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Tag Archive: Alan Silvestri


Review by C.J. Bunce

Shane Black has finally delivered what fans of the Predator alien have been after since they first saw Arnold Schwarzenegger take the creature on in the original 1987 film that featured Black in an acting role as one of the marines.  The movie The Predator, in theaters now, delivers exactly as promised.  More Predators.  Bigger and badder alien fight scenes.  Great new sci-fi special effects tech.  A wall-to-wall movie of rude jokes and one-liners.  A squad of maladjusted, badass misfits in the realm of The Dirty Dozen (if every character was played as Telly Savalas’s character), only this time the squad isn’t recruited for a suicide mission to fight the bad guys.  The surprise comes with an actual, serviceable plot that knocks the predecessor sequels out of the ranking (some elements… gasp… it even handles better than the original).

For diehard fans of the franchise who read the prequel novel (a great read we reviewed here earlier at borg) the movie lives up to the introduction provided in the book, which gave plenty of backstory for Sterling K. Brown’s pseudo-military leader Will Traeger–one of the movie’s key villains.  Screenplay writers Shane Black and Fred Dekker include an ambitious, layered story with interesting subplots.  One thread follows a boy played by played by Jacob Tremblay, the autistic son of star Boyd Holbrook’s tough Captain McKenna.  The kid begins to play with what can only be described as “really cool alien tech” his dad sends him in the mail.  Olivia Munn gets to play her most badass character yet, a biologist called in to work with the research group that has caught a Predator, being studied in a lab led by Jake Busey, who plays the son of the character his father Gary Busey played in Predator 2–Jake Busey offers a solid performance as a low-key scientist that could make it back for a future sequel.  Another subplot follows the alien hunters as they each search for some secret objects.  The ensemble ad hoc military unit that takes on the Predator includes a diverse team of actors pulling together a chaotic brand of chemistry: Trevante Rhoades, Thomas Jane, Augusto Aguilera, and Keegan-Michael Key.  Another subplot sets up the next film nicely, a new phase for Predators this film only touches on.

The reason we see more than one kind of Predator is explained in the film, but each has incredible updated props and costumes, and the plot makes great use of both.  It’s all loyal to the original.  The best part of the 1987 film was the absence of the alien throughout the film, appearing sporadically, menacingly, like the shark in Jaws.  We don’t see much more of the alien in this movie, but we get to see what he looks like head to toe in the lab, we get to see how his arm gauntlet and helmet work, and plenty of action scenes as in the original.  One character even gets into the head of a Predator (sort of) to understand its technology and motivations.

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Synthesizing and consolidating 30 years of X-Men lore, writer/artist Ed Piskor surprised everyone last year with his first issue of a groundbreaking new series X-Men: Grand Design With a retro look only he–or several of the best classic artists of the past coming together–could create, Piskor brought to a new generation of comic book readers a way to catch up on a lifetime of Marvel Comics.  All in a single mini-series.  It’s all coming together in six issues.  The first two issues, discussed here at borg.com and available in a new trade compilation at Amazon here, were successful sell-throughs, immediately going to second printing.  The middle chapter (Issues #3 and #4) subtitled Second Genesis begins tomorrow with Issue #3.  Take a look below at some preview pages from tomorrow’s issue.

The series is printed on a classic newsprint type of paper stock with unique inks and trademark white inks that really pop on the page.  What Piskor has called a love letter to the medium of comics as much as a love letter to decades of X-Men comics, the series was inspired by several artists, including the obvious ones:, Robert Crumb and Jack Kirby, but also Jim Steranko, John Byrne, Alan Silvestri, Jim Lee, Katushiro Otomo, and Moebius.  When you flip through one of these issues it brings back sitting on the curb reading when you were a kid.

Elite Comics will have plenty of these available tomorrow in case you forgot to add them to your pull list.  If your nearby comic book shop doesn’t have it you may have a long wait, as the trade X-Men: Grand Design–Second Genesis Treasury Edition isn’t coming until October.

