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Category: Sci-Fi Café


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If the future was bleak and the apocalypse was coming at you like a freight train, would you want to know?  How would you know?  Would you get an obvious message like a government report about a meteor?  Some divine message?  A secret message, encoded only for you?  Would you prefer to remain blissfully unaware and let fate take its course?  What do you want to know?  What don’t you want to know?

Let’s translate that to movies:  Do you want to know the genre of a film before you watch it?  What if the genre itself could be construed as a spoiler?  This was the problem, or the best feature–depending on your point of view–of last year’s sleeper Midnight Special.  Through a fairly heart-pounding, blood-pumping few hours, moviegoers could only guess, but did not know for certain, the complete genre spectrum of the movie, until the very end.  That’s a heckuva feat.  The result: Midnight Special was one of the best films of last year in any category (don’t click here if you don’t want to see that genre and how we at borg.com rated it).  The flipside of not knowing what genre you’re watching can be found in the 2009 film Knowing, one of many films that opt to deliver a special message of some sort of impending future peril via secret message, and one of the few that holds back on the very nature of the genre until the end of the film.

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The remake of The Day the Earth Stood Still, The Fifth Element, The Number 23, The Pursuit of Happyness, The Day After Tomorrow, Unbreakable, The Game–all have something in common with Knowing, directed by Alex Proyas (The Crow, Dark City, I, Robot), and starring Nicolas Cage as a father whose son receives a letter from a 50-year-old time capsule that includes nothing but numbers–numbers that we learn early in the film are the precise dates of future, major Earth disasters.  And as the boy receives the letter a few dates remain on the list that haven’t yet arrived.  We saw interesting forms of messages about the future in the Final Destination series, Donnie Darko, Source Code, The Adjustment Bureau, and Butterfly Effect.  Knowing doesn’t catch up to any of these movies, but it’s an interesting study in writing stories that tease genres and toy with viewers’ imaginations about what is real or potential as to the subject of “the future.”

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IDW Publishing writer Mike Johnson continues to take Star Trek where no one has taken Star Trek before.  As he did successfully in Star Trek Countdown and Star Trek: Nero, Johnson continues the adventures of Captain James T. Kirk and his crew in the Star Trek “Kelvin” timeline–the new timeline begun by J.J. Abrams beginning in 2009.  Johnson is breaking new grounds along with artist Tony Shasteen in Star Trek: Boldly Go, a monthly comic book series featuring a standalone story issue hitting comic book stores tomorrow.

In the first four issues of Star Trek: Boldly Go, Johnson and Shasteen take readers beyond last summer’s hit movie Star Trek Beyond.  Kirk and his crew are divided now, serving aboard separate vessels.  Kirk leads the USS Endeavour, with Bones as second rank under another medical chief.  Chekov serves with them.  Spock and Uhura are on sabbatical on New Vulcan with Sarek.  Scotty is teaching at the Academy back on Earth.  Commander Sulu is serving under Captain Terrell (played by Paul Winfield in Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan) aboard the USS Concord.  And then a nemesis encountered much later in the Prime Universe pursues the Concord.  Why? Is resistance truly futile?  Find out when The Borg seize Spock.

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Fortunately instead of being merely a gimmick to bring the key villains from Star Trek: The Next Generation into the realm of the original series, the change-up in the timeline is nicely tied to a logical occurrence in Kirk and Spock’s past, while further binding the ex-Enterprise crew together.

