Tag Archive: Jessica Chastain


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What better way to celebrate the strong, determined leader Leia Organa made famous by actress Carrie Fisher than to celebrate her legacy in the genre heroines of today?  What do most of the characters on this year’s list of Best Kick-Ass Genre Heroines have in common?  Most have roles that could easily be swapped with a male.  Sure, you can have heroine characters who are written to largely rely on traditional female qualities, but women characters bending gender roles are breaking new grounds.  We met characters this year who were held back in their place in time by their status as women, and it is often that role that prompts them to gain the fire and passion necessary to become the heroine of their stories.  So we have both a dress-wearing, well-read 19th century Jane Austen character on our list, but also a space-faring criminal in combat boots, a sea captain, an alien survivor, an alien visitor, a warrior, a sorcerer, a group of clones, a gunslinger, two cops, a zombie, and a supernatural assassin.

In past years we were able to select our Best Kick-Ass Genre Movie Heroine and Best Kick-Ass Genre TV Heroine, but this year the studios gave us more to cheer about than ever, and instead of ranking them we’re highlighting the very best from an unprecedented slate of heroines, with characteristics to learn from and emulate.  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.  Some may be frazzled, put-upon, war-weary, very human, resulting from trying circumstances, personal losses, and even death of friends and family.  But they all mustered up the strength to rise above it all.  These are the Best Kick-Ass Genre Heroines of 2016:

Sara Huntsman

Sara (The Huntsman: Winter’s War).  Heroines can be medieval or fairy tale warriors, a trained Huntsman quick with a bow and arrow or two-handed swordplay.  Jessica Chastain’s Sara was never seen in Snow White and the Huntsman, but we quickly learned why Chris Hemsworth’s Eric was filled with despair when learning of her supposed death.  A loyal warrior to her queen, she must decide whether to join her excommunicated secret husband against the forces of evil or stand with Queen Freya and her manipulative sister.  A powerhouse trio of actresses, Chastain’s Sara rises above them all opposite Emily Blunt and Charlize Theron in this great fantasy film.

Lily James and Bella Heathcote in Screen Gems' PRIDE AND PREJUDICE AND ZOMBIES.

Elizabeth Bennet (Pride and Prejudice and Zombies).  You already know Elizabeth Bennet as the eldest sister in the classic Jane Austen novel Pride and Prejudice.  An obnoxious mother harassing her, unlikely prospects for marriage, and an oppressive society with little opportunity to make her own choices.  Readers finally get to witness how the classic character might react when given opportunity–opportunity to learn Eastern mysticism and Japanese martial arts, and a role where she and her sisters and friends can fully defend their family and home from a zombie onslaught.  Lily James couples lacy dresses, Regency manners, and in-your-face, Quentin Tarantino-inspired kicks, with classic swordplay–and bloody beheadings.  If a war is coming, you want the likes of Elizabeth Bennet on your side of the battle lines.

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Huntsman

Review by C.J. Bunce

The Huntsman: Winter’s War is now available on Digital HD and coming to 4K Ultra HD, Blu-ray, DVD and On Demand this week from Universal Pictures Home Entertainment.  The Huntsman: Winter’s War on Blu-ray and DVD includes an all-new extended edition of the action-adventure, plus exclusive bonus features that show the depth and skill required to produce an epic fantasy film on par with Peter Jackson’s The Lord of the Rings series.  Not since Godfather 2 has any filmmaker been able to so successfully stitch a prequel and a sequel into one film, as the story of Winter’s War takes place both before and after 2012’s Snow White and the Huntsman.  Winter’s War also remains our lead contender for best fantasy of 2016.

The Huntsman: Winter’s War stars Charlize Theron (Mad Max: Fury RoadAeon Flux, Prometheus, Kubo and the Two Strings) as the evil Queen Ravenna, who betrays her sister Freya (Emily Blunt, Edge of Tomorrow, Looper, The Adjustment Bureau), causing Freya’s evil, icy powers to emerge.  Retreating to a snowbound fortress, Freya raises an army of children into Huntsmen, banishing love in her realm.  Freya’s most elite Huntsmen, Eric (Chris Hemsworth, ThorStar Trek 2009) and Sara (Jessica Chastain, Crimson Peak) are caught breaking the one law and forced to face off against the other Huntsmen.  Seven years after the events in Snow White and the Huntsmen, we meet the long-exiled Eric, now tasked to retrieve the legendary “mirror mirror” that set off the battle of that film.  He is joined by four dwarf warriors and propelled into a battle with Freya, who manages to acquire the mirror and unleash the dark power within it.  Be sure to check out our review of the theatrical release of the film from this past April here at borg.com.

