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Tag Archive: Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy


Review by C.J. Bunce

At the beginning of Daniel Craig’s first foray as James Bond in 2006’s Casino Royale, Craig redefined Bond as viewers were taken back to his first kill, the event that earned Bond his 00 status.  The scene instantly set the standard for the modern fight-or-die scene.  This is the exact level of hand-to-hand combat viewers will be treated to in the new summer release, Atomic Blonde.  Charlize Theron terrifically portrays what everyone always wanted to see: a woman in the role of James Bond.  Sure, she has a different name, but Theron is believable just the same as a spy being interrogated by heads of MI6 at the end of a mission.  As she tells her story, in every way she convinces us that she could go head-to-head with, and maybe even knock out Craig’s tough and bloody version of the Brit master spy.  Only don’t think this is a typical Bond movie.  It isn’t.  It’s layered, more like The Usual Suspects or Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy, only better–less cerebral and more fun.  And Theron chalks up another badass cinematic heroine, resulting in a film that is easily worth the admission price.

Based on Antony Johnston and Sam Hart’s 2012 graphic novel The Coldest City from Oni Press, Atomic Blonde follows the original, focusing on several nations’ spies trying to recover a secret list of agents being smuggled out of East Germany just before the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989.  Theron plays Lorraine Broughton, a no-nonsense top-level spy, with attitude and style, battered and bruised from some recent epic encounter when we meet her at the beginning of the movie.  She’s being interrogated and debriefed by both British and American agency heads, with John Goodman (Argo, 10 Cloverfield Lane, The Big Lebowski, Monsters, Inc.) as the American and Toby Jones (Captain America: The First Avenger, Snow White and the Huntsman, Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy, Doctor Who) as the Brit.  What unfolds is a smartly constructed Cold War thriller, more complicated than Ian Fleming but not as complicated as John le Carré, but enough so that it may lose viewers a few times along the way.  Ultimately Broughton finds herself trying to smuggle out of the country a German officer who memorized the secret spy list, played by Eddie Marsan (Sherlock Holmes, The Illusionist, V for Vendetta, The World’s End).  The rewards and payoffs come not only at the resolution but in several scenes along the way, as Theron punches, kicks, hammers, fires, splatters, mows down, stabs, punctures… everything but bites her way through dozens of bad guys trying to kill her.  The violence is extreme, but it all works–it’s great fun much like Arnold Schwarzenegger’s or Chuck Norris’s blockbuster rampages in the 1980s–and it’s not gratuitous like a Quentin Tarentino bloodbath (blown-off heads aside).

The Atomic Blonde of the title comes from Broughton’s short, 1980s style hair, and that length allows us to see that much of the time Theron is actually doing her own punching, and taking plenty of punches, from all these men.  She’s quicker, and she prepares herself for many of her punches and bruises by soaking in a tub of water filled with ice cubes–a concept that helps her more than once throughout the film.  The story and action really kicks in as Broughton begins to smuggle Marsan’s character out of the country and as the steps are laid out in a subplot involving her mission to assassinate Satchel, a double agent known for selling secrets to the Soviets.  It’s exciting like the real-life story told in Ben Affleck’s hit film Argo, where a spy smuggled a group of would-be hostages out of Iran in 1980.  Atomic Blonde has less subtlety and nuance than Argo, but Atomic Blonde similarly displays an early, retro style of storytelling compelling enough to keep viewers interested.  Does it feel like a comic book adaptation?  Sure.  Like History of Violence and Road to Perdition.  In fact Broughton could be Hit Girl from Kick-Ass all grown up.

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Meeting Lee Majors

Hey, looks like we made it!

Five years ago today, Elizabeth C. Bunce, Art Schmidt, Jason McClain, and I had already spent a few months talking through the technical details for the launch of borg.com.  What should it look like?  What should we write about?  How do we get to there from here?  Then it all came together on June 10, 2011, and I sat down and just started writing.  Should this be a weekly thing?  Once I started I just couldn’t stop and we cemented borg.com as a daily webzine.  And readers started showing up every day.  Soon we had hundreds of followers, and hundreds of thousands of visits per year.

