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Tuesday, 28 May 2013

June 2013: The 5 Releases You Can't Miss

Our guide to one of the most impactful months of entertainment in 2013 is right here...
We've had a rather busy start to the Summer of Film over the past month or so, what with Iron Man 3, Star Trek Into Darkness, The Great Gatsby, Fast Six and The Hangover Part III all launching their way into cinemas. The best is yet to come, though, as June is about to begin showing us- and the best part? Movies are by no means the only exciting releases which the four weeks ahead have to offer.

Indeed, with the biggest annual video gaming event of the year just around the corner, a sensational new Marvel title on its way, a trip back to one of Disney's finest animated franchises and a sensational DVD celebration of a certain 50th Anniversary, June is a month that cannot be skipped under any circumstance. Make no mistake, once we return proper from our hiatus, On-Screen will be the only resource you need in order to work out where to spend your hard-earned cash. Without further ado, then, let's look at June 2013's Top 5 Most Anticipated Releases...
5. MONSTERS' UNIVERSITY- Disney Pixar are bouncing back onto the scene of animated films after the hot success of their sister team's Wreck-It Ralph earlier this year. For Pixar, Monster's Inc. was one of their defining hours in the genre, so it's little wonder that nine years later, the animation team are returning to one of their most acclaimed fictitious universes for more adventures. Get ready to witness Mike and Sully like you've never seen them before, as in the hilarious prequel Monsters' University we'll learn quite what makes them such a scare force to be reckoned with! (Wednesday 19th)
4. DOCTOR WHO: REGENERATION DVD SET- How do you celebrate the history of a televisual science-fiction drama that has been running for half a century? That was the question facing BBC Worldwide, and to answer it they've brought us this spectacular compilation of every final story of all of the past Ten Doctors. That's right- fans can now see for themselves the various regenerations everyone's favourite Time Lord has undergone, as The Tenth Planet, The War Games, Planet of the Spiders, Logopolis, The Caves of Androzani, Time and the Rani, Doctor Who: The Movie, Bad Wolf/The Parting of the Ways and The End of Time are brought together for the first time via a stunning hardback book-case that truly celebrates 50 Years of Doctor Who. (Monday 24th)
3. DEADPOOL- We've checked this one, and double checked it to boot...and yes, there really is a new video game coming to our shores this month! Jokes aside, Deadpool marks Marvel's latest attempt to aspire to the same heights of video gaming legends as DC did when they struck gold with the Arkham series in 2009, so this writer wishes the team at High Moon Studios all the best of luck. Indeed, if Transformers: Fall of Cybertron is anything to go by, we could be in for something absolutely spectacular here...(Friday 28th)
2. ELECTRONIC ENTERTAINMENT EXPO 2013- With Microsoft having played their hand by announcing the Xbox One, all the cards are laid down and ready to be dealt for the biggest video gaming live event of 2013. You can expect next-generation details, software line-ups, exclusives, upcoming projects and so much more to be revealed by Microsoft and Sony as a new era of gaming launches, so E3 will not be an event to miss, and you can be sure we'll have all the coverage you need post-hiatus. (Monday 10th-Thursday 13th)
1. MAN OF STEEL- Perhaps the most exciting revelation of this coming month, though, will be whether Zack Snyder can pull off a seemingly impossible feat. Man Of Steel represents the ultimate investment of faith from Warner Brothers and DC Studios in Snyder, as he potentially attempts to lay the first foundations in a whole new Justice League film franchise. Can it be done? If there's one man you wouldn't want to bet against, it's Snyder, and with a cast featuring Henry Cavill, Amy Adams, Russell Crowe, Michael Shannon, Kevin Costner and Laurence Fishborne, this second Summer Of Film superhero entry could be the one to top them all...(Friday 14th)
PLUS: Make sure to look out for other big releases such as a duo of Emma Watson films in This Is The End and The Bling Ring, a Jon Pertwee-era classic novel in Doctor Who: Harvest of Time, an almighty PlayStation 3 exclusive in The Last Of Us and a dazzling take on a Shakespearean legend from Joss Whedon in Much Ado About Nothing, as well as the blockbuster finale of Game Of Thrones Season Three!

Monday, 27 May 2013

Who News: New 50th Anniversary Books Announced

BBC Books bring us two cracking hardback celebrations of the 50th Anniversary this Autumn!
BBC Books have this week announced two exclusive hardback book releases set to celebrate the 50th Anniversary of Doctor Who this Autumn. Joining the New Series Adventures trio of novels released in April, the monthly eBooks by famed teen authors releasing throughout 2013 and the audio Destiny of the Doctor range, these latest releases should truly solidify the sense of nostalgia and event reverence in literary form.

First up is The Doctor: His Lives and Times, a release that looks at each era of the show throughout its half-century in the public eye. This release will mostly be immersed in the universe of the show rather than the behind-the-scenes side of things, while featuring contributions from Colin Baker, John and Carole Barrowman, Tim Berners-Lee, Nicholas Briggs, Jenna-Louise Coleman, Paul Cornell, Russell T Davies, Peter Davison, Terrance Dicks, Neil Gaiman, Mark Gatiss, Waris Hussein, Bonnie Langford, Paul McGann, Lalla Ward, Marcus Wilson, Steven Moffat and Matt Smith.

After that, we've got Doctor Who: The Vault. Now this one is focused on what goes on behind the cameras, featuring iconic props, costumes, sets and objects from throughout the history of the BBC1 programme. We'll move from pre-production on the original 1963 run right through to Season Seven Part Two, the 50th Anniversary Spring run of 2013, in rapid yet nostalgic succession while exploring what happened to the show between the years of 1990 and 2004 too. Make no mistake, this is not a release to be missed...

The Doctor: His Lives and Times is published on September 26th, while Doctor Who: The Vault lands in stores everywhere on October 24th. The covers for both releases can be seen below!

