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Thursday, 28 February 2013

Assassin's Creed IV: Black Flag Announced

Xbox 360 pack shotThe next Assassin's Creed is revealed- on Monday...
Well, you can't fault Ubisoft for keeping things secret these days. Despite all of the rumours and minor leaks surrounding the latest Assassin's Creed game in the past week, we've now got absolute confirmation from them as to what we can expect. We'll hear more for sure on Monday, but it was at the very least announced today that the latest instalment will be titled Assassin's Creed IV: Black Flag, with its cover revealing a new Assassin hero and a setting in the Golden Age of Piracy that promises to shake things up in big ways for the hit video game franchise. As I mentioned yesterday, this is the series' fifth consecutive annual instalment since 2009, and the franchise as a whole definitely shows no signs of going the Call Of Duty route by losing ambition or overall quality. Assassin's Creed IV: Black Flag will ship on Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, WiiU and PC (and likely next-generation consoles too) this Autumn.

Wednesday, 27 February 2013

Video Corner: Bond 50 Fixed, Thrones & More

Our weekly new feature continues with a better Bond Academy Awards reel, Doctor Who in five languages and more...
Every week, we here at On-Screen are going to endeavour to bring you three of the hottest videos available on YouTube, be they comic or more serious. This time around, we've got a 50 Years Of Bond clip reel that far betters the lacklustre montage shown at the Academy Awards 2013, a hilarious video that showcases Doctor Who in five different languages to celebrate the show's worldwide dominance in its 50th Anniversary year, and more...
BOND IS REALLY BACK- Let's be brutally honest- although Adele's live performance of Skyfall at the Academy Awards 2013 ceremony was beautiful, the actual clip montage of 50 Years Of Bond was underwhelming to say the very least. As such, a dedicated fan has got to work on doing the franchise's anniversary proper justice on YouTube, and the results of their labour left this viewer shaken and stirred. And no, those rather tasteless 007 puns won't be stopping here anytime soon, of course. Do I expect you to talk? No- I expect you to watch...
DOCTOR WHO GOES GLOBAL- It's safe to say that entering its 50th Anniversary year, Doctor Who has never been a bigger worldwide phenomenon for the BBC. Operating in hundreds of countries across the globe, this hit cult science-fiction drama will continue to ride the waves and success in its anniversary season, the big anniversary adventure special, the origins docudrama, the 2013 Christmas Special and beyond- but for now, see what it's like to watch a key moment of The Wedding Of River Song in FIVE different global languages!
THE GAME BEGINS (AGAIN)- In case you missed the new trailer for Game Of Thrones when it launched earlier this week, it's here in all its action-packed, dazzling glory below. April 1st has never seemed further away, eh?
CLEVELAND GETS CONSEULA- A light moment of humour found by this viewer recently, The Cleveland Show has a huge assortment of hilarious brief gags, but this new gag featuring an advert from 'No'-famed Spanish maid Conseula's new fragrance simply takes the gold medal. For fans of either Family Guy or its spin-off, this small clip is well worth a watch.

EXCLUSIVE- Assassin's Creed IV Reveal Confirmed

Kotaku breaks news on the fully-fledged fourth instalment in the hit Ubisoft video games franchise!
Earlier this year, Ubisoft announced to the world that a new Assassin's Creed video game is in development- now it's been revealed that this breathtaking new title will be announced fully to the public next week. Reportedly titled Assassin's Creed IV: Black Flag, it's been leaked that this latest entry will feature Edward Kenway, the father of Assassin's Creed III's Haytham Kenway and a participant in the Golden Age Of Piracy. Yep, you read right- this game could feature further focus on the ship-battle gameplay that made ACIII such a hit last year.

Better yet, the release of another fully-fledged sequel marks the franchise's fifth consecutive annual instalment, with no signs of the series' trademark quality and great sales decreasing: we had Assassin's Creed in 2007, then Assassin's Creed II in 2009, Assassin's Creed: Brotherhood in 2010, Assassin's Creed: Revelations in 2011 and Assassin's Creed III in 2012 (along with DS, 3DS and PSVita incarnations along the way), so the franchise is in a fantastic state.

Assassin's Creed IV: Black Flag's media embargo will lift on Monday March 4th with the press having been privy to an announcement meeting tonight, and the game itself set for release this Autumn.

AITAS- Being Human: The Greater Good Review

The latest review of Being Human's fourth episode of its final season from yours truly!
Over at Adventures In Time And Space, I've been providing weekly reviews of Being Human for the site and fans of the show. This week, it's the turn of Season Five's fourth episode, The Greater Good, to go under the rader. In this instalment, Mr Rook endowed the Trinity with a pair of eccentric supernaturals, only to fall under the influence of the sinister Captain Hatch as the Devil's machinations began to head towards their crescendo. It was another fantastic episode- see my review at the link here: http://reviews.newsintimeandspace.net/2013/02/greater-good-review-250213092117.html

First Anchorman 2 Plot Details Debut

The Legend Will Continue this December- our first hints, right here...
The cult legend of comedy film that is Anchorman remains one of comic Will Ferrell's defining achievements in the industry- with that in mind, fan anticipation for the recently announced upcoming sequel Anchorman: The Legend Continues is already reaching its thrilling peak. Director Adam McKay has today via Empire Magazine revealed the first minor narrative details of what we can expect from this exciting new motion picture when it hits cinemas this Winter...

  • ON RON BURGUNDY'S CHARACTER ARC: "If Ron wasn't a giant A-hole, everything would be okay. By the end he's got to be a little less of an A-hole, but that's still a little hard for Ron to do!"
  • ON THE FILM'S SETTING: "Anchorman's San Diego is too close to Ron's heart to go away, but we feel that New York City is the holy grail for all newsmen."
  • ON BRICK'S ROMANCE WITH KRISTEN WIIG: "Brick's so far gone that you can't have a relationship with him- it takes a special someone to get a rope snare around his heart. Kristen is dangerous!"
Anchorman: The Legend Continues will burst into cinemas everywhere, Sex Panther and all included, on December 20th.

Marvel News: Iron Man 3 Poster; Norman Osborn Cast

Marvel Studios unveil their new teaser for Iron Man 3, plus we discover who'll play the future Green Goblin!
Today has seen a double bill of big announcements for the world of Marvel superhero films, quite a rarity in terms of general news days and indeed one we as fans should really appreciate. As per usual, only here can you find the personal and exclusive analysis of these news reveals that's nowhere else. Without further ado, then, let's dissect what's to come...

  • THE IRON ARMY IS COMING- First up, let's take a look at that rather beautiful new Iron Man 3 theatrical poster released in the UK today. Here, we see Robert Downey Jr's Golden Avenger looking plenty beaten and bruised after the wreck of his island penthouse, only to be ready for another battle with Guy Pearce's Extremis leader and Ben Kingsley's secretive Mandarin. Better yet, we've got a glimpse at an army of live Iron Man suits- is that...the Hulkbuster?!- ready for an all-out war, and given that Stark learned to control his armour through Extremis' mind synchronisation in the comic-book Extremis storyline, perhaps it isn't a far stretch to think that this robotic army are all under his control too? If so, then we can expect one heck of an epic finale this time around, perhaps even on the scale of Avengers Assemble! A new final trailer for the movie will launch on Yahoo on Tuesday, March 5th.
  • OSBORN RESURRECTED- Sony Pictures' Marvel division has added to the excitement of the fray with a brand new casting announcement for The Amazing Spider-Man 2. It's been confirmed Chris Cooper (aka Tex Richman in the recent comedy film The Muppets) will play none other than Norman Osborn in the 2014 superhero sequel. We had hints that Osborn had fallen prey to a terminal disease in the original reboot flick, with Curt Connors' research intended to save him, and thus it will be exciting to see where the character's arc now progresses on screen. Cooper joins a huge all-star ensemble on the film including Andrew Garfield as Spider-Man, Emma Stone as Gwen Stacey, Shalliene Woodley as Mary-Jane Watson, Jamie Foxx as Electro, Dane DeHaan as Harry Osborn, Paul Giamatti as the Rhino, Sally Field as Aunt May and Martin Sheen as Uncle Ben. Nevertheless, what with the numerous villains already confirmed to appear in the follow-up, it seems unlikely that Norman's transformation into the classic Green Goblin will be even hinted at until a post-credits sequence- could Osborn have been the man glimpsed during the first film's credits...?
Iron Man 3 blasts into UK cinemas everywhere on April 26th, while The Amazing Spider-Man 2 is set for release on May 2nd, 2014.

Tuesday, 26 February 2013

March 2013: 5 Releases You Can't Miss

The Doctor returns, Lara Croft begins her journey anew and more in this action-packed month full of entertainment!
If you've been disappointed at all by the past month's relative lack of big releases, then March should by far prove as the much-needed antithesis for 2013's early months. Barely a week will go by without a brand new major entertainment release entering stores, cinemas or television sets, ensuring without a shadow of a doubt that the 5 Releases You Can't Miss in the five weeks ahead are each equally vital for your enjoyment. Here's our guide, then, to our Top 5 Most Anticipated Releases Of February 2013...
5. TANITH LOW...IN THE MALEFICENT SEVEN- Skulduggery Pleasant's Irish author Derek Landy is back on the teen fiction scene with a spin-off instalment in his Pleasant fantasy saga. Taking place after the apocalyptic events of last year's hit Kingdom Of The Wicked (3.5/5), this latest novel will focus on secondary character Tanith Low and her pursuer/friend Ghastly's race to ensure the Remnant possessing her body doesn't ruin it in its antics with a new gang. This promises to be classic comic Landy fanfare! (Thursday 28th)
4. BEING HUMAN- The Greater Good, the fourth episode of Being Human's fifth and final season, kicked off the climax of the show in colossal style last week. We've got just one fortnight left of blockbuster fantasy adventures, and the stakes will be higher than ever, as Captain Hatch's plans reach their horrifying conclusion and Hal's vampire tendencies rise to the surface. Can Alex and Tom possibly save their friend in time for the ultimate confrontation with the Devil? All we know for sure is this: He Will Rise...(Sunday 3rd, 10th)
3. BIOSHOCK INFINITE- One of two massive video games coming our way in the month ahead, this third entry in the BioShock saga is a fully-fledged prequel adventure. Detective Brooker must venture into the sky city of Columbia in the 1910s to rescue a mysterious girl named Elizabeth, yet this challenge could prove too great for even a seasoned veteran- will the secrets of Columbia tear their friendship apart? (Tuesday 26th)
2. TOMB RAIDER- And of course the other blockbuster title coming to video game retailers everywhere is a reboot of one of video gaming's most renowned long-term franchises. Tomb Raider promises an open-world island for us to explore, stunning vistas and above all a breathtaking narrative that could threaten to topple even the best games of 2012, and indeed looks set to become 2013's first big Game Of The Year contender. (Tuesday 5th)
1. DOCTOR WHO- At the top of this prestigious list, of course, must come the returning science-fiction icon that is Doctor Who. Blazing back onto screens via BBC1 for its 50th Anniversary season of blockbuster adventures, Who Series Seven Part Two will kick off with an urban thriller that ventures across time and space, from London to ancient monastries. And the best part? With new hints of the mystery of Clara, the anniversary arc and adventures involving the centre of the TARDIS, the Ice Warriors, an incredible CGI alien planet, the Cybermen and more, this really is just the beginning! (Saturday 30th)

February 2013: Best Release

Being Human returns for its final, incredible season première in our Best Release of the second month of 2013!
As per usual, I'm struggling to accept just how fast the month of February 2013 has passed us in the space of its rapid four weeks. Nevertheless, we're most certainly at the end of the month, and as such it's time for the reveal of our Best Release. The winner? Being Human's premiere episode of its fifth and final season, The Trinity.

Whereas the fourth season of this BBC3 supernatural drama failed to retain much of the show's trademark blend of action and comedy, The Trinity bounced back with one of the most confident examples of this yet. Kate Bracken, Michael Socha and Damien Molony were all on top form as Alex, Tom and Hal respectively, kicking off an incredible run of episodes with a blazing opening adventure. Better yet, Phil Davis began to showcase his talents as the devilish Captain Hatch, in an intriguing new plot arc that promises to develop fully and excitingly in the concluding two-parter this coming fortnight.

Winners of our monthly Best Release awards deserve to be absolutely stunning breakthrough moments for their respective genres and industries, and in this respect Being Human: The Trinity succeeds marvellously. Not only is it a cracking season premiere, it's one of the best episodes that the show has given us, a stunning rendition of Toby Whithouse's writing talents and a true testament to why fans will miss this compelling supernatural drama so much once it leaves the TV schedules in two weeks' time!

Arrow: Dodger Review

Our verdict on Arrow's fifteenth instalment of Season One has landed...
It's difficult to name many shows that maintain the consistent episode quality that Arrow does across their first season. Indeed, the fifteenth episode of this première series, Dodger, does a fantastic job of refining the show's formula into something new and innovative, and of course upping the ante as we move towards the season finale. If ever there was a great time for newcomers to latch onto Arrow, it was most certainly starting with this week's instalment.

Primarily, Dodger focused on the emergence of the sinister 'Dodger' onto the scene, an elusive jewel thief who seemed to have dark alterior motives. Fans will no doubt be hoping that the Hood picks up his quest to outdo those on his fateful list next time around, yet this was nevertheless a neat deviation into different territory for the second consecutive week in a row. This central narrative was fairly compelling on the whole, especially as it provided the first full chance for Emily Bett Richards to come into her own in her upcoming regular role (for Season Two) as tech ally Felicity Smoak. Her character was barely recognisable in the late stages of the episode at the charity gala sans hairbow and spectacles- not that the male fans among us likely complained- but the actress' trademark humour gelled well in spite of this being a programme that often enters rather dark territory.

There were a few interesting sub-plots to boot, too. First and foremost, Laurel and Thea were seen dealing with the case of speedy criminal Roy Harper. DC mega-fans will undoubtedly recognise Harper as the future sidekick of the Green Arrow, known as the Red Arrow and destined in The New 52 lore to join the Justice League Of America. Already, diehard DC fans have known that Laurel 'Dinah' Lance is destined too to become the mysterious Black Canary, yet the writers are the creators of Smallville, so we have to be prepared for them to play the long game on these matters. Heck, it was thanks to the team behind Arrow that the Man Of Steel took ten seasons to take flight on his own show!

The other sub-plot of significance was perhaps the episode's weak link. Moira's underlying exchanges with wealthy business partners about to tackle Malcolm Merlyn and his deadly organisation were no doubt intrinsic to the season arc, and indeed next week's episode Dead To Rights, but they didn't quite fit with the themes of theft and romance brewing at the forefront of this instalment. However, Arrow: Dodger is nonetheless another impressive episode to add to the series' growing roster of highlights, yet another refinement for a show that keeps on developing, leaving me eager to see what the final seven episodes of this season hold for us...

Monday, 25 February 2013

Doctor Who: Countdown To 50- Week Eight

Hasn't February raced by? We're now in the final week of our Patrick Troughton/Second Doctor month of 50th Anniversary celebratory retrospectives, wrapping things up with Pat's final adventure The War Games. This was the fateful story that saw the character's off-screen regeneration into Jon Pertwee's Third Doctor via a rather trippy head-spinning sequence that won't soon be forgotten by fans.

More than that, though, The War Games is equally famous for being the first Doctor Who story to introduce key lore in the series that would become vital to its storylines in the years ahead. Firstly, we discovered the Doctor was a Time Lord (and a few stories later we would know he came from Gallifrey) and worse still, he was on the run from his own race for stealing a TARDIS time machine from them. We had always known ever since An Unearthly Child that the Doctor and his granddaughter Susan had shunned their society for unknown reasons, yet now we discovered the true meaning why this protagonist felt he could never return home.

What a thrilling twist it was, then, to have the Time Lords' influence felt in the ninth episode and appear fully in the season finale. Sure, the rest of The War Games is a decent historical Great War adventure, yet it's those concluding instalments that make the most impact. In particular, Frazer Hines' Jamie and Wendy Padbury's Zoe's heartbreaking realisation that they were about to lose their own memories of the Doctor and indeed that their closest friend seemed to be walking to his death were masterfully portrayed by the show's writers. The War Games serves as a fitting finale for Doctor Who's three leading stars and a dramatic première for the Third Doctor to boot, testament if ever proof was needed that the show can blend various intricate plot elements into one cohesive blockbuster as it does to this day in adventures such as Asylum Of The Daleks and The Angels Take Manhattan!


Marvel News: Amazing Spider-Man 2 Costume Debuts

Our first glimpse at the 2014 superhero sequel is in!
If it hasn't become apparent just yet, 2014 will be a fantastic year for the superhero film genre. Already, 2013's line-up of Iron Man 3, Man Of Steel, The Wolverine, Kick-Ass 2 and Thor: The Dark World is looking mighty impressive, yet that's really just the start, with a plentiful set of thrilling superhero flicks such as Captain America: The Winter Soldier, X-Men: Days Of Future Past and Guardians Of The Galaxy set to release next year.

