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Tuesday, 31 January 2012

February 2012: The Release Dates

This month's calendar is thankfully laden with big new releases, and I've got all the confirmed release dates so far listed right here:
THURSDAY 2ND- BOOKS: Doctor Who: Magic Of The Angels; Doctor Who: Step Back In Time; Doctor Who: Monstrous Missions
FRIDAY 3RD- MOVIES: Man On A Ledge; Jack And Jill; Journey 2: The Mysterious Island; GAMES: Soul Calibur V; Final Fantasy XIII-2; Metal Gear Solid HD Collection; SHOWS: Hustle Episode 4; Just Go With It SMP
MONDAY 6TH- DVDS: The Sarah Jane Adventures: The Complete Series; The Sarah Jane Adventures: The Complete Fifth Series; Friends with Benefits; Midnight In Paris; Footloose; Fry's Planet Word
TUESDAY 7TH- SHOWS: Prisoners' Wives Episode 2
THURSDAY 9TH- MOVIES: Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace 3D
FRIDAY 10TH- MOVIES: The Muppets; The Woman In Black; GAMES: The Darkness II; EA Grand Slam Tennis 2; Kingdoms of Alamur: Reckoning; Catherine; Mario & Sonic At The London 2012 Olympic Games 3DS; Fallout: New Vegas Ultimate Edition; SHOWS: Hustle Episode 5; Battle: Los Angeles SMP
MONDAY 13TH- DVDS: Johnny English Reborn; The Gruffalo's Child; Dolphin Tale; Abduction; Doctor Who: Revisitations 3; To Kill A Mockingbird/All Quiet On The Western Front Universal 100th Anniversary Edition
TUESDAY 14TH- SHOWS: Prisoners' Wives Episode 3
THURSDAY 16TH- GAMES: Rayman Origins 3DS
FRIDAY 17TH- SHOWS: Hustle Finale; No Strings Attached SMP; GAMES: UFC 3; Jak & Daxter Collection
MONDAY 20TH: DVDS: Real Steel; Fright Night; Warrior; EVENTS: Doctor Who Series Seven Starts Filming
TUESDAY 21ST- SHOWS: Prisoners' Wives Episode 4
WEDNESDAY 22ND- MOVIES: Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance; EVENTS: PlayStation Vita Arrives; GAMES: Uncharted: Golden Abyss; Wipeout 2048; Little Deviants; Ridge Racer Vita
FRIDAY 24TH- GAMES: Binary Domain; Syndicate; SHOWS: Big Momma: Like Momma, Like Son SMP
MONDAY 27TH- DVDS: Paranormal Activity 3; Doctor Who: The Face Of Evil; Immortals; In Time; The Three Musketeers; We Need To Talk About Kevin; Contagion; The Scorpion King 3
TUESDAY 28TH- TV: Prisoners' Wives Episode 5
WEDNESDAY 29TH- GAMES: Tekken: Prime Edition 3DS

February 2012: Top 5 Most Anticipated Releases

This is where things get interesting.
Where January was debatably a quieter month for the world of entertainment, February looks to be packed with high-octane releases for all kinds of audiences. I've put together a list of the five big entries I reckon you should look out for these next four weeks...
5. CHRONICLE- This one's a bizarre found-footage dark comedy superhero movie starring a cast of relative newcomers onto the box office scene, but I reckon there's a lot of potential for Chronicle to be a genuine sleeper hit. (February 3rd)
4. SYNDICATE- A new video game on the scene? Wow! Forgive my sarcasm- in light of the draught of new releases recently, getting so many this month means I can't help but wonder why they weren't spread out over January too. Thankfully, this sci-fi shooter is looking like a fresh take on the FPS genre. (February 24th)
3. GHOST RIDER: SPIRIT OF VENGEANCE- This one's got a lot of pressure on it as a sequel to a critically-panned Marvel superhero movie. That said, Spirit of Vengeance's trailers have had a lot of things going for them, so I'm holding out hope that Nicholas Cage can restore the faith people have in this brewing franchise. (February 22nd)
2. KINGDOMS OF ALAMUR: RECKONING- A new vid...sorry, just kidding. Reckoning is made by the leaders of the teams who gave us The Elder Scrolls: Morrowind and Oblivion, with many great fantasy writers attached to the project. Don't be surprised if the arcadey combat and huge replay value combine to give us the first essential RPG of 2012. (February 10th)
1. THE MUPPETS- And closing off a packed month for entertainment is a much-delayed comedy movie that has all the potential to be a sensationally nostalgic retread of the good 'ol days, as Jim Henson's puppet characters return with an all-star cast for perhaps the best ensemble piece of the year! (February 10th)

January 2012: Best Release

Everything to fall back on, but it can only be The Fall itself!
In the space of barely two weeks, January became a month that while initially on no one's radar in terms of entertainment releases, now one of the most important and influential periods in the year. The reason? Sherlock. This masterfully crafted second season of cases penned by Steven Moffat, Mark Gatiss and Steve Thompson was packed with thrilling and memorable and completely outstanding moments that will likely be recalled as some of the best of 2012, and it all hit its brilliant climax with by far the best episode of the run, The Reichenbach Fall. From the hilarious yet utterly creepy moments where Moriarty's omniscience reigned upon every situation he manipulated, the break-ins and the taxi journey particular highlights of mine, to the intensely realistic 'burning' of Sherlock's reputation as more and more of his friends turned against him, to the heart-breaking 'note' and graveyard scenes, this was through-and-through a skilfully crafted television masterpiece that left no room for error, and every bit of room for speculation. Because honestly, who won't be wondering just how Mr Holmes survived his deadly descent when the series returns next year? Let the guessing continue!
Below is the start of my ongoing list of all of the year's best releases, but this time around, there's a twist- the Runner-Up(s) for each month will also be included below, and come December I'll name 2012's Best Entertainment Release and the Runner-Up for the award...

UK Film Charts: 23rd-29th January

The Horses of War reign on.
As the first month of 2012 comes to its end (blimey, hasn't it gone fast?), we can look back in happiness to see War Horse, a brilliant film beyond much of last year's best efforts, trailing along at the top of the charts for a full three weeks. In the next few weeks, though, it's got Muppets, Jedi, teenage superheroes and flaming-skulled ones to deal with...
1. WAR HORSE (5/5)

UK Gaming Charts: 23rd-29th January

With just one new game here this week (the first in ages admittedly, but still, only a 3DS spin-off), not much has changed in the charts. Here's hoping Final Fantasy, Soul Calibur and Metal Gear Solid change the tide this Friday! Newcomers will now be listed in yellow so we can mark what is at this time of year a rare event for gamers, i.e. a new release.
10. ZUMBA FITNESS 2 (5/10)
5. BATTLEFIELD 3 (7/10)
4. JUST DANCE 3 (5/10)
1. FIFA 12 (8/10)

