Sunday 17 December 2017

The circle is complete in subversive Star Wars

This review contains spoilers for the latest instalment in the Star Wars saga. The Last Jedi is best enjoyed free of such spoilers and expectations. You've had fair warning.

Beware Porgs.

Star Wars: The Last Jedi opens with a bombastic flourish reprising the space battle from Return of the Jedi and culminates in a last stand echoing the claustrophobia of the battle of Hoth in The Empire Strikes Back. It’s what happens between these tentpole battles that elevates director Rian Johnson’s subversive and seemingly divisive sequel to The Force Awakens above standard Hollywood fare, and not only lays the foundation for Episode IX but also the director's own trilogy.

Johnson, like Irvin Kershner before him, approaches the space opera from a deeply psychological perspective and not without wit. The horrors are mostly of the mind. It's a thoughtful examination of hubris. From Supreme Leader Snoke's (Andy Serkis) folly for underestimating his apprentice Kylo Ren (Adam Driver) to Luke Skywalker's (Mark Hamill) debunking of heroic legends and the Jedi order. The latter retrofitting the prequels with gravitas.

Luke Skywalker's heroic return is anything but. His father's lightsaber is tossed away and, as he resists training Rey (Daisy Ridley) in the ways of the Force, a chilling revelation regarding Ben Solo and how he became Kylo Ren is revealed.

Rey and Kylo Ren’s relationship is emotionally charged and there’s a palpable attraction. An attraction that borders on romance. Adam Driver and Daisy Ridley are the charismatic leads of the sequel trilogy and here they take centre stage as Johnson cleans house after JJ Abrams rebooted the franchise. Their lightsaber duet, not duel as many may have expected, in the wake of Supreme Leader Snoke’s demise after he's deceived by Kylo Ren, is a death-dealing ballet of choreographed beauty and brutality.

It was impossible to predict what would happen next as Kylo pleaded with Rey to join him on the dark side whilst Rey held onto the belief that the Master of the Knights of Ren could return to the light. Underscored by a sexual chemistry the prequels sorely lacked.

It’s not without flaws. The Canto Bight casino subplot was apparently a return to the prequels and as such dragged the drama to a crawl. In the midst of an assault on the Resistance fleet, Finn (John Boyega) and newcomer Rose Tico (Kelly Marie Tran) go off for a day at the races and meet Force-sensitive children, which does have a payoff at the end.

General Leia’s (Carrie Fisher) use of the Force, whilst an honourable intention when viewed in the context of Fisher's tragic death last December and one fans have yearned to see since the original trilogy, resulted in Mary Poppins in space.

Captain Phasma, played by the imperious Gwendoline Christie, was given short shrift and an unsatisfying exit a la Boba Fett.

Minor gripes in an otherwise character-driven tour de force (I went there. Sorry not sorry). Johnson dared to take risks with a franchise that's all too easily homogenised and subverted established tropes.

The Last Jedi climaxes with the embattled Resistance, now significantly reduced in number due to Poe Dameron's (Oscar Isaac) hotheadedness, escaping aboard the Millennium Falcon with General Leia and Rey, who has taken the sacred Jedi texts in the hope of rekindling the order.

John Williams' soundtrack is the beating heart of any Star Wars movie. Here, the maestro excels himself with fresh takes on familiar, beloved, themes spanning an expansive body of work and hints at the future of a franchise for which he is intrinsically linked. Without Williams' timeless orchestral score for a New Hope in 1977, George Lucas' space opera would never have been as epic and my childhood adventures would have been all the lesser.

Illuminated by twin binary suns, Luke Skywalker’s death, following his Force projected confrontation with Kylo Ren, is a profoundly moving tribute from the director to the enduring 40-year legacy of Star Wars. The circle is complete and the saga continues...

Friday 15 December 2017

Deadpool to remain R-Rated at Disney

Whilst the X-Men franchise has witnessed diminishing returns since First Class. Deadpool, played by Ryan Reynolds, was a deviant delight. So much so, I regretted not seeing the movie at the cinema. Opting instead to watch it at home on Sky Cinema.

With Disney's acquisition of Fox film and television assets, fans have been fearful about Deadpool's future as part of the extended Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU).

Bob Iger, Disney CEO, has seemingly quashed those fears. Deadpool will remain an R-Rated franchise.

"It [Deadpool] clearly has been and will be Marvel branded. But we think there might be an opportunity for a Marvel-R brand for something like Deadpool," he told The Hollywood Reporter (THR).

"As long as we let the audiences know what’s coming, we think we can manage that fine."

Deadpool 2 and X-Men: Dark Phoenix are unaffected by the deal. However, expect X-Men and Fantastic Four to be rebooted into the MCU in the future.

Thursday 14 December 2017

Disney buys Fox acquiring rights to original Star Wars

As expected Disney has bought 20th Century Fox for over $52 billion dollars. This encompasses film and television assets including Sky.

The Alien, Avatar, Buffy, X-Men and The X-Files franchises, to name just a few, will bolster the Mouse House's content ahead of launching its own streaming service to rival Netflix. The company will also have a controlling stake in Hulu.

Disney now has the rights to the original Star Wars movie, A New Hope, which Fox originally owned in perpetuity. Timely in the wake of The Last Jedi premiering in cinemas this week.

Bob Iger will remain Disney CEO through 2021. Presumably to oversee the successful acquisition that will disrupt the Hollywood studio system.

Wednesday 13 December 2017

Is hyperspace travel as seen in Star Wars possible?

Star Wars: The Last Jedi is in UK cinemas from midnight. Professor Carsten Welsch, Head of Physics at Liverpool University, looks at the possibility of hyperspace travel, as depicted in the space saga, in a guest post.


“She’s the fastest hunk of junk in the galaxy!”

Ok, so the Millennium Falcon made it from Hoth to Bespin even without its hyperdrive, and technically speaking, traversing the void between stars remains a fantasy, but science fiction is boldly edging a little closer to the frontiers of science fact thanks to pioneering work at the Cockcroft Institute, where experts from the University of Liverpool are leading a ground (and space) breaking programme to train antimatter scientists.

It's the explosive reaction between matter and antimatter that underpins one of the most iconic elements of Star Wars – rapid interstellar travel – but in the real world, this principle makes the study of antimatter difficult because, as Professor Carsten Welsch, Head of Physics at Liverpool University, says, “when an antiparticle and a particle meet they annihilate each other, disappearing in a flash of energy – so a trapping device is needed.”

Until now, only a very small amount of antiparticles have been able to be trapped this way, and for a limited amount of time. But a new facility based at CERN, the Extra Low Energy Antiproton ring (ELENA), will change this, becoming the first and only facility in the world to store and deliver cooled antiproton beams at low energy. Researchers at the Cockcroft Institute’s Accelerators Validating Antimatter physics research and training network, (AVA), will then be able to take a closer look at these mysterious particles and try to understand why it is that all matter in the universe created after the Big Bang isn’t accompanied by an equal amount of antimatter, or particles with an opposite charge.

Prof Welsch says: “The instrumentation and detectors to be developed by AVA will provide us with much better insight into low energy antimatter beams, so that we will be able to understand and control them better and carry out hitherto impossible experiments.” Such experiments have the potential to rewrite our assumptions about the nature and properties of space and time, making it one of the most exciting fields of research out there.

In fact, if scientists can work out how to create or collect large amount of antimatter, antimatter-propelled interstellar travel might even become a reality, although it’s unlikely you’ll ever make the Kessel Run in less than twelve parsecs. But if for now we’re still in the dark when it comes to some of the great problems of physics, the Cockcroft Institute and AVA aim to balance this with some much-needed light on the most enigmatic aspects of our universe.

About the Cockcroft Institute:

The Cockcroft Institute is an international centre of excellence for accelerator science and technology in the UK.

Tuesday 12 December 2017

Disney and Fox deal could be announced this Thursday

A merger between Disney and Fox is expected to be formally announced this Thursday according to CNBC. The day before Star Wars: The Last Jedi is released in US cinemas.

If the blockbuster deal goes ahead it will have ramifications beyond Disney's Star Wars and Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) franchises.

From a genre perspective. This means Disney can unify its Marvel superhero strand (barring Spider-Man at Sony) ahead of the tenth anniversary of the release of Iron Man, and bolster the offering of the Mouse House's streaming service expected to premiere with a live-action Star Wars series in 2019.

Whilst Marvel fans may not see Hugh Jackman reprise the role of Wolverine in the MCU. The X-Men franchise, aside from Logan and Legion, has been running on fumes following the excellent First Class and is in need of a reboot.

Many Star Wars fans (myself included) have mused the Fox Fanfare maybe reinstated for Star Wars: Episode IX, directed by JJ Abrams, which closes the sequel trilogy in 2019. This will be followed by Rian Johnson's new trilogy.

Disney CEO Bob Iger has been on an acquisition trail that has witnessed Pixar, Marvel and Lucasfilm merged into the company. To infinity and beyond on the stock market...

Monday 11 December 2017

BBC Star Wars documentary: The Galaxy Britain Built

This Thursday Star Wars: The Last Jedi is in UK cinemas. Press reaction to last weekend's world premiere is exciting.

40 years ago Star Wars was released and much of the original film was shot at Elstree Studios. The BBC is showing a documentary celebrating the talented artisans that brought George Lucas' vision to the silver screen in 1977.

Personally, Star Wars has always signified hope (pun intended). Seeing the original movie with my mum, who passed away in 2007, was one of the most profound experiences of my life in the wake of a life-changing brain injury at primary school. It'll be bittersweet seeing The Last Jedi without her...

The Galaxy Britain Built, made by Star Wars superfan and documentary-maker David Whiteley, will be shown on BBC Four on 21st December at 10:00PM and then on BBC iPlayer.

Special thanks to Matt Charlton for letting me know about this. No Bothans were harmed.

Sunday 10 December 2017

First reactions to Star Wars: The Last Jedi

Following the world premiere of Star Wars: The Last Jedi last evening in Los Angeles, the press were allowed to share initial spoiler-free impressions of Rian Johnson's sequel to The Force Awakens. It's overwhelmingly positive.

Mark Hamill's performance in The Empire Strikes Back is easily overlooked for how effortless his interactions with Frank Oz's Yoda are during Luke Skywalker's Jedi training. The Last Jedi is another chance for him to show off his acting chops according to THR's Aaron Couch.

Fandango's Erik Davis goes on to suggests it's the best Star Wars movie since The Empire Strikes Back.

Seemingly The Last Jedi is a home run. However, fans can discover for themselves when the movie is released this week. I'll be seeing the latest instalment in the Star Wars saga on Saturday.

Saturday 9 December 2017

Watch the Star Wars: The Last Jedi world premiere

Excitement for Star Wars: The Last Jedi is building and the world premiere takes place in Los Angeles today.

Fans (myself included) unlucky enough not to attend the premiere can watch the red carpet festivities live on hosted by The Star Wars Show's Andi Gutierrez and Anthony Carboni.

The latest instalment in the Star Wars saga picks up directly from where The Force Awakens ends and box office expectations are stellar. It’s impossible to predict how successful the Star Wars sequel will be, but fan reaction to Rian Johnson’s movie, on social media, should be an indication. Let’s hope they can keep things spoiler-free. So, we can all enjoy The Last Jedi without the secrets spoiled.

Have you booked tickets to see Star Wars: The Last Jedi? Let me know in the comments below.

Friday 8 December 2017

Win a Star Wars holiday gift from

Star Wars: The Last Jedi is in US cinemas a week today. The highly anticipated Star Wars sequel, directed by Rian Johnson, sees Rey begin her training as a Jedi.

The fine folks at are celebrating the release of the next instalment in the Star Wars saga with 25% off products from today and 4 days of sales next week. Be sure to subscribe to my social media, FacebookInstagram and Twitter, as I'll be sharing exclusive vanity codes for further discounts.

We've teamed up to give one reader a limited edition pair of Darth Vader socks for the holidays.

To be in with a chance of winning, just answer this simple question:

Who is Darth Vader's grandson?

A. General Hux
B. Poe Dameron
C. Kylo Ren

Please leave your answer and where you heard about the competition in the comments below.

The competition is open to all and closes Friday, 15th December. The winner will be randomly selected and contacted soon thereafter. Only one entry per household.

Good luck and may the Force be with you. Always.

Star Wars: The Last Jedi is in cinemas 15th December.

The Force Is Here!
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Thursday 7 December 2017

The Last Jedi features Space Gary

Eagle-eyed Star Wars fans over at Fantha Tracks spied what appeared to be an homage to Gary, the late Carrie Fisher's dog, in a promotional photo featuring Finn (John Boyega) and Rose Tico (Kelly Marie Tran) from The Last Jedi in Empire magazine. Director Rian Johnson confirmed this on Twitter. You can read more on this exclusive at Fantha Tracks.

Gary is a beloved member of the extended Star Wars family. I'll never forget the hilarity that ensued during Star Wars Celebration Europe when Carrie and Warwick Davis, who played Wicket in the original trilogy, attempted to recreate the scene in which their characters first meet in Return of the Jedi. Gary wasn't having any of it and defended Carrie...

Wednesday 6 December 2017

Carey Mulligan said no to Doctor Who companion role

Steven Moffat, outgoing Doctor Who series showrunner, told the Radio Times that Oscar-nominated actress Carey Mulligan, who played Sally Sparrow in the acclaimed David Tennant episode Blink, was asked to join Team TARDIS:

“Oh my God, Carey Mulligan! It’s funny but 'Blink,' I say immodestly, is a very famous episode of television and yet Carey Mulligan, who was the star of it, I'm almost certain wouldn't even remember being in Doctor Who. I don't think she was much of a fan, or anything. They liked her so much, they said, 'Do you want to be the next companion? but she said no. God, she was amazing.“

Doctor Who returns on Christmas Day on BBC One at 5:30PM. Peter Capaldi regenerates into Jodie Whittaker in the polar ice. International fans, please check local listings.

Saturday 2 December 2017

The Last Jedi cast on Jimmy Kimmel Live

The cast and director of Star Wars: The Last Jedi appeared on ABC's Jimmy Kimmel Live on Friday.

Mark Hamill, Daisy Ridley, Adam Driver, John Boyega, Oscar Isaac, Andy Serkis, Laura Dern, Gwen Christie, Kelly Marie Tran and Domnhall Gleeson, along with director Rian Johnson and special guest BB-8, stopped by to chat with Jimmy about the latest instalment in the Star Wars saga.

It's an especially poignant gathering as Carrie Fisher passed away last December and fans will see her play General Leia for the last time this holiday season.

Star Wars: The Last Jedi is in theatres from 15th December.

Friday 1 December 2017

Share Star Wars memories with Meerkat Movies

Compare the Market has launched a Meerkat Movies tie-in with Star Wars: The Last Jedi and recreates a scene from The Force Awakens in its latest advertisement.

Mark Vile, Chief Marketing Officer at, said: “The Star Wars franchise evokes nostalgic memories for many people, with a trip to the cinema often a highly anticipated family event. After a hugely successful partnership with Disney for Star Wars: The Force Awakens, the biggest movie of all time in the UK, we’re delighted to be working on the next instalment of this iconic film franchise.

"We’ve got some exciting activations in the pipeline that our customers are going to love and be able to get actively involved in, so would advise everyone to keep a look out, as more is yet to be revealed.”

Star Wars: The Last Jedi is in UK cinemas from 14th December.

Thursday 30 November 2017

Watch John Boyega dance like Michael Jackson

Daisy Ridley requested, via a pre-recorded video message, her Star Wars co-star John Boyega to dance like Michael Jackson during an interview on The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon.

Boyega previously showed off his dance moves at the Star Wars: The Last Jedi wrap party a few weeks ago.

Boyega reprises the role of renegade First Order Stormtrooper Finn in The Last Jedi this December.

Wednesday 29 November 2017

Daisy Ridley talks Star Wars on Good Morning America

The Star Wars: The Last Jedi press tour is well underway ahead of the movie's release in December.

Daisy Ridley told ABC News' Good Morning America (GMA), owned by Disney, that she was surprised by The Last Jedi, which she saw a few weeks ago. The Star Wars actor also divulged her dad is a Star Trek fan and that she hates watching herself, which is not uncommon for actors.

“I think I’m more proficient with a lightsaber,” she said, teasing what fans have already seen in The Last Jedi trailers and TV Spots.

“I never really trained before the first one and the second one I was training for like [a] year. So I had more stamina and I felt really strong,” she explained.

Ridley said “it was wonderful” shooting with Mark Hamill, who plays Luke Skywalker.

“It was wonderful because obviously I was very lucky to be able to work with Harrison [Ford] and Carrie [Fisher] and when I worked with Mark the first time — we sort of had time, we went for dinner with his family and then we had time for rehearsals and we’re shooting with him a lot which was really amazing,” she said.

Ridley said she screened the film last week and while she doesn’t enjoy watching herself, she admitted: “I was more surprised with this one, because there’s like — there’s a few story lines that [are] sort of coming together and connecting.”

“Rey is trying to find out about herself and about the universe and those questions don’t entirely fall to the good nor do they fall entirely to the bad,” Ridley said. “She’s trying to do her own personal growth.”

Star Wars: The Last Jedi is in theatres 15th December.

Tuesday 28 November 2017

Bill is back in Doctor Who this Christmas

Pearl Mackie, who plays Bill Potts, returns to Doctor Who for Twice Upon A Time. The fan-favourite companion was last seen saving the Doctor (Peter Capaldi) in The Doctor Falls. She'll join two Doctors as David Bradley is the new First Doctor.

The BBC has released a new promotional photo and an official synopsis for Peter Capaldi's regeneration story, which witnesses Jodie Whittaker taking over as the first female Doctor.

"The magical final chapter of the Twelfth Doctor’s (Peter Capaldi) journey sees the Time Lord team up with his former self, the first ever Doctor (David Bradley - Harry Potter, Game of Thrones) and a returning Bill Potts (Pearl Mackie), for one last adventure.

Two Doctors stranded in an Arctic snowscape, refusing to face regeneration. Enchanted glass people, stealing their victims from frozen time. And a World War One captain destined to die on the battlefield, but taken from the trenches to play his part in the Doctor's story.

An uplifting new tale about the power of hope in humanity’s darkest hours, Twice Upon A Time marks the end of an era. But as the Doctor must face his past to decide his future, his journey is only just beginning..."

Rumours persist Matt Smith and Jenna Coleman will return in Steven Moffat's swansong as series showrunner.

Doctor Who: Twice Upon A Time is broadcast on Christmas Day on BBC One. International fans please check local listings.

Monday 27 November 2017

Watch Daisy Ridley build a LEGO Millennium Falcon

Daisy Ridley talks Star Wars whilst building a LEGO Millennium Falcon for Elle magazine.

"You would think that my second pop at Star Wars I would feel like a pro but in fact I actually felt much more nervous," she confessed. "I felt more responsibility and more personal pressure because I knew what people had taken from it."

Daisy Ridley reprises the role of Rey, a Jedi in training under the tutelage of Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill), in Star Wars: The Last Jedi this December.

Friday 24 November 2017

Tom Baker back as Doctor Who in Shada

Tom Baker has reprised his iconic role as the Fourth Doctor in the upcoming Shada this December.

Shada, written by the late Douglas Adams, is an unfinished story, due to strike action, from 1979. Whilst the serial has been released in a variety of formats previously. This is the most comprehensive reconstruction to date.

“When I was doing Doctor Who it was the realisation of all my childhood fantasies… so I took to it like a duck to water and I still do,” Baker said of his return to the role onscreen.

“Doctor Who was more important than life to me – I used to dread the end of rehearsal… that’s why I can’t stay away from it.

“Shada was one of my favourite Doctor Who stories. I have many fond memories of shooting the location scenes in Cambridge, and it was disappointing not to finish the story in studio. I’m so glad that BBC Worldwide have found a way to bring fans a complete visual version.”

Baker was last seen onscreen as the Curator in Day of the Doctor, the 50th anniversary special, alongside Matt Smith and David Tennant. His audio adventures continue with Big Finish and he's also starring in that other sci-fi franchise so beloved by fans (myself included). Star Wars.

My earliest memory of watching Doctor Who is The Sontaran Experiment and the Fourth Doctor is my favourite incarnation of the beloved time traveller. So, seeing Baker back is extra special at a time of renewal for the long-running BBC sci-fi series. Jodie Whittaker becomes the first female Doctor during Peter Capaldi's regeneration story this Christmas.

Shada is available to pre-order on DVD and Blu-ray disc and is released on 4th December. Or download the serial from iTunes today.

Wednesday 22 November 2017

The Last Jedi tracking a $200 million opening weekend

Star Wars: The Last Jedi isn’t in cinemas until December. However, the Star Wars sequel is tracking a $200 million dollar opening weekend in the US.

Rogue One: A Star Wars Story took $155 million at the US box office in its opening weekend but fell short of The Force Awakens' $248 million domestic debut in 2015.

Star Wars superfan John Campea answered Twitter questions (including mine) regarding The Last Jedi's predicted opening weekend box office during a YouTube livestream earlier.

I'd like to take this opportunity to wish all my US readers a happy Thanksgiving on Thursday. May the Force be with you when trying to get a Star Wars-related bargain this Black Friday. I hope to add Hasbro action figures and Sphero app-enabled droids to my collection.

Do you think The Last Jedi will overtake The Force Awakens at the box office? Let me know in the comments below.

Monday 20 November 2017

Jeff Wayne’s The War of the Worlds arena tour in 2018

To celebrate the 40th anniversary of Jeff Wayne’s acclaimed musical version of The War of the Worlds, the flame-throwing Martian Fighting Machines are back on tour in 2018.

Jeff Wayne said: "In June 1978 my original double album was released. I had no idea if it would vanish as quickly as one can say… 'ULLAdubULLA!' But here I am today, soon to be celebrating its 40th anniversary throughout 2018, culminating in what I believe will be the most exciting arena tour we've ever performed. No one would have believed…"

H.G. Well’s Martian invasion of Earth is an allegorical commentary on cultural imperialism and Wayne’s album was my gateway into Victorian literature. Whilst I've owned the album on countless formats, nothing will eclipse the treasured childhood memory of listening to the double vinyl LP, borrowed from a friend's dad, on a mono Pye record player (owned by my late mum). Coincidentally, Marvel UK ran a comic book adaptation in the pages of Doctor Who Weekly.

Sony is re-releasing the original double LP this January. Remastered for a superior audio experience, it also includes the original double gatefold with 16-page booklet containing the full script, lyrics, original paintings and credits. Wayne's recording would win innumerable prestigious awards including the best recording in Science Fiction and Fantasy (the judges included George Lucas and Steven Spielberg). Pre-order from Amazon today.

Jeff Wayne's The War of the Worlds arena tour will head to Brighton, Birmingham, Bournemouth, Liverpool, Cardiff and more in 2018. Tour info and to book tickets.

Sunday 19 November 2017

Janina Gavankar talks Star Wars Battlefront II

Janina Gavankar dropped by BUILD to discuss her role as Iden Versio in Star Wars Battlefront II. Ms Gavankar talks enthusiastically about all things Star Wars and her passion for video games, which began in 2007.

Whilst Star Wars Battlefront II has received a frosty reception from many fans due to the microtransactions fiasco. The single-player campaign is canon and I'll get around to playing it eventually. If only to experience a Star Wars game in 4K with Dolby Atmos surround sound on Xbox One X.

Saturday 18 November 2017

The Last Jedi is the longest Star Wars movie yet

Director Rian Johnson has announced his upcoming Star Wars sequel is 150 minutes. This surpasses Attack of the Clones.

Speaking at a press conference in France, Johnson confirmed the running time, which makes The Last Jedi the longest Star Wars film to date. "Disney gave us a real freedom in writing," he said. "It was something very organic. For me, it was like when I worked on my old movies."

The director went on to address if The Last Jedi was merely a retread of The Empire Strikes Back. A criticism levelled at The Force Awakens for drawing heavily on A New Hope.

"I guess I’d be hesitant to use the word ‘homage’ because that makes it sound like it’s just kind of turning the crank and replaying an old tune because we all like it,” he told SciFiNow. "But telling a story that brings new things and pushes everything forward in an interesting way, that is in this world that we all recognise, there’s something very powerful about that."

However, Johnson appreciates the nostalgia for the original trilogy, which he grew up watching.

"It’s very interesting, the idea of the inescapable draw of nostalgia, because it’s there and it’s impossible to deny the emotional reaction that I have walking onto the interior of the [Millennium] Falcon."

In related news. The Last Jedi trumps The Force Awakens for star cameos. Daniel Craig (James Bond) may have played a First Order Stormtrooper in JJ Abrams' franchise reboot. However, Tom Hardy (Mad Max: Fury Road), Princes William and Harry and Gary Barlow are rumoured to don Stormtrooper armour to ward off the Resistance this December. Gareth Edwards, who directed Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, is confirmed to be in the new film.

Personally, if The Last Jedi is amazing then it bodes well for Johnson's own Star Wars trilogy and affirms Disney's trust.

Book tickets to see Star Wars: The Last Jedi from Fandango. This is an affiliate link and therefore I may receive compensation for any referrals.

Star Wars: The Last Jedi is in cinemas 15th December.

Friday 17 November 2017

Microtransactions gone from Star Wars Battlefront II

Star Wars Battlefront II launches today and many fans (myself included) aren't picking it up day-one. However, following weeks of heated debate surrounding pay-to-win, publisher EA has dropped microtransactions from the controversial sequel. At least for now.

"Our goal has always been to create the best possible game for all of you – devoted Star Wars fans and game players alike. We’ve also had an ongoing commitment to constantly listen, tune and evolve the experience as it grows," a blogpost from Oskar Gabrielson, general manager at EA game developer DICE, read. "You’ve seen this with both the major adjustments, and polish, we have made over the past several weeks.

"But as we approach the worldwide launch, it’s clear that many of you feel there are still challenges in the design. We’ve heard the concerns about potentially giving players unfair advantages. And we’ve heard that this is overshadowing an otherwise great game. This was never our intention. Sorry we didn’t get this right.

"We hear you loud and clear, so we’re turning off all in-game purchases. We will now spend more time listening, adjusting, balancing and tuning. This means that the option to purchase crystals in the game is now offline, and all progression will be earned through gameplay. The ability to purchase crystals in-game will become available at a later date, only after we’ve made changes to the game. We’ll share more details as we work through this."

Publishers are in it for the money and not altruism! The majority of shareholders have zero interest in the fans. However, I suspect Disney was instrumental in EA’s decision to remove microtransactions until after The Last Jedi is in cinemas.

In the wake of this news, will you be buying Star Wars Battlefront II? Let me know in the comments below.

Thursday 16 November 2017

Are microtransactions the dark side of gaming?

Matt Charlton delves deeper into the issue of loot boxes and microtransactions in the wake of the controversy surrounding Star Wars Battlefront II. Suggesting many gamers (myself included) may look to a resurgent Nintendo and its storied franchises this holiday season and beyond.

Guest post by Matt Charlton

Microtransactions have the potential to destroy this industry if they carry on the way they’re going!

Games used to be £30. You got everything. Recently, games were £50. £70 if you wanted everything.

Now, you get something for £50. More for £70 and everything else is a perpetual business model with moving goalposts.

Not to mention they will turn off the servers at some point. Probably in less than 5 years. At which point your £1500 on microtransactions is thrown in the bin.

I don’t like this direction and it’s putting me off investing in AAA titles on both the Xbox One and PS4.

I’d rather play on the Nintendo Switch now. Super Mario Odyssey was a masterpiece and a wonderful playthrough, which is still giving even after completing the main story. The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild is a beast that I’ve still only just scratched the surface of.

Mario Kart 8 Deluxe is great and with the addition of Rocket League, yesterday, Nintendo Switch is rapidly becoming a wonderful platform and a haven for avid video gamers of all ages and abilities.

DLC is fine. A pain, sometimes especially if it’s on a disc, but it’s fine.

Microtransactions for skins and shiny things that don’t really affect anything other than aesthetics, bearable.

Buying your way up a power and ability track with loot crates is a cancer and it needs to be taken out of premium games. It has no place in the industry and gamers are starting to revolt.

Hopefully, they will go away.

How do you feel about the state of microtransactions and an aggressive approach by some publishers? Let me know in the comments below.

Wednesday 15 November 2017

Social media outrage over Star Wars Battlefront II

As a lifelong Star Wars fan and avid video gamer since the Atari age, I was excited about Star Wars Battlefront II in the lead-up to the release of Star Wars: The Last Jedi.

2015's franchise reboot was terrific fun and the notion of the sequel's single-player campaign from the perspective of the Empire, set in Return of the Jedi, was compelling.

However, the online controversy surrounding loot boxes and pay-to-win has extinguished that excitement to the point of cancelling a pre-order for Xbox One.

Whilst I own a PS4, I opted for the Xbox One version as it will be enhanced for Xbox One X. Space battles in 4K? Don't mind if I do. Well, actually I do mind if loot boxes and pay-to-win are involved. Star Wars Battlefront II purportedly costs £1,600 to unlock everything. The whole issue has left me yearning for the halcyon days of LucasArts...

Maybe I'll play the game on EA Access if I decide to resubscribe. This has not been a banner year for the publisher. Battlefront only adds salt to the wound in the wake of Mass Effect's hiatus.

Are you getting Star Wars Battlefront II? Let me know in the comments below.

Tuesday 14 November 2017

Amazon announces prequel to The Lord of the Rings

In the wake of Disney announcing a live-action Star Wars series for its upcoming streaming service. Amazon has inked a deal to create a $250 million dollar prequel series to The Lord of the Rings with the option of a further spin-off.

“The Lord of the Rings is a cultural phenomenon that has captured the imagination of generations of fans through literature and the big screen,” said Sharon Tal Yguado, head of scripted series at Amazon Studios. “We are ... thrilled to be taking The Lord of the Rings fans on a new epic journey in Middle Earth.”

According to The Hollywood Reporter, Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos is searching for the next Game of Thrones. The Lord of the Rings is a good fit and mitigates risk with a pre-existing storied franchise.

“We are delighted that Amazon, with its longstanding commitment to literature, is the home of the first-ever multi-season television series for The Lord of the Rings,” said Matt Galsor, a representative for the Tolkien Estate and Trust and HarperCollins.

The Lord of the Rings has held me in its thrall since seeing Ralph Bakshi's animated adaptation in 1978. This was followed by Brian Sibley's lauded audio adaptation for BBC Radio 4 and most recently Peter Jackson's live-action trilogy. The Hobbit was, frankly, stretched too thinly and I've no interest in rewatching. If anything, I hope Amazon will retain the services of composer Howard Shore for its upcoming series.

Are you excited to see a prequel to The Lord of the Rings? Let me know in the comments below.

Monday 13 November 2017

Win The Doctors: The William Hartnell Years on DVD

William Hartnell is the original Doctor Who and fans first embarked on an adventure aboard the TARDIS in An Unearthly Child on 23rd November 1963.

This year's Christmas special, Twice Upon a Time, sees David Bradley (Harry Potter) reprise Hartnell's iconic role in Peter Capaldi's regeneration story witnessing the debut of Jodie Whittaker as the first female Doctor Who. So, this is a timely release.

The Doctors: The William Hartnell Years features the most comprehensive collection of interviews with the actors and creators who brought the world of Doctor Who to life.

- Includes a special tribute to WILLIAM HARTNELL (the First Doctor), containing messages from a host of stars and production staff from Doctor Who.
- Presented by voice of the Daleks Nicholas Briggs.
- This double DVD also features the best in-depth interviews ever undertaken with Carole Ann Ford (Susan), Jacqueline Hill (Barbara), William Russell (Ian), Peter Purves (Steven) and Jackie Lane (Dodo).
- This 2 DISC special collector's edition is 5 hours of pure nostalgia, which will give you a whole new insight into the making of Doctor Who.
- Includes special introduction by Nicholas Briggs & Producer Keith Barnfather.

To celebrate the release of The Doctors: The William Hartnell Years, we’re offering one reader a chance to win a copy on DVD.

To be in with a chance of winning, just answer this simple question:

Which serial was William Hartnell’s last as the titular Time Lord?

A. An Unearthly Child
B. The Tenth Planet
C. The Web Planet

Please leave your answer in the comments below.

The competition is open to UK readers only and closes Friday, 24th November. The winner will be randomly selected and contacted soon thereafter. Good luck.

Pre-order The Doctors: The William Hartnell Years from Amazon. This is an affiliate link and as such, I may receive compensation for any referrals.

Be sure to subscribe for future competitions.

Special thanks to Koch Media for supplying the competition prize.

Sunday 12 November 2017

Doctor Who fan film: Velocity

Since Jodie Whittaker was announced as the new Doctor Who, I've noticed a surge in membership of my Whovians Facebook group.

Subsequently, a US-based member, actress Krystal Moore, posted a link to her fan film, directed by partner Chris Phillips who has previously worked for MTV and The Guardian newspaper, that is clearly a passion project.

Phillips is a British expat and returned to his native Essex to record the 10-minute short film. Coincidentally, I have family there, too.

