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Saturday, 2 January 2016

Best of 2015 Awards: Top 10 Best Films (Part 1)

Image Source: Wikipedia
Our round-up of 2015's ten finest cinematic hours begins with a comprehensive look at the motion pictures which made enough of a mark to warrant a place on the second half of our shortlist...

While scanning back over the plethora of noteworthy motion pictures which made their names heard (or not, as the case may tragically have been in some instances) in cinemas last year in order to seek out the releases worthy of a place on our Top 10 Best Films shortlist, one immediate question sprang to mind for this writer – where to start? In contrast to years such as 2014 where critics arguably had to search much more rigorously for works of cinema which wholeheartedly deserved applause, the past twelve months brought with them heaps upon heaps of accomplished big-screen narratives that are all but guaranteed to be revisited by cinematic devotees and mainstream audiences alike in the year, making the proposition of ascertaining and then ranking the ten most impactful additions to the history of the film industry that much more daunting overall, as our readers can surely imagine.

Nevertheless, after giving the matter at hand due consideration over the course of the last few days of 2015, we’re glad to say that we’ve finally reached a unanimous decision (through truth be told, given that the On-Screen team has only ever comprised of a single writer and will continue to do so for the foreseeable future short of a colossal editorial overhaul taking place at some point)…and sadly, none of you have made it through to Boot Camp this time around. What’s that? We’ve got our wires crossed and have somehow managed to convince ourselves that we’ve been misfortunate enough to acquire a place on The X Factor’s judging panel? In that case, many thanks for the reality-check, dear reader – it’s moments like these that remind us why we keep you guys around.

Let’s follow Soul II Soul’s example, then, and move “back to life, back to reality”, taking a whirlwind tour back through the jam-packed year that was 2015 over the course of two articles so as to reveal which ten blockbusters left the most notable impression(s) on our easily-distracted minds (in hindsight, anyway). Read on today and tomorrow to discover our personal cinematic highlights of the past twelve months in descending order (plus to catch the theatrical trailers for each of the films listed in the event that their names and our précises don't ring an immediate bell), then be sure to leave your own rankings as well as any comments about this particular shortlist on the usual social networking domains:

10. LEGEND (4*) – Tom Hardy’s offered up a rather astounding number of captivating turns for his ever-burgeoning fan-base to dissect in recent years, but the Inception star’s work in the role of not one but both of the infamous Kray twins who made life for London’s diligent policemen a living hell back in the Swinging Sixties might well mark his piece de resistance, and that’s saying a lot at this point. Couple his sensational work as the emotionally detached Reggie and the psychologically unstable (at best) Ronnie with a surprisingly nuanced performance from A Series of Unfortunate Events’ Emily Browning, understated yet undeniably accomplished direction from Brian Helgeland and a largely satisfying screenplay which still manages to greatly compel despite its tonal missteps from the realms of full-blown crime thriller to occasionally cringe-worthy romantic drama, and the result’s a fascinating throw-back to one of the most intriguing periods in the history of the criminal world, one which sports a remarkable amount of innovation given its inhabiting of a genre that of late has so often seemed lacking in this regard.

9. INTO THE WOODS (4*) – If it wasn’t already obvious based on the numerous instances where we’ve awarded entries in the genre spots on our end-of-year awards lists, big-screen musicals tend to hold something of a coveted place in yours truly’s heart, a trend which only continued this time last year with the release of the structurally flawed yet emotionally breath-taking Into the Woods. From the screenplay’s cunning subversions of some of society’s most beloved childhood tales to its seamless integration of a variety of tonally diverse musical numbers (which run the full gamut of emotions, sure to induce just as many laughs from open-minded viewers as they will tears), from Disney’s immensely beneficial decision of allowing their latest live-action narrative to wander into waters more morally ambiguous than anything we’ve seen before to the hugely commendable levels of conviction with which James Corden, Anna Kendrick, Emily Blunt, Meryl Streep and the bevy of talented new young actors portray their characters despite their respective elevated personalities, there’s no shortage of merits to be found in this oft-underappreciated motion picture, even if its underwhelming third act had a slight hand in preventing its ascension into the upper echelons of our shortlist.

8. STAR WARS: THE FORCE AWAKENS (4*) – “A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away”…well, you know the drill. No, seriously – in this case, unless you somehow have managed to go your entire life (so far) without ever laying eyes upon Star Wars: Episode IV – A New Hope, then expect the multi-million dollar science-fiction franchise’s latest instalment to evoke a serious sense of déjà vu as it recaps the narrative tropes of its 1977 predecessor like there’s no tomorrow by transporting us from a barren desert planet to a galaxy-conquering star of death (see what we did there?), all while depicting a brilliantly old-school quest to convey a droid carrying vital battle plans into the hands of the oh-so-familiar Resistance. It’s as a result of this lack of structural inspiration that The Force Awakens finds itself only featuring in the early stages of our Top 10 Best Films count-down, but even so, J.J. Abrams’ much-needed instilling of the charming humour, grounded action set-pieces and awe-inspiring intergalactic wonder of which the prequel trilogy was in such desperate need, Daisy Ridley, John Boyega, Oscar Isaac and Adam Driver’s frankly stunning debuts as Rey, Finn, Poe and Kylo Ren respectively (not to mention Harrison Ford’s show-stealing return to the role of a certain wise-cracking nerf-herder) and the manner in which Episode VII’s script deepens its franchise’s mythology by merely laying strong foundations for the series to build upon in future instalments while simultaneously paying fitting homage to episodes gone by all ensure that the piece as a whole makes for captivating viewing. Star Wars is back, and whereas the words “for better or for worse” always needed to accompany those in the case of Episodes I-III’s launches, there’s no denying that as of 2016, the once Lucas-owned series couldn’t be on stronger form if it tried. Next up: Rogue One. Punch it to December, Chewie! Well, it was worth a try. Moving on…

7. ANT-MAN (4*) – Who could have guessed back on New Year’s Day, 2015 that perhaps the least-anticipated addition to the Marvel Cinematic Universe’s ensemble of big-screen adventures would turn out to be one of the series’ finest outings to date? Not us, that’s for sure, as evidenced by its complete absence from our Top 10 Most Anticipated Films of 2015 shortlist last December. All the same, whilst Paul Rudd might not exactly have knocked the metaphorical ball out of the park with his solo cinematic ventures in recent years, what with the inspired manner in which it put Rudd’s comedic talents to great use in the role of one of the franchise’s most light-hearted but charismatic protagonists, Michael Douglas and Evangeline Lily’s equally mesmerising – and better yet, incredibly dramatically layered (especially in comparison to virtually all of the one-note characters placed at our feet in the rather dreadfully mediocre Avengers: Age of Ultron back in April) – turns as the Pym clan, Peyton Reed’s visually awe-inspiring direction of Scott Lang’s literal and figurative transformation from a despondent criminal to a miniscule defender of justice hell-bent on protecting his daughter from the forces of evil and the almost seamless manner in which the MCU’s twelfth chapter integrates itself into the series’ vast lore whilst also succeeding where Ultron failed in standing on its own two feet in terms of isolated narrative merits, it’s safe to say that far from coming off another missed opportunity for both the thespian himself and Marvel Studios as a whole, Ant-Man came to represent a monumental step in the right direction for a franchise which was previously beginning to show signs of stagnation.

6. TED 2 (4*) – Considering that Seth McFarlane’s original foray into the gut-wrenchingly hilarious world of Ted only managed to earn itself a 3* score here at On-Screen: Entertainment Enhanced in 2012, it’s testament to the Family Guy show-runner’s seemingly endless abilities as both a comic and accomplished screenwriter (much as he appeared to try to convince us otherwise with the woeful A Million Ways to Die in the West in the Summer of 2014) that he managed to turn the follow-up into one of the most inventive, well-rounded comedies we’ve had the good fortune of laying our eyes upon in quite some time. Not only does McFarlane afford the newcomers to his cast ensemble such as Amanda Seyfried (who, against all of the odds, all but steals the show here thanks to a comedically assured yet still impressively sympathetic performance the likes of which we’ve not seen from her since 2012’s Les Miserables) with just as many inspired gags as himself and Wahlberg, but by throwing in a wealth of genuinely original takes on well-worn set-pieces such as convention brawls (you’ll never see ComicCon the same way again), courtroom battles, near-death hospital experiences (fans of Ted’s cruel but hilarious attempt to fool John into thinking his resurrection had gone awry last time around will simply adore the sequel’s penultimate skit) and so many more, the man behind such great projects as American Dad and the Blue Harvest trilogy not only demonstrates once more his rare ability to wholly rejuvenate a thought-deceased franchise, but moreover sets an astounding new benchmark for the big-screen comedy genre going forward; a job extremely well done, in other words.
The story doesn't end here, of course - don’t you dare miss the chance to come back here tomorrow in order to discover the remaining five entries on our Top 10 Best Films shortlist! We shan’t spoil what’s ahead for obvious reasons, yet suffice to say that there may well be some gasp-inducing shocks in store – you’ve been warned…

New Year, New On-Screen: Welcome Back!

Image Source: Photobucket
The times, they are truly a'changing - join us for a year of entertainment coverage presented like you've never seen it before...
To some of our readers out there, reading this post may seem like an experience akin to re-convening with a colleague who you've not seen in years, and justifiably so. After all, our most recent entertainment-geared articles landed on this very site back in the distant days of Autumn 2015, since which we've seen blockbusters including Spectre, The Hunger Games: Mockingjay - Part 2 and Star Wars: The Force Awakens make their colossal debuts in cinemas while barnstorming new video game releases such as Assassin's Creed Syndicate and Rise of the Tomb Raider followed suite in high street retailers worldwide as well.

