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Thursday, 27 March 2014

Summer of Film 2014: Trailer Round-Up

Our latest compilation of all of the hottest trails for upcoming Summer blockbusters...
This week, we've seen a plethora of major teaser and theatrical trailers for impending Summer of Film 2014 big-screen outings land on our shores. Rather than simply posting each of these impressive videos in isolated articles here at the blog, we've elected to bring them together into one definitive, all-encompassing post for your viewing convenience and (hopefully) pleasure.

Without further ado, then, let's dive into the latest previews which the film industry has to offer us. Read on to sample a host of promising motion pictures which could very well find themselves on our Film of the Year 2014 shortlist come December:

EDGE OF TOMORROW THEATRICAL TRAILER- Starring Tom Cruise and Emily Blunt, this intense science-fiction thriller will take the concept of a never-ending and ever-looping day established in Groundhog Day and The Adjustment Bureau and stretch it to spectacular new limits. Edge of Tomorrow lands on May 30th in the UK.
STEP UP: ALL IN TEASER TRAILER- Well, they can't all turn out to be gems, can they? In our minds, the Step Up franchise died years ago, but if for some reason you can still bear to admit its existence, then All In may warrant a watch come July 25th, even if this first trail does next to nothing to differentiate the series' fifth instalment from its underwhelming predecessors.
THE MAZE RUNNER TEASER TRAILER- As if it wasn't enough for us to receive The Fault In Our Stars in June, another adaptation of a best-loved teen novel is set to arrive just a few short months later. The Maze Runner boasts a well-rounded cast of little-known actors- a rare attribute which could easily work to its favour if this initial preview is indicative of its quality- and will surface in cinemas this September 19th.
TEENAGE MUTANT NINJA TURTLES TEASER TRAILER- For better or for worse, this year's Summer of Film is bringing us not one but two major films involving Michael Bay. Thankfully, though, the Transformers: Age of Extinction director is only on producing duties here, with Jonathan Liebesman taking the helm on what looks to be (at least judging by the teaser trailer) a thoroughly mediocre remake of the classic comic-book series of the same name. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles hits cinemas on August 8th in the US and October 17th here.

Tuesday, 25 March 2014

Prometheus 2 Announced

Sorry, folks, but another sequel that no-one asked for is in the works!
20th Century Fox have today announced the production of a sequel to their science-fiction blockbuster Prometheus for release in the near future. Starring Naomi Rapace and Michael Fassbender, the 2012 film chronicled the crew of the Prometheus' first encounter with extraterresterial life on the mysterious planet of LV-223.

It would be an understatement, however, to say that Ridley Scott's high-octane Alien prequel proved to be everyone's cup of tea at the time of its initial release. In fact, as preludes go, we're struggling to recall another example which garnered such a remarkable amount of hype in the run-up to its début and then managed to squander it so instantaneously once viewers entered the appropriate auditorium to see it in action. Rapace and Fassbender are both back on board for the follow-up (with Fassbender reportedly set to portray multiple versions of his enigmatic android character David), but that's by no means a guarantee of success, and indeed, Scott has his work cut out if he hopes to come close to matching the critical acclaim of the sci-fi horror classic which brought him to the forefront of his industry's attention way back in 1979.

Prometheus 2 will set up operations in cinemas worldwide on March 4th, 2016.

Spider-Verse Announced

Because why have one Spider-Man when you can have ALL of them?
Marvel Comics have today announced the publication of Spider-Verse, a major crossover storyline in the Spider-Man comic-book franchise which will begin later this year. Branching out primarily from the soon-to-be-restored The Amazing Spider-Man series, this celebratory arc will belatedly commemorate the 50th Anniversary of the iconic web-slinging superhero's printed adventures (a birthday which actually came to pass as far back as the Summer of 2012).

If the graphic novel's title didn't give it away, Spider-Verse will feature not one, not two but every incarnation of the character that has appeared in his comic-book saga over the course of the past half-century to battle their most ancient and seemingly invulnerable adversary- Morlun. From Ultimate Spider-Man's Miles Morales to 1602's Peter Parker, the narrative will not be selective in its inclusions, with writers Dan Slott and Oliver Copiel even going so far as to include the infamous pig Spider-Ham (yes, really!) in proceedings. As if that weren't enough, Slott and Copiel confirmed at yesterday's reveal event that new, never-before-seen renditions of Peter Parker's arachnid-themed alter-ego will appear in what promises to be an unprecedented, all-encompassing crossover yarn!

