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Archive for February, 2018


The most pervasive actress of the past two years, along with the stars of two of today’s biggest box office and critically acclaimed hits are all coming your way in May when HBO’s adaptation of Ray Bradbury’s sci-fi classic, Fahrenheit 451, arrives.  Sofia Boutella, star of every other box office champ in the past few years–the lead actress in Star Trek Beyond, Kingsman: The Secret Service, and The Mummy, and #2 actress in Atomic Blonde–will play nature-loving Clarisse McClellan.  But don’t look for her except for a passing frame in the first teaser released this week.

You will see the actor behind the villainy of Man of Steel and The Shape of Water, Michael Shannon, again pouring on the evil, this time as Captain Beatty, the steely smart but twisted Fire Captain.  And the actor behind the villain of the current #1 box office hit Black Panther, Michael B. Jordan, will portray the initially complacent protagonist of the story, the fireman Guy Montag.

Ray Bradbury‘s most famous work and a pinnacle of 20th century literature and social criticism, Fahrenheit 451 is filled with symbolism and messages no generation should forget.  Ramin Bahrani serves as both writer and director for the series.  Another familiar face to science fiction aficionados, Keir Dullea, plays the Historian in the series.

Check out this first look at HBO’s series Fahrenheit 451:

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Her name is Mindy McCready and she is one of superhero comics’ most kickass of action heroines.  You know her as the partner/sidekick from the pages of Mark Millar and John Romita, Jr.’s Kick-Ass comic book series, Mindy’s own ongoing series beginning in 2012, and two movies, Kick-Ass in 2010 and Kick-Ass 2 in 2013.  She’s eleven years old, and they call her Hit-Girl.  Hit-Girl is back in a new solo title beginning this month from Image Comics.

The first issue of the four-issue, limited series Hit-Girl in Colombia is full of the same irreverence the very unusual superheroine is known for.  Always slightly off in her methods, but true to her own superhero code, she’s ready to start blowing up bad guys.  But how far off can a girl be who is a fan of Hello Kitty and Clint Eastwood and John Woo movies?

  

Millar (who also wrote Kingsman: The Secret Service, Civil War, and Old Man Logan) returns as writer of this new story, and Ricardo Lopez Ortiz will be the series artist, with color work by Sunny Gho.  Hit-Girl goes off to the drug cartels of Colombia after she finds out the new guy she’s tagged as a replacement for the newly retired Dave Lizewski (aka Kick-Ass) is just not cutting it.  So she’s taken on a client who becomes her very own “guy in the chair” (actually a woman), and acquires a most unlikely sidekick to complete her mission.

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Review by C.J. Bunce

From the voiceover that introduces the new world of The Dark Crystal, like Cecil B. DeMille’s voice narrating some biblical film from the Golden Age of Hollywood, audiences instantly understand this story is going to be epic in scope.  Like Hiyao Miyazaki would create two years later in his Nausicaa and the Valley of the Wind, The Dark Crystal is unique in its creation of a fantasy that can’t be tied to Tolkien or Grimm or Baum or White.  If it’s at all derivative its source is the stuff of real-world ancient druids and mythologies outside the Western, Greco-Roman tradition.  The word classic is tied to The Dark Crystal.  It is that, the first and only film of its kind, devoid of humans or their interests, with a cast entirely of fantastical character creations.

Even if you’ve seen Jim Henson’s The Dark Crystal on home video recently, you’re likely to notice the detail and awe of the film much better on the big screen.  It returned to theaters Sunday with only five more screenings left as part of the Fathom Events series, showing at 700 theaters nationwide this week and next.  The sound is stunning in a new theater–much better for audiences with modern digital sound systems compared to its initial run back at the end of the year 1982–and the sound effects and sound editing are critical to the believability of these creations.  The music will pull you into this world.  From composer Trevor Jones, who would later create the music for Labyrinth, Sea of Love, Arachnophobia, Last of the Mohicans, Brassed Off, Dark City, From Hell, and The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, we’re treated to an emotional journey split cleanly in two, with mirrored bleak darkness and fear on the one side, and tranquil hillsides, spiritual communities, and idyllic, pastoral, quiet places on the other.  Jones’s score takes us through both the horrors of greed and gluttony with the Skeksis, and the sweeping, heroic journey of a hero and a prophecy.

