Friday, 20 April 2018

Dinosaurs run amok in Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom



The days are getting longer in the northern hemisphere and the summer blockbuster season, ushered in by director Steven Spielberg's Jaws in 1975, is upon us.

Spielberg's Jurassic Park was released 25 years ago and the fifth sequel, Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom, is in cinemas this June.

The final trailer has been unleashed as merchandise appears in stores. Mattel has launched an exciting range of toys and the Super Colossal Tyrannosaurus Rex is a worthy successor to Kenner's classic electronic T-Rex for the original movie in 1993.



Personally, I loved Colin Trevorrow's Jurassic World in 2015 and am excited to return to Isla Nublar. Are you? Let me know in the comments below.

Thursday, 19 April 2018

DisneyLife streams Star Wars Rebels on Star Wars Day



Star Wars fans can watch all four seasons of Star Wars Rebels when it streams on DisneyLife, in the UK and Ireland, from May the 4th.

It's a fitting way to celebrate Star Wars Day and for fans (myself included) to see the series finale for the first time as we look ahead to Solo: A Star Wars Story in cinemas from 25th May.

I've championed Dave Filoni's follow-up to The Clone Wars since the series premiere on Disney XD in 2014 and will miss the crew of the Ghost.

DisneyLife is available on various devices including Apple TV and Samsung Smart TVs for £4.99 per month with no contract. The upcoming Star Wars live-action series will be exclusive to the streaming service.

How will you celebrate Star Wars Day? Let me know in the comments below.

Wednesday, 18 April 2018

Steven Spielberg joins DC Universe after Indiana Jones



Director Steven Spielberg, whose Ready Player One is currently in multiplexes around the world, will be joining the DC Universe (DCU) to produce, and possibly direct, WWII-era superhero Blackhawk.

In announcing the film, Warner Bros. Pictures Group Chairman Toby Emmerich said, “We are so proud to be the studio behind Steven Spielberg’s latest hit, and are thrilled to be working with him again on this new action adventure. We can’t wait to see what new ground he will break in introducing Blackhawk to movie audiences worldwide.”

The screenplay for Blackhawk is being written by frequent Spielberg collaborator David Koepp, who was the screenwriter on Spielberg’s Jurassic Park, The Lost World: Jurassic Park, War of the Worlds and Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull. Spielberg will produce the film together with Kristie Macosko Krieger, under the Amblin Entertainment banner, while Sue Kroll will executive produce, under her Kroll & Co. Entertainment shingle.

In the world of comics, Blackhawk is a wartime adventure series focusing on the titular Blackhawk, who commanded a squadron of ace pilots also known as the Blackhawks or the Blackhawk Squadron. The squadron would battle the Axis powers, as well as more fantastic super-villains and war machines, such as the memorable shark planes, which could operate in water as well as in the air. While the team debuted in 1941 in the heart of comics' Golden Age, they’ve also been adapted to the modern era as a part of The New 52 and have spawned a well-known DC heroine, Lady Blackhawk, who joined the series in the late 1950s.

“It was wonderful working with the team at Warner Bros. to bring ‘Ready Player One’ to the screen,” Spielberg said. “They bring a blend of passion and professionalism to everything they do and have a tremendous history in this genre. I am excited to reunite with them on ‘Blackhawk.'”

Spielberg's next movie is Indiana Jones 5, starring Harrison Ford, for Disney's Lucasfilm.

Do you think the DC Universe could use some Spielberg movie magic? Let me know in the comments below.

Monday, 16 April 2018

Yoda's rumoured return in Star Wars: Episode IX



Master Yoda's surprise cameo as a Force ghost in Star Wars: The Last Jedi, a theory I postulated during Star Wars Celebration Europe, was a highlight of director Rian Johnson's sequel to The Force Awakens.

Once again the mischievous and beloved Jedi Master was played by Frank Oz.

The popularity of Yoda's cameo in The Last Jedi has spurred suggestions he'll return to aid Rey (Daisy Ridley) in the climactic conclusion of the sequel trilogy, Episode IX, directed by JJ Abrams.

New York Daily News broke the exclusive story:

“The success of the scenes featuring Yoda in ‘The Last Jedi’ were huge,” says our insider. If all goes according to plan, the sci-fi space sage will rejoin the series in spirit to mentor a young warrior played by British actress Daisy Ridley, we’re told.

“Yoda will again appear as a ghost as he acknowledges Rey's success and growth as a Jedi,” we hear. “The scenes are due to be put together later this year.”

Star Wars: Episode IX will be in cinemas December 2019.

Friday, 13 April 2018

See the Parr family reunite in Incredibles 2



The first sequel to Disney Pixar's Incredibles, ostensibly a fun riff on Marvel's Fantastic Four directed by Brad Bird, is released later this year and you can now watch the latest trailer.



Here's the official synopsis to Bird's long-awaited sequel:

"Helen (voice of Holly Hunter) is called on to lead a campaign to bring Supers back, while Bob (voice of Craig T. Nelson) navigates the day-to-day heroics of “normal” life at home with Violet (voice of Sarah Vowell), Dash (voice of Huck Milner) and baby Jack-Jack—whose superpowers are about to be discovered. Their mission is derailed, however, when a new villain emerges with a brilliant and dangerous plot that threatens everything. But the Parrs don’t shy away from a challenge, especially with Frozone (voice of Samuel L. Jackson) by their side. That’s what makes this family so Incredible."

Incredibles 2 is in cinemas 15th June.

Thursday, 12 April 2018

Tig Notaro is chief engineer in Star Trek: Discovery



Hot on the heels of Anson Mount's casting as Captain Christopher Pike in the second season of Star Trek: Discovery. Comedian and actress Tig Notaro joins the crew of the franchise's second prequel series. She'll be playing Chief Engineer Denise Reno of the USS Hiawatha.

Series showrunners Gretchen J. Berg and Aaron Harberts were at an official panel during the recent WonderCon, and Harberts confirmed the series is integral to the Prime Universe.

“The idea was to always be in the Prime Timeline. Obviously, there are questions and concerns and things that are different. Our technology is a little different. We have a ship that runs very differently. We are our own show in a lot of ways. Season two is really exciting for us. This is our opportunity to really show how Discovery fits into this Prime Timeline. We are firmly committed to that.”

He also teased that fans may see a uniform change for the crew of the Discovery. "Well, we bump up against the Enterprise at the end of our [season one] finale, and we know what kind of uniforms they wear. So, we will leave it at that."

Star Trek: Discovery's second season begins filming this month and is expected to air on CBS All Access and Netflix outside the US later this year.

Wednesday, 11 April 2018

Classic LucasArts Star Wars games coming to Xbox One



The latest edition of Inside Xbox was streamed live last evening (BST) and a major announcement for original Xbox backwards compatibility titles will excite Star Wars video game fans (myself included):

Star Wars: Battlefront
Star Wars: Battlefront II
Star Wars Jedi Knight: Jedi Academy
Star Wars: Jedi Starfighter
Star Wars Knights of the Old Republic II: The Sith Lords
Star Wars: Republic Commando

With the exception of Star Wars Jedi Knight: Jedi Academy and Star Wars: Jedi Starfighter, I've never played any of the above Star Wars games despite owning every popular console. So, I'll be downloading them ASAP.

These classic LucasArts titles will be available to play from 26th April. Xbox One owners need only download a game from the Microsoft Store or insert their original disc. For further information on this, Jade Empire, Red Dead Redemption enhanced for Xbox One X and the Xbox One Spring Update, watch Inside Xbox: Episode 2.



What are you looking forward to playing? Let me know in the comments below.

Tuesday, 10 April 2018

Anson Mount is Captain Pike in Star Trek: Discovery



Inhumans' Anson Mount has been cast as the legendary Captain Pike in Star Trek: Discovery season two, which begins filming in Toronto this month with Alex Kurtzman directing the season premiere. I can't speak to Mount's performance in Inhumans as I bailed minutes into the first episode (DC Comics' superheroes have me covered on television).

Mount will follow in the hallowed footsteps of Jeffrey Hunter in the unaired original series pilot, Sean Kenney as a scarred and mutilated shell of a man and most recently Bruce Greenwood as Kirk's father figure in JJ Abrams' cinematic reboot.

Season one of Star Trek: Discovery ended with the crew answering a distress call from the USS Enterprise under the command of Captain Pike. Season two is expected to explore Starfleet's infamous black ops division, Section 31, in the wake of the Klingon war ending. Is Pike the architect of Section 31?

Let me know what you think in the comments below.

Monday, 9 April 2018

Solo: A Star Wars Story channels Firefly in new trailer



Lucasfilm has released the official trailer for Solo: A Star Wars Story ahead of the forthcoming film's premiere at the Cannes Film Festival.

Director Ron Howard's standalone Star Wars movie evokes Joss Whedon's short-lived Firefly sci-fi series, which spawned a movie spin-off, and that's a good thing, a very good thing.



The Star Wars spin-off stars Alden Ehrenreich, Woody Harrelson, Emilia Clarke, Donald Glover, Thandie Newton, Phoebe Waller-Bridge, Joonas Suotamo and Paul Bettany.

I've got a (really) good feeling about this and its appeal maybe broader than Rian Johnson's divisive The Last Jedi now available for the home market. What do you think? Let me know in the comments below.

Solo: A Star Wars Story is in cinemas 25th May.

Sunday, 8 April 2018

Wakanda reunion in Avengers: Infinity War TV Spot



Avengers: Infinity War is in cinemas this April and marks the tenth anniversary of the release of Iron Man, which kickstarted the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) in 2008.

The latest 60-second TV Spot takes Black Panther, fresh from topping Titanic at the US box office in his own movie, back to Wakanda.



Disney is planning a marketing blitzkrieg to dwarf last year's Spider-Man: Homecoming. Purportedly the budget is $150 million dollars in advertising for the Russo brothers latest instalment that sees the Avengers team-up with the Guardians of the Galaxy to fight Thanos.

Avengers: Infinity War is released in UK cinemas on 26th April and US cinemas on 27th April.

Friday, 6 April 2018

BBC begins filming The War of the Worlds



Jeff Wayne's musical version of The War of the Worlds introduced a generation (myself included) to H.G. Wells' classic alien invasion story-cum-essay on cultural imperialism 40 years ago.

I devoured further adaptations including Hollywood's anti-communist allegory produced during the McCarthy era, Orson Welles' infamous radio broadcast from 1938 and latterly Steven Spielberg's post 9/11 take on an alien invasion. However, I've always lamented never seeing Wells' apocalyptic vision set in the Edwardian era. Until now.

The BBC has begun filming a 3-part miniseries in Liverpool, starring Eleanor Tomlinson (Poldark, Loving Vincent) and Rafe Spell (Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom, The Big Short), for broadcast later this year on BBC One.

Eleanor Tomlinson says: “I’m delighted to be taking on the Martians with Rafe Spall in Mammoth Screen’s adaptation of The War Of The Worlds. I’ve been a fan of Craig Viveiros’ work for a while, so creating this world with him at the helm is very exciting.”

Rafe Spall says: “I am thrilled to be a part of bringing this much-loved story to the small screen. I couldn’t be in better company with Craig Viveiros, Peter Harness, all at Mammoth Screen and of course, the very talented Eleanor Tomlinson.”

Damien Timmer, Executive Producer of Mammoth Screen, says: "Here we are, making the original and best alien invasion story for the BBC One audience - it doesn't get much better than this! With a stellar cast and some very scary Martians up our sleeve we look forward to terrifying large sections of the audience soon!"

Tommy Bulfin, BBC Commissioning Editor, says: "It’s fantastic to have Rafe and Eleanor leading such a brilliant cast of British acting talent in the BBC's faithful adaptation of H.G. Wells' legendary story."

Craig Viveiros, Director, says: “H.G. Wells' seminal novel has been adapted for the screen many times but it's always had a contemporary (and American) setting, this is the first version to be set in London and the Home Counties during the Edwardian period. Peter's scripts manage to honour the source material with great skill, but we aim to provide a thoroughly modern thrill ride for the audience, delivering an alien invasion story that will shock and awe audiences across the globe.”

Peter Harness says: "The version of The War of the Worlds that I wanted to make is one that's faithful to the tone and the spirit of the book, but which also feels contemporary, surprising and full of shocks: a collision of sci-fi, period drama and horror. There is nothing cosy or predictable about Wells’ novel, and that’s what I want to capture in the show. We have an incredible cast, a brilliant director and a wonderful crew - and I can’t wait for them to explode the terrifying story of the first alien invasion on to our screens.”

If The War of the Worlds evokes the BBC's nightmarish adaptation of The Day of the Triffids (1981), sci-fi fans of all ages are in for a terrifying treat.

Thursday, 5 April 2018

Rogue One screenwriter teases Last Starfighter reboot



Hollywood's obsession with eighties nostalgia reaches its zenith in director Steven Spielberg's Ready Player One. Now, Gary Whitta, Rogue One screenwriter, has teased his The Last Starfighter reboot on Twitter.



The screenwriter spoke to io9 to explain why:

"It’s always been one of my all-time favourites. It is a deeply special movie for me. In terms of movies that stirred my imagination as a kid, it’s right up there with Star Wars. Maybe because I was a video game junkie back then, but the idea that playing a game could be a magic ticket to a real space adventure, I just always thought that concept was utterly brilliant. The film is sorely underrated in my view, although it’s endured as a cult classic and every time I bring it up in conversation people seem to just light up. There’s a tremendous undercurrent of fondness out there for it."

I wholeheartedly agree with Whitta and will follow developments with interest.

Monday, 26 March 2018

Epic Games demos future of gaming with Star Wars



Star Wars has a storied history with gaming technology. From an Atari arcade tie-in for the original trilogy to the founding of Lucasfilm Games, which would become the defunct LucasArts.

For the recent Game Developers Conference (GDC), Epic Games teamed up with Nvidia and Lucasfilm's ILMxLAB for a fun Star Wars cinematic demo featuring Captain Phasma and First Order Stormtroopers created using an experimental code for Unreal Engine 4.

Tim Sweeney of Epic Games explains:

“Ray tracing is a rendering process typically only associated with high-end offline renderers and hours and hours of computer processing time, film-quality ray tracing in real-time is an Unreal Engine first. This is an exciting new development for the media and entertainment linear content worlds—and any markets that require photo-realistic visualization.”

Friday, 23 March 2018

Build Light Cycles with LEGO Ideas TRON: Legacy



LEGO Ideas has unveiled an official Disney TRON: Legacy Light Cycle set including 3 minifigs featuring Sam Flynn (Garrett Hedlund), Rinzler (Anis Cheurfa) and Quorra (Olivia Wilde), complete with identity discs. It's as awesome as fans would hope.



The playset began life as a LEGO Ideas submission from the fine folks at BrickBros UK and the finished set captures the look and feel of the original movie in brick form. The Quorra minifig is especially cool. Deservedly, Drew and Tom got to review their upcoming set early courtesy of LEGO.



The last LEGO Ideas set I bought was Doctor Who featuring the Eleventh (Matt Smith) and Twelfth (Peter Capaldi) Doctors and Clara Oswald (Jenna Coleman) in 2015. So, this will be an excellent addition to my desktop.

LEGO Ideas 21314 TRON: Legacy will be sold exclusively at LEGO stores and online (affiliate link) for £29.99 from 31st March.

Thursday, 22 March 2018

Annihilation to be shown in UK cinemas



Director Alex Garland’s sci-fi thriller Annihilation, currently streaming on Netflix in the UK, will be shown in selected cinemas later this month.

The director's follow-up to the acclaimed Ex Machina stars Natalie Portman and Oscar Isaac. You can read my spoiler-free review here.

To find out more and to book tickets visit Everyman.

Wednesday, 21 March 2018

Kratos returns in God of War for PS4 this April



Sony has another PlayStation exclusive hit on its hands with the upcoming God of War for PS4 this April. Previews suggest first-party studio Santa Monica has outdone itself. So, in anticipation of the latest instalment in the franchise, here's my God of War 3 review for PS3, which I never got around to publishing on this blog, in all its gory glory...

God of War 3 is more Return of the Jedi than Return of the King. For gamers (myself included) who remember playing Greek myths on the Sinclair ZX Spectrum, this is a wonderfully upscaled version of those ambitious 8-bit titles from the eighties.

Bayonetta, a darling of critics everywhere, left me cold [I've since become a huge fan in the intervening years and now own the original and Wii U sequel on Nintendo Switch]. Therefore, I was pinning my hopes on God of War 3 to reignite my thirst for the visceral hack and slash genre popularised by Dungeons and Dragons (D&D), Golden Axe and Devil May Cry.

It may be worth pointing out that I've never played PlayStation exclusive God of War or its first sequel - something I plan to redress once the remastered God of War: Collection is released [Never did get around to it. Because Mass Effect trilogy.]. To use a filmic analogy: I was about to watch Return of the Jedi without ever seeing Star Wars or The Empire Strikes Back. However, I had it on good authority that God of War 3 could be played without any prior knowledge.

Olympian video games have enthralled me since Gift from the Gods graced the Sinclair ZX Spectrum in 1984. Despite the generation gap, both Gift from the Gods and God of War 3 are epic revenge fantasies wrapped in the trappings of Greek mythology.

The player is plunged into the action as Kratos battles the undead to defend a female titan scaling Mount Olympus - much to the chagrin of the Gods. The frenetic pace, sweeping camera angles, aping Peter Jackson's The Lord of the Rings trilogy, and surround sound, induced a migraine and I was forced to put down the controller after only a few minutes of gameplay! This isn't a negative. It's symptomatic of an overwhelming opening sequence that the Clash of the Titans reboot would be envious of.

Death-dealing has never looked more picturesque than it does in God of War 3. The game's aesthetic is most reminiscent of BioWare's Star Wars: The Old Republic. To be honest, I'd, incorrectly, assumed that it was a BioWare release. It doesn't take a huge leap of imagination to see Kratos, himself, as a Sith Lord!

Much has been made of the visceral violence in God of War 3: from decapitating limbs to beheadings, in all of which you play a pivotal part. But, it's mostly operatic in nature and didn't disturb me as much as Resident Evil Code: Veronica - that game was the stuff of nightmares.

However, it's not exactly 'family-friendly' and I'd politely suggest thinking twice about playing this alongside a family game of Wii Sport Resorts! It's worth pointing out that amongst this melee, there's sexual content, too. The camera doesn't pan away, and you could find yourself fielding awkward questions from younger gamers.

This is the third act and has a satisfying conclusion, unlike most trilogies. For those of us who haven't played the previous instalments, there's now a compelling motivation to do so. But, I can't imagine that the franchise will end here. It's too lucrative and the PlayStation needs exclusives. However, I hope that the developers will allow Kratos to retire with dignity and serve up something fresh, exciting and worthy of the mantle.

By turns breathtaking and awe-inspiring, I was still left wondering if there could have been more imagination and less regurgitation applied to the development of such an auspicious title.

Tuesday, 20 March 2018

Constantine joins DC's Legends of Tomorrow



Constantine was a fun, if short-lived, series on NBC. Matt Ryan made the role his own and DCTV fans (myself included) were delighted when Constantine cameoed in Arrow season 4.

The character most recently returned in the midseason premiere of DC's Legends of Tomorrow, cementing the series' status as my favourite Arrow spin-off after its startling season 2 soft reboot into an unmissable time-travelling caper.

Matt Ryan is expected to become a cast regular for season 4. The CW has not announced a renewal, but there's every reason to assume it's a done deal. Good times!

Monday, 19 March 2018

Indiana Jones 5 begins filming April 2019



Director Steven Spielberg is currently in Europe promoting the release of Ready Player One. During last night's Rakuten TV Empire Awards, Spielberg confirmed he'll begin shooting Indiana Jones 5 for Lucasfilm in the UK:

“It’s always worth the trip when I get to work with this deep bench of talent coming out of the UK. The actors, and the crew, the chippies, the sparks, the drivers — everybody who has helped me make my movies here, and will continue helping me make my movies here when I come back in April 2019 to make the fifth Indiana Jones movie right here.”

Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull was the weakest instalment of the beloved matinee-inspired franchise. Here's hoping Spielberg can channel his blockbuster movie mojo and rejuvenate the iconic archaeologist at Disney.

Are you looking forward to new Indy adventures? Let me know in the comments below.

Sunday, 18 March 2018

Annihilation is a hybrid house of horrors



Director Alex Garland's follow-up to his claustrophobic sci-fi masterpiece Ex Machina splices together DNA from Avatar, John Carpenter's The Thing, Apocalypse Now and Alien.

Annihilation is a controversial adaptation of Jeff VanderMeer's award-winning novel, which I've yet to read so was free of any preconceptions. The controversy derives, for the most part, from Paramount's decision, in the wake of Mother!'s, directed by Darren Aronofsky, tepid box office, not to release the movie theatrically outside the US and China due to a poor test screening, and the director's reluctance to dilute this cerebral and profoundly ambiguous sci-fi thriller.



So, cinema's loss is Netflix's gain. Netflix completes a trifecta of streaming sci-fi movies day-one starting with The Cloverfield Paradox, Duncan Jones' misfiring passion project Mute and now Annihilation starring Natalie Portman and Oscar Isaac.

Annihilation is Netflix's first bonafide sci-fi classic, which will be deconstructed, frame-by-frame, by cinephiles for decades to come. It's a puzzling sci-fi thriller paradox best enjoyed sans spoilers. So, in the service of that, I won't say too much. However, fellow Doctor Who fans may recognise an indirect nod to Tom Baker's classic gothic serial Horror of Fang Rock.



From Natalie Portman's always compelling central performance as Lena, a wife in search of answers as to what happened in the Shimmer to her soldier husband, played by Oscar Isaac, to a sense of wonder juxtaposed with brutal horror. Annihilation's nuanced images, poetic musings and evocative soundscapes will haunt you long after the end credits have finished rolling and for that, I applaud Alex Garland.

Annihilation earns a deserved place alongside Arrival and Blade Runner 2049 in the Hollywood pantheon of thought-provoking filmmaking in an era dominated by bombastic multi-billion-dollar franchises. It’s available to stream on Netflix.

Saturday, 17 March 2018

HBO releases new images from Westworld Season 2



Westworld season 2 starts on HBO and Sky Atlantic this April. HBO's released new promotional photos depicting returning characters including Dolores (Evan Rachel Wood), Teddy Flood (James Marsden) and William (Ed Harris).



The first season, with sweeping vistas worthy of an IMAX screen, captured my imagination in 2016. So much so, I've rewatched it twice.

Spoiler alert for folks who haven't watched season one of HBO's lavish sci-fi reboot. The second season picks up from the climatic first season finale with the self-aware androids running amock inside the theme park and the Delos corporation struggling to reassert control over its creations.



Westworld season 2 begins 22nd April on HBO and 23rd April on Sky Atlantic.

Friday, 16 March 2018

Ready Player One sans Star Wars



Following director Steven Spielberg's surprise appearance at SXSW, and premiering Ready Player One to a gathered audience, Warner Bros. has released the final trailer. Dreamer.



Spielberg's upcoming movie is replete with infinite references to the geek galaxy of the eighties. However, the Oscar-winning director was unable to secure rights to include the granddaddy of them all. Star Wars. This I did not foresee, Padawan.

Spielberg has a storied history with the franchise. George Lucas, his friend and Indiana Jones collaborator, created the space opera and Amblin co-founder Kathleen Kennedy is Lucasfilm president at Disney.

"We couldn't get any Star Wars rights," Spielberg revealed at a press conference. "[We tried] very hard. They wouldn't give up the Star Wars rights."

“You could’ve called me on that one, Steve,” joked Rogue One actor Ben Mendelsohn, who stars as the big bad Nolan Sorrento in Ready Player One. “I built the Death Star, I’m just saying.”

With a 29th March release, we're on the home stretch and I'm watching a collection of classic 1980s movies referenced in Ernest Cline's original book. From Ferris Bueller's Day Off to WarGames...

Thursday, 15 March 2018

Shadow of the Tomb Raider released this September



Today Square Enix announced the final chapter in the Tomb Raider reboot trilogy to coincide with the live-action reboot starring Alica Vikander as Lara Croft in cinemas.

The 2013 Tomb Raider reboot came out of left field and was a darling of the critics and gamers alike. The first sequel Rise of the Tomb Raider, marred at launch by an Xbox One timed exclusive controversy, built on that robust foundation in 2015 and expectations are high for the climactic instalment.

Camilla Luddington (Grey's Anatomy) provided the voice and motion capture reference for Lara Croft in the first two instalments. Hopefully, she's reprising the role for the third time.

A full reveal of Shadow of the Tomb Raider is scheduled for 27th April. In the meantime here's a teaser trailer.



Shadow of the Tomb Raider will be released on Xbox One, PS4 and PC on 14th September. Pre-order from Amazon.co.uk.

Wednesday, 14 March 2018

"Why so serious, Wiseau?"



Last weekend I rewatched The LEGO Batman Movie on Sky Cinema and was struck by how cleverly it explores Batman's relationship with The Joker in stark contrast to the current live-action DC Comics cinematic universe at Warner Bros.

Coincidentally, Tommy Wiseau (The Room) has published an audition tape for The Joker online. Wiseau creepily distils several famous incarnations of Batman's ultimate nemesis.

Tuesday, 13 March 2018

SNL's The Mos Eisley Five: A Star Wars Story



Ron Howard's Solo: A Star Wars Story is in cinemas 25th May. In anticipation of the upcoming Star Wars spin-off, Saturday Night Live (SNL) has produced a new skit as part of its Cut for Time digital series.

In the Star Wars skit JJ Abrams, director of The Force Awakens and upcoming Episode IX, introduces a first look at the summer 2019 movie The Mos Eisley Five: A Star Wars Story, starring Mikey Day, host Charles Barkley, and Kate McKinnon.

Friday, 9 March 2018

Jon Favreau to write live-action Star Wars series



Actor-director Jon Favreau, who kick-started the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) a decade ago with Iron Man, is executive producer and writer for Lucasfilm's upcoming Star Wars live-action series.

“I couldn’t be more excited about Jon coming on board to produce and write for the new direct-to-consumer platform,” says Lucasfilm president Kathleen Kennedy. “Jon brings the perfect mix of producing and writing talent, combined with a fluency in the Star Wars universe. This series will allow Jon the chance to work with a diverse group of writers and directors and give Lucasfilm the opportunity to build a robust talent base.”

Favreau is thrilled to be returning to the Star Wars galaxy: “If you told me at 11 years old that I would be getting to tell stories in the Star Wars universe, I wouldn’t have believed you. I can’t wait to embark upon this exciting adventure.”

There has been a backlash, in the wake of the announcement, citing a lack of diversity. However, Favreau is an exciting choice and has been previously linked to the Star Wars sequel trilogy and spin-off movies. This is the guy who gave us Elf and an award-winning live-action adaptation of Disney's The Jungle Book.

The upcoming live-action series will be available exclusively on DisneyLife late 2019. Disney's streaming service was soft-launched in the UK in 2015 and is now available in Ireland before being rolled out internationally.

Favreau appears next in Solo: A Star Wars Story this May.

Thursday, 8 March 2018

Star Wars: Episode IX will be John Williams' last



During a talk with Jim Svejda for KUSC Interviews, award-winning Hollywood composer John Williams hinted Star Wars: Episode IX, directed by JJ Abrams, will be his last for the space opera franchise.

“We know JJ Abrams is preparing Star Wars: Episode IX now, that I will hopefully do next year for him. I look forward to it. It will round out a series of nine. That will be quite enough for me."

Williams, most recently Oscar-nominated for The Last Jedi, has composed music for the original, prequel and sequel trilogies. Episode IX would be the culmination of George Lucas' original vision and a poignant bookend to a stellar body of work spanning over forty years.

Williams' symphonic sound is synonymous with the Star Wars franchise, but Michael Giacchino performed musical duties with aplomb for Rogue One: A Star Wars Story despite only having a month or so to write music after Alexandre Desplat departed the spin-off due to a scheduling conflict.

Fans can hear Williams' Han Solo theme in the upcoming Solo: A Star Wars Story this May. Oscar nominee John Powell is composing the rest with a guitar-brass-infused score.

Tuesday, 6 March 2018

Explore strange new worlds in Lost in Space



Lost in Space should fill the void left by Star Trek: Discovery on Netflix this April.

Watch the first full trailer to see Will Robinson's extra-terrestrial Geth-like (Mass Effect) guardian - a far cry from the beloved 'bubble-headed booby' of the original sixties sci-fi series.



