Tuesday 28 March 2023

Star Wars movies rumoured at Celebration

Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker was the last big screen instalment in the franchise before the pandemic. Rumours suggest there will be an announcement regarding at least three new movies at Star Wars Celebration Europe.

One of the movies is expected to follow either Rey (Daisy Ridley), Finn (John Boyega) or Poe Dameron (Oscar Isaac). Could this be directed by Taika Waititi (Thor: Love and Thunder) or Shawn Levy (Deadpool)?

There's even a suggestion that a Star Wars movie will drop exclusively on Disney+ during the 4-day event in London. Perhaps the first instalment in the Thrawn trilogy?

Whatever is announced, I'm looking forward to it.

As I've written previously, Star Wars Celebration Europe is fantastic fun (with a bit of judicious planning and budgeting) and a unique opportunity to meet fellow fans and forge new friendships through all things Star Wars. For example, I'm still in contact with fans I met from Australia in 2016.

We'll be covering the official Lucasfilm fan event that also celebrates the 40th anniversary of Star Wars: Return of the Jedi. So stay tuned for further updates.

What are your thoughts regarding a new Star Wars movie? What would you like to see? Let me know in the comments below.

Monday 27 March 2023

Funko mauls Mondo

In the wake of Funko throwing away $30 to £36 million worth of Pops into a landfill (shades of the ill-fated Atari E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial video game), the collectibles company has laid off high-end subsidiary Mondo’s co-founders and shuttered its fan-favourite movie poster division.

This is less than a year after Funko bought Mondo.

“Mondo’s devoted fanbase and high-end pop culture collectibles make it the perfect complement to Funko’s current portfolio of brands,” Funko’s Andrew Perlmutter, formerly CEO and now president, said when the deal was announced. “By leveraging our international distribution and licensing network, we feel well positioned to expedite the growth of the Mondo brand.”

I proudly wear t-shirts featuring Mondo's fantastic Star Wars creations and, had I been attending, would have worn them to Star Wars Celebration Europe 2023.

Mondo's toy division remains unaffected by Funko's cuts and continues to produce limited edition Masters of the Universe products licensed by Mattel.

The cost of living crisis has impacted industries across the globe resulting in massive redundancies to improve profits. All affected employees have my empathy as I was laid off at the start of the millennium, which pivoted me into digital content creation. Others may not have that luxury.

During the pandemic, many kidults (myself included) started collecting again. From action figures to LEGO, there's been a resurgence. However, with rising costs, folks are cutting back or stopping entirely.

I've stopped collecting most things and only occasionally buy sought-after G.I. Joe Classified Series, Vintage Star Wars and Transformers brand exclusives from Hasbro Pulse (as a non-premium member).

What are your thoughts on Funko's Mondo moves? The state of collecting? Let me know in the comments below.

Saturday 25 March 2023

John Boyega wants a cameo in Doctor Who

John Boyega, best known for his role as Finn in Disney's Star Wars sequel trilogy, wants a cameo in Doctor Who opposite Ncuti Gatwa (Sex Education) in the upcoming series.

Discussing diversity in film and television, Boyega told the Radio Times:

"It is opening up. You get inspired by things like Ncuti Gatwa playing the Doctor in Doctor Who – that is special to me. The glass ceiling can’t limit us. It’s exciting to see what comes out of this new stage of filmmaking and entertainment."

When asked about appearing in Doctor Who.

"I would love that!" the Star Wars actor said. "But get me in an episode where I’m one of the many Doctors in many timelines so I can just cameo it."

Boyega co-starred with former Doctor Who Jodie Whittaker in Attack the Block. With returning series showrunner Russell T Davies (It's A Sin) and the involvement of Disney+ in the forthcoming series of Doctor Who, I'm sure a cameo is possible.

Doctor Who returns for three 60th anniversary specials, starring David Tennant (Doctor Who) and Catherine Tate (Donna Noble), this November on BBC One, BBC iPlayer and Disney+.

Would you like to see John Boyega in Doctor Who? Let me know in the comments below.

