Review by C.J. Bunce
A diehard science fiction moviegoer will probably find nothing new in last year’s nominee for eight Academy Awards, including Best Picture, Arrival. Nearly every minute of the film can be seen in countless episodes of science fiction television. But it is the next drama cloaked in science fiction dress, trying to one-up Interstellar, Gravity, and Contact. Following the Michael Crichton stylebook, Arrival gives us a problem (terrifying, giant squid-like, alien monsters referred to as heptapods we cannot yet understand) and brings in a team of experts to work to solve that problem. The experts are linguist Dr. Louise Banks, played by Amy Adams, and physicist Dr. Ian Donnelly, played by Jeremy Renner. And that’s all–no other brilliant scientists play any role. From a storytelling angle this allows more of a focus on the two characters, primarily Banks, but it also defies belief that one of twelve Earth-visiting space monolith ships is in the U.S. and only a M*A*S*H unit full of people are there to find the solution. Those that are present are canned, stupid government wonks, including an intermediary military officer played by Forest Whitaker and others who shout a lot and want to bomb the aliens. It all makes you want to cheer for the aliens.
To its credit Arrival deals head on with what is surprisingly one of the least pursued tropes in science fiction: communication with the aliens.
Every major sci-fi franchise tells us these aliens will be humanoid, but what if they aren’t? Actually communicating with other beings once we have that first alien encounter has been seen from time to time, the best in the Star Trek: The Next Generation episode Darmok. And who can forget those musical notes of Close Encounters of the Third Kind? Most of Star Trek, and other sci-fi, circumvents the communication issue with the story device of a universal translator or the equivalent, so the conflict of Arrival is refreshing. Unfortunately the pursuit of the problem in Arrival could have been more interesting and compelling. Instead the filmmakers made the choice to break away frequently, delving back and forth into an emotional character study.
Never been to a comic book or pop culture convention before? Always wanted to go to San Diego Comic-Con but you don’t have the vacation time available or the funds? Planet Comicon is next weekend in Kansas City and although it isn’t as big as SDCC, it is a great way to get a complete three-day convention experience centrally located in the Midwest, ideal for a last-minute road trip for the family or a car full of friends. It’s less than 8 hours by car from Dallas, less than 7 hours from Minneapolis, a little more than 7 hours from Indianapolis, and a little more than 8 hours from Denver. And you don’t need to buy advance tickets–you can purchase them at the door.
So why make the trip? How about meeting Jason Isaacs, the latest captain of a Star Trek television series and star of the Harry Potter movies (and great TV roles)? Want to compare notes on Doctor Who companions with Catherine Tate (in her first U.S. convention appearance) and Billie Piper? Want to talk Arrow and Torchwood with John Barrowman, or have another chance to meet Arrow star Stephen Amell? Are you a Hellboy and Star Trek fan and haven’t yet met Ron Perlman? It’s the Star Wars 40th anniversary–how about meeting the newest actor to portray Darth Vader, Rogue One: A Star Wars Story actor Spencer Wilding?
Are you a Browncoat? Firefly’s Summer Glau is scheduled to attend, and Supernatural’s Jim Beaver. Do you want to talk 20 years of Buffy the Vampire Slayer with Emma Caulfield? Are you a fan of Lost Girl and need to get your fae fix with Anna Silk, Rachel Skarsten, Zoie Palmer, and Emmanuelle Vaugier?
Want to buy comics, books, or sketches from some of the best creators from across the country, like one of the all-time greats, Howard Chaykin, or Timothy Zahn, creator of the new novel Thrawn? Click here to see everyone you can meet at Artist Alley. Do you collect busts of superheroes and are missing some key characters? Check out thousands of square feet of dealers selling everything from action figures to T-shirts to limited edition prints and toy lightsabers. Whatever you collect, crazy or not, if it’s related to TV, movies or comics you’ll likely find something there. And that’s just part of your day. There will also be panels, and cosplay is always a highlight of the show.
A cyborg bowler or The Cyborg Who Love Me?
The 2014 surprise hit Kingsman: The Secret Service showed the world what it would be like for Colin Firth–the not so secret man all women want to be with since his role in the 1995 costume drama mini-series Pride & Prejudice–to play James Bond (or someone pretty close). The secret British spy organization is coming back to theaters this year.