The best part?  Working with friends and meeting new ones each year.

We’ve had plenty of high points.  Cosplay took off in a big way in the past five years.   Elizabeth and I hit the ground running at San Diego Comic-Con in July 2011 with our Alien Nation/Chuck mash-up and you can find us all over the Web in photos taken by others at the show.  Our years were dotted with the random brush with coolness.  A retweet by actress Alana de la Garza, coverage of Joss Whedon visiting the Hall H line at 3 a.m. outside SDCC in 2012, Zachary Levi calling out Elizabeth for her cosplay at Nerd HQ, interviewing the stars of History Channel’s Vikings series, our praise for the Miss Fury series appearing on the back of every Dynamite Comics issue one month, tweets from Hollywood make-up artist family the Westmores commenting on our discussion of Syfy’s Face Off series, our Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy (negative!) review featured on the movie’s website, that crazy promotion for the Coma remake mini-series, planning the first Planet Comicon at Bartle Hall and the Star Trek cast reunion, attending the first Kansas City Comic Con and the first Wizard World Des Moines Con, hanging with comic book legend Howard Chaykin, Rock ‘n Roll Hall of Famer Darryl McDaniels, cast members from Star Wars, The Lord of the Rings, The Hobbit, and Star Trek, bionic duo Lee Majors and Lindsay Wagner.  And borg.com gained some well-known followers (you know who you are) along the way.

sdcc-whedon-c shot

We’re grateful for some great Twitter, Tumblr, Facebook, and other feedback over the years from Felipe Melo, Mickey Lam, Michael Prestage, The Mithril Guardian, Francesco Francavilla, Adam Hughes, Judy Bunce, Mike Norton, Jack Herbert, Mike Mayhew, Rain Beredo, David Petersen, Rob Williams, and Matt Miner, and for creators we interviewed including Mikel Janin, Penny Juday, Tim Lebbon, Kim Newman, James P. Blaylock, Freddie Williams II, Jai Nitz, and Sharon Shinn.

Bunce Alien Nation cosplay x

What did readers like the most?

We amassed an extensive archive of hundreds of book reviews, movie reviews, reviews of TV shows, and convention coverage, thanks in part to the good folks at Titan Books, Abrams Books, Lucasfilm Press, Weta New Zealand, Entertainment Earth, Dynamite Comics, IDW Publishing, Dark Horse Comics, Image Comics, BOOM! Studios, and several TV and movie studios and distributors.

McClain and EC Bunce

My own favorites?  Sitting down to come up with my own five all-time favorite characters with the borg.com writing staff.

Schmidt and Bunce at PC 2015

Thanks to my family, my friends, especially my partner in crime Elizabeth C. Bunce, Art Schmidt and Jason McClain, my support team, and William Binderup and the Elite Flight Crew.

Onward and upward!

C.J. Bunce
Editor
borg.com

Hype schmype

We’ve all been there… your friends, co-workers, boss, agent, and big brother can’t stop talking about some hot new “must watch” (or read) film, TV show, book, whatever.  They are aghast, sympathetic, and even evangelical when you admit you’ve never seen Highlander or read Harry Potter.  Thus convinced by people whose opinion you respect, you jump on the bandwagon, eager for a great ride.  When the ride comes to a stop, however, you wander off, vaguely nonplussed.  Did I see the same movie?  Is my brother on drugs?  What’s happening here?  Yep: You’ve become the victim of hype that fell flat.

With the theory that intelligent pop culture consumers can have different but equally valid opinions, we’ve asked the borg.com contributors to sound off about their single biggest hype failures.  What highly-anticipated, universally-praised properties didn’t work for us, at all?

Elizabeth Bunce:  This one was easy: The Matrix.  I consider myself an intelligent fan of intelligent science fiction (Gattaca, The Adjustment Bureau), and can appreciate the fun the genre has to offer, too (who doesn’t love Total Recall or Tron?).  Heck, I even thought  Inception was OK!  But, man, did I ever miss the boat on The Matrix.  Admittedly, I was handicapped coming in, as I’m not usually a big Keanu Reeves fan, although I thought he was perfectly cast in Bill & Ted and Speed.  I know the super-slow-mo, bullet-dodging SFX are much admired (not to mention imitated), but I found them just plain silly.  Any minute, I expected them to start spouting stilted, dubbed-in English like some vintage Kung-fu send-up.  But my biggest problem with the film is a thematic one.  I just can’t get behind the premise.