Blu-ray Winters War Huntsman

Less than ten new minutes are added for the extended edition that accompanies the theatrical edition on this week’s release.  The added scenes alone won’t justify the purchase of the Blu-ray, but you’ll want to watch this new release as the spectacular features and beautiful transfer quality make The Huntsman: Winter’s War a feast for the eyes and the best home release so far this year.

So what are the features you get?

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Huntsman

Review by Elizabeth C. Bunce

We’ve said it before: It’s the rare sequel that’s actually better than its preceding installment (Terminator 2, The Empire Strikes Back, Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban), but back in a preview last month here at borg.com, we predicted that The Huntsman: Winter’s War might just break through to join those few.  The original Snow White & The Huntsman (2012) was fun but forgettable, despite high-profile headliners Kristen Stewart (the Twilight Saga), Chris Hemsworth (Thor, Star Trek), and Charlize Theron (Mad Max: Fury Road, The Italian Job, Aeon Flux).  It must have been fun enough, however, since Theron and Hemsworth, along with several other original cast members, signed on for a second film–and convinced star-powered newcomers Emily Blunt (Edge of Tomorrow, The Adjustment Bureau) and Jessica Chastain (Crimson Peak, Zero Dark Thirty) to join them.  Thanks in no small part to the stellar cast, plus gorgeous special effects, and elaborate costumes by Academy Award-winning costumer Colleen Atwood (Arrow), The Huntsman: Winter’s War stepped up its game and really delivered a great fantasy film experience.

It’s no secret that a great backstory adds layers and richness to a film, and filmmakers capitalized on that to develop the all-new plot to Winter’s War, reaching well beyond the Grimm-fairytale framework of the “Snow White” story.  In the original film we were introduced to Theron’s incarnation of Snow White’s evil stepmother, Queen Ravenna, and her magical, corrupting golden mirror.  In Winter’s War, we meet Ravenna’s younger sister, the lovely Freya, content to live in her sister’s shadow, as long as she has love in her life.  But when her infant daughter dies, Freya’s heart is frozen, and her own cold magic awakens.  In an unsubtle nod to Disney’s Frozen, Freya becomes the Ice Queen (actually called “The Frozen Queen” in the trailer), and conquers all the lands of the north, marshaling unbeatable armies of child soldiers she raises in place of her lost daughter.  “In my kingdom we have but one law,” she says: “Do not love.”

Hunstman and Sara

Inevitably, two of her most prized soldiers–her children–break that law.  Young warriors Sara (Chastain) and Eric (Hemsworth) woo and wed in secret, until betrayed and ripped apart by the queen’s jealousy.  Eric ends up in service to Ravenna, to play out the adventure in The Huntsman.  Seven years pass, and Winter’s War then turns from prequel to sequel.  When in service to Snow White’s kingdom, Eric is charged with a task worthy of a true Huntsman: Recover Ravenna’s mirror and deliver it safely to Sanctuary, where it and its magic can be locked away for good.  Thus begins a lively quest, aided by familiar dwarf ally Nion (Nick Frost, Shaun of the Dead, Attack the Block) and delightful newcomers Mrs. Bromwyn (Sheridan Smith, Galivant), Gryff (Rob Bryson, Cinderella), and Doreena (Alexandra Roach, Being Human).

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Hunstman Winters War

You get the feeling that we’re in store for the year’s best fantasy movie with each new look at next month’s release The Huntsman – Winter’s War, the sequel to the 2012 fairy tale film Snow White and the Huntsman.  It would also be a rare, but welcome, sequel that could improve on the original.  With the expanded cast this one could be that next surprise hit.

Most of the cast of the original, a pretty fun romp that told a completely re-imagined version of Grimm’s Snow White story, is back in The Huntsman – Winter’s War.  Except for Snow White.  The next chapter provides a version of the Ice Queen tale with one of our favorite actresses, Edge of Tomorrow’s Emily Blunt, as the new antagonist.

Blunt plays the sister of evil queen Ravenna, played again by Academy Award winning actress Charlize Theron. Also returning is Chris Hemsworth as The Huntsman, Nick Frost as Nion, and Sam Claflin as William.  New to the story is Crimson Peak’s Jessica Chastain as the warrior Sara.

The Huntsman Winter's War poster

Check out this action-packed trailer just released by Universal Pictures for The Huntsman – Winter’s War:

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Arnold Terminator Genisys

Well it’s been one long year, with plenty to do and see, plenty of good and not-so-good to read and watch, and as with last year we’re certain we reviewed more content this year than ever before.  This year was a big year for borgs in TV and film, so we had some difficult decisions to make.  All year long we sifted through all that Hollywood had to offer and honed in on the genre TV, films, comics, and other books we thought were worth examining.  We went back and looked at it all and pulled together our picks for our annual Best of the Best list.

