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Tag Archive: Darth Maul


Disney and Lucasfilm have rolled out a two-minute clip relying primarily on the nostalgia fans have for the original trilogy, but also carefully selecting other bits from the franchise’s past (notably excluding anything from the spin-off films Solo and Rogue One) to get audiences ready for December’s last film in the third trilogy, Episode IX, Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker Callbacks include an image of Billy Dee Williams as Lando Calrissian laughing (footage the first trailer already showed being echoed again in the coming Episode IX), multiple shots of Alec Guinness and Ewan McGregor as Obi-Wan Kenobi (to affirm there’s a Kenobi series on the way), Jeremy Bulloch’s Boba Fett (to remind us all that The Mandalorian series is coming next), even a reminder of that carbon freezing chamber that preserved Han Solo, that The Mandalorian series trailer also echoed this past week.

But the biggest idea now is foreshadowed with both the inclusion of Ray Park’s Darth Maul and his double saber, and the absence of images of similar bad guys from the prequel trilogy (like General Grievous or Christopher Lee’s Count Dooku).  And that idea is that Rey–now with what appears to be the same configuration of lightsaber, is related to Darth Maul, boosted by the surprise insertion of the Sith villain into Solo: A Star Wars Story, which confirmed the Rebels animated series take that the character didn’t really die in The Phantom Menace.  Or maybe those new red lenses on C-3PO mean he’s been carrying some Sith message for his master, Anakin Skywalker, later Darth Vader, that is only relevant now.  Or maybe they’re all red herrings.

A new official poster for the movie reveals what many think is Emperor Palpatine, but what could easily be a cloaked Mark Hamill returning as the ghost of Luke Skywalker (Hamill referred to the poster Monday with the hashtag #lukethespook), and he looks happy as Daisy Ridley’s Rey and Adam Driver’s Kylo duel atop what we understand to be part of a destroyed Death Star.  How much of the voiceovers have been Luke, and how many have been the Emperor, and could they all somehow really be the same manipulator?  It’s only a trailer, so there are no spoilers here, and it’s anyone’s guess what it all means.  Take a look for yourself:

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When we created last year’s preview of 2018 movies we were pretty sure we were going to have some great movies this year, but we were surprised by what ended up being the best.  All year we tried to keep up with what Hollywood had to offer and honed in on the genre content we thought was worth examining.  We went back and looked at it all and pulled together our picks for our annual Best Movies of 2018.

GenredomAs always, we’re after the best genre content of the year–with our top categories from the Best in Movies.  There are thousands of other places that cover plain vanilla dramas and the rest of the film world, but here we’re looking for movies we want to watch.  What do all of this year’s selections have in common?  In addition to those elements that define each part of genredom, each has a good story.  Special effects without a good story is not good entertainment, and we saw plenty of films this year that missed that crucial element.

Come back later this month for our TV and print media picks, and our annual borg Hall of Fame inductees.  Wait no further, here are our movie picks for 2018:

Best Film, Best Drama – Bohemian Rhapsody (20th Century Fox).  For the epic historical costume drama category, this biopic was something fresh and new, even among dozens of movies about bands that came before it.  Gary Busey played a great Buddy Holly and Val Kilmer a perfect Jim Morrison, and we can add Rami Malek and Gwilym Lee’s work as Freddie Mercury and Brian May to the same rare league.  But it wasn’t only the actors that made it work.  Incredible cinematography, costume and set recreations, and an inspiring story spoke to legions of moviegoers.  This wasn’t just another biopic, but an engaging drama about misfits that came out on top.  Honorable mention: Black Panther (Disney/Marvel).