Ok, I can believe that our world is just a virtual reality recreation foisted upon us by energy-hungry robots.  That’s not my problem.  What I can’t get around is everyone’s eagerness to shed that illusion and return to the drudgery of real life.  Sure, freedom fighting is all very noble, and 150 years of fantasy have convinced us there’s no place like home, but come on!  If I have to choose between riding a motorcycle with Carrie Ann Moss or slurping rations in some dingy 23rd century version of your mom’s basement, along with the other gamer geeks who haven’t showered in three days… Yeah.  I’m gonna let those metal squids suck out my brain.

Art Schmidt:  The first thing that popped into my head was a movie I saw last year.  I had been reading about this movie for a year.  The director had directed three of my favorite movies from the last ten years, and this time he was writing the screenplay, too!  Bonus!!!  The early hype on this movie was phenomenal, and the trailers that trickled out onto Facebook were mind-blowing.  This movie was going to absolutely R-U-L-E!!!  And then it didn’t rule.  In fact, the movie was a certifiable train wreck.  The director was Zack Snyder, and the movie was, of course, Sucker Punch.  However, I can’t list this as my pick for the thing that I hated that everyone else liked, because no one liked it.  The studio “suckered” me into giving them my money, so I have no close friends to conveniently lay the blame for that lost ten dollars on.  Now for my real pick.  The Millenium Trilogy (The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo novels).

Critics said it was cutting-edge, gritty and brilliant.  My neighbors who read it said it was awesome (I have one neighbor who is from Ireland, and he said they were “brilliant”).  My favorite entertainment magazine said the novels were better than anything being written out there.  They were going to make a movie out of them, even though movies had already been made out of them in Europe.  I read all three, and I’m still confused about why everyone is so gaga over them.  I mean, all I really got from those books was that men are pigs, Europeans think women cheating on their husbands is just fine, and Swedes drink a lot of coffee.  I mean, really, what’s with all the coffee?  I like coffee, I drink coffee every day, but seriously, all anyone ever drinks in those novels is coffee (okay, twice someone drank mineral water and I think I recall a couple of scenes where someone had a beer but wished they were drinking coffee).  The majority of scenes are literally defined by the presence or lack of a coffee maker, whether someone turns it off when they leave the room, and by what type of coffee cup the people in the scene are drinking their coffee out of.  And the first book, seriously?  The climax is the discovery that the ‘murder’ being investigated never actually happened, but no worries, there is a murderer to be apprehended anyway.  I give up.

Jason McClain:  I have to agree with Elizabeth: hype is the most dangerous thing to my possible enjoyment of a movie. I often wonder how my opinion of The Blair Witch Project would have changed if I would have seen it three weeks later.  It goes beyond hype, though. If I know I want to see a movie, I avoid everything about it.  I learned this trait from Entertainment Weekly when Seven came out. I had no clue Kevin Spacey was going to be in the movie until I read an Entertainment Weekly article.  I still remember how upset I was when he came on the screen and that moment of surprise had been ruined.  So, I avoid trailers. (Yes, I will put my head down and hum to myself while in a theater.)  I avoid commercials.  I avoid everything if it is a movie that I know I want to see.  If it isn’t, I don’t care.  If it isn’t, I will listen to people, watch all the funny moments in a trailer, get excited when a commercial comes on the TV and probably try to go opening weekend.  I may as well cover the movie in bacon grease and throw it in a pen of tigers, because at that point the movie is doomed to fail in my eyes.  When I started to think about the movies I remember being ruined by hype, I thought about movies that I don’t find funny (Shrek 2, Old School or The Hangover) but comedy is subjective and it is possible I was in a bad mood the day I saw these.  (A bad mood, after hype, is the second most dangerous filter with which to view a movie.)  I could mention an overly long nature documentary that anthropomorphizes animals that live in the furthest south region possible, but these aquatic birds can’t defend themselves.  Only one movie made me throw things in anger and yell at the TV screen during the Academy Awards, Gladiator.

