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).
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:
Review by C.J. Bunce
Who would have thought we’d be discussing a book in the second decade of the 21st century featuring new stories of the Old West? Titan Books has released such a work with Dead Man’s Hand: An Anthology of the Weird West, bringing together short stories from 23 authors that mash-up the Old West with science fiction, fantasy, steampunk, and horror.
The Dead Man’s Hand is of course the legendary card hand last held by Wild Bill Hickok when he was shot down by Jack McCall in Deadwood, South Dakota back in 1876. The superstitions carried forward by those cards–believed to be black aces and eights–fuels the magic and “weird” behind the stories in this compilation.
Fans of Louis L’Amour who may have open minds for the extremes of what might qualify as an Old West story should find at least a few good tales in Dead Man’s Hand. Like Mike Resnick’s story “The Hell-bound Stagecoach,” set in Arizona Territory circa 1885, it chronicles riders in a stagecoach who don’t quite remember how they ended up on the road bound for somewhere, as they encounter a proper lady who happens to be a good cook along the way. Resnick’s story is steeped in classic lore of the Old West era.
Editor John Joseph Adams attempts to summarize the genre in his introduction as having its roots in the works of Robert E. Howard, Gene Autry’s serial The Phantom Empire, and the 1970s series The Wild, Wild, West, but Adams could look back farther to cowboy lore–stories created and shared by those stranded in desert storms, creations of the lost, hungry and thirsty, like those seeing mirages. Like the story that would become Ghost Riders in the Sky, written by Stan Jones in 1948. Jones recalled the story was first told to him back around 1926, and certainly that story was among many Old West tomes of the oral tradition circulating back to even before the Civil War. Regardless of the earliest sources for such stories, they still entertain audiences in a world of cell phones, space travel, and the Internet.
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.
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.
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.
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.
It’s a big week of comic book releases from IDW Publishing and BOOM! Studios so we have pulled together several previews, including Issue #1 of a new Edward Scissorhands series, Issue #1 of a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles mash-up with the Ghostbusters, Issue #1 of a new Dungeons & Dragons series, and Issue #4 of The X-Files: Year Zero.
From BOOM! Studios we have previews of Issue #1 of an intriguing new series called Memetic, and Issue #1 of 3 Guns–the sequel to 2 Guns, the comic book that became this summer’s Mark Wahlberg/Denzel Washington action movie we reviewed previously here at borg.com.
And don’t forget to pick up Dark Horse Comics’ new Predator: Fire and Stone, Issue #1, previewed here earlier.
After the break, check out these great previews.
You’ve got to admit, it’s a pretty good title. And a decent premise.
Dark Horse Comics’ announced the purchase by Syfy Channel of the rights to the 2012 comic book release Dark Matter, a story about a group of space travelers who awaken from stasis on a spaceship with no memory of how they got there.
Stargate SG-1 and Stargate: Atlantis writers Joseph Mallozzi and Paul Mullie, who wrote the Dark Horse series, will also run the new TV series. Prodigy Pictures, who produced the Vancouver-based Lost Girls, will produce Dark Matter for Syfy. Bringing some past talent from proven shows gives us hope for this series.
The crew of the Raza are known by numbers one through six: three men, two women, and a kid. One of the men was drawn to look like Djimon Hounsou. By the looks of the comic book art, the cargo-looking ship could exist in the same world as Firefly’s Serenity. Here’s the description from the comic book: When the six-person crew of a derelict spaceship awaken from stasis in the farthest reaches of space, their memories of their pasts have been wiped clean. The only clue to their identities is a cargo bay full of weaponry and a destination–a remote mining colony that is about to become a war zone.
Review by C.J. Bunce
Whether a piece of art is appealing is in the eye of the beholder. Everyone who gives a considered view to a piece of artwork is entitled to their own interpretation and commentary on it. This month sees the release of a book that will allow the reader to take his or her own personal journey through the artwork that became the marketing posters for the Star Wars franchise. Star Wars Art: Posters is the fifth and final hardcover installment in Abrams Books’ successful series pulling the best imagery from Lucasfilm. It follows Star Wars Art: Visions, Star Wars Art: Concept, Star Wars Art: Illustration, and, to be reviewed soon here at borg.com, Star Wars Art: Comics. With Star Wars Art: Posters, the best was saved for last.
Star Wars Art: Posters is a purely visual experience. It includes only the slightest amount of text or interpretational information. A one-page commentary is included, written by each of noted Star Wars poster artists Drew Struzan and Roger Kastel. They each recount their own experience with creating Star Wars poster art, but do not give an overview of the rest of the galaxy of poster art. Instead each piece of art is laid out roughly chronologically, stripped of the words and printed matter that would be needed for the completion of the final poster for distribution, but with a notation showing the artists’ name, date, significance, and medium.
Die hard fans of Star Wars will recognize many, if not most, of the included posters. And you’ll find yourself embarking on your own nostalgic trip back nearly four decades. Back to the first poster for the film from 1976: Howard Chaykin’s screaming imagery of Luke, Han, Leia and Ben, with lightsaber pointing downward, Tom Jung’s famous one-sheet–what most remember as the classic Star Wars poster, Tom Chantrell’s photo-real poster featuring Mark Hamill as Luke along with the rest of the main cast, and that famous circus-design poster by Charles White III and Drew Struzan. My own trip back in time recalls the Del Nichols posters that were Coca-Cola giveaways, three of which are included in the book (and which covered the walls of my bedroom many years ago).
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 here, Jurassic 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.
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.
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.
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.
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 Barbie, Predator 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 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: