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Archive for December, 2012


Dark Horse 122112 A

Still here?  If anything else, the Mayan myths in the book the Popul Vuh illustrate the enduring power of storytelling.  2,500 years later and people are still paying attention to a far long ago tradition and culture.

So Dark Horse Comics has used 12-21-2012 as an opportunity for you to get just one last comic book read in, all with an appropriate doomsday theme.  Which will you pick?

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Django Unchained comic book 1 cover

Review by C.J. Bunce

Although the latest word from the various Django Unchained websites is that despite the cancellation of its world premiere it will be released on Christmas Day as planned.  Yesterday Vertigo Comics released Issue #1 of 5 of the Django Unchained comic book adaptation, including the entire first draft script of the film written by director Quentin Tarentino.  Tarentino provides a forward where he lists his various Western comic book inspirations behind the story and reveals that, like his several other films, much of the story must be edited and left on the production floor.  His fanboy status with the Western comic book genre is obvious and engaging.  With the new five-issue comic book series, both he and Scalped artist R.M. Guera include not only what we’ll see on-screen but all the scenes deleted from the film.

Already nominated for several Golden Globe Awards, Django Unchained has offered us a great “D” is silent” marketing campaign, including trailers revealing the plot of a slave in the Civil War-era South named Django who is enlisted by a bounty hunter who needs Django to identify three wanted men.  It’s an uncomfortable setting and premise by design, and the comic book offers up the introduction of the main characters and initial story conflicts, which include some real-world 1800s violence and prejudices.  The Django Unchained blog offers up what it was like for the actors to be bombarded daily with the “n” word, for example.  In light of the dark world explored in the comic book, it does seem like Tarentino would be lying to viewers by not including 1800s prejudices and language.  So be ready for that if you check out the comic book or movie.

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Pacific Rim very big teeth

It’s December, and that means holiday movie releases, which means we’re getting bombarded with movie trailers.  That includes a film focusing on the heir-apparent to the classic Japanese mega-monster, Godzilla.  At Comic-Con this year, Warner Brothers and Legendary Pictures started some buzz for a new monster movie by Guillermo del Toro, simply titled Pacific Rim, with giveaways of an eye-catching exclusive teaser poster (the newly released poster is to the right):

Pacific Rim rare Comic-Con poster   Pacific Rim new poster

A fun mini-teaser was released last week, and it may peak your interest further:

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Star Trek Into Darkness The Brig

Does anyone else think J.J. Abrams might kill off Captain Kirk at the end of the next Trek film, Star Trek Into Darkness?   Just look at that image at the end of the Japanese teaser trailer.   Look at the tears in the eyes of the entire crew.  If they could kill off Mr. Spock in the first Star Trek II, why not Kirk this time?  Then in Star Trek:  The Search for Kirk, Spock must figure out how to merge back into the original timeline to bring back Kirk?  Better yet, give us a movie or two to see what it would be like without Kirk.  Hmm…

Back to the subject in the title…

Didn’t we just see the first trailer for the sequel to 2009’s Star Trek reboot, titled Star Trek Into Darkness?  That’s right, we featured the first trailer here just ten days ago, along with an extended version released in Japan, and already we have another one.

It’s not the nine-minute preview that some got to see in front of certain showings of The Hobbit last weekend.  We’re anxiously waiting for that preview to hit the Internet.

Kirk and lens flares

Abrams returns as director, packing his lens flares and ready for action.

Meanwhile more has been released about Star Trek Into Darkness’s secret characters revealed by Movieline.com this week.  If you’re not afraid of spoilers check it out for some great details.  The high level disclosure by Abrams & Co. is that Benedict Cumberbatch is playing BALOK!  (OK, not really–but wouldn’t that be awesome?)  Actually he’s playing a terrorist named John Harrison, a non-lead background character from the original TV series, evidently now changed into a force of evil and major player by the new events and timeline shown in Star Trek 2009. 

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After Earth

If you didn’t get to see The Hobbit this weekend in theaters you may have missed the release of the first trailer for M. Night Shyamalan’s new sci-fi movie, After Earth, starring Will Smith and Jaden Smith.

