Wednesday 30 June 2021

The Good, The Bart, and The Loki

The Simpsons follow up the inspired Maggie Simpson in The Force Awakens From Its Nap with a Marvel Studios spin-off.

The Good, The Bart, and The Loki, which premieres on 7th July on Disney+.

In the special episode, Loki (Tom Hiddleston) has been banished from Asgard and finds himself in Springfield, where he teams up with Bart Simpson.

New episodes of Marvel Studios' Loki premiere every Wednesday exclusively on Disney+. I've yet to watch an episode of the latest live-action spin-off series and will be catching up during a midweek break from UEFA Euro 2020.

Are you looking forward to The Good, The Bart, and The Loki on Disney+? Let me know in the comments below.

Tuesday 29 June 2021

Apple TV+'s ambitious Foundation

Apple TV+ has released a second official teaser trailer for Foundation. The 10-part sci-fi series looks every bit as ambitious as director Denis Villeneuve's Dune.

Here's the official Foundation synopsis:

"Based on the award-winning novels by Isaac Asimov, Foundation chronicles a band of exiles on their monumental journey to save humanity and rebuild civilization amid the fall of the Galactic Empire."

Series showrunner and executive producer David S. Goyer (The Dark Knight Trilogy) elaborates on the creative impulse behind this lavish live-action adaptation.

“In the decades since the ‘Foundation’ series first saw print, Asimov’s prophetic science-fiction work has never been more relevant than it is now,” said Goyer. “Growing up, I devoured ‘Foundation’ and dreamed of one day seeing it on screen – but a feature film didn’t seem big enough to embrace the ambition. Thanks to the broader landscape of streaming and a valuable partnership with Apple and Skydance, we are able to bring the series to the screen in a way that truly does it justice. ‘Foundation’ has always been at the top of my bucket list and I’m honored I get to play a part in finally bringing it to life. Whether you’re a fan of the novels or simply someone craving a mind-blowing epic, I’m excited to share with you what we’ve created.”

After availing myself of an extended free annual subscription to Apple TV+ (included with the purchase of an iPhone SE) and cancelling NOW (formerly NOW TV) following the closure of the Fox channel in the UK. This August, I’ll be switching to Apple One as it bundles Apple TV+ with Apple Arcade and Apple Music. The latter now features Spatial Audio with Dolby Atmos at no extra cost. And I'll benefit from iCloud+ when it launches later this year.

Foundation is set to premiere on 24th September exclusively on Apple TV+.

Are you looking forward to Foundation on Apple TV+? Let me know in the comments below.

Monday 28 June 2021

It's a bug hunt in Aliens: Fireteam Elite

The Alien film franchise is no stranger to the video game medium with official tie-ins for the Atari VCS and Super Nintendo Entertainment System (SNES) to Fortnite.

Sega's Alien: Isolation distilled the claustrophobic horror of Sir Ridley Scott's original film to nerve-shredding effect in 2014. Aliens: Fireteam Elite, for Xbox, PlayStation and PC, sees Aliens' Colonial Marines back in action for a licensed co-op shooter.

About Aliens: Fireteam Elite:

"Set in the iconic Alien universe, Aliens: Fireteam Elite is a cooperative third-person survival shooter that drops your fireteam of hardened marines into a desperate fight to contain the evolving Xenomorph threat.

Face off against waves of terrifying Xenomorph and Weyland-Yutani Synthetic foes alongside two players or AI teammates, as you and your fireteam desperately fight your way through four unique campaigns that introduce new storylines to the Alien universe. Create and customize your own Colonial Marine, choosing from an extensive variety of classes, weapons, gear and perks, battling overwhelming odds in this heart-pounding survival shooter experience."

Although the game's longevity remains to be seen, it looks fun and something I would play if it ever comes to Game Pass. Hopefully, it won't be any worse than Dungeons & Dragons: Dark Alliance, which is included on Game Pass and was one of the first titles I tried out on my new Xbox Series S last week.

Will you be joining the fight against the deadly xenomorph threat this August? Let me know in the comments below.

Sunday 27 June 2021

Dune pushed back by Bond

Contrary to earlier rumours, Dune, directed by Denis Villeneuve (Blade Runner 2049), delayed from last Christmas due to the pandemic, will premiere day-and-date on HBO Max and in theatres this October.

According to insiders, Dune has been pushed back three weeks to avoid clashing with No Time To Die at the box office. The latest James Bond movie is expected to do well as it sees Daniel Craig exit as the titular spy.

Dune will have its world premiere at the 78th Venice International Film Festival on 3rd September before being released in cinemas and on HBO Max on October 22nd.

