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Tag Archive: Tron: Legacy


Review by C.J. Bunce

These days most movies translate just fine from the big screen to a home high definition television.  Late December’s release from Warner Brothers, DC’s Aquaman, is a surprisingly good transfer, showcasing the film’s epic fantasy seascapes and truly unique otherworld sea creatures without the sound contrast and lighting issues that plague recent action film releases.  Aquaman is available now on 4D, Blu-ray, DVD, and in digital formats, and it’s available both on Vudu and Amazon Prime.  A single word to describe this rare, solid entry in the DC franchise?  Epic.  Throughout the film viewers will see concepts from the history of fantasy films absorbed into its plot, from the likes of Raiders of the Lost Ark to Jules Verne’s 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea and Journey to the Center of the Earth, to Ray Harryhausen fantasy classics, King Solomon’s Mines and Tomb Raider, and even Harry Potter and Tolkien’s Middle-earth stories.

It all begins with the cast, and in particular the chemistry between the always cool and confident actor who looks born to play superheroes, Jason Momoa as Arthur Curry, and Amber Heard as a beautiful grown-up Ariel turned badass named Mera, who may be the best realized heroine from the comics in the DC universe.  Aquaman director James Wan (Furious 7) does something rare for the superhero genre and forms his film around a romance between the two as they embark on a quest across the planet for the legendary trident of King Atlan, first king of the earliest water-breathers living under the sea.  Wan makes that happen more successfully than other DC romances of the past, including even Clark Kent and Lois Lane.  What is not lost on the small screen is the CGI-heavy undersea universe, but this time a film is CGI-heavy in a good, exciting way (Aquaman knocks the much lauded CGI film Avatar out of the water in every way).  Atlanteans riding sea horses, sharks, whales, and turtles.  Aquaman and Mera hiding out inside a whale, Pinocchio-style.  The film hits its visual zenith with a giant Kraken-like beast with an appearance as awesome as seeing Godzilla for the first time.  The visuals have all the imagination and colorful execution that makes for a rewatchable film, and the score has a pounding synth feel, with a mixed vibe of Daft Punk from Tron: Legacy and Queen from Flash Gordon.

The home release is accompanied by 15 behind-the-scenes features.  The best has Dolph Lundgren explaining the connections between key characters and concepts in the comic books with the portrayal in the film, in Going Deep Into the World of Aquaman.  You get a feel for how energetic and how fun Jason Momoa is in real life in Becoming Aquaman and A Match Made in Atlantis.  Details of how the director expanded on the comics and where he mixed Kaiju and historical sea stories can be found in James Wan: World Builder.  Heroines of Atlantis will leave viewers convinced future films in the series need more women characters, with only two to speak of in this film.  Other features include Aqua Tech, Atlantis Warfare, Black Manta, Villainous Training, Kingdoms of the Seven Seas, Creating Undersea Creatures, three Scene Study Breakdowns (the Sicily battle, the early submarine attack, and the underwater trench climax), and a sneak preview of Shazam.

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It’s a member of the exclusive clubhouse of the greatest year of movies–1982.  In a summer that gave us E.T., the Extra-Terrestrial, Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan, Blade Runner, Poltergeist, and John Carpenter’s The Thing, Disney’s groundbreaking Tron is a great movie, and it stands the test of time as a unique science fiction classic.  For a movie fan, if you were stuck in a time warp you could hardly find a better place to be than 1982.  Getting noticed in a year of movies like Conan the Barbarian, Rocky III, First Blood, Tootsie, The Secret of NIMH, The Last Unicorn, Night Shift, The Man from Snowy River, Tex, and Fast Times at Ridgemont High, was no small feat.  Tron sees the 35th anniversary of its release this week.  A cinematic milestone?  Of course.  A must-see classic?  Absolutely.  Better still, you can view Tron in a more vibrant and detailed clarity than how you may have viewed it in a local 1982 movie theater thanks to an updated 2011 Blu-ray release.

