Sunday, 14 April 2019

The Mandalorian first look at Star Wars Celebration

Star Wars fans got their first look at the upcoming Disney+ live-action series The Mandalorian, from executive producer Jon Favreau (Iron Man), during a panel at Star Wars Celebration Chicago.

The Mandalorian, starring Pedro Pascal as the titular character, is set between Return of the Jedi and The Force Awakens and follows a lone gunslinger modelled on Boba Fett.

Saturday, 13 April 2019

Become a Jedi in Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order

Respawn Entertainment, the EA studio behind Titanfall and Apex Legends, is determined to rinse away any residual bitter aftertaste, following stablemate Dice's Star Wars: Battlefront II microtransactions debacle, with Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order for PS4 and Xbox One this November.

An official reveal trailer for Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order was shown during Star Wars Celebration Chicago. The canon single-player video game is set between Revenge of the Sith and A New Hope, and you play as Padawan Cal Kestis, played by Cameron Monaghan (Gotham), as he's pursued by the Empire lead by the Second Sister.

EA took to Twitter to assuage Star Wars fans' concerns regarding microtransactions and loot boxes being added post-launch.

"No microtransactions. No loot boxes. And no, we won't be adding them," EA said. "A single-player Star Wars story for those of you who are ready to become a Jedi."

The thought of playing as a Padawan on the run, in the wake of Order 66, is too compelling to resist a month before Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker is released in cinemas. I'll be picking this up day-one for Xbox One X.

Star Wars Jedi: Fallen is available for pre-order (affiliate link).

So, what do you think? Is the promise of no microtransactions enough? Let me know in the comments below.

Friday, 12 April 2019

Star Wars: Episode IX is The Rise of Skywalker

The title and first teaser trailer for Star Wars: Episode IX was announced during the Episode IX panel, featuring the cast and crew, at Star Wars Celebration Chicago.

The teaser trailer for The Rise of Skywalker broke Twitter and left many fans (myself included) in bits. From the opening shot of Rey (Daisy Ridley), mirroring Finn's (John Boyega) introduction in the teaser for The Force Awakens, building to a mythological crescendo, via Lando Calrissian's (Billy Dee Williams) reintroduction alongside Chewie aboard the Millennium Falcon and a heartbreaking scene with Leia (Carrie Fisher) and Rey, overlooking the shattered shell of the Death Star II before fading to black and dropping an epic bombshell, which I'd yearned for since the demise of Snoke (Andy Serkis) in The Last Jedi. The Emperor (Ian McDiarmid), the catalyst for the entire Skywalker saga spread over three trilogies, is back for one last hoorah...

Disney has confirmed the Star Wars movie franchise will go on hiatus after the release of JJ Abrams' The Rise of Skywalker this December. However, The Mandalorian live-action series will be on Disney+ (Disney's streaming service launches 12th November in the US). In related news. Alan Tudyk will reprise the role of K-2SO in a live-action prequel series to Rogue One: A Star Wars Story starring Diego Luna as Cassian Andor.

What do you think of the title and teaser trailer? Let me know in the comments below.

Thursday, 11 April 2019

JJ Abrams teases Star Wars: Episode IX

Star Wars Celebration Chicago begins today and fans around the world will be anxiously awaiting Friday's panel with director JJ Abrams (The Force Awakens), Lucasfilm president Kathleen Kennedy and cast members from Episode IX. A title and teaser trailer are expected to be announced.

Abrams recently sat down with Fast Company to discuss Apple TV+, building Bad Robot and the seemingly impossible task of completing the Skywalker saga, that began with the original Star Wars in 1977, after Colin Trevorrow (Jurassic World) vacated the director's chair citing creative differences:

“Our movie was not just following what we had started [with The Force Awakens], it was following what we had started and then had been advanced by someone else [with Star Wars: The Last Jedi]. So there was that, and, finally, it was resolving nine movies. While there are some threads of larger ideas and some big picture things that had been conceived decades ago and a lot of ideas that Lawrence Kasdan and I had when we were doing Episode VII, the lack of absolute inevitability, the lack of a complete structure for this thing, given the way it was being run, was an enormous challenge.

