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Wednesday, 31 July 2013

Who News: Tours, DVDs, Writers Announced

All of time and space, everywhere and anywhere- where do you want to start?
With just three full months to go until Doctor Who's 50th Anniversary Special broadcasts across the world, the BBC are notably ramping up their promotional campaigns surrounding the landmark event. Already this week, we've recieved a strong number of new announcements regarding the imminent future of the show and its merchandise, all of which deserve to be read by yourselves at some point.

Without further ado, then, here's our latest round-up of all of the biggest and most significant Doctor Who news of this half-week:

  • TOUR THE TARDIS- BBC Worldwide have today announced an expansion of their Doctor Who Experience attraction. Titled 'TARDIS Studio Tour', the new venue will be placed just a moment's walk away from the Experience building in Cardiff Bay, and allow fans the opportunity to explore the new TARDIS that's been introduced ever since the 2012 Christmas Special The Snowmen. It's a thrilling prospect to be certain, and believe us, this isn't an attraction that will go anywhere anytime soon, meaning that any chance visit to Cardiff made by you, dear reader, should warrant a trip. Doctor Who Experience: TARDIS Studio Tour is open now to all visitors.
  • SCREAM COMES TO DVD- BBC Worldwide have confirmed to the world that the 2005 Doctor Who animated adventure Scream of the Shalka is coming to DVD later this year. A four-part story featuring an alternative non-canon version of the Ninth Doctor played by Richard E Grant, Scream is probably only a worthy addition to the collection of the most dedicated Who followers, but should still hold appeal in that respect nevertheless. Doctor Who: Scream of the Shalka will be available in DVD retailers everywhere on September 16th.
  • SERIES 8 WRITER REVEALED?- Quite by chance, it appears that we may now know the name of a new writer joining the Doctor Who production team for the show's 2014 run. Consisting of twelve episodes (due to the 50th Anniversary Special forming a fifteenth episode in the extended and expensive 2011-2013 run of filming) and the traditional Christmas Special, Series Eight will introduce the Twelfth Doctor proper in a new saga of adventures with Clara Oswald featuring an audacious season arc. The CV of Jack Lothian reveals a new script for Who set to enter production later this year. Lothian's previous work includes television dramas such as Death in Paradise and Skins, and as we learned with Neil Cross earlier this year, introducing more writers onto the team tends to be a solid move. Steven Moffat will of course return to pen more adventures as showrunner (in what's likely to be his final year in control, his reign being as long as Russell's come the end of 2014), and it seems likely that Toby Whithouse, Chris Chibnall and Toby Whithouse will all contribute again as well.
Doctor Who returns for its blockbuster 50th Anniversary Special this November 23rd on BBC One. Doctor Who Series Eight is set to broadcast in Summer and Autumn 2014.

New About Time Trailer Released

Domnhall Gleeson, Rachel Adams and Bill Nighy all star in one of the most exciting British comedy films of 2013.
Universal Studios have today released a new international theatrical trailer for their upcoming romantic comedy science-fiction movie About Time. Coming from Richard Curtis, the mind behind Love, Actually and Doctor Who's Vincent and the Doctor, this new motion picture boasts an intriguing little premise, with its hapless protagonist bestowed the family ability of travelling into time, only to discover that such a power creates immense difficulties within the context of finding love.

What's perhaps even more enticing than the compelling premise is the charming British cast assembled for this exciting production. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows' Domnhall Gleeson, Sherlock Holmes' Rachel McAdams, Doctor Who: The Waters of Mars' Lindsey Duncan and a man who needs no introduction, Mr Bill Nighy, are all featuring among the ensemble this time around. While there's no sure-fire guarantee as of now that this will be a bonafida hit in terms of box office sales, the film's release in the relatively calm period of September will hopefully help the chances of a movie that deserves to perform strongly.

About Time rewinds into cinemas worldwide on September 4th.

First The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey Extended Edition Clip Lands

What did Bilbo get up to while away from the Company at Rivendell? Find out this and more details on Unexpected Journey's extended cut.
Warner Brothers Studios have today announced The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey Extended Edition for release on DVD and Blu-Ray discs later this year, releasing the first clip from the extended cut (below). Set for release shortly before the release of the second fully-fledged film The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug, this new cut from director Peter Jackson will feature 13 minutes of new footage, bringing the film's running time up to a whopping 183 minutes in total. For those fans keeping count, that new running time even matches the original length of The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring, too!

On top of that latest version of the movie, there's also nine hours worth of special features on the releases, bringing the Blu-Ray disc total up to three, while there are a similarly impressive five discs on the DVD version. The clip in question, then? Fans are offered their first glimpse of the extended cut via the reintroduction of Rivendell, where Hugo Weaving's Elrond discusses with Martin Freeman's Bilbo the nature of the Company's quest and the dangers they place the young Hobbit in during his travels. It's a truly heartwarming little scene, and one hopes that these neat extra segments continue to prove supplementary to the main viewing experience come our re-watch later this year.

The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey Extended Edition crosses the misty mountains cold to reach DVD and Blu-Ray retailers worldwide on November 5th. The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug, meanwhile, journeys into cinemas worldwide on December 13th.

First X-Men: Days Villain Image Revealed

From Tyrion to Trask! Our first glimpse at Peter Dinklage's X-Men debut has landed...
20th Century Fox have today unveiled the first promotional image of X-Men: Days of Future Past's antagonist character. Played by none other than Game of Thrones' acclaimed lead Peter Dinklage, the villain Bolivar Trask is an infamous one within the comic-book realms of X-Men, making his big screen premiere an eagerly anticipated one for fans of the film adaptation saga.

(SPOILER ALERT) Those viewers who stuck around for the mid-credits sequence of The Wolverine may well recall that Trask Industries were advertised as saving humanity when Logan entered the airport security area, only for Erik Lenshrr to approach him and enlist his help in facing a "threat that could destroy the whole of mutantkind" with the revived Professor X. Quite how Dinklage's character will fit into the series chronology, given that Trask's iconic Sentinel robots were created in the 1970s, remains to be seen, but what with the time travel premise of the film that links the X-Men trilogy with its First Class prequel, there are certainly exciting times ahead.

X-Men: Days of Future Past shapeshifts into cinemas worldwide on May 23rd, 2014.

Batman: Arkham Origins Online Multiplayer Announced

Continue the adventures of the Caped Crusader online, in the ultimate battle between Batman, Robin, the Joker and Bane!
Warner Brothers Montreal have today announced that their upcoming superhero open-world video game Batman: Arkham Origins will feature an online multiplayer component. Titled 'Invisible Predator Online', the new mode will take place within the realms of the Origins narrative timeline, but equally will introduce later elements of DC characters and locales which couldn't feature in the main campaign.

Case in point, one Dick Grayson. Better known to fans as Robin, this Boy Wonder won't play a part in the overarching single-player campaign of Origins, but players will have the chance to control the character and utilize his skills in the multiplayer component. In essence, this component is divided into three character classes, each randomly assigned at the beginning of matches by a roulette spinner: the Dynamic Duo, supervillains such as the Joker and Bane, and a host of the latter pair's elite henchmen waging war on the streets of Gotham in third-person shooter gameplay sections.

Make no mistake, this decision on Montreal's part is going to prove controversial with fans of the Arkham series. After all, Rocksteady's Arkham Asylum and Arkham City both fared well while devoid of a multiplayer mode, so why fix what's not already broken? That's a question which many critics are using to describe this prequel, and thus in this case it's difficult to oppose them, seeing as this deviation from the formula could prove Origins' downfall if it's handled incorrectly by secondary developer Splash Damage. Catch the first trailer for this ambitious new component below.

