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Tag Archive: Peter Weller


RoboCop Blu-ray

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It is likely the best format you will have seen of director Paul Verhoeven’s classic vision of social commentary meeting science fiction since it appeared in theaters 30 years ago.  If you’ve only watched it on TV and in standard formats you’ll want to take another look at RoboCop, your favorite borg cop, on high-definition Blu-ray in its unrated director’s cut.  Known for its excess violence and campy cyborg superheroics, RoboCop avoids the dated look of many of its contemporary films, falling in an elite league of re-watchable, cult-favorite 1980s films with The Terminator and Tron.   Filmed in Dallas for its futuristic building locations instead of its actual story setting in Detroit, the police uniforms, corporate setting, and street scenes all feel as if they could be part of some future, with maybe only hair styles and faked media clips that shout 1980s.

RoboCop remastered

Relive the classic boardroom scene where Ronny Cox’s new alternative police replacement robot has a “glitch.”  Relive the first time you saw Ray Wise and Kurtwood Smith playing their earliest genre roles, plus the late Miguel Ferrer in one of his best roles.  And don’t forget that unforgettable Basil Poledouris (The Hunt for Red October, Starship Troopers, Conan the Barbarian, The Twilight Zone) soundtrack.

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RoboCop and OldmanReview by C.J. Bunce

If you’re a fan of the 1987 Paul Verhoeven science fiction classic RoboCop starring Peter Weller, you might have decided to avoid the reboot showing in theaters this month.  But if you skip the new RoboCop, you’ll be missing out on a great sci-fi vision realized with a stellar cast and cutting edge special effects.  Where recent remakes of classic sci-fi movies didn’t equal the original, as with Tron: Legacy, or completely missed the mark, as with Total Recall or Man of Steel, RoboCop manages to meet or exceed the original in almost every way.

Fundamentally, the original RoboCop is lauded for its social commentary on media, capitalism, and authoritarianism.  The new film hits all of these areas head-on in light of the changing realities of the 21st century.  This begins with a failed, televised peacekeeping mission in Tehran with the giant EV-109 robots (similar to the two-legged walkers in the original film)–predecessors to both the robot/android cops, and later to the man-in-the-machine RoboCop, played by relative newcomer Joel Kinnaman.  Timely elements help bring the storyline into the 21st century, like Detroit’s closed circuit surveillance grid, which makes the RoboCop effective, and parallels the current real-world controversy surrounding drones for spying.

Robocop tehran

The supporting characters are pulled from the headlines, too.  Michael Keaton’s leader of Omnicorp is the typical entrepreneurial Wall Street “big corporation” CEO you’d expect, and Samuel L. Jackson’s talking head Pat Novak might as well have been an impersonation of Fox’s Bill O’Reilly (with some Stephen Colbert dramatics thrown in).

Where Peter Weller’s RoboCop was all machine with little soul, Joel Kinnaman’s version gets to flesh-out (literally) the physical and emotional journey from man to cyborg, in a way touched on in Jake Gyllenhaal’s equally riveting Source Code, but not otherwise fully explored on film before now.  If rumors become reality of Leonardo DiCaprio playing a big-screen version of Bionic Man’s Steve Austin, it will be difficult for audiences to avoid comparisons with this RoboCop, as the stories of both Alex Murphy and Steve Austin have many mirrored origin story scenes that unfold over the course of the film.  This includes a nice performance by Gary Oldman in a superb take on The Six Million Dollar Man’s Dr. Rudy Wells.

Joel Kinnaman;Gary Oldman

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RoboCop Blu-ray

Thank you for your cooperation.

It is likely the best format you will have seen Paul Verhoeven’s classic vision of social commentary meets science fiction since it appeared in theaters in 1987.  If you’ve only watched it on TV and in standard formats you’ll want to take another look at RoboCop, your favorite borg cop, now on high-definition Blu-ray in an unrated director’s cut.  Known for its excess violence and campy cyborg superheroics, RoboCop manages to avoid the dated look of many of its contemporary films, falling in an elite league of re-watchable, cult-favorite 1980s films with The Terminator and Tron.  Filmed in Dallas for its futuristic building locations instead of its actual story setting in Detroit, the police uniforms, corporate setting, and street scenes all feel as if they could be part of some future, with maybe only hair styles and faked media clips that shout 1980s.

