Tag Archive: Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory


Review by C.J. Bunce

After its second week in theaters, Ready Player One is still chalking up sold-out screenings nationwide.  Whether or not you’re a video game fan, and whether or not you read Ernest Cline’s novel the film is based on, it’s a fun way to spend 2.5 hours.  Although his producer credits are hit-and-miss over the past few decades, director Steven Spielberg tends to take on films he loves, and handles them with due care.  Same goes for Ready Player One.  Along with his Oscar-nominated film The Post, Ready Player One proves there’s no slowing down for the director’s success in making good films.  Even if Ready Player One is not as great as the films from the 1980s that it honors (Spielberg’s choice to ignore references from his own films leaves a big, obvious gap throughout scene after scene), it’s a nice story, and a progression of the kind of coming-of-age story the director first created long ago with E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial.  Yet the backbone of the film doesn’t flow from the 1980s, but from a 1971 film classic: Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory, based on Roald Dahl’s 1964 book, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. 

In the year 2045, Wade Watts, played by Tye Sheridan (X-Men: Apocalypse), and a group of people he has only met as their avatars in a giant MMPORG (massively multiplayer online role-playing game) called OASIS, embark on a quest to solve the late OASIS founder’s puzzle in three steps, which would reward the winner with control of the OASIS and the hundreds of millions of dollars the company behind it (called IOI) is worth.  The big win is the authenticity of relationships between Sheridan and his co-stars, including Olivia Cooke (Bates Motel) as Art3mis (pronounced Artemis), Aech (sounds like the letter “H”) played by Lena Waithe (Master of None), Daito (Win Morisaki), and Sho (Philip Zhao) as they work together on their journey.  Cooke’s character comes alive as the high point of the film.  The villains are more textbook bad guys, led by Ben Mendelsohn (Rogue One: A Star Wars Story), with his hulking minion i-R0K (“I rock”) played by T.J. Miller (Deadpool), and a seriously underutilized Hannah John-Kamen as F’Nale.  i-R0K carries the bulk of the film’s best comedy lines.  Surprisingly the story misses the opportunity to give the viewer enough information to solve the three riddles of the film.  Instead we watch the characters move through a great big fictional world only they know about.  But the adventure is a good ride.  Look for Mark Rylance (Dunkirk) and Simon Pegg (Star Trek, Mission Impossible, Shaun of the Dead) as an interesting odd couple of Gates/Jobs-inspired visionaries.

Get ready for dizzying races and chases with the latest CGI and motion capture special effects–so much so that much of the movie feels like an animated movie.  We’ve come a long way from the 1980s version of the subject matter in Disney’s Tron–the first foray into a video game world.  But Ready Player One is similar in tone to Tron and another video game movie of the era, The Last Starfighter–all good family films with positive themes.  Here that’s the importance of community, leadership, and personal responsibility, and the negative side of new and emerging technologies like drones and having more than merely virtual social relationships.

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We first mentioned the movie Ready Player One six years ago in our review of the Ernest Cline novel here at borg.com. Warner Bros. kicked off San Diego Comic-Con with director Steven Spielberg showing the first teaser trailer for the movie. The audiobook, read by Wil Wheaton and currently available free here at Amazon with an Audible sign-up, has been a huge hit with fans, almost taking on a life of its own.  We saw the second trailer last December, and the Easter Eggs started to pile up.

Iron Giant, Freddy Krueger, the Back to the Future DeLorean.  Lots of references for gamers in particular.  Warner Bros. released the third and likely final trailer for the film this weekend.  VR is the theme this time around.

Ready Player One stars X-Men: Apocalypse’s Tye Sheridan, Black Panther’s Letitia Wright, Killjoys, Tomb Raider, Ant-Man and the Wasp, Game of Thrones, and Star Wars: The Force Awakens’ Hannah John-Kamen, Rogue One: A Star Wars Story’s Ben Mendelsohn, Star Trek and Star Wars’ Simon Pegg, and Bates Motel’s Olivia Cooke.

