Friday, 23 June 2017

Jason Isaacs as Captain Lorca in Star Trek: Discovery



Here's a first look at Jason Isaacs as Captain Lorca in Star Trek: Discovery courtesy of the fine folks at EW.

The upcoming prequel series is set ten years before the original series and begins airing on CBS All Access on 24th September. Netflix will stream the series outside the US sometime thereafter.

Each episode has a purported budget of $6-7 million dollars and is a big gamble for the streaming network. However, Star Trek: Discovery maybe able to reach a mainstream audience much like the rebooted film franchise. The partnership with Netflix can only be a plus for the fledgling series.

The unaired series has been accused of being too diverse by some fans.

“Well, I would encourage them to key into the essence and spirit of Star Trek that has made it the legacy it is — and that’s looking across the way to the person sitting in front of you and realising you are the same, that they are not separate from you, and we are all one,” Sonequa Martin-Green told Entertainment Weekly.

“That’s something Star Trek has always upheld and I completely believe that is why it’s been a mainstay in society in the hearts of so many people for so many decades,” she added. “I would encourage them to look past their opinions and social conditioning and key into what we’re doing here — which is telling a story about humanity that will hopefully bring us all together.”

Diversity and inclusion has always been a hallmark of the Star Trek franchise. Star Trek's creator Gene Roddenberry was a pioneer.

Thursday, 22 June 2017

Ron Howard to direct Han Solo Star Wars spin-off



Following news that directors Phil Lord and Chris Miller had been fired from the untilted Han Solo Star Wars spin-off. Lucasfilm has announced Ron Howard is the new captain of the troubled production.

Howard has a long history with Lucasfilm. He starred alongside Harrison Ford (Han Solo) in George Lucas' American Graffiti and directed Willow. The Apollo 13 director was approached by the creator of Star Wars to direct The Phantom Menace:

"[George Lucas] didn’t necessarily want to direct them. He told me he had talked to Robert Zemeckis, Steven Spielberg, and me. I was the third one he spoke to. They all said the same thing: “George, you should do it!” I don’t think anybody wanted to follow-up that act at the time. It was an honor, but it would’ve been too daunting."

The Star Wars spin-off was only weeks away from completing principal photography. So, it'll be interesting to see how Howard steadies the ship and finishes the film in a manner matching Lucasfilms' vision.

Wednesday, 21 June 2017

Phil Lord and Chris Miller fired from Star Wars spin-off



Directors Phil Lord and Christopher Miller have disembarked from the upcoming Han Solo Star Wars spin-off movie due for release May 2018. A new director will be announced soon.

“Phil Lord and Christopher Miller are talented filmmakers who have assembled an incredible cast and crew, but it’s become clear that we had different creative visions on this film, and we’ve decided to part ways. A new director will be announced soon,” said Kathleen Kennedy, president of Lucasfilm.

“Unfortunately, our vision and process weren’t aligned with our partners on this project. We normally aren’t fans of the phrase ‘creative differences’ but for once this cliché is true. We are really proud of the amazing and world-class work of our cast and crew,” stated Phil Lord and Christopher Miller.

After Phil Lord and Christopher Miller took to the stage at Star Wars Celebration Europe, I was really looking forward to seeing them play in the Star Wars sandpit. The directors have a deft ability to take something overtly commercial and make it fun as exemplified in The LEGO Movie.

Bizarrely, the Han Solo spin-off has been filming since January. So, perhaps there's a tonal issue between the directors and Lucasfilm? It's worth noting Richard Donner was famously fired from Superman II and that turned out OK. Joe Johnston (Captain America: The First Avenger) and Ron Howard (Apollo 13) are frontrunners to take the helm of the troubled Star Wars production.

In related news. Colin Trevorrow's latest movie, The Book of Henry, has met with universal criticism and some fans are calling for the director to be replaced on Episode IX. Seemingly Star Wars is having growing pains at Disney. Josh Trank departed from an untitled spin-off and Gareth Edwards' Rogue One underwent extensive reshoots. The latter didn't turn out too shabby.

