Category: Fantasy Realms


November of course means Novembeard–where participants grow beards to raise awareness of men’s health issues.  Or, just because beards are cool and it’s become an annual tradition.  So who better to celebrate than the actor who has made a beard work for him throughout his career?  That would be Kurt Russell.  As Snake Plisskin in Escape from New York.  As MacReady in The Thing.  As Jack Burton in Big Trouble in Little China (stubble counts).  (Russell only had a moustache in Tombstone so we’ll skip that one).  As the sheriff in Bone Tomahawk.  As John Ruth in The Hateful Eight.  As Ego in Guardians of the Galaxy, Vol. 2.  Even his son Wyatt knows how to sport a cool beard–He wore won this year as the star of Lodge 49.  So what’s left for the guy with the cool beard to take on next?  How about playing the guy with the best beard of all time?  That’s Santa Claus, of course.

The best part?  In this trailer for Netflix’s new The Christmas Chronicles, Russell isn’t playing just another “Bad Santa” role.  Sure, it looks like a traditional family Christmas show, but Russell revealing how cool Santa is (and always has been) and lines that sound like they were written for Jack Burton?  That’s an inspired choice.

He knows when you’ve been bad or good, so you’d better clean up your act right now.

The movie stars Benji star Darby Camp and The Babysitter’s Judah Lewis as kids who want to film Santa in action.  Look for co-stars Kimberly Williams-Paisley (Father of the Bride, Darrow & Darrow) as their mom, plus Lamorne Morris (New Girl, The Guild) and Martin Roach (Kick-Ass 2, The Shape of Water). 

Check out this new trailer for The Christmas Chronicles:

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Escape from New York book Walsh

Review by C.J. Bunce

Forty years after the release of the sci-fi classic Escape from New York, we finally have a thorough, modern account of 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.  First previewed here at borg back in June, this must-have hardcover book for John Carpenter fans is at last available now here at Amazon.  

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Underexposed cover

Review by C.J. Bunce

Stanley Kubrick’s The Lord of the Rings starring The Beatles.  Peter Jackson’s A Nightmare on Elm Street.  George Miller’s Justice League.  Robert Rodriguez’s Barbarella.  Shane Black’s The Monster Squad.  Two John Carpenter movies you’ve never seen.  If you’re wondering what the best movie was in any given year, you have plenty of options.  You can look for the movie that had the biggest take at the box office.  You can look to critic reviews.  You can scroll through the Internet Movie Database.  You can review awards lists or Alternate Oscars.  Or you can just watch the movies and choose for yourself.  Underexposed! The 50 Greatest Movies Never Made, a new book arriving this month from Abrams, could have been called False Starts–it’s a book about movies that almost made it to the big screen.

Underexposed 6A

Peppered with movie poster mock-ups from art group PosterSpy, filmmaker and film enthusiast Joshua Hull tracked down interesting histories of some of the best and most quirky movies that almost got made, but were either abandoned, had legal rights issues, lack of funding, lack of interest, or simply were not made to save audiences from a bad idea.  They aren’t from obscure creators, either.  The list includes projects from Alfred Hitchcock to Stanley Kubrick and Steven Spielberg–and some are ideas that sound like they could have been pretty great.  What were they thinking?  Find out in this book.  

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Next to Arnold Schwarzenegger and Sylvester Stallone, there is probably no other actor in the action genre who has had more action figures with his likeness.  Snake Plissken himself, Kurt Russell.  Once upon a time movies like Escape from New York and Big Trouble in Little China came and went with no toys or collectibles, mainly thanks to a clash between R ratings and the unwillingness of toy companies to release toys for such films.  But even those classics now provide fans of Kurt Russell with a desktop warrior of many of his films to guide their day.  Today we’re running down a brief history of Kurt Russell in action figures and collectible toys.

The first image we had of Russell in Guardians of the Galaxy, Vol. 2, were images of collectible figures for his character Ego.  You can get his Marvel Legends version of the figure here:

If Dorbz are your thing you can also find him in that format here, and as a Funko Pop! figure here.  There is also a MiniMates version, but no Hot Toys or Sideshow versions of Ego available–yet.

