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Tag Archive: Oscar Isaac


Following up on last year’s successful Black Series Imperial Stormtrooper Electronic Voice Changer Helmet from Rogue One: A Star Wars Story and the Black Series Kylo Ren Voice Changer Helmet from Star Wars: The Force Awakens is the new September release of the Black Series Poe Dameron Electronic Helmet.  A screen accurate helmet at a price point of about $80?  That’s an amazing find.  Even a dedicated fan with skills could hardly build a replica helmet for so little.  The Black Series Poe Dameron Electronic Helmet hit stores across the country–as well as internationally–Friday as part of Disney’s unprecedented Force Friday II marketing push.  And we thought Disney came up with an enormous volume of tie-ins for the first Force Friday!  This helmet emerges as a leading contender in a field of some impressive action figures, household items, games, and toys.

A replica of Oscar Isaac’s X-Wing pilot helmet from the current trilogy era of the Star Wars universe features a surround sound speaker system that produces for the wearer clear and clean X-Wing and TIE fighter communication sounds, plus familiar beeps from Dameron’s trusty droid sidekick BB-8.  What hasn’t been touted–but should be–is the care given to the interior, which rivals even studio built props in design and comfort, featuring quality-designed ear muffs and soft finished edges.  Ultimately the new helmet may be a strong competitor with Anovos’s high-end $200-$665 range replica helmet series (both series are licensed replicas, with Anovos’s typically cornering the higher end of the market quality and price-wise).  Is it screen-accurate?  It’s close, and those wanting to go further could make upgrades on their own.  Is it collector grade?  Sure, and it displays quite well.

Details include scuff/wear built into its design.  At three pounds it’s built sturdy, but light enough to remain comfortable, making it a good option for cosplayers.  A retractable polarizing visor provides a classic nostalgic feel and the adjustable inner helmet padding further helps the wearer feel right at home.  All you need is a flight suit (and maybe an X-Wing fighter).

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x-men-apocalypse-quicksilver-rescue-scene

Superheroes in movies and television.  It’s the entertainment explosion of the past ten years, beginning with Jon Favreau’s Iron Man in 2008.  Yet after only ten years, after so many Marvel lookalikes and too many dark Dark Knights, what superhero shows rise above the rest?  All fanboys and fangirls have an opinion.  The best part is that there truly is something for everyone.  Maybe you like Netflix’s cool and gritty Luke Cage.  Or maybe the CW parade of DC series is your thing.  If you’re like us, you love Ant Man and Guardians of the Galaxy over all the Marvel and DC team-up movies.  Maybe you like it all.  Director Bryan Singer created another X-Men entry that was released last summer, overlooked by many, but a solid entry in the X-Men cinema archive: X-Men: Apocalypse.  It’s streaming now on Amazon Prime, and it’s not to be missed, especially for Logan fans collecting all of Hugh Jackman’s Wolverine appearances and everyone looking for a great superhero assemblage.

How often do superhero movies, or any other drama, sci-fi, fantasy, or action franchise movie, threaten stakes as great as the end of the world?  How many actually take you through an apocalypse?  X-Men: Apocalypse delivers the rampage and destruction you read about as a kid inside the pages of Marvel Super Heroes Secret Wars.  If you enjoy seeing great superhero powers on the big screen, as with X-Men: Days of Future Past, Evan Peters’ Quicksilver remains the defending champion.  He gets even more character development and screen time in X-Men: Apocalypse.

X-men plane

As kids we debated over what power would allow you to triumph over your superhero peers, and Singer must have done the same thing and landed with the same answer.  Speed.  Despite giving us the best superhero TV series of the 1980s and today with its two looks at Barry Allen/The Flash, DC Entertainment has not yet shown us all a speedster could do.  Will that happen in Justice League this year?  Any speedster work will be compared to Quicksilver.  Until that film hits theaters, X-Men: Apocalypse is worth a second look for Quicksilver’s big scene alone.  But there’s more.

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x-men-apocalypse-quicksilver-rescue-scene

Amid all the chaos and bombardment of superhero movies in the theaters these days, it’s often difficult to separate the wheat from the chaff.  Not so long ago if someone asked about your favorite superhero movie you’d probably name it without hesitation.  These days?  You probably will need to mull it over in light of so many quality films.  Of the classic films I would have named Christopher Reeves’ Superman.  Of the Marvel Cinematic Universe I once would have named the first Iron Man.  Then after many Marvel lookalikes and too many dark Dark Knights, the three that rise to the top are Guardians of the Galaxy, Ant-Man, and X-Men: Days of Future Past.  Then Bryan Singer created another X-Men entry released this summer and I’m hedging again.  X-Men: Apocalypse, still in theaters, is exactly the movie I dreamed of when I was a kid reading comic books.

