Australian actor Chris Hemsworth returns as the muscle bound Norse God with a great big hammer in Marvel’s Thor: The Dark World. The superhero dominance of Hollywood continues unchecked. I've lost count of the number of comic book inspired movies that have arrived or are about to. From Captain America to X-Men, there’s no end in sight. Surprisingly, given their number, almost all have been worthy of attention, and Thor: The Dark World is no exception. The first Thor adventure, directed by Kenneth Branagh, was a dramatic and humorous ride that deserved its critical praise and wide appeal, introducing Thor as a rejected son, banished to Earth by Odin, the Allfather of the Gods. While trying to hang onto his powerful hammer and fighting off colossal, Earth destroying robots, Thor eventually learnt humility and grace.
Monsters: Dark Continent is the sequel to first time director Gareth Edwards' brilliant alien invasion story, Monsters, released in 2010. You can read our Monsters review here. This time round Edwards has handed over writing and directing duties to first time director Tom Green and writer Jay Basu as he is busy working on a big budget Godzilla remake (I would have preferred to see him direct Monsters 2 instead - how many Godzillas do we need?).
If you are as old as I am (ancient), you may remember a classic space trading and exploration game called Elite, first released in 1984. The creation of Cambridge University undergraduates David Braben and Ian Bell, Elite was an iconic, computer gaming masterpiece. I was surprised and happy to discover last week that a modern follow up called Elite: Dangerous is being developed, a revitalized, enhanced version using the latest computing technology. After watching the development videos, reading the detailed plans, viewing awe-inspiring images and checking out game play footage of what has already been achieved, I'm blown away, enthusiastic about a computer game for the first time in years (being over 40, I'm not sure this is allowed).
Three years have passed since Jonathan Stroud conjured up the last instalment in his diabolically good Bartimaeus Sequence, but our wait for another ripping yarn is soon to end. I was a latecomer to Stroud’s fiction – it wasn’t until the publication of the final novel in the Bartimaeus Sequence that I stumbled across it – and I was instantly captivated by his masterful storytelling and delightful wit and above all his genius for taking desiccated conventions and breathing new life into them.
The first trailer for The Desolation of Smaug, film two in Peter Jackson's The Hobbit Trilogy, has arrived and whatever else can be said about Jackson's adaptation of Tolkien's beloved novel, this trailer presents an unquestionably lavish and captivating vision. Alongside familiar faces from An Unexpected Journey, we're introduced to Tauriel (Evangeline Lilly) a woodland Elf (created by Jackson and Co.) and Bard the Bowman of Dale (Luke Evans); we also get a better look at Thranduil (Lee Pace) the Elvenking, father of one Legolas Greenleaf (Orlando Bloom) who once more leaps into the fray. Best of all however we get a good glimpse of the dragon Smaug.
Is there anything to say about the Mad Max Trilogy that hasn't already been said in the thirty four years since audiences first thrilled to the deep rumble and furious roar of the last of the V8 Interceptors? Now there was a sound to strike fear into the hearts of the feral punks reaving their way along the outback highways of a society in full-throttle decline to an apocalyptic abyss! The movies have been reviewed and critiqued extensively and their influence and legacy have been acknowledged far and wide, so, to answer my own question, there’s probably not much more to say.
The end of the world appears to be a popular topic for comedians on both sides of the Atlantic, with not one, but two apocalyptic comedy films heading into theatres this year. The first from the UK is The World's End, the final part of Simon Pegg, Edgar Wright (Director) and Nick Frost's Three Flavours Cornetto Trilogy (also referred to as the Blood and Ice Cream Trilogy). Pegg, Wright and Frost's zombie film Shaun of the Dead and the police satire Hot Fuzz were parts 1 and 2 of the trilogy.
The Mars Curiosity rover wandering about on the Martian surface appears to have captured photographic evidence of a rat living on Mars. The claim was made in an article posted on the UFO Sightings Daily website. A journalist for UFO Sightings Daily came to his conclusion after he had carefully examined pictures posted on NASA's official web page, pictures taken by the Curiosity rover.
Finally some news about Ridley Scott's Blade Runner sequel we first mentioned back in August 2011. The 1982 science fiction classic has grown in stature over the years and when Ridley Scott first announced he was working on a sequel, science fiction enthusiasts everywhere held their collective breathes. Now there's a new writer on board and a very real possibility that Harrison Ford will make an appearance in the sequel, reprising his role as replicant bounty hunter Rick Deckard according to The Wrap. It looks like Ridley Scott is finally moving forward with the project. If he would return my calls, I'd tell him to forget the Prometheus sequel and tackle Blade Runner 2 instead.