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

Saturday 26 June 2021

Star Wars: The Essential Legends Collection

Lucasfilm continues to celebrate its first 50 years with Star Wars: The Essential Legends Collection curated by Del Rey.

"Novels set in a galaxy far, far away have enriched the Star Wars experience for fans seeking to continue the adventure beyond the screen. When he created Star Wars, George Lucas built a universe that sparked the imagination, and inspired others to create. He opened up that universe to be a creative space for other people to tell their own tales. This became known as the Expanded Universe, or EU, of novels, comics, videogames, and more.

To this day, the EU remains an inspiration for Star Wars creators and is published under the label Legends. Ideas, characters, story elements, and more from new Star Wars entertainment trace their origins back to material from the Expanded Universe. This Essential Legends Collection curates some of the most treasured stories from that expansive legacy.

The collection will launch on June 15, 2021, with new trade paperback editions of Heir to the Empire by Timothy Zahn, Darth Bane: Path of Destruction by Drew Karpyshyn, and Shatterpoint by Matthew Stover. Each edition will have a new book cover with original artwork. Tracie Ching is the cover artist of Heir to the Empire, Simon Goinard is the cover artist of Path of Destruction, and Jeff Manning is the cover artist of Shatterpoint. In addition to the new cover, Shatterpoint will also receive an all-new unabridged audiobook edition, narrated by Sullivan Jones.

On September 7th, the collection expands with a new batch of trade paperback editions: Dark Force Rising by Timothy Zahn, The Last Command by Timothy Zahn, Darth Bane: The Rule of Two by Drew Karpyshyn, and Rogue Squadron by Michael A. Stackpole. Each edition will have a new book cover with original artwork. Tracie Ching is the cover artist of Dark Force Rising and The Last Command, Simon Goinard is the cover artist of The Rule of Two, and Doaly is the cover artist of Rogue Squadron. In addition to the new cover, Rogue Squadron will also receive an all-new unabridged audiobook edition, read by Star Wars narrator Marc Thompson."

Timothy Zahn's Thrawn trilogy began 30 years ago with Star Wars: Heir to the Empire (affiliate link). Zahn's sequel trilogy introduced fan-favourite Grand Admiral Thrawn who has gone on to appear in Star Wars Rebels and was most recently namechecked in the second season of The Mandalorian on Disney+. This has sparked rumours of a new live-action Thrawn trilogy from Jon Favreau and Dave Filoni.

What are your favourite Star Wars EU novels, comics, toys and more? Let me know in the comments below.

Friday 25 June 2021

Star Wars: The Bad Batch mid-season peek

Star Wars: The Bad Batch, a spin-off from Star Wars: The Clone Wars, reaches its mid-season with Clone Force 99 and Omega pursued by an emergent Empire aided by fellow clone and former comrade, Crosshair.

The animated series doesn't shy away from darker themes in the wake of Emperor Palpatine's Order 66 in Star Wars: Revenge of the Sith.

"It's exciting that I get to continue that story and tell a little bit more about what happens to the clones," series head writer and executive producer Jennifer Corbett told "That's why I feel bad for Crosshair and all the clones. He didn’t have a choice. The chip was planted and none of them have a say in what they did. He's an interesting character. I can't wait for you to see where it goes."

New episodes of Star Wars: The Bad Batch premiere every Friday exclusively on Disney+.

Thursday 24 June 2021

MasterClass with filmmaker James Cameron

Academy Award-winning director James Cameron (Titanic) took a break from working on his Avatar sequels to become the latest member of a growing pantheon of creatives to be featured on MasterClass.

"From The Terminator and Titanic to Avatar, James Cameron has directed some of Hollywood’s biggest blockbusters. Now, for the first time in his 40-year career, he opens up about his process. Through behind-the-scenes breakdowns, James shares his approach to developing ideas, storylines, and characters; harnessing technology; and worldbuilding on any budget. Explore the innovation and imagination behind epic moviemaking."

“I’ve been directing films for almost four decades, and if there’s one thing I’ve realized, it’s that learning is a constant process,” Cameron said in a statement. “Every filmmaker stands on the shoulders of the filmmakers who came before them, and I hope that my MasterClass will allow members to filter and develop my techniques through their own subjective lens and experiences.”

Added MasterClass founder and CEO David Rogier: “Having directed two of the top three highest-grossing films of all time, there’s no question the impact that Jim has had on both the film industry and film fans around the world. In his class, Jim takes our members behind the camera and, for the first time in his career, shares what he’s learned in four decades of directing epic films.”

25 years ago I graduated with a degree in Media Production from Bournemouth University. Cameron, along with contemporaries George Lucas and Steven Spielberg, inspired me to pursue a career in the creative arts.

