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Tuesday, 28 August 2012

Star Wars: 3D Release Dates, Detours Announced

All the latest news on the Star Wars franchise from the new Celebration event!
The Star Wars Celebration VI over the weekend saw a couple of surprise announcements regarding George Lucas' sci-fi saga. First of all, we found out that the 3D releases of Episode II and Episode III will be back-to-back rather than yearly: Attack Of The Clones lands in September 2013 and Revenge Of The Sith then arrives in October 2013. After that, we got our first look at the Robot Chicken-inspired comedy spin-off Star Wars: Detours, which looks to provide us with some hilarious canon-twisting setpieces set between Episodes III and IV. It also sounds like Star Wars 1313 is going to get some more news announcements soon too, so keep an eye out for that! Star Wars: Detours airs in the UK in 2013.

New Sherlock Series Three Teasers Debut

What's coming next for the Great Detective?
At the Media Guardian Entertainment TV Festival this past weekend, the makers of Sherlock gave us new hints on its third series. What did the hints entail? Three words which apparently sum up the three ninety-minute episodes that we're going to discover next year. And what exactly were those three words? They're as follows...
Fans of Arthur Conan-Doyle's may recognise 'Rat' from the Rat Of Sumatra story, but 'Wedding' implies that Watson may find love in The Sign Of Four, while 'Bow' could easily refer to the final story in Sherlock lore, His Last Bow. A fourth season of the show seems all but inevitable though, so don't worry too much about Series Three meaning the end of all things! Sherlock returns in Autumn 2013.

Golden Joystick 2012 Awards Nominees Announced

This year's nominees for the biggest video game awards are revealed!
The makers of the Golden Joystick Awards have this week confirmed their nominees for the upcoming 2012 awards ceremony. This event will round up some of the best moments of video gaming for the past year, highlighting the best titles we've seen while in turn looking ahead to the future. So which games have been nominated? Too many to mention in one article, that's for sure, so instead I've rounded up the most notable titles of highest quality on the list for each award. Without further ado, then, let's check out the nominees...(I've marked my personal preferences for the winners in yellow)

Mass Effect 3- Tuchanka Choice
Gears Of War 3- Score A Point For The Cougars
Batman: Arkham City- The Ending
Uncharted 3- Sink Or Swim
Max Payne 3- Hoboka Graveyard Shootout
Spec Ops: The Line- White Phosphorous
The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim- Dawnguard
Hitman: Absolution- Sniper Challenge
Portal 2- Perpetual Testing Initiative
Deus Ex: Human Revolution- The Missing Link
Batman: Arkham City- Harley Quinn's Revenge
Street Fighter X Tekken
Ultimate Marvel VS Capcom 3
Soul Calibur V
Mortal Kombat Komplete
UFC Undisputed 3
Saint's Row: The Third
Assassin's Creed: Revelations
Batman: Arkham City
Sleeping Dogs
Uncharted 3: Drake's Deception
Star Wars 1313
Watch Dogs
Gears Of War: Judgement
Assassin's Creed III
Tomb Raider
BioShock: Infinite
Halo 4
The Last Of Us

The Golden Joystick Awards will be announced on October 26th.

New Grand Theft Auto V Screenshots Unveiled

Rockstar's big new reveal of their open-world sequel!
Not content with building the sheer excitement of countless fans through radio silence, Rockstar Games have now upped the ante for Grand Theft Auto V's slow promotional campaign with new screenshots for their open-world megamoth. Rather than take you through each and every screenshot with close analysis, I'm simply going to let the beautiful images before you speak for themselves! Don't be too surprised if we get a full new trailer for the game in September either, with a release date reveal unlikely to be too far away.

Grand Theft Auto V is set for release on Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 in 2013.

Sunday, 26 August 2012

RED 2 Teaser Poster Released

The first look at the blazing action-comedy sequel is here!
We've just got our first glimpse at RED 2 today with the recently unveiled teaser poster. The original movie RED focused on a series of retired secret agents (played by the likes of Bruce Willis and Helen Mirren) forced back into action for a deadly mission. This time around, Catherine Zeta-Jones is joining the team for an altogether darker and more bombastic adventure of equally epic proportions. Whether it's going to be an actually strong film is up to high debate right now considering that its predecessor was a flop to say the very least, but those who liked the star factor of the original and indeed the Expendables films will no doubt get a kick out of this one. RED 2 arrives on August 26th, 2013.

Thursday, 23 August 2012

The Bourne Legacy Review

A franchise Bourne again, or is the series' legacy tarnished?
Jeremy Renner has a hell of a job bringing the Bourne film franchise back to the big screen after five years of radio silence, especially when this requires him to take over from Hollywood star Matt Damon. Does he manage it with aplomb and resurrect the fledging saga of Jason Bourne? The short answer: no. If anything, The Bourne Legacy is just as laden with convoluted plot twists, stereotypical action-thriller characterisations and overreliance on its predecessors as those instalments that have come before it, if not moreso than ever before. The movie's central premise revolves around Outcome agent Aaron Cross (Renner), who finds himself hunted by the CIA as the failure of Treadstone provokes the cancellation of every secret experiment the organisation have ever been a part of. Were this less-than-compelling initial storyline to develop into one where a real sense of danger and scale was captured in the later scenes of Legacy, the flick as a whole would be a far more effective piece, building its minor character arcs to an impressive and surprising crescendo. Sadly, that's not the case, quite the opposite- plot twists are far and few inbetween, and anything that happens to Renner's Cross you'll see coming from a mile off. Worse still, though Jeremy fills Matt's void well here, the supporting cast are more forgettable and lacklustre than ever, with even Edward Norton cruelly misused and underrepresented despite his enigmatic screen presence (it seems he just can't catch a break after The Incredible Hulk!). There's just no sense of cohesion to the way in which this essential reboot develops over the course of the over-lengthy two hour running time, a feeling that's especially enhanced by one of the most simple and silly endings I've seen on a movie for a long time. It's always a bad sign when a film that's so hell-bent on encouraging a follow-up doesn't encourage you to look forward to the sequel, and while I hate to say it, that's most certainly the case here. That neither myself or my fellow attendees to the screening could work out quite what we'd just seen speaks wonders for the convolutedness of the whole dull experience. The Bourne Legacy stands as one of the weakest movies I've seen this year, a real letdown for a franchise that once held such brimming promise. Let's get Mr Damon back ASAP if this series is to continue, eh?

