Tag Archive: Robbie Amell


It’s a blend of Altered Carbon and Defending Your Life except it doesn’t look anything like that at all.  In Amazon Prime’s new series Upload, the afterlife is hell, or close to it, because it’s gone digital.  And if you want to have a good afterlife you better be rich, because otherwise you risk weeks a month without service.  Like Altered Carbon, your memory becomes uploaded after your body dies and like Defending Your Life you get some help, not via heaven’s legal counsel as revealed in that film, but by customer service agents standing by to help via virtual reality.  But it’s the chemistry of the story’s two lead characters that is touted as the reason viewers will come back after the first episode.

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code-8-robot-cop

Review by C.J. Bunce

What appeared via advance marketing like it was going to be another film from the back side of the video store rack or film school-level sci-fi movie actually ends up as an acceptable sci-fi/superhero B-movie.  Code 8, which just arrived on Netflix, began back in 2016 as a short film project by Canadian cousins Stephen Amell, famous as CW’s Arrow, and Robbie Amell, who played CW’s Firestorm.  The project then went on to accumulate nearly $3.5 million of crowd-funding to make this feature length film, from first time writer-director Jeff Chan.  Ambitious is a fitting description of the film, which has overall low production levels, yet at points it offers some quality sci-fi tech via android cops and superpowered humans.  But its best feature is the promising young lead, as the more popular Stephen Amell takes a backseat to his cousin, Robbie Amell (ARQ, The Tomorrow People), whose charm and authenticity have him upstaging everyone scene after scene, including his cousin.

Robbie Amell plays 26-year-old Connor Reed, one of a rare breed of superpowered humans in a near-present day alternate Earth, with the story set in the fictional Lincoln City, some 90 years into a world of X-Men-inspired superhumans, all with varying types of powers.  Connor is a Class-5 “electric” meaning he can wield incredible jolts of power to use as a carpenter or to defeat high-tech security in a heist taking the form of android cops.  Connor’s mother, played by the versatile Kari Matchett (A Nero Wolfe Mystery, Leverage, Wonderfalls), is dying, and so he makes the decision to use his powers for evil to earn tens of thousands of dollars in gang money for a needed operation.  Class struggle is a theme handled here similar to District 9 and Elysium, with the discrimination beats of AlienNation and Bright, and the superpowers presented here bring out the vibe of Brightburn (minus the horror).

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The town has its own gangsters, centered around a drug called Psyke, including a mid-level, up-and-comer played by Stephen Amell named Garrett, who takes on Connor when he needs the extra power (literally) for a job.  The real-life cousins’ chemistry is instant, and Connor joins a crew of characters, one with the power to melt metal played by Locke & Key’s Laysla De Oliveira, a deaf superhuman with incredible strength played by Vlad Alexis (X-Men: Apocalypse), and a young woman with the power to heal played by Kyla Kane (Channel Zero).  Levels of crime lords mean power plays, and that makes everything messy for everyone.  Crime requires crimefighters, which sets the stage for the second best part of the movie, The Fast and the Furious’s Sung Kang with his always cool vibe, this time as the key cop on the case.

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We’re three episodes into the CW’s Crisis on Infinite Earths crossover event, sixth of the now annual efforts to get interest from the audience of Arrow, The Flash, Legends of Tomorrow, Supergirl, Batwoman, or Black Lightning in more than just one of their several adaptions of DC Comics.  The Crisis crossover has so far aired during Supergirl, Batwoman, and The Flash, and is now streaming on the CW app, continuing January 14 with episodes on Arrow and Legends of Tomorrow.  If you’re able to not be critical of all its flaws, you may be able to sit back and have fun with all the cameos and guest stars.  But the clunky writing and even clunkier dialogue may also leave you thinking about what could be–what could be done with the DC characters if only someone would put forth some extra effort.  Nobody expects TV series to produce the results you get with a movie budget, yet so far CW’s series have been more faithful to the spirit of the comic book source material than DC at the theaters (this year’s movie Shazam! as the welcome exception).  With all the money going into so many related series, why not cut a few of the series and combine efforts to focus more on compelling combined team scripts?  The actors are great, a cut above the material they’re working from, and it’s difficult to watch the crossover event and not wish executive producer Marc Guggenheim & Co. would give the actors something more.

