Tag Archive: Jennifer Beals


Review by C.J. Bunce

This year on January 1 I reviewed the first episode of The Book of Boba Fett, the show about the Star Wars bounty hunter’s return, 38.5 years in the making.  The series’ first season had a bit of a tepid start, but over the next six episodes Star Wars fans learned what was happening.  This was never intended to be a separate series, but the third season of a Boba Fett/Mandalorian hybrid, Saturday morning Western serial like Steven Spielberg and George Lucas created with Raiders of the Lost Ark.  This may be Disney’s best amusement park ride yet.  Maybe it would have made more sense to some if it were called some Western title like Star Wars: The Outcasts and didn’t have those two separate titles.  Criticisms of this season have all been like that, all of it form over substance (or maybe it’s just people who forgot to have fun).  In my first review I identified what I thought the series needed to do in its next six episodes.  So how did they (and I) do?

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Review by C.J. Bunce

Happy New Year!  My wish for everyone is they get their own bacta tank jacuzzi to help recover from last year… and the year before that, and…

It’s been 38.5 years since I first saw Boba Fett die, at the sneak preview of Return of the Jedi.  It was the low point of the movie–I’d rather they’d kill off Han Solo.  Let the mysterious bounty hunter drift off into the sunsets.  Practically speaking it meant decades of no Boba Fett, and nothing but minor appearances of Boba Fett in the Marvel comic books.  So we’ve all had a long time to picture how Boba Fett survives bumbling into the Great Pit of Carkoon, nesting place of the all-powerful Sarlacc, to be slowly digested over 1,000 years, which was as baffling as making the Kessel Run in less than 12 parsecs.  Now thanks to Jon Favreau, we get to see the vision in his head, in the first episode of The Book of Boba Fett, now streaming on Disney Plus.  (Moderate episode highlights and a revisit to 1983 and 1997 follow).

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Once a year at borg we ask: What makes a great screen heroine? It’s time for borg′s annual look at the Best Kick-Ass Genre Heroines in film and television.  We’re highlighting the very best from a slate of fantastic heroines, with characteristics to learn from and root for.  Determined, decisive, loyal, brave, smart, fierce, strong, you’ll find no one here timid or weepy, but all rely on their individual skills to beat the odds and overcome any obstacle that comes their way.  Over the years we have expanded the list to include any tough, savvy, gritty character played by a woman, so villains are welcome here, too.  (Want to see previous years’ kickass genre heroines to see how 2021 compares?  Here are 2020, 2019, 2018, 2017, 2016, and 2015). Some may be frazzled, put-upon, war-weary, or human, but all have fought, some against difficult circumstances, others against personal demons (literally, figuratively, or both), and some against gun and laser fire.  And they all showed what a tough, kick-ass, and often badass, character is about.

This year we add three superheroines, an amnesiac bounty hunter, four police detectives, a thief, a grifter, a hacker, 13 martial arts experts, three soldiers, a god, a duchess, two college students, three Russian assassins, a spy, an actress, a cyborg, a bartender, a forensics expert, a hitman, and a helicopter pilot, with eight characters we’ve seen in past years and 13 all-new characters we’ve never seen in any medium before–all in a roster split between 21 television and 13 movie characters. Credit goes to both the writers, costumers, and other creators of the characters and the actors and performers that brought them all to life.

These are the Best Kick-Ass Genre Heroines of 2021:

Antonia Dreykov aka Taskmaster (Black Widow).  Was there a more intriguing, surprising, gut-wrenching character this year than Olga Kurylenko’s super-powered cyborg?  She was one of the best costumed villains this year and certainly the most sympathetic, leaving the question: Where does she go from here? (Disney)

Faye Valentine (Cowboy Bebop).  Daniella Pineda’s spin on this classic sci-fi character couldn’t have been better.  Always eager, always excitable, always refreshing, as she pursued the dramatic journey to discover who she really is. (Netflix)

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It’s not your father’s Boba Fett (or depending on your age, your Boba Fett), but it certainly looks to be an interesting ride coming your way in December.  The first trailer is here for The Book of Boba Fett, a continuation of another resurrected fandom icon following his exploits in Season 2 of The Mandalorian.  Certainly The Mandalorian was more what you hoped for as a kid for Boba Fett than this next incarnation, but if Wolverine’s best story can be found in his later years in Logan, maybe there’s hope for this bounty hunter.  How many characters can you count that literally spent their time in the shadows, only to literally take over the entire franchise (see The Attack of the Clones)? 