In the event that the wait for new content from us here at On-Screen: Entertainment Enhanced has felt as borderline torturous for any of you as it has for yours truly in recent months, then fret not: we're coming back in full force for the New Year starting today, and quite right too - what with unmissable releases like The Hateful Eight, The Danish Girl, Deadpool, Kung Fu Panda 3, Daredevil Season Two and plenty more sure-to-be exhilarating titles on the immediate horizon, there's never been a better time for you to tune into the blog so as to catch all of the latest trailers, news and - most importantly of all - verdicts on both the most-anticipated and lesser-known entertainment products due to make their way to stores, cinemas and the like before year's end. Whilst we can't always promise that we'll be able to deliver fully-fledged reviews of each and every one of those titles on Day One as had been the case in previous years when this writer's professional schedule wasn't quite so jam-packed, rest assured that we'll endeavour to at the very least publish monthly round-ups featuring critiques of the most compelling and dullest works of screen-orientated art in the event that isolated verdicts are on occasion out of the question.

Oh, and speaking of compilation articles of that ilk, look out in the coming hours for our Top 10 Best Films of 2015 count-down, which (as anyone who's followed the blog at Christmastime in the past will doubtless recall) will as always mark the first instalment in our ongoing Best of 2015 awards season, with future pieces detailing the finest video games, musical tracks, TV shows and entertainment-centric reference books to have entered the market in the past twelve months, not to manage the rare travesties which at the time of release threatened to bring shame upon their respective industries (don't believe us? In that case, just wait to see our Worst Film and Worst Game victors, and we're certain you'll come around). Naturally, we're planning to subsequently progress onto our Most Anticipated Releases of 2016 shortlists as soon as humanly possible in order to provide our loyal readership with details of all of the most promising titles coming to our shores between now and December 31st, but expect to see those towards the end of the month, since getting through the plethora of Best of 2015 gongs we've got to hand out alone represents a task which'll take no shortage of time and words alike in order to achieve.

That said, don't think under any circumstances that On-Screen will scale back on its news coverage or reviews in the midst of our month-long prize-giving ceremony; quite to the contrary, once tonight's Top 10 Best Films feature hits the interwebs, we've already got another Netflix-orientated announcement ready to report in just a few hours' time, and no doubt exists in yours truly's mind that January should be packed with further exciting revelations coming from every sub-branch of the entertainment industry. If the industry somehow lets us down, though, then we'll gladly pick up the slack by pursuing other avenues of reportage and evaluation, not least via our upcoming critique of the sensational tenth episode of Sherlock, "The Abominable Bride", as well as our traditional yearly round-up (and assessment, of course) of the results of each of the major US film awards ceremonies including the Oscars, and even via a few secret new regular features which we've got every intention of deploying during those periods of the year that come up empty-handed in terms of the provision of a metaphorical treasure trove of entertainment news that one would hope (often in vein) to see on a weekly basis.

To put it perfectly bluntly, it's going to be one heck of a memorable year, both in terms of the industry's output as well as our ensuing coverage, so by all means, join us as we voyage Through the Looking Glass with an eccentric rabbit who still appears to be late for a very important date, accompany Sora, Donald and Goofy on their climatic odyssey through Disney realms old and new in Kingdom Hearts III, witness two comic-book behemoths clash figurative (or literal - who can say these days?) horns in Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice and take yet another step further into the newly-revived Star Wars universe with Rogue One. Believe it or not, long-awaited titles like these truly represent the mere tip of the proverbial iceberg in terms of what lies in store for 2016, and as has been the case ever since our launch back in April 2010 (doesn't time fly?), there's only one place to keep track of the lot - right here at On-Screen: Entertainment Enhanced.

In the meantime, though, have a great New Year's break, folks and folkettes, and be sure to leave your thoughts on all of our latest articles over on Facebook and Twitter should any spring to mind!

The Ed

Thursday, 15 October 2015

Beauty and the Beast Cancelled

Image Source: Celebeat
Even tales as old as time have to come to a close eventually...
Just days after its Autumn slate kicked off with the return of The Flash, iZombie, Arrow and other hit series, The CW confirmed yesterday that their popular fantasy drama Beauty and the Beast will not return for any further runs after its fourth season airs in the United States.

The show, which stars Smallville's Kristen Kreuk in the eponymous role of Catherine Chandler (don't ask why the name 'Belle' wouldn't have worked just as well) along with Neighbours' Jay Ryan as her at times psychologically unhinged wooer Vincent Keller, depicts the aforementioned fairytale characters in a modern-day setting as Chandler haphazardly attempts to balance her work in the New York Police Department (NYPD) with her ongoing efforts to protect Keller's bestial secrets from being discovered.

