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Archive for May, 2013


Orphan Black banner

Review by Elizabeth C. Bunce

Not yet watching Orphan Black?  Here’s your chance to get caught up before the season finale on Saturday.  BBC America will be recapping the entire 10-episode season in a pre-finale marathon, starting at 11 a.m. Central.  It might be a bit much to digest in one sitting, so I recommend jumping in around episode 6 or 7, when the storylines start to converge and the major series questions are being answered, one by one—only to raise new ones.  BBC announced earlier this month that the Canadian-made sci-fi clone drama has been renewed for another 10 episodes, to air in 2014. We introduced borg.com readers to the pilot earlier this year.

And why aren’t you watching?  It’s only the smartest and most gripping show on TV right now, not to mention boasting the hardest working star, possibly, in television history.  At last count, Tatiana Maslany (Sarah, Beth, Allison, Cosima, Helena, Katja, and at least two others yet to be revealed) has acted beside herself in eight (eight!) roles as clones trying to sort out their past, present, and future.  Maslany’s brilliant performances are bolstered by top-notch dialogue that clearly distinguishes every character, along with makeup, wardrobe, movement, and supporting cast that keep all the clones (or “Orphans” in fan parlance) utterly impossible to confuse—and easy to forget they’re all Maslany.

Orphans

But if you’re just tuning in, here’s a Who’s Who of the Orphan Black Clones & Co.:

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Green Lantern 20 banner

In brightest day, in blackest night, no evil shall escape my sight.

For the past nine years Geoff Johns has been writing DC Comics’ Green Lantern monthly series, including tales interweaving the stories of Earth’s five Green Lanterns: Hal Jordan, Guy Gardner, John Stewart, Kyle Rayner, and the New 52 creation Simon Baz.  In the first DC Comics prestige format comic book in a long time, Johns says farewell to writing for Green Lantern this week in Green Lantern, Issue #20.  Although it’s not a good entry point for readers not familiar with the Green Lantern Corps, it is a must read for fans both of Geoff Johns’s writing and his many Green Lantern stories now available in various trade editions.  Johns is probably the single most important contributor to Lantern lore since O’Neil and Adams’ run in the 1970s and it’s his Hal Jordan, like it or not, that ended up in the big screen adaptation back in 2011.

Green Lantern 20 page 21

As last stories go, Johns manages to do something unprecedented with his last issue–the book seems like a memorial not only to Green Lantern Hal Jordan but oddly a memorial of sorts for Johns himself.  You might ask yourself:  Is Johns seriously ill?  Did I not get the memo?  The format begs these questions because a full nine pages are offered as mini-notes from friends and admirers of Johns congratulating him for his long run on the series.  It’s strangely self-indulgent, but if you can skip over these tombstone-like epitaph pages, the ads for the continuing Green Lantern (featuring Hal Jordan), Green Lantern Corps (featuring John Stewart), Green Lantern: New Guardians (featuring Kyle Rayner), and Red Lanterns (featuring Guy Gardner) monthly series, Johns’ sign-off note to fans and four pages documenting his past works in trade editions, there is still a complete story here, including panel art, splash pages and a fold out poster contributed by the likes of Ethan Van Sciver, Ivan Reis, Patrick Gleason, Cully Hamner, Aaron Kuder, Jerry Ordway, Christian Alamy, Mark Irwin, and Marc Deering.  I think even diehard fans of Johns would probably rather see the nine pages of commentary replaced with all of the commentary on one page in a smaller font and more story and art.

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Enterprise from Into Darkness

Review by C.J. Bunce

After more trailers than we can count, more minutes of screen-time revealed in advance, and more advertising and hype than any Star Trek film in recent memory, Star Trek Into Darkness is not only better than you’ve heard, it’s the best Star Trek movie since Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country.  Considering all my fellow uber-Trek fan friends had more negative to say than positive on this 12th motion picture entry, I was scratching my head to try to figure why this was the most fun I’ve had watching a movie in years–or maybe why they didn’t have as much fun as me.

