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IDW Publishing writer Mike Johnson continues to take Star Trek where no one has taken Star Trek before.  As he did successfully in Star Trek Countdown and Star Trek: Nero, Johnson continues the adventures of Captain James T. Kirk and his crew in the Star Trek “Kelvin” timeline–the new timeline begun by J.J. Abrams beginning in 2009.  Johnson is breaking new grounds along with artist Tony Shasteen in Star Trek: Boldly Go, a monthly comic book series featuring a standalone story issue hitting comic book stores tomorrow.

In the first four issues of Star Trek: Boldly Go, Johnson and Shasteen take readers beyond last summer’s hit movie Star Trek Beyond.  Kirk and his crew are divided now, serving aboard separate vessels.  Kirk leads the USS Endeavour, with Bones as second rank under another medical chief.  Chekov serves with them.  Spock and Uhura are on sabbatical on New Vulcan with Sarek.  Scotty is teaching at the Academy back on Earth.  Commander Sulu is serving under Captain Terrell (played by Paul Winfield in Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan) aboard the USS Concord.  And then a nemesis encountered much later in the Prime Universe pursues the Concord.  Why? Is resistance truly futile?  Find out when The Borg seize Spock.

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Fortunately instead of being merely a gimmick to bring the key villains from Star Trek: The Next Generation into the realm of the original series, the change-up in the timeline is nicely tied to a logical occurrence in Kirk and Spock’s past, while further binding the ex-Enterprise crew together.

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Tomorrow with Issue #5 Johnson and Shasteen set their focus on Jaylah, the heroine from Star Trek Beyond, and our nominee for the most kickass heroine of all the Star Trek films.  It’s a great, personal story, providing backstory showing how Jaylah ended up where she encountered the Enterprise crew at the beginning of Star Trek Beyond, and where the character is now.  Here is a preview of Star Trek: Boldly Go, Issue #5, courtesy of IDW Publishing:

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grimbeard-didier

As the old song goes, “It’s a pirate’s life for me.”  If you can imagine Popeye the Sailor Man and Yosemite Sam as a pirate and a dwarf of the classic fantasy variety, then you’ll have a hint at what’s coming in Grimbeard: Tales of the Last Dwarf, a new fantasy-comedy novel written and illustrated by Samwise Didier.  Didier is senior art director for Blizzard Entertainment, where he became known to fantasy gamers for his work on Warcraft, StarCraft, and Heroes of the Storm.

Captain Grimbeard is a salty old pirate who leads up a crew of two (a foodie TV-watching cook and the severed head of a formerly massive fellow) on his sea vessel, the Ol’ Girl, a ship that incorporates the aura of both a dragon and a dog.  He is also the last dwarf, resulting from a genocide caused by the worst of the fantasy races, the detestable, betraying, “traitor-ious” elven race.  Thrust a thousand years into the future he balances life as a cantankerous drinker of ales, a tough and hardy carrier of the great dwarf legacy, and a bawdy rogue finding his way among the worst part of today’s world… social media.  What is a dwarf to do?

Grimbeard shares in first person his exploits: how he missed out on the destruction of his race because he was breaking up a frost giant wedding, how he assembled his noble crew, how he started (and abandoned) his own Friday night boxing event, how he landed a (pretty-ish?) troll by consuming too much Taroellpiz, and how he ended up the centerpiece of his own surreal reality show.

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Adventure Time fans, and fans of bawdy comedy shows like Ted, Family Guy, and South Park, will appreciate the humor here.  Grimbeard will also appeal to fans of the lighter, comedic side of fantasy roleplay.

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infinity-war-clipA decade of preparation is coming together at Marvel.  Kevin Feige, the #2 executive behind the Marvel Cinematic Universe, conceived the idea of expanding Marvel via an investment in The Avengers, dolling out individual films that would be interconnected, and, in return, build a tremendous financial enterprise.  A decade after Robert Downey, Jr. first played Tony Stark in Iron Man, we’ll see it all come together in the first part of Avengers: Infinity War in summer 2018.

This will wind up the third act (Phase 3) of the Marvel Cinematic Universe (with possibly one more Avengers film inserted in 2019) and its anyone’s guess what will come next.  Here is the rollout schedule:

  • Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2, May 5, 2017.
  • Spider-Man: Homecoming, July 7, 2017.
  • Thor: Ragnarok, Nov. 3, 2017.
  • Black Panther, Feb. 16, 2018.
  • Avengers: Infinity War, Part 1, May 4, 2018.
  • Ant-Man and the Wasp, July 6, 2018.
  • Captain Marvel, March 8, 2019.
  • Avengers: Infinity War, Part 2, May 3, 2019.

