Friday, 30 September 2022

Kingdom of the Planet of the Apes

Disney has announced the next instalment in the post-apocalyptic Planet of the Apes franchise following the acquisition of Twentieth Century Fox.

Kingdom of the Planet of the Apes.

“Planet of the Apes is one of the most iconic and storied science fiction franchises in film history, as well as being an indelible part of our studio’s legacy,” said 20th Century Studios president, Steve Asbell. “With Kingdom of the Planet of the Apes, we are privileged to continue the series’ tradition of imaginative, thought-provoking cinema, and can’t wait to share Wes’ extraordinary vision for this new chapter with audiences in 2024.”

The House of Mouse has also shared a first look at the concept art. Freya Allen (The Witcher) stars in the upcoming movie directed by Wes Ball, which is expected to launch a new trilogy much like stablemate Star Wars.

Before Star Wars hit the big screen, I vividly remember watching The Planet of the Apes television series and playing with Mego action figures. My parents took me to a local county show that featured a special appearance by characters from the series. Marvel Comics' Spider-Man made a cameo, too.

Later, I discovered the original movies when they were repeated on television. Composer Jerry Goldsmith's (Alien) innovative soundtrack for The Planet of the Apes remains a touchstone.

The less said about director Tim Burton's (Batman) reboot in the nineties, the better.

Are you looking forward to the Kingdom of the Planet of the Apes? Let me know in the comments below.

Thursday, 29 September 2022

Star Wars composer John Williams knighted

Oscar-winning Star Wars composer John Williams has been bestowed with an honorary knighthood for his services to film music.

Williams is rightly regarded as one of the world's greatest film composers and has won numerous awards during his long career. From his stellar collaborations with Steven Spielberg and George Lucas, generations of moviegoers (myself included) will be familiar with his lush orchestrations.

Queen Elizabeth II made John Williams one of her last knights before passing away recently. Williams’ name was on the list of honorary awards for foreign nationals alongside other big names including former Disney CEO Bob Iger.

Williams most recently composed the main theme for Obi-Wan Kenobi on Disney+ and scored Steven Spielberg's semi-autobiographical The Fabelmans. He announced his retirement from movie music following Indiana Jones 5.

What are your favourite John Williams soundtracks? Let me know in the comments below.

Tuesday, 27 September 2022

Sky Stream spells the end for satellite TV

In 2000, I signed up for Sky satellite television and was one of the first customers to try Sky+ - I'd previously owned a TiVo digital recorder. Then, in 2008 I cancelled Sky and moved over to Freesat. This coincided with the financial crash and echoes the current cost of living crisis.

I was contacted, via this blog, to preview GO!VIEW on PlayStation Portable (PSP)! A joint venture between Sony Computer Entertainment Europe and BSkyB. Allowing PSP owners to access television, movies and sports on-demand and on the move. I panned GO!VIEW as being half-baked and for failing to be platform agnostic in my review as a Mac User in 2009.

When NOW (formerly NOW TV) was launched in 2012, I didn't hesitate to subscribe as broadband had come of age coupled with the advent of nascent streaming services led by Netflix.

For several years, I was a beta tester for NOW (including the company's badged Roku products and the Apple TV app). I could see the future potential for the NOW streaming service even though Sky remained focused on its primary satellite subscription business to its detriment.

With the streaming wars reaching their zenith in 2022, Sky (a division of Comcast) has announced Sky Stream, which is an internet-connected box that offers Sky Glass to customers who don't want or need a new television.

Stephen van Rooyen, Executive Vice President & CEO, UK & Europe, “Sky’s always reinvented the TV experience and offered the best content – but it’s not always been accessible to everyone. There couldn’t be a better time to launch our latest innovation using the Sky Glass Platform – whether you want to stream House of the Dragon, Gangs of London or Stranger Things, Sky Stream has it all. It’s the most affordable and easiest way to get Sky TV and Netflix together, offering consumers the value they are seeking right now.”

