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Monday, 30 September 2013

New The Hunger Games: Catching Fire Poster Released

Katniss Everdeen returns- get another glimpse of the Girl on Fire in the latest UK promotional poster.
Lionsgate Studios have today released the latest promotional poster (below) for their upcoming science-fiction dystopia movie sequel The Hunger Games: Catching Fire. Adapted from the second novel in Suzanne Collins' teenage fiction saga, the follow-up focuses on Katniss as she travels on a Victory Tour across all twelve districts, only to find a Panem-wide uprising threatening to engulf the nation.

If things go according to plan, Catching Fire has every right to become the Hunger Games franchise's finest hour. Collins' second fantasy novel was the highlight of her series, moreso than its predecessor or its finale Mockingjay. Indeed, Mockingjay will be split into two films, Part 1 and Part 2, and unless Lionsgate innovate extremely effectively on the status quo established by Twilight, Harry Potter and The Hobbit, the final two instalments of this particular saga have the potential to head downhill, fast...

The Hunger Games: Catching Fire blazes into cinemas worldwide on November 22nd.

Atlantis: The Earth Bull Review

The new Doctor Who? The new Merlin? Or should this project just have been left lost in the depths?
Credit must go to the BBC- few broadcasting corporations in 2013 would dare to create a new series that goes to such painstaking lengths to ape its spiritual predecessor. In all honesty, on the basis of Episode 1, The Earth Bull, Atlantis currently seems to be little more than Merlin 1.5 in all-but-name. There's a new cast, a new premise and a new setting, sure, but things proceed in a very similar fashion to BBC One's Arthurian drama in this case.

In what can only be seen as a reversal of Merlin's climax, Howard Overman and the production team here elect to open events in modern day society. The series' protagonist Jason turns out to be an explorer, hell-bent on travelling the seas in search of his lost father, his trip somehow leading him back in time to the lost city of Atlantis. If that transition between time periods makes no sense to you, dear reader, then fret not, as there was no exposition or clarification on the matter on-screen to make life any simpler for the viewer on night. Regardless of whether Atlantis deals with the fantastical nature of its initial premise later on, it's a crying shame that the opportunity to ground its opening in some kind of reality was not taken at this stage.

Worse still, the central cast are nothing short of mediocre in their initial performances. Mark Addy arguably shines as Hercules for pure comic relief, yet that's hardly much comfort in light of the plainly underwhelming first appearances from Jack Donnelly as Jason and Robert Emms as Pythagoras. Juliet Stevenson clearly has a whale of a time as the mysterious Oracle, but she's hardly afforded the same impactful dialogue as John Hurt's Great Dragon was five years prior to this programme's première. While comparisons to Merlin cannot act as the solitary factor of our review here, it's telling that much of the charm and understated comedy found in the BBC's last fantasy hit appears to have faded almost entirely this time around.

In fact, placing Atlantis alongside its predecessors in terms of forming judgement is simultaneously the most beneficial and detrimental element of assessing the show's debut. Put simply, Doctor Who, Merlin and even Robin Hood got off to far more confident starts than the channel's latest attempt at a Saturday night drama, and for the first time in a notable period, fans may well be justified in questioning either why Who isn't getting more airtime in the 50th Anniversary or just why Merlin was axed in the first place. The narrative is compelling enough to confirm that there's some potential for a decent drama to develop, yet at this stage Atlantis is standing in the shadows of its predecessors, and the team are simply not doing enough to even begin to plot an escape.

New The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug Poster Released

Ahead of a new trailer, see a new promo image of the next Hobbit movie!
Warner Brothers Pictures have today released a new promotional poster (below) for their upcoming fantasy film sequel The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug. Set immediately after the events of 2012's hit An Unexpected Journey, the second instalment in the prequel trilogy will focus on the Company's exploits in Mirkwood, the kingdom of the Necromancer and the lost city of Erebor (the latter the titular desolation of Smaug himself).

As it stands, right now it's uncertain as to exactly where in the novel Desolation will reach come its conclusion. Perhaps Smaug's demise will form the final moment of the movie, with the Battle of Five Armies teased for There and Back Again next year. Whatever the case, this entry at least boasts a cracking cast- Martin Freeman, Richard Armitage, Ian McKellen, Cate Blanchett, Hugo Weaving, Christopher Lee, Sylvester McCoy, Orlando Bloom, Billy Connolly, Stephen Fry, James Nesbitt and of course Benedict Cumberbatch are all headlining the second instalment, a mightier ensemble than most films releasing in cinemas this Christmas. A new trailer for Desolation is due to launch tomorrow (October 1st) at 2pm...

The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug journeys into cinemas worldwide on December 13th.
The Hobbit 2 Poster Desolation of Smaug

October 2013: The 5 Releases You Can't Miss

2013's end nears ever closer, and as the Autumn enters full swing, a menagerie of brilliant new releases hit this month!
Here we are, then- the final quarter of 2013 has commenced. As amazing as it might seem, this year is already headed towards its huge climax, with nine months already having passed in the blink of an eye. October promises to be an exhilarating month for entertainment fans, its powerful roster of releases already pre-empting the leagues of big titles hitting retailers in November and December.

This month, we'll be bringing you our definitive final verdict on Grand Theft Auto V, new episodes of Marvel's Agents of SHIELD and plenty more thrilling franchises, and rest assured that each of these five releases will get rated at On-Screen at some point. For now, let's stay focused on October as a whole, previewing the latest and greatest releases you can expect to see in the next five weeks...

5. ONE CHANCE- Prior to catching the first trailer for James Corden's latest motion picture film, One Chance, I could scarcely have anticipated the British comic's re-emergence onto the big screen. What Corden is offering his fans with is an altogether different project- a biopic, no less, based on Britain Got Talent's beloved opera singer Paul Potts and his life leading up to his talent show audition. Co-starring Mackenzie Crook and Julie Walters, there's only one chance for the team to get this production right, yet there's every chance it could be a storming success! (Friday 25th)
4. TOY STORY OF TERROR!- How could Pixar possibly top their revival of a classic franchise with Monsters University this year? Why, of course, by returning to the realms of Toy Story for a new televisual adventure. For the first time since 2010's Toy Story 3, fans have the opportunity to see Woody, Buzz, Jessie and the gang in action once more, as a road trip gone wrong results in a desperate hunt for a lost toy, one vital mantra staying prevalent above all- no toy gets left behind...(TBC, Sky Movies HD)
3. ARROW- The CW and Sky1 presented TV viewers with a confident and compelling superhero drama in Arrow last year, making its return a brilliant prospect for the show's followers. Premièring with City of Heroes, Season Two follows Oliver Queen in the aftermath of the Undertaking, reeling from his losses and dedicated to reclaiming justice in Starling City, all the while witnessing the spawning of a new team of heroes on the streets. Make no mistake, Arrow could become one of 2013's greatest hits here. (TBC, Sky1 HD)
2. THOR: THE DARK WORLD- Superhero fans have it great in October, as is confirmed by the fact that three releases in the genre top our shortlist for this month's most promising releases (and Marvel's Agents of SHIELD is still continuing to impress every Friday!). Second up is an intergalactic sequel that forms the next instalment in Marvel Cinematic Universe Phase Two. Yes, it's Thor: The Dark World- the Asgardian Avenger finds himself transported back to his homeworld, where he must deal both with the consequences of the Battle of New York and an impending invasion led by Malkeith the Dark Elf. Perhaps best of all, there's further screen-time here between Chris Hemsworth and Tom Hiddleston, something which fans will attest to be unmissable in itself! (Wednesday 30th)
1. BATMAN: ARKHAM ORIGINS- In spite of its development origins, Warner Brothers Montreal's Batman: Arkham Origins is shaping up to be amongst the best video game releases of 2013. Taking place nine years before the events of Arkham Asylum on Christmas Eve, the narrative follows the titular Dark Knight as eight assassins attempt to take him down and Bruce Wayne's alter-ego encounters many of his arch-nemeses for the very first time. Coupling a vast open-world with the same refined gameplay which Rocksteady make a storming success, Arkham Origins could very well be just the title that its fanbase needs and deserves. (Friday 25th)

Saturday, 28 September 2013

Who News: The Day of the Doctor Teaser Videos Debut

Eight weeks and counting until Doctor Who's 50th Anniversary Special broadcasts- check out the first previews now!
The BBC have tonight released the first teaser videos for their upcoming Doctor Who 50th Anniversary Special. Titled The Day of the Doctor, the episode features the Eleventh Doctor (Matt Smith), Clara Oswald (Jenna Coleman), the Tenth Doctor (David Tennant) and Rose Tyler (Billie Piper) teaming up with a host of allies old and new to battle a dark incarnation of the Doctor (John Hurt), the Zygons and, of course, the Daleks.

