Archive for September, 2016


i-am-jane-goodall

Do you remember your first book?  Was it Grover and the Monster at the End of This Book?  Winnie the Pooh and Eeyore’s Birthday?  A Child’s Garden of Verses?  De Angeli’s Book of Nursery & Mother Goose Rhymes?  The Pokey Little Puppy?  Milton the Early Riser?  Horton Hears a Who?  The Little Golden Book of Manners?  The Five Chinese Brothers?  The Ugly Duckling?  Curious George Goes to the Hospital?  I remember all of these (all recommended), but am not sure which was my very first.  A Child’s Garden of Verses was my first exposure to 3D via its magical lenticular cover.  I’ve read them all years later and they have much in common–compassion and respect for others and yourself is a common theme of them all.

Throughout the past year Brad Meltzer, noted fiction and non-fiction author and television personality (and DC Comics writer for the Identity Crisis and Green Arrow series) joined former Marvel Comics artist Christopher Eliopoulos to produce the Ordinary People Change the World series of books for young readers from Dial/Penguin/Random House.  Each of these could–or should–be your child, your nephew, niece, grandchild, or other young friend’s first book.  The latest, released this month, feature Dr. Jane Goodall and President George Washington.  As the holidays get closer, make a note of I Am Jane Goodall.   It’s a storybook written in an autobiographical style incorporating actual quotes from the noted scientist, environmentalist, and animal rights advocate, and belongs at the top of our recommendation list for today’s young readers.

jane-goodall-with-book

Meltzer and Dr. Goodall have gone back to young Goodall’s decisions and thinking as a child to relate to readers her influences, desires, and dreams, and how she went about carving a path to change the world.  Eliopoulos draws Dr. Goodall as an adorable girl throughout.  We meet her first stuffed chimp named Jubilee, and witness her thinking about moving to Africa to study chimpanzees at a young age, then actually saving the money to go to Kenya at 23 to visit the animals, meet Dr. Louis Leakey and eventually work for him, then to go on and live among the animals and learn more about communication and primates than anyone before her.  The story is sweet, inspiring, and beautifully written and drawn.

Continue reading

orphan-black

Even more so than the annual Academy Awards for achievements in film, the Primetime Emmy Awards seem to either award the same thing every year or never get around to awarding series, actors, and creative voices that really push the bounds of the ordinary.  Is that a generalization ripe for argument?  Of course.  But when you watch as much television as we do here at borg.com, at some point years ago we just turned off the TV award shows and never looked back.

So what changed this year?  Tatiana Maslany won best actress in a drama for Orphan Black.  Rami Malek won best actor in a drama for Mr. Robot.  Louie Anderson won best supporting actor for Baskets.  And the special Sherlock–The Abominable Bride won for best TV movie.  So what poles shifted?  What constellations re-aligned?  What does that mean if our own best picks align with Emmy voters?  Are we finally “in-touch”?

louie-anderson-baskets

Take Tatiana Maslany, a top borg.com pick three years in a row for best actress in television (or any other medium).  Not to slight her wonderful supporting cast, but she’s practically a one-woman show, playing a half a dozen characters each season–and seven this year in her fourth season playing clone sestra–meaning every scene is critical and must reflect Maslany’s work–and viewer believability–as a completely different person.  She never gets the luxury of “phoning in” a performance.  The result is top-notch television, and the best acting and toughest role we’ve ever seen, executed with mastery.  Go Clone Club!

Continue reading

skybourne001covbaltimore-600x910    skybourne001covmidtown-600x923

It’s a useful story tool when used right: The historical talisman presented to a modern character who uses the power of that talisman to do harm or save the world.  We’ve seen it throughout The Librarian, Warehouse 13, Ray Bradbury Theater, Raiders of the Lost Ark, Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, Highlander, Witchblade, Wynonna Earp, The Shannara Chronicles–it’s everywhere, and it’s timeless.  Frank Cho uses the same method to drive the story forward in his new five-issue, creator-owned, limited monthly series Skybourne.

Released this month from BOOM! Studios, Skybourne has what every comic book reader could want–Cho created the covers, the interior art, and scripted the story for a brand new action heroine.  The title character Grace Skybourne has been compared to James Bond–she has Daniel Craig’s Bond’s lightning reflexes and ability to level a room with her little finger.  And she’s an agent every woman wants to be and every man wants to be with.  So the Bond comparison rings true.  Cho used covers originally intended for DC Comics’s Wonder Woman series for this series, and it may very well be true that Grace Skybourne–and Cho’s series–is the Wonder Woman series we all wish he’d write.

grace-skybourne-frank-cho

In Issue #1 we meet Grace Skybourne and witness her abilities firsthand as she eliminates one baddie Terminator style and gracefully slips through a cover-to-cover fight scene straight out of John Carpenter’s They Live.  And because this is a Frank Cho project–being tough doesn’t mean she can’t be gorgeous and feminine along the way.  She’s searching for the story’s MacGuffin: King Arthur’s sword Excalibur.  Be prepared for some surprises.  Most of her foes take her for granted, but not all.  Cho’s choreography of combat and layouts are clean, simple, and as superb as you’d expect.  And his humor is back as well.  Color work is nicely rendered by Marcio Menyz. Continue reading

mycroft-cover-b    mycroft-2

We’ve seen some celebrities turn to the unlikely medium of comic books to tell their stories recently.  First, we saw Rock and Roll Hall of Famer Darryl McDaniels turn to comic books to tell his own story under the DMC label.  Then Congressman John Lewis wrote a graphic novel about the civil rights movement called March–winning countless awards this year.  Now basketball legend and activist Kareem Abdul-Jabbar has adapted Arthur Conan Doyle’s Mycroft Holmes into the next best steampunk comic book series.

Mycroft Holmes and the Apocalypse Handbook, co-created with writer Raymond Obstfeld, artist Joshua Cassara, colorist Luis Guerrero, and lettered by Simon Bowland, is the ultimate mash-up of 19th century science fiction and fantasy motifs.  Sherlock’s smarter brother has been kidnapped by Queen Victoria, tasked with deciphering a building full of broken doomsday machines capable of doing the unthinkable.  Think Warehouse 13, if a suave Brit (think James Bond), with a quirky analytical mind (think Doctor Who) is plunged into a world-ending event and an impossible task to solve.

mycroft-holmes-kareem-abdul-jabbar

Mycroft Holmes reads like Bill Willingham’s Legenderry–A Steampunk Adventure and Alan Moore’s The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, only with five issues to speed through the story the action is quick, the dialogue is brief, and the banter is witty and fun.  Abdul-Jabbar, who became a fan of reading Arthur Conan Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes stories early in his NDA career, grew to become a connoisseur of 19th century fiction including Holmes and his infamous brother, enough to write the novel Mycroft Holmes–A Novel with screenwriter Anna Waterhouse, published last year.   Mycroft Holmes and the Apocalypse Handbook takes Mycroft on a parallel-world adventure from the Mycroft of Abdul-Jabbar’s novel.

Continue reading

triggerman_1_cover_a    peepland_1_cover_c

Some of our favorite books we’ve reviewed at borg.com are the pulp noir novels from Titan Books’ Hard Case Crime imprint.  We’ve read the obscure-but-excellent, previously unpublished or out-of-print works from the likes of Stephen King, Gore Vidal, Ed McBain, Michael Crichton, and more, all from one publishing house.  Next month Hard Case Crime is turning to the comic book medium to offer new, serialized stories that could have come straight from early 20th century magazines.  And we have previews below for borg.com readers.

First up is Triggerman, Issue #1, available in comic book stores this week.  It’s a Prohibition era story from producer/screenwriter/director giant Walter Hill (Deadwood, Red Heat, Aliens film series, Last Man Standing, Geronimo, Rustler’s Rhapsody, Crossroads, 48 Hrs, Brewster’s Millions, The Getaway, The Long Riders), French writer Matz, and the artist known as Jef, who supplies some evocative, classic pulp style imagery.  It’s billed as a Lawless meets Bonnie & Clyde story.  Fans of Road to Perdition will love this series.

triggerman_1_cover_b    peepland_1_cover_d

Peepland, Issue #1, begins a semi-autobiographical, neo-noir tale from novelists Christa Faust (Money Shot, Nightmare on Elm Street) & Gary Phillips (The Underbelly, The Rinse).  Peepland is billed as Taxi Driver meets Goodfellas, with gorgeous art from Andrea Camerini (Il Troio).  Fans of Howard Chaykin’s Satellite Sam should check out this new series.

Here are preview pages and cover art, courtesy of Hard Case Crime:
Continue reading

ripley-and-newt

Review by C.J. Bunce

Aliens is a film like no other, a rare sequel that is arguably as good or better than the original.  It’s horror, but even more so than the original Alien, it is a science fiction classic in its own right.  Aliens was ahead of its time, a successful blockbuster from James Cameron, who quickly put together a story treatment and sold the studio on his vision of the follow-on to Ridley Scott’s unique and acclaimed original.  Last month here at borg.com we reviewed Aliens–The Set Photography, a new book chronicling the creative work behind Aliens released for the film’s 30th anniversary.  Action-packed with top-notch acting from Sigourney Weaver and a great supporting cast, plus some of Stan Winston’s best creature work, Aliens rightfully is getting the 30th anniversary treatment this month in Blu-ray.

Aliens is one of about a dozen science fiction or horror films to earn Academy Awards.  It won two, for visual effects and sound editing.  It was also nominated for art direction, sound, film editing and original score.  Better yet, Sigourney Weaver earned her much deserved first nomination for best actress.  Weaver’s Ellen Ripley is among science fiction’s best performances, and Weaver the core of what made the franchise and this film successful.  The anniversary release includes two previously released versions, the 1986 original theatrical version and the 1991 extended edition.  If you missed the extended edition, it’s well worth your time.  Ripley gets more screen-time, and more character development, including the dichotomy between the death of Ripley’s daughter mirroring the Alien queen’s protection of her offspring–it’s great fun to see a character you think you know in scenes not included in the original version you saw in the theater.

aliens-30th-anniversary-edition-release

The extended edition commentary track is as good as you’ll find on any disc.  Where most releases these days include the director or producer and one or two cast members, the commentary accompanying the extended edition includes far more–a treasure trove of content and insights into the film.  You’ll hear details on movie making from director James Cameron, producer Gale Anne Hurd, the late, great, alien effects creator Stan Winston, visual effects supervisors Robert Skotak and Dennis Skotak, miniature effects supervisor Pat McClung, and actors Michael Biehn, Bill Paxton, Lance Henriksen, Jenette Goldstein, Carrie Henn, and Christopher Henn.

Continue reading

gotham-court-of-owls

When we last saw Gotham, Fish Mooney (Jada Pinkett Smith) was returning to the series to lead a group of denizens from Indian Hill, a motley band of “enhanced” people created by Dr. Hugo Strange (BD Wong).  Jim Gordon (Ben McKenzie), no longer with the police force, is still working with Harvey Bullock (Donal Logue), but he’s now in bounty hunter mode, investigating the Court of Owls.

Gotham dials up more villainy in Season 3, beginning next week, with The Mad Hatter (Benedict Samuel), Poison Ivy (Maggie Geha taking over from the younger Clare Foley), Calendar Man from The Long Halloween, a Bruce Wayne doppelganger (David Mazouz), and more of Oswald Cobblepot (Robin Lord Taylor) and his rise in power, Edward Nygma (Cory Michael Smith) and his downward spiral, Selina Kyle (Camren Bicondova), Barbera Kean (Erin Richards), and Fish Mooney.  Morena Baccarin is also back as Gordon’s girlfriend Dr. Leslie Thompkins, along with Sean Pertwee as Alfred Pennyworth and Michael Chiklis as Nathaniel Barnes.

jim-gordon-ben-mckenzie

Check out these previews for Season 3 of Gotham:

Continue reading

gojira

It’s probably fair to say that all we really need to know about Shin Gojira or Godzilla: Resurgence (with Shin meaning all or either of “rebirth,” “renew,” “reboot,” or even “God” and Gojira as the Japanese name for Godzilla) is in the trailers that have now been released.  The Japanese film appears to be more homage than reboot, using original music (at least in the trailers) and a style that looks like a modern director trying to merge classic giant Japanese monster movies with American 1970s Irwin Allen disaster films.  Fair warning:  This is not a sequel to the U.S. Godzilla movies.  It is a reboot of the Japanese 2004 version featuring the same giant monster that perennially wreaks havoc with Japan.

