Thursday, 31 December 2009

From the Moon to Pandora

2009 has witnessed another prolific year in the fantasy and sci-fi genre on the big screen - much of which I will have to revisit in 2010 by way of LOVEFiLM.

As Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen and Terminator Salvation collapsed into an incoherent mechanised mess. Moon, Star Trek and James Cameron's Avatar were in the ascension...

Much has already been written about these films. So, I'll try not to reprise what other critics have already said, nor are there any spoilers per se. Think of this more as an end of year review haiku.

Moon was a love letter to the sci-fi cinema and television I watched as a child. And James Cameron's Avatar, predictable out of necessity, invited audiences to 'discover and explore' a beautiful, immersive and mesmeric digital 3D world. Tantamount to seeing Star Wars for the first time; I left the cinema yearning to return to the moon of Pandora.

I refuse to select any of the above as my genre film of the year 2009! That accolade goes to a film from 2007. Cheating? Well, maybe of a sorts. But, this post is about the fantasy and sci-fi films I saw, for the first time, this year. For its life-affirming, and poignant, narrative, Bridge to Terabithia is my choice!

Thursday, 17 December 2009

N.O.V.A: Halo meets Metroid mashup for iPhone

Gameloft's coding elves have been busy in the run up to the holiday season!

Not content with releasing Driver (iTunes), The Settlers (iTunes) or the epic James Cameron's Avatar (iTunes). N.O.V.A - Near Orbit Vanguard Alliance, a quintessential first-person shooter (FPS) in the making, arrives with a media fanfare rivalling AAA releases on home consoles.

Much has been written about N.O.V.A (iTunes) since it was announced. Comparisons with Halo and Metroid are inescapable and justified. The lush look and feel conjures up those celebrated franchises.



In spite of the fact that it's all too easy to accuse Gameloft of possible plagiarism, I wouldn't hesitate in recommending you download N.O.V.A now!

Wednesday, 16 December 2009

24 HOUR Avatar IMAX 3D Fan-a-thon

To usher in the opening of James Cameron's Avatar: An IMAX 3D Experience, there will be HOURLY giveaways plus Avatar facts and missions found on the IMAX fan page.



The Fan-a-thon starts on December 18th at 12:01 AM EST and will run for 24 hours! Fans can enter to win exclusive Avatar IMAX 3D prizes EVERY HOUR!

In related news. Avatar is now available on the App Store and is garnering rave reviews for pushing the technological limits of the iPhone and iPod touch. You can download the video game here.

Wednesday, 9 December 2009

Google Chrome for Mac: is the circle complete?

Following months of developer builds. Yesterday Google released its much-anticipated, and hyped, Chrome browser (not to be confused with Chrome OS) for Mac. However, it only runs on Intel-based machines running Mac OS X 10.5 or later. So, PowerPC users are left out in the cold.

Currently in beta (what Google product isn't?), Chrome for Mac almost matches the Windows version point-to-point. The main omissions are bookmark management and extensions! This isn't a potential deal-breaker, and Google assures users that a future update will add these features.

As would be expected with a browser based on WebKit (see Safari), Chrome is lightweight, nimble and silky smooth. Firefox (my current default browser), in contrast, is slow and resource-hungry: so much so that leaving too many tabs open, for long periods, results in system-wide unresponsiveness (that's certainly been my experience).

View Google Chrome for Mac as a sandboxed trial for now. Go play...

Wednesday, 2 December 2009

Download December Duet on iTunes

It took over a decade (the original Star Wars trilogy appeared on DVD before it)! Now, thanks to an afternoon spent in my Panasonic VHS to DVD transfer suite, for your viewing pleasure, is my video major 'December Duet' (1996).

I co-wrote (with novelist and friend Nick Smith - 'Milk Treading'), produced, directed and edited (non-linear for the final EDL) 'December Duet' (shot on Beta SP format), which was the culmination of the (BA Hons) Media Production course at the University of Bournemouth.



This 10 minute drama starred Bob Sessions, who has appeared in numerous films including Clive Barker's 'Night Breed', 'Hackers' (starring Academy Award® winning actress Angelina Jolie) and portrayed Batman/Bruce Wayne in BBC Radio One's, episodic audio adaptation, 'Knightfall' (1995).

Subscribe to my YouTube channel here.

December Duet (iTunes) is also available for playback on portable devices such as iPod classic, iPod nano, iPod touch, iPhone and Sony PSP!

Subscribe to my podcast in iTunes and download it directly onto your mobile device!

Tuesday, 1 December 2009

MiFi plus iPod touch is game-changing!

Earlier this year I was contacted by 3mobilebuzz to trial the INQ1, which was hailed by critics as the phone for the Facebook generation! The lack of a built-in Twitter client was lamentable, but, for a first generation product, the INQ1 showed great promise within the social media space. Free Skype calls wasn't bad either.



Thanks to 3mobilebuzz I'm now trialling 3's newly released mobile broadband - MiFi - over the next 7 weeks (or so). MiFi is your very own Wi-Fi hotspot - no need to search for an internet café! And, as part of a consumer panel, I'll be providing feedback on the following three subject areas:

1. Shopper experience
2. Set-up and getting connected for the first time
3. Where and how MiFi is being used

For the purpose of this trial I acted as a mystery shopper and purchased MiFi on PAYG from a 3Store. The in-store point of sale display was informative and helpful staff were on hand.

MiFi was clearly explained and its benefits over a USB modem dongle - no software set-up required out of the box: simply and securely connect a Wi-Fi enabled device such as an iPod touch, Nintendo DSi or Sony PSP. Instant gratification.

MiFi could replace home broadband. At time of writing, I live in an area where 3 mobile coverage is weak and this was pointed out by the sales assistant who asked me whether or not I wanted to proceed with the transaction. 3Store offers excellent customer service and compares favourably with Apple Store.

As a regular commuter between the South West and East of England. The compelling combo of MiFi and an iPod touch could be game-changing, and maybe all the mobile kit I'll ever need! Certainly this would've enabled me to 'tweet', from a mobile device, during a recent visit to Channel Four.

I've begun field testing the MiFi and iPod touch combo and am impressed with the reliability of the connection (where available). However, it maybe prudent to invest in a carry case for MiFi! The pack-in doesn't include one and the device is liable to become scratched and isn't that robust. It's worth observing that the function buttons are cumbersome - it's easy to accidentally disable Wi-Fi - and a single standby button would suffice.

From today you'll be able to buy a MiFi + iPod touch bundle from any 3Store or online here. Pricing for the bundle is £23 a month for a 2-year contract.

I'll be tweeting my MiFi usage during Christmas and the New Year. Looking forward to using MiFi at festive Tweet-Ups and seeing how it copes with more than one device connected.

You should follow me on Twitter here.

Wednesday, 25 November 2009

Gameloft's Thanksgiving gift for iPhone

I don't usually post twice on the same day! But, Gameloft's Thanksgiving sale is a special case, and I wouldn't want readers to miss out on these incredible App Store deals.

Blades of Fury (iTunes) £0.59
Brothers In Arms - Hour of Heroes (iTunes) £0.59
Castle Of Magic (iTunes) £0.59
Shrek Kart (iTunes) £0.59
Terminator Salvation (iTunes) £0.59

May I take this opportunity to wish all my US readers a happy Thanksgiving.

EA Thanksgiving feast for iPhone

This Thanksgiving week EA is discounting up to 50% off their top games on the App Store.

Feast your eyes on these top titles:

Auditorium (iTunes) £1.19
Boggle (iTunes) £0.59
FIFA 10 (iTunes) £3.99
Madden 10 (iTunes) £3.99
NBA Live (iTunes) £3.99
Monopoly (iTunes) £1.79
Mystery Mania (iTunes) £0.59
Surviving High School (iTunes) £1.19
Tiger Woods PGA TOUR (iTunes) £1.79
Wolfenstein RPG (iTunes) £1.19

This offer is good through November 29th, and applies to countries outside the United States.

Friday, 20 November 2009

Quiz E4's Misfits cast

Readers will already know that I gave E4's Misfits an unequivocally positive review here.

You can now pose your questions directly to cast members Antonia Thomas (Alisha), Iwan Rheon (Simon) and Nathan Stewart-Jarrett (Curtis).

Submit your questions to the cast here, and the best ones will be used in video interviews that will appear online.

Deadline for questions is 10am, Tuesday 24th November, so get a move on.

