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Tag Archive: Patrick Stewart


Think fast, Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon players–where can you find the lead actors of Star Wars, Star Trek, and Battlestar Galactica all in one film?

He is one of the top ten filmmakers of all time–Academy Award-winning director Hayao Miyazaki, known for Spirited Away, Princess Mononoke, My Neighbor Totoro, and much more, but Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind is considered by many to be his masterwork.  It is a grand work that the film medium could not yet hope to transform into live action—a devastated world destroyed by atmospheric poisons, and barraged by gigantic insect beasts, sweeping cinematography, and a post-apocalyptic world layers and layers deep.  And from this arises a young woman named Nausicaä, princess of the Valley of the Wind.  Innocent and driven, can she piece back together what divides man and nature?

It’s a story of dangers and sacrifices, of epic scope, feuds between warring clans, a dying planet, and the forging of a new heroine.  A sci-fi adventure fantasy first released in Japan in 1984, Nausicaä’s story of protecting nature is a timeless tale.  Miyazaki adapted his own 1982 manga story for the screen, celebrating its 35th anniversary this year with so many other great science fiction works internationally.  The film stars the voice talents of Sumi Shimamoto, Goro Naya, Yoji Matsuda, Yoshiko Sakakibara, and Iemasa Kayumi in this month’s subtitled screenings, with English voice actors including Alison Lohman, Uma Thurman, Patrick Stewart, Mark Hamill, Edward James Olmos, Shia LaBeouf, and Chris Sarandon in the dubbed screenings.

Frequently ranked as one of the greatest animated films of all time, Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind is being presented by Fathom Events in the States as part of Studio Ghibli Fest 2017.  Tickets are available now here at the Fathom Events website.

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Beware the light.

Review by C.J. Bunce

On first viewing of Logan, this year’s most critically acclaimed superhero film, a viewer may love it or leave it.  It’s not your typical Marvel Comics adaptation, full of f-bombs and the bloodiest of action and violence.  Yet it’s also a finely crafted final chapter to the successful X-Men film saga and a tribute to Hugh Jackman’s unprecedented nine-film run as Logan.  Last week 20th Century Fox showed a limited screening arranged by the director of Logan in black and white, called Logan: Noir.  The version is also included on the Blu-ray release available everywhere tomorrow.  If you haven’t seen Logan, skip the theatrical version and go straight to Logan: Noir and if you have seen Logan prepare for a completely different experience with this special edition of the film.

Logan: Noir would be more aptly titled Logan: Black and White, as this is not so much classic noir than a modern Western tale shown in black and white.  Thankfully writer/director James Mangold (Cop Land, 3:10 to Yuma, The Wolverine) carefully and elegantly filmed Logan with an eye for the stark contrasts that black and white film once regularly captured so well.  Parts of the film will reach into your chest and hold you breathless, revealing the full potential of a comic book based film–and more specifically a superhero film.

Its bleak, cold landscapes are evocative of a John Ford (Stagecoach, The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance, The Grapes of Wrath) Western.  Its slow, calculated scenic pans are something Stanley Kubrick (Lolita, Dr. Strangelove) could only have hoped to have achieved in his early work.  Inasmuch as Hugh Jackman is a classic, Western, antihero archetype in his so-far-gone, washed-up, tired and grizzled Logan–former Wolverine of the X-Men–he appears far lonelier and resigned to a dismal, unrelenting future in black and white.  The cold contrasts in this Logan somehow create a vision more true to the Old Man Logan of the comic book source material.

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Review by C.J. Bunce

For one hundred years the Westmore name has been synonymous with makeup.  Modern fandom knows Michael Westmore as the go-to guy for the face of the stars and alien prosthetics of decades of Star Trek TV shows, but what you may not know is Westmore had an exceptional career in cinema before his days creating the look of the final frontier.  You may also not know Westmore is a great storyteller.  Happily for cinephiles everywhere, Westmore has chronicled many of his encounters with film greats past and present and documented his stories in a new book, Makeup Man: From Rocky to Star Trek, The Amazing Creations of Hollywood’s Michael Westmore.

Full of anecdotes and brushes with Hollywood royalty, Makeup Man showcases Westmore, his famous family that preceded him, and the work he created that cemented his name in the Hollywood Walk of Fame.  For Star Trek fans looking for insight into re-creating their own Klingons and Vulcans, Westmore previously shared his knowledge in the now out-of-print books Star Trek: Aliens and Artifacts (available at Amazon here), and the Star Trek: The Next Generation Makeup FX Journal (available here).  Makeup Man touches on Westmore’s Star Trek makeup work in the last third of the book, but it is targeted more at his Hollywood memories before the 1980s.  In fact Makeup Man is best when Westmore recounts stories that blend the unique creations and techniques of his craft with the acting and film legends of the past that he worked with, like a story about a little-known, MacGyver-esque, facelift trick he used from his family’s past for Shelley Winters.