Batman: Arkham Origins glides onto Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, Nintendo WiiU and Microsoft Windows on October 25th.

Tuesday, 30 July 2013

Disney Announce Artemis Fowl Film Adaptation

The next Harry Potter of literary motion picture adaptations? Disney claim one of Britain's biggest teen fiction franchises!
Walt Disney Pictures have today announced the production of a movie based on the Artemis Fowl novels for release in the near future. Adapted from Eoin Colfer's best-selling teen fiction literary franchise, the new motion picture will depict the events of both the series' début entry Artemis Fowl and its sequel Artemis Fowl: The Arctic Incident, with details on just how the narrative will encompass both storylines set to be revealed later in the production process.

In the eyes of this writer, the prospect of bringing a cult saga such as Artemis to the big screen can only be a positive omen for a film industry that so frequently neglects to recognise acclaimed British franchises such as this. While Colfer's works hardly break the mould in terms of the progress of English Literature, they nevertheless have rightly proven popular with their target teen demographic, more than justifying a cinematic adaptation under the helm of Disney.

What could prove to be more risky, though, is that aforementioned connection being struck between the plots of two novels in one film. Whereas seemingly the vast majority of literary motion picture adaptations these days give the impression that in the case of adapting a single novel, two films are better than one, it can be argued that we haven't truly seen one of these adaptations tackle multiple instalment since the mediocre rendition of A Series of Unfortunate Events provided by Paramount in 2004, and with good reason. Perhaps this approach will work in Disney's favour, given that it has in television drama terms for Game of Thrones, but I can't help but feel that it's something of an ominous endeavour to make this early on in the game.

Artemis Fowl will hack into cinemas worldwide in 2015.

New LEGO Marvel Superheroes Screens Debut

Let's get ready to rumble! TT Games celebrate The Wolverine's success with an entourage of themed screenshots...
Warner Brothers Games and TT Games have today unleashed a new series of screenshots from their upcoming fantasy open-world video game LEGO Marvel Superheroes. The latest instalment in the latter developer's franchise of LEGO franchise adaptations, this block-building title features various characters from its titular comic-book universe, including allies and villains from the Avengers, Spider-Man, X-Men and Fantastic Four storylines.

What with 20th Century Fox's latest superhero film The Wolverine having launched into cinemas last week, you'd think it might make sense for TT Games to launch screenshots of characters transferring from the film to the game, and the developers clearly concur. Below, you'll find visual LEGO representations of Wolverine, Jean Grey, Silver Samurai and the Viper, all of whom feature in the blockbuster movie in some form and thus will prove enticing to fans of the X-Men motion picture franchise!

LEGO Marvel Superheroes blasts onto Xbox One, PlayStation 4, Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, Nintendo WiiU, Nintendo 3DS, PlayStation Vita and Microsoft Windows this October.
LEGO Marvel Heroes
Wolverine and Silver Samurai
Wolverine and Jean Grey

BioShock Infinite DLC Campaign Announced

"There's a better home awaiting, in the seas, in the seas..."
Irrational Games have today announced the development of a series of new downloadable content packs for their hit fantasy first-person shooter BioShock Infinite. Launched on consoles earlier this year, Infinite earned a glorious 10/10 score here at the blog, and remains one of this writer's personal top contenders for Game of the Year 2013.

Nevertheless, the original product boasted a fairly definitive and well-rounded denouement. How, then, can Irrational expand their narrative into new instalments, then? In essence, by taking players back to the place where it all started. The Burial At Sea two-part DLC campaign features a version of Booker DeWitt living in the underwater city of Rapture on the evening before its descent into pure corruption (as per the events of the original BioShock).

That's not the only intriguing prospect, however. Moreover, fans will have the chance to play as both Booker himself and the elusive female protagonist Elizabeth over the course of these two new narrative chapters, the latter offering up an older, femme fatale version of the character for players to engage with. Those of us who experienced Infinite back in March will recall a particular element of the ambitious narrative that will allow such a transition into a parallel world like this, but for those who have yet to play it, sufficed to say that discovering the original game's surprises remains one of 2013's most alluring prospects.

On top of that, Irrational have debuted the Clash In The Clouds Challenge Mode DLC pack today on Xbox Live and the PlayStation Network. This additional content does not expand the storyline of Infinite, instead offering players a final new opportunity to experience Infinite's grandiose, epic-scale sky battles before we return to a world built on exploration and survival horror tropes beneath the high seas. Fans of the skyrail-based combat will want to check this out, especially as it retails for just approximately £3 on XBLA and PSN today.

BioShock Infinite: Clash In The Clouds retails on Xbox Live and PlayStation Network today. Meanwhile, BioShock Infinite: Burial At Sea begins with its opening chapter this Winter.

Grand Theft Auto V 'The Fast Life' Screenshots Unveiled

Grand Theft Auto V ScreenshotWant a little more Grand Theft Auto in your life? Of course you do- Rockstar Games oblige with a set of new GTA V screens.
Rockstar Games have today unveiled a new series of screenshots (below) from their upcoming open-world video game Grand Theft Auto V. Now just over a month away from release, this latest instalment features three protagonists, an expanded Los Santos game world and a heist-themed narrative which innovates heavily upon its predecessors.

These new screenshots hold the title 'The Fast Life', and thus predictably focus on a variety of high-octane vehicle sequences amongst other quests which the player can partake in during their time with GTA V. While the visuals displayed here aren't quite on a par with what Watch Dogs, Assassin's Creed IV: Black Flag and Forza Motorsport 5 will have to offer on the next-generation of consoles this Christmas, they're nevertheless impressive in terms of the capabilities of current 360 and PS3 hardware. Regardless of fidelity, this experience looks to be an unmissable one for any self-respecting gamer.

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

Monday, 29 July 2013

Opinion: Top 5 Best Post-Credits Sequences

As The Wolverine brings us the most exciting post-credits stinger yet, we look back at five of the greatest scenes of recent times.
While it's a relatively new invention, the post-credits sequence has become something of an established hit within the film industry, particularly in the context of superhero movies. Indeed, every entry in the Marvel Cinematic Universe franchise features a teaser or easter egg after their ten minutes of credits have rolled, generally stuck around for by the most avid fans in the audience.

Here, then, to celebrate the effectiveness of the latest post-credits sequence included in The Wolverine, in this YouTube themed, bite-sized 'Opinion' piece, we've rounded up five of the best stingers of the past few years:
PIRATES OF THE CARIBBEAN: DEAD MAN'S CHEST (2006)- What with the emphasis on superhero films' post-credits sequences as this list continues, it may come as something of a shock to see this fantasy sequel included on the list. Nevertheless, the second entry in the Pirates franchise featured a hilarious epilogue, which took us back to Isle de Pelegostos to discover just what became of that dog left on the run from an army of savage cannibals...
IRON MAN (2008)- It was with Robert Downey Jr's first outing as the Golden Avenger that things began to heat up in the superhero post-credits department. Just as the credits rolled on Iron Man and the audience's remnants prepared to depart their seats, who else but Samuel L Jackson's Nick Fury should appear on the screen, teasing Tony Stark with the elusive 'Avengers Initiative'? That is how you kick off a new franchise in style!
THOR (2011)- Whereas some post-credits sequences have tended to be bold and dramatic, Thor's epilogue scene happens to be just a little more subtle and effectively understated in its approach. The Asgardian Avenger's human pal Dr Selvig is glimpsed descending to the lower echelons of SHIELD, where he encounters Nick Fury contemplating the power of the mysterious Tesseract. Sure enough, though, things aren't quite what they seem, and as Selvig considers Fury's offer to study the potential harnessing of the artefact, we discover via reflection that Loki has possessed Selvig, watching the cube with eager interest.
AVENGERS ASSEMBLE (2012)- Schwarma antics in the DVD version aside, in this case Avengers Assemble's post-credits sequence is in fact, like The Wolverine, more of a mid-credits scene. Once the iconic symbols of each Avenger have appeared on screen with the various cast members' names adorning them, we glimpse the two dangerous alien benefactors of Loki's army discussing their future plans. The weaker member of the pair states that to fight the World's Mightiest Heroes is to court death, to which the classic Marvel villain Thanos, master of Death, turns around and grin. What a way to tease Phase Two, eh?
THE WOLVERINE (2013)- Spoilers for The Wolverine itself here are fairly light, but a (SPOILER ALERT) goes out all the same. Two years after the events in Japan, the viewer follows Wolverine into an airport, where in the midst of a 'pat-down', the X-Man is approached by none other than Eric Lenshrr, aka Magneto. Magneto has seemingly regained his magnetic powers since the events of The Last Stand, and attempts to enlist Logan's aid in confronting a grave new threat led by Trask Industries. Knowing that his old foe won't rightly trust him alone, Ian McKellen's character wisely has brought a friend along for proof of his good intentions- at which point, Professor X himself appears, back from the dead and sporting his iconic X-wheelchair. Quite how such transformative events have occurred is yet to be revealed, and we won't know for certain how this is all transpiring until 2014's Days of Future Past, but as far as prologue teasers go, they don't get much more ambitious than this!

August 2013: Your Guide To The Big Dates

Skulduggery Pleasant, The Newsroom, Rayman and more great franchises return next month- our guide to all of the major release dates you need to earmark!
While July was something of a quieter month for entertainment, as ever August is now set to kick-start a calamtous chain of events whereby it may well become challenging to stay atop of the onslaught of incoming releases. Nevertheless, we here at On-Screen would much prefer that eventuality to the alternative, and as always we can at least endeavour to provide you with a cohesive guide to all of the biggest releases coming in the five weeks ahead.

Grab hold of something, then, as a tornado of new releases are dated right here and now before your eyes. Here's a full guide to the plethora of entertainment titles August 2013 has to offer...
FRIDAY 2ND- MOVIES: Red 2; The Smurfs 2; TV: Sherlock: The Reichenbach Fall BBC One Repeat
WEDNESDAY 7TH- EVENTS: Thor: The Dark World Trailer 2; MOVIES: Percy Jackson: Sea of Monsters
FRIDAY 9TH- EVENTS: Disney D23 Expo; MOVIES: Grown Ups 2; The Lone Ranger; Alan Partridge: Alpha Papa
TUESDAY 20TH- EVENTS: Microsoft Gamescom Conference; TV: The Newsroom Season Two Episode One On Sky Demand
WEDNESDAY 21ST- EVENTS: Sony Gamescom Showcase
THURSDAY 22ND- TV: Trollied Season Three Episode One; GAMES (yes, GAMES!): Disney Infinity
FRIDAY 23RD- MOVIES: The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones; GAMES: Splinter Cell: Blacklist; Saint's Row 4; The Bureau: XCOM Declassified
THURSDAY 29TH- BOOKS: Skulduggery Pleasant: Last Stand of Dead Men; TV: Trollied Episode Twp
FRIDAY 30TH- GAMES: Rayman Legends; Lost Planet 3

Kingdom Hearts Franchise Future Teased

Will Kingdom Hearts III mark an end to Disney's hit trilogy, or the entire franchise? Find out the truth now.
Square Enix have today elaborated on details regarding the future of their Kingdom Hearts fantasy video game franchise. The latest entry in the series, Kingdom Hearts III, takes place in succession to the events of last year's acclaimed 3DS title Dream Drop Distance, with protagonist Sora teaming up with Riku for a final time to resurrect the souls of lost heroes in preparation for an almighty war against the Hearts of Darkness.

Will this epic finale mark a climax for the franchise, though? Apparently not. Here's what the franchise's creator Tetsuya Nomura had to say on the matter: "There was never a plan. As a core game, this is finally the third, and 10 years have passed. I couldn't call this a trilogy. There have been so many spin-offs. In Kingdom Hearts III, the battles that the characters have been fighting for the past 10 years will come to a conclusion. That's the plan. But the series will continue. Only the particular enemy that they have been fighting for 10 years will come to an end."

Kingdom Hearts III keyblade-slashes its way onto Xbox One and PlayStation 3 in 2014.

X-Men Film Franchise Future Teased

The Wolverine and Days of Future Past are the X-Men film series' latest instalments...but what are they building towards?
20th Century Fox's writer and executive producer Mark Millar has teased the future of the X-Men motion picture franchise today. Speaking to Collider, the man behind Kick-Ass has commented on where the saga of comic-book adaptations could go in the future, looking ahead beyond The Wolverine (out now) and X-Men: Days of Future Past (Summer 2014) to his own X-Force movie amongst other potential instalments.

Here's our round-up of what Millar had to say regarding where the X-Men franchise could head once its time-travelling antics are done:

  • ON THE FRANCHISE'S GROWING CONTINUITY- "It's so hard because I can't really say what it is, but it's building towards something I'm working on right now. I'm talking to some people, bringing in some people."
  • ON X-FORCE'S DIRECTOR- "I brought in Jeff- I really wanted Jeff after he had done such amazing work on Kick-Ass 2. I said to the Fox guys, 'Look, this guy's going to blow up. He's going to become massive after Kick-Ass 2. Get him now because Warner Brothers or Sony or somebody's going to come in with a great offer for him.' So I brought him in now, you know, and there's a few other directors I'm talking to."
  • ON THE FUTURE POTENTIAL OF THE FRANCHISE- "Fox are aware of that. At the moment though, you've got to be smart about that. You've got to grow it organically. We're not talking crossovers or anything just yet, the idea is to build it quietly in its own way and bring in the best possible talent. So we're sitting on gold right now. I think there's a good five to ten golden franchises in there."
X-Men: Days of Future Past teleports into cinemas worldwide on May 23rd, 2014, with a 2016 release expected for Mark Millar's new franchise instalment X-Force.

Sherlock Series Three Antagonist Announced

Lars Mikkelsen as Charles Augustus Magnussen in 'Sherlock'BBC Four's Lars Mikkelsen takes to the big stage for a confrontation with the world's greatest detective this Christmas.
The BBC have today announced the name of the actor and character who will form the antagonist role in the third season of Sherlock. Set months after the events of 2012's The Reichenbach Fall, the new run will focus on the return of Sherlock Holmes (Benedict Cumberbatch) after his faked demise and his most dangerous adventures yet with John Watson (Martin Freeman).

So just who will be matching up to the Great Detective later this year, then? The actor's name is Lars Mikkelsen, a newfound Danish star best known for his recent appearances in the BBC Four dramas The Killing and Borgen who also happens to be the brother of Mads Mikkelsen (who portrayed the villain in 2006's hit Bond reboot Casino Royale, and now plays the titular role in US drama Hannibal). This time around, the character construct in question is none other than Charles Augustus Magnussen. If that particular title is ringing no bells, don't feel ashamed- The Adventure of Charles Augustus Milverson was the only Conan Doyle short story featuring a similarly named character, and given that Season Three's finale is dubbed His Last Vow (which has commenced shooting today), it seems reasonable to presume that writer Steven Moffat has drawn from a number of different elements of the source material for this year's climax.