One such big superhero flick to look forward to in 2014 is The Amazing Spider-Man 2. The follow-up to 2012's hit reboot, 'The Untold Story', of the Spider-Man film franchise, this web-slinging sequel again features Andrew Garfield in the titular lead role, alongside Emma Stone, Jamie Foxx, Shallene Woodley, Dane DeHaan, Paul Giamatti and plenty of other big name stars. Today, we've recieved the very first look at the newly designed red-and-blue costume for the arachnid Marvel hero, and you can see it above. From what we can see, it transpires that Spidey will this time adopt a similar look to the Ultimate Spider-Man comic saga, and fans will undoubtedly be uplifted to see that development.

Our guide to all of the big release dates for upcoming superhero films is now below. The Amazing Spider-Man 2 swings into cinemas worldwide on May 2nd, 2014.
IRON MAN 3- APRIL 26TH, 2013
KICK-ASS 2- JULY 19TH, 2013

Silver Linings Playbook Review

Can this Best Picture Oscar nominee impress despite its defeat?
When approaching a motion picture film such as Silver Linings Playbook, a film which its promotional campaign seems to market plainly as a standard 'rom-com', it's near impossible not to be skeptical. Indeed, more than most romantic dramas nowadays, the movie seems to live on playing on the expectations of its audience, and it works wonder. You might not expect it, but Silver Linings will probably be one of the greatest films you'll see in 2013, and since I'm including it in this year's roster, it'll be a new contender for the Film Of The Year crown.

What's Playbook's greatest strength? Without a shadow of a doubt, it's by far the cast. Jennifer Lawrence is well-deserving of her Best Actress victory at last night's Academy Awards, owning her role as a detached widow who longs for passion and success. We shouldn't neglect the other big Oscar nominee stars, though- both lead Bradley Cooper and his supporting actor Robert De Niro are marvellous in their portrayals of a OCD-ridden young adult and a father desperate to reclaim his paternal relationship respectively. These are by far the standout performances of the production, and they're the elements that serve the biggest contribution to the film's overall success.

Mind you, the narrative does a lot of the job. Adapted from the 2008 novel of the same title by Matthew Quick, Playbook focuses on Cooper's protagonist as he leaves his assigned medical hospital and struggles to adapt back into usual society- yet he finds hope and love in ways that he never thought possible. There are plenty of cunning twists in the narrative, unusual in the core of romantic drama motion pictures such as these, and the script utilises its best actorial assets to their full potential. There's innovation, there's heart, there's uplifting soul to the film, everything that's required of an Oscar Best Picture nominee and yet plenty more besides for the regular viewer.

It would be churlish to pick out many true shortcomings in this rather stunning surprise masterpiece, yet for the sake of reason, I'll just note that with Lawrence, Cooper and De Niro making such an impact on the film's overall quality, it could be argued that it's a shame there aren't many other notable performances. Nevertheless, Silver Linings Playbook remains an absolutely incredible achievement for both the genre of romantic drama and the film industry as a whole- Jennifer Lawrence takes her experiences from The Hunger Games and transforms them into something more substantial than we ever could have anticipated, breathing new life into the Oscars and into the audience. Make sure you're among that group when this uplifting masterclass of filmic vision hits DVD and Blu-Ray retailers, because it's an opportunity viewers would be absolutely foolish to pass up.

Academy Awards 2013- The Winners List

Argo, Les Miserables and Life Of Pi score big in the most talked-about entertainment awards event of 2013...
The Academy Awards have always been a controversial series of ceremonies, make no mistake. Some critics such as myself often reckon that the awards fail to recognise some of the genuine box office talent in the big-sellers, such as Avengers Assemble, and yet this year's shortlist has at least seemed to diversify more than ever before.

It's fantastic to see the likes of Argo, Les Miserables, Life Of Pi, Lincoln, Silver Linings Playbook and Skyfall performing so well for once, as this should serve as a great reminder of the individuality and innovation of the film industry right now. Here's the full winners list, the final set in our 'Winners List' series for 2013...
BEST DIRECTOR: Ang Lee (Life Of Pi)
BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR: Christoph Waltz (Django Unchained)
BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS: Anne Hathaway (Les Miserables)
To check out the fantastic performance from the entire Les Miserables cast of the beautiful One Day More, watch the video below...

Best Of Who Awards: Top 5 Best Historical Stories

Travel back to the past, as we check out the Top 5 Best Historical Stories in Doctor Who's fifty-year history...
Four Weeks To Go! Yes, you read right, we've got just 33 days remaining now until Doctor Who returns to our screens for its anniversary season of blockbuster adventures on BBC1. As we get closer to the sci-fi drama's return to the channel, we'll be summing up the best episodes of the 2005-2012 run, with lots more classic era content to look at when the awards feature returns in late May. Before that, though, we're looking at the three different 'eras' of Doctor Who: historical, present day and futuristic. This week, it's our Top 5 Best Historical Stories in the 50 years of Who that we're looking at- so let's step back into the TARDIS, and voyage once more to days gone by...
5. THE TIME WARRIOR (1973)- The introductory story for both the late Elizabeth Sladen's companion character Sarah-Jane Smith and indeed the menacing Sontarans, Time Warrior also provided an intriguing glimpse back into medieval society. Seeing knights and servants react to the appearance of an alien being amongst their rankings was a thrilling prospect for fans in the 1970s, and its relevance still makes this an enticing viewing for post-2004 fans in 2013 too.
4. THE VAMPIRES OF VENICE (2010)- A brilliant blockbuster adventure if ever there was one, Vampires took place in Rennaisance era Italy with vampires (or rather disguised fish) on the loose in the canals of Venice. Matt Smith's Eleventh Doctor boasted a brilliant chemistry with the period characters of the time, and this episode was by far the antithesis to slow-paced romps like The Unicorn And The Wasp, proving that it was possible to make a historical adventure just as engaging as a present day one!
3. THE WAR GAMES (1969)- This ten-part story was perhaps the most ambitious outing in the entirety of the 1960s era of Doctor Who. As well as forming the finale for Patrick Troughton's Second Doctor, this adventure was set to the backdrop of the First World War, where the Doctor, Jamie and Zoe were almost put to a firing squad among other typical features of the Great War setting. As per usual, a stunning example of how pure science-fiction elements such as the newly introduced Time Lords could be blended with history elements of Who.
2. HUMAN NATURE/THE FAMILY OF BLOOD (2007)- Just as The War Games was a brilliant example of blending sci-fi and history, so too did another Great War tale, Human Nature/The Family Of Blood shine in the same manner. Paul Cornell adapted his Seventh Doctor Virgin New Adventures novel Human Nature with ease, providing the perfect depiction of the days leading into First World War and indeed of a Doctor who could fall in love and learn to live with the worried humans in Britain of the time.
1. VINCENT AND THE DOCTOR (2010)- Another stunning historical adventure through Matt Smith's first season, Season Five. Famed comic author Richard Curtis penned this stunning and complex episode, casting Tony Curran as a true masterclass actor in the role of the depressed and suicidal Vincent Van Gogh. Not only was there pure beauty in Van Gogh's art, the juxtaposition of his life in contemporary France and the museum of art in 2010 was incredibly done, Bill Nighy's curator solidifying this contrast in a heartwarming expression of Vincent's talents that touched a nation and a world.

Sunday, 24 February 2013

Razzies 2013- The Winner List

A controversial awards ceremony lands for its 2013 edition...
In all honesty, I've been less than empathetic to the nominees for the 33rd annual Golden Raspberries Awards, with the cruelly underrated decent fantasy film finale The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn Part 2 (4/5) getting a lot of flack simply as that particular Stephenie Meyer series of novel adaptations seems to be the 'cool' thing to hate right now. Boy, were there worse films than that one last year- Ghost Rider 2, Wanderlust, Battleship or John Carter, anyone?- so this seems to be a rather dull mainstream ceremony nowadays.