Monday, 30 January 2012

Coming Up This Week: January 30th-February 5th

Chronicling seven days of entertainment goodness...
Is the tide finally starting to turn for this year's entertainment offerings, until now infrequent and varied with the odd exceptions? I'd say yes; we've got a heck of a month coming up, and the thrills and action-packed adventures start right here!
AT THE MOVIES- Take a leap of faith with Sam Worthington in the epic thriller Man On A Ledge, or go beneath the Earth in kids' fantasy Journey 2: The Mysterious Island (sequel to Journey To The Centre of the Earth, see what they did there?) or bend the truth with Adam Sandler on Sky Movies Premiere in this week's new comedy Just Go With It, or even see him on the big screen with Norbit-alike Jack and Jill where, you guessed it, Sandler plays Jack and Jill. Sigh...
GAME ON- New games! NEW GAMES! Sorry, perhaps I got a little over-excited there, but having only had Resident Evil: Revelations release in the past month, it's brilliant to see that Metal Gear Solid HD Collection, Soul Calibur V and Final Fantasy XIII-2 are all on their way this Friday. They're unlikely to make big dents in the UK charts, yet still...NEW GAMES!
SWITCH ON THE TELLY- John Barrowman makes a surprising guest appearance in the fourth episode of hustle; fears arise that Du Plessis is having a mental breakdown in Wild at Heart and we meet an intriguing cast of convicts and their spouses in the opening part of BBC1's Prisoners' Wives.
ON THE SHELVES- The Black Eyed Peas bring us new footage from their recent live tour in their DVD and Blu-Ray United We Stand, the BBC show us their first Dickens bicentenary drama with Great Expectations, Gary Oldman's award-winning turn as George Smiley arrives on disc with Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy and you can take a chance on a new Summer comedy, Crazy, Stupid Love.
CRANK UP THE TUNES- Lana De Ray's new album Video Games will retail tomorrow; plus Metallica's Beyond Magnetic and the soundtrack for Sherlock's first season arrive in online and high street stores.
CHRONICLE- This dark comedy superhero film is looking like an exciting new take on a variety of age-old genres, the found-footage style of movie included, so I can't wait to see how Chronicle turns out when it hits cinemas on Friday.

X-Men: First Class Sequel Confirmed

Let the Second Class puns commence!
A sequel to last year's superhero success X-Men: First Class is definitely in the pipeline, according to a report by Deadline early this week. Unless the (usually reliable) website is wrong, Matthew Vaughn will once again direct the movie, while Simon Kinberg is on board to write its script. The latter rumour worries me a little as Kinberg also penned the atrocious X3: The Last Stand, but hopefully Vaughn's return will signal a strong direction for the sequel, especially with the strong foundations laid by the original. Expect Michael Fassbender and James McAvoy to return, as well as the majority of First Class' mutant and human casts, and don't be surprised if more of the classic team of mutants are introduced to bring the earlier chronology closer to the main trilogy. I'd wager we'll get First Class 2 in late 2014 or 2015, seeing as Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance, The Avengers, The Amazing Spider-Man, Iron Man 3, Thor 2, Captain America 2 and The Amazing Spider-Man 2 are taking up the time until that point. Whatever the wait, one thing's for sure: the next few years are going to be very exciting for Marvelites!

Amazing Spider-Man Sneak Peeks Confirmed

We've been waiting for new footage of this year's anticipated superhero reboot The Amazing Spider-Man for quite some time now. Thankfully, Columbia Pictures and Marvel Studios are promising a brand new preview of the movie very soon- in the next few days, in fact! A huge viral campaign commenced in various major cities of the world over the weekend, with a huge red spider spotlight and a logo proclaiming in all of the preview locations that TheUntoldStoryBegins next week. If you sign up at this link (http://www.theuntoldstorybegins.com/#), you can reserve tickets for a preview screening of a new trailer and a variety of clips which will be broadcast at cinemas in London; Berlin; New York; Los Angeles; Madrid; Moscow; Paris; Rio de Janeiro; Rome; Seoul; Sydney and Tokyo. The movie follows a teenage Peter Parker (Andrew Garfield) who is brought face-to-face with Dr Curt Connors and his evil alter-ego the Lizard (Rhys Ifans) as he walks down the road to becoming Spider-Man in what has been dubbed 'an untold story' of his origins. I'll look forward to seeing fans' impressions of the screenings next Monday, February 6th, and rumour has it this Friday will also herald a brand new trailer...The Amazing Spider-Man arrives in the UK on July 4th.

Sunday, 29 January 2012

Filling The Doctor Who Void- News Roundup (23rd-29th January)

I'm not going to lie to you- it's been a pretty quiet month for Doctor Who, rounded off here by a slow week of quiet pieces of news and minor announcements. Nevertheless, they're all here...
TURN THE CLOCK- The first trailer for Doctor Who: The Eternity Clock, an all new downloadable video game on its way to the PS3, PSVita and PC this Spring, is now online. The preview reveals that the Daleks, the Cyber-Men, the Silurians and the Silence are involved in the adventure, and developer SuperMassive Games have teased that there are more old enemies to come in further adventures...
MYLES TO GO?- Eve Myles has been speaking about the future of Torchwood, and right now it seems like we've got quite a wait until our next dose of the Who spin-off. "Nothing's going to happen in 2012," she says, "I know that for sure. We've always had a gap in between [series], so fingers crossed...the fans deserve a bit of closure." Eve also said that she'd love to see a Torchwood movie close the run, and contrary to previous statements she'd love to be involved with Who's 50th Anniversary if the right storyline circumstances can be arranged. 'Cause let's be honest, who really wants Rex in an episode of Who...? Not to discredit the character, but he needs his own immortality storyline to be dealt with in Wood.
INSIDE IS OUT- Sadly, the American magazine Doctor Who Insider has just ceased production after nine issues due to lacklustre sales. On the plus side, any of us who got hold of a copy of the Issue 1-4 compilation will at least be able to save it while it stacks up its worth in cash...
AWARDS SUCCESS- And finally, while the show lost out to Downton Abbey (a worthy victor this time, with a brilliant debut these past two years, much more deserved than 2011's Waterloo Road), Doctor Who got both the Best Male and Best Female Drama Performances with Matt Smith and Karen Gillan's Series Six portrayals. Well done to the production team!
THURSDAY 2ND- A brand new Quick Reads novel, Magic of the Angels, that features the Eleventh Doctor, Amy and Rory releases in book retailers today. Plus, two 2-In-1 kids' novels- Monstrous Missions and Step Back In Time- arrive.
FRIDAY 3RD- Catch the final three stories of The Sarah Jane Adventures and a poignant final documentary, 'Goodbye Bannerman Road', with the release of the fifth season on DVD today.
MONDAY 13TH- A nice, special compilation of The Tomb of the Cybermen, The Robots of Death and The Three Doctors hits disc retailers everywhere today- it's called Revisitations 3, and comes laden with bonus features for hardcore fans among you!
FILMING STARTS!- As well as expecting some minor details on Series 7 from DWM, we can sleep safe in the knowledge that filming on the new season begins this coming month, and is expected to continue until early next year. Yep, that's right, the team are spending nearly double the length of time they do when filming one season and a festive special, so I'd say if there are just going to be 14 episodes (that's doubtful), there will be some long specials to come- heck, I wouldn't be surprised if there are two full seasons (or one and a half, with the remainder of Series 8 in Spring 2014) to come!

