About these ads

Tag Archive: Blade Runner


Blade Runner one-sheet John Alvin   Young Frankenstein one-sheet John Alvin

Back in early 2012 we reviewed one of several books released on movie poster artist Drew Struzan, a useful and interesting resource called The Art of Drew Struzan, reviewed here.  It chronicles the best of painted motion picture advertising one-sheets that Struzan created, and even more enlightening, includes commentary by Struzan about his process and the politics and business of his years of leading the craft.  The picture he painted wasn’t pretty, but despite his own roadblocks he is generally thought of as the best motion picture poster artist of the last 50 years.

Along with Struzan, another poster artist created posters that often could be confused for Struzan’s.  That was the late poster artist John Alvin.  Unfortunately Alvin did not document his own personal account of his creative and professional experiences, but his wife Andrea has put together a book that at least documents his most popular work, released this month by Titan Books as The Art of John Alvin What we don’t know from any of the books we’ve reviewed on poster artists is how they might have competed for work over the years.  Andrea Alvin makes no mention of Struzan, but seems to indicate Alvin was able to keep a nice niche of clients over the years, ranging from the decision-makers behind the movies of Mel Brooks, Steven Spielberg, Tim Burton, and the renaissance of animated Disney blockbusters.

ET one-sheet John Alvin   Empire of the Sun one-sheet John Alvin

Alvin’s work seems far more commercial compared to the paintings of Struzan, as can be seen in Alvin’s posters for Empire of the Sun (1987), Cape Fear (1991), Batman Returns (1992), Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country (1991), and Batman Forever (1995).  But that doesn’t mean they were any less effective at drawing moviegoers to the theater, the entire point of the poster.  The one-sheet for Empire of the Sun is often seen as one of the most memorable images in the history of movie posters.

The power of much of Alvin’s posters is the simplicity.  In 1982 when the public first learned of a movie called E.T., the Extra-Terrestrial, the only thing we knew was a newspaper ad showing a wrinkled alien hand touching the hand of a kid, inspired by Michelangelo’s The Creation of Adam.  His teaser poster was equally as effective—never did these pictures show E.T. himself.  Those same images were reproduced on movie posters, cardboard standees, and eventually all over picture books sold via school book orders.  Simple images, but lasting images, and what they didn’t show was part of the enticement to reel in an audience.

Continue reading

About these ads

Almost Human partners

This year’s TV series Almost Human had the potential to be a big hit, with movie star Karl Urban as one of the two lead actors, and a classic sci-fi plot that looked like it would mix RoboCop, Alien Nation, Blade Runner, and Total Recall.  After a fun but uncertain pilot episode, it has managed to deliver each week the kind of science fiction stories that are stuff of classic TV.  Almost Human isn’t just sci-fi, it’s a full-blown police procedural drama, and a good old-fashioned buddy cop show to boot.

The series centers on megastar-film actor Karl Urban’s future cop, Detective John Kennex.  Kennex is a grumpy guy with baggage, a past encounter gone bad resulted in the death of his partner and the need for a cybernetic leg.  Early detractors of the series likened his Kennex too much to his similarly gruff Doctor McCoy from the new Star Trek movies.  It’s a fair comparison.  But we don’t care.  They are both great characterizations and the miserable, tough guy routine is separable and fun to watch, especially Kennex’s banter with co-star Michael Ealy as almost human robot cop Dorian, an android of a decommissioned type who has become Kennex’s partner.  In fact, the buddy cop routine will make you think of your favorite buddy cop shows, in the league of Alien Nation, Adam-12, Life on Mars, Hot Fuzz, Dragnet, Life, White Collar, and Starsky and Hutch.

Almost Human buddy cops

This week’s episode was emblematic of why the series is destined to continue as long as the network will let it.  The writers basically took the plot from a classic episode of Law and Order about pacemakers being refurbished and placed in new people.  Here, that concept is blended with a current political item: what happens if there is no Affordable Care Act in the future, and a current element of technology some people use every day: the prepaid cell phone.  So how did the writers put it all together?