Advance reviews from Westerners confirm what it all looks like: bad acting, strange direction with much of the film consisting of office interiors with close-ups on the reactions of astonished citizens, and little screen-time for the title baddie.  The U.S. trailer, released this week, will be painful to most.  Yet there is something nostalgic about the retro sci-fi kaiju look, the cuts, the sound effects and music in the trailer.  Several Japanese trailers devote less time to office interiors and close-ups and give us a better look at Godzilla.  Will Japan audiences see this in a similar way to how American audiences have reacted to Netflix’s 1980s throwback show Stranger Things?

shin-godzilla-resurgence-gojira-poster

As for the local response, Shin Gojira is already a hit in Japan, released there in late July, garnering high praise for being loyal to the character while offering a commentary on the current culture and politics of Japan.  One Godzilla fansite warns American audiences to view the film with that in mind.  It’s not targeted at international viewers and the message of the film may not translate, despite the subtitles.

Continue reading

cyclotron

If you happened to watch the men’s or women’s cycling races at this year’s Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, you know cycling can be exciting (and dangerous!).  We don’t know if the latest technology in cycling will result in top racing speeds, but the coolest design we’ve seen since the Montague Hummer folding bicycle was introduced in 2002 is the new Cyclotron.  The hubless “smart bike” is inspired by the Tron video game, especially the lightcycle style from the 2010 movie Tron: Legacy.  If only it came with a Daft Punk helmet!

The Cyclotron is the idea of a company called Cyclotron Cycles, and the result is a successful funding campaign with 132 backers that raised more than $50,000 via Kickstarter this past July.  Funders are still welcome to participate, with bike order options between $1,330 for a 12-speed and $2,990 for the deluxe 18-speed model still available.  Not only is the design state-of-the-art, so are the extra features.

It’s made from ultra-lightweight “space grade carbon fiber” with spokeless, airless, 6,000 mile capable wheels that actually can store your groceries or supplies as you travel.  What?!?  The website has the details.  The Cyclotron has an electronic gear box and chainless drive train.  Integrated smart lights and Halo LED wheels will make you visible at night like no other bike (and you’ll look very cool, too).  It has a bike laser lane projector to alert those around you.  And if you don’t like the futuristic lightcycle look (gasp)–they offer decals to change the look altogether.

cyclotron-to-the-grocery-store

Check out the Cyclotron in action:

Continue reading

star-wars-green-screen

Back in 1998, before the Star Wars prequels, PC users were given the first public look at the deleted scenes from Star Wars–the original, Episode IV, A New Hope, etc.  A two-CD-ROM set called Star Wars: Behind the Magic whetted the appetites of fans who were soon going to be able to see a new Star Wars movie for the first time in 16 years.  Deleted scenes?  Lucas shot scenes we hadn’t yet seen?   Finally those still images we only saw as kids in The Star Wars Storybook came to life, like this guy that looked like Clark Gable or Tom Selleck named Biggs Darklighter, with Luke Skywalker and a group of his young friends just hanging out on Tatooine.  Some of the deleted scenes never made it back into George Lucas’s re-worked final canon version of the trilogy.  But the data on those CD-ROMs was unprecedented, and better compiled and searchable than much information available even today on the Internet.

So we were excited to see Industrial Light and Magic release a new Behind the Magic entry this past week, even if only a few minutes long, this time for Star Wars: The Force Awakens.  The reel, posted to YouTube by ILMVisualFX, is a bit of a rollercoaster ride through all the layers of CGI and blue screen work required to create so many locations, special effects, characters, and visual spectacles.  It’s wired up with crazy sound, too, and just might make you dizzy as you fall in and out of scene after scene.

star-wars-behind-the-magic   star-wars-storybook

For fans of Star Wars waiting for the release of Rogue One: A Star Wars Story in December, and the release of the 3D edition of Star Wars: The Force Awakens in November discussed here previously at borg.com, and featuring even more behind the scenes features, this new reel just locks in our fanboy and fangirl need for that 3D edition.

Check out this behind the scenes look at last year’s–and this year’s–biggest film, in Behind the Magic: The Visual Effects of Star Wars: The Force Awakens:

Continue reading

%d bloggers like this: