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Sunday, 30 September 2012

Coming Up This Week: October 1st-7th

Merlin, Resident Evil and Liam Neeson return to our screens this week...
To kick off what's easily likely to be one of the busiest months of entertainment in 2012, we've got a host of great releases arriving in the next seven days. Merlin, Resident Evil 6, Taken 2, they're all here and accounted for in what promises to be a brilliant week of fun, scares and thrills. Here's the big highlights of what to expect...
PROMETHEUS DVD- Although its actual quality as a film (which we rated at 3/5) is up to debate, Prometheus was most certainly an action-packed prequel to Alien filled with incredible special effects and thought-provoking concepts. It'll be great to see the DVD and Blu-Ray special features including a 'Making Of' documentary that shows us just how Ridley Scott's vision was brought to the big screen. (Monday 1st)
TWO & A HALF MEN- Charlie Sheen may now be totally done and dusted with his past comedy, moving onto the decent series Anger Management, yet Two & A Half Men lives on still! Jon Cryer and Ashton Kutcher are at the head of the second new season, with Jake still off in the Armed Forces and Alan still shamelessly trying to keep his place in his late brother's house. (Monday 1st)
RESIDENT EVIL 6- We've already had Borderlands 2 kick off the Autumn Of Gaming, and there's still a couple of weeks before the absolute gaming blitz begins, but for now we've got the new horror shooter Resident Evil 6 to entice us. With the President's life in danger from an army of the undead, Chris Redfield must take back his role as an FBI agent once more for the ultimate mission...(Tuesday 2nd)
TAKEN 2- It's Liam Neeson. It's the Taken franchise. What more do you want to know? No, seriously, this time around the plot speaks for itself. If you liked the first film, chances are you'll enjoy this too- and that's all there really is to it. (Thursday 4th)
SKY MOVIES 007 LAUNCHES- Sky Movies Showcase is merging into Sky Movies 007, a brand new channel dedicated to James Bond that shows the twenty-two epic movies that lead up to Skyfall. This should be a re-run season to truly remember! (Friday 5th)
MERLIN: ARTHUR'S BANE PART 1- With the climax of Doctor Who Series Seven Part One, it would be easy to think that BBC1 would let up on their drama outings, yet Merlin's arrival for its fifth season proves otherwise. In the opener Arthur's Bane Part 1, Merlin, Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table must journey into the Frozen Wastelands to hunt down Mordred and discover the beginnings of his plan to destroy Camelot. Has the beginning of the kingdom's end occured...? (Saturday 6th)
AND THERE'S MORE- Snow White & The Huntsman and Modern Family- Season 3 will both land at DVD and Blu-Ray retailers tomorrow; plus the Game Of Thrones Sky1 re-run hits Episode 4, well worth a watch for those (such as myself) who miseed it first time around.
ON THE BLOG- We've got a big WORLD EXCLUSIVE to share with you on Wednesday so be ready for that. You want more? Okay, then- reviews of The Campaign; Merlin: Arthur's Bane Part 1; Two & A Half Men and more are all coming your way very soon, along with all the latest on the Who Christmas Special and a lot of exciting gaming news coverage too!
AND NEXT WEEK...Dishonored and Fable: The Journey herald the Autumn Of Gaming's big blitz, plus what will become of Mordred's plan as we reach Merlin: Arthur's Bane Part 2?...

October 2012: The Release Dates

Skyfall is just one of countless new releases headed your way this month!
James Bond's return to the big-screen is definitely a big one to look out for with Skyfall in October, but it's by no means this coming month's only big release. As always, I'm going to recap some of the multitude of releases you need to watch out for over the course of the next few weeks. Here we go, then- a look into perhaps this year's busiest month for the entertainment industry...
MONDAY 1ST- DVDs: Prometheus; TV: Two & A Half Men Returns; Threesome Returns
TUESDAY 2ND- GAMES: Resident Evil 6
THURSDAY 4TH- BOOKS: The Power Of Five: Oblivion
SATURDAY 6TH- TV: Merlin: Arthur's Bane Part 1
MONDAY 8TH- TV: Two & A Half Men Episode 2
FRIDAY 12TH- GAMES: Fable: The Journey; Dishonored
SATURDAY 13TH- TV: Merlin: Arthur's Bane Part 2
MONDAY 15TH- TV: Two & A Half Men Episode 3
FRIDAY 19TH- GAMES: 007 Legends
SATURDAY 20TH- TV: Merlin Episode 3
MONDAY 22ND- TV: Two & A Half Men Episode 4
FRIDAY 26TH- MOVIES: SkyfallGAMES: Forza Horizon; Medal Of Honor: Warfighter
SATURDAY 27TH- TV: Merlin Episode 4
MONDAY 29TH- TV: Two & A Half Men Episode 5
WEDNESDAY 31ST- GAMES: Assassin's Creed III

October 2012: Top 5 Most Anticipated Releases

Assassin's Creed III leads the procession in one of 2012's most action-packed months of entertainment yet...
As you'll soon begin to release, even if September seemed like a busy month for the entertainment industry, that was nothing compared to what's coming in the next four weeks. On-Screen has a WORLD EXCLUSIVE on its way in October, but there are countless big releases coming our way this month too to be very excited about. I've rounded up a Top 5 list here of the most thrilling retail products coming in October, so if you need a checklist of things to see/do in weeks to come, look no further...
5. DISHONORED- Bethesda's branch of Arkane Studios are igniting a new RPG flame this month, bringing Dishonored- a story of betrayal and immense violence- to video game consoles. It's visually impressive, the gameplay and narrative have plenty of threads, and you know what? If it's done right, this could well be a Game Of The Year contender. (Friday 12th)
4. FORZA HORIZON- We've not waited even an entire year since Forza Motorsport 4, and yet Turn 10 Studios have had Brit developer Playground Games on-the-go to bring us an all new instalment in the racing franchise. Horizon packs an open world, a fully-fledged storyline and enough exciting new elements to make it feel like a truly worthy new entry in the Forza universe! (Friday 26th)
3. MERLIN- It's time for the magic to return. Merlin's fought off Agravaine, but now his worst fears are coming to pass as the bane of King Arthur and his kingdom, Mordred, resurfaces more powerful and dangerous than ever. Can even everyone's favourite young warlock halt the rallying of a dark army that threatens to adapt the final tragic end of the legend as we know it...? (Saturday 6th, 13th, 20th, 27th)
2. SKYFALL- James Bond films have been running for 50 years now, and things are looking no less innovative with the release of Skyfall this month. With M losing the key code to countless agents' undercover missions to a terrorist, Agent 007 must face his most personal mission yet, and the biggest question is this: what will Mr Bond sacrifice in the name of Queen And Country? Will Judi Dench's character make it out alive? (Friday 26th)
1. ASSASSIN'S CREED III- At the top of the list, though, had to go one of the most anticipated video game finales of recent times. Assassin's Creed III will wrap up Desmond's journey in the franchise, as well as introducing us to a new Assassin, Connor, in the midst of the American Civil War. With everything up for grabs, the stakes for Desmond have never been higher, and one thing is for sure- not everyone will make it out of his final mission alive. (Wednesday 31st)

September 2012: Best Release

Doctor Who tops September's release schedule with a breathtaking finale for its two most faithful companions...
Thankfully, after a couple of rather sparse months for entertainment bar some great films, the industry has kicked back into full swing this month. Case in point- Doctor Who. Now into its seventh season, many were expecting that things were going to start to feel stale, but with Asylum Of The Daleks and A Town Called Mercy in particular the show's writers proved in its opening three weeks alone that it still really meant business. Of course, one episode had to come out on top for September's Best Release, and that legendary instalment was naturally The Angels Take Manhattan. Featuring stunning CGI, a breathtaking and daring storyline the likes of which has only been rivalled before by the one other show the Moff heads (Sherlock, if you didn't remember) and of course the best turns yet from Matt Smith, Alex Kingston, Karen Gillan and Arthur Darvill, the episode was a beautiful finale for the latter two performers, who I'm sure will go on to do great things outside of the sci-fi drama. That the programme is in such rude health heading into its 50th Anniversary is really saying something, and Angels stands as the epitome of the reasoning behind bringing the programme back in 2005 and still having here pulling in fantastic 7-9 million final ratings every week. Roll on the Christmas Special!...
JANUARY 2012- Sherlock: The Reichenbach Fall (Runner Ups: War Horse; Sherlock: A Scandal In Belgravia)
FEBRUARY 2012- The Muppets
MARCH 2012- Mass Effect 3 (Runners Up: Glee: Yes/No; The Hunger Games)
APRIL 2012- Avengers Assemble (Runners Up: The Witcher 2: Enhanced Edition; The Cabin In The Woods)
MAY 2012- Max Payne 3 (Runner-Up: House: Everybody Dies)
JUNE 2012- Rock Of Ages (Runners-Up: LEGO Batman 2: DC Superheroes; Spec Ops: The Line)
JULY 2012- The Dark Knight Rises (Runner-Up: The Amazing Spider-Man)
AUGUST 2012- Transformers: Fall Of Cybertron (Runner-Up: The Newsroom: 5/1)
SEPTEMBER 2012- Doctor Who: The Angels Take Manhattan (Runners-Up: Doctor Who: Asylum Of The Daleks; Borderlands 2)

Who News: Torchwood Future; eBooks And More

Melody Malone; Series Seven On DVD and Peter Jackson!
What with the two-month wait we now have until the sixth episode of Doctor Who Series Seven (and the Christmas Special) airs on BBC1, you'd be forgiven for thinking that the press team would quieten down a bit on the news front. You'd be wrong, though- in the aftermath of The Angels Take Manhattan, a whole heap of exciting revelations and confirmations have come our way. Here they are in full...

  • eMELODY- BBC Books have confirmed that Doctor Who: The Angels' Kiss- A Melody Malone Mystery will be released exclusively on eBook devices this week. A novelised prequel to the mid-season finale that saw off the Ponds, Kiss will focus on why River adopted her persona and what her fictitious character got up to before Rory was zapped back in time. The Angels' Kiss hits eBook online retailers on Thursday October 4th.
  • SERIES SEVEN PART 1 ON DISC- We've now seen the entirety of Doctor Who Series Seven Part One on the telly, so naturally it's coming to DVD and Blu-Ray soon. The 'Part 1' boxset will package together Asylum Of The Daleks, Dinosaurs On A Spaceship, A Town Called Mercy, The Power Of Three and The Angels Take Manhattan along with Pond Life, intriguing prequels to Episodes One & Three which tease future arcs and a documentary from the States called The Science Of Doctor Who. At an RRP of £18-22, it's a meaty and worthwhile package, but of course this'll all come as part of the bigger Series Seven boxset when that arrives in stores next Summer. Doctor Who: Series Seven Part 1 heads to disc retailers everywhere on October 29th.
  • CHRISTMAS CHORUS- At a BAFTA press screening of The Angels Take Manhattan, Steven Moffat revealed a few sneaky details on the Christmas Special. The exec confirmed that we will indeed learn more of Jenna-Louise Coleman, her character's fate and more in the episode, plus Madame Vastra, Jenny and Commander Strax of A Good Man Goes To War fame will all be back in action too.
  • WHO GOES DOWN UNDER?- The 'other' Who exec Caroline Skinner has been teasing that the BBC may soon enter talks with Peter Jackson about the idea of shooting an episode directed by him over in New Zealand. The news comes after Jackson showed interest in filming for the series, although of course Skinner did confirm that any such episode would have massive budgetary requirements and would need to take place after the 50th Anniversary episodes at the very earliest. All the same, it's exciting news.
  • TORCHWOOD: THE FUTURE- Finally, we've heard confirmation once again from Starz that Torchwood won't be back "for a while". Apparently it was never intended that Russell T Davies would helm a season every year, but we're probably not looking at anything until late 2013 at the very earliest, and even then it's best not to hold your hopes up.
Doctor Who returns to BBC1 on December 25th.

NSA & WhatCulture Article Round-Up

All the latest from yours truly 'abroad'!
As always, I'm endeavouring to keep you posted (no blog pun intended) on all of the features and reviews I'm providing the wider world of entertainment with over at WhatCulture and Non Specific Action. As such, we're here for another round-up of my latest contributions to those sites, with links to each of the articles. Here goes nothing...
UK GAMES CHARTS ANALYSIS DOUBLE BILL (SEPTEMBER 10TH-23RD)- Borderlands 2 has swept in the games market here in Britain and topped the charts in the last week. For all the big chart changes, just follow the link...http://nonspecificaction.co.uk/uk-games-charts-analysis-double-bill-september-10th-23rd-16272
BORDERLANDS 2 REVIEW DIARY PART ONE- I'll be providing my full verdict on Gearbox's big RPS shooter sequel Borderlands 2 at NSA over the next couple of weeks, starting with this opening playthrough of the first 40% of the main campaign's big bulk of missions. See what you think: http://nonspecificaction.co.uk/borderlands-2-review-diary-part-1-the-opening-hours-16289
WHY GLEE'S SEASON PREMIERE WAS THE BEGINNING OF THE END- I ended up awarding the first episode of Glee's fourth season a mesely 3.5/5 score last week, and that was being kind: it looks like if the show doesn't buck up its ideas, it'll be running in very hot water indeed. My thoughts: http://whatculture.com/tv/why-glees-season-premiere-was-the-beginning-of-the-end.php
DOCTOR WHO: THE TOP 5 GREATEST POND ADVENTURES- In the build-up to the Ponds' big departure on Doctor Who, I penned a feature recapping their best episodes on the show over at WC. Does Angels fit in there now? I'd say a definite yes, but what do you think?...http://whatculture.com/tv/doctor-who-top-5-greatest-pond-adventures.php

Doctor Who: The Angels Take Manhattan Review

The end of the Ponds has come- was it worth the wait?
It's been a brilliant run for Doctor Who- the five blockbuster adventures Steven Moffat teased throughout the run-up to Series Seven Part One have certainly arrived in full force, providing a thoroughly satisfying send-off season for the Ponds. And The Angels Take Manhattan? It's perhaps the most tasty possible icing on the already succulent cake of one of the best incarnations of the modern era yet.

We opened with a creepy pre-titles sequence where an FBI agent finds himself hunted by the ever-haunted Weeping Angels, his older dying self and the Statue of Liberty itself. If ever there were a need for some more fear to be injected back into the Angels after Blink, it was now, and in this respect the Moff didn't disappoint. Contrary to some of our expectations, the Lonely Assassins were integral to the departures of Amelia and Rory Williams, adding a number of shocks and twists in this masterful timey-wimey tale. Perhaps the Statue of Liberty twist may have been one step slightly too far in terms of plot feasability, but it's really hard to care when the rest of the episode was so damn brilliant.

It was always going to be interesting to see how the Moff handled the return of the rather-infamous River Song onto the scene after Series Six's intense character-led arc. Thankfully, the executive producer and head writer made great use of his much-loved character, placing River in multiple positions of power, from the tempting fictitious character of Melody Malone to a wife determined to save her beloved from making a mistake that would plunge him into darkness to a daughter of two parents whose effect on her she must hide to 'save' our favourite Time Lord. The more you think about it, the more credit you must give to Alex Kingston for a truly fantastic, underplayed performance this time around.

If we're giving credit to actors, though, then we must return to our three leads for the ultimate accolades. Karen Gillian and Arthur Darvill have given plenty of fantastic performances on the show, but Angels took things to new heights, as they remained truly convincing in their seemingly final moments of leaping from one of NYC's towering spires. That it seemed the Williams had survived against all the odds made the tragic final act of the Angels all the more terrifying and moving for us viewers. We'll miss these sacred companions, yet at least we've got the incredible Matt still on board. His pleading "Come along, please, Pond" as he realised he was about to say his 'final farewell' to his most faithful companion was beautiful, as was his earlier reaction to discovering his future and indeed his reactions towards River in the moments straight after the deaths of his friends. "River, they were your parents...I never even asked" perfectly summarised the Doctor's selfishness at only wanting to protect his own friendship rather than anything else, a sublime evolution of the darker Eleventh incarnation that's beginning to emerge.

Coupled with the fantastic direction, soundtrack and CGI, Steven Moffat's fateful final storyline for the Ponds stands as one of the standout best episodes of Doctor Who since its resurrection in 2005, quite possibly ever if we're really thinking of the fourty-nine years as a whole of the programme. We will miss Amy and Rory deeply, yet they've gone out with the biggest bang possible, and we know already that with Jenna-Louise Coleman there are very exciting days to come!

Merlin News: Episodes 1 & 2 Synopses Released

Find out what's to come in the opening two-parter of Series Five!
The BBC have this week released press synopses for the first and second episodes of Merlin's fifth season. Titled Arthur's Bane, this two-part opener takes the fantasy show to dark new territory, as Arthur and Merlin are forced to investigate what Mordred and Morgana have been plotting in the North in the three years that have passed since Series Four. What can we expect from Episodes 1 & 2? Find out below...

  • ARTHUR'S BANE: PART 1- Arthur has never felt stronger, with Queen Guinneviere and the Knights of the Round Table at his side. But even as Camelot flowers, so the seeds of her destruction are being sewn. For in the Frozen Wastelands of the North, men are disappearing without trace. In search of answers, King Arthur and his Knights must undertake a mission into the unknown.
  • ARTHUR'S BANE: PART 2- Ancient prophecies on Mordred way heavy on Merlin, for not even he can sway Arthur from his chosen path. As dawn breaks across the icy tundra, Merlin and Arthur are close to exhaustion. With each tortured step, the fortress of Ismere looms ever nearer and Merlin's fear intensifies. What game is Mordred playing? And what powerful secrets are Morgana and the druid Ruadan searching for amongst its twisted catacombs? It seems like this time, not even Merlin can stop Arthur from entering the lion's den...For in this bleak and transient wilderness, only one thing is certain: the great trial of Albion has begun.
Merlin returns on BBC1 next Saturday in Arthur's Bane: Part 1 at 7.35pm.

Saturday, 29 September 2012

Looper Review

Film Of The Year, or trapped in its own loop?
There's been a lot of buzz surrounding Looper recently, and to a large extent the hype comes with good reason. As intelligent and ambitious science-fiction movies go this year, you certainly aren't going to find many flicks that better this one that's led by Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Bruce Willis and Emily Blunt. Thankfully, the writing team and cast defy expectations of this being a standard blockbuster, blending time-travel, flashbacks, narrative jumps and even elements of horror to form a piece of cinema that often borders on masterful storyline.

Visually, Looper packs a punch, with the beautiful futuristic city vistas of 2044 contrasting starkly with the dystopia-esque world ravaged by the sinister Rainmaker thirty years later. Its premise isn't for want of surprise either, with Gordon-Levitt and Willis both playing a character determined to alter their destiny, whatever the cost to their future (or indeed past). The idea of the titular 'Loop' is handled magnificently, essentially setting up a rich universe full of potential for future instalments should the movie be enough of a success to warrant it. The pacing is delicate, not a rollocking rollercoaster ride like The Dark Knight Rises but no sci-fi drag like Total Recall either, which definitely makes the entire viewing experience enjoyable. Gordon-Levitt, Willis and Blunt all give fantastic performances as the protagonists here, while Pierce Gorgon is a terrifyingly strong young find in the role of the strange youth Sid too. Having The Newsroom's Jeff Daniels on board for a few cameos as well? That's just the icing on the gloriously tasty cake.

For all its strengths, though, it's Looper's resolution which lets it down as an overall film product. Whereas the first half of the movie strongly suggests that its climax will involve complex, psychological and time-twisting shocks, when it arrives it seems as if the writers are in a bit of a rush to wrap up all of the loose ends. The final actions our warped hero takes in order to secure the safety of the ones he loves make total sense in isolation, yet put into the context of the future that's still to come it feels like a rude awakening for his other self. It'll be up to your own interpretation as to whether the final fate of Joseph is worth the cost and a narrative success, but for me it was the section of the film that placed it apart from those entries of cinematic entertainment that I've handed 5/5 scores here so far this year. What's the verdict, then? Looper has its minor drawbacks, and the ending will likely be talked about for years to come (many hated Inception's wrap-up, for example, and I loved it), but as a whole it's an absolutely fantastic new science-fiction movie that deserves the attention of fans of the genre and the film industry in general.

Wednesday, 26 September 2012

Dawn Of The Planet Of The Apes Loses Its Director

Rupert Wyatt departs the 2014-set CGI sequel.
20th Century Fox have today confirmed that they're on the hunt for a new director for Dawn Of The Planet Of The Apes, with Rupert Wyatt now having left the project. While no official reasoning was given for why the director of Rise Of The Planet Of The Apes could no longer continue with its follow-up, it is believed that Wyatt was afraid he could not successfully meet the hectic Summer 2014 schedule that lay before him and provide a worthy second instalment in the prequel Apes saga. The producers will unresoundingly want to get the film back on-the-run within the next few weeks to kick things off proper with Andy Serkis and the new cast before the end of the year, and thus we can probably expect a replacement director announcement for the project from Fox very soon. Dawn Of The Planet Of The Apes is set for release on May 23rd, 2014.

WiiU US Launch Line-Up Announced

The TWENTY-THREE games shipping alongside the WiiU in the States from Day One are revealed!
We're now just two months away from the launch of the Nintendo WiiU next-generation video gaming console here in the United Kingdom; as a celebration of sorts, its publisher has confirmed the twenty-three launch games which will ship alongside the console at its Stateside launch which will no doubt be similar to our own line-up. It's an impressive list, and one that will no doubt be supported by some great new WiiU exclusives in the months following the console's launch. Here's the list in full:

  • New Super Mario Bros U
  • Ninja Gaiden 3: Razor's Edge
  • Nintendo Land
  • Sing Party
  • Call Of Duty: Black Ops II
  • Skylanders Giants
  • Transformers Prime
  • Total Wipeout 3
  • Disney Epic Mickey 2: The Power Of Two
  • FIFA 13
  • Tekken Tag Tournament 2
  • Sonic & All-Stars Racing Transformed
  • Warriors Orochi 3
  • Darksiders II
  • Assassin's Creed III
  • ESPN Sports Connection
  • Just Dance 4
  • Rabbids Land
  • Your Shape: Fitness Evolved 2013
  • ZombiU
  • Scribblenauts Unlimited
  • Game Party Champions
  • Batman: Arkham City- Armored Edition
The WiiU launches in the UK on November 30th- stay tuned for the definitive Brit launch line-up confirmation!

Mass Effect, Assassin's Creed Trilogies Announced

Play back two of the greatest video game trilogies of all time!
EA and Ubisoft have unveiled some exciting news for Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 fans today. Mass Effect Trilogy is coming to 360 and PS3 this Winter, featuring all three games in the Mass Effect saga so far, with the original Mass Effect having never been on PS3 till now and all of the big DLC packs for the three epic sci-fi instalments included too. Meanwhile, Assassin's Creed followers may well be happy to hear that Assassin's Creed: Ezio Trilogy will ship for PS3 two weeks after ACIII, allowing those of you who missed out on either Brotherhood and/or Revelations to make up for your mistake in a three-disc set featuring both of the side-sequels and of course Assassin's Creed II itself. If you own all of the original games for either of these collections, then thus there's little point in shelling out for this bar true fandom limits, but if you're new to either franchise then there's certainly been no better chance to jump on than this! Mass Effect Trilogy ships for 360 and PS3 on November 6th, while Assassin's Creed: Ezio Trilogy lands exclusively on PlayStation 3 on the 30th.

