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Category: Sci-Fi Café


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.

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The one-two punch of the third season of the 12th Doctor on BBC’s Doctor Who plus the new spin-off Class is the two-hour TV block sci-fi fans won’t want to miss this season.  Last week witnessed the first episode of Peter Capaldi’s final season on Doctor Who, with Pearl Mackie as the new companion, a vibrant and refreshing character named Bill Potts.  It also saw the premiere of Class, full of intrigue, exceptional actors, and great characterization for an introductory episode.  Aliens and time travel fans should take note, as a fun ride is ahead this season.

It’s the 36th season for Doctor Who and tenth season since the 2005 reboot.  Whovians who have fallen in love with Karen Gillan and Jenna Coleman and their predecessors will find how easily Mackie slips into her role.  After the sweetness and syrupy music over the past few seasons that supported Clara Oswald, the series was due for some fun and a break from the weight of emotion that Oswald’s plight brought to the Doctor.  And Mackie’s Bill looks great, with a cool jean jacket full of flair and a wild shirts that fit in with the past styles of Doctor Who garb.  And that hair!  Bill provides a full character study in her first episode, “Pilot,” where an alien race of space oil beings seek out a star pilot in a woman who is the eye of Bill’s affection.  The result is another creepy and brilliant Doctor Who villain that will hopefully surface again.  Matt Lucas–who is hard to forget as Tweedle Dee and Tweedle Dum of Tim Burton’s Alice in Wonderland–returns as Nardole, a part that is also quickly folding nicely into the show.

class-show

In the United States we had been offered up only the briefest teaser preview for the new Doctor Who spinoff TV series Class. With two stars of the Jeremy Piven star vehicle Mr. Selfridge in lead roles–the brilliant actress Katherine Kelly and the up-and-coming actor Greg Austin–the series was primed to be good, and episode one, “For Tonight We Might Die,” did not disappoint.  As we had speculated earlier this year, the series seemed to be revealing what Doctor Who would look like with a woman playing the lead role.  Katherine Kelly went head-to-head with Peter Capaldi’s Doctor and proved she has the right stuff for the part.  She’s perfect as a headstrong leader, and the younger leader played by Austin fills the niche that the companion would serve in the Who-niverse.

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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.

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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?

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It’s not every day we get to read a new story by its original creator, especially 30 years later.  Comic book readers are getting just that this summer as Japanese-American comic book writer/artist Stan Sakai returns to his creation Miyamoto Usagi, a samurai rabbit living in late-sixteenth and early-seventeenth-century Japan whose exploits were chronicled in his Usagi Yojimbo saga.  Usagi will partner with The Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles in a one-shot graphic novel crossover event.  Both series were created in 1984, the Turtles created by Kevin Eastman and Peter Laird.

The new story written and illustrated by Sakai is called Namazu, and the conflict centers on the Japanese myth about a giant catfish that lives under the islands of Japan.  A god named Kashima trapped the fish and it now threatens to free itself and destroy the islands, helped in Sakai’s story by Jei, a character on a mission to destroy all the evil in the world.  Can Usagi and the Turtles join forces to save the future of Japan?

The catfish is featured prominently in a beautiful variant cover by Mouse Guard artist David Petersen (below).  Sakai will provide the standard cover for the book.  A softcover and hardcover edition will be available, the hardcover edition including extras like concept art and story notes selected by Sakai.  Sakai has won a total of seven Eisner and Harvey Awards, and was nominated for 21 Eisners, over his long career.

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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:

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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:

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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).

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When we ran down our list of some of the biggest anniversaries happening in 2017 this New Year’s Day here at borg.com, we mentioned that Valerian, the lead character in director Luc Besson’s new sci-fi extravaganza Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets, turns 50 this year.  Also celebrating this year is Besson’s most famous work, 1997’s visual spectacle The Fifth Element.  To celebrate the film’s 20th anniversary, Fathom Events is partnering with Sony Pictures next month to bring the film back to theaters for two days only.