Co-directed by Jim Henson and Frank Oz, the film demonstrates what a crew of like-minded creative artists can make.  Dozens of performers were required to operate even a few of the characters at a time, and many scenes feature the wide screen simply filled with characters, like the pantheon of ten Skeksis at the deathbed of the Emperor, or the journey of the nine Mystics to the Castle of the Crystal, to the celebrating village of dozens of Podlings, and the finale filled with members of all races, including the over-sized beetles called the Garthim.  The set for Aughra’s beautiful pinnacle of set pieces–the location of that mechanical wonder that is the Orrery–showcases a fantasy creation that has yet to be matched in any film.  Henson and Oz introduce the hero Jen to the room housing this device much like Dorothy’s first glimpse into the other Land of Oz.  An obvious precursor to steampunk, the Orrery is magnificent, and the stuff of true wonder.

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Tomorrow one of TV’s best and funniest shows adapted from a comic book returns.  iZombie enters its fourth season on the CW with the episode, “Are You Ready for Some Zombies?”  When we last left Rose McIver’s Dr. Liv Moore and her friends, Seattle became open for business to zombies, complete with food stands to feed the newly-exposed zombie population.  Showrunner Rob Thomas’s former Veronica Mars leading man Jason Dohring joined up in season three as Chase Graves, and when we saw him last he infected the flu vaccine with the zombie strain, furthering spreading the zombie population of Seattle, with included Det. Dale Bozzio (Jessica Harmon), the ex-girlfriend of Rose’s partner-in-crime solving, Det. Clive Babineaux, played by Malcolm Goodwin, our borg.com best TV actor of 2017.  Major Lilywhite (Robert Buckley) convinced Graves to scratch him, making him a zombie yet again, after Natalie and his crew were massacred.  And Ravi Chakrabarti (Rahul Kohli) went forward and shot himself with his experimental vaccine, leaving anything and everything open for this new season.

But what may be the most fun to look forward to this season is the return of the unlikely pair of David Anders’ Blaine DeBeers and his former, disloyal, sidekick Don E (Bryce Hodgson), back again as the show’s bad guy element.

If you miss Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Veronica Mars, iZombie is the only series that comes close, with that clever dialogue and those great scripts we once thought only Joss Whedon could turn out.  The TV series is loosely adapted from the comic book series iZombie, created by Chris Roberson and Michael Allred, and published by DC Comics under its Vertigo imprint.

Here is a preview of Season 4 of iZombie:

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Fathom Events is bringing Jim Henson and Frank Oz’s landmark fantasy The Dark Crystal back to theaters tomorrow and Wednesday, and advance response has resulted in an additional two screening dates the following week and expansion into 700 theaters nationwide.  A member of the Class of 1982, The Dark Crystal just celebrated its 35th anniversary.  The ambitious story of The Dark Crystal takes place in the world of Thra, which has been torn by a fracture in a great magic crystal, which caused two races to be created: the tranquil Mystics, or urRu, and the evil Skeksis, who all but destroyed Thra’s native species, the Gelflings.  The Mystics have summoned Jen, one of the last surviving Gelflings, to find the lost piece of the crystal.  The quest sends Jen on a classic adventure to try to restore harmony and peace to Thra.  Don’t wait–get tickets now here at the Fathom Events website before tomorrow’s screening sells out.

We recently revisited Jim Henson’s The Dark Crystal with a groundbreaking look at the film and co-directors Jim Henson and Frank Oz in Caseen Gaines’ The Dark Crystal: The Ultimate Visual History, a new deep-dive into the film reviewed here at borg.com.  According to Henson’s daughter Cheryl Henson, The Dark Crystal was Jim Henson’s most personal work.  This is a great time to have The Dark Crystal fresh in our memory, as we expect to see a 10-episode Netflix follow-on series hopefully by the end of 2018.  The Dark Crystal: The Age of Resistance does not yet have a release date.

Yes, we’re just as excited as Fizzgig–The Dark Crystal was the reigning favorite fantasy film of all time for legions of moviegoers before Peter Jackson’s The Lord of the Rings came along.  The film features performances by Jim Henson as Jen (voiced by Stephen Garlick), Kathryn Mullen as the Gelfling Kira (voiced by Lisa Maxwell), Frank Oz as the astronomer Aughra (voiced by Billie Whitelaw), and Dave Goelz as Fizzgig (voice of Percy Edwards), with Henson, Oz, and Goelz also performing as the Skeksis. Kiran Shah also performs the body of Jen, Kira, and Aughra. With a screenplay by Dave Odell (The Muppet Show), The Dark Crystal also features a majestic score by Trevor Jones (Excalibur, Labyrinth).  Along with Yoda creator Frank Oz, the film was produced by Star Wars and The Empire Strikes Back producer Gary Kurtz.