For those not involved in the computing world in the early 1980s, Tron first introduced audiences to programming terms like the Master Control Program (MCP), random access memory (RAM), and the idea of avatars.   It introduced us to light cycles, an early CG home run–even decades before quality 3D or IMAX–viewers were ducking and dodging in their seats as opponents exploded into the walls of the Grid.  Identity discs brought to life what were only blips on the screen in the “real” world, and we cringed as Flynn took a step too close and almost fell off the game rings.  No other film since looks like Tron, not even its big budget 2010 sequel Tron: Legacy or its 2012 animated series Tron: Uprising.  Its backlight animation worked amazingly well for our first entry into a world we hadn’t seen before.  Video games were just beyond the stage of blip games like Pong.  It was a time before the Atari 2600.  It was in this world that director Steven Lisberger was able to film Bruce Boxleitner as Alan Bradley aka Tron and Jeff Bridges as programmer/hacker/high scorer Flynn in a complex blue-black and white costume and fill in the details in post-production and place them in a brilliantly colored, infinitely tiny, futuristic universe.  The look was both retro to an almost 1940s vision of the future and yet also it pushed ahead, way ahead, to some future we will never really meet.  Just look at this futuristic, visionary image from early in the film where Bridges plays an avatar of his real world character–well before anyone knew what an avatar was:

And the story works.  Tron offers a one-of-a-kind and unreal world where, in the classic sci-fi style of The Fly, you can be teleported to someplace not outside but deep within this world, where Flynn tries to understand his new world of the Users, to fight to survive with identity disk battles and light cycle races, and to get home.  Boxleitner, who would get far less screen time than Jeff Bridges, provided an understated hero for a generation of kids.  David Warner (Time After Time, Star Trek V, VI, Star Trek: The Next Generation), the best actor to play a villain in any franchise, also played a dual role as Dillinger and the MCP, giving movies one of its all-time best villains, and adding yet another perfect genre performance to Warner’s portfolio.  Caddyshack’s Cindy Morgan as Lora/Yori, Dan Shor as the ill-fated RAM, and Barnard Hughes as Dumont all created memorable supporting characters (plus master stuntman Vince Deadrick, Jr. (Iron Man, True Grit, Star Trek Enterprise, Fletch, Romancing the Stone) to boot).

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cyclotron

If you happened to watch the men’s or women’s cycling races at this year’s Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, you know cycling can be exciting (and dangerous!).  We don’t know if the latest technology in cycling will result in top racing speeds, but the coolest design we’ve seen since the Montague Hummer folding bicycle was introduced in 2002 is the new Cyclotron.  The hubless “smart bike” is inspired by the Tron video game, especially the lightcycle style from the 2010 movie Tron: Legacy.  If only it came with a Daft Punk helmet!

The Cyclotron is the idea of a company called Cyclotron Cycles, and the result is a successful funding campaign with 132 backers that raised more than $50,000 via Kickstarter this past July.  Funders are still welcome to participate, with bike order options between $1,330 for a 12-speed and $2,990 for the deluxe 18-speed model still available.  Not only is the design state-of-the-art, so are the extra features.

It’s made from ultra-lightweight “space grade carbon fiber” with spokeless, airless, 6,000 mile capable wheels that actually can store your groceries or supplies as you travel.  What?!?  The website has the details.  The Cyclotron has an electronic gear box and chainless drive train.  Integrated smart lights and Halo LED wheels will make you visible at night like no other bike (and you’ll look very cool, too).  It has a bike laser lane projector to alert those around you.  And if you don’t like the futuristic lightcycle look (gasp)–they offer decals to change the look altogether.

cyclotron-to-the-grocery-store

Check out the Cyclotron in action:

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TRON banner

A familiar universe awaits fans of TRON.  Derived from the look and feel of TRON: Legacy, Disney’s 2010 sequel to 1982’s original sci-fi classic TRON, Disney Games has released TRON RUN/r, a new runner game with spectacular visuals and a cool and exciting soundtrack.   It’s the next iteration of TRON following the Emmy Award-winning animated television series TRON: Uprising.

