Review by C.J. Bunce
If your only exposure to Orcs is in the J.R.R. Tolkien Middle-earth stories, be prepared for a different look at this fantasy species in Christie Golden’s new novel Warcraft: Durotan, prequel to the upcoming Legendary Pictures Warcraft movie. We’ve reviewed many franchise tie-in novels over the years here at borg.com and plenty of prequels. Warcraft: Durotan is a surprisingly original novel, giving us a unique, sympathetic look at what you may otherwise only know as brainless, barbarian fantasy monsters.
Warcraft is of course the film adaptation of the megahit series of videogames. It opened this weekend internationally to some early box office success. Duncan Jones (Moon, Source Code), director of the film and son of the late David Bowie, star of Labyrinth and fan of fantasy films, has said he previewed the film for his father, who was excited about the movie. We previewed the movie trailer earlier here at borg.com. It stars Vikings lead actor Travis Fimmel, along with Clancy Brown, Daniel Wu, Paula Patton, Dominic Cooper, and Ben Foster.
You don’t need to have any background with the video games to enjoy the prequel novel. It will be familiar to fans of the games, but deviates from the video game story. Some fans of the games will like it, some won’t. Durotan is the son of a chieftain of a clan of Orcs. When Durotan steps into the leadership role of his clan he must learn to balance the traditions of the past with the very survival of his clan. Warcraft: Durotan is a solid fantasy story, but it could easily be the story of an actual Native American tribe, a Viking or Highland clan, an Aztec tribe, ancient Spartans, a band of Mongols, or even a family in a Louis L’Amour Old West novel. Durotan’s trials are the trials of any leader whose people are plagued with crisis after crisis. Loyalty, bravery, sacrifice, tradition, mythology, and folklore all come into play.
The “space adventure” is one of those sub-genres of science fiction that is not easy to define succinctly. Star Wars is science fantasy because of the existence of magic, and basic swords and sorcery elements. Star Trek and Firefly are science fiction since it is grounded in reality and attempts, with some exceptions, to steer clear of fantasy elements. Alien, Predators, and The Thing are sci-fi horror. So what is the space adventure? All of these arguably cross over into that category.
The space adventure story must exist at least in part in outer space or outer space must be a key part of the story. It may be easier to list off examples. You know a space adventure when you see it. The best ever may be Guardians of the Galaxy. The River Phoenix/Ethan Hawke film Explorers and Flight of the Navigator are great examples. Avatar, Zathura, Wall-E, and Titan AE, seem to fit, and maybe even Starman, Super 8, Howard the Duck, *batteries not included, E.T., the Extraterrestrial, and Thor arguably fit the category, although there are plenty of other ways to categorize alien visitation films (including Superhero movies). What about Armaggeddon and Gravity?
The new film The Space Between Us appears to fit the space adventure label. Not so heavy on the science, or not appearing to let science get too much in the way of the basic character study, the focus is on the adventure, the awe brought to the lead characters in light of something unique or special.
Project-Nerd Publishing’s new series Barrens spread like wildfire last weekend at its debut at Kansas City’s Planet Comicon. The regular first issue of the series is still available at the publisher’s website (and we hope they get it into your local comic book store soon) but the variant cosplay cover featuring series lead character Esme Ford has already sold out. So order your copy of the regular edition here before it sells out, too.
We previewed Barrens here at borg.com last year. The creative team of writer CW Cooke (Solitary) and Bryan Timmins (The Monster King) knocked the first chapter of the series out of the park. If you liked the Mad Max series, Steve Niles and Kevin Mellon’s American Muscle, Tank Girl, The Postman, or A Boy and his Dog, you’ll want to get in at the beginning of the series.
Somewhere in post-apocalyptic America there’s a job needing carried out. And when you have a job in the Barrens requiring some leverage you hire Esme Ford and her ragtag gang who probably has been working together too long. Ford has a past she’s not sharing, and when she encounters another gang who is just a bit tougher, will they let her keep going on her mission? And who hired her anyway?