Wednesday, 22 August 2012

UK Film Charts: August 13th-19th

Disney makes a Brave endeavour, and it pays off!
Disney Pixar's latest animated movie Brave was a bit of an uncertain entry into the Brit film charts this week, with mixed critical response leading many to wonder if kids would flock to theatres to see it after Ice Age 4's success. Well, for the makers of the movie, any fears of UK appeal should now have been well and truly allayed, as Brave has topped this week's charts. Besting new competitors such as The Bourne Legacy and The Expendables 2, the Scot-starring adventure is a definite hit for August, and a much-deserved one at that given Pixar's calibre. Things aren't likely to change much in the next few weeks, with The Campaign and Looper marking September's only big releases and Skyfall October's, but it'll be interesting to see what developments come nevertheless. Here's the full list of the Top Ten for the past week:
9. STEP UP 4: MIAMI HEAT (TF: 2/5)
3. TED (3.5/5)
1. BRAVE (NEW, TF: 3/5)

Despicable Me Minions, The World's End Dated

More release dates for some of the biggest upcoming movies around!
The film industry appears to have headed into something of a news frenzy recently, from The Hobbit becoming three films to The Great Gatsby getting pushed back to next Summer for its release. We've now got two release dates for a couple of major upcoming flicks- Despicable Me: The Minions and The World's End. The former is a spin-off from the hit animated movie franchise starring Steve Carrell that will now focus on the hilarious yellow Minion side-characters, while the latter is the final instalment in Simon Pegg, Nick Frost and Edgar Wright's 'Cornetto Trilogy' that began with Shaun Of The Dead and Hot Fuzz, this time focusing on an apocalyptic setting presumably inspired by the Mayan calendar ending this year. Both promise to be hilarious comedies currently brimming with potential, so it remains to be seen what their respective studios can do with them between now and release day! The World's End crashes into cinemas on August 10th, 2013, while Despicable Me: The Minions arrives on December 19th, 2014 (with Despicable Me 2 already set for a July 2013 release).

Who News: Airdate, Trailer & A New Adventure!

When will the Doctor call?...and lots more!
Just when you wait for ONE single Doctor Who announcement, you get a whole heap of them in one day! Here, we're going to be rounding up all of the exciting news, videos, gossip and reveals on Series Seven that the BBC marketing team have unveiled today. Without further ado, then, here we go...Geronimo!

  • DOCTOR WHO WILL RETURN ON...The Radio Times and the official Who website have today officially confirmed that Doctor Who Series Seven will commence broadcasting on Saturday, September 1st at 7.20pm on BBC One. This means that the five episodes- Asylum Of The Daleks, Dinosaurs On A Spaceship, A Town Called Mercy, The Power Of Three and The Angels Take Manhattan- will transmit over the course of September, with Merlin likely to take over on September 29th directly after the premiere of the Pond finale. After that, the Christmas Special will introduce Jenna-Louise Coleman on December 25th, and then Series Seven Part Two (Episodes 6-13) will air in the Spring of next year. And then? Well, time will tell...
  • LIFE WITH THE PONDS- Fresh off the airdate announcement, the official site also revealed Pond Life, a five-part adventure that will bridge the gap between The Doctor, The Widow And The Wardrobe and the season premiere. Penned by Chris Chibnall, the story will focus on Amy and Rory at home, while also starring Matt Smith and likely building to the cliffhanger of the Ponds contemplating divorce as a result of their travels. The episodes will air daily from Monday, August 27th,
  • NEW REVEALS, NEW TRAILER- BBC America have taken things one step further by unveiling a full new trailer for Series Seven. There's no footage for Jenna-Louise past The Angels Take Manhattan or strangely for Episode Four, The Power Of Three, but what we do see is rather epic and should build your excitement even further! US viewers will get all five episodes of Part One on the same dates as the Brits here.
  • THE 50TH ANNIVERSARY- Finally, Steven Moffat has provided us with a slight update for his plans for the 50th Anniversary year of Who beyond the eight episodes we have to look forward to in the Spring. "We've got an awful lot to announce before [the 50th Anniversary special run]," the Moff said, "We don't aim to have one event in November- we want to make Doctor Who an event every single week. And we're going to pull that off, so...patience!" I would guess that Who will have many of its classic era episodes reaired over the course of the year, plus lots of live events and mini-adventures to come before we reach the anniversary series. Be prepared!
Doctor Who returns to BBC One on September 1st.

Sunday, 19 August 2012

Coming Up This Week: August 20th-26th

Keith Lemon hits the big screen this week!
Although the rest of the world of entertainment seems to be in a state of momentary silence right now since the Olympics have reached their conclusion, the movie and video gaming industries are still moving forward with a couple of big new releases this week. Here's the big releases that you need to look out for in the next seven days...
KEITH LEMON: THE FILM- I've always loved great British movies, and in terms of stellar laugh-out-loud comedies they don't look to come much better than Keith Lemon: The Film! Featuring cameos from hordes of stars including Kelly Brooke, Gary Barlow, Jedward, David Hasslehoff and Paddy McGuinness, this really promises to be a great cult hit with little else new coming our way. (Friday 20th)
TRANSFORMERS: FALL OF CYBERTRON- High Moon Studios are back with a stellar sequel to their brilliant 2010 video game Transformers: War Of Cybertron, this time depicting the demise of the titular planet in the lead-up to Michael Bay's blockbuster trilogy. Will this be Game Of The Year material? We'll have a verdict on this much-anticipated follow-up very soon...(Friday 20th)
AND THERE'S MORE- Battleship lands on DVD and Blu-Ray tomorrow, plus New Super Mario Bros 2 hits games retailers everywhere on Friday, so why not check out those exciting new releases if you missed them first time around?
ON THE BLOG- We'll be bringing you all of the latest news, previews, reviews and features as always. It's a quieter week than usual, but there should still be some worthwhile announcements on the way.
AND NEXT WEEK...The Watch and Total Recall arrive in cinemas next week, plus we get my Most Anticipated Release of the month Skulduggery Pleasant: Kingdom Of The Wicked in hardback and digital form! Doctor Who may well be back for Asylum Of The Daleks too, but we'll keep you posted on that front...

Carnegie 2012 Shortlist: The Verdict

Need some strong reads over the Autumn? Look no further...
As strange as it may seem to think, the cold nights of our Fall months are on their way. Aside from all of the TV programmes, movies and video games that you can find on your screens in the final third of 2012, though, there are always brilliant novels out there for you to check out. I've said for a while now that I would compile together verdicts on each of the eight books on the CLIP Carnegie shortlist for this year in a feature article, and this is precisely that aforementioned piece. Without further ado, then, here are the definitive reviews of eight teenage fiction works that could really use your attention...
MY NAME IS MINA- David Almond's prequel to Skellig uses its initial simplicity of premise as a shroud of deception over what turns out to be a fascinating, thought-provoking and philosophical piece of literature. The ending scenes feel a little forced to tie the links between novels, yet Mina's tale is hugely compelling and strongly told. 4.5/5
SMALL CHANGE FOR STUART- A weak magical narrative isn't backed up here by lacklustre writing and bland characterisations. Much as Lissa Evans appears to hope that readers will give in to their inner child and forgive her for the blatant plot holes, there really isn't much reason to when there's so little justification to stick around for the basic conclusion. 2/5
THE MIDNIGHT ZOO- Despite some vivid depictions of scenes and characters, Sonya Harnett's Midnight Zoo is by far the worst book of the Carnegie 2012 shortlist. Its narrative seems to think it's much more intelligent and literary-worthy than it actually is, and the misjudged period setting does little to represent the true horrors of war beyond the somewhat intriguing opening. 1.5/5
EVERYBODY JAM- Ali Lewis does a great job of depicting the hardships of the Australian outback environment in Everybody Jam. Beyond that...well, let's just say that the storyline leaves a lot to be desired, lacking memorable moments and seeming convoluted in its misbalanced set of character arcs and setpieces. This one's only for those who need a real insight into another community without a compelling main plot. 3/5
TRASH- Well, sufficed to say this is just about as strong as its title. Perhaps it's a bit harsh to toss Andy Mulligan's at first compelling look into the life of the lower classes into the trash without a second thought, but once again Trash suffers from a massive narrative complacency and does very little to back it up thanks to major pacing issues. 2.5/5
A MONSTER CALLS- Now this is by far the best piece on the shortlist, and a strong contender for my Book Of The Year 2012 (I'll be including novels which have only come into the public eye this year in my selection). Patrick Ness does something totally different here to the Chaos Walking trilogy, taking a conceptual premise from the late and great Siobhan Dowd and turning it into a masterpiece that deserves to be entertained by readers of all ages. 5/5
MY SISTER LIVES ON THE MANTELPIECE- A beautiful first effort from Annabel Pitcher, Mantelpiece is a hugely compelling children's drama that benefits from wonderful characterisation and a simple yet emotional narrative. Initial impressions make this seem as if it'll be your basic tale of terrorist-based prejudice, yet to dismiss this as such is to do disservice to a brilliant authorial debut. 4.5/5
BETWEEN SHADES OF GREY- Set to the backdrop of the Second World War, Ruta Septys' Between Shades Of Grey provides a stunning depiction of the intense conflict and its ramifications outside the well-known European communities. Its ending feels rushed and overly optimistic, but Shades Of Grey is by far one of the best historical novels I've ever had the pleasure of reading. 4.5/5
THE FINAL VERDICT- The average rating I've given this shortlist is 69%, indicative of the odd misbalance of brilliant and weak novels that make up the roster. I would definitely recommend A Monster Calls to everyone looking for a great read, as well as My Sister, Shades Of Grey and Mina for those who have the time to spare for more compelling tales. Here's hoping that the 2013 shortlist will provide a more consistent set of fiction for us to dig our teeth into, though!

