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Tag Archive: Christoph Waltz


Review by C.J. Bunce

We have a review of the first of three tie-in books to the new Robert Rodriguez film Alita: Battle Angel coming your way.  Alita: Battle Angel should appeal to any fan of cyborgs–the story as envisioned by James Cameron was a pet project of the director for several years, one he’d picked up from Guillermo del Toro.  When Cameron decided to pursue management of his several Avatar sequels directly and finally handed over the project to Rodriguez he did so with more than 600 pages of notes he’d prepared.  The film is an adaptation of the manga Battle Angel: Alita by Yukito Kishiro, a story about self-discovery and empowerment via a centuries-old human brain that finds its way into the cybernetic body of a young girl.  A part-time doctor, part-time bounty hunter, Doctor Ido, played in the film by two-time Oscar winner Christoph Waltz, takes center stage in Alita: Battle Angel–Doctor Ido’s Journal, the new release by writer Nick Aires for Titan Books.

After losing his human daughter’s struggle to live, the Dr. Frankenstein-inspired Dr. Ido finds the “core” of a cyborg in a scrapyard with a surviving, living human brain.  He uses the prosthetics and futuristic body parts he’d designed for his daughter to rebuild a new girl, quasi-Pinocchio style, naming her Alita after his daughter.  The sci-fi story follows Alita as she tries to learn about her past and survive in a dystopian world that mixes inspirations from John Carpenter, Ridley Scott, Neill Blomkamp, and George Miller.  The visions of each of these directors’ best futuristic films comes through in Doctor Ido’s Journal, an in-universe document which reprints concept art, sketches, and photographs from the film, combining them with a diary entry narrative written by Aires in the place of Dr. Ido.  Doctor Ido’s Journal will be familiar to fans of Aires’ past in-universe books, including Oliver Queen’s Dossier, S.T.A.R. Labs: Cisco Ramon’s Journal, and Arrow: Heroes and Villains and works by others reviewed here, including Alien: The Weyland-Yutani Report, The Book of Alien: Augmented Reality Survival Manual, and the Batman v Superman Tech ManualFans will first find a cleverly designed flex-cover that mimics metal (a great design effect that would make for an attractive blank journal), followed by pages of dense notebook entries that track the action of the film, all from Dr. Ido’s perspective.

The artwork is exceptional, vivid engineering-level drawings like those found in Mark Salisbury’s Elysium: The Art of the Film, reviewed here at borg, and the combination of horror and beauty found in production artists Dan Hallett and Matt Hatton’s elaborate designs in Alien: Covenant: David’s Drawings, reviewed here (it’s worth noting the Weta Digital created much of the designs for both Alita: Battle Angel and Elysium, and the similarly realized scrap-metal worlds of Blomkamp’s District 9 and CHAPPIE).  At times the gear-heavy animatronics inside the cyborgs echo the real-world 19th century automaton past of these creations, making these modern borgs into something that feels almost steampunk.

Here are some preview pages from Alita: Battle Angel–Doctor Ido’s Journal courtesy of the publisher:

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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 2019.  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 78 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?  The last of the nine films in the Star Wars saga.  Captain Marvel, Avengers: Endgame, and Spider-Man: Far From Home.  Shazam! is DC’s contribution.  Quentin Tarentino returns to movies to direct Once Upon a Time in Hollywood, and Martin Scorcese is back with an all-star cast in The Irishman (on Netflix).  M. Night Shyamalan finishes his dark superhero trilogy with GlassArnold Schwarzenegger and Linda Hamilton return in TerminatorJordan Peele is back with another horror film with Us.

Do you like sequels?  This is your year.  Another Men in Black, X-Men, Shaft, Happy Death Day, Lego Movie, Hellboy, John Wick, Kingsman, Jumanji, The Secret Life of Pets, How to Train Your Dragon, Fast and the Furious, Zombieland, Addams Family, Charlie’s Angels, Godzilla, Shaun the Sheep, Annabelle,and Stephen King’s It and Pet SemataryDisney is trying to get you to move into your local theater with another Toy Story, Aladdin, Dumbo, Frozen, and Lion King–all in one year.  Yep, lots and lots of sequels are coming.