Nevertheless, here's the full 'winners' list for the Razzie 2013 Awards ceremony that took place last night:
WORST PICTURE: Battleship; The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn- Part 2; The Oogielovies; That's My Boy; A Thousand Words
WORST ACTOR: Adam Sandler (That's My Boy); Nicholas Cage (Ghost Rider: Spirit Of Vengeance); Eddie Murphy (A Thousand Words); Robert Pattinson (Breaking Dawn Part 2); Tyler Perry (Alex Cross)
WORST ACTRESS: Katherine Heigl (One For The Money); Mila Jovovich (Resident Evil: Retribution); Tyler Perry (Madea's Witness Protection); Barbara Streisland (The Guilt Trip); Kristen Stewart (Snow White And The Huntsman; Breaking Dawn Part 2)
WORST SUPPORTING ACTOR: Taylor Lautner (Breaking Dawn Part 2); David Hasselhoff (Pirahna 3DD); Liam Neeson (Battleship); Nick Swardson/Vanilla Ice (That's My Boy)
WORST SUPPORTING ACTRESS: Jessica Biel (Total Recall); Rihanna (Battleship); Brooklyn Decker (Battleship); Jennifer Lopez (What To Expect When You're Expecting); Ashley Greene (Breaking Dawn Part 2)
WORST SCREEN COUPLE: Robert Pattinson & Kristen Stewart (Breaking Dawn Part 2); Any Two Jersey Shore Cast Members (The Three Stooges); Tyler Perry & His Drag Get-Up (Madea's Witness Protection); Adam Sandler & Any Cast Member (That's My Boy); Mackenzie Foy & Taylor Lautner (Breaking Dawn Part 2)
WORST PREQUEL, REMAKE, RIP-OFF OR SEQUEL: Madea's Witness Protection; Ghost Rider: Spirit Of Vengeance; The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn- Part 2; Red Dawn; Pirahna 3DD
WORST DIRECTOR: Bill Condon (Breaking Dawn Part 2); Peter Berg (Battleship); Sean Anders (That's My Boy); Tyler Perry (Good Deeds); John Putch (Atlas Shrugged: Part II)
WORST SCREENPLAY: Atlas Shrugged: Part II; Battleship; A Thousand Words; The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn- Part 2; That's My Boy
WORST SCREEN ENSEMBLE: Battleship; The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn- Part 2; Madea's Witness Protection; The Oogielovies; That's My Boy

Opinion: Toy Story Trilogy Retrospective

Do Walt Disney and Pixar's classic animated films hold up in 2013?
To this day, the three Toy Story films remaining much-vaunted aspirational targets of quality for any successive animated movie that will release in 2013 and beyond. Of course, inevitably at some point, a viewer must begin to wonder and question whether these allegedly classic movies still live up to the hype surrounding them years after release. As such, that's a truth we're going to discover in full right here. Let's take a retrospective on the Toy Story Trilogy, then, voyaging back to 1995 and journeying through fifteen years of filmic entertainment...
TOY STORY (1995)- There's absolutely no denying that the original Toy Story marked a profound breakthrough for the animated film industry. Woody, Buzz and the gang all look absolutely terrific even eighteen years later, and locales such as Andy's room and the glorious setpiece of Pizza Planet lay the strong foundations for what's to come in the two successive instalments. There's little in the way of concrete weaknesses here, other than that the climax involving Sid and the race to catch the removal truck don't quite gel fully with the tone of acceptance and growth that arc across the rest of the film and its themes. Toy Story remains a captivating watch with just a small few terribly minor narrative shortcomings, still a defining target for animated films to attempt to match in 2013. 5/5
TOY STORY 2 (1999)- Following up on a colossal Disney hit was always going to be challenging. Indeed, Toy Story 2 isn't quite the sequel masterpiece that fans sometimes like to make out. New character elements such as Jessie and Bullseye were definitely compelling for the overall series lore, yet Stinky Pete and Al are needlessly poor additions to the storyline in comparison to Sid and the natural 'antagonists' of a race against time and conflict among the toys. The second instalment's plot is a lot more straightforward, its themes less complex and layered, a trait which does work to the film's detriment at times. However, Toy Story 2 is still a brilliant animated film that's been matched recently by Wreck-It Ralph, yet still marks a rarity of animated comic success. 4.5/5
TOY STORY 3 (2010)- Eleven years were most certainly kind to the Toy Story franchise. This trilogy finale brings the series thoroughly up to date, integrating plot elements steeped in the present day such as social networks, daycare centres and of course growing out of toys into the days of university. Incredibly, this may yet be the perfect rendition of what it means to be a teenager, or indeed in general what it means to grow up, to become a man. Better yet, the climax is perfectly handled, with a plentiful number of tear-jerking scenes in the seemingly resigned gang's fate in the dump, Andy's departure and "THE CLAW!". Toy Story 3 is by far a modern animated classic- no, scratch that, it's a modern movie classic that's still just as relevant to viewers across the world nearly three years later. 5/5

Lincoln Review

Can this Civil War blockbuster from Spielberg really be worth the hype?
Tonight, at the 85th Academy Awards, it seems that Daniel Day-Lewis' performance in Lincoln is a dead-ringer for a victory in the Best Actor category. For those of you who haven't managed to catch the film in its brief period at the box office, I wouldn't be surprised if the validity of Day-Lewis' seemingly inevitable impending win is something you'd want assurance of, so that's exactly what this review is here to do. Moreso, though, we're here to set the record straight as to whether this works as a standalone motion picture.

The first inevitable area this reviewer has to deal with is, of course, Day-Lewis himself. It's difficult to retain any real objectiveness on the matter of this English actor's esteemed hype, yet in all honesty, as a central star Daniel completely inhabits the role of old Abe with ease and grandeur. If ever we needed a realistic depiction of one of the defining figures of the American Civil War, this is it, as it feels as if we as viewers have been transported back to 1865, to the final months of Lincoln's life in full scale. This Brit star has some pretty stiff competition between Hugh Jackman, Bradley Cooper and Denzel Washington in the night ahead, yet it seems assured that he'll scoop his rightful third Best Actor title, and this reviewer can safely say it'll be totally justified if he does.

There are plenty of other highlights among the talented cast of stars, though. Tommy Lee Jones and Joseph Gordon-Levitt both provide marvellous portrayals of Lincoln's close political ally Thadeus Stevens and Lincoln's son Robert respectively. Beyond Sally Field as Mary Todd, these are probably the only main headline names you'll recognise, yet each actor and actress cast in this production feels hugely in-synchronisation with the atmosphere and players in Congress at the time of the Civil War, whether portraying left-wing or right-wing characters or indeed the oppressed African-Americans living in the midst of slavery. Indeed, this flick is probably a dream come true for many dedicated historians, and it's testament to director Steven Spielberg's creative vision that the storyline and its representation rarely seems to border on any zealous patriotism tonally.

While we're on the topic of the film's esteemed director, it's worth noting that Spielberg does absolute wonders with the imagery of the Civil War era, bringing his trademark directorial and visionary quality to every scene regardless of its setting. John Williams chips in with a great soundtrack on top of that- although it's not quite on the same level as 2011's hit War Horse, there's certainly a strong degree of gravitas that it brings to the motion picture. It's pretty much a given that any Spielberg production will boast an insane level of visual and sound quality, and that trademark level of quality is something which the production team adhere to with aplomb and pure vigour that's clear in every ounce of the film.

Despite what some United States critics- often so enthralled with this realistic depiction with the Civil War that they can't admit gripes- might have you believe though, Lincoln isn't quite a Film Of The Year contender. It comes damn close, but Sally Field's portrayal of Mary Todd in my opinion brings the quality of the narrative down a little. Field's character is depicted in a manner that seems almost a little too prophetic, with Todd-Lincoln forced to utter dialogue that seems too blatant , too focused on gaining the viewer's empathy and pathos for the wife of this iconic figure rather than providing a realistic representation of the character. In addition, one shortcoming with the narrative is that it's so focused on dealing with the inception of the Thirteenth Amendment, additional supplementary elements of Lincoln's life included in the plot feel out of place when they don't reach any meaningful conclusion.

Nevertheless, what Lincoln aspires to achieve, it does so in good measure. Daniel Day-Lewis excels in the role of the titular protagonist, his key co-stars for the most part support him successfully, and Spielberg's direction/creative vision are as exemplary as ever. Lincoln is a stunning motion picture which only falters in minor instances, yet is more than worth its Best Picture nomination and its various other award accreditations.

