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Tag Archive: James Bond


Cruise in Jack Reacher

Tom Cruise.  No matter the character, no matter the story, no matter the director, he just can’t make a bad movie.  Last year’s release, Jack Reacher, available now on Netflix streaming and DVD and Blu-ray, is another home run.  But for the lackluster title and so-so marketing effort, Jack Reacher might have been a really big hit last year.  Cruise turns in a solid performance again, similar to his high-calibre lead acting in last year’s sci-fi release Oblivion, reviewed here at borg.com.  Later this year the 51-year-old screen legend is back again, in another sci-fi release, Edge of Tomorrow, with co-star Emily Blunt.

Jack Reacher, odd name aside, could be one of those heroes you compare to Harry Callahan, Frank Bullitt, or a Daniel Craig-era James Bond.  The character is that good, as is Cruise’s fit into the role of a smart and tough drifter who turns to the aid of a comatose defendant and his struggling defense attorney in the case of a shocking, random mass shooting.  Cruise’s drifter is also ex-military, the kind of ex-military that can take on a group of thugs by himself, and take part in a big-screen shoot-‘em up.  We see Reacher learning and growing as he tries to make all the right moves–and get constantly set back–throughout the movie, not something many films give audiences much of these days.  He thinks like a lawyer or detective and does so believably, and Cruise taps into his work in The Firm or A Few Good Men, making Reacher a good follow-on for fans of those films.

Duvall and Cruise in Jack Reacher

As Reacher attempts to find the top gunman at a rifle range, we find Robert Duvall in another great role similar to his work in A Civil Action, this time as a craggy expert with a rifle.  Along the way we meet several villains, including one played by A Good Day to Die Hard’s Jai Courtney, but far and away the most intriguing is writer/director/producer Werner Herzog as what could be a Bond villain as “Zec”.  Creepy.  Vile.  Evil.  He gives a pawn who screwed-up a choice: death, or chew off his own fingers.  Yikes.  Rosamund Pike (Surrogates, Pride and Prejudice) excels as the defense attorney in several scenes with the opportunity to convey a wide range of emotions for a single film–and cinematography by (Zooey and Emily’s dad) Caleb Deschanel (The Right Stuff, The Natural, Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter, National Treasure), gives her plenty of well-timed, stare-into-the-camera close-ups.

Rosamund Pike in Jack Reacher

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Zero Cool cover

Review by C.J. Bunce

Just two years before he would become a well-known breakout author with 1971′s Andromeda Strain, Michael Crichton wrote his fifth novel under the pseudonym John Lange, Zero Cool.  This is one of eight novels Crichton wrote in his medical school days reprinted in a new edition thanks to Titan Books’ Hard Case Crime series, and it is second in our series of reviews of these classic, “lost” novels.

Zero Cool is definitely a product of the late 1960s.  Unlike Crichton’s bulky, techno-babble filled later works, Zero Cool reads like a quick pulp novel you’d read years ago on the Greyhound bus between towns.  Completely escapist fun, its hero, American radiologist Peter Ross, is visiting places you might find in an Ian Fleming James Bond novel or Michael Dibdin’s Zen novels, and there are plenty of luxurious European settings he finds himself in over the course of the book. Crichton’s writing is tight and he seems to be close to mastering his pattern for storytelling, mixing otherwise unrelated worlds that culminate with some strange resolution you can’t see coming.

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velvet01_cover

The former Captain America creative team of Ed Brubaker and Steve Epting are back.  Tomorrow Image Comics is releasing their creator-owned spy series, Velvet.  This time, it’s not another spy book driven by a James Bond-inspired agent.  Velvet Templeton is just the secretary for the world’s greatest spy.  Or is she?  Think of Velvet as if Miss Moneypenny were a tough-as-nails secret agent in her own right.  When the world’s greatest secret agent is killed, Velvet can no longer keep her cover intact.

It’s the next hard-boiled mystery series by Fatale writer Ed Brubaker.  Steve Epting’s artwork in Issue #1 is striking and his heroine sultry and powerful.  His work is reminiscent of Mike Grell’s James Bond mini-series.  Bettie Breitweiser’s colors rounds out the triple threat behind this cool new series.