Be warned, however, that these 'previews' (below) are focused on emphasising the newly-established Twitter hashtag for the episode, '#SaveTheDay', and the ident (date logo) which will be used in the weeks ahead on BBC One to keep the episode's broadcast date at the forefront of the viewer's attention. A fully-fledged, specially-filmed trailer has been promised by the show's production team for a release in the near future, the video having now entered post-production and thus hopefully being set for an imminent arrival...

Doctor Who returns with its blockbuster 50th Anniversary Special in cinemas, across TV networks worldwide and most importantly on BBC One this November 23rd.

Who News: Twelfth Doctor Details Teased

The ending approaches, but a new beginning awaits. Steven Moffat teases Peter Capaldi's role as the Twelfth Doctor!
Executive producer and showrunner Steven Moffat has today provided new hints at what to expect from Peter Capaldi's incarnation of Doctor Who. Speaking to Nerd3, the helm of Who and Sherlock has teased that thanks to his predecessor Russell T Davies, he has a masterplan in mind for the explanation of Peter Capaldi's other roles in the franchise's universe (Caecillius in The Fires of Pompeii and John Frobisher in Torchwood: Children of Earth).

Just how could the Twelfth Doctor's similar appearance to a Roman citizen and a political defender of secrets be explained, then? Here's what Steven had to say on the matter: "We are aware that Peter Capaldi's played a big old part in Doctor Who and Torchwood before and we are not going to ignore that fact. I remember Russell told me that he had a big old plan as to why there were two Peter Capaldis in the Who universe: one in Pompeii and one in Torchwood. When I cast Peter and Russell got in touch to say how he pleased he was, I said, "Okay, what was your theory and does it still work?" And he said, "Yes it does. Here it is..." We'll play that one out over time. It's actually quite neat."

Doctor Who will return for Series Eight, starring Peter Capaldi as the Twelfth Doctor and Jenna Coleman as Clara Oswald, in Summer 2014.

Avengers: Age of Ultron Teaser Trailer Released

Agents of SHIELD isn't this weekend's only big reveal from Marvel Studios...
Walt Disney Pictures and Marvel Studios have today released the first teaser trailer for their upcoming superhero film sequel Avengers: Age of Ultron. The final instalment in Marvel Cinematic Universe Phase Two, the much-anticipated follow-up features Ultron (James Spader) as its central antagonist, his technology seemingly corrupted from the Iron Man armour if the hints in this first trail (below) are to be believed.

Fans won't be left underwhelmed by the level of new content in Age, though. Writer and director Joss Whedon has introduced two new Avengers, Quicksilver and the Scarlet Witch, into the fray this time around. The actors taking on the roles are still currently to be confirmed, but Kick-Ass' Aaron Taylor-Johnson is said to be adopting the mantle of the former hero. Captain America (Chris Evans), Thor (Chris Hemsworth), Iron Man (Robert Downey Jr) and the Hulk (Mark Ruffalo) will all definitely return, with Scarlett Johnasson and Jeremy Renner's reprisal of their roles seeming virtually inevitable on top of those. On the basis of this originally ComicCon-spawned preview, the wait until release is going to be a long and arduous one for the franchise's followers!

Avengers: Age of Ultron assembles in cinemas worldwide on May 1st, 2015.

Friday, 27 September 2013

Agents of SHIELD: Pilot Review

The journey begins- can Agents of SHIELD win the war on television drama, or is it a franchise spin-off too far?
When the chips are down, it takes an esteemed, dedicated writer to best the odds and pen an innovative new TV show. In the case of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, though, ABC and Channel 4 were already gifted on two fronts- the chips aren't down for the franchise in the slightest, and the studios have none other than Joss Whedon on board to kick-start the series' small-screen première.

In the case of Agents' opening episode, Pilot, we find little shortage of ambition and audacity on Whedon's part. Far from proving to be the proverbial elephants in the room, the World's Mightiest Heroes are referenced within moments of the show's first spoken dialogue, then glimpsed via shots taken from Iron Man, The Incredible Hulk and Avengers Assemble. If these first throwbacks developed into unnecessary excess as the narrative progressed, then naturally that aspect of the programme would play to its detriment. Gamma radiation, Chitauri technology and Extremis serums are all present and prominent here, and yet this prominence only serves to solidify and enhance the role of the series within Marvel Studios' grander universal context.

A vital element of the programme to remember, of course, is that of its budget. Hardly the rival of Avengers Assemble, Agents will have to deal with thoroughly grounded adventures for the MCU as opposed to the intergalactic, fantastical escapades witnessed in the core motion picture entries of the saga. Mercifully, Whedon has clearly accounted for this in Pilot, utilising the non-super heroic nature of its premise to his supreme advantage. Contrary to the possibility of this instalment seeming constrained by the precedent of its big-screen predecessors, the Earth-based setting helps imbue the script with inherently human comedy, pathos and wit. The latter of those three emotions has always been key to Whedon's televisual work, so it's gratifying to confirm that the familiarity of his approach in his latest effort doesn't hamper its innovative edge in storytelling.

As with so many of Whedon's past outings, Agents' dramatic power lies in its potent ensemble. Clark Gregg without a doubt remains the member of the cast with whom fans can most closely associate, the remainder of Agent Coulson (who, incidentally, lives!)'s team are each brimming with personality and talent desperate to be tapped in the weeks ahead. Having Cobie Smaulders return as Agent Maria Hill after her 2012 appearance in Avengers Assemble is a neat surprise, even if it's a surprise that was pre-empted months in advance by her ComicCon reveal. Smaulders won't reprise her role each week, though, which makes the noteworthy performances of her colleagues all the more reassuring in light of the show's impending need to stand on its own two feet as the season progresses.

Unlike Avengers Assemble, however, this isn't a narrative experience which presents itself in a manner devoid of shortcomings. J. August Richards' Mike Peterson is a character construct who's startlingly reminiscent of other super serum-enhanced antiheroes introduced in the likes of Smallville, Arrow and Iron Man 3 in recent times. His familial plight is one of the most recognisable narrative tropes of this genre of television, the somewhat unique resolution of his character arc its key redeeming feature. One might argue that the episode's climax becomes over-nostalgic towards the days of Back to the Future ("Where we're going, we don't need Helicarriers!"), although that's but a minor quibble in the grand scheme of things.

In spite of its blatantly uninspired title, Pilot remains an impressive, accomplished starting point for the Marvel Cinematic Universe's latest story arc. Quite how Coulson truly came back from the dead and how the leaders of the Centipede Project will manifest their influence on S.H.I.E.L.D.'s radar will unquestionably be dealt with in future instalments of the first season, but for now there's strong potential for proceedings to develop into a show which stands up with the greats. Agents of SHIELD hasn't reached the benchmark set by Avengers Assemble at this stage- what's impressive, then, is just how close its production team have come in their first attempt.

Wednesday, 25 September 2013

New Thor: The Dark World TV Spot Arrives

By Odin's beard! The Asgardian Avenger returns for more battles on Earth and across the Nine Realms.
Marvel Studios have today released the latest television trailer (below) for their upcoming superhero film sequel Thor: The Dark World. Set after the events of Thor (2011) and Avengers Assemble (2012), the second instalment in Marvel Cinematic Universe's Phase Two series is a mere month away from its UK release.

The Dark World's premise goes something like this- utilising the power of the restored Bifrost engine, Thor (Chris Hemsworth) transports himself backs to Earth, picks up Jane Foster (Natalie Portman) and beams them to the city of Asgard. From there, it transpires that an ancient evil has re-emerged in the Nine Realms, going by the name of Malkeith The Dark Elf (Christopher Eccleston). As the Asgardian Avenger calls upon his treacherous brother Loki (Tom Hiddleston) to best the legions of extraterrestrials laying siege to the universe, perhaps he must make the ultimate sacrifice in order to protect the known worlds and beyond...

Thor: The Dark World hammers into UK cinemas nationwide on October 30th.

Need For Speed Trailer Released

As if one action-driven racing blockbuster in 2014 wasn't enough, EA have their own entry up their sleeves...
Walt Disney Studios and Dreamworks Studios have today released the first trailer for their upcoming racing blockbuster film Fast &...sorry, Need For Speed. Adapted loosely from EA Games' bestselling franchise, the newest video game incarnation of which will launch with Need For Speed: Rivals later this year, the movie will star Dominic Cooper, Michael Keaton and Dakota Johnson.

If that rather underwhelming cast line-up was the most potentially destructive part of the motion picture version, then this writer's worries for the flick wouldn't be so prominent. However, that Fast & Furious gag which I opened the piece with is extremely relevant in all honesty, the aforementioned Paramount franchise hitting its seventh entry in 2014 and likely to perform exceedingly well. Recent sub-par efforts such as John Carter and The Lone Ranger have proved that the Disney tag alone won't carry a film anymore, so the initial portents aren't quite as promising as the studio might have hoped!

Need For Speed drifts into cinemas worldwide on March 14th, 2014.

Gotham First Season Commissioned

The adventures don't stop with Green Arrow and the Flash- Fox commission a third DC franchise for televisual adaptation!
Fox Studios have today revealed (via Deadline) the commissioning of a new television drama series, Gotham, for broadcast in the near future. Conceived in the wake of the unprecedented success of their superhero saga Arrow, their latest commissioned project will likely fulfil a similar level of popularity, especially in light of its proposed source material.

The most important element of the show at hand is as such: don't expect the Dark Knight to feature as a primary protagonist character. Instead, Gotham will reportedly feature Captain Jim Gordon as its central hero, its narrative taking place in Gordon's younger days working on the GCPD as the first super villains began to emerge. Taking this approach should enable Fox to avoid any unintended continuity conflicts with DC Entertainment's upcoming motion picture Batman Vs. Superman, though whether followers of the new series will have their interest sustained with the lack of the Caped Crusader himself will be a fundamental question in its first season. Certainly, with Arrow and Marvel's Agents of SHIELD (and a proposed Flash show) already dominating the realms of TV drama in the States, there's definitely a market for shows of this ilk to continue growing and prospering as their motion picture counterparts are for the foreseeable future.

Gotham will commence broadcasting on Fox and Sky One in Autumn 2014.

South Park: The Stick of Truth Release Date Announced

Ubisoft's final major video game project of 2013 gets a definitive launch date- no more delays in store, we hope...
Ubisoft Games have today announced the release date of their upcoming animated RPG video game South Park: The Stick of Truth. Based on Trey Parker and Matt Stone's hit Comedy Central show, Stick casts the player as the 'New Kid' in South Park, tasking them with forming an alliance with Cartman and the rest of the gang in order to recover the elusive titular weapon before it falls into the hands of enemy forces.

On paper, this is a project which isn't necessarily guaranteed to succeed. South Park has always been something of an acquired taste- a Marmite show, if you will. While the programme has its fair share of fans, whether the fanbase strays too far into the cult region of entertainment fandom will ultimately define the game's commercial success. With any luck, though, having Fallout: New Vegas' Obsidian Entertainment on board and the publisher behind Assassin's Creed and Watch Dogs distributing the product will at the very least help its overall chances...

South Park: The Stick of Truth bursts onto Xbox 360, PlayStation 3 and PC on December 12th (UK).

Batman: Arkham Origins Deathstroke DLC Trailer Released

Want more bang for your buck next month? Warner Brothers Montreal have you covered.
Warner Brothers Montreal have today released the latest trailer for their upcoming superhero video game Batman: Arkham Origins. Set nine years before the events of Rocksteady's Batman: Arkham Asylum (2009) and Batman: Arkham City (2011), this prequel instalment takes the Caped Crusader into the vast landscape of Gotham City on Christmas Eve, as Black Mask hires eight deadly assassins to take down his most notorious adversary.

The developers have already been kind enough to confirm that Bane, Deadshot, Copperhead and Firefly will all feature amongst the list of assassins out for Batman's head, with Lady Shiva recently leaked as the sixth member of the club via an Achievements list for the title. One of the most thrilling propositions, though, in Arkham Origins is not only engaging in combat with Deathstroke too, but playing as the masked master of gadgetry and versatile weapons. This opportunity comes in the form of an exclusive DLC pack available with pre-orders, offering players three skins and two new challenge maps (including a 100-Vs-1 variation) in which to take on the role of this secondary character. The latest trailer for the game (below) promotes the downloadable pack in question, and right now it's looking like an impressive add-on component.

Batman: Arkham Origins glides onto Xbox 360, PlayStation 3 and PC on October 25th.

Monday, 23 September 2013

First Cinderella Promotional Image Debuts

'Cinderella' first look image: Lily JamesDisney get to work on their next major live-action motion picture- the first details here...
Walt Disney Pictures have today released the first promotional image of their upcoming fantasy live-action movie Cinderella. A rebooted version of the animated classic (itself an adaptation of the famed fairy tale), the latest reinterpretation has entered production today, with the first official screenshot posted on this article to the left.

Now, before you groan and/or lament the release of the umpteenth rendition of this much-loved tale, take note of the impressive cast list. Lead star Lily James may not be a well-known choice (for now, anyway), yet she's backed up by Game of Thrones' Richard Madden (aka Robb Stark), Helena Bonham-Carter, Hayley Atwell and a host of other acclaimed thespians. Should the studio manage to muster an innovative take on this iconic narrative, then they may have a major hit on their hands before the Summer of Film...

Cinderella waltzes into cinemas worldwide on March 13th, 2015.

Coming Up This Week: September 23rd-29th

The Marvel Cinematic Universe is back, two new Doctor Who books arrive, London Irish begins and more!
After the phenomenally popular launch of Grand Theft Auto V last week, entertainment fans in the UK would be forgiven for assuming that the next seven days will be a bit calmer. Quite the contrary is true, in fact. There are four new TV shows premièring, some great book releases hitting retailers and there's plenty more excitement to be had on top of that very soon.

Just where are you going to start digesting the onslaught of big releases heading your way this week? Why, nowhere else than our exclusive and definitive round-up of the latest and greatest additions to 2013's roster:

DOCTOR WHO: THE BEASTS OF BABYLON- Charlie Higson. The Ninth Doctor. A match made in heaven? Quite possibly. The Fast Show writer is now on board for Doctor Who's ninth monthly 50th Anniversary eBook, The Beasts of Babylon, an intergalactic tale taking place during an unexpected moment of freedom in the 2005 episode Rose. Only three instalments of this thrilling saga of sci-fi shorts remain, and thus you may as well make the most of what's left! (Monday 23rd)
THE NEWSROOM: UNINTENDED CONSEQUENCES- Sky Atlantic's broadcast of The Newsroom Season Two is now over one third of the way through its run, reaching its fourth episode as Unintended Consequences airs. The Genoa situation is rapidly getting out of hand for the News Night team, forcing Will, Mackenzie and their colleagues to take drastic measures in order to try and bring everything under their control- before it's too late...(Sky Atlantic, Monday 23rd)
LONDON IRISH- Channel 4 are bouncing back onto the comedy scene with their impressive culture-clash binge sitcom London Irish. Starring Being Human's Sinaed Keenan, the series follows a gang of English and Irish drinkers let loose on the streets and in the pubs of London. The first episode shows off a heck of a lot of potential- stick with this hilarious programme, and the rewards could be plentiful. (Channel 4, Tuesday 24th)
THE DOCTOR: HIS LIVES AND TIMES- Another 50th Anniversary book release, The Doctor: His Lives And Times is an intriguing project to be sure. Working on dual simultaenous levels, this Doctor Who hardback chronicles both the fictional and productional history of the world's most acclaimed science-fiction television franchise over the course of the last half-decade. With just two months remaining until the big broadcast, few better places exist to fuel fans' excitement than right here! (Thursday 26th)
MARVEL'S AGENTS OF SHIELD- Ready for Thor: The Dark World? Tough luck if so, but this week we've got the next best thing. Marvel's Agents of SHIELD is penned by none other than Avengers Assemble's helm Joss Whedon, following the adventures of an elite SHIELD team masterminded by a revived Agent Coulson (Clark Gregg). Get ready for thrills, spills and extraterresterial chills as the storyline of the vast Marvel Cinematic Universe continues on Channel 4...(Channel 4, Friday 27th)
ATLANTIS- Yet another new TV entry making its bombastic debut this week, BBC One's new Saturday night drama Atlantis is looking like an extremely hot property. It follows in the wake of Merlin and is set up by the same production team, the latter attribute boding incredibly well for the overall quality of the programme. If it doesn't turn out all we'd hope for it to be, then with thirteen weeks of broadcast to come, the channel will be in major trouble. (BBC1, Saturday 28th)
HELLO LADIES- Last but not least, Stephen Merchant is returning to the televisual comedy scene at the conclusion of the week. Ported over from the US, Hello Ladies sees Merchant adopting the role of a fictitious version of himself, trying to find his way and most importantly, love over in the States. This is hardly guaranteed to be comedy gold, yet should be a fun ride nevertheless. (Sky Atlantic, Sunday 29th)
AND THERE'S MORE- Arrow: The Complete First Season, Homeland: The Complete Second Season and Vertigo all land on DVD and Blu-Ray today, so check those TV seasons and films out as soon as you can should you have missed them first time round!
AND NEXT WEEK...If more than a week is just too long to wait for more Grand Theft Auto, then have no fear, because Grand Theft Auto Online will soon be here! On top of that, Marvel's Agents of SHIELD and The Newsroom are both continuing their new seasons in spectacular form. Make no mistake- from this point onwards, the big entertainment releases will just keep on coming...

Friday, 20 September 2013

Video Corner: Toy Story, Coldplay & More

Our YouTube round-up feature returns to bring together the latest and greatest entertainment videos!
After a few weeks on hiatus, we're back with a new edition of our 'Video Corner' feature series in the latter half of September (isn't the month moving fast?). Just as you'd expect from any entry in this saga, there's hilarity and entertainment aplenty to be had in these delightful selections from YouTube, compiled here regardless of the date on which the clips were unloaded.

The main franchises involved this time around are Iron Man, Toy Story, The Hunger Games, Star Wars, Batman and Game of Thrones. Without further ado, here's a definitive summary of what's hot in the video regions of entertainment right now:

IRON MAN 3 HONEST TRAILER- This Honest Trailers entry focusing on the first instalment of Marvel Cinematic Universe Phase Two is as brilliantly comedic as ever. Aptly enough, the team focus on the absence of the rest of the Avengers team from Tony Stark's latest adventure, leading to one of the most focused miniature instances of film satire in recent weeks!
TOY STORY OF TERROR SKY MOVIES TRAILER- What's better than a new televised trailer broadcast to promote Sky Movies' plethora of channels and film offerings? Why, a trailer that does this while promoting the new exclusive TV special Toy Story of Terror, that's what. Pixar seem to have created this preview especially for Sky, which should only serve to make UK viewers all the more proud of what we're getting ahead of the Special's October première.
THE HUNGER GAMES: ATLAS- It's taken its sweet time to arrive, yet you can now finally hear Coldplay's addition to The Hunger Games: Catching Fire's soundtrack online. Titled Atlas, few would claim it to be the band's most innovative or unique piece, especially in comparison to their work for Life of Pi last year with Paradise, but fans should at least have a jolly time experiencing more content from this talented team of artists...
COLLEGEHUMOUR: BATMAN INTERROGATION- One of a pair of CollegeHumour videos making their way onto our list this week, this is another of the channel's finest Batman parodies. Here, the Dark Knight initiates his brutal interrogation of the Joker- or so he thinks. Prepare to laugh like never before, as a case of mistaken identity gets out of hand fast!
COLLEGEHUMOUR: GEORGE R.R. MARTIN ON RED WEDDING- Last but not least, our second CollegeHumour contribution on the list puts a sublime spin on Game of Thrones author George R.R. Martin. 'Martin' discusses the events of the Red Wedding in the show's penultimate Season Three episode The Rains of Castamere, along with recent controversy surrounding the major narrative event, in a gut-wrenching pseudo-interview that fans are not soon likely to forget.

The Minions Movie Delayed

Illumination Entertainment's next big animation gets pushed back- and its new release year shouldn't come as a surprise...
Universal Pictures and Illumination Entertainment have today announced a revised release date for their upcoming animated film The Minions Movie. A spin-off and prequel instalment within the successful Despicable Me franchise, this origins tale was originally set to launch in November 2014, yet has now moved into perhaps the most challenging year for motion pictures yet.

If it wasn't immediately obviously by that description, the third Despicable Me adventure will launch in none other than 2015. To put the intensity of that particular year into perspective, here's a list (in chronological order) of each and every one of its biggest blockbusters: Spongebob Squarepants 2, The Fantastic Four, Cinderella, The Penguins of Madagascar, Ted 2, The Avengers: Age of Ultron, Jurassic World, Assassin's Creed, Terminator 5, Independence Day: Forever- Part 1, Batman Vs. Superman, The Minions Movie, Ant-Man, Bond 24, The Hunger Games: Mockingjay and Kung Fu Panda 3. As exciting as having each of these follow-ups will be for fanbases the world over, there's always going to be a growing concern that certain franchises will fall by the wayside in the aftermath of the war of the Summer season. Time will tell!

The Minions Movie launches a cascade of freeze-ray blasts into cinemas worldwide on July 10th, 2015.

Thursday, 19 September 2013

Dark Souls II Release Date Announced

As 2013 enters its final quarter next month, developers are starting to unveil more details on 2014 projects- the first details!
Namco Bandai Games have today announced the release date of their upcoming fantasy RPG video game Dark Souls II. Taking place after the events of 2011's tough as nails Dark Souls, this follow-up is currently said to feature gameplay mechanics which will test the player just as much as its predecessor's, if not moreso.

By confirming that Dark Souls II will land next Spring, the developers have initiated the string of impending announcements which will reveal whether their competitors intend to show their hands earlier or later in the upcoming year. In March 2013, gamers received BioShock Infinite, Tomb Raider and Gears of War: Judgement, and it's not inconceivable judging by DSII's placement to imagine that a similarly competitive period for the market will arise next March too...

Dark Souls II blazes onto Xbox 360, PlayStation 3 and PC on March 14th, 2014.

Wii Sports Club Announced

Fans of the hit Wii launch title will be able to play a fully-fledged HD version soon...
Nintendo have today announced the development of Wii Sports Club for release later this year. The third iteration in the acclaimed first-party sports video game franchise, Club follows 2006's smash-hit Wii bundle title Wii Sports and its Wii MotionPlus successor Wii Sports Resort (2009).

While any addition to Nintendo's first-party line-up is welcome right now, there is a slight caveat in the works here. Wii Sports Club could quite easily hold the title Wii Sports HD instead, as in essence it is an upscaled version of the 2006 original with high-definition visuals for the Nintendo WiiU console. Rather than being available as a retail package, Club will ship on Nintendo's eShop for a currently undisclosed RRP. Given that Wii Sports virtually retailed for free, with any luck the price tag here shouldn't be anything to worry about. As fans would expect, all five original sports- Baseball, Bowling, Boxing, Golf and of course Tennis- are back with a dazzling HD makeover within the product, although the various mini-games will be released in instalments with a definitive pricing structure yet to be confirmed.

Wii Sports Club retails exclusively for Nintendo WiiU on the eShop digital store this November 7th.

Best of Who Awards: Top 5 Greatest One-Off Companions

Ten weeks to go! From Sparrows to Lakes, from Motts to Brookes, here's our definitive verdict on the Doctor's greatest one-nighters.
Every now and then, when a writer of new Doctor Who finds powerful inspiration, the Doctor is rewarded with an assistant for a solitary adventure in time and space. That faithful companion is usually rewarded with a grisly demise of some kind to prevent further travels in the TARDIS and any major shifts in the series' current status quo. All the same, in these characters we find some of the show's most memorable constructs, whose lives reside in fans' memories long after their prescribed expiration date.

You'll notice in this particular list of the greatest 'One-Off Companions' to feature in the programme that our focus is primarily on 2005-2013 constructs. No discredit is intended towards the so-called 'classic' era of Who in this decision, yet the story which contained perhaps the most prominent solitary TARDIS companions in 1963-1989, The Daleks' Master Plan (which featured freedom fighters Sara Kingdom and Katarina), is virtually lost to the archives and as such is difficult to accurately judge against the programme's modern-day incarnation. With that covered, let's move into this prestigious list...

5. JACKSON LAKE (2008)- For all The Next Doctor's faults, particularly in its climax, the 2008 Christmas Special does have at least one primary redemptive factor- David Morrissey. Doctor Who had acquired various celebrity stars for its festive episodes before (Penelope Wilton, Catherine Tate and Kylie Minogue among them), but with Morrissey, Russell T. Davies confirmed without fail that the revived show was once again playing in the big leagues. Whether in his bemused and tragedy-ridden state as the supposed 'Next' Doctor or in his triumphant recovery of his memories and his rescue of his son, Jackson Lake is a brilliantly pitched one-night stand for the Doctor, the very essence of Morrissey's performance impressively imbued by elements of past Doctors while equally unique in its own right!
4. RITA (2011)- This space on the shortlist was closely fought for by two worthy competitors, one of whom was A Good Man Goes To War's soldier-turned-saviour Lorna Buckett. Eventually, though, for this writer it became evident that Toby Whithouse's The God Complex provides the more effective lost hero by a slim margin. In her short space of time on the show, Amara Khan's beautifully portrayed Muslim medical student won her way into hearts nationwide, her unashamed faith and her resilience in challenging even our favourite Time Lord's own preconceptions of religion lending new depth in spite of the ominous sense that her death was only moments away. Perhaps most importantly of all, we never discover Rita's family name- to us, there will always only be Rita, and the Doctor, and the days that never came...
3. ADELAIDE BROOKE (2009)- When it comes to the matter of an assistant willing to fight the Last of the Time Lords at every turn, however, few characters carry such a legacy as Captain Adelaide Brooke. Introduced and subsequently killed off in the midst of The Waters of Mars, Adelaide's ferocity and stubborn retaliation both matched and eclipsed Series Four's beloved Donna Noble. Russell T. Davies and Phil Ford leave the viewer with a harrowing final glimpse of Lindsay Duncan's respected leader figure as she moves towards her suicide in order to restore history and defeat the Time Lord Victorious, although ultimately this unnerving departure lingers in the mind for its profound dramatic effect four years on, along with Duncan's spectacular performance.
2. KAZRAN SARDICK (2010)- If ever there was an instance in which Doctor Who's latest executive producer, Steven Moffat, had to keep the faith of Russell T. Davies' fanbase, then it was with the 2010 Christmas Special. Enter Michael Gambon, a stellar piece of guest casting for the programme in a year which had already given us Who turns from Ian McNeice, Alex Kingston, Helen McRory, Toby Jones, Bill Nighy and James Corden. A Christmas Carol's Kazran Sardick is transformed (a la Scrooge) from a petty miser with tyrannical control over his city to a lovable and surprisingly scarred romantic thanks to the intervention of Matt Smith's Doctor. Without Gambon, Sardick wouldn't hold such an intoxicating dynamic with the Doctor (who himself would turn Scrooge-esque in The Snowmen two years later), nor would he be recalled as one of Doctor Who's finest one-off companions!
1. WILFRED MOTT (2009)- "Please, just take this gun and save your life, and please don't die- you're the most wonderful man and I don't want you to die." For a precious moment in The End of Time Part Two, the battle subsides aboard a Vinvocci space cruiser, presenting us with two men reminiscing upon their age and their experiences on the planet Earth below. David Tennant gives it his all as ever in his darkest hour, his final hour, yet in the end it's Bernard Cribbins' Wilfred Mott who's the real star of the show. Fans were able to witness raw emotion like never before in the British star's performance, his honesty and bravery proving to be his greatest strengths at the same time as dooming his one true friend. As the Tenth Doctor departs Donna's second wedding and bids Wilf a final farewell, to me it seems most tragic not that David Tennant's incarnation meets his demise, but that this sterling one-off traveller in the TARDIS has his journey cut short so briskly, all the while remaining one of the greatest characters that Doctor Who has ever produced.

Wednesday, 18 September 2013

Who News: Steven Moffat Teases Christmas Special

What fate awaits the Doctor at Trenzalore? Secrets will be revealed on December 25th.
Executive producer Steven Moffat has today provided an intriguing teaser for his upcoming 2013 Christmas Special. Set to broadcast after the blockbuster 50th Anniversary Special The Day of the Doctor, this festive episode will chronicle the final adventure of Matt Smith's Eleventh Doctor in the TARDIS and his inevitable regeneration.

Until now, though, with much of the BBC's focus placed on Day, little has been spoken of its successor's hidden narrative. Steven Moffat has changed things up today somewhat in the latest issue of Doctor Who Magazine, though. Questioned by a reader as to how the TARDIS exploded, here's what he had to say on the matter: "Oh, never mind the TARDIS blowing up, what about the endless, bitter war Kovarian was on about? And what's Trenzalore? And the oldest question in the universe? And exactly what do they mean, silence will fall? Anyway, I'm off to a readthrough..."

Naturally, there are a few key elements of Moffat's response to examine here. First and foremost, it appears as if the Silence will have a role to play in the 2013 Christmas Special, perhaps as its primary antagonists. Nightmare In Silver's Cybermen are reported to be featuring in the Eleventh Doctor's last battle too, yet there's a chance that they will play second fiddle to the supposed Guardians of the Universe. The question as to why the Silence appeared to blow up the TARDIS to retain universal sanctity still looms heavily for fans. ]

The good news, judging on this response, is that the Special will likely address the explosion in The Pandorica Opens, Kovarian's hatred for the Doctor in A Good Man Goes To War, the significance of Trenzalore in The Name of the Doctor, the First Question teased in The Wedding of River Song and the meaning of 'Silence Will Fall' as first raised in The Eleventh Doctor. That the show's head writer seems to have anticipated his followers' confusion at these multitudes of arc strands is cunning on his part, especially if they can all be resolved in a graceful and satisfying manner come December 25th...

Doctor Who returns with its blockbuster 50th Anniversary Special, The Day of the Doctor, on BBC One, BBC channels worldwide and in cinemas on November 23rd. The show's 2013 Christmas Special will broadcast this Christmas Day on BBC One.

Disney Confirm New Blockbuster Release Dates

The motion picture studio reveal an updated release schedule for their upcoming blockbuster films!
Walt Disney Pictures have today announced an altered series of release dates for their major upcoming movies. What with balancing the Marvel Cinematic Universe and the revived Star Wars franchise with their various animated and live-action motion pictures, the studio have a challenging yet potentially fortuitous situation on their hands in the coming years.