Sherlock returns for three new blockbuster adventures on BBC One this Christmas.

Sunday, 28 July 2013

Best Of Who Awards: Top 5 Greatest Title Sequences

At the heart of every great television show is a great title sequence to open it- and Doctor Who has had its fair share of them. Find out our picks of the best...
Often, when it comes to assessing both the 'classic' and 'modern' eras of Doctor Who, it's all-too-easy to neglect one of the most consistently evolving elements of the show from its half-century history: the theme tune and the title sequence accompanying it. We've had a dazzling variety of renditions of the Time Vortex, the TARDIS' flight through it and a host of actors' faces appearing within it over the years, which means it's only right that we should rank the best renditions so far.

Sufficed to say that in order to pick five title sequences which best demonstrate the Doctor Who production team at their most creative and effective, we've had to be rather brutal in terms of 'trimming the fat' and cutting a large number of great sequences from the list. Here, though, is the final ranked shortlist that this particular writer reckons summarises the show's Top 5 Greatest Title Sequences:
5. SERIES ONE-THREE (2005-2007)- The first entry on this list is perhaps an inevitable one. When Rose first broadcast on our screens on March 13th, 2005, were it to have opened with a silly and poorly animated title sequence, the production team could have killed Doctor Who's chances at a strong revival right from the off. Thankfully, the opposite was true of this stunning revival, a sequence which simultaneously provided a breathtaking new rendition of the show's iconic theme tune, not to mention this writer's personal favourite rendition of the Time Vortex since Who's very inception.
4. SEASON NINETEEN-TWENTY ONE (1981-1984)- In the duration of its classic run, Doctor Who had a number of memorable opening title sequences. For this writer, though, it was that which saw us through the Peter Davison era which fully conveyed the wonder of science-fiction allowing the viewer exploration of time and space in the course of twenty five minutes each week. This version of the title sequence was used also in both the Tom Baker and Colin Baker eras, but in my personal opinion it was during Davison's time on the show that it had its most effective implementation.
3. SERIES SEVEN PART TWO (2012-PRESENT)- What with the rapidly fluctuating themed logos presented in the title sequence of Series Seven's first half in 2012, few could have guessed that the current Doctor Who production team would elect to dramatically alter the 2010 title sequence altogether come their Christmas Special The Snowmen. That's exactly what happened, though, and thank goodness- restoring a brief glimpse of the Eleventh Doctor's face into the Time Vortex, not to mention an improved whimsical foray through the stars that seemed based on the Sylvester McCoy titles, this latest version of the opening titles does a worthy job of carrying the show into its 50th Anniversary with boldness and sheer bombast.
2. THE MOVIE (1996)- It would not come as a surprise to this writer if this particular inclusion ends up becoming a tad controversial with some series veterans among our readership. Indeed, Doctor Who's 1996 TV Movie has sparked intense debate in terms of quality, continuity and various other aspects of its gleaming Hollywood-encrested bonnet ever since its broadcast. Nevertheless, to me, the new rendition of the theme tune that accompanied a bold CGI-enhanced version of the title sequence did wonders for the Movie's opening, and despite the rather Americanized font style used to display the names of the actors involved, this seemed a brilliant sequence to accompany future episodes of the Paul McGann era should they ever have entered production.
1. SERIES FOUR & THE SPECIALS (2008-2009)- At first, perhaps it seems peculiar to some readers that my selection of the greatest title sequence rendered for Doctor Who echoes that of another choice on the list. However, once you listen to the initial rendition of the new series' title sequence in comparison to that version introduced for Series Four until the culmination of the Russell T Davies era, you'll notice a number of improved aspects- an additional fast-paced and action-ready melody atop of the traditional theme tune is the most notable addition. Seemingly representative of the fact that Who had evolved into a blockbuster, thrilling format of action-focused adventures, this updated version of the 2005 incarnation of the title sequence represents quintessential Doctor Who, an explosive introduction sure to excite any fan at the prospect of watching a new episode.

Best Of Who: The First Doctor- A Retrospective

Our personal evalaution of Doctor Who's defining era, featuring thoughts on William Hartnell's incarnation and four of his key adventures.
Welcome to London, 2164. The city is silent, despondent as its inhabitants relinquish the realization that for the first time in years, their home and their planet is free from alien rule. Somewhere in the distance, the iconic bells of Big Ben chime, resonating throughout the streets as an aural symbol of hope and enduring human perseverance.

A band of weary travellers stand alone on a street, and hear those same bells. One of them, a wise, elderly man listens for a moment, his second battle with his oldest foes complete, and says only this: "Just the beginning...It's just the beginning." These contemplative words signal the conclusion of the 1965 Doctor Who adventure The Dalek Invasion of Earth, but moreso they help us to define an illustrious and naturally experimental era of the show- that of its inception.

Our Best Of Who Awards feature series will continue on a weekly basis throughout the year leading up to November 23rd, yet on top of that, we can promise an extra series of eleven retrospectives based around each incarnation of the Doctor. Today, it's the turn of William Hartnell's wise, oft-enigmatic and scheming Time Lord to go under the radar, as we explore the formative initial years of Who and the quality of various stories within them. Here, then, is our retrospective on the First Doctor in all of its black-and-white glory:

  • AN UNEARTHLY CHILD (1963)- Any self-respecting fan of Doctor Who will rightly know that this groundbreaking four-part adventure marked the very first story in the show's history. An Unearthly Child takes the viewer from 1960s Earth to the Dark Ages, as two schoolteachers- Ian Chesterton and Barbara Wright- investigate their mysterious student Susan's home, only to discover her to be an extraterrestrial hiding out with her grandfather the Doctor within a police box in an old junkyard. The scene where William Russell's Ian and Jacqueline Hill's Barbara see the truth behind Carole Ann Ford's Susan and Hartnell's Doctor unravelled, entering the TARDIS to find a bigger-on-the-inside time machine, makes for captivating viewing even to a 2013 audience, a surprising revelation unto itself. Ravaged by justified fears of humans uprooting his shadowy existence, Hartnell's Doctor here is rash and temperamental, an intriguing haunting presence aboard the TARDIS in his unwavering decision to steal the two teachers away from their ordinary lives in order to preserve his own secrets. It's a shame that once the extraordinary opening episode of Unearthly is done, events take a more pedestrian turn, with the remaining three episodes spent moving back-and-forth between the TARDIS and a series of caves containing primitive human societies, but there's still plenty of compelling content here for the viewer, as we discover how Ian and Barbara can bring out pure humanity in their Time Lord captors in the midst of a developing team dynamic.
  • THE DALEK INVASION OF EARTH (1964)- Judging by the mass success of Terry Nation's 1963 story The Daleks in introducing one of Doctor Who's most iconic monsters, it would be acceptable to assume that his sequel The Dalek Invasion of Earth reaches a similar level of success. However, that's not wholly the case- while Bill Hartnell and Carole Ann Ford are on beautiful form as the latter's character departs the TARDIS at the story's conclusion, the rest of the adventure is fairly rudimentary. The famed pepperpots of old are treated in a similar manner to their previous outing, which lends an air of inherent familiarity to the piece, which doesn't help the case of a lengthy six-part adventure. Whereas The Daleks introduced the Doctor's oldest foes with a bang, Dalek Invasion proved that it was still possible for a story involving these arch-enemies to seem more like a whimper.
  • THE WAR MACHINES (1966)- Undoubtedly, we find Doctor Who and its cast in more confident territory here. William Hartnell's portrayal of a courageous, ever-inquisitive incarnation of the Doctor is clear to see in The War Machines, a transitional adventure which heralds the departure of one companion and the arrival of two others. Admittedly, the former eventuality is handled with such callous disregard for the character of Dodo that it seems something of an afterthought, but never mind. Doctor Who's ability to recognize and respond to the growing contemplations and fears of the society from which it derived was developing on strong form here as well, with the use of a living, scheming computer interface just as relevant to a 1960s audience as it still would be to a viewer today in 2013. Despite some iffy special effects and a poor companion arc resolution, then, The War Machines remains one of the finest tales of William Hartnell's era, a defining piece in every sense of the word for the actor's portrayal and the series' ongoing narratives.
  • THE TENTH PLANET (1966)- Few viewers could ever forget this particular denouement. On the one hand, The Tenth Planet is known for its introduction of the Cybermen, at this stage a race whose voices appeared to resemble those of humans suffering from the common cold or who were a bit high. Thankfully, despite the sound-boxes of these new foes needing a bit of work, their hooded guises and their unwavering beliefs based on a total lack of emotional perception provide a chilling initial depiction of these soon-to-be iconic menaces. On the other hand, of course, Tenth Planet marked the final Doctor Who story to feature William Hartnell as its incumbent Time Lord, the reigns being swiftly passed on to Patrick Troughton with Hartnell in the midst of a growing muscular affliction. This naturally meant that viewers witnessed the first on-screen regeneration of the Doctor, although at the time this process was swiftly dubbed a mere 'renewal' of the character. Hartnell's illness has a clear effect on his physical contribution to proceedings here, but all the same The Tenth Planet is a decent conclusion to a successful formative era of the show, an era which helped define many of Doctor Who's later attributes.
For all the latest Doctor Who news, reviews, previews and features, keep it On-Screen in the days ahead!