No doubt the above premise reeks too much of Twilight for some, yet in fairness, based on the 1.78 and 1.24 million viewers amassed by its first and second seasons respectively, Beauty definitely appears to have worked its magic over on The CW regardless, hence why its axing just eight months after the US network commissioned a fourth string of 13 episodes for broadcast in 2016 will most likely have come as quite the shock to those who have stepped aboard the series' bandwagon since its 2013 première. On the other hand, when pitted against The Flash Season One's 3.84 million average, these figures admittedly don't seem quite so remarkable, so perhaps like Firefly and In the Flesh, the show's production team will have to rest safe in the knowledge that their creation acquired quite the cult following in its short-lived lifespan, even if said fandom wasn't enough to indefinitely prolong its inevitable demise.

Every cloud has a silver lining, though, and in this case it's that the soon-to-be deceased drama's writing team have at least been afforded the necessary time to concoct a satisfying series finale in learning of Beauty's cancellation well ahead of its final season's broadcast. Too often these kinds of announcements are made so late in the day that execs and head writers have to hurriedly huddle together to concoct a rushed denouement for their abruptly terminated pet projects, so at the very least, it's a welcome departure from the norm to see The CW make such a wholehearted effort to offer the cast and crew alike the best opportunity at providing both themselves and their hardly insubstantial audience with some form of closure as opposed to a half-hearted conclusion which forever leaves a bitter taste on the tongue. The end may well be approaching, then, but to quote Tom Baker's incarnation of Doctor Who, the moment has (thankfully) been prepared for.

Better yet, the moment's a way off yet; before taking its final bow, Beauty and the Beast will return to The CW (as well as on Freeview channel Watch here in the UK, unless they suddenly lose the rights at the last moment) for its climactic fourth season in Summer 2016.

The LEGO Movie Theme Park Attraction Announced

Image Source: Seaford Cinema
Emmett's next cinematic outing may still be under construction, but that won't stop him embarking on new adventures elsewhere!
In a turn of events that, to be honest, we all really should have seen coming, The LEGO Group have this week revealed plans to début a new theme park attraction based on the events of their 2014 animated motion picture The LEGO Movie over the course of the New Year.

Currently going by the name of The LEGO Movie 4D: A New Adventure, this family-orientated experience will take the form of an interactive show - to be played at LEGOLAND parks across the world, no less - along the lines of Madame Tussauds' Marvel Super Heroes 4D and Disneyland's Star Tours, incorporating simulator elements (albeit nothing too high-octane, we'd wager) as well as weather and 3-D effects so as to draw its onlookers into its on-screen action.

Not that the audience will want to take their eyes off of the sure-to-be sizeable cinema screen placed at the centre of their auditoriums, of course - here, the likes of Wyldstyle (played once more by Elizabeth Banks), Benny the Astronaut (Charlie Day) and even Emmett himself (who'll unfortunately be voiced by someone other than Chris Pratt, no doubt owing to the Jurassic World star's presently hectic schedule) as the merry band of Master Builders who comprised The LEGO Movie's central ensemble face off against the nefarious "Risky Business" - voiced by none other than Patton Oswalt of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. fame - in a fictional theme park dedicated to their efforts last year to bring down the so-called Kraggle.

If the idea of a potentially non-canonical follow-up to one of the most accomplished additions to the animated genre in recent memory has any of our readers worrying that a minimal amount of effort will be invested on account of the attraction's youthful target audience, then allow us to put the situation into perspective. It's worth noting first and foremost that Rob Schrab - better known as the man tasked with helming The LEGO Movie Sequel, due in cinemas May 18th, 2018 - has agreed to serve as the project's principle director, indicating that unless he has plans to scale back on the layered storytelling, the gloriously meta-textual references and frankly hilarious characterisation which made Phil Lord and Chris Miller's original big-screen effort such a hit last February, chances are he'll endeavour to transfer all of those elements across to A New Adventure too.

Indeed, given the beloved first film's remarkable commercial takings, the likelihood of The LEGO Group allowing anyone involved to slack on the job seems incredibly low at best, if not downright out of the question. That said, if recent lacklustre 4-D efforts such as Thorpe Park's wholly underwhelming Angry Birds adaptation have proven anything, it's that adrenaline junkies and LEGO fanatics alike would be completely justified in keeping an eye on TripAdvisor in the days succeeding the attraction's launch in case of adverse reviews, not least since gaining entry to just about any theme park tends to cost one an arm and / or a leg these days. In the event that all of that seems like too much effort, though, simply stick with On-Screen as 2016 progresses, as we'll do our utmost to keep atop of the show's development and to subsequently provide an overall verdict on whether it's enough to warrant a trip down memory lane for those who claim to have outgrown the world's most iconic construction toy.

Provided that Lord Business doesn't glue its creators' feet to the ground in the meantime, The LEGO Movie 4D: A New Adventure will première at LEGOLAND California next February 6th before moving onto the park's Windsor, Billund, Malaysia and Deutschland counterparts as well as the eleven LEGOLAND Discovery Centres situated across the globe in mid-late 2016.

