Category: Fantasy


Browning in Sucker Punch

Zack Snyder.  He’s the director of the acclaimed movie adaptation of comic books 300 and Watchmen.  With those two movies he showed through his own unique style–adhering to Frank Miller’s panel work for 300, amplifying Dave Gibbon’s powerful images in his Watchmen–that he knows how to make comic book movies.  So how could he have fallen so flat with Man of Steel (reviewed previously here at borg.com)?  Snyder makes big movies but you can’t depend on his name to know what you’re going to get when you plop down the price of a ticket.  When you hear about a movie advertised as Sucker Punch was, it’s easy to skip over it especially because he both wrote and directed the movie.  Released in 2011, Sucker Punch is now available On Demand.  Is it worth checking out?

Sucker Punch was only marketed as a movie featuring ass-kicking female characters in video game situations.  Yet the story is grounded in some serious issues.  It follows two tracks: first, a young woman only referred to as Baby Doll (played by Emily Browning) being abused by her step-father is sent to an “insane asylum,” and second, that woman enters into a fantasy world to survive and avoid being lobotomized by the doctor on staff (played by Mad Men’s Jon Hamm).   If you give Snyder the benefit of the doubt, you can buy into the fantasy word elements.  Baby Doll’s fantasy world consists of the stuff of David Carradine’s Kung Fu series, first person video games, and even The Lord of the Rings.  Led by her own inner mentor, played superbly by Scott Glenn (Silverado, The Right Stuff, Backdraft), Baby Doll takes a team of four inmates–real-world accomplices–on Dungeons & Dragons type missions to capture key totems that Glenn’s character advises will help her break out of the asylum in the real world.  In one scene they pilot a World War II B-25 plane, in another they attempt to slay a dragon, and another they are battling robot drones.  And it all is woven with classic rock and pop songs.

A powerhouse performance can be found with Jena Malone (Donnie Darko, Into the Wild) as Rocket, the most complex of the inmates, as well as Abbie Cornish (RoboCop), who plays her sister and fellow inmate Sweet Pea.  These two characters pretty much equal the military badass male action scenes of films like Alien and Predator.  If Snyder had stuck to making a purely fantasy movie, he would have knocked this one out of the park with these actresses and his supernatural world.  But his major miss is the real world depicted in Sucker Punch.

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Funko is on its way to becoming one of the giant toy companies.  Did Ideal, Hasbro, Kenner, and Mattel start like this?  Just look at not only all of its licensed films and television series, but at the breadth of the types of figures it offers.  We’ve discussed at length the Funko ReAction line, but their most popular line is the Funko Pop! series of large, squat bobblehead figures, and Funko also produces a Fabrikations line, Mystery Minis, and a high-quality sculpted Legacy action figure line.  Now there is another Funko line of figures–the Vinyl Idolz–with some interesting licensed films represented.

Just as Jaws is a blockbuster genre classic, so is Young Frankenstein for fans of comedies, listed as #13 on the American Film institute’s roster of the funniest American movies.  The Nightmare Before Christmas-inspired sculpt style for Vinyl Idolz is a good fit for Young Frankenstein.  But there’s more–a Shaun of the Dead line is also simply brilliant.  Also look for the strangest combination of shows in a toy line we’ve ever seen: Back to the Future, Fast Times at Ridgemont High, the original Ghostbusters trio, The Walking Dead, Dodgeball, Napoleon Dynamite, the 1960s Batman TV series, Say Anything, Hot Fuzz, and even the strange, non-lead regulars of Seinfeld.

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After the break, check out images of several of the new figures.  Click on each to learn more and order or pre-order them at online superstore Entertainment Earth.

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Finn lightsaber

When it comes to Star Wars, the red carpet rolls out.  For Star Wars: The Force Awakens, that means every IMAX theater in the country–including those tied to museums, will pull their other films to make room for the next episode.  So for at least four weeks beginning December 18, 2015, Star Wars have all the North American IMAX screens and most of the foreign screens all to itself, about 400 U.S. and 400 other screens worldwide.  Only The Hobbit trilogy films had a similar exclusivity arrangement.

Abrams has said one sequence was filmed with IMAX cameras, so don’t expect Episode VII to be entirely in full IMAX mode.  Luckily, if you’re among the three people out there who aren’t Star Wars fans, the IMAX exclusive shouldn’t impact other genre films of the season–SPECTRE, the next James Bond flick, will likely have completed its run in theaters by then.

