Tag Archive: Alien Nation


Review by C.J. Bunce

I Love the ’80s was a ten-hour VH-1 series that waxed nostalgic for all things pop culture in the decade, and a new five-hour documentary strives to do the same thing with the sci-fi genre movies of the decade as its focus.  In Search of Tomorrow: A Journey Through ’80s Sci-Fi Cinema is the result of a crowd-sourced project, now available for pre-order exclusively at the project’s website here.  It is one of several projects we’ve seen like it over the years, the best being Must-See Sci-Fi (reviewed here), Turner Classic Movies’ guide to 50 significant science fiction movies, and James Cameron’s Story of Science Fiction (reviewed here), a book and series which gives insight into the genre’s most significant creations via interviews with the directors that made them.  In Search of Tomorrow features only a handful of A-listers in its interviews–the advertised top talent being Peter Weller, Billy Dee Williams, Dee Wallace, and Nicholas Meyer.  It pulls together a group of the few remaining actors, visual effects artists, and other creators behind the scenes who fans of the genre probably haven’t seen in decades (yes, it’s been more than 30 years since the 1980s).  Writer/director David Weiner focuses on a swath of 54 movies that reflects the best–and the worst–of the decade.

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Review by C.J. Bunce

It’s the largest direct to television film yet made, the $90 million new Christmas weekend Netflix-only release Bright.  And it’s a welcome addition to the world of mash-ups.  It’s a fantasy, action, police procedural.  It’s a Will Smith movie and a high-octane Assault on Precinct 13 and Training Day-inspired shoot-’em-up.  It’s The Lord of the Rings meets Adam-12.  And it’s also like a new film in the Alien Nation series or an episode of the short-lived Syfy series Defiance.  The biggest downfall is that the opportunities for new stories within its massive world building merits more than just a one-shot story.

Joel Edgerton is fantastic as an Orc LAPD officer named Nick Jakoby who’s partnered with a human cop named Daryl Ward, played by Will Smith.  It’s a parallel world where the past 2,000 years of Earth history have been blended with the trope world of classic high fantasy stories.  Evil little fairies annoy and harass and cause mischief.  Elves are refined and tend to run everything.  Dragons fly unassuming across the night sky.  Orcs are the dregs of society and humans are stuck somewhere in the middle.  A Bright can be of any race, and federal agents responsible for magic are attempting to make certain a certain evil Bright is not reunited with a magic wand–an event that could return a dark power to annihilate the planet.

When Daryl and Nick pick up a Bright carrying a magic wand, gangs of humans and Orcs will stop at nothing to possess the wand–a rare object that can grant its owner any and every wish.  But only a Bright can handle a wand, and like the One Ring from The Hobbit series, the temptation to take the wand is great–too great for some poor saps without self-control.  The movie moves into a full-length action chase scene, with Daryl and Nick mirroring the cops in a very similar situation from Alien Nation.  And also like Alien Nation, the subtext is a reflection of all of the ills of society.

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smith-and-friend

We first previewed Bright last winter here at borg.com.  It’s a police procedural.  It’s high fantasy.  It’s even an urban fantasy.  And it’s a supernatural action movie.  In Bright, the December release starring Will Smith, we get to see a mash-up of the science fiction classic Alien Nation and the short-lived Karl Urban series Almost Human.  This time the lead cop, played by Will Smith, is not partners with an alien but an Orc.  That’s an Orc of Middle Earth fame played by Joel Edgerton, the co-star of last year’s brilliant film Midnight Special (and you may know him as young Uncle Owen from the Star Wars prequels).  It has the look of John Carpenter’s They Live and Attack on Precinct 13.

So get ready for fantasy–not science fiction, other than the parallel Earth–a Los Angeles where Humans, Orcs, Fairies, and Elves have lived and co-existed throughout our history.  It’s good ol’ classic fantasy, so there’s an epic quest for a talisman–a wand–a powerful and illegal wand, and the two LAPD cops are searching for it as they protect a female Elf.  And Will Smith gets to wield a sword.

ward-sword

Bright is directed by David Ayer (director of Suicide Squad, Fury, Street Kings, and writer for Training Day, The Fast and the Furious) and written by Max Landis (Victor Frankenstein, Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency), with co-stars Noomi Rapace (Alien: Covenant, Prometheus, Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows), Edgar Ramirez (The Girl on the Train, Domino), Dawn Olivieri (Heroes), and Ike Barinholtz (Suicide Squad).  

