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Sunday, 31 March 2013

On-Screen: How The Summer Hiatus Works

Our brief guide to what's to come over the initial Summer months for your favourite entertainment blog...
Here at On-Screen, I like to keep you in the know as to how things will work if there's any kind of 'state of flux' with the format of upcoming weeks and articles. As such, today I just wanted to briefly inform you as to how the Summer Hiatus that I've recently mentioned for the blog is going to work.

First and foremost, this is NOTHING to be afraid of, dear readers. Although On-Screen will indeed be taking a break of total radio silence for a time with exams and other matters arising for most of us, when we do make our full-scale return, there'll be plenty of massive content to bring On-Screen back for the rest of 2013 with an almighty bang. Let's quickly go over just how the Hiatus itself will actually be laid out:

  • WHIT WEEK (MAY 25TH-JUNE 2ND): There may well be a brief update at some point on a few major news stories that will likely have occurred in the 3.5 weeks we've been away. This update should contain definitive details on when On-Screen should return for good, but stay tuned to our official Facebook page and my Twitter account @tbuxton42 for all the latest news on the matter.
So, let's get something straight right from the off and out into the open- yes, this hiatus is a little longer than you may be used to. Last year's Summer Hiatus essentially lasted from May 13th-May 24th due to exams and other priorities only taking place in late May, but the extension is just a matter of precedence. Nevertheless, before the Hiatus even begins at the end of this month, we'll have reviews of Doctor Who, Game Of Thrones, Life's Too Short, Arrow, In The Flesh, Iron Man 3 and many more releases, plus all the latest coverage of the biggest and best entertainment news.

And of course, after the hiatus is where things really kick up from a notch. First up, there'll be an absolute reviews blitz as releases from that Hiatus period including Injustice: Gods Among Us, Star Trek Into Darkness, The Great Gatsby, The Hangover Part III, Man Of Steel, the final episodes of Doctor Who's anniversary season and tonnes more go under the radar. There'll be LOADS of big E3, Summer Of Film and more features to come, so come June 19th it all gets underway again big time.

For now, revel in the good times as we're all busy but booming and the blog has never been in better shape. We'll keep you posted on all the new developments, but for now have a fantastic Easter Holiday and enjoy the posts!
The Editor

Coming Up This Week: April 1st-7th

April kicks off with the return of one of the world's hottest TV shows!
Here we are, then- April. Changes will be afoot for On-Screen in the last few days of the month as we take our Summer Hiatus for a few weeks, but let's not dawdle on that. For now, this week ahead looks like a pretty solid one for entertainment, offering a few much-needed returns and big releases. Here's our guide:
ARROW: SALVATION- Hot on the heels of its mid-season premiere, Arrow's next episode takes the show into daring new territory. In this eighteenth instalment, the mysterious 'Saviour' comes to Starling City vowing revenge on the Hood, and captures Roy Harper in his terrifying scheme- can the Green Arrow save his future sidekick? (Monday 1st)
GAME OF THRONES SEASON THREE BEGINS- The third season of the world's hottest fantasy drama has arrived. In Game Of Thrones: Valar Doheris, Jon Snow finally meets the King Beyond The Wall, Tyrion discovers the shocking truth of his father's return, Jaime Lannister is drawn ever closer to King's Landing and Danerys rallies an army fit to storm Westeros...for the Seven Kingdoms, nothing will ever be the same again! (Monday 1st)
JONATHAN CREEK: THE CLUE OF THE SAVANT'S THUMB- BBC1's hit fantasy detective drama Jonathan Creek is returnining for an Easter Special, once again starring Alan Davis and Sheridan Smith in its lead roles. Prepare for action, mystery and adventure ahead of a thrilling new series of the hit drama later this year...(Monday 1st)
DOCTOR WHO 50TH ANNIVERSARY SPECIAL FILMING- This week is finally the time when Doctor Who's grand 50th Anniversary spectacular will commence filming. Will past Doctors feature? Will the truth of the Fields Of Trenzalore be revealed? We won't hear tonnes thanks to the official production team's secrecy, but here at the blog we'll keep you up to date on all the latest casting developments! (Monday 1st)
DOCTOR WHO: BABBLESPHERE- The Destiny Of The Doctor range is continuing this week with a Fourth Doctor adventure. Travelling to a mysterious human colony, the Babblesphere, Tom Baker's Doctor must discover the secret of human sanity before it's too late in a daring new adventure read and performed by Lalla Ward (Romana). (Thursday 4th)
DOCTOR WHO: THE RINGS OF AHKATEN- After that sensational season opener, Doctor Who is back on Saturday for its second epic 50th Anniversary blockbuster adventure. Travelling to a stunning CGI alien planet, the Doctor hopes to show Clara the wonders of the universe- but at the Festival Of Offerings, anything is possible, and the deadly Mummy lies in wait to break free and wreak havoc, so can the Time Lord and his new companion hope to stop it? (Saturday 6th)
AND THERE'S MORE- Silver Linings Playbook, Call The Midwife Series Two and Touch Season One are all heading to DVD and Blu-Ray retailers tomorrow, plus Defiance hits Xbox 360 consoles everywhere!
AND NEXT WEEK...The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey finally arrives on DVD and Blu-Ray, the Doctor witnesses the terrifying return of an old enemy in Doctor Who: Cold War, iTV's biggest talent show Britain's Got Talent returns, Scary Movie 5 hits cinemas, Doctor Who gets three new Eleventh Doctor novel adventures, plus Game Of Thrones and Arrow heat up with brand new episodes!

April 2013: Your Guide To The Big Dates

Looking ahead to all of the big dates you need in your April calendars...
Believe it or not, we're already a quarter of the way through 2013- where does the time go, eh? April shows no signs of letting up in terms of entertainment releases, packing a big few hitters that fans of various genres will not want to miss. Our only major hiatus as an online blog will also start right at the end of the month, but we'll keep you up to date nearer the time on when and how On Screen will return in a BIG way after exams a few weeks later. Believe us, the best is yet to come...For now, here's our guide to all of the key release dates you should know:
MONDAY 1ST- TV: Game Of Thrones: Valar Doheris; Arrow: Salvation; Jonathan Creek: The Clue Of The Savant's Thumb; EVENTS: Doctor Who 50th Anniversary Special Starts Filming
THURSDAY 4TH- CDS: Doctor Who: Babblesphere
FRIDAY 5TH- MOVIES: Rock Of Ages Sky Movies Premiere
SATURDAY 6TH- TV: Doctor Who: The Rings Of Ahkaten
SUNDAY 7TH- TV: The Village Episode 2
MONDAY 8TH- DVDS: The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey; TV: Arrow: Unfinished Business; Game Of Thrones: Dark Wings, Dark Words
THURSDAY 11TH- BOOKS: Doctor Who: The Dalek Generation; Doctor Who: Plague Of The Cybermen; Doctor Who: Shroud Of Sorrow
FRIDAY 12TH- MOVIES: Scary Movie 5; Snow White And The Huntsman Sky Movies Premiere
SATURDAY 13TH- TV: Doctor Who: Cold War; Britain's Got Talent Returns
SUNDAY 14TH- TV: The Village Episode 3
MONDAY 15TH- TV: Game Of Thrones: Walk Of Punishment
FRIDAY 19TH- GAMES: Injustice: Gods Among Us
SATURDAY 20TH- TV: Doctor Who: Hide
SUNDAY 21ST- EVENTS: Xbox 720 Reveal; TV: The Village Episode 4
MONDAY 22ND- TV: Game Of Thrones: And Now His Watch Is Ended
FRIDAY 26TH- GAMES: Star Trek: The Video Game
SATURDAY 27TH- TV: Doctor Who: Journey To The Centre Of The TARDIS
SUNDAY 28TH- TV: The Village Episode 5
MONDAY 29TH- EVENTS: On-Screen Summer Hiatus Begins (On-Screen Will Return For A Day On May 24th & Fully From June 18th); TV: Game Of Thrones: Kissed By Fire

Saturday, 30 March 2013

Doctor Who: The Bells Of Saint John Review

The Doctor is back for his 50th Anniversary- can this mid-season première possibly keep up the pace?
With The Bells Of Saint John, Steven Moffat has managed admirably to cope within the tricky situation of there being no immediate mid-season 'cliffhanger' as there was for Let's Kill Hitler after the River Song shocker in Series Six Part One. While this isn't perhaps up in the league in some of the Moff's greatest Doctor Who masterpieces, it's nevertheless a thrilling rollercoaster of an introduction into the 50th Anniversary run.