Wednesday, 18 November 2009

PlayStation video delivery goes live in Europe

More than 2000 movies available, to rent or to own, at the click of a button

LONDON – 19th November 2009: Sony Computer Entertainment Europe (SCEE) further expanded its PlayStation® entertainment experience today with the launch of the PlayStation®Network video delivery service for Europe. Now available in France, Germany, Spain and the UK, with other countries to follow in 2010, the service allows film fans to download hundreds of movies, including the latest releases, straight to their PlayStation®3 (PS3™) and PSP™ (PlayStation®Portable).

More than 2,000 movies are available across the stores to rent (from €1.99) or to buy (from €7.99), many in High Definition* (HD) as well as Standard Definition (SD), from major movie studios including 20th Century Fox, The Walt Disney Company1, Lionsgate2, Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Studios Inc. (MGM), Paramount Pictures, Sony Pictures, Starz Media2, Universal, and Warner Bros. The service also provides a broad selection of content from local market studios including ContentFilm International, E1 Entertainment UK and Optimum Releasing (UK), and Constantin Film, Kinowelt and Universum Film (Germany), MK2, EuropaCorp, Pathé, SND and Wild Side Video (France) and Vértice Cine (Spain).

Titles available within the launch window include Angels and Demons; Bruno; Disney/Pixar’s Cars; Walt Disney Pictures’ The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe; Crank 2; The Dark Knight; Dead Space: Downfall; Drag Me to Hell; Gran Torino; Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix; National Treasure; Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl; Public Enemies; Star Trek; Terminator Salvation; Transformers 2: Revenge of the Fallen; and Valkyrie; and X-Men Origins: Wolverine. Additional content will be added on a weekly basis.

“The launch of the PlayStation Network video delivery service extends our entertainment offering and provides consumers with another way to access their favourite movies, whether at home or on the go,” said Andrew House, President and CEO, Sony Computer Entertainment Europe. “With the choice of content constantly expanding, including full games, bite-size downloadable “minis” games, demos and now movies too, the PlayStation Network is the gateway to a world of entertainment.”

At launch, there will be a special offer for existing PSN members, allowing them to receive a complimentary copy of The Da Vinci Code if they buy Angels and Demons. There will also be a special promotion to encourage new members. Anyone who registers for a PlayStation®Network account using their new PS3s between 19th & 30th November 2009 will receive a voucher to download a complimentary copy of Transformers to own3.

Located on the PlayStation®Store under the “Video Store” section, the PlayStation Network video delivery service provides consumers with an exceptional entertainment experience, adding HD and SD movies for rental or purchase, to the already comprehensive line-up of games, demos, trailers and other content.

The video delivery service will be fully integrated within the PlayStation Network, using the same log-in, wallet system and user-interface. Visitors can search for movies by name, or can browse categories such as “new releases”, “genres” and ”most popular downloads”. PS3’s progressive downloading allows viewers to start watching a film shortly after the download begins. They can also access certain games or other content on their PS3 while the download is taking place.

Consumers who choose to rent have up to 14 days to watch their movie, and, once playback is started, they have 48 hours to watch the content. Purchased movies are stored on the PS3 hard disk drive and can be accessed at home via PS3 or transferred to PSP for content on the go.

The PlayStation Network video delivery service takes prime position in a line-up of PlayStation entertainment features, alongside streaming music video with VidZone®, Catch Up TV services and free digital TV viewing with PlayTV™. With games, music, Internet, photos, communications and more, it’s yet another reason to make PS3 and PSP the heart of your entertainment world. To find out more, visit www.eu.playstation.com.

* Initially HD content will only be available to rent

1 Content only available to rent or to buy in the UK and to rent in Germany at launch

2 Content from these studios will be available only in the UK

3 The promotional code will be sent to eligible customers in December 2009.

Tuesday, 17 November 2009

Star Wars: Trench Run for iPhone

Star Wars: Trench Run (iTunes) blasts its way onto the App Store today courtesy of THQ Wireless!

"Many Bothans died to bring us this information."
Your mission: Use the Force to overthrow the evil Galactic Empire as they attempt to destroy the small rebel base on the jungle moon of Yavin 4. As part of the Rebel Allianceʼs Red Squadron, you dogfight with TIE fighters above the Death Starʼs surface before heading into a trench where you are inundated by cannon fire. Dodge obstacles and stay out of Darth Vaderʼs sights as he tries to gun you down before you have the chance to fire your proton torpedoes into the thermal exhaust port the size of a womp rat. If successful, a direct hit will cause a chain reaction that destroys the Death Star, thus saving the Rebel base from impending doom.

"I've got a bad feeling about this."
At the time of writing this post, I still haven't downloaded and played Star Wars: Trench Run. However, the gameplay suggests a shooter that falls short of Sega's Star Wars Arcade (also known simply as Star Wars) and Rebel Assault II: The Hidden Empire. And, potentially, limited replay value makes the £2.99 entry fee expensive when there are much more immersive gaming experiences available on the App Store.

"Trust your feelings." "Let go."
Given the success of the Doom (iTunes) and Call of Duty (iTunes) first-person shooter franchises. Isn't it time that Dark Forces was released? What say you reader?

Monday, 16 November 2009

Doctor Who treading The Waters of Mars

Last night's Doctor Who special epitomised the good and bad of the current series, and is proof positive that Russell T Davies' tenure has plunged into self-referential parody!

There's been an awful lot of running in Doctor Who - metaphorically and literally - this decade. I have no qualms with metaphor and the dramatic impetus therein! However, literal running reached its zenith in The Waters of Mars last night.

The plot and set design, cynically, lent itself to the ideology of running... Clearly, Davies' ran out of creative ideas several seasons ago. Too often I found myself clock watching. It was only in the quieter, character moments, where the episode excelled and the actors were allowed, dare I suggest, to act. Even Murray Gold's orchestral compositions, of which I am a fan, were often jarring and disjointed.

The alien entity was no match for the once-monstrous Martian Ice Warriors (The Curse of Peladon notwithstanding), a species curiously referenced by the Doctor as "a fine and noble race who built an empire out of snow." I'd have much preferred a base under siege story with Ice Warriors as per Patrick Troughton's era!

The Doctor's transformation from misfit to an unbound, arrogant and dangerous, alien force was genius and evoked William Hartnell and Tom Baker! The hubris that follows sets things up for the last two-part special scheduled for Christmas and the New Year.

Robots are often mined for comedic relief in sci-fi. Star Wars' R2-D2 and C3-PO and The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy's Marvin are prime examples - funny and endearing. However, the robot, which appeared in The Waters of Mars, was risible and wouldn't have garnered a single G rating in The Gadget Show (my Tomy Omnibot Mk II was more convincing!). Mat Irvine, who built K9 in the original series, would've blushed with embarrassment!

The Waters of Mars was 'better' than Planet of the Dead. But, that's little consolation. The Cloister Bell chimes were most welcome by journey's end.

Tuesday, 10 November 2009

Commodore 64 returns for iPhone

An edge of your seat software soap opera may, finally, be at an end on the App Store! Manomio's Commodore 64 (iTunes) is back following the removal of BASIC (presumably at Apple's request).

Along with up to a 30% performance improvement, Commodore 64 now includes onboard instructions for each of the included games and three new games: International Basketball, International Baseball, and International Tennis. That's an awesome retro bundle for £2.99.

The next update v1.2, scheduled for mid-December, will enable in-app purchases. This update will be free for everyone who has purchased the Commodore 64 emulator previously. Will this remain the case for future updates? I hope so. Bring on Impossible Mission, Paradroid, Uridium and Bruce Lee!

In view of the application's turbulent history. I'd suggest downloading Commodore 64 (iTunes) sooner rather than later!

Sunday, 8 November 2009

The Settlers 'settle' for iPhone

Following last week's disappointing Command & Conquer Red Alert for iPhone/iPod touch. Gameloft, one of the App Store's most prolific third-party developers, has looked to an established real-time strategy (RTS) license for its latest release.

The Settlers (iTunes) assuredly marches onto the App Store long after it first appeared on the Amiga in 1993.



You’ve arrived in a wondrous place populated by Romans, Vikings and Mayans competing or cooperating to reach a variety of goals. These goals include occupying land, ensuring the supply of raw materials, or simply trying to create the most beautiful settlement. There is more than one path which leads to success – you can engage in trade, forge alliances, or lead your army into battle.




The Settlers stumbled onto mobile platforms with varying degrees of success. But, Apple's iPhone and iPod touch are the perfect medium, and Gameloft has invested considerable time in R&D!

Given the introductory price point of £2.99, I unreservedly recommend The Settlers (iTunes).

Thursday, 5 November 2009

Hasbro and JJ Abrams risk Micronauts reboot!