RoboCop remastered

Relive the classic boardroom scene where Ronny Cox’s new alternative police replacement robot has a “glitch.”  Relive the first time you saw Ray Wise and Kurtwood Smith playing their earliest genre roles.  And don’t forget the unforgettable Basil Poledouris (The Hunt for Red October, Starship Troopers, Conan the Barbarian, The Twilight Zone) soundtrack.

Continue reading

Enterprise from Into Darkness

Review by C.J. Bunce

After more trailers than we can count, more minutes of screen-time revealed in advance, and more advertising and hype than any Star Trek film in recent memory, Star Trek Into Darkness is not only better than you’ve heard, it’s the best Star Trek movie since Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country.  Considering all my fellow uber-Trek fan friends had more negative to say than positive on this 12th motion picture entry, I was scratching my head to try to figure why this was the most fun I’ve had watching a movie in years–or maybe why they didn’t have as much fun as me.

Star Trek, the Original Series, is pretty much sacred, and not only sacred, its sacrosanct in the eyes of loyal fans, so J.J. Abrams was taking a risk by getting his claws into the franchise in 2009’s Star Trek.  When I read that he was taking on Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan material specifically, I thought he was just plain nuts.  But then I asked myself, if I had the keys to the candy store what would I do if I wanted to make my mark on the franchise?  Bring back Christopher Lloyd’s Klingon Commander Kruge or Ricardo Montalban’s regal Khan?  Kill off a main character?  Abrams did just what any of us would love to do, and I expect, this should set our expectations for what he will do with the third trilogy of the Star Wars franchise, which will have a much larger international audience and implications for Abrams’ own future.

STID

As a viewer well-versed in the minutia of Star Trek, I expected to nitpick this film to death when walking into the theater and actually put off watching the film instead of seeing it on opening weekend like I had historically viewed the past films back to Star Trek VI.  But not 15 minutes into the movie, when Kirk is being scolded by Admiral Christopher Pike (played deftly again by Bruce Greenwood) for violating the prime directive and then rightfully demoted, I was reeled into a cleverly twisting plot that delivered the goods at every level with a non-stop, action packed thrill ride that also managed to offer some of the best characterization for key roles than has been given to them in any prior Star Trek film, period.

Take for instance Simon Pegg’s Scotty.  Not since the TV series was Scotty given the opportunity to play a key role in the story of a Trek film.  Here he plants the seeds not as the throwaway silly Scottish chap, but as the moral voice for the film.  Karl Urban’s Bones similarly gets many lines–good lines– and we learn something about him other than his “wait a damn minute” grunting, which was all we ever saw from him in Star Trek: The Motion Picture through Star Trek VI.  We learn for example that he once gave a C section to a pregnant Gorn (with octuplets).  And that they bite.  Awesome!  This sheds some light on why he later would try to work on the dying Klingon ambassador in Star Trek VI.  And someone finally, onscreen, calls out Bones for his repeated metaphors.

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Declan Shalvey RoboCop cover excerpt

BOOM! Studio announced this week that Steven Grant will be writing an adaptation of Frank Miller’s unproduced original RoboCop 3 screenplay, in an 8-issue mini-series titled RoboCop: Last Stand.  The series will be illustrated by Korkut Oztekin with cover art by Declan Shalvey and is expected to wrap up Miller’s early vision of the future cop.

Boom RoboCop panel from early comic book series

Grant also wrote an adaptation of Frank Miller’s script for Robocop 2 with Avatar Press.  Now holding the RoboCop rights previously held by Dynamite Comics, BOOM! is planning on releasing that earlier series as a deluxe hardcover.  Marvel, Dark Horse, Avatar, and Dynamite have all previously published RoboCop titles, making BOOM! the fifth publisher to take on the classic borg policeman.

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Oliver Queen and trick arrow to save the day

More than 25 years after Frank Miller and Klaus Janson’s four-part prestige format comic book series/graphic novel The Dark Knight Returns changed the landscape for comic books thereafter, DC Animation produced a quality animated adaptation.  Released in two parts, we reviewed The Dark Knight Returns Part 1 here last year.   Part 1 was a faithful adaptation of roughly the first half of the original graphic novel.  It proved first and foremost that Christopher Nolan really pulled his key story elements in his Dark Knight trilogy of films from Frank Miller’s work.  Part 1 really keyed in on Nolan’s Bane character.  Both Part 1 and the Dark Knight trilogy failed to provide an exciting narrative, however, when compared to  The Dark Knight Returns Part 2, now on video.

Part 2 is every bit as faithful to the original as Part 1.  Commissioner Gordon has already stepped down and was replaced by a new commissioner whose first act is issuing a warrant for Batman.  The vacuous Doctor Wolper brings his patient The Joker to appear on Miller’s take on The David Letterman Show, only for The Joker to release a gas bombing that kills the entire audience as well as the host, leaving The Joker’s trademark grin on all their faces.  From the first sentences of Part 2, you know this is not a kid’s Batman film.  The Joker escapes and proceeds to bloodily murder everyone in his path until he confronts Batman in the bowels of Gotham City.  Here the classic confrontation between the long-time foes plays out exactly as it should.

Christopher Reeve poster

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This next animated Warner Brothers/DC Comics movie will be pretty hard to pass up and prompted me to check out Frank Miller’s Batman: Year One animated movie, which I plan to review here soon.  But what’s coming this month is the most talked about graphic novel of all time, Frank Miller’s Batman: The Dark Knight Returns, Part 1 in its first adaptation, coming direct to video.  DC Comics must have done some research to indicate it wouldn’t make enough money for this movie to hit the theaters, which is unfortunate, because I think even the simple animation style used wouldn’t matter–DKR fans would go to the theater to see this.  The negative is that, like so many other movies these days, it is being broken into two parts, so maybe the length was the problem.

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By C.J. Bunce

Eclipsing the highly anticipated live action summer release The Dark Knight Rises, The Dark Knight Returns is up next.  An animated adaptation of Frank Miller’s 1986 seminal dystopian look at Batman is being produced by Warner Premiere/DC Comics Premiere Movies.

The news is somewhat bittersweet for diehard The Dark Knight Returns fans.  On the one hand, any well-done video adaptation would be a welcome sight.  That said, until we see a live action version of this major graphic novel, anything else is just something less than the potential that this property could realize in both viewers and revenues for DC.  Until we see Warner and DC Comics put this work on the big screen, we can’t get too excited here.

Providing the voice for the grim and hardened Batman is Peter Weller, who has been in several TV shows and movies, such as guest roles on House, M.D., Psych, Dexter, Fringe, Monk, 24, Star Trek: Enterprise, and key roles in the films Screamers, Leviathan, Buckaroo Bonzai, and of course, Robocop. It’s too bad this isn’t live action, as Weller’s great Robocop jaw could pull off the look of a 50-something Bruce Wayne.

This should be a good year for Weller, who also has an as yet-undisclosed role in the new Star Trek movie. And a resurgence of Robocop in light of a new big screen remake announced here previously should also shine a light on the original borg police officer.

Ariel Winter (Modern Family) will voice Robin, with Wade Williams (Prison Break) as Harvey Dent/Two-Face, and genre favorite Michael McKean (This is Spinal Tap, Homeland, Smallville, Sesame Street, The X-Files, Star Trek Voyager, Saturday Night Live, Coneheads, Memoirs of an Invisible Man, Clue), expected to portray the doctor from Arkham Asylum, and David Selby, likely to portray one of the villains.  (We hear Mckean got hit by a car this week, so we all hope he recovers quickly).

