Monday 31 January 2022

Master Chief meets Cortana in Halo

Paramount+ has released a new trailer for its live-action adaptation of Halo, executive produced by Steven Spielberg (Jaws), and I'm here for it in the wake of The Mandalorian on Disney+.

Read the official synopsis:

"Dramatizing an epic 26th-century conflict between humanity and an alien threat known as the Covenant, Halo the series will weave deeply drawn personal stories with action, adventure and a richly imagined vision of the future."

The upcoming live-action series is set in a 'Halo Silver Timeline' and won't be part of a larger shared transmedia universe (see Star Trek). Master Chief is played by Pablo Schreiber and Jen Taylor reprises the role of Cortana. Jen Taylor is amazing as Cortana but the live-action avatar is creepily jarring. Is there time to fix it in post?

Halo the series starts streaming exclusively on Paramount+ on 24th March. There's no news when it will be available in the UK, but Paramount+ is launching in partnership with Sky soon.

Has the new Halo trailer got you excited? Let me know in the comments below.

Friday 28 January 2022

The toy Force is strong with Hasbro

Hasbro has renewed its license with Disney to produce Star Wars merchandise and added Lucasfilm stablemate Indiana Jones ahead of the untitled fifth film instalment in 2023.

"We're proud to deepen our close working relationship and collaborate with the Disney team to bring innovative and engaging play experiences to kids, fans, and families inspired by some of the world's most iconic entertainment brands," said Eric Nyman, Chief Consumer Officer, Hasbro, in a press release. "In addition to a slate of new collectibles, figures, role play gear, and games for Star Wars and Marvel, it's an honor to bring Indiana Jones back to Hasbro and help introduce the beloved franchise to a new generation of fans."

Kenner, which the Pawtucket-based company now owns, produced a toy line for Raiders of the Lost Ark but it never reached UK shores.

"Disney has long valued its relationship with Hasbro in developing fresh, imaginative products and toys that delight our fans of all ages," said Stephanie Young, President of Disney Consumer Products, Games and Publishing. "We're thrilled to continue collaborating with this iconic company—one that will help lift our consumer experiences across the Marvel, Star Wars and now Indiana Jones franchises to new heights for years to come."

Are you excited about Hasbro's new Indiana Jones toy line or do you prefer Star Wars and Marvel Legends? Let me know in the comments below.

Wednesday 26 January 2022

Lucasfilm Games announces Jedi: Fallen Order II

Lucasfilm Games has announced three new Star Wars titles in development from Electonic Arts and Respawn Entertainment.

These include a strategy game co-developed by Respawn and Bit Reactor, a first-person shooter (FPS) and a sequel to the critically-acclaimed Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order, which is available on Game Pass Ultimate.

“We are excited to continue working with the superbly talented teams at Respawn,” said Douglas Reilly, VP, Lucasfilm Games. “They have demonstrated excellence in telling epic Star Wars stories along with best-in-class gameplay across different genres and we are looking forward to bringing more amazing experiences to the galaxy far, far away.”

Respawn's Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order rejuvenated the franchise's storied history in video games in the wake of Star Wars Battlefront II's monetisation controversy.

“Building on the previous successes of our EA relationship, this new collaboration highlights the trust and mutual respect shared between the world-class teams at EA, Respawn, and Lucasfilm Games,” said Sean Shoptaw, SVP, Walt Disney Games. “Fostered by the expertise and passion within each team, we will create thrilling original games for diverse audiences across the Star Wars galaxy.”

Of all the latest Lucasfilm Games announcements, I'm most excited for Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order II. There's also a remake of Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic in development for PlayStation 5 (PS5) and LEGO Star Wars: The Skywalker Saga from TT Games this April.

Which upcoming Star Wars video games are you looking forward to? Let me know in the comments below.

Saturday 22 January 2022

Guinan returns in Star Trek: Picard

Paramount+ has released a new trailer for the second season of Star Trek: Picard and it marks the return of Star Trek: The Next Generation fan-favourite Guinan (Whoopi Goldberg).

I got misty-eyed when Jean-Luc Picard (Patrick Stewart) reunited with Guinan and then talked over a cup of Earl Grey tea. John de Lancie, another veteran of Star Trek: The Next Generation, is back as the omnipotent Q.

Read the official synopsis:

"Season two of Star Trek: Picard takes the legendary Jean-Luc Picard and his crew on a bold and exciting new journey: into the past. Picard must enlist friends both old and new to confront the perils of 21st century Earth in a desperate race against time to save the galaxy’s future – and face the ultimate trial from one of his greatest foes."

