Archive for August, 2021


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Two movie trailers in and it still is difficult to understand what Eternals will be about.  It still looks like a cross between X-Men: Apocalypse, Jupiter’s Legacy and Inhumans.  The final trailer from Marvel Studios for the third movie of Phase IV of the Marvel Cinematic Universe (on the tail of both Black Widow and Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings) doesn’t look like any other Marvel movie.  Eternals has a cast of familiar names–the central character fan-favorite actress Gemma Chan, who wowed us in Humans and Shetland, and created a great villain in Raya and the Last Dragon.  She also played a friend turned enemy in Captain Marvel, as the alien Minn-Erva.  And it features actors most wouldn’t think to cast for an MCU movie, like Salma Hayek, Angelina Jolie, and Kumail Nanjiani.  But the strange takeaway from the first trailer (seen here) and second (and final) trailer is it doesn’t look like any other Marvel movie–there’s no hook, no exciting or funny element to reel in viewers after such a successful Phase III.

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tcm summer movie cover

Review by C.J. Bunce

We’re just a little over the midway point of Summer 2021, so there’s plenty of time to squeeze the pulp out of the sun and fun.  Summer means movies, often big movies, and Turner Classic Movies’ latest in-depth research into the best of classic and genre films continues in the new book, TCM’s Summer Movies: 30 Sun-Drenched Classics available now here at Amazon.  Think about it–What would you recommend for the 30 best summer movies of all time?  Writer John Malahy makes his selections, and pulls in an additional 30 movies as suggested “double features,” meaning you have 60 key suggestions that will either re-affirm your own picks, or more likely, provide at least a few new films you may want to try out.  Over the past decade I have reviewed most of the books from publisher Running Press’s chronicle from the TCM library, and this latest is on the heels of TCM’s The Essentials: 52 Must-See Movies and Why They Matter and its sequel (reviewed here and here least year).  Today I’m reviewing and previewing the new volume in what has become a major film library for the film historian.  You may quibble with some of the picks, but I bet you’ll find at least 20 movies that make your own list of movies or at least help get you in the spirit of summer.

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Review by C.J. Bunce

Following up on The Toys That Made Us (previously reviewed here at borg), Netflix’s surprise hit documentary series leaning on viewers’ nostalgia with a look behind toys of the past, in 2019 the streaming service added a new series based on the same formula, The Movies That Made Us.  The series took a new look at four movies in four hour-long episodes in its first season, including Die Hard, Ghostbusters, Home Alone, and Dirty Dancing, followed by two holiday episodes featuring Elf and A Nightmare Before Christmas.  The Movies That Made Us isn’t really about the movies and their impact so much as what strange stories lie behind how the movies were created, from idea to release, including production foibles and hurdles.  The show is trying to appeal to a broad spectrum of viewers, and it’s done it again with four new installments for its second season, featuring Back to the Future, Pretty Woman, Jurassic Park, and Forrest GumpAnd new episodes are on their way featuring Aliens, Coming to America, and RoboCop, and October staples A Nightmare on Elm Street, Friday the 13th,and Halloween.

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If you need something to laugh at–and who doesn’t?–a quick fix can be found with Comedy Central’s series Nora from Queens (full title Awkwafina is Nora from Queens), and right when we need her, she’s back with an all-new second season beginning tonight on Comedy Central.  The series of half-hour episodes is a semi-autobiographical look at Awkwafina, stage name of rapper/actor Nora Lum, who switches up her name slightly to Nora Lin for the series.  Viewers will find a lot of truth with Nora, whose real-life persona won a Golden Globe best actress for The Farewell, and she’s had breakout roles in Ocean’s 8, Crazy Rich Asians, and Jumanji: The Next Level.  Has any actor had a better year than Awkwafina?  She was the voice of comic relief Sisu in Disney’s best animated film in years, Raya and the Last Dragon and she’s co-starring in Marvel’s latest superhero blockbuster, Shang-Chi and The Legend of the The Rings–and she’s in Disney’s new, live-action The Little Mermaid.

Check out a preview for the new season below.

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PCKC 2021 COMICS HEADLINERS

Friday the pop culture convention Planet Comicon Kansas City is back, this time to celebrate its 21st year.  The event hosts a pantheon of nationally recognized writers and artists for its eighth year in its downtown Kansas City, Missouri, venue at the Kansas City Convention Center.  The show runs Friday, August 20 through Sunday, August 22.  It’s a chance to step carefully back into normalcy for many pop culture fans–it may just be the biggest comic convention yet where everyone shows up in masks.  Some of the biggest names and most popular comics creators are in the line-up for the 2021 event, probably the best-known being Roy Thomas, the comic book writer and editor who was Stan Lee’s first successor as editor-in-chief of Marvel Comics.  Characters he created or co-created include Wolverine, Ghost Rider, Vision, Carol Danvers, Luke Cage, Iron Fist, Red Sonja, Ultron, Man-Thing, Red Guardian, and Valkyrie, the majority of which have become so famous they’ve made it to recent big or small screen adaptations.  Famous for his work on X-Men and Avengers, Thomas is also known for his work on classic titles All-Star Squadron and Justice Society of America.

PCKC 2021 HEADLINERS

Several other comic book creators scheduled to attend include Ande Parks, Ant Lucia, Megan Levens, Seth Peck, Rob DavisJason Arnett, Bryan Fyffe, Bryan Timmins, Darryl Woods, Afua Richardson, Joe Corroney, and Darren Neely.  In addition to comics creators, novelists scheduled for the show include borg.com writer and author Elizabeth C. Bunce, noted Star Trek authors Kevin Dilmore and Dayton Ward, and Star Wars authors Kevin J. Anderson, John Jackson Miller, and Timothy Zahn–and many more.

