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Thursday, 25 June 2015

Spider-Man MCU Reboot Lead Star & Director Confirmed

Image Source: Crave Online
"Spider-Man, Spider-Man, does whatever an Avenger can!" Catchy, right? Moving on...
Marvel Studios and Sony Pictures have this week revealed who'll be taking on the leading role in their impending revival of the Spider-Man film franchise as well as the director who'll take control of proceedings behind the cameras.

As announced earlier this year, Peter Parker's much-loved web-slinging alter-ego will swing his way into the Marvel Cinematic Universe in the near future via an appearance in next May's Captain America: Civil War and a subsequent standalone motion picture themed around the Webbed Wonder (the official title of which has yet to be officially announced, although The Spectacular Spider-Man and Spider-Man: The First Avenger are by far the most heavily rumoured candidates).

Yet for many, the matter of precisely when and where everyone's favourite wise-cracking protagonist would appear was of far less interest until now than the mystery of who'd take on the iconic red-and-blue mantle come 2016 and beyond. Enter Tom Holland, a British thespian whose past work has included performances in the likes of The Impossible (an Oscar-nominated 2013 motion picture which starred none other than Star Wars' Ewan McGregor), Wolf Hall (every episode of which is available to watch on BBC iPlayer now free of charge, or so we hear) and even Billy Elliot the Musical over on the West End. In terms of sheer cinematic prestige, Holland's rumoured competitors for this pivotal role such as Asa Butterfield - of Merlin and Ender's Game fame - could be argued as trumping him somewhat, but given that MCU head honcho Kevin Feige was directly involved in the overall casting proceedings, and given too that both Chris Evans and Robert Downey Jr. apparently tested alongside Holland so as to assess his viability for Civil War, chances are that those who're currently fretting over his suitability can rest relatively easy in the days to come.

What's more, we've also caught wind of the identity of Spider-Man: The New Avenger (as we'll henceforth refer to the film in question until we hear otherwise from an official source)'s helmsman, and suffice to say that like Holland, it's not a name that tonnes of the mainstream cinematic audience are going to be significantly familiar with. Once Jon Watts has wrapped up production on this much-discussed project, though, he'll likely have no problems finding work again, especially in light of the immense popularity of his previous visual texts such as Clown, Onion News Network and the soon-to-be released motion picture known as Cop Car. This writer can't confess to have experienced any of those aforementioned works for himself as of yet, but on the whole, those who're familiar with Watts' contribution to the entertainment industry so far appear to agree that he's as fine - if as presently minor - a candidate as anyone to take the helm here, thus allowing fans the world over to breathe a sigh of relief in the realisation that at this juncture, the entire franchise may well reside in safer hands than ever before.

True to form, Feige and company have already provided a range of comments regarding Holland's casting, Watts' appointment and the overall future of Spider-Man as a big-screen construct (or rather a faithful adaptation of a printed character, at the very least), and rather than forcing you to scour the interwebs in search of said quotations, dear reader, we've collated each and every one of those words below:

  • KEVIN FEIGE (MARVEL STUDIOS PRESIDENT) ON WATTS' POTENTIAL - "As with James Gunn, Joss Whedon, and the Russo brothers [the talented directors behind Guardians of the Galaxy, Avengers Assemble and Captain America: The Winter Soldier respectively], we love finding new and exciting voices to bring these characters to life. We spent a lot of time with Jon and find his take and work inspiring."
  • AMY PASCAL (EXECUTIVE PRODUCER) ON HOLLAND'S APPOINTMENT - "Sony, Marvel, Kevin and I all knew that for Peter Parker, we had to find a vibrant, talented young actor capable of embodying one of the most well-known characters in the world. With Tom, we've found the perfect actor to bring Spider-Man's story into the Marvel Cinematic Universe."
  • FEIGE ON POTENTIAL AVENGERS CROSSOVERS IN THE 2017 STANDALONE FILM - "Specifics of the [reboot's] story aside, the agreement that has been made between Sony and Marvel [details on which can be found right here] is that we could do that."
  • FEIGE ON FUTURE SOLO SPIDER-MAN OUTINGS - "Well, we're [Marvel Studios] producing it for Sony. [...] [We're trying to] make the best version now of Spider-Man and a version [...] that inhabits this universe that we've created. We're in lockstep with Tom Rothman [the chairman of Sony's big-screen division] and Amy Pascal at every turn."
Tom Holland will make his début in the MCU as Spidey himself on May 6th, 2016 with the release of Captain America: Civil War, after which Spider-Man: The First Avenger will crawl up the nearest skyscraper and into cinemas worldwide on July 28th, 2017.