The sequel to Kingsman: The Secret Service, titled Kingsman: The Golden Circle, stars a top-notch cast including Colin Firth, Mark Strong, Jeff Bridges, Halle Berry, Taron Egerton, Channing Tatum, and Julianne Moore.
Check out this teaser for The Kingsman: The Golden Circle:
This summer Dynamite Entertainment is re-uniting the team of writer Andy Diggle (Detective Comics, Green Arrow, James Bond: Hammerhead) and artist Luca Casalanguida (James Bond: Hammerhead) to bring spy thriller genre fans the next chapter in its series of James Bond international espionage stories, James Bond: Kill Chain.
Dynamite describes the new story line:
When a counterespionage operation in Rotterdam goes catastrophically wrong, James Bond finds himself in the crosshairs of a plot to smash NATO. Someone is assassinating allied agents, and 007 is the next target in the kill chain. Having kept the peace for decades, the old alliance is collapsing, pitting MI6 against its former ally – the CIA!
Issue #1 of James Bond: Kill Chain will feature a selection of cover variants, with covers drawn by Greg Smallwood (Archie, Moon Knight), interior artist Casalanguida, and Juan Doe (Guardians of the Galaxy), among other variant options.
They only get one chance to save the galaxy…twice.
It was five years ago next month that theaters across the country hosted the mega-marathon of Marvel Studios movies leading up to the premiere of The Avengers, followed up two years ago this month by a massive eleven movie marathon of Marvel films. Last year saw a double feature of Captain America movies, and in two weeks Marvel fans will be able to join Peter Quill, Baby Groot, and the rest of the gang for a double feature of Guardians of the Galaxy and Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2.
The most unusual of all the Marvel superhero movies with its unlikely but epic outer space heroes, Guardians of the Galaxy was the surprise box office hit of 2014. The follow-up movie only has good buzz surrounding it. We’ve previewed several trailers for the film so far here and here at borg.com.
Select theaters will screen the first movie in RealD 3D on Thursday, May 4, 2017, at 4:30 p.m. local time, followed by the premiere of Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 at 7 p.m.
Happy Easter! Along with the Easter Bunny, how well do you know the famous rabbits of print and screen? We thought we’d dig in and see what we found and a few dozen surfaced that you probably know, maybe don’t know, or might want to know. Americans are raised knowing something about the Easter Bunny from year one. Are any of these other rabbits even more famous?
We had a hard time finding a photo of one famous movie rabbit. There he is–Harvey, from the 1950 movie co-starring Jimmy Stewart.
Everyone needs a painting in their home like that.
Since it’s Star Wars Celebration weekend, we won’t forget our favorite rogue rabbit, Jaxxon, from the Howard Chaykin and Roy Thomas 1970s Star Wars comic book series. (That’s him at the top of this article).
We discussed another comic book rabbit only yesterday here at borg.com, Stan Sakai’s samurai from Usagi Yojimbo.
Usagi is a rabbit you want on your side. But so is Judy Hopp. She’s one great cop.
She’s the star of last year’s Academy Award winner for Best Animated Film, Zootopia. And speaking of zoos, Judy would fit right in with this next guy.
That’s Captain Carrot, from Captain Carrot and his Amazing Zoo Crew!, the 1980s DC Comics series.
Who could be cuter than Thumper, the rabbit from the 1942 Disney movie, Bambi?
Breathe. Just breathe.
Straight from Star Wars Celebration 2017, Lucasfilm has released the first teaser trailer for Star Wars: The Last Jedi.
Luke, Leia, Rey, Finn, Poe, Kylo, BB-8. They’re all here. Plus, the first official poster for the film! At last, more Luke Skywalker!
Check it out now, the first trailer for Star Wars: The Last Jedi:
Perhaps it is in part because of the influence of Lucasfilm President Kathleen Kennedy, but it looks like finally, after decades of 100 male Star Wars action figures for every one female figure for kids to play with, times may be changing. It was sad for two generations of girls–and boys–that you could quickly list all the named women characters of Star Wars, both from the original trilogy: Leia, Aunt Beru, and Mon Mothma, and only a few more with the prequels: Padme, Shmi, Adi Gallia, Zam Wesell, Dorme–and Beru again–with even fewer made into toys that would allow kids to see themselves in Star Wars characters. Disney was surprisingly slow to integrate Daisy Ridley’s Rey into all the various toy lines early last year, but recent announcements indicate the franchise is trying to catch up. A new line of 11-inch format dolls from Hasbro looks to be a step in the right direction.