Best Sci-fi Movie, Best Retro Fix, Best Easter EggsSolo: A Star Wars Story (Disney/Lucasfilm).  Put aside the noise surrounding the mid-year release of Solo before fans had recovered yet from The Last Jedi, and the resulting film was the best sequel (or prequel) in the franchise since the original trilogy (we rate it right after The Empire Strikes Back and Star Wars as #3 overall).  All the scenes with Han and Chewbacca were faithful to George Lucas’s original vision, and the new characters were as cool and exciting, and played by exceptional talent, as found in the originals, including sets that looked like they were created in the 1970s of the original trilogy.  The Easter Eggs scattered all over provided dozens of callbacks to earlier films.  This was an easy choice: no other science fiction film came close to the rip-roaring rollercoaster of this film, and special effects and space battles to match.   Honorable mention for Best Sci-Fi Movie: Orbiter 9 (Netflix).

Best Superhero Movie, Best Crossover, Best Re-Imagining on Film Avengers: Infinity War (Disney/Marvel).  For all its faults, and there were many, the culmination of ten years of careful planning and tens of thousands of creative inputs delivered something no fan of comics has ever seen before:  multiple, fleshed out superheroes played by A-list actors with intertwined stories with a plot that wasn’t all that convoluted.  Is it the best superhero move ever?  To many fans, yes.  But even if it isn’t the best, its scope was as great as any envisioned before it, and the movie was filled with more great sequences than can be found in several other superhero movies of the past few years combined.  But teaming up Thor with Rocket?  And Spider-Man with Doctor Strange and Iron Man?  That beat all the prior Avengers team-ups that came before (and anything offered up from the other studios).  It’s easy to brush off any given film with so many superhero movies arriving these days, but this one was the biggest, grandest, and greatest made yet and deserves all the recognition.  Honorable mention: Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse (Sony Pictures Animation), Black Panther (Disney/Marvel).

Best Fantasy Movie, Best Comedy MovieJumanji: Welcome to the Jungle (Columbia Pictures).  No movie provided more laugh-out-loud moments this year than last winter’s surprise hit, a sequel that didn’t need to be a sequel, and a video game tie-in for a fake video game.  A funny script and four super leads made this an easy pick in the humor category, but the Raiders of the Lost Ark-inspired adventure ride made for a great fantasy film, too.  Honorable mention for Best Fantasy Movie: Black Panther (Disney/Marvel), Ready Player One (Warner Bros./Amblin).

Best Movie Borg, Best Borg Film – Josh Brolin’s Cable, Deadpool 2 (20th Century Fox).  Brolin’s take on Cable ended up as one of those great borgs on par with the Terminator from the standpoint of “coolness” factor.  But the trick that he wasn’t really the villain of the movie made him that much more compelling in the film’s final moments.  Ryan Reynolds was back and equal to his last Deadpool film, and his Magnificent Seven/Samurai Seven round-up of a team was great fun.  If not for all that unwinding of what happened in the movie in the coda, this might have made the top superhero movie spot.  But Deadpool 2 was a good reminder there is something other than Disney’s MCU to make good superhero flicks.

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Unlike the animated series Star Wars: The Clone Wars, the canon series Star Wars Rebels takes place in the classic trilogy timeline, where we get to see our favorite characters, like Princess Leia, Darth Vader, Lando Calrissian, C-3PO, and Yoda, with the original actors voicing the characters (Leia excluded) in an era that is the most loved by the fan base.  It takes place five years before Star Wars: A New Hope, and it’s canon, which means all that happens there influences Star Wars Episode VIII and onward.

As one example, if you think Finn (the Stormtrooper who defects to the Resistance in Star Wars: A Force Awakens) is the first famous Star Wars character to defect from the Empire to fight for the good guys, think again.  Season Three has many reasons for Star Wars fans to keep watching.

The biggest news has been revealed in the DisneyXD previews:  Grand Admiral Thrawn becomes a part of Star Wars canon beginning tonight, voiced by Lars Mikkelsen.  Created by Timothy Zahn in the first expanded universe Star Wars trilogy novel, the excellent Heir to the Empire, Thrawn was the rare intelligent Imperial officer like Grand Moff Tarkin.  Dressed in the formal white uniform seen worn by a background actor in the original Star Wars, he is the blue-skinned humanoid who helped rebuild the Empire after the second Death Star was destroyed in Return of the Jedi.  We even see from the preview that his attending ysalimir are back.

star-wars-rebel-season-three-poster

But that’s not all.  There are many other reasons to come back for more:

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borg-label hall-of-fame-label

After climbing over our 1.4 millionth site visit at borg.com this month, it’s time to update the borg.com Hall of Fame, with borg in genre fiction from past, present, and future, and from all media.  Click here for our “About” page if you need a refresher on what makes a borg a borg.