Arrow: Episodes 21-23 Review Roundup

Our catch up reviews of the final three episodes of Arrow's first season!
When On-Screen returns proper on June 19th, we'll be bringing you a lot of reviews of releases you may have missed during this intense revision and exam period. For now, though, we're going to kick preliminary proceedings off by bringing you up to speed with our definitive verdicts on the final three episodes of Arrow Season One. Without further ado, then, here are our three reviews:

  • THE UNDERTAKING (4.5/5)- This third-to-last episode blended the current story arc of the show involving the mysterious Undertaking with some effective flashbacks to recent conversations between Oliver's dad and Malcolm Merlyn before the former father figure's demise. John Barrowman in particular was on top form here, bringing across with venemous realism the retribution of a man whose life has been filled with painful regret. There was a genuine sense of direct pacing and anticipation mounting massively for the finale here, which is about as strong an accolade as The Undertaking ever needed.
  • DARKNESS ON THE EDGE OF TOWN (4/5)- Whereas the previous episode very effectively mounted tension for the dark days ahead, Darkness perhaps stumbled a little in treading water until the final outing of this season. All the same, while the island flashbacks were needlessly distracting and the progression of the Oliver-Laurel-Tommy love triangle was handled in a manner a little too akin to a soap opera, there were nevertheless enough intriguing developments here to still gain our interest for the action-packed finale ahead.
  • SACRIFICE (4.5/5)- And what a finale Sacrifice was. Despite a somewhat too open overall 'ending' (i.e. a massive cliffhanger, perhaps too open-ended), this climactic episode was brimming with pure action and emotion, managing to pay off the loyalty of long-term fans while also still appealing to the interests of relative newcomers to the show. Arrow is clearly on a high at this point in time, and it only remains to be seen with Tommy's death just where the action will head next season!
Arrow Season Two will commence broadcasting on Sky1 this Autumn, and you can be sure already that we'll be bringing you, dear reader, reviews of all the latest episodes in the future.

Alex Rider: Russian Roulette Announced

Witness the story behind Alex Rider's first mission- Yassen is back.
Anthony Horowitz and Philomel Books have announced the publication of Alex Rider: Russian Roulette for release later this year. Set before the events of the hit 2000 teen fiction novel Stormbreaker, this tenth instalment in the beloved British franchise will focus on the assassin character of Yassen in the build-up to the events of the original storyline, a man who will be given one deadly initial mission: kill Alex Rider. I'm not entirely sure just yet how much more mileage can be achieved from a further spy outing from Horowitz at this stage, and quite frankly a new series after this and The Power Of Five couldn't hurt that budding Brit author. All the same, I'll watch this project with eager intent and provide a full review of the novel later this year.

Alex Rider: Russian Roulette deals its way into bookstores worldwide on October 1st.

In The Flesh Second Season Commissioned

BBC Three bring us more supernatural drama from the minds behind Being Human next Spring...
The BBC have announced the commissioning of In The Flesh for an extended second season of episodes. Eclipsing the first run's three episodes with around five-six instalments, this new series will focus on Kieren as he continues to deal with the abuse he's suffering in Roartan and the appearance of daring new characters onto the scene. The first series had its shortcomings, but come the finale there was tonnes of potential for televisual greatness on show, so with any luck Season Two will hit all of the highs it deserves!

In The Flesh returns to BBC Three in Spring 2014.

Star Wars: Rebels First Season Commissioned

The Rebel Alliance will have their day on Disney XD next year...
Walt Disney Television and LucasFilm have announced the production of Star Wars: Rebels for broadcast on Disney XD. A new animated series from the minds behind Star Wars Episode VII, this show will replace The Clone Wars and focus on the Rebel Alliance as they build their ranks and take on their first missions in the years between Revenge Of The Sith and A New Hope. It's certainly an intriguing little premise for what we imagine will essentially amount to a kids' show, and should easily start to build the anticipation for the full live-action film saga's return in the next year for the younger members of the fanbase.

Star Wars: Rebels will commence broadcasting on Disney XD in 2014.

24: Live Another Day Commissioned

Jack Bauer Will Return!
Fox Television Productions have announced the commissioning of a ninth season of 24 for broadcast in the near future. Titled Live Another Day, this new twelve-episode run will once again star Kiefer Sutherland in its lead role as Jack Bauer, picking up from the dramatic events of Season Eight (2010) and taking Bauer on his most dangerous and life-threatening mission yet. Quite whether 24 can still provide surprises to its audience as a thirteen-year old action thriller television franchise is up to debate for this writer, yet clearly the market's still there for this show and so there's perhaps more life in the storylines yet.

24: Live Another Day will broadcast on Fox and an unannounced UK network starting from May 2014.

Rules Of Engagement Cancelled

The CBS TV comedy series will not return for an eighth season...
CBS Studios have announced that Rules Of Engagement has not been commissioned for an eighth season. The news comes amidst the show reaching its 100th episode with Season Seven this Spring, so could leave fans of the long-running comedy series a little disheartened to not see Jeff, Timmy and the gang back for more comedic antics later this year. All the same, we can be absolutely sure that CBS will continue to place a focus on the comedy genre and with any luck reinvigorate the genre once again with new commissions this Autumn.

For all the latest news on TV commissions and cancellations, keep it On-Screen in the weeks ahead...

Sunday, 26 May 2013

New The Wolverine Trailer Released

A second full trailer for the latest X-Men film has burst onto our screens.
20th Century Fox have unveiled their second full theatrical trailer for their upcoming superhero thriller The Wolverine. Taking place after the events of X-Men: The Last Stand, this new instalment will see Logan summoned to Japan alone, where he is offered the gift of mortality after his various losses in the Battle of the Phoenix. The latest trailer isn't 100% brimming with new footage, yet there are some great shots to be found of Silver Samurai and Wolverine's other new foes in the preview below.

The Wolverine claws into cinemas across the UK on July 26th.

Star Wars Episode VII UK Filming Confirmed

The Star Wars galaxy isn't so far, far away anymore for UK fans!
Disney and LucasFilm have announced this month that a portion of filming in the production of Star Wars Episode VII will take place within the UK. While specific production locations for this ambitious revival of George Lucas' iconic franchise have yet to be revealed, that we know some of the movie's shooting will take place in our home region via director JJ Abrams is exciting news enough right now. Little is known on the film's actual plot just yet, but with Mark Hamill, Harrison Ford and Carrie Fisher all-but-confirmed for returns, we at the very least know for sure that there'll be plenty of homages to the past on show this time around.