"By now, the world knows the BBC recently cast British actress Jodie Whittaker to take over the role of The Doctor at the end of this December's Doctor Who Christmas Special," said Phillips. "But, my girlfriend Krystal actually started writing our fan film with a female playing The Doctor quite some time ago. Our fan film, with the female Doctor, is rather successful [based on] the response."

Doctor Who Velocity: A Fan Special.

"The Doctor regenerates and travels back to the 1500s in a freshly renovated TARDIS, to save England’s first convicted Witch, Agnes Waterhouse, from a fiery death. Can she overcome the oppression of The Witchfinder General and save the women of Chelmsford?"

Filming of episode two is already underway. So, be sure to subscribe to the YouTube channel for further episodes. Moore mentioned that they're also working on an audio adventure for Christmas.

If you have a Doctor Who fan film you'd like to share, please contact me.

Saturday 11 November 2017

Disney to stream Star Wars live-action series

Rogue One: A Star Wars Story began as a live-action television series idea following the completion of the Star Wars prequel trilogy.

George Lucas stockpiled scripts created with Ronald D. Moore of Battlestar Galactica fame. Whilst these scripts were never used, Disney inherited them when the company bought Lucasfilm in 2012.

The Mouse House has ambitions to challenge streaming services such as Netflix and Amazon. What better way to launch a new service than with an exclusive Star Wars series? CBS All Access has seen success with this strategy by streaming Star Trek: Discovery.

Are you excited about a Star Wars live-action series? Let me know in the comments below.

Friday 10 November 2017

Rian Johnson to create new Star Wars trilogy

Star Wars: The Last Jedi isn't in theatres until next month, but director Rian Johnson is already hard at work on a new trilogy for Disney.

“We all loved working with Rian on The Last Jedi,” said Kathleen Kennedy, president of Lucasfilm. “He’s a creative force, and watching him craft The Last Jedi from start to finish was one of the great joys of my career. Rian will do amazing things with the blank canvas of this new trilogy.”

“We had the time of our lives collaborating with Lucasfilm and Disney on The Last Jedi,” Johnson and Bergman said in a joint statement. “Star Wars is the greatest modern mythology and we feel very lucky to have contributed to it. We can’t wait to continue with this new series of films.”

It's been a turbulent time for the franchise in the wake of Rogue One reshoots and directors departing from Star Wars movies. Most recently JJ Abrams, who successfully rebooted Star Wars with The Force Awakens, has replaced Colin Trevorrow on Episode IX. So, this is a mission statement from the Mouse House and its belief in Rian Johnson.

The new Star Wars trilogy will be separate from the Skywalker saga.

Are you looking forward to a new trilogy? What stories would you like to see? Let me know in the comments below.

Thursday 9 November 2017

First look at Jodie Whittaker as Doctor Who

Fans have had their first look at Jodie Whittaker's new Doctor Who costume and TARDIS.

The costume possesses a Mork & Mindy vibe and a knowing nod to the Fourth Doctor's scarf, which has a nostalgic appeal for fans (myself included) who grew up in the 1970s and 1980s.

Whittaker will be taking over the titular role from current incumbent Peter Capaldi this Christmas. She'll be joined by new companions Graham, Ryan and Yasmin played by actors Bradley Walsh, Tosin Cole and Mandip Gill respectively. Cole joins fellow Doctor Who stars Warwick Davis, David Prowse and Felicity Jones who've appeared in Star Wars.

Chris Chibnall, the creator of Broadchurch, replaces Steven Moffat as series showrunner.

Filming of series 11 is rumoured to begin soon for broadcast in late 2018.

What do you think of the new costume and TARDIS? Let me know in the comments below.

Tuesday 7 November 2017

N7 Day celebrating ten years of Mass Effect

The original Mass Effect trilogy began ten years ago today as an Xbox 360 exclusive and BioWare has teased a day of celebrations:

"This year marks 10 years since the release of Mass Effect. In that time, we’ve made friends, fallen in love, and travelled to new galaxies.

We’ve watched our community grow, as all of you shared your love of this universe, wore your N7 with pride, and told us stories about your Shepard and Ryder.

This N7 day, we’re celebrating how far we’ve all come together, and looking back on a decade of Mass Effect. Check back here next Tuesday, November 7, to see all the great surprises, offers, and giveaways we have in store as we celebrate #teN7.

Thank you for coming with us to the stars and beyond. It’s been a hell of a ride. We can’t wait to see what the future holds.”

On N7 Day 2016 I embarked on an original Mass Effect trilogy playthrough on Xbox One in anticipation of Mass Effect: Andromeda. All three award-winning titles were available on EA Access. Why EA didn't wait to release the bug-ridden Mass Effect: Andromeda until now speaks to the publisher's fixation with shareholder value and not creativity within the context of commercialism. EA's not unique in this and the approach has culminated in the microtransactions controversy of the past few months. However, I digress from celebrating one of my most cherished gaming franchises.

I was very late to the party, after winning an Xbox 360 S, and bought Mass Effect 3 in 2012. This was tantamount to watching Star Wars: Return of the Jedi first! A New Hope and The Empire Strikes Back are regarded as superior by most fans and critics.

So, finally, I began FemShep's hero's journey from the beginning. It would cement Mass Effect's status as one of the greatest space operas in any medium. Combining the Battlestar Galactica reboot with Star Trek and Star Wars to peerless effect.

I laughed, I cried and didn't want the story to end. Literally, sat feeling emotionally sick at the conclusion in the early hours of the morning. Because character-driven storytelling was front and centre throughout a hundred hours or more. And, for the first time, there was a disabled character, in a video game, I could relate to...

What are your Mass Effect memories? Let me know in the comments below.

Monday 6 November 2017

20th Century Fox fanfare before Star Wars: Episode IX?

Disney is rumoured to be in talks to buyout 21st Century Fox’s film & television properties! Sparking suggestions The X-Men will become a part of the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU).

As a Star Wars fan, I'm hoping this would bring the Fox fanfare, synonymous with watching the original and prequel trilogies, back. Star Wars: The Force Awakens was the first Star Wars movie, in the wake of Disney's purchase of Lucasfilm, not to include Alfred Newman's iconic music.

Fox fanfare before JJ Abrams’ Star Wars: Episode IX in 2019? This fan hopes so. But, what do you think? Let me know in the comments below.

Sunday 5 November 2017

Is binge-watching Stranger Things a good thing?

In 2013 binge-watching was popularised by Netflix’s acclaimed House of Cards reboot. Andrew Lewin and I discussed the implications of watching a series in a matter of hours, not weeks. Rob Wainfur, the founder of The Bearded Trio, revisits the phenomenon in the wake of Stranger Things and Star Trek: Discovery.

Guest post by Rob Wainfur

‘Fake News’ has recently been named the word of the year by Collins Dictionary, but I really think the word should be ‘Binge-Watching!’ It seems to be not only the in-phrase at the moment but also the activity everyone is doing. Is that an indication that we are in the golden age of TV? Well, that may be a debate for another article, but I want to talk about the activity itself and explore why it’s become so popular.

