This has he potential to be very, very good, but then again so did Outlander. However, the concept art for Hellboy co-writer Peter Briggs supernatural action thriller Mortis Rex is lovely. Jim Jacks is producing it.
Speaking to Bloody Disgusting Briggs shed some light on how the story developed. “I had the idea for “Mortis” just prior to “Brotherhood of the Wolf” being released. At that point it was simply called “Untitled Roman Monster Movie”…the name “Mortis Rex” came out of something one of the characters says about half an hour into the story. In the early concept, our hero — Cassius Virius — had a female African sidekick, who was mute and did martial arts with a giant carved elephant bone. As soon as I saw “Brotherhood”, I tossed that notion right out the window! And, really, I was glad I did, because the story evolved into something less fantasy-oriented, and became a more grounded and gritty story. Visually, it’ll hopefully be like Ridley’s earlier work. Much more “Gladiator” than “300″. I bumped into “Brotherhood’s” director, Christophe Gans, at Warners a few years ago and told him how I’d had to change my characters…we had a laugh about it.”
The big question is whether the supernatural beastie will be worth watching.
“I’ve been working solidly the last month with our creature designer, Paul Mendoza, and our intention’s to portray onscreen the baddest, nastiest, Lovecraftian-level monstrosity you’ve ever seen,” Brings elaborates. “If you’re a fanboy, you’ll know Paul’s work…he sculpted Wayne Barlowe’s “Decurion” for Sideshow a while back, and the guy’s really a pocket genius. I’ve never seen anything like our creature, onscreen, ever. Period. I zap sketches to Paul, and he blasts finished renderings back over the internet, and then I scribble and Photoshop over them, and zap them back. I’ve had a vision in my head about what the thing should look like since I started writing “Mortis”, but right now we’re about 80% there, and our Big Chap just keeps looking scarier and weirder every time my email goes “ping”. He’s an extremely visually complex creation. He’d eat “Hellboy’s” Ogdru Jahad for breakfast.
The “Hellboy” writer grins evilly, “But our beastie is…very peculiar. Very singular. He’s a big sucker. Quite terrifying. People will be coming out of the theater with their heads blown off. I pity the poor Roman soldiers who have to go up against this thing with their steel toothpicks…”
Casting wise that is still up in the air, but we may get to see some familiar faces.
“Well, I originally wrote the part of Cassius Virius for Lawrence Fishburne, and we were actually down the road talking to him about it when he got pulled onto “CSI”, and we lost him. But Jim Jacks has broken-in or raised up a lot of good actors and stars over the years — Brendan Fraser and Dwayne (The Rock) Johnson spring to mind. And having Jim onboard obviously makes this movie very attractive to a whole other level of actor. So, I’m looking forward to seeing what Jim will bring to us. We’ve spent a long time talking cast lists. Interestingly I ran into Ron Perlman at the “Sons Of Anarchy” wrap party weeks back, and I just happened to have my laptop with me and showed him what we were doing. Obviously, I knew Ron from “Hellboy”, and I mentioned that I’d had a smaller role in “Mortis” — a rough, Roman drill Sergeant who gets to chew the scenery — written with Ron in mind. Ron really responded to the idea, and asked when we were thinking of shooting. It’d be fun having Ron onboard.”
All in all Mortis Rex sounds very cool. However, Briggs’ other project sounds equally interesting.
“Well, I’m racing to the finishing post on a rewrite-polish on “Panzer 88″, which is a screenplay by two American writers, Aaron Mason and Jim Cowan, that I discovered. I really wanted to use “Mortis” to springboard me onto a director slot with the studios…basically allowing me to get my hands on all the projects I’ve been writing for the majors for 19 years, like “Judge Dredd” and “Alien vs Predator”, that then got horribly mangled by others. But when I found this script, I knew I’d be nuts if I didn’t do it, even though it’s a much smaller piece even than “Mortis”. “Panzer” is another supernatural thriller: basically a character piece set in a German King Tiger tank in Russia in World War 2. It’s five guys in a tin can, and something’s trying to stop them making it home. It’s creepy, and smart. I’ll be directing that too. There are a bunch of producers jockeying to get their hands on this right now…I’ve had a few meetings with Gary Kurtz (“Star Wars”, “American Graffiti”, “Dark Crystal”) back in London, and I really like the idea of doing “Panzer” with him. I was surprised by Gary. For a producer with such All-American movies under his belt, he absolutely gets the very dark, European sensibility of the piece. I guess I’m very lucky with my producers right now.”
How do you like them apples? Does Mortis Rex float your boat? Who would you like to see star in it and any ideas what the creature will look like?