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Thursday, 31 May 2012

June 2012: Top 5 Most Anticipated Releases

Prometheus heads up a killer list of new releases as we head into the halfway point of 2012 already!
It's pretty darn hard to comprehend that we're now halfway through 2012. Considering that to me, seeing releases like War Horse and The Muppets in the first two months feels like barely weeks ago, it shows how fast the whole year appears to be moving! Without further ado, then, to ease the shock let's look at the biggest and best releases heading our way in June (the 'May 2012: Best Release' article will arrive shortly, once I've posted the review of said release)...
5. THE AMAZING SPIDER-MAN: THE GAME- By the time this tie-in comes to retail, there'll just be a few days until the new reboot Spider-Man film hits cinemas. Marketing is crucial here, but hopefully this ambitious epilogue project will succeed alongside the flick. (Friday 29th)
4. LEGO BATMAN 2: DC SUPER HEROES- I would wager that few LEGO fans would call the Dark Knight's first blocky video game outing their favourite Batman or LEGO game. However, TT Games look to be righting their wrongs for the sequel, introducing more characters than ever and a whole open-world Gotham City to explore! (Friday 22nd)
3. ROCK OF AGES- Although musical movies aren't for everyone, the success of Mamma Mia and The Muppets showed there's still a huge appetite for them, and with Tom Cruise, Catherine Zeta-Jones, Russell Brand, Alec Baldwin and countless other stars attached to Rock Of Ages I have no doubt it'll go down a storm all the same. (Wednesday 13th)
2. THE MAKING OF HARRY POTTER STUDIO TOUR- As promised, I'll be bringing you the WORLD EXCLUSIVE verdict on one of Britain's most hotly visited new landmark attractions this month too. Yep, it's no wonder I'm so pumped to see the Harry Potter Studio Tour in action after so many months of waiting...
1. PROMETHEUS- Ridley Scott's epic science-fiction thriller has to mark the high point of the coming month in terms of my sheer excitement, though. I'm desperate to see how Prometheus ties in with its Xenomorph heritage while tangentalising upon the original franchise's themes and questions! (Friday 1st)

Who News: New Writer, Companion Details Revealed

More juicy details on Series Seven arrive from DWM and filming snippets!
There's just a couple of a months left now until Doctor Who returns to our screens, and so in the midst of the rising anticipation more and more details on the upcoming seventh season are trickling out. This week, we've discovered from DWM that Neil Cross- the creator of hit BBC drama Luther- will pen an episode of the early 2013 eight-episode run that begins to build towards the fiftieth anniversary. Cross is a newcomer to the world of science-fiction, and thus it should be interesting to see an 'outsider''s take on the Whoniverse. If we take the rough confirmed list of writers for Series Seven, then we can begin to map out a guide of sorts to the season as a whole, which I'll put at the bottom of the post. Another detail that's seeped out from filming is that Jenna-Louise Coleman's new companion character is alledgedly named Clara. There is speculation that Clara is actually an alien- could it be that she adopts this name as a human guise...? Doctor Who returns in September. Here's the preview guide to what we know so far...
EPISODE ONE: ASYLUM OF THE DALEKS- Steven Moffat (September 8th, 2012)
EPISODE TWO: DINOSAURS ON A SPACESHIP- Chris Chibnall (September 15th)
EPISODE THREE: THE GUNSLINGER- Toby Whithouse (September 22nd)
EPISODE FOUR: CUBED- Chris Chibnall (September 29th)
EPISODE SIX: CHRISTMAS SPECIAL- Steven Moffat (December 25th)
Those six episodes are confirmed bar specific dates, the next eight are more guesses.
EPISODE SEVEN- Steven Moffat (March 30th, 2013)
EPISODE EIGHT- Tom McRae (April 6th)
EPISODE NINE- John Fay (April 13th)
EPISODE TEN- Mark Gatiss (April 20th)
EPISODE ELEVEN- Neil Cross (April 27th)
EPISODE TWELVE- Steve Thompson (May 4th)
EPISODE THIRTEEN- Toby Whithouse (May 11th)
EPISODE FOURTEEN- Steven Moffat (May 18th)

New Gears Of War Game Debuted

New Gears of WarE3 will see another big new reveal from Microsoft!
As if Xbox fans weren't already excited enough for Microsoft's Xbox Entertainment Evolved E3 conference, another teasing cat has been pulled out of the bag by Game Informer today with the revelation that they'll soon be covering a newly announced Gears Of War game. Rumour has it this is a prequel to the main trilogy of 360-exclusives, possibly incorporating some kind of Kinect support as per the cancelled Exile project. Either way, you can see the new mag's cover, albeit without the game's title, to the left here, so make of it what you will! With Halo 4, Forza Horizon, Fable: The Journey, Call Of Duty: Black Ops II, Hitman: Absolution, Tomb Raider, Kinect Sports 3 (let's be honest, it's coming) and now this tantalising new project from Bulletstorm developer People Can Fly already set for their conference, Microsoft have definitely got a strong offering for E3 this time around. Let's just hope the surprises they've still got up their sleeves are big enough to compensate for the lack of a new console reveal...Xbox Entertainment Evolved commences broadcast on YouTube and other live streams at 5.30pm on Monday, June 4th.

Dawn Of The Planet Of The Apes Announced

The sequel to 2011's primate epic is on its way...
Those of you who follow the blog might recall that I named Rise Of The Planet Of The Apes my Film Of The Year 2011, blown away by its staggering CGI, its thought-provoking storyline and above all its empathetic ape protagonist. We've now got confirmation from 20th Century Fox that a sequel called Dawn Of The Planet Of The Apes is going to be made as a follow-up to Rise in the near future. The film distributors have yet to give any plot details on this second instalment in the rebooted franchise, but it's safe to assume that Ape rebel leader Caesar (portrayed superbly by Andy Serkis) will return and that the virus that had begun to spread across mankind come the credits of the original will start to take its toll in a way that could weave together elements of the disbanded series lore. There's still a long way to go yet until we see Dawn Of The Planet Of The Apes, with a release date of May 23rd, 2014 currently set for the project, yet it's at least comforting to have a title and firm reassurance that the sequel is heading into production!

First Les Miserables Trailer Debuts

Our first look at 2013's biggest musical movie!
In a fortnight's time, we'll be getting a brand new West End movie adaptation in the form of Rock Of Ages. This exciting new rock production-turned-film sets a great precedent along with the brilliant Muppets and The Artist of a return of a focus on music in the film industry, a trend set to be followed up by Les Miserables. Telling the tale of a young prostitute who strives for something greater than sex and subjective gain, this is truly a monumental stage production, so it's no wonder the team adapting it have enlisted stars such as Amanda Seyfried, Anne Hatheway, Russell Crowe and Hugh Jackman for the job of leading the show. The first newly-released trailer appears poignant and emotional, a strong indicator of the high quality that may well follow the film! Les Miserables hits cinemas on January 11th, 2013.