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Of all these films, Captain Marvel seems the most likely to be the first spark that prepares fans for a Marvel Cinematic Universe Phase 4.  Unlike Phases 1 through 3, it’s the first film that takes a step outside the classic comic books, featuring Brie Larson as Carol Danvers, a version of the character created in the pages of Marvel Comics as recently as 2012.  It seems an obvious step to reboot the universe at this point with other, modern versions of the comic book superheroes.

This weekend Marvel released a first look at the commencement of production on Avengers: Infinity War.  The key person surprisingly not in the opening images is Chris Evans’ Captain America.  No doubt fans want to see scenes of Evans and Starlord actor Chris Pratt going head to head.  And the roster of actors in the film will be unprecedented as superhero movies go.  Benedict Cumberbatch’s Doctor Strange is expected to appear, among many others, hinted at in Avengers: Civil War, which excluded Mark Ruffalo’s Hulk, and Chris Hemsworth’s Thor.  Check out this first look from Avengers: Infinity War:

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Fans and filmgoers may not realize the theatrical adaptation of the popular Ubisoft video game Assassin’s Creed is really unlike any other past movie based on a video game.  Never before has a brand owner, here Ubisoft, taken such a hands-on approach to making a film adaptation.  That comes through in Ian Nathan’s new look at the film and its unique production process, Assassin’s Creed: Into the Animus.

Ubisoft has been involved in not only several iterations of the game but continuations found in comic books and graphic novels, as well as behind the scenes concept art books for the various versions of the game.  Pride in the brand and maintaining the integrity of the story for gamers was taken into account from the inception of the film as concept.  From casting Michael Fassbender as the film’s lead to Fassbender’s role as a producer and personally delving in to understand the mechanics of the world of the gameplay and what that meant for his two parallel characters–Aguilar in the past and Callum in the modern age–loyalty to the game was always a priority, as recounted by the crew interviewed by Ian Nathan for this book.

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For those who haven’t seen the film, the plot follows two protagonists in a world of Assassins and Templars, men separated by centuries of history yet linked by their DNA, necessitating the re-creation of a historically accurate fifteenth-century Spain and a technologically advanced present day world.  Assassin’s Creed: Into the Animus is an introduction to the complex world of the games, a look at the elaborate sets and exotic filming locations, an understanding of the choreography of the parkour scenes the film is known for, and maintaining the trademark look of the franchise, including Aguilar’s famous assassin’s hood.

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The Circle is no doubt another in a long line of topical dramas starring the great Tom Hanks.  Everyone loves Tom Hanks, the actor, yet his roles have become predictable.  If you’re making a movie and you want to bring instant sympathy, respectability, or authority–especially if the source material doesn’t have much of its own character development–Hanks is your guy.  He reportedly brings in $10 million to $20 million per film, and double or triple that if he negotiates profit sharing deals, which may explain why he’s not in many special effects-heavy films.  Where his performance is always reliable, it’s the films themselves–the stories and settings–that have often let us down once we crossed into the 21st century.  What will be his next Philadelphia or Forrest Gump?  His next Splash or Big?  These days he’s the go-to guy for biopics (Charlie Wilson’s War, Captain Phillips, Saving Mr. Banks, Sully), historical teleplays and documentaries (Band of Brothers, The Pacific), and novel adaptations, especially the never-ending Robert Langdon series (The DaVinci Code, etc.).  The Circle fits in as a novel adaptation, this time an adaptation of a novel about the horrors of our modern technological age written by Dave Eggers and directed and co-scripted by James Ponsoldt.

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But Hanks isn’t the real draw for this film, it’s the mega-sized co-lead actors who all hail from the biggest genre franchises that really make this a movie we might want to check out in the theater this April and not wait for the home release.  The star is Emma Watson, Hermione of the Harry Potter franchise whose other big 2017 film–Beauty and the Beast–with Watson in the lead role as Belle, will be released only six weeks prior to The Circle.  Star Wars: The Force Awakens and this year’s Star Wars: The Last Jedi star John Boyega (ex-Stormtrooper Finn) has next billing.  Oddly enough someone just as popular in the U.S., the U.K., and Asia should have next billing in the trailers, yet she’s seen but not listed in the title credits.  That’s the popular Doctor Who companion Amy Pond and the Marvel Cinematic Universe’s Nebula from Guardians of the Galaxy, Karen Gillan.  That’s some pretty popular acting names and pop culture street cred for a flick outside the sci-fi and fantasy realm.  But that’s not all.  The Circle also features beloved comedian and nerd crusader Patton Oswalt, fan fave Bill Paxton (Aliens, Apollo 13, Edge of Tomorrow, Training Day), and familiar face Glenne Headly (Dirty Rotten Scoundrels, Monk). 

