First STAR WARS: THE FORCE AWAKENS Trailer Reveals J.J. Abrams’ Sequel

by     Posted 47 minutes ago

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It’s here!  Disney has released the very first Star Wars: The Force Awakens for director J.J. Abrams‘ highly anticipated sequel, which falls into the franchise as Episode VII if anyone’s counting.  As far as teaser trailers go, this one is pretty incredible.  Abrams doesn’t simply rely on nostalgia to make this thing exciting, offering up tantalizing teases through some genuinely compelling filmmaking.  As far as character first-looks go, we can clearly see John BoyegaDaisy Ridley, and Oscar Isaac as seemingly “good guys” in full costume, and then an obscured baddie (Adam Driver?).  The money shot of the Millennium Falcon is spectacular, and overall I’m extremely enthused to see a heavy reliance on practical locations and effects work.  This is great, great stuff.

Watch the debut Star Wars: The Force Awakens trailer after the jump.  The film also stars Harrison FordMark HamillCarrie FisherLupita Nyong’o, Oscar IsaacDomhnall GleesonAndy SerkisGwendoline ChristieMax Von Sydow, and more.  Star Wars: The Force Awakens opens in theaters on December 18, 2015.

Geek Gifts: Criterion Designs Coffee-Table Book Showcases Gorgeous Criterion Cover Art

by     Posted 1 hour ago

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It’s Thanksgiving, which means you’re already two weeks behind on your Christmas shopping (kidding…kind of).  Finding the perfect gift can be difficult, but we’ve got something to highlight today that every cinephile will love.  The wonderful folks at The Criterion Collection have released a coffee-table book called Criterion Designs that showcases the gorgeous artwork that has donned the Criterion covers for three decades.  The book not only features a gallery of every Criterion cover since the collection’s first laserdisc in 1984, but it also offers up supplemental art and never-before-seen sketches for the unique designs that grace each Criterion.  Seriously, this thing is fantastic.

Check out some preview images of the book (along with a full list of artists) after the jump and click here to purchase the newly released hardcover for $71.21.

22 JUMP STREET Blu-ray Review

by     Posted 1 hour ago

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Chris Miller and Phil Lord have a history of picking projects that shouldn’t work and turning them into winners, and the one that may have been the trickiest is22 Jump Street.  Where you can argue that people underrated the possibility that 21 Jump Street or The LEGO Movie could actually be good, with 22 Jump Street not only were they making a comedy sequel (usually a bad idea), but had to deliver something as good as the first one.  The shock is they actually made a comedy sequel that is as good (if not better) than the original.  Take that, Ghostbusters 2 and Anchorman: The Legend ContinuesJonah Hill, Channing Tatum and Ice Cube return for what was the best mainstream film of this past summer, and my review of the Blu-ray follows after the jump.

Thanksgiving Trailer for EXODUS: GODS AND KINGS Is Undeniably Epic

by     Posted 14 hours ago

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20th Century Fox has released a new Thanksgiving trailer for Exodus: Gods and Kings to try and pull you out of that turkey coma.  The film is director Ridley Scott’s take on the Biblical story of Moses, and while the lack of diversity in the casting (and Scott’s doubling down on his choices) is troubling, there’s no denying that this new trailer is positively epic.  Scott has made an absolutely massive film here; one that harkens brings to mind the scale of Kingdom of Heaven and Gladiator.  The visuals continue to be kind of spectacular, so now the question is whether Scott can bring something new to the table emotionally for this age-old story.

Check out the new Exodus: Gods and Kings trailer after the jump.  The film stars Christian Bale, Joel Edgerton, John TurturroAaron PaulBen MendelsohnSigourney Weaver and Ben KingsleyExodus: Gods and Kings opens in theaters in 3D and 2D on December 12th.

Go Caroling Minion-Style with a New MINIONS Holiday Promo Video

by     Posted 19 hours ago

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While we’re all enjoying Thanksgiving, the Minions are getting a jumpstart on the holidays to come with a little caroling.  Universal Pictures and AMC Theatres just unveiled a brand new promo for Minions featuring Stuart, Kevin, Bob and co. doing their own very unique rendition of “Jingle Bells.”

Hit the jump to check out the video for yourself.  The Minions will be back on the big screen in their very own Despicable Me spin-off on July 10, 2015.  Minions is directed by Pierre Coffin and Kyle Balda and also features the voices of Jon Hamm and Sandra Bullock.

