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Tag Archive: Universal Pictures


We here at borg.com can’t be the only ones who are fans of time loops, and the folks at Universal Pictures must think the same thing.

This time around, time loops–the story trope featuring a repeat of time usually offering the protagonist an opportunity to fix the recent past–are going to be coming at you for Friday the 13th–October 13, 2017.  And unlike many horror movies that are pushed to a February release, this horror flick is being delivered when everyone wants to see it, right in time for Halloween.  Does this indicate it might be better than the average horror flick?  This next time looper comes on the heels of the teen mystery film Before I Fall, a release from January, which was preceded by last year’s sci-fi thriller, ARQ.  Before that, time loops were found in everything between Groundhog Day and Source Code, TiMER, Looper, and television shows Early Edition, Haven, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Eureka, The X-Files, Star Trek, and Xena–Warrior Princess.  Yes, we can’t get enough of the time loop.  Check out our previous discussions of time loops at borg.com here and here.

And this one has a throwback horror title–Happy Death Day–which is either the title of a bad slasher flick (Happy Birthday to Me, My Bloody Valentine) or just a clever title for the kind of throwback gore flick horrors fans are all over.  Which will it be?  Happy Death Day appears to be less like the time loops listed above and more like Tru Calling, the Final Destination film series, Donnie Darko, Haunter, and Butterfly Effect, at least as the time loop element is delivered.  You might recall Tru Calling was a weekly series starring Buffy the Vampire Slayer’s Eliza Dushku as she tried to save someone from dying each week via time loop.  The Final Destination films added the bloody violence while also attaching to a rollercoaster ride full of “oh, no, they didn’ts.”

Happy Death Day hails from director Christopher Landon, screenplay writer on horror films like Disturbia, Paranormal Activity 2, 3, and 4, and Scouts Guide to the Zombie Apocalypse.  It stars Jessica Rothe (La La Land) as the young woman who gets murdered, only to continue to get murdered in different ways by a creepy masked character no matter what she does to prevent it.  Unlike most modern horror flicks with the kind of production quality in the trailer, the film does not have a single known quantity actor to anchor the film.

Here is the first trailer for Happy Death Day:

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rogue

What a year!  The world’s a changing place and no less so than with the welcome onslaught of new movies, television shows, books, comics, and everything else that entertained us in 2016.  All year long we tried to keep up with the best of 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 annual Best of the Best list.  We watched all of nearly two dozen TV series, and enough of others to know we’d seen enough.  We watched dozens of new movies, reviewed more than three dozen books (and read even more), and kept up with dozens of comic book titles.  We witnessed the 75th anniversary of Wonder Woman, Green Arrow, Archie, and Captain America, the 50th anniversary of Star Trek and Charles Schulz’s Great Pumpkin, Rocky turned 40, and it was the 30th anniversary of Aliens and Labyrinth.  And the Cubs finally won the World Series.

Today we reveal the best genre content of 2016–with our top categories from movies and television Best Sci-Fi Fix, Best Fantasy Fix, Best Superhero Fix, Best Animated Fix, and Best Borg, followed by our Best in Movies picks.  The big winner was Rogue One, taking 13 spots, followed by Doctor Strange with three.  Come back later this week for our TV and print media picks, our special look at Kick-ass Heroines of 2016, followed by our annual borg.com Hall of Fame inductees.

sci-fi-fix

Best Sci-Fi Fix – Rogue One: A Star Wars Story (Lucasfilm).  Although the franchise is more space fantasy than science fiction, all the elements of the best sci-fi were crammed into Rogue One.  Epic space battles, aliens, and loads of sci-fi technology.  A compelling story.  We’re wagering this film will be a classic we go back to for years to come, upsetting Star Wars: The Force Awakens as the third best of the eight films in the series.  It’s everything a sci-fi fan could want.

huntsman2

Best Fantasy FixThe Huntsman: Winter’s War (Universal Pictures).  Like Rogue One it was a prequel that was also a sequel.  Better than the original Snow White and the Huntsman, this early 2016 release provided a high-fantasy story rooted in the classic fairy tale, rewarding viewers midway with a surprise change-up.  Three tough female leads, four brave (and funny) dwarves, two epic quests, a fairy tale romance, and elaborate costumes and sets made for a perfect fantasy film.

magnificent-seven-banner-2016

Best Superhero FixThe Magnificent Seven (MGM/Columbia Pictures).  When we first reviewed The Magnificent Seven we were surprised it had adapted the Yul Brynner version and Akira Kurosawa’s earlier Seven Samurai so well.  We were even more surprised at how well the cast, and cast of characters, worked together to create a true ensemble piece.  It rivaled every attempt by the studios to make a great superhero team-up, and, but for the Western garb and setting, it rates as the year’s best of the superhero genre.  Runner-up, a close contender for the win was the second appearance of Evan Peters as Quicksilver doing his speedster business slow-motion style again in X-Men: Apocalypse.