Continue reading

Yoda and Luke

Review by C.J. Bunce

After the completion of the Star Wars prequels, George Lucas sat down and went frame by frame through all six Star Wars movies, examining literally hundreds of thousands of images and selecting about 250 screen grabs from each film, frames that he believed showed particular artistry, each in its own right.  The result was 2011’s limited edition of 1,138 boxed sets called Star Wars: Frames, sold for $3,000, and now only rarely available with one set being sold at Amazon.com for a whopping $11,500.  Thanks to Abrams Books, Star Wars: Frames is being re-released this month in a far less expensive but complete edition, collecting 1,472 stills from all six films in the Star Wars saga.  It is without a doubt the definitive visual work on Star Wars, in a rare league of deluxe book editions along with long out-of-print Dressing a Galaxy: The Costume of Star Wars and Sculpting a Galaxy: Inside the Star Wars Model Shop as the best Star Wars books ever released.

Star Wars Frames

This more affordable, unabridged version of Star Wars: Frames includes two hardcover books, each covering one of the two movie trilogies in 368 pages, housed in a hefty Death Star-themed silver box.  Listing at a published price of $150, you can buy it for less than $100 at Amazon.com.  The only difference between the $3,000 version and this version is the original was issued in a six-book set (one book for each film instead of one for each trilogy), with each image taking up a full page, packaged in a wooden crate instead of cardboard.   The content is the same.  Star Wars: Frames will be released November 5, 2013, but we received an early review copy this week.  The book lives up to its promise, in surprising ways.

Continue reading

Elysium-The-Art-of-the-Film

Art designers or aspiring art design students will want to pick up Mark Salisbury’s new look at creating sets, costumes and props for a world of the future in Elysium: The Art of the Film Incorporating commentary from the up-and-coming science fiction director of the geo-political sci-fi thriller District 9, Neill Blomkamp, this new large format hardcover delves into the creative process from early ponderings to the imagery that made it to the final film cut.

Like listening to the first demo tapes of your favorite band or scanning the rough sketches of your favorite artist, taking a peek at the development of Hollywood magic through various aspects of a film can teach you a lot about a designer.  Watching the development of a cyborg exo-skeletal costume from inception to final crafted piece challenges the reader to agree or disagree with what is cut and what isn’t.  What physical elements, like utilitarian tubes and pipes, plastics or metals, make us think of the visual “future”?

Continue reading

AOS cover

Review by C.J. Bunce

The magical, multimedia, computer-generated art of Archeologists of Shadows is at once both like something you’ve never seen before yet strangely familiar with bits and pieces of so many different influences.  The characters seem to have evolved from the green planet in Avatar and the villains from the Iowa State Patrol borg police of Star Trek 2009.  The compositions have influences in the creepy worlds of both artist Dave McKean and at the same time the otherworldly spaces of filmmaker Guillermo del Toro’s Pan’s Labyrinth.  The fantasy evokes painted high fantasy pulp cover art and the mystery and old religions and myths of The Dark Crystal.  The colors and lights throughout the book are reminiscent of the work of artist Lee Bermejo.  The industrial architecture conjures the oppressive cityscapes of Fritz Lang, and the surreal buildings of  Antoni Gaudi.

As to the story, we’re introduced to a far off place, maybe Earth’s own future, the world of Terminator if the Connors have failed to save humanity, where humans have degraded to the point where they have only few organic parts.  The protagonists, Alix and Baltimo, are indeed borgs, with elaborate, realistically visualized cybernetics with a definite steampunk vibe.  They are on the brink of a crossroads like the dull citizens of George Lucas’s THX 1138–readying for the final steps of full mechanization.  Like the cast of Waiting for Godot, they wait for something to happen, maybe godlike intervention, until a stranger offers assistance.  Like Neo in The Matrix, do you act or not act, and which action bears the most risk, the doing or not doing?

Continue reading

No doubt Oscar Pistorius’s unprecedented entry and run in the Olympics this weekend will go down as a highlight of these games.  The first person to bridge the Summer Olympics and the Paralympics, clad in neither bionic nor cyborg prosthetics but walking “blades” certified to give no advantage to him against other runners, South African runner Pistorius gave a competitive go of it in his 440 meter semi-final track event.  Truly he’s an inspiration to everyone, disabled or not.

So in honor of the closest person we’ve found to a real-life borg Olympian, we are presenting this list of the ten most interesting sci-fi or fantasy sports we’d like to see in a future Olympics.  In whittling down this list we have eliminated motor sports or the like, so no pod racing or light cycle races (but we’ll make an exception for broomsticks).  We also found far too many gladiator events in classic sci-fi, going back to the original Star Trek’s “Gamesters of Triskelion” and “Bread and Circuses” battles to Star Trek Voyager’s Seven of Nine vs. The Rock arena combat called Tsunkatse, to the combat in Mad Max: Beyond Thunderdome, which continues on this year in genre shows like Bo’s battle to the death in Lost Girl.  So we’ll skip those for this round.  Most of our games reflect a possible evolution of today’s games and come from sci-fi TV or movies, but we just had to throw some fantasy events into the mix for good measure.  So here goes:

Updating who knows what Olympic sportsParrises squares (Star Trek: The Next Generation).  A future J.J. Abrams’ Star Trek reboot movie sequel really could do some good by showing us an actual Parrises squares match.  The often celebrated Star Trek universe game has been played by everyone from Tasha Yar to the EMH’s daughter on Voyager (who sadly, dies from a Parisses squares injury).  But all we have seen are the uniforms.  This barely makes our cut because we simply haven’t seen the game in action yet, yet the possibilities from what we’ve heard from Star Trek characters is enough to make it to the list.

Updating taekwondo and judoBat’leth and Mok’bara (Star Trek: The Next Generation).  In the episode “Parallels,” Worf returns to the Enterprise from a bat’leth tournament. Part of the plot revolves around whether he scored first or ninth place in the games.  He even has a nice trophy to show for it:

Mok’bara was Worf’s version of taekwondo, an elegant art of movement for the Klingon set.  Both of these are future martial arts we’d like to see added to the Olympic slate.

Updating fencingLightsaber dueling (Star Wars).  Ben Kenobi showed Luke he could practice his saber work without anyone getting hurt.  You can even perfect your skills with a floating spherical sparring partner.  Fencing uses foils, sabers or epees. Maybe lightsabers can be set to “stun”?  I can’t think of a more elegant sport for a civilized age.

Updating fencing, judo and taekwondoAnbo-jyutsu (Star Trek: The Next Generation and Star Trek Voyager).  We’ve only seen this played by Will Riker and his dad and B’Elanna Torres and Kes, but that was all we needed.  Cool uniforms and football-type padded gear, these guys really play hard.

Updating basketballPyramid/Triad (Battlestar Galactica), and Serenity basketball (Firefly).  Less elegant than martial art competitions, street sports like Pyramid/Triad and “Serenity basketball” (played in the episode “Bushwhacked”) allow everyone to get into the act with little upfront cost to play.  Even when the end of the world just happened, you can assemble a pick-up game of Pyramid, even on board a starship like the Galactica.

Serenity basketball seems to have less clear rules, but we’re sure it can factor in to a future Olympic event.

Updating hockeyRollerball (Rollerball).  The game itself really sold the movie.  Maybe we were cheering for James Caan because we still saw him as Brian Piccolo playing alongside Gail Sayers in Brian’s Song.  Nah… he’s just cool in everything.  What an intense action sport Rollerball would be in real life, and so much fun to watch in-person.  (And yes, we allowed this sport on our list even though they use motorcycles).

Updating triathlon, skiing and shootingJames Bond skiing (The Spy Who Loved Me, For Your Eyes Only, The World is Not Enough, with nods to Arnie in True Lies).  Good luck making it down the black diamond while someone is trying to throw you off balance.  We’d substitute blanks for bullets so our athletes can come back for more.  We saw a bit of this in an old Chevy Chase Saturday Night Live skit with the Olympics and Claudine Longet.  Not a lot of Olympic sports add the element of surprise like this “sport” could.

Updating discusIdentity discs (Tron, Tron: Legacy, and Tron: Uprising). Think discus but a bit more precarious, and we don’t even need a disc battle-to-the-death like in all the Tron live action and animated shows.  Just something that puts the thrower off balance as he’s trying to make a great throw, with the addition of a boomerang feature in the discus and two athletes throwing the blindingly lighted discuses at each other–so there’s some dodging required.