These new inductees are primarily new additions to the world of fiction this year, but many were borgs we overlooked in prior years.  A few may or may not be borg, depending on your point of view.  Robots or androids that look perfectly human, for example, that have organic looking material but may not have actual living tissue are not technically cyborgs.

So here is Round 3, the 2015 borg.com Hall of Fame honorees, in no particular order:

Ex Machina Kyoko and Ava

Alicia Vikander’s Ava and Sonoya Mizumo’s Kyoko from this year’s critically acclaimed movie Ex Machina were stunning additions to the world of borg.  Clearly robots with artificial intelligence but they make our list with what appeared to us to be some kind of replicated organic skin.

Humans

AMC’s new TV series Humans introduced the “synths,” robotic servants that permeated the modern world.  Five of these had something more than the others, the best of these being Gemma Chan’s synth Anita, and whether you count only these five or all of them as borg, we think they fit right into our Hall of Fame.

Furiosa

Charlize Theron’s Imperator Furiosa from Mad Max: Fury Road was one of the year’s biggest hits, with Furiosa on many critic’s lists of kick-ass heroines in 2015.  Her mechanical prosthetic arm provides her entry ticket into our list of 2015 borgs.

Disney's TOMORROWLAND..Athena (Raffey Cassidy) ..Ph: Film Frame..?Disney 2015

In this year’s Disney adventure movie Tomorrowland, the girl Athena (Raffey Cassidy)reveals herself o be an “audio-animatronic robot,” but she looks entirely borg to us.  Plenty more borg are featured in the film, including the proprietors of the toy shop who are out to keep the secrets of Tomorrowland from humanity.

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Scotty in kilt

That is, if you’re in Scotland.

Census records estimate that more than twice as many people of Scottish ancestry live in the United States than in Scotland.  Is it the destiny of Scotland to declare its independence from Great Britain?  If not now, then when?  At the beginning of the day everyone has been waiting for, polls show the likely outcome as a dead heat.  We’ll soon learn the answer we’ve all been asking:  Will they or won’t they?

Of course there are all sorts of implications to a yes vote, not the least of which is what kind of economic impact it will have on England, on the United States, and the world.  If Scotland wants to make a statement to the world this could very well be Scotland’s day.  So if you’re one of those Scots that are 16 years old or older and done voting or you’re in the States and can’t vote today, then what better than a brief celebration of all things Scottish?  As Mike Myers’ character Stuart Rankin, proprietor of the store “All Things Scottish,” said on Saturday Night Live, “If it’s not Scottish, it’s crap.”

Sean Connery

Scotland is well known for its inventors and their inventions.  You wouldn’t be reading this website or surfing the Internet at all without the communications technologies that sprouted from Alexander Graham Bell’s telephone.  John Logie Baird would invent the first television.  Scots invented the refrigerator and the flush toilet, the kaleidoscope and the lawnmower.  And–shazam–James Goodfellow invented ATMs so we can get money to buy stuff on nearly any street corner.

Our future is defined in part by the adventures of a Scot in space–James Doohan’s Commander Montgomery “Scotty” Scott from Star Trek, an engineering miracle worker who exemplifies Scottish ingenuity.  And of course, there’s James Bond, the character, whose parents were Scottish, and Sir Sean Connery, the Scottish actor, the most famous Bond, and a supporter of today’s “yes” vote.