Friday 24 March 2023

The Might of the Daleks

The Might of the Daleks could be one of the best Doctor Who fan films I've ever seen!

YouTuber Josh Snares and a talented team perfectly distil the clawing claustrophobia of the First Doctor's era, most notably Mission to the Unknown, for the 60th anniversary.

Mission to the Unknown is a classic Doctor Who episode unique for not featuring William Hartnell as the titular time traveller, brilliantly remade by students at the University of Central Lancaster with Nicholas Briggs performing the voices of the Daleks. This was a passion project of Professor Andrew Ireland, a friend and fellow Bournemouth University alumni.

I'm sure Hartnell would be proud.

Read the synopsis for The Might of the Daleks:

"On the final days of Continent A, there are no heroes. Only the might of the Daleks."

Includes depiction of suicide. Viewer discretion is advised.

What did you think of The Might of the Daleks? Let me know in the comments below.

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

Thursday 23 March 2023

The Mandalorian channels Game of Thrones

The latest episode of The Mandalorian on Disney+ channels Game of Thrones, and features a surprising redemption arc.

Following last week's Coruscant capers in The Convert, which potentially ties into Emperor Palpatine's (Ian McDiarmid) return in Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker, The Foundling briskly explores Grogu's past as Din Djarin (Pedro Pascal) and Bo-Katan Kryze (Katee Sackhoff) go in pursuit of dragons in an adventure worthy of Classic Star Wars comics strips.

Grogu experiences a flashback to Order 66 from Star Wars: Revenge of the Sith, and his surprising saviour is finally revealed. No, it's not Obi-Wan Kenobi (Ewan McGregor) saving Baby Yoda from 501st Legion clone troopers, led by Darth Vader (Hayden Christensen), as they storm the Jedi Temple on Coruscant, it's Ahmed Best!

Best is perhaps infamously known for playing Jar Jar Binks in George Lucas' prequel trilogy. Here, Best is playing Jedi Master Kelleran Beq and it's a joy to behold as he valiantly battles clone troopers and escapes from Coruscant with Grogu.

I hope we see Beq again.

The Mandalorian is tantamount to Jon Favreau (Iron Man) and Dave Filoni (Star Wars Rebels) unleashing the contents of a mythological toy box with the power of Epic Games' Unreal Engine. It’s film school for geeks with knowing nods to spaghetti western and tech noir genres.

More galactic joy ride than a deep character-driven rumination on love and loss like Pascal’s other hit television series, The Last of Us. And I’m fine with that.

In related news on Disney+. Star Wars: The Bad Batch season two follows Omega and Clone Force 99 as Filoni's animated spin-off series continues to explore events between Star Wars: Revenge of the Sith and Star Wars: A New Hope with the maturity of Star Wars: The Clone Wars and Star Wars Rebels.

Are you watching The Mandalorian on Disney+? Let me know in the comments below.

Monday 20 March 2023

Doctor Who: Doom's Day

Doctor Who continues to embrace transmedia storytelling with Doom's Day for its 60th anniversary celebration.

Series showrunner Russell T Davies says: “DOOM’S DAY is a huge new adventure for the whole Doctor Who universe - starring the brilliant and hilarious Sooz Kempner as an intergalactic assassin. Her adventures will span comics, audio, a novel, video games stories and more, expanding the world of Doctor Who into brand new territories. Beware the Doom’s Day, it’s coming for us all.”

Stand-up comedian, comedy sketch artist and actor Sooz Kempner will be the face and voice of Doom, and a number of fan-favourite characters will feature along her journey.

Sooz Kempner says: “To be part of the Doctor Who universe, a British institution up there with cups of tea and James Bond, is surreal and amazing! I love everything about Doom and can’t believe I get to travel across time and space with her.”

Online reactions from fans have been mixed following the announcement. This was compounded by a teaser suggesting the return of Matt Smith as the Doctor for Big Finish.

Personally, I never got on board with Time Lord Victorious during the pandemic. However, I will follow developments with interest.