How often do superhero movies, or any other drama, sci-fi, fantasy, or action franchise movie, threaten stakes as great as the end of the world?  How many actually take you through an apocalypse?  X-Men: Apocalypse delivers the rampage and destruction I read as a kid inside the pages of Marvel Super Heroes Secret Wars.  I was never an X-Men fan before X-Men: Days of Future Past and Jason Aaron’s Wolverine and the X-Men monthly series, so I haven’t followed the ins and outs of the team for decades to know whether the movies are “loyal” enough for diehard readers.  But I do know what great superhero powers look like on the big screen, and as with X-Men: Days of Future Past, Evan Peters’ Quicksilver remains the best realized superhero on-screen.

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As kids we debated over what power would allow you to triumph over your superhero peers, and Singer must have done the same thing and landed with the same answer.  Speed.  Despite giving us the best superhero TV series of the 1980s and today with its two looks at Barry Allen/The Flash, DC Entertainment has not yet shown us all a speedster could do.  Will that happen in Justice League next year?  Until then, X-Men: Apocalypse is worth a first or second look for Quicksilver’s big scene.  And more.

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Quicksilver X-men Apocalypse

One of the best directors of his generation, Bryan Singer teased us in 2014 with the year’s best superhero movie, X-Men: Days of Future Past.  He teased us by showing us Quicksilver, the young speedy mutant, but only for a small portion of the film.  Played by Evan Peters, the scene where he breaks Michael Fassbender’s Magneto out of a Pentagon prison is the single best transformation of a superhero from comic book to screen.  His disarming of guards in slow motion to the tune of Jim Croce’s “Time in a Bottle” is now the stuff of legendary cinema, and that just left fans begging for more.

And it looks like Singer is going to deliver what X-Men fans want the most: More Quicksilver.

Beast and Quicksilver

Star Wars: The Force Awakens’ Oscar Isaac is Apocalypse, the original mutant the film’s (and the Marvel Comics Universe’s) biggest modern villain.  Rounding out the cast are actors both old and new to the franchise: James McAvoy as Professor X, Jennifer Lawrence as Mystique, Nicholas Hoult as Beast, Sophie Turner as Jean Grey, Tye Sheridan as Cyclops, and Kodi Smit-McPhee as Nightcrawler.

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Magneto

Bryan Singer’s next X-Men movie keeps looking better and better.  20th Century Fox released this new poster for this summer’s superhero release, X-Men: Apocalypse, honing in on Oscar Isaac’s villain Apocalypse.  He is watching over his henchmen in the form of Michael Fassbender returning as Magneto, and newcomers Olivia Munn as Psylocke, Ben Hardy as Archangel, and Alexandra Shipp as Storm.

Other actors old and new for the next mutant bash are James McAvoy as Professor X, Jennifer Lawrence as Mystique, Nicholas Hoult as Beast), Evan Peters as Quicksilver (the best speedster to ever appear on film), Sophie Turner as Jean Grey, Tye Sheridan as Cyclops, and Kodi Smit-McPhee as Nightcrawler.

If you missed 2014’s X-Men: Days of Future Past reviewed here at borg.com, or the expanded Rogue Cut from last year reviewed here, grab yourself a copy and experience one of the best superhero films of all time.  Here is an earlier image from the new film:

x-men-apocalypse villains

And here is the new poster from X-Men: Apocalypse:

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X-Men Apocalypse clip

We’re big fans of Bryan Singer movies, and have always been amazed at how well the Marvel X-Men translated into the films under his guidance.  In fact last year’s X-Men: Days of Future Past ranks at the top of all the Marvel movies, including every Avengers film.  If you missed it, check out our review of the original at borg.com here and the “Rogue Cut” here.

Although we are losing the older X-Men cast for next year’s latest entry in the X-Men “cinematic universe,” which was responsible for half the fun of X-Men: Days of Future  Past, X-Men: Apocalypse looks like it could be just as good in the first trailer just released.

Professor Xavier X-Men Apocalypse James McAvoy

Everyone looks great, from James McAvoy’s Professor X to Michael Fassbender’s Magneto, to Jennifer Lawrence’s Mystique, Evan Peters’ Quicksilver, Nicholas Hoult’s Beast.  And then there’s the new additions: Yes, that’s really Star Wars: The Force Awakens’ and Ex Machina’s Oscar Isaac as Apocalypse, Sophie Turner as Jean Grey, and Olivia Munn as Psylocke.

