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Zoolander 2

Look for a nice trick while you watch the first trailer for the sequel to Ben Stiller’s cult comedy hit Zoolander–Zoolander II or 200lander, if you prefer.  At two minutes we’d normally call the trailer full-length, but you’ll soon see why this is barely a teaser.  We all like Ben Stiller, who seems to compete back and forth in the cinemas with the latest and greatest from Adam Sandler.  Zoolander was certainly one of his stranger, if not the strangest pursuits, he’s provided.

The teaser is a fairly well done Cosmos-esque narration by none other than Stephen Hawking himself.  Right?  Yet this is comedy.  Parody even.  And the teaser clearly reveals at the end that the marketeers used only the same computer platform Hawking uses–DECTalk–to fake the very Hawking-like preview.

Sure, it would be that much funnier if this was really Hawking behind the lambasting of Zoolander.  And you must ask:  At what point should Hawking get some kind of compensation for this unique use of his likeness?  It’s definitely a unique analysis–how often is someone so closely affiliated with a computer voice that it becomes synonymous with the celebrity best known for using it?  The answer is that this is that guy, and that use.

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Sean Astin KCCC 2015

This Friday, Saturday, and Sunday thousands of sci-fi, fantasy, and superhero fans will attend the inaugural Kansas City Comic Con, a new comic book and pop culture convention to be held at the Kansas City Convention Center at Bartle Hall.  The show has booked the very best comic book and fiction writers and artists in the U.S. as well as some great movie and TV guests.

Jackie Brown KCCC exclusive print

Headlining the show will be none other than Jackie Brown herself, actress Pam Grier. Not only is Ms. Grier known for her leading role in Quentin Tarentino’s hit film, but she has also starred in the classic 1970s films Coffy and Foxy Brown, as well as Fort Apache The Bronx, Something Wicked This Way Comes, John Carpenter’s Escape from L.A. and Ghosts of Mars, and TV series including Night Court, Crime Story, Knots Landing, Miami Vice, Bones, The L Word, and Smallville.

Fantasy fans can meet Sean Astin, who played Frodo’s pal Samwise in The Lord of The Rings series, also scheduled as a show headliner.

Colin Baker Doctor Who TARDIS

Many Doctor Who fans will get their first chance to meet Colin Baker, who played the fan-favorite Sixth Doctor on BBC’s original series from 1984 to 1986. Known for his bright patchwork jacket, you may have seen him most recently in the funny film The Five(ish) Doctors Reboot, discussed earlier at borg.com here.

Todd Aaron Smith KCCC 2015 print A     Todd Aaron Smith KCCC 2015 print B

In this big year of Star Wars, Kansas City Comic Con attendees will get an opportunity to meet two actresses known for their roles as Jedi Knights in the Star Wars prequels. Nalini Krishan played Barriss Offee, a Jedi Knight and General in Star Wars: Attack of the Clones.  Also scheduled to appear is Orli Shoshan, who played Jedi Knight Shaak Ti, also in Star Wars: Attack of the Clones (as well as deleted scenes in Star Wars: Revenge of the Sith).  And check out the great prints above that will be available for animation artist Todd Aaron Smith.

corroney print

Creator guests scheduled to attend the Con include Jason Aaron, Neal Adams, C.W. Cooke, Nicholas Forristal, Bryan Fyffe, Michael Golden, Phil Hester, Damont Jordan, Jim Mehsling, Jai Nitz, Ande Parks, Chris Sebela, Greg Smallwood, Rick Stasi, Bryan Timmins, Darryl Woods, Mike Zeck, and our own borg.com writer, fantasy author Elizabeth C. Bunce.  Joe Corroney will be onsite signing the above print for Star Wars: The Force Awakens, and check out this great KCCC print available from Bryan Fyffe:

KCCC print Bryan Fyffe 2015

The show expects to have hundreds of vendors, plus displays, cosplay, autograph and photo opportunities.

Kansas City Comic Con will be held August 7-9, 2015, at the Kansas City Convention Center in downtown Kansas City at Bartle Hall, the venue for the region’s biggest events.