Tuesday, 25 September 2012

Coming Up This Week: September 26th-30th

JK Rowling returns to the literary scene, plus the Ponds depart Doctor Who in its mid-season finale!
The next few days of entertainment are going to be extremely busy for fans of movies, books, and TV shows- considering that if you're reading this blog you are likely to fill into one of those categories, then, there's more than likely something for you here. Just what is on its way? Here's our full guide to the coming week's big releases...
THE CASUAL VACANCY- It's time for J.K. Rowling to move past Harry Potter into new territory. With The Casual Vacancy, the acclaimed author sends us to a local village in need of a new parish counciler, where dark secrets and elusive characters lie beneath the surface of its society. (Thursday 26th)
LOOPER- Bruce Willis and Joseph Gordon-Levitt are back in action this week in a thrilling science-fiction adventure sure to make waves in the film industry. Can Looper scoop Film Of The Year awards? With its time-travel action premise echoing the sci-fi greats such as Doctor Who and Star Wars, this movie's already in my good books. (Friday 27th)
THE CAMPAIGN- More big stars are making their returns here- it's Zach Galifinakas and Will Ferrell! In light of the Stateside Presidential campaign, The Campaign puts a focus on two senatorial candidates who will do just about everything to get their role in Congress. Don't expect absolute wonders, but definitely expect big laughs aplenty, something the movie industry has been sorely lacking recently! (Friday 27th)
DOCTOR WHO: THE ANGELS TAKE MANHATTAN- It's time- the end of the Ponds' journey with the Doctor has arrived. When the Weeping Angels take control of New York City, zapping Rory back in time to the 1930s, it's up to the Doctor, Amy and River Song to find their friend and stop their greatest foes before it's too late. But tragedy lies in the wings, as the Time Lord must ask himself a question: is it already too late to save his most faithful friends? (Saturday 27th)
AND THERE'S MORE- Avengers Assemble has just hit DVD and Blu-Ray retailers everywhere, so why not pick yourself up a copy of that fantastic superhero movie? There's a Phase One boxset also including Iron Man, Iron Man 2, The Incredible Hulk, Thor and Captain America: The First Avenger for the true Marvelites among you.
ON THE BLOG- We'll be bringing you the definitive verdicts on Looper; The Casual Vacancy and of course The Angels Take Manhattan in days to come, plus doing a full preview of the new season of Merlin and keeping you up-to-date with all the latest games, film and TV coverage!
AND NEXT WEEK...Merlin blasts back to BBC1 with Arthur's Bane- Part 1, Anthony Horowitz brings us the finale to his The Power Of Five series and On-Screen has a big WORLD EXCLUSIVE waiting in the wings for you, dear readers!

Being Human For George, Nina Spin-Off?

Will Being Human's most-loved stars return for a special?
The cult BBC Three fantasy drama Being Human has remained a hit with fans throughout the years, but there's no doubt that the fourth season was lacking a certain something special- werewolf couple George and Nina. Portrayed by Russell Tovey and Sinaed Keenen, these two lovestrung unnatural beings were torn apart by their foes in an unseen demise at the premiere of the latest season. It was an undignified way for the pair of great actors to go, so the new comments Tovey has made via his Twitter towards the idea of a spin-off special for the characters may be reassuring! Nothing has been set in stone yet, but the BBC3 official Twitter account did remark that the idea had got many fans excited, and thus we might see something properly real come out of this in months to come. Here's what we do know for sure, though- Being Human returns to BBC3 in Spring 2013.

Monday, 24 September 2012

First The Wolverine Image Released

Hugh Jackman returns in this superhero thriller next Summer!
It's been a good few months now since we've been able to catch a big-screen superhero movie, what with The Dark Knight Rises having released way back in July, so it's reassuring today to get a glimpse at the genre's future. 20th Century Fox have today released the first official image of Hugh Jackman in The Wolverine. Jackman returns as the titular mutant (left), travelling to Japan after the events of X-Men Origins: Wolverine (2009) in order to save the woman he loves from the threat of the deadly Samurai forces that begin to surround him and his allies. Perhaps there'll be connections to the wider X-Men franchise, perhaps not- either way, Jackman and company are still going to have a tough time convincing many fans such as myself that this can redeem Origins and match up to Iron Man 3, Man Of Steel and Thor: The Dark World next year. We'll have to wait for the trailer, though. The Wolverine bursts into cinemas everywhere on July 26th, 2013.

Merlin Series Five Airdate Announced

The Magic Returns This October!
The Radio Times website has today confirmed the airdate of the opening episode of the fifth season of Merlin for broadcast on BBC1. Rumoured to be titled Arthur's Bone- Part 1, the season premiere takes place three years after the events of last year's finale, and features Colin Morgan as Merlin and Bradley James as King Arthur once again.

Here's the synopsis for Episode One: "Camelot faces a new golden age, but even as the city flowers, the dark seeds of its destruction are being sewn. In the frozen wastelands of the north, men are disappearing without a trace. King Arthur and his knights undertake a dangerous mission into the unknown in search of answers- but once there, Merlin finds himself locked in a battle unlike any he has fought before." It sounds as if the influence of Mordred and Morgana will be present right at the beginning- but what is the truth of the mystery? We'll find out on Saturday, October 6th at 7.30pm on BBC1!

Saturday, 22 September 2012

Doctor Who: The Power Of Three Review

Quality To The Power Of Three? Our Verdict!
It's fairly safe to say that this season of Doctor Who has retained a remarkable consistency in episode quality, with none of its stories so far scoring below a strong 4.5/5 (or even 5/5 for some) here, and thankfully The Power Of Three more than continues that happy trend. Sure, there are some imperfections here and there, but on a whole Chris Chibnall has provided us with another genius adventure that spends a little time delving into the psyche of the Ponds before their departure next week.

At first, the trailer campaign promoting the 'slow invasion of the Cubes' made Power sound a little dull to say the least, yet to a large extent it evoked a real sense of the Russell T Davies era of Who, packed with celebrity cameos (Alan Sugar! Brian Cox! Steven Berkoff!) and brimming with a knowledge of modern tech (Facebook! Twitter!) to enable a real confidence in its storytelling. Matt Smith interacted with the narrative's take on the Doctor well once again, and Chibnall wrote a truly captivating scene of the Doctor and Amy essentially discussing 'The End' by the riverside, which was rather lovely and touching. Jemma Redgrave meanwhile was beautiful in the role of the Brigadier's daughter and UNIT's new scientific leader Kate Stewart, someone who I'm sure long-term fans will be more than happy to see in the future. On top of that, the special effects on the bizarre nurse 'foes' and indeed the spaceship in the climax were very impressive.

Any flaws? Just one pressing one of note, really- the ending. Much as the final scene with the Doctor, Amy, Rory and Brian was a suitable send-off of sorts for this wonderful foursome, the preceding scene which dealt with the Shakri menace felt too cramped in the 3-5 odd minutes it seemed to have to wrap up the Cube storyline. What would Phase Two of the invasion have been? Were the Silence involved, given the use of the hologram? We'll see, but clearly not yet, as Power was far too busy rushing towards its end. On the plus side, though, this solitary shortcoming has little effect on the sheer enjoyment that The Power Of Three exuberated once again, another fine showing of Doctor Who that proves the programme is in mighty health for its seventh season!

Friday, 21 September 2012

NSA: BioWare's Future- A Mix Of Old & New

Mass Effect and Dragon Age are back, but that's not all...
As always, I'll make this NSA link piece brief- BioWare have this week confirmed a host of new projects that they're working on. They include new Mass Effect and Dragon Age instalments as well as a totally new IP (games franchise, for those readers not in the know), which seems to indicate they've put the ME3 ending furore behind them in favour of looking forward to a bright future! Check out the Non Specific Action for all the juicy details on these exciting developments. Here's the link: http://nonspecificaction.co.uk/bioware-returns-old-new-franchises-to-come-16258

The Incredible Hulk's Movie Future Teased

Where will The Volatile Avenger head next in the Marvel Cinematic Universe...?
We've already had it confirmed by Marvel Studios that their 'Phase Two' series of Avengers standalone/ensemble movies will consist of Iron Man 3, Thor: The Dark World, Captain America: The Winter Soldier, Guardians Of The Galaxy, Ant-Man and of course The Avengers 2, but even with this revelation always came one key question- where's the Hulk? Mark Ruffalo's brilliant rendition of the character certainly offered more scope for expansion, yet we've heard nothing of a standalone threequel for the green brute. The studio's executive producer Kevin Feige has started to provide answers, speculating on where the Hulk could develop into the future...

  • ON A STANDALONE MOVIE- "Do I think Hulk can carry a movie and be as entertaining as he was in Avengers Assemble? I do believe that, I do believe he absolutely could. We certainly are not even going to attempt that until [after] Avengers 2, so there's a lot of time to think about it."
  • ON THE POTENTIAL STORYLINE- "I don't think there's a lot that we couldn't do someday, as the cinematic universe continues to grow and expand and get as big as the comic book universe. Planet Hulk is a cool story. World War Hulk is a cool story."
  • ON THE RISKS- "I think there's pitfalls of continuity-overload, and mythology getting so dense that it almost collapses in on itself. It happens every few decades or so in the comics. Apart from that, I'd say everything is on the table."
For now, then, don't expect a new Hulk flick until at least 2016, but at least we know Mark Ruffalo will return as the character in The Avengers 2 in 2015. The imminent 'Phase Two' films are Iron Man 3- out in May 2013- and Thor: The Dark World, out November 2013.

WhatCulture: Top 10 Most Anticipated Films

Find out the flicks that will still keep you interested these next three months...
Did you think that the climax of the Summer Of Film meant that all of 2012's best movies were well and truly behind us? Well, if so, then prepare for a shock- there are plenty more great instalments of international cinema still to come in the final three months of the year. From Skyfall to The Hobbit, from The Campaign to Nativity! 2, there's really something for everyone in the weeks ahead, so over at WhatCulture I've summed up the most exciting ten entries in a new list feature article. Here's the link that will send you straight there and reveal all...http://whatculture.com/film/top-10-most-anticipated-films-still-to-come-this-year.php#comment-140189

Thursday, 20 September 2012

Injustice: Gods Among Us Dated

Find out when the big DC brawler hits consoles!
Detective Comics Interactive Entertainment and NeatherRealm Studios have today confirmed the release date for their new video game fighter project Injustice: Gods Among Us. Taking place in the DC Universe, this exciting brawler pits iconic characters such as Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman, the Flash and Harley Quinn against one another with a breathtaking innovative visual style and some new gameplay choices and integrations of other systems that might even give the title a chance of matching the likes of Street Fighter and Tekken. If the developers can get the fans behind this one, they might give it a fighting chance in what is often a rather quiet time of year. We'll see! Injustice: Gods Among Us launches on Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 on April 10th, 2013.

The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey Trailer Debuts

The Journey Begins This December- See The Full Trailer!
Those of you followers with good memories may recall that last December, Peter Jackson and the team at Warner Bros provided a massive tease for their upcoming Lord Of The Rings prequel two-parter of The Hobbit with the release of the first teaser trailer for An Unexpected Journey twelve months in advance of its release. Well, a lot has changed since then, with two films becoming three thanks to a whole lot of appendices content allowing for a big project expansion, and thus we've now arrived at a brand new trailer for the first movie out of the trilogy.

My thoughts? This new theatrical trailer does wonders to silence those who were feeling cynical about the three-film split, boasting fantastic special effects, very intriguing lore moments for even the most hardcore of fans, and a great mix of British and Hollywood talents. That we get just one drawn glimpse of Smaug and that we're only likely to get a brief CGI tease of the dragon at the film's climax doesn't seem to matter, which is really saying something for the quality of Jackson's storytelling abilities. And the best part? There's only three months left to go! The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey hits cinemas everywhere on December 14th.

Thanos Confirmed For Future Marvel Movies

The mid-credits Avengers tease is DEFINITELY going to have bigger consequences...
Remember Avengers Assemble? You know, that minor superhero ensemble movie which brought together a team of the world's most famed super-powered legends into one brilliant storyline with a great adversary? Well, now think back to the brief teaser scene we got in the credits that revealed the evil villain Thanos was behind the attack of the Chitauri in an attempt to invade Earth. We hadn't had any confirmation that this character would return in future Marvel Studios movies until now, but now his creator Jim Reilly has announced at the Montreal ComicCon that the enemy will be back at least two of the studio's upcoming planned feature flicks. Thanos will appear in Guardians Of The Galaxy, likely in a role behind-the-scenes once again that sheds more light on his plans, before making his full comeback as the central antagonist of The Avengers 2. Don't be surprised if Loki still has a hand in the action (possibly as an ally?) in the big sequel too given Tom Hiddleston's big success for his Avengers role, but this at the very least sheds light on where Marvel will take their exciting Cinematic Universe next. Iron Man 3 lands in cinemas on May 3rd, 2013; Thor: The Dark World on November 8th, 2013; Captain America: The Winter Soldier on April 4th, 2014; Guardians Of The Galaxy on August 1st, 2014 and The Avengers 2 on May 1st, 2015.

007 Legends Gets Goldfinger

One of Sean Connery's most famous adventures is reborn!
What with the 50th Anniversary of the original Bond movie Dr No and indeed the release of Skyfall on the way next month, 007 fans have a lot to be excited about! They shouldn't be forgetting, though, that Activision are bringing us a brand new licensed video game tie-in to help with the celebrations too. 007 Legends will merge together the storylines of five classic and modern James Bond films, another of which has just been revealed as Goldfinger. Released as the second film way back in 1964, this Connery legend saw the character dispatched to Latin America in order to defeat an evil warlord. It's classic Connery stuff, so it'll definitely be interesting to see how the 'Craigisation' of the plot occurs here to get it up to modern standards. The other four entries in the game are On Her Majesty's Secret Service, Die Another Day, License To Kill and Moonraker, while the Skyfall mission will be released as launch day DLC for those eager to get a straight adaptation of the new movie. 007 Legends hits retail for Wii, 360 and PS3 on October 12th, while Skyfall has its UK debut on the 26th.

Sherlock Holmes 3 Teased

Will Robert Downey Jr and Jude Law return to the big screen as Holmes and Watson...?
Last Winter, our cinemas played host to the release of the strong (if slightly weaker) sequel to 2009's hit Sherlock Holmes. A Game Of Shadows (4.5/5) was another great effort from Guy Ritchie, Robert Downey Jr and Jude Law, and thus naturally the question on everyone's minds was this- will there be a third instalment for the series of loose Conan Doyle-inspired adaptations? Law seems to think so: "I know there's a script [for Sherlock Holmes 3] being played around with," the famed Brit actor claims, "But Downey's a busy boy and I'm a busy boy so we'll see. We've a very happy team and we have a lot of fun and we also think there's a lot of legs in it still." I'm inclined to agree; indeed, it would be very interesting to see where Warner Bros decided to take the franchise after Sherlock's faked demise at the end of the last film. Sherlock Holmes 3 appears set for release in late 2014 at the earliest.

Assassin's News- New Dev Diary, Desmond Teased

More details and footage of ACIII land in the run-up to release!
We've got just over a month now until Assassin's Creed III releases in video game retailers everywhere, and as such Ubisoft Montreal are ramping up their advertising campaign for the exhilarating finale to the trilogy of main franchise instalments. Below, you can catch a great developer diary video that showcases new footage from the title as well as how the project had its inception at Ubisoft right after Assassin's Creed II arrived in 2009. Yep, while smaller teams worked on Brotherhood and Revelations, all the work has really gone into this one! Edge Magazine have also got a couple of brief new details on the Desmond portion of the new title's storyline.

"The story of Assassin's Creed, AC II, Brotherhood and Revelations was to build Desmond up. So we've built this guy up," says Alex Hutchinson, "And I really believe that we can pay that off, and in retrospect he'll be terrific. I don't think anyone really like Luke [Skywalker] in A New Hope, but by the end of his arc, this journey that he goes through making him amazing. Mechanically speaking, Desmond is going to be doing a lot more in this game!" All the signs seem to be pointing in a very positive direction for this big finale- now all that remains to be seen is whether it all pays off...Assassin's Creed III launches on PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 from October 31st.

