Tag Archive: Michael Douglas


Review by C.J. Bunce

After 21 movies and a decade of superheroics, the end arrived this weekend with Marvel StudiosAvengers: Endgame, already setting new box office records.  Nearly every seat at multiple screenings at my local theater was sold out this weekend, as was the case across the country.  Which means many have seen it, but even more haven’t. You can’t review a film without some details, so if you haven’t seen it yet, do yourself a favor: bookmark this and come back later.  The short version: If you’re a superhero fan and you’ve followed the previous entries in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, you won’t want to miss it.  But re-watch both Avengers: Infinity War and Captain Marvel first.  I’ve no idea how anyone will follow the events in the film without first seeing at least these two films.  Endgame is a good wrap-up to the first major story arc in the franchise and a fine segue into the future of the films.  But it’s not perfect (what ever is?) and I’m going to walk through some goods and bads from the film.

That means “there be spoilers ahead” so consider yourself forewarned if you continue.

Note to email subscribers: Clicking on the link will take you into the full review.

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Our borg Best of 2018 list continues today with the best in television.  If you missed it, check out our review of the Best Movies of 2018 here and the Kick-Ass Heroines of 2018 here.

Without further ado, this year’s Best in Television:

Best Borg TV Series, Best TV BorgHumans (AMC).  No other series touches on the ramifications of technology, specifically the perils of an onslaught of real-world cyborg technology, like AMC’s Humans.  This year three characters stood out, including Gemma Chan’s Mia, the cyborg Synth from past seasons, who sacrificed everything for the liberty of cyborgs in the UK.  Then there was Ruth Bradley’s Karen Voss, a Synth who refused to live segregated from the humans, opting instead for a normal life for the cyborg son she assumed care for.  And Katherine Parkinson’s Laura Hawkins, a human lawyer who fought so hard for the cause of the Synths all year, only to throw away all the good she had done, failing the first real challenge that was presented to her.  This year’s best TV borg is shared by Synths Mia and Karen, as each showed the uphill battle any future outsider must overcome when faced with humans.

Best Sci-fi TV SeriesThe Man in the High Castle (Amazon).  What had been a two-season build-up all came together in the series’ third season with the audacity of killing off key characters, wisely adhering to the framework of the source Philip K. Dick novel.  The use of science fiction to tell an often gut-wrenching array of subplots and unique characters has set up a fourth season with plenty to address.  Exciting, smart, scary, and even fun, it is an unusual science fiction show that isn’t merely trigger-happy sci-fi.  Honorable mention: Humans (AMC), Counterpart (Starz).

Best New TV Series, Best Reboot, Best Ensemble CastMagnum PI (CBS).  If you would have told us a year ago our favorite show this year would be a reboot of Magnum, p.i. starring Suicide Squad’s Jay Hernandez and an actress in the iconic role of John Hillerman’s Higgins, we wouldn’t have believed it.  And yet, even as diehard fans of the original, we had to acknowledge that many elements of the reboot series were even better in the new series.  With the dangerous risk of taking on a beloved property, the production maintained loyalty to the original while making it fresh, scoring Magnum PI high marks on all counts.  Every character was smartly written–suave and confident Magnum, energetic Rick and TC, and a savvy Higgins–every actor was perfectly cast, and each show was another round of nostalgic fun for fans of the original.  Best New TV Series Honorable mention for Best New TV Series: Counterpart (Starz), Lodge 49 (AMC).

Best Series, Best Drama, Best ComedyLodge 49 (AMC).  Lodge 49 told two stories: a darkly serious drama of real people dealing with real-life 2018 adversity, and the other a comedy farce like no other.  Hanging over our heads was the idea that this was going to be a fantasy show, complete with secret codes, hidden rooms, and psychic visions.  If you’re looking for all the elements of great fantasy the hint of it all could be found throughout this series.  And yet it wasn’t fantasy at all.  An oddball Cheers?  A southern Twin Peaks without the Lynchian weirdness?  Star Wyatt Russell’s hero Dud could be dismissed as a typical young man with no vision, or maybe he’s that idealist that everyone needs to strive to be.  Maybe we’ll learn more about that next season.  Honorable mention for Best Drama: Counterpart (Starz).  Honorable mention for Best Comedy: Baskets (FX).
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Review by C.J. Bunce

