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Category: Movies


Ava from Ex Machina - borg

Not to be confused with Brian K. Vaughan’s successful alternate world comic book series, a very different Ex Machina will soon be on the big screen at a theater near you.  From first-time director Alex Garland, writer of 28 Days Later and Sunshine, comes what appears to be a very incredible looking sci-fi movie with a creepy, suspense-filled twist.  And it will prep viewers for Star Wars Episode VII with two male leads who soon will star in that eagerly awaited film.

The latest borgs to be interpreted to screen conjure other recent attempts to show us our future via bipedal, human-robot beings.  We saw similar, incredibly rendered borg with Spielberg and Kubrick’s A.I., Artificial Intelligence, with Will Smith in I, Robot, and more recently in the Bruce Willis pic Surrogates and Ridley Scott’s Prometheus.  Now meet Ava, played by Alicia Vikander (The Fifth Estate), the latest wonder in sci-fi filmmaking, and the invention of reclusive CEO genius Nathan Bateman, played by Oscar Isaac (Robin Hood, and Star Wars Episode VII).  

Ex Machina fembot

Bateman plucks Caleb Smith, played by Domhnall Gleeson (Bill Weasley in the Harry Potter movies, and Star Wars Episode VII), a programmer at his company to test the humanity of Ava and we’re guessing some secret twists are hiding behind the curtain.  Will she be an emotional Replicant or a deceptive fembot?

Check out this first trailer for Ex Machina:

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Black Panther

In a press briefing in Los Angeles today, Marvel Studios laid out the release dates and titles for the next eleven movies in the “Marvel Cinematic Universe,” what they are referring to as Phase 3.  While rumors continue to circulate that Benedict Cumberbatch will be tapped to play Doctor Strange, the studio introduced the actor who will play Black Panther on the big screen, Chadwick Boseman, who played Jackie Robinson in last year’s film 42.  We’ll see Boseman first don the Panther suit in the third Captain America movie, Captain America: Civil War, coming in 2016.

And in the past hour Marvel released a new scene from Avengers: Age of Ultron, previewed below after the break.

The studio also revealed the costume design for Black Panther (above) in a poster released at the press event, attended by Boseman, Iron Man Robert Downey, Jr. and Captain America Chris Evans.

Iron Man Black Panther Cap

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Star Wars Tarkin novel cover Nov 2014 release

Review by C.J. Bunce

Governor Tarkin possessed the power to direct Darth Vader to stop choking a man, to command the first Death Star and to use it to destroy Princess Leia’s home world. Yet for all that, he gets very little screen time.  Who was this character?  A new novel asks that question and provides an interesting insight into the life of a man revered by his peers, his planet, and ultimately the Empire for his intellect, cunning and decisiveness.  It’s a Machiavellian account of a man born far away from the city centers of Coruscant whose pursuit of power would be nearly unstoppable, and whose political skill would thrust him into a triumvirate of power shared with Darth Vader and the Emperor himself.

In its first releases of canon-designated novel tie-ins for the Star Wars franchise after the recently announced move away from the past 20 years of expanded universe stories (now referred to as the sidelined “Legends” stories), LucasBooks has honed in on two sides of the rise of rebellion against the Empire.  Taking place in the years following the events of the Star Wars prequels but before the original Star Wars films, John Jackson Miller’s Star Wars: A New Dawn, reviewed previously here at borg.com, recalls the plans of a band of rebels to sabotage Imperial efforts to acquire resources needed for its great space fleet.  Next week, LucasBooks presents a view from the other side of the battle when it releases James Luceno’s Tarkin, a deep dive into the inner sanctum of the Emperor following the fall of the Jedi, and the political rise of the Death Star commander who we would meet as Peter Cushing’s Governor Tarkin in A New Hope.

Tarkin scene from Star Wars

The character of Moff Wilhuff Tarkin is not incredibly complex–he stayed true to a course early in life established by his ancestors on the planet Eriadu, which gave him the benefits of military academy-style training yet provided by a band of men not unlike Scottish highlanders.  He is a man who was not born of privilege.  Yet good mentoring forged a soldier who would attain predictable societal ranks and achieve much more.

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Jimmy Stewart Lindbergh Spirit of St Louis

It’s the second time TCM and auction house Bonhams have teamed up to offer screen-used and production-made costumes, props, and other relics from the Golden Age of Hollywood.  A November auction, TCM Presents: There’s No Place Like Hollywood, will feature a large private collection of rare items from Casablanca, including the piano featured prominently in the film where Sam plays “As Time Goes By.”  A lesser seen piano from another scene in the film sold in 2012 for more than $600,000.

One lot features a mannequin display with costume components worn by Bert Lahr as the Cowardly Lion in The Wizard of Oz, said to have been used in several scenes in the film.  Many of the costumes and props appear to be the same lots that have been featured in other auctions in the last few years, including various dresses from the Debbie Reynolds collection of items offered by auction house Profiles in History.

