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Category: Movies


Kermit in A Muppet Christmas Carol

By Elizabeth C. Bunce

Audiences have loved Charles Dickens’s yuletide ghost story, A Christmas Carol, for 171 years, and it’s been committed to film at least 50 times.  It’s hard to dispute the status of 1951’s Scrooge starring Alastair Sim, or surpass Patrick Stewart’s masterly performance as the cruel miser in the 1999 television adaptation.   But for annual, feel-good holiday fun, our money is on The Muppet Christmas Carol.

Released in 1992 and representing the first of several retellings produced by the zany puppets & crew, The Muppet Christmas Carol also boasts a strong human cast.  Most notable, of course, is Michael Caine (Batman Begins, Get Carter) as Ebenezer Scrooge, in a turn that is just the right balance of humbug and humor.

Michael Caine as Ebenezer Scrooge

The Muppet version brings all the elements you expect from A Christmas Carol, from dead-as-a-doornail business partner Marley, to Tiny Tim asking God to bless us, everyone… but with wonderful Muppet twists.  All your favorite Muppets are here, as well, in their expected roles: Kermit the Frog as put-upon clerk Bob Cratchitt (with nephew Robin in the roll of Tim); Miss Piggy as Mrs. Cratchitt, naturally; and even 1990’s standard duo Gonzo and Rizzo, taking a meta-fiction approach as tour-guide-to-the-tale Charles Dickens and a skeptical sidekick.

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Review by Art Schmidt

Peter Jackson’s final installment of his screen adaptation of J.R.R. Tolkien’s classic novel The Hobbit is a breathtaking piece of film which aspires to the almost insurmountable heights that his masterpiece The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King achieved.  The goal is a worthy, if almost unrealistic one, and Jackson spares no expense in trying to soar to those heights where he took us ten years ago.

I’m of two minds about this movie, and have been struggling to combine them into a single piece for you, our faithful readers.  But like Jackson with this trilogy, I am not quite up to the task.  And so, like Jackson, I will split something that should be in a single piece into multiple pieces, and although I am aware that they will likely not equal the sum of what a whole, single review should, I will try nonetheless because I have too much to say on the subject and am utterly unable to edit myself.  Much like a certain director we all know and admire.

Review by a fan of fantasy cinema

The Battle of the Five Armies is a really good film.  Is it great?  Well, that will be up to each viewer, honestly.  It is big and bold, and gives good screen time to the multitude of characters we have come to know over the course of the last two films in the trilogy.  The movie opens where the previous film left off, a different approach from other films in both The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings trilogies, which tended to open with flashbacks or clever recaps to bring the viewer back into the world of Middle-earth which may have faded slightly since the previous film.  Not so here, as the audience is plunged directly into the story right where we exited it last year.

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The dragon Smaug, scary and crazy in the second Hobbit film which bears his name, is magnificently rendered and feels vibrantly alive in the dark theater, the screen aglow with dragonfire and the air electric with his howls of rage and vengeance.  Benedict Cumberbatch captures the right amount of menace and vanity, bringing the drake alive in ways that superb CGI just could not do on its own.  The poor people of Laketown would surely stand in awe of Jackson’s creation if they were not fleeing for their very lives before it.

Martin Freeman knows how to play the everyman, which is essentially what Bilbo Baggins represents.  An everyday man who is snatched up from his comfortable if boring life and thrown headlong into the exciting, unpredictable and oft-times dangerous unknown.  His subtlety and good humor shine through his portrayal of the Hobbit and it is to Freeman’s credit that he can simultaneously stand up to the chiefest and greatest of calamities and also stand up for himself to Thorin, pointing out the sickness that everyone else can see but dare not mention.  The dwarves are also a humorous, entertaining lot, but far too much time would be required to provide the multitude of them a lot of individuality or backstory.  The few who are selected for the spotlight are well worth the time.  Lee Pace, Richard Armitage and Luke Evans play three leaders of different races whose loyalties lie to their people but with widely different styles and personalities.  As with the previous films, Cate Blanchett as Galadriel, Hugo Weaving as Elrond and even Christopher Lee as Saruman himself all put in appearances, though not in a way most might expect!

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Jaws movie poster A   Dark Crystal movie poster

Funko Toys CEO Brian Mariotti has been revealing some new toy lines coming from Funko in 2015 as part of his 12 Days of Christmas blog posts at the company’s website.  The biggest news is after four decades someone is finally making a series of action figures for Jaws.  So look for Brody, Hooper and Quint arriving just in time for the 40th anniversary of the film.

An equally big surprise is his news of two new Star Trek action figure toy lines, one for the original series and one for Star Trek: The Next Generation.  Mariotti did not mention whether designs for any of the figures had yet been developed, or their release dates.