Fez II Cancelled

Polytron Corporation terminate the sequel to their best-selling product just months into development.
Polytron Corporation have today announced the cancellation of their upcoming video game project Fez II. Announced at E3 2013 as being in development, the sequel to 2012's beloved platforming downloadable indie title was reportedly set for release on Xbox One and PlayStation 4 later this year.

Fez's creator Phil Fish yesterday took to Twitter to state that "[he] is done" with both the Fez video game franchise and indeed with the industry as a whole. The move comes after GamesIndustry.biz ran a video feature with some satirical comments on Fish and his work, although it seems unlikely that this video was the sole contributory element in Fish's election to depart the industry, rather that the strains of development proved too much and necessitated a re-think of the developer's time.

For all the latest news on indie video game projects releasing on the next-generation of consoles, keep it On-Screen in the weeks ahead!

July 2013: Best Release

Seven months down, just five to go- Disney Pixar scoop our Best Release award as we move past 2013's halfway point!
From the moment the month began, it was clear that July wasn't going to be the busiest period for the entertainment industry's run during 2013. All the same, there were a good number of high quality releases over the course of the last five weeks, with The Wolverine and Now You See Me marking some surprise highlights among the roster. Equally, not every one of the particular Summer of Film blockbusters released in July impressed either- The World's End sadly marked one of the biggest disappointments of the year so far.

On the whole, though, our Best Release award for the past month can only truly to go to the one motion picture which innovated beyond the reach of any of its competitors. While The Wolverine significantly reinvigorated its franchise, Monsters' University went one step further by surpassing all of our expectations to become a prequel than nearly eclipsed its spiritual successor. Boo may have been absent from proceedings given the Disney Pixar film's narrative taking place before Monsters' Inc, but the young character was replaced by a great menagerie of new teen monsters at the humorous college.

Central to the appeal of the piece was undoubtedly the development of the character of Mike. Previously a borderline dislikable secondary protagonist in Disney's 2001 effort, in University Mike becomes our (green) eyes and ears, echoing those frequent modern-day sentiments that simply trying your best often doesn't seem to be enough anymore. Indeed, the screenplay authors' acceptance and manipulation of this strangely bittersweet sentiment proves to be one of the film's greatest strengths, lending new weight to Pixar productions in a time when viewers have too long seen them as overly idealistic.

Just as Toy Story 3 put a completely new spin on the animated genre in 2010, so too does Monsters' University do the same in 2013. Even if it can't quite attain the same accolades and plaudits as its 5* toy-themed predecessor, Monsters' University is still an absolutely smashing entry in the Summer of Film, the best movie blockbuster we've seen since Iron Man 3 and one of 2013's best movies as a whole!

The Wolverine Review

The X-Men franchise's Black Belt moment, or its last stand? Our definitive verdict on 2013's most personal blockbuster...
Here's a quick rhetorical question: what is the definition of a 'ronin'? In essence, this Japanese term refers to a Samurai who is born without a master, and thus seemingly has no true motive to live. In the case of both The Wolverine's protagonist and the franchise from which it derives, such a term is doubly significant, with 2007's atrocious X-Men: The Last Stand having left the series of comic-book adaptations in a flux state of prequels and spin-offs ever since its première six years ago. This instalment marks a unique turn of events in its screenplay writers having the sheer courage to place its narrative after The Last Stand, and ultimately comes off all the better for it.

Above all, The Wolverine marks a truly formative experience in the context of its beloved Marvel franchise, setting the saga of the X-Men back on a definitive and compelling course with an assured future direction. Taking place eight years after Jean Grey's demise and the emergence of the Mutant Cure, this time around the storyline focuses exclusively on Hugh Jackman's Wolverine, who is transported from his cave-dwelling retreat to Tokyo in order to discuss a potential reversal of his immortality with an old friend. That the stakes here are personal rather than global marks a distinguished shift in the paradigm for the series, allowing the viewer a surprising degree of empathy as they contemplate along with Jackman and the production team what it means to lead a life without an end.

It's only natural to assert that were this morally eschewed premise to be this motion picture's only strength, then fans would instantly label it a failure on the scale of 2009's relatively dismal X-Men Origins: Wolverine. That's far from the case, though- instead, director James Mangold uses the layers of intrigue and mystery encompassed in the premise as mere foundations for his piece, bringing the world's favourite eternal hero into a society which is far removed from those depicted in previous instalments. Whether through his innovative, vast representation of Tokyo in his direction or through the intelligent decisions made during the casting process to ensure an international yet accessible ensemble grace the screen, Mangold has effortlessly manipulated the talents of his production team to create a cinematic production which instantly brings a sense of unique tonal diversity to the table.

Too frequently this Summer, viewers have been presented with an underwhelming and needlessly star-studded cast roster that favours Hollywood appeal over narrative necessity. In this instance, Mangold and his 20th Century Fox colleagues have been only too eager to differentiate too, with Jackman's name virtually the only one of note to fans of the franchise and celebrities alike. Faimke Jannsen does reprise her role as Jean Grey in a handful of effective hallucinatory sequences, and perhaps there are even one or two more returnees awaiting the viewer in the post-credits scene as well, but on the whole the ensemble stands in vast contrast to what's come before. Thankfully, this element of diversity once again works to the film's benefit far more than its detriment, with newcomers including Rila Fukushima (Yukio), Tao Okamoto (Mariko) and Haruhiko Yamanouchi (Yashadi) all providing viewers with a fair share of laughs, thrills and intriguing moments of note throughout the piece. With any luck, the imminent manifestations of this actorial success could be beneficial to the industry as a whole, finally placing a greater emphasis on the requirements of narrative rather than a motion picture's overall budget.