Stranger Things cast

Best Retro FixStranger Things (Netflix).  It’s a TV series that would have made a solid movie hit in 1982.  So many series appear unexpectedly these days with a full season ready to stream immediately.  Most demonstrate why they couldn’t cut it with the networks or a major cable channel.  Not so with some of Netflix’s series, especially the surprise hit Stranger Things.  With a nicely eerie soundtrack, title font, a Twin Peaks-meets Steven Spielberg coming of age film cul-de-sac for the setting, and  John Carpenter meets Stephen King vibe, it’s no wonder Stranger Things was the #1 talked about series this year.  Our favorite part, besides the young heroine of the show, was the attention to throwback clothes, toys, posters, and 1980s pop culture references.  It’s a series we’ll revisit in the future, and look forward to in its second season.

darth-vader

Best Borg/Best Movie Villain – Darth Vader (Rogue One: A Star Wars Story).  Darth Vader returned in his best scene of the franchise outside of The Empire Strikes Back in Rogue One: A Star Wars Story.  It wasn’t James Earl Jones’s return to voice one of the best villains in the history of cinema that grabbed us, but the full-on rampage Vader takes to pursue the stolen Rebel plans in the film’s finale.  Director (and lifelong Star Wars fan) Gareth Edwards gave fans exactly what they wanted, utilizing an impressive UK creature actor Spencer Wilding to do his bidding as the imposing Lord of the Sith.  We also got a peek at what little of the man remained years after his battle with Obi-Wan Kenobi.  We saw inside his cybernetic suit of armor via a scene featuring him floating in a bacta tank.  Darth Vader remains one of the greatest borgs of all time.

Want to know who we picked for best in effects, soundtrack, and best sci-fi, fantasy, comedy, and horror movies of the year?  Take a look after the cut…

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Jason Bourne

Universal Pictures has released a full-length trailer for Jason Bourne following up on the short teaser released Super Bowl weekend.  Unlike 2012’s last film in the franchise, The Bourne Legacy starring Jeremy Renner, Matt Damon is back for his fourth appearance as Bourne following 2002’s original The Bourne Identity, 2004’s The Bourne Supremacy, and 2007’s The Bourne Ultimatum. 

It will be a bit of a deja vu, as Julia Stiles is back in her third stint in the franchise.  The Bourne movies, based on Robert Ludlum’s books, are a lot like Tom Cruise in the Mission Impossible movies–after a while they all seem to run together.  We were fans of the first film, especially co-star Franka Potente (Copper, The Bridge, Dark Matter).

This time out, newly-minted Oscar winner Alicia Vikander joins the ranks of Bourne chasers, along with Oscar winner Tommy Lee Jones, and multiple Oscar nominee Albert Finney makes an appearance in the trailer.

jason bourne poster

So here it is, the trailer for the fifth film in the series, Jason Bourne:

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Everest movie poster

The more I see of Universal’s latest disaster movie, the more I think this one could be next year’s biggest Oscar nominee.  Next month’s IMAX release Everest looks even better in this new trailer released a few hours ago, better even than the first great preview.  If you’ve read Jon Krakauer’s Into Thin Air or any of the other accounts of the 1996 Everest disaster, no longer the biggest disaster in the history of the mountain, then you can’t help but cringe as each character that doesn’t make it off the mountain utter their lines.

If you know nothing about it, be prepared for a gut-twisting story that will leave you breathless–if director Baltasar Kormákur and writers William Nicholson and Simon Beaufoy can reflect the reality here that in this case, is greater than fiction.

One think to note about this preview is how cocky Jake Gyllenhaal appears.  He plays Scott Fischer, and Fischer, as well as the other guides who hiked that mountain multiple times were as cocky as anyone you can imagine–if the accounts of their lives match what we’ve read.  The bottom line?  The 1996 Everest was so harrowing and full of incredible stories that it’s going to be very difficult to screw up.

With an all-star cast including Gyllenhaal, Josh Brolin, Keira Knightley, Jason Clarke, Sam Worthington, and Robin Wright, and an IMAX production that looks so pristine and real, we’re in for something big.

Here’s the new trailer for Everest:

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M_Night_Shyamalan_The_Visit_movie_poster

The Sixth Sense, Signs, The Village, and The Happening.  The horror films of M. Night Shyamalan have helped define the director of unique cinema, for good or bad.  He manages to stay just “this side” of the wall between suspense and gore fest.  Except for The Sixth Sense he hasn’t managed to gain the kind of notoriety of other contemporary mega-directors, like Quentin Tarentino as an example.

Maybe he is more like Oliver Stone, carving out his own niche, with a distinct fan following.

But his next release now has its first trailer.  It doesn’t look like his earlier horror films, but appears equally creepy.

After the break, check out the first trailer for The Visit:

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Jurassic huh

At least if Jurassic World bombs we can’t accuse Amblin, Legendary, and Universal of false advertising.

This weekend the studios released the first film clip for the fourth film based on Michael Crichton’s bestselling novel Jurassic Park.  Normally that would be something to gravitate toward, but not so this time.  The clip features the show’s stars Chris Pratt and Bryce Dallas Howard with some over-long, stilted, outright boring dialogue.  For nearly two minutes.  And no dinosaurs.

We’d love to see the meetings where it was decided that this was the first clip to show audiences to showcase the movie.  Already plenty of viewers have slammed it on social media.  Even Avengers: Age of Ultron director Joss Whedon chimed in about the staid, sexist set-up on Twitter: “…and I’m too busy wishing this clip wasn’t 70’s era sexist. She’s a stiff, he’s a life-force – really? Still?”  And although it’s a bit odd for a director with a competing 2015 film so openly chiding another’s movie, he’s certainly right.

Here’s the clip:

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