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Tag Archive: Ben Mendelsohn


Like the works of Shakespeare, Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes, Rudyard Kipling’s Mowgli & Co., and Edgar Rice Burroughs’ Tarzan, the older, legendary tale of Robin Hood will return (sometimes many times) in a newly realized form for each new generation.  Long, long before Oliver Queen and Clint Barton, there was that wielder of bow and arrow, the original superhero, Robin of Loxley, or Robin Hood.  Lionsgate Films released its first preview trailer for its version of Robin Hood, coming late this year to theaters.  Starring Kingsman’s Taron Egerton as Robin, Jamie Foxx as Little John (with some very Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves-styled Morgan Freeman makeup), Ben Mendelsohn (today’s go-to bad guy) as the Sheriff of Nottingham, Eve Hewson as Marian, Tim Minchin as Friar Tuck, and Jamie Dornan as Will Scarlet, the next Robin Hood feature looks to be the least like its predecessors.

As much as prior incarnations attempted to provide a historically accurate look–for better or worse–for their films, usually targeting the story anywhere from the 14th to the 16th centuries, director Otto Bathurst’s version offers up some modern designs.  Costume designer Julian Day, known for some nicely realized, historically inspired designs in Pride and Prejudice and Zombies and the 1970s racing film Rush, seems to have avoided any historicity in designing costumes for his latest film.  When does it take place?  Apparently not in any real-time or location.

The classic adventure and romance seems to be weighted this toward action and more action, with much CGI and slow motion fight scenes, and if the first trailer is any indication, it’s going to be light on the fairy tale romance of past versions.  Take a look for yourself at the first trailer for this year’s Robin Hood:

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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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We first mentioned the movie Ready Player One six years ago in our review of the Ernest Cline novel here at borg.com. Warner Bros. kicked off San Diego Comic-Con with director Steven Spielberg showing the first teaser trailer for the movie. The audiobook, read by Wil Wheaton and currently available free here at Amazon with an Audible sign-up, has been a huge hit with fans, almost taking on a life of its own.  We saw the second trailer last December, and the Easter Eggs started to pile up.

Iron Giant, Freddy Krueger, the Back to the Future DeLorean.  Lots of references for gamers in particular.  Warner Bros. released the third and likely final trailer for the film this weekend.  VR is the theme this time around.

Ready Player One stars X-Men: Apocalypse’s Tye Sheridan, Black Panther’s Letitia Wright, Killjoys, Tomb Raider, Ant-Man and the Wasp, Game of Thrones, and Star Wars: The Force Awakens’ Hannah John-Kamen, Rogue One: A Star Wars Story’s Ben Mendelsohn, Star Trek and Star Wars’ Simon Pegg, and Bates Motel’s Olivia Cooke.

Here is the third trailer for Ready Player One, with a little help from Willy Wonka:

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Warner Bros. kicked off San Diego Comic-Con’s Saturday events this year with Ready Player One director Steven Spielberg, cast members, and the author showing the first teaser trailer for the movie (if you missed it, we previewed it here).  The audiobook, read by Wil Wheaton and currently available free here at Amazon with an Audible sign-up, has been a huge hit with fans, almost taking on a life of its own.  This weekend the studio released a new trailer for the 2018 release, a future sci-fi vision of the 1980s via virtual reality and a young man’s quest for the ultimate Easter egg.

As readers of the novel would expect, you’ll be looking for “millions” of Easter eggs tucked away in the film.  Iron Giant, Freddy Krueger, the Back to the Future DeLorean were the focus of the teaser this summer.  See what you can find in this first full-length trailer.  Is that King Kong or Donkey Kong?  We’re excited to see in this new trailer Killjoys’ and Star Wars: The Force Awakens’ Hannah John-Kamen, Rogue One: A Star Wars Story’s Ben Mendelsohn, and Bates Motel’s Olivia Cooke joining star X-Men: Apocalypse’s Tye Sheridan, but no sightings yet of Star Trek and Star Wars’ star Simon Pegg yet.

Here is the second trailer for Steven Spielberg’s Ready Player One:

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We first mentioned the movie Ready Player One six years ago in our review of the Ernest Cline novel here at borg.com.  Warner Bros. kicked off Comic-Con Saturday today at San Diego Comic-Con with director Steven Spielberg, a few cast members, and the author showing the first trailer for the movie.  The audiobook, read by Wil Wheaton and currently available free here at Amazon with an Audible sign-up, has been a huge hit with fans, almost taking on a life of its own.  But how does the first preview compare to expectations?

