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Tag Archive: Muppets


crystalskeksis

This year Funko ReAction proved it can create the ultimate mix of nostalgia and quality.  The toy line famous for bringing to fanboys and fangirls action figures that were never made when these modern classics played in theaters has released images of its sculpts and packaging for The Dark Crystal.  The first figures from the ultimate 1980s fantasy film reveal Funko’s ReAction division’s best work so far.

We first heard about the ReAction line working on a project to bring to the market a set of figures from The Dark Crystal here at borg.com way back in November 2013 when its first retro line-up hit the market, featuring characters from Alien.  Funko has come a long way and proven to be a toy industry driver, particularly with its other toy lines like Pop! and Dorbz figures.  The small yet surprisingly complete set from The Dark Crystal is reminiscent of the successful and similarly small set of Raiders of the Lost Ark figures from the early 1980s.  Kudos are owed to Nena Ijiomah, aka Queen of Gates on Tumblr, the Funko 3D sculptor who simply nailed these designs.  You really see the care that went into these figures from images of her original designs.

nena-ijiomah-sculpt-dark-crystal-funko   nena-ijiomah-at-funko-3d-sculpt

Jim Henson and Frank Oz, directing The Dark Crystal, along with Brian Froud’s Muppet creature creations, showed us a glimpse at what might have been had Henson lived out a longer life.  Each of Froud’s unique beings–from the cute and toothy Fizzgig to the beautiful Landstrider, the creepy Skeksis, the haunting Garthim, the solemn mystic Ursol, and heroic Jen and Kira–all receive a loyal and respectable re-creation in this series.  And each figure includes a piece of the purple crystal, so, as the Pokémon Go kids say “ya gotta catch ’em all.”

Two boxed sets are exclusives and not so easy to track down.  The rest can be pre-ordered now from Entertainment Earth by clicking on the images above and below (after the break).

crystalkira    crystaljen

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Kermit in A Muppet Christmas Carol

By Elizabeth C. Bunce

Audiences have loved Charles Dickens’s yuletide ghost story, A Christmas Carol, for 171 years, and it’s been committed to film at least 50 times.  It’s hard to dispute the status of 1951’s Scrooge starring Alastair Sim, or surpass Patrick Stewart’s masterly performance as the cruel miser in the 1999 television adaptation.   But for annual, feel-good holiday fun, our money is on The Muppet Christmas Carol.

Released in 1992 and representing the first of several retellings produced by the zany puppets & crew, The Muppet Christmas Carol also boasts a strong human cast.  Most notable, of course, is Michael Caine (Batman Begins, Get Carter) as Ebenezer Scrooge, in a turn that is just the right balance of humbug and humor.

Michael Caine as Ebenezer Scrooge

The Muppet version brings all the elements you expect from A Christmas Carol, from dead-as-a-doornail business partner Marley, to Tiny Tim asking God to bless us, everyone… but with wonderful Muppet twists.  All your favorite Muppets are here, as well, in their expected roles: Kermit the Frog as put-upon clerk Bob Cratchitt (with nephew Robin in the roll of Tim); Miss Piggy as Mrs. Cratchitt, naturally; and even 1990’s standard duo Gonzo and Rizzo, taking a meta-fiction approach as tour-guide-to-the-tale Charles Dickens and a skeptical sidekick.

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Muppets Most Wanted the band is Back

We previewed a teaser here at borg.com back in August for the next entry in the long line of movies featuring Jim Henson’s Muppets, titled Muppets Most Wanted.  Whether your favorite Muppet is Kermit, Fozzie, Miss Piggy, Gonzo, Rowlf, Animal, Bunsen, Beaker, Dr. Teeth, the members of the Electric Mayhem, Sam the Eagle, Statler, Waldorf, or Sweetums, it looks like there is something for everyone in this new heist movie in the spirit of The Great Muppet Caper, with new international previews just released.

Muppets Most Wanted and Gervais

Here is the new UK version of the trailer for Muppets Most Wanted:

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Muppets Most Wanted

Admit it, you know it’s true.  You really can’t go wrong with the Muppets and especially a new Muppet movie.  Back to the original The Muppet Movie in 1979, which included an all-star human cast of cameos along with the main Muppet players, to the 2011 rejuvenation of the Muppets on the big screen in The Muppets, the Muppets are all-around good fun.  In 2014 the next Muppet film will be released, Muppets Most Wanted, and “sequel” is the emphasis of this first trailer for the movie just released this past week.

And if you love the original The Muppet Movie as much as we do (it scored #3 on my all-time best fantasy movie list we discussed here at borg.com last year), then you’ll not want to miss your chance to get the pre-release discount of more than eight dollars for The Muppet Movie: The Nearly 35th Anniversary Edition at Amazon.com.  But act fast since the release date is August 13, 2013, so you have a day to get your order in.