Monday, 12 October 2015

First Mad Max: Fury Road Follow-Up Character Details Teased

Image Source: CNET
Will 2015's most beloved femme fatale by a long stretch join Tom Hardy's Max for more dystopian odysseys?
Director George Miller has today elaborated on his recent array of comments surrounding what the narrative of a potential follow-up to his post-apocalyptic thriller Mad Max: Fury Road would entail, revealing once and for all whether we should expect another appearance from fan favourite character Furiosa next time around.

Portrayed by Prometheus' Charlize Theron, this sexual slave-turned-fearless warrior made quite the entrance in this July's Fury Road as she broke away from the deranged warlords holding her and the only other female survivors in the Wasteland hostage, only to cross paths with Tom Hardy's similarly courageous titular protagonist in a turn of events which led both she and Max into a ferocious, explosion-laden battle for the freedom of the former's entire civilisation.

Five months from its release, and suffice to say that despite its somewhat underwhelming domestic and international box office takings, the third instalment in the Mad Max franchise certainly found from a critical perspective in no small part thanks to Theron's memorable turn. Little wonder, then, that there's already been a feverish amount of interest regarding whether or not she'll reprise her role if studio Warner Brothers Pictures eventually gives the green light to Miller for the near-inevitable sequel. Indeed, fans haven't been the only ones kept in the dark on this front - when USA Today quizzed Theron herself on the subject in August, the American thespian said any updates were "news to [her]", suggesting only the aforementioned director could confirm what lay ahead for the character.

In hindsight, however, perhaps Furiosa's adorers would have been better off not knowing either way, since the closure which Miller has brought his fandom today might well seem completely contrary to what many had been expecting (or at least hoping for). Developing upon his recent revelation that multiple scripts had been drafted for Fury Road's successor - which he's tentatively calling Mad Max: Wasteland, though that mightn't be set in stone - he confirmed in an interview with Digital Spy this morning that the character's presence (or lack thereof) will be extremely dependent on which screenplay the sequel's production team opts to film: "I'm not sure, is the answer. She's not in [Wasteland]'s story, but in one of the stories there's an interaction between [her and Max]. I can't really say more [...] because [the writing process is] still in progress."

Compared to Hardy, then, whose return surely represents a given provided that the project goes ahead, Theron - for better or for worse - may well not want to turn down other offers of cinematic employment for the foreseeable future, since in a rather creatively admirable move, despite the well-evidenced mass appeal of her character, her behind-the-scenes commander-in-chief looks to be more focused on providing a top-notch narrative experience (no doubt fuelled by the same ilk of visual storytelling which made Fury Road such a hit with countless critics) than resurrecting beloved players for no reason other than pure nostalgia. Will Furiosa be the only member of her chapter's ensemble of supporting constructs not to make an appearance going forward, though? We'd strongly suspect not, but to know for sure what's occurring, our readers will just have to keep checking back at On-Screen in the coming weeks, months and possibly years (goodness knows how long Warner will take to make a decision on Wasteland's overall viability!) as more updates surface from official and third-party sources alike.

There's one almost sure-fire way for fans to boost the chances of easily this year's most critically acclaimed quasi-fantastical adrenaline ride earning itself a follow-up in the meantime, however: look out for Mad Max: Fury Road as the near-masterful work of cinema in question races into UK DVD and Blu-Ray retailers nationwide on Monday, October 19th.

Saturday, 10 October 2015

EXCLUSIVE - New LEGO Marvel's Avengers Gameplay Details Revealed

Image Source: YouTube
Only right here and now will you find full details of how Iron Man 3 and more MCU greats will factor in!
Much as entertainment journalists such as this writer might hate to admit it, the art of obtaining wholly original scoops is fast becoming an increasingly tough one to crack these days, particularly given the density of specialist online and print publications alike vying endlessly for new, industry-shaking stories which they can claim for themselves.

Today, though, we here at On-Screen have, through nought but discussion with game director Arthur Parsons on social media, managed to uncover a fresh update regarding the recently-revealed Marvel Cinematic Universe content set to feature in Travellers' Tales' soon-to-be released action-adventure platforming video game LEGO Marvel's Avengers.

Just to bring our readers up to speed, TT Games' development team - Parsons included - took to the stage at this year's New York Comic-Con yesterday to confirm that not only would the characters, locales and events depicted in Marvel Studios' hit films Avengers Assemble and Avengers: Age of Ultron appear in the long-awaited spiritual successor to 2013's LEGO Marvel Superheroes, but moreover that past MCU instalments including Captain America: The First Avenger, Iron Man 3, Thor: The Dark World and last year's Captain America: The Winter Soldier would contribute to the variety of story-driven missions on offer in the final product come the New Year.