On a host of fronts, then, Mangold and his team have bested their franchise competitors and raised the benchmark for future instalments by an impressive scale. All the same, one of the piece's defining strengths also serves to highlight a notable shortcoming looming within. Despite a unique balance often being struck by the screenplay writers of emotion and action, when the latter style of sequence does gain prominence during proceedings, it leaves a rather bitter adamantium-tinged taste in the mouth, as the viewer is left to simply anticipate the resolution of a dull physical conflict so as to push forward towards a new development in the plot. Whereas recent hit superhero films like Avengers Assemble and The Dark Knight Rises have for the majority managed to ensure that their action setpieces appear relevant within the context of their narratives, in this case the action can seem like an awkward diversion from the core storyline, awkwardly juxtaposed with the effective representation of an alien culture and mortal boundaries.

Such qualms should on no grounds place a viewer in the position of skipping this entry in the Summer of Film 2013, though. On the contrary, whereas a large proportion of this Summer's blockbusters can be affordably skipped in lieu of their DVD debut later in the year, there's an awe-inspiring sense of scale and wonder to The Wolverine which practically begs for a big-screen initial viewing. Although it only reaches the heights of its immediate predecessor, X-Men: First Class (2011), on infrequent occasions, Mangold's latest production nevertheless aspires to and attains a far greater level of quality than either The Last Stand or Origins. Jackman remains perfectly synced with his ferocious role thirteen years after his début as Wolverine, and in Mangold we just may have found the most accomplished director yet for the series. The Wolverine bestows its franchise with rich new life that should sustain the X-Men films for years to come- and judging by a rather game-changing prologue to X-Men: Days of Future Past contained within the credits, the best is yet to come. X-fans, rejoice- it seems that this series does have something to live for after all...

Saturday, 27 July 2013

Coming Up This Week: July 29th-August 4th

Witness the Fall one last time, or check out RED 2 and The Smurfs 2 in cinemas this week!
Are we really heading into August already? It seems a recurrent trend that when we head into a new month, I grant the transition with disbelief, but 2013 really does seem to be moving at an alarmingly rapid pace, our proximity to being two-thirds of the way through the year testament to that. The next seven days aren't exactly packed with new releases, though, so we'll have to make do with what we've got.

Here's our guide to what the very final days of July and the opening days of August have to offer you:
RED 2- First on our list is a sequel to one of the most divisive motion pictures of 2010. RED was hardly a stunner upon its original release, so getting a follow-up was hardly the biggest prospect on most film fans' lists. All the same, RED 2 is here, and featuring Bruce Willis, John Malkovich, Helen Mirren, Anthony Hopkins and Catherine Zeta-Jones at least makes it an enticing viewing prospect for those fans of big comedy ensemble pieces. (Friday 2nd)
THE SMURFS 2- Another not-so-coveted sequel, The Smurfs 2 is the animated follow-up that practically only its predecessor's target demographic actually requested. This time around, the lovable blue imps are faced with an uprising of rival grey Smurfs the Naughties, led by their old foe Gargamel. As if all of that weren't enough, you can rest safe in the knowledge that The Smurfs 3 is landing in 2015 too- bring it on, eh? (Friday 2nd)
SHERLOCK: THE REICHENBACH FALL BBC ONE REPEAT- Finally, a broadcast that fans can actually get excited about. Although the name of Sherlock Series Three's finale title has already been revealed, after a delay due to the London 2012 Anniversary Games, we've now got the chance to watch the Series Two finale The Reichenbach Fall all over again. Yes, that means you can try to work out once more just how the World's Greatest Detective survived his fall, as Steve Thompson lays down all the clues for a final time before the show returns to reveal all this Christmas...(Friday 2nd)
AND THERE'S MORE- Well, not much, but still. Luther: Complete Series 3, Side Effects, Doctor Who: The Fourth Doctor Time Capsule and Stephenie Meyer's The Host all launch into DVD and Blu-Ray retailers on Monday, so there's a variety of fanbases which will be appeased in two days' time.
AND NEXT WEEK...A much busier week for the first full week of August lands, as a new trailer for Thor: The Dark World explodes onto the internet, Doctor Who: The Companions hits book retailers, while Percy Jackson: Sea of Monsters, Grown Ups 2 and The Lone Ranger all hit cinemas!

Kick-Ass 2 Preview

An in-depth investigation into the hottest superhero movie of the Summer of Film 2013 and August's most anticipated motion picture.
In the case of Kick-Ass 2, I believe that the idea that second time's a charm is something that myself and a whole host of other eager fans are hoping will apply in a fortnight's time. Certainly, replicating the shock success and critical acclaim of 2010's hit cult comedy-drama Kick-Ass is no enviable task, and indeed matching and surpassing it would be a feat that would require a plethora of audacity and nerve on the part of the production team.

Nevertheless, if it's been done before so supremely, then perhaps there's no reason why it cannot be done again. With that in mind, here we've rounded up five crucial elements of this ambitious sequel's narrative and production that could make it a stellar entry in 2013's film roster yet. Pull out those batons, equip yourself with a suitably lame superhero name, and get ready for the hounds of hell to cry havoc as the ultimate battle for supremacy begins...

  • LOSE THE GIRL, SAVE THE WORLD?- It would be oh-so-easy to assert that Dave Lizewski's life post-Kick-Ass would be full of accolades and fortunes, and yet this year's follow-up proves that such a reality is anything but the case. We know that Dave's girlfriend Katie is reduced here to a minor role, having parted ways with her former boyfriend due to the danger and pressure that his superhero alter-ego enables for their relationship. This leaves Dave and of course Mindy (Hit-Girl) in a situation whereby they're closer than ever both inside and outside of school, which is for the best, considering that as more costumed heroes join their cause, so too does an almighty army of riled super villains began to plan an all-out war on heroism.
  • TAKE A BOW- We can't go any further without mentioning that once again, Kick-Ass 2 boasts one of the most impressive cast ensembles of recent times. Though Mark Strong and Nicholas Cage have naturally been removed from the list, as compensation we've acquired Jim Carrey into the mix, plus newfound stars Aaron Taylor Johnson (Anna Karenina, Savages), Christopher Mintz-Plasse (Superbad, Movie 43) and Chloe Grace Moretz (Let Me In, Hugo, Carrie) are all back in business as the trio of protagonists and antagonists Kick-Ass, Hit-Girl and Red Mist respectively. Red Mist has adopted a hilarious new persona this time around, but for fear of thrusting explicative language onto the blog, we'll leave the gut-wrenching reveal to the trailer below!
  • WAIT UNTIL THEY GET A LOAD OF ME!- Red Mist's foreboding and confident assertion at the climax of Kick-Ass will have far more physical implications and manifestations within the next instalment. As you'll see in the final theatrical teaser, Red Mist recruits a new gang of villains to his cause at the head of a grand army awaiting a confrontation, including Mother Russia, Genghis Carnage and Black Death. Who knows what other hilarious puns on classic characters await us in the final piece? Discovering the answer will be just another addition to the menagerie of exciting elements awaiting us in the film itself...
  • THE OTHER BATTLE OF NEW YORK- If you thought that the climactic battle of Avengers Assemble was impressive, then sufficed say that viewers truly haven't seen anything yet. Having read the original Kick-Ass 2 graphic novel, this writer can confirm with zestful anticipation that an altogether different Battle of New York will round off the follow-up in a few weeks' time, bringing hero against villain in a brutally realistic depiction of what havoc would ensue were superheroes to enter the real world.
  • IT'S FAR FROM BEING OVER...As if all of those thrilling elements of Kick-Ass 2 weren't enough to justify its perusal of your hard-earned cash come mid-August, then one final lure should entice fans back to cinemas without a second thought. Writer Mark Millar has confirmed that his currently-drafting graphic novel Kick-Ass 3 will be adapted into a motion picture too, and given that Kick-Ass 2 climaxes in a cliffhanger in its original literary form, expect nothing less than to be left screaming at the screen, desperate for a resolution come the movie's end!
Kick-Ass 2 glides into cinemas worldwide (via jet-packs, naturally!) on August 14th.

