Tag Archive: Best of 2021


Review by C.J. Bunce

Sony Pictures Animation, the studio that made Spider-Man: Into the Spider-verse and the LEGO movies brought its latest and greatest animated film to Netflix earlier this month with The Mitchells vs. The Machines–a sci-fi, apocalypse, coming of age story (reviewed here) about a normal but weird family that tries to dodge a planet-wide extermination resulting from the very technologies humans are so addicted to.  Much of the action takes place during a cross-country trip, and it’s that imagery that is underplayed on the big screen, but really comes to life as incredible art in The Art of The Mitchells vs. The Machines, a behind the scenes book of exploration coming to Amazon here and a bookstore near you next week.  Gravity Falls creators Michael Rianda and Jeff Rowe wrote and directed the film, a visually stunning spectacle, with contributions by the Academy Award winning duo of Phil Lord and Christopher Miller (both known for the LEGO movies and Into the Spider-verse).  Author Ramin Zahed interviews those creators and more and shares hundreds of concept art images for this next look into the development of cutting edge animation.

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Review by C.J. Bunce

Surprisingly great, surprisingly real, and surprisingly… current?  Sony Pictures Animation, the studio that brought you Spider-Man: Into the Spider-verse brings its latest and greatest animated film to Netflix this weekend.  It’s The Mitchells vs. The Machines–a sci-fi, apocalypse, coming of age, story about a weird family that ends up being the last family on the planet to be exterminated from the planet by the very technologies humans are so addicted to.  Gravity Falls creators Michael Rianda and Jeff Rowe wrote and directed this story, a visually stunning spectacle reflecting life as we knew it in 2020… and may know it again, with contributions by Phil Lord and Christopher Miller (both known for the LEGO movies and Into the Spider-verse).  The themes are influenced by Tron and Tron: Legacy, National Lampoon’s Vacation, and the Terminator movies, leaning hard on the plot of Terminator: Genisys.  It’s loud, colorful, crazy, and it gets family relationships just right, at least of the 21st century variety.  It’s also the movie I was hoping for with The Incredibles 2.

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Review by C.J. Bunce

Get ready for your next immersion into adventure and fun, and it’s in 3D.  I love classic storytelling methods that surprise the reader, from the Victorian to modern technology, whether it’s stereoscopic images, View-Master reels, lenticular images, pop-up books, or state-of-the-art digital animation.  One of my very first books as a young boy was Robert Louis Stevenson’s A Child’s Garden of Verses, with 3D diorama artwork and a lenticular cover.   I’ve reviewed several 3D movies here at borg, too, from The Creature from the Black Lagoon to Jaws 3D, and Predator and Rogue One French artist Matthias Picard’s roving young adventurer Jim Curious returns after his debut in 2014’s Jim Curious–A Voyage to the Heart of the Sea in his next book, Jim Curious and the Jungle Journey It’s a complete 3D adventure using anaglyph 3D, that classic blue-red 3D style and includes two pairs of 3D glasses–just like the kind from 3D movies in the 1920s to the 1980s.  The eye-popping images will take your breath away.

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Review by C.J. Bunce

Borrowing a phrase and idea from the song The Teddy Bear’s Picnic, a new storybook is coming next week for children four to six years old, and it is exactly the book to get your little kids excited about the coming spring, and maybe take some outings into the woods.  Poet Rachel Piercey and artist Freya Hartas have created a perfect picture book, If You Go Down to the Woods Today, a story from the Brown Bear Wood, a beautiful, over-sized book of wonderful images of cute animals experiencing exciting parts of the year that echo events in your child’s life.  Its classic design and interactive story is certain to be the favorite book of someone you know.  Take a look at some pages inside below.

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Every new technological creation seems to eventually arrive at a point where you can buy it at 99 percent off its original price.  It’s the classic 99% off sale.  And while it’s not true for everything, we can see it in many ways across the decades.  Look at something like the simple calculator, once a giant machine costing thousands of dollars, ultimately it came down in price (and size) to fit in your wallet as a free giveaway as businesses all over stamped an advertisement on the back as a marketing tool.  Today it’s a free feature on nearly every personal computer and android phone.  In the 1990s Connie Willis focused on the emerging technology of animating dead people in films in her groundbreaking novel Remake (discussed here at borg back in 2012).  It happened and it’s only getting better.  As recently as December Star Wars fans saw Mark Hamill reprise a young Luke Skywalker via imaging software in The Mandalorian, and probably the best use so far can be found by the de-aging of Michael Douglas in the Ant-Man movies. 

In basements (and governments?) across the world software designers and users dabble in “deep fake” imaging, attempting to push this technology to defraud (or prevent the defrauding of) others by digitally replacing faces in all kinds of video recordings.  Imagine making such video images by uploading a static image and simply pressing a button.  Guess what?  Now anyone can.  Look to an unlikely source to visit the future, thanks to a genealogy company’s new software program that costs its subscribers… nothing.  Quietly slipping in its own add-on free to its pay subscribers, a surprisingly good “artificial intelligence” turns any photograph into a short animation.  Yes, you, too, can re-animate the dead, maybe not as Mary Shelley envisioned more than 200 years ago, but take a look for yourself…

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