Saturday, 17 March 2018

HBO releases new images from Westworld Season 2

Westworld season 2 starts on HBO and Sky Atlantic this April. HBO's released new promotional photos depicting returning characters including Dolores (Evan Rachel Wood), Teddy Flood (James Marsden) and William (Ed Harris).

The first season, with sweeping vistas worthy of an IMAX screen, captured my imagination in 2016. So much so, I've rewatched it twice.

Spoiler alert for folks who haven't watched season one of HBO's lavish sci-fi reboot. The second season picks up from the climatic first season finale with the self-aware androids running amock inside the theme park and the Delos corporation struggling to reassert control over its creations.

Westworld season 2 begins 22nd April on HBO and 23rd April on Sky Atlantic.

Friday, 16 March 2018

Ready Player One sans Star Wars

Following director Steven Spielberg's surprise appearance at SXSW, and premiering Ready Player One to a gathered audience, Warner Bros. has released the final trailer. Dreamer.

Spielberg's upcoming movie is replete with infinite references to the geek galaxy of the eighties. However, the Oscar-winning director was unable to secure rights to include the granddaddy of them all. Star Wars. This I did not foresee, Padawan.

Spielberg has a storied history with the franchise. George Lucas, his friend and Indiana Jones collaborator, created the space opera and Amblin co-founder Kathleen Kennedy is Lucasfilm president at Disney.

"We couldn't get any Star Wars rights," Spielberg revealed at a press conference. "[We tried] very hard. They wouldn't give up the Star Wars rights."

“You could’ve called me on that one, Steve,” joked Rogue One actor Ben Mendelsohn, who stars as the big bad Nolan Sorrento in Ready Player One. “I built the Death Star, I’m just saying.”

With a 29th March release, we're on the home stretch and I'm watching a collection of classic 1980s movies referenced in Ernest Cline's original book. From Ferris Bueller's Day Off to WarGames...

Thursday, 15 March 2018

Shadow of the Tomb Raider released this September

Today Square Enix announced the final chapter in the Tomb Raider reboot trilogy to coincide with the live-action reboot starring Alica Vikander as Lara Croft in cinemas.

The 2013 Tomb Raider reboot came out of left field and was a darling of the critics and gamers alike. The first sequel Rise of the Tomb Raider, marred at launch by an Xbox One timed exclusive controversy, built on that robust foundation in 2015 and expectations are high for the climactic instalment.

Camilla Luddington (Grey's Anatomy) provided the voice and motion capture reference for Lara Croft in the first two instalments. Hopefully, she's reprising the role for the third time.

A full reveal of Shadow of the Tomb Raider is scheduled for 27th April. In the meantime here's a teaser trailer.

Shadow of the Tomb Raider will be released on Xbox One, PS4 and PC on 14th September. Pre-order from

Wednesday, 14 March 2018

"Why so serious, Wiseau?"

Last weekend I rewatched The LEGO Batman Movie on Sky Cinema and was struck by how cleverly it explores Batman's relationship with The Joker in stark contrast to the current live-action DC Comics cinematic universe at Warner Bros.

Coincidentally, Tommy Wiseau (The Room) has published an audition tape for The Joker online. Wiseau creepily distils several famous incarnations of Batman's ultimate nemesis.

Tuesday, 13 March 2018

SNL's The Mos Eisley Five: A Star Wars Story

Ron Howard's Solo: A Star Wars Story is in cinemas 25th May. In anticipation of the upcoming Star Wars spin-off, Saturday Night Live (SNL) has produced a new skit as part of its Cut for Time digital series.

In the Star Wars skit JJ Abrams, director of The Force Awakens and upcoming Episode IX, introduces a first look at the summer 2019 movie The Mos Eisley Five: A Star Wars Story, starring Mikey Day, host Charles Barkley, and Kate McKinnon.

Friday, 9 March 2018

Jon Favreau to write live-action Star Wars series

Actor-director Jon Favreau, who kick-started the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) a decade ago with Iron Man, is executive producer and writer for Lucasfilm's upcoming Star Wars live-action series.

“I couldn’t be more excited about Jon coming on board to produce and write for the new direct-to-consumer platform,” says Lucasfilm president Kathleen Kennedy. “Jon brings the perfect mix of producing and writing talent, combined with a fluency in the Star Wars universe. This series will allow Jon the chance to work with a diverse group of writers and directors and give Lucasfilm the opportunity to build a robust talent base.”

Favreau is thrilled to be returning to the Star Wars galaxy: “If you told me at 11 years old that I would be getting to tell stories in the Star Wars universe, I wouldn’t have believed you. I can’t wait to embark upon this exciting adventure.”

There has been a backlash, in the wake of the announcement, citing a lack of diversity. However, Favreau is an exciting choice and has been previously linked to the Star Wars sequel trilogy and spin-off movies. This is the guy who gave us Elf and an award-winning live-action adaptation of Disney's The Jungle Book.

The upcoming live-action series will be available exclusively on DisneyLife late 2019. Disney's streaming service was soft-launched in the UK in 2015 and is now available in Ireland before being rolled out internationally.

Favreau appears next in Solo: A Star Wars Story this May.

Thursday, 8 March 2018

Star Wars: Episode IX will be John Williams' last

During a talk with Jim Svejda for KUSC Interviews, award-winning Hollywood composer John Williams hinted Star Wars: Episode IX, directed by JJ Abrams, will be his last for the space opera franchise.

“We know JJ Abrams is preparing Star Wars: Episode IX now, that I will hopefully do next year for him. I look forward to it. It will round out a series of nine. That will be quite enough for me."

Williams, most recently Oscar-nominated for The Last Jedi, has composed music for the original, prequel and sequel trilogies. Episode IX would be the culmination of George Lucas' original vision and a poignant bookend to a stellar body of work spanning over forty years.

