Tag Archive: George Lucas


Yoda and Luke

Review by C.J. Bunce

After the completion of the Star Wars prequels, George Lucas sat down and went frame by frame through all six Star Wars movies, examining literally hundreds of thousands of images and selecting about 250 screen grabs from each film, frames that he believed showed particular artistry, each in its own right.  The result was 2011’s limited edition of 1,138 boxed sets called Star Wars: Frames, sold for $3,000, and now only rarely available with one set being sold at Amazon.com for a whopping $11,500.  Thanks to Abrams Books, Star Wars: Frames is being re-released this month in a far less expensive but complete edition, collecting 1,472 stills from all six films in the Star Wars saga.  It is without a doubt the definitive visual work on Star Wars, in a rare league of deluxe book editions along with long out-of-print Dressing a Galaxy: The Costume of Star Wars and Sculpting a Galaxy: Inside the Star Wars Model Shop as the best Star Wars books ever released.

Star Wars Frames

This more affordable, unabridged version of Star Wars: Frames includes two hardcover books, each covering one of the two movie trilogies in 368 pages, housed in a hefty Death Star-themed silver box.  Listing at a published price of $150, you can buy it for less than $100 at Amazon.com.  The only difference between the $3,000 version and this version is the original was issued in a six-book set (one book for each film instead of one for each trilogy), with each image taking up a full page, packaged in a wooden crate instead of cardboard.   The content is the same.  Star Wars: Frames will be released November 5, 2013, but we received an early review copy this week.  The book lives up to its promise, in surprising ways.

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The-Star-Wars-comic-logo

Review by C.J. Bunce

It might not be the best thing since sliced bread, but it is the best thing since the original Star Wars trilogy for fans of the original classic, maybe even the best thing since The Empire Strikes Back.  It is Dark Horse Comics’ new Star Wars eight-issue limited series titled The Star Wars.  Regular borg.com readers today get a chance to see what all of our whooping and hollering has been about as Issue #1 hits comic book stores across North America.

What’s the big deal?  As much as Dark Horse Comics is the rightful home of all Star Wars expanded universe comic book series and every month proves why the Star Wars licensing should stay with the Oregon-based publisher, this new series raises the bar even higher.  First off, it for the first time adapts the equivalent of “The Lost Ark of the Covenant” of original movie scripts–the original 1974 George Lucas fully fleshed-out screenplay for Star Wars, then titled “The Star Wars.”  This makes it a once in a lifetime opportunity for both script writer J.W. Rinzler and superstar comic book artist Mike Mayhew to really show-off their best work of their careers so far.  And it gives us not only what Star Wars fans already want: more Star Wars, but it’s giving us more of the kind of Star Wars that caught us all up in this crazy Star Wars Universe in the first place, where half of the population of the United States has hocked their life savings to own complete sets of every Star Wars trading card, comic, action figure, bust, poster, coin, stamp, glassware, stuffed figure, game, book, sticker, costume, mask, prop weapon, toy, shoes, shirt, cereal, fruit roll-up…  And it’s something altogether new.  It’s retro-Star Wars.

The Star Wars Issue 1 cover

Dark Horse Comics already presented us with an interesting comic book series this year, bridging the period between Star Wars and The Empire Strikes Back in a new monthly series.  It was a good way to give us some of that nostalgia.  The Star Wars is even better.  The Star Wars Issue #1 begins with a series opener that will instantly convince you this is something unique.  It’s own sci-fi event.  Raw, gritty story elements that never would have made it to a Hollywood movie in the 1970s.  Would this story have made Star Wars as beloved as what we saw in the original trilogy of films?  Who’s to say, but after all that happens in Issue #1 you will be left thinking it very well could have.

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Joker graffiti in Batman 1989

By C.J. Bunce

American Graffiti.  Just two weeks ago the George Lucas classic coming of age film about high school graduates in 1962 came back for the first national release in movie theaters in decades (we discussed it here at borg.com).  In a series of interconnected vignettes Lucas gave us a snapshot of kids and cars and cruising culture, popular then and now.  American Graffiti wasn’t the original title, and, as the story goes, the film’s backers had no idea what the title meant, but it was better than Another Quiet Night in Modesto or other proposals so they just went with it.  No graffiti actually plays into the plot, and the viewer can conceive his or her own meaning to this now classic movie title.

