Thursday, 18 July 2019

That's no moon... it's War for Cybertron Unicron!

HasLab has announced its latest crowdfunded project Transformers: War for Cybertron Unicron.

Unicron (voiced by Orson Welles) made his Death Star-sized debut in Transformers: The Movie (1986) and the planet-eating menace has become an integral part of Transformers lore.

For many fans (myself included), Unicron was a dream toy in the eighties. Now, fans can own the ultimate incarnation for $575. This is as long as 8000 fans commit to the project by 31st August.

HasLab's previous crowdfunded project was Star Wars: The Vintage Collection Jabba's Sail Barge (The Khetanna) from Return of the Jedi.

Head over to the official site for further details and to pledge support.

What are your thoughts on crowdfunded collectables? Let me know in the comments below.

Monday, 15 July 2019

These are the droids you're looking for on Prime Day

LEGO and Amazon have teamed up for Prime Day with the launch of LEGO Star Wars Boost Droid Commander set.

"Introduce creative kids to a rich LEGO brick galaxy of lovable droid robots, exciting missions and coding fun with the LEGO Star Wars BOOST Droid Commander coding toy for kids. This interactive buildable robots toy puts your child in command of 3 app-controlled Star Wars droid robots: R2-D2, a Gonk Droid and a Mouse Droid, each with their own personalities and skills. The 3 in 1 app-controlled programmable interactive robot models help to learn the basics of coding, engineering and robotics. Using the free LEGO BOOST Star Wars app, your young commander builds the droid robots, inserts the Bluetooth-controlled Move Hub into the robot that will solve each mission, and brings the robot to life using the intuitive drag-and-drop coding environment. Your youngster then constructs tools, weapons, targets, obstacles and lots more as they progress through over 40 exciting missions – they’ll love it! This great birthday or Christmas Star Wars gift idea also helps youngsters develop their critical thinking. LEGO robotics coding kits introduce them to basic engineering and robotics."

"With LEGO BOOST, children learn about loops and variables, improve STEM and creative-problem solving skills and develop their imagination as they toggle between guided and open-ended play. The LEGO BOOST app is available for selected iOS, Android and Kindle smart devices. The app offers regular updates with new challenges and coding options designed to encourage social play. Visit for a list of all compatible devices."

The LEGO Star Wars Boost Droid Commander set is available to buy (affiliate link).

Saturday, 13 July 2019

Jon Favreau on The Mandalorian

The Mandalorian, the first live-action Star Wars series for Disney+, doesn't air until 12th November. However, executive producer Jon Favreau (The Lion King) is already hard at work on the second season for the House of Mouse's nascent streaming service.

Speaking on Jimmy Kimmel Live, Favreau said:

“It’s honestly like turning over your toy chest and playing with all the Star Wars toys together. We’re having a great time. It’s all-new characters. It’s going to be on Disney+ coming up in the fall. And we’re done with the first season. I was actually writing part of the second season now.”

Favreau reiterated The Mandalorian is set between Return of the Jedi and The Force Awakens. The Empire has fallen and the galaxy is in chaos. The story follows a lone Mandalorian warrior (Pedro Pascal). Other cast members include Giancarlo Esposito, Nick Nolte, Gina Carano as Cara Dune, Emily Swallow, Werner Herzog, Omid Abtahi and Carl Weathers as Greef Carga.

A sneak peek at The Mandalorian will be shown during the D23 Expo next month.

Friday, 12 July 2019

Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance opens December

When Star Wars: Galaxy's Edge opened in California last May, there was much disappointment surrounding the delay of its most advanced attraction Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance. Disney Parks has confirmed it will now open on 17th January, 2020.

Disney Parks' official description of the ride:

"When it opens, Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance will blur the lines between fantasy and reality and will put guests in the middle of a climactic battle between the First Order and the Resistance. Guests will be recruited to join Rey and General Organa at a secret base. Along the way, they will be captured by a First Order Star Destroyer. With the help of some heroes of the Resistance, they break out and must escape the Star Destroyer, protect the secret base, and stay one step ahead of Kylo Ren."

Fans living on the east coast of America will only have to wait until 5th December when the ride opens at Walt Disney World, Florida. You can be assured our resident roving reporter, Nick Smith, will be checking it out for the Resistance.

Thursday, 11 July 2019

Meet the Star Wars Sith Trooper at SDCC

The design of Stormtroopers has evolved throughout the Star Wars saga and director JJ Abrams' (The Force Awakens) upcoming The Rise of Skywalker is no exception.

Meet the Sith Trooper, a fusion of a First Order Stormtrooper and Elite Praetorian Guard, announced ahead of San Diego Comic-Con (SDCC) next week. The distinctive red evoking the Royal Guards from Return of the Jedi, adding further to the Emperor's (Ian McDiarmid) return in the final chapter of the Skywalker saga.

"It has some really unique aesthetics to it,” said Lucasfilm archivist Madlyn Burkert. "And it has some subtle ties to previous stormtrooper designs, which I think fans will enjoy discovering."

Sith Trooper merchandise will be available from Funko, Hasbro, Hot Toys and LEGO at SDCC. Stormtrooper variants are always a highlight for me as a collector. From a trooper to Biker Scout; I amassed quite a collection from the original trilogy toy line by Kenner.

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

Monday, 8 July 2019

Jaws back in cinemas this summer

Jaws, the original seventies blockbuster from Oscar-winning director Steven Spielberg, returns to UK cinema screens this summer.

Spielberg's shark story is regarded as one of the greatest movies ever made, and caught my imagination at a very young age courtesy of John Williams' iconic soundtrack serenading Star Wars action figure adventures.

The classic blockbuster film will be screening at selected cinemas across the UK from 12th July, including Cineworld, Vue, Picturehouse, Showcase and selected independent cinemas, as well as in selected international territories.

For further details visit Park Circus.

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

Saturday, 6 July 2019

First step into a larger world with Star Wars Weekly

For many UK Star Wars fans (myself included) the gateway into George Lucas' space opera was via Marvel's weekly comic strip adaptation and making-of magazine. One of my earliest memories was starting at a new primary school, wheelchair-bound in the wake of a life-changing trauma, and making a new friend, Jeremy, who enthusiastically showed me his copy of Star Wars Weekly prior to seeing the movie in early 1978.

Nick Smith, our resident US-based roving reporter, goes on a galactic odyssey in the pages of a revived Marvel Star Wars. Is the Force still strong over 40 years later?

