Wednesday, 30 June 2021

The Good, The Bart, and The Loki

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

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

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

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

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

Tuesday, 29 June 2021

Apple TV+'s ambitious Foundation

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

Here's the official Foundation synopsis:

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

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

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

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

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

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

Monday, 28 June 2021

It's a bug hunt in Aliens: Fireteam Elite

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

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

About Aliens: Fireteam Elite:

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

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

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

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

Sunday, 27 June 2021

Dune pushed back by Bond

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

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

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

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

Saturday, 26 June 2021

Star Wars: The Essential Legends Collection

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Friday, 25 June 2021

Star Wars: The Bad Batch mid-season peek

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

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

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

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

Thursday, 24 June 2021

MasterClass with filmmaker James Cameron

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Wednesday, 23 June 2021

Star Wars: Visions at Anime Expo Lite

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

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

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

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

Here's the official series synopsis:

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

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

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

Monday, 21 June 2021

Alien to infest Hulu and Star on Disney+

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

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

Guest post by Nick Smith

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sunday, 20 June 2021

LEGO Star Wars and more at LEGO CON

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

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

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