Archive for May, 2015


Selfless movie poster

As serious dramatic actors go, Ben Kingsley has branched out like no other from mainstream roles.  In addition to the biopic that won him the Academy Award for best actor, Gandhi, Kingsley doesn’t seem to flinch from unique fictional characters in the strangest of situations.  Take for instance his roles in Sneakers, Dave, Species, A Sound of Thunder, Hugo, Iron Man 3, and Ender’s Game.  Kingsley’s next role takes him into the stuff of classic sci-fi.

Self/less asks the question:  What would you do to live forever?  Orson Scott Card’s science fiction short story “Fat Farm,” where overweight people can swap out their larger self for a slimmer version of themselves, and plenty of other classic science fiction stories and movies, from Star Trek to Doctor Who to Avatar to Buffy the Vampire Slayer and The Skeleton Key (even comedies like Freaky Friday and Prelude to a Kiss) have answered the question with swapping one body for another.

RoboCop, especially the remake, looked at how much you can take away from yourself and still be “you”.  In 1986’s Who is Julia?, Mare Winningham and Jameson Parker starred in a movie about a woman whose brain is transplanted into another woman’s body who was pronounced dead in an accident.  In Self/less, a wealthy man dying of cancer, played by Kingsley, undergoes a medical procedure where he ends up in the much younger body of Ryan Reynolds.

Ben Kingsley Selfless

Check out the trailer for Self/less:

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Jonathan Strange and Mr Morrell

The 2004 alternate history fantasy novel Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell by British author Susanna Clarke is on its way to your TV set.  Set during the Napoleonic Wars in an England in a fantasy world where magic once existed, two magicians meet: genre actor Eddie Marsan (The World’s End, V for Vendetta, Sherlock Holmes, Gangs of New York) plays Mr. Norrell, opposite Bertie Carvel (Sherlock, Doctor Who) as Jonathan Strange.  The novel is adapted by Peter Harness (WallanderDoctor Who) and directed by Toby Haynes (SherlockDoctor Who).

The cast also includes Marc Warren (The Good WifeHustle) as The Gentleman, Samuel West (Mr Selfridge, Fleming: The Man Who Would Be Bond) as Sir Walter Pole, Enzo Cilenti (Prisoners Wives, Rome) as Childermass, and Ariyon Bakare (The Dark KnightDancing on the Edge) as Stephen Black.

jonathan strange bbc

Here’s the description of the show from the BBC America press release:

1806.  England is beleaguered by the long war with Napoleon and centuries have passed since practical magicians faded into the nation’s past.  However, scholars of this glorious history discover that one remains – the reclusive and skillful Mr Norrell (Marsan).  His displays of magic soon thrill the nation. In London, he raises the beautiful Lady Pole (Englert) from the dead and summons an army of ghostly ships to terrify the French. 

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Photo from the episode

And to think we thought Grimm wouldn’t make it past Season 2.

Grimm started off strong back in 2011, then suffered a bit of a lull, but soon picked up and never seems to have lost any steam as it barreled through its first four seasons.  Its Season 4 finale “Cry Havoc,” airs next Friday night on NBC, and it sure looks like the gloves are coming off and those dogs of war will be coming out to play.  With last night’s episode “Headache,” the writers for the show proved that there is plenty of great storytelling waiting for us in Season 5.  With so many good series getting cancelled and so many bad series renewed, we’re happy at least this series made the cut again.

The title quote for the finale is the Euripides line: “Stronger than lover’s love is lover’s hate. Incurable, in each the wounds they make.”  Grimm’s writers couldn’t have set up this last act of the season with a more aptly themed climax.Photo from the episode

If you haven’t been keeping up with the show, as with the rest of the series a quick rundown at this point will sound a bit like a horror-esque soap opera.  But it all ended tonight with a scene straight out of the Brad Pitt and Morgan Freeman flick Seven.  Who’s in the box?  No spoilers here, but it should make fans of the show pretty angry.  Angry enough to support Nick the Grimm (David Giuntoli) & Co.’s efforts to obtain some well-deserved revenge, on none other than Nick’s girlfriend, Juliette (Bitsie Tulloch)?  Is there any redemption possible after what she left in the box for Nick?  It wouldn’t seem so.  And we thought Nick would snap after Juliette destroyed Aunt Marie’s trailer.