   

Although we’ve found no Bone Tomahawk or Tombstone figures for Russell, his Western The Hateful Eight resulted in a 1:6 scale figure of Russell’s John Ruth, available here, an eight-inch version here, and a Funko Pop! here.

   

But how about the Kurt Russell classic characters?

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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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STL192026  Red Sonja 2 BWR A Parrillo

Review by C.J. Bunce

After Sonjaversal and The Invincible Red Sonja and the announcement of Hannah John-Kamen (Star Wars, The Dark Crystal, Marvel, Game of Thrones, Tomb Raider) cast as the next live-action movie Sonja, the big year of Red Sonja continues.  With her 50th anniversary arriving in 2023, now we have a new anthology series from Dynamite Entertainment beginning next week.  Red Sonja: Black White Red combines three pairs of well-known writers and artists with a final book published in classic black and white with a touch of red–sometimes for Sonja’s flaming red hair, and just as often for the blood of her enemies.

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kurt-russell-guardians

Marvel Studios released another great trailer for the sequel Guardians of the Galaxy, Vol. 2, and not only is all the gang featured, we get our first good look at Star-Lord’s dad, Ego, played by Kurt Russell.  Chris Pratt’s Star-Lord, Zoe Saldana’s Gamora, Dave Bautista’s Drax, Bradley Cooper’s Rocket, Karen Gillan’s Nebula, Michael Rooker’s Yondu, and Vin Diesel’s Baby Groot are all still in top form.  With newcomer Pom Klementieff as Mantis.

Still no look at Elizabeth Debicki, Nathan Fillion, or Sylvester Stallone in the film yet.

guardians-2-clip

But what a great return of this unusual team of superheroes. Wait no longer– Check out the new extended trailer for Guardians of the Galaxy, Vol. 2:

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Marvel Studios has released much awesomeness in the past few days for Guardians of the Galaxy fans.  We’ve seen two bright, loud, vibrant, and colorful movie posters (above) plus ten character posters, including the first great look at Elizabeth Debicki (Man from UNCLE) as golden girl Ayesha.  Still no look at Nathan Fillion or Sylvester Stallone yet. Are they even going to be in the movie?

Yesterday the main cast each released and promoted their respective posters on social media.  Chris Pratt’s Star-Lord, Zoe Saldana’s Gamora, Dave Bautista’s Drax, Bradley Cooper’s Rocket, Karen Gillan’s Nebula, Michael Rooker’s Yondu, and Vin Diesel’s Baby Groot are each featured on individual posters, with newcomer Pom Klementieff as Mantis and Kurt Russell as Ego, Dad to Star-Lord, also getting the spotlight along with Debicki.

   

The posters really look like mock-ups for a superb Guardians of the Galaxy, Vol. 2, trading card series.  Collect ’em all.  Topps, please take note.  Take a look at the rest of the posters after the break:

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Review by C.J. Bunce

The humor of AMC’s new series Lodge 49 pulls from those oddball, off-the-wall comedies of the past.  The unlikely situational family antics of the Eddie Izzard series The Riches.  The dance between fantasy and reality that was Jeremy Piven’s series Cupid The pathetic and at the same time hilarious lead played by Caroline Dhavernas in Wonderfalls.  And that modern chaos and confusion you can find in the Zach Galifianakis show Baskets.  Plus it has a lodge, which is pretty cool, but not in that cool woodsy lodge vibe of shows like Twin Peaks or Wayward Pines.  No, this is a lodge as in Elks Lodge, or more like the Water Buffalo Lodge from The Flintstones.  Part Cheers’ bar and part, well so far it’s mainly only like the Cheers’ bar, where the sad sack young lead, aptly named Dud (played by 22 Jump Street, Cowboys and Aliens, and Escape from L.A. actor Wyatt Russell) finally finds a place where everyone knows his name.  Sean “Dud” Dudley is an update on the 1980s (or 1960s, or 1970s) surfer dude, complete with surfboard and Volkswagen Thing.  His lack of money and ambition coupled with his positive attitude and continuous projection of a sense of inner peace makes this update to the archetype all the more real for today.

