Thursday 28 February 2019

Star Trek: Discovery renewed for a third season

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

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

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

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

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

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

Friday 22 February 2019

Star Wars Resistance is nostalgic galactic bubblegum

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

Guest post by Nick Smith

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thursday 21 February 2019

Star Wars: Episode IX wraps filming

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

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

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

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

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

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

Saturday 9 February 2019

The Mandalorian keeps original Star Wars trilogy tone

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Mandalorian is exclusive to Disney+ later this year.

Friday 8 February 2019

Avengers: Endgame could be 3 hours with intermission

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Wednesday 6 February 2019

Captain Marvel skips Netflix for Disney+

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

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

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

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

Disney+ will not affect theatrical distribution for now.

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

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

Tuesday 5 February 2019

Marvel fan film: Moon Knight

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

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

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

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

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

Monday 4 February 2019

Captain Marvel Super Bowl TV Spot

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

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

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

Friday 1 February 2019

Aquaman beats Batman and The CW renews DCTV

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

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

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

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