Archive for September, 2020


Review by C.J. Bunce

So often big budget dramas dressed in sci-fi dress rise up the box office rankings, you might miss the best films, the ones that don’t need the big budgets or major stars, the refreshing sleepers that surprise you.  One of those great surprises was Midnight Special, which I reviewed here at borg back in 2016.  The next spectacular science fiction work is even better–The Vast of Night–the brainchild of writer-director-producer-editor Andrew Patterson (who is billed under multiple names), now streaming on Amazon Prime.  Could this freshman filmmaker be the next J.J. Abrams, John Carpenter, or Steven Spielberg?  Think Super 8, The Fog, and Close Encounters of the Third Kind, in a setting like American Graffiti and The Outsiders, with stunning cinematography, superb dialogue in a tightly written script, and a fresh and eerie use of sound.  If you missed this Amazon Studios arrival earlier this summer, you’re in for a treat of 1950s teenage sleuths, a radio station, and strange goings about town: An ambitious film that comes pretty close to perfect science fiction in the classic tradition of The Twilight Zone, The War of the Worlds, and the short stories of Philip K. Dick.

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We were supposed to get a new Halloween sequel with Jamie Lee Curtis, but COVID got in the way.  But don’t fret.  Borrowing the creative team and some cast members from The Haunting of Hill House, as Halloween season approaches fans of ghost stories can get their fix next month with Netflix’s The Haunting of Bly Manor Loosely based on Henry James 1898 horror tale The Turn of the Screw (although we can’t yet see how), the series will offer up nine episodes.

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As ardent fans of Stranger Things, Victorian mysteries, and all things Millie Bobby Brown (Intruders, Godzilla: King of Monsters), we were indeed excited to see the preview for Netflix’s new Enola Holmes, based on Nancy Springer’s novels for elementary (ahem) schoolers.  Teenager Enola Holmes is the much younger sister of two famous older brothers, Mycroft (Sam Claflin, My Cousin Rachel) and Sherlock (Henry Cavill, The Man from U.N.C.L.E.).  When their unconventional mother (Helena Bonham Carter, Alice in Wonderland, Harry Potter series) disappears, Enola sets off to track her down, much to the chagrin of her siblings.  Proving she’s ever bit as clever as her brothers, Enola (naturally) stumbles into a mystery.

The direct-to-Netflix film looks to be chock full of delightful Victoriana, and the source material is a fun twist on the Sherlock story.  We love seeing Milly Bobby Brown with her natural English accent.

And if you think this trailer looks like fun, allow me to point out even more diverting Victorian mysteries featuring an irrepressible young sleuth you’ll surely also enjoy.  My own new novels, Premeditated Myrtle and How to Get Away with Myrtle (currently an Amazon #1 New Release!) are being published October 6, in a rare two-book launch event extravaganza (to quote a publisher of our acquaintance).  Twelve-year-old Myrtle Hardcastle has an unconventional obsession with criminology and a passion for justice… and a Highly Opinionated Feline Sidekick.  Netflix Life lists the Myrtle Hardcastle Mysteries as part of its “7 Books to Read if You Like Enola Holmes on Netflix.”

Here’s the trailer for Netflix’s Enola Holmes:

Begin by getting your first fix of Victorian sleuthing with Enola Holmes on Netflix September 23, and check out my new mystery series October 6, at Amazon and other fine booksellers.

Elizabeth C. Bunce / mystery novelist / borg contributor

It was only a year ago that we reviewed Cold Pursuit here at borg, which star Liam Neeson revealed to be his final movie.  So what’s with the new movie Honest Thief Not that we’re complaining–Neeson is back again in revenge mode just as we like him best, plus he’s bringing a fun group of some of our favorite action genre stars.  The plot?  Neeson plays a man in love, a man in love who is a thief.  But he wants to turn over a new leaf.  But circumstances keep pulling him back in… into Taken and The Commuter’s vengeance Liam Neeson.