Kick-Ass 2, The Avengers 2 Dated

Two of the biggest sequels yet get firm release dates from their distributors!
Thanks to 20th Century Fox and Walt Disney Pictures, we now know the release dates for the much anticipated movie follow-ups Kick-Ass 2 and The Avengers 2 respectively. Kick-Ass 2 will focus on Red Mist's campaign of revenge against Hit Girl and Kick-Ass' attempts to stop him, sure to lead to some oft-hilarious bloody violence in setpieces and some great gags along the way. Meanwhile, the next Avengers will thread in characters from the 'Phase Two' arc of standalone films- Iron Man 3, Thor: The Dark World, Captain America: The Winter Soldier, Guardians Of The Galaxy and Ant-Man- into an all-out battle with the evil warlord Thanos in what promises to be an epic sequel from Joss Whedon. You can expect to hear much more on both these flicks right here at On-Screen very soon! Kick-Ass 2 will punch its way into cinemas on June 28th, 2013, while The Avengers 2 is currently due for May 1st, 2015.

Saturday, 18 August 2012

Who News: Asylum Teaser Trailer Released

The series premiere draws nearer!
In the build-up to the return of Doctor Who to our screens, the BBC marketing team are doing a great job of regularly releasing new promo images and trailers to keep fans' appetites sated. Today has seen the debut of a 'teaser' trailer for the first episode of Series Seven, Asylum Of The Daleks. It's not particularly long, amounting to barely twenty seconds, yet the chilling command by the Time Lord's worst enemies to 'Save The Daleks' is certainly enough to get this writer even more excited for the premiere episode's broadcast in a fortnight's time. Doctor Who Series Seven commences on BBC1 on September 1st.

Marvel News: The Wolverine Synopsis Debuts

Our first look at the storyline of the new X-Men movie spin-off!
It won't be a direct sequel to X-Men Origins, but nevertheless new X-Men spin-off film The Wolverine carries the heavy weight of fans' expectations after Hugh Jackman's last mutant-tastic outing disappointed greatly in cinemas. We've now got the brief narrative synopsis for this adaptation of the classic Wolverine story arc, and it goes something like this: "Based on the celebrated comic book arc, The Wolverine finds Logan, the eternal warrior and outsider, in Japan. There, samurai steel will clash with adamantium claw as Logan confronts a mysterious figure from his past in an epic battle that will leave him forever changed." The original arc took place after the events of the titular franchise team's creation and also saw Logan married to his one true love, but this will likely be a prequel to the main X-Men trilogy as Origins was, so it will be interesting to see what road the team decide to take in terms of the narrative's ramifications. The Wolverine launches on July 26th, 2013.

Wednesday, 15 August 2012

Gamescom: New 007 Legends Missions Unveiled

License To Kill and Die Another Day land in the ensemble game!
To coincide with the release of the new Bond film Skyfall later this year, Activision are taking the stories of six classic 007 movies and meshing them into one Daniel Craig video gaming adventure, 007 Legends. It promises to be an intriguing endeavour, and Activision's Gamescom reveal has been a new trailer which confirms two more of the storylines involved. The third 'mission' (presumably split into different levels so the campaign isn't short) is based on Timothy Dalton's License To Kill, a drug warfare romp, and the fourth on Pierce Brosnan's Die Another Day, a tale of redemption and revenge. Whether these classic adventures will help to counterbalance the surprisingly lo-res graphics and indeed the brevity of the main campaign remains to be seen, but right now it appears Activision have a lot of work to do to catch up with their FPS competitors. You can check out the trailer below; 007 Legends ships on October 16th.

Who News: New Promo Pics Revealed

The first full look at Episodes One-Five is here!
With last night's BFI screening of Doctor Who: Asylum Of The Daleks came a wealth of new details on Series Seven Part One. Now, the official BBC website has gone one step further, releasing both a promotional movie poster for the first episode (left, this will be done each week) and a host of new promotional photos taken from the production of the first five episodes. Hopefully this blockbuster approach will be taken in the Christmas Special and Part Two, but for now just relish the high-octane nature of all of these breathtaking images and indeed that the series returns in just seventeen days! Doctor Who vworps into BBC1 on September 1st.

Tuesday, 14 August 2012

Who News: Airdate Confirmed + New Details

All the latest details on Series Seven and beyond...
The BFI screening of Doctor Who's season premiere Asylum Of The Daleks was always going to be packed with exciting updates, and in this respect it really has not disappointed in any way. Here at On-Screen, we've waited a little to bring you all of the news reveals so that you can get the most full and comprehensive spoiler-free guide to what was said and shown possible. Without further ado, then, here's a full news roundup from the screening and its question-and-answer session with Steven, Caroline, Matt, Karen and Arthur!...

  • NEW TITLE SEQUENCE- Reporters from the AOTD screening have said that they got a look at a new title sequence for Doctor Who (presumably with rejigged music given the controversy over the Series Five/Six rendition) as the opening credits. On top of that, well-established Who reporter Blogtor Who said the following in a new tweet: "BREAKING: The Doctor Who title sequence will change every week!", and later updated us with the news that the opening credits will suit the style of the blockbuster adventures in all fourteen episodes. It's fair to think that the music will stay the same, but it's a very exciting change nevertheless, and leaves this writer to wonder whether this kind of mantra will be adopted in future seasons or at least a new title sequence permenantly!
  • NEW EPISODE TITLES- On top of that exciting development, the executive producers were able to confirm the titles of all five episodes of Series Seven Part One. They are as follows: Asylum Of The Daleks; Dinosaurs On A Spaceship; A Town Called Mercy; The Power Of Three and The Angels Take Manhattan. Great names to be sure!
  • NEW BROADCAST UPDATES- There was more of an update on how the transmission of Doctor Who's seventh season (or thirty-third, if you will) will pan out. In essence, there'll be Part One (consisting of five episodes) airing over the course of September, then a break until the Christmas Special, then another break, at which point Part Two (consisting of a further eight episodes) launches in the Spring of 2013. So there'll be some more waiting, but Who fans have become accustomed to this, and the breaks are far shorter than what they've been in the past. The airdate for Asylum has been confirmed too, and you can see it below this list.
  • NEW ANNIVERSARY EVENTS- Executive producer Caroline Skinner was happy to reveal that there'll be more live events akin to the BBC Proms and Doctor Who Live- The Monsters Are Coming! on their way next year in the build-up to the 50th Anniversary. From what we know, there'll be Special episodes leading up to the Anniversary throughout the second half of 2013, as well as on the Anniversary and at Christmas. Don't be surprised if there are classic Who reruns to come too!
  • A NEW DOCTOR...?- Nope. Good news came here for fans of this era of Who such as myself, as Matt Smith has confirmed that he will return as the Doctor in 2014, and that his contract doesn't necessarily limit him past that year either. I would imagine that Matt will depart the show either midway through or at the end of Series Eight (likely to air in Spring and Autumn 2014), but it'll at least be great to have had him for five full years and full four seasons. For those attempting to keep count, that's even more episodes than David Tennant!
More images and details from Series Seven will be released tonight at midnight, and we'll be back with all the news tomorrow morning. Doctor Who returns to BBC1 on September 1st.

Gamescom: Sony Press Conference Round-Up

What does the future hold for the PlayStation brand?
Sony's Gamescom press conference was definitely one of the most anticipated events of the German convention, and so it was a great development to see that they didn't disappoint much. Although the newly revealed IPs weren't great, and Wonderbook and LittleBigPlanet Vita don't look spectacular yet, for fans of PlayStation consoles there were a lot of great reveals on offer. Here's a summary of all the news and trailers that were unveiled, with some of the best previews found below the list...

  • LITTLE BIG PLANET VITA- Fans of Sackboy have been waiting since the announcement of the PlayStation Vita for the release date of the handheld version of LittleBigPlanet. Sony opened with just this fact, revealing that the Vita game will ship on October 18th, as well as being bundled with specific PSVita Wi-Fi consoles from that date too.
  • PLAYSTATION ALL STARS BATTLE ROYALE- And speaking of Sackboy, it's also been announced that he'll feature in Sony's Smash Bros-rip off along with Ratchet (Ratchet & Clank), Dante (Devil May Cry) and Spike (Ape Escape). This ensemble brawler has now been delayed, though, so it'll be with us on November 23rd.
  • CALL OF DUTY: BLACK OPS DECLASSIFIED- This COD spin-off will take place in between 2010's Black Ops and the upcoming Black Ops II, although whether it'll focus on Alex Mason again is yet to be confirmed. What we do know that is a Wi-Fi version of the acclaimed online multiplayer component will ship with Declassified when it arrives this November.
  • MORE VITA UPDATES- The PlayStation Vita will also be getting exclusive versions of FIFA 13 and Need For Speed: Most Wanted as well as a group of unannounced PSOne titles this Autumn, Sony was happy to confirm too.
  • AND MORE VITA UPDATES- On top of those new reveals, Sony had even more to reveal for their rising handheld hardware. This included the following titles: Tear Away (a new IP from LittleBigPlanet's Media Molecule) and Killzone: Mercenary (a spin-off to the main franchise).
  • ASSASSIN'S CREED III- It was confirmed proudly by Sony that the PS3 version of Assassin's Creed III will ship with four exclusive missions that make up an extra hour of campaign content. Exciting stuff!
  • WONDERBOOK UPDATE- The interesting Wonderbook project won't just be looking at Harry Potter in its library, either. Disney and BBC are stepping onto the bandwagon too, the latter investor using their Walking With Dinosaurs franchise in doing so...
  • NEW FRANCHISES- Sony also revealed a couple of brand new IPs (franchises) for the PlayStation Network as their conference drew to a close. These were Until Dawn and Rain, more details on which are expected to surface in the upcoming weeks.
Predictably enough, there was not even a hint of PlayStation 4 gossip on Sony's minds here. That said, the company definitely seems to have enough to keep it going on Vita for the rest of 2012, and with The Last Of Us coming in early 2013 there'll still be some mileage left in the PS3.

Gamescom: EA Press Conference Round-Up

New details on Dead Space, Battlefield and more big EA projects!
Although this year's Gamescom convention isn't as packed with big corporate press conferences as usual, there were still a few notable showings of interest in the past couple of days. One such entry? EA's official 2012 press conference, which covered a host of new franchise instalments and individual projects that the publisher has its various development factions working on at this time. We've rounded up all of the big news from EA's conference below, and beyond the list you'll see a few of the new trailers unveiled by the publisher...

  • ARMY OF TWO: THE DEVIL'S CARTEL- Electronic Arts had already announced their new reboot for the Army Of Two franchise, and now they've provided us with an exciting new trailer and release window for the game. Army Of Two: The Devil's Cartel will launch in March 2013, pitting itself against big newcomers like Tomb Raider, South Park: The Stick Of Truth and Gears Of War: Judgement.
  • NHL 13- Just a brief note here to say that the hockey franchise's next instalment is indeed on its way this Autumn, with a confirmed demo release date of August 21st and a full product release date of September 13th.
  • NEED FOR SPEED: MOST WANTED- Another brief update here really- Criterion Games have announced that their remake of Most Wanted will feature a cool online segment called 'Drift Challenge'. The name speaks for itself really, but there you go.
  • MEDAL OF HONOR: WARFIGHTER- Just a new trailer here for the much-anticipated sequel to 2010's Medal Of Honor reboot, this time showcasing the 'Fire Team' co-op online component.
  • BATTLEFIELD 3: PREMIUM EDITION- In perhaps the most cash-milking twist since Dead Island: Game Of The Year Edition, EA are providing us with a new edition of Battlefield 3 that will package in a one-year membership to the Premium club of early DLC. This will also pack in access to all five of the currently released DLC packs including exclusive weapons and vehicles. Battlefield 3: Premium Edition ships this September.
  • CRYSIS 3- Just another small update on this front, here looking at the 'Hunter' multiplayer mode which pitches the game's protagonists against CELL soldiers. Visually impressive stuff!
  • DEAD SPACE 3- A slightly updated version of the E3 reveal demo was on show for this latest entry in the horror sci-fi franchise. Dead Space 3 has been confirmed to ship on February 5th.
More EA announcements regarding the Nintendo WiiU and other new projects are expected in the next few months, so keep it On-Screen for all the big updates!

The Muppets Christmas Carol For Re-Release?

Will the best Christmas movie ever return to cinemas?
Here's a scary fact- The Muppets Christmas Carol turns 20 this November. Yep, it really has been two whole decades since that festive, heartwarming cinematic masterpiece landed in cinemas across the world, an accolade that's definitely ripe for celebration come this impending Winter. How might we get to celebrate the anniversary? Rumour has it Christmas Carol will be re-released in British cinemas ahead of a confirmed DVD and Blu-Ray anniversary set, so fans of the original cut will likely get another chance to see it on the big screen before watching the absolute best visual quality version of the flick comes out as a hi-def release. If you missed it first time around or haven't watched it since (and really, what have you been doing if that's the case?), this is the best chance you're ever likely to get. And of course, let's be honest, it'll be in 3D! If the reports are right, then The Muppets Christmas Carol hits cinemas on November 23rd.

Gamescom: New Star Wars 1313 Trailer Debuts

George Lucas' sci-fi franchise goes where it has never gone before...
E3 2012 had only a handful of highlights- Halo 4, Watch Dogs and The Last Of Us among them- but boy, did they impress, and one of them was undoubtedly Star Wars 1313. Set in the underworld of Coruscant, this new video game project focuses on a bounty hunter team (one of whom is rumoured to be Boba Fett) attempting to infiltrate the dangerous 'Level 1313' while blasting their way through hordes of deadly enemies. Germany's Gamescom convention has allowed for the release of a brand new trailer for the game, and while there's little in the way of new footage in there bar at the preview's climax, it still looks visually and aesthetically stunning nevertheless. Expect more details on the product's launch consoles before the end of the year. Star Wars 1313 ships in 2013.

Monday, 13 August 2012

Sherlock News: The Casebook Announced

Get the ultimate insight into the modern world of Holmes!
BBC Books have today announced the publication of Sherlock: The Casebook for release later this year. A new version of the analytical text The Great Game, which treated Arthur Conan Doyle's detective stories as genuine reality and had critics discuss them, this extension of sorts to what the marketing teams of Steven Moffat's shows have done with The Brilliant Book Of Doctor Who (an annual release that now seems likely to return at the end of Series Seven in early 2013) will do the same. This will mean stars like Benedict Cumberbatch, Martin Freeman and Andrew Scott are going to examine their own roles in/the narratives of A Study In Scarlet, The Blind Banker, The Great Game, A Scandal In Bohemia, The Hounds Of Baskerville and The Reicenbach Fall. It should certainly be a captivating read for series fans, as well as providing an intriguing look at what the third series may hold...Sherlock: The Casebook is published on October 25th in the UK, while Sherlock returns to BBC1 in Summer 2013.

New Being Human Cast Member Announced

Phil Davis arrives on BBC3's hit fantasy drama in 2013!
Despite a whole heap of primary cast changes in its most recent season, Being Human has been flourishing on BBC3 of late thanks to its cult status and general critical praise on fantasy sites. The fantastical drama will return in the not-too-distant future, and we now have it confirmed that Phil Davis will join its cast for Season Five. Davis will play Captain Hatch, a human character who the BBC marketing team are saying is an "aged army captain with a dark and toxic secret that could rattle your fear". It sounds as if Hatch will be a majorly different antagonist to those vampire lords we've seen take on the main trio of vampires, werewolves and ghosts in the past four seasons, but did the teaser campaign of 'He Will Rise' refer to Davis' character, or an even greater threat? We'll have to wait and see for the answer to that mysterious dilemma! Being Human returns to BBC3 in Spring 2013.

Gamescom: New LEGO The Lord Of The Rings Trailer Revealed

What destiny will players have when controlling the One Ring?
Anticipation is rising for Travellers Tales' next LEGO game, and rightly so- based around the Lord Of The Rings trilogy, it's not likely one you'll want to miss. The title will be released close to the time of The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey's debut in cinemas, but instead focus on Peter Jackson's 2001-2003 movie adaptations of JRR Tolkien's classic three-part novel rather than the upcoming split version of his prequel text. This will likely mean a LOTR 2 focusing on The Hobbit hits next year, yet for now we can at least sleep safe with the knowledge from the newly-released trailer you can watch below that this fabled franchise is in very safe hands. Take a look for yourselves...LEGO The Lord Of The Rings ships on consoles everywhere this Autumn.

Sunday, 12 August 2012

Coming Up This Week: August 13th-19th

A look ahead at the next seven days of entertainment...
On-Screen's still on its mini-hiatus until August 22nd, but there are definitely a few releases you should be looking out for in the next week or so. Here's a quick recap of what the next seven days' biggest releases are and why you should be looking out for them...
THE BOURNE LEGACY- Jeremy Renner is headlining the Bourne franchise spin-off named The Bourne Legacy, which takes agent Aaron Cross into an international conspiracy interwoven with Matt Damon's Jason Bourne. What will the consequences of the missing man's actions be...? (Monday 13th)
SLEEPING DOGS- We're still waiting for news on Grand Theft Auto V, so at least now we've got the next best thing! Sleeping Dogs is a Hong Kong-set open-world shooter thriller which is sure to entice any fans of Rockstar's acclaimed franchise and indeed revolutionise the way we look at the Chinese capital. Game Of The Year material, perhaps? We'll have to wait and find out...(Friday 17th)
AND THERE'S MORE- Amanda Seyfried's new movie thriller Gone lands on DVD and Blu-Ray tomorrow; Step Up 4: Miami Heat kicks off a cinema reign of dance-fuelled fun this Wednesday; Sinbad and The Newsroom continue on Sky1 and Sky Atlantic respectively; plus the aftermath of the Olympic Games is revealed and loads of games news fresh from the German convention Gamescom!
ON THE BLOG- We'll have all the Gamescom coverage you need; reviews of great new films; more news and features to come in the second week of our minor hiatus.
AND NEXT WEEK...Transformers: Fall Of Cybertron blasts its way onto video games consoles everywhere (and Doctor Who's return grows nearer, likely September 1st)!

Fast Girls Review

The fastest, most daring sports drama there is?
Let's be honest, with a film like Fast Girls, you know just about exactly what you're getting. Released no doubt in an attempt to shoehorn some cash out of the Olympics passions fuelling Great Britain even back in June, this fun flick actually channels some of what makes our athleticism so refreshing and unique here in the United Kingdom. The storyline's as predictable as you would expect, yet there's still a good old-fashioned feel of goodwill and speed about the whole endeavour that's missing from so many near-identical sports and dance romps nowadays. Better yet, there's a hugely lovable cast of British stars- from Being Human's Leonara Crichlow to Merlin's Bradley James, from Sherlock's Rupert Graves to Rome's Phil Davis and Doctor Who's Noel Clarke, there'll definitely be someone that Brit fans recognise and love to see in action here, which is refreshing to say the least and makes for a few 'Aha!' moments throughout. Of course, it's by no means abundant in surprises, quite the opposite- some of the dialogue segments and setpieces are so retreaded from sports movie classics that you might as well lip-sync them as they come along, despite the quirkiness and enjoyability of it all. While Fast Girls isn't an exceptional piece, as films go it's well worth a watch for fans of the Games, sports films and indeed the great realms of British stardom.

On-Screen's Videos Of The Week (August 6th-12th)

A new semi-regular feature recapping some great vids you may have missed!
Here at On-Screen, we like to bring you some of the hottest video previews released by distributors, but it's impossible to cover everything. As such, on a now semi-regular basis, we'll be recapping some of the best videos available on YouTube which deserve your time. Without further ado, then here are a few more great clips that warrant your attention in the hours to come...
Were you as disappointed with Prometheus, particularly its ending, as the rest of us who had been eagerly anticipating the sci-fi prequel? Well, then, here's a little bit of consolation- How It Should Have Ended is a great video feed which provides new animated conclusions to much-loved films, showing off their passion and love for brilliant flicks by picking up on their quirks. You can find more via this video, but this really sums up Prometheus' flaws hilariously.
As someone who's been rewatching The Lord Of The Rings Extended Editions recently, Sean Bean's line that 'one does not simply walk into Mordor' warranted more than a few sniggers from me. To see it remixed and replayed, then, is just strangely hilarious. Take a look...
Finally, a wonderfully charming rendition of what the past couple of series of Doctor Who might look like as a classic Nintendo SNES video game. One for the series fans to watch now, this is.

UK Film Charts: July 30th-August 5th

Seth MacFarlane's new comedy bests Batman!
We here in the UK never seem to have been afraid of kicking out best-selling critical hits from the top of our charts when new lighthearted comedies come into the fray. Proof of this? In the past week, Ted has managed to take The Dark Knight Rises out of the top spot equation despite the latter performing much better than the former in terms of worldwide sales. It's not unprecedented by any means, and certainly flicks like The Expendables 2, Keith Lemon and The Bourne Legacy could fare well too in weeks to come, but it's a shame to see what is quite possibly the best film of 2012 so far held back by a weaker romp. Here's the chart in full:
8. MAGIC MIKE (TF: 4/5)
6. BRAVE (NEW, TF: 3/5)
5. THE LORAX (TF: 2/5)
1. TED (NEW, 3.5/5)

Saturday, 11 August 2012

The Twilight Saga's Ending Changed?

Could the Breaking Dawn storyline have strayed from its source?
Twilight fans will no doubt be excited to see what Breaking Dawn: Part 2 holds in its adaptation of the second half of the final novel. It turns out, though, that the storyline of the last film may not directly follow its source text all the way through. The evidence for this? Entertainment Weekly's recent coverage of the series finale brought up the idea in the following statement: "Even devoted readers of Meyer's books are in for a pretty big shock in the final third of the film, when the plot strays from the last novel in a sequence dreamed up by Meyer and longtime screenwriter Melissa Rosenberg one night over dinner. "When I first read the script, I got to that part and was like, What??" says Robert Pattinson, "And then I had to go back a page." Still, even those averse to change will be more than satisfied, and more likely thrilled, by how the series ends." I won't go into details in the way the story wraps up, but I'd say we can expect more tension and action after the lacklustre reception to Part 1 (2.5/5). We can probably expect a new trailer for the finale to arrive next month. The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn Part 2 rips into cinemas on November 16th.

Doctor Who Series 7: What We Know

A guide to the latest adventures of our favourite Time Lord!
As of today, we've got three weeks now until Doctor Who returns to our television screens with five new blockbuster adventures. These gripping stories will again feature Matt Smith as the Doctor, Karen Gillan as Amy Williams and Arthur Darvill as Rory, taking the show towards its 50th Anniversary year and indeed marking the departure of the latter two stars from its cast. But just what do we know about these episodes, and indeed the remaining adventures of Series Seven that will follow them so far? Here's On-Screen's full guide of what we can expect from Who in days to come...
Judging by the recent Series Seven trailer, this explosive season opener sees the Doctor, Amy and Rory transported onto a Dalek mothership above Earth. Here, they appear to be zapped down to a new alien planet where the titular Asylum of classic Daleks awaits...but why the theatricality on the part of the Time Lord's oldest enemies, and what is their devious masterplan?
Boasting perhaps the best title ever conceived for a Doctor Who episode, this second adventure focuses on the Doctor assembling a gang of heroes including Amy, Rory, Rory's dad (played by Harry Potter's Mark Williams), Queen Neyfiri and a game-hunter to stop a dinosaur-carrying spaceship hurtling down to Earth. This will be another blockbuster story of intergalactic proportions, of that there is no doubt!
Next up, the Doctor takes Amy and Rory to the Wild West, where the trio come across cowboys, stallions and an evil cyborg character with a thirst for vengeance. Not lots is known about this one, but we can be sure to expect great writing and a truly empathetic and justified villain from the brilliant Being Human showrunner and Who regular writer Toby Whithouse.
What would the human race do if they were all offered a seemingly miraculous gift from an unknown source? According to Chris Chibnall, they would go via their love of free things and sweep it up, but of course that can lead to hidden surprises- here, it appears the magical cubes that sweep the planet Earth turn deadly, leaving the Doctor mortally wounded and Amy and Rory forced to work together (given their rumoured divorce...) against time to save him as UNIT tries to fend off an alien invasion.
And of course here we are, at the end of the Ponds. The Angels Wept is Amy and Rory's final adventure, and it boasts the return of both the Weeping Angels and the cunning companion River Song into the mix, as well as being set in both modern and 1930s New York. Rumour has it River becomes 'Melody Malone' in the past as Rory is zapped back by the Weeping Angels, but with Matt having been seen staring at two graves in a graveyard, will Amy perhaps decide to stay with Rory in the past, will both of them die, or will just one or none, those shots being some kind of ruse? There's not long until we find out!
We then take a short break to mourn the Ponds until Christmas Day, with the thirteen episodes of Merlin Series Five filling the gap. Once Who does return, it'll be to introduce Jenna-Louise Coleman as the new companion Clara. We already know that Richard E Grant and Tom Hart are headlining the Christmas Special, but on top of that it seems Madame Vastra, Jenny and Commander Strax are back for the first of multiple appearances in the final nine episodes of the season. It's also reported that Clara is a Victorian companion with dark secrets to be revealed...
After the Christmas Special, we'll either see eight more episodes starting the first Saturday of 2013, or indeed one or two months into next year. Little is known about the closing run of Series Seven, other than that Steven Moffat will pen two episodes, as will Mark Gatiss, with Neil Cross confirmed to write one other story. That leaves us with three writer spaces to fill, rumoured to be at least Neil Gaiman (in a new revamp of the Cybermen, apparently!) and Gareth Roberts.
The main season plot arc of Series Seven has yet to be revealed, but you can bet the Fields Of Trenzalore will have a part to play in the finale. If so, then River and the Silence will most definitely be back in Part Two. Expect seeds of whatever is to come to be planted even underneath the arc of the Ponds' departure in Part One- that's something we'll be looking into here at On-Screen as we go along...
Doctor Who returns on September 1st.

Sleeping Dogs Launch Trailer Released

Is this 2012's most exciting open-world video game?
In terms of the free-roaming video game genre, we've had little to play bar The Witcher 2 and The Amazing Spider-Man this year, but now we've got a new entry to keep our appetites sated until Assassin's Creed III- Sleeping Dogs. Brought to us by Square Enix and United Front Games, this ambitious new title is set in Hong Kong and features thrilling driving, combat, shooting and parkour sections blended to make one of the truly ultimate blockbuster gaming experiences. Whether it's Game Of The Year quality will be up to debate, but right now it's looking pretty darn fantastic. You can catch the launch trailer for the game below; Sleeping Dogs ships on August 17th.

New Hangover 3 Returnee Confirmed

Another member of the cast of the Hangover finale is confirmed...
We're starting to get ever more casting news on The Hangover: Part III in the run-up to the release of this final instalment in the comedy movie trilogy. Today marks another step in that direction, as Heather Graham has been confirmed to return for the third outing. Graham played a stripper who accidentally married Stu in the original Hangover, only for them to divorce later with hints of a potential future relationship. Clearly, that didn't happen, since in Part II Graham's character was axed and Stu got married to another, but perhaps the narrative of what became of their budding love might be picked up as a sub-plot to the rescue of Alan from a mental asylum in Vegas this time around. Expect a trailer for the film to surface before the end of 2012. The Hangover: Part III launches on May 24th, 2013.

