Monday, 6 July 2020

The Boys are back in town this September!



The Boys, Amazon Prime's darkly satirical superhero series adaptation comparing favourably with Watchmen, returns for a second season this September.

Amazon has released a first look clip introducing Stormfront played by Aya Cash. "I think Stormfront is like a nuclear bomb that goes off in the Seven," Cash previously said of the character. "Maybe nuclear bomb isn’t the right word. We’re in Chernobyl. There you go. It’s a Chernobyl thing. I think she’s here to blow up Vought. She’s here to try to get Vought back to the original idea behind creating superheroes... And she can be quite the feminist. There’s a lot of, I wouldn’t say misdirect, but she also is a very empowered woman."



Following the death of Translucent (Alex Hassell) in season one, Stormfront will challenge Homelander (Antony Starr) for leadership of the superhero group Seven.

The Boys' second season three-episode premiere is 4th September. The first season is streaming now on Amazon Prime (affiliate link).

Friday, 3 July 2020

Fallout from Westworld creators



The Last of Us isn't the only video game franchise getting a live-action adaptation and The Witcher is already on Netflix.

Amazon Studios has ordered Bethesda's Fallout from the showrunners of Westworld.

“Fallout is one of the greatest game series of all time,” Lisa Joy and Jonathan Nolan told The Hollywood Reporter (THR). “Each chapter of this insanely imaginative story has cost us countless hours we could have spent with family and friends. We’re incredibly excited to partner with Todd Howard and the rest of the brilliant lunatics at Bethesda to bring this massive, subversive, and darkly funny universe to life with Amazon Studios."

"Fallout is an iconic global franchise, with legions of fans worldwide and a rich, deeply compelling storyline that powers it. And Jonah and Lisa are the perfect storytellers to bring this series to life,” said Albert Cheng, COO and co-head of television at Amazon Studios. “We’re thrilled to join with Bethesda to bring Fallout to television.”

Unlike Fallout 76, this is a spin-off I can get behind. What do you think? Let me know in the comments below.

Thursday, 2 July 2020

Captain Marvel's Brie Larson joins YouTube



Brie Larson, who plays the titular Captain Marvel in the MCU, has launched her own YouTube channel in the midst of the global coronavirus pandemic and was ably assisted by YouTubers including iJustine AKA Justine Ezarik.

"YouTube has been a place that I've learned so much, whether it's been like how to use my printer, or it's been watching like how to be a considerate activist, this is like the place to talk about things that are important and that matter," Larson said. "It doesn't mean that there also isn't silly content. That there are ways to express myself personally, but there will also be deep conversations, anti-racist rhetoric, inclusive content. So with all that said, the following video is just me getting warmed up and feeling this out and getting to talk to a lot of really brilliant creators."



In related news. Larson is purportedly set to play Mara Jade, a Star Wars Legends character who married Luke Skywalker, in Kevin Feige's untitled Star Wars movie.

Larson's personal YouTube channel promises to bring some sunshine into our lives and much-needed distraction from the 'new normal'. A lifelong Nintendo fan, I wonder if she also plays Animal Crossing?

Wednesday, 1 July 2020

Retro Games reimagines the Commodore VIC-20



Retro Games, the company behind The C64 (affiliate link) and The C64 Mini (affiliate link), is expanding its successful 8-bit home computer line to include the Commodore VIC-20, which was the predecessor to the Commodore 64 and sold over one million units.

"We are really excited to bring you even more of the most loved retro games ever on two of the most iconic home computers of all time, combined in this latest incarnation of The C64 range - this time with full working keyboard and a classic VIC-20 style," said Retro Games' managing director, Paul Andrews.

William Shatner, best known for his role as Star Trek's Captain Kirk, featured in a memorable television commercial introducing the 'wonder computer' of the 1980s.



Whilst I didn't own a VIC-20, opting for the Sinclair ZX Spectrum 48K and then Commodore 64, a few school friends did and we would play popular video games such as Gridrunner and Laser Zone, 8-bit classics by Jeff Minter of Llamasoft fame.

The VIC-20 (affiliate link) includes 64 built-in games from the VIC-20 and Commodore 64 back catalogue and is released 23rd October for £109.99. Koch Media is distributing and I hope to bring you a review in the future.