There's a palpable sense of wonder and discovery permeating Netflix's lavish reboot. Something absent from most Hollywood sci-fi franchises.

“Fans of the original show should know we maintain the core of what was special about that experience of watching that as a child,” series showrunner Zack Estrin said. “For new fans of the show, there’s a certain baggage associated with the title. ‘Oh, that’s that campy show from the ’60s,’ or, ‘That’s that movie from the ’90s that was… what it was.’ We are taking that core of an idea—the Robinson family is striving to hold together and survive in this incredible circumstance.”

Stream Lost in Space from 13th April only on Netflix.

Monday, 5 March 2018

Play arcade classics with Ready Player One



In anticipation of director Steven Spielberg's Ready Player One releasing in cinemas this month. Fans can play arcade classics Joust, Tapper, Sinistar and Robotron: 2084 on the official website. More games are teased.



"The film is set in 2045, with the world on the brink of chaos and collapse. But the people have found salvation in the OASIS, an expansive virtual reality universe created by the brilliant and eccentric James Halliday (Mark Rylance). When Halliday dies, he leaves his immense fortune to the first person to find a digital Easter egg he has hidden somewhere in the OASIS, sparking a contest that grips the entire world. When an unlikely young hero named Wade Watts (Tye Sheridan) decides to join the contest, he is hurled into a breakneck, reality-bending treasure hunt through a fantastical universe of mystery, discovery and danger."

Ready Player One is in cinemas 29th March.

Saturday, 3 March 2018

Warner Bros. reboots Logan's Run



Seventies sci-fi classic Logan's Run is getting a modern remake from director Simon Kinberg (X-Men: Dark Phoenix) and The Hunger Games screenwriter Peter Craig. This version of Logan’s Run will feature a woman in the lead role. Warner Bros. is hoping for another successful revival in the wake of Blade Runner 2049.

Like The Planet of the Apes (coincidentally also scored by Jerry Goldsmith), I saw the Logan's Run television series spin-off, written by Star Trek alum including Harlan Ellison, before seeing the theatrical original on rental home video in the early eighties. I wasn't prepared for its chilling dystopian depiction of a future foretelling mandatory euthanasia at the age of 30 (21 in the original novel) due to dwindling resources.

The original film centred on Logan (Michael York), a Sandman tasked with terminating runners evading 'renewal' by Carousel, who ultimately sympathises with the rebels and escapes with Jessica (Jenny Agutter). The movie's cliffhanger ending suggested further sequels, and I was disappointed to learn that none were made.

So, what do you think about a Logan's Run reboot with a female lead and who would you like to see in the titular role? Let me know in the comments below.

Friday, 2 March 2018

Detroit: Become Human arrives on PS4 this May



PlayStation exclusive film noir Heavy Rain (2010) remains one of my favourite games from last gen and I'm looking forward to David Cage and Quantic Dream's next opus. A neo-noir thriller 5 years in the making - it began life as a PS3 tech demo entitled "Kara".



Detroit: Become Human.

The latest PlayStation exclusive taps into the familiar trope of sentient artificial intelligence and its moral implications, most recently explored in AMC's Humans, HBO's Westworld and Blade Runner 2049.

“Detroit is by far the most ambitious title ever created by Quantic Dream,” said writer and director David Cage. “With this game, we wanted to push our limits by creating the most bending game we have ever made. Your actions have real and spectacular consequences.”

“Each story is almost as unique as your DNA,” added Cage. “It is the result of the choices you made — the minor ones and the important ones — because in Detroit, all choices matter.”



It remains to be seen whether it's more QuickTime (QT) events sans motion controllers, but I'm fine with that within the context of compelling character-driven choices and a branching storyline. It'll pass the time whilst waiting for CD Projekt Red's Cyberpunk 2077.

Detroit: Become Human is released on 25th May. Pre-order from Amazon. This is an affiliate link and as such, I may receive compensation for any referrals (at no extra cost to yourself).

Thursday, 1 March 2018

Star Wars Rebels 90-minute series finale this March



The series finale of Star Wars Rebels is 5th March on Disney XD. After 4 thrilling critically-acclaimed seasons, the crew of the Ghost face their final challenge in an epic 90-minute special.

In A Fool's Hope - Ezra calls in every favour he can to rally together a ragtag group for a seemingly impossible fight against Governor Pryce and her Imperial forces.

In Family Reunion – and Farewell – Ezra and team take drastic action to free Lothal.



Star Wars Rebels quickly stepped out of the shadow of Cartoon Network's The Clone Wars and became a fan favourite filled with guest stars from the franchise's storied history. From James Earl Jones reprising the role of Darth Vader to Frank Oz as Yoda. Bringing back Grand Admiral Thrawn (Heir to the Empire) was an inspired move, and the Ghost can be seen in Rogue One: A Star Wars Story.



What will you miss about Star Wars Rebels? Let me know in the comments below.

Monday, 26 February 2018

Red Sparrow director talks Battlestar Galactica movie



The Battlestar Galactica movie is still a thing 40 years after Glen A. Larson's space saga first appeared on US television in the wake of the success of Star Wars.

At the time in 1978, the 3-part Saga of a Star World was recut and shown theatrically outside the US. Infamously, it showed Baltar (John Colicos) being beheaded by the Cylons, which confused me as a child when I began watching the original television series on HTV.

“I’m working on that, that’s something I’m developing”, director Francis Lawrence (Red Sparrow) has confirmed in an exclusive interview with Coming Soon.

“I’m working on that with Lisa Joy, who is one of the creators of Westworld. The original series was actually one of the first sets that I ever went on. I remember being a kid and loving that show and they were filming near my house and my mom took me down there and I got to try on a Cylon helmet.”

Director Bryan Singer (X-Men) was attached to a cinematic reboot back in 2009.

