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Escape from New York cover D

Back in July, BOOM! Studios announced that Snake Plissken would be back.  One of John Carpenter’s best, the 1981 sci-fi flick Escape from New York went on to have a rather bleh sequel with 1996’s Escape from L.A.  BOOM! is returning to the classic we all love with its continuing story of the action anti-hero with the eye patch in its new Escape from New York series.

Writer Christopher Sebela (Ghost, Alien vs. Predator) and artist Diego Barreto (Planet of the Apes, Irredeemable) along with cover artists Declan Shalvey, Jay Shaw, and Alice X. Shang will be telling the new tales of this loner in a future Earth’s World War III.

Escape from New York cover A Escape from New York cover C

Following on the heels of its first John Carpenter-Kurt Russell team-up monthly ‘zine, BOOM! Studio’s successful Big Trouble in Little China series, Escape from New York should satisfy our desire for more stories from the John Carpenter ‘verse.

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Big Hero 6 poster

This week we get our introduction to animated Star Wars Disney-style with the premiere of the new series Star Wars Rebels.  Set your DVRs for this Friday, October 3, for the one-hour premiere, Star Wars: Spark of Rebellion on the Disney Channel. The first series episode begins October 13 on DisneyXD.  The series features characters we previewed here at borg.com in our review of the first new universe Star Wars novel, A New Dawn.

Taking place between Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith and Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope, a group of rebels takes on the Empire.  The series features the voices of Freddie Prinze Jr., Taylor Gray, Tiya Sircar, and Steve Blum.

Those with access can get an early look at Star Wars: Spark of Rebellion on September 26 at WATCHDisneyXD.com and on the WATCH DisneyXD app.

Spark of Rebellion
Coming in November is Disney’s full-length animated feature film, Big Hero 6.  Big Hero 6 follows the story of two Japanese brothers and a robot one creates that looks a bit like the Stay-Puft Marshmallow Man.
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Monster Manual cover

Wizards of the Coast gets an “A” for effort

Review by Art Schmidt

So let’s cut to the chase, shall we?  Your time is valuable and so are your hard-earned gold pieces, unless you are a thief, in which case let’s face it, it’s not really your gold no matter how hard you “worked” to pick that fat merchant’s belt pouch (c’mon, be honest, we both know it’s true).  The 5th Edition Monster Manual from Wizards of the Coast (or WotC, for short), which goes on sale on the 30th of this month, is a well put-together book, with tons of classic monsters in it, and is really a must-have for anyone looking to run a homebrew 5th Edition game, or looking to convert any of their existing modules/adventures to 5th Edition.  Go out and buy it, though please do not pay the $49.99 suggested retail price.  Most game stores and online retailers will have it for around $30, including Amazon.

Okay, so… if you are still reading this then I will assume that: (A) you don’t fit the Dungeon Master description I used above, (B) need some more convincing, or (C) you have some time to kill right now.  Either way, cool.

The book itself is nicely bound with thick high-quality covers which are a must for a book that’s primarily going to be hauled around from game session to game session in a book bag, backpack, plastic tote or other means.  So, it’s going to see a lot of handling and miles (unless you are nice enough to be hosting the game, in which case, Huzzah to you!!!), and it should take the abuse quite well.

Monster Manual excerpt A

“Knock, knock.” “Who is it?” “Land shark.”

The pages are also high quality, thick glossy paper stock and the book is lively and colorful throughout.  I was not a huge fan of the background on every page which was introduced in 3.0, but in this series of books (the Players Handbook and Monster Manual so far, anyway) WotC is not placing thick borders on every page which in previous versions squeezed the content and gave it a skimpier feel (lots of artwork, less content).  The Monster Manual is chock-full of good information and continues their current trend of combining good humor and retro-elements into the content, as was done in the Starter Set and the Player’s Handbook.  The references to the Temple of Elemental Evil, Emirkol the Chaotic and the Demi-Lich Acererak are nice touches and an appreciated wink to both older gamers and the previous creators and contributors who have helped keep the game going for so many years.  I especially like the disclaimers at the beginning of each book so far, which are quite humorous and show that while the WotC Team took its work seriously, they didn’t fall prey to taking themselves so.

You will find nearly every classic monster you could ask for in the book.  And while at 350 pages it is a hefty brick of a book, its usefulness to the Dungeon Master can’t be denied.  From the mandatory entries of giants, dragons, fiends, elementals, constructs, undead and humanoids of all flavors, to the more exotic modrons, yuan-ti, the warring githyanki and githzerai, and the ever-present but rarely used axe beak, the book has a ton of monsters across the spectrum of challenge ratings.  (Seriously, how many times have you encountered an axe beak in all of your adventures?)

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Predator Fire and Stone variant

A universe of terror drawn to one world.  As the Perses begins her long journey home, a deadly stowaway forces the crew into a savage conflict.  While the crew defend themselves against this unseen predator, the hunter itself stalks a much more substantial game

Dark Horse Comics expands its Fire and Stone line with the new Predator: Fire and Stone series, coming to comic book stores in October.  After the break, courtesy of Dark Horse we have a first look at the series Issue #1.