You probably saw the television series starring The Terminator’s Linda Hamilton and pre-Hellboy Ron Perlman. You’ve also probably seen the Academy Award nominee for Best Picture, Disney’s animated Beauty and the Beast–arguably the finest Disney film in its animation vault. Coming next year to the big screen is a new, live-action version of Beauty and the Beast, starring the Harry Potter series’ Emma Watson as Belle. Academy Award winning screenplay writer Bill Condon (Gods and Monsters, Chicago, the Twilight series) is directing the picture.
Despite press accounts to the contrary, don’t look for an adaptation of the classic fairy tale, but an adaptation of the animated Disney film as the original did not have the talking furniture or most of the other characters created for the 1991 film. The first teaser trailer dropped this week for the 2017 release, and viewership surpassed Star Wars: The Force Awakens with more than 91 million views in its first day of release. You haven’t watched it yet? We have queued up this very pretty teaser for you below, after the break.
Dan Stevens (Night at the Museum 2, Sense and Sensibility) co-stars as The Beast, and the rest of the cast is full of familiar genre favorites. The Hobbit’s Luke Evans is the swaggering Gaston, Kevin Kline (Dave, Silverado) is Belle’s father Maurice, the Star Wars prequels’ Ewan McGregor is Lumiere, the candelabrum (originally voiced by the late Jerry Orbach), Stanley Tucci is the harpsichord, Audra McDonald (Kidnapped) is the wardrobe, and anglophiles will be happy to see The Hobbit and X-Men’s Ian McKellen as Cogsworth the clock and Emma Thompson (Much Ado About Nothing) as Mrs. Potts, the teapot.
Check out this popular first trailer for Beauty and the Beast:
WELCOME TO EARTH-4
A Column by J. Torrey McClain
For most of 10 Cloverfield Lane, the story takes place in an underground bunker without a view into the outside world. I dig those types of movies, like Room, where the audience is left to imagine what really is outside the camera’s purview. The movies hint at something horrible outside until it is confirmed through a kidnapper or a woman scarred by some unknown pathogen, microscopic or much larger. But, for a short time, we all have different ideas of what is happening in the world outside the movie. What rarely pokes its head into our thoughts is what is happening outside the theater as we watch the make believe on the screen.
As a former janitor of a movie theater (as I have talked about before in my explorations in the horror genre) I began to see the theater as a closed environment. While in the theater, the movie audience has no clue what is happening in the real world (assuming they turn their phones to silent and keep them in their purses or pockets). From the time the overhead lights dim until they brighten again, the only world the viewer knows is that dark room with a story that envelops them in projected light and sound.
A lot can happen in as little as 90 minutes. The world we know when we walk through the theater door can change dramatically. It can be a local event or a worldwide one. Only if it is big enough to stir the theater itself or to cause our phones to suddenly beep with emergency messages will it enter our awareness. The real world might never cut through the sound of Space Marines exploring an abandoned space colony or the laughs that erupt when watching two idiots clad in neon tuxedos trying to one up each other. It has to be something big for us to turn our attention away from The Terminator as the future hangs in the balance once again.
Who knows what secrets lurk in the hearts of men?
Lamont Cranston–The Shadow.
Dynamite Comics delved into its recent series that have incorporated the popular pulp character The Shadow and compiled select images into a hardcover edition to be published later this year. The Dynamite Art of The Shadow will feature 320 images from the past four years from Dynamite works featuring the character. Dynamite is also releasing the trade paperback edition of one if its titles featuring The Shadow tomorrow, The Shadow: The Last Illusion. We have previews of both for you below, after the break.
Key artists you’ll find in The Dynamite Art of The Shadow include Alex Ross (his cover is pictured above), and pictured below, the works of Francesco Francavilla, Howard Chaykin, Alex Ross, Matt Wagner, Darwyn Cooke, and John Cassaday, among dozens of other artists.