But the most exciting part of the trailer?  The appearance of Jennifer Beals as what looks to be a new Twi’lek character, joining Temuera Morrison as Fett and Ming-Na Wen as his right arm Fennic Shand.

Check them out and a lot more in this first trailer for The Book of Boba Fett:

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main-the-last-tycoon-lily-collins-matt-bohmer-kelsey-grammer

Review by C.J. Bunce

That’s showbiz.

It sums up every feature on the brilliant Amazon Studios series The Last Tycoon, a loose adaptation of F. Scott Fitzgerald’s incomplete final novel, The Love of the Last Tycoon With a nine-episode first season only touching on the threads of Fitzgerald’s original ideas, just as the characters begin to fall apart in the season’s cliffhanger finale, Amazon Studios does what studios do–tightens it belt and cancels the series.  It helps to know this before you watch this one-season-wonder (we’ll add it to the list), because you will get pulled into the world of 1936 Hollywood in a way you could only be reeled in by a genuine 1930s picture.  Even if it was all filmed in Canada in an unthinkably short 65 day production.

The Last Tycoon does it all differently and gets it all right–it’s the series we hoped the film Mank would be.  It’s not an exact adaptation of Fitzgerald’s work, but the bones are there, and creator/writer/executive producer/director Billy Ray (The Hunger Games, Terminator: Dark Fate) creates something perfect, probably better than any Fitzgerald adaptation you’ve ever seen, with some of your favorite genre actors.

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Although it wasn’t renewed for a second season, streaming service DC Universe’s Swamp Thing was the 2019 adaptation of a comic book series that stood apart in a year where every other series seemed to be based on a comic book.  On the small screen, from The Umbrella Academy, The Boys, and Watchmen, to the last seasons of Netflix’s The Punisher and Jessica Jones, plus new seasons of Arrow, The Flash, Supergirl, Legends of Tomorrow, Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D, Gotham, and Legion, and new Batwoman and Doom Patrol series, 2019 meant a lot of comic book adaptations that either looked the same or they fought hard to try to be grittier and different.  And that’s great–that means there’s something for everyone.  But none compared to Swamp Thing.  For our money, if you’re looking for fun, creepy timed for Halloween and not cartoony, soap opera-ish, or comic booky, and a series that earned its way to be one of the top 10 comic book adaptations of all, give Swamp Thing a try.  Moving from DC Universe to the CW network where anyone can watch it, the first episode of Swamp Thing begins again tonight at 7 p.m. Central.

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Review by C.J. Bunce

Although it wasn’t renewed for a second season, streaming service DC Universe’s Swamp Thing is the adaptation of a comic book series from 2019 that stood apart in a year where every other series seemed to be based on a comic book.  On the small screen, from The Umbrella Academy, The Boys, and Watchmen, to the last seasons of Netflix’s The Punisher and Jessica Jones, plus new seasons of Arrow, The Flash, Supergirl, Legends of Tomorrow, Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D, Gotham, and Legion, and new Batwoman and Doom Patrol series, 2019 meant a lot of comic book adaptations that either looked the same or they fought hard to try to be grittier and different.  And that’s great–that means there’s something for everyone.  But if you’re looking for fun, and nicely creepy but not too dark, and not cartoony, soap opera-ish, or comic booky, and you were willing to give DC universe a try, then you’d be lucky enough to have discovered Swamp Thing If you missed it, you can still catch up with the full season now with a DC Universe subscription or via Amazon Prime here, and it’s coming your way (and available for pre-order) on Blu-ray, digital, and DVD next month.