“However, to answer your question—truly, finally—now that I’m back, the difference is I feel like we might’ve done it. Like, I actually feel like this crazy challenge that could have been a wildly uncomfortable contortion of ideas, and a kind of shoving-in of answers and Band-Aids and bridges and things that would have felt messy. Strangely, we were sort of relentless and almost unbearably disciplined about the story and forcing ourselves to question and answer some fundamental things that at the beginning, I absolutely had no clue how we would begin to address.

“I feel like we’ve gotten to a place—without jinxing anything or sounding more confident than I deserve to be—I feel like we’re in a place where we might have something incredibly special. So I feel relief being home, and I feel gratitude that I got to do it. And more than anything, I’m excited about what I think we might have.”

Friday will be a day long remembered by fans. What announcements are you hoping for during the 5-day event? Let me know in the comments below.

Friday, 5 April 2019

Alien franchise to continue at Disney

You can't keep a 40-year-old xenomorph down for long. The Alien and Planet of the Apes franchises aren't going anywhere now that Disney has completed its acquisition of Fox's film and television assets.

According to The Hollywood Reporter, Fox’s Emma Watts, speaking during CinemaCon, said the Walt Disney Company has plans for the Avatar, Kingsman, Alien and Planet of the Apes franchises:

“We intend to do our part, and it is in that spirit that we will continue to create new stories.”

Given Disney's successful reboot of the Star Wars franchise, don't be surprised to see a new series of Alien movies with big-name directors at the helm.

In the meantime, director James Cameron's toiling away on his Avatar sequels for the House of Mouse. Expect these to fill the December void vacated by Star Wars, after this Christmas' conclusion to the Skywalker saga in Episode IX, for the foreseeable future.

IGN continues to showcase selected fan films to celebrate the 40th anniversary of the original Alien in the run-up to Alien Day on 26th April.

What Alien stories would you like told? Let me know in the comments below.

Thursday, 4 April 2019

Joaquin Phoenix's dark descent in Joker teaser trailer

"I used to think my life was a tragedy. But now I realise... it's a comedy." Thirty years since Jack Nicholson played the Joker in Tim Burton's Batman, Joaquin Phoenix (Her) plays Batman's nemesis in Joker, a dark origin story inspired by Alan Moore's The Killing Joke, directed by Todd Phillips this October.

What do you think of Joaquin Phoenix's incarnation of the Joker? Let me know in the comments below.

Tuesday, 2 April 2019

Avengers: Endgame tickets go on sale crashing sites

Tickets for Marvel Studios' Avengers: Endgame have gone on sale and crashed booking websites around the world. I'm currently stuck in a queue for Vue cinemas, which may last longer than an hour. So, here's a new trailer whilst fans wait.

Avengers: Endgame is in cinemas 25th April.

Monday, 1 April 2019

Sega Mega Drive Mini launches this September

This isn't an April Fools' Day joke. The Sega Mega Drive Mini (Sega Genesis Mini if you're in the US) has been officially revealed with a price and launch date.

Sega's following the success of Nintendo, and hopefully avoiding Sony's PlayStation Classic faux pas, with its own mini console, which has been developed in-house in the wake of concerns regarding previously licensed Mega Drive/Genesis consoles from third-parties, later this year. M2, the developer lauded for Sega Ages, is handling emulation. The £69.99GBP machine will include 2 control pads and 40 games (regions vary).

