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Archive for August, 2012


Review by C.J. Bunce

You may find Ian Fleming’s third James Bond novel, Moonraker, to be a surprising, refreshing read for several reasons.

First, it is new to those who have only watched the movie adaptations.  Moonraker the novel has very little relationship to the 11th Bond film, starring Roger Moore, where Moore’s Bond is trying to prevent a global conspiracy involving the Space Shuttle.

Second, Bond is humanized.  The impressive perfection of Bond in Casino Royale is smoothed out and Ian Fleming, after two other Bond novels, is easing into this super spy’s mystique, his aura, and the nature of this suave and sophisticated man of mystery.  The uncomfortable 1950s racial elements of Live and Let Die are thankfully completely absent here.  Here we see Bond at home, Bond buying a car, Bond’s daily life as Agent 007, including reviewing forms as any government analyst might do.  We get to see that Bond’s life, outside the novels, is routine.  It’s a Bond you may never thought you would get to see, if all you have seen are the films.

Third, Hugo Drax is a fantastic villain.  Even James Bond admires Drax and acknowledges it to other characters throughout Moonraker.  Bond’s preoccupation with Drax’s looks, his facial hair and the odd close-cut workers and their own myriad variety of moustaches is simply intriguing.

Fourth, we get to see Bond commiserate away from the Secret Service offices with M himself.  M invites Bond to an exclusive club called Blades, one of the most perfectly described locations in the Bond universe.  One might think we’ve seen Bond already do the card game bit in Casino Royale, yet Moonraker‘s card war is strangely epic.

Fifth, you’ll find some classic supporting villains that could be found in classic Hollywood mystery stories, including Krebs, a Wormtongue-toady type who at one time could have been played smartly by Peter Lorre.  There’s even a classic mad scientist.

Moonraker finds Bond summoned to M’s office where M proceeds to explain the need for a personal favor.  A certain member of the oldest gentleman’s club in all of jolly old England has been caught cheating at cards.  What kind of a man–a man who could afford to play the highest stakes of games in a club so exclusive only 200 members are ever allowed on the roster–would risk his reputation and membership on such arrogance and stupidity?

M calls on Bond because he is known around the service as the card player to beat, with a background knowledge of every trick in the book, and Fleming goes to some lengths in explaining the games and the ruses, not in any overdone way but just enough to immerse the reader in Bond’s world.  The club has the high brow feel of the club of Duke & Duke in Trading Places, and throughout the novel I wondered if any of Moonraker‘s vivid descriptions directly inspired movie script locations like the exclusive Bushwood Country Club in Caddyshack.

It doesn’t take long for Bond to figure out a way to foil the great cheating millionaire.  But this millionaire, Sir Hugo Drax, is key to the British government’s most important pet project–he is the mind behind the Moonraker missile project.  Moonraker is Great Britain’s first nuclear weapon and the future of the UK’s national defense system.  The significance of the first test of said missile causes M to pull Bond in when a member of the security team is killed at the launch site.  Bond takes over the role, which forces him to work one on one with Drax.

At first Bond loathes Drax and continuously finds ways to criticize him to M, yet once he follows Drax to examine his new creation he is rightly impressed with his ability to pull together a team of researchers and support staff, including 50 Germans, to complete this monumental project.  His work on site causes him to partner with the obligatory Bond girl of this novel, Gala Brand, a Scotland Yard agent posing as Drax’s personal assistant.

Moonraker is full of good action scenes–Bond chasing after Brand when she is kidnapped, Bond and Brand hiding with the missile silo walls, more than one murder attempt against Bond, the grand card game, and uncovering the secret purpose of the Moonraker rocket.  Where Casino Royale was exciting from a plot standpoint but not so much in-depth as far as character is concerned, and where Live and Let Die is now somewhat dated, Ian Fleming’s writing in Moonraker is vivid, rich, and compelling.

Moonraker would be ideal as a film remake today.  With Dame Judith Dench as M, it would be fascinating to see how Bond could be a friend of sorts assisting M after hours on more of a social mission than a political one.  And translating the V-2-inspired rocket and Cold War themes into something compelling today would be a fun challenge for the keepers of the James Bond mantle.

More borg.com James Bond novel “Retro-reviews” can be found here and here.

