Category: Movies


colossal-creature

Many think kaiju movies–Asian giant monster flicks featuring Godzilla, Mothra, and the like–are comedic in their own right.  Right or wrong, at some point a worldwide disaster apparently brings along its own laughs.  Melodramas, rampaging monsters, usually devoid of a solid plot, kaiju still claims millions of loyal members in its fan base.

A new U.S. film with the look of a J.J. Abrams Cloverfield production or even Attack the Block is coming your way in 2017.  Colossal, screening at the Sundance Film Festival this weekend, is a monster movie, but probably more of a parody of the giant beasty films.  It’s close enough that the company owning the right to the actual Godzilla movies sued the filmmakers of Colossal during production (a confidential settlement was reached in 2015).  Academy Award-winning actress Anne Hathaway stars as a rather ordinary woman who happens to have a psychic connection with a giant monster ripping apart the streets of Seoul, South Korea.

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Is there an audience for a Godzilla meets Being John Malkovich mash-up?

Take a look at this trailer for Colossal:

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x-men-read-x-men

In 2029, real X-Men read Marvel’s X-Men comic books.

Old Man Logan is one of those great comic book ideas that surprisingly took such a long time to come around.  It would be like seeing Arnold Schwarzenegger come back in Conan the Conqueror to play an elder King Conan, a film that always seems in the works but never quite in a moving-forward state.  In the X-Men movies it means Hugh Jackman in the big-screen release Logan, supposedly his last of nine films portraying the steely clawed X-Man, providing a rare chance for an actor to complete a character study 17 years in the making.  We’re NOT looking forward to anyone else being cast in this role down the road.  The first trailer (previewed earlier here) gave us a moody, grim look at Logan backed by Johnny Cash.  The final trailer released this week gives more hope for the future, with a little Jim Croce thrown in.

The final trailer reveals more than what we thought the studio would reveal in advance of the film:  2017’s leading contender for kick-ass superheroine… the little girl comic book readers know as cyborg X-23 (Laura, played by Dafne Keen) taking off her kid gloves and opening up her X-Men powers on some bad guys.  Hugh Jackman is the wise guardian we all need, and his own 90-year-old guardian and mentor Professor Charles Xavier (Patrick Stewart) is along for the ride, bringing that additional, personal dimension to the story.  The other universe of Marvel films outside the “Marvel Cinematic Universe” has been well-established to bounce around in parallel worlds and has resulted in the most satisfying movies in the superhero genre, particularly with the spectacular X-Men: Days of Future Past.  This film takes us about five years after that film’s epilogue.

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This new trailer features a comic book on-screen for the first time in the X-Men universe, and comic book creators are featured in a new and unique way.  Comic book artist Joe Quesada drew the pages with ink work done by Dan Panosian (see above).  Comic book creator Gabriel Hardman created the storyboards for the film.

Check out this final trailer, first the U.S. version followed by the international version:

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pena-shepard Warner Bros. has finally released the first trailer to the comedy reboot of the classic 1977-1983 television series CHiPs.  The original drama series, starring the suave Erik Estrada and Larry Wilcox as California Highway Patrol officers Ponch and Jon, didn’t have the comedy you’re going to see in this reboot.  No, this is an all-out, Rated R, Deadpool-level humor comedy.  Think the movie remake of 21 Jump Street and you’ll get the vibe.

And it’s so, so wrong.

But it also looks like it could be pretty funny, if you’re not bothered by wall-to-wall crotch jokes.  The big win is Ant-Man’s Michael Peña as an undercover FBI agent pretending to be Ponch.  Hollywood is finally recognizing Peña as a charismatic rising star.  Comedic actor Dax Shepard is Jon, and real-life wife Kristen Bell (Veronica Mars) also plays his wife in CHiPs.  The couple is most recognizable these days from their long-running series of Samsung appliance commercials.  Shepard wrote and directed the movie.

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The film is peppered with actors you might find in serious police procedurals, which should lend something weighty to the humor.  They include Isiah Whitlock, Jr. (Law & Order, The Wire), Vincent D’Onofrio (Emerald City, Law & Order: Criminal Intent, Men in Black), Richard T. Jones (Judging Amy, Godzilla, Super 8, Hot Pursuit), Wilmer Valderrama (Awake, That ’70s Show), and Jane Kaczmarek (St. Elsewhere, Law & Order).

Check out this first trailer for Dax Shepard’s CHiPs:

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funko-playmobil

It has been nearly a year since we first reported here at borg.com on images from Toy Fair 2016 of Funko’s prototype Playmobil figures, a result of a new partnership of the toy companies that allows Funko to produce licensed Playmobil figures never before released.  The figures will not be the traditional size that is playable with the thousands of Playmobil playsets released over the past four decades, but a larger, double-sized six-inch tall figure.