My Sister Lives On The Mantelpiece Review (4.5/5)

Annabel Pitcher is a relative newcomer onto the scene of modern fiction, but if My Sister Lives On The Mantelpiece is anything to go by, she's definitely an author to watch in the months ahead. The novel centres on young James, a child whose sister was killed in (fictional) terrorist bombings on September 9th. As the book's title implies, Rose's ashes now lie in an urn on the mantelpiece in the family's lounge, and of course this struggle to accept her passing forms the crux of the novel, admist several gripping plot threads involving racial stereotypes, religious traditions and ultimately letting go of the past. Anyone who might think this to be a downbeat read would be surprisingly wrong, though- Pitcher manages to maintain a uniquely positive tone throughout the novel's entirety, and while of course there are naturally moments of intense poignancy (handled beautifully too, sure to bring a tear to the eyes come the heartwarming climax), overall there's actually a lot of ironic comedy and social satire to indulge in, making for an unpredictable and often thought-provoking read. Above all, Pitcher handles her characterisations perfectly, from the traumatised parents of Rose, Jas and Jamie to the overly religious teachers at their new school, and particularly when we have direct moments with James either alone or with Sunya, things are pitched (no pun intended) perfectly, never descending too far into the realm of tear-jerking or hilarious to become unrealistic. Indeed, if Annabel Pitcher moves on from teenage fiction to adult fiction- if there is a distinction to be made there, which I would wager could go up to debate nowadays- then it will be her characterisations that will be remembered for their total faithfulness to the real-life people and situations we see happening around us every day. My sole gripes with the novel? There are one or two moments where the various plotlines are dealt with strangely, and the open-ended denounement does leave something to be desired. Nevertheless, My Sister In The Mantlepiece sets an exciting precedent for all of this rising author's future work, and I for one cannot wait to see what's coming next.

Mass Effect 3 Multiplayer Trailer Released

In just five weeks, Mass Effect 3 will be finally be here, and series fans can rejoice as they bring their collective stories to an epic climax in March. BioWare have released a brand new trailer for the game- dubbed 'Special Forces', the video looks at the types of characters, locations and missions you'll encounter in the course of the online multiplayer component. The Galaxy At War mode is unique in that it can affect your single-player campaign as soldiers gain a foothold on more and more planets in an effort to push back the Reaper onslaught long enough for Commander Shepherd to find a way to stop the invasion entirely. This segment of the title is easily the most divisive among long-term fans of the franchise, but judging by the video I'd say it'll allow for one helluva final battle to round the trilogy off with a bang! Mass Effect 3 arrives with retailers on March 9th.

Friday, 27 January 2012

Nick Fury Movie Coming?

The Marvelites among you I'm sure cannot wait for the new comic-book adaptated movies on their way this year from Marvel Pictures (Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance; The Avengers and The Amazing Spider-Man), but it turns out the excitement won't need to end anytime soon! Neal McDonough played Dum Dum Dugan in Captain America: The First Avenger last year, and has been getting quite wordy as to what the studio's future plans are. "They're planning to go into production for Captain America 2 at the end of the year," he said, "because Marvel does one film at a time. So, they're going to do Thor 2 and as soon as Thor has wrapped, they'll do Cap 2. Hopefully right after that, we'll jump right into Nick Fury because that's the one I'm looking forward to more than anything." We already knew that sequels to both Thor and Cap's first movies were on their way in the near future, and what with Iron Man 3 having entered production faster than anticipated, it seems like both new instalments will have no trouble reaching the big screen in 2013 and 2014 respectively, however what is news to most fans is that Samuel L Jackson may, then, if we go by Neal's comments be at the head of a new movie based around Nick Fury, the assembler of the Avengers who has made cameos in each of the prequel films. Jackson apparently has a greater role to play in Avengers than he has had in his previous adventures, yet it would be interesting to see how the studio handles his origins of his team leadership within their own cinematic universe, and it looks like that may well be happening. I'll keep you posted...for now, we do know that Iron Man 3 is due on May 13th, 2013, Thor 2 in November next year and Captain America 2 in Summer 2014.

Aliens: Colonial Marines Delayed, New Trailer Released

I've said it before, I'll say it again- entertainment companies everywhere seemed to have waited until the festive mood of the Christmas break passed, only to then spring on us a handful of delays for anticipated 2012 releases this month. XCOM, Hansel & Gretel: Witch-Hunters, Jack The Giant Killer, Max Payne 3, Ghost Recon: Future Soldier and Inversion have all fallen prey to this worrying epidemic in weeks gone by, and now we can add another big video game to the list. SEGA and Gearbox announced today that Aliens: Colonial Marines will no longer retail this Spring. In a statement released via GameInformer, the publishers and developers had this to say on the strategic retreat of one of Q1 2012's most eagerly awaited releases: "Aliens: Colonial Marines is a process of creativity and invention, and those don't necessarily follow the structure of an assembly line. While setting clear goals, deadlines and predictions is helpful, they are often subjective. We don't want to sacrifice the creative process just for the sake of following a blueprint. We prefer to have the creative disccovery shape that blueprint because our goal is to make a great game, and we are prioritising this goal over the previously targeted date." The cynical among us (myself included) might assume this delay is simply a chance for SEGA to promote the game at this year's E3 expo and to port it over to the WiiU as promise for the console's release near the end of 2012, but if Gearbox truly are putting off the game's release until everything's just right with this spiritual Aliens sequel, then I commend them for their bravery. Yep, it takes some guts to release a licensed game in the packed Autumn of Gaming in any year...then again, try telling that to Batman: Arkham City. Aliens: Colonial Marines will ship this Autumn. Catch IGN's brand new exclusive trailer for the game below.

RAGE Review (8/10)

RAGE was one of a handful of promising titles that managed to meet a healthy critical reception in the midst of the packed Autumn of Gaming last year, yet failed to make any substantial impact in the charts. What with this bleak midwinter of little-to-no new titles on the horizon for quite some time, should you pick it up? Comparisons to Fallout through the post-apocalyptic world id Software have created were always going to be inevitable, but surprisingly, the development team manage to provide a completely new take on the genre, adding strongly effective elements of horror and isolation that for me have never shone through in Bethesda's own franchise. The visuals- animated beautifully to the point that you might wonder if this was made by the same guys who did Red Steel 2 for the Wii back in 2010- certainly add to the stylistic tone of the plot, a dark adventure spruced with hints of comedy and charm throughout that will easily please RPG fans in its 10-20 hour duration. Moreover, the gameplay engine is a vast improvement on Bethesda's structure for its futuristic role-play, relying on the player conserving ammo for the most powerful battles, while travelling the nuclear-war ravaged landscapes of America in buggies, constantly on the look-out for enemy raiders and hazards. By keeping the player on the edge of their seat, constantly surveying each tactical option of a conflict to ensure maximum damage to their adversaries and minimum waste of ammunition, id goes where very few teams have dared gone before, mimicking zombie greats like 28 Days Later and Shaun of the Dead in that it will truly feel as if your character is being hunted from all angles, with little chance of escape. That a developer can still give us such a compelling single-player experience in the midst of dominating shooters like Call of Duty, Battlefield and Gears is a wonderful achievement, placing this much closer to the realms of Batman: Arkham City, The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim and Portal 2 in terms of 2011's roster than towards the tepid first-person shooters that unjustifiably swamp our charts nowadays, but sadly, there are some notable shortcomings in said experience that hold it back from reaching the ranks of the former group. Firstly, there's the ammo system- although I mentioned it added to the feeling of isolation and sheer tension, id Software seem to have taken things a little too far, turning the player into the worst of scavengers just to make it through a single mission, and this approach to gameplay does wear thin after a few hours of play. Also, the driving mechanics are lacklustre, failing to match the Gran Turismos or Ridge Racers of this world by any strech of the imagination, and thus making the inclusion of such a compulsory mode feel rather counter-productive towards the title's overall appeal. Furthermore, despite the plot being strong in most respects, the lack of an empathetic cast of characters to connect with at any point (we mostly get cookie-cutter moulds descended from long-mocked games' past) ensures that we can never totally feel drawn into the game world, and if I'm being brutally honest this shortcoming would, for me, be the factor that holds the game back from necessitating a sequel. RAGE is one of those one-off Marmite wonders: you'll either love it or you'll hate it, but whatever your final stance on the game turns to be, I'm sure you can get some fun milage out of it on the way to finding out.

