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Tag Archive: Andy Serkis


Review by C.J. Bunce

Already taking in more than $1 billion at the box office, Marvel’s Black Panther is one of the biggest and most successful movies to come out of any genre or studio.  This is the third day and final look at the major tie-in books that have been developed for Black Panther fans here at borg.com.  The first book (reviewed here) consists primarily of concept art for the film, the second book (reviewed here) features the history of Black Panther in the comic books, and this next book, Black Panther: The Official Movie Special showcases the film in photographs with a behind the scenes view of the making of the film.

Fans of the film will love the many 8″ x 11″ stills featuring key characters and scenes.  The book includes interviews with actors Chadwick Boseman, Michael B. Jordan, Lupita Nyong’o, Letitia Wright, Angela Bassett, Danai Gurira, Florence Kasumba, Andy Serkis, Martin Freeman, Daniel Kaluuya, and Winston Duke, stunt/fight coordinator Clayton J. Barber, costume designer Ruth Carter, special effects coordinator Jesse Noel, Marvel Studios president and “mastermind” Kevin Feige, and director Ryan Coogler.

Part souvenir book, part photo guide, Black Panther: The Official Movie Special also includes sections on the setting of the film in Wakanda and on the film’s newly designed fantasy-world props.  The section on Ruth Carter includes images of costumes and some of her early concept designs.  Other interviews are interspersed throughout the book with behind-the-scenes set photos.

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Review by C.J. Bunce

Ryan Coogler, the young writer-director of the excellent Rocky sequel Creed, has put his Creed star Michael B. Jordan against Chadwick Boseman, who played Jackie Robinson in 42 and Thurgood Marshall in last year’s film Marshall.  The result?  The next great Marvel superhero movie, Black Panther, opening this weekend in theaters everywhere.  Boseman is back as King T’Challa, the suave and poised Black Panther of the comic books who audiences first met in 2016’s Captain America: Civil War.  The new film fills in the blanks of T’Challa’s origin story, populated with a dozen of the best characters from any of the Marvel Cinematic Universe entries, matched to some of today’s best actors.  On the heels of last year’s wildly successful surprise hit Thor: Ragnarok, Black Panther is just as good if not better, but completely different.  It’s a more serious tale, a one-off in the MCU similarly spliced into the ongoing Avengers narrative as was done with 2016’s supernatural Doctor Strange.  It also supplies a new, rich superhero mythology populated primarily with black characters–a film first featuring a black superhero title character in a major studio release.  Coogler’s layered, multifaceted film is even more successful at accomplishing what Zack Snyder tried to do last year with the DC Universe film Wonder Woman, which first put a woman in a title role in a major superhero movie.  Coogler makes great strides with Black Panther, not just a mere first step.

Beginning with a father teaching his son about a hidden country in Africa called Wakanda, we learn that a powerful resource called vibranium gives the people of this land incredible power, which they hide from the known world.  The story is straight out of Shakespeare or Roman and Greek histories: three princes compete for the throne of Wakanda when the King dies in a terrorist attack at the United Nations.  Boseman’s T’Challa is the heir-apparent who is challenged for the throne first by Prince M’Baku (Winston Duke), then by Jordan’s Erik Stevens, a special forces soldier from the States whose death toll in battle earned him the nickname Killmonger.  Not just a one-note villain found so often in superhero movies, Erik has his own complex backstory that converges with T’Challa’s efforts to capture the film’s villain, Ulysses Klaue (pronounced “claw”), one of Marvel’s best villains yet, played by Middle-earth native Gollum and The Planet of the Apes’s series’ star Andy Serkis.  Although his antics are unique, here Klaue is the crazed villain you’d expect from a superhero story.  Erik also assumes a villain role, but his story and particularly his life in parallel to the new King is more biblical in its roots.  Erik’s father is N’Jobu, a compelling supporting character at odds with Wakanda, played by Marshall co-star and Supernatural’s Sterling K. Brown, and his past sets up a compelling tragedy arc within the film for Erik.