As I've written previously, a textual analysis of Terminator 2: Judgment Day (handwritten and lost to time) garnered unconditional offers to study on several university courses, which was in stark contrast to what a high school career tutor suggested would ever be possible as outlined here.

Will you be watching James Cameron's MasterClass? Let me know in the comments below.

Wednesday 23 June 2021

Star Wars: Visions at Anime Expo Lite

Anime Expo (AX) has announced Lucasfilm will have an official first look at Star Wars: Visions at Anime Expo Lite, the largest celebration of Japanese pop culture in the US, this July.

This has somewhat piqued my interest as a fan of both anime (since Battle of the Planets) and Star Wars. As an undergraduate, I avidly read Anime UK/FX before the magazine ceased publication in 1996.

Join host and pop culture maven Chastity Vicencio and Lucasfilm’s Jacqui Lopez (Executive Producer), James Waugh (Executive Producer), Josh Rimes (Executive Producer), and Qubic Pictures’ Justin Leach (Co-Executive Producer) and Kanako Shirasaki (Producer) for an inside look at Star Wars: Visions before the series debuts on Disney+ later this year.

The upcoming animated Star Wars spin-off series for Disney+ will showcase a galaxy far, far away... through the lens of visionary anime creators.

Here's the official series synopsis:

"'Star Wars: Visions' will be a series of animated short films celebrating 'Star Wars' through the lens of the world's best anime creators. The anthology collection will bring ten fantastic visions from several of the leading Japanese anime studios, offering a fresh and diverse cultural perspective to 'Star Wars.'"

Anime Expo Lite, celebrating 30 years of AX, runs 3rd - 4th July. For further information, please visit

Are you looking forward to Star Wars: Visions on Disney+? Let me know in the comments below.

Monday 21 June 2021

Alien to infest Hulu and Star on Disney+

Marvel Comics' all-new Alien series heralds the arrival of the iconic movie monster at Disney.

Nick Smith, our US-based stellar scribe, looks ahead to the first live-action spin-off series coming to FX on Hulu and Star on Disney+.

Guest post by Nick Smith

I first saw Sir Ridley Scott’s Alien on TV as a teenager. I’d read a lot about H.R. Giger’s designs, seen pictures of the Space Jockey, watched clips and spoofs of the chestburster scene and read reviews describing Alien as a “boo!” of a film. But I wasn’t prepared for the sheer excitement of watching it as it built to its roller coaster peak of a finale. I watched it at midnight, alone, in the dark. It was a goose-bumping, singular experience that could be repeated but surely never topped.

Not to be outdone, James Cameron (Avatar) went ahead and topped it with his sequel. It was bigger, more exciting, satirising military movie stereotypes in the same vein as Alien’s over-the-top “company” had commented on powerful corporations, steering just this side of realism. Instead of Jones the cat, Ripley had a little girl to rescue, emphasizing her maternal instincts. Aliens is rarely matched for its thrills and characters you care about.

I played my Alien and Aliens soundtrack LPs until vinyl wasn’t a thing anymore. They made great background music when I was writing, furiously typing away to James Horner’s climactic beats. If I’d been able to get my young paws on Kenner’s toy range, I would have bought every figure. But the range never surfaced in my local toy store.

The Kenner range was released in the US in the early ‘90s, featuring animal hybrid xenomorphs that prefigured the bio-blends of later sequels. There were toys of the marines from Aliens (Apone, Hudson, Drake and Vasquez) despite the sticky end they received in the movie!

A cartoon was proposed, but perhaps we should be thankful that a great outer space horror movie didn’t get turned into watered-down, kid-friendly fare a la the Rambo and RoboCop toons that did get produced.

Now there are Alien toys in the local Walmart and Disney has its mousey gloves on Fox’s cash creature. In December 2020, Disney announced its mission to make Alien its next 'mega-franchise.' The live-action series will be on Star on Disney+ internationally and FX on Hulu in the US, with Noah Hawley (Fargo) showrunning and Sir Ridley Scott in an executive producer role. Will the forthcoming live-action series be a pale imitation of its silver screen forbears, like My Big fat Greek Life (except with creatures laying eggs in your chest)?

On the big screen, the xenomorph has never quite reached its Scott/Cameron heights since Aliens was released in 1986. While Prometheus was intriguing, it trod stale ground with its “Ancient Aliens” ideas and characters as cold as LV-426, distant from the sympathetic heroes of the first two Alien films.

TV might be a good fit for the franchise right now. The format is more prone to showing scary stuff these days; while in the 70s and 80s it would focus on atmosphere and characterization, now we can see special effects gore (The Walking Dead) and spectacle (the twisted corpse sculptures of Hannibal).

