No, February isn't going to be a busy month for entertainment, but there are going to be more than a few exciting announcements and releases coming up. Here's just some of the stuff due for On-Screen:
NEWS- All the latest on Doctor Who; Sherlock; Batman Arkham City; Smallville; the Game Developer's Conference and the Avengers.
PREVIEWS- I take advance looks at Bulletstorm; Homefront; LEGO Star Wars III and dozens of new games and films still to come!
REVIEWS- I Am Number Four; Kirby's Epic Yarn; Bulletstorm; Marvel VS Capcom 3; Paul; Glee Season Two and tons more rated!
Monday, 31 January 2011
Wait a minute, I hear you say- 2011 has barely started, and I’m already looking ahead to next year? Well, yes, as frankly while there are tons of major releases you should keep your eye on in the next eleven months (see, not that long to go till 2012!), the year of the London Olympics definitely has plenty of promising films and games to keep things interesting. But let’s start with the aforementioned sports event- that will be BIG, even by current standards of the Olympics, so we can all expect the British media to go into an absolute frenzy there. The opening ceremony, every single event, the closing ceremony, you name it and chances are you’ll find something on telly about the London Olympics before, during and long after they begin. Meanwhile, films are once again in full force next year, and as ever a lot of them are sequels: Wrath of the Titans (Clash 2); Men In Black 3; Star Trek 2; The Bourne Legacy; Bond 23 and the final Twilight (cue a loud sigh of relief from every guy in the world) are all set to be released throughout the year. Superhero films also seem to reign dominant once again in 2012, with Spider-Man; Superman; Ghost Rider; Batman; Iron Man; Thor; Captain America and the Hulk making returns to the big screen either separately or as part of the massive Avengers team-up released in Summer. Animation will play its part, too in the form of Monsters Inc. 2, Ice Age 4 and Madagascar 3 (sure to be box-office hits regardless of their quality), and even Star Wars will get a re-release with The Phantom Menace heading up an annual 3-D treatment for the saga until 2017. Finally there are the games, and although next year doesn’t yet look as jam packed as the one we’re currently experiencing, bear in mind that seemed exactly the situation for this year in January 2010. All the same, we’ve got BioShock Infinite; Metal Gear Solid Rising; Transformers War For Cybertron 2; the various superhero games sure to arrive with the films and probably new Halo, Call of Duty and Assassin’s Creed sequels to keep us busy, and if anything the next Xbox and PlayStation consoles are likely to be revealed at E3, so still big times!
Laura Vandervoort's Kara was a prominent character in Smallville Season Seven, and in Supergirl she returned donning her red and blue costume to face off against series antagonist Darkseid. The episode actually took the show into new territory as more humans began to realise that not every super human was a threat to the Earth, but took some steps back too. The computer-generated-imagery was pretty lame even for the drama: Darkseid looks generally iffy in his smokescreen form, and even some super speed shots didn't look up to scratch for Smallville. Vandervoort made a solid comeback as Kara Kent as if she'd never left, and showed signs of a later return to truly bring Clark into the shoes of Superman for good, even setting him on the road to flight (then again, he's been 'set' on that path many times before). The lack of faith from Jor-El is pretty interesting, too, as it could lead to some great scenes in the Fortress of Solitude further into the series. Was Supergirl perfect? Not by any means, but it did improve on Shield and give some promising hints with regards to the series finale.
I have a theory that no show can ever manage a second episode successful enough to top the first. Case in point Shield, a blatantly by-the-books story for Smallville that does little other than to introduce Cat Grant and the Suicide Squad then have Clark change back to his red and blue attire in preparation for the transformation that is coming. Cat was irritating to say the least, but considering that Erica Durance's Lois Lane was too when she first arrived I'm hoping that this is just a rite of passage as she currently is against all super-heroes (holy irony, Superman! Oh wait, wrong DC character...), so maybe we'll see her have a change of heart as Clark finally becomes the Man of Steel fans have been waiting ten years to see. There's a fair bit of melodrama thrown in as well with Chloe's disappearance, and while I can't wait to see how her storyline ends later this season it got a bit tiresome watching other characters try to piece together something we had already seen happen. To be fair, there's a lot of great moments like when Lois realises a potential name for her super-powered Blur and Carter Hall reveals the legends of his wife Hawkgirl, however this is undoubtedly a relatively sub-par episode of Smallville.