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The plot follows a new worker (Watson) at a trendy tech company (think Google), where this fictional company and its outlandish benefits encompass and suffocate the workers’ private lives.  Here’s a new trailer for The Circle, followed by an earlier version of the trailer:

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ninjago-movie

Today and this weekend millions of moviegoers will flock to theaters to see what could be the biggest selling Batman movie so far: The LEGO Batman Movie.  A spoof of Batman set in the world of the famous building blocks, it’s the kind of film that will appeal to multiple demographics:  little kids, big kids, and adults young and old.  After the downer that was Batman vs Superman: Dawn of Justice, batfans are ready for fun over dreary.  If you missed the great trailers for The LEGO Batman Movie, check them out now here.

As we learned in the awesomely brilliant, funny, and clever original LEGO film The LEGO Movie: “everything is awesome when you’re part of a team.”  And that motto holds up in the next LEGO movie coming in 2017, The LEGO Ninjago Movie. 

What is LEGO Ninjago?

LEGO Ninjago is a LEGO building block series of more than 100 sets that began in 2010. A tie-in television series began in 2012, with a story centering on four Ninja, each with its own elemental dragon: Kai (Master of Fire), Jay (Master of Lightning), Cole (Master of Earth), and Zane (Master of Ice).  Sounding a bit similar to Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, they are brought together as a team by Sensei Wu to defeat the evil Lord Garmadon.

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Tron: Uprising producer Charlie Bean is directing the The LEGO Ninjago Movie, which is written by Dan and Kevin Hageman, writers of The LEGO Movie and LEGO Ninjago: Masters of Spinjitsu.  The movie stars some well-known genre favorites voicing the roles from the toy backstory: Jackie Chan as Master Wu, Dave Franco as Lloyd, Olivia Munn as Koko, Fred Armisen as Cole, Justin Theroux as Garmadon, Abbi Jacobson as Nya, Kumail Nanjiani as Jay, Zach Woods as Zane, and Michael Peña as Kai.

Here is the first trailer for The LEGO Ninjago Movie:

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In a year with Deadpool, X-Men: Apocalypse, Captain America: Civil War, Batman vs. Superman: Dawn of Justice, and Suicide Squad, only one really knocked our socks off beginning to end with no caveats.  Doctor Strange, our pick for last year’s best superhero movie, began with a hotshot medical whiz played as smartly as ever by Benedict Cumberbatch, who embarked on an intriguing story arc with the help of a mystic brilliantly played by Tilda Swinton.  Along the way Cumberbatch introduced us to the next great character of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, a dead ringer for the classic comic book character who sports the coolest cloak ever, and wields otherworldly special effect powers that really look great in 3D.  Plus, we had a great villain in Mads Mikkelsen’s Kaecilius, humor, and a solid supporting cast.  Next week Doctor Strange makes its way to online streaming services with the 3D Blu-ray, Blu-ray, and DVD release scheduled for February 28, 2017.

Doctor Strange includes the best recent use of 3D in the theater, so if you have the 3D player and compatible TV the 3D Blu-ray will be the way to go.  Viewing it in 3D in the theater was a must, from Doctor Strange’s spell weapons to a world colliding with an amped up Spirograph meets Kaleidoscope-infused reality, from conflicts on Salvador Dali paintings come to life and M.C. Escher and Labyrinth-inspired battlefields, to journeys through distant outer space and beyond time.  Crisp clarity and beautiful cinematography reveals modern effects at their best thanks to the production of Kevin Feige–who has coordinated everything Marvel for both Disney and Twentieth Century Fox–and director of photography Ben Davis (Guardians of the Galaxy, Avengers: Age of Ultron, Kick-Ass, Stardust, Layer Cake).