Star Trek, the Original Series, is pretty much sacred, and not only sacred, its sacrosanct in the eyes of loyal fans, so J.J. Abrams was taking a risk by getting his claws into the franchise in 2009’s Star Trek.  When I read that he was taking on Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan material specifically, I thought he was just plain nuts.  But then I asked myself, if I had the keys to the candy store what would I do if I wanted to make my mark on the franchise?  Bring back Christopher Lloyd’s Klingon Commander Kruge or Ricardo Montalban’s regal Khan?  Kill off a main character?  Abrams did just what any of us would love to do, and I expect, this should set our expectations for what he will do with the third trilogy of the Star Wars franchise, which will have a much larger international audience and implications for Abrams’ own future.

STID

As a viewer well-versed in the minutia of Star Trek, I expected to nitpick this film to death when walking into the theater and actually put off watching the film instead of seeing it on opening weekend like I had historically viewed the past films back to Star Trek VI.  But not 15 minutes into the movie, when Kirk is being scolded by Admiral Christopher Pike (played deftly again by Bruce Greenwood) for violating the prime directive and then rightfully demoted, I was reeled into a cleverly twisting plot that delivered the goods at every level with a non-stop, action packed thrill ride that also managed to offer some of the best characterization for key roles than has been given to them in any prior Star Trek film, period.

Take for instance Simon Pegg’s Scotty.  Not since the TV series was Scotty given the opportunity to play a key role in the story of a Trek film.  Here he plants the seeds not as the throwaway silly Scottish chap, but as the moral voice for the film.  Karl Urban’s Bones similarly gets many lines–good lines– and we learn something about him other than his “wait a damn minute” grunting, which was all we ever saw from him in Star Trek: The Motion Picture through Star Trek VI.  We learn for example that he once gave a C section to a pregnant Gorn (with octuplets).  And that they bite.  Awesome!  This sheds some light on why he later would try to work on the dying Klingon ambassador in Star Trek VI.  And someone finally, onscreen, calls out Bones for his repeated metaphors.

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Dark Shadows

Review by Elizabeth C. Bunce

Seldom does a preview really do a bad movie justice.  Remember those unappealing trailers for last summer’s campy remake of the classic ‘70s cult soap opera, Dark Shadows?  Well, they kind of nailed it.  It’s not actually as gaudy and silly as the ads made it out to be, but it is fairly boring, one actor turned in the worst performance of a career, and it runs out of plot about 30 minutes in.

But those first 30 minutes!  They are so, so very watchable.  Tim Burton & Co. absolutely nailed the period gothic revival flair, calling to mind films like Burnt Offerings and anything written by Shirley Jackson.  The mood is perfectly set by a marvelous flashback sequence to the 18th century and the founding of the Collins family fortunes—and misfortunes.  When wealthy Barnabas Collins (Johnny Depp) rejects his housemaid Angelique’s (Eva Green, The Golden Compass, Casino Royale) advances in favor of a more suitable mate (Bella Heathcote), Angelique reveals her witchier side, luring Heathcote’s Josette to her death and somehow cursing Barnabas into a vampire, then leaving him locked in a coffin for the next 200 years.  This segment beautifully launches the film, which jumps ahead to the “present” (1972) and a mysterious young woman (also Heathcote) alone on a train—practicing her interview, and her alias, for a post as governess at the Collins manor house.

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Monsters-University-Mike

A few reasons we’re previewing the trailer for the prequel to Monsters, Inc., the June 2013 release Monsters University.

1.  Monsters, Inc., as a Disney/Pixar release was a pretty funny movie, with an actual plot, and with some laugh-out-loud comic dialogue of Billy Crystal and John Goodman.

2.  The trailer for Monsters University is a good one for a prequel, taking Crystal’s one-eyed Mike Wazowski to his first meeting with Goodman’s furry blue monster Sulley.

