Tag Archive: Ben Whishaw


Review by C.J. Bunce

It’s always a big surprise when the holiday episode of Doctor Who is a critical not-to-be-missed episode.  When we last saw the Doctor, she was trapped millions of light years away in an alien prison.  The New Year’s Day 2021 special Revolution of the Daleks is not a filler, out-of-continuity holiday showpiece, instead continuing after ten months have lapsed for the Doctor’s companions back on Earth, and after the Doctor has been imprisoned for years in that same relative time span.  If you missed this episode you missed: the return of John Barrowman’s universal fan-favorite character Captain Jack Harkness, another Law & Order/Law & Order UK crossover/reunion, the last we’ll see of some major characters, a new Prime Minister, a preview of a new companion, and one of the best Dalek episodes in the 57 years of the series.  As the studio releases word that Jodie Whittaker will be soon leaving the series, Revolution of the Daleks reflects that both her performance as the 13th Doctor and Chris Chibnall’s running of the series has finally arrived.  It’s a timeless story full of important, lovely emotional beats, fantastic new sci-fi special and visual effects, and a return to the classic framework and themes of the show’s past.

Let’s take a look at why this episode was superb and offer up some candidates for the 14th Doctor…

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Happy holidays!

It’s that time of year again, time to take a look forward at what movies should be on your radar for 2021!  But wait!  Next year’s list sure looks a lot like the the films we previewed last December.  The covid pandemic has delayed hundreds of film projects, but some made it through.  When you walk back through last year’s list and compare it to movies released after theater lockdowns, you get some insight into how Hollywood thinks.  Big movies and movies predicted to be successes were universally held back, while less popular films were released to low box office returns from theaters that remained open, and yet other films went directly to home streaming or related media platforms.

Last year we pulled 85 of the hundreds of films then slated for the 2020 movie calendar.  The first two dozen made it to theaters (films like Underwater, Dolittle, and Birds of Prey) before the national shift began on March 11 with news of the NBA reacting to the pandemic by suspending pro basketball–the first national awareness of the scope of the problem.  Suddenly we saw Vudu and other home platforms coming to the rescue for our entertainment fix, adding a new Theater at Home option, which captured movies like Anya Taylor-Joy’s Emma, Vin Diesel’s Bloodshot, and the animated Scoob!  Disney began an interesting tiered release of Mulan, which for half the year showed a studio doing its best to maximize returns on what would have been a key release in any other year.  After another delay The New Mutants made it briefly to theaters followed by home release after three years of getting kicked aside as the last vestiges of the Disney-Fox merger were shaken out.  Other films, like Vast of Night, Extraction, The Old Guard, Rebecca, Radioactive, and Fantasy Island safely premiered on Netflix and Amazon Prime, with Chris Hemsworth’s Extraction standing out as the clear popular winner–the entire world needed some new entertainment and after what would only be the first of several months of shelter-at-home, it tentatively filled the void.

So our predictions for the year’s big genre films were flat wrong, every single one except Mulan was delayed to 2021, including Ghostbusters: Afterlife, Black Widow, No Time to Die, a new Fast & Furious, Tom Clancy’s Without Remorse, and superhero flicks Venom 2, Eternals, and MorbiusWonder Woman 1984 is expected to have a theatrical release by year end.  Altogether 35 of last year’s 85 movies previewed on our annual list are back again below, plus we found more than 35 new genre films we think will appeal to borg readers.

So what’s left and what’s new?

Grab your calendar and start making your plans–here are the movies you’ll want to see in 2021.  Then compare the below list to our 2020 list, and look back to the 2019 list, 2018 list, 2017 list, 2016 list, 2015 list, or 2014 list.  Last year we noticed studios moving genre content from the big screen to the small screen via streaming services, and the pandemic only stepped up that migration.  Note:  Warner Bros. has reported it will issue its 2021 releases simultaneously on HBO Max.  Netflix has mostly dramas slated for 2021, but a few genre films are in pre-production, so expect a few surprises throughout the year.  Amazon Studios has fewer, most partnerships with Blumhouse Productions.

As we learned well this year, many of these films will have revised release dates, and even get pushed to 2022.

