Category: Movies


luke-obiwan-peering-into-lightsaber

Review by C.J. Bunce

Roger Christian’s success is a testament to the idea of thinking outside the box.  If you stop in the middle of age-old processes, no matter what you’re doing and what field you’re in, and consider trying a different method, you may trigger something special.  In Roger Christian’s new memoir Cinema Alchemist: Designing Star Wars and Alien, it is the old Hollywood method of making movies that is the villain of sorts, with Christian coming to the rescue as the hero with a new way of creating movie magic for audiences in 1977.  And it just so happens he came to the rescue of George Lucas and landed a gig making of one of the greatest science fiction fantasy of all time, the original Star Wars, and the greatest sci-fi horror film of all time, Alien.

In Cinema Alchemist you learn Christian’s modern method of set decoration and design perfected in Star Wars, a method copied by many, that he would soon use again for Alien.  Ridley Scott specifically chose Christian to create the same look he came up with for the Millennium Falcon in his new ship the Nostromo and other sets.

Cinema Alchemist

In any memoir you can expect some amount of hyperbole, although Christian likely deserves a pass simply because the Academy Awards endorsed his work as set decorator of Star Wars with an Oscar.  So he is certainly the real deal.  Countless Star Wars fans have spent years re-creating his original design for the lightsaber, tracking down the original camera parts he used, as well as re-creating all the rifles and pistols used in the film.  Christian had his hands in the creation of R2-D2, C-3PO, the landspeeder, the Sandcrawler, Luke’s Tatooine homestead, the Millennium Falcon, the giant dinosaur skeleton in the desert sand, Mos Eisley and the Cantina, and set after set created for the film.

original R2-D2

George Lucas and the R2-D2 prototype Christian helped to create with a light fixture and metal bits and pieces Lucas called “greeblies”.

The value of the book is in Christian’s accounts of prop making, set design, and using found objects like old airplane scrap metal to create a “real world, lived-in” feel on Star Wars and Alien in light of severe time and money constraints, plus Christian’s personal recollections of conversations and observations with George Lucas on Star Wars and Ridley Scott, H.R. Giger, and Moebius on Alien, and his play-by-play of the filming of the Alien chest-buster scene, arguably the most famous horror scene of modern cinema.  After reading Cinema Alchemist, you will absolutely watch Star Wars and Alien differently, and notice details of the film you haven’t seen in your previous 300 viewings of the films.  That is quite a feat.

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Star-Wars-The-Force-Awakens-3D-Blu-ray-Cover

Certain to provide some last-minute marketing funds for its December release of Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, Disney/Lucasfilm is dipping once again into fans’ pockets in November as it finally releases the 3D Blu-ray 4-disc edition of Star Wars: The Force Awakens.  For those fans who don’t have a 3D TV configuration, the set offers some new features that may prompt you to buy whether you plan to view the 3D cut or not.

So other than what promises to be an exceptional 3D version of the film on Blu-ray 3D, Blu-ray, Digital HD, and DVD, why might fans go for the Star Wars: The Force Awakens 3D Collector’s Edition?

How about an audio commentary by J.J. Abrams?  The most sought after director of today will no doubt share insight into this incredible directing opportunity, why he made the story choices he did and a behind the scenes view of the cast.  Not enough for you?  Then how about some more deleted scenes–scenes that were rumored to exist but where held back from this April’s standard Blu-ray, DVD, and digital releases.

Star Wars Force Awakens Blu-ray 3D collectors edition

A 3D version, an Abrams commentary and more deleted scenes cinches it for us.  But if you want any more how about five new behind the scenes features?  Check them out:

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Hobbit lord Rings box set

It’s the best theatrical fantasy series ever released.  The Lord of the Rings trilogy and The Hobbit trilogy.

So how much would you pay for a 30-disc edition of all six extended cuts of the Peter Jackson Middle-earth movies on Blu-ray?  Assuming you haven’t already purchased each film individually, you could buy the Blu-ray extended edition of the first trilogy–The Lord of the Rings trilogy–for less than $60 from Amazon here, and the second trilogy–The Hobbit trilogy–for less than $65 from Amazon here.  That’s about $125.

