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Veronica Mars

Review by C.J. Bunce

For fans of Rob Thomas and Jennifer Graham’s first tie-in novel Veronica Mars: The Thousand Dollar Tan Line, previously reviewed here at borg.com, the next novel in the paperback series will get readers even closer to the Veronica of the TV series.  Veronica Mars: Mr. Kiss and Tell, is a darker mystery, a hard-boiled detective story, straight out of the hard case crime series of the past.  Mr. Kiss and Tell also continues to show the growth of Veronica, now a 29-year-old with responsibilities after she ditched her law career for a P.I. agency gig with her dad.

Nobody knows Veronica better than creator Rob Thomas.  The banter, the snarky quips, the Whedon-esque pop culture references all make for a story that is not only consistent with the TV series and 2014 crowdfunded movie, but it remains fresh, taking Veronica into new territory.  Thomas and Graham waste no time, providing a powerful beginning:  A junk dealer happens upon what could be a mannequin as he is roaming the city.  Only it’s a woman, barely alive, and we’ll learn she’s from a family that will be familiar to Veronica Mars fans.  Veronica is hired by a hotel to prove that a hotel employee was not the attacker and rapist that left the young woman for dead.  But if he didn’t do it, then who did?

Mars Mr Kiss and Tell logo

Veronica has a long history with solving rape cases, cases that became almost a hallmark of her series.  This case will take her into the seedy parts of society, with Veronica barreling into danger reminding us that, however well-intentioned, she often makes poor choices.  Here she ends up in a hotel with a prostitute and her pimp–a giant thug who makes Veronica an offer that could end her case quickly–but it’s also an offer she should refuse.  But will she?  Has she changed at all?

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Space Invaders Pixels movie poster   Pixels Galaga poster

Last night Production Weekly announced the new title for the third Tron movie has been chosen:  Tron: Ascension.  Tron: Ascension will begin filming in Vancouver this October.  Oh, yeah!

Video game movies are back.  What conjures up more retro fun than 1980s arcade games?  Who didn’t have at least a few of these on their Atari 2600?  Pac-Man, Donkey Kong, Space Invaders, Galaga, Centipede…  This summer aliens have sent these animated pixilated weapons to cause Earth’s destruction in Pixels, a new 3D movie from Sony Pictures and Adam Sandler’s Happy Madison Productions.  Think of the comedy and fantasy elements of Ghostbusters mashed up with the annihilation of the world’s landmarks, Independence Day style.  All the makings of a summer comedy blockbuster.

It’s like the reverse of Tron–instead of shrinking down to the pixel size of arcade game character Tron and playing in the Grid, the arcade video game stars are now becoming larger than life, entering our world.

Donkey Kong screen

It stars Adam Sandler (when was the last time Adam Sandler had a hit anyway?  50 First Dates?).  He joins Kevin James (King of Queens), Michelle Monaghan (Source Code, The Bourne Supremacy), and Peter Dinklage (Elf, The Station Agent, Game of Thrones) as they defend the world against… video games from space.

It’ll all make sense when you watch the first trailer for Pixels, after the break:

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chrome T1000 ReAction Funko Terminator 2 Entertainment Earth exclusive   exclusive T1000 chrome bullets T1000 Entertainment Earth Terminator 2

Back in February we revealed here at borg.com the latest in Funko’s more than 20 licensed films and TV series in its 2015 ReAction action figure line first discussed at borg.com here and here, and now we have images of the carded figures and sculpts for many more new figures.  We also have links to allow readers to be among the first to pre-order them all from online collectibles store Entertainment Earth.  We’re still waiting for final images for Jaws, Gremlins, Scarface, and Fight Club, but we have pre-order information plus images and links to pre-order the new ReAction line for CW’s The Flash, The Karate Kid, Disney’s Tomorrowland, and the second wave of original series Star Trek figures We shared links for the first figures in the new Star Trek original series line last month here.

Better yet, you can now pre-order two new exclusive Funko ReAction figures, available only from Entertainment Earth.  Order the two exclusive liquid chrome “metallic” T1000 Terminator 2 figures (above, top) by clicking on the above images.

Word from Funko’s blog is that Phoebe Cates is not authorizing a likeness for the Gremlins line.  Here’s the prototype from Toy Fair 2015:

Gremlins prototypes Funko ReAction

This may mean both the Gremlins and Fast Times at Ridgemont High lines will be hindered by missing her key characters from these films.  Even though her figure looked nothing like the actress (as with most figures in the retro line) she apparently has some control of over not only her image but reproductions based on her characters.