Return to the world of TRON with TRON RUN/r, a new lightning-fast, action-adventure runner with a twist!  Blaze through dynamic circuits, face off against adversaries, and hone your DISC and CYCLE skills on 32 levels.  Then, challenge friends to the grueling STREAM program that will test you with endless combinations of modes and levels!  How long will you survive?

tron-run-r-screenshot-6

The story of TRON began as a video game, so it’s a natural evolution for the franchise to dip back into its roots, so you can imagine playing the game back at Flynn’s arcade.

TRON vid

Take a look at these trailers for the game and see for yourself:

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Ant-Man and Antony

Review by C.J. Bunce

Good movies often ride on the backs of their earlier incarnations.  The Incredible Shrinking Man.  The Greatest American Hero.  Beetlejuice.  Innerspace.  Memoirs of the Invisible Man.  Honey, I Shrunk the Kids.  The classic original Tron.  Sources you might not first think of like Wallace & Gromit’s The Wrong Trousers. Even Thoreau’s Walden (who hasn’t marveled at the coordinated work of ants, or fantasized about being very small?).  Marvel’s new hit Ant-Man borrows bits and pieces from all of these and more.  Yet it also adds something new to those, such as improved special effects, including make-up, CGI, and many action sequences.  It mirrors our place in the big world.  Throw in a hero battling a giant spider with a nail for a sword and I’m sold.

Ant-Man is a rollercoaster ride.  All fun and not too serious like the steadfast captain America arguing with the cocky Tony Stark over the roll of the disinterested Bruce Banner that we all have now seen too many times on screen.  Paul Rudd’s heroic Scott Lang has one motivation, yet he lacks the typical superhero ingeniousness to accomplish his goal.  That element endears the character to everyone and is the gateway to an ensemble cast effort that pushes the story forward.  You just know Lang is like Rudd, that same guy we cheer along with at Kansas City Royals games.

Michael Douglas looking 25 years younger in Ant-Man

Equal to Rudd’s role is a surprisingly strong performance by Michael Douglas.  Looking like the twin of his father Kirk these days, as Dr. Hank Pym he anchors the film with gravitas.  His role in the story is substantial and should require sharing top billing as co-lead.  His work here rivals all his prior best work in The Game, The Ghost and the Darkness, The American President, Falling Down, Wall Street, Romancing the Stone, The China Syndrome, and Coma.  An Academy Award nod is warranted for both Douglas as well as the CGI team that provided the single best use of facial modification to replicate his younger self (done in part by firm Lola VFX who made skinny Steve Rogers in Captain America: The First Avenger).  Tron: Legacy made a good attempt at what Ant-Man has perfected in its opening scene–we’re now ready for an entire film using this approach, an entire film starring a 40-year-old Wall Street era Douglas, for example, relying on the acting prowess of the veteran actor today.

Lang and Pym Ant-man

Evangeline Lilly’s role as Pym’s daughter is secondary, yet her role supports enough of the backstory that it makes us anxious for Ant-Man 2, previewed in two of the film’s end-credit codas.  Michael Peña portrays what could be an over-used stock Latino criminal by bringing some humanity and humor to the role.  Even the villain, played by Law & Order: LA’s Corey Stoll, is interesting although more loathsome than needed for the part.

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RoboCop and OldmanReview by C.J. Bunce

If you’re a fan of the 1987 Paul Verhoeven science fiction classic RoboCop starring Peter Weller, you might have decided to avoid the reboot showing in theaters this month.  But if you skip the new RoboCop, you’ll be missing out on a great sci-fi vision realized with a stellar cast and cutting edge special effects.  Where recent remakes of classic sci-fi movies didn’t equal the original, as with Tron: Legacy, or completely missed the mark, as with Total Recall or Man of Steel, RoboCop manages to meet or exceed the original in almost every way.

Fundamentally, the original RoboCop is lauded for its social commentary on media, capitalism, and authoritarianism.  The new film hits all of these areas head-on in light of the changing realities of the 21st century.  This begins with a failed, televised peacekeeping mission in Tehran with the giant EV-109 robots (similar to the two-legged walkers in the original film)–predecessors to both the robot/android cops, and later to the man-in-the-machine RoboCop, played by relative newcomer Joel Kinnaman.  Timely elements help bring the storyline into the 21st century, like Detroit’s closed circuit surveillance grid, which makes the RoboCop effective, and parallels the current real-world controversy surrounding drones for spying.

Robocop tehran

The supporting characters are pulled from the headlines, too.  Michael Keaton’s leader of Omnicorp is the typical entrepreneurial Wall Street “big corporation” CEO you’d expect, and Samuel L. Jackson’s talking head Pat Novak might as well have been an impersonation of Fox’s Bill O’Reilly (with some Stephen Colbert dramatics thrown in).

Where Peter Weller’s RoboCop was all machine with little soul, Joel Kinnaman’s version gets to flesh-out (literally) the physical and emotional journey from man to cyborg, in a way touched on in Jake Gyllenhaal’s equally riveting Source Code, but not otherwise fully explored on film before now.  If rumors become reality of Leonardo DiCaprio playing a big-screen version of Bionic Man’s Steve Austin, it will be difficult for audiences to avoid comparisons with this RoboCop, as the stories of both Alex Murphy and Steve Austin have many mirrored origin story scenes that unfold over the course of the film.  This includes a nice performance by Gary Oldman in a superb take on The Six Million Dollar Man’s Dr. Rudy Wells.

Joel Kinnaman;Gary Oldman

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Inside Llewyn Davis

The Coen Brothers have never made a movie on my favorites list since Raising Arizona, although No Country for Old Men had a lot going for it with great acting by Josh Brolin and Kelly MacDonald.  And I’m probably the only person on earth that isn’t a fan of Fargo.  But a story about the 1960s New York folk music scene might entice me to check out the Coens’ new StudioCanal period flick Inside Llewyn Davis.

The Coens are great at selecting key character actresses and using genre favorite Carey Mulligan in another period film seems to be a great choice as the love interest of what seems to be the stereotypical brooding, misunderstood musician, the title character played by Oscar Isaac.  Isaac has appeared in Robin Hood and The Bourne Legacy, but this is clearly his big leading man break.  Who doesn’t want to be in a movie with Bob Dylan singing the background music?

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No doubt Oscar Pistorius’s unprecedented entry and run in the Olympics this weekend will go down as a highlight of these games.  The first person to bridge the Summer Olympics and the Paralympics, clad in neither bionic nor cyborg prosthetics but walking “blades” certified to give no advantage to him against other runners, South African runner Pistorius gave a competitive go of it in his 440 meter semi-final track event.  Truly he’s an inspiration to everyone, disabled or not.

So in honor of the closest person we’ve found to a real-life borg Olympian, we are presenting this list of the ten most interesting sci-fi or fantasy sports we’d like to see in a future Olympics.  In whittling down this list we have eliminated motor sports or the like, so no pod racing or light cycle races (but we’ll make an exception for broomsticks).  We also found far too many gladiator events in classic sci-fi, going back to the original Star Trek’s “Gamesters of Triskelion” and “Bread and Circuses” battles to Star Trek Voyager’s Seven of Nine vs. The Rock arena combat called Tsunkatse, to the combat in Mad Max: Beyond Thunderdome, which continues on this year in genre shows like Bo’s battle to the death in Lost Girl.  So we’ll skip those for this round.  Most of our games reflect a possible evolution of today’s games and come from sci-fi TV or movies, but we just had to throw some fantasy events into the mix for good measure.  So here goes:

Updating who knows what Olympic sportsParrises squares (Star Trek: The Next Generation).  A future J.J. Abrams’ Star Trek reboot movie sequel really could do some good by showing us an actual Parrises squares match.  The often celebrated Star Trek universe game has been played by everyone from Tasha Yar to the EMH’s daughter on Voyager (who sadly, dies from a Parisses squares injury).  But all we have seen are the uniforms.  This barely makes our cut because we simply haven’t seen the game in action yet, yet the possibilities from what we’ve heard from Star Trek characters is enough to make it to the list.

