Category: Movies


by Elizabeth C. Bunce

Last month we offered our review of Guillermo del Toro’s new gothic film, Crimson Peak, raving over its atmosphere and performances.  Since it won’t be released in a home-viewing format for a while yet, how are we supposed to refresh our Crimson Peak fix until then?

Read the movie tie-in novel, of course!

crimson peak cover

Crimson Peak by veteran horror author Nancy Holder is a dead ringer for its onscreen counterpart, offering a scene-by-scene text recreation of the film.  But Holder often goes deeper, offering perspectives from characters not fully expressed on screen, elaborating on the story’s emotional arc, and adding to the haunting atmosphere with her own nuanced, sometimes surprising voice.

If you’ve seen the film, there’s nothing new here.  At times the book feels flat, as if the words alone can’t live up to the actors’ performances, and the author was required to give as close a blow-by-blow account as possible.  But in other moments, Holder’s own prose shines:

It watched the house’s breath scatter the dry leaves that drifted in, drifted by.  The walls were bleeding from fissures in the wallpaper.  Stab wounds, or a razor blade drawn across a vein? Moths flew out; maggots fed.  The mad head of the house was rotting, and night was dragging her wings across the moon, tracing filigree on the floor.  In the attic, more black moths were dancing because it was cold, because it was dark. Because they were hungry.

For the butterfly.

Oooh, shivery!

The biggest challenge here is the same minor plot weakness that caused the film to stumble a bit at the end.  With so much glorious setup, with the fantastic otherworldly intervention of the supernatural–which is what drew us to this story, after all!–Crimson Peak deserves a bigger payoff, a less predictable and mundane explanation for all the horror.  But Holder actually manages the material a little more deftly than it appeared on screen; the pacing is more dread-inducing as she doles it out piecemeal.  We already know what’s happening, and yet the book’s buildup is better than the film’s letdown.  Whatever Holder can’t render as stunningly via prose (del Toro’s visionary ghosts), she makes up for in suspense.

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Review by C.J. Bunce

You have two days left to get in on Free League’s Kickstarter for the new Blade Runner roleplaying game (check that out here).  It’s already achieved unprecedented success (nearly $1.5 million pledged!), and if you sign up by May 26 you can get in on a stunning supply of unlocked stretch goal extras.  If you haven’t tried a FL RPG yet, you might want to start with the FL’s officially licensed rule book to Alien: The Roleplaying Game (available here at Amazon).  For anyone who loves the Alien franchise movies and novels (reviewed here) and its Colonial Marines, anyone who wants to see Weyland-Yutani get their just desserts, or anyone just willing to jump into the realm of horror roleplay–where you don’t always make it out alive–let’s dig into this recent RPG release.

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Review by C.J. Bunce

TV historian and Star Trek expert Marc Cushman is back to continue his second trilogy of books about the development, production, and struggles behind the first two decades of Star Trek.  In These Are the Voyages: Gene Roddenberry and Star Trek in the 1970s, Volume 2 (1975-77), at last we get to delve into the biggest Star Trek project never delivered: The 1970s Star Trek: Phase II series that would be parted out and become Star Trek: The Motion Picture and later Star Trek: The Next Generation.  And that’s not all–ideas and early scripts for Phase II continue to be tapped in the 21st century Star Trek series and films.  Even better, Cushman digs into the ever-developing Star Trek novels, conventions, and more, which became the practice grounds for the wider, broad world of pop culture fandom as a whole.  How did Star Trek finally movie forward from the original series to become what it is today?  How did the fans play a major role in making that happen?   Continue reading

Review by C.J. Bunce

It’s crazy.  Only a year ago audiences were getting ready for the arrival of the next James Bond film No Time to Die.  Flash forward a year and here we are again, awaiting the same movie.  Also a year ago I reviewed an intriguing new book by Mark Edlitz called The Many Lives of James Bond (reviewed here at borg).  I instantly loved that Edlitz wasn’t the typical non-fiction franchise tie-in writer–he was a diehard fan and loved Bond as much as I did (actually more).  And it came through in his interviews with some of the key people in front of and behind the lens, as well as those who dabbled in the James Bond creative space over the years.  As luck would have it, Edlitz is back with more from his research.  In his new book The Lost Adventures of James Bond, Edlitz recounts story treatments, screenplays, and more, adventures that didn’t make it to the screen or your bookshelf.  More Roger Moore as Bond.  More Timothy Dalton as Bond.  More Pierce Brosnan as Bond.  Who’s in?