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Tomorrow with Issue #5 Johnson and Shasteen set their focus on Jaylah, the heroine from Star Trek Beyond, and our nominee for the most kickass heroine of all the Star Trek films.  It’s a great, personal story, providing backstory showing how Jaylah ended up where she encountered the Enterprise crew at the beginning of Star Trek Beyond, and where the character is now.  Here is a preview of Star Trek: Boldly Go, Issue #5, courtesy of IDW Publishing:

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dr-strange-video     steelbook-doctor-strange

In a year with Deadpool, X-Men: Apocalypse, Captain America: Civil War, Batman vs. Superman: Dawn of Justice, and Suicide Squad, only one really knocked our socks off beginning to end with no caveats.  Doctor Strange, our pick for last year’s best superhero movie, began with a hotshot medical whiz played as smartly as ever by Benedict Cumberbatch, who embarked on an intriguing story arc with the help of a mystic brilliantly played by Tilda Swinton.  Along the way Cumberbatch introduced us to the next great character of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, a dead ringer for the classic comic book character who sports the coolest cloak ever, and wields otherworldly special effect powers that really look great in 3D.  Plus, we had a great villain in Mads Mikkelsen’s Kaecilius, humor, and a solid supporting cast.  Next week Doctor Strange makes its way to online streaming services with the 3D Blu-ray, Blu-ray, and DVD release scheduled for February 28, 2017.

Doctor Strange includes the best recent use of 3D in the theater, so if you have the 3D player and compatible TV the 3D Blu-ray will be the way to go.  Viewing it in 3D in the theater was a must, from Doctor Strange’s spell weapons to a world colliding with an amped up Spirograph meets Kaleidoscope-infused reality, from conflicts on Salvador Dali paintings come to life and M.C. Escher and Labyrinth-inspired battlefields, to journeys through distant outer space and beyond time.  Crisp clarity and beautiful cinematography reveals modern effects at their best thanks to the production of Kevin Feige–who has coordinated everything Marvel for both Disney and Twentieth Century Fox–and director of photography Ben Davis (Guardians of the Galaxy, Avengers: Age of Ultron, Kick-Ass, Stardust, Layer Cake).

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Look forward to some great costume work from Academy Award-winning costume designer Alexandra Byrne (Hamlet, Elizabeth, The Phantom of the Opera, The Avengers, Guardians of the Galaxy).  And Michael Giacchino is finally back with a superb musical score more on par with his work on The Incredibles than more recent soundtrack efforts.  Giacchino really hedged his bets last year, producing soundtracks to 2016 releases Star Trek Beyond, Zootopia, Doctor Strange, and Rogue One: A Star Wars Story.   Giacchino really justified his place as an Oscar-winning composer with his brilliant score for Doctor Strange, a score we think was on par with his superb work on The Incredibles.

After the break, check out all the extras for the home edition release and an unusual–unusually cute–trailer for the home release of Doctor Strange:

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We now have a Season 2 teaser trailer for Stranger Things featuring the key cast of kids minus Millie Bobby Brown’s Eleven.  Check out the trailer below, which aired during Sunday’s Super Bowl game.  We now know we won’t get to binge watch Season 2 on Netflix until Halloween.  So what do we know so far about Stranger Things Season 2?

Although she’s not in this week’s first teaser, we know Millie Bobby Brown (Eleven) signed on for the season, and fan favorite Sean Astin will star as a new character aptly named Bob Newby.  The other kid stars are back:  Mike Wheeler (Finn Wolfhard), Dustin Henderson (Gaten Matarazzo), and Lucas Sinclair (Caleb McLaughlin), sporting Ghostbusters outfits at their grade school on Halloween Day 1984–a great choice for the season opener since we’ll be watching the episode premiere on Halloween day.

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In the teaser we see Hawkins, Indiana police chief Jim Hopper (David Harbour) is back and encounters some kind of explosion.  In last season’s finale, Will Byers (Noah Schnapp) returned from the Upside Down and now may be like Eleven, coughing up that Upside Down world goo.  Is he going to have powers like Eleven?  He’s shown in the same lab with similar equipment hooked up to him as we saw with Eleven and Dr. Martin Brenner (Matthew Modine), who was killed at the end of Season 1.  If you don’t recognize the people in the fuzzy lab video, that’s Paul Reiser as a new character named Dr. Owens and Winona Ryder returning as Will’s mom Joyce.

