Saturday 31 July 2021

LEGO Star Wars: Republic Gunship

Chosen by you, it is.

The new LEGO Star Wars: Republic Gunship, as seen in Star Wars: Attack of the Clones, is the first Ultimate Collector Series (UCS) set voted for by fans and goes on sale this August.

Jens Kronvold Frederiksen, creative lead of LEGO Star Wars at the LEGO Group, said: “Our fans are always coming up with concepts and ideas for the LEGO Star Wars range – so it was great to give them the opportunity to let their voices be heard and choose the next UCS set.

“There is always an enormous responsibility to deliver a quality design, and the set that Hans has crafted is a triumph, particularly the size. We knew our fans would want to display this model but we didn’t want to compromise on the scale versus the ability to exhibit it. I can’t wait to see how the fans incorporate the set into their Star Wars collections.”

The Republic Gunship is available from LEGO AU, UK and US (affiliate links).

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

Friday 30 July 2021

Jodie Whittaker to leave Doctor Who

Following Sunday's Comic-Con@Home panel, and months of speculation, Thirteenth Doctor Jodie Whittaker and series showrunner Chris Chibnall are leaving Doctor Who ahead of the 60th anniversary in 2023.

Chris Chibnall says: “Jodie and I made a “three series and out” pact with each other at the start of this once-in-a-lifetime blast. So now our shift is done, and we’re handing back the TARDIS keys.

“Jodie’s magnificent, iconic Doctor has exceeded all our high expectations. She’s been the gold standard leading actor, shouldering the responsibility of being the first female Doctor with style, strength, warmth, generosity and humour. She captured the public imagination and continues to inspire adoration around the world, as well as from everyone on the production. I can’t imagine working with a more inspiring Doctor – so I’m not going to!

“For me, leading this exceptional team has been unrivalled creative fun, and one of the great joys of my career. I’m so proud of the people we’ve worked with and the stories we’ve told. To finish our time on the show with an additional Special, after the pandemic changed and challenged our production plans, is a lovely bonus. It’s great that the climax of the Thirteenth Doctor’s story will be at the heart(s) of the BBC’s centenary celebrations.

“I wish our successors - whoever the BBC and BBC Studios choose - as much fun as we’ve had. They’re in for a treat!”

Jodie Whittaker adds: “In 2017 I opened my glorious gift box of size 13 shoes. I could not have guessed the brilliant adventures, worlds and wonders I was to see in them. My heart is so full of love for this show, for the team who make it, for the fans who watch it and for what it has brought to my life. And I cannot thank Chris enough for entrusting me with his incredible stories. We knew that we wanted to ride this wave side by side, and pass on the baton together. So here we are, weeks away from wrapping on the best job I have ever had. I don’t think I’ll ever be able to express what this role has given me. I will carry the Doctor and the lessons I’ve learnt forever.

“I know change can be scary and none of us know what’s out there. That’s why we keep looking. Travel Hopefully. The Universe will surprise you. Constantly.”

Piers Wenger, Director of BBC Drama, says: “Over the last four years Chris and Jodie have made Doctor Who history and their time on the show is indelibly marked on our memories. From Rosa Parks to Ascension of the Cybermen, Chris and Jodie have given Doctor Who some of its most life-affirming and tear-jerking moments to date and we are beyond excited to see what they have in store for us in the new series this autumn.

"Jodie's final adventure to mark the BBC's Centenary in 2022 is set to be a Doctor Who Special to remember. I’d like to thank them both for their incredible work on the show.”

I'll miss her and the TARDIS fam. Series 11 was the first I've watched, since the Tom Baker era in the seventies, with my dad. Rosa Parks, The Haunting of Villa Diodati and Ascension of the Cybermen/The Timeless Children are among some of the best episodes in the beloved sci-fi franchise's storied history.

However, series 13 will be shown later this year and is a 6-part special event. Weekly cliffhangers are a thing!

Are you disappointed Jodie Whittaker's leaving or excited to discover the next Doctor Who? Who do you think should play the titular Time Lord? Let me know in the comments below.