Updating rugby and soccerJump Ball (Starship Troopers).  You can’t beat a sport where men and women play along side each other on equal footing.  And Johnny Rico and his pals looked like they were having so much fun, too.  Part indoor football, and full contact, with cool gear–all that makes this one a game everyone would want to play and watch.

Updating rugby, polo, and basketballQuidditch (Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, etc).  Beyond the flying, Quidditch offers multiple goals and ways to win, and that puts this toward the top of our list of exciting otherworldly sporting events.  On the one hand it’s another form of “air hockey” (or “basketball on broomsticks with six hoops” as Harry calls it) where you have to get the ball in the goal, but with the addition of the trickier seeker’s job, viewers can choose which part of the game to watch—assuming someone can film all the details and project it on a nice jumbotron.  And like Jump Ball, boys and girls play together on the same team.  With neat equipment like the quaffle and bludgers and the zippy little golden snitch, who wouldn’t get excited about this kind of match?

So that’s it.  Cheers to Oscar Pistorius.  We hope he comes back for the next Olympics.

C.J. Bunce
Editor
borg.com

Review by C.J. Bunce

Jason McClain is a big fan of Ed Brubaker’s writing.  He’s mentioned his appreciation for Brubaker’s Sleeper books here at borg.com more than once.  So when I saw the enticing noir cover art on the first issues of the new series Fatale, I figured this was a good place to start.  I picked up Issues 1 and 3-5 and it took me awhile to track down #2 so I only this week could read the first story arc straight through.  The new story arc starts with the next issue, coming out soon.

Based on the noir covers I was looking forward to what I have found in my favorite film noir–Otto Preminger’s Laura, Hitchcock’s Shadow of a Doubt, Rear Window, Dial “M” for Murder and Vertigo, Jimmy Stewart in Call Northside 777, also Sorry, Wrong Number, Elizabeth C. Bunce’s fantasy noir Liar’s Moon, and in a strange way, even the voiceover version of Blade Runner.  For the most part these are all crime noir stories.  A dangerous damsel–the Femme Fatale as in Double Indemnity–plus a Dana Andrews-looking character in a gray fedora who is usually a cop or newspaper reporter, and a dangerous city full of secrets and dark, wet streets–all of this is the stuff of noir.  But I was thinking about this all wrong.  I had no idea Ed Brubaker and artist partner Sean Phillips were creating a supernatural 1950s pulp horror/thriller, not a noir pulp crime novel.  None of my favorite film noir has anything supernatural so from only a few pages in I was thrown a bit.  Fatale is noir, but it is just as much supernatural horror.  So I read the story once and was confused a bit.  Then I figured out what genre I was reading and read it again.

If you like supernatural horror and you like the 1950s underworld as your setting, Fatale is a very interesting read–almost like revisiting a lost story type.  The supernatural bits remind me of the TV series Medium, which often contained surprisingly dark and gory crime moments juxtaposed with the lives of good, caring people.  Same goes here.  Like the movie Skeleton Key, where a man and woman use voodoo to switch bodies and live forever, and like Rosemary’s Baby and The OthersFatale’s characters are sucked into shocking and frightening situations and as readers we aren’t supposed to know all that is going on until the end.

Fatale has the requisite fascination of an otherwise boring man with an attractive, inaccessible, mysterious woman.  Nicolas Lash meets Josephine at the funeral of his godfather, Hank Raines.  Raines once knew Josephine back in the 1950s.  She’s blackmailed by a detective in the 1950s world of the story, Walt Booker, and both Josephine and Walt have this unnatural power over each other.  Is Josephine a “pusher” in the X-Files sense or does she just bring out something in others innocently?  What are these occult priestly fellows in red showing up dead everywhere and this fanged beast who kills Raines’ wife?  I’d need a few more re-reads to really catch the complexity of what happened here.  Each issue from #2 on has a lead-in paragraph at the beginning to explain what happened in the prior issue.  I found myself puzzled by these summaries, as in “oh, is that what happened last issue?”  Since I read these through in one sitting, I’d think I shouldn’t be surprised by a summary of what I just read, yet I was.  Usually if stories suffer it’s through too much “telling” and not enough “showing.”  Here I think this story has the reverse problem, but only a bit, and could stand to explain a little more plainly what the heck is going on with the mass suicide, magic dagger, old novel script and some pile of papers that need translating.  At times I felt I was totally in sync with the story–there was a 1960s James Bond aura at different points along the way that created a cool vibe.  Then with the symbology and strange beast who was also a leader that looked like Hitler, I was out of sync again.