E3 2012: Top 10 Most Anticipated Games

The biggest titles we'll see at the most anticipated event for this industry of 2012!
When the Electronic Entertainment Expo kicks off in four days' time, the wealth of video gaming news that'll flood onto the interweb (and of course this blog) will be almost impossible to stay on top of. As such, I thought that it would be a good idea to let you know what the ten games you should be keeping an eye on in particular over the course of the next week are, with support for each and when you can expect to see each of them presented on the show. I've stuck with games that are definitely going to release in 2012, as the 2013 releases will be covered in more detail at a later date in their promotional campaigns. So, without further ado...
10. CALL OF DUTY: BLACK OPS II: Whatever you do, don't discount Activision's latest entry in the Call Of Duty franchise from the race. Despite being the follow-up to one of the lesser regarded instalments, Black Ops II's new setting, warfare options and branching storyline might well make it the modern warfare first-person shooter to watch at the show. (Monday, June 4th- Microsoft Conference)
9.  PLAYSTAION ALL-STARS BATTLE ROYALE: Sony's attempt to cash in on the Smash Bros. formula has been met with mixed reception so far. Expect the games publisher to unveil countless tempting characters and arenas for players to indulge themselves in as a celebration of all the success that the PlayStation 3 and its new IPs have met in this generation. (Tuesday, June 5th- Sony Conference)
8. HITMAN: ABSOLUTION: Square Enix are bringing back the Original Assassin this November, and now is as good as time as any for the team to unveil Absolution in full. After worries were rising that the game was getting too action-orientated, I wouldn't be completely surprised if the devs showed off a stealth sequence to quell any fears in advance of their promo campaign reaching its peak this Autumn. (Monday, June 4th- Microsoft Conference)
7. NEW SUPER MARIO BROS WIIU: If there's one thing you can count on for the WiiU, it's that New Super Mario Bros Mii (or whatever the HD sequel comes to be called) will be amongst its launch line-up. That means Nintendo will be dead keen on giving a full gameplay preview on the showfloor to finally win their naysayers over on the new next-gen console, (Tuesday, June 5th- Nintendo Conference)
6. MARVEL'S AVENGERS: BATTLE FOR EARTH: Perhaps I'm just putting this one on the list as a major fan of Avengers Assemble. Then again, perhaps not...Either way, this Kinect/WiiU belated movie tie-in may well turn heads on the showfloor if Ubisoft manage to convince us that it's worth a purchase for some seriously entertaining superhero action. (Monday, June 4th- Microsoft Conference; Ubisoft Conference; Tuesday, June 5th- Nintendo Conference)
5. DISHONORED: Bethesda need to ensure that they once again stamp their mark on the RPG video games industry in the remainder of 2012. Steampunk action thriller Dishonored looks to be the way they plan on doing that, and thus we can probably expect loads of new footage and a gameplay demo to savour very soon! (Thursday, May 31st- Spike TV Pre-E3 Show; Watch For Previews On Online Sites Next Week)
4. THE LAST OF US: Ever since its Spike VGAs unveiling last Winter, The Last Of Us has stood out as a stunning new reason to purchase a PS3 in its final days. It's now time for Naughty Dog to prove that their new project warrants such prestigious early acclaim, and given the pure spectacle of their previous Uncharted showings I expect nothing less than an astounding demo here. (Tuesday, June 5th- Sony Conference)
3. RAYMAN LEGENDS: Thanks to a rather troublesome leaked trailer being revealed earlier this year, Ubisoft's Rayman Legends let the cat out of the bag a little quickly through some of its action figure-compatible WiiU functionality. All the same, it promises to be a fantastic sequel to one of 2011's greatest games, and you can probably expect a stunning level walkthrough from Ubisoft to premiere the new entry in the Rayman franchise. (Monday, June 4th- Ubisoft Conference; Tuesday, June 5th- Nintendo Conference)
2. HALO 4: If ever there was a time for Microsoft to prove that Halo 4 deserves to be virtually the sole centrepiece of their exclusive offerings for Xbox 360 this year, it's right now at E3. I have no doubt whatsoever that what we see of 343 Industries' first take on the franchise will be nothing less than shocking and utterly stunning, and as such I can't wait for its conference debut to roll around! (Monday, June 4th- Microsoft Conference)
1. ASSASSIN'S CREED III: It's hard to tell whether Ubisoft will debut Assassin's Creed III on Sony's stage as well as their own, given them having handed the gaming behemoth an exclusive freebie in the form of the original game with Revelations. No matter what happens, though, the wait is terribly agonising for ACIII simply because we've seen so little of it, and in the case of a developer with such strong a reputation as Ubisoft Montreal, that can only mean very exciting things are coming next week...(Monday, June 4th- Ubisoft Conference)
AND...It's important, of course, not to forget that these ten games are by no means the only titles you'll find on offer at E3, quite the opposite. Not to daunt (or thrill) you further, but all of these games will be on show at the Expo too and thus the vast majority of them will get some kind of coverage here at the blog...breath in for a second! Ready? Okay: Borderlands 2; XCOM; XCOM- Enemy Unknown; 007 Legends; Skylanders Giants; The Amazing Spider-Man; Transformers: Fall Of Cybertron; Prey 2; The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim- Dawnguard; Elder Scrolls Online; Devil May Cry; Lost Planet 3; Resident Evil 6; Crysis 3; FIFA 13; Medal Of Honor: Warfighter; Need For Speed: Most Wanted; SimCity; Rock Band Blitz; Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance; Fable: The Journey; Forza Horizon; Star Trek: The Game; Animal Crossing; Luigi's Mansion 2; New Super Mario Bros 2; Paper Mario; Pikmin 3; Aliens: Colonial Marines; Sonic All-Stars Racing Transformed; God Of War: Ascenscion; Ratchet & Clank: Full Frontal Assault; Sly Cooper: Thieves In Time; Sleeping Dogs; Kingdom Hearts HD Remix; Tomb Raider; Dead Or Alive 5; Darksiders II; Homefront 2; inSANE; Metro: Last Light; South Park: The Stick Of Truth; LEGO City Stories; LEGO Lord Of The Rings; Far Cry 3 and Tom Clancy's Rainbow Six: Patriots! And if you think it'll be hard trying to keep on top of all the coverage, try writing about it...!