The only transmedia event that fully captured my imagination was Star Wars: Shadows of the Empire in 1996. Fond memories of listening to the soundtrack CD as I wrote my final year dissertation and eagerly awaited the release of the Nintendo 64 (N64).

Doctor Who returns for three 60th anniversary specials, starring David Tennant (Doctor Who) and Catherine Tate (Donna Noble), this November on BBC One, BBC iPlayer and Disney+.

Are you looking forward to Doom's Day? Let me know in the comments below.

Wednesday 15 March 2023

Doctor Who spin-offs teased with Disney+

The Whoniverse is about to expand with rumours of at least two new Doctor Who spin-offs as part of a creative partnership with Disney+.

One of which is a UNIT spin-off said to star Jemma Redgrave reprising her role as Kate Stewart (daughter of Brigadier Lethbridge-Stewart).

A monster spin-off is also said to be in the works featuring the Daleks.

Returning series showrunner Russell T Davies (It's A Sin) has already overseen successful spin-offs Torchwood and The Sarah Jane Adventures (available on BBC iPlayer) during his previous tenure.

Disney+ is the exclusive home of Doctor Who outside the UK and Ireland. Addressing concerns from some fans regarding the involvement of Disney with the BBC's long-running sci-fi series.

"I know people are, naturally, worried about American producers having notes on things," Davies wrote in an issue of Doctor Who Magazine (DWM) in January.

"Well, don’t be. They’re giving excellent notes."

He added: "And I’m here to tell you, you haven’t watched a drama on British television in 20 years that hasn’t had American notes on it. Everything is a co-production… it’s really, completely normal."

The budget for Ncuti Gatwa's upcoming series in 2024 is reportedly $10 million per episode. That's some serious cash for a shiny new TARDIS at Bad Wolf Studios.

Doctor Who returns for three 60th anniversary specials, starring David Tennant (Doctor Who) and Catherine Tate (Donna Noble), this November on BBC One, BBC iPlayer and Disney+.

Are you looking forward to new Doctor Who spin-offs? Let me know in the comments below.

Tuesday 14 March 2023

Oscar win for The Boy, the Mole, the Fox and the Horse

The Boy, the Mole, the Fox and the Horse is a life-affirming midwinter tale of a found family on BBC iPlayer and Apple TV+ from producer JJ Abrams (Star Wars)! On Sunday, it won an Oscar for best animated short film.

“We are so proud of Charlie and the brilliant team who brought The Boy, the Mole, the Fox and the Horse to the screen and we sincerely thank the Academy for tonight’s recognition,” said Zack Van Amburg, Apple’s head of Worldwide Video. “This powerful story has deeply affected audiences around the world and has shown that no matter what age you are or where you live, it’s never too late to spread more compassion, empathy, and kindness in our daily lives. Congratulations to everyone involved, including our teams across the globe. We are all celebrating with you tonight.”

Last Christmas, The Boy, the Mole, the Fox and the Horse afforded me a moment of reflection, remembering family and friends long gone. And I was reminded of the winter that followed my life-changing head injury 46 years ago, it had snowed and a neighbourhood girl helped me build a snowman in our back garden. It’s a cherished childhood memory during a traumatic time of upheaval and uncertainty.

“The Boy, the Mole, the Fox and the Horse shines a light on the magic of discovering connection in unexpected places, and we are honored that the Academy has awarded this beautifully moving film tonight,” said Jamie Erlicht, Apple’s head of Worldwide Video. “Bringing Charlie’s visually stunning world to such vibrant animated life, this short reinforces the strength that can be found in our common humanity and we toast the entire creative team on this uplifting cinematic achievement.”

Have you watched The Boy, the Mole, the Fox and the Horse? What did you think? Let me know in the comments below.

Friday 10 March 2023

LEGO celebrates Mario Day

It's Mar10 Day AKA Mario Day and LEGO is celebrating in style with exclusive VIP offers and rewards all week.

Get your overalls and fake moustaches ready, because LEGO and Nintendo have teamed up again for something big for Mario Day! Speculation suggests Donkey Kong and The Super Mario Bros. Movie building sets.