Without question, the best part of Fatale is Sean Phillips’ 1950s style art.  If I wasn’t following a scene from the dialogue then I could usually get there with the visual storytelling.  Fatale looks like the noir I’d expect to see, for most of the scenes.  Dave Stewart’s coloring creates a world familiar to fans of Edward Hopper’s paintings.  I think the storytelling has some jarring moments, however.  Things like expletives that seem out-of-place and -time bothered me here.  It could be because, even if people used expletives in the real 1950s, 1950s movies never did, and so the aura of 1950s drama seems more accessible to me than what might have been real-life lingo (although I refuse to believe folks in 1950s swear as much as, and with the exact same colorful metaphors as, we have today as this work reflects).  So I love the look of Fatale, but am not sure of how much I like the story and whether I would recommend it to others not familiar with this genre.  The “voiceover” parts were quite good (the “it was a dark night in the city when I first met her” kind of thing).  Are Brubaker and Phillips’ other works supernatural horror like this?  I’d be willing to try more of their works to find out.

Fatale did make me think a lot about characterization, mood, and what makes something a crime novel vs a horror novel vs a supernatural thriller.  In a different kind of way, it made me think about complexity of story much as I did reading and watching the Watchmen graphic novel and film adaptation.  Anything that makes you think like that is probably a good thing.

Fatale is available at Amazon.com for pre-order in a trade edition titled Death Chases Me.

By C.J. Bunce

We highlight them all the time here at borg.com.  But some of them don’t naturally come to mind when you think of cybernetically enhanced organisms–cyborgs, or borgs for short.  What makes a borg?  An organism, human, alien, or animal, who has been modified by technology or uses technology as part of or in place of another biological function.  We use this broadly, encompassing not only a long-accepted group of borgs that are more metal than man, but also robots or androids modified with biology or biomatter, although taken to the extreme this would seem to include the bioneural starship USS Voyager from Star Trek Voyager.

Regardless of how you define it, meet our borg.com Hall of Fame, always ready for new honorees…

With Marvel’s big premiere of Joss Whedon’s The Avengers, we’ll begin with Tony Stark’s Iron Man.  Tony Stark is not advertised as a borg, but if your power source involves techno-gadgetry via an arc reactor and you have his fully integrated armor, we think that makes you a borg.  Whedon is very familiar with borgs, having created the character Adam, the nasty, almost unstoppable foe of the Scooby Gang in Whedon’s Buffy the Vampire Slayer.

If Iron Man is a borg, should one of the oldest creatures of science fiction be considered a borg as well–Frankenstein’s monster?  How integral are those bolts and attachments to his survival anyway?  Does an external power source make a borg?  Did he ever have to regenerate?

And if Frankenstein’s monster makes the cut, maybe this spin-off fellow should, too:

Yes, Frankenberry, the only cereal mascot borg?  Are those pressure gauges on his head?  What functions do they serve?  Before we move forward very far in time, we also think we need to at least consider Maria’s doppelganger from Fritz Lang’s sci-fi film classic Metropolis as a possible borg.com honoree–a robot admittedly, but somehow transformed into a humanoid creation with flesh, used to replace the real Maria and wreak havoc across Metropolis:

From one of the biggest science fantasy franchises, Star Wars, Darth Vader began as Anakin Skywalker, but through his own rise to evil and subsequent downfall he became more machine than man:

He even caused his son to require borg technology by slicing off his arm and hand with his lightsaber, making Luke Skywalker a borg as well:

With Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith, we met an interesting new villain, General Grievous, a four-lightsaber wielding almost lobster-like biological creature made up of techno-armor and, in close-up are those reptilian eyes?  His apparent disfigurement and breathing problems hint at a back story that must be not unlike Vader’s.