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Radioactive girl in green hoodThe new TV series Defiance and Graceland have been using Imagine Dragons’ powerful hit song Radioactive as the background music for their promotions. Remember last year’s Phillip Phillips’ song Home during every sporting event, including a live performance at the Major League All Star Game, product ad placements, and even the U.S. Olympic women’s gymnastics team’s theme for two (long) weeks?  We think Radioactive is a far better tune, and it’s addictive.  It’s also been used to promote the movie The Host, for the video game Assassin’s Creed III, shows on the History channel, and the TV show Chicago Fire.

If you haven’t seen the video for the song, we’re posting it here because its depiction of a Muppet vs. Care Bear cage fighting death match can’t be beat.  That’s right, a Muppet (actually a Muppet lookalike) and a Care Bear.   And a haunting girl in a hood with the secret weapon.  That’s just… neat.

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Review by C.J. Bunce

You can be anything you want to be.

It’s a phrase I heard over and over growing up, and is probably the best thing you can share with someone, especially someone who dreams big.

Kevin Clash is one of those kids that dreamed big.  Kevin is the man, and the hand and voice (and heart and soul), behind Elmo, the ticklish red furry kid from Sesame Street that hit TVs and toy stores in a really big way more than a decade ago now.  A Special Jury Prize winner at the Sundance Film Festival last year, Being Elmo: A Puppeteer’s Journey, is a thoughtful, inspiring and poignant look into the desire, preparation, planning, practice, and work, creating the magic of puppets, and specifically one of the most successful members of the most famous bands of puppets ever–the Muppets.

The healing power of make-believe is revealed in a way that viewers probably have never had access to before.  Entertainment is often viewed by society as trivial.  The enormity of the value of making people laugh and teaching basic principles of kindness is palpable, and the eyes of the young and old as they watch Elmo and his puppeteer is pretty incredible.  Even with a man standing and obviously holding this red floppy fellow who is all smile and giggles, people ignore the man as if he is not there.  It’s truly a magician in action, but more than that this documentary reveals a creator who is clearly kind himself, clearly thoughtful and cognizant of the importance of what he is doing.  The gravity of this comes through with a visit from a young girl who is part of a Kids with a Wish experience.

What Clash does is make his work look so simple.  As another puppeteer in the film says, Clash makes a piece of fabric with a human head, react like a human being would.  Elmo became so big, yet only now do we learn all that went behind that fame, and that it was primarily the vision of one very busy man.  And it resulted in the highest paid puppeteer ever.

With numerous puppeteers and entertainers commenting on Clash’s work and personal traits, and narration by Whoopi Goldberg, a real-life “wizard behind the curtain” emerges.  We get to walk along with someone’s journey of discovery of a field we might not all have thought about, yet maybe secretly wish we know more about, and learn how you can grow up on Sesame Street, and dream about becoming a part of it, and making that dream come true.

Several themes permeate this documentary–the importance of shows like Sesame Street and Captain Kangaroo and public television to education and younger learning and personal growth for more than one generation, the value of mentoring and apprentice-type relationships, especially in ensuring the survival of more obscure forms of art, identifying the creative spark in someone and helping to encourage creative abilities, and the “blood, sweat, and tears” required to fulfill a dream.

Look also for Clash’s link to Jim Henson and The Dark Crystal and Labyrinth before he was 25 years old, and the iconic presence and impact of Jim Henson on him and others.  Not covered are the other things Clash has done, like serve as the voice of Splinter in the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles movie series, as well as several public appearances and puppet work.

I’ve heard of several friends who are struggling with their Netflix subscriptions because they are running out of things–it’s the old story of having 300 channels on cable with nothing to watch.   Being Elmo: A Puppeteer’s Journey is an example of something you might otherwise miss while trolling for something to watch, and it’s well worth your time.  Note that it’s not a documentary for kids–little ones should probably wait a bit before seeing that their furry TV friends are made with rods and have hands up their backs.

Yesterday was Earth Day, and I have never seen this much activity and opportunities to get involved.  Maybe more and more people are getting with “being Green.”  My local hardware store was giving away spruce tree saplings.  They only took ten minutes to plant.  I’ve done this at past homes I’ve lived in across the country and the result was tall, beautiful trees that still stand strong decades later, the giveaways part of the Arbor Day tree giveaway projects.  Arbor Day is April 27, only five days away, so you have plenty of time to get a new tree started in your yard.

The National Wildlife Federation sent around a link yesterday to a classic public service announcement from Earth Days past, which indicates we’re OK here with an observance of Earth Day the day after the fact, or, for that matter, any day after that.

