Archive for December, 2015

In memoriam–Penny Juday


This weekend we lost our friend Penny Juday.  She died after a long battle with cancer.  Penny was a friend to everyone in the Star Trek community.  She was well known for her work in the art department on many Star Trek series and movies and knew more about Star Trek props than anyone–she was a font of Trek information and lore.  She also was a friend to all animals, rescuing many, and donating countless dollars and hours to helping out furry friends.  She created many opportunities for her friends to donate to charities she worked with.

Penny was a tremendously fun person to talk TV and movies with–always full of great stories and tales of run-ins with celebrities and Hollywood legends.  Please take a look at this interview we did for a few years ago for a glimpse of what she was like.  Many didn’t know she was a U.S. Navy veteran, and had worked on The Hunt for Red October and Alien Resurrection.

I lost three of my dogs this year, Gracie, LadyGirl, and Tessa.  Penny and I had discussed Gracie’s cancer when Penny was nursing a nest of downed robins back to health, and frequently shared stories of raising our elder kids.  I am comforted that a good soul like Penny is up there with them and can imagine she is surrounded by the countless furry kids she raised.

Our thoughts and prayers go out to her husband Anthony and the rest of her family.  She will be missed.

C.J. Bunce


Review by C.J. Bunce

Did J.J. Abrams earn or reject his Jar Jar badge?  Did we drown in re-hashed lines from the original trilogy?  Did Disney make the same mistakes as George Lucas made with his prequels?

When you get right down to it, we all had a pretty low threshold by which we were going to judge the success of the highly anticipated, overly over-marketed Star Wars: The Force Awakens.  We knew it couldn’t match the original Star Wars or The Empire Strikes Back, but it was Abrams’s challenge to see how high he could position the result of his efforts among the other four films.

So how did he fare?

Is the movie better than the prequels?

Is the dialogue better than George Lucas’s in the past films?

Did he hand off the story from the old guard to the new guard successfully?

Is The Force Awakens a modern sci-fi fantasy classic, or among the best films ever made?

Boyega and Isaac

After the jump, I’ll walk though my spoiler-light reaction to what is going to go down as the biggest money-making film of all time.

Continue reading

Fathom 34th Street

Turner Classic Movies, Twentieth Century Fox, and the Fathom Events series is bringing the celebrated 1947 holiday classic Miracle on 34th Street back to the theaters for a limited release.  It’s one of our favorites, with one of the best Christmas scenes ever (see our scene review published earlier here at

It’s a special two-day event on Sunday, December 20, 2015, and Wednesday, December 23, 2015, in select cities nationwide.  It will be screened at 2:00 p.m. and 7:00 p.m. local time.  The show will feature a special introduction created by Turner Classic Movies.

Check out theater and ticket availability at the Fathom Events website here.  Don’t miss it!

C.J. Bunce


5013_RHPS_Dr__FrankNFurter_Reaction_GLAM_1024x1024    5018_RHPS_JanetWeiss_Reaction_GLAM_1024x1024

Right when we weren’t paying attention, Funko added another property to its ReAction Kenner-style retro action figure line-up.  You never know what license Funko will be after next and we couldn’t have predicted The Rocky Horror Picture Show would be in the mix.  Yet here they are.

5014_RHPS_RiffRaff_Reaction_GLAM_1024x1024     5015_RHPS_Magenta_Reaction_GLAM_1024x1024

Six new figures, including Tim Curry’s Dr. Frank-N-Furter, Susan Sarandon’s Janet, and Barry Bostwick’s Brad.  Sorry–no Meatloaf, yet.

Continue reading


Review by C.J. Bunce

Truer to the classic pulp crime comic book genre than the likes of recent monthlies like Fatale or Velvet, writer Ande Parks and artist Esteve Polls are bringing back those 1930s-1950s stories once found in the pages of Crime Does Not Pay and Crime SuspenStories with their new series Seduction of the Innocent.  Comic book collectors and historians will recognize the title from Frederic Wertham’s infamous anti-comic book diatribe, and Dynamite Entertainment is playing off that shocker moniker here to good effect.

Behind the title is the classic pulp noir storytelling we were fans of in IDW Publishing’s recent throwback mini-series The X-Files: Year Zero reviewed previously here at  As with old crime magazines, you’ll find “horrific tales of true crime”–murders and crime scenes–as advertised yet “horrific” from more of a 1950s eye than a Tarantino-esque blood-splattering as found in most current crime series.  Writer Parks pulls from his broad knowledge of crime stories and history to begin a story that could have taken place in Anytown U.S.A., but he has chosen a San Francisco FBI office from 1953 as his starting point.

Not only is Parks known for his artwork on Green Arrow and El Diablo, Parks has had critical success writing true crime accounts including Union Station, Capote in Kansas, and Ciudad, as well as work on classic favorite characters Kato, The Lone Ranger, and Zorro. 

Seduction of the Innocent issue 1 Polls interior art

Artist Esteve Polls evokes that straightforward “just the facts, ma’am” Dragnet style look with his panel renderings, which blends nicely with Parks’ story.
Continue reading

New Ghostbusters

Ready or not, a new Ghostbusters is coming your way.

And we have our first look tonight at four one-sheet posters for next summer’s release.

Melissa McCarthy, Kristen Wiig, Kate McKinnon, and Leslie Jones have the title roles.

1271033 - THE WALK     1271033 - THE WALK

Continue reading

1971 movie poster

On March 8, 1971, more than a year before Watergate, during the popular televised Muhammed Ali vs Joe Frazier fight, eight individuals broke into a small FBI office in Pennsylvania, stole every file, and proceeded to expose the FBI’s illegal scheme of surveillance and intimidation of citizens including Martin Luther King, Jr.  All of these illegal FBI practices had been condoned by FBI chief J. Edgar Hoover and President Richard Nixon.  Four decades before Edward Snowden leaked similar information about illegal surveillance of Americans, this small group, called The Citizens’ Commission to Investigate the FBI, did the same thing.  Director Johanna Hamilton has documented the accounts of the break-in and lasting implications that began in Media, Pennsylvania, in her documentary 1971, now available on DVD and streaming video.

Like All the President’s Men, that gripping account of the Watergate break-in by Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein, this far less known burglary completely unraveled the taut fabric of the federal government’s surveillance program, resulting in the temporary cessation of invasions of privacy and illuminating the intimidation tactics the government was using on individual rights activists.  Hamilton’s documentary combines a re-enactment of the days leading up to the break-in and interviews with five of the eight members of The Citizens’ Commission who planned the burglary, risking their families’ futures to uncover concrete documentation of the detailed, planned and FBI-endorsed illegalities.  No one was ever arrested for the theft of the documents and subsequent disclosure to the press, although all but one of the planners ended up on the FBI’s list of suspects.

1971 documentary clip

Hamilton’s storytelling is gritty and heart-pounding, the stuff of a great, classic suspense mystery, with a gripping score by Philip Sheppard.  The laundry list of ludicrous government programs exposed is simply jaw-dropping, how leaders of any generation could condone such clearly wrong ideas, like monitoring local neighborhood ladies’ groups, planting federal watchdogs among activist groups, and using fear to intimidate anyone who wouldn’t toe the line of the government’s actions without question.  Would Watergate have played out the same way without the events in 1971?  Would J. Edgar Hoover have been exposed as the crook that he was and would his COINTELPRO program have been shut down without the discovery of one of the documents uncovered by The Citizens’ Commission?  1971 is on par with the greatest documentary classics, such as Harlan County, U.S.A.

