Wednesday, 12 December 2018

Kevin Smith visited the set of Star Wars: Episode IX



Director Kevin Smith (Chasing Amy) recently visited the set of JJ Abrams' Star Wars: Episode IX, currently in production at Pinewood Studios, and talked to Good Morning America (GMA) about the experience.



Smith's unalloyed enthusiasm is infectious. Star Wars: Episode IX will be in cinemas December 2019.

Monday, 10 December 2018

Bumblebee is much more than meets the eye



When a Bumblebee spin-off was originally announced many fans (myself included) baulked at the idea of another tired Transformers movie! Director Michael Bay had gone from a fun Steven Spielberg-produced rollercoaster ride with a heart to a cold, confusing, mechanical mess spanning 5 increasingly overblown instalments.

However, director Travis Knight’s (Kubo and the Two Strings) soft reboot returns to the fabled Generation 1 (G1) source: an era rich in nostalgia, lore and synonymous with timeless Spielbergian suburbia. The eighties, where Knight and this fellow Transformers fan came of age. It's 1987 when Rick Astley was number one in the charts and Michael Jackson followed up Thriller with Bad.

Now, as someone who is averse to spoiling things, the opening of Bumblebee evoked the sense of wonder this lifelong Star Wars fan had when seeing JJ Abrams' The Force Awakens in 2015. It's a mission statement that will transport fans back to the original animated series, movie and the hallowed pages of Marvel's weekly comic in a way Bay has failed miserably to do since 2007.

In the wake of familial tragedy. This is a Transformers movie scaled back into something entirely character-driven with shades of The Iron Giant and Batteries Not Included. In doing so, Knight creates a poignant prequel with a humble VW bug, Hailee Steinfeld is fantastic as Charlie who befriends the Autobot scout forming a relationship that echoes Elliot and E.T. in Spielberg's most autobiographical film, and Bumblebee becomes the best live-action film from the franchise...

Sunday, 9 December 2018

Full-size Millennium Falcon in Star Wars: Galaxy's Edge



2019 is a big year for Lucasfilm's Star Wars franchise. Director Jon Favreau's The Mandalorian is the first live-action series, available exclusively on Disney+, JJ Abrams' Episode IX concludes the Skywalker saga, and Star Wars: Galaxy's Edge opens at Disney Parks.

Disney Parks has shared the first official image from Star Wars: Galaxy's Edge featuring the Millennium Falcon, as seen in The Force Awakens and The Last Jedi, and Black Spire Spaceport.

"Grab your Co-Pilot, and prepare for landing. Behind-the-scenes look at development on Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge – coming to Disneyland summer 2019, Walt Disney World fall 2019."

Does this excite you even more for Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge? Let me know in the comments below.

Friday, 7 December 2018

Announcement and trailer for Avengers: Endgame



Marvel Studios has followed up a new trailer for Captain Marvel with a title announcement and trailer for Avengers: Endgame, the Russo brothers' highly-anticipated sequel to Avengers: Infinity War.

The trailer is accompanied with the message: “For those who have been here since the beginning. For those who have joined along the way. For the best fans in the Universe. This trailer is for you...“



Avengers: Endgame is the climactic conclusion to a decade-spanning story. If rumours are to be believed, it'll see time travel, the multiverse ushering in Deadpool and the X-Men, and the journey's end of beloved heroes as they attempt to undo Thanos' snap. The next instalment will be in cinemas April 2019.

Tuesday, 4 December 2018

A musical Box of Delights



Daren Thomas, friend and fellow Whovian with whom I attended the Doctor Who Experience (DWE), follows up his Christmas television post from 2012 with a review of the newly announced Silva Screen soundtrack release for The Box of Delights. Let's hope it's not so long next time, eh? Time and tide and buttered eggs wait for no man...

Guest post by Daren Thomas

Christmas is jammed full with its little traditions that permeate so many areas of our lives and go far beyond the putting up of trees, decorations or exchanging of gifts. It’s not all about guzzling down copious amounts of alcohol, mince pies or sprouts either (okay, well, maybe it is). But Christmas can also be a time for reflection, too. We are often looking back to the magical happy holidays of the past, especially when it comes to the television, films and music we consume…. Suddenly, regular Satellite channels offer Christmas themed programming 24-7. Whilst, the likes of Netflix cram a yuletide playlist full of treats that we all love to see time and time again, as the holidays draw near. Whether it’s an ‘Only Fools’, ‘Morecambe and Wise’, ‘Elf’ or ‘Home Alone’, we all have our favourites, that can often hark back to our childhood.

One programme is often talked about on social media, sometimes even as early as November! This is when many begin their yearly episodic watch of a classic BBC children’s six-part series from the mid-1980s. The Box of Delights is an adaptation of the book by the once Poet Laureate, John Masefield and it is a charming children’s fantasy adventure positively brimming with an old school Christmas feel from start to finish.

Our plucky young hero Kay Harker (Devin Stanfield) returns home for the holidays. En route meets an old Punch and Judy man, Cole Hawlings, played by ex-Doctor Who Patrick Troughton. Hawlings entrusts Kay with his magical box of delights, as he tries to keep it from the clutches of the evil Abner Brown (played with theatrical aplomb and relish by Sir Robert Stephens). Kay’s fantastical adventures with the mystical box is an utter joy.

The music used in The Box of Delights underpins the story perfectly, with its atmospheric Christmas themed soundtrack, combining sounds which echo so many other magical children’s dramas of the past. This is because the music is provided by none other than Roger Limb of the BBC Radiophonic Workshop. His work as an electronic musician has included stories for Doctor Who in the 1980s, as well as many other children’s dramas, like ‘The December Rose’, ‘Aliens In The Family’ and the stories found in the children’s programme ‘Look And Read’, as part of the Schools and Colleges strand.

This soundtrack has now finally been made available to buy via Silva Screen records, under the guiding hand of fellow Radiophonic composer Mark Ayres, who has remastered it for this wonderful release. The 50-track CD also contains Richard Harvey’s ‘Christmas Day In The Morning’ (a synthesised re-working of ‘I Saw Three Ships’). This music accompanied the dancing children at a special Christmas party hosted by the Bishop of Tatchester within the story.