Spider-Verse will commence publication in the US this November, with a UK release for the graphic novel version of the storyline currently scheduled for TBC 2015.

Derek Season Two UK Première Date Announced

Ricky Gervais reprises his role as Derek Noakes for a new run of episodes next month.
Channel 4 have today announced the première date for the second season of their comedy-drama Derek. Written and directed by Ricky Gervais, the show focuses on a local care home manned by Gervais' titular protagonist and a team of dedicated, oft-eccentric staff.

Seasoned followers of On-Screen will no doubt recall that we're big fans of Derek, thanks in no small part to the stellar first season (which aired last Spring). Any chance to spend more time in the company of Noakes and the gang is more than welcome for us, then, and if you missed out on the opportunity to catch Season One the first time round, it's available for free on both 4oD and Netflix right now- in other words, what are you waiting for?

Derek returns to Channel 4 for a second season of six episodes this April 23rd. Check out the TV trailer for the latest run below...

Game of Thrones: "Two Swords" UK & US Simulcast Announced

HBO's cult smash-hit will return at precisely the same time here and in the States...
Sky have today announced the simultaneous broadcast of the season première of the fourth season of HBO's fantasy drama Game of Thrones in the US and the UK. Loosely based on the A Song of Ice and Fire novels by George R.R. Martin, the series airs on Sky Atlantic here and the HBO channel itself Stateside.

In case you missed the news earlier this month, the first episode of Season Four goes by the name Two Swords. While that title could have all sorts of metaphorical implications (nothing's ever quite off limits in the world of Thrones, after all), those lucky enough to have read A Storm of Swords already will know that it's likely to have at least one literal manifestation within the episode's standalone narrative as well. Quite frankly, it's the second episode of the new run which we're most excited about, for reasons that will immediately become apparent when The Lion and the Rose broadcasts in a few weeks' time.

Game of Thrones returns for its devastating fourth season on Sky Atlantic at 2am (GMT) this April 7th.

Monday, 24 March 2014

X-Men: Days of Future Past Theatrical Trailer Released

James McAvoy returns as Charles Xavier
"You took the things that mean the most to me." "Maybe you should have fought harder for them..."
20th Century Fox have today released the first full theatrical trailer (below) for their upcoming superhero blockbuster X-Men: Days of Future Past. Bringing together an almighty ensemble of stars from X-Men, X-Men 2, X-Men: The Last Stand and X-Men: First Class, this seventh chapter looks to be the most audacious instalment in the franchise's history, not to mention one of the most promising outings of this year's impending Summer of Film season.

No doubt there'll be plenty more for fans to speculate on from this visually stunning second preview, but of note to us were the extensive glimpses of the futuristic armada of Sentinels laying siege to an evidently dystopian incarnation of our planet, further interaction between Wolverine and James McAvoy's younger Charles Xavier and the appearance of Anna Paquin's name in the US trailer's cast-list confirming that Rogue will feature in Days (albeit minutely, judging by her absence from the video). Ultimately, however, we'd wager that it's the chance to see both the pairings of McAvoy and Michael Fassbender and Patrick Stewart and Ian McKellen uniting once more to present us with another sample of their iconic on-screen chemistry before the series' continuity is presumably changed forever...

X-Men: Days of Future Past warps into UK cinemas nationwide on May 22nd.

Sunday, 23 March 2014

Coming Up This Week: March 24th-30th

Captain America, the Muppets, the Huntress and Elizabeth return in the next seven days!
We're still having a difficult time processing the notion that once this week's done, an entire quarter of 2014 will already have passed by. The best is yet to come, of course, but it's startling (to say the least) to have seen three months come and go so rapidly.