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From the Staff
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If you were married 50 years ago this time of year (and you know who you are), you’d be celebrating your 50th wedding anniversary–known as the Golden Anniversary.  James Bond, the British agent that never grows old throughout his film franchise also scores a Golden Anniversary this year as several companies celebrate his 50th year on the silver screen.  It’s not the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee, but, hey, it’s close–and heck, she’s the Queen.  In a year of Olympics in London and British TV series making their mark overseas, it seems fitting that all things James Bond are big from now through the end of the year.

First up is “Global James Bond Day,” slated for October 5, 2012, the 50th anniversary of the London premiere of Dr. No, starring Sean Connery as the first actor to portray Bond, in the first of now 23 official Ian Fleming James Bond novel adaptations.  Although we’ve seen no nations making this a holiday or even a nationally recognized celebration, Albert R. Broccoli’s EON Productions, Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Studios, Sony Pictures Entertainment and Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment all are partnering on this big marketing push leading to the release of Skyfall starring Daniel Craig, premiering November 9, 2012, in the U.S.A.

Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Pictures, Columbia Pictures, Passion Pictures and Red Box Films are also releasing a documentary about Ian Fleming and the men who made James Bond the largest movie franchise in film history.  Everything or Nothing: The Untold Story of 007 focuses on the individuals who have kept Bond fresh and alive with the changing times, Bond producers Albert R. Broccoli and Harry Saltzman.  Theater dates for the documentary have not yet been released.

Collectors of screen-used James Bond memorabilia will be happy to hear Christie’s will be auctioning off 50 lots tied to the franchise via an online and live auction charity event benefitting twelve charities (full details are at www.christies.com/bond).  Lot details will be released in September.

If you’re in London you can catch some of the most iconic items from the 007 movies displayed at the “Designing 007: 50 Years of Bond Style” exhibition at the Barbican center in London continuing through September 5, 2012.  If you’re not in London but are lucky enough to be living in or visiting Canada between October 26, 2012 and January 20, 2013, the Toronto International Film Festival and Bell Lightbox will be hosting its own spinoff of the London “Designing 007: 50 Years of Bond Style” event.

Exhibition highlights include the steel teeth worn by Richard “Jaws” Kiel in The Spy Who Loved Me (1997); storyboards for Diamonds are Forever (1971);  the Anthony Sinclair overcoat worn by Sean Connery in Dr. No (1962);  the poker table from Casino Royale (2006); and multiple gadgets from Q Branch including the attaché case given to Bond in From Russia With Love (1963).

The preservationists of original Albert Broccoli’s EON Productions donated copies of each James Bond film–the New York Museum of Modern Art will be hosting its own Bond film retrospective this year.

Like Bond music like Paul McCartney’s Live and Let Die?  The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences will be hosting a “Music of Bond” night in Los Angeles later this year.  If you don’t live in L.A., you might want to know that the best single CD James Bond orchestral compilation of music ever created, Bond and Beyond, was recorded by the late, great Erich Kunzel and the Cincinnati Pops in 2002, and can still be found at Amazon.com and other online stores.

And those who saw the big Bond 50 booth at Comic-Con will already know that all 22 Bond films to date will be released for the first time in one Blu-Ray collection beginning September 24, 2012.  You can pre-order the Blu-Ray collection Bond 50: The Complete 22 Film Collection for a discount off the release price now at Amazon.com and get a limited edition hardcover book including 50 years of Bond movie posters.  It will also be available in a standard DVD collection edition, also now at a pre-order discount at Amazon.com.

And borg.com is participating as well as we continue our “Retro reviews” of all the original James Bond novels, continuing later this week with Ian Fleming’s Moonraker.

C.J. Bunce
Editor
borg.com

DC Comics announced at the DC Entertainment-All Access panel at Fan Expo Toronto this weekend that DC will be adding a new Justice League to the New 52 coming in 2013.  Not merely another mini-series, DC will be publishing a new ongoing comic book series titled Justice League of America. 

“Wait a second!” you say.  “But we already have a Justice League–it’s DC’s main title that ties the New 52 together, as well as a Justice League Dark, and a Justice League International already being phased out.”

But the Justice League is just the Justice League, and apparently the DC Powers That be figured out we all needed to see a Justice League with its original JLA moniker, stress on the “America”.

New 52 writer Geoff Johns (who has writing credits on the current Justice League, Aquaman and Green Lantern series) will be writing the new series, with David Finch (Batman: The Dark Knight) serving as series artist.

