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good omeNs Pratchett and Gaiman’s classic tale of demons and angels lands on TV – at last!

the best new movies and tv! GODZILLA: KING OF THE MONSTERS Up from the depths, 30 storeys high...


There will be mud in DC’s latest TV show

AVENGERS: ENDGAME The epic culmination of Marvel’s big plan


Red Alert June 2019


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JRR Tolkien’s romance with Edith eventually inspired The Silmarillion’s tale of Beren and Lúthien.

director EXCLUSIVE

mordor, he wrote

New biopic Tolkien tells the origin story of the creator of Middle-earth

Finnish director Dome Karukoski is a lifelong fan of JRR Tolkien’s work. He’s read The Hobbit. He’s read the Lord Of The Rings trilogy. He’s even read The Silmarillion. His family have an annual tradition where they watch the Extended Editions of Peter Jackson’s movies every Christmas. But it was only when he was sent the script for biopic Tolkien that he realised the author had his own story to tell. “I had this idea of him sitting in a pub and chatting with CS Lewis and joyfully creating stories,” he says. “But he became an orphan at the age of 12 without ever really having a father. I related to that very strongly. He had this feeling of being an outsider, of seeking belonging. And when he finally found his friends, he had to go to war with them. When I look at the film now I understand Tolkien’s fantasies on a deeper level. Love, fellowship, camaraderie, the growth of friendship – it’s all there.”

lo o k w h o ’ s t o l k i e n Tolkien, which stars Nicholas Hoult as the man himself, mainly splits its time between two periods of the author’s life. The first, as Karukoski says, are his teenage years, where he developed his incredible talent for languages, formed a brotherhood with three friends (who called themselves the Tea Club Barrovian Society, named after their favourite meeting place), and went through a turbulent courtship with his wife-to-be Edith (Lily Collins), who he was initially banned from seeing by his legal guardian (Colm Meaney). The second period, however, is his experience during World War I, where the film uses the author’s real-life battle with trench fever as a way to blend reality and fantasy – as a way for Tolkien to see dragons instead of flamethrowers. For Karukoski, it allowed him to not only explore his own visions of

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“I’ll show that Jon Snow how to brood…”

Red Alert June 2019


aerial assault SCI-FI TV ROUND UP

don’t quote me

“Who knows when the f**k that’s gonna come out. Hopefully this interview will make everyone hurry up.”

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m ou s

p e o pl e a

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The Eragon author reveals his genre faves FAVOURITE SF/FANTASY MOVIES In general I like stories that evoke a sense of awe and wonder in me – Cocteau’s Beauty And The Beast, Cuaron’s The Little Princess, Pan’s Labyrinth. Watching For Your Eyes Only was the moment that I really truly fell in love with cinema, and from there it was the first Terminator, the first two Alien films and Brazil by Terry Gilliam. I’m also a huge John Carpenter fan. If you haven’t watched They Live, it’s the best bad film that’s ever been made, and I actually say that Escape From LA is better than Escape from NY – I got into an argument with Tarantino about that! FAVOURITE SF/FANTASY TV My dad’s a huge Star Trek fan and got me onto the original series fairly early. I also love Babylon 5. Star Trek is idealistic and utopian and technologically driven, but Babylon 5 is mythological and is arc-driven in a way that Star Trek wasn’t until Deep Space Nine. The writing and the characters are wonderful, and had a big influence on me. FAVOURITE SF/FANTASY BOOKS I love Dune. If you go back and read it, it feels like this enormous world is created, but line by line [Frank Herbert] doesn’t spend a lot of time describing things or explaining how they work. He just sort of alludes to them and then keeps moving forward with the story. I also like the Gormenghast trilogy by Mervyn Peake, The Worm Ouroboros by ER Eddison, and The Mabinogion Tetralogy by Evangeline Walton, a retelling of the Welsh mythologies which is really beautiful. RE The Fork, The Witch, And The Worm is out now.

Wondering when we might see X-Men spin-off New Mutants? Star Maisie Williams is wondering too. june 2019 | sfx magazine |

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Tolkien is in cinemas from 3 May.