How much will be shown on FX on Hulu and Star on Disney+? Promisingly, a source told Edward Lauder of Small Screen, "These future Alien properties will be full-blown action-horror. They are not intending to make these upcoming movies and TV shows PG-13. Disney execs see this property and the Predator franchise – which they now also own – as their ‘adult’ offerings and they are hoping to boost their adult subscribers…"

Although the new show is being touted as the first story set on Earth, we’ve already seen xenomorphs on the loose in Alien vs Predator: Requiem. If that 2007 film hadn’t been part of the saga, it would have been fine as a monsters-on-the-loose film. But it failed to live up to its legacy with a puppy love story pandering to 18-to-25-year-olds instead of focusing on mature, capable actors. So how can the new showrunners learn from Requiem’s mistakes?

I like a happy ending as much as the next viewer, but Lost and The Walking Dead have shown that audiences are not turned off by the death of major characters; in Alien, the ‘final girl’ element raises the stakes and makes us care more about her, admiring the fact that she survives.

If the new Alien series wants to endure, it will have to cater to the fans who have supported the movies over the years, invent new ways to incorporate original, horrific ideas, and scare the pants off them.

Are you looking forward to the Alien spin-off series? Let me know in the comments below.

Sunday 20 June 2021

LEGO Star Wars and more at LEGO CON

The first-ever LEGO CON, hosted by Melvin Odoom and YouTuber Michelle Khare, will be held online this week!

The event is shrouded in secrecy, but expect news regarding LEGO Harry Potter, LEGO Star Wars, LEGO Super Mario and more.

Will you be tuning in to the LEGO CON on 26th June? Let me know in the comments below.

Friday 18 June 2021

Star Wars: The Bad Batch Vintage Collection

As part of its Star Wars Fan Celebration, Hasbro has revealed Star Wars: The Vintage Collection: The Bad Batch in stunning retro-inspired packaging.

Emily Cantelupe (Senior Product Designer, Hasbro Star Wars) said this about the Kenner-branded vintage collection: “The Vintage Collection is a great line for celebrating troop building, so we built this pack to bring in the new clones coming to the Disney+ animated series, Star Wars: The Bad Batch!”

The Pawtucket-based company's Photo Real Technology impresses with Captain Rex, Captain Grey, Captain Ballast and an Elite Squad Trooper.

Cantelupe goes on to say: “Fans will notice that The Vintage Collection Star Wars: The Bad Batch Figure 4-pack brings some brand new sculpted portrait heads to The Vintage Collection. Each comes with unique details like Captain Ballast's unique hair sculpt with the shaved sides. We hope that these new portraits will bring some variety to collector’s shelves!“

In related news. The Black Series continues to commemorate the first 50 years of Lucasfilm with Power of the Force-themed packaging featuring fan-favourites Luke Skywalker, Han Solo and Greedo from Star Wars: A New Hope. I remember avidly collecting the 'muscular' toy line, at inflated import prices from a defunct local comic book store, in the mid-nineties.

The exclusive 4-pack can be pre-ordered at (affiliate link) and will be released in the fall.

New episodes of Star Wars: The Bad Batch premiere every Friday exclusively on Disney+.

Will you be adding Star Wars: The Bad Batch to your vintage collection? Let me know in the comments below.

Thursday 17 June 2021

Timey-wimey teaser for Star Trek: Picard

Paramount+ dropped a teaser trailer for Star Trek: Picard’s second season on Captain Picard Day, which celebrates an annual event aboard the USS Enterprise (NCC-1701-D) as seen in Star Trek: The Next Generation episode The Pegasus.

“How I’ve missed you,” Q (John de Lancie) tells Jean-Luc Picard (Patrick Stewart). “Welcome, my friend, to the very end of the road not taken.”

The omnipotent Q first appeared in Encounter at Farpoint and subjected the crew of the USS Enterprise to ongoing trials throughout Star Trek: The Next Generation's seven seasons.

“Q’s arrival is, as it often was, utterly unexpected but also comes at a shattering moment in the episode,” Stewart said during the surprise announcement of Q’s return on First Contact Day in April. “Whether it’s directly connected to Q or not, I am actually still not quite sure, but there is significant trauma, and in fact at the moment, I’m working on how the trauma of this moment hangs around Picard for quite a substantial part of the episode. Then, there he is.”

Evidently, there are alternate timeline and time travel shenanigans involved, sci-fi staples currently explored in Marvel Studios' Loki (itself channelling Doctor Who) on Disney+.

Star Trek: Picard, Star Trek: Discovery and Star Trek: Strange New Worlds are all in production for Paramount+. Star Trek: Picard is on Amazon Prime (affiliate link) outside the US.

