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A close up for Bruce the shark in Jaws

Review by C.J. Bunce

In time for the 40th anniversary of the movie Jaws, Titan Books issued an updated edition of Jaws: Memories from Martha’s Vineyard, a rare and unusual chronicle of the making of a film.  Told via photographs and interviews from the locals who helped literally make the film, from construction crews to performers tapped to play key roles in the movies, Memories offers yet another view of the making of the first modern summer blockbuster.

What differentiates this book from other works on this movie (or any other movie) is the “local” perspective.  Instead of giving the standard Hollywood view of the “making of” a movie using interviews with the crew and producers as you’d normally find on the TV and Film shelf, the authors, Jaws memorabilia collectors Matt Taylor and Jim Beller, take a historical research approach.  They rely on primary source material, through hundreds of hours of interviews with every islander who would speak with them, newspaper clippings from 1974, scrapbooks and photo albums that have sat on shelves for 35 years, including plenty of information never before seen by the general public.  The result is a story told in photos rarely seen for any film or film franchise–something you’d only find from years of books published about Star Wars, Star Trek, and the Indiana Jones movies.

Amity Island billboard in production

The story is told chronologically, day by day from the selection of the filming locations on Martha’s Vineyard in Massachusetts to pre-production and on through the wrap-up of filming.  The memorabilia and ephemera pictured includes everything from the remnants of the actual boats used in the movie to the more mundane, like checks and contracts for day laborers.  Yet every piece is interesting, like candid Polaroids showing Robert Shaw’s first day on set and Spielberg at the cabin he lived at during the shoot.  The experience of sifting through all that remains of the production is a bit like spending a weekend at a small town local library researching any historical event from a town’s past.

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Arnold Terminator Genisys

Review by C.J. Bunce

Few sci-fi films are as revered as James Cameron’s Terminator and Terminator II: Judgment Day.  Judgment Day is regarded by many as one of the greatest sequels to any movie ever made.  Both films made American Film Institute lists and are the kind of movies we can watch hundreds of times and still keep enjoying them.  Two sequels followed, no longer under the direction of Cameron, Terminator III: Rise of the Machines, a worthy but lesser sequel reviewed at borg.com here, and the far, far lesser Terminator: Salvation.  So coming into the fourth sequel this weekend with the opening of director Alan Taylor’s Terminator Genisys, expectations by many were low.  So against that backdrop, and countless bashings by both national film critics and time travel aficionados, how really is this sequel?

Somehow Terminator Genisys manages to be not only good, but great, and not only that, it manages to equal the punch and excitement of both Terminator and Terminator II.

Terminator Genisys cast

That’s right, if you love the universe of Arnold Schwarzenegger’s sometimes villain, sometimes hero Terminator T-800, you’re going to love this film, which is not only loyal to James Cameron’s originals, it flat-out amps up the sci-fi and takes every element that made the earlier films great and expands them into new, exciting places.  This includes time travel, big action, story twists, casting, acting, and all the cybernetic tech you could hope for.  Adhering to a carefully laid out plan covering two parallel timelines (that we know of), we revisit the first Terminator trip to 1984 and learn about two other time jumps that illustrate Kyle Reese’s important line from the first movie:  “The future is not set. There is no fate but what we make for ourselves.”  In fact in Reese’s first conversation with Sarah he made the same point, calling her future “one possible future.”  These seeds planted in the original allow this new story to take off.

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Gentle Giant Ant-Man SDCC 2015

As we find every year, Gentle Giant is back again next week with several great exclusives for San Diego Comic-Con 2015–something for everyone.  The finest pieces come from Marvel Studios’ new Ant-Man film and classic Star Wars characters.  The Ant-Man sculpt, shown above, is a top-notch rendering of Paul Rudd’s character in costume.  This statue is limited to only 500 pieces.  It is 4.25 inches tall–not ant sized but big enough to appreciate.

Gentle Giant prototype Boba Fett SDCC 2015

Next is this stunning bust of the prototype for Boba Fett.  Every version of Boba Fett that gets turned into a toy or collectible simply amazes, and this all white version just makes us all want to see this character in action.

Deadpool Gentle Giant SDCC 2015

Deadpool fans will appreciate this interpretation of Deadpool by Gentle Giant artists.  It’s Deadpool as he may have looked in Secret Wars.  This figure stands 12 inches tall.

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CJ Bunce Stawamus Chief Squamish BC 1998

Of all the beauty to be found in British Columbia, from the unreal blue waters along Highway 99, to the European feel of Victoria on San Juan Island, to the gondola ride to the top of Whistler, to the Emerald City of Vancouver, you will hardly find anything as mesmerizing as the mountain that resides next to the lovely town of Squamish called Stawamus Chief. 