Graffiti as pop art?  Actual graffiti in America, in many ways hasn’t changed a lot, and it doesn’t share the same feelings of nostalgia as the eponymous film.  A form of vandalism, its very nature is something covert, rebellious and illegal.  Spray paint is the medium and the canvas is anything and everything from highway overpasses to train cars to building walls.  The stealth required gives the creator a challenge–maybe even the adrenaline rush that fuels some that are behind it.  Over the years the costs to city governments to wash or sand or scrub off graffiti prompted many cities to work with local graffiti artists–designating projects and mural locations where local creators could show off their creativity.  It’s a constructive bridging of law and order and a radical form of expression.

Iowa State Fair 2013 butter cow

A freshly cleaned up butter cow at the 2013 Iowa State Fair.

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Alternative cover to The Star Wars

Imagine General Skywalker not as a whiny farmboy but as a swaggering force to be reckoned with very much like John Wayne in The Searchers.  He’s father of two boys:  Annikin, the tough older brother with the look of Alan Tudyk, and Deak, well, Deak is a bit like Anakin, the excited little farmboy from the movie prequels.  Imagine a very young Princess Leia Nash with her mother and father and siblings Biggs and Windy on their home planet before war comes along.  The Emperor, with the look of Ming the Merciless from Flash Gordon, presides over the capital city of Alderaan, where he has aligned his political influences to wipe out the last of the outlawed Jedi, based in the Aquilean System…

556177tsw1jc Cassaday incentive cover

We’ve previewed the first issue of The Star Wars, probably the most eagerly awaited Star Wars event since the prequels were first released in theaters, and we think everyone will want to get their hands on this eight-issue mini-series from Dark Horse Comics that hits comic book stores on September 4, 2013.  Based on George Lucas’s original rough draft screenplay, you will absolutely find more than a few story and character elements that are better than… dare we say… those found in the original Star Wars: A New Hope movie.  Blasphemy?  Maybe, but J.W. Rinzler, whose worked we’ve reviewed here at borg.com before, no doubt has connected missing pieces from the Lucas source material to begin for us this intriguing parallel universe of the world of the Jedi-Bendu, the Great Rebellion, and the Knights of Sith.  And of course, The Star Wars couldn’t have a better artist on this project with the new futuristic yet familiar worlds required for this story via borg.com favorite artist Mike Mayhew.  Mayhew has a way of letting his characters show gripping emotion, conveying in just one panel feelings that some artists never achieve in their work–and his first issue is simply stunning.

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Mike Mayhew The Star Wars panel 4

First it was Mike Mayhew and Star Trek and Doctor Who.
Then it was Mike Mayhew and Green Arrow.
Then it was Mike Mayhew and The Bionic Man and The Bionic Woman.
Now it’s Mike Mayhew and Star Wars.

Isn’t it great when the stars align and the people creating new entertainment are in sync with your view of the world?  Like taking your all-time favorite genre franchise and mixing it with your current favorite artist?

To quote Spike from Buffy the Vampire Slayer, “This is just… neat.”

The comic book licensee to the Star Wars universe, Dark Horse Comics has announced one of the coolest ideas you could put together.  Go back to George Lucas’s original take on Star Wars–before the edits and revisions and treatments and full-blown screenplays. Take that original story and re-imagine the Star Wars universe as if the original vision was Star Wars.  That’s exactly what long-time Lucasfilm executive editor J.W. Rinzler and current The Bionic Man cover artist Mike Mayhew have up their sleeves.  Coming in September 2013 is an eight-issue mini-series, titled The Star Wars, the title of Lucas’s 1974 version of the Star Wars saga.

Mike Mayhew The Star Wars panel 3

The images above and below are Mike Mayhew’s first released panel art from The Star Wars.

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Flash Gordon Vol 2 cover

Review by C.J. Bunce

The second volume in the high-quality restored hardcover library edition of the original The Complete Flash Gordon Library was released December 18, 2012, and it measures up in every way to the first volume, reviewed here at borg.com this past October.  Volume 2, along with Volume 1, made the borg.com Best of 2012 for Best Comics Collected Edition.

The original weekly four-color comic strip series continues courtesy of restoration work by Peter Maresca.  Continuing where Volume 1 left off, this volume, titled The Tyrant of Mongo includes strips originally published between April 1937 and January 1941, created by artist Alex Raymond and writer Don Moore.

Awesome Raymond Flash panel

Comic book and science fiction writer Doug Murray continues his essay setting the background for the times in which Flash Gordon was written.  He includes interesting detail like the fact Raymond used life models for some of his work, much like that employed by artist Alex Ross today.  Ross counts Raymond as a key influence in his own work.

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Year's En

Merry Christmas!

It’s the end of December and another year is winding down.  Everywhere you turn someone is talking about the Best of 2012, so here we offer our take, resulting from absorbing more content this year than ever before, from books to movies to TV to comics, we reviewed and previewed entertainment from most of the big comic book publishers, and received screeners of shows and books from different publishing houses.  And we watched a lot of TV and went to a number of movies.  So what was the best of the best this year?  No one will ever have the same list but here’s where we ended up:

Best Genre Movie:  The Hobbit.  We had to wait all year for the release but once we saw it–it was well worth the wait and we want to go back and see it again and again.  How could you possibly follow one of the only fantasy films ever to win a Best Picture Academy Award and expect to come close in quality and entertainment?  Peter Jackson figured it out.  Not even The Avengers came close to touching this epic film with giant sets, special effects, elaborate costumes, a perfect story adaptation, and the best CGI creature to date: a Gollum even better than in The Lord of the Rings trilogy.

Best Dramatic Film: Argo It was an international event more recent in the public psyche than even Watergate, yet it had never been addressed on the silver screen before–the kidnapping of American nationals in Iran.  Ben Affleck served as both director and star of the film and performed both roles brilliantly.  Both exciting and funny–with the incredibly bizarre hook of using Hollywood to create a sci-fi B movie as CIA cover to sneak in to Iran and remove a small group of hostages–it was a story worthy of adapting to screen.  Brilliant!

Best Animated Movie: Brave Kelly McDonald’s wonderful Scottish voice, an all-star Brit voice cast including Emma Thompson, Bill Connolly, Julie Walters and Robbie Coltrane, coupled with Brenda Chapman’s story and the best of Walt Disney and Pixar’s animation so far, make Brave the slam dunk animated film winner of 2012.   A gorgeous film about a tough and feisty red-headed girl skilled with a bow and arrow who wants to make her own destiny provided a great story for young and old alike.

Best Animated TV Series: Tron: Uprising Disney Television Animation finally figured out a way to bring its Tron franchise forward with Tron: Legacy, and this prequel series gives us what the movie lacked–more Bruce Boxleitner as Tron.  We hardly noticed this wasn’t a live action series, and with voice actors like Frodo’s Elijah Wood, Alien’s Lance Henriksen, Paul Reubens and Tricia Helfer, you could hardly go wrong.  The brilliant choice of lighting, futuristic yet retro light cycles and funky soundtrack made this one worth coming back for each week.

Grimm-Silas-Weir-Mitchell-Bree-Turner

Best Actor: Silas Weir Mitchell, Grimm With the updates for the second season of Grimm, Mitchell’s reformed Blutbad Monroe was hard to beat as the sometimes hilarious sometimes dramatic glue that held the series together, setting up new conflicts, like the strange discovery of Renard and Juliette’s relationship, sure to drive the story next year.

Ksenia Solo as Kenzi in Lost Girl

Best Actress: Ksenia Solo, Lost Girl.  As succubus and series star Bo’s tagalong human friend and roommate Kenzi, Solo held half of the dramatic workload for the Canadian series first released to U.S. audiences this year on the Syfy Channel.  The Latvian born actress plays it funny and smart–she makes for the ideal kickass girl from the best genre fiction stories.

Cobie Smulders in The Avengers

Best Breakout Role–Female:  Cobie Smulders as S.H.I.E.L.D. Agent Maria Hill in The Avengers.  We knew her already from How I Met Your Mother, but Smulders took what could have been a throwaway background role in the biggest movie of the year and instead put her character’s footing almost on par with the Avengers themselves, heading up an early chase scene and appearing with Samuel L. Jackson’s Nick Fury throughout the film.  Now she’s set to come back for the next Avengers films, she’s a character that we never knew about but are glad she’s on the team going forward.

Max Greenfield in New Girl

Best Breakout Role–Male: Max Greenfield as Schmidt in New Girl.  Greenfield is one among a handful of great young actors in New Girl, now in its second season, but this season his character Schmidt stepped out to create the craziest, most hysterical moment of nearly every episode.  Whether he is ranting that there is no black Santa Claus, or trying to show a stripper how to lap dance the right way, whether he is wearing his high-cut male kimono, ranting about germs, or his stupid actions result in him putting the most money in the coffee table jar, Greenfield took a funny part and stretched it to insanely funny.  This from the same guy who performed dramatic roles in Veronica Mars, Life and Castle?  Awesome.

