Tuesday, 19 March 2019

Woody and Bo Peep in new trailer for Toy Story 4

Disney has released a new full-length trailer for Toy Story 4.

"Everyone’s favourite pull-string cowboy sheriff Woody, along with his best friends Buzz Lightyear and Jessie, are happy taking care of their kid, Bonnie, until a new toy called “Forky” arrives in her room. According to Forky, a spork-turned-craft-project, he’s not a toy at all—and he’d rather skip this big adventure completely, if only they’d let him."

Toy Story 4 features the voices of Tom Hanks, Tim Allen, Annie Potts, Joan Cusack, Wallace Shawn, Michael Keaton, Jodi Benson, Kristen Schaal, John Ratzenberger, Blake Clark, Bonnie Hunt, Jeff Garlin, Timothy Dalton, Estelle Harris, Tony Hale, Keegan-Michael Key, Jordan Peele, Keanu Reeves and Patricia Arquette.

Toy Story 4 is in cinemas 21st June 2019.

Monday, 18 March 2019

Fox marks Alien's 40th with live-action fan films

Twentieth Century Fox, about to be acquired by Disney, is celebrating the 40th anniversary of the release of Alien, the first sci-fi movie to traumatise me as a child, with a selection of short films set in the Alien franchise universe founded by director Ridley Scott in 1979.

ALIEN: ALONE — Hope, an abandoned crewmember aboard the derelict chemical hauler Otranto, has spent a year trying to keep her ship and herself alive as both slowly fall apart. After discovering hidden cargo, she risks it all to power up the broken ship in search of human life. Written and directed by Noah Miller.

ALIEN: CONTAINMENT — Four survivors find themselves stranded aboard a small escape pod in deep space. Trying to piece together the details around the outbreak that led to their ship’s destruction, they find themselves unsure to trust whether or not one of them might be infected. Written and directed by Chris Reading.

ALIEN: HARVEST — The surviving crew of a damaged deep-space harvester have minutes to reach the emergency evacuation shuttle. A motion sensor is their only navigation tool leading them to safety while a creature in the shadows terrorizes the crew. However, the greatest threat might have been hiding in plain sight all along. Directed by Benjamin Howdeshell.

ALIEN: NIGHT SHIFT — When a missing space trucker is discovered hungover and disoriented, his co-worker suggests a nightcap as a remedy. Near closing time, they are reluctantly allowed inside the colony supply depot where the trucker’s condition worsens, leaving a young supply worker alone to take matters into her own hands. Written and directed by Aidan Breznick.

ALIEN: ORE — As a hard-working miner of a planet mining colony, Lorraine longs to make a better life for her daughter and grandchildren. When her shift uncovers the death of a fellow miner under mysterious circumstances, Lorraine is forced to choose between escape or defying management orders and facing her fears to fight for the safety of her family. Written and directed by the Spear Sisters.

ALIEN: SPECIMEN — It’s the night shift in a colony greenhouse, and Julie, a botanist, does her best to contain suspicious soil samples that have triggered her sensitive lab dog. Despite her best efforts, the lab unexpectedly goes into full shutdown and she is trapped inside. Little does she know, an Alien specimen has escaped the mysterious cargo, and a game of cat and mouse ensues as the creature searches for a host. Written and directed by Kelsey Taylor.

The Alien short films will be available on IGN. Twentieth Century Fox most recently partnered with the site for a digital series based on the Alien: Isolation survival horror video game. Ironically, IGN was a review outlier and gave it a mediocre score, whereas film critics raved. I'm with the latter.

What are your memories of watching the original Alien? Let me know in the comments below.

Friday, 15 March 2019

Avengers: Endgame trailer teases the past and future

As Captain Marvel dominates the box office, Marvel Studios has released a new trailer for Avengers: Endgame. It's a character study that gives nothing away in the Russo brothers' follow-up to Avengers: Infinity War.

An emotive look back at the legacy of the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) as a decade-long saga draws to a close. Is that the voice of Peggy Carter? Let me know your thoughts in the comments below.

Avengers: Endgame is in cinemas 25th April.

Thursday, 14 March 2019

The Star Wars Celebration panel you're looking for

Lucasfilm has confirmed there'll be a Star Wars: Episode IX panel, with director JJ Abrams and Lucasfilm president Kathleen Kennedy, on 12th April during Star Wars Celebration Chicago. It's expected the title will be announced alongside the first trailer.

Oscar Isaac (Poe Dameron) confirmed Episode IX marks the end of the Skywalker saga.

"It was the most fun it's been," he said. "There was just an energy and a looseness and excitement to the whole production.

"And knowing that this was the conclusion of not only our time there but the nine stories, these nine episodes of the Skywalker Saga, it's incredible."

The Star Wars actor added: "I think people are gonna be just blown away."

Star Wars Celebration Chicago runs from 11th to 15th April. Star Wars: Episode IX will be in cinemas December 2019.

Tuesday, 12 March 2019

Make Mine Mar-Vell

Captain Marvel is the funniest and most poignant Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) instalment since Guardians of the Galaxy! It deftly acts as an awesome cosmic origin story for the titular hero, played with wit by Oscar-winner Brie Larson, and as a prequel to Avengers: Endgame.

The nostalgic nineties setting allows for a thrilling Gen-X tour de force from directors Anna Boden and Ryan Fleck (Sugar) and an opportunity to see beloved characters before the Avengers were a thing. Unlike Ready Player One, it manages to avoid fatigue from nostalgia overload. The internet cafe and CD-ROM load time gags had me in stitches: I was reminded of going online for the first time, using Netscape for Mac, in a university library.

From AOL to Blockbuster and there's a digitally de-aged Samuel L. Jackson (Nick Fury), who took me back to my undergraduate years and Pulp Fiction, as Starforce, lead by Captain Marvel's mentor Jude Law (Yon-Rogg), attempts to end the Kree-Skrull war once and for all.

Captain Marvel succeeds or fails on the core relationship between Fury and Danvers. Suffice to say it excels and further embellishes the end credits scene from Avengers: Infinity War, where Fury pages Danvers before turning to dust in the wake of Thanos' snap.

Goose may be the greatest space feline since Jones survived a xenomorph in the original Alien. The galactic ginger made me misty-eyed in memory of my cat, Leo, who passed away 12 years ago. Leo was one of the most loyal pets it's been my privilege to befriend.

An area where the MCU continues to fall foul is the soundtrack. Whilst there's nothing inherently wrong with Pinar Toprak's score; it's buried deep in the mix and there are no standout leitmotivs other than a reprise of the Avengers theme composed by Alan Silvestri. After a decade, Marvel Studios could still learn something from Harry Potter and Disney stablemate Star Wars.

There are nods to Star Wars, Lethal Weapon, The Right Stuff and Independence Day. Watching Captain Marvel, I was reminded of Supergirl and Superman: The Movie. Heroic heights indeed and a touching tribute to the late Stan Lee.

Sunday, 10 March 2019

Win a signed Stormtrooper helmet with Comic Relief

Disney and Lucasfilm have donated a First Order Stormtrooper helmet from Star Wars: Episode IX, signed by director JJ Abrams, Lucasfilm president Kathleen Kennedy, Daisy Ridley, John Boyega and Adam Driver, in aid of Comic Relief.

Fans can donate to Comic Relief and enter the competition here. May the Force be with you.

Thursday, 7 March 2019

Chasing Colin Baker: Pensacon 2019 review

Nick Smith, our North America correspondent, goes to Pensacon in search of two Doctors.

Guest post by Nick Smith

Pensacon 2019, Pensacola, Florida. My eyes have been as big as saucers for 45 minutes, mesmerized by a Q&A with Peter Davison and Colin Baker, the fifth and sixth Doctors respectively from Doctor Who. They make a great team – Baker is simultaneously humble and gregarious while Davison is more reserved and paternal. The actors and the audience have a blast.

“We’ll stay after this for autographs,” Baker wraps, “in case anyone got a photo with us earlier and didn’t get the chance to have it signed…”

Wait a minute, I think to myself, I got a photo with them earlier and didn’t get the chance to have it signed. The Doctor’s talking about me! But no, I couldn’t even dream… I mean, these guys helped buoy me up as a teenager. They were a bright constant in my greying grown-up world as I faced what Winston Churchill called the ‘black dog’ of unhappiness. Later, as an actor and filmmaker, I learned from their hard work and candour.

My accommodating girlfriend Dana whispers at me to hurry and I leave the Saenger Theatre as fast as the shuffling, exiting audience will allow. A few blocks away in my car there’s a photo of me with the two Doctors, the TARDIS behind us. All I have to do is grab the pic, take it back to the theatre and get it signed by my childhood heroes.

It’s the climax of an eventful weekend at this six-year-old convention, a labour of love for the local organizers. I’ve explored the vendor floor in a crowded stadium and encountered an Ewok (Kiran Shah) and a prop making veteran - the humble Bill Hargreaves, posing by a speeder bike, describing himself as a nosy kid working on the original Star Wars trilogy.

I’ve attended panels devoted to Doctor Who series 11; another on Star Wars novels, with Timothy Zahn (Heir to the Empire) and Claudia Gray (Bloodline). I expect to be jealous of fan-turned-Star Wars author Gray but she and Zahn are so damned nice and approachable that I warm to them in seconds and they give solid info about the pressures of writing for Lucasfilm (Bloodline was written in 40 days).

I’m really in Pensacola because the short movie I produced, X’s and O’s, has been selected for the film festival portion of Pensacon. The film is a Twilight Zone-type yarn about disappearances in a creepy Florida forest, perfect for a convention that celebrates otherworldy storytelling. And there are some very talented guests; it’s exciting to think that one of their representatives might see X’s and O’s.

William Shatner knows a thing or two about storytelling or as he calls it, rambling. He commands the stage in his own Q&A, the audience Laughing Out Loud at his cracks about his country album, the birth pangs of the Star Trek movies (what was the name of that second one again, he asks?) and the time he invited Rush Limbaugh to watch Monday Night Football with Henry Rollins. Shatner’s famous ego is quashed by the man himself and he has fun in the process.

Another big draw is Jonathan Frakes, equally self-effacing, equally playful. He’s willing to compare directing Star Trek: Discovery with The Orville (he likes them both!) and rattles off anecdotes about The Next Generation, poking fun at Patrick Stewart or as Frakes likes to call him, Sir Great Baldie. Mainly he pokes fun at himself and that’s one of the big draws of the convention – to see the genuine versions of our heroes and find out that they put their trousers on one leg at a time just like us. This has a twofold purpose: first, we can relate to them on a new level. Second, we know that their success is attainable.

Not every guest exudes charm and positivity. I expect Gil Gerard to be a little cocky and full of himself like his character, Buck Rogers – another boyhood hero of mine. In my mind’s eye, I expect Gerard to be the same as that space buccaneer in the shows I watched with my family as if frozen in space since the ‘70s… but that’s not realistic.

Unlike the two Doctors, Gerard still has a bit of an ego, coming across like an old Uncle Buck curmudgeon, hogging the microphone on a panel with Erin Gray (Colonel Deering) and Felix Silla (Twiki). Still, it’s great to see them together, especially when Buck banters with his diminutive friend. Gerard cares deeply about the show and doesn’t pull any punches about fighting for its integrity and its survival (season 3, anyone?).

Who needs realism? We boogie with robots, singing Evil Deadites and steampunks. Attending a Battlestar Galactica panel with most of the rebooted show’s big hitters - Tricia Helfer (aka Number Six), Tahmoh Penikett (Helo), Leah Cairns (Racetrack), James Callis (Baltar), Mary McDonnell (President Roslin), Michael Trucco (Longshot), Michael Hogan (Colonel Tigh) – we sing to Edward James Olmos (Adama), who is off somewhere celebrating his birthday. Callis films us with his phone, McDonnell uses hers to FaceTime Olmos, Penikett films them filming us… for that moment we feel like we’re part of one big sci-fi family.

Another star-studded panel is devoted to Indiana Jones, where we see Karen Allen (Marion Ravenwood), Julian Glover (Walter Donovan), Paul Freeman (RenĂ© Belloq), Wolf Kahler (Dietrich) and John Rhys-Davies (Sallah). They talk about the hardships of filming abroad and Harrison Ford’s focus. I close my eyes for a moment, hear Allen’s smoky voice and Rhys-Davies’ booming one and I’m transported back to a magical movie night in 1981, watching Raiders of the Lost Ark for the first time. It’s another magical teary-eyed moment for me.

A less magical moment: I’ve run to my car to grab the photo of the two Doctors and myself. Now I have to get back to the theatre. I’m running out of steam – I’m not in shape, bigger on the outside – so I slow down. I don’t want to turn up to the signing a heaving breathless mess. In my panic, I take a wrong turn and have to walk an extra block. Dana texts me - the autographs cost $50 to sign. I text ‘ew’ and slow down some more but then speed up again. Five hours working at my day job for a quick visit with my fave physicians. Worth it!

Getting the photo is a more sedate experience. Before the photo op I sit with a bunch of convention-goers old and young, one dressed as Tom Baker, another as Matt Smith, the latter taking constant selfies. They discuss the merits of scarf-knitting, which tickles me greatly. I’m with fellow fans!

All weekend the atmosphere is light and fun. On the first day, the long lines to pick up passes are an indication of Pensacon’s growth. Dana gets a picture with Lew Temple, who played Axel in The Walking Dead, and she tells Catherine Tate, “we love you!” Sadly Tara Reid cancels at the last minute citing “Oscar business.” We see bounty hunter actors Cathy Munroe (Zuckuss), Alan Harris (Bossk) and Bill Hargreaves, builder of IG-88 from Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back, learning that Harris did the body cast for Han Solo in carbonite while Harrison Ford did the face. The passion of some of the fans is intoxicating; at the Jonathan Frakes Q&A, one girl is in tears as she asks a question. At other events, the people around us are nervous and excited, intelligent and kind.

I run up to the front doors of the Saenger Theatre like Dustin Hoffman at the climax of The Graduate, except instead of chasing a cute girl I’m chasing Colin Baker. The security guys are locking the front doors. “I’m here for the signing…” I pant, “my girlfriend’s inside…” “They’ve gone,” says a guard. “You should try round the side.” I go to the stage door but one of the Doctors is leaving, not by blue box but in a white SUV with tinted windows. Dana meets me on the steps and says sorry.

No worries. I determine to put the $50 towards producing my next X’s and O’s-type project. I’ll keep making movies. Maybe one day I’ll get to work with Peter and Colin and I’ll be able to thank them properly for the little bit of cardio, for giving me a run for my money, for helping in a small but important way to make my life worth living.

Wednesday, 6 March 2019

Winter is here in Game of Thrones' final season trailer

2019 marks a year of endings. From Avengers to Star Wars. Game of Thrones returns for its final season this April and HBO has posted a new epic trailer featuring series stalwarts Arya Stark (Maisie Williams), Jon Snow (Kit Harington), Daenerys Targaryen (Emilia Clarke), Tyrion Lannister (Peter Dinklage), Jaime Lannister (Nikolaj Coster-Waldau), Sansa Stark (Sophie Turner), Bran Stark (Isaac Hempstead Wright) and Cersei Lannister (Lena Headey).

The last season of the Game of Thrones begins on 14th April on HBO and simulcast on Sky Atlantic in the UK.

Sunday, 3 March 2019

Oscar Isaac at Star Wars Celebration Chicago

According to Fox 32 News and Good Day Chicago anchor Jake Hamilton, Oscar Isaac (Poe Dameron) will be attending Star Wars Celebration in Chicago this April. The first trailer for Episode IX is expected during an official panel for the conclusion to the Skywalker saga.

It's a pretty safe bet to assume other sequel trilogy cast members will be on the panel including Adam Driver (Kylo Ren), John Boyega (Finn) and Daisy Ridley (Rey) alongside director JJ Abrams and Lucasfilm president Kathleen Kennedy.

Attending Star Wars Celebration and would like to cover the event? Please contact me.

Thursday, 28 February 2019

Star Trek: Discovery renewed for a third season

Star Trek: Discovery has been renewed for a third season, which is fantastic news given how much fun the prequel series is with Captain Pike (Anson Mount) at the helm. Mount's portrayal is rapidly becoming my favourite incarnation of the legendary character. Michelle Paradise (The Originals, Hart of Dixie) will serve as co-showrunner along with producer Alex Kurtzman.

“Michelle joined us midway through season two and energized the room with her ferocious knowledge of Trek,” Kurtzman said. “Her grasp of character and story detail, her drive and her focus have already become essential in ensuring the Trek legacy, and her fresh perspective always keeps us looking forward. I’m proud to say Michelle and I are officially running Star Trek: Discovery together.”

As part of a multi-year deal, Kurtzman is overseeing an expansion of the franchise on CBS All Access including a Section 31 spin-off starring Michelle Yeoh and a Jean-Luc Picard series with Sir Patrick Stewart reprising his iconic role.

Despite Discovery's troubled production history, the spin-off is garnering a new generation of fans and has piqued my interest in a way I never thought would be possible.

“The massive success of ‘Star Trek: Discovery’s’ second season launch exceeded our expectations in both driving subscriber growth and generating a phenomenal response from ‘Star Trek’ fans,” said Julie McNamara, executive vice president, original content, CBS All Access. “With Alex Kurtzman and Michelle Paradise at the helm, we look forward to continuing ‘Star Trek: Discovery’s’ journey, growing the ‘Star Trek’ franchise on CBS All Access and bringing fans new ‘Star Trek’ stories for many years to come.”

New episodes of Discovery's second season are available from Friday on Netflix outside the US.

Friday, 22 February 2019

Star Wars Resistance is nostalgic galactic bubblegum

Disney has renewed Star Wars Resistance and Nick Smith takes a look at the inaugural season to see whether or not it rises to the legacy of The Clone Wars and most recently Star Wars Rebels?

Guest post by Nick Smith

A bird wheels across the sky, the elegant sound of its beating wings drowned by the sound of a mightier flying thing – a First Order TIE fighter, patrolling the beleaguered refuelling platform Colossus on the remote world of Castilon.

Under this sky works a tight-knit crew of pilots and mechanics led by Jarek Yeager, owner of a repair shop on the platform. His likeable team includes Tam, Neeku and Bucket the cobbled-up droid. They live a life of seat-of-the-pants racing in this Disney cartoon with a Miyazaki-lite look and heaps of charm thanks to the impulse drive of Dave Filoni, director of The Clone Wars animated feature alongside other Star Wars adventures including Star Wars Rebels and Forces of Destiny.

Like Clone Wars, Resistance fills a gap in the Star Wars saga, this time between Return of the Jedi and The Force Awakens. It’s set about six months before Finn meets Rey. The main character is Kazuda Xiono (AKA Kaz, played by Chris Sean), a bumbling young pilot whose goofiness is matched by his idealism. He wants to become a part of the Resistance against the fascist First Order, so when he’s recruited by Poe Dameron he hyperjumps at the chance to be a rebel spy.

Look beyond the simple CGI animation and trite plots and you’ll find a fun adventure series that is better at being silly (the too-literal Neeku, Kaz’s good-natured gawkiness) than space operatics. The thrills of Star Wars’ best movie moments aren't there but in their place are solid, dependable characters and situations that are surprisingly watchable. It’s galactic bubblegum with a nostalgic flavor – the TIE fighters, blaster battles and splintered echoes of the movies: in The New Trooper, Kaz has umm… communication problems as he disguises himself as a Stormtrooper; in the next episode, The Core Problem, Poe feels like he’s being watched a la Luke Skywalker in The Empire Strikes Back.

Kaz has the most fleshed-out character. He is not a perfect hero. He gets scared, makes mistakes and breaks rules. He has an arc ripe for development. Other characters, like the teenaged Torra Doza, exist to further plots, such as her attempted kidnap in The Doza Dilemma. The green (in more ways than one) Neeku is kept around for comic relief. Captain Phasma (voiced by original actress Gwendoline Christie) cameos because she’s cool, but doesn’t present much of a threat. It’s always good to see Poe Dameron (Oscar Isaac), who provides a laconic role model for Kaz; the most poignant appearance is made by Leia Organa (Carolyn Hennessy), who has some witty dialogue with Poe.

Kaz’s picaresque adventures include banter with BB-8, dogfights, a friendship with a turncoat space pirate, video gameplay, and a hilarious encounter with a salacious horde of Kowakian monkey-lizards. Kaz’s secret missions with Poe make the strongest episodes, heralding more Trilogy-type epics ahead.

As you might have guessed, the emphasis is on lighthearted entertainment. Look for cosmic complexity and you’ll be disappointed. My advice is to sit back, enjoy the Stormtrooper slapstick and join Kaz on his Outer Rim joyride. Who knows where it might lead?

Thursday, 21 February 2019

Star Wars: Episode IX wraps filming

Director JJ Abrams (The Force Awakens) announced last Friday that the final instalment of the Skywalker saga had finished filming in an emotional tweet that featured a photo of cast members Daisy Ridley (Rey), John Boyega (Finn) and Oscar Isaac (Poe Dameron) in a poignant embrace on set.

“It feels impossible, but today wrapped photography on ‘Episode IX,’” Abrams said. “There is no adequate way to thank this truly magical crew and cast. I’m forever indebted to you all.”

John Boyega, who plays Finn, a rogue First Order Stormtrooper who joined the Resistance in the sequel trilogy, also commemorated the occasion by sharing the same image to his followers on social media.

“That’s a wrap on ‘Star Wars: Episode IX’ and the end to a chapter of my life that I couldn’t be more thankful for,” said Boyega in his tweet. “What a process! It really has been a joy to be in these movies surrounded by amazing people. J.J. thank you for making my dreams come true.”

Rumours suggest the teaser trailer and title will drop alongside Captain Marvel in March.

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

Saturday, 9 February 2019

The Mandalorian keeps original Star Wars trilogy tone

Director Taika Waititi (Thor: Ragnarok) recently talked about directing an episode of the Star Wars live-action series The Mandalorian, executive produced by Jon Favreau (Iron Man), for Disney+.

"Favreau's a genius and so smart and so good at what he does and creating these worlds," he revealed during a post-panel interview at the Television Critics Association's winter press tour. "The scripts are really great. And yeah, it was really fun doing something in the Star Wars universe. It's every kid's dream just to see a Stormtrooper. When you're doing these scenes with like 50 or 60 of them, it's pretty amazing."

Waititi is excited to direct Mandalorian bounty hunters after Boba Fett captured his imagination in the original trilogy. "For most kids growing up with those films, he was one of the most favorite characters, even though he was barely in the films," the director said. "Bounty hunters, the helmets are so cool. So yeah, I mean just getting to see characters like that and getting to shoot with them was pretty cool."

The Mandalorian is set between Return of the Jedi and The Force Awakens. Will Waititi be able to utilise his comedic eccentricities as evidenced in Marvel Studios' Thor: Ragnarok at Disney stablemate Lucasfilm?

"You know that Star Wars, you know, is just very different to the Marvel style," he explained. "They know that whatever was set up in the tone of the first films really should be kind of adhered to and that's what the fans like and you can't really disrespect it, I guess, is a nice way of saying it. Can't have too many jokes, but there's a little bit. Definitely my tone is in there, with the dialogue and stuff like that."

During the last few months, Favreau has shared photos, on Instagram, teasing different droids including what appears to be R5-D4 and bounty hunter IG-88.

The Mandalorian is exclusive to Disney+ later this year.

Friday, 8 February 2019

Avengers: Endgame could be 3 hours with intermission

Marvel Studios has released an official image showing the upgraded costumes for Avengers: Endgame and the Russo brothers confirm a potential running time of 3 hours, which may require an intermission much like sci-fi classic 2001: A Space Odyssey.

"We're still at the three-hour mark," co-director Joe Russo speaking to Collider.

Russo goes on to say, "I think the studio is down with what the best story is. Right now, we think the movie is playing well and we've had great responses from our test audiences and we're feeling very good about where it is. We're still doing work to it. We're not done with it."

"Again, this is a culmination film of 22 movies, it's a lot of storytelling to work into it," he explained. "Emotion is an intrinsic part of that to us. When you have to tell a really complicated story and you want strong emotional moments with the characters, it just requires a certain amount of real estate. This one, in particular, feels like three hours worth of real estate."

Disney Australia had released an official synopsis for Avengers: Endgame. However, this has been subsequently removed.

"After the devastating events of 'Avengers: Infinity War' (2018), the universe is in ruins due to the efforts of the Mad Titan, Thanos. With the help of remaining allies, the Avengers must assemble once more in order to undo Thanos' actions and restore order to the universe once and for all, no matter what consequences may be in store."

Avengers: Endgame will be in cinemas this April and stars Robert Downey Jr., Chris Evans, Chris Hemsworth, Scarlett Johansson, Mark Ruffalo, Jeremy Renner, Paul Rudd, Don Cheadle, Karen Gillan and Brie Larson who first appears as the titular Captain Marvel in March.

Wednesday, 6 February 2019

Captain Marvel skips Netflix for Disney+

Captain Marvel is in cinemas next month and will stream exclusively on Disney+, skipping Netflix entirely, later this year in the US.

It's worth remembering Disney has pre-existing first-run distribution deals outside the US. So, for example, Captain Marvel will be on Sky Cinema Disney in the UK.

However, this points to a future where Disney could premiere all its franchises, including those from Pixar and Lucasfilm, on Disney+, as the Mouse House seeks to catch-up with Netflix, Hulu and more.

“We have a number of creative engines across our company, many of which are dedicating their time and talents to develop content for the Disney+ platform,” Disney CEO Bob Iger told investors on Tuesday. “Many are the same innovators driving the prolific success of Disney, Pixar, Lucasfilm, and Marvel. We look forward to leveraging National Geographic for even more content on Disney+.”

Disney+ will not affect theatrical distribution for now.

“We’re not looking to adjust the theatrical window here,” Iger said.

Disney+ launches later this year with the first Star Wars live-action series The Mandalorian.

Tuesday, 5 February 2019

Marvel fan film: Moon Knight

Cult superhero Moon Knight, analogous to DC Comics' Batman, has yet to grace the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU). This non-profit fan film, from Paradox Studios, should keep fans satiated until then.

"Marc Spector is a man who's been shattered into 4 separate identities who come together to become the hooded crusader of vengeance: The Moon Knight."

Caden Butera, the writer and director of the fan film, says “I, along with all the other Moon Knight fans out there, have been dying for the character to get his debut on the big screen. He’s such an awesome & complex character; I hope one day he’ll hit the limelight of the MCU.”

What did you think of the Moon Knight fan film? Let me know in the comments below.

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

Monday, 4 February 2019

Captain Marvel Super Bowl TV Spot

As expected, there was no teaser trailer for Star Wars: Episode IX during the Super Bowl. However, Disney stablemate Marvel Studios was in full force.

New TV Spots dropped for Captain Marvel and Avengers: Endgame.

Captain Marvel and Avengers: Endgame will be in cinemas March and April respectively.

Friday, 1 February 2019

Aquaman beats Batman and The CW renews DCTV

As Aquaman, directed by James Wan (Furious 7), eclipses The Dark Knight Rises to become the most successful DC Comics movie of all time. According to Deadline, The CW has renewed DCTV hit series Arrow, DC's Legends of Tomorrow, The Flash, Supergirl and Black Lightning. Batwoman is set to enter the fray with her own spin-off following a successful introduction in Elseworlds.

My DCTV viewing has lapsed due to the abundance of genre series available. However, with the cancellation of Marvel Netflix series, including Daredevil and Luke Cage, I'm catching up, and am following DC Unlimited's live-action series Titans on Netflix outside the US with interest, too.

Rumours abound this year's annual Arrowverse crossover, Crisis On Infinite Earths, will finally witness DC Comics' television and movie franchises merge into the DC Extended Universe (DCEU), on par with the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) ahead of a new decade.

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

Thursday, 31 January 2019

Anthony Daniels finishes filming on Star Wars

Anthony Daniels (C-3PO) posted a poignant farewell on Twitter after wrapping filming on Star Wars: Episode IX, directed by JJ Abrams, on Monday. Daniels has the distinction of appearing in all nine Star Wars movies.

"Today was 3PO's last on Episode IX. He's sad - so am I. But we're so proud to have worked with such a lovely, talented cast & crew lead by J.J. & Kathy. I'll miss everyone but I'm glad to know that we've been making something exceptional together, to share with the waiting world."

The actor followed up with this tweet.

"I'm so touched by all your messages. I admit, leaving the set on Monday needed a stiff upper lip. No problem for 3PO. But for me... Now your tweets keep that feeling alive, making me sadly happy. But when one door closes... Then, doors aren't the only things you open. Are they."

Daniels has reprised the role of the beloved protocol droid countless times - from animated series to theme park rides - and it wouldn't be entirely surprising to see C-3PO cameo in a live-action Star Wars series for Disney+.

However, I want to thank Anthony Daniels for his positive contribution to the lives of generations of fans (myself included)! He was an amazing host at Star Wars Celebration Europe in 2016.

What are your favourite C-3PO memories? Let me know in the comments below.

Tuesday, 29 January 2019

Dua Lipa's Swan Song from Alita: Battle Angel

Dua Lipa's anthemic Swan Song, taken from Alita: Battle Angel, is accompanied by a suitably post-apocalyptic video that evokes Mad Max and WALL-E.

Directed by Floria Sigismondi, the video places Lipa in the film’s environment. Sigismondi explains “While in the film Alita is quite literally on a journey to discover who she is, her story serves as a really powerful allegory for any girl who doesn’t yet know her own power. I wanted to play with that same profound notion by dropping Dua into a facet of Alita’s world and allowing Alita to serve as a surrogate that leads her on a journey to discover she’s stronger than she ever could have imagined.”

Alita: Battle Angel, from visionary directors James Cameron (Avatar) and Robert Rodriguez (Sin City), is in cinemas 6th February.

Saturday, 26 January 2019

Richard E. Grant teases his role in Star Wars

Since Richard E. Grant was cast in Star Wars: Episode IX, fans have speculated he may be playing Grand Admiral Thrawn in director JJ Abrams' conclusion to the Skywalker saga this December. However, the Oscar-nominated actor quickly dispelled that rumour.

“I’m not playing the Star Wars character you just mentioned,” Grant previously shared with the Radio Times. “I’m not allowed to tell you anything. Otherwise I would be fired."

Despite the need for secrecy surrounding Episode IX, Grant assures fellow fans (myself included) it'll be more than worth it and I agree.

“Oh, it’s definitely worth it,” the actor shared. “If you’re a Star Wars fan, and I am, then knowing what’s coming in this is quite something. I absolutely understand why they’re so secretive about it, because it’s very exciting.”

Grant spoke of the security surrounding the script for Episode IX earlier this month.

“Yes, I am in the last Star Wars. I have no idea [if I’ll be recognizable] because I’ve not even been allowed to tell my family what the name of my character is," Grant shared with The Graham Norton Show. “If I told you I would get fired. We’re not even allowed to take the script home. There is a lot of security.”

Grant is fondly remembered by Doctor Who fans (myself included) as the corporeal form of the Great Intelligence. A disembodied alien, originally controlling the Yeti during Patrick Troughton's era, that sought to erase the Doctor, from all of time, during Matt Smith's tenure as the titular character. Star Wars reunites the actors with Smith purportedly playing a young Palpatine in a flashback.

Whilst we wait for an official title and teaser trailer for Star Wars: Episode IX. Who do you think Richard E. Grant is playing? A First Order Officer or a droid? Let me know in the comments below.

Tuesday, 22 January 2019

Marvel announces Star Wars: Galaxy's Edge comic

Marvel has announced an official tie-in comic book series for Star Wars: Galaxy's Edge from writer Ethan Sacks and artist Will Sliney.

"Black Spire Outpost has long been frequented by smugglers, merchants and travelers from every corner of the galaxy looking to make their score on the infamous black market – or experience the exotic thrills only the remote world of Batuu has to offer. It’s a place where beings thrive on unique opportunities of the lawless outpost at the edge of space – but the First Order threatens their livelihood…"

“For me personally, this is a chance to fulfill a lifelong dream that started back when I was 4 years old watching the opening crawl for the first time at the Astor Plaza in Times Square during the summer of 1977,” said Sacks. “This new adventure, set in the wondrous – and dangerous – Black Spire Outpost, will have profound consequences for the Star Wars universe, and fans will be excited to see this story span through the eras and bring together some all-time favorite characters, including Han Solo and Chewbacca!”

“Black Spire Outpost is a place of endless intrigue and adventure, and what’s uniquely exciting about the Star Wars universe is that we are able to bring these stories to life across multiple platforms including comic books, novels, games and the immersive experiences we are building in our theme parks,” said Scott Trowbridge, creative executive for the Star Wars portfolio from Walt Disney Imagineering. “Working together with Lucasfilm, we are able to integrate back stories, introduce new characters, as well as reveal previously untold stories about fan-favorite characters and their history with the planet Batuu and its colorful inhabitants.”

Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge #1 will go on sale in April.

Monday, 21 January 2019

Star Trek: Discovery engages warp factor fun

Star Trek: Discovery's second season begins with a fast-paced flourish fizzing with wit, intrigue and action.

The second season has the unenviable task of following up a divisive first season that witnessed Michael Burnham (Sonequa Martin-Green) starting a Klingon war to an epic Mirror Universe storyline that spotlighted the enemy within and culminated with a distress signal from the USS Enterprise under the command of the legendary Captain Pike. All the while The Orville, on the Fox network, was seen, by some fans, as the successor to Star Trek: The Next Generation.

From a chase through an asteroid field, a sci-fi trope never bettered since Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back, to Captain Pike (Anson Mount) sharing command of the USS Discovery, due to a stricken USS Enterprise, and the introduction of Chief Engineer Reno (Tig Notaro). She was instantly relatable and likeable in a scenario worthy of Mass Effect. Series showrunner and director Alex Kurtzman boldly brings the on hiatus Star Trek cinematic franchise to the small screen.

As you can probably gleam. I'm excited for the further adventures of the Discovery crew and Friday's next episode can't come soon enough.

What did you think of the second season premiere? Let me know in the comments below.

Thursday, 17 January 2019

Alita: Battle Angel featurette with visionary directors

Alita: Battle Angel, from visionary directors James Cameron (Avatar) and Robert Rodriguez (Sin City), is in cinemas next month. The long-gestating film adaptation of Yukito Kishiro's manga pushes the boundaries of visual effects.

In related news. James Cameron has completed principal photography on Avatar 2 and 3. These sequels will be in cinemas December 2020 and 2021 respectively. Disney's acquisition of Fox's film and television assets will see Avatar fill the void whilst Star Wars fans wait for new trilogies.

Alita: Battle Angel is in cinemas 6th February.

Wednesday, 16 January 2019

Is Tony Stark dead in Spider-Man: Far From Home?

Marvel Studios dropped a teaser trailer for Spider-Man: Far From Home on Tuesday and fans are already speculating whether or not the upcoming sequel confirms Tony Stark's death in Avengers: Endgame.

Whilst fans know Spider-Man was a victim of Thanos' infamous snap in Avengers: Infinity War, there's no telling when the sequel to Homecoming is set. That aside. Jake Gyllenhaal plays the villainous Mysterio in the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU).

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

Tuesday, 15 January 2019

Star Trek: Discovery spin-off starring Michelle Yeoh

Star Trek: Discovery’s second season starts streaming this Friday on Netflix outside the US. Longtime readers will know how much I enjoyed the first season with a few, very minor, reservations regarding the season finale.

Ahead of the new season premiere, CBS All Access has announced a spin-off series starring Michelle Yeoh as Captain Philippa Georgiou. This is Empress Georgiou from the Mirror Universe and, as such, the focus will be on the dark side of Starfleet, the infamous Section 31 introduced in Deep Space 9.

“I’m so excited to continue telling these rich Star Trek stories,” said Yeoh. “Being a part of this universe and this character specifically has been such a joy for me to play. I can’t wait to see where it all goes – certainly I believe it will go ‘where no WOMAN has ever gone before!’”

This is only the latest Star Trek spin-off from CBS All Access under the auspices of new series showrunner Alex Kurtzman. Sir Patrick Stewart is set to reprise the iconic role of Jean-Luc Picard and animated comedy Star Trek: Lower Decks is also in development.

“Michelle has shattered ceilings, broken boundaries, and astonished us with her grace and gravitas for decades,” showrunner Alex Kurtzman said. “As a human, I adore her. As an actor, I revere her. Erika and Boey are remarkable, exciting writers who bring a fresh perspective to the world of Star Trek, and we’re all thrilled to explore the next wild chapter in the life of Captain Philippa Georgiou.”

Are you looking forward to this Star Trek: Discovery spin-off series? Let me know in the comments below.

Monday, 14 January 2019

Game of Thrones' final season premieres April 14th

This is arguably the genre television event of 2019 dwarfing all before it. HBO has released a new teaser trailer for Game of Thrones and announced the date when the final season begins.

The final season spans six epic episodes with director David Nutter (Batwoman) helming half. Whilst a prequel series is already in preproduction at HBO, the Game of Thrones showrunners are creating a new Star Wars trilogy at Lucasfilm.

Game of Thrones final season begins 14th April on HBO and the premiere will be simulcast on Sky Atlantic in the UK.

Saturday, 12 January 2019

Iron Man writers to reboot Masters of the Universe

Sony Pictures and Mattel Films have tapped Men In Black's Art Marcum and Matt Holloway, who co-wrote Iron Man for Marvel Studios, to reboot the Masters of the Universe franchise on the big screen with brothers Adam and Aaron Nee directing.

Mattel's toy line, which I've written about previously, was a monster hit in the eighties and spawned an animated series, a live-action film starring Dolph Lundgren as the heroic He-Man and Frank Langella as his nemesis, Skeletor, and a reimagined animated series early this century. Subsequently, DC Comics has published an expanding series of Masters of the Universe crossovers with beloved DC Universe characters.

Masters of the Universe continues to be popular among avid collectors (myself included) and a cinematic reboot has been in development (on and off) for years. David S.Goyer (The Dark Knight Trilogy) most recently wrote a draft screenplay and is executive producer.

Friday, 11 January 2019

Save Earth or leave it in Netflix's IO

Following the runaway success of Bird Box, starring Sandra Bullock. Netflix has released a trailer for its upcoming post-apocalyptic sci-fi movie IO, starring Anthony Mackie (Avengers: Infinity War) and Margaret Qualley (The Leftovers).

"Sam, one of the last survivors on a post-cataclysmic Earth, is a young scientist dedicated to finding a way for humans to adapt and survive, rather than abandon their world. But with the final shuttle scheduled to leave the planet for a distant colony, her determination to stay is rocked by the arrival of another survivor, Micah. She must decide whether to journey with him to join the rest of humanity and begin life anew, or stay to fight for Earth’s survival. IO stars Margaret Qualley, Anthony Mackie, and Danny Huston and premieres January 18, 2019 only on Netflix."

IO will start streaming on Netflix from 18th January.

Thursday, 10 January 2019

Star Wars Resistance renewed on Disney Channel

2019 is a bumper year for Star Wars fans (myself included).

There's Episode IX in cinemas this December, The Mandalorian live-action series and The Clone Wars on Disney+, Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order video game from EA, Star Wars Celebration and the grand opening of Star Wars: Galaxy's Edge at Disney Parks.

Star Wars Resistance is set to continue with season 2 on the Disney Channel in the fall. The animated series, created by Dave Filoni (The Clone Wars, Star Wars Rebels), follows a young pilot named Kaz who is spying on the First Order.

The exciting mid-season premiere introduces a major villain from The Force Awakens.

What are you looking forward to most in the Star Wars universe? Let me know in the comments below.

Wednesday, 9 January 2019

Special look at Captain Marvel

Avengers: Endgame concludes an epic storyline, beginning in Iron Man over a decade ago, and sees Captain Marvel play a pivotal role in the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU). However, Carol Danvers (Brie Larson) will be seen first in her own movie this March.

"Based on the Marvel comic character first appearing in 1968, the story follows Carol Danvers as she becomes one of the universe’s most powerful heroes when Earth is caught in the middle of a galactic war between two alien races. Set in the 1990s, “Captain Marvel” is an all-new adventure from a previously unseen period in the history of the Marvel Cinematic Universe."

Marvel Studios has released a special look at the upcoming MCU instalment.

Captain Marvel will be in cinemas 8th March.

Tuesday, 8 January 2019

Star Wars movies won't premiere on Disney+

Whilst Disney+ will exclusively stream Star Wars live-action series, the upcoming streaming service, from the Mouse House, will not premiere new Star Wars movies.

Disney CEO Bob Iger explained to Barron's.

“We wouldn’t make a Star Wars movie for this platform. When everybody goes out on the weekend and you have a movie that opens up to $200 million, there’s a buzz that creates that enhances value. We like that,” said Iger. “And eventually, the movies we’re making are going to [end up on] the service.”

Given the astronomical budget of a Star Wars movie, it is uneconomical to premiere on the small screen.

“Almost every movie the studio makes is a $100 million-plus movie, and we’re not looking to make movies at that level for the service,” Iger said. “We’re looking to invest significantly in television series on a per-episode business, and we’re looking to make movies that are higher-budget, but nothing like that.”

Disney+ launches later this year with Jon Favreau's The Mandalorian.

Monday, 7 January 2019

Apple to announce Smart TV partnerships at CES

Ahead of this week's Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas, Apple and Samsung announced a strategic partnership to add iTunes Movies and TV Shows and AirPlay 2 to Samsung Smart TVs released in 2018 onwards.

Further to this. The Cupertino-based company will announce further manufacturer partnerships during CES. This is expected to include LG, Panasonic and Sony.

The move outside of Apple's ecosystem is forward-looking and taps into the company's investment in original content to compete with rivals including Netflix and Amazon Prime, spearheaded by a collaboration with director JJ Abrams (Star Wars: The Force Awakens).

Apple Music is already available as an Alexa skill in the US and AirPlay 2 is coming to third-party speaker manufacturers including Bose this year.

What are your thoughts on Apple's streaming strategy? Let me know in the comments below.

Friday, 4 January 2019

Batwoman pilot gets Game of Thrones director

The CW's annual superhero crossover upped the ante by setting up Crisis on Infinite Earths, based on the ambitious comic book series of the same name from 1985, in Elseworlds. Elseworlds is also notable for introducing Batwoman, played by Ruby Rose, to DCTV. Batwoman, AKA Kate Kane, is Bruce Wayne's cousin and fights crime in Gotham.

The CW has greenlit a Batwoman pilot directed by genre stalwart David Nutter, who has not only overseen episodes of Arrow and The Flash but also Dark Angel, Roswell and The X-Files. Nutter's most recent work includes Game of Thrones for HBO.

"Armed with a passion for social justice and a flair for speaking her mind, Kate Kane [Rose] soars onto the streets of Gotham as Batwoman, an out lesbian and highly trained street fighter primed to snuff out the failing city’s criminal resurgence. But don’t call her a hero yet. In a city desperate for a savior, Kate must overcome her own demons before embracing the call to be Gotham’s symbol of hope."

In related news. Netflix starts streaming Titans, a DC Universe exclusive, outside the US from 11th January.

Wednesday, 2 January 2019

Behind the visual effects magic of Ready Player One

Ready Player One was a nostalgia-fest for pop culture enthusiasts (myself included), driven by director Steven Spielberg.

Upon first viewing, I was left feeling oddly cold by a seemingly endless montage of nods to classic ephemera. However, the recreation of the hotel from Stanley Kubrick's The Shining was nothing short of spectacular and the magicians from Industrial Light & Magic (ILM) have released a VFX showreel.

Repeated viewings, over Christmas, revealed more easter eggs and solid performances from the main cast. Tye Sheridan (Parzival) looks a lot like a young Spielberg and has great chemistry with Olivia Cooke (Artemis). If there's ever a flashback in Stranger Things, Cooke should be cast as a young Winona Ryder. Just saying.

Tuesday, 1 January 2019

Star Wars fan film: Vader Episode 1: Shards of the Past

Star Wars: Episode IX will be in cinemas this December. Whilst we wait for the first teaser trailer for director JJ Abrams' (The Force Awakens) conclusion to the Skywalker saga. Here's an awesome fan film by Danny Ramirez from Star Wars Theory.

Vader Episode 1: Shards of the Past.

"Anakin Skywalker is DEAD.

For eight months, the mysterious Darth Vader has enforced the Emperor’s commands. Fighting between the loss of Padme, and the new cursed life he now leads, Vader must do what must be done when a surviving Jedi Master from Order 66 has lured him to the home planet of his late wife’s tomb…"

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