Category: Sci Fi


Arnold Terminator Genisys

Review by C.J. Bunce

Few sci-fi films are as revered as James Cameron’s Terminator and Terminator II: Judgment Day.  Judgment Day is regarded by many as one of the greatest sequels to any movie ever made.  Both films made American Film Institute lists and are the kind of movies we can watch hundreds of times and still keep enjoying them.  Two sequels followed, no longer under the direction of Cameron, Terminator III: Rise of the Machines, a worthy but lesser sequel reviewed at borg.com here, and the far, far lesser Terminator: Salvation.  So coming into the fourth sequel this weekend with the opening of director Alan Taylor’s Terminator Genisys, expectations by many were low.  So against that backdrop, and countless bashings by both national film critics and time travel aficionados, how really is this sequel?

Somehow Terminator Genisys manages to be not only good, but great, and not only that, it manages to equal the punch and excitement of both Terminator and Terminator II.

Terminator Genisys cast

That’s right, if you love the universe of Arnold Schwarzenegger’s sometimes villain, sometimes hero Terminator T-800, you’re going to love this film, which is not only loyal to James Cameron’s originals, it flat-out amps up the sci-fi and takes every element that made the earlier films great and expands them into new, exciting places.  This includes time travel, big action, story twists, casting, acting, and all the cybernetic tech you could hope for.  Adhering to a carefully laid out plan covering two parallel timelines (that we know of), we revisit the first Terminator trip to 1984 and learn about two other time jumps that illustrate Kyle Reese’s important line from the first movie:  “The future is not set. There is no fate but what we make for ourselves.”  In fact in Reese’s first conversation with Sarah he made the same point, calling her future “one possible future.”  These seeds planted in the original allow this new story to take off.

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Gentle Giant Ant-Man SDCC 2015

As we find every year, Gentle Giant is back again next week with several great exclusives for San Diego Comic-Con 2015–something for everyone.  The finest pieces come from Marvel Studios’ new Ant-Man film and classic Star Wars characters.  The Ant-Man sculpt, shown above, is a top-notch rendering of Paul Rudd’s character in costume.  This statue is limited to only 500 pieces.  It is 4.25 inches tall–not ant sized but big enough to appreciate.

Gentle Giant prototype Boba Fett SDCC 2015

Next is this stunning bust of the prototype for Boba Fett.  Every version of Boba Fett that gets turned into a toy or collectible simply amazes, and this all white version just makes us all want to see this character in action.

Deadpool Gentle Giant SDCC 2015

Deadpool fans will appreciate this interpretation of Deadpool by Gentle Giant artists.  It’s Deadpool as he may have looked in Secret Wars.  This figure stands 12 inches tall.

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CJ Bunce Stawamus Chief Squamish BC 1998

Of all the beauty to be found in British Columbia, from the unreal blue waters along Highway 99, to the European feel of Victoria on San Juan Island, to the gondola ride to the top of Whistler, to the Emerald City of Vancouver, you will hardly find anything as mesmerizing as the mountain that resides next to the lovely town of Squamish called Stawamus Chief. 

At the Stawamus Chief Provincial Park, you can enjoy a great picnic with your family and find yourself transfixed at the incredibly polished striations down the mountain’s face, the result of millions of years of erosion.  Driving the Sea to Sky highway between Vancouver and Whistler you will find your eyes drawn to this monstrous entity as you twist along the highway–almost like Mt. Rainier towering over Seattle as you inch closer–until you find yourself in its shadow.  Under the code name “Euclid” you could find the crew of the next Star Trek adventure, Star Trek Beyond, filming their next adventure there this past week.

Whistler gondola CJ Bunce 1998

Just like Vancouver is one of the most popular shooting locations in North America, it’s no wonder the topography draws studios back to this spot time and time again.  While you’re waiting for Star Trek Beyond, try to spot the mighty Chief in any number of Canadian productions as you watch TV and movies every day.  Once you’ve visited Squamish a few times, you’ll experience another level of enjoyment spotting the town and its landmarks in dozens of movies and TV series.

Here are some shows to check out:

The Returned A&E logo

  • The star-studded and nicely creepy A&E series The Returned is filmed in and around Squamish, and every episode features prominent buildings and easily recognizable natural landmarks.  Catch The Returned season one OnDemand.

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T3 Arnold & Co

You have Terminator and Terminator 2: Judgment Day committed to memory.  The fourth Terminator movie, Terminator Salvation, nearly turned you off on the franchise for good.  But what you don’t remember is the last time Arnold Schwarzenegger really played the Terminator.  That was the third film, Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines.  Back in 2003, our expectations were pretty high, just as they are for this week’s release of Terminator Genisys.  Twelve years later and after the truly bad Terminator Salvation, you might find it better than you remember.  If you want to get in prime Terminator mode with something different this week as you gear up for the latest effort, Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines deserves a second look.