January

Mortal Kombat Based on the video game.  New!  Tentative release date: January 15, 2021.  HBO Max.

Wrath of Man Next Jason Statham action flick.  New!  Tentative release date: January 15, 2021.

The French Dispatch.  Wes Anderson and his familiar actors in new quirky film about journalists.  New!  January 28, 2021.

The DigA film about a woman finding archaeological treasures on her land, starring Ralph Fiennes, Lily James, and Carey Mulligan.  January 29, 2021.  Netflix.

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Review by C.J. Bunce

Thirty years after Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home forever put a stake in the ground that whaling is a bad thing, you wouldn’t think a true-life whaling story would fare well, especially in movie theaters.  And you’d be right–director Ron Howard′s In the Heart of the Sea unfortunately lost more money than it cost to make.  And yet Howard’s deft direction combines some of genredom’s top stars with a solid script in a worthy interpretation of Herman Melville’s inspiration for Moby Dick apt to provide any audience with something to cheer about.  Far and Away meets Apollo 13, sea disaster and cannibalism in this 2015 release, a prime survival story now streaming on multiple platforms.

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No Time to Die It will be the 25th official James Bond movie and the 27th if you include the independent movie Never Say Never Again and the first version of Casino Royale, all part of the longest running blockbuster franchise that began in 1962 with Dr. No.  Bond has left active service and is enjoying a tranquil life in Jamaica.  His peace is short-lived when his old friend Felix Leiter from the CIA turns up asking for help.  The mission to rescue a kidnapped scientist turns out to be far more treacherous than expected, leading Bond onto the trail of a mysterious villain armed with dangerous new technology.  The premiere of No Time to Die said to be the last Daniel Craig stint as James Bond – was delayed due to studio concerns about the COVID-19 pandemic.  The next, action-packed movie trailer for No Time to Die is here (check it out below).  The film is now slated for a November release.  But does anyone think crowds will return to theaters by then?

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Merry Christmas!

It’s that time of year again, time to take a look forward at what movies should be on your radar for 2020.  Are you going to see them all?  Heck no.  These are the genre films we think borg readers will want to know about to make their own checklists for the coming year–and they are only the films we know about so far.  We pulled 85 of the hundreds of films that have been finalized or are in varying stages of final production, slated for next year’s movie calendar.

What looks to top the list for most fanboys and fangirls?  Ghostbusters: Afterlife Scarlett Johannson solo in Black WidowA new James Bond movie, No Time to DieVin Diesel in Bloodshot and a new Fast & FuriousThe original Tom Clancy novel series is finally continuing with an adaptation of Without Remorse Comic book adaptations are in less supply in 2020, but look for Venom 2, Wonder Woman 1984, Eternals, The New Mutants, Morbius, Birds of Prey, The Old Guard, and did we mention Black WidowCompare the below list to our 2019 list and even the 2018 list, 2017 list, 2016 list, 2015 list, or 2014 list, and your takeaway may be seeing the studios moving genre content from the big screen to the small screen via streaming services.

Do you like sequels?  There are far less coming to theaters in 2020 than in 2019, but many more remakes of movies, books, and TV shows are on the way.  In fact, with all the blockbusters in 2019, 2020 looks pretty tame as the cinema marquee is concerned.  Some films don’t have locked in release dates yet: Amazon Studios and Netflix haven’t revealed dates for the following 2020 releases (those we know you’ll find on the calendar below):

  • 7500, a film about a highjacked airplane, starring Joseph Gordon-Levitt (Amazon Studios)
  • The Dig, a film about a woman finding archaeological treasures on her land, starring Ralph Fiennes, Lily James, and Carey Mulligan (Netflix)
  • Horse Girl, Alison Brie stars and directs this story about an awkward girl who fuses her dreams with reality (Netflix)
  • Jingle Jangle, an animated Christmas story with the voices of Forest Whitaker, Keegan-Michael Key, and Hugh Bonneville (Netflix)
  • Louis Wain, biopic of the 19th century artist starring Benedict Cumberbatch, Claire Foy, and Andrea Riseborough (Amazon Studios)
  • The Old Guard, adaptation of comic book story, starring Charlize Theron and Chiwetel Ejiofor (Netflix)
  • Radioactive, a film about Marie Curie, starring Rosamund Pike and Anya Taylor-Joy (Amazon)
  • Rebecca, adaptation and remake of the Daphne Du Maurier classic novel, starring Lily James, Keely Hawes, Kristin Scott Thomas, and Armie Hammer (Netflix)
  • Welcome to Sudden Death, sequel to Jean-Claude van Damme 1995 movie starring Michael Jai White (Netflix)
  • The Willoughbys, animated adaptation of the Lois Lowry book, with voices of Maya Rudolph, Martin Short, and Jane Krakowski (Netflix)
  • Wonderland, murder conspiracy mystery starring Mark Wahlberg, Allan Arkin, and Colleen Camp (Netflix)

