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Archive for September, 2013


Enders Game final trailer

Ender’s Game has long been on borg.com’s list of books we’d like to see adapted to film.  We’ve been waiting nearly a year now for the November 2013 release of Ender’s Game, starring Asa Butterfield, Harrison Ford and Ben Kingsley, since we included Ender’s Game as one of the 24 coming movies to see in 2013.  We featured the first trailer for Ender’s Game here at borg.com as well as a ton of the videos released this past July at San Diego Comic-Con International, where Summit Entertainment featured a great exhibit for the movie.

What is probably the final trailer leading up to the release is here.  Check it out:

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Room 237 biking

More so than Stanley Kubrick’s A Clockwork Orange, 2001: A Space Odyssey, or The Shining, writer/director Rodney Ascher’s documentary Room 237 seeks and finds the heart of obsession and insanity.

But that’s not necessarily a good thing.

Documentaries often feature thought-provoking, intelligent, smart people with some appropriate credentials espousing new theories.  You will likely walk away from Room 237 thinking your own descriptive words about the participants in the film.  These may include:  Eccentrics.  Crackpots.   Batshit crazy.  Although the film gives these participants ample opportunity to prove their theories, and despite some obvious effort on their part, no rational person would likely use these words to describe them by film’s end:  Geniuses.  Visionaries.  Lucid.

The title Room 237 comes from the numbered hotel room in the Kubrick film adaptation of Stephen King’s The Shining, where a lot of the terrifying horror plot is centered.  (King reportedly hated Kubrick’s adaptation of his book).  The documentary is predominantly the voices of five fanatics who have watched The Shining far too many times for their own good, who we never actually see in the film.  The voices are carried over clips of a variety of Kubrick movies that serve to attempt to prove the theories being discussed.  Room 237 was acclaimed by a number of critics and was named an official selection at the 2012 Sundance Film Festival and nominated for several other awards.

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Loki in Thor the Dark World

Each new preview of the November 2013 release Thor: The Dark World gets us that much more anxious for its release.  Earlier this year we previewed a teaser here and trailer here at borg.com for the follow-up to The Avengers and the 2011 Thor starring Chris Hemsworth and Anthony Hopkins.  The first full trailer was pretty extensive, maybe revealing a little too much, but this newer version is a bit more fun, showing up in theaters and on TV screens since Wednesday.  It focuses on Natalie Portman’s character Jane Foster and Tom Hiddleston’s superbly played, villain-we-can’t-get-enough-of, Loki.

Thor and hammer

After The Avengers, fans of the Marvel Comics characters are waiting for the next movie to rival that blockbuster.  Iron Man 3 didn’t seem to be that movie, so maybe this one will deliver the goods?

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michael-j-fox-wnbc

What would it take to get me to watch a family-centered network sitcom?  Apparently, Michael J. Fox.

When I previewed the new NBC series The Michael J. Fox Show this May here at borg.com I was worried the show about a “TV personality who left TV when he got Parkinson’s disease and was making a comeback” would be cringeworthy.  Lucky for fans of Fox, the series pilot wasn’t cringeworthy at all, but just plain funny.

If you’re going to be risky, if you’re going to blatantly mirror reality and poke fun at every aspect of what you’re trying to do with a series, from “a very special” appearance on a morning show, to characters laughing out loud at the daily trials of the family of a guy with a disability, to that NBC promo showing the heroic slow motion return of a celebrity named Mike, well you damned well better nail it.  The tight writing and comic timing of the writers for The Michael J. Fox Show as well as Fox himself and a strong supporting cast of fresh new faces accomplished all they needed to: Get the audience to stay around for Episode 2, which aired immediately after the pilot.  Last night’s two half-hour episodes are a case study in the rewards of walking a tightrope and the big payoff you can get from that success with so much at stake.

Fox is back

When Michael J. Fox left Spin City it was a major downer for everyone–beyond our compassion for him as a person for his rough road ahead–it was like the guy was being snuffed out from entertaining us anymore, way too soon, like when Christopher Reeve was injured in his horse riding accident.  Fox, Canada’s number one gift to the world, defines what it means to be loved by audiences.  I don’t think it’s about Family Ties or Spin City so much as that quirky kid Marty McFly in Back to the Future.  We lost Fox to some disease, but now we get him back, and more than just as a guest character on someone else’s show.

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Robinson Robot

I was lucky to catch up with an aspiring creator of short films who has a love for the sci-fi vision of the future as seen through the viewfinder of the past–U.S. filmmaker Michael Prestage.  His films harken back to everything from 1950s serials and commercials to 1960s cartoons like Fractured Fairy Tales, old NASA films, and even the live-action series Tales of the Riverbank.  Michael has a great eye for styles of the past and you could easily see his work used in modern marketing and commercials or to help create the setting for motion pictures taking place in decades past.

I interviewed Michael about three short films, which I am posting in their entirety here.  First, check out Michael’s recent competition entry in the 2013 Firefox Flicks contest:

CB:  Michael, thanks for sharing your work with us today.  Please tell us about your work on Tale of the Firefox.

MP:  Tale of the Firefox was a project that came ridiculously close to never happening.  It was past midnight when I remembered I’d left my PC on in the other room and went to go shut it down.  I got there and there was this little blurb that had popped up sometime in the interim, imploring Firefox users to enter their short film contest proclaiming the virtues of Firefox.  I like Firefox as much as the next person, I’ve been using since the 56k days, but I ran the prospect over my brain cells and I came up dead empty.  I said to hell with it, shut the PC down and forgot about it… or, so I thought.  Lo and behold, I wake up the next morning, grab a scrap of paper and start madly scratching out this offbeat story about a cherubic little kid suddenly finding himself tossed into this creepy netherworld.