Alien Week: Days Three & Four

Time to recall two of the least-fondly remembered franchise instalments, and look at what might be ahead...
Ridley Scott's Alien franchise has certainly acquired an iconic status the likes of which barely any other science-fiction saga bar perhaps Star Wars has ever hoped to attain. This week, we'll be looking at just whether all of the praise heaped upon this legendary cult series is deserved, with reviews of each and every one of its instalments up to and including the new movie Prometheus. Today's post is a double-(or rather triple-)barreled piece where we'll provide a retrospective on the two Alien VS. Predator movies then preview tomorrow's big new movie in full...
ALIEN VS PREDATOR: In terms of mass uproar targeted at a specific film in the past decade or so, Alien VS Predator nearly tops Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace. That's quite a feat, but strangely enough when I sat down with this much-hated horror 'team-up', I couldn't help but be enthralled by the dark and anticipated conflict between the world's most famous extraterresterials and its most famous invisible hunters. It is clear that the opening- where a team of experts is called in to investigate a strange underground pyramid- parallels the other Alien flicks in the most blatant way possible. From there, though, things really get shaken up, and viewers truly won't know which way to turn as the intrepid team of explorers rile the almighty Predators, who in turn spark the attention of everyone's favourite blood-spilling Xenomorphs, leading to a devestating war where inevitably the human race seem at a major disadvantage. To see the archetypal characters of the AVP franchise unite on the basis of 'the enemy of my enemy is my friend' is a captivating turn of events for what had up until now on both fronts been becoming a predictable series where the odds were never in our favour, and certainly it lends a degree of scale and danger to the finale that really pays off in a way that none of the other Alien films ever did. Technically, the film reaches new heights, pulling off some stunning CGI battles that won't fail to captivate newcomers or fans alike, and the cast (while by no means perfect) do a markedly better job than either of the lacklustre rosters of Alien 3 or Resurrection. The disjointed pacing of the piece does mean that Alien VS Predator is by no means perfect, yet to me it stands in a higher position of quality than either of the final two standalone Xenomorph entries, almost peaking to the same heights as Ridley Scott's original over a decade after its release.
AVP REQUIEM: If Alien VS Predator had given me hope yet for the franchise, though, then its unnecessary sequel Requiem quickly dispells such optimism with a flick of its ugly tail. Picking up the narrative from where AVP left off, as an Alien-Predator hybrid hatchling tears apart the spaceship of the latter species and begins to wreak havoc in a small American town, this second 'team-up' instalment seems lacking in direction right from the outset. Essentially it all boils down to a series of grisly stereotypical-horror setpieces, all of which contribute little to the haphazard plot that was clearly pieced together in the hope of attaining mass earnings back in 2007. It's fundamental to realise that the financial success of Alien VS Predator would have proved a key deciding factor in the choice to make a sequel, and so the writing team don't seem to have a care in the world as to whether fans enjoy this simply because they knew their fanbase would go and watch the film regardless of warnings and the signs. This time around, I can't praise either the SFX or the cast, all of whom are forgettable and feel as if they were picked up on the barest of contractual legislation. Whereas AVP most certainly has its moments and is watchable fanfare, Alien Vs Predator 2: Requiem is a dire piece of cinematic storytelling that fails to live up to any of its minor promises and as such can completely be regarded as the notable failure that fans are so fast to mention when recalling the overall Alien franchise.
PROMETHEUS PREDICTIONS: And so we reach Prometheus, the latest entry in the Alien franchise from Ridley Scott himself. Scott has teased recently that this prequel to his 1979 original will "tangentalise" upon the series' lore, investigating the Space Jockey who was glimpsed in his stunning initial epic. I would imagine that this so-called Guardian discovered on the planet LV-426 by the crew of the Nostromo was either crafted by or used by a higher intelligence in order to fulfill a greater purpose, such as protecting the galaxy from the Xenomorphs. Perhaps it was those famed alien creatures who, as seen in the trailers, wanted to use the Space Jockey's ship to reach Earth, and thus for some reason the only way the Guardian could stop them was to sit upon the fabled seat we see him entombed on in the opening scenes of Alien. I would not advise that we expect a full resolution or tie-in to the original here, seeing as it looks as if Scott will pose both philosophical and franchise-related questions here, but if Prometheus performs successfully at the box office, then we might see more revealed in a sequel. Reception so far to the film has been mixed (Den Of Geek awarded it just 2 stars, while Total Film went for 4/5), with an average score of 63% having been found by Metacritic, yet you'll be able to get the definitive, exclusive movie-goer's verdict tomorrow on the day of release right here at On-Screen. Look out for the review tomorrow night, and prepare for Prometheus to land...

Tuesday, 29 May 2012

Alien Week: Day Two

Let's look at the two 'lesser' instalments of the Alien series- are they all that bad...?
Ridley Scott's Alien franchise has certainly acquired an iconic status the likes of which barely any other science-fiction saga bar perhaps Star Wars has ever hoped to attain. This week, we'll be looking at just whether all of the praise heaped upon this legendary cult series is deserved, with reviews of each and every one of its instalments up to and including the new movie Prometheus. Today, we're rating both the infamous Alien 3 and the final entry in the main series up until now, Alien: Resurrection...
ALIEN 3: Well, if you're going to kill off two of the main characters in a franchise, if there's one thing that Alien 3 teaches us right from the off it's how not to do it. By axing fan favourite protagonists Newt and Hicks from the series in the most undignified way possible during the film's opening sequence, the writers set a dangerous precedent for what quickly descends into an utterly dire third entry. The Xenomorphs are once again back to wreak havoc as one of them stows away in the Sulaco and forces Ripley into a crazed religious prison, leading to an all manner of repetitive confrontations that do their best to rip off the largely more successful Aliens and suffer all the worse for it. Neither does it help that the acting here is downright abysmal- you have to wonder if stars like Sigourney Weaver and Ron Pearlman realised early on that the script was rubbish and so put in the bare minimum amount of effort to earn their hefty paycheck. There are a few fear-inducing sequences of claustraphobia and tension that stop Alien 3 from being a total disaster, but they're so far inbetween that it's hardly compensation for one of the most disappointing third acts in a series in a good while.
ALIEN RESURRECTION: But if Alien 3 was merely a hint of how low the franchise could fall, then Resurrection sealed the nail on the coffin for the franchise as a whole. Quite why anyone thought it would be a good idea to bring back Ripley from the dead for yet another battle against her old enemies is beyond me, but things are so damn predictable by this point that the whole thing becomes almost unwatchable. It's rare that I can actually struggle to sit through a movie, but this was one of those instances, not helped by the rapidly decaying SFX budget, even worse portrayals of archetypal characters which come nowhere close to their great predecessors and above all a plot that reeks of cash-grabbing nature just as much as the Call Of Duty franchise now so often does. There's an overriding sense of pointlessness to the entire experience, and quite frankly I'm surprised few cinema-goers didn't leave the auditorium out of shame at the time of release. Quite honestly, I would have considered doing so, and that is saying something. It's no wonder that it's taken over a decade for a 'reboot', and even then one which thankfully elects to widen the series mythology with new threats and concepts rather than recycle an old-hash horror plot as Alien: Resurrection so blatantly does with little-to-no grace.

E3 2012: Predictions

What surprises will this year's expo hold?
What will all the build-up the gaming press have given to this year's E3 Expo, it's hard to believe that the event itself is just around the corner. And yet here we are, with just a couple of days to go until it all kicks off. Here are a list of my predictions for the exciting week we have ahead of us...
HALO 4- It's no secret that Microsoft will want to utilise their flagship game of 2012, 343 Industries' first sci-fi foray in Halo 4, to their absolute advantage by showcasing a brand new demo of the game with its new planet, new enemies and new narrative off to the world. Expect surprises galore, plus some kind of Kinect integration a la Combat Evolved Anniversary.
KINECT- And speaking of Kinect, as ever don't be surprised to see the 360's nifty motion peripheral pop up on countless occassions throughout their conference. I'd predict we'll see Kinect Sports: Season Three, Dance Central 3, Harry Potter For Kinect, Ryse, Fable: The Journey, Forza Horizon and Marvel Avengers: Battle For Earth all shown off in the 90 minute showing, as well as perhaps integration into a few other core titles.
THIRD PARTY SUPPORT- Of course, Microsoft know they have the backing of an infinite number of third-party developers too. As such, as they promote 'Entertainment Evolved', expect titles including Call Of Duty: Black Ops II, Darksiders II, Transformers: Fall Of Cybertron, Lost Planet 3 and the new Star Wars game franchise to crop up in some form or another.
A NEW IP- If we're lucky some of the biggest head honchos in gaming will also have stumbled onto the realisation that Halo, Fable, Gears and Forza alone cannot carry the Xbox 360's weight, and as such hopefully there'll be a new franchise of some kind to speak of too. With any luck, it'll have the annual status that can get it to the right level of fame for a sequel to form part of next Winter's 720 launch line-up.
THE FUTURE- Although I doubt big time that we'll see any sign of the next Xbox at the conference, I have no doubt that the console will be teased in some form. On top of that, expect a few BIG surprises for 2013 releases above those I've mentioned so Microsoft can keep ahold of its 360 fanbase in the console's final months.
VITA- Sony's portable console has been met with mixed reception so far due to the lack of killer apps. If there's one thing that Sony's conference will attempt to do, it's fix that in any concievable way possible. Expect appearances from Assassin's Creed, Call Of Duty, FIFA and other potential big Vita ports/spin-off at their conference.
THE LAST OF US- Naughty Dog are back for another round of thriller action with The Last Of Us, so now we can probably expect a full gameplay reveal along with a release window (and/or specific date) and launch details for this highly anticipated adventure.
MOVE'S RESURRECTION- Sony will likely be eager to get their Move peripheral back off the ground too. Like The Amazing Spider-Man, I'd say we'll get loads of Move-integrated third-party titles shown off here just as Microsoft will do with Kinect and Nintendo with WiiU ports.
GOD OF WAR: ASCENSION- Not too long ago now, Sony revealed a new God Of War prequel was on its way in 2013. Expect to see loads more of that through gameplay and the first release details showcased at the conference.
HD COLLECTIONS- One of the PS3's core marketing strengths for cult fandom has been its ability to revive old franchises like Jak & Daxter and Devil May Cry. I would anticipate that Sony will play on this strength further here, revealing all new HD collections for fans to indulge in.
THE FUTURE- Again, Sony will be eager to ensure that fans have plenty of reasons to stick with their PS3 consoles for at least another year. I would imagine the PlayStation 4 will launch in early 2014, so don't expect much (if anything) in the way of reveals for it here other than perhaps the odd hint.
WIIU- First and foremost, we should expect Nintendo's WiiU console to lead the charge in terms of their overall conference. That means pricing, dates, you name it, the details should start to trickle out right here, right now!
SUPER MARIO- And if there was ever a gaming icon vital in launching the WiiU, it is of course Mario himself. Expect the re-done version of New Super Mario Bros Mii to appear with some big surprises, possibly a new 3D Mario title and of course the 3DS' upcoming sequel New Super Mario Bros 2.
LAUNCH TITLES- In terms of what games you can expect to ship with the WiiU, don't be surprised to see a lot more games debuted here. Avengers: Battle For Earth, Assassin's Creed III, Darksiders II and Batman: Arkham City Game Of The Year Edition are all likely to feature in some way in order to show off how and why gamers should buy these ports again with new dual-screen functionality.
3DS' FUTURE- It will also be time for Nintendo to prove too that the 3DS still has life left in it, so perhaps new Zelda and Metroid titles will be unveiled along with a few more casual entries.