C.J. Bunce
Editor
borg.com

Matthew Skiff poster art

Yesterday sci-fi icon (and ex-pro WWE Hall of Fame wrestler) Roddy Piper died at age 61 of a heart attack in his sleep, a great loss to his family, friends, and fans around the world.  For me, and undoubtedly thousands of others throughout this weekend, that meant my own tribute: dropping in to revisit the Blu-ray of John Carpenter’s They Live when I arrived home, the classic sci-fi masterwork starring Piper as a modern Sergio Leone-inspired drifter whose curiosity reveals the hero within.  And it means queueing up Carpenter’s soundtrack to that film in the car for the next week, including that immensely cool theme that followed Piper around that film.  Carpenter said yesterday about Piper, “Devastated to hear the news of my friend Roddy Piper’s passing today.  He was a great wrestler, a masterful entertainer and a good friend.”

I barely knew who “Rowdy” Roddy Piper was when I went to the opening of They Live back in November 1988.  When the name Roddy Piper appeared on the screen in all caps I made no connection that this was the same guy as the wrestler in the red kilt.  The trailer for They Live appeared to be typical B-movie sci-fi horror fare, yet it revealed that the film had some subliminal message concept that was intriguing.  For years my friends and family would watch the ads between movies at the Drive-In theater and wait for the furtively inserted single frames that would state in red and white “BUY” and similar sneaky words, presumably to create zombies of us all as we stumbled unwittingly to the concession stand to spend all our dollars on fresh popcorn from O’Dell’s.  So the concept was certainly worthy of a cool flick.  The movie?  It blew me away and I remember talking about it for days.  It has remained a standout among cult classics, and if I can proclaim any cult classic as worthy of repeated watching, They Live is #1.

Piper They Live

If you haven’t seen it yet, there’s no better time than now.  Piper, in an incredibly underplayed performance, stars as a loner trying to keep to himself.  He is thrown into the middle of a waking-up-to-reality by a group of grassroots rebels who discover that the wealthier elements of society (plucked right out of the Reagan years) are actually hideous aliens in cloaked bodies, attempting to keep us asleep through subliminal messages in our advertising.  When our hero discovers special sunglasses and later contact lenses that show the true world, we soon learn the secret behind the plot and why this is a classic sci-fi film.  They Live also has the best of Carpenter’s soundtracks–including the repetitive theme of our hero, following him and leading us through Piper’s dark discoveries.  And just like Steve McQueen’s Bullitt is known for its famous San Francisco car chase, here They Live has a standout best fight scene, a hilariously choreographed, iconic, hand-to-hand fight scene between Piper and co-star Keith David that stretches in excess of 15 screen minutes.

Speaking of Steve McQueen, if you ever want to create a list of the coolest performances to ever appear on film, you’d be remiss not to include Piper in They Live in your deliberations.  And as cool celebrities go, it goes without saying that the fact Piper wore a kilt already makes him surpass in coolness anyone else around who hasn’t worn one.

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Miyazaki collection Blu-ray boxed set 2015

If you’ve ever tried to pick up a complete collection of the works of Hayao Miyazaki on DVD or Blu-ray, you may have had the misfortune of buying one of the several bootleg or substandard quality sets available frequently on both eBay and Amazon.  Finally Disney and Studio Ghibli are set to release a Blu-ray boxed set by year-end, including all eleven of the director’s full-length films.

The Collected Works of Hayao Miyazaki will be available exclusively from Amazon and is expected to ship November 17, 2015.  It includes Blu-ray editions The Castle of Cagliostro, Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind, Castle in the Sky, My Neighbor Totoro, Kiki’s Delivery Service, Porco Rosso, Princess Mononoke, Spirited Away, Howl’s Moving Castle, Ponyo, and his last film, The Wind Rises.

Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind

If you have already purchased the individual Blu-rays, the special features may entice you:

  • Yuki no Taiyo (Yuki’s Sun) — a 1972 television pilot based on a manga by Tetsuya Chiba.  It was directed, storyboarded and animated by Hayao Miyazaki.

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Doctor Who in 3D

Doctor Who fans get to catch 2-part finale of Doctor Who Season 8 in theaters across the country in RealD 3D plus a never-before-seen prequel to Season 9 in a special two-night event hosted by Fathom Events.  It all happens Tuesday, September 15, and Wednesday, September 16, leading up to the Season 9 premiere Saturday, September 19, 2015, on BBC America.

You can check local listings or sign up here for an email reminder or text TVRADIO to FATHOM (328466) for updates.

