the circumstances. The invasion is codenamed ‘Downfall’ and the battle itself is kind of an homage to ‘Operation Overlord’, the landing of the Allied forces on the beaches of France in 1944. Except this time the enemy is prepared and everything possible goes, against all predictions, horribly wrong and the enemy anticipated the attack. We see how Cage is stumbling through the battlefield, barely able to make sense of the situation. Soon enough his team is wiped out and the last chance to redeem himself is to blow himself up and take one of the aliens with him. Now that certain Mimic he took out was a special one. Cage suddenly wakes up the day before the invasion and has to live through it all again.

After a couple of repeats he understands what’s happening and understands that he can turn the tide in this war. He also understands that he can’t do it alone. So Cage is trying to make friends with Rita Vrataski (Emily Blunt). She’s the hero of a previous battle and known for her relentless will to kill the enemy. She’s kind of a symbol for hope. Cage of course tried to make his officers understand what is going on with him but naturally no one believes him when he tells them about that strange time-loop effect. But Rita does. We learn that the same thing happened to her in that famous battle at Verdun. Even though she lost her ‘reset’ ability both of them try to find a way to end this war.

So much for an intro to the storyline. Now there is some great acting in this movie. When Cage is entering the first day of the battle he is completely broken. Sweaty, shaking… completely useless. He is basically a joke to all his squad members. And they all do joke about him. Not the best motivation and you can see plain fear in the eyes of Cage. Well done job by Tom Cruise there. He eventually, after a couple of repeats/loops, learns how to handle the situation. Slowly but surely we get the Cruise we know from the Mission Impossible movies for example. It’s a nice transition. But still, Cage is making mistakes and the movie has some very original (and very often funny) ways to show and explain these. In an earlier loop he’s hit by a truck which comes out of nowhere and was just plain funny. You’re a robot if you’re not laughing at that scene. Bill Paxton also works great as Cage’s officer in the Heathrow camp. He’s giving him crap from left and right and seems to have a lot of fun playing that character. Emily Blunt is also very believable in her part as the heroine. Even if she’s very vulnerable, she still stays above all these other soldiers around her. She has a certain ‘grace’ on the battlefield. The way she moves and deals with the enemy just looks really good.

On a technical aspect there’s also not much to critique. The script is solid and even manages it to flesh out background characters enough that you kinda care for them too. Sometimes a little far fetched but still good and efficient in its pacing. The camera work is ok, but has a little too much shaky cam syndrome going on in the battle scenes. On a visual level the movie comes along really bleak. This may turn off some people but for me it added to the visual realism. Then there are the Exo-Suits. Now a lot of fans were not happy when they didn’t manage to make these for the 1998 Starship Troopers movie. Since in the novel the soldiers had such Exoskeleton Suits to fight the Bugs. I guess they had to strip that part due to budget limitations and VFX not being where techniques are nowadays. The aliens often reminded me of the drones in the Matrix movies. Which probably isn’t a fair comparison since the aliens here are organic. It’s mostly their movement style. When they get a closeup and don’t move too much, they actually look quite scary. I have to applaud the fact that (when you get a clean look at them) these creatures finally do look like aliens and not humanoid or like something that could be off Earth.

You can see a lot of influences from all kinds of Scifi literature and movies packed into EoT. From Starship Troopers to The Forever War. Some parts of the film even have a World War 1 flair. But that may be caused by the look they chose for the invasion scenes. In some twisted universe EoT could have even been a sequel to that World Invasion/Battle: LA movie. Thinking about it… it would have been perfect. Battle: LA had a really nice first 30 minutes but became a horrible movie very soon after that.

While watching a review of this movie on, it was noted that this is best videogame movie ever made. And while the movie is not based on a videogame it completely makes sense. The whole mechanic of the movie works like a videogame. Cage basically is the playable character and everytime the (let’s say just for fun) director makes a mistake… Cage has to start the level again! It’s a funny analysis and it could totally make sense! In ye olden days, with the jump’n’run games for example, you really needed some very good timing and planning on how you move through the levels. The same thing happens in the movie. That’s a funny detail worth to mention.

Only the ending felt a tiny bit too much by the book. But that’s merely a taste thing I’d say. Otherwise a very solid and good movie. I like Tom Cruise’s Scifi choices so far. I can’t remember a bad movie with him that’s set in the Scifi genre. It’s also good to see an original movie and not a remake, sequel or prequel making a lot of money and being successful these days.


Edge Of Tomorrow on IMDb