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Review by C.J. Bunce

Delayed a bit due to the pandemic, a Star Wars tie-in comic book series proved this summer to be the best so far since Marvel Comics pulled the comics license back from Dark Horse.   Star Wars: Bounty Hunters completed its first story arc and will be coming next month to comic shops in a collected edition, available via pre-order now here at Amazon.  Compiling the first five issues of a new series in the vein of The Mandalorian, it establishes itself with a new anti-hero from the past and familiar faces fans of the original trilogy love.  It all begins by asking why all those bounty hunters appeared together on Darth Vader’s ship Executor in that brief scene in The Empire Strikes Back.

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Review by C.J. Bunce

Along with reprinting some novels based on comic book stories from Marvel’s past, a few new stories were released last year (and reviewed here at borg) as part of Titan Books’ line of novel tie-ins, including Spider-Man: Hostile Takeover, Ant-Man: Natural Enemy, Deadpool: Paws, and Civil War.  Now the Spider-Verse character Venom has his own hardcover novel.  Venom: Lethal Protector joins Spider-Man: Hostile Takeover among the newly written novels, although unlike Spider-Man: Hostile Takeover‘s new story as prequel to the 2018 PS4 game, Venom: Lethal Protector is based on the very first Venom-titled six-part mini-series from back in 1993.

James R. Tuck writes a faithful adaptation to the original comic books by David Michelinie, Mark Bagley, and Ron Lim.  The story catches up after Peter Parker parts with the alien symbiote that looks like a dripping ink blot, after he makes an arrangement with the new host, Eddie Brock, to leave and do no harm.  But trouble comes looking for Eddie when he joins a group of underground people in San Francisco.  The father of a man killed by Eddie/Venom is determined to avenge his son.  He and his lackeys, the Jury, take him on, plus a mastermind arrives and creates five spawn from the symbiote, spawn that Venom must eliminate with or without the help of Spider-Man.

The comic books Venom: Lethal Protector is based on provided much of the source material for last year’s Marvel Venom movie, so fans of the character, the comics, and the movie will be familiar with this take on the villain as he more overtly switches away from villainy to the stuff of anti-heroes–much like Deadpool and Punisher.  In fact it’s difficult not to see Deadpool, Punisher, and Marvel standards like the Hulk in both Venom’s origin story and his ongoing handling.  Like Hulk’s Banner, particularly from the classic TV series, Eddie Brock is constantly moving from place to place to escape his past.  The book telegraphs what a Venom story in the vein of the 1980s The Incredible Hulk could be like.

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Star Trek Book 2016

The in-universe book can be found in all sorts of genres.  In Star Trek we’ve seen this type of book recently with Star Trek Federation: The First 150 Years and The Autobiography of James T. Kirk.  You’re either a fan of this type of work or you aren’t–these books attempt to take readers deeper into the world and stories of our favorite characters.  More than found in the basic canon, in a way that often seems less imaginative than something like a tie-in novel.  Rarely have we read this type that knocked our socks off.  An exception is DK’s Star Trek: A Visual Dictionary–a simple but enjoyable look inside all facets of Star Trek (reviewed here previously at borg.com).  A new in-universe book by DK qualifies as a good read and maybe even a great Star Trek work.

The Star Trek Book celebrates 50 years of Star Trek with what amounts to a school textbook from Star Trek’s future.  Detailing the lives of key players in the Federation, chronicling major events, technologies, cultures, and locales, The Star Trek Book lives up to its promise.  The chronicle itself is brilliantly executed.  Not simply a time period by time period account, such as taking each series one by one, instead this account weaves the facts and features of all series and movies together as a singular whole.  This makes for a reference you won’t simply read and file away on the shelf, but one you keep coming back to (as we have in the weeks since we got a first look at the book).