3.  The post-movie features and gag reel that played after Monsters, Inc. was one of the best shown after any movie since Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, and we hope Disney/Pixar includes more after Monsters University.

4.  This is the first time I’ve seen scenes from my own college experience reproduced in a motion picture.

5.  Just look at the great line-up of actors featured in this movie:  Nathan Fillion, Frank Oz, Steve Buscemi, Helen Mirren, Alfred Molina, Bonnie Hunt, Dave Foley, and Joel Murray.

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Worlds End cast

Shaun of the Dead’s comedy team of Simon Pegg, Nick Frost, and Martin Freeman are back this summer with a new zombie-esque flick called World’s End.  Not just a zombie apocalypse movie, World’s End is a British pub in the home town of five friends who return to complete a town-wide pub crawl.  But they soon realize there is something strange about the townspeople, and only Pegg’s character’s girlfriend, played by Die Another Day, Surrogates, and Jack Reacher’s Rosamund Pike, doesn’t realize their town has turned into Stepford–where robots have taken over.

It’s a story that could only be pulled off by Spaced, Paul and Hot Fuzz’s comedy duo of Pegg and Frost.

World's End banner

It’s great to see Martin Freeman in a role in between his stints as John Watson on Sherlock and as Bilbo Baggins in The Hobbit movies, and Simon Pegg outside his successful Star Trek and Mission Impossible franchise roles.  Spaced’s Brian Topp, Mark Heap, and Hot Fuzz’s Paddy Considine are back, too.  World’s End also features Harry Potter’s Argus Filch, David Bradley, and stars the Sherlock Holmes movies’ Inspector Lestrade, Eddie Marsan.

Enjoy these two trailers for World’s End.  First up, the international trailer:

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Animated Tony Stark Disney XD

Disney XD will air a one-hour preview to the new animated series, Marvel’s Avengers Assemble, Sunday, May 26, 2013.  The series features the entire slate of Avengers characters, including Iron Man, Captain America, Hulk, Thor, Hawkeye, and Black Widow, plus some superheroes and villains that have not yet made it to the big screen Avengers movies like Falcon and M.O.D.O.K.  The special preview airs at 10 a.m. Central Time Sunday and the regular weekly series begins its first season July 7, 2013, on the Disney XD channel.

Avengers Marvel animated

Avengers Assemble features the voice of Heroes’ Nathan Petrelli, Adrian Pasdar, in the star role as Tony Stark/Iron Man, and a slate of voice actors familiar to superhero animated series.

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The Hobbit Chronicles Creatures and Characters

If you haven’t seen the incredible bestselling book The Hobbit, An Unexpected Journey Chronicles: Art and Design, check out our earlier review here at borg.com.  It’s a superb behind the scenes look at the artistry of the real-life wizards at Weta Workshop in New Zealand.  Weta hones in on the development of various species and beasts of Middle Earth in their new companion book in the Chronicles series: The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey Chronicles–Creatures & Characters As with the earlier book in the series, Creatures & Characters features first-hand accounts from the actors, makeup artists, digital effects specialists, dialect coaches, prosthetics technicians, movement coaches, and other artists and designers from the production.  High quality, close-up and detailed photos of every major character in the film will make this a must-have for Middle Earth cosplayers.

hobbitbookchronicles2SPREADHobbitFeet2  chronicles2SPREADHobbitFeet4

Weta Workshop designer Daniel Falconer has created a book equal to the first volume he created in the series while taking a different approach to the film’s subject matter. Where the first volume highlighted costumes, props and set design, the second volume focuses on make-up, prosthetics and hair creation, casting the actors for the differing Middle Earth races, stunt and movement work, and dialect creation.  As compared to The Lord of the Rings film trilogy, The Hobbit expanded its use of digital characterization, freeing up the production to create new fantastical scenes beyond what was possible before.  Actor and second unit director Andy Serkis and Gollum’s co-creators discuss the character’s role in the story and Serkis’s creation of the character compared to his work in the original trilogy.