So just what changes have been made to the impending line-up of flicks? Here's our round-up of those films whose release dates have been altered with currently unrevealed motives:
  • MALEFICENT- May 30th, 2014 (Previously: July 2nd, 2014)
  • THE GOOD DINOSAUR- November 25th, 2015 (Previously: May 30th, 2014)
  • FINDING DORY- June 17th, 2016 (Previously: November 25th, 2015)
In this series of rescheduled releases, Disney have potentially offered one or two clues as to the progress of their next trio of first-party film productions. If anything, Finding Dory looks to have had the most profound effect, its shift to a Summer 2016 premiere likely being the central motivation for the studio filling its release date with The Good Dinosaur and shunting Maleficent accordingly. There'll be no Pixar movie in 2014 as a result of these alterations, yet with any luck Saving Mr Banks Captain America: The Winter Soldier and Guardians of the Galaxy will more than compensate next year.

Disney's next upcoming motion picture release is Thor: The Dark World, set to hammer its way into cinemas across the UK on October 30th.

Tuesday, 17 September 2013

Skulduggery Pleasant: Last Stand of Dead Men Review

The penultimate instalment of Derek Landy's hit teen fantasy series has landed- can it restore the franchise's strength in its hour of need?
Last time a new main addition to the Skulduggery Pleasant saga emerged, Derek Landy's mastery of wit, humour and teen-orientated action appeared to falter for a moment. In Kingdom of the Wicked, the initial events of the final trilogy were represented in a convoluted and cumbersome manner, the novel's running time extremely excessive in terms of the rather simple narrative it needed to convey. Landy needed to regain the momentum and charm of the series' earlier instalments in order to restore the faith of this reviewer, and it transpires that in the case of Last Stand of Dead Men, the Irish scribe has done just that.

Last Stand's plot picks up from where its predecessor clumsily left off in its climax, with magic restored primarily to its rightful place and a rogue reflection of Valkyrie Cain on the loose in the midst of the growing shroud of Darquesse. Were Landy incapable of recapping these key (yet initially mishandled) moments as events kick off, then the eighth adventure would be considerably less accessible, but he accomplishes this unenviable feat with ease in the opening chapters of the text. The manner in which further developments transpire is thankfully handled with more finesse and confidence than in Kingdom. Whereas before the reader may have been left wondering exactly what had occurred in the previous chapter, to do so here would be to imply that they had simply skim-read that section, since the number of instances in which the progression of the narrative is disjointed or complex are significantly reduced in Landy's latest effort.

Moreover, the central characterisations are pitched with a greater sense of faithfulness towards their initial incarnations. Kingdom's Skulduggery and Valkyrie lacked the banter, the oft-hilarious rapport that became such a hit with the series' followers in Playing With Fire, Dark Days and the like, yet Last Stand evades this shortcoming by presenting those two constructs with setpieces akin to Landy's earlier works, the brilliantly fantastical action serving as a glorious platter of opportunities for the pair of detectives to have a laugh along with the reader. In an era of teen fiction where predictable romances (a la Twilight) and bizarre, borderline-apathetic revivals of classic fantastical creatures (again, a la Twilight) govern popularity, attention has been drawn too far from the inert charm and comedic edge this genre possesses at its core. Undoubtedly, Skulduggery's helm recaptures those elements here, even in spite of the fact that the more morbid and foreboding sections of his storyline threaten to dominate the tone of the piece.

That's not to say that Last Stand stumbles in executing its serious and violent moments, either, more that the aforementioned instances of darker content can feel awkwardly juxtaposed with the novel's comic relief segments at time. The reign of Valkyrie's world-shattering alter ego is unquestionably drawing ever closer as the War of the Sanctuaries continues, the former particular element of the franchise's ongoing narrative rarely forgotten thanks to protagonists and antagonists alike bringing it up on frequent intervals. Perhaps there's no richly satisfying balance to ever be struck here, yet the balance was maintained in an arguably more efficient manner in the series' early days than it has been in recent instalments. Even if this penultimate outing can't recapture that lost simultaneous dramatic and comedic power, though, it's not for want of its creator attempting to do so throughout.

When Kingdom of the Wicked reached its climax it had a strange, powerfully dissatisfying effect on this reviewer and other readers for the majority. It's safe to say that such a lacking resolution has not been echoed with Last Stand of Dead Men, a text which signals a perfectly timed return to form for the Skulduggery Pleasant series ahead of its finale next September. Derek Landy will never be recalled as the next great British author of the 21st Century, yet any fans of his works who know the author to a sufficient extent will confirm that he's not aiming to be as such. The scribe's intentions are far more noble in the case of Skulduggery- pure, unrelenting entertainment for his vast array of followers, a trait of the franchise which has been restored to great effect.

Monday, 16 September 2013

Rush Review

Does this F1 biopic feel the need for speed, or the need for a more engaging narrative? Our verdict...
Every now and then, perhaps once in each year, a motion picture will appear in our wing-view mirror that skilfully presents a genre or subject in a manner that engages and compels us more than we had ever thought possible. Indeed, in the case of Rush, this 2013 Toronto Film Festival entry bases itself around the interwoven journeys of James Hunt and Niki Lauda within a Formula 1 championship, something which until now had never proven of great intent to this reviewer.

It's astonishing, then, to be able to confirm that Ron Howard's latest directorial contribution will successfully invigorate even those viewers (such as myself, to a large extent) who for the most part hold an apathy towards those who put their lives on the line every time they take the wheel. Central to its grip over the audience is the strength of the cast ensemble Howard has assembled- though only Chris Hemsworth, Olivia Wilde and Natalie Dormer mark the most established names on the list, rising stars such as Daniel Bruhl (Lauda) truly can hold their own while sharing the stage with those who've played Asgardian Gods, digital AIs and manipulative wives here.

Howard's contribution to this breathtaking piece cannot be understated, either. Were it not for the spectacle and encapsulating realism with which he presents and affords Grand Prix racing during the various on-track setpieces, it is more than arguable that much of the movie's dramatic impact would be lost, seeing as the viewer would instantly see behind the illusion of the believable representation of the characters and events that is achieved. However, those two elements are finely honed and out in full force, a fact which ensures that far from the moments which don't focus on emotional subtlety becoming dull and too action-driven (no pun intended), they're every inch as captivating and thus tedium never sets in.

Of course, that aforementioned subtlety to be found between races is simultaneously hardly lacking. A moment shared between Hemsworth's Hunt and Wilde's Suzy remains particularly resonant for this reviewer, the intricacies and layers of both performers' portrayals of these two conflicted lovers drawn together by necessity proving to be nothing short of sublime. Bruhl's Lauda initially seems to be pitched as the piece's antagonist, yet what's most impressive of the storyline is that soon enough the clichéd analogy of 'shades of grey' comes into play, with both Hunt and Lauda exhibiting traits of the classic tragic hero in their visible shortcomings. As any fan of these two sterling competitors will know, tragedy is to come, and Howard doesn't shy from dealing with the key aspects of both characters' darkest hours, but this only serves to enhance our understanding and engagement with their dilemmas and wipes the protagonist/antagonist concept from the slate by the film's third act.

Rush isn't devoid of blemishes: to me, the movie's adherence to its biopic format becomes somewhat too notable at times and it's challenging not to question whether events have been dramatised with more than a hint of exaggeration in a few instances. Even so, this is without a doubt one of the finest films to have appeared in the box office in 2013, its innovations both within the sports genre and indeed in terms of direction and performances outweighing its minor setbacks. There's such an honest and delicate representation of two debatably iconic figures here that it's near impossible not to become swept up in all of its grandeur and drama, regardless of the viewer's inclination regarding F1, its competitors and the like. To be able to say that is immensely gratifying, and one can only hope that future film pioneers attempt such integrative experiences as this in the near future.

Saturday, 14 September 2013

New Arrow Cast Member Announced

The CW's superhero drama finds its Flash ahead of Season Two's première next month.
The CW have today announced a new cast member for the upcoming second season of Arrow. The channel's science-fiction superhero drama show is back for a new run from October, featuring plenty of much-loved DC superheroes and exciting twists for Oliver Queen and his own alter-ego Green Arrow.

