Wednesday 31 January 2018

BioWare's Anthem delayed until 2019

The release of Anthem, BioWare's answer to Bungie's beleaguered Destiny, is being pushed back to 2019. Publisher EA has released a statement suggesting the game is deep into development and the delay is due to the as-yet-untitled Battlefront this holiday season.

"We've chosen to launch Anthem in [tax year] Q4 and the date is really determined by portfolio of balancing consideration not for product readiness reasons. It's tracking well on its development milestones. We are really confident of its ship date," said EA boss Andrew Wilson during a company investors call.

"We are really excited by the way the next Battlefield is shaping up and it probably doesn't make sense to launch Anthem right up next to it. And when you think about Anthem as a brand new IP, we also believe it make sense to give it its own launch window so that we can give us a focus and attention that it deserve and give it some free air."

Evidently, EA doesn't want to repeat the mistake of releasing two tentpole franchises within a week of each other. Battlefront I overshadowed the critically-acclaimed Titanfall 2 in 2016.

The publisher has received flak from the gaming community. From a bungled launch of Mass Effect: Andromeda to a loot box revolt for Star Wars Battlefront II. BioWare is doubling down on the development of Anthem whilst speculation surrounds a takeover of EA. Microsoft and Disney have been cited as potential buyers.

Frankly, I assumed Anthem wouldn't be released until late 2019 or 2020. That said, Anthem is being overseen by Casey Hudson who directed the original Mass Effect trilogy. So, I'm hopeful it'll bring character-driven storytelling into the looter shooter space.

Tuesday 30 January 2018

Ant-Man and the Wasp invade cinemas this summer

Marvel Studios has released the first trailer for Ant-Man and the Wasp. The latest comic caper sees Ant-Man (Paul Rudd) and the Wasp (Evangeline Lilly) join forces against the mysterious Ghost (Hannah John-Kamen).

Ant-Man and the Wasp is in UK cinemas 3rd August.

Monday 29 January 2018

Star Wars concert tour announced for the UK

Star Wars fans can book tickets for an upcoming concert tour featuring Hollywood composer John Williams' Oscar-winning music from A New Hope. The Novello Orchestra, conducted by David Mahoney, will play live as director George Lucas' space opera unfolds on screen.

Grant Watmuff, Licensing & Strategic Partnerships Manager at Disney Music Group, said: “We’re delighted that Star Wars fans will have the opportunity to experience the music of the movie performed live to picture in the UK for the first time. 

"From the opening fanfare to the final note, John Williams’ score for Star Wars: A New Hope is a genre-defining master class of cinematic composition.”

The concert tour will start at the Royal Albert Hall with the London Symphony Orchestra (LSO), which is synonymous with Star Wars.

Lucy Noble, Artistic Director at the Royal Albert Hall, said: “During our nine years of pioneering the Films in Concert concept, there’s one movie that’s been requested more than any other, and that’s Star Wars: A New Hope.

“We’re ecstatic to announce its UK debut at the Hall this November, with the London Symphony Orchestra confirmed for this once-in-a-lifetime show. There’s simply no film – or score – that’s more iconic.”

Kathryn McDowell, Managing Director of the London Symphony Orchestra, said: “The London Symphony Orchestra has a deep and long-lasting relationship with John Williams and particularly his music for the Star Wars films, having recorded the soundtracks for the first six episodes.

“The music of Star Wars is in the LSO blood and we are delighted to be involved in what will surely be a memorable series of performances.”

Full tour dates for Star Wars: Film Concert Series:

16th November: Royal Albert Hall
17th November: Royal Albert Hall
18th November: Royal Albert Hall

28th November: Liverpool Echo Arena
29th November: Bournemouth International Centre

1st December: Manchester Arena
2nd December: Birmingham Arena
7th December: Cardiff Motorpoint Arena
8th December: Leeds First Direct Arena
9th December: Glasgow SSE Hydro

Ticket are priced from £32.50 to £75 and go on presale 31st January and general sale 2nd February.