Iron Man, Spider-Man, and the Hulk haven’t done it.  Along with Captain America and Thor, now Ant-Man adds another Marvel Cinematic universe film that matches the spirit of its first solo film.  That’s Ant-Man and the Wasp, premiering this weekend in theaters across the U.S.  If you count Ant-Man as one of your favorite films of the MCU, you won’t be disappointed in the sequel.  As with the original, Ant-Man and the Wasp is the rare superhero movie that will appeal to all ages of moviegoers–not a single scene will pollute the minds of the littlest kid, and for the older generation that loved that classic sci-fi trope from The Incredible Shrinking Man, moviegoers don’t need to follow the MCU to jump right into this film.  Better yet, Ant-Man and the Wasp has heart like nothing else on the big screen from Marvel, except for Paul Rudd’s first adventure as Ant-Man only three years ago.

For those not paying close attention, this film takes place before the events of Avengers: Infinity War, and two years following the events of Captain America: Civil War.  Each of the character-led superhero films have those elements special to that character.  The trademarks of Ant-Man return for this sequel: a slightly daft and bumbling hero (played by Rudd) enjoying his superpowers, a friend whose rapid-fire banter steals every scene (played by Michael Peña), a romantic co-lead ready to bust out and make her own name (played by Evangeline Lilly), even more cutting edge special effects that show today’s actors playing scenes looking just as they did 20 years ago, and the return of the great Michael Douglas with every bit the acting chops he had back in his The China Syndrome, Coma, and Romancing the Stone days as the incomparable Dr. Hank Pym, the original Ant-Man.  Rudd’s Scott Lang has only three days left under house arrest before regaining his freedom, as Dr. Pym and daughter Hope (Lilly) attempt to secure the last piece of technology required to try to reach Pym’s wife, long ago left in the quantum realm.  But they aren’t the only ones after this new technology.

The film doesn’t stop at mere fan service, bringing in three new characters that take the quantum universe story arc from the first film into new territory.  That’s Michelle Pfeiffer as Dr. Janet Van Dyne–the original Wasp, Laurence Fishburne as former Pym colleague Dr. Bill Foster, and a stunningly good MCU debut by Hannah John-Kamen–at last in a major big screen role after playing supporting characters this year in Tomb Raider and Ready Player One.  John-Kamen’s character has the same fierce grit and badass determination as Tessa Thompson’s Valkyrie in Thor: Ragnarok, and like Valkyrie, we hope she’s back in the sequel to Avengers: Infinity War next year.  As with Thor: Ragnarok, Ant-Man and the Wasp brings the comic book page to life, and like Black Panther, the film has an antagonist you may find yourself rooting for.  And make no mistake, Lilly’s Wasp could take over the reins from Black Widow as Marvel’s lead superheroine.

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One more Marvel Studios film is still on its way in 2018, and with the success of Avengers: Infinity War breaking the best weekend opening box office record, moviegoers will be ready to dive back in for more.  Ant-Man and The Wasp will take a step back, at least in part, before the events in Infinity War, with Ant-Man Scott Lang (Paul Rudd) on house arrest after damaging the airport as Giant Man during that spectacular action sequence in Captain America: Civil War.  Lang was enlisted to help Team Cap by The Falcon (Anthony Mackey) after his run-in with The Falcon in 2015’s Ant-Man.  That movie is also where we last saw Michael Douglas’s original Ant-Man, Dr. Hank Pym, and his daughter, Evangeline Lilly’s Hope van Dyne.

The first full trailer (previewed here) gave us a look at Ghost, portrayed by Hannah John-Kamen (Ready Player One, Tomb Raider), but with her mask, and we now see her without the mask in the official movie poster (above), just released.  We also now have our first look at Michelle Pfeiffer (Murder on the Orient Express, Wolf, Batman Returns) as Hank Pym’s wife, Dr. Janet van Dyne, the original superheroine who was lost in the Quantum Realm decades ago.

And Marvel Studios just released a second trailer for Ant-Man and The Wasp, and all signs point to another hit for Marvel.  We met the characters in the first film and now, origin story behind us, audiences will get to watch them take off.  So with no more ado, check out the new trailer (plus the teaser) for Ant-Man and The Wasp:

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Marvel’s unique approach in 2015’s Ant-Man rejuvenated the superhero franchise with something truly fresh.  Skipping all the anger and drama of superheroes in conflict, it went for laughs and expanded the potential of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, allowing for a new take on superhero films beginning with that humor-filled romp, November’s Thor: Ragnarok.  Add in the two Guardians of the Galaxy movies and you’d have the most fun superhero marathon you could put together this century.  If comic books and superheroes are about escapist fun, no better superhero illustrates that theme than the underdog played so believably by Paul Rudd.  Rudd also appeared as Ant-Man (and Giant Man) in Captain America: Civil War, and along with Tom Holland’s new Spider-man, Kevin Feige & Co. amped up what was becoming a ho-hum Avengers storyline.

