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Archive for January, 2016


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This weekend Warner Bros. has released a behind the scenes look at J.K. Rowling’s return to the wizarding world, Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, derived from the Hogwarts textbook of the same name by magizzoologist Newt Scamander.  Fantastic Beasts is a prequel with a screenplay written by J.K. Rowling–her first–and it’s set in 1926 New York City.  It follows Eddie Redmayne as Scamander, a Charles Darwin of sorts cataloguing magical creatures.  It is a prequel, but don’t expect to see young Hogwarts professors or other familiar names.

Fantastic Beasts is directed by David Yates, who served as director of the final four Harry Potter films.  Harry Potter fans will learn some new lingo, like “No-Maj”–American for Muggle.  A No-Maj named Jacob, played by Dan Fogler, has a run-in with Scamander, Scamander loses his magical case, and some beasties escape, which may reveal the wizarding world to the rest of us.  Fantastic Beasts co-stars Katherine Waterston (Steve Jobs) as Porpentina, Alison Sudol (Transparent) as Queenie, Ezra Miller (Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice) as Credence, Ron Perlman (Hellboy, Star Trek Nemesis) as Gnarlack, Samantha Morton (Minority Report, John Connor, Jane Eyre) as Mary Lou, Jon Voight (Mission Impossible, National Treasure) as Henry Shaw, Sr., Carmen Ejogo (Selma) as Seraphina, Jenn Murray (Brooklyn) as Chastity, and Colin Farrell (Total Recall, Phone Booth, Minority Report, Daredevil) as Percival Graves.

Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them poster

Take a look at this new behind-the-scenes feature for Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them (and raise your hand if you wish Colin Farrell were playing a young Professor Snape):

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Baskets

Review by C.J. Bunce

Hardly a beat is skipped before find you yourself wondering if television viewers who may be unfamiliar with Louie Anderson’s brilliant stand-up comedy realize that Zach Galifianakis’s mother on the new FX Networks series Baskets actually is being played by a man.  It’s the brilliance and sincerity of Anderson’s ability to play a mother character that tells you Baskets is one darkly hilarious new series.

Galifianakis–who co-created the show and is a series writer along with comedian Louis C.K. and executive producer Jonathan Krisel (Portlandia, Saturday Night Live)–plays a very serious, committed, “classically-trained” clown named Chip Baskets, stuck now in Bakersfield as an under-appreciated rodeo clown.  Galifianakis also plays the dual role of Chip’s more successful brother Dale.  In the inaugural episode we follow Chip’s traumatic efforts to attend “clown college” in Paris, where the key difficulty is the simple fact that Chip doesn’t speak French, so he can only limp along trying to understand the professor’s French humor lessons.  Ultimately Galifianakis plays the part for all it’s worth.  He’s truly destined to be Emmett Kelly’s perpetually sad Weary Willie.  Opposite Anderson as his doting mother, and Martha Kelly, who plays an infatuated Costco insurance agent who might have stepped out of the Coen Brothers’ Fargo, Galifianakis is at times both funny and oddly depressing.  Baskets the Clown is real in as much as Elliot’s character is real on Mr. Robot–modern young guys stuck in a rut in every part of their lives.  Yet somehow the laughs sneak through.

Baskets Costco Anderson

Sometimes they don’t just sneak through, however.  Anderson explodes with humor in every scene and is a true scene stealer, whether he’s cozying up to Chip’s not-girlfriend Martha, amazed at all of the varieties of Costco’s soda water, or pondering the wonder of Arby’s curly fries.  Baskets’ somewhat mail order/now estranged French wife played by Sabina Sciubba, drops Baskets the Clown (he really wants to be called Renoir the Clown) into one too many unreal, and maybe surreal, melodramas that require you to laugh along at his both hopeful and hopeless predicaments.

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SMT X

WELCOME TO EARTH-4

A Column by J. Torrey McClain

Around this time last year, my good friend Steve suggested that we check out A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night (2014) at the Silent Movie Theater here in Los Angeles and I had no clue what it was.  I briefly checked the description, saw a positive Metacritic score and thought to myself, “Why the heck not?”  I ended up seeing a fantastic slow-burning film that made the vampire genre fresh.  I also saw one of the best images to portray a character in a long time.

