Wednesday 28 December 2016

"So long, Princess!"

Actress Carrie Fisher, most famous for playing Princess Leia in the Star Wars saga, suffered a serious heart attack aboard a flight from London to Los Angeles last week. Passengers attempted to revive her with CPR and she was taken to hospital after the plane landed.

Sadly Carrie Fisher succumbed to her injuries and died yesterday. She was 60.

I couldn't let this pass without comment during the festive season break.

My first, and greatest, silver screen crush. Vivid memory, post discharge from children's hospital, of asking my late mum if 'Princess Leia' would wait for me to grow up? Doubtlessly, I wasn't unique in that, but for a 5-year old, who had survived a life-changing trauma, it was a big deal. My younger self never imagined actually meeting her; let alone getting a kiss. Star Wars Celebration Europe will be fondly remembered. Always.

Coincidentally, I visited mum's memorial yesterday and she introduced me to Star Wars. The connective tissue of hope...

Star Wars ignited a lifelong passion for film, giving me a framework within which to make sense of feeling intense isolation in the wake of a childhood trauma, and the inspiration behind the inception of this blog.

Thank you and RIP Carrie Fisher. xx

How did Carrie Fisher and Star Wars impact your life? Let me know in the comments below.

Monday 19 December 2016

Fans flock to see Rogue One: A Star Wars Story

The experiment worked! The first Star Wars standalone movie is a critical and commercial success.

Rogue One: A Star Wars Story took $155 million at the US box office in its opening weekend, but falls short of The Force Awakens' $248 million domestic debut. Worldwide takings are $290.5 million and, with the festive season fully underway, that's only going to increase as more fans and cinema goers flock to multiplexes around the world.

Director Gareth Edwards' instalment is a dark chapter in the franchise and there's a high body count. Paul Dergarabedian, an analyst with comScore, said the film lived up to expectations.

Based on the success of Rogue One and The Force Awakens, he said: "The next film in the Star Wars saga has the potential to claim the title as the biggest movie of all time."

Star Wars will be an annual festive tradition for years to come. Well, until at least 2020.

May I wish all my readers a fantastic festive period, whatever you may be doing, and all the best for the New Year! Thank you for all your comments. I'm off to see Rogue One, again, and hope you all find Star Wars goodies under the Christmas tree.

See you in 2017 for the 40th Anniversary of Star Wars' release in the US and Rian Johnson's Episode VIII.

Saturday 17 December 2016

Rogue One is the Star Wars prequel you're looking for

Director Gareth Edwards' Star Wars spin-off movie is about the Death Star and by the end I'd concluded Rogue One: A Star Wars Story is the best Star Wars movie since the original trilogy.

Not too shabby in the wake of JJ Abrams' joyous reboot: The Force Awakens. But, this is the expanded Star Wars universe I always imagined between episodes of the original trilogy, and in the pages of Dark Horse Comics in the 1990s...

Spoilers ahoy and I urge fellow fans to see the movie first. Otherwise it's tantamount to opening your presents before Christmas.

This film is for the fans from a fan and it's dark; The Empire Strikes Back dark. Edwards and cohorts put the war into Star Wars and assemble a brutal, heartbreaking, adventure with no happy ending for the adorable misfits lead by Jyn Erso (Felicity Jones). A generation of children will be as traumatised as I was watching the final episode of Blake's 7 in 1981.

Felicity Jones is an engaging lead and Jyn Erso's story arc mirrors Ellen Ripley and Sarah Connor. And I knew we were in for something sinister with Rogue One when Cassian Andor (Diego Luna) shot a Rebel informant in the back. These Rebels operate in world of grey.

K-2SO (Alan Tudyk) deserves special mention. The last time I wept over a machine's demise was Terminator 2: Judgment Day. Alan Tudyk delivers a tour de force erasing all memories of Jar Jar Binks in George Lucas' prequels.

The late Peter Cushing is digitally resurrected as Grand Moff Tarkin. The uncanny valley takes no prisoners. However, Tarkin had to be a commanding presence and the miracle workers at ILM came close to accomplishing the impossible and surpassed young Tony Stark in Captain America: Civil War.

Then there's the return of Darth Vader. Magisterial and menacing. The first shot of Mustafar's lava flows sent chills down my spine and the Sith Lord's introduction, submerged in a bacta tank, was nightmarish and chillingly foreshadows the horrors unleashed at the movie's audacious and claustrophobic climax in the wake of the best space battle since the original trilogy: a fitting epitaph to the late conceptual artist Ralph McQuarrie.

The first hour or so gives no indication of the spectacular third act to come and there's a cohesive vision that belies the extensive summer reshoots. It's as if Edwards ripped up the Hollywood rule book and his movie takes Star Wars to the nth degree and into A New Hope.

This maybe the closest we'll ever get to a Steven Spielberg directed franchise instalment. Edwards deftly mixes The Dirty Dozen, Saving Private Ryan and Apocalypse Now. In fact Rogue One is replete with filmic references to delight all cinephiles.

The nod to the Journal of the Whills and countless Easter Eggs will give diehard fans a frisson of excitement lacking in the prequels. Hollywood composer Michael Giacchino, parachuted late into the production when Alexandre Desplat had to back out, interweaves John Williams' iconic soundtrack with his usual aplomb.

Kyber crystals power the Death Star's reactors and lightsabers. So, I couldn't help recalling Splinter of the Mind's Eye, a novelisation written by Alan Dean Foster, which shares Rogue One's genesis as a story originally intended for a live-action Star Wars television series.

Connected universes are de rigeur and Star Wars surpasses stablemate Marvel in this regard. The Clone Wars' Saw Gerrera (Forest Whitaker), who shaped Jyn Erso's formative years after her father, Galen Erso (Mads Mikkelsen), was forced to serve the Empire, against his will, by an overreaching Director Krennic (Ben Mendelsohn), will appear in the current season of Star Wars Rebels. The Disney XD series predates events in Rogue One.

The only fly in the ointment was the lack of an opening crawl. Rogue One, whilst boasting the most beautiful reveal in the saga's history, deserved more and I hope Disney rethinks this strategy for the upcoming Han Solo spin-off and beyond.

The Force is strong with this one and it bodes well for future Star Wars spin-offs.

Thursday 15 December 2016

Stormtroopers invade Canary Wharf for Rogue One

Rogue One: A Star Wars Story opened in UK cinemas at midnight.

To celebrate the release of the first Star Wars spin-off movie, Stormtroopers, from the 501st UK Garrison and Rebel Legion Elstree Base, descended on London's commuter hotspots including Canary Wharf. Canary Wharf is one of the locations used in the filming of Rogue One.

Incidentally, I met the Imperial Officer (pictured) at Star Wars Celebration Europe and he instructed a phalanx of Stormtroopers to salute me as they patrolled the ExCeL London last July. Happy days!

Wednesday 14 December 2016

Star Wars creator George Lucas loves Rogue One

The review embargo for Rogue One: A Star Wars Story lifted yesterday. However, director Gareth Edwards is most interested in the reaction of George Lucas, the creator of Star Wars, to his spin-off movie that dovetails into A New Hope. The verdict? “He loved it.”

“We got to show George the movie... and I don’t want to put words into his mouth, but I can honestly say that I can die happy now," said Gareth Edwards. "He really liked the movie. It meant a lot.”

“It was the most important review to me,” Edwards added. “He’s kind of God... I will take that conversation to my grave. His opinion means the world to me.”

Critical reaction is overwhelmingly positive with some reviewers suggesting Rogue One surpasses JJ Abrams' The Force Awakens and draws worthy comparison to The Empire Strikes Back. I'm seeing the movie this Friday and a review will follow soon thereafter.

Friday 9 December 2016

Spider-Man goes rogue in Homecoming

Tom Holland's scene-stealing cameo as Spider-Man in Captain America: Civil War reinvigorated Spidey's silver screen persona in the wake of the middling The Amazing Spider-Man 2. Most importantly, it brought Peter Parker into the Marvel Cinematic Universe as part of a deal between Disney and Sony.

Next summer the rebooted Spider-Man franchise debuts, in theatres, with Spider-Man ignoring Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr.) when he goes into battle with Michael Keaton's Vulture.

Marvel Studios released an official trailer for the upcoming Spider-Man: Homecoming movie during Jimmy Kimmel Live!

It appears a stale origin story has been ditched in favour of dropping the teenaged webslinger directly into action in his quest to become a member of the Avengers.

Excited for Spider-Man: Homecoming? Let me know in the comments below.

Thursday 8 December 2016

Rogue One Chinese trailer focuses on Baze and Chirrut

Lucasfilm has unleashed a new official trailer for Rogue One: A Star Wars Story. Directly aimed at the Chinese market and focussing on new characters Baze Malbus and Chirrut Îmwe.

“I’ve been recruiting for the Rebellion,” Diego Luna’s Rebel officer Cassian Andor says in a voiceover. “Spies, saboteurs, assassins,” before cutting to a scene of a platoon of stormtroopers surrounding Chirrut on Jedha. “He’s blind,” says one of them before they’re all taken out by the Force-loving monk with a little help from his big gun-toting friend.

“You almost shot me!” Chirrut says. “You’re welcome,” Baze responds.

The Force Awakens met with a lukewarm reception in China. So, Disney will be keen to garner greater success in the Chinese market with Rogue One.

The upcoming Star Wars spin-off, released next week, follows the Rebellion as it embarks on a perilous mission to steal the Death Star plans.

Sunday 4 December 2016

Lucasfilm screens 28 minutes of Rogue One

With less than two weeks to go until Rogue One: A Star Wars Story is released in theatres. Journalists (alas, not me) were invited to a press junket at Lucasfilm.

Disney didn't impose an embargo. The journalists' spoiler-free reactions on social media, to the 28 minutes of screened footage, have been positive with praise given to the action, scope and K-S2O. Many dismissed the incessant focus on summer reshoots citing Rogue One looks spectacular and opens with a breathtaking jolt.

Someone, who has purportedly seen an edit of Rogue One, said the Star Wars spin-off was their third favourite entry in the blockbusting franchise, following The Empire Strikes Back and A New Hope. If that's the widespread reaction after 14th December...

Be sure to subscribe for more coverage of Star Wars and Rogue One.

Thursday 24 November 2016

Star Wars' future to be decided in January

With the release of Rogue One: A Star Wars Story less than 3 weeks away, speculation surrounds whether or not the Star Wars franchise will switch to standalone movies following the conclusion of the sequel trilogy in 2019.

Speaking to Entertainment Weekly Lucasfilm President Kathleen Kennedy said: “There are [possible movies] that we have been talking a lot about. But we are planning to sit down in January, since we will have had The Force Awakens released, now Rogue One, and we’ve finished shooting Episode VIII.

“We have enough information where we can step back a little bit and say, What are we doing? What do we feel is exciting? And what are some of the things we want to explore?”

Hollywood composer Michael Giacchino, who replaced Alexandre Desplat on Rogue One, talked to Entertainment Weekly about his approach to orchestrating the upcoming standalone Star Wars movie directed by Gareth Edwards.

"It is a film that is in many ways a really great World War II movie, and I loved that about it. But it also has this huge, huge heart at the center of it, and that was the one thing I just didn’t want to discount. Yes, it’s an action movie, and it’s a Star Wars film, and it has all the things that you would come to expect and love about that, but I didn’t want to forget that it was also an incredibly emotional movie as well. That was what really pulled me in. I love working on projects that have an emotional center to them – and not manufactured emotion either, even though, you know, [laughs] it’s a weird thing to say because literally that’s all we’re doing, manufacturing emotion."

This maybe a standalone movie, but there'll be familiar orchestral themes:

"It does borrow from traditions that both John [Williams] and George Lucas borrowed from when they made the original Star Wars, you know. George was looking at Flash Gordon, the old serials, and John was looking at [Gustav] Holst and different composers along the way to get a baseline for what he wanted to communicate. There is a wonderful musical language that John put together for the original films. I wanted to honor that vernacular but still do something new with it, something that was still me in a way."

Would you like to see the Skywalker saga concluded with 9 movies as franchise creator George Lucas originally intended? Let me know in the comments below.

May I take this opportunity to wish US readers a happy Thanksgiving!

Monday 21 November 2016

Rogue One tickets go on sale with 'Dream' TV Spot

Despite a lifelong passion for film, I'm not one to bother with booking cinema tickets at midnight. However, the Star Wars franchise is a very rare exception to that rule and, as with The Force Awakens last December, I've booked tickets for a matinee showing on Friday 16th December.

Booking tickets for Rogue One: A Star Wars Story at midnight was, inevitably, an adventure unto itself. Vue cinemas' website strained under the power of the Force, as avid fans tried to get into the virtual queue early. However, a kindly soul, on Twitter, suggested using Quick Book, and tickets were safely secured.

As per last year, I'll be enforcing a social media blackout from 14th December until after seeing Jyn Erso (Felicity Jones), with the aid of her rebel friends, steal the Death Star plans in Disney's prequel to the original Star Wars trilogy. Yes, the spin-off movie directly dovetails into A New Hope.

To coincide with the sale of tickets, Lucasfilm has dropped a new TV Spot. Director Gareth Edwards' movie has a gritty tone and desperate dynamism. An allegory for these times.

Saturday 19 November 2016

Game of Thrones' Emilia Clarke joins Star Wars spin-off

Emilia Clarke, best known for her role as Daenerys, the Mother of Dragons, in Game of Thrones, joins the cast of the untitled Han Solo Star Wars spin-off movie directed by Phil Lord and Christopher Miller (The LEGO Movie).

Clarke stars alongside Alden Ehrenreich and Donald Glover, who play Han Solo and Lando Calrissian, respectively. Rumours suggest she'll be Han Solo's wife before the smuggler met Princess Leia aboard the Death Star.

Like Rogue One, which is released this December, the next Star Wars spin-off will be set prior to events in A New Hope.

The Han Solo movie begins shooting in January and is slated for release in May 2018.

Wednesday 16 November 2016

Survival writer returns to Doctor Who

Doctor Who Magazine has confirmed Rona Munro, writer of Survival, the final story of Doctor Who to air before the series' 16-year hiatus (TV Movie notwithstanding), reprises her role in series 10.

Munro has written episode 9, which includes guest stars Rebecca Benson (Shetland), Daniel Kerr (4 O’Clock Club), Juwon Adedokun (Damilola, Our Loved Boy), Brian Vernel (The Last Kingdom), Ben Hunter, Aaron Phagura (HIM), Sam Adewunmi (The Missing) and Billy Matthews (The Hollow Crown).

Earlier this week The Mirror ran a story suggesting Chris Chibnall, incoming series showrunner, wants a 'clean slate' for series 11 in 2018.

Survival is available to own on BBC DVD.

Tuesday 15 November 2016

Eddie Redmayne wants to play Doctor Who

Eddie Redmayne told BBC Radio 1 that he'd be open to taking on the role of Doctor Who amidst speculation Peter Capaldi would exit the popular television drama, alongside series showrunner Steven Moffat, in 2017.

“Would I do it? Yeah! It’s a great show", he said. "I do see the resemblance. I see the scarf, I see the coat, I see the bow tie. [...] I’m also a huge fan of those actors, I love Matt Smith. I suppose the briefcase [in Fantastic Beasts And Where To Find Them] has a TARDIS vibe to it – so yeah!”

Redmayne did add a caveat: “It looks like a lot of work. I’ve spoken to Matt [Smith] and those schedules are pretty rigorous. Maybe when I’m 73!”

Eddie Redmayne's co-star in The Theory of Everything, Felicity Jones, has already appeared in Doctor Who as Robina Redmond in the David Tennant serial The Unicorn and the Wasp.

Do you think Eddie Redmayne looks the part? Let me know in the comments below.

Monday 14 November 2016

Broadchurch writer wants 'clean slate' for Doctor Who

Doctor Who recently returned to television screens in spin-off series Class and will be seen next during a Children in Need special on BBC One this Friday.

Steven Moffat ends his tenure as series showrunner with the Christmas special in 2017. The Mirror reports his successor, Chris Chibnall, wants a clean slate and a return to David Tennant and Matt Smith eras with a younger Doctor and companion at the helm of the TARDIS controls.

This doesn't bode well for new companion Pearl Mackie (Bill), who joins Peter Capaldi aboard the TARDIS next spring. Presumably, she'll leave, along with Capaldi, during the Christmas special.

Merchandise sales have dipped since Capaldi took over from Matt Smith. Smith has recently received plaudits for his portrayal of Prince Philip in Netflix's lavish £100 million series The Crown, which is currently streaming on the service. And it would be remiss to overlook former companion Jenna Coleman's successful depiction of Victoria for ITV.

Chibnall's writing team will work in parallel with Moffat's for a seamless handover. This is all speculation, but a series reboot sounds increasingly likely.

Would you like to see a clean sweep? Let me know in the comments below.

Thursday 10 November 2016

Rogue One international trailer has more Darth Vader

With just over a month to go, Disney's dropped a new international trailer for Rogue One: A Star Wars Story that unleashes the destructive power of the dreaded Death Star!

Darth Vader enters the fray as Jyn Erso assembles her band of rebels and is that a Kyber crystal? There's a suggestion someone maybe Force-sensitive and a confrontation between Jyn and Vader seems inevitable.

Hollywood composer Michael Giacchino is orchestrating the soundtrack before returning to the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) with Spider-Man: Homecoming.

Director Gareth Edwards' Star Wars spin-off opens in theatres 16th December.

Tuesday 1 November 2016

Duracell Star Wars commercial spreads holiday cheer!

R2-D2 was the first Star Wars action figure gifted to me after being discharged from children's hospital in the winter of 1977. Duracell's latest tie-in with the Star Wars franchise evokes cherished childhood memories with its premise to help raise funds for Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals, in the US, this holiday season.

"We wanted to continue our partnership with Star Wars this year and continue celebrating the power that imaginative play has on kids," Duracell marketing director Ramon Velutini told Adweek. "We came across the most incredible insight: Kids at hospitals continue to act as kids even during tough circumstances, and imaginative play plays a big role in their ability to cope during their healing process."

He adds: "We got the use of a newly opened hospital wing that had yet to be put to use. The exteriors were shot outside of a disused train factory, and all of the Star Wars costumes and gear were flown in separately by Lucasfilm."

The commercial suggests R2-D2 may cameo in the upcoming standalone Star Wars movie.

Rogue One: A Star Wars Story hits theatres 16th December.

Monday 31 October 2016

It’s a Stranger Things Christmas, Charlie Brown

It's Halloween! So, here's an adorable animated short that mashes Stranger Things and Peanuts. Two great tastes that taste great together.

The voice-over work is on point and there's spoilers for those who haven't seen Netflix's ode to Hollywood cinema of the 1980s.

Saturday 22 October 2016

Donald Glover cast as Lando Calrissian in Star Wars

Billy Dee Williams portrayed iconic scoundrel Lando Calrissian in the original Star Wars trilogy and most recently Star Wars Rebels. Now Donald Glover will play the beloved character in an upcoming Han Solo Star Wars spin-off movie directed by Phil Lord and Christopher Miller (The LEGO Movie).

Glover will join Alden Ehrenreich - previously cast as the young Han Solo - in an adventure set before A New Hope. Incidentally, rumours persists Ehrenreich will first appear in Gareth Edwards' Rogue One: A Star Wars Story this December.

Details are scant, but fans should expect to see Solo and Calrissian in their formative years as the galaxy is plunged into turmoil with the fall of the Republic and rise of the Empire.

“We’re so lucky to have an artist as talented as Donald join us,” said Lord and Miller. “These are big shoes to fill, and an even bigger cape, and this one fits him perfectly, which will save us money on alterations. Also, we’d like to publicly apologize to Donald for ruining Comic-Con for him forever.”

Donald Glover appeared in The Martian, directed by Ridley Scott, and will be seen in Spider-Man: Homecoming in 2017.

The untitled Han Solo movie is scheduled to be released in 2018.

Friday 14 October 2016

The Power of the Daleks to conquer cinemas in the US

US-based Doctor Who fans are in for a cinematic treat when the Doctor and the Daleks return to the big screen in lost classic The Power of the Daleks this November.

The Power of the Daleks is one of the most celebrated Doctor Who adventures, and yet no complete film recordings are known to have survived. The master negatives were destroyed in an archive purge in 1974. This brand-new animation, being released 50 years after its only UK broadcast, is based on the program’s original audio recordings, surviving photographs, and film clips. The six-part adventure features the regeneration – or as it was then called “renewal” – of First Doctor, William Hartnell, into Second Doctor, Patrick Troughton, and follows the Time Lord and his companions Polly (Anneke Wills) and Ben (Michael Craze) as they do battle with the Daleks on the planet Vulcan.

“Ahead of the premiere on BBC America we wanted to give fans a chance to watch this unique content on the big screen. It is a rare treat to be able to bring the lost episode, Power of the Daleks, to life using modern animation techniques. Doctor Who cinema events have been incredibly successful, and this is extraordinary opportunity to allow a new generation of fans the opportunity to experience this classic adventure for the first time,” said Soumya Sriraman, EVP, Franchise and Digital Enterprise, BBC Worldwide North America.

“We’re pleased to continue our long-standing and successful partnership with BBC America to bring more fantastic Doctor Who content to the big screen,” said Fathom Events Vice President of Programming Kymberli Frueh. “The Whovians are always one of our biggest and most passionate group of fans at the cinemas.”

Tickets for The Power of the Daleks can be booked here. UK fans, without tickets to a BFI screening, will have to make do with the DVD and digital download for now.

Thursday 13 October 2016

Rebellions are built on hope in trailer for Rogue One

Lucasfilm unveiled the official theatrical poster for Rogue One: A Star Wars Story ahead of today's new trailer. The one sheet spectacularly harkens back to the original trilogy and the iconic art of Drew Struzan.

Director Gareth Edwards makes an appearance on The Star Wars Show to reveal the poster and announce the anticipated new trailer.

Actress Felicity Jones, who plays Jyn Erso, addressed the controversy surrounding summer reshoots in an interview with THR.

"Obviously when you come to the edit, you see the film come together and you think, 'Actually, we could do this better, and this would make more sense if we did this.' I've done it so many times," Jones says. "I mean, you wouldn't just give your first draft on this story, would you?"