Here’s the preview:

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Review by C.J. Bunce

Ten years in the making.  Eighteen movies leading up to this weekend in the gigantic new blockbuster, Avengers: Infinity War.  Never before have superhero fans seen so many superheroes on-screen at once:  Iron Man (Robert Downey, Jr.), Thor (Chris Hemsworth), Hulk (Mark Ruffalo), Captain America (Chris Evans), Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson), Doctor Strange (Benedict Cumberbatch), War Machine (Don Cheadle), Spider-man (Tom Holland), Black Panther (Chadwick Boseman), Vision (Paul Bettany), Scarlet Witch (Elizabeth Olsen), Falcon (Anthony Mackey), Heimdall (Idris Elba), Nebula (Karen Gillan), Winter Soldier/Bucky Barnes (Sebastian Stan), Loki (Tom Hiddleston), Okoye (Danai Gurira), Wong (Benedict Wong), Shuri (Letitia Wright), Drax (Dave Bautista), Gamora (Zoe Saldana), Rocket (Bradley Cooper) and Groot (Vin Diesel), Mantis (Pom Klementieff), and Star-Lord (Chris Pratt).

So many movies, especially superhero movies, depend greatly on the success of the villains.  Spider-man: Homecoming is great in part because of Michael Keaton’s Vulture.  Black Panther is great in part because of Michael B. Jordan’s Killmonger.  And Thor: Ragnarok was great in part because of a load of solid villains: the CGI-created Surtur, Cate Blanchett’s Hela, and Jeff Goldblum’s Grandmaster (and even a great supporting tier of antagonists including Tessa Thompson’s Valkyrie, Tom Hiddleston’s Loki, and Karl Urban’s Skurge).  So now, at last, Josh Brolin moves past his cameos in Guardians of the Galaxy and Avengers: Age of Ultron to give us a big dose of one of comic books’ best-known villains, Thanos.

Marvel Studios promised to tie everything together, including every magical talisman holding the six Infinity Stones, of which filmgoers have encountered five so far: The blue Space Stone (seen held in the Tesseract in Captain America: The First Avenger), the yellow Mind Stone (seen in the Scepter in The Avengers), the red Reality Stone (seen held in the Aether in Thor: The Dark World), the purple Power Stone (seen in the Orb in Guardians of the Galaxy), and the green Time Stone (seen in the Eye of Agamotto in Doctor Strange).  

So did directors Anthony and Joe Russo deliver as promised? Continue reading

Review by C.J. Bunce

After its second week in theaters, Ready Player One is still chalking up sold-out screenings nationwide.  Whether or not you’re a video game fan, and whether or not you read Ernest Cline’s novel the film is based on, it’s a fun way to spend 2.5 hours.  Although his producer credits are hit-and-miss over the past few decades, director Steven Spielberg tends to take on films he loves, and handles them with due care.  Same goes for Ready Player One.  Along with his Oscar-nominated film The Post, Ready Player One proves there’s no slowing down for the director’s success in making good films.  Even if Ready Player One is not as great as the films from the 1980s that it honors (Spielberg’s choice to ignore references from his own films leaves a big, obvious gap throughout scene after scene), it’s a nice story, and a progression of the kind of coming-of-age story the director first created long ago with E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial.  Yet the backbone of the film doesn’t flow from the 1980s, but from a 1971 film classic: Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory, based on Roald Dahl’s 1964 book, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. 

In the year 2045, Wade Watts, played by Tye Sheridan (X-Men: Apocalypse), and a group of people he has only met as their avatars in a giant MMPORG (massively multiplayer online role-playing game) called OASIS, embark on a quest to solve the late OASIS founder’s puzzle in three steps, which would reward the winner with control of the OASIS and the hundreds of millions of dollars the company behind it (called IOI) is worth.  The big win is the authenticity of relationships between Sheridan and his co-stars, including Olivia Cooke (Bates Motel) as Art3mis (pronounced Artemis), Aech (sounds like the letter “H”) played by Lena Waithe (Master of None), Daito (Win Morisaki), and Sho (Philip Zhao) as they work together on their journey.  Cooke’s character comes alive as the high point of the film.  The villains are more textbook bad guys, led by Ben Mendelsohn (Rogue One: A Star Wars Story), with his hulking minion i-R0K (“I rock”) played by T.J. Miller (Deadpool), and a seriously underutilized Hannah John-Kamen as F’Nale.  i-R0K carries the bulk of the film’s best comedy lines.  Surprisingly the story misses the opportunity to give the viewer enough information to solve the three riddles of the film.  Instead we watch the characters move through a great big fictional world only they know about.  But the adventure is a good ride.  Look for Mark Rylance (Dunkirk) and Simon Pegg (Star Trek, Mission Impossible, Shaun of the Dead) as an interesting odd couple of Gates/Jobs-inspired visionaries.

