Advertisements

Tag Archive: Sylvester Stallone


Review by C.J. Bunce

The trailers didn’t lie.  With only a month to go, The Meg might be the most fun movie you’ll see this summer.  The Meg has everything: a stellar international cast with plenty of chemistry, big action scenes, great sets, and even some drama.  For Jason Statham fans, look for another must-see Statham movie with his tough-as-nails deep-sea diver Jonas Taylor getting in and out of some big crises.  For fans of underwater adventure movies like The Abyss, Leviathan, and Sphere, a better movie has arrived.  A combined production from China and the U.S., it also pushes past last year’s much bigger budget action film The Great Wall–the combination of the two cultures from these films is setting up the future of action films.  If you liked the Pacific Rim franchise, recent Godzilla movies or Battleship, you’ll probably find The Meg a better all around production.  For an only PG-13 rating, it’s loaded with blood, chum, and other viscera (the newfound terror gobbles up plenty of characters both major and minor), but it balances that out with some good worldbuilding, likeable characters, and plenty of humor along the way.

The trailers also didn’t give anything important away.  Beginning with a John Hammond-esque deep-sea research base, we meet a perfect set-up of international personalities, led by Chinese superstar Bingbing Li (Resident Evil, Transformers series) as a scientist working with her father (1911 and Eat Drink Man Woman’s Winston Chao) on breaking through a new-found barrier to the deep sea.  The movie is really two films–the first a slowly-building drama detailing the background and players in the research facility, and the second a 1980s/1990s Sylvester Stallone, Bruce Willis, or Steven Seagal action-rescue movie (think Cliffhanger, Under Siege, Striking Distance, Executive Decision), sensibly swapping out the much younger Statham (who played Stallone’s #1 guy in The Expendables series), the modern incarnation of this brand of action star.  For the action, we learn Statham’s Taylor quit diving for a rescue operation five years past that didn’t go as planned.  He returns thanks to an old friend working at the facility (played by Fear the Walking Dead’s Cliff Curtis) when Taylor’s ex-wife, played by Australian actor Jessica McNamee, is piloting an exploratory vessel, along with scientists played by Japanese-American actor Masi Oka (Heroes, Hawaii Five-O) and Ólafur Darri Ólafsson (Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald, BFG), which runs aground with the help of a mysterious creature.  Rounding out the cast is The Office’s Rainn Wilson as the show’s Hammond, an Elon Musk-inspired exec who funded the facility, Rush Hour’s Page Kennedy as another scientist, and the new lead of the CW’s Batwoman, Ruby Rose, whose character designed the facility.  Rose proves in The Meg she’s got the right stuff to dawn that red cape.

Based on Steve Alten’s 1997 science-fiction/horror book Meg: A Novel of Deep Terror, this fish tale is somewhat Michael Crichton-lite.  It’s surprisingly better than all the Jurassic sequels, as well as Crichton’s lesser action film adaptations like Congo and Sphere.  But the marketing may have set expectations off-kilter in one regard:  The shark–the megalodon–of the title may have you thinking Jaws or Sharknado.  It’s neither.  Think Godzilla and King Kong and you’ll be much closer.  The chemistry among the cast is what makes The Meg really stand out.  Statham and Bingbing Li (only six years apart in real life) make a great pair I’d love to see again.  Statham and Curtis seem like they really have been pals for years.  Young actor Sophia Cai may be the next best child actor, holding her own with both Statham, Li, Kennedy, and the rest of the crew.  The camaraderie of everyone involved and top-level production values (thanks to King Kong and The Lord of the Rings’ Oscar-winning production designer Grant Major) beg for a sequel or series.

Continue reading

Advertisements

We know Sylvester Stallone more for his action movies than any acting prowess.  Yet he is Oscar material.  Rocky, the movie and role that made him a household name, earned him Academy Award nominations for both acting and his screenplay.  The latest Rocky movie, Creed, was his seventh film as boxer–now retired boxer–Rocky Balboa.  His performance in that film and the first trailer for the eighth film in the franchise, Creed II, proves he still has the acting chops, and can give as emotional a performance as ever, and maybe one that could garner him another Oscar nod for the same role he created more than 40 years ago in 1976.  And after his success in Black Panther, everyone is watching the career of star Michael B. Jordan, too.  Has there been a bad Rocky movie?  The first garnered ten Oscar nominations and three wins, including Best Picture, Best Director, and Best Film Editing.  Stallone wrote each of Rocky II, III, IV, V, and Rocky Balboa in 2006.  That changed with Creed, and the film proved the change-up was just fine with contributions from writers Ryan Coogler and Aaron Covington (check out our borg.com review here).