Middle-earth, but to also explore the origins of Tolkien’s creations. “The idea was that he had nothing finished,” says Karukoski. “He’s constantly generating parts of the stories while he’s thinking and dreaming, but these visions are all sketches on their way to becoming something. We see, for example, a fallen knight in no man’s land who will eventually become a Nazgûl, but it’s his first vision of it, and during the film we imply that it’s originated from the story of [Norse mythological figure] Sigurd, a fallen hero.” As for Tolkien himself, Karukoski carried out extensive research to figure out just what kind of man he was. This involved reading letters, biographies, consulting with Andy Orchard, who holds Tolkien’s former post at Oxford, and collaborating with Nicholas Hoult’s own interpretation in order to bring his personality to screen. “The first meeting I had with Nick, I hadn’t even sent the script to him,” says Karukoski. “I just wanted to feel his personality. And there’s a lot of elements of Tolkien in Nick already. But what was intriguing was that different people have different perspectives on who he was. I had to find who I thought was the right Tolkien. To me he was intelligent but really playful. He himself said, ‘I’m a bit of a Hobbit.’ And I think he related to Bilbo and Frodo in many ways. There was definitely a Bilboish element in him.” SK


“In a hole in the ground there lived a Hobbit…”

The new Apple TV Plus streaming service announces its first shows, including a reboot of Steven Spielberg’s Amazing Stories, and post-apocalyptic thriller See, with Alfre Woodard and Jason Momoa. Taika Waititi voicing droid bounty hunter IG-88 in The Mandalorian TV show. Netflix picks up The Umbrella Academy for second season, while Amazon orders third year of American Gods. It truly is the end of days… Jared Padalecki, Jensen Ackles and Misha Collins confirm Supernatural’s 15th season will be its last. Yes, really. The CW has also renewed Arrow, Black Lightning, Legends Of Tomorrow, The Flash, Supergirl, Charmed and Legacies. Interactive Black Mirror “Bandersnatch” nominated for Best Single Drama at Bafta TV Awards. Ryan Phillippe to star in CBS’s Frankensteininspired cop pilot Alive.


good omens

D O G . . . S W O N ONLY K

It’s the end of the world as we know it – but should we feel fine? In a massive exclusive, Richard Edwards visits the Cape Town set of Good Omens

to find out if it really is as unfilmable as everyone thought…

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good omens

uglas From left: Director Do nt, na Ten vid Da , on nn cki Ma il Gaiman. Ne d an n ee Michael Sh

june 2019 | sfx magazine |


godzilla: king of the monsters

Sam Ashurst tracks down Godzilla: King Of The Monsters director Michael Dougherty to uncover the secrets behind bringing four of cinema’s most iconic creatures back to the screen 44 | sfx magazine | june 2019

godzilla: king of the monsters

june 2019 | sfx magazine |



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years and years

Russell T Davies is returning to science fiction – sort of – with new BBC One series Years And Years .

Ian Berriman quizzes the writer and his cast

e regret to inform you, dear readers, that our old friend Russell T Davies has become one of them – the industry types we can’t help cursing under our breath. He damns himself with his own words... “I hate to be one of those really disappointing producers who appear in SFX saying, ‘It’s not very sci-fi,’” he laughs, “Because I read them myself and I go, ‘Oh, shut up!’” Can you sense the “but” looming on the horizon? Here it comes… “I love a spaceship and an explosion more than anyone,” Davies protests. “But there’s not much of that in this!” To be fair, at least the former Doctor Who showrunner isn’t saying this while standing on the bridge of a star-destroyer next to a lizard-man holding a ray-gun (it happens…). And he does have justification. For while Davies’s new six-part BBC One show Years And Years does, strictly speaking, exist within our fantastical territory, it’s also a pretty grounded domestic drama. Call it speculative fiction, if you like. “Our Friends In The North, but heading into the future” was Davies’s pithy pitch for the series – which shares a director with that classic ’90s drama. Like Our Friends, Years And Years follows the fluctuating fortunes of a group of everyday Northern folk over an extended period. But whereas that series started 31 years in the past and gradually moved forward to the modern-day, this one begins in 2019, then (10 minutes into june 2019 | sfx magazine |


spider-man: into the spider-verse

Spider-Man: Into The Spider-Verse

production designer Justin Thompson tells Steve O’Brien how he put a unique spin on the Wallcrawler

“Train catches man” made for a good headline. He never looked when crossing the road.