FarCry 3 Pre-E3 Teaser Debuts

What does the year's biggest gaming expo hold for Ubisoft's thriller?
There's no doubting that Ubisoft appears to have a lot of faith in its new thriller action-adventure video game FarCry 3, having placed it as the first big release of the Autumn Of Gaming. With just a few days to go until their E3 2012 press conference, the developers have released a new teaser trailer for the game showcasing some of the aspects of the project they're planning to show off next week. It's exciting stuff for sure, and with any luck it's just the tip of the iceberg in terms of new footage what with the game's release nearing so close now. FarCry 3 ships on PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 on September 6th.

New Dark Knight Rises TV Spots Released

Batman Returns In Just Over A Month's Time...
The anticipation amongst Bat fans for Christopher Nolan's final superhero movie The Dark Knight Rises is reaching insurmountable heights now, and with this Warner Brothers have offered us a few new TV advertisements for this epic denouement to the seven-year saga. Rises follows Bruce Wayne eight years after the events of 2008's Dark Knight, forced back into action as a plot that threatens to destroy Gotham City from within is led by the brutal warlord Bane and the elusive Selina Kyle begins to enact plans of her own. These new spots show off Tom Hardy's role as Bane, Anne Hathaway's portrayal of Kyle and Catwoman and of course the return of Morgan Freeman as tech wizard Lucius Fox onto the Wayne Enterprises scene, and they all do nothing but cement my picking of this as my Most Anticipated Film Of 2012. Will it live up to its potential? We'll find out when The Dark Knight Rises debuts on July 20th.

Avalanche Confirm New Game Development

The makers of Just Cause are back with all-new projects!
Avalanche Studios have revealed that they've got two full new video games on the go right now for future release. The first of these, they've told Eurogamer, is an apparently "groundbreaking open-world action game" produced in collaboration with Square Enix. We must bear in mind that this same joint team brought us the first two Just Cause games, so perhaps as rumoured we're getting a new entry in that series? Recent reports had even suggested that both Just Cause 3 and 4 are in the works, and thus we might even begin to speculate as to whether in fact they're giving us two new instalments in the franchise back-to-back. Either way, we know that Avalanche's new projects will launch in 2013 and 2014 respectively. If we are to find out more on them anytime soon, then I'd be willing to bet that news will come at one of the E3 press conferences next week.

Dead Space 3 Teased?

Has EA just revealed what the future holds for its sci-fi shooter franchise days before E3?
Electronic Arts might well have given us the first hints as to what to expect in the rumoured game project Dead Space 3 today. The publisher has today unveiled a new trailer for an upcoming 'graphic novel short' featuring an Earth-based soldier called John Carver (no relation to the titular character of Disney's sci-fi John Carter, I assume)'s exploits on the new planet of Uxor. They're teasing "a new chapter" in the Dead Space saga, which sounds to me like this graphic novel could either be a lead-in to or indeed an adaptation of a probable third entry in the video game series. EA have a press conference at E3 next week on Monday, so perhaps we'll get a full reveal then, but for now it makes for intriguing viewing all the same. EA's press conference kicks off at 8pm on Monday, June 4th.

Steven Moffat Teases Doctor Who's Future

We get a few more hints on Series Seven and what lies beyond...
It's a fair assessment to say that Doctor Who is undergoing something of a golden age right now, having reached its seventh season with barely a scratch on its bonnet and still showing no signs of slowing down. Testament to that was Steven Moffat's winning the Special Writer's BAFTA for 2012. Off the back of this, the Moff has started chatting some more about what the future holds for the show he so valiantly helms...

  • ON JENNA-LOUISE'S FILMING DEBUT: "It's so exciting- Jenna is wonderful and spiky and salty and clever. As Doctor Who always does, it's becoming a different show. I'm thrilled with her and I think everyone else will be too."
  • ON HOW THE NEW COMPANION CHANGES WHO: "It makes you look at the Doctor differently, and it just makes the whole show feel different. It's like it is a new beginning, back to Chapter One. There's someone new getting to know the Doctor. This time it's Jenna's character. There are many ways it will be different to usual, but I'm not telling you what they are!"
  • ON THE SHOW'S FUTURE: "[The series] is definitely not getting shorter, we're just splitting it over Christmas, that's all. We're making the same number of episodes as usual, I can tell that much by the grey hairs on my head! We delayed it by a few months, that's all that's happened. There's not a chance of the BBC giving up on Doctor Who. Quite honestly, they wouldn't be allowed to- it's a huge money spinner doing better than ever, not just in the UK. The number of people watching it abroad's going up- it was the most downloaded show on US iTunes in 2011!"
For fans, it will surely be good to know that the Moff is confident the Beeb will keep Who on air for many years to come. This confidence also seems to indicate Steven will return to helm Series Eight in late 2013 and early 2014, which will mean he's spent at least five years on the show just as Russell did- will S8 prove his swansong, then, or will the good times just go on and on? Only time will tell...Doctor Who returns in August.

UK Film Charts: May 21st-27th

Sacha Baron Cohen won't let his competitors dictate the Brit charts' leadership!
Despite a mass of mixed reviews from critics, The Dictator is performing surprisingly well in the UK box office. Even this week's big newcomers Men In Black III and What To Expect When You're Expecting can't topple it, and slowly but surely we're starting to see the devolution of Avengers Assemble in the listings too. Still, with Prometheus, Snow White & The Huntsman and Rock Of Ages all cruising into cinemas next month, things shouldn't stay this way for long...
8. THE RAID (TF: 4/5)

Monday, 28 May 2012

Men In Black III Review

Back In Black- is it the same old franchise in a new suit?
I went into Men In Black III with mixed expectations, spurred on by the uncertain critical standings the new sci-fi comedy seems to hold right now. Thankfully, though, I can happily report that with the latest entry in this cult franchise of adventures, the MIB team appear to have saved the best act of their trilogy for last. Although the time-travel element introduced here to send Agent Jay back into time to save his teammate K is well-trodden territory in the entertainment industry, the writers put it to surprisingly good use, introducing a few plot cipher characters to guide our way between the past and present that actually make for a positive impact on our understanding of the ridiculousness of it all. Better yet, on top of Will Smith's typically macho-but-sweet portrayal of our lead protagonist and Tommy Lee-Jones' brief reprise as K in the present-day scenes, we get a beautifully done impression of Lee-Jones from none other than Mr Josh Brolin, a rising star who puts his acting talents to such good use that I can't help but wonder whether he'll be picked up in some way for a fourth entry. Brolin actually provides much of the emotional core of the film in its incredibly moving denouement, an unexpected turn of events wonderfully wrapping up a standalone storyline that doesn't require memory of MIB or its sequel at all. He's even helped out by a host of famed co-stars, including cameos from the likes of Nicole Scherzinger, Emma Thompson and even Lady GaGa, all of which contribute nicely to a strong narrative with plenty of moments you won't see coming thanks to the relatively conservative marketing campaign. Is it all smooth sailing for MIB III, then? Not quite; at times, the film can't quite seem to decide what it wants to be, cruising from outright hilarious comedy to action setpieces to tear-jerking twists at regular intervals with little regard for whether viewers would find this to make for a tad disjointed experience. By no means does this occur frequently enough to ruin the huge enjoyment you'll get out of watching it, but all the same as with many other comedy films coming our way right now, it's a minor element that just separates the film from becoming an all-time classic. All the same, this is a refreshing change of pace for what was becoming an increasingly tired and predictable blockbuster franchise, adding newfound heart and thrills that really pack a great punch, even forcing hardened fans of the series to gain a wholly different perspective on the two agents they've followed for the best part of ten hours. When writers can make such a bold move after so much time having been invested already, it's truly a testament to their creative vision, and as such Men In Black III stands as a neat surprise of a comedic achievement for 2012, even if its shortcomings still hold it back from hitting the heights that the genre once did. If you get chance to go and see this in the Summer Of Film, though, by all means take up the great opportunity!

UK Games Charts: May 21st-27th

Tom Clancy's future shooter is back, and it's rocking the top of the charts!
Rockstar had a great opening week with Max Payne 3, but now it's time for another big gaming behemoth to step in and take over. Enter Tom Clancy's Ghost Recon: Future Soldier, an epic third-person shooter that's already performing strongly with the critics. I'll be providing a full review of the game later this week, but for now here's the full list. Oh, and by the way, for anyone wondering where the rather mediocre Doctor Who: The Eternity Clock (5/10) has debuted in the charts, it's right down at #34. Oops- not quite the success Super Massive will have hoped for...
10. FIFA STREET (8/10)
9. DIABLO III (8.5/10)
8. PROTOTYPE 2 (7/10)
6. SNIPER ELITE V2 (6/10)
5. FIFA 12 (8/10)
4. DiRT SHOWDOWN (NEW, 7/10)

Alien Week: Day One

In space no one can hear you scream- but are they screams of joy?
Ridley Scott's Alien franchise has certainly acquired an iconic status the likes of which barely any other science-fiction saga bar perhaps Star Wars has ever hoped to attain. This week, we'll be looking at just whether all of the praise heaped upon this legendary cult series is deserved, with reviews of each and every one of its instalments up to and including the new movie Prometheus. First up, then, it's time for a two-part review of the two classic originals- do they match up to the following that they have since gathered?
ALIEN: Easily the most strongly regarded entry of the entire franchise, Alien certainly knows what it intends to do right from the outset, and that's install downright fear into its viewers. That fear lies in the revelation of the unknown, of what shadows really crawl in the dark, and what those shadows can do if provoked. It's a shame, then, that once the cat is quite literally out of the bag, the vast majority of the impact of seeing Alien Xenomorphs rage on the USS Sulaco in the wake of now-famed stars like Sigourney Weaver and John Hurt wears off pretty quickly. The infamous chest-bursting scene that was always subject to such controversy is really not as violent as everyone might suggest, even if it is implemented in a far more effective way than it is in the sequels. Although there are a few moments where the tension and scale of the piece really do ramp up thanks to Weaver's acting and the occassionally impressive special effects, overall everything about Alien feels more than a little over-hyped.
ALIENS: We then head back to the planet LV-426 as the Weyland-Yutani corporation encourage Weaver's character Ripley to return to the surface for further investigation and supposed genocide of her arch-enemies. As you'd imagine, everything goes pear-shaped again, making for a deeply predictable 'film shooter' experience that does little to surprise other than introducing the admittedly likable Alien Queen. Certainly, the rag-tag bunch of Colonial Marines that aid Ripley in her vicious battle against the Xenomorphs provide no sense of empathy with the viewer or indeed any reason to actually be cared about when they meet their inevitable end. That's perhaps the biggest shortcoming of Aliens and its two sequels- try as they might to throw in grand setpieces and narrative ploys, the writing team appear to start losing their edge in terms of genuine surprises and character connection. This isn't a bad film by any stretch of the imagination (my oh my, are those still to come), but Aliens leaves a lot to be desired considering its alleged brilliance, turning out to be a far more mundane and overcooked affair than many fans would have you believe.

Coming Up This Week: May 28th-June 3rd

Prometheus lands, Arkham City reopens its doors and Star Wars takes a new direction in the next seven days...
It's time for the first of our themed weeks- ALIEN WEEK! All across the next seven days, you'll see features and reviews based all around Ridley Scott's iconic sci-fi movie franchise that examine each and every one of its instalments so far and their spiritual successor Prometheus. On top of that, here's everything else you can expect to see this week...
BATMAN: ARKHAM CITY- HARLEY QUINN'S REVENGE: My Game Of The Year 2011 returns for another bout of action tomorrow as Harley Quinn seeks vengeance for her lost betrothed, capturing Batman and forcing his fellow Caped Crusader Robin to return into Arkham City one last time and shut the district down forever...but is he already too late?!? (Tuesday 29th)
STAR WARS- A NEW HOPE?: Geoff Keighley has confirmed that this week's Game Trailers live show will bring with it the revelation of a brand new Star Wars video gaming franchise. Is it a sequel of sorts to the Battlefront or Republic Commando series, or something else entirely? There isn't long until we find out. (Thursday 31st)
RAIDERS OF THE LOST TRAILER: Despite the game's delay to Spring 2013, Tomb Raider will feature too on Thursday's GTTV. The first snippets we've seen of the new trailer look very Uncharted-esque, so I for one can't wait to see what surprises and setpieces the full video holds! (Thursday 31st)
PROMETHEUS: They went searching for our beginning...and now we're about to find out why the crew of the SS Prometheus are about to stumble upon a secret which could lead to our end. Prepare for a groundbreaking new science-fiction horror from Ridley Scott the scale and ambition of which you won't have to seen for a long time- bring on Prometheus! (Friday 1st)
AND THERE'S MORE...Fairy tale fans will be eager to catch Kristen Stewart's dark adaptation of Snow White & The Huntsman, while anyone who regretted missing out on Underworld: Awakening, The Artist, Chronicle and/or Journey 2: The Mysterious Island can make up for their mistakes by grabbing them on DVD or Blu-Ray from today.
ON THE BLOG: The anticipation for the core build-up to E3 will be tangible in these last few days, but on top of that we'll have all the coverage on the latest developments in the Summer Of Film and reviews of Men In Black III, Max Payne 3 and Prometheus coming your way!
COMING NEXT WEEK: It's E3 WEEK, so prepare for a blitz of video games coverage in what many players might call the Christmas of their industry. Our coverage of gaming will quiet down considerably after next week- make the most of one of its busiest periods! On top of that, there's even a massive WORLD EXCLUSIVE on its way too...