We'll Take Manhattan Review (2/5)

Earlier this month, I made the bold claim that the BBC would rule this year in the world of television. I stand by that to this day, and I imagine it will be the case in viewers' minds by Christmas, but sadly We'll Take Manhattan won't be one of the contributing factors if this is indeed the case. Karen Gillian's turn as 1960s supermodel Jean Shrimpton was admittedly fabulous, emotional and layered, undoubtedly a world apart from her role as Amy Pond and all the better for it. However, the return of Doctor Who's female companion to the small screen seemed to be just about everything this weak drama had going for it. Aside from Gillan, we were presented with a bunch of stereotypical artists, portrayed as selfish, money-driven fools by the likes of Aneurin Benard (David Bailey) and on the other end of spectrum, we had Helen McRory in a fully-blown pantomime antagonist performance that did her no favours in comparison to her work in the past. The direction of the piece was credible at best, instantly percievable as a blatant rip-off of the 60s black-and-white camera style, yet faring no stronger for the close resemblance due to the aged feeling that pervaded the episode in its entirety as a result. What was perhaps most disheartening, though, was the plotline- whether adapting the story of a famous celebrity to screen or penning a tale from scratch, television writers have a duty to provide a compelling and thought-provoking narrative for viewers to indulge in, especially in such a day and age where we get shows like Sherlock and Birdsong airing in the same month. These are golden times for the television industry, and We'll Take Manhattan's utter unwillingness to move past the boundaries of predictable bio-pictures holds it back in the long run every bit as much as Shrimpton's family tried to keep her from acheiving her dreams.

Thursday, 26 January 2012

Being Human Return Date Confirmed

Being Human
The BBC have confirmed that their fantasy drama series Being Human will return to BBC3 next month. The award-winning programme came to an epic climax last year as over one million fans saw Mitchell gunned down, his fate unknown. Series Four will elaborate on the shooting's aftermath, as the housemates return to their home in Barry Island, and some new faces arrive in town. Russell Tovey will return as George in a few episodes of the new season, but he has confirmed that this run will be his last, so expect some cast changes in store for us over the course of the eight upcoming episodes. The new run is penned by Toby Whithouse, Lisa McGee, Jamie Matheson, Tom Grieves and John Jackson; Being Human returns February 5th at 9pm on BBC3.

The Amazing Spider-Man Synopsis Revealed, New Trail Soon

What with the build-up to The Amazing Spider-Man already developing among fans for its July release, you'd think Sony Colombia would have gone further to promote the upcoming reboot. Perhaps now, with just half a year to go, the distributor wants to make up for its marketing mistake- we've got the first full synopsis for the movie right here:
"One of the world's most popular characters is back on the big screen as a new chapter in the Spider-Man legacy is revealed. Focusing on an untold story that tells a different side of the Peter Parker story, The Amazing Spider-Man is the story of an outcast high schooler (Andrew Garfield) who was abandoned by his parents as a boy, leaving him to be raised by his Uncle Ben (Martin Sheen) and Aunt May (Sally Field). Peter is finding his way with his first high school crush, Gwen Stacy (Emma Stone), and together, they struggle with love, commitment, and secrets. As Peter discovers a mysterious briefcase that belonged to his father, he begins a quest to understand his parents' disappearance- leading him directly to Oscorp and the lab of Dr Curt Connors (Rhys Ifans), his father's former partner. As Spider-Man is set on a collision course with Connors' alter-ego, The Lizard, Peter will make life-altering choices to use his powers and shape his destiny to become a hero."
I'm still not quite sold on the 'untold story' pitch, nor the theory of Avi Arad that this weaves its way into the original Tobey Maguire trilogy's continuity, but nevertheless this remains one of my most anticipated films of 2012. Director Marc Webb has also revealed that we can expect a new trailer "in the next month" (rumour has it it'll premiere on the web on February 9th), so expect the promotional material for the superhero flick to kick into full gear very soon! The Amazing Spider-Man arrives on the big-screen on July 4th.

Monty Python Cast Reunite For New Movie

Yep, you read right- Terry Jones has revealed that he's set to direct a science-fiction movie which will star the surviving members of the Monty Python crew. That means we can expect to see John Cleese, Terry Gilliam, Michael Palin and with some luck Eric Idle back on the scene, in Absolutely Anything, a CGI movie where they play aliens who give a human a source of unimaginable power that threatens to send the Earth into chaos. Robin Williams will also feature in the movie, and he's said "It's not a Monty Python picture, but it certainly has that sensibility." "Terry and Gavin [Scott, writer of the original script] have crafted a classic farce- something I feel I know a little bit about after all the Pink Panther pictures we did with Blake Edwards at United Artists," says writer of Life of Brian and Absolutely Anything Mike Medavoy. Expect this exciting new project to hit the big screen early in 2014.

Wednesday, 25 January 2012

National Television Awards 2012 Announced

As ever, this year's National Television Awards ceremony was filled with laughs and shocks, but overall, I'd say the final list of award winners is full of well-rounded and much-deserved victors...
Katherine Kelly (Coronation Street)
Matt Smith (Doctor Who)
Karen Gillan (Doctor Who)
Alan Carr: Chatty Man
Downton Abbey
Coronation Street
I'm A Celebrity...Get Me Out Of Here!
Michael McIntyre's Comedy Roadshow
Ant & Dec
The X Factor
This Morning
Jacqueline Jossa (Eastenders)
Celebrity Juice
David Walliams
Gary Barlow
Jonathan Ross

Tuesday, 24 January 2012

Inversion Delayed To 'Early 2012'

Inversion will no longer be released next month, publisher and developer Namco has revealed today. The game takes place in a futuristic world, in the guise of a science-fiction first-person shooter with physics bending puzzles and epic setpieces. Namco have said that "the additional development time will allow the team to polish several key aspects of the game, ensuring Inversion is of the highest quality." Sounds a little suspicious, if you ask me, especially when we've heard so little on the project since its announcement, so I'd say we could be in for a long wait even when Namco still say to expect it in 'early 2012'...