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Red 2 long banner

Review by C.J. Bunce

It’s interesting that the publicity folks for RED 2 have stressed in their latest movie trailer no Robots, Monsters, or Superheroes.  Although we’re not so sure RED 2 isn’t chock full of its own breed of superhero, it’s true you’ll find no monsters or robots here.  RED 2, previewed at borg.com here, is definitely not like any other film creating waves this summer.  But it is the most fun you’ll have at any movie this year.

You don’t need to ask, for example: Were too many people killed in the movie’s finale (as with Man of Steel)?  Or lower your normal standards a bit to allow yourself to just plain have fun watching a giant robot take on a giant monster from the ocean’s depths (as with Pacific Rim).  Or struggle with friends over whether or not Benedict Cumberbatch was cast appropriately as a sci-fi villain (as with Star Trek Into Darkness).  With RED 2, you don’t have to think about all those things that distract you from just having a good time.  Do the heroes kill a lot of people in RED 2?  You bet, and we like it that way.

Red 2 clip A

What RED 2 will make you do is think about where it stands in the line-up of the best of Bruce Willis’s movies.  When was the last time you saw such a good Bruce Willis film that made you work through that analysis?  The reality is that Bruce Willis’s performance as retired spy Frank Moses in RED 2 is up there with his first run as John McClane in the original Die Hard, and we haven’t seen him play a character this cool since Pulp Fiction.  Pull up your Netflix queue and take a second look at him in Striking Distance, Twelve Monkeys, and The Fifth Element and you might just add RED 2 to your list of Best of Bruce keepers.

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It sounds better than it is.  Star Wars is back in theaters.  “See it again for the first time.”  Before 1999 this would have been incredible huge news, and of course in 1999 it was huge news.  Back then we hadn’t seen any new Star Wars movie hit the big screen since 1985, when the last reels of Return of the Jedi played in dollar theaters across the country.  And we all lined up around the block at theaters to see this new Star Wars, this time a big “prequel,” and what would be the film to define that word forever after.

The first time the words Star Wars appeared at the top of the familiar scroll and John Williams trumpets blared from nowhere, no audience was silent.  Star Wars Episode I:  The Phantom Menace was finally here!  And then the movie began.  And there was talk of tariffs…and…what’s that?  Tariffs?  Trade routes?  And the wincing started.  And it didn’t really end until Star Wars III: Revenge of the Sith showed Darth Vader walking like Frankenstein.  I’ve always said the reason why franchises succeed is because of checks and balances and the involvement in every enterprise of several creative minds.  When one guy makes all the decisions, and presumably everyone around him is afraid to question his vision, the result is Episode 1.

That said, 1999 was a long time ago.  By now you have probably watched Episode 1 on cable more times than you would admit, simply because nothing else good was on, and, isn’t a little Star Wars universe better than no Star Wars universe?  And maybe you know some kids who weren’t going to movies in 1999.  If so, then, whether or not you love or less-than-love Episode 1, you’d be nuts not to grab that kid and go see it again.

Wait a second, what’s that you said about wincing?

I know.  You can come up with so many reasons to avoid this movie:  (1) Everyone blames Jar Jar for everything, global warming, the economy…  Personally, if George Lucas was aiming at kids just a bit with this character, then fine.  He’s only annoying when you consider being an adult viewer.  If Jar Jar was the only oddity in Episode 1, everyone would have little bad to say about the film.

Jar Jar, Qui-Gon, and Obi-Wan

(2) But you have to add to Jar Jar things like the stupefying midichlorians, an unwanted scientific explanation for the existence of Jedi that instantly shifted all this great space fantasy to questionable science fiction.  It was an unnecessary concept that made the possibility that anyone could become a Jedi, even young hopeful Earthlings, vanish.  You gotta have the noble blood.  Lame.  (3) And I already mentioned the pure excitement of discussing trade routes.  As a concept later in the prequel trilogy this might have worked, but as the first thing we saw, it started us out wrong.  (4) Then you have Queen Amidala.  What could have been used to explain the strength, leadership, and determination of Princess Leia became one of the most pathetic attempts at strong women leaders put on screen.  In Episode 1, she is foreshadowed to be paired with this much younger and smaller boy.  It all seemed so wrong.  In all three prequels she never gets to do anything, with all her greatness happening apparently off-screen.  (5) And to top off the bad, the one character we cared about, that we wanted to see, was never Anakin.  It was Obi-Wan Kenobi.  The guy who first whispered about the clone wars to us.  His past was key to everything.  And in Episode 1 instead of someone awe-inspiring we got a young, pompous, arrogant jerk with a goofy haircut.  We didn’t want to idolize Jedi Knights as protectors who were better than the rest of us.  We wanted Jedi who would stand shoulder to shoulder with the little guy.  Samurai, not WWII military police.  (6)  Phantom Menace as a title, announced well before the release, was indicative of the weird we’d get.  Luckily all the other titles were far better.  (7) Haven’t we already given enough of our earnings to the House of Lucas?  (8) One final thing (because we could go on forever):  CGI Yoda can’t touch Muppet Yoda from The Empire Strikes Back.  ’nuff said.

Amidala in Padme disguise

So there is a lot to wince at.  But then again maybe we should all just lighten up and go with it.  Criticizing Episode 1 is too easy.  Don’t be Simon Pegg in the TV series SpacedUnlearn what you have learned.  Why should I go to see it, you ask?

First, Darth Maul.  More specifically, Ray Park’s performance as Darth Maul.  If they didn’t get anything else right with Episode 1, they finally gave us a lightsaber battle worthy of the Jedi and an acrobatic athlete up to the task of taking on knights in space.  And Maul’s red center-handled lightsaber could not have been a better designed weapon.  Although we questioned the red face and horns, at the time we didn’t know that he was but the first in a line of several prospective alien lieutenants of varying races that were being tested to be the Emperor’s one right-hand man.

Qui-Gon, Kenobi and Zod (oh my!)

Although he was only half as cool as he should have been, with his stilted dialogue and inexplicable removal of a little boy from his mother (leaving her to be a slave!), Liam Neeson’s Qui-Gonn Jinn had a very cool look, and for what Lucas was attempting to do, he gave us a leader we all would happily follow.  And where he was lacking, we got to meet an even cooler Jedi, Mace Windu, played by Samuel L. Jackson.  His calm coolness worked, even if he didn’t get to do much yet.

Mace Windu hanging out

And one contributor to the Star Wars universe who never failed was John Williams.  His new score for Episode 1 was on par with Return of the Jedi.  Sure it was darker and less magical, but it reflected the story Williams was handed.  The seemingly never-ending pod race would have been far more painful without his new theme.  The “duel of the fates” of the climax would have been far less foreboding without his incredible soundtrack.

Composer John Williams

Next, the costumes were just awesome.  Check out all of Natalie Portman’s 3,761 dresses.  And the set design and sound can’t be beat.

Finally, the nostalgia and pure fun may be all the reason you need to see this one.  Anthony Daniels as C-3Po.  Kenny Baker as R2-D2Tusken Raiders on Tatooine almost changing the future of the galaxy with a single rifle shot at a little boy in a pod race.  Cameos by Warwick Davis and former Star Wars, Star Trek and Lord of the Rings fan club president Dan Madsen!  Emperor Zod as a good guy!

Kenny Baker, R2-D2 and Dan Madsen

And who doesn’t like 3D?  Just pop some Excedrin before you go.  It might help prevent the headache behind your eyes.

Besides, putting aside the way cool and creepy Daniel Radcliffe movie The Woman in Red, or the 3D version of Disney’s best animated work, Beauty and the Beast, what else are you going to see in theaters this weekend that is any better than the Star Wars universe in 3D?  Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close?  The Vow?  The Grey?  There are three great reasons right there to buy tickets for Episode 1 in 3D before they’re sold out.  And it might whet your appetite while you wait for a better film to return, Attack of the Clones, and then later the real fun begins–the original Star Wars in 3D and then The Empire Strikes Back in 3D.

C.J. Bunce

Editor

borg.com