Thursday 29 July 2021

The Nevers' phantasmagorical finale

Before cancelling my subscription to NOW (formerly NOW TV) last month, I managed to finish the first six episodes of HBO Max's The Nevers and was held spellbound by its timey-wimey twist.

Nick Smith, our US-based stellar scribe, takes a deep dive into the fantastical finale chronicling the adventures of Joss Whedon's Victorian X-Men.

Guest post by Nick Smith

Okay, has everyone caught up with True, the latest episode of The Nevers? They have? Great. Now we can discuss and dissect it like a captive Galanthi.

Episode Six of The Nevers – the last before a COVID-conscious hiatus – is fascinating and the only TV instalment I’ve watched twice in the same year since Breaking Bad, you know, the one with the train. Second time around, this sci-fi Victorian superhero mashup does not disappoint. It reads like a role-playing game where just when you’re getting settled, the GM turns the tables - and the genre - on its head.

Sure, we’re introduced to the concept of aliens flying over London in the pilot episode of this new series. But now we’re transported to an apocalyptic scenario that feels very Doctor Who, complete with a smattering of British accents and allegories about not judging by appearances. The TARDIS wouldn't be out of place, standing discreetly in a corner of the bunker where we find ourselves holed up. The futuristic location is occupied by a bad batch of troops from the Planetary Defence Coalition.

As soon as the lead character, Zephyr (Claudia Black), taps her fingers against her thumb it’s inferred that she’s Mrs. Amalia True (Laura Donnelly). They talk the same and have the same attitude, if not the same accent. It’s a relief, since Amalia is an unappealing character and her battle-worn backstory gives us a chance to sympathize with her.

Zephyr’s tomorrow war ends with a dark and lonely moment. Hundreds of years earlier in Victorian London, Molly True lives a dank, hard knock life delivering pies and caring for her bedridden mother-in-law. Faced with doctor’s bills and a hopeless future, she attempts to drown herself; when she’s dragged out of the Thames, she’s possessed by Zephyr, bringing us full circle to when we met her in the first episode.

This mid-season finale feels like the conclusion to a whole year because it answers so many questions – how the Touched get their powers (from alien spores), how Amalia met Maladie the serial killer, and why Amalia can be such a jerk sometimes. However, other questions remained unanswered, most intriguingly who else has ‘hitched a ride’ in someone else’s body.

In the previous episode, Hanged, we’re schooled not to trust our senses. Maladie wears a disguise and has a double; even though she is due to be executed, she does not want the ‘good guys’ to mount a successful rescue. As Police Inspector Frank Mundi (Ben Chaplin) discovers, not all is what it first appears. But like a diligent viewer, he reviews the clues and figures out what’s going on. We are fellow detectives on this labyrinthine path, deciding what evidence to focus on and what to discard.

One theme that originator Joss Whedon and his successors do want us to latch onto is that of optimism. In the land of the Nevers, past or future, cynicism is bad and destructive. ‘Nitta died in… my despair,’ says Zephyr/Amalia. It’s hard to hope, though, in the face of our world’s ecological demise. ‘It’s time to tell them what’s coming,’ she tells her buddy Penance (Ann Skelly); when she says 'them,' she’s talking about the superhumans they’ve gathered but she’s also talking about us. We need to be forewarned so that we can be armed but also trust in the dogged determination of people like Zephyr.

This theme, emphasized with wit and grace in the first six episodes of this show, remind us that in the real world there’s hope to be found as well. Humans are blessed with a unique foresight, developed as a survival mechanism, and we can save the planet or destroy it.

Have you watched The Nevers and are you looking forward to the second half of season one in 2022? Let me know in the comments below.

Wednesday 28 July 2021

Spooky reunion in Ghostbusters: Afterlife

Sony's dropped a new trailer for Ghostbusters: Afterlife. The latest instalment in the fan-favourite franchise was delayed due to the pandemic.

Here's the official synopsis:

"From director Jason Reitman and producer Ivan Reitman, comes the next chapter in the original Ghostbusters universe. In Ghostbusters: Afterlife, when a single mom and her two kids arrive in a small town, they begin to discover their connection to the original ghostbusters and the secret legacy their grandfather left behind. The film is written by Jason Reitman & Gil Kenan."

