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Tag Archive: Jon Favreau


Review by C.J. Bunce

Maybe you don’t need the Old West to have a great Western after all.  Bringing back the feel of the first third of the original Star Wars: A New Hope with a Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid level of fun and humor, Solo: A Star Wars Story is finally in theaters with something for every Star Wars fan.  The saloons may be different and so are the sidearms, but this is the story of a young gunfighter, complete with the related outlaws and mercenaries, partners and betrayals, card playing, and gunfights.  With the sweeping adventure of The Empire Strikes Back, the perfectly rebuilt and repackaged nostalgia of Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, and a jumping off point for a galaxy of possibilities for beloved characters we only thought we knew, director Ron Howard delivers.  Not weighted down by the gloom and doom of the Dark Side in Rogue One or the rest of the Star Wars films, this Star Wars story creates new and original locations and situations for a few familiar characters plus many new ones and still ties into the overall episodic stories, taking place after Revenge of the Sith, but before Star Wars Rebels and Rogue One.  Yet we meet many new characters and questions are raised in the film that beg for one or more sequels to this branch off the main Star Wars saga–we can now have many new tie-in novels, comics, TV series, and maybe even movies to keep it all going.  If you didn’t think The Last Jedi captured the nostalgia or fun of earlier Star Wars films, then Solo is for you–not since The Empire Strikes Back has an entry in the saga been such a rollercoaster ride.

Surprises?  In a film that could have just filled in the blanks, the surprises were dished out from beginning to end, including some big ones we won’t mention here.  The overall tone is something out of Amazing High Adventure, and it makes perfect sense: It’s Silverado in space.  Screenplay writer Lawrence Kasdan (who wrote the screenplay with son Jonathan Kasdan), known for writing Westerns Silverado and Wyatt Earp, prior Star Wars entries The Empire Strikes Back, Return of the Jedi, and The Force Awakens, and that greatest of adventure movies Raiders of the Lost Ark, was the perfect match to veteran director and movie icon Ron Howard.  The Western inspiration is supported visually in the Frederic Remington-inspired colors and landscapes.  You can spot the World War II movie references along the way, too, that Kasdan and Howard no doubt enjoyed as moviegoers over the years, like Von Ryan’s Express.  The relationships between characters evoke gangster movies and even pirate tales like Treasure Island.  Science fiction fans will see parallels to Han’s band of mercenaries in both the crew of the Ghost in Star Wars Rebels and Joss Whedon’s Serenity crew in the Firefly television series.

The Kasdans smartly injected those scenes every fan has thought about, pulled from passing references throughout the original trilogy to become fully realized plot threads, and then they folded in so much more.  Without the religion and mysticism of the Force, Solo: A Star Wars Story breaks the precedents of the saga as space fantasy to become arguably the first end-to-end science fiction movie of the franchise.  And it’s not just a fun movie.  Viewers will get plenty to think about.  Characters here are sometimes swapped into positions taken by other characters (and beasts) in prior movies in a way that will make moviegoers want to take another look at the prior films again.

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Ten years in the planning.  Eighteen movies.  All of it the brainchild of master Marvel universe coordinator Kevin Feige.  Yet it’s still only halfway through the third act or Phase III of the grand Marvel Cinematic Universe saga.  Marvel Studios has promised to tie everything together, including every magical talisman holding the six Infinity Stones–in directors Anthony and Joe Russo’s Avengers: Infinity War, the first of a two-part story, originally divided into simply parts 1 and 2.  The studio released a new trailer this weekend explaining more about the plot, plus a new poster for the movie that somehow crams in every key hero that will be packed into the movie.  Call it a St. Patrick’s Day present for Marvel fans.

