Tag Archive: Disney


Notable in part for being the first animated movie out of Disney without the work of creator John Lasseter in 15 years, the next major animated movie from Disney features the voices of two well-known genre stars, and it looks a bit on theme with Disney’s last live-action movie, Mulan.  Raya and the Last Dragon is all computer-animated, and it features the voices of Kelly Marie Tran (Star Wars: The Last Jedi) as Raya, a warrior heroine who is seeking the Last Dragon, named Sisu, voiced by comedy actor Awkwafina (Jumanji: The Next Level), all in a classic fantasy The Hobbit or The Last Unicorn-homage tale.

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Founded in 1939 by Martin Goodman as Timely Comics, then re-branding as Atlas Comics, becoming a household name in 1961 thanks to the inspiration of creators Stan Lee, Jack Kirby, and Steve Ditko, hitting its low in bankruptcy, but rising like the Phoenix to become a movie franchise and Disney property in the 21st century, Marvel Comics has seen eight decades of change.  A new hardcover book aims to chronicle all that.  Marvel: The First 80 Years–The True Story of a Pop-Culture Phenomenon is coming your way next month.

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Review by Elizabeth C. Bunce

One of the news items from this weekend’s San Diego Comic-Con was a push of completed Disney and Fox movies out several months to insure full movie theater returns for the studio, while pushing out the door in advance of a full audience return films like The New Mutants and Kenneth Branagh’s follow-up to his adaptation of Agatha Christie’s Murder on the Orient Express, Death on the Nile, now arriving October 23.  Those of us excited for the next all-star Hercule Poirot adventure can be glad that at least means a home release sooner than later.  In the meantime Amazon Prime has a brilliant BBC production of a classic mystery novel, previously adapted by Alfred Hitchcock, and adapted most recently in 2013, of The Lady Vanishes.  

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Forty years ago a research vessel found a missing spaceship commanded by a mysterious scientist on the edge of a black hole.   Unfortunately it all happened two years after Star Wars.  Unlike Disney’s 1982 hit Tron, which would gain a large fan following, Disney’s winter 1979 science fiction film The Black Hole got left behind or at least somewhere in-between.  Nominated for Oscars for best cinematography, best effects, and best visual effects, the effects today don’t hold up so well, and the movie is known more for its soundtrack than anything else.  But its promise was an interesting slate of leading actors: Robert Forster, Maximilian Schell, Anthony Perkins, and Ernest Borgnine (who probably should be an honorary borg here just on principal).  If you hold any nostalgia for the movie, it’s probably because of the unique robots: V.I.N.CENT (which stands for Vital Information Necessary CENTralized) voiced by Roddy McDowall, and B.O.B. (which stands for Bio-Sanitation Batallion)–a robot who has seen better days, voiced by Slim Pickens.  And one more–not only was the star of the movie named Maximilian (this confused me as a kid), so was the evil red robot.  For fans of the movie, you’re in luck this year, as Disney Select is issuing all three as action figures.

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Review by C.J. Bunce

It it’s not a Ford, it’s crap.  That maxim gets put to the test in the next must-see movie while you’re sheltering at home.

A four-time Oscar nominee only a few weeks ago, Ford v Ferrari (as titled in the U.S., it’s Le Mans ’66 everywhere else) revisits that legendary battle of man vs machine vs man.  And boy, oh, boy, does director James Mangold find the sweet spot for the auto racing motif and create a superb film for any audience.  Mangold, who has directed some brilliant movies, including Cop Land and Logan, found the right leading and supporting cast and a story that will keep you sitting at the edge of your seat whether or not you’re a fan of auto races.  But it’s Christian Bale that is the star of the film, ditching his affected American accent and playing the quirky, savvy, and real Ken Miles in the year of races that earned him entry into the Hall of Fame.  Ford v Ferrari is available at sell-through prices on all the major streaming platforms, and it’s great drama, so you won’t want to overlook it.

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Baby Yoda 1

Plenty of genre television is out there right now for viewers at home to consume.  But discovering that one that is so exceptional is truly an exciting thing.  So you might stumble through Tales from the Loop or Locke & Key or Briarpatch and give up before you even get to the halfway point, but then you land on The Mandalorian and know what great genre television has the potential to be.

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Review by C.J. Bunce

As the ninth and final film in the Skywalker Saga arrives in a home video release, the fifth volume from Abrams Books chronicling the entirety of the Disney-era Star Wars concept artwork is here.  The Art of Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker does not disappoint in showing readers the expansive designs for a film that stepped ahead of its predecessor with more ships, more action, more aliens, more weaponry, and more costume designs.  Our only hope is that Abrams obtains the rights to create a similar volume continuing this series of books, documenting the first season of The Mandalorian.  One thing every fan will notice who has watched all eleven movies in the franchise–more than ever readers can now clearly see elements from each prequel, each original trilogy episode, and each Star Wars Story film incorporated into the sets, ships, and characters in this final installment.

As with the first two books in the trilogy, this look at the Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker shows paths taken and, more interestingly, paths not taken by production designer Rick Carter, franchise veteran Kevin Jenkins, and the rest of the art design team.  This includes alternate costumes for Rey, Finn, Poe, Lando, Zorii, and Jannah, new pilots, stormtroopers, droids, and new worlds of creature concepts.  Probably more than the past volumes in the series, this book has close-up detailed views at props, including lightsaber and other weaponry, all in search of that design element that says “Star Wars” to the movie audience.

Phil Szostak lets the artwork take center stage in this fourth book in the series (he also wrote The Art of Star Wars: The Force Awakens, The Art of Star Wars: The Last Jedi, and The Art of Solo: A Star Wars Story, all reviewed here at borg)–prior books had more textual commentary.  Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker (reviewed here and available in all digital formats today), the ninth and final episode in the Skywalker family story in the universe George Lucas created, saw the return of director J.J. Abrams and his strategy of evoking the trilogy to maximum benefit, with many images inspired by original Ralph McQuarrie concepts.  So it may come as no surprise that The Art of Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker feels like a book of original trilogy designs.  The artwork from dozens of contributors mirrors the iconography, the color patterns, the lighting, the costuming, and set pieces from The Return of the Jedi especially.

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Tom Hiddleston’s Loki is likely the most popular villain in all of the Marvel Cinematic Universe.  So a Loki series–coming soon to pay streaming provider Disney+, makes a lot of sense.  But why haven’t we seen more of what it will be about?  A new trailer Disney released this weekend gives a glimpse at the next three TV series for Marvel after winding down all its popular series at Netflix.  This one features WandaVision, The Falcon and the Winter Soldier, and Loki Each series is slated to have six episodes, so basically audiences will get three feature-length movies released in six parts, to maximize Disney streaming revenues.

The Falcon and the Winter Soldier, to star Anthony Mackie and Sebastian Stan, gets some more screen time in this trailer than Loki, but not much.  An odd team-up, it will be interesting to see if Disney can make this into something other than a bridge between the different phases of the Marvel movies.

Although we love seeing co-star Elizabeth Olsen in her traditional Scarlet Witch comic book outfit (above), we must ask: what audience is WandaVision aimed at?  This first real look at the show, still only a peek, makes it appear like a cross between I Dream of Jeanie and Bewitched.  The character Vision (played by Paul Bettany) died in the movies.  Black Widow died, too, and she’s getting a full-length film, but it’s already been explained hers an early story and she’s a major character (so it’s about time).  But Wanda and Vision in a sitcom?

Take a look at this preview for all three shows and see what you think:

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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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Review by C.J. Bunce

A blend of Spectre, Mission: Impossible, and Zootopia is coming your way this Christmas, and it has the look, humor, strong writing, and overall vibe of The Incredibles.  It’s director Nick Bruno and Troy Quane′s new animated film, Spies in DisguiseWant to see a U.S. version of James Bond?  How about Will Smith as James Bond?  Or a story focused on the character Q?  Like The Incredibles it has a great musical score, fast action, quick edits, lifelike CGI environments, and fun that will having you laughing out loud throughout the entire movie.  That and more is what you get with Spies in DisguiseIn his third film this year, Will Smith isn’t actually playing James Bond, but a familiar type of spy named Lance Sterling, who works in a U.S. spy facility in Washington, DC, located under the National Mall.  At the section that is the equivalent of the Bond world’s Q Branch is a host of scientists making the latest weaponry and safety equipment for Sterling and his peers.

Enter Spider-Man actor Tom Holland′s Walter Beckett, who has been an inventor of spy gadget toys since his youth, living with his mom who was a cop who later died on duty, and now he’s creating the real thing.  Only Walter’s gadgets don’t kill or hurt–they resolve conflicts in other ways.  Sterling learns this when he tries to set off a bomb when surrounded by 70 villains at a drug lord’s lair in Japan.  Instead of leaving everyone dead, it sets off Walter’s Kitty Glitter bomb–which allows Sterling to escape by temporarily disorienting the enemy with a glitter cloud and cute cat video.  This is a great family film with heart like you’d find in the Aardman’s holiday treasure Arthur Christmas, putting a stiff master spy with a young optimist very much like Arthur of the Christmas movie, borrowing that film’s theme, “being weird or different is cool.”

To defeat Sterling’s greatest foes–a cyborg with a high-tech arm named Killian voiced by Rogue One, Ready Player One, and Captain Marvel’s Ben Mendelsohn and the drug lord, Kimura, voiced by Heroes, Hawaii Five-O, and The Meg’s Masi Oka–Sterling needs the ultimate weapon.  Walter thinks he has that weapon almost perfected, but before he has a chance to explain it Sterling drinks down the formula for it.  As advertised in the trailer, it makes Sterling d-i-s-a-p-p-e-a-r, and in Walter’s view disappear means take on the form of a pigeon–yes, a pigeon–so the spy won’t be detected, because nobody pays attention to pigeons, right?  Every city has ’em.  And it only gets better from there.  Walter’s Q shop of tech ideas is nothing short of brilliant, funny, and even thought-provoking, including his all-protective Inflatable Hug.

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