Coming Up This Week: February 25th-March 3rd

Captain Hatch's schemes reach their terrifying epicentre, plus Arrow and Derek continue...
Arguably, the next seven days ahead are some of the quietest we've seen in 2013 so far and indeed in quite some. Ah well. All the same, here at On-Screen we're dedicated to rounding up each week's releases, no matter how limited, so that's exactly what we'll do for this week. Here's our guide to the next seven days of entertainment...
ARROW: DODGER- There's a jewel thief loose in the streets of Starling City this week in Arrow. The Hood must deal with this theft conspiracy whilst Thea meets the elusive Roy Harper and Moira takes the first deadly moves she can against Malcolm Merlyn before his organisation makes its next move- but can even the Queen with the most knowledge succeed in the face of overwhelmingly dangerous odds? (Monday 25th)
GAME OF THRONES: THE OLD GODS AND THE NEW- Meanwhile, in Westeros there's a riot afoot. Never mind the London riots, these civil uprisings in King's Landing threaten to overthrow Joffrey and the Lannister legacy unless Tyrion acts fast! Meanwhile, Jon gains a powerful opportunity beyond the Wall, and Danerys takes decisive action to begin her journey across the oceans as the Season Two re-run of Game Of Thrones begins to race towards its climax...(Monday 25th)
DEREK EPISODE 5- In this penultimate instalment of Ricky Gervais' comedy-drama Derek, the protagonist is helping arrange a show of fundraising entertainment. At the same time, Kev attempts to organise a performance of Duran Duran and Vicki returns to lend a warm welcome hand to the series once more! (Wednesday 27th)
BEING HUMAN: NO CARE, ALL RESPONSIBILITY- It's nearly time for The End. Being Human has just two final episodes remaining, one climactic two-parter to go, and it all starts here. Captain Hatch moves to imprison Alex as Hal's vampire tendencies reach their crux and Tom begins to notice, sparking a potential vampire-werewolf conflict that could power the Devil to rise once more...(Sunday 3rd)
AND THERE'S MORE- Hope Springs, Paranormal Activity 4, Frankenweenie, My Mad Fat Diary and Doctor Who: The Ark In Space Special Edition are all headed to DVD and Blu-Ray retailers on Monday, while Sniper Elite V2: Game Of The Year Edition and LittleBigPlanet 2: Extras Edition are both shipping for Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 respectively come this Friday.
AND NEXT WEEK...Tomb Raider finally kicks off 2013's video gaming roster in immense style, Oz: The Great And Powerful lands in cinemas, Derek and Being Human reach their season finales, Argo hits DVD and Blu-Ray, Doctor Who Magazine previews the first adventure of the anniversary season and releases big news in Issue 458; Deadshot returns in Arrow's sixteenth episode; Doctor Who's Third Doctor 50th Anniversary eBook's author is revealed, plus Game Of Thrones continues with Season Two Episode Seven!

Saturday, 23 February 2013

Opinion: Ant & Dec Takeaway Our Saturday Night Woes

Why the return of Saturday Night Takeaway heralds a much-needed turning point for British television!
As tempting as it would be to simply ignore it, the fact is that the realm of British television these past few weeks has been rather unstable and tepid, lacking any momentum thanks to a thorough increased emphasis on US shows and thus highlighting our neglect of fresh new British shows so far in 2013. Worse still, the Saturday night slot, a slot that should forever be an area of the weekly schedules that excites channel executives in the hope of providing innovative, viewer-grabbing new programmes, has been virtually devoid of any concrete, sustainable additions to the roster in the seven weeks that have preceded this one.

The good news, then? With the return of ITV's hit reality-comedy live show Ant & Dec's Saturday Night Takeaway tonight on ITV1, everything may yet have just changed. Although I didn't manage to catch the whole broadcast live, I could immediately tell from what I had seen that this was worlds apart from the dire Tom Daley 'talent' content Splash (or as most of my colleagues prefer to call it, Trash) we'd had picking up lamentable viewing figures on the same channel just weeks before.  Takeaway was always heralded for providing moments you simply couldn't see anywhere else on British television, or indeed across the world to some extent, and this opening episode was no different in that respect- David Walliams hosting! Daybreak with a Twitter-themed broadcast! Robbie Williams doing a rendition of Singing In The Rain with the boys! These are the kind of random yet effective elements that mainstream viewers would usually dream of featuring across an entire show of this calibre, yet alone in the opening episode of its latest season. There could always be the chance that the ratings flop and ITV decide to axe the show, yet the nation has always rightfully shown a degree of faith and generosity to this comic duo of presenters' well-meaning programmes, which Push The Button and Red & Black certainly were not, so such a possibility seems relatively unlikely.

Knowingly then, there's a chance that Takeaway may have refreshed the tired Saturday night slot of its own accord. Yet in a manner of speaking, the show has appeared at precisely the right time to kick off a stronger schedule for Saturday nights in 2013 in general. With seven episodes of Ant & Dec's latest season of reality-comedy antics still to come, the show will have taken us up to April 13th. By that point, new seasons of Doctor Who, Britain's Got Talent and The Voice UK will all have begun in full force, driving us through to late May and late June respectively and thus taking Saturday viewers through a further four months of high-octane mainstream and cult entertainment. Beyond that, we've still got shows such as Atlantis, The X Factor, I'm A Celebrity! Get Me Out Of Here and the Doctor Who 50th Anniversary celebrations announced to continue Saturday night outings in the late days of Summer and throughout the Autumn and Winter of 2013, and thus there's plenty of extra entertainment already known to be coming our way in 2013 besides all of the treats yet to be announced. On top of that, hit dramas including Sherlock and Downton Abbey will of course be back on Sundays in late 2013 too, so that other weekend slot will likely be in safe hands now for some time to come.

Perhaps all of this is a rather optimistic assessment of the current situation of Saturday night television for the British public. Nevertheless, this writer likes to remain ever the optimist, and given just how horrific a watch Splash turned out to be and how unbelievably idiotic its recommissioning felt in light of the heavy criticism every episode came under, it's hard to see how things can go anywhere other than up from here. Certainly, with the likes of Ant & Dec, Doctor Who, Sherlock and countless other hit shows back on our screens for the remainder of 2013, the former signalling a return to the fun and zest of Saturday night TV days gone by, the future of this crucial area of British television seems in much safer hands. Be warned- from now on, choosing between clubbing and these all important must-be-taped programmes could become one of the most challenging propositions of each week!

Doctor Who: The Nameless City Review

Irish author Michael Scott brings us a Second Doctor 50th Anniversary eBook- does it do Pat Troughton justice?
Last month's A Big Hand For The Doctor from Eoin Colfer was an intriguing première to the BBC's official range of 50th Anniversary eBooks with its new take on the First Doctor. This time around, it's Michael Scott's job to bring us a rendition of Patrick Troughton's Second Doctor in The Nameless City. Scott is a fairly little-known Irish author, yet he has at least a great stab at the mythology of the 1966-1968 version of the character.

There's mythology such as Gallifrey, the Time Lords and the development of TARDISes dealt with here, so fans aren't going to be for want of pure nostalgia. Nevertheless, the core tale of this short story is a little weak. The premise focuses on the Doctor and Jamie investigating a mysterious book that foretells the return of an ancient race called the Aecons to the known galaxies. It sounds like gripping, classic Troughton stuff, but in the end the narrative amounts to little, with very few memorable characters created here and the climax feeling like a rushed TV Comics edition.

It's certainly a shame as last month's Big Hand carried an impressive level of gravitas and anniversary nostalgia for fans everywhere. Another gripe in addition is Scott's portrayal of the Second Doctor- while it's possible to envision Patrick Troughton speaking some of this Doctor's lines, often they ring more true of the First, Seventh and Tenth Doctors. Perhaps it's inevitable with these characters ultimately being eleven incarnations of the same man that there's some continuity between portrayals, yet there's certainly a distinction between the eleven Doctors in their casting, and it's something that you would have thought that the author would take into consideration when the eleven writers chosen are meant to have a passion for each incarnation of the Time Lord.

Altogether, though, fans will have a good time reading Doctor Who: The Nameless City. It's not the best entry in BBC Books' roster for the science-fiction novel series, and won't be the best offering this 50th Anniversary range provides by a long way, but the heart's still there and the short story does the show justice. Doctor Who: The Nameless City is a fast-paced and whimsical adventure that will entice fans of the Second Doctor, though it's probably only for hardcore fans of Who this time around at its £2 price point.

New The Hangover: Part III Promo Image Debuts

A new glimpse at the Summer Of Film 2013's hottest comedy!
Warner Brothers have today released a new promotional teaser image for their upcoming comedy film finale The Hangover: Part III. Set two years after Part II (2011), this third instalment sees Alan mourning after the death of his father, and yearning for the Wolfpack to reunite and ease his pain. The rumours have it that Alan will end up trapped in a mental asylum, though whether it's as a result of his titular Hangover or whether this time the Wolfpack must get hung-over themselves to free him remains to be seen.

This finale for the movie franchise will star Bradley Cooper, Ed Helms and Zach Galifinakas in the three lead roles once again, with returning portrayals including Justin Bartha (Doug), Ken Jeong (Mr Chow), Heather Graham (Jade), Jamie Chung (Lauren), Sasha Barreese (Tracy) and Mike Epps (Black Doug). Expect the first trailer for this much-anticipated comic motion picture to arrive in the next fortnight- you can see the new image below.