What wasn't dwelt upon for long, however, was the precise manner in which these solo motion pictures' narratives would be presented inside or outside of the title's main campaign - would Iron Man 3 et al receive a full set of missions like their two Avengers counterparts, or would they instead be featured in some condensed form? Well, On-Screen can exclusively begin to draw back the shroud on this front thanks to an insightful comment as to the nature of this bonus material from Parsons delivered over on the ever-invaluable Twittersphere, the textual content of which can be read in its entirety below:
Admittedly one could make the argument that most licensed LEGO products like LEGO Star Wars and LEGO Indiana Jones effectively put forward a highlights reel rather than adapting their source material in its entirety, so there is always the chance that Parsons means Marvel's Avengers will adopt a similar strategy. That said, the developer's wording seems to strongly indicate that The Dark World, The Winter Soldier and the like won't receive quite the same 6-mission level of treatment offered to both Avengers ensemble films, instead being represented by a "Best of..."-style level or two which collates the relevant motion picture's most high-octane moments into one thrill-laden montage so as to succinctly set up how many of the individual members of Earth's Mightiest Heroes came to arrive on S.H.I.E.L.D.'s iconic helicarrier shortly before the Battle of New York (and Sokovia, of course).

Surprisingly enough, though, Parsons and company had even more announcements to make at their NYCC showcase 12 hours or so ago, and whilst we've prioritised our unmissable scoop above for obvious reasons, it's well worth taking a look at the vast array of characters from Marvel's illustrious history who've now been confirmed to début in LEGO form next January. Thanks to Brickipedia, we've been kept abreast of those revelations in the last few hours and can therefore unveil the full list of constructs who'll very soon be transforming into mini-figures (along with their most recent MCU appearances, just for clarity's sake):

  • Agent Carter (Young and Retired Versions, Agent Carter and Captain America: The Winter Soldier)
  • Agent Coulson (Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.)
  • Agent Sitwell (Captain America: The Winter Soldier)
  • Alridch Killian (Iron Man 3)
  • Alien General (Avengers Assemble)
  • Alien Foot Soldier (Avengers Assemble)
  • Amadeus Cho (Comic-Books)
  • America Chavez (Comic-Books)
  • Baron Wolfgang Von Strucker (Avengers: Age of Ultron)
  • Baron Zemo (Comic-Books)
  • Bruce Banner (Avengers: Age of Ultron)
  • Black Widow (Avengers: Age of Ultron)
  • Butterball (Comic-Books)
  • Captain America (Steve Rogers, Avengers: Age of Ultron)
  • Captain America (Sam Wilson, Comic-Books)
  • Captain Marvel (Comic-Books)
  • Crossbones (Captain America: The Winter Soldier)
  • Daredevil (Daredevil)
  • Detroit Steel (Comic-Books)
  • Devil Dinosaur (Comic-Books)
  • Erik Selvig (Avengers: Age of Ultron)
  • Falcon (Avengers: Age of Ultron)
  • Fandral (Thor: The Dark World)
  • Fin Fang Foom (Comic-Books)
  • Harley Keener (Comic-Books)
  • Hawkeye (Avengers: Age of Ultron)
  • Helen Cho (Avengers: Age of Ultron)
  • Hulk (Avengers: Age of Ultron)
  • Hulkling (Comic-Books)
  • Iron Fist (Iron Fist)
  • Iron Man (Avengers: Age of Ultron)
  • Iron Monger (Iron Man)
  • Jack of Hearts (Comic-Books)
  • Jessica Jones (Jessica Jones)
  • Ulysses Klaw (Avengers: Age of Ultron)
  • Kurse (Comic-Books)
  • Loki (Thor: The Dark World)
  • Luke Cage (Jessica Jones)
  • Malekith (Thor: The Dark World)
  • Mandarin (Iron Man 3)
  • Maria Hill (Avengers: Age of Ultron)
  • Moon Boy (Comic-Books)
  • Ms. Marvel (Comic-Books)
  • Nick Fury (Avengers: Age of Ultron)
  • Red Skull (Captain America: The First Avenger)
  • The Other (Guardians of the Galaxy)
  • Quicksilver (Avengers: Age of Ultron)
  • Scarlet Witch (Avengers: Age of Ultron)
  • Sif (Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.)
  • Sentry (Comic-Books)
  • Speed (Comic-Books)
  • Squirrel Girl (Comic-Books)
  • Thanos (Avengers: Age of Ultron)
  • The Collector (Guardians of the Galaxy)
  • Thor (Thor Odinson, Avengers: Age of Ultron)
  • Thor (Jane Foster, Comic-Books)
  • Stan Lee (Avengers: Age of Ultron)
  • Ultron (Avengers: Age of Ultron)
  • Vision (Avengers: Age of Ultron)
  • Volstagg (Thor: The Dark World)
  • War Machine (Avengers: Age of Ultron)
  • Wiccan (Comic-Books)
  • Winter Soldier (Captain America: The Winter Soldier)
Still with us after that monumental round-up of heroes and villains past? Wonderful - in that case, you'll doubtless want to know that LEGO Marvel's Avengers (the NYCC gameplay trail for which appears below, incidentally) will assemble in UK video game retailers nationwide ready for release on Xbox One, Xbox 360, PlayStation 4, PlayStation 3, PlayStation Vita, Nintendo WiiU, Nintendo 3DS and PC on January 29th, 2016.

Friday, 9 October 2015

Ant Man and the Wasp & More New Marvel Studios Projects Announced

Image Source: MovieWeb
And you thought that Phase Three couldn't possibly grow any larger in size or ambition...
Fresh from their home video release of this Summer's Avengers: Age of Ultron on DVD and Blu-Ray last month, Marvel Studios have this week unveiled a revised version of their slate of upcoming superhero motion pictures, one which now features both new additions along with a few shifted release dates here and there.

Details of the Walt Disney Pictures-powered team's notably revised work-log broke over at Marvel.com just yesterday, with the bulk of the official press release focusing on the introduction of a follow-up to the July-just-gone's Ant-Man into the mixture of the third full 'phase' of the so-called Marvel Cinematic Universe. Going by the name Ant-Man and the Wasp, this sophomore effort will seemingly bring Evangeline Lily's much-loved quasi-protagonist Hope Van Dyne into the foreground as she and Paul Rudd's titular miniaturised rogue duel with the forces of injustice and corruption sometime after the events of April 2016's impending Captain America: Civil War.

Better yet, moving beyond Ant-Man and the Wasp and even further beyond the two-part Avengers: Infinity War crossover event coming to auditoriums worldwide in 2018 and 2019, the MCU doesn't appear to be showing any signs of conforming to Steven Spielberg's recent comments about the superhero genre's potential oncoming demise; just ask the production teams behind the three new untitled projects the studio yesterday confirmed would arrive in cinemas on May 1st, 2020, July 10th, 2020 and November 6th, 2020 (in the States, anyway). Whilst discussing such revelations is all well and good, though, there's no substitute to an accessible, comprehensive guide relating the full structure of Phase Three in its present edited state, so with that in mind, we've included precisely that (along with synopses for each of the projects lucky enough to have been named already) below, with delayed entries marked in red, entries set to be released earlier than planned marked in green and new members of the roster marked in yellow:

