Category: Movies


Star Wars new banner

Just go ahead and take all our money, Lucasfilm.

Force Friday has begun–the official launch of literally hundreds of toys and collectibles from Star Wars: The Force Awakens, which does not open until December 18, 2015.  But if you know the Star Wars brand, you know it is probably what Star Wars will be known for decades from now:  a powerhouse of making money off its films and characters.

If you were asleep at midnight this morning, you can still get everything you missed online now.  You’ll find your best deals for more than 200 new toys available at Entertainment Earth starting today at this link.

Want to find more great deals on anything and everything from Episode VII?  Check out this link here to all the Star Wars: The Force Awakens products at Amazon.com.

Target kicked off Force Friday with midnight openings in 207 stores nationwide and will continue into Saturday, September 5 with photo ops, giveaways and toy demos.

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The coolest offering?  Probably the remote control BB-8 sphere droid by Sphero–that little roly-poly fella sneaking around in the theatrical previews that was based on an idea from George Lucas’s original sketches for the first movie.  Check out the YouTube video of it in action below.  It’s in the $150 range.  Don’t confuse this with the version from Hasbro that is a target exclusive for half the price–still a fun toy but without all the bess and whistles.

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By C.J. Bunce

One hundred and thirteen years ago this month, film audiences saw a bright future for the very first time.

The science fiction film was the French classic Le Voyage dans la lune, or A Trip the the Moon, created by science fiction special effects and animation pioneer George Méliès, who modern film audiences may know as one of the heroes of Martin Scorcese’s Academy Award-nominated film Hugo.  The famous scene in A Trip to the Moon where the rocketship blasts into the Man in the Moon’s eye is a classic bit of film nostalgia, the full 14-minute film based on two classic works: Jules Verne’s From the Earth to the Moon, and H.G. Wells’s The First Men in the Moon.  You can’t have a better science fiction pedigree than A Trip to the Moon.  But the first science fiction film available in color?

The Victorian era meets the future in this scene from the 1902 color film A Trip to the Moon

Film enthusiasts for literally a century were aware that A Trip to the Moon was originally released in theaters not in the typical black and white that monopolized film into the 1960s, but in color.  But how could that be?  The story was a secret treasure of sorts, that stayed hidden until 1993, when a film collector revealed the sole remaining color copy of the 1902 film in Barcelona.  The 13,375 frames of decomposed material was practically worthless until film preservationist Serge Bromberg found a way to catch the photographed images when the material was deposited with a special chemical vapor.  Every day for two years his staff worked through each frame, and in 2010 digital technology had come so far as to allow the preservationists to re-build the film at Technicolor’s laboratories in Los Angeles, using a $500,000 grant from French film foundations.  The result was revealed to audiences at the Cannes Film Festival three years ago.

Film pioneer Georges Méliès mixed stunning color animation and special effects in this view of the future of travel in A Trip to the Moon

But before the film was revealed, a matter of sound arose.  The original film was created before the concept of the talkie, or even the playing of music to accompany the film.  No score had ever been created for A Trip to the Moon.  The same foundations that had financed the restoration selected the French band Air to compose a 16-minute soundtrack for the film.  Because the homegrown film was considered by the French to be so revered as a national treasure, musicians Nicolas Godin and Jean-Benoit Dunckel were themselves elevated to celebrity status.  After completion of the soundtrack, Air began composing a full musical score expanding on the themes they created for the film.  Their sound is both futuristic and modern, and has been compared to their influences: Pink Floyd, spaghetti Western composer Ennio Morricone, and the bands Vangelis and Tangerine Dream.

But where does the 3D fit in?

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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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Black Mass poster

Just last week we discussed here at borg.com the 2015 return of mob stories to the big and small screen, previewing the British movie Legend starring Tom Hardy and the new TNT series Public Morals with an all-star cast of supporting roles.  Now Johnny Depp is returning to the mob/gangster genre after his superb showing in 1997’s Donnie Brasco opposite Al Pacino and Bruno Kirby, and his 2009 role as John Dillinger in Michael Mann’s Public Enemies. 

This time Depp will again play a real-life mob boss, James “Whitey” Bulger, the Boston crime lord who became an FBI informant to take down a mob family trying to invade his territory.  Black Mass also features notable actors Benedict Cumberbatch (Sherlock, The Hobbit, Star Trek Into Darkness) as Whitey’s state senator brother Bill Bulger, Joel Edgerton (the Star Wars prequels), Kevin Bacon (Apollo 13, R.I.P.D., X-Men: First Class, A Few Good Men), Peter Sarsgaard (Green Lantern, Orphan, The Skeleton Key), Dakota Johnson (21 Jump Street, Fifty Shades of Grey), and Corey Stoll (Ant-Man, Law and Order: LA).

Check out the trailer for Black Mass:

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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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Public Morals gangsters

Timothy Hutton.  Brian Dennehy.  Christopher Eccleston.  Paul Bettany.  Neal McDonough.  Tom Hardy.  David Thewlis.  Tara Fitzgerald.  Robert Knepper.  Chazz Palminteri. 

That’s a pretty impressive roster of actors taking to mobster stories this year, in only two productions.  One a television series, the other a big screen release.  What draws us to gangster stories anyway?  Even before the film classics The Godfather and The Godfather Part II, Hollywood was pumping out–and audiences were devouring–movies about gangsters back to black and white pictures starring screen legends like James Cagney and Humphrey Bogart.  More recent, modern classics like Goodfellas and Donnie Brasco have defined what we all look for in a mob story.  Coming 2015 releases continue to look at this popular sub-genre.

Tim Hutton Public Morals

First up is Public Morals, an in-your-face, no-holds-barred series showing all the ugliness of a 1960s New York City, and a police division with corrupt a corrupt force led by show creator and star Edward Burns.  Public Morals is TNT’s latest effort to produce a show to compete with the sex and violence you’d find on HBO or Showtime.

You’ll find top-notch genre actors Hutton, Dennehy, McDonough, and Knepper on this series.

Tom Hardy Legend poster

Next up is a British movie, Legend, which tells the true story of twin brother mobsters Reggie and Ronald Kray, played by The Dark Knight Rises and Mad Max: Fury Road’s Tom Hardy.

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