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Tag Archive: Mr Robot


Review by C.J. Bunce

Everything’s connected.  Everything’s vulnerable.

The visionary behind the groundbreaking 1997 science fiction film Gattaca has at last delivered his next worthy sci-fi follow-up.  The direct-to-Netflix movie Anon is equal parts future crime and noir detective thriller.  It stars Clive Owen (Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets, Children of Men, Sin City) and Colm Feore (Thor, The Chronicles of Riddick, Paycheck) as police detectives in a near-future Earth where smart phone and computer technology has merged with the mind.  Technology and science have evolved to allow humans to instantly identify and search their minds and a database shared with everyone as they move through their day–as if Google Glass tech was inside a contact lens wired to the brain.  Written, produced, and directed by Andrew Niccol, writer/director of Gattaca and writer of The Truman Show, Anon features a police detective nicely synthesizing Rick Deckard, Frank Bullitt, and Dirty Harry Callahan.  Only an actor as unique as Clive Owen could pull that off.

With a world similar to Gattaca–but a colder, stark, and concrete-filled version of a rigid, totalitarian future close to that of the Prime side in the world of the Starz series Counterpart–telling lies has become a thing of the past.  The detectives must track down an unidentifiable woman, the anonymous hacker of the title played by Amanda Seyfried (Veronica Mars, Ted 2, Mamma Mia!), sought as the criminal behind a string of murders.  This hacker can erase memories and replace real thoughts with replaced images, and we see the best example of this as Owen’s detective pursues the hacker in a busy subway.  Oddly, this dystopia doesn’t feel as horrible as that of Mad Max: Fury Road, or Blade Runner, or Terminator.  It’s just not that far removed from the wired life of today.  Which should be enough of a cautionary warning.

Stark but slick and cool like The Adjustment Bureau, not only the visuals of Anon but the music is haunting and cold, thanks to an inspired score from Christophe Beck (Ant-Man, Edge of Tomorrow, Buffy the Vampire Slayer).  Surreal camera angles and the use of shadow firmly plant the audience in this future thanks to cinematographer Amir Mokri, and you can credit production designer Philip Ivey (District 9, Elysium) and art director Aleksandra Marinkovich (Crimson Peak, Kick-Ass 2, Total Recall) for a stunning, new vision that leaves behind tech noir for something fresh and different.

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Fans of the television series 24 and Mr. ROBOT should check out a new series from Image Comics/Top Cow now available at newsstands: Samaritan: Veritas.  Written by Matt Hawkins with artwork by Atilio Rojo, readers are taken into a modern world of high-tech hacking and espionage.  A woman with a vendetta is about to get revenge by taking down the top tiers of government and the most successful company in the world.  Think Absolute Power (Clint Eastwood’s 1997 film about scandal in Washington) meets Tom Clancy’s Clear and Present Danger and you’ll have a taste of the action and excitement of this new series.

Samaritan: Veritas is a good jumping-on point for Hawkins’ Edenverse series, requiring no prior knowledge of the prior books to get onboard.  As with Hawkins’ earlier works, Samantha Copeland is the protagonist, this time dead set to take down the man who killed her lover.  Hawkins pulls together characters with unclear agendas, taking readers through a shadow world of the “dark web” and underground networks as Copeland formulates her strategy.

Copeland is a tough female lead in the latest twist on a Robin Hood story, much like season one of Mr. ROBOT.  You’ll find some edgy tension and thrilling situations, thanks in part to some great environments and sequences by artist Atilio Rojo, who also supplied his own color work.

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orphan-black

Even more so than the annual Academy Awards for achievements in film, the Primetime Emmy Awards seem to either award the same thing every year or never get around to awarding series, actors, and creative voices that really push the bounds of the ordinary.  Is that a generalization ripe for argument?  Of course.  But when you watch as much television as we do here at borg.com, at some point years ago we just turned off the TV award shows and never looked back.

So what changed this year?  Tatiana Maslany won best actress in a drama for Orphan Black.  Rami Malek won best actor in a drama for Mr. Robot.  Louie Anderson won best supporting actor for Baskets.  And the special Sherlock–The Abominable Bride won for best TV movie.  So what poles shifted?  What constellations re-aligned?  What does that mean if our own best picks align with Emmy voters?  Are we finally “in-touch”?

louie-anderson-baskets

Take Tatiana Maslany, a top borg.com pick three years in a row for best actress in television (or any other medium).  Not to slight her wonderful supporting cast, but she’s practically a one-woman show, playing a half a dozen characters each season–and seven this year in her fourth season playing clone sestra–meaning every scene is critical and must reflect Maslany’s work–and viewer believability–as a completely different person.  She never gets the luxury of “phoning in” a performance.  The result is top-notch television, and the best acting and toughest role we’ve ever seen, executed with mastery.  Go Clone Club!

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Malek Robot

USA Network’s groundbreaking television series Mr. ROBOT returned this week and proved that Season 1.0 wasn’t just a chance encounter.  The hacktivist series Season 2.0 opener arrived just as the show and lead actor Rami Malek received Emmy nominations for last year’s efforts.  Every bit as compelling as what we liked best about its freshman season, Mr. ROBOT still has it all–intrigue, paranoia, and real-world parallels that should glue all of us to our TVs for another round of drama.  And bewilderment.

Season 1.0 had a few slips with episodes and subplots, reminding us it’s not easy to maintain excellence with a program so esoteric in its direction and plotting.  So beginning the season with a strong, fresh, and still unnerving first of a two-part story arc, titled “Unmask,” is something of a relief.  The show is still jarring in its intentional lack of clarity and slow reveal of what is happening next, yet it’s in part why we keep coming back for more.

The high point makes the viewer want to go back and re-watch all of Season 1.0 to answer the question:  Have we ever seen Malek’s character Elliot actually smile or really laugh?  It’s such a rarity that it seems even Elliot’s own hallucination of his father (Christian Slater) is suddenly hesitant and fearful of him when Elliot bursts into some maniacal hysteria.  Credit goes to showrunner Sam Esmail for revisiting all the series leads in a new way as we wonder what ever happened to Tyrell Wellick (Martin Wallström).

MR. ROBOT -- "eps2.0_unmasking.zip" Episode 201 -- Pictured: (l-r) Craig Robinson as Ray, Rami Malek as Eliot Alderson -- (Photo by: Michael Parmelee/USA Network)

Carly Chaikin’s Darlene, Elliot’s sister, is more confident this year, showing what a female Elliot may look like if he ever was able to take control of his psyche.  Will she ultimately be the one to take down E Corp?

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Mr robot

’round and ’round we go…

Last year television viewers were saying domo arigato to USA Network’s new series Mr. ROBOT, a new show providing a strange, mind-blowing look into the world of a subversive malcontent in the age of high-tech gadgets and shadowy subculture.  With top-notch, successful series like Monk, Psych, Burn Notice, and White Collar under its belt, USA Network proved it had another winner on its hands, and that you don’t have to be HBO or Showtime to produce compelling television.  An intense, psychological thrill ride, Mr. ROBOT was the cream of the crop in a season of new series including CW Network’s Stitchers, ABC’s The Whispers, Syfy’s Killjoys, Dark Matter, and The Expanse, TNT’s Proof, AMC’s Humans, Netflix’s Between and BBC America’s Orphan Black, CW’s iZombie, and Fox’s Wayward Pines.  Mr. ROBOT is back this summer and we have the first preview of what promises to be an exciting second season.

Rami Malek (Night at the Museum, Medium, 24, Battleship, The Legend of Korra), returns as Elliot, a tech for a cyber-security consulting firm, a drug addict, a loner, a genius.  But what is he really, and will we learn anything true about him this season?  Is he Hero, Villain, Vigilante, Cyber-terrorist, or something of each? Will that dark and gritty, fourth-wall breaking Ferris Bueller-style continue?

Malek Robot

Check out this preview for Season 2.0 of Mr. ROBOT:

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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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Nerd HQ 2015 Mr ROBOT

Bummed that you’re not getting your convention fix this weekend because you’re not in San Diego?  Never fear, you can watch the weekend’s panels happening across the street from San Diego Comic-Con at the Nerd HQ event online now.  Just pull-up your GoogleTV or YouTube app and check out the links below.

Streaming runs live through Sunday, but we expect these to be available on YouTube as with prior years.  Here is the line-up for each day:

Thursday, July 9 – Day One

10am: ZACHARY LEVI

12pm: BATTLEBOTS – Alison Haislip, Jessica Chabot, Donald Hutson, Peter Abrahamson, Greg Munson, Matt Maxham, and Chris Cowan

1pm: DEAD RISING – Jesse Metcalfe, Dennis Haysbert, Zach Lipovsky (director), and guests

2:15pm: WILLIAM SHATNER

3:30pm: YVONNE STRAHOVSKI

5pm:  HITMAN: AGENT 47 – Rupert Friend and Hannah Ware

6:30pm  SUPERMANSION – Bryan Cranston, Seth Green, Matt Senreich, Zeb Wells, Heidi Gardner, Tucker Gilmore, and Tom Root

