Tag Archive: Michael Peña


Fantasies rarely play out as you would expect.  — Mr. Roarke

You could have guessed from the trailers that Blumhouse’s Fantasy Island would cross the original 1977-1984 series with Black Mirror, but could you have guessed it’s also a sort of mash-up with The Dark Crystal and The Hobbit?  Bloodshot, Kick-Ass 2, and Bates Motel writer Jeff Wadlow directs an unexpected twist on the original series, proving such a reboot that respects the source material and takes advantage of a big movie budget can be successful, even without original show staples like Ricardo Montalban and Hervé Villechaize.  One of the stronger attempts and biggest successes at remaking a classic TV series, Fantasy Island is now streaming on Starz and other platforms.

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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 all comes down to a single maxim:  Be careful what you wish for.

As often as not, in Fantasy Island’s seven seasons and 152 episodes, audiences never could be quite sure what Ricardo Montalban’s exotic island host Mr. Roarke was up to in his attempts to fulfill the desires of his exclusive guests on the remote Fantasy Island.  Sometimes that meant taking guests back to relive their worst nightmares.  So now that horror film company Blumhouse has their mitts on the franchise, it’s anyone’s guess what is in store.  At a minimum, the trailer for the new movie Fantasy Island looks like an easy to cultivate new horror franchise.  The horror movie industry has demonstrated the darker the franchise, the more big money it makes.  But for every The Conjuring, Saw, Paranormal Activity, Halloween, The Ring, Friday the 13th, or Nightmare on Elm Street series of movies, there’s the nearly successful horror sub-genre that includes a little less dark takes, more often with laughs, like Scream, Scary Movie, Final Destination, I Know What You Did Last Summer, and Happy Death Day.  Where will the victims, er, guests of Fantasy Island land?

Michael Peña (Ant Man) steps into the shoes of Montalban as Mr. Roarke.  Don’t look for the sidekick character Tattoo in this reboot–that role seems to have gone to Parisa Fitz-Henley (Luke Cage) as Julia.  Jeff Wadlow, Kick-Ass 2 director, and producer of The Strain and Bates Motel, is directing the picture, billed as a comedy/horror/mystery (putting it in the Scream camp?).  Other cast includes Lucy Hale (Katy Keene, Bionic Woman, Scream 4), Maggie Q (Nikita), Portia Doubleday (Carrie, Mr. ROBOT), Ryan Hansen (Veronica Mars), Charlotte McKinney (Flatliners, Baywatch), and Austin Stowell (Colossal). Michael Rooker (Guardians of the Galaxy, Eight Men Out, Tombstone) is said to be in this, too, but isn’t in the first trailer.

Here’s the first trailer for Fantasy Island:

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borg Hall of Fame 2018

It’s been another long year of great entertainment.  Before we wrap our coverage of 2018, it’s time for the sixth annual round of new honorees for the borg Hall of Fame.  We have plenty of honorees from 2018 films and television, plus many from past years, and a peek at some from the future – 40 in all.  You can always check out the updated borg Hall of Fame on our home page under “Know your borg.”

Some reminders about criteria.  Borgs have technology integrated with biology.  Wearing a technology-powered suit alone doesn’t qualify a new member.  Tony Stark aka Iron Man was an inaugural honoree because the Arc Reactor kept him alive.  The new Spider-Man suit worn by Tom Holland is similar to Tony’s, but as far as we can tell it’s not integrated with Peter Parker’s biology.  Similarly Peni Parker, seen outside her high-tech SP//dr suit in Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse, and Black Manta from Aquaman (and decades of comics before), seem to be merely wearing tech suits.  We’d love a reason for a Mandalorian to make the cut, like Boba Fett, or Jango Fett, since nobody has more intriguing armor.  Maybe Jon Favreau’s new television series will give us something new to ponder next year.

Also, if the creators tell us the characters are merely robots, automatons, or androids, we take their word for it.  Westworld continues to define its own characters as androids (like Star Trek: The Next Generation’s Lt. Commander Data throughout the TV series), and not cyborgs (going back to Michael Crichton’s original story), so we continue this year to hold off on their admittance unless something changes, like the incorporation of living biological (blood, cells, etc.) materials.  Are we closing in on admitting individuals solely based on a breathing apparatus that may allow them to breathe to in non-native atmospheres?  Only if integrated (surgically).  Darth Vader has more borg parts than his breathing filter.  We assume new honoree Saw Gerrera does as well.  With more biological enhancements we’d allow Tusken Raiders, Moloch, and Two Tubes from the Star Wars universe, and Mordock the Benzite from Star Trek, but wouldn’t that also mean anyone in a deep sea suit or space suit is a cyborg?  Again, integration is key.  Ready Player One has humans interacting with a cyber-world with virtual reality goggles and other equipment, but like the Programs (as opposed to the Users) in the movie Tron, this doesn’t qualify as borg either, but we’re making an exception this year for the in-world Aech, who is a cyborg orc character, and two Tron universe characters.