That movie still makes me angry to this day.  Sure, it was a crappy year for movies when it won (except for Almost Famous), but that doesn’t excuse it.  I have no clue how anyone ever in the history of all recorded time found this movie to be anything but awful.  Because my jaw is clenching right now and I want to punch a CGI tiger in the mouth, I think I’m going to sign off.  I’ll just say this one last thing: Gladiator made me laugh more than Shrek 2, Old School and The Hangover combined.  I’m not too sure which side that reflects poorly on (or if it is on me) but only one of those things won Best Freaking Picture of the year.

C.J. Bunce:  There are so many over-hyped films that grate on me to this day that I’ve mentioned here before, like 2001: A Space Odyssey and Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy (2011), then there are so-so movies that critics rave about, like almost all the Coen Brothers movies (Raising Arizona excluded).  I have wanted to like The Big Lebowski, but I don’t know what it is supposed to be.  Funny?  Nope.  Serious?  Nope.   But to force myself to choose one big hit that everyone liked except me–I ultimately land at the Coen Brothers’ Fargo as my biggest hype disappointment.  Why?  Some background on how I think:  Part of the test the U.S. courts used to determine whether something qualified as obscene included a test referred to as the Miller test.  Basically, the work would be shown to have no socially redeeming value if it lacked “any serious literary, artistic, political, or scientific value” (I’m leaving out a bit but this is the main part).  Fargo has none of this, at least for me.

Is it supposed to be funny?  I’ve known people from Minnesota and Wisconsin and the Dakotas and they never talked with such an overdone, obnoxious accent as the actors in this movie.  Innocent people in a wood chipper as entertaining?  Bad acting, bad story, absurd antics, preposterous murder plot, a film that left me wanting my money back.  And the movie claims it is based on a true story, but that’s nonsense other than a guy once really put his his wife in a woodchipper.  Macy and McDormand have done better.  Seven Academy Award nominations and a win for McDormand for her acting in this film?  The National Film Registry and American Film Institute Lists?  Oh, Coen Brothers, make a film I like, please.  At least Wes Anderson had The Fantastic Mr. Fox.

Review by C.J. Bunce

(spoiler free)

Roger Ebert once said that he hesitated calling the movie Caligula the worst movie ever made, even though he believed it, because he thought that would drive certain types of viewers to actually see the movie.  Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy is not the worst movie ever made.  But it is a contender for the most boring.  Where The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo was over-packed with too much of everything it tried to be, Tinker, Tailor suffers from offering the viewer too little.  Tinker, Tailor promises to be sophisticated.  It is not.  It is marketed as being absorbing.  It is very far from that.

Some stories suffer from the battle between showing and telling us, showing us too much without dialogue to allow us to understand what is going on, telling us too much by having characters explain background to other characters who would really already know everything that is being said.  There is neither showing nor telling in Tinker, Tailor.  There is just a lot of slow, agonizing slow movement, no linear structure, and no perceptible plot.  No way to sleuth out the riddle, no red herrings, no intrigue.  Nothing relevant, nothing big at stake any current audience will care about.  Men staring at other men and not talking for uncomfortable stretches of time.  All supposedly intended to demonstrate some sophisticated moviemaking.  In the end, no coherent point emerged.  Halfway through the film I wondered if the theater would return my money or whether the course of the movie would change, or whether I should just ride it out.  I did.  So many scenes of nothing happening make it hard to watch the screen–my mind wanted to wander off into anything else.

The cast of actors, of course, was top notch.  But they would have been better utilized with a better story.  And even if John le Carre’s novel is as boring as this film, you would think the director would have accepted the challenge to try to make some of the scenes exciting, or at least mildly interesting.  Tinker, Tailor is not even mildly interesting as stories go.  Key missing elements:  There is no plot development.  There is no character development.  There is no reason given to like any character.  There is no building of suspense.  There is no payoff at the end.  There is an excruciatingly long beginning that merges with an equally long middle and end.  There is a lot of seat fidgeting-wishing you hadn’t sat in a middle seat so you could more easily escape to get some caffeine to make it through the rest of the film, maybe loiter in the hallway.