The Sky Stream device is available for existing and new Sky Glass customers now. It will also be available as a standalone device from 18th October. The 18-month contract costs £26 per month with a £20 initial setup fee. The 31-day rolling plan starts at £29 per month with a £39.95 setup fee.

Sky Stream offers all the usual add-ons, such as BT Sport, Sky Sports, Sky Cinema (includes Paramount+), 4K UHD and Dolby Atmos. Sky's subscription model still skews to tiered paywalls when many competitors offer 4K UHD and Dolby Atmos at no extra cost.

Like other streaming boxes or dongles from NOW, Sky Stream doesn't require installation, so you can easily set it up yourself.

As a chord-cutter a decade ago, I'm tempted to subscribe to Sky Stream as it bundles Netflix and apps for Amazon Prime, Apple TV+, BBC iPlayer, Disney+, YouTube, All4, Paramount+ and many more. This is timely, as app support for my Samsung JS9000 is coming to an end after 7 years. Currently, I have a PlayStation 5 (PS5) and Xbox Series S connected to it.

What do you think of Sky Stream? Are you tempted to subscribe? Does it spell the end of satellite television? Let me know in the comments below.

Monday, 26 September 2022

LEGO Star Wars Razor Crest revealed

This is the brick building way! Following months of speculation and a tease at LEGO CON 2022, LEGO has finally announced the Star Wars Razor Crest as its latest Ultimate Collector Series (UCS).

Cesar Soares, LEGO Designer, commented, “It was amazing to design The Mandalorian’s Razor Crest in brick form! I wanted it to be ultra-detailed so that every Star Wars and LEGO fan can enjoy discovering all the exciting features – from the carbon-freezing chamber to the escape pod. I know that fans of the Star Wars galaxy, builders and more will love recreating their favourite adventures from this extraordinary series".

The Razor Crest is Din Djarin’s personal transport and its iconic silhouette is immediately recognisable. Now in LEGO form, it joins other vehicles in the LEGO Star Wars UCS line-up, including the Luke Skywalker Landspeeder set and the Republic Gunship set.

LEGO Star Wars Razor Crest is available from LEGO AU, UK and US (affiliate links).

What do you think of the LEGO Star Wars Razor Crest set? Will you be adding it to your LEGO collection? Let me know in the comments below.

Sunday, 25 September 2022

Dungeons & Dragons toys from Hasbro

After taking a ride on a Dungeons & Dragons roller coaster at their local theme park, a group of kids are thrust into an unusual world and given magical weapons, which they must use to try and find their way home, ever-pursued by the evil villain Venger in Marvel Productions' classic cartoon series based on TSR's role-playing game.

The fan-favourite cartoon series was my gateway into Dungeons & Dragons (D&D) and I was gifted LJN's official action figures including Ogre King, Warduke and Zarak. From Fighting Fantasy to Knightmare, D&D was a pop culture phenomenon. Netflix's Stranger Things has ignited a renaissance in interest.

As part of Target's Fall Geek-Out, Hasbro surprised D&D fans (myself included) with the first wave of action figures based on the beloved series celebrating its 40th anniversary.

Hank, Bobby & Uni and Diana are kicking off the new line. The Target exclusive 2-pack featuring Dungeon Master & Venger soon sold out on Hasbro Pulse. However, I was lucky enough to pre-order.

What do you think of Hasbro's Dungeons & Dragons classic cartoon collection? Will you be collecting them? Let me know in the comments below.

Saturday, 24 September 2022

James Earl Jones retires from Star Wars

According to Vanity Fair, James Earl Jones is retiring as the voice of Darth Vader.

The legendary actor, aged 91, has voiced one of pop culture's greatest villains since the original Star Wars in 1977.

Jones' unmistakable baritone will continue to be heard in the Star Wars franchise. He's given Lucasfilm express permission to use his voice via Respeecher.

The Ukrainian-based company's technology was used in The Mandalorian, The Book of Boba Fett and most recently in the Obi-Wan Kenobi spin-off series.

Listening to Jones' iconic voice helped with my speech therapy following a life-changing head injury 45 years ago, and I will be eternally grateful.