Check out this epic trailer for X-Men: Apocalypse:

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Ex Machina trailer

Jurassic Park was not only Michael Crichton’s most popular novel, it finally allowed him to synthesize all the elements he had worked out over the course of his career into a perfect story.  Crichton could easily have been the writer behind the examination of man vs. machine that is this year’s big screen release Ex Machina, now in Digital HD and Blu-ray.  Writer-director Alex Garland (28 Days Later) could have taken us on another bland adventure about man’s fascination with technology and mortality, but instead he creates a morality play that is eerily simple yet surprisingly profound.  Behind Ex Machina is a modern Victor Frankenstein complete with a reclusive laboratory and spectacular creations.  Oscar Isaac (Sucker Punch, Star Wars: The Force Awakens) is Nathan, the uber-wealthy CEO inventor atop a Google-inspired enterprise, who secretly is using his company’s collective search data to create artificial intelligence–and more.  Is he the classic mad scientist?

In the spirit of Willy Wonka’s golden ticket, Nathan launches a contest for employees with the prize being a weeklong visit to his own Skywalker Ranch.  The winner is the smart and amiable Caleb, played by Domnhall Gleeson (Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Star Wars: The Force Awakens).  All is not what it seems.  Someone here is being played and it’s for the audience to figure it all out.  Nathan has really brought Caleb to his lair to test out his new humanoid robot, Ava, played by Alicia Vikander (The Man from U.N.C.L.E., Seventh Son), and give her a battery of ad hoc tests to see if she passes the Turing test–to confirm whether Nathan has really created the ultimate intelligent machine.  Loosely inspired by more than one classic fairy tale, the seemingly simple story and strange circumstances quickly grow dark.  Who is manipulating who?

Isaac and Gleeson

Garland doesn’t need to rely on his fascinating, humanoid, robotic creations–arguably cybernetic or borg, and eminently believable–to carry the picture.  Its backbone is a well-paced story with a satisfying payoff.  Fans of Neill Blomkamp will love Garland’s study of class and society in the post-modern future: relations between employee and boss, scientist and subject, and master and servant.  In a world of secrets and locked doors, who can you trust?

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Browning in Sucker Punch

Zack Snyder.  He’s the director of the acclaimed movie adaptation of comic books 300 and Watchmen.  With those two movies he showed through his own unique style–adhering to Frank Miller’s panel work for 300, amplifying Dave Gibbon’s powerful images in his Watchmen–that he knows how to make comic book movies.  So how could he have fallen so flat with Man of Steel (reviewed previously here at borg.com)?  Snyder makes big movies but you can’t depend on his name to know what you’re going to get when you plop down the price of a ticket.  When you hear about a movie advertised as Sucker Punch was, it’s easy to skip over it especially because he both wrote and directed the movie.  Released in 2011, Sucker Punch is now available On Demand.  Is it worth checking out?

Sucker Punch was only marketed as a movie featuring ass-kicking female characters in video game situations.  Yet the story is grounded in some serious issues.  It follows two tracks: first, a young woman only referred to as Baby Doll (played by Emily Browning) being abused by her step-father is sent to an “insane asylum,” and second, that woman enters into a fantasy world to survive and avoid being lobotomized by the doctor on staff (played by Mad Men’s Jon Hamm).   If you give Snyder the benefit of the doubt, you can buy into the fantasy word elements.  Baby Doll’s fantasy world consists of the stuff of David Carradine’s Kung Fu series, first person video games, and even The Lord of the Rings.  Led by her own inner mentor, played superbly by Scott Glenn (Silverado, The Right Stuff, Backdraft), Baby Doll takes a team of four inmates–real-world accomplices–on Dungeons & Dragons type missions to capture key totems that Glenn’s character advises will help her break out of the asylum in the real world.  In one scene they pilot a World War II B-25 plane, in another they attempt to slay a dragon, and another they are battling robot drones.  And it all is woven with classic rock and pop songs.

A powerhouse performance can be found with Jena Malone (Donnie Darko, Into the Wild) as Rocket, the most complex of the inmates, as well as Abbie Cornish (RoboCop), who plays her sister and fellow inmate Sweet Pea.  These two characters pretty much equal the military badass male action scenes of films like Alien and Predator.  If Snyder had stuck to making a purely fantasy movie, he would have knocked this one out of the park with these actresses and his supernatural world.  But his major miss is the real world depicted in Sucker Punch.