Casablanca piano

Costumes from several classic films are on the auction block, including a Clark Gable jacket from Gone With the Wind, Marilyn Monroe’s saloon gown from River of No Return, Jimmy Stewart’s Charles Lindbergh flight suit from The Spirit of St. Louis, Faye Dunaway’s dress from The Towering Inferno, a Jane Russell costume from The Outlaw, and a John Wayne Union Army coat from Rio Lobo and The Undefeated.  Sci-fi and fantasy fans aren’t forgotten in the TCM auction, as there will be costumes worn by Charlton Heston and Roddy McDowell in Planet of the Apes, a background crewmember astronaut jumpsuit from Close Encounters of the Third Kind, a test dress for Judy Garland as Dorothy in The Wizard of Oz, and a Saruman staff and Aragorn sword from The Lord of the Rings films, both from Sir Christopher Lee’s personal collection.

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Ultron from Avengers Age of Ultron

Earlier than planned, Marvel Entertainment has just released the trailer for the second Avengers movie, Avengers: Age of Ultron.  All your favorites are back: Captain America, Hulk, Black Widow, Iron Man, Hawkeye… plus Quicksilver and the Scarlet Witch!

Better yet, we get our first look at borg.com Hall of Fame inductee and living automaton Ultron, who looks great in this first preview for the movie.

Quicksilver and Scarlet Witch from Avengers Age of Ultron

After the break, check out the full nearly 2.5 minute-long preview:

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Jaws 3-D movie poster 1983

When I was a kid I remember paying $5 at the geek show part of a carnival to see a giant great white shark. We were taken into a long trailer and were able to walk around it, suspended in some kind of clear block. It was sad, horrifying, and shocking that someone would display an animal this way.  After watching Jaws 3-D for our review of Halloween films, I had some of the same feelings return.

You’re not supposed to cheer for the monster in a monster movie like Jaws 3-D.  And yet I found myself hoping the shark would consume all this early 1980s fashion and bad moviemaking.  Every actor earns his or her sea legs in a different way, and here was Dennis Quaid (Enemy Mine, G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra), Bess Armstrong (House of Lies), Lea Thompson (Back to the Future), and Louis Gossett, Jr. (An Officer and a Gentleman) before they all would make names for themselves in much bigger and better films.  There’s even the son of All in the Family’s Jean Stapleton, John Putch, before he would have small roles in several series, including playing Mordock the Benzite in Star Trek: The Next Generation.  Putch plays Sean Brody, brother to Quaid’s Mike Brody, and they are the sons of Chief Brody from the original Jaws.  The Brodys find themselves again pursued by a giant shark, the latest some 35 feet long.

Jaws 3-D scream

Where Friday the 13th III in 3D is an example of over-the-top 3D effects that–absurd or not–you can still appreciate at least for its humor, Jaws 3-D reflects all that is bad about 3D.  The fundamental requirement of any movie, with or without special effects, is a good story.  This story doesn’t know what it wants to be.  At times it could be a poignant look at compassionate marine biologists caring about their animals and their work, with Armstrong and Quaid going about their jobs in a nice summer setting.   In a different genre years later this would be the backdrop for a movie like Summer Rental.  But a movie called Jaws requires chilling suspense.  Jaws 3-D doesn’t earn the title.

Were it merely a vehicle for three-dimensional whiz-bang action, this might have resulted in something like Friday the 13th III.  But the directorial choices are bad.  The images shown in 3D are superfluous to the plot.  The film sulks along and the only action comes about after an hour of the film as passed by.  As to story the movie doesn’t make sense even on paper.  A shark accused of killing people is finally caught, put on display at an aquarium, and then its mother sneaks into the park and torments the staff and guests until it breaks through the aquarium walls to get revenge on the facility manager.  Remember last year’s Syfy B-movie hit Sharknado?  Jaws 3-D is the original Sharknado, but without the necessary tongue-in-cheek humor.

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Jurassic Park 3D dimension

Review by C.J. Bunce

It’s difficult to ascertain what Steve Spielberg could have done differently had he actually planned a Jurassic Park 3D movie or filmed it originally with 3D technologies.  Jurassic Park 3D is so well done, devoid of gimmicky 3D imagery, but filled with crystal clear depth and eye-popping dimension scene after scene that you’ll think it isn’t merely a post-production conversion.

Unlike the few months technicians had to create the transfer used for a movie like the admittedly superb Predator 3D release, reviewed earlier at borg.com hereJurassic Park 3D underwent a full year of a painstaking, detailed transfer process, thanks to the post-production conversion studio Stereo D.  It’s also a testament to having those creators who made the original production oversee the conversion from original 2D film to 3D.  In this case, the oversight was by director Steven Spielberg himself.

Jurassic Park 3D cover

When considering what makes good or bad 3D movie subjects, we learned from Predator 3D, The Creature from the Black Lagoon, and Friday the 13th III in 3D that nothing beats Mother Nature when you’re watching 3D.  The context of setting a film in the natural world, highlighting the detail of trees and grass and, in the case of Jurassic Park a forest nestled among waterfalls in real-life Hawaii, is the best environment to judge 3D on your home 3D system.