Now we have the first preview for Ant-Man and The Wasp, and all signs point to another hit for Marvel, delivering exactly what fans want, our favorite characters looking cool and being cool: Michael Douglas back as Dr. Hank Pym, Rudd as the well-meaning but slightly befuddled Scott Lang aka Ant-Man, and–at last–Evangeline Lilly as Hope van Dyne donning the The Wasp supersuit.  We met the characters in the first film and now, origin story behind us, audiences will get to watch them take off.  And, of course, we have a perfectly appropriate poster showcasing the new team-up:

We get a first glimpse of Ghost in this trailer, played by Hannah John-Kamen, who if audiences don’t know her already from Star Wars: The Force Awakens and Killjoys, The Hour, Game of Thrones, and Black Mirror, you’ll know her from starring roles in Ready Player One, Tomb Raider, and Ant-Man and The Wasp. 

How will Marvel handle the character?  As the villain, or maybe not, with Walton Goggins also appearing as the comic book villain Sonny Burch?  Laurence Fishburne is also coming our way in the film as the 1960s-1970s character Dr. Bill Foster aka Goliath.

Wait no further, check out this great trailer for this summer’s Ant-Man and The Wasp:

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Thor poster comic-con 2017

In today’s Marvel panel in Hall H at the San Diego Convention Center for San Diego Comic-Con 2017, fans first learned details about Ant-Man and The Wasp.  Michelle Pieffer was confirmed to be playing Janet Van Dyne, Laurence Fishburne will be Bill Foster, Killjoys’ Hannah John-Kamen will be Ghost, and Walter Goggins will be Sonny Burch.  And we will get to see Michael Douglas don the Ant-Man suit.  Hopefully this footage will be made public soon.

Next, Chris Hemsworth, Mark Ruffalo, Cate Blanchett, Tom Hiddleston, Tessa Thompson, and Karl Urban all were on the panel for Thor: Ragnarok, introducing a great new trailer for the film.  In Marvel Studios third film in the Marvel Cinematic Universe featuring Thor, Thor: Ragnarok, we catch up with Hemsworth’s Thor–absent from last year’s Captain America: Civil War.  Where’s the (now short) golden-haired hammer-wielder been?  In the first trailer for the film we see him imprisoned on the other side of the universe without his hammer and struggling to return to ward off the destruction of his homeworld and the end of Asgardian civilization, at the hands of an all-powerful new threat, the ruthless Hela, played by Cate Blanchett.

Directed by Taika Waititi, produced by Kevin Feige, Thor: Ragnarok.  The movie includes newcomers Jeff Goldblum (Grandmaster), Tessa Thompson (Valkyrie), and Karl Urban (Skurge).

Check out this new trailer for Thor: Ragnarok:

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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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William Binderup Pam Grier KCCC 2015

The first ever Kansas City Comic Con began yesterday afternoon at the Kansas City Convention Center at Bartle Hall in downtown Kansas City.  Thousands of fans met hundreds of creators of comic books, fiction, cosplay, and other creative pursuits.  Many fulfilled dreams to meet celebrities of TV and film both new and from the past.  Comic book conventions are all about spending the weekend with like-minded fans of anything and everything you could conceive of fitting between the sci-fi, fantasy, and superhero genres.

The first day was full of con-goers getting the lay of the land–getting sketches commissioned by their favorite local or nationally-recognized artist, getting in the front of the line to meet a host of celebrity guests, and getting the first selection from the great volume of dealers at the show.  Helping out everyone were the yellow shirt-garbed “henchmen”–a well organized group of ambassadors that handled everything with a smile.

Bunce Pam Grier KCCC 2015

You can’t beat a day when you get to meet one of the coolest women in the history of cinema.  C.J. Bunce with Pam Grier.

