Sunday, 19 September 2021

Foundation first look on Apple TV+

Apple TV+’s ambitious adaptation of Foundation, dubbed Games of Thrones in space, debuts with two episodes this Friday. The Cupertino-based tech titan has released a first look ahead of its highly-anticipated premiere.

Read the official Foundation synopsis:

"Based on the award-winning novels by Isaac Asimov, Foundation chronicles a band of exiles on their monumental journey to save humanity and rebuild civilization amid the fall of the Galactic Empire."

“'Foundation' is the greatest science fiction work of all time, and it's never been brought to the screen before," says series showrunner and executive producer David S. Goyer (The Dark Knight Trilogy). "It took a while for the world to be ready for 'Foundation,' and that age has finally arrived."

Foundation casts a long shadow over sci-fi popular culture. Influencing everything from Dune to Star Wars. The former was most recently adapted for the big screen by director Denis Villeneuve (Arrival).

Foundation premieres on 24th September exclusively on Apple TV+.

Are you looking forward to Foundation on Apple TV+? Let me know in the comments below.

Saturday, 18 September 2021

ZX Spectrum of possibilities

The passing of Sir Clive Sinclair, the British inventor and entrepreneur who was instrumental in bringing home computers to the masses, at the age of 81, has reminded me of the joy of discovery.

Christmas 1982 was all about the Sinclair ZX Spectrum 48K, Horace Goes Skiing and Disney's Tron (available on Disney+)! Not to mention Steven Spielberg's E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial breaking the collective hearts of cinemagoers the world over.

The first time I saw a computer in person was at dad's lighting shop in Truro. The Commodore PET looked like something out of Star Trek and captured my young imagination. Soon after, a BBC Micro materialised in middle school. However, having our own 8-bit home computer (a year after my folks bought a VCR so I could record The Five Faces of Doctor Who) was transcendental!

Computing leaned into an insatiable appetite for learning, buoyed by a reading age of 16 (I was 10).

Hours were spent and lost inputting basic code from the pack-in manual and Crash magazine at weekends. Although my coding skills fell far short of any lofty ambitions I may have had to create Tron's Master Control Program (MCP), programming helped to take my mind off of weekly rehabilitation from a life-changing brain injury.

And games! So many games in the age of Atari!

Most notably from Ultimate Play the Game AKA Rare. Plugging in the Currah ╬╝Speech peripheral unlocked voices in Atic Atac years before Atari's Gauntlet gobbled up my allowance at the arcades! Titles such as Knight Lore were revolutionary. And Ocean's Daley Thompson’s Decathlon culminated in the premature demise of lesser joysticks.

I would go on to own a Sinclair ZX Spectrum+ (the beloved original handed down to a younger cousin who soon broke it), Commodore 64 and all things Apple thereafter. But nothing will surpass discovering that little 8-bit home computer, with the rubbery keyboard, filled with infinite possibility under the Christmas tree in 1982...

Thank you, Sir Clive Sinclair. RIP.

Friday, 17 September 2021

Batman: The Birth of the Modern Blockbuster

“Where does he get those wonderful toys?” Ahead of DC FanDome this October, Warner Bros. has released a documentary examining the cultural impact and legacy of director Tim Burton's Batman to celebrate Batman Day this Saturday!

In the summer of 1989, Burton (Beetlejuice) was the subversive outsider who conquered Tinseltown and brought DC Comics' Batman, starring Michael Keaton as the titular dark detective and Jack Nicholson as archnemesis The Joker, to the masses in a postmodern ode to Fritz Lang's Metropolis and German expressionism.

Batman is a marketing masterclass, which took lessons from George Lucas' original Star Wars trilogy, launching merchandise in-store months before the film was released in cinemas. From posters at Athena to Kenner action figures at Woolworths. This created a fever dream of hype invading the public's consciousness worldwide.

The movie's release coincided with an inaugural visit to the iconic HMV Oxford Street, London, seemingly the epicentre of 'Batmania' in the UK as Prince's tie-in album reverberated around the sadly defunct store on repeat.

However, I wanted Danny Elfman's original soundtrack much to the chagrin of a member of staff. Well, I was more geek than chic, and this was a time before The Big Bang Theory. On the long coach journey home, I listened to the cassette on a Sony Walkman.

Having been brought up on Saturday morning reruns of Adam West's sixties series, my initial reaction to Batman was mixed! However, one of my favourite undergraduate memories is attending a special 70mm print screening, with Nick Smith, at the Odeon Bournemouth (one of the locations used for our undergraduate production December Duet) in the mid-nineties.