Lucasfilm president Kathleen Kennedy was never concerned. "I'm sure if you picked up the phone and called every single large, technical movie and said, 'You ever gone in and done reshoots?' they'd all say, 'Oh God, yes. So why has it turned into a big story? Because it's Star Wars, and they put a spotlight and scrutinize every single thing that gets done," she says. "But it was always planned and nothing unusual."

Kennedy's latest comments echo those made by the movie's director, Gareth Edwards, who assured Entertainment Weekly in July, "It was always part of the plan to do reshoots. We always knew we were coming back somewhere to do stuff. We just didn't know what it would be until we started sculpting the film in the edit."

This is the Rogue One trailer you're looking for. Disney may have its prequel.

Rogue One: A Star Wars Story is released in theatres on 16th December. The queue starts here.

Wednesday 12 October 2016

Doctor Who's superhero Christmas caper

Not to be outdone by DC Comics or Marvel. Doctor Who teams up with a superhero, played by Justin Chatwin (Orphan Black), in New York this Christmas!

“I’ve always loved superheroes and this Christmas ‘Doctor Who’ dives into that world,” said Steven Moffat, the outgoing series showrunner. “My favorite superhero is Clark Kent. Not Superman, Clark Kent.”

Whilst Doctor Who has become an inseparable part of the festive fabric. The specials are a hit-and-miss affair. So, be sure to stick around for Andrew Lewin and me discussing the latest yuletide yarn in the New Year. I may try to entice Andrew into including reflections on Doctor Who's latest spin-off, Class, too.

The Christmas special, The Return of Doctor Mysterio, will air Christmas Day on BBC One.

Looking forward to the next Christmas special? Do you have a favourite? Let me know in the comments below.

Tuesday 4 October 2016

Adam Driver clarifies comments on Star Wars sequel

A few weeks ago the internet exploded when Adam Driver, who plays Kylo Ren in the Star Wars sequel trilogy, was seemingly quoted as saying director Rian Johnson's upcoming sequel to The Force Awakens echoed The Empire Strikes Back. The movie just so happens to be my favourite film of all time and Alexa (Siri in a speaker) seems to agree it's the best Star Wars movie to date.

Here's what Driver said about his interview with Collider:

“No, no, and that’s not even what I said. What I said was the tone of it was different, I didn’t say that it was gonna be in the vein of [it]—I was using it as an example, so poor example,“ he clarified. ”Next time I should say—I’m trying to think of another sequel to a movie that’s good. When I read the script, it was not what I expected, in the best of ways.”

Whatever the case may be. During a panel at Star Wars Celebration Europe, there was a palpable sense of excitement when Rian Johnson most modestly hinted at the direction of his Star Wars movie and Kathleen Kennedy's allusion to Steven Spielberg.

Saturday 1 October 2016

Design By Humans launches Rogue One collection

Design By Humans launched officially licensed Rogue One apparel on Force Friday!

To celebrate this exciting news, we've teamed up to bring Star Wars fans an exclusive discount on the latest collection featuring many of the great new characters from the upcoming movie. This includes Jyn Erso, K-2SO, Director Krennic and Darth Vader.

“This is really exciting for Design By Humans and our community,” says President Jeff Sierra. “It’s incredible to see how passionate the DBH team and artists are about working on something that’s so close to us.”

Exclusive savings of 10% on all products with coupon code: GENSTARWARS. Good through 31st March 2017. No minimum spend required.

Shop Design By Humans for official Rogue One apparel today!

About Design By Humans
DBH is a collective of gifted and creative people who take their inspiration from their surroundings. Over 15,000 of these fantastic artists share their imaginations with everyone by designing unique creations which can then be purchased on anything from stickers and wall art to phone cases and t-shirts. Because of the way this collective works consumers have easy access to unique art, and the artists themselves have an excellent space from which to promote their work. Artists use their individual stores to display their artwork which fans can then purchase on the item of their choice.

This blog post is sponsored by Design By Humans and as such I may receive compensation for any referrals.

Friday 30 September 2016

Celebrate Force Friday with Rogue One merchandise

Fans around the world are celebrating Force Friday, for a second consecutive year, with the release of new merchandise for Rogue One: A Star Wars Story. From LEGO sets to Funko Pop figures and much more...

Unlike last year's faux pas surrounding the enigmatic character of Rey in The Force Awakens. Toy companies have Jyn Erso (Felicity Jones) tie-ins in abundance.

As always LEGO sets are impressive. Most impressive.

Krennic's Imperial Shuttle set is joined by TIE Striker, Rebel U-Wing Fighter, Imperial Assault Hovertank and AT-ST Walker from the original trilogy.

Darth Vader is conspicuous by his absence. However, expect to see the Sith Lord back on toy store shelves in the next few months.

Rogue One: A Star Wars Story opens in theatres on 16th December.

How are you celebrating Force Friday? Let me know in the comments below.

Monday 26 September 2016

Star Wars Identities: The Exhibition coming to The O2

London, fresh from hosting Star Wars Celebration Europe, will be the venue for an official state-of-the-art interactive exhibition. Star Wars Identities: The Exhibition.

The stunning collection of some 200 props, models, costumes and artwork from the original Star Wars films, an interactive identity quest and insightful scientific content, all work together in Star Wars Identities to follow the dramatic journeys of the characters and help you create your very own Star Wars identity.

"This exhibition offers a fresh perspective on the beloved characters of Star Wars," says Jacques-André Dupont, President and Executive Producer of X3 Productions. "We get a deeper understanding of their identities, and, at the same time, we get a deeper understanding of our own."