First and foremost, let's credit the shining highlight of Asylum Of The Daleks, The Snowmen and indeed this brilliant return- Jenna-Louise Coleman. As a computer genius, a Victorian governess and a modern nanny with ambitions to travel the world, Coleman has risen to the challenge in every guise that Steven has provided her with so far, and this reviewer has no doubt that we'll continue to see her develop as the season progresses. Clara's chemistry with Matt Smith's Doctor was on fine form here too, boding very well for future adventures they'll share together on the TARDIS this year.

As ever, the blockbuster narrative of the episode was a classic Moffat concoction. It could be argued that this adventure was paced a little differently and more slowly than we're used to from the man who gave us the likes of Blink and Day Of The Moon, yet for the most part that doesn't hurt its appeal. There are a fair few jabs at humanity's lingering dependence on Wi-Fi, with Twitter in particular falling under the proverbial radar, but it's all done in an intelligent and tongue-in-cheek manner that never feels petty. The concept of the Spoonheads was actually put to great effect, too- they're hardly an 'iconic' foe which could be utilised again and again, yet here they serve the purpose of the storyline excellently.

Visually, Bells was no slacker either. From a 13th century monastery historical sequence to a blazing thriller plane escape setpiece and of course the unforgettable Shard motorbike stunt, new director Colm McCarthy did absolute wonders with his direction and was helped in strong form by the Mill's stunning special effects team. Indeed, we're probably looking at one of the most beautifully directed and presented episodes of Doctor Who ever with this bold mid-season première.

Where did Episode 1 (or Episode 7 of Series Seven) falter, then? On occasion, it felt as if Steven was struggling to know for sure whether it would be better to follow the season arc surrounding the mystery of Clara or instead the movie plot-of-the-week, something which could be argued as working to the episode's detriment in its final moments. Between UNIT's rapid invasion of the Shard, Richard E Grant's Dr Simeon returning possessed by the Great Intelligence and Clara's assertion that home was simply 'Page One' of a new life in the stars, it was a little difficult to know where to turn in the episode's final moments. This didn't feel so much a rushed conclusion due to the forty-five minute timeslot, just something which perhaps could have warranted faster explanation earlier in the episode to make things run a little smoother at the climax.

All the same, it's silly to dawdle on any minor plot qualms for too long, as there was such cracking fun to be had this evening. In spite of its minor shortcomings, The Bells Of Saint John represented yet another glorious return from Doctor Who at nearly its very best, with Steven Moffat's portrayal of the Eleventh Doctor and Clara stunningly done, the cast- Celia Imrie included- all on fine form and Colm McCarthy's direction to die for. Juggling one too many arc elements in the climax may have been a slight issue here, yet the Moff has definitely guaranteed us fans will be waiting on the edge of our seats every week to see what happens next, and moreso that the 50th Anniversary should be a groundbreaking year to remember!


Wishing our readers a great Easter Bank Holiday...
Hello, all- just a quick one from us here at On-Screen. Easter is always a great time to relax and recuperate from our busy old lives, so we here at the blog just want to wish you a happy Easter Bank Holiday weekend! In the weeks ahead, we'll have reviews of big new releases such as Doctor Who, Game Of Thrones, Life's Too Short, BioShock Infinite, Injustice: Gods Among Us, Scary Movie 5 and Iron Man 3 for starters, before our brief Summer hiatus kicks in for a few weeks where this writer's priorities must lie elsewhere. Nevertheless, for now though, have a fantastic Easter weekend and we'll see you all very soon.

Doctor Who 50th Anniversary Special Gets Tennant & More

David Tennant, Billie Piper and John Hurt will all join the cast of the show's biggest episode ever!
The BBC have today announced the exhilarating news of the first confirmed guest stars for the Doctor Who 50th Anniversary Special. Starring Matt Smith as the Eleventh Doctor and Jenna-Louise Coleman as Clara Oswald, this breathtaking new adventure has now been confirmed to star David Tennant as the Tenth Doctor, Billie Piper as Rose Tyler and John Hurt in an unrevealed role.

David starred as the Doctor in Doctor Who for four full years, 2006-2009, from The Christmas Invasion to The End Of Time as well as appearing in an episode of The Sarah Jane Adventures in 2009 too. Billie meanwhile appeared as Rose in the first and second seasons of the revived shows alongside David and previously Christopher Eccleston. It's unknown whether Chris will make an appearance in the upcoming feature-length adventure, but for now we should certainly be happy with this news to kick off the celebrations!

John Hurt will also be a part of the episode- John's roles in the worldwide entertainment industry have been numerous, from Alien to Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy, from V For Vendetta to Merlin, making him a truly magnificent scoop for this celebratory Special. We also know that theatre actor Ken Bones will play 'The General', and you can be sure that we'll learn more as the weeks progress through the new season and indeed towards the time of the anniversary celebrations.

Doctor Who returns tonight at 6.15pm on BBC1 with a new season of blockbuster adventures, and the Doctor Who 50th Anniversary Special will broadcast on BBC1, BBC HD, BBC 3D and in British cinemas on November 23rd as part of a wealth of celebrations.

Friday, 29 March 2013

RIP Richard Griffiths (1947-2013)

A brief obituary piece to celebrate a brilliant British icon.
We here at On-Screen are sad to report today that British actor Richard Griffiths has passed away. Richard was suffering from heart problems that required surgery, but from what reports have stated, issues after the surgery led to his passing. For those of you who don't know, Richard was perhaps most famous for playing Uncle Vernon Dursley in the Harry Potter film series between 2001 and 2011.

Richard's other iconic contributions to the British entertainment industry included Uncle Monty in Withnail And I, a leading role in the hit play The History Boys, King George II in Pirates Of The Caribbean: On Stranger Tides and Henry Crabbe in Pie In The Sky. For many young adult readers such as myself, some of these hit shows and films may have passed us by, yet Richard's influence on the strength of British actorial performances cannot be understated, and we only wish he could have had a chance to contribute even more than sixty-five glorious years to the industry.

We would like to pass our heavy condolences to the Griffiths family on this tragic day. Rest in peace, Richard- you'll never be forgotten.

