Archive for February, 2018


The Marvel Comics character Venom is a creature of the 1980s, and not having the benefit of 50-70 years in the histories of comicdom like so many superheroes in movies these days, mainstream audiences know very little about the character.  Well-known genre actor Tom Hardy is taking on the role of the once villain/now anti-hero Eddie Brock, seen only once taking on the black tar-like goo suit before by those who made it to Sam Raimi’s Spider-man 3.  That film featured That ’70s Show’s Topher Grace in the role.  Kids in the 1980s first witnessed the genesis of the character in the wildly popular Marvel Comics mini-series Marvel Super Heroes Secret Wars, Issue #8, by writer Jim Shooter and artist Mike Zeck.  Most kids appreciated the new look.  Originally intended to give Spider-man a new black and white costume, the story became one about a symbiotic suit that attached to Spider-man, which went on to attach to Eddie Brock, who became Spidey’s Public Enemy #1 as the very Todd McFarlane-styled character known as Venom in later stories.  But don’t look for images of that guy just yet.

The first teaser for Sony Entertainment’s film is out, showcasing more of the noir look of the film and Tom Hardy’s established acting talent than anything typical of most superhero tales.  In other words, no look at Venom yet.  It’s long for a teaser, but reveals little about the plot or character.  Hardy has earned his sea legs in genredom.  He was only one of a handful of actors to play a Star Trek villain in the movies, starring as the Captain Picard clone Shinzon in Star Trek Nemesis.  He reprised Mel Gibson’s Mad Max in Mad Max: Fury Road, and in that other giant comic book franchise he played the B-team villain Bane in The Dark Knight Rises.  Along the way he proved himself in several dramatic roles, in the likes of Band of Brothers, Black Hawk Down, Layer Cake, Inception, Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy, and as the World War II flying ace of the current Oscar-nominated film Dunkirk.  

  

With Venom Hardy takes on another comic book B-team character, but without a full face mask as in The Dark Knight Rises and instead with his face covered in only part of Venom as in Mad Max: Fury Road, maybe Hardy will have a greater opportunity to make an impact and make this character his own.  This is Sony’s first follow-up to their successful redux of Spidey in Spider-man: Homecoming, and word is out that new Spidey Tom Holland was on-set for Venom, possibly doing some filming.  Four-time Oscar nominee and star of the current Oscar-nominated film All the Money in World, Michelle Williams plays Eddie’s ex.  Solo: A Star Wars Story co-star Woody Harrelson also has a role in the film.

Check out this brief teaser for Venom:

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20th Century Fox’s second Deadpool film now has a real trailer, or as “real” as Deadpool would tolerate.  Deadpool 2, which doesn’t seem to have a catchier subtitle yet, brings back Ryan Reynolds’ merc with a mouth superhero (Green Lantern, RIPD) and his girlfriend Vanessa, played by Morena Baccarin (Firefly, Gotham), with the returning support team of Colossus (Stefan Kapicic), Negasonic Teenage Warrior (Brianna Hildebrand), Weasel (T.J. Miller), Blind Al (Leslie Uggams)–and that taxi driver.  The sequel to the #2 highest Rated R box office moneymaker of all time introduces the fan-favorite borg from the comics, Cable, to the Marvel movie realm, and this trailer shows Josh Brolin looks to be the perfect casting choice.

The two new trailers were hijacked by Deadpool, as was the promotional summary for the film, which really says it all:

“After surviving a near fatal bovine attack, a disfigured cafeteria chef (Wade Wilson) struggles to fulfill his dream of becoming Mayberry’s hottest bartender while also learning to cope with his lost sense of taste.  Searching to regain his spice for life, as well as a flux capacitor, Wade must battle ninjas, the yakuza, and a pack of sexually aggressive canines, as he journeys around the world to discover the importance of family, friendship, and flavor – finding a new taste for adventure and earning the coveted coffee mug title of World’s Best Lover.”

The movie also has a new teaser poster mocking 1983’s Flashdance.  The international trailer is an edited version from the U.S. release, with an added glimpse of Colossus.  Check out both trailers of the new trailers for Deadpool 2:

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Review by C.J. Bunce

How far back has this latest chapter in J.J. Abrams mash-up of science fiction and giant monsters been brewing?  Back to his 2011 summer coming of age release Super 8?  Like M. Night Shyamalan, all of Abrams’ projects, whether as executive producer or director or even writer-director, may not be successful, but they both take exciting risks with their projects.  Cloverfield was a well-crafted homage to Godzilla pictures.  10 Cloverfield Lane was a genre surprise, a mix of straight dramatic horror that ended up as a sci-fi monster movie.  And this week Netflix released a theatrical worthy next installment, The Cloverfield Paradox, this time providing that relentless sci-fi horror fix perfected with James Cameron’s Aliens.  And like Shyamalan’s recent thriller Split, a cool surprise is in store for viewers.