Get ready for dizzying races and chases with the latest CGI and motion capture special effects–so much so that much of the movie feels like an animated movie.  We’ve come a long way from the 1980s version of the subject matter in Disney’s Tron–the first foray into a video game world.  But Ready Player One is similar in tone to Tron and another video game movie of the era, The Last Starfighter–all good family films with positive themes.  Here that’s the importance of community, leadership, and personal responsibility, and the negative side of new and emerging technologies like drones and having more than merely virtual social relationships.

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Online superstore Entertainment Earth has just posted the first line of products for Steven Spielberg’s new throwback, mash-up movie Ready Player One, and it’s filled with plenty fans of the book may want to get their hands on, including a sneak peek at some of the character designs that haven’t yet been featured in the movie trailers.  This includes a boxed set of four action figures featuring lead characters Parzival, Art3mis, Aech, and i-R0K, a whole load of Funko POP!s, and some nicely designed, prized key icons from the story.

  

The Funko POP!s feature several characters: Parzival, Art3mis, Aech, Shoto, i-R0K, Daito, a Sixer, Sorrento, and The Iron Giant.  The set of keys includes the sought-after Copper, Jade, and Crystal Keys–featured in the final trailer for the film.  Parzival is played by Tye Sheridan (X-Men: Apocalypse) in the film, Art3mis is played by Olivia Cooke (Bates Motel), T.J. Miller (Deadpool) is i-R0K, Lena Waithe (Master of None) is Aech, Win Morisaki (Gokusen: The Movie) is Daito, Asan N’Jie (Murder on the Orient Express), Josh Jefferies (Mowgli), Alphonso Austin (Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them), Annarie Boor (Wonder Woman), Fatah Ghedi (Liar), Maeve Bluebell Wells, and Joel MacCormack (Wolf Hall), all play Sixers, first-time actor Philip Zhao is Shoto, and Ben Mendelsohn (Rogue One: A Star Wars Story) is the villain Sorrento in the film.

   

You can check out the details and pre-order any of the new toys from Ready Player One now, just click on the images above and below to get larger photos and more information at the Entertainment Earth website.  Entertainment Earth ships all figures with a “Mint Condition Guarantee” (so collectors can avoid getting crumbled corners and boxes).

Paul Shipper created the final Drew Struzan-inspired poster for the film (above).  Shipper has created several posters in this classic 1980s style.  Check out his website here.  And, in case you missed it, here is the final trailer for Ready Player One:

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Back in Time

“It’s great to have a bunch of lunatics on your side.  They’re crazy, but they’re crazy good.” — Michael J. Fox

If you don’t know the lengths some fans will go to express their love for the target of their fandom, some documentaries on the subject may give you a jolt.  Filmmakers enjoy looking not at diehard fans of beloved movies and other properties, they seem to thrive on meting out the fringe of those fans.  If you’re already immersed in the fandom, these documentaries may be your thing.  But if you’re not, you may find more cringing than amazement.  Examples of this, for some, include the 1997 and 2004 Trekkies and Trekkies 2, and the more recent 2010 documentary by Gene Roddenberry’s son called Trek Nation.  With these looks at the fans themselves, viewers are left to wonder whether the fandom is a target being objectified for its oddity or a true love affair by and for the fans.

As part of the 30th anniversary of Back to the Future and Back to the Future Week, filmmaker Jason Aron is releasing the documentary Back in Time, the result of countless interviews with fans and even some interviews with the cast and execs behind the time-travel trilogy.  If Back to the Future is more than your favorite movie, you may want to track down this documentary this week in theaters or pre-order a copy here at Amazon.com to get it on its release date, Back to the Future Day, October 21, 2015.

Probert BTTF design

Andy Probert’s design for the DeLorean time machine.

Highlights include an interview with Michael J. Fox where he recounts the British release of Back to the Future attended by him and Princess Diana and Prince Charles, an interview with concept designer/artist Andy Probert (best known for his work on Star Trek and Battlestar Galactica) who worked on storyboards and the DeLorean time machine, and the story behind the screenplay as told by co-writer Bob Gale.  The documentary also includes more brief interviews clips with Huey Lewis, who had a hit with the show’s songs “Power of Love” and “Back in Time,” score composer Alan Silvestri, Donald Fullilove (who played Goldie Wilson), director Robert Zemeckis, executive producer Steven Spielberg, and cast members Christopher Lloyd, Lea Thompson, James Tolkan (Principal Strickland), and Claudia Wells (the first Jennifer).

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