The collection also contains an eight-minute segment of Victor Hely-Hutchinson’s ‘Carol Symphony’, performed by the Pro-Arte Orchestra. Its version of ‘The First Nowell’ is used as the theme tune and has become somewhat synonymous with The Box of Delights, being first used for its earlier radio adaptations too. The piece was issued as a theme tune by BBC Records on vinyl in 1984, but here the actual televised opening and closing themes are presented for the very first time. The original piece by the Pro-Arte Orchestra is finished with additional electronic notes, which eases us into the soundtrack for the story.

This CD has many highlights and from ‘The Time That Likings Are Made’ onwards, we are wistfully transported into the fantasy of the story.

Beautiful harp-like sounds not only rekindle the identifiable motifs from the theme tune continually throughout, but they also underpin the music in pieces like ‘A Mountain In Switzerland’, which accompanies Cole Hawlings enchanted departure from Kay’s house with the ingenious use of a painting on the wall. They also appear in the early parts of the track ‘King Arthur's Camp’. This piece nicely builds using medieval like percussion, which highlights Kay’s urgent attempts to escape the wolves and his journey back in time, where he fights them off with the use of a broadsword.

The piece ‘The Box Of Delights’ combines atmospheric electronic soundscapes which provide a mystical feel to the magic used by Hawlings. The music swirls as Kay whooshes into the night sky, escaping the danger of the wolves by using the box to go swift.

The more traditional brass sounds in ‘Towards Dawn’ herald the start of a new day as Kay and Peter wade through waist-high snow, where they witness Cole’s kidnap by Abner’s evil henchmen. Then, the later ‘Snowman’ provides a small fun lighter respite, as the children build a snowman before it then descends into a snowball fight.

‘Herne The Hunter’ takes us on Kay’s journey into the Box itself and his meeting with this mythical character. Horns and the drumming of hooves sound as the two become animated Stags in the wood, whilst a more uplifting electronic tune accompanies their second change into flying ducks. Finally, the ambient and echoing electronic water sounds follow them as they become fish in the river, whilst all the time being pursued by the wolves.

The upbeat jaunty synths contained in ‘Go Swift’, ‘In The Darkest Cellars Underneath’ and ‘The Spider In The Web’ have a familiar similarity to some of Roger’s work on the early part of the Peter Davison era of Doctor Who. Whilst the darker edged themes found in pieces like ‘Dreams’ and ‘Sweet Dreams’ may remind many of the fifth Doctor’s swan song and the sixth Doctor’s battle with Daleks in the creepy crypts of Necros.

Kay’s trip back into the past once again beautifully blends the more orchestrated feel with an ethereal almost Jean Michel-Jarre like synths, as Kay is magically pushed along the animated sea to the island to find Arnold of Todi.

‘Under My Hand’ and ‘Slave Of The Night’ both offer yet more unnerving synthesised atmospherics to eerie animated creatures of the night, as Abner’s plan is put into play and the climax of the story is fast approaching. Things are then brought to a close as we go full circle with ‘Home For The Holidays’.

For those interested in soundtracks, especially fans of electronic and radiophonic work will find lots here to enjoy. Similarly, the music has now, certainly for me, become as iconic as the adaptation itself. It simply is Christmas and it is both beautiful, very characterful and brimming with those little yuletide moments that send shivers down your spine. The CD is released on the 14th of December and is available to pre-order at all normal sites, as well as directly from Silva Screen. Go take this literal musical box of delights home with you this Christmas.

You can pre-order The Box of Delights OST from Amazon.co.uk (affiliate link).

Monday, 3 December 2018

Captain Marvel's new trailer on Monday Night Football



Marvel Studios will drop a new trailer for Captain Marvel during halftime on ESPN's Monday Night Football clash between the Washington Redskins and Philadelphia Eagles. Expect the trailer to appear online and here shortly thereafter.



Captain Marvel (Brie Larson) is channelling DC Comics' Supergirl in a new poster to coincide with the trailer. Despite the monumental success of the MCU, this is the first superhero spin-off fronted by a female character. Warner Bros. beat Disney to the punch with the blockbusting Wonder Woman starring genre favourite Gal Gadot as the titular heroine.



This holiday season is busy for Marvel Studios with a teaser trailer for Avengers 4, that sees Captain Marvel purportedly in a pivotal role in the aftermath of Thanos' snap, expected later this week or before year's end.

Friday, 30 November 2018

No festive cheer for fans of Marvel's Daredevil



This news isn't a surprise; no matter how disappointing it may be for fans (myself included). Marvel's Daredevil has been cancelled by Netflix.

“Marvel’s Daredevil will not return for a fourth season on Netflix,” Netflix said in a statement.

“We are tremendously proud of the show’s last and final season and although it’s painful for the fans, we feel it best to close this chapter on a high note.”

“We’re thankful to our partners at Marvel, showrunner Erik Oleson, the show’s writers, stellar crew and incredible cast including Charlie Cox as Daredevil himself, and we’re grateful to the fans who have supported the show over the years.”

The past few months have witnessed the cancellation of Iron Fist and Luke Cage, whilst the Mouse House has announced exclusive live-action MCU series for Disney+ under the auspices of Marvel Studios president Kevin Feige.

Netflix continues to bolster its acclaimed animation and live-action series with The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina and She-Ra and the Princesses of Power.

How much will you miss Daredevil? Let me know in the comments below.

Thursday, 29 November 2018

Family fun with Star Wars Galaxy of Adventures



Star Wars has always been about family. For me, it's a connection with loved ones living and passed away since the Skywalker saga began in 1977.

From 30th November, fans (young and old) will be able to enjoy Star Wars Galaxy of Adventures as part of a year-long celebration culminating in the final chapter of the Skywalker saga. Director JJ Abrams' (The Force Awakens) untitled Episode IX.



“With Galaxy of Adventures, we wanted to craft something that allowed parents to help their kids take their first step into a much larger world whether they were ready to show their kids the films or wanted to find new ways to explore the content,” James Waugh, Lucasfilm’s vice president for franchise content and strategy, tells StarWars.com.

With the launch of the Star Wars Kids YouTube channel, a new generation of fans can experience George Lucas' enduring space opera for themselves.