The Cloverfield Paradox is easily comparable to one of the best Doctor Who space station-based episodes (think The Waters of Mars).  In fact absent Matt Smith or David Tennant you might forget you’re not watching Doctor Who as so many tropes from Whovian space disaster episodes are weaved into the film.  And that’s a good thing for fans of the type of science fiction stories that Doctor Who tends to attract.  The cast of The Cloverfield Paradox forms a crew you wish would be around for a TV series.  Led by David Oyelowo (Star Wars: Rebels, Jack Reacher) as Commander Kiel, with physicists played by Daniel Brühl (Rush, Goodbye Lenin, Captain America: Civil War) as Schmidt and Ziyi Zhang (Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, Rush Hour 2) as Tam, and other crewmembers played by John Ortiz (Kong: Skull Island, Alien vs. Predator), Aksel Hennie (The Martian), and Chris O’Dowd (Thor: The Dark World), the space station Cloverfield has a legitimate international crew.  But the focus is on crewmember Hamilton played by Gugu Mbatha-Raw (Beauty and the Beast, Jupiter Ascending), who leaves her husband (Roger Davies) back on Earth after her children die in a fire to help the scientists test a particle accelerator.  The success or failure of that test could mean a leap ahead for the planet or certain doom.

Anyone who has ever read an issue of DC Comics can understand the multi-verse science here.  Dabbling in quantum physics comes with uncertain risks, and after nearly a year of failed trials, when the station finally creates a stable particle beam, something has changed.  Leaving the audience always wondering whether this is going to be another Aliens episode or something else, the effect of the anomaly creates the stuff of The Philadelphia Experiment, smashing one reality into another.  One of the results is the appearance from another parallel universe of a Cloverfield physicist played by Elizabeth Debicki (Guardians of the Galaxy 2, The Man from U.N.C.L.E.).  Only Debicki’s character was not on the mission in the universe the film started out in, and as radio signals reflect an apparently altered Earth below, the loyalties of the crewmembers come into question.  It’s all great fun, and the production quality is good enough–with bonuses like crew costumes from Academy Award-winning designer Colleen Atwood–that it’s a shame audiences can’t watch this play out on a big movie theater screen.

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Review by C.J. Bunce

I love ghost stories at the movies.  Whether it’s lighter faire like Joseph Cotton and Jennifer Jones in Portrait of Jennie, a favorite version of Dickens’ A Christmas Carol, or the Disney favorite The Watcher in the Woods, or darker stories, like Guillermo del Toro taking on the Gothic mystery genre in Crimson Peak, count me in.  We’ve reviewed some good ghost stories here at borg.com, including The Woman in Black, the aforementioned Portrait of Jennie and The Ghost and Mrs. Muir, and television series like Marchlands, Lightfields, and Wynonna Earp From the ghost pirates and pirate ghosts in the Pirates of the Caribbean series to the ghost army in The Lord of the Rings: Return of the King, a good ghost story must have a believable visual take on the actual spectres, but it also needs to provide an appropriate level of spooks and an interesting story.   Ghosts have been featured in romps like R.I.P.D., Ghost Rider, Beetlejuice, and Ghostbusters, darker ghost tales like The Crow and The Others, and even romances like Always, and City of Angels.  Some great, some only good, I count all of these worth watching.  Critics rarely give credit to the genre, with M. Night Shyamalan’s The Sixth Sense as an exception.  But count Winchester, now in theaters, as one of the good ones.

Although the ghost story is a subgenre of horror, if you lean more toward slasher flicks, monster gore, and terror (think Saw or Scream series), if you want to scream out loud in the theater, and true ghost stories aren’t really your thing, Winchester may not be for you.  But if you want a nicely creepy setting, a throwback style ghost story movie, and a cast of excellently realized characters, Helen Mirren’s Sarah Lancaster, Jason Clarke’s Dr. Price, Sarah Snook’s Marian Marriott, and Eamon Farren’s Ben Block make the cut.  This is not just a pile-on of gotchas you’d find in a typical teen slasher film, but it’s peppered with jumps and starts.  Its setting, its costumes, and its roots in reality will keep you on the edge of your seat, but it also flows at a steady pace.  A simple tale with a few twists, Winchester is most on par with The Woman in Black, but it also dabbles in the realm that will appeal to many fans of The Sixth Sense–even the plots share some similarities.