More Doctor Who Season Nine Production Details Unveiled

Image Source: Crave Online
Filming on the Doctor's latest adventures is nearing its conclusion, but the moment has clearly been prepared for!
Doctor Who Magazine have today revealed new information regarding the production of the ninth season of the BBC's hit science-fiction drama Doctor Who.

Scheduled to broadcast this Autumn, the next run of time-travelling escapades will once again star Peter Capaldi in the role of Theta-Sigma (better known to the wider cosmos as the Doctor, of course) and Jenna Coleman as his faithful travelling companion Clara Oswald as the pair of intergalactic voyagers visit new worlds and new eras of history galore.

Ever since the programme's return back in 2005, DWM have been privy to all kinds of exclusive details surrounding Who's immediate future and whilst their latest aforementioned scoop doesn't quite match up to the heady days of the publication exclusively revealing Martha and Donna's Season Four returns just seven or so years ago, given the lack of recent details regarding Season Nine's structure, British Whovians will doubtless take what they can get at this point. The full write-up can of course be found in Issue 488 - out now in WHSmith and various other worthy newsagents - yet to save our readership some valuable time, effort and (most importantly) cash, we've rounded up the key Season Nine details into one comprehensive list below:
  • Written by series newcomer Sarah Dollard, the as-of-yet untitled Episode 10 is nearing the end of its shooting schedule. Little is known regarding its overall narrative - as is admittedly the case with just about every instalment of Season Nine's storyline(s) so far - save for that Rigsy, a character who was first introduced in last year's "Flatline" courtesy of up-and-coming thespian Jovian Wade, will feature in proceedings in some unknown capacity.
  • Once Episode 10's done and dusted, it's onto the two-part season finale for the Who production team. Suffice to say that specifics about this particular adventure are nowhere to be found amongst DWM's coverage, although that Michelle Gomez's Missy is set to return in the opening two-parter of this year's run could suggest that she'll make at least one additional appearance as her oldest foe's ninth set of interplanetary exploits reaches its denouement.
  • Whereas most shooting schedules would save the most ambitious instalment (a category into which, it would seem safe to say, the series finale usually fits with ease) for last, however, for reasons unknown it'll in fact be Episode 9 which rounds out proceedings behind-the-scenes. For one reason or another, DWM weren't at liberty to disclose which fortunate writer had the chance to pen this currently secretive outing, but given that Mark Gatiss has teased a storyline of some kind for this year's series, it's not outside the realms of possibility that he was at the helm in this instance, nor is it entirely unlikely that Episodes 9 and 10 will find themselves loosely tied together so as to ensure that Season Nine comprises wholly of two-part tales as previously promised by the show's central execs.
Doctor Who will burst back onto BBC One for a dozen weeks' worth of temporal (not to mention spatial) exploration this Autumn, but until then, the 488th edition of Doctor Who Magazine is available now (at a healthy RRP of £4.99) in all good newsagents.

Sunday, 14 June 2015

RIP Christopher Lee (1922-2015)

Image Source: The Independent
A brief tribute to the 93-year-old thespian who brought characters like Dracula and Saruman to life with enviable ease.
It is with immense sadness that we must today (belatedly) report the passing of Christopher Lee, who died after a battle with heart problems on the morning of Sunday, June 7th.

What surely separated Lee from most other cinematic actors of his generation was the longevity of his time spent in the limelight of the film industry and indeed the esteem in which he was constantly held throughout his tenure as an A-list performer, regardless of the overall quality (or occasional lack thereof, though the merits of his own contributions were of course never in question) of the countless works in which he appeared.

To those averse to the realms of filmic fantasy and science-fiction, Lee's name mightn't immediately bring to mind many iconic performance. In that case, suffice to say that his performances in a wealth of best-selling motion pictures including The Lord of the Rings, The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies, Dracula, The Wicker Man, Star Wars Episode II: Attack of the Clones, (Tim Burton's) Alice in Wonderland, Dark Shadows and several other esteemed works (of which there are far too many to even attempt to list in a single article) never failed to captivate the viewer, nor to ensure that once the late British actor graced our screen, our recollection of the scene in question would be primarily dominated by his influence upon proceedings.

For yours truly, this rightly revered icon will be best remembered for his oft-forgotten presence in Burton's divisive 2005 adaptation of Roald Dahl's Charlie and the Charlie Factory, not least since while the piece of cinema in question was laden with generic constructs (largely as a result of the child-orientated tone of the source material), predictable plot twists and unnecessarily convoluted character arcs, Lee's performance as Wonka's strict yet ultimately compassionate father added a previously unprecedented layer of emotional depth to a screen translation which might otherwise have proven completely underwhelming. That this stunning turn represents but a singular example of the man's seemingly endless array of accomplished contributions to his industry is of course testament to his similarly infinite capabilities and therefore the degree to which he'll be (justifiably) missed in days and years to come, not only by his relatives - all of whom our thoughts are with in this period of immeasurable grief - but by the wealth of followers who Lee inspired over the course of the ninety-three years he spent in our company on this mortal plane.

We'll be fascinated as always to hear your thoughts on Lee's remarkably extensive filmography and indeed which of his performances proved most inspiring to our readers here or on the usual social networking forums (incidentally, head here to follow us on Facebook or here to follow our Twitter coverage of all of the latest developments in entertainment news). For now, though, join us in sending our very best wishes to the friends and family of Christopher as they strive to cherish the time they each spent in his oh-so-esteemed company, then if you've got the time, take a look below at the brief yet poignant tribute video which YouTube user ElliotUnleashed crafted after news of this tragic passing broke last week.

First Daredevil Season Two Recurring Cast Member Announced

Image Source: Twitter (@Daredevil)
Try as he might, the First Defender can't take down his foes without incurring a severe punishment, it would seem.
Marvel Studios' TV division has this week confirmed the first recurring cast member set to feature in the second season of their ongoing Netflix superhero drama Marvel's Daredevil.

Based in the (mostly) expansive confines of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, this Charlie Cox-starring series marks but the first step in a larger journey for the two studios, both of whom have already voiced their intent for shows such as Marvel's Jessica Jones and Marvel's Luke Cage to pave the way for a team-up series called The Defenders, the latter of which would effectively act as a small-screen version of Marvel's Avengers Assemble if placed in the right director's confident hands.

Before all of that, though, there's at least another season of Daredevil to come, and whilst the programme's head honchos would be nothing short of fools if they refused to bring back Vincent D'Onofrio's much-loved antagonist figure Wilson Fisk, Season One's primary antagonist evidently won't be alone this time around. Enter Jon Bernthal, an up-and-coming thespian whose work in productions such as The Wolf of Wall Street (and The Accountant, a new big-screen thriller starring Ben Affleck set for release next year) has apparently earned him the multi-episode role of renowned mercenary-for-hire the Punisher. Naturally, the extent of the presence of Frank Castle's bloodthirsty alter-ego will only become completely apparent once Season Two rolls around early next year, but suffice to say that the character has a long history in Marvel's comic-books as a ruthless yet inherently uprighteous figure whose ends usually justify his means (at least from his perspective).