Who do you think should direct the Han Solo spin-off? Let me know in the comments below.

Monday, 19 June 2017

Star Trek: Discovery explores new frontiers this Fall



Star Trek: Discovery, the delayed prequel series set a decade before the adventures of Kirk and Spock, premieres 24th September on CBS All Access. The first eight episodes will run from September through November. The series will resume in January 2018. This is to allow for further post-production on later episodes.

Fans can watch Star Trek: Discovery on Netflix outside the US. Whilst CBS may not be as enamoured with the Star Trek franchise as it once was - to the point of saturation during the Nineties. The delays, and Netflix's involvement, may elevate the sci-fi franchise back to heights enjoyed by its big screen counterpart with which it has no narrative connection.

Discovery stars Jason Isaacs (Harry Potter/Star Wars Rebels) as Captain Lorca and Sonequa Martin Green (The Walking Dead) as Michael Burnham.

The trailer had a Mass Effect vibe and piqued my interest. Will you be exploring brave new worlds with the crew of the Discovery? Let me know in the comments below.

Friday, 16 June 2017

Neill Blomkamp's Rakka starring Sigourney Weaver



Director Neill Blomkamp's Aliens sequel maybe on indefinite hiatus as Ridley Scott continues with his Alien prequel saga. However, Blomkamp's keeping busy with cinematic world building of his own.

Rakka, starring Sigourney Weaver, is a short film from Blomkamp's Oats Studios that sees the human race on the brink of extinction in the wake of an alien invasion.



The director has never shied away from political satire and this thematic subtext can be seen throughout his oeuvre from District 9 to Chappie. I'm interested to see where he goes with this next.

Carly Pope co-stars and DCTV fans will recognise her from the latest season of Arrow. Incidentally, Pope starred in Popular, a proto-Glee, alongside Wentworth Miller.

Blomkamp took to the stage at E3 to discuss distribution on Steam. Paid DLC, including 3D assets, will be made available for aspiring creatives to use. Movies as mods. Disruptive or indulgent? Let me know in the comments below.

Thursday, 15 June 2017

Bat-Signal to shine over LA in memory of Adam West



One of my most endearing childhood memories from the 1970s was watching reruns of the 1960s Batman television series starring Adam West as the titular character.

Every Saturday morning I'd be sat in my folks' kitchen, with a bowl of Rice Krispies cereal and a collection of Corgi toys, excitedly watching Batman battle a menagerie of garish foes on a portable colour TV.



I was young enough not to be encumbered by matters of time nor fiction. Batman's adventures were of the here and now, and Gotham City was real. Whenever the phone rang, I wondered if it was the caped crusader?

Holy cycle calamity, Batman! Long summer evenings, after a day at primary school, were reserved for Batman adventures with childhood friends. My hooded coat, as worn by Captain Cold (Wentworth Miller) on DCTV, doubled as a batcape much to my late mum's chagrin - it got caught more than once in the back wheel of my bike.

So, Adam West's passing from leukemia, aged 88, was personal. His Dark Knight stirred the detective within and a passion for problem solving. Batman formed part of an heroic trio including Doctor Who and The Six Million Dollar Man. Tonight the Bat-Signal will shine over LA in his memory.

Thank you, good sir. Goodnight, good knight. RIP Adam West.

Wednesday, 14 June 2017

Marvel's Spider-Man gameplay at E3



Marvel's Spider-Man gameplay footage was released during the PlayStation press conference at E3. The PS4 exclusive, seemingly channelling Uncharted and Arkham Knight, looks amazing and I'm hoping it'll evoke fond memories of playing Spider-Man 2.



The upcoming game was revealed at last year's E3. Sony's PlayStation press conference was good, if not stellar, this year. Horizon Zero Dawn will be getting new DLC in the form of The Frozen Wilds later this year. The lack of any update on The Last of Us Part II left a few fans underwhelmed. It remains to be seen if the company is holding back announcements for Gamescom this August.