Swamp Thing strikes the right balance, taking a second-tier property and recreating the level of creepy found in 1960s-1980s comics–a show that actually looks and feels like what the original visionary artists Bernie Wrightson and writer Len Wein put on the page.  Finally a great Justice League Dark show, something like we loved in print from Mikel Janin and Peter Milligan that so far also has provided the best character cameos of CW’s Crisis on Infinite Earths crossover event.  Complete with Madame Xanadu, Blue Devil, and Phantom Stranger, we meet two very Marvel Comics types inside the DC realm.  More importantly it’s great fun, like a John Carpenter movie with its visual effects, a top cast of household name actors and great guest stars, and faithful storytelling to the comics, headed up by Crystal Reed as a smart CDC doctor named Abby.  If you’re of the camp (like us) that agrees Bill Bixby on The Incredible Hulk is still the best comics on TV has ever been, then you’ll love seeing the similar origin tale and subsequent episodes between Abby and Andy Bean′s Alec Holland, a researcher and investigator whose lives are turned upside down when a swamp is contaminated by a local mill, which causes devastating changes to Holland.  The chemistry and tragic tale played by Bixby and Mariette Hartley in the 1970s Hulk series is echoed by the chemistry of Reed and Bean as the leads in Swamp Thing.

Holland transforms into a beast who walks and speaks like a man, but the plants of the swamp have merged with him.  Is there still a man in there that can be removed and repaired, or is he forever transformed into something entirely new?

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beforeifall

It’s one of our favorite science fiction tropes–the time loop–filmed in one of our favorite locations, Squamish, B.C.  We can’t get enough of time loops, whether we’re watching Groundhog Day, Source Code, Final Destination, TiMER, Haunter, Looper, or ARQ, or television shows Tru Calling or Early Edition, or episodes from Haven, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Eureka, The X-Files, Star Trek, or Xena–Warrior Princess, waking up to and trying to deal with a repeated deja vu day is just plain fun–but only for the viewer.  Check out our previous discussions of time loops at borg.com here and here.

The latest time loop movie is more of a teen romance mystery than your typical science fiction time loop vehicle–an adaptation of Before I Fall, a young adult novel by author Lauren Oliver.  This film appears to have more in common with Final Destination, Donnie Darko, and Butterfly Effect–a teenager named Samantha played by Zoey Deutsch (Ringer) is involved in an auto accident, and wakes up to repeat the day, again and again.  The mystery is found in how she faces the same day, what she does with her time, and whether she can make her way out.

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One factor in this film’s favor is its shooting location in scenic Squamish, north of Vancouver, British Columbia, filming location for Star Trek Beyond, Walking Tall, and many other films and TV shows (discussed previously here).

Here are two trailers for Before I Fall:

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Proof on TNT

In our week of previews and reviews of a summer full of sci-fi television series coming your way, we’ve seen some interesting shows we think we’ll add to the watch list.  Variety seems to be the theme–definitely the networks have something for everyone, from space adventures to sci-fi in a medical procedural setting to paranormal stories and psychological thrillers.  TNT’s contribution is of the supernatural variety, with its new series Proof, starring Jennifer Beals as a surgeon searching for life after death.

Joe Morton stars as another doctor in the story.  Morton is pretty much synonymous with sci-fi since his role as the inventor of the future in Terminator 2: Judgment Day.  He’s also shown up everywhere from Eureka to Warehouse 13, from CW’s Smallville to the movie Paycheck, to The X-Files and Forever Young (not to mention non-genre notable roles in Lone Star, M*A*S*H, Crossroads, The Equalizer, Speed, and Homicide).

Also look for co-stars Callum Blue (Smallville, The Tudors, and Dead Like Me), and Ed Gathegi (House, M.D., Veronica Mars, X-Men: First Class, Beauty and the Beast), and Matthew Modine (Full Metal Jacket, Memphis Belle, Transporter 2, The Dark Knight Rises).

TNT Proof

Here’s a preview of Proof, on TNT:

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