Tag Archive: Tish Monaghan


Review by C.J. Bunce

Not since the original Predator, Alien, and Aliens has Hollywood been able to match these sci-fi classics, despite attempts with eight sequels in these franchises.  But the ninth attempt–this summer’s release of The Predator–has come the closest to matching that classic blend of sci-fi, horror, future military, and action thriller.  In the new behind-the-scenes book The Predator: The Art and Making of the Film, writer James Nolan explains why director Shane Black’s return to the franchise after 30 years was the right stuff needed to bring the excitement and fun back for fans of the original genre-defining alien hunter.

The colorful hardcover includes Black’s own multi-page mission statement provided to the cast and crew, where he provides a truly unique look into the mind of a Hollywood director and storyteller.  He unveils the risks, the challenges, and his choices to resurrect the spirit of 1980s blockbuster action movies, while providing an update that is both loyal to the original movie and its ground-breaking creators like Stan Winston, while carrying forward a future vision for the film series.  Hired to serve as writer on the original 1987 film, Black chose to take on an acting role instead, and the rest was sci-fi history–until he was entrusted last year to helm this sequel.  To provide a first-hand account of production, Nolan interviewed Black, his writing partner Fred Dekker, key cast members Boyd Holbrook, Olivia Munn, Sterling K. Brown, Trevante Rhodes, Jake Busey, Jacob Tremblay, Thomas Jane, Keegan-Michael Key, and Augusto Aguilera, Predator actor Brian Prince, stunt performer Trevor Addie, production designer Martin Whist, director of photography Larry Fong, special effects supervisor Jonathan Rothbart, set decorator Hamish Purdy, costume designer Tish Monaghan, prop master David Dowling, producer Bill Bannerman, special effects icons Tom Woodruff, Jr. and Alec Gillis, and many more.

The biggest attraction in the book is the detailed photography of the interiors of the two alien spaceships and the armor and props.  Readers get to see concept artwork, computer mock-ups, designs, in-process photographs, and close-up stills.  In many films props are just set decoration that help to create the environment, but in The Predator the prop gauntlet, the helmet, and especially the “kudjad” spaceship key factor directly into the mystery.  Who could ever get enough of the aliens–the dreadlocks, those teeth, the shoulder cannon?  And then there’s the giant hunter, whose size and ship also factor into not just the finale, but the future of the films.

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Review by C.J. Bunce

Shane Black has finally delivered what fans of the Predator alien have been after since they first saw Arnold Schwarzenegger take the creature on in the original 1987 film that featured Black in an acting role as one of the marines.  The movie The Predator, in theaters now, delivers exactly as promised.  More Predators.  Bigger and badder alien fight scenes.  Great new sci-fi special effects tech.  A wall-to-wall movie of rude jokes and one-liners.  A squad of maladjusted, badass misfits in the realm of The Dirty Dozen (if every character was played as Telly Savalas’s character), only this time the squad isn’t recruited for a suicide mission to fight the bad guys.  The surprise comes with an actual, serviceable plot that knocks the predecessor sequels out of the ranking (some elements… gasp… it even handles better than the original).

For diehard fans of the franchise who read the prequel novel (a great read we reviewed here earlier at borg) the movie lives up to the introduction provided in the book, which gave plenty of backstory for Sterling K. Brown’s pseudo-military leader Will Traeger–one of the movie’s key villains.  Screenplay writers Shane Black and Fred Dekker include an ambitious, layered story with interesting subplots.  One thread follows a boy played by played by Jacob Tremblay, the autistic son of star Boyd Holbrook’s tough Captain McKenna.  The kid begins to play with what can only be described as “really cool alien tech” his dad sends him in the mail.  Olivia Munn gets to play her most badass character yet, a biologist called in to work with the research group that has caught a Predator, being studied in a lab led by Jake Busey, who plays the son of the character his father Gary Busey played in Predator 2–Jake Busey offers a solid performance as a low-key scientist that could make it back for a future sequel.  Another subplot follows the alien hunters as they each search for some secret objects.  The ensemble ad hoc military unit that takes on the Predator includes a diverse team of actors pulling together a chaotic brand of chemistry: Trevante Rhoades, Thomas Jane, Augusto Aguilera, and Keegan-Michael Key.  Another subplot sets up the next film nicely, a new phase for Predators this film only touches on.