This perhaps explains why it was only initially run in limited release, and why it is still only playing in a few theaters around the country.  Why message boards are full of viewers asking questions.  Fans of the great roster of actors in the film, including this reviewer, could hardly wait to see this movie.  Here it was one of our ten most highly anticipated films of 2012.  It could be that such expectation makes the resulting movie that much more disappointing, yet even with little anticipation the average viewer must be befuddled with what is displayed on-screen.

I had read early reviews out of L.A. and NYC, half of which referred to Tinker, Tailor as boring.  Why did I brush those off?  The cast of actors.  If a friend of yours recommends this movie to you, ask yourself some questions.  Is this person really a friend?  All that said, I am not angry about seeing this film.  It may very well be that the lesson of this film is that, despite all the excitement we see in spy movies like the James Bond films, real spy work is as boring as any other job.  But I don’t go to movies to see real life.  I want escapism.  And I truly wanted to see these actors acting.  Ultimately I like the humans behind the roles and want to see more of them.  It is just unfortunate they all landed in this film.  Look at the great actors in the film one by one:

Gary Oldman.  Folks who rave that Oldman should be nominated for an Oscar for this role are really crediting him with his past work and potential, not the work in this film.  Most of the film is Oldman staring at the viewer blankly as others speak to him.  Or, as happens far too much in this picture, he is “en route” to someplace or “biding time” between scenes where normally there would be some action.  This includes Oldman, with glasses on, wading in a pond.  More than once.  For no reason.  What is he thinking?  Who knows?  Or Oldman walking upstairs.  Or waiting outside.  Or sitting in a car.  Is it that hard for an actor to sit still?  Now compare that to his stunning performances as Sirius Black in the Harry Potter films, as the villain in The Fifth Element, as Commissioner Gordon in The Dark Knight, where, in each of these films, he was visibly passionate and demonstrated his acting range in riveting ways.  You would call nothing in Tinker, Tailor riveting.

Colin Firth.  Who doesn’t like Colin Firth?  He was Best Actor at last year’s Oscars.  All women love this guy.  He has a solid range of talent, whether in The King’s Speech, or Pride and Prejudice, or The English Patient, or Shakespeare in Love.  He is just wasted in this film on a character that gets little screen-time and when he does get screen-time it is all about his good looks.  Make no mistake, this is not another “Colin Firth movie.”

Ciaran Hinds.  Some of the best acting I have ever seen on film includes scenes featuring Ciaran Hinds, whether in Jane Eyre, Road to Perdition, The Sum of All Fears, Phantom of the Opera, or Munich–Hinds has incredible stage presence, and when he plays a character gravely it is palpable.  Like Firth, he is wasted here.  Worse yet, he pretty much vanishes at the end of the film with no resolution to his character’s story.

John Hurt.  At least Hurt gets to show what he can do, as a paranoid, hyper-intense spy leader.  But his scenes are pitched at us, often in unsuspecting flashbacks such as an earlier Christmas party that repeatedly underwhelms and is over-used, and his role, purpose, backstory and knowledge of the focus of the story is never made clear to the viewer.  For more than 40 years, back to The Man for All Seasons, to I, Claudius, to The Elephant Man, Alien, Skeleton Key, and V for Vendetta, he doesn’t miss a beat in his often bizarre roles.  Again, it is too bad the film can’t match his talent.

To be sure, the film does not suffer from the skills of any of its talented actors.

I can identify three saving graces for Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy, which gives someone credit for trying, and rewards the casting director, composer, and the set designer for adding some realistic circa 1973 British style.