In The Empire Strikes Back we also briefly met Lando Calrissian’s majordomo who possessed some type of brain adapter technology–we learn from action figures, trading cards and comics his name is Lobot:

And probably the very first cyborg to be referred to specifically as a “borg” (by Luke Skywalker, even), Valance was a cyborg bounty hunter in the early pages of Star Wars, the Marvel Comics series:

Some borgs are more cybernetic than organism, at least at first appearance.  This would include Doctor Who’s Cybermen:

and we’d learn even the Daleks were cybernetic organisms:

and the Terminators from the Terminator movie and Sarah Connor Chronicles TV series, very much more machine with a bit of organics (and even Arnold’s character called himself a “cybernetic organism”):

In Star Trek: First Contact the Borg Queen alters the android Lieutenant Commander Data in such a way so as to make Pinocchio a real boy:

giving real organic material to Data, (like Maria’s double above from Metropolis?) bringing him briefly into the realm of borg status, like Isaac Asimov’s Bicentennial Man:

and this even suggests the Tin Man from L. Frank Baum’s The Wizard of Oz may be a rudimentary variant borg being along the lines of Frankenstein’s monster:

All humanoids or aliens modified to become The Borg of the Star Trek franchise clearly are good examples of cyborg beings, the most famous of which are probably Patrick Stewart’s Locutus:

the seemingly innocent Hugh:

and Seven of Nine from Star Trek Voyager:

On Earth we encounter humans all the time with bodies improved by borg technology.  Because of the OSI Steve Austin and Jaime Sommers were rescued from near death with enhanced biology and appendages to become the Bionic Man and Bionic Woman:

The British agent James Bond had to take on Doctor No, an evil scientist who took on his own technological enhancements because of medical maladies, bringing James Bond into the fold of genre franchises investigating a borg character:

Featured in a 1980s movie series and soon to be the subject of a new movie, Robocop:

showed us a variant on Austin and Sommers, and a bit like Iron Man, we have the government creating technology to make super-humans, and here, a superhuman police officer.  This is taken even further, making three animals into borgs for military use in the Eisner-nominated comic book mini-series WE3:

 …a far darker take on the classic cartoon character Dynomutt from Scooby Doo:

Inspector Gadget:

and Doctor Octopus (Doc Ock) in Spider-man 2:

 

both were borgs that made it into big-screen films.

In the DC Comics universe we have a newer Justice League featured member Cyborg, a football player/student who is in the wrong place at the wrong time, when his father’s lab goes up in flames and his father uses his own research to save his son from death:

Before that, Frank Miller envisioned a disfigured future world Green Arrow who would need his own prosthetic cybernetic arm in The Dark Knight Returns:

Mr. Freeze was an early borg villain in the Batman series:

In Marvel Comics Rich Buckler created Deathlok the Demolisher, another cyborg creation, and one of the earliest borgs in comics:

Add to that Marvel characters like Ultron, the “living” automaton:

Ultron’s own creation, named Vision, the “synthezoid”–

and the borg called Cable:

In the 1990s Jim Lee created the Russian borg in the pages of X-Men called Omega Red:

Long before these Marvel characters the cyborgs Robotman and Robotdog graced the pages of DC Comics in the 1940s, and yes, they were not just robots:

The modern Cylons from the reboot Battlestar Galactica TV series are borgs in the Terminator sense, robots made to look and pass for human.  And there were a bunch, not just background, but named characters, the most famous of which was the seductive Number Six:

  

Years before, Philip K. Dick would create more than one borg character in his novels and short stories, revealed to us the best as the Replicants in Ridley Scott’s Blade Runner:

Several replicants appeared in the film:

 

…all indistinguishable from humans to the naked eye.

In the horror realm we have Ash, from Evil Dead and Army of Darkness, his arm a functioning chainsaw, and at least in the comic book, like the Star Trek borgs he has an interchangeable arm like a mega Swiss Army knife:

If we include Ash do we also need to include Cherry Darling from Planet Terror, since she has a rifle as a leg like Ash’s arm attachment?