Although initial projections indicated these figures would be released last summer, finally online toy dealer Entertainment Earth is now taking pre-orders for the first series of these figures, which include characters from Back to the Future, Doctor Who, Ghostbusters, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, and Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory.  You can also order a figure of Raphael from Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, available exclusively through Entertainment Earth.

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All have great sculpts and sport appropriate hats, scarves, sonic screwdrivers, proton packs, gauntlets, and other accessories.  Click on any of the images (above and after the cut) to learn more and pre-order your favorites from Entertainment Earth:

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emma-watson-beauty-and-the-beast

Will it be #1 at the box office in 2017?

Previewed last year here at borg.com and teased even earlier here, the live-action version of Beauty and the Beast, starring the Harry Potter series’ Emma Watson as Belle, is on its way to theaters this year.  Disney just released a new television spot and theatrical poster showcasing leads Watson and Dan Stevens and the all-star cast.  You can’t understate how significant this film will be for Disney this year at the box office, with the potential to rival both Rogue One: A Star Wars Story and Star Wars: Episode VIII, based on early responses to the first release of images from the film.

An Academy Award nominee for Best Picture, Disney’s animated Beauty and the Beast is arguably the finest Disney production to come from the studio in its more than ninety year history, and no actress today has such a large and devoted fan following as Watson.  More than 20 million viewers saw the first teaser, and nearly 30 million viewers watched the first trailer.  Watson’s first major genre role since Harry Potter will make this a big box office winner for Disney.

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This is the first time audiences get to see Watson singing as Belle.  She evokes Julie Andrews in a very The Sound of Music-inspired setting.  Here is the new trailer for Beauty and the Beast:

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artr1

Review by C.J. Bunce

What many don’t realize about movie concept art books is that, from the best of them, you can learn more about the filmmaking design process from the accompanying text than from the images selected.  Make no mistake–The Art of Rogue One: A Star Wars Story is chock full of many stages of concept artwork.  But what unfolds over its more than 250 pages is a rare peek behind the scenes at director Gareth Edwards, Lucasfilm executives, and the art design team as they figured out what story to tell in Rogue One: A Star Wars Story.

We learned last year in Roger Christian’s Cinema Alchemist: Designing Star Wars and Alien (reviewed here at borg.com), that George Lucas knew immediately he wanted to create the look of Star Wars as a sort of documentary, a historical account of a long ago event.  To that end he tapped Christian to create environments made from real world components.  As explained in The Art of Rogue One, director Gareth Edwards knew he needed to emulate that style of filmmaking and overall look, and his route was using a readily available team of concept artists to create the visuals of Rogue One from day one, even partnering with artists to create the ideas for the film’s story elements in advance of a completed story.  These elements included featuring a female lead, a rebel strike squad like that in Force 10 from Navarone, a key droid team member, a battle reflective of Vietnam, a battle reflective of Paris during World War II, and a dark planet for the home of Darth Vader.  Edwards wanted to create an echo of Luke Skywalker’s hero–who wished he could join the far away war–with Jyn Erso, a heroine raised in a life of war who only wished to escape it.  The proof of the efficacy of Edwards’ process is in the result.  Has Edwards begun a new way of making movies, and will future filmmakers take this tack?

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“I look at Star Wars as a real historical event that took place in the universe, and George Lucas was there with his crew to capture it.  And now we’re there with our cameras and our crew, filming as it passed through us,” Edwards says in Abrams Books’ latest film art book, The Art of Rogue One.  “When you look like you’ve come in with a plan, it can feel too prescribed and a bit false–but when it looks like you’re capturing the images, like you’re watching them unfold in real time, it just feels more real.  I’m always trying to find that little thing that knocks you off your path–the idea or the ingredient that we didn’t come in trying to create, the curveball that makes the story feel unique.” Edwards directive was similarly unique:  How the artists remembered the images of seeing Star Wars for the first time became a more important focus than copying the look of the environments exactly from the original Star Wars source material.

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hell-or-high-water

Review by C.J. Bunce

For fans of the traditional Western, Hell or High Water is a Western in name only.  Sure, it has the hallmarks:  Frank and Jesse James-inspired bank robbers, it takes place in a Western enough locale, and there’s plenty of cowboy hats and even horses and cattle.  But it’s something very different, and reviewers calling it a Western are setting the wrong expectations.  Yes, it’s closer to Clint Eastwood’s Unforgiven than your typical fare, but not that close.  A nontraditional Western?  Barely, maybe.  Better described it’s a drama in Western dress.  It’s also a look at a place and time: West Texas, today.  Which makes it in other ways a West Texas version of the Coen Brothers’ Fargo.  You’ll see plenty of life reflected with a Texas cultural twist.  Good and bad.  Strangely enough, if life is indeed reflected in the cinema each year, Hell or High Water is the best reflection of America to hit theaters in 2016.