THE PEANUTS MOVIE Voice Cast Revealed

by     Posted 20 hours ago

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Fittingly, 20th Century Fox chose today to reveal The Peanuts Movie voice cast.  The CG-animated feature comes from producer Paul Feig (Bridesmaids), director Steve Martino (Horton Hears a Who!), and writer Craig Schulz, the son of Peanuts creator Charles Schulz.  The footage we’ve seen thus far has been surprisingly promising, with the CG animation being done in a stylistic fashion.  But when it comes to the voice cast, you won’t find any big movie stars here (though it’d be kind of great if someone like Will Ferrell or Tina Fey provided the “wah wa-wah”’s of the adults).  The voice cast for the Peanuts Movie is mostly made up of young actors with experience in voiceover work, commercials, and kid-centric programming on The Disney Channel and Nickelodeon.  Noah Schnapp, who just wrapped a role in Steven Spielberg’s untitled Cold War thriller, takes the lead role of Charlie Brown, while Sofia the First voice actress Hadley Belle Miller plays Lucy.

Check out the full list of The Peanuts Movie voice cast after the jump, which provides a bit more information on their roles.  Yes, all your favorites from the beloved comic strip appear.  The Peanuts Movie opens in 3D on November 6, 2015.

Director Morten Tyldum Talks THE IMITATION GAME, Trying to be Historically Accurate, Deleted Scenes, What he Learned From Test Screenings, and More

by     Posted 20 hours ago

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With the year coming to a close, it seems like a great new movie hits theaters every weekend, and The Weinstein Company continues that trend on November 28th with The Imitation Game.  Directed by Morten Tyldum (Headhunters), the film stars Benedict Cumberbatch as Alan Turing, a brilliant cryptanalyst whose expertise cracked Germany’s “Enigma code” and helped turn the tide of World War II for the Allies, but his homosexuality still made him a target of persecution.  The film is really more about Turing than the war, but Tyldum weaves the Enigma plot throughout the film in a way that makes it feel like a spy thriller.

During my exclusive video interview with Morten Tyldum, he talked about trying to be historically accurate, filming in real places, if he had many deleted scenes, balancing fact versus fiction, what he learned from friends and family screenings, what sequences he worked on again and again to get them right, and loads more.  Hit the jump to watch.  The Imitation Game also star Keira KnightleyMatthew GoodeCharles DanceMark StrongRory KinnearAllen Leech and Matthew Beard and will likely be a strong awards season contender this year.  For more on the film, watch six clips, the trailer, or click here for all our previous coverage.

Black Friday Deals: Music, Movies, TVs, Video Games, Flash Memory, Toys, and More

by     Posted 22 hours ago

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With Black Friday tomorrow, Amazon has started offering some crazy deals on almost everything they sell.  Since the number of things on sale is far too long to list here, I’ve linked each section below.  You’ll find new CDs for $6.99, tons of video games for 50% off, 4K TVs for 30% off, flash drives for 50% off, and so much more.   Like all Amazon deals, don’t wait too long to buy because prices change all the time and the best deals usually sell out.

Watch Julianne Moore, Amy Adams, Felicity Jones, Reese Witherspoon, Patricia Arquette, and More in 50-Minute Roundtable Discussion

by     Posted 22 hours ago

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As many are spending the Thanksgiving holiday with relatives, some may find they need a breather or two.  Luckily, THR has released a new roundtable interview from its Oscar series that makes for a fascinating and entertaining watch.  This 50-minute discussion involves a group of actresses that are in the mix for awards consideration this year: Julianne Moore (Still Alice), Reese Witherspoon (Wild), Amy Adams (Big Eyes), Felicity Jones (The Theory of Everything), Patricia Arquette (Boyhood), Hilary Swank (The Homesman), and Laura Dern (Wild).  The resulting video is a candid talk that touches on topics like the pressure of playing real people, the uncomfortableness of sex scenes, and more.  It’s well worth a watch.

Check out the actress roundtable video after the jump, and be sure to check out the writers roundtable if you missed it.  For more on the current state of the Best Actress Oscar race, peruse my recent Best Actress edition of Oscar Beat.

Public Service Announcement: HDMI Cables and You

by     Posted 23 hours ago

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This year, you’re finally going to get that ridiculously crazy, big-screen TV.  The Black Friday deal is too sweet, even sweeter than the little old lady in front of you who should have known the risks.  The doors open, you rush inside, you get your TV, and then you realize you should probably get HDMI cables.  You turn around and see them.  They cost…$139 dollars.  Your heart falls, and you feel you have no choice but to dig deeper into your wallet for this hidden cost.  You sucker punched that old lady for nothing.

Stores will try to cheat you on accessories, especially cables.  Stores make a lot of money pushing warranties and having huge markups on items like HDMI cables, and while I leave it to you to consider the former (they’re really only for piece of mind), you shouldn’t get gouged on an easily affordable cord.  Hit the jump for how you can save not only a lot of money, but also make your home setup easier.

Dylan McDermott Talks MERCY, How it Compares to AMERICAN HORROR STORY, His Favorite Horror Film, Peter Cornwell’s Directing Style, and More

by     Posted 23 hours ago

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Now available on Blu-ray is Mercy, Peter Cornwell‘s feature length adaptation of Stephen King’s short story Gramma, which follows a single mother (Frances O’Connor) and her two young sons as they move into a remote country estate to care for her ailing mother, Mercy (Shirley Knight).  Unlike most grandmothers, Mercy isn’t all candies and kisses on the cheek, and as her prognosis gradually worsens the family learns shocking truths about the source of Mercy’s darkness.  Mercy also stars Chandler Riggs, Mark Duplass, Dylan McDermott, and Joel Courtney.

Early last year I joined a handful of journalists on set while they were filming in Simi Valley. While there we had an opportunity to interview McDermott, who plays family friend Jim Swann in the film. He talked about how different Mercy is to American Horror Story, why he likes working in horror, why he thinks the genre resonates with today’s audience, his favorite horror film, how Cornwell’s past in animation influences his directing style, and more. Check out what he had to say after the jump.

Lake-town Gets Toasty in New THE HOBBIT: THE BATTLE OF THE FIVE ARMIES Images

by     Posted 23 hours ago

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Warner Bros. has released three new The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies images online.  The film concludes the Hobbit saga as five armies descend upon the Lonely Mountain in order to claim its now unguarded treasure, and it also acts as as prelude to Jackson’s other J.R.R. Tolkein trilogy, The Lord of the Rings.  Because The Desolation of Smaug ended in an action cliffhanger (as opposed to the previous movies, which ended in walking cliffhangers), I assume TBOTFA will begin with Smaug raining down fire on Lake-town.  The movie is supposed to end with a 45-minute battle sequence, and I guess that’s the only way to go when your first set piece is a dragon destroying an entire town.

Hit the jump to check out The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies images.  The film stars Ian McKellen, Martin Freeman, Richard Armitage, Evangeline Lilly, Lee Pace, Luke Evans, Benedict Cumberbatch, Stephen Fry, Cate Blanchett, Ian Holm, Christopher Lee, Hugo Weaving, Ken Stott, James Nesbitt, and Orlando Bloom.  The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies opens on December 17th.

Watch Batman vs. Darth Vader in Fight to the Death in New SUPER POWER BEAT DOWN Episode

by     Posted 23 hours ago

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Machinima’s “Super Power Beat Down” series knows its audience.  They pit popular fictional characters against each other in fights to the death (like Superman vs. Thor or Captain America vs. Master Chief) and let viewers vote on the outcome.  Then the SPBD team writes, choreographs, and films the fight scene with solid production values.

The latest fight is Batman vs. Darth Vader.  Batman lands on the Death Star demanding the release of Superman (apparently hostage) and Vader decides to deal with the breach himself.  This was my first experience with the series, so the brutal end was a surprising treat.  Hit the jump to watch.

Screenwriter Zak Penn Says READY PLAYER ONE Script Is Finished; Project Might Get Stuck on Licensing Issues

by     Posted Yesterday

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Ernie Cline‘s Ready Player One is a fun read.  The story follows Wade Watts, a poverty-stricken kid in a dystopian society whose only escape is a massive, completely immersive online world.  The inventor who created the online landscape hid a massive treasure, but no one has come close to finding it until Wade finally solves the first puzzle and discovers that if he wants to proceed in his quest, he’ll have to put all of his 80s pop-culture knowledge to the test.  These trials include playing classic arcade games and quoting movies.  The online world combined with the nostalgic references give the story a unique feel where a talented director, if armed with a good script, could make a pretty enjoyable film.

The book set off a bidding war four years ago, and earlier this year, Zak Penn (The Incredible Hulk) signed on to write the screenplay.  Since then, word on the project has been quiet until now.  Hit the jump for more.

Prepare for THE FORCE AWAKENS Trailer with the First Trailers for All 6 STAR WARS Films

by     Posted Yesterday

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There’s a palpable degree of anticipation in the air, and it’s not for great Black Friday deals on vacuum cleaners.  No, tomorrow marks a different holiday of sorts, as Disney and Lucasfilm will unveil the very first trailer for Star Wars: The Force Awakens.  Episode VII in the sci-fi saga marks the first new Star Wars film in nine years and the first entry in the franchise without George Lucas’ official involvement as a director, writer, or producer.  Indeed, The Force Awakens is the beginning of a new era kicked off by director J.J. Abrams, producer Kathleen Kennedy, and a stellar cast led by John Boyega and Daisy Ridley.  In preparation for our introduction to the film tomorrow, now feels like an opportune time to look back at how all of the previous Star Wars films were introduced with their first trailers.

After the jump, watch the very first Star Wars trailers for all previous six entries in the franchise, and be sure to check back here early tomorrow to watch the debut teaser trailer for Star Wars: The Force Awakens.

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