Wednesday 31 March 2021

Doctor Who talks in The Suicide Squad

Director James Gunn (Guardians of the Galaxy) has released new TV Spots for his upcoming take on DC Comics' The Suicide Squad. Peter Capaldi, best known to Whovians (myself included) as the Twelfth Doctor, talks as The Thinker!

Here’s the synopsis for The Suicide Squad:

"Welcome to hell—a.k.a. Belle Reve, the prison with the highest mortality rate in the US of A. Where the worst Super-Villains are kept and where they will do anything to get out—even join the super-secret, super-shady Task Force X. Today’s do-or-die assignment? Assemble a collection of cons, including Bloodsport, Peacemaker, Captain Boomerang, Ratcatcher 2, Savant, King Shark, Blackguard, Javelin and everyone’s favorite psycho, Harley Quinn. Then arm them heavily and drop them (literally) on the remote, enemy-infused island of Corto Maltese. Trekking through a jungle teeming with militant adversaries and guerrilla forces at every turn, the Squad is on a search-and-destroy mission with only Colonel Rick Flag on the ground to make them behave… and Amanda Waller’s government techies in their ears, tracking their every movement. And as always, one wrong move and they’re dead (whether at the hands of their opponents, a teammate, or Waller herself). If anyone’s laying down bets, the smart money is against them—all of them."

The Suicide Squad is in cinemas and on HBO Max on 6th August.

Are you looking forward to The Suicide Squad? Let me know in the comments below.

Tuesday 30 March 2021

The Bad Batch strike back Star Wars Day

Clone Force 99, AKA The Bad Batch, are back in action following their explosive debut in the final season of Star Wars: The Clone Wars on Disney+.

Today, Lucasfilm dropped a trailer for Star Wars: The Bad Batch that sees the band of misfits on the run from Grand Moff Tarkin in the wake of The Clone Wars.

Here's the official synopsis:

""Star Wars: The Bad Batch" follows the elite and experimental clones of the Bad Batch (first introduced in “The Clone Wars”) as they find their way in a rapidly changing galaxy in the immediate aftermath of the Clone War. Members of Bad Batch—a unique squad of clones who vary genetically from their brothers in the Clone Army—each possess a singular exceptional skill that makes them extraordinarily effective soldiers and a formidable crew."

Star Wars: The Bad Batch is executive produced by Dave Filoni (The Mandalorian, Star Wars: The Clone Wars), Athena Portillo (Star Wars: The Clone Wars, Star Wars Rebels), Brad Rau (Star Wars Rebels, Star Wars Resistance) and Jennifer Corbett (Star Wars Resistance, NCIS) with Carrie Beck (The Mandalorian, Star Wars Rebels) as co-executive producer and Josh Rimes as producer (Star Wars Resistance). Rau is also serving as supervising director with Corbett as head writer.

The Star Wars spin-off begins May Fourth AKA Star Wars Day with a 70-minute special. New episodes drop weekly exclusively on Disney+ from Friday 7th May.

Are you looking forward to Star Wars: The Bad Batch? Let me know in the comments below.

Monday 29 March 2021

Obi-Wan Kenobi series begins filming April

The main cast for the latest Disney+ live-action Star Wars spin-off is announced as production ramps up in Los Angeles with director Deborah Chow (The Mandalorian) at the helm.

Obi-Wan Kenobi sees Ewan McGregor (Obi-Wan Kenobi) and Hayden Christensen (Darth Vader) reprise their roles from George Lucas' prequel trilogy and utilises the Volume, an LED-based virtual set technology developed (by former Lucasfilm staffers) for The Mandalorian.

The official synopsis for the special event series:

“The story begins 10 years after the dramatic events of Star Wars: Revenge of the Sith where Kenobi faced his greatest defeat, the downfall and corruption of his best friend and Jedi apprentice, Anakin Skywalker turned evil Sith Lord Darth Vader.”

Joining the cast are Moses Ingram, Joel Edgerton, Bonnie Piesse, Kumail Nanjiani, Indira Varma, Rupert Friend, O’Shea Jackson Jr., Sung Kang, Simone Kessell and Benny Safdie.

Edgerton and Piesse played the ill-fated Uncle Owen and Aunt Beru respectively in Star Wars: Revenge of the Sith. So, we may see Kenobi keeping a watchful eye over a young Luke Skywalker on Tatooine before facing Darth Vader, again, in the hopes of turning his friend and former apprentice back to the light side of the Force.

Obi-Wan Kenobi begins filming in April and is expected to stream exclusively on Disney+ sometime in 2022 along with the third season of The Mandalorian. The Book of Boba Fett debuts this December on Disney+.

Are you looking forward to the new live-action Star Wars spin-off series? Let me know in the comments below.

Sunday 28 March 2021

Writer compares Dungeons & Dragons to Star Wars

Dungeons & Dragons (D&D) has become a gateway into role-playing games (RPG) for generations of fantasy fans (myself included)!

The first I became aware of TSR's tabletop franchise (not namechecked) was in Steven Spielberg's E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial. Subsequently, Marvel Comics' animated series became an afterschool staple and my parents bought me licensed LJN action figures, which were soon integrated into Masters of the Universe and Star Wars toy stories.

The Fighting Fantasy books, Krull, Jim Henson's Labyrinth and ITV's live-action children's series Knightmare (streaming exclusively on BritBox), along with Citadel Miniatures and video games, further expanded the fantasy lore in popular culture.

Netflix's Stranger Things introduced a new generation to D&D, and Hasbro's Entertainment One (eOne) is producing an official film and television franchise to capitalise on this renewed interest and the success of Game of Thrones.

Screenwriter Derek Kolstad (The Falcon and the Winter Soldier) recently spoke to Collider about his approach to the upcoming television spin-off series:

"In the first Star Wars, you heard about Jabba the Hutt and you don't see him until the third one because you earn at that point, and whatever the budget was for the third one compared to the first one, who cares, right? And I think in Dungeons and Dragons, who has this massive, dedicated community of acolytes, I don't want to suddenly throw everything on screen and say, 'Here's the buffet.' You'd much rather keep the story intimate," Kolstad told Collider. "When you think of our favorite movies, I'd rather do the First Blood version. It's a guy in the woods being hunted. And it's very small, but you allude to the other things through conversation. You have your USS Indianapolis [in Jaws], you see something in the background. You hear a name that 3% of the audience is like, 'Ho ho, I think we're going to see him soon.' I think the thing is just to take a deep breath, to go into it slowly, and to just respect the world, and as you adapt, certain things need to change. But you better not touch the heart and soul of why people love this thing."

Are you excited about Kolstad's take on Dungeons and Dragons? Let me know in the comments below.

Friday 26 March 2021

Galactic Snackin’ Grogu from Hasbro

Hasbro has announced an all-new animatronic Star Wars Galactic Snackin’ Grogu, inspired by the little critter's insatiable appetite (infamously including Frog Lady's endangered eggs), for this holiday season. A follow-up to last year’s award-winning The Child animatronic edition.

“We saw Grogu eating his way through the galaxy in season two of The Mandalorian on Disney+ and we couldn’t resist the opportunity to bring those memorable moments to life,” Hasbro senior design director Vickie Stratford told “We looked at a lot of different ways to interact with the character and the concept of snacking opened up many fun ideas for our design and development team to create an all-new interactive experience.”

GROGU (THE CHILD), affectionately referred to by fans as “BABY YODA,” is hungry for Force snackin’ fun! With a galaxy of features, including adorable sounds, fun animated motions, and interactive accessories, this STAR WARS GALACTIC SNACKIN’ GROGU animatronic toy is ready for action and adventure! Place any of the included entertainment-inspired accessories in his hand and he’ll react! Put an accessory in his mouth, and he’ll make eating sounds that let you know if he thinks it’s yummy or yucky! When GROGU (THE CHILD) wants to be picked up and held, he’ll reach up with both arms. And with Force activation, GALACTIC SNACKIN’ GROGU will perform a 2-handed Force move, inspired by scenes from season 2 of the live-action series THE MANDALORIAN on Disney+! Additional features include series-inspired sound effects, a premium soft goods robe, moving head, ears, arms, and blinking eyes! Includes figure, 4 interactive accessories, and instructions. Requires 4 1.5V AA batteries, not included.

Pre-order Galactic Snackin' Grogu (affiliate link).

Thursday 25 March 2021

The Last Starfighters sizzle reel from Star Wars scribe

“Greetings, Starfighter! You have been recruited by the Star League to defend the frontier against Xur and the Ko-Dan armada.” For a generation of video gamers (myself included), those words heralded the promise of adventures like Luke Skywalker in a galaxy far, far away...

Somehow, I missed The Last Starfighter in the cinema and didn't see the pioneering sci-fi adventure until a school friend hired the movie on rental video in the mid-eighties. It became a regular weekend treat as we played video games on Atari VCS, Sinclair ZX Spectrum and Commodore 64.

Back in 2018, Gary Whitta, Rogue One: A Star Wars Story screenwriter, teased a reboot of The Last Starfighter on Twitter. Today, he shared a sizzle reel for The Last Starfighters (working title) and with it all the feels.

"We are, I believe, very very close--closer than anyone has ever been to making a new Last Starfighter fighter movie, like right on the one yard line," Whitta said. "After pushing the boulder uphill for years we are very, very, very close. I can't really say anything more. Other than that, you know because it's there's all stuff happening behind the scenes now, like there's things I can't tell you but we are very, very close, I believe it will happen."

Whitta's working with the original movie's scribe, Jonathan Betuel.