Ghostbusters: Afterlife is a direct sequel to Ghostbusters II, which seemed more interested in promoting Sony products than the genuine scares and thrills of the beloved 1984 original (forever intertwined with pop culture juggernaut: Michael Jackson's Thriller), upon its release in 1989.

Please gift me Ghostbusters Plasma Series Mini-Pufts collectables from Hasbro Pulse for Halloween.

This time Ghostbusters has a nostalgic momentum behind it in the wake of the success of Netflix's Stranger Things (not least because of the meta connection), and I'm genuinely excited for the movie's release this November.

Are you looking forward to Ghostbusters: Afterlife? Let me know in the comments below.

Tuesday 27 July 2021

ILM hires Deepfake expert

When Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill) cameoed in The Mandalorian second season finale last Christmas, most Star Wars fans (myself included) were overwhelmingly surprised and delighted to see the beloved Jedi Knight at the peak of his audacious powers.

However, the de-ageing technology, utilised by Industrial Light and Magic (ILM), was divisive. And independent VFX wizards quickly got to work on subjectively improving the visuals (following in the hallowed footsteps of Star Wars creator George Lucas' endless tinkering on the original trilogy).

One stood out from the rest. YouTube Deepfake star, Shamook.

His work was so impressive, it caught the attention of the fine folks at Lucasfilm who have subsequently hired him. IndieWire confirms in this quote:

“Over the past several years ILM has been investing in both machine learning and A.I. as a means to produce compelling visual effects work and it’s been terrific to see momentum building in this space as the technology advances.”

This is a mission statement suggesting there'll be more classic characters appearing in Star Wars spin-offs both on the big screen and Disney+.

“As some of you may already know, I joined ILM/Lucasfilm a few months ago and haven’t had the time to work on any new YouTube content,” Shamook wrote in a comment this month. “Now I’ve settled into my job, uploads should start increasing again. They’ll still be slow, but hopefully not months apart. Enjoy!”

Are you a fan of Deepfake technology or more concerned with the possible ethical implications therein? Let me know in the comments below.

Monday 26 July 2021

Doctor Who panel at Comic-Con 2021

During Sunday's Doctor Who panel at Comic-Con@Home 2021, the BBC dropped a trailer for series 13.

Watch showrunner Chris Chibnall, Jodie Whittaker (Doctor Who), Mandip Gill (Yasmin Khan), new companion John Bishop (Dan) and a very special surprise guest as they share exclusive content from Doctor Who.

“Before we started making it, there were times when we thought we were going to be unable to do the show under Covid conditions this year… there were two ways you could go,” Chibnall told Deadline. “You could go ‘let’s do lots of tiny little episodes in one room, with no monsters,’ or we could throw down the gauntlet and do the biggest story we’ve ever done. We’re going to go to all kinds of different places, we’re going to have all kinds of characters and monsters, and it’s all going to be part of a bigger whole. It’s definitely the most ambitious thing we’ve done since we’ve been on the series.”

Whittaker's tenure as the titular Time Lord is rumoured to be coming to an end. However, this is simply speculation, and there's the small matter of the beloved sci-fi series' 60th anniversary in 2023.

Are you looking forward to the new 6-part series later this year on BBC One, BBC America and HBO Max? Let me know in the comments below.

Sunday 18 July 2021

Black Series Rancor teased by HasLab

The Rancor was one of my favourite large-scale action figures from Star Wars: Return of the Jedi, terrorising the Rebel Alliance and Action Force, on the Jurassic Coast, in the early eighties.

HasLab has now teased Jabba the Hutt's pit-dwelling beast for the Black Series.

“Following the success of the previous two HasLab campaigns for Star Wars: The Vintage Collection, our team is so thrilled to offer fans the first-ever HasLab project from The Black Series – the Rancor!” says Michael Ballog, Hasbro’s vice president for the Star Wars brand. “We hope fans of The Black Series line are prepared for this iconic creature to join their 6-inch-scale collections.”

HasLab, Hasbro's crowdfunded toy line, has been a huge success with collectors, and Marvel Legends' Galactus is the latest to join the premium collection alongside Transformers' Unicron exclusively on Hasbro Pulse.