Nevertheless, the show must go on, and March's final full week will be long remembered as one of the most eventful periods of the first half of this year. Franchises aplenty are readying themselves for a high-octane to our screens before the next seven days are behind us, and suffice to say that there's no better place to learn which instalments to look out for than right here:
  • SAVING MR BANKS DVD & BLU-RAY- One of Disney's best standalone dramas in years lands in DVD and Blu-Ray retailers today, and it's most certainly worth the time of anyone with even a passing interest in the studio's history and/or the inception of one of its most beloved creations, Mary Poppins. Starring Emma Thompson, Tom Hanks and Paul Giamatti (all of whom deserved to win Oscars for their performances here alone), this whimsical but still remarkably grounded biopic is a must-see, and better yet, you can pass it off as a Mother's Day gift if the thought of buying it for your own gain reeks of selfishness post-Christmas. (Monday 24th)
  • X-MEN: DAYS OF FUTURE PAST THEATRICAL TRAILER- The general consensus on social networking domains seems to be that Bryan Singer and 20th Century Fox's election to release a teaser trailer for their much-vaunted superhero ensemble blockbuster X-Men: Days of Future Past as early as last Autumn was a major misstep on their parts, especially since it led to a five-month wait until our next full preview landed on our shores. Thankfully, though, that prolonged period of anticipation will come to fruition today, as the studio début a fully-fledged video teaser for what's to come in two months' time...(Monday 24th)
  • BIOSHOCK INFINITE: BURIAL AT SEA EPISODE 2- This final instalment in the ongoing narrative of last March's BioShock Infinite brings with it a bittersweet sense of closure, not only for fans in its resolution of the original game's audacious time-travelling story arc, but equally for Irrational too in light of the recent announcement of their imminent closure. As thrilling as it will no doubt be to play Burial At Sea's second half, our thoughts go out to all of those members of staff on the development team who will find themselves looking for alternative employment in the days ahead, and we wish them all the best in that respect- all the same, it's been a helluva ride...(Tuesday 25th- 360, PS3, PC)
  • CAPTAIN AMERICA: THE WINTER SOLDIER- Another season, another Marvel Cinematic Universe chapter to make the wait for Avengers: Age of Ultron slightly easier. In fairness, Captain America: The Winter Soldier is Phase Two's most pivotal instalment, following Steve Rogers in the aftermath of the events of Avengers Assemble as he encounters a deadly-yet-familiar adversary and discovers franchise-changing truths about S.H.I.E.L.D. and its leaders along the way. If you skip this one and head straight into Ultron, only to find yourselves immensely confused by what's changed come the sequel, then don't say that we didn't warn you. (Wednesday 26th)
  • ARROW: BIRDS OF PREY- As if it wasn't exciting enough to glimpse the Suicide Squad in action in last week's sixteenth instalment of Arrow's second season, the time has now come for fans to witness the first stages of another iconic DC superhero team's formation as we move ever closer towards the season finale. Birds of Prey features the return of the Huntress, as well as Laurel's first encounter with the Black Canary and plenty of other major plot developments which threaten to destabilize Oliver Queen's family at their very foundations, bringing Starling City to its knees in the process! (Wednesday 26th- The CW)
  • MUPPETS MOST WANTED- If you've found yourself sitting on the fence with regards to this long-awaited follow-up to 2011's The Muppets and are in need of some assistance on the matter of whether or not to spend your hard-earned cash on a ticket, then we're only too happy to oblige with our advance 4* review here and now. Muppets Most Wanted isn't quite the instant bonafida hit that we named the Runner-Up for our Film of the Year 2012 award, but it's sure to provide viewers with countless laughs all the same, and warrants a look just for the sheer number of celebrity cameos it packs into the space of 113 minutes...(Friday 28th)
  • AND THERE'S MORE- Philomena, Doc Martin Series 6, Line of Duty Complete Series One & Two and Mr Selfridge- Series 2 are all out now on DVD and Blu-Ray, and we'd wholeheartedly recommend the former film of the group if you missed it first time round (don't worry, you were by no means alone if so!). On top of all that, Ricky Gervais has confirmed that we'll find out when Derek Season Two is set to première on Channel 4 at some point in the next seven days too.
  • AND NEXT WEEK...Frozen wraps up its unprecedented success story with its UK DVD and Blu-Ray launch, Arrow reaches its dramatic mid-season finale with Deathstroke and Marvel's Agents of SHIELD returns for its final run of Season One episodes with The End of the Beginning!
For all the latest news, reviews and previews of the hottest upcoming entertainment releases, keep it On-Screen in the days ahead...

Silk Cancelled

Peter Moffat's courtroom drama will no longer appear before the jury after its third season.
The BBC have this week announced the termination of their crime drama Silk after three seasons. Starring Maxine Peake, Rupert Penry-Jones, Game of Thrones' Natalie Dormer and Doctor Who's Frances Barber, the series depicts the legal exploits of several barristers in a fictitious London judicial chamber.