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E.t. the extra-terrrestrial

No other director has produced more hits and more variety than Steven Spielberg.  You’d have to travel pretty far to find someone who didn’t love at least one of Spielberg’s films.  Whether it’s Jaws, Raiders of the Lost Ark, E.T., the Extra-Terrestrial, Jurassic Park, Close Encounters of the Third Kind, Minority Report, or War of the Worlds, each of Spielberg’s genre blockbusters rival the best of other major directors’ films.  That doesn’t even include his more critically acclaimed dramatic works, Schindler’s List, The Color Purple, Empire of the Sun, Saving Private Ryan, Munich, and Lincoln. 

The films Spielberg directed at Universal Studios are being released tomorrow in a new boxed set in both a DVD and Blu-ray edition.  Whether you’ll go for this set isn’t a matter of whether this is a great collection of great movies.  It’s more about math.  Today only you can get the set for less than half the published retail price at Amazon.com here.  First of all you get eight films on eight discs, and unlike other directors’ releases, like the superb Clint Eastwood: 35 Films 35 Years at Warner Bros., this edition includes a bundle of great extras on several of the discs.  These films have been released singly and you may already have the best available editions of films like Jaws.   But if you don’t this may be the time to catch up your video library.

Steven Spielberg Director's Collection

You get Spielberg’s first film, actually a TV movie, the suspenseful Duel (1971), featuring Dennis Weaver (Dragnet, Gunsmoke) being pursued by a psychotic truck driver.  It’s the ultimate road rage movie well before the term was even coined.  It includes “A Conversation with Director Steven Spielberg,” “Steven Spielberg and the Small Screen,” “Richard Matheson: The Writing of Duel,” a photograph and poster gallery and the original trailer.

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Archie Meets Predator first look

This week Archie Comics and Dark Horse Comics announced a new mini-series coming in 2015, an unlikely monster mash, Archie Meets Predator.  We’re surprised it took them so long.

Predator on film has faced off against Arnold Schwarzenegger and Ridley Scott’s Aliens.  In the comics, the list goes on and on, from Predator vs Judge Dredd vs Aliens, to Tarzan vs. Predator, to even Superman/Batman vs Alien & Predator.  And who could forget Predator vs My Little Pony, Predator vs BarbiePredator vs Hello Kitty, and Predator vs Itty Bitty Hellboy?  (OK, we made up those last ones).

Archie has had a similar spree of unlikely mash-ups, like Archie Meets KISS, The Punisher Meets Archie, and (gasp!) Archie Meets Glee.  Better yet, Archie had his own unofficial Walking Dead tribute with Afterlife with Archie–one we’ve raved about plenty here at borg.com.

Archie skull button

Archie Meets Predator is not taking the dark path you’d think you’d get from Dark Horse Comics or even from Archie Comics based on their success with Afterlife With Archie or forthcoming Sabrina series.  Archie Meets Predator seems to be lighter fare based on the press release this week:

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Ghost and Mrs Muir A

By Elizabeth C. Bunce

It’s no secret that here at borg.com, we’re big fans of Halloween.  And there’s nothing I like better than a great ghost story.  But if creepy and gory aren’t really your thing, TCM is offering up some of the best in lighter-hearted classic haunts tonight as part of its Ghost Story Thursdays month-long series.

Included in our epic round-up of this year’s Halloween movies on TV, tonight’s two classics feature some of our favorite performers in roles you might have missed–but should be sure to catch as they air back-to-back.  And if tonight happens to be Date Night at your house, you might choose to stay in and snuggle up on the couch, because these two films also feature some of our favorite on-screen romances.

Portrait of Jennie original movie poster   Ghost and Mrs Muir original movie poster

First up at 7:00 p.m. Central is 1948’s Portrait of Jennie, starring Joseph Cotten (Citizen Kane, Shadow of a Doubt) and Jennifer Jones (Song of Bernadette, Duel in the Sun), with a masterful performance by Ethel Barrymore.  Cotten and Jones play star-crossed lovers whose sweet romance bridges time, death, and logic.  Cotten plays Eben Adams, a down-on-his-luck artist in the Depression, whose life is changed forever when he meets a young girl in Central Park.  The mysterious and beguiling Jennie becomes his muse, infusing his artwork with passion and talent.  But who is she?  Jennie has a secret, and her haunting story will consume Eben, until both lovers are driven to extremes in their quest to be together.

If you’re already a fan of the film, you’ll enjoy TCM’s write-up about it here–but it’s full of spoilers, so wait until you’ve seen it.  Based on the novel by Robert Nathan, Portrait of Jennie, with its haunting heroine and epic romance, could easily have been dark and gothic, but it’s actually anything but.  There’s just enough ghostly mystery to keep the Halloween thrill alive, but the overall tone is more sweet than scary.  In fact, this supernatural romance even made our Best Fantasy list.  It’s a must-see.

Portrait of Jennie B

Here is the original trailer for Portrait of Jennie:

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