In the week that Sony Pictures Entertainment acquired the rights to the Risk board game from Hasbro. The Wall Street Journal is reporting that Hasbro is rebooting the Micronauts and JJ Abrams is at the helm of a new film franchise.



During Hasbro’s 2009 Fall Investor Day Event held today at their headquarters in Pawtucket, Rhode Island, the company announced the re-introduction of the classic toy line Micronauts originally created by Japanese company Takara, in 1974, under the name Microman. Microman evolved out of Hasbro's G.I. Joe and would later morph into one of the most successful toy lines ever. The Transformers.

Microman was rebranded as the Micronauts and launched in 1977 by, the now defunct, Mego in the United States and Airfix in the UK. Ironically, Mego passed on Star Wars and would compete for shelf space that Christmas.

Backed by a Marvel comic series, in 1979, the Micronauts were a short-lived phenomenon, that attained a cult following and resurrected, briefly, by Palisades Toys, in 2002.

Abrams told the Wall Street Journal that those who doubt whether a board game or science fiction toy should be accorded star status will be proved wrong.

"Sometimes, when someone is not a celebrity and you are casting them in a role, everyone who is in a seat of authority voices questions about that actor's talent, sex appeal, looks, ability -- their everything," he says. "But then they get the role, and suddenly they are on the cover of every magazine, and nobody questions those things again. In retrospect, everyone says, 'Of course that person is a star.'"

Cherished childhood memories mean I can't wait to see the adventures of Acroyear and Baron Karza on the big screen! However, is it a toy tie-in too far? Is Hollywood so starved of story ideas, and risk-averse, that it's now looking to the aisles of Toys "R" Us? What do you think?

Tuesday, 3 November 2009

Command & Conquer Red Alert for iPhone

EA Mobile is at the forefront of releasing established game franchises, both from its own in-house studios and third-party properties, with varying degrees of success, on the App Store.

From The Sims 3 to Rock Band and Madden NFL 10 to FIFA 10, the App Store is rapidly becoming the online shopping destination of choice for mobile gamers everywhere! Competitors can't compete with Apple's vertical integration.



Command & Conquer Red Alert (iTunes) is the latest edition to that enviable collection. Suffice to say that I've been looking forward to the arrival of Command & Conquer, for iPhone and iPod touch, since it was announced months ago! The real-time strategy (RTS) genre has been woefully underrepresented on the App Store! However, I'm reluctant to download the game in its current form!



Why? Because a stellar 3D presentation and control method do not, in and of themselves, yield longevity! There's no wireless multiplayer (a future update will add this) and, perhaps most cynically, the skeletal selection of included maps can be increased at additional cost! Given that the Command & Conquer franchise is known for its copious free maps and multiplay, EA Mobile's decision is surprising and appears fiscally motivated.

Ultimately Command & Conquer Red Alert could be construed as a half-baked attempt to nickel and dime early adopters! I'll wait for the price to drop, from £5.99, before revisiting this anticipated release and forthcoming Empire of the Rising Sun expansion pack.

Are in-app purchases adding value or simply a revenue stream for publishers?

Saturday, 31 October 2009

Misfits is no misfire



On Thursday night I was invited, along with luminaries from the social media space, to a preview screening of E4's new six-part super hero comedy drama, Misfits, in the hallowed halls of Channel Four.

Party-girl Alisha (Antonia Thomas) can send people into a sexual frenzy with just one touch, hard as nails Kelly (Lauren Socha) can suddenly hear people’s thoughts, while one-time sporting hero Curtis (Nathan Stewart Jarrett) discovers he has the ability to turn back time. Even painfully shy nerd Simon (Iwan Rheon) can make himself invisible – which is what he has always felt.

Howard Overman's (Merlin, Hustle, New Tricks) treatment of super hero mythology is worthy of comparison to Bryan Singer's The X-Men. Sans sentiment, one scene brutally lampoons The X-Men's Professor Xavier. However, Overman denies such subtext, preferring the audience to embellish!

There will be no trite explanation of the meaning behind the mysterious storm that enthuses the ASBO miscreants with super powers, thereby preserving some semblance of enigma and precluding a narrative 'black hole' should Misfits, deservedly in my opinion, garner a second season! And, the creative team should be lauded for holding back on the special effects, which were secondary and tertiary to the charismatic characters. Again, the adage of less is more, applies here, in abundance (budgetary limitations aside)!

I should point out that Misfits will embrace, in the words of Channel Four's Steve Berry, 'transmedia storytelling'. This is storytelling across multiple forms of media with each element making distinctive contributions to a viewer's understanding of the story world. By using different media formats, it attempts to create "entrypoints" through which consumers can become immersed in a story world. And, perhaps most coolly of all, audiences will be able to officially follow the protagonists on Twitter; Mad Men fans started tweeting as characters, and the studio, bogged down by old media politics, initially tried to stop it, which was counter-intuitive.

Misfits isn't a reaction to Heroes, the programme's genesis pre-dates the hit US television drama series, or a self-serving misfire caching in on sociological trends. But, could be the best in-house genre show from the Channel Four stable since Dead Set! That's a super power worthy of any hero or anti-hero...

So, set your PVR to record Misfits, which begins 10PM Thursday November 12th on E4.

Special thanks to Channel Four's Steve and Alex for being so welcoming.

Thursday, 22 October 2009

Fan-ning The Flames?

Guest post written by Neil Gardner

I work in media in the UK, I produce a lot of radio programming, and also work on various other productions, including some TV and film stuff. Over the years I have spent a lot of time in studios, recording and editing and mixing and mastering. But I have also spent much time outside of the studio, in the real-world, trying to make stuff on a tight budget, to a tight timetable, while all around the day to day world continues. Getting out of the studio is a great experience, and over the past few years in my own production company we have established a rule that wherever possible our programmes will be entirely recorded on location and as we call it, ‘exterior’.

But working outside the studio brings with it many uncontrollable unknowns. Studios make life easy, you control the environment, the sound, the access, the whole shebang. Once you step outside you suddenly have to deal with all sorts of annoyances and difficulties. In the UK, one of the biggest things to deal with is the noise of cars, people, planes and so on. It is notoriously tough to find a quiet exterior environment. The sound of air passing across the microphone can destroy an otherwise perfect take! Add in weather, light levels, permission to record, legal and health & safety requirements, you can understand why the studio is so appealing to so many producers and directors.

Strangely, in radio production, recording outside the studio is generally cheaper than recording in a studio...studios cost per hour, whereas heading on to the streets is generally free. In a media with ridiculously low budgets, any cost saving you can find is a good one. But for TV and film, leaving the studio invariably ends up costing much more. Now, TV and film require many more people to make a production happen (radio needs 2 or 3!) and all these people need to be housed, fed, transported, kept warm and sheltered...plus all the equipment needed of course! If you’ve ever seen a location crew you will have seen endless lorries, buses, catering coaches, makeup vans, etc...

But more and more there is an additional expense that producers have to front up. That of security. Depending on what you are producing, but it is invariably the rule that any location recording will attract attention. Nothing new there. In the past it was mostly photographers and the occasional group of vaguely interested locals who thought they might get in the background of a shot and see themselves on TV. But over the last decade or so, since the ridiculous cult of personality took over as our state religion and lobotomised at least 50% of the population, productions have been plagued by fans. Now, let me get this straight, fans are wonderful people (mostly) who care deeply about their favourite actors, characters and productions. Without passionate fans many TV shows (especially in the fickle world of US network TV) would have disappeared into cancellation hell. Fans keep you on your toes, ask the important questions, remind the rest of the media world that your production is important and relevant and worthy of attention. Without fans we would be nowhere, after all, we are in entertainment! But...and this is where I suddenly lose several good friends...there are degrees of fandom and of late there has been a big growth in the number of ‘lurker’ fans. These aren’t dangerous people, aren’t disturbed or mentally ill, they aren’t offensive or anything like that, but they are still a nuisance for production teams.

These ‘teams’ of stalwart fans follow production teams up and down the country, appearing as if by magic at every location. They report on the minutiae of production recording, hoping to learn or reveal some invaluable secret to their non-travelling cohorts. They stand alongside the ‘paps’ and hope to get yet another photo of THAT actor or actress. As someone who works on these productions I have to say that it is a real nuisance sometimes. We are trying to do a job, trying to make a production as fast as possible. At the same time, we have to worry not just about ourselves, our talent and our co-workers, but also the press and paps. And now we have to consider the safety and security of these fans. A lot of time and money is spent on ensuring the health and safety of crews and cast while on location, but when fans turn up on set, we suddenly have to consider their well-being as well. We have to hire security to keep an eye on them and make sure no-one gets too close to the set. It all becomes additional stress and cost at a time when we need to focus on our work.