Williams' symphonic sound is synonymous with the Star Wars franchise, but Michael Giacchino performed musical duties with aplomb for Rogue One: A Star Wars Story despite only having a month or so to write music after Alexandre Desplat departed the spin-off due to a scheduling conflict.

Fans can hear Williams' Han Solo theme in the upcoming Solo: A Star Wars Story this May. Oscar nominee John Powell is composing the rest with a guitar-brass-infused score.

Tuesday, 6 March 2018

Explore strange new worlds in Lost in Space

Lost in Space should fill the void left by Star Trek: Discovery on Netflix this April.

Watch the first full trailer to see Will Robinson's extra-terrestrial Geth-like (Mass Effect) guardian - a far cry from the beloved 'bubble-headed booby' of the original sixties sci-fi series.

There's a palpable sense of wonder and discovery permeating Netflix's lavish reboot. Something absent from most Hollywood sci-fi franchises.

“Fans of the original show should know we maintain the core of what was special about that experience of watching that as a child,” series showrunner Zack Estrin said. “For new fans of the show, there’s a certain baggage associated with the title. ‘Oh, that’s that campy show from the ’60s,’ or, ‘That’s that movie from the ’90s that was… what it was.’ We are taking that core of an idea—the Robinson family is striving to hold together and survive in this incredible circumstance.”

Stream Lost in Space from 13th April only on Netflix.

Monday, 5 March 2018

Play arcade classics with Ready Player One

In anticipation of director Steven Spielberg's Ready Player One releasing in cinemas this month. Fans can play arcade classics Joust, Tapper, Sinistar and Robotron: 2084 on the official website. More games are teased.

"The film is set in 2045, with the world on the brink of chaos and collapse. But the people have found salvation in the OASIS, an expansive virtual reality universe created by the brilliant and eccentric James Halliday (Mark Rylance). When Halliday dies, he leaves his immense fortune to the first person to find a digital Easter egg he has hidden somewhere in the OASIS, sparking a contest that grips the entire world. When an unlikely young hero named Wade Watts (Tye Sheridan) decides to join the contest, he is hurled into a breakneck, reality-bending treasure hunt through a fantastical universe of mystery, discovery and danger."

Ready Player One is in cinemas 29th March.

Saturday, 3 March 2018

Warner Bros. reboots Logan's Run

Seventies sci-fi classic Logan's Run is getting a modern remake from director Simon Kinberg (X-Men: Dark Phoenix) and The Hunger Games screenwriter Peter Craig. This version of Logan’s Run will feature a woman in the lead role. Warner Bros. is hoping for another successful revival in the wake of Blade Runner 2049.

Like The Planet of the Apes (coincidentally also scored by Jerry Goldsmith), I saw the Logan's Run television series spin-off, written by Star Trek alum including Harlan Ellison, before seeing the theatrical original on rental home video in the early eighties. I wasn't prepared for its chilling dystopian depiction of a future foretelling mandatory euthanasia at the age of 30 (21 in the original novel) due to dwindling resources.

The original film centred on Logan (Michael York), a Sandman tasked with terminating runners evading 'renewal' by Carousel, who ultimately sympathises with the rebels and escapes with Jessica (Jenny Agutter). The movie's cliffhanger ending suggested further sequels, and I was disappointed to learn that none were made.

So, what do you think about a Logan's Run reboot with a female lead and who would you like to see in the titular role? Let me know in the comments below.

Friday, 2 March 2018

Detroit: Become Human arrives on PS4 this May

PlayStation exclusive film noir Heavy Rain (2010) remains one of my favourite games from last gen and I'm looking forward to David Cage and Quantic Dream's next opus. A neo-noir thriller 5 years in the making - it began life as a PS3 tech demo entitled "Kara".

Detroit: Become Human.

The latest PlayStation exclusive taps into the familiar trope of sentient artificial intelligence and its moral implications, most recently explored in AMC's Humans, HBO's Westworld and Blade Runner 2049.

“Detroit is by far the most ambitious title ever created by Quantic Dream,” said writer and director David Cage. “With this game, we wanted to push our limits by creating the most bending game we have ever made. Your actions have real and spectacular consequences.”

“Each story is almost as unique as your DNA,” added Cage. “It is the result of the choices you made — the minor ones and the important ones — because in Detroit, all choices matter.”

It remains to be seen whether it's more QuickTime (QT) events sans motion controllers, but I'm fine with that within the context of compelling character-driven choices and a branching storyline. It'll pass the time whilst waiting for CD Projekt Red's Cyberpunk 2077.

Detroit: Become Human is released on 25th May. Pre-order from Amazon. This is an affiliate link and as such, I may receive compensation for any referrals (at no extra cost to yourself).

Thursday, 1 March 2018

Star Wars Rebels 90-minute series finale this March

The series finale of Star Wars Rebels is 5th March on Disney XD. After 4 thrilling critically-acclaimed seasons, the crew of the Ghost face their final challenge in an epic 90-minute special.

In A Fool's Hope - Ezra calls in every favour he can to rally together a ragtag group for a seemingly impossible fight against Governor Pryce and her Imperial forces.

In Family Reunion – and Farewell – Ezra and team take drastic action to free Lothal.

Star Wars Rebels quickly stepped out of the shadow of Cartoon Network's The Clone Wars and became a fan favourite filled with guest stars from the franchise's storied history. From James Earl Jones reprising the role of Darth Vader to Frank Oz as Yoda. Bringing back Grand Admiral Thrawn (Heir to the Empire) was an inspired move, and the Ghost can be seen in Rogue One: A Star Wars Story.

What will you miss about Star Wars Rebels? Let me know in the comments below.

Monday, 26 February 2018

Red Sparrow director talks Battlestar Galactica movie

The Battlestar Galactica movie is still a thing 40 years after Glen A. Larson's space saga first appeared on US television in the wake of the success of Star Wars.