Friday 26 January 2018

Brie Larson as Captain Marvel

The first on-set photos of Oscar winner Brie Larson as Captain Marvel have emerged online.

“[Captain Marvel is] going to be a big part of heading towards this epic conclusion and epic finale of 22 movies over the course of 10 years,” Marvel Studios boss Kevin Feige said.

“That is the focus for the next six movies we have to finish and get out. Really, the focus now is on delivering Captain Marvel and then bringing Captain Marvel’s story into the finale of everything we’ve started thus far.”

Larson's solo movie will feature co-star Samuel L. Jackson as a younger Nick Fury in the 1990s. Then her character will join the Avengers.

Captain Marvel will be released on 8th March 2019, followed by Avengers 4 hitting cinemas on 3rd May 2019.

Wednesday 24 January 2018

Star Trek's dark Discovery

Star Trek: Discovery is back streaming on CBS All Access and Netflix outside the US. This post has spoilers. So, please don't read on if you've yet to catch up with latest episodes or begin watching the spin-off series.

The midseason premiere revealed that the crew of the USS Discovery are marooned in the infamous Mirror Universe. That dark realm of goatees and fascism. The Federation doesn't exist and in its place, a reign of terror under the Terran Empire lead by Emperor Georgiou (Michelle Yeoh).

Captain Lorca (Jason Isaacs) is the big bad. This is a narrative twist I was hoping for all along and there are clues peppered throughout the first half of season one. Lorca's masterplan was to manipulate Starfleet renegade Michael Burnham (Sonequa Martin-Green) and crew to return him to the Mirror Universe and, presumably, become Emperor.

Lieutenant Paul Stamets (Anthony Rapp) was in a coma in the wake of unwittingly aiding Lorca to spore jump into an alternate universe. His mirror self is a fascinating foe and may or may not be aboard the USS Discovery now that Stamets has awakened after learning his partner, Doctor Culber (Wilson Cruz), was killed by tortured Klingon captive, Lieutenant Ash Tyler (Shazad Latif).

What of the ISS Discovery in the Prime Universe? Well, that remains a story untold for now. However, it would be a surprise if the showrunners don't tap that rich vein either this season or next.

Much like in Star Wars fandom there's a civil war going on regarding the merits of Discovery and whether or not you're a true Star Trek fan if you like/loathe the series. There are enough spin-offs for everyone to play nicely. Live long and prosper.

Monday 22 January 2018

ROM: Spaceknight and M.A.S.K. movies shelved?

Hasbro's ambition for its cinematic universe is being scaled back.

A few years ago Paramount announced an extension to the Transformers universe with the addition of G.I. Joe, M.A.S.K., Visionaries, ROM: Spaceknight and the Micronauts. At the time, fans (myself included) of the vintage toy lines thought ROM would appear in Transformers: The Last Knight.

John Francis Daley and Jonathan Goldstein, who are directing The Flash movie for Warner Bros., talked to IGN about what happened and shed light on the fates of ROM and M.A.S.K.:

“Those are probably not likely to see the light of day, unless they’re moving on separate from us. It’s a funny thing. We spent three weeks in a room with a lot of talented writers. We broke eleven or so movies and, I don’t know. It just kind of went into the vortex. There’s been some leadership changes at Paramount, so it’s hard to say. Nobody’s contacted us about those.

It was fun. It was a fun challenge to take these properties that were so barebones in any kind of a narrative and create a movie around them. You know, these little cheap, plastic things, and to give them a backstory was an exciting challenge.”

The Micronauts will appear in a new animated series to be streamed in 2019 and Transformers spin-off Bumblebee is in cinemas this December.

Sunday 21 January 2018

Star Wars Rebels ends with the return of the Emperor

Star Wars Rebels season four continues on Disney XD from 19th February culminating in a 90-minute series finale with the Emperor this March.

Ian McDiarmid is reprising his iconic role as the Emperor, which he started in Return of the Jedi and continued in the Star Wars prequel trilogy.

Showrunner Dave Filoni is pulling out all the stops and the fate of the Ghost's crew is seemingly bleak.

DisneyLife, the company's excellent streaming service currently only available in the UK and Ireland, was launched on selected Samsung televisions before Christmas. This gave me an opportunity to catch up with exclusive Star War and Marvel content on the Disney Channel. Alas, Star Wars Rebels season four has yet to be made available.

The returning voice cast includes Freddie Prinze Jr. as Kanan, Vanessa Marshall as Hera, Steve Blum as Zeb, Tiya Sircar as Sabine, Taylor Gray as Ezra, Dee Bradley Baker as Captain Rex, David Oyelowo as Kallus, Forest Whitaker as Saw Gerrera and Lars Mikkelsen as Grand Admiral Thrawn. Warwick Davis joins the cast this season as Rukh, Admiral Thrawn’s deadly assassin.

Thursday 18 January 2018

After The Ending Podcast: Star Wars: The Last Jedi

Star Wars: The Last Jedi was released in cinemas last December. As the dust settles around director Rian Johnson’s divisive sequel, Phil Edwards, founder of Live for Films, speculates on the future direction of the Star Wars franchise.

Guest post by Phil Edwards

Still unsure about Star Wars: The Last Jedi? It certainly split the audience. I have seen people saying it is the best one since The Empire Strikes Back, while others feel it is an abomination. I fall somewhere in the middle - I was disappointed, mainly due to some lazy storytelling that could have been fixed with a couple more drafts (my full review is here).

We have got Solo: A Star Wars Story this summer, which is going up against Avengers: Infinity War. A win-win situation for Disney, but what about Star Wars: Episode IX?

All we know is that JJ Abrams will be writing and directing it. During the coverage of The Last Jedi, we learnt that Rian Johnson was given a clean slate, meaning there is no set plan in place for the last part of the new trilogy. A surprising development to be sure. That does mean it can go anywhere. Will JJ Abrams simply do a Rian Johnson and ditch plot points set up in The Last Jedi, or will he go somewhere new?

While we wait for any news, my good friend Mike Spring and I put together our thoughts on what could happen in Episode IX for an episode of our After The Ending podcast.

We are going to have to wait until the end of 2019 to find out if we got anywhere near what actually happens, but it was good fun to think about it.

You can listen to it below or head on over to iTunes.

Wednesday 17 January 2018

The official synopsis for Solo: A Star Wars Story

Whilst Star Wars fans (myself included) anxiously await a trailer. Lucasfilm has published an official synopsis for Solo: A Star Wars Story.

"Board the Millennium Falcon and journey to a galaxy far, far away in Solo: A Star Wars Story, an all-new adventure with the most beloved scoundrel in the galaxy. Through a series of daring escapades deep within a dark and dangerous criminal underworld, Han Solo meets his mighty future copilot Chewbacca and encounters the notorious gambler Lando Calrissian, in a journey that will set the course of one of the Star Wars saga’s most unlikely heroes."

Finally, fans will see how Han and Chewie first met. This isn't the first time the story has been told, it appeared in Dark Horse Comics' Star Wars: Chewbacca miniseries in 2000, but this is official canon. I recall excited discussions with college friends postulating how Han was an imperial officer in the Empire and saving Chewie changed his life forever. Imagine if there's a cameo from Darth Vader?

Solo: A Star Wars Story, directed by Ron Howard, is in cinemas 25th May.

Tuesday 16 January 2018

Black Lightning is prestige TV

Black Lightning premieres on The CW tonight. Whilst the prospect of another superhero show may seem daunting in an era of so-called peak television. This new series stands alone from DCTV's Arrow, The Flash, DC's Legends of Tomorrow and Supergirl. That said, in the wake of the incredible crossover Crisis on Earth-X, I'm hoping Black Lightning will make a cameo in the future.

Early reactions to Black Lightning are positive and Netflix starts streaming the series from 23rd January in the UK, which is my birthday.

The Washington Post

Black Lightning, a wholehearted and energetic live-action revival of the character premiering Tuesday night on CW, is refreshingly and intentionally focused on Jefferson's attempt to balance the conflict among his truest selves – as a black father in his late 40s, a husband, a revered high-school principal and, ultimately, a superhero who comes out of self-imposed exile to fight violence in his community.

The Hollywood Reporter

The pleasant surprise, then, is that Black Lightning, based on yet another DC Comics property, is smart and relevant and full of an attitude that's all its own. It takes its characters and their world seriously, but thus far doesn't take itself too seriously. And, best of all, it's ostensibly entirely separate from Legends of Tomorrow, The Flash, Arrow and Supergirl, so the risk of time-consuming crossovers or key plot points delivered on a different show is currently nil.

The New York Times

Luke Cage and Marvel's Runaways have diversified the comics-TV lineup. (Black Panther arrives in theaters in February.) But this show's race-forward sensibility and its older protagonist, conflicted about getting back into the game, give Black Lightning its spark.

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

Monday 15 January 2018

Rian Johnson wrote The Last Jedi on a MacBook Air

Director Rian Johnson wrote the script for Star Wars: The Last Jedi on an air-gapped Apple MacBook Air. Johnson revealed this fascinating insight in an interview with the WSJ.

“I typed Episode VIII out on a MacBook Air. For security it was “air-gapped” — never connected to the internet. I carried it around and used it for nothing except writing the script. I kept it in a safe at Pinewood Studios. I think my producer was constantly horrified I would leave it in a coffee shop.“

Ahead of the launch of The Last Jedi, Apple Stores ran exclusive video editing workshops to celebrate Force Friday II.

Friday 12 January 2018

John Williams to score Star Wars: Episode IX

Hollywood composer John Williams, fresh from scoring Star Wars: The Last Jedi, is slated to compose Han Solo's theme for director Ron Howard's Solo: A Star Wars Story with John Powell composing the rest.

Speaking to trade paper Variety, Williams hopes to compose the entirety of Star Wars: Episode IX, which is currently in pre-production with JJ Abrams at the helm after Colin Trevorrow's departure. Thus completing an enviable body of work spanning 9 movies. The veteran composer is especially fond of Rey (Daisy Ridley) and her theme from The Force Awakens is a fan favourite.

Thursday 11 January 2018

Solo: A Star Wars Story undergoing more reshoots

With a 25th May release now only months away, director Ron Howard is reportedly reshooting more of Solo: A Star Wars Story. Reshoots are part and parcel of filmmaking. However, given the second Star Wars spin-off's troubled production, seemingly more so than Rogue One, it adds further intrigue and uncertainty within the fan community.

It's surprising Lucasfilm president Kathleen Kennedy didn't move Solo to December. Thereby giving Howard more time, and for the film not to clash with Avengers: Infinity War. The latter marking the 10th anniversary of the release of Iron Man and heralding the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU).

A trailer for Solo: A Star Wars Story is expected any day.

Wednesday 10 January 2018

Two BAFTA nominations for The Last Jedi

The Star Wars franchise has been synonymous with special effects and sound design since the first movie was released in US theatres in May 1977.

So, it's only fitting director Rian Johnson's Star Wars: The Last Jedi receives two BAFTA nominations in those categories.

Best sound

Baby Driver
Blade Runner 2049
The Shape of Water
Star Wars: The Last Jedi

Best special visual effects

Blade Runner 2049
The Shape of Water
Star Wars: The Last Jedi
War for the Planet of the Apes

Good luck to the fine folks at Lucasfilm.

Tuesday 9 January 2018

Ewan McGregor on Obi-Wan Star Wars spin-off

Ewan McGregor played Obi-Wan Kenobi in the Star Wars prequel trilogy and reprised the role for The Force Awakens.

The demand for an Obi-Wan spin-off movie hasn't abated and fans (myself included) are hoping McGregor gets a chance to play the lead role now that Lucasfilm is owned by Disney.

"There’s a lot of talk, and I’d be happy to play him again, but I don’t know anything more than you do," McGregor told reporters backstage at the Golden Globes, after he won a best actor award for his role in FX's Fargo.

McGregor also gave his reaction to The Last Jedi:

"I saw the new one over Christmas and I thought it was really, really beautiful."

Source: THR

Sunday 7 January 2018

Tom Hardy's cameo cut from The Last Jedi

If you're wondering where Tom Hardy's First Order Stormtrooper was in Star Wars: The Last Jedi, he was cut from director Rian Johnson's divisive sequel. However, Hardy's scene will be included as part of an additional twenty minutes of footage in the upcoming Blu-ray disc release.

Hardy's character possessed a thick southern accent who, after initially appearing threatening, turns out to be an ally of Finn (John Boyega) (via SlashFilm).

“I know who you are…. FN 2187!” Hardy's character reportedly says. “Damn boy, I never took you for officer material.”

Did you spot Rogue One: A Star Wars Story director Gareth Edwards fighting in the trenches on Crait in The Last Jedi?

You can read my spoiler review for The Last Jedi here. Suffice to say I've already pre-ordered the 4K Blu-ray disc, which is available from Amazon (affiliate link).

Thursday 4 January 2018

Netflix is rebooting She-Ra in 2018

For the honour of Grayskull: The Princess of Power is back!

During the holiday season, Netflix exclusively streamed the first half of The Toys That Made Us, an unmissable documentary series looking at Star Wars, Barbie, G.I. Joe and Masters of the Universe, and announced a reboot of She-Ra: The Princess of Power for 2018.

She-Ra: The Princess of Power was a Masters of the Universe spin-off in the mid-1980s when He-Man and friends outsold stablemate Barbie to become the world's number one toy. The She-Ra reboot will be made by DreamWorks with Noelle Stevenson, best known for Nimona and Lumberjanes, serving as executive producer.

The new She-Ra series will stream on Netflix later this year.

Wednesday 3 January 2018

Micronauts animated series from Hasbro Studios

40 years ago this January I saw Star Wars for the first time and George Lucas' space opera captured my childhood imagination. As such, I devoured everything related. From Kenner action figures to Marvel comics. It was in the pages of Marvel's making of Star Wars magazine that I saw an advertisement for a new toy line distributed by Airfix.

The Micronauts.

The Micronauts was a storied interchangeable toy line from Takara who would go on to create the Transformers. Marvel released a tie-in comic following the adventures of Commander Rann and his battle with the evil Baron Karza. The latter would be a holiday gift in 1978.

Hasbro has announced a new half-hour animated series going into production for 2019. Here's the official synopsis taken from Hasbro's sales guide (via Bleeding Cool):

"When fate brings an unlikely team of alien space explorers to earth in pursuit of the evil Baron Karza, they make a shocking discovery—on our world they are the size of action figures! The Micronauts are small heroes in a big world but the stakes are higher than ever as their miniaturized size presents dangerous obstacles at every turn. Fortunately, they forge an alliance with teenager Cameron Ruck, who will join them in their pursuit of justice. Although the Micronauts are small in stature, their bravery and adventurous spirits remain larger than life."

Whilst no streaming platform has been announced, Hasbro has a longstanding distribution deal with the Discovery network.

The upcoming Micronauts movie, produced by JJ Abrams, will form part of Hasbro's cinematic universe (including Transformers, G.I. Joe, M.A.S.K. and ROM: Spaceknight) in 2020.