And that’s a roll call that includes headliners Iron Man (Robert Downey, Jr.), Thor (Chris Hemsworth), Hulk (Mark Ruffalo), Captain America (Chris Evans), Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson), Doctor Strange (Benedict Cumberbatch), War Machine (Don Cheadle), Spider-man (Tom Holland), Black Panther (Chadwick Boseman), Vision (Paul Bettany), Scarlet Witch (Elizabeth Olsen), Falcon (Anthony Mackey), Nebula (Karen Gillan), Bucky Barnes (Sebastian Stan), Ant-Man (Paul Rudd), Loki (Tom Hiddleston), Okoye (Danai Gurira), Wong (Benedict Wong), Shuri (Letitia Wright), Drax (Dave Bautista), Gamora (Zoe Saldana), Rocket (Sean Gunn) and Groot (Terry Notary), Wasp (Evangeline Lilly), Mantis (Pom Klementieff), Pepper (Gwyneth Paltrow), and Star-Lord (Chris Pratt).

Presumably the poster and trailer don’t tell all, so we’ll be looking for most of the support team to have an appearance, too, including Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson), The Collector (Benicio del Toro) and Heimdall (Idris Elba)–both listed on the poster in fine print, Hawkeye (Jeremy Renner), Aunt Mae (Marisa Tomei), Maria Hill (Cobie Smulders), and Happy (Jon Favreau).  And they will all face off against Thanos (Josh Brolin) and Black Order members/Thanos’s children: Ebony Maw (Tom Vaughan-Lawlor) and Cull Obsidian (Terry Notary) and two characters expected to be voiced by familiar, but as yet unnamed, actors: Corvus Glaive and Proxima Midnight.  And a new name: Peter Dinklage is listed at the bottom of the poster.  Who will he portray?

So check out this trailer where the Marvel Cinematic Universe–The Avengers, Spider-Man, Doctor Strange, Black Panther, and the Guardians of the Galaxy–come together in one film: Avengers: Infinity War: Continue reading

   

Review by C.J. Bunce

Last year Fox’s science fiction series The Orville provided what many fans of sci-fi TV had been missing for the past decade: a rejection of a dystopian model of the future and a return to an optimistic outlook, a future where Earthlings succeed in their exploration of the universe.  Hands-on creator Seth MacFarlane and sci-fi royalty Brannon Braga, Jonathan Frakes, Robert Duncan McNeill, and even Jon Favreau and many other genre veterans created a new world full of real people, believable aliens, exquisitely designed ships and sets, and a 75-piece orchestra with the best music you can find on television.  In the old days of Hollywood, studios tried to give fans what they wanted to see.  Distancing itself from the new trend of laying on viewers quirky visions and forced constructs, the show instead unapologetically serves up what is frequently disparagingly called “fan service.”  In other words, MacFarlane is giving sci-fi fans what they want.  Fans of The Orville can marvel at the details of the production in a newly-released chronicle of the series, The World of The Orville Readers will walk away with a better understanding of why the series works: It’s a show by fans for fans, created by some of the best artists, artisans, writers, and actors around.

It’s pretty rare that any television series releases a companion book, let alone one that is published before the second season airs.  The World of The Orville covers the series from idea through concept art design, casting, art direction, make-up, costumes, prop design, and sound, up through the end of the season this past December.  The book is not just a compilation of concept art or film images, it’s a good mix of both, complete with explanatory text from across the several production departments.  Insight is provided from execs Brannon Braga, David A. Goodman, and Jason Clark, production designer Stephen J. Lineweaver, supervising producer Andre Bormanis, master visual effects veteran Rob Legato, effects supervisors Luke McDonald and Natasha Francis, concept designer Brandon Fayette, prop master Bryan Rodgers, display designer David Watkinson, construction coordinator Tony Lattanzio, makeup artist Howard Berger, music composer Bruce Broughton, and creator and actor Seth MacFarlane.  The book’s author Jeff Bond incorporates a good mix of behind the scenes photographs and text to provide a solid overview of the story path of season one.

Significant coverage is given of the ship The Orville itself, inside and out, including early concept art and alternative styles considered in arriving at the giant yacht that would make it to the screen.  Readers will get a look at costume designer Joseph A. Porro’s rejected designs, and various makeup designs attempted for key alien characters.  Ship designs, alien worlds, costumes and weapons, as well as a look at each key character and production set can be found here.

Check out some preview pages from The World of The Orville, courtesy of the publisher:

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The new sci-fi comedy Orville is coming soon from Emmy Award-winning executive producer and actor Seth MacFarlane (Ted, Family Guy) and director Jon Favreau (Iron Man, Elf) premieres Sunday, September 10.  It’s a parody, but has so many creators from Star Trek (like directors Jonathan Frakes, Brannon Braga, and Robert Duncan McNeill) it looks like the real McCoy.  It’s the next science fiction series on our watch list.

