Category: Sci-Fi Café


Secrets of the Force

Review by C.J. Bunce

If you skip over the commentary from the critics and modern writers, and focus on the quotes from the past from the actual filmmakers and actors, you may find some new details behind the nine Star Wars movies in a book coming in July.  In their two volume treatise The Fifty-Year Mission, The Complete Uncensored Unauthorized Oral History of Star Trek, authors Edward Gross and Mark A. Altman compiled quotes from dozens of people inside Gene Roddenberry’s creation, which meant a lot of what you’d expect by way of discussing the creation of the franchise, colliding with what you might not expect–speculation, ranting, gossip, and even anger among the crew.  With their new book the authors switch gears to compiling quotes from people behind the scenes of George Lucas’s creation, including many expected, nostalgic trips to the past coupled with equal parts speculation, ranting, gossip, and anger.  Secrets of the Force: The Complete, Uncensored, Unauthorized Oral History of Star Wars explores the Star Wars material in a single volume.

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Star-Trek-Picard-Season-2-Trailer

When we last saw Patrick Stewart′s good Captain Jean-Luc Picard, he seemingly died and came back to life as something new.  In the first season of CBS All Access’s latest live-action Star Trek incarnation, Star Trek: Picard, audiences met a primarily new crew of characters supporting the efforts of Picard–and a range of good villains.  Stewart has said he decided to bring his character back to the screen because of the role he performed for even more years than Picard–Charles Xavier in the X-Men series–specifically the strong finish he was able to give the character in James Mangold’s Oscar-nominated finale Logan.  Stewart succeeded, as Star Trek: Picard showcased the beloved character as Old Man Picard and wrapped far better fans’ last meeting with not only Picard, but Data, Riker, and Troi, too.  And surprisingly it did that for Star Trek Voyager, specifically for Jeri Ryan′s Seven of Nine, who also had a rather anticlimactic finale in the last episode of that series.

Now audiences have a first look at Season 2, and an official poster with hints at a voyage back to an era closer to our own time as seen in Star Trek Voyager and Star Trek IV–and echoes of the first episode of Star Trek: The Next Generation.  Check it out below.

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It really has all the mirrors, at least as far as Star Trek: The Next Generation is concerned–the TV series that never got around to an official Mirror Universe episode–although a few episodes came close.  For fans of Jean-Luc Picard, Data, Worf, Riker, Troi, Crusher, and LaForge, few efforts have come as close to original episodes of Star Trek: The Next Generation since the series finale aired 27 years ago as IDW Publishing’s continuing adventures of the crew in the pages of the comic books.  J.K. Woodward painted a brilliant new story of the Star Trek: The Next Generation era with writers David Tipton and Scott Tipton in IDW Publishing’s nostalgic Mirror Broken series, and Woodward’s work is among the best of the past decade.  Known already for his beautiful illustrations in the Star Trek/Doctor Who crossover miniseries Assimilation², the IDW adaptation of Star Trek: The City on the Edge of Forever, also with the Tipton brothers, and the covers of the Star Trek/Green Lantern crossover miniseries, Woodward brought his jaw-dropping photo-real paintings to Mirror Broken–providing poster-worthy interior artwork for every page of the series.  Woodward not only gave fans their first look at the ships and places in the Mirror universe of the TNG years, he created the never-before-seen look of each character for the franchise.

J.K. Woodward homage to the NextGen crew, Mirror style, based on the 10th anniversary Continuing Mission photo.

Now you can get the three thrilling parallel journeys to a darker timeline in the Star Trek: The Next Generation Mirror Universe Collection.  You can order it today through Elite Comics, your local comic book store, and via Amazon here.

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luke cage

Ten years!  That’s ten years reviewing TV series in the decade that streaming services began to dominate TV viewing– and binge-watching was born as Netflix began releasing entire seasons at once in 2013.  How do you pick the best series?  As with yesterday’s list of movie recommendations, our theory from the very first day of publishing borg has been reviewing only those things we like, things we think are fun, imaginative, or just plain cool—because if we think they’re cool, maybe you will, too.  What makes a great TV series?  Great writing—great storytelling.  Also we looked to difficulty level and technology innovation—TV productions tend to get a fraction of the budget of big-screen features, so what they do with their time and money is critical, and some television series in the past decade were all-out feats.  The third factor we looked to is re-watchability—we’ll be watching the best series for years to come.  The big difference between ranking movies and TV is the change between seasons, that force that inevitably causes most shows to decline with each season.  So consistency is a factor.  Finally, as with movies the most important factor is the fun—why would you devote so many hours of your valuable time if you’re not going to have a great time?