Thursday, 9 August 2012

First Kick-Ass 2 Poster Debuts

The sequel to one of 2010's best films is on its way...
For anyone who doesn't quite remember Kick-Ass, it was a brilliant superhero comedy-drama movie that really served as a breakthrough for rising stars like Aaron Johnson, Chloe Grace-Moretz and Christopher Mintz-Plasse while also encompassing bigger stars such as Nicholas Cage and Mark Strong into a generally fantastic piece of cinema. It's been sometime now since that legendary cult great landed, so as is the way in the film industry, a follow-up was always waiting in the wings to keep fans happy and their money flowing into ticket booths. Lo and behold, Kick-Ass 2 has been 100% confirmed today with the release of the first poster for the superhero sequel online. As you can see here, bar the rather bloody '2' attached to the original logo and the release window, there's little more to see. All the same, though, after several cast members (including the main trio mentioned above, now much bigger stars) were attached to the project it's great to know that this second instalment in the proposed trilogy is most certainly on its way. Bearing in mind this is starting to shoot later this year, expect it to go up against Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues in the final months of the next one. Kick-Ass 2 hits cinemas in 2013.

New Halo 4 Trailer Debuts

The Chief is back- but how will he take arms?
There's still a fair wait to go until fans of Microsoft's biggest games franchise get their hands on its latest instalment, but we've at least now got a brand new trailer for Halo 4 to sate our appetites for a little longer. This unique preview shows off some of the weapons that the United Nations Space Command armed forces have gained in the three years that have passed since the events of Halo 3. In doing so, the promo video also reveals more footage of both the game's main story campaign and of course its multiplayer War Games and Spartan Ops components that come as part of the overall package. Could this be the best first-person shooter of 2012? Right now, it certainly doesn't look like that would be an unfair claim. You can catch the preview below; Halo 4 ships on November 6th.

Doctor Who: Dark Horizons Review

Does Jenny Colgan's sci-fi debut hit the mark?
In the past few years, we've had plenty of well-established authors- Michael Moorcock, Gareth Roberts, the list goes on- attempt to capture the essence of Doctor Who in literature form. Time and time again, though, these science-fiction franchise names have simply not had the confidence or free reign with the source material to take these novels where they needed to go to attain the best possible quality. While the latter constraint still clearly has an influence in her new piece, chick-lit author J.T. Colgan has far more confidence with Dark Horizons, a genuinely innovative piece which harkens back to the days of the classic series. The premise, for starters, comes from the mind of a self-confessed fan through and through: looking for a game of chess with someone, the Doctor lands in the time of the Vikings, only to find an island of unlikely allies plagued by an evil flame-based menace with little remorse and a need to survive. This may initially sound like a mere echo of The Curse Of The Black Spot, yet Colgan seems to almost toy with this narrative familiarity, creating lovable bands of memorable characters who find themselves forced to work together in the most unlikely of situations. The author's status as a fan certainly rings true throughout the storyline too, with references to the likes of Martha Jones, The Impossible Astronaut and the city of Atlantis placed at key points as sources of humour and nostalgia without becoming overly indulgent. Colgan's characterisation of the Doctor himself sometimes feels a little disjointed, treading the line between a portrayal of Matt's now-lonely hero of the shadows and indeed the even more insane Tom Baker incarnation, but if you consider each of the eleven versions of the character to be one 'man', then this should feel of little consequence overall.

As I mentioned earlier, the core crux of the narrative is strong, quintessential Who- however, there is still a sense that the team at BBC Books didn't want their new writer straying too far from well-covered territory in her first project, seeing as the Doctor is allowed to do little which would have any chance of impacting his overall series arc or indeed which would take the story in a hugely different direction to where Steven Moffat's on-screen interpretation heads in Series Seven. For the most part, though, this is fine, as Colgan does a brilliant job of maintaining one or two of her romantic writing roots while keeping up the sense of fun and adventure all the while. It's arguable that the story's second act sags a little, with the Doctor and pals basically thinking of ways in which to stop the fire menace impending upon the island, yet it's certainly not enough of a dull point to keep fans from seriously enjoying the book as a whole.

Doctor Who: Dark Horizons stands as one of the best tie-in novels to the show in recent times, a thoroughly compelling piece which leaves me very excited to see how Jenny Colgan would be allowed to handle a second entry should she be allowed to return as is her clear wish!

Who News: 50th Anniversary Biopic Announced

Journey on An Adventure In Time And Space next year!
Mark Gatiss will pen a new drama chronicling the inception of Doctor Who in time for the show's fiftieth anniversary, the BBC have confirmed today. Pitched as a biography-picture, the one-off 90 minute special An Adventure In Time And Space will focus on iconic staplemates of the series such as Verity Lambert and Sydney Newman while depicting the process with which the show was conceived and the early challenges its writers and producers had to overcome. This progrmame will form but one of plenty of celebratory anniversary events next year, with multiple special episodes of Who already planned to lead up to November 23rd, 2013 and more widespread events no doubt taking shape in the minds of the show's current marketing team. "This is the story of how an unlikely set of brilliant people created a true television original," says writer Gatiss, "And how an actor- William Hartnell- stereotyped in hard-man roles became a hero to millions of children. I've wanted to tell this story for more years than I can remember! To make it happen for Doctor Who's 50th Anniversary is simply a dream come true." More details on production, casting and broadcast scheduling will be confirmed early next year. An Adventure In Time And Space airs on BBC2 in 2013, while Doctor Who returns for its new run on September 1st.

Wednesday, 8 August 2012

Justice League Movie Director Revealed?

Is this the name of the man who'll bring us DC's biggest film?
Just a few months back now, DC Entertainment clearly cottoned onto the success of Avengers Assemble, announcing their own superhero team-up movie in the form of an adaptation of the Justice League iconic comic-book saga. Since then, though, we've heard little more of the project, and speculation has been rife on whether finished or unsuccessful movie properties like Batman and Green Lantern will have to be rebooted in order for their characters to gain weight in the ensemble. Nevertheless, with the revelation that Joss Whedon is back for Avengers 2 yesterday, DC seem to be kicking their project into high gear. The proof of this? A director for their new big movie has been reported as being in heavy discussions across the press-o-sphere: Ben Affleck. Affleck is famed for directing hit movies such as The Town, Gone Baby Gone and the upcoming Argo, so he's got a strong proportion of filmic experience under his best that may make him the perfect man for the job, Don't be surprised if Zack Snyder also remains in talks, though, especially if his Man Of Steel Superman reboot meets acclaim and financial success next year. Expect more details on the film, its characters, its narrative and indeed its production team in the coming weeks. Justice League is set for a 2015 release (against Avengers 2, wouldn't you know).

The Hobbit- How To Expand The Adaptations

How do you make two films into three? Here's my guide...
Peter Jackson's recent announcement that the previously announced The Hobbit film adaptation will no longer be split into two instalments, instead forming an entire movie trilogy, has proved divisive among fans. Actually, that's an ever-so-slight understatement: the vast majority of Tolkien diehards seem to think the move to turn a book that's shorter than The Fellowship Of The Ring into three films is one of the most cynical cash-grabs of recent times. Well, I'm here to say that they're wrong, and so are you if you're of that same mindset. Why? Because this is Peter Jackson we're talking about. This is the man who was told to do the Lord Of The Rings in one film, yet convinced New Line that it was worthy of two, then three motion pictures- sound familiar? If that isn't reason enough for you, though, then here's more details on how The Hobbit has plenty of room for expansion when it hits the big screen. I've recently reread the book these past few days, so what you're reading comes straight from someone who recalls the source text inside out....