Sunday, 25 February 2018

Rediscovering Yesterday's Enterprise



The season one finale of Star Trek: Discovery took us back into Star Wars territory, a Mos Eisley-esque trading post on Kronos, as the crew embarks on a daring undercover mission into the heart of the Klingon Empire, under the command of Captain Georgiou AKA Emperor of the Terran Empire, played with Machiavellian zeal by Michelle Yeoh.

The Mirror Universe story arc elevated the second Star Trek prequel into prestige drama and the season finale fell short of that deliciously dark high in the wake of Captain Lorca's (Jason Isaacs) demise. Whilst fun, it lacked the edge-of-the-seat excitement of the previous 4 episodes and the special effects weren’t all that... special. The Klingon fleet looked inert and in no position to threaten the Earth. That said, it did contain terrific character-driven moments, which are a hallmark of the latest spin-off, and a cameo from an actor fondly remembered for an iconic role in the original sixties series.

The bestowing of medals was absurdly out of place. The crew of the Discovery hadn’t destroyed the Death Star or did I miss something? And character arcs were too conveniently reset. Michael Burnham (Sonequa Martin-Green) is pardoned, but Georgiou remains at large.



I’m going to pause and reflect on The Orville. Fox’s new sci-fi series from Seth MacFarlane has improved immeasurably since the misfiring pilot directed by the usually excellent Jon Favreau (Iron Man). Whilst the so-called adult humour rarely sticks the landing, The Orville is at its best channelling Star Trek in a way that appears to have pleased some diehard fans more than the latest official spin-off. Episodes are pastiches of The Next Generation’s finest moments and oftentimes provide sobering social commentary on our times.

With the cliffhanger appearance of the USS Enterprise, commanded by Captain Pike and with the prospect of meeting teenage Spock, Star Trek: Discovery cements its status as a series I treasure week in week out, and for that, I commend the series' showrunners.

The search for Prime Lorca begins…

Friday, 23 February 2018

Watch the trailer for Alex Garland's Annihilation



Not satisfied with announcing and releasing The Cloverfield Paradox during the Super Bowl. Netflix will be streaming Alex Garland's Annihilation this March. The Ex Machina director's sci-fi thriller stars Natalie Portman and Oscar Issac. Both actors are synonymous with the Star Wars franchise.

"Lena, a biologist and former soldier, joins a mission to uncover what happened to her husband inside Area X – a sinister and mysterious phenomenon that is expanding across the American coastline. Once inside, the expedition discovers a world of mutated landscape and creatures, as dangerous as it is beautiful, that threatens both their lives and their sanity."



Garland has expressed disappointment at the studio's decision not to release Annihilation theatrically in all markets after a lukewarm test screening and a refusal to dumb down the trippy thriller.

Personally, the movie-going experience - outside of a Dolby Cinema - is increasingly subpar. From digital project foibles to cinemagoers incessantly chatting unless drowned out by a bombastic Dolby Atmos soundtrack. So, I'm looking forward to streaming Annihilation in 4K in the comfort of my own home. Popcorn at the ready...

Thursday, 22 February 2018

"Danger, Will Robinson!" Lost in Space first look



Netflix has announced when it will be streaming Lost in Space. This is a 10-part reboot of the cult classic sci-fi series from Irwin Allen, featuring music from legendary Hollywood composer John Williams, which aired from 1965 to 1968 on CBS.

Set 30 years in the future, colonization in space is now a reality, and the Robinson family is among those tested and selected to make a new life for themselves in a better world. But when the new colonists find themselves abruptly torn off course en route to their new home they must forge new alliances and work together to survive in a dangerous alien environment, light-years from their original destination.

Stranded along with the Robinsons are two outsiders who find themselves thrown together by circumstance and a mutual knack for deception. The unsettlingly charismatic Dr. Smith (Parker Posey) is a master manipulator with an inscrutable end game. And the roguish, but inadvertently charming Don West (Ignacio Serricchio) is a highly-skilled, blue-collar contractor, who had no intention of joining the colony, let alone crash landing on a lost planet.



After the middling movie reboot starring William Hurt, Gary Oldman, Matt LeBlanc, Heather Graham and Mimi Rogers from the late 1990s. This looks like another home run from the fine folks at Netflix! Lost in Space joins House of Cards, Stranger Things and Star Trek: Discovery as must-see television.

Get Lost in Space this April!

Wednesday, 21 February 2018

New Doctor Who logo revealed for Jodie Whittaker era



The new Doctor Who logo has been unveiled with a beautifully illustrated poster and trailer. The former evoking director Steven Spielberg's The BFG.

BBC Worldwide Executive Creative Director, Rafaela Perera said:

"The Doctor Who logo and insignia are the quintessential signifier for the brand. Our aim was to create modern and elegant designs that were anchored in the things that we love most about Doctor Who."

The trailer, including a snippet of the main theme, channels DCTV's The Flash and that's fine with me.



Official merchandise featuring the new logo is available at selected retailers. Do you like the new logo? Let me know in the comments below.

Tuesday, 20 February 2018

Murray Gold confirms Doctor Who departure



During Gallifrey One, the world's largest and longest-running Doctor Who fan convention, composer Murray Gold confirmed he's no longer working on the series. There has been speculation surrounding Gold's departure since Chris Chibnall was announced as the new series showrunner.

Gold has worked on Doctor Who since the series returned to television screens in 2005 with then showrunner Russel T Davies. He went on to compose music for 10 series with actors Christopher Eccleston, David Tennant, Matt Smith and Peter Capaldi in the titular role. From Rose to Clara's theme, he's produced an impressive body of work. There is no news regarding his replacement.

Doctor Who returns to television screens this autumn with Jodie Whittaker as the first female Doctor Who. The actress and co-stars, Mandip Gill (Yasmin), Tosin Cole (Ryan) and Bradley Walsh (Graham), were recently seen filming in Sheffield.