Monday, 17 September 2012

Merlin Return Date Revealed?

The Great Trial Of Camelot begins next month...
It's been sometime since Merlin last aired on our screens via BBC1 now, so it's about right that we can start speculating on just when the hit fantasy drama will return. The Radio Times have today issued the scheduling for the rumoured airdate of Episode One (September 29th), and the guide reveals that there is no such space on BBC1 for the episode to air as Total Wipeout and Doctor Who: The Angels Take Manhattan are taking up the primetime slots. If we are to assume, then, that Merlin will return the week after Who climaxes, then we've got an early October-late December run of thirteen episodes the moment the fifth and final adventure with the Ponds reaches its climax. In terms of quality drama consistency, it seems it doesn't get much better than BBC1 right now! Merlin will return to BBC1 on October 6th.

UK Film Charts: September 3rd-9th

Dredd marches in with a bang!
Classic movie remakes are all the rage here in the UK right now, with Colin Farrell's rebooted Total Recall having reached the top of the charts recently and now Dredd coming first place on its initial week of release. Admittedly, there's been little other than remakes and gritty Westerns in terms of new content recently, but at least there is some new movie content coming our way from now on. Here's the full list for September 3rd-9th:
9. THE WATCH (TF: 3/5)
7. TED (3.5/5)
5. BRAVE (TF: 3/5)
2. LAWLESS (NEW, TF: 3/5)
1. DREDD (NEW, TF: 3/5)

Adele Confirmed For Skyfall Theme

The big rumour is confirmed- Adele is Back For Bond!
Well, it seems the reports can sometimes be right! It has been confirmed today that major Brit singer Adele will return to the world of music to sing the theme tune for the latest James Bond film, Skyfall. After her hit album 21, Adele revealed she would focus on bringing up her soon-to-be-born child, but that of course never necessarily meant that she would not make brief returns like this one from time to time. Aptly enough, the song itself Skyfall, and just like Another Way To Die the theme will play over an iconic title sequence ending with Daniel Craig's Bond shooting into a blood-ridden screen. If ever there was a brilliant way to kick off the 50th Anniversary celebrations, the release of this track will definitely be one great thing! Skyfall blasts into cinemas on October 28th.

Dragon Age III: Inquisition Announced

Dragon Age 3: InquisitionBioWare bring us their latest epic RPG!
As if it weren't enough for BioWare to produce the stunning Mass Effect 3 (10/10) this year alone, they've now gone and announced a brand new RPG sequel for release in the future- it's Dragon Age III: Inquisition! Okay, so the Dragon Age series has perhaps been a little less consistent than the ME trilogy of late, but it's still more fantasy action from one of the world's best developers. Inquisition will focus on a civil war brewing in the kingdom of Orlais which only a new hero can stop, and it will utilise the Frostbite 2 engine made famous by the likes of Crysis 2 and Battlefield 3, thus we're in very good hands here. Could it be a next-gen title, with no formats announced yet? Expect news on new consoles later in 2012 if so...Dragon Age III: Inquisition launches in late 2013.

Ted & Bourne Sequels Announced

Universal bring us follow-ups to two of their biggest 2012 hits...
Universal Pictures have this week confirmed that new instalments in both their Bourne and Ted film franchises are in the works. Admittedly, we didn't even know that Ted was ever planned to be part of a bigger picture, and to be honest this reeks of the Family Guy appeal of the film's writer/director/star having earned the flick enough cash to warrant a follow-up, especially when our 3.5/5 score was by no means the only one of its kind at the time of release. Meanwhile, it's no surprise to see that Universal want more from Jeremy Renner after the moderate worldwide success of The Bourne Legacy, although wouldn't it nice to see a proper appearance from Bourne himself, Mr Matt Damon? It's not hard to think that Damon is starting to get on a bit now age-wise, so if the studio has any intention of doing a crossover entry they'd be well advised to get it running sooner rather than later. We'll provide updates on titles and definitive cast names as they come...The next Bourne movie is planned for release in Summer 2014, with the sequel to Ted likely to follow later that year if things go as planned.

Coming Up This Week: September 17th-23rd

The Avengers Assemble On DVD and Doctor Who gets cubed this week!
We're starting to reach the definitive end of the quiet times in the entertainment industry, with the Autumn Of Gaming looming and plenty of big new films, books and TV shows to come from the Fall onwards too! Until next week, though, we've got a few big releases to look forward to in the next few days. Here they are...
AVENGERS ASSEMBLE- After months of waiting, The Avengers is headed to DVD and Blu-Ray retailers everywhere. You won't want to miss this chance to see one of 2012's greatest films again, especially with the new Phase One boxset and the Marvel One-Shot Item 47 included with the Blu-Ray version! (Monday 17th)
THE HOBBIT TRAILER- We've now had it confirmed by Peter Jackson that a full new trailer for The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey will land in two days' time. Can Jackson restore some disillusioned fans' faith in his extended trilogy of LOTR prequel films? I have a feeling that the answer goes something like this: Hell Yes! (Wednesday 19th)
BORDERLANDS 2- Everyone's favourite loot-collecting video game blitz is back: yep, it's Borderlands 2. Gearbox are bringing us the ultimate role-playing shooter sequel here, updating the cartoony graphics, providing a full storyline and a heck of a lot more loot for us to grab...(Friday 21st)
DOCTOR WHO: THE POWER OF THREE- The end of the Ponds draws near, but before their final adventure, it's time for the Doctor to come and stay over! As UNIT enlist the trio of time travellers to investigate a strange invasion of Earth by seemingly harmless cubes with a countdown, the Ponds must face the ultimate question- how do you choose between life with the Doctor and your life at home? (Saturday 22nd)
AND THERE'S MORE- The Game Of Thrones Sky1 Season One re-run continues tonight; catch the latest instalment of Charlie Sheen's Anger Management on Comedy Central tomorrow; plus the Vita version of LittleBigPlanet arrives.
ON THE BLOG- We'll be providing definitive verdicts on Glee: Britney 2.0, Doctor Who: The Power Of Three and the Avengers Assemble retail release, as well as bringing you big hitters like the Hobbit trailer and Merlin's return date right here!
AND NEXT WEEK...The Weeping Angels take Manhattan as the first section of Doctor Who Series Seven ends and the demise of the Ponds arrives; J.K. Rowling brings us a whole new novel in The Casual Vacancy; and hot new movies The Campaign and Looper arrive in cinemas!

Saturday, 15 September 2012

Doctor Who: A Town Called Mercy Review

Toby Whithouse bounces back with another stunning Who adventure!
When Steven Moffat originally pitched the idea of fourteen blockbuster Doctor Who movies leading us into the 50th Anniversary year, it was hard not to be a bit cynical- how would the writers keep things varied, and would the standalone format work? Given that we've had the stunning Asylum Of The Daleks and the lighthearted, bouncy Dinosaurs On A Spaceship these past couple of weeks, I think it's fair to say 'Easily' and 'Heck Yes' fit those last two queries, yet with A Town Called Mercy we got a completely different kind of story that once again worked masterfully in its own right. Set in the Wild West just a few years after the American Civil War, Mercy focused on the Doctor dealing with a rogue cyborg's hunt for his creator in a town of eighty-one residents, employing many of the great Western tropes- barfights, shootouts, stallion chases, you name the classic element and it was probably in there!- while mixing in loads of effective science-fiction elements and moral questions for good measure.

Oh, those morality issues: if Whithouse hadn't already shown us already that he know how to delve further into the Doctor's psyche with School Reunion, The Vampires Of Venice and The God Complex, then by presenting us with a near-reflected image of the man who left the Time War as a killer of millions with the introduction of alien medic and slaughterer Kahler-Jex, Whithouse took things one step further than most writers would ever dare. Indeed, this worked wonders as the episode progressed- we as viewers could begin to understand the Doctor and Rory's reasons for the Time Lord contemplating cold-blooded murder of the threat posed to Mercy, yet still understand Amy (wonderfully portrayed once again by Karen)'s resillience to ensure her friend did not stoop down to Jex's level after leaving Solomon to the missiles last week. This was a more slow-paced, thoughtful storyline than we are used to on Who, yet it did absolute wonders for our current Doctor Matt Smith, as Matt reached to the character's darkest horizons ever with the utmost realism and captivation.