Start counting the Easter Eggs now: Iron Giant, Freddy Krueger, the Back to the Future DeLorean.  What else did you find?

Ready Player One stars X-Men: Apocalypse’s Tye Sheridan, Killjoys’ Hannah John-Kamen, Rogue One: A Star Wars Story’s Ben Mendelsohn, Star Trek and Star Wars’ Simon Pegg, and Bates Motel’s Olivia Cooke.

Here is the official HD version shown at Comic-Con, Warner Bros.’ first trailer for Ready Player One:

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Review by C.J. Bunce

How can a movie get better on repeated viewings?  What makes that possible?  After three viewings of the home release of Rogue One: A Star Wars Story–the Digital HD edition, the Blu-ray, and the 3D Blu-ray–it’s apparent the film on repeated viewings is indeed as good as the initial theatrical viewing if not better, a rare feat in any genre.  Naysayers who didn’t like the CGI effects of Grand Moff Tarkin and Princess Leia–the primary criticism of the December theatrical release–should find even a home theater big screen television will mask any distractions seen on a 30-foot theater screen.  The Blu-ray and 3D Blu-ray provide the best, clearest picture and sound of any prior Star Wars release.  The 3D transfer is as good as any 3D Blu-ray release to-date, and the special effects, clothing details like stitches and seams are clear and vivid, as is the weathering (or lack thereof, when logical) on props.  As with most 3D movies, outdoor scenes, like the Scarif ground battle, are even more vivid with sharp foregrounds and backgrounds.  Check out the complete review of the film from December here.

The special features disc includes a version of the bonus features viewable together as an entire documentary and also viewable by chapter.  The extra disc available through Target stores only includes two short extra chapters, and although the creature shop feature is excellent the two extras wouldn’t normally be enough to tilt a buyer toward the Target edition–costs being the same–and some may instead opt for packaging, like Steelbook boxes (Best Buy only) or Connexions cards (available only in the Wal-Mart edition).  Fun bits in the features to look for include Bodhi actor Riz Ahmed’s audition tapes for Edwards, a feature documenting many Easter eggs from the show even the best eye likely never identified, and interviews with motion capture actors Guy Henry (Grand Moff Tarkin) and Ingvild Daila (Princess Leia), both who look little like Peter Cushing or Carrie Fisher, proving that simply using lookalikes or prosthetics would not have been a realistic option for re-creating these characters.  The standard bonus features included with the bundles are K-2SO: The Droid, Baze & Chirrut: Guardians of the Whills, Bodhi & Saw: The Pilot & the Revolutionary, The Empire, Visions of Hope: The Look of Rogue One, The Princess & the Governor, Epilogue: The Story Continues, and Rogue Connections (the Easter eggs list).

Rogue One easily merits ranking as the third best film in the series after Star Wars: A New Hope and The Empire Strikes Back–but truly in a league with those two films.  One of the best war movie stories put to film, the best prequel or prequel that is also a sequel (yes, even considering the great Godfather II), the best space battle, the best use of spaceship filming (director Gareth Edwards avoids 2001: A Space Odyssey and Star Trek: The Motion Picture-era overly-long ship takes and instead uses his imagery only as necessary to drive the story forward), while featuring one of the all-time best heist movies.

It really has it all.

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Review by C.J. Bunce

Rogue One: A Star Wars Story finally answers the question of what kind of movie you would get if Hollywood would only, finally, let a diehard fan direct a major franchise film.  For all the great cast of actors and heroic characters in this unique tie-in film that falls outside the episodic trilogies, the real hero turns out to be director Gareth Edwards.  Edwards does so many things right with Rogue One you’ll lose count, and the best of this is surprise after surprise of what is at the next turn.  And if you watched all the trailers that seemed to reveal all too much, surprise again, you ain’t seen nothing yet.  This is, without exception, the most fun movie in the franchise since The Empire Strikes Back, despite its equally dark tone, and it has all the action of the original Indiana Jones movie, Raiders of the Lost Ark.