Years later, I got to work with Garrick Hagon (Star Wars) on Dirk Maggs' audio movie, The Gemini Apes, for BBC Radio 4. During a break in recording, he recounted filming the opening scene of Batman. Yes, we also talked about all things Star Wars. Poor, Biggs!

What are your memories of Batman, and how do you plan to celebrate Batman Day? Let me know in the comments below.

Thursday, 16 September 2021

Hayley Atwell is Lara Croft on Netflix

I vividly remember watching Captain America: The First Avenger and thinking Hayley Atwell (Agent Carter) should play Lara Croft in a live-action Tomb Raider reboot! Incidentally, The First Avenger is notable for a pre-Doctor Who cameo by Jenna Coleman.

Ultimately, the big screen baton was passed from Angelina Jolie to Alicia Vikander as Atwell continued to reprise her role as fan-favourite Agent Carter in the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU).

Atwell has now been cast as the titular character for Netflix's animated spin-off series. It will follow the events of Square Enix's Tomb Raider video game trilogy, which starred Camilla Luddington as the archaeological heroine inspired by Indiana Jones.

Tomb Raider celebrates its 25th anniversary this year. However, there's no news on when the animated series will debut on Netflix.

Looking forward to seeing Hayley Atwell as Lara Croft? Let me know in the comments below.

Wednesday, 15 September 2021

Andrew Garfield speaks out on Spider-Man

Andrew Garfield (The Social Network) continues to deny any involvement with Spider-Man: No Way Home, following an alleged on-set photo leak, during an interview on The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon.

Garfield played the titular web-slinger in The Amazing Spider-Man and The Amazing Spider-Man 2 before Tom Holland took over the role in Captain America: Civil War. His portrayal of Peter Parker remains underrated.

If the rumours are true that both Garfield and Tobey Maguire are reprising the role of Spider-Man alongside Holland, I don't want our holiday season surprise spoiled. And I'm sure Marvel Studios' president Kevin Feige has no intention of letting that happen. Some fans have suggested deepfake technology may be utilised, but I hope not.

Are you looking forward to Spider-Man: No Way Home? Let me know in the comments below.

Tuesday, 14 September 2021

Marvel's holiday gifts come with a bow

Marvel Studios has been crushing it in 2021 with its Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) spin-off series on Disney+. From WandaVision to What If...?, it's been unmissable character-driven viewing for all true believers (myself included).

On Monday, Disney+ dropped some early holiday cheer with an official teaser trailer for Marvel Studios' Hawkeye.

Read the official synopsis:

"Disney+ and Marvel Studios invite you on an unexpected holiday getaway, unwrapping a brand-new teaser trailer and poster today for “Hawkeye,” a new series set in post-blip New York City. Former Avenger Clint Barton has a seemingly simple mission: get back to his family for Christmas. Possible? Maybe with the help of Kate Bishop, a 22-year-old archer with dreams of becoming a Super Hero. The two are forced to work together when a presence from Barton’s past threatens to derail far more than the festive spirit."

Jeremy Renner reprises his role as Hawkeye, who teams up with another well-known archer from Marvel Comics, Kate Bishop, played by Oscar-nominee Hailee Steinfeld (Bumblebee).

Renner described Steinfeld's character to Entertainment Weekly (EW) by saying, “[Kate is] a 22-year-old kid and she’s a big Hawkeye fan. She has a wonderfully annoying and equally charming manner about her, because she’s such a fangirl of Hawkeye. The relationship grows from that, but the biggest problem for Clint is Kate Bishop and the onslaught of problems that she brings into his life.”

The trappings of the holiday season certainly allow for comparisons with MCU stablemate Iron Man 3 and Die Hard and Home Alone (both available on Star on Disney+). Hawkeye is rumoured to tie into Spider-Man: No Way Home.

Hawkeye debuts in time for Thanksgiving on Disney+ on 24th November.

Looking forward to Marvel Studios' Hawkeye? Let me know in the comments below.

Monday, 13 September 2021

The Matrix Resurrections ignores sequels?

Following the release of an eye-popping first trailer for The Matrix Resurrections offering a semiological smorgasbord, which has enough nostalgic beats to pique this Gen Xer's interest, Warner Bros. has released an official synopsis seemingly suggesting The Matrix Reloaded and The Matrix Revolutions will be ignored in the third sequel.