At the Stawamus Chief Provincial Park, you can enjoy a great picnic with your family and find yourself transfixed at the incredibly polished striations down the mountain’s face, the result of millions of years of erosion.  Driving the Sea to Sky highway between Vancouver and Whistler you will find your eyes drawn to this monstrous entity as you twist along the highway–almost like Mt. Rainier towering over Seattle as you inch closer–until you find yourself in its shadow.  Under the code name “Euclid” you could find the crew of the next Star Trek adventure, Star Trek Beyond, filming their next adventure there this past week.

Whistler gondola CJ Bunce 1998

Just like Vancouver is one of the most popular shooting locations in North America, it’s no wonder the topography draws studios back to this spot time and time again.  While you’re waiting for Star Trek Beyond, try to spot the mighty Chief in any number of Canadian productions as you watch TV and movies every day.  Once you’ve visited Squamish a few times, you’ll experience another level of enjoyment spotting the town and its landmarks in dozens of movies and TV series.

Here are some shows to check out:

The Returned A&E logo

  • The star-studded and nicely creepy A&E series The Returned is filmed in and around Squamish, and every episode features prominent buildings and easily recognizable natural landmarks.  Catch The Returned season one OnDemand.

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Super7 Haunted House SDCC 2015

San Francisco-based toy company Super7 announced several exclusives this week that the company will be offering at San Diego Comic Con later this month, including a giant Haunted House to be used with their 3 3/4 inch action figure line with Funko toys.  Super7’s biggest playset so far, the Haunted House is designed to fit any and all 3 3/4 ReAction figures and classic Kenner figures.  Measuring in at a whopping 25” wide and 20” tall, the three-story mansion is packed with trap doors, concealed entrances, hidden rooms and secret passages.

Super7 spent almost an entire year developing this playset to match the vintage cardboard playsets of the 1970s.  Loaded with over 60 individually painted panels and countless custom double-pass die-cuts on both sides of every board, the Haunted House may look simple, but this was the most complex toy Super7 has ever produced.  Available exclusively from Super7, the Haunted House playset will be available for $75 each, limit one per person at SDCC booth #4945 (action figures not included).  Look below for close-up photos.

Universal Monsters ghost figures

Super7 will also be offering two Nightmare Before Christmas action figures, and a four-figure Universal Monster monster playset including a crypt. Super7 will also be offering a Masters of the Universe prototype set, available only at Skeletor’s Lair during SDCC at 701 8th Ave., San Diego, CA 92101.

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Rocky VII Creed

Has there been a bad Rocky movie?  Sylvester Stallone’s springboard to stardom was the character and stories he wrote and starred in beginning with the first, garnering ten Oscar nominations and three wins, including Best Picture, Best Director, and Best Film Editing.  Stallone’s acting and screenplay even earned a nomination for the 1976 classic.  In fact Stallone has written each of Rocky II, III, IV, V and the most recent Rocky Balboa in 2006.  Now the Rocky story takes a new direction, this time with new writers, newcomers Ryan Coogler and Aaron Covington, with the fall release Creed.

Who doesn’t remember the motivational Bill Conti soundtrack to Rocky?  Rocky II’s “Eye of the Tiger”?  How about cheering on Rocky as he defeated Dolph Lundgren’s Drago in Rocky IV? 

Rocky II 1979 movie poster

This time Rocky steps into the shoes of those that trained him, Burgess Meredith’s Mickey, Carl Weathers’ Apollo Creed, and Burt Young’s Paulie, to train a new fighter.  That fighter is Adonis Creed, son of Apollo, who we saw as Rocky’s unlikely trainer in Rocky III, and last saw as he was killed by Drago in Rocky IV.

Check out the trailer for Creed:

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Spade and Farley

Nothing is more infuriating than the untimely deaths of people who make you laugh.  John Belushi.  John Candy.  Phil Hartman.  Robin Williams.  A new documentary by Spike takes a look at another one of these comedic gems, the life and death of the explosive personality that was Chris Farley, one of the funniest comedians to ever hail from that elite squad of comics who made their fame via their work on Saturday Night Live. 

Clips of the comedian’s best work from SNL and movies like Tommy Boy and Coneheads are interspersed with interviews of Farley’s friends and family in I Am Chris Farley, giving us some insight into what made this guy tick, including those who knew him the best: David Spade, Dan Aykroyd, Lorne Michaels, Adam Sandler, Jay Mohr, Bob Odenkirk, Molly Shannon, Tom Arnold, and his brother Kevin.

