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Tag Archive: Judd Hirsch


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Review by C.J. Bunce

Independence Day: Resurgence hit theaters in a summer full of major releases, so odds are you missed this one.  Nearly the entire key cast–excluding most notably Will Smith–returned for the sequel to 1996’s surprise summer hit Independence Day: Jeff Goldblum, Bill Pullman, Judd Hirsch, Brent Spiner, Vivica A. Fox, and even John Storey and Robert Loggia in his final role.  Fans of the original and fans of Roland Emmerich (The Day After Tomorrow, 2012, Godzilla) and his take on the classic disaster movie will want to check out the new Blu-ray and the extensive special features available this week for the first time, which detail the planning and enormity of the special effects created for the film.

Resurgence is best if viewed as the next entry in a long cinematic history of rollicking disaster films.  Think Irwin Allen’s Earthquake, Towering Inferno, and The Poseidon Adventure or more recent films where Earth’s monuments stand little chance at survival like The Day After Tomorrow, 2012, and San Andreas.  Independence Day: Resurgence provides an entirely new look at Earth.  The setting is today, but it’s a parallel world that lays out a possible world 20 years after the defeat of an alien menace.  As revealed in our review of The Art & Making of Independence Day here, Emmerich and co-creator of the original Dean Devlin pulled out all the stops in creating a big-budget special effects spectacle.

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But it’s not fair to just label it only a disaster movie.  Resurgence is in good company as sci-fi is concerned.  With its mysterious sphere and aliens that telepathically communicate with humans we can look back to the roots of modern sci-fi films in 2001: A Space Odyssey and Close Encounters of the Third Kind.  It’s critical look at what humans might do when encountering aliens evokes The Day the Earth Stood Still.  And it’s look at the knee-jerk reaction of mankind to militarize and destroy with a blind eye to others we don’t understand is straight out of Starship Troopers and Ender’s Game.  It doesn’t achieve the success of any one of these, but does make for a solid summer popcorn flick with a rousing soundtrack and some cutting edge visuals, and in doing so it plays much like Ridley Scott’s Prometheus.

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Independence Day Resurgence

We knew the sequel to 1996’s summer hit Independence Day was coming our way next year, but who would have guessed it would look like the sequel to Aliens?  Or Close Encounters of the Third Kind?  Director Roland Emmerich is back again, with a new, younger cast and some of the original players including Bill Pullman, Jeff Goldblum, Judd Hirsch and Brent Spiner.  Leverage and The Librarians producer/writer/director Dean Devlin was the writer on the original, but did not return for the sequel.  Maybe that accounts for the difference in tone?

But something is not quite the same.  Sequels usually carry off more than the next sequence of events from a story.  Independence Day is known for the humor of Will Smith and Randy Quaid as much as for the fact that it was an alien invasion flick.  We see no sign of that humor in this first trailer released this weekend for Independence Day: Resurgence.

Check it out for yourself:

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Gruffudd star of ABC Forever

We love good TV.  Nothing is better than looking forward each week to a show you can trust to have great writing and great acting.  We’ve made our way through several series again this year, trying out pilots for new shows and adding them into the DVR queue–if they made the cut.  Many didn’t.  We also re-try series that didn’t prompt us to watch in prior years.  Most lose out because they rely on shock over substance and storytelling.  Where we ended up was a list of what we love, and what we have recommended all year.  These series are our Best of the Best for 2014.

Our biggest disappointments?  The cancellations of the brilliant, futuristic Almost Human and the reboot of the TV classic Dallas–these shows were written by the best script writers around and will be sorely missed.  We hope you’ll give some of the following shows a try next year, or catch them on streaming media, if you’re not watching already.

Forever De la Garza and Gruffudd

ForeverBest TV Series, Best TV Fantasy Fix, Best Actor (Ioan Gruffudd), Best Actress (Alana de la Garza), Best Supporting Actor (Judd Hirsch), Best Villain (Burn Gorman).  Contenders for the year’s best series were easy to spot:  ABC’s Forever or NBC’s Gotham.  In years past at borg.com we have favored cable programming, yet this year the networks surged ahead with these two superb series.  Forever nudged out Gotham for top prize because of its straightforward storytelling, small talented cast, superb dialogue, and fun situations.  Ioan Gruffudd (Horatio Hornblower, Ringer, Fantastic Four) and Alana de la Garza (Law and Order) were perfect foils for each other in the lead roles, and each created compelling characters.  Judd Hirsch played son to younger Gruffudd’s unsinkable doctor and gave us the best father and son team on TV in years.  Burn Gorman’s chilling performances toward the end of this season were a great addition, setting us up for more fun next year.