Will you be adding Jabba's pet Rancor to your Black Series collection? Let me know in the comments below.

Friday 16 July 2021

WandaVision wows with Emmy nominations

The first season of Marvel Studios' Loki may have ended, but Disney+ is basking in the glow of Emmy nominations for its original Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) and Star Wars spin-off series.

WandaVision has garnered 23 nominations including nods for Elizabeth Olsen (Wanda Maximoff/Scarlet Witch), Paul Bettany (Vision) and Kathryn Hahn (Agatha Harkness). The live-action series was praised for how it dealt with loss and grief - themes amplified in the midst of a global pandemic.

“The grief journey was the tethering force,” showrunner Jac Schaeffer told The Times. “I aligned each episode to the stages of grief, so the story is told nonlinearly but the grief story is linear. We start in [Wanda's] denial and move all the way to acceptance.”

“We were using the superhero space to explore mental health, conflict resolution, self-acceptance. So many superhero stories right now deal with things like PTSD [post traumatic stress disorder] and crisis of identity. The terrain of our current mythology has to do with emotion and psychology. Something that Marvel is doing well is an examination of all the different motivations in a given conflict as opposed to good versus bad. We all, as consumers, have grown up a bit and know the world is far messier than that.”

Marvel Studios' stablemate The Falcon and the Winter Soldier garnered 5 nominations.

Lucasfilm's The Mandalorian received 24 nominations and is tied with Netflix's The Crown. Disney+ is a relative newcomer to the streaming space, quickly establishing itself as a prestige drama series powerhouse. To infinity and beyond...

Thursday 15 July 2021

Daisy Ridley stars in Twelve Minutes

5 years ago, I was with friends at Star Wars Celebration Europe, which will always be a treasured memory.

Whilst the Star Wars sequel trilogy may have ended, Daisy Ridley (Rey) is starring in Twelve Minutes, an upcoming video game releasing for Xbox One, Xbox Series X|S and PC.

Read the synopsis:

“In Twelve Minutes, you keep living the same specific time period over and over again. While a man and his wife are sharing an evening in peace, a man comes in and claims to be a cop. He accuses the woman of murder. After this, the 12 minutes start repeating. You need to fully understand the situation and the underlying truth. You also need to find some clues and take a closer look at the details.”

Twelve Minutes, co-starring James McAvoy (X-Men) and Willem Dafoe (Spider-Man), will be available on Game Pass on 19th August.

Wednesday 14 July 2021

Power of the Force Cantina Showdown

To commemorate the first 50 years of Lucasfilm, Hasbro has announced Star Wars The Black Series Cantina Showdown in vintage The Power of the Force packaging.

This isn't the first time Hasbro has released a Cantina Showdown collectable set. There was a Han Solo vs. Greedo Comic-Con exclusive in 2014.


(HASBRO/Age 4 years & up/Approx. Retail Price: $104.99/Available: Fall 2021)

Commemorate the first 50 years of LUCASFILM with figures inspired by the original STAR WARS trilogy featuring STAR WARS The Power of the Force-themed packaging. Recall intense moments from the STAR WARS Galaxy with this STAR WARS: THE BLACK SERIES THE POWER OF THE FORCE CANTINA SHOWDOWN Playset, featuring DR. EVAZAN, PONDA BABA, and OBI-WAN KENOBI 6-inch-scale figures. STAR WARS fans can display these fully articulated figures featuring poseable heads, arms, and legs, as well as premium deco, in their action figure and vehicle collection. The playset combines with additional CANTINA SHOWDOWN playsets to create the full scene inspired by STAR WARS: A NEW HOPE. Additional playsets sold separately. Includes Cantina bar, 3 figures, and 3 accessories. Available exclusively on Hasbro Pulse in the US, Canada & UK in Fall 2021.

The Power of the Force toy line ran from 1995 to 2000. I remember collecting action figures from a defunct local comic book store and Toys "R" Us, Norwich.

I joined Hasbro Pulse Premium when it launched last March in the UK. However, exclusive products such as the Transformers-Jurassic Park mash-up pack sell out fast, so it's unlikely I'll renew as the Pawtucket-based company continues to pivot towards the premium collector's market.