Here’s a preview of Velvet, Issue #1, for borg.com readers courtesy of Image Comics:

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CodenameAction01-Cover-Jae Lee     CodenameAction01-Cov-1 retro key

Captain Action was first introduced by Ideal Toys as a large-sized action figure in 1966 to compete with Hasbro’s G.I. Joe, although both figures were designed by the same guy, Stan Weston.  Back then the figure came with alternative costumes, including Spider-man, Green Hornet, The Phantom, The Lone Ranger, and Captain America.  A five issue comic book series was published a few years later with little to do with the figure and his ability to switch personas.  More than 30 years later Playing Mantis brought a line of toys to the market featuring the Captain Action characters.  And next week, Dynamite Comics, the publisher known for its retro series like Green Hornet, Bionic Man, Ms. Fury, The Lone Ranger, and Flash Gordon, picks up the Captain Action licensing and is introducing a mini-series to reboot the character, beginning with Codename: Action, Issue #1.

Written by Chris Roberson (Masks, Superman), with art by Jonathan Lau (Green Hornet, Bionic Man) and alternate covers by artists Jae Lee (Before Watchmen), Francesco Francavilla (Black Beetle), Johnny Desjardins (Phantom, Green Hornet), Jason Ullmeyer (Red Sonja, Vampirella), Art Baltazar (Tiny Titans), and Lau, Captain Action is the new superspy on the block complete with gadgets, a Judy Dench-type head of spy HQ, and plenty of action.  Lau and colorist Ivan Nunes really bring home the retro spy look of the 1960s, complete with a team of agents driving a 1963 Corvette as their car of choice.

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Uncanny Issue 1 Jock cover

Next Wednesday Dynamite Comics is releasing Issue #1 of a new crime series, called Uncanny.  Writer Andy Diggle and artist Aaron Campbell offer up a modern noir story about a flawed yet oddly powerful American named Weaver set in modern-day Singapore.  Uncanny is similar in many ways to many recent crime monthly comic book series.  It’s an edgy, action noir mixed with pulp spy novel crime story that will appeal to fans of Ed Brubaker and Sean Phillips’ Fatale, Brian Azzarello and Eduardo Risso’s 100 Bullets, and Jason Aaron and RM Guera’s Scalped.

The update of 1930s-1940s film noir to the modern city is intriguing.  Diggle’s Weaver seems capable of being a variant on James Bond–rugged, overconfident–yet instead of running after the bad guy by all accounts Weaver seems to have created his own problems leaving him to be the man on the run.  Campbell’s art deftly balances the bright lights of the city with the night-time dark tone of a man somehow caught up in the city’s underbelly.  And Campbell’s first issue of the story is heavily influenced by both the recent Bond films Casino Royale and Skyfall.  In fact, his characters, the style and setting are similar to Mike Grell’s James Bond: Permission to Die mini-series.

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Continuum Rachel Nichols cop suit

Following on the heels of the successful Canada import Lost Girl, the Vancouver based sci-fi series Continuum premiered this year on the Syfy Channel in the U.S. and it easily earns the status of best new TV series of 2013.  Like Lost Girl, the first season has already aired in Canada, and is being shown one season behind here, hopefully to catch up in the U.S. market later this year.  The series has already been renewed in Canada, and Season 2 is being filmed on location in Vancouver, B.C.  Tonight, episode four airs at 7 p.m. Central/8 p.m. Eastern on the Syfy Channel.  You’ll want to set up your DVR for this series and if you’ve missed episodes 1-3 you can still catch them on primetime Free Per View.

Continuum stars Star Trek 2009, G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra, and Conan the Barbarian’s Rachel Nichols as a British Columbia cop from the year 2077 named Kiera Cameron who gets transported back in time to 2012 where she tracks down a group of rebel terrorists who have come to the past with her.  The terrorists, who go by the name Liber8, were sentenced to death and at their execution someone smuggled in a device that created a warp field that spun the convicts back in time and sucked in security officer Cameron.  Like her cool and tough performance as Scarlet in the first G.I. Joe movie, Nichols is perfect as a no-nonsense cop, quick to act in a gunfight and several other situations she never could have trained for.