Here’s the latest trailer for Bright: 

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smith-and-friend

It’s a police procedural.  It’s high fantasy.  It’s even an urban fantasy.  And a supernatural action movie.  That’s a heckuva mash-up.

It’s Bright, a new movie starring Will Smith.  Although this kind of fantasy tale has appeared in novels, we haven’t seen this story on the big screen.  Maybe Highlander?  Defiance?  On paper it looks like the science fiction classic Alien Nation and the short-lived Karl Urban series Almost Human–except the lead cop, played by Will Smith here, is not partners with an alien but an–wait for it–an Orc.  That’s an Orc–those typically vile fantasy bad guys from Middle Earth–played by Joel Edgerton, the co-star of last year’s brilliant film Midnight Special (and you know him as young Uncle Owen from the Star Wars prequels).  And it has the look of John Carpenter’s They Live (official images of the Orc makeup have not yet been released for publication).

That’s right.  We’re talking fantasy, not science fiction, other than the parallel Earth.  The setting for Bright is a parallel universe Los Angeles where Humans, Orcs, Fairies, and Elves have lived and co-existed throughout our history.  It’s good ol’ classic fantasy, so there’s an epic quest for a talisman–a wand–a powerful and illegal wand, and the two LAPD cops are searching for it as they protect a female Elf.  And Will Smith gets to wield a sword.

ward-sword

Bright is directed by David Ayer (director of Suicide Squad, Fury, Street Kings, and writer for Training Day, The Fast and the Furious) and written by Max Landis (Victor Frankenstein, Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency), with co-stars Noomi Rapace (Alien: Covenant, Prometheus, Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows), Edgar Ramirez (The Girl on the Train, Domino), Dawn Olivieri (Heroes), and Ike Barinholtz (Suicide Squad).  Continue reading

Alien Nation

In honor of the one hundredth anniversary of the studio, Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment will celebrate by releasing 100 classics digitally.  Five classic films from the studio will be made available digitally for the first time ever – Sunrise (1927), Drums Along the Mohawk (1939), Man Hunt (1941), How to Marry a Millionaire (1953) and the original Jimmy Stewart classic The Flight of the Phoenix (1965).  Throughout the rest of this year a total of 100 digital releases will follow from Fox’s film catalog, including 10 films which have never been released in any format – the Raoul Walsh classics The Red Dance (1928), The Cock-Eyed World (1929), The Bowery (1933), Hello Sister (1933) and Sailor’s Luck (1933); John Ford’s Men Without Women (1935), Will Rogers in State Fair (1933), Shirley Temple in Mr. Belvedere Goes to College (1949), the Marilyn Monroe documentary Marilyn (1963), and Metropolitan (1935), the first film ever from Twentieth Century Fox.

Other films being released include Oscar-winning and nominated favorites from legendary filmmakers F.W Murnau, Frank Borzage and Akira Kurosawa, and movie stars including Henry Fonda, Kathleen Turner, Marlon Brando, Tyrone Power, Jimmy Stewart, Michael Douglas, Betty Grable, Orson Welles, Clark Gable, Frank Sinatra, Joan Fontaine, and Sophia Loren.

Romancing the Stone Douglas Turner

Check out this big list of films to look forward to, including many fairly recent favorites, all available soon, with some of our recommendations highlighted:

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The 5th Wave invasion

The aliens have arrived.

It’s flat-out one of our favorite sci-fi sub-genres.  The alien invasion flick.