Early in the film, the co-protagonist girl vampire decides to go home with a drug dealer who had previously threatened the other protagonist as well as a local streetwalker.  As he bursts into his lair, he walks by a large fish tank and gives it a smack.  Seconds later he’s doing lines of cocaine on a glass table, a mounted deer head and a mounted antelope head on the wall behind him, before turning on the annoying techno.  He sits on a couch draped with a blanket of what looks like tigers that would jump out under black light.  In the corner there is a hookah.  As the girl vampire explores the rest of the pad, she finds a set of drums just below a large marijuana leaf poster.  I laughed to myself as I immediately realized I had in those brief seconds already characterized this asshole in my mind with no redeeming qualities.  Sure, the actions earlier helped, but that apartment spoke to me clearly and it screamed into my brain “HE IS A DOUCHEBRO.”

douchebro

Those items and that music might not mean the same thing to every person.  Maybe to others they see a seedy drug-dealing criminal.  Some may see a guy that is definitely more current in his musical taste than I (as Clem Snide and The Replacements play as I write.)  Others may see an advocate for marijuana besides business reasons that has been stigmatized due to its frequent use by hippies and non-WASPs.  (I put myself in the advocate camp, by the way, as the criminalization and the imprisonment of many people in jail due to marijuana related offenses seems to be one of the many effects of the inherent racism in our justice system.  But, that’s for another discussion at another time by others much more qualified than I.  Check out Deray McKesson on Twitter to start your journey on that front or some of the great essays in The Atlantic by Ta-Nehisi Coates, the soon-to-be author of the Marvel comic Black Panther).  I just know that for my viewpoint, the more the scene unfolded, the more it verified my judgment.

Such is the magic of great set design.  As a background actor, I get to see lots of set design up close.  Items might not show up distinctly on camera, but choices get made in the costume, prop and set departments that impact the feel of a scene.  The care that the professionals take in these aspects of filmed entertainment mesmerizes me more than most things.

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Stephen Hopkins, director of The Ghost in the Darkness, Predator 2, and the reboot of Lost in Space, and TV series House of Lies and 24, is bringing to the big screen the momentous race of Jesse Owens, the black track and field gold medalist who showed-up Adolf Hitler’s racist regime by winning in the 1936 Olympics.  The cleverly titled Race stars Stephan James (Selma) as Owens, the role previously given to John Boyega, who instead left the production to take on the role of Finn in Star Wars: The Force Awakens.

Race co-stars Saturday Night Live alumnus Jason Sudeikis as Coach Larry Snyder, as well as Academy Award winners William Hurt and Jeremy Irons.  Race is the kind of serious topic biopic the Academy traditionally looks for at Oscar time.  If the film is the great drama that the story deserves, this could be a breakout role for both James and Sudeikis.

Jesse Owens biopic

But can Sudeikis overcome his comedy acting past to drive this drama home?  Many ex-SNL regulars have tried to break the SNL curse and jump into drama, including Bill Murray, Dan Aykroyd, John Belushi, Steve Martin, Albert Brooks, and Eddie Murphy, along with other comedy talents like Michael Keaton, Eddie Izzard, Jim Carrey, Jamie Foxx, Will Smith, Robin Williams, and Jonah Hill.  Will the Academy recognize Race a year from now?  Murray, Aykroyd, Martin, Brooks, Hill, Smith, Williams, and Keaton have all been nominated for acting Oscars, but no ex-SNL actor has won an acting Oscar, and only comedic actors Foxx and Williams were able to make the switch from comedy to drama and take home the big prize.

Check out this trailer for Race:

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Venus_002_A_Main    Munchkin_013_A_Main

It’s Comic Shop Wednesday!  Haven’t been to your comic book shop lately?  We have six hi-res previews for borg.com readers courtesy of BOOM! Studios of what you’ll find in stores today–so you can see what you’re missing.

Look for Venus from writer Rick Loverd and artist Huang Danlan.  Pauline and the rest of the survivors from the Mayflower take stock of the base on Venus, but there’s a saboteur in their midst who’s sowing tension in the ranks.

We love writer Dan Abnett and artist I.N.J. Culbard’s Wild’s End: The Enemy Within.  The group of anthropomorphic townspeople is scattered in the woods of Lower Crowchurch as an alien threat returns.