Cantina Showdown will be made available during Hasbro Pulse Con 2021. Happy toy hunting fellow Star Wars collectors, and watch out for anyone with a death sentence in 12 systems.

Have you joined Hasbro Pulse Premium, and are you excited about The Power of the Force products? Let me know in the comments below.

Monday 12 July 2021

What Boba Fett did next...

It's the 25th anniversary of Star Wars: Shadows of the Empire and whilst we wait for The Book of Boba Fett this Christmas on Disney+, Marvel Comics takes us back to a time between Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back and Star Wars: Return of the Jedi in War of the Bounty Hunters.

Our very own US-based stellar scribe, Nick Smith, grabs his latest comic book bounty, from TBS Comics in Fort Walton Beach, Florida, and goes in pursuit of the infamous Boba Fett.

Guest post by Nick Smith

It’s a story as old as that galaxy far, far away – a protagonist does a favour for a friend in lieu of payment and has to face a series of challenges, eventually finding that the favour could prove fatal thanks to an obstacle that’s bigger and more threatening than he ever expected.

However, in War of the Bounty Hunters, that protagonist is the legendary Boba Fett and the payment concerns that scruffy Corellian smuggler Han Solo. “Precious Cargo,” from Marvel Comics, sets off a chain of events that will span what’s being described as the biggest crossover in Star Wars comics history, filling all 4 monthly titles and a dedicated title (War of the Bounty Hunters). In all, it will take more than 30 issues to tell this story through October 2021. Boushh and IG-88 will get their own comics, while 4-LOM and Zuckuss have to share one.

“Precious Cargo” kicks off five preludes to the war, opening with Boba in his ship Slave 1 [Disney's subsequently renamed it as Boba Fett's Starship - Ed]. He’s just left Bespin with Han encased in carbonite and he’s en route for Tatooine where Solo will become Jabba the Hutt’s favourite decoration. Since The Empire Strikes Back focuses on Luke Skywalker, we’ve never seen What Fett Did Next – until now.

In this kind of crossover, there is no possible character progression for Boba, and the story’s conclusion is inevitable; we know Solo will end up with Jabba. The fun lies in finding out why the other bounty hunters, as well as Luke and the gang, are involved in the war, along with Valance the Cyborg, Domina Tagge and Doctor Aphra. Since the latter three are Marvel creations, they can be further developed. Their fates are unknown to us. Those characters are given just enough traits and twists to keep us reading.

Boba’s situation is complicated thanks to some gangland entanglements with the Kanji Hutts and it becomes apparent that his journey to Tatooine won’t be a straight run. Over in Star Wars issue 13, the rebel alliance searches for their carbon-cosy pal in “The Hunt for Han Solo.” They’re one issue behind Boba so they don’t catch up with him or his cargo. But they, too, face the Kanji. With an image of Boba on a wall and the good guys facing aliens, the cover of this story is reminiscent of the original Star Wars issue 7.

Next up is Bounty Hunters issue 12, which develops the relationship between Valance and Han Solo; and Darth Vader issue 12, continuing a captivating conflict between the Dark Lord of the Sith and his Emperor. The animosity between them makes Vader’s ultimate betrayal of his master less sudden and more believable in Return of the Jedi.

The final prelude is in Doctor Aphra issue 10. Although Aphra is a character with great potential – imagine a Lucasfilm version of Lara Croft, Tomb Raider – “The Invitation” feels the least like a Star Wars story, despite its stomping Stormtroopers and exploding machinery. There’s no direct mention of the Han Solo situation and we’re launched into a confusing situation, even with a ‘story so far’ at the beginning of the book. If you’re not familiar with Aphra’s past and her allies, beware.

Despite this weak link, the War of the Bounty Hunters saga has strong artwork, entertaining characters and situations, and Star Wars references aplenty. Whether that’s enough to hold our attention through 34 comics remains to be seen. But fans have plenty to look forward to in these ‘deleted scenes’ from The Book of Boba Fett, which will lead to Marvel’s contemporary take on Return of the Jedi.

Are you reading War of the Bounty Hunters (affiliate link)? Let me know in the comments below.