Oscars 2012 Nominations Announced

This year's Academy Award ceremony (the 84th, in case you were wondering) promises to be a huge night of praise and appreciation for the film industry, packed with memorable reflections on some of the best features of the past year. As always, the just-announced list of nominees will be divisive, especially with both Drive and Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2 failing to secure nominations for the 'Best Picture' award, but I'm glad that War Horse recieved a lot of recognition, nominated for six titles, and Hugo and The Artist are looking more and more like a film you and I need to see, each earning over ten accolades. Here's the list in full, with my personal choices for each award highlighted in yellow:
BEST PICTURE: War Horse; The Artist; Moneyball; The Descendants; The Tree of Life; Midnight In Paris; The Help; Hugo; Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close
DIRECTOR: Michel Hazanavicus (Artist); Alexander Payne (Descendants); Martin Scorese (Hugo), Woody Allen (Midnight); Terrence Malick (Tree)
BEST ACTOR: Demian Bichir (A Better Life); George Clooney (Descendants); Jean Dujardin (Artist); Gary Oldman (Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy); Brad Pitt (Moneyball)
BEST ACTRESS: Glenn Close (Albert Nobbs); Viola Davis (Help); Rooney Mara (The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo); Meryl Streep (The Iron Lady); Michelle Williams (My Week with Marilyn)
BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR: Kenneth Branagh (Marilyn); Jonah Hill (Moneyball); Nick Nolte (Warrior); Christopher Plummer (Beginners); Max Von Sydow (Extremely)
BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS: Berenice Bejo (Artist); Jessica Chastain/Octavia Spencer (Help); Melissa McCarthy (Bridesmaids); Janet McTeer (Albert Nobbs)
ADAPTED SCREENPLAY: The Descendants; Hugo; The Ides of March; Moneyball; Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy
ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY: The Artist; Bridesmaids; Margin Call; Midnight In Paris; A Separation
ANIMATED FEATURE: A Cat In Paris; Chico & Rita; Kung Fu Panda 2; Puss In Boots; Rango
ART DIRECTION: The Artist; Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2; Hugo; Midnight In Paris; War Horse
CINEMATOGRAPHY: The Artist; The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo; Hugo; The Tree of Life; War Horse
COSTUME DESIGN: Anonymous; The Artist; Hugo; Jane Eyre; W.E.
EDITING: The Artist; The Descendants; The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo; Hugo; Moneyball
MAKEUP: Albert Nobbs; Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2; The Iron Lady
ORIGINAL SCORE: The Adventures of Tintin; The Artist; Hugo; Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy; War Horse
ORIGINAL SONG: Man Or Muppet (The Muppets); Real In Rio (Rio)
SOUND EDITING: Drive; The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo; Hugo; Transformers: Dark of the Moon; War Horse
SOUND MIXING: The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo; Hugo; Moneyball; Transformers: Dark of the Moon; War Horse
VISUAL EFFECTS: Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2; Hugo; Real Steel; Rise of the Planet of the Apes; Transformers: Dark Of The Moon

Alan Wake 2, FIFA Street Release Dates Confirmed

Remedy and EA have both announced release dates for their new projects, Alan Wake: American Nightmare and FIFA Street- it turns out we won't have long to wait now for either of them! American Nightmare is a downloadable expansion to the Xbox 360-exclusive horror game released in 2010, still based in a fictional world of nightmares as Alan tries to escape his worst dreams and return to reality, and it's due to hit the XBLA network on February 22nd. Street, meanwhile, is a reboot of EA's popular, more gritty version of the FIFA franchise which promises to restore its spin-off series to their former PS2 glory days, and is due out for 360, PS3 and PSVita on March 9th. The latter release date places FIFA Street in direct competition with Mass Effect 3, also the work of EA, so it'll be interesting to see how it fares, especially with titles like Street Fighter X Tekken and SSX (developed by none other than...yes, you've got it, EA) due to ship in March too! We're also hearing rumours that Kinect Star Wars will release in April, as revealed in an Argos catalogue, but sources following this trail are still awaiting confirmation or dismissal from Microsoft Game Studios on the release window, so take this with a pinch of salt.

Call The Midwife Renewed For Second Season

The BBC have renewed their new drama Call The Midwife for a second series this week. Based around the memories of the late Jennifer Worth, the show focuses on a group of midwives, and is set in 1950s London. The first and second episodes were great success, averaging 9.8 and 8.6 million viewers respectively, so it's no wonder that another run has been commissioned. We'll see Jessica Raine, Vanessa Redgrave, Miranda Hart and all of the programme's lovable stars back for another round of eventful escapades in the Summer of 2013.

Monday, 23 January 2012

Birdsong Episode 1 Review (4.5/5)

I'm a little torn as to just how much I enjoyed the opening episode of Birdsong, the BBC's two-part adaptation of Sebastian Faulks' near-perfect Great War epic. On the one hand, we have a long list of stellar performances from each of the leads, with Eddie Reymande in particular giving a masterclass turn as Stephen Wraysford, and each empathetic, emotional moment spent with the beautifully crafted array of characters feels as if it's been pitched just right, not to border on cheesy as War Horse was occasionally accused of doing, but to ultimately provide another harrowing account of life at war just as that spectacular movie did earlier this same month. The narrative certainly doesn't seem have suffered at all in its transition onto the small screen either, carrying the same dark weight as its novelised inspiration of the countless deaths the conflict caused and the often unbearable toll the battles would take on people as young as my age, forced into the situation by conscription and unable to disobey the order to move up for fear of being court martialled and used as target practise for the Corps. However, where the team on this mostly sublime adaptation has falted a little in its direction- perhaps it's a matter of being unable to express something so beautifully described by Faulks on paper in on-screen dialogue, but nonetheless I would have thought there would have been ways around this with the handling of the budding romance between Stephen and Isabelle, here presented through a series of overly drawn-out shots of the couple gazing lustfully at each other in different locations, which ever-so-realistically leads to them engaging in all-out sex and eloping at the episode's climax. There were many occassions where I felt as if director Phillip Martin was trying to mimick period dramas like Pride and Prejudice and Downton Abbey with his shots and stylistic choices in terms of representing the blossoming romance that came to fruition in France just years before the dark days of war began, and that's a real shame, because he needn't have tried. Looking past the infrequent moments of awkward stares, Birdsong has the potential to become one of the best dramas of the year, once again proving just how much the British Broadcasting Corporation will dominate our television viewing in months to come. However, Martin and his team need to focus less on looking like the iconic greats of our time, and making Birdsong a great of its own right next week by honing in the direction of the piece, certainly if they wish to do Faulks' wonderful novel justice overall.

Project CARS Announced For WiiU

News on just what games we can actually expect (other than LEGO City Stories) for the Nintendo WiiU near its release this Winter has been pretty slim since Nintendo announced the console at last Summer's Electronic Entertainment Expo, but Slightly Mad Studios have finally beefed up the roster a little with the announcement that Project CARS will hit for the next-generation hardware next year. It's a risky move, especially seeing as the aforementioned project has yet to be picked up for a publisher in any of its ierations, yet perhaps the double-screened control method that could be born out of using the console may be just what the British studio to earn the trust of a big-name distributor. Project CARS is scheduled for release in 2013, while the WiiU is due to ship in the final quarter of 2012, with more date and pricing details set for confirmation at this year's E3 conference.

LittleBigPlanet 2 Muppets DLC Announced

Muppets Premium Level KitA DLC pack for LittleBigPlanet 2 based around the Muppets has been announced for release this week. Featuring Sackboy versions of famous puppet characters like Kermit the Frog, Fozzy Bear and Miss Piggy, as well as a host of iconic locations from Jim Henson's much-loved universe, the 'Muppets Premium Level Kit' is being made available to coincide with the much-anticipated release of The Muppets (i.e. the blockbuster movie) in the UK. New modes for the player to test out on LBP will include a brand new mini-story campaign with dozens of innovative levels, a variety of exciting mini-games and a 'Muppet Labs' character and item creator featuring tons of Muppet Show gags for diehard fans. The pack will be made available this Wednesday for £4.79 on the PlayStation Network, while The Muppets hits British cinemas everywhere on February 10th.

Aliens Vs. Wizards Announced

Remember when Russell T Davies worked on projects other than those related to Doctor Who and its spin-offs? I don't blame you if you don't, seeing as Davies headed the revamped sci-fi drama from 2005 to 2009, and helmed both Torchwood and The Sarah Jane Adventures until both shows met their apparent ends last year. Nevertheless, Russell is now returning with a brand new children's show, Aliens Vs. Wizards, on CBBC later this year. Set across twelve thirty-minute instalments, the new series will focus on teenage schoolboys Tom and Benny as they try to stop the evil Nekross from gaining their magical powers and enslaving the planet Earth. It sounds like a decent premise for what could well be a great spiritual successor to Sarah Jane with the passing of Elisabeth Sladen, and moreso it'll be great to see what Davies can do now he's free of the constraints of the Whoniverse. "Writing for children is the biggest challenge of all," says Russell, "and I think CBBC stands right at the heart of broadcasting...so I'm delighted to launch this show, a true nationwide collaboration- a wild, funny, thrilling and sometimes scary collision of magic and science fiction." Aliens Vs. Wizards will commence filming this Spring, and air on BBC1 over the Autumn season.

