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Browning in Sucker Punch

Zack Snyder.  He’s the director of the acclaimed movie adaptation of comic books 300 and Watchmen.  With those two movies he showed through his own unique style–adhering to Frank Miller’s panel work for 300, amplifying Dave Gibbon’s powerful images in his Watchmen–that he knows how to make comic book movies.  So how could he have fallen so flat with Man of Steel (reviewed previously here at borg.com)?  Snyder makes big movies but you can’t depend on his name to know what you’re going to get when you plop down the price of a ticket.  When you hear about a movie advertised as Sucker Punch was, it’s easy to skip over it especially because he both wrote and directed the movie.  Released in 2011, Sucker Punch is now available On Demand.  Is it worth checking out?

Sucker Punch was only marketed as a movie featuring ass-kicking female characters in video game situations.  Yet the story is grounded in some serious issues.  It follows two tracks: first, a young woman only referred to as Baby Doll (played by Emily Browning) being abused by her step-father is sent to an “insane asylum,” and second, that woman enters into a fantasy world to survive and avoid being lobotomized by the doctor on staff (played by Mad Men’s Jon Hamm).   If you give Snyder the benefit of the doubt, you can buy into the fantasy word elements.  Baby Doll’s fantasy world consists of the stuff of David Carradine’s Kung Fu series, first person video games, and even The Lord of the Rings.  Led by her own inner mentor, played superbly by Scott Glenn (Silverado, The Right Stuff, Backdraft), Baby Doll takes a team of four inmates–real-world accomplices–on Dungeons & Dragons type missions to capture key totems that Glenn’s character advises will help her break out of the asylum in the real world.  In one scene they pilot a World War II B-25 plane, in another they attempt to slay a dragon, and another they are battling robot drones.  And it all is woven with classic rock and pop songs.

A powerhouse performance can be found with Jena Malone (Donnie Darko, Into the Wild) as Rocket, the most complex of the inmates, as well as Abbie Cornish (RoboCop), who plays her sister and fellow inmate Sweet Pea.  These two characters pretty much equal the military badass male action scenes of films like Alien and Predator.  If Snyder had stuck to making a purely fantasy movie, he would have knocked this one out of the park with these actresses and his supernatural world.  But his major miss is the real world depicted in Sucker Punch.

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Black Mass poster

Just last week we discussed here at borg.com the 2015 return of mob stories to the big and small screen, previewing the British movie Legend starring Tom Hardy and the new TNT series Public Morals with an all-star cast of supporting roles.  Now Johnny Depp is returning to the mob/gangster genre after his superb showing in 1997’s Donnie Brasco opposite Al Pacino and Bruno Kirby, and his 2009 role as John Dillinger in Michael Mann’s Public Enemies. 

This time Depp will again play a real-life mob boss, James “Whitey” Bulger, the Boston crime lord who became an FBI informant to take down a mob family trying to invade his territory.  Black Mass also features notable actors Benedict Cumberbatch (Sherlock, The Hobbit, Star Trek Into Darkness) as Whitey’s state senator brother Bill Bulger, Joel Edgerton (the Star Wars prequels), Kevin Bacon (Apollo 13, R.I.P.D., X-Men: First Class, A Few Good Men), Peter Sarsgaard (Green Lantern, Orphan, The Skeleton Key), Dakota Johnson (21 Jump Street, Fifty Shades of Grey), and Corey Stoll (Ant-Man, Law and Order: LA).

Check out the trailer for Black Mass:

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Funko is on its way to becoming one of the giant toy companies.  Did Ideal, Hasbro, Kenner, and Mattel start like this?  Just look at not only all of its licensed films and television series, but at the breadth of the types of figures it offers.  We’ve discussed at length the Funko ReAction line, but their most popular line is the Funko Pop! series of large, squat bobblehead figures, and Funko also produces a Fabrikations line, Mystery Minis, and a high-quality sculpted Legacy action figure line.  Now there is another Funko line of figures–the Vinyl Idolz–with some interesting licensed films represented.