Heck, even horrific camp troller Jason became a borg eventually in Jason X:

Todd MacFarlane’s Spawn comics had both the borg assassin Overtkill:

and the cybernetic gorilla Cy-Gor:

Speaking of borg beasties, even Japanese monster movies embraced borgs, having their hero Godzilla encounter Mechagodzilla:

and Gigan:

In the world of manga and anime we have Ghost in the Machine’s own borg girl Motoko Kusanagi:

leader of a group of borgs, and the villain Cell from Dragon Ball: 

Cowboy Bebop had the borg character Jet Black, which seems influenced by the design of Seven of Nine:

Akira had Tetsuo Shima:

And we have a new one to add to the list because of the film Prometheus, the creepy borg, David 8:

But he’s certainly not the first in Ridley Scott’s Alien universe.  Don’t forget Ian Holm’s Ash in Alien:

Lance Henrikson’s Bishop from Aliens:

and Winona Ryder’s Annalee Call from Alien: Resurrection:

But these are just the biggest examples of borgs in popular genre works.  Countless books, comics and short stories have introduced other borg beings, not to mention every other new video game.   What will be the next borg to enter the mainstream, with a new TV show or movie?

Should we add an Honorable Mention list to the borg.com Borg Hall of Fame, for beings resulting from the merging of humans with cyberspace?  Think of characters like Tron and Flynn from Tron and Tron: Legacy?  Or Neo and Trinity & Co. from the Matrix movies?  You can argue some of the above in or out of the list, but we’ll be visiting most of them here now and then.

We’ll update this list from time to time and feature it as its own page on the borg.com home page.

By Jason McClain (@JTorreyMcClain)

I first read Jeff Jensen when a friend introduced me to his long explorations on each episode of Lost.  Almost two years after we both said goodbye to the passengers of Oceanic Flight 815, I read his Dark Horse graphic novel, Green River Killer: A True Detective Story.   I enjoy, wait, strike that pronoun and verb, let me start again.  The study and pursuit of serial killers by law enforcement agents interests me.  So, before I delve into what this book made me think about, let me just say that it’s a fascinating look at a detective who pursues the Green River Killer, Tom Jensen, the father of Jeff.

Whom does the author decide to follow?  For Jeff, I’m sure it was an easy decision to paint the portrait of his father and his family through the years and to intersperse it with the interrogation of Gary Leon Ridgway and a couple of scenes from Ridgway’s point of view.

For this genre, it’s a unique take.  For the take of the investigator, you have the books of John Douglas.  For the view from the killer, you have a number of books and movies like American Psycho and Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer.  This one, though technically the story of Tom Jensen, gives the obvious feeling that it is told through the eyes of a son.  Maybe I read too much into it, but the art of the novel feels like the scenes with Tom Jensen are from a perspective of someone shorter, listening to stories about how his father met his mother and looking up at him and his achievements.

It made me think of other graphic novels, books and movies and how that simple change of an author’s perspective can make a completely different story.  Think of Blade Runner from the perspective of Rachael, as a guy comes in and gives you the replicant tests.  Once that happens, if we follow her character, this revelation could change every relationship she has.  Does she wonder how people look at her?  Does she try to find answers at her job?  How would the movie change if told entirely from the viewpoint of Pris and how she just wanted to live, but a ruthless killer kept pursuing her?  What if it was from the angle of J.F. Sebastian who just wanted to find companionship?

I could go on as you can probably already see the different angels of your favorite movies, but humor me for a couple more.  What if The Lord of the Rings came from the view of the elves?  What if Eight Men Out told the story of the victorious Cincinnati Reds and how they won the World Series but the losers and their scandal overshadowed their victory?  What if instead of Harry Potter, the books focused on the bright, muggle-born Hermione Granger?

The whole idea of Wicked is The Wizard of Oz from a different view.  Elizabeth Bunce retold the story of Rumpelstiltskin in A Curse Dark As Gold completely from the view of the miller’s daughter and made her the heroine.

How does a writer choose a perspective?  What character can interest both the writer as they write and the reader as they read?