Guest post by Nick Smith

In February 1978 Star Wars was everywhere. In movie theatres. In toy stores. And in a five-year-old’s bedroom in the city of Bristol, England.

The bedroom belonged to my neighbour and best friend Stuart Barrett, who proudly showed me the first issue of a brand-new large-format comic called Star Wars Weekly. Stuart always had cool toys to show me like his Six Million Dollar Man figure [Steve Austin stood sentry whilst I was in children's hospital - Ed] and his inflatable light-up lightsaber [I had one of those too - Ed] but this was something different and within my boyhood budget. It didn’t matter that the comic’s cover had a blue-green Death Star, or that the innards were black and white. We were two little kids who loved the movie and this comic book introduced us to a brash new form of storytelling.

Being an impressionable lad, I went looking for my own copy. #1 was sold out but on my sixth birthday I was able to find #2 with a bright yellow cover depicting a “sand creature.” I was mesmerized by Roy Thomas’ dramatic prose and Howard Chaykin’s intentionally scribbled space art [Dark Horse printed my admiration for those fine folks in Classic Star Wars whilst we were at university together in the mid-nineties - Ed].

The flimsy periodical sparked a lifelong love of comics. Instead of an allowance, I asked my folks for Star Wars Weekly once a week. It was something I could count on in an uncertain world of house moves (we switched homes every year or two), fairweather friendships and school burdens. For three years, apart from a few novels, it was my go-to for original Star Wars material. My young brain was imprinted with themes of loyalty, compassion and determination against great galactic odds.

I wasn’t alone, of course. Stuart picked up the occasional issue and thanks to CYRIL (the fictional editor droid of the weekly) and the letters he printed, I got my first sense of a nationwide community – a group of people who shared my passion for Star Wars and sci-fi. I was part of something bigger than my own little world. Thousands of kids, adults, families were enjoying the same adventures as me, reading the same behind-the-scenes articles and discovering more of the Marvel universe through an eclectic mix of back-up strips.

Beyond its vivid covers and new Star Wars content (“At last! Beyond the movie! Beyond the galaxy!”) I was introduced to great stories and characters in the back-ups. Since the source comic was monthly, the main stories had to be spread across four or five weeks. That meant my heroes would spend a seeming eternity on Drexel the water world or the gambling-addled Death Wheel. The rest of the weekly was filled with science fiction of all stripes.

In the rear of the mag, I met the Guardians of the Galaxy, the original Star-Lord, the fatal femme Gamora and Rocket Racoon with an upper-crust British accent. I had my little mind blown by Jim Starlin’s mythical Warlock; was entertained by the big bald baby head of the Watcher, who introduced older Marvel cautionary tales; avidly read the shrinky dink adventures of Micronauts [a treasured toy line - Ed] and the Dirty Harry tactics of Deathlok the Demolisher. Deathlok and some of the one-off stories showed me that comics weren’t just for six-year-olds, that they could explore dark and mature themes. They could be gritty as a carbon-scored vaporator.

To create my own collection, I cut out the main story pages, taped them together and made a new cover. Without knowing it, I’d created my own omnibus many years before Dark Horse and Marvel published their own. When I proudly showed my Uncle Alan, he gave me that disparaging look non-fans give you when they don’t understand why you’re getting so passionate about pop culture. After that, reading the comic was never quite the same.

I cancelled the weekly when I heard a new Empire Strikes Back version was coming in 1980, only to find that it was a continuation of the same comic, missing an exceptional issue with Michael Golden art. I caught up with the series when it went monthly, with photo covers, and as US exports became more prevalent, I was able to collect the real deal – Marvel’s American edition of Star Wars [US imports were rarer than hen's teeth in my part of the UK. However, there was a gas station, near to where my Canadian grandmother lived, that had Marvel and DC Comics on the newsstand - Ed].

So why this uninvited trip down Nick’s nostalgia lane?

Last time I popped into TBS Comics, my local comic book store, I saw a little Star Wars Legends book with a Carmine Infantino-style cover. I thought it was yet another reprint and passed it by. Then I realized the truth.

As part of its 80th-anniversary hullabaloo, Marvel has published a continuation of its US comic, cancelled in 1986 when the publisher felt the proverbial fat lady had sung her last space opera. I was not happy at the time [I openly cried when it ended - Ed]! Little did I know that a staggering 33 years later, the next issue would come out. If fandom has taught me one thing, it’s patience.

#108’s “Forever Crimson” is an exercise in reminiscence, a sequel to the US #50 epic “The Crimson Forever.” That story featured killer crystals that turn Luke Skywalker red. The follow-up is fun to read, full of nods to the old comics, retaining the continuity of US #107’s “All Together Now.” Jaxxon the giant green rabbit and Amaiza from Marvel’s first original story cycle bump into Han Solo, following their own mercenary agenda. Domina Tagge, matriarch of the evil House Tagge, has a taste in jewels that tends towards the deadly.

The main character of this story – and a big draw for me – is Valance the Hunter, a cyborg who has spent years hating droids because he’s lost his own humanity, thought lost in an epic battle with Darth Vader over the ruby flame lava of Centares. Not only is Valance short some skin and bone, but he’s also missing some marbles. His character development is what really makes this book worth reading. In an earlier, classic issue, C-3PO risked sacrificing his existence to save Luke and this informs the former droid-hater’s actions. His moral choices are an echo of the original comic’s most powerful stories, wrapped up in an issue that child-me would have loved.

As an adult, I’m delighted by the cameos and the way that “Forever Crimson” works as a respectful continuation, rather than a clueless rip-off of those Star Wars Weekly stories. The comic has multiple writers and artists, including Cam Smith, Luke Ross and Leonard Kirk but the whole shebang flows well. Different covers are available from the likes of Infantino, Walter Simonson and Michael Golden and there are two short, tight articles, “Celebrating Marvel’s First Star Wars Comics” by Senior Editor Mark Paniccia and “The Stars of Marvel’s Original Star Wars,” featuring interviews with some of the key creators.

The legend of Valance the Hunter lives on. To a long-time fan like me, he is a bona fide part of the Star Wars universe, as much as C-3PO and R2-D2, Thomas’ Jaxxon, David Michelinie’s Shira Brie or Jo Duffy’s Plif the hoojib. #108 does justice to the characters who brightened my mind in the halcyon black and white days of the late ‘70s when paper-thin space tales opened the door to a world of imaginative possibilities... Beyond the movie. Beyond the galaxy. [Amen - Ed]

What are your memories of reading Star Wars comics? Let me know in the comments below.