Just as Jaws is a blockbuster genre classic, so is Young Frankenstein for fans of comedies, listed as #13 on the American Film institute’s roster of the funniest American movies.  The Nightmare Before Christmas-inspired sculpt style for Vinyl Idolz is a good fit for Young Frankenstein.  But there’s more–a Shaun of the Dead line is also simply brilliant.  Also look for the strangest combination of shows in a toy line we’ve ever seen: Back to the Future, Fast Times at Ridgemont High, the original Ghostbusters trio, The Walking Dead, Dodgeball, Napoleon Dynamite, the 1960s Batman TV series, Say Anything, Hot Fuzz, and even the strange, non-lead regulars of Seinfeld.

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After the break, check out images of several of the new figures.  Click on each to learn more and order or pre-order them at online superstore Entertainment Earth.

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Finn lightsaber

When it comes to Star Wars, the red carpet rolls out.  For Star Wars: The Force Awakens, that means every IMAX theater in the country–including those tied to museums, will pull their other films to make room for the next episode.  So for at least four weeks beginning December 18, 2015, Star Wars have all the North American IMAX screens and most of the foreign screens all to itself, about 400 U.S. and 400 other screens worldwide.  Only The Hobbit trilogy films had a similar exclusivity arrangement.

Abrams has said one sequence was filmed with IMAX cameras, so don’t expect Episode VII to be entirely in full IMAX mode.  Luckily, if you’re among the three people out there who aren’t Star Wars fans, the IMAX exclusive shouldn’t impact other genre films of the season–SPECTRE, the next James Bond flick, will likely have completed its run in theaters by then.

New SW teaser with Daisy - Rey and BB-8

We also have a quick clip that was released via Instagram today showing a surprising image–John Bodega’s Finn, revealed in earlier trailers as a Stormtrooper who wrecks his TIE Fighter, is wielding a lightsaber in the same dark and blue lit location as Adam Driver’s Darth Vader-inspired Kylo Renn–the villain with the unique hilted-blade saber.

Don’t blink–or you may miss this brief clip, also featuring a new shot of Daisy Ridley’s Rey and the nifty new non-CGI droid BB-8.  Here’s the clip:

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Blind Spot NBC

This year’s San Diego Comic Con netted many interesting trailers, and one of those we haven’t yet discussed is NBC’s next new series beginning next month, Blindspot.  It is also billed as featuring a “female Jason Bourne,” and a pile of unique previews indicate we might have the next new kickass female genre character coming our way.

Jaimie Alexander plays a Jane Doe–left in a duffel bag in the middle of Manhattan, she awakens with no memory, covered over her entire body with tattoos.  One of those is the name of an FBI agent, played by Australian native Sullivan Stapleton.  He and acclaimed actress Marianne Jean-Baptiste co-star in the series as they try to piece together her secret past.

blindspot_firstlook

NBC has created plenty of previews for Blindspot, including one specifically for Comic Con.  Each gives another angle to attempt to get us interested–enough that we’re sure to at least give this one a try.

Check out several of the previews for Blindspot, after the break:

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For the first time, Warner Bros. is bringing extended cuts of The Hobbit Trilogy to the big screen.  Partnering with Fathom Events, The Hobbit Trilogy returns to select theaters nationwide for an exclusive series of three in-theater events including The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey Extended Edition on October 5, 2015; The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug Extended Edition on October 7, 2015; and the world premiere of The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies Extended Edition on October 13, 2015–including never before seen footage.

Academy Award-winning filmmaker Peter Jackson has prepared a new introduction to the trilogy for this event.  Nominated for 7 Academy Awards, The Hobbit Trilogy is the ultimate fantasy series and follow-on to Jackson’s Academy Award winning The Lord of the Rings series.

The Hobbit Trilogy Event Dates:

The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey – Monday, October 5
The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug – Wednesday, October 7
The Hobbit: The Battle of Five Armies – Tuesday, October 13

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The cable network Starz has released a second trailer for the TV series sequel to the classic Evil Dead films, Ash vs. Evil Dead.  If you missed the first trailer, check it out when we previewed the show first here at borg.com.  Whether or not you’ve seen the originals, we see two big reasons to give the show a try.