Like the first Creed film, Creed II looks more like a character-driven drama than just another boxing movie.  This time Creed director Ryan Coogler hands the directing duties over to Steven Caple, Jr. with a script by Luke Cage’s Cheo Hodari Coker.  Will this be as good as the last film without Black Panther director Coogler at the helm?  An intriguing plus for this film is the re-emergence of the name Drago.  The original Drago played by Dolph Lundgren killed Adonis Creed’s father Apollo in Rocky IV.   Now his son, played by Florian Munteanu, seems to be back for a repeat performance.

The Rocky universe has turned into a “Who’s Who of the Marvel Cinematic Universe,” with Black Panther co-lead Michael B. Jordan (Killmonger) back as Creed, Thor: Ragnarok co-star Tessa Thompson (Valkyrie) as his new wife, and Guardians of the Galaxy II’s Stallone (Stakar Ogord) back as Rocky.  Check out the first official poster for the film (above), and here’s the first trailer for Creed II:

Continue reading

When we created last year’s preview of 2017 movies we were pretty sure we were going to have some great movies this year, but we were surprised by what ended up being the best.  All year we tried to keep up with what Hollywood had to offer and honed in on the genre content we thought was worth examining. We went back and looked at it all and pulled together our picks for our borg.com annual Best Movies of 2017.

As always, we’re after the best genre content of 2017–with our top categories from the Best in Movies.  There are thousands of other places that cover plain vanilla dramas and the rest, but here we’re looking for movies we want to watch.  What do all of this year’s selections have in common?  In addition to those elements that define each genre, each has a good story.  Special effects without a good story is not good entertainment, and we saw plenty of films this year that missed that crucial element.

Come back later this week for our TV and print media picks, and our annual borg.com Hall of Fame inductees.  Wait no further, here are our picks for 2017:

Best Sci-Fi Fix, Best Sci-fi Movie, Best Costume DesignValerian and the City of a Thousand Planets.  The Valerian and Laureline comic books turned 50 and brought a big-screen adaptation to theaters.  Director Luc Besson handled the material as a labor of love, and that could be marveled at in every scene, and each nook and cranny of the gigantic visual spectacle he created.  More new wonders, more futuristic ideas that had never been seen on film before, bold otherworldly costumes, and incredible special effects made this film a masterpiece science fiction fans will stumble upon in the future and wonder how it was so overlooked by audiences this summer.  Epic space battles, aliens, and loads of sci-fi technology, while all the other science fiction of the year kept to their familiar territories.  A gripping story about a team just doing their job, but that job is saving an entire race of a doomed planet.  Besson was going for something like Avatar, but he far surpassed it.  Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets was everything a sci-fi fan could want.

Best Fantasy Fix, Best Fantasy Movie, Best Comedy MovieThor: Ragnarok.  As much as Thor: Ragnarok was a natural progression for Chris Hemsworth’s Thor and Mark Ruffalo’s Hulk, it was amazing how much the film busted genres, becoming more of a Flash Gordon space fantasy like the Guardians of the Galaxy movies than the rest of the Avengers series.   Just like watching classic Flash Gordon and Conan movies, we saw superheroes on a legendary hero’s journey rise and encounter obstacles and make sacrifices, across a landscape of fabulous worlds and colorful characters, and scenes that looked like they were ripped out of your favorite Jack Kirby comic pages.  Another film about family, it incorporated that always fun plot device of having good guy and bad guy join forces, as Tom Hiddleston’s Loki redeemed himself with his brother and their people, if only temporarily.  We met one of the fiercest warriors in Tessa Thompson’s Valkyrie and they all faced off against a trio of well-developed villains.  A great superhero story, too, this was the ultimate fantasy fix.

Best Superhero Fix, Best Superhero Movie, Best Easter EggsThe LEGO Batman Movie.  Even as a spoof of superhero movies and the DC Universe, The LEGO Batman Movie created a genuine story full of heart that any fan of comic books could love.  Will Arnett became our second favorite Batman actor this year behind Michael Keaton, and his Batman reminded us why we can’t wait for the DC Universe to get fun and exciting again.  Hilarious, laugh-out-loud funny with a smart script, full of derring-do and super-powered heroics, and better than this year’s and the last decade of live-action DC at the movies, the animated The LEGO Batman Movie proved more good DC movies are out there just waiting to be made.  Honorable mention: Spider-man: Homecoming.

Best Retro Fix Classic Genre Films Return to Theaters.  With all the new releases in 2017 we were lucky enough to witness the 90th anniversary of Fritz Lang’s Metropolis, while Disney’s The Jungle Book, The Dirty Dozen, and the original Casino Royale turned 50.  Along with Star Wars, Close Encounters of the Third Kind turned 40.  E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial, Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan, Blade Runner, Tron, and The Dark Crystal turned 35.  Predator, The Princess Bride, and Robocop turned 30.  Many of these made it back into theaters this year, giving us the best Retro Fix we could hope for all year long.  But E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial, Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan (we even interviewed the best Star Trek director of them all here this year), Close Encounters of the Third Kind, The Princess Bride, and Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind, on the big screen over only a few weeks?  We can only hope for more in 2018!

