Archive for March, 2021


Bliss B

Review by C.J. Bunce

In the 2017 movie Logan, three characters drawn together by circumstance form a family unit and for a brief moment over a dinner with strangers they get to experience bliss for the first, and possibly only, times of their lives.  In the climactic sequence of Amazon Studio’s original 2021 film, Bliss, the two lead characters also get to have a moment where their lives are what they always dreamed of.  Is it real or is this sci-fi or fantasy, or are we headed into some kind of twisted horror story?  That’s the question viewers will be waiting for as they take a very strange trip with Owen Wilson as a down-on-his-luck estranged father whose life collides with Salma Hayek as a vagabond conjurer of magic who lives on the streets nearby.  Fortunately the characters are endearing and sympathetic, the performances spot-on, and their story worth your two hours.

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FCBD 2021 Judge Dredd  FCBD 2021 School Extra Girls

A long time from now in a galaxy far, far away–actually at your local comic book shop–Free Comic Book Day is returning for 2021.  Often overlapping with the annual Star Wars Day–May the Fourth–this year it’s being pushed out a few months to Saturday, August 14.  A good excuse to visit your local comic book shop and get re-introduced to some series you may have missed, the annual FCBD is also a way to check out some titles you may otherwise have overlooked.  This week comic book retailers revealed the results of the FCBD committee’s selections for this year’s freebies.  What made the cut?  It seems plenty early, but now you have no excuse to know what you want when you get to the front of the line.  Below, check out some of the covers and titles coming your way for FCBD 2021 this August!

FCBD 2021 Sonic  FCBD 2021 Star Wars

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Flash crisis

Review by C.J. Bunce

If the CW’s 2019 take on DC’s Crisis on Infinite Earths storyline was your thing, you may enjoy the Barryverse version of events in a sequence of six novels featuring The Flash.  The television tie-in wove several CW Arrowverse series of DC Comics adaptations into a single story for a few weeks, in what was probably the closest we’ll see to Marvel Comics’ Avengers: Endgame for the live-action superheroes of DC Entertainment.  The Flash Crossover Crisis: The Legends of Forever debuts next week here at Amazon and at booksellers everywhere.  The sixth of Lyga’s time traveling, there-and-back-again speedster tales, and the third in his Crossover Crisis trilogy, reaches its finale as The Legends of Tomorrow take over from Green Arrow and Supergirl as guests of The Flash aka Barry Allen and supporting characters of The Flash–the series–as they prepare to go to the End of Time… to save all the worlds of the Multiverse.

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Since Goosebumps: Welcome to Dead House was first published in 1992, kids have clamored for the series’ 62 books, and tie-in TV shows, films, and other spin-offs.  R.L. Stine’s stories have spooked a decade of kids in the 1990s and a generation since.  Visually all those books had one thing in common:  the stylized brand-defining cover artwork of Tim Jacobus.  Dark imagery, bright colors, shocking monsters, and drippy gore previewed what kids were going to find inside the pages–if they dared.  Now Dynamite Entertainment has created a large format, hardcover book to showcase Jacobus’s art, including sketches and concepts leading up to his famous covers.  Written by Sarah Rodriguez and designed by Mark McNabb, The Art of Goosebumps is now available for pre-order here at Amazon.  Check out our first look inside the book for borg readers, courtesy of Dynamite Entertainment:

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Review by C.J. Bunce

Get ready for your next immersion into adventure and fun, and it’s in 3D.  I love classic storytelling methods that surprise the reader, from the Victorian to modern technology, whether it’s stereoscopic images, View-Master reels, lenticular images, pop-up books, or state-of-the-art digital animation.  One of my very first books as a young boy was Robert Louis Stevenson’s A Child’s Garden of Verses, with 3D diorama artwork and a lenticular cover.   I’ve reviewed several 3D movies here at borg, too, from The Creature from the Black Lagoon to Jaws 3D, and Predator and Rogue One French artist Matthias Picard’s roving young adventurer Jim Curious returns after his debut in 2014’s Jim Curious–A Voyage to the Heart of the Sea in his next book, Jim Curious and the Jungle Journey It’s a complete 3D adventure using anaglyph 3D, that classic blue-red 3D style and includes two pairs of 3D glasses–just like the kind from 3D movies in the 1920s to the 1980s.  The eye-popping images will take your breath away.

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Review by C.J. Bunce

If you can’t imagine the greatest noir crime story you ever read was about a firm of private investigators researching a claim of insurance fraud, you’d better get ready.  The fifth–and what appears to be final–retro re-issue of a classic work of crime fiction by Erle Stanley Gardner (who was, at his death, the best-selling American writer of all time) is now available from Hard Case Crime.  One of the novels Gardner penned under his pseudonym A.A. Fair, the author mastermind known for dozens of Perry Mason novels (60 in total) and Cool & Lam novels (30 total) penned Shills Can’t Cash Chips sixty years ago, and it’s as exciting, current, funny, and full of intrigue as any modern bestseller.  Gardner’s Bertha Cool and Donald Lam are back at it again.  Although Hard Case Crime notes this is the last of their series of Gardner books (with this review I’ve reviewed all but one, including Turn on the Heat, The Count of 9, and the first ever publication of Gardner’s “lost,” Cool & Lam novel, The Knife Slipped)–which is a sad thing–that just means it’s time to begin tracking down the rest.   