Sadly, though it'll likely pain fans to admit it, Silk has been on a steady decline in terms of its viewer ratings over the last few weeks, amassing just 3.94 million viewers in its overnight ratings with the broadcast of Season Three's third episode on March 10th. Most successful BBC One dramas tend to only drop down below the 5-million mark on the odd off-week, so the signs weren't exactly promising when that figure was announced last week, and short of a ratings miracle between now and Episode Six's March 31st première, it looks as if the show has reached its final destination. Creator and head writer Peter Moffat has at least indicated that loyal followers will receive a degree of closure from the season finale, but in all honesty, the loss of yet another of the channel's flagship dramas will sting the corporation, especially in light of its sacrifice of BBC Three so as to garner further funds for BBC One and BBC Two's drama roster to prosper in years to come...

Silk continues with Episode Five tomorrow, March 24th on BBC One.

Muppets Most Wanted Review

It's time to meet the Muppets...again! Check out our definitive verdict on Disney's accomplished caper comedy right here.
As challenges go, this reviewer would wager that topping The Muppets (or even matching it, for that matter- 5/5) ranks as one of the most daunting prospects for a production team in recent memory. That's not to say that anyone would lament the creation of the critically lauded 2011 motion picture, of course, since Jason Segel and Nicholas Stoller's masterful screenplay was instrumental in reviving the legacy of Jim Henson's famed gang of puppets after a number of underwhelming sequels such as The Muppets Wizard of Oz, but at the same time, Muppets Most Wanted's burden of expectation is all the greater as a result of the acclaim which its immediate predecessor amassed at the time of release.

While it would certainly be dishonest to claim that the sequel reaches the same heights on a regular basis, we're glad to confirm that it comes remarkably close on a number of occasions. Most importantly, though, Most Wanted carries its own unique charm and distinguishing features in abundance, ensuring that fans won't leave the auditorium feeling short-changed or dispassionate about the wider, evidently strengthening franchise. It should come as no great surprise to the masses who witnessed 2011's Muppets in all its glory that Christophe Beck's soundtrack is paramount to this entry's enduring appeal, nor that much of the joy of your first viewing will come from the aural surprises that lie within, hence why we'll remain suitably coy as to precisely what you can expect this time around. Suffice to say that even if there's no Life's A Happy Song or Man Or Muppet-esque Oscar contender to be found in the setlist here, yet We're Doing A Sequel (good luck removing the song from your mind for the remainder of the afternoon now that we've mentioned it), I'm Number One, Something So Right and particularly Tina Fey's hilarious Gulag number The Big House are each superb in their own right, and ludicrously infectious to boot.

Leading the film's human cast are Ricky Gervais, The Office US' Fey and Modern Family's Ty Burrell, each of whom offer up respectable performances as Constantine (aka a villainous Kermit lookalike who steals the iconic amphibian's identity early on)'s partner-in-crime, an eccentric Siberian prison officer and an intrepid Interpol detective. Nevertheless, the loss of both Jason Segel and Amy Adams from the actorial helm will doubtless have an intensely detrimental impact upon any fan who shared this reviewer's deep admiration for their contributions to The Muppets, and much as returning scribe Stoller and director James Bobin do their utmost to throw countless cameos our way in order to distract us for the duration of the running time, the self-inflicted absence of even a mention of Gary and Mary takes its toll on an emotive level as we reach the climactic setpieces and find them curiously lacking in the personal touch which having the pair of love-struck travellers on board allowed last time. If only the celebrity appearances in question were slightly more substantial, then the pain would be lessened considerably, yet A-listers including (but by no means limited to) Zach Galifanakas, Sean Combs, Tom Hiddleston and Lady GaGa tend to come and go with barely enough screen-time for the viewer to attain any level of recognition of their identities or their (minimal) influence upon the central storyline or its various tangential strands.

For the most part, then, it's down to the Muppets themselves to keep the series' trademark satirical comedy alive and thriving throughout, a feat which- thanks to the array of one-liners afforded to them in Stoller's screenplay and Bobin's honed direction- they pull off to sublime effect. Three years may have passed since Kermit, Fozzy Bear, Waldorf and Statler (who surely warrant a mention in every Muppet-themed article?) and their cohorts returned to the big-screen with an almighty bang, but time has clearly not diminished their perfect timing or indeed their gut-wrenching punchlines. Although timeless singular gags from the first film such as "I once waited twelve months for September!" or "We travel by map!" aren't necessarily bested, you can't blame Stoller for trying, and as is the case with any accomplished genre entry of this ilk, every viewer is sure to depart their cinema with not only a favourite tune, but inevitably a gag which lingers in the memory forevermore, even if it makes virtually no sense whatsoever once it's taken out of context (and if that isn't a common trait of all legendary in-film jokes, then we're not sure what is). Such is the simultaneous burden and relief of penning an advance review such as this that we could barely hint at precisely what those gags entail even if we wanted to, and for the sake of your initial engagement with the movie, we'll hold off on doing so safe in the knowledge that the ensuing discussion will be all the more refreshing as a result, if not moreso.