The story connects the dots between the past and future of the first two films.  After Skynet failed to kill Sarah and John, it sends back yet another Terminator, the T-X, played by Kristanna Loken, to eliminate all of John Connor’s Resistance leaders, including his wife Kate, played by Claire Danes–who will one day be his second in command.  The Resistance sends its own counter-attack into the past in the form of an outdated tech T-850, played by Schwarzenegger, and as with Terminator 2, Arnold is again the hero/protector.  John Connor, played by the strangely cast Nick Stahl (he doesn’t look anything like John in T2), is living off the grid, but still the prize target, which the T-X encounters in a fated, self-fulfilling prophecy of sorts where John and Kate’s lives converge with the arrival of both the T-X and T-850.

Loken Terminatrix

We learn that Kate’s dad is a general in the military who is preparing to activate Skynet–and finally learn the reason why it was created, and how it all goes wrong–on the Judgment Day of the first sequel’s title.

So why is it a good Terminator movie?

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Flux Capacitor from Back to the Future

Let’s face it–our lives are very busy, and the last thing you will do when you wake up tomorrow morning is think “Hey it’s time for me to replace my flux capacitor.”  However, the life of your time travel system is very dependent on the condition of your flux capacitor.  Having an old flux capacitor can stall an otherwise enjoyable journey, and can cause you to be stuck back in 1985.  Or worse.  Just ask Marty McFly.

Save the Clock Tower

And although they don’t offer an annual maintenance service agreement, that’s why the folks at Diamond Select offer a replacement flux capacitor for handling all your time travel needs.  Remember, you should always check and possibly change your flux capacitor in between time travel escapes, or at least every 30 years or 300,000 miles.  Changing the flux capacitor is actually something that is very easy for anyone to do.  Here are two places to pick up your own high-end unit, and a less expensive option for everyone else (complete with blinky lights!).

Replica flux capacitor

Amazon, Entertainment Earth, and BTTF.net each offer the same unit right now.  You can get yours from Amazon here, Entertainment Earth here, or from BTTF.net here.  Through June 20, 2015 at 11:59 p.m. Central time BTTF.net is knocking $95 off their regular price.  Amazon has the lowest price as of today, but has limited quantities.  So act fast.*

Need a more affordable model?

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Hiro Nakamura Heroes Reborn

A new cast of young heroes awaits in the reboot of Tim Kring’s fun and at least briefly successful series Heroes.  But Heroes Reborn will also bring back many fan favorites, notably Jack Coleman as Noah Bennet, Masi Oka as Hiro Nakamura, Greg Grundberg as Matt Parkman, Sendhil Ramamurthy as Mohinder Suresh, Jimmy Jean-Louis as The Haitian, Christine Rose as Angela Petrelli, and even Noah Gray-Cabey as Micah Sanders.

The not-so-surprising news is that all the actors who have since taken off in their celebrity status don’t look like they are coming back, at least as regulars, like Ali Larter (Niki Sanders), Zachary Quinto (Sylar), Hayden Panettiere (Claire Bennet), Milo Ventimiglia (Peter Petrelli), Adrian Pasdar (Nathan Petrelli), or even Kristen Bell (Elle Bishop).

Jack Coleman Heroes Reborn

New to the show is Zachary Levi (Chuck).  Here is the first full-length sneak preview for the series:

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Star Wars Rebels Darth Vader Season Two

If you missed the first season of Star Wars Rebels, now is the time to find out what you have been missing.  Last year we reviewed Season 1 here at borg.com.  Far better than the animated Clone Wars, Star Wars Rebels ups the ante with animation that conjures the original series like nothing we’ve seen since Return of the Jedi.  And with original trilogy actors Billy Dee Williams, Anthony Daniels, Frank Oz and James Earl Jones returning to their roles, it’s something that fans have only dreamed about–until now.  Disney released an early look at Season Two this past week with the one-hour season premiere and you still can catch it in one of its many re-airings this week.

The series takes place five years before Star Wars: A New Hope, following the crew of a resistance vessel bringing their battle to the Empire.  Season Two will expand the role of Darth Vader, voiced again this season by James Earl Jones.  This is Vader like we have not seen him before–a veteran of villainy well beyond the untried Jedi youth once known as Anakin Skywalker.

If you’re iffy about the new Star Wars universe under Disney, this may be what brings you back into the fun of what was the original Star Wars we all remember.

