Archive for May, 2014


Bacon and Bridges in RIPD

Somehow the adaptation of the Dark Horse Comics series, R.I.P.D., came and went last year with little fanfare and plenty of negative reviews.  Did the critics simply not understand the film?  Most seemed lazy and dismissed it as a Men in Black knockoff.  Admittedly it’s a good film, not a great film, yet it has so much going for it that you may want to check it out now that it’s out on Blu-ray and DVD.

R.I.P.D. stands for the Rest in Peace Department.  Like the Men in Black, this worldwide squad tries to keep the peace between our world and their world.  That hidden world has simple rules: when you die you go to heaven or hell, but sometimes the dead get caught in between.  It’s up to R.I.P.D. to track down those in-between souls.  It sounds serious but it’s mainly all comic book fun and over-the-top action movie antics.

Miller and Hong in RIPD

R.I.P.D. has the feel in parts of several classic movies about ghosts and “hidden worlds behind our world,” like Ghostbusters, Beetlejuice, Ghost Rider, and yes, Men in Black.  But it’s not as great as any of these. It also has a dramatic thread from movies like The Crow, Always, and City of Angels.  But it’s not a drama and only touches on the seriousness of what is at stake for the characters in the story.  Yet it’s worth watching for some standout components that make for a fun rental.

If you ever wanted to see a live-action Yosemite Sam, you can see what that would be like with Jeff Bridges’ performance as Roy Pulsiphur, an undead ex-U.S. Marshall and Civil War soldier.  Bridges completely immerses himself in this Old West coot and the result is another classic and unique Bridges performance. (How the heck does he manage to drive his car side-saddle?).  There’s definitely some Sam Elliott inspiration here.  Green Lantern star Ryan Reynolds plays Nick, a cop who is killed on duty as a Boston police officer.  It may be Reynolds’ best film performance as he, too, is believable as an undead cop in this strange otherworld.  Bridges and Reynolds have some strange chemistry, which amounts for some good buddy cop moments.

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Winter Soldier

Captain America: The Winter Soldier, the sequel to 2011’s Captain America: The First Avenger and the ensemble film The Avengers, is full of all those things you like to see in a comic book spinoff film: lots of action sequences and plenty of banter between superheroes.  It’s a good addition to the Marvel Studios universe of films.  But compared to past entries it begs the question of where Marvel is heading with all its Avengers-based films.

Not as viscerally compelling as The First Avenger, the story in The Winter Soldier seems disjointed, as if it is a stitched together batch of scenes instead of a clearly thought out story.  We have one villain with the Winter Soldier, another with a government wonk played by Robert Redford, another with a would-be S.H.I.E.L.D. enforcer played by the who-would ever-trust-a-guy that-looks-like-that Frank Grillo, and pretty much every government lawman around, including scenes with too-many-to-count police cars destroyed and demolished by the good guys.  Oh, yeah–and Hydra.  Again.  Is it a complex story or just too many unnecessary plot threads?  The first Captain America was a complete story, showing the weak young man who wanted to fight for all that’s right as he moved along a path to become a supersoldier, working with an incredible group of comrades, and experiencing love and loss along the way–character driven, not action driven.  The basic story here has been over-used lately–stop the criminals who believe destroying the world (or the city, etc.) is the only way to save it.  In what world does that logic make sense?

Steve-Rogers-fighting-in-Captain-America-2

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Dawn of the Planet of the Apes clip

At the beginning of the year we listed Dawn of the Planet of the Apes as one of the movies to see in 2014.  The Planet of the Apes is as classic a sci-fi franchise as you can find.  Written by Pierre Boulle, who also wrote Bridge Over the River Kwai, the original novel is a great read, and the subsequent novels are fun reads, too, including Battle for the Planet of the Apes by David Gerrold.

It seems incredible that this franchise keeps churning out new movies.  What makes readers and movie-watchers keep coming back for more?  Is it because we feel so close to our biped cousins of the animal kingdom?  Is it because we just completely dig seeing apes riding horseback?

The newest film, Dawn of the Planet of the Apes, is the tenth visual incarnation of the apes outsmarting humans story, following the classic original, Charlton Heston’s Planet of the Apes (1968), Beneath the Planet of the Apes (1970), Ricardo Montalban’s Escape from the Planet of the Apes (1971), Conquest of the Planet of the Apes (1972), Battle for the Planet of the Apes (1973), Planet of the Apes (TV series with Mark Lenard) (1974), Return to the Planet of the Apes (animated) (1975), Mark Wahlberg’s Planet of the Apes (2001 remake), and James Franco’s Rise of the Planet of the Apes (2011 reboot).

