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Finn in Falcon

Just stop watching the Internet, TV, movie trailers.  Stop–if you don’t want to see most of Star Wars: The Force Awakens in snippets before the movie premieres next month.  The cartoon network DisneyXD has released a preview of its own this weekend, sneaking in more footage of the First Order (the new bad guys) and the Resistance (the new good guys).

Watch the new preview, after the break, if you dare!  But don’t expect to find any actual spoilers if you’ve been watching all the other movie and TV trailers and teasers released this year.

Rey Falcon

New scenes in this preview feature Finn, Rey and the new villain General Hux.

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If you missed this one in the theater earlier this year, now is the time to see what you missed out on.  It’s the big screen release of The Man from U.N.C.L.E., a retelling–or more accurately, a total reboot–of the 1960s television series available on Blu-ray tomorrow.  It’s an adaptation in that it takes the framework of the show—an American and a Russian working together as Cold War era spies—yet director Guy Ritchie makes this work stand completely by itself.  The fact that it’s based on a classic series may turn away viewers who may be tired of other remakes of 1960s shows like Get Smart and The Avengers (both of which were good standalone films).  But that would be a great loss, as The Man from U.N.C.L.E. is not only as stylish as advertised in our favorite trailer of the year, it’s a classy and smart story and a superb re-creation of the early 1960s.

It’s no surprise that this film relishes its Bond influences–Henry Cavill’s character Napoleon Solo was created by Ian Fleming, the same Ian Fleming that created Bond. Yet the movie is fresh and new.  The story and Cavill’s performance evoke Matt Bomer’s role of stylish and cocky ex-art thief-turned government man on TV’s White Collar. In fact Cavill is a dead ringer for Bomer.  Likely it’s just a coincidence but if you loved White Collar you’ll love this film.  And any doubts you may have as to Cavill’s acting because of the poorly written part he was stuck with in Man of Steel will be wiped away with his confident and suave Solo.  Even better is Armie Hammer’s performance as Illya Kuryakin.  Any doubts you may have as to Hammer’s acting from his lead role in The Lone Ranger will also be wiped away.  Hammer’s performance as a KGB agent in need of some anger management is nuanced and layered.  The idea of putting some Ennio Morricone musical queues behind Hammer and adding a Clint Eastwood Dirty Harry twitch are simply inspired.  This is a great team and a film that sets itself up for an exciting sequel.

Cavill Debicki Man from UNCLE

As commanding a presence as Cavill and Hammer have, they are almost upstaged by the equally important roles played by Alicia Vikander as the German daughter of a rocket scientist and Elizabeth Debicki as the ultimate Bond villain.  The villainy in The Man from U.N.C.L.E. is surprisingly as powerful, seething, and fun as any 1960s Bond film.  All of this is a credit to Ritchie’s bankable directorial and writing prowess. A fan of Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, Ritchie knows how to get the best out of partnerships here, just as he did with his Sherlock Holmes movie series.

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Pine in Wonder Woman

We now have our first confirmation that Chris Pine will be portraying Amazon Princess Diana aka Wonder Woman’s love interest Steve Trevor in Warner Bros. Wonder Woman movie.  Cast member Saïd Taghmaoui released photos on his Instagram account this weekend showing the two co-stars in World War II attire.

Chris Pine, who has now played genre legends Captain James T. Kirk in 2009’s Star Trek and its sequel Star Trek Into Darkness and Tom Clancy’s hero Jack Ryan in Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit, is becoming the go-to guy for classic genre roles.

Chris Pine Steve Trevor Wonder Woman

Directed by Patty Jenkins and written by Jason Fuchs, Wonder Woman stars Gal Gadot in the title role and Nicole Kidman in an unknown role, with a release date scheduled for June 23, 2017.

C.J. Bunce

"Red Faced" -- Personal and professional stress get the better of Kara when she goes too far during a training exercise against Red Tornado, a military cyborg commissioned by Lucy Lane's father, General Sam Lane, on SUPERGIRL, Monday, Nov. 30 (8:00-9:00 PM, ET) on the CBS Television Network. Pictured left to right: Melissa Benoist and Iddo Goldberg as Red Tornado Photo: Darren Michaels/CBS ©2015 CBS Broadcasting, Inc. All Rights Reserved

One of our favorite members of the Justice League will appear on Supergirl later this month.  We discussed the pantheon of DC Comics’ classic superhero team earlier this week here at, noting Red Tornado was yet to make an appearance.  Ask and ye shall receive, as they say.

Red Tornado is an android with enormous power.  In the comic books, Red Tornado was originally a villain, who turned hero and ended up for several years with the Justice League.  As with the comics, it appears that Supergirl’s version of Red Tornado will start as a key villain, but may yet turn from bad to good.  CBS refers to Red Tornado as “a military cyborg commissioned by Lucy Lane’s father, General Sam Lane”.