CB:  I love the narration that sounds just like someone out of the 1960s.  Was that you or someone else’s voice?

MP:  I’d hit upon the idea of placing my pocket voice recorder inside this old NASA floodlight that I’d been noticing for some time to have unusual resonating properties.  I spent the rest of an afternoon reciting my narration into the amphitheater-shaped lamp, and by that night I had my narrative track laid down exactly as it plays in the completed short.

CB:  How long did Tale of the Firefox take to create?

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Star Trek Visual Dictionary banner

Most people would think twice before buying a book that only contained 96 pages.  No matter the subject, it’s a low page count, and unless you’re looking at books for little kids most adults would pass.  You’d be missing a gem of a compilation were you to pass up the photo-packed Star Trek: The Visual Dictionary Published by DK, the publishing house known for over-sized hardcovers full of lavish, detailed photography on a variety of subjects, Star Trek: The Visual Dictionary delivers where recent Star Trek books have come up short.

As we discussed in past reviews here at borg.com, the Star Trek Vault and Star Trek: The Next Generation 365 both suffered from poor quality photographs and images featured in their book design that were simply too small to glean much detail.  Star Trek: The Visual Dictionary delivers exactly what it promises, rare imagery and props from the studio archives, including material from all five live-action TV series and the first ten Star Trek movies.  DK’s high-quality, many over-sized, images provide fans with a unique opportunity to see Star Trek characters, aliens, and technology in a level of detail that hasn’t been achieved in a full-color Star Trek volume since the Michael Westmore and Alan Sims book Star Trek: Aliens & Artifacts released 13 years ago.

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Smulders in Agents of SHIELD pilot

Tonight, at last, ABC premieres Joss Whedon’s new TV series Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.  Expanding from the mega-hit movie series of superhero flicks that led up to last year’s The Avengers, Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. is taking a queue from the CW’s DC Comics series Arrow:  It will focus on the non-superhero aspects of the comic book universe, introducing a new team of characters to help explain this shadow organization called S.H.I.E.L.D.

We work the cases S.H.I.E.L.D. hasn’t classified.  We investigate the bizarre.  The strange.  The unknown.  To protect the ordinary from the extraordinary.  Welcome to Level 7.

marvel_agents_of_shield_banner

Don’t look for Samuel L. Jackson’s Nick Fury or Iron Man, The Hulk, Thor, or any of the other major Marvel superheroes, at least in the initial episodes, although there may be known Marvel villains in the first season.  But look for two major links to the Marvel movies in tonight’s premiere.  First is a visit from Agent Maria Hill, played by Cobie Smulders.  Smulders’ performance as Hill elevated the S.H.I.E.L.D. agent to near-superhero status in The Avengers.  Her major role and performance left us all begging for more, so we hope we get to see her more than in just the series pilot.

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Maslany as Katja and Sarah on Orphan Black

With the snoozefest that is the annual Emmy Awards, what better time than to recognize the best acting performance and series of 2013 with a review of the DVD/Blu-ray release of BBC America’s Orphan Black?  It’s a shame that there is not one major award show that praises the best acting of the year–pitting the best of films against the best of TV and best actors against actresses.  Our win for 2013 “all-around, male or female” would be easily handed to Tatiana Maslany for her too-many-to-count characterizations on Orphan Black’s inaugural season.  If you watch the garden variety of shows and performers that were nominated for Emmys this year (and every year ineptly seem to be nominated for Emmys ad nauseam) and you don’t know what we mean, then now is the time to review for yourself this ground-breaking dramatic science fiction series on DVD and Blu-ray.

We previously reviewed here at borg.com at the beginning of the season here and at the end of season one here.  In the latter we listed the five major roles played by Maslany.  For our “best performance, male or female” of the year award we would nominate first, “Maslany as Sarah Manning,” along with “Maslany as Alison Hendrix,” and “Maslany as Cosima Niehaus.”  For our “best supporting performance of the year, male or female” award we’d nominate “Maslany as Helena,” but then we’d add some other roles we hadn’t mentioned earlier that would help cinch the “best all around, male or female” award for Maslany.

orphan-black-season-one-blu-ray

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The Star Wars #2 cover

If you picked up the first issue to J.W. Rinzler and Mike Mayhew’s The Star Wars then you already have probably added The Star Wars to your pull list at your local comic book store.  If you think all the good stuff was included in the first issue, then you’ll be happy to know the action and excitement doesn’t wane with Issue #2.  In fact, after Issue #1 required adequate room for the introduction of characters, Issue #2 beams forward with non-stop action.  If you missed Issue #1 check out our earlier review here then run to your comic book store now to get a copy and see what all the buzz is about.

Middle-aged Jedi General Luke Skywalker has a heightened sense that everything is wrong on the planet Aquilae.  Appealing to the king for a declaration of war against the Empire, he draws trepidation from the peace-loving royals.  What does the future hold for Skywalker, his new padawan, and his protectees?  Luke Skywalker never looked better and Annikin Starkiller may very well be your next favorite Star Wars character.

McQuarrie variant cover The Star Wars 2

Ralph McQuarrie variant cover The Star Wars Issue #2.

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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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