Video Corner: Sparrows, Origins & More

Voyage on the high seas, see a meeting like no other and discover another hilarious Honest Trailer right here!
After a short hiatus, our Video Corner feature is back this weekend with a big round-up of all of the great recent YouTube entertainment-themed videos that you may have missed. Contained within here are Disney Infinity, X-Men Origins: Wolverine, Assassin's Creed IV: Black Flag and plenty more, so without further ado, let's dive in...
JACK SPARROW MEETS TONTO- Ever wanted to see Pirates of the Caribbean's Captain Jack Sparrow meet up with The Lone Ranger's Tonto due to the chance of seeing double in Johnny Depp? Well, now's your chance thanks to this hilarious Disney Infinity trailer.
EVERYTHING WRONG WITH PIRATES- Another Caribbean-themed video next, this time with a more satirical edge. The Everything Wrong With series takes a humorous axe to films we know and love, and its ripping apart of the acclaimed Disney saga is definitely worth a watch!
WAKE ME UP- If you haven't checked out the début solo single from Avicii, Wake Me Up, then now's your chance to make up for that mistake. By far, it's one of the greatest premiere tracks we've heard from an up-and-coming artist- this man could go a long way...
ASSASSIN'S CREED IV SHIP BATTLE GAMEPLAY- Even more nautical video footage is here for you to divulge now, this time based around nothing less than the stunning Assassin's Creed IV: Black Flag. Get your first look at a fully-fledged naval battle in ACIV right here, right now.
GAME OF THRONES: IN MEMORIAM- One of the more memorable video outings at ComicCon came fresh from HBO's Game of Thrones panel. Here, we were given a tribute to the numerous lives lost over the course of the past three seasons- SPOILERS, naturally...
X-MEN ORIGINS HONEST TRAILER- On the eve of The Wolverine's release, the hilarious Honest Trailers series returns for another look at one of the most panned entries in the X-Men film franchise. Yep, it's Origins' turn to go under the scandalous radar- be prepared to laugh!
HOW MAN OF STEEL SHOULD HAVE ENDED- Were you not happy with Superman's mass (inadvertent) onslaught on Metropolis during Man of Steel's climax? Well, then, the How It Should Have Ended series has you covered with yet another hilarious rendition.
SOME NIGHTS- This brilliant song from Fun has only recently had the promotion it deserves by a variety of ads and marketing campaigns, so we'll be utilising it within our 'Top 10 Best Songs' shortlist later this year. Nevertheless, for now, simply revel in the fun (sorry) of this brilliantly catchy piece...

Star Wars Episode VII Score Composer Announced

Discover the name of the man who will take our ears back to a galaxy far, far away in 2015.
Disney Studios and executive producer Kathleen Kennedy have today announced the name of the score composer for their upcoming science-fiction film Star Wars Episode VII. Set years after the events of the acclaimed Return of the Jedi (1983), this seventh instalment in the motion picture franchise will feature a new ensemble cast along with the returns of some classic series veterans including Mark Hamill, Carrie Fisher and Harrison Ford.

The announcement fresh from Star Wars Celebration Europe 2013 is that John Williams will return for a seventh consecutive time to score the sequel. Williams is rightly a beloved name in the soundtrack industry thanks to his previous work on the franchise, scoring the incredible Star Wars theme tune along with a variety of the series' best-known melodies. Of course, his experience within the industry by no means end there, as his lauded work on Jaws, Indiana Jones and countless other productions still resonates with us today.

Star Wars Episode VII will blast into cinemas worldwide in Summer 2015.

Microsoft, Sony Announce Gamescom Conferences

The fun doesn't end at E3- all of the details you need on the next big reveal dates for Xbox One and PlayStation 4!
Microsoft Game Studios and Sony Computer Entertainment have today announced the dates for their official Gamescom 2013 showcases. Following on from E3, the Gamescom Convention has always been regarded as a subtler but fairly significant 'sequel' event where developers reveal their new projects under more informal circumstances.

The 2012 event saw both Microsoft and Nintendo skip press conferences in favour of their own self-announced publisher events, so it's at least reassuring to see the former publisher return to clarify some of its renewed and tweaked Xbox One policies. Sony will of course have to be on top form too, given that Microsoft's 'Xbox One-80's have essentially levelled the playing field during the past month.

The Microsoft Gamescom 2013 showcase will take place on Tuesday August 20th and the Sony Gamescom 2013 press conference will follow on Wednesday August 21st. Expect coverage on both events and all of the latest announcements besides right here at On-Screen!

Who News: 50th Simulcast, Christmas Details Revealed

A groundbreaking televisual event will signal in the 50th Anniversary, plus Steven Moffat hints at big reveals at the Fall of the Eleventh!
While we move ever closer to Doctor Who's 50th Anniversary Special, an increasing amount of news and announcements is coming into the radar of the fanbase. Today has seen the release of two particularly interesting tidbits regarding the future of Doctor Who, and as ever, we've rounded the pair up for you, dear reader, right here:

  • 50TH ANNIVERSARY SPECIAL TO BE SIMULCAST- BBC Worldwide have today announced that the Doctor Who 50th Anniversary Special will be simultaneously broadcast across 200 countries at the exact same time. This startling decision will enable there to be a virtually total lack of time-based spoilers for fans across the world, with the episode commencing its broadcast at the 'same' time as it does in the UK, with a reported 8pm commencement of the episode's broadcast on BBC One looking likely. We'll have more details on this matter as they come...
  • DO THEY KNOW ITS REVEAL-TIME AT ALL?- On top of that big announcement, Steven Moffat has teased what's beyond the 50th Special, looking ahead to Matt Smith's final adventure on the TARDIS. Here's what he had to say: "Well, we are going to do it all. It's going to end at Christmas. Yeah, there will be closure...But yeah, there's a plan, and we will end the Eleventh Doctor's run with the answers to some of those questions."
Doctor Who returns for its blockbuster 50th Anniversary Special this November 23rd on BBC One.

20th Century Fox Theme Park Attraction Announced

The hit film distributor stands up to its rivals Disney and Universal with a full attraction of its own, coming in 2016.
20th Century Fox have today announced the development of a theme park themed around a variety of their acclaimed film franchises. Set to open sometime in the not-too-distant future, the attraction will echo its rivals Disneyland and Universal Studios by theming its rides on the characters, locations and narratives of beloved motion pictures.

As of yet, naturally we don't know the exact list of rides that will feature in the park. What we do know is that the attraction will open in Malaysia, and rumour has it that it'll house attractions based on Alien, Predator, Life of Pi, Rio, Ice Age and Night of the Museum. If you're wondering just where hit flicks from Fox such as Avatar and the X-Men universe are on that list, their omission here comes as a result of them being owned by different distributors, with Disney for example set to open an Avatar land in 2015.

The 20th Century Fox theme park will open to the world in 2016.

Friday, 26 July 2013

Kinect Sports Rivals Delayed

Rare gain more time to work on their first fully-fledged Xbox One retail product.
Microsoft Game Studios and Rare Entertainment have today announced a delay in the release of their new party video game Kinect Sports Rivals. Set for release exclusively on Xbox One, this latest instalment in the acclaimed Kinect Sports franchise will utilise the Kinect 2.0 software equipped with the One in innovative ways.