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Green Goblin armor creation by Weta Workshop

Although The Amazing Spider-man 2 has received mixed reviews, as with last year’s sci-fi flick Elysium, the Weta Workshop was one of the special effects companies that added another dimension to the look of the film.  Weta continues to establish itself as the creative team coming up with cutting edge costumes and props that often surpass the story being told.

Weta created the make-up and Green Goblin suit worn by actor Dane DeHaan, the Electro suspension rig worn by Jamie Foxx, and several other props for this latest Spidey flick.

printed props by Weta Workshop

This week Weta released this montage video of the creators and creations behind The Amazing Spider-man 2.  Check it out:

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All You Need is Kill

Wash. Rinse. Repeat.

Live. Die. Repeat.

One of these lines is in the 2004 Japanese military science fiction novel All You Need Is Kill by Hiroshi Sakurazaka. The other line gives away some of the surprise of what the novel–soon to become a major motion picture–is about.  The movie, renamed the far less interesting title Edge of Tomorrow, stars Tom Cruise as a foot soldier (Kaiji Kiriya in the novel, Lt. Col. Bill Cage in the movie)and Emily Blunt as powerhouse super soldier Rita Vrataski in a future battle with an alien incursion that takes place on Earth not too far from now.  Based on the brief previews we’ve seen, the film appears to be different enough from the novel so that reading the novel will not entirely give away the movie, and it’s full of enough classic sci-fi riffs that you may want to read it first as a separate experience.

Sakuraska’s novel will likely conjure elements from some of the best of classic science fiction.  It’s a great look at day-to-day military encounters, with real world elements from Sun Tzu’s The Art of War, Richard Marcinko’s Rogue Warrior, Orson Scott Card’s Ender’s Game, and Robert Heinlein’s Starship Troopers.  It has its own thought-provoking “warning-sign” messages found in classics like Logan’s Run and THX-1138, that adversity in the face of certain doom as in Pacific Rim, and the “what the heck is going on” feel from any number of Philip K. Dick short stories (“Paycheck” and “We Can Remember it for You Wholesale” come to mind).  It also borrows a lot from the endless onslaught of future military video games—it helps to know the author’s background is in information technology and he’s an avid gamer.

All You Need is Kill Edge of Tomorrow tie-in novel

As the movie’s tagline reveals, the now iconic Groundhog Day time-loop plays a part in the story.  Searching for what role the time-loop plays is the real quest Sakurazaka takes us through.  Each new year seems to bring a new take on that sci-fi device, and the Star Trek: The Next Generation episode “Cause and Effect” best illustrates the physics “causality loop” if you’re not familiar with it and we discussed several other examples here at borg.com back in 2011.  If you’re stuck repeating the events of a single period of time, can you ever hope to break free from it?  What do you do in the meantime?  The time-loop element is pervasive even in the future world of the novel—Keiji loosely recounts once watching Adam Sandler and Drew Barrymore’s time-loop comedy 50 First Dates, which finds Barrymore’s character with amnesia every morning so she must start each day all over again.

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Gotham series banner

The 75th anniversary of the creation of Batman is approaching.  Continuing the theme of superhero television series revolving around crusaders defending their city, DC Comics and Fox released the first trailer for their new series Gotham.  Shifting from Arrow’s Starling City to the more famous Gotham City, DC Comics also is continuing its focus on a cast of supervillains, this time as a prequel starring Ben McKenzie (Southland, The OC), who previously was the voice of Batman and Bruce Wayne in the animated adaptation of Frank Miller’s Batman: Year One.

But if the new series is able to latch onto some of the success seen by CW Network’s Arrow, it may be because of supporting cast, like the always great Donal Logue (Vikings, Life, The X-Files, Ghost Rider, Sneakers).  Gotham is also taking a cue from AMC’s Bates Motel, revealing the creepy pasts of Catwoman (Camren Bicondova), Poison Ivy (Clare Foley), the Riddler (Cory Michael Smith), and the Penguin (Robin Taylor) in their early days in Gotham City.  On the downside, DC Comics is now taking a cue from Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. by leaving the key superhero–Batman– out of the story, other than the Bruce Wayne origin story from Miller’s Batman: Year One.

Gotham cast

Check out this first preview for Gotham:

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MissFury010-Cov-Tan  MissFury010-Cov-Syaf

The borg.com selection for best comic book series of 2013, Dynamite’s Miss Fury, continues to be an action-filled series in 2014, full of time travel, parallel histories, and an update to a classic and nostalgic superheroine.  Add to that mobsters, Nazis, the Philadelphia Experiment, atomic age scientists, and an interstellar timeship, and the result is just plain fun.

