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Category: Fantasy


Scotty in kilt

That is, if you’re in Scotland.

Census records estimate that more than twice as many people of Scottish ancestry live in the United States than in Scotland.  Is it the destiny of Scotland to declare its independence from Great Britain?  If not now, then when?  At the beginning of the day everyone has been waiting for, polls show the likely outcome as a dead heat.  We’ll soon learn the answer we’ve all been asking:  Will they or won’t they?

Of course there are all sorts of implications to a yes vote, not the least of which is what kind of economic impact it will have on England, on the United States, and the world.  If Scotland wants to make a statement to the world this could very well be Scotland’s day.  So if you’re one of those Scots that are 16 years old or older and done voting or you’re in the States and can’t vote today, then what better than a brief celebration of all things Scottish?  As Mike Myers’ character Stuart Rankin, proprietor of the store “All Things Scottish,” said on Saturday Night Live, “If it’s not Scottish, it’s crap.”

Sean Connery

Scotland is well known for its inventors and their inventions.  You wouldn’t be reading this website or surfing the Internet at all without the communications technologies that sprouted from Alexander Graham Bell’s telephone.  John Logie Baird would invent the first television.  Scots invented the refrigerator and the flush toilet, the kaleidoscope and the lawnmower.  And–shazam–James Goodfellow invented ATMs so we can get money to buy stuff on nearly any street corner.

Our future is defined in part by the adventures of a Scot in space–James Doohan’s Commander Montgomery “Scotty” Scott from Star Trek, an engineering miracle worker who exemplifies Scottish ingenuity.  And of course, there’s James Bond, the character, whose parents were Scottish, and Sir Sean Connery, the Scottish actor, the most famous Bond, and a supporter of today’s “yes” vote.

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Ian McShane Teach Pirates Blackbeard

Review by C.J. Bunce

When Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales hits theaters in 2017, the tenth largest money making movie franchise will give fans its fourth sequel.  Usually the fifth film in a franchise is so far from the spirit of the original that it fails miserably.  But the last Pirates entry, Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides, was such a visually stunning production with–more importantly–an interesting story that it could be the Johnny Depp-led franchise may just be hitting its stride.  The first of the films released on Blu-ray 3D is a showcase for the home viewing technology, and is worth another look, especially if you only saw it in the theater on 3D or just the DVD version.

Still derived on the amusement park ride and the adventures of Captain Jack Sparrow, the role that earned Johnny Depp one of his best actor Academy Award nominations, On Stranger Tides kicks up the film’s action compared to the prior two films, Dead Man’s Chest and At World’s End.  In part because director Jerry Bruckheimer branched out and borrowed the film’s story from an award-winning novel by Tim Powers (1987’s On Stranger Tides), this new film is simply better all around.  Except for some scenes that could stand to be edited down, On Stranger Tides is nearly as good as the original Pirates of the Caribbean, The Curse of the Black Pearl. 

pirates-of-the-caribbean-on-stranger-tides

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Wilds End David Petersen cover

Review by C.J. Bunce

Wild’s End, a new comic book series from BOOM! Studios, is quite strange and enchanting—it reads like a Masterpiece Theater version of Winnie the Pooh.  Complete with talking animals, it’s also very British and old worldy.  At the same time this is no ordinary town at its core, more like the town of Haven of the Syfy Channel TV series based on the Steven King story “The Colorado Kid.”  And its inhabitants are as idiosyncratic as those troubled people of Haven.

But Wild’s End is more than that.  Think Alice’s Wonderland of odd fellows versus an attack like you’d find in H.G. Wells’ War of the Worlds, as a downed ship is about to wreak havoc on a peaceful Hobbiton-like community.

Mr. Clive Slipaway, a stout two-legged, walking-talking Great Dane, is new to the town of Lower Crowchurch.  He’s clearly trying to find a quiet place to retire after years of military service or some kind of similar tough life experiences.  He’s a bit like John Wayne’s Quirt Evans from Angel and the Badman—a tough customer who wants to mind his own business until circumstances require him to take action to protect the lives of local innocents.

Wilds End issue 1

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Edward Hopper original sketch night scene

WELCOME TO EARTH-4

A Weekly Column with J. Torrey McClain

We’ve talked about horror movies before on borg.com, and in my discussion, a common theme of creepy girls and the supernatural emerged.  The thing is, these things aren’t scary on their own.  “Thor” isn’t scary. “Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants” isn’t scary.  What gives them the ability to scare me comes not as much from their intrinsic natures, but from the images that come from the masters of horror combined with my imagination.

My imagination is the key.  The supernatural have no rules and no limits.  They can do whatever you dream them to do.  Once you start down that road, then anything can trigger those pieces of the mind that start the skin crawling and the sweat to run cold.  The rustling of leaves outside my tent?  Probably the wind.  But, then maybe it’s a mouse.  Maybe it’s a snake.  Maybe it’s a softly moving wolf.  Maybe someone is in my camp.  Before I know it, an army of undead, animals, and adderall-crazed ankle biters have amassed on the other side of the thin sheets of nylon.