Click on the images below to see full-sized images of figures and cards and to pre-order each from Entertainment Earth.

Flash Funko ReAction  Mr Miyagi Karate Kid Funko ReAction

Still yet to be revealed are figures from The Dark Crystal, Fast Times at Ridgemont High, The Big Lebowski, Scarface (although Al Pacino’s figure was previewed at Toy Fair 2015), V for Vendetta, The Rocky Horror Picture Show, E.T., the Extra-Terrestrial, The A-Team, The Munsters, and Aliens.

Second Wave of Star Trek, the original series

Captain Kirk Funko ReAction Scotty Funko ReAction Star Trek Gorn Star Trek ReAction Funko Vina Star Trek ReAction Funko

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Selfridge biplane 2015

British TV series that travel to U.S. audiences via PBS’s Masterpiece series usually take a year to get across the pond.  And it’s not just an England Proper thing.  The same is true of Canadian series that air in the U.S. an entire year after the original broadcast at home, like Syfy’s Lost Girl.  Before the popularity of Downton Abbey, most PBS viewers didn’t take much note of this.  Now fans of Mr. Selfridge, which returns tonight for Season 3 (“Series 3″ in British parlance) have to face the same problem.  That problem is spoilers.

Fans of Mr. Selfridge will be thrown several sidewinders for Season 3, and dodging these new twists and turns before they air each Sunday night will be difficult, especially since entire story plots are scattered across the Web, and Episode 10 will air in England tonight the same time Episode 1 airs in the States.  Can’t wait to find out what happens next?  It’s right there waiting for you to read.  So what’s your best bet?  Pick up Season 3 on DVD or Blu-ray, available at Amazon.com now here, or stream it here, and start your binge watching before you learn too much, too early.

Mr Selfridge Season 3 store cast

If you’re interested in why Mr. Selfridge has the most realistic historical costumes of any series on TV, series costumer designer James Keast reveals one of his secrets in an interview done for the show:  Many of the costumes are vintage–actual garments worn more than 100 years ago and found in the department store archives.  Check out that video after the break, as well as some insights and a preview on what is certain to be a tumultuous Season 3:

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Craig as James Bond SPECTRE

In the past few decades of the 50 year tenure of James Bond on film it’s really hard to beat Daniel Craig’s first turn as James Bond in 2006’s Casino Royale.  As action goes it’s practically a perfect film, particularly considering that it’s a bit of an origin story–an overdone trope in genre movies.  But despite continuing with an actor who was truly believable as Bond, its 2008 sequel, Quantum of Solace, only muddled along with uninteresting villains, and the 2012 follow-up Skyfall, although interesting, delivered the message that this Bond may be too old to be Bond.

So it’s a relief that James Bond is going back to the basics in SPECTRE–the 24th film in the ongoing series–as hinted in its first trailer released this weekend.  Sure, the support team is still here, like Naomie Harris’s Miss Moneypenny, but this Bond is clearly on a new solo mission, and it’s not just a tangential adventure.  Tying back to the destruction of the late M’s MI6 office building, Bond is off again to seek some revenge.

Bond brother in SPECTRE Christoph Waltz

Better yet, perhaps we will now learn more about the mysterious Mr. White, played by Jesper Christensen, who has appeared in the first two Daniel Craig Bond movies, but each time as a shadowy figure whose motives and secrets remain hidden.  After being caught by Bond at the end of Casino Royale, he managed to escape in Quantum of Solace.  We were led to believe he worked for an organization called Quantum, but does he really work for SPECTRE?

Mr White SPECTRE

After the break check out the first trailer for SPECTRE:

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Arnold zombie Breslin Maggie

Arnold Schwarzenegger is starring in a new zombie movie, and it’s not a comedy?

Michael Fassbender is starring in a Western?

It can only be Trailer Park: The “What the ?” Edition.  Check out two new trailers below, after the break.

It’s always fun to be blind-sided by unexpected previews.  Today’s two movies weren’t in late 2014’s trade papers, or they might have made our All the Movies You’ll Want to See in 2015 list.

What’s it with all the cool, new zombie material being previewed this month?  Since 28 Days Later I hadn’t gotten the bite yet for the genre, and suddenly zombie TV series iZombie, The Returned, and Les Revenants are knocking everything out of the DVR priority list?  Did we time-skip into a parallel dimension?