What kinds of extras would prompt you to pay $799.99 for a single release set of all six movies?  For the first time ever, such a set is coming your way soon in The Middle-earth Six-Film Collection–A Limited Collector’s Edition.  In addition to the extended edition release of all six films, the collection also includes all previously released bonus content from both the theatrical and extended editions.  So what new comes with the set if all the bonus content is on the previous releases?  Here’s what you get:

– The 30 discs are housed in six stunning faux leather books and a collectible Hobbit-style wood shelf.  The one-of-a-kind wood shelf is crafted from solid wood with design selected by Peter Jackson.
 
– Exclusive premiums designed for the collection include: · Spectacular 100-page sketch-style book with replica The Red Book of Westmarch, filled with original film sketches and new artwork · Original reproductions of exquisite watercolor paintings by acclaimed conceptual artists Alan Lee and John Howe, framable and wall-ready

Hobbit Lord of the Rings Boxed set

The bottom line?  If you value these extras at approximately $600 or more, this boxed set is for you.  If not, you can steer back to the current individual trilogy boxed sets linked above.  Here’s more about the content of the new 30-disc boxed set from the press information for previously released content:

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Huntsman

Review by C.J. Bunce

The Huntsman: Winter’s War is now available on Digital HD and coming to 4K Ultra HD, Blu-ray, DVD and On Demand this week from Universal Pictures Home Entertainment.  The Huntsman: Winter’s War on Blu-ray and DVD includes an all-new extended edition of the action-adventure, plus exclusive bonus features that show the depth and skill required to produce an epic fantasy film on par with Peter Jackson’s The Lord of the Rings series.  Not since Godfather 2 has any filmmaker been able to so successfully stitch a prequel and a sequel into one film, as the story of Winter’s War takes place both before and after 2012’s Snow White and the Huntsman.  Winter’s War also remains our lead contender for best fantasy of 2016.

The Huntsman: Winter’s War stars Charlize Theron (Mad Max: Fury RoadAeon Flux, Prometheus, Kubo and the Two Strings) as the evil Queen Ravenna, who betrays her sister Freya (Emily Blunt, Edge of Tomorrow, Looper, The Adjustment Bureau), causing Freya’s evil, icy powers to emerge.  Retreating to a snowbound fortress, Freya raises an army of children into Huntsmen, banishing love in her realm.  Freya’s most elite Huntsmen, Eric (Chris Hemsworth, ThorStar Trek 2009) and Sara (Jessica Chastain, Crimson Peak) are caught breaking the one law and forced to face off against the other Huntsmen.  Seven years after the events in Snow White and the Huntsmen, we meet the long-exiled Eric, now tasked to retrieve the legendary “mirror mirror” that set off the battle of that film.  He is joined by four dwarf warriors and propelled into a battle with Freya, who manages to acquire the mirror and unleash the dark power within it.  Be sure to check out our review of the theatrical release of the film from this past April here at borg.com.

Blu-ray Winters War Huntsman

Less than ten new minutes are added for the extended edition that accompanies the theatrical edition on this week’s release.  The added scenes alone won’t justify the purchase of the Blu-ray, but you’ll want to watch this new release as the spectacular features and beautiful transfer quality make The Huntsman: Winter’s War a feast for the eyes and the best home release so far this year.

So what are the features you get?

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Star Trek blu-rays 50th anniversary box set

If you don’t already own Star Trek’s original series, animated series and movie series, a new boxed set coming next month may be the thing for you.  As part of its 50th anniversary celebration of the original series, CBS and Paramount are partnering to release a high-end compilation of Blu-ray editions of some of the franchise’s best productions.

Every movie featuring the original Enterprise crew of William Shatner, Leonard Nimoy, James Doohan, Nichelle Nichols, George Takei, and Walter Koenig, except Star Trek Generations–Star Trek: The Motion Picture, Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan, Star Trek III: The Search for Spock, Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home, Star Trek V: The Final Frontier, and Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country–can be yours on Blu-ray.  The original series is also included, and the director’s cut of Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan released earlier this year.