Do you like haunted houses?  The famed real-life Winchester haunted house in San Jose is the right place for the ultimate haunted house tale.  The truth of Winchester only adds to the suspense and intrigue:  Heir to the Winchester rifle fortune, Sarah Winchester became one of the world’s wealthiest women of the 19th century.  Her husband died in 1881 and she then proceeded to spend her fortune on a sprawling mansion over the next 38 years, a mansion that was never finished.  And why?  Some evidence indicates it’s because Sarah Winchester thought the ghosts of those killed by Winchester rifles were haunting her.  Lore of the house is that she built extra rooms onto her mansion to trick the ghosts.  She was a bit of a recluse and known by those near her to be superstitious, and this is evident with the number 13 appearing throughout the house windows, such as rooms with 13 panes of glass, ceilings with 13 panels, and staircases with only 13 steps.  And workers removed and added new rooms to the mansion until her death in 1922.  Where there are gaps in the story, the directors–the Spierig Brothers–fill in the blanks visualizing the mythos of Sarah Winchester’s supposed vision of the truth, asking the question: If her superstitions are related to her strange house design, what story could explain this unique house?  Despite the inclusion of ghosts, nearly everything can be explained by science, and much can be left to the viewer to make his/her own call.  But if you’re game, couple an heiress who truly believes she is cursed and a doctor whose own past demons and drug use make him susceptible to some suggestions of a supernatural nature, and you’ll find an intriguing ghost story.

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Not a formal poster, the above poster art was originally reported as “fake,” however, it is now appearing on toy packaging in catalogs across the world.  The first teaser poster announced the official title on a black background with the release date, merely showing the Solo logo.

And now, accompanying the full trailer, Lucasfilm just released these four, high-resolution posters for Solo: A Star Wars Story, with the first officially identifying Emilia Clarke as Qi’ra:

   

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Unlike yesterday’s sneak peek, everyone gets coverage in this trailer, and it definitely has a Blade Runner feel with its music, and the story clip seems like an “assemble the team,” Seven Samurai/The Magnificent Seven story concept (the very first expanded story concept for Star Wars, originally published in the 1978 Marvel Comics), or maybe a Firefly ship crew-focused story.

We have first looks at a young Han (Alden Ehrenreich), Chewbacca (Joonas Suotamo), and Lando (Donald Glover).  More Millennium Falcon.  New characters played by Emilia Clarke (Qi’ra pronounced Kira) and Woody Harrelson (Tobias Beckett).  The droid that looks like Qi’ra or Lando’s partner is called L3-37, voiced by Phoebe Waller-Bridge.  And that’s Thandie Newton as a new character named Val.

Solo shot 2

And, in case you missed them, trailers for Avengers: Infinity War and Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom are all below.

Check out the exciting new trailer for Ron Howard’s Solo: A Star Wars Story:

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In addition to the eagerly awaited first look at Solo: A Star Wars Story, today’s Super Bowl game included a look at Tom Cruise’s next go at the American version of the James Bond movies.  The sixth Mission: Impossible film, Mission: Impossible – Fallout, has Cruise returning as Ethan Hunt, along with regulars Simon Pegg, Ving Rhames, and Alec Baldwin, plus some surprises.

Also look for appearances by Henry Cavill and Angela Bassett.  As with the past entries in the series, that’s Cruise performing many of his own stunts.

Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson is playing a father with a prosthetic leg trying to save his family in Skyscraper, the next big action flick featuring the blockbuster star.  Johnson continues to pile up box office wins, most recently in Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle (reviewed here).

Have a look at new trailers for Mission: Impossible –  Fallout and Skyscraper:

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At last Star Wars fans finally have their first look at Ron Howard’s prequel movie Solo: A Star Wars Story, and there’s plenty to see.

We have first looks at a young Han (Alden Ehrenreich), Chewbacca (Joonas Suotamo), and Lando (Donald Glover).  And even a younger Millennium Falcon!

And new characters played by Emilia Clarke (Qi’ra pronounced Kira) and Woody Harrelson (Tobias Beckett).