Star Wars Episode VII is set for release in cinemas worldwide in May 2015, with shooting set to commence in the UK in Spring 2014.

Big Hero 6 Announced

Marvel Studios venture into the animated realms with Disney for the first time next year!
Marvel Studios have announced the production of a new animated film, Big Hero 6. Created in collaboration with Walt Disney Studios, this new movie will adapt a little known anime sector of the Marvel comic-book universe into a new world separate to the Marvel Cinematic Universe (aka the Avengers franchise). It's a risky venture for the studio, but there's plenty of potential for younger kids to be engrossed into the superhero film genre and subsequently find interest from this into the Avengers movies. All the same, we'll be excited to see how the situation progresses! You'll catch the first full teaser for the latest Marvel blockbuster outing below.

Big Hero 6 breaks into cinemas worldwide on November 7th, 2014, joining Captain America: The Winter Soldier, The Amazing Spider-Man 2, X-Men: Days Of Future Past and Guardians Of The Galaxy in what promises to be a truly groundbreaking year for the genre.

The Great Gatsby Review

Baz Luhrmann injects the Summer Of Film with the glitz and glamour of the Jazz Age- but can he recapture F. Scott Fitzgerald's masterpiece?
To some, the concept of the perfect film adaptation of a novel feels just as out of reach as that same green light which "recedes from our grasp, year by year", as Nick Carraway relates to us in the final moments of the novel (and now subsequently its film rendition) The Great Gatsby. Indeed, while Baz Luhrmann's modern reinterpretation of F.Scott Fitzgerald's quintessential 1920s American tale has undoubtedly been one of the most anticipated adaptations of recent times, there's equally been an air of trepidation as to whether the production team could possibly match such a literary classic. So, did Warner Brothers succeed in their lofty ambitions, or will Gatsby's 2013 rendition be left in the gutter at the Valley of Ashes, forever watched over by Doctor T.J. Eckleburg in shame of what could have been?

Certainly, if there's one definitive credit that can be thrust upon Luhrmann, it's that in his direction of Gatsby, he proves without fail his exceptional grasp of the Jazz Age and its social cultures. Whether it's in the near-giddy fast-paced sweeping shots of New York that will take viewers from the glamorous skyline to the hustled streets in a matter of seconds via a swift CGI camera swoop which feels seamless, or indeed the intelligent use of renowned tracks such as Empire State of Mind and original pieces from the likes of Florence and the Machine, Will.i.am, Jay Z, Lana Del Ray and other hip-hop/alternative artists, there's an incredible sense of realistic atmosphere in this reproduction of 1920s America the likes of which we're unlikely to see in such vivid fashion again. As Carraway, our narrator now placed in a sanatorium context of post-depression alcoholism, relates his feeling "enchanted and repelled simultaneously by the varieties of life" upon his first trip into the Big Apple, we're given a broad look at those "varieties" across the city's apartments while intricately melding footage with Tom's semi-iconic attack on Myrtle for mentioning his wife's name. It's this blend of intimacy and glitz which ultimately makes the film as a whole such a joy.

No respectable novel-to-film adaptation could survive without a memorable main cast to lead its way, though, and in this respect Gatsby remains an unequivocally strong contender. Leonardo DiCaprio was a divisive choice for that titular role, especially following in the esteemed footsteps of Robert Redford, yet to this reviewer Leo embodies perfectly all of the key traits of hope, mystery and pure idealism found in that elusive protagonist, sharing a chemistry with Tobey Maguire's Carraway that won't soon be forgotten. Carey Mulligan has a brilliant attempt at capturing the random magic of Daisy, putting a perhaps more realistic spin on someone who even in written form seemed like something of a disparate construct. Beyond those stars, the actors and actresses behind Myrtle, Tom (Joel Edgerton shines as the semi-antagonist), George, Mayor Wolfsheim and others all contribute brilliantly to the sense of depth and substance Fitzgerald and thus Luhrmann bestow upon each of their key players.

Nevertheless, it would be irrational and dishonest to call The Great Gatsby the perfect film- much as its protagonist strives for a titular greatness that sadly is already beyond his grasp from the outset, so too does Luhrmann's 2013 reinvention attempt some notes which don't quite work out fully in its favour. For instance, while the incorporation of hip-hop and alternative music tracks (the Jazz of the 21st Century, as Luhrmann so elegantly puts it) into the world of booming industry and glamour for the most part is a success, this reviewer couldn't help but wish this incorporation had been fully utilised in the movie's latter moments rather than left by the wayside in favour of more dramatic and thus linear lyric-less melodies. Given that the brilliant CD soundtrack is littered with iconic new renditions of classic 2000s songs, it doesn't seem too much to ask that such greats take a little more precedence in a work of film that's so clearly bent on innovating from the norm.

Indeed, whereas visually and aurally this sense of innovation works fully in Luhrmann's favour rather than to his detriment, occasionally the same cannot be said of his narrative tweaks. I have no doubt that any budding literary motion picture adaptation needs to 'trim the excess' of the novelised work in order to enable a suitable running time, yet in focusing on key aspects of the text such as Nick's disillusionment with the world of prosperity around him and Gatsby's unwavering intents, the director arguably leaves behind one or two equally significant themes. Those fans of Fitzgerald's classic looking for its latest rendition to fully explore the concepts of 'old' and 'new' money, Jordan's role within Nick's increasing repulsion by those "inexhuastible varieties of life" or indeed a culmination to Gatsby's family arc will be left wanting in these regards. That's not to say that adding those elements of the narrative back into this version would have created something flawless, as such an attribute is virtually impossible for any film, yet these struck me as perhaps the most notable shortcomings holding the piece back from potential further greatness.

When it comes down to it, so much of the beauty of film derives from the fact that it as an entertainment genre is so capable of inspiring such a wide range of opinions. In few other instances will this fact be so true as with The Great Gatsby, a piece which has naturally proved divisive with reviewers already due to their own personal experiences with the text and their comparisons with Luhrmann's other acclaimed adaptations such as Moulin Rouge and Romeo & Juliet. I can only offer my own individual take on the matter, then, but to me this version of Gatsby represents a defining breakthrough within the realms of literary motion picture adaptations, even if it stumbles along the way. Contextual themes may well be lost in the transition, yet this only works to the movie's detriment to a minor extent for a fan of the novel, and certainly shouldn't deter the newcomer viewers. Indeed, that on the way out of the auditorium, this reviewer heard several comments along the lines of "Well, I'll have to read the book now, then!" speaks wonders for The Great Gatsby's potential renewed influence, and could just imply that the perfect film adaptation concept isn't "receding from our grasp" after all.