Sure, it’s tough to cram so many characters into so few minutes.  But you also don’t want your fans making excuses for you.  We like fan service, a term host Kevin Smith uses a few times in his after show to describe this crossover, but how about that extra push to boost the quality?  That said, there is something for every taste in the Crisis crossover, and if you’re willing to sit back and let it all come at you, you’re going to find some great efforts to pull at your nostalgia strings.  Everyone involved, especially as they discuss their efforts in the after show, seem to love the material.  The overall big wins include John Wesley Shipp, who still holds the title for all-time best superhero adaptation, returning again for some scenes as the Flash from his 1990-91 series, Brandon Routh playing both his regular series character The Atom and donning the cape again he wore as the big-screen Superman in Superman Returns, and Matt Ryan, who couldn’t be more dead-on from the comics in his performance, reprising his role as John Constantine (more Justice League Dark, please!).

In part, the CW is stuck because of deals and studios, which (sort of) explains no Wonder Woman, Green Lantern, Aquaman, (yet two Supermans?) or big-screen Batman actor–although voice actor Kevin Conroy has a legion of fans who are probably more than happy to see him take a turn as a Kingdom Come-inspired Bruce Wayne.  Having a voice actor who doesn’t look like any comic version of Batman is just something you have to go with here–maybe close your eyes and imagine him in the animated Batman series.

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Review by C.J. Bunce

Not a lot of new movies strike the right balance between horror and comedy, but if you’re looking for a solid Halloween movie to watch with your spouse and older kids, The Babysitter is a good pick, and if you subscribe to Netflix, you don’t need to fork out a rental fee.  Actually a Netflix produced release from only 2017, The Babysitter has a great cast of rising stars, it’s laugh-out-loud funny, and it doubles as a coming of age movie.  What it’s not, is a Clive Barker-esque slasher flick, or full of real-world slaughter and shocker scenarios like so many modern horror movies–it’s an easy fantasy to entertain you and the family for ninety minutes.

Directed by Joseph McGinty Nichol aka McG (Supernatural, Chuck, Terminator: Salvation, Charlie’s Angels), The Babysitter is a day in the life of pre-teen Cole, played by The Christmas Chronicles’ Judah Lewis (an absolute ringer for C. Thomas Howell in E.T. and The Outsiders), a kid who is probably too old to have a babysitter, but he doesn’t mind because she’s a much older and attractive teenage hottie,  played by Samara Weaving.  Weaving is fast becoming a big name in movies, after a string of horror roles including this summer’s Ready Or Not, last year’s series Picnic at Hanging Rock, and before that, Ash vs. Evil Dead (she’s also known for her role in the Oscar-winning Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri, and is soon to star in the Bill & Ted sequel and she’s playing Scarlett in Snake Eyes, the next G.I. Joe movie).  Weaving’s character Bee is a great friend to Cole–basically a big sister–who knows his friends are jealous of his relationship with a “hot” high schooler, but his real friend and love interest is the same-aged girl across the street, Melanie, played by young Emily Lind, a kid actor who has been making TV series (Medium, Revenge, Eastwick) and movies (Doctor Sleep, Replicas) for more than a decade.

One night while Bee is babysitting Cole, Melanie convinces him to stay up late and spy on what Bee and her friends are doing in the house after he falls asleep.  When Cole sneaks down to take a peek, he quickly learns that Bee and a group of teen friends (played by Robbie Amell (The X-Files, The Flash), Bella Thorne (Scream, Amityville: The Awakening), Andrew Bachelor (Angie Tribeca, The Mindy Project), and Hana Mae Lee (Pitch Perfect, Jem and the Holograms)) are conducting a ritual human sacrifice.

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If there is one science fiction trope we love the most, it would have to be the time loop.  And if there is one young actor we want to see more of on the big and small screen it is Robbie Amell.  Both of them come together next week in the world premiere of the science fiction movie ARQ, only on Netflix.