And lots of Imperials…

Check out the teaser trailer for Ron Howard’s Solo: A Star Wars Story, with the full trailer to follow tomorrow:

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It’s a story that has been played out millions of times in the 1970s, and now it’s finally coming to your local comic book store.  It’s G.I. Joe vs. The Six Million Dollar Man, the latest crossover story from IDW Publishing and Dynamite.  Initially teased as a team-up, it’s actually not–we now know the two franchises will play on opposite sides of the story.  Pitting the famous 1960s-70s 12-inch tall Hasbro “fighting man” team against the hero of the television series that produced one of the best selling 12-inch action figures of all time–this was a fantasy played out in living rooms and sandboxes all over.  Just add in an appearance by Hasbro’s Mike Power and Ideal’s J.J. Armes and you have a snapshot of a kids’ backyard from 1977.

Here’s the description from IDW and Dynamite about the forthcoming four-issue mini-series:

The greatest American heroes go face-to-face with the most dangerous living weapon… Steve Austin!  Hacked by COBRA, the Six Million Dollar Man has the G.I. JOEs in his bionic targets as the fate of world peace hangs by a thread and Cobra Commander holds the world’s infrastructure in his venomous clutches!

Steve Austin, Bigfoot, Storm Shadow, and Snake Eyes!

So technically this isn’t the G.I. Joe of the 1970s, but the reboot universe Joes from the 1980s–the animated series, the mini-figures, and beyond.  As recounted in the recent Netflix series The Toys That Made Us, G.I. Joe began as an action figure line in 1963 to fill an uptapped niche for boys alongside Barbie for girls.  The Six Millon Dollar Man began in 1972 as the hero of Martin Caidin’s novel Cyborg (previously reviewed here at borg.com), and was adapted two years later into a four-season television series starring Lee Majors.

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Review by C.J. Bunce

For those who think that solving the rift between Palestine and Israel can be mediated, a new documentary illustrates clearly why that may not be the case.  Oscar-nominated, 85-year-old filmmaker Hava Kohav Beller films a group of young men and women students from both sides of the centuries’ old conflict at the seventh year of a “Vacation from War” retreat as part of her new documentary In the Land of Pomegranates.  Her film is both a hopeful and a hopeless look at life today in a world where terrorism is a weekly experience.  The pomegranates in the title are symbolic of the frequent grenades and bombings in Israel, Palestine, and the Occupied Territories.

Shuffled among the student discussions are glimpses into the lives of others on both sides, back home.  We meet the leader of the “Vacation from War,” Mohammed Joudeh, a 50-year-old Palestinian and former prisoner trying to change the world for the better through constructive dialogue.  Another story looks to a Palestinian woman bringing her son across the border to an Israeli doctor for a dangerous heart surgery–the doctor, of course, having no care for the ethnicity of the child whose life he saves.  The boy leaves to go home angry as any kid in the hospital might be.  Will he ever acknowledge how someone viewed as being from the “enemy” saved his life?  Another story follows an Israeli survivor of a suicide bombing, whose post-traumatic stress disorder renders him unable to function as a normal person, and ultimately his family splits apart.  The other story follows an Israeli woman who escapes to Tel Aviv from her house near the wall at Gaza when a tunnel is found nearby, and later returns to her home.  Her kids tell about sending Chinese lanterns over the wall, and imagine were someone to send them back they would either include signs of peace or warnings of more bombs.  The kids call the bombs and nightmares “routine,” yet view their lives as good.  In the end the war continues.  Rockets are fired.  New reports shows bombs and destruction.  A dead child lies bloody and dead in his father’s hands–the side he is from does not matter.

Audiences can’t help being hopeful for the students in the film.  This is the next generation of leaders of these nations.  The young men and women who travel to neutral ground in Germany for the retreat look like any group of students from any school, eager, wide-eyed, and optimistic.  But the intransigence and impasse we see once they face each other reveals what everyone knows:  Nobody has a solution, least of all these kids.  As with any group of students, as they begin their discussions what really comes through are the echoes of their parents and their parents’ beliefs.  The baggage of decades of war and dissonance between these groups can’t be ironed out among the young, and where the audience may be hopeful of anyone with words of peace, it doesn’t really happen.  Viewers may find themselves struggling with these kids’ words and those off-camera leaders running the sessions–why put the students on opposite sides of the room?  Why not sit them in a circle alternating Israeli and Palestinian?  Or would they not agree to that?  Both sides’ reactions to a visit to a Holocaust museum accentuate the vitriol between the two groups:  The Palestinian students claim they experience worse conditions from Israel on a daily basis than the others’ ancestors who faced the Holocaust.  The Israeli students are offended even at the idea.  A conversation where an Israeli student asks for acknowledgement from the Palestinian students of the existence of Israel is only answered with questions.  Frustration is in everyone’s faces.

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