Check out past previews of the multi-part series, Prometheus: Fire and Stone, here, Aliens: Fire and Stone here, and Alien vs. Predator: Fire and Stone here.

Predator Fire and Stone cover art

Joshua Williamson will write the series with artwork by Chris Mooneyham.

Here is your preview of Issue #1:

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Smee as Richard III

Three huzzahs for historical re-enactor Domenic Smee, a 26-year old from England who has become part of the coolest event in non-fiction television in years, revealing that a skeletal deformity may not necessarily result in a disability, and a king may have been equal to the legend that he left behind.

You may recall the September 2012 archaeological dig in a parking lot that resulted in the confirmed find of the bones of King Richard III, who was said to have died bravely during the Wars of the Roses at the Battle of Bosworth Field against Henry Tudor and the Lancasters.  The discovery pulled together nearly every branch of science, and scientists even were able to create a 3D image of the famous king from Shakespeare’s play (“Now is the winter of our discontent made glorious summer by this son of York”).  We at borg.com listed the discovery as the Best Science News of 2013.

King Richard III printed bust

Now scientists have gone even further to get us to the truth behind the legend of this great king of 1485, revealed on Public Television’s Secrets of the Dead series episode “Resurrecting King Richard III.”  We thought the initial story from February 2013 that used DNA from a known distant descendant of the King’s royal line to prove the bones were indeed Richard III’s was incredible enough–the odds of locating a discarded or misplaced body and finding it 500 years later and not only identifying it, but identifying it as a famous king… it’s astronomical.

The bones of Richard III included a very disfigured spine–scoliosis.  Was the legendary story and contemporary accounts accurate?  Could he really have led the battle and fought so well in armor with such a condition?  When a researcher was airing a show in England on the king’s scoliosis, Domenic Smee was watching.  Turns out he has the rare scoliosis the king had, and he volunteered to be tested to see what physical limits the king may have experienced.

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Legenderry07-Cov-Benitez    legenderry-a-steampunk-adventure-7-concept-cover-a

We say “first” in a hopeful way.

Legenderry is the seven-issue mini-series from Dynamite Comics written by notable Fables writer Bill Willingham.  Legenderry is also the steampunk setting where in Issue #7 Red Sonja joins up with Six Thousand Dollar Man Steve Austin, Zorro, Vampirella, the Green Hornet and Kato, Captain Victory, Silver Star, and the Phantom, all to face off in a final showdown with Ming the Merciless, Queen Flor Zora, Kulan Gath, Lydia Valcallan, General Tara, and Doctor Moreau.

And we hope this is the first of several series with these classic characters in their newest and most creative incarnations.

The best character development in the series is that of Red Sonja, who has spells leaving her to think she is actually the mild and citified Magna Spadarossa, sister of Sonja.  By the end of the series her primitive side breaks through and she is the savage we’re all familiar with.  A close second is Willingham’s Six Thousand Dollar Man and his then-pricey 19th century prosthetics.  Including Oscar Goldman as his companion was a brilliant move.

Legenderry heroes

Artist Sergio Fernandez Davila creates a visually stunning location, and Willingham’s fun take on these classic characters makes the series one of the best steampunk stories to enter the comic book medium.

Issue #7 hits comic book stores this week.  Take a look at the first five pages of this final issue after the break.

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Colin Firth british spy

We’re always on the lookout for the next James Bond.  Three years ago we here at borg.com nominated Rufus Sewell here and Paul Blackthorne (Arrow, Dresden Files) and Jason Isaacs (Awake, Harry Potter) here.  Fortunately Daniel Craig doesn’t appear to be giving up his Walther PPK or Aston Martin anytime soon.  But what about the British number one heartthrob, Colin Firth?

Now we at least have an idea of what Firth’s Bond might look like with the preview to the 2016 release Kingsman: The Secret Service this week.  Admittedly we first thought this trailer was for a remake of the classic British spy series The Avengers, with Firth as John Steed.  Ralph Fiennes, the newest M in the James Bond franchise, was the latest to don the famous bowler hat and umbrella for that role.  Firth would have been a good choice for that role, but he also seems to be summoning a little foppish Peter Sellers from the original Casino Royale, too.

Kingsman Secret Service

Based on the six issue comic book mini-series Secret Service by Mark Millar and Dave Gibbons and directed by Matthew Vaughn (Kick Ass, X-Men: First Class), this latest spy flick has Firth mentoring a street-kid for possible inclusion in a secret spy society.  That mentoring makes this movie give off a vibe like another great coming of age flick of years past, The Freshman, starring Marlon Brando and Matthew Broderick.  If Kingsman is half as good as that film, we’ve got something to look forward to.

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Gordon and Bullock

Review by C.J. Bunce

Creating a Gotham City derived from the dark and sleazy world of the 1989 Batman film, but with a “Gotham Confidential” film noir spin, Fox’s new series Gotham managed to hit all the right notes in its Monday night premiere episode.  Like LA Confidential, it even stars a ringer for Russell Crowe, actor Ben McKenzie (Southland, The O.C.) as the rookie cop James Gordon.  But it’s the supporting cast and some tight writing that sticks to key parts of the DC Universe backstory that will have us back again next week.