Tickets will go on sale Friday, July 31.

Doctor Who Fathom Events Dark water 3d 2015

Wil Wheaton will host an interview with stars Peter Capaldi and Jenna Coleman as part of the show.

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Star Wars Issue 7 variant Elite KCCC exclusive    EFNY_08_A_Main

Today we have a smorgasbord of comic book previews for books hitting comic book stores everywhere on this Comic Book Wednesday.  Topping the list, guest artist Simone Bianchi joins writer Jason Aaron for Marvel’s Star Wars #7, a standalone issue featuring Ben Kenobi.  You can only get the rare Elite Comics cover with Chewie and C-3PO (shown above) at Elite beginning today and at Kansas City Comic Con August 7-9, 2015.

We have previews today with truly something for anyone and everyone, from Star Wars to The X-Files, to Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Jungle Girl, and Chilling Adventures of Sabrina, to Deep State and Escape from New York, from Hacktivist to the latest Red Sonja, to Munchkin, Skylanders, and Transformers.  Even Donald Duck and Betty and Veronica.

ChillingAdventuresOfSabrina_04-0    JGSea3-04-Cov-A-Cho

And don’t miss out on the preview for the first issue of the new Shrinking Man, adapted from the story that inspired the classic film The Incredible Shrinking Man–inspiration for this month’s big screen release Ant-Man.

Without further adieu, here are this week’s previews:

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Mission impossible scene

This weekend in theaters across the country you could see some exciting previews of coming movies, including Star Wars: The Force Awakens and Everest (as well as some that look like duds, which shall go unnamed).  One of the best was this behind the scenes look at Mission: Impossible–Rogue Nation, which hits theaters this weekend.

The marketing folks for this fifth entry in the modern Mission: Impossible reboot series have been parading this poster of Tom Cruise hanging from the side of an airplane for months.  For any other movie we’d yawn and note it as another action sequence in what has really been a solid action series.  Each film has Cruise doing some physical maneuvers.  Who can forget Cruise in the 1996 original film, hanging by two cables as he hacks a CIA computer after lowering himself from a ventilation duct into a secure facility room from after bypassing a laser grid.

mission impossible 5 poster

But this movie has something different.

Check out this preview and behind the scenes look at Cruise’s airplane stunt.  (Trust us, it looks pretty incredible on the big screen):

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Loot Crate Comic Con Box display

Ever thought about checking out what is in those monthly surprise boxes that have become more and more popular in the past few years?  Some of our friends have been buying Loot Crate and Nerd Block for several months, and when our friends at Wizard World dropped us a note about their new Comic Con Box we decided it was time to check these out.  We got in on the first three Wizard World Comic Con Boxes and three boxes from Loot Crate (we haven’t checked out any other companies’ boxes yet).  So what did we learn?

Loot Crates run about $20 including shipping per month per box, and Comic Con Boxes roughly $37 including shipping.  Each contain coupon opportunities, some with downloads, app opportunities, and similar items in addition to the main draw of the boxes–the shirts, comics, and collectibles.  You can sign up for one or multiple months and can terminate membership so long as you do so before the next box ships.  Customer service for these is very easy-going and helpful to explain if you think you messed up your ordering.  Themes are pre-announced, so you can skip months with themes that don’t interest you.

Cyber Loot Crate skull

The companies each insert random bonus items in boxes and have a deluxe box opportunity worth hundreds or even thousands of dollars that some lucky subscriber will get.  And if you film your “unboxing” and upload it to YouTube you can be eligible for other prizes, and other contests are also available throughout the year.  We didn’t get the big prize pack in our three months of boxes but did get a good bonus item in one box and in another we got a 1 of 2 variant that ended up being a rare insert.  The bonus item came with a Comic Con Box, and it was an authenticated, personally autographed photo of actress Karen Gillan in her Nebula garb from Guardians of the Galaxy.  Her autograph can sell for $70-$85 so this was the big win of all the boxes.  A close second was a Greg Horn rare variant cover for the recent issue of Wolverine #1 also in a Comic Con Box.  It also was selling online for around $70-$85.