"The collection, the interactive components, and the scientific content work hand in hand here to create a seamless and exciting experience for our visitors. It’s a character-driven adventure into identity.”

The exhibition will run at The O2 from 18th November 2016 to 3rd September 2017. Tickets go on sale from Force Friday.

Will you be attending? Let me know in the comments below.

Wednesday 21 September 2016

The kids from Stranger Things perform Uptown Funk

The kids from Stranger Things performed at the Emmys pre-show last Sunday!

Millie Bobby Brown, Caleb McLaughlin, and Gaten Matarazzo warmed up the crowd with an electrifying performance of Mark Ronson and Bruno Mars' hit Uptown Funk. Thanks to Netflix and Jimmy Kimmel Live the video is now available to watch.

Can these great guys do no wrong? Of course not. Don't miss their appearance on Chelsea.

You can read my spoiler-free review of the Duffer brothers Stranger Things here. The series is currently streaming on Netflix.

Monday 19 September 2016

This is the Loot Crate "Dream Crate" you're looking for

A few weeks ago the fine folks at Loot Crate approached me about assembling my “Dream Crate” as part of a blogger outreach. The winning entry may be turned into a future crate.

Here's what I came up with based on the theme of Star Wars. I know the franchise has been previously featured by Loot Crate. But, it would be a missed opportunity with Force Friday and Rogue One merchandise at the end of the month.

This is a "Dream Crate" and I was given permission to think big.

Jyn Erso Pop Vinyl

LEGO Imperial Assault Hovertank

Black Series Stormtrooper electronic voice changer helmet

Death Trooper tree ornament

Darth Vader t-shirt

If you’re unfamiliar with Loot Crate, it is a monthly subscription service that delivers 4 – 6 geeky goods to your door curated from fantastic franchises. There is the original Loot Crate, Loot Anime, Loot Gaming, Loot Pets, Loot Wear, and Loot Crate DX, which can all be delivered monthly. With so many options, there’s a crate for everyone!

What would be your "Dream Crate"? Let me know in the comments below. Better yet, let Loot Crate know your ideas, they may become reality.

Friday 16 September 2016

Michael Giacchino to compose Rogue One soundtrack

With only three months until release THR exclusively reports Oscar-winning composer Alexandre Desplat has been replaced by longtime JJ Abrams collaborator Michael Giacchino on Rogue One: A Star Wars Story.

This is due to the extensive summer reshoots requested by Disney executives, overseen by Tony Gilroy and director Gareth Edwards, and a resulting calendar conflict.

Michael Giacchino is no stranger to the big screen and has scored eclectic movies from Incredibles to Star Trek and his work will be heard next in Marvel's Doctor Strange. Giacchino's a lifelong Star Wars fan and cameoed in JJ Abrams' The Force Awakens as a First Order Stormtrooper.

Whilst I'm a fan of Alexandre Desplat. Michael Giacchino also channelled John Williams with aplomb in Jurassic World and there's no reason to think he won't do so again in a franchise synonymous with Williams' majestic music. Now if only they'd keep the iconic main theme and opening crawl...

Wednesday 14 September 2016

What happens in Westworld stays in Westworld

Game of Thrones ends with season eight and HBO's pulling no punches with its remake of a Michael Crichton classic. Westworld. Crichton's original dysfunctional theme park. An idea the author and director would return to in Jurassic Park.

This isn't the first time a Westworld spin-off series has graced television screens. Beyond Westworld was a short-lived series in 1980 chronicling an attempt to use the robots in Delos to conquer the world.

The new series, premiering this October on HBO and Sky Atlantic in the UK, is shaping up to be a worthy heir to stablemate Game of Thrones on the award-winning network.

Following a software update, the machine inhabitants of Westworld have experienced an awakening...

I won't be posting specific spoilers as that would be a disservice. But, fans of Westworld will warmly welcome the nods to the original movie and its embracing of the new. This is a Westworld from the perspective of its robot inhabitants as they grind out an AI equivalent of Groundhog Day and discordant memories begin to surface with nightmarish consequences.

The compelling premise, also explored in AMC's Humans, is a springboard for the existential question posed by author Philip K. Dick: "Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?" Are the machines solely produced to satiate the wanton needs of base human desires without consequence or have they evolved into sentient beings deserving of equal rights? What would happen if they decided to rebel against their decadent masters?

On the strength of the four episodes I've watched courtesy of HBO; fans of tech noir are in for a treat worthy of Ex Machina, Blade Runner, Battlestar Galactica and Terminator. The premiere episode is a masterclass in world building with a superlative cast including Sir Anthony Hopkins, Ed Harris, James Marsden, Thandie Newton and Evan Rachel Wood.

Evan Rachel Wood talks enthusiastically about the upcoming series: “It’s more of a revolution than a TV show. I don’t think people are going to expect it. They’ve never seen anything like it. I’ve never seen anything like it. I’m excited. And everyone working on it, we’re all in agreement that it’s our Odyssey. We’re like, ‘This is going to be the one Everyone in the top of their fields is pouring everything they have into this, which is why it was such a massive undertaking and why filming was extended. It’s not because things are going badly. It’s because they’re so massive and it’s so complicated and we want to get it right. We’re not just phoning it in. We’re taking our time with it because it’s really important.”

Much was made of Westworld's delayed production last January. However, showrunners Jonathan Nolan (The Dark Knight) and Lisa Joy needed more time to develop a masterplan spanning five seasons. On the strength of the pilot episode, directed by Jonathan Nolan, it was more than worth the wait.

“We didn’t want to have a story that repeated itself [each year] - we didn’t want the Fantasy Island version of this [where new guests arrive at the park every season]," Jonathan Nolan said. "We wanted a big story. We wanted the story of the origin of a new species and how that would play out in its complexity.”