Some of these films will have revised release dates, or get pushed to 2021.

So grab your calendar and start making your plans–here are the movies you’ll want to see in 2020 (and some you might not!):

January

The Informer – Thriller, starring Joel Kinnaman, Rosamund Pike, Ana de Armas, Common, and Clive Owen – January 10.

Underwater – Thriller, stars Kristin Stewart in underwater horror story – January 10.

Dolittle – Family/Comedy, stars Robert Downey, Jr. in remake of the classic, with voices of Tom Holland, Rami Malek, Octavia Spencer, Emma Thompson, Antonio Banderas, Ralph Fiennes, and Michael Sheen – January 17.

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No Time to Die It will be the 25th official James Bond movie and the 27th if you include the independent movie Never Say Never Again and the first version of Casino Royale, all part of the longest running blockbuster franchise that began in 1962 with Dr. No.  The first full movie trailer for No Time to Die is here (check it out below), along with several character posters.  And those (like us) who see Daniel Craig as their favorite Bond will be sad to hear Craig says this will be his last turn at 007.  His performance as “the man every guy wants to be and every woman wants to be with” would no doubt be familiar to author Ian Fleming, whose character was a rugged, late career spy as Craig has played it (check out our past reviews of the Bond novels here at borg).

Along with other international venues, Bond returns to Jamaica in his next film, where we’ve seen him before in Dr. No and Live and Let Die, but more importantly it’s Bond coming full circle, as Jamaica is where Fleming wrote all of his Bond stories, at his real home there he called Goldeneye.  Long-time series producer Barbara Broccoli tapped Cary Fukunaga, a cinematographer and relative newcomer to the big screen, to take the reins as director, following Sam Mendes, who directed the last two Bond movies.  Returning as the familiar core characters are Ralph Fiennes, Naomie Harris, Ben Whishaw, Rory Kinnear, Jeffrey Wright, Christoph Waltz, and Léa Seydoux as Bond’s latest love interest from the last outing.  New to the series are Rami Malek (Bohemian Rhapsody) as the villain Safin, plus Ana de Armas (Blade Runner 2049), Lashana Lynch (Captain Marvel) as a new 00, Lourdes Faberes (Knightfall), Rae Lim (Tomb Raider), and Billy Magnussen (Black Mirror).

 

Bond has left active service and is enjoying a tranquil life in Jamaica.  His peace is short-lived when his old friend Felix Leiter from the CIA turns up asking for help.  The mission to rescue a kidnapped scientist turns out to be far more treacherous than expected, leading Bond onto the trail of a mysterious villain armed with dangerous new technology.

Check out all the character posters (which list the UK release date) and the first trailer released today for No Time to Die:

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Later this year classic characters from three well-known children’s stories will return in theatrical adaptations.   A.A. Milne’s Winnie the Pooh and friends will return in Christopher Robin.  Deja vu?  Don’t confuse this with last year’s film Goodbye, Christopher Robin, which starred Margot Robbie, Domhnall Gleeson, and Kelly Macdonald This new film actually features Winnie the Pooh and friends, along with a great cast of genre favorites: Ewan McGregor (Star Wars series, Brassed Off), Mark Gatiss (Sherlock, Doctor Who) and Hayley Atwell (Marvel Cinematic Universe), and voicing the classic characters, Jim Cummings (Pooh), Peter Capaldi (Rabbit), Toby Jones (Owl), and Brad Garrett (Eeyore).  The film is directed by Marc Forster (Quantum of Solace).

