Thursday, 15 November 2018

Doctor Who Christmas special moves to New Year's Day

Following weeks of speculation, the BBC has officially announced this year's festive edition of Doctor Who, starring Jodie Whittaker as the titular Time Lord, will be shown on New Year's Day.

The Christmas Day special has become a holiday staple since 2005 when David Tennant took over from Christopher Eccleston. The specials have been a mixed assortment of festive treats, but standouts include The Next Doctor, A Christmas Carol guest starring Sir Michael Gambon and Katherine Jenkins, The Snowmen and Last Christmas.

"We're thrilled to be starting the New Year with a bang on BBC One," said showrunner Chris Chibnall, who promised audiences "an action-packed, hour-long special adventure for all the family."

Charlotte Moore, the BBC's director of content, said: "We're delighted the Doctor and her companions will be welcoming BBC One audiences into 2019 with this exciting new episode."

The official synopsis for the New Year's Day special has been released:

“As the New Year begins, a terrifying evil is stirring from across the centuries of Earth’s history. As the Doctor, Ryan, Graham and Yaz return home, will they be able to overcome the threat to planet Earth?”

Will you miss Doctor Who on Christmas Day? Let me know in the comments below.

Wednesday, 14 November 2018

Alita: Battle Angel enters the fray in new trailer

Alita: Battle Angel has been in development by director James Cameron (Avatar) for decades. Finally, fans of the original manga will be able to see the iconic character, brought to life by actress Rosa Salazar and the wizards of Weta, in action on the big screen next February.

Twentieth Century Fox, currently in the process of being acquired by Disney, wisely moved Alita: Battle Angel away from an overcrowded holiday season thus avoiding a Christmas clash with both Bumblebee and Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse.

Robert Rodriguez (Sin City) is at the helm with Cameron producing as he's currently steeped in pre-production on multiple Avatar sequels.

Tuesday, 13 November 2018

Marvel's superhero Stan Lee passed away. 'Nuff said.

Earlier this year Spider-Man co-creator Steve Ditko passed away. Yesterday, fellow Spider-Man co-creator and arguably the 'face' of Marvel, Stan Lee, died at the age of 95.

I don't recall the first time I saw the Spider-Man animated series, but it was enough of an influence on my nascent imagination that, much to my late mum's horror, aged 3 I climbed out of a bedroom window and onto a glass conservatory to channel Peter Parker.

Lee leaves behind an enduring legacy of superheroes. From Ant-Man to Thor. However, most importantly an ideology predicated on selflessness and a celebration of life in all its rich diversity.

In my teens, I sought solace in the flawed X-Men. They became a metaphor for disability, something I was struggling with in the wake of a life-changing childhood trauma and PTSD, and I wanted to be Cyclops. How I envied actor James Marsden in director Bryan Singer's X-Men that foreshadowed the triumphant Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) about to enter Phase 4.

Whilst I never got to meet 'The Man' himself, I was humbled earlier this year when his official website linked to this very blog. So much so, I thought I was seeing things and it was wishful thinking on the part of this lifelong Marvelite. Beyond poignant and with heartfelt thanks from this true believer!

Lee was a master marketer and nothing exemplifies this more than his countless cameos in Marvel films and television series. He wrapped cameos for Captain Marvel, Avengers 4 and Spider-Man: Far From Home, and most recently appeared in DC Comics' Teen Titans Go! Back in 1995, Stan Lee talked to Conan about his 50 years in comic books.

It's impossible to overstate Lee's influence on popular culture, and he'll always be the George Lucas of superhero storytelling for many fans (myself included).

Excelsior! RIP Stan Lee.

How did Stan Lee impact your life? Let me know in the comments below.

Monday, 12 November 2018

The toys are back in town in Toy Story 4 teaser trailer

Disney has released a teaser trailer for Pixar's Toy Story 4. All the nostalgia feels.

“Like most people, I assumed that ‘Toy Story 3’ was the end of the story,” said director Josh Cooley. “And it was the end of Woody’s story with Andy. But just like in life, every ending is a new beginning. Woody now being in a new room, with new toys, and a new kid, was something we have never seen before. The questions of what that would be like became the beginning of an entertaining story worth exploring.”

Toy Story 4 will be in cinemas summer 2019.

Are you excited to see Woody, Buzz and friends on a new adventure? Let me know in the comments below.

Saturday, 10 November 2018

ILM TV founded for Star Wars live-action series

Lucasfilm division Industrial Light & Magic (ILM), famed for its pioneering visual effects work on the original Star Wars trilogy, has founded ILM TV for streaming and episodic content. ILM TV's first foray will be Jon Favreau's The Mandalorian Star Wars live-action series for Disney+.

“It’s not often you get to create a new division at Industrial Light & Magic,” said Rob Bredow, executive creative director and head of ILM, “We are seeing a real convergence in our creative approach used on films and in our immersive entertainment division ILMxLAB, and now we’re proud to be able to offer these ILM innovations in a way that’s suitable for streaming and television work to creatives around the world.”

ILM produced visual effects for The Young Indiana Jones Chronicles, developing techniques that would be utilised on the Star Wars prequels.

“We are extremely excited to be re-igniting ILM’s involvement in this market,” said Hayden Jones. “The television and streaming segments have grown exponentially in recent years and we are seeing substantial demand for high caliber visual effects that can be delivered on schedule and within budget.”

Presumably, ILM TV will also work on the Marvel live-action series for Disney+, too.

Friday, 9 November 2018

Cassian Andor live-action Star Wars series for Disney+

Disney+, the Mouse House’s streaming service launching in 2019, adds another live-action Star Wars series. Announced by Disney CEO Bob Iger, the series will focus on Rogue One spy Cassian Andor with Diego Luna reprising the role so beloved by fans.