“Over the years, I’ve had so many of my friends who are parents tell me how much they wanted to introduce their kids to Star Wars but didn’t feel that their kids were quite ready for the movies yet,” Waugh says. “They wanted a way to celebrate the universe they love.”

Star Wars: Episode IX is in cinemas December 2019.

Wednesday, 28 November 2018

Director Travis Knight talks G1-inspired Bumblebee



With only a few weeks to go until the holiday release of Bumblebee, Paramount Pictures has posted a featurette and TV spots for director Travis Knight's highly-anticipated Transformers reboot starring Hailee Steinfeld.



Director Travis Knight on what the Transformers means to him. "I'm a child of the 80s. I grew up playing with the Transformers action figures and I grew up watching the animated series," Knight said. "Going back to my experience as a kid, Autobots were always cars, Decepticons were always aircraft."

Bumblebee merchandise is starting to hit store shelves ahead of the movie's release and the quality of Hasbro's products is phenomenal. Hoping Santa Claus will leave a Bumblebee and Soundwave action figure under the tree, just like in the eighties, this Christmas.

Saturday, 24 November 2018

Star Wars Scout Walker replica appears by the A38



So, I was watching ITV News West Country when a story appeared that I knew fellow Star Wars fans would be interested in.

A £12,000 full-size replica of an Imperial Scout Walker AKA AT-ST, which first appeared in The Empire Strikes Back as noted by ITV News West Country, has become the subject of a planning permission battle with Teignbridge District Council.

Landowner Paul Parker said he had hoped it would become a tourist attraction, much like the Willow Man near Taunton, by the A38 and added: "We wanted to try and raise awareness for Ashburton."

The AT-ST was originally built by Dean Harvey as a climbing frame for his daughters who are now more interested in owning a hot tub.

If you have a Star Wars story you'd like to share, please contact me.

Friday, 23 November 2018

James Earl Jones in Disney's live-action The Lion King



Disney dropped the first live-action teaser trailer for The Lion King during the NFL's Thanksgiving primetime game.



James Earl Jones, best known to Star Wars fans as the voice of Darth Vader, reprises the role of king Mufasa from the original classic animated movie with director Jon Favreau (The Jungle Book) at the helm. Jones is joined by a stellar cast including Beyonce, Donald Glover, Chiwetel Ejiofor and Seth Rogan.

The Mouse House resumes its live-action remakes beginning with Cinderella and continues next with Aladdin.

The Lion King will be in cinemas next summer.

Wednesday, 21 November 2018

Fly the Millennium Falcon in Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge



What Star Wars fan doesn't want to fly the fastest hunk of junk in the galaxy? Visitors to Star Wars: Galaxy's Edge, prepared for long queues in Disney Parks, will be able to command the cockpit of the Millennium Falcon and channel Han Solo or Rey in Millennium Falcon: Smugglers Run.

Scott Trowbridge, the Disney creative executive overseeing the Galaxy’s Edge projects, says:

“It’s a personalized intergalactic ride — live your own ‘Star Wars’ story. If you crash into a wall, that’s what you will see out the cockpit window.”



For fans who prefer a straight fight to sneaking around will be eager to draw their blasters in Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance. Not much is known about the new attraction, but it appears you'll be in the midst of The First Order repelling an attack by the Resistance.



Star Wars: Galaxy's Edge opens in Disneyland and Walt Disney World in 2019.

Monday, 19 November 2018

Hear John Williams' theme for Star Wars: Galaxy's Edge



Star Wars: Galaxy's Edge opens in Disneyland and Disney’s Hollywood Studios next year to coincide with the release of director JJ Abrams' Episode IX.

Oscar-winning Hollywood composer John Williams, whose music is synonymous with the legendary space saga, is composing new and exclusive music for Disney Parks.



Looking forward to Star Wars: Galaxy's Edge? Let me know in the comments below.

Thursday, 15 November 2018

Doctor Who Christmas special moves to New Year's Day



Following weeks of speculation, the BBC has officially announced this year's festive edition of Doctor Who, starring Jodie Whittaker as the titular Time Lord, will be shown on New Year's Day.

The Christmas Day special has become a holiday staple since 2005 when David Tennant took over from Christopher Eccleston. The specials have been a mixed assortment of festive treats, but standouts include The Next Doctor, A Christmas Carol guest starring Sir Michael Gambon and Katherine Jenkins, The Snowmen and Last Christmas.

"We're thrilled to be starting the New Year with a bang on BBC One," said showrunner Chris Chibnall, who promised audiences "an action-packed, hour-long special adventure for all the family."

Charlotte Moore, the BBC's director of content, said: "We're delighted the Doctor and her companions will be welcoming BBC One audiences into 2019 with this exciting new episode."

The official synopsis for the New Year's Day special has been released:

“As the New Year begins, a terrifying evil is stirring from across the centuries of Earth’s history. As the Doctor, Ryan, Graham and Yaz return home, will they be able to overcome the threat to planet Earth?”

Will you miss Doctor Who on Christmas Day? Let me know in the comments below.

Wednesday, 14 November 2018

Alita: Battle Angel enters the fray in new trailer



Alita: Battle Angel has been in development by director James Cameron (Avatar) for decades. Finally, fans of the original manga will be able to see the iconic character, brought to life by actress Rosa Salazar and the wizards of Weta, in action on the big screen next February.



Twentieth Century Fox, currently in the process of being acquired by Disney, wisely moved Alita: Battle Angel away from an overcrowded holiday season thus avoiding a Christmas clash with both Bumblebee and Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse.

Robert Rodriguez (Sin City) is at the helm with Cameron producing as he's currently steeped in pre-production on multiple Avatar sequels.

Tuesday, 13 November 2018

Marvel's superhero Stan Lee passed away. 'Nuff said.



Earlier this year Spider-Man co-creator Steve Ditko passed away. Yesterday, fellow Spider-Man co-creator and arguably the 'face' of Marvel, Stan Lee, died at the age of 95.

I don't recall the first time I saw the Spider-Man animated series, but it was enough of an influence on my nascent imagination that, much to my late mum's horror, aged 3 I climbed out of a bedroom window and onto a glass conservatory to channel Peter Parker.



