TOP 5: WonderCon 2015, STAR WARS on Digital HD, Sony Resurrects THE DARK TOWER, James Wan Eyed for AQUAMAN, ME AND EARL AND THE DYING GIRL Trailer

     April 11, 2015

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HBO launched its new standalone streaming platform, HBO Now, earlier this week and is currently offering a 30-day free trial of the service. While there’s plenty to be said about HBO Now and what it could mean for the future of traditional pay TV, I’m bringing it up today for one purpose: to let you know that it can be used to watch director Alex Gibney‘s fantastic documentary Going Clear: Scientology and the Prison of Belief for free, right now. Pay $14.99/month to use it faithfully for years to come or burn through the 30-day free trial and promptly kiss it goodbye. It makes no difference to me either way as long as you take advantage of it long enough to watch Going Clear.

Premiering at Sundance earlier this year (read Matt’s review), Gibney’s film is an emotional, disconcerting look at the Church of Scientology from its conception by sci-fi author L. Ron Hubbard to the present. Largely composed of interviews with former highly influential members of the church, Gibney’s film shines a light on the organization that forced me to reconsider Scientology as more than just the butt of a South Park joke. The stories of mental/physical abuse, child neglect, modern day prison camps branded as “rehabilitation”, blackmail, and harassment within the church that the doc presents range from unsettling to downright frightening. At the same time, much of its treatment of Tom Cruise‘s involvement in the church can only be described as surreal, unfiltered nightmare fuel.

For an engaging look at the ways in which we can use belief systems to justify the unjustifiable, look no further than Going Clear. For something far less meaningful and thought provoking, find this week’s Top 5 below.

1. WonderCon 2015 Coverage

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WonderCon 2015 was held at the Anaheim Convention Center last weekend and we have a considerable amount of event coverage to prove it. You can either peruse all of our convention coverage here or pick out some of my personal favorites such as the Cosplay image recaps (Part 1 and Part 2), Superman cast sharing memories of working with Christopher Reeve and Richard Donner, and this inside advice on how to land a job as an animator at Walt Disney Studios.

2. Entire STAR WARS Collection Coming to Digital HD

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As of yesterday, all six Star Wars films to date are now available on Digital HD from retailers such as iTunes, Xbox Video, Amazon, and more. Not only will you be able to carry around possibly the largest film franchise of all-time in your pocket for the first time ever, but the digital releases also contain two never-before-seen bonus features which I imagine the completest will find hard to ignore. Whether you’re a fan of the franchise or not, you have to give it to Disney, Lucasfilm, and 20th Century Fox for having a deft understanding of how to continually milk this cash cow.

3. THE DARK TOWER Movie Is Alive at Sony Pictures

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Fans of Stephen King’s The Dark Tower series who hope to see the film adaptation become a reality at some point in their lives got a dose of good news this week. In one of his first moves as the new head of Sony Pictures, Tom Rothman and Sony have joined forces with MRC to co-finance the long-gestating project. Based on a script by Akiva Goldsman and Jeff Pinkner, the first film is set to go out to filmmakers soon as Ron Howard looks to only be taking on a producing role this time around likely in hopes that his heart will be less broken in case the whole plan falls through yet again.

4. Warner Bros. Eying James Wan to Direct AQUAMAN

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I’ve made it no secret that I genuinely appreciate the work of James Wan. I respect the guy so much that I finally watched an entry in Universal’s Fast & Furious franchise solely because of his involvement (for the record, Furious 7 was 100%, Grade A, ridiculous fun). It should come as no surprise, then, that I’m thrilled with all of the success he’s currently enjoying and fully support Warner Bros. wanting him to direct Aquaman.

5. First Trailer for Sundance Hit ME AND EARL AND THE DYING GIRL

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If you’ve yet to recover from last year’s The Fault in Our Stars then you may want to steer clear. Fox Searchlight and Indian Paintbrush released the first trailer for Me and Earl and the Dying Girl (based on the Jessie Andrews novel of the same name) this past week and it looks equally sad as hell. Adam reviewed the pic at Sundance a few months back where it won the U.S. Grand Jury Prize in the Dramatic category. The trailer makes it look enjoyable enough, Adam liked it, and the Sundance award is no joke so I suppose it’s possible that Alfonso Gomez-Rejon, the same guy who directed the atrocious remake of The Town That Dreaded Sundown, has made a winner.

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