Friday, 23 September 2022

LEGO Holiday Main Street

It's the autumn equinox in the northern hemisphere and the holidays are coming...

LEGO has announced this year's Winter Village set: Holiday Main Street.

Gather the family together and fill the room with holiday spirit as you create this highly detailed set. The LEGO Holiday Main Street includes two festive shops (with homes on the top floor), which are open-back to allow for easy access to the fun. The set also comes with four instruction booklets, making it perfect for building together.

This cosy build is packed with a host of exciting features, including a Christmas tree, a trolley car and a host of minifigures and gifts, perfect for getting younger members of the family involved.

LEGO Creative Lead Jamie Berard commented “The annual LEGO Winter Village sets are one of my all-time favorite holiday traditions. The Holiday Main Street brings together a whole downtown of activity and imagination into one set. Building as an individual or as a family, you’ll discover a model with all the hustle and bustle of a festive shopping street – complete with trolley, snow topped shops and children posting letters. I especially like the brick-built toys in the toy shop and the super-cute mini-Christmas tree in the upper apartment. They just make me smile.”

LEGO Holiday Main Street is available from LEGO AU, UK and US (affiliate links).

What do you think of the LEGO Holiday Main Street set? Are you a Winter Village collector? And are you planning to add it to your collection this holiday season? Let me know in the comments below.

Wednesday, 21 September 2022

Hulu’s Halloween Hellraiser

"What is it you pray for?" Hulu’s Halloween season includes a reboot of director Clive Barker’s body horror masterpiece, Hellraiser. Hulu has dropped an official trailer.

Read the official synopsis:

“In the all-new “Hellraiser,” a young woman struggling with addiction comes into possession of an ancient puzzle box, unaware that its purpose is to summon the Cenobites, a group of sadistic supernatural beings from another dimension.“

The upcoming reboot is directed by David Bruckner (V/H/S) and written by Ben Collins and Luke Piotrowski (The Night House) along with David S. Goyer (The Dark Knight Trilogy).

Hellraiser hits Hulu on 7th October. Whilst nothing has been officially announced, it will most likely appear elsewhere on Star on Disney+.

Are you looking forward to Hellraiser on Hulu? What are your memories of the original movie? Let me know in the comments below.

Sunday, 18 September 2022

Andor rebels this Wednesday

Andor, a gritty live-action Star Wars spin-off series set during the height of the Galactic Empire, begins this Wednesday on Disney+. Lucasfilm has dropped a special look.

Andor, created by Tony Gilroy, stars Diego Luna reprising the role of rebel spy Cassian Andor from Rogue One: A Star Wars Story in a tale set five years before the events of the film.

Experience the three-episode premiere exclusively on Disney+ on 21st September.

Excited for Andor on Disney+? Let me know in the comments below.

Saturday, 17 September 2022

Blade Runner 2099 greenlit by Amazon

Not content with making the most expensive streaming series ever made in the form of The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power (exclusively on Amazon Prime), Amazon Studios is producing a Blade Runner series set 50 years after Blade Runner 2049.

“We recognise that we have a very high bar to meet with this next instalment [sic],” Andrew Kosove and Broderick Johnson, co-CEOs and co-founders of Alcon, said in a statement. “Together with Silka and our partners at Amazon, and Scott Free Productions, we hope that we can live up to that standard and delight audiences with the next generation of Blade Runner.”

Amazon Studios’ head of global television, Vernon Sanders, says Sir Ridley Scott’s (Alien) original 1982 film is one of the greatest and most influential sci-fi movies of all time.

“We are honoured to be able to present this continuation of the Blade Runner franchise, and are confident that by teaming up with Ridley, Alcon Entertainment, Scott Free Productions and the remarkably talented Silka Luisa, Blade Runner 2099 will uphold the intellect, themes and spirit of its film predecessors,” Sanders said.

Personally, I loved Blade Runner 2049 as evidenced in my review of director Denis Villeneuve's (Dune) superlative sequel to Scott's Blade Runner. There were tears of joy in the rain.

Are you looking forward to Blade Runner 2099? Let me know in the comments below.