Saturday 10 July 2021

The Witcher celebrated at WitcherCon

A teaser trailer for The Witcher's second season dropped during the first-ever WitcherCon, a digital celebration of all things The Witcher from Netflix and CD Projekt Red.

The first series had a stumbling start but quickly transcended those early episodes becoming an unmissable heir to Game of Thrones in 2019. And the second season promises further monster-hunting tales this Christmas.

During the three-hour WitcherCon, series star Henry Cavill provided his take on Geralt of Rivia’s journey.

“I played the Season One way deliberately, which was him out in the wilds and without the opportunity for vast swathes of dialogue. I thought it best to be the man who says less because that seems like he’s thinking more. And that was the intention with that. But once you get into a scenario with Cirilla, and the Witchers and his home space and with those people who he already knows, I was of the opinion that you had to let him be verbose and be philosophical and speak more and be intellectual, because that’s what he is. He’s not just a big old white-haired brute.”

Whilst Cyberpunk 2077 was mired in controversy when it was released to coincide with the launch of the PlayStation 5 (PS5) and Xbox Series X|S last holiday season, The Witcher continues to be CD Projekt's most beloved multimedia franchise.

The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt next-gen update is coming to PS5, Xbox Series X|S, and PC for free this year! And it'll include free DLC inspired by the Netflix series. Glad I never continued a playthrough on Xbox Series X from 2017.

The Witcher's second season starts streaming exclusively on 17th December on Netflix.

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

Friday 9 July 2021

Enter the multiverse in Marvel Studios' What If...?

Marvel Studios has released an official trailer for What If...?, its first-ever animated series for Disney+.

Marvel Studios' What If...? is an excellent primer for all things multiverse as hinted in WandaVision and soon Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness.

The impressive voice cast includes Hayley Atwell as Captain Peggy Carter, Josh Brolin as Thanos, Dominic Cooper as Howard Stark, David Dastmalchian as Kurt, Michael Douglas as Hank Pym, Karen Gillan as Nebula, Jeff Goldblum as Grandmaster, Frank Grillo as Brock Rumlow, Sean Gunn as Kraglin, Chris Hemsworth as Thor, Tom Hiddleston as Loki, Djimon Hounsou as Korath the Pursuer, Samuel L. Jackson as Nick Fury, Toby Jones as Arnim Zola, Michael B. Jordan as Killmonger, Neal McDonough as Dum Dum Dugan, Natalie Portman as Jane Foster, Jeremy Renner as Clint Barton, Michael Rooker as Yondu Udonta, Paul Rudd as Scott Lang, Mark Ruffalo as Bruce Banner, Sebastian Stan as James “Bucky” Barnes, Chris Sullivan as Taserface, Stanley Tucci as Abraham Erskine, and Taika Waititi as Korg.

It's especially poignant that fans (myself included) get to hear the late Chadwick Boseman as T’Challa.

Now that Loki Wednesdays are a thing, Marvel Studios' What If...? starts streaming 11th August with new episodes every Wednesday on Disney+.

In related news. Marvel Studios' Black Widow is now in cinemas and available exclusively on Disney+ with Premier Access.

Are you looking forward to Marvel Studios' What If...? on Disney+? Let me know in the comments below.

Thursday 8 July 2021

Independence Day director talks Disney+

The Tomorrow War, streaming exclusively on Amazon Prime, is a hit with subscribers during the ongoing pandemic - an era starved of blockbusters on the big screen. Chris McKay's sci-fi movie wears its influences on its Starship Troopers sleeve.

Independence Day (ID4), celebrating its 25th anniversary, is one such inspiration and its director, Roland Emmerich, wants to revisit the disaster movie franchise he created following The Walt Disney Company's acquisition of Twentieth Century Fox's film and television assets.

"They have now a streaming service and they need product. I would love to do maybe a third one, or a TV show, continuing the story," Emmerich explained to "When we did Independence Day: Resurgence, we already had, also, the third part already. And actually, the third part has much more to do with the first part, because we learned, more or less, that out there are a lot of refugees and they're living on a refugee planet. And where [the aliens] finally come there because, somewhat like these aliens on earth, found out about it and telepathically or whatever gave it to their super queen. They're all humans, but in all different forms. So it's this thing that we have Brent Spiner and Jeff Goldblum and we have them with all these different forms of people, which would be a great movie. But we'll see what happens."