EFNY_014_A_Main    Spire_006_A_Main

In The Spire from writer Simon Spurrier and artist Jeff Stokely, Meera is held by the Zoarim at their camp as part of the Pax proceedings.  But she’s not alone.

In the ongoing sequel to John Carpenter’s Escape from New York by writer Christopher Sebela and artist Maxim Simic, Snake Plisskin prepares to defend his property from the government.  At any cost.

BOOM! Box, the BOOM! Studios imprint for kids titles, has two great issues out today from Peanuts and Munchkin. 

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If you’re catching this week’s reunion of Fox Mulder and Dana Scully on The X-Files, don’t forget that the story of these agents of the unexplained has been going strong each month in the pages of IDW Publishing’s The X-Files: Season 11.  Below we have a preview of the next installment available in comic book stores everywhere tomorrow.

For the record, the comic book series is considered canon, and the truth is they’ve earned it.  Show creator Chris Carter is executive producer of the series.  The writers and artists know the characters and the story.  Following right after the events in the second big screen follow-up to the TV series, The X-Files: I Want to Believe, the comic books are as good as the original series and even better than the movies and the first of this new TV series.  What does modern technology, a world of the Android phones, and the political climate resurfacing Cold War Era issues mean for Mulder and Scully’s quest for the truth?  What new secrets will be behind all the unexplained events they encounter and all the conspiracies?

Writer Joe Harris, artist Matthew Dow Smith, and colorist Jordie Bellaire provide a familiar look and feel for both the actors behind the characters (David Duchovny and Gillian Anderson) and the often dark and mysterious settings for the series that fans will appreciate.  Look for a photo cover variant and fun alternate cover to Issue #6, also (pictured below).

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Below check out a borg.com preview of the first five pages of Issue #6 before its release in comic book stores tomorrow, courtesy of IDW Publishing:

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Eddie the Eagle poster

At a critical point in last year’s World Series the crowd drew silent and a fan in the crowd could be seen in the Jumbotron holding up a sign with three words:  Never say die.  The crowd erupted.  And his team went on to win.

In Ice Castles a young woman overcomes blindness to become part of a successful figure skating team.  In Rudy a young man fights desperately to play college football.  In Caddyshack a kid picks principle over a college scholarship to compete in a round of high stakes golf.  In Slap Shot and Necessary Roughness a coach tries some innovative methods to turn a losing team into a successful hockey or football team.  In The Bad News Bears and The Mighty Ducks, a coach tries to make a team of youth baseball or hockey players out of a group of misfits.   In The Natural, Field of Dreams, and Moneyball a has-been baseball player returns to the game to save the day.  In Pride of the Yankees a professional baseball player tries to fight a terminal disease to keep playing the game.  In Jim Thorpe–All American a Native American overcomes racism and class struggle to become a track, football, and Olympic icon.  In Brian’s Song two professional football players move past racial differences and face a terminal illness.  In Rocky and Creed a guy from the streets fights to be a contender in the boxing ring.  In Cool Runnings (Jamaican bobsled), The Cutting Edge (pair figure skating), and Chariots of Fire (track) athletes overcome their personal trials to compete in the Olympics.

The underdog finally has his day.

Eddie the Eagle cap

Each of these sports movies follows a trial against adversity, whether it be a physical, mental, social, economic, or cultural barrier.  Some are seriously dramatic and others comical, but most manage to include more than an ounce of humor along the way.  And all incorporate plenty of heart.  But they all share the theme of “beating the odds”.

A new movie from 20th Century Fox looks destined to be the next beat-the-odds sports movie triumph, and seems like it may be good enough to be added to this list of great sports films based on a new trailer.  Eddie the Eagle follows a British skier who in 1988 became the first competitor to represent Great Britain in Olympic ski jumping.

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mic a    mic c

Derived from a licensed Japanese line of toys called the Micromen, which themselves were small-sized versions of a 12-inch action figure called Henshin Cyborg, Micronauts toys took America by storm in the late 1970s.  A Microverse of humanoids, borgs, and robotoids, a civilization of 3.75-inch retro-Kenner sized action figures, ships, and accessories from the Mego toy company before there were Kenner action figures, were loved by a generation of kids.  That is, before Kenner drove Mego out of the market.