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Every new glimpse, new scene, new image from the Disney+ incredible, monumental hit series The Mandalorian provides another dream come true for any fan of the original 1977 Star Wars.  Take a look at this week’s trailer for the second season below, and see if you don’t think this is one of the best trailers from the entire franchise.   Now with 100% more Banthas, 200% more Gamorreans …and throw in a cyclopsian Abyssin straight out of the cantina at Mos Eisley.

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Review by C.J. Bunce

Fans of James Bond have six reasons to check out a new graphic novel arriving tomorrow at comic book stores everywhere.  Ian Fleming’s James Bond 007: Reflections of Death combines the writing talents of comics creators Benjamin Percy, Greg Pak, Andy Diggle, Gail Simone, Mark Russell, Vita Ayala, and Danny Lore, with the artwork of Dean Kotz, Luca Casalanguida, Kewber Baal, Eoin Marron, Robert Carey, Jordi Perez, and Fay Dalton.  The result is a single graphic novel finding Moneypenny kidnapped and drugged, forced to recount some telling exploits of our favorite 00 spy.

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Review by C.J. Bunce

Get out your I Want to Believe posters and get ready to cue up “Materia Primoris,” that haunting theme to The X-Files.  This month, 24 years after we first met Special Agents Fox Mulder and Dana Scully, you can stand in the shoes of these FBI agents as Director Walter Skinner hands you a dossier of the 50 most revealing, memorable, scary, creepy, and thoroughly awesome X-Files.  In March 2020, a man named Paul Terry (aka author Paul Terry) signed out full-color copies of notes, interviews, photographs, and other highly confidential documents from the Bureau, and you can find them all reprinted in The X-Files: The Official Archives, available for pre-order here at Amazon, arriving in bookstores tomorrow.  The in-universe perspective and thoroughly detailed design will reel in and satisfy everyone from the passing fan to the most diehard X-Phile.

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He’s been keeping us at ease with sonnets through the past 180s days of sheltering at home, and now his latest series is coming to Blu-ray and DVD.  Patrick Stewart’s Star Trek: Picard series was a way for fans of Star Trek: The Next Generation to peek in on the latest exploits of the crew of the Enterprise-D and -E years down the road, or erm… down the spaceway.  The first season of Star Trek: Picard is coming your way in a Blu-ray, DVD, or optional steelbook packaging edition in October, and you can pre-order it now here at Amazon.  Unfortunately it doesn’t include a digital copy.

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Review by C.J. Bunce

From 1977 to 1993, noted crime writer Max Allan Collins was writing stories “ripped from the headlines” in the Dick Tracy comic strip.  Some of Collins’ proposed stories were too racy for the average daily newspaper, so Collins took this as an opportunity to introduce the stories in the pages of Ms. Tree, a series published then by Eclipse.   A year ago, I reviewed a new collection of classic Ms. Tree stories from the 1980s, penned twenty years before Jessica Jones, written by Collins and illustrated by artist Terry BeattyMs. Tree: One Mean Mother.  Ms. Michael Tree is the 6-foot tall, 9 mm pistol-toting private eye with a clever homonym name, referred to as the “female Mike Hammer” in the stories written by the man who would take over the character from Mickey Spillane.  She borrows something real and gritty from Erle Stanley Gardner’s detective Bertha Cool and her brand of sleuthing, certainly unique for the 1980s.  The Hard Case Crime imprint of Titan Comics is publishing the second volume of Ms. Tree stories next month, five more stories from the dark corners of big city life, in Ms. Tree: Skeleton in the Closet.  Classic Collins crime tales in the comics are like his 21st century crime novels–they do not disappoint.

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In the next twist on using science to find true love, AMC is bringing to television a new limited anthology series–AMC’s first.  Soulmates explores a new invention that reveals your true love and viewers get to watch how it all unfolds for six couples, each in a separate episode.  But it’s not the fun and games we saw in TiMER, the Emma Caulfield rom-com with a similar plot.  The first trailer for Soulmates is more dread than utopia.  Nope, this series looks like the stuff of sci-fi horror.  The Twilight Zone, Ray Bradbury Theater, The Outer Limits, and Black Mirror all had their share of dabbles in romance turned wrong.  The victims, err… participants in this latest experiment in love are played a few of our favorite young genre actors.

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