Those are two other keys to fear: removing senses and being alone.  If my tent was clear material and I could see the leaves drifting along the ground, my fear would be gone.  If I can hear the voices of friends still up around the campfire, I can feel safe.  If I have a friend telling me to go back to sleep after a late night trip behind a tree, I can rejoin his or her slumber.

Original sketch Edward Hopper Nighthawks

Arthur C. Clarke hits me perfectly again with the short story, “A Walk in the Dark” from the same collection as “The Wall of Darkness.”  The opening is innocuous.  The first paragraph introduces Robert Armstrong as a man who has walked two miles and his flashlight just went bad.  It give you those two pieces of information and depending on your imagination, it might be perfectly safe as you think of a two-mile round-trip hike.  Maybe you just finished trick-or-treating and you can use the streetlights on the rest of the way home.  Maybe your friend has a flashlight.

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New Neil Simon Buffy incentive cover   SMDMSeasonSix06Cov-Ross

It’s going to be another big comic book store Wednesday with plenty of new releases from the best in independent publishers.

The re-started Dark Horse Presents series features Issue #2 this week.  Chris Roberson and Paul Lee reveal an untold tale from Aliens featuring favorite character Hicks.   Fred Van Lente and Ryan Dunlavey provide a new Action Philosophers! story.  Plus, new chapters of Peter Hogan and Steve Parkhouse’s Resident Alien, Brendan McCarthy’s Dream Gang, Jimmy Palmiotti, Justin Gray and Andy Kuhn’s Wrestling with Demons, and Damon Gentry and Aaron Conley’s Sabertooth Swordsman.

Also from Dark Horse Comics, Buffy the Vampire Slayer Season 10, Issue #7, features a play on Neil Simon’s The Odd Couple featuring Xander and Spike.  It even has a great alternate cover that plays off like the classic ad for the movie with Jack Lemmon and Walter Mathau and TV series with Tony Randall and Jack Klugman.

DHP1   Mars Attacks Art Gallery cover

In case you missed it, we previously previewed Dark Horse’s Prometheus: Fire and Stone, Issue #1, here.

From Dynamite Comics, The Six Million Dollar Man Season Six is already up to Issue #6 this week.  And fans of Mars Attacks will want to see this new artists edition from IDW Publishing, Mars Attacks Art Gallery, here.

Check out the rest of the previews after the break:

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Hobbit Smaug Unleashing the Dragon cover

Review by C.J. Bunce

To learn what advancements are happening in technical moviemaking, you can always turn to Weta Workshop and Weta Digital.  For the latest in cutting edge film work, you need only turn to the latest book on The Hobbit film series from Weta, its step by step chronicle of the development of the greatest dragon in all of fantasy, Smaug: Unleashing the Dragon.  As a supplement of sorts to their grand Chronicles series detailing the creative story of The Hobbit, Smaug: Unleashing the Dragon is the first look at a single element of the franchise, peeling back the development of one character in all its tiny details and from all vantage points.

A smaller dimension book at 8×10 inches compared to the double size and thickness of the Chronicles series, this format is well suited for similar spin-off works–perhaps a single book on each race in Middle-earth one day?  But like its counterparts, Smaug: Unleashing the Dragon is dense in both text and photos.  Every designer, art director, sculptor, modeller, texture artist, and animator that provided new ideas and elements to arrive at the final creature offer commentary about their thought process and their collaboration with others.

Smaug Unleashing the Dragon excerpt

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i-frankenstein moving poster

Review by C.J. Bunce

I, Frankenstein is a fantasy-horror motion picture released earlier this year, based on a graphic novel by Kevin Grevioux.  Starring Aaron Eckhart (The Dark Knight), Bill Nighy (Underworld, Shawn of the Dead, State of Play), Yvonne Strahovski (Chuck), Miranda Otto (Lord of the Rings), and Jai Courtney (A Good Day to Die Hard, Jack Reacher), all signs pointed to the possibility that the film could be minimally watchable.  But retellings of classic monster stories are tough to get right.  In our ongoing pursuit at borg.com to identify the best of Blu-ray 3D home video we screened I, Frankenstein in Blu-ray 3D.  Despite having some pretty stellar 3D special effects, the film unfortunately can’t overcome its thin effort to retell the Frankenstein story.

With creators of Underworld behind the scenes, it’s no wonder this film has the look of that franchise.  It also shares the same dark vibe as the respectable and fun monster mash-up Van Helsing.  But its clunky twist on Frankenstein’s monster isn’t saved by the serious acting of lead Aaron Eckhart, or the quality bad guy villainy portrayed by Bill Nighy.

Adam Frankenstein

Good monster retellings?  Try Young Frankenstein (1974), Phantom of the Opera (2004), Van Helsing (2004), the American Werewolf series, Wolf (1994), Memoirs of an Invisible Man (1992), The Mummy (1999), and the short-lived Dracula (2013) TV series.  These all show how retellings of classic monster stories can be done right.

Nicely done action sequences and fiery explosions?  It’s got ‘em.  Beautifully-rendered, in-your-face 3D?  It’s got that, too.  And if you only want to watch special effects with the backdrop of a classic, then this may be something for one of those moments.

But I, Frankenstein is about a legion of gargoyles and their gargoyle queen (Miranda Otto) who are in a battle with demons under the control of a demon prince played by Nighy, posing as a modern-day biotech businessman.  Nighy’s character wants Dr. Frankenstein’s journal, to be able to resurrect soulless bodies for demons in hell to fill.  Otto’s character attempts to recruit Frankenstein (the monster has taken his creator’s name) to her cause, even giving him the rather silly name of Adam (which nobody else ever uses). Hundreds of years after their initial meeting, Frankenstein and the gargoyle queen reunite in the present day (still wearing the same costumes).

Huh? 

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forever18

Review by Elizabeth C. Bunce

Brace yourselves:  It’s another eccentric-male-expert-and-his-younger-female-law-enforcement-handler crime drama.  But this time there are a couple very big, very appealing twists.  Premiering September 23, 2014, ABC’s new supernatural drama Forever stars underused genre favorites Ioan Gruffudd (Horatio Hornblower, Fantastic Four, Ringer) and Alana De La Garza (Law & Order).  You’ve probably seen the previews and already know the premise: Ioan Gruffudd’s Henry Morgan, a New York City medical examiner, cannot die.  Or, rather, he keeps dying–but mysteriously returns to life, almost just at the moment of his departure.  It is the mysteries of that process–inexplicable even to Morgan, even after some 200 years–that the series will explore.  But it’s the powerhouse casting, rich writing, and excellent chemistry that set Forever apart from your run-of-the-mill immortal medical examiner and smart tough female cop drama.

Watching Ioan Gruffudd since Horatio Hornblower in the 1990s, you always got the feeling he was searching for that next perfect role.  He may have finally found it.  His somewhat formal, very British (the actor is originally from Wales) air has landed him brief roles as the stilted, brilliant, rich guy (Fantastic Four, Ringer, a recent guest spot as a billionaire on Castle)–but it’s all of those factors that make him perfect as the literally immortal physician.  Gruffudd really does seem like he stepped out of the past, smart enough to have lived and learned for 200 years, but never quite shaking his original 1800s mien.  A self-proclaimed expert on death (his own, and everyone else’s), Morgan is doomed to suffer the familiar pang of every immortal: watching everyone else grow old and die.

forever11

With obvious nods to BBC/Masterpiece Mystery megahit Sherlock (Gruffudd even ties his scarf in Benedict Cumberbatch’s signature knot), it’s clear what audience Forever is trying to reach.  And yet Morgan is infinitely more charming than Sherlock Holmes ever was, even as he instantly micro-analyzes your life the moment he meets you.  What comes off as egregiously, appallingly pompous from Holmes, is a winsome parlor trick in Morgan’s hands–and that charm and affability make him immediately sympathetic, because you understand that all the charm in the world can’t protect him from eventually losing anyone he cares about.

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The Fall of GI Joe 1 cover   The Fall of GI Joe 1 cover b

Is there something not quite right about a new G.I. Joe series that features a Joe team finally headed up by Scarlett, that is also titled “The Fall of G.I. Joe”?  We’re guessing the juxtaposition of these two elements wasn’t intended to be some kind of causal thing.  Instead we’re focused on plenty of cool covers released by IDW Publishing for the series, which is expected to ship its first issue in September.

G.I. Joe: The Fall of G.I. Joe will be written by Karen Traviss with interior art by Steve Kurth.  Several covers will be available, from artists including Cliff Chiang and Jeffery Veregge.

Check out these covers from the new monthly.  The cover style from Veregge makes us wish Phil Noto or Kevin Dart was also working on this series, and maybe provide some variant covers.  Still, they do look like something we might have seen back in 1972 on the box covers for large-sized G.I. Joe action figures.

IDW Fall of GI Joe alt cover   New GI Joe

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Fall TV banner

Don’t you just love it when a plan comes together?

What’s better than when all the new TV series line up just right?  This coming Fall the networks have at least one great genre series every day of the week returning, including several new supernatural crime dramas: the CW’s Flash, ABC’s Forever, BBC America’s Intruders, Fox’s Gotham, and NBC’s Constantine.  Well, the networks have at least one genre show per day except Thursdays, so it’s not exactly “just right.”  But we could use a day off from TV anyway.  And isn’t that what DVRs are for?   Strangely enough, nearly all of these series have a supernatural crime element of some sort, with plenty of superheroes and time travel, too.  Interesting.

Below we have the best of the Fall line-up with trailers for all but NBC’s Grimm. 

Haven, Season 5 and its 26 brand new episodes begin Sunday, September 11, 2014, on the Syfy Channel.  Here is a preview of the new season:

Sleepy Hollow, Season Two, begins Monday, September 22, 2014, on Fox, following the new Gotham series.  Here’s a trailer for the new season of Sleepy Hollow:

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