SW Rebels

Just check out several previews and behind the scenes clips below for a taste of what’s coming later this year and then check your local listings for Disney X D to watch a re-broadcast of the one-hour premiere of Season Two.

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Orphan Black Soundtrack cover

Orphan Black wrapped its best year yet Saturday with the third season finale “History Yet to be Written.”  Tatiana Maslany has secured her place in the acting elite with a solid third run in a role every actor dreams about–a true showcase of her talents.  This season she shared the multi-role acting gig with the Castor clone brothers played by Ari Millen.  Despite sharing screen-time with the Castors, and expanded roles for Mrs. S, Delphine, and the introduction of the vile Dr. Coady, Maslany created some of the best scenes in the entirety of the series this year.  Alison started a drug-and-soap business and ran for office and won (and had that off-the-wall bedroom scene with Donnie).  Cosima brought in Lost Girl star Ksenia Solo as a show regular, and doubled (awkwardly) for Alison in a campaign speech.  Rachel duped everyone after losing her eye.  And we met poor, new, completely baffled Krystal.  But nothing compares to the character arc developed over three seasons for the incredible Helena and her trusty scorpion adviser.

How could TV watchers possibly fall for a character like Helena?  Raised in a convent outside of any family, trained to be a cold-blooded killer, she would kill four of her clone sisters.  This season she befriended Alison’s husband Donnie, massacred a room full of drug dealers who threatened Alison’s kids, reunited with “boyfriend” Jesse, and proved her fighting skills could take the worst of the Castors out of the equation.  In one word, Maslany, as Helena, was brilliant.  Can the BBC keep up the momentum for season four?  While you’re waiting for 2016, you can pick up two albums released by the BBC and Varèse Sarabande Records.

Helena and Sarah

Sestra pals Helena and Sarah.  Insert your favorite Alanis Morissette song here.

The Orphan Black Original Television Score provides all the feel of the show a card-carrying Clone Club member could want.  Composer Trevor Yuile created a distinct sound for the show, mixing the eeriness of Angelo Badalamenti with the evocative repetition of John Carpenter and the mechanical sound of Massive Attack or Daft Punk.  Beginning with the psychedelic Orphan Black theme, which we only wish there was a full, expanded version, the album moves the listener between memorable themes.

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Jaws Entertainment Earth exclusive SDCC 2015 comic-con Quint and shark

Youth is wasted on the young.

I should have this line from It’s a Wonderful Life in a frame hanging over my desk.

Case in point:  The exclusive Jaws shark and bloody Quint playset available only from Entertainment Earth in San Diego on Comic-Con weekend.

How much fun would we have had with that toy as kids?

And–wow–look at these nifty Planet of the Apes figures from NECA toys:

NECA-CC15-POTA-Bundle SDCC 2015

NECA has introduced some of our favorite lines in the past, like the retro Tron line from more than a decade ago.

San Diego Comic-Con exclusives are being announced in advance of the show in addition to what will be revealed at this year’s show with 40 exclusives this year from Entertainment Earth alone.  If you want one of them you’ll need to be at SDCC 2015, except for some, which we have links to pre-order from below.  And this year you’ll be limited to one per person for SDCC 2015 Entertainment Earth exclusives as other booths have done in the past.  So you’ll need to enlist some friendly Con-goers to buy extra for you.

CW Funko SDCC 2015 exclusives Arrow Flash

Highlights include new Funko ReAction unmasked Oliver Queen and Barry Allen figures from the CW series Arrow and The Flash, as well as these:

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Arnold - he is back

Is this year of the return of Arnold Schwarzenegger?  Not just a Has-Been, but a Still-Is?  Sure, we saw him re-enter the acting arena full-time after retiring from politics with four cool action flicks–The Last Stand, Escape Plan, Sabotage, and The Expendables 3–but nothing compares to what is coming in two weeks.  With a new Terminator movie that looks every bit as good as the first two, could this mean a return for Arnold to Predator?  And how can we possibly wait any longer to see him as Conan the King in The Legend of Conan?

If you have any doubt that he still has “It,” check out the newly released clip below from the Fourth of July weekend release Terminator Genisys.  If this isn’t what summer blockbusters are about, then what are they about?  The clip has our favorite Oscar winner J.K. Simmons in prime form.  And what actress is bigger right now than Game of Thrones star Emilia Clarke?  And that’s The Returned’s Sandrine Holt morphing into John Connor.

Terminator Genisys new poster

But then Arnold goes all out for a charity this week posing as himself as Terminator, pranking guests at Madame Tussaud’s Wax Museum.

Here’s the new clip from Terminator Genisys:

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