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Tag Archive: Frank Oz


Gelfling.  Skeksis.  Mystic.  Podling.

As we continue our celebration of the films of the summer of 1982, who could forget the fantasy that maintained its status as the most beloved of fantasy film creations for decades to come: Frank Oz and Jim Henson’s The Dark Crystal.  Thirty-five years later fans can return again to the world of Thra as an all-new adventure is coming your way: The Dark Crystal: Age of Resistance.  The 10-episode fantasy adventure series, available exclusively on Netflix, is a prequel that takes place many years before the events of the original film.  The series is being filmed in the U.K. and will star an ensemble of fantastical, state-of-the-art creatures created by Jim Henson’s Creature Shop, conceptual designer for The Dark Crystal Brian Froud, and possibly by you.

When three young Gelfling discover the horrifying secret behind the Skeksis’ power, they set out on an epic journey to ignite the fires of rebellion and save their world.  This brief description and an introductory video (below), is all that has been released so far for the new series–until this month’s contest.

Contestants are asked to draw, by hand or digitally, an original creature concept for the world of The Dark Crystal and submit their designs online.  The winner will be awarded $500 and the winning concept design will be crafted and built by Jim Henson’s Creature Shop to make a possible cameo appearance in the upcoming series.  This small, woodland creature must be a brand new concept – it cannot be a variation of an existing species from the original film.  All ideas are welcome, as long as they feel true to the world of The Dark Crystal, without being a variation of an existing Brian Froud drawing.  Contestants should also provide a paragraph of 50–100 words about the creature, including its name and back story. Continue reading

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crystalskeksis

This year Funko ReAction proved it can create the ultimate mix of nostalgia and quality.  The toy line famous for bringing to fanboys and fangirls action figures that were never made when these modern classics played in theaters has released images of its sculpts and packaging for The Dark Crystal.  The first figures from the ultimate 1980s fantasy film reveal Funko’s ReAction division’s best work so far.

We first heard about the ReAction line working on a project to bring to the market a set of figures from The Dark Crystal here at borg.com way back in November 2013 when its first retro line-up hit the market, featuring characters from Alien.  Funko has come a long way and proven to be a toy industry driver, particularly with its other toy lines like Pop! and Dorbz figures.  The small yet surprisingly complete set from The Dark Crystal is reminiscent of the successful and similarly small set of Raiders of the Lost Ark figures from the early 1980s.  Kudos are owed to Nena Ijiomah, aka Queen of Gates on Tumblr, the Funko 3D sculptor who simply nailed these designs.  You really see the care that went into these figures from images of her original designs.

nena-ijiomah-sculpt-dark-crystal-funko   nena-ijiomah-at-funko-3d-sculpt

Jim Henson and Frank Oz, directing The Dark Crystal, along with Brian Froud’s Muppet creature creations, showed us a glimpse at what might have been had Henson lived out a longer life.  Each of Froud’s unique beings–from the cute and toothy Fizzgig to the beautiful Landstrider, the creepy Skeksis, the haunting Garthim, the solemn mystic Ursol, and heroic Jen and Kira–all receive a loyal and respectable re-creation in this series.  And each figure includes a piece of the purple crystal, so, as the Pokémon Go kids say “ya gotta catch ’em all.”

Two boxed sets are exclusives and not so easy to track down.  The rest can be pre-ordered now from Entertainment Earth by clicking on the images above and below (after the break).

crystalkira    crystaljen

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Big Bird in The Muppet Movie

If you can’t get enough of Sesame Street and The Muppets like this big kid who grew up with these shows and characters, then a 2014 documentary now available on Amazon is just for you.  I Am Big Bird: The Caroll Spinney Story is a feature-length documentary about the original, and only, Muppets puppeteer who has performed Big Bird and Oscar the Grouch in the 45-year history of Sesame Street.

I Am Big Bird is a love letter of sorts, set to a bittersweet soundtrack.  Filmmakers created an emotional look at a performing artist, his wife, and his relationship with Jim Henson and the cast and performers of Sesame Street from the beginning to the present incarnation of the show.  Spinney comes through as every bit the kindhearted soul of his feathery yellow alter ego.  Highlights of the film include the impact of Big Bird on the world, from teaching little kids from 1969 onward, to being credited in part with the demise of a candidate’s presidential bid.  And nothing is more nostalgic than catching up with original Muppeteer Frank Oz and the original human cast of Sesame Street as they recount working with Caroll, including Bob McGrath (Bob), Sonia Manzano (Maria), Emilio Delgado (Luis), and Roscoe Orman (Gordon).

I am Big Bird poster

Expect to hold back (or not) some tears during the documentary.  Plenty of down moments provide benchmarks in the life and times of Big Bird: the Sesame Street episode featuring Big Bird about the death of Mr. Hooper, an incredibly poised Caroll performing Big Bird singing “It Ain’t Easy Bein’ Green” at the funeral of Jim Henson, and the segment discussing Caroll’s space travel preparation with NASA when he was asked to be among the Challenger space shuttle crew, only to be rejected when they realized the Big Bird suit was too big (and then teacher Christa McAuliffe took his place), a group of ROTC students nearly destroy his Big Bird costume, and even the replacement by Elmo as most popular character on the show serves as a downbeat event.

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Lando in Star Wars Rebels

We initially had some trepidation when it came to the new Disney animated TV series, Star Wars Rebels, set five years before the original Star Wars movie (A New Hope) and 14 years after Episode III.  We reviewed the first movie length pilot episode here, now available on DVD at Amazon.com here.  Focus on the younger character Ezra and the more cartoony silliness initially pointed to kids as the target audience for the show.  But as the series gained its stride, it became not only a good tie-in for diehard Star Wars fans, but something real, honest to goodness, Star Wars canon fans can be excited about, with its inclusion of original trilogy cast members as voice actors.  And its primary and supporting cast work will have you wanting to watch it again and eagerly anticipate Season Two when it returns to Disney XD at your next binge session.

The high point surprised us: The return of Billy Dee Williams as Lando Calrissian in an adventure before The Empire Strikes Back.  If you hate the fact that his primary role in the original trilogy was as a betrayer of Han Solo, you can finally see why Han previously was friends with him.  Sure, he was an opportunist even back then, but he was also skillful and suave, and, believe it or not, much cooler than he was portrayed in the movies.  That’s something worth seeing.

Star Wars Rebels C-3PO

But it didn’t stop with Billy Dee Williams.  The first episode, “Droids in Distress,” featured the return of Anthony Daniels as the voice of C-3P0.  In the ninth episode the great and powerful Frank Oz returned to voice the part of Yoda, in “Path of the Jedi.”  And how about James Earl Jones as Darth Vader again?  You can’t really get more canon than that.  Well, at least until we see Mark Hamill, Carrie Fisher, Harrison Ford, Peter Mayhew, Anthony Daniels, and Kenny Baker (and not only just hear them) return in Episode VII later his year.

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Muppets Most Wanted

Admit it, you know it’s true.  You really can’t go wrong with the Muppets and especially a new Muppet movie.  Back to the original The Muppet Movie in 1979, which included an all-star human cast of cameos along with the main Muppet players, to the 2011 rejuvenation of the Muppets on the big screen in The Muppets, the Muppets are all-around good fun.  In 2014 the next Muppet film will be released, Muppets Most Wanted, and “sequel” is the emphasis of this first trailer for the movie just released this past week.

And if you love the original The Muppet Movie as much as we do (it scored #3 on my all-time best fantasy movie list we discussed here at borg.com last year), then you’ll not want to miss your chance to get the pre-release discount of more than eight dollars for The Muppet Movie: The Nearly 35th Anniversary Edition at Amazon.com.  But act fast since the release date is August 13, 2013, so you have a day to get your order in.

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Monsters-University-Mike

A few reasons we’re previewing the trailer for the prequel to Monsters, Inc., the June 2013 release Monsters University.

1.  Monsters, Inc., as a Disney/Pixar release was a pretty funny movie, with an actual plot, and with some laugh-out-loud comic dialogue of Billy Crystal and John Goodman.

2.  The trailer for Monsters University is a good one for a prequel, taking Crystal’s one-eyed Mike Wazowski to his first meeting with Goodman’s furry blue monster Sulley.

3.  The post-movie features and gag reel that played after Monsters, Inc. was one of the best shown after any movie since Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, and we hope Disney/Pixar includes more after Monsters University.

4.  This is the first time I’ve seen scenes from my own college experience reproduced in a motion picture.

5.  Just look at the great line-up of actors featured in this movie:  Nathan Fillion, Frank Oz, Steve Buscemi, Helen Mirren, Alfred Molina, Bonnie Hunt, Dave Foley, and Joel Murray.

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