Category: Fantasy Realms


Kung fu 2

When you can take the affidavit from my hand, you are ready.

Not everything gets done right the first time.  Take the 1970s television series Kung Fu.  Based at least in part on an idea from martial arts legend Bruce Lee, the series was the #1 show in the U.S. in 1973.  But casting David Carradine over Lee seems nothing short of lunacy in hindsight.  While Lee’s heirs later continued his vision in Cinemax’s The Warrior, the series that became Kung Fu is getting a reboot, a re-imagining, or a redo next month as Olivia Liang takes the lead role as Nicky Shen in CW’s Kung FuWell-timed to follow the success of the similar-vibed live-action Mulan and some of our favorite recent martial arts series like Wu Assassins, the series follows a Chinese American college student who travels to China and is taken under the wing of a Shaolin master.  She returns to San Francisco with a new purpose.  Nicky looks like a superheroine in the first trailers for the series, which makes the CW network of Arrowverse fame a good place to air the series.  The new series also seems to have the slow-motion martial arts effects the original Kung Fu was known for (the same later used in the Six Million Dollar Man).

Check out some great first trailers for the series below.  Continue reading

Review by C.J. Bunce

Something wicked this way comes–or at least is coming by way of Tasmania, an island off the southern coast of Australia.  The stark beauty of Tasmania is the best feature of the first episode of the new Starz original series The Gloaming (which means twilight or dusk), from mountain tops to rolling weather changes to waterfalls.  But that’s where the beauty ends as a detective from Melbourne is called in to join a woman from his past who is also a cop, both to investigate a murder tied to the death of his girlfriend long ago.  It all takes place in a part of the world most Westerners will find entirely curious and new.  Written and directed by Victoria Madden (The Kettering Incident), The Gloaming begins this week with a slow-paced introduction that explains little and throws a lot at the viewer.  This isn’t a travelogue for Tasmania, as each image seems connected to some kind of evil lurking around the next corner, like a new take on The Wicker Man.

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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 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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The mists of Ravenloft are rising.  Overcome your dread or forever be its prisoner!

Hot on the heels of this month’s release of Candlekeep Mysteries, the new Dungeons & Dragons 5th edition campaign sourcebook Van Richten’s Guide to Ravenloft explores the mysteries of Ravenloft, mist-shrouded lands where infamous Darklords lurk among ageless vampires, zombie hordes, cosmic terrors, and worse.  Create your own Domains of Dread, settings to host endless terrifying adventures, or join the ranks of haunted heroes who embrace macabre lineages, dual-edged Dark Gifts, haunted subclasses, and other forbidden powers.  Van Richten’s Guide to Ravenloft contains everything you need to craft a horror-themed campaign for Dungeons & Dragons, and unleash a treasure trove of new story hooks, character options, and campaign customization.  You pre-order the standard library cover here from Wizards of the Coast at Amazon now, or order the alternate shimmering, soft-touch edition from your local gameshop.

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Review by C.J. Bunce

Not just a new adventure for your next Dungeons & Dragons campaign, the new 5th edition adventure anthology Candlekeep Mysteries is a different way to enhance gameplay from Wizards of the Coast.  First, it opens up the realm of creators creating the stories behind your next adventure.  It’s 17 contained adventures all centered on a visit to the Forgotten Realm’s renowned towering library fortress of Candlekeep.  Each adventure has a book– a rarity, serving as a clue, a key, a totem or token, a container, or treasure–at the center of a mystery.  And each adventure can be played as a standalone, or, it can supplement another campaign, so a Dungeon Master can splice in one of these stories to places like the Soltryce Academy of Wildemount, the Library of Korranberg in Eberron, the University Library in Sharn, or the Great Library of Greyhawk.  Plus new monsters.  New magic items.  New characters.

Which adventure will you begin with?

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Review by C.J. Bunce

Only a year ago I called director Craig Brewer’s 2019 biopic Dolemite is My Name–the theatrical return of Eddie Murphy and Wesley Snipes from Netflix–the big Oscar miss of the year.  It begged the question:  When was the last time Murphy and Snipes were this good, and why did they ever leave the top spot on marquees of movie houses everywhere?  Brewer is back again with Murphy and Snipes, this time in a sequel to director John Landis’s quirky 1988 comedy Coming to America, a two-time Oscar nominee for costumes and one of Rick Baker’s makeup nominations for turning Murphy and co-star Arsenio Hall into a host of characters, a box office success that gained favor over the years thanks to video rental stores, and today it’s a nostalgic trip back to the 1980s.  The sequel Coming 2 America is a big surprise: a big budget marvel not from Netflix but Amazon Studios, a thoughtful, funny, surprisingly deep sequel we didn’t know we wanted, and a result that is even better than the originalMore than “just another sequel,” it’s a fairy tale like The Princess Diaries, a bit A Knight’s Tale, a bit Crazy Rich Asians, and a worthy sequel in concept and art design to Black Panther.  It’s also a celebration of the career and characters of Eddie Murphy, and it expands to be a celebration of black culture and comedic films via dozens of great Easter eggs.  In short, it’s one of the best direct-to-television movies since studios started moving from movie houses to home screens.

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In the next of what has been literally thousands of adaptations over the past 134 years of Doyle stories of his famous detective Sherlock Holmes and companion Dr. John Watson, Holmes takes the backseat and Doyle’s street urchins called the Baker Street Irregulars take center stage.  Netflix’s The Irregulars is an eight-episode series set in Doyle’s traditional Victorian London, following the local troubled young adult/teenagers who now solve crimes at the behest (as in blackmail) of Watson, leaving an elusive, drug-addict Holmes to get all the credit for their successes.  The crimes aren’t garden-variety either, with dark supernatural twists promised for the series.  Henry Lloyd-Hughes (The Pale Horse) plays Holmes, Royce Pierreson (Death in Paradise) is Watson, and the ubiquitous Aidan McArdle (Ella Enchanted, Humans, Mr. Selfridge) is Inspector Lestrade, but they aren’t the leads.  Those are played by young Thaddea Graham (The Letter for the King), Darci Shaw (Judy), Jojo Macari (Cursed), McKell David (The Gentlemen), and Harrison Osterfield (Chaos Walking).  It feels like Sherlock Holmes with a Doctor Who spin.

Take a look at the trailer for Netflix’s The Irregulars:

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