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New SPECTRE poster

A lovely dinner party?  Pity I wasn’t invited.

James Bond hasn’t looked any cooler.  Well at least since Sean Connery played him in his white dinner jacket and red carnation.  Or wait, until Roger Moore sported the white dinner jacket.  Well, Bond is back in the nice white digs again as Daniel Craig is featured in the latest poster for the next Bond flick, SPECTRE, which features this classic Bond look as seen in Goldfinger, Octopussy, The Man With the Golden Gun, and Diamonds Are Forever.

And he’s carrying his signature Walther PPK pistol.

That guy in the background is pulled from the signature spectacle opening action scene, which this time round takes place at a Dia De Los Muertos or Day of the Dead festival in Mexico.  Expect Bond to be running after someone along the parade route before you’ve had your first handful of popcorn.

Goldfinger Bond

Check out this SPECTRE vlog of the behind the scenes production of the opening scene:

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Star Wars new banner

Just go ahead and take all our money, Lucasfilm.

Force Friday has begun–the official launch of literally hundreds of toys and collectibles from Star Wars: The Force Awakens, which does not open until December 18, 2015.  But if you know the Star Wars brand, you know it is probably what Star Wars will be known for decades from now:  a powerhouse of making money off its films and characters.

If you were asleep at midnight this morning, you can still get everything you missed online now.  You’ll find your best deals for more than 200 new toys available at Entertainment Earth starting today at this link.

Want to find more great deals on anything and everything from Episode VII?  Check out this link here to all the Star Wars: The Force Awakens products at Amazon.com.

Target kicked off Force Friday with midnight openings in 207 stores nationwide and will continue into Saturday, September 5 with photo ops, giveaways and toy demos.

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The coolest offering?  Probably the remote control BB-8 sphere droid by Sphero available for about $149 now for pre-order at Entertainment Earth here–that little roly-poly fella sneaking around in the theatrical previews that was based on an idea from George Lucas’s original sketches for the first movie.  Check out the YouTube video of it in action below.  It’s in the $150 range.  Don’t confuse this with the version from Hasbro that is a target exclusive for half the price–still a fun toy but without all the bells and whistles.

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League of Regrettable Superheroes

This summer Quirk Books released an interesting look at the obscure side of comic books with The League of Regrettable Superheroes.  Cartoonist and graphic designer Jon Morris delved into the archives of Digital Comic Museum and Comic Book Plus to locate oddities from the Golden Age of comics to modern times.

Morris showcases 100 of these characters, many that only survived one issue of a long forgotten publication.  You’ll meet Invisible Scarlet O’Neil, Ghost Patrol, Moongirl, and even Nightmare and Sleepy.  Sprinkled with interesting facts from the comic book world, Morris includes plenty of trivia.  One character way ahead of her time– Spider Queen seems to have had all the powers Spider-man would maintain, yet she predated him in comics by 20 years.  Other entries are curious selections, like Rom the Spacenight–star of a pretty popular series in the early 1980s that had a sizable fan base.

You’ll see plenty of examples of full color covers and interior art from the characters represented, as well as characters created by legends in comics like Will Eisner, Gil Kane, C.C. Beck, Neal Adams, Herb Trimpe, and Joe Simon, whose other characters would become much more well known.

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By C.J. Bunce

One hundred and thirteen years ago this month, film audiences saw a bright future for the very first time.

The science fiction film was the French classic Le Voyage dans la lune, or A Trip the the Moon, created by science fiction special effects and animation pioneer George Méliès, who modern film audiences may know as one of the heroes of Martin Scorcese’s Academy Award-nominated film Hugo.  The famous scene in A Trip to the Moon where the rocketship blasts into the Man in the Moon’s eye is a classic bit of film nostalgia, the full 14-minute film based on two classic works: Jules Verne’s From the Earth to the Moon, and H.G. Wells’s The First Men in the Moon.  You can’t have a better science fiction pedigree than A Trip to the Moon.  But the first science fiction film available in color?

The Victorian era meets the future in this scene from the 1902 color film A Trip to the Moon

Film enthusiasts for literally a century were aware that A Trip to the Moon was originally released in theaters not in the typical black and white that monopolized film into the 1960s, but in color.  But how could that be?  The story was a secret treasure of sorts, that stayed hidden until 1993, when a film collector revealed the sole remaining color copy of the 1902 film in Barcelona.  The 13,375 frames of decomposed material was practically worthless until film preservationist Serge Bromberg found a way to catch the photographed images when the material was deposited with a special chemical vapor.  Every day for two years his staff worked through each frame, and in 2010 digital technology had come so far as to allow the preservationists to re-build the film at Technicolor’s laboratories in Los Angeles, using a $500,000 grant from French film foundations.  The result was revealed to audiences at the Cannes Film Festival three years ago.