This afternoon, Fox showcased the creators and stars at a panel at San Diego Comic-Con, including the reveal of a second trailer for the series.  It features more aliens, and more humor.  Panelists MacFarlane, Adrianne Palicki, Scott Grimes, Penny Johnson Jerald, Peter Macon, Halston Sage, J Lee, Mark Jackson, and Chad Coleman, and producers David A. Goodman and Brannon Braga were introduced to the crowd in Room 6A of the San Diego Convention Center.  The big surprise was the news Charlize Theron will make an appearance in the first season.

Seth McFarlane returns to outer space, playing Captain Ed Mercer, newly tapped commander of The Orville, an exploratory vessel 400 years in our future.  Its crew, a mix of alien and human–and better yet, non-humanoid–races, encounters all those trials of space life found only in the lower decks of past sci-fi series.  Adrianne Palicki (G.I. Joe: Retribution, Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.) is the X.O., Captain Mercer’s ex-wife Kelly Grayson, Scott Grimes (Family Guy, Band of Brothers, Star Trek: The Next Generation) is Ed’s best friend Gordon Molloy, Penny Johnson Jerald (Deep Space Nine, Castle) is Dr. Claire Finn, Peter Macon (Supernatural, The Shield) is Bortus, newcomer Mark Jackson is Isaac, J. Lee (Family Guy) is John Lamarr, Halston Sage (Goosebumps) is Alara Kitan, and Norm Macdonald (Saturday Night Live) is the voice of Yaphit.

Check out the official Comic-Con trailer for The Orville:

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It’s a parody, but the next science fiction series on your watch list looks just like the real deal.

While the next Star Trek series Star Trek Discovery remains somewhere in the shadows, a new, fully-realized sci-fi universe is heading our way this year on Fox with the new series The Orville.  From director Jon Favreau and creator/star Seth McFarlane comes an incredibly well-designed future world full of ships, aliens, cool costumes, and… humor?  In the vein of the Star Trek-spoof Galaxy Quest–but with a more finely-tuned science fiction look and feel–the next ship to hit television screens will be the USS Orville. 

Seth McFarlane returns to outer space, playing Captain Ed Mercer, newly tapped commander of The Orville, an exploratory vessel 400 years in our future.  Its crew, a mix of alien and human–and better yet, non-humanoid–races, encounters all those trials of space life found only in the lower decks of past sci-fi series.  Adrianne Palicki (G.I. Joe: Retribution, Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.) is the X.O., Captain Mercer’s ex-wife Kelly Grayson, Scott Grimes (Family Guy, Band of Brothers, Star Trek: The Next Generation) is Ed’s best friend Gordon Molloy, Penny Johnson Jerald (Deep Space Nine, Castle) is Dr. Claire Finn, Peter Macon (Supernatural, The Shield) is Bortus, newcomer Mark Jackson is Isaac, J. Lee (Family Guy) is John Lamarr, Halston Sage (Goosebumps) is Alara Kitan, and Norm Macdonald (Saturday Night Live) is the voice of Yaphit.

Plus, the series has tapped the real deal for its music, composer Bruce Broughton, who worked on classic TV scores for years–everything from Barnaby Jones to Hawaii Five-O, to Gunsmoke, Amazing Stories, and Buck Rogers in the 24th Century, and memorable movie scores to Silverado, So I Married an Axe Murder, Tombstone, and the Lost in Space remake.  Get ready for a surprise–this looks a lot better than we would have guessed–the first trailer for The Orville:

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Who is the Iron Fist?

iron-fist-poster

It all leads into the Netflix series The Defenders coming this September.

First we met Matt “Daredevil” Murdock (Charlie Cox) and Elektra Natchios (Elodie Yung) in Daredevil, then Jessica Jones (Krysten Ritter) and Luke “Power Man” Cage (Mike Colter) in the series Jessica Jones and Luke Cage.  Next month we meet the last member of Marvel’s newest incarnation of the team from the classic comic book series The Defenders.  Danny Rand, the Iron Fist (played by Finn Jones) in next month’s series Iron Fist.