What confuses me is WHY these people spend so much of their time and money following production crews around. Once you’ve seen one wet and windy external shoot you’ve seen them all. I understand the allure of media and the entertainment world...from the outside it all looks very sexy and special, and at times it can be. But I can promise you, few if any of those working in a quarry in Wales, or a beach in mid-winter, or a council estate in the height of summer want to be there. For them it is a job, one they want to get on with as few hassles as possible. And when, as a production team, you have gone to extreme lengths to keep your recording under wraps, to maintain the element of surprise in advance of transmission of the programme, it is incredibly aggravating to have some OTT fans turn up, snap pics and try to scuttle your plans.

Where does this incessant need for spoilers, advance information and revelations come from? Producers have to take much of the blame, for releasing WAY TOO MUCH information about their productions in advance of transmission or release. Movie and TV trailers focus too much on showing the ‘best bits’ almost making watching the final production pointless. And in the never-ending fight for publicity, we all try to get something sexy and exciting out to magazines, newspapers and online outlets so we get written and read about. But by indulging in such practices we have built up the expectations of many fans, who now demand to know everything in advance of transmission, and who will go to extreme lengths to learn anything, no matter how minute, before anyone else.

Another side to this ‘lurking’ fan syndrome we come across is when the same fans turn up at every event a certain actor or personality attached to a production is at. They will travel from all over the country to see this ‘celebrity’ walk in to a building to be interviewed, and then wait hours for them to come out again. They will hang around outside studios for days just to glimpse the actor as they are arriving and leaving from work. If the actor is starring in a play or other live show, these fans don’t just go once, but countless times. On the one hand it is sweet, endearing and shows loyalty. But on the other it is a little worrying. These fans are placing far too much importance on their object of affection. Is it a harmless way of escaping their own lives to vicariously live a little bit of the celebrity’s life? Or is it something more worrying...an inability to differentiate between a fictional character and a jobbing actor? What it means for us in the production teams is yet more work trying to get actors in and out of studios, events and publicity. We have to keep venues a secret, hire yet more security and try to allow the fans access to their favourite people without compromising security, schedules or the actor’s natural desire to share some time and laughs with their fans.

So what’s the point of this guest blog, then? It’s not to dismiss the honest affection and love these fans have for our productions and talent, we all appreciate that. And it’s not to embarrass them or suggest they are less than anyone else. I suppose it is to shed a little light on what it looks like from our side of the fence, and to ask that these fans back off just a little, maybe only come to one or two shoots per year instead of all of them, to understand that their attendance causes us more work and costs us money and maybe there is a better way for them to show their appreciation of what we are doing.

But it is also to say ‘calm down’ to the general world of fandom and of media production. We reveal too much too soon and thereby have lost much of the joy of surprise. Producers like JJ Abrahms and Joss Whedon understand the art of the reveal, and correctly hold back many of their big secrets, requiring us to go see the film, tune in to the TV show or radio series. We have to remember that the audience needs to attend the movie and make an appointment to see the TV show or hear the radio programme...if the audience doesn’t turn up, we stop being hired to make the productions! Broadcasters and movie companies have but one God...ratings (and return on investment of course!). I genuinely believe that more people went to see Cloverfield because they had no clue what it was really going to be than would have gone if JJ had revealed the monster and main plot points in advance. James Cameron seems to have dealt himself a bad hand by suddenly changing tack and revealing way too much about Avatar...the fans and commentators are now turning from excited anticipation to apathetic disinterest and scorn.

As a producer I want you to hear my programmes and I want you to choose to do so because you are interested by the pre-release information I have shared with you. But I don’t want to share so much that you feel you can make a decision about whether to tune in or not because you feel like you can already ‘hear’ the programme in advance. The ‘dedicated’ fans who dog every step of a production end up risking destroying the very shows they love so much. So please, consider backing off a little bit, give us room to make our productions in peace and secrecy...and in return I promise you’ll get kick ass TV shows, movies and radio series, and lots of chances to meet the stars and talk with the crews.

Neil Gardner has worked in professional radio for 22 years, starting in local BBC and commercial radio as a technician and working his way up to programme controller. He has worked in local, regional, national and international radio stations, has engineered, presented, produced and programmed at all levels. He is an internationally recognised award-winning radio writer & director, with a love of sci-fi and comedy. He joined Ladbroke Productions in 1999 and bought the company in 2008. Between 2005 and 2009 he was also the Secretary, Treasurer and then Chair of the Radio Independents Group. He has also acted as a Trustee of the Radio Academy and the Gateway School of Recording. Most recently he has been helping to produce Doctor Who Hornets' Nest, featuring the long-awaited return of Tom Baker as the Fourth Doctor. He is the co-writer, producer, editor and director of Robert Rankin's "The Brightonomicon Audio Series" and has also produced Sarah Jane Adventures for BBC Audiobooks, and directed scifi radio plays starring Sir Derek Jacobi, Jason Isaacs, Andy Serkis and Catherine McCormack.

Follow Neil Gardner on Twitter, Facebook and read his blog.

If you would like to submit a guest post, please email.

Tuesday, 20 October 2009

Download Monty Python on iTunes UK

At long last Monty Python fans can download the seminal surrealist television and film series on iTunes UK store from today!



Life of Brian, Holy Grail, Meaning of Life, all Flying Circus episodes and Live at the Hollywood Bowl are all available for download now.

This is an excellent coup for the upcoming gift giving season and a great addition to anyone's iPod touch or iPod nano.

Wednesday, 14 October 2009

Is That It? Michael Jackson's so-so swansong!



Michael Jackson's posthumous single "This Is It" premièred Monday, online and on the airwaves, to mixed reaction!

"It's a safe, midtempo pop ballad that features what his fans love: his trademark breathy vocals and confident delivery," says AOL music editor Jessica Robertson. "I don't think it will set the world on fire, because it's missing what fans and critics love most about his songs, which is a strong and powerful groove to carry it."

"It's not bad," says Cori Murray, entertainment director at Essence magazine. "Folks who love him are going to love this. Sometimes with songs like this, you know why it was unreleased, but this sounds like something he could have put on an album."

Personally, I wasn't anticipating a song that would rival Michael Jackson's best work with one-time producer and mentor Quincy Jones! Jackson's creative light began to fade when they parted company, two decades ago, during the recording of the unreleased greatest hits album "Decade" (1989).

"This Is It" harks back to the 1980s when the King of Pop ruled the charts seemingly at will! The vocal performance, which includes backing vocals by the singer's brothers, the Jacksons, is certainly evocative of that era, and it's believed the recording was made during the "Dangerous" (1991) album sessions; Jackson's vocals have changed over the ensuing years, arguably for the worse.

The result is a so-so song and not a final, innovative, flourish...

The single will be released, both online and in bricks and mortar stores, later this month. And will be followed by the "This Is It" soundtrack, which will contain previously released material from Michael Jackson's blockbusting solo career, sequenced to match the movie, and unreleased material. Whether or not it contains any hidden gems remains to be seen! Sony stands to make a mint regardless...

Thursday, 8 October 2009

Grand Monster Slam

Guest post written by John Rivers

Why start a blog about monsters? It's a question I found myself coming back to as I was setting up Godzilla Eats Diss! over and over again. There are hundreds of genre blogs on the net, but it occurred to me that in recent times much of what we associate with 'monsters' in both horror and sci-fi had actually been referring to Zombies and Vampires.

Now Twilight, Zombieland, Shaun of the Dead, True Blood et al are all fine in their own right, but both zombies and vampires rely on the notion of human modification and very often flirt with that middle-ground between human and inhuman. What about the creatures that weren't human, that were so utterly inhuman they helped define mankind by what it wasn't? This got me thinking. Two recent movies had brought monsters back to the cinema in a big way - Cloverfield and The Host, not to mention the relaunch of Doctor Who, which returned aliens and creatures back into the world of genre, outside the bipeds creatures frequently seen on Stargate or even the new look Cylons from Battlestar.

With this in mind I decided to set up a blog for those of us who loved monsters. Whether it's the giant ants in the New Mexico desert in Them! Godzilla (and many others) attacking Tokyo, the thing chasing Kirk down the frozen wastes of Delta Vega in the new Star Trek, the Alien Queen engaging Ripley in hand-to-hand combat or the Slitheen planning another intergalactic war for profit in Doctor Who then this is the site for you!