LEGO's Super Mario building sets have proved popular with fans (myself included). I'd love to see The Legend of Zelda sets in the future. Especially with The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom releasing on Nintendo Switch this May.

Visit LEGO AU, CA, UK and US (affiliate links).

Are you a fan of LEGO Super Mario building sets? What are you hoping to see announced? How are you celebrating Mario Day? Let me know in the comments below

Wednesday 8 March 2023

Fede Álvarez's Alien begins filming

Whilst we wait for further details regarding the Alien live-action spin-off series from Noah Hawley (Fargo) coming to FX on Hulu and Star on Disney+, the next Alien movie begins filming this month in Budapest.

Here's a brief synopsis released by 20th Century Studios:

"A group of young people on a distant world, who find themselves in a confrontation with the most terrifying life form in the universe."

Fede Álvarez (Don't Breathe) is directing the Hulu production with Sir Ridley Scott (Alien) as executive producer. The movie stars Cailee Spaeny, Isabela Merced, David Jonsson, Archie Renaux, Spike Fearn and Aileen Wu. The working title is purportedly Alien: Romulus.

Hopefully, Álvarez's straight-to-streaming movie will revitalise the chest-bursting franchise as Dan Trachtenberg's Prey did for studio stablemate Predator.

What would you like to see in a new Alien movie? Let me know in the comments below.

Monday 6 March 2023

One LEGO set to rule them all

After a long hiatus, LEGO The Lord of the Rings returns for the 20th anniversary of The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King.

Explore a key location of Middle-earth with LEGO The Lord of the Rings: Rivendell.

Talking about the set, LEGO Design Master, Mike Psaiki said, “We know many of our fans have been anticipating a set like this for a long-time – but a great LEGO The Lord of the Rings set is never late, it arrives precisely when it means to! It was important to us that we created something really special in this recreation of Rivendell. We aimed to add as much detail as possible and create an engaging experience throughout the build to delight fans recreating scenes or proudly displaying Elrond’s home. We are really pleased with the final design and how we have brought Rivendell to life in brick form.”

Rivendell’s brief appearance in The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring, underscored by composer Howard Shore’s majestic soundtrack, is one of my favourites from Sir Peter Jackson’s acclaimed trilogy. A refuge from darkness, beautiful and rich in history.

LEGO The Lord of the Rings: Rivendell is available with VIP early access exclusively from LEGO AU, CA, UK and US (affiliate links).

Will you be adding it to your collection? Which The Lord of the Rings building sets would you like to see added in the future? Let me know in the comments below.

Sunday 5 March 2023

LEGO Executor Super Star Destroyer

LEGO Star Wars micro-scale builds are ideal for mindful moments. And fan-favourite Executor Super Star Destroyer is going to be an excellent addition to any desk or bookshelf display on Star Wars Day!

Darth Vader's flagship Super Star Destroyer first appeared in Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back. This new LEGO Star Wars building set commemorates the 40th anniversary of Star Wars: Return of the Jedi and is much more affordable and occupies far less space than the UCS Super Star Destroyer.

LEGO Star Wars Executor Super Star Destroyer is available from LEGO AU, CA, UK and US (affiliate links).

Using VIP Points, I'll be ordering LEGO Star Wars Executor Super Star Destroyer on May the 4th. Will you be adding it to your collection? Let me know in the comments below.

Friday 3 March 2023

Stranger Things in London's West End

Stranger Things is coming to London's West End later this year.

"We are beyond excited about 'Stranger Things: The First Shadow,'" the Duffer Brothers said in a press release. "Collaborating with the brilliant Stephen Daldry has been nothing short of inspiring, and Kate Trefry has written a play that is at turns surprising, scary, and heartfelt. You will meet endearing new characters, as well as very familiar ones, on a journey into the past that sets the groundwork for the future of 'Stranger Things.' We're dying to tell you more about the story but won't — it's more fun to discover it for yourself. Can't wait to see you nerds in London!"

Stranger Things: The First Shadow is based on an original story by the Duffer Brothers, Jack Thorne and Kate Trefry.