We first discussed After Earth here at borg.com earlier this year when we reviewed the comic book prequel from Dynamite Comics leading up to the film.  The first trailer seems pretty bleak–not as exciting and interesting as the book we reviewed.  But like many first trailers and teasers, the first look is often holding back a lot, to be released bit by bit as we get closer to the full release, so we’ll reserve judgment until we see a lot more.  Will Smith alone will likely get people into theaters for this one.

Here is the first trailer released for After Earth:

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Beanstalk

By Elizabeth C. Bunce

Regular readers know that we’re big fairy tale fans here at borg.com.  And we’ve been outspoken about strong female characters in several recent screen adaptations.  But even we can admit that there are some fine tales out there featuring guys, and we were certainly not complaining last night when this trailer for Bryan Singer’s Jack the Giant Slayer premiered opening night at The Hobbit.

Here is the first trailer for Jack the Giant Slayer:

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Hobbit still

By C.J. Bunce

Director Peter Jackson could have sat back with his Academy Awards for the brilliant The Lord of the Rings trilogy and relished in what he had done.  Instead he took on the risk of conquering Middle Earth again, and in doing so he did something I’ve never seen anyone do before, make a fourth entry into a major movie franchise that surpassed all prior films.  And that’s a hefty feat considering what The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey is being compared to.  But in end-to-end storytelling, cinematography, casting, acting, adaptation of J.R.R. Tolkien’s source work, spirit and heart, this first installment of The Hobbit trilogy can’t be beat.

Martin Freeman’s Bilbo Baggins presents a Hobbit in goodness on par with Samwise and with a strength of purpose on par with the King of Gondor.  You cannot rave enough about Martin Freeman’s facial expressions and movements as the put-upon Hobbit.  Richard Armitage’s Thorin Oakenshield pulls together the best of Faramir and Aragorn, yet his characterization is fully fleshed out in its own right with a brilliantly laid out character arc that took Aragorn three movies to achieve.

Merry band

It is hard to believe that someone can take a band of 13 dwarves and make most of them individually compelling.  You may get lost in Ken Stott’s wise old dwarf Balin and forget he is a dwarf–this wise soul and sturdy character speak loudly throughout the story.  Aidan Turner’s cocky and plucky Kili will make you laugh at every turn in the way we saw Merry and Pippin in the LOTR movies.  And the nature of The Hobbit story targeted as a younger audience vs the themes of The Lord of the Rings books means many more comical moments here, despite a dark and eerie adventure.  Peter Jackson’s film looks so good that he makes it all look so easy.

Ian McKellan’s Gandalf the Grey is back, and you only wish we could see ten more adventures featuring the best wizard ever presented on-screen.  We also meet a friendlier Elrond of the Elves played again by Hugo Weaving.  An “epilogue” featuring Elijah Wood and original Bilbo actor Ian Holm at the movie’s beginning bridges The Hobbit right up to the scene before Frodo first meets up with Gandalf in The Fellowship of the Ring.  We also meet Cate Blanchett’s Galadriel again.  Although it is likely these LOTR characters were not needed for this movie, it’s a fun reunion for fans of the earlier films, and it also allows us an excuse to see the splendor and hear the sounds of nature at New Zealand’s Hobbiton.

The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey

The 3D imaging and cinematography surpass any film to date in pretty much every way.  Where CGI characters in all past sci-fi and fantasy franchises never quite got right the realism of key characters or at best “almost” got it right, you will not see the same odd movements or doubt the believability of these unreal creatures, especially Barry Humphries’ (Dame Edna!?) Great Troll.  And Andy Serkis’s Gollum looks even better than he did before.

Classic scenes from the original novel, like the arrival of the dwarves at Bilbo’s house and the riddle game between Bilbo and Gollum are just simply perfect.  Special effects and new film wizardry present too many examples of incredible cinema to list, but even something as simple as feeling like you’re sitting across the table from a bunch of dwarves is better than the effects of most other films.  Then there are other scenes, like the delicate carrying across a canyon of a wounded dwarf by a giant eagle’s talons, that reflect a fillmaking magic act in and of itself.