Given Bernthal's ever-rising prominence and indeed the beloved status of the Punisher (which, surprisingly, hasn't been diminished by the pair of dire film adaptations which landed in cinemas during the 2000s), it's little wonder that Jeph Loeb, the resident boss of Marvel's TV sector, has plenty to say on the subject and as ever, we've rounded up both the most significant parts of his comments as well as the official précis used to describe the impact Castle will have on the lives of Matt Murdock (aka Daredevil) and those around him upon his arrival in Hell's Kitchen ("nothing" will supposedly be "the same" once Castle's done, perhaps indicating that a key supporting character such as Foggy Nelson or Karen Page - who is certainly no longer with readers in the comics - might bite the Punisher's bullet next Spring):

  • MARVEL.COM ON THE PUNISHER'S ROLE IN SEASON TWO - "He is a vigilante who aims to clean up New York City's Hell's Kitchen by any means necessary, no matter how lethal the results."
  • JEPH LOEB ON BERNTHAL & HIS NEW ROLE - "Jon Bernthal brings an unmatched intensity to every role he takes on, with a potent blend of power, motivation and vulnerability that will connect with audiences. Castle's appearance will bring dramatic changes to the world of Matt Murdock and nothing will be the same."
Marvel's Daredevil will return for a second season of blood-drenched escapades exclusively on Netflix in 2016.

New 'Halo 5: Guardians' Plot Details Confirmed

Image Source: Gotta Be Mobile
Shadows of the past threaten to wholly consume the Master Chief as he mourns his lost allies...
Game Informer have this week provided the world with a much-needed additional insight into the narrative of Microsoft Game Studios and 343 Industries' upcoming science-fiction video game Halo 5: Guardians.

The fifth main chapter in Microsoft's beloved ongoing franchise of first-person-shooters, which is expected to be revealed in greater detail via a game-play demo of some kind at the Electronic Entertainment Expo (E3) this coming week, was first announced at E3 2014 in the form of a remarkable CGI trail that teased protagonist the Master Chief's quest to move past his AI companion Cortana's demise, yet since that impactful opening preview, we've seen next to nothing barring a couple of further gameplay-free videos (both of which can be relived below) focusing on the Chief and a Spartan warrior known as Locke who's intent on hunting his prey down sooner rather than later.

What with E3 being just around the corner, more plot details are sure to surface in just a few days' time, but until then, Game Informer's cover article on Guardians certainly more than suffices as a worthy alternative. Rather than forcing the Halo-worshipping members of our readership to plough through an entire magazine article for the key narrative tidbits that they're seeking, though, we've instead rounded up all of the vital bits of information into one comprehensive list of bullet points, all of which are available for the inhabitants of this humble planet (and indeed the rest of the Nine Realms) to see for themselves below:

  • Whilst on the run from Agent Locke, the Master Chief will band together with a squadron of SPARTAN-II soldiers known collectively as Blue Team, each of whom are doubtless well known to those Halo devotees who've read some of the franchise's various tie-in novels such as Halo: Fall of Reach, Halo: Ghosts of Onyx and / or Halo: Glasslands. More notable still is the new gameplay feature which enables the Chief to issue commands to his team-mates (though once other players are introduced into the equation via the core campaign's co-op options, this particular aspect of Guardians will retreat into the metaphorical shadows temporarily).
  • On the opposing side of the playing field will stand Jameson Locke, whose début in last year's Halo: Nightfall will most likely pale in comparison to the journey that lies ahead of him and his back-up, Fireteam Osiris (one member of whom is none other than Edward Buck, an ex-ODST who first appeared in the 2009 spin-off video game Halo 3: ODST and who's once again voiced by Firefly's very own Nathan Fillion here). As was the case with Halo 2 (which allowed its audience to control both the Chief and his foe-turned-accomplice the Arbiter), players will have the opportunity to adopt the mantles of Locke and the Chief; however, the regularity with which control will shift between these two warring defenders of galactic justice has yet to be officially confirmed.
  • What's not in question, however, is the extent to which the untimely passing of Cortana (aka the Chief's trusted artificial partner-in-crime, the demise of whom has seemingly prompted the aforementioned SPARTAN hero to take leave of the United Nations Space Command) in 2012's Halo 4 will have a bearing on John-117's already-fragile psyche from here on out. Yes, as if his indoctrination (of sorts) at the hands of Doctor Catherine Halsey as a youngling wasn't enough to send his mind through the rabbit hole and beyond, the Chief's soul will most likely find itself put through the wringer once again as Locke gives chase and forces both John and Blue Team to presumably tackle their individual psychological demons in the process of their sure-to-be explosive confrontation.
Once Microsoft's (hopefully) revelatory E3 2015 press conference is done and dusted on June 15th at 3pm GMT, fans won't have long left to wait until the Chief's greatest battle comes to light, since Halo 5: Guardians will blast exclusively onto Xbox One this October 27th.