Emmerich describes why the original movie means so much to him.

"It doesn't matter, whoever does it, but I feel very passionate about it, very, very passionate, because it was a little bit like ... this movie single-handedly also got me total freedom. I have final cut since then. I pretty much do my own thing," the filmmaker said. "And now, even producing my own films, no studio anymore, I got myself a studio, you know what I mean? In a very small form, like a little garage studio. Anyhow ... I feel very, very passionate about it because it was my first -- actually, that's why both Stargate and Independence Day are seminal movies for me. They pretty much created all of what I did afterwards."

Ironically, at the time of Independence Day's release, Twentieth Century Fox cancelled Space: Above and Beyond. A short-lived sci-fi series that foreshadowed the Battlestar Galactica reboot and deserves a new audience on Star on Disney+.

Independence Day and Independence Day: Resurgence are available to stream on Star on Disney+. However, I'd suggest skipping the sequel and watching something less boring instead.

Would you watch the third instalment of Independence Day? Let me know in the comments below.

Wednesday 7 July 2021

Zack Snyder's 'Star Wars' on Netflix

Zack Snyder (Justice League), fresh from Army of the Dead, is reworking a pre-Disney Star Wars pitch for Netflix.

Rebel Moon is based on Akira Kurosawa's Seven Samurai.

"This is me growing up as an Akira Kurosawa fan, a Star Wars fan," said Snyder in his announcement. “It’s my love of sci-fi and a giant adventure. My hope is that this also becomes a massive IP and a universe that can be built out.”

Rebel Moon evokes Roger Corman's Battle Beyond the Stars, released in the wake of Star Wars' success, and it's piqued my interest following Snyder's cut of Justice League. Shay Hatten, who worked with Snyder on 300 and Army of the Dead, has been hired to flesh out the universe for Rebel Moon.

"I’ve spent the last two or three years building out this universe. Every corner has to be painted in. I’ve been doing designs, constantly drawing and really cultivating its fertile ground to make this world fully realized," said Hatten.

The runaway success of Disney+, owing much to Marvel Studios and Star Wars, is putting increasing pressure on Netflix. The Fear Street trilogy is currently proving popular with slasher film fans (myself included) as it channels the nostalgia of Netflix stablemate Stranger Things.

Rebel Moon goes into production in 2022.

Tuesday 6 July 2021

Star Wars: Visions first look at Anime Expo Lite

Lucasfilm has shared the first look at Star Wars: Visions during a panel at Anime Expo Lite.

"As a first formal venture into anime, each “Star Wars: Visions” short bears a unique Japanese sensibility, which in many ways aligns with the tone and spirit of Star Wars storytelling. From the beginning, stories told in the Star Wars galaxy have counted Japanese mythology and the films of Akira Kurosawa among their many influences, and these new visions will further explore that cultural heritage through the unique animation style and perspective of each anime studio."

Kamikaze Douga - The Duel
Geno Studio (Twin Engine) - Lop and Ochō
Studio Colorido (Twin Engine) - Tatooine Rhapsody
Trigger - The Twins
Trigger - The Elder
Kinema Citrus - The Village Bride
Science Saru - Akakiri
Science Saru - T0-B1
Production IG - The Ninth Jedi

All nine episodes of Star Wars: Visions will be released on Disney+ 22nd September.

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

Sunday 4 July 2021

He-Man fights to save Eternia on Netflix

Happy 4th of July to all our US-based readers! Nick Smith is taking a well-earned break from hunting xenomorphs to enjoy the Independence Day festivities this weekend. So, I'm on hand to champion the heroes of Eternia in their darkest hour.

Netflix Geeked has announced an official trailer for Masters of the Universe: Revelation Part 1.

There's still no sign of Stratos as a friend and fellow fan of the franchise pointed out on Facebook. Perhaps he'll appear in Part 2?