Already admitted in 2017 were advance honorees that didn’t actually make it to the screen until 2018.  This included Josh Brolin’s new take on Cable in Deadpool 2 and Simone Missick’s Misty Knight after her acquisition of a borg arm in Marvel’s Luke Cage.  New versions of Robotman and Cyborg are coming in 2019 in the Doom Patrol series, but they are already members of the revered Hall of Fame.  Above are the new looks for these two earlier honorees.

So who’s in for 2018?

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Review by C.J. Bunce

The latest big-budget movie that has arrived at Netflix could have been on par with prior Netflix movies The Cloverfield Paradox or Bright.  These are science fiction movies that have something to offer viewers, yet they probably would disappoint most if you paid to see them in the theater.  As much as the marketing for these Netflix films is trying to convince subscribers these are the “real deal,” the new sci-fi movie Extinction brings the discussion home again.  The Cloverfield Paradox had a broad, fairly well-known cast and significant production values.  Bright relied on the charisma of star Will Smith with a solid performance from Joel Edgerton working through some hefty prosthetic make-up.  So they had that minimum quality for first-out-of-the gate films for newcomer movie house Netflix.  But despite the well-known genre star cast of Extinction, the latest Netflix sci-fi movie just isn’t strong enough.  Remember the rack of B-movie sci-fi films at the old movie rental stores?  Sadly, that’s where this one would have been filed.

Michael Peña plays the father of two girls in a future Earth.  He’s having problems dealing with violent nightmares that are too real to merely be in his mind.  His wife, played by Lizzy Caplan, and their friends, all think he’s crazy.  When an invasion on par with War of the Worlds arrives in the middle of a dinner party, the father attempts to use the bits he can recall from the dreams to keep his kids and wife alive, and try to understand the menace approaching from the skies.  Peña and Caplan are not given enough to do, not enough to make us want to cheer them on, as director Ben Young drags the audience through very carefully selected architectural layouts, platforms, pathways, futuristic buildings, all slowly panning and following people walking, doing mundane things that people do.  For an entire hour nothing happens.  Luke Cage’s Mike Colter plays Peña’s boss, and when hell breaks loose you get the feeling that roles once owned by Keith David can now be handed over to Colter, as Colter becomes that take-charge leader.   But his scenes are few.  The standout performance in the film is by British actor Lex Shrapnel (K:19: The Widowmaker, Captain America: The First Avenger) who steps in to assist the family after the first barrage.  His performance brings some much-needed life, albeit too late.  But the actors just aren’t enough to save the film.

You can’t blame the cast for this one.  The slogging story doesn’t gain any momentum until the last 30 minutes, and then it must rely on a gotcha to even get viewers’ attention to stay around for the last act.  The film probably suffers from a young director and an unsalvageable script by the Oscar-nominated writer of the similarly thin and derivative screenplay for Arrival, Eric Heisserer, among others.  And it lacks a much-needed sci-fi or action flick musical score–the one thing that might have given some energy or passion to the first hour (The Nelson Brothers are listed as composers, but someone must have edited out most of their music).  At only an hour and 35 minutes, the movie drags to feel like a full 2 hours, yet the thin story could have been told in a 20 minute episode of a show like Black Mirror.  Worst of all, Extinction is devoid of any humor–an essential element of the best tense sci-fi action thrillers.

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With $2 billion put toward new content, a record stock price, and critical acclaim–this year it leads the Emmy count with 112 nominations–Netflix now dominates television.  In addition to the great new series and its catalog of films, you can’t deny the satisfaction of avoiding theater crowds to watch first-run, cinema-worthy films streaming directly to your living room.  Because the low monthly fee is already locked in, Netflix stands right there with cable TV (whether served via coax, wireless, or your old home phone line), with the largest volume of content up against those hundreds of channels it competes against.  So even if each new first-run movie on Netflix isn’t the next Oscar winner (yet–see Emmy reference above) or even the next pop hit like Avengers: Infinity War, for what feels to many like “practically free new movies,” it’s easy to give the next Netflix movie a try.  So far we’ve liked War Machine, Cloverfield Paradox, and even the strange mash-up Bright.  The next film in the sci-fi variety has the cast and an interesting trailer to make giving it a try a no-brainer.