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Review by Elizabeth C. Bunce

Sarah Beth Durst’s new standalone novel The Bone Maker answers the perennial fantasy question “What has it got in its pocketses?”  And that answer is: bones.  The magic in the Kingdom of Vos is worked by manipulating the life force remaining in bones to build animated machines, tell the future, or create powerful talismans.  Any animal bone will work, but human bones are taboo.  Twenty-five years ago, a wizard bent on revenge broke this most sacred rule of bone magic, and reanimated human bones to wreak destruction on the kingdom and its people.

Five warriors—bone workers all—stepped forward to stop him, and four came home heroes.  Now, a lifetime later, that war should be long past, only a dark and haunting memory.  But for the woman who lost her husband in the war, the fight has never ended.  Kreya has spent the last twenty-five years perfecting the spell needed to permanently resurrect her beloved husband.  The only problem is, the spell requires two unspeakable ingredients—half her own life, and enough human bones to power the magic.

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The rich and powerful, they take what they want.  We steal it back for you.  Sometimes bad guys make the best good guys.  We provide… Leverage.

Leverage original series executive producer and director Dean Devlin has credited a loyal fan base to bringing the team at Leverage Consulting & Associates back after its five-season run from 2008 to 2012.  The new series–call it a reboot, a continuation, a sequel, or just a new season–filmed as Leverage 2 and Leverage 2.0 and now titled Leverage: Redemption, will catch up with most of the original lead characters eight years after the series finale, “The Long Good-bye Job.”  We previewed the new series last year here at borg, as the series tried to get underway in the face of a pandemic.  The production made it, creating 13 episodes, and this weekend series co-star (and episode director) Beth Riesgraf confirmed on social media fans will get to see the series in 2021.

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Review by C.J. Bunce

If you’ve been watching Michael Apted’s ground-breaking Up Series from its first installments, you know each new chapter in the real-life time travel journey makes the viewer feel like he or she has also reached some kind of achievement with the arrival of the new episode.  But the series of documentaries is not for the faint-hearted, filled with gut-wrenching views into participants’ lives, participants who feel like family after watching them over 56 years since their first appearance.  So compelling and personal is Apted’s look at this select group of fourteen English boys and girls turned men and women, revisiting them every seven years of their lives since 1964, the documentary series is practically an interactive experience.  With Apted passing away since the UK premiere last year, and the U.S. arrival of the latest installment–the eagerly awaited 63 Up arriving on BritBox via Amazon Prime this weekend–the question is whether this ninth installment is the last.  Key members of the crew since 28 Up have expressed an interest in continuing the series in 2027, but until then expect this to be a bittersweet end for the series, which Roger Ebert called the noblest project in cinema history and among the ten best films ever made.

At last Apted addresses the thesis of the show to each participant, “Give me a child until he is seven and I will give you the man,” and asks whether they agree after decades participating in this unique social experiment.  Apted was a researcher when working on director Paul Almond’s Seven Up! in 1964.  Seven years later the well-known director of Gorillas in the Mist, The World is Not Enough, Coal Miner’s Daughter and Gorky Park, was just out of university, and at 22 he revisited the original Seven Up! project.  He would go on to direct the subsequent eight episodes over 56 years.  The idea was to get a glimpse of England in the future year 2000 when these kids, the future leaders of England, were only seven years old.  It is difficult to surpass the jolts and surprises of 42 Up, but 63 Up holds its own, although sadly viewers will say goodbye to one participant who has died, another is seriously ill, and another decided not to participate.

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Back in 2016 we looked at a curiosity of television history with the animation of the lost Doctor Who episode, The Power of the Daleks.  In the 1960s it was not unheard of that television stations did not retain footage of television series.  Film reels were thrown out instead of storing shows for archival purposes as we do today.  The greatest volume from one series is probably from the BBC in the UK with Doctor Who, where nearly 100 episodes were lost.  But thanks to fans recording the audio of the shows at home, plus film stills and the odd “found footage,” the stories themselves remain.  In the case of The Power of the Daleks, the BBC decided to animate the tale and distribute it for a new generation of Doctor Who fans.  Although the UK got to preview it last summer, the six episodes of the next animated lost Doctor Who story, Fury from the Deep, will be premiering to American viewers Monday, March 15, on AMC+ and Sunday, March 21, on BBC America.  It’s notable as the last of the lost BBC Doctor Who stories, and the original episode was the first time audiences ever got to see the Doctor’s trusty sonic screwdriver, which would become as iconic to the franchise as the Doctor and the TARDIS.

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