DK AmazonUK6

The reboot universe of Star Trek, here designated for the first time as the Kelvin timeline, is handled alongside the original series cast and stories.  The Enterprise series is intermingled with Star Trek: The Next Generation, Deep Space Nine, and Star Trek Voyager, and the key events from the movies, all in a way that finally gives each component equal coverage.  So fans of one or all the series will find something of interest here.

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Warcraft clip

Review by C.J. Bunce

If your only exposure to Orcs is in the J.R.R. Tolkien Middle-earth stories, be prepared for a different look at this fantasy species in Christie Golden’s new novel Warcraft: Durotan, prequel to the upcoming Legendary Pictures Warcraft movie.  We’ve reviewed many franchise tie-in novels over the years here at borg.com and plenty of prequels.  Warcraft: Durotan is a surprisingly original novel, giving us a unique, sympathetic look at what you may otherwise only know as brainless, barbarian fantasy monsters.

Warcraft is of course the film adaptation of the megahit series of videogames.  It opened this weekend internationally to some early box office success.  Duncan Jones (Moon, Source Code), director of the film and son of the late David Bowie, star of Labyrinth and fan of fantasy films, has said he previewed the film for his father, who was excited about the movie.  We previewed the movie trailer earlier here at borg.com.  It stars Vikings lead actor Travis Fimmel, along with Clancy Brown, Daniel Wu, Paula Patton, Dominic Cooper, and Ben Foster.

Warcraft Durotan novel

You don’t need to have any background with the video games to enjoy the prequel novel.  It will be familiar to fans of the games, but deviates from the video game story.  Some fans of the games will like it, some won’t.  Durotan is the son of a chieftain of a clan of Orcs.  When Durotan steps into the leadership role of his clan he must learn to balance the traditions of the past with the very survival of his clan.  Warcraft: Durotan is a solid fantasy story, but it could easily be the story of an actual Native American tribe, a Viking or Highland clan, an Aztec tribe, ancient Spartans, a band of Mongols, or even a family in a Louis L’Amour Old West novel.  Durotan’s trials are the trials of any leader whose people are plagued with crisis after crisis.  Loyalty, bravery, sacrifice, tradition, mythology, and folklore all come into play.

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Aliens rock music video 1980s

Following on its success with last year’s Back to the Future Day celebration and the annual Star Wars Day (May the Fourth), 20th Century Fox has created a new day to bring fans back to the Alien franchise.  Although we believe they should have gone with Mother’s Day, April 26, 2016, is being targeted for the first Alien Day in honor of the doomed world, LV-426, where Sigourney Weaver’s Ripley first encountered the vile xenomorphs in 1979’s Alien.  This means bringing the movie back for a limited theatrical release and plenty of product tie-ins.  It’s all in anticipation of Fox’s release of Ridley Scott’s next Alien franchise film next year, Alien: Covenant, starring Michael Fassbender.

Aliens Funko

For action figure fans, NECA is releasing Lieutenant Vasquez, Newt, and Kenner-style Ellen Ripley figures, and Funko is releasing a Kenner-style Queen, Power Loader and Ripley figure set and Super 7 will offer several figures.  Hot Toys will sell a 1:6 scale Ripley figure.  Look for Kotobukiya to release a 1:10 scale xenomorph.  Sideshow and Medicon Toy company will also release new Alien figures.

Alien Invasion Lebbon

Titan Books is releasing a new Tim Lebbon tie-in novel, Alien: Invasion.  (Check out our review and interview with Lebbon here at borg.com of Lebbon’s first awesome Alien novel Alien: Out of the Shadows).  And Alien: Out of the Shadows will get its own audiobook featuring the voice of Rutger Hauer.  Insight Editions will release a new book, The Weyland-Yutani Report.

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