Sunday, 27 May 2012

Doctor Who: The Eternity Clock Review

Time For Change?
If I'm being brutally honest, even as a fan of the show, I can admit that Doctor Who has never had a good time of it in the video gaming universe. Earlier in the year I wrote a piece over at TechTroid explaining how the characters, the intense and personal narratives and above all the wit and charm of the BBC's famed sci-fi drama could never be accurately represented with a console game. As much as I'd like to say that The Eternity Clock proves me wrong, if anything it just helps to support everything I said in that very article. For one, the narrative is loose and disjointed, the various pieces of the fabled Eternity Clock scattered across time simply an excuse for the Doctor and River to encounter fan-favourite enemies like the Cyber-Men, the Silurians, the Silence and of course the Daleks in recognisable locations like London and spaceships. Much as Matt Smith and Alex Kingston's wonderful banter makes for an engaging adventure to play through, at times even coming close to matching some of the TV programme's innovation, for the most part the various allusions to the series' chronology and fandom do little to strengthen the rag-tag plot. It doesn't help that this is blatantly intended as the first part of a trilogy either, as the dismal pair of final 'setpieces' (the inverted commas used there as the game's side-scrolling format robs it of any sense of scale or true adventure) are followed by a direct lead-in into the second instalment's narrative. Worse still, there are an atrocious number of bugs and glitches scattered throughout the game, so much so that you might think that this was one of Bethesda's day-one freakouts, except for the fact that Supermassive Games have rushed into crafting a product that is nowhere near the level of quality that the likes of Skyrim and Fallout have attained in the past. The core gameplay centres on the Doctor solving platforming puzzles and using his sonic screwdriver to complete repetitive mini-games while his ever-faithful wife uses her Vortex Manipulator and sonic blaster to hold off their adversaries at bay, two deadly dull premises that are executed in just as monotonous a way as you might hope the devs would have strived to avoid. I will credit Super Massive for ensuring that you are constantly on your feet, thrust into countless varying dangerous situations that can appear to hold all of the fun and action of the game's inspiration, yet once again as soon as you run into a glitch or realise that all of the bravado crumbles beneath a deeply flawed engine, the whole experiences becomes that much more of a drag. Beyond the main campaign, there's nothing else new provided here either: the visuals are hardly anything to brag about to your mates in a replay, and the only incentives to return to missions are the collectable hats for the Doctor and River's diary pages, both of which hardly lay a scratch on titles like GTA IV and Arkham City that had players returning for countless hours after their main narratives. What we're left with, then, in Doctor Who: The Eternity Clock is a disappointingly mundane side-scroller that attempts to capture the spirit and passion of the main show but only succeeds to the extent of its cast's enthusiasm, its broken gameplay and woeful narrative holding it back from getting anywhere close to the definitive gaming experience for fans.

Dead Island: GOTY Edition Announced

The game few of us wanted a return from...is coming back.
For all the furore and applause that came with the controversial original trailer for Dead Island, the final zombie-survival game didn't half prove a disappointment when it shipped last September. Indeed, video game critics were hardly giving standing ovations upon release day, as the title managed only a 71% average score on Metacritic. And yet, there were even some followers of the game who loved it enough to award it their Game Of The Year 2011 title. As such we've now got (sigh) a Game Of The Year Edition on its way. The new version will ship with both the single-player 'Ryder White' expansion and the multi-player 'Bloodbath Arena' map pack. If you missed out on the game first time round, then, and want to see what all the 'fuss' is about, this may well be the best time to get it as the new edition is going for a solid £30 RRP. Dead Island: Game Of The Year Edition arrives on PC, 360 and PS3 on June 26th.

Bungie Confirm Destiny Plans

Activision forces the hand of one of gaming's biggest developers a little sooner than expected!
Thanks to an inevitable leaked contract from Activision, Bungie have been forced into action in terms of the promo campaign for their new project Destiny. Announced late last year, the game has been shrouded in speculation ever since, with many journos wondering if this was to be an MMORPG along the lines of World Of Warcraft or Starcraft. It turns out they may not have been one- the contract listed a four-game start for this new franchise, with the initial opener being released exclusively for Xbox 360 and then the latter titles hopefully retailing for PlayStation 3 and PC too, and the MMORPG genre's influence certainly wasn't shied away from either. Bungie later responded to the leak with the following statement: "Well, that just happened. So, yeah. While we're not ready to show you what we've been working on, we can reconfirm that we're hard at work on our new universe. We can't wait for you to see it." Apparently, then, this legendary games developer is keeping quiet on its new series for now, but you can bet your bottom dollar that once Black Ops II ships and in the build-up to next year's E3 expo, Activision will be promoting the first game as much as humanly possible! Destiny ships for Xbox 360 in Autumn 2013.

Saturday, 26 May 2012

New Skulduggery Pleasant Cover Revealed

Our first look at the latest adventure from Derek Landy!
For fans, it may well feel as if the wait since Skulduggery Pleasant: Death-Bringer has been close to unbearable. The sixth novel in the series wrapped up its second trilogy magnificently, as Skulduggery clashed with his evil alter-ego Lord Vile and Valkyrie was forced to confront her own personal demons of powers yet to come in order to stop Vile returning to the Earth. Derek Landy gave us a neat World Book Day side-story, The End Of The World, to start to sate our appetites for the fantasy book franchise for a while back in March, but it can only take a fully-fledged new sequel to really make the wait worthwhile. Enter Kingdom Of The Wicked, the huge seventh novel that deals with the reprecussions of its predecessor while also introducing the new trilogy's story arc as an all-out war between mortals and immortals begins to rage across the planet and only Skulduggery and Valkyrie stand a chance of stopping it! You can see here the full, beautiful cover for the new adventure; Skulduggery Pleasant: Kingdom Of The Wicked heads to all good book and eBook retailers on August 30th.

Harry Potter For Kinect Revealed

The Boy Who Lived lives once more on Xbox 360!
Microsoft Game Studios have this week announced the development of Harry Potter For Kinect, a brand new motion title developed exclusively for the Xbox 360's camera peripheral. The game will allow players to either take on the guise of the Boy Wizard himself or use Kinect's FaceScan tech to 'place themselves in the game' (see the trailer to get your own impressions on the results!), playing through some of the most memorable and exciting setpieces of the eight hit movies. Whether it will all just turn out to be a handful of lacklustre mini-games as Kinect Star Wars did last month remains to be seen, yet it's hard to stay optimistic when you recall how poorly the motion tech was implemented in the Deathly Hallows: Part 1 tie-in! Harry Potter For Kinect will ship for 360 this Autumn.

Top Of The Pops Live Announced

File:Top of the Pops 2003.jpgThe biggest British music show ever is back in a new format!
Top Of The Pops will return later this year as a live stage show, BBC Worldwide have confirmed. What promises to be a star-studded production will cover the past three decades' worth of music and its industrial development, as well as utilising classic footage from the early episodes of the acclaimed TV music show. No plot details have been revealed as of yet, but I'd wager that we'll get either an excellent compilation of songs woven together by a tight narrative a la We Will Rock You or more likely a somewhat disparate, non-linear trail of classic hits a la Rock Of Ages. More details on Top Of The Pops LIVE are expected to be released soon; tickets are on sale now for the show's Autumn premiere.

New FarCry 3 Footage Unveiled

Far-cry-3-box-art-xbox-360.jpgGet another look at one of 2012's most exciting shooters...
Ubisoft have released a brand new gameplay video for their upcoming third-person shooter FarCry 3 via GTTV. The latest footage shows protagonist Jason Brodey fighting his way to the top of a burning building in a desperate attempt to save his girlfriend from the flames before it's too late. With any luck, this section's supposed linearity will be just a minor element of the final gameplay experience, but even before my review of Max Payne 3 I can at least assure you that Rockstar have already proved this Summer how linearity can be used to a developer's advantage. Will it be a Game Of The Year contender? There isn't too long until we find out... Expect loads more details, screenshots and videos fresh from the stagefloor at the E3 Expo in one week's time. FarCry 3 will retail on September 6th.