Grant Gustin will join the programme in Season Two's eighth episode. He's best known for his role as Sebastian Smythe in the Fox musical drama Glee, yet his role on Arrow will be altogether different. Gustin will play Bart Allen, aka Justice League hero the Flash, in Episodes 8, 9 and 20, with the latter instalment currently intended as a backdoor pilot episode for a Flash spin-off show. DC Entertainment and The CW haven't confirmed whether these two shows will feed into a future Justice League movie, but if so, then a DC Cinematic Universe could begin to form right here...

Arrow returns to The CW on October 9th, with a UK broadcast to follow later in the Autumn.

Friday, 13 September 2013

Atlantis Première Date Announced

BBC One's much-anticipated new fantasy drama series débuts later this month.
The BBC have today announced the premiere broadcast date of their new fantasy television drama series Atlantis. Brought to us by the team and minds behind Merlin, this latest saga focuses on Ancient Greek mythology and its representation of the alleged 'lost' city of Atlantis which gives the programme its name.

At present, it seems as if Atlantis will broadcast relatively early on Saturday evenings so as to continue to pave the way for Strictly Come Dancing. The first season will run for thirteen episodes and thus thirteen weeks, which means that on the basis of its initial airdate, its broadcast will wrap up on December 21st (just before the Beeb's Christmas schedule gets into full swing). There is a chance that Doctor Who's 50th Anniversary Special could delay its eighth or ninth episode by a week thanks to its impressive 75-minute running time, but for now there's sufficient time for the series to find its feet with little dramatic competition during the imminent weeks ahead.

Atlantis will première its first episode on BBC One on Saturday, September 28th.

Who News: Xmas Soundtrack, Revisited Broadcasts Announced

Festive melodies galore, plus all the details on The Doctors Revisited's UK première!
BBC Worldwide and Silva Screen Records have today announced the production of Doctor Who: The Snowmen/The Doctor, The Widow and the Wardrobe- Original Television Soundtrack for release later this year. A new addition to the compilation-album series of reprisals of Murray Gold's iconic music from the show, this will mark the ninth instalment after packages based on Series 1 & 2, Series 3, Series 4, The Specials, Series 5, A Christmas Carol, Series 6 and Series 7 in recent years since the programme's return.

This time around, as the album's title suggests, Silva Screen are focused on the 2011 and 2012 Christmas Specials, The Doctor, The Widow and the Wardrobe and The Snowmen respectively. Quite why these two selections of tracks couldn't have featured in a bumper-size Series 7 boxset is beyond this writer, yet the confirmation of this release at the very least speaks wonders of the influence fans can have when they push for further releases. This Original Television Soundtrack will materialise in UK music retailers on October 21st.

In addition, Radio Times have released details on the UK broadcast of the 50th Anniversary documentary series Doctor Who: The Doctors Revisited. The twenty-two instalment standalone show focused on each of the Eleven Doctors in eleven investigative behind-the-scenes montages and eleven repeat broadcasts of a classic tale from each of their respective eras. Followers of Who have rightly been clamouring to see the series broadcast in the UK, and while it's not the BBC on duties for this particular programming slot, it's still great to see Watch take up the reigns. Radio Times are currently reporting that the series will commence its UK broadcast in the second week of October as the mounting build-up to The Day of the Doctor continues!

Doctor Who returns with its blockbuster 50th Anniversary Special, The Day of the Doctor, on BBC One and in cinemas worldwide this November 23rd.

Fable Anniversary Delayed

The solitary Xbox 360 exclusive still to come in 2013 has been shunted to early next year- sorry, folks...
Microsoft Game Studios and Lionshead Games have today confirmed a delay in the release date of their upcoming fantasy video game Fable: Anniversary. A remake of the 2003 hit RPG Fable, this Xbox 360-exclusive retail product adds achievements, a high-definition graphics engine and enhanced branching mission campaigns on top of the acclaimed Xbox original title.

While Lionshead's election to push Anniversary back is a noble one in terms of their integrity as developers eager to appease their dwindling fanbase, on the other hand it's potentially a risky turn of events for Microsoft. The publishers were keen to emphasise this Summer that the Xbox 360 will still receive exclusive retail releases between now and 2016, but with Anniversary's setback, the console now has no new exclusive outings on the horizon until after this particular year of video game entertainment.

Fable Anniversary will now retail exclusively on Xbox 360 in February 2014.

Star Wars Origins Films Announced

"Before the dark days- before the Empire..." Disney confirm we'll learn backstories in their standalone Star Wars movies.
Walt Disney Pictures have today announced the nature of their upcoming standalone Star Wars standalone movies. Revealed in April, the current release strategy for the studio's newly acquired franchise is as such: Star Wars Episode VII hits cinemas in 2015, a standalone film in 2016, Episode VIII in 2017, another solo film in 2018 and finally (for now) Episode IX will land in 2019. Ambitious as the scheme is, at least it's now apparent that Disney have a firm plan as to where to take George Lucas' beloved universe in the next six years.

Earlier in 2013, studio helm Bob Iger had this to say on the matter of the standalone films: "Larry Kasdan and Simon Kinberg [screenplay writers] are both working on films derived from great Star Wars characters that are not part of the overall saga." Rumours have been abound ever since the reveal that Han Solo and Boba Fett might be the primary focus of the two spin-off instalments. Today, though, we've had further light shed on the matter, as Disney CEO Jay Rasulo has called the standalone flicks "origin story films". If the production teams can aspire to a level of success on a par with Batman Begins in terms of redefining iconic heroes from the Star Wars franchise, then there's a strong chance that the franchise could attain a level of quality that's virtually unprecedented in a not-too-distant future that really isn't so far, far away...

Star Wars Episode VII jumps from hyperspace into cinemas worldwide in 2015.

Thursday, 12 September 2013

DWNP- Doctor Who Audio Reviews Round-Up

Three new audio dramas rated by yours truly over at Doctor Who News Page!
What with the BBC's recent unveiling of a plethora of new details and programmes for Doctor Who's 50th Anniversary, you'd be forgiven for thinking that the company's slate of celebratory audio releases would be less hectic now. Thankfully, that's far from the case, with a varied series of new releases still hitting our shores each month to expand the realms of the Whoniverse.

As ever, I've been reviewing the most prominent Doctor Who audio releases over at Doctor Who News Page. This week, it's the turn of Seventh Doctor drama Starlight Robbery (featuring the Sontarans!), Alistair Reynolds' Third Doctor audiobook Harvest of Time and the Ninth Doctor Destiny of the Doctor instalment Night of the Whisper to go under the radar. Here's our round-up of the three review links:
For all the latest Doctor Who news, features, previews and reviews, keep it On-Screen in the days ahead!

New Grand Theft Auto Online Details Debut

On the eve of Grand Theft Auto V's release, find out all there is to know about the upcoming Online update.
Rockstar Games have today released a series of new hints and details on their upcoming Grand Theft Auto Online video game experience. An additional contributory element to Grand Theft Auto V set to premiere two weeks after the product's release, Online allows up to 16 players to roam Los Santos, duke it out with arms or on the roads and partake in audacious heists together.

Courtesy of Game Informer, the studio have launched more tidbits on just what to expect in this multiplayer campaign. Here's our round-up of the key reveals:
  • The vast majority of gameplay mechanics from GTA V's main campaign- heists, races, tennis, quad biking, parachute dives, golf and more- will carry over to Online.
  • Online's narrative takes place after the events of Michael, Franklin and Trevor's dramatic exploits in Los Santos.
  • Select AI groups will offer assistance to faithful followers- security firms will call in airstrikes, biker clubs will lend fire support in battles and tech specialists will hide your character on other players' radars.
  • The first action you take in Online is to customise your character's appearance, familial and social background as he steps off a plane into the city.
  • Players can yell into their headsets during robberies to hurry the cashiers or staff up or to induce a state of enhanced fear amidst a room of hostages.
  • When multiplayer missions commence, roles in the heists and smaller objectives will be assigned based on each player's specialist preferences.
  • Don't expect just to carry all of your cash around with you in the game world- there'll be ATMs from which to collect money for your person so as to guarantee that if you're shot down, other players can't steal everything...
  • If you do manage to be robbed, though, players can place a bounty on the thief's head for others to take up for their own materialistic pleasure!
Grand Theft Auto V blasts onto Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 on September 17th. Grand Theft Auto Online releases as an update to GTA V on October 1st.