"We weren't interested in re-inventing or rebooting or remaking the movie," Whitta continues. "We wanted to do a sequel that kept the original in canon; which kept the original storyline and honored the original. The idea was to pass the torch to a new generation of heroes in the same way that The Force Awakens does. You wanted to see Han Solo and Princess Leia, but at the same time, we all knew that they weren't gonna be the heroes of the movie going forward. It was a new, young [cast]: Rey, Finn, Poe. That movie was about passing the torch and we wanted to do a movie that [does the same]. We called it a 'requel.' It's a sequel, but it also kind of reboots and brings the franchise back."

Are you excited for The Last Starfighters? Let me know in the comments below.

Wednesday 24 March 2021

Black Widow in cinemas and on Disney+

Phase 4 of the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) would have begun last May with Black Widow, which was delayed multiple times over the past year due to the global pandemic.

So, WandaVision began Phase 4, followed by The Falcon and the Winter Soldier and Loki on Disney+.

Disney couldn't delay the Marvel Studios' movie indefinitely due to the interconnected storylines and merchandise in stores.

Many fans (myself included) argued Black Widow could be simultaneously released in cinemas (when it's safe to reopen) and on Disney+ with Premier Access. This was successfully trialled with the live-action adaptation of Mulan last September.

Following the recent release of Raya and the Last Dragon, The Walt Disney Company has confirmed Black Widow, starring Scarlett Johansson as the titular character, will premiere day and date in cinemas and on Disney+ with Premier Access.

“By leveraging a flexible distribution strategy in a dynamic marketplace that is beginning to recover from the global pandemic, we will continue to employ the best options to deliver The Walt Disney Company’s unparalleled storytelling to fans and families around the world,” said Kareem Daniel, the chairman of Disney Media and Entertainment distribution.

In related news. Today is the first anniversary of Disney+ launching in the UK. I've renewed an annual subscription for another year.

Black Widow will be in cinemas and available exclusively on Disney+ with Premier Access on 9th July.

Are you looking forward to Black Widow? Let me know in the comments below.

Tuesday 23 March 2021

Star Trek: Strange New Worlds begins production

Although I stopped watching Star Trek: Discovery midway through season three and Star Trek: Picard started promisingly before stumbling, Star Trek: Strange New Worlds remains my only hope for the future of the franchise on Paramount+ (formerly CBS All Access).

Star Trek: Strange New Worlds reunites Discovery season two fan-favourites, Anson Mount as Captain Christopher Pike, Rebecca Romijn as Number One and Ethan Peck as Science Officer Spock. The trifecta will be joined aboard the USS Enterprise by new series regulars Babs Olusanmokun, Christina Chong, Celia Rose Gooding, Jess Bush and Melissa Navia.

Set before events in the original series, Strange New Worlds harkens back to franchise creator Gene Roddenberry's original vision - exploration, hope and unity. The spin-off series has begun principal photography in Ontario, Canada.

“In a career, there is never enough work that is pure joy,” Akiva Goldsman said. “I feel that my friend Alex Kurtzman along with David Stapf at CBS Studios and Julie McNamara at Paramount+ have given me just that by letting me haunt the stock rooms of my favorite candy store and I am grateful. With a hell of a cast and undying love for the original series, we boldly go.”

Paramount+ is ramping up Star Trek spin-offs to compete with Star Wars on Disney+.

“I’m incredibly grateful to be working alongside Akiva and our brilliant, multi-faceted cast to help bring the adventures of the Starship Enterprise to new life,” said executive producer Alonso Myers. “For someone who’s been dreaming of spaceships and alien worlds since I was little, this show is a dream come true.”

As a lifelong fan of both Star Wars and Star Trek, it's an exciting time in the geek galaxy.

Are you looking forward to Star Trek: Strange New Worlds? Let me know in the comments below. Hit it.

Monday 22 March 2021

Zack Snyder's Justice League: Justice is Gray

Zack Snyder's Justice League is a hit with fans and critics on HBO Max and Sky Cinema. The director took to Twitter to announce an upcoming black and white version titled Zack Snyder's Justice League: Justice is Gray.

A black and white IMAX 4:3 aspect ratio version is definitive. “That, to me, is the most fan-centric, most pure, most Justice League experience,” the Justice League director continued. “Because that’s how I lived with the movie for two years, in black and white…when I do the live-stream of the trailer, Steph and I colored a black and white version of the trailer. So the first version that I’m going to put out, and probably what I’m going to talk about on Tuesday, will be the black and white version of the trailer.”

Zack Snyder's Justice League: Justice is Gray will include exclusive extra footage of Jared Leto's Joker.

Pre-order Zack Snyder's Justice League on Blu-ray (affiliate link).

Will you be rewatching the 4-hour movie in black and white? Let me know in the comments below.

Saturday 20 March 2021

The Fellowship of the Justice League

The fabled #ReleaseTheSnyderCut of Justice League arrived on HBO Max and Sky Cinema this week, bringing with it the hefty expectations of millions of DC Comics fans (myself included) in lockdown.

It’s a uniquely fan-driven pop culture event arriving amidst a global pandemic where the creative industry is under siege from socio-economic forces.

Over six chapters and an epilogue, director Zack Snyder (Man of Steel) serves up an epic 4-hour IMAX comic book adventure with the scope of The Lord of the Rings, led by supervillain Steppenwolf (CiarĂ¡n Hinds) as he searches for the 3 Mother Boxes to appease Darkseid (Ray Porter).

Meanwhile, Batman (Ben Affleck) is assembling a superhero team to thwart the threat of alien invasion in the aftermath of Superman’s (Henry Cavill) death in Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice.

This parallels Marvel Studios’ decade-spanning The Infinity Saga in a condensed format, which has always been DC Comics’ big screen Achilles heel as nothing feels earned. However, the 4-hour format works here in a way not possible in a multiplex environment.

I decided to consume chapters, over consecutive evenings, on Sky Cinema and became immersed in an episodic story that has time to breath replete with a compelling origin story for Cyborg (Ray Fisher) and a playful interplay between beloved superheroes. The Flash's (Ezra Miller) banter with his superhero teammates is a standout.

In many ways, Zack Snyder’s Justice League is best viewed as a standalone movie (forcibly as I’ve not religiously followed the so-called SnyderVerse's appetite for destruction) and is vested further poignancy in the wake of Snyder’s daughter’s suicide during the production of the original movie, which culminated in his departure.

Whilst it retains the exuberant self-styled motifs of the director's oeuvre, Justice League has evolved into the Snyders touching tribute to their late daughter as a sense of loss and grief permeates the fabric of this operatic film. Even Superman’s iconic black suit could be construed as emblematic of mourning.

His best movie since Watchmen. Zack Snyder’s Justice League is the superhero recut I didn’t know I needed. The original, a hot mess under the auspices of director Joss Whedon (Avengers: Assemble), is now reforged into something special. HBO Max could be the perfect playground to continue his planned trilogy. #RestoreTheSnyderVerse is trending.

Final thoughts coalesce around the affecting memory of a conversation with a school friend who suddenly passed away. We’d mused on what if... ? there was a Snyder cut, and here it is. Think they would have approved.

Pre-order Zack Snyder's Justice League on Blu-ray (affiliate link).

Have you seen Zack Snyder’s Justice League? Let me know in the comments below.

Friday 19 March 2021

Start your countdown to Loki

Marvel Studios' WandaVision may have concluded, and The Falcon and the Winter Soldier just begun on Disney+. However, key art for the next spin-off series, Loki, has been released.

Golden Globe winner Tom Hiddleston returns as the fan-favourite titular God of Mischief, picking up where Avengers: Endgame left off as Loki successfully steals the Tesseract during a time heist. Previously, Loki was killed by Thanos in Avengers: Infinity War. So, who knows what mayhem will follow.

The six-part spin-off series begins June 11th exclusively on Disney+.

Are you looking forward to Loki? Let me know in the comments below.

Thursday 18 March 2021

The Falcon and the Winter Soldier begins Friday

Marvel Studios' The Falcon and the Winter Soldier premieres this Friday on Disney+. The House of Mouse has released a new trailer to celebrate.

The official synopsis for The Falcon and the Winter Soldier:

"After being handed the mantle of Captain America at the end of Avengers: Endgame, Sam Wilson teams up with Bucky Barnes in a worldwide adventure that puts their abilities to the test as they fight the anarchist group the Flag-Smashers."

“I was really surprised and affected by the idea of possibly getting the shield and becoming Captain America," Anthony Mackie (Sam Wilson) told Variety in a recent interview. "I’ve been in this business a long time, and I did it the way they said you’re supposed to do it," he says of his own career path. "I didn’t go to L.A. and say, ‘Make me famous.’ I went to theater school, did Off Broadway, did indie movies and worked my way through the ranks. It took a long time for this shit to manifest itself the way it has, and I’m extremely happy about that."

The action-packed six-part spin-off series should assuage WandaVision withdrawals until Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness or at least until my Marvel Legends WandaVision Scarlet Witch and White Vision action figures arrive from Hasbro Pulse.

Are you looking forward to The Falcon and the Winter Soldier on Friday? Let me know in the comments below.

Wednesday 17 March 2021

Boba Fett, Ewoks and Clone Wars on Disney+

With over 100 million subscribers, Disney+ is expected to overtake Netflix in the next few years and take its rightful place as the supreme power of the universe... OK! That's stretching things somewhat, but The Walt Disney Company's streaming service is benefitting from consumers staying at home during the global pandemic.

The addition of the Star brand, in non-US markets, has added a wealth of content from Twentieth Century Fox's film and television library. During a recent Zoom call, a friend and relative newcomer to streaming mentioned they hadn't realised how much there was and that they would continue to subscribe to Disney+ for the foreseeable future.