Here is the third trailer for Ready Player One, with a little help from Willy Wonka:

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Review by C.J. Bunce

You probably haven’t had this much fun watching a rollicking fantasy movie this cool since you first saw the 1980 Flash Gordon movie starring Sam Jones, Max Von Sydow, Melody Anderson, Timothy Dalton, and Brian Blessed, accompanied by that memorable Queen soundtrack.  It shouldn’t be hard to believe–seven weeks from its premiere and Thor: Ragnarok continues to sell-out theater screenings across the country.  In a year full of so many comic book adaptations, and great ones at that, from Logan and Logan Noir to Spider-man: Homecoming, Guardians of the Galaxy 2, and even The LEGO Batman Movie, this was a great year for comic books on film.  But Thor: Ragnarok rivaled them all from an entertainment standpoint.  In many ways Thor: Ragnarok is a natural progression from both the past Thor films and the entire Marvel Cinematic Universe.  But something about director Taika Waititi’s vision for Avengers Thor and Hulk in this latest film changed how the MCU can entertain.  Instead of focusing on the events that the earlier Marvel entries–and comic books–are best known for, events like Civil War, Waititi returned to the reason we all turn to superheroes for entertainment:  it’s because we like the characters.  The end of the world is coming for Asgard, three great villains are wreaking havoc for our heroes, but Taikiki does something novel.  He puts the setting where it belongs: in the background.  And so we get closer to Thor, Hulk, Loki, Valkyrie, and even Thor and Loki’s sister Hela, by watching them interact.  The result is a film that should be vying for the top spot with the likes of Iron Man, Captain America: The First Avenger, X-Men: Days of Future Past, Guardians of the Galaxy, Ant-Man, Logan, and Spider-man: Homecoming, on your comic book movie best-of shortlist.

Waititi really accomplished something difficult here.  It’s not often the third film in a series completely exceeds the prior films (although it’s certainly arguable Spider-man: Homecoming trounced four prior Spider-man movies).  The Incredible Hulk and Hulk were hardly comparable to Thor: Ragnarok as a Hulk movie (sans title only).  And Thor and Thor: The Dark World weren’t remotely as memorable as Thor: Ragnarok.  So what made it all come together?  Clever dialogue from a tight script for one.  And each actor needed no time to take their characters and march forward.  Chris Hemsworth’s cocky God of Thunder has always sported a humorous side, but partnered with Tom Hiddleston’s on-again, off-again baddie Loki, and a Bruce Banner after he’s stuck in “Hulk mode” for two years (played by Mark Ruffalo), Thor: Ragnarok is every bit the next Avengers team-up film–it may as well be called Avengers: Ragnarok.  It’s also a buddy comedy.  Why not?  In the comic books the serious and powerful characters of Hulk and Thor have always been less accessible than the rest so how better to reach audiences?  And why not take that most-comic book of tropes and let them have their hero battle in the ring?  Many comic book readers have been waiting for this film for a long time.

The entire art design and sound should be credited with the film’s success, too.  Classic Jack Kirby imagery and style can be found throughout the production design.  Funky psychedelic colors, lights, and imagery make this a fantasy film, as opposed to a superhero or sci-fi movie.  Action choreography appears like it’s torn from the panels of a comic book page.  Dazzling fantasy costumes by Mayes C. Rubeo (The Great Wall, John Carter, Avatar, The Librarian) include Cate Blanchett’s Hela destroyer outfit, Tessa Thompson’s Valkyrie/Scrapper 142 outfit, Idris Elba’s Heimdall in Robin Hood garb, and Karl Urban’s iridescent Scurge armor.  Music by Mark Mothersbaugh (The LEGO Movie, Lords of Dogtown, Fanboys, 21 Jump Street) includes audacious, sometimes triumphant, sometimes hilarious choices.  And Magic Sword’s “In the Face of Evil,” Led Zeppelin’s “Immigrant Song,” and Gene Wilder’s “Pure Imagination” from Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory, were simply inspired inclusions that made the characters and film exactly how we want these characters to look and feel: Cool.

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funko-playmobil

It has been nearly a year since we first reported here at borg.com on images from Toy Fair 2016 of Funko’s prototype Playmobil figures, a result of a new partnership of the toy companies that allows Funko to produce licensed Playmobil figures never before released.  The figures will not be the traditional size that is playable with the thousands of Playmobil playsets released over the past four decades, but a larger, double-sized six-inch tall figure.

Although initial projections indicated these figures would be released last summer, finally online toy dealer Entertainment Earth is now taking pre-orders for the first series of these figures, which include characters from Back to the Future, Doctor Who, Ghostbusters, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, and Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory.  You can also order a figure of Raphael from Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, available exclusively through Entertainment Earth.

fourth-doctor     willy-wonka

All have great sculpts and sport appropriate hats, scarves, sonic screwdrivers, proton packs, gauntlets, and other accessories.  Click on any of the images (above and after the cut) to learn more and pre-order your favorites from Entertainment Earth:

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Earlier this season Hollywood Treasure, Syfy Channel’s “reality” series about auction house Profiles in History, featured the Dreier family collection of screenused props, costumes and nostalgic toys.   Back in June we reported that the auction house had announced the first part of the Dreier collection would hit the auction block July 28.  Chad Dreier and son Doug had amassed a broad collection of costumes and props after Chad’s company Ryland Homes was successfully turned into a multi-billion dollar enterprise. The collection itself covers a lot of bases of primarily movies from 2000 onward, with some key pieces from the 1970s and 1980s.  Saturday the first part of the collection resulted in a few good buys but mainly showed that the economy is doing fine for those with a lot of money.

So how did the lots that borg.com projected as key pieces fare?

First off was an exquisite original Chewbacca head/mask from the original Star Wars.  It had an auction estimate of $60,000 to $80,000 and I expected this would sell for at least triple that. Profiles called this “the finest screen-correct Chewbacca costume head from the Star Wars trilogy known to exist.”  So was I right?  The sale price including fees was $172,200.  Almost three times the estimate.  But this was an exception as most items in the auction sold in-line with auction estimates.

The Dreiers appeared to purchase everything they could get their hands on related to Gene Wilder’s Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory from 1971. Their collection includes Wilder’s key outfit and hat and a bunch of lesser known but recognizable props and production ephemera. Wilder’s hat was expected to fetch between $20,000 and $30,000 and the costume $60,000 to $80,000.    The hat sold for $33,825  and the costume for $73,800.  An Oompa Loompa costume carried an estimate of $6,000 to $8,000.  Selling for $30,750, it showed how popular these characters still are today.

A Bob Keeshan costume from the 1960s had an estimate of $30,000 to $50,000.  It sold for $36,900.

An easily identifiable jacket of the type worn by Matthew Broderick as Ferris Bueller carried an estimate of $20,000 to $30,000.  It sold for $36,900.

The Dreiers were also fans of Christopher Reeve’s Superman from 1978.  One of the hero Reeves suits expected to sell between $60,000 to $80,000.  It sold for $79,850.  We featured the rarer costume worn by his father Jor-El, played by the great Marlon Brando, in our Comic-Con coverage here.

It had the same estimate as the Reeve suit, and sold similarly at $73,800.  Both fell in line with expectations.

The auction catalog cover featured an original set of cylon armor from Battlestar Galactica.  The suit carried an auction estimate of $40,000 to $60,000.  It sold for $46,125.

This outfit from the original series had an auction estimate of $12,000 to $15,000.  It sold for $17,220.

We also reported on this slick Wolverine costume in our Comic-Con coverage.  It had an estimate of $25,000 to $50,000 and sold for $49,200.

One sleeper item I noted was the original comic art for the Battlestar Galactica oversized comic book. With an estimate at only $2,000 to $3,000, I expected it to exceed $10,000.   Although it sold over its estimate, it didn’t make my prediction, selling at $4,305.

One other key piece sold at Profiles Saturday of note–a complete Star Trek: The Next Generation mannequin and costume of The Borg.  It was not ever for sale at auction before Profiles auctioned it in a recent auction of ex-Paley costumes, but was created by Michael Westmore’s actual production team for a museum collection once owned by The Paley Center.  It had an auction estimate of $8,000 to $12,000 and sold for just under $16,000.  I know of only three of these that are almost entirely complete and have heard a fourth example exists, but know of only one other complete from-head-to-toe version like this one.  These are the classic costumes of The Borg, not the later costumes that have deterioration problems and don’t look half as cool as these versions from “Best of Both Worlds” and “Descent”.  So it is awesome that one of these has surpassed prices for Star Trek captain uniforms, including, as in this auction, a Captain Picard costume worn by Patrick Stewart himself, which sold for $13,530.

Congratulations to the new owners of these great pieces of entertainment memorabilia!

C.J. Bunce
Editor
borg.com

Earlier this season Hollywood Treasure, Syfy Channel’s “reality” series about auction house Profiles in History, featured the Dreier family collection of screenused props, costumes and nostalgic toys.  Now the auction house has announced the first part of the Dreier collection will be auctioned off, scheduled for July 28, 2012.

Chad Dreier and son Doug amassed a broad collection of costumes and props after Chad’s company Ryland Homes was successfully turned into a multi-billion dollar enterprise.  The collection itself covers a lot of bases of primarily movies from 2000 onward, with some key pieces from the 1970s and 1980s.  There is not a lot of focus to the collection–the Dreiers seemed to acquire several mid-range pieces from movies as opposed to going for the key hero piece from any particular film.  For whatever reason they stopped midstream, and the result is that many buyers will be able to fill in their collections from a wide range of productions.

