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Tag Archive: Michael Peña


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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rocket

Our annual “All the Movies You’ll Want to See…” series has been one of the most viewed of all of our entries at borg.com each year.  So this year we again scoured Hollywood and its publicity machine for as many genre films coming out in 2017 that have been disclosed.  The result is a whopping 58 movies, many you’ll probably want to see in the theater or catch on video (and some you may want to skip).  We bet you’ll find a bunch below you’ve never heard of.  Bookmark this now for your 2017 calendar!

Most coming out in the second half of 2017 don’t even have posters released yet.  We’ve included descriptions and key cast so you can start planning accordingly.

What do we think will be the biggest hits of the year?  How about Star Wars: Episode VIII or Wonder Woman?   Luc Besson’s Valerian and the City of 1,000 Planets?  Ghost in the Shell?  Or Beauty and the Beast? 

justice

You’ve heard endlessly about Logan and Justice League, but 2017 will also see numerous other sequels, like Alien: Covenant, Blade Runner 2049, Thor: Ragnarok, and sequels for Underworld, Resident Evil, Planet of the Apes, Pirates of the Caribbean, XXX, John Wick, King Kong, The Fast and the Furious, Cars, The Kingsman, Transformers, Despicable Me.   And The Six Billion Dollar Man is finally on its way.  Look for plenty of Dwayne Johnson, Tom Cruise, Vin Diesel, Ben Affleck, Samuel L. Jackson, Zoe Saldana, Hugh Jackman, John Goodman, Michael Peña, Ryan Reynolds, Sofia Boutella, and Elle Fanning in theaters this year.

So wait no further, here are your genre films for 2017:

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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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Tank in Fury

Not too long ago it would seem a decade would pass before someone was even remotely considering putting a big budget World War II movie on the screen.  Now they’re popping up pretty frequently.  Clint Eastwood’s Flags of Our Fathers and Letters from Iwo Jima in 2006, Bryan Singer’s Valkyrie in 2008, Quentin Tarentino’s Inglourious Basterds in 2009, George Lucas’s Red Tails in 2012, and we just reviewed George Clooney’s Monuments Men here, released in theaters earlier this year.  But movies about WWII tanks or tank battles?  With the importance of tanks as a tool of war in WWII you’d think we’d see more of these.  Although there are plenty of American films with scenes of tanks, is there any that would qualify as a great tank movie?

As movies with tanks go, the recommended viewing list we’ll offer up includes Kelly’s Heroes (with Clint Eastwood, Donald Sutherland and Telly Savalas), Back to Bataan (with John Wayne), The Guns of Navarone (with Gregory Peck, Anthony Quinn, and David Niven), and Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade has a great tank scene with Indy (and the film takes place in 1938 so we think that counts).  Now Brad Pitt is taking another crack at WWII following up his superb performance as a soldier in Inglourious Basterds, with the David Ayer film Fury.

Brad Pitt in Fury

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