Updating taekwondo and judoBat’leth and Mok’bara (Star Trek: The Next Generation).  In the episode “Parallels,” Worf returns to the Enterprise from a bat’leth tournament. Part of the plot revolves around whether he scored first or ninth place in the games.  He even has a nice trophy to show for it:

Mok’bara was Worf’s version of taekwondo, an elegant art of movement for the Klingon set.  Both of these are future martial arts we’d like to see added to the Olympic slate.

Updating fencingLightsaber dueling (Star Wars).  Ben Kenobi showed Luke he could practice his saber work without anyone getting hurt.  You can even perfect your skills with a floating spherical sparring partner.  Fencing uses foils, sabers or epees. Maybe lightsabers can be set to “stun”?  I can’t think of a more elegant sport for a civilized age.

Updating fencing, judo and taekwondoAnbo-jyutsu (Star Trek: The Next Generation and Star Trek Voyager).  We’ve only seen this played by Will Riker and his dad and B’Elanna Torres and Kes, but that was all we needed.  Cool uniforms and football-type padded gear, these guys really play hard.

Updating basketballPyramid/Triad (Battlestar Galactica), and Serenity basketball (Firefly).  Less elegant than martial art competitions, street sports like Pyramid/Triad and “Serenity basketball” (played in the episode “Bushwhacked”) allow everyone to get into the act with little upfront cost to play.  Even when the end of the world just happened, you can assemble a pick-up game of Pyramid, even on board a starship like the Galactica.

Serenity basketball seems to have less clear rules, but we’re sure it can factor in to a future Olympic event.

Updating hockeyRollerball (Rollerball).  The game itself really sold the movie.  Maybe we were cheering for James Caan because we still saw him as Brian Piccolo playing alongside Gail Sayers in Brian’s Song.  Nah… he’s just cool in everything.  What an intense action sport Rollerball would be in real life, and so much fun to watch in-person.  (And yes, we allowed this sport on our list even though they use motorcycles).

Updating triathlon, skiing and shootingJames Bond skiing (The Spy Who Loved Me, For Your Eyes Only, The World is Not Enough, with nods to Arnie in True Lies).  Good luck making it down the black diamond while someone is trying to throw you off balance.  We’d substitute blanks for bullets so our athletes can come back for more.  We saw a bit of this in an old Chevy Chase Saturday Night Live skit with the Olympics and Claudine Longet.  Not a lot of Olympic sports add the element of surprise like this “sport” could.

Updating discusIdentity discs (Tron, Tron: Legacy, and Tron: Uprising). Think discus but a bit more precarious, and we don’t even need a disc battle-to-the-death like in all the Tron live action and animated shows.  Just something that puts the thrower off balance as he’s trying to make a great throw, with the addition of a boomerang feature in the discus and two athletes throwing the blindingly lighted discuses at each other–so there’s some dodging required.

Updating rugby and soccerJump Ball (Starship Troopers).  You can’t beat a sport where men and women play along side each other on equal footing.  And Johnny Rico and his pals looked like they were having so much fun, too.  Part indoor football, and full contact, with cool gear–all that makes this one a game everyone would want to play and watch.

