Tag Archive: Matt Smith


Review by C.J. Bunce

Although Stan Lee didn’t design or write the character Morbius, it was his idea, and that’s no surprise, as Netflix viewers will find this weekend now that Sony’s big screen flick Morbius arrives on the streaming service.  Stan’s quick quasi-science works at some level for cinema’s Spider-Man and the Hulk, good storytelling made it work for Luke Cage on TV, and humor made it work in Deadpool and Venom.  Without Kevin Feige and Disney’s Marvel backing, Marvel fans still may think Sony’s latest could land like Spider-Man, or even Venom.  Unfortunately it’s a movie closer to The Fantastic Four (the one with Miles Teller).  What’s the problem?  Either the decision to make a movie at all from this singularly derivative character, or the choice of writers.  We’re in a world where good writers and filmmakers have created spectacular movies and TV about B-level superhero types.  Like Ant-Man or Moon Knight, or Sony’s own Venom and Deadpool.  As you may guess, Morbius falls into the spectacularly bad category.

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The battle of the fantasy series begins.  By some reports Amazon Prime has more than double the subscribers of all of HBO and HBO Max in just the U.S. alone, but both are pulling out the stops for their big-budget prequel series.  That’s The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power from Amazon (previewed here), and the Game of Thrones prequel series House of the Dragon HBO Max (sorry, HBO-only subscribers) released a compelling trailer for its series, with production values, costumes and props, rousing music (and that great CGI dragon!) that rivals Amazon’s series previews for what has been called the most expensive series yet, estimated at $1 billion for its five planned seasons.

The Game of Thrones prequel also has the benefit of Doctor Who star Matt Smith, who has had an amazing showing since his run as the Doctor from 2010 to 2014, including movies Terminator Genisys, Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, and most recently Last Night in Soho and Morbius.  Unlike The Rings of Power, it also has several familiar genre stars, including Rhys Ifans (Spider-Man: No Way Home, Alice Through the Looking Glass, The King’s Man, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows), Bill Paterson (Doctor Who, Shetland, Outlander, Sea of Souls), Olivia Cooke (Ready Player One, Bates Motel, The Secret of Crickley Hall). Graham McTavish (The Hobbit, Creed, Outlander, Rambo, Sharpe, Lost, 24, Aquaman), Cornetto Trilogy regular Paddy Considine (Hot Fuzz, The World’s End), Milly Alcock (The Gloaming), Emma D’Arcy (Truth Seekers, Wild Bill), and even young Wonder Woman and Lara Croft actress Emily Carey.

Check it out for yourself:

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The second and third most famous genre Jareds take center stage in this trailer from the Sony side of the Marvel universe.  Academy Award winner Jared Leto (Suicide Squad, Blade Runner 2049) stars as Marvel’s own bat-man, Dr. Michael Morbius, and BAFTA Award-winning actor Jared Harris (Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows, Fringe, The Expanse) is Emil Nikols.  Yes, Marvel has shaken its tree a lot to get us down to movies featuring the likes of Moon Knight and the “living vampire.”  The appeal for most audiences will be more of Michael Keaton in the superhero realm, back as Vulture, Keaton’s villain of Spider-Man: Homecoming.  And who isn’t still waiting to see what movie will be Matt Smith′s post-Doctor Who breakout role?  The movie also stars Fast & Furious’s Tyrese Gibson, and 6 Underground’s Adria Arjona.

Check out the final trailer for Morbius:

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Review by C.J. Bunce

Some of the best Doctor Who stories can actually be found outside the television series.  Take for example the hundreds of audio books from Big Finish.  In what other franchise can you find spin-off dramas featuring the very stars of the franchise, as well as other award-winning actors?  Another place you can find your Doctor Who fix is via Titan Comics.  Doctor Who fans across the world can find comic book writer Jody Houser tapping into some of Doctor Who fans’ favorite characters and concepts in the first issue of the new series Doctor Who: Empire of the Wolf.  It’s at comic shops tomorrow.  Of course, that’s Wolf as in Bad Wolf.  Straight out of the gates we encounter David Tennant’s alternate 11th Doctor with Rose Tyler.  Better yet, the story crosses beams with the least utilized of all, Paul McGann’s fantastic eighth Doctor, (celebrating the 25th anniversary of his first appearance) plus Matt Smith’s popular 12th Doctor.  And an army of short, angry potatoes with guns.  And a Fez.  Oh, yes, there is much fun to be found here.

Check out a preview of Issue #1 below for borg readers courtesy of Titan Comics.

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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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Two of the three most famous genre Jareds take center stage in the latest trailer from the Marvel universe.  Academy Award winner Jared Leto (Suicide Squad, Blade Runner 2049) stars as Dr. Michael Morbius and Jared Harris (Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows, Fringe, The Expanse) as an undisclosed mentor, possibly Jack Russell.  Morbius takes place in the Sony side of the Marvel universe.  Not yet taking the plunge to become a full-on Marvel Cinematic Universe entry now that the Disney/Sony deal is done, a trailer appearance by Michael Keaton as Vulture reflects a straddling of the franchise.  Keaton’s character was the villain of Spider-Man: Homecoming, the first Spider-Man movie of the Marvel Cinematic Universe.  Morbius appears to have been filmed in the dark lighting of the earlier horror/superhero-verse film Venom, which featured another historic tie-in character from the world of Spider-Man.  Morbius will be released this summer a few months in advance of a Venom sequel.

