Thursday 31 May 2012

LOVEFiLM launches HD streaming

Yesterday @LOVEFiLM tweeted that it will start streaming in HD. This brings the Amazon-owned company on par with rival Netflix and is a welcome move. However, there is a fly in the ointment.

PS3 owners can't currently stream in HD and the maximum number of registered devices is still limited: Do I forgo a second games console for an iPad?

Here's the full press release:


LOVEFiLM, an Amazon company, today announced the launch of high-definition (HD) service, giving LOVEFiLM Instant members crystal clear viewing.

The HD functionality, available from today in the UK and Germany, will allow members of LOVEFiLM – Europe’s largest subscription service instantly streaming films and TV series over the internet and sending DVDs and games by post – to stream top quality films and TV series on demand and for no extra charge in HDTV resolutions up to 1080p.

LOVEFiLM members in the UK, using PC or Mac, will enjoy content in full 1080p high definition, while members using their Xbox 360 or Samsung and LG connected HDTVs will enjoy 720p resolution. In Germany, HD content will be available initially on PC and Mac in full 1080p high definition.

The catalogue of HD films available to LOVEFiLM members will expand over the coming weeks and months. In the UK titles will include teen sensation The Twilight Saga: Eclipse, family favourite Gnomeo and Juliet and British comedy Four Lions. Top US TV dramas including LOST and Ghost Whisperer will also be available alongside a whole host of British titles, including the BBC’s popular documentaries Human Planet and David Attenborough’s critically acclaimed Planet Earth.

Jim Buckle, MD of LOVEFiLM, commented: “LOVEFiLM is the number one consumer choice for subscription film and TV series streaming in Europe. The introduction of HD quality content further strengthens the offering and marks another key milestone in delivering our members the best possible service with exceptional value.”

Films and TV series available in HD will automatically stream with the improved quality where an internet connection can support it. For 720p streaming members will require a minimum internet connection of 4mbps, while those with connections of 12mbps or higher will enjoy full 1080p where possible.

LOVEFiLM offers thousands of on-demand films and TV series via LOVEFiLM Instant, together with the largest selection of DVD, Blu-ray and games with packages starting from as little as £4.99 per month.

What do you think of LOVEFiLM Instant HD streaming? Tried it out yet? Let me know in comments below...

Friday 25 May 2012

Celebrate Geek Pride Day with Kinect Star Wars

It's 35 years since Star Wars first graced the silver screen in the US... And to celebrate I'm giving away 2 copies of Kinect Star Wars to readers.

Nothing will get your inner geek going like the latest addition to the Star Wars repertoire: Kinect Star Wars, where you’re the Jedi. It’s the first controller-free Star Wars game, and you can drive, dance and defeat the enemy, all with your Kinect.

To be in with a chance of winning a copy of Kinect Star Wars, just answer this question:
Which droid contained the stolen Death Star plans?

A. C-3PO
B. R5-D4
C. R2-D2

Please post your answer in comments or on Twitter @johnhood using the hashtag #feeltheforce and join the movement.

The competition closes on Friday 8th June and is open to UK residents only.

If it’s too beautiful to stay inside, download the Kinect Star Wars mobile app, which is available for iOS, Android and Windows Phone devices.

Wednesday 16 May 2012

Wake up, John! It's Halo 4 Limited Edition

Halo 4 doesn't ship until this November. However, Microsoft and 343 Industries have officially announced an obligatory Limited Edition that includes the following mouthwatering extras:

War Games Map Pack Access – The Limited Edition includes access to nine maps – three future competitive multiplayer map packs, each including three locations, available for download post-launch on Xbox LIVE. (A detailed release schedule for the map packs will be announced at a later time)

Specialisations – Receive early access to six Specialisations, available at launch on Xbox LIVE, to achieve higher ranks in your Spartan career. In addition to gaining access to new ranks, Specialisations unlock new customisation options. Purchasers of the “Halo 4″ Limited Edition will get access on launch day, while others will have to wait as Specialisations are released over time.

The Limited Edition also contains the UNSC Infinity Briefing Packet, which includes an armour customisation schematic, a blueprint of the massive ship itself, and insight into what it means to be one of humanity’s finest warriors: the Spartan-IVs.

Bonus digital content through Xbox LIVE:

Unique in-game Spartan-IV armour skin. Unique in-game weapon skin for the Assault Rifle. An exclusive in-game emblem. Xbox LIVE Avatar prop. Xbox LIVE Avatar Spartan-IV armour set. “Halo 4: Forward Unto Dawn” Special Edition – An extended 90-minute version of the live-action digital series that will bring the “Halo” universe to life as you’ve never seen it, and provide an enthralling backstory leading up to the events of “Halo 4.”

Looks like 343 Industries is going for broke with this franchise reboot sans Bungie. Bungie split from Microsoft in 2007 and 343 Industries was established in-house to develop the Halo intellectual property. Halo 4 is the first instalment of a new trilogy that may crossover onto the next generation Xbox.

Are you looking forward to Halo 4 and the return of Master Chief?

Tuesday 15 May 2012

The Clone Wars scribe adapts The Phantom Menace

Does this Star Wars: Episode I in 3D tie-in revolutionise the way we read comic books? John Rivers pulls himself away from The Clone Wars to investigate!

Guest post by John Rivers

At some point around writing for the cartoon series versions of All Dogs Go to Heaven and Timon & Pumbaa, Henry Gilroy was handed the script to Star Wars Episode 1: The Phantom Menace. A decade on and Gilroy was lead writer on the highly successful series Star Wars: The Clone Wars. I mention this because while The Clone Wars is a brilliant foray into the expanded universe of the Wars, The Phantom Menace comic book is probably the most straightforward adaptation ever seen in comics.

To describe it as shot-for-shot would do Gus Van Sant’s bizarre experiment with Psycho an injustice, but this is as-near-as-dammit a copy of the movie as you could own outside of the DVD. Occasionally you are offered a tantalising glimpse of dialogue excised from the final edit of Episode 1, but other than that, it’s absolutely precise.

Not one character has a thought in the whole piece, never once is a thought-bubble deployed. Admittedly Gilroy must have been under strict instructions to follow the script as closely as possible and not deviate from it. This presents problems in the latter half of the book, when he slavishly has to keep flicking between the ground assault on Naboo, Anakin piloting the fighter and the Darth Maul smackdown.

The artwork is detailed but again lifted straight from the movie and lacks any of the imagination afforded the Manga version or the fantastic licence of the early Marvel work. As an adaptation it is entirely faithful, as a comic it has all the structural and dialogue challenges of the first episode.

I would love to see a freer interpretation of the first episode, reinvented in the same way superheroes have been done many times over. Imagine a Phantom Menace where Jar Jar is a Gungan War Lord, Qui-Gon is a broken, elderly wizard and Anakin is a girl. The possibilities are endless. Maybe that is to come and it would be great to see these interpretations in comic form, like the acclaimed Star Wars Tales or Infinities series.

Only one to consider getting if you’re a completist!

Follow @johnrivers
Photo courtesy @richardmackney

Monday 14 May 2012

Star Wars creator to offer low-income housing

Heralded by some critics as the best thing George Lucas has done in years (after re-writing our collective childhood with those prequels).

The creator of Star Wars has shelved controversial plans to build a movie-making dream factory on the grounds of Grady Ranch, Marin County, and is offering the free space for low-income housing.

"The level of bitterness and anger expressed by the homeowners in Lucas Valley has convinced us that, even if we were to spend more time and acquire the necessary approvals, we would not be able to maintain a constructive relationship with our neighbours," Lucasfilm said in a statement.

Perhaps Obi-Wan Kenobi had some say in this laudable decision? Whatever! Many happy returns of the day, George!

Wednesday 9 May 2012

Prometheus 'Rated R' for Ridley

After months of intense speculation and an international trailer that appears to feature an imploding face. Twentieth Century Fox has confirmed that Sir Ridley Scott's 'Alien for generation Xbox' (#areyouseeingthis) will garner an R rating in the US and 15 certificate in the UK!

How excited are you to see Prometheus uncut in June?

Tuesday 1 May 2012

Darth Across America

Julie Schuchard, a San Francisco-based portrait photographer and fellow Star Wars fan, has let me know that she's embarking on a road trip across America with a Darth Vader mask...

"The Darth Vader theme unites us nostalgically, and the mask allows us the anonymity to be expressive in front of the camera in a new way. With the landscape of America as a backdrop, this series will bring together all the things I love about being a photographer and using art to unite and connect people from all walks of life."

Julie will be documenting her travels here:

For further details and to donate, please visit here.