Red Tornado costume supergirl

Iddo Goldberg will don the Red Tornado costume in the series.  Here are some artist’s versions of the red superhero:

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Sci-Fi Block Doctor Who

Catching up with the fun, genre-tailored grab bags like Loot Crate and Comic Con Box, two new box services beginning soon will mean you will have four major monthly genre-themed services to choose from.  We reviewed past Loot Crate and Wizard World’s Comic Con Box offerings earlier at here.  Our conclusion from a review of a few months of each of those boxes was that these may be for you depending on (1) how much you want to spend, (2) whether you like surprises, and (3) whether you have a broad interest in genre swag.

Friends we know who regularly subscribe to these box services tend to trade or sell items, or have friends of different interests they can give items to as gifts.  You can save money by committing to three months at a time, with Loot Crate this gets you a discount, and with Comic Con Box you can get an extra, exclusive variant comic book.  The biggest draw of box services generally is the exclusive swag.  Comic Con Box includes random gifts like autographed photos.  The two latest boxes, Nerd Block’s Sci-Fi Block and Funko’s Star Wars themed Smuggler’s Bounty also stress the exclusive swag that will be coming to their subscribers.

Smugglers Bounty

So what will you get?  It’s a surprise–You don’t find out until the box arrives.  But, the types of content in the boxes will be similar.  T-shirts, action figures, toys, comics, you name it, it might be included–as long as it can fit in the shipping box.

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Pixar Finding Dory

This next film wins the “what took them so long?” award.  Dory, voiced by Ellen DeGeneres, is currently Disney and Pixar’s most popular character, with 25 million “likes” on Facebook.  Finally she gets to headline her own movie, and also bring back a few friends.  The ten years later follow-up to Finding Nemo, next year’s Finding Dory features the comic stylings of DeGeneres, the world’s funniest guy* Albert Brooks as Marlin, Diane Keaton as Dory’s mom Jenny, Eugene Levy as Dory’s dad Charlie, and Ty Burrell as Bailey.

Ed O’Neill, Idris Elba, and Dominic West are also expected to have roles in the film under the eye of master animator John Lasseter with music by Thomas Newman.

Finding Dory

Check out this first trailer for Finding Dory:

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Flash Arrow crossover

With the above photo released Tuesday by Arrow executive producer Mark Guggenheim, DC Entertainment is finally filling in the stray gaps of the Justice League.  Who would you rather watch?  Batman, Superman, and Wonder Woman in one two-hour flick, or most of the Justice League every week on three TV series?  Both Stephen Amell and Grant Gustin have now established themselves as the real thing with their Arrow and The Flash series.  We already know Henry Cavill was a bust as Superman and early looks at Ben Affleck and Gal Gadot aren’t too exciting.  The answer should be easy.

If you haven’t been keeping track, along with Amell’s Green Arrow and The Flash (Gustin’s Barry Allen, Teddy Sears’ Jay Garrick, and Keiynan Lonsdale‘s Wally West on the way), we’ve seen two versions of Black Canary (played by Caity Lotz and Katie Cassidy), two versions of Green Arrow’s sidekick Speedy/Red Arrow/Arsenal (played by Colton Haynes and Willa Holland), The Atom (played by Brandon Routh), Firestorm (played by three actors: Robbie Amell, Victor Garber, and Franz Drameh), Huntress (Jessica de Gouw), classic Justice League staple Jean Loring (Teryl Rothery), Vibe (Carlos Valdes), and an Earth-2 version of Doctor Light (Malese Jow).  Each of these were featured in at least one version of the League over the years.

DC's Legends of Tomorrow

And now we have a first look at Hawkman (Falk Hentschel) and Hawkgirl (Ciara Renee), coming in three weeks as part of an Arrow/The Flash crossover event and lead-in to the next DC Entertainment/CW Network series Legends of Tomorrow.  Still no view of the hawk wings yet.  The other guy in the mask above is CW creation John Diggle (David Ramsey).

So who is still AWOL from the League?

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Just like I could make the case that The Empire Strikes Back is the best film of the saga, I could make a similar argument for the superiority of John Williams’s stunning score for The Empire Strikes Back.  And no version of that soundtrack surpasses the original 1980 two-disc vinyl set, which hasn’t been available in its original version for literally decades.  Thanks to Sony Classical, the original soundtrack for not only that film is coming back, all six original soundtracks are returning to store shelves in 2016 in CD, digital, and yes, good ol’ vinyl formats.