Film pioneer Georges Méliès mixed stunning color animation and special effects in this view of the future of travel in A Trip to the Moon

But before the film was revealed, a matter of sound arose.  The original film was created before the concept of the talkie, or even the playing of music to accompany the film.  No score had ever been created for A Trip to the Moon.  The same foundations that had financed the restoration selected the French band Air to compose a 16-minute soundtrack for the film.  Because the homegrown film was considered by the French to be so revered as a national treasure, musicians Nicolas Godin and Jean-Benoit Dunckel were themselves elevated to celebrity status.  After completion of the soundtrack, Air began composing a full musical score expanding on the themes they created for the film.  Their sound is both futuristic and modern, and has been compared to their influences: Pink Floyd, spaghetti Western composer Ennio Morricone, and the bands Vangelis and Tangerine Dream.

But where does the 3D fit in?

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We last saw Wesley Snipes in this year’s better than you’d expect sequel The Expendables 3.  Snipes has a history of being the coolest guy in the room going back to Passenger 57, Rising Sun, and Demolition Man.   He’s giving his famous tagline “always bet on black” a new spin in his next venture as a high stakes gambler in NBC’s new series The Player.  Only this gambler isn’t just playing cards in a Las Vegas casino.

Originally titled Endgame, The Player stars Philip Winchester (Fringe, 24: Live Another Day) as Alex Kane–The Player–a former intelligence officer working as a security expert.  Think Robert Redford’s character in Sneakers.  When Kane’s wife is murdered he is pulled into a strange world of crimefighting without the supersuit.  Snipes plays Mr. Johnson, a pit boss of sorts.  Charity Wakefield (Wolf Hall) plays Cassandra King–The Dealer.  At stake is whether bad guys will succeed at committing violent crimes.

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The previews for The Player showcase a fast-paced Bourne Identity meets Burn Notice vibe that should bring in viewers.  Check out this trailer:

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Browning in Sucker Punch

Zack Snyder.  He’s the director of the acclaimed movie adaptation of comic books 300 and Watchmen.  With those two movies he showed through his own unique style–adhering to Frank Miller’s panel work for 300, amplifying Dave Gibbon’s powerful images in his Watchmen–that he knows how to make comic book movies.  So how could he have fallen so flat with Man of Steel (reviewed previously here at borg.com)?  Snyder makes big movies but you can’t depend on his name to know what you’re going to get when you plop down the price of a ticket.  When you hear about a movie advertised as Sucker Punch was, it’s easy to skip over it especially because he both wrote and directed the movie.  Released in 2011, Sucker Punch is now available On Demand.  Is it worth checking out?

Sucker Punch was only marketed as a movie featuring ass-kicking female characters in video game situations.  Yet the story is grounded in some serious issues.  It follows two tracks: first, a young woman only referred to as Baby Doll (played by Emily Browning) being abused by her step-father is sent to an “insane asylum,” and second, that woman enters into a fantasy world to survive and avoid being lobotomized by the doctor on staff (played by Mad Men’s Jon Hamm).   If you give Snyder the benefit of the doubt, you can buy into the fantasy word elements.  Baby Doll’s fantasy world consists of the stuff of David Carradine’s Kung Fu series, first person video games, and even The Lord of the Rings.  Led by her own inner mentor, played superbly by Scott Glenn (Silverado, The Right Stuff, Backdraft), Baby Doll takes a team of four inmates–real-world accomplices–on Dungeons & Dragons type missions to capture key totems that Glenn’s character advises will help her break out of the asylum in the real world.  In one scene they pilot a World War II B-25 plane, in another they attempt to slay a dragon, and another they are battling robot drones.  And it all is woven with classic rock and pop songs.

A powerhouse performance can be found with Jena Malone (Donnie Darko, Into the Wild) as Rocket, the most complex of the inmates, as well as Abbie Cornish (RoboCop), who plays her sister and fellow inmate Sweet Pea.  These two characters pretty much equal the military badass male action scenes of films like Alien and Predator.  If Snyder had stuck to making a purely fantasy movie, he would have knocked this one out of the park with these actresses and his supernatural world.  But his major miss is the real world depicted in Sucker Punch.