Arnold’s new movie, Maggie, is completely surprising.  The first trailer out of the gates looks great.  Oscar nominee Abigail Breslin plays his zombie-infected daughter in her last weeks before completely going zombie.  Arnold’s tired and troubled father looks like Clint Eastwood in Unforgiven.  If the dark and measured pace of the trailer reflects the final cut of the film, this may be a horror thriller to check out.

Fassbender Slow West

Then there’s this quirky new Western, Slow West.  The film has generated some decent buzz already.  A Western filmed in New Zealand absolutely looks a bit off.  But the steely-eyed Fassbender as a John Wayne in The Searchers / Han Solo type?  That may deserve a casting award.

Slow West follows a boy on a quest across the sea to America to track down his lost love.  John Maclean directs a relatively unknown cast, Fassbender aside.  The trailer carries a bit of British-influenced flare, and the vibe of Tom Cruise and Nicole Kidman’s epic immigrant picture Far and Away. 

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Stewart camera Rear Window

Review by C.J. Bunce

One of the first classic movies restored using a state of the art Technicolor dye-transfer process, the restoration of Alfred Hitchcock’s most stylish and suspenseful film, Rear Window, provided 1990s audiences a presentation of the film better than it was originally seen upon its initial release in 1954.  That version was back on the big screen this week, thanks to Turner Classic Movies and the Fathom Events series.  Inspired by a Cornell Woolrich short story about voyeurism and murder, Hitch’s classic piece of cinema still holds up, keeping a 2015 audience completely engaged with his unique use of humor juxtaposed with some pretty grisly circumstances.

Anchored by top performances from Jimmy Stewart and Grace Kelly, and just as superb supporting performances by Thelma Ritter and Wendell Corey, Rear Window is as atmospheric as any film of its decade.  Hitchcock filmed primarily in the muted brown tones of a sweltering urban summer, but he used targeted deep reds to highlight key imagery: the mercury of a wall thermometer, a bright and significant bed of flowers, a perfect lobster dinner, crisp uneaten bacon, and a certain fashionable socialite’s lipstick in her opening scene.  And yet, unlike Hitchcock’s The Birds or Psycho, the red of blood–and any gore at all–is kept off-stage.  He didn’t need it.  The suspense builds for two hours and even after 60 years, the payoff–and especially what we can’t see–is still able to transfix audiences with nail-biting action.

Stewart Kelly Rear Window scene

Highly memorable is the music–a soaring clarinet rises up above Franz Waxman’s jazz score from the film’s first scene, reflecting the liveliness of the block, the active and important parts of all the lives visible from the rear window of Stewart’s L.B. “Jeff” Jeffries, a war photographer laid up with a broken leg.  Waxman’s stylish music propels the story forward despite Jeff’s claustrophobic, trapped circumstance.  Love themes, like Bing Crosby’s “To See You is to Love You” and “Many Dreams Ago” reflect the seemingly hopeless plight of Miss Lonelyhearts–a single woman longing to find love who is attacked and then plans to commit suicide.  Waxman’s own song “Lisa” takes on its own life, composed over the course of the film by a piano player across the courtyard, to get noticed by Miss Lonelyhearts, and be picked up as the love theme for Jeff and Grace Kelly’s character, Jeff’s girlfriend Lisa Fremont.  And to relieve the tension at story’s end, a rousing accordion plays “That’s Amore” to the curtain.

Rear Window Stewart Corey

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Lando in Star Wars Rebels

We initially had some trepidation when it came to the new Disney animated TV series, Star Wars Rebels, set five years before the original Star Wars movie (A New Hope) and 14 years after Episode III.  We reviewed the first movie length pilot episode here, now available on DVD at Amazon.com here.  Focus on the younger character Ezra and the more cartoony silliness initially pointed to kids as the target audience for the show.  But as the series gained its stride, it became not only a good tie-in for diehard Star Wars fans, but something real, honest to goodness, Star Wars canon fans can be excited about, with its inclusion of original trilogy cast members as voice actors.  And its primary and supporting cast work will have you wanting to watch it again and eagerly anticipate Season Two when it returns to Disney XD at your next binge session.

The high point surprised us: The return of Billy Dee Williams as Lando Calrissian in an adventure before The Empire Strikes Back.  If you hate the fact that his primary role in the original trilogy was as a betrayer of Han Solo, you can finally see why Han previously was friends with him.  Sure, he was an opportunist even back then, but he was also skillful and suave, and, believe it or not, much cooler than he was portrayed in the movies.  That’s something worth seeing.

Star Wars Rebels C-3PO

But it didn’t stop with Billy Dee Williams.  The first episode, “Droids in Distress,” featured the return of Anthony Daniels as the voice of C-3P0.  In the ninth episode the great and powerful Frank Oz returned to voice the part of Yoda, in “Path of the Jedi.”  And how about James Earl Jones as Darth Vader again?  You can’t really get more canon than that.  Well, at least until we see Mark Hamill, Carrie Fisher, Harrison Ford, Peter Mayhew, Anthony Daniels, and Kenny Baker (and not only just hear them) return in Episode VII later his year.

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Wayward Pines

“We gotta get out of this place, if it’s the last thing we ever do.” —The Animals

Claustrophobic?  Then maybe the new Fox series Wayward Pines is not for you.  But the previews for the new series make us think you might be miss out on something good.

Wrong place, wrong time.  We’ve all encountered circumstances we wish we could reverse, but most of us haven’t stumbled into an entire town we wished we could escape from, but couldn’t.  In comedy we’ve seen this on television with shows like Northern Exposure and Green Acres.  In classic cinema we’ve seen it with George Bailey in It’s a Wonderful Life.  But that’s not the kind of town we’ll be visiting soon in Wayward Pines.  The obvious comparison is to that quirky Pacific Northwest town of Twin Peaks–like that cult favorite series, the protagonist is an FBI agent following up on a case in a forested town.  The characters in Wayward Pines don’t appear to be as odd as the Log Lady, but we’ll learn this town is much, much darker.  In fact it might have more in common with the Midwest town in Children of the Corn, the British village in Wicker Man, or Stephen King’s seaside town of Haven.

Wayward Pines Matt Dillon

Somehow the townspeople of Wayward Pines are trapped.  Like a plot pulled from an episode of sci-fi television–think The Twilight Zone’s “Nick of Time” (1960) with William Shatner, The X-Files’s episode “Arcadia” (1999), or the reboot The Twilight Zone episode “Evergreen” (2002) with Amber Tamblyn.  In movies no director knows “trapped” like M. Night Shyamalan, as seen in his moody Signs (2002), The Village (2004), and The Happening (2008).  So it’s no wonder his next director/executive producer project is Wayward Pines. 

After the break, check out the trailer for Wayward Pines:

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Cruise Mission Impossible 5 Rogue Nation b

How does he do it?  How does Tom Cruise keep churning out exciting movies, over and over again?  We can count 27 of his movies that we’d watch all over again, out of a total body of work of 37 movies.  Taps, The Outsiders, Top Gun, Rain Man, Far and Away, A Few Good Men, The Firm, Jerry Maguire, Minority Report, The Last Samurai, Collateral, War of the Worlds, Valkyrie, Jack Reacher, Oblivion, Edge of Tomorrow–any actor would love to have just a few of these in their portfolio, and Cruise was the lead in all but two.  (We hid several Tom Cruise movies in a review of Jack Reacher a year ago here at borg.com–can you find them all?).  Then you have Cruise’s own version of James Bond–only there he is Ethan Hunt and the series is Mission:  Impossible.

The fifth entry in the Mission:  Impossible franchise is coming your way soon.  Each of its predecessors had something new to offer, although none better than Brian De Palma’s 1996 original, derived from the classic TV series.  Mission:  Impossible co-starred Jon Voight, Ving Rhames–a staple for the entirety of the series, and Kristin Scott Thomas.  Every action director wants to try his hand at making a Mission:  Impossible movie.  Director John Woo helmed Mission: Impossible II in 2000, co-starring Brendon Gleeson and Dougray Scott.  In 2006, J.J. Abrams and writing duo Alex Kurtzman and Roberto Orci gave it a try with Mission:  Impossible III.  This best of the sequels so far co-starred Philip Seymour Hoffman and Michelle Monaghan, Billy Crudup, Lawrence Fishburne, and brought comedic actor Simon Pegg into the mix.  Then in 2011 Mission:  Impossible–Ghost Protocol, directed by Brad Bird of The Incredibles fame, added Jeremy Renner to the team.

Mission Impossible 5 V Rogue Nation poster

After the break, check out the new preview released this weekend for Mission:  Impossible–Rogue Nation:

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