What should be highly anticipated, and has not yet been released, are the voice actors who will portray the key guest appearances in Frank Miller’s novel: Alfred Pennyworth, the Joker, Superman, and Green Arrow.  I’d expect some key voice actors for the various newscasters, too, assuming this film follows the original’s focus on economic turmoil and 1980s excess.

Fans of the animated Batman: Year One, released last year, may appreciate this new animated feature the most.  The plan is for The Dark Knight Returns to be released on two parts, the first by year end and the second in early 2013.  Unfortunately it is also direct to video—so you won’t find this one at a theater unless Warner gives a preview at the San Diego Comic-Con this year as they did with Batman: Year One last year.  The first photos released yesterday really don’t seem to grab Frank Miller’s rugged style, so hopefully the actual release is able to attain some of that from the original sourcework.

Bob Goodman (Batman: The Animated Series, Superman: The Animated Series, Justice League, Static Shock) is writing the script for the film.  Storyboard artist and animation director Jay Oliva is directing.

Speaking of yesterday’s discussion of Cybermen and The Borg, another well known borg sci-fi character was the subject of a New York Times article this week:  RoboCop is being resurrected for the big screen this year, one of several remakes of 1980s properties, such as 21 Jump Street and Dirty Dancing, coming soon to a theater near you.

Unfortunately there is not much information yet released, especially no photos yet of the police uniform for the 2013 RoboCop production.  Peter Weller, who we learned this year will be featured in the next Star Trek movie, originally dawned the steel armor of the downed cop who, like the Bionic Man, was rebuilt to fight the forces of evil in the U.S.  The original costume is instantly recognizable, but early word from production is that we will see a very different police armor uniform for the new RoboCop.

Although it is not quite as cool as the original RoboCop, I am a fan of the Iowa State Patrol uniform worn by the officer hunting down a young James T. Kirk in the future Riverside, Iowa in Star Trek 2009:

I’m still not sure if that was a good protective outfit for a human cop, or whether that android face mask reflects an actual android, or this was meant to be a cyborg creation.  Either way, it’s a pretty good outfit.

Years ago Academy Award winners Sylvester Stallone and Sandra Bullock showed us the prim and proper cops of the future city of San Angeles, where we learned “In the future, all restaurants are Taco Bell.”

My fellow Trekkies will recognize those belts being re-used in the Mirror Universe of the Enterprise TV series by evil Captain Archer & Co.  These guys looked believable.  But no armor!

And this year’s coming remake of Total Recall features another slick looking future cop:

Note that the new Total Recall takes no obvious design queues from Paul Verhoeven’s original Total Recall.  So it should be no surprise if the new RoboCop takes no design queues from Verhoeven’s RoboCop.  Verhoeven’s RoboCop was inspired by the future cop from the comic book 2000 A.D., Judge Dredd, and Verhoeven’s RoboCop has been interpreted as a retelling of sorts of the original Judge Dredd story because of several common themes, and, of course, the mask.  Although the Sylvester Stallone future cop in Judge Dredd didn’t adhere totally to the original story, he did have a mask, but his uniform was a bit strange:

Future cops are definitely “in” these days.  Karl Urban (Bones in Star Trek 2009, Eomer in Lord of the Rings, Xena, Bourne Supremacy, Chronicles of Riddick) will be starring in a new version of Judge Dredd, that Urban says comes more from the course material, titled Dredd and expected to be released in September 2012.

Far less interesting are the precrime future cop uniforms from Steven Spielberg’s Minority Report, based on Philip K. Dick’s short story of the same name:

For the new RoboCop, José Padilha is slated to direct a screenplay by Nick Schenk and Joshua Zetumer.  Thirty-three year old actor Joel Kinnaman has been tapped for the lead role as Murphy/RoboCop.  Of the creative trio, Schenk is the best known for his sceenplay for Clint Eastwood’s (awesome) film, Gran Torino.  Kinnaman had a small role in last year’s The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, and as Stephen Holder in the TV series, The Killing.