Continuum Rachel Nichols

The producers of Continuum have created the most seemingly realistic future technology here along with a creepy possible future political structure where corporations have bailed out the defaulting government and eventually taken over all its functions, taking away individual liberties from citizens.  The police force Cameron works for is in protection of this new world order, and the great twist of Continuum is having the terrorists’ ideal be a return to our political structure today.  Continuum is the series many hoped the Battlestar Galactica spinoff Caprica would be, but in only three episodes Continuum has already surpassed that other Syfy Channel series in production quality and story.

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1966 Adam West Batmobile

This weekend the Batmobile from the original 1960s Batman series sold at auction for a whopping $4.62 million by the Barrett-Jackson Auction Company.

The original Batmobile began as a unique 1955 Lincoln Futura concept car built in Italy by Ford Motor Company, which was heavily modified by legendary customizer and car creator George Barris to become the original 1966 Batmobile in both the live action TV series, and the movie adaptation starring Adam West and Burt Ward.  George Barris reportedly bought the 1955 car for $1 back in 1966 and spent $15,000 in 15 days creating the final look for the car.  The Batmobile has a V-8 engine and functional instruments in the steering wheel, as well as a push-button transmission. Barris owned the car all these years, touring the car at conventions, and finally decided to let the car go in this weekend’s auction in Scottsdale, Arizona.

Rick Champagne, a Phoenix-area logistics company owner, placed the winning bid, saying he “really liked Batman growing up”.

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The Hobbit gets a few but not enough Oscar nominations

In a year where we saw Hollywood market the worst titled movies to us–Salmon Fishing in the Yemen, The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel, and yes, Silver Linings Playbook, it’s probably no surprise the Oscar nominations were going to be strange this year.  Like always there are really glaring oddities, and after a lot of speculation that we’d see more of the same with the new round of selections, Oscar again fell into its normal traps.

The key problems with the Academy Awards include the marketing barrage that occurs, productions pushing advertising to encourage votes, and even the desire to position the Oscars toward a new, younger audience that becomes evident in more popular than critical nominees.  Over the course of several years of Oscars you see unmistakable patterns that develop and the Academy Awards nominations, if not by design then at least as a result, is its own club that favors past nominees over new entrants.  Same old news this year and more yawns than excitement.  So let’s see what they got right.

Affleck in Argo

Argo for Seven Nominations.  Argo was nominated for seven categories, including Best Picture, Supporting Actor (Alan Arkin), Adapted Screenplay, Film Editing, Original Score, Sound Editing, and Sound Mixing.  So this is all fitting for such a brilliant film.  But no nomination for director Ben Affleck?  You look at his work on Argo compared to the ultimate films up for best director and you really have to shake your head.

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Review by C.J. Bunce

Re-released in book stores last month was Kim Newman’s alternate history/fantasy/steampunk-esque novel Dracula Cha Cha Cha (formerly published as Judgment of Tears), book three of the Anno Dracula series originally released in 1998.  You need not read books one and two of the series to be able to fully dive into this incredible and bizarre parallel history story.  With vampire books taking up an entire wall at Barnes & Noble, it’s probably a good time for this dense and satisfying novel to be available again.  But what makes this even more relevant this year is that it is also an alternate history James Bond novel.  That’s right, James, here goes by the Scottish name for James, Hamish, as in Hamish Bond.  And Bond is still a spy, but he’s also a vampire, investigating Count Dracula in Rome in 1959.

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Review by C.J. Bunce

The 23rd James Bond film has a lot it must accomplish compared to other franchise movies.  On the 50th anniversary of Bond on film, director Sam Mendes had to deliver something special, more than just the latest entry in the Bond canon.  And despite Mendes’s influences, Skyfall had to be more than another Christopher Nolan action romp like the recent Batman films.  After 50 years, Bond is a British tradition, an international icon, the star of every diehard action film fan’s awaited pilgrimage every few years.  Mendes had to blend the classic with the new as each of his predecessors had, and make sure that even that was done in a new way, without copying other action film franchises like the Jason Bourne movies, as the last movie, Quantum of Solace, has been accused of.  Messing with the Bond formula is like messing with the formula for Coca-Cola.  A director of a Bond film has a delicate trapeze act to maneuver to create a successful Bond picture connecting all the elements of the Bond formula.

So how did Skyfall fair?

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