First, how can you not love Bruce Campbell?  As Ash Williams, he is one of our favorite members of the Borg Hall of Fame.  Although it was Evil Dead that made him known worldwide, we loved him back in his Hercules, The Legendary Journeys and Xena: Warrior Princess days as the Errol Flynn inspired Autolycus.  He reprised his role as Ash in Army of Darkness, but also popped up all over the place in shows from Knots Landing (what?) to The X-Files, from Homicide: Life on the Street to Lois and Clark and Charmed, and from Psych to The Librarians.  His two series with Campbell in the lead, The Adventures of Brisco County Jr. and Jack of All Trades are the stuff of cult classic legend.  And his pop culture status has only grown through roles in Darkman, Congo, The Hudsucker Proxy, Escape from L.A., McHale’s Navy, The Majestic, Spider-man, and Sky High.   And his best TV is undoubtedly Sam Axe on Burn Notice.

Second, Lucy Lawless back in a show with Bruce Campbell?  That’s just… neat.

Here is Bruce Campbell in the second trailer for humor-filled gore-fest that is Ash vs Evil Dead:

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Gotham season 2 poster

Gotham, the great new series from Fox in 2014 that re-imagined Batman’s Gotham City before Bruce Wayne donned a cowl, will be adding even more villains in Season 2.  As a bonus, Michael Chiklis will play a new member of the Gotham police force.  Marketing for the series’ sophomore season promises the show will dig into the origin stories for The Riddler, which we’ve already seen a fair amount of in his portrayal by Cory Michael Smith, as well as The Joker and Mr. Freeze.  And the young Bruce Wayne (David Mazouz) is expected to uncover more secrets from his father’s past.

But we’re most anxious to see what’s new with Jim Gordon (Ben McKenzie) and his partner Harvey Bullock (Donal Logue), and last year’s surprisingly good villain, Oswald Cobblepot aka Penguin, played so well by Robin Lord Taylor.

But how will the writers fill the gap left by Jada Pinkett Smith’s Fish Mooney?

Check out this latest trailer for Season 2 of Gotham:

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TIE fighter

If you remember the 1970s, you may remember the first time you saw the catalog for Star Wars toys–an insert in any and all Star Wars vehicles, playsets, and large-sized action figures.  Hasbro has published the complete, first catalog for Episode VII of Star Wars, and as we expected from the preview we discussed last week here at borg.com, plenty of dollars will be spent at midnight, September 4, 2015–“Force Friday”–as the new line of toys spreads across the country.  As much as for its groundbreaking space fantasy films, Star Wars is known for its landmark toy and collectible merchandising.  Look before Star Wars and nothing compares.

Below, we reprint the new catalog so you can start making your want list.  But first, do you remember the first Star Wars catalogs?  Just compare what was offered for Star Wars and The Empire Strikes Back fans to what will be available to the latest generation of Star Wars moviegoers.  Not much has changed, has it?

You’ll find 3 3/4-inch action figures, even the first of the 12-inch line of figures, vehicles, lightsabers (although the new line could merit its own catalog), and then those… other items you can’t quite explain.  Like Star Wars plastic model kit vans from the past, or now… is that a Chewbacca Furby?

Here are both the catalogs from Star Wars: Episode IV, A New Hope, Episode V, The Empire Strikes Back, and the latest–the catalog for Episode VII, The Force Awakens:

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Descender 1 cover

If you missed out on writer Jeff Lemire and artist Dustin Nguyen’s 2015 sci-fi comic book series Descender, you have a chance to catch up.  You can purchase for download Issues #1-5 at Comixology at any time, but this weekend the website is offering a free digital copy of Issue #1.

Why should you check out the free preview?

Nguyen really has a solid lock on the look of this story about a child-like android (or does he rate cyborg status?) who is the only survivor of a galactic assault on his world.  His stylized settings and spaceships, as well as his color choices remind us of Phil Noto’s visuals on Trigger Girl 6, one of the best retro-style creations we’ve seen in years.  His wide perspective and large panel spreads really evoke something from an exciting future.

Descender panel

Lemire’s world building gets readers up to speed quickly.  He takes the theme from Steven Spielberg’s Artificial Intelligence/A.I. yet makes it far more interesting.

If you’re not convinced yet, just look at the first few pages below and see what we mean:

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