Are you looking forward to the second season of Star Trek: Picard in 2022? Let me know in the comments below.

Wednesday 16 June 2021

DC's Stargirl returns this August

The first season of DC's Stargirl was a delightful surprise when it was released last year on Amazon Prime (affiliate link) in the UK. Although the second season of The Boys had recently dropped, a school friend had passed away (not COVID-related), and I was looking for something with hope for the future.

An uplifting DC Comics superhero series for all ages, evoking Buffy the Vampire Slayer, with production values worthy of HBO Max stablemates Swamp Thing and Watchmen. DC's Stargirl bucked the trend of The CW's DCTV spin-offs.

DC's Stargirl moves from the DC Universe to The CW for its second season, but with no loss in quality. The CW has released an official extended trailer introducing Jade (Ysa Penarejo), the daughter of Green Lantern. She confronts the titular Stargirl (Brec Bassinger).

Eclipso (Nick Tarabay), teased as this season's big bad, is described as 'terrifying' by series showrunner Geoff Johns.

The second season of DC's Stargirl begins on 10th August.

Are you looking forward to the return of DC's Stargirl? Let me know in the comments below.

Tuesday 15 June 2021

Kevin Smith on Masters of the Universe

Following the release of an official teaser trailer during Netflix's Geeked Week, Kevin Smith sheds further light on his upcoming Masters of the Universe: Revelation series.

"We pick up, spiritually, where He-Man and the Masters of the Universe left off," Smith notes. "So at the beginning of our episode, it plays for the first 10 minutes like a way better animated version of the old show. It's very simple, we establish the relationships, and it's very warm and young feeling. And then about halfway through the show, we turn everything. Something happens, and we kind of grow it up."

Seemingly his hints have stirred up controversy with the suggestion (from some fans) that the series will mostly focus on Teela (Sarah Michelle Gellar) in a bait and switch, which the Masters of the Universe: Revelation showrunner has debunked.

Each episode will be an homage to an eighties movie:

Ep 1 - Superman II
Ep 2 - Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom
Ep 3 - Batman
Ep 4 - Hellraiser
Ep 5 - Masters of the Universe

Personally, I'm really looking forward to seeing more Masters of the Universe from the fine folks at Mattel Television.

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

Monday 14 June 2021

Halo Infinite campaign teased at E3

Microsoft is celebrating the 20th anniversary of Xbox and Halo through November.

During yesterday's Xbox & Bethesda Games Showcase at E3, Halo Infinite's campaign was teased with the introduction of a mysterious new Cortana-like AI companion. She's tasked with impersonating Cortana and helping Master Chief destroy her forever, which should lead to a tense interpersonal conflict in what promises to be John-117's final battle.

“We are continuing the story of the Master Chief and Cortana from Halo 5, but also telling a story that’s welcoming for new players,” wrote Halo Infinite head of creative Joseph Staten in a blog post. “Cortana’s fate is one of the Infinite campaign’s big mysteries, and early in the story, you will meet a new UNSC AI, ‘the Weapon,’ that was created to help stop Cortana. Together with the Pilot, the Master Chief, and the Weapon begin an epic adventure to explore Zeta Halo, defeat the Banished forces who control the ring, and unravel even more mysteries along the way.”

Although there wasn't any campaign gameplay shown during the Mass Effect 2-inspired presentation, it's captured my imagination and encouraged me to pick up an Xbox Series S at the weekend. Why not a Series X? I already own a PlayStation 5 (PS5), and the Series S with its matching livery will be my console of choice for all things Game Pass going forward.

Game Pass is making Sony's first-party PS5 titles look prohibitively expensive and the strategy is working for Microsoft.

If the Xbox & Bethesda Games Showcase wasn't enough, you can look forward to Xbox Games Showcase: Extended, featuring internal studios including Ninja Theory, this Thursday.

Halo Infinite will be released over the holiday season after being delayed from last year. The next instalment in the beloved franchise looks incredible and I'll be playing day-one on Game Pass Ultimate.

Are you excited about Halo Infinite? Let me know in the comments below.

Saturday 12 June 2021

Invasion this Halloween on Apple TV+

Apple TV+ is carving out a niche for glossy genre fare beginning with For All Mankind, a reboot of Steven Spielberg's Amazing Stories, Servant and the upcoming Foundation based on Isaac Asimov's Hugo Award-winning book series.

Invasion, not to be confused with ABC's short-lived but excellent sci-fi series from 2005, arrives on Apple TV+ in time for Halloween. It's a modern riff on The War of the Worlds.

From Academy Award-nominated and two-time Emmy Award-nominated producer Simon Kinberg (The Martian) and David Weil (Hunters), Invasion is a sweeping, character-driven sci-fi drama series that follows an alien invasion through different perspectives around the world.