Whilst Paramount+ launches soon in the UK, as part of a multi-year deal with Sky, Star Trek: Picard will continue to be available internationally on Amazon Prime (affiliate link).

This mitigates a reprise of the backlash that greeted Star Trek: Discovery's fourth season when the spin-off series was unceremoniously pulled from Netflix days before the premiere. It's currently streaming for free on Pluto TV in the wake of complaints from fans. However, the Star Trek prequel series jumped the shark one too many times for my liking.

In related news. Star Trek: Strange New Worlds debuts on Paramount+ on 5th May! The day after Star Wars Day! Trolling much?

Star Trek: Picard premieres on Paramount+ on 3rd March.

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

Friday 21 January 2022

Listen to The Batman theme

This weekend I celebrate my birthday and am reminded of being gifted an iconic Corgi Batmobile in the mid-seventies. A friend shared an official link to Oscar-winning composer Michael Giacchino's (Spider-Man: No Way Home) theme for Matt Reeves' The Batman, and I had to share it.

Michael Giacchino successfully builds on the legacy of Danny Elfman (Batman), Shirley Walker (Batman: The Animated Series) and Hans Zimmer (The Dark Knight Trilogy). You can listen to the theme in lossless audio on Apple Music.

The Batman, starring Robert Pattinson as the titular dark detective, is exclusively in cinemas on 4th March 2022.

Are you looking forward to The Batman? What are your thoughts on the theme? Let me know in the comments below.

Thursday 20 January 2022

The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power

"In the land of Mordor where the shadows lie." Amazon Studios has announced the title of its billion-dollar The Lord of the Rings prequel series.

This September, fans (myself included) can venture forth into The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power exclusively on Amazon Prime (affiliate link).

“This is a title that we imagine could live on the spine of a book next to J.R.R. Tolkien’s other classics. The Rings of Power unites all the major stories of Middle-earth’s Second Age: the forging of the rings, the rise of the Dark Lord, the epic tale of Numenor, and the Last Alliance of Elves and Men,” series showrunners J.D. Payne and Patrick McKay said in a joint statement. “Until now, audiences have only seen onscreen the story of the One Ring — but before there was one, there were many … and we’re excited to share the epic story of them all.”

The latest live-action adaptation of J.R.R. Tolkien's fantasy epic was announced in 2017 and then seemingly lost, like the one ring, to the mists of time. All the while new competitors entered the streaming space including Apple TV+ and Disney+ and a pandemic engulfed the world.

With The Witcher's smash hit second season on Netflix and a Game of Thrones prequel series coming soon on HBO Max, it's an exciting time for us fantasy fans.

Are you excited to return to Middle-earth for the first time since Peter Jackson's The Hobbit trilogy? Let me know in the comments below.

Tuesday 18 January 2022

Embrace the chaos in Moon Knight

Marvel Studios dropped a trailer for Moon Knight during Monday night's NFL Super Wild Card matchup on ESPN and ABC.

Moon Knight, starring Oscar Isaac (Star Wars) as the titular cult superhero with more than a passing resemblance to DC Comics' Batman, looks like it's going to continue the excellence of Marvel Studios' WandaVision, Falcon and the Winter Soldier, Loki, What If...? and Hawkeye on Disney+.

“The series follows Steven Grant, a mild-mannered gift-shop employee, who becomes plagued with blackouts and memories of another life,” Marvel’s official synopsis says. “Steven discovers he has dissociative identity disorder and shares a body with mercenary Marc Spector. As Steven/Marc’s enemies converge upon them, they must navigate their complex identities while thrust into a deadly mystery among the powerful gods of Egypt.”

Moon Knight will begin streaming 30th March on Disney+.

Are you looking forward to Marvel Studios' Moon Knight on Disney+? What do you think about Oscar Isaac's British accent? Let me know in the comments below.

Monday 17 January 2022

Peacemaker is a douchey Captain America

It's Blue Monday, allegedly the most depressing day of the year. But here's some subversive cheer!

Peacemaker, a Suicide Squad spin-off series from director James Gunn (Guardians of the Galaxy) and starring John Cena (Bumblebee) as the titular antihero, is streaming exclusively on HBO Max.

James Gunn and John Cena break down what makes Peacemaker so special and how the HBO Max spin-off series expands his story in a new featurette.

New episodes of Peacemaker premiere every Thursday exclusively on HBO Max.