Some films don’t have locked-in release dates yet.  Amazon Prime and Netflix haven’t revealed dates for these 2019 releases:

  • Martin Scorcese’s The Irishman, a film about Jimmy Hoffa starring Robert DeNiro, Al Pacino, Joe Pesci, Harvey Keitel, Ray Romano, and Bobby Cannavale (Netflix)
  • The Kid, a Western biopic with Chris Pratt, Ethan Hawke, Dane DeHaan, and Vincent D’Onofrio (Netflix)
  • The Man Who Killed Hitler Then Bigfoot, starring Sam Elliott (Netflix)
  • 6 Underground, a Michael Bay film starring Ryan Reynolds, Ben Hardy, Dave Franco, and Mélanie Laurent (Netflix)
  • The Last Thing He Wanted, Dee Rees directs Anne Hathaway, Ben Affleck, Willem Dafoe, and Toby Jones; journalist quits newspaper job to become an arms dealer for a covert government agency (Netflix)
  • The Laundromat, Steven Soderbergh directs Meryl Streep, Gary Oldman, Antonio Banderas, James Cromwell, about the Pentagon Papers (Netflix)
  • Radioactive, Rosamund Pike plays Marie Curie, with Anya Taylor-Joy (Amazon)

Some of these films will have revised release dates, or get pushed to 2020.

So grab your calendar and start making your plans–here are the movies you’ll want to see in 2019 (and many you might not):

January

Glass – Superhero, M. Night Shyamalan trilogy part 3, stars Bruce Willis, Samuel L. Jackson, James McAvoy; continues where Unbreakable and Split left off – January 18.

Serenity – Mystery/Thriller, stars Anne Hathaway, Jason Clarke, Djimon Hounsou, Jeremy Strong, Diane Lane; sorry, no relation to Firefly – January 25.

King of Thieves – Heist Comedy, stars Jim Broadbent, Tom Courtenay, Charlie Cox, Michael Gambon, and Ray Winstone – January 25.

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One of the under-the-radar previews at this weekend’s San Diego Comic-Con was for the new James Cameron/Robert Rodriguez/Jon Landau sci-fi film, Alita: Battle Angel.  If you compare the trailer previewed Friday night at Horton Plaza’s Regal Theater to the earlier teaser from last December (see both below) you will see a stark difference, with clear improvements made in the interim in post-production, especially with the CGI face and movements for Alita the lead borg character in the film, with motion capture performance by Rosa Salazar.  Director Robert Rodriguez and producer and Oscar-winner Jon Landau headlined the panel Friday with Salazar and Keean Johnson, who plays Hugo.

WETA featured an Alita display at their booth. Hundreds of WETA Digital creators worked on the film.

Based on Yukito Kishiro’s manga comic Battle Angel Alita, the adaptation follows a doctor, played by Oscar-winner Christoph Waltz, whose character is the latest Geppetto, creating Alita, a cybernetic girl.  The screenplay, written by James Cameron, takes the common borg origin sub-genre of science fiction (Frankenstein, Pinocchio, Edward Scissorhands, Ghost in the Shell, etc.), to make the next sci-fi warrior heroine.  The film co-stars Michelle Rodriguez, Jennifer Connelly, Mahershala Ali, Ed Skrein, Jackie Earle Haley, and Jeff Fahey.

Check out the trailer for Alita: Battle Angel:

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Not many R-Rated movies these days get much attention in a genre world of sci-fi, fantasy, superhero, action, or suspense/thriller films.  The current wave of hit films seems to be targeting the broader, all-age audience, not just the adult set, with Deadpool being the notable exception.  But a new historical romance opening this weekend is so loaded with genre actors it drew our attention.  The background for Tulip Fever is as unusual as its subject matter.  Tulip Fever was initially set to be a Steven Spielberg film with Paramount Pictures starring Jude Law, Keira Knightley, and Jim Broadbent, way back in 2004, but a change in UK tax rules stopped the film in its tracks.  So Harvey Weinstein bought the rights and re-cast the film and production commenced in 2014.

The costumes, from Academy Award winning designer Michael O’Connor (Dredd, The Duchess, Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets) and the set design by Simon Elliott (Bleak House) look quite good, a dark European drama with Les Miserables-esque cinematography.  The film’s premise is unusual.  Academy Award winning actress Alicia Vikander (Ex Machina, The Man from U.N.C.L.E., Jason Bourne, The Danish Girl, and next year’s Tomb Raider) stars as Sophia, a young married woman who falls for a portrait artist during Tulip Mania in 17th century Amsterdam.  Her lover is played by Dane DeHaan (Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets, The Amazing Spider-man 2).  The comparison of this couple to Kate Winslet and Leonardo DiCaprio’s secret lovers in Titanic is unmistakable.  But can a movie set with the backdrop of Tulip Mania possibly hope to draw the appeal of the sinking of the Titanic?  Probably not where this film is heading.  The film was originally screened at Cannes in 2015.  It’s release has been delayed at least six times.