Writer Rob Williams, artist Jack Herbert, and colorist Ivan Nunes have merged the future with the past, and thrown in some new, cool, supervillains on par with Deathstroke and the pantheon of bad guys from the Arrow TV series.  Stuck out of time, Marla Drake has met and killed herself, and now she is forced into continuing to be an assassin to try to save a man from her past.  But violent recurring, mind-numbing headaches are catching her off-guard, the result of popping across time.  Can she take control of her actions and stop the madness before her own time is up?

MissFury010-Cov-Calero  MissFury010-Cov-Worley

After the break is a preview of Miss Fury, Issue #10, courtesy of Dynamite Comics:

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Star Wars Rebels clip A

Earlier this week Disney announced the casting for Star Wars Episode VII.  Global highlights of this year’s “May the 4th” included Star Wars themed rugby matches in Australia, Star Wars 6K runs in Brazil, Argentina, and Mexico, character appearances in London, fan events in Shanghai, China and an event at the Roman Colosseum in Italy.  Through a collaboration with NASA and Space Center Houston a message from R2-D2 was delivered from International Space Station.

For the “May the 4th” worldwide Star Wars celebration Disney released its first full trailer for its new animated series Star Wars Rebels.  According to Disney the new trailer for the animated series was broadcast in more than 160 countries 439 million households worldwide.  Whether 439 million people saw it yesterday or whether it was just available to that many homes is not clear from the Disney release.

Star Wars Rebels stormtroopers

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Bond-SpyWhoLovedMe

Review by C.J. Bunce

As much as it is adventurous to travel the world by yourself, living place to place and job to job, it is also dangerous.  Horror movies like Saw, Vacancy, and Psycho illustrate that worst of scenarios—traveling in unfamiliar territory and making a wrong turn—that single bad decision that could end it all.  In Ian Fleming’s novel The Spy Who Loved Me, Vivienne Michel is moving along life’s course but taking a meandering route that leaves her in a desolate hotel in the Adirondacks.  She’s made a ton of bad decisions, not the least of which is accepting a job from a strange couple which leads to her wrapping up the hotel’s operations for the season by herself.  On a dark and stormy night someone knocks on the door and her life changes forever as she makes that wrong turn.

Not to be confused with the novelization of the film The Spy Who Loved Me, which was titled James Bond: The Spy Who Love Me, the original Fleming novel is completely different from the film that took its name.  It also may be not only the worst Bond novel, but one of the worst novels from the 1960s.  It manages to include everything that is bad about pulp novels of the past and should make modern readers question Fleming’s legacy.  From past Bond books reviewed here at borg.com, we already have encountered Fleming’s questionable coverage of race in his day.  Should he be singled out for his failings or just it chalk it up to the day?  And his villains are typically the only physically deformed characters in his books.  Why is that?

More than any other Bond novel, The Spy Who Loved Me wrestles with the latter part of that iconic phrase that defines Bond: “every man wants to be him and every woman wants to be with him.”  Told entirely in first person by a woman named Vivienne, the protagonist in the story, most of the novel never sees James Bond at all and he only appears in the last third of the book.  In fact, with no explanation in the first 100+ pages, the modern reader will find himself or herself wondering how many readers came before who were as frustrated with this long and wandering diary-like account of a woman and her past?  She is a likeable enough character, and certainly sympathetic, but why should a Bond reader care about her?  Ultimately, only a chance encounter with James Bond, and preposterous one at that, makes her relevant to the Bond universe.

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2014 Fourth be With You Dark Horse

Tomorrow is the fourth of May, and you may hear from Star Wars fans all over the phrase “May the 4th Be With You.”  They aren’t lisping.  Star Wars fans are gathering around the world for their annual celebration of all things Star Wars.  With Episode VII just around the corner in 2015 there is plenty to discuss and speculate.  It also means you can take advantage of some great deals available tomorrow only.

Only 593 days to go

Only 593 Days To Go

Dark Horse Comics is offering 150 digital Star Wars comics for only $100–considering many had original cover prices at $3-4 each, the sixty-seven cents per book is quite a good deal.  There’s also a kids’ digital mega-bundle for only $30, and free digital starter bundles including Issues #1-4 of Star Wars Legacy, Star Wars Knights of the Old Republic, and Star Wars Empire.  Go to Dark Horse Digital’s website here for details.

Qui Gonn figure  Amidala figure  Wedge Antilles figure

Entertainment Earth is offering a whopping 40% off all Star Wars action figures (in-stock), also for May 4, 2014, only.  Click here to check out the selection, which includes the new Star Wars Black Series figures.  For the week of May 4 through May 10, all Star Wars statues and busts are 20% off.  Click here to see the selection of busts and the selection of statues here.

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