The reason we see more than one kind of Predator is explained in the film, but each has incredible updated props and costumes, and the plot makes great use of both.  It’s all loyal to the original.  The best part of the 1987 film was the absence of the alien throughout the film, appearing sporadically, menacingly, like the shark in Jaws.  We don’t see much more of the alien in this movie, but we get to see what he looks like head to toe in the lab, we get to see how his arm gauntlet and helmet work, and plenty of action scenes as in the original.  One character even gets into the head of a Predator (sort of) to understand its technology and motivations.

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As we predicted here last month, the CW Network is trickling out details of the new Green Arrow series Arrow.  The biggest news is that veteran of several Star Trek roles, Susanna Thompson, has been cast as Green Arrow/Oliver Queen’s mother Moira Queen.  Although not a regularly featured character in past Green Arrow comic book series (although Queen’s mom had a role recently in Green Arrow: Into the Woods), having a seasoned genre character actor like Thompson in the series should bring some credibility to the show that is to feature several young actors in lead roles.

Mike Mayhew’s take on Moira Queen

Susanna Thompson may be best known for playing the Borg Queen opposite Kate Mulgrew as Kathryn Janeway on Star Trek Voyager.  She also played the Romulan Varel in the excellent classic episode “The Next Phase”–

and Jaya the inmate in the episode “Frame of Mind,” both from Star Trek: The Next Generation.  She later played trill Doctor Lenara Kahn opposite Terry Farrell’s Jadzia Dax in the Deep Space Nine episode “Rejoined.”

Thompson as a Trill in Deep Space Nine “Rejoined”

She has played plenty of other roles, including characters in Alien Nation: Dark Horizon, The X-Files, Twilight Zone, Law and Order: SVU, Without a Trace, Cold Case and another queen, Queen Rose Benjamin on Kings.

Katie Cassidy on New Girl

And it seems like the best way to get a role on Arrow is to have guest-starred on last (and this) year’s best comedy series, New Girl.  Yesterday the CW released that Oliver Queen’s girlfriend Dinah Lance aka Black Canary will be played by Supernatural actress Katie Cassidy.  Although in Dinah’s best incarnation in the comic book series she ran a floral shop called Sherwood Florist in Seattle with Ollie, the creators threw that back story out the window and have Dinah as a lawyer.  Cassidy is the daughter of 1970s singer/pop star David Cassidy (remember The Partridge Family? “I Think I Love You”? Yep, that guy).  She actually looks a bit like her dad.

Katie Cassidy on Supernatural

So will the producers go the right direction with dark-haired Dinah who sports a blonde wig, or wimp out and make her dyed blonde like recent incarnations?  Cassidy has played roles both ways and looks like she could carry off the part (visually at least) either way.  Cassidy’s past roles include Zoe on 7th Heaven (with ex-Star Trek actors Stephen Collins and Catherine Hicks), Ruby on Supernatural, Trish on Harper’s Island, Ella on Melrose Place, and Juliet on Gossip Girl, along with roles in A Nightmare on Elm Street (2010), Click, and When a Stranger Calls (2006).  Most recently she played Brooke on the “Wedding” episode of New Girl.

Katie Cassidy on Harper’s Island

Behind the scenes, costume designer Colleen Atwood will be creating the new supersuit for Green Arrow and hopefully Black Canary as well.  Originally it was rumored that Tish Monaghan, a veteran costume designer for films Insomnia, The Exorcism of Emily Rose, The Day the Earth Stood Still (2008), Happy Gilmore, the Cats & Dogs series, the Twilight series, and the short-lived TV reboot of Bionic Woman would be doing the costume.

Cliff Chiang’s Black Canary

We reported earlier that Stephen Amell had been cast in the lead role as Oliver Queen.  Amell can be seen currently as Cece’s off-the-wall boyfriend on New Girl.  His high energy performance on that series may indicate he is a great choice for the role as the archer superhero.

We’ll share more about this new series as we hear it!

C.J. Bunce

Editor

borg.com