Continue reading

Craig in SPECTRE

Review by C.J. Bunce

If you’ve been too busy buying your advance tickets for Star Wars: The Force Awakens and forgot to get to the theaters to see the latest James Bond film, here’s your wake-up call.  Get thee to the theatre before it’s gone!  For every new Bond actor there is a handful of films that are forgettable.  SPECTRE is not one of those Bond movies.  In fact SPECTRE is on the heels of being as good a James Bond formula piece as Daniel Craig’s Casino Royale.  It will be hard for any Bond movie to top that one, since it was as close to perfection as an action vehicle can get.

So why is SPECTRE a cut above the rest?

Let’s start with the required action scene opener.  We begin with Bond and his attractive companion Estrella, played by Stephanie Sigman, at the Day of the Dead festival in Mexico City.  Bond is in pursuit of an assassin, for a reason yet to be disclosed to the viewer, and the result is some of the best action in any Bond movie.  Ever.  Bond in a skeleton suit is still unmistakably Daniel Craig’s Bond.  We get an inadvertently blown-up building.  A foot chase through a parade culminating in a hand to hand fight in a helicopter over the crowded festival.  Want exciting?  This scene has it all.

James Bond Day of the Dead

Gone is the tired, old, worn-out Bond emphasized in the plot of Skyfall.  Gone is the disheartened Bond of Quantum of Solace.  This is Bond as he is supposed to be–confident, cocky, and calm.  And physically Craig could still out-match all prior Bond actors at any age.

Bond’s main “Bond Girl” is a well-developed character this time around.
Léa Seydoux’s Dr. Swann is compelling and interesting, closer to Eva Green’s engaging Vesper Lynd than any Bond Girl since.

The villains are perfect, starting with Dave Bautista’s Mr. Hinx and his Groot-like single word of dialogue, and Christoph Waltz’s mastermind is as classic a Bond villain as you’ve ever seen.  He’s creepy, but not too creepy like Javier Bardem’s villain in Skyfall.  Also well-written are the classic Bond supporting roles: Ben Whishaw’s Q gets more, key screen time than any prior Q, Naomie Harris’s Moneypenny gets more backstory, and Ralph Fiennes’ M gets to take on his own parallel fight against villainy.

Continue reading

Star Trek Beyond first clip

This is it.  The week sci-fi/fantasy fans have been waiting for–the premiere of Star Wars: The Force Awakens.  Those seeing it theaters this week will get an added bonus in most theaters, a first trailer–the first big screen look at Star Trek Beyond.

But why wait?  Paramount released the Star Trek Beyond trailer today after a Danish version leaked on the Interwebs.

So let’s have a look at the final trailer released for Star Wars: The Force Awakens here:

… and then take a look at the action-centric new trailer for Star Trek Beyond:

Continue reading

Batman TMNT Freddie Williams II art

Review by C.J. Bunce

It’s hard to beat a great crossover and we’ve seen many come and go this year.  Take two superhero titles from the shadows of the big city and put them together and you have a pairing that will only have you ask why it hasn’t been done before.

The best Batman book you’ve likely read in years is waiting for you at your local comic book shop right now.  Issue #1 of the new Batman/Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles is now on the shelves and it’s simply the best series opener to a Batman story I’ve read since Issue #1 of Jim Lee’s Hush mini-series.  You can evaluate the first issue as either a strong Batman title or a loyal-to-its-roots TMNT book, and either way writer James T. Tynion IV, artist Freddie Williams II, and colorist Jeremy Colwell have a winner on their hands here.

You won’t need to worry about thumbing slowly through an issue featuring one part of the title’s crossover only to wait next month for the next, as Tynion has weaved together both Batman, the Turtles, as well as Killer Croc, the Foot Clan, Splinter, and Strider, all into one exciting introduction issue.

Freddie Williams II Turtles Batman

And the design layout and look of this view of Gotham is unique and intriguing.  It’s about time that Freddie Williams II had his own Bat-book.  He’s been drawing Batman for years and some of the best Batman renderings I have seen from any Batman artist can be found in his sketchbooks and other drawings.  Always strong in his characterizations and environments, and with his signature ink wash style, each page could stand alone as a poster print, especially the giant splash pages of Batman.

Continue reading