The Grinch is back in a third major film incarnation from Dr. Seuss’s original book How the Grinch Stole Christmas.  This time Benedict Cumberbatch replaces the voice of the big Christmas baddie made famous by Boris Karloff in 1966 and reprised by Jim Carrey in 2000.  This version is titled Dr. Seuss’ The Grinch.  This animated version incorporates current digital technology to provide a very modern looking update.  The trailer looks great.

And also for Christmas Mary Poppins is back in a sequel to the original 1964 classic that starred Julie Andrews as Mary and Dick Van Dyke as Bert the chimney sweep and bank president Mr. Dawes.  Emily Blunt (Edge of Tomorrow, The Huntsman: Winter’s War) takes on the lead role in Mary Poppins Returns, co-starring Meryl Streep (The Post), Colin Firth (The Kings’ Speech), Angela Lansbury (Murder, She Wrote), Emily Mortimer (Hugo, The Kid), David Warner (Tron, Time After Time), Ben Whishaw (James Bond franchise), Julie Walters (Harry Potter franchise), Lin-Manuel Miranda (Moana), and Dick Van Dyke, this time as Dawes, Jr.

Check out these previews for Christopher Robin, Dr. Seuss’ The Grinch, and Mary Poppins Returns:

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aston martin db10 james bond spectre

Christie’s & Eon Productions are auctioning off 24 lots from last year’s latest James Bond entry, SPECTRE, now out on Blu-ray and reviewed here at borg.com last week.  An online-only sale will offer 14 of the 24 lots, open for bidding beginning tomorrow, February 16, 2016, through Tuesday, February 23, 2016, with an invitation-only live auction being held on Thursday, February 18, 2016, at Christie’s in London.  The live auction is also open to Internet and telephone bidders.

1.  Blu-ray disc signed in gold marker pen by Daniel Craig plus James Bond’s blue initialed ‘JB’ Tom Ford cufflinks worn by Daniel Craig

Each set with oval lapis lazuli panels engraved with the monogram ‘JB’ for James Bond, to single-link connections, signed Tom Ford, 15mm wide, in maker’s case and card box.  Bond’s cufflinks were personalized for SPECTRE, designed by Jany Temime and made by Tom Ford.  Daniel Craig as James Bond wore these cufflinks throughout the film with each of his suits apart from the ‘mother-of-pearl’ version which he wore with his dinner suit (see Lot 15).  They are one of two pairs held in the EON archive.

Estimate: $4,300–7,100

spectre day of dead james bond mask skull cane

2.  James Bond’s Day of the Dead Costume worn by Daniel Craig

Designed by Costume designer Jany Temime and mask designer Robert Allsopp.  The set includes:

  • Black frock coat with white hand painted bones, size IT38
  • Skull mask with elastic fastening
  • Black leather gloves, size M
  • Black top hat, 100% wool with grosgrain ribbon hat band ‘Jaxton Victorian’, size 7 ⅝” (61 cm.)
  • Skull cane

This is one of three Day of the Dead Costumes worn by Daniel Craig (the other two are retained by EON) in the pre-title sequence of the film.  Bond is in pursuit of assassin Sciarra.

Estimate: $17,000–25,000

3.  Longines ‘Conquest Heritage’ watch

This is the 18-carat rose gold automatic wristwatch worn by Ralph Fiennes as M in SPECTRE.  With a diameter of 35 mm, this model in 18-carat rose gold displays a sunray silver dial with pink applied indices, “dolphine” hands with superluminova and date aperture at 12 o’clock.  Fitted with a self-winding mechanical calibre L633, it indicates the hours, the minutes and the seconds.  The caseback is decorated with a gold and enamel medallion representing a constellation.  One of only two worn by Ralph Fiennes in SPECTRE, the other retained by Omega.

Estimate: $7,100–9,900

4.  Final Legal SPECTRE script signed by Sam Mendes, Michael G. Wilson and Barbara Broccoli

Estimate: $4,300–7,100

spectre ring gold oberhauser blofeld christoph waltz

5.  Oberhauser’s SPECTRE gold ring worn by Christoph Waltz

The ring is made of 9 carat yellow gold, with 7 tentacle octopus logo rendered in distressed black, and has some marks on back of ring.  This is one of only two gold rings made for the film, the other is retained by EON.