HEAD CASE “In the ’80s comics, the Kingpin was so massive and he had this tiny head. We just thought, can we get away with that and wouldn’t it be a cool challenge to push the medium and do something that would look so different, if we limit a character to just the form, like his silhouette. When I first presented the idea to [visual effects supervisors] Danny Dimian and Josh Beveridge they said, ‘We’re not quite sure how we can do that,’ and I said, ‘Could we make his head detach from his body so we can move it around?’ They created this really crazy thing.”

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PRINTS CHARMING “I wanted to figure out how to do a movie that was from a comic book character’s point of view. I thought from day one about Miles [Morales, the movie’s principal Spider-Man] and who he was and I grew up staring down at these comics, so I thought if I could stare out of the world with his eyes, it just made sense to me that I would see all those dots and lines on characters’ faces and all these other techniques that are really expressive on the printed page. I just thought that would be his world and he would see all this stuff in the air in front of him.”

spider-man: into the spider-verse

WORLDS APART “I thought about Brooklyn being really relatable: flat, lots of colour, very warm, and that was the world we came from, with this really relatable scale. It’s something a teen would recognise... all the details are very down-to-earth and to scale. And then I thought of Manhattan as being this hideous shadow in the distance with this overwhelming scale... more extreme than the world he’d come from. I wanted it massive in scale. If you stood on a building as a 13-year-old, I thought there was no way on earth you could see the bottom. I thought, there’d be so much unknown there, that it would be so much bigger than the world he came from, that I wanted the buildings to seem 5,000 storeys high. I wanted it to be cold and blue and not the warm colours he was familiar with. Almost a threat in and of itself, daring him to take on the responsibility of being Spider-Man.”

Croydon has changed a lot over the years.

“Dammit, stop copying my outfits, kid.”

DIFFERENT STROKES “I’ve been into comic books since I was very young, and one thing that was important to me, from the beginning, was that if we were going to have all these characters that came from different worlds, that it was an opportunity to show the audience that there are all these different types of comic books – different styles and different looks. It was an opportunity to say that all these characters came from a different comic book universe. It was a good challenge to have all these characters from these different worlds come together and each express a different part of the comic book language.”

“Quit pointing that big red arrow at me!”

WITH GREAT POWER... “The biggest challenge was not getting too carried away too fast. We had so much freedom and so many cool tools, and were given so much trust and permission to do such wild and expressive things. We had to make sure that the moments were Miles’s to feel, that those didn’t get overshadowed by these giant, supernatural superhero moments, and the stakes Miles was dealing with were real, that he really is living with his uncle, that he really is watching the death of Spider-Man, that these are real things happening to a real 13-year-old boy.” Spider-Man: Into The Spider-Verse is out now on 4K Blu-ray, Blu-ray, DVD and digital download.

june 2019 | sfx magazine |


swamp thing

swamp thing

DC’s Swamp Thing is coming to TV and – as Bryan Cairns finds out – there will be mud…

he new DC Universe streaming platform announced its arrival as a major player on TV with new shows Titans and Doom Patrol. The two live-action comic-book adaptations brought a gritty and quirky sensibility to a new generation of superheroes, but their upcoming third outing will explore the darker corners of the DC universe – a landscape more suited to supernatural folk, gothic love stories and moments of unnerving terror. Welcome to Swamp Thing. “We wanted to be true to the nature of the comic books, especially the Alan Moore stories,” showrunner Mark Verheiden (Battlestar Galactica, Ash Vs Evil Dead) tells SFX. “To me, the series we are doing is inspired by it. We are not adapting the books, per se, although we are certainly using bits and pieces of the books. The mystery, the darkness and the horror of those books – and frankly, the slightly more cerebral quality of those books in terms of how Swamp Thing reacts to the ecology and the Green [the force that binds all plants together] – I wanted to be true to that feel, more so than past incarnations had. I wanted to be reminiscent of the great feeling I got when I read those books when they first came out.” The Swamp Thing pilot serves as an origin story and centres around Alec Holland (Andy Bean), a biologist located in Marais, Louisiana. When Alec’s research on a local illness leads to his untimely death, he is strangely reborn as the grotesque, plant-like Swamp Thing (Derek Mears). As Alec wrestles to maintain his humanity, he must use his new body and uncanny control over vegetation against the evil forces menacing his hometown.