Updating rugby, polo, and basketballQuidditch (Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, etc).  Beyond the flying, Quidditch offers multiple goals and ways to win, and that puts this toward the top of our list of exciting otherworldly sporting events.  On the one hand it’s another form of “air hockey” (or “basketball on broomsticks with six hoops” as Harry calls it) where you have to get the ball in the goal, but with the addition of the trickier seeker’s job, viewers can choose which part of the game to watch—assuming someone can film all the details and project it on a nice jumbotron.  And like Jump Ball, boys and girls play together on the same team.  With neat equipment like the quaffle and bludgers and the zippy little golden snitch, who wouldn’t get excited about this kind of match?

So that’s it.  Cheers to Oscar Pistorius.  We hope he comes back for the next Olympics.

C.J. Bunce
Editor
borg.com

Review by C.J. Bunce

Tron is one of those franchises that has barely been tapped for its universe of potential stories about the Grid.  The original movie Tron followed Jeff Bridges’ character Flynn as he became sucked into the computer sphere, into the video game, Tron.  The graphic novel Tron: Betrayal smartly covered the events after the original film, to provide a segue into the new Grid universe in Tron: Legacy, a strange, cool, new world of the Grid on the big screen.  Tron: Legacy met Flynn again, this time an aged hermit-slash-guru, trapped for years as an outcast rebel leader, and his son, who enters the computer world to find him.  We got a brief glimpse of Tron’s real-world equivalent (Bruce Boxleitner, Chuck, Scarecrow & Mrs. King), but didn’t see much of Tron himself.  The excellent updated role play video game Tron: Evolution features even more of the new world, but not until now do we get what we’ve wanted all along, more Tron, and specifically more Boxleitner as Tron.  Unfortunately Tron isn’t the lead of the new animated weekly half-hour TV series on Disney XD, Tron: Uprising, but he gets an important key role as Jedi-like mentor to Elijah Wood’s young Padawan-esque character, Beck, years after the events of Tron: Legacy.  The story is one of persecution and revolution, and the whispered message across the Grid is “Tron lives.”

You’ll find plenty of parallels to Star Wars and other good science fantasy and science fiction, even cool references back to the original Tron movie itself, like the little floating diamond that repeated the word “yes” with nice comic timing.  And you’ll be hard pressed not to try to compare it to the Clone Wars animated series.  I think the art, sound, story, music, color, depth, movement and vibe leaves not only Clone Wars behind, but any other animated series that comes to mind, after watching the first three episodes broadcast yesterday and last Tuesday.  If there is any drawback it may be characters and producers still getting comfortable with the dialogue and techno-babble, but this may just get ironed out over the course of the series.  The other drawback is getting used to the string-bean thin and tall hero characters of this universe.  But those items are easily dismissed for all that is very cool in this series.

The best part may very well be the band Daft Punk’s soulful, hopeful, sometime dark, sometimes bright techno music that is borrowed from their unique and stunning score for the film Tron: Legacy and carefully and expertly edited into this series.  The thumping base line and synthesized strings at the right movements take you into this new world to the point you find the art direction and sound together creating a complete universe–and you will question whether this is a movie or a video game or an animated series.  Imagery of a classic Encom light cycle has glass-like mirror reflections of animated characters that looks like it could exist in the real world.  Water flows like real water, yet nicely done with a computerized edge to it as in the original Tron film.

And then you have Bruce Boxleitner as not an elder Tron so much as a mature Tron, leader and icon of this new uprising.  His character looks a bit like Boxleitner without the need for motion capture technology.  Elijah Wood’s Beck is young and impulsive.  Emmanuelle Chriqui’s Paige and Kate Mara’s Perl are cool, tough villains.  Tricia Helfer (Battlestar Galactica, Burn Notice) provides the perfect voice for the voiceover introductions as well as the voice of the Grid.  Lance Henriksen’s (Alien) Tesler is a slicker villain than Jeff Bridges’ motion capture computer-generated character Clu from Tron: Legacy.  And Paul Reubens’ voice is perfect for Tesler’s henchman.