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Ian McKellen Sherlock Holmes

Sherlock Holmes–the most celebrated and adapted character of all time–will see yet another incarnation this summer with Gandalf and Magneto actor Ian McKellen stepping into the famous detective’s shoes.  In Mr. Holmes, McKellen plays a retired Holmes, a Holmes never seen in Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s works.  Stranger yet, this Holmes exists in a world where Holmes is a character portrayed in films, whose exploits are well known in a series of books.

So is McKellen Holmes, or a senile old chap who thinks he’s Holmes?  Either way, it’s about time Academy Award nominee Ian McKellen becomes Academy Award winner Ian McKellen, isn’t it?  Maybe this will be the film that cinches it for the man with that distinctive, booming, grandfatherly voice.

Ian McKellen is Mr Holmes

It was only last month we recounted the many modern interpretations of Holmes here at borg.com, previewing Benedict Cumberbatch’s coming role as the original, Victorian Sherlock in BBC’s Sherlock.

Check out this new trailer released this week for Mr. Holmes:

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When Marnie Was There

We have yet to be disappointed with any anime production from the house of Studio Ghibli.  Whether it’s My Neighbor Totoro (1988), Grave of the Fireflies (1988), Kiki’s Delivery Service (1989), Whisper of the Heart (1995), Princess Mononoke (1997), the Oscar award winning Spirited Away (2001), or Howl’s Moving Castle (2004), you know you’re getting sumptuous visuals and a compelling story.  It’s been rumored that the production company’s next release may be its last, after years of success from the studio’s now retired director Hayao Miyazaki.  That next, and potentially last, film from Studio Ghibli is director Hiromasa Yonebayashi‘s When Marnie Was There, based on a Joan G. Robinson novel from 1971.

The American dubbed version hits theaters in the U.S. this month, featuring the voices of several award winning actors, including Kathy Bates, Ellen Burstyn, Geena Davis, Catherine O’Hara, and John C. Reilly.

When Marnie Was Here

After the break, check out the trailer for When Marnie Was There:

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Star Wars Artists Edition cover

Celebrating the twentieth anniversary of Star Wars: A New Hope and long before we had any guess about what might happen in the prequel trilogy, George Lucas, for good or bad, retooled all three episodes of the Star Wars trilogy into the Star Wars Special Edition theatrical release.  Between January and March 1997 the world got to “see the movies again for the first time” and was reminded where the word blockbuster actually came from.  Now Marvel Comics is following suit with its own look back to original Star Wars source material.

Marvel Comics is releasing two new versions of Roy Thomas and Howard Chaykin’s original six-issue adaptation of the original Star Wars.  This is the classic adaptation that saw its first chapter, Issue #1, released before the movie hit theaters.

The first volume is being released today: Star Wars: Episode IV: A New Hope.  The OGN is for “oversized graphic novel” but the value in this book is the restoration, George Lucas style, of Howard Chaykin’s original artwork via a replacement of Marie Severin’s original 1970s colors with Chris Sotomayor’s update of the six-issue movie adaptation into a more modern color scheme.  Adi Granov supplies the new cover art for this edition.  Marvel said it will soon release similar editions of its adaptations of The Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi.  Check out a preview of the new look at a classic movie adaptation below.

Star Wars OGN cover

IDW Publishing and Marvel Comics announced this week a second treatment of the same Star Wars comic book adaptation.  The Star Wars Artist’s Edition will be consistent with past IDW “artist’s edition” offerings, showcasing the original comic book pencil and ink art behind the series in high quality color reprints of the original, giant-sized page format that the artists sketched the artwork.

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Episode VII Snowtroopers 2015

You probably heard it all day yesterday: May the Fourth be with you.

But this year’s annual Star Wars observance meant a whole lot more in light of the next Star Wars installment coming our way in December.  We saw some new images of several new characters, some with actors we’d heard of, others as strange as those from the original Mos Eisley cantina.  All thanks to Vanity Fair magazine.

The biggest news was that the slick new chrome-armored stormtrooper from the second Star Wars VII trailer (seen here) is played by Game of Thrones’ Gwendoline Christie–yes, women can serve the Empire–and she’s apparently hunting down a certain AWOL trooper played by Attack the Block’s John Boyega.  We’re predicting that even with a very 1930s action serial/”something George Lucas would come up with” name, this new villain, called “Captain Phasma,” could be getting primed by toymakers to be one of the highest-selling action figures of 2016.

Vanity Fair Star Wars Episode 1 Vanity Fair Episode III Star Wars Vanity Fair Star Wars

If this seems a bit familiar it may be because Vanity Fair has previously featured fans’ first looks at the last entries in the Star Wars saga, also with Annie Leibovitz photo shoots.  For those new to Annie Leibovitz, she’s one of the best known photographers of the past 40 years, with many famous shots of rock stars.