Lee leaves behind an enduring legacy of superheroes. From Ant-Man to Thor. However, most importantly an ideology predicated on selflessness and a celebration of life in all its rich diversity.

In my teens, I sought solace in the flawed X-Men. They became a metaphor for disability, something I was struggling with in the wake of a life-changing childhood trauma and PTSD, and I wanted to be Cyclops. How I envied actor James Marsden in director Bryan Singer's X-Men that foreshadowed the triumphant Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) about to enter Phase 4.



Whilst I never got to meet 'The Man' himself, I was humbled earlier this year when his official website linked to this very blog. So much so, I thought I was seeing things and it was wishful thinking on the part of this lifelong Marvelite. Beyond poignant and with heartfelt thanks from this true believer!

Lee was a master marketer and nothing exemplifies this more than his countless cameos in Marvel films and television series. He wrapped cameos for Captain Marvel, Avengers 4 and Spider-Man: Far From Home, and most recently appeared in DC Comics' Teen Titans Go! Back in 1995, Stan Lee talked to Conan about his 50 years in comic books.



It's impossible to overstate Lee's influence on popular culture, and he'll always be the George Lucas of superhero storytelling for many fans (myself included).

Excelsior! RIP Stan Lee.

How did Stan Lee impact your life? Let me know in the comments below.

Monday, 12 November 2018

The toys are back in town in Toy Story 4 teaser trailer



Disney has released a teaser trailer for Pixar's Toy Story 4. All the nostalgia feels.



“Like most people, I assumed that ‘Toy Story 3’ was the end of the story,” said director Josh Cooley. “And it was the end of Woody’s story with Andy. But just like in life, every ending is a new beginning. Woody now being in a new room, with new toys, and a new kid, was something we have never seen before. The questions of what that would be like became the beginning of an entertaining story worth exploring.”

Toy Story 4 will be in cinemas summer 2019.

Are you excited to see Woody, Buzz and friends on a new adventure? Let me know in the comments below.

Saturday, 10 November 2018

ILM TV founded for Star Wars live-action series



Lucasfilm division Industrial Light & Magic (ILM), famed for its pioneering visual effects work on the original Star Wars trilogy, has founded ILM TV for streaming and episodic content. ILM TV's first foray will be Jon Favreau's The Mandalorian Star Wars live-action series for Disney+.

“It’s not often you get to create a new division at Industrial Light & Magic,” said Rob Bredow, executive creative director and head of ILM, “We are seeing a real convergence in our creative approach used on films and in our immersive entertainment division ILMxLAB, and now we’re proud to be able to offer these ILM innovations in a way that’s suitable for streaming and television work to creatives around the world.”

ILM produced visual effects for The Young Indiana Jones Chronicles, developing techniques that would be utilised on the Star Wars prequels.

“We are extremely excited to be re-igniting ILM’s involvement in this market,” said Hayden Jones. “The television and streaming segments have grown exponentially in recent years and we are seeing substantial demand for high caliber visual effects that can be delivered on schedule and within budget.”

Presumably, ILM TV will also work on the Marvel live-action series for Disney+, too.

Friday, 9 November 2018

Cassian Andor live-action Star Wars series for Disney+



Disney+, the Mouse House’s streaming service launching in 2019, adds another live-action Star Wars series. Announced by Disney CEO Bob Iger, the series will focus on Rogue One spy Cassian Andor with Diego Luna reprising the role so beloved by fans.

“Going back to the Star Wars universe is very special for me,” said Luna. “I have so many memories of the great work we did together and the relationships I made throughout the journey. We have a fantastic adventure ahead of us, and this new exciting format will give us the chance to explore this character more deeply.”

Like director Jon Favreau's The Mandalorian, the Cassian Andor series will be set between events in the Star Wars movies and could see familiar faces return including Saw Gerrera and Ahsoka Tano.



Disney+ will be a direct-to-consumer treasure trove of new and archival delights, the Walt Disney company has a rich storied history spanning decades, when it launches backed by exclusive Marvel, Pixar and Star Wars content.

Excited for the Cassian Andor series? Let me know in the comments below.

Monday, 5 November 2018

Kevin Feige outlines streaming plans for Marvel Studios



Following news that The Winter Soldier and Falcon will have their own exclusive series on Disney's upcoming streaming service (predicated to be called Disney Play). Marvel Studios president Kevin Feige outlined his vision for the streaming service:

“Well, it’s not a hundred percent complete yet, so there’s only so much I’m allowed to say, or so much they even tell me. But Paul [Greengrass] mentioned the streaming service, and I think that is something that we’re going to be adding content to, which is exciting. I love your analogy with the campfire, right? As many people as you can get around the campfire and tell stories. Campfires can be different: We are going to tell stories for the streaming service that we wouldn’t be able to tell in a theatrical experience — a longer-form narrative, that’s what comics are, it’s about as longform a narrative as exists. But also maintaining that theatrical experience, which is our bread and butter, and the lines around the block, if you’re lucky.”

It does appear the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) spin-offs on Disney's platform will be directly connected to the big screen movies, unlike the Netflix Marvel series.

Friday, 2 November 2018

The Winter Soldier and Falcon to get streaming series



As Netflix cancels Marvel's Iron Fist and Luke Cage, The Winter Soldier and Falcon are set to join Loki and Scarlet Witch with their own limited-run series on Disney's upcoming streaming service.

There's no news regarding Sebastian Stan and Anthony Mackie reprising their respective big screen roles. But, given Marvel Studios president Kevin Feige is overseeing the in-house Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) spin-offs, it would be no surprise and Disney has the financial firepower to maintain continuity.

Whilst it's tempting to suggest Disney's ultimate ambition is to have all its content on one platform. The Netflix Marvel deal is more nuanced and was inked in 2013. Therefore, Daredevil could continue on Netflix indefinitely. Of all the series, Daredevil was the first and best. The others were dour and a chore to watch. Netflix does have exclusive distribution deals with CBS All Access and DC Unlimited (outside the US) but is wisely investing in more original series including The Haunting of Hill House and Chilling Adventures of Sabrina. The latter is a savvy and twisted reimagining from Greg Berlanti, that owes little to the Nickelodeon sitcom Sabrina the Teenage Witch, and may become this generation's Buffy the Vampire Slayer.

Variety reports the new streaming service is known internally as Disney Play. If Disney Play is used, presumably DisneyLife will be rebranded to avoid any confusion and align the brand.

DisneyLife has struggled to gain an audience in the UK & Ireland since launching in 2015. I didn't consider subscribing until last Christmas when an app for Samsung Smart TVs was released. However, the global rollout of the streaming service in 2019 will be bolstered by exclusive Marvel and Star Wars live-action spin-offs. That may be more than enough reason for fans of both franchises to sign-up.

Do you subscribe to DisneyLife? Is the streaming space becoming too fragmented and costly? Let me know in the comments below.

Wednesday, 31 October 2018

Sony announces game line-up for PlayStation Classic



Sony has announced the full list of 20 pre-loaded games included with the PlayStation Classic:

Battle Arena Toshinden
Cool Boarders 2
Destruction Derby
Final Fantasy VII
Grand Theft Auto
Intelligent Qube
Jumping Flash!
Metal Gear Solid
Mr. Driller
Oddworld: Abe’s Oddysee
Rayman
Resident Evil Director’s Cut
Revelations: Persona
Ridge Racer Type 4
Super Puzzle Fighter II Turbo
Syphon Filter
Tekken 3
Tom Clancy’s Rainbow Six
Twisted Metal
Wild Arms

It's met with a divided reaction from fans because the Japanese release includes Parasite Eve and Armored Core.

What do you think of the line-up? Will you be getting a PlayStation Classic this December? Let me know in the comments below.

Saturday, 20 October 2018

Netflix's Marvel superhero series to end?



Daredevil season 3 dropped yesterday and is already garnering rave reviews. The return of Wilson Fisk (Vincent D'Onofrio) assures this MCU spin-off remains a top-tier superhero series. However, Iron Fist and now Luke Cage will not be renewed.

In a joint statement shared by Variety, Netflix and Marvel Television say: "Unfortunately, Marvel's Luke Cage will not return for a third season.

"Everyone at Marvel Television and Netflix is grateful to the dedicated showrunner, writers, cast and crew who brought Harlem's Hero to life for the past two seasons, and to all the fans who have supported the series."

With Disney launching its own worldwide streaming service in 2019. The fate of the Marvel Netflix spin-off series seems sealed. The Mouse House has already announced live-action series for Loki and Scarlet Witch, starring Tom Hiddleston and Elizabeth Olsen respectively, and having all exclusive content, under the roof of the Magic Kingdom, would appeal to shareholders (if not the fans). That said, due to an historical deal, Disney has to share Spider-Man with Sony. So, don't rule out further Daredevil seasons exclusively on Netflix.

Personally, I unreservedly enjoyed Daredevil. Further interconnected spin-offs left me cold compared to the fun of DC Comics' DCTV multiverse.

What are your thoughts? Would you miss Marvel Netflix superheroes or welcome exclusive multimillion-dollar series direct from Disney? Let me know in the comments below.

Friday, 19 October 2018

Luke Skywalker will appear in Star Wars: Episode IX



Most Star Wars fans (myself included) will have assumed Mark Hamill would reprise the role of Luke Skywalker in Episode IX.

Luke Skywalker may have died in The Last Jedi but he can follow in the hallowed footsteps of Yoda and Obi-Wan Kenobi by becoming a Force ghost to guide Rey (Daisy Ridley) or Kylo Ren (Adam Driver) to their ultimate fate.

Hamill took to Twitter to reaffirm that he'd be appearing in director JJ Abrams' sequel and wouldn't be answering any questions. Because spoilers.

Carrie Fisher, who sadly passed away in 2016, will also be seen as General Leia in the upcoming Star Wars movie. In Abrams I trust.

Wednesday, 17 October 2018

The Star Wars Holiday Special inspires The Mandalorian



Jon Favreau teased The Mandalorian, his upcoming Star Wars live-action series for Disney's streaming service, with Boba Fett's weapon from The Star Wars Holiday Special's animated segment that introduced the infamous bounty hunter prior to his big screen debut in The Empire Strikes Back.



The Mandalorian is set between Return of the Jedi and The Force Awakens.

Saturday, 13 October 2018

Disney's live-action Aladdin teaser trailer



Disney's Aladdin is one of my favourite animated movies of all time from the Mouse House. From Robin William's inspired use of improvisation for the Genie to memorable songs and the classic 16-bit era video game tie-in.

So, I was cautious about a live-action remake. However, Cinderella, The Jungle Book and Beauty and the Beast have all been a delight and Aladdin, directed by Guy Ritchie, looks to continue the trend in 2019.

Disney's dropped a teaser trailer and the transitions reminded me of Thanos' snap from Avengers: Infinity War.



Aladdin stars Will Smith as the Genie, Naomi Scott as Princess Jasmine and Massoud as Aladdin. Marwan Kenzari will play the villainous Jafar. Aladdin is in cinema's 24th May 2019.

Friday, 12 October 2018

Emperor Palpatine has a rumoured role in Episode IX



Star Wars: Episode IX, directed by JJ Abrams (The Force Awakens), is currently being filmed and a new rumour has surfaced via the Express newspaper:

“Emperor Palpatine will play a role in Episode IX. Specifically, Kylo Ren with an ignited lightsaber, presumably his cross-guard lightsaber, cutting through a blast door on some jungle planet and entering what appears to be a vault. Eventually Kylo Ren is holding a square object that projects a lifelike projection of Emperor Palpatine. Palpatine’s hand is raised in front of Kylo Ren showing blueprints or plans that could be a new weapon.”

This is the final chapter in the Skywalker saga and a holographic cameo from the Emperor, played once again by Ian McDiarmid, wouldn’t be a total surprise. After all, Master Yoda (Frank Oz) appeared as a Force ghost in The Last Jedi. A longheld fan theory is that Rey (Daisy Ridley) is somehow connected to Emperor Palpatine or a reincarnation of Anakin Skywalker. We'll find out for sure when Episode IX is released in cinemas December 2019.