Actor James Marsden (X-Men) goes on to say: “It wasn’t about getting the first 10 [episodes] done, it was about mapping out what the next 5 or 6 years are going to be. We wanted everything in line so that when the very last episode airs and we have our show finale, five or seven years down the line, we knew how it was going to end the first season – that’s the way Jonah and [executive producer J.J. Abrams] operate. They’re making sure all the ducks are in the row."

Westworld is a chilling and clever expose on human hubris and a potential televisual masterpiece in the making. This sci-fi series has been furnished with the utmost care and what I've seen suggests something truly special.

Westworld will premiere on 2nd October on HBO. Followed by Sky Atlantic and NOW TV on 4th October.

Looking forward to Westworld? Let me know in the comments below.

Friday 9 September 2016

Lightsaber Safety 101

What Star Wars fan doesn't want to wield a lightsaber around the home? This helpful instructional video, from the fine folks at Nukazooka, will guide you through the do's and don'ts! Don't be a Larry!

Share your lightsaber mishaps in the comments below.

Wednesday 7 September 2016

The Power of the Daleks is restored 50 years later

A Doctor Who classic, seemingly lost forever during the BBC's infamous purge of its studio masters in 1974, is to be released on digital download and DVD.

The Power of the Daleks.

The sixties serial is notable for being the first adventure of the newly regenerated Doctor as played by Patrick Troughton. The Doctor travels to Vulcan (not a Star Trek crossover) with companions Polly (Anneke Wills) and Ben (Michael Craze) to thwart the Daleks latest cunning plan.

A painstaking black and white restoration, comprised of remaining footage, new animation, audio clips and photos, has been undertaken by an animation studio.

“The Power of the Daleks animation is the most ambitious Doctor Who archive restoration ever attempted and we’re all very honoured to be a part of such an exciting project,” director Charles Norton said.

“Intelligent, suspenseful and magnificently staged, Power of the Daleks is one of the great lost classics of 1960s television and a superb example of the black and white era at its finest.”

The Power of the Daleks will be released on the BBC Store website as a digital download, and will be available to download on Saturday 5th November, 50 years to the minute after its one and only airing on BBC One. A DVD will be available for purchase on the 21st November.

A special screening of episodes 1-3 of Doctor Who: The Power of the Daleks will take place at BFI Southbank, London on Saturday 5th November, with a Q&A from Director Charles Norton, star Anneke Wills and former Doctor Who companion Frazer Hines.

Looking forward to The Power of the Daleks? What other lost classics would you like to see released? Let me know in the comments below.

Monday 5 September 2016

Star Wars Rebels Season 3 is Thrawnalicious!

Star Wars Rebels season 3 begins 24th September on Disney XD and here's the latest trailer featuring Grand Admiral Thrawn, plotting the downfall of the Rebellion and the motley crew of the Ghost, to whet your appetite.

Grand Admiral Thrawn (Lars Mikkelsen) was the scourge of the victorious Rebellion in author Timothy Zahn's sequel to Return of the Jedi, Heir to the Empire, published in 1991.

The Thrawn trilogy was well received by fans (including myself) and, arguably, kickstarted a mainstream renaissance in the Star Wars franchise that included Dark Horse Comics' Dark Empire trilogy and seminal first-person shooter Dark Forces, which inspired Rogue One: A Star Wars Story.

Looking forward to seeing fan favourite Grand Admiral Thrawn in Star Wars Rebels? Let me know in the comments below.

Friday 2 September 2016

Star Wars fans Go Rogue on Force Friday

It's September and Force Friday returns on the 30th! The annual Star Wars merchandising event began with The Force Awakens and continues with Rogue One: A Star Wars Story.

This year fans are invited to create their own Star Wars short films and skits as part of a creative alliance between Disney and Tongal. Go Rogue. The global contest, running from 30th September through 21st October, will be judged by a panel including director Gareth Edwards. Winners will be invited to Lucasfilm in San Francisco to attend a screening of Rogue One, and see their short story on the big screen.

The fan-created shorts, showcasing the new line of Rogue One toys for the first time, launched on the Star Wars YouTube channel, with weekly instalments of the four-part series released throughout September. Think Robot Chicken for all the family. Go Rogue is a fan-made homage to Disney's other franchise Toy Story.

The creative team was led by James DeJulio at Tongal, and the series was written by Kevin Ulrich and brought to life by stop-motion animators and directors Dan MacKenzie and Tucker Barrie. The stories follow the adventures of Rogue One toys from Hasbro, LEGO, Funko, Jakks Pacific, Mattel and Disney Store as they try to track down the building instructions to the LEGO Star Wars Death Star set which have been misplaced by the Empire.

“These fan-created shorts are a tribute to the incredible content that the Star Wars community posts online every day,” said Jimmy Pitaro, Chairman, Disney Consumer Products and Interactive Media. “The Go Rogue campaign was designed with Star Wars fans in mind – we want them to be front and center in the run up to ‘Rogue One’ by imagining and creating their own Rogue Stories."

“I’ve been a Star Wars fan my whole life so this is a dream project,” says James DeJulio, co-founder of Tongal. “It’s been amazing to see what an inspiration Star Wars has been to so many members of our creative community, whether that’s coming up with their own Star Wars storylines, or playing out scenes with Star Wars toys at home with their kids. I’m excited to share this first ‘Rogue Story’ with the world and hope it inspires other fans to share theirs.”

From LEGO sets to Nerf blasters and Black Series action figures to Sphero Force Band. This year's event promises to be spectacular and selected merchandise is available for pre-order today.