And now, with barely a whisper, mid-eighties Lucasfilm curios Caravan of Courage: An Ewok Adventure and Ewoks: The Battle for Endor, which I know will excite fans including our very own Andrew Lewin (this may not be the truth), are being added for your viewing pleasure. I'll never forget walking into a family friend's rental video store and discovering there were movies post-Star Wars: Return of the Jedi! You want more Ewoks? There's Star Wars: Ewoks, an animated series that ran for two seasons, set before Star Wars: Return of the Jedi.

Along with The Story of the Faithful Wookiee, the famed animated sequence from the Star Wars Holiday Special introducing Boba Fett before Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back, and Genndy Tartakovsky's Star Wars: Clone Wars.

The Star Wars: Clone Wars animated series, running from 2003 to 2005 on Cartoon Network, bridged events between Star Wars: Attack of the Clones and Star Wars: Revenge of the Sith. When Star Wars: The Clone Wars began in 2008, Tartakovsky didn't return.

Are you looking forward to more vintage Star Wars this April on Disney+? Let me know in the comments below.

Tuesday 16 March 2021

Holy viral fan film, Batman!

The Batman, directed by Matt Reeves, won't be in cinemas until 4th March 2022. So, here's an awesome Batman fan film that's gone viral.

Arriving days before Zack Snyder's Justice League. Batman: Dying is Easy.

The crowdfunded 25-minute fan film, directed by father and son duo Sean and Aaron Schoenke, stars Kevin Porter as Batman, Aaron Schoenke as Joker, Michael Madsen (Reservoir Dogs) as Bullock, Doug Jones as Riddler, Vera Bambi as Poison Ivy, Chris Daughtry as Hugo Strange, Amy Johnston as Harley Quinn and Casper Van Dien (Starship Troopers) as Commissioner Gordon.

"Batman and Joker have always had such an interested psychological relationship, it's those dark concepts that make the characters so interesting," the movie description reads.

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

Monday 15 March 2021

It's a wrap for The Batman

Director Matt Reeves announced on social media The Batman had finished filming following delays due to the pandemic.

Robert Pattinson (Tenet) plays the titular dark detective in the highly-anticipated DC Comics reboot.

"It's not an origin tale, and you're meeting him in the early days," Reeves explained during DC FanDome. "What's really important about this iteration is that you know a lot of the other stories are about how he had to master his fear and master himself in order to become Batman and that in that Batman state, he's sort of in his best self, and I think for me, what was exciting was not doing that, not doing the origin, not doing what we've seen done so beautifully in other movies, but instead to meet him in the middle of this criminological experiment to see him in the becoming of Batman and to see him make mistakes as Batman, see him grow and fail and be heroic do all of the things that we associate with Batman but in a way that felt very human and very flawed."

Batman fans (myself included) will have to wait until 4th March 2022. However, Zack Snyder's Justice League is available from Thursday exclusively on HBO Max and Sky Cinema.

Are you hyped for The Batman? Let me know in the comments below.

Saturday 13 March 2021

Hasbro Pulse launches in the UK

Hasbro Pulse, the Pawtucket-based company's direct-to-consumer platform, officially launched in the UK this week.

Toy collectors will be able to order exclusives from Ghostbusters, Marvel Legends, Power Rangers, Star Wars, Transformers and more beloved brands.

"We are proud to bring Hasbro Pulse to the engaged and vibrant UK audience," says Eric Nyman, Hasbro Chief Consumer Officer. "The passion for Hasbro's brands and immersive experiences spans the globe. We are thrilled to make our offerings accessible to our fans in the UK beginning today and are working to open up the Hasbro Pulse opportunity in other markets worldwide."

As an only child recovering from a life-changing head injury, necessitating years of outpatient rehabilitation, toys were an obsession.

During the pandemic, I've rekindled a childhood passion for toy photography and immediately signed-up for Hasbro Pulse Premium, which is currently half-price until the end of March.

Excited about getting exclusives direct from Hasbro Pulse? Let me know in the comments below.

Friday 12 March 2021

WandaVision Scarlet Witch from Hot Toys

Marvel Studios' WandaVision may have concluded on Disney+ but fans can own this amazing Scarlet Witch 1:6 scale figure from Hot Toys.

“This is Chaos Magic, Wanda. And that makes you the Scarlet Witch.” – Agatha Harkness

Trying to get to the bottom of Wanda Maximoff’s powers, Agatha takes Wanda off on a trip down memory lane reliving the past memories. Forced to go along with Agatha’s plan, Wanda unleashes her abilities to protect her loved ones, meanwhile gains a greater understanding of the full extent of her considerable powers.

Inspired by WandaVision, Marvel Studios’ original series, Sideshow and Hot Toys are excited to officially introduce a stunning sixth scale collectible figure of The Scarlet Witch and her brand-new costume with impressive details from the series finale.