Thursday, 11 October 2018

Stormtroopers fan film screened at IndieCork Festival



Star Wars fans were able to see fan film Stormtroopers, filmed on location in Ireland, on the big screen this week.



Stormtroopers, a big hit with fans around the world, was shown in front of a full house in Screen 1, The Gate Cinema, during IndieCork Film Festival 2018.

Director Micheal Fitzgerald (known for Home & Away & Cork Racing Drive) was delighted fans had an opportunity to see Stormtroopers on the big screen in the wake of its deserved success on YouTube.

For further information, please visit the official site

Tuesday, 9 October 2018

Jodie Whittaker's Doctor Who isn't afraid of the dark



Jodie Whittaker's first full episode as the titular Time Lord, Doctor Who, saw the BBC show's highest ratings in 12 years, with a peak of 8.52 million viewers, and rave reviews from critics and fans. Such was my unbridled enthusiasm, I took to social media the moment the episode ended:

"Well, Jodie and cohorts smashed it! Life-affirming, not afraid of the dark and great to see a companion with a disability, which resonated."

The Woman Who Fell to Earth fell (pun intended) just short of Matt Smith's The Eleventh Hour as the best new era intro of the current run. The villain was more DCTV and I kept waiting for The CW's Supergirl to sweep in and save the day. That said, there were times when Whittaker's eclipsed everything before it and paid homage to a profoundly poignant scene from Patrick Troughton's classic serial The Tomb of the Cybermen in the wake of a death. Showrunner Chris Chibnall has revitalised the series, but not at the expense of its 55-year heritage.

Taking the Short View's Andrew Lewin takes a look at The Woman Who Fell to Earth. There are very mild spoilers, so consider yourself forewarned.

What did you think of Ms Whittaker as Doctor Who? Let me know in the comments below.

Friday, 5 October 2018

The Mandalorian first look



Just a day after director Jon Favreau announced the title and synopsis of his Star Wars live-action series for Disney's streaming service. Here's a first look at the titular The Mandalorian.



Dave Filoni (Star Wars Rebels) will helm the premiere episode. Other episodic directors include Deborah Chow (Jessica Jones), Rick Famuyiwa (Dope), Bryce Dallas Howard (Solemates), and Taika Waititi (Thor: Ragnarok).

Are you looking forward to The Mandalorian and will you sign up for Disney's streaming service (known as DisneyLife in the UK & Ireland)? Let me know in the comments below.

Thursday, 4 October 2018

Star Wars live-action series is The Mandalorian



Director Jon Favreau took to Instagram to announce the title and a brief synopsis of his upcoming Star Wars live-action series:

“After the stories of Jango and Boba Fett, another warrior emerges in the Star Wars universe. The Mandalorian is set after the fall of the Empire and before the emergence of the First Order. We follow the travails of a lone gunfighter in the outer reaches of the galaxy far from the authority of the New Republic..."

The Mandalorian is set between Return of the Jedi and The Force Awakens. With a budget of $100 million dollars, Lucasfilm's not pulling any punches with this exclusive live-action series bound for the Mouse House's new streaming venture in 2019.

The first time I wrote about a Star Wars live-action series was following the release of Revenge of the Sith in 2005. 13 years on and it's finally in production with shooting commencing this week.

Wednesday, 3 October 2018

DC Universe's Titans coming to Netflix



DC Unlimited's live-action series Titans will be available on Netflix outside the US. This follows a similar deal with CBS All Access to stream Star Trek: Discovery.

Titans will focus on a group of young superheroes including Dick Grayson (AKA Robin), Starfire, Raven, Beast Boy, and more. The series stars Brenton Thwaites, Anna Diop, Teagan Croft, Ryan Potter, Minka Kelly and Alan Ritchson.



DC Unlimited launched in September, promising exclusive content including Titans, Doom Patrol, Stargirl and Swamp Thing, and is currently US-only with plans to expand into Canada soon. The nascent service has entered an increasingly crowded streaming space with Disney about to launch its own with exclusive Marvel and Star Wars live-action series.

Partnerships with existing services is a good idea, mitigating risk and will mean many of us won't need to subscribe to yet another service. At least for the time being.

It'll be interesting to see how successful these live-action series are, especially given the popularity of DCTV on The CW.

Tuesday, 2 October 2018

Kathleen Kennedy remains at Lucasfilm until 2021



To the ire of some Star Wars fans calling for her to be fired, Lucasfilm president Kathleen Kennedy is set to remain until 2021 according to The Hollywood Reporter (THR).

Kennedy has an enviable storied history in Hollywood and is most famously linked with producing many of director Steven Spielberg's most successful movies including the Indiana Jones franchise at Lucasfilm.

Since Disney bought Lucasfilm from George Lucas, the studio has struggled to replicate the success of stablemate the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU). The divisive The Last Jedi and Solo: A Star Wars Story's relative failure at the box office has seemingly lead to a rethink regarding its movie release strategy. So much so, director JJ Abrams' as-yet-untitled Episode IX, which rounds off the Skywalker saga, is the focus whilst a live-action series, from Jon Favreau, will spearhead the launch of Disney's streaming service in 2019.

A new Indiana Jones movie, directed by Steven Spielberg and starring Harrison Ford, is in pre-production for release in 2021.

Monday, 1 October 2018

X-Men: Dark Phoenix moved to summer 2019



Just a few days after the first trailer dropped, X-Men: Dark Phoenix has been moved from this November to June 2019.

The upcoming movie has already been delayed due to reshoots ordered following a test screening earlier in the year. I'd suggest this time it's because of Disney's acquisition of Fox's film and television assets, and merging the disparate Marvel universes into the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU).



Jennifer Lawrence, Michael Fassbender, James McAvoy, Nicholas Hoult, Alexandra Shipp, Evan Peters, Tye Sheridan, and Kodi Smit-McPhee are all returning to the franchise. Simon Kinberg, who has produced every X-Men affiliated film since First Class and co-wrote The Last Stand, First Class, Days of Future Past, and Apocalypse, will make his directorial debut.

Stablemate Alita: Battle Angel has been moved from Christmas to February 2019. Most likely to avoid the holiday season stampede lead by Mary Poppins Returns, Aquaman and Bumblebee.