In addition to the perfect Western title, Hell or High Water has the perfect imperfect hangman sheriff in its Ranger Marcus Hamilton, played by Jeff Bridges in what is yet another brilliant supporting character role.  If he hadn’t landed the Oscar for True Grit, he’d have it for this.  Bridges plays another crotchety old man, he’s days from retirement, and all soaked in his own blissful ignorance of his racism, much like Clint Eastwood’s old man in Gran Torino and Eastwood’s own take on the Texas Ranger in pursuit in the 1993 “modern Western” A Perfect World.  Bridges’ partner is the put-upon Comanche Ranger Alberto Parker, played by Gil Birmingham, an actor of actual Comanche lineage who has guest starred on numerous genre classic series including Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Charmed, Veronica Mars, Castle, and even Riptide.  At times Birmingham gets his Oscar-worthy moments, too, especially when he fires back at Hamilton with equally biting quips.

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The Rangers are hunting down two brothers, played by Star Trek and Wonder Woman’s Chris Pine and 3:10 to Yuma and X: Men: The Last Stand’s Ben Foster, who have a strange plan to rob a Midland Texas chain of banks because they learned the banks’ network of video recording hardware is being updated, with the added bonus of being able to launder the money through an Oklahoma casino.  The movie trailers laid out every aspect of the plot–why they need the money–more concisely than its laid out in the film, but the film is really part character study of the brothers, part indictment of the banking system, and the destruction of the family unit, and everything else wrong in the world.  To that end this is a typical drama, but it has its moments, including a quality bank robber story.

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emerald-city

The Wizard of Oz–whether or not you may be a fan of L. Frank Baum’s classic book or one of the best fantasy films of all time, you may want to tune in for a new NBC series airing Friday nights this winter.  Featuring well-known actors Joely Richardson and Vincent D’Onofrio, Emerald City stars Adria Arjona as twenty-year-old Dorothy Gale, who is sucked into a tornado and transported to the otherworldly Land of Oz.  D’Onofrio plays the famous Man Behind the Curtain who runs Oz.

But don’t expect the bright and cheery world of the 1939 production or something like you’d see from Disney.  Look for a dark world in this modern-day retelling.  It’s gritty and somewhat dystopian as seen in the first trailer for the series, below.

Oliver Jackson-Cohen, Ana Ularu, Mido Hamada, Gerran Howell and Jordan Loughran co-star in the series.  Series writers and executive producers include Shaun Cassidy, David Schulner, Tarsem Singh Dhandwar, Matthew Arnold, and Josh Friedman.  Dhandwar directs the series.

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Star Wars fans take note: Trisha Biggar, costume designer for the prequels and featured in the landmark book Dressing a Galaxy: The Costumes of Star Wars, has created the costumes for the series.  Keep Padme Amidala in mind when watching the wardrobes of the various featured witches.

Check out this preview for Emerald City followed by several character posters released by Universal to promote the series:

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borg-label hall-of-fame-label

Masters of the Universe.  Red Dwarf.  Mortal Kombat.  And we revisit Marvel, Star Wars, and Star Trek.

Let’s start this year’s borg.com Hall of Fame ceremony by talking a little about who is NOT in the Hall of Fame who might come close if borgs were more loosely defined.  We still haven’t included the non-organic: like automatons, androids, or robots.  Think Lt. Commander Data from Star Trek: The Next Generation before he met the queen in Star Trek: First Contact–despite his perfectly life-like appearance.  For the bulk of the series Data was always an android, not a cyborg.  He’s just a highly advanced C-3PO–until First Contact. 

Droids from Star Wars, Gort from The Day the Earth Stood Still, Robot B-9 from Lost in Space or Robby the Robot in Forbidden Planet, the Autobots and Decepticons of Transformers, the police force of THX-1138, Box in Logan’s Run, the perfectly human appearing kid-like star of D.A.R.Y.L., the several automatons of episode after episode of The Twilight Zone, Beta in The Last Starfighter, Tron and Flynn and the other microscopic, human-like bits of data in Tron, Hellboy II’s Golden Army, the future Iowa Highway Patrolman in Star Trek 2009 (we assume he’s just wearing some police safety mask), Rosie the maid in The Jetsons, Hogey the Roguey from Red Dwarf, Marvin the Android in The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, X-Men’s Sentinels, Lal and Juliana Tainer from Star Trek: The Next Generation, the title character of CHAPPiE, or Iron Giant, despite their human-like or bipedal nature, none are actual borgs because they lack biological matter, living cells, or the like.