Much as critics elsewhere on the web would have you believe that the Muppets' seventh (doesn't time fly?) cinematic outing drops the ball in comparison to many of its esteemed predecessors, the situation isn't nearly so disheartening, since for everything it loses in the absence of The Muppets' lead stars, it gains in good measure through acquiring another cracking musical setlist and the enduring comic power of its titular team of wayward heroes. Once the seasoned franchise veteran comes to accept the inevitable reality of the sheer impossibility of Bobin's team producing a superior sequel, they'll find plenty to love about Muppets Most Wanted in the form of those strengths outlined here and countless other intricate touches which serve to frequently solidify our ongoing relief at the franchise's recent resurrection. In the midst of its final moments, We're Doing A Sequel introduces the lyric "it's the Muppets again", and although the line works brilliantly as a reference to the follow-up's working title, more significant still is its role as a fitting reminder to the viewership at large that Jim Henson's legacy faded for a near-unbearable length of time in the noughties, and thus that we should cherish its current prominence within the film industry as opposed to seeking to cast it back into the shadows from whence it came. In this rare instance, the gang's assertion that their latest caper is "more of the same" is just fine by us.
4/5
BONUS MINI-REVIEW: PARTY CENTRAL (A MONSTERS UNIVERSITY SHORT) (2/5)
Lest we forget, there's also a short film from Pixar accompanying Muppets Most Wanted. Titled Party Central, it's a harmless skit based within the universe of Monsters University and Monsters Inc, presumably taking place during the timeline of the former before Mike and Sully depart for the latter (though no such chronology is ever firmly established). Unlike recent condensed animated hits such as Paperman and Get A Horse (A Mickey Short), though, it never threatens to steal the main feature's thunder as they did for Wreck-It Ralph and Frozen respectively, primarily due to the inevitable "been there, done that" sense of deja vu which pervades our latest foray into Oozma Kappa's freshman year. Uni's lead stars John Goodman and Billy Crystal are effectively relegated to supporting roles barely a minute in, leaving us to focus on the largely stereotypical college-goers introduced in last year's prequel such as Don Carlton, Terri Perry and Scott Squibbles (feel no shame if it takes a quick Google Images search to remind you precisely who they are...) and the latter's irksome mother, who ironically provides one of the solitary two gags which warrant hearty laughs (the other coming from the son of the two human parents whose room is subtly invaded by the aforementioned fraternity in order to kick-start their festivities). Even if our return trip to the Monsters franchise proved to be a genuinely pleasant surprise back in Summer 2013, Party Central serves as proof if any was needed that Pixar would be well advised to move into new territory from now on.

Friday, 21 March 2014

Frankenstein Delayed

James McAvoy and Daniel Radcliffe's take on Mary Shelly's classic has suffered a setback.
20th Century Fox have today confirmed a delay in the release schedule of their upcoming supernatural movie Frankenstein. The latest adaptation of Mary Shelly's iconic horror novel will star X-Men: First Class' James McAvoy as the titular mentally unstable professor and Harry Potter's Daniel Radcliffe as his increasingly unhinged assistant Igor.

As it happens, this particular shift in the 2015 film calendar shouldn't have too much of a drastic effect in the long run. Rather than battling Taken 3, The Boy Next Door and The Man from U.N.C.L.E. next January, Frankenstein will instead go head to head with The Jungle Book and the twenty-fourth instalment in the James Bond franchise nine months later. Few industry analysts would envy a budding motion picture in its attempt to match the successes of Columbia Pictures' suave thriller behemoth, but at least with both McAvoy and Radcliffe attached, there's still a substantial chance that Paul McGuigan (who has helmed four episodes of the BBC's detective drama Sherlock already) will draw away some members of the crowd from Daniel Craig's third (and reportedly penultimate) performance as Ian Fleming's beloved British hero.

Frankenstein will now awaken in cinemas worldwide on October 2nd, 2015.

New Disney IMAX Releases Announced

The Earth's Mightiest Heroes, the galaxy's Guardians and more come to IMAX cinemas.
Walt Disney Pictures and IMAX Corporation have today announced the latest of the former studio's upcoming blockbuster films which are set to receive a release in IMAX cinemas in the coming months. Ever since 2000, the two companies have had a fruitful history together, bringing hit productions such as Beauty and the Beast, Treasure Planet and A Christmas Carol to millions of new viewers worldwide.