X-Men: Dark Phoenix is released in UK cinemas 7th June 2019.

Saturday, 29 September 2018

Doctor Who first look: The Woman Who Fell to Earth



Jodie Whittaker is in the midst of promoting the new series of Doctor Who following a red carpet premiere, in Sheffield, on Monday. A first look at The Woman Who Fell to Earth dropped during The Graham Norton Show. This is the clip that was leaked prior to San Diego Comic-Con (SDCC) and lead to a formal investigation by the BBC.



The review embargo for Whittaker’s first full episode as Doctor Who has lifted. Will avoid reading reactions and look forward to being surprised and delighted. Doctor Who series 11 begins 7th October at 6:45PM on BBC One.

What did you think of the first look clip? Let me know in the comments below.

Friday, 28 September 2018

General Leia in sneak peek at Star Wars Resistance



Whilst fans wait for Jon Favreau's live-action series in 2019, Lucasfilm has released an extended sneak peek at Star Wars Resistance from Star Wars Rebels creator Dave Filoni. The upcoming animated series sees Oscar Isaac and Gwendoline Christie reprise their roles from The Force Awakens and The Last Jedi.



With just over a week to go until Star Wars Resistance premieres on Disney Channel. Actress Rachel Butera, who voices General Leia, finds herself caught up in a controversy surrounding a video she posted (subsequently deleted) in which Butera appears to mock Dr Christine Blasey Ford, as the psychology professor gave testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee on Thursday. Despite a public apology, some fans are calling for the role to be recast.

How excited are you for Star Wars Resistance? Let me know in the comments below.

Thursday, 27 September 2018

Vader Immortal: A Star Wars VR Series on Oculus Quest



During this week's Oculus Connect, Lucasfilm announced Vader Immortal: A Star Wars VR Series. This is a collaboration between ILMxLAB, Oculus and David S. Goyer (The Dark Knight Trilogy). Goyer most recently wrote and executive produced Secrets of the Empire.

Here's what Lucasfilm president Kathleen Kennedy said:

“We always look for opportunities to explore the Star Wars universe in new ways,” said Kathleen Kennedy, president of Lucasfilm. “ILMxLAB is very excited to be working with David S. Goyer on a first-of-its-kind Star Wars experience which allows fans to travel to Darth Vader’s fiery, lava-ridden fortress and wield a lightsaber on his home turf."



“The very initial conversations around this project started three years ago, around the launch of ILMxLAB,” Mohen Leo, director of immersive content at ILMxLAB, told StarWars.com. “Lucasfilm was in production on Rogue One. In the film, the audience gets a glimpse of Darth Vader’s castle on Mustafar, which we knew would be intriguing to a lot of fans. This was also around the time that some of the first really compelling content for the Oculus DK2, the developer kit that preceded the Oculus Rift, came out. We recognized that VR has a unique ability to transport people to a fictional place and let them explore it. So, we thought, ‘Wouldn’t it be cool to let the audience visit and explore Vader’s castle, and have the opportunity to learn some of his secrets?’”“Secrets of the Empire really emphasized a sense of space and how you move through it. It also takes place on Mustafar, prior to the events of Vader Immortal, and it shows some narrative seeds of a storyline that connects the two experiences. With Vader Immortal, we really wanted to push connection to characters and narrative between multiple experiences. So you’re not just visiting an iconic place from a movie; you get to meet iconic characters like Darth Vader, face-to-face.”

Vader Immortal: A Star Wars VR Series, originally announced as the Darth Vader VR project during Star Wars Celebration Europe in 2016, is released for Oculus Quest in 2019.

Monday, 24 September 2018

Transformers spin-off Bumblebee brings G1 nostalgia



Paramount Pictures has released an official trailer for Bumblebee, starring Hailee Steinfeld, and it's pure nostalgia for G1 fans (myself included) featuring Decepticons Soundwave and Shockwave battling Autobot leader Optimus Prime on Cybertron. Surely Megatron will appear in all his G1 glory and transform into a Walther P38?



The Transformers spin-off is a welcome reboot for the franchise and sees director Travis Knight replacing Michael Bay at the helm. Like JJ Abrams, Knight is unashamedly channelling classic Amblin movies from the eighties as he tells Empire magazine:

"Growing up in the eighties, the most powerful stories were the Amblin stories. They had a thinking brain; a strong, beating heart; and a poetic soul. They evoked wonder and laughter and tears every single time. So knitting those two things together: my love of Transformers and my love of Spielberg and Amblin, was something I really wanted to evoke in this film. And it didn't hurt that Steven Spielberg was an executive producer on the movie! Having this guy who has been an icon for me my entire life and being able to collaborate with him and make this film in a way that evokes what was so special about those movies to me as a kid was a joy."

Bumblebee is shaping up to be the live-action Transformers movie I've always wanted since the animated series, movie and Marvel comic from the eighties. If Stan Bush's The Touch is played during the movie, there'll be tears of joy from this Transformers fan. In Travis Knight I trust.

Let's hope Hasbro has enough tie-in toys in stock because these are going to fly off the shelves. Especially as there's no Star Wars movie in cinemas this December.

Saturday, 22 September 2018

Jodie Whittaker in explosive new Doctor Who trailer



With just over a fortnight to go before Doctor Who returns to television screens, a new trailer for series 11 has been released and Jodie Whittaker leaves no doubt who (pun intended) is in charge.



Wrote this post for my Whovians Facebook group, but thought it worth sharing here as autumn’s reign begins and in the wake of seeing the new trailer with my dad.

Doctor Who has been a part of my life for as long as I can remember.

As I’ve written previously. My earliest memory of watching television is The Sontaran Experiment, aged 2/3. The time travel series would become synonymous with watching Saturday evening television with my dad during the Tom Baker era - igniting an enduring passion for gothic storytelling - I’ll never forget seeing Sutekh overpower our beloved Time Lord, a Zygon shape-shift or a disembodied Morbius threaten Sarah Jane. The latter almost saw the series banned from the Hood household.

In the wake of a life-changing childhood trauma, a collection of Denys Fisher Doctor Who toys and Mr Men books (now featuring the good Doctor), with thanks to family and friends, sustained me until I was lucky to be discharged from children’s hospital following weeks of rehabilitation. Alas, not all the children, I’d befriended, got to go home. Combined with a school setting, Remembrance of the Daleks tapped into my PTSD 11 years later.

Friendships forged in the playground in the wake of Earthshock E1 and thereafter. Target novelisations kindled a love of reading in middle school - so much so, I was compelled to write to DWM and was humbled to see it printed - there really was no other way to ‘see’ The Tomb of the Cybermen or The Web of Fear in the seventies and eighties.

Visited Longleat's exhibition on more than one occasion. However, my most cherished memory is of the 20th anniversary convention in 1983. All tickets had been sold, but mum worked her considerable charm and we were admitted as VIP guests. Saw so many Doctors, companions and Terror of the Autons.

The wilderness years, following the series' cancellation in 1989, saw Twin Peaks, Star Trek: The Next Generation, The X-Files and more try to fill the (impossible) void left by the crew of the TARDIS. The Anglo-American TV Movie came and went whilst I was an undergraduate. Then, in the midst of a family tragedy, the Doctor made a timely return to television screens in the mid-noughties.

The series was, on the very rare occasion, displaced by transient thrills such as glossy US imports and teenage crushes. However, the TARDIS was always lurking in the background, ready to whisk me away on another adventure in infinity...

Friday, 21 September 2018

Disney to slowdown the release of Star Wars movies



In the wake of Star Wars: The Last Jedi and Solo: A Star Wars Story being released in quick succession and the latter failing to ignite the box office, Disney CEO Bob Iger has decided to slowdown the Star Wars movie release schedule:

"I made the timing decision, and as I look back, I think the mistake that I made — I take the blame — was a little too much, too fast. You can expect some slowdown, but that doesn’t mean we’re not going to make films. J.J. Abrams is busy making Episode IX. We have creative entities, including Game of Thrones creators David] Benioff and D.B. Weiss, who are developing sagas of their own, which we haven’t been specific about. And we are just at the point where we’re going to start making decisions about what comes next after J.J.’s. But I think we’re going to be a little bit more careful about volume and timing. And the buck stops here on that."

A generation of fans (myself included) remember a time when there was a 3-year gap between instalments. This always built anticipation. What are your thoughts? Let me know in the comments below.

Thursday, 20 September 2018

Disney's streaming service adds Loki and Scarlet Witch



Earlier this week the first trailer for Captain Marvel dropped and now Variety is reporting Disney's upcoming streaming service (known as DisneyLife in the UK & Ireland) is about to be bolstered by live-action Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) spin-offs featuring Loki and Scarlet Witch.

Like stablemate Star Wars, the live-action MCU series will be boosted by a multimillion-dollar budget as Disney enters a crowded streaming market dominated by rivals such as Netflix, Amazon Prime and DC Unlimited, which was recently launched on Batman Day. So much so, Tom Hiddleston and Elizabeth Olsen are expected to reprise the roles of Loki and Scarlet Witch respectively.

Disney CEO Bob Iger on the upcoming streaming service:

“It’s a direct relationship with customers: the ability to provide more customized, personalized experiences; new ways to monetize; a proximity to a customer that doesn’t have intermediaries. You’re going to see growth in direct-to-consumer businesses. You’re probably going to see less channel watching; we’re already seeing that. You’re probably going to see less bundling of channels and more selling of specific brands, programs, etc.

I’m impressed with what has been accomplished at Netflix and Amazon. But none of them is either Disney or Marvel. Or Pixar. Or Star Wars or National Geographic or FX or Searchlight or Avatar — I could go on. So we enter the business that they’re in, in many respects, with an advantage from a content perspective that will enable us to focus on quality rather than just volume.”


Iger went on to address the matter of Marvel properties from Fox merging under the auspices of Marvel Studios president Kevin Feige:

"I think it only makes sense. I want to be careful here because of what’s been communicated to the Fox folks, but I think they know. It only makes sense for Marvel to be supervised by one entity. There shouldn’t be two Marvels. Kevin’s got a lot of ideas."

Whether or not the Loki and Scarlet Witch spin-offs are prequel series, given the events of Avengers: Infinity War, remains to be seen.

Wednesday, 19 September 2018

PlayStation Classic launches in time for Christmas



Ever since the launch of the Nintendo Classic Mini: Nintendo Entertainment System (NES) in 2016, retro video game fans (myself included) have hoped Sony would release the original PlayStation, which started life as a CD-ROM add-on for the Super Nintendo Entertainment System (SNES).



From 3rd December, to mark the 25th anniversary of the release of the PlayStation in Japan, gamers will be able to get their hands on an official classic console just in time for Christmas.

The £89.99 machine features 2 classic controllers and 20 pre-loaded games including Final Fantasy VII, Jumping Flash, R4: Ridge Racer Type 4, Tekken 3 and Wild Arms.

The PlayStation Classic will take pride of place alongside NES and SNES mini consoles. Sorry SNK, I'm skipping the NEO GEO! Because too expensive and no bundled controllers.

In related news. Sega is delaying the launch of the Mega Drive/Genesis mini console announced a few months ago. The publisher is working with a new partner on the device, which is expected in 2019.

You can pre-order the PlayStation Classic from Amazon (affiliate link) today.

Will you be getting a PlayStation Classic? Would you prefer PlayStation to focus on backwards compatibility to rival Xbox? Why not have classic mini consoles and backwards compatibility? Let me know in the comments below.

Tuesday, 18 September 2018

Brie Larson as Captain Marvel



As predicted, Marvel Studios has released the first trailer for Captain Marvel during Good Morning America and it's all kinds of awesome.



The upcoming prequel movie, set in the nineties and featuring familiar faces including a young Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson), introduces airforce pilot Carol Danvers (Brie Larson) to the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU), as she becomes a superhero assigned to Starforce, ahead of Avengers 4.

Marvel Studios president Kevin Feige has described Carol Danvers as "the most powerful character" so far in the MCU, and fans can only speculate how she'll stop Thanos and introduce the Marvel multiverse. The multiverse opens the door for Deadpool, X-Men and more for Phase 4.

Captain Marvel flies onto cinema screens next March.