Thursday 31 January 2019

Anthony Daniels finishes filming on Star Wars

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

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

The actor followed up with this tweet.

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

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

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

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

Tuesday 29 January 2019

Dua Lipa's Swan Song from Alita: Battle Angel

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

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

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

Saturday 26 January 2019

Richard E. Grant teases his role in Star Wars

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tuesday 22 January 2019

Marvel announces Star Wars: Galaxy's Edge comic

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

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

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

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

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

Monday 21 January 2019

Star Trek: Discovery engages warp factor fun

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

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

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

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

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

Thursday 17 January 2019

Alita: Battle Angel featurette with visionary directors

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

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

Alita: Battle Angel is in cinemas 6th February.

Wednesday 16 January 2019

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

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

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

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

Tuesday 15 January 2019

Star Trek: Discovery spin-off starring Michelle Yeoh

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

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

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

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

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

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

Monday 14 January 2019

Game of Thrones' final season premieres April 14th

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

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

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

Saturday 12 January 2019

Iron Man writers to reboot Masters of the Universe

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

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

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

Friday 11 January 2019

Save Earth or leave it in Netflix's IO

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

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

IO will start streaming on Netflix from 18th January.

Thursday 10 January 2019

Star Wars Resistance renewed on Disney Channel

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

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

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

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

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

Wednesday 9 January 2019

Special look at Captain Marvel

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

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

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

Captain Marvel will be in cinemas 8th March.

Tuesday 8 January 2019

Star Wars movies won't premiere on Disney+

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

Disney CEO Bob Iger explained to Barron's.

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

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

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

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

Monday 7 January 2019

Apple to announce Smart TV partnerships at CES

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

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

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

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

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

Friday 4 January 2019

Batwoman pilot gets Game of Thrones director

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

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

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

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

Wednesday 2 January 2019

Behind the visual effects magic of Ready Player One

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

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

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

Tuesday 1 January 2019

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

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

Vader Episode 1: Shards of the Past.

"Anakin Skywalker is DEAD.

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

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