Marvel's Spider-Man won't be released until 2018. Third-party developer Insomniac Games has an enviable track record with franchises including Spyro, Ratchet & Clank and Sunset Overdrive. So, it's welcome news the studio isn't going to rush release the game to coincide with Spider-Man: Homecoming this July.

Pre-order Marvel's Spider-Man for PS4 today.

Monday, 12 June 2017

Microsoft shuns VR as it unveils Xbox One X at E3



In a move echoing Apple's annual iPhone release cycle. Microsoft unveiled Xbox One X (codename Project Scorpio) during the company's Xbox E3 Briefing on Sunday. The new premium console joins, but does not replace, Xbox One and Xbox One S.

Matt Charlton shares his insights into the sleek Xbox One X and the direction Microsoft appears to be going with brand Xbox under the leadership of Phil Spencer:

"I see exactly where Microsoft are taking Xbox and it's extremely clever.

They are creating a single platform - Windows 10-based, with multiple tiers. They look to be heading down an Apple iPhone-based distribution model.

You can buy a game for Xbox knowing that it will work on your console, no matter which one you have, the more money you spend, the better graphics and performance you get.

Microsoft has moved to an annual release cycle where they bring out a new console with a new CPU and a new graphics card with more RAM, more storage and more power. The systems and ecosystem evolve with time, but you'll always be able to play the games you've bought. With the company bringing original Xbox games into the fold, it's now a cross-gen platform for anything ever released (as long as developers allow).

Game developers know the platform, they know DirectX and we don't have any of this stupidity where processor architectures change and development for one generation is completely redundant in the next. I remember reading that the PS3 was ridiculously hard to develop for. This stops that.

Different sized texture packs will ship with games, resolution and draw distances can be changed depending on spec, its no different from playing Starcraft 2 on a 4 year old laptop against playing it on an all-singing all-dancing £2000 desktop gaming rig.

Games might get a little bigger, but that's to be expected anyway. You still keep things simple by only having known hardware configurations and multiple tiers.

Also gives them the opportunity to increase their player base. Your frontrunners buy the latest consoles as they come out, the old console is still perfectly fine - they pass it on to a friend or a family member and they buy games and play.

Clever. Very clever.

It's a good time to be a gamer."


So, aside from the Xbox One X, which is garnering a mixed reaction due, primarily, to a price point of £449.99GBP when the new console is released on 7th November. The big takeaway from E3 was a dangerous lack of first-party exclusives, VR and an emphasis on indie developers. 42 games represented as a dull laundry list with BioWare's Anthem, a third-party title that deleteriously impacted Mass Effect: Andromeda's development, closing the presentation.

There was no mention of Rise of the Tomb Raider being enhanced for 4K on Xbox One X, which is disappointing given the superlative sequel was a timed exclusive and improved fidelity is available for PS4 Pro. And Halo was nowhere to be seen.

Will I get an Xbox One X? Yes. I already own a 4K UHD TV and enhanced fidelity is appealing. Plus, as Matt's already stated, all my existing Xbox games will be available to play out of the box from day-one. Something that neither Nintendo nor Sony offers.

Again, this E3 is Sony's to lose in terms of first-party exclusives and third-party marketing deals including Call of Duty: WWII, Destiny 2 and Star Wars Battlefront II. Unless Nintendo knocks it out of the park.

But, what do you think? Let me know in the comments below.

Saturday, 10 June 2017

Star Wars Battlefront II trailer at E3



A teaser trailer for Star Wars Battlefront II was shown during Star Wars Celebration Orlando last April. The teaser revealed that the single player campaign follows Inferno Squad, an Imperial special forces unit lead by Commander Iden Versio (Janina Gavankar), in the wake of the destruction of the second Death Star in Return of the Jedi.

Now, a full trailer drops during EA Play 2017 at E3. Fans finally get to see gameplay footage from the upcoming sequel to the 2015 video game franchise reboot. Unlike its predecessor, Battlefront II will traverse all three Star Wars trilogies.



Star Wars Battlefront II is out on 17th November for PS4, Xbox One and PC.