The Day the Earth Stood Still (1951), The Thing from Another World (1951), Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1978), Close Encounters of the Third Kind (1977), E.T, the Extra-Terrestrial (1982), Predator (1987), Alien Nation (1988), They Live (1988), Independence Day (1996), Star Trek: First Contact (1996), Men in Black (1997), Starship Troopers (1997), Signs (2002), War of the Worlds (2005), Cloverfield (2008), District 9 (2009), Cowboys & Aliens (2011), Edge of Tomorrow (2014).  These are some of the most exciting and fun sci-fi movies to watch and re-watch.

Kick-Ass and The Equalizer’s Chloë Grace Moretz stars in a new Sony/Columbia Pictures release, The 5th Wave, which looks like it’s mixing the alien invasion film with the disaster movie, the epidemic movie, and the body snatcher movie.  The only thing missing is zombies.  But body snatchers are close enough.

Alien ship in The 5th Wave

The 5th Wave co-stars Office Space star Ron Livingston, X-Men Origins and The Sum of All Fears’ Liev Shreiber, and Prime Suspect and Assault on Precinct 13’s Maria Bello.  Is Moretz a normal Earthling or one of us taken over by the aliens?

Check out this first trailer for The 5th Wave:

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Stephen Amell Nerd HQ 2014

Nerd HQ wrapped this weekend’s panels for charity with some good Q&A sessions.  If you haven’t seen earlier Nerd HQ panels, we at borg.com have been covering them since 2011 here when we saw Scott Bakula in San Diego at the inaugural event.  Check out this link for past panels.  We even got immortalized at the beginning of Zachary Levi’s introduction of Bakula as Levi was momentarily startled by a certain Tenctonese alien in the crowd in this video (“Ma’am, do you realize you have no hair on your head?”):

We’re still finding photos on the Web Comic-Con visitors snapping photos of us in that Alien Nation cosplay.

This weekend posted the first days of the panels from this year’s Nerd HQ here and here.  Nerd HQ wrapped with more panels Sunday.  Making his first appearance at Nerd HQ was the man playing one of our favorite characters, Arrow’s Oliver Queen, Stephen Amell:

The Winchester brothers returned again for this Supernatural panel with Mark Sheppard

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Almost Human partners

This year’s TV series Almost Human had the potential to be a big hit, with movie star Karl Urban as one of the two lead actors, and a classic sci-fi plot that looked like it would mix RoboCop, Alien Nation, Blade Runner, and Total Recall.  After a fun but uncertain pilot episode, it has managed to deliver each week the kind of science fiction stories that are stuff of classic TV.  Almost Human isn’t just sci-fi, it’s a full-blown police procedural drama, and a good old-fashioned buddy cop show to boot.

The series centers on megastar-film actor Karl Urban’s future cop, Detective John Kennex.  Kennex is a grumpy guy with baggage, a past encounter gone bad resulted in the death of his partner and the need for a cybernetic leg.  Early detractors of the series likened his Kennex too much to his similarly gruff Doctor McCoy from the new Star Trek movies.  It’s a fair comparison.  But we don’t care.  They are both great characterizations and the miserable, tough guy routine is separable and fun to watch, especially Kennex’s banter with co-star Michael Ealy as almost human robot cop Dorian, an android of a decommissioned type who has become Kennex’s partner.  In fact, the buddy cop routine will make you think of your favorite buddy cop shows, in the league of Alien Nation, Adam-12, Life on Mars, Hot Fuzz, Dragnet, Life, White Collar, and Starsky and Hutch.

Almost Human buddy cops

This week’s episode was emblematic of why the series is destined to continue as long as the network will let it.  The writers basically took the plot from a classic episode of Law and Order about pacemakers being refurbished and placed in new people.  Here, that concept is blended with a current political item: what happens if there is no Affordable Care Act in the future, and a current element of technology some people use every day: the prepaid cell phone.  So how did the writers put it all together?

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Syfy Channel Book of Sci-Fi cover

Review by C.J. Bunce

If you think you’ve watched all the science fiction movies worth watching, odds are there’s something out there you’ve missed.  You’ve probably seen the modern blockbusters from Star Wars to Terminator and maybe the older classics, like The Day the Earth Stood Still (the original) and Forbidden Planet, and every sci-fi flick that has landed in theaters since your eyes first opened to the amazing genre as a kid.  But are you sure you’ve seen everything?