We’re big fans of Robbie Amell.  He was the first actor to bring Firestorm to life in CW’s The Flash and Arrow.  We’ve also met him in person and think he’s one of the nicest actors around.  He’s got charisma that is reflected on the screen much like a young Tom Cruise, and his career is only going up.

And we can’t get enough of time loops.  We’ve discussed them before here at borg.com, that awesome story tool that allows characters to repeat a period of time and usually offer a chance to repair the past.  You’ve seen time loops used to great effect in films like Groundhog Day, Edge of Tomorrow, Source Code, Donnie Darko, TimeCop, Looper, the Final Destination series, in Vonnegut’s Slaughterhouse Five, on television series like Tru Calling, First Edition, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Charmed, Eureka, Haven, and Star Trek: The Next Generation. 

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Here’s a preview of Robbie Amell, along with Rachael Taylor and Gray Powell, in ARQ, from director Tony Elliott (Orphan Black):

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If you’re the type of fanboy or fangirl who can barely wait for the next big screen appearance of superheroes, whether it’s the Avengers, The X-Men, The Guardians of the Galaxy, or Batman, Superman, and the Superfriends, you’re just looking at the wrong medium.  We’ll admit we were slow in feeling the love for CW’s TV series The Flash–last year’s new tie-in series to the wildly successful Arrow.  Initially The Flash was too lighthearted and comic booky and the lead, Grant Gustin as Barry Allen, maybe just a bit too nice.  But we soon became believers in The Flash the superhero and the show, which rated as the borg.com Best Superhero Fix for 2015.  And this season The Flash is even better.

Just take the last three episodes.  Finally superfans got to see the famed Earth-2, that legendary otherworld we grew up with in the pages of Justice League of America.   In the two-parter “Welcome to Earth-2” and “Escape from Earth-2” we got to see in full color this great place where Barry and Iris are married, Iris is cool, Barry’s mother lives, Caitlin Snow is Killer Frost, and our favorite Firestorm (played by Robbie Amell as Deathstorm) is back.  You just know everyone is asking the same question:  Can’t we just stay here to play around a little longer?

So many stories, so little time.  But why not keep returning to Earth-2?  Who cares about Harley Quinn in Suicide Squad when you can watch Danielle Panabaker as Killer Frost?  Open up that portal again, Barry!  We’re hoping for “Earth-2 Strikes Back,” “Battle for Earth-2,” and “Conquest of Earth-2” coming sometime soon to a TV near you.

Earth-2

The Flash is such a good series that it can actually pull off those oddities of comicbookdom that may make the average reader cringe.  Like King Shark, making a return visit to Central City as star villain of this week’s episode.  Who would think a villainous land shark and a story resolution straight out of Sharknado could actually work on network TV?  Because we believe in these characters–Barry, Caitlin, Cisco, Iris, Joe, Wells, Jay Garrick–we will go along for the ride wherever the writers take us.  Can you say that about any of the superhero movies in the past five years?

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x-files-a     X-files smokin

Finally, fourteen years later The X-Files returns to Fox, with a two-day event this coming Sunday, January 24, and Monday, January 25.  Fox has released several new previews, including the opening scene of Episode 1, and six posters–one for each episode of this limited run series.  The last we saw David Duchovny’s Mulder and Gillian Anderson’s Skully was in The X-Files: I Want to Believe, the second movie in the series back in 2008.

x-files d     x-files f

So what have they been up to, and who is returning?  Of course, Mitch Pileggi is back as Skinner, and William B. Davis as The Cigarette Smoking Man, plus Annabeth Gish as Reyes–even the Lone Gunmen are back.  Newcomers Robbie Amell (The Flash), Lauren Ambrose (Coma), and Joel McHale (The Soup, Community) will have appearances on the show, too.

x-files c     x-files e

Fortunately Mulder, Skully, and Skinner will take center stage, with the subordinate characters only appearing in a few episodes.