“This is a very different kind of team book,” said Johns in a DC news release. “On first glance, people might think the heroes of the Justice League of America stand in the shadows of Superman, Wonder Woman and the rest of the Justice League, but Green Arrow, Katana, Martian Manhunter, the new Green Lantern, Stargirl, Vibe, Hawkman and Catwoman thrive in the shadows.  They’re underdogs who have everything to prove and something to lose.  They’re a team of unlikely heroes who will help one another discover they’re as A-List as anybody — yes, even Vibe.  Though getting there won’t be easy.  Why they’re formed, why each member joins, what they’re after and who the society of villains is they’re trying to take apart will all be clear in the first issue when it hits early 2013.  David and I are really focused on delving deep into what it’s like to not be a member of the big seven and why, sometimes, the grass isn’t always greener on the other side.”

“Wait a second, again,” you say.  “Martian Manhunter, Green Arrow, Hawkman… unlikely heroes?  Underdogs?”  Umm… right.

If Johns is talking about the third-string positioning of these former, long-time–as in decades long–early JLA members as now seen in the New 52, well, then we agree with what Johns is saying.  But these guys were only B-List because the current DC editors relegated these superheroes to that status.  Ultimately it is not a big deal–superhero titles needs shaken up from time to time in the DCU and the new line is no different from shake-ups in the past.  What would be nice is a Justice League of America book that out-performs the Justice League series.

Other interesting bits–Catwoman? In the JLA?  Another Green Lantern?

We can also look forward to Johns revisiting his creation Star Girl, Courtney Whitmore, a character named for Johns’ sister who died in an airplane crash in 1996, whose costume is based on Yankee Poodle, a member of Captain Carrot’s Amazing Zoo Crew.

We will check out the new series when it launches next year, particularly because stories pairing Hawkman with Green Arrow are always fun, and it’s not really the League without the Martian Manhunter.

C.J. Bunce
Editor
borg.com

Review by C.J. Bunce

An initial reaction to the Before Watchmen series, after first learning of all the spinoff prequel titles, could have been “Where is the Crimson Corsair?”  He is of course not missing but his story got relegated to two-page issues in the back of the other titles.  So the problem is sifting through titles to connect the story together.  The result is you probably just give up.  Especially if you’re not reading all the Before Watchmen titles.  I planned to read them all but have decided to throw in the towel after the first issues of all the new titles have finally been printed and I finally made my way through them all.

I have read comments online now from those who loved Watchmen and then either love Before Watchmen or hate it.  Then there are those that merely like or hate Watchmen and either love or hate Before Watchmen.  For me, I appreciate the original–but don’t love it–and the verdict is still out on all these mini-series titles.  So far I have liked Minutemen, Silk Spectre and Nite Owl.  The Comedian was grim but compelling to the point of making me continue coming back for more.  But with Ozymandias, particularly the bizarre story and equally bizarre artwork, DC Comics started to lose me.  The eagerly awaited title Rorschach should have been a slam dunk, yet the grim for grim’s sake story didn’t work for me, and Lee Bermejo, whose incredible work included Batman: Noel last year, seems to have been wasted on this title.   Then the crown of all books, a J. Michael Straczynski and John Hughes pairing no less, landed on my stack with Dr. Manhattan. 

Straczynski is a writer that comic book writers look up to.  I doubt I know any comic book writer that doesn’t plain idolize this guy’s work.  So it’s a struggle to not rave about something he writes.  Did I miss something?  Is it me?  If the question is whether this Before Watchmen title, in its first issue, has captured the original character from Watchmen, then I answer: absolutely.  The problem is that I already knew this guy, this monotone, unfeeling, detached, all-powerful entity.  And he is still as bland as ever.  I was hoping Straczynski had something more to add and Issue #1 hasn’t given me enough to look for Issue #2 next month.

If you know the background of Dr. Manhattan, he was originally based on Captain Atom.  Captain Atom is a character I have read off and on since I was a kid.  I found him interesting, far more than Dr. Manhattan in Watchmen, and as mirrored here in Before Watchmen.   There are countless directions to take such a dangerous character in, and instead we get a Schroedinger’s cat retread story.  I love time travel and parallel universe stories in books, comics, TV and movies.  But Dr. Manhattan’s story seems done before.