“Going back to the Star Wars universe is very special for me,” said Luna. “I have so many memories of the great work we did together and the relationships I made throughout the journey. We have a fantastic adventure ahead of us, and this new exciting format will give us the chance to explore this character more deeply.”

Like director Jon Favreau's The Mandalorian, the Cassian Andor series will be set between events in the Star Wars movies and could see familiar faces return including Saw Gerrera and Ahsoka Tano.

Disney+ will be a direct-to-consumer treasure trove of new and archival delights, the Walt Disney company has a rich storied history spanning decades, when it launches backed by exclusive Marvel, Pixar and Star Wars content.

Excited for the Cassian Andor series? Let me know in the comments below.

Monday, 5 November 2018

Kevin Feige outlines streaming plans for Marvel Studios

Following news that The Winter Soldier and Falcon will have their own exclusive series on Disney's upcoming streaming service (predicated to be called Disney Play). Marvel Studios president Kevin Feige outlined his vision for the streaming service:

“Well, it’s not a hundred percent complete yet, so there’s only so much I’m allowed to say, or so much they even tell me. But Paul [Greengrass] mentioned the streaming service, and I think that is something that we’re going to be adding content to, which is exciting. I love your analogy with the campfire, right? As many people as you can get around the campfire and tell stories. Campfires can be different: We are going to tell stories for the streaming service that we wouldn’t be able to tell in a theatrical experience — a longer-form narrative, that’s what comics are, it’s about as longform a narrative as exists. But also maintaining that theatrical experience, which is our bread and butter, and the lines around the block, if you’re lucky.”

It does appear the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) spin-offs on Disney's platform will be directly connected to the big screen movies, unlike the Netflix Marvel series.

Friday, 2 November 2018

The Winter Soldier and Falcon to get streaming series

As Netflix cancels Marvel's Iron Fist and Luke Cage, The Winter Soldier and Falcon are set to join Loki and Scarlet Witch with their own limited-run series on Disney's upcoming streaming service.

There's no news regarding Sebastian Stan and Anthony Mackie reprising their respective big screen roles. But, given Marvel Studios president Kevin Feige is overseeing the in-house Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) spin-offs, it would be no surprise and Disney has the financial firepower to maintain continuity.

Whilst it's tempting to suggest Disney's ultimate ambition is to have all its content on one platform. The Netflix Marvel deal is more nuanced and was inked in 2013. Therefore, Daredevil could continue on Netflix indefinitely. Of all the series, Daredevil was the first and best. The others were dour and a chore to watch. Netflix does have exclusive distribution deals with CBS All Access and DC Unlimited (outside the US) but is wisely investing in more original series including The Haunting of Hill House and Chilling Adventures of Sabrina. The latter is a savvy and twisted reimagining from Greg Berlanti, that owes little to the Nickelodeon sitcom Sabrina the Teenage Witch, and may become this generation's Buffy the Vampire Slayer.

Variety reports the new streaming service is known internally as Disney Play. If Disney Play is used, presumably DisneyLife will be rebranded to avoid any confusion and align the brand.

DisneyLife has struggled to gain an audience in the UK & Ireland since launching in 2015. I didn't consider subscribing until last Christmas when an app for Samsung Smart TVs was released. However, the global rollout of the streaming service in 2019 will be bolstered by exclusive Marvel and Star Wars live-action spin-offs. That may be more than enough reason for fans of both franchises to sign-up.

Do you subscribe to DisneyLife? Is the streaming space becoming too fragmented and costly? Let me know in the comments below.

Wednesday, 31 October 2018

Sony announces game line-up for PlayStation Classic

Sony has announced the full list of 20 pre-loaded games included with the PlayStation Classic:

Battle Arena Toshinden
Cool Boarders 2
Destruction Derby
Final Fantasy VII
Grand Theft Auto
Intelligent Qube
Jumping Flash!
Metal Gear Solid
Mr. Driller
Oddworld: Abe’s Oddysee
Resident Evil Director’s Cut
Revelations: Persona
Ridge Racer Type 4
Super Puzzle Fighter II Turbo
Syphon Filter
Tekken 3
Tom Clancy’s Rainbow Six
Twisted Metal
Wild Arms

It's met with a divided reaction from fans because the Japanese release includes Parasite Eve and Armored Core.

What do you think of the line-up? Will you be getting a PlayStation Classic this December? Let me know in the comments below.

Saturday, 20 October 2018

Netflix's Marvel superhero series to end?

Daredevil season 3 dropped yesterday and is already garnering rave reviews. The return of Wilson Fisk (Vincent D'Onofrio) assures this MCU spin-off remains a top-tier superhero series. However, Iron Fist and now Luke Cage will not be renewed.

In a joint statement shared by Variety, Netflix and Marvel Television say: "Unfortunately, Marvel's Luke Cage will not return for a third season.

"Everyone at Marvel Television and Netflix is grateful to the dedicated showrunner, writers, cast and crew who brought Harlem's Hero to life for the past two seasons, and to all the fans who have supported the series."

With Disney launching its own worldwide streaming service in 2019. The fate of the Marvel Netflix spin-off series seems sealed. The Mouse House has already announced live-action series for Loki and Scarlet Witch, starring Tom Hiddleston and Elizabeth Olsen respectively, and having all exclusive content, under the roof of the Magic Kingdom, would appeal to shareholders (if not the fans). That said, due to an historical deal, Disney has to share Spider-Man with Sony. So, don't rule out further Daredevil seasons exclusively on Netflix.

Personally, I unreservedly enjoyed Daredevil. Further interconnected spin-offs left me cold compared to the fun of DC Comics' DCTV multiverse.

What are your thoughts? Would you miss Marvel Netflix superheroes or welcome exclusive multimillion-dollar series direct from Disney? Let me know in the comments below.