The soundtrack is quite good.  It is the soundtrack of an early 1970s suspense thriller.  Yet despite this, the movie never remotely matches the intensity of the ambitious musical score.  The composer Alberto Iglesias creates ambiance, and he, along with the production designer Maria Djurkovic, make you think you’re getting, and wish for, a suspenseful 1970s era film like All the President’s Men, or Three Days of the Condor.  In the opening scenes I kept looking across the screen, waiting for this to turn into a British version of our mob movies, like The Untouchables.  The look and feel is there, thanks to the composer and set designer.  But that story…  It’s like someone giving you a book with all the pages glued together.

The other saving grace is the young secondary cast members.  It is great to see them have the opportunity to develop their dramatic acting sea-legs working alongside such great older actors as Oldman, Firth, Hinds, and Hurt.  As a viewer, you wonder what they will be working on in their 40s:

Tom Hardy.  As the young clone of Captain Jean-Luc Picard in Star Trek: Nemesis, Hardy got his first international attention.  Here, his passionate performance gives the audience something to hope for in the story.  It’s never fruitful, but Hardy is fun to watch, and his own hopelessness almost makes us want to care about the storyline.  The best surprise in the film was seeing that Tom Hardy can act.

Benedict Cumberbatch.  He plays a lackey for most of the film, Oldman’s sidekick, but gets a few chances to shine that he takes full advantage of.  Cumberbatch is not a typical looking lead actor but he is engaging, and in all of his roles he commands viewers’ attention.

Which leaves us with the best performance in the movie, that of Mark Strong (nee Marco Giuseppe Salussolia), who dazzled as the villain in the Robert Downey, Jr. movie Sherlock Holmes, and gave us the best part of the movie Green Lantern, playing Sinestro.  I point out Strong’s real name because he reminded me in the film very much of another good, and under-utilized, actor often seen in Italian roles, Andy Garcia (The Untouchables, The Godfather, Part III, Dead Again, Ocean’s Eleven) (who actually is not Italian but from Cuba).  Strong’s performance is nuanced, and we actually get to see his character go through a range of circumstances.  Of course, like the rest of the film, they take us on a slow ride to nowhere.  Still, if Tinker, Tailor leaves us with anything, we have the promise of great future careers for Strong, Cumberbatch, and Hardy.

Despite what you see in movie marketing, Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy lacks anything riveting, lacks suspense, lacks basic elements of story like plot.  It lacks all the excitement that makes a typical spy movie enjoyable.  It feigns sophistication, but unlike something like the TV series Mad Men, it is only a pretender.  Unfortunately it is not worth your 127 minutes or $5-10 for any other feature of the film, such as performances by the top-level cast, and if you must see it, you might wait until the video release–and you can thank me later for waiting until you can use the fast forward on your remote to get through all the scenes where nothing happens.  If you go, don’t be surprised if you walk out and join countless commenters on message boards asking “what just happened?”  Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy is in theaters in general release beginning this weekend. 1 of 5 stars.

BTW, the movie’s official website must be open to criticism, which is commendable.  Here this very review was re-posted on their web page:

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

Whether you’re into sci-fi, fantasy, super-heroes, or spies, 2012 is gearing up to be a good year for genre movie releases. What’s our top 10 most eagerly awaited genre films?  Here’s a countdown to the one film we can hardly wait to see:

10.  Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy.*  Already in limited release at the tail end of 2011, this spy movie, a remake of the 1974 film based on the novel by John LeCarre, couldn’t have more promise for its all-star cast of Britain’s best: Last year’s Oscar winner for Best Actor, Colin Firth (The King’s Speech, Pride and Prejudice, The English Patient, Shakespeare in Love) Gary Oldman (Batman Begins, The Dark Knight, Harry Potter series,  The Fifth Element) Ciaran Hinds (The Woman in Black, Phantom of the Opera, Road to Perdition, Sum of All Fears), Mark Strong (Sherlock Holmes, Green Lantern), John Hurt (V for Vendetta, Hellboy, Harry Potter series, Skeleton Key, Indiana Jones and the Crystal Skull, The Elephant Man, Rob Roy, Contact), and Benedict Cumberbatch (Sherlock, Amazing Grace, The Hobbit).