Saturday, 25 May 2013

Need For Speed: Rivals Announced

Criterion Games bounce back with their next annual take on the Need For Speed franchise.
EA Games and Criterion Games have announced the development of Need For Speed: Rivals for release on various consoles in the near future. The latest entry in their hit video games racing franchise, Rivals is thought to be Criterion's fully-fledged spiritual successor to their acclaimed 2010 epic Hot Pursuit, reviving a sense of adrenaline in both its narrative and core race modes.

We don't know tonnes just yet on what the new gameplay features will entail, but rumour has it that EA want to match up to the success of off-road efforts such as DIRT and Forza Horizon, perhaps influencing the direction the main campaign will take. Whatever their approach, you can bet that this new sequel will have just as much appeal as Call Of Duty: Ghosts and Assassin's Creed IV: Black Flag do this year for their respective fanbases.

Need For Speed: Rivals retails on Xbox One, Xbox 360, PlayStation 4, PlayStation 3, Nintendo WiiU and PC on November 19th.

New Batman: Arkham Origins Trailer Released

The Caped Crusader returns for an Origins adventure in this CGI battle with Deathstroke and Deadshot!
Warner Brothers Montreal have unveiled the first full teaser trailer for Batman: Arkham Origins. Set a decade before the events of Rocksteady's hit 2009 video game Batman: Arkham Asylum, this new instalment will feature a younger Dark Knight facing off against his foes in his formative days, with appearances from the likes of Black Mask, Deathstroke, Deadshot, the Joker, Bane and the Penguin already confirmed to sate fan appetites. This first CGI trailer (below) gives us a taste of the kind of high-octane action we can expect to come across in the finished product, making the five-month wait we now have until the game's release all the more challenging.

Batman: Arkham Origins ships on Xbox 360, PlayStation 3 and Nintendo WiiU on October 25th.

Xbox One: The Announcements Guide

The next-generation is here- our full definitive roundup of all of the big announcements around Xbox One!
It's safe to say that we've been waiting for a good while to see what Microsoft had in store for their new next-generation console. While opinions are a little divided on the company's first Xbox One conference, I myself thought it to be fantastic. Right here, we've got a round-up of all of the big announcements fresh from the horse's proverbial mouth...
  • THE NAME- So why 'Xbox One'? In essence, the name derives from Microsoft wanting their console to be the 'one' source for entertainment, combining television, movies and of course video gaming into one all-encompassing experience. Sure, it seems a little odd right now as a name, but so did 'Xbox 360', so feel comforted that it'll all feel rather natural very soon.
  • THE TECH- The Xbox One boasts a 8GB Core Processing Unit to bring it completely at equal odds with the PlayStation 4, as well as a Blu-Ray Player to finally ensure that games don't take up more than one disc. This console will also ship with a new and improved integrated Kinect that promises to revolutionise motion and voice control while remaining an optional addition for developers- for instance, Call Of Duty: Ghosts will feature voice squad commands. Throw on top of all this a controller that stays true to the 360's core controller strengths while adding increased trigger sensitivity, and you've got one hell of a piece of hardware at your fingertips.
  • THE GAMES- As you'd expect, although not all of them took place at the conference, we've had tons of video games announced for Xbox One! Here's the full list as it currently stands: Assassin's Creed IV: Black Flag; Battlefield 4; Call Of Duty: Ghosts; Destiny; Dying Light; FIFA 14; Forza Motorsport 5; Madden 25; NBA 14; Need For Speed: Rivals; Quantum Break; Ryse; Thief; EA Sports UFC; Watch Dogs; Wolfenstein: The New Order; Dragon Age III: Inquisition; The Evil Within; The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt; Rainbow Six: Patriots; Homefront 2 and many, many more...
  • HALO GOES TV- In one of the Xbox One's most surprising announcements at its May 21st conference, Microsoft revealed Halo: The Television Series. Penned and produced by Steven Spielberg, this ambitious new project from Microsoft Entertainment and 343 Industries should expand the series' lore beyond its current video game Reclaimer Saga further than ever before. Expect to hear more in the months ahead.
  • THE UNANSWERED QUESTIONS- Right now, it seems that backwards compatability won't be possible, so whether Microsoft intend to span things with the likes of Grand Theft Auto V either digitally or over one or two generations remains to be seen. Also, issues such as whether the console frequently needs online connections and/or ditches the preowned games system are still to be dealt with, so expect to here more on these rumoured developments at E3 2013.
Xbox One will retail in UK stores this Winter for an unconfirmed price, and you'll hear lots more from Microsoft via their E3 2013 conference on June 10th (our coverage coming post-hiatus on June 19th!).

Nintendo Direct Conference (May 17th): The Announcements Guide

Our definitive round up of all the big announcements from Nintendo last week!
What with their impending absence from the major E3 2013 showcases, it's vital that Nintendo now give their Nintendo Direct news announcements conferences everything to sustain their fans' interests. Indeed, with this in mind, we'll look at the rather news-packed May 17th conference, which brought with it a host of unexpected video game announcements. Here's our full round-up of all the big news reveals:

  • SONIC: LOST WORLD ANNOUNCED- Kicking off a three-game exclusivity deal between SEGA and Nintendo (on WiiU and 3DS), Sonic: Lost World will be the latest 3D entry in the hit iconic platforming franchise. We'll be getting more details on characters and gameplay features next week, yet for now it seems that Nintendo will helm the future of everyone's favourite hedgehog for at the very least the next year. Sonic: Lost World retails on Nintendo WiiU and Nintendo 3DS this Autumn.
  • YAZUKA HD WiiU EDITION ANNOUNCED- Although the Yazuka games were originally exclusive to the realms of PlayStation, now Nintendo fans will be able to play the original PS2 titles in glorious HD on WiiU. This double collection of Japanese shooters comes to retail for Nintendo WiiU this Autumn.
  • MARIO & SONIC AT THE SOCHI 2014 WINTER OLYMPIC GAMES- Once again, two of video gaming's most iconic mascots will return to mark an iconic sporting event. Yes, in the second part of Nintendo and SEGA's exclusivity deal, the WiiU GamePad will be integrated like never before into epic winter sporting experiences. Mario & Sonic At The Sochi 2014 Winter Olympic Games blasts into retail for Nintendo WiiU and Nintendo 3DS in 2014.
  • PIKMIN 3 RELEASE DATE CONFIRMED- After months of waiting, Nintendo fans now know for sure when they can get the much-anticipated platformer Pikmin 3 in their hands. Could it be the WiiU's first 'killer app'? Possibly, although given the rather cult status of the franchise as a whole, we'll have to wait and see to know for sure. Pikmin 3 ships for Nintendo WiiU in the UK on July 26th.
  • NEW SUPER LUIGI U RETAIL RELEASE CONFIRMED- On top of releasing New Super Luigi U as a fully fledged expansion to New Super Mario Bros U, Nintendo have announced that the DLC will come as a retail package as well as the digital release. There'll be no sign of the original levels in there, with a slightly reduced price, yet there'll be Luigi content aplenty in what Nintendo is dubbing the 'Year of Luigi'. New Super Luigi U ships exclusively on Nintendo WiiU on July 26th.
Nintendo have confirmed that a fully-fledged WiiU E3 Nintendo Direct conference will broadcast on June 11th, so make sure to check out On-Screen when we return proper on June 19th to know more...

Scribblenauts Unmasked: A DC Comics Adventure Announced

The word-busting Nintendo DS franchise returns with a POW-packed adventure...
Warner Brothers Games have announced the development of Scribblenauts Unmasked: A DC Comics Adventure for release later this year. For those uninitiated, Scribblenauts is a rather cracking little platforming franchise that deals with players having to use their vocabulary to create solutions to devilishly difficult problems in an animated world. This new edition will add characters from the DC Comics universe such as Batman, Superman, the Flash and other Justice League heroes along with a zesty storyline that should reignite the nostalgia of major comic-book fans. Coupled with LEGO Marvel Superheroes, this duo of games should certainly fulfil any video game fan's wishes in 2013...

Scribblenauts Unmasked: A DC Comics Adventure retails on Nintendo WiiU, Nintendo 3DS and PC this Autumn.

Gran Turismo 6 Announced

Sony bring back their ultimate racing franchise for the PS3's final hour!
Sony Computer Entertainment have announced the development of Gran Turismo 6 for release later this year. The latest instalment in their hit racing video gaming franchise, this new entry will boast over 77 cars and 33 tracks, the latter setlist including the iconic Silverstone Circuit in the UK. There'll be no next-generation release this time around, but you can bet that this edition of the acclaimed series will push current console hardware to its absolute limits!

Gran Turismo 6 will retail exclusively for PlayStation 3 this Winter.

Friday, 24 May 2013

Doctor Who: The Name Of The Doctor Review

His. Secret. Revealed...Our. Definitive. Review.
Here we are, then- the final instalment of the seventh season of Doctor Who since its revival in 2005. Season Seven has been quite a run, boasting Daleks, dinosaurs, the Wild West, cube invasions, Weeping Angels, venomous Snowmen, Wi-Fi incursions, planetary sing-songs, Ice Warriors, TARDIS explorations, haunted houses, Victorian horrors and the Cybermen, yet there’s something about its finale, The Name Of The Doctor, that brings a genuine sense of nostalgia and most importantly, closure.

In terms of the former element, the rapid appearances of all of the Eleven Doctors so far in Steven Moffat’s daring opening sequence is something of a fan-fest. Clearly, the 50th Anniversary Special is in very safe hands going by the level of nostalgia and satisfaction provided by Clara’s romp through the timeline of everyone’s favourite time traveller. It has naturally been noted that one or two of the recut classic series scenes melded together old and new footage more effectively than others, but on the whole it was difficult to discredit Steven for opening his 50th Anniversary adventures with a bang.

Of course, if the positive aspects of the episode ended there, we could have called Name a colossal disappointment. Thankfully, that wasn't the case, with this finale being one that was full of memorable moments. From Matt Smith’s beautiful descent into tears at the mention of the Fields of Trenzalore, a place which through Dorium’s prophecies he now recognises as his future (?) tomb, to the brilliant humour of the Paternoster Gang (Strax’s “I think I've got him in a grapple!” had this reviewer in fits of laughter), there were few limits to the extent of the quality of this concluding epic instalment.

It’s impossible to deal with Name in any review without tackling its rather game-changing final scenes. One of the episode’s few notable flaws was that Richard E Grant was no more impressive as the Great Intelligence than he was in The Snowmen, instead remaining a slightly pantomime-esque and wooden foe for the Doctor to face off against. Also, the Whispermen weren't exactly the next ‘iconic’ Who monsters from the Moff. However, John Hurt’s shock appearance at the episode’s end was a truly impactful surprise, especially if implications of his Doctor being taken from a time between the Eighth and Ninth incarnations are to be believed.

Could it be that Trenzalore is in fact the ‘tomb’ of this semi-alternate Doctor, so that the death-place of the Thirteenth Doctor has yet to be revealed? We’ll see, but the implications of the Doctor’s ‘greatest secret’ have all the same been delivered upon in full force here, resolving almost three years of a prolonged and intelligent narrative arc. This is where that latter element of closure comes in- we see why ‘silence must fall’ when the Question is asked both in the Doctor’s refusal to reveal a universal threat by unlocking his tomb, and indeed by the stars going out once the Question has been answered. Similarly, it seemed as if the Doctor’s name itself was a rather rudimentary secret to reveal, so that it’s what the knowledge of the name literally unlocks that is so dangerous is a masterful turn of events on Moffat’s part to be sure.

So it’s been a rather incredible season of Doctor Who- for some, the fall of the Ponds arc was more concise and effective than the disparate Clara arc, yet overall The Name Of The Doctor managed to tie together the various strands of the fourteen-episode run into a gripping, game-changing Who science-fiction thriller that successfully weaved nods to the past together with allusions to what’s to come. Matt Smith and Jenna-Louise Coleman remain vital assets of success to the show, while Alex Kingston and the majority of the supporting cast (Grant and the rather irksome kids aside) bring spectacular standalone performances of their own on a consistent basis. No episode of Who is perfect, yet The Name Of The Doctor is one of those almighty adventures which eclipses its minor shortcomings to become something truly special.

300: Rise Of An Empire Delayed

Yet another setback has been confirmed for the much-anticipated fantasy prequel from Warner Brothers.
Warner Brothers have confirmed that their new fantasy Spartan film sequel 300: Rise Of An Empire will skip into cinemas a little later than originally expected. The follow-up runs in parallel to the first 300 movie, focusing more on how Xerxes came to power and what eventually rallied him against Leonidus and his merry band of warriors. It’s tough to know whether to expect any kind of greatness out of this one, but with a release slot now more akin to Warner’s successful GI Joe: Retaliation, perhaps there’s at least a chance of strong box office sales.

300: Rise Of An Empire will now release in cinemas worldwide on March 7th, 2014.

Dawn Of The Planet Of The Apes Synopsis Released

The first textual details on 2014's hottest fantasy film have landed...
20th Century Fox recently provided the world with their first textual glimpse of their new fantasy film sequel Dawn Of The Planet Of The Apes in the form of its first official plot synopsis. Now we’re back (briefly) from our hiatus, we thought we’d belatedly share it with you in case you missed it first time! Here’s the synopsis: “A growing nation of genetically evolved apes led by Caesar is threatened by a band of human survivors of the devastating virus unleashed a decade earlier. They reach a fragile peace, but it proves short-lived, as both sides are brought to the brink of a war that will determine who will emerge as Earth’s dominant species.”

Now, given that this prequel franchise is meant to set up the overarching storyline of the classic Planet Of The Apes movies, it feels fairly safe to assume that said ‘dominant’ species will eventually turn out to be our primate predecessors. Nevertheless, with 2011’s Rise Of The Planet Of The Apes having earned our Film Of The Year award at the time, there’s rightly plenty of expectation on Matt Reeves’ production team to deliver in what could well be one of the greatest films of the near future.

Dawn Of The Planet Of The Apes roars into cinemas worldwide on May 23rd, 2014.

New The World's End Trailers Released

More previews for this year's hottest British cult comedy arrive!
Universal Pictures have unveiled the first full teaser trailer and theatrical trailer for the upcoming comedy film The World’s End. Brought to us by the same team who created Shaun Of The Dead and Hot Fuzz, this new collaboration from Simon Pegg, Nick Frost and Edgar Wright rounds off that fabled ‘Cornetto Trilogy’, featuring Pegg and Frost’s latest characters attempting to tackle twelve infamous pubs and pints within twelve hours, only to discover a looming apocalypse at the fabled ‘World’s End’ brothel!

There’s not a tonne of plot details in these first previews (below), but the trademark humour of the franchise is well and truly intact here. It will most certainly be interesting for film fans to watch how a low-budget, subtler comedy such as this fares in a Summer full of blockbuster comedies such as The Hangover Part III and Despicable Me 2, yet in this writer’s opinion there’s a strong chance of success for Pegg and Frost nevertheless.

The World’s End stumbles drunkenly into cinemas nationwide on July 19th.

Agents Of SHIELD First Season Commissioned

Our dream comes true- Joss Whedon expands the Marvel Cinematic Universe onto television screens this Autumn!
ABC Studios have announced the commissioning of Marvel Cinematic Universe television drama series Marvel’s Agents Of SHIELD for its first full season of episodes. Set after the events of 2012’s hit film Avengers Assemble, the show will follow Agent Phil Coulson as he assembles an intrepid team within the ranks of SHIELD to deal with the supernatural and the extraterrestrial menaces that have begun plaguing Earth ever since Thor opened up travel across the Nine Realms.

Right now, it’s difficult to know exactly where the series will fit in terms of the chronology of the Avengers universe beyond the fact that everything takes place after the Battle of New York. The relevance of that timeline? It means that Coulson is alive and so will have some explaining to do both for his team and indeed for the World’s Greatest Heroes who Nick Fury claimed ‘needed the push’. No matter what the explanation, the idea that the show could help bridge upcoming Avengers films such as Thor: The Dark World and Captain America: The Winter Solider is a hugely exciting prospect for series fans.

Marvel’s Agents Of SHIELD blasts onto television screens worldwide this Autumn. You’ll see the first full trailer for the season below.

Doctor Who: Nightmare In Silver Review

Neil Gaiman returns to the world of Who for the resurrection of the Cybermen- can he succeed? Our take on the Spring run's penultimate adventure...
Make no make, expectations can lead to bittersweet results. In the case of Doctor Who, there were few episodes in Season Seven with such expectations bestowed upon them as Nightmare In Silver, Neil Gaiman’s second standalone tale after 2011’s hit The Doctor’s Wife. You’ll no doubt have noticed a significant level of negativity surrounding this Cyber-adventure, yet for this reviewer there was still a lot more to like than there was to criticize, in a thrilling romp which successfully brings the Cybermen back to their rightful Cyber-throne. (And yes, we did wonder if we could get the term ‘Cyber’ into that paragraph any more times than we already had!)

As obvious as it may seem, Doctor Who’s Spring 50th Anniversary run was undoubtedly defined by its performances from the main and supporting cast alike. Indeed, in Nightmare we have a stunning dual-Doctor performance from Matt Smith, an assured portrayal of Clara that seems to allude towards what the companion will get up to post-2013 without an ‘impossible’ mystery to solve. Better yet, Warwick Davis and Trollied’s Jason Watkins both gave thoroughly compelling turns as their whimsical misfit characters who fitted well into Gaiman’s usual band of ‘patchwork’ recruits.

Another key element of success this time around was the area where indeed success was warranted: the Cybermen. Far from the hulking steel megamoths that have plagued the show ever since 2006’s Season Two and turned these classic foes to farce, we got a stunning new depiction of these deadly adversaries that truly reinstalled a sense of power and invulnerability to their race. Considering that the only way the Doctor and the Emperor could put a stop to the re-rise of these Mondasian foes was to destroy an entire planet, it leaves the question as to how on Earth the Time Lord can hope to best his arch-foes should they ever return to Earth, which is a grossly exciting contemplation if ever there was one.

There were one or two loose elements where the quality dropped below Gaiman’s awe-inspiring Season Six adventure The Doctor’s Wife, though. First up, whereas for the majority the supporting cast of each episode has helped massively in their success, only Davis and Watkins shine here, with Clara’s two foster-children bordering on a Fear Her level of irritance, Tamsin Outwaithe’s renegade commander little more than a stunted plot device and the remainder of the Punishment Platoon offering little in the way of memorable performances. Also, it would have been nice to see the Cybermen get a chance to properly state their intent of universal upgrading and domination, as well as an ending that had a more heavy influence on the events to come in The Name Of The Doctor. While for the most part the ‘fourteen standalone blockbusters’ approach has worked superbly in terms of variety and compelling viewing, equally in some instances such as here and The Power Of Three it did seem to rob certain storylines of a degree of substance that perhaps one or two two-part episodes could have catered for better.

Do we let the weight of expectation override Neil Gaiman’s second Who outing, then? Nope- instead, we appreciate Nightmare In Silver as a strong penultimate instalment in the Spring 50th Anniversary run. It’s not quite the silver gem that The Doctor’s Wife was, lacking in terms of a well-rounded supporting cast and also seeming to struggle to redefine one or two sets in Cardiff that have been reused on a couple of instances here and in the show’s various spin-offs. All the same, in terms of reintroducing the Cybermen within the space of 45 minutes and reigniting our passion for those heartless foes of the Time Lord fifty years on, Neil Gaiman has still done a great job with Doctor Who: Nightmare In Silver, proving that expectations aren’t everything when it comes to a ‘sequel’ adventure.

Total War: Rome II Release Date Announced

Can this ambitious strategy epic redefine its gaming genre?
SEGA Games have confirmed the release date for their upcoming strategy historical video game Total War: Rome II. Set to the backdrop of the realms of Ancient Rome, this much-anticipated sequel to a PS2 classic boasts one of the most ambitious strategy storylines of recent times, providing its players with full control of an entire armada as they storm into the fields of war. Certainly, it won’t be a fitting game for every player, but for those willing to dedicate a substantial number of hours into their strategic play, there really could be no better product to look out for this Autumn. 

Total War: Rome II retails on PC on September 3rd.

Wolfenstein: The New Order Announced

An unexpected development, as Bethesda bring us a new entry in a forgotten video game franchise!
Bethesda Game Studios have announced the development of Wolfenstein: The New Order for release on next-generation consoles in the near future. Taking place in an alternate universe to that of its franchise predecessors, The New Order focuses on a world left in chaos as the Nazis win World War Two, and is developed by the little-known team of MachineGames.

It would be easy to see this at first as a rather ambitious juncture in terms of Bethesda’s publishing of the product. Nevertheless, Bethesda clearly had faith in Arkane Games with the release of Dishonored last Autumn, and considering that that particular title won our Game Of The Year 2012 award, their faith is unlikely to be misplaced here either. Here’s hoping that we get a similarly spectacular new product courtesy of Bethesda’s finest come the end of the year.

Wolfenstein: The New Order retails for Xbox One, Xbox 360, PlayStation 4, PlayStation 3 and PC in Winter 2013.

EA Games Star Wars License Announced

LucasArts are dead, but the Star Wars legacy lives on in video games through the guidance of Electronic Arts...
Amidst a host of rather groundbreaking game announcements in the past few weeks, EA Games have confirmed to the world that they will be handling the Star Wars video game license from this point onwards. Sadly, that means the promising next-generation project Star Wars 1313 has probably been scrapped, along with the alleged Battlefront III prequel First Assault, yet on the plus side with DICE, BioWare and Visceral all confirmed as developers on new projects in a galaxy far, far away, it can hardly be all negative news.

What may come as a surprise, though, is that despite the onslaught of new Star Wars films kicking off in 2015, EA aren’t necessarily in a huge hurry to produce licensed titles of this ilk. Indeed, perhaps following in the wake of Warner Brothers’ hit Batman Arkham franchise, we’ll see EA take their time with their new projects. We've had it confirmed that no new Star Wars games will be with us before March 2013, but as a negative impact for Nintendo gamers, confirmation has also come that with the WiiU’s failure to sell, it’s looking unlikely the new Wars titles will come to that hardware. Nevertheless, it seems we have plenty of new Lucas content to eagerly await in the years ahead!

The EA Games partnership with Lucasfilm on licensed Star Wars products has already commenced, with future titles in the hit franchise expected to be teased during and beyond E3 2013.

The Sims 4 Announced

File:Logo of The Sims 4.svgEA bring us their latest take on the wider world of video gaming strategy in 2014!
EA Games has announced the development of The Sims 4 for release on video games consoles in the near future. The fourth instalment in the award-winning social strategy management franchise, this latest entry will apparently “celebrate the heart and soul of the Sims themselves”, focusing primarily on the single-player experience while equally offering players the chance to share their created content with the wider world. No doubt EA want to avoid the online ruckus that SimCity caused earlier this year, so in this case their decision to go solo for the game’s main campaign makes complete sense.

The Sims 4 will retail on PC and Mac hardware in 2014.

Doctor Who: The Crimson Horror Review

Getting down and dirty with Diana Rigg, Rachael Stirling and Victorian menaces- it's our review of the sixth episode of the 50th Anniversary Spring run!
Every season of every television drama must inevitability have one Achilles heel, one ‘weak link’ amongst its roster. What’s most impressive, then, about Doctor Who’s seventh season is that its weakest episode is still a great romp in itself. The Crimson Horror has its flaws, and yet it’s still traditional fun Who through and through, with Mark Gatiss still managing to follow up his earlier effort Cold War in a mostly effective manner. With that in mind, there’s still more than enough on offer here to love.

It was only natural that fans worried about the third return of the Paternoster Gang after A Good Man Goes To War and The Snowmen- would they inject a little too much comedy into the show’s interior oft-dark workings? Thankfully, that didn’t turn out to be the case, with Neve McIntosh, Catrin Stewart and Dan Starkey all holding their own both in terms of dramatic and comic value. Indeed, there’s still plenty of potential for a spin-off show featuring Vastra, Jenny and Strax in an all manner of Victorian hijinks based on what we’ve seen here.

Elsewhere, the cast of Crimson Horror remained positive elements of the episode regardless of their regular or supporting status. Matt Smith in particular was once again on fine form as the Doctor, more than holding his own against Dame Diana Rigg’s gloriously Machiavellian villain Miss Gillyflower while equally showing a pathos-fuelled sympathy towards Rachael Stirling’s decrepit reject Ada too. Even The Bells Of Saint John’s Artie and Angie turned up along for the ride in the episode’s final moments, although their intelligent discovery of Clara’s travels in time did perhaps seem a little too convenient as a segueway into the season’s penultimate episode.

Let’s just focus on the shortcomings of Crimson for a moment or two. While Saul Metzein’s direction of the piece was inspired, the pacing was a little misconstrued in the first ten minutes or so, even if Catrin Stewart’s Jenny was fascinating to watch on her own exploits for the first quarter. On top of that, the various Victorian lords’ fainting at the sight of Vastra did become rather childish as the episode progressed, harkening back to a subtle weak element of Snowmen that became a little too apparent here.

Nevertheless, for each minor shortcoming, The Crimson Horror presented a near-equally overriding positive aspect on which to leave a satisfactory impact for the viewer. Mother and daughter Diana and Rachael worked gloriously on screen together for the first time, Mark Gatiss’ script delivered a deliciously steampunk Victorian horror with thrills and chills aplenty, and Matt and Jenna-Louise combined with their Paternoster Gang companions in a lovely ‘Avengers’-esque team-up that would be great to see reprised in future seasons. It wasn't perfect, yet Doctor Who’s sixth episode of its 50th Anniversary season was still a fun Victorian romp, providing great thrills for viewers despite being Season Seven’s weakest link.

The Mimic Second Season Commissioned

Channel 4's new cult comedy returns for a second run in 2014.
Channel 4 have announced the commissioning of a second season of episodes for their new cult comedy show The Mimic. Featuring Very Important People’s Terry Mynott in a host of grounded impression-based social upheavals, the first run that aired over the Spring proved to be a dignified little hit, especially following in the wake of Ricky Gervais’ popular cult comedy Derek. It’s a nice turn of events for a charming little show, and here’s hoping that the ambition will build into something truly memorable for Season Two.

The Mimic will return in Spring 2014 on Channel 4.

Who News- New Executive Producer Announced

Discover who'll be helping out Steven Moffat behind the scenes from late 2013 onwards!
The BBC have confirmed the name of Doctor Who’s new co-executive producer. Brian Minchin will take over the role from Caroline Skinner, joining the show’s production for its 2013 Christmas Special, its confirmed eighth season in 2014 and beyond. Brian has had substantial experience with BBC Drama, working as a script editor for Who in Steven Moffat’s first season, and as an exec on shows such as Being Human and Wizards vs. Aliens too, so it’s clear that along with the Moff, the show is in safe hands!

Doctor Who returns for its historic 50th Anniversary Special on November 23rd.

Call Of Duty: Ghosts Announced

Could this be the franchise's finest hour, with next-gen releases too?
Activision Studios have announced the development of Call Of Duty: Ghosts for release later this year. Set before the events of the original Modern Warfare, this tenth instalment in the hit first-person-shooter franchise will be developed by series veterans Infinity Ward and feature a previous supporting cast member, Ghost, in a starring role this time around to sate the appetite of franchise long-term fans.

Better yet, it’s been confirmed that this time around, the new COD will span multiple video gaming franchise. Yes, we’ll see Ghosts feature not only on its standard current-gen consoles for fans unwilling to make the upgrade just yet, but also for the Xbox One. We now know that the use of a realistic AI dog companion will provide one of the game’s most interesting new assets, aiding team members in their deadly modern missions.

Call Of Duty: Ghosts ships on Xbox 360, Xbox One, PlayStation 3, PlayStation 4, Nintendo WiiU and PC on November 5th.

First LEGO Marvel Superheroes Teaser Trailer Released

A hilarious first glimpse at what's to come from Travellers' Tales later this year.
Travellers’ Tales have now released the first full teaser trailer for their upcoming comic-book platformer game LEGO Marvel Superheroes. This ambitious latest entry in the LEGO games adaptations franchise will encompass the lore of various Marvel franchises such as The Avengers, X-Men, Spider-Man and Fantastic Four, doing what Marvel Studios and Sony Pictures never could by bringing together 100 of the World’s Greatest Heroes in one sensational package.

Here, we’ve got a teaser featuring glimpses at heroes involved including Spider-Man, Iron Man, Wolverine and Deadpool, as well as the threat of Galactus lingering in the background. If LEGO Marvel does indeed live up to the hype, then there’s no doubt we’re in for something really special here. If not, then we’ll still probably have one of the video game highlights of 2013 for the sheer fun ensured to be in store.

LEGO Marvel Superheroes retails for Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, Nintendo WiiU, 3DS, DS, PlayStation Vita and PC on September 30th.

New Grand Theft Auto V Trailers Debut

The next previews of this year's hottest video game are right here!
Rockstar Games have now released three new gameplay trailers for their upcoming open-world shooter video game Grand Theft Auto V. Set in Los Santos, the classic capital city of 2004’s GTA: San Andreas, this groundbreaking new instalment will feature three different protagonists in an innovative campaign that builds to six daring heists, the likes of which haven’t been seen since 2008’s GTA IV’s ‘Three Leaf Clover’ centrepiece.

The three latest videos put a focus on each of the game’s three main characters, Michael, Franklin and Trevor. The former is this writer’s personal favourite, boasting Queen’s classic Radio GaGa as its backing track and showcasing the trademark humour of this hit video game franchise. Judging by our first impressions, there’s every chance that this experience could turn out to be one of the defining titles of this generation!

Grand Theft Auto V ships on Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 on September 17th.