  1. THERE AND BEFORE AGAIN- Anyone who opens up Tolkien's original novel will notice that immediately there's plenty of background context about Middle-Earth, the Shire, the Tooks and of course the Baggins set up by the author. Indeed, The Lord Of The Rings was much the same to a greater extent. The screenwriters had to work on showing the fall of Sauron, the corruption of the One Ring and the effects of Riddles In The Dark within just five minutes in their Fellowship Of The Ring adaptation, yet with the added screen-time provided here, there's plenty more time to explain where Bilbo came from, as well as what is happening with confirmed returning characters like Legolas and Saruman at the time of the book's opening.
  2. GANDALF- It isn't long before the wizard Gandalf The Grey appears in The Hobbit, ushering young Bilbo into an unexpected journey (see what I did there?) across rivers, forests, caves and mountains. Yet perhaps what stands as the most interesting part of the wizard's role in this classic novel is not what he gets up to when in the company of Mr Baggins and his dwarf company, but indeed what he gets up to when he's not. There are a good handful of occasions where we see Gandalf 'disappear' off to new locations, with the protagonists left wondering how he could have slipped out of their notice. We've already seen footage of Gandalf's outer-Hobbit exploits explored in the first trailer for Part 1, An Unexpected Journey, and this is something that could be developed considerably in the latter two instalments. What was that famed wizard up to? Well, that leads me to my next point...
  3. THE NECROMANCER- We find out later on in the tale that Gandalf has actually been convening with a council of wizards (including Saruman and Galadriel) on the threat posed by the sinister Necromancer in the North. Frequently, the wise man advises the Hobbit's company to avoid the North for fear of dangers far worse than Smaug The Dragon, and There And Back Again and the adaptation's finale could definitely make great use of footage to show just why we should too be scared of this dark evil. The Necromancer has been confirmed as being voiced by Benedict Cumberbatch, who also voices Smaug, though we can expect big differences in terms of dubbing, and perhaps Smaug's ultimate demise will be placed in Part 2 and the rise of the Necromancer in Part 3 to help avoid confusion. The crucial part about the Necromancer in relation to the main LOTR trilogy? Again, onto my next point...
  4. THE LORD OF THE HOBBITS- One potential way that Peter Jackson and his production team could easily expand the narrative of The Hobbit is to essentially extend its chronological reach as close to the events of The Lord Of The Rings as possible. We've already caught footage of Ian Holm's older Bilbo waving Frodo off, as well as writing letters explaining the events of his adventure in youth more clearly, and as long as it doesn't feel self-indulgent (i.e. we don't need the final shot to be Frodo saying 'Oh look, it's Gandalf!', this is still The Hobbit and not just a prequel!), then a more direct connection to the main trilogy could be a great move. Better yet, it would allow for a six-movie rewatch where we see the Necromancer become Sauron and then what happens to Sauron next, and really, who wouldn't want that?
  5. THE APPENDICES- As if Peter Jackson hasn't already made it clear enough already- he has, it seems people just refuse to listen beyond the cash cynicism- he'll be looking at the Appendices of The Lord Of The Rings: The Return Of The King and the extensive Simillarion sub-text for further Hobbit content, as both of these pieces contain large chunks of new details and story events that took place at the time six decades before the events of the trilogy. This should provide a huge leap in content for Jackson to plough, and while I doubt we'll see much of it in the completed An Unexpected Journey (which looks to take us from Chapters 1-8, just under the book's halfway point, encompassing up to 'Barrels Out Of Bond'), this new set of storylines should feature heavily in the final two films.
So there are just a few areas in which The Hobbit is rife for expansion, and I'm sure that there are plenty more Peter Jackson won't miss. Fundamentally, Jackson has already shown his extreme respect for the Rings franchise by a) making three incredible film adaptations and b) convincing New Line that he wants to tell the full Hobbit story, either by extended editions or as is now the case three films. This film adaptation could not be in safer hands, just as the Avengers series is safe now with Joss Whedon, so stop worrying and just get ready for another brilliant motion-picture trilogy! Feel free to leave your thoughts on the new trilogy via Facebook or Twitter or any of the other usual social networks I post the blog's articles on, and thanks as always for your continued support. The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey strides into cinemas on December 14th.

Tuesday, 7 August 2012

Marvel News: Avengers Franchise Future Update

Where will the Avengers universe head next, and who will take it there?
Ever since Avengers Assemble hit cinemas, fans have been desperate to know what is coming up in terms of the ensemble film franchise other than new standalone instalments. Although Marvel's Kevin Feige confirmed with Walt Disney Pictures recently that a sequel to the hit superhero team-up was indeed in the works, beyond that we knew little more. Of course, ComicCon saw the revelation of the 'Phase Two' prequel movies to Avengers 2, which consist of the following: Iron Man 3 (May 2013); Thor: The Dark World (November 2013); Captain America: The Winter Soldier (April 2014); Guardians Of The Galaxy (August 2014) and Edgar Wright's Ant-Man (Late 2014 or Early 2015), a big development in terms of the overall franchise, yet this was still hardly the Avengers update people were yearning for. Thankfully, today has brought that exact update. Joss Whedon will return to both write and direct Avengers 2 for a 2015 release, and on top of that, he'll be helming the proposed TV show spin-off to the main series. It's a big news breakthrough to be sure, and one we're likely to get loads more details on soon (hence why we'll now have a more regular 'Marvel News' section for both the films and comics), but for now it's just great to know that one of the year's best movies should get an incredible successor penned by the man who made its success possible. Avengers 2 will likely enter pre-production in early 2014, while the Avengers TV show is currently in the early stages of development.

EXCLUSIVE: Doctor Who Return Date Revealed?

Find out here first when the Doctor calls on BBC1...
Well, it's time. Time to find out the truth- just when does Doctor Who return to our screens via BBC1? The newly released trailer for Series Seven teased that the show 'Returns This Autumn', but as fans will no doubt have realised, it seems as if it will be some time before a definitive airdate is given. Thankfully, though, we here at On-Screen have the first and only scoop on the matter.

I sent a tweet today to the Doctor Who Magazine Twitter feed asking which episodes of the new season would be previewed in their 451st issue. The good team's reply? That the first three episodes of the run will be previewed. Now, we must bear in mind that Issue 451 is published on August 23rd, and Issue 452 on September 20th, and thus unless something has gone awry with scheduling, three of the five episodes due for transmission must air in that time. It's safe to presume that Cubed and the reportedly-titled Ponds finale The Angels Wept will be previewed in Issue 452, with Cubed then airing on September 22nd and the latter on the 29th. If this is the case (and I see no reason why not), then Asylum Of The Daleks will air three weeks before September 22nd, Dinosaurs On A Spaceship one fortnight and of course A Town Called Mercy one week before. Where does this presumably place Episode One's broadcast, then? Judging by this evidence, it seems that Doctor Who will return on none other than September 1st.

Originally, it seemed as if August 25th was the most likely airdate, but this revelation courtersy of the kind team at DWM seems to contradict that, and BBC America certainly have no broadcast of new Who planned for the initial rumoured date. Perhaps once again the Who finale and the Merlin season premiere will air on the same date of September 29th, which should boast a great evening of entertainment for drama fans. Either way, we've got fun times ahead! Doctor Who returns to BBC1 this Autumn.