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Archive for April, 2016


Killing Joke animated film clip

If you’re talking about animated adaptations of classic DC Comics Batman comic books, three book series and movies should come to mind.  First there was the well-made adaptation of Frank Miller’s Batman: Year One, which we reviewed here at borg.com back in 2012.  Then there was the faithful, two-part adaptation of Miller’s Batman: The Dark Knight Returns, with Part 1 reviewed here in 2012 and Part 2 released in 2013 reviewed here.  The animated Batman adaptations will soon be complete with the third key classic Batman book of the modern era coming to animated video.

This year Warner Bros. is releasing an adaptation of the 1988 controversial story Batman: The Killing Joke.  Alan Moore, Brian Bolland, and John Higgins teamed up to create the definitive origin story of the sadistic villain The Joker in a shiny and colorful prestige format never before seen by comic readers.  The cover sold the book, but inside the darkest story of Gotham ever told was born in only a way Alan Moore could concoct.  As with his original story that became Watchmen, Moore took beloved characters, specifically Commissioner Gordon and daughter Barbara aka Batgirl, and made them victims.  The origin of Oracle was born here, and Moore for the following decades has defended his handling of the story and treatment of Barbara.

original Killing Joke cover

Most appropriately, the animated movie will receive an R rating–a must if the film is loyal at all to the original source material.  Then there’s the solid cast list.

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Keanu clip

Keegan-Michael Key and Jordan Peele are as funny a comedy team as you’ll ever find.  Key’s work on Whose Line is it Anyway? is some of the best improv we’ve seen in years and his cameo in Tomorrowland was one of that film’s high points.  A new comedy from Warner Bros. opens tonight across the country that offers up a mash-up of Keanu Reeves’ John Wick and an endless supply of YouTube kitten video mayhem.

Keanu is about a high-octane pursuit to save the cat starring the comedy duo, and almost coincidentally featuring the voice of the only Keanu anyone knows–Keanu Reeves–in a sequence as the voice of the star cat.

Will Forte and Method Man co-star in the film.  The previews look like fans of the comedy team will get plenty of the comedy the duo is known for.  And check out the awesome onslaught of parody movie posters advertising the film:

Keanu poster B    Keanu poster A

and these…

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Star Trek Book 2016

The 50th anniversary celebration of Star Trek is in full swing and you can hardly visit a store without encountering a new collectable commemorating the event.  From the publishing realm, coming this summer from Dorling Kindersley (DK) books is a new book that purports to be the last word on all of Star Trek–from the original series to the latest big screen releases.  Titled boldly The Star Trek Book, it’s a 336 page data trove for those new to Star Trek and others wanting a quick reminder of some of their favorite characters, places, ships, and weapons.

You can pre-order your copy now at a discount off the cover price here from Amazon.com.  It seems to be similar in design to the classic Star Trek The Magazine from years ago.

DK AmazonUK3

Here’s the description from the publisher followed by several preview pages released this month by Amazon:

Celebrate 50 years of one of the longest running and beloved sci-fi franchises with The Star Trek Book.  This comprehensive guide to the series delves into the myriad worlds and different dimensions visited by the crew of the U.S.S. Enterprise.

Discover the amazing science of Star Trek and how it has influenced real-world technology such as flip phones.  Featuring informative and analytical text combined with exciting photography and infographics throughout, The Star Trek Book is broken down into main categories such as science and technology, Starfleet, allies and enemies, and more.

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Wolverine in X-Men Apocalypse

Just like the new Spider-Man made his first appearance last month in a surprise trailer reveal (see it here if you missed it) for Captain America: Civil War, Wolverine is making a similar showing in the latest trailer for X-Men: Apocalypse.  Is that Hugh Jackman’s arm?  We’re betting he’s back once again for his penultimate appearance with the claws before he goes off into the sunset after one last swagger in Wolverine 3.

Director Bryan Singer must have had a great time putting together the latest characters and actors for world of the X-Men.  This latest trailer is wall-to-wall action, previewing some of the humor the franchise is known for, and showcasing the leadership qualities of Jennifer Lawrence ‘s Raven/Mystique.  And we finally get a first good look at Olivia Munn’s Psylocke taking on Nicholas Hoult’s Beast.

X-men trailer

But don’t take our word for it.  Check out this supposed final trailer for X-Men: Apocalypse:

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XFiles-01-cvr-    mic a

IDW Publishing is releasing the first issues of two new monthly series tomorrow that you’ll want to add to your comic book pull list.  And borg.com has previews for our readers of the first issue of both series, thanks to IDW Publishing (after the break below).

First up, The X-Files begins again, this time as a follow-up to the Fox TV mini-series re-launch.  The series is written by Joe Harris with art by Matthew Dow Smith and color work by Jordie Bellaire.  Keep an eye out for variant covers, too:

XFiles-01-cvrRI-     New X files variant

And the re-launch you’ve been waiting a lifetime for–Micronauts are back!  Uncanny X-Men writer Cullen Bunn will be scripting the series with artwork by David Baldeón.     Check out the great cover gallery we previewed earlier here at borg.com.