Friday, 16 February 2018

Ready Player One trailer has a T-Rex



A new trailer for Steven Spielberg's Ready Player One has been released and it brings the retro awesome. Oh, and a T-Rex from Jurassic Park!



The use of "Come With Me", from Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory, is inspired and poignantly speaks to Spielberg's love affair with cinema - a medium with which he is synonymous. Spielberg's latest sci-fi adventure evokes the director's Minority Report, which remains one of my favourite sci-fi thrillers, and not just because the protagonist is called John (Tom Cruise).

Rob Wainfur, friend and founder of The Bearded Trio, recommended I read Ready Player One. So, early in the year I bought the Kindle/Audiobook bundle in a sale and have listened to Wil Wheaton's pitch-perfect delivery on an Amazon Echo Show for that tech flourish. Plus, I can watch the trailers, too.

Ready Player One, starring Tye Sheridan and Olivia Cooke, is in cinemas 29th March.

Wednesday, 14 February 2018

Blade Runner 2049 art director joins Star Wars



Director JJ Abrams is assembling his team for Star Wars: Episode IX, which is believed to begin principal photography this June.

Blade Runner 2049 was a visual feast and art director Paul Inglis will be bringing his world-building prowess to Star Wars: Episode IX according to Omega Underground. Inglis has also worked on Game of Thrones, Skyfall and Prometheus.

The Force Awakens and The Last Jedi excel in the visual stakes and Episode IX could raise the bar even higher.

Very little is known about Abrams' final instalment in the sequel trilogy. The Force Awakens director took the helm in the wake of Colin Trevorrow's departure from the project.

Episode IX will be in cinemas December 2019.

Saturday, 10 February 2018

Is the Crash annual a Crash Smash?



Crash magazine, dedicated to all things Sinclair ZX Spectrum, was a staple of the 8-bit computing scene in the 1980s with its memorable cover art by Oliver Frey. I would pore over reviews and adverts for upcoming titles in the school playground at lunchtime.

Crash was soon joined by sister publication Zzap!64 when I was gifted a Commodore 64 in the summer of 1985. Alas, an Atari 800XL, the Porsche of 8-bit computers, remained elusive and something I covet to this day.

Rob Wainfur, the founder of The Bearded Trio, reviews the recently released Crash Annual from Fusion Retro Books.

Can it evoke the retro feels ahead of the release of Steven Spielberg's Ready Player One?

Guest post by Rob Wainfur

It's here! My Crash Annual arrived yesterday and it's everything I was wishing for.

I could have ordered the annual on its own but decided to go for the one with all the extras. Price is £15 for the book or £25 with the goodies. I really wanted that enamel "Crash Smash" pin badge.

The annual itself is of exceptional quality and the smell had that new annual smell. It instantly took me back to the early eighties when I would get a new annual for Christmas. The first thing I would do is sniff the pages. Memories...

Anyway, the book is packed with colour throughout and there are pages of reviews, cheats and... Well, you get the idea. It's a Crash magazine. I'm pleased to say they've not changed the format at all.

I was pleasantly surprised at how many new games there are for the good old Speccy. Did you know there is a new graphics engine for the Spectrum called Nirvana? It enhances the graphics and does away with the infamous Speccy colour clash. Modern games designed by fans now look like a top quality Commodore 64 game. It's worth checking out some of the new games on YouTube, I have a feeling you will be pleasantly surprised.

The other items in the pack were a 2018 calendar featuring classic Crash covers, another badge and a map of Ultimate's Pentagram illustrated by Oliver Frey. I can't recommend this enough. It may seem a little expensive but the quality shows, and I have a feeling that the book will become quite collectable in years to come.

Speaking of the book, it's published by Fusion Retro Books and I did not realise they have a series of retro books. There's one on the classic games company, Ocean. There's also one on the Commodore 64 and I've heard rumours there is a book on the way for Zzap!64 lovers. Stay tuned.

Graphics - 92%
Getting Started - 91%
Addictive Qualities - 93%
Value for Money - 85%
Overall - 92%

Thursday, 8 February 2018

Watch the first trailer for Venom starring Tom Hardy



Sony has released the first teaser trailer for Venom starring Tom Hardy as Eddie Brock. The Spider-Man spin-off, focussing on the titular symbiote villain, is supposedly separate from Spider-Man and the shared Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) at Disney.



It would be very surprising if Tom Holland's Spider-Man doesn't make an appearance. Holland can be seen as the beloved web-slinger in Avengers: Infinity War this April.

Venom is in cinemas this October.

Wednesday, 7 February 2018

Collider talks Star Wars with Rian Johnson at IMAX HQ



Collider hosted a 70-minute Q&A with director Rian Johnson to discuss Star Wars: The Last Jedi at IMAX HQ.

During the deep dive, Johnson discusses Star Wars fandom, the creative process and deleted scenes included on the upcoming Blu-ray disc.

It's fair to assume there'll be spoilers.

Tuesday, 6 February 2018

Star Wars trilogy from Game of Thrones showrunners



So, in addition to Rian Johnson's Star Wars trilogy, Disney's hiring Game of Thrones' David Benioff and Dan Weiss to create another new trilogy, independent from the Skywalker saga, at Lucasfilm.

“David and Dan are some of the best storytellers working today,” said Kathleen Kennedy, president of Lucasfilm. “Their command of complex characters, depth of story and richness of mythology will break new ground and boldly push Star Wars in ways I find incredibly exciting.”

“In the summer of 1977 we traveled to a galaxy far, far away, and we’ve been dreaming of it ever since,” Benioff and Weiss said in a joint statement. “We are honored by the opportunity, a little terrified by the responsibility, and so excited to get started as soon as the final season of Game of Thrones is complete.”

The Game of Thrones showrunners will be following Gwendoline Christie (Captain Phasma) and Emelia Clarke (Qi'Ra) into a galaxy far, far away...

What do you think about another new trilogy? Let me know in the comments below.