I still have my vinyl two-disc LP sets for both Star Wars and The Empire Strikes Back, and they still play with the clarity and punch as they did in the late 1970s and early 1980s on the same 1950s Magnavox record player I first played them on.  If you’re not into the vinyl scene, no worries, just pick these up in one of the other formats.ESB vinyl 1980 reverse

As to The Empire Strikes Back soundtrack, I go back and forth between Side Two and Side Three as being the best of the set.  Side Two begins with the epic Darth Vader theme in The Imperial March and ends with the menacing Hoth assault in The Battle in the Snow.  With Side Three probably the most exciting of any of John Williams works is The Asteroid Field followed by the sweeping Bespin arrival theme in The City in the Clouds.  Throughout all four discs are cues from the Star Wars main theme, the haunting Yoda theme, and the touching Han and Leia theme.  As with the prior release of the Star Wars soundtrack in a two-vinyl set, the tracks for the original 1980 release of The Empire Strikes Back are not presented sequentially, and masterfully they are instead included in a very cohesive and musical order crafted for each album.  The CD versions of The Empire Strikes Back released and re-released in the 1990s are in sequential order, yet they don’t provide the complete musicality of sound experience as the original vinyls.

SW box set CDs

Sony Classical announced they’ll reissue the six soundtracks January 8, 2016 (or about the time you’ve seen Star Wars: The Force Awakens for the tenth time) in three editions: Star Wars: The Ultimate Vinyl CollectionStar Wars: The Ultimate Soundtrack Edition, and Star Wars: The Ultimate Digital Collection.  Here are the details:

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Tomorrowland still

Review by C.J. Bunce

There is plenty to like about The Incredibles’ director Brad Bird’s 2015 release, Tomorrowland, now available on Blu-ray, DVD, and digital media.  Tomorrowland has a great, positive message about the potential of thinkers and dreamers, and it showcases a beautiful future world, but somehow it just doesn’t dazzle like it could.  Still, enough positive vibes and ideas are steeped into this film that the right person watching this movie will find it to be inspirational.

One of the best features is a decommissioned robot named Athena (that we’d label an excellent borg except we’re not sure biological elements or living matter may be part of her) played by young actress Raffey Cassidy (Cassidy played the daughter Beatrice in Season One of Mr. Selfridge).  In every scene she is so perfect in her role that her diction and appearance might convince you she will be shown later as an adult played by Emily Blunt (that doesn’t happen, but she’s a dead ringer).

Sadly Tomorrowland struggles with what kind of movie it wants to be.  Is this a fantasy or science fiction movie, or both?  Visually the Tomorrowland parallel world scenes feel much like the mix of sci-fi and fantasy from classic Flash Gordon–a great component of the movie watching experience.  But you must watch more than two-thirds of the film before being able to grasp a clear plot, and get fully immersed in that other world.  To get where the story is trying to get plenty of world building is apparently required.  It’s unfortunate because Tomorrowland couldn’t address a more interesting subject:  Why didn’t the future we envisioned 60 years ago come to pass? (Where are our jet packs?!)

Raffey Cassidy Tomorrowland

It’s a question science fiction writers wrestle with all the time: If I am going to predict a future technology or development, how many years from now should I say it will be achieved?  And will it come about at all at any time?  If you peg the breakthrough in your own lifetime, you may be left to face criticism when that date finally arrives.  See Arthur C. Clarke’s 2001: A Space Odyssey, James Cameron’s Terminator series, all of those Philip K. Dick novel adaptations, and more recently, Bob Gale and Robert Zemeckis’s Back to the Future II predictions–many got elements of the future right, but many didn’t.

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No one said this job was supposed to be easy.

Quentin Tarentino filmed his latest Western, The Hateful Eight, in 70 mm Panavision so it should look beautiful on the big screen.  He’s hired Ennio Morricone, composer of the scores for A Fistful of Dollars, For a Few Dollars More, The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly, for the ultimate throwback feel.  By all accounts The Hateful Eight looks like it will be an interesting ride.

Kurt Russell plays another tough-guy role.  We’ll hopefully add John “The Hangman” Ruth to the likes of his classic characters Burton and Plissken.  A few years after the Civil War, Ruth is transporting a fugitive named Daisy (Jennifer Jason Leigh) to a town called Red Rock.  After picking up a bounty hunter (Samuel L. Jackson) along the way, they hole up in a log cabin to seek shelter from a snowstorm, and learn the place is filled with various other baddies: The Sheriff (Walton Goggins), The Mexican (Demian Bichir), The Little Man (Tim Roth), The Cow Puncher (Michael Madsen), and the Confederate (Bruce Dern).  Who will get out alive?

Hateful Eight comic-Con SDCC 2015 poster Tarentino

Check out the latest trailer for The Hateful Eight:

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