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Tag Archive: Elizabeth C. Bunce


All the Muppets from Muppets Most Wanted

Review by Elizabeth C. Bunce

The eighth big-screen film starring Jim Henson’s wacky, lovable Muppets hit theaters a couple of weeks ago, and for lifelong fans of the franchise, it’s a big win.  The 2011 film Muppets, written by and starring Jason Segel (How I Met Your Mother) was a heartwarming, family-friendly comedy, reviewed here.  We liked the 2011 movie but wished for more celebrity cameos.  Muppets Most Wanted, written by returning director James Bobin, returns to the kooky, offbeat humor of the original TV variety show and first motion picture, 1979′s The Muppet Movie.  And it delivers cameos aplenty.

In a plot somewhat reminiscent of various Muppet films past, this latest movie involves the intrepid troupe on a world tour, hot on the heels of the success of their last venture (meaning, in typical Muppets metafiction style, the 2011 film, or the reprise of the act as depicted in the film, or both, or… well, you’ll get it.  It’s the Muppets).  Along the way, no one suspects that their new tour manager, Dominic Badguy (“It’s pronounced ‘Badgey’”) (Ricky Gervais, The Office) is moonlighting as the sidekick to a criminal mastermind named Constantine–who also happens to be a dead ringer (almost) for Kermit the Frog.  Badguy books the Muppets into surprisingly sold-out gigs all across Europe, connives to have Kermit kidnapped and sent to a Siberian prison, and plots ever-more ambitious jewel heists along the way.

Gervais and Constantine

Human leads Ricky Gervais, Ty Burrell (Modern Family), and Tina Fey (Saturday Night Live) turn in stellar performances that recall classic costars like Michael Caine (The Muppet Christmas Carol) and Charles Durning (The Muppet Movie).  The lively story, er, hops along, darting among Kermit and Fey in Siberia; Burrel and Sam the American Eagle as rival Interpol/CIA agents tracking Constantine; and the Muppets’ efforts to launch a successful European tour, despite lackluster direction from Fake Kermit and zany acts competing for space in the show.  Watch for wonderful classic Muppet-show-style performances like Gonzo’s “Indoor Running of the Bulls,” all featuring cameos from actors like Salma Hayek (Wild, Wild West) and Oscar winner Christoph Waltz (Inglorious Basterds, Django Unchained).

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Wil Wheaton standing room only crowd at Planet Comicon 2013

In addition to what you might expect from a large comic book convention, from comic book creators to celebrities to vendors and panels, this weekend’s Planet Comicon 2014 has several fantasy-themed attractions to help you get your fantasy fix.

Medieval Punisher and Harley Quinn at Planet Comicon 2013

Amanda Lynn Chainmaille Creations is returning for their second year at Planet Comicon.  From their booth #1313, Amanda and Mike O’Leary will be selling original handcrafted chain mail and scale mail ensembles inspired by everything from comic books to fairies.  You can also get superhero themed items, as well as jewelry for all types of cosplay, including some great steampunk pieces.  They will also be taking commissions for custom work.  Stop by and check out Amanda and Michael’s awesome creations. And I will be modeling one of their creations on Friday, and Elizabeth C. Bunce will be modeling something on Saturday. You’ll just have to show up both days to see.

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Wildman Norse Drinking Horns is appearing for their first time as a vendor at Planet Comicon.  Stop by and ask Randy about his drinking horns, great for Viking and medieval cosplay, and just for all-out drinking grog.  Randy makes leather belt holders, too, and the horns are available in different sizes.  Elizabeth and I can be seen each year at the Kansas City Renaissance Festival sporting Randy’s drinking horns.  They are a great addition to your medieval ensemble.  Also check out his great Viking themed T-shirts, for sale at his vendor booth #1416!

ECB Valkyrie

And you can see our own author in residence at borg.com, Elizabeth C. Bunce, at Artists Alley booth #1143.  She will be selling and signing copies of her award-winning fantasy novels A Curse Dark as Gold, StarCrossed, and Liar’s Moon.  borg.com is again sharing a booth with Elizabeth this year.  Stop by and say “hi!”

C.J. Bunce
Editor
borg.com

Enders Game image

Review by Elizabeth C. Bunce

First, let me say that I’m struggling to figure out how to review this for people who haven’t read the book (really?).  Although it’s been almost 20 years since my last read, so much of what I just saw is wrapped up in what I remember, and what I wanted to see, that it’s difficult to give this an objective viewing.  So I’m just going to give up trying.

Ender’s Game follows a talented young (young) military cadet, Andrew “Ender” Wiggan (Asa Butterfield, Hugo) as he navigates his way through a complex future military academy.  Picked at birth, soldiers begin their training in childhood, all in preparation for a massive war with Earth’s longtime, poorly-understood alien enemy, the Formics.  The title refers to the computer simulations and novel physical training undergone by the students at Battle School.  What makes Ender’s Game different from any other sci-fi bootcamp movie (like 1997′s Starship Troopers, itself an adaptation of the science fiction classic by Robert Heinlein, which was poorly received but which borg.com editor C.J. and I both enjoyed) is the focus on the emotional arc of the adolescent hero.  Where Starship Troopers is a straightforward shoot-’em-up action flick, Ender’s Game is a little more complex, delving into the psychology of indoctrinating the young to kill, and examining the effect of this training on young Ender himself, as he grows from a scrawny little picked-on genius to a brilliant military commander.  Oh, yeah—and it’s a damn good shoot-’em-up action flick.