The Hangover: Part III is set for release in cinemas worldwide on May 24th.

Game Of Thrones Season Three Trailer Arrives

A movie-style trailer for the new season of blockbuster adventures has landed!
HBO Studios released a brand new trailer for the third season of hit television drama Game Of Thrones on the Jimmy Kimmel Live Show last night. This third run of ten seventy-five minute instalments will focus on the consequences of the all-out war that kicked off in the final days of Season Two, with the Lannisters hell-bent on ensuring that another invasion doesn't befall King's Landing while the Starks of Winterfell attempt to take back their lost realm of Westeros. The latest trailer features footage of this ongoing conflict, as well as promises that old debts will be repaid and the quest for power will reach its absolute crux. All in all, Season Three is looking like another hot proposition, with just over five weeks remaining until the show returns. Game Of Thrones Season Three commences broadcasting on Sky Atlantic on Monday April 1st.

The Fantastic Four Producer Announced

X-Men: First Class' director will have a role to play in this 2015 superhero film reboot!
20th Century Fox's Marvel chief Mark Millar has today revealed the name of the producer now assigned to assist in the production of new superhero film reboot The Fantastic Four. It's none other than Matthew Vaughn, director of both 2011's hit superhero movies Kick-Ass and X-Men: First Class and producer on the upcoming 2014 film X-Men: Days Of Future Past. Vaughn is a pretty appropriate choice for the task, particularly as it's believed that this upcoming project and the latest X-Men movies from Fox will begin to fit into the same universe as Avengers has done for Marvel Studios and Disney. The Fantastic Four is set for release on March 26th, 2015.

First Hunger Games: Catching Fire Teasers Debut

 Our first look at the blockbuster sequel coming this Winter!
Lionsgate Studios have today released the first two teaser promotional images for their upcoming fantasy film sequel The Hunger Games: Catching Fire. Set days after the hit 2011 original, Catching Fire focuses on Katniss and Peeta's Victory Tour after their survival of the Hunger Games, and the uprisings that begin to arise across Panem as it becomes apparent that the first string of hope against the Capital might finally have arrived. It all builds towards a dangerous new Hunger Games tournament that the powers that be hope will quell all violence in the region, yet that could prove to do quite the opposite...

The image below in particular is pretty striking, showcasing fan favourite stars Jennifer Lawrence and Josh Hutcherson as Katniss Everdeen and Peeta Mallick respectively. Other key stars in this blockbuster sequel include Dustin Seymour Hoffman, Elizabeth Banks, Toby Jones, Willow Shiels and Woody Harrellson, most of whom return for more successes after Lionsgate struck gold with the original movie. From here on out, we'll then have The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1 to look forward to in Winter 2014 and Part 2 bringing the novel adaptation franchise to its finale in Winter 2015!

The Hunger Games: Catching Fire will blaze into cinemas worldwide on November 22nd.
Hunger Games: Catching Fire poster

Xbox 720 Reveal Event Rumoured For April

Could the full reveal of Microsoft's latest video gaming hardware arrive in just over one month's time?
A full reveal event for the Xbox 720 has been rumoured online this week. U.S. Techs yesterday registered the web domain 'XboxEvent.com', and considering that U.S. Techs are known as the company who help organise the production of Microsoft's annual E3 live showcase conferences, this bodes well as a development which will mirror Sony's PlayStation 4 reveal event this month. Analysts have predicted that April is the most likely time for Microsoft to reveal their Xbox 720 as the hints point towards a late 2013 release (earlier than the PS4's early 2014 debut in the UK), so there could be strong evidence all of this is indeed leading towards something.

Expect official confirmation on the matter from Microsoft in the next couple of weeks. Keep it On-Screen, of course, for all the latest developments surrounding the next-generation of video gaming hardware...

The Campaign Review

Can Will Ferrell and Zach Galifinakas achieve poll position with their latest comedy?
Coming off the back of comedy hit films such as Anchorman, The Hangover and Step Brothers, you wouldn't blame Will Ferrell and Zach Galifinakas for becoming just a tad complacent about their chances with their latest movie outing, The Campaign. Sadly, though, that's exactly what's happened here, and while complacency can sometimes be justified, too often it breeds a strange contempt for the viewer that will backfire 99% of the time. Indeed, there's a real sense that these two legendary comics were trying just that little too hard to have the viewer laughing, sacrificing narrative integrity and general likeability of their production as a result.

The central premise of this uninspired flick is as such- two potential Congressmen launch equally absurd election campaigns in order to best one another, including paintball violence, baby-punching and terrorist allusions in their marketing to spite their opponent. If all this sounds like a rather exaggerated and hyperbolic form of satire towards the Presidential elections the film was not-so-coincidentally released to coincide with, then you're a wiser viewer than the writers clearly take you for. It seems that the script feels the viewer is below the status of holding the intelligence to recognise when a movie is simply playing on its gimmicks for the sake of gags rather than any meaningful storyline.

Sure enough, the gags wear thin after the first half hour or so, likely only to attain as much as chuckles (and that's from the more generous viewer) in the remaining 60 minutes of its running time. Even Galifinakas and Ferrell appear to lose the will a little as the storyline progresses, seemingly realising for themselves how turgid and plain crass some of the jokes become towards the end and perhaps questioning the need to do much more given that the flick was virtually guaranteed to pull in the cash they'd hoped for. When such an attribute becomes clear as present in the central cast, it's not a good omen, and indeed The Campaign descends fairly rapidly into the pool of forgotten mishaps that won't be remembered with any fondness from comedy fans.

There's fun to be had here, sure, and I have no doubt that fans of Ferrell and his Hangover co-star like myself will at least get some enjoyment out of seeing this rather iconic duo of comics team up to take the reins for a single motion picture. Nevertheless, the novelty wears off, and before you know it, you'll find that The Campaign becomes a chore to watch, a prolonged 90 minute joke that should have been cut off by one of the production team in the early stages of screenplay writing while they still had the chance. Better luck at the next ballot, Warner Brothers...

Thursday, 21 February 2013

Opinion: Daniel Craig 007 Trilogy Retrospective

A look back at three iconic Bond movies and their quality months/years on from release!
"How did he die?" "Not well." Daniel Craig's first trilogy of James Bond 007 films are known worldwide for their supreme innovation and daring gritty reboot of the lore of the 50-year old film franchise. The trilogy's over now, though. As such, it's high time for a retrospective of what's come our way these past few years, as a strong method of starting to look ahead at what we can expect from days to come.

Without further ado, then, let's journey through seven years of Bond greatness for a trilogy of hit motion pictures, and see just how well each film fares countless months later...
CASINO ROYALE (2005)- It's safe to say that Daniel Craig's debut movie as Bond made a colossal impact upon release. Looking at Casino again seven years later, for the most part it fares just as well. Craig is an excellent incarnation of 007, taking the character into unique new territory. Indeed, with iconic sequences such as the crane chase and the infamous torture scenario, there's a real sense that MGM Studios wanted to drive the franchise forward firmly into the 21st Century with a bang. That said, Le Chiffre is a rather underwhelming new take on the Bond villain, and the 150 minute running time does outstay its welcome somewhat. However, despite its flaws, Casino Royale remains a mostly gripping watch and benefits most from its daringness to bring the Bond series up to date. 4.5/5
QUANTUM OF SOLACE (2008)- Where Casino Royale made a successful leap forward for Bond storytelling, though, its follow-up failed to impress quite as much. Quantum is, in essence, a simple revenge tale that takes its unique premise that's new to the franchise and runs a little too heavily with it, moving through predictable motions in a host of gritty setpieces which defy realism too far. I'm sure the initial concept seemed fantastic to the film's writers, but when the running time still nears a hefty two hours, there's still far too much filler content. The saving grace? Craig's still brilliant, and his interaction with Judi Dench in the film's subtle denouement works beautifully. 3/5
SKYFALL (2012)- For this viewer in particular, Skyfall represents the defining experience of the James Bond film franchise in its fifty-year history. The Britain-set setpieces are wonderfully handled, directed masterfully by Sam Mendes and once again performed in supreme subtlety by stars including Craig, Dench, Javier Bardem, Ben Whishaw and Ralph Fiennes. There's a strong sense of refinement and definition of where this treasured British series can go, what it can be in the decade ahead. Dench's final portrayal of M is by far the best element of this masterpiece of a motion picture, her quoting of Tennyson's fateful words and her heartbreaking goodbye truly iconic moments for the trilogy finale. Skyfall came 3rd in our Best Films Of 2012 list, a truly staggering achievement for a series that was once so dull and predictable, and it still remains a fantastic centrepiece of the 50th Anniversary that redefines the entire James Bond franchise, providing a fitting climax to Daniel Craig's first trilogy as 007. "How did he die?" "Not well...but at least safe in the knowledge that it was going to be a hell of a ride." 5/5

Being Human Final Episodes Synopses Released

The BBC reveal just what we can expect as we near The End...
The BBC Press Office have today debuted plot synopses for the final two televised episodes of fantasy drama series Being Human. The concluding two-parter will mark the end of five seasons of this BBC3 supernatural cult hit, wrapping up the Trinity and Devil narrative arcs in the most explosive of manners.