Gotham clip

GothamBest TV Series Runner-up, Best Supporting Actress (Jada Pinkett Smith as Fish Mooney), Best Supporting Actor Runner-up (Donal Logue as Harvey Bullock).  NBC’s Gotham did many things we normally wouldn’t like, including taking source material and standing it on end and adding new characters to a classic story’s established cast.  Yet it all worked somehow with this intriguing re-imagining of Bruce Wayne’s backstory.  Catwoman and Batman were friends as kids?  The Penguin was a mole and stooge for key crime families?  Commissioner Gordon took Bruce Wayne under his wing as a child?  All of this worked, yet the best view into Gotham life was provided by Gordon’s partner, played by Donal Logue (Life, Vikings), and Jada Pinkett Smith’s sultry and ruthless gangster Fish Mooney.

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Review by Elizabeth C. Bunce

Brace yourselves:  It’s another eccentric-male-expert-and-his-younger-female-law-enforcement-handler crime drama.  But this time there are a couple very big, very appealing twists.  Premiering September 23, 2014, ABC’s new supernatural drama Forever stars underused genre favorites Ioan Gruffudd (Horatio Hornblower, Fantastic Four, Ringer) and Alana De La Garza (Law & Order).  You’ve probably seen the previews and already know the premise: Ioan Gruffudd’s Henry Morgan, a New York City medical examiner, cannot die.  Or, rather, he keeps dying–but mysteriously returns to life, almost just at the moment of his departure.  It is the mysteries of that process–inexplicable even to Morgan, even after some 200 years–that the series will explore.  But it’s the powerhouse casting, rich writing, and excellent chemistry that set Forever apart from your run-of-the-mill immortal medical examiner and smart tough female cop drama.

Watching Ioan Gruffudd since Horatio Hornblower in the 1990s, you always got the feeling he was searching for that next perfect role.  He may have finally found it.  His somewhat formal, very British (the actor is originally from Wales) air has landed him brief roles as the stilted, brilliant, rich guy (Fantastic Four, Ringer, a recent guest spot as a billionaire on Castle)–but it’s all of those factors that make him perfect as the literally immortal physician.  Gruffudd really does seem like he stepped out of the past, smart enough to have lived and learned for 200 years, but never quite shaking his original 1800s mien.  A self-proclaimed expert on death (his own, and everyone else’s), Morgan is doomed to suffer the familiar pang of every immortal: watching everyone else grow old and die.

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With obvious nods to BBC/Masterpiece Mystery megahit Sherlock (Gruffudd even ties his scarf in Benedict Cumberbatch’s signature knot), it’s clear what audience Forever is trying to reach.  And yet Morgan is infinitely more charming than Sherlock Holmes ever was, even as he instantly micro-analyzes your life the moment he meets you.  What comes off as egregiously, appallingly pompous from Holmes, is a winsome parlor trick in Morgan’s hands–and that charm and affability make him immediately sympathetic, because you understand that all the charm in the world can’t protect him from eventually losing anyone he cares about.

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Sharknado 2 poster

Sharks in New York City?  Sharks in the subway?

The crazy phenomenon from last July that took America by storm, of the shark-filled tornado variety, is back (already?).  Sharknado, the latest of the over-the-top mash-ups that have helped define the lowest common denominator of the Syfy Channel, was so absurd and yet fun for all of us to laugh at, that it “darned near broke the Internet,” jumping to a trending Twitter topic and the stuff of non-stop posts by tweeters and bloggers like Wil Wheaton.

By now almost everyone has seen it who has cable or a streaming service–it’s hard to avoid, and even harder to turn away.  The scene of Ian Ziering of Beverly Hills, 90210 fame, taking his chainsaw into the mouth of a shark diving on him from a tornado is the stuff of legend in the annals of campy TV.  It just brings tears to the eyes.

'Sharknado 2: The Second One' TV on set filming, New York, America - 19 Feb 2014

And in only two weeks we’ll meet Ziering and Tara Reid again in–wait for it–Sharknado 2: The Second One.  How will it fare against the original, or against past Syfy Channel original movies, like Alien Apocalypse, Snowmageddon, Mega Paranha, Sharktopus, Pteradactyl, Jersey Shore Shark Attack, Piranhaconda, Frankenfish, Swamp Shark, Dinocroc, Supergator, Megasnake, or Triassic Attack?

Co-starring Judd Hirsch from Taxi and Independence Day and Mark McGrath from the band Sugar Ray.   Say what?

McGrath and Ziering Sharknado 2

After the break check out a sneak peek of Sharknado 2:

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