You can’t forget the animation itself, and Disney has outdone itself here.  it looks like it must have taken years to developed this type of imagery.  Some scenes look they come from the best of Pixar’s achievements, including some that just establish setting, with little or no action, although the light cycle chase scenes are seemless and exciting as you’d hope for.

A great start for a great franchise!

Few actors have had the opportunity to explore as many diverse characters as David Warner.  As genre actor, Warner is frequently the choice for leading man villain roles, for his long face and ominous stature, but it is his powerful voice and slithery and sneering yet refined inflections that cause his words to echo years after you hear them.  He’s played classic roles like Henry VI and Hamlet and King Lear and even Bob Cratchit, he played a villain in the big budget movie Titanic and yet also narrated a Winnie the Pooh movie.  He’s performed opposite Vanessa Redgrave, Gregory Peck, Jason Robards, and Anthony Quinn, and also opposite Steve Martin and the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.  And since his debut in 1963 he has guest-starred in a variety of series ranging from Remington Steele and Hart to Hart to the Father Dowling Mysteries and Tales from the Crypt, to Murder She Wrote and The Outer Limits.  In 50 years he has portrayed upwards of 200+ characters in as many productions.

But we love him best for his sci-fi, fantasy, superhero and costume adventure roles.  Take a look at the various major franchises where Warner has left his mark:

TOM JONES (1963).  In David Warner’s screen debut he played the conniving Blifil, out to destroy the wily an dashing Tom, played by Albert Finney, and win over Tom’s love interest, played by Susannah York.  From the very beginning we can see the kinds of roles Warner would be cast in.  As an 18th century squire’s son, Warner performed according to period style and manner, yet subtley dastardly and ungentlemanly.

THE OMEN (1976).  Warner played Keith Jennings, an unfortunate photo-journalist who becomes one of Damien’s victims, one of many roles for Warner as part of the horror genre.

TIME AFTER TIME (1979).  In director Nicholas Meyer’s critically acclaimed re-imagining of H.G. Wells’ Time Machine, Warner plays gentleman John Leslie Stevenson opposite Malcolm McDowell’s author and inventor H.G. Wells.  Or is he such a gentleman?  As the most loathsome and recounted villain in history, Warner’s take on Jack the Ripper as 19th century murderer-turned-time traveller let loose in modern times is picture perfect.

TIME BANDITS (1981).  As the all powerful epitome of evil genius, the Evil Genius, in the silly Terry Gilliam film Time Bandits, Warner plays it completely straight, giving gravity to his performance and legitimacy to the entire film.

TRON (1982).  For a subset of kids who were 10 to 12 years old in 1982, David Warner’s Sark was every bit as cool a bad guy as Darth Vader.  Warner played three roles in Tron, Ed Dillinger, executive of ENCOM, Sark, the red master of the soldiers in the computer world of The Grid, and the voice of Sark’s own master, the frightening and lifeless Master Control Program.  Sark’s viciousness and lack of concern for anyone but himself was Warner at his best.

STAR TREK V: THE FINAL FRONTIER (1989).  In Warner’s first foray into the Star Trek universe Warner proved he could play not only high class evil but also a character who was outright smarmy.  Hypnotized by Laurence Luckinbill’s mystic Vulcan Sybok, Warner’s St. John Talbot represents Starfleet stuck at the arse-end of the universe.

TWIN PEAKS (1991 ).  As the conniving Thomas Eckhardt, Warner managed to carve out a memorable role in the middle of the strangest band of characters ever to hit the TV screen.  Although a lot of his character’s cunning occurred off-screen and in back story, onscreen Warner revealed a sinister affair with his former protegé, Josie Packard, including the assassination of his former business partner, Mister Packard.