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By now you’ve seen the full trailer for Solo: A Star Wars Story and maybe even this week’s fan recut of the trailer.  No?  The recent tradition is back yet again, that knack of a fan taking a movie trailer and “Sabotaging” it by laying a track of Beastie Boys’ song Sabotage over whatever the studio produced, or, better yet, recutting the trailer to actually make the original that much better.  Some may not be able to get past whether or not new Han Solo actor Alden Ehrenreich looks like Harrison Ford, and others may not care, but the first trailer from Lucasfilm had plenty to get fans excited for this May’s theatrical release.  Maybe it’s Donald Glover as Lando, maybe it’s seeing an early Millennium Falcon, or maybe it’s just seeing Chewbacca again.  But like we saw with its 2016 predecessor Rogue One: A Star Wars Story–where the a band of Rebels handed off the infamous stolen plans to Princess Leia aboard her Corellian Corvette–on a big television screen with the sound turned way up the Sabotaged fan trailer really amps-up the excitement.

Fair warning, if you don’t like the Beastie Boys, you may really not like the band’s song by the end of this article, because we’re going to play it a few times.

The impetus for the trend is no doubt Star Trek and Star Wars director J.J. Abrams’ own love for the band and the song, enough to include it early in the first reboot of the Star Trek movies back in 2009.  Young James T. Kirk plays the song on the car radio as he’s racing along the road in Riverside, Iowa, having stolen his step-dad’s 1963 Chevrolet Corvette, and right before he sends it over a cliff (there are not really cliffs like that in Iowa, but… nevermind).  Director Justin Lin brought the song right back as a surprisingly on-point, key plot device in the climax of the third reboot film, Star Trek Beyond, and he used it for the film’s official trailer.

So that gives us a few versions of the song adapted to two big franchises worth re-watching.   Like we said here a few years back: Sabotage makes everything better.  But how about a Sabotage trailer for a third or a fourth major fandom franchise?

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In the first teaser for the coming Netflix reboot of Irwin Allen‘s 1960s Lost in Space series, don’t look just yet for a full view of the Jupiter 2 or the latest incarnation of the B-9 robot.  But you will see the new Robinson family, and the teaser introduces audiences to the family and setting with one of those historic montages like that seen in the opening credits for the Enterprise series.  The setting for Lost in Space is only 31 years from now, 2049.  From hints in the teaser, the mission of the Robinson Family appears the same as in the original Lost in Space series: to establish a colony on a planet orbiting one of the stars of the Alpha Centauri star system after Earth is no longer habitable.

Ten episodes were filmed in Vancouver last year, and they will be available to Netflix subscribers this April.  Netflix also released several images separate from the series.  The biggest change-up is Parker Posey taking on the role of Mr. Smith, originally played frenetically by character actor Jonathan Harris.  Posey is shown up in decades of television series, and she played Lex Luthor’s right arm in Superman Returns, and appeared in Blade: Trinity, A Mighty Wind, Scream 3, Dazed and Confused, Coneheads, and was memorable as the ultimate helicopter mom to a prizewinning pooch in Best in Show.

Molly Parker (Dexter, Deadwood) plays mom Maureen Robinson, Toby Stephens (Die Another Day, Space Cowboys) is dad John, and the kids are played by Taylor Russell (Falling Skies), Minda Sundwall (Freeheld), and Max Jenkins (Sense8).  Engineer Don West will be played by Ignacio Serricchio (Bones, The Young and the Restless).

Here’s the first look from Netflix at Lost in Space:

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For the Academy Awards “Best Picture” category, popularity isn’t supposed to matter.  But doesn’t it matter, practically speaking?  Academy voters hail from are across the country, and are no doubt at least indirectly influenced by water cooler chatter.  This year the nine nominated films not surprisingly run the gamut from high box office winners to barely seen pictures.  At the top, the historical drama and war film Dunkirk has taken in $188 million.  The surprise of the year, the horror thriller Get Out, has earned $176 million.  The quickly conceived and produced historical drama about the free press, The Post, was concocted by Steven Spielberg for its relevancy, and in a short period continues to climb, taking in $77 million.  The most difficult sell for many may be the fantasy The Shape of Water, a monster movie and romance mash-up about individuality, which has brought in $53 million, also still in theaters.  Historical drama Darkest Hour has been in release much longer.  It has netted $53 million at the box office.  Lady Bird, a coming-of-age drama, has taken in $43 million.  A contemporary drama, Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri, has earned $48 million.  A character-study drama about a man with an obsessive, controlling personality, Phantom Thread, has garnered only $17 million.  Finally, the contemporary romance Call Me By Your Name, has only taken in $15 million.