New SW teaser with Daisy - Rey and BB-8

We also have a quick clip that was released via Instagram today showing a surprising image–John Bodega’s Finn, revealed in earlier trailers as a Stormtrooper who wrecks his TIE Fighter, is wielding a lightsaber in the same dark and blue lit location as Adam Driver’s Darth Vader-inspired Kylo Renn–the villain with the unique hilted-blade saber.

Don’t blink–or you may miss this brief clip, also featuring a new shot of Daisy Ridley’s Rey and the nifty new non-CGI droid BB-8.  Here’s the clip:

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For the first time, Warner Bros. is bringing extended cuts of The Hobbit Trilogy to the big screen.  Partnering with Fathom Events, The Hobbit Trilogy returns to select theaters nationwide for an exclusive series of three in-theater events including The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey Extended Edition on October 5, 2015; The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug Extended Edition on October 7, 2015; and the world premiere of The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies Extended Edition on October 13, 2015–including never before seen footage.

Academy Award-winning filmmaker Peter Jackson has prepared a new introduction to the trilogy for this event.  Nominated for 7 Academy Awards, The Hobbit Trilogy is the ultimate fantasy series and follow-on to Jackson’s Academy Award winning The Lord of the Rings series.

The Hobbit Trilogy Event Dates:

The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey – Monday, October 5
The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug – Wednesday, October 7
The Hobbit: The Battle of Five Armies – Tuesday, October 13

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The cable network Starz has released a second trailer for the TV series sequel to the classic Evil Dead films, Ash vs. Evil Dead.  If you missed the first trailer, check it out when we previewed the show first here at borg.com.  Whether or not you’ve seen the originals, we see two big reasons to give the show a try.

First, how can you not love Bruce Campbell?  As Ash Williams, he is one of our favorite members of the Borg Hall of Fame.  Although it was Evil Dead that made him known worldwide, we loved him back in his Hercules, The Legendary Journeys and Xena: Warrior Princess days as the Errol Flynn inspired Autolycus.  He reprised his role as Ash in Army of Darkness, but also popped up all over the place in shows from Knots Landing (what?) to The X-Files, from Homicide: Life on the Street to Lois and Clark and Charmed, and from Psych to The Librarians.  His two series with Campbell in the lead, The Adventures of Brisco County Jr. and Jack of All Trades are the stuff of cult classic legend.  And his pop culture status has only grown through roles in Darkman, Congo, The Hudsucker Proxy, Escape from L.A., McHale’s Navy, The Majestic, Spider-man, and Sky High.   And his best TV is undoubtedly Sam Axe on Burn Notice.

Second, Lucy Lawless back in a show with Bruce Campbell?  That’s just… neat.

Here is Bruce Campbell in the second trailer for humor-filled gore-fest that is Ash vs Evil Dead:

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TIE fighter

If you remember the 1970s, you may remember the first time you saw the catalog for Star Wars toys–an insert in any and all Star Wars vehicles, playsets, and large-sized action figures.  Hasbro has published the complete, first catalog for Episode VII of Star Wars, and as we expected from the preview we discussed last week here at borg.com, plenty of dollars will be spent at midnight, September 4, 2015–“Force Friday”–as the new line of toys spreads across the country.  As much as for its groundbreaking space fantasy films, Star Wars is known for its landmark toy and collectible merchandising.  Look before Star Wars and nothing compares.

Below, we reprint the new catalog so you can start making your want list.  But first, do you remember the first Star Wars catalogs?  Just compare what was offered for Star Wars and The Empire Strikes Back fans to what will be available to the latest generation of Star Wars moviegoers.  Not much has changed, has it?

You’ll find 3 3/4-inch action figures, even the first of the 12-inch line of figures, vehicles, lightsabers (although the new line could merit its own catalog), and then those… other items you can’t quite explain.  Like Star Wars plastic model kit vans from the past, or now… is that a Chewbacca Furby?

Here are both the catalogs from Star Wars: Episode IV, A New Hope, Episode V, The Empire Strikes Back, and the latest–the catalog for Episode VII, The Force Awakens:

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LOTR Astin 1

So what is the point of cosplay anyway?  For some it’s costume contests, for others it’s the challenge of creating the closest look possible to the real thing, for others it’s making a new mash-up or creation no one has thought of.  For others, it’s getting garb together to meet up with the actors or creators that made the character famous in the first place.  Whatever your motivation, you know you put it all together just right when the result is all-out fun for you and everyone you encounter, whether you’re attending a local or large convention or visiting your local Renaissance Faire or other gathering.

This year at the Kansas City Comic Con, with the announcement of The Lord of the Rings’ own Samwise, actor Sean Astin as guest, it meant it was time to bring Middle-earth to Kansas City.  It’s a surprising rarity at pop culture and comic book conventions–fantasy characters.  Sure, you see plenty of superheroes, sci-fi movie and animated characters, but fantasy, via films, TV, or books, seems to just be gaining steam.

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Your fearless editor brought out the Radagast and Gimli fatigues (see here and here for some photos) and joined up with Mimosa Bunce aka Rosie aka borg.com writer and author Elizabeth C. Bunce and her newly minted Hobbit feet and garb, and we met up with the Springfield Fellowship of The Lord of the Rings for some fun.  Astin called the Middle-earth contingent together at day’s end and Elizabeth broke away from Artists Alley to join the Fellowship for a fun photo shoot thanks to Froggy’s Photos.

Want to know what in-depth preparation, research, knowledge and sewing skills go into the creation of garb for cosplay?

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Struzan returns for Force Awakens poster

Finally, with only four months to the premiere, Lucasfilm and Disney released their first official movie poster yesterday for Star Wars Episode VII.  Shown above, it was painted by Drew Struzan, well-known for many film posters of the past, including his series of posters from Episodes I-VI.  Having a poster by Struzan was on the checklist of required elements fans expected to see this year, along with a soundtrack by composer John Williams, the Force, and at least one character saying “I’ve got a bad feeling about this.”  Check out our review of a recent book about Struzan here and documentary here at borg.com.

Also revealed yesterday was a cast photo of the main characters of the coming Star Wars spinoff movie, Rogue One.  Other than a guy with a Han Solo parka, there’s not much really screaming Star Wars about the photo.  In fact, it could be from a Firefly spinoff or something from any sci-fi franchise or even something from the Suicide Squad.

The stars of Star Wars: Rogue One are Riz Ahmed (Nightcrawler), Diego Luna (Elysium, Milk), Felicity Jones (The Theory of Everything), Jiang Wen and Donnie Yen (Blade II).  Rogue One has begun principal photography.  Gareth Edwards (Godzilla, Monsters) is directing the story of resistance fighters who have united to steal plans to the dreaded Death Star.  The film is produced by Kathleen Kennedy.  Wait–Death Star?  Which Death Star?

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Tarking audiobook

Last year here at borg.com we reviewed the new canon Star Wars novels A New Dawn by John Jackson Miller and Tarkin by James Luceno.  Check out our review of A New Dawn here and Tarkin here.  Both of these are recommended reads for fans of Star Wars and those interested in the new universe of the Disney era Star Wars.  In particular fans of Star Wars Rebels, the animated series, won’t want to miss these adventures from the characters in the series.

You can now get either of these books as free audiobook downloads at Audible.com.  Audible is offering a free trial membership.

Here is a summary of the terms:

  • First book free with 30-day trial
  • $14.95/month thereafter for your choice of 1 new book each month
  • Cancel easily anytime
  • Exchange books you don’t like
  • All selected books are yours to keep, even if you cancel

New Dawn Audiobook

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Star Wars Episode VII action figures A eBay

When Star Wars: The Phantom Menace premiered sixteen years ago in 1999, action figure collectors had gone a decade without any new 3 ¾-inch action figures from the Star Wars franchise toy line.  Hasbro released updates to the original trilogy beginning in 1995 as Lucasfilm rejuvenated the toy line.  At midnight on May 3, 1999, the day of the release of the new trilogy action figures and ten days before the film’s release, Toys ‘R’ Us stores saw waiting lines similar to what we would see for the first week the movie screened in theaters.

Official May 1999 SW cert

The general public had no “first look” at the new line other than a sneak preview figure of Samuel L. Jackson’s Mace Windu, so fans had to decide quickly upon inspecting the new figures whether they were going to jump in with both feet or ignore the line altogether.  Instantly appealing figures and characters included Qui-Gonn Jinn and Darth Maul.  Wave 1 included eight figures: Anakin in Tatooine outfit, Battle Droid, Darth Maul, Jar Jar Binks, Obi-Wan Kenobi, Padme Naberrie, Queen Amidala in Naboo outfit, and Qui-Gonn Jinn.  Each came with a Commtech chip (Commtalk in Europe) which produced sounds from the movie if placed on a separately purchased Commtech reader.  All card backs featured the face of Darth Maul.

Captain Phasma figure   Kylo Ren figure

September 4, 2016 is the scheduled release date for the first wave of action figures from Star Wars: The Force Awakens.  Somehow, the first wave of figures hit the streets this week and made it to eBay, and they reveal twelve new action figures for Hasbro’s now (again) Kenner-branded line.  Is one of these going to be the next Jar Jar Binks?

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