Friday, 21 June 2013

Xbox One Eighty: has Microsoft done enough?

Has this week's DRM policy reversal changed your mind about Xbox One? It happened much sooner than many of us thought!

Microsoft interactive president Don Mattrick said the company had "heard loud and clear" from its customers.

"You told us how much you loved the flexibility you have today with games delivered on disc," Mr Mattrick said in a statement posted on Xbox Wire.

"The ability to lend, share, and resell these games at your discretion is of incredible importance to you. Also important to you is the freedom to play offline, for any length of time, anywhere in the world."

The statement went on to backtrack fully on the controversial aspects of the company's DRM ambitions:

"An internet connection will not be required to play offline Xbox One games - after a one-time system set-up with a new Xbox One, you can play any disc based game without ever connecting online again. There is no 24-hour connection requirement and you can take your Xbox One anywhere you want and play your games, just like on Xbox 360.

"Trade-in, lend, resell, gift, and rent disc based games just like you do today - there will be no limitations to using and sharing games, it will work just as it does today on Xbox 360."

Monday, 17 June 2013

David Tennant wins Emmy for The Clone Wars

Star Wars: The Clone Wars maybe ending, but the popular animated series is going out with a flourish!

Last night the series won two Daytime Emmys.

Dave Filoni released a statement on Facebook about the show's wins:

"Everyone, as you know tonight Star Wars: The Clone Wars won an Emmy for Outstanding Special Class Animation and David Tennant won Friday for Outstanding Performer in an Animated Series for his work as Huyang.

These awards represent the hard work of everyone who has worked on The Clone Wars' 5 seasons. Whether you worked on Clone Wars in the Bay Area, Singapore, Taipei, or Tokyo we all did this together.

Star Wars fans, your support and dedication to The Clone Wars helped champion our cause year after year. This win is for you as well, thank you from everyone at Lucasfilm, now let's celebrate!!"

Tennant will be reprising his role as Doctor Who, in the 50th Anniversary special, this November.

Filoni is currently working on the next Star Wars animated series, Star Wars Rebels, launching late 2014.

Tuesday, 11 June 2013

EA announces Star Wars: Battlefront from DICE

A new Star Wars: Battlefront title has been announced for PS4 and Xbox One at E3!

The latest instalment in the popular franchise will be powered by EA's Frostbite 3 engine and a teaser trailer revealed an AT-AT lumbering through a blizzard as a stricken Snowspeeder crash lands on Hoth.

"As one of the world’s premier video game developers, DICE has the talent and expertise to deliver a Star Wars experience like no other, while pushing the boundaries of what is capable in a video game. The Star Wars: Battlefront series, which we know means so much to fans and gamers, is in good hands," a post on reads.

Colour me excited, but which platform to play it on?

Monday, 10 June 2013

JJ Abrams says shooting Star Wars in UK is insane!

During the LA-based Produced By Conference, JJ Abrams has revealed that shooting for the new Star Wars movie, which is filming in London, is set to begin in early 2014.

“That thing is so massive and so important to so many people," says Abrams. "I know from seeing the first film when I was 11 what that felt like. I think the key in moving forward with something like this is in honouring but not revering what came before."

“There's that deep feeling of infinite possibilities that I think was the ultimate thing I thought when I first saw Star Wars which I would - and probably will - give my left arm to try and come close to again.”

And with much of the shoot set to take place in England, Abrams will have to cope with a change in routine as well as the pressure of expectation.

“There was already a pre-arranged thing for them to be shooting in England which, really does make me insane,” confesses the director. “I've never shot a movie outside the US or out of L.A.”

“We are, most likely, if all goes ahead, going to be moving to London at the end of the year... There's a whole lot of stuff happening at home. It's not an easy thing.”

Star Wars: Episode VII is scheduled to arrive in cinemas in May 2015.

What do you think of Abrams' plans?

Friday, 31 May 2013

Continuum comment read out on SyFy!

During last night's high-octane episode of Continuum S2, on SyFy UK, I was surprised and delighted to hear my tweet read out on air during an ad break:

"... Continuum evokes fond memories of watching The X-Files..."

This typifies social media engagement at its best. Viewers can use the hashtag #Continuum during and after the show to continue the conversation with actors, producers and fans of the series.

For the uninitiated, Continuum is a Canadian science fiction series, which centres on the conflict between a group of rebels from the year 2077 who time travel to Vancouver, BC, in 2012, and a police officer who accidentally accompanies them.

On Twitter? Follow @johnhood.

Friday, 24 May 2013

The Return of Return of the Jedi

This weekend is the 30th anniversary of Return of the Jedi - marking the end of the original Star Wars trilogy - in the US!

It only seems a short while ago I was playing with action figures, vehicles and accessories, whilst listening to John Williams soundtrack album, prior to seeing the movie when it arrived in UK theatres in July (my dad's birthday was hijacked by teddy bears riding speeder bikes)...

To mark this momentous milestone, Entertainment Weekly approached filmmaker Kyle Newman (Fanboys). The result is The Return of Return of the Jedi: 30 Years and Counting, which shows elite geeks — among them Kevin Smith, Seth Green, Chris Hardwick, Jaime King, Topher Grace, Fall Out Boy, Eli Roth, and Jason Mewes — revisiting the movie in which tribal Teddy Ruxpins put down an Imperial invasion force with rocks, logs, and other Gilligan’s Island-esque props. Who saw that coming?

You can watch the video here.

It's only fitting I saw JJ Abrams' Star Trek Into Darkness, which reprises a famous scene from Jedi, yesterday. How meta.