Not to be confused with the Dr. Morbius of Forbidden Planet, this is the sci-fi/Dracula hybrid–the “living vampire”–created by Roy Thomas and Gil Kane in the pages of Marvel Comics in 1971.  Comic greats like Don McGregor and the late Rich Buckler and Steve Gerber would work on the Morbius stories over the years–a doomed hero drawn to look like actor Jack Palance.  Over the years the character would rub shoulders with Ghost Rider, Man-Thing, Doctor Strange, and Blade, but most notably Spider-Man.  Elements of the trailer look like the stuff of Doctor Strange, Venom, and Deadpool, and this is obviously a character from the world of Stan Lee.

The original Morbius in superhero costume from the pages of Marvel Comics.

The film co-stars Doctor Who’s Matt Smith, Fast & Furious’s Tyrese Gibson, and 6 Underground’s Adria Arjona.

Could this be an entry point for new Blade, Ghost Rider, or Carnage movies?  Take a look at this first trailer for Morbius:

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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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It’s no surprise the movie studios are releasing trailers more frequently this time of year.  In the weeks leading up to San Diego Comic-Con, just as studios are holding back more genre and “pop culture” trailers to showcase in San Diego, they’re giving audiences a peek now at everything else.  We have five new trailers today, three for films we haven’t yet previewed, and two are new trailers for films you already know about.  What do they all have in common?  They all feature stars from the British realm.

So what’s new from Keira Knightley (why doesn’t she have an Oscar yet?), Ralph Fiennes, Matt Smith, and Katherine Kelly?  You’ll find them in the political thriller Official Secrets, based on the story of Katherine Gun, who leaked a secret memo exposing an illegal U.S. spying operation.  The Good Liar stars master thespians Dame Helen Mirren and Sir Ian McKellen in a swindler story about meeting online.  Luke Evans and Ed Skrein lead a new World War II historical drama in MidwayAnd from the two films you’ve probably heard of:  Jason Statham, Vanessa Kirby, Idris Elba, Helen Mirren, and Eddie Marsan all star in Fast & Furious Presents: Hobbs & Shaw, and Margot Robbie plays Sharon Tate and Damian Lewis plays Steve McQueen in Once Upon a Time in Hollywood.  

  

Finally, don’t forget, another Brit, Tom Holland, stars in next week’s latest Marvel movie, Spider-Man: Far From Home.  Check out these trailers:

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While moviegoers are awaiting the new trailer for DC Entertainment’s Aquaman coming this weekend from San Diego Comic-Con, studios have slipped in a few other film trailers you may want to check out:

Godzilla: King of the Monsters stars Stranger Things star Millie Bobby Brown in the next installment of the franchise.

Welcome to Marwen is a Robert Zemeckis drama featuring Steve Carell as a post-trauma victim who uses action figures to re-create his lost world.

Patient Zero stars Doctor Who’s Matt Smith and Game of Thrones’ Natalie Dormer with the irrepressible Stanley Tucci.

And Overlord appears to be J.J. Abrams’ attempt to mash-up an M. Night Shyamalan horror thriller with Quentin Tarentino’s over-the-top World War II action flick Inglourious Basterds.

Check them all out:

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prideprejudiceszombies

Review by Elizabeth C. Bunce

It is a truth universally acknowledged that a classic story in possession of fans must be in want of retelling.  Likewise, that if that story is a novel, it should also thence be made into a film.  And if you can find a way to put zombies in, wins all around.

Thus, writer/director Burr Steers’ new Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, based on the eponymous 2005 novel “co-written” by Seth Grahame-Smith (Abraham Lincoln, Vampire Hunter) and Jane Austen.  Cleverly packaged to release in time for Valentine’s Day, the film is a sure winner for date night: costumes; romance; actors in various states of fetching undress; violence; girls with swords; shambling, oozing undead in fetching period costumes; and powerful women with estates and eyepatches.  And Matt Smith.  Need I say more, really?

As a version of Pride and Prejudice, PPZ is probably below average, and relies on the viewer’s familiarity with the story, since much of the film’s 108-minute runtime must be given over to worldbuilding and action sequences (although fans of the 1995 A&E adaptation will be rewarded with plenty of homages, especially with respect to Mr. Darcy).  Prideful Elizabeth Bennet (Lily James, Cinderella) and disdainful Mr. Darcy (Sam Riley) have even less onscreen chemistry than Austen’s off-again, off-again lovers normally display–but they more than make up for it with their zombie-fighting prowess.  Lizzie’s intolerable-yet-lovable family is neither interesting enough nor loathsome enough to inspire much response from the viewer; thank goodness for the zombies to give us something to care about.

PPZ zombie

As a zombie film, it’s probably also less than what the average zombie flick fan is looking for.  There are the requisite scenes of shambling hordes, rotting flesh, and brain-eating, but it’s somewhat tame thanks to the PG-13 rating, and in comparison to so many other recent zombie properties.  In fact, it’s actually a credit to the filmmakers that they didn’t try to outdo the competition with their zombie horde, and instead showed a certain 19th century refinement and restraint in the presentation.

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