Wednesday, 7 June 2017

Theft from Star Wars 'Smithsonian' Rancho Obi-Wan



Rancho Obi-Wan, housing the largest private collection of Star Wars memorabilia in the US, has lost $200,000 in stock.

Steve Sansweet, a household name to Star Wars fans and collectors, announced the theft on Monday.

Dear fellow Star Wars fans and collectors,

I need to share some distressing news with you because I need your help.

In February we at Rancho Obi-Wan found out that we had been the victim of a major theft that surreptitiously took place over many months in late 2015 through 2016.

There were more than 100 valuable items stolen, the majority of them vintage U.S. and foreign carded action figures, many of them rare and important pieces. Most have either been resold or professionally appraised for a total of more than $200,000.

The theft came to light after Philip Wise, a good friend, major collector and owner of several Star Wars websites, posted news of the theft of his rare prototype rocket-firing Boba Fett action figure from his Texas warehouse. Zach Tann, a respected toy dealer and collector in Southern California, immediately notified Philip that he had purchased that figure from Carl Edward Cunningham, 45, a well-known Star Wars collector and R2-D2 builder from Marietta, Georgia.

Tann further told Philip that he previously had bought many other rare Star Wars collectibles from Carl and sent a detailed list. Philip said that he quickly concluded by the quantity and quality of items that they had likely been stolen from my collection here in Petaluma, California.

Tann is working closely with us and authorities to help recover and return as many of the stolen collectibles as possible. Without Zach Tann’s call to Philip, which came despite great potential personal financial exposure to himself, we might still not know of the theft or its extent.

Carl surrendered on an arrest warrant from the Sonoma County, California Sheriff’s Department at the end of March and was charged with felony grand theft. He is currently free on bail with additional hearings in the case scheduled.

I have known Carl for many years, considered him a good and trusted friend, and played host to him at my home numerous times. I, and the staff at Rancho Obi-Wan, are devastated that he is the alleged perpetrator of the thefts. Not only have important items been stolen from the collection, but also our time, energy and ability to trust unconditionally have taken a blow.

If you have any information about Carl Cunningham’s activities or items that he has sold please write to tips@ranchoobiwan.org. If you think you may have purchased a stolen item, please be patient while we work through this process. It is our goal to resolve this situation as quickly as possible and to continue to use the collection at Rancho Obi-Wan to “Inspire through the Force” despite the destruction caused by one person.

Thank you for your help,
Steve Sansweet
Rancho Obi-Wan

This is a LIST OF ITEMS that hasn’t truly been accounted for. If you bought any of these, especially on eBay (user name: winterceltic) or through the Rebelscum.com forum in the last year from Carl Cunningham, please let us know at tips@ranchoobiwan.org
Han Solo (Large Head) 12 Back
Death Squad Commander 12B back Palitoy
Jawa 12 Back Palitoy
Sand People 12A-back Palitoy
Ben Kenobi 12 Back-B Takara Sticker
Jawa 20-back J
Hammerhead SW 21-back card
Luke Skywalker X-Wing Pilot SW 21 back
R5-D4 SW 21-back card
R2-D2 ESB 31-back card
Darth Vader ESB 41 Back-A
Luke Skywalker (Bespin) Brown hair 47-back
R2-D2 with Sensorscope ROTJ 65-back Palitoy
Chewbacca POTF 92 Back
Amanaman Palitoy Tri-Logo
Hammerhead Palitoy Tri-Logo
Luke Skywalker (brown hair) Palitoy Tri-Logo
Princess Leia Organa Palitoy Tri-Logo
Yak Face Palitoy Tri-Logo
LEGO Millennium Falcon Set Sealed #10179
LEGO Super Star Destroyer #10221
LEGO Rebel Snowspeeder #10129
LEGO Imperial Shuttle #10212
Death Star Spherical Cardboard Playset Toltoys box with Palitoy innards


Please help spread the word. Thank you.

Tuesday, 6 June 2017

Star Wars: The Last Jedi gets early release in the UK



UK Star Wars fans (myself included) will get to see director Rian Johnson's Star Wars: The Last Jedi a day before folks in the US. The first sequel to The Force Awakens now premieres on Thursday 14th December.