Westmore’s prose evokes an amiable master artisan sharing campfire stories of days long ago.  Most interesting is his work with Sylvester Stallone in creating the look of Rocky (1976).  Westmore discusses dodging the cameraman during takes to be able to add the necessary makeup to reflect Rocky’s next punch to the head.  Westmore recounts a little known (but popular at the time) 1984 made-for-TV movie based on a true story, called Why Me?  For the film he had to recreate actual facial reconstructive surgery during all its phases for a woman disfigured in an auto accident.  Westmore’s greatest achievement is probably his Academy Award for Mask (1984), also based on a true story, where he earned the Westmore family’s only Oscar for his work recreating a 16-year-old boy with a rare facial disorder (played in the film by Eric Stoltz).  Each of these stories documents the challenges of Westmore’s craft and his ingenuity in delivering Hollywood magic on the big (and small) screen.

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x-men-read-x-men

In 2029, real X-Men read Marvel’s X-Men comic books.

Old Man Logan is one of those great comic book ideas that surprisingly took such a long time to come around.  It would be like seeing Arnold Schwarzenegger come back in Conan the Conqueror to play an elder King Conan, a film that always seems in the works but never quite in a moving-forward state.  In the X-Men movies it means Hugh Jackman in the big-screen release Logan, supposedly his last of nine films portraying the steely clawed X-Man, providing a rare chance for an actor to complete a character study 17 years in the making.  We’re NOT looking forward to anyone else being cast in this role down the road.  The first trailer (previewed earlier here) gave us a moody, grim look at Logan backed by Johnny Cash.  The final trailer released this week gives more hope for the future, with a little Jim Croce thrown in.

The final trailer reveals more than what we thought the studio would reveal in advance of the film:  2017’s leading contender for kick-ass superheroine… the little girl comic book readers know as cyborg X-23 (Laura, played by Dafne Keen) taking off her kid gloves and opening up her X-Men powers on some bad guys.  Hugh Jackman is the wise guardian we all need, and his own 90-year-old guardian and mentor Professor Charles Xavier (Patrick Stewart) is along for the ride, bringing that additional, personal dimension to the story.  The other universe of Marvel films outside the “Marvel Cinematic Universe” has been well-established to bounce around in parallel worlds and has resulted in the most satisfying movies in the superhero genre, particularly with the spectacular X-Men: Days of Future Past.  This film takes us about five years after that film’s epilogue.

x-men-movie-in-film-comic-page-logan

This new trailer features a comic book on-screen for the first time in the X-Men universe, and comic book creators are featured in a new and unique way.  Comic book artist Joe Quesada drew the pages with ink work done by Dan Panosian (see above).  Comic book creator Gabriel Hardman created the storyboards for the film.

Check out this final trailer, first the U.S. version followed by the international version:

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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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logan

Old Man Logan is one of those great comic book ideas that surprisingly took such a long time to come around.  It would be like seeing Arnold Schwarzenegger come back in Conan the Conqueror to play an elder King Conan, a film that always seems in the works but never quite in a moving-forward state.  In the X-Men movies it means Hugh Jackman, in supposedly his last of nine films portraying the steely clawed X-Man, gets a rare chance to complete a character study 17 years in the making.

The first trailer for Logan, the next X-Men movie following this year’s hit films X-Men: Apocalypse and Deadpool, reveals more than what we expected to see of Patrick Stewart’s Charles Xavier.  Hugh Jackman looks the right age as Wolverine years after the villains take over Earth.  The other universe of Marvel films outside the “Marvel Cinematic Universe” has been well-established to bounce around, in parallel worlds, and has resulted in the most satisfying movies in the superhero genre, particularly with the spectacular X-Men: Days of Future Past. 

logan-poster-hugh-jackman-wolverine

And something new and exciting:  We meet a new X-Men character from the comic books, Wolverine’s clawed clone X-23.  Will Logan be as good or better than past X-Men entries?  Check out this first trailer:

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picard-and-dathon

Darmok and Jalad at Tanagra.

Twenty-five years ago one of the finest episodes of television aired on your local channel carrying syndicated programming.  Arguably the best episode in the history of the Star Trek franchise, frequently found atop “best of Star Trek” lists, and among the best of all science fiction stories, it was Darmok, the Star Trek: The Next Generation episode featuring guest star Paul Winfield as the noble Tamarian Captain Dathon.  Darmok first aired September 30, 1991, the first standalone episode of the excellent fifth season, which featured memorable episodes including Ensign Ro, Unification, Cause and Effect, The Perfect Mate, I, Borg, The Next Phase, and another highly rated standalone episode that bookended the season, The Inner Light.  Written by Joe Menosky and Philip LaZebnik, and directed by Winrich Kolbe, Darmok broke new ground for Star Trek first and foremost by removing the universal translator from the equation and allowing one of the 20th (and 21st) century’s key challenges–communication between cultures–to be the focus of an episode.  Like the transporter beam and the holodeck, the translator was a story device–a crutch of sorts–that allowed writers to skip beyond basic problems and move along to more complex conflicts.  Darmok took Star Trek back to the basics.