Set across multiple continents, Invasion stars Shamier Anderson, Golshifteh Farahani, Sam Neill, Firas Nassar and Shioli Kutsuna.

After availing myself of an extended free annual subscription to Apple TV+ (included with the purchase of an iPhone SE). This August, I’ll be switching to Apple One as it bundles Apple TV+ with Apple Arcade and Apple Music. The latter now features Spatial Audio with Dolby Atmos at no extra cost. And I'll benefit from iCloud+ (announced at this week's Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC)) when it launches later this year.

Invasion will debut with the first three episodes on 22nd October followed by new episodes weekly, every Friday.

Are you looking forward to Invasion on Apple TV+? Let me know in the comments below.

Friday 11 June 2021

Masters of the Universe at Netflix’s Geeked Week

An official teaser trailer for Masters of the Universe: Revelation dropped during Netflix Geeked's first-ever Geeked Week.

Unlike She-Ra and the Princesses of Power, Kevin Smith’s Masters of the Universe: Revelation is a continuation of the original Filmation animated series that ended in 1985.

Read the official series synopsis:

“After a cataclysmic battle between He-Man and Skeletor, Eternia is fractured and the Guardians of Grayskull are scattered. And after decades of secrets tore them apart, it’s up to Teela to reunite the broken band of heroes, and solve the mystery of the missing Sword of Power in a race against time to restore Eternia and prevent the end of the universe.”

The upcoming series has a star-studded cast filled with fan-favourites:

Chris Wood as Prince Adam/He-Man
Mark Hamill as Skeletor
Lena Headey as Evil-Lyn
Sarah Michelle Gellar as Teela
Liam Cunningham as Man-At-Arms
Stephen Root as Cringer
Diedrich Bader as King Randor/Trap Jaw
Griffin Newman as Orko
Tiffany Smith as Andra
Henry Rollins as Tri-Klops
Alan Oppenheimer as Moss Man
Susan Eisenberg as Sorceress
Alicia Silverstone as Queen Marlena
Justin Long as Roboto
Jason Mewes as Stinkor
Phil LaMarr as He-Ro
Tony Todd as Scare Glow
Cree Summer as Priestess
Kevin Michael Richardson as Beast Man
Kevin Conroy as Mer-Man

The Masterverse toy line (affiliate link) is released on 15th June. Fans of all ages will be able to play with action figures whilst watching the 5-part series from Mattel Television.

Masters of the Universe: Revelation premieres on Netflix on 23rd July.

What did you think of the Masters of the Universe: Revelation teaser trailer? Let me know in the comments below.

Thursday 10 June 2021

War of the Worlds invades Star on Disney+

With the impending closure of the Fox channel in the UK, the second season of War of the Worlds will stream exclusively on Star on Disney+ this July.

When we went into the first lockdown due to the global pandemic in March 2020, Fox's Anglo-French reimagining of H.G. Wells' classic alien invasion story-cum-essay on cultural imperialism had already started on Fox.

It was certainly no seminal sci-fi mini-series. However, I stoically stuck with it, unlike the much-maligned BBC adaptation, which wasn't helped by being scheduled after the superlative His Dark Materials in the run-up to Christmas 2019.

Daisy Edgar-Jones (Normal People) played Emily Gresham who regained her eyesight whenever near an alien invader. For a while, War of the Worlds was a fun post-apocalyptic romp in the style of The Walking Dead until it became patently clear we weren’t going to see any tripods trampling humans on a scale comparable to Steven Spielberg's big screen adaptation or even the BBC's early eighties series The Tripods! Le sigh!

Here’s hoping there are tripods this time.

Series showrunner Howard Overman (Misfits) commented: “It was always my intention in the first series of War of the Worlds that the intricacies of human relationships would be at its heart. Watching these complex characters brought to life by such a fantastic cast of actors was a joy, and it’s been a thrill returning to their stories for Season 2.”

Edgar-Jones reprises the role of Emily following her award-winning turn in Normal People. She'll be joined by returning cast members Gabriel Byrne, Léa Drucker, Natasha Little, Stéphane Caillard, Adel Bencherif, Ty Tennant, Stephen Campbell Moore, Bayo Gbadamosi, Aaron Heffernan and Emilie de Preissac.

Season one is currently streaming on Star on Disney+.

Are you looking forward to the second season of War of the Worlds? Let me know in the comments below.

Wednesday 9 June 2021

Loki Wednesday

Marvel Studios' live-action spin-offs WandaVision and The Falcon and the Winter Soldier explored grief and loss in the wake of the Thanos Blip on Disney+.