We're sure these two final instalments should provide a fitting climax for this loved drama show. Here's both of the plot briefs as they currently stand...

  • EPISODE 5: "Tom falls for a damsel in distress called Natasha, when she runs into the hotel looking for a safe haven. But Natasha comes to the attention of Hal for a darker reason, when she offers him a way to control his bloodlust and prevent him from killing innocents. Meanwhile, Alex is positive there's something suspect about hotel resident Captain Hatch. But the more she investigates, the deeper the danger gets..."
  • EPISODE 6: "The supernatural trinity has been broken. There's little left of Hal's humanity. Having feasted on blood and recruited an army of vampires, he's ready to return for his hedonstic and debauched days. Tom is set on revenge and has returned to his default setting- vampire killer, with one vampire in mind. Alex is trapped in a hellish prison by Captain Hatch. Unbeknownst to them all, Captain Hatch is no longer wheelchair bound and weak: he's regained his strength and is determined to cause chaos, death and destruction as possible. In the thrilling series finale Hal, Tom and Alex do battle with the Devil in order to save the world, but at what price to their own humanity?"
Being Human continues this Sunday on BBC3 at 10pm.

Mass Effect 3: Citadel DLC Announced

BioWare reveal their final single-player expansion to one of 2012's best games!
BioWare Studios have today announced the development of Mass Effect 3: Citadel for release later this year. The third and final full downloadable content single-player expansion for one of 2012's biggest and best blockbuster video games, this new set of story missions is dubbed as "an emotional ride", "one final sentimental journey with Commander Shepherd and the player's squad". We're promised new dialogue content with classic squadmates such as Liara, Wrex, Miranda, Garrus, James and Kaidan that should allow players the final sequence of closure they've been waiting for.

There'll also be a new Reckoning multiplayer expansion featuring new characters, races, levels and arenas for players to continue their Galaxy At War campaign on after completing (or during) the game's main campaign. It's not inconcievable that a Game Of The Year edition of Mass Effect 3 could arrive this Summer either, but we'll keep you posted on that matter until we hear anything official.

Mass Effect 3: Reckoning is set for release on Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 (not for the WiiU, though!) on February 28th and Mass Effect 3: Citadel will hit those consoles on March 5th.

Opinion: PlayStation 4 Reveal- The Verdict

IT'S COMING! But did Sony's unveiling of the PlayStation 4 make its targeted impact?
The cat's out of the bag, then- Sony are bringing their PlayStation 4 console to retailers everywhere (other than the UK) in Winter 2013. The question is, though, did their unveiling of their latest hardware do the trick? Put simply, it's a fairly firm Yes, although there were a few shortcomings to the show that will perhaps hold back Xbox gamers such as myself from being converted.

First up, let's deal with the most important element of any video games console reveal: the software. Sony made a strange call bringing Knack as their opening trailer, especially as it looked like something of an indie title which mimicked DreamWorks animated films. Nevertheless, after that the video game announcements came thick and fast in an impressive way- Killzone: Shadow Fall, inFamous: Second Son, DriveClub, The Witness, Diablo III, Deep Down and Watch Dogs were all looking very hot on the new hardware. Sure, some of these titles will end up being multi-platform, but you can't fault Sony for their pure ambition.

Or can you? I'm not trying to put a dampener on what Sony promoted here, yet beyond the impressive third-party contributions, the company itself appeared to be going through the motions. With a photo-realistic racing game, a new open-worlder, a new futuristic shooter and a few Move-based entries, there was little in the way of the shocks that Watch Dogs offered at the conference's end from the first-party publisher and developer. Perhaps if, as hoped, Sony had either placed a bigger empahasis on new IPs OR actually brought out more of the first-party franchises which players care about such as Little Big Planet 3 or definitive news on The Last Of Us, The Last Guardian or even a fourth Uncharted, the conference as a whole could have fared even better than it did.

Kudos must go to Sony, though, for offering plentiful details on the hardware and its social integration. The 8GB unified RAM that the PS4's packing is mighty impressive, ensuring it'll match up to modern high-end PCs. All the same, beyond that, we were just shown a host of features that tried to convince us that live gameplay videos and use of Facebook and Twitter would revolutionise the world of video gaming. I'm sure some of the 'Share', PSVita and Gaikai features will have a meaningful impact on the new hardware, yet this wasn't perhaps the best space for Sony to demonstrate the new additions to its ecosystem. Twitter was filled with comments at certain points in the conference along the lines of "GET BACK TO THE GAMES!", and while the Future Of PlayStation's highlights mostly compensated for this, such complaints shouldn't be forgotten.

My overall stance on the Future Of PlayStation event is mostly positive, in all honesty. The PlayStation 4 console's visuals are looking incredible to say the least, and the DualShock 4 controller should with any luck work as a brilliant combination of the PSVita and Move's best new features. However, particularly in comparing the Killzone trailer to that of Watch Dogs, there's still a sore need for innovation in some areas of the PlayStation ecosystem. Nevertheless, although we've got to wait perhaps another month longer than anyone else, and perhaps the lack of strong exclusive content won't necessarily tide over Xbox fans such as myself, it still seems that the PlayStation 4 will have a strong launch ahead!

BRITs 2013- The Winners List

Emile Sande scoops up Best British Album Of 2012 in the most disappointing BRIT awards ceremony yet...
It has to be said that in spite of a few live highlights, last nights' BRITs Awards 2013 ceremony was perhaps the most disappointing ceremony yet. Long gone are the days where up-and-coming acts are discovered or highlighted for their innovation, with hosts of mainstream acts given precedence in an age where mainstream music has already hit an All Time Low (pun fully intended). While acts such as Ben Howard, Adele, Mumford and Coldplay undoubtedly deserved their inclusions and victories, the well-deserved wins was few and far between, and the show's organisers might need to be in serious need of a rethink when all of the relevance of the programme was completely lost to the PS4 event later that evening. Don't worry if you haven't heard of a good deal of these artists- you're not getting old, as I feared at first, you've just got a better taste in music than the vast majority of the British voting public.

And on that rather controversial note, here's the full list of award winners (sigh...):
BRITISH MALE SOLO ARTIST: Ben Howard; Calvin Harris; Olly Murs; Plan B; Richard Hawley
BRITISH FEMALE SOLO ARTIST: Bat For Lashes; Paloma Faith; Emile Sande; Amy Winehouse; Jessie Ware
BRITISH BREAKTHROUGH ACT: Alt-J; Rita Ora; Ben Howard; Jake Bugg; Jessie Ware
BRITISH GROUP: Alt-J; The XX; Muse; One Direction; Mumford & Sons
BRITISH SINGLE OF THE YEAR: Skyfall; Too Close; Princess Of China; Hot Right Now; Next To Me; Spectrum (Say My Name); Impossible; Domino; Beneath Your Beautiful; Troublemaker; R.I.P.; Mama Do The Hump; Candy; Feel The Love; Black Heart
BRITISH ALBUM OF THE YEAR: Mumford & Sons- Babel; Emile Sande- Our Version Of Events; Alt-J- An Awesome Wave; Paloma Faith- Fall To Grace; Plan B- iLL Manors
INTERNATIONAL MALE SOLO ARTIST: Bruce Springsteen; Gotye; Frank Ocean; Jack White; Michael Buble
INTERNATIONAL FEMALE SOLO ARTIST: Alicia Keys; Lana Del Rey; Taylor Swift; Rihanna; Cat Power
INTERNATIONAL GROUP: The Black Keys; Alabama Shakes; Fun; The Script; The Killers
BEST LIVE ACT: The Vaccines; Coldplay; Mumford & Sons; Muse; The Vaccines
Our 'Winners List' award season of feature articles reaches its climax this Sunday, February 24th as the Academy Awards 2013 are revealed...check out On-Screen on Monday for all of the details!

Derek Episode 4 Review

Ricky Gervais' comedy-drama continues with its fourth full instalment, and we've got the definitive verdict.
I for one have really enjoyed the time we've spent with Derek on Channel 4 these past few weeks, yet 'Episode 4' was personally a big disappointment in this reviewer's honest opinion. Whereas the series usually blends comedy and emotive drama with a passionate zest, here much of the humorous elements felt forced at best, as character portrayals began to veer a little too close to the stereotypical melodrama of The Office and Extras.

At the heart of this issue were Karl Pilkington and David Earl as Dougie and Kev respectively. While Pilkington has so far been employed to great rare effect at the most realistic and hilarious instances as the voice of reason, in 'Episode 4' his An Idiot Abroad-riffing take on the character at the beach was just grating to watch, lacking any real empathetic or chuckle-worthy material. Indeed, Earl's Kev was played for laughs once again in much too frequent a manner, again wearing thin after just a few scenes and thus making the episode as a whole suffer due to his increased exposure.

It's a good job, then, that Ricky Gervais and Kerry Godliman held the fort magnificently back at Broad Hill in the episode's opening scenes and the climax. Godliman has always been an unsung wonder of Derek, representing perhaps the most true-to-life portrayal of a woman who finds solace in this selfless work yet is criticized for it by self-adoring and richer member of societies. It's a meaningful and empathetic trait in her character that's put to great use here, and when she's placed in collaboration with the hugely pleasant surprise return of Holli Dempsey as Vicki, the episode is at its glorious best. Indeed, if Dempsey appears in both of the two remaining instalments of this first season to lighten things up with her callous nature, then I reckon Derek can leave a fitting legacy with its viewers regardless of whether another season is commissioned or not.

Gervais in particular must be commended, though, as his script, direction and portrayal in the show have all been marvelous. Sure, the cracks can begin to become visible when the comic places too much emphasis on the more light-hearted and gag-prone characters in his ensemble cast, yet that doesn't rob Derek of an inert likability which keeps the programme afloat with ease every week. Derek 'Episode 4' is probably the weakest entry in the show's roster so far, but its strengths do at least ensure that it's a compelling watch thanks to a few standout performances. That final line from Hannah ("She always was a little c**t.") was worth the entire half an hour alone!

Game Of Thrones: The Ghosts Of Harrnehal Review

A dark twist of fate sends the whole of Westeros into disarray- our verdict on Season Two's fifth episode of its Sky Atlantic re-run...
There's no doubting that Game Of Thrones has been in a desperate need of a narrative shake-up for a couple of weeks now, and thankfully The Ghosts Of Harrnehal was just that. With Renley Baratheon executed within the first half hour, viewers had definitive proof that this halfway-point episode of Season Two meant business, finally putting an end to the slow trawl of non-entity standalone events that seemed irrelevant in the wider storyline.

First and foremost, the developing strand of Arya's character arc looks to be something of paramount importance to how Game Of Thrones as a show will develop. Now that the youngest female member of the Stark clan has the power within her hands to kill two more influential figures in the war for the Iron Throne, it appears that Westeros will never quite be the same again, something that the show's needed to prove in the same manner as Ned Stark's death ever since that penultimate episode of Season One. Maisie Williams did a wonderful job as Arya, bound by the cruel irony of the fate she has been dealt, yet still able to provide a defining influence on the days ahead and undoubtedly now one of the series' most interesting characters.

It was great to see a little more screen time afforded to Danaerys across the ocean, too. The last true Targyerean was a notable omission entirely from last week's instalment, so fans should have welcomed the surprise of her character coming back to the forefront by making the challenging decision to refuse a wedding proposal after consulting with her ambitious aid Ser Jorah. One has to wonder if the naturally developing bond between these two staplemates will progress into something of a more meaningful arc in Season Three, or if as is so often the way with Thrones, the writers will continue to play on expectations in a heartbreaking manner.

As ever, Peter Dinkley's Tyrion Lannister was a fascinating character to see continuing to develop over in King's Landing. Tyrion and his guard Bron came across a plentiful helping of wildfire for the battle of King's Landing ahead that seems set to pit Lannister against Baratheon, yet there was an indication that something even greater would come of use for this deadly weapon, and those of us such as myself who've read the novel A Clash Of Kings will recall that wildfire will indeed serve a greater purpose. The more we see of Dinkley, the more it becomes clear that he seems to have inhabited the role of Thrones' protagonist with ease in spite of the pressure of following Sean Bean!

The Ghosts Of Harrenhal isn't quite a full-on televisual masterpiece, due to characters such as Theon Greyshield stealing screen time in a manner that seems to purposefully rob us of a few more groundbreaking events in the series' lore. Nevertheless, Game Of Thrones: The Ghosts Of Harrenhal is without doubt a fantastic return-to-form for the show, giving me a lot more confidence for the remainder of Sky Atlantic's Season Two re-run and indeed for Season Three and beyond.

PlayStation 4: The Announcements Guide

The next-generation began last night- see all of the big news right here...
So, it turns out that all of the rumours were true- the PlayStation 4 is coming to shake up the video game industry further than ever before. Sony announced their latest hardware release at their 'Future Of PlayStation' conference last night, and while the console itself wasn't actually shown, the concepts and announcements surrounding it were fairly strong compensation all the same. Here's our full guide to everything you may have missed...

  • TECH SPECS- First up were a few technical details about the PS4 console, each of which bring it in impressive line with modern PCs, including an 8GB unified memory system, a x86 CPU and an enhanced PC GPU. Basically, this serves as the first confirmation that Sony and Microsoft's new consoles will rival and better a lot of current high-end PCs just as the 360 and PS3 did at launch.
  • DUALSHOCKED- We also got our first look at the DualShock 4 controller, and it's pretty much exactly as the rumoured images predicted. It's similar to past DualShock incarnations, yet where there once were 'Start' and 'Select' buttons, there's now a Touch Screen and a PlayStation Move functionality that helps control looking around as players can now watch live gameplay videos from their colleagues.
  • GETTING A KNACK FOR THIS- The first announced piece of software for the PS4 is Knack, a quirky animated platformer that looks to rival DreamWorks visually and indeed features innovative Remote Play gameplay as an option using the ever-lovable PlayStation Vita handheld console.
  • GAKAI LANDS- This system will greatly enhance the PlayStation Network store. Sony's hope with Gaikai is that instant demos will be available for players to instantaneously try out games, and indeed that the PS4's lack of disc-based backwards compatability for PS1, PS2 and PS3 games will be compensated by those titles being available via Gaikai digitally.
  • LET THE SHADOWS FALL- Seemingly a very unintentional sequel to Skyfall, Sony announced last night that a new entry in the Killzone franchise is headed our way exclusively on PS4. Titled Killzone: Shadow Fall, it's not yet known whether a) it's a spin-off or core entry or b) the gameplay is innovative beyond the fantastic visuals, but it should be an exciting ride finding out.
  • A NEW DRIVE- Another game trailer that proved that the PS4 will need to innovate beyond photo-realistic visuals, Sony's new driving IP DriveClub looked eerily similar to Forza Motorsport 4 beyond improved visuals. The developers will need to work on keeping things fresh!
  • AN INFAMOUS LEGACY- And another potential spin-off lands. inFamous: Second Son will again be exclusive to PlayStation 4, and give superhero players the power to overthrow a new and despicable government in a brand new region of the world...
  • CAPCOM GO DEEP- We didn't see much of Capcom's new project Deep Down, and it seems it'll be multi-platform with the Xbox 720. Nevertheless, the trailer with gameplay looked absolutely incredible, a new take on the Dragon's Dogma formula, so here's hoping this will fulfill its potential!
  • DIABLO HITS CONSOLES- Here's one that console gamers have been waiting for for quite a while. Blizzard Entertainment have entered a big campaign with Sony to bring Diablo III to both PS3 and PS4, and while it's something of an outdated title now over a year on, fans of the franchise will no doubt be thrilled at this development.
  • WATCH THIS ONE- We got a beautiful new demo for the much-anticipated open world thriller futuristic game Watch Dogs at the conference, which you can check out below. It's confirmed so far that the game will ship on Xbox 360 (and likely the 720 once it's announced next month), PS3, PS4 and WiiU.
  • THE WILD HUNT EXPANDS- The final announcement of the event was that CD Projekt's final instalment in The Witcher franchise will hit PS4 too. Yep, The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt is coming to Xbox 360, PS3, PS4 and (let's be honest) the Xbox 720 in 2014.
The PlayStation 4 will ship in the United States and Japan in Winter 2013, and in the United Kingdom in early 2014.