With TV on-demand being such a popular way to watch your favourite show these days, it’s no surprise that binge-watching has become a big thing. With a whole season or, in some cases, a whole series available to watch when you like and how you like, the temptation to sit down and continuously watch Star Trek: Deep Space Nine all the way through the Dominion War story arc, or finding out if Tim and Dawn will eventually get together in The Office, well the temptation is strong and the only dilemma is whether you devote the time to such a marathon?

For me, binge-watching is a rarity. Sitting down to watch more than two episodes of a one-hour show is a commitment, for me, and any longer and I start to have a feeling of guilt. That little voice inside me, just like the opening theme to ‘Why Don’t You?’ is telling me to switch off the TV and go and do something less boring instead. The longer I leave it, the louder that voice gets…

Also, if I don’t get that feeling of guilt when I feel I should turn my attention to something else such as another form of entertainment. Video games for instance. I love losing myself in games. The weird thing is I don’t tend to get that voice telling me to leave Skyrim alone after the third hour of playing. Is this because I feel like I’m achieving something? After all, even though I’m in a virtual world, I am completing quests, honing my alchemy skills or ridding the land of vampires. It’s all virtual, but my brain is satisfied with these activities. Watch TV for hours and the old grey matter starts to get twitchy.

The problem is that a culture has developed recently that being first to see something, read something or play something makes you popular. Social media is starting to dictate how I watch TV! I am being forced to binge-watch because of that dreaded word, spoilers! Yes, I know I can leave social media alone, but I just can’t! I run a number of websites and Facebook, Twitter and other social platforms are a fundamental part of my work. Leave them alone and the sites suffer. Therefore, avoiding these platforms is near impossible for me.

At the time of writing this, I haven’t started the second season of Stranger Things (yes, I’m the one). However, already I know the pace of the season, which episodes are good and where it dips and this was just from my Facebook timeline and an accidental dive down my Twitter feed. In fact, according to Netflix, Stranger Things season two has set a new record for being the most tweeted-about streaming show with a staggering 3.7 million tweets in just three days. With those kinds of numbers, you don’t stand a chance to avoid spoilers unless you binge-watch.

Binge-watching is here to stay. On-demand television has seen to that. Yet, it seems binge-watching is not enough now thanks to the connected world we live in. ‘Binge-racing’ is now a thing. The term coined by Netflix refers to watching a new season of a show within 24-hours of its release, and the streaming service actually says more than 8.4 million members have binge-raced shows.

This new trend is definitely not for me and for a few reasons. First, I like to savour the moment. I did binge-watch Stranger Things season one. Well, it was finished within three days. For me, that’s fast. But, after the final episode, I was disappointed. Not for the quality of the show, quite the opposite. I wanted more, to continue to be back in the eighties and enjoying the horror and innocence at the same time.

I’m diabetic, so when I have a rare sugary treat such as a piece of chocolate or a biscuit I make sure I savour the moment. I’m tempted to stuff the whole lot in my mouth, but I know I will appreciate the sweet flavours and get a longer release of endorphins if I just take my time. Surely this is the same with a good TV show?

Also, recent studies have shown that ‘binge-racing’ a show hampers your memories of the show and a second showing is needed to really enjoy the experience. Three days of Stranger Things may not classify as ‘binge-racing’ per se, but the reason I haven’t watched season two yet is I’ve decided to watch the first season again and I have to say I am enjoying it, even more, the second time around with an episode a night. I’m picking up on little details I missed the first time around.

I’m not condemning binge-watching! Everyone is different and so are viewing habits. But, it’s interesting to note how these habits are changing and whether we are being forced to follow to make sure we don’t get those dreaded spoilers. I even feel a little left out when I see my geek friends on Facebook are talking about the latest Daredevil episode and I can’t contribute. A small dilemma I admit, but still, it feels important for me as that is my community I like to mix with.

I guess ‘binge-watching’ is not a new thing. I remember ‘binge-reading’ being a thing when a new Harry Potter book was released. Queues of Muggles would be lining up at midnight to get their hands on the book as soon as it was released. I remember a news report in the morning where they interviewed some fans who said they had camped outside the shop, not gone home and read the book through the night so they could be the first to have read it. Surely this has to be detrimental to the enjoyment of the story and I wonder if the same can be said when watching TV? Do you miss out on savouring each episode? Soaking in the atmosphere or the biggest one for me, the anticipation.

Star Trek: Discovery is currently streaming on Netflix outside the US and is being released the old fashioned way, one episode a week. For me, I am so happy and relieved that this is the format they decided to go with. Instead of having a timeline discussing how the whole series went, now we are getting discussions on each episode and for me, it makes the universe you intend to be part of for an hour all that much richer.

I love on-demand TV. I could never go back to the way it was. The temptation is there to binge-watch and from time to time I will. Car Share season two was on BBC iPlayer right from the start and being only six half-hour episodes, I watched the whole season in one sitting. I loved it but felt disappointed afterwards that it was over. I could have let that enjoyment last over six weeks but like the kid inside me with a big bar of chocolate, I ate the lot. I should have felt happy, but instead, I felt disappointed. I wanted more. With entertainment becoming more on-demand should we be more disciplined? Is on-demand actually reducing our enjoyment of TV? With the world connected and seemingly wanting to share their opinions with the rest of us are we being forced down a road where getting a quick bang for our buck is the new way of watching TV?

How do you feel about binge-watching? Do you think it hampers your enjoyment of a series or actually enhances it? Do you prefer Netflix releasing an episode a week or all at once? Let me know in the comments below.

Rob Wainfur
Rob is the founder of The Bearded Trio website. A site dedicated to the works of Steven Spielberg, George Lucas and John Williams. He has no issues binge-listening to John Williams.

Friday 3 November 2017

Kathleen Kennedy teases the future of Star Wars

It's just over a month until Star Wars: The Last Jedi is in theatres and Lucasfilm president Kathleen Kennedy is looking beyond Star Wars: Episode IX, which concludes the current trilogy in 2019. Kennedy shared the following with The Star Wars Show.

"We're sitting down now, we're talking about the next 10 years of Star Wars stories. And we're looking at narratively where that might go. Future stories beyond Episode IX with these new characters. Rey, Poe, Finn, BB-8."

It's easy to envision a further trilogy and standalone movies featuring Rey, Poe and Finn. Assuming the beloved characters survive.

Book tickets to see Star Wars: The Last Jedi from Fandango. This is an affiliate link and therefore I may receive compensation for any referrals.

Which characters would you like to see in future Star Wars movies? Let me know in the comments below.