Enter Loki, an alternate timeline variant of the God of Mischief, played by Tom Hiddleston, who sacrificed himself in Avengers: Infinity War. During the time heist in Avengers: Endgame, this younger Loki stole the Tesseract and escaped only to be captured by the Time Variance Authority (TVA), Marvel Comics' answer to Doctor Who's Time Lords...

The six-part spin-off series begins today exclusively on Disney+. New episodes will drop every Wednesday.

Have you watched Loki on Disney+? Let me know in the comments below.

Tuesday 8 June 2021

LEGO Star Wars: Mandalorian Starfighter

LEGO has announced another amazing Star Wars set for release this August.

The Mandalorian Starfighter set includes fan-favourite Bo-Katan Kryze, Gar Saxon and a Mandalorian Loyalist from Star Wars: The Clone Wars on Disney+.

The LEGO Group has been recreating starships, vehicles, locations and characters from the Star Wars universe since 1999. LEGO Star Wars has become its most successful theme with wonderful sets to delight fans of all ages.

The Mandalorian Starfighter set is available from LEGO AU, UK and US (affiliate links).

Will you be adding LEGO Star Wars: Mandalorian Starfighter to your collection? Let me know in the comments below.

Sunday 6 June 2021

Worlds of Star Wars and Indiana Jones collide

The 40th anniversary of Indiana Jones is the ideal moment to share this award-winning Star Wars fan film approved by Luke Skywalker himself, Mark Hamill.

Read the official synopsis:

“Star Wars: Origins takes a unique look at where it all began. A thrilling action-adventure film drawing inspiration from both Star Wars and Indiana Jones to tell an epic story based on Earth during WWII. Behind what is possibly the most expensive fan film ever made are award-winning team, and life-long Star Wars fans; writer/director Phil Hawkins filmed on location in the Sahara Desert, Morocco, Star Wars: Origins is a self-funded not-for-profit project and the culmination of three years work.”

The movie stars Marie Everett (What Happened To Monday), Jamie Costa (Han Solo: A Smuggler’s Trade), Hadrian Howard (The Mummy) and Philip Walker.

On his ambitious love letter to George Lucas’ beloved sagas, writer and director Phil Hawkins said, “I’ve been lucky enough to make five feature films in the past — which were released by the likes of Sony Pictures and Netflix — but I could see a great divide from the low-budget films I was making to the scale and ambition of the films I’d like to make. Those films I grew up watching. Star Wars: Origins is hopefully a piece of work to help cross that divide and show the studios what I can do.”

Hawkins' fan film takes its inspiration from the Star Wars Easter eggs in Raiders of the Lost Ark and captures the essence of both beloved Lucasfilm franchises with aplomb.

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

Saturday 5 June 2021

40 years of Indiana Jones

As production begins this month on Indiana Jones 5 in the UK, Lucasfilm is celebrating the 40th anniversary of Raiders of the Lost Ark with a new 4K UHD Blu-ray disc collection.

George Lucas and Steven Spielberg's homage to the Saturday morning matinees they grew up watching became one of their greatest cinematic achievements with the help of Hollywood composer John Williams.

Inexplicably, Raiders of the Lost Ark passed me by at the time of its original release. Kenner's toy line never reached UK shores and I was too busy playing with Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back toys to notice. Instead, I remember watching Clash of the Titans during the summer of 1981.

I want my THX... It wasn't until the movie's home video rental release that 'the man in the hat' would capture my childhood imagination. Incidentally, it was the first time I would hear a movie in stereo with Dolby NR on an uncle's state-of-the-art VCR connected to a hi-fi system - igniting a lifelong passion for home cinema.

Pre-order the Indiana Jones 4-Movie Collection (affiliate link).

What are your memories of Indiana Jones? Let me know in the comments below.

Friday 4 June 2021

Avengers Campus opens at Disneyland

The Avengers Campus opens today in Disneyland. You can watch the opening ceremony of Marvel Studios' answer to Star Wars: Galaxy's Edge.

"Inside the fully immersive Avengers Campus, you will be invited to team up with the Avengers and their allies and live out your Super Hero dreams. Encounter the likes of Iron Man, Black Panther, Black Widow and more. Sling webs on the first Disney ride-through attraction to feature Spider-Man. Fuel up on shareable bites, inventive entrees and sweet treats."

Park guests will be able to interact with fan-favourites Black Widow, Captain America and many more.

"It's the first time we are celebrating all of these heroes and bringing them together in one place," said John Mauro, portfolio executive producer at Walt Disney Imagineering.

Plus, there'll be plenty of merchandise for fans of all ages.

Will you be attending the Avengers Campus in Disneyland? Let me know in the comments below.

