Wednesday, 22 May 2019

Knights of Ren return in The Rise of Skywalker

Kylo Ren's (Adam Driver) fabled Knights of Ren, first mentioned by Supreme Leader Snoke (Andy Serkis) and appearing in Rey's (Daisy Ridley) Force vision in Star Wars: The Force Awakens, will finally make their move in The Rise of Skywalker.

Many fans (myself included) imagined the Knights of Ren would play a pivotal role in Rian Johnson's The Last Jedi, but it was not meant to be.

Vanity Fair has an exclusive behind-the-scenes look at JJ Abrams' upcoming Star Wars sequel that will conclude the Skywalker saga spanning three trilogies beginning with George Lucas' original trilogy in 1977.

Tuesday, 21 May 2019

BBC and HBO adapt His Dark Materials

As the sun sets over Westeros and genre fans look to Westworld, HBO has its sights on a fantastical literary adaptation in conjunction with the BBC. His Dark Materials.

The classic Philip Pullman trilogy was previously adapted for the cinema in The Golden Compass, starring Daniel Craig (James Bond) and Sir Ian McKellen (The Lord of the Rings), but further sequels were abandoned. HBO and the BBC have released a trailer for the upcoming 8-part series.

His Dark Materials looks utterly compelling, but what's happened to the live-action adaptation of The World of the Worlds, BBC? Asking for a friend.

Monday, 20 May 2019

From Westeros to Futureworld in Westworld III

Before the climactic series finale of Game of Thrones, HBO dropped a sinister teaser trailer for Westworld season 3.

Aaron Paul (Breaking Bad) discovers a distressed Dolores (Evan Rachel Wood) in what appears to be Futureworld. Futureworld was the sequel to the original Westworld directed by Michael Crichton.

How long before the machines revolt? Find out on HBO in 2020.

Sunday, 19 May 2019

Who will sit upon the Iron Throne in Game of Thrones?

Not since Star Wars: The Last Jedi has there been such a vocal backlash from a fevered fanbase. Game of Thrones' final series is as divisive as it is brilliantly brutal (this is coming from someone who painstakingly built model kits; only to destroy them with fireworks). So much so, there's a fan petition demanding HBO remake season 8. Like that's ever going to happen as discussed with major spoilers here. Ownership is an issue that has plagued creators and their audiences for millennia. George Lucas tinkered with the original Star Wars trilogy, for creative and commercial gain, much to the chagrin of many fans.

Admittedly, there are increasing instances of choose-your-own-adventure (Fighting Fantasy was my literary gateway into the genre) creeping into Hollywood film and television series as video games surpass those long-lasting pillars as successful works of commercial art. Netflix recently experimented with branching storylines in Black Mirror: Bandersnatch.

During season 8 of Game of Thrones, there are moments when I instinctively reach for an imaginary games controller in order to save or allow Arya Stark (Maisie Williams) to die, much like playing Don Bluth's laserdisc-based Dragon's Lair in a Great Yarmouth arcade long, long ago. However, there will always be a place for linear storytelling and Game of Thrones has been a pop culture phenomena during a decade that has witnessed a seismic shift in geopolitics.

Did anyone really expect a franchise filled with deeply flawed antagonists, and no clear heroic archetypes aside from the bumbling Jon Snow (Kit Harington), would end happily ever after? Daenerys Targaryen's (Emilia Clarke) dark descent into the 'mad queen', nor Cersei (Lena Headey) and Jaime Lannister's (Nikolaj Coster-Waldau) fate, won't please everyone. But it sets up a difficult to predict finale.

As a wise person once told me: sometimes the journey is more exciting than the destination. Like Lost before it. Game of Thrones has been enriched by shared experiences with followers online and friendships forged. I subscribed to NOW TV in 2012 solely to watch the then-fledgeling series and would never have received Blu-ray box sets or been invited to preview the first four episodes of stablemate Westworld courtesy of the fine folks at Sky Atlantic.

Whatever happens in the series finale today, I'll be watching early Monday morning (BST). Just need to set my Alexa alarm...

Friday, 17 May 2019

Batwoman first look as The CW ends Netflix deal

The CW has released a first look trailer for Batwoman. Ruby Rose plays the titular crime fighter in the latest Arrow spin-off series joining The Flash, DC's Legends of Tomorrow and Supergirl.

Netflix has had a first-run deal with The CW since 2011 in the US, but Batwoman, Nancy Drew and Riverdale spin-off Katy Keene won't automatically be available as owners CBS and Warner Bros. look to capitalise on the streaming space themselves. It's becoming increasingly crowded and, with Apple TV+ and Disney+ entering the fray later this year, not everyone is going to succeed. The streaming wars have begun in earnest...

Thursday, 16 May 2019

Star Trek: Picard to boldly go on Amazon Prime

After inking an international distribution deal with Amazon Prime outside the US, CBS All Access has announced the title of its next Star Trek spin-off series.

Star Trek: Picard. Snappy and the logo makes inspired use of Starfleet's iconic insignia.

Star Trek executive producer Alex Kurtzman said Picard, starring Sir Patrick Stewart in the titular role, would be character-driven, “The mandate was to make it a more psychological show, a character study about this man in his emeritus years. There are so few shows that allow a significantly older protagonist to be the driver.”

“What happens when circumstances have conspired to not give him the happiest of endings?” Kurtzman teased. “Hopefully, it’s a reinforcement of [Star Trek creator Gene] Roddenberry’s vision of optimism. He’s going to have to go through deep valleys to get back to the light.”

Kurtzman said the series will be a contrast to Discovery's derring-do. “It’ll be very different than Discovery,” he says. “It’ll be slower, more meditative. It speaks to the rainbow of colors we’re playing within all these different shows.”

Star Trek: Picard is currently in production and expected to premiere later this year on CBS All Access and Amazon Prime.

Wednesday, 15 May 2019

Game of Thrones’ showrunners to helm new Star Wars

Speaking at the MoffettNathanson Media & Communications Summit in New York, Disney CEO Bob Iger announced Game of Thrones’ showrunners D.B. Weiss and David Benioff will helm the first instalment in the next Star Wars trilogy following JJ Abrams’ The Rise of Skywalker this December.

Fan reaction is mixed given the controversial creative choices made for Game of Thrones’ final season on HBO. I liken it to an essay on hubris much like Rian Johnson’s The Last Jedi that deconstructed and subverted established Star Wars tropes.

What do you think about a new trilogy helmed by the Game of Thrones showrunners? Should Disney replace them in the wake of an internet backlash or let the dust settle? Let me know in the comments below.

The first instalment in the new Star Wars trilogy will be in cinemas December 2022.

Tuesday, 14 May 2019

Disney buys Hulu ahead of launching Disney+

Disney+ launches 12th November in the US and the Walt Disney Company has taken full control of Hulu from Comcast. The acquisition of Hulu will further bolster the House of Mouse's challenge to Netflix in the, highly competitive and increasingly overcrowded, streaming space.

Disney+ will exclusively stream Marvel Studios and Star Wars live-action series including Loki and The Mandalorian.

Monday, 13 May 2019

Amazon Prime to stream 'Picard' Star Trek outside US

Star Trek: Discovery recently concluded its second season on CBS All Access and Netflix outside the US. The next Star Trek spin-off from CBS All Access, an untitled series starring Sir Patrick Stewart as fan-favourite Captain Jean-Luc Picard, will stream exclusively on Amazon Prime outside the US.

“There’s only one word that can begin to describe Sir Patrick Stewart as Starship Commander Jean-Luc Picard, and that’s ‘legendary,’” said series executive producer Alex Kurtzman. “We are thrilled beyond measure to have him back in command, bringing the optimistic messages of Star Trek to audiences around the world.”

“We’re thrilled to partner with CBS to bring the newest edition of the storied Star Trek franchise to our international Amazon Prime Video customers,” said Brad Beale, Vice President, Worldwide Content Licensing for Amazon Prime Video. “With the incredible Sir Patrick Stewart returning as the beloved Jean-Luc Picard, we’re excited we can give Trek fans both old and new the opportunity to see him back in action. It’s a terrific addition to our already robust catalog of exclusive Amazon Prime Video content.”

“For 50 years, the Star Trek series have been a global sensation, spanning generations and audiences of all ages. It’s an honor to welcome Sir Patrick Stewart back for what is sure to be another world-class extension of the historic franchise,” said Armando Nuñez, President and Chief Executive Officer, CBS Global Distribution Group. “We look forward to working with the team at Amazon Prime Video to bring this next chapter of the incredible Star Trek franchise to its passionate international fan base.”

This move is surprising as Star Trek has found a comfy home on Netflix. Whilst fans wait for further details, many fans (myself included) are hoping a Captain Pike (Anson Mount) spin-off will be announced. If not, it'll be one of the biggest missed opportunities in the franchise's long-running history.

Friday, 10 May 2019

Star Wars fan film: Vader v Kenobi duel reimagined

This Star Wars fan film reimagines the final duel between Obi-Wan Kenobi (Sir Alec Guinness) and Darth Vader (David Prowse) aboard the first dreaded Death Star in A New Hope. A scene infamously spoiled in the track listing for the soundtrack album. And this wouldn't be the last time a major plot spoiler would appear in a Star Wars soundtrack release. Qui-Gon's Noble End in The Phantom Menace is another notorious example.

"Scene 38 Reimagined is about the final confrontation between Ben Kenobi & Darth Vader in A New Hope nearly 20 years after the events of Revenge Of The Sith. This is a one-off story driven scene reflecting the characters in its chronological order from the point of Revenge of the Sith through Rebels, Rogue One, and all canon material leading to A New Hope."

George Lucas endlessly tinkered with the original and prequel trilogies prior to selling Lucasfilm to Disney in 2012. Those alterations have been met with derision by many fans. However, this fan film is certainly worth a watch in an era dominated by Hollywood bombast and attention deficit, a far cry from the seventies. There's a kineticism at play more in keeping with Kylo Ren's (Adam Driver) rage from The Force Awakens and The Last Jedi.

What do you think? Let me know in the comments below.