Today we reveal the entire list–the best genre content of 2015–with our top categories Best Sci-Fi Fix, Best Fantasy Fix, Best Superhero FixBest Animated Fix,  and Best Borg selected regardless of medium.  A dozen properties garnered multiple mentions.

We hope you agree with many of these great creations of the entertainment industries, and wish everyone a great 2016!

Killjoys

Best Sci-Fi Fix – Killjoys (Syfy).  Surprised?  Killjoys pulled together great worldbuilding, characters and actors in a year of a dozen new sci-fi shows to provide us the closest thing to the next Firefly we’ve seen in a long time.

Galavant

Best Fantasy Fix – Galavant (ABC); Runner-up The Librarians (TNT).  It aired early in 2015 but nothing surpassed Galavant’s medieval high adventure and all-out Princess Bride-style fun.

the-cw-arrow-flash-crossover

Best Superhero Fix – The Flash (CW).  Of all the Marvel movies and TV series from Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. to Agent Carter and from Arrow to Supergirl, nothing had us coming back for more each week like the superhero world in The Flash.

Rebels season 2

Best Animated Fix – Star Wars Rebels (DisneyXD).  Compare it to Star Wars: The Force Awakens and see if you think this animated Star Wars galaxy had an even better story and characterization, along with the return of its own group of original trilogy actors, compelling visuals and rousing music.

Terminator Genisys image

Best Borg – Pops (Arnold Schwarzenegger) from Terminator Genisys (Paramount).  Schwarzenegger created yet another borg that could stand up against his prior successful characters from the series.  A cool, moving character in a big year for borgs on screen!

Ava from Ex Machina - borg

Best Borg Movie –  Ex Machina (DNA Films).  Incredible storytelling and a small cast of talented actors provided a classic science fiction story and Oscar-worthy film about our favorite subject.

Humans series

Best Borg TV SeriesHumans (AMC).  On television the most in-depth look at life as a borg and among borgs has never been portrayed more dramatically than on this year’s surprise sci-fi hit series from AMC.

Star-Wars-Force-Awakens-Rey-Finn-BB8-running

Best Kickass Genre Movie Heroine – Rey (Daisy Ridley), Star Wars: The Force Awakens (Disney); Honorable Mentions: Sarah Connor (Emilia Clarke), Terminator Genisys (Paramount); Imperator Furiosa (Charlize Theron), Mad Max: Fury Road (Village Roadshow)

Liv Moore

Best Kickass Genre TV Heroine – Liv Moore (Rose McIver), iZombie (CW); Honorable Mentions: Dutch (Hannah John-Kamen), Killjoys (Syfy); Helena (Tatiana Maslany), Orphan Black (BBC)

Want to know who we picked for best villain and best comic books of the year?  Take a look after the cut…

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Rogue One clip

Our annual “All the Movies You’ll Want to See…” series has been one of the most viewed of all of our entries at borg.com each year.  So this year we again scoured Hollywood and its publicity machine for as many genre films coming out in 2016 as have been disclosed.  Usually we select the 24 that look like the biggest hits, but we’re going all out for 2016.  The result is a whopping 48 movies, many you’ll probably want to see in the theater or catch on video.  We bet you’ll find a bunch below you’ve never heard of.  Bookmark this now for your 2016 calendar!

Most coming out in the second half of 2016 don’t even have posters released yet, but many do.  We’ve included descriptions and key cast so you can start planning accordingly.

Star Trek Beyond clip

What do we think will be the biggest hits of the year?  How about Star Wars: Rogue One?  Or Star Trek Beyond?  You’ve heard endlessly about Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, but 2016 will also see Doctor Strange, Captain America: Civil War, and X-Men: Apocalypse.  There’s even a handful of Westerns, with The Hateful 8, Jane Got a Gun, and another remake of The Magnificent Seven heading our way.

01 Hateful Eight poster

The Hateful Eight – January 1

Tarentino’s Western!  Ennio Morricone score!  Kurt Russell, Samuel L. Jackson, Jennifer Jason Leigh, and Channing Tatum!

5WV_1SHT_TSR_05.indd

The 5th Wave – January 8

Chloe Grace Moretz and Liev Schreiber in an alien invasion.

03 400 days poster

400 Days – January 12

The CW’s Brandon Routh, Caity Lotz, and Tom Cavanaugh in a movie about astronauts that seems to be a play on Ender’s Game.

