Category: Fantasy Realms


Review by C.J. Bunce

When you think of your favorite Christmas movies, you probably think of Miracle on 34th Street, Elf, It’s a Wonderful Life, A Charlie Brown Christmas, or even Die Hard.  But maybe you don’t.  What about movies that aren’t big-budget blockbusters, that never made it to the big screen and in fact weren’t intended for a theater release?  I’ll Be Home for Christmas Movies is a look at a subset of holiday films that might be thought of as the unsung heroes of Christmas: Hallmark Channel Christmas movies.  The genre has a niche fandom, a fandom whose creations are about lost romance, conjuring a magical spirit, featuring locales of finely decked halls, strings of lights, and rafters of evergreen–and lots of happy people, at least by the end.  They also feature some favorite actors from other genres.

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Review by C.J. Bunce

When I was a kid in school, periodically we were given book orders, full of discount versions of books, but also posters and popular magazines like Dynamite, and lots of tie-ins with the latest news on current movies and TV shows.  Anything Star Wars was quickly added to our book order form, and that’s what Titan’s latest tie-in reminds me of most.  Star Wars Insider: The Galaxy’s Greatest Heroes looks at 16 of the biggest heroes of the franchise from the creators and actors behind them.  But after nearly 45 years, the book allows a greater opportunity for even more people behind the scenes to offer their commentary on fan-favorite characters, with something for every Star Wars fan.

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We’ve seen some good variants on classic board games introduced over the years by USAopoly, and this next merger will appeal to fans of Dungeons & Dragons’ recent years of comic book stories.  Clue: Dungeons & Dragons is a licensed update to the 2001 edition of the game with new characters, playing pieces, and gameboard.  It’s the game of Clue with a Dungeons & Dragons theme, a good way to pull in younger players who aren’t yet ready for roleplaying games, but want to join in with stories of fun fantasy adventurers like Minsc and Boo.

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Although Sarah Michelle Gellar herself is only 44, BOOM! Studios and 20th Television is taking Buffy of Buffy the Vampire Slayer fame into her 50s .  It’s a new limited monthly series called Buffy the Last Vampire Slayer Think Old Man Logan, Old Man Hawkeye, or Old Man Quill–or a much younger Old Laurie Strode or Old Sarah Connor–with a middle-aged, butt-kicking superheroine–and you’ll see where Buffy is heading.  And from the first looks at some variant comic book covers and concept art, Xander and Spike are coming along for the ride.  Take a look at some covers and art from the series below.

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Milla Jovovich’s badass superheroine Alice in the Resident Evil franchise, from 2002’s first film through five sequels–Resident Evil: Apocalypse (2004), Resident Evil: Extinction (2007), Resident Evil: Afterlife (2010), Resident Evil: Retribution (2012), and Resident Evil: The Final Chapter (2016)–has given us the 21st century version of Ellen Ripley and Sarah Conner.  And speaking of Connor, the trailers for the next chapter of Resident Evil, a prequel called Resident Evil: Welcome to Raccoon City, looks a lot like Terminator 3–plus lots of zombies.

Check out the first trailer and a profile on Hannah John-Kamen’s character Jill Valentine, below:

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Review by C.J. Bunce

Some of the best Doctor Who stories can actually be found outside the television series.  Take for example the hundreds of audio books from Big Finish.  In what other franchise can you find spin-off dramas featuring the very stars of the franchise, as well as other award-winning actors?  Another place you can find your Doctor Who fix is via Titan Comics.  Doctor Who fans across the world can find comic book writer Jody Houser tapping into some of Doctor Who fans’ favorite characters and concepts in the first issue of the new series Doctor Who: Empire of the Wolf.  It’s at comic shops tomorrow.  Of course, that’s Wolf as in Bad Wolf.  Straight out of the gates we encounter David Tennant’s alternate 11th Doctor with Rose Tyler.  Better yet, the story crosses beams with the least utilized of all, Paul McGann’s fantastic eighth Doctor, (celebrating the 25th anniversary of his first appearance) plus Matt Smith’s popular 12th Doctor.  And an army of short, angry potatoes with guns.  And a Fez.  Oh, yes, there is much fun to be found here.