Given the merchandising legacy of the Star Wars franchise. The new toys will be almost as deeply scrutinised as the upcoming films themselves.

Looking forward to Force Friday? Let me know in the comments below.

Wednesday 31 August 2016

Netflix renews Stranger Things for second season

Netflix has confirmed there'll be a second season of the Duffer brothers pop culture phenomenon: Stranger Things.

The second season announcement teaser trailer outlines enigmatic episode titles. These title chapters are Madmax, The Boy Who Came Back to Life, The Pumpkin Patch, The Palace, The Storm, The Pollywog, The Secret Cabin, The Brain, and The Lost Brother.

Stranger Things has resonated deeply with audiences in an era of nihilistic Hollywood blockbusters. Its use of mythological storytelling harkens back to Steven Spielberg and George Lucas.

"We wanted to feel like a big movie, so we wanted to solve that main tension of where Will went and what happened to him," Matt Duffer told press earlier this summer. "But then there's the bigger mythology behind what happened, so there's definitely a lot of dangling threads at the end… if people wanted it and Netflix wanted it, we could explore it and continue the storyline."

The second season will be set in 1984, a year after events in season one, and comprise of nine episodes when it premieres in 2017.

Whilst no official cast has been announced, you can expect the return of Ryder, Wolfhard, Matarazzo and the rest of the gang... but maybe not Brown's Eleven. Yes, you read that right. "We don't know about Eleven," Ross Duffer told Entertainment Weekly. "We leave that up in the air." How very dare they!

The Duffer brothers have alluded to the seminal sequels of James Cameron as an influence on the second season. Guys, you've got my attention.

Excited about returning to Upside Down? Let me know in the comments below.

Thursday 25 August 2016

Class channels Buffy in latest Doctor Who spin-off

Empire magazine interviewed Class showrunner Patrick Ness and he talks about the genesis of the latest Doctor Who spin-off: “Coal Hill has existed in Doctor Who since literally episode one. The Doctor’s granddaughter went there. So we thought, ‘All that time activity at the school, has that caused any problems?’ Well, what do you know, it has!”

Ness likens the new series to Buffy the Vampire Slayer: “Adults watch that, because it’s a great show, but the POV and the agency are all teenage, and that’s what we want to do with Class. It needs to be from the point of view of the sixth-formers – but that doesn’t mean that it’s necessarily a ‘young show’.”

“We’re not telling stories of the ‘chosen ones’,” Ness continues. “It’s happenstance that puts these people [at the centre of things]. What if your timing is just weird and things happen to you? How do you deal with it? I’m interested in real consequences. The Doctor is always exciting, but he never stays. He goes off on the next adventure. What happens to real people?”

The spin-off seemingly shares DNA with another Doctor Who spin-off. Torchwood. However, Jack Harness' adventures were darker in tone and dealt with more mature adult themes.

Class premieres this October on BBC One and BBC Three. BBC America will syndicate the new series.

Looking forward to the new spin-off series? Let me know in the comments below.

Friday 19 August 2016

Doctor Who panel at New York Comic Con

Doctor Who fans will have to wait until October's New York Comic Con (NYCC) for a first look at the upcoming Christmas special, series 10 and latest spin-off Class.

Peter Capaldi will be joined onstage at the Doctor Who panel by new co-star Pearl Mackie, who plays new companion Bill, outgoing showrunner Steven Moffat and executive producer Brian Minchin. Convention attendees should expect hints about series 10, which is currently in production.

The Class panel will include stars Greg Austin, Fady Elsayed, Sophie Hopkins and Vivian Oprah, joined by writer and creator Patrick Ness. The new spin-off series is set in Shoreditch, London. Coal Hill School has been an intrinsic part of the fabric of Doctor Who since An Unearthly Child cast its spell in November 1963.

Former Doctor Who Matt Smith and companion Karen Gillan will also be in attendance.

If you're attending New York Comic Con and would like to write a future feature, please get in contact.

Monday 8 August 2016

Stranger Things is a spellbinding homage to the 1980s!

Stranger Things from director brothers Matt and Ross Duffer, now streaming on Netflix, is a mini-series gem fashioned from the cinematic touchstones of Steven Spielberg and John Carpenter, and the pages of supernatural author Stephen King.

With a side order of John Hughes, James Cameron and David Cronenberg for good measure. This is a delicious buffet served with the utmost care for film geeks.

The Netflix series premiered during Star Wars Celebration Europe and the stars aligned...

The tale begins during a game of Dungeons & Dragons. Shortly thereafter a child goes missing and there's a monster prowling the woods of small-town Indiana in 1983.

Not since JJ Abrams' Super 8 have I been so enthralled by a Nancy Drew mystery peopled by characters that would have been my childhood friends growing up in suburbia.

A superlative young cast, ably supported by teenage crush Winona Ryder, David Harbour and Matthew Modine, and otherworldly cinematography that perfectly distills the zeitgeist of 1980s suburban Americana; tapping into our nostalgia-heavy era where Star Wars and Ghostbusters once again reign supreme on the silver screen, and the NES is making a comeback this holiday season.

The Guardian asked chief executive Reed Hastings if Netflix would commission another series in the wake of critical success.

He said: “Because we don’t have advertising we are under a whole different model to not compare all the shows and rank other shows, because it kind of doesn’t matter what everybody loves the most, it matters what you or I love most.

“You can get approximations ... if you look on IMDB the most popular TV show right now it’s Stranger Things, so that’s a reasonable proxy. It’s not that there’s no data, just that we don’t give out our data.”

Whilst we wait for confirmation of a sequel series. Netflix has announced the evocative synth soundtrack will be made available soon.

Have you seen Stranger Things? Let me know in the comments below.