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It’s October finally and after another hot summer the trees are turning red and orange and it couldn’t be setting up for a more perfect autumn, and Halloween is almost here.  If you’re looking for a ghost story to get you into the mood of the season, check out borg.com writer Elizabeth C. Bunce’s novel A Curse Dark as Gold, available in hardcover, paperback, audio, and E-book editions from Amazon.com and other booksellers, first reviewed here back in 2011.

A Curse Dark as Gold takes place in the Gold Valley in that far away land where all fairy tales reside.  Charlotte Miller is a girl in her late teens whose father dies and leaves her the town of Shearings’s woolen mill, which serves as workplace for most of her community, along with the care of Charlotte’s younger sister Rosie.  Unwanted responsibilities are quickly thrust upon this young woman from page one.  From a framework standpoint A Curse Dark as Gold is a spin on Rumpelstitskin-type helper tales of the past, but this story takes on its own life.  Shearing is at once lovely and pastoral, yet dark and creepy doings begin to pierce through the landscape.  A mysterious uncle appears and begins to interject himself into the girls’ lives.  As if sick from a good friend’s death, the mill itself begins to respond to the death of Charlotte’s father, with boards crashing down on an employee, things not working quite like they should, and everything seeming to fall apart at once.

ACDAG audio

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2013 Elite Day of the Dead banner

The second Elite Comics Free Comic Book Day of the Dead was held yesterday at the shop in Overland Park, Kansas.  The store was crowded all day with plenty of cake, fun, and free comics.

Artists including Damont Jordan, Nathen Reinke, and Bryan Fyffe (who created the poster for the event below) created sketches for visitors and displayed their work.

Bryan Fyffe poster for 2013 Elite Comics Day of the Dead

Below are some photos from the day. Continue reading

Wizard of Oz in IMAX 3D

By Elizabeth C. Bunce

When I was little, they showed The Wizard of Oz on TV once or twice a year, usually at holidays.  Back then, genre fan that I have been since birth, I was fascinated and baffled by the change from black & white to Technicolor.  I knew it was an old movie–what I didn’t understand was that it hadn’t always been shown on TV.

And if that’s the only way you’ve seen it, you haven’t.

If you’re a diehard Oz fan, feel free to skip this and come back tomorrow.  You don’t need it.  You’re already in the theater.  But if you’re just a casual fan, an admirer in theory… or even if you think you couldn’t care less about the 75-year-old film classic, do yourself a favor and clear two hours some evening this week.  Get thee to a SPECIAL ONE WEEK-ONLY FIRST-EVER IMAX 3D THEATER SHOWING and don your IMAX 3-D glasses. I promise you’ll be glad you did.

What have we missed, all these years of cramming Victor Fleming’s vision onto the small screen?

Scarecrow

The special effects that stand up to any modern CGI. It starts with a tornado more terrifying and realistic than anything in Twister and continues with the appearances and disappearances of the witches in a plume of red smoke and ethereal bubble, flawlessly woven into the film.  The matte painting backdrops throughout the film convey a sense of scale and scope to make Oz seem like a complete world, far bigger than just the parts Dorothy visits.

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Sleepy Hollow banner

By Elizabeth C. Bunce

It’s no secret that we at borg.com are big fans of Roberto Orci and Alex Kurtzman.  The longtime writing partners have found success reimagining classic stories from Hercules: The Legendary Journeys to Star Trek.  It looks like the two have brought us another hit in a similar vein with Fox’s new spooky drama Sleepy Hollow, which premiered last night.

Featuring a cast of familiar favorites like Clancy Brown (Starship Troopers, The Shawshank Redemption), Orlando Jones (Drumline, Office Space), and John Cho (Star Trek 2009, Hawaii 5-0), along with relative newcomers Tom Mison and Nicole Beharie, Sleepy Hollow brings back to life (ahem) Washington Irving’s classic characters of Ichabod Crane and the headless Hessian horseman, now terrorizing modern day Sleepy Hollow, New York (Salisbury, North Carolina).  Mison plays Crane, and in Kurtzman’s and Orci’s hands, Irving’s awkward schoolteacher has become a history professor turned Revolutionary War soldier who shoots and beheads the faceless mercenary in battle, before falling himself.  As the show opens, Crane awakes in a cave, claws his way out of his grave, and finds himself dodging traffic on a 2013 highway. It’s a well done nod to the eerie roadway traversed by Crane in the classic story.