First Spectre TV Spot Released

Image Source: Tarka News
Bond is Back...in 30 seconds of footage we've already seen and 30 seconds of blink-and-you'll-miss-it action set-pieces!
Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer and Columbia Pictures have this week revealed the first official TV trailer for their upcoming action-adventure motion picture Spectre.

The twenty-fourth instalment in the aforementioned pair of Hollywood studios' long-running saga of (increasingly loose yet somehow increasingly accomplished) adaptations of Ian Fleming's James Bond novels, Spectre has long been rumoured to herald the return of Agent 007's most nefarious adversary, Blofield, a character who (if the reports surrounding his presence are to be believed, at least) will this time be portrayed by Django Unchained's Christoph Waltz.

Unfortunately, closure on this particular front clearly won't arrive until either a later point in the movie in question's marketing campaign or indeed until its official release date in five or so months' time. What Spectre's début TV spot (below) lacks in meaty revelations, however, it more than compensates for with glimpses aplenty both at footage which premièred in March's teaser trail as well as a handful of shots clearly intended to tease some of the piece's grander action-orientated moments, though one has to assume that the post-production team will need a few months more yet before they're willing to showcase what lies in store on this front in any great detail. Regardless, it's another tantalising preview - in no small part thanks to the appearance of the iconic Aston Martin in its latest form - that's all but guaranteed to whet the appetite of those fanboys and fangirls who've been dying to hear the words "Bond. James Bond." uttered once more ever since Skyfall made its indelible mark on the world's collective consciousness just two short years ago.

Spectre will unravel the secrets that England's finest secret agent once hoped to conceal forever on November 6th in UK cinemas nationwide.

Tuesday, 9 June 2015

LEGO Marvel's Avengers Teaser Trailer Revealed

Source: Xbox Live
Because who wouldn't want to relive Avengers Assemble and Avengers: Age of Ultron in brick form, really?
TT Games and Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment have today premièred the début trailer for their recently-announced platforming video game LEGO Marvel's Avengers.

A spiritual successor of sorts to 2013's LEGO Marvel Superheroes, the umpteenth instalment in Traveller's Tales' long-running line of licensed adaptations of hit film franchises will render the events of both 2012's Marvel's Avengers Assemble and this April's Marvel's Avengers: Age of Ultron in the same brilliantly comedic slapstick light that has reaped the LEGO series such acclaim ever since its official launch with LEGO Star Wars a decade or so ago.

Unlike its immediate predecessor, however, this one's showing more signs of series fatigue than those who were expecting TT's next-generation renaissance to kick off here might have anticipated. Whereas LEGO Marvel Superheroes took players to Asgard, Asteroid M, the Raft and beyond, the inevitable result of the Marvel Cinematic Universe's two ensemble motion pictures largely confining their action to New York City and other identikit locations (the rather visually drab Hellicarrier included) appears to be that LEGO Marvel's Avengers could find itself somewhat lacking from the perspective of pure graphical inspiration.

Provided that the writing team can inject the correct level of unadulterated comedy and structural innovation into their narrative and game-play, chances are that the majority of consumers will still discover enough to love here to warrant a purchase, Given the calibre of products sure to be on offer next week at E3, however, not to mention the competition TT will face in the coming months as the Autumn of Gaming rears its release-packed head once more, coming out with a disconcertingly unoriginal preview of this ilk at this particular moment mightn't have been one of the developer's stronger conceits.

LEGO Marvel's Avengers assembles (literally, in this case) on Xbox One, Xbox 360, PlayStation 4, PlayStation 3, Nintendo WiiU, Nintendo 3DS and PC via UK retailers nationwide this Winter.

First Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice Plot Synopsis Released

Image Source: Wikipedia
Ben Affleck's Caped Crusader has a bone to pick with Henry Cavill's Man of Steel, the reason for which is rooted in the latter's recent past.
Warner Bros. Pictures have today published the first official plot synopsis for their impending superhero crossover blockbuster Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice.

Better known to some diehard fans as the second instalment in DC Entertainment's counterpart to the Marvel Cinematic Universe, Dawn of Justice picks up where Man of Steel left off in the Summer of 2013, depicting a monumental clash of the titans as the titular Dark Knight (now played by Gone Girl's Ben Affleck after Christian Bale's departure in The Dark Knight Rises) faces off against the Kryptonian protagonist (once again portrayed by Immortals' Henry Cavill) in the wake of the destruction caused by the latter hero's grudge-match with General Zod in Metropolis.

One would justifiably hope that the motivation behind this battle of pure brawn would be something more substantial than a Loki-esque manipulation conceived by these two behemoths' foes and sure enough, helmer Zack Snyder has come up with a meaty dilemma with which to power the unquenchable fury of both Affleck's allegedly wizened detective and Cavill's saviour-in-training. What's more, if hints of "a new threat" which could have far more dangerous implications for Metropolis and Gotham alike are anything to go by, then the confrontation which gives the piece its name could be little more than a set-up for a far greater war of the worlds (of DC).

Here's the full synopsis as promised: "Fearing the actions of a god-like super hero left unchecked, Gotham City's own formidable, forceful vigilante takes on Metropolis' most revered, modern-day savior, while the world wrestles with what sort of hero it really needs. And with Batman and Superman at war with one another, a new threat quickly arises, putting mankind in greater danger than it's ever known before." Given the foreboding tone of April's concise teaser trail, it's little wonder that we'll find the world contemplating its desired protector(s) come Dawn of Justice's opening sequence, but if nothing else, at least Metropolis appears to still be on its supposed "savior"'s side from the outset; now all that remains is for the remainder of DC's incarnation of the planet Earth to follow suit (or not, as the case may well be!).

Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice brings Cavill, Affleck, Gal Gadot (Wonder Woman), Jason Momoa (Aquaman), Ray Fisher (Cyborg), Jessie Eisenberg (Lex Luthor), Amy Adams (Lois Lane), Laurence Fishburne (Perry White) and a plethora of other big-screen A-listers together for a comic-book adaptation quite unlike any other on March 25th, 2016.

The Hunger Games: Mockingjay - Part 2 Teaser Trailer Released

The Hunger Games: Mockingly - Part 2
War comes to Panem for a second catastrophic time as the best-selling saga concludes this November.
Lionsgate have today unveiled the official teaser trailer for their upcoming dystopian fantasy motion picture The Hunger Games: Mockingjay - Part 2 to the world at large.

Set directly after the events of last November's The Hunger Games: Mockingjay - Part 1, this much-anticipated final instalment's narrative chronicles the explosive final battle between Katniss Everdeen's ever-growing legion of vengeful rebels and the increasingly ruthless President Snow, whose tyranny only recently transformed Katniss' comrade Peeta into a seemingly psychologically warped shadow of his former self.

As has long been expected given the action-centric nature of the second half of Suzanne Collins' final Hunger Games novel, Part 2 looks set to boast far more in the way of high-octane set-pieces than its predecessor or indeed than either 2012's The Hunger Games or 2014's Catching Fire. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows - Part 2 proved way back in 2011 that more thrills can come at the expense of genuine heart, of course, yet based on this particular franchise's historical precedent (not to mention the sustained presence of accomplished thespians such as the late Philip Seymour Hoffman, Elizabeth Banks, Julianne Moore and Game of Thrones veteran Gwendoline Christie in the aforementioned marketing material), there's ample reason to believe that an increase in the ante of proceedings won't so much weaken the overall piece as lend its storyline a much-needed sense of momentum akin to that clearly propelling Katniss into battle this time around.

The Hunger Games: Mockingjay - Part 2 will launch its revolutionary campaign in UK cinemas nationwide (as well as across the rest of the globe) this November 20th.