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We get to see a quick homage to the kid opening the door to the alien abductors in Close Encounters of the Third Kind, and a great look at the new nemesis alien for Season 2.  The same great title banner is back, and the music.  For those not around in 1980, the Eggo Waffles advertisement at the beginning of the teaser is real, and it features young actor Jason Hervey who would later play the brother on The Wonder Years.

Check out the teaser for Stranger Things Season 2, the original Eggo Waffles ad, and the Close Encounters scene referred to above, after the break:
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Every year the Super Bowl means new movie trailers.  Surprisingly the most exciting of all the movie trailers that aired during Sunday’s 51st Super Bowl game may be the all-star cast assemblage in The Fate of the Furious, the eighth film in the Fast and the Furious series.  Vin Diesel, Charlize Theron, Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, Jason Statham, and many more make for a great cast, and the action scenes look very big indeed.

But we got plenty of new previews, too.  Two movies of the bunch are not big franchise sequels, one we have seen a trailer for previously, Ghost in the Shell, and the other is a Ryan Reynolds mainstream space flick called Life.  Co-starring Jake Gyllenhaal, it looks like several episodes of spaceship disaster episodes we’ve seen from decades of Doctor Who.  The next Passengers?  Hopefully not.

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Of the sequels, we have previews for Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales (proving again you can’t beat using a Johnny Cash song for your trailer), Guardians of the Galaxy, Vol. 2, Transformers (5): The Last Knight, and the next X-Men movie, Logan.

Check out all these movie trailers, after the break:

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The first trailer released for the new Australian production My Pet Dinosaur at first has the look of a low-budget knockoff of E.T., the Extra Terrestrial.  Since E.T. many films have tried to capture what Steven Spielberg and John Williams brought to the screen.  Most have failed and resulted in decades of direct-to-VHS features.  But we also have had successes like Super 8.

My Pet Dinosaur comes from writer/director and visual effects supervisor Matt Drummond, who also worked on Dinosaur Island.  It stars newcomers Jordan Dulieu, Anabelle Wolfe, Harrison Saunders, Chris Gabardi, Scott Irwin, Rowley Holmes, Beth Champion, with Joanne Samuel (Mad Max), David Roberts (The Matrix), and Tiriel Mora (The Castle).

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In one sense My Pet Dinosaur may seem doomed from the start.  In light of the success of all things retro, and in particular the Netflix series Stranger Things, My Pet Dinosaur may still have a chance.  Yet, maybe the preview doesn’t do the film justice, and perhaps the special effects work wasn’t in final form.  The dinosaur looks pretty good in some of the scenes.

Check out this trailer for My Pet Dinosaur:

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It’s one of our favorite science fiction tropes–the time loop–filmed in one of our favorite locations, Squamish, B.C.  We can’t get enough of time loops, whether we’re watching Groundhog Day, Source Code, Final Destination, TiMER, Haunter, Looper, or ARQ, or television shows Tru Calling or Early Edition, or episodes from Haven, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Eureka, The X-Files, Star Trek, or Xena–Warrior Princess, waking up to and trying to deal with a repeated deja vu day is just plain fun–but only for the viewer.  Check out our previous discussions of time loops at borg.com here and here.

The latest time loop movie is more of a teen romance mystery than your typical science fiction time loop vehicle–an adaptation of Before I Fall, a young adult novel by author Lauren Oliver.  This film appears to have more in common with Final Destination, Donnie Darko, and Butterfly Effect–a teenager named Samantha played by Zoey Deutsch (Ringer) is involved in an auto accident, and wakes up to repeat the day, again and again.  The mystery is found in how she faces the same day, what she does with her time, and whether she can make her way out.

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One factor in this film’s favor is its shooting location in scenic Squamish, north of Vancouver, British Columbia, filming location for Star Trek Beyond, Walking Tall, and many other films and TV shows (discussed previously here).

Here are two trailers for Before I Fall:

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Space… The Final Frontier.  These are the voyages of the I.S.S. Enterprise.  Its continuing mission: to conquer strange new worlds, to enslave new life and new civilizations… to boldly go where no one has gone before.