It’s from the Muppets and its about being Green “before Green became the new black” as the fashionistas might say:

And while we’re looking back at retro PSAs from TV commercials past, check out this classic, with a certain ex-Replicant actress from Blade Runner:

Back in 1973 I would have had no idea who Joanna Cassidy was.  But they played this PCA years later and it definitely draws you in to think about good ol’ Smokey Bear and his message.  Smokey Bear was said to be the Ad Council’s longest running campaign, running from 1950 to the latest ad created in 2011 .  Even up until the late 1980s you could go to some park rangers across the U.S. and get a copy of this classic comic book from the 1960s:

It tells the real-life story of the American black bear that inspired the campaign.  And we can’t mention Smokey without Woodsy Owl:

All great messages, all using classic characters to try to get everyone to pay attention.  Consider planting a tree this Arbor Day!

C.J. Bunce

Editor

borg.com

Tonight dog lovers across the galaxy tune in to their screens for the annual Super Bowl of dogdom, the Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show.  Here at borg.com, this is serious TV viewing, and this year our thoughts naturally turned to… dogs in space.  Like Laika, the first dog in space who beat mankind into the outer realms, these dogs have gone… where no man has gone before.  So we bring you our very own contenders for Best in Show–our picks for best dogs from genre fiction in TV, movies, and comics (in no particular order).

1.  Toto – Who better to start our list than the little terrier feisty enough to take a bite out of Miss Gulch and accompany Dorothy on her journey down the yellow brick road in The Wizard of Oz?

2.  Einstein – Doc Brown’s faithful sheepdog companion, like Laika, was the first to make a historic voyage there and back again in a Delorean in Back to the Future.

3.  Fluffy – Two heads are better than one, so three must be exponentially better.  How can you not like this lovable cerberus from Harry Potter & the Sorceror’s Stone?  Just don’t let thieves know their secret, that music will lull them fast to sleep.

4.  Fang – Speaking of Harry Potter, we can’t pass up the loyal and large pal to Hagrid, Fang the boarhound (played by a Neapolitan Mastiff).  Although Hagrid calls him a bloody coward, in The Sorceror’s Stone he took Harry and company through the Forbidden Forest.

5.  Krypto – Strange how themes repeat themselves.  Originally, Krypto, like Laika and Einstein, was Jor-El’s first foray into creating a vehicle to get Kal-El (our Superman) off of the planet Krypton and on his path to Earth.  Although a mishap sends Krypto off-course, fortunately he makes his way back to his best friend.

6.  Porthos – We would later learn Porthos would have a pack of offspring of his own per Scotty in Star Trek 2009.  This fellow accompanied Captain Jonathan Archer on many a mission where no man had gone before in the earliest Star Trek stories on the series Enterprise.

7.  Astro – Maybe the first family dog we were introduced to in the future of our past, Astro loved Elroy, Judy, Jane and George Jetson and showed there are no bad dogs today and hundreds of years from now.

8.  Commander Kruge’s targ – We never learned her name, but this fiercely loyal friend helped make all of us cheer for Kruge when he went up against Admiral James T. Kirk in Star Trek: The Search for Spock.  Unfortunately, she represents the one four-legged companion on our list that doesn’t make it, thanks to that dastardly Kirk and friends.

9.  Fizzgig – Seemingly cute and innocent, Fizzgig is the Muppet companion to Kira in The Dark Crystal.  Like Kruge’s targ, although not technically Canis familiaris, he had all the qualities of a good buddy and did not hesitate to bear his fangs to protect Kira when he sensed danger.

10. Butler – James Kirk redeems himself in his last mission when he is sucked into the Nexus in Star Trek Generations.  His reaction to seeing his dog Butler at his old home shows there was a real guy in that Captain Kirk.

Honorable mention:  All greyhounds, since they look like AT-ATs from The Empire Strikes Back.

Do you have any others you think should make the list?  Let us know, and enjoy the Dog Show tonight! The 135th Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show airs tonight and Tuesday on USA and MSNBC. Only dogs from Earth are eligible.

C.J. Bunce

Editor

borg.com

Review by C.J. Bunce

With all the holiday movies hitting the theaters this season, there’s one that is sure to satisfy kids of all ages.  The Muppets premiered last week and that makes this the seventh film in the Muppet franchise, based on characters first created in the 1950s by the late Jim Henson.  Henson would no doubt be happy with the latest effort, a light-hearted and cheery, nostalgic mix of sillyness and a hard but subtle look at entertainment and society today.  It’s cute film, not as good as the original Muppet Movie oreven the novel adaptations A Muppet Christmas Carol or Muppet Treasure Island, but it’s worth seeing to find out what the Muppet crew has been up to and catch the cameos from a motley group of comedic actors.