The BBC has announced that Matt Smith, the actor who has played the Doctor in Doctor Who for the last four years, is leaving the show. Speculation will no doubt begin regarding his replacement. Given that the BBC first cast Christopher Eccleston for Doctor Who's revival (in his 40s in 2005), followed by David Tennant (in his 30s), and then Matt Smith (in his 20s), no doubt we'll be seeing a teenage high school student saving the universe this time next year (Justin Bieber perhaps?) At this rate, a small baby will be flying the Tardis within ten years' time. The entire Tardis will have to be rebuilt and scripts altered as the BBC tries to target the children's market. Baby Daleks and tiny Cybermen will battle the Doctor in an electronic pram. The Doctor's sonic screwdriver will be replaced by a sonic dummy.
While the science fiction epic The Chronicles of Riddick (2004) did not perform as well as expected in the box office (even though it was superior to the original), star Vin Diesel and writer/ director David Twohy are back for a third Riddick chapter. Riddick 3 follows Pitch Black (2000) and the Chronicles of Riddick (2004). Left for dead on a desert planet, Riddick fights for survival against alien predators far more vicious than any human.
Last night I saw the new Star Trek: Into Darkness directed by J.J. Abrams. First up: like its predecessor Star Trek (2009), this is not an intellectual film. If you're expecting existential questions like Star Trek: The Next Generation's The Measure of a Man, or even in-your-face allegories like Star Trek's A Private Little War, you're out of your Vulcan mind.
Tom Cruise plays drone repairman Jack Harper in Oblivion, a stunning visual feast from the director of Tron: Legacy, Joseph Kosinski. In this post apocalyptic science fiction epic, the world as we know it has changed radically since a devastating war with an alien race called the Scavs. Humans were victorious, but the world is no longer habitable, most of humanity now living on Titan, a moon of Saturn. With his partner Victoria Olsen (Andrea Riseborough) as backup, he patrols the skies, fixing drones that guard and maintain huge water processing plants that send water and energy back to Titan to help keep the human colony going.
After many false starts and a troubled development, the film adaptation of Orson Scott Card's classic science fiction novel Ender's Game finally has its first trailer. While my expectations were low, the trailer is a good one. The question is, can they turn the novel into a film that is as good as the book? The film and novel are set in a future Earth. The human race has only just survived two wars with an insect race called the "Buggers". To combat the continued threat, the world's most talented children are gathered together and trained using tactical games in a specially prepared Battle School that orbits the Earth. Ender Wiggin (Asa Butterfield) is one the Battle School's most promising students, displaying amazing tactical ability.
As Lt. Col. James Rhodes might say (privately at least), Iron Man 3 rox. The first cab off the rank since Joss Whedon's The Avengers, Iron Man 3 is a worthy addition to the Marvel stable. There's no surprise that it fails to measure up to the ensemble magnificence of The Avengers - and really, what could other than The Avengers 2? - but even so, this third Iron Man movie is at least as good as the two that preceded it, and it sets a high benchmark in a year in which we'll see sequels to Thor and Captain America.
A reporter from The Verge takes Google's upcoming Google Glass device for a test run. Google has confirmed that augmented reality eyewear will be released before the end of 2013. Yes, you read that correctly, that's this year (assuming you're not reading this article in 2014 of course). Are you ready for a wearable computing device that records video, takes photos and responds to your voice? Or are you one of the many concerned about the privacy implications that wearable devices will create when they hit mainstream consumers? Either way, check out the video for a glance at a fast approaching future.
In November last year the BBC quietly announced plans to adapt Susanna Clarke’s multi-award winning novel, Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell, as a mini-series of 6 hour long episodes. The BBC broke the news so quietly in fact that we missed the announcement of what could well be a television highlight of 2014.
Disney has sent us a few character posters from The Lone Ranger for your viewing pleasure. Johnny Depp stars as Tonto and Armie Hammer is the title character. Helena Bonham Carter (a frequent Johnny Depp collaborator) is also on board as Red Harrington. The Lone Ranger is directed by Gore Verbinski and based on the American Old West character serials of the same name. Not really sure what to make of this one. This could be very silly or very funny - or both perhaps? There are two trailers for you to watch after the character posters.
In Neill Blomkamp's Elysium, his second film after the science fiction classic District 9, the year is 2159 and two classes of people exist: the very wealthy living on a luxurious, man-made (and beautifully landscaped) space station called Elysium, and the poor and downtrodden, who live on an overpopulated, ruined Earth. Crime and poverty make life on Earth a nightmare and anti-immigration laws and a well-armed elite keep the majority trapped, cut off from state of the art medical treatment and a luxurious lifestyle they can barely imagine.
After the amazing X-Men: First Class starring James McAvoy and Michael Fassbender, my interest in returning to the X-Men universe is at all time high. Next up is a Marvel Comics solo adventure starring Hugh Jackman as Logan in The Wolverine. Logan is drawn to Japan by a mysterious figure from his past. The Wolverine trailers suggest he helped this man survive one of the nuclear blasts at the end of World War 2. The man offers Logan a gift to repay his help - the gift of mortality. The trailers hint that all is not as it should be and complicated challenges await, with plenty of sword wielding Samurai and rooftop train battles to maintain the momenteum. This story in the second Wolverine film, X-Men Origins - Wolverine was the first, and is set sometime after the events depicted in X-Men: The Last Stand.