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Tag Archive: Timothy Spall


Review by C.J. Bunce

By the time of his death in 1982, science fiction writer and future visionary Philip K. Dick wrote some 44 novels and 121 short stories.  A master storyteller, Dick’s short story writing was often simple and straightforward, but it was packed with amazing worlds, prescient technologies (and glimpses at what would be real problems resulting from those technologies), plus truly unique and inspiring ideas and ideals.  The real genius of Dick can be found in these quick stories.  The 2017 British and American co-production Philip K. Dick’s Electric Dreams is a science fiction series of ten episodes inspired by ten of his short stories, available now in the U.S. for the first time via Amazon Video.  If you find you’re not a fan of the series, don’t hold it against Philip K. Dick–the episodes are only very, very loosely based on his short stories, opting instead to expand on the stories and update most of the settings and plots, including swapping new technologies for those he wrote about.  Ideally those new to Dick’s works will be inspired by the ideas in the series to delve into his written works and experience his creations for themselves.

Written and directed by a variety of filmmakers, Electric Dreams is a hodgepodge of styles, storytelling, and continuity. Surprisingly the writers opted against sticking with the magic of Dick’s stories, deleting key memorable scenes, and choosing to add extra subplots with a few stories barely recognizable from their source material.  Most of the updates detract from the underlying story.  Three episodes fare the best–coincidentally or not, these are episodes that stay the truest to Dick’s own work.  The rest are less compelling, but each has its high points, either via surprisingly good special effects and production values for TV, or the choice of and performances by the actors (including Vera Farmiga (Bates Motel, Source Code), Anna Paquin (X-Men series), Timothy Spall (Harry Potter series), Steve Buscemi (Reservoir Dogs, Fargo), Bryan Cranston (Breaking Bad, Total Recall), Jacob Vargas (Luke Cage), Terrence Howard (Wayward Pines), and Anne Reid (Hot Fuzz, Doctor Who, Marchlands).  Based on one of the best of all Dick’s stories, Impossible Planet follows the original story to create the best episode of the series, taking viewers on a final voyage home accompanying an old (more than 300 years old) woman played by Geraldine Chaplin (even this episode cuts the most powerful scene from the short story).  The Father Thing takes its time getting to the story, but once there it keeps the guts and spirit of the original story.  Loyal to the source material, it also has a great John Carpenter-esque soundtrack and Greg Kinnear is perfectly cast as the father.  For a person who was not remembered as a family man, Dick’s stories involving children are among his best and “The Father Thing” is no different.  Ideas furthered in a story familiar to most sci-fi fans, “The Minority Report,” are examined in The Hood Maker, complete with precognitive telepaths and the concept of pre-crime.  The episode follows the original story, and its “buddy cop” duo would make a great spin-off series.

The remainder of the series offers concepts that will be familiar to fans of Dick’s works, particularly those short stories previously committed to film, including “We Can Remember It For You Wholesale” adapted into two Total Recall films, Steven Spielberg’s Minority Report, John Woo’s Paycheck, The Adjustment Bureau, and Next (from “The Golden Man”), among others.  Many Dick full-length novels have made it to the big screen, too, most notably Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? released as Blade Runner, and although it does not credit Dick, The Truman Show is obviously sourced in Dick’s novel Time Out of Joint.  In addition, recently Dick’s award-winning novel The Man From the High Castle made it to home video as another Amazon series.

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Aardman Studios is that British animation company known for director Nick Park and his stop-motion clay animation films, most notably the Academy Award winning Wallace & Gromit, and the groundbreaking series Creature Comforts.  Its full length feature Wallace & Gromit: Curse of the Were-Rabbit also won an Academy Award for best animated feature.  And the studio produced the popular Chicken Run, Shaun the Sheep, and Pirates! Band of MisfitsDirector Hayao Miyazaki, widely considered one of the best animators of all time, counts himself as a fan of the Aardman movies.

Haven’t seen this kind of animation before?  It’s the style every kid in the 1960s grew up with.  Start with the three Wallace & Gromit shorts A Grand Day Out, The Wrong Trousers, and A Close Shave featuring a cheese loving British inventive chap named Wallace and his smart, loyal, and cynical dog Gromit.  The animation, and the quick speeds of certain segments, are simply stunning.  Then try Creature Comforts, a half-hour television series that aired in both the UK and USA, where every day folks were interviewed on the street, then their voices were dubbed into farm and zoo animal characters.  The result is laugh-out-loud funny.

Just released is the preview to the next stop-motion, full-length film, Early Man.  It features the voices of Eddie Redmayne (Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them), Tom Hiddleston (Thor), Maisie Williams (Doctor Who, Game of Thrones), and Timothy Spall (Harry Potter series).  Check out this trailer for the film:

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Looking Glass

Disney’s Alice Through the Looking Glass is almost here.  Based on Lewis Carroll’s 1871 book Through the Looking-Glass, with Tim Burton producing and James Bobin (The Muppets, Muppets Most Wanted) in the director’s chair, this film looks like a fantasy lover’s dream.  (We previewed the first trailer for this fantasy film here at borg.com back in November).

Alice

The return of the original cast–and an all-star cast at that–points to another winner ahead following up on the brilliant Alice in Wonderland.  Mia Wasikowska, Johnny Depp, Anne Hathaway, Alan Rickman, Stephen Fry, Michael Sheen, Timothy Spall, and Helena Bonham Carter are back, with Rhys Ifans and Sacha Baron Cohen joining the cast.  Danny Elfman will again be producing the musical score.

Tim Burton just released an extended preview that will convince you this is a must-see:

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Looking Glass

When Jon Favreau matched up Black Sabbath’s “Iron Man” at the end of the first Iron Man film the all-encompassing coolness of the Marvel Cinematic Universe emerged and the classic 1970 rock tune came full circle.  So Tim Burton bringing the voice of Grace Slick with Jefferson Airplane’s 1967 classic “White Rabbit” into a trailer for Alice Through the Looking Glass is something that was simply meant to happen.

Disney’s Alice Through the Looking Glass is of course based on Lewis Carroll’s 1871 book Through the Looking-Glass, with Tim Burton producing this time around and James Bobin (The Muppets, Muppets Most Wanted) in the director’s chair.  (We previewed the first trailer for this fantasy film here at borg.com back in November).

Alice

The return of the original cast–and an all-star cast at that–points to another winner ahead for fantasy fans.  Mia Wasikowska, Johnny Depp, Anne Hathaway, Alan Rickman, Stephen Fry, Michael Sheen, Timothy Spall, and Helena Bonham Carter are back, with Rhys Ifans and Sacha Baron Cohen joining the cast.  Danny Elfman will again be producing the musical score.

Here’s the latest superb trailer for Alice Through the Looking Glass:

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Alice Through the Looking Glass clip

It’s not every day that Hollywood makes a sequel to one of your all-time favorite fantasy movies.  It’s Disney’s Alice Through the Looking Glass, based on Lewis Carroll’s 1871 book Through the Looking-Glass, with Tim Burton producing this time around and James Bobin (The Muppets, Muppets Most Wanted) in the director’s chair.  We previewed the first trailer for this fantasy film here at borg.com back in November.

Mia Wasikowska, Johnny Depp, Anne Hathaway, Alan Rickman, Stephen Fry, Michael Sheen, Timothy Spall, and Helena Bonham Carter return, with Rhys Ifans and Sacha Baron Cohen joining the cast.  Danny Elfman will again be producing the musical score.

Alice posters

Here’s the second, fantastic trailer for Alice Through the Looking Glass slated to air during this weekend’s Super Bowl coverage:

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Anne Hathaway Alice Looking Glass

It’s not every day that Hollywood makes a sequel to one of your all-time favorite fantasy movies.  When that movie is based on a classic story sequel then you know something unique is coming.  It’s Disney’s Alice Through the Looking Glass, based on Lewis Carroll’s 1871 book Through the Looking-Glass, with Tim Burton producing this time around and James Bobin (The Muppets, Muppets Most Wanted) in the director’s chair.

Mia Wasikowska, Johnny Depp, Anne Hathaway, Alan Rickman, Stephen Fry, Michael Sheen, Timothy Spall, and Helena Bonham Carter return, with Rhys Ifans and Sacha Baron Cohen (playing Time) joining the cast.  Danny Elfman rounds out the original crew providing the new film’s score.

Alice Through the Looking Glass clip

Here’s the first, fantastic trailer for Alice Through the Looking Glass:

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