Want to see more?  Check out these four previews from Fox:

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Flash Arrow crossover

With the above photo released Tuesday by Arrow executive producer Mark Guggenheim, DC Entertainment is finally filling in the stray gaps of the Justice League.  Who would you rather watch?  Batman, Superman, and Wonder Woman in one two-hour flick, or most of the Justice League every week on three TV series?  Both Stephen Amell and Grant Gustin have now established themselves as the real thing with their Arrow and The Flash series.  We already know Henry Cavill was a bust as Superman and early looks at Ben Affleck and Gal Gadot aren’t too exciting.  The answer should be easy.

If you haven’t been keeping track, along with Amell’s Green Arrow and The Flash (Gustin’s Barry Allen, Teddy Sears’ Jay Garrick, and Keiynan Lonsdale‘s Wally West on the way), we’ve seen two versions of Black Canary (played by Caity Lotz and Katie Cassidy), two versions of Green Arrow’s sidekick Speedy/Red Arrow/Arsenal (played by Colton Haynes and Willa Holland), The Atom (played by Brandon Routh), Firestorm (played by three actors: Robbie Amell, Victor Garber, and Franz Drameh), Huntress (Jessica de Gouw), classic Justice League staple Jean Loring (Teryl Rothery), Vibe (Carlos Valdes), and an Earth-2 version of Doctor Light (Malese Jow).  Each of these were featured in at least one version of the League over the years.

DC's Legends of Tomorrow

And now we have a first look at Hawkman (Falk Hentschel) and Hawkgirl (Ciara Renee), coming in three weeks as part of an Arrow/The Flash crossover event and lead-in to the next DC Entertainment/CW Network series Legends of Tomorrow.  Still no view of the hawk wings yet.  The other guy in the mask above is CW creation John Diggle (David Ramsey).

So who is still AWOL from the League?

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Amell at PC 2015

The three-day Planet Comicon comic book and pop culture convention wrapped yesterday in Kansas City.  The highlight of the day for thousands of attendees was the one-day visit to the show by Stephen Amell, star of the CW Network’s Arrow TV series.  If you’ve been reading borg.com for very long, you’ll know I’ve been tracking the show as the world’s biggest Green Arrow fan, including spending the night with 7,000 other fans in San Diego for the show premiere with Amell and his co-stars back in 2012.

After hanging with his cousin (and CW star of The Flash) Robbie Amell last night at the Elite Comics after party at the Alamo Drafthouse, we got to meet Stephen today.  As you’d expect, fans were happy to meet him, and he kept a cheery disposition throughout a whirlwind day of signing autographs and being featured on a panel at the convention.

Amell and Hyatt shot

Because he was only at the show for one day, that meant plenty of lines to get to see him–lines that barely even looked like lines.

Arrow lines

But as typical with attendees at comic book conventions, everyone handled it all with great attitudes.

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Little Green Army Men PC 2015

Plenty of fun was in store for everyone attending Planet Comicon 2015 this weekend.  With the Big 12 Championship basketball tourney between the Iowa State Cyclones and the Kansas Jayhawks, downtown Kansas City was booming Saturday.  At the third annual Planet Comicon at the Kansas City Convention Center at Bartle Hall, actors, writers, artists, cosplayers, vendors, and tens of thousands of fans of everything from comic books to toys and from Doctor Who to Walking Dead continued the convention tradition of sharing their common interests in a positive and exciting environment.

Elizabeth C. Bunce and your humble editor from borg.com were back again meeting up with creators and friends from past years (this year as Daniel Craig’s Jake Lonergan from Cowboys and Aliens and Kate Beckinsale’s Anna Valerius from Van Helsing).  Check out the great little green toy army men cosplayers at the show above.

Kent McCord PC 2015

Kent McCord, known best for his role on the classic TV series Adam-12, shared some great stories about working with Martin Milner, Jack Webb, Harry Morgan, and Stephen J. Cannell.  What better than to spend the day chatting with someone who has starred in shows like Dragnet and Unsub?

Pileggi PC 2015

We also had a great time with Mitch Pileggi, co-star of one of the all-time best genre TV series, The X-Files.  He talked about the possible renewal of his role of Director Skinner on a rebooted X-Files series and working with Judith Light on TNT’s reboot of Dallas as Harris Ryland.

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