Sleepy Hollow cast photo

Over the next hour, we follow Crane and Sleepy Hollow cop Abbie Mills (Beharie) as they unravel a mystery that begins with the beheading of Mills’s partner, Sheriff August Corbin (Brown, alas) and grows into a centuries-spanning supernatural conspiracy.  Beharie shines as the ambitious lieutenant eager to graduate to the big leagues of the FBI, willing to take risks and defy orders to get to the bottom of a mystery that’s plagued her since childhood.  But the standout performance is undoubtedly Mison’s.  With his worn frock coat and disheveled hair, he just looks the part of a slightly mad time traveler desperately trying to find his feet in an altogether too strange–and ultimately too familiar–new world.

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Creepy Little Girls part 11

The writers at borg.com have one fear in scary movies that seems to trump all others–creepy little girls.  From The Shining to The Ring to the new gothic horror flick We Are What We Are, we’d all just as soon duck in the corner and cover our heads than to watch another movie with the single element that makes you run out of the theater or jump out of your seat every time some evil filmmaker writes them into a script.

We’ve discussed this strange horror element before here at borg.com, with Elizabeth C. Bunce’s review of The Alphabet Killer and her list of Halloween video recommendations, in Jason McClain’s preview of The Woman in Black, in my Halloween recommended viewing list, in Art Schmidt’s favorite horror film list, and Jason McClain’s video recommendations.

We Are What We Are

All in, we’ve logged 11 scary flicks with one or more creepy little girls–enough so that we think it qualifies as its own sub-genre–and not only do we acknowledge them we recommend them, too.  They are The Ring, The Exorcist, Let Me In, Paranormal Activity 3, Watcher in the Woods, The Sixth Sense, The Shining, The Alphabet Killer, Turn of the Screw, The Others, and The Woman in Black.  Yes, they give us the heebie geebies, but if we want to see something that gets us to lift up our feet in the theater seats, it seems the secret weapon for filmmakers is clear.

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Broadchurch Tennant and Whittaker

By Elizabeth C. Bunce

Two episodes down and we at borg.com seem to be the only viewers utterly underwhelmed by BBC America’s hotly-anticipated new import, Broadchurch.  Lured in by trailers featuring some of our genre favorites, including Jodie Whittaker (Attack the Block), David Tennant, and Arthur Darvill (both, Doctor Who), we eagerly cleared our schedule and tuned in, expecting the sort of dazzling drama that series like The Hour and Life on Mars have led us to expect from BBC.  We won’t tell you what happened next (it makes borg.com TV reviewer Elizabeth C. Bunce seem soulless), and we won’t waste the bandwidth trying to shout over the accolades.  Instead, we’re putting our energy into giving other disappointed viewers what they really wanted from the eight-part series.  Unfortunately for many American viewers, several of these shows have not yet made it to Region 1 (U.S.) DVD, but they are well worth tracking down.

If you tuned in to see…

Whittaker in Marchlands

Jodie Whittaker as a grieving mum, try Marchlands  (reviewed earlier this year here at borg.com)

The luminous Jodie Whittaker gives a haunting, nuanced performance as a young mother trying to come to terms with the disappearance of her daughter, while stifled by life at her in-laws’ home and the judgement of local villagers.  Also starring Denis Lawson (Bleak House, Star Wars) and Doctor Who’s own River Song, Alex Kingston (Arrow), Marchlands is a complex look at the lingering resonance of one family’s tragedy.  Plus there are ghosts, which in borg.com’s opinion is always a bonus.  (And if you love Marchlands then you’ll want to see the follow-on series Lightfields we also reviewed here).

Morrissey and Tennant in Viva Blackpool

David Tennant investigating a murder in an idyllic seaside village, check out Viva Blackpool (just Blackpool in the UK)

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Robin balloon at Comic-Con

By Jason McClain (@JTorreyMcClain) in San Diego

In contrast to an upcoming post about Concrete Volume 1: “Depths”, I saw the magic of work on display Saturday at Comic-Con.  I attended three panels and they all gave me a glimpse of those special relationships that develop between co-workers.  From Matt Smith calling Steven Moffat “Moff” and Steven “Fat” telling Matt that he’ll be dying soon (on Doctor Who), you could tell a bond had developed.  The Being Human panel featured a question from an audience member named Audrey and that led Sam Huntington to comment that was his daughter’s name.  Then came a whole riff on whether or not this was his daughter time-traveling from the future, and then when Sam Witwer was on the other end of Audrey’s question, eventually Meaghan Rath dropped the mic and left the stage as it was one of many questions directed Sam W.’s way.  The smiles back and forth between those three and the continual riffing revealed how close they were.  However, neither came close to meeting the emotion of the Warehouse 13 panel.

(I so wish I had photos to share with you of Warehouse 13, but my phone died.  I would have looked to the ceiling, clenched my fists and yelled, “PHONE!” but I didn’t want to interrupt the panel.)

The first emotion – excitement.  The panel started out like any other with introductions of the participants.  When the moderator came to Eddie McClintock, I didn’t see him up on stage because he ran up one of the aisles of the Indigo Ballroom as a human version of a t-shirt cannon.

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