For those who go to superhero movies for badass superheroics, it’s the women of the film that fill that niche.  Our own early borg.com nominee for the annual badass heroine of the year goes to the fan-favorite actor from The Walking Dead, Danai Gurira, as Wakanda General Okoye.  Her steely resolve and loyalty alone is enough to get us to race back to the theater to watch her all over again in the theater tomorrow.  A Wakanda spy and confidante of the King is Nakia, played by Star Wars: The Force Awakens and The Jungle Book star Lupita Nyong’o, a fierce and savvy ally.  But a favorite of the film for many will no doubt be T’Challa’s young sister Shuri, played by Letitia Wright (Doctor Who, Ready Player One, Humans, The Commuter).  The film doesn’t completely find its voice and reach full throttle until Shuri lets out a howl in a conversation with her brother.  By that point the entire audience is onboard.  Shuri is very much derived from Q in the James Bond movies, supplying her brother with the latest tech.  After movie audiences got a peek at what a woman would look like as James Bond with South African actress Charlize Theron as a superspy in last year’s Atomic Blonde, those looking for the first black James Bond need go no further than Boseman’s smooth and stylish take on T’Challa Coogler even inserts a spectacular casino mission scene straight out of 2012’s Skyfall, and borrows another great character from the Bond playbook with The Hobbit and Sherlock actor Martin Freeman as a very, very Felix Leiter-esque American CIA agent named Everett Ross.  A scene pitting Freeman opposite Serkis again will be a fun reunion for fans of Peter Jackson’s Tolkien movies.

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The granddaddy of American genre franchises offers up its next entry next week.  Billed as the final chapter, War for the Planet for the Apes at a minimum will bring the reboot universe into a complete trilogy story, focused on star Andy Serkis as Caesar.  The story continues two years after the events in Dawn of the Planet of the Apes (directed by Reeves), the sequel to the first of the reboot series, Rise of the Planet of the Apes (co-produced by Clark).  So unlike many franchises these days, the same people are creating the beginning, the middle, and the end.  Thanks to director Matt Reeves and producer Dylan Clark, we should have some continuity among the films.

War for the Planet for the Apes introduces to the films Woody Harrelson as a military leader bringing mankind’s last stand to the apes.  War for the Planet of the Apes co-stars Karin Konoval (The X-Files, Tru Calling, Fringe, Supernatural, Psych, Arrow), Judy Greer (Ant-Man, Tomorrowland, Jurassic World), Chad Rook (Timeless, Supernatural), Ty Olsson (Continuum, Supernatural, Battlestar Galactica) and Steve Zahn (That Thing You Do!, Sahara).  

The final poster is out (above, top) and a few more trailers revealed.  We have a full scene below featuring the introduction of Zahn, known for his comedic performances, revealed as a new ape referred to as “Bad Ape,” a reference given by humans while he was kept at a zoo.  Quickly we see what all the buzz is about with respect to the show’s special effects and Andy Serkis’s unique acting talent.  Will the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences award Serkis with a full acting Oscar, breaking the barrier for motion capture performances?  Also, make sure you watch below the very sly teaser of sorts incorporating what looks at first blush to be someone’s YouTube upload from a visit to a zoo.  First up, here is a great look behind the scenes at the motion capture technology and Andy Serkis’s role:

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Theaters in the U.S. and the U.K. will see an opening night triple feature next month leading up to this summer’s blockbuster War for the Planet of the Apes.  AMC and Cinemark have already started selling tickets for their shows beginning this weekend.  The night will begin with 2011’s Rise of the Planet of the Apes followed by 2014’s Dawn of the Planet of the Apes, and end with the premiere of the latest film in the popular franchise that has surprised audiences for 50 years.

The first film will be screened in 2D with the later films screened in Real 3D.  It’s nearly eight hours of damned dirty apes, but we’re thinking you’ll be cheering them on in the newest film, the ninth theatrical release in the series and third of the reboot movies.

The granddaddy of American genre franchises offers up its next entry with star Andy Serkis reprising his role as Caesar, with director Matt Reeves and producer Dylan Clark.  The story continues two years after the events in Dawn of the Planet of the Apes, also directed by Reeves, the sequel to the first of the reboot series, Rise of the Planet of the Apes (Dylan Clark was a producer on that film, too).  The film introduces Woody Harrelson as an arrogant military leader bringing mankind’s last stand to the apes.  War for the Planet of the Apes also stars Karin Konoval (The X-Files, Tru Calling, Fringe, Supernatural, Psych, Arrow), Judy Greer (Ant-Man, Tomorrowland, Jurassic World), Chad Rook (Timeless, Supernatural), Ty Olsson (Continuum, Supernatural, Battlestar Galactica) and Steve Zahn (That Thing You Do!, Sahara).

