Renowned creature designer and special effects artist Patrick Tatopoulos has worked on dozens of films: Stargate, Independence Day, Spawn, Total Recall, 300: Rise of an Empire, to name only a few. He's also serving as production designer on the upcoming Batman vs. Superman.
And while he predominately works in visual effects and design, Tatopoulos took on the role of director for Underworld: Rise of the Lycans. The film was an unnecessary prequel in an already stale franchise, but it'd be unfair to lay all of its faults at Tatopoulos' feet. Rise of the Lycans was in fact very similar in style and tone to the previous and better-received Underworld films. Yet, by 2009, audiences had already begun to tire of vampires and werewolves acting more like superheroes than monsters in visually desaturated, weirdly futuristic gothic movies like Queen of the Damned and Van Helsing.
The failure of Underworld: Rise of the Lycans hasn't seemed to deter Tatopoulos' from directing, however, as Deadline is reporting he'll be helming a new, original science fiction/fantasy movie for Hydra Entertainment titled, New Babylon.
The film is set in the near future in the Middle East where a vicious war is being waged between angels and demons. Eventually, over the course of the film, a modern-day Tower of Babel is constructed, which may indicate New Babylon will revisit the original story of Babel from The Bible.
As told in the book of Genesis, man created the Tower of Babel to reach the sky - and in some versions, heaven - which invariably angered God. As punishment, man is spread across the globe and made to speak in different languages so that no such future cooperation could ever occur. Either a division over whether or not this was a just decision, or perhaps acting to stop a similar event from happening again, could be plausible scenarios for why the angels and demons are warring in New Babylon.
Whatever its full premise, the choice of Tatopoulos as director is a clear indicator of what kind of film New Babylon will be: visual effects and design heavy. Hydra Entertainment is a new development and production company that focuses on developing a film's story and visualization simultaneously, so you can see how Tatopoulos fits nicely into their filmmaking strategy.
Hydra was started by previsualization firm, The Third Floor, along with Academy Award-winning art director Robert Stromberg (Alice in Wonderland, Maleficent), production designer Dylan Cole (Avatar), and storyboard & comic book artist Mark Morretti. The concept for New Babylon came from Hydra co-founder Joshua Wassung and is being scripted by David LoPresti.
Tatopoulos sounds optimistic about New Babylon's potential, saying:
"We have some very ambitious ideas for the world, characters and story of this movie, and I can already see that the innovative virtual design and story development techniques being employed at Hydra are going to make all the difference in exploring those concepts and putting them on screen in a visually stunning way."
Though, considering how badly I, Frankenstein tanked, audiences may still be uninterested in seeing supernatural creatures like vampires and demons as the stars of big-budget, high spectacle, action-adventure movies. If that's still the case when New Babylon releases, they better hope their story is just as strong as their "ambitious" and "innovative" design.
What do you make of New Babylon? Interesting concept or another dud waiting to happen? Does their choice of Patrick Tatopoulos give you any hope for the project? Sound off in the comments below!
New Babylon has no release date currently.