At the time in 1978, the 3-part Saga of a Star World was recut and shown theatrically outside the US. Infamously, it showed Baltar (John Colicos) being beheaded by the Cylons, which confused me as a child when I began watching the original television series on HTV.

“I’m working on that, that’s something I’m developing”, director Francis Lawrence (Red Sparrow) has confirmed in an exclusive interview with Coming Soon.

“I’m working on that with Lisa Joy, who is one of the creators of Westworld. The original series was actually one of the first sets that I ever went on. I remember being a kid and loving that show and they were filming near my house and my mom took me down there and I got to try on a Cylon helmet.”

Director Bryan Singer (X-Men) was attached to a cinematic reboot back in 2009.

Sunday, 25 February 2018

Rediscovering Yesterday's Enterprise

The season one finale of Star Trek: Discovery took us back into Star Wars territory, a Mos Eisley-esque trading post on Kronos, as the crew embarks on a daring undercover mission into the heart of the Klingon Empire, under the command of Captain Georgiou AKA Emperor of the Terran Empire, played with Machiavellian zeal by Michelle Yeoh.

The Mirror Universe story arc elevated the second Star Trek prequel into prestige drama and the season finale fell short of that deliciously dark high in the wake of Captain Lorca's (Jason Isaacs) demise. Whilst fun, it lacked the edge-of-the-seat excitement of the previous 4 episodes and the special effects weren’t all that... special. The Klingon fleet looked inert and in no position to threaten the Earth. That said, it did contain terrific character-driven moments, which are a hallmark of the latest spin-off, and a cameo from an actor fondly remembered for an iconic role in the original sixties series.

The bestowing of medals was absurdly out of place. The crew of the Discovery hadn’t destroyed the Death Star or did I miss something? And character arcs were too conveniently reset. Michael Burnham (Sonequa Martin-Green) is pardoned, but Georgiou remains at large.

I’m going to pause and reflect on The Orville. Fox’s new sci-fi series from Seth MacFarlane has improved immeasurably since the misfiring pilot directed by the usually excellent Jon Favreau (Iron Man). Whilst the so-called adult humour rarely sticks the landing, The Orville is at its best channelling Star Trek in a way that appears to have pleased some diehard fans more than the latest official spin-off. Episodes are pastiches of The Next Generation’s finest moments and oftentimes provide sobering social commentary on our times.

With the cliffhanger appearance of the USS Enterprise, commanded by Captain Pike and with the prospect of meeting teenage Spock, Star Trek: Discovery cements its status as a series I treasure week in week out, and for that, I commend the series' showrunners.

The search for Prime Lorca begins…

Friday, 23 February 2018

Watch the trailer for Alex Garland's Annihilation

Not satisfied with announcing and releasing The Cloverfield Paradox during the Super Bowl. Netflix will be streaming Alex Garland's Annihilation this March. The Ex Machina director's sci-fi thriller stars Natalie Portman and Oscar Issac. Both actors are synonymous with the Star Wars franchise.

"Lena, a biologist and former soldier, joins a mission to uncover what happened to her husband inside Area X – a sinister and mysterious phenomenon that is expanding across the American coastline. Once inside, the expedition discovers a world of mutated landscape and creatures, as dangerous as it is beautiful, that threatens both their lives and their sanity."

Garland has expressed disappointment at the studio's decision not to release Annihilation theatrically in all markets after a lukewarm test screening and a refusal to dumb down the trippy thriller.

Personally, the movie-going experience - outside of a Dolby Cinema - is increasingly subpar. From digital project foibles to cinemagoers incessantly chatting unless drowned out by a bombastic Dolby Atmos soundtrack. So, I'm looking forward to streaming Annihilation in 4K in the comfort of my own home. Popcorn at the ready...

Thursday, 22 February 2018

"Danger, Will Robinson!" Lost in Space first look

Netflix has announced when it will be streaming Lost in Space. This is a 10-part reboot of the cult classic sci-fi series from Irwin Allen, featuring music from legendary Hollywood composer John Williams, which aired from 1965 to 1968 on CBS.

Set 30 years in the future, colonization in space is now a reality, and the Robinson family is among those tested and selected to make a new life for themselves in a better world. But when the new colonists find themselves abruptly torn off course en route to their new home they must forge new alliances and work together to survive in a dangerous alien environment, light-years from their original destination.

Stranded along with the Robinsons are two outsiders who find themselves thrown together by circumstance and a mutual knack for deception. The unsettlingly charismatic Dr. Smith (Parker Posey) is a master manipulator with an inscrutable end game. And the roguish, but inadvertently charming Don West (Ignacio Serricchio) is a highly-skilled, blue-collar contractor, who had no intention of joining the colony, let alone crash landing on a lost planet.

After the middling movie reboot starring William Hurt, Gary Oldman, Matt LeBlanc, Heather Graham and Mimi Rogers from the late 1990s. This looks like another home run from the fine folks at Netflix! Lost in Space joins House of Cards, Stranger Things and Star Trek: Discovery as must-see television.

Get Lost in Space this April!

Wednesday, 21 February 2018

New Doctor Who logo revealed for Jodie Whittaker era

The new Doctor Who logo has been unveiled with a beautifully illustrated poster and trailer. The former evoking director Steven Spielberg's The BFG.

BBC Worldwide Executive Creative Director, Rafaela Perera said:

"The Doctor Who logo and insignia are the quintessential signifier for the brand. Our aim was to create modern and elegant designs that were anchored in the things that we love most about Doctor Who."

The trailer, including a snippet of the main theme, channels DCTV's The Flash and that's fine with me.

Official merchandise featuring the new logo is available at selected retailers. Do you like the new logo? Let me know in the comments below.