The movie is director Ben Young’s Extinction.  Normally a plot like this might be the stuff of merely passable made-for-TV movie fare, but now is the perfect time for Michael Peña to be the lead in his own action film, right when audiences are still excited about his great work in Ant-Man and The Wasp.  He’s a future Earth everyman, only in a very Philip K. Dick twist he’s having nightmares that he believes to be premonitions of a dire future.  We get to see Luke Cage himself, Mike Colter, co-starring outside the larger-than-life superhero realm along with Lizzy Caplan, known for her roles in Cloverfield, Tru Calling, Now You See Me 2, Orange County, and Freaks and Geeks.

We always have room for another alien invasion flick, and the method of arrival in the first trailer for the film seems similar at first blush to the falling-from-the-sky visitors in Attack the Block.  But these visitors appear to be the bipedal variety of sci-fi alien.  Whatever else there is to learn we’ll need to wait to find out in the movie.

Check out the trailer for Extinction:

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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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ninjago-movie

Today and this weekend millions of moviegoers will flock to theaters to see what could be the biggest selling Batman movie so far: The LEGO Batman Movie.  A spoof of Batman set in the world of the famous building blocks, it’s the kind of film that will appeal to multiple demographics:  little kids, big kids, and adults young and old.  After the downer that was Batman vs Superman: Dawn of Justice, batfans are ready for fun over dreary.  If you missed the great trailers for The LEGO Batman Movie, check them out now here.

As we learned in the awesomely brilliant, funny, and clever original LEGO film The LEGO Movie: “everything is awesome when you’re part of a team.”  And that motto holds up in the next LEGO movie coming in 2017, The LEGO Ninjago Movie. 

What is LEGO Ninjago?

LEGO Ninjago is a LEGO building block series of more than 100 sets that began in 2010. A tie-in television series began in 2012, with a story centering on four Ninja, each with its own elemental dragon: Kai (Master of Fire), Jay (Master of Lightning), Cole (Master of Earth), and Zane (Master of Ice).  Sounding a bit similar to Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, they are brought together as a team by Sensei Wu to defeat the evil Lord Garmadon.

ninjago-flick

Tron: Uprising producer Charlie Bean is directing the The LEGO Ninjago Movie, which is written by Dan and Kevin Hageman, writers of The LEGO Movie and LEGO Ninjago: Masters of Spinjitsu.  The movie stars some well-known genre favorites voicing the roles from the toy backstory: Jackie Chan as Master Wu, Dave Franco as Lloyd, Olivia Munn as Koko, Fred Armisen as Cole, Justin Theroux as Garmadon, Abbi Jacobson as Nya, Kumail Nanjiani as Jay, Zach Woods as Zane, and Michael Peña as Kai.

Here is the first trailer for The LEGO Ninjago Movie:

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pena-shepard Warner Bros. has finally released the first trailer to the comedy reboot of the classic 1977-1983 television series CHiPs.  The original drama series, starring the suave Erik Estrada and Larry Wilcox as California Highway Patrol officers Ponch and Jon, didn’t have the comedy you’re going to see in this reboot.  No, this is an all-out, Rated R, Deadpool-level humor comedy.  Think the movie remake of 21 Jump Street and you’ll get the vibe.

And it’s so, so wrong.

But it also looks like it could be pretty funny, if you’re not bothered by wall-to-wall crotch jokes.  The big win is Ant-Man’s Michael Peña as an undercover FBI agent pretending to be Ponch.  Hollywood is finally recognizing Peña as a charismatic rising star.  Comedic actor Dax Shepard is Jon, and real-life wife Kristen Bell (Veronica Mars) also plays his wife in CHiPs.  The couple is most recognizable these days from their long-running series of Samsung appliance commercials.  Shepard wrote and directed the movie.

chips-poster

The film is peppered with actors you might find in serious police procedurals, which should lend something weighty to the humor.  They include Isiah Whitlock, Jr. (Law & Order, The Wire), Vincent D’Onofrio (Emerald City, Law & Order: Criminal Intent, Men in Black), Richard T. Jones (Judging Amy, Godzilla, Super 8, Hot Pursuit), Wilmer Valderrama (Awake, That ’70s Show), and Jane Kaczmarek (St. Elsewhere, Law & Order).

Check out this first trailer for Dax Shepard’s CHiPs:

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