Back again, the Elite Comics flight crew is planning its “Party on the Pillar” hoping for attendees to pick up some great deals on what the Con is all about–comics.

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Delta ST cover

Review by C.J. Bunce

The sixth volume of the encyclopedia of Star Trek ships has arrived as publisher Hero Collector continues its library where Star Trek Shipyards: The Borg and Delta Quadrant (reviewed here at borg), left off.  Continuing the voyages chronicled over seven seasons of Star Trek Voyager, Star Trek Shipyards: The Delta Quadrant Volume 2 documents, in a coffee-table class, full-color hardcover edition, the ships of the alien races in alphabetical order from Ledosian to Zahl.  It’s available now here at Amazon.  Star Trek Shipyards is known for its colorful, high quality illustrations, providing an in-universe guide–with the goal of creating an exhaustive library–to the seemingly endless array of the franchise’s highly-detailed spacecraft. 

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Darth Vader, Flash Gordon, The Incredible Hulk, Ariel from The Little Mermaid, characters from Supernatural, the CW Arrowverse, Stranger Things, Star Trek, Laverne & Shirley, The Brady Bunch, The Karate Kid, RWBY, My Hero Academia, your favorite writers and artists, and more are heading to Kansas City this week

For twenty-one years Planet Comicon Kansas City has been one of the Midwest’s biggest comic book and pop culture conventions and that was no less so in 2014 when it became the largest attended event in the history of the Kansas City Convention Center.  And it’s only gotten bigger.  The last show featured guests including Henry Winkler, William Shatner, John Wesley Shipp, Cary Elwes, and Joonas Suotamo, and this year more memorable names from TV and movies from the past and present are scheduled to attend.  Leading things off is Misha Collins and a slate of actors from Supernatural (and one of the Winchester brothers’ cars from the series), the series making its biggest ever regional fan appearance at the annual event, which takes place at Kansas City’s convention center at Bartle Hall, August 20-22, 2021.

Making their second appearances at the event are Darth Vader actor (and Guardians of the Galaxy and Harry Potter universe actor) Spencer Wilding and Star Trek legends–Dr. Crusher herself Gates McFadden and Worf’s brother Nikolai Paul Sorvino (…and The Firm, Goodfellas, Law and Order, etc.).  They’ll be joined by Gaten Matarazzo and Gabriella Pizzolo from Stranger Things, The Doors and Entourage star Kevin Dillon, The Karate Kid and Cobra Kai stars Martin Kove and William Zabka, and a host of superhero performers from past and present, including CW Arrowverse actors Stephen Amell and Katie Cassidy plus original The Incredible Hulk actor Lou Ferrigno and Flash Gordon actor Sam Jones.

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There’s something for every TV and movie fanboy and fangirl at this year’s show.

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FCBD 2021 Judge Dredd  FCBD 2021 School Extra Girls

Today at Elite Comics and 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 was 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.  Below, check out some of the covers and titles coming your way for FCBD 2021 today!

FCBD 2021 Sonic  FCBD 2021 Star Wars

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If you build it, they will come. 

Thursday night at the Field of Dreams in Dyersville, Iowa, a once-in-a-lifetime baseball game was played finally, after a year of pandemic delays, between the #1 ranked White Sox and the New York Yankees, and the event returned something long missing to the game.  In the third inning Chicago White Sox outfielder Eloy Jiménez flipped a switch, igniting a ho-hum MLB regular season game into something more with a three-run homer, and the Sox led most of the game until New York took back the game in the ninth inning.  Then, crushing a two-run, walk-off homer into the corn, shortstop Tim Anderson won the landmark game for the Sox with a 9-8 final.  Anderson remarked, “playing out here in the middle of the corn, who would’ve thought that?”  Jiménez commented that the experience in the first ever Major League Baseball game in Iowa was a little bit like playing back in the minor leagues, “it was amazing… but this was a big one.  This was fun.”  With a bushel of homerun baseballs landing in the corn field behind left and right field, it wasn’t the same old, big city baseball, but an experience that brought players and fans back to the basics of the game.  It was a perfect summer night in the kind of pastoral venue the old pros played in for a hundred years before Nike logos adorned player shirts, before piloted drone cameras, and giant HD playback monitors.  In short, it’s the kind of game that will hopefully happen again and again at this unique venue, and certainly more than only one MLB game per year.

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Fantasies rarely play out as you would expect.  — Mr. Roarke

Blumhouse introduced a new twist on the 1977-1984 series Fantasy Island in 2020 with a feature film version starring Michael Peña  (Ant-Man), leaning into a darker, horror take on its story. ABC tried a reboot in 1998, starring Malcolm McDowell (Star Trek: Generations, Heroes). This week a new series emerges on Fox, entirely separate (or is it?) from the 2020 movie, but landing a perfect opener that is perfectly faithful to Ricardo Montalban’s classic weekly anthology showcase, an episode that would qualify among the top of the original series’ best stories.  This time it’s the talented Roselyn Sanchez (Without a Trace, Kojak, Dragnet, Telenovela, Rush Hour 2), whose beauty, charisma, and talent are more than worthy of her iconic, suave, Latin predecessor.  Miss Elena Roarke is not a descendant of Mr. Roarke, but a great niece of the former ambassador of the island.  The update is as much homage as sequel, a fine balance that miraculously gets it all right, with an updated feel that is modern and even fun, like the long-running BBC series Death in Paradise (which follows a fish-out-of-water detective and his staff on another island paradise also encountering newcomers aka guest stars in each new episode).  As with Montalban’s Fantasy Island, character actors from television’s past, present, and maybe even future, should all be scrabbling to get a part on this new incarnation of the series.

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