Are you watching Peacemaker on HBO Max? Is it fun? Let me know in the comments below.

Sunday 16 January 2022

Moon Knight trailer this Monday

A trailer for Marvel Studios' Moon Knight, starring Oscar Isaac (Star Wars) as the titular character, drops during Monday night's NFL Super Wild Card matchup on ESPN and ABC.

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

Saturday 15 January 2022

Batgirl first look on HBO Max

The Batman, starring Robert Pattinson (The Twilight Saga) as the titular dark detective, is exclusively in cinemas this March.

Batgirl gets her own spin-off origin movie exclusively on HBO Max later this year, and actress Leslie Grace (In the Heights) took to social media to share an official first look at the iconic costume.

Michael Keaton (Batman) is expected to reprise the role of Bruce Wayne/Batman.

Are you looking forward to the upcoming Batgirl movie on HBO Max? What are your thoughts on the costume? Let me know in the comments below.

Thursday 13 January 2022

Eternals streaming on Disney+

As Spider-Man: No Way Home continues to dominate the box office, Marvel Studios' Eternals is now available to stream at no extra cost on Disney+. This is just two months after it was released in cinemas.

Eternals, from Oscar-winning director Chloé Zhao (Nomadland), is arguably the most divisive Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) movie to date. However, it may yet find an audience on Disney+.

I'll be watching out of curiosity (I'd never heard of the Eternals before) as I wait for the home release of Spider-Man: No Way Home on Netflix.

Have you seen Eternals on Disney+? Let me know in the comments below.

Tuesday 11 January 2022

James Gunn talks Knight Rider

Knight Rider, starring David Hasselhoff as Michael Knight, premiered 40 years ago this year. With its iconic opening theme and talking car (voiced by William Daniels), Glen A. Larson's series soon established itself as unmissable television in 1982.

A generation of children (myself included) and adults dreamed of owning their own Knight Industries Three Thousand (KITT) car in an era where home computers were coming of age. Glen A. Larson's talking car also featured an Easter egg from his Battlestar Galactica series.

Incidentally, a decade ago Netflix launched in the UK, and Knight Rider was one of the first series I streamed along with classic Doctor Who.

The series was most recently rebooted in 2008, and Nick Smith reviewed it at the time. In the intervening years, technology popularised in the original series is now available to consumers from tech titans Apple and Tesla. I can check my app-enabled BMW on my iPhone, something I never imagined would be possible when I began watching Knight Rider all those years ago.

Director James Gunn (Guardians of the Galaxy) told SlashFilm he'd like to reboot Knight Rider:

"My friend [David Hasselhoff] and I have discussed doing a modern continuation of Knight Rider many times. The primary hurdle has been there aren’t enough hours in the day to do all the cool things I want to do!"

Would you like to see a reboot of Knight Rider in an era of app-enabled self-driving cars? Let me know in the comments below.

Sunday 9 January 2022

Groundhog Day of the Daleks

Eve of the Daleks is the first of three Doctor Who specials marking the end of Jodie Whittaker's tenure as the titular Time Lord in 2022.

Nick Smith, our resident US-based stellar scribe, returns from the Flux for some déjà vu of the Daleks.

Guest post by Nick Smith

To say I had a quiet New Year’s Eve would be an understatement. I visited family in Upstate New York, near the Canadian border. No party. No fireworks. No TV. They have no TV, people!

Thank goodness for smart devices and streaming services and all that newfangled spangly stuff, thanks to which I was able to watch the brand-new Doctor Who tale, Eve of the Daleks, on my iPhone.

Unlike previous New Year specials, the tie-in with the holiday seemed less forced and NYE elements were put to good use. Having worked many a New Year’s Eve, I sympathized with Sarah (Aisling Bea) who is stuck in her storage facility while everyone else (even her Mum!) is enjoying their annual bong-bongs.

Almost everyone. She’s joined by Nick (Adjani Salmon), who has a crush on her. We get to know them in a long pre-credits sequence that has me asking, ‘am I watching Doctor Who?’

My question is answered by the arrival of a Dalek, which ruins the chance of the story becoming a full-on romcom. Or does it? The Doctor (Jodie Whittaker), Yaz (Mandip Gill) and Dan (John Bishop) find themselves in a time loop with Sarah and Nick, trapped in a Day of the Daleks. The 2020s version of these metal menaces are violent, crafty, they can pop up anywhere… and they kill.