Suffice to say that if you can name a major big-screen effort coming to our screens courtesy of Disney in the next two years (bar Ant-Man, for some unknown reason), it's probably present on the studio's updated list of IMAX releases, which reads as follows:

  • Maleficent (May 30th)
  • Guardians of the Galaxy (August 1st)
  • Avengers: Age of Ultron (May 1st, 2015)
  • Tomorrowland (May 22nd, 2015)
  • Star Wars Episode VII (December 18th, 2015)
For all of the latest news, reviews and previews of Disney's upcoming motion picture releases, keep it On-Screen in the days ahead!

Frozen Breaks New Global Box Office Record

Disney's seasonal smash hit continues to dominate in cinemas across the world!
Walt Disney Pictures have today announced that their critically acclaimed animated film Frozen has broken yet another global box office sales record. Released last November, the festive flick focused on the tale of an isolated princess' desperate attempt to be reunited with her sister and to simultaneously end the eternal winter plaguing the kingdom of Arendelle.

Scarcely a week seems to go by nowadays without Frozen reaching a commercial milestone or two, and in this instance, Walt Disney Animation Studios can afford to be truly proud of their success. As of today, the movie has become the 13th highest-grossing motion picture of all-time, surpassing the likes of The Dark Knight, Jurassic Park and The Lion King and ranking just behind best-sellers such as Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides and Toy Story 3 all the while. Looking at the Top 20 list in its current state, it's abundantly clear that Disney must be pretty content with their lot in 2014, since almost half of the aforementioned top-earners were produced by the House of Mouse in the last two decades, and with cash-hoarding franchises such as the Muppets, Captain America, Maleficent and Planes all set to make their return over the course of the next nine months, their unrelenting campaign of cinematic domination doesn't look set to falter anytime soon...

Frozen lands on DVD and Blu-Ray this March 31st in the UK and is available now at all good disc retailers in the US.

Assassin's Creed: Unity Announced

Travel to the French Revolution with the latest instalment of Ubisoft's annual franchise.
Ubisoft Montreal have today announced the development of Assassin's Creed: Unity for release this Holiday. The seventh outing in Ubisoft's now-annualised franchise of action-adventure video games was leaked by Kotaku earlier this week, and purportedly takes place in the midst of the French Revolution (as you'll no doubt work out for yourself in the teaser trailer, below).

This time around, though, that's not all. Unless Kotaku's sources were misinformed, then it seems that we'll play host to not one but two new Assassin's Creed titles before the year's out. The second of these (the existence of which Ubisoft has yet to comment on) is apparently titled Assassin's Creed: Comet, and will reportedly ship on Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 so as to appease those fans who are still clinging desperately on to their last-generation consoles by that point. No details have been confirmed as of yet as to precisely when Comet's narrative will take place, but provided that the project doesn't leak via screenshots as was the case with Unity, expect to hear more on its setting and gameplay features when both titles are officially revealed in the late months of Spring.

Assassin's Creed: Unity sneaks onto PlayStation 4, Xbox One and PC this Winter.

Game of Thrones Fifth & Sixth Seasons Commissioned

The beloved fantasy drama will return for further runs until 2016- but who will sit atop the Iron Throne by then, we wonder?
HBO Studios have today commissioned a fifth and sixth season of their hit fantasy drama Game of Thrones. Based loosely on George R.R. Martin's A Song of Ice and Fire novels, the series takes place in the fictitious realm of Westeros and its neighbouring islands, boasting romance, violence and dragons aplenty on a weekly basis.

The news broke earlier today that HBO have signed the show's lead writers David Benioff and D.B. Weiss for a further two seasons of high-octane televisual entertainment, effectively confirming the existence of both Season Five and Season Six in the process. While rumours have circulated this week (thanks to a comment made by Martin) that A Dream of Spring (the final instalment in the Ice and Fire franchise, though the author still has to complete the penultimate book first!) will be adapted into two feature films rather than a season of TV episodes, at present Benioff and Weiss have made explicit their hope to render the narrative in its entirety over the course of seven ten-episode seasons, and since Martin has apparently revealed just how the dramatic ongoing storyline will conclude to them, at least we can be sure that Thrones' next few seasons will have a clear plot trajectory as a result.