Resident Evil: Retribution Trailer Released

Clearly not content with announcing a whole new instalment in their game franchise for release this Winter, the Resident Evil team have gone one step further, providing the first full trailer for Retribution, the latest entry in the long-running movie series. Taking place soon after the events of Afterlife, Retribution sees Alice captured by the Umbrella organisation, forced into a quest to discover more about her past as she escapes the complex and returns to a world thrown in anarchy. The preview video has an air of this month's Underworld: Awakening about it, but we'll have to wait and see whether this sequel meets the same lukewarm critical reception as the aforementioned sci-fi thriller has. Resident Evil: Retribution arrives in cinemas worldwide on September 14th.

New Mass Effect 3 Details Revealed

The hype machine for colossal sci-fi gaming finale Mass Effect 3 is gearing into full force, as we have just over a month until we'll be getting our hands on BioWare's latest and greatest mission yet. GamesTrailers have revealed new details on the upcoming game: an early mission will take place on the planet Mars, which is known to hold a series of Prothean archives that if decrypted could provide the key to ending the universal invasion of the Reapers. Lucky for Shephard, he's got the help of his old friend (or flame, depending on how you played the original!), Asari Prothean expert Liara T'Soni, to find the truth. What could possibly go wrong? Oh, you had to ask...the Illusive Man's Cerberus team have reached the ruins of this ancient race of beings first, and they aren't planning to just let you walk in anytime soon! Prepare for an epic shootout to tutor you in the new combat system before you venture out into the big bad galaxy...Mass Effect 3 hits stores on March 9th.

UK Film Charts: January 16th-22nd

We've finally got a great new film out to go and see, and for once the British public has listened! Steven Spielberg's magnificent War Horse has topped this week's charts, beating newcomers Haywire, The Sitter and Underworld: Awakening and all of the Christmas blockbusters- may the good times continue...
10. PUSS IN BOOTS (3/5)
1. WAR HORSE (NEW, 5/5)

UK Gaming Charts: January 16th-22nd

FIFA 12's dominance of our British video game charts seems to be easily continuing in the midst of a bleak midwinter for games, and it's now the top-selling sports game ever! Hopefully, though, things will change after this week, when a tonne of exciting new titles hit our shores...
10. RAGE (8.5/10)
9. RAYMAN ORIGINS (9/10)- It's great to see this brilliant platformer finally make its much-deserved Top 10 debut!
8. ZUMBA FITNESS 2 (5/10)- Seriously, who is still buying these games?
6. ZUMBA FITNESS (5/10)- And again, please British parents, there are far better fitness games available!
5. BATTLEFIELD 3 (7/10)
4. CALL OF DUTY: MODERN WARFARE 3 (6/10)- A sign of change for this fledging franchise...?
3. JUST DANCE 3 (5/10)
1. FIFA 12 (8/10)

Sunday, 22 January 2012

Coming Up This Week: January 23rd-29th

This week's perhaps a quieter one on some fronts for the world of entertainment, but don't worry, as I've searched and found some of the best releases around that you can expect in the coming seven days...
AT THE MOVIES- A bizarre French 3D animation called A Monster In Paris hits cinemas this week, boasting a Tim Burton-esque style of dark colours and weird narrative threads, while a lighter rom-drama called Like Crazy, starring Felicity Jones, also arrives on the big screen. Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides makes its debut on Sky Movies Premiere, too.
SWITCH ON THE TELLY- Things get personal for the gangs in new episodes of Wild at Heart and Hustle...
ON THE SHELVES- You can catch the unmissable second season of Sherlock on DVD and Blu-Ray tomorrow; as well as the bold fourth series of Merlin; classic Doctor Who story The Sensorites; Pirahna-style horror Shark Night; Ryan Renyolds and Jason Bateman's switch-a-roo comedy The Change-Up and the wacky Kirsten Dunst drama Melancholia.
GAME ON- Moving on...(Yes, again! Don't worry, next week's when things begin to change for the bettter.)
WE'LL TAKE MANHATTAN- Doctor Who's Karen Gillian has been busy since concluding filming on Series Six, filming this realistic drama based around supermodel Jean Shrimpton. We'll Take Manhattan could well be another contributing factor of reason as to why the BBC will rule 2012's television roster.
BIRDSONG- If we really need a reason for that, though, we need only return to what appears to be yet again one of the year's finest dramas. I'll post my review of the brilliant opening episode to this stunning Faulks adaptation tomorrow, but sufficed to say that if you missed it, you need to catch up with Birdsong before it reaches its heart-pounding finale this Sunday!
OSCAR NOMINATIONS- Oh yes, this is the big one: the nominations for this year's Academy Awards are revealed on Wednesday. Will Harry Potter make the 'Best Picture' category as so many of its fans are praying? Can War Horse receive the recognition I believe it deserves? What surprises are ahead? Let the speculation conclude, as all is revealed...
NATIONAL TELEVISION AWARDS- Another set of awards, only this time we're about to find out which shows actually win them. Doctor Who; Merlin; Downton Abbey; The X Factor; Eastenders; I'm A Celebrity; An Idiot Abroad and many more British greats will enter the fray on Wednesday, but who will reign top? Minor speculation here- Who has always had an involvement in the show, so if it wins, perhaps expect confirmation of details on the 50th Anniversary or its broadcast schedule (optimistic, yes, but don't forget this ceremony is where we found out David Tennant would be departing!)

Filling The Doctor Who Void- News Roundup (16th-22nd January)

Another fairly quiet week for Who, albeit with a few interesting developments in the world outside of the programme for fans...

  • A new hardback Eleventh Doctor novel, Dark Horizons, has been announced. Following in the style of Michael Moorcock's Terraphiles and Dan Abnett's recent Silent Stars, the story will be a standalone, bumper-length adventure taking place in between The Wedding of River Song and The Doctor, The Widow and The Wardrobe (unless the Doctor remains 'alone' for most of Series 7, with the Ponds returning in some Earth-based stories to meet their "heartbreaking end"). It features "a people under attack from a power they cannot understand", "marauding Vikings with very bad timing" and "a ruthless alien force". 'Chicklit' author JT Colgan's Dark Horizons hits book retailers and eBook electronic markets in July.
  • The list of 2011's Top Viewed iPlayer episodes has been released by the BBC, and as per usual our favourite sci-fi has done well for itself- The Impossible Astronaut ranked as the 3rd most watched show of the year, Day of the Moon 8th, Let's Kill Hitler 13th, A Good Man Goes To War 16th, The Doctor's Wife 21st and The Curse of the Black Spot 25th. Let's see how the new series' first half fares with its Autumn timeslot later this year...
  • We've had a few more comments on the 2012/2013 run this week: Steven Moffat has promised "at least 14 episodes" including this year's Christmas Special, which I'm guessing means we'll see the series start in late October, air until Christmas, then return from late April until June, hence a full season, and then we'll get anniversary specials and the 2013 Christmas Special from October onwards; Seventh Doctor Sylvester McCoy has suggested that he'd love all of the Doctor actors to return as different characters in the 50th Anniversary special, which I reckon is a pretty original idea!
  • Finally, we've got the first screenshots from Doctor Who: The Eternity Clock, a new video game starring Matt Smith as the Doctor and Alex Kingston as River Song, below. The game will retail on download networks for PS3, PSVita and PC this Summer.
Doctor Who: The Eternity Clock 