GIMM E M O O R E Although created by writer Len Wein and artist Bernie Wrightson back in 1971, Swamp Thing has subsequently been depicted as a hulking monster, a protector and an elemental. Co-showrunner Gary Dauberman (IT) notes that this incarnation “is all of those things”. “It depends on the situation,” he explains. “He’s a creature with a soul and holding on to that soul is one june 2019 | sfx magazine |


avengers: endgame

END LINE of the As Avengers: Endgame lands in cinemas, SF author Tade Thompson looks back at Marvel’s epic 21-movie journey to get there...

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He only shows his face when he’s at the Post Office.


n April 2019, Marvel Studios releases Avengers: Endgame, the final film of Phase Three of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. That the MCU has changed the landscape of cinema cannot be refuted, whether you’re a fan or not. Dramatising its properties has always been something Marvel had sought as diversification. Comic sales are down, and have been for a long time – in 1942, the monthly sales of Superman comics were about 1.5 million copies, but the most units sold in January 2019 was for a Batman title, just 119,000. The most significant element Marvel Studios brought to the movies was not their wealth of intellectual property like Thor, Captain America and Black Widow, but the idea of the extended universe, where characters bleed into each other’s narratives. A staple of the comics, it’s proved profitable in Hollywood, and bred copycats. The excellent Into the Spider-Verse has changed the Sony Spider-Man landscape, as has fellow spin-off Venom. The DC Extended Universe, DCEU, is the most meaningful rival to the MCU, and has been profitable for Warner Brothers to the tune of $4.91 billion. It’s struggled critically, but with Wonder Woman (2017), Aquaman (2018) and Shazam! (2019), the DCEU will be just fine. Universal’s ill-fated, seemingly-abandoned Dark Universe may be risible, but Dracula, Frankenstein(’s Creature), Wolf Man and Invisible Man were all in a shared universe called Universal Monsters from 1931 to 1951.

all pictures © disney/marvel

t h e fa m e g a m e While the MCU started with Iron Man in 2008, its roots can be traced back to Marvel’s 2001 decision to base the alternative Ultimates version of Nick Fury on Samuel L Jackson, the critical and financial success of Sam Raimi’s Spider-Man films (2002), and the celebrity culture that meant you could no longer cast an unknown to lead a multi-million dollar franchise as Superman had with Christopher Reeve in the ’70s. Just how much of the MCU’s success can be heaped on Robert Downey Jr’s shoulders is up for debate, but he certainly carried Phase One. Iron Man established several MCU tropes, like the origin story, kick-ass special effects, engaging action sequences and JUNE 2019 | sfx magazine |


the story behind the sf and fantasy of yesteryear 1987

In 2019 the “number one television show in the whole wide world” is a bone-breaking, blood-splashing, goregame called The Running Man – at least according to the classic movie. Calum Waddell looks back… 78 | sfx magazine | june 2019

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time machine the running man

june 2019 | sfx magazine |


Reviews cinema

SHAZAM! Making it Big released OUT NOW!

12A | 132 minutes Director David F Sandberg Cast Zachary Levi, Mark Strong, Asher Angel, Jack Dylan Grazer, Djimon Hounsou

One of the biggest criticisms levelled at Man Of Steel, Batman V Superman: Dawn Of Justice and Justice League was that they weren’t quite (whisper it) Marvel enough. Sure, DC had wholeheartedly signed up to the idea of a shared universe – so enthusiastically that they rushed their heroes into a team-up before we’d had a chance to get to know them – but the general tone was so miserable that spending time with Supes, Bats and the rest was a pretty soul-destroying experience. Luckily, the Distinguished Competition appear to have taken all that on board. And after Wonder Woman and Aquaman showed an encouraging change of direction, it’s with the wonderful Shazam! that DC’s journey to the arena of crowd-pleasing blockbusters is truly complete. This movie isn’t just fun, it’s as unashamedly entertaining as Thor: Ragnarok – and you’d struggle to find any superhero movie anywhere with a heart quite this warm.

