Category: Movies


Review by C.J. Bunce

If you’ve been watching Michael Apted’s ground-breaking Up Series from its first installments, you know each new chapter in the real-life time travel journey makes the viewer feel like he or she has also reached some kind of achievement with the arrival of the new episode.  But the series of documentaries is not for the faint-hearted, filled with gut-wrenching views into participants’ lives, participants who feel like family after watching them over 56 years since their first appearance.  So compelling and personal is Apted’s look at this select group of fourteen English boys and girls turned men and women, revisiting them every seven years of their lives since 1964, the documentary series is practically an interactive experience.  With Apted passing away since the UK premiere last year, and the U.S. arrival of the latest installment–the eagerly awaited 63 Up arriving on BritBox via Amazon Prime this weekend–the question is whether this ninth installment is the last.  Key members of the crew since 28 Up have expressed an interest in continuing the series in 2027, but until then expect this to be a bittersweet end for the series, which Roger Ebert called the noblest project in cinema history and among the ten best films ever made.

At last Apted addresses the thesis of the show to each participant, “Give me a child until he is seven and I will give you the man,” and asks whether they agree after decades participating in this unique social experiment.  Apted was a researcher when working on director Paul Almond’s Seven Up! in 1964.  Seven years later the well-known director of Gorillas in the Mist, The World is Not Enough, Coal Miner’s Daughter and Gorky Park, was just out of university, and at 22 he revisited the original Seven Up! project.  He would go on to direct the subsequent eight episodes over 56 years.  The idea was to get a glimpse of England in the future year 2000 when these kids, the future leaders of England, were only seven years old.  It is difficult to surpass the jolts and surprises of 42 Up, but 63 Up holds its own, although sadly viewers will say goodbye to one participant who has died, another is seriously ill, and another decided not to participate.

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Back in 2016 we looked at a curiosity of television history with the animation of the lost Doctor Who episode, The Power of the Daleks.  In the 1960s it was not unheard of that television stations did not retain footage of television series.  Film reels were thrown out instead of storing shows for archival purposes as we do today.  The greatest volume from one series is probably from the BBC in the UK with Doctor Who, where nearly 100 episodes were lost.  But thanks to fans recording the audio of the shows at home, plus film stills and the odd “found footage,” the stories themselves remain.  In the case of The Power of the Daleks, the BBC decided to animate the tale and distribute it for a new generation of Doctor Who fans.  Although the UK got to preview it last summer, the six episodes of the next animated lost Doctor Who story, Fury from the Deep, will be premiering to American viewers Monday, March 15, on AMC+ and Sunday, March 21, on BBC America.  It’s notable as the last of the lost BBC Doctor Who stories, and the original episode was the first time audiences ever got to see the Doctor’s trusty sonic screwdriver, which would become as iconic to the franchise as the Doctor and the TARDIS.

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Review by C.J. Bunce

Last year Titan Comics took fans of the Blade Runner movie franchise back to the future with the comic book series Blade Runner 2019 (reviewed here at borg).  Both the sequel to Ridley Scott’s Blade Runner and prequel to Blade Runner 2049, the series expanded the franchise based on characters and settings created by Philip K. Dick.  Then the series went back 20 years before the theatrical sequel in Blade Runner 2029 Now for the first time writers K. Perkins, Mellow Brown, and Mike Johnson, and artists Fernando Dagnino and Marco Lesko are taking the entire franchise–the canon stories and timeline–back before the original Ridley Scott movie in the series Blade Runner Origins Dick’s universe is one of borgs called Replicants and those who hunt them, called Blade Runners.  This is the story of the first Blade Runner, and we assume we’ll see another prequel one day about the creation of the first Replicants.

   

Check out our sneak preview of artwork from Issue #1 of Blade Runner Origins and 18 series variant covers below.

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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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Since Tom Clancy’s death in 2013 we’ve seen his Jack “Ryanverse” come to the screen twice, first on the big screen in Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit (2014) with Chris Pine as Ryan, and later on the small screen in Tom Clancy’s Jack Ryan (2018) on Amazon Prime with The Office’s John Krasinski stepping into the role of Ryan previously handled by Alec Baldwin in The Hunt for Red October (1990), Harrison Ford in Patriot Games (1992) and Clear and Present Danger (1994), and Ben Affleck in The Sum of All Fears (2002).  In Clear and Present Danger, the second major Ryanverse character arrived in Willem Dafoe’s John Clark, later reprised by Liev Schreiber in The Sum of All Fears.  As was first done with Ryan in The Sum of All Fears, and later with Pine and Krasinski, the franchise is taking another step back in into the Clancy timeline for the next movie–a prequel, a direct-to-Amazon Prime feature adapting Clancy’s 1993 novel Without Remorse.  That book and its new movie adaptation Without Remorse focuses on the origin of the John Clark character (initially introduced as John Kelly, as explained in the novel/movie), this time played by Creed and Black Panther’s Michael B. Jordan.  Check out the trailer for the movie below.

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Every new technological creation seems to eventually arrive at a point where you can buy it at 99 percent off its original price.  It’s the classic 99% off sale.  And while it’s not true for everything, we can see it in many ways across the decades.  Look at something like the simple calculator, once a giant machine costing thousands of dollars, ultimately it came down in price (and size) to fit in your wallet as a free giveaway as businesses all over stamped an advertisement on the back as a marketing tool.  Today it’s a free feature on nearly every personal computer and android phone.  In the 1990s Connie Willis focused on the emerging technology of animating dead people in films in her groundbreaking novel Remake (discussed here at borg back in 2012).  It happened and it’s only getting better.  As recently as December Star Wars fans saw Mark Hamill reprise a young Luke Skywalker via imaging software in The Mandalorian, and probably the best use so far can be found by the de-aging of Michael Douglas in the Ant-Man movies. 

In basements (and governments?) across the world software designers and users dabble in “deep fake” imaging, attempting to push this technology to defraud (or prevent the defrauding of) others by digitally replacing faces in all kinds of video recordings.  Imagine making such video images by uploading a static image and simply pressing a button.  Guess what?  Now anyone can.  Look to an unlikely source to visit the future, thanks to a genealogy company’s new software program that costs its subscribers… nothing.  Quietly slipping in its own add-on free to its pay subscribers, a surprisingly good “artificial intelligence” turns any photograph into a short animation.  Yes, you, too, can re-animate the dead, maybe not as Mary Shelley envisioned more than 200 years ago, but take a look for yourself…

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As previewed in the superhero crossover Marvel vs. Aliens covers, a new Alien series begins next month under the Marvel Comics label, and it’s going to arrive with a first issue full of variant editions.  The best news?  You’ll meet a new Jonesy-inspired cat aboard the ship, this time a black cat, likely to blend in the shadows.  So let’s see Marvel’s take on the franchise–below check out an inside look at the new franchise cat, a dozen Alien series covers, and a shiny tie-in comic storage box available at comic shops.  And in case you missed the Marvel vs. Aliens covers, we’ve included the 22 covers Marvel is rolling out, too.

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You may have thought Age of Resistance was only the subtitle of The Dark Crystal television series, but no.  It’s a new identifier for the third Star Wars trilogy, and those films are part of a new behind-the-scenes book arriving in two weeks.  Star Wars: Age of Resistance–The Official Collector’s Edition, available in hardcover and trade paperback editions, the book for the first time chronicles all three films in the final Star Wars trilogy: The Force Awakens, The Last Jedi, and The Rise of Skywalker.  Beginning with a 17-page timeline of the entire nine-film Star Wars Skywalker saga, the book showcases photographs and behind the scenes concept artwork, schematics, costume designs, and close-up images of props.  Executive producer and director J.J. Abrams, key production personnel, art and effects department creators, and stars Daisy Ridley, Adam Driver, John Boyega, Oscar Isaac, and Joonas Suotamo–and more–dig into their characters, discussing key scenes, and the importance of each film to the entire Skywalker family story.

Here’s a first look inside the book, plus three variant edition covers, courtesy of publisher Titan:

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It’s been more than 18 years since we first met Mal Reynolds and his (usually) loyal crew of the Firefly class ship Serenity.  Fans of the Firefly series and 2005 film Serenity, will never stop loving their travels around the ‘Verse, and are always looking for more adventures and tie-ins.  The next will be a celebration of artwork in the pages of Firefly Artbook: A Visual Celebration.  We’ve taken a look at multi-artist tribute concept books before at borg, including the excellent Alien: 40 Years/40 Artists, The Thing Artbook, Star Trek: 50 Artists/50 Years, and The Mike Wieringo Tellos Tribute.  Any time we showcase a major benchmark in comic book titles, like Detective Comics 1000th issue, Wonder Woman’s 750th issue, and The Amazing Spider-Man Issue #800, or charity projects like the Wonder Woman 100 showcase, we see a great new spin on favorite characters from a new vantage: a variety of artists interpreting an icon of popular culture.  In Firefly Artbook: A Visual Celebration, Browncoats everywhere will get to see the next artists’ interpretations.  The new tribute arrives in March, but you can pre-order a copy now here at Amazon, and check out a preview below:

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It’s a question that goes back to Doom, if not before:  Why make movie adaptations of video games?  Easy answer:  “Why not?”  Or “easy money.”  So why are so many so lackluster, in story, and often in production values?  The triumphs mark the exceptions, from Tron and Tron: Legacy to the Resident Evil series, and a fine enough effort by Angelina Jolie and Alicia Vikander in two efforts to get a Tomb Raider film series to take hold, for starters.  Then there’s Assassin’s Creed, Warcraft, Street Fighter, Wing Commander, and worse (at least Prince of Persia: Sands of Time had some fun in it).  Often listed among the worst of them all is 1995’s Mortal Kombat, a film that couldn’t be saved even by casting Cary Hiroyuki-Tagawa as the charismatic villain or casting an ex-Bond girl (Talisa Soto).  It’s those same characters and apparently plot that will get a retry this spring with the big-screen reboot Mortal KombatHowever this movie features leads of the stellar martial arts marvels The Night Comes for Us and Wu Assassins, and the special effects are light years ahead of the prior films.  Check out the first trailer for the movie below.

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