The first Skaro stories I watched were Genesis of the Daleks and its sequel, Destiny of the Daleks. Not only were these monsters important enough to have their names in the title, but they were also downright creepy. To young me, Tom Baker’s teasing didn’t stop them from being menacing and memorable. Their torture of Romana was as inhuman as their voice. They were a threat to be reckoned with.

Here they star in a story with lots of humorous moments and funny one-liners but they still manage to be threatening. Eve of the Daleks seems intended as a bit of a giggle after the more serious Flux. If this was part of a regular season, it would be the ‘comedy episode’ to break up heavier segments.

While the Daleks exterminate all over the place, Yaz’s character is developed when she admits her own feelings to the Doctor. This relationship is being built up slowly and I hope that writer and departing showrunner Chris Chibnall maintains this careful pace to create something more meaningful than the quick Doctor-and-Captain Jack Harkness snog as in 2005’s The Doctor Dances.

Maybe it was a tinge of loneliness in the cold wastes of the New York rust belt, or a drop of Dr. Pepper that went down the wrong way, but I must confess the end of the story with its firework-fueled explosion brought tears to my eyes.

The combination of wit, twists, dangerous situations, romance, likeable characters, kick-bump Daleks and the Doctor’s last stand all made this special… special.

Above all, though, the theme of hope and persistence overcoming death and darkness resonated with me on a cold January night and this was the closest I got to a New Year’s celebration.

Hope in the darkness. It sums up Doctor Who and it’s the reason why we shoot bright sparks into the cloying sky every New Year. That, and they’re both loads of fun.

Did you see Eve of the Daleks? What did you think? Let me know in the comments below.

Saturday 8 January 2022

Doctor Who eyes Star Wars tech

Post-production on Jodie Whittaker's final Doctor Who special (airing this autumn) continues in earnest with the series intending to utilise technology developed for Disney+'s live-action Star Wars spin-offs The Mandalorian and The Book of Boba Fett when Russell T Davies returns as showrunner from 2023.

Visual effects editor Emily Lawrence explained in Doctor Who Magazine (DWM) Issue 573:

“The 360 screens in The Mandalorian and how they used gaming software to create those amazing landscapes is something I’d love to see in Doctor Who,"

She goes on to describe the benefits of Industrial Light & Magic's (ILM) StageCraft:

“The actors walk in front of the screen and the environment moves with them. That means we wouldn’t need green screen anymore and that would really help our VFX vendors, because they wouldn’t have to spend hours rotoscoping out the green screen.”

With Bad Wolf, now part of Sony Pictures Television, co-producing Doctor Who from 2023 there's every chance. Will the next Doctor have a new Kamelion? This is the shape-shifting TARDIS companion you're looking for.

Friday 7 January 2022

Battlestar Galactica's shared universe future

Ronald D. Moore's (For All Mankind) acclaimed reboot of Glen A. Larson's Battlestar Galactica, one of the first sci-fi series I covered on this blog, ended 15 years ago and was followed by a short-lived prequel series, Caprica.

A movie was announced as far back as 2009 but didn't materialise despite the popularity of Star Trek and Star Wars at the box office, which has culminated in more spin-offs for those storied franchises on Paramount+ and Disney+ respectively.

Simon Kinberg (X-Men: Dark Phoenix) has teased a new Battlestar Galactica movie and streaming series from Sam Esmail (Mr Robot) for Peacock during an interview with Collider.

"We are in the process of going out to directors and the hope is to attach a director and start prepping the movie this year," Kinberg said. "It's a megillah, humongous film and the prep will be a very long prep period so I would imagine even if we attached a director today it would take six, nine months to prep this movie properly. So at the earliest, we'd be shooting at the end of this year. We'd probably be shooting at the beginning of next year. Time will tell who the director is and then you or someone else will tell who the director is."

Shared universes are currently Hollywood's bread and butter. Battlestar Galactica won't be an exception in the wake of the commercial success of the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU).

"In terms of the situation with Sam and the show, I can't say too much about it other than there is synergy between the two enterprises and constant communication between us," Kinberg said. "We've become close and been having a really good time together and there will be, for lack of a better phrase and it's an overused phrase, a shared universe."

Whenever the movie and Peacock series premiere, there'll be much for Battlestar Galactica fans (myself included) to discuss. In the meantime, I should watch the final season of the reboot and rewatch the original series.

Thursday 6 January 2022

Fraggle Rock: Back to the Rock on Apple TV+

As I've written previously, one of my most enduring childhood memories (as I underwent years of rehabilitation following a life-changing head injury) is of watching Jim Henson's Fraggle Rock at my late Canadian grandmother's house after school - where I watched The Krotons during the fabled The Five Faces of Doctor Who season of repeats.