Admittedly, when I heard Adam Hughes was taking on Dr. Manhattan instead of Silk Spectre, I thought, huh?  Folks at my local comic book store asked the same question.  Why wasn’t Hughes chosen for Silk Spectre?  It wasn’t just me.  So I figured it was because Silk Spectre would have a key role in Dr. Manhattan.  Not so, at least from what we see in the first issue, despite the cover.  Hughes is known for his retro-realistic drawings of women, and his Batgirl covers over the past year have a stunning 1940s magazine cover quality, just beautiful work.  So an editor selecting Hughes to draw the first and second Silk Spectre is a no-brainer.  Yet Issue #1 is all Dr. Manhattan.  And hey, the pencil work is solid.  My eyebrow frown comes from wasting Hughes on such a basic story.  It’s not like Hughes has time to churn out unlimited work.  And no doubt Dr. Manhattan, or any Before Watchmen book, was unthinkable to pass up for any young or old comic book professional in DC Comics’ arsenal that was asked to work on the series.

I will give Dr. Manhattan one more try with issue #2, but I will be bailing on Rorschach and Ozymandias, despite Rorschach being the Boba Fett of the Watchmen universe.  And instead of letting the rest of the Before Watchmen series stack up, I will be taking a second look at the other titles.  With so many New 52 titles continuing with good storylines, these “event” series need to remain interesting and even exciting to continue to earn my ongoing support (aka dollars), and unfortunately that hasn’t happened.

Neil Armstrong passed away this weekend, just shy of his 82nd birthday, and the world marked the passing of a key figure in history, an icon for anyone who ever looked to the stars and tried to locate the craters on the moon with a telescope.

On July 16, 1989, I was living in Washington, DC, and working at the Smithsonian Institution and my friend showed me an announcement: “The first men to walk on the moon will participate in a public ceremony celebrating the 20th anniversary of their lunar landing at 10 a.m. Thursday outside the Smithsonian Institution’s National Air and Space Museum in Washington, D.C.  Apollo 11 astronauts Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin walked on the moon on July 20, 1969.  They stepped down from the lunar module “Eagle,” while Michael Collins orbited overhead in the command module “Columbia.”  All three men are expected at the Smithsonian ceremony in their honor, which is being co-sponsored by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA).”
Our friend who worked at the National Air and Space Museum volunteered to work at the Apollo exhibit the night of the anniversary, and we got to man the exhibit with him and received a great poster commemorating the anniversary when it was all done.  It was a great experience being there as we had both not witnessed the TV airing of the original moon landing.  One of the curators let us handle an actual moon boot and I remember ooing and ahhing over it as a TV reporter interviewed my friend at the booth.
 
The morning of the 20th anniversary of the moon landing, President George Bush and Vice President Dan Quayle (the acting president of the Smithsonian) spoke and introduced Neil Armstrong, Buzz Aldrin, and Michael Collins, the first men to visit the moon.  It was the only time I saw Neil Armstrong in person.  Unlike the other moon men, Armstrong was a private man and kept out of the public spotlight.  Without his spacesuit he looked like any other guy you’d pass on the street.  Like many others I always wanted to know more about him.

When I think of Armstrong I think of his fame and status in the context of the history of mankind.  In Michael H. Hart’s book The 100: A Ranking of the Most Influential Persons in History, Hart includes President John F. Kennedy on his list, along with the likes of Aristotle, Jesus Christ, Gutenberg, Galileo, Copernicus, Isaac Newton, Muhammed, Edison, Michaelangelo and Beethoven.”   Why Kennedy?  Hart writes:

“A thousand years from now, neither the Peace Corps, nor the Alliance for Progress, nor the Bay of Pigs is likely to be remembered.  Nor will it seem very important what Kennedy’s policies were concerning taxes or civil rights legislation.  John F. Kennedy has been placed on this list for one reason only:  he was the person who was primarily responsible for instituting the Apollo Space Program.  Providing that the human race has not blown itself to smithereens in the intervening time, we can be fairly sure that even 5,000 years from now, our trip to the moon will still be regarded as a truly momentous event, one of the great landmarks of human history.”

Hart goes on to clarify his position:

“I will discuss the importance of the moon program a little further on.  First, however, let me deal with the question of whether John F. Kennedy is really the man who deserves the most credit for the trip.  Should we not instead credit Neil Armstrong or Edwin Aldrin, the first men who actually set foot on the moon?  If we were ranking people on the basis of enduring fame, that might be the correct thing to do, for I rather suspect that Neil Armstrong is more likely to be remembered 5,000 years from now than John F. Kennedy.”