Sunday, 28 June 2020

Normal People confess sins to Fleabag’s Hot Priest



Daisy Edgar-Jones and Paul Mescal reprise their roles of Marianne and Connell respectively from Normal People opposite Andrew Scott’s Hot Priest (Fleabag) for RTE Does Comic Relief.

“I feel like I’m causing pain to the person that I love,” Connell reveals to the priest. “I’m just really torn. You know, the physical side of things is great, that’s always been so powerful. It's when I try to talk, you know, when I try to express what I’m feeling at the time that’s when things get confused.”



The skit, recorded socially distanced due to coronavirus, has become a huge hit with fans (myself included) of Normal People and Fleabag.

Saturday, 27 June 2020

The Last of Us Part 2 surpasses Spider-Man sales



The Last of Us Part II has eclipsed Marvel's Spider-Man to become the fastest-selling PlayStation exclusive in Sony's history with more than 4 million copies sold worldwide.

"The Last of Us Part 2 represents large scale innovation in gaming with a great blend of excellent gameplay mechanics and masterful storytelling," Eric Lempel, senior vice president of worldwide marketing for Sony PlayStation, said in a statement. "We strive to bring you unique, engaging experiences."

Neil Druckmann, vice president of Naughty Dog and director of The Last of Us Part II said:

“We are so immensely grateful to the millions of fans around the world that have played The Last of Us Part II and shared their experiences with us over the last week. We set out to tell a new kind of story, one that deals with difficult themes and would challenge you in unexpected ways. Hearing how the experience has resonated with so many of you and witnessing the type of thoughtful discussions it has sparked has been so incredible. We’ve also been so inspired by your creativity – whether it’s your gorgeous Photo Mode shots, jaw-dropping gameplay GIFs, or the songs you’ve recorded using Ellie’s guitar.

The Last of Us Part II was made possible thanks to the efforts of the hundreds of talented and passionate developers here at Naughty Dog. We can imagine no greater honour than seeing that same passion mirrored by the people playing it. Thank you for helping us reach this amazing milestone.”

Not only is The Last of Us Part II one of the greatest video game sequels ever made, Ellie is an openly gay female protagonist and I, for one, can't wait for HBO's live-action adaptation.

Friday, 26 June 2020

Cyberpunk 2077 trailer channels Blade Runner



CD Projekt Red has released an official trailer for Cyberpunk 2077. The long-awaited role-playing video game adaptation has been delayed until November. Positive comparisons with Grand Theft Auto (GTA) and Blade Runner franchises are inescapable.



New gameplay footage was revealed, showcasing extensive character customisation options (a staple of RPGs), alongside unanimously rave reactions from hands-on impressions.



As part of yesterday's Cyberpunk 2077 - Night City Wire event, an anime series tie-in from Netflix was announced for 2022.

"Wherever there are nerds, there's gonna be anime fans," Saya Elder, a Japan-based producer on the show, says in a preview video. "When we began this project, we were certain that we didn't want to make a recreation of the game," she adds. "Cyberpunk: Edgerunners is a standalone story set in the same universe. The stage is still Night City, but everything else is totally new: new characters, new story."

The developer behind The Witcher 3 has, justifiably, garnered goodwill from the gaming community for consumer-friendly practises. So, I've pre-ordered Cyberpunk 2077 digitally for Xbox One X. The upcoming title is optimised for Xbox Series X at no additional cost.

Cyberpunk 2077 is available for pre-order (affiliate link).

Thursday, 25 June 2020

Three Doctors unite on HBO Max



Every season of Doctor Who since 2005 is now available exclusively on HBO Max. To celebrate, 3 Doctors, played by David Tennant, Matt Smith and Jodie Whittaker, are reunited on Zoom with IGN's Terri Schwartz moderating the online panel.



“‘Doctor Who’ is one of television’s all-time, most beloved series, on both sides of the pond, and we are happy to be the exclusive streaming stewards for this BBC gem,” said Kevin Reilly, chief content officer at HBO Max and president of TNT, TBS, and truTV. “Another series to further define the high-quality content experience consumers can expect from HBO Max.”

Are you excited Doctor Who is on HBO Max? Let me know in the comments below.

Tuesday, 23 June 2020

Foundation teased for Apple TV+



A free 12-month Apple TV+ subscription, included with a recent iPhone SE purchase, couldn't have come at a better time. Not only has Fraggle Rock been rebooted, but next year a lavish adaptation of Isaac Asimov's Foundation series is coming to the Cupertino-based company's streaming service.

During yesterday's Worldwide Developer Conference (WWDC), Apple released a first look at Foundation with David S. Goyer (The Dark Knight Trilogy).



My earliest memory of reading Foundation was whilst on a school summer holiday in Spain. The prose were beyond my adolescent years, but I quickly deciphered how it had influenced popular sci-fi culture including George Lucas' Star Wars.

“Foundation was an enormous influence for Star Wars,” Goyer says. “It was the greatest science fiction work of all time. The scope is sprawling. It unfolds over the course of 1,000 years.”

Sunday, 21 June 2020

Normal People triumphs in the ‘new normal’



When we went into lockdown in March due to the coronavirus pandemic, Fox's Anglo-French adaptation (I use the term very loosely) of War of the Worlds had already started. It was certainly no seminal sci-fi mini-series (read Andrew Lewin's review here), but I stoically stuck with it unlike the much-maligned BBC adaptation which wasn't helped by being scheduled after BBC/HBO's phenomenal His Dark Materials in the run-up to last Christmas - seemingly several lifetimes ago in the wake of our shared trauma.

Daisy Edgar-Jones played Emily Gresham who regained her eyesight whenever near an alien invader. For a while, War of the Worlds was a fun post-apocalyptic romp in the style of The Walking Dead until it became abundantly clear we weren’t going to see any tripods! Le sigh!

The later episodes washed over me in a comfortingly forgettable fashion given the emergent coronavirus crisis and the knowledge that, like so many, I would need to shield due to disability and asthma. Seeing family and friends would be reserved for social media, FaceTime and fond memories for the foreseeable future.



So, when Normal People, a BBC co-production with Hulu, started streaming on BBC iPlayer with considerable fanfare, I didn't appreciate it was the actress from War of the Worlds, playing Marianne opposite newcomer Paul Mescal's Connell, until a few episodes into this astonishing adaptation of Sally Rooney's award-winning book about millennials.

Amidst the modern day trappings of 24/7 digital connectedness and iPhones (I belatedly jumped onto the bandwagon with the new SE), Edgar-Jones and Mescal’s performances harken back to the silent era in this bittersweet examination of first love imbued with bokeh beauty. The brittleness of their on-off relationship distilled in lush, aching, glances. The leads inhabit their roles from divergent worlds so absolutely; a former college lecturer and family friend suggested I should never read the book; wise words.



The series, directed by Lenny Abrahamson (Room) and Hettie Macdonald, triggered a multiplicity of marvellous and malignant memories from high school, college and university. Cognisant of the, crushingly, inescapable notion of imposter syndrome haunting so many of us throughout our lives.

How I yearned for a place at drama school as I tackled, with the support of family and NHS healthcare professionals, the challenging aftermath of a traumatic life-changing head injury. Finding myself mocked and ridiculed for being the only school student with a visible disability who had romantic crushes like everyone else.

Alas, there was no TARDIS, X-wing or Batmobile (Edgar-Jones reminds me of Anne Hathaway who played Catwoman in The Dark Knight Trilogy) in which to escape beyond the metaphorical. That said, I'll be forever grateful to my late mum for fighting to secure a return to mainstream school and this facilitated further disabled students' entry (where appropriate). Pathfinding is never easy as history attests.

It would be disingenuous not to suggest that I've always found making friends easy, but within the context of being disabled and, by extension, oftentimes discriminated against, each new encounter felt like another tiresome battle of wits to justify one's existence. None of this is in anyway unique to me, and I hope it doesn't detract from sharing my enjoyment of Normal People by becoming a worthless exercise in self-indulgence.



The creative arts gave me sanctuary and college was a second chance at an education stifled by systemic streaming and the need for years of rehabilitation. So much so, I was afforded the privilege of unconditional offers on several art courses at degree level. A far cry from what a career tutor prophesied in the final year of high school; having tried to sabotage a college application; an abject lesson in how not to inspire pupils.

The lecture scenes in Normal People resonated. This Gen Xer was transported back to English Literature class and debating the subtext of H.G. Wells' The War of the Worlds, a critique of British imperialism (infesting our current political discourse), which is where this journey of introspection began.

Like pop cultural touchstones The Wonder Years and My So-Called Life, Normal People is one of the most deeply affecting rites of passage in any medium. The fates of its charismatic characters will haunt you long after the end credits have rolled.