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We already got a first look at Chadwick Boseman in the role of T’Challa, the ruler of the kingdom of Wakanda whose alter ego is the Black Panther, in last year’s great superhero mash-up Captain America: Civil War.  Next year Marvel Studios is giving Boseman his own solo movie in a film called Black Panther, as the comic book character created by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby in the pages of Fantastic Four A first trailer and poster (above) were released this past week.

We don’t know much about the plot for this new film, other than T’Challa must defend his kingdom from being torn apart by enemies outside and within.  Boseman, who was excellent as Jackie Robinson in the 2013 biopic 42, will have an impressive supporting cast.  Adonis himself, Creed star Michael B. Jordan will play Erik Killmonger, Star Wars: The Force Awakens stars Lupita Nyong’o is Nakia and Andy Serkis is Klaw, Rogue One: A Star Wars Story’s Forest Whitaker is Zuri, The Hobbit and Sherlock’s Martin Freeman is Everett K. Ross, and Green Lantern’s Doctor Waller, Angela Bassett is Ramonda.

Here is the first trailer for Black Panther:

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WETA’s perfected motion capture technology is sure to drive fans of one of science fiction’s most enduring franchises to the theaters this summer when War for the Planet of the Apes takes the planet by storm.  The third installment of the reboot Planet of the Apes movie series now has a second trailer.  The granddaddy of American genre franchises offers up its next entry with star Andy Serkis reprising his role as Caesar, with director Matt Reeves and producer Dylan Clark.

The story continues two years after the events in 2014’s Dawn of the Planet of the Apes, also directed by Reeves, the sequel to the first of the reboot series, 2011’s Rise of the Planet of the Apes (Dylan Clark was a producer on that film, too).  The film introduces Woody Harrelson as an arrogant, General Custer-esque military leader bringing mankind’s last stand to the apes.  He doesn’t look all that sympathetic, and we’re sure we will be cheering for the apes in this picture.  Caesar and orangutan Maurice (Karin Konoval) lead a raid on a village of humans and it looks like certain doom for the humans.  As fans of the series know, when an outcome is inevitable, it’s quality story telling and effects that will be key to making this a great film.

War for the Planet of the Apes also stars Judy Greer (Ant-Man, Tomorrowland, Jurassic World), Chad Rook (Timeless, Supernatural), Ty Olsson (Continuum, Supernatural, Battlestar Galactica) and Steve Zahn (That Thing You Do!, Sahara).

Here is the second trailer for War for the Planet of the Apes:

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Motion capture fans take note: WETA looks like it has perfected the technology and we have plenty of great special effects to look forward to in War for the Planet of the Apes. The third installment of the reboot Planet of the Apes movie series now has a full trailer. The granddaddy of American genre franchises offers up its next entry with star Andy Serkis, director Matt Reeves, and producer Dylan Clark.  Serkis is again Caesar, the star character of the original movie series.

The story continues two years after the events in 2014’s Dawn of the Planet of the Apes, also directed by Reeves, the sequel to the first of the reboot series, 2011’s Rise of the Planet of the Apes (Dylan Clark was a producer on that film, too).  The film introduces Woody Harrelson as what appears to be an arrogant, General Custer-esque military leader bringing mankind’s last stand to the apes.  He doesn’t look all that sympathetic, and we’re sure we will be cheering for the apes in this picture.  Caesar and orangutan Maurice (Karin Konoval) appear to lead a group of armed apes to raid a village of humans, or it the other way around?

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War for the Planet of the Apes also stars Judy Greer (Ant-Man, Tomorrowland, Jurassic World), Chad Rook (Timeless, Supernatural), Ty Olsson (Continuum, Supernatural, Battlestar Galactica) and Steve Zahn (That Thing You Do!, Sahara).

Here is the first full-length trailer for War for the Planet of the Apes:

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The third installment of the reboot Planet of the Apes movie series now has a teaser to go with its name.  The wordy-but-consistent with the franchise title War for the Planet of the Apes was featured at New York Comic Con today, with star Andy Serkis, director Matt Reeves, and producer Dylan Clark revealing the teaser plus a scene showcasing Serkis’s lead character Caesar taking on a new nemesis.

Woody Harrelson plays an aggressive ape leader referred to as Colonel.  The film pits the Colonel against lead protagonist ape Caesar, with plenty of sparring over the course of the film.  In the brief clip shown to Con attendees, Caesar and orangutan Maurice (Karin Konoval) lead a group of armed apes to raid a village of humans.  The story continues two years after the events in 2014’s Dawn of the Planet of the Apes, also directed by Reeves, the sequel to the first of the reboot series, 2011’s Rise of the Planet of the Apes (Dylan Clark was a producer on that film, too).