Three episodes in and we’re still not quite sure where this story will go.  Dud and his twin sister Liz, played by Sonya Cassidy (Humans, The Woman in White, Olympus) are a year past the death of their father, who died in a surfing accident off the coast of Long Beach, California, where they still live.  Dud can’t move on, so he continues to swim in the pool of his childhood home (until the current residents get a restraining order) and he stifles more than one sale of his dad’s shop (by urinating on the window during a showing by the realtor).  Meanwhile Liz is left to work as waiter at the TV version of Hooters, caring only about the tips since the rest of her pay is garnished thanks to her co-signing on her father’s $80,000 debt.  She is threatened by her bank, bailed her brother out once to the tune of $3,000 (so far) for taking a loan from a local loan shark, and yet she seems to have her act together as much as that is possible, keeping an apartment where she and her brother can gain a bit of relaxation watching TV on the couch at the end of each crazy, crazy day.

Where does the Lodge of the title come in?  That’s the lodge for the “Ancient and Benevolent Order of the Lynx,” a local lodge Dud stumbles across–or was it fate?  Will we learn Lodge 49 is really more like Warehouse 13?  The eccentric, seemingly immortal Grand Poobah of the Lodge is played by the great Canadian character actor Kenneth Welsh (Twin Peaks, The Fog, Timecop, The X-Files).  Other minor roles are filled in by familiar faces, too, like Eddie’s boss, played by master comedic actor Brian Doyle-Murray (Caddyshack, Wayne’s World, Groundhog Day), and the owner of the payday loan shop, played by Joe Grifasi (Splash, Brewster’s Millions, Big Business, Batman Forever).  And look for everyone’s favorite genre actor Bruce Campbell and Chuck’s Vik Sahay as recurring characters in later episodes.  Another big name to know: Paul Giamatti (The Illusionist, Lady in the Water, Paycheck, American Splendor) is executive producer of the show.  More trivia?  Wyatt Russell is the son of actors Kurt Russell and Goldie Hawn, and half-brother of Kate Hudson.

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With so much noise in the movie marketplace this year, Guardians of the Galaxy, Vol. 2, came and went with little fanfare.  But the hype of other productions and the failure of the studio to come up with a more audience-grabbing publicity campaign caused many to skip over the sequel to 2014’s surprise success, Guardians of the Galaxy (it’s really been three years?).  If you were one who missed it in the theater, it’s now available on multiple streaming services, Blu-ray, and DVD, and it’s so much fun, and so good, it’s going to prompt us to resurrect our discussion of that awesome rarity: sequels that rival the original.

Get ready for more laugh-out-loud humor among the Guardians than in the previous film.  Now that the origin story is behind us, we get to know each character more after they’ve been working together and their relationships are well-established.  Prepare for more quotable lines from Chris Pratt’s Star-Lord, Zoe Saldana’s Gamora, Dave Bautista’s Drax, and the voices of Bradley Cooper’s Rocket, and Vin Diesel, this time as a tiny Baby Groot as we met him at the end of the first film.  Returning characters who see fairly expanded screen time and are integral to the story more than before are Karen Gillan’s Nebula, Michael Rooker’s Yondu, and Guardians II director James Gunn’s brother Sean Gunn returning as the Ravager Kraglin.

As much as you’ll love the familiar players, the new characters and the storylines they bring to the table keep the film exciting to the very end.  First you have two big names, and unlike superhero movies of the past, they aren’t just in the film to get audiences into the theater:  Kurt Russell adds another compelling and multi-layered performance to his resume as Star-Lord’s father Ego, and Sylvester Stallone plays an important role as Stakar, a Ravager leader whose backstory intertwines with Yondu.  Adding to her nuanced villain roles (along with her role in 2016’s The Man from U.N.C.L.E.) is Elizabeth Debicki (you may also recognize her voice in Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets) as Ayesha–you directs a fleet of pilots in spacecraft drones that are like nothing you’ve seen before.  And finally, the Marvel Universe is introduced to Pom Klementieff’s Mantis.  Some of the best scenes in the film, both dramatic and hysterically funny, come from conversations between Drax and Mantis.  An unexpected reference to Mary Poppins (!?) is probably the best line in the film.

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