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3D printer at Maker Faire KC

By C.J. Bunce

Last June we first reported here at borg.com on breakthroughs in 3D printing technology allowing scientists to begin creating actual borg replacement body parts–all printed via modern 3D printers.  This included organ printing–actually printing a human jaw bone and soft tissue 3D printed artificial human heart.  Princeton scientists have created a bionic ear via 3D printing, using calf cells, polymer gel, and silver nano particles.  Oxford Performance Materials has used 3D printed plastic to make artificial bones, to replace damaged bones in humans.

Researchers have used 3D printing recently for other novel uses.

King Richard III 3D printed bust

This year Caroline Wilkinson at the University of Dundee in England used a 3D printer to show the world how King Richard III actually looked.  McGill University’s Redpath Museum has used 3D printing to replicate women’s hairstyles from ancient Egyptian mummies.  One group even put together a rudimentary rifle this year that fired a small-caliber bullet.

Make no mistake–3D printing is the technology of the future and this week NASA showed its interest by funding a $125,000 study in printing food.  It’s not a lot of money for a project with such profound possibilities, but it’s a good start.  Systems and Materials Research Corporation (SMRD) of Austin, Texas, won the contract.  A NASA representative indicated they should be able to get through phase one development with the funds.  SMRD used a prototype to print chocolate via its food synthesizer.  For the sci-fi-minded, think food replicator.

Food printing is not new.  Some news agencies like Fox News have reported in error this week that the NASA-funded project will make the world’s first 3D food printer.  Not so.  The Los Angeles company Sugar Lab and Cornell University researchers have already used 3D printers to make desert products from printed sugar, batter and corn dough.  No doubt several creators demonstrating their 3D printers at Maker Faires have used food products in their printing.

Casein coated frozen pizza

Casein coated frozen pizza–yum!

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Fall TV banner

Now that the major networks have revealed their new TV series for the Fall line-up, what of the new series is worth adding to your must-watch list?  While we’re curious about the new offerings from the cable networks, we see many reasons to at least try out the pilot for several series, based on the genre, the subject, or the inclusion of some of our favorite actors.  We previewed Marvel’s Agents of Shield last week from ABC, and no other series looks to have as much appeal for genre fans as more Joss Whedon and Marvel characters.  But we’ve found 15 of the two dozen new series that have some reason to take notice, many with trailers that have been released with the announcements.  But be warned, despite some great actors, many of these previews look pretty bad and we’re only posting the trailers for you to judge for yourself.  if you want to save time, go directly to the previews for Almost Human, The Michael J. Fox Show, Dracula, and Sleepy Hollow, which look like the best of the new series the Fall has to offer–at least from the networks.

ABC

Moving past Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., the reason you might give Back in the Game a try is because of the lead, Psych’s Maggie Lawson, as well as James Caan.  It looks like a comedy version of Clint Eastwood’s Trouble with the Curve.  As much as we like Lawson and Caan, we’ll probably skip this one.  Check it out for yourself:

ABC also has a spinoff of its Once Upon a Time series, Once Upon a Time in Wonderland We gave Once Upon a Time a try in its first season and it held our interest for several episodes because of series lead Jennifer Morrison, but an Alice in Wonderland spinoff?  The trailer makes this look better than Once upon a Time and it looks like more of a sequel than a real tie-in to Once Upon a Time.  And it does have John Lithgow playing the White Rabbit.  Check it out:

NBC

The only reason we’ll mention Welcome to the Family is because of lead Mary McCormack, who we loved on In Plain Sight.  Other than that it looks like just another Parenthood series with an overdone culture-clash theme.  Here’s the trailer:

Michael J. Fox is returning to TV with The Michael J. Fox Show.  On paper the description of this show looked almost cringe-worthy:  a series about a celebrity named Mike returning to TV who left to deal with his Parkinson’s.   But then you watch the trailer and only Michael J. Fox could make this look hilarious.  This series may be a very big win:

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