Armstrong’s family issued a statement: “For those who may ask what they can do to honor Neil, we have a simple request. Honor his example of service, accomplishment and modesty, and the next time you walk outside on a clear night and see the moon smiling down at you, think of Neil Armstrong and give him a wink.”

On Armstrong’s passing, President Barack Obama stated:

“Neil was among the greatest of American heroes–not just of his time, but of all time.  When he and his fellow crew members lifted off aboard Apollo 11 in 1969, they carried with them the aspirations of an entire nation.  They set out to show the world that the American spirit can see beyond what seems unimaginable–that with enough drive and ingenuity, anything is possible. And when Neil stepped foot on the surface of the moon for the first time, he delivered a moment of human achievement that will never be forgotten.  Today, Neil’s spirit of discovery lives on in all the men and women who have devoted their lives to exploring the unknown–including those who are ensuring that we reach higher and go further in space. That legacy will endure–sparked by a man who taught us the enormous power of one small step.”

In the year 2000, Armstrong was quoted as saying,  “I am, and ever will be, a white socks, pocket protector, nerdy engineer, and I take a substantial amount of pride in the accomplishments of my profession.”

The barely noticeable press coverage of Mr. Armstrong’s death this weekend aside, I think the view of Armstrong’s fame enduring for thousands of years is spot on.

C.J. Bunce
Editor
borg.com

A bit of a theme this past week here at borg.com was big-time action hero mega-stars and their choice of roles in their later years.  We first discussed Arnold Schwarzenegger and compared him to John Wayne and Clint Eastwood in light if his new film The Last StandThen we compared Arnold with Sylvester Stallone in light of his new film Bullet to the Head.  Unless you’re a believer in the future of film with old movie stars as in Connie Willis’s award-winning novel Remake, we won’t be seeing any “new” John Wayne movies anytime soon.  So now we return to Clint Eastwood, in light of his September 2012 release, Trouble with the Curve.

Although the fictional Trouble with the Curve is about a famous baseball scout at the end of his career, it’s hard to say whether this will be anything like the ultimate baseball scouting movie, last year’s Moneyball.  The inclusion of Amy Adams character as Eastwood’s character’s daughter, and an apparent possible relationship between her and the baseball target played by Justin Timberlake, makes this a look a lot more romance in a baseball setting than a typical baseball flick.  That said, with baseball movies there is no typical baseball flick.

And this one seems pretty sappy, unless the trailer is totally mischaracterizing this “dad dumps daughter/daughter tries to get daddy back” plotline.  And heaping on the sap is the Phillip Phillips song “Home.”  This is bad timing for that song if you’re this writer.  I had to sit through watched the song performed live at this year’s All Star baseball game, and then we were inundated with it as one of the U.S. Olympic team’s theme songs during NBC’s coverage, over and over and over.  Now it’s that drippy song permeating through this trailer.  It’s a nice song.  But enough already.

The interesting tidbit about this movie is that Clint Eastwood retired from acting after his successful film Gran Torino.  Yet something about this one caused him to return to starring roles.  Maybe because he had never been in a baseball movie?  Hopefully we’ll be surprised and this one will compare to past baseball movies that gave a little tug to the emotions, like Field of Dreams and The Natural, and even Moneyball. 

Here is the trailer for the film:

Trouble with the Curve hits theaters September 21, 2012.

C.J. Bunce
Editor
borg.com

Review by C.J. Bunce

A&E’s Coma is coming soon to a TV near you.  The two-night mini-series updates both the original Robin Cook novel and the Michael Crichton adaptation to film from 1978 with the realities of modern medical technology and a new story.  Considering the movie Coma didn’t do all that well (it had to duke it out for moviegoers’ attention against the likes of Superman, Grease, Halloween, Animal House, Every Which Way but Loose, Foul Play and Invasion of the Body Snatchers), it’s a curiosity for a remake in 2012.  Not so much science fiction as medical procedural drama with a horror twist, it also is not a suspense/thriller so much as a steadily plotted mystery where the story is revealed throughout the two episodes instead of waiting for a big gotcha at the end.

Coma will also go down as one of the last productions of the late Tony Scott, who served as executive producer with brother Ridley Scott.