  • CAPTAIN AMERICA: CIVIL WAR (April 29th, 2016) - After a catastrophic watershed event prompts the U.S. government to pass a Superhero Registration Act, Captain America and Iron Man take up arms against one another in a turbulent conflict involving the likes of Tom Hollander's Spider-Man as well as Chadwick Boseman's Black Panther (more on both of whom later...).
  • DOCTOR STRANGE (October 28th, 2016) - Benedict Cumberbatch makes his magical début as the Sorcerer Supreme himself, though before he can gain his iconic mystical powers, Dr. Stephen Strange must use the lose of his hands through an act of hubris; only then will Strange embark on a dangerous journey into the path of the Ancient One (played by none other than Tilda Swinton) and into a whole new dimension of space and time featuring a host of - almost undoubtedly - villainous entities intent on his destruction.
  • GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY VOL. 2 (April 28th, 2017) - Is anyone else still singing "Hooked on a Feeling"? Glad we're not alone in that respect, then. Expect more of the same wit, ludicrous set-pieces and space opera-esque story arcs that made James Gunn's original Guardians such a bonafida hit, albeit with an enhanced emphasis on how the supporting characters like Nebula, the Collector and more still to be revealed factor into the ongoing escapades of the MCU's other team of unlikely galactic saviours.
  • TBC SPIDER-MAN FILM (July 2017) - Rumoured in some quarters to be dubbed Spider-Man: The New Avenger, this one will of course only be produced by Marvel Studios, since distribution rights for all future blockbusters starring Peter Parker's web-slinging alter-ego currently remain in the hands of Sony Pictures despite the two companies' much-applauded agreement regarding the character's integration into the world of the Avengers. Nevertheless, if the reported title sticks, then chances are that we'll receive a Spidey instalment which pays just as attention to enhancing its rich universal connections as to furthering the character's previously unexplored high-school days.
  • THOR: RAGNAROK (October 27th, 2017) - As with Guardians Vol. 2, there's almost nought we know about Chris Hemsworth's third solo outing in the role of the God of Thunder (and Tom Hiddleston's fourth return as his nebulous half-brother Loki) save for its title. Reading between the lines, however, given that the Asgardian term "Ragnarok" translates to an apocalyptic event all but guaranteed to wipe Thor's kingdom off the face of the cosmos, could Thanos have come to the realization that the Infinity Gauntlet he swiped in Avengers: Age of Ultron's post-credits scene was in fact a fake, leading him to lay siege to the planet in which another Gauntlet lies waiting (in Odin's place, no less)? Certainly, if the Mad Titan fails to menace Peter Quill and company come April 2017, then we'll absolutely start taking bets on the matter - watch this space, in other words.
  • BLACK PANTHER (Moved Forward - February 2018) - Just two years after Chadwick Boseman shows off Black Panther's capabilities in Civil War, he'll return for more in a solo chapter of his own, presumably to showcase the character's origins as an African prince whose ties to his community never cease to transcend his loyalty to Avengers, international governments and other allies alike. On the antagonist side of things, don't be surprised if Andy Serkis reprises his role as age-old Panther foe Ulysses Klaw from Age of Ultron either, nor if at least one of the Earth's Mightiest Heroes makes an Ant-Man-style cameo in some form.
  • AVENGERS: INFINITY WAR - PART 1 (April 27th, 2018) - "It's the end - the end of the path I started us on." Tony Stark's words in Age of Ultron might well come to have no shortage of thematic resonance in the first half of Marvel's much-hyped Infinity War event, not least as Robert Downey Jr, Chris Evans and Hemsworth's contracts are all purportedly scheduled to reach their conclusions by the two-part tale's denouement. There's every chance that one or more of those stars could agree to sign on for more MCU appearances, of course, yet in some cases at least, the chance that it's time to bid farewell at this point will be just as strong. That being the case, many are speculating the likes of Cap and Thor mightn't even appear until Part 2, though rest assured that those of the Earth's defenders who do feature in proceedings from the outset as Thanos' plans for his all-conquering Infinity Gauntlet finally become clear.
  • ANT-MAN AND THE WASP (July 2018) - New territory ahoy! Whether Scott Lang's next standalone heist will take place before or after Avengers: Infinity War's narrative kicks into gear hasn't been officially established as of yet, yet whatever its temporal placement, it's reasonable to assume that the somewhat boringly titled Ant-Man and the Wasp will not only star Rudd and Lily in its lead roles but moreover Michael Douglas as the ever-protective Hank Pym, Michael Pena as the ever-endearing Luis and perhaps even Thomas the Tank Engine as himself once more...or not.
  • CAPTAIN MARVEL (Delayed - March 2019) - At least one of Marvel's future offerings always seemed doomed to suffer from the introduction of yet another Phase Three storyline, and sure enough, it's Captain Marvel which has taken the brunt of this sudden change of plans, for better or for worse. More time until its release means more time for the behind-the-scenes minds involved to plan accomplished pilot Carol Danvers' leap into the cosmic realms of the MCU, although anyone hoping she'll encounter the likes of Peter Quill or Thor as a result might need to adjust their expectations in light of the studio's repeated implicit reiteration of their desire to flesh out the titular heroine's personality first and foremost here (hence her officially-confirmed absence from Guardians Vol. 2).
  • AVENGERS: INFINITY WAR - PART 2 (April 26th, 2019) - Funnily enough, we never expected perhaps the most significant instalment in this multi-million dollar franchise's decade-spanning history to shift its release date so as to accommodate Ant-Man's return to the silver-screen. Not only will Part 2 finally tie up the loose ends on the Infinity Gauntlet plot arc first established with Captain America: The First Avenger's inclusion of the ominous artefact known as the Tesseract, it'll simultaneously herald a new era for its titular myriad protagonists and, if we're lucky, potentially see the Guardians of the Galaxy join the fight to take down Thanos before his thirst for power (not to mention his crush on the Mistress of Death herself) consumes the universe in its entirety.
  • INHUMANS (July 12th, 2019) - Now, according to the entertainment news site Bleeding Cool, the Marvel Cinematic Universe's twentieth motion picture instalment might have run into trouble of late, to the point that cancellation isn't completely out of the question, That said, given how much time the head honchos of Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. are investing in bringing the Inhumans into the fold for the first time, the notion of its big-screen counterparts passing up the opportunity to build on S.H.I.E.L.D.'s foundations come the Summer of 2019 seems downright ridiculous, if not wholly implausible. Assuming that the project does indeed go ahead, then, we'd anticipate cameo appearances at the very least from the likes of Chloe Bennett's earthquake-producing Daisy Johnson as well as possibly Clark Gregg's increasingly admired S.H.I.E.L.D. commander-in-chief Phil Coulson if we're particularly lucky (though by all means feel free to cross those fingers in the meantime so as to better our chances).
  • TBC MARVEL STUDIOS PROJECTS (May 2020, July 2020 and November 2020) - Unless Marvel surprise us with another public event along the lines of last October's Phase Three launch anytime soon, look for these productions' official titles to be revealed either early in 2016 or around the time of San Diego Comic-Con next July. If we were feeling confident, then we'd likely select Doctor Strange, Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 and maybe even Captain America: Civil War as the most likely candidates for sequels (albeit with the latter probably featuring a new thespian in the guise of the All-American Avenger) given that 3-4 years will have passed since their respective premières by 2020, but that's not to say Kevin Feige won't opt to bring more esteemed - or even lesser known, as was the case with the Guardians and Ant-Man prior to their cinematic débuts - comic-book characters into the limelight instead. As ever, only time - and leaks, of course - will tell...
Be sure to keep it On-Screen as the months leading up to each of these much-anticipated releases' global launches progress for all of the key details on their production, casting, directorial mishaps and potential critical reception, but for now, don't hesitate to scroll beyond this paragraph for another look at the gripping Infinity War teaser trail which caused fans' collective jaws to violently collide with the floor upon its unveiling just twelve months prior to this one.