For the most part the Disney-backed Marvel empire has maintained quality storytelling (excluding only a few standalone character sequels along the way) since Jon Favreau and Kevin Feige lit up the franchise with Iron Man in 2008.  Efforts with the networks included good efforts with Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. and Agent Carter (and a new X-Men series Legion gaining steam), but the real serial success has been seen with the Netflix series.

iron-fist-full-poster

So who is this last member of The Defenders?  Netflix sheds some light on Iron Fist in these two previews: Continue reading

spidey-tonySomeday we’ll all look back at all these Marvel superhero movies and identify a few standouts.  Will they include the original Iron Man?  Captain America: Winter Soldier?  Ant-Man?  Guardians of the Galaxy?  As for the big team-up films, they will be difficult to differentiate.  Superhero punches superhero.  Big things blow up, but bigger this time and the next time and the next.  This year’s big team-up entry didn’t have the “Avengers” title but it was every bit the same: Captain America: Civil War.  It could have just as easily been called Iron Man: Civil War.  Or The Avengers III: Civil War.  But Captain America: Civil War got the blockbuster team-up right with one big stretch of awesome.

It all began with the entrance of the new Spider-man, played by Tom Holland–the unprecedented third actor to play a big-screen Marvel character.  Once Spider-man met Robert Downey, Jr.’s Tony Stark, the movie took off and didn’t let up until Black Widow allowed Team Captain America to escape.  For young Spidey to hold his own with Captain America, Ant-Man, Giant Man, Scarlet Witch, and the Falcon, credit goes to Holland for a pretty good feat.

spider-man-iron-man

Earlier this week Marvel Studios released a teaser trailer and tonight the studio added the full trailer for Spider-man: Homecoming, an incredibly refreshing-looking superhero flick clearly built with the off-the-wall flavor of humor found in Marvel’s Ant-Man and Deadpool.  New odd, lanky, voice-changing, and nerdy Tom Holland (Wolf Hall) has that spark and jolt of energy we didn’t quite see with prior Spider-men Tobey Maguire or Andrew Garfield.

spider-man-washington-monument

This new trailer alone runs circles around anything in the prior Spider-man movies.  Be among the first to check out Holland in this first international trailer for Spider-man: Homecoming:

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Shannara series

MTV clearly has ambitions to become the next CW Network, and its choice for the latest young adult focused series is sure to bring in viewers of shows like The Vampire Diaries, Stitchers, Smallville, and The Flash.  It’s The Shannara Chronicles, a classic fantasy world series based on the Terry Brooks series of novels and specifically The Elfstones of Shannara.  The two-hour premiere aired Tuesday night and revealed an incredibly rich set of film locations and environments to create a world ruled by Elves in a future Earth in the area of what was once the Pacific Northwest (the show opening reveals an ancient ruin that was once the Seattle Space Needle).  Humans, dwarves, gnomes, and trolls–all the fantasy races you’d expect in a good fantasy series can be found here.

A single tree guarded by the Elves is said to keep the Demons from re-entering the world.  Some say this is just a myth.  But the tree has now become sick, and a young Elf woman, her grandfather the Elfking, a Druid, and his apprentice must convince everyone the story is not just a myth as they attempt to save the tree, or allow the unspeakable evil to be unleashed.  It’s Terry Brooks, not George R.R. Martin, so expect quick-paced action (the story races forward so you’ve no time to get bored), less melodrama and long dialogue, and a more youthful cast.

John Rhys-Davies Shannara

With a production led in part by popular executive producer Jon Favreau (Iron Man, Elf), the cast is also quite impressive.  Bringing gravitas and legitimacy to the series is John Rhys-Davies (Lord of the Rings, Raiders of the Lost Ark) as the Elfking, Manu Bennett (The Hobbit, Arrow) as a Druid human, and James Remar (The X-Files, Battlestar Galactica, The Legend of Korra, Django Unchained) as head of the Rovers

The young members of the cast show some promise, too, beginning with Pan’s Labyrinth star Ivana Baquero as the second female lead Eretria, Austin Butler (Arrow) as Wil, the naïve padawan of the Druid who possesses three rare Elfstones, and Poppy Drayton (Downton Abbey, Father Brown) as the show’s burgeoning warrior, a “Chosen” heroine named Amberle.

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Jungle Book clip Baloo Mowgli

I consider myself a big-time fan of Disney’s 1967 adaptation of Rudyard Kipling’s 1894 work The Jungle Book.  To me, it has always been Disney’s #1 animated movie–from the perfect George Bruns score and memorable songs by Terry Glikyson and the Sherman brothers, including The Bare Necessities, Colonel Hathi’s March, Trust in Me, and Abba Dabba Honeymoon.  Back in 2012 here at borg.com I named it in my top five favorite fantasy movies.  (Quick trivia: It’s even one of Clint Howard’s earliest projects).  I even named one of my beautiful bear-cub looking dogs Baloo after the incredibly friendly best pal of Mowgli (and unsuccessfully petitioned the powers-that-be to name his sister after the protective panther Bagheera).  Although the animation itself isn’t Disney’s best, it doesn’t take away from the fun of the movie.  The animated version of The Jungle Book is a gem and a true classic.

So it was with some trepidation that I watched the first live-action adaptation of the story with Disney’s 1994 version of The Jungle Book.  This time the jolly, sing-along music and talking animals were gone.  But I was pleasantly surprised.  Solid direction by Stephen Sommers (Catch Me If You Can, The Mummy, Van Helsing, G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra) plus excellent acting and faithful characterizations allowed Jason Scott Lee, Lena Headey, Sam Neill, Cary Elwes, and John Cleese to make a truly enjoyable dramatic movie.

Bagheera

In 2016 Disney is trying again with another live-action version of The Jungle Book, this time directed by Jon Favreau (Iron Man) with a different twist: voice-over actors for the animals, including Bill Murray as Baloo, Ben Kingsley as Bagheera, Christopher Walken as King Louie, Scarlett Johansson as Kaa, Idris Elba as Shere Khan, Giancarlo Esposito as Akela, Lupita Nyong’0 as Raksha, and young actor Neel Sethi as Mowgli.  Expect this version to be heavy on special effects.  How will it compare to the prior versions?  One plus is that the original songs from the 1967 animated movie will be back, as hinted at the end of the first trailer just released for the movie.

Check it out here:

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Evan Peters QuickSilver Time in a Bottle X-Men Days of Futue Past

Review by C.J. Bunce

BOULEVARD DRIVE-IN — It’s hard to believe it has only been six years since Jon Favreau surprised the world, taking a typically underwhelming character like Tony Stark, casting Robert Downey, Jr. as Iron Man, and making the best modern superhero movie.  Although fanboy director Favreau made the Christmas classic Elf before Iron Man, who knew he was going to change how we evaluate the modern superhero film?  So it shouldn’t be surprising that a proven genre director like Bryan Singer, with titles under his belt like The Usual Suspects, X-Men, X-Men 2, X-men Origins: Wolverine, Superman Returns, and Valkyrie, has set the new standard in the summer blockbuster sci-fi, fantasy, and superhero sphere with his latest X-title, X-Men: Days of Future Past.  You don’t even need to be an X-Men or Marvel fan to realize what a triumph Singer has achieved.

The movie is gigantic from the opening set-up.  The giant mechanical Sentinels of the comic books take over Earth in the distant future, weeding out once and for all the small bands of survivors, creating a very Terminator-influenced opening.  Now see if you can spot a theme here.  A band of what you might call Tier 3 X-Men, led by Kitty Pryde (played by Oscar nominee Ellen Page), find a way to send something back into the past to save themselves from Sentinel strikes.  Golden Globe and Emmy nominee Patrick Stewart’s Professor X, Oscar nominee Ian McKellen’s Magneto and Oscar nominee Hugh Jackman’s Logan aka Wolverine take Pryde’s method to come up with a time travel plan that results in dual casts trying to save their world, one in 1973, the other in the future.  Storm, played by returning Oscar winner Halle Berry, tries to fend off the Sentinels to allow the time travel trick to work.

Magneto Fassbender

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