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Huntsman

Review by Elizabeth C. Bunce

We’ve said it before: It’s the rare sequel that’s actually better than its preceding installment (Terminator 2, The Empire Strikes Back, Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban), but back in a preview last month here at borg.com, we predicted that The Huntsman: Winter’s War might just break through to join those few.  The original Snow White & The Huntsman (2012) was fun but forgettable, despite high-profile headliners Kristen Stewart (the Twilight Saga), Chris Hemsworth (Thor, Star Trek), and Charlize Theron (Mad Max: Fury Road, The Italian Job, Aeon Flux).  It must have been fun enough, however, since Theron and Hemsworth, along with several other original cast members, signed on for a second film–and convinced star-powered newcomers Emily Blunt (Edge of Tomorrow, The Adjustment Bureau) and Jessica Chastain (Crimson Peak, Zero Dark Thirty) to join them.  Thanks in no small part to the stellar cast, plus gorgeous special effects, and elaborate costumes by Academy Award-winning costumer Colleen Atwood (Arrow), The Huntsman: Winter’s War stepped up its game and really delivered a great fantasy film experience.

It’s no secret that a great backstory adds layers and richness to a film, and filmmakers capitalized on that to develop the all-new plot to Winter’s War, reaching well beyond the Grimm-fairytale framework of the “Snow White” story.  In the original film we were introduced to Theron’s incarnation of Snow White’s evil stepmother, Queen Ravenna, and her magical, corrupting golden mirror.  In Winter’s War, we meet Ravenna’s younger sister, the lovely Freya, content to live in her sister’s shadow, as long as she has love in her life.  But when her infant daughter dies, Freya’s heart is frozen, and her own cold magic awakens.  In an unsubtle nod to Disney’s Frozen, Freya becomes the Ice Queen (actually called “The Frozen Queen” in the trailer), and conquers all the lands of the north, marshaling unbeatable armies of child soldiers she raises in place of her lost daughter.  “In my kingdom we have but one law,” she says: “Do not love.”

Hunstman and Sara

Inevitably, two of her most prized soldiers–her children–break that law.  Young warriors Sara (Chastain) and Eric (Hemsworth) woo and wed in secret, until betrayed and ripped apart by the queen’s jealousy.  Eric ends up in service to Ravenna, to play out the adventure in The Huntsman.  Seven years pass, and Winter’s War then turns from prequel to sequel.  When in service to Snow White’s kingdom, Eric is charged with a task worthy of a true Huntsman: Recover Ravenna’s mirror and deliver it safely to Sanctuary, where it and its magic can be locked away for good.  Thus begins a lively quest, aided by familiar dwarf ally Nion (Nick Frost, Shaun of the Dead, Attack the Block) and delightful newcomers Mrs. Bromwyn (Sheridan Smith, Galivant), Gryff (Rob Bryson, Cinderella), and Doreena (Alexandra Roach, Being Human).

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For lucky canine-loving fanboys and fangirls out there who subscribe to LootCrate’s LootPets monthly box service, one of the best fantasy comic book series arrived on their doorstep this past week.  Originally a webcomic, the first year of Mike Norton‘s 2012 Eisner Award winning Battlepug was released back in 2012 by Dark Horse in a hardcover version and Volume 1 is now making an appearance across the globe in a trade edition thanks to LootPets.

What is Battlepug?  Norton artfully scribed another story of the Arabian Nights, even told by Sheherazade herself, only in Battlepug her name is Moll, a storyteller recounting the “Tale of the Warrior and the Battlepug” to her two pug dogs.  Norton goes where no one has gone before, recounting the origin story of a Conan type warrior set upon revenge resulting from a certain hell that laid waste to his people, leaving him the last Kinmundian.  And the form of destruction?  A giant (cute), evil (really cute), white harp seal.  And yes, our warrior has his revenge, off-camera beating the seal to death with a giant candy cane.  In taking that revenge he must defeat another oppressor, the king of the Northland Elves, who decrees a life of servitude for our hero.  The king himself is none other than Santa Claus himself, although not referred by that name.

Jadie adventure time shirt for borgdotcom

This all sounds very dark, doesn’t it?  How can it be funny and so good?  It’s in the delivery–putting such untouchables in such unthinkable situations is perfection. And it’s just really good.  I haven’t even mentioned the curse of the thousand angry gophers, the “scribbly scrabbly” crazy man who accompanies our hero, the fate of the witch toad, the almighty God-dog the White, or even the entry of the eager and brave Battlepug into the story.