Check out the rest of the year’s Best Film and the rest of our picks for the year’s best movies, after the cut…

Continue reading

With so much noise in the movie marketplace this year, Guardians of the Galaxy, Vol. 2, came and went with little fanfare.  But the hype of other productions and the failure of the studio to come up with a more audience-grabbing publicity campaign caused many to skip over the sequel to 2014’s surprise success, Guardians of the Galaxy (it’s really been three years?).  If you were one who missed it in the theater, it’s now available on multiple streaming services, Blu-ray, and DVD, and it’s so much fun, and so good, it’s going to prompt us to resurrect our discussion of that awesome rarity: sequels that rival the original.

Get ready for more laugh-out-loud humor among the Guardians than in the previous film.  Now that the origin story is behind us, we get to know each character more after they’ve been working together and their relationships are well-established.  Prepare for more quotable lines from Chris Pratt’s Star-Lord, Zoe Saldana’s Gamora, Dave Bautista’s Drax, and the voices of Bradley Cooper’s Rocket, and Vin Diesel, this time as a tiny Baby Groot as we met him at the end of the first film.  Returning characters who see fairly expanded screen time and are integral to the story more than before are Karen Gillan’s Nebula, Michael Rooker’s Yondu, and Guardians II director James Gunn’s brother Sean Gunn returning as the Ravager Kraglin.

As much as you’ll love the familiar players, the new characters and the storylines they bring to the table keep the film exciting to the very end.  First you have two big names, and unlike superhero movies of the past, they aren’t just in the film to get audiences into the theater:  Kurt Russell adds another compelling and multi-layered performance to his resume as Star-Lord’s father Ego, and Sylvester Stallone plays an important role as Stakar, a Ravager leader whose backstory intertwines with Yondu.  Adding to her nuanced villain roles (along with her role in 2016’s The Man from U.N.C.L.E.) is Elizabeth Debicki (you may also recognize her voice in Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets) as Ayesha–you directs a fleet of pilots in spacecraft drones that are like nothing you’ve seen before.  And finally, the Marvel Universe is introduced to Pom Klementieff’s Mantis.  Some of the best scenes in the film, both dramatic and hysterically funny, come from conversations between Drax and Mantis.  An unexpected reference to Mary Poppins (!?) is probably the best line in the film.

Continue reading

   

Marvel Studios has released much awesomeness in the past few days for Guardians of the Galaxy fans.  We’ve seen two bright, loud, vibrant, and colorful movie posters (above) plus ten character posters, including the first great look at Elizabeth Debicki (Man from UNCLE) as golden girl Ayesha.  Still no look at Nathan Fillion or Sylvester Stallone yet. Are they even going to be in the movie?

Yesterday the main cast each released and promoted their respective posters on social media.  Chris Pratt’s Star-Lord, Zoe Saldana’s Gamora, Dave Bautista’s Drax, Bradley Cooper’s Rocket, Karen Gillan’s Nebula, Michael Rooker’s Yondu, and Vin Diesel’s Baby Groot are each featured on individual posters, with newcomer Pom Klementieff as Mantis and Kurt Russell as Ego, Dad to Star-Lord, also getting the spotlight along with Debicki.

   

The posters really look like mock-ups for a superb Guardians of the Galaxy, Vol. 2, trading card series.  Collect ’em all.  Topps, please take note.  Take a look at the rest of the posters after the break:

Continue reading

We haven’t seen all the tracks on the soundtrack/mix tape that will be “Awesome Mix Vol. 2” yet, but we know Sweet’s 1974 hit “Fox on the Run” will be on it from the several trailers released so far for Guardians of the Galaxy, Vol. 2.  If you like to watch every new trailer and clip, check out all the trailers below plus a new clip released during the 2017 Nickelodeon Kids’ Choice Awards, a clip that seemed to slip by this weekend.

Unlike the prior trailers the new preview is a full scene from the new film, showing everyone seems to be in the same form from the prior movie, except Drax is a bit more… over-the-top.  And Groot is still Little Groot.

Chris Pratt’s Star-Lord, Zoe Saldana’s Gamora, Dave Bautista’s Drax, Bradley Cooper’s Rocket, Karen Gillan’s Nebula, Michael Rooker’s Yondu, and Vin Diesel’s Baby Groot are back, with newcomer Pom Klementieff as Mantis and Kurt Russell as Star-Lord’s very own Dad.  And we’re pretty sure that’s Elizabeth Debicki in gold in the compilation trailers below.

