Archive for June, 2021


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Ten years of movie reviews.  How do you pick the best?  Our theory from the very first day of publishing borg has been reviewing only those things we like, things we think are fun, imaginative, or just plain cool—because if we think they’re cool, maybe you will, too.  What makes a great movie?  #1 for us is great writing—great storytelling.  #2 is re-watchability.  Lots of movies are good, but if every time you watch it you enjoy it all over again and maybe find something you didn’t see before, then you likely got far more value from the movie than the price of a movie ticket.  #3 is innovation—there’s nothing to top off a good story like new technology surprising us.  Finally, the experience must be fun—why else would you devote two hours or more of your valuable time?

So in Casey Kasem style, here are the Top 40 movies we recommend, spanning 2011 to 2021.  These are our favorites.  How should you use lists like this?  If you like what we talk about at borg, you’re probably going to like these movies.  If you’ve missed any, odds are you have some new movies to take a look at.  Let’s start at #40 and move our way to #1.  As with everything borg, we’re stressing genre movies, so don’t expect to see strict dramas or a lot of Best Picture Oscar winners here.  Title links are to our original borg review.

Let’s get started!

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The latest from Dungeons & Dragons following Candlekeep Mysteries and Van Richten’s Guide to Ravenloft are now available for pre-order.  The Wild Beyond the Witchlight is D&D’s next big adventure storyline that “brings the wicked whimsy of the Feywild” to the 5th Edition for the first time.  Wizards of the Coast invites you to tune into D&D Live 2021 presented by G4 on July 16 and 17 for details including new characters, monsters, mechanics, and story hooks suitable for players of all ages and experience levels.  Later in the year, look for the next Magic: The Gathering crossover with D&D in Strixhaven: Curriculum of Chaos.  You can pre-order The Wild Beyond the Witchlight with the standard cover here from Wizards of the Coast at Amazon now (or order the alternate soft-touch edition from your local game shop) and pre-order Strixhaven: Curriculum of Chaos here.

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UGEARS Gearbox final

Today we’re building a study model of German engineer Karl Benz’s gearbox, the same mechanism you’d find in the transmission of any modern automobile, complete with drive shaft, layshaft with gear couplings, reverse idler, and a gear shift.  It’s the UGEARS Gearbox, the second model we’re testing after the 2-in-1 Arithmetic Kit (check out our first UGEARS review here).  The Gearbox is part of the model maker’s STEM Lab series, educational tools and fun models that aren’t just for kids.  Anyone who has ever driven a car should know the fundamentals of how a gearbox works, and this model is an excellent start.

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It was March 10, 2020, when Disney/Marvel released its “final” movie trailer for the final movie in the Infinity Saga–Black Widow.  Another “final” trailer is… finally… here.   It’s Scarlett Johansson as a younger Black Widow, and this trailer features the most we’ve seen of Florence Pugh’s Yelena Belova, expected to take on the Black Widow role for the coming phase of the Marvel universe–along with a new cast of characters.  We’ll all forever scratch our heads over why it didn’t enter anyone’s mind at Marvel Studios to get Marvel’s top superheroine her own movie before Infinity War and Endgame.  Let’s hope it’s worth the wait.

Check out the new, final, trailer for Black Widow:

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Escape from New York book Walsh

Forty years after the release of the sci-fi classic Escape from New York, fans will at last get a look at the making of the movie.  In celebration of the 40th anniversary of John Carpenter’s one-of-a-kind story of Kurt Russell’s future criminal Snake Plissken and his attempt to rescue the President from a downed plane over a locked-down New York City, Escape from New York: The Official Story of the Film pulls from the studio archives a trove of behind the scenes photographs to showcase the creation of the movie.  You can pre-order the book now here at Amazon, and check out a preview of the book below.

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Review by C.J. Bunce

For Mike Hammer fans, every new story is worth the wait. Kiss Her Goodbye finds Hammer pal Captain Pat Chambers calling the old gumshoe out of his retirement in Florida to investigate whether a common friend really committed suicide. We meet Old Man Mike Hammer, not fully recovered from getting caught in the crossfire in his last big show. He’s ragged around the edges, but refuses to let a shelf full of pills and his loss of girth prevent him from pushing anyone out of his way. No matter how many guns they have drawn.

Max Allan Collins is back, taking notes left by Mickey Spillane and drawing them together into one of the most fun, and most down-to-earth, adventures of Hammer in New York City. This time he’s left to work his way through a Studio 54-inspired club, as he trips over dead bodies to learn the truth. But can Hammer really be Hammer without the lovable Velda? Originally published in 2011 in hardcover, Kiss Her Goodbye is now out in paperback, and with an all-new ending.

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Review by C.J. Bunce

Whether you first met him as the sympathetic, put-upon teacher opposite Nicole Kidman and Alec Baldwin in Malice, the brother of the comatose guy in While You Were Sleeping, the President of the U.S. in an alien invasion in Independence Day, or the scruffy-looking rogue in Spaceballs, you probably love Bill Pullman.  He’s just as endearing and amiable in his gritty mystery series Sinner, with all three seasons now streaming on Netflix.  But he’s also troubled (more than the residents of Haven), a bit crotchety, and stranger than even the most odd detective you can conjure (even Adrian Monk).  Detective Harry Ambrose may be the Sinner in the title of the USA Network television series, or that might apply more to the killers he tracks down and unthinkably befriends, as he works three season-long cases in upstate New York.  Is it worth your time?  That question doesn’t have a short answer.  But a fourth season is in the works, so now is the time to find out.

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You may have recently seen advertisements for UGEARS, maker of some incredible moving models made entirely from precision laser-cut plywood parts.  We laid our hands on several STEM Lab kits and are going to feature our builds of each model over the next few weeks.  These are projects that can be made generally in less than a day, and provide multiple avenues of entertainment and education.  Each model improves the maker’s ability to assemble a model, fun in itself, but like LEGO expert builder series models and Erector sets of the past, these models are engineering marvels that replicate machines for mathematics, physics, and engineering study.  More advances models in the catalog include working trains, cars, and a dragon with moving wings, which we’ll work up to.

First, let’s take a look at the Multiplier and Addiator builds, both included in the UGEARS 2-in-1 Arithmetic Kit (available here at Amazon and also via model shops and online game and craft stores) tools students from grade school through college engineering can use and display, featured as one of the starter builds in the UGEARS catalog.

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Morbius novel cover

Review by C.J. Bunce

As each new superhero gets his showcase in Marvel movies, we’re getting more and more lesser known characters pulled from the history of Marvel Comics to meet on the big screen.  As we stray away from the actual superhero headliners, the obscure come to the fore.  Probably the best of the darker, horror comics can be found in DC Comics, members of Justice League Dark, in recent years including Constantine, Swamp Thing, Zatanna, Deadman, Madame Xanadu, and Shade.  But it’s the feel of JLD you’ll find in Brendan Daneen’s Morbius, The Living Vampire: Blood Ties, a new novel in the Titan Books library of novel adaptations of Marvel Comics.  Taking place after the origin story of Marvel’s take on a “bat-man,” to be adapted in the pandemic-delayed, big-screen debut of Marvel’s latest monstrosity Morbius starring Jared Leto, this story gives an accounting of that “living vampire” first created 50 years ago in the pages of Spider-Man comics by Roy Thomas and Gil Kane.

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