Better yet, the visuals and soundtrack for the episode were very impressive, really adding to the authentic Western feel provided by the Spain shoot conducted specifically for this philosophical romp. It takes guts for a writer to attempt a Who Wild West adventure given that The Gunfighters didn't go down well, but that Toby Whithouse can make an empathetic cyborg, develop the Doctor and the Ponds' relationship and bring his own sci-fi touch of class to the movie-esque episode stands testament to his masterful writing technique. As I've said before, when the Moff is recruiting his successor, I'll raise my hand and place the vote in favour of Mr Whithouse as soon as the option is open! On a more solemn note, though, we've only got two weeks left with the Ponds...

EXCLUSIVE Glee: The New Rachel Review

Glee is back (in a few months' time)- has anything changed?
Starting up a new season cast and tonal reboot of a US show always proves hard for the writers, as proved in recent dramas like Smallville and House, but often the fruits of the writing team's labour can then be seen later on. The most obvious question, then, is whether the 'reboot' premiere episode of Glee Season Four will wow you enough to love the show all over again when it returns in a few months time. Certainly, The New Rachel is not lacking in ambition: it focuses on two parallel story arcs, that of the New Directions recruiting new members with the loss of their Upper Grade pros, and that of Rachel and Kurt finding their way outside of McKinley High for the first time. We get to see great songs like Empire State Of Mind and Chasing Pavements incorporated along the way too, so it's a welcome surprise for the programme to prove once again that it can pick up from several different styles, genres and eras (you'll see what I mean!) of music over the course of just fourty minutes. Lea Michele in particular is on top form as Rachel this time around, but due credit must go to a lot of the newcomers on the New Directions and NYADA scene in the first episode, as it takes a lot of courage to join a show that was once right-on-top in terms of its star appeal but that's now monumentally shifted. And make no mistake, you do feel that shift that the writers were teasing at the end of Season Three: there's no sign of Finn, Quinn, Santana, Puckerman- well, actually...wait and see- or any of those characters who left McKinley in Goodbye earlier this year bar Rachel and Kurt, which indeed gives a strange feeling to the whole affair. My main problem with The New Rachel is a rather fundamental one, though- despite its generally feel-good nature, there was a lot of recycling of old series elements here. From the haphazard ditching of Tina's boyfriend over the Summer (sound familiar?) to the return of Sue with her baby, to the discriminated-against member of staff tormented by her weight, there really isn't much here we haven't seen before, and even the episode's title should begin to indicate at the lack of originality on offer this time around. The score I've given Glee's Season Four opener The New Rachel is actually  strong, in its defense, thanks to the brilliant array of songs and some great star performances (Kate Hudson and Whoopi Goldberg provide the highlights), but I have to admit that if things keep going the way they are in terms of the overarching series narrative, then the show may well start to drop in quality big time and even meet its end come the end of the season. Beware, Gleeks- this could start to signal the beginning of the end...Glee: The New Rachel airs on Sky1 in January 2013.

Skulduggery Pleasant: Kingdom Of The Wicked Review

Is this latest fantasy instalment the best that Derek Landy's given us yet?
Like it or not, there's little denying that these past few years have seen a major growth in Brit cult popularity amongst teens and young adults for the lovable Skulduggery Pleasant series of books, with Irish author Derek Landy bringing us annual adventures for the world's first skeleton detective and his teenage partner Valkyrie Cain. The latest release in this nine-book series marks the start of the final trilogy- so, does Kingdom Of The Wicked kick off the beginning of the end with a bang? Well...kind of. Landy is on top form in terms of the classic comedy and overblown action sequences that the past few entries have revelled in, depicting some of the most unlikely situations with a down-to-earth and accessible approach for readers everywhere. In this respect, there's still no problem, yet as Landy even seemed to indicate himself in the writing process, with Kingdom he appears to be merely setting up the plot threads for the two-part 'series' finale. As such, the overarching storyline of humans being given magical powers takes precedence over the far more intriguing and brewing plot arcs of Darquesse, the international Sanctuary beginning to assume control and the beginning of the resolution to what Valkyrie's reflection is up to. There are still a few exciting twists which will have big ramifications in days to come, sure, but the main plot is bearable at best, likely to make readers want to read on just to see how the overall series arc develops further past the standalone hi-jinks. I will admit that the climax contained enough shocks and surprises in terms of Skulduggery's future to keep me well and truly interested, yet it's just a shame that Dark Days, Mortal Coil and Death-Bringer held their own with so much more flair despite having time to kill in their respective running times. Nevertheless, Skulduggery Pleasant: Kingdom Of The Wicked is another thoroughly enjoyable read from Derek Landy, and while it treads old ground without finding much in the way of new stuff to do, fans of the series will still want to catch it to find out where the final chapters of the Skulduggery-Valkyrie adventures are going to head!

Friday, 14 September 2012

New Halo 4 Developer Diary Unveiled

Get a proper look at the Forerunner Prometheans below...
Hot on the heels of the recent shedload of information we've recieved about Halo 4, Microsoft Game Studios and 343 Industries have now released a great new developer diary chronicling the rise of the Prometheans in the title. Members of the Forerunner race, these ruthless foes look to change up the entire foundations of the core Halo gameplay, varying it up considerably from the days of identikit Covenant adversaries. We're sure to have more exciting details on the game in the weeks leading up to its release. Halo 4 retails exclusively on Xbox 360 on November 6th.

More Transformers 4 Details Unleashed

Hasbro tease their reboot of the big explosion-heavy film franchise!
As we learned earlier this year, Michael Bay is commencing a Pirates Of The Caribbean-esque reboot of sorts for the Transformers movie franchise in the next few months. Gone will be Shia LeBeouf and Rosie Huntington-Whitely, replaced by new human actors and likely brand new Transformer robots. Speaking of which, Hasbro had the following to say on why the new entry would be appealing to them: "Dark Of The Moon didn't sell the number of toys [we] were expecting. This is why Transformers 4 will have a new cast of robot characters, and the story will focus on these characters." This statement makes everything feel a little cynical on Hasbro's end, so we'll just have to hope Bay still has a little more integrity than to let action figure sales dominate his writing process. Who knows? Transformers 4 mobilizes in cinemas worldwide in 2014.

300 Prequel Gets A New Name

The Battle Of Artemisisa Is No More...
In case you hadn't heard, Zack Snyder is now getting hard at work on a prequel to his hit Spartan movie 300 in the next couple of years, now in the aftermath of directing the upcoming DC Superman reboot flick Man Of Steel. The prologue film was due to originally be called 300: The Battle For Artemisia, but for an unknown reason, Warner Brothers Pictures have now confirmed that the flick will have a completely different name. We're now getting 300: Rise Of An Empire, which seems to imply that we'll get to see Leonidus' first conquests with his army of warriors that lead them to the point of belated victory we find them in at the beginning of the original film. Prequel territory is always a little risky, if you ask me (unless you're adapting as The Hobbit will this December), but perhaps Snyder and Warner Bros can prove me wrong and ensure that this isn't just a cash-grab project. We'll see...300: Rise Of An Empire storms into cinemas in August 2013.