Wednesday, 22 May 2013

Xbox One: rebooting entertainment!

It's no exaggeration to say Xbox has become my binge-viewing platform of choice! From Game of Thrones to Buffy the Vampire Slayer and House of Cards to Battlestar Galactica.

Yesterday Microsoft unveiled its third iteration of Xbox, further drawing upon the streaming revolution, and hopes hardcore gamers will come along for the, tumultuous, ride, too.

Xbox One!

Has the company's marketing division taken a page out of JJ Abrams' writer's guide and hit the reboot switch? They realise this is the third iteration, right?

The Xbox One name has been explained by Microsoft's Jeff Henshaw.

"Xbox One really embodies the concept that this is the first device, the combination of this very powerful console that brings all its eight cores - 8GB of RAM, super-fast memory, super-powerful SoC we built, super-powerful dedicated audio and video processing subsystems," Henshaw said.

"There's incredible power in this device, married with the next generation of Kinect for really enabling those subtle interactions between you and your entertainment."

He continued: "To us, One is really the embodiment that this becomes one device that addresses all the entertainment you want to enjoy on your TV, and brings it to you in a way that's so simple, that it can be the only input you have connected through your television.

"It is truly the one place to go for all this. So One ends up being a deeply meaningful thing to us here.

"It's almost a bar that we are striving to achieve, and I think we nailed it really well with the Xbox One."

When asked about whether or not the name would be confusing, especially considering the original Xbox, Henshaw said: "The original Xbox was just the 'Xbox'. It wasn't 'One'.

"There's no resemblance anymore between the two [consoles]. You can't confuse them in any way.

"So when people say 'Xbox One', it's going to be reflective of this new generation of experiences. I really don't think there's going to be any confusion."

Xbox One looks like an archaic VCR from the 1980s! Would it be churlish of me to suggest the Xbox 360 S form factor looks more appealing? Within this imposing-looking monolith lurks the following technological treats:

*8-core CPU
*8 GB system memory
*500 GB HDD, non-user-serviceable
*Blu-ray drive with native support for 3D and 4K
*802.11n wireless with Wi-Fi Direct
*HDMI in/out
*USB 3.0

As a home entertainment device, Xbox One sounds impressive coupled with Snap Mode multitasking (via Kinect) - gestures always look cooler in Hollywood movies, mostly. Naturally Microsoft has pulled out all the stops for the Xbox One. Microsoft studios is promising 15 exclusive titles and eight new franchises for the Xbox One. These include the likes of the just announced Quantum Break. The announced games left me cold for now.

It's worth repeating @delphatic's comment on Twitter that Microsoft has held Skype back for Xbox One! The company could have added its VoIP service to Xbox 360 at anytime.

There are rumours suggesting an Xbox 360 dashboard refresh this summer, paving the way to the next generation Xbox LIVE, and official support will continue post Xbox One launch.

Following in the wake of Netflix's critical success with House of Cards and Amazon Studios' move into original series production. Halo is to be turned into a live-action television series under the auspices of director Steven Spielberg.

Spielberg said of the upcoming project, “I’ve been playing games for decades… For me the Halo universe is an amazing opportunity to be at that intersection where technology and mythmaking meet to produce something really ground-breaking.” Given Spielberg's less than auspicious track record in television, I'm not expecting too much.

There's no backwards compatibility with Xbox 360 or original Xbox. This also applies to digital downloads. So, it's worth holding onto your current machine, which isn't an ideal solution if space and finances are scarce.

Pre-order Xbox One here.

Tuesday, 21 May 2013

Star Wars Rebels on Disney XD

In the Fall of 2014 Disney will be filling the void left by Star Wars: The Clone Wars with a new CGI animated series!

Star Wars Rebels.

A 1-hour pilot for Star Wars Rebels will premiere on the Disney Channel before moving to Disney XD.

Lucasfilm have said: "Star Wars Rebels takes place in a time where the Empire is securing its grip on the galaxy and hunting down the last of the Jedi Knights as a fledgling rebellion against the Empire is taking shape."

Dave Filoni (The Clone Wars) suggests the series' look and feel will derive inspiration from Ralph McQuarrie's original concept art for Star Wars.

“The entire team at Lucasfilm has provided extraordinary creativity and innovation over three decades, and we’re thrilled to be bringing the expansive and imaginative world of ‘Star Wars’ to Disney XD’s viewers,” said Gary Marsh, president and chief creative officer, Disney Channels Worldwide.

I'm going to miss The Clone Wars! However, Star Wars Rebels should satiate fans whilst we wait for Episode VII.

Monday, 20 May 2013

Jonathan Rhys Meyers tipped for role in Star Wars?

Only last week I was discussing the alleged return of Mark Hamill, Carrie Fisher and Harrison Ford to the Star Wars saga with @seethree! Lamenting this wasn't a decade ago...

According to Latino Review, Jonathan Rhys Meyers (Bend It Like Beckham and The Tudors) maybe in the running for a role in Episode VII! The actor previously appeared in JJ Abrams' M:i:III.

Directed by Abrams, Star Wars: Episode VII will begin production in the UK next year, with the film expected to arrive in cinemas in 2015. Disney will own the summer with Avengers 2.

Who would you like to see cast in Star Wars?

Wednesday, 1 May 2013

JJ Abrams wants John Williams back for Star Wars

During a press conference for Star Trek Into Darkness, JJ Abrams was asked about John Williams' involvement in Episode VII:

"Again, for Star Wars, it’s very early days, but I believe that, going forward, John Williams will be doing that film, because he was there long before I was."

Today just turned all kinds of awesome!