Still no look at Nathan Fillion or Sylvester Stallone yet.  Are they even going to be in the movie?  Here’s the new clip, followed by a compilation of all the trailers released so far:

Continue reading

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.

Continue reading

Review by C.J. Bunce

How often does a franchise include seven films?  How often are any of them up to the quality of the original that launched the franchise in the first place?  The 1976 surprise hit Rocky was nominated for ten Academy Awards and took Best Picture, Best Director (for John G. Avildson), and Best Editing.  In every way Rocky Balboa and Sylvester Stallone have been synonymous ever since.  Stallone was nominated for his original screenplay and for best actor.  Rocky is the story of an underdog, and Stallone was the mirror of Rocky in real life, proving himself to the world as a wannabe A-list movie star.  As the franchise continued, Stallone became an international megastar, with movies like Rambo.  Many argue the sequel to Rocky, simply titled Rocky II, is akin to the Godfather 2 or Superman 2, an example of Hollywood crafting a truly worthy sequel.  From there critics and audiences diverge:  Was Rocky vs. Dolph Lundgren as Drago in Rocky IV up to the adrenaline rush of the boxing rounds in the earlier films?  Where does Rocky III fit in?  The latest entry in the Rocky series, the reboot and eighth film in the series, Creed, is now streaming on Amazon Prime.  If you are looking for an inspirational, feel-good movie, it should be the next movie on your list.

What seems to be unanimous is a drop in quality and excitement beset Rocky V and the sixth film Rocky Balboa.  So when Creed was released at the end of 2015, who could have guessed it could be on par with the original?  The odds were against its success, much like the character of Adonis “Hollywood” Johnson, the son of the late Apollo Creed, played by Michael B. Jordan in the film.  Director Ryan Coogler, born ten years after the original Rocky film, grew up with Stallone’s boxer already part of the national psyche, along with other motivational sports films like Rocky director Avildson’s other unforgettable classic, The Karate Kid.  Coogler draws from that film’s sensei Mr. Miyagi in one particularly well played training sequence between Stallone and Jordan.  Stallone has played sensei before in the series, but only now, with the actor a real-life wise, elder thespian, does he provide a performance that in some parallel universe garnered him not only an Oscar nomination but a win (Stallone was only the sixth actor twice nomination for playing the same character).  The young Jordan is equally superb, holding back when others may take obvious choices with a hot-headed fighter.  Coogler’s subtlety is the stuff of great filmmaking, such as editing in musical cues from the original Rocky like a whisper throughout the film, only to release the full weight of Bill Conti’s goosebump inducing theme when it meant the most.

But how can Creed be as good as the original?

Continue reading

kurt-russell-guardians

Marvel Studios released another great trailer for the sequel Guardians of the Galaxy, Vol. 2, and not only is all the gang featured, we get our first good look at Star-Lord’s dad, Ego, played by Kurt Russell.  Chris Pratt’s Star-Lord, Zoe Saldana’s Gamora, Dave Bautista’s Drax, Bradley Cooper’s Rocket, Karen Gillan’s Nebula, Michael Rooker’s Yondu, and Vin Diesel’s Baby Groot are all still in top form.  With newcomer Pom Klementieff as Mantis.

Still no look at Elizabeth Debicki, Nathan Fillion, or Sylvester Stallone in the film yet.

guardians-2-clip

But what a great return of this unusual team of superheroes. Wait no longer– Check out the new extended trailer for Guardians of the Galaxy, Vol. 2:

Continue reading

groot

If 2014’s blockbuster hit Guardians of the Galaxy is not in your list of Top 5 superhero movies, it’s time to go back and try again.  Marvel Studios released the first trailer for the sequel this week, Guardians of the Galaxy, Vol. 2, and not only is Groot back, he’ not merely hiding behind Star-Lord’s leg but taking the lead in the Marvel galactic universe.  Chris Pratt’s Star-Lord, Zoe Saldana’s Gamora, Dave Bautista’s Drax, Bradley Cooper’s Rocket, and Vin Diesel’s Baby Groot are all back in top form.

But Marvel is still holding back the new slate of stars for a future trailer.  We’re talking about Sylvester Stallone, Kurt Russell, and Elizabeth Debicki, and returning stars Karen Gillan as Nebula and Michael Rooker as Yondu, although we saw Rooker in the teaser we previewed earlier at borg.com here.

rocketgroot-2

But what a great first look at the return of this wonderful, motley team of superheroes.  Marvel calls it a teaser, but at more than two minutes and with the inclusion of actual scenes it is hardly merely a teaser.  Wait no longer– Check out the first full trailer for Guardians of the Galaxy, Volume 2:

Continue reading

%d bloggers like this: