Wednesday, 22 May 2019

Knights of Ren return in The Rise of Skywalker

Kylo Ren's (Adam Driver) fabled Knights of Ren, first mentioned by Supreme Leader Snoke (Andy Serkis) and appearing in Rey's (Daisy Ridley) Force vision in Star Wars: The Force Awakens, will finally make their move in The Rise of Skywalker.

Many fans (myself included) imagined the Knights of Ren would play a pivotal role in Rian Johnson's The Last Jedi, but it was not meant to be.

Vanity Fair has an exclusive behind-the-scenes look at JJ Abrams' upcoming Star Wars sequel that will conclude the Skywalker saga spanning three trilogies beginning with George Lucas' original trilogy in 1977.

Tuesday, 21 May 2019

BBC and HBO adapt His Dark Materials

As the sun sets over Westeros and genre fans look to Westworld, HBO has its sights on a fantastical literary adaptation in conjunction with the BBC. His Dark Materials.

The classic Philip Pullman trilogy was previously adapted for the cinema in The Golden Compass, starring Daniel Craig (James Bond) and Sir Ian McKellen (The Lord of the Rings), but further sequels were abandoned. HBO and the BBC have released a trailer for the upcoming 8-part series.

His Dark Materials looks utterly compelling, but what's happened to the live-action adaptation of The World of the Worlds, BBC? Asking for a friend.

Monday, 20 May 2019

From Westeros to Futureworld in Westworld III

Before the climactic series finale of Game of Thrones, HBO dropped a sinister teaser trailer for Westworld season 3.

Aaron Paul (Breaking Bad) discovers a distressed Dolores (Evan Rachel Wood) in what appears to be Futureworld. Futureworld was the sequel to the original Westworld directed by Michael Crichton.

How long before the machines revolt? Find out on HBO in 2020.

Sunday, 19 May 2019

Who will sit upon the Iron Throne in Game of Thrones?

Not since Star Wars: The Last Jedi has there been such a vocal backlash from a fevered fanbase. Game of Thrones' final series is as divisive as it is brilliantly brutal (this is coming from someone who painstakingly built model kits; only to destroy them with fireworks). So much so, there's a fan petition demanding HBO remake season 8. Like that's ever going to happen as discussed with major spoilers here. Ownership is an issue that has plagued creators and their audiences for millennia. George Lucas tinkered with the original Star Wars trilogy, for creative and commercial gain, much to the chagrin of many fans.

Admittedly, there are increasing instances of choose-your-own-adventure (Fighting Fantasy was my literary gateway into the genre) creeping into Hollywood film and television series as video games surpass those long-lasting pillars as successful works of commercial art. Netflix recently experimented with branching storylines in Black Mirror: Bandersnatch.

During season 8 of Game of Thrones, there are moments when I instinctively reach for an imaginary games controller in order to save or allow Arya Stark (Maisie Williams) to die, much like playing Don Bluth's laserdisc-based Dragon's Lair in a Great Yarmouth arcade long, long ago. However, there will always be a place for linear storytelling and Game of Thrones has been a pop culture phenomena during a decade that has witnessed a seismic shift in geopolitics.

Did anyone really expect a franchise filled with deeply flawed antagonists, and no clear heroic archetypes aside from the bumbling Jon Snow (Kit Harington), would end happily ever after? Daenerys Targaryen's (Emilia Clarke) dark descent into the 'mad queen', nor Cersei (Lena Headey) and Jaime Lannister's (Nikolaj Coster-Waldau) fate, won't please everyone. But it sets up a difficult to predict finale.

As a wise person once told me: sometimes the journey is more exciting than the destination. Like Lost before it. Game of Thrones has been enriched by shared experiences with followers online and friendships forged. I subscribed to NOW TV in 2012 solely to watch the then-fledgeling series and would never have received Blu-ray box sets or been invited to preview the first four episodes of stablemate Westworld courtesy of the fine folks at Sky Atlantic.

Whatever happens in the series finale today, I'll be watching early Monday morning (BST). Just need to set my Alexa alarm...

Friday, 17 May 2019

Batwoman first look as The CW ends Netflix deal

The CW has released a first look trailer for Batwoman. Ruby Rose plays the titular crime fighter in the latest Arrow spin-off series joining The Flash, DC's Legends of Tomorrow and Supergirl.

Netflix has had a first-run deal with The CW since 2011 in the US, but Batwoman, Nancy Drew and Riverdale spin-off Katy Keene won't automatically be available as owners CBS and Warner Bros. look to capitalise on the streaming space themselves. It's becoming increasingly crowded and, with Apple TV+ and Disney+ entering the fray later this year, not everyone is going to succeed. The streaming wars have begun in earnest...

Thursday, 16 May 2019

Star Trek: Picard to boldly go on Amazon Prime

After inking an international distribution deal with Amazon Prime outside the US, CBS All Access has announced the title of its next Star Trek spin-off series.

Star Trek: Picard. Snappy and the logo makes inspired use of Starfleet's iconic insignia.

Star Trek executive producer Alex Kurtzman said Picard, starring Sir Patrick Stewart in the titular role, would be character-driven, “The mandate was to make it a more psychological show, a character study about this man in his emeritus years. There are so few shows that allow a significantly older protagonist to be the driver.”

“What happens when circumstances have conspired to not give him the happiest of endings?” Kurtzman teased. “Hopefully, it’s a reinforcement of [Star Trek creator Gene] Roddenberry’s vision of optimism. He’s going to have to go through deep valleys to get back to the light.”

Kurtzman said the series will be a contrast to Discovery's derring-do. “It’ll be very different than Discovery,” he says. “It’ll be slower, more meditative. It speaks to the rainbow of colors we’re playing within all these different shows.”

Star Trek: Picard is currently in production and expected to premiere later this year on CBS All Access and Amazon Prime.

Wednesday, 15 May 2019

Game of Thrones’ showrunners to helm new Star Wars

Speaking at the MoffettNathanson Media & Communications Summit in New York, Disney CEO Bob Iger announced Game of Thrones’ showrunners D.B. Weiss and David Benioff will helm the first instalment in the next Star Wars trilogy following JJ Abrams’ The Rise of Skywalker this December.

Fan reaction is mixed given the controversial creative choices made for Game of Thrones’ final season on HBO. I liken it to an essay on hubris much like Rian Johnson’s The Last Jedi that deconstructed and subverted established Star Wars tropes.

What do you think about a new trilogy helmed by the Game of Thrones showrunners? Should Disney replace them in the wake of an internet backlash or let the dust settle? Let me know in the comments below.

The first instalment in the new Star Wars trilogy will be in cinemas December 2022.

Tuesday, 14 May 2019

Disney buys Hulu ahead of launching Disney+

Disney+ launches 12th November in the US and the Walt Disney Company has taken full control of Hulu from Comcast. The acquisition of Hulu will further bolster the House of Mouse's challenge to Netflix in the, highly competitive and increasingly overcrowded, streaming space.

Disney+ will exclusively stream Marvel Studios and Star Wars live-action series including Loki and The Mandalorian.

Monday, 13 May 2019

Amazon Prime to stream 'Picard' Star Trek outside US

Star Trek: Discovery recently concluded its second season on CBS All Access and Netflix outside the US. The next Star Trek spin-off from CBS All Access, an untitled series starring Sir Patrick Stewart as fan-favourite Captain Jean-Luc Picard, will stream exclusively on Amazon Prime outside the US.

“There’s only one word that can begin to describe Sir Patrick Stewart as Starship Commander Jean-Luc Picard, and that’s ‘legendary,’” said series executive producer Alex Kurtzman. “We are thrilled beyond measure to have him back in command, bringing the optimistic messages of Star Trek to audiences around the world.”

“We’re thrilled to partner with CBS to bring the newest edition of the storied Star Trek franchise to our international Amazon Prime Video customers,” said Brad Beale, Vice President, Worldwide Content Licensing for Amazon Prime Video. “With the incredible Sir Patrick Stewart returning as the beloved Jean-Luc Picard, we’re excited we can give Trek fans both old and new the opportunity to see him back in action. It’s a terrific addition to our already robust catalog of exclusive Amazon Prime Video content.”

“For 50 years, the Star Trek series have been a global sensation, spanning generations and audiences of all ages. It’s an honor to welcome Sir Patrick Stewart back for what is sure to be another world-class extension of the historic franchise,” said Armando Nuñez, President and Chief Executive Officer, CBS Global Distribution Group. “We look forward to working with the team at Amazon Prime Video to bring this next chapter of the incredible Star Trek franchise to its passionate international fan base.”

This move is surprising as Star Trek has found a comfy home on Netflix. Whilst fans wait for further details, many fans (myself included) are hoping a Captain Pike (Anson Mount) spin-off will be announced. If not, it'll be one of the biggest missed opportunities in the franchise's long-running history.

Friday, 10 May 2019

Star Wars fan film: Vader v Kenobi duel reimagined

This Star Wars fan film reimagines the final duel between Obi-Wan Kenobi (Sir Alec Guinness) and Darth Vader (David Prowse) aboard the first dreaded Death Star in A New Hope. A scene infamously spoiled in the track listing for the soundtrack album. And this wouldn't be the last time a major plot spoiler would appear in a Star Wars soundtrack release. Qui-Gon's Noble End in The Phantom Menace is another notorious example.

"Scene 38 Reimagined is about the final confrontation between Ben Kenobi & Darth Vader in A New Hope nearly 20 years after the events of Revenge Of The Sith. This is a one-off story driven scene reflecting the characters in its chronological order from the point of Revenge of the Sith through Rebels, Rogue One, and all canon material leading to A New Hope."