Best Guest Appearance:  Scientist Neil deGrasse Tyson’s appearance in Action Comics. It was a bit of a marketing gimmick, but what could tie the education of real science, a popular TV non-fiction series host and comic book readers together better?  The real star-vested Tyson found a possible location for Superman’s home planet of Krypton, revealing it to the Man of Steel in the pages of the ongoing series.

Best TV series: Arrow, CW Network.  We got our first look at the pilot for this series at Comic-Con this year and loved it, but wasn’t sure how it would appeal to a mass audience.  Pretty much everyone we know watches this series, including those who would never otherwise think to look at a series about a masked superhero.  We have a critical eye out for all things Green Arrow, but Arrow, led by a well-cast Stephen Amell, surpassed our expectations.

Best Comedy Series: New Girl, Fox Network.  New Girl wins this category from one simple thing: This series made this writer laugh so hard his gut hurt and corresponding tears shot out of his eyes from the quick humor in so many scenes this year he lost count.  And when the series dipped into dramatic elements it never veered far from the core of what makes the show work–it’s a comedy first.  Tuesday night this year was New Girl night.  Jess, Nick, Schmidt, Winston and Cece could be the next Friends (but funnier) if the series can get a wider audience.

Sherlock Belgravia episode

Best Single TV Episode: Sherlock, “A Scandal in Belgravia,” BBC America.  You just have to watch this episode of Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman’s brilliant series over and over.  The entry of the beautiful and unpredictable Irene Adler, played by Lara Pulver, was perfection, and Cumberbatch and Martin’s scene with Sherlock’s brother Mycroft in Buckingham Palace can’t be beat.  Sure to be a classic episode for years to come.

Best Cliffhanger: Shawn’s dad gets shot, Psych, USA Network.  It seems like it has been forever since Shawn’s dad Henry, played by Corbin Bernsen was shot at the end of this season’s last episode of the hit USA Network comedy/drama series.  At its core, Psych is a light-hearted pleasure, so they just CAN’T kill off Henry.  We’re really looking forward to finding out.

Best Series Ender: In Plain Sight, USA Network.*  In a year where several mega-hits wrapped for good, including House, M.D., The Closer, Awake, and Chuck, one series finale tied up all the necessary loose ends the best, and that was the aptly titled “All’s Well that Ends” from In Plain Sight, which ended after five solid seasons.  The writers skipped the gimmicks, with no gut wrenching death scenes for major cast players, but instead honored the characters as they’d been for the entire series, rewarding viewers with an end where everyone wins.  *Update:  Leverage‘s surprise December 25, 2012 series finale came in with a powerhouse finale, slightly trumping In Plain Sight at the last minute after we posted this piece.  See our review here.

Jason Isaacs in Awake

Best Series that Cancelled Too Early: Awake, NBC Network We only got to see 12 episodes of Awake, but in those episodes we saw a great paranormal drama develop.  Jason Isaacs, like Paul Blackthorne, is one of those actors you want to helm a series every week.  His dual role of father who lost his kid and husband that lost his wife, both in the same auto accident, showed this actor could do anything with a role.  Although they were able to nicely wrap-up Awake in its last episode, we’d prefer to have seen a lot more of it.

Best Surprise in Entertainment: Dallas, TNT Network.  How was this even possible?  Who would think to take THE 1980s primetime soap and bring it forward to 2012, AND think it could work?  TNT mixed a CW Network-inspired young cast with a plot continuing the struggles in the classic series and melded it into something for anyone willing to give it a try.  Larry Hagman’s J.R. Ewing never missed a beat as the ultimate TV villain, even in his 80s.  The writers took bits from the tangents of the original to concoct the main storyline of two young heirs fighting for family and social dominance.  The result was addictive TV.

The Major Crimes Gallery

Best Comeback:  The ensemble cast of Major Crimes The great thing about a great ensemble cast is that you like every player equally.  When this is successful, you can stand to lose a character or two and still keep going, or as was the case with the wind-up of The Closer, lose three main characters: Deputy Chief Brenda Lee Johnson, Chief Pope, and Sgt. Gabriel.  Major Crimes added three new replacement characters and never missed a beat, pleasing fans who knew it was too soon for the stories from the L.A. Major Crimes unit to end.

Best Second Wind: Haven, Syfy Channel Some cable TV series limp along and just end after a year or two.  Haven’s single theme of solving the riddle of “the troubles” seemed a candidate for this, but something switched on with the 2012 season allowing the rich stories and great cast chemistry to give us the series’ best episodes in its three-year run so far.

Volkswagen cantina commercial

Best Genre-Related Advertisement:  Star Wars Super Bowl ad, Volkswagen The best Super Bowl ad last January with a dog, a James Brown tune, and a pristine recreation of the Mos Eisley Cantina from the original Star Wars was an instant classic that will be hard to beat in 2013.  Complete with its own recreated hive of scum and villainy, Tom Spina Designs’ creatures gave us something we want to see more of–maybe a new Disney-produced TV series based in Mos Eisley using all these obscure characters fanboys know by name?  Missed it?  See the full ad here.

Best Press Marketing: Coma mini-series press kit, A&E Network We at borg.com received tons of content this year, from books to comics to advance screeners, but one marketing gag was so awesome in its own right it surpassed what it was advertising.  The advance marketing for the Coma TV series marked a possible return by A&E to the classic TV shows we used to get in the days of shows like Price and Prejudice or Nero Wolfe.  Sporting an underground conspiracy plotline, print and online ads created a cool concept that the mini-series itself did not quite match.  When we received a human organ carrier in a “thawed” labeled box that we cautiously unzipped to find the screener, well that was just too awesome not to mention again.

Best Costumes: The Hobbit The Hobbit already made our Best Genre Movie of 2012, but it’s worth a second nod for having the most incredibly crafted costumes of possibly any film made so far in any year.  Building on the costumes of The Lord of the Rings trilogy, the slow panning of the camera in The Hobbit allowed us to see every seam on Bilbo’s patch-work coat, and every new emblem on each dwarf’s tunic.  How can a production make so many unique costumes for one film?  The result sets the standard for all major films to come.

Doctor Who A Town Called Mercy

Best Borg Appearance: The Cyborg Gunslinger, Doctor Who episode, “A Town Called Mercy” Andrew Brooke’s gunslinger was a slick-looking borg addition, a throwback to Westworld that gave us equal parts of good sci-fi and classic Western movies.  Doctor Who has created the best costumes and make-up of any sci-fi franchise in the past few years and this guy just looked great.

Best Web Series: TableTop bi-weekly Internet series, Geek and Sundry.  Wil Wheaton, known for Star Trek: The Next Generation and more recently his appearances on Big Bang Theory and Leverage, as host of his own online series, brought us all back from the video game world to the boardgame format that allows friends to really interact and have fun for their own game nights.   He chatted over great games like Tsuro, Munchkin and Zombie Dice with friends and celebrities alike, and showed us what could easily translate to its own Game Show Network series.

Best Villain:  The Harp Seal, Battlepug, Mike Norton. Easy choice.  This year’s Eisner Award winner for best digital comic revealed this unexpected villain, a funny surprise for readers.  Imagine a world where the harp seal gets its due–a role reversal where warriors fear him over all other creatures.  A great idea.

Best Ongoing Comic Book Series (tie):  All-Star Western, DC ComicsArtist Moritat and writers Justin Gray and Jimmy Palmiotti took a long-dead comic book title and bridged 1800s Gotham City and Jonah Hex to make a gritty and fun book that rose to the top of DC Comics’ New 52 titles first released in September 2011.  Who knew a Western comic could be this good?  Bionic Man, Dynamite Comics Phil Hester took a Kevin Smith script and expanded on it, taking the most nostalgic bits of the classic Six Million Dollar Man TV series and updating it for 2012.  The highlight of the fun was an appearance by the classic TV series guest star, Bigfoot.

Thor - God of Thunder 1

Best Single Comic Book Issue: Thor, God of Thunder #1, Jason Aaron and Esad Ribic.  How do you reintroduce a classic character like Thor in a new way?  Exactly like Aaron does in this first issue of his new series, breaking up his story into three time periods, and highlighting the changing face of Thor over time.  Ribic’s lush images of Thor and a certain strange new world escalated this book to the top of my year’s reads.

JK Woodward AssimilationSquared

Best Comic Book Art: JK Woodward, Star Trek The Next Generation/Doctor Who: Assimilation².  J.K. Woodward’s painted artwork throughout this limited series was stunning.  Probably the best depiction to-date of Star Trek characters in a comic book, Woodward took a fanboy’s dream job of merging two of the biggest sci-fi franchises together for the first story ever attempted and delivered a great looking story, now available in a trade edition.  We just want to see more.