Check out a preview of Issue #1 below for borg readers courtesy of Titan Comics.

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Jungle-Cruise-Movie-Trailer-Dwayne-Johnson-Emily-Blunt

Review by C.J. Bunce

Some movies are exactly as advertised.  Count Jungle Cruise in that category.  And yet–it’s bigger and bolder and braver than you might have guessed from its trailers.  Comparisons to the likes of Raiders of the Lost Ark, Pirates of the Caribbean, Romancing the Stone, and African Queen are all completely warranted.  Jungle Cruise is a big, sweeping adventure–and visual amusement park ride–that draws out the best of stars Dwayne Johnson and Emily Blunt.  First previewed in autumn 2019, it’s another pandemic delay that has the scope and spectacle that would have made it the perfect box office hit in a normal year.  But at least now audiences can see what they’ve been missing as Jungle Cruise arrived this past weekend on the Disney Plus streaming service.

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Review by C.J. Bunce

As much as any movie has been able to keep its secrets in the past few years, it’s hard to beat the surprises in the epic fantasy film Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings, the first film of Phase IV of the Marvel Cinematic Universe without an Avengers headliner.  And when I say fantasy, I mean it–it’s got it all, a combination of the magical realm of Doctor Strange, the ancient, secret country hidden from the rest of the world like Black Panther, a mix of Asian lore, Shakespearean family squabbles (including a famous, Oscar-winning Shakespearean actor), and a plot–and dragons–right out of The Lord of the Rings (after all, Ten Rings are better than One Ring, right?).  It has action, it has ties to the old and new, and, thanks to co-star Awkwafina, it’s the laugh-out-loud funniest of all the Marvel movies.  And it’s finally arrived on Disney+ so mass audiences still staying away from movie theaters finally have a chance to see what they missed.

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The first two episodes of Marvel’s Hawkeye series are less than two weeks away.  After the mental anguish of this year’s first round of Marvel streaming series–depression and loss as the themes of WandaVision, self-doubt and imposter syndrome as the themes of The Falcon and the Winter Soldier, and regret and hopelessness as the themes of Loki–Marvel fans have earned themselves a fun Marvel series, and Hawkeye looks like it will fit the bill.

In yesterday’s quick Disney Plus Day event, the streaming service previewed what should be another fun series, as critically acclaimed Orphan Black star Tatiana Maslany looks like she finds it easy being green as the title superheroine of She-Hulk.  It’s a little harder to see what angle will be taken with Oscar Isaac as Moon Knight A deadly war of the gods with Egypt as a backdrop feels and looks like Isaac in X-Men: Apocalypse.  And Iman Vellani stars in Ms. Marvel, which looks a lot Marvel’s version of DC Comics’ Stargirl.  New announcements include series Echo starring Alaqua Cox, Ironheart starring Dominique Thorne, Agatha: House of Harkness starring Kathryn Hahn, and Secret Invasion starring Samuel L. Jackson and Ben Mendelsohn.

Take a look at another great Hawkeye trailer, and our first glimpses (barely) at She-HulkMoon Knight, and Ms. Marvel below.

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Review by Elizabeth C. Bunce

An “inverted mystery” is a story that follows a criminal through the planning and commission of a crime–usually murder–from initial conception through the culprit’s ultimate downfall and apprehension (think Law & Order: Criminal Intent).  The focus is on the criminal’s mindset and how his dark scheme unravels.  Tim Major’s The New Adventure of Sherlock Holmes novel The Back-to-Front Murder is a twist on this subgenre… sort of.  Beginning with the classic Sherlockian setup—a client with a curious conundrum—Major’s novel unravels the puzzling murder of a London widower whom it seems no one would have any reason to want dead, least of all Holmes’s new client.  The trouble is, the client did plan the murder, down to the very last detail.

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