The Fifth Element represents the best science fiction has to offer.  The look at Bruce Willis’s hero Korben Dallas living the life of an “every man” in a future New York City was groundbreaking.  At the end of one career Dallas finds himself driving a cab, getting hounded by his mother on the phone, talking to his cat, and ordering Chinese food–normal things from this century, yet with Dallas we see a future efficiency apartment jammed with every day necessities and every day wonders.  The Fifth Element also blends in fantastical elements–a fantastic journey with humor, action, and stunning visuals connecting ancient history and the future of not only humans, but a federation of aliens from other worlds, too.

The set decoration, cinematography, make-ups, costumes, and props were groundbreaking.  When we grew up thinking about the ideal year 2000, the bustling space travel and flying cars in The Fifth Element are exactly what we were hoping for.  Compare The Fifth Element with any other film with a vision of our future and the competitors will be difficult to measure up.  Only Doctor Who and Star Trek really compare, also mixing elements of sci-fi and fantasy with aliens and other worlds, and the most creative, visionary, artistic components–yet which single two-hour segment has all the elements boiled down into two epic hours?

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Review by C.J. Bunce

How can a movie get better on repeated viewings?  What makes that possible?  After three viewings of the home release of Rogue One: A Star Wars Story–the Digital HD edition, the Blu-ray, and the 3D Blu-ray–it’s apparent the film on repeated viewings is indeed as good as the initial theatrical viewing if not better, a rare feat in any genre.  Naysayers who didn’t like the CGI effects of Grand Moff Tarkin and Princess Leia–the primary criticism of the December theatrical release–should find even a home theater big screen television will mask any distractions seen on a 30-foot theater screen.  The Blu-ray and 3D Blu-ray provide the best, clearest picture and sound of any prior Star Wars release.  The 3D transfer is as good as any 3D Blu-ray release to-date, and the special effects, clothing details like stitches and seams are clear and vivid, as is the weathering (or lack thereof, when logical) on props.  As with most 3D movies, outdoor scenes, like the Scarif ground battle, are even more vivid with sharp foregrounds and backgrounds.  Check out the complete review of the film from December here.

The special features disc includes a version of the bonus features viewable together as an entire documentary and also viewable by chapter.  The extra disc available through Target stores only includes two short extra chapters, and although the creature shop feature is excellent the two extras wouldn’t normally be enough to tilt a buyer toward the Target edition–costs being the same–and some may instead opt for packaging, like Steelbook boxes (Best Buy only) or Connexions cards (available only in the Wal-Mart edition).  Fun bits in the features to look for include Bodhi actor Riz Ahmed’s audition tapes for Edwards, a feature documenting many Easter eggs from the show even the best eye likely never identified, and interviews with motion capture actors Guy Henry (Grand Moff Tarkin) and Ingvild Daila (Princess Leia), both who look little like Peter Cushing or Carrie Fisher, proving that simply using lookalikes or prosthetics would not have been a realistic option for re-creating these characters.  The standard bonus features included with the bundles are K-2SO: The Droid, Baze & Chirrut: Guardians of the Whills, Bodhi & Saw: The Pilot & the Revolutionary, The Empire, Visions of Hope: The Look of Rogue One, The Princess & the Governor, Epilogue: The Story Continues, and Rogue Connections (the Easter eggs list).

Rogue One easily merits ranking as the third best film in the series after Star Wars: A New Hope and The Empire Strikes Back–but truly in a league with those two films.  One of the best war movie stories put to film, the best prequel or prequel that is also a sequel (yes, even considering the great Godfather II), the best space battle, the best use of spaceship filming (director Gareth Edwards avoids 2001: A Space Odyssey and Star Trek: The Motion Picture-era overly-long ship takes and instead uses his imagery only as necessary to drive the story forward), while featuring one of the all-time best heist movies.

It really has it all.

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