Beautifully crafted based on the appearance of Elizabeth Olsen as Scarlet Witch in WandaVision, the figure features a newly developed head sculpt with specially applied luminous reflective effect on eyes to emulate Scarlet Witch using her abilities, long curly sculpted hair and her signature headdress, a newly designed body equipped with LED light-up function on both sides of the forearms, detailed outfit including the hooded cape, specially created hands with red translucent fingertips, Darkhold book, power-using effect accessories, and a dynamic figure base for display.

Reserve space for The Scarlet Witch Sixth Scale Collectible Figure from WandaVision collection!

Will you be adding Scarlet Witch (affiliate link) to your Hot Toys collection? Let me know in the comments below.

Thursday 11 March 2021

Zack Snyder's Justice League on Sky Cinema

Zack Snyder's Justice League will premiere exclusively on Sky Cinema and NOW TV in the UK, day and date with HBO Max.

The much-maligned Justice League (2017) has received a $70 million do-over for HBO Max by director Zack Snyder (Man of Steel), who had to bow out of the production due to his daughter’s suicide. However, sources have subsequently suggested that there were studio concerns over the movie’s overly dark direction before Snyder’s familial tragedy.

Joss Whedon (Avengers) was parachuted in to finish Justice League but failed to replicate the critical and commercial success of Marvel Studios’ Avengers (2012).

Here's the official synopsis:

"In Zack Snyder's Justice League, determined to ensure Superman’s (Henry Cavill) ultimate sacrifice was not in vain, Bruce Wayne (Ben Affleck) aligns forces with Diana Prince (Gal Gadot) with plans to recruit a team of metahumans to protect the world from an approaching threat of catastrophic proportions. The task proves more difficult than Bruce imagined, as each of the recruits must face the demons of their own pasts to transcend that which has held them back, allowing them to come together, finally forming an unprecedented league of heroes. Now united, Batman (Affleck), Wonder Woman (Gadot), Aquaman (Jason Momoa), Cyborg (Ray Fisher) and The Flash (Ezra Miller) may be too late to save the planet from Steppenwolf, DeSaad and Darkseid and their dreadful intentions."

Now running at 4-hours, and rated R, the new recut of Justice League will be presented in six individual chapters and a 20-minute epilogue.

The chapters are titled:

“Don’t Count On It, Batman”

“The Age Of Heroes”

“Beloved Mother, Beloved Son”

“Change Machine”

“All The King’s Horses”

“Something Darker”

Epilogue: "A Father Twice Over"

Zack Snyder's Justice League premieres on HBO Max and Sky Cinema on 18th March. I'll be reviewing it soon.

Are you looking forward to Zack Snyder's Justice League? Let me know in the comments below.

Wednesday 10 March 2021

Star Wars: Squadrons on Xbox Game Pass

This Star Wars fan needs to urgently charge his Xbox wireless controller Shock Blue and update Xbox One X!

Since purchasing a PlayStation 5 (PS5) on launch day last November, I haven't played anything on Xbox Game Pass Ultimate during the current lockdown! However, this will change with the exciting news Star Wars: Squadrons is coming to EA Play (bundled with Game Pass Ultimate) on 18th March.

Will you be playing Star Wars: Squadrons on EA Play? Let me know in the comments below.

Monday 8 March 2021

Star Wars' Daisy Ridley on Celebrity Bake Off

Everyone will be touched by cancer, directly or indirectly, at some time in their life.

Personally, I've lost family and friends to the insidious disease and continue to support related charities.

So, I'd be remiss in not mentioning this year's Celebrity Bake Off is back for Stand Up To Cancer (SU2C) from Tuesday on Channel 4 with host Matt Lucas, best known to Doctor Who fans (myself included) as Nardole.

Star Wars actress Daisy Ridley is among the celebrity contestants and taught celebrity chef and presenter Paul Hollywood some lightsaber moves.

“The bonus for me is Daisy taught me how to use a lightsaber,” Hollywood says. “We used a rolling pin,” he admits, in place of the Jedi's iconic weapon.

The self-confessed Star Wars fan already has some experience of martial arts. “I used to work with a nunchaku, I trained with nunchuck. It’s a martial art weapon,” the 54-year-old says. “So, I was familiar with that movement, But I wanted to know how you do the spin. She showed me how it’s done. And it’s actually an optical illusion to make it look like it’s flipping around, but it was great. Everyone will see the truth!”

The Great Celebrity Bake Off for Stand Up To Cancer starts 9th March on Channel 4 and you can catch up on All 4.

Saturday 6 March 2021

Fears, tears and rebirth in WandaVision

Spoilers for the final episode of Marvel Studios' WandaVision streaming on Disney+. If you haven't caught up with, or started watching, WandaVision and don't want to find out what's going on, please look away from the screen now.