ST disc 30 collection

For those who already have invested in the above content on Blu-ray, the additional material in the new boxed set that may draw you in is a first-time release of Star Trek: The Animated Series in high-definition on Blu-ray, as well as a multi-part documentary: Star Trek: The Journey to the Silver Screen—New 50th Anniversary.  CBS/Paramount promises two hours of features with new content, covering The New Frontier: Resurrecting Star Trek, Maiden Voyage: Making Star Trek: The Motion Picture, The Genesis Effect: Engineering The Wrath of Khan, The Dream is Alive: The Continuing Mission, and End of an Era: Charting the Undiscovered Country.

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athomewithdeltoro-cover

An unusual art exhibition premiered this month in Los Angeles at the L.A. County Museum of Art, and it is being expanded into a book available later this month.  Director Guillermo del Toro is known for his visions of fantasy horror as seen in his Hellboy, Pan’s Labyrinth, Mimic, Crimson Peak, and even the beginnings of The Hobbit trilogy.  Many are unaware of his creepy home full of fantasy and horror relics that he calls Bleak House.  Think of the beginning of an episode of The Ray Bradbury Theater or Friday the 13th TV series or that shop where an old man found a Mogwai for his son in Gremlins and you’ll have an idea of the oddities to be found.

Guillermo del Toro: At Home with Monsters is a companion to the exhibition of artworks purchased by del Toro and featured in his strange home.  The book includes photographs, pages from his journals, and interviews with the director and other art connoisseurs.  The book promises to provide an engrossing look into the mind of one of the truly unique storytellers of today.

athomewithdeltoro4

Below, after the break, is a preview of pages from At Home With Monsters.  It is available now for pre-order here from Amazon.com.

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Aliens Set Photography book Titan

Review by C.J. Bunce

To commemorate the 30th anniversary of James Cameron’s sci-fi film classic Aliens, writer Simon Ward has assembled a photograph-dense book full of never before released images from the movie stage.  Aliens: The Set Photography fills each of 144 pages with views of cast members, camera crews, and special effects artists as they created the follow-on to Ridley Scott’s horror classic, 1979’s Alien.  Less of a space drama and more of an action-packed rollercoaster ride than the original, Aliens won two special effects Oscars and earned Weaver a nomination for Best Actress as well as nods for set and art decoration, sound, film editing, and James Horner’s musical score.

Simon Ward also authored the behind the scenes look at the Independence Day films reviewed here at borg.com last month.  We discussed the creation of this book at Kansas City Comic Con this weekend with film co-star Carrie Henn, who played Newt, the only survivor discovered by Ripley (Sigourney Weaver) and the marines.

Paxton Aliens

Henn told us that this book had been in the works for a few years.  She provided the foreword and much of the commentary for what amounts to a photo scrapbook of behind-the-scenes stills.  She also provides some surprisingly thorough recollections of stage direction from director Cameron and mentoring from Sigourney Weaver, who appeared as a larger-than-life heroine to the nine-year-old actress.  Her comments are also full of humorous anecdotes and reflect the care taken by the filmmakers to make certain the little girl wasn’t terrified by Stan Winston’s alien creations.

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Rogue One gif image

By now everyone who has ever been a Star Wars fan must be excited for Rogue One: A Star Wars Story.  Other than its odd title (why not just go with Rogue One?), last week’s trailer cinched it.  Finally, an exciting Star Wars story is on our way steeped in that gritty detail and aura that made all our jaws drop back for the first time back in 1977.  Check out that trailer if you missed it last week here at borg.com.

Then we caught wind of another trailer Monday.  We won’t trick you into thinking it’s a Lucasfilm trailer.  It’s not.  But it plays into all sorts of pop culture fun, especially if you’re a Star Trek fan and you’re a fan of J.J. Abrams’ direction of the first two Star Trek reboot films and Star Wars: The Force Awakens.  If you don’t know it already, Abrams is a fan of The Beastie Boys, and he used the band’s song “Sabotage” to show just how cocky and cool his young Jim Kirk was in Star Trek (2009).