Gremlins movie poster   Terminator 2 movie poster

Other series getting the 1970s retro-action figure treatment will be Terminator 2, The Dark Crystal, and Gremlins, along with modern shows Breaking Bad and Boondock Saints.  And Mariotti said he planned to release more TV shows and films slated for the ReAction line by Christmas.  We’re hoping those lines might include Planet of the Apes, The Last Starfighter, Die Hard, Alien Nation, Blade Runner, They Live, or Big Trouble in Little China.

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SWIsh 1 E Midtown Comics by Mark Brooks    SWIsh 1 P Comixposure by John Tyler Christopher

It hasn’t been released yet, and it is already the #1 best selling comic of 2015.  Forecasted with advance sale numbers at more than one million copies already, Marvel Comics is re-entering the world of Star Wars comics like it’s 1977 all over again.  Written by our friend Jason Aaron with artwork by John Cassaday and colorist Laura Martin, the story continues the adventures of Luke Skywalker after the end of the original Star Wars, Episode IV: A New Hope. 

Marvel Comics is pulling out all the stops with the variety of cover variants readers can choose from.  Most comic book stores will get one of a half dozen basic covers, but those who dig around on the Web will find plenty more available.  More than 30 basic full-color covers will be released in January 2015, plus black and white versions and sketch variants of many of those covers.  And that’s not all, several collectible comic book websites will be releasing signature editions signed by everyone up to Stan Lee, and sketch covers by several artists including Dynamite Comics’ Chris Caniano.  And you can get a logo-only cover to take to your next Con and commission an artist of your choice to sketch you a character.

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Alex Ross, John Cassaday, Mike Mayhew, Frank Cho, David Petersen, Jenny Frison, Stephanie Han, Amanda Connor, Alex Maleev… everyone but Dave Dorman seems to have been pulled into this project.  Click on each image to see the artist and whether the book is only available at a special store.  A few variant images have not yet been released.

SWIsh 1 Y Heroes Haven by Mike Perkins      SWIsh1 R Heroes and Fantasies Daniel Acuna

So check out even more great covers to Marvel’s Star Wars, Issue #1, after the break:

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Aston Martin DB10 - New Bondmobile

The same agency that taunted James Bond in five classic James Bond films (Thunderball, Dr. No, The Spy Who Loved Me, On Her Majesty’s Secret Service, and You Only Live Twice) will be the title of the next Bond film, SPECTRE, the 24th in the current franchise and 26th to feature Bond if you include David Niven’s Casino Royale and Never Say Never Again.  SPECTRE, which stands for SPecial Executive for Counter-intelligence, Terrorism, Revenge and Extortion,” is the movie incarnation of the less gritty sounding SMERSH, a Russian acronym for “Special Methods of Spy Detection” in the original Ian Fleming Bond novels.  Two-time Academy Award winner Christoph Waltz will star as the next Bond villain, named Oberhauser.  SPECTRE is also the agency led by fan favorite Bond villain Blofeld, which has led to speculation that Oberhauser is really an alias for Blofeld, like the much ballyhooed, almost-surprise villain Khan in the last Star Trek movie.

Although all Bond novel titles have been used for Bond films, unused titles for original Fleming authored Bond works include “The Hildebrand Rarity,” “Risico” or “The Double Take,” “007 in New York,” and “The Property of a Lady.”  You Only Live Twice, Never Say Never Again, Licence to Kill, The World is Not Enough, Tomorrow Never Dies, Die Another Day, Goldeneye and Skyfall were sourced from concepts within the novels, and A View to a Kill taken from the story “From a View to a Kill.”

SPECTRE movie poster teaser 2015

Even a slick new Aston Martin, the DB10 (shown above) is being rolled out for Bond for the next film.  After the break check out the new title teaser video for the film.

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Terminator Salvation The Final Battle

While you’re waiting for Terminator: Genisys, it’s time to get caught up on Terminator tie-ins, and one of the best places to start is Dark Horse Comics’ Terminator Salvation: The Final Battle series.  We have a preview of Issue #11 below, after the break.

What makes the Terminator series great is in part the time travel, and the ability to change events, retrace paths, and create parallel futures.  It’s a seemingly endless playing field for stories of Sarah Connor, her son John, and his friend Kyle, as Skynet attempts to stamp out humanity once and for all, and the humans challenge space and time for a future.

Final Battle terminator issue 11   Terminator Final Battle 1

We previewed Issue #1 the series here at borg.com last December 5.

The comic book writers’ favorite comic book writer, J. Michael Straczynski, has scribed this series over the past year.  Never fear if you missed the monthly issues, Volume 1 is now available in a trade paperback edition.  Pete Woods served as series artist with Matthew Wilson supplying the color work.