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suicide squad movie cast photo 2015 will smith Kinnaman jai courtenay

The comic book world’s take on The Dirty Dozen is coming to life next year with a big screen version of Suicide Squad, the DC Comics group of criminals who take on missions in exchange for lighter prison sentences.

From left to right, that’s Adam Beach (Everwood, Hawaii Five-0), as Slipknot, Jai Courtney (Jack Reacher, Terminator: Genisys) as Captain Boomerang, Cara Delevingne as Enchantress, Karen Fukuhara as Katana, Joel Kinnaman (RoboCop) as Rick Flagg, Margot Robbie (Pan Am, The Wolf of Wall Street) as Harley Quinn, Will Smith (Men in Black, I, Robot) as Deadshot, Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje (Lost, Thor: The Dark World) as Killer Croc,  and Jay Hernandez as El Diablo.

Viola Davis plays Amanda Waller, head of the agency A.R.G.U.S., and Jared Leto will play The Joker.

Jared Leto as The Joker

Jared Leto as the newest take on The Joker.

All of this will look a bit familiar to fans of the television version of the DC Universe.  CW’s Arrow has had its own Suicide Squad, with none of the actors overlapping roles for the film.  The group itself stems from a 1987 retooling by John Ostrander of a team from the 1950s era of the series The Brave and the Bold, in the pages of its own DC Comics monthly series.

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ComicConBox

You can now treat yourself like your birthday is every month with a subscription to one of many surprise content subscription services in the tradition of coffee-of-the-month, flower-of-the-month, and food-of-the-month clubs.  Following the successfull pop culture services Loot Crate and Nerd Block, comic book convention promoter Wizard World is launching ComicConBox, its new subscription-based premium monthly grab bag service which offers subscribers the opportunity to receive exclusive collectibles, toys, technology, games, licensed artwork, comics, apparel, Wizard World Comic Con tickets, VIP discounts and more, delivered right to their doors.  The first box will be shipped this week.

The service, priced at $29.99 per month plus shipping with no contractual commitment, will also feature “Epic Grand Prizes” in random boxes.  Differentiating the new service from other companies, Wizard World CEO John Macaluso said, “Wizard World’s unique access to leaders in the entertainment industry and some of the most popular celebrities, creators and publishers means that ComicConBox will have the best quality and variation of products possible.”

secret_wars_bw

Select boxes will include Mystery Items.  You can subscribe for only one month or set up automatic monthly shipping, and Wizard World offers premiums for those that commit to three months at once, such as the exclusive Marvel Comics Secret Wars variant cover issue shown above.

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Something different

Gracie cosplay champ

When I first started borg.com in June 2011, I wrote it in my basement on Saturdays, trying to prepare concept articles as much in advance as possible.  At the time I planned on writing weekly, but the first day then became seven days which became a month and it kept on going until I wrote something at least every day for the next 1,421 days.  In the background was the TV set, playing things that wouldn’t distract me like major league baseball, Lawrence Welk reruns and Antiques Roadshow, and even lame cable shows like reruns of My Fair Brady (yikes).  And beside me every day was Gracie.

Gracie had her own couch, and sometimes preferred lying beside me on the floor near my chair.  Sometimes I would give up on writing and move over and fall asleep next to her on her couch.  Gracie had the bubbliest, vibrant soul and fun-loving spirit of anyone I ever met, human or otherwise.  She coined the term “pie-eating grin”  after I left a cherry pie on the counter on Thanksgiving that she very delicately and completely hollowed out with her tongue.

Pigeon the Magnificent

I don’t watch dog movies or read dog stories because they all end bad.  The dogs always die.  Dogs don’t live as long as humans and the only thing that can be said, to quote a great philosopher, is: It sucks.  But Gracie’s life was awesome and she inspired others.  About a year and a half after I started borg.com she got pneumonia, and fought her way back.  Then she got diagnosed with lymphoma.  What I feared was a death sentence ended up as a “life” sentence.  Unlike with humans, chemotherapy with dogs does not typically produce the side effects humans encounter.  Gracie made it through two rounds of chemo in more than two years and made it halfway through a third round.  And she passed away Friday a little more than a day shy of her fourteenth birthday.  That’s age 98 if you believe in that “dog years” stuff.

If anyone ever says “oh, I would never put my dog through that” either knock them upside the head for me or send them my way.

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