The same applies for the robotic hosts in Westworld–Michael Crichton’s original was clear these were merely automaton robots and we’ve seen nothing from 2016’s HBO series to show that has changed (even the NY Times got it wrong).  Which explains why The Stepford Wives aren’t on the list, or Fembots, either from The Bionic Woman or the Austin Powers series, or the Buffybot in Buffy the Vampire Slayer.

So who’s in?

Here is Round 4, the twenty-eight 2016 borg.com Hall of Fame honorees, in no particular order, some from 2016 and others from the past, bringing the roster count to 134 individuals and groups:

First up is Time, yep… Time itself.  From Alice Through the Looking Glass, a powerful Father Time-esque human/clockwork hybrid who rules over Underland–

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From George Lucas’s original Force-wielding character as envisioned by Mike Mayhew: Kane Starkiller from Marvel Comics’ alternate universe story, The Star Wars:

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The Major, from 2017’s Ghost in the Shell:

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Max Steel got his own movie in 2016:

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Steel hails from the Mattel action figure who received multiple super powers due to an accidental infusion of nanobots:

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Cave Carson from the update of the classic DC Comics comic book series spelunker, the new series Cave Carson has a Cybernetic Eye:

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Although he was a charter member of the borg.com Hall of Fame, Darth Vader returned in Rogue One, providing some new images of the classic borg:

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More of our inductees, after the cut…

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jaylah-action

What better way to celebrate the strong, determined leader Leia Organa made famous by actress Carrie Fisher than to celebrate her legacy in the genre heroines of today?  What do most of the characters on this year’s list of Best Kick-Ass Genre Heroines have in common?  Most have roles that could easily be swapped with a male.  Sure, you can have heroine characters who are written to largely rely on traditional female qualities, but women characters bending gender roles are breaking new grounds.  We met characters this year who were held back in their place in time by their status as women, and it is often that role that prompts them to gain the fire and passion necessary to become the heroine of their stories.  So we have both a dress-wearing, well-read 19th century Jane Austen character on our list, but also a space-faring criminal in combat boots, a sea captain, an alien survivor, an alien visitor, a warrior, a sorcerer, a group of clones, a gunslinger, two cops, a zombie, and a supernatural assassin.

In past years we were able to select our Best Kick-Ass Genre Movie Heroine and Best Kick-Ass Genre TV Heroine, but this year the studios gave us more to cheer about than ever, and instead of ranking them we’re highlighting the very best from an unprecedented slate of heroines, with characteristics to learn from and emulate.  Determined, decisive, loyal, brave, smart, fierce, strong.  You’ll find no one here timid or weepy, but all rely on their individual skills to beat the odds and overcome any obstacle that comes their way.  Some may be frazzled, put-upon, war-weary, very human, resulting from trying circumstances, personal losses, and even death of friends and family.  But they all mustered up the strength to rise above it all.  These are the Best Kick-Ass Genre Heroines of 2016:

Sara Huntsman

Sara (The Huntsman: Winter’s War).  Heroines can be medieval or fairy tale warriors, a trained Huntsman quick with a bow and arrow or two-handed swordplay.  Jessica Chastain’s Sara was never seen in Snow White and the Huntsman, but we quickly learned why Chris Hemsworth’s Eric was filled with despair when learning of her supposed death.  A loyal warrior to her queen, she must decide whether to join her excommunicated secret husband against the forces of evil or stand with Queen Freya and her manipulative sister.  A powerhouse trio of actresses, Chastain’s Sara rises above them all opposite Emily Blunt and Charlize Theron in this great fantasy film.

Lily James and Bella Heathcote in Screen Gems' PRIDE AND PREJUDICE AND ZOMBIES.

Elizabeth Bennet (Pride and Prejudice and Zombies).  You already know Elizabeth Bennet as the eldest sister in the classic Jane Austen novel Pride and Prejudice.  An obnoxious mother harassing her, unlikely prospects for marriage, and an oppressive society with little opportunity to make her own choices.  Readers finally get to witness how the classic character might react when given opportunity–opportunity to learn Eastern mysticism and Japanese martial arts, and a role where she and her sisters and friends can fully defend their family and home from a zombie onslaught.  Lily James couples lacy dresses, Regency manners, and in-your-face, Quentin Tarentino-inspired kicks, with classic swordplay–and bloody beheadings.  If a war is coming, you want the likes of Elizabeth Bennet on your side of the battle lines.

After the cut, we reveal the rest of our list…

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