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Matt Reeves, Andy Serkis, and Dylan Clark before the release of the teaser in Times Square Thursday. (Andy Serkis, Twitter)

War for the Planet of the Apes also stars Judy Greer (Ant-Man, Tomorrowland, Jurassic World), Chad Rook (Timeless, Supernatural), Ty Olsson (Continuum, Supernatural, Battlestar Galactica) and Steve Zahn (That Thing You Do!, Sahara).

Here is the teaser for War for the Planet of the Apes:

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Simpsons characters

It’s time to take your vacation, to call in sick, or do whatever you have to do.  It’s Matt Groening’s The Simpsons.  And it’s all 26 seasons, including the movie, in order.  Oh my.  It all begins today.

Take a trip back in time to 1989.  And re-live every pop culture reference, every celebrity satire, and every angst-ridden moment since.  Donut-eating Homer, big blue haired Marge, skateboard wielding Bart, unappreciated Lisa, and never-aging baby Maggie.

Re-live the first time you met Mr. Burns, Sideshow Bob, and Ralph Wiggum.

Simpsons couch

Experience again the Simpsons world voices of those now passed, like Phil Hartman, George Carlin, Paul Winfield, Johnny Cash, Gary Coleman, Dick Clark, Marcia Wallace, Rodney Dangerfield, Joey Ramone, Ernest Borgnine, Johnny Carson, Werner Klemperer, Larry Hagman, Audrey Meadows, Michael Jackson, Harry Morgan, and George Harrison.

Where else could you find all these celebrities in one place?  Liam Neeson, Mark Hamill, Andy Serkis, Mr. T, Paul Newman, Ben Stiller, Drew Barrymore, Michael Keaton, Bette Midler, Brian Setzer, Richard Gere, Tim Conway, Martin Mull, Helen Hunt, Robert Wagner, Lenny Kravitz, Isabella Rossellini, Paul McCartney, Darryl Strawberry, Bob Newhart, Meg Ryan, Dustin Hoffman, Steve Martin, John Ratzenberger, Tom Petty, Kirk Douglas, Steven Wright, Rachel Weisz, Hugh Laurie, Eddie Izzard, Mel Gibson, Willem Dafoe, Robert Forster, Martha Stewart, the Dixie Chicks, Linda Ronstadt, Max Von Sydow, Donald Sutherland, Mandy Patinkin, Tony Blair, Little Richard, Gary Busey, Henry Winkler, Emily Blunt, Colm Meaney, Benedict Cumberbatch, Lady Gaga, Brent Spiner, Marisa Tomei, Kurt Loder, Gillian Anderson, Treat Williams, J.K. Rowling, Cloris Leachman, Sir Mix a Lot, Tom Arnold, Topher Grace, and Sting.  Ruin anyone’s chance to compete with you at “Seven Degrees of Kevin Bacon” with this series, people.

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Art of the Films Planet of the Apes cover

Review by C.J. Bunce

We all know the apes win and rule the Earth from the original novel and film Planet of the Apes.  But how do they get there?

Not intended as a post-apocalyptic story as much as a chronicle of the birth of an ape civilization, Rise of the Planet of the Apes and its July 2014 sequel Dawn of the Planet of the Apes are films that manage to have no villains–by design–where the viewer can empathize with both the human and ape characters equally based on the characters’ histories and individual viewpoints.  Writers Sharon Gosling and Adam Newell have created a deluxe volume documenting the art and design of both movies with the newly released Planet of the Apes: The Art of the Films Rise of the Planet of the Apes and Dawn of Planet of the Apes.

The Planet of the Apes reboot was an outgrowth of the technologies emerging from Weta New Zealand’s work on The Lord of the Rings franchise, coupled with Andy Serkis’s experience playing Gollum as a motion capture character, and later the giant gorilla King Kong, Serkis was uniquely suited for the role of the sci-fi classic character Caesar from the original novel and film.  The crew credits the acting and chemistry of Serkis and co-star James Franco in part with the success of the reboot of the Planet of the Apes franchise in 2011’s Rise of the Planet of the Apes.

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The challenge for the sequel Dawn of the Planet of the Apes?  For the first time in film history, digital characters finalized in a post-production process would be realized by total performance motion capture of actors initially, and not on a separate green screen soundstage, but alongside live-action characters on a standard movie set as well as on location.

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