The Syfy Channel has teamed up with Universe Publishing to release a giant book of 100 years of sci-fi movies and TV, from A Trip to the Moon to Hugo, in The Science Fiction Universe… and Beyond: Syfy Channel Book of Sci-Fi And although the Syfy Channel continues to look outside the boundaries of Syfy for new TV dramas and reality series, this 256-page, full-color, coffee table hardcover is out to remind everyone why we like the Syfy Channel in the first place.  And better yet, when you’ve run out of the obvious to watch on TV or stream on Netflix, you can use the book as a guide to catch up on the obscure and the overlooked.

RoboCop with Ronny Cox

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Review by C.J. Bunce

Jonathan Frakes has directed nine of the 60 episodes of Leverage in its first four seasons. Leverage is a good series that lacks some consistency, maybe because it has several creators that have been rotated in and out in the ordinary course of the series. Each of the episodes directed by Frakes demonstrates a knowledge of the material, which includes a level of informality and humor between the characters that is rare in episodic television.  You wonder whether he learned it as cast member Commander Will Riker in his seven seasons and four Star Trek: The Next Generations films, a place where he got to work with a close-knit family of actors that reflect their camaraderie on-screen.  If you happened to see this season’s finale, then you witnessed a perfect episode of TV, with a great ensemble cast, and everyone in prime form.  Frakes and me at Comic-Con in 2008:

Leverage is a good series in its simplicity.  It’s a fun show and never takes itself very seriously.  We’ve compared it before to shows like The A-Team.  There is a mission, these are the good guys, they are understood.  They always get the job done.  And episodes are peppered with the best character actors.  And one of our favorites of any series popped up in this season’s finale–Mark Sheppard as Jim Sterling.

This season’s finale, “The Queen’s Gambit Job,” was a great action drama on several fronts:

Academy Award winning actor Timothy Hutton’s Nathan Ford got to revel in his mastermind role, playing a high stakes game of chess in a Casino Royale story with the fate of a nuclear weapon up in the air.

Parker gets to get stuck in a vault, only to figure her way out and end up on the roof of the second tallest building in the world, the Skyspire of Dubai.  And she gets to free fall over the edge because of a parachute packed by Hardison.

Hacker Hardison (Aldis Hodge) and thief Parker (Beth Riesgraf) get closer and become even more of a team, thinking like each other and covering each others’ backs.

Hitter Eliot (Christian Kane) actually loses this round for once, to none other than Sheppard’s Sterling.  Eliot and Sheppard’s verbal sparring rival any actual fighting Eliot has encountered in the series so far, as well as his verbal sparring with Hardison in several episodes.  This episode shows Sheppard at his best–his normal dark and quiet demeanor gets stretched here and he seems to really lose it when engaging with Eliot in the car.

The only character who doesn’t get much screen time this round is grifter Sophie (Gina Bellman).  For the most part her role is the weakest and some focus from the writing team on her character next season is overdue.

There is always a double cross on Leverage, and clues are carefully laid out for the viewer to catch what is really happening before the big reveal.  The team always gets caught, but are they really?  In this episode, even though team members feel a loss, everyone actually wins.  It is a good spin on the normal Leverage story.  The cast has such chemistry at this point you just hope they can keep it up for a few more seasons.  And while they are at it, since this was his second appearance, why not make Sheppard a series regular cast member?

And how about Frakes as the permanent series director?  His other episodes were also top-notch shows: The Lonely Hearts Job, The Wedding Job, The Snow Job, The Juror #6 Job, The Fairy Godparents Job, The Bottle Job, The Reunion Job, The Studio Job and The Morning After Job.

For the fun of it, here is E.C. Bunce and me at Comic-Con where we ran into Mark Sheppard in the Gaslight District in our Chuck meets Alien Nation garb.  Photo courtesy of the gracious Mrs. Sheppard:

BTW, Sheppard said he read this borg.com article on him in a prior post.  Definitely our favorite guest star on nearly every all of our favorite TV series.

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