Friday, 5 July 2019

Spider-Man's on vacation in Far From Home

Paul Moxham, fellow true believer, film fan and BBC cameraman, goes on a much-needed vacation after the events of Avengers: Endgame in Spider-Man: Far From Home. What could possibly go wrong?

Guest post by Paul Moxham

A mere two months since Avengers: Endgame, tears barely dry and jaws returned from the floor after the epic sweep of that behemoth blockbuster, and we’re back to see how Peter Parker (Tom Holland) is coping with what one can only imagine has been a rather eventful year so far.

Picking up shortly after the events of the second highest-grossing film ever (at time of writing), there’s nothing Peter would love more than to relax on a school trip around Europe and spend some time getting closer to MJ (Zendaya). Alas, upon arriving in Venice he is sought out by the former head of S.H.I.E.L.D. Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson) and Quentin Beck (Jake Gyllenhaal), a stranger from another universe, to help defeat the Elementals, large world-ending creatures who’ve nipped through the same dimensional door as Beck.

If this sounds like classic summer blockbuster-fare, that’s because it is. A refreshingly light and breezy riposte to the universe-ending darkness of Endgame. The chemistry and tone of Homecoming is recaptured within minutes, director Jon Watts still successfully taking his cues from 80s high school movies. Credit to Marvel Studios, 23 films in now, and still able to refocus with ease from enormous cosmic shenanigans to a young guy from Queens trying to get a girlfriend.

The humour and action sit well alongside recurrent themes of self-doubt and lost father figures, writers McKenna and Sommers skilfully allowing the drama to flow from the action as much as dialogue. We learn probably just as much about the characters from what they do as what they say. The film mines a huge amount from Peter’s determination and inherent goodness in the face of grief and the expectation of others.

Although it’s not a complete home-run. Despite certain plot points seemingly flagged up early on, the first half an hour seems determined to hammer them home, resulting in a slower pace. The sharp wit and cast chemistry thankfully allaying fears of a slog ahead. And whilst full of lovely visual touches the third act is a rather typical Marvel bashy-crashy conclusion. That stellar character work and performance once more the real hero, elevating proceedings above the typical.

Those visuals are wonderful, especially one particularly Steve Ditko-inspired sequence, with the action being reliably quick, exciting and ready with an angle or perspective you didn’t know you needed.

Ultimately the film is a joyous testament to why Peter Parker has been loved for so long by so many people; he’s a good person, with cool superpowers, doing the best he can for others often at the expense of his own happiness. Who wouldn’t want to spend time with someone like that?

Thursday, 4 July 2019

Daisy Ridley teases emotional ending to Star Wars

Whilst promoting her new movie Ophelia, Daisy Ridley (Rey) talked to USA Today about the backlash against director Rian Johnson's Star Wars: The Last Jedi and that Rey's parentage will be revealed in Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker: “[Director JJ Abrams] did say the question is answered. So at the end of the film, you do know what the dealio is.”

Ridley went on to describe how the final chapter in the Skywalker saga differs from The Force Awakens and The Last Jedi: “Genre-wise, it’s different from the other two, which will become clear when the film comes out. It’s quite emotional. There’s a different drive than the previous two films, but there’s a lot of fun. I really missed John [Boyega] during the last one, but we’re back together and now Oscar [Isaac] is part of it. To me, it felt like kids going on an adventure.”

Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker is in cinemas this December.

Wednesday, 3 July 2019

Exclusive Funko Pop! Millennium Falcon with Han Solo

Funko has teamed up with Amazon to produce Funko Pop! Deluxe: Star Wars - Millennium Falcon with Han Solo for Prime Day.

"From a long time ago, in a galaxy far away... The Millennium Falcon with Han Solo as a Pop! Deluxe from Funko! This Pop! Deluxe captures all the amazing little details of the iconic spaceship and is among the largest figures Funko has ever produced! Don't miss out on your chance to own the ship that made the Kessel Run in under 12 parsecs as only Funko can deliver! The figure measures 5. 5" tall, is 10. 5" wide and 13. 25" long and come in a window box display. This item will surely become the centrepiece of your Funko Pop! Star Wars collection!"

Click here to pre-order (affiliate link).

Will you be adding Funko Pop! Deluxe Millennium Falcon with Han Solo to your collection? Let me know in the comments below.

Tuesday, 2 July 2019

The Witcher and The Dark Crystal at SDCC

Netflix has released new images for The Witcher series starring Henry Cavill (Man of Steel) as Geralt, Freya Allan as Ciri and Anya Chalotra as Yennefer.

"Based on the best-selling fantasy series of books, The Witcher is an epic tale of fate and family. Geralt of Rivia, a solitary monster hunter, struggles to find his place in a world where people often prove more wicked than beasts. But when destiny hurtles him toward a powerful sorceress, and a young princess with a dangerous secret, the three must learn to navigate the increasingly volatile Continent together."

The Witcher may fill the void vacated by Game of Thrones as Amazon prepares a multimillion prequel series to The Lord of the Rings.

Netflix is bringing The Witcher and The Dark Crystal: Age of Resistance to Hall H at San Diego Comic-Con (SDCC) on 19th July. So, expect plenty of further details soon.

Fantasy fans (myself included) have much to look forward to when The Dark Crystal: Age of Resistance and The Witcher arrive on Netflix later this year.

Monday, 1 July 2019

Limited Run's Star Wars: Bounty Hunter for PS4

Limited Run Games is re-releasing classic Star Wars video games for the Nintendo Entertainment System (NES) and more. Now, the company has announced Star Wars: Bounty Hunter, originally released for GameCube and PS2 in 2002, for the PS4.

"The hunt begins. You are Jango Fett, the galaxy's most dangerous bounty hunter, hired to hunt down the elusive leader of a mysterious cult--dead or alive. Through 18 action-packed levels across six diverse worlds, face-off against galactic scum, fearsome beasts, and brutal competition that stand between you and your prey: a deranged dark Jedi. This hunt will lead you to the darkest corners of the Star Wars universe where no one else has dared to go, but you are the fearless, ruthless, and relentless Jango Fett. For the galaxy's most wanted, there is no place to hide."

You can pre-order Bounty Hunter and more here.