When I went to Comic-Con and sat in on a panel with Denny O’Neil and Neal Adams, they said what made Batman so interesting is that people could relate to him.  He’s human like us all and he has suffered terrible losses.  Everyone can understand those feelings and motivations.  They said it made it easy to write and create for that character.  They could interject themselves into the story.

On the other hand, Hannibal Lecter inspires book after book and movie after movie and I don’t think there are many genius cannibals in the world.  Then again, do writers need to be genius cannibals to step into those shoes, or just need to find the mundane and the ordinary contemptible?  I find it interesting that Lecter becomes a kind of hero in the stories movies even though he is a sadistic killer.  In real life serial killers aren’t heroes; they are Gary Leon Ridgway.  The eponymous Dexter makes a bit more sense as a hero because he only kills other killers.  If you accept that, then it’s not that far of a stretch to get back to Batman who doesn’t kill, he merely beats and cripples the bad guys.

At their heart, these example characters seek justice.  Rick Deckard seeks justice for the people the replicants killed to escape.  The criminal justice system places the Black Sox on trial to make them atone for accepting money to throw games.  Batman seeks to keep the streets safe from crime so that no one will have to face the pain he did.

A search for justice beats at the heart of many a crime story.  The search for love lies at the heart of love story.  If you want to tell a horror story, it’s about trying to find safety, and if you want to tell the story from the opposite side, it might be the search for retribution or something much darker.  If you make the darkness ridiculous enough, you’ve got yourself a dark comedy.

We all have a story to tell.  We all have a unique point of view.  Every author has to decide what their story will be and what character can best tell it.  I’ve heard it said that every story has already been written, and while that may be true, not every story has been told from every point of view.

A new movie trailer may explain why Ridley Scott has not been saying anything about what to expect in his new movie Prometheus, the new science fiction film from the universe of the Alien franchise.  Because, like a good magician, he is not going to reveal the big surprises until just the right time.  This is something cool and by itself gets a cybernetic thumb up from borg.com–in its realism, it is oddly prescient, and in its calmness and innocence, something outright creepy.  Check it out:

This new trailer is more an “ad from the world of Prometheus” than a typical trailer with snippets from the movie to entice us to see it.  Like Total Recall with all its advertisements for transplanted memories from the company called Rekall, this advertises something different, something at the core of a lot of science fiction–the ethics of science–just because we can do it, doesn’t mean we should do it.

The ad seems like it may be good for people who like the chilling parts of Philip K. Dick’s science fiction, people who liked the brilliant science fiction film Gattaca, but who also hope that world never arrives.  The character is familiar–we’ve seen androids and similar cybernetic organisms before and have discussed several here at borg.com.  This guy looks like Lieutenant Commander Data from Star Trek: The Next Generation, but the eerie quiet and childlike movements also conjure something dark like something you’d get from Stephen King–or maybe like Data just before he malfunctions and takes out the crew of the USS Enterprise.

When and how is this seemingly sentient thing going to break?

Science fiction is often at its best when it shows us tomorrow… failing.  Like the Millenium Falcon with a broken hyperdrive.

This trailer feels like 2001: A Space Odyssey, maybe just because of the choice of the name “Dave”.  Now I am pretty much not a fan of most of Stanley Kubrick’s work.  Despite some neat outer space scenes in 2001, the single scene with HAL and Dave, and some neat set decoration, I’ve never been able to get through the entire film in one sitting.  I just find it stunningly boring every few years when I try it again to see if I will like it this time.  But if Prometheus is like this ad, with this kind of quiet future scary science… this trailer might have elevated Prometheus for me from a future rental to an actual theater ticket.  And that’s saying something because its traditional trailers haven’t convinced me this is something I’ll care about.  But then again, their print ads state this David 8 robot is powered by… wait for it… Verizon.  Umm… right.  And all the restaurants of the future will be Taco Bell.

We probably shouldn’t be surprised that Sir Ridley Scott, creator of the films Blade Runner, Alien, and the recent Prophets of Science Fiction series, has some visionary tricks up his sleeves.  But the release of this very, very different movie promotion struck me as surprising, in a good way.  And if they do the movie right, “Happy Birthday, David” may be the next sci-fi catch phrase.

C.J. Bunce

Editor

borg.com

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 495 other followers

%d bloggers like this: