Tag Archive: Jeffrey Wright


marvel-what-if-trailer

What If…? is a range of comic book series featuring more than 200 stories that allowed creators to jump outside the usual and let their imagination take over.  What if Jane Foster (or Loki? or Rogue?) had found the hammer of Thor?  What if Doctor Strange was a disciple of Dormammu?  What if Phoenix had not died?  What if Vision had destroyed the Avengers?  What if Venom had possessed the Punisher?  What if Silver Surfer (or the Green Goblin) took the Infinity Gauntlet?  What if Legion had killed Magneto?  What if Jessica Jones joined the Avengers?  What if Hank Pym replaced Stark?  What if Disney hadn’t purchased Marvel?  Almost all of these questions have been answered in the pages of the comics.

Avengers what if  Guardians-Of-The-Galaxy-2-Stan-Lee-Cameo 2

Phase IV of the Marvel Cinematic Universe continues with an animated anthology series based on the classic comic.  Jeffrey Wright stars as The Watcher, your guide through all ten episodes, who MCU audiences saw at the end of Guardians of the Galaxy 2–in a Stan Lee cameo.  Chadwick Boseman’s last performances as T’Challa appear in four episodes.  Hayley Atwell returns as a different version of Peggy Carter.  Samuel L. Jackson is back as Fury.  Sebastian Stan is Bucky Barnes.  Dominic Cooper returns as Howard Stark.  Djimon Housou is back as Korath.  And Michael Rooker’s Yondu returns from the dead.  Plus lots of superheroes you know with other actors substituting voices for those you know from the MCU.  And it all begins tomorrow, August 11, on Disney+.  A few more trailers/features have been released in the past week, and we’ve bundled them with the previous trailers:

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Watcher pic

Two from Netflix, two from Disney+.  Fans of 1980s cartoons will get their fix this summer with four animated shows from some of the biggest genre franchises Phase IV of the Marvel Cinematic Universe continues with the anthology series based on the classic comic What If…?  Star Wars expands into new animated territory with the anime Star Wars: Visions.  And both 1980s kid favorites Masters of the Universe and Transformers continue into their fourth decade with two Netflix series–Transformers: War for Cybertron already underway.

Check out trailers for each new show streaming this summer below.

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Beast of the Stapletons

Review by C.J. Bunce

Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s 1902 story The Hound of the Baskervilles finds a sequel 120 years later in the latest Sherlock Holmes spin-off novel from writer James Lovegrove.  Readers will find further adventures of not only that novella, but more connections to past works in Sherlock Holmes and The Beast of the Stapletons, a novel in the same series as the author’s Sherlock Holmes and the Christmas Demon, previously reviewed here at borg.   The question for readers of Lovegrove’s other works, including his Cthulhu Casebook novels and other stories from Titan Books, is: Will he or won’t he? That is, will the beast of the title be something out of the real world (as in Sherlock Holmes and the Christmas Demon) or, as in his Cthulhu tie-ins, something from the world of fantasy?  The best part of this story is the absence for the bulk of the tale of Sherlock’s right arm, Dr. John Watson, who tends toward the whiny and needy in past recent retellings.  A new, interesting foil steps in for this mystery, taking Holmes more in the direction of another famous British franchise.

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Happy holidays!

It’s that time of year again, time to take a look forward at what movies should be on your radar for 2021!  But wait!  Next year’s list sure looks a lot like the the films we previewed last December.  The covid pandemic has delayed hundreds of film projects, but some made it through.  When you walk back through last year’s list and compare it to movies released after theater lockdowns, you get some insight into how Hollywood thinks.  Big movies and movies predicted to be successes were universally held back, while less popular films were released to low box office returns from theaters that remained open, and yet other films went directly to home streaming or related media platforms.

Last year we pulled 85 of the hundreds of films then slated for the 2020 movie calendar.  The first two dozen made it to theaters (films like Underwater, Dolittle, and Birds of Prey) before the national shift began on March 11 with news of the NBA reacting to the pandemic by suspending pro basketball–the first national awareness of the scope of the problem.  Suddenly we saw Vudu and other home platforms coming to the rescue for our entertainment fix, adding a new Theater at Home option, which captured movies like Anya Taylor-Joy’s Emma, Vin Diesel’s Bloodshot, and the animated Scoob!  Disney began an interesting tiered release of Mulan, which for half the year showed a studio doing its best to maximize returns on what would have been a key release in any other year.  After another delay The New Mutants made it briefly to theaters followed by home release after three years of getting kicked aside as the last vestiges of the Disney-Fox merger were shaken out.  Other films, like Vast of Night, Extraction, The Old Guard, Rebecca, Radioactive, and Fantasy Island safely premiered on Netflix and Amazon Prime, with Chris Hemsworth’s Extraction standing out as the clear popular winner–the entire world needed some new entertainment and after what would only be the first of several months of shelter-at-home, it tentatively filled the void.

So our predictions for the year’s big genre films were flat wrong, every single one except Mulan was delayed to 2021, including Ghostbusters: Afterlife, Black Widow, No Time to Die, a new Fast & Furious, Tom Clancy’s Without Remorse, and superhero flicks Venom 2, Eternals, and MorbiusWonder Woman 1984 is expected to have a theatrical release by year end.  Altogether 35 of last year’s 85 movies previewed on our annual list are back again below, plus we found more than 35 new genre films we think will appeal to borg readers.

So what’s left and what’s new?

Grab your calendar and start making your plans–here are the movies you’ll want to see in 2021.  Then compare the below list to our 2020 list, and look back to the 2019 list, 2018 list, 2017 list, 2016 list, 2015 list, or 2014 list.  Last year we noticed studios moving genre content from the big screen to the small screen via streaming services, and the pandemic only stepped up that migration.  Note:  Warner Bros. has reported it will issue its 2021 releases simultaneously on HBO Max.  Netflix has mostly dramas slated for 2021, but a few genre films are in pre-production, so expect a few surprises throughout the year.  Amazon Studios has fewer, most partnerships with Blumhouse Productions.

As we learned well this year, many of these films will have revised release dates, and even get pushed to 2022.

January

Mortal Kombat Based on the video game.  New!  Tentative release date: January 15, 2021.  HBO Max.

Wrath of Man Next Jason Statham action flick.  New!  Tentative release date: January 15, 2021.

The French Dispatch.  Wes Anderson and his familiar actors in new quirky film about journalists.  New!  January 28, 2021.

The DigA film about a woman finding archaeological treasures on her land, starring Ralph Fiennes, Lily James, and Carey Mulligan.  January 29, 2021.  Netflix.

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No Time to Die It will be the 25th official James Bond movie and the 27th if you include the independent movie Never Say Never Again and the first version of Casino Royale, all part of the longest running blockbuster franchise that began in 1962 with Dr. No.  Bond has left active service and is enjoying a tranquil life in Jamaica.  His peace is short-lived when his old friend Felix Leiter from the CIA turns up asking for help.  The mission to rescue a kidnapped scientist turns out to be far more treacherous than expected, leading Bond onto the trail of a mysterious villain armed with dangerous new technology.  The premiere of No Time to Die said to be the last Daniel Craig stint as James Bond – was delayed due to studio concerns about the COVID-19 pandemic.  The next, action-packed movie trailer for No Time to Die is here (check it out below).  The film is now slated for a November release.  But does anyone think crowds will return to theaters by then?

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No doubt the movies of writer-director Wes Anderson are an acquired taste.  Fortunately he exhibits some variety, as we’ve explored before here at borg.  Whether it’s Bottle Rocket, Rushmore, The Royal Tenenbaums, The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou, The Darjeeling Limited, Fantastic Mr. Fox, Moonrise Kingdom, The Grand Budapest Hotel, or Isle of Dogs, at least one of these films will likely appeal to you.  For his next big screen venture, Anderson is taking an anthology angle.  The lengthy-titled The French Dispatch of the Liberty, Kansas Evening Sun, or just The French Dispatch, for short, doesn’t need to mention Anderson’s name at all.  It’s instantly recognizable from his framed cinematography, disturbing bland color hues, and fourth-wall breaking stares from its cast.  Yes, there really is a Liberty, Kansas (found in southeast Kansas, population 123).  Purportedly inspired by The New Yorker magazine, the film is actually based in a fictional city in France, and follows media types in the latest look at that self-reflective, stark fantasyland found in many Anderson movies.

The anthology element consists of incorporated story threads centered on characters and “stories” played out by Anderson troupe members Tilda Swinton and Frances McDormand, and–new to Anderson-land–Jeffrey Wright.  Other Anderson familiars include Owen Wilson, Bill Murray, Edward Norton, Bob Balaban, and Jason Schwartzman.  Like Woody Allen movies years ago, everyone seems to be flocking to be in the next Anderson picture, so this time that means the likes of Henry Winkler, Willem Dafoe, Anjelica Huston, Benicio Del Toro, Adrien Brody, Léa Seydoux, Christoph Waltz, Liev Schreiber, and many more.  Music is by Alexandre Desplat.

Check out this trailer for the expectedly unusual The French Dispatch of the Liberty, Kansas Evening Sun:

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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

As dramas about the current problems in the world are concerned, it doesn’t get much better than The Laundromat, one of the many direct-to-Netflix dramas premiering this year.  It’s full of genre favorite actors and the subject is that “ripped from the headlines” variety.  The film begins with a couple celebrating their 40th anniversary with a trip to Niagara Falls.  Unfortunately they do like many do on any vacation, they take local transportation.  Here that is a small commuter boat.  When a minor wave hits the side, the boat rocks and sinks.  The man, played by James Cromwell, dies, and his wife, played by Meryl Streep, lives.  We then meet the crooks of the story, two law partners in Panama played by Gary Oldman and Antonio Banderas, breaking the fourth wall to explain the rules of modern finance, and ultimately a step-by-step guide to international money laundering via the U.S. tax code.  The duo is perfect, dressed to the nines to reflect their wealth, courtesy of costume designer Ellen Mirojnick (Starship Troopers, The Chronicles of Riddick).  Like every villain in any story, these villains see themselves as the victims.  Director Steven Soderburgh then spins a story requiring some bizarre worldbuilding–in our own world–that recounts only a few of the many strange aspects of the real-life Panama Papers scandal, which ultimately took down all sorts of politicians and multi-millionaires.

Unlike any other good film about an actual historical event that follows the basic sequential framework, like, as an example, The Post, which also starred Meryl Streep, the value of this film is in its style and design and the way it tells the story.  It’s also an educational tool that explains the realities of “wealth management,” but it doesn’t do it in a bland way, incorporating the law partners like the stage manager in Thornton Wilder’s Our Town, but because of the actors’ charm, it’s handled much better than previous similar efforts, like, say, The Wolf of Wall Street or Goodfellas.  As good as Soderburgh’s The Informant!, the style of his Ocean’s 11 series, and the gravity of his Erin Brockovich, this should be counted as a big film for 2019.  It’s funny when it needs to be, but its scope is real and grave, highlighting the fragility of life with not only the story it tells, but the precariousness of every player as they go to and fro in the film, all one slip from becoming Streep or Cromwell’s character at any point.

The Laundromat has an all-star cast of genre favorites, featuring great work from the likes of Jeffrey Wright, Robert Patrick, Nonso Anozie, Will Forte, Chris Parnell, Rosalind Cho, David Schwimmer, Matthias Schoenaerts, and Sharon Stone.

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No Time to Die It will be the 25th official James Bond movie and the 27th if you include the independent movie Never Say Never Again and the first version of Casino Royale, all part of the longest running blockbuster franchise that began in 1962 with Dr. No.  The first full movie trailer for No Time to Die is here (check it out below), along with several character posters.  And those (like us) who see Daniel Craig as their favorite Bond will be sad to hear Craig says this will be his last turn at 007.  His performance as “the man every guy wants to be and every woman wants to be with” would no doubt be familiar to author Ian Fleming, whose character was a rugged, late career spy as Craig has played it (check out our past reviews of the Bond novels here at borg).

Along with other international venues, Bond returns to Jamaica in his next film, where we’ve seen him before in Dr. No and Live and Let Die, but more importantly it’s Bond coming full circle, as Jamaica is where Fleming wrote all of his Bond stories, at his real home there he called Goldeneye.  Long-time series producer Barbara Broccoli tapped Cary Fukunaga, a cinematographer and relative newcomer to the big screen, to take the reins as director, following Sam Mendes, who directed the last two Bond movies.  Returning as the familiar core characters are Ralph Fiennes, Naomie Harris, Ben Whishaw, Rory Kinnear, Jeffrey Wright, Christoph Waltz, and Léa Seydoux as Bond’s latest love interest from the last outing.  New to the series are Rami Malek (Bohemian Rhapsody) as the villain Safin, plus Ana de Armas (Blade Runner 2049), Lashana Lynch (Captain Marvel) as a new 00, Lourdes Faberes (Knightfall), Rae Lim (Tomb Raider), and Billy Magnussen (Black Mirror).

 

Bond has left active service and is enjoying a tranquil life in Jamaica.  His peace is short-lived when his old friend Felix Leiter from the CIA turns up asking for help.  The mission to rescue a kidnapped scientist turns out to be far more treacherous than expected, leading Bond onto the trail of a mysterious villain armed with dangerous new technology.

Check out all the character posters (which list the UK release date) and the first trailer released today for No Time to Die:

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Instead of what has been done at past panels at San Diego Comic-Con–having a panel for each or just a few major projects–Marvel Studios exec Kevin Feige was on-hand to get several announcements out the door and as many key cast members in and out of his single panel as possible.  For the Marvel Cinematic Universe’s Phase IV, that means tying in Disney’s (pay) streaming service with the movies.  The big takeaway?  New logos are pretty much all there is so far to share, plus key casting and timing announcements.  And although the last Phase had some changes along the way, it looks as if these ten projects will round out the entirety of Marvel over the next few years.  The biggest frustration for fans of the X-Men and Fantastic Four is why nobody at Marvel has been getting a head start on these two massively popular teams of characters–money is definitely going to be left on the table for the duration of Phase IV by pushing out these projects.  Why aren’t these Priority #1 with someone at Disney in light of the long lead-time the corporation had for the Fox acquisition?

The new time table is straightforward: Black Widow movie (May 1, 2020), The Falcon and the Winter Soldier TV series (Fall 2020), Eternals movie (November 6, 2020), Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings movie (February 12, 2021), WandaVision TV series (Spring 2021), Loki TV series (Spring 2021), Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness movie (May 7, 2021), What If…? animated series (Summer 2021), Hawkeye TV series (Fall 2021), and Thor: Love and Thunder movie (November 5, 2021).  The most eagerly awaited film after this year’s Avengers: Endgame was the hinted-at Guardians of the Galaxy/Thor or Asgardians of the Galaxy team-up movie, but Marvel still has not confirmed that project, unless it’s tied into the 2021 film.  Also relegated to “in development” status: Black Panther 2, Captain Marvel 2, Fantastic Four, X-Men, and the next Tom Holland Spider-Man movie (Spider-Man is Iron Man’s replacement, right?).  Silence seems to confirm the death of the Marvel Netflix universe of Luke Cage, The Punisher, Daredevil, Jessica Jones, and Iron Fist, and maybe even Disney+ projects Runaways, Ghost Rider, and Helstrom.  FX’s Legion was already announced as canceled, and we lost track of how many times The New Mutants movie has been pushed back.  Even bigger unknowns are the next Ant-Man and The Wasp, which had Hank Pym actor Michael Douglas already discussing it as a prequel, and if anyone is thinking about Prince Namor the Submariner, nobody is talking.  It begs the question:  Does Disney have too much to handle now?

As a beginning Disney’s Marvel side seems to be taking a lead from its Star Wars division, with its offerings targeting a mix of fans old, new, and in-between.  For the fans of the MCU so far you have plenty, a Black Widow (presumably prequel) and Thor movie as bookends for Phase IV, and TV series to keep alive Falcon, Winter Soldier, Scarlet Witch, Vision, Loki, Doctor Strange, and Hawkeye.  For new audiences (and possibly much older comic book readers) there is Shang-Chi and the Eternals to get to know, along with the announcement that Luke Cage’s Mahershala Ali will be playing Blade in a reboot movie at the beginning of Phase V, the vampire hunter who, like Spider-Man, has already seen an entire series of movies outside of the MCU.

The details are an eclectic mix of things you might want, things you didn’t know you want, and things you won’t know what to make of:

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