First there was “Mirror, Mirror” in the original Star Trek.  Then there was Deep Space Nine’s “Crossover,” “Through the Looking Glass,” “Shattered Mirror,” “Resurrection,” and “The Emperor’s New Cloak.”  Then “In a Mirror, Darkly” on Enterprise.  The closest we got in Star Trek Voyager was seeing Kes’s evil side in “Warlord,” or the Voyager crew depicted as cutthroat villains in “Living Witness.”   But what about Star Trek: The Next Generation?  With all the episodes playing off of the original series, how did the writers miss an opportunity for mirror versions of Picard, Riker, Worf, Data, Crusher, Troi, LaForge, and Yar?

Dynamic writing duo Scott Tipton and David Tipton and stellar artist J.K. Woodward are making up for the gap with a new IDW Publishing series coming later this year: Star Trek: The Next Generation–Mirror Broken.  But first, everyone will be able to go to their local comic book shop this May 6 for the annual Free Comic Book Day to get their own free prequel issue for the series.  After the break below is a preview featuring fan-favorite character Lieutenant Reginald Barclay, the sometimes bumbling, sometimes awkward, sometimes outright genius Starfleet engineer from both NextGen and Star Trek Voyager.  But first, how incredible are these original painted images of the cover of the FCBD issue?  Star Trek fans already know J.K. Woodward, the multi-year borg.com “Best of the Year” artist from his past work on Star Trek: The Next Generation/Doctor Who–Assimilation², Harlan Ellison’s City on the Edge of Forever, and the Star Trek 50 Years, 50 Artists art exhibition.

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According to early solicitations, the Star Trek: The Next Generation miniseries, Mirror Broken will reveal the Mirror Universe like never before:  Captain Jean-Luc Picard of the I.S.S. Stargazer will stop at nothing to get his hands on the Terran Empire’s newest starship, the Enterprise-D.

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kyle    frank

Funko released advance images of several new lines of toys for this week’s London Toy Fair 2017.  The highlight of the images include two lines of figures from Twin Peaks, plus figures from Guardians of the Galaxy, Vol. 2, Ghost in the Shell, and Donnie Darko, among others.  The nice sculpt of Kyle MacLachlan’s Agent Dale Cooper from Twin Peaks will be a must for fans of the classic series who are looking forward to this year’s sequel series on Showtime.  The preview photo does not include what accessory will accompany Cooper.  A doughnut?  A cup of coffee?  A piece of pie?  His voice recorder?  We’re betting on the coffee.

Another big win is a Funko Dorbz figure of everyone’s third favorite fictional rabbit, Frank from Donnie Darko.  The Guardians of the Galaxy, Vol. 2, Funko Pop! line includes new characters like

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And here is a look at the Funko Pop! version of blue-haired Scarlett Johansson’s lead borg character Major from Ghost in the Shell:

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The Funko ReAction Twin Peaks action figures are hopefully only a taste of what is to come.  The first round includes Cooper, the Log Lady, Bob the killer, and dead Laura Palmer (eww):

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Japan toymaker S.H. FiguArts is setting a new standard in small-sized action figures representing the state of the art of sculpt design technology from Bandai Toys, the fourth largest toy company in the world.  Designed to mimic the range of motion of the human body, the series aims to focus on “Simple Style” and “Heroic Action.”

Arguably the best of these new designs is the S.H. FiguArts new Doctor Strange figure, designed specifically for the U.S. market, available later this year.  The “Doctor Strange & Burning Flame Set” is a high-end 6-inch figure, about 1:12 scale.  Doctor Strange’s facial expressions are replicated with superb detail utilizing Tamashii Nations’ digital coloring technology, a printing technique that enables reproduction of minute details in the creation of expressions–in this case–true to Benedict Cumberbatch’s portrayal in last year’s blockbuster film, Doctor Strange.

The figure is available for pre-order now from both Amazon here and Entertainment Earth here.  This set is sold by special arrangement only in the U.S.

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Check out more photos and product details after the cut.

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