While Shazam (the original Captain Marvel) dates back to the late-’30s, he’s never reached the cultural icon status of Batman, Superman, Wonder Woman and other heroes of a similar vintage. Yet that comparative obscurity proves to be one of the movie’s biggest strengths. Besides, he’s very different to any other superhero movie headliner. His superfast, superstrong, impervious-to-bullets skillset is pretty close to Superman’s, but when it comes to the source of his powers we’re in very different territory. Fourteenyear-old says secret magic word and turns into muscle-bound hero? That flies much closer to SuperTed and Bananaman territory than either Krypton or Crime Alley. It’s a wonderfully ridiculous set-up, but the movie acknowledges that fact and embraces it to hilarious effect. Indeed, if you thought Doctor Strange’s take on magic was a big leap for the MCU, Shazam! goes even deeper into the hocus pocus without a care for grounding it in any form of reality. An ancient wizard imbuing incredible powers on a “champion” to help in the eternal battle against evil? Don’t expect any parallel dimensions or infinity stones to explain it, just roll with some good old-fashioned sorcery.

“Brilliant! Now zap Piers Morgan into the next world!”

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“Just think how useful this will be when I get a job in construction.” It’s when the orphaned Billy Batson (newcomer Asher Angel, excellent) – still looking for the mother he lost at a fairground a decade earlier – becomes Shazam that the fun really begins. This is total childhood wish fulfilment, Big with superpowers, as an ordinary kid really does find out what it’s like to be a superhero. The sequence where Billy tests out his powers with foster brother Freddy Freeman (Jack Dylan Grazer) is one of the movie’s highlights – as they gradually work out the extent of his abilities, it captures the exhilaration of

As unashamedly entertaining as Thor: Ragnarok being a superhero in a way few other films have managed before. Former Chuck star Zachary Levi is brilliant at playing a child in a man’s body, a mix of wideeyed wonder and clumsy attempts

Reviews mind



Director of Shazam!

Were you familiar with the comics? I was somewhat familiar with the character; I knew that at some point he’s been part of the Justice League, but I didn’t really do a deep dive into it until after being offered the job and finding out more about him. He’s been around since about 1940 and was at times bigger than Superman. I’ve certainly fallen in love with the character and we put in references to older comics.

(Batman and Superman do exist in this world) allows for plenty of fun fan service – it even caters to the Shazam! faithful. With Shazam!, DC has proved that it can out-Marvel Marvel, by making a superhero movie unlike any other. Despite bringing little new to the action table, the way it makes you laugh, cry and punch the air in triumph puts it on its own little pedestal. Shazam is a magic word well worth remembering. Richard Edwards The name of Billy’s high school – Fawcett Central – is a nod to Fawcett Comics, original publisher of Captain Marvel.

Do you feel comedy is the key to success in comic book movies now? I think it has to be a full experience – like you want the humour, some darkness, some seriousness. With a big event movie, you just want it to be a full meal, so you need a little bit of everything in various proportions.

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well, evil. His powers also give director David F Sandberg the chance to show off the horror skills he honed on Lights Out and Annabelle: Creation with some surprisingly nasty moments. If the hero/villain arc errs a little on the familiar side, that’s more than compensated for by the human element of Billy’s new foster family. What could have been cloying and sentimental is handled so effortlessly that it’s genuinely charming, bringing the film an unexpectedly Goonies vibe. Meanwhile, geeky Freddy’s extensive superhero knowledge

James White


at superhero one-liners. He even does a decent job of making one of the most ridiculous costumes in superhero history – that collar would not pass the Edna Mode style test – look strangely okay. And if a superhero needs a good villain to truly excel, Shazam! has one in the form of Mark Strong’s Sivana. Powered by the Seven Deadly Sins, he foregoes the usual excuses for his misbehaviour in favour of simply being a thoroughly bad egg – it’s utterly satisfying to see a baddie who doesn’t pretend to be misunderstood because he’s just,

Was it difficult to fit Shazam into the DCEU? It hasn’t been that difficult. If anything I think it helps to have Shazam in a real world. I think it stands out even more in that it’s a kid in the real world who happens to be a superhero. There was no pressure on us to fit it into a wider story. There wasn’t anything like, “Oh yeah, two movies down the line this will happen...”

june 2019 | sfx magazine |


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