What Star Wars titles would you like to see Limited Run Games re-release? Let me know in the comments below.

Saturday, 29 June 2019

Victoria Pedretti returns in The Haunting of Bly Manor

Victoria Pedretti is returning to The Haunting of Hill House franchise for season 2 on Netflix. Pedretti played the ill-fated Eleanor "Nell" Crain to devastating effect.

Pedretti says: "Hey everyone. I'm very excited to announce that I will be returning to the Haunting universe, in season 2: The Haunting of Bly Manor. I play Dani, a governess who takes care of two very unusual children.

"Our incredible writing team is writing the new season right now and I'm so excited to get going. It will hit Netflix in 2020 and I think you're gonna love it."

“Mike Flanagan and Trevor Macy are masterful at creating authentically frightening stories that leave audiences on the edge of their seats, but unable to look away,” said Cindy Holland, Vice President, Original Content at Netflix. “We’re excited to continue our partnership with them on The Haunting series and future projects to come.”

Flanagan and Macy added: “Netflix has been an important part of our story, and we’re proud to have worked with them on The Haunting of Hill House, not to mention Gerald’s Game, Hush, and Before I Wake… They’ve enabled and supported a great deal of our work and we look forward to much more.”

No spoilers because that would be a disservice to the series and fellow horror enthusiasts who haven't seen the first season. The Haunting of Hill House is gothic genius. Every frame is chillingly captivating as a dysfunctional family, led by Henry Thomas (E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial), is haunted by ghosts of the past and present. Hopefully, many of the original cast including Carla Gugino will be brought back for this anthology series.

Friday, 28 June 2019

Daisy Ridley won't be in the new Star Wars trilogy

The first instalment in the next Star Wars trilogy, from Game of Thrones' David Benioff and D.B. Weiss, won't see the return of familiar faces from the sequels when it enters cinemas in December 2022.

"I mean, I can say I’m not in the next trilogy," Daisy Ridley (Rey) told BuzzFeed News in a recent interview. "No. I think, 'cause Rian always said … if it’s the Rian one … or it’s the guys that did Game of Thrones. I’m not sure. Whichever one it was, they always said it was going to be a separate story. So I’m not. No."

Ridley wasn’t clear about whether or not she would ever return to the franchise after the conclusion of the Skywalker saga, in The Rise of Skywalker, this December. "I mean, it’s a great universe. I’ve had a great time,” she said. Here's hoping Ridley reprises the role, as she has previously with Star Wars: Forces of Destiny, for Disney+.

Thursday, 27 June 2019

The CW's summer sci-fi series Pandora premieres July

The CW has released key art and announced the premiere date for Pandora starring Priscilla Quintana (Traffik) as Jax.

"Set in the year 2199, PANDORA is a sci-fi action series about a resourceful young woman who has lost everything but finds a new life at Earth’s Space Training Academy where she and her friends learn to defend the Galaxy from threats, both alien and human. When secrets about the nature of her own identity begin to surface, she must uncover the truth, and whether she will be humanity’s savior or the instrument of its destruction."

Banita Sandhu (October) plays Delany Pilar in memory of Michael Piller, the late executive producer and writer for Star Trek: The Next Generation and Deep Space Nine.

Pandora premieres 16th July on The CW.

Wednesday, 26 June 2019

Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order extended gameplay demo

Further to E3 earlier this month, EA has released an extended gameplay demo for Respawn Entertainment's upcoming title set in a galaxy far, far away... Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order.

"Order 66 has been executed. Once, staying alive meant hiding your abilities. Now, you must embrace them. Use the Force to manipulate your environment, master lightsaber combat, explore dangerous terrain, and remain one step ahead of the Empire."

The extended gameplay footage shows Cal Kestis (Cameron Monaghan) and his droid sidekick, BD-1, commandeer an AT-AT in a manner mixing God of War and Uncharted gameplay mechanics.

Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order (affiliate link) is released this November on PS4 and Xbox One for console-owning fans.

Are you excited for Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order? Does it evoke the original Dark Forces? Let me know in the comments below.

Tuesday, 25 June 2019

Stranger Things brings back New Coke

Coca-Cola is reviving New Coke, the company's infamous formula change, for Stranger Things season 3 and has released an extended commercial. Steve (Joe Keery) and Dustin's (Gaten Matarazzo) friendship is one of the best character arcs in the series.

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 and New Coke? Let me know in the comments below.

Stranger Things season 3 streams on Netflix on 4th July.

Sunday, 23 June 2019

The Dark Crystal: Age of Resistance at the BFI

To celebrate The Dark Crystal: Age of Resistance on Netflix, an exhibition will open at the BFI Southbank this summer.

Jim Henson's original opus, inspired by the works of Brian Froud (my late mum knew Wendy Froud who worked on Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back), enthralled me as a young child. However, that first fateful viewing at the ABC Cinema, Exeter, was a little too intense - Garthim and Skeksis anyone? Rediscovering The Dark Crystal, on a special edition DVD in 1999, I was beguiled by its lyrical beauty once again!

In a post-Game of Thrones world, The Dark Crystal: Age of Resistance offers a rich universe populated by fantastical characters played by a cast of stars including Helena Bonham Carter, Natalie Dormer, Eddie Izzard and Mark Hamill.

The exhibition, featuring workshops, Q&A sessions, and a making-of gallery, will be open to the public and will run from 23rd August until 6th September.

The Dark Crystal: Age Of Resistance will premiere on Netflix on 30th August.

Friday, 21 June 2019

Action-packed final trailer for Stranger Things season 3

Netflix has released the final trailer for Stranger Things season 3 and it's an all-out war for the kids from Hawkins, Indiana.

Stranger Things season 3 streams exclusively on Netflix from 4th July.

Wednesday, 19 June 2019

Game of Thrones prequel begins filming

The final season of Game of Thrones may have divided fans. However, HBO has begun filming a promising pilot for the prequel series in Northern Ireland, set thousands of years before Jon Snow (Kit Harington) and Daenerys Targaryen (Emilia Clarke) bravely battled the Night King, penned by Jane Goldman (X-Men: First Class).

“Westeros is a very different place,” George R.R. Martin told EW. “There’s no King’s Landing. There’s no Iron Throne. There are no Targaryens — Valyria has hardly begun to rise yet with its dragons and the great empire that it built. We’re dealing with a different and older world and hopefully that will be part of the fun of the series.”