“The Matrix Resurrections is a continuation of the story established in the first Matrix film. It reunites Keanu Reeves and Carrie-Anne Moss as cinematic icons Neo & Trinity in an expansion of their story that ventures back into the Matrix and even deeper down the rabbit hole.

A mind-bending new adventure with action and epic scale, it’s set in a familiar yet even more provocative world where reality is more subjective than ever and all that’s required to see the truth is to free your mind.

Twenty years after the first film, the franchise that helped define pop culture at the turn of the century is back for a continuation and extension of the original movie. The Matrix remains in the zeitgeist as a film that has changed the way we look at cinema and reality itself. With its game-changing action and visual effects, The Matrix helped pave the way for films to follow.”

This wouldn't be the first time a franchise has ignored previous sequels (see The Terminator). However, this could be a misdirect and there's always the possibility the filmmakers will deconstruct the concept of a reboot within a reboot. How very meta.

The Matrix Resurrections is in cinemas and on HBO Max on 22nd December. Our very own Agent Smith, Nick Smith, will be reviewing the highly-anticipated sequel this holiday season.

Are you looking forward to The Matrix Resurrections? Let me know in the comments below.

Sunday, 12 September 2021

Funko Pop! Grogu at Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade

Funko and Macy's have partnered with Lucasfilm to bring The Mandalorian's Grogu to this year's Thanksgiving Day Parade on 25th November.

“We’re no strangers to the thrill of translating Star Wars characters into the Pop! form,” Funko art director Reis O’Brien tells “Thanks to the strong creative relationship with Lucasfilm, we knew we could develop a fun, charming and iconic moment. After a crash course in how the Macy’s balloons are constructed, we started the creative process inspired by everyone’s love for Grogu. His giant ears were an unexpected challenge of their own, but once we finally got a peek at the final result we knew that all of our hard work and collaboration had paid off. There’s going to be a whole lot of cuteness floating above the streets of New York City come Thanksgiving morning.”

Surprisingly, this will be the first-ever Star Wars-inspired balloon at the iconic Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade!

“It’s always fun working with Funko and bringing Star Wars to fans, but this time, the fun and the unique challenges were supersized,” says Brian Merten, senior manager of product design at Lucasfilm. “Bringing Grogu to life as a 37-foot-wide balloon was no small feat and took close collaboration with the Funko design team, as well as the balloon designers from Macy’s. I am very happy with the result and can’t wait to see it in the parade!”

There's official merchandise exclusively available from Macy’s will also feature select items from Funko available for purchase at Macy’s Herald Square in New York City this fall.

Saturday, 11 September 2021

Marvel fans PlayStation Showcase winners

Aside from PlayStation 5 (PS5) timed exclusive Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic remake, Marvel announcements from PlayStation Studios' Insomniac Games piqued my interest during PlayStation Showcase 2021.

Marvel's Spider-Man 2 and Marvel's Wolverine were teased exclusively for PS5.

"We’re so thrilled to continue the journey of both Peter Parker and Miles Morales in their most epic single-player adventure yet, coming exclusively to PlayStation 5 consoles in 2023," writes Insomniac Games' head of franchise strategy and studio relations Ryan Schneider on the PlayStation Blog.

Schneider goes on to add that Tony Todd (of Candyman fame) will be voicing the alien symbiote Venom and confirmed that both Yuri Lowenthal and Nadji Jeter will be reprising their roles of Peter Parker and Miles Morales respectively.

These PS5 exclusives are some way off. But there'll be plenty of time to buy Sony's elusive consoles between now and 2023.

Are you looking forward to Marvel's Spider-Man 2 and Marvel's Wolverine from Insomniac Games? Let me know in the comments below.

Friday, 10 September 2021

Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic on PS5

During Thursday's PlayStation Showcase 2021, Lucasfilm Games announced Aspyr Media is remaking BioWare's classic Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic as a timed exclusive for PlayStation 5 (PS5).

Aspyr Media has a storied history of porting games to macOS, iOS and Android devices. I reviewed the macOS port of Star Wars Jedi Knight: Jedi Academy in 2004.

"With Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic – Remake, our hope is to give both series newcomers and long-term fans an experience that can live alongside the very best modern releases. We’re rebuilding it from the ground up with the latest tech to match the groundbreaking standard of innovation established by the original, all while staying true to its revered story," said Ryan Treadwell of Aspyr Media on the PlayStation Blog.

Are you excited for Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic on PS5, and are you tempted to buy Sony's newest console to play this timed exclusive? Let me know in the comments below.