7:30pm  JULIE PLEC, GABE SACHS and Friends

8:30pm  LAST SHIP

Firefly Nerd HQ 2015

Friday, July 10 – Day Two

10am: SHERLOCK – Steven Moffat, Sue Vertue, Rupert Graves

11am: THE VISIT – M. Night Shyamalan, Jason Blum

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Mr Robot

Review by C.J. Bunce

The term “mind-blowing” is one of the most over-used phrases on the Web.  In truth, I am not sure I have ever seen anything I would call mind-blowing.  Yet if something were to come close, it may be the pilot to USA Network’s new intense, psychological thrill ride, Mr. Robot.  Although I haven’t seen roughly half of the pilots for the new series hitting the small screen this summer, of what I’ve seen this will top the watch list.  That’s saying a lot considering the eight other new sci-fi series I previewed here at borg.com this past week: CW Network’s Stitchers, ABC’s The Whispers, Syfy’s Killjoys, Dark Matter, and The Expanse, TNT’s Proof, AMC’s Humans, and Netflix’s Between And don’t forget about BBC America’s Orphan Black, CW’s iZombie, and Fox’s Wayward Pines, sci-fi series already airing.  Never before have viewers had more new sci-fi options on TV to choose from.

With top-notch, successful series like Monk, Psych, Burn Notice, and White Collar under its belt, USA Network may have another winner on its hands, and prove once and for all you don’t have to be HBO or Showtime to produce compelling television.

Rami Malek (Night at the Museum, Medium, 24, Battleship, The Legend of Korra), stars as Elliot, a tech for a cyber-security consulting firm, a drug addict, a loner, a genius.  I suspect we’re not supposed to know yet what he truly is:  Hero, Villain, Vigilante, Cyber-terrorist, or something of each.  He suffers from depression and possibly schizophrenia, he makes bad personal decisions, and his political views and odd mannerisms fuel his paranoia.  Paranoia, suggesting someone is always watching, as he roams, cloaked under his hood, wandering the streets of New York City.  Is any of this real, or it it all in his head?  Will we ever know?  Is Mr. Robot even sci-fi as the title would suggest, or a strange fantasy, or supernatural, or something entirely different?  Filmed like a modern but dark and gritty, fourth-wall breaking Ferris Bueller and emitting the uneasy dread of an updated WarGamesMr. Robot faces current social issues head on (and even the wall-breaking may not be real, and only something in Elliot’s mind).  We last saw a show take on similar subversive themes in the excellent Syfy series Continuum.

Christian Slater Mr Robot

With single-camera cinematography by Tim Ives, creator/writer Sam Esmail reaches right into our world of social networking and power in the hands of an elite group of decision makers and plunges the viewer into Elliot’s personal fears.  Something almost painterly goes into each shot, often surreal like a Wes Anderson movie, yet the stylishness never slows down the pace of the action.  In one set of scenes, an approaching Ferris wheel car off-camera appears to jar the actors and us out of our seats and keep us on our toes–twice.  Elliot is unaffected.

Malek gives us a character first unlikable–his world is disturbing and ugly, yet this anti-hero quickly grows on you to be somehow sympathetic, his dodgy eyes, uneasiness, and jittery mannerisms will keep you on edge for the entire hour.  The pilot may be the best pilot we’ve seen since the premiere of Lost.  Rounding out the experience, like John Carpenter would use to support his own thriller, Mac Quayle (American Horror Story) provides an intense, thumping, almost Daft Punk-inspired soundtrack that speeds the narrative along. 

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Jason Isaacs in Dig USA Network

Will USA Network ever be able to fill the void left by such stellar series as Burn Notice, Psych, White Collar, Fairly Legal, Monk, and In Plain Sight?  Each of these shows was just plain top-notch TV.  Coming in March, USA Network is giving it a good effort by featuring Jason Isaacs in Dig.

Dig comes with some great street cred: Homeland executive producer Gideon Raff and Heroes creator Tim Kring have put together a murder mystery and action-thriller.  Isaacs will play an FBI agent, and Anne Heche will co-star as his boss.  Isaacs has proven to be TV’s Bruce Willis–he’s nailed the embattled action hero time and time again on series like BBC’s Case Histories and NBC’s Awake.  Most probably know him as Lucius Malfoy from Harry Potter, plus roles in dozens of other films.

Dig - Season 1

After the break, check out the preview for Dig from USA Network, and more on other series coming soon from USA:

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