You probably can’t find a sweeter couple than Gary and Mary played by Jason Segel (How I Met Your Mother) and Academy Award winning actress Amy Adams in the lead human roles of the movie.   Segel also serves as co-writer of the film.  You can tell Segel put a lot of love into this film, it is the ultimate film of shiny happy people niceness (think Brendan Fraser’s family in Blast from the Past).  Gary is brother to Walter, played by a new Muppet creation and addition to the Muppet universe.  Walter has been a fan of the Muppets his entire life, and his brother invites him along on his and Mary’s anniversary vacation to Los Angeles.  There they find the Muppet studio has become abandoned.  Walter overhears evil businessman Tex Richman, played by Academy Award winning actor Chris Cooper, plotting to destroy the studio to drill for oil.  Because of fine print in the “rich and famous” contract Kermit the Frog signed at the end of the original Muppet Movie, the contract is expiring in a few days and the Muppets will lose all the Muppet properties, including even their names, if they don’t raise $10 million to buy-out the contract.

Part of the movie becomes a play on The Blues Brothers, where the trio of Gary, Mary and Walter “put the band back together” to save an orphanage, a throwback to the plot of the original Muppet Movie.  You wish this part of the movie was longer and that they had spent more time fleshing out what the characters have been doing for the past several years since Muppets in Space, but the movie rushes through this bit.  They even joke about the quick montage, with a funny bit about Rowlf the dog.  The self references in the film actually become the funniest moments, and these bits of not taking itself too seriously nicely cut the overflow of frothy sappiness and nostalgia.

A key storyline is the triangle between Gary and Mary and Walter–Gary isn’t spending enough time with Mary–he can’t let go of his brother’s reliance on him as his brother becomes a full-fledged part of the Muppet family–and Mary has become a third wheel.  Finding out whether Gary is a Muppet or a man, and whether his brother Walter is a Muppet or a man, is the point of the whole film and the center of a good musical number.  Look for even more musical numbers here than any past Muppet film.

Each Muppet gets his own share of screen-time, too.  From a great throwback scene of giant Muppet Sweetums chasing after the Muppet entourage, to Fozzie having joined a Reno cover band of the Muppets called The Moopets, to successful Ms. Piggy leading up a magazine in Paris, to Gonzo the Great, now a plumbing company magnate who sounds and looks a bit like Al Pacino, to the best E Hollywood True Story type Where are they Now, that of Animal the drummer, who has been part of an anger management self-help group with sponsor Jack Black, who plays himself.  Jack Black’s unabashed throwing himself into this movie is one of its highlights, and he plays every scene for all its worth.

After literally playing sweetheart roles in Enchanted, Julie and Julia, Doubt, and now The Muppets, it will be nearly impossible to see Amy Adams as Lois Lane in the next Superman movie.  But acting is what actors do, so it will be fun to see her play tough and determined for once.  Segel couldn’t be better for his role as supportive brother and caring boyfriend, and if anything makes this movie work it is the believability and sincerity Segel radiates, like Will Farrell in Elf.

Although it will be lost to the kids in the audience, the adult themes of a world gone cynical, to predominantly reality TV shows and shock entertainment and a world in need of something to change it for the better is a powerful theme.  Chris Cooper’s villain being simply the embodiment of corporate greed as espoused via the current Occupy Wall Street movement makes the themes here particularly timely.  Although it’s way over the top, Cooper’s portrayal of the villain is as evil and sinister as past Disney hives of scum and villainy.

If there is one place the show is lacking it is big name cameos, considering that the original Muppet Movie had the icons of film, like Bob Hope, Milton Berle, Mel Brooks, Orson Welles, and James Coburn, and then new comic names like Steve Martin, Richard Pryor, Elliott Gould, Carol Kane and Madeline Kahn.  The latter category is covered with a handful of contemporary standup comics, yet the extra layer of big names is non-existent, except for two actors from classic Hollywood film.  When it used to be an indication of whether or not you were a big name or not based on whether you hosted the Muppet Show, you’d think you could get any number of volunteers for this kind of movie.  Consider the Muppet Show featured everyone from Julie Andrews, George Burns, Vincent Price, Elton John, Alice Cooper, Sylvester Stallone, Roy Rogers, Christopher Reeve, the cast of Star Wars, to Roger Moore–The Muppet Show was the ultimate bridging of all genres.  It begs the question:  Why not make a new Muppet Show work today?  They tried and had a short-lived series back in 1996-1998 with Muppets Tonight.  The difference today is that Disney now owns most of the Muppet properties, and with their various networks and influence and the marketing revenues from the characters that could come with this kind of show, this one is a no-brainer.

The cameos they did find are funny additions to the story.  Don’t go to this one looking for more than chuckles, although I heard kids and adults laughing out loud throughout the show in my theater.  This one was a nice break from the typical “family” film.

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