Thursday 3 June 2021

Special look at Black Widow

Marvel Studios has released a special look at Black Widow starring Scarlett Johansson as the titular character and features Florence Pugh, David Harbour and Rachel Weisz.

Here's the official synopsis:

“In Marvel Studios’ action-packed spy thriller ‘Black Widow,’ Natasha Romanoff aka Black Widow confronts the darker parts of her ledger when a dangerous conspiracy with ties to her past arises. Pursued by a force that will stop at nothing to bring her down, Natasha must deal with her history as a spy and the broken relationships left in her wake long before she became an Avenger.“

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.

Wednesday 2 June 2021

Indiana Jones 5 begins filming soon

The fifth instalment in the Indiana Jones franchise finally begins filming in the UK next week. This almost seems too good to be true following delays and a worldwide pandemic.

Harrison Ford reprises the iconic role with director James Mangold (Logan) at the helm after Steven Spielberg decided to pass on directing 'the man in the hat' this time.

After the abysmal Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull - its only saving grace was Hollywood composer John Williams' superlative soundtack. Here's hoping the latest adventure will be an improvement at Disney.

Indiana Jones is expected in cinemas on 29th July 2022.

Are you looking forward to Indiana Jones 5? Let me know in the comments below.

Tuesday 1 June 2021

Alien Marvel

For a generation of Alien, Predator and Star Wars fans (myself included), Dark Horse Comics satiated fevered fandom between movie franchise instalments in the nineties.

When Disney bought Lucasfilm from George Lucas in 2012, Dark Horse Comics relinquished the Star Wars license back to Marvel Comics as expected. Following the House of Mouse's subsequent acquisition of Twentieth Century Fox's film and television assets, the Alien and Predator franchises have also moved from Dark Horse Comics to Marvel Comics.

Nick Smith, our US-based stellar scribe, grabs a couple of issues of Marvel Comics' all-new Alien series, from TBS Comics in Fort Walton Beach, Florida, and goes on a bug hunt!

Guest post by Nick Smith

Space should be a scary place. Despite NASA’s Ad Astra derring-do and our primal desire to see what’s out there, the void beyond Earth’s atmosphere is cold, dark and full of danger.

The best Alien comics capture this sense of dread: come fly the unfriendly skies, where one misstep could cost you your chest. I’ve yet to read one that really captures the body horror, psychosexual symbolism and bleak outlook of the original movie. Dark Horse’s 1989 spin-off Aliens, by Mark Verheiden and Mark A. Nelson, came closest, a benchmark for high-quality comics, benefiting from its black and white interiors.

Later efforts suffered from out-of-place Sam Kieth art (in Earth War), cardboard characterisations and horrible retro-edits to make them fit into a continuity nobody wanted. A slew of one-shots and mini-series seemed like mere moneymakers.

Five years after the last drop of synthetic milk was squeezed from Dark Horse’s cash cow, Marvel presents a new take on Ridley Scott and HR Giger’s nightmare vision. The result is one of the best storylines since Verheiden’s run.

In issue #1 we’re introduced to Gabriel Cruz, who retires from running Epsilon Orbital Research and Development Station and tries to reconnect with his estranged son. Their reunion doesn’t go very well and the son causes trouble for Cruz in unexpected ways. Meanwhile, Cruz is beset by post-traumatic flashes of a previous encounter with the xenomorphs. Writer Phillip Kennedy Johnson really makes us feel like we’re involved in the action and we care about Cruz from the get-go.

Disappointingly, artist Salvador Larroca’s art doesn’t really work for this kind of story. The images are too clean and the characters have plastic avatar faces. It’s a testament to Johnson’s work that we still sympathize with them and want to know what happens next.

Larroca can draw a mean alien, though, and his human faces improve in issue #2. It’s a little late though, because a whole bunch of humans end up dead thanks to the freaky creatures loose on the station.

As Cruz prepares to face the aliens again, he also encounters homages to the first two Alien movies. There’s a Newt-like little girl, military grunts who expect a traditional ‘bug hunt’ and are unprepared for xenomorphs, and biological research that you just know is a bad idea.

Other Marvel revamps – Conan, Star Wars – have succeeded by maintaining a respect for the source material. So far Marvel’s Alien does the same, finding just the right balance between something old (a version of Bishop, the ‘artificial person’ from Aliens), something new (Gabriel Cruz), something borrowed (facehuggers hiding in nooks and crannies) and something silently screaming in the blackness of space.

Far superior to Dark Horse’s later comics, this 4-issue series is recommended for readers who like to take their sci-fi with a splash of acid blood.

Aliens Omnibus Vol. 1 (affiliate link) is available for pre-order.

Are you reading Marvel Comics' Alien series? Let me know in the comments below.