George Lucas endlessly tinkered with the original and prequel trilogies prior to selling Lucasfilm to Disney in 2012. Those alterations have been met with derision by many fans. However, this fan film is certainly worth a watch in an era dominated by Hollywood bombast and attention deficit, a far cry from the seventies. There's a kineticism at play more in keeping with Kylo Ren's (Adam Driver) rage from The Force Awakens and The Last Jedi.

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

Thursday, 9 May 2019

The CW releases a teaser trailer for Batwoman

The CW has released a teaser trailer for the upcoming Batwoman spin-off series.

Batwoman, played by Ruby Rose, was first introduced in the amazing Elseworlds crossover event on Arrow, The Flash and Supergirl. Despite an apathy towards too many superhero series, I always make a point of watching crossover storylines and this year's Crisis on Infinite Earths will be no exception.

"Armed with a passion for social justice and a flair for speaking her mind, Kate Kane (star Ruby 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."

Batwoman premieres on The CW later this spring and the pilot episode is directed by genre stalwart David Nutter (Game of Thrones).

Wednesday, 8 May 2019

Star Wars is never really gone

Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker concludes the Skywalker saga, spanning three trilogies, this December. However, a new trilogy begins in December 2022 with sequels released in 2024 and 2026 respectively.

This seemingly contradicts Disney CEO Bob Iger's comments regarding the franchise going on hiatus following saturation. However, that's relative given the three-year gap, something original trilogy fans (myself included) were used to, between The Rise of Skywalker and first instalment of the next trilogy.

No details have been released regarding whether the trilogy is from director Rian Johnson (The Last Jedi) or Game of Thrones' showrunners D.B. Weiss and David Benioff.

The House of Mouse has also announced it's releasing James Cameron's four Avatar sequels every other year starting in 2021. Disney will continue to dominate the box office in the next decade with its Avatar, Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) and Star Wars franchises.

“We’re excited to put in place a robust and diverse slate that lays the foundation of our long-term strategy, bringing together a breadth of films from Disney, Pixar, Marvel, Lucasfilm, Fox, Fox Searchlight and Blue Sky Studios to create an extraordinary collection of cinematic experiences for audiences around the world,” said Cathleen Taff, president of theatrical distribution, franchise management, and business and audience insights at The Walt Disney Studios.

“With a strong summer already in place, we are eager to carry that momentum forward over the coming years thanks to a creative wellspring of bold and imaginative stories coming from our world-class studios – including several new chapters of two revered franchises, Avatar and Star Wars.”

Tuesday, 7 May 2019

Spider-Man: Far From Home is an epilogue to Endgame

Spoilers for Avengers: Endgame now that the Russo brothers have declared the lifting of an unofficial ban!

Marvel Studios has released a new trailer for Spider-Man: Far From Home and it confirms not only Peter Parker's (Tom Holland) grief in the wake of Tony Stark's (Robert Downey Jr.) death in Avengers: Endgame but also the multiverse. The multiverse will introduce the Fantastic Four and the X-Men in Phase 4 or later.

When Spider-Man finally appeared in the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) in Captain America: Civil War, his overused origin story was, mercifully, skipped and Iron Man became his mentor and felt responsible for the web-slinger's demise in Infinity War. And I'd wager Spider-Man is going to lead the New Avengers given Captain America's (Chris Evans) decision to travel back in time with the Infinity Stones and live out his life with Peggy Carter (Hayley Atwell) which the Cap had more than earned.

Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson) introduces Peter Parker to a Mysterio (Jake Gyllenhaal) from another Earth. Mysterio is a villain who captured my childhood imagination. Are we seeing misdirection at play?

Monday, 6 May 2019

20 Years of LEGO Star Wars

It's 20 years since the release of Star Wars: The Phantom Menace! This coincided with LEGO Star Wars. From modest beginnings, the license has flourished from brick sets to video games. I didn’t start collecting until a former high school friend sent me a LEGO Stormtrooper: became a totem during a traumatic time.

To mark the anniversary, LEGO has released 5 stunning commemorative sets including Anakin's Podracer (affiliate link) which started it all. Further to this. There's the newly announced buildable R2-D2, Mouse droid, and "Gonk" Power droid for the company's programmable Boost line.

To celebrate May the Fourth, the LEGO Shop (affiliate link) is running a special offer for fans that ends today.

LEGO has a very special place in my life. In the wake of a life-changing head injury, LEGO and puzzles aided neurological recovery in childhood. Subsequently, I've donated sets to various charities in memory of my late mum and always gift LEGO to younger relatives in hopes of inspiring their creativity.

What are your favourite LEGO Star Wars sets? Let me know in the comments below.

Sunday, 5 May 2019

Ron Howard in talks to bring Willow to Disney+

Director Ron Howard (Solo: A Star Wars Story) is in talks to bring Willow, written by Star Wars creator George Lucas, to Disney+ with Warwick Davis (Return of the Jedi) reprising the titular role over 30 years later.