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Black Mass poster

Just last week we discussed here at borg.com the 2015 return of mob stories to the big and small screen, previewing the British movie Legend starring Tom Hardy and the new TNT series Public Morals with an all-star cast of supporting roles.  Now Johnny Depp is returning to the mob/gangster genre after his superb showing in 1997’s Donnie Brasco opposite Al Pacino and Bruno Kirby, and his 2009 role as John Dillinger in Michael Mann’s Public Enemies. 

This time Depp will again play a real-life mob boss, James “Whitey” Bulger, the Boston crime lord who became an FBI informant to take down a mob family trying to invade his territory.  Black Mass also features notable actors Benedict Cumberbatch (Sherlock, The Hobbit, Star Trek Into Darkness) as Whitey’s state senator brother Bill Bulger, Joel Edgerton (the Star Wars prequels), Kevin Bacon (Apollo 13, R.I.P.D., X-Men: First Class, A Few Good Men), Peter Sarsgaard (Green Lantern, Orphan, The Skeleton Key), Dakota Johnson (21 Jump Street, Fifty Shades of Grey), and Corey Stoll (Ant-Man, Law and Order: LA).

Check out the trailer for Black Mass:

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Funko is on its way to becoming one of the giant toy companies.  Did Ideal, Hasbro, Kenner, and Mattel start like this?  Just look at not only all of its licensed films and television series, but at the breadth of the types of figures it offers.  We’ve discussed at length the Funko ReAction line, but their most popular line is the Funko Pop! series of large, squat bobblehead figures, and Funko also produces a Fabrikations line, Mystery Minis, and a high-quality sculpted Legacy action figure line.  Now there is another Funko line of figures–the Vinyl Idolz–with some interesting licensed films represented.

Just as Jaws is a blockbuster genre classic, so is Young Frankenstein for fans of comedies, listed as #13 on the American Film institute’s roster of the funniest American movies.  The Nightmare Before Christmas-inspired sculpt style for Vinyl Idolz is a good fit for Young Frankenstein.  But there’s more–a Shaun of the Dead line is also simply brilliant.  Also look for the strangest combination of shows in a toy line we’ve ever seen: Back to the Future, Fast Times at Ridgemont High, the original Ghostbusters trio, The Walking Dead, Dodgeball, Napoleon Dynamite, the 1960s Batman TV series, Say Anything, Hot Fuzz, and even the strange, non-lead regulars of Seinfeld.

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After the break, check out images of several of the new figures.  Click on each to learn more and order or pre-order them at online superstore Entertainment Earth.

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Finn lightsaber

When it comes to Star Wars, the red carpet rolls out.  For Star Wars: The Force Awakens, that means every IMAX theater in the country–including those tied to museums, will pull their other films to make room for the next episode.  So for at least four weeks beginning December 18, 2015, Star Wars have all the North American IMAX screens and most of the foreign screens all to itself, about 400 U.S. and 400 other screens worldwide.  Only The Hobbit trilogy films had a similar exclusivity arrangement.

Abrams has said one sequence was filmed with IMAX cameras, so don’t expect Episode VII to be entirely in full IMAX mode.  Luckily, if you’re among the three people out there who aren’t Star Wars fans, the IMAX exclusive shouldn’t impact other genre films of the season–SPECTRE, the next James Bond flick, will likely have completed its run in theaters by then.

New SW teaser with Daisy - Rey and BB-8

We also have a quick clip that was released via Instagram today showing a surprising image–John Bodega’s Finn, revealed in earlier trailers as a Stormtrooper who wrecks his TIE Fighter, is wielding a lightsaber in the same dark and blue lit location as Adam Driver’s Darth Vader-inspired Kylo Renn–the villain with the unique hilted-blade saber.

Don’t blink–or you may miss this brief clip, also featuring a new shot of Daisy Ridley’s Rey and the nifty new non-CGI droid BB-8.  Here’s the clip:

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Blind Spot NBC

This year’s San Diego Comic Con netted many interesting trailers, and one of those we haven’t yet discussed is NBC’s next new series beginning next month, Blindspot.  It is also billed as featuring a “female Jason Bourne,” and a pile of unique previews indicate we might have the next new kickass female genre character coming our way.

Jaimie Alexander plays a Jane Doe–left in a duffel bag in the middle of Manhattan, she awakens with no memory, covered over her entire body with tattoos.  One of those is the name of an FBI agent, played by Australian native Sullivan Stapleton.  He and acclaimed actress Marianne Jean-Baptiste co-star in the series as they try to piece together her secret past.

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NBC has created plenty of previews for Blindspot, including one specifically for Comic Con.  Each gives another angle to attempt to get us interested–enough that we’re sure to at least give this one a try.

Check out several of the previews for Blindspot, after the break:

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