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Star Wars Episode VII photo

We’ve just wound down another year of big movies–from Captain America: The Winter Soldier to X-Men: Days of Future Past to Guardians of the Galaxy to The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies. So what’s on the radar at borg.com for 2015? We think you’ll want to see several of these big sci-fi, fantasy, superhero, and action flicks coming to a screen near you next year.

Vice movie poster Bruce Willis

Vice – Jan. 16 – The next in a long line of Bruce Willis action flicks.  This time it’s a sci-fi story about a future resort where humans freely pursue their vices–with artificial humans.

Wild Card movie poster

Wild Card – Jan. 30 – A story based on a novel by Academy Award winning writer William Goldman, starring Jason Statham as a gambler.

Kingsman movie poster

Kingsman: The Secret Service – Feb. 13 – This Colin Firth as spy action flick will tell us once and for all whether Firth would be a good choice to play James Bond.  With an all-star cast including Mark Hamill, Michael Caine, Mark Strong, and Samuel L. Jackson.

Chappie movie poster A

Chappie – March 6 – Neill Blomkamp’s latest science fiction entry.  A Pinocchio story where a robot learns to live among humans.

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Star Wars Costumes The Original Trilogy cover

Review by C.J. Bunce

Sci-fi movie trivia question:  Which Star Wars actor played Yoda in The Empire Strikes Back and was a main character in Star Trek 2009 and Star Trek Into Darkness?  More on that later.

We have taken a close look at some of the best behind the scenes books on costumes and props from major movie franchises here at borg.com.  The best have included the latest in Weta’s tour inside the making of Middle-earth in The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug Chronicles: Cloaks & Daggers, reviewed here, and the dense examination of the Star Wars prequel costumes documented in the landmark work Dressing a Galaxy: The Costumes of Star Wars, reviewed here.  After nearly 40 years we finally have a behind the scenes look at the making of the costumes from the original three Star Wars films with Star Wars Costumes: The Original Trilogy, just released from Chronicle Books.  This is also the first time many of these costumes have been displayed and photographed since the Smithsonian Institution’s National Air and Space Museum featured dozens of costumes in its Star Wars: The Magic of Myth exhibit in 1997.

Boba Fett helmets

Author Brandon Alinger, my friend and fellow costume and prop aficionado, is chief operating officer of The Prop Store (formerly The Prop Store of London) and an expert who has handled original Star Wars pieces over the years.  Alinger interviewed costume designers and production staff from the original series to pull together this first ever analysis of the stories and people who earned Star Wars an Academy Award for Best Costuming, the only science fiction film to receive such an honor.  Original costumes from the Skywalker Ranch Archives were displayed on mannequins and photographed for the book by Joseph MacDonald of The Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco–many for the first time since production.

The most striking revelation in the book is the rarity of each costume and the fact that some of these film artifacts may not survive many more years.  “Some of the costumes or costume components in the Archives are quite fragile and for this reason they could not be dressed onto mannequins to shoot,” Alinger recently said in an online discussion.  “The costumes are treated as artifacts and conservation concerns are top priority for the Archives team.”  Admiral Ackbar’s mask from Return of the Jedi is just one of these items.

Contributing to the book with Alinger are Star Wars and The Empire Strikes Back costume designer John Mollo and Return of the Jedi costume designers Aggie Rodgers and Nilo Rodis-Jamero.  The book also includes invaluable detail from past interviews with Ralph McQuarrie, Joe Johnston, and Stuart Freeborn, along with contributions from dozens of other costume and art department staff from the films.

Chewbacca costume

Movie production staff and movie costume collectors are well aware that the typical movie shoot requires multiple copies of each cast member’s costume.  For example, it was common for the Star Trek and Lord of the Rings productions to create seven or more of each main cast member’s uniform, allowing for problems on set and dry cleaning.  The point is you never want to stop a multi-million dollar shoot so someone can re-stitch the only costume you have created for your film.  Star Wars Costumes: The Original Trilogy reveals that was not the case for many of the Star Wars costumes.  This means the Skywalker Ranch Archives possesses the one and only costume made for the trilogy for many items.  This also explains why the private collecting community has only seen a handful of authentic original trilogy costumes hit the market over the years, like the odd distressed Stormtrooper helmet, Ewok fur, C-3PO hand and foot, and damaged cantina alien mask.

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