9.  The Dark Knight Rises. Rounding out the latest trilogy of Batman movies, this one hints at the death of Batman in the trailer and advance posters.  It’s Batman, so we’re going to see this one, but the franchise is getting a bit stale.  If not for Gary Oldman’s perfect performances in Batman Begins and The Dark Knight as Commissioner Gordon, this one might not make the top 10 list.  Then again, Anne Hathaway as Catwoman is reason enough to see this one.  What we really want for Batman?  A film version of Frank Miller’s The Dark Knight Returns.

8.  Men in Black III.  Although we liked him most recently as a codger of an officer in Captain America: The First Avenger, Tommy Lee Jones’s roles seem to be pretty similar.  We were surprised at how good the trailer for the new Men in Black movie looks, even with Jones reprising the role he has played twice.  For Jones and Will Smith to reprise their roles yet again, but with a trip to the past for Smith’s Agent J, this may be the first time we like a genre prequel.

7.  Total Recall.  When there are so many Philip K. Dick stories to adapt for the big screen, it’s a little strange that someone would opt to redo the short story “We Can Remember it for You Wholesale,” when it seems like the original came out only yesterday.  Still, if it’s anything like Steven Spielberg’s Minority Report, and early production photos seem to indicate that to be the case, we may have a really stylistic view of the future coming soon.

6.  G.I. Joe: Retaliation.  It was easy for viewers to laugh off the first G.I. Joe live action movie, G.I. Joe: Rise of Cobra, but we think the movie was a blast, handling both the comic book and animated series universe, the classic story of the original 12-inch Joe action figures, and the small-sized action figures.  With the new trailer just released for G.I. Joe: Retaliation, we’re just as excited to see our two favorite tough guys, Dwayne (formerly The Rock) Johnson, and Bruce Willis taking on the G.I. Joe mantle, with Willis as the original Joe Colton.

5.  The Avengers.  After years of DC Comics movies outdoing their Marvel Comics counterparts, last year the pendulum finally swung in favor of Marvel, with the super Captain America: The First Avenger film matching the first Iron Man in quality.  Finally bringing them together with Thor and The Hulk is way overdue.  But the character we really can’t wait to see more of is Samuel L. Jackson’s Nick Fury.

4.  Brave.  Animated movies tend to showcase female characters as cutesy, dressed in pink, damsels being rescued, usually, by some dim-witted guy.  It’s about time we have an animated film about a gal with a mind of her own, wielding her own sword.  And the fact that she is performed by Kelly McDonald and her cool Scottish accent makes us want to see this film that much more.

3.  Skyfall.  We haven’t seen a trailer for this one yet. Daniel Craig’s Casino Royale was a contender for best-ever James Bond film, but the follow-up Quantum of Solace didn’t really deliver the punch we all wanted. Whatever this new film will be about, we don’t care, as we love Bond and at the end of each movie when we see “James Bond will return” it just starts the waiting again.

2.  The Woman in Black.  In part because we just want to see what both Harry Potter and Daniel Radcliffe do following the end of the Potter series, in part because we love a good ghost story, and in part because this trailer may be the best one released this year, we can hardly wait to see The Woman in Black. Eerie, cool with Radcliffe playing an adult role, we hope this will be as good as it looks.

1.  The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey.  Not since the original Star Wars trilogy had we seen a more significant fantasy series than Peter Jackson’s Lord of the Rings series.  The original story from Middle Earth has been read and loved more than any of Tolkien’s works, and for it finally to hit the screen is not only a miracle because of production issues, we’re lucky all the original cast members from the Lord of the Rings series are still around and interested in reprising their roles from the Oscar winning series for Best Picture and a roster of other awards.  Although the first trailer released wasn’t all that exciting, since Peter Jackson is in charge again, we’re certain this film will deliver as promised.

Based on trailers and early release photos, we’ll also keep an eye out for the following genre films, although, as noted here previously, we think some of the trailers make us want to avoid a few of these instead of get excited to see them: Prometheus, Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance, The Amazing Spider-man, The Hunger Games, and Man of Steel.

*Update: Don’t miss our January 8, 2012, opening weekend review.

C.J. Bunce

Editor

borg.com

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