Tuesday, 20 February 2018

Murray Gold confirms Doctor Who departure

During Gallifrey One, the world's largest and longest-running Doctor Who fan convention, composer Murray Gold confirmed he's no longer working on the series. There has been speculation surrounding Gold's departure since Chris Chibnall was announced as the new series showrunner.

Gold has worked on Doctor Who since the series returned to television screens in 2005 with then showrunner Russel T Davies. He went on to compose music for 10 series with actors Christopher Eccleston, David Tennant, Matt Smith and Peter Capaldi in the titular role. From Rose to Clara's theme, he's produced an impressive body of work. There is no news regarding his replacement.

Doctor Who returns to television screens this autumn with Jodie Whittaker as the first female Doctor Who. The actress and co-stars, Mandip Gill (Yasmin), Tosin Cole (Ryan) and Bradley Walsh (Graham), were recently seen filming in Sheffield.

Friday, 16 February 2018

Ready Player One trailer has a T-Rex

A new trailer for Steven Spielberg's Ready Player One has been released and it brings the retro awesome. Oh, and a T-Rex from Jurassic Park!

The use of "Come With Me", from Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory, is inspired and poignantly speaks to Spielberg's love affair with cinema - a medium with which he is synonymous. Spielberg's latest sci-fi adventure evokes the director's Minority Report, which remains one of my favourite sci-fi thrillers, and not just because the protagonist is called John (Tom Cruise).

Rob Wainfur, friend and founder of The Bearded Trio, recommended I read Ready Player One. So, early in the year I bought the Kindle/Audiobook bundle in a sale and have listened to Wil Wheaton's pitch-perfect delivery on an Amazon Echo Show for that tech flourish. Plus, I can watch the trailers, too.

Ready Player One, starring Tye Sheridan and Olivia Cooke, is in cinemas 29th March.

Wednesday, 14 February 2018

Blade Runner 2049 art director joins Star Wars

Director JJ Abrams is assembling his team for Star Wars: Episode IX, which is believed to begin principal photography this June.

Blade Runner 2049 was a visual feast and art director Paul Inglis will be bringing his world-building prowess to Star Wars: Episode IX according to Omega Underground. Inglis has also worked on Game of Thrones, Skyfall and Prometheus.

The Force Awakens and The Last Jedi excel in the visual stakes and Episode IX could raise the bar even higher.

Very little is known about Abrams' final instalment in the sequel trilogy. The Force Awakens director took the helm in the wake of Colin Trevorrow's departure from the project.

Episode IX will be in cinemas December 2019.

Saturday, 10 February 2018

Is the Crash annual a Crash Smash?

Crash magazine, dedicated to all things Sinclair ZX Spectrum, was a staple of the 8-bit computing scene in the 1980s with its memorable cover art by Oliver Frey. I would pore over reviews and adverts for upcoming titles in the school playground at lunchtime.

Crash was soon joined by sister publication Zzap!64 when I was gifted a Commodore 64 in the summer of 1985. Alas, an Atari 800XL, the Porsche of 8-bit computers, remained elusive and something I covet to this day.

Rob Wainfur, the founder of The Bearded Trio, reviews the recently released Crash Annual from Fusion Retro Books.

Can it evoke the retro feels ahead of the release of Steven Spielberg's Ready Player One?

Guest post by Rob Wainfur

It's here! My Crash Annual arrived yesterday and it's everything I was wishing for.

I could have ordered the annual on its own but decided to go for the one with all the extras. Price is £15 for the book or £25 with the goodies. I really wanted that enamel "Crash Smash" pin badge.

The annual itself is of exceptional quality and the smell had that new annual smell. It instantly took me back to the early eighties when I would get a new annual for Christmas. The first thing I would do is sniff the pages. Memories...

Anyway, the book is packed with colour throughout and there are pages of reviews, cheats and... Well, you get the idea. It's a Crash magazine. I'm pleased to say they've not changed the format at all.

I was pleasantly surprised at how many new games there are for the good old Speccy. Did you know there is a new graphics engine for the Spectrum called Nirvana? It enhances the graphics and does away with the infamous Speccy colour clash. Modern games designed by fans now look like a top quality Commodore 64 game. It's worth checking out some of the new games on YouTube, I have a feeling you will be pleasantly surprised.

The other items in the pack were a 2018 calendar featuring classic Crash covers, another badge and a map of Ultimate's Pentagram illustrated by Oliver Frey. I can't recommend this enough. It may seem a little expensive but the quality shows, and I have a feeling that the book will become quite collectable in years to come.

Speaking of the book, it's published by Fusion Retro Books and I did not realise they have a series of retro books. There's one on the classic games company, Ocean. There's also one on the Commodore 64 and I've heard rumours there is a book on the way for Zzap!64 lovers. Stay tuned.

Graphics - 92%
Getting Started - 91%
Addictive Qualities - 93%
Value for Money - 85%
Overall - 92%

Thursday, 8 February 2018

Watch the first trailer for Venom starring Tom Hardy

Sony has released the first teaser trailer for Venom starring Tom Hardy as Eddie Brock. The Spider-Man spin-off, focussing on the titular symbiote villain, is supposedly separate from Spider-Man and the shared Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) at Disney.

It would be very surprising if Tom Holland's Spider-Man doesn't make an appearance. Holland can be seen as the beloved web-slinger in Avengers: Infinity War this April.

Venom is in cinemas this October.

Wednesday, 7 February 2018

Collider talks Star Wars with Rian Johnson at IMAX HQ

Collider hosted a 70-minute Q&A with director Rian Johnson to discuss Star Wars: The Last Jedi at IMAX HQ.

During the deep dive, Johnson discusses Star Wars fandom, the creative process and deleted scenes included on the upcoming Blu-ray disc.

It's fair to assume there'll be spoilers.