Friday, 25 May 2012

LucasArts To Reveal New Game

File:Star Wars Logo.svgMay The Force Be With You On May 31st!
LucasArts will reveal a new Star Wars video game franchise next week, collaborators Spike TV have confirmed today. The next GTTV show set to broadcast on Game Trailers on Thursday, May 31st will feature the world-exclusive pre-E3 reveal of the new series from these prestigious developers, before a full gameplay showing follows on Monday, June 4th after several of the mainstream E3 press conferences. There's been no confirmation yet as to what the reveal could entail, but that a codename listed as 'Star Wars: 1313', the number relating to a certain bounty hunter named Boba Fett, on a LucasArts website was picked up could certainly hold some bearing! Spike's Geoff Keighley has also teased that 'the next generation of gaming' will be exclusively unveiled via Spike in E3 week, too, so keep an eye on that! This year's E3 Expo runs from June 4th-10th.

Hypable: Why Dalekmania Could Be Who's End

Just a casual plug for my latest non-On Screen article...
This'll just be a quickie- I've posted a new article focusing on Doctor Who's over-reliance on the Daleks and the status problems that could bring for the show in the near future over on Hypable. Please follow the link, read it, and let me know what you think at the usual places! http://www.hypable.com/2012/05/23/why-dalekmania-will-be-the-end-of-doctor-who/

Delay Round-Up: May 14th-25th

Yep, it really is THAT bad.
Usually, I'd split up articles based on the delays of films, shows or games into several different pieces, yet quite frankly looking at the depressingly large number of releases that have suffered delays in the past few weeks, I can't stomach doing that. Instead I've compiled all of the push-backs that have occured during the hiatus that haven't already been covered on the blog below...
  • Capcom's DMC: Devil May Cry was originally due for release in late 2012, but it has been confirmed that the fantasy thriller will now ship on January 18th, 2013.
  • Was anyone hoping for the X-COM reboot to make it out this year? If so, they'll be disappointed to hear that it now won't release until the fiscal year of April 2013-March 2014. On the plus side, spin-off X-COM: Enemy Unknown will ship on October 16th this year.
  • On another rather sad note, this year's GAMEFest has been cancelled due to the problems the UK retailer chain has been undergoing in recent times. A shame, as had the queues been fixed this time around the expo had some massive potential. Still, a 2013 return has at least been teased...
  • On a peculiar note, Paramount Pictures have opted to push their big Summer action-thriller movie G.I. Joe: Retaliation back a full nine months to implement 3D into it. That stinks of pre-Summer Of Film jitters to me, but there you go...Retaliation wil now debut in March 2013.
  • Namco Bandai's Inversion is still suffering, too- the physics-bending third person shooter is now due to ship in July rather than June.
  • Thankfully, there is one occassion where things have turned out for the better and unexpected. The new film adaptation of Life Of Pi has now been brought forward by a month, moved away from its Christmas release (wise move, considering Gatsby and Hobbit are looking to dominate that period) to November 16th.
So, there you have it! Hopefully these wil be the last major delays we get for some time, else 2012 will begin to look like a pretty weak year for entertainment.

First The Great Gatsby Trailer Launches

Check out one of my favourite trailers of the year!
I always knew that this year's modern adaptation of The Great Gatsby was going to be something special. The cast, with Leo DiCaprio, Carey Mulligan and Tobey Maguire at its head, was already looking strong in terms of bringing across the intense personal drama of the 1920s, but this first new trailer for the movie cements my opinion that it'll be one of the best films we see released this year. There's songs, laughs, scares and emotive setpieces aplenty littered throughout the preview, and if all of this really is just a taster of what's to come then we really do have something very exciting to look forward to come Christmas time! The Great Gatsby opens its gates to the box office on December 25th.

The Simpsons Short Announced For Ice Age 4

File:Ice Age Continental Drift teaser poster.jpgTV's most beloved animated family are back, if you catch my drift!
Fox have confirmed that a Simpsons animated mini-episode will broadcast in cinemas in front of 20th Century Fox's new animated film Ice Age 4: Continental Drift. The fourth instalment in the hit Ice Age franchise sees Manny and his friends separated from their families in the midst of Scrat's nut-chasing antics causing the Earth's continents to tear apart (hence the title). It has been revealed that the mini Simpsons romp will be called The Longest Daycare and focus on the little baby Maggie's exploits at a daycare centre. Whether a lone bonus such as this will be enough to entice you to see this third sequel is up to your personal taste, but as I found with the neat Toy Story short attached to The Muppets, if you're already eagerly awaiting the main feature, the initial short can become the icing on the cake! Ice Age: Continental Drift lands in cinemas on July 17th.

UK Games Charts: May 14th-20th

Max Payne returns to sweep up the charts!
Rockstar's new games have always performed incredibly well in the charts worldwide- thus it's no surprise to see their latest game, Max Payne 3, flourishing here in the UK in its week of release. To be fair, there have been very few other new titles to speak of for the past month, so it's hardly as if there was much fresh competition, but nevertheless it's good to see a game on top which I can already tell you thoroughly deserves its high ranking! Here's the list in full:
10. MARIO & SONIC 2012 (4/10)
8. BATTLEFIELD 3 (7/10)
6. PROTOTYPE 2 (7/10)
5. FIFA 12 (8/10)
4. SNIPER ELITE V2 (6/10)
3. FIFA STREET (8/10)
2. DIABLO III (NEW, 8.5/10)

Kick-Ass 2 Plot Details Revealed

The ultimate superhero comedy franchise returns next year!
Mark Millar's first movie adaptation of his own comic-book superhero parody Kick-Ass proved one of the cinematic highlights of 2010, a truly welcome blend of comedy and sheer hardcore violence that quickly amassed a cult following well beyond the graphic novel's fanbase. Now, we're moving towards a full sequel to the film, and the first details on how the narrative will pick up in Kick-Ass 2 and how Millar's comics have been adapted this time around can be seen below...
  • ON THE MOST VIOLENT SCENES OF THE GRAPHIC NOVEL: "Every horrible scene in the book will be in the film. The c**t line in the first one, everybody said 'there's no way you're getting that in the movie', but it happened and it's the same thing with this. Everybody is saying 'you can't have the gang rape scene with super villains' and 'you can't have the dog's head cut off', but every single one of those scenes will go in."
  • HOW THE HIT-GIRL SPIN OFF COMICS WILL BE ACCOUNTED FOR: "Hit-Girl will be the first 30 minutes of the movie and Kick-Ass 2 the other 70 minutes. Hit-Girl is structured as the first act."
Millar also went on to reveal that as with his comic books, the films are intended as part of a trilogy, so we'll inevitably be getting a third instalment in the not-too-distant future too! Kick-Ass 2 is set for release in Summer 2013.

New Medal Of Honor: Warfighter Trailer Debuts

The latest preview of one of 2012's biggest FPS titles calls in for duty...
As Activision have stepped up their game in terms of first-person shooter competition for 2012 with the announcement of Call Of Duty: Black Ops II for release in November, so too have EA retaliated with a brand new trailer for Medal Of Honor: Warfighter. This new preview for the reboot-sequel on its way in the Autumn gives little more clarification as to what the storyline will actually be than we had before, but it does at least promise some truly epic modern conflict setpieces that may well match some of COD's best moments for once. If Danger Close can get the multiplayer right this time, they may stand a chance of faring that much better in the inevitably fixed shooter race of the Autumn Of Gaming! Medal Of Honor: Warfighter arrives on 360 and PS3 on October 26th.