Willow flopped, cinema goers were anticipating a new Star Wars, but has built a cult following among fantasy fans. I'll always treasure the memory of renting it on VHS and watching, with my parents, Lucas' medieval adventure on a blustery autumnal Sunday afternoon. Incidentally, Willow introduced me to The Lucasfilm Fan Club magazine (rebranded as Star Wars Insider) which printed a letter of mine in 1993.

“Warwick is so cool and so good and he’s such a good actor that I really hope we get the chance to see the mature Willow in action,” Howard said.

So, it looks like Willow will be joining Star Wars live-action series The Mandalorian and Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) spin-offs Loki, The Falcon and the Winter Soldier and WandaVision on Disney+.

Would you like to see the further adventures of Willow? Let me know in the comments below.

Saturday, 4 May 2019

Celebrate Star Wars Day with Design By Humans

It's May the Fourth which means fans around the world are celebrating Star Wars Day!

2019 is extra special as this year marks the conclusion of the Skywalker saga in Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker, there's Disney+ live-action series The Mandalorian and, for video gamers, Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order from Respawn Entertainment.

To celebrate, we've teamed up again with Design By Humans to bring Star Wars fans an exclusive discount on the latest collection featuring The Rise of Skywalker, The Mandalorian and Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order.

Exclusive savings of 10% on all products with coupon code: GENSTARWARS. Good through 31st December 2019. No minimum spend required.

Shop Design By Humans for official Star Wars apparel today!

About Design By Humans
DBH is a collective of gifted and creative people who take their inspiration from their surroundings. Over 15,000 of these fantastic artists share their imaginations with everyone by designing unique creations which can then be purchased on anything from stickers and wall art to phone cases and t-shirts. Because of the way this collective works consumers have easy access to unique art, and the artists themselves have an excellent space from which to promote their work. Artists use their individual stores to display their artwork which fans can then purchase on the item of their choice.

This blog post is sponsored by Design By Humans and as such, I may receive compensation for any referrals.

Friday, 3 May 2019

Peter Mayhew, Star Wars' Chewbacca, dies aged 74

Awoke to the terribly sad news that Peter Mayhew has passed away aged 74.

Mayhew played the mighty Chewbacca, Millennium Falcon co-pilot and best friend of Han Solo (Harrison Ford), in the original Star Wars trilogy and became a beloved fan-favourite to generations of fans (myself included).

"He put his heart and soul into the role of Chewbacca and it showed in every frame," his family said.

Together, Ford and Mayhew co-piloted the Millennium Falcon and took on the Empire in some of the franchise's most memorable scenes. "We were partners in film and friends in life for over 30 years and I loved him," said Ford.

"He invested his soul in the character and brought great pleasure to the Star Wars audience."

Mark Hamill, who plays Luke Skywalker, said: "What was so remarkable about him was his spirit and his kindness and his gentleness was so close to what a Wookiee is.

"He just radiated happiness and warmth. He was always up for a laugh and we just hit it off immediately and stayed friends for over 40 years."

I'll always cherish the bittersweet childhood memory of discovering, on Christmas morning, that my grandparents' dog, Smurf, had chewed up action figure Chewie!

May the Force be with you, sir! Always. RIP.

What are your favourite memories of Chewbacca? Let me know in the comments below.

Wednesday, 1 May 2019

Avengers: Endgame writer wants a Moon Knight movie

Avengers: Endgame screenwriters Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeely were recently interviewed by The New York Times. Markus revealed that Moon Knight is a character he's wanted to bring to the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) for some time.

“We really do just know what you know,” Markus said. “They’re doing The Eternals, which is a property I know next to nothing about. We’ve been here, trying to set this contraption running. Were we to take another one on, you can’t increase the scope or the stakes from where we are at the moment. We’d have to shrink it back down, do an origin story. There are deep-bench characters where I’m like, if you roll that guy out, I couldn’t resist. There is a great Moon Knight movie to be made, but I don’t know what is.”

Would you like to see a Moon Knight movie for Phase 4? Let me know in the comments below.

Tuesday, 30 April 2019

Fan service writ large in Avengers: Endgame

Avengers: Infinity War left our heroes and true believers (myself included) beaten and heartbroken in the wake of Thanos' (Josh Brolin) snap. It was The Empire Strikes Back of the franchise and things will be forever changed in the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU).

Mild spoilers ahoy, folks! Please avoid reading any further, if you don't want to know anything about the sequel to Infinity War.

In an era of 24/7 digital discourse, I miraculously managed (in part due to a self-imposed social media blackout and the goodwill of fellow fans) to avoid all spoilers and arrived at a sold-out screening that rivalled the comic-con atmosphere of Star Wars: The Force Awakens and last year's Infinity War.