Guests included Pam Grier, star of dozens of movies in the 1970s as well as TV and film roles since, and in particular the lead role in Quentin Tarentino’s Jackie Brown.  Ms. Grier is everything you’d hope for in such an iconic actress, and she had plenty of stories to share with fans Friday.  She also hosted a special screening of Jackie Brown after the show at the Alamo Drafthouse Theater.  Attendees received an exclusive Jackie Brown print signed by Ms. Grier.

Jedi KCCC 2015

Nalini Krishan and Orli Shoshan arrive for the opening of KCCC 2015 Day One.

Nalini Krishan and Orli Shoshan signed photos for fans and participated in photo ops, as did other media guests.  Ms. Krishan and Ms. Shoshan were featured as Jedi Knights in the Star Wars prequels.

Elizabeth C Bunce KCCC 2015

Author Elizabeth C. Bunce in steampunk cosplay.

Your humble editor spent the day with author (and borg.com writer) Elizabeth C. Bunce at Table 617 in the convention’s Artists Alley.  As much a part of comic conventions as print media creators and celebrities are cosplayers, and plenty could be found in the convention halls.

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Ant-Man and Antony

Review by C.J. Bunce

Good movies often ride on the backs of their earlier incarnations.  The Incredible Shrinking Man.  The Greatest American Hero.  Beetlejuice.  Innerspace.  Memoirs of the Invisible Man.  Honey, I Shrunk the Kids.  The classic original Tron.  Sources you might not first think of like Wallace & Gromit’s The Wrong Trousers. Even Thoreau’s Walden (who hasn’t marveled at the coordinated work of ants, or fantasized about being very small?).  Marvel’s new hit Ant-Man borrows bits and pieces from all of these and more.  Yet it also adds something new to those, such as improved special effects, including make-up, CGI, and many action sequences.  It mirrors our place in the big world.  Throw in a hero battling a giant spider with a nail for a sword and I’m sold.

Ant-Man is a rollercoaster ride.  All fun and not too serious like the steadfast captain America arguing with the cocky Tony Stark over the roll of the disinterested Bruce Banner that we all have now seen too many times on screen.  Paul Rudd’s heroic Scott Lang has one motivation, yet he lacks the typical superhero ingeniousness to accomplish his goal.  That element endears the character to everyone and is the gateway to an ensemble cast effort that pushes the story forward.  You just know Lang is like Rudd, that same guy we cheer along with at Kansas City Royals games.

Michael Douglas looking 25 years younger in Ant-Man

Equal to Rudd’s role is a surprisingly strong performance by Michael Douglas.  Looking like the twin of his father Kirk these days, as Dr. Hank Pym he anchors the film with gravitas.  His role in the story is substantial and should require sharing top billing as co-lead.  His work here rivals all his prior best work in The Game, The Ghost and the Darkness, The American President, Falling Down, Wall Street, Romancing the Stone, The China Syndrome, and Coma.  An Academy Award nod is warranted for both Douglas as well as the CGI team that provided the single best use of facial modification to replicate his younger self (done in part by firm Lola VFX who made skinny Steve Rogers in Captain America: The First Avenger).  Tron: Legacy made a good attempt at what Ant-Man has perfected in its opening scene–we’re now ready for an entire film using this approach, an entire film starring a 40-year-old Wall Street era Douglas, for example, relying on the acting prowess of the veteran actor today.

Lang and Pym Ant-man

Evangeline Lilly’s role as Pym’s daughter is secondary, yet her role supports enough of the backstory that it makes us anxious for Ant-Man 2, previewed in two of the film’s end-credit codas.  Michael Peña portrays what could be an over-used stock Latino criminal by bringing some humanity and humor to the role.  Even the villain, played by Law & Order: LA’s Corey Stoll, is interesting although more loathsome than needed for the part.

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Ant-Man Rudd

The next movie in Tier 2 of the Marvel Universe is coming our way and finally giving us all good reason to get excited with its latest trailer.  It’s Ant-Man.  Paul Rudd plays the irredeemable Ant-Man opposite Academy Award winner Michael Douglas and Lost and The Hobbit’s Evangeline Lilly.  Could it in be the next surprise hit–the next Guardians of the Galaxy?

After the first teasers (revealed earlier here) for the film we didn’t know what to think.  But after viewing this weekend’s new full-length preview, we’re thinking this tiny superhero may make for a solid summer blockbuster.  Just check out those action scenes with Ant-Man and Yellowjacket.

And the dialogue looks to be pretty smart and funny, too.

Yellowjacket b

After the break, check out the first full trailer for Ant-Man: 

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