As one legacy ends, another must begin: Tom Welling is set to depart his role as Superman in the US drama Smallville after ten years of super-speed and flying (well, moving towards it anyway), and with that Henry Cavill will don the red and blue tights to fight evil in the 2012 reboot of the film franchise. Currently titled The Man of Steel, the flick will focus on Clark Kent departing his hometown of Smallville and moving to Metropolis while he comes to terms with the hero that he must inevitably become while taking on Lex Luthor for the first time. It's pretty old hat, yes, but after 2006's simply atrocious Superman Returns (1.5/5) we'd take just about anything as long as it restores the franchise to its former glories with Christopher Reeve in the lead. Cavill hasn't got many big roles to his name so far, only making cameos in the likes of Stardust and Whatever Works, but viewers can get a good look at his probable screen talent with new film Immortals due out this Summer. Let's hope things can only go up, up and away from here!
Enjoy Come Fly With Me? If so, you'll be pleased to hear that the BBC comedy starring Matt Lucas and David Walliams will be coming back to our television screens later this year. Walliams, the co-writer and star of the show, has revealed that Come Fly With Me will get a one-off special in late April to 'celebrate' the Royal Wedding, which we can only assume will mean some hilarious antics involving Prince William and Kate Middleton's big day (Precious manning the coffee stall? First class attendant Penny Carter serving the guests? I can see it already.). Then, at an as-of-yet to be confirmed point in the second half of 2011 the sketch show will return for another season of six episodes, shot in the same locations as before and featuring characters both old and new. To sate your appetite until Come Fly With Me returns to BBC One, 2Entertain are also releasing the great first series with deleted scenes and commentaries this March for just £10!
Smallville finishes shooting on March 22nd (sniff, I told myself I wouldn't cry!), and as the final episodes of the tenth season loom for the cast and ultimately viewers (that is if E4 hurry up airing the series here), two guest stars from previous seasons have been confirmed to make returns in one of the five remaining episodes each. First up is Laura Vandervoot as Kara, cousin to Clark Kent and already established as Supergirl in the show. Last time we saw the only remaining Kryptonian on Earth, she was promoting herself as the first of a wave of supers that would reveal themselves in an effort to draw out major antagonist Darkseid, telling the future Superman that his father had lost faith in him and had dispatched her to rid the universe of the darkness. Vandervoot had previously stated she wanted to return to the show once more in Series 10 ('Supergirl' having been Episode 3) to "wrap things up for Kara". Meanwhile, Callum Blue has also been confirmed to reappear once more as Major Zod, the main antagonist of Season 9, for another episode somewhere inbetween the seventeenth and twentieth stories- the 21st and 22nd will be the ones to bring Smallville to a definitive close. Blue's baddie was zapped to a New Kryton in last year's finale, so who knows how he'll return this time? One thing's for sure, he probably won't be as prominent a threat this season as Clark still has Darkseid and (most likely) Lex Luthor to face before becoming the Man of Steel. Smallville returns in the US on February 8th, and will climax with a two-part finale in May.
Sunday, 30 January 2011
Super heroes weren't ever terribly well represented in video games- until Batman: Arkham Asylum, that is. Setting the Caped Crusader on a linear path with lots of distractions, 2009's best release showed us the Dark Knight's darkest night, unleashing the Joker, Killer Croc, Scarecrow and Bane on him before the sun came up. Shortly after we got Spider-Man Shattered Dimensions, which applied some great traits from Arkham to the Spider-Man universe, but did it do that better? Let's put the games head to head and see...
GRAPHICS: Batman featured gritty deaths and visual gags from the DCverse aplenty, but it was in Spider-Man's world that we got not one but four perfect realisations of the comic book universe. WINNER: SPIDEY
GAME-PLAY: They say that imitation is a form of flattery. Sadly, that also means it can never do anything other than compliment the original. Shattered Dimensions improved the Spidey combat engine, yet was still repetitive and quickly became tired, plus there was far less variety. WINNER: BATMAN
COMIC FAITH: A tough one, this- Arkham Asylum boasted a plethora of hidden facts and references, however plenty of Spidey friend and foes made cameos or were mentioned throughout the levels. WINNER: TIE
PLOT: Arkham Asylum wins outright here for the sheer torture you endure as the Dark Knight traverses the dangerous buildings, taunted by the Joker all the way, while in Spider-Man...you have to collect 13 tables by beating villains then stop big baddie Mysterio. Yep, real original. WINNER: BATMAN
OVERALL: If the winner of this competition isn't obvious by now, here it is- Batman: Arkham Asylum is a fluid, innovative experience throughout that has stood the test of time two years on, whereas Shattered Dimensions gets too repetitive and predictable to stand a chance of coming out top. If the sequel to the latter shakes these flaws, though, it might get closer to changing its 8/10 to something nearer to the 10/10 the Caped Crusader received!