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hunt

The 2012 fairy tale film Snow White and the Huntsman was a pretty fun romp, telling a completely re-imagined version of Grimm’s Snow White story.  Next year most of the cast (no Snow White) is back in The Huntsman – Winter’s War, a version of the Ice Queen tale with one of our favorite actresses, Edge of Tomorrow’s Emily Blunt, as the new antagonist.

Blunt plays the sister of evil queen Ravenna.  Played again by Academy Award winning actress Charlize Theron.  Also returning is Chris Hemsorth as The Huntsman, Nick Frost as Nion, and Sam Claflin as William.  New to the story is Crimson Peak’s Jessica Chastain as the warrior Sara.

Check out this beautifully done trailer for The Huntsman – Winter’s War:

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crimson peak tom hiddleston

Review by Elizabeth C. Bunce

Think you know what to expect from veteran horror and genre director Guillermo del Toro?  Gangly, pallid, slimy creatures such as we saw in Pan’s Labyrinth and Hellboy II: The Golden Army, right?  Cryptic underworlds, bewildering dreamscapes, and collossal, ocean-stomping robot avatars?!

Think again!  In his latest effort to scare and transport his audiences, Crimson Peak, del Toro has conjured up a true Gothic world of Victorian elegance, tender romance, and Sherlockian sleuthing…  With some slimy creatures.  Which are also, strange as it may sound, beautifully executed.

No doubt about it, del Toro is a visionary.  Despite some clear aesthetic leanings, his film repertoire is surprisingly diverse, from 1997’s Mimic to 2013’s Pacific Rim.  His films are always rich in detail and visually stunning.  And this time he just happened to hit all the right notes for this particular viewer.

Allerdale Hall

Crimson Peak is the tale of young American heiress and authoress Edith Cushing (Mia Wasikowska, Alice in Wonderland), deeply skeptical of the British aristocracy… until she’s won over by the ambitious, earnest baronet Thomas Sharpe (Tom Hiddleston, Thor, Avengers, The Hollow Crown), who is trying to secure financing for a risky mining venture to extract red clay from beneath his crumbling family mansion.  Though Edith’s father nurses doubts about the man and his motives, his own untimely death frees up both the young woman—and her fortune.  Swept off her feet, she is whisked off to Cumberland, England and the less-than-enchanting family home, the gorgeously decrepit Allerdale Hall.

She must share her new life with her sister-in-law Lucille (Jessica Chastain, Zero Dark Thirty), in the archetypal role of unwelcoming Gothic housekeeper.  She knows all the family secrets, and keeps them from her young, impressionable sister-in-law.  It’s a powerhouse performance, captivating and creepy, and Chastain inhabits the role perfectly. Continue reading

Crimson-Peak-Ghost-Pianist

Ghosts are real. That much I know.

Back in February we previewed the first look at Guillermo del Toro’s next reported masterpiece, a Victorian gothic romance with ghosts called Crimson Peak.  It will finally hit theaters next week and today we have even more previews and cool featurettes from this nicely timed Halloween horror flick.

In Crimson Peak, Gothic haunts like Rebecca and Jane Eyre, meet Watcher in the Woods, The Others, Psycho, and Skeleton Key, with director del Toro amping up the gore and violence.  We don’t often see fantasy horror releases but you can be sure del Toro is a master of the genre.  And it adds another movie to that sub-genre of horror we keep talking about featuring creepy little girls.

Crimson Peak house

Not for the faint of heart, check out this trailer and featurettes for Crimson Peak, after the break:

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The Martian space walk

First Matt Damon was the guy in the title–Private Ryan–the soldier rescued from the front lines in Saving Private Ryan.  Now he is the guy in the title again, an astronaut on Mars who gets separated from his crew, left for dead, in the Winter 2015 release The Martian.  Truth is stranger than fiction, so it will be hard to top Ron Howard’s ultimate big-budget space rescue Apollo 13, but the buzz is building for The Martian as the next Gravity or Interstellar.

That could be good or bad.  It’s good because we all are waiting for the next great science fiction movie, and sometimes you have to go through plenty of weeds to find a rose.  It’s bad because mainstream, big-budget outer space movies with major actors usually disappoint–wannabes that are never as good as their lower budget, often brainier brethren.  Then again, it stars Matt Damon.

The Martian model

Matt Damon has taken on some interesting roles, earning him some street cred with sci-fi fans.  Even if the films aren’t great, his performance typically is.  Look at films like Elysium and The Adjustment Bureau.  And he’s often one of the best features of other films, like Titan A.E., Ocean’s Eleven, The Bourne Identity, The Brothers Grimm, The Departed, and The Monuments Men.

Check out this first look at The Martian:

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