Eager fans can see The Last Jedi even earlier. The next installment in the Star Wars saga opens in France, Italy and Norway on Wednesday 13th December.

Will you be booking tickets for a midnight screening? Let me know in the comments below.

Monday, 5 June 2017

Apple showcases VR with Star Wars demo



Apple has partnered with Valve and showcased SteamVR during its annual Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC).

Industrial Light and Magic (ILM) took to the stage. An ILMxLAB staffer, using an HTC VIVE headset and wands, populated a virtual world with TIE Fighters, Imperial Shuttle and Darth Vader. The presentation was powered by an iMac Pro coming this December.

Native VR support will be included with macOS High Sierra later this year and further augmented with Unreal 4 and Unity engine support.

The Cupertino-based company is bolstering its desktop line with refreshed iMacs and MacBooks to play catch-up in a resurgent VR space.

Do you think Apple's taking the desktop space seriously in the wake of criticisms suggesting the company has focussed too much on mobile devices? Let me know in the comments below.

Sunday, 4 June 2017

Odette Annable's Reign of destruction on Supergirl



The DCTV season finales have aired on Sky 1, in the UK, and fans now look to the future of the multiverse on the small screen.

Reign, made famous by The New 52, will be the big bad on Supergirl season 3. She's a Worldkiller, a biological weapon created by the Kryptonians, and will pose a compelling moral dilemma for Kara (Melissa Benoist).

Reign will be played by Odette Annable (Cloverfield).

"Greg [Berlanti] and I have wanted to work with Odette for years," said executive producer Andrew Kreisberg. "We are beyond excited to have her join our cast in the scary, powerful and heartbreaking role of Reign."

In related news. Wonder Woman, starring Gal Gadot as the titular Amazonian, is a critical and commercial success at the box office. Perhaps a catalyst for the DC Universe. Less dreary and more fun henceforth. Injustice 2 for PS4 and Xbox One brings Mortal Kombat to the multiverse and becomes one of the best fighting games ever made. Non-fighting fans should play it for the amazing story mode, incredible character animations and cinematics.

Looking forward to Odette Annable and Melissa Benoist battle for supremacy of Earth-38? Let me know in the comments below.

Thursday, 1 June 2017

A-Box is a great geek gift for Father's Day



Mystery box subscriptions are proving popular with geeks of all ages. From Loot Crate to Smugglers Bounty by Funko, there's something for fans of film, TV and video games everywhere.

Now, A-Box arrives and it's the perfect subscription gift for Father's Day!

Star Wars: The Force Awakens director JJ Abrams is a huge fan of the mystery box, as evidenced by his multimedia oeuvre, and a proud self-confessed geek. This maybe something his children would gift him for Father's Day.

A-Box is a new mystery box subscription service working directly with film and video game studios including Marvel and Activision. Each A-Box is packed with over £70 value for £38 per month (less if you opt for a longer subscription) and there's no contract. So, you could gift family and friends for their birthday or the holiday season. Why not treat yourself too?

In addition to a monthly mystery box. There'll be limited edition boxes. The first is Alien: Covenant for fans of director Ridley Scott's xenomorph. This is available for £55, but contains items valued over £150! It's worth noting there's an official life-sized replica, approved by Twentieth Century Fox, from the movie. What could it be? Leave your guesses in the comments below.



Mystery box subscriptions can be hit-and-miss. So much so that I've been reluctant to purchase one (for review purposes). However, A-Box benefits from directly supplying the movie industry for 10 years. They're off to a strong start with the release of the Alien: Covenant box from 26th June.

A-Box looks like a great addition to the mystery box space and a Star Wars: The Last Jedi themed box would be awesome this December. However, the proof will be when I have one in hand to review, myself.

The fine folks at A-Box reached out to me and, as such, this isn't a sponsored post. I simply like the look of this new fully licensed blind box subscription service and wanted readers to see for themselves.

For further details and to subscribe, visit A-Box.com.