Friday, 20 January 2012

Clone Wars, Glee Project To Return, Mongrels Cancelled

Just a quick one, this article is- we've had updates on the status of future seasons of three big TV shows this week...
  • Star Wars: The Clone Wars will return for a fifth series later this year. The 3D animation will explore the darker, saga-bending storylines that have made its third and fourth seasons such hits in the States recently, while placing more of a focus on the eventual fate of Ahsoka Tano, who for reasons undisclosed did not feature in the later films. Sky Movies Premiere have dropped the rights to the show here in the UK, so right now we're still waiting for Clone Wars to resume broadcast for Series Four- stay tuned for updates...
  • The Glee Project will also be back, for a second season. Once again, the makers of the hit US comedy/drama/musical programme will be on the hunt for new stars to make cameos and fully-fledged appearances in the show's fourth season, which will commence broadcast this Autumn. Expect Project to return to Sky1 shortly after its US debut.
  • Sadly, Mongrels, the recent BBC3 comedy drama, will not be renewed for a second series. Time for Doctor Who Confidential to return, now that some of the new shows on offer which the channel were hoping would replace it have failed to make a substantial impact?...
For all the latest updates on telly returns and cancellations, keep checking back at the blog!

Filling The Sherlock Void: News Round-Up (16th-22nd January)

More than ever, news on the third series of Sherlock has been constantly flooding in this week (and with good reason, as teased later...), so if this stays the case in days to come, I'll keep posting all of the updates on the latest season. For now, here's a round-up of the biggest announcements of the past seven days...
  • Firstly, more of an admin piece- Silva Screen Records have confirmed that hot on the heels of the release of their soundtrack for Sherlock Series One later this month, a second soundtrack for the newest season of the show will be released in late February, covering the music of A Scandal In Belgravia, The Hounds of Baskerville and The Reichenbach Fall. Listen out- could there be hints in the last few tracks as to how Mr Holmes survived? I know, wishful thinking...or is it?
  • "I've been online and read the theories," says Steven Moffat of the resolution to Reichenbach, "and there's one clue that everyone's missed." Wow. I thought fans had scraped just about everything from the preceding 89 minutes of the finale, but if the Moff is to be trusted (and I'm sure he is), then "Sherlock did something very out of character, which nobody has picked up on." If no one manages to find it before the show returns, what a surprise it'll be!
  • And Steven couldn't shut up there, either, revealing to the Guardian one more juicy morsel about the third series, this time in terms of its broadcast schedule. Moffat hopes that the third season of Sherlock will have aired "hopefully before the year's out". That means scheduling things around Martin Freeman and Benedict Cumberbatch's filming of big movies like The Hobbit and Star Trek 2, but the Moff assured us that some of the scenes resolving Series 2's cliffhanger have already been shot, and unless he meant he wants the episodes to air before the end of 2013, we could have some very exciting times ahead in the next eleventh months for the world of television...
I'd expect more updates on Sherlock's future in the next few days, and if that's the case, I'll provide a round-up of them all next Sunday.

First Soul Calibur V Reviews Arrive

Next month looks to finally kick off the year in video gaming with a massive bang, featuring a host of exciting returning franchises with a few potential gems among them. One such returnee is Soul Calibur V, the latest entry in Namco's successful side-scrolling fighter series that introduces Assassin's Creed II, Brotherhood and Revelations protagonist Ezio Auditore da Firenze into the mix in its new Renaissance era setting. Xbox World 360 have provided the first full review of the final product, giving it a hefty 89%. The magazine says that "Soul Calibur V is easier to get to grips with than its predecessors, and still retains the special charm of the series, the weapons fast and deadly, the battles where one false move is everything." However, World does go on to criticise some of the storyline's lacklustre cut-scenes and narrative developments, so if you're looking for any kind of deep plotline to come tagged along with the lengthy brawler campaign you may well want to look elsewhere. Other than that, though, it seems that Namco have successfully provided the first big game of the year- as PSM3 agree with their 89% score too- throwing down the gauntlet to the rest of the industry to offer us more exciting surprises in months to come...Soul Calibur V hits stores on February 3rd.

New Test Drive, Olympics Games Announced

Video game developers Slightly Mad Studios and SEGA have announced their new projects, Test Drive: Ferrari and London 2012- The Official Video Game Of The Olympic Games respectively, this week. The press release for London 2012, an intense sports game which will hopefully accurately represent the big Summer events, utilising both the PlayStation 3's Move and the Xbox 360's Kinect camera, is as follows:
"We are proud to offer the Great British public the chance to actually experience the excitement and pride of taking part in London 2012. With all new Olympic events and everyone's favourite sports brought to life with the latest video gaming technology, everyone will be able to participate in the Games from their own home."
Based on past Olympic video game efforts (Mario and Sonic not withstanding), I'd dispute the claim that this beats the real thing, but nevertheless I'm sure it'll sell by the dozen thanks to patriotic Zumba Fitness lovers who seem to thrive in the Summer slump of exciting new titles. London 2012 releases this July, while Test Drive: Ferrari, an enhanced and realistic simulation of the real F1 experience involving the Ferrari car franchise, is due for release in Q3 2012.

Spielberg Talks Tintin 2, Jurassic Park 4

Steven Spielberg's been in my good books recently, having given the world both Super 8 (my third-best Film of 2011) and War Horse (likely to favour well in this year's Top 15 Best Films list too) in the space of just six months, plus the brilliant animated movie The Adventures of Tintin, my review of which will be up next month. In the midst of promoting his latest horse-tastic flick, Spielberg has shed a little bit of light on what surprises the next Tintin film may hold for fans of the classic novels: "I'm not going to say which stories have been chosen for Peter Jackson's sequel because Peter and I agreed that we weren't going to let that information out yet, the script is now being written. It's more than one book, but not three books, so that means it's two books. It's two and a half books that we're combining with Secret of the Unicorn [the first film]." Steven also quickly mentioned Jurassic Park 4, although he couldn't go into much detail in that area, stating that "I'm not directing it...I'm producing it, though". We'll bring you more updates on these two big projects as they come throughout the next few months.

Trouble At THQ?

File:THQ logo 2011.svgBear in mind that the majority of this article is based on rumours and speculation, but more than usual (I won't generally post about unconfirmed matters), these seem to have some bearing or truth behind them. If games journalists are to be believed, then developer and publisher THQ may have run in to some financial troubles that may well put their future status into question. Here's what the company themselves had to say when they were accused of canning their 2014 video games line-up prior to shutting down that year, earlier this week:
"THQ has not cancelled its 2014 line-up. As part of the ongoing review of our business, we have made decisions to ensure that the company is strategically addressing the most attractive markets. Our slate for calendar 2012 and beyond is focused on high-quality core games and continues to build our digital platforms and business. We are excited for our pipeline of original and high-quality content along with our relationships with some of the biggest talents in the industry."
Perhaps a bit too much emphasis is placed there on the 'high-quality' description, although I guess when you're shipping titles like WWE and Homefront in amongst brilliant entries like Saint's Row: The Third, it's better to assure us there's still good times ahead. For now, everything's up in the air- THQ will be releasing Metro: Last Light, UFC Undisputed 3, Darksiders 2 and South Park: The Game later in 2012.