Tuesday, 6 February 2018

Star Wars trilogy from Game of Thrones showrunners

So, in addition to Rian Johnson's Star Wars trilogy, Disney's hiring Game of Thrones' David Benioff and Dan Weiss to create another new trilogy, independent from the Skywalker saga, at Lucasfilm.

“David and Dan are some of the best storytellers working today,” said Kathleen Kennedy, president of Lucasfilm. “Their command of complex characters, depth of story and richness of mythology will break new ground and boldly push Star Wars in ways I find incredibly exciting.”

“In the summer of 1977 we traveled to a galaxy far, far away, and we’ve been dreaming of it ever since,” Benioff and Weiss said in a joint statement. “We are honored by the opportunity, a little terrified by the responsibility, and so excited to get started as soon as the final season of Game of Thrones is complete.”

The Game of Thrones showrunners will be following Gwendoline Christie (Captain Phasma) and Emelia Clarke (Qi'Ra) into a galaxy far, far away...

What do you think about another new trilogy? Let me know in the comments below.

Monday, 5 February 2018

Solo: A Star Wars Story on Good Morning America

The wait is over for Star Wars fans. A teaser for Solo: A Star Wars Story, directed by Ron Howard, dropped during the Super Bowl.

Good Morning America, owned by Disney, premiered the full teaser trailer today.

In the wake of directors Phil Lord and Chris Miller departing from the troubled Star Wars spin-off, many fans (myself included) were worried. After watching the teaser trailer, I'm excited to see how Han Solo first met Chewie.

Veteran Hollywood composer John Williams is composing the theme for Han Solo.

Solo: A Star Wars Story is in cinemas 25th May.

Saturday, 3 February 2018

Feature-length premiere for Doctor Who Series 11

Jodie Whittaker's first episode of Doctor Who will be a feature-length adventure, introducing her and the new team TARDIS (played by Bradley Walsh, Tosin Cole and Mandip Gill), running at 65 minutes.

The episode running time was unveiled as part of a listing for the BBC Worldwide Showcase in Liverpool later this month. Alongside the announcement, the BBC has issued this tantalising summary of what to expect from the upcoming series.

"Already highly anticipated, Series 11 heralds a brand-new era for Doctor Who with a world-class team at the helm. Incoming lead writer Chris Chibnall has a fresh and inclusive vision for the series. Bigger and bolder than ever, this series marks the arrival of Jodie Whittaker, the 13th Doctor – a super-smart force of nature, alongside a team of new and delightful characters. The show will be full of action and adventure, humour and thrills. An unmissable high-end drama everyone will enjoy."

Doctor Who series 11 will be broadcast this autumn.

Thursday, 1 February 2018

The Doctor Who companion between Clara and Bill

Around the time of Doctor Who special Last Christmas, speculation was rife surrounding Jenna Coleman's departure from the series after one season co-starring with Peter Capaldi in series 8. Former series showrunner Steven Moffat recently shed light on the matter during an interview with the RadioTimes.

“I vaguely had a set of thoughts about what the new companion should be like. There would have been elements in common [with Bill] – but your mind moves on in the interim. So maybe some of where we ended up with Bill has obscured what I was thinking about for Clara’s replacement, or the original version of Clara’s replacement, so I couldn’t really say now. Bill ended up being very much her own thing, I think. And very much Pearl Mackie.”

Moffat didn't think Coleman would leave so soon.

“I didn’t feel as though we were quite finished with Jenna and Clara. And I wasn’t convinced, looking in Jenna’s eye, that she was really ready to leave. And I don’t think anyone should leave Doctor Who until they’re really ready to leave. So it wasn’t a massive surprise to me that she stayed. It was a bit of a surprise – I mean, we went to the Christmas read-through, “Last Christmas”, with her leaving at the end, and it was in the conversation after the read-through that she stayed. But you know, if you’ve got a star like that, you keep a star like that. Of course you do.”

Ultimately, Jenna Coleman stayed on for series 9, which sees some of the best stories since series 5.

Doctor Who returns this autumn starring Jodie Whittaker in the titular role.

Wednesday, 31 January 2018

BioWare's Anthem delayed until 2019

The release of Anthem, BioWare's answer to Bungie's beleaguered Destiny, is being pushed back to 2019. Publisher EA has released a statement suggesting the game is deep into development and the delay is due to the as-yet-untitled Battlefront this holiday season.

"We've chosen to launch Anthem in [tax year] Q4 and the date is really determined by portfolio of balancing consideration not for product readiness reasons. It's tracking well on its development milestones. We are really confident of its ship date," said EA boss Andrew Wilson during a company investors call.

"We are really excited by the way the next Battlefield is shaping up and it probably doesn't make sense to launch Anthem right up next to it. And when you think about Anthem as a brand new IP, we also believe it make sense to give it its own launch window so that we can give us a focus and attention that it deserve and give it some free air."

Evidently, EA doesn't want to repeat the mistake of releasing two tentpole franchises within a week of each other. Battlefront I overshadowed the critically-acclaimed Titanfall 2 in 2016.

The publisher has received flak from the gaming community. From a bungled launch of Mass Effect: Andromeda to a loot box revolt for Star Wars Battlefront II. BioWare is doubling down on the development of Anthem whilst speculation surrounds a takeover of EA. Microsoft and Disney have been cited as potential buyers.

Frankly, I assumed Anthem wouldn't be released until late 2019 or 2020. That said, Anthem is being overseen by Casey Hudson who directed the original Mass Effect trilogy. So, I'm hopeful it'll bring character-driven storytelling into the looter shooter space.

Tuesday, 30 January 2018

Ant-Man and the Wasp invade cinemas this summer

Marvel Studios has released the first trailer for Ant-Man and the Wasp. The latest comic caper sees Ant-Man (Paul Rudd) and the Wasp (Evangeline Lilly) join forces against the mysterious Ghost (Hannah John-Kamen).

Ant-Man and the Wasp is in UK cinemas 3rd August.

Monday, 29 January 2018

Star Wars concert tour announced for the UK

Star Wars fans can book tickets for an upcoming concert tour featuring Hollywood composer John Williams' Oscar-winning music from A New Hope. The Novello Orchestra, conducted by David Mahoney, will play live as director George Lucas' space opera unfolds on screen.

Grant Watmuff, Licensing & Strategic Partnerships Manager at Disney Music Group, said: “We’re delighted that Star Wars fans will have the opportunity to experience the music of the movie performed live to picture in the UK for the first time. 

"From the opening fanfare to the final note, John Williams’ score for Star Wars: A New Hope is a genre-defining master class of cinematic composition.”

The concert tour will start at the Royal Albert Hall with the London Symphony Orchestra (LSO), which is synonymous with Star Wars.

Lucy Noble, Artistic Director at the Royal Albert Hall, said: “During our nine years of pioneering the Films in Concert concept, there’s one movie that’s been requested more than any other, and that’s Star Wars: A New Hope.

“We’re ecstatic to announce its UK debut at the Hall this November, with the London Symphony Orchestra confirmed for this once-in-a-lifetime show. There’s simply no film – or score – that’s more iconic.”

Kathryn McDowell, Managing Director of the London Symphony Orchestra, said: “The London Symphony Orchestra has a deep and long-lasting relationship with John Williams and particularly his music for the Star Wars films, having recorded the soundtracks for the first six episodes.

“The music of Star Wars is in the LSO blood and we are delighted to be involved in what will surely be a memorable series of performances.”

Full tour dates for Star Wars: Film Concert Series:

16th November: Royal Albert Hall
17th November: Royal Albert Hall
18th November: Royal Albert Hall

28th November: Liverpool Echo Arena
29th November: Bournemouth International Centre

1st December: Manchester Arena
2nd December: Birmingham Arena
7th December: Cardiff Motorpoint Arena
8th December: Leeds First Direct Arena
9th December: Glasgow SSE Hydro

Ticket are priced from £32.50 to £75 and go on presale 31st January and general sale 2nd February.

Friday, 26 January 2018

Brie Larson as Captain Marvel

The first on-set photos of Oscar winner Brie Larson as Captain Marvel have emerged online.

“[Captain Marvel is] going to be a big part of heading towards this epic conclusion and epic finale of 22 movies over the course of 10 years,” Marvel Studios boss Kevin Feige said.

“That is the focus for the next six movies we have to finish and get out. Really, the focus now is on delivering Captain Marvel and then bringing Captain Marvel’s story into the finale of everything we’ve started thus far.”

Larson's solo movie will feature co-star Samuel L. Jackson as a younger Nick Fury in the 1990s. Then her character will join the Avengers.

Captain Marvel will be released on 8th March 2019, followed by Avengers 4 hitting cinemas on 3rd May 2019.

Wednesday, 24 January 2018

Star Trek's dark Discovery

Star Trek: Discovery is back streaming on CBS All Access and Netflix outside the US. This post has spoilers. So, please don't read on if you've yet to catch up with latest episodes or begin watching the spin-off series.

The midseason premiere revealed that the crew of the USS Discovery are marooned in the infamous Mirror Universe. That dark realm of goatees and fascism. The Federation doesn't exist and in its place, a reign of terror under the Terran Empire lead by Emperor Georgiou (Michelle Yeoh).

Captain Lorca (Jason Isaacs) is the big bad. This is a narrative twist I was hoping for all along and there are clues peppered throughout the first half of season one. Lorca's masterplan was to manipulate Starfleet renegade Michael Burnham (Sonequa Martin-Green) and crew to return him to the Mirror Universe and, presumably, become Emperor.

Lieutenant Paul Stamets (Anthony Rapp) was in a coma in the wake of unwittingly aiding Lorca to spore jump into an alternate universe. His mirror self is a fascinating foe and may or may not be aboard the USS Discovery now that Stamets has awakened after learning his partner, Doctor Culber (Wilson Cruz), was killed by tortured Klingon captive, Lieutenant Ash Tyler (Shazad Latif).

What of the ISS Discovery in the Prime Universe? Well, that remains a story untold for now. However, it would be a surprise if the showrunners don't tap that rich vein either this season or next.

Much like in Star Wars fandom there's a civil war going on regarding the merits of Discovery and whether or not you're a true Star Trek fan if you like/loathe the series. There are enough spin-offs for everyone to play nicely. Live long and prosper.

Monday, 22 January 2018

ROM: Spaceknight and M.A.S.K. movies shelved?

Hasbro's ambition for its cinematic universe is being scaled back.

A few years ago Paramount announced an extension to the Transformers universe with the addition of G.I. Joe, M.A.S.K., Visionairies, ROM: Spaceknight and the Micronauts. At the time, fans (myself included) of the vintage toy lines thought ROM would appear in Transformers: The Last Knight.

John Francis Daley and Jonathan Goldstein, who are directing The Flash movie for Warner Bros., talked to IGN about what happened and shed light on the fates of ROM and M.A.S.K.:

“Those are probably not likely to see the light of day, unless they’re moving on separate from us. It’s a funny thing. We spent three weeks in a room with a lot of talented writers. We broke eleven or so movies and, I don’t know. It just kind of went into the vortex. There’s been some leadership changes at Paramount, so it’s hard to say. Nobody’s contacted us about those.

It was fun. It was a fun challenge to take these properties that were so barebones in any kind of a narrative and create a movie around them. You know, these little cheap, plastic things, and to give them a backstory was an exciting challenge.”

The Micronauts will appear in a new animated series to be streamed in 2019 and Transformers spin-off Bumblebee is in cinemas this December.

Sunday, 21 January 2018

Star Wars Rebels ends with the return of the Emperor

Star Wars Rebels season four continues on Disney XD from 19th February culminating in a 90-minute series finale with the Emperor this March.