Game of Thrones returns to Sky Atlantic with its devastating fourth season on April 7th, with Seasons Five and Six all but guaranteed to air in Spring 2015 and Spring 2016 respectively.

Fox Announce 2015-2018 Blockbuster Release Schedule

Find out the US release dates for The Wolverine 2, Ridley Scott's next project and more right here...
20th Century Fox have today revealed a revised release schedule for several of their upcoming blockbuster motion pictures. As if it weren't enough for us to simply know what the studio has planned for this year, we're now clear on precisely which films they intend to launch between 2015 and 2018 as well.

Here's a full round-up of all of the US release dates that Fox have confirmed in their latest press release- there's no official word as to quite what form the aforementioned Ridley Scott project will take, but if recent reports are to be believed, then the possibility of it being Prometheus 2 is greater than you might initially expect:
  • TAKEN 3- January 9th, 2015
  • TBC RIDLEY SCOTT PRODUCTION- March 4th, 2016
  • THE WOLVERINE 2- March 3rd, 2017
  • THE FANTASTIC FOUR 2- July 14th, 2017
  • X-FORCE- July 13th, 2018
The only real surprise in that particular roster is the emergence of a sequel to The Fantastic Four, not least since the upcoming franchise reboot hasn't even commenced shooting yet and has attracted its fair share of sceptics thanks to the controversy surrounding its lead stars. Fox are clearly holding onto their remaining Marvel properties tightly, ensuring that the rights to both X-Men and the aforementioned quartet of superheroes remain firmly in their grasp until at least 2018. Aside from those projects, it never ceases to astonish us that a third Taken outing can still be justified commercially, although in fairness, the prospect of a new contribution to the film industry from the creator of Alien just about makes up for it!

Stay tuned to On-Screen in the coming weeks for all the latest news, reviews, previews and features on 20th Century Fox's upcoming big-screen blockbusters.

Thursday, 20 March 2014

Arrow Season Two Episodes 17-23, Season Three Plot Details Teased

Arrow's own David Ramsey discusses what's to come in the show's immediate future!
Star David Ramsey has today revealed new details on the remaining seven episodes of the second season of The CW's superhero drama Arrow, as well as teasing what fans can expect from the recently-announced third season of the show later this year. Ramsey plays John Diggle in the hit US series, a character who deservedly earned himself an increased presence in this week's Suicide Squad when Amanda Waller called on him to join the mysterious Task Force X for a limited window of time.

Although it won't make the waiting time between Suicide Squad and Episode 17 any shorter, here's a definitive round-up of Ramsey's comments regarding Arrow's upcoming instalments:
  • ON OLIVER AND JOHN'S SEASON TWO CHARACTER ARCS- "I think [Diggle] gets a good lesson in [Suicide Squad] and I think Oliver gets it too. From here to the finale, you're going to see Oliver and Diggle having to accept methods that maybe they never would have accepted in the past and having to work with people they would've never worked with, i.e. their "enemies", because they have a bigger enemy in Deathstroke."
  • ON THE SUICIDE SQUAD'S FUTURE- "We only have a few more episodes before we have to mount up against the Mirakuru-injected Deathstroke. I put it like this: we're going to need all the help we can get and that's not limited to any member of the Suicide Squad."
  • ON CROSSOVERS WITH THE FLASH- "[A]ll things going well with the Flash pilot and people love it and it's picked up [for a full season of twenty-three episodes], I can't imagine that crossover universe ever not happening. The characters that you see cross over into Starling City this season, if the Flash pilot is picked up I think that will be more normal than not."
  • ON THE PRESENCE OF H.I.V.E. IN FUTURE EPISODES- "[The late Andy Diggle]'s very much involved with [Deadshot and John's fraught dynamic] and H.I.V.E., as DC fans will understand, is a big story. The writers have the habit of dropping a nugget that they may not reach again in four or five episodes down the line, so H.I.V.E. and Andy Diggle is a big story come Season Three."
Arrow continues with Birds of Prey on The CW this Wednesday, March 26th and The Promise on Sky1 next Thursday, March 27th.

Microsoft Announce 25 New Xbox One Indie Titles

Prepare for independent projects aplenty to land on Microsoft's new Xbox console.
Microsoft Game Studios have this week announced the development of twenty-five new independent video game titles for their Xbox One console. The news comes via the 2014 Game Developers' Conference (GDC), and should elicit a sigh of relief from those fans who've been lamenting the absence of indie developers from the third-party roster ever since the console's launch last November.