Mystery in Space 1 by Ryan Sook

Best Comic Book Cover Art:  Mystery in Space, Ryan Sook, Vertigo Comics Ryan Sook had a big year, providing sensational covers for everything from The Shadow to the new Sword of Sorcery to one of our favorite titles, Justice League Dark.  But his cover for Vertigo Comics’ Mystery in Space #1 blended sci-fi and fantasy in the best way, with a steampunk angel painting the universe inside a spaceship with the help of flitting fairies, or is she creating our actual universe?  A great idea and perfect execution made this a standout on the store shelf this year.

Hawkeye cover by David Aja

Best Comic Book Cover Art Runner-up:  Hawkeye mini-series, David Aja Aja’s six unique Hawkeye series covers served not only to entice us to read this mini-series with great use of simple colors, but his own artwork between the covers made us feel like we were rewarded with what was advertised–a very cool and unusually stylish series.

Best Comics Collected Edition:  Flash Gordon, Volumes 1 and 2, Titan Books These were the best presented books we reviewed this year.  Reprinted Sunday comics from the 1930s and 1940s in a giant-sized edition that allowed readers to appreciate the story and art of creator Alex Raymond was a feast for the eyes.  The content allowed readers to see just how relevant and interesting the original mash-up of sci-fi and fantasy could be.

Best Retro Reviewed Book: Moonraker, Ian Fleming.  Casino Royale was a great read, Live and Let Die was a bit of a letdown, but Moonraker was as exciting as any book I’ve read in years.  Far different from the film of the same name, this thriller was packed with spy world intrigue.  Compared to all the other retro reviews this year, including Philip K. Dick classics, this one really stood out.

Best Reviewed Book: Dracula Cha Cha Cha, Kim Newman Although it was initially released in 1998, a new edition was re-released this year.  The best “post-modern steampunk” mash-up and incredibly detailed world building made this novel a great read, full of artful prose and creative crossovers.  Newman also added another level of storytelling, mixing the real world with the world of fiction, and the result is a densely packed, enjoyable volume.

Bond and Queen

Best Mash-Up of Fiction and Non-Fiction Worlds:  James Bond accompanies the Queen to the Olympics 2012 was the Year of Bond with his 50th year in film.  How better to highlight the best of Jolly Old England at this year’s Summer Olympics than to begin with a meeting of the current James Bond, Daniel Craig, and the actual Queen Elizabeth II in her 60th year in Buckingham Palace, followed by a faked aerial dive by the Queen over the stadium in London.  The Queen was a real sport, adding herself to the long list of Bond girls.  And don’t forget the real-world borg Oscar Pistorius’s impressive showings at the Olympics this year.

Comic-Con Firefly 10th Anniversary Panel

Best Genre Event: The Firefly 10th Anniversary Panel at Comic-Con.  More than 7,000 fans stood in line for only about 5,000 seats but the all-night wait was worth seeing most of the cast of Firefly reunite with creators Joss Whedon and Tom Minnear to talk about the short-lived series.  Firefly fans are a passionate bunch, and were able to get Whedon to make the big-budget movie Serenity a few years after cancellation.  But get most of the stars to come back ten years later?  Pretty cool feat.  With Whedon and series co-star Adam Baldwin (Jayne) dropping by to greet the people sleeping and standing in line overnight it was an event that attendees will never forget.

Best News Story: George Lucas sells Star Wars rights to Disney Some liked it and some hated it, but as months go by we’ll see what it all means.  As entertainment goes, this multi-billion dollar exchange was the talk everywhere this year.

Best Science Story: Curiosity lands on Mars.  NASA’s description of dropping a rover on the surface of the planet Mars sounded like threading a needle blind-folded wearing gloves.  Its early morning coverage of the successful landing was something like the moon landing, and made everyone want to see what more we can do in the space program now that the last Space Shuttle has been mothballed.  What will the future hold for NASA and humans in outer space?

Best Nationwide Genre Participation Event: The Avengers Marathon, AMC Theaters We only wished for something like this when we were kids–the ability to watch something like all the Star Wars and Indiana Jones movies in one screening.  The lead-up to the midnight premiere of The Avengers allowed fans to watch all the lead-in Avengers films so far:  Iron Man I and II, The Incredible Hulk, Thor, and Captain America: The First Avenger.  A great idea that will hopefully continue with other franchise films.

Best Single Thing for Genre Works: The Avengers movie.  Genre, and specifically superhero, films needed a good kickstart.  The dark and dreary Dark Knight trilogy from Christopher Nolan was monopolizing superhero films, and we needed a giant, vibrant superhero film to usher in a new age of comic book films and Joss Whedon delivered the goods.  It’s not a perfect film (and what is?) but was completely fun and entertaining, delivering something every fan could enjoy.  Challenging the top two positions for all-time box office draw also showed everyone that fans want to see more of this kind of movie.

What were your favorites?  We hope a few of these are on your own list.  We at borg.com will be back with more coverage and reviews in 2013.

C.J. Bunce
Editor
borg.com

Once upon a time and a long time ago in a galaxy far, far away, everyone lived happily ever after.  And while they were all so happy they didn’t realize they were being slowly assimilated by the evil Empire.

You might have missed it in light of coverage of Sandy today, but the big industry news is George Lucas finally is letting Star Wars, Indiana Jones, Lucasfilm, Industrial Light and Magic, Skywalker Sound–the whole shebang–go, for the paltry sum of $4 billion–the same price Disney paid for Marvel Comics in 2009.  Yep, $4,000,000,000.  You can just hear that THX sound logo make a giant flushing sound.  Heck, I bet that was Lucas’s profit last year in action figure sales alone.  What’s he thinking?  The man whose kids I (OK, my parents) put through college through the purchase of ten thousand action figures, several hundred comic books, every book, soundtrack, poster, drinking glass, key ring, Halloween costume, spaceship, Hallmark ornament, giant inflatable landspeeder, talking Yoda, remote control R2-D2, and even more action figures, is calling it quits?  Say it ain’t so.   And he is selling it to who?  Disney???? Continue reading

I have watched bits and pieces of E.T., the Extra-Terrestrial over the years and haven’t viewed it in its entirety since its VHS release.  I was lucky enough to see it in its original release back in 1982.  I seem to recall my sister got us some special tickets she won from a radio station for opening night, and when you entered the theater everyone received a sticker for E.T. and Reese’s Pieces, which, at that moment, no one had heard of before:

I’d been a life-long fan of the oily candy coated Wonka Oompas, and these smaller bits of peanut butter goodness became a candy staple that I have yet to be able to walk away from.

Over the year stories surfaced about the little licensing battle that occurred over the M&Ms featured in a key scene in the original story and Mars’ missed marketing opportunity that resulted in Elliott leaving the trail of Reese’s instead, which ultimately seemed to be all about money as these things always are.  Suffice it to say, I am happy we live in a world where Reese’s Pieces and M&Ms can live in harmony.  (Enough about food, back to the movie).

If all was right in the world we would all be flocking back to the theaters to see E.T. on the big screen in the “see it again for the first time” way.  Of all of Spielberg’s brilliant films, E.T. is the one that stands up with Star Wars as far as story with a heart.  Raiders of the Lost Ark is probably the most exciting film ever made, and I remember the movie ending on the screen of the big River Hills theater and realizing I hadn’t eaten or drank anything or taken a restroom break because I was glued to the screen for every minute of the movie.  Jaws is the best blockbuster ever and defined the very term.  Close Encounters of the Third Kind illustrates the very best that science fiction can be on film.  But E.T.’s story didn’t require much by way of special effects then and doesn’t now, once you get beyond the non-CGI animatronic special effect of E.T. himself.  The space ship at film’s end could have been made with a soup can and strobe light and it wouldn’t have mattered.

What did matter was this very realistic neighborhood, this very real family of kids, and a simple story about concern for someone in need of help.

And John Williams delivered a standout score, a score that, like Star Wars and Raiders and Jaws and Superman, can never be confused with modern, canned soundtrack pieces.  Williams was at the top of his game when he write the rousing E.T. themes.

Years ago I bought a copy of E.T. on VHS for $1.  With viewings on TV every now and then it’s hard to justify getting the Blu-Ray for me, simply because it isn’t effects heavy and I’m not sure I need another version.  But Spielberg did something very right with the new release that shows he has learned from the errored ways of Mr. Lucas.  If you managed to see bits of the 2002 re-release edition of E.T. you may recall Spielberg jumped on the bandwagon with Lucas and decided to CGI-ify his movie a bit (CGI-ify, a newly coined term meaning “terrorizing a film through editing”).

A few odd changes Spielberg made to the 2002 release:

  • Elliott’s mom says Elliott’s brother looks like a “hippie,” where the original used the word “terrorist”.
  • The feds with guns at the end of the film had their guns replaced with circa-1982 mobile phones.

Where Lucas has hidden away his initial, brilliant versions of the Star Wars films, Spielberg’s new edition of E.T. makes none of these changes, returning instead to a cleaner modification of the 1982 film we all loved.  So soon you’ll be singing “Turn on your heart light” with Neil Diamond, and saying “Phone home” and “I’ll be right here” and “Home” and “Be good” in your best E.T. voice.

Here is a trailer for the Blu-Ray release:

The Blu-Ray has a lot of extra features, like

· The E.T. Journals: Including behind-the-scenes footage.

· Steven Spielberg & E.T.: New interview with Steven Spielberg on E.T.

· Deleted Scenes: Two scenes from 2002 version of the film.

· A Look Back: Making of E.T. featurette.

· The E.T. Reunion: The cast and filmmaker reunion featurette.

· The Evolution and Creation of E.T.

· The Music of E.T.: A Discussion with John Williams

· The 20th Anniversary Premiere: Behind the scenes look John Williams concert presentation.

· Original Theatrical Trailer

· Special Olympics TV spot

· Designs, Photographs and Marketing

You can pre-order E.T. now for a discounted price at Amazon.com, and if you’re a super-fan of E.T. check out this mega-sized boxed edition featuring its own mother ship model, complete with sound.

E.T., The Extra-Terrestrial hits Blu-ray on October 9, 2012.

C.J. Bunce
Editor
borg.com

You’ll be hard-pressed to find another character like Boba Fett.  As merely one among innumerable creations of George Lucas, his own Man with No Name cultivated his own mystique and fans elevated him to cult status.  Those who grew up with Star Wars as I did first met Boba Fett on the front cover of an action figure package, an image of a freebie toy you could mail in to receive for saving the little proofs of purchase off the back of the packages.  If you ordered early, like the kid up my street did, you might get not only one but two rocket firing action figures and you could sit across from each other and fire away.  The most fun action figure ever made, Kenner quickly decided to glue in the rocket for safety concerns.

Boba also appeared on a holiday Star Wars special many prefer to forget (not me).  One of several of Lucas’s BF characters (like Bob Falfa in American Graffiti and Bib Fortuna in Return of the Jedi), there is no reason kids should have flocked to him like we did.  His appearance in The Empire Strikes Back was for mere minutes of film.  He was left to a cruddy death scene in Return of the Jedi, one of the reasons I saw Return of the Jedi in the theater once vs. having seen Star Wars in its original theater run ten times.

Boba Fett was so popular Lucas brought his image and armor back in his prequels in the form of his father, Jango Fett, even establishing that every Stormtrooper in the Empire was a clone of his father, and the early clone troopers became an early in-universe variant of Boba’s Mandalorian armor.  This wouldn’t have happened but for this unique status fans brought to this character.  Regardless of why we like him and think he is the epitome of all things cool, it’s hard to deny his incredible worn and damaged armor is a key part of his appeal.  Created by Joe Johnston it stands out among the best creations of any sci-fi character in any franchise.

So it is a superb pick for the subject of this year’s big charity event at Star Wars Celebration VI.  Working with the Make a Wish Foundation, the As You Wish Helmet Project is a charity event that invites designers and other artists to take a plain vanilla Boba Fett or Clone Trooper helmet, supplied by an entrepreneurial costume creation house called  The Dented Helmet, and turn the helmets into something unique.

More than 40 artists have signed up and are providing the finishing touches on their creations this week.  The final results will be displayed in the Dented Helmet booth at Star Wars Celebration VI beginning this Thursday, August 23, 2012 to Sunday, August 26, 2012, in Orlando, Florida.  After the Celebration is over, the Make-A-Wish Foundation will auction off all of the helmets on eBay, with 100% of the proceeds going to the charity.

Although it’s not a contest, you can’t help but recognize how the artists put all their passion into these creations, which are being previewed as they are finished on Facebook.  And with that, we’ve included several helmets above that will hopefully fetch some good bids for a good cause, including one that was re-created by original designer Johnston, shown above at the top of this article.  My favorite is the creation of my friend Tom Spina, who provided a stunning, inspired mash-up of the original Total Recall and our favorite bounty hunter, complete with life-like Arnold Schwarzenegger life-mask.  Like Spina’s creations in this year’s Super Bowl ad where he re-created the famous Star Wars cantina scene, here again he went all out and the result is as cool as Fett himself.

Mark your calendar for this auction.  It’s not every day that a Joe Johnston Boba Fett helmet is available to the public and even though it’s not screen-used, you know you want one.  With creations from Spina, WETA Workshop, ANOVOS, Sideshow Collectibles and dozens of other artists, this event will be sure to turn heads.  Check out the links above for images of other inspired works of sci-fi art.

C.J. Bunce
Editor
borg.com

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