Ian McDiarmid is reprising his iconic role as the Emperor, which he started in Return of the Jedi and continued in the Star Wars prequel trilogy.

Showrunner Dave Filoni is pulling out all the stops and the fate of the Ghost's crew is seemingly bleak.

DisneyLife, the company's excellent streaming service currently only available in the UK and Ireland, was launched on selected Samsung televisions before Christmas. This gave me an opportunity to catch up with exclusive Star War and Marvel content on the Disney Channel. Alas, Star Wars Rebels season four has yet to be made available.

The returning voice cast includes Freddie Prinze Jr. as Kanan, Vanessa Marshall as Hera, Steve Blum as Zeb, Tiya Sircar as Sabine, Taylor Gray as Ezra, Dee Bradley Baker as Captain Rex, David Oyelowo as Kallus, Forest Whitaker as Saw Gerrera and Lars Mikkelsen as Grand Admiral Thrawn. Warwick Davis joins the cast this season as Rukh, Admiral Thrawn’s deadly assassin.

Thursday, 18 January 2018

After The Ending Podcast: Star Wars: The Last Jedi

Star Wars: The Last Jedi was released in cinemas last December. As the dust settles around director Rian Johnson’s divisive sequel, Phil Edwards, founder of Live for Films, speculates on the future direction of the Star Wars franchise.

Guest post by Phil Edwards

Still unsure about Star Wars: The Last Jedi? It certainly split the audience. I have seen people saying it is the best one since The Empire Strikes Back, while others feel it is an abomination. I fall somewhere in the middle - I was disappointed, mainly due to some lazy storytelling that could have been fixed with a couple more drafts (my full review is here).

We have got Solo: A Star Wars Story this summer, which is going up against Avengers: Infinity War. A win-win situation for Disney, but what about Star Wars: Episode IX?

All we know is that JJ Abrams will be writing and directing it. During the coverage of The Last Jedi, we learnt that Rian Johnson was given a clean slate, meaning there is no set plan in place for the last part of the new trilogy. A surprising development to be sure. That does mean it can go anywhere. Will JJ Abrams simply do a Rian Johnson and ditch plot points set up in The Last Jedi, or will he go somewhere new?

While we wait for any news, my good friend Mike Spring and I put together our thoughts on what could happen in Episode IX for an episode of our After The Ending podcast.

We are going to have to wait until the end of 2019 to find out if we got anywhere near what actually happens, but it was good fun to think about it.

You can listen to it below or head on over to iTunes.

Wednesday, 17 January 2018

The official synopsis for Solo: A Star Wars Story

Whilst Star Wars fans (myself included) anxiously await a trailer. Lucasfilm has published an official synopsis for Solo: A Star Wars Story.

"Board the Millennium Falcon and journey to a galaxy far, far away in Solo: A Star Wars Story, an all-new adventure with the most beloved scoundrel in the galaxy. Through a series of daring escapades deep within a dark and dangerous criminal underworld, Han Solo meets his mighty future copilot Chewbacca and encounters the notorious gambler Lando Calrissian, in a journey that will set the course of one of the Star Wars saga’s most unlikely heroes."

Finally, fans will see how Han and Chewie first met. This isn't the first time the story has been told, it appeared in Dark Horse Comics' Star Wars: Chewbacca miniseries in 2000, but this is official canon. I recall excited discussions with college friends postulating how Han was an imperial officer in the Empire and saving Chewie changed his life forever. Imagine if there's a cameo from Darth Vader?

Solo: A Star Wars Story, directed by Ron Howard, is in cinemas 25th May.

Tuesday, 16 January 2018

Black Lightning is prestige TV

Black Lightning premieres on The CW tonight. Whilst the prospect of another superhero show may seem daunting in an era of so-called peak television. This new series stands alone from DCTV's Arrow, The Flash, DC's Legends of Tomorrow and Supergirl. That said, in the wake of the incredible crossover Crisis on Earth-X, I'm hoping Black Lightning will make a cameo in the future.

Early reactions to Black Lightning are positive and Netflix starts streaming the series from 23rd January in the UK, which is my birthday.

The Washington Post

Black Lightning, a wholehearted and energetic live-action revival of the character premiering Tuesday night on CW, is refreshingly and intentionally focused on Jefferson's attempt to balance the conflict among his truest selves – as a black father in his late 40s, a husband, a revered high-school principal and, ultimately, a superhero who comes out of self-imposed exile to fight violence in his community.

The Hollywood Reporter

The pleasant surprise, then, is that Black Lightning, based on yet another DC Comics property, is smart and relevant and full of an attitude that's all its own. It takes its characters and their world seriously, but thus far doesn't take itself too seriously. And, best of all, it's ostensibly entirely separate from Legends of Tomorrow, The Flash, Arrow and Supergirl, so the risk of time-consuming crossovers or key plot points delivered on a different show is currently nil.

The New York Times

Luke Cage and Marvel's Runaways have diversified the comics-TV lineup. (Black Panther arrives in theaters in February.) But this show's race-forward sensibility and its older protagonist, conflicted about getting back into the game, give Black Lightning its spark.

Looking forward to Black Lightning? Let me know in the comments below.

Monday, 15 January 2018

Rian Johnson wrote The Last Jedi on a MacBook Air

Director Rian Johnson wrote the script for Star Wars: The Last Jedi on an air-gapped Apple MacBook Air. Johnson revealed this fascinating insight in an interview with the WSJ.

“I typed Episode VIII out on a MacBook Air. For security it was “air-gapped” — never connected to the internet. I carried it around and used it for nothing except writing the script. I kept it in a safe at Pinewood Studios. I think my producer was constantly horrified I would leave it in a coffee shop.“

Ahead of the launch of The Last Jedi, Apple Stores ran exclusive video editing workshops to celebrate Force Friday II.