Thursday, 24 May 2012

Avengers, Hunger Games DVDs Detailed

Two of the year's biggest movies get their DVD/Blu-Rays organised!
Now that both The Hunger Games and The Avengers have debuted at cinemas- and both performed brilliantly, I might add- their marketing teams have already begun work on converting the two blockbuster movies into a disc format. This means that not too far from now, we'll see these two epic pieces of cinema held on DVDs and Blu-Rays in stores everywhere. Here are the first details on both of these highly anticipated releases:
  • Avengers will feature a new Marvel One-Shot short movie called Item 47, as well as deleted and extended scenes, a music video, a couple of behind-the-scenes featurettes and of course the movie itself. That one is due to ship to retailers for September 24th.
  • Meanwhile, The Hunger Games is set for a slightly earlier release date of August 16th. Its DVD/Blu-Ray will come with extras including featurettes based around the creation of the dystopian world of Panem and indeed the CGI of the titular games themselves.
Of course, if you're looking for all new action from these two colossal franchises, then watch out for The Hunger Games: Catching Fire in cinemas in November 2013 and Iron Man 3 next April, Thor 2 in November 2013, Captain America 2 in May 2014 and The Avengers 2 in 2015!

007 Super Trailer Reveals Skyfall, Moonraker

Bond is back this Autumn!
Agent 007 will be back in action in just a few months' time, so to celebrate MGM Studios and Activision have released new trailers for the latest movie in his series, Skyfall, and his new video game tie-in, 007 Legends. The former preview gives a quick-fire (forgive the pun) taste of what's to come in the film itself, although you probably won't be able to fathom too much other than Bond will be stopping some kind of terrorist vs. British plot, whereas the latter shows off its special Moonraker mission, one of a number of different in-game adventures that take inspiration from classic James Bond movies in order to craft a bigger storyline around the adapted Skyfall one. You can check out the 'super trailer', which combines both videos into one epic montage, below; 007 Legends is due for release on October 16th, with Skyfall ten days later on October 26th.

UK Film Charts: May 14th-20th

It seems the influence of (fictitious) terrorists even stretches to the Brit box office...
Sacha Baron Cohen's new movie The Dictator has made a surprising sweep of the British box office charts in the past week, toppling Avengers Assemble from its deserved pedestal and thus showcasing how unpredictable the Summer Of Film can be. Expect my review of this new comedy very soon, but for now here's the full list...
10. SAFE (TF: 3/5)
7. THE LUCKY ONE (TF: 3/5)
5. THE RAID (NEW, TF: 4/5)

Aliens: Colonial Marines Delayed To 2013

Game over, man, game over!
Gearbox Studios' sci-fi FPS video game project Aliens: Colonial Marines has suffered another delay. The title focuses on a band of marines dispatched to the USS Sulaco as it orbits LV-426 despite having been reported destroyed seventeen weeks earlier. Players will come into contact with some of the deadliest varients of the titular Xenomorphs yet as they find themselves thrust onto the fabled planet's surface and forced to fight for survival until help comes for the marine squad. Colonial Marines was fast shaping up to be one of my most anticipated games of the year, but despite originally being set for release this Fall, the game has now been confirmed to ship next year. We have, however, got a new trailer to easen the impact, which you can check out below; Aliens: Colonial Marines ships on PS3, 360 and PC on February 12th, 2013.

Glee: Goodbye Review

So long, farewell, but do we bid them now adieu?
For many, the appeal of Glee drained away late into its first season, which now means that the musical-drama is left with a devoted fanbase hinging on its every twist and turn. It's time to see whether the Series Three finale Goodbye did that demographic proud...
THE PLOT: Having won Nationals, the New Directions return to McKinley High to say farewell to those amongst them who are graduating.
THE REVIEW: Can an episode such as Goodbye ever really hope to do justice to the characters whose stories some of us have followed for years on end? That's clearly a question the production team must have asked themselves, and at times the end result in itself is little more certain on its answer than we are. To be fair, there are a good few instances where the writers find creative strength, throwing in some great renditions of Forever Young and Glory Days, yet the highlights of the episode as a whole are far and few between, with countless misjudged mistakes littered throughout the narrative. For example, what was the point of the reprise of the Quinn/Puck romance? There seemed to be hints of a Quinn/Artie relationship brewing a few stories back that would have made much more logistical sense here, and certainly have set the characters off on a more interesting tangent for Series Four. It didn't help that not only was Rachel and Finn's marraige disregarded in the most abominal way possible (seriously, this boasts the worst ending of the three seasons so far), but Will and Emma's was also cast aside as another loose thread for the next season to pick up, likely with more problems set to arise as the budding teacher couple get further down the aisle. If I needed proof of the sheer weakness of Goodbye as a season finale, though, I'd only have to look at how it takes the good work episodes like the fantastic On My Way did with 'Finchel' and throws it all out of the window in favour of Rachel fulfilling her dreams. Had Finchel already become separate items in an earlier episode, I could understand the 'happy ending', but in this bizarre context it just seems like a sorely wasted opportunity, just as the episode as a whole does.
THE VERDICT: For all its faults, the third season of Glee has had some fun moments. Sadly, Goodbye is not one of them, ruining much of the best parts of its predecessors and in doing so leaving itself very little time to provide a worthwhile standalone storyline.

House: Everybody Dies Review

It's the end- was the moment prepared for?
After eight momentous seasons of twists, turns and anxiety, the US' fab medical drama House has reached its end today with the broadcast of its series finale, Everybody Dies. Was this epic closer worth the wait?
THE PLOT: As his parole looms and a drug addict is admitted to Princeton, Dr Greg House must face his own demons and decide whether he should live or die while his best friend nears his demise.
THE REVIEW: It was always going to be hard to please everyone in the case of such a beloved show as House, but by golly, do the show's producers try their best. 45 minutes is a peaky running time, so the strain of the rapid reintroduction of characters like Kutner, Cameron, Chase, Martha, Thirteen, Amber and countless other old friends and adversaries is undoubtedly felt. Indeed, it's the slight tendency the writers seemed to have had to self-indulge themselves a little too far here, bathing in the nostalgia of all this show has achieved rather than focusing on its present emotional arcs, that holds the finale back a little. That said, for the most part what the episode does, it does very well, as we see House in perhaps the darkest place he has ever been, seemingly with no hope of redemption or return. The actions the good doctor takes to 'destroy' himself come the story's denounement are certainly going to prove divisive, and yet despite seeing the funeral twist coming from a mile off (thanks, Sherlock!), I was thoroughly pleased with the position the programme left House and Wilson in during its final moments. Why should we have to see James suffer through his final months of cancer, and indeed Greg through the extended time he now will surely spend imprisoned afterwards, when we can just focus on a single moment of happiness and solitude for the pair of them as they drive off into the future? In many ways, I can think of no better an ending for a show so hell-bent on reminding us that everybody does die than for us to forgive that dull fact of life for a second, and focus on the bright side as House so clearly does thanks to the somewhat overzealous number of hallucinations he recieves when attempting his suicide. We might perhaps wonder whether this finale story would have been better served either as a two-parter or a double-length episode, yet to some extent its brevity is ever-so remniscent of this programme's ability to survive within a tight and short format.
THE VERDICT: I hoped to leave the final season of House with nothing but fond memories for this fascinating medical drama, and thankfully Everybody Dies has not left me feeling otherwise. A deservedly nostalgic finale, this is an episode which can truly be said to have wrapped up the various plot strands of the series perfectly, without giving an unnecessary amount of exposition towards the unseen future at its climax.