Estimate: $5,700–8,500

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Spectre Blu-ray

Review by C.J. Bunce

For every new Bond actor there is a handful of films that are forgettable. SPECTRE is not one of those Bond movies.  In fact SPECTRE is on the heels of being as good a James Bond formula piece as Daniel Craig’s Casino Royale.  After re-watching it on Blu-ray, now available this week, it may just be better.

So why is SPECTRE a cut above the rest?

It has the most elaborate, exciting, and best choreographed action scene opener of any Bond film.  Ever.  We begin with Bond and his attractive companion Estrella, played by Mexican actress Stephanie Sigman, at the Day of the Dead festival in Mexico City.  A single-take shot parade walk.  Bond is in pursuit of an assassin, for a reason yet to be disclosed to the viewer.  Bond in a skeleton suit is still unmistakably Daniel Craig’s Bond.  We get an inadvertently blown-up building.  A foot chase through a parade culminating in a hand to hand fight in a helicopter over the crowded festival.  Want exciting?  This scene has it all.

James Bond Day of the Dead

Gone is the tired, old, worn-out Bond emphasized in the plot of Skyfall.  Gone is the disheartened Bond of Quantum of Solace.  This is Bond as he is supposed to be–confident, cocky, and calm, solving a puzzle and seeking some revenge for all that has happened to him, and revealed to us since Casino Royale.  And physically Craig could still out-match all prior Bond actors at any age.

SPECTRE’s main “Bond Girl” is a well-developed character this time around.  French actress Léa Seydoux’s Dr. Swann is compelling and interesting, closer to Eva Green’s engaging Vesper Lynd than any Bond film actress since.  But equally appealing is Italian actress Monica Bellucci as Lucia Sciarra, a character widowed by Bond, who Bond actually rescues in an almost uncharacteristic act.  Did Bond make sure she was safe because he failed to do so in a similar encounter in Casino Royale with Caterina Murino’s Solange?

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Craig in SPECTRE

Review by C.J. Bunce

If you’ve been too busy buying your advance tickets for Star Wars: The Force Awakens and forgot to get to the theaters to see the latest James Bond film, here’s your wake-up call.  Get thee to the theatre before it’s gone!  For every new Bond actor there is a handful of films that are forgettable.  SPECTRE is not one of those Bond movies.  In fact SPECTRE is on the heels of being as good a James Bond formula piece as Daniel Craig’s Casino Royale.  It will be hard for any Bond movie to top that one, since it was as close to perfection as an action vehicle can get.

So why is SPECTRE a cut above the rest?

Let’s start with the required action scene opener.  We begin with Bond and his attractive companion Estrella, played by Stephanie Sigman, at the Day of the Dead festival in Mexico City.  Bond is in pursuit of an assassin, for a reason yet to be disclosed to the viewer, and the result is some of the best action in any Bond movie.  Ever.  Bond in a skeleton suit is still unmistakably Daniel Craig’s Bond.  We get an inadvertently blown-up building.  A foot chase through a parade culminating in a hand to hand fight in a helicopter over the crowded festival.  Want exciting?  This scene has it all.

James Bond Day of the Dead

Gone is the tired, old, worn-out Bond emphasized in the plot of Skyfall.  Gone is the disheartened Bond of Quantum of Solace.  This is Bond as he is supposed to be–confident, cocky, and calm.  And physically Craig could still out-match all prior Bond actors at any age.

Bond’s main “Bond Girl” is a well-developed character this time around.
Léa Seydoux’s Dr. Swann is compelling and interesting, closer to Eva Green’s engaging Vesper Lynd than any Bond Girl since.

The villains are perfect, starting with Dave Bautista’s Mr. Hinx and his Groot-like single word of dialogue, and Christoph Waltz’s mastermind is as classic a Bond villain as you’ve ever seen.  He’s creepy, but not too creepy like Javier Bardem’s villain in Skyfall.  Also well-written are the classic Bond supporting roles: Ben Whishaw’s Q gets more, key screen time than any prior Q, Naomie Harris’s Moneypenny gets more backstory, and Ralph Fiennes’ M gets to take on his own parallel fight against villainy.

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