Sega has announced the following games for the Western version:

Altered Beast
Castlevania: Bloodlines
Comix Zone
Dr. Robotnik’s Mean Bean Machine
Ecco the Dolphin
Gunstar Heroes
Shining Force
Sonic the Hedgehog
Space Harrier II
ToeJam & Earl

The Sega Mega Drive (Genesis in the US due to a copyright issue and at the suggestion of Atari before a distribution deal fell through because Jack Tramiel wanted to focus on the Atari ST) ignited the 16-bit console wars and pushed incumbent Nintendo off the top spot with its futuristic looks and edgy marketing targeted at the cool kids. As a college student, I remember flicking through the pages of Dark Horse Comics and eagerly awaiting the UK launch of the console in 1990. This would be my first new console since Atari VCS, and the 8-bit computer era, dominated by the Commodore 64, was at an end. Near-perfect arcade ports of Sega titles, including Space Harrier and Golden Axe, were too irresistible.

Whilst I already own Sega Mega Drive Classics for Xbox One, I'll be adding the Sega Mega Drive Mini to my classic console collection this September.

Did you own a Sega Mega Drive/Genesis back in the day? What are your memories, will you be getting the mini console and which games would you like to see? Let me know in the comments below.

The Sega Mega Drive Mini is available to pre-order (affiliate link).

Thursday, 28 March 2019

Marvel Studios' new featurettes for Avengers: Endgame

Marvel Studios has revealed a running time of 182 minutes for Avengers: Endgame and released two new featurettes.

In the making of Avengers: Endgame, the Russo brothers discuss the advantages of using IMAX cameras for the climactic conclusion of the decade-spanning Infinity Saga.

Marvel Studios has also released a "We Lost" featurette with Robert Downey Jr. (Iron Man), Chris Evans (Captain America), Chris Hemsworth (Thor) and Scarlett Johansson (Black Widow). This evokes all the feels for Marvel fans (myself included).

Avengers: Endgame is in cinemas 25th April.

Monday, 25 March 2019

Netflix naysayer Steven Spielberg launches Apple TV+

Apple CEO Tim Cook took to the stage at the Steve Jobs Theatre to announce the Cupertino-based company’s first foray into streaming services. Apple TV+.

Rob Wainfur, the founder of The Bearded Trio and fellow Steven Spielberg fan, reacts to the news the Oscar-winning director is reviving eighties anthology series Amazing Stories exclusively on Apple TV+.

Guest post by Rob Wainfur

There was no denying that today’s announcement by Apple of its new streaming service, Apple TV+, was a glitzy affair with a bunch of A-Listers making an appearance such as Star Wars director JJ Abrams, Reese Witherspoon, Jennifer Aniston, Steve Carell, Oprah, Jason Momoa, Ron Howard, Hailee Steinfeld and even Big Bird from Sesame Street!

Of course, my interest was piqued when Steven Spielberg also joined the Apple hype train on stage. Apple, it seems, has really pulled out all the stops on this announcement and, with a hefty billion dollar investment in the fledgeling streaming service, is desperate to become one of the leading subscription-based providers and sit alongside the likes of Amazon Prime and, of course, Netflix.

But, and this may be slightly controversial, especially from a huge Steven Spielberg fan such as myself, with Spielberg and Apple now the best of buddies, I can't help but wonder if the recent attack by the director on Netflix, and whether or not it should be eligible for Academy Awards, was nothing more than a strategic plan by them to just muddy the waters a little? It does seem unlikely, but when the budgets are in the billions of dollars, and Amblin have a vested interest with Amazing Stories being one of the launch titles, then asking Mr Spielberg to just rock the boat ever-so-slightly could easily be a possibility, however remote.

Apple TV+ will be available on first and third-party devices including Samsung, LG and Sony smart TVs. This is an inspired, and necessary, move if the company is serious about rivalling Netflix, Amazon Prime and Disney+, which launches later this year bolstered by Fox’s extensive film and television catalogue.

One thing is for certain, with a new streaming service joining the party, and more on the horizon, we are most definitely going to need a bigger boat... And wallets [Apple has an app for that - Ed].

Apple TV+ is set to launch in over a hundred countries later this year. What are your thoughts? Let us know in the comments below.