Back in a review of Battlepug here at borg.com in 2012, I compared Norton’s series to David Petersen’s Mouse Guard, a series of comic books that when compiled read like classic children’s storybooks.  Norton and Petersen have this niche in common with their books–you want to sit down and have storytime.  These guys are among the best Eisner Award winning comic book artists that write as well as they draw, and they are both among the nicest guys in the business you’ll ever meet.  With Battlepug you have beautiful images, interesting and funny surprise characters, and a narrative structure and tale that would fall alongside any other classic tale on your bookshelf.  It’s no wonder Norton was recognized by the Eisner committee–this isn’t only crazy silliness, it’s a story with roots in classic fiction and the beginnings of a character who could hold his own with Conan and Tarzan.

So what else made the LootPets crate this month?

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Labyrinth shirt

Loot Crate continues to be one of the best buys on the market in the monthly collectibles grab bag space at less than $20 per month.  Across all boxes, whether it’s Nerd Block, Comic Con Box, or any other, the fantasy themed boxes only seem to come around once or so per year, but when they do it is easy to make the genre base happy.  And that was no less true this month with the Quest themed box from Loot Crate.

One of the most untapped franchises for fan merchandise is History Channel’s Vikings series.  We’ve talked about the comic books before here at borg.com, but have not stumbled across much for fans to buy.  So we were ecstatic to not only find a Vikings item in the crate but a cosplay-worthy 1:2 scale replica of Floki’s drinking horn complete with wearing strap.  Although you wouldn’t wear it if you’re after a full-sized large horn for your fantasy or historical costume, it will work fine for those who prefer carrying the smaller horns during Renaissance Faire season.  And it looks great.  Of course when you’re ready for the real thing, check out our friend’s shop, Wildman Drinking Horns, here.  Randy has the best real drinking horns around.

Vikings Floki Viking horn    Floki Vikings horn replica

With the passing of David Bowie and rejuvenated interest in the classic 1986 adventure film Labyrinth co-starring Jennifer Connelly, incorporating a clever labyrinthine box design and well-designed T-shirt was a good move for Loot Crate.  See the shirt design above and fold-out box below.

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Jason Bourne

Universal Pictures has released a full-length trailer for Jason Bourne following up on the short teaser released Super Bowl weekend.  Unlike 2012’s last film in the franchise, The Bourne Legacy starring Jeremy Renner, Matt Damon is back for his fourth appearance as Bourne following 2002’s original The Bourne Identity, 2004’s The Bourne Supremacy, and 2007’s The Bourne Ultimatum. 

It will be a bit of a deja vu, as Julia Stiles is back in her third stint in the franchise.  The Bourne movies, based on Robert Ludlum’s books, are a lot like Tom Cruise in the Mission Impossible movies–after a while they all seem to run together.  We were fans of the first film, especially co-star Franka Potente (Copper, The Bridge, Dark Matter).

This time out, newly-minted Oscar winner Alicia Vikander joins the ranks of Bourne chasers, along with Oscar winner Tommy Lee Jones, and multiple Oscar nominee Albert Finney makes an appearance in the trailer.

jason bourne poster

So here it is, the trailer for the fifth film in the series, Jason Bourne:

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Mag 7

Sony has finally released the first trailer for the remake of The Magnificent Seven, which we first previewed here at borg.com last May.  Based on a reworked script by Nic Pizzolatto (True Detective) and John Lee Hancock (Snow White And The Huntsman) from the classic John Sturges film starring Yul Brynner and Steve McQueen, the new version will be directed by Antoine Fuqua (The Equalizer, Shooter, King Arthur, Training Day). 

The list of leading actors is promising: Denzel Washington (2 Guns, Unstoppable, The Manchurian Candidate, Training Day, Philadelphia, Much Ado About Nothing), Chris Pratt (Guardians of the Galaxy, Jurassic World, Moneyball, Everwood), Vincent D’Onofrio (Men in Black, Jurassic World, Daredevil), Byung-hun Lee (Terminator Genisys, G.I. Joe: Retaliation, G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra, RED 2), Matt Bomer (White Collar, Tru Calling, Chuck), and Ethan Hawke (Gattaca, Dead Poet’s Society, White Fang, Alive, Training Day, Assault on Precinct 13) should come together to form an interesting ensemble cast.

The 1960 cast was as gritty as they come: Brynner and McQueen were joined by Charles Bronson, James Coburn, and Robert Vaughn with Brad Dexter and Horst Buchholz.

Magnificent Seven clip

If you think a remake of one of the greatest Westerns of all time is a bad idea, recall that The Magnificent Seven itself was a remake of Akira Kurasawa’s equally superb The Seven Samurai from 1954, starring Takashi Shimura and Toshirô Mifune.  We’d also count Washington, Bomer, Hawke, Lee, and Pratt among our favorite actors in Hollywood, so this is promising.  Other actors slated for the remake include Peter Sarsgaard, Luke Grimes, and Haley Bennett (who is a ringer for Bryce Dallas Howard in the previews).

Check out this first trailer for The Magnificent Seven:

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