She would always pour me a glass of orange juice and I'd have a choice of biscuit (usually choosing a Jammie Dodger years before Doctor Who made them cool again). So, I'm looking forward to seeing Fraggle Rock: Back to the Rock on Apple TV+.

Read the official synopsis:

"Jim Henson’s fun-loving, musical Fraggles are back! Join Gobo, Red, Wembley, Mokey, Boober, and new Fraggle friends on hilarious, epic adventures about the magic that happens when we celebrate and care for our interconnected world."

What are your childhood memories of watching Fraggle Rock? Let me know in the comments below.

Monday 3 January 2022

Boba Fett escapes the Sarlacc Pit

The Book of Boba Fett on Disney+ finally showed Star Wars fans (myself included) how the titular bounty hunter, played by Temuera Morrison (Star Wars: Attack of the Clones), escaped from the Sarlacc pit in Star Wars: Return of the Jedi.

Some hot takes on social media suggested he should have stayed in there! Oof!

Whereas The Mandalorian was an unknown quantity and the first live-action Star Wars spin-off series on Disney+. Boba Fett has been a fan-favourite since his appearance in Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back.

Yes, the enigmatic and morally-ambiguous mercernary was first introduced in an animated segment during the infamous Star Wars Holiday Special. However, most fans (outside the US) wouldn't have known about him until Kenner's mail-away action figure promotion.

The bounty hunter's apparent demise in Star Wars: Return of the Jedi was less than satisfactory and used mostly for comedic effect. A school friend and I were left non-plussed and, wrongly, assumed he'd escape moments after the Rebels had destroyed Jabba's Sail Barge as creator George Lucas rushed to tie-up loose ends leftover from the best Star Wars sequel and sell more toys.

Well, in flashback, as the bounty hunter healed from his injuries in a bacta tank, Boba Fett managed to singlehandedly escape using his flamethrower before having his Mandalorian armour stolen by Jawas, Tatooine's omnipresent scavengers, after he passes out.

Personally, this made sense as he was a brutal and inventive bounty hunter.

Later Boba Fett's captured by marauding Tusken Raiders and embarks on adventures lifted from the pages of classic Star Wars comics with knowing nods to the franchise's storied history and stop motion pioneer Ray Harryhausen.

Overall, I really enjoyed the first fleeting episode. It pulls from Star Wars Legends' Tales of the Bounty Hunters. The episodic format of the Disney+ series lends itself to richer storytelling, and I'm glad the planned Boba Fett movie spin-off was shelved after Solo: A Star Wars Story.

UK tabloid newspaper The Sun alleges Harrison Ford took a break from filming Lucasfilm stablemate Indiana Jones 5 to record a scene for The Book of Boba Fett. Make of that what you will. A de-aged Mark Hamill appeared in the second season finale of The Mandalorian. So, anything is possible.

George Lucas asked Joe Johnston (The Rocketeer) to create a cool character for Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back, which he did and then some. I'm sure Robert Rodriguez, Jon Favreau and Dave Filoni won't let Boba Fett or his fans down. A flashback featuring Darth Vader would be a welcome early birthday present.

New episodes of The Book of Boba Fett premiere every Wednesday exclusively on Disney+.

What did you think of The Book of Boba Fett? Let me know in the comments below.

Saturday 1 January 2022

New Year's Déjà Vu of the Daleks

Happy New Year! Doctor Who is back for an uplifting and quirky New Year's Day special, Eve of the Daleks.

50 years ago, Day of the Daleks began with Jon Pertwee as the titular Time Lord. The story is notable for the return of the Daleks following a five-year hiatus after Patrick Troughton's The Evil of the Daleks - Terry Nation wanted to launch a Dalek spin-off series in America. So, I'll be rewatching Day of the Daleks on BritBox as part of my birthday month celebrations.

Read the official synopsis for Eve of the Daleks:

"New Year’s Eve. Sarah is working - again. Nick is her only customer - again. Same old same old. Except this year, their countdown to midnight will be the strangest and deadliest they’ve ever known. Why is an Executioner Dalek targeting these two people, in this place, on this night? Why are they having to live through the same moments again? Can the Doctor, Yaz and Dan save them and survive into the New Year?"

Eve of the Daleks, the first of three specials in 2022 marking the end of Jodie Whittaker's era, is on BBC One, BBC iPlayer and BBC America. Stay tuned for Nick Smith's review soon.