Dunkirk, Get Out, Three Billboards, Call Me By Your Name, Darkest Hour, and Lady Bird are all available on streaming video services, with The Shape of Water arriving February 27.  But if you want to see all nine films in the theater, AMC Theaters are offering film fans a few opportunities to catch-up on what you may have missed, first with their Two-Day Best Picture Showcase.  Four movies will be screened this Saturday, February 24, with the remaining five the following Saturday, March 3.  Or you can binge watch all nine films in the 24-hour AMC Best Picture Movie Marathon, all on March 3.

As unique as each nominated film appears this year, each has its precursors for Best Picture.  Oscar has tapped several historical dramas fitting the Dunkirk and Darkest Hour mold, including The Hurt Locker, Schindler’s List, Platoon, and Patton.  Phantom Thread harkens back to bad relationship dramas like The Lost Weekend, The English Patient, or American Beauty.  Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri, evokes those tough mothers enduring losses in Terms of Endearment, Ordinary People, and Mrs. Miniver.  Despite several nominations, surprisingly few historical dramas about real, singular events like The Post have an Oscar, although recent winner Argo, about the American hostage crisis in Iran, is an easy comparison.  The lead character in Lady Bird could be seen as this decade’s version of Annie Hall or a coming-of-age film like West Side Story, but it may also be another study in family relationships as found in Terms of Endearment and Ordinary People.  

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We’ve been covering the Kenner-style retro action figures being sold by Super 7 since the toy company first partnered with Funko and revealed its first line of vintage style Alien “ReAction” figures at San Diego Comic-Con 2013.  At the end of 2016 Super 7 discontinued partnering with Funko and returned to manufacturing and distributing the multi-license toy line on its own.  Super 7 revealed its 2018 plans for the ReAction line this weekend at New York Toy Fair 2018, with some new surprises and expansions to current action figure licenses.  Projections for any toy company at Toy Fair don’t always match reality.  Compare borg.com‘s coverage of Super 7 at New York Toy Fair 2017 here, and you’ll find several Super 7 action figures only now inching their way into the market.  The biggest reveals at this year’s show for Super 7’s ReAction line for fans of sci-fi/horror include two beloved film classics: Alien and Planet of the Apes.  

Super 7 is returning to its first pre-Funko toy line in revisiting its Alien action figures.  For the next wave, characters include more refined sculpts than the early waves, with new characters Brett, Parker, and Lambert, Jonesy the cat with new Ripley, Ash with removable head, facehugger Kane in spacesuit, and a new Xenomorph head with jaws out.  Although the company has previously hinted at the possibility, it doesn’t look like we’ll see figures from Aliens this year.

It’s been a year since we saw the prototypes for Planet of the Apes figures on display at New York Toy Fair 2017.  Finally the first figures are now expected to be released in two months, beginning with Taylor, Nova, Zira, Cornelius, General Ursus, and Dr. Zaius in the first wave.

Super 7 must expect some good sales results with the first wave for POTA as prototypes were on display at Toy Fair for Wave 2, also, including a Cornelius in astronaut suit, ape warriors and another ape general, a giant Lawgiver statue set, and the mutants from Beneath the Planet of the Apes with removable outer heads to reveal those (gross) inner-heads as seen in the movie.

For the Super 7 Universal Monsters license, it will revisit past ReAction figures (The Phantom of the Opera, Wolf Man, Frankenstein, The Mummy, The Creature from the Black Lagoon), while adding some new ones, including the Metalluna Mutant and the Mole People.

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We first mentioned the movie Ready Player One six years ago in our review of the Ernest Cline novel here at borg.com. Warner Bros. kicked off San Diego Comic-Con with director Steven Spielberg showing the first teaser trailer for the movie. The audiobook, read by Wil Wheaton and currently available free here at Amazon with an Audible sign-up, has been a huge hit with fans, almost taking on a life of its own.  We saw the second trailer last December, and the Easter Eggs started to pile up.

Iron Giant, Freddy Krueger, the Back to the Future DeLorean.  Lots of references for gamers in particular.  Warner Bros. released the third and likely final trailer for the film this weekend.  VR is the theme this time around.

Ready Player One stars X-Men: Apocalypse’s Tye Sheridan, Black Panther’s Letitia Wright, Killjoys, Tomb Raider, Ant-Man and the Wasp, Game of Thrones, and Star Wars: The Force Awakens’ Hannah John-Kamen, Rogue One: A Star Wars Story’s Ben Mendelsohn, Star Trek and Star Wars’ Simon Pegg, and Bates Motel’s Olivia Cooke.

Here is the third trailer for Ready Player One, with a little help from Willy Wonka:

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