April 2013: The Five Releases You Can't Miss

Iron Man is back, leading yet another killer month for the entertainment industry!
April has always been a strong time for the entertainment industry, and the month in 2013 is certainly no different in this respect. Contained in this list are a multitude of brilliant new releases that could well tip the balance of some of our Best Of 2013 Awards later in the year. Here's our guide to the hottest releases of April 2013, a Top 5 Most Anticipated Releases piece if you will...
5. XBOX 720 REVEAL EVENT- Yes, we are finally about to get a full official reveal of Microsoft's latest Xbox console from the company's head honchos this month! Rumour has it the hardware is either named 'Xbox 8' or simply 'Xbox', but either way we're sure to get some exciting exclusive software and a host of big highlights from the all-star conference...(Sunday 21st)
4. INJUSTICE: GODS AMONG US- From this month until August, the impending line-up of video games is significantly smaller than it was in March. Nevertheless, Injustice: Gods Among Us represents one major highlight in what's to come, featuring the DC Universe in array after a cataclysmic event and every hero and villain brawling it out in an attempt to save their homes from destruction! (Friday 19th)
3. GAME OF THRONES- By this time tomorrow, you'll have witnessed the very first episode of Game Of Thrones' third season of fantasy adventures. Well, the good news is that there's still nine more instalments of the series to come after that in weekly intervals, so you can expect plenty more dragons, White Walkers and raunchy action in the weeks ahead. (Monday 1st, 8th, 15th, 22nd and 29th)
2. DOCTOR WHO- Again, over the weekend you'll have witnessed the glorious season opener The Bells Of Saint John, which has thrust us back into Doctor Who mode with a bang! In the weeks ahead, we'll have an alien planet mystery story in The Rings Of Ahkaten, a submarine-under-siege thriller featuring none other than the Ice Warriors in Cold War, a gothic haunted house horror in Hide and an epic adventure tale in Journey To The Centre Of The TARDIS, all of which continuously build on the arcs of Clara, the Client and the grand spectacle that is to come for the 50th Anniversary...(Saturday 6th, 13th, 20th and 27th)
1. IRON MAN 3- At the top of the list could only go the first highlight film of 2013 in quite a while, and the first entry in the second phase of Avengers films no less. Iron Man 3 promises the world and looks set to give us just that, as Tony Stark is forced to face the horrific consequences of his actions when he goads the Mandarin into launching an all-out assault, only to discover that the Extremis virus looks set to put his whole life under threat! Our review of Iron Man 3 will likely be our last major film review until after On-Screen's only Summer Hiatus, so make sure you check it out! (Thursday 25th)

Doctor Who: Countdown To 50- Week Twelve

If there's one thing that can be said of Doctor Who throughout its fifty year history, it's that it's had its fair share of bizarre stories over that course of time. The Jon Pertwee era 1973 tale Carnival Of Monsters is one such example of a typically off-the-wall adventure for the show, mixing inertly human elements with more wacky alien costumes and concepts. There's plenty to love here, though- in fact, Carnival remains one of this writer's favourite classic Who adventures.

At the heart of the bizarre nature of this series of four episodes is undoubtedly Leslie Dwyer's Vorg. An overconfident money-grabber, Vorg brings along his Miniscope- a device which can trap whole locations, characters and creatures in a minimised world- to a planet full of alien creatures simple enough to be easily entertained. If any of this storyline sounds a little familiar, then you may recall that Vorg's son Vorgennson eventually trapped the Eleventh Doctor in his own Minimiser in Doctor Who Live: Here Come The Monsters! back in 2010! It's an innovative concept, though, and one which works particularly brilliantly in the Episode One cliffhanger when a seemingly giant hand plucks the TARDIS from the Doctor's grip.

Where Carnival falters a little in comparison to its innovative premise and well-rounded cast is undoubtedly in its special effects. The Drashigs certainly aren't the most impressive visual creations that the show has given us, and the alien 'cavemen' equivalent characters on the unnamed entertainment planet harken worryingly close to the stale alien stereotypes of the classic Star Trek series. Our favourite sci-fi show has generally done a great job of distinguishing itself from its rivals, but this is one of the few instances where the series designers seem to lack the budget to continue that distinction.

Nevertheless, Carnival Of Monsters is another brilliant Jon Pertwee adventure. The premise of this story is as innovative as Who gets, Jon Pertwee and Katy Manning particularly shine as the Third Doctor and Jo Grant respectively, and the ending carries an effective level of emotional gravitas for the endlessly trapped crew of the SS Bernice. Doctor Who has had its fair share of bizarre moments in the last fifty years, and no doubt it'll have plenty more to come in the next half-century; if that is the case, though, then future production teams could do well to cite Carnival Of Monsters as a rather glorious reference point.

Gears Of War: Judgement Review

Do People Can Fly take the Gears franchise where it's never been before?
Creating a fourth entry in a franchise after a hit trilogy has to be one of the toughest prospects in the entertainment industry- Halo 3: ODST, Pirates Of The Carribean: On Stranger Tides and the god-awful Indiana Jones And The Kingdom Of The Crystal Skull are all prime examples of that. People Can Fly were given a hefty challenge, then, with Gears Of War: Judgement to follow up Epic's grand trilogy of dazzling shooters- did they make the cut?

There's a genuine sense pervading the entirety of Judgement that this is a daring 'reboot' of sorts for the series. We've got a narrative told with plenty of innovation through its format, where Lieutenant Baird and Kilo Squad are placed on trial fourteen years before Gears Of War, sending players into plenty of flashback missions to help establish a verdict. Thanks to this storyline, there's also plenty less of the irksome macho-manliness of the original trilogy, creating a greater reason for the player to empathise with characters. Better yet, there's a 3-Star Ranking System present in each and every one of Judgement's various missions.

The masterful element of this arcade-like system is most certainly the Declassified mechanic. In each level, a glowing red skull icon will appear on the walls, and provide an option to mix up the action with a new scenario such as smoke grenades constantly clouding the player's vision or health refusing to regenerate. Players should definitely take up the challenge, as the variety and diversity it offers in terms of the shooter genre a whole gives Judgement a distinct advantage over its rivals. If People Can Fly are now to become a part of an annualised alternating video game franchise, like Call Of Duty, then they could do worse than to resurrect this game-changer in their next entry of Gears!

Aesthetically, Judgement doesn't do itself any injustice either. Admittedly the Xbox 360's visuals have pretty much been pushed to their limits now, yet the world and its characters still look great, offering bright potential for the development in graphical quality in the next-generation of consoles. The soundtrack is for the most part your typical action blockbuster setlist, but it does suit Judgement well nevertheless and at least provides compulsion as you're playing through the main campaign. These visual and audio elements combine to simply aid the game in being that much more of a well-rounded product.

Best of all, it will be extremely difficult for players to criticise or lament any lack of content on show here. Gears: Judgement features a meaty 10-12 hour campaign with plenty of range in its missions thanks to the Declassified options, a second mini-campaign taking place after the events of Gears Of War 3 and of course the hefty online component of old. The epilogue campaign Aftermath does sort of feel like a piece of Gears 3 DLC that was never released before, sharing more traits with Epic's trilogy, but you'll enjoy it over the 2-hour running time, even if the lack of Declassified missions robs it of some of its innovation. The multiplayer is typically fantastic for Gears, allowing fans the chance to play co-op, Overrun modes and more both offline and online.

This isn't quite the perfect game- the scenarios of the main campaign do start to wear a little thin in its final hour, and the Declassified missions can be seen as replacements for blockbuster setpieces- but fans and newcomers alike shouldn't notice those flaws too much. The biggest credit I can hand to Gears Of War: Judgement is undoubtedly this- whereas Gears 3 began to felt as if the Xbox-exclusive franchise might be starting to get overly predictable, this time around People Can Fly have breathed new life into the series just in time for the next-generation. Gears Of War: Judgement's marketing campaign has left a lot to be desired in terms of garnering attention, but trust me, if you miss out on this masterful reboot and refinement of the series formula, you'll be passing up the opportunity to experience one of 2013's most impressive games.

Thursday, 28 March 2013

Best Of Who Bonus: Top 5 Most Anticipated Episodes

Doctor Who returns in two days! The episodes we're more excited about...
Our Best Of Who Awards feature series will be continuing in mid-May. With Doctor Who's return just around the corner, though, we just thought that a round-up of the most exciting episodes of the pre-anniversary season would be worth your time. With that in mind, then, let's look ahead to Series Seven Part Two and reveal our Top 5 Most Anticipated Episodes...
5. THE BELLS OF SAINT JOHN- This Saturday's season opener looks to be a bold and spectacular premiere episode. As a daring urban thriller, Episode 1 will focus on the Doctor as he races to find Clara, only to have his investigation of her identity delayed by a Wi-Fi invasion of the Earth led by the villainous Miss Kizret. But just who is Kizret's mysterious client? (Saturday March 30th)
4. JOURNEY TO THE CENTRE OF THE TARDIS- It's bigger on the inside, but just what is in the TARDIS? The Invasion In Time once hinted at the rooms that lie in the depths of the Doctor's time ship, yet now we're going to discover the truth, when an intergalactic salvage team lands at the heart of the TARDIS and forces the Doctor and Clara to journey to the Eye Of Infinity to stop the ship's detonation! (Saturday April 27th)
3. NIGHTMARE IN SILVER- Neil Gaiman's The Doctor's Wife was an absolute smash hit with fans. It's no surprise, then, that the Coraline writer is back for another outing starring Life's Too Short's Warwick Davis and Trollied's Jason Watkins in an epic adventure that puts the fear back into a new breed of Cybermen in the distant future...(Saturday May 11th)
2. COLD WAR- The Ice Warriors are back! Mark Gatiss has penned a daring Cold War-set submarine horror story where the deadliest enemies from Peladon threaten to unleash a devestating nuclear war and destroy the planet Earth. This could be very well be the shock highlight of the pre-anniversary season in a big surprise. (Saturday April 13th)
1. FINALE- Steven Moffat's Doctor Who season finales have always been about as ambitious as you can get. This time around, when River Song returns with the deadly Whispermen and a funeral in her wake, the Doctor knows there will be trouble- but what he doesn't know is that his greatest secret is in jeaopardy, as the Silence return at the Fields Of Trenzalore to face the confrontation of the First Question, the oldest question in the universe...(Saturday May 18th)

Video Corner: Hobbits, Portals, Miserables & More

Discover what's wrong with The Hobbit and more in our latest weekly feature!
As per usual, we're bringing you our weekly round-up of the greatest and most hilarious YouTube videos right here. Without further ado, then, let's look at this weeks highlights, which include clips surrounding The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey, Portal, The Great Gatsby and Les Miserables...enjoy!
EVERYTHING WRONG WITH THE HOBBIT- As followers of On-Screen will know, I'm a massive fan of An Unexpected Journey. Nevertheless, I'm always all for a bit of tongue-in-cheek humour, and this four-minute video outlining the first film's flaws could well have you gasping for breath!
LES MISERABLES HONEST TRAILER- Another fantastic film in my opinion, Les Miserables was nevertheless always going to be subject to a lot of derailing given its genre. Take a look, then, at the best comic take on the film yet...
THE GREAT GATSBY TV SPOTS- The Summer Of Film will be packed with massive blockbusters, yet The Great Gatsby is certainly a drama adaptation that you will want to keep your eye on in the big season as well. Here we have two new exciting TV trailers with tidbits of cool new footage.
HOW PORTAL SHOULD HAVE ENDED- Every How It Should Have Ended video always carries its own dose of trademark hilarity. This new video taking the mick out of Portal's ending is equally effective, and most certainly deserves your attention!

Elementary Second Season Commissioned

Sherlock and Watson will return for more Stateside adventures later this year.
Despite a few teething problems in its early stages, Elementary has now become quite the US primetime hit- and today it's been commissioned for an entire second season of new cases. Consisting of twenty-three episodes, the second run will likely place more of a focus on Sebastian Moran (Vinnie Jones) and his overlord Moriarty, the latter of whom remains a faceless villain in the show's current incarnation. If you gave up on the series because of its Sherlock similarities, I'd recommend giving it a chance, as it's really developing into something very special! Elementary continues broadcasting its first season on Sky Living every Tuesday, while Season Two will broadcast from Autumn 2013.

More Game Of Thrones Future Details Revealed

The series' showrunner chats on the possibility of novel-to-show deadlines.
Game Of Thrones producer David Benioff has been chatting to Hitflix on the matter of what happens if the TV show catches up with or outruns George R.R. Martin's writing of the A Song Of Ice And Fire novels. Here's what he had to say: "We're not going to take a two-year hiatus to wait for the next novel. The little kids are growing older, the show's got momentum now, and the show must go on. We're just hopeful that it will all time out." It's an intriguing thought- could it be possible that the series will one day go off onto its own narrative tangent rather than follow the novels anymore? For now, Game Of Thrones returns to Sky Atlantic on Monday April 1st at 9pm.

Metal Gear Solid 5: The Phantom Pain Announced

Solid Snake is back for an epic new adventure in 2014...
Hot on the heels of EA's GDC Battlefield 4 reveal, Konami Studios have today announced the development of Metal Gear Solid 5: The Phantom Pain for release in the near future. Set nine years after the events of 2008's Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns Of The Patriots and 2013's Metal Gear Rising Revengeance, this new action adventure game will open with Solid Snake awaking from a coma and use groundbreaking Fox Engine technology. There's no word on a next-gen release yet, but that seems fairly assured, and we know that we'll get a prologue game in Metal Gear Solid: Ground Zeroes in the run-up to this new open-world title. Check out the first footage below; Metal Gear Solid 5: The Phantom Pain will likely ship on PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 in 2014.

New Grand Theft Auto V Screenshots Surface

Our newest look at Rockstar's open-world behemoth arrives!
We've had ourselves a pretty damn good month for video gaming in March thanks to the likes of Tomb Raider, Gears Of War: Judgement and BioShock Infinite. Nevertheless, the fun doesn't end there for 2013, as later in the year we'll be getting none other than Rockstar Studios' Grand Theft Auto V on our prized consoles. The development team have today released a series of new screenshots depicting actions such as dynamic weather effects, swimming underwater, base-jumping and lots more, and you can see it all below...Grand Theft Auto V retails on Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 on September 17th.

Wednesday, 27 March 2013

Sherlock News: New Regular Guest Star Announced

Discover the first woman on the scene for Sherlock's third season.
The BBC have today announced the name of a new guest star set to feature in the third season of Sherlock. Set to broadcast later this year, the new run will focus on the themes of 'Rat', 'Wedding' and 'Bow', as well as explaining just how Mr Holmes survived the deadly Reicenbach Fall in Season Two's finale. It's been revealed that Martin Freeman's wife Amanda Abbington will feature in the cast of the three new episodes. The production team haven't said who Amanda will play as of yet, but the BBC have teased that her character will "significantly impact upon the lives of John and Sherlock", leaving many fans to speculate that she will play John Watson's future wife Mary Morstan. Sherlock returns to BBC1 this Christmas.

The Wolverine Trailer Released

The X-Man with a plan is back in action!
20th Century Fox have today unveiled the first official theatrical teaser trailer for their new superhero movie The Wolverine. Set after the events of 2007's The Last Stand, this latest instalment in the X-Men movie franchise focuses on Wolverine in the aftermath of Jean Grey's death, when a figure from the past offers him a gift which Logan can't possibly refuse- yet a challenge which for Logan will also hold the truth behind immortality awaits. This first trailer really does seem to do the film justice as a massive action blockbuster with emotion within, so here's hoping this turns out to be something substantially stronger than 2009's Origins! Check out the trailer below...The Wolverine claws into cinemas worldwide on July 26th.

Video Corner: Doctor Who Special

With just three days to go, a Video Corner Special now based around the world's favourite science-fiction show...
We're on the brink of the first in eight new epic blockbuster adventures of Doctor Who this weekend, kicking off with The Bells Of Saint John this Saturday. To celebrate, here at the blog we've rounded up some of the best YouTube videos around surrounding Episode 1, the 50th Anniversary and miscellaneous highlight. Here's our guide to the 'Who's Who' of YouTube, a Best Of (if you will) Doctor Who as it currently stands:
THE BELLS OF SAINT JOHN PREQUEL- In case you missed it, here's the new Doctor Who mini-episode direct from the mind of Steven Moffat. A prelude to Bells, it focuses on the Doctor as he sits despondently in a playground, unable to find Clara Oswald.
THE BELLS OF SAINT JOHN TRAILER- Another video you may have narrowly missed, this BBC official trailer focuses exclusively on Bells. There's plenty of new footage here for what promises to be an incredible mid-season premiere!
THE DOCTOR CHANGES CLIP- A brand new video straight from Bells, this short clip from the new episode explains how the Doctor ends up changing costume into the new purple jacket and bow tie...
DEMON'S RUN: TWO DAYS LATER- Ever wonder how Strax came back from the dead? The answer is not what you might think, as this short new extra scene from Steven Moffat hilariously explains how the ex-Sontaran Commander ends up joining the Paternaster Gang in Victorian London!
THE FIRST QUESTION 50TH ANNIVERSARY TRAILER- Now we're entering a trio of brilliant fan-made 50th Anniversary trailers. First up, this video looks at the idea of the First Question ('Doctor Who?') posed in The Wedding Of River Song...
HE IS RETURNING 50TH ANNIVERSARY TRAILER- This next video is more of a short but snappy grand compilation of recent highlights of Doctor Who that meshes together brilliant Harry Potter music with a great directorial angle on some classic moments.

THE DOCTOR'S SECRET 50TH ANNIVERSARY TRAILER- The Doctor's greatest secret is in jeaporady. That's what Steven Moffat has teased about his season finale to the new run of Who, and here's a fantastic 50th Anniversary trailer that plays on the anticipation of fans...

New Kick-Ass 2 Trailer Unveiled

Hit-Girl takes centre stage in this new preview of the Summer's biggest superhero film!
In amongst the ranks of Iron Man 3, The Great Gatsby, Star Trek Into Darkness, Fast & Furious 6, The Hangover Part III, Man Of Steel, Despicable Me 2 and The Wolverine for the big Summer Of Film 2013 releases is Kick-Ass 2, Universal Studios' adaptation of the hit graphic novel follow-up to the smash 2010 comic and film. Today, we've had a brand new trailer arrive for the movie based around Hit Girl, and you can see that below. Already, the sequel's looking like one of the hottest prospects of 2013's entertainment roster, and we'd be surprised if it doesn't turn out to be a bonafida Film Of The Year contender. Kick-Ass 2 bursts into cinemas worldwide on August 16th.

Battlefield 4 Announced

You guessed it- the world's second biggest FPS behemoth is coming back this year...
Electronic Arts have today announced the development of Battlefield 4 for release later this year. Developed by series creators DICE, this new instalment takes place after the events of 2011's Battlefield 3 storyline and is set to pack a more emotive and expansive narrative experience than ever before. The announcement came as part of an exclusive event at the Games Developers' Conference 2013, along with a 17-minute gameplay video which you can see below. The focus right now was primarily on single-player action, but you can bet your bottom trigger that DICE have a hefty online multiplayer component to match Call Of Duty: Ghosts when it comes to an almighty FPS battle later this year. There's no word yet on a next-gen release, other than the WiiU not being a console it will be released on, but in all honesty, we'd be amazed if both Battlefield 4 and Ghosts weren't launch titles for the Xbox and the PlayStation 4! Battlefield 4 will ship for Xbox 360, PlayStation 3 and PC this Autumn.

Tuesday, 26 March 2013

Game Of Thrones: Valar Morghulis Review

Chaos reigns in our final review of Sky Atlantic's Season Two re-run...
Following up on the rather epic and grandiose masterpiece that was Blackwater couldn't have been a easy prospect for the production team behind Game Of Thrones Season Two. Nevertheless, for the most part the season finale Valar Morghulis has an admirable stab at matching the heights of its predecessor, even if it does miss the mark on occasion.

It's great to see Danerys back in action after a two-week break from her Quarthian antics, and sure enough the last Stormborn's encounter in the House Of The Undying is worth the wait. The CGI effects used to power Danerys' return to form along with her developing dragons were spectacular, truly bringing viewers into the moment as it became clear that when these fearsome creatures are unleashed, Westeros will never be the same again. Perhaps it's something of a shame that the original novel A Clash Of King's rather visceral depiction of flashbacks to key moments in Danaerys' life- e.g. Viserys' golden crown; Drogo's death- were excluded in favour of a cameo hallucination from Khal Drogo, yet that sequence did a strong job of replacing the hefty content.

Over in King's Landing, we had a few more significant plot developments too- Tyrion has been replaced by his father as the King's hand, Littlefinger has offered Sansa a way back to Winterfell and Joffrey has found himself a new bride to gain power. It would have been even better to see Tywin finally interact with Cersei and Tyrion beyond his brief acquirement of the role of the Hand in a ceremony, but those conversations are likely due to come in the early episodes of Season Three. Certainly, with the kingdom fully back under control, Joffrey will no doubt revert to his tyrannical and cowardly campaigns, something which the rest of the Lannisters may well disagree with in the days ahead.

That these weren't even all of the episode's progressions of story arcs shows how much was going on in Valar Morghulis. Jon Snow was left alone with Ingrid to meet the King of the North, Robb Stark went against his mother's wishes and broke his vow of marraige to a stately woman, Theon was taken home by his guards as Winterfell burned and Master Lewin died, Varys took hold of the brothel and gave a rather reverent speech of gratitude to Tyrion and the White Walkers were back on the loose as the season's climactic cliffhanger. I would argue that since we've been waiting twenty entire episodes since our brief glimpse of the Walkers in the Season One premiere to see them strut their stuff, the cliffhanger was more of a relief than the massive shock that Danerys' dragon reveal was last season, but fans were no doubt on the edge of their seats all the same.

Given all of the major step forwards in plot arcs, and indeed the stunning direction of it all, it would almost seem churlish to pick out any shortcomings in this dramatic finale. However, there were one or two gripes for this reviewer- once again, juggling so many narrative plotlines so rapidly worked a little to the episode's detriment, and the role of Jaquin was more irritatingly ambiguous than it was effective in the end. In spite of those flaws, Game Of Thrones: Valar Morghulis was a fantastic final episode for Season Two, and one whose implications in Season Three next week and beyond should be infinite!

Monday, 25 March 2013

Assassin's Creed IV Gameplay Video Arrives

The legend begins this Autumn- see the first gameplay demo right now!
Ubisoft Montreal have today unveiled the first full gameplay trailer for Assassin's Creed IV: Black Flag. Set in the 18th Century Carribean, this latest instalment in the hit video game franchises focuses on pirate Assassin Edward Kenway as he attempts to juggle allegiances to his Creed and his crew with the ultimate changes for America and the world at large still on the horizon. This first preview video features ship-to-ship battles, exotic locations to roam, vicious cutlass combat, swimming in the depths of the Pacific and plenty more highlights, all of which should hopefully combine to create a true Game Of The Year contender later this year. Assassin's Creed IV will ship on Xbox 360, Xbox (that's the name we're currently hearing for the new console, simply 'Xbox'), PlayStation 3, PlayStation 4, WiiU and PC on November 1st.

Arrow: The Huntress Returns Review

Can the seventeenth episode of the season keep up the ante?
Something which I've often been able to credit Arrow with is that in particular, its mid-season return episodes have been consistently impressive. Sadly, The Huntress Returns doesn't quite continue that illustrious trend in such high-flying fashion. Whereas past premiere episodes in the run have been innovative and noteworthy in their plot developments, this seventeenth episode of Season One feels more like a filler outing than anything.

I'll start with the positive angle, though. Jessica De Gouw was a likeable actress in her role as Helena (aka the Huntress) earlier this season in her dedicated two-parter, so it was at least great to see her back in action as a relatively empathetic daughter with a vendetta against her loathsome father. On top of that, Doctor Who's very own River Song, Ms Alex Kingston, burst back into town in quite a big way, although to some extent her character's arc this week was largely explaining the rather sudden cliffhanger that she received at the end of the past run earlier in March. These two strong cast portrayals worked well alongside those of Stephen Amell (Oliver), Colin Donnell (Tommy) and David Ramsey (Diggle), as ever a flexible main cast capable of tackling a variety of adaptive storylines.

However, this time around there were just a few too many shortcomings to forgive and forget in lieu of a 4* rating or above. First and foremost, there was quite simply too much going on this week in terms of the various plot arcs. I've often said that what lets down hit US dramas such as Game Of Thrones and Elementary on some occasions is their stubbornness in attempting to shoehorn as many different strands of an overarching narrative into a single weekly instalment, and that's the case here to a large extent. It's difficult to keep track of everything that's happening with Oliver and his cop crush, Oliver and Helena, Oliver and Tommy, Thea and Roy Harper and the Lance family at once, not to mention the various flashbacks to the Green Arrow's time on that ever-mysterious island for five years.

Worse still, far from any of the various narrative strands having any meaningful resolution to open more doors for deeper plot exploration, each of them was left on an awkward tangent. The increasingly irksome Huntress can still pop up into future seasons at any time that a filler episode is required thanks to her convenient getaway, cop McKenna could potentially crop up as a distraction in the love triangle of Oliver-Tommy-Laurel late in Season Two, the Lance family might as well have made no progress whatsoever with finding Sarah and Moira is no closer to keeping Malcolm off her track. This reviewer would have had a far more positive outlook on the episode as a whole had one or two of these arcs at the very least developed towards a climax, yet that couldn't have been further from the case here.

We're left, then, with a mid-season premiere episode that struggles to understand its own identity, the path it wishes to take. Far from maintaining a focus on some of the core elements of the hefty Arrow lore the season's writers have crafted for themselves, the production team instead chose to sporadically alternate between all of these arcs at once, causing a worrying sense of disconnection to pervade this instalment. Arrow: The Huntress Returns certainly isn't the worst episode this pretty strong Season One has provided viewers with, but it's far from the best, and it's certainly one of the weakest outings we've seen for some time. With just six episodes remaining until the season finale hit, we're left hoping that the writers can pick up the pace and episode quality in time to make Season Two a must-see prospect.

The Wolverine Promotional Poster Unveiled

Hugh Jackman's fearsome X-Man returns for an X3 sequel outing this Summer.
20th Century Fox have today unveiled the official first theatrical promotional poster for their upcoming film release The Wolverine. Set after the events of 2007's X-Men 3: The Last Stand, this much-anticipated standalone superhero film focuses on Hugh Jackman's Wolverine as he is whisked off to Japan on a mission of revenge and remembrance. When all seems lost after most of his friends were killed in the devastating final battle between the X-Men and the Brotherhood Of Mutants and the Phoenix, where can Logan go next? That's the question that director James Mangold and his production team are hoping to answer here, taking Wolverine from his darkest hour into a new light that may kick-start Jackman's strand of the franchise again. You can check out the poster below, plus a new trailer for the film is set for release on Wednesday. The Wolverine claws into cinemas worldwide on July 25th.

The Hobbit: The Desolation Of Smaug Teasers Debut

Our first preview of this year's greatest fantasy movie has landed!
What with Iron Man 3, Star Trek Into Darkness, Man Of Steel, The Wolverine and Kick-Ass 2 all headlining what promises to be one of the best Summer Of Film seasons yet, you'd be forgiven for forgetting that the next entry in the The Hobbit film franchise is on the way later in 2013 too. Titled The Desolation Of Smaug, this second instalment follows Bilbo, Gandalf and the company of dwarves as they travel through spider-infested forests, deadly Elvish lairs and into the Lonely Mountain itself as they race to discover their lost treasure and steal it from the claws of the evil dragon Smaug.

The sequel boasts a sensational cast including Martin Freeman, Ian McKellen, Richard Armitage, Benedict Cumberbatch, Stephen Fry, Sylvester McCoy, Billy Connolly, Orlando Bloom, Christopher Lee and Cate Blanchett, following up on the tale of An Unexpected Journey with rather epic new adventures that finally includes the iconic Thief In The Night scene between Bilbo (Freeman) and Smaug (Cumberbatch). Today, we've had a few new teasers for the film unveiled via an exclusive online blog conducted by Peter Jackson for DVD and Blu-Ray owners of the first entry. Here's our round-up of what was revealed...

  • LAKETOWN- Bilbo and the dwarves arrive in Laketown a little way into this second film, and here they meet the eccentric Master Of Laketown, played by none other than Stephen Fry. Fry has promised a rather hilarious take on the character, teasing that the Master Of Laketown may not only be in The Desolation Of Smaug, but 2014's Christmas release There And Back Again as well.
  • MIRKWOOD- Mirkwood is the famed home of the Elves pre-The Lord Of The Rings. Here, there's a powerful elf leader who wants revenge on Thorin Oakenshield in particular for a betrayal long past, and Orlando Bloom's Legolas will feature in dialogue conversations too. Don't think this will be the last time we see the Elf race, though- as Hobbit fans will know, their role in the third film's Battle Of Five Armies should be of paramount importance!
  • RIVENDELL- We'll be making another trip back to Rivendell on top of all that. Don't expect Bilbo and the gang to appear at the HQ of the White Council, however- it's more likely that Gandalf will discuss further just what the threat of the Necromancer (aka Sauron, here played by Benedict Cumberbatch in a dual-role with Smaug) implies for Middle-Earth if he is not vanquished. And speaking of that ambiguous adversary...
  • TOMBS & NECROMANCY- The role of the Necromancer will be expanded from his brief cameo in An Unexpected Journey this time around. Fans didn't get to glimpse much concrete footage from Desolation- a full trailer is being readied to release with an unnamed Summer movie- but they did at least see Gandalf and Sylvester McCoy's Radagast The Brown investigate the original tomb of Sauron, only to discover his grave empty and originally empty tombs now filled with corpses. It seems that the power of this enemy is increasing, and his role within the next two films should be very exciting indeed.
  • THE CONFRONTATION- Finally, director Peter Jackson confirmed that his favourite part of Desolation has to be the confrontation of Sherlock stars Martin Freeman and Benedict Cumberbatch as Bilbo and Smaug respectively in Erebor. Bilbo is on a mission to either slay the dragon or bring the dwarves as much of their gold as possible using his magical ring, yet it isn't long before he's discovered, and a game of riddles even more deadly than that of the one with Gollum ensues. Make no mistake, this confrontation should be the highlight of the second instalment, and while we're not sure whether Smaug will meet his end here or in the opening of Part Three (wouldn't it be a brilliant cliffhanger if the Battle Of Five Armies beckoned just before the credits), this should be yet another enticing element in its own right to bring audiences back!
The Hobbit: The Desolation Of Smaug sneaks into cinemas worldwide on December 13th. The Hobbit: A Unexpected Journey hits UK DVD and Blu-Ray retailers on Monday April 8th.

Our Girl Review

Our take on BBC1's latest one-off Sunday drama...
It's very easy when so many dramas these days fall flat to enter the trap of writing off BBC1 singular dramas such as Our Girl. Indeed, this reviewer's expectations of this modern-day one-off outing starring Lacey Turner weren't exactly high when it broadcast yesterday evening. Nevertheless, what we received instead turned out to be a personal and compelling 90 minute insight into life in the Armed Forces.

At first, there was plenty of potential for Our Girl to be nothing more than a rags-to-'riches' style programme that utilized many of the same assets seen in other dramas starring the likes of Turner. This wasn't the case at all, however: while the first 15-20 minutes of the piece were fairly familiar in presenting a conflicted family (featuring unexpected pleasant cameos from Derek's Kerry Godliman), once we began to glimpse Molly's transformation into a soldier of sorts, it all became much more relevant. Contrasting this teenage girl's life when enlisted in the harsh world of the British Army to her growing sense of alienation from the home and society she thought she knew, writer Tony Grounds certainly grounded the storyline in a definitive setting representative of the personal conflict many of those who've come from poor backgrounds and then fought must feel today.

However, this reviewer did eventually come to wonder whether Our Girl's biggest strength later developed into something more detrimental. While the contrast between Molly Dawes' personal and military life worked well at first in highlighting the rather shallow nature of a consumer-focused and benefit-driven society such as that of (parts of) North London, during the second half it couldn't help but seem as if an illogical distraction from the opportunity to further explore the impact life in the Armed Forces can have on an individual. There were times where the pseudo-patriotism of the piece bordered on mirroring the content of the Army Ads we see in cinema screenings these days, yet there would have been ample chance to dissipate this lingering sense of disconnection between the viewer and Molly by taking things in training a little slower and removing the focus from the family side of things. Indeed, this reviewer can't help but speculate as to whether Molly actually being the woman who bit the proverbial bullet in the episode's climax would have had a more substantial impact than the ambiguous ending that was used, clearly intended to emphasize the emotional strain on the unawares Dawes family at home.

I certainly wouldn't want to leave you with any strongly negative perceptions around Our Girl, though. This is by far one of the best one-off BBC1 dramas I've seen from the channel in a fair while, and although there was perhaps an overbearing sentimentality to it all, writer Grounds did achieve the clear goal of broadening our understanding of those who join the Armed Forces with vigour and aplomb. However, the final word must go to Lacey Turner, an as-ever brilliant actress who conveyed with ease Molly's personal conflict and as a result made Our Girl a little joy to watch.

DWNP- Doctor Who: Vengeance Of The Stones Review

Our verdict on the third entry in the Destiny Of The Doctor audio range...
Big Finish and AudioGo have constructed a rather elaborate 50th Anniversary project with Destiny Of The Doctor, a range of monthly audios that in each respective month leading up to November focus on one of the Eleven Doctors in chronological order. There's crossover between the classic and modern eras of the show too, something which makes the Third Doctor tale of March Vengeance Of The Stones particularly enticing. Over at Doctor Who News Page, we're providing you with monthly reviews of this range, so naturally, our verdict on Vengeance and its cast are over on the site right now. Here's our link to the 3* review: http://reviews.doctorwhonews.net/2013/03/destiny-of-doctor-vengeance-of-stones.html

Riddick Teaser Trailer Released

Vin Diesel returns for more violent and bloody action this Autumn!
Universal Studios have this week unveiled the first theatrical teaser trailer for Riddick. This promotional reveal comes amidst a wave of new trailers for films heading our way in the Summer and Autumn, including Kick-Ass 2 and Star Trek Into Darkness last week and The Wolverine and Percy Jackson: Sea Of Monsters set to be previewed in the next few days. This third instalment in the hit blockbuster franchise features Diesel's protagonist trapped on a deadly alien planet, where his only hope of escape is also the worst threat imaginable: an armada of mercenary spaceships containing armies of his greatest foes. While we're not going to be entering any kind of Film Of The Year territory here, for series veterans this should be at least a welcome return to form for a franchise last glimpsed in 2004. See the trailer below; Riddick launches into cinemas worldwide on September 6th.

AITAS- In The Flesh: Episode Two Review

The definitive verdict from yours truly on In The Flesh's second instalment.
The BBC certainly seem to be hinging a lot of their hopes for their BBC3 channel with their new supernatural drama In The Flesh. Is their huge marketing campaign paying off? You can discover the truth on the matter going on Episode Two right now with my review over at Adventures In Time And Space. This penultimate outing focused on the past relationship of Kieren and Rick and its implications within their newly discovered PDS status in 2013. Here's the link to the review: http://reviews.newsintimeandspace.net/2013/03/review-in-the-flesh-episode-2-240313230117.html

Best Of Who Awards: Top 15 Greatest Modern Stories

Our Best Of Who Awards feature series reaches its massive 'mid-season' climax as I reveal my the greatest Who adventures...
It's within reaching distance- Doctor Who is now a mere five days away from returning proper to our screens with its new 50th Anniversary season. With that in mind, our Best Of Who Awards feature series will enter a hiatus period whilst Who is back on air, with the feature articles resuming once the season has concluded broadcasting in May. Today, though, as a grand mid-season send-off, we're looking back at the best Whoniverse adventures presented to viewers since the show's return in 2005. Here's our guide to the Top 15 Greatest Modern Stories (So Far):
15. THE SNOWMEN (2012)- This cracking Christmas Special reintroduced Jenna-Louise Coleman as new companion Clara Oswald. In Victorian London, the Doctor's battle against the sinister Doctor Simeon, old enemy the Great Intelligence and killer snowmen was simply vintage Who, a spectacular display of Steven Moffat's writing talents to this day.
14. THE TIME OF ANGELS/FLESH AND STONE (2010)- Another Moffat tale, this one from much earlier in the Matt Smith era. Combine the deepening mystery of River Song with a return from the terrifying Weeping Angels and the powerful Cracks In Time, and you've got one of the show's greatest two-parters yet which constantly innovates in the midst of its stunning cliffhanger.
13. THE DOCTOR'S WIFE (2011)- Neil Gaiman and Doctor Who always seemed like a perfect match, and this Series Six adventure was definitive proof. The Doctor's Wife was a part-whimsical, part-tearful and part-bonkers romp for the Doctor, Amy and Rory, testing their limits like never before when the TARDIS became human and a living asteroid attempted to manifest itself in the real universe...
12. VINCENT AND THE DOCTOR (2010)- If ever there was a truly emotional episode of Who that warranted a place on this list, though, it would have to be this stunning Series Five instalment from Richard Curtis. Tony Curran shone brightly as Vincent Van Gogh, Bill Nighy had a fantastic cameo and the use of Athlete's Chances in the amazingly constructed time-travelling final scenes was beautifully done.
11. MIDNIGHT (2008)- One-off Doctor Who adventures in the show's modern era have often been amongst the most inventive stories. Indeed, Russell T Davies' Series Four story Midnight was one such brilliant example, bringing the Doctor to the brink of sheer defeat when a terrifying creature took control of a resident on his bus and the passengers started to lose their wits. Stunning stuff!
10. BLINK (2007)- It's safe to say that no one saw this one coming. Another brilliant one-off episode, Blink's biggest hit was Steven Moffat's introducing the horror of the Weeping Angels to the world. Better yet, Carey Mulligan made her popular actorial debut here, spawning a whole wealth of potential roles for the actress including Daisy in this year's The Great Gatsby.
9. THE ANGELS TAKE MANHATTAN (2012)- Everyone had high hopes for the final adventure of the Ponds, yet it would have been tough to anticipate just how much of a success Angels was. There was River Song, a living Statue of Liberty, New York in 2012 and 1930, terrifying new incarnations of the Weeping Angels and so much more, but ultimately it was the satisfying climax to the Pond era that really made Steven Moffat's Series Seven mid-season finale incredible.
8. THE PANDORICA OPENS/THE BIG BANG (2010)- Bringing Series Five to a big conclusion must have seemed like a challenging prospect for Steven Moffat. Nevertheless, particularly with the opening instalment, the Moff raised the stakes for the TARDIS crew dramatically, reintroducing Rory and River as the universe began to reach its end in what turned out to be the perfect climax to their first season.
7. A CHRISTMAS CAROL (2010)- Modern day Christmas Specials of Doctor Who have often varied quite considerably in terms of quality. A Christmas Carol is one of the glorious exceptions to this rule. Michael Gambon owns his role as Kazran, and Matt Smith and Katherine Jenkins are both on fine form in what proved to be a musical, masterful time-shifting festive epic...
6. THE GIRL WHO WAITED (2011)- Another time-warped adventure for the Doctor and his team, The Girl Who Waited defied all the laws of time and yet succeeded marvellously in doing so. Nick Hurran's direction, Karen Gillan's heartbreaking portrayal of two different Amy's, the stunning visual effects and so much more ensured that this Series Six adventure will never be forgotten.
5. ASYLUM OF THE DALEKS (2012)- He's a sly one, old Steven Moffat. It would have been simple enough for Asylum Of The Daleks to be a bland Dalek opener to Series Seven, yet not only did the Moff bring the fear back into Skaro's most infamous inhabitants, it introduced Jenna-Louise Coleman as a part of the Oswald legacy in the most spectacular fashion imaginable. Exterminate!
4. THE GOD COMPLEX (2011)- Toby Whithouse has had a fair few cracking episodes on Doctor Who, but undoubtedly The God Complex has to rank as his best. Sure, David Walliams is hilarious as Gibbis, but the true heart of this Series Six story are the concepts of fear and faith, both exemplified to glorious dramatic effect by one of Britain's most talented writers.
3. THE WATERS OF MARS (2009)- David Tennant's final four adventures had their missteps- The Next Doctor and Planet Of The Dead are fairly average, and the cactus people almost managed to ruin The End Of Time- yet there's one shining highlight among the 2009 Specials. The Waters Of Mars is a morally challenging, time-shifting Doctor Who epic that puts most of Who to absolute shame, showcasing Tennant's absolute mastery of the role of the Tenth Doctor like never before!
2. HUMAN NATURE/THE FAMILY OF BLOOD (2007)- Another absolutely fantastic Tennant story, this time from Series Three and carrying a thrilling premise- what if the Doctor became human? David Tennant, Freema Agyeman, Jessica Hynes and Harry Lloyd worked brilliantly in tandem to create an inevitably human and thus totally empathetic piece of Who magic.
1. THE IMPOSSIBLE ASTRONAUT/DAY OF THE MOON (2011)- For me, though, it had to be the Series Six premiere two-parter which scooped up the gong. In The Impossible Astronaut and Day Of The Moon, we have two Doctor Who masterpieces where not Steven Moffat nor the cast nor the production team are afraid to do something recklessly different in the hope of ensuring the best possible debut of their second full season since the 2010 change of hands. I'm a big fan of America episodes anyway, but it was the audacity of the Doctor's death arc, the stunning Melody regeneration cliffhanger, the expansion of River's storyline and the Nixon homages that made it all such a joy to watch. Quite simply, if ever I need even a slight reminder as to why Doctor Who remains perhaps the greatest shot on television to date, then The Impossible Astronaut/Day Of The Moon is easily my first definitive port of call!
SPECIAL MENTIONS GO TO...Dalek, The Impossible Planet/The Satan Pit, Utopia, Turn Left, The Stolen Earth/Journey's End, The End Of Time, The Eleventh Hour, The Vampires Of Venice, The Lodger, A Good Man Goes To War and A Town Called Mercy, all of which are most certainly fab Who stories in their own right, but were just eluded a place on the Top 15.

Sunday, 24 March 2013

Opinion: Summer- A Five Game Survival Guide

Our top picks for the video games that will make this Summer a (bearable) hit!
As per usual, where the movie industry booms with the Summer Of Film in the next season, the realm of video gaming is going to be left somewhat for want in the Summer months. All's not lost, though, because in this writer's opinion there are still a few cracking releases on their way to stores between now and July. Once we reach August, the big days of the Autumn Of Gaming get underway with titles such as Disney Infinity, Grand Theft Auto V, Assassin's Creed IV: Black Flag, Call Of Duty: Ghosts and Watch Dogs for starters coming in the end of the year, but until then, avid gamers will want to keep a watch on these five releases...
BIOSHOCK- What, I hear you ask? Blasphemy! How can a video game that's not due for release in the next few months make this list? Well, quite frankly, in the next seven days you'll have the chance to realise BioShock: Infinite is one of 2013's greatest games, but you can't do better than learning where the whole franchise started. BioShock revolutioned the FPS genre back in 2007, and having only played it for the first time myself recently, I can confirm that its literary-rivalling narrative and diverse innovative gameplay demand your time no matter what period of the year it is. (Out Now)
INJUSTICE: GODS AMONG US- In essence, April's only big video gaming release, Injustice: Gods Among Us is looking like an incredibly hot prospect. Its storyline focuses on a DC Universe in absolute anarchy, where Superman has accidentally killed Lois Lane and his own child, Batman has sent The Joker into total insanity and Metropolis stands on the brink of ruin. The solution? Choose your favourite DC heroes and take the battle to the streets and skies in what could be 2013's best fighter! (April 19th)
STAR TREK- Just thirteen days before Star Trek Into Darkness launches into the UK, this tie-in game from Namco Bandai bridges the events of the 2009 reboot with this Summer's enticing follow-up. With the Gorn returning to the realms of the ordinary universe, the crew of the Enterprise must fight for the safety of their entire galaxy via innovative shooter and vehicular gameplay...(April 26th)
DEADPOOL- We haven't got a concrete date for this one, yet Marvel's latest adaptation of the Deadpool graphic novel saga into video game form looks like an absolute must-have. Nolan North's version of the character is just as much of a wise-cracker and fourth wall-breaker as the comic book character ever has been, and the shooting and platforming mechanics look a bunch of fun to play with. (June TBC)
THE LAST OF US- Perhaps Sony's biggest exclusive of 2013 before Infamous: Second Son and Killzone: Shadow Fall arrive on the PlayStation 4, The Last Of Us is the latest instalment from hit Uncharted developer Naughty Dog. Perhaps it could be a Game Of The Year contender, perhaps not- either way, discovering the truth on the matter should be one of the most exhilarating experiences of this year in gaming. (June 14th)