With Star Wars: The Force Awakens, fans immediately jumped at the chance of finding its place in the list of the best and worst of the prior six films.  Is Rogue One better than The Force Awakens?  In many ways, yes.  In other ways, such as the use of too many jumps between geographic road marker titles along the way and tightness of story plotting, Rogue One is probably a bit behind.  What fans really want to do is compare Rogue One to the original Star Wars and The Empire Strikes Back.  So how does it compare?  It really is too soon to tell.  The hype and excitement of any new blockbuster in a franchise you love makes you want to heap on the high praise.  Is The Force Awakens as good as we thought a year ago?  Fans will never agree.  But the fact Rogue One is worthy of the comparison to Star Wars and The Empire Strikes Back should be praise enough.

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The best thing about Rogue One is CGI and motion capture technology improvements.  The best kept film secret in several years should be kept for all to experience, and later we can all chat about it once everyone has had a chance to see the film.  Prepare to be impressed.  Technology is finally catching up with Connie Willis’s future Hollywood novel Remake.  Rogue One also has great writing–an issue that haunted the prequels.  The dialogue is smarter than probably all the past episodes.  The space battles aren’t superfluous like in Return of the Jedi and all of the prequels.  Every step in the film is in furtherance of the goal–find the plans to destroy the Death Star.  This is not a mere MacGuffin, this mission has gravity for everyone.  Delivered like an epic World War II era film, Rogue One is the best war movie of the franchise.

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Above all else, James Luceno’s new novel, Star Wars: Catalyst, A Rogue One Novel, is a sequel to Luceno’s well-crafted novel Tarkin (previously reviewed here at borg.com), another account of the Empire as it grew from the ashes left behind by the Clone Wars.  Surprisingly, Governor Tarkin is a major player in this novel, a prequel to this week’s worldwide theatrical release, Rogue One: A Star Wars Story.  As in Tarkin, Luceno adds another chapter in the detailed political and economic sphere of how various races are able to harness the energy necessary to power not only Star Destroyers, but this newly conceived idea of a planetoid battle station that becomes the first Death Star.

The corporate nature of the Empire, the scientists and power source behind the creation of the first of what would be three Death Stars in the Star Wars universe is laid out here, perhaps in more detail than the average fan would require.  Key to preparing for the movie, we meet four players of note.  Galen and Lyra Erso are scientists attempting to study and work on energy research outside the world of the military, but their refusal to choose sides lands them in prison and leaves them as pawns to be manipulated by rising officials in competing sects.  Galen’s longtime friend Orson Krennic is an opportunist and master manipulator, often at odds with Tarkin.  Rarely seen in Catalyst, but important because of her legacy as part of the Erso family, is young Jyn, a girl who will grow up to be the leading player in Rogue One.

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Orson Krennic and Galen Erso from Rogue One: A Star Wars Story.

Catalyst serves as a useful bridge between two trilogies: Episodes I-III and Episodes IV-VI.  You’ll find numerous references to characters from the prequels like Emperor Palpatine, Mas Amedda, and Count Dooku.  Geonosis, the planet that factored into the Jedi battle in Attack of the Clones, also plays a key role in Catalyst.  And a secondary story about a smuggler named Has Obitt ushers in a new character called Saw Gerrera, a warrior who will be played by Forest Whitaker in the new film.

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In the latest trailer for Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, released today during ABC’s Good Morning America, we have even more teased scenes that make it impossible not to get excited for this incredible looking film.  Jyn Erso (played by Felicity Jones) is tapped to lead a dangerous mission, and Forest Whitaker never looked better as an old rogue.  And check out the new movie poster.  Count the good guys.  Is this going to be another The Magnificent Seven/Seven Samurai inspired film?  The original Star Wars was inspired by Akira Kurosawa’s Hidden Fortress.

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And Darth Vader, no longer hidden as another villain to the new story of Star Wars’ past.  But something tells us that appearance is going to be similar to Mark Hamill’s brief return as Luke Skywalker in last year’s Star Wars: The Force Awakens.

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But be warned:  The newest Star Wars entry fills in the remaining plot points, gives a clear look at Mads Mikkelsen’s key role in the story, provides more looks at costumes and landscapes, and introduces a few new characters, including what appears to be Eunice Olumide as a Rebel leader, more AT-STs, Death Star shots, and more Vader.

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Check out the latest trailer for the next big Star Wars flick:

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