Fantastic Beasts & Where To Find Them Announced

Believe it- J.K. Rowling is writing a new spin-off film in the Harry Potter franchise!
Warner Brothers Pictures have today announced the production of Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them for release in the near future. This fantasy motion picture will be none other than a spin-off instalment in the Harry Potter franchise, and better yet will mark the beginning of an entirely new series of prequel movies for the saga.

That's by no means the best news of the day, though. Warner Brothers were additionally (rightly) proud to confirm that J.K. Rowling will pen this first big-screen entry herself. Considering that Rowling was only involved in ensuring the original eight Harry Potter films matched her artistic vision, rather than fully-fledged writing duties, for her to actively take on the role of screenplay writer here is a massive step forward. She'll be tackling a BBC adaptation of The Casual Vacancy later this year, but from this point onwards, it seems her focus will be primarily on new Potter outings!

In case the concept of adapting what was originally a fictitious textbook in the universe of the Boy Who Lived seems rather dull, Rowling confirmed a premise of sorts for the movie too. The prequel's protagonist will be Fantastic Beasts' invented author Newt Scamander, who viewers will meet in New York as he commences a journey of magical discovery. Certainly, this is admirably distinct territory from the Potter novels, and to see it rendered first in cinemas is going to be a thrilling experience.

Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them will levitate into cinemas worldwide in 2016.

Wednesday, 11 September 2013

Jurassic World Announced

The fourth instalment in the Jurassic Park franchise lands in one of the film industry's most hectic years...
Universal Pictures have today announced the production of Jurassic World for release in cinemas in the near future. The fourth instalment in the studio's fantasy prehistoric movie franchise that began with the release of Jurassic Park in 1993, this latest motion picture is directed by Colin Treverro and does not yet have any cast members attached.

Easily the biggest development announced today is that of the film's title. Jurassic World seems to imply that the catastrophic escapades of the original Jurassic Park trilogy will now move to a canvas of a far greater scale for the third sequel in the series. Due to the lack of casting announcements, it is not known for certain yet whether this is a direct continuation of the narrative last visited in Jurassic Park 3, or indeed whether a pseudo-reboot format will be established whereby a new ensemble feature in a universe which integrates into the past continuity (this is an approach seen recently in the likes of Transformers: Age of Extinction and Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides).

Jurassic World stampedes into cinemas worldwide on June 12th, 2015.

Tuesday, 10 September 2013

Doctor Who 50th Anniversary Celebrations Announced

Are you ready? Good. It's time for the 50th Anniversary countdown to begin in blazing style...
The BBC have today announced a wealth of upcoming Doctor Who 50th Anniversary celebrations set to broadcast on a vast range of mediums in the ten weeks leading up to the broadcast of the much-anticipated blockbuster 50th Anniversary Special. Here in this article, we've rounded up all of the key details you need to know on the matter(s) at hand.

Firstly, BBC One have shed further light on the 50th Anniversary Special itself. Set to broadcast on November 23rd simultaneously across the world and in cinemas, the episode will be titled The Day of the Doctor and will have a feature-length running time of 75 minutes. This running time is the joint-longest seen for an episode of Doctor Who since the show's revival in 2005, matching The End of Time Part 2's extensive 75 minutes and just eclisping Voyage of the Damned's 72 minutes in 2007. Don't fret over this, seeing as the only singular story which reached a lengthier running time was The Five Doctors and we'd much rather have a story with a minimal amount of excess 'fat' on it come November. The first full poster for the episode can be seen at the bottom of this article.

That's by no means all, though- indeed, it's just the top of the metaphorical iceberg. The BBC One Facebook team have kindly provided us with an extensive and (virtually) complete list of 50th Anniversary special broadcasts. It is not fully complete, as another BBC Three Special has been commissioned. What's here, however, is a pretty comprehensive summary of the grand extent of the show's celebratory programmes coming up:
  • Brian Cox delves into the realms of Doctor Who with a lecture documentary at the Royal Institution of Great Britain exploring the feasibility of time travel, extraterresterial life and other concepts posed on the sci-fi show. (BBC Two)
  • The Culture Show presents its own 60-minute special in Me, You and Doctor Who. Presented by Matthew Sweet, the one-off episode deals with the cultural influence of Who in the past half-century and the great legends of its creation. (BBC Two)
  • Mark Gatiss' biopic drama An Adventure In Space and Time focuses on the inception and early days of making the show. The 90-minute movie stars David Bradley as William Hartnell along with other acclaimed British actors including Jessica Raine, Brian Cox, William Russell and Carole Ann Ford. (BBC Two)
  • Doctor Who's first ever story, An Unearthly Child, will broadcast in four parts on the BBC for the first time in nearly two decades! (BBC Four)
  • Blue Peter special episodes will celebrate the relationship of Doctor Who with its original target audience over the past 50 years, including interviews with the show's stars new and old including Matt Smith, Jenna Coleman and Sylvester McCoy. (CBBC)
  • The Doctor Who: Monsters & Villains Weekend will be something of a live event, intended to get fans involved as a series of broadcasts ask us which monster is the all-time greatest menace to appear on Doctor Who...(BBC Three)
  • For relative newcomers who need a place to start, a new broadcast of the US programme Doctor Who: The Ultimate Guide may help those new fans find their feet before The Day of the Doctor premieres! (BBC Three)
  • Who Is The Doctor?, a radio documentary that focuses on the lasting impact of Doctor Who in the past 50 years and why it still remains a worldwide success. (BBC Radio 2)
  • The Blagger's Guide to Doctor Who takes a more satirical approach, as David Quantick poses such persistent queries as why some Americans think that Tom Baker is still the Doctor...(BBC Radio 2)
  • Graham Norton takes us to the Doctor Who Celebration Convention in London for a three-hour experience of the convention and a catch-up with the series' stars and its fanbase! (BBC Radio 2)
  • A documentary looking at the evolution of 'TROCK' (Time Lord Rock) over the years since Doctor Who's revival in 2005. (BBC Radio 1)
  • Who Made Who? investigates the world as it stood in 1963, and how that world influenced Doctor Who's inception and its initial adventures. (BBC Radio 4)
  • Doctor Who: The Doctors Revisited, a twenty two-episode series featuring eleven specials focusing on the Eleven Doctors and eleven repeat broadcasts of classic Who stories. The regularity of these impending broadcasts has yet to be confirmed. (Non-BBC Channel)
Doctor Who returns with its blockbuster 50th Anniversary Special, The Day of the Doctor, on BBC One and in cinemas worldwide on November 23rd.

Pirates of the Caribbean 5 Delayed

As one Disney film rises, another must falter- all the latest on Jack Sparrow's fifth instalment!
Walt Disney Pictures have today announced a delay in the release date of their upcoming fantasy historical film Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales. The studio's decision to push back the latest instalment in Jerry Bruckheimer and Gore Verbinski's Pirates franchise has been confirmed on the same day as their announcement that Ant-Man will premiere three months earlier than expected.

There's seemingly more to the situation than Disney favouring their Marvel Cinematic Universe, though. Pirates lead star Johnny Depp has a hectic schedule in the years ahead with both Into The Woods and Through The Looking Glass on the horizon. The American icon has in addition only recently completed production on The Lone Ranger earlier this year, so it comes as little surprise that Johnny perhaps needs a small break between motion pictures.

Of course, Dead Man Tell No Tales now marks the first motion picture to shy away from its intended 2015 release date. The likeliehood of such a development for at least one or two major blockbusters set for release that year seemed inevitable, especially given that The Fantastic Four, Star Wars Episode VII, Ted 2, Ant-Man, Superman Vs Batman, The Avengers: Age of Ultron, Bond 24 and The Hunger Games: Mockingjay- Part 2 are all set for release in the course of 2015's twelve months. Now it only remains for us to discover whether other motion pictures follow suit and high-tail it out of 2015 before they're crushed in the onslaught...

Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales will now sail into cinemas worldwide in Summer 2016.