We aim to cover as much as we can, from the genius of legends like Ray Harryhausen to the straight-to-DVD crap that plagues the late-night schedules of the Sci-Fi Channel, we hope that you'll find something to enjoy or at least jump-start a memory or idea on Godzilla Eats Diss!

Also, John doesn't know it yet, but he's going to write for us about the giant monsters in the Star Wars movies, aren't you, John? Unleash the Rancor!

John Rivers is an award-winning digital marketing bod who lives in North London with his cat. A long time movie and TV fan, he writes a rather 'Angry' blog about Doctor Who, while also moderating on Gallifrey Base, the net's biggest Doctor Who forum. In a monster smackdown, he'd be on Gamera's side.

If you would like to submit a guest post, please email.

Tuesday, 6 October 2009

New Doctor, new logo



The Doctor Who logo has undergone almost as many changes as the Time Lord himself!

This would be counterproductive for most brands! Logos are intended to engender immediate brand recognition and none more successfully than Apple or McDonald's. However, in the, perhaps unique, case of Doctor Who, it's appropriate when viewed in the broader context of consumer expectations - new Doctor, new TARDIS interior and so on...

But what do you think? Is it an improvement on recent efforts, an indulgence at the license payers expense, or do you remain unconvinced? And, if you were to pick a logo, from 1963 onwards, which would be your favourite? I'll go with the 'diamond logo' myself!

Saturday, 19 September 2009

The Sith shop at Toys "R" Us

Shoppers attending today's Grand Opening of Toys "R" Us, Exeter, were greeted by some of George Lucas' most memorable creations from his Star Wars and Indiana Jones sagas.



Indiana Jones, Lord Darth Vader and Stormtroopers outside the newest Toys "R" Us store in the UK. The UK Garrison of the 501st Legion was on hand to supply some official Star Wars razzle-dazzle in the aid of charity.

Inside the store there were bargains to be had. For example up to 50% off video games and consoles. However, I left the store without any bounty!

With the start of the gift giving season only weeks away. Toys "R" Us couldn't have opened at a better time! Despite the economic recession, I wouldn't bet against this destination store's success.

Suffice to say that the 'Force' was strong with the opening event and a geek like me was in his element!

Wednesday, 9 September 2009

Ten App Store video games you should own!

To mark Apple's "Rock and Roll" event in San Francisco, which should usher in new iPods. These are my suggested top ten iPhone/iPod touch video games that you should own (in no particular order):

DOOM Resurrection (iTunes link)
On-rail shooters don't come much better than this atmospheric and visceral experience. Surely the Dead Space franchise won't be too far behind?

Mr. Driller (iTunes link)
Namco's diminutive Dig Dug franchise is very much alive and well in the Noughties!

Space Invaders Infinity Gene (iTunes link)
Contender for game of the year! Read my review to find out why here.

Wolfenstein RPG (iTunes link)
Hot on the heels of Wolfenstein 3D. RPG is a must for any fan of compelling game play!

Spider: The Secret of Bryce Manor (iTunes link)
The narrative of the Bryce family weaves a wonderful web.

Castle of Magic (iTunes link)
Every successful video games console has a mascot. Mario for Nintendo and Sonic for Sega. Now there's a contender for iPhone. Meet Wizzy, you won't regret it!

ROLANDO 2: Quest for the Golden Orchid (iTunes link)

WORMS (iTunes link)

Flight Control (iTunes link)
The game that garnered plaudits from the Twittering generation and with just cause!

The Secret of Monkey Island: Special Edition (iTunes link)
This game needs no introduction. Point and click has translated well to Apple's portable gaming platform. Can't wait for the likes of Full Throttle, Sam & Max, Day of the Tentacle and Indiana Jones and the Fate of Atlantis.

By no means definitive, but there you have it! Please suggest your own favourites in comments.

Friday, 14 August 2009

Bryan Singer at the helm of Battlestar Galactica



Entertainment Weekly confirms speculation that Bryan Singer will be directing the upcoming Battlestar Galactica movie:

"Battlestar Galactica is getting the big-screen treatment. Universal Pictures has confirmed blog speculation that Bryan Singer, director of Valkyrie, will take on directing and producing duties for a BSG movie. Glen Larson, who created original series back in 1978, will produce as well. The film is not expected to be a continuation of current popular television show that’s running on the SyFy network but will be a complete re-imagining of the sci-fi lore that was invented by Larson back in the 70s."

The notion of seeing Bryan Singer's vision of Battlestar Galactica, on the big screen with composer John Ottman interpolating Stu Phillips' memorable score, is enthralling. Mattel should produce the toy line, as the company did in the late 1970s, sans infamous missiles this time!

To paraphrase Star Wars and Battlestar Galactica's special effects impresario John Dykstra - I can't wait to see a kick-ass fight in space...

Thursday, 13 August 2009

Tron Legacy fan art by James White



This Tron Legacy poster is not official by any means. However, it's impressive and splendidly evocative of the franchise's 'neon' trademark.

The poster was designed by artist James White, who has worked for such clients as Toyota, Armada Skis, VH1 Latin America and MTV. See the original poster on James White's website here.

And for those of us who grew up in the 1980s; here's the original iconic Tron poster as seen in the hit television series Chuck.

Wednesday, 29 July 2009

Space Invaders evolves for iPhone



In a week that witnessed the arrival of The Secret of Monkey Island: SE and Resident Evil 4 on the iPhone and iPod touch. Along comes the video game that started it all - for me at least - the Granddaddy of shooters. Space Invaders. Triumphantly returning in a newly-evolved incarnation; Taito splices Space Invader and OS 3.0 DNA to create a species surpassing spellbinder.

At only £2.99 Taito's Space Invaders Infinity Gene is a scrolling shooter that uses Space Invaders characters, but incorporates shooter elements from RayForce, RayStorm, RayCrisis games, and RPG elements.



Space Invaders Infinity Gene embraces a new OS 3.0 feature that allows applications to access your iTunes music library on the iPhone/iPod touch. Doing so, not only lets you listen to the latest Black Eyed Peas' single or relive childhood dreams of being The Last Starfighter. An algorithm creates a unique level design, which provides, potentially, infinite replay value. I played a level listening to "Boom Boom Pow" and the screen was transformed into retro razzle-dazzle with Tron neon as icing on the cake. No hint of slowdown whatsoever.

For all the abundant technological prowess, on display here, there's a fly in the ointment! For some inexplicable reason my iPod touch (2G) prompts me to repeatedly reboot due to lack of memory! Hopefully this memory management issue will be fixed in a future update that also ushers in so-called "augmented reality" with OS 3.1. Just in time for the rumoured iPod touch (3G) this upcoming gift giving season.



Quite possibly one of the best video gaming experiences on any platform: Space Invaders Infinity Gene should be on every video gamers "must-have" list.

***** out of *****

Monday, 20 July 2009

New Doctor Who costume revealed & companion named



Production started today on the new series of Doctor Who in which viewers will meet the Eleventh Doctor and his companion for the very first time.

The latest incarnation of the iconic character is played by Matt Smith (Party Animals). Upon arriving on set in Cardiff, for his first day of filming, Smith commented: “I feel very privileged and proud to be part of this iconic show. The scripts are brilliant and working alongside Karen, Steven and the rest of the crew is an inspiration because their work ethic and passion for the show is so admirable. I’m excited about the future and all the brilliant adventures I get to go on as the Doctor.”

The Doctor's new costume evokes Patrick Troughton's 'Cosmic Hobo' and Professor Henry Jones, Sr from Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade! I can foresee Cybermen, Daleks and Yeti in the Eleventh Doctor's future...

Aside from an updated wardrobe. The Doctor will also have a new companion - Amy Pond (any connection with 1990s video game character James Pond is purely coincidental) - played by Karen Gillan, who meets the Time Lord in episode one of the new series.

The new series follows on from three Doctor Who specials starring David Tennant which will transmit later this year. Early next year Tennant passes the iconic baton, AKA Sonic Screwdriver, to Smith.

About the series Steven Moffat commented: “And here it is, the big moment - the new Doctor, and his new best friend. And here's me, with the job I wanted since I was seven. 40 years to here! If I could go back in time and tell that little boy that one day all this would happen, he'd scream, call for his Mum and I'd be talking to you now from a prison cell in 1969. So probably best not then. Matt and Karen are going to be incredible, and Doctor Who is going to come alive on Saturday nights in a whole new way - and best of all, somewhere out there, a seven-year-old is going to see them, fall in love, and start making a forty year plan...”

The actors' smiles are reassuring; I'm looking forward to Steven Moffat's tenure at the helm of Doctor Who! As in the past, a change in production team will, hopefully, witness an updated opening title sequence, theme (a fly in the ointment since the series triumphant return in 2005) and a new TARDIS console.

Thursday, 16 July 2009

The Man in the Iron Mask

Robert Downey Jr., Scarlett Johansson and Mickey Rourke grace the cover of Entertainment Weekly's second annual San Diego Comic-Con (SDCC) preview issue!



A few months ago I started renting films from LOVEFiLM. The ideal means to 'try before I buy' and to see films that I may have otherwise overlooked sans sky movies subscription since moving to Freesat+.

Iron Man was one such rental. And, to my delight, the film was far superior to what I'd expected, which was very little in the spirit of full disclosure! Robert Downey Jr. was most charismatic in the lead role of Tony Stark. So, it's with glee that I eagerly await Iron Man 2! Especially with the addition of Scarlett Johansson playing the Black Widow. Presumably providing romantic trammels for Pepper Potts (Gwyneth Paltrow) and Stark.



I'd love to get my hands on a copy of Entertainment Weekly.

Sunday, 12 July 2009

Download droidMAKER for free!



On June 29th Michael Rubin made his critically-acclaimed book droidMAKER: George Lucas and the Digital Revolution available as a free download!

Twitter proved its invaluable credentials as people tweeted links to the news, which was broken by Binary Bonsai. I dutifully played my part by retweeting too. However, it was while exchanging emails with Michael, that it was decided a belated blog post would be beneficial too! Especially for readers that do not follow me on Twitter.

From an insiders perspective: droidMAKER breathtakingly chronicles the rise of Lucasfilm, paradigm shifting digital production methodologies, the genesis of PIXAR and the legacy of Star Wars! To find out more, please read Michael Rubin's original blog post here.

I am providing the following download links to the "3 Acts" as a courtesy. The files maybe removed, without notice, at the discretion of the author:

Act 1: Intro plus Chapters 1-6 (PDF - 1.8MB)
Act 2: Chapters 7-17 (PDF - 3.7MB)
Act 3: Chapters 18-26, Index (PDF - 4.3MB)

Not only for Star Wars fans, but anyone with an interest in media production, I'd recommend purchasing droidMAKER from Amazon! You won't regret it.

You should follow me on twitter here.

Thursday, 9 July 2009

mimobot® Maul 'give-away' contest

In celebration of the 10-year anniversary of Star Wars Episode 1 releasing to massive and adoring crowds, we're proud to present the dual-bladed Iridonian Sith Lord, Darth Maul! The protege of Darth Sidious preceding Darth Tyrannus and Darth Vader, Maul and his iconic soundtrack immediately became a favorite of fans throughout the Star Wars world - at least until Obi-Wan Kenobi cut him in half and dropped him down a pit.



Mimoco – the Boston-based designer toy studio/consumer electronics brand responsible for the world’s only character-based designer USB flash drives – and myself are offering one lucky reader a chance to win Darth Maul in his fantastic mimobot incarnation!

"Tatooine is sparsely populated. If the trace is correct, I will find them quickly, Master."

Required entry details
To enter for a chance of winning this really cool prize. Browse mimoco's range of Star Wars characters and tell me which character(s) you would like to see released next via comment on this post and subscribe by RSS to this blog.

Optional extra entry on Twitter
Follow me on Twitter. Copy and paste the following into Twitter: "RT @johnhood: @mimobot® Maul 'give-away' contest: http://tinyurl.com/nlr8g2 #starwars". Please tweet me and/or post a second comment.

Optional extra entry via blog post
Blog about this 'give-away' contest with a link back here.

The competition is open to everyone and closes August 31st 2009. The winner will be randomly selected by me. My decision will be final! Good luck.

Special thanks to mimoco for supplying the competition prize. See the entire mimobot® range here. Follow Mimobot and mimobotMichelle on Twitter.

You should follow me on twitter here.

Thursday, 2 July 2009

HBO's True Blood on FX

On July 17th HBO's Golden Globe-winning series True Blood exclusively premieres on UK television network FX.

True Blood is an American television drama series created and produced by Alan Ball (American Beauty and Six Feet Under). It is based on the The Southern Vampire Mysteries series of novels by Charlaine Harris.



After watching episodes 1 & 2 on the preview DVD included in FX's press pack: True Blood is best described as a darkly comic soap noir in the vain of Twin Peaks and Six Feet Under.

True Blood's not for the faint-hearted or easily offended! Anyone expecting Twilight the television series should look elsewhere! However, I'll most certainly be watching the rest of the season, with avid interest, once it's available on Blu-ray disc. Buffy maybe long off our television screens. But, vampires outlive even her epic feats!

Sans FX? Download True Blood S1 on iTunes here.

On Twitter? Follow TrueBloodFXUK for all the latest news.

You should follow me on twitter here.

Friday, 26 June 2009

Generation Thriller



Thursday night witnessed an unprecedented sociological experience. A collective grief shared on social networking site Twitter!

During an advert break I checked Twitter, on my iPod touch, and noticed tweets alluding to Michael Jackson's admission into hospital. Startled, I switched over to various mainstream news networks to confirm the rumour... As the news, and tweets, escalated, I resigned myself to the fact that he was dead and even tweeted to the affect prior to any official confirmation! Followers replied contrary in the hope that it couldn't be true and, obviously, I wanted them to be right.

Alas. Michael Jackson died after suffering a cardiac arrest and slipping into a coma. His death eerily echoing my mum's, only two years ago, this month. I didn't sleep...

Michael Jackson was a childhood hero. Part of an illustrious pantheon that included fictional characters Doctor Who, Luke Skywalker, Kermit and Batman! Jackson, himself, embraced science fiction and fantasy in ground breaking videos such as "Can You Feel It", Disney's "Captain EO" and the prophetically titled "Thriller".

I've no intention of addressing any of the speculation surrounding his personal life. This is a tribute to a cultural phenomenon who, alongside American film composer John Williams, engendered a life long love of music and how it transforms the emotion of the moving image.

Before I heard "Don't Stop Till You Get Enough", at the age of 7, I would only listen, willingly, to classical music and orchestral film soundtracks. I'm sure MJ's enthusiastic reference to the Force in Star Wars, helped too.

Equal parts bizarre and poignant that the last time I should see Michael Jackson would be not at Wembley Stadium or the upcoming O2 Arena residency, instead it was Exeter! He was, briefly, an honourary director of the Grecians and I can still recall his clarion call to hold hands with the person next to you! This was in keeping with concert performances.

More myth than man. Michael Jackson was an enigma force. Combining consummately crafted songs and stellar, gravity-defying, dance moves, his concerts remain vivid and surreal experiences by which I judge all live performances. Indelible memories as my best friend tweeted, that I'll cherish forever. Thank you Moonwalker. That's all I'm going to say...

In death Michael Jackson proved, as always, unstoppable and an achiever of the impossible. RIP 'MJ' and say hello to my mum. She'll finally get to see you dance.

I'll sign off this post, in the manner that I did on my Twitter stream, with Michael Jackson's maxim: "Don't Stop Till You Get Enough".

You should follow me on twitter here.

Monday, 22 June 2009

Apple won't play with Commodore for iPhone



The Commodore 64 is my all-time favourite 8-bit home computer! Yes, Atari's XL range and Apple ][ outclassed the Commodore 64, and I owned a Sinclair ZX Spectrum first. But, my fondest childhood video gaming experiences were reserved for Jack Tramiel's 8-bit "breadbox"! What child of the '80s could ever forget playing Impossible Mission or The Way of the Exploding Fist?

When word reached me, via Twitter, that an officially licensed Commodore 64 emulator for iPhone had been rejected by Apple, I, like many others, am left feeling most disappointed.

This is a transcript of the rejection email sent to Manomio (developer of Commodore 64 for iPhone), which is freely available on the internet:

Thank you for submitting C64 1.0 to the App Store. We've reviewed C64 1.0 and determined that we cannot post this version of your iPhone application to the App Store because it violates the iPhone SDK Agreement; "3.3.2 An Application may not itself install or launch other executable code by any means, including without limitation through the use of a plug-in architecture, calling other frameworks, other APIs or otherwise. No interpreted code may be downloaded and used in an Application except for code that is interpreted and run by Apple's Published APIs and built-in interpreter(s)."

Manomio has published a statement on its site that says, “We hope you'll support us by blogging, tweeting and simply talking about C64 for iPhone, in the hope Apple will change their mind.”

Hopefully Commodore 64 for iPhone will garner Apple's approval, however capricious that process may be. I'll post an update in due course. Read A Closer Look at C64's Rejection on Touch Arcade.

In the meantime, why not download Manomio's Flashback for iPhone.

Update: Manomio has been contacted by Apple and hopes to resolve the issue in the coming days. wOOt for social media. In retro we trust!

You should follow me on twitter here.

Thursday, 18 June 2009

Robin Hobb signing at Forbidden Planet

Forbidden Planet is pleased to announce a signing by Robin Hobb. She will be signing her newest novel The Dragon Keeper at the Forbidden Planet Megastore, 179 Shaftesbury Avenue, London, WC2H 8JR, on Saturday 11th July from 1 - 2pm.

Return to the world of the Liveships Traders! Mutant-born Thymara is fascinated by the return of dragons – as if they symbolise the return of hope to the war-torn world. But the creatures emerging are travesties of the shining dragons of old. Stunted and deformed, they cannot fly; they’re witless and bestial. They become a danger and something must be done. To be a Dragon Keeper is a dangerous job: their charges are vicious and unpredictable, and there are many unknown perils on the journey to a city that may not even exist...

Margaret Alice Lindholm Ogden was born in California and majored in Communications at Denver University, Colorado. As well as The Tawny Man, she has published two other fantasy series, The Farseer Trilogy and The Liveship Traders, under the name Robin Hobb. She also wrote several novels under another pseudonym, Megan Lindholm.

Forbidden Planet is the largest store of its kind in the world. Some of the biggest names in Sci-Fi, Fantasy, Comics and Cult Entertainment have come to our London Megastore for signing events, including: Neil Gaiman, Terry Pratchett, Terry Gilliam, Simon Pegg, William Gibson, Mark Millar, Guillermo Del Toro, Brian Froud and Stephen King.

For more news about our signings please go to: http://www.forbiddenplanet.com/Signings.html

Sunday, 14 June 2009

New Transformers Blu-ray BD-Live content

In anticipation of the theatrical release of Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen. Owners of Transformers (Blu-ray) will receive a BD-Live upgrade on June 16th!

The following content will be made available for free download:

* Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen Sneak Peek — Footage from the new film
* From the set of Revenge of the Fallen: Day 1 — An exclusive inside look at the first day of shooting
* From the set of Revenge of the Fallen: A Day in the Shade —A comical look at the differences between Megan and Shia's on-set treatment
* Never-Before-Seen Deleted Scenes from Transformers
* Fly on the Set: Pentagon — On the set filming of the Pentagon Military Command Center
* Music and Mayhem — Renowned special effects house ILM deconstructs the blockbuster action of Transformers
* Metal in Motion — Special effects tests and early robot animation
* Stunts 101 — An in-depth look at the amazing stunts in Transformers
* Choose Your Weapon —A fly on the wall glimpse into the selection of weapons and how they were used by the film's soldiers
* The Man in the Ice — From design to production, watch the Arctic come to life on various sets in Los Angeles, California
* Voices — The voices behind the Autobots and Decepticons
* Audition Tapes: Megan Fox — Megan's original Transformers audition

The BD-Live content was originally mooted for a speculated Transformers (Blu-ray) Special Edition release to coincide with Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen. This tactic won't alienate consumers, may incentivize Blu-ray purchases and is most welcome.

Thursday, 11 June 2009

Revenge is Coming

With the official UK theatrical release of Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen only a week away. You can now download IDW Publishing's lavishly illustrated comic book adaptation #1-4. Avoid if you do not want to read spoilers.



It's worth pointing out that you can now follow @ParamountUK on Twitter!

After seeing Terminator Salvation - A misguided melange of Mad Max meets Transformers-wannabe via Spacehunter: Adventures in the Forbidden Zone - at the refurbished Odeon, Exeter...

Bring on the Bayhem!

Download on iTunes

You should follow me on twitter here.

Friday, 5 June 2009

PlayStation Home Transforms

June 5th, 2009: To promote the release of TRANSFORMERS: REVENGE OF THE FALLEN, Paramount Pictures International (PPI) and Sony Computer Entertainment Europe (SCEE) today announced the release of a selection of Transformers merchandise, available exclusively through a virtual treasure hunt in Home.

A variety of T-Shirts and a unique ‘Autobot Trophy’ will be rewarded to residents who embark on the ‘Transformers Quest’. This activity continues PPI’s commitment to take innovative film marketing within online virtual communities to the next level. TRANSFORMERS: REVENGE OF THE FALLEN, directed by Michael Bay, is due to release internationally on June 24th this year.

Starting today, Home residents can begin the quest by finding the Transformers theatrical poster, placed at a few points throughout the public spaces in Home. Another will succeed this poster and targeting it will launch the first in a series of games that will be released over the coming days and weeks. The completion of each game will deliver a unique voucher code, which can be redeemed for an exclusive piece of Transformers merchandise. More information about the game can be found on the PlayStation EU Forum.

Home residents can already watch the TRANSFORMERS: REVENGE OF THE FALLEN trailer in the Home Cinema and this treasure hunt will take Transformers to all corners of PlayStation Home.

Both companies are again working with marketing agency, The Picture Production Company (PPC), heavily experienced in film promotion and marketing within virtual worlds and across the wider social web, on strategic direction, original content production and promotion.

Home is a 3D social gaming community that allows PLAYSTATION®3 users to meet, chat, plan, and launch into games together. They can create their own custom avatar, decorate their personal apartment, play mini-games, shop, watch videos and attend special events.

This press release originally appeared on Silverscreen and is republished with kind permission.

Thursday, 4 June 2009

Download Transformers comics on iTunes

To mark the theatrical release of Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen, IDW Publishing has launched the official comic book prequels on iTunes!

Journey across the globe as humans and AUTOBOTS join forces to defend Earth against the DECEPTICON threat in Transformers: Alliance. The very origins of CYBERTRON are revealed in Defiance, which leads directly to the start of the movie. Get all eight comics on iTunes or at your local book store.

Download from iTunes

Monday, 25 May 2009

Happy Birthday to Star Wars!

Star Wars debuted in theatres on May 25, 1977 changing cinema forever... It also happened to be the first film I saw at the cinema!

My late mother took me to see Star Wars. Therefore I dedicate this post in loving memory to you mum. The force has a lot of power...

Friday, 22 May 2009

Tara McPherson signing at Forbidden Planet

Forbidden Planet is pleased to announce a signing by Tara McPherson. She will be signing Lost Constellations at the Forbidden Planet Megastore, 179 Shaftesbury Avenue, London, WC2H 8JR, on Thursday 11th June 6 - 7pm

Tara is based in New York City and creates art about people and their odd ways. Recalling many issues from childhood and good old life experience, she creates images that are thought provoking and seductive. People and their relationships are a central theme throughout her work. Lost Constellations is the second book of her astounding artwork, following the success of Lonely Heart.

Tara exhibits her paintings and serigraphs in fine art galleries all over the world. Named the crown princess of poster art by ELLE Magazine, she has created numerous gig posters for rock bands such as Beck, Modest Mouse, and Melvins. Her array of art also includes painted comics and covers for various high-profile companies and she has created toys with KidRobot. Her art has also been featured in the Oscar Award-winning film Juno, Veronica Mars, Point Pleasant, and Guitar Hero.

Forbidden Planet is the largest store of its kind in the world. Some of the biggest names in Sci-Fi, Fantasy, Comics and Cult Entertainment have come to our London Megastore for signing events, including: Neil Gaiman, Terry Pratchett, Terry Gilliam, Simon Pegg, William Gibson, Mark Millar, Guillermo Del Toro, Brian Froud and Stephen King.

For more news about our signings please go to: http://www.forbiddenplanet.com/Signings.html

Wednesday, 20 May 2009

Till Death (Or the Republic) Do Us Part

Guest post written by Gavin Nachbar

Duncan Thomson and Sammi Gardiner met a long time ago, in a place far, far away.

This past May 4, Duncan, 41, arrived to his wedding sporting black pants and a black vest, and Sammi, 39, came wearing a white dress and a veil. She walked the isle amongst friends and family who came dressed for the occasion too. Yes…the best man came dressed as Chewbacca.



Both avid fans of all the Star Wars movies, Duncan and Sammi saw it only fitting that they get married at a Star Wars themed wedding, on Star Wars day. The couple, from the Isle of Wight, had both been married before and saw no need to have a “typical wedding.” The theme was an easy choice, seeing as their first date back in May 2005 was going to see Revenge of the Sith.

Family friend Dan Cawpheray, embodying the character of Darth Vader, delivered the sermon in a Star Wars style flanked by two Imperial Stormtroopers. He started off by saying, "Members of the Galactic Empire, Duncan and Sammi met a long time ago, in a place far, far away. The force is strong with these two.”

And at the time when most brides and grooms promise to be together “through sickness and in health,” Duncan went that much further and said, "I promise to protect you from carbon freezing and promise to protect you from the Dark Side, through hyperspace and into the far reaches of the galaxy."

Although most parts of Star Wars were included throughout the ceremony, the couple had to take out all the parts with referencing a “Jedi”, since it is in fact a recognized religion.

The ceremony ended with the bride and the groom exchanging rings. The bride's ring was made out a meteorite found from Canyon Diablo, in the US, and read “May the 4th be with you.”

Despite all the fun, though, George Lucas was not on hand for the wedding, although the newlyweds did extend the olive branch to the creator of Star Wars. Lucas even responded with a personal letter from Skywalker Ranch saying that he could not go. Said Mr. Thomson of Lucas not being able to attend, "It was a shame he could not be here but I hope he sees the pictures and sees that we did him proud."

Gavin Nachbar is a freelance writer. If you would like to submit a guest post, please email.

Sunday, 10 May 2009

Star Trek: The Touch Generation



JJ Abrams' Star Trek reboot is a revelation, that has challenged my jaded expectations of a franchise that no longer seemed relevant, nor enjoyable! Abrams' and his cohorts have passed the Kobayashi Maru test: with such kinetic zeal and aplomb it's exhausting!

The traditional revenge narrative is predicated on the notion that the future of Star Trek has been altered, irrevocably, by time-travelling Romulans lead by Nero (an uncharismatic Eric Bana)! An age old deceit, which is most welcome here. We're, literally, in an undiscovered country...

JJ Abrams proved his character-driven credentials with original network television drama series such as Felicity, Alias and Lost! The underrated M:I III proved conclusively that action sequences can boast bombast, but not at the expense of human drama. Star Trek cements that reputation to the nth degree with the interpersonal conflicts between Kirk, Spock and Nero.

The hero shots are reserved, rightly, for the USS Enterprise itself! The starship's design referencing the incarnations seen in Star Trek I to VI. The bridge is imbued with the design ethos of Steve Jobs' Apple - another successful reboot! This is an Enterprise for the iPhone and iPod touch generation!

This Trek has been rebuilt from the ground up. A master stroke that reconnects/introduces many fans (myself included) to the adventures of Kirk, Spock and Bones! Frankly, I'll always prefer Kirk in the captain's chair! Phasers on stunning...

Shop Star Trek Store for cool collectibles from the movie and more!

You should follow me on twitter here.

Monday, 4 May 2009

Celebrate Star Wars Day on Twitter!

Celebrate Star Wars Day by following @starwars!

May The Fourth Be With You Always.

Sunday, 19 April 2009

Follow me on Twitter!

Yes, I'm on Twitter! Follow me so I can reach a million too! Now that's out of the way, lets get to the real crux of this short Sunday post!

Twitter has been overshadowed by the 'halo of celebrity'! While there are public figures who charmingly engage their myriad followers such as Jonathan Ross (@Wossy) and Alyssa Milano (@Alyssa_Milano). There are celebrities who are, arguably, 'old school' broadcasters! @Michellemmm most eloquently expresses the point (far better than I ever could) in her Tumblr post - Did Ashton Kutcher Set You Free?

This has witnessed a paradigm shift in the Twitter culture. Long time followers, with whom I'd shared engaging discourses, unfollowed me without warning nor apparent cause, and switched to monotone broadcasts as their follower numbers disproportionately increased.

I saw my own following increase and I reciprocated, for a while, before realising that I could no longer extract any 'value' out of Twitter due to so much activity in my stream - 24/7. Thus begun the cull - a subjective process! This didn't go unnoticed, and some followers began bombarding (and flaming) me with repetitive tweets, that I had to block...

On the one hand I was evangelising the service, to both family and friends, and on the other I was contemplating joining the exodus... To paraphrase Doctor Who's Cybermen "Delete! Delete! Delete!" Thankfully, after careful consideration, I, ultimately, chose not to!

@Documentally recently posed this question:

"I'm looking for the best explanation of what Twitter is in 140 characters or less.. No prize just the love and respect of all."

I replied -

"Twitter is whatever you want it to be!"

For me it's not about numbers - incorporating circular ideological arguments regarding why are you following them and not me? - and broadcasting ad nauseam, it's so much, much, more... It's about communication, connecting and, you know what, having fun. Can't wait to have jam sandwiches with my peeps @SEGA!

You should follow me on twitter here.

Monday, 6 April 2009

Twilight descends on Forbidden Planet!

The Forbidden Planet Megastore in London was the heart of Twilight mania last night as fans descended on the store at midnight to be the first in the UK to grab the DVD release of the astonishing cult hit movie of 2008.

Fans had already started queuing by midday & the line constantly grew throughout the day as evermore eager fans arrived, all excited at the prospect of getting their hands on the DVD at midnight!

From the massively popular series of books, the movie release last year cemented the Twilight phenomenon. Forbidden Planet has become the fan centre for the best place to find the finest Twilight merchandise and books.

Thirty lucky ‘Twilighters’ got their hands on DVD sleeves signed by members of the cast – and there were goodies and give-aways galore.

As well as the DVD, merchandise on sale included replica jewelry from the movie, posters, T shirts and an action figure of the film’s star, heart throb Robert Pattinson!

Forbidden Planet is the largest store of its kind in the world. Some of the biggest names in Sci-Fi, Fantasy, Comics and Cult Entertainment have come to our London Megastore for signing events, including: Neil Gaiman, Terry Pratchett, Terry Gilliam, Simon Pegg, William Gibson, Mark Millar, Guillermo Del Toro, Brian Froud and Stephen King.

For more news about our signings please go to: http://www.forbiddenplanet.com/Signings.html

Friday, 3 April 2009

Twilight Midnight opening at Forbidden Planet

Be the first to bite on most eagerly anticipated release of the year – TWILIGHT on DVD is coming to 179 Shaftesbury Avenue, London, WC2H 8JR, on Sunday 5th April at exactly midnight!

The vampires are coming to FP! You can take the forbidden romance of Bella and Edward home early when you come down to the London Megastore to pick up your copy of TWILIGHT on DVD or Blu-Ray. Plus we’ve got goodies and give-aways – and loads of gorgeously dark merchandise just waiting for you to treat yourself… or that forbidden lover of your own!

EXCLUSIVE! First 30 purchasers of the Special Edition will receive a DVD sleeve signed by one or more of the following cast members: -

Peter Facinelli (Carlisle Cullen)
Kellan Lutz (Emmett Cullen)
Christian Serratos (Angela Weber)
Justin Chon (Eric Yorkie)
Ashley Greene (Alice Cullen)
Free posters!
Huge range of Twilight goodies available on the night - including restocks of the Edward action figure!

Forbidden Planet is the largest store of its kind in the world. Some of the biggest names in Sci-Fi, Fantasy, Comics and Cult Entertainment have come to our London Megastore for signing events, including: Neil Gaiman, Terry Pratchett, Terry Gilliam, Simon Pegg, William Gibson, Mark Millar, Guillermo Del Toro, Brian Froud and Stephen King.

For more news about our signings please go to: http://www.forbiddenplanet.com/Signings.html

Thursday, 2 April 2009

Sega's Madworld of Social Media

Long time readers will already know that I'm a self-confessed Sega fanboy! There's really no more eloquent way to express it!

Since the 8-bit home computer era, Sega has held me enthralled with the likes of Congo Bongo and Zaxxon! From playing Space Harrier, in a Clacton Pier arcade, to Virtua Fighter, in SegaWorld Bournemouth, Sega has been synonymous with most, if not all, of my favourite video game franchises. To use an overused soft drinks analogy: if Nintendo is Coca-Cola then Sega is its cooler competitor Pepsi, which I've always preferred!

The last few months have witnessed the exponential growth of Twitter and, with it, a surge of internationally recognised brands establishing a substantive presence on the social media service. Sega has been quick to embrace Twitter, both as a broadcast and conversational medium, and started following me prior to the end of last year.

To be honest, I wasn't even sure that it really was Sega until I'd undertaken some detective work! Rest assured Sega is officially on Twitter and, if you truly care about video games, you should be following @Sega too! Followed, good, lets continue...

Fast forward to last Friday and, in the midst of twittering, the offer of reviewing Sega's video games came straight from the horse's mouth. Double take.

Over the coming weeks expect to see my review of Sega's Madworld (Wii) and, hopefully, many more illustrious titles from Sega's stable...

SEGA on Facebook

You should follow me on twitter here.