Here is a Marvel superhero story not afraid to explore the aftermath of losing a loved one and the suffocating grief therein. Would Wanda Maximoff (Elizabeth Olsen) choose the dark path, like Anakin Skywalker did in Star Wars, in her desire to save Vision (Paul Bettany) and their twins in an alternate Westview of her making?

The House of M meets The Wizard of Oz.

Fan theories were swept away as Wanda and Agatha Harkness (Kathryn Hahn) engaged in a bombastic battle of wits in crimson skies over Westview as Vision versed White Vision (assembled by S.W.O.R.D.), culminating in the birth of the Scarlet Witch. Agatha taking the high ground was a knowing nod to Anakin Skywalker and Obi-Wan Kenobi's fateful duel in Star Wars: Revenge of the Sith.

The virtual water-cooler conversations surrounding the multiverse theories detracted from the self-contained story being told. Don’t get me wrong, it was fun to speculate with fellow fans on social media (especially in lockdown) as Easter eggs were subtly dropped throughout the series.

However, it took away from focusing on Wanda and Vision - two characters I fell in love with during Avengers: Infinity War. Evan Peters cameo didn’t usher in the X-Men, and I’m fine with that as it’s on me for having that expectation. But the producers would have known his casting would generate buzz.

Wanda, reborn as Scarlet Witch, reversed the damage she had wrought upon the innocent townsfolk of Westview and banished Agatha, in plain sight, before leaving with the Darkhold in her quest to learn the darks arts and find the twins. Scarlet Witch's actions will have grave consequences for Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness and, seemingly, Spider-Man: No Way Home this holiday season.

For nine glorious episodes, WandaVision’s off-kilter sitcom mystery box opened up with chutzpah worthy of director JJ Abrams (Lost), went, somewhat predictably and messily, full-blown Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) before ending with a heartbreaking Spielbergian familial farewell in suburbia. All the while, Olsen and Bettany were its beating heart.

Underscored by composer Christophe Beck's (Frozen) lush orchestrations evoking his Emmy-winning soundtrack for Buffy the Vampire Slayer. WandaVision broke down the walls of a fairytale illusion, with inherent moral and ethical implications, and shook me to the emotional core by the series finale’s end.

14 years ago this June, mum died in the wake of an NHS never event. Time doesn’t dilute or heal such trauma and unquantifiable loss. When Monica Rambeau (Teyonah Parris) told Wanda she would have used her powers to bring her mum back... Well, that would have profoundly resonated for similarly affected fans.

It was overwhelmingly too close to home. And in a week a beloved member of my family passed away (not COVID-related) in lockdown, which, like others facing such a predicament, means I won't be able to attend their funeral.

Saying goodbye to the first Marvel Studios Disney+ spin-off is such sweet sorrow. Marvel Studios' Assembled: The Making of WandaVision, an original special streaming on 12th March, will fill the void before The Falcon and the Winter Solder begins the following Friday on Disney+.

What did you think of WandaVision's series finale? Let me know in the comments below.

Friday 5 March 2021

Honour in The Falcon and the Winter Soldier

Marvel Studios has released a new TV Spot for The Falcon and the Winter Soldier coming soon to Disney+.

The official synopsis for The Falcon and the Winter Soldier:

"After being handed the mantle of Captain America at the end of Avengers: Endgame, Sam Wilson teams up with Bucky Barnes in a worldwide adventure that puts their abilities to the test as they fight the anarchist group the Flag-Smashers."

The latest live-action spin-off series, starring Anthony Mackie and Sebastian Stan in the titular roles, was delayed due to the coronavirus pandemic and follows a fortnight after the conclusion of WandaVision today on Disney+.

“Anthony Mackie and Sebastien Stan are spectacular actors which we felt we had to explore their stories and their backstories, or personal stories, enough as Sam Wilson and Bucky Barnes,” said Marvel Studios president Kevin Feige. “So it was always the thought we’d like to learn more about both of them. In the little interactions they had with each other in Captain America: The Winter Soldier and Captain America: Civil War as friends of a mutual best friend in Captain America. We thought we’d have a fun dynamic, if we ever had that opportunity, we’d watch a whole show with the two of them and Disney+ gives us that opportunity.”

Are you looking forward to The Falcon and the Winter Soldier on 19th March? Let me know in the comments below.

Thursday 4 March 2021

Daisy Ridley reprises Rey on Comedy Central

Daisy Ridley reads fictional Star Wars quotes, as her character Rey, on Comedy Central whilst promoting the long-delayed Chaos Walking co-starring Tom Holland (Spider-Man: No Way Home).

Ridley's comedic timing is pitch-perfect, and she drops f-bombs with aplomb!

Wednesday 3 March 2021

"Agatha All Along" tops iTunes charts

Agatha All Along, the satirical theme song written by Kristin Anderson-Lopez and Robert Lopez (Frozen) from Marvel Studios' WandaVision, has topped the iTunes charts.

"I don't understand it. I know, it's amazing. It's so crazy. Seth, what's happening?" Kathryn Hahn (Agatha Harkness) speaking on the Late Show with Seth Meyers.

"I don't have social media, so the whole thing was like filtered down through all this," Hahn continued. "I was like, 'Are you kidding me?!' It's so funny. Meanwhile, I'm outside scooping dog crap, scooping cat crap. The whole thing is so bonkers right now."

"It's wonderful to see that it's inspired so much interest in the fans," WandaVision director Matt Shakman told Entertainment Weekly (EW). "We share the various memes and stuff on TikTok among the cast and crew and writers. It's so wonderful that we made this thing with so much love and passion, and it has been received with so much love and passion by the fans."

The WandaVision director teases how Wanda Maximoff's (Elizabeth Olsen) story will continue in Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness.

"We were trying to tell a complete story in terms of the narrative around Westview, N.J., and we hope that there's some resolution to that story, and that it is satisfying and also surprising for the fans," Shakman told TV Line. "But Wanda will continue into Doctor Strange [in the Multiverse of Madness], and there's a lot more to her story to be told, so this is only one part of a very complicated and very rich life."

WandaVision concludes this Friday on Disney+.

Tuesday 2 March 2021

Babylon 5 remastered on HBO Max

Following the cancellation of Doctor Who in 1989, there was an unfillable void vacated by my favourite time traveller until the BBC's beloved sci-fi series returned in 2005.

Star Trek: The Next Generation came to the fore with a Marvel UK tie-in and Playmates Toys' action figures and accessories as an early nineties sci-fi renaissance began, across the Atlantic, heralded by Steven Spielberg's SeaQuest DSV, Babylon 5 and The X-Files.

All of which became synonymous with undergraduate studies at Bournemouth University.

SeaQuest DSV and Babylon 5 both utilised Amiga Video Toasters and were the subject of lively debate in computer animation studies. George Lucas' Star Wars prequels were still a few years away, non-linear media production was still in its infancy and prohibitively expensive for the homebrew crowd (myself included) before Steve Jobs returned to Apple, democratising the industry with the iMac and iPhone.

"Sooner or later, everyone comes to Babylon 5." - Commander Jeffrey Sinclair

Babylon 5 was originally shown on Channel 4 in the UK running for 5 seasons between 1993 to 1997. J. Michael Straczynski's sci-fi opus, a galaxy-spanning retelling of The Lord of the Rings, quickly became a touchstone in the space opera firmament. There were countless carshare and water-cooler conversations with fellow fans when I was hired as an online journalist following graduation.

Babylon 5 embraced long-form storytelling and the late Mira Furlan, who played Minbari Ambassador Delenn, would go on to star in JJ Abrams' Lost (available on Disney+).

A passion for computer-generated imagery (CGI) was rekindled when I bought an iMac DV SE in the summer of 1999 and subsequently published in 3D World magazine in the early noughties.

This is a very convoluted way of saying, I never saw Babylon 5 (nor spin-off series) after its original transmission and, as I toiled tirelessly on Bryce 3D, Poser and Photoshop, I yearned for the adventures of Commander John Sheridan (Bruce Boxleitner) and crew of the titular space station.

So, it was a surprise to see Ged Maheux, friend and co-founder of the Iconfactory, tweet Babylon 5 has been meticulously remastered for HBO Max. Seemingly in the spirit of Paramount's Star Trek: The Original Series and The Next Generation but stopping short of updated visual effects. Incidentally, I recently rewatched stablemate V AKA V: The Original Miniseries, on SyFy, and the eighties anti-fascist allegory benefits from its original widescreen presentation.

Alas, the subscription-based streaming service from Warner Bros. isn't available in the UK, but I'm hoping Nick Smith will be able to review Babylon 5 on HBO Max. The remastered series is also available to buy (affiliate link).

Babylon 5 has deservedly become a cult classic and will find a new generation of fans. How about a reboot utilising technology developed for Disney+'s The Mandalorian, HBO Max?

What are your memories of watching Babylon 5? Let me know in the comments below.

Monday 1 March 2021

Kena: Bridge of Spirits at State of Play

A new trailer for Kena: Bridge of Spirits was revealed during Sony's State of Play and my PS5's DualSense is ready.

The upcoming story-driven action-adventure video game is from third-party studio Ember Lab whose clients include Coca-Cola.

The game's release has been delayed due to developers working from home during the coronavirus pandemic. However, it now looks even more like an interactive Pixar movie and a stunning showcase for Epic Games' Unreal Engine 4.

Kena: Bridge of Spirits for PC, PlayStation 4 (PS4) and PlayStation 5 (PS5) is available for pre-order. I know what I'll be spending my PlayStation Store credit on (courtesy of a Cyberpunk 2077 refund).

Are you looking forward to Kena: Bridge of Spirits on 24th August? Let me know in the comments below.