The Russo brothers open Avengers: Endgame with a subversive salvo that sees the main villain seemingly victorious after destroying the Infinity Stones to prevent the surviving Avengers lead by Captain America (Chris Evans), now joined by Captain Marvel (Brie Larson) fresh from rescuing Iron Man (Robert Downey Jr.) and Nebula (Karen Gillan) who were adrift in deep space aboard Rocket's (Bradley Cooper) starship, from snapping things back.

However, Thanos is seriously injured and weakened from using the Infinity Gauntlet a second time and Thor (Chris Hemsworth), riven with guilt, takes Thanos' advice from Infinity War and beheads him before wandering into the wilderness. How can our beleaguered band of heroes, suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), reverse the irreversible?

Ultimately, Endgame delivers fan service (in the best way) on a grand scale I've dreamed about since poring over the pages of Marvel Super Heroes Secret Wars in the mid-eighties. A greatest hits compilation riffing on Back to the Future Part II, celebrating the ambitious scope of the MCU (spanning 22 interconnected movies, beginning humbly with director Jon Favreau's Iron Man in 2008), but at its core are the universal themes of friendship, family and what unites us.

It's an affecting and poignant tale, worthy of comparison with The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King, possessed of an emotional resonance that will continue to reverberate long after the end credits have finished.

Where do the Avengers go from here? Who knows. Well, Marvel Studios president Kevin Feige probably does with live-action series featuring Loki, The Falcon and the Winter Soldier and WandaVision for Disney+. But one thing is clear.

Make Mine Marvel. 'Nuff said!

Friday, 26 April 2019

Star Wars-themed Coca-Cola at Galaxy's Edge

Fans visiting Star Wars: Galaxy's Edge will be able to buy Star Wars-themed Coca-Cola drinks shaped like BB-8 or a thermal detonator if you're an aspiring bounty hunter.

Disney spokesman Scott Trowbridge said: “We’ve worked very hard to make sure that every detail feels authentic and consistent with what a real ‘Star Wars’ location would provide.

“For over 40 years, people have been dreaming about stepping into the worlds of Star Wars.

“With Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge, we want to give our guests the opportunity to finally make those dreams come true.”

Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge opens 31st May at Disneyland in Anaheim, California and 29th August at Walt Disney World in Orlando, Florida.

Thursday, 25 April 2019

Michael Biehn returns as Hicks in Audible's Alien 3

Friday is Alien Day and to celebrate the 40th anniversary of the original Alien directed by Ridley Scott, Audible has announced award-winner Dirk Maggs (Alien: River of Pain) will be directing a new audio adventure, starring Michael Biehn as fan-favourite Corporal Hicks (Aliens), based on William Gibson's unused script for Alien 3. Dark Horse Comics most recently adapted Gibson's script into a comic book.

Audible has released a brief synopsis for the upcoming audiobook:

"The story begins with the Sulaco on its return journey from LV-426. On board the military ship are the cryogenically frozen skeleton crew of that film's survivors: Ripley, Hicks, Newt and Bishop. We travel aboard and hear an alarm blare. Our heroes are no longer alone..."

The full voice cast includes Tom Alexander, Barbara Barnes, Michael Biehn, Cliff Chapman, Samantha Coughlan, Ben Cura, Dar Dash, Harry Ditson, Mairead Doherty, Graham Hoadly, Lorelei King, Laurel Lefkow, Martin McDougall, Sarah Pitard, Michael Roberts, David Seddon, Andrew James Spooner, Siri Steinmo, Dai Tabuchi, Keith Wickham and Rebecca Yeo.

I've had the pleasure of knowing Dirk Maggs since interviewing him, as an undergraduate at Bournemouth University, in 1995. His audio adaptation of Batman: Knightfall for BBC Radio 1 piqued my interest: not only as a lifelong fan of Batman but also media production. So, while fans wait to see what Disney does with the franchise, it's worth listening - with headphones - to Maggs' awesome Alien audio dramas from Audible (affiliate link).

Wednesday, 24 April 2019

Spider-Man: Far From Home to close Infinity Saga

There's a twist to this superhero tale, fellow true believers! Spider-Man: Far From Home will close out the Infinity Saga and not Avengers: Endgame according to a Newsweek interview with Marvel Studios' president Kevin Feige.

Feige said, “It’s the end of the third phase.”

The release of Spider-Man: Far From Home has been moved forward to 2nd July.

Avengers: Endgame opens in cinemas at midnight and fans will be able to find out for themselves how the depleted Avengers, bolstered by the arrival of Captain Marvel, defeat Thanos following the devastating finale of Infinity War.

Tuesday, 23 April 2019

Infinity Saga ends in emotional Avengers: Endgame

Avengers: Endgame is released in cinemas this week and early reactions to yesterday's world premiere suggest Marvel Studios has yet another epic blockbuster on its gauntleted hands mere weeks after the release of Captain Marvel!