Jack The Giant Killer Delayed To 2013

This month seems to be a prime target for delay announcements- Hansel And Gretel: Witch Hunters was confirmed to have been pushed back to next year, Ghost Recon: Future Soldier and Max Payne 3 from March to May- and that trend has continued today with Warner Bros' revelation that fantasy flick Jack The Giant Killer will no longer release this Summer as planned, but early next year instead. The new film follows its fairytale protagonist caught in the middle of a Middle-Earth-esque war between humans and giants, and stars Nicholas Hoult, Ian McShane and Bill Nighy. Very little footage had been released of this one, and considering if it had released in June the film would have gone up against Prometheus and Rock of Ages, maybe it's for the best that it was delayed. Whatever the cost to 2012's Summer of Film (and let's be honest, it appears pretty minimal), adding Giant Killer to next year's movie roster backs up an already strong line-up, including A Good Day To Die Hard, Arthur & Lancelot, Percy Jackson: The Sea Of Monsters, Iron Man 3, Star Trek 2, Man of Steel, Thor 2, Monsters University, Despicable Me 2, Grown Ups 2, The Hunger Games: Catching Fire and The Hobbit: There And Back Again! Jack The Giant Killer is now set for worldwide debut in January 2013.

British Film Week To Be Implemented?

Over at the Houses of Parliament, Lord Smith has been proposing quite a radical new annual event which could be implemented from as early as this year- a British Film Week! In the midst of what Smith called a "golden period" for British films- and what with Attack the Block, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, The Inbetweeners Movie and Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy having been produced here in 2011, I'm inclined to agree- he elected to create a week where "audiences across the UK [could] access the full spectrum of British film, giving them a full insight into its breadth, depth, and originality", the core goal of the initative being to "re-establish the brand of the British film." If David Cameron and the other representatives of our government would be prepared to stand behind the initative and back it as a fully-blown annual event which could continually evolve and develop, then I for one would love to see an emphasis be placed on the wide variety of home-grown UK movies we've had in the past, especially if it could hold any possibility of broadening worldwide appreciation of our strong positioning within the film industry. Keep checking back here at the blog for updates on the initiative's progress in Parliament, and when we might see the British Film Week commence.

IGN's Game Of The Year 2011 Announced

IGN have revealed their choice for the Best Video Game released in 2011. As with the Golden Joystick Awards and GamesRadar's own award, the online site has gone for Portal 2, the brilliant, hilarious puzzle adventure game released for Xbox 360, PlayStation 3 and PC last April. I have to admit, it was a close call between Valve's latest epic and Batman: Arkham City for my personal pick for Game of the Year in 2011, and Rocksteady only just managed to edge out their hefty competition, but the various awards the sequel has been recieving as of late are a great indication that critics look past the intense Autumn line-up of predictable shooters, remakes and sequels to find a original, unique video game which truly defines what the industry should be about in this day and age. Congratulations to Valve- here's hoping that we get Portal 3, or a brand-new innovative offering from the developer in the not-too-distant future...

Thursday, 19 January 2012

The Hunger Games 2- Writer, Director Confirmed

We haven't got too long now to wait until The Hunger Games, Liongate's big screen adaptation of Suzanne Collins' fantastic teen fantasy novel, arrives in British cinemas, but so confident are Lionsgate that it's going to be a success, they've announced the writer and director for a sequel. Based on Catching Fire, the second instalment in the book series, the new film will be written by Simon Beaufoy and directed by Nick Ross, the latter of whom helmed the first movie so clearly knows what he's doing. I always think it's a bit of a gamble to commission a sequel before the first film succeeds or bombs, yet it's becoming more and more of a trend- just look at Pirates of the Caribbean, Star Wars or more recently The Amazing Spider-Man and Twilight, and you'll see that distributors rarely wait for the green light of critical or commercial success to go ahead for another entry. The approach seems to have cost the Percy Jackson series, which will have held off on its sequel for three years once The Sea Of Monsters debuts in Summer 2013. Nevertheless, trailers so far for The Hunger Games have been very promising, and whatever the outcome, we and Lionsgate will come to realise if a film franchise is a viable option for Collins' works when it hits cinemas on March 23rd.

1999 Mode Announced For BioShock Infinite

BioShock Infinite is looking like one of the biggest and best video game releases of 2012, and for hardened fans of the franchise things can only get better, as developer Irrational Games have today revealed the '1999' mode. This extra difficulty level has players watching for the consequences of their actions a lot more intently, conserving ammunition and stamina where necessary for the boss battles ahead and to survive the events of the already-intense storyline. Here's creator Ken Levine's thoughts on the newly confirmed mode: "We want to give our oldest and most committed fans an option to go back to our roots. In 1999 mode, games face more of the permenant consequences of their gameplay decisions. In addition, 1999 Mode will demand that players pick specialisations, and focus on them." I can't wait to see what BioShock Infinite has in store, and with any luck we'll be finding out in the Summer months of the year rather than the much-vaunted and risky Autumn of Gaming!

Resident Evil 6 Announced

Starting off what promises to be a big few weeks for video game announcements, Capcom have confirmed that Resident Evil 6 is in development, set to be released before the end of the year. The publisher revealed a storyline synopsis with the announcement of the new horror-shooter..."It has been ten years since the Racoon City incident and the President of the United States has decided to reveal the truth behind what took place in the hope that it will curb the current resurgence in bioterrorist activity. Due to be by his side is Racoon City survivor Leon S. Kennedy, but when the venue suffers a bioterrorist surge, Leon is forced to face a President transformed beyond recognition and face his hardest ever decision. At the same time, Bioterrorist Security Assessment Alliance member Chris Redfield arrives in China, itself under the threat of bioterrorist attack. With no country safe from these attacks and the ensuing outbreaks, the entire world's population is united by a common fear that there is no hope left." It's an exciting premise, to be sure, and the gameplay's already looking a storm, but will the new Resi bring back scares over action setpieces or be forced down a more linear path like its 2009 predecessor? We'll find out this Winter; Resident Evil 6 hits Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 on November 20th.

Wednesday, 18 January 2012

Mass Effect 3 Demo Coming Next Month

Anyone (like me) who was sad to hear Max Payne had been pushed back from its March release window yesterday should still be able to rejoice in the knowledge that March yet contains perhaps the biggest video game of 2012- Mass Effect 3. To sate our appetites, BioWare have announced that two demos for the title will be released next month: the first will be a level from the single-player campaign, featuring Kinect support for Xbox Live players, and the second a map from the multi-player Galaxy At War segment, available early to anyone who bought publisher EA's last big shooter, Battlefield 3. No matter which preview you choose, expect a refined, fast-paced taster of the game I named my Most Anticipated Video Game of 2012! The single-player demo is out on Valentine's Day, the multi-player on February 17th and Mass Effect 3 itself retails on March 9th.

American Pie: The Reunion Trailer Released

The first trailer for American Pie: The Reunion, the much-anticipated fourth film in the hilarious American Pie franchise, has now been released online. Reunion follows the gang at their high-school reunion as an all manner of tear-inducing hi jinks get underway, leading to one heck of a get-together! As always, it's not going to be everyone's cup of tea, even if you loved the likes of The Hangover and Bridesmaids, but if you've enjoyed the series so far, there'll be laughs aplenty in store for you when American Pie: The Reunion hits cinemas on April 6th.