Farley followed in the footsteps of two of his own idols, Belushi and Candy, dying too early at the age of 33 back in 1997 from a drug overdose.  What can we learn from Farley’s death?  What pressure was Farley under, and how did such a quick rise in fame cause Farley to fall just as fast?  Could anyone have helped him along the way?  Here’s the trailer for the new documentary I Am Chris Farley:

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T3 Arnold & Co

You have Terminator and Terminator 2: Judgment Day committed to memory.  The fourth Terminator movie, Terminator Salvation, nearly turned you off on the franchise for good.  But what you don’t remember is the last time Arnold Schwarzenegger really played the Terminator.  That was the third film, Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines.  Back in 2003, our expectations were pretty high, just as they are for this week’s release of Terminator Genisys.  Twelve years later and after the truly bad Terminator Salvation, you might find it better than you remember.  If you want to get in prime Terminator mode with something different this week as you gear up for the latest effort, Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines deserves a second look.

The story connects the dots between the past and future of the first two films.  After Skynet failed to kill Sarah and John, it sends back yet another Terminator, the T-X, played by Kristanna Loken, to eliminate all of John Connor’s Resistance leaders, including his wife Kate, played by Claire Danes–who will one day be his second in command.  The Resistance sends its own counter-attack into the past in the form of an outdated tech T-850, played by Schwarzenegger, and as with Terminator 2, Arnold is again the hero/protector.  John Connor, played by the strangely cast Nick Stahl (he doesn’t look anything like John in T2), is living off the grid, but still the prize target, which the T-X encounters in a fated, self-fulfilling prophecy of sorts where John and Kate’s lives converge with the arrival of both the T-X and T-850.

Loken Terminatrix

We learn that Kate’s dad is a general in the military who is preparing to activate Skynet–and finally learn the reason why it was created, and how it all goes wrong–on the Judgment Day of the first sequel’s title.

So why is it a good Terminator movie?

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Fassbender Macbeth

Henry V is probably the best of William Shakespeare’s dramas adapted for film, garnering for director and lead actor Kenneth Branagh two Oscar nominations.  For the bloodiest of Shakespeare’s plays, Michael Fassbender (Inglourious Basterds, X-Men franchise, Prometheus, Jonah Hex) will take the crown as the title character in this year’s Studiocanal production of Macbeth.  Oscar winner Marion Cotillard (The Dark Knight Rises, Inception) will take on the prized role of Lady Macbeth.

From the first trailer released for the latest Macbeth, we can see plenty that may indicate this film is in the same league as Branagh’s film.  Plenty of artistry in the cinematography and costumes, and indications that some real effort went into the battle scenes.  And isn’t Fassbender a dead ringer for Richard Harris in Camelot?

macbeth movie poster fassbender

Other familiar actors featured in the film include David Thewlis (Timeline, the Harry Potter franchise, RED 2, DragonHeart), Paddy Considine (Hot Fuzz, The Bourne Ultimatum, The World’s End), Elizabeth Debicki (The Man from U.N.C.L.E.), and David Hayman (Shetland, Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit).

Here’s the first trailer for director Justin Kurzel’s Macbeth:

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Flux Capacitor from Back to the Future

Let’s face it–our lives are very busy, and the last thing you will do when you wake up tomorrow morning is think “Hey it’s time for me to replace my flux capacitor.”  However, the life of your time travel system is very dependent on the condition of your flux capacitor.  Having an old flux capacitor can stall an otherwise enjoyable journey, and can cause you to be stuck back in 1985.  Or worse.  Just ask Marty McFly.

Save the Clock Tower

And although they don’t offer an annual maintenance service agreement, that’s why the folks at Diamond Select offer a replacement flux capacitor for handling all your time travel needs.  Remember, you should always check and possibly change your flux capacitor in between time travel escapes, or at least every 30 years or 300,000 miles.  Changing the flux capacitor is actually something that is very easy for anyone to do.  Here are two places to pick up your own high-end unit, and a less expensive option for everyone else (complete with blinky lights!).

Replica flux capacitor

Amazon, Entertainment Earth, and BTTF.net each offer the same unit right now.  You can get yours from Amazon here, Entertainment Earth here, or from BTTF.net here.  Through June 20, 2015 at 11:59 p.m. Central time BTTF.net is knocking $95 off their regular price.  Amazon has the lowest price as of today, but has limited quantities.  So act fast.*

Need a more affordable model?

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