The Kevin Smith led production also announced a few more voices for its cast: Dennis Haysbert as King Grayskull, Adam Gifford as Vikor and Jay Tavare as Wundar.

The five-episode series has a star-packed cast including Mark Hamill as Skeletor, Lena Headey as Evil-Lyn, Chris Wood as Prince Adam/He-Man, Sarah Michelle Gellar as Teela, Liam Cunningham as Man-At-Arms, Stephen Root as Cringer, Henry Rollins as Tri-Klops, Alicia Silverstone as Queen Marlena, Jason Mewes as Stinkor, and more.

Here’s the official description: "The war for Eternia culminates in Masters of the Universe: Revelation, an innovative and action-packed animated series that picks up where the iconic characters left off decades ago. 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."

Smith's trailer breakdown amps the hype to the nth degree with his impassioned insights.

The Masterverse toy line is now appearing alongside Masters of the Universe Origins at retail. So far, I've not collected any of Mattel's latest lines since Masters of the Universe Classics ended! However, Hallmark's Castle Grayskull Christmas tree ornament is the perfect gift this holiday season. Hopefully, it'll be available in the UK, too.

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

After watching the trailer, are you excited for Masters of the Universe: Revelation? Let me know in the comments below.

Saturday 3 July 2021

Alien series shooting without Ripley

James Cameron's Aliens marks its 35th anniversary this year and Noah Hawley (Fargo) has shared details about his mysterious Alien spin-off series for FX on Hulu with Vanity Fair.

"What's next for me, it looks like, is [an] Alien series for FX, taking on that franchise and those amazing films by Ridley Scott and James Cameron and David Fincher," Hawley said. "I've written a couple of scripts, the first two scripts, and we're looking to make them next spring."

If you are hoping for a cameo from Ellen Ripley (Sigourney Weaver), a la Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill) in Disney stablemate The Mandalorian, you may be deeply disappointed.

"It's not a Ripley story," he added. "She's one of the great characters of all time, and I think the story has been told pretty perfectly, and I don't want to mess with it."

This may be a misdirect as Weaver could be de-aged for the FX on Hulu and Star on Disney+ series. Regardless, I want to be surprised and Nick Smith recently wrote about his hopes and fears for the upcoming Alien series.

Whilst many fans (myself included) of the franchise lament never seeing Neill Blomkamp's (District 9) Alien 5, I'm hopeful this spin-off series will surpass Sir Ridley Scott's prequels as it focuses on humanities parasitic past and AI-dominated technological future.

Prometheus is available to stream on Star on Disney+. The original Alien and Aliens are coming soon to the House of Mouse's streaming service in the UK.

Friday 2 July 2021

The Tomorrow War on Amazon Prime

The Tomorrow War, starring Chris Pratt (Guardians of the Galaxy), is now available to stream exclusively on Amazon Prime (affiliate link).

Read the synopsis:

"Time travelers arrive from 2051 to deliver an urgent message: 30 years in the future mankind is losing a war against a deadly alien species. The only hope for survival is for soldiers and civilians to be transported to the future and join the fight. Determined to save the world for his daughter, Dan Forester teams up with a brilliant scientist and his estranged father to rewrite the planet’s fate."

The Tomorrow War was delayed by Paramount Pictures due to the pandemic and the $200 million movie was acquired by Amazon to bolster its slim summer blockbuster offerings.

Pratt's latest timey-wimey sci-fi actioner, directed by Chris McKay (The LEGO Batman Movie), looks not unlike Edge of Tomorrow with callbacks to Independence Day (ID4). He holds his own outside of the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) and Jurassic World bubbles.

Will you be watching The Tomorrow War on Amazon Prime Video this 4th July weekend? Let me know in the comments below.

Thursday 1 July 2021

Darth Vader crashes classical concert

That moment when Darth Vader, flanked by Imperial Stormtroopers, crashes a classical concert and stays for a rousing rendition of veteran Star Wars composer John Williams' The Imperial March (Darth Vader's Theme) from Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back.

Clearly, the Dark Lord of the Sith was impressed by the Russian State Cinema Symphony Orchestra's performance, at the Moscow Conservatory, in 2015. So much so, he didn't Force choke the conductor when the original Death Star exploded on screen...