Here’s a preview of Issue #11, from Dark Horse Comics:

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Terminator Genisys poster

Just like Arnold Schwarzenegger promised in Terminator 2: Judgment Day, he’s ba-ack, starring in another Terminator film.  It’s the fifth movie in the series: Terminator Genisys, and yesterday Skydance Productions and Paramount Pictures released a teaser for a trailer to be released later today.

The studios also released a digital poster showing Arnold’s famous cyborg, and you can watch it here:

Arnold’s Terminator has the rare distinction of being on both the American Film Institute’s Best Villains (for Terminator) and Best Heroes lists (for Terminator 2).

Busy as the Governator of California, other than brief glimpses of his image as the chiseled cyborg, Schwarzenegger did not make appearances in either Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines (2003), or the fourth film, starring Christian Bale and Sam Worthington, Terminator Salvation (2009).

Emilia Clarke as Sarah Connor

Okay, maybe Emilia Clarke does look a bit like a young Linda Hamilton.

Terminator: Genisys has an impressive list of genre actors in addition to Arnold:  Game of Thrones’ Emilia Clarke, Dawn of the Planet of the Apes’ Jason Clarke, Jack Reacher’s Jai Courtney, Doctor Who’s Matt Smith, RED 2 and G.I. Joe’s Byung-hun Lee, The Hunt for Red October’s Courtney B. Vance, and Law and Order and Spider-man’s J.K. Simmons.

After the break check out the teaser for Terminator: Genisys:

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Vandroid trade cover

Vandroid is insane at every level.  It’s a movie that never got made.  It left behind a John Carpenter-esque soundtrack (and a really good one).  It’s also an onslaught of some incredible promotional materials, miraculously saved from a fire that burned down the movie studio back in 1984.  Trading cards?  A model kit?  Even temporary tattoos.

Vandroid is the ultimate B-movie action flick from the 1980s.  Or it should have been.  After reading the five-issue limited series re-issued as a trade paperback today from BOOM! Studios and visiting the movie website you may even remember seeing ads for the movie back in the 1980s.  Only you couldn’t have.  Why?  Because none of it is real.

Vandroid trading card sticker

Vandroid is a graphic novel.  It’s a concept about as clever as you get in comic book publishing today.  Let’s create the legend of a movie, a bad production, film footage shot but lost in a fire and subsequent legal battle.  What would have accompanied the film?  How about marketing for an Atari video game?  Slick movie posters?  Got ‘em.  What would the video game have looked like?  They’ve mocked up that, too.

vandroid poster

And at the center of the story a humanoid robot who drives a van.  And he possesses the memories of the guy that the technology took over, a washed-up mechanic named Chuck Carducci.  Chuck creates Vandroid after meeting up with his old college roommate from MIT, a guy working on artificial intelligence at the NASA Jet Propulsion Lab.  Introduce a plutonium-ion battery and some high-octane performance van parts and you could only have… Vandroid.

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EFNY01_coverB   EFNY01_coverD

That’s right.  The character made famous by Kurt Russell in John Carpenter’s Escape from New York and Escape from L.A. is back.  Tomorrow BOOM! Studios is releasing Escape from New York, Issue #1, a continuation of the exploits of the guy with the eye patch that everyone wants dead.

Written by Christopher Sebela (Ghost, Alien vs. Predator: Fire and Stone) with artwork by Diego Barreto (Irredeemable, Robin), Plissken is Public Enemy Number One.  He’s a survivor in a post-apocalyptic ride that finds Plissken in a 1980s-inspired action world parallel to Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome.

Keep an eye out for a slew of extra variant covers for this issue.

EFNY01_coverC   EFNY01_coverA

After the break, check out a preview of Issue #1, courtesy of BOOM! Studios:

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Reptillus Maximus and Woody

Following on the Halloween special Toy Story of Terror, Disney- Pixar Animation is queuing up a new Christmas special airing tomorrow night on the ABC Network with a replay Sunday, December 7, 2014, on ABC Family, and Friday, December 12 on the Disney Channel.  Toy Story That Time Forgot brings back Woody (Tom Hanks), Buzz Lightyear (Tim Allen), and their friends for a half-hour special harkening back to the days when franchises would roll out a special holiday show, like Peanuts and Garfield and even Star Wars.

As with Buzz and Jessie’s (Joan Cusack) prior entrances, the kids have some new toys heading their way this Christmas.  Toy Story That Time Forgot features the two dinosaurs Rex (Wallace Shawn) and Trixie (Kristen Schaal), and introduces some new characters into the playroom–a set of battle dinosaurs led by Reptillus Maximus (Kevin McKidd).

Toy Story That Time Forgot poster

Look for the return of other toys, too, including stuffed hedgehog Mr. Pricklepants (Timothy Dalton) and Mr. Potato Head (Don Rickles).

After the break, check out four short previews for Toy Story That Time Forgot:

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