New sports have so far been confirmed to include bowling, jetski racing, soccer, target shooting, tennis and rock climbing. Quite whether this one is going to be an essential purchase for One owners in its new release window remains to be seen, given that there are a wealth of hardcore releases set to be available at launch such as Call of Duty: Ghosts, Assassin's Creed IV: Black Flag, Watch Dogs and exclusives including Dead Rising 3, Forza Motorsport 5, Ryse: Son of Rome, Project Spark and Killer Instinct. Nevertheless, for casual gamers this may yet prove an enticing prospect for bringing out the Kinect sensor in an innovative manner.

Kinect Sports Rivals will now retail exclusively for Xbox One in Spring 2014.

Doctor Who: The Complete Seventh Series DVD Announced

All the details on the BBC's new boxset of Doctor Who's breathtaking 50th Anniversary season!
BBC Worldwide have today announced the release of Doctor Who: The Complete Seventh Series on DVD and Blu-Ray later this year. A boxset containing each and every one of the fifteen blockbuster episodes that have formed the most recent run of the show, this series of adventures takes the titular Time Lord through his darkest challenges yet, as he witnesses the Fall of the Ponds, delves into the mystery of the Impossible Girl and ultimately finds his greatest secret under threat on the Fields of Trenzalore.

As you'll see to the left, the cover image is rather stunning, combining images of Matt Smith's Eleventh Doctor with those of Amy and Rory Pond (played by Karen Gillan and Arthur Darvill) and the mysterious Oswin Oswald (Jenna Coleman) in the background of the new time vortex. Here's a round-up of everything available to fans in this thrilling compilation set:

  • EPISODES: The Doctor, The Widow And The Wardrobe, Asylum of the Daleks, Dinosaurs on a Spaceship, A Town Called Mercy, The Power of Three, The Angels Take Manhattan, The Snowmen, The Bells of Saint John, The Rings of Ahkaten, Cold War, Hide, Journey to the Centre of the TARDIS, The Crimson Horror, Nightmare In Silver and The Name of The Doctor.
  • SPECIAL FEATURES: Prequels for Widow, Asylum, Snowmen (x3), Bells and Name (x2); Pond Life; The Making of the Gunslinger; Creating Clara; Behind the Scenes Featurettes for all fifteen episodes; US specials Doctor Who in the US, Last Days of the Ponds, The Science of Doctor Who, The Companions and Doctor Who at ComicCon and more to be announced.
  • AUDIO COMMENTARIES: The Snowmen; Cold War; Hide and The Crimson Horror.
Doctor Who: The Complete Seventh Series will retail on DVD and Blu-Ray in UK retailers everywhere on October 28th.

Thursday, 25 July 2013

Opinion: 2015- A Destructive Year For Film

One critic's take on why one of the busiest years the film industry has ever witnessed could prove its most destructive period.
Does anyone remember a time when the film industry simply produced a few entries of note in each individual year? That's a period which should feel distant to the vast majority of cinema goers as of 2013, where there are record-breaking sequels, prequels and reboots front, right and centre at all times, the Summer a particularly dense time for studios to bring their big guns out and rack up the dollars and pounds in the box office no matter what the cost. Indeed, with critically acclaimed motion pictures such as Les Miserables and Django Unchained now requiring a great deal of luck, promotion and star appeal to warrant a viewer's cash, the situation is becoming worryingly narrow in terms of the variety of new film offerings presented on an annual basis.

In order to first provide a retrospective on this matter, before we look ahead to 2015 and its potential disturbing implications, let's rewind a decade prior to that year, taking us back to 2005. There, we can see that that particular year's biggest sellers were Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith, The Chronicles of Narnia and War of the Worlds. Each of these blockbuster instalments performed admirably in the box office rankings, yet acquired nowhere near as much financial success as 2013 blockbusters such as Iron Man 3 and Star Trek Into Darkness have in recent months. More interestingly still, those new movies which went down more positively with the critics such as Batman Begins, Sin City and Goblet of Fire were often either in these charts or still performing relatively well in terms of profits and hard cash figures.

Were it to be the case that as of 2013, the same could still be said, with a select number of headline mainstream blockbusters released on an infrequent basis throughout the year and critically acclaimed cinematic pieces also given their time to shine, then there would be nothing to worry about. However, it has become clear in the past few weeks that such an assertion couldn't be less true- whereas innovative, expensive motion pictures such as Baz Luhrmman's stunning The Great Gatsby and Disney Pixar's charming prequel adventure Monsters' University would once have been given the time to warrant acclaim both critical and financial, in a Summer as busy as this they've simply been swept aside around a week after release in favour of new CGI-heavy, emotion-light blockbusters like Man of Steel, Pacific Rim and The Wolverine. Soon enough, at this rate blockbuster studios including Warner Brothers, Paramount and the like are simply going to likely reason that only these high-octane, critically divisive/oft-panned pieces are truly profitable in today's market, leaving us with a harsh final eventuality whereby many potential new classics are swept under the rug due to financial restraints.

It's bearing this in mind that highlights 2015 for me as such a potentially destructive year for the realm of cinema and the film industry as a whole. While fans of various franchises are no doubt ecstatic to hear that The Fantastic Four, Cinderella, The Penguins of Madagascar, Marvel's The Avengers: Age of Ultron, Assassin's Creed, Independence Day 2, The Smurfs 3, Superman Vs. Batman, Terminator 5, Pirates of the Caribbean 5, Ant-Man, Bond 24, The Hunger Games: Mockingjay- Part 2, Alvin & The Chipmunks 4, Kung Fu Panda 3 and Star Wars Episode VII are all set to form a part of their film line-up in just two years' time, to this writer there are plenty of negative connotations that could arise from this development. First and foremost, there's a clear trend of 'sequelitis' developing in this roster, perhaps moreso than any line-up we've seen emerge for previous years in the realms of the film industry.

This has a twofold potential negative impact for this industry- on the one hand, it encourages studios to continue along the lines of a lack of narrative innovation in terms of sticking to tried-and-tested franchises, and on the other hand, it equally forces them to neglect many more subtle indie projects of potentially higher quality as a result of financial constraints. The worldwide economy isn't getting any better these days, no matter what the significantly increasing levels of box office interest suggest, which means that eventually there will come a time when studios will place a focus on the franchises that are producing the most money. We've already seen such an outcome over at Disney, a studio now intent on highlighting their Avengers and Star Wars sagas via bi-annual or annual releases of new films in those particular franchises, as opposed to one Pixar film at best per year. What happened to this studio that was once so intent on preventing stale ideas that it demanded a new world and new characters from its various production teams each year? The allure of a bigger, Mickey Mouse-shaped pay cheque came in, that's what, and the same could happen across our industry.

Of course, I'm not here to suggest that once 2015 does arrive- and boy, will it arrive fast- you should simply neglect to support those film franchises which you hold close to your hearts, and indeed which likely remind you of childhood idealisms just as Marvel and Star Wars films aim to do. Nevertheless, this writer at the very least finds the prospect of a year so jam-packed with new franchise instalments a simultaneously thrilling and disturbing concept, since it begs the question as to whether those indie studios looking to provide quality over quantity will be neglected by the major distributors in favour of those titles certain to provide headlines and box office rankings which break records. If we're already showing signs of rapid neglect and dismissal of charming and innovative blockbusters such as Gatsby and Monsters, not to mention the (generally) plaudit-worthy Oscar shortlist nominees, then it's only natural to worry what state the film industry will be in come 2015, and whether even worthy longstanding franchises will fall into the gutter come that particular year's end.