But the genre actor cast list continues.  Sophia’s husband is played by two-time Oscar winner Christoph Waltz (Spectre, Inglourious Basterds, Django Unchained, The Legend of Tarzan, Muppets Most Wanted).  Oscar winner Dame Judith Dench (the James Bond series, The Chronicles of Riddick, Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides, Shakespeare in Love, Henry V) has a cameo role as a nun.  BAFTA winner Tom Hollander (Pirates of the Caribbean series, Mission Impossible: Rogue Nation, Muppets Most Wanted, Valkyrie, Gosford Park) plays a doctor.  Primetime Emmy winner Zach Galifianakis plays a friend of DeHaan’s character and DeHaan reunites with Valerian co-star Cara Delevingne.

Here’s a trailer for Tulip Fever:

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Legend of Tarzan poster

Dozens of adaptations of Edgar Rice Burroughs’ Tarzan have made it to the big screen and TV, and the newest version is out this summer, director David Yates’ The Legend of Tarzan.  It’s not another Disney adaptation although the 1999 Disney version was a good film.  This new version offers some nice CGI with its Planet of the Apes-style apes and other animals.  It also includes some updates to the original story.

The biggest draw for comic book movie fans will be the lead actress, Margot Robbie, as Jane.  Robbie will be portraying Harley Quinn in Suicide Squad later this year.  Stellan Skarsgård’s (The Avengers, The Hunt for Red October) son Alexander is Tarzan.  A major league cast supports this film, including two-time Academy Award winner Christoph Waltz, Academy Award winner Jim Broadbent, and Academy Award nominees Samuel L. Jackson, Djimon Hounsou, and John Hurt.

Check out this first full-length trailer for The Legend of Tarzan:

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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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Rogue One clip

Our annual “All the Movies You’ll Want to See…” series has been one of the most viewed of all of our entries at borg.com each year.  So this year we again scoured Hollywood and its publicity machine for as many genre films coming out in 2016 as have been disclosed.  Usually we select the 24 that look like the biggest hits, but we’re going all out for 2016.  The result is a whopping 48 movies, many you’ll probably want to see in the theater or catch on video.  We bet you’ll find a bunch below you’ve never heard of.  Bookmark this now for your 2016 calendar!

Most coming out in the second half of 2016 don’t even have posters released yet, but many do.  We’ve included descriptions and key cast so you can start planning accordingly.

Star Trek Beyond clip

What do we think will be the biggest hits of the year?  How about Star Wars: Rogue One?  Or Star Trek Beyond?  You’ve heard endlessly about Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, but 2016 will also see Doctor Strange, Captain America: Civil War, and X-Men: Apocalypse.  There’s even a handful of Westerns, with The Hateful 8, Jane Got a Gun, and another remake of The Magnificent Seven heading our way.

01 Hateful Eight poster

The Hateful Eight – January 1

Tarentino’s Western!  Ennio Morricone score!  Kurt Russell, Samuel L. Jackson, Jennifer Jason Leigh, and Channing Tatum!

5WV_1SHT_TSR_05.indd

The 5th Wave – January 8

Chloe Grace Moretz and Liev Schreiber in an alien invasion.

03 400 days poster

400 Days – January 12

The CW’s Brandon Routh, Caity Lotz, and Tom Cavanaugh in a movie about astronauts that seems to be a play on Ender’s Game.

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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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SPECTRE Craig

The same agency that taunted James Bond in five classic James Bond films (Thunderball, Dr. No, The Spy Who Loved Me, On Her Majesty’s Secret Service, and You Only Live Twice) is the subject of SPECTRE, the 24th in the current franchise and 26th to feature Bond (if you include David Niven’s Casino Royale and Never Say Never Again).  Two-time Academy Award winner Christoph Waltz will star as the next Bond villain, “Oberhauser.”  SPECTRE is also the agency led by fan favorite Bond villain Blofeld, which has led to speculation that Oberhauser is really an alias for Blofeld.  With the last trailer released a few hours ago and the release date almost upon us, we’re that much closer to learning the truth.

Have you voted yet in out our James Bond – Bond Girl poll?  Check it out here.

Skyfall director Sam Mendes again directs Bond in SPECTRE.  New cast members include the BBC Sherlock’s Moriarty, Andrew Scott, as Denbigh, Monica Bellucci and Léa Seydoux (Blue is the Warmest Colour) as the new Bond girls Lucia Sciarra and Madeleine Swann, with Guardians of the Galaxy’s Dave Bautista as Waltz’s henchman Hinx.  Returning cast includes Ralph Fiennes, Naomie Harris, Rory Kinnear, and Ben Whishaw, reprising their roles from Skyfall as well as Jesper Christensen as Mr. White.

Christoph Waltz

Here is the final trailer for SPECTRE:

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