The key pieces?

First off there is an exquisite original Chewbacca head/mask from the original Star Wars.  I could be wrong but it looks just like one that circulated the Planet Hollywood theme restaurant chain before they went bankrupt and sold off their collection via Profiles and other outlets.  It has an auction estimate of $60,000 to $80,000 and I expect this will sell for at least triple that.  Profiles calls this “the finest screen-correct Chewbacca costume head from the Star Wars trilogy known to exist.”  I’d guess George Lucas’s Skywalker Ranch has one or two just as nice, but the statement is probably not far from the truth.  For everyone’s favorite lovable Star Wars hero, some folks with big pockets will duke it out for this crown jewel.  Some background original series weapons and prequel lightsabers are up for auction, too.

The Dreiers appeared to purchase everything they could get their hands on related to Gene Wilder’s Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory from 1971.  Their collection includes Wilder’s key outfit and hat and a bunch of lesser known but recognizable props and production ephemera.  Annoyingly his hat and costume are being auctioned separately; the hat is expected to fetch between $20,000 and $30,000 and the costume $60,000 to $80,000.  An Oompa Loompa costume has an estimate of $6,000 to $8,000.

A Bob Keeshan costume from the 1960s has an estimate of $30,000 to $50,000.  If you’re like me you grew up with Keeshan in his nearly 40 year run as Captain Kangaroo.  No Mr. Green Jeans?

An easily identifiable jacket of the type worn by Matthew Broderick as Ferris Bueller carries an estimate of $20,000 to $30,000.

The Dreiers were also fans of Christopher Reeve’s Superman from 1978.  More interesting than one of the hero Reeves suits expected to sell between $60,000 to $80,000 is the rarer costume worn by his father Jor-El, played by the great Marlon Brando.

Although the estimate for the silver blingy Brando costume is the same as for Reeve’s supersuit, if legend status is any indication, expect the Brando to go the way of contemporary Marilyn Monroe’s costumes last summer.  Despite some four-figure estimates, expect some Christopher Reeve Clark Kent suits and kryptonite to reach five figures–screen-matched kryptonite doesn’t come up for auction every day.

The cover piece is an original set of cylon armor from Battlestar Galactica.  Whether or not you liked the original series, you cannot deny how neat the original cylons looked in 1979.  The suit carries an auction estimate of $40,000 to $60,000.  Equally cool, and a nice jewel for some sci-fi TV fan, will be the Colonial Warrior costume from that series.

In particular, the helmet is a great looking piece, and if you watch the TV series Psych, you’ll have seen a colonial helmet as a story element in the entertainment memorabilia episode starring Buffy the Vampire Slayer’s real-life hubby Freddie Prinz, Jr. as a mega-sci-fi collector.

Iconic for sure.  The lot carries an estimate of $12,000 to $15,000.  (Profiles is also auctioning off a Geordi LaForge visor from Star Trek: The Next Generation!).

Many of the items are familiar, having sold in other recent Profiles auctions.  Look for a quarter scale Batmobile from Batman Returns as well as a deteriorating Batsuit worn by Michael Keaton. The auction includes several X-Men outfits and props, including Wolverine and his claws, Magneto, Cyclops, Storm, and Rogue.  For recent films they carry pretty hefty five-figure estimates (except Rogue), but I’d expect the Wolverine to sell for a high amount as the standout of the franchise.  Other costumes and props have been seen recently at auction but may be interesting to some bidders (and are certainly just fun to browse through in the catalog), including pieces from Star Trek, such as familar borgs Seven of Nine, Data in First Contact-style uniform, and a Next Generation member of The Borg as well as a Klingon warrior, also pieces from the Indiana Jones movies, Austin Powers, The Hunt for Red October, G.I. Joe, Gladiator and Dances with Wolves.

One sleeper item of note is the original comic art for the Battlestar Galactica oversized comic book.  With an estimate at only $2,000 to $3,000, expect this full color beauty to easily exceed $10,000.  This comic book is likely to tug at the nostalgia of many a kid from the 1970s.  Every other kid I knew had this comic book–it was published and reprinted several times–and who wouldn’t want to own the original cover art now?

For those with smaller budgets, some great toy lots from Star Wars, Pez, and G.I. Joe are being auctioned, too.

Happy bidding!

C.J. Bunce
Editor
borg.com