The mini-series follows a medical student who, on her first day interning at a hospital, uncovers information that could unravel the secret behind the coma patient care facility called the Jefferson Institute.  A&E pulled out all the stops on its Coma Conspiracy campaign.  See our coverage earlier this month here.  The marketing campaign also included mock footage of a clandestine group of individuals who learn the truth about Jefferson.  Unfortunately these marketing bits don’t make it into the actual series, and the producers missed an opportunity to take the folks trying to uncover the conspiracy through their own media and factoring it into the story.

If you have seen the original movie or read the novel, you may find yourself waiting for certain things to happen to certain characters that never quite transpire.  Erase all preconceptions and you will find this to be a fun TV adaptation, and whereas I don’t think it matches the blood pumping scares of the 1978 movie, you’ll find something here that makes the show well worth adding to your DVR list.  And you may be surprised at the level of consideration given to real-world subjects, medical care in particular.  Be prepared for the writers to touch on ethical and moral considerations of topics from the use of stem cells for researching new diseases, to problems with organ donation processes, to human research, to the challenges of overpopulation and an aging society that lives longer than its predecessors.  But it’s not all about that—it will get you into full-on horror mode by show’s end, including the inclusion of some special effects gore you won’t find in a typical A&E mini-series of years past.  Its special effects do offer some sci-fi influences, but the most impactful scenes include a montage where families of coma patients meet with their loved ones at the Jefferson facility.  Some of the series is sure to give you the willies, the wiggins, the creeps, or even the heebie-jeebies.

The best feature can be found in the young cast members, along with a few noteworthy performances by long-time character actors.  I found I liked James Woods’ performance above all the others from the older set.  What the writers did with his character, Dr. Howard Stark, was an interesting twist on Richard Widmark’s similar character in the original movie.  Richard Dreyfuss turns in a believable stock performance as a near-retirement medical school professor.  Ellen Bursytn turns in a very different take on Jefferson Institute administrator Mrs. Emerson, compared to the uber-creepy Elizabeth Ashley in the original movie role.  Yet Burstyn’s character is still as vile as she needs to be, just in a Great Expectations’ Miss Havisham kind of way.  A smaller role, a smart cop named Detective Jackson played by Michael Pniewski, really brought some gravitas to the last part of the series.  Geena Davis’s Dr. Lindquist doesn’t quite work, however.  She’s a researcher who has a strange predilection for medical interns and her storyline could have been handily cut from the series.

As for the younger acting crowd, Michael Weston (House, M.D.) continues to impress, here as a psychotic sociopath under the care of Dr. Lindquist.  Joseph Mazello, who played the young boy in Jurassic Park, is all grown up and shows he made it past the kid actor phase and could easily start taking on leading male roles.  But the really solid performance comes from Steven Pasquale (Rescue Me) as Dr. Mark Bellows, who one could see carrying an ongoing series based on this mini-series.  The star of Coma is Lauren Ambrose, who has been steadily building her career with good roles in Law and Order, Torchwood, and Six Feet Under.  Unfortunately she is stuck here in a typical “horror female” lead role, which sometimes means stepping into situations your average medical student would likely avoid in real life.  Still, she performs the role of medical student intern well and is as good as Bujold in the original.

At times I thought the series should be longer, maybe divided over more than two episodes like a typical mini-series–I’d think the creators could have edited together maybe three or four episodes here.  Then again that could result from simply watching the screening copy without commercial breaks.  Either way, I would have no problem sticking with these characters and situations were it to become a full-blown ongoing series.

Coma, A&E’s two-night television event, premieres Monday, September 3, 2012, at 9pm ET/PT and concludes Tuesday, September 4, at 9pm ET/PT.

I watched two movie trailers this week for films coming out in 2013 and they prompted me to have several discussions with friends about Arnold Schwarzenegger and Sylvester Stallone.

Some things you might not know that I learned this week:

Stallone was born in July 1946.  Arnold in July 1947.  That makes Stallone 66 years old and Arnold 65 years old.

Both of these guys are mega-action stars.  OK, you knew that.  At age 20 Arnold won the Mr. Universe competition.  He went on to win Mr. Olympia seven times.  Not an award winning bodybuilder, Stallone is no slouch, claiming to have reached a personal best of a 2.8% body fat percentage to film Rocky III.

Both of these guys have relied on their muscles in their action roles for years, making them literally seem bigger than life.