Of the regular boxes we were most impressed with Loot Crate’s “Cyber” theme box.  The exclusive Terminator Genisys half-scale skull was just dead-on for our love of sci-fi and borg tech.  And that’s the thing about these boxes:  The broader your interest in pop culture, the more value you’ll get for your dollar because each company varies the licenses/franchises in each box.  You can easily add up the price of each item and tally more than the price of the box but ultimately it is your own taste that will be the judge of value.  If you have a spouse or friends or kids to share with or friends to trade items with, or if you’re accustomed to selling on eBay, then it can be easy to make these boxes a “win”.  Expect to see plenty of “trinkets” and the kind of swag you might find at San Diego Comic-Con plus a few higher valued items in each box.

So what exactly can you expect to find in the boxes?

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Ant-Man and Antony

Review by C.J. Bunce

Good movies often ride on the backs of their earlier incarnations.  The Incredible Shrinking Man.  The Greatest American Hero.  Beetlejuice.  Innerspace.  Memoirs of the Invisible Man.  Honey, I Shrunk the Kids.  The classic original Tron.  Sources you might not first think of like Wallace & Gromit’s The Wrong Trousers. Even Thoreau’s Walden (who hasn’t marveled at the coordinated work of ants, or fantasized about being very small?).  Marvel’s new hit Ant-Man borrows bits and pieces from all of these and more.  Yet it also adds something new to those, such as improved special effects, including make-up, CGI, and many action sequences.  It mirrors our place in the big world.  Throw in a hero battling a giant spider with a nail for a sword and I’m sold.

Ant-Man is a rollercoaster ride.  All fun and not too serious like the steadfast captain America arguing with the cocky Tony Stark over the roll of the disinterested Bruce Banner that we all have now seen too many times on screen.  Paul Rudd’s heroic Scott Lang has one motivation, yet he lacks the typical superhero ingeniousness to accomplish his goal.  That element endears the character to everyone and is the gateway to an ensemble cast effort that pushes the story forward.  You just know Lang is like Rudd, that same guy we cheer along with at Kansas City Royals games.

Michael Douglas looking 25 years younger in Ant-Man

Equal to Rudd’s role is a surprisingly strong performance by Michael Douglas.  Looking like the twin of his father Kirk these days, as Dr. Hank Pym he anchors the film with gravitas.  His role in the story is substantial and should require sharing top billing as co-lead.  His work here rivals all his prior best work in The Game, The Ghost and the Darkness, The American President, Falling Down, Wall Street, Romancing the Stone, The China Syndrome, and Coma.  An Academy Award nod is warranted for both Douglas as well as the CGI team that provided the single best use of facial modification to replicate his younger self (done in part by firm Lola VFX who made skinny Steve Rogers in Captain America: The First Avenger).  Tron: Legacy made a good attempt at what Ant-Man has perfected in its opening scene–we’re now ready for an entire film using this approach, an entire film starring a 40-year-old Wall Street era Douglas, for example, relying on the acting prowess of the veteran actor today.

Lang and Pym Ant-man

Evangeline Lilly’s role as Pym’s daughter is secondary, yet her role supports enough of the backstory that it makes us anxious for Ant-Man 2, previewed in two of the film’s end-credit codas.  Michael Peña portrays what could be an over-used stock Latino criminal by bringing some humanity and humor to the role.  Even the villain, played by Law & Order: LA’s Corey Stoll, is interesting although more loathsome than needed for the part.

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season-7-opening-credits-buffy-the-vampire-slayer

The Renaissance of movie and TV tie-in action figures arrived in 2013 with Funko’s classic Kenner-style ReAction figure line.  Other companies focus on single licensed figures and getting the likenesses spot-on, but Funko’s diversification of lines meant everyone could find something that fit their personal niche at an affordable price point.  A true throwback series, one of the overlooked features of the line is the incredible variety of no-names-taken, classic kick-ass heroines represented.

In fact you can find here the top of the world’s best, in-your-face, take-no-prisoners, genre heroines.  Buy them for yourself, for your friends, or get your favorite as a totem to inspire you each day from your desktop.  And where the early sculpts in Funko’s line admittedly looked nothing like the actresses that made the roles famous, the new lines have only improved.  And nobody has better packaging designs than the ReAction line.

Zoe Washburne scene

Who would you add to the Funko roster of heroines?  Compare your list to our more than 85 suggestions for future kick-ass women action figures below.

First, check out this Baker’s Dozen of our favorites in the current Funko pantheon:

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