Thursday, 13 September 2012

NSA: The WiiU Press Reveal Detailed & Rated

All the details you need on the WiiU's release, right here!
If you wanted to know the release date, pricing, compatability, launch games or any other details about Nintendo's WiiU console, now is the time to find out. Over at Non Specific Action, I've compiled a big list of all of today's big press reveals from the publisher's worldwide conferences, as well as providing my own thoughts on what's been revealed and what it means for the future of video gaming. I shan't distract you any longer, though- get over to the site and see all the juicy games gossip for yourselves! Here's the link: http://nonspecificaction.co.uk/?p=16166&preview=true

Avengers VS X-Men Plot Twist Revealed

Who will die in the end? Find out here...
Over in the States, the Marvel Universe's Avengers VS X-Men comic-book crossover storyline has been a big hit. Its focus? A battle to the death between the world's two most famous superhero teams in order to decide the fate of the returning Mutant force of the Phoenix to the Earth. The writers of the narrative promised it would have dire consequences for the Marvel Universe as a whole ahead of the Marvel NOW! reboot, and that's been made clear with the revelation of just who will die in its penultimate issue: it's none other than Professor Charles Xavier! Apparently, the team want to explore the moral ramifications when Phoenix possesses Cyclops to kill his mentor, heading into the NOW! series with new teams of X-Men who are left wondering where to go next now that their former headteacher is gone from this world. This is definitely a bold move on the writers' parts, and I can't wait to see where it takes the universe next. Avengers VS X-Men releases as a full graphic novel here in the UK on November 21st.

Pirates Of The Caribbean 5 Revealed?

Do we have the first glimpses of a new Pirates instalment?
It's been a while since we heard news on the proposed fifth entry in the Pirates Of The Caribbean film franchise, but today it seems we might have had an update on the matter. Although Disney have claimed that the report is "not [fully] accurate", it appears that the new sequel of Johnny Depp's award-winning fantasy series will shoot somewhere near the island of Puerto Rico later this year. If the rumours turn out to be true, then expect rescuing his crew from the Black Pearl trapped in a bottle to be Jack's main priority, as well as fending off the revenge of his love Angelica (Penelope Cruz) and old friend and foe Barbossa (Geoffrey Rush). Whether this series can sustain its appeal remains to be seen, but I have no doubt it'll continue to bring in the bucks! Pirates Of The Caribbean 5 will likely see a cinematic release in 2014.

Wednesday, 12 September 2012

Wreck-It Ralph Theatrical Trailer Debuts

The second full trailer for Disney's exciting nostalgia-fest is here!
Today has seen the release of a brand new trailer for the upcoming Disney animated movie project Wreck-It Ralph onto the interweb. Starring the voices of John C Reilly, Sarah Silverman and Jane Lynch, this new cartoony production focuses on a fictitious video game character who decides that he doesn't want to be beaten by the good guys, enlisting the help of fellow villains like Doctor Eggman, Bowser and Pac-Man's Ghosts (yes, really!) to escape the torment of his arcade console. It's a wacky premise for sure, yet one that Disney look to be carrying out on in full force with what looks to be a funny and engaging movie for all ages. You can catch the second full trailer for the film below...Wreck-It Ralph inserts its 50 cent coin into cinemas across the UK on February 15th, 2013.

New WiiU Europe Event Announced

When's the WiiU console coming out? Find out tomorrow...
More than anything, this brief article is just going to be a heads-up of where gamers interested in Nintendo's next-generation console the WiiU will need to be looking in the next twenty-four hours. Satoru Iwata has today confirmed that there will be a European version of the upcoming Nintendo Direct broadcast set to reveal all on the console's release dates, launch software and (possibly) pricing, with New York set to get the first set of reveals on Thursday morning at 8am. For the European conference, check gaming sites everywhere tomorrow on Thursday September 13th at 3pm. We'll have all the gossip just a few hours later, so keep your eyes peeled for the best coverage fresh from me at NSA tomorrow evening.

Mass Effect- Details On The Franchise's Future

Will EA control where Mass Effect goes next...?
There were reports surrounding Mass Effect 3 after its controversial ending reached the consoles of gamers that publisher Electronic Arts had influenced the creative decisions of developer BioWare in order to prepare for future instalments in the franchise. Well, this week EA's Frank Gibeau has set the record on that matter straight, as well as looking ahead to what may come next for their hit sci-fi shooter series...

  • ON MASS EFFECT 3'S ENDING: "Did [we] intervene and say 'Hey, Casey, you've got a really interesting ending here to Mass Effect 3, you're probably going to cause some fans to get upset'? No, we didn't do that."
  • ON THE SERIES' FUTURE: "Does Mass Effect 3's ending mean you can never tell another story in the Mass Effect universe? No. If [exec] Casey decides on a story that he wants to tell, guess what? He's going to be able to step forward at EA and we're going to back him with capital for him to be able to go build that experience and tell a new story in this universe if that's what he wants to do. If he wants to do something different, a new IP, he'll have our backing as well. He's a profoundly talented guy. He's got our confidence. And the audience loves him. So that's how it really works."
If we take into account the fairly regular 2-3 year development cycle of the Mass Effect games so far, then it seems inevitable that we'll get an announcement of a new entry next year. Watch this space...right here at On-Screen!

Tuesday, 11 September 2012

TV Choice Awards Round-Up

Which hit shows scooped up the big Brit awards?
As always, the TV Choice Awards 2012 proved to be a charming ceremony, with many British shows receiving well-deserved awards in their respective categories. From Call The Midwife to Doctor Who, from Sherlock to Celebrity Juice, there were few great United Kingdom-based programmes that were omitted from the final nominees and winners shortlists! Here's the full summary of which shows won which awards...
BEST NEW DRAMA: Call The Midwife (BBC1)
BEST ACTOR: Benedict Cumberbatch (BBC1)
BEST ACTRESS: Miranda Hart (BBC1)
BEST REALITY SHOW: I'm A Celebrity...Get Me Out Of Here! (ITV1)
BEST TALENT SHOW: Britain's Got Talent (ITV1)
BEST DAYTIME SHOW: The Jeremy Kyle Show (ITV1)
BEST LIFESTYLE SHOW: Supersize Vs Superskinny (C4)
BEST FOOD SHOW: The Hairy Bikers' Bakeation (BBC2)
BEST SOAP ACTRESS: Michelle Keegan
BEST SOAP: Eastenders (BBC1)
I was obviously glad to see Doctor Who and Sherlock pick up highly deserved awards for Series Six and Series Two respectively, while it was a nice surprise to see BBC1's charming drama Call The Midwife perform well too. Quite why Mrs Brown's Boys beat The Big Bang Theory and Outnumbered to the Best Comedy post I'm not sure, but other than those I agree with the majority of this list. Here's hoping we get similar results next year as all of these great shows return for stellar new series later this year and in 2013!

DreamWorks Unveil Future Projects Line-Up

With Shrek now done and dusted for good, where can DreamWorks Animation head now? The first details on their future...
Losing a successful film franchise is always a hard hitter for companies like DreamWorks who crave success via kids' popularity so much nowadays, thus no doubt with the underperformance of Puss In Boots last Winter the animation studio will be saddened to let go of its Shrek series. Nevertheless, this does at least give the various teams scope for expansion, which makes its exciting to now have been given a line-up of future film projects that DreamWorks are now starting to create. What are we going to see in the next few years? Here's the full list of animated films we know we're getting from the studio via their latest press release...
THE CROODS- March 22nd, 2013
TURBO- October 18th, 2013
MR PEABODY & SHERMAN- November 1st, 2013
ME AND MY SHADOW- March 14th, 2014
HOW TO TRAIN YOUR DRAGON 2- June 20th, 2014
HAPPY SMEKDAY!- November 26th, 2013
TROLLS- June 5th, 2015
KUNG FU PANDA 3- March 18th, 2016
HOW TO TRAIN YOUR DRAGON 3- June 18th, 2016
Right, then- let's take a look at the notable additions. The vast majority of these newcomers (Croods; Turbo; Mr Peabody etc.) seem to be potential budding fantasy franchises which could do well with younger audiences, although right now of course it's hard to spot anything matching Shrek. On the other hand, we're getting multiple returns from the How To Train Your Dragon, Madagascar and Kung Fu Panda franchises over the course of the next four years, so kids wanting a bit of nostalgia later on will most certainly have it. And no, you didn't read wrong, DreamWorks really are planning four years ahead. It seems a little overconfident on their parts, but given their studios' recent consistent successes perhaps it's just right for them. For all the latest news on DreamWorks' latest film projects, keep checking back at On-Screen!