The follow-up to last year's all-conquering Infinity War is the conclusion to the decade-spanning Inifity Saga that began with director Jon Favreau's Iron Man in 2008. Those lucky few invited to the premiere have heaped superlative praise on the Russo brothers' latest Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) opus:

"There wasn’t a dry eye in the house as the credits rolled for #AvengersEndgame."

— Ramin Setoodeh (@RaminSetoodeh) April 23, 2019

"Imagine the best possible version of #AvengersEndgame and somehow the film still surpasses all expectations. I cried 5-6 times. It’s the most emotional, most epic, MCU film. A tribute to ten years of this universe and holy shit the great fan service in this movie. Soooo good."

— Peter Sciretta (@slashfilm)

I couldn't be more stoked for Avengers: Endgame! So much so, I'll be going offline from Thursday to avoid spoilers ahead of seeing it next Monday at Vue.

Sunday, 14 April 2019

The Mandalorian first look at Star Wars Celebration

Star Wars fans got their first look at the upcoming Disney+ live-action series The Mandalorian, from executive producer Jon Favreau (Iron Man), during a panel at Star Wars Celebration Chicago.

The Mandalorian, starring Pedro Pascal as the titular character, is set between Return of the Jedi and The Force Awakens and follows a lone gunslinger modelled on Boba Fett.

Saturday, 13 April 2019

Become a Jedi in Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order

Respawn Entertainment, the EA studio behind Titanfall and Apex Legends, is determined to rinse away any residual bitter aftertaste, following stablemate Dice's Star Wars: Battlefront II microtransactions debacle, with Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order for PS4 and Xbox One this November.

An official reveal trailer for Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order was shown during Star Wars Celebration Chicago. The canon single-player video game is set between Revenge of the Sith and A New Hope, and you play as Padawan Cal Kestis, played by Cameron Monaghan (Gotham), as he's pursued by the Empire lead by the Second Sister.

EA took to Twitter to assuage Star Wars fans' concerns regarding microtransactions and loot boxes being added post-launch.

"No microtransactions. No loot boxes. And no, we won't be adding them," EA said. "A single-player Star Wars story for those of you who are ready to become a Jedi."

The thought of playing as a Padawan on the run, in the wake of Order 66, is too compelling to resist a month before Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker is released in cinemas. I'll be picking this up day-one for Xbox One X.

Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order is available for pre-order (affiliate link).

So, what do you think? Is the promise of no microtransactions enough? Let me know in the comments below.

Friday, 12 April 2019

Star Wars: Episode IX is The Rise of Skywalker

The title and first teaser trailer for Star Wars: Episode IX was announced during the Episode IX panel, featuring the cast and crew, at Star Wars Celebration Chicago.

The teaser trailer for The Rise of Skywalker broke Twitter and left many fans (myself included) in bits. From the opening shot of Rey (Daisy Ridley), mirroring Finn's (John Boyega) introduction in the teaser for The Force Awakens, building to a mythological crescendo, via Lando Calrissian's (Billy Dee Williams) reintroduction alongside Chewie aboard the Millennium Falcon and a heartbreaking scene with Leia (Carrie Fisher) and Rey, overlooking the shattered shell of the Death Star II before fading to black and dropping an epic bombshell, which I'd yearned for since the demise of Snoke (Andy Serkis) in The Last Jedi. The Emperor (Ian McDiarmid), the catalyst for the entire Skywalker saga spread over three trilogies, is back for one last hoorah...

Disney has confirmed the Star Wars movie franchise will go on hiatus after the release of JJ Abrams' The Rise of Skywalker this December. However, The Mandalorian live-action series will be on Disney+ (Disney's streaming service launches 12th November in the US). In related news. Alan Tudyk will reprise the role of K-2SO in a live-action prequel series to Rogue One: A Star Wars Story starring Diego Luna as Cassian Andor.

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

Thursday, 11 April 2019

JJ Abrams teases Star Wars: Episode IX

Star Wars Celebration Chicago begins today and fans around the world will be anxiously awaiting Friday's panel with director JJ Abrams (The Force Awakens), Lucasfilm president Kathleen Kennedy and cast members from Episode IX. A title and teaser trailer are expected to be announced.

Abrams recently sat down with Fast Company to discuss Apple TV+, building Bad Robot and the seemingly impossible task of completing the Skywalker saga, that began with the original Star Wars in 1977, after Colin Trevorrow (Jurassic World) vacated the director's chair citing creative differences:

“Our movie was not just following what we had started [with The Force Awakens], it was following what we had started and then had been advanced by someone else [with Star Wars: The Last Jedi]. So there was that, and, finally, it was resolving nine movies. While there are some threads of larger ideas and some big picture things that had been conceived decades ago and a lot of ideas that Lawrence Kasdan and I had when we were doing Episode VII, the lack of absolute inevitability, the lack of a complete structure for this thing, given the way it was being run, was an enormous challenge.

“However, to answer your question—truly, finally—now that I’m back, the difference is I feel like we might’ve done it. Like, I actually feel like this crazy challenge that could have been a wildly uncomfortable contortion of ideas, and a kind of shoving-in of answers and Band-Aids and bridges and things that would have felt messy. Strangely, we were sort of relentless and almost unbearably disciplined about the story and forcing ourselves to question and answer some fundamental things that at the beginning, I absolutely had no clue how we would begin to address.

“I feel like we’ve gotten to a place—without jinxing anything or sounding more confident than I deserve to be—I feel like we’re in a place where we might have something incredibly special. So I feel relief being home, and I feel gratitude that I got to do it. And more than anything, I’m excited about what I think we might have.”

Friday will be a day long remembered by fans. What announcements are you hoping for during the 5-day event? Let me know in the comments below.

Friday, 5 April 2019

Alien franchise to continue at Disney

You can't keep a 40-year-old xenomorph down for long. The Alien and Planet of the Apes franchises aren't going anywhere now that Disney has completed its acquisition of Fox's film and television assets.

According to The Hollywood Reporter, Fox’s Emma Watts, speaking during CinemaCon, said the Walt Disney Company has plans for the Avatar, Kingsman, Alien and Planet of the Apes franchises:

“We intend to do our part, and it is in that spirit that we will continue to create new stories.”

Given Disney's successful reboot of the Star Wars franchise, don't be surprised to see a new series of Alien movies with big-name directors at the helm.

In the meantime, director James Cameron's toiling away on his Avatar sequels for the House of Mouse. Expect these to fill the December void vacated by Star Wars, after this Christmas' conclusion to the Skywalker saga in Episode IX, for the foreseeable future.

IGN continues to showcase selected fan films to celebrate the 40th anniversary of the original Alien in the run-up to Alien Day on 26th April.

What Alien stories would you like told? Let me know in the comments below.

Thursday, 4 April 2019

Joaquin Phoenix's dark descent in Joker teaser trailer

"I used to think my life was a tragedy. But now I realise... it's a comedy." Thirty years since Jack Nicholson played the Joker in Tim Burton's Batman, Joaquin Phoenix (Her) plays Batman's nemesis in Joker, a dark origin story inspired by Alan Moore's The Killing Joke, directed by Todd Phillips this October.

What do you think of Joaquin Phoenix's incarnation of the Joker? Let me know in the comments below.

Tuesday, 2 April 2019

Avengers: Endgame tickets go on sale crashing sites

Tickets for Marvel Studios' Avengers: Endgame have gone on sale and crashed booking websites around the world. I'm currently stuck in a queue for Vue cinemas, which may last longer than an hour. So, here's a new trailer whilst fans wait.

Avengers: Endgame is in cinemas 25th April.

Monday, 1 April 2019

Sega Mega Drive Mini launches this September

This isn't an April Fools' Day joke. The Sega Mega Drive Mini (Sega Genesis Mini if you're in the US) has been officially revealed with a price and launch date.

Sega's following the success of Nintendo, and hopefully avoiding Sony's PlayStation Classic faux pas, with its own mini console, which has been developed in-house in the wake of concerns regarding previously licensed Mega Drive/Genesis consoles from third-parties, later this year. M2, the developer lauded for Sega Ages, is handling emulation. The £69.99GBP machine will include 2 control pads and 40 games (regions vary).

Sega has announced the following games for the Western version:

Altered Beast
Castlevania: Bloodlines
Comix Zone
Dr. Robotnik’s Mean Bean Machine
Ecco the Dolphin
Gunstar Heroes
Shining Force
Sonic the Hedgehog
Space Harrier II
ToeJam & Earl

The Sega Mega Drive (Genesis in the US due to a copyright issue and at the suggestion of Atari before a distribution deal fell through because Jack Tramiel wanted to focus on the Atari ST) ignited the 16-bit console wars and pushed incumbent Nintendo off the top spot with its futuristic looks and edgy marketing targeted at the cool kids. As a college student, I remember flicking through the pages of Dark Horse Comics and eagerly awaiting the UK launch of the console in 1990. This would be my first new console since Atari VCS, and the 8-bit computer era, dominated by the Commodore 64, was at an end. Near-perfect arcade ports of Sega titles, including Space Harrier and Golden Axe, were too irresistible.

Whilst I already own Sega Mega Drive Classics for Xbox One, I'll be adding the Sega Mega Drive Mini to my classic console collection this September.

Did you own a Sega Mega Drive/Genesis back in the day? What are your memories, will you be getting the mini console and which games would you like to see? Let me know in the comments below.

The Sega Mega Drive Mini is available to pre-order (affiliate link).

Thursday, 28 March 2019

Marvel Studios' new featurettes for Avengers: Endgame

Marvel Studios has revealed a running time of 182 minutes for Avengers: Endgame and released two new featurettes.

In the making of Avengers: Endgame, the Russo brothers discuss the advantages of using IMAX cameras for the climactic conclusion of the decade-spanning Infinity Saga.

Marvel Studios has also released a "We Lost" featurette with Robert Downey Jr. (Iron Man), Chris Evans (Captain America), Chris Hemsworth (Thor) and Scarlett Johansson (Black Widow). This evokes all the feels for Marvel fans (myself included).

Avengers: Endgame is in cinemas 25th April.

Monday, 25 March 2019

Netflix naysayer Steven Spielberg launches Apple TV+

Apple CEO Tim Cook took to the stage at the Steve Jobs Theatre to announce the Cupertino-based company’s first foray into streaming services. Apple TV+.

Rob Wainfur, the founder of The Bearded Trio and fellow Steven Spielberg fan, reacts to the news the Oscar-winning director is reviving eighties anthology series Amazing Stories exclusively on Apple TV+.

Guest post by Rob Wainfur

There was no denying that today’s announcement by Apple of its new streaming service, Apple TV+, was a glitzy affair with a bunch of A-Listers making an appearance such as Star Wars director JJ Abrams, Reese Witherspoon, Jennifer Aniston, Steve Carell, Oprah, Jason Momoa, Ron Howard, Hailee Steinfeld and even Big Bird from Sesame Street!

Of course, my interest was piqued when Steven Spielberg also joined the Apple hype train on stage. Apple, it seems, has really pulled out all the stops on this announcement and, with a hefty billion dollar investment in the fledgeling streaming service, is desperate to become one of the leading subscription-based providers and sit alongside the likes of Amazon Prime and, of course, Netflix.

But, and this may be slightly controversial, especially from a huge Steven Spielberg fan such as myself, with Spielberg and Apple now the best of buddies, I can't help but wonder if the recent attack by the director on Netflix, and whether or not it should be eligible for Academy Awards, was nothing more than a strategic plan by them to just muddy the waters a little? It does seem unlikely, but when the budgets are in the billions of dollars, and Amblin have a vested interest with Amazing Stories being one of the launch titles, then asking Mr Spielberg to just rock the boat ever-so-slightly could easily be a possibility, however remote.

Apple TV+ will be available on first and third-party devices including Samsung, LG and Sony smart TVs. This is an inspired, and necessary, move if the company is serious about rivalling Netflix, Amazon Prime and Disney+, which launches later this year bolstered by Fox’s extensive film and television catalogue.

One thing is for certain, with a new streaming service joining the party, and more on the horizon, we are most definitely going to need a bigger boat... And wallets [Apple has an app for that - Ed].

Apple TV+ is set to launch in over a hundred countries later this year. What are your thoughts? Let us know in the comments below.

Friday, 22 March 2019

Is Taika Waititi voicing IG-88 in The Mandalorian?

Executive producer Jon Favreau (Iron Man) teased on Instagram director Taika Waititi (Thor: Ragnarok) seemingly voicing IG-88 during post-production for The Mandalorian. Aside from the infamous assassin droid, Waititi is directing an episode of the Disney+ live-action Star Wars series.

IG-88 first appeared in The Empire Strikes Back as one of the bounty hunters tasked by Darth Vader to hunt down the Millennium Falcon and quickly became a fan-favourite. I owned several Kenner incarnations including the awesome 12" action figure. R5-D4, another droid from the original trilogy, will appear too.

The Mandalorian, set between Return of the Jedi and The Force Awakens, will debut exclusively on Disney+ later this year.

Thursday, 21 March 2019

The kids are all grown up in Stranger Things 3

Netflix has released the first full-length trailer for Stranger Things season 3. The kids from Indiana are seemingly pitted against a new big bad in a shopping mall.

The third season of Stranger Things sees the return of cast members Winona Ryder, David Harbour, Millie Bobby Brown, Gaten Matarazzo, Caleb McLaughlin, Finn Wolfhard, Noah Schnapp, Charlie Heaton, Natalia Dyer, Joe Keery, Cara Buono, Dacre Montgomery, Sadie Sink and Priah Ferguson, while new additions include Francesca Reale, Maya Hawke, Cary Elwes and Jake Busey.

Looking forward to the return of Stranger Things? Let me know in the comments below.

Stranger Things season 3 will be available to stream from 4th July.

Wednesday, 20 March 2019

Disney merges with Fox ahead of Disney+

The Walt Disney Company has completed the acquisition of Twentieth Century Fox's film and television assets ahead of the launch of Disney+ later this year.

From Buffy to The Simpsons. The House of Mouse has further bolstered its existing portfolio (including Marvel and Lucasfilm) and brought Deadpool, Fantastic Four and the X-Men along for the ride.

“This is an extraordinary and historic moment for us—one that will create significant long-term value for our company and our shareholders,” said Disney CEO Bob Iger.

“Combining Disney’s and 21st Century Fox’s wealth of creative content and proven talent creates the preeminent global entertainment company, well positioned to lead in an incredibly dynamic and transformative era.”

What will this mean for the future of the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU)? Let me know in the comments below.

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 (René 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.