Here is the the marketing blurb for the new film: “In a crime-ridden city, a terminally wounded cop returns to the force as a powerful cyborg with submerged memories haunting him.”

Unlike the new RoboCop, the original RoboCop rarely removed his helmet.

Padilha and Kinnaman have disclosed thus far that the new RoboCop will be a very different film than the original, with a costume where you can see the RoboCop’s eyes, and they’d said that the focus of the new story will be the period from Murphy getting shot to becoming RoboCop, as opposed to an action film where RoboCop serves as a futuristic officer.  So this seems a bit like the path of Martin Caidin’s original Bionic Man story as told in his novel Cyborg.

Ronny Cox and the earlier, non-cyborg version, from the original film

My favorite scene, and the one I hope they do include in some way, is the scene where the non-cyborg RoboCop before Weller’s is revealed to be flawed and destroys one of the executives in the board room at the big reveal.

The current release date is scheduled for August 9, 2013.

C.J. Bunce

Editor

borg.com

Actor Benedict Cumberbatch confirmed this week that he has signed on to play the villain in the next Star Trek film, hopefully dispelling rumors once and for all that the prequel’s sequel won’t be about Khan, originally seen in Star Trek II.  Then again, he does look a bit like the crew stranded with Khan all those years on Ceti Alpha V…

  

Nah.  But it does make you want to get out the Photoshop and check out whether he makes a better Vulcan, Romulan or Klingon, or maybe J.J. Abrams will really mix things up and feature him as a member of The Borg.  And it puts the new Star Trek prequel’s sequel (say that ten times fast) in the #1 spot for most anticipated movie coming out in 2013.  (I think he’d make a great Romulan).

New Line Cinema only recently announced that Cumberbatch was going to be the evil voice of the Necromancer (and Smaug the dragon) in The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey and its sequel The Hobbit: There and Back Again, the former scheduled to be released in theaters in December.  Playing the villain in two of the biggest sci-fi/fantasy franchises is almost unprecedented.  Almost, because you have to consider fellow British actor Christopher Lee playing the villain Sauron in The Lord of the Rings and equally villainous Count Dooku in the Star Wars prequels.  And then you have Karl Urban who played both Dr. McCoy in Star Trek 2009 and Eomer in The Lord of the Rings franchise, and Ian McKellen who played both Gandalf in The Lord of the Rings and Magneto in the X-Men movies, and John Rhys-Davies who played Gimli in The Lord of the Rings and Sallah in the Indiana Jones movies… on second thought scratch that “unprecedented” reference.  But that certainly is good company for Cumberbatch, who has spring-boarded into international celebrity in the past year.

His role as Sherlock Holmes in Doctor Who creator Steven Moffat’s BBC/Public Television’s Masterpiece Mystery series Sherlock first put Cumberbatch opposite The Hobbit star Martin Freeman.  Freeman has a similarly huge year coming as Bilbo Baggins in addition to reprising his Dr. Watson role.  In Sherlock, the classic detective is brought into the 21st century, but his skills and sleuthing is very familiar.  Masterpiece Mystery confirmed this week that the Sherlock series 2/season 2 is scheduled to begin this May, and that they plan to bring back Cumberbatch for a third year after season 2.

Since his first roles in 2002, including a small part in the BBC mini-series Tipping the Velvet with Ashes to Ashes/Identity star Keeley Hawes, Cumberbatch had memorable smaller parts in 2006’s Amazing Grace as William Pitt…

in 2008’s The Other Boleyn Girl as William Carey, and in 2011 he played Major Stewart in Steven Spielberg’s acclaimed film War Horse

and as Peter Guillam in this season’s spy thriller (opening in general release this weekend finally) Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy.

Cumberbatch joins the Enterprise crew from Star Trek 2009, Chris Pine, Karl Urban, Simon Pegg, Zachary Quinto, and Zoe Saldana, and former Robocop Peter Weller as a yet-to-be-named character in the yet-to-be-named new Star Trek film.

C.J. Bunce

Editor

borg.com

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