STAR TREK VI:  THE UNDISCOVERED COUNTRY (1991).  In another Nicholas Meyer film and Warner’s second Star Trek work, Warner is stunning as the Abraham Lincoln of the Klingon Empire.  With a new Klingon regal look and flanked by fellow Shakespearean thespian Christopher Plummer as Chang, Warner’s Chancellor Gorkon by all appearances was a typical Klingon warrior, but at a dinner with the crew of the Enterprise we learned that a Klingon could upstage the would-be heroes of the Star Trek universe, making them look like a group of backwoods hicks.  Acting against type, Warner’s martyred leader died trying to bring the Federation and Klingons together, and Warner’s sincerity made us care, and his characterization in turn flipped our view of the Federation upside down.

STAR TREK: THE NEXT GENERATION (1992).  Returning to the drippingly sinister, pure evil of Warner’s performances as Jack the Ripper and Sark, Warner’s Cardassian interrogator Gul Madred was the only villain except The Borg to have bested Captain Jean-Luc Picard, in the two-part Next Generation episode “Chain of Command.”  Gul Madred pulls no punches torturing Picard, even after his own people require Picard to be returned to Starfleet.  I see three lights!

LOIS & CLARK: THE NEW ADVENTURES OF SUPERMAN (1994).  Proving that TV audiences would accept David Warner in the same league as Marlon Brando, Warner was able to play Jor-El, Superman’s noble father who was savvy and smart enough to save his son from his planet’s oblivion despite violating the rule of law of Krypton.

BATMAN (Animated) (1992-1995).  In the DC Comics animated universe, Warner voiced the smooth talking terrorist Ra’s Al Ghul for several episodes of the series, locking in his continual casting for genre voice roles.

BABYLON 5 (1995). In Babylon 5, Warner portrayed Aldous Gajic, the brain wiping seeker of the Holy Grail who dies saving a younger character that he sees as a version of his former self.

SPIDER-MAN (Animated) (1995-1997).  Not one of his biggest roles for sure, Warner here was able to add the Marvel Comics franchise and one of Marvel’s greatest foes, Red Skull, to his list of accomplishments.

MEN IN BLACK (Animated) (1997-1999).  Here Warner played Alpha, a rogue Men in Black chief who had previously been Agent K’s friend and mentor.

TOTAL RECALL (TV) (1999).  As leading neurosurgeon Dr. Felix Latham, Latham works for Rekall and again Warner plays an assassinated character.  Or was he a clone?

STAR TREK: KLINGON ACADEMY (Video Game) (2000).  The video game includes some surprisingly good new footage of Warner and Christopher Plummer reprising their roles as Gorkon and Chang.

STAR WARS: FORCE COMMANDER (Video Game) (2000).  It is easy to picture Warner as Grand General Brashin, a viperous Grand Moff Tarkin type in this video game from the Star Wars universe.

HORATIO HORNBLOWER – MUTINY and RETRIBUTION (2001).  Returning to the costume adventure genre where Warner first got started, Warner played Captain James Sawyer in two installments of the brilliant and exciting Horatio Hornblower series from A&E.  Sawyer was the vile and cruel taskmaster of the HMS Renown.

PLANET OF THE APES (2001).  As Helena Bonham Carter’s ape’s white-haired father Senator Sandar, Warner showed that he is nowhere near finished amassing sci-fi film franchises.

DOCTOR WHO: UNBOUND (Audio) (2003 and 2008). Warner played the famous Doctor (an alternate Third Doctor, that is) opposite David Tennant, before Tennant was to play the 10th TV version of The Doctor, in the installment Sympathy for the Devil.  Warner reprised the role five years later in Masters of War.

DOCTOR WHO: DREAMLAND (Animated) (2009).  Warner played in the world of Doctor Who yet again as Lord Azlok, Lord Knight of the Imperial Viperox War Horde in this animated production.

And to wrap it up, at this link you will find a 10-minute feature involving Dillinger’s character from the original Tron, first appearing on the Tron: Legacy DVD release special features.  It has been suggested that this is a bridge for Warner to reprise his role as Dillinger and Sark in the sequel to Tron: Legacy.

We can only hope!

END OF LINE

C.J. Bunce

Editor

borg.com