Friday, 12 January 2018

John Williams to score Star Wars: Episode IX

Hollywood composer John Williams, fresh from scoring Star Wars: The Last Jedi, is slated to compose Han Solo's theme for director Ron Howard's Solo: A Star Wars Story with John Powell composing the rest.

Speaking to trade paper Variety, Williams hopes to compose the entirety of Star Wars: Episode IX, which is currently in pre-production with JJ Abrams at the helm after Colin Trevorrow's departure. Thus completing an enviable body of work spanning 9 movies. The veteran composer is especially fond of Rey (Daisy Ridley) and her theme from The Force Awakens is a fan favourite.

Thursday, 11 January 2018

Solo: A Star Wars Story undergoing more reshoots

With a 25th May release now only months away, director Ron Howard is reportedly reshooting more of Solo: A Star Wars Story. Reshoots are part and parcel of filmmaking. However, given the second Star Wars spin-off's troubled production, seemingly more so than Rogue One, it adds further intrigue and uncertainty within the fan community.

It's surprising Lucasfilm president Kathleen Kennedy didn't move Solo to December. Thereby giving Howard more time, and for the film not to clash with Avengers: Infinity War. The latter marking the 10th anniversary of the release of Iron Man and heralding the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU).

A trailer for Solo: A Star Wars Story is expected any day.

Wednesday, 10 January 2018

Two BAFTA nominations for The Last Jedi

The Star Wars franchise has been synonymous with special effects and sound design since the first movie was released in US theatres in May 1977.

So, it's only fitting director Rian Johnson's Star Wars: The Last Jedi receives two BAFTA nominations in those categories.

Best sound

Baby Driver
Blade Runner 2049
The Shape of Water
Star Wars: The Last Jedi

Best special visual effects

Blade Runner 2049
The Shape of Water
Star Wars: The Last Jedi
War for the Planet of the Apes

Good luck to the fine folks at Lucasfilm.

Tuesday, 9 January 2018

Ewan McGregor on Obi-Wan Star Wars spin-off

Ewan McGregor played Obi-Wan Kenobi in the Star Wars prequel trilogy and reprised the role for The Force Awakens.

The demand for an Obi-Wan spin-off movie hasn't abated and fans (myself included) are hoping McGregor gets a chance to play the lead role now that Lucasfilm is owned by Disney.

"There’s a lot of talk, and I’d be happy to play him again, but I don’t know anything more than you do," McGregor told reporters backstage at the Golden Globes, after he won a best actor award for his role in FX's Fargo.

McGregor also gave his reaction to The Last Jedi:

"I saw the new one over Christmas and I thought it was really, really beautiful."

Source: THR

Sunday, 7 January 2018

Tom Hardy's cameo cut from The Last Jedi

If you're wondering where Tom Hardy's First Order Stormtrooper was in Star Wars: The Last Jedi, he was cut from director Rian Johnson's divisive sequel. However, Hardy's scene will be included as part of an additional twenty minutes of footage in the upcoming Blu-ray disc release.

Hardy's character possessed a thick southern accent who, after initially appearing threatening, turns out to be an ally of Finn (John Boyega) (via SlashFilm).

“I know who you are…. FN 2187!” Hardy's character reportedly says. “Damn boy, I never took you for officer material.”

Did you spot Rogue One: A Star Wars Story director Gareth Edwards fighting in the trenches on Crait in The Last Jedi?

You can read my spoiler review for The Last Jedi here. Suffice to say I've already pre-ordered the 4K Blu-ray disc, which is available from Amazon (affiliate link).

Thursday, 4 January 2018

Netflix is rebooting She-Ra in 2018

For the honour of Grayskull: The Princess of Power is back!

During the holiday season, Netflix exclusively streamed the first half of The Toys That Made Us, an unmissable documentary series looking at Star Wars, Barbie, G.I. Joe and Masters of the Universe, and announced a reboot of She-Ra: The Princess of Power for 2018.

She-Ra: The Princess of Power was a Masters of the Universe spin-off in the mid-1980s when He-Man and friends outsold stablemate Barbie to become the world's number one toy. The She-Ra reboot will be made by DreamWorks with Noelle Stevenson, best known for Nimona and Lumberjanes, serving as executive producer.

The new She-Ra series will stream on Netflix later this year.

Wednesday, 3 January 2018

Micronauts animated series from Hasbro Studios

40 years ago this January I saw Star Wars for the first time and George Lucas' space opera captured my childhood imagination. As such, I devoured everything related. From Kenner action figures to Marvel comics. It was in the pages of Marvel's making of Star Wars magazine that I saw an advertisement for a new toy line distributed by Airfix.

The Micronauts.

The Micronauts was a storied interchangeable toy line from Takara who would go on to create the Transformers. Marvel released a tie-in comic following the adventures of Commander Rann and his battle with the evil Baron Karza. The latter would be a holiday gift in 1978.

Hasbro has announced a new half-hour animated series going into production for 2019. Here's the official synopsis taken from Hasbro's sales guide (via Bleeding Cool):

"When fate brings an unlikely team of alien space explorers to earth in pursuit of the evil Baron Karza, they make a shocking discovery—on our world they are the size of action figures! The Micronauts are small heroes in a big world but the stakes are higher than ever as their miniaturized size presents dangerous obstacles at every turn. Fortunately, they forge an alliance with teenager Cameron Ruck, who will join them in their pursuit of justice. Although the Micronauts are small in stature, their bravery and adventurous spirits remain larger than life."

Whilst no streaming platform has been announced, Hasbro has a longstanding distribution deal with the Discovery network.

The upcoming Micronauts movie, produced by JJ Abrams, will form part of Hasbro's Cinematic Universe (including Transformers, G.I. Joe, M.A.S.K. and ROM: The Space Knight) in 2020.