Vader in Rogue One

Abrams even used “Sabotage” as the background music for his first trailer for Star Trek Beyond, released near the premiere of Star Trek: The Force Awakens back in December 2015.  Here is that trailer if you missed it:

We’ll stop for a second for anyone who hasn’t seen Star Trek Beyond, this summer’s biggest blockbuster so far Spoilers ahead, so consider yourself warned.  But if you choose to read on be prepared for what we think is one of the best fan-edited trailers on the Web.

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KCCC 2016 Mystique and Beast    KCCC 2016 Predators and Liv Moore

The third day of Kansas City Comic Con wrapped with attendees making last-minute purchases, obtaining remaining autographs and photos with celebrities and cosplayers, and picking up sketches and comic books from the hundreds of creators on site throughout the weekend.  No doubt the weekend was a success for vendors, and visitors had a great time.

And as promised yesterday, we have more photos from the weekend.

It wouldn’t be a Kansas City Con without a merry duo of those Nausicaan cousins, the Predators.  As with prior years Elizabeth C. Bunce (above) hunted them down, this time as iZombie’s Liv Moore (seriously, this keeps happening–check this out).

What makes for great cosplay?  Surprises.  Characters that are classic or iconic that you’ve never seen before are a real treat.  Like this spot-on Beetlejuice cosplay–Wynona Ryder’s Lydia Deetz:

KCCC 2016 Beetlejuice and Liv Moore cosplay    KCCC 2016 Joker and Liv Moore cosplay

Superb!  And while we’re in 1980s mode, wait ’til you get a load of this:  We spotted the very best Joker cosplay we’d ever seen, Jack Nicholson’s Joker from the 1989 Batman movie (above).

The rest of the cosplay we singled out mainly followed the superhero genre.  Like the dynamic indigo X-Men duo pictured under the headline above.  We’ve seen Mystiques before but this was the best constructed outfit and Beast’s make-up was excellent.

We saw two great Wonder Woman outfits, first from the new movies and then a classic comic book variant:

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KCCC 2016 X-Wing pilot and Luke

Kansas City Comic Con 2016 kicked into high gear today at the Kansas City Convention center at Bartle Hall.  Probably the largest assemblages of writers and artists in the region, literally several hundred with tables on display, are coming back once again today to share their work with fans.  The big themes this year seemed to be 101 fun variants of Deadpool, Suicide Squad Harley Quinns walked every aisle with the classic version sadly absent, some great Wonder Woman cosplay creations, and Star Wars was alive and well.  I can’t wait to see what cosplay comes after Rogue One is released in December.  I’ve seen plenty of professionally crafted costumes of Rebel pilots but the above X-Wing fighter pilot from The Empire Strikes Back was the best I’ve seen, built by the cosplayer’s older brother.  Below are more photos with Star Wars cosplayers–come back tomorrow as we round out even more great cosplay we saw this year at the show.

On a personal note, I had a one-of-a-kind day today walking the floor as Luke Skywalker with his pal R2-D2, a fully-functional radio-controlled droid perfectly re-created by Chris Rice from the KC R2 builders group.  There was no doubt about the joy brought to Star Wars fans young and old as we walked the floor and stopped for photos.  It was among the most photos and hugs I’ve been apart of since cosplaying in Kansas City and a great feeling to spread around and share with others, from little kids wanting to hug R2 to adults wanting to share in a photo.  What a strange thing to get home and learn of Kenny Baker’s passing away at 81.  Elizabeth and I were lucky to meet him and his wife years ago.  What we all shared today at KCCC was a real tribute to Mr. Baker and the character he helped to create and the enduring legacy of Star Wars.

KCCC 2016 Castle Creations and Luke

With Padme, Leia, Mara Jade and Obi-Wan from Another Castle Creations.

KCCC 2016 Luke and Rey

Luke and Rey–are they related? We won’t find out until 2018. What a great Rey!

We also caught up with friends and met some celebrities…

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