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Raya and the Last Dragon is the next animated Disney movie, coming later this winter.  Every new look at the film is more exciting than the last, and this is shaping up to be the next Mulan or MoanaRaya and the Last Dragon is entirely computer animated.  It features the voices of Kelly Marie Tran (Star Wars: The Last Jedi) as Raya, a warrior heroine who is seeking the Last Dragon, named Sisu, voiced by comedy actor Awkwafina (Jumanji: The Next Level), all in a classically designed visual fantasy homage to The Hobbit or The Last Unicorn.  Other cast lending their voices to the film include Gemma Chan (Humans, Captain Marvel) as Namaari, Raya’s chief rival and frenemy, Benedict Wong (Doctor Strange) as giant warrior Tong, and Daniel Dae Kim (Hellboy) as Raya’s father.

Here’s the second trailer for Raya and the Last Dragon:

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Review by C.J. Bunce

British television series that make their way to America tend to be refreshing in that each new show is incredibly different from the last.  No matter how many times Americans catch the latest Brit/Irish/Scot police procedural, it’s nearly impossible to follow how each level of government polices, and manages the policing, of its citizenry.  That quirk doesn’t get more pronounced than in the opener to The Salisbury Poisonings, a four-part series airing Monday evenings on AMC.  The series will likely mean less to those on this side of the pond, although the real-life attempt on the lives of a Russian spy and his daughter living in Salisbury was international news in March 2018, victims of Vladimir Putin’s spy network.  But the first episode has the kind of TV writing that should bring the show to the attention of anglophiles.

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Here’s some news that got us off to a great start this week–The Mystery Writers of America just announced its annual recognition of the mystery, crime, suspense, and intrigue genres. The annual list memorializes the anniversary of the birth of Edgar Allan Poe, and this year’s nominees for the 2021 Edgar Allan Poe Awards honor the best in mystery fiction, non-fiction, and television published or produced in 2020. The 75th Annual Edgar Awards will be celebrated on April 29, 2021.  And who is on the 2021 nominations shortlist? Our own borg contributor Elizabeth C. Bunce, for her 2020 novel Premeditated Myrtle

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Could an aircraft carrier support that kind of weight?

Warner Brothers released its new trailer (below) for the next Godzilla movie this weekend–Godzilla vs. Kong–the follow-up to the 2019 sequel Godzilla: King of the Monsters (reviewed here at borg).  It’s one of the hundreds of movies delayed by the COVID-19 pandemic, this one originally scheduled for a Thanksgiving week 2019 release.  The next effort of U.S. studios to one-up the Japanese kaiju genre doesn’t try to hide what it is: what the director calls a “massive monster brawl,” a straightforward mash-up of MUTOs (massive unidentified terrestrial organisms).  It merges the 2017 King Kong reboot Kong: Skull Island, and the Godzilla reboot story centered around the secret agency Monarch, which began with the 2014 Gareth Edwards-directed Godzilla.  For this fourth film in Legendary Pictures “MonsterVerse,” young director Adam Wingard brings back Godzilla storyline characters played by Millie Bobby Brown and Kyle Chandler and adds familiar action stars new to the franchise Eiza González (Bloodshot) and Brian Tyree Henry (Spider-Man: Into the Spider-verse).  It doesn’t look like any characters are being brought over from the Kong franchise.

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Review by C.J. Bunce

A cyborg Red Sonja?  Red Sonja with a gun?  A Sonja multiverse?  “Purple Sonja?”

One Sonja to rule them all–into the Sonjaverse.  What Dynamite Comics bills as “the most important comic book to ever come out in the history of the world” is at a minimum likely to become the publisher’s biggest book of the year.  Some ideas are “money” and that is true for a story of Red Sonja in her own multiverse.  It’s coming the first Wednesday in February with the arrival of the first issue of Sonjaversal, a new, awesome, action book full of all kinds of fun.  An evil force is punishing parallel world versions of Sonja by forcing each Sonja to kill the other.  Who will stop the madness before there is only one Sonja left standing?

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Jules Verne’s novel The Lighthouse at the End of the World was written in 1901, but published posthumously in 1905, about a band of pirates seizing control of a lighthouse that lit a path for ships through an important straight in the South Atlantic.  Comic book writers David Hine and Brian Haberlin are taking that time period and flipping it into the distant future in their new adaptation, a five-issue series called Jules Verne’s Lighthouse, coming this spring from Image Comics.  Don’t confuse this with the 2019 movie Lighthouse starring Willem Dafoe and Robert Pattinson–that was an adaptation of Edgar Allan Poe’s unfinished story “The Light-House.”  In this story, at the edge of the galaxy lies a giant supercomputer known as the Lighthouse.  Not a beacon so much as an advanced air traffic control for spaceships navigating wormholes, this Lighthouse is manned by a small group living for years in peace, until the arrival of space pirates.

Check out a preview of the first issue below.

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It was only a little more than six years ago that we were discussing here at borg the first trailer for the first reboot of The Equalizer What would become two major action blockbusters starred Denzel Washington as Robert McCall, a role originally cast in the 1980s by British actor Edward Woodward in a successful four-season television series.  Denzel proved exactly what we believed:  What made McCall’s character had nothing to do with the color of his skin.  In fact Washington’s retired former special ops operative was one of the best badass action characters to hit the big screen in the past decade–Washington truly made the character his own.  Next month the series gets its second reboot as Queen Latifah fills in the shoes as lead heroine, playing not Robert but Robyn McCall in the new network TV series The Equalizer Check out the trailer for the series below.

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Doctor Who fans are all familiar with The Master.  More enemy of the Doctor than friend, for 50 years–since January 1971–the original Whovian frenemy has menaced the show’s hero at every turn.  A Timelord in his own right, he regenerates like the Doctor, which has resulted in nine actors playing the character in 107 series episodes.  In the era of the 12th Doctor played by Peter Capaldi, the role was played by the brilliant Michelle Gomez, who would go on to create another show-stopping villain in The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina.  In the incarnation as Missy, she became the very best feature of the 12th Doctor’s story lines.  This spring a new limited series from Titan Comics, Doctor Who: Missy, celebrates the 50th year of this notorious villain.

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Thirty-seven years after the premiere of the cult film The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai Across the 8th Dimension, the screenplay writer has penned a sequel.  For fans of the quirky sci-fi movie, this sequel was of the eagerly-awaited variety.  You’re about to get your money’s worth as Earl Mac Rauch, who wrote the script and a novelization of the movie, is delivering the hefty, 568-page volume this summer, available now for pre-order here at Amazon.  With another long title, Buckaroo Banzai Against the World Crime League et al, –A Compendium of Evils, continues the adventures of the scientist-surgeon-entertainer-daredevil played by Peter Weller.

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In the graphic novel 47 Ronin, independent comics pioneer Mike Richardson (Star Wars: Crimson Empire) and Japanese-born American legendary comics artist Stan Sakai (Usagi Yojimbo) re-created the famed 1700-1701 historical event of a group of loyal Japanese ronin (leaderless samurai) who avenged the death of their leader.  The award-winning book from Dark Horse Comics is filled with action and intrigue, a dramatic account of the importance of loyalty, sacrifice, persistence, and honor that influenced the culture of Japan ever since.  Initially released in hardcover, at last the graphic novel is getting its first trade paperback edition.  The more affordable edition is available for pre-order now here at Amazon and we have a look inside for borg readers below.

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