Balin

Although some may see the beginning half of the movie as slow, the measured pace will be savored by others, and the pace allows you to see every axe swing in each action scene instead of the blurred battles in most recent action movies.  You can also admire the stitches and buttons and armor of the costumes, the excellent crafted props like smartly forged swords and a key to a hidden door, as well as the stunning environments, including a return to the beautiful waterfalls at Rivendell.  The story then propels at a breakneck pace to the end, including overhead scenes of the band of dwarves as they move through mountain passes, and we meet a quirky and noble new wizard named Radagast the Brown played by Sylvester McCoy (the Seventh Doctor!) and his speedy team of sled rabbits who lead a mercenary pack of trolls and wolves away from the story’s heroes on their quest.

Martin Freeman as Bilbo

Two singing numbers by the elves are surprisingly good, one upbeat and one not, and the filmmakers use the more somber, reverent tune by the dwarves in a more upbeat version for the film’s end credits–and it’s a great song.

You’ll want to see this first of three installments of The Hobbit again and again.  The only negative:  the next installment, subtitled The Desolation of Smaug, is not out until December 13, 2013.

Man of Steel clip 2

We discussed a teaser trailer for Man of Steel released at Comic-Con earlier this year, but we now have a full version showing very clearly a dark, operatic tone for the new Superman movie.  The theme is “Is the world ready for Superman?”  Fans are familiar with a spirited, positive and upbeat Superman so the theme for audiences may be “Is the world ready for a dark Superman movie?”  Even Christopher Reeve’s Superman II, which appears now to be the clear inspiration for the new Man of Steel, didn’t look as dark as this trailer.  But in any incarnation of Superman, would any Jonathan Kent ever value his kid’s anonymity over saving a bunch of kids?  Doesn’t seem quite right, does it?  And Kevin Costner sure seems young as Kent’s adoptive dad.

Check out the new trailer for Man of Steel, and fair warning, like a lot of trailers lately, they seem to giveaway a bunch of story elements here:

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Play Doh SW

Some toys are timeless.  Once upon a time I or one of my siblings received every single gift on this list under the Christmas tree, and we got hours and hours of use out of these.  Some bring out the creative in us.  Some are just plain fun.  But all of them are classics, and we’re lucky that, with a little effort we can still find each of them, if not under the original brand name, then re-marketed but containing the full spirit of the original.  Check these out, listed in no particular order, with links to the quickest way to find these for your gift giving list via Amazon.com.

Viewmaster

View-Master — If you’re not interested in recently available subject matter reels for this classic 3D image camera, then go to any antique sale in any town and you’ll likely find boxes of the old packets of three reels, ranging in subjects anywhere from Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan, to the Apollo Moon Landing to The Six Million Dollar Man TV series to every travel destination on Earth.  All you need is a basic viewer.  We picked up an original Sawyer’s black 1939 camera on a visit to the birthplace of the View-Master, Portland, Oregon, and it works the same as the classic 1970s red one you remember.  The same mechanism still runs today’s viewers.  Just grab yourself (or that person on your gift list) some reels and get started.

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Oblivion

Tom Cruise as mega-hit actor pretty much can do no wrong.  Where Kevin Costner excels at boyish buffoonery, Tom Cruise plays cocky like no other.  Where Arnold Schwarzenegger plays the ultimate action hero, Tom Cruise’s trademark parts are fiercely determined and angry.  Like Arnold, if you can put aside and ignore his personal antics, his films always entertain.  Whether it’s Cruise in a small role like way back in Taps and The Outsiders, or the usual leading man role, as with A Few Good Men, Rain Man, Top Gun, War of the Worlds, the Mission: Impossible films, Minority Report, Jerry Maguire, The Last Samurai, The Color of Money, Far and Away, The Firm, or Valkyrie, his films just don’t disappoint.

Oblivion B

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