Thursday 2 November 2017

Darkness rises in The Last Jedi TV Spot

A new TV Spot for Star Wars: The Last Jedi premiered Thursday morning. It features new footage from Rian Johnson's upcoming sequel to The Force Awakens. Most notably Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill) aboard the Millennium Falcon, which is goosebump-inducing.

Book tickets to see Star Wars: The Last Jedi from Fandango. This is an affiliate link and therefore I may receive compensation for any referrals.

Star Wars: The Last Jedi is in cinemas 15th December.

Wednesday 1 November 2017

C-3PO in international trailer for The Last Jedi

An international trailer for Star Wars: The Last Jedi was released on Monday and it contains new footage not shown in the previous trailer.

Fans get their first look at C-3PO. The prissy protocol droid's golden right arm, which was red in The Force Awakens, has been restored. There's new dialogue from Rey, asking for help, and extra clips of BB-8.

This latest trailer, again, suggests Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill) is fearful of Rey (Daisy Ridley). Does she turn to the dark side? This is a long-held theory I've had since The Force Awakens.

I'm increasingly convinced Kylo Ren (Adam Driver) will turn back to the light side and join Luke Skywalker to battle Supreme Leader Snoke (Andy Serkis) and Rey in Episode IX directed by JJ Abrams. Maybe that's too obvious? Certainly, the new international poster suggests Rey's conflicted nature, which reprises Anakin Skywalker's journey to the dark side in the prequel trilogy.

Regardless, I trust director Rian Johnson with a sequel worthy of The Empire Strikes Back.

Book tickets to see Star Wars: The Last Jedi from Fandango. This is an affiliate link and therefore I may receive compensation for any referrals.

Star Wars: The Last Jedi is in cinemas 15th December.

Monday 30 October 2017

Did Adam Driver share a spoiler regarding Rey to GQ?

Star Wars: The Last Jedi is less than two months away from release and fans know very little about the upcoming Star Wars sequel directed by Rian Johnson. However, actor Adam Driver, who plays Kylo Ren, may or may not have let slip a spoiler regarding Rey's parentage during an interview with British GQ magazine.

Read on at your own peril, if you want to avoid any possible spoilers.

“I remember the initial conversations about having things ‘skinned’, peeling away layers to evolve into other people, and the person Kylo’s pretending to be on the outside is not who he is. He’s a vulnerable kid who doesn’t know where to put his energy, but when he puts his mask on, suddenly, he’s playing a role. JJ had that idea initially and I think Rian took it to the next level… You have, also, the hidden identity of this princess who’s hiding who she really is so she can survive and Kylo Ren and her hiding behind these artifices.”

Now, Driver's comment is ambiguous enough to pertain to either Rey or General Leia, Kylo's mother, played by the late Carrie Fisher. Personally, I can't imagine the actor was careless enough to let slip a spoiler of this magnitude so close to release without Lucasfilm vetting the interview. Afterall, he didn't disclose that his character Kylo Ren would kill his father, Han Solo (Harrison Ford), in The Force Awakens.

"When I watched the premiere, I felt sick to my stomach," the actor said. "Immediately, I thought I was going to puke. I was holding my wife's hand, and she's like, 'You're really cold. Are you OK?' Because I just knew what was coming — I kill Harrison Ford — and I didn't know how this audience of 2,000 people was going to respond to it, you know?"

Whatever the case, fans will find out this December.

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

Friday 20 October 2017

JJ Abrams to take Star Wars elsewhere in Episode IX

JJ Abrams is back at the helm of a Star Wars movie, following Colin Trevorrow's departure, and shared a tantalising glimpse into his plans for the untitled Episode IX, which concludes the sequel trilogy that began with the director's The Force Awakens.

In a recent interview with the BBC, alongside composer Michael Giacchino, Abrams said, “Well, it’s certainly something that I’m aware of now working on ‘Episode IX’ — coming back into this world after having done ‘Episode VII.’ I feel like we need to approach this with the same excitement that we had when we were kids, loving what these movies were.”

Abrams added, “At the same time, we have to take them places that they haven’t gone, and that’s sort of our responsibility. It’s a strange thing – Michael’s worked on things like ‘Planet of the Apes’ and ‘Star Trek’ and ‘Star Wars,’ and these are the things of dreams. Yet we can’t just revel in that; we have to go elsewhere.”

From the buzz surrounding Rian Johnson's upcoming The Last Jedi, Abrams has a tough act to follow with writing partner Chris Terrio.

Star Wars: Episode IX is in theatres 20th December 2019.

Thursday 19 October 2017

EA shutters Visceral Games and pivots Star Wars title

Following BioWare Montreal's closure in the wake of Mass Effect: Andromeda. EA has shuttered Visceral Games (formerly EA Redwood Shores), perhaps best known for the Dead Space survival horror franchise.

Visceral Games was working on an untitled Star Wars game, with Uncharted's Amy Hennig as project lead, scheduled for release in 2019 to coincide with Star Wars: Episode IX directed by JJ Abrams.

The reason for the shift in the untitled Star Wars project's focus is that EA feels it has "become clear that to deliver an experience that players will want to come back to and enjoy for a long time to come, we needed to pivot the design."

"We will maintain the stunning visuals, authenticity in the Star Wars universe, and focus on bringing a Star Wars story to life. Importantly, we are shifting the game to be a broader experience that allows for more variety and player agency, leaning into the capabilities of our Frostbite engine and reimagining central elements of the game to give players a Star Wars adventure of greater depth and breadth to explore."

EA, like several AAA publishers, is seemingly moving towards monetised loot boxes at the expense of single-player storytelling. For example, the upcoming Star Wars Battlefront II forgoes a season pass in favour of paid-for loot, which has left a bitter taste in the video game community weeks from release.

As a Star Wars fan, I was really looking forward to Star Wars Battlefront II this November. However, I've cancelled my pre-order for the Xbox One X enhanced title for now.

Is a fixation on loot to the detriment of storytelling in modern video games? Let me know in the comments below.

Wednesday 18 October 2017

Han Solo spin-off is titled Solo: A Star Wars Story

Principal photography on the second standalone Star Wars movie at Disney has wrapped and director Ron Howard took to social media to announce the title of the hitherto untitled prequel to A New Hope.

Solo: A Star Wars Story.

Fans reacted to the functional title with hilarious memes. It's no Han Solo at Stars' End or countless pulp Marvel comic strip titles. Ultimately, Solo: A Star Wars Story is in keeping with last December's Rogue One. And "Solo" sounds much better when said in the voice of Jabba the Hutt. Just saying.

The troubled Star Wars production witnessed the departure of directors Phil Lord and Chris Miller weeks from completing the spin-off. Ron Howard has a storied history with Lucasfilm and there's no reason to think Solo: A Star Wars Story will be a disaster. However, as a fan of the franchise, I would have welcomed a December, not May, release next year.

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