A foreword will be provided by noted Batman movies producer Michael Uslan. “If you go with the radio version, he was invisible and had the power to cloud men’s minds,” said Uslan in his foreword. “If you prefer the pulp version, he mastered the art of stealth in the shadows. Either way, what a challenge to artists to attempt to bring this character to life in a visual medium like comic books! But without a Shadow of a doubt, the deed was done and the coup was pulled off by generation after generation of artists from the 1930’s to today, building a legend of contemporary mythology in the process and making The Shadow one of the most widely known characters in pop culture history. With a line-up of interior Shadow stories by top, cutting-edge graphic storytellers, Dynamite was able to hit home run after home run with its choice of cover artists, ranging from the top painters to top traditional comic book artists to top cartoonists.”
The first detailed images of Rogue One: A Star Wars Story have been released as part of preview pages for an upcoming book. Media Lab Books’ Rogue One: A Star Wars Story–Official Visual Story Guide, a 164-page hardcover book that is not scheduled for release until next January, will provide an in-depth guide to a film that will likely be another worldwide blockbuster For Disney this December. Our first previews of the movie from the book include character descriptions, spacecraft new and old, story segment synopses, and artwork showing some peeks at what we can look forward to.
Most fun for fans of the Timothy Zahn novels is a Grand Admiral Thrawn-garbed Imperial leader (also similar to one of the guys in the original Death Star meeting with Vader and Tarkin). We also get to understand why Firefly’s Alan Tudyk has not been seen in the initial preview images (such as the first full-length trailer we discussed previously here at borg.com). And the most exciting find is the image of Darth Vader. You’ll need to wait until actual details of his appearance in the film as a main character or in merely a cameo role until the film premieres.
Unless you want to see nothing of the movie until you watch it in the theater, after the break dig into the 15 preview pages, and learn a little about U-Wing Fighters and Imperial TIE Strikers, as well as Director Krennic, Enforcer Droid K-250, Jyn Erso, Bodhi, Bistan, Captain Andor, Chirrut, Pao, and Baze. You don’t know these names now, but we have a good feeling you’ll know them quite well by this time next year.
Pre-order your copy of Rogue One: A Star Wars Story–Official Visual Story Guide at Amazon.com here now.
Along with a new poster, this weekend Paramount launched an attempt to save face from last year’s first trailer debacle with a more traditional sci-fi action film trailer attempting to hit all the marks detractors of the first trailer have long been hoping for. But what is this about? Is it really just an action-packed road race across the stars? The first of the reboots–the 2009 J.J. Abrams film Star Trek–was a trek to the past. The 2013 sequel Star Trek Into Darkness looked back to the series’ most popular and possibly darkest villains. So what is the “beyond” in this year’s Star Trek Beyond? The preview doesn’t provide much of a clue.
What does come through after about a dozen views and reviews is that the next Star Trek film, as with earlier Trek stories, looks back to earlier films for inspiration or all-out copying. A scene with the Enterprise in spacedock conjures the long, long scene where Scotty flies Kirk to the Enterprise in Star Trek: The Motion Picture. The Enterprise is ripped apart here evidently for good, harkening back to the destruction of the ship in Star Trek III: The Search for Spock. If we’re back in STIII territory, can we at least see Commander Kruge again? Please?
The new trailer reveals a movie that appears to have more in common with Star Trek Nemesis and Star Trek Insurrection than any other past incarnation of Star Trek. It is difficult to look at the prosthetics on Idris Elba’s lead villain and not think of Star Trek Nemesis’s Reman warriors. And a planet-based story is something more along the lines of Star Trek Insurrection, Voyager’s “Basics” two-parter, and the original series episode “Arena”.
Is there going to be anything new for Star Trek fans in Star Trek Beyond?
Check out this second trailer for Star Trek Beyond: