Category: Retro Fix


It’s one of the greatest films ever made, a primer for creating the ultimate sci-fi and coming of age story.  Its sprawling opening scene features “Head Over Heels” by Tears for Fears, which sets the tone for the everywhere/every kid world view of the young star of the story, simply one of the best efforts by a director to incorporate a popular song into the fabric of a film.  25-year-old actor Drew Barrymore financed the film and served as executive producer, while creating one of the best versions of a (cool) school teacher to ever hit the screen.  And it was a springboard for Jake Gyllenhaal and Jena Malone’s careers and features the likes of Katharine Ross, Mary McDonnell, Noah Wyle, and Patrick Swayze, with a memorable villain played by Beth Grant.  The film is of course Donnie Darko, and it’s finally getting a deluxe edition worthy of director Richard Kelly’s movie masterpiece.  For its 20th anniversary the director and cinematographer Steven Poster oversaw a new 4K resolution restoration from the original negatives for the Donnie Darko Limited Edition UHD The two-disc Ultra HD Blu-ray box set contains the theatrical and director’s cut with the new 4K versions, plus some good Donnie Darko swag.

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Review by C.J. Bunce

In the early 1980s a segment of genre films was eclipsed by blockbusters like Star Wars and Raiders of the Lost Ark, but they were important and unique and genre fans loved them every bit as much as the box office winners.  Films like Tron, The Dark Crystal, and Flash Gordon.  Now after 40 years fans of Flash Gordon at last have a behind-the-scenes chronicle of the making of the film.  John Walsh, author of Harryhausen: The Lost Movies (reviewed here at borg) unearthed concept artwork, original costumes, props, and sketches, and new interviews with the director, production staff, and cast members for the 40th anniversary tribute, Flash Gordon: The Official Story of the Film, the only comprehensive look at the art, promotional material, and music available for this classic sci-fi/fantasy favorite.

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Review by C.J. Bunce

Tor Essentials is a new library of backlist science fiction and fantasy novels from Macmillan Publishing’s Tor imprint, so far featuring 15 novels plucked from the past few decades.  One of those 21st century titles is a well-constructed gem, Canadian author Robert Charles Wilson’s Spin A broad, epic story that traverses literally billions of years from the vantage of a doctor living on Earth, the novel packs a lot of ideas into 300 pages.  The sub-genres covered are a mix of apocalypse, speculative fiction, and Martians, but not quite the aliens of H.G. Wells or Robert Heinlein.  Like the inexplicable monolith of Arthur C. Clarke’s 2001: A Space Odyssey, a giant black barrier has blocked the atmosphere so we no longer see the Sun, the Moon, or the Stars, but some secret force is protecting the Earth from the effects of such an occurrence.  Somehow Wilson connects the dots between the absurd and the improbable with the realities of the human condition to arrive at a story similar to Daniel H. Wilson’s The Andromeda Evolution, another intriguing, creative tale that made readers believe the unlikely was possible.

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Review by C.J. Bunce

British television series that make their way to America tend to be refreshing in that each new show is incredibly different from the last.  No matter how many times Americans catch the latest Brit/Irish/Scot police procedural, it’s nearly impossible to follow how each level of government polices, and manages the policing, of its citizenry.  That quirk doesn’t get more pronounced than in the opener to The Salisbury Poisonings, a four-part series airing Monday evenings on AMC.  The series will likely mean less to those on this side of the pond, although the real-life attempt on the lives of a Russian spy and his daughter living in Salisbury was international news in March 2018, victims of Vladimir Putin’s spy network.  But the first episode has the kind of TV writing that should bring the show to the attention of anglophiles.

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Could an aircraft carrier support that kind of weight?

Warner Brothers released its new trailer (below) for the next Godzilla movie this weekend–Godzilla vs. Kong–the follow-up to the 2019 sequel Godzilla: King of the Monsters (reviewed here at borg).  It’s one of the hundreds of movies delayed by the COVID-19 pandemic, this one originally scheduled for a Thanksgiving week 2019 release.  The next effort of U.S. studios to one-up the Japanese kaiju genre doesn’t try to hide what it is: what the director calls a “massive monster brawl,” a straightforward mash-up of MUTOs (massive unidentified terrestrial organisms).  It merges the 2017 King Kong reboot Kong: Skull Island, and the Godzilla reboot story centered around the secret agency Monarch, which began with the 2014 Gareth Edwards-directed Godzilla.  For this fourth film in Legendary Pictures “MonsterVerse,” young director Adam Wingard brings back Godzilla storyline characters played by Millie Bobby Brown and Kyle Chandler and adds familiar action stars new to the franchise Eiza González (Bloodshot) and Brian Tyree Henry (Spider-Man: Into the Spider-verse).  It doesn’t look like any characters are being brought over from the Kong franchise.

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Jules Verne’s novel The Lighthouse at the End of the World was written in 1901, but published posthumously in 1905, about a band of pirates seizing control of a lighthouse that lit a path for ships through an important straight in the South Atlantic.  Comic book writers David Hine and Brian Haberlin are taking that time period and flipping it into the distant future in their new adaptation, a five-issue series called Jules Verne’s Lighthouse, coming this spring from Image Comics.  Don’t confuse this with the 2019 movie Lighthouse starring Willem Dafoe and Robert Pattinson–that was an adaptation of Edgar Allan Poe’s unfinished story “The Light-House.”  In this story, at the edge of the galaxy lies a giant supercomputer known as the Lighthouse.  Not a beacon so much as an advanced air traffic control for spaceships navigating wormholes, this Lighthouse is manned by a small group living for years in peace, until the arrival of space pirates.

Check out a preview of the first issue below.

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It was only a little more than six years ago that we were discussing here at borg the first trailer for the first reboot of The Equalizer What would become two major action blockbusters starred Denzel Washington as Robert McCall, a role originally cast in the 1980s by British actor Edward Woodward in a successful four-season television series.  Denzel proved exactly what we believed:  What made McCall’s character had nothing to do with the color of his skin.  In fact Washington’s retired former special ops operative was one of the best badass action characters to hit the big screen in the past decade–Washington truly made the character his own.  Next month the series gets its second reboot as Queen Latifah fills in the shoes as lead heroine, playing not Robert but Robyn McCall in the new network TV series The Equalizer Check out the trailer for the series below.

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Thirty-seven years after the premiere of the cult film The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai Across the 8th Dimension, the screenplay writer has penned a sequel.  For fans of the quirky sci-fi movie, this sequel was of the eagerly-awaited variety.  You’re about to get your money’s worth as Earl Mac Rauch, who wrote the script and a novelization of the movie, is delivering the hefty, 568-page volume this summer, available now for pre-order here at Amazon.  With another long title, Buckaroo Banzai Against the World Crime League et al, –A Compendium of Evils, continues the adventures of the scientist-surgeon-entertainer-daredevil played by Peter Weller.

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In the graphic novel 47 Ronin, independent comics pioneer Mike Richardson (Star Wars: Crimson Empire) and Japanese-born American legendary comics artist Stan Sakai (Usagi Yojimbo) re-created the famed 1700-1701 historical event of a group of loyal Japanese ronin (leaderless samurai) who avenged the death of their leader.  The award-winning book from Dark Horse Comics is filled with action and intrigue, a dramatic account of the importance of loyalty, sacrifice, persistence, and honor that influenced the culture of Japan ever since.  Initially released in hardcover, at last the graphic novel is getting its first trade paperback edition.  The more affordable edition is available for pre-order now here at Amazon and we have a look inside for borg readers below.

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Review by C.J. Bunce

For most television viewers, the names after a show scroll by without much notice.  But if you pay attention, you may find the writer of one of your favorite episodes is the writer of many of your favorites, which may point you to other series and episodes you’ve not seen yet that you may like.  You might not have heard of Paul Robert Coyle, but it’s likely that anyone who is a fan of one or more genre shows has watched the results of his work.  Or maybe you haven’t heard of Star Trek: The Next Generation, Deep Space Nine, Star Trek Voyager, Star Trek: The Animated Series, Xena: Warrior Princess, Hercules: The Legendary Journeys, Superboy, The Dead Zone, Simon & Simon, or earlier detective and police series like The Streets of San Francisco, Barnaby Jones, Crazy Like a Fox, Jake and the Fat Man, and CHiPs.  Coyle wrote for these series, and readers of his new book Swords, Starships, and Superheroes: A TV Writer’s Life Scripting the Stories of Heroes may find he wrote some of their favorite episodes.

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