Read the official synopsis for Stranger Things: The First Shadow:

"Hawkins, 1959: a regular town with regular worries. Young Jim Hopper’s car won’t start, Bob Newby’s sister won’t take his radio show seriously and Joyce Maldonado just wants to graduate and get the hell out of town. When new student Henry Creel arrives, his family finds that a fresh start isn’t so easy… and the shadows of the past have a very long reach."

Coincidentally, HBO adapted The Last of Us: Left Behind, which was set in an abandoned shopping mall and evoked the nostalgic feeling that Stranger Things would become synonymous with in the summer of 2016.

Greg Lombardo, VP Live Experiences for Netflix said, “Stranger Things has captured the imagination of fans around the world and we are incredibly thrilled to expand this exciting universe with Netflix’s first live stage production. With the creative talents of Matt and Ross Duffer combined with Sonia Friedman and Stephen Daldry, theatregoers will be swept up in a truly epic event worthy of Stranger Things.”

Are you looking forward to Stranger Things: The First Shadow? Let me know in the comments below.

Wednesday 1 March 2023

Mando Mania!

The clan of two, Mando and Grogu (he'll always be Baby Yoda to me), are back for the third season of The Mandalorian exclusively on Disney+.

In a network first, today's premiere episode will be shown on Disney+, ABC, Freeform and FX. Coincidentally, my annual subscription to Disney+ renews this month and there's no price increase. That's a win during the cost of living crisis. For the record, I've cancelled subscriptions to most streaming services.

Series showrunner Jon Favreau (Iron Man) recently confirmed to BFM TV that he's already written the fourth season, which ties into other Star Wars spin-off series including Ahsoka from Dave Filoni (Star Wars: The Clone Wars).

“Season 4, yeah I’ve written it already,” Favreau said. "We have to know where we’re going to tell a fully formed story. We had mapped it out, Dave [Filoni] and I, and slowly you start to write each episode. I was writing it during post-production. All of it has to feel like a continuation and one full story.”

Rosario Dawson will reprise the live-action role of Ahsoka Tano from The Mandalorian and The Book of Boba Fett on Disney+.

“[Dave’s] doing ‘Ahsoka,’ which I’m producing with him. He’s the writer and showrunner on that. To understand what’s happening on other shows….‘Skeleton Crew’ all take place within the same ‘Star Wars’ time period. There’s a lot more things that we’ve got to keep in mind and also stuff that we’ve built up to from previous seasons of ‘The Mandalorian’ as well.”

Favreau spoke to Vanity Fair about ILM's StageCraft in the wake of a growing backlash against the evolving technology when used poorly.

“The [technology] is going to get better and better and better… ‘Star Wars’ lends itself because of hard surfaces – rocks, metal, droids. It makes it easier to make it look real faster. Organic stuff is harder. The exterior stuff with sunlight is the one thing you really can’t do well here. So we still have outdoor sets that we go to with traditional blue screen… What we’ve learned is when the light hits the walls, it reflects. The screen reflects.”

As an aside for fellow Doctor Who fans. The Volume, an LED-based virtual set technology, is allegedly utilised by Bad Wolf in the upcoming Doctor Who series starring Ncuti Gatwa as the titular time traveller. The TARDIS interior springs to mind.

Season three of The Mandalorian sees Din Djarin (Pedro Pascal) returning to Mandalore, devastated by the Empire, in a potential conflict and civil war with Bo-Katan Kryze (Katee Sackhoff) over who wields the Darksaber and is the legitimate leader of all the clans.

Djarin had won the Darksaber from Moff Gideon (Giancarlo Esposito) in battle and offered it freely to Kryze at the end of the second season. However, Kryze rejected a gifted Darksaber as she knew this would negate her claim to the throne. It has to be earned.

As with previous seasons of The Mandalorian, The Book of Boba Fett and the Obi-Wan Kenobi series on Disney+, exciting new Star Wars collectables will be announced every Tuesday as part of Mando Mania.

Are you excited about the third season of The Mandalorian? And what collectables would you like to see announced from Funko, Hasbro and more? Let me know in the comments below.