The Federation and the Tamarians–also called the “Children of Tama”–historically failed to break the language barrier, and therefore never could open up diplomatic relations, until 2368.  The Tamarians were an intelligent and strong alien race–their ship easily overpowered the Enterprise-D.  Piglike in appearance thanks to the make-up work of Michael Westmore, they wore warrior clothing (designed by Robert Blackman) that was reptilian in design, with a vest of multi-colored grommets, and a bandolier of leather, copper, and brass that supported a sheath with a dagger that was both practical and ceremonial.  The vest featured totems, crystals wrapped in shaved metal, used for personal spiritual ceremonies.  The captain kept a log book at his belt, chronicling his journey in the strange written language of the Tamarian people.

campfire

Shaka.  When the walls fell.

The Tamarians reached out to the Federation first, resulting in Captain Jean-Luc Picard (Patrick Stewart) confronting Dathon via bridge-to-bridge visual communication in orbit of the planet El-Adrel IV.  Frustrated by the continued dissonance, Dathon beamed himself, and Picard, to the surface of the planet.  Dathon’s goal: To use the metaphor of “Darmok and Jalad at Tanagra”–a Tamarian story where two warriors joined together by facing a common foe–to bring himself and Picard–and thereby both cultures–together, one way or another.  What took Picard and the viewing audience the course of the episode to learn, that one could begin to understand the Tamarians once you realized they communicated in metaphors, came too late for Dathon.  The enemy of the metaphor–the planet’s beast in the reality they faced on the surface of El-Adrel IV–attacked both him and Picard, but not before Picard understood.

Sokath. His eyes uncovered! 

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X-Men Days of Future Past Rogue Cut

Review by C.J. Bunce

If you agree last year’s X-Men: Days of Future Past is among the best superhero films of all time, and probably the single best film in the Marvel Universe, then you’ll want to see a new director’s cut released this month: X-Men: Days of Future Past, The Rogue Cut Especially if you haven’t picked up a copy of the 2014 version on Blu-Ray, this new edition brings together the original theatrical release and The Rogue Cut, plus a disc full of new features, making this the definitive edition for most fans.

It’s the lack of a 3D edition that is the only miss with the new release.  For most people that won’t be a problem.  But if you have embraced 3D television technology like us, you’re just going to be buying a new Blu-Ray to add to last year’s superb Ultimate Edition so you can watch each version from time to time–because you just can’t miss this new edit of the film.

If you’re not aware of the quality of this movie by ace director Bryan Singer, check out our review from last year here at borg.com.  On repeat viewings X-Men: Days of Future Past proves its worthiness as a superhero flick future superhero films will be compared to.  This expanded edition certainly does nothing to diminish the original.  It instead provides 17 minutes of additional scenes that explain plot elements skipped over in the original cut and it provides a better character study of nearly every major player: Professor X, Magneto, Wolverine, Mystique, Trask, Beast, Iceman, Kitty Pryde, and of course, Rogue.  More Quicksilver (Evan Peters) would have been fun, but you can’t have everything.  But we do learn more from Singer on his audio commentary about that character’s role, and that of Mystique, Beast, Magneto, and the rest of the mutants in next year’s sequel X-Men: Apocalypse.

Rogue Cut Wolverine Rogue

The features disc includes a nine-part “making of” series and a 30-minute roundtable featuring Singer and most of the show’s stars.  The audio track features Singer and editor/composer John Ottman.  Both provide an excellent look at the storytelling process as adapted to the filmmaker’s role.

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Leonard Nimoy Spock

What more can be said about the man who portrayed the greatest science fiction icon of all time?  In the annals of Star Trek, Leonard Nimoy’s Mr. Spock managed to live beyond 150 years into the 24th century.  In the 21st century you can count yourself lucky to have lived a happy life into your 80s.  Nimoy not only provided millions with decades of happiness via the character he created, he inspired generations and a legion of loyal fans.  So while the world mourns the loss of the great humanitarian behind our favorite Vulcan, what better time to celebrate what we loved so much about him?  This weekend, cable channels like EPIX will be holding many tributes to allow fans to join in and celebrate the life of Leonard Nimoy.

Many have commented in the past 24 hours about Leonard Nimoy’s passing yesterday, and they illustrate the influence he had on us all.  The finest came from our President:

Presidential Seal

Long before being nerdy was cool, there was Leonard Nimoy.  Leonard was a lifelong lover of the arts and humanities, a supporter of the sciences, generous with his talent and his time.  And of course, Leonard was Spock.  Cool, logical, big-eared and level-headed, the center of Star Trek’s optimistic, inclusive vision of humanity’s future.
 
I loved Spock.
 
In 2007, I had the chance to meet Leonard in person.  It was only logical to greet him with the Vulcan salute, the universal sign for “Live long and prosper.”  And after 83 years on this planet – and on his visits to many others – it’s clear Leonard Nimoy did just that.  Michelle and I join his family, friends, and countless fans who miss him so dearly today.

NASA

And here is what NASA, via administrator Charles Bolden, had to say:

Leonard Nimoy was an inspiration to multiple generations of engineers, scientists, astronauts, and other space explorers. As Mr. Spock, he made science and technology important to the story, while never failing to show, by example, that it is the people around us who matter most.

NASA was fortunate to have him as a friend and a colleague. He was much more than the Science Officer for the USS Enterprise. Leonard was a talented actor, director, philanthropist, and a gracious man dedicated to art in many forms.

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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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