Manda

One more thing: Ten years is a long time so we narrowed the series we’re including to those recommendations that fall primarily within the ten-year window.  We covered several fantastic, re-watchable series that cemented their status in reruns or syndication, many beginning before borg began publishing and finishing in the years after, including Burn Notice, White Collar, Warehouse 13, Leverage, House, MD, In Plain Sight, and three landmarks among the best pop culture-packed series of all time, Chuck, Psych, and Community.  We were disappointed that some of the best series were canceled and left to only a single season, otherwise they may have gone on to fare better against our top recommendations, shows like Jason Isaacs’ psychological police procedural Awake, Sarah Shahi’s all-for-fun Fairly Legal, Lauren Cohan’s action/spy series Whiskey Cavalier, the Doctor Who spin-off Class, the adaptation of Max Allan Collins’ popular noir novel series Quarry, the slick animated series Tron: Uprising, and the cyborg future-world Almost Human starring Karl Urban, to name a few.

Grimm

So here are the Top 40 series we recommend, spanning 2011 to 2021.  These are our favorites.  How should you use lists like this?  If you like what we talk about at borg, you’re probably going to like these shows.  If you’ve missed any, odds are you have some new series to take a look at.  Let’s start at #40 and move our way to #1.  As with everything borg, we’re stressing genre series.  Title links are to one of our previous borg reviews.

Let’s get started!

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Ten years of movie reviews.  How do you pick the best?  Our theory from the very first day of publishing borg has been reviewing only those things we like, things we think are fun, imaginative, or just plain cool—because if we think they’re cool, maybe you will, too.  What makes a great movie?  #1 for us is great writing—great storytelling.  #2 is re-watchability.  Lots of movies are good, but if every time you watch it you enjoy it all over again and maybe find something you didn’t see before, then you likely got far more value from the movie than the price of a movie ticket.  #3 is innovation—there’s nothing to top off a good story like new technology surprising us.  Finally, the experience must be fun—why else would you devote two hours or more of your valuable time?

So in Casey Kasem style, here are the Top 40 movies we recommend, spanning 2011 to 2021.  These are our favorites.  How should you use lists like this?  If you like what we talk about at borg, you’re probably going to like these movies.  If you’ve missed any, odds are you have some new movies to take a look at.  Let’s start at #40 and move our way to #1.  As with everything borg, we’re stressing genre movies, so don’t expect to see strict dramas or a lot of Best Picture Oscar winners here.  Title links are to our original borg review.

Let’s get started!

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Escape from New York book Walsh

Forty years after the release of the sci-fi classic Escape from New York, fans will at last get a look at the making of the movie.  In celebration of the 40th anniversary of John Carpenter’s one-of-a-kind story of Kurt Russell’s future criminal Snake Plissken and his attempt to rescue the President from a downed plane over a locked-down New York City, Escape from New York: The Official Story of the Film pulls from the studio archives a trove of behind the scenes photographs to showcase the creation of the movie.  You can pre-order the book now here at Amazon, and check out a preview of the book below.

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Underexposed cover

Review by C.J. Bunce

Stanley Kubrick’s The Lord of the Rings starring The Beatles.  Peter Jackson’s A Nightmare on Elm Street.  George Miller’s Justice League.  Robert Rodriguez’s Barbarella.  Shane Black’s The Monster Squad.  Two John Carpenter movies you’ve never seen.  If you’re wondering what the best movie was in any given year, you have plenty of options.  You can look for the movie that had the biggest take at the box office.  You can look to critic reviews.  You can scroll through the Internet Movie Database.  You can review awards lists or Alternate Oscars.  Or you can just watch the movies and choose for yourself.  Underexposed! The 50 Greatest Movies Never Made, a new book arriving this month from Abrams, could have been called False Starts–it’s a book about movies that almost made it to the big screen.

Underexposed 6A

Peppered with movie poster mock-ups from art group PosterSpy, filmmaker and film enthusiast Joshua Hull tracked down interesting histories of some of the best and most quirky movies that almost got made, but were either abandoned, had legal rights issues, lack of funding, lack of interest, or simply were not made to save audiences from a bad idea.  They aren’t from obscure creators, either.  The list includes projects from Alfred Hitchcock to Stanley Kubrick and Steven Spielberg–and some are ideas that sound like they could have been pretty great.  What were they thinking?  Find out in this book.  

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