Naomi Watts stars along with Naomi Ackie, Denise Gough, Miranda Richardson, Josh Whitehouse, Jamie Campbell Bower, Sheila Atim, Ivanno Jeremiah, Alex Sharp and Toby Regbo.

If all goes according to plan, the prequel series is expected to premiere in late 2020 or early 2021 on HBO.

Tuesday, 18 June 2019

Arcade1Up brings classic Atari Star Wars trilogy home

It's summer 1983, my parents have stopped at Gordano services off the M5. Holding a battered copy of Peter Davison's Book of Alien Monsters, I wander into a smokey, dimly lit, arcade after hearing Obi-Wan Kenobi's voice! A childhood dream of flying an X-Wing into the Death Star trench is within my grasp...

The classic Atari title, with its dazzling vector graphics and use of original music, sound effects and dialogue from Star Wars, was quickly followed by The Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi. The latter I discovered in Dawlish Warren during the summer of 1986.

Arcade1Up, with an established pedigree for officially licensed replica arcade cabinets including Gauntlet (affiliate link), has announced the original Star Wars trilogy from Atari.

Sunday, 16 June 2019

I Am Mother is a maternal Chappie

I Am Mother is the best Netflix original genre film since director Alex Garland's Annihilation. Like Garland's previous film, Ex Machina, I Am Mother shares the same sense of encroaching claustrophobia and mines a rich seam of sci-fi tropes (at times inverting them) with post-apocalyptic aplomb!

Set in the aftermath of an extinction event, I Am Mother could have been a pedestrian retread of overly-familiar themes. Instead, it is elevated by stunning cinematography, taut direction from first-time film director Grant Sputore with a background in commercials like Ridley Scott and David Fincher, Weta's wizardry - Mother is a memorable robot performed by Luke Hawker - and an inspired casting trifecta. Hilary Swank (Woman) channelling Linda Hamilton, Rose Byrne as the sensitive voice of Mother, and Clara Rugaard (Daughter) who is the revelatory driving force and evokes a young Natalie Portman.

I Am Mother weaves a philosophical tale of artificial intelligence raising human life, a prevalent sociological theme as digital assistants become increasingly integrated into our daily lives. What are Mother's motivations and is Daughter in danger from her gleaming guardian or the mysterious woman? There are nods to Alien, Blade Runner and Terminator as Sputore and screenwriter Michael Lloyd Green explore allegorical subtext with greater subtlety than Neill Blomkamp (Chappie).

Where I Am Mother stumbles is in the third act as the story moves from a confined space into an open world decades after a cataclysmic war. Yet, despite that unexpected narrative stutter, the ending is ambiguous and thought-provoking. It is easy to see Sputore going on to direct for Marvel Studios and a galaxy far, far away...

Saturday, 15 June 2019

Is Star Wars: Galaxy's Edge worth the read and ride?

Star Wars: Galaxy's Edge opened, with much fanfare, at Disneyland in Anaheim, California, last May. Our resident US correspondent, Nick Smith, discovers whether or not Marvel's Galaxy's Edge tie-in comic book series is also worth the ride?

Guest post by Nick Smith

It’s sitting there like a gleaming heap of wonderful space junk in a theme park not so far away. The Millennium Falcon is parked in Orlando, Florida, 5 hours from where I live, plopped in an outpost called Black Spire. Unfortunately, I can’t climb aboard the ship and go for a beer run, let alone a Kessel one. The 14-acre corner of Disney World doesn’t open until August 29th, 2019.

However, the Anaheim, California, Galaxy's Edge launched in May with a five-minute original soundtrack by John Williams, a visit from Billy Dee Williams (Lando Calrissian), Mark Hamill (Luke Skywalker) and Harrison Ford (Han Solo), and a touching tribute to the late Peter Mayhew (Chewbacca).

The impression given by the press photos and behind-the-scenes footage is one of breathtaking scale. The Falcon towers over the actors and visitors. There’s a droid depot, a cantina and two major rides, Smuggler’s Run and (at a later date) Rise of the Resistance.

When I last visited Orlando’s Hollywood Studios a few years ago, Galaxy’s Edge was under construction – pardon our space dust – and I was concerned! Some speeder craft sat outside a shed; there were props and games in a dark studio space called Launch Bay; Kylo Ren fooled with a cheap toy lightsaber and First Order troops marched back and forth like they couldn’t find the exit. Was this going to be a half-assed blend of our world and the Outer Rim? When Galaxy's Edge opened, would I be making a five-hour drive to disappointment?

I needn’t have worried. In all their glory the Star Wars trappings are by all accounts seamless, providing escapism from our landlocked lives – a big attraction of the original movies, of course. Got bills to pay? Make the jump to hyperspace for a couple of hours. Relationship troubles? Go hug a wookiee!

To whet our appetites for this new land, with events set between Episode VIII and IX, there’s a five-issue comic book series from Marvel that gives some hints of what we can expect in Black Spire. The comics, by writer Ethan Sacks and artist Will Sliney, follow the shady adventures of Remex, Kendoh and Wooro, three outlaws trying to keep a low profile in the First Order-occupied outpost. Not so low, though, that they’re not prepared to pull a heist. Their target: the hammer-headed Ithorian Dok-Ondar who runs the Den of Antiquities, a collection of rare objects and beasties such as baby sarlaccs.

Han Solo and Chewbacca snag the babies in a first issue flashback. While it’s always nice to see the pair of smugglers doing what they do most (smuggling and getting out of tough scrapes), sarlaccs are best left underground and don’t come across as very threatening in their infancy. They’re actually kind of cute if you’re into teeth and tentacles.

The end of the first issue of Galaxy’s Edge hides the identity of a rare and precious object… until you turn the page and a house ad reveals that it’s a lightsaber! Might want to rethink those commercials, Marvel, and the plot too – since there’s a lightsaber shop just down the street from the Den. Not so rare after all, although this saber is a relic that once belonged to Jedi Master Ki-Adi-Mundi from the prequels.

The second issue, “Shoot First, Questions Later,” is better written – the narrative is faster, more intense as Star Wars creator George Lucas would say – framing two flashbacks this time. The main one focuses on Rodian bounty hunter Greedo who comes across as a bit of a loser, sent by Jabba the Hutt on a past mission to kidnap a codebreaker. Poor Greedo’s plans never go quite right although at the end of this tale Jabba gives him another chance… “a simple bounty.”

The flashbacks are fun but the deficit of this format is that the main story doesn’t progress very far and we don’t get to know the outlaws very well. The glimpses we get of the planet of Batuu betray its real-world influences – Tunisia, Jordan, Istanbul, wrapped in a morass of Arabian marketplaces and sand-seared hardware. The LA Times describes it as, “the mouse-ears version of the Persian Gulf” and it comes complete with an invasive superpower.

Beyond setting the microcosmic mise-en-scene, the comics don’t give a lot away about the new park. The Den of Antiquities is a major setting in the story so far and it’s an attraction in Anaheim and Orlando. In the marketplace backgrounds, attractively and authentically drawn by Sliney, there’s an emphasis on variety. How cool will it be to have Rebels, Stormtroopers and aliens like Dok-Ondar wandering around in real life? Very.

With its connections to the movies we love, particularly the characters and post-The Last Jedi setting, Batuu looks like an exciting melting pot of a place to visit. As a hint at adventures to come and a souvenir of the park, Galaxy’s Edge is worth the read (and the ride).

Friday, 14 June 2019

Star Wars Celebration returns to Anaheim in 2020

Star Wars Celebration returns to Anaheim, California, in 2020 and dates for the 4-day event have been announced. The official fan convention runs from 27th - 30th August. Fans will be able to visit Galaxy's Edge in Disneyland, too.

Star Wars Celebration Europe remains the best convention I've ever attended and here's hoping it's not another ten years before it returns to the UK. The event is produced by Lucasfilm in collaboration with ReedPOP.

Thursday, 13 June 2019

Synopsis for Stranger Things season 3

Stranger Things returns to Netflix in less than a month. So, here's a new season synopsis to whet your appetite.

"It’s 1985 in Hawkins, Indiana, and summer’s heating up. School’s out, there’s a brand new mall in town, and the Hawkins crew are on the cusp of adulthood. Romance blossoms and complicates the group’s dynamic, and they’ll have to figure out how to grow up without growing apart. Meanwhile, danger looms. When the town’s threatened by enemies old and new, Eleven and her friends are reminded that evil never ends; it evolves. Now they’ll have to band together to survive, and remember that friendship is always stronger than fear."

Are you looking forward to the third season of Stranger Things? Following the further adventures of Dustin (Gaten Matarazzo) and Steve (Joe Keery) as evil gathers in The Starcourt Mall? Let me know in the comments below.

Netflix is expected to announce exclusive content for Fortnite, the free-to-play battle royale video game, at E3.

Stranger Things season 3 is available from 4th July only on Netflix.

Wednesday, 12 June 2019

Konami brings PC Engine mini to E3

Konami is joining Nintendo, Sony and Sega by announcing its own range of official mini consoles at E3.

The PC Engine Core Grafx mini, the PC Engine mini and the TurboGrafx-16 mini will be released in three different regions to mark the 30th anniversary of the TurboGrafx-16's launch in the US coinciding with the Sega Genesis.

Confirmed games so far include:

New Adventure Island
Ninja Spirit
Ys Book I & II
Dungeon Explorer
Alien Crush

Simultaneous five-player gaming with multitap (sold separately) for compatible titles. The Japanese version will include Dracula X: Rondo of Blood, a regional exclusive which was only available on CD-ROM. Let's hope Konami makes it available for all regions.

The PC Engine was an expensive import back in 1988 and I would leaf through the pages of The Games Machine and drool at the prospect of playing a near-perfect port of arcade classic R-Type. I was given the choice of a PC Engine or Sony Discman as a reward for successfully getting into college that summer. I decided on the latter which included 5 free music CDs.

Are you excited about the PC Engine mini (affiliate link)? Let me know in the comments below.

Monday, 10 June 2019

LEGO Star Wars: The Skywalker Saga announced at E3

Back in 2016, I reviewed LEGO Star Wars: The Force Awakens and was struck by how strong the Force remained with the formula. At this year's E3, LEGO and Lucasfilm have announced LEGO Star Wars: The Skywalker Saga.

"LEGO Star Wars: The Skywalker Saga marks our return to the franchise that kicked off the LEGO video game series. The game will give fans an all-new LEGO Star Wars experience with complete freedom to explore the LEGO Star Wars galaxy. It was an absolute pleasure to be part of the launch of the original LEGO Star Wars game and it’s equally exciting to now move the series forward and help create a new era of LEGO Star Wars games."

LEGO Star Wars: The Skywalker Saga (affiliate link) will release on PS4, Nintendo Switch, PC and Xbox One in 2020.

Sunday, 9 June 2019

Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order gameplay demo at E3

Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order is a highly-anticipated video game from Respawn Entertainment. During this weekend's EA Play at E3, a gameplay demo in partnership with Xbox was released. The upcoming title deftly mashes Star Wars tropes with Tomb Raider and Uncharted.

Game director Stig Asmussen is famous for God of War 3. Set between Revenge of the Sith and A New Hope, Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order is a character-driven story with an unbalanced protagonist, Cal Kestis (Cameron Monaghan), who veers between Jedi and Sith in a fashion worthy of Anakin Skywalker. During the 14-minute demo, it's revealed Forest Whitaker is reprising the role of Saw Gerrera from Rogue One: A Star Wars Story and Star Wars Rebels.

Kestis' companion is the cutest droid since BB-8 rolled across the sand dunes of Jakku in The Force Awakens. BD-1 will aid you in your quest to unlock blast doors and much more. Kasumi Shishido worked with Lucasfilm's Doug Chiang, drawing inspiration from Pixar's Luxo Jr. and existing Star Wars staples. BD-1 looks far better than that hairdryer thing from The Rise of Skywalker. Where's my BD-1 desktop buddy, Disney?

Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order (affiliate link) looks like a welcome antidote to Star Wars Battlefront II and should satiate fans on Xbox One and PS4 this November. This'll keep me occupied on Xbox One X before Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker.

Friday, 7 June 2019

Google announces Stadia pre-orders ahead of E3

E3, the electronic entertainment expo, officially begins this weekend. However, companies are increasingly making major announcements ahead of the annual event and this year is no exception.

In a week where Apple announced official support for Xbox and PlayStation controllers, on compatible devices from the fall, during the Cupertino-based company's World Wide Developer Conference (WWDC). Google has released new details for Stadia, the Alphabet subsidiary's streaming gaming service, and begun taking pre-orders for a November launch in the US, Canada, Europe and the UK.

Early adopters have an opportunity to own a Stadia Founder's Edition Bundle in time for the all-important holiday season. The relatively low entry price of £119.00GBP includes a controller, a Chromecast Ultra, three months of Stadia Pro (plus a buddy pass) and Destiny 2. My pre-order is in. Thus, adding a fifth gaming platform once Apple Arcade launches. Thankfully, with far less clutter than in the seventies, eighties, nineties and noughties. A free subscription tier, Stadia Base, will be available in 2020.

To use Stadia, you'll need at least a 10Mbps internet connection, which will let you play games at 720p with stereo sound. To play games at 4K HDR 60fps with 5.1 surround sound, a 35Mbps internet connection will be required. This has caused controversy for folks with data caps. It's worth noting this isn't Netflix for games (like PS Now or Xbox Game Pass) and you can't download for local play.

Stadia is not the first cloud-based video game streaming service. OnLive launched in 2010 to much fanfare and closed in 2015. Google's platform has support from third-party developers such as EA, Ubisoft and Sega but there's no news (yet) on exclusives from those publishers. Launch games include Doom Eternal, Wolfenstein: Youngblood, Assassin's Creed Odyssey and Baldur’s Gate 3.

Google is a disruptive force, with a history of shuttering services, and video game incumbents Microsoft and Sony are making pre-emptive moves to counter the threat to their duopoly. The competing companies have already announced a strategic partnership for xCloud services based on Microsoft Azure, greater third-party crossplay compatibility - good news for all gamers - Remote Play and a controller tie-in with Apple ahead of Apple Arcade. Who knows what Microsoft will announce during its E3 press briefing to counter Google this Sunday.

What a time to be a gamer, eh? Getting Google Stadia or couldn't care less? Let me know in the comments below.

Wednesday, 5 June 2019

Netflix teases Jurassic World: Camp Cretaceous

Netflix has released a teaser trailer for the upcoming Jurassic Park animated spin-off series Jurassic World: Camp Cretaceous. The latest collaboration with DreamWorks follows a group of six students in a new adventure camp and is set during Jurassic World.

Jurassic World: Camp Cretaceous, executive produced by Steven Spielberg (Jurassic Park) and Colin Trevorrow (Jurassic World), is coming to Netflix in 2020.

Looking forward to more monster mayhem on Isla Nublar? Let me know in the comments below.

Tuesday, 4 June 2019

Russo brothers bring Magic: The Gathering to Netflix

Fresh from Avengers: Endgame, the Russo brothers are bringing Magic: The Gathering to Netflix with Wizards of the Coast and Allspark Animation owned by Hasbro.

“We have been huge fans and players of Magic: The Gathering for as long as it has been around, so being able to help bring these stories to life through animation is a true passion project for us,” the Russos said.

Netflix has built a reputation for high quality animated series, including Trollhunters and She-Ra and the Princesses of Power, that have captured the imaginations of generations.

“Magic is a beloved global franchise with a massively engaged fan base that has only continued to grow over the last 25 years,” said John Derderian, head of anime programming for Netflix. “There’s no one better suited to bring this story to audiences around the world than Joe and Anthony Russo, whose talent for genre storytelling is unmatched, as is demonstrated by their central role in creating some of the biggest box office hits of all time.”

Saturday, 1 June 2019

Phantom Pains: Star Wars Episode I Remembered

Twenty years ago Britney Spears dominated pop culture with her hit single "...Baby One More Time" and a beloved space saga took fans back to a time before Luke Skywalker, Princess Leia and Han Solo challenged a tyrannical Empire.

Guest post by Nick Smith

In 1992 I watched Star Wars Episodes 4 through 6 and then I cried! I loved the movies, the characters and the warm fuzzy feelings they gave me. I cried because I knew there would never be another Star Wars movie.

It sounds silly now in a widely-branded galaxy of sequels, TV shows and video games but back then George Lucas had made it clear that he would not make his long-promised new chapters of the saga. Marvel had long since dropped its comic book run and the sci-fi bubble had burst at the box office. I had to settle for drying my tear-stained face with my copy of Heir to the Empire – an original novel so successful (reaching number one on the New York Times bestseller list) and passionately written that I get the feeling it nudged a little announcement in 1993, although author Timothy Zahn would be far too modest to admit it.

That proclamation had fans frothing with excitement: Lucas was planning a new Star Wars movie. This started a locomotive of speculation, special editions, video games and new toys. Six long years of build-up and light speed hype led to a new hope of a movie that took our minds off fears of Y2K and middle east conflict. This was also the first Star Wars segment to premiere since the advent of the internet – no wonder conjecture was rife.

We knew Anthony Daniels (C-3PO), John Williams, Frank Oz (Yoda) and many other old hands were returning to the series as if it had never been away. More importantly for a filmmaker like myself, Lucas was shooting some of Episode I on high definition digital video tape – a step away from exclusive celluloid and legitimization for folks like me who made their features with a video camera. The future was as bright and optimistic as a farm boy dreaming of the stars.

Lucas knew how to tease. The teasiest tease of all was a poster of a small boy casting a shadow on a stone wall. Look closely and you could see that the shadow belonged to Darth Vader. Gasp! We were going to meet Luke Skywalker’s father… before he broke bad. So far, so stoked. The only warning sign was the goofier elements that Lucas added to his Episode IV special edition – a Jawa swinging from his Ronto, for example. Surely the story of The Rise of Anakin couldn’t be that goofy?

The Phantom Menace premiered in Los Angeles on May 16th 1999. I got to see it soon after with my partner Ros. 16 years after Return of the Jedi I was finally getting a fix of this filmic space drug and I. Was. Excited. There was plenty to be thrilled about as I watched the movie on the big screen with my parents and my practical Scottish partner, Ros. There was Darth Maul (Ray Park), the Gungan land battle, the duel of the fates and the mighty Liam Neeson (Qui-Gon Jinn) adding Alec Guinness-level gravitas to the proceedings. Ewan McGregor (Obi-Wan Kenobi), fresh from Trainspotting, was a cool Hollywood hero.

Although some of the CGI was… jar-jarring, most of it was jaw-dropping in its scope and seamlessness. I was transported back to a time when Lucas’ ambitious cinema could bring a tear to my eye. "Och," said Ros, Scottishly, "that wasn’t so good." I was crushed.

A lot of people agreed with Ros, though. For every positive comment about Ray Park or the podrace, there was a negative one about Ahmed Best’s (Jar Jar) misguided performance, Jake Lloyd’s (Anakin Skywalker) pip-squeakiness or the exciting plot about the Trade Federation and taxes. Lucas had had so many years to make a great prequel; he had decided to focus on filmmaking technology rather than the old-fashioned storytelling that had made the original trilogy so popular.

Now there are fan-edited “better” versions of Episode I and the movie seems worlds apart from Disney’s slicker sequels. Yet something special has happened to Anakin’s early adventures. A new generation of fans has grown up on Lucas’ experimental epic. "Anakin, drop!" is a catchphrase in our house and my 19-year-old son Sam communicates with me mostly with prequel memes. With fan-fueled theories such as Dark Jar Jar plotting the downfall of the Senate and more official tales of Darth Maul running around on robotic spider legs, the internet that was so new in 1999 has helped to give Phantom a life that its creator couldn’t have imagined.

No one cries for The Phantom Menace. But its conclusion, so full of peace and hope, brings back those warm fuzzies I longed for back in the dark days… before the Clone Wars.

What are your memories of The Phantom Menace? Let me know in the comments below.

Friday, 31 May 2019

George Lucas attends Star Wars: Galaxy's Edge opening

Star Wars creator George Lucas joined Disney CEO Bob Iger and original trilogy cast members Mark Hamill (Luke Skywalker), Harrison Ford (Han Solo) and Billy Dee Williams (Lando Calrissian) for the grand opening of Star Wars: Galaxy's Edge.

“Isn’t this fantastic?” Iger said, emerging from a full-scale replica of the Millennium Falcon, Deadline reported. “I have been in this job for 14 years. There are some good days, but this is right up there with the best of them.”

Commenting on the new Star Wars attraction, Lucas said, “Now the technology is here, this thing is amazing. It’s something you couldn’t even dream about 20 years ago. It was a great experience. for me, and it will change your life.”

Hamill added, “Look at where we are today. We get our own land! You know, Star Wars to me has always been the gift that keeps on giving, and that reason is you. Parents tell you not to speak to strangers, but people treat me like family, tell me personal stories.”

Ford started up the Millennium Falcon and poignantly dedicated the moment to Peter Mayhew (Chewbacca) who passed away earlier this month, "Peter, this one's for you."

With the loss of Carrie Fisher (General Leia) and Peter Mayhem, it was a misty-eyed moment to celebrate the positive impact Star Wars has had on generations of fans.

Star Wars: Galaxy's Edge opens to the public at Disneyland in Anaheim, California, today.

Thursday, 30 May 2019

Darkness rises in The Dark Crystal: Age of Resistance

Netflix has released a teaser trailer for upcoming prequel series The Dark Crystal: Age of Resistance. The Dark Crystal, Jim Henson's classic fable, remains a touchstone from my childhood and Trevor Jones' superlative soundtrack underscored countless Star Wars action figure adventures.

"In this prequel to the fantasy classic, three young Gelfling inspire a rebellion against the cruel Emperor when they discover a horrifying secret."

The lavish 10-part live-action prequel series has been in development for several years but looks like it'll retain the mythical power of the original movie with a stellar cast from Game of Thrones to Star Wars.

The Dark Crystal: Age of Resistance streams exclusively on Netflix from 30th August.

Wednesday, 29 May 2019

Star Wars: Galaxy's Edge opens Friday at Disneyland

Star Wars: Galaxy's Edge, at the cost of $1 billion dollars, opens at Disneyland in Anaheim, California, this Friday.

Josh D'Amaro, the president of Disneyland Resort, posted the above photo on Instagram with the caption: "So proud to introduce you to the inhabitants of Batuu! I want to thank this amazing team for their incredible dedication and passion. Yesterday's Star Wars: Galaxy's Edge cast rally was unforgettable. This photo is one for the ages!"

Coca-Cola is the official beverage partner at the new 14-acre attraction. Fans will be able to purchase exclusive Star Wars merchandise including droids and lightsabers for budding young Jedi Knights and Sith. I choked up watching fellow fans react to seeing the Millennium Falcon for the first time.

Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance will not be open in time for the first day whilst the attraction undergoes further tweaks.

A second Star Wars: Galaxy's Edge theme park opens at Walt Disney World in the fall. Are you planning on attending? Let me know in the comments below.

Monday, 27 May 2019

Harrison Ford remembers his friend Peter Mayhew

Harrison Ford recently appeared on The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon and discussed the 35th anniversary of Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom, Mark Hamill's impression of him on the set of Star Wars and, most poignantly, the passing of his friend Peter Mayhew.

Ford and Mayhew played best friends and Millennium Falcon co-pilots, Han Solo and Chewbacca, in the original Star Wars trilogy and The Force Awakens.

Saturday, 25 May 2019

Look who's back in Terminator: Dark Fate

Arnold Schwarzenegger is back and he's brought an old friend. As someone who's been a fan of Terminator since the mid-eighties, I wasn't sure about another sequel after Genisys failed to ignite the box office and reboot the ailing franchise. However, the trailer for Terminator: Dark Fate has my attention.

With Tim Miller (Deadpool) at the helm, James Cameron (Avatar) as producer and Linda Hamilton reprising the role of Sarah Connor for the first time since Terminator 2: Judgment Day, the franchise may have a resurgence not seen since Star Wars: The Force Awakens.

Terminator: Dark Fate is in cinemas this October.

Friday, 24 May 2019

Patrick Stewart in Star Trek: Picard teaser trailer

In a week of farewells to Game of Thrones and The Big Bang Theory, CBS All Access has released a foreboding teaser trailer for upcoming spin-off Star Trek: Picard starring Sir Patrick Stewart in the titular role.

“15 years ago today, you led us out of the darkness,” the voice says. “You commanded the greatest rescue armada in history. Then... the unimaginable. What did that cost you? Your faith? Your faith in us? Your faith in yourself? Tell us, why did you leave Starfleet, Admiral?”

Stewart is reprising his iconic role from Star Trek: The Next Generation for the first time in 17 years. The new series is set 18 years after Star Trek: Nemesis and explores the reasons Jean-Luc Picard left Starfleet. Evidently, this appears to be a more intimate, character-driven, series to counterpoint stablemate Discovery.

Star Trek: Picard will stream exclusively on Amazon Prime outside the US.

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...