But not before Micronauts became two classic Marvel comic book series.  Featuring stories by Bill Mantlo and art by Michael Golden, over time the series would include art by the likes of plenty of comic book greats: Howard Chaykin, Steve Ditko, Rich Buckler, Pat Broderick, Val Mayerik, Keith Giffen, Greg LaRocque, Gil Kane, Luke McDonnell, Mike Vosburg, Jackson Butch Guice and Kelley Jones.  Micronauts and their characters would be woven into the rest of the Marvel Universe in other series, interacting with Star-Lord from Guardians of the Galaxy, the Wasp, Doctor Doom and the Fantastic Four, Nightcrawler, Alpha Flight, Cable, the X-Men, and Thanos.  As recently as last year its Microverse concept was included in the screenplay for the Ant-Man movie, renamed the Quantum Realm for the final cut of the film.

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Uncanny X-Men writer Cullen Bunn will be scripting the series with artwork by David Baldeón.  Check out six covers offered for issue #1 (above and below) drawn by Baldéon, J.H. Williams III, Butch Guice, Gabriel Rodriguez, and Michael Golden.  The sixth cover features the classic action figure of Baron Karza.  If you think he looks like a copy of Darth Vader, think again.  Karza was created before Star Wars was released.

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rip-hunter-arthur-darville-legends-of-tomorrow

If you missed the pilot for DC’s Legends of Tomorrow this week you can still catch it now.  Bringing together nine characters from the CW’s Arrow and The Flash, plus the new time traveler Rip Hunter, the CW has provided a venue for a very comic book concept–the weekly team-up.  And other than the Arrow and The Flash themselves, this new series has pulled together probably the best of the secondary characters from those shows.

Doctor Who’s other last companion Arthur Darville leads up this new team.  It’s as if we get to see Darville portray the Doctor himself, at least an American view of the British series.  The Comic Con crowd audience is provided plenty of familiar encounters and situations that reflect classic tropes and scenes.  Seattle’s Space Needle aka Star City is the launch point for this new team composed of Brandon Routh’s Atom, Caity Lotz’s ex-Black Canary now the White Canary, the one-two punch of Victor Garber and Franz Drameh as Firestorm, Falk Hentschel as Hawkman and Ciara Renee as Hawkgirl.  And bad guys Captain Cold (Wentworth Miller) and Heat Wave (Dominic Purcell) play the good side with Arrow and The Flash’s Vandal Savage (Casper Crump) as the series villain.

DC Legends

After about 20 minutes of world building, recruiting and meeting all the players, the show kicks in when the team finds itself in 1975.  Captain Cold, Heat Wave, and White Canary end up in a bar where Canary goes on her own punching spree.  It’s a great play to see the bad guys team-up with a good guy against… anyone else.

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Zootopia sloth

So many movies, so little time.  This year several new animated movies are coming to a theater near you.  How do you choose which to see?  Don’t choose… just see them all!  Many of these trailers were previewed with Christmas releases last month and this month.  Zootopia may just be the funniest of the trailers.  We also have Angry Birds and Snowtime! 

Kung Fu Panda 3

First up–Next week Jack Black brings his awesome panda back to the big screen in Kung Fu Panda 3.  Look for the voices of Angelina Jolie, Jackie Chan, Dustin Hoffman, Seth Rogen, Lucy Liu, David Cross, Bryan Cranston, Wayne Knight, Kate Hudson, J.K. Simmons, and the great James Hong.

Here’s the trailer for Kung Fu Panda 3:

Kung Fu Panda 3 is in theaters January 29, 2016.

Snowtime!

This great looking French Canadian production features every kid’s favorite thing–the snow day.  How fun is that?

Snowtime! hits theaters February 26, 2016

Zootopia

Zootopia features the voices of Idris Elba, J.K. Simmons, Alan Tudyk, and Tommy Chong.  Check out this great trailer, which was previewed in December with Star Wars: The Force Awakens:

March 4, 2016.

The Angry Birds Movie

Your favorite cartoon birds arrive in theaters this summer with the voices of Peter Dinklage, Jason Sudeikis, Maya Rudolph, Keegan-Michael Key, and Bill Hader.

Check these out:

The Angry Birds Movie is in theaters May 20, 2016.

C.J. Bunce
Editor
borg.com

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