Precise details on what to expect from each of the titles in question (all of which are part of an ambitious indie programme which was launched late in 2013 and is dubbed ID@Xbox) are scarce right now, but we've got a full list of the newly-announced projects nonetheless. Read on to discover the name of each and every one of the major independently-developed titles coming to Xbox One in the first half of 2014:
  • 1001 Spikes
  • Calibre 10 Racing Series
  • CastleStorm
  • Chariot
  • Chuck's Challenge 3D
  • Contrast
  • Divekick Addition Edition +
  • Forced by BetaDwarf ApS
  • FRU
  • Gucamelee Super Turbo Championship Edition
  • Gunscape
  • Habitat
  • Hyper Light Drifter
  • It Draws a Red Box
  • Nujitsu
  • Pinball Arcade
  • Q.U.B.E. Director's Cut
  • Riptide GP2
  • Roundabout
  • Sixty Second Shooter Prime
  • Spectra: 8-Bit Racing
  • Strike Suit Zero
  • Super Time Force
  • The Last Tinker
  • Wulverblade
This new wave of ID@Xbox titles will launch on Xbox One in the Spring and Summer months, with more projects presumably set to be announced at E3 2014 in June.

Titanfall Xbox 360 Port Release Date Announced

Rest assured that Titans WILL Fall on current-generation hardware- just not yet...
Microsoft Game Studios, Respawn Entertainment and Bluepoint Games have today announced a final delay in the release schedule of the Xbox 360 version of their first-person-shooter video game Titanfall. Set in the near future, this acclaimed first-party exclusive title takes the form of a Massively Multiplayer Online experience, utilising the renowned Xbox Live subscription service to provide players with access to (reportedly) one of the most innovative FPS campaigns of recent times.

Whereas the Xbox One and PC editions of this much-anticipated product are set to launch in UK retailers tomorrow, March 21st, unspecified technical issues have seemingly prevented Bluepoint from matching Respawn's launch date, to the extent that the 360 port has now suffered two substantial official setbacks. As such, we'd advise caution when it comes to approaching the game itself, since such delays rarely bode well for a competitive online experience (just ask the makers of Spore or other canned projects along the same lines), nor for a game's potential in general, with this month's South Park: The Stick of Truth representing a rare exception to the rule. Should Titanfall's current-generation incarnation succeed, though, it may yet prompt third-party developers to reconsider the speed with which they abandon Microsoft's best-selling hardware in favour of the publisher's latest home console.

Titanfall mobilizes on Xbox 360 this April 11th in the UK (and April 8th in the US).

Wednesday, 19 March 2014

Final Game of Thrones Season Four TV Trailer Released

"Why have the Gods made me love a hateful woman?" Twenty days to go...
HBO Studios have today released the fourth and final TV spot (below) for the impending fourth season of their hit fantasy drama Game of Thrones. Set to première next month, the latest ten-episode run will pick up in the aftermath of the Red Wedding, as the remaining Starks rally their allies to seek vengeance for their losses, only for events in King's Landing to take a sudden turn for the unexpected as another imminent set of nuptials threaten to end the War of the Five Kings once and for all.

If you've managed to steer clear of all of the promotional material that's been released so far, then firstly, congratulations! More importantly, though, you'd be well advised to divert your attention once again in the case of this spoiler-ish preview, especially since the absence of a frequent player in the Lannister household may hold game-changing (if you'll pardon the pun) implications for the show's narrative trajectory in Season Four. This writer has already read the appropriate novel, A Storm of Swords, so knows precisely what to expect from the aforementioned cataclysmic event in Episode 2- The Lion and the Rose- but there's not even a month left now until said episode airs, so I'll keep schtum at this point, and await with eager anticipation the inevitable internet-wide chaos that's sure to ensure in a few short weeks' time...

Game of Thrones returns for a devastating fourth season of ten one-hour instalments on Sky Atlantic this April 7th.

Third Maleficent Trailer Released

Angelina Jolie serves up a venomous helping of pure evil this Summer!
Walt Disney Pictures have today released the third (and presumably final) theatrical trailer (below) for their upcoming fantasy film Maleficent. A live-action re-imagining of the classic animated flick Sleeping Beauty, this semi-sequel focuses on the original effort's antagonist, who's played by none other than Angelina Jolie this time around.

The studio have demonstrated on several occasions in the past how remakes such as these can go south, however, with Oz: The Great and Powerful and The Lone Ranger lingering in the memory as the most notable examples of lacklustre