Some elements are modified for this TV adaptation, of course, like the presence of a young Selina Kyle/Catwoman (Camren Bicondova) at the murder of the parents of Bruce Wayne (David Mazouz).  And Batwoman Kate Kane’s girlfriend and cop Renee Montoya (Victoria Cartegena) shows up far earlier in the DCU and, if we’re picking up the innuendo right, seems to have had a similar relationship with the would-be Barbara Gordon (now Gordon’s fiancée, not his daughter).  Will this Barbara Gordon (Erin Richards, Being Human, Merlin) go on to be Batgirl and/or Oracle?

Bruce Wayne in Gotham

But the most riveting and engaging performances in the pilot come from Gordon’s senior partner Detective Harvey Bullock, played by the ubiquitous Donal Logue (Vikings, Sneakers, The X-Files, Ghost Rider), almost reprising his gritty cop roles from the short-lived crime drama Life and the film Zodiac, and the introduction of a new villain, mid-level mob moll Fish Mooney, played in a sultry Eartha Kitt-inspired performance by Jada Pinkett Smith (Hawthorne, The Matrix Reloaded).  Logue proves again he could carry a TV series all by himself, and Smith also owns every scene she appears in.

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And now a word from our sponsor…

GE idea creature

Too many commercials.

Everywhere you go advertising is thrown at you.  From the margin on every web page showing you an ad for something you looked at yesterday at Amazon.com or on eBay, to the signs behind left field at the baseball game, to billboards on your way to work and quick-talking radio ads on your way home.

But once in a while you don’t mind so much.  Take the Dos Equis “Most Interesting Man in the World” commercials.  We’ve given our thumbs up to several past ads here at borg.com, like Jean-Claude Van Damme doing the splits in his Volvo commercial, Dwayne Johnson “The Rock” and his sci-fi milk ad, the Volkswagen Star Wars Cantina re-creation commercial went above and beyond, too.

So what are the best commercials you’ve seen this year?

GE has a new commercial featuring a giant muppet-like fellow that should get some consideration for all the emotion it packs into a fantasy-themed promotion.  Check it out here:

Earlier this year genre favorites Mark Strong (Green Lantern, Sherlock Holmes), Ben Kingsley (Iron Man 3, Sneakers, Gandhi), and Tom Hiddleston (The Avengers, Thor 2) created a fun commercial for Jaguar with a British villain theme.  If you missed it earlier, here it is an extended version:

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George Takei Sulu in The Naked Time

If holographic television were available today, would you go right out and buy it?

We’re more than four years into the widespread availability of affordable consumer 3D television and the viewing public hasn’t embraced it yet.  My best guess is simply because they haven’t seen it yet, or they are basing their lack of interest on a poor viewing experience with 3D in a public theater.  At borg.com, we’ve got no skin in the game–we don’t work for or with the studios–we’re just after the best viewing experience possible.  And we’re completely sold on both 3D Blu-ray and the lesser discussed 2D/3D “upconversion” technology.

Distributors have been relatively slow at releasing 3D Blu-rays, the current standard for 3D home viewing.  Many films actually produced in 3D, like Peter Jackson’s The Hobbit series, are very quickly released now in a 3D Blu-ray.  Other films are converted to 3D in post-production, like Star Trek Into Darkness, and they are also released on 3D Blu-ray.  Both films look far superior to standard films–you can’t even compare the quality.  The distinctions between a true 3D film and a conversion are probably not all that noticeable to the average moviegoer with normal vision.  But what we’re focusing on today is something different.

Dathon and Picard in Darmok

A different category of conversion, called 2D/3D conversion, is available on certain affordable 3D televisions today.  This is a technology available to anyone with a 3D television that includes the upconvert technology and compatible 3D glasses.  For films, TV series, or even real-time live or pre-recorded television, this technology manipulates the images to create a real 3D experience for the viewer.  Sounds like a gimmick?  It’s not.  To test it, we tried 2D/3D upconverting on an episode of each of Star Trek, the original series, and Star Trek: The Next Generation.  The result?  We were blown away.  We think if you try it, you too will ask:  Why don’t we watch everything now in 3D, and why isn’t everyone talking about it?

If you’re waiting around for holographic TV, that’s pretty much what you’re getting here, too.  You can even get up and walk around without the 3D image going away.  The only thing you can’t do is walk completely around a floating object, which is what a true holographic TV experience should be.  But this is the next best thing.  We watched two acclaimed, classic Star Trek episodes, the original series episode “The Naked Time” and the NextGen series episode “Darmok” using a 3D television, a Blu-ray/DVD player and, for “The Naked Time” a remastered DVD version, and for “Darmok,” a remastered Blu-ray version.  We then applied the 3D television’s upconvert and easily adjusted the various 3D settings, such as “Standard” or “Cinema” or “Extreme,” tint, and brightness/backlighting, to create the best picture possible for the room lighting.

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