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Look forward to some great costume work from Academy Award-winning costume designer Alexandra Byrne (Hamlet, Elizabeth, The Phantom of the Opera, The Avengers, Guardians of the Galaxy).  And Michael Giacchino is finally back with a superb musical score more on par with his work on The Incredibles than more recent soundtrack efforts.  Giacchino really hedged his bets last year, producing soundtracks to 2016 releases Star Trek Beyond, Zootopia, Doctor Strange, and Rogue One: A Star Wars Story.   Giacchino really justified his place as an Oscar-winning composer with his brilliant score for Doctor Strange, a score we think was on par with his superb work on The Incredibles.

After the break, check out all the extras for the home edition release and an unusual–unusually cute–trailer for the home release of Doctor Strange:

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We now have a Season 2 teaser trailer for Stranger Things featuring the key cast of kids minus Millie Bobby Brown’s Eleven.  Check out the trailer below, which aired during Sunday’s Super Bowl game.  We now know we won’t get to binge watch Season 2 on Netflix until Halloween.  So what do we know so far about Stranger Things Season 2?

Although she’s not in this week’s first teaser, we know Millie Bobby Brown (Eleven) signed on for the season, and fan favorite Sean Astin will star as a new character aptly named Bob Newby.  The other kid stars are back:  Mike Wheeler (Finn Wolfhard), Dustin Henderson (Gaten Matarazzo), and Lucas Sinclair (Caleb McLaughlin), sporting Ghostbusters outfits at their grade school on Halloween Day 1984–a great choice for the season opener since we’ll be watching the episode premiere on Halloween day.

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In the teaser we see Hawkins, Indiana police chief Jim Hopper (David Harbour) is back and encounters some kind of explosion.  In last season’s finale, Will Byers (Noah Schnapp) returned from the Upside Down and now may be like Eleven, coughing up that Upside Down world goo.  Is he going to have powers like Eleven?  He’s shown in the same lab with similar equipment hooked up to him as we saw with Eleven and Dr. Martin Brenner (Matthew Modine), who was killed at the end of Season 1.  If you don’t recognize the people in the fuzzy lab video, that’s Paul Reiser as a new character named Dr. Owens and Winona Ryder returning as Will’s mom Joyce.

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We get to see a quick homage to the kid opening the door to the alien abductors in Close Encounters of the Third Kind, and a great look at the new nemesis alien for Season 2.  The same great title banner is back, and the music.  For those not around in 1980, the Eggo Waffles advertisement at the beginning of the teaser is real, and it features young actor Jason Hervey who would later play the brother on The Wonder Years.

Check out the teaser for Stranger Things Season 2, the original Eggo Waffles ad, and the Close Encounters scene referred to above, after the break:
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Every year the Super Bowl means new movie trailers.  Surprisingly the most exciting of all the movie trailers that aired during Sunday’s 51st Super Bowl game may be the all-star cast assemblage in The Fate of the Furious, the eighth film in the Fast and the Furious series.  Vin Diesel, Charlize Theron, Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, Jason Statham, and many more make for a great cast, and the action scenes look very big indeed.

But we got plenty of new previews, too.  Two movies of the bunch are not big franchise sequels, one we have seen a trailer for previously, Ghost in the Shell, and the other is a Ryan Reynolds mainstream space flick called Life.  Co-starring Jake Gyllenhaal, it looks like several episodes of spaceship disaster episodes we’ve seen from decades of Doctor Who.  The next Passengers?  Hopefully not.

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Of the sequels, we have previews for Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales (proving again you can’t beat using a Johnny Cash song for your trailer), Guardians of the Galaxy, Vol. 2, Transformers (5): The Last Knight, and the next X-Men movie, Logan.

Check out all these movie trailers, after the break:

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It’s the sporting event day you’ve been waiting all year for.

Unless you’re watching the Super Bowl to actually see the game, you can find all the commercials online today, freeing up your schedule to watch Animal Planet’s Puppy Bowl XIII.  It’s hard to believe we’ve been watching this too-darned-cute puppy outing for thirteen years now.

The Puppy Bowl kicks off at 2 p.m. Central on Animal Planet and you can catch it throughout the day.  Get more information, including how the event is helping animals, at the Animal Planet website here.  Pregame commentary is available here.

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And don’t forget the fourth annual Kitten Bowl.  Kitten Bowl IV is airing on the Hallmark Channel with commentator Mary Carillo, our all-time favorite sportscaster.

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The Kitten Bowl begins at 11 a.m. Central on the Hallmark Channel.

Check out these previews after the break for Puppy Bowl XIII and Kitten Bowl IV:

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