 

So I watched the preview for The Last Stand this week.  Check out the preview I posted earlier here.  If you missed it, check it out and come right back.  Arnold is playing a tough guy.  An older tough guy who seems like he is in his sixties.  So then I saw this trailer for Bullet to the Head.  Now check this out:

The movie seems pretty standard action fare for Stallone, similar to something like Tango and Cash from 1989 when Stallone was 43.  The thing is, Stallone looks like he’s in his late forties.  Maybe fifties.  But his late sixties?  Is this really Stallone?  He looks almost as good as he did in Tango and Cash.

Maybe Arnold is just playing old in The Last Stand.  After all it is about “acting” isn’t it?  Yet I can’t help wonder if the governor gig didn’t allow him to keep in shape so much and maybe lose pace with his long-time blockbuster competitor, Mr. Stallone.  Stallone is in better shape than everyone I know in their forties, so a big “bravo” to him for keeping so fit.

OK, so enough about comparing Stallone and Arnold.  This trailer doesn’t look too bad, but probably something I would wait for Netflix for.  One odd thing is the bullet coming from the movie screen at the audience.  Seems like something they might have adjusted in light of recent events.  The biggest redeeming quality of the trailer?  For me, seeing Sarah Shahi at last coming to the big screen.  Shahi gets some real face time in this trailer as the daughter of Stallone’s character.  Heck they even have coordinating tattoos.  As Shahi’s first foray into a big movie role, this role will hopefully do great things for her career.  She has been stellar in both the TV series Life, as a cop, and Fairly Legal, as a lawyer.

Bullet to the Head hits theaters February 1, 2013.  That’s 2 weeks after The Last Stand premieres.  So we will get to see which movie audiences want to see, and it will be fun seeing these two stars go head to head once again.

C.J. Bunce
Editor
borg.com

First up, John Barrowman, who you may know as the suave Captain Jack Harkness from Doctor Who and Torchwood, has signed on to play a yet-to-be-revealed character in the opening season of CW Network’s Fall TV series Arrow, centered on the classic DC Comics character, Green Arrow.  We previewed the pilot episode here last month, and it looks to be a great series, full of action and energy, with ample nods to Green Arrow’s established canon.

It seems impossible, but wouldn’t he make a perfect Hal Jordan, aka Green Lantern?

I wouldn’t get my hopes up.

The show’s creators have only released that Barrowman will play a “well-dressed man” (huh?) “as mysterious as he is wealthy” and that he is an “acquaintance of the Queen family and a prominent figure in Starling City.”

  

And now the CW announced that they are adding another familiar DC Comics character to the series in a multiple-episode story arc:  Enter:  Helena Bertinelli, The Huntress.  Part of the classic DC series and trio Birds of Prey (along with Barbara Gordon/Oracle and Dinah Lance/Black Canary), which had its own short-lived TV series, Australian actress Jessica De Gouw will play Helena Bertinelli, a “potential love interest for Oliver Queen; a fellow vigilante, set on destroying her father’s organized crime empire. But Helena’s blind pursuit of revenge will put her on a collision course with the Arrow.”  Perhaps Barrowman will play her father?

Jessica De Gouw to be the new Huntress

Adding the Huntress opens the possibility of including Batman at some point, because of their long connection, but I’m also not getting my hopes up about that.  Because of the Birds of Prey connection, the Huntress is a natural fit for fleshing out Dinah Laurel Lance’s storyline, allowing her to operate separately from Oliver Queen if the writers want to go in that direction. And how about making her look like Cat Skaggs’s drawing of Huntress in her classic costume shown above?

So we now have Green Arrow, Black Canary (who the creators seemed to indicate would get her fish-net clad supersuit in the first season in their Comic-Con panel interview), the villain and now the Huntress. CW’s Smallville had its own established set of DC characters, so what better place to experiment with a Justice League story than this new series?  If I was writing it, I know I would try to free up as many JLA characters as possible to share a vision of the JLA long overdue, and finally respond to the pleas of DC Comics fans around the world wanting something to match Joss Whedon’s hit 2012 movie, The Avengers.  Unlike Smallville, the pilot revealed that this new series will be a superhero show, not just another CW soap opera.  Moreover, we have established genre character actors in key roles lending some credibility to the series with former Star Trek Voyager Borg Queen Susanna Thompson as Moira Queen and The Dresden File’s Paul Blackthorne as Detective Quentin Lance.

Arrow premieres on the CW Network Wednesday, October 10, 2012.

C.J. Bunce
Editor
borg.com

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