One of this weekend’s Star Wars Celebration 2017 announcements is Disney and Lucasfilm’s Forces of Destiny, a series of animated shorts highlighting the heroism of the women of Star Wars. Although it would seem adding the women of Star Wars to each of the other toy lines in the franchise also makes sense, Forces of Destiny attempts to bridge action figures and the traditional Barbie-type 11-inch doll. The release announcing the new doll line made clear that these toys aren’t about make-up, mirrors, and dresses. “Star Wars Forces of Destiny is for anyone who has been inspired by Leia’s heroism, Rey’s courage or Ahsoka’s tenacity,” said Kennedy.
The toy line is also taking a cue from a successful G.I. Joe toy series, calling the toys “Adventure Dolls,” which will feature hands that can hold weapons and feet that aren’t pointed like traditional dolls (that were intended to allow for high heels). The Forces of Destiny dolls will be anchored by a web series of animated features in July, followed by an eight-part series on the Disney Channel this Fall that will include the voices of the actual Star Wars film actresses, including Daisy Ridley (The Force Awakens’ Rey), Felicity Jones (Rogue One’s Jyn Erso), Tiya Sircar (Star Wars Rebels’ Sabine), Ashley Eckstein (Star Wars Rebels’ Ahsoka) with narration by Lupita Nyong’o (The Force Awakens’ Maz Kanata).
Here is a preview for the new Star Wars Forces of Destiny:
When you think of the Alien franchise, what iconic images come to mind? Sigourney Weaver’s Ellen Ripley in a giant power loader suit or going face-to-face with a Xenomorph? The first facehugger? Hicks, Hudson and Vasquez realizing they were facing something hopeless? Queen of sci-fi Veronica Cartwright’s scream at the first terrifying chest burst? Ridley holding Jonesy finally sighing with relief that they survived the alien onslaught? Dozens of these and other iconic images are packed into a new adult coloring book, Alien: The Coloring Book, coming this May from Titan Books.
The adult coloring book business is gaining steam with publishers taking extra efforts to see that the artwork inside meets the standard of the franchise. Alien: The Coloring Book has pulled together artwork that resembles the actors and key scenes from the movie, but also does so in a visually interesting manner and conforms to the whole point of these books: to give fans a chance to color their favorite scenes (in or outside the lines).
Creating scenes from all of the Alien movies featuring heroine Ellen Ripley are artists Leandro Casco, Wellington Diaz, Vinz El Tabanas, Salvador Navarro, Guilherme Raffide, Rubine, Vincenzo Zerov Salvo, Adriano Vicente, and Daniel Wichinson. Eighty pages provide Xenomorphs, chestbursters, Xenomorph eggs, your favorite characters, spacesuits, ships, Ridley Scott’s futuristic sets and H.R. Giger-inspired designs. One of the fun illustrations features Lance Henriksen’s cyborg Bishop playing mumbletypeg with the hand of Private Hudson (played by the late Bill Paxton).
In The Italian Job Charlize Theron played a tough and edgy thief. In Aeon Flux she was a decisive assassin. In Snow White and The Huntsman and The Huntsman: Winter’s War she was a ruthless, evil queen. In Mad Max: Fury Road she was a rebel road warrior. This year she adds another badass to her repertoire, an anti-hero named Lorraine Broughton, in the 1980s Cold War movie Atomic Blonde. Theron gets to play Jason Statham in any number of action films. Or the latest James Bond type. A bit Jack Reacher or John Wick. Or Van Damme in his heyday.
Bruce Willis and Chuck Norris, Steve McQueen and Clint Eastwood wish they had moves like Theron’s portrayal of a cold-blooded spy in this new action spy thriller from stunt man-turned-director David Leitch (John Wick, Dead Pool 2). The latest trailer reveals a stylish, gritty, crazy-fun flick that any fan of Theron will be after.
The latest movie to be based on a graphic novel, Atomic Blonde is from Antony Johnston’s 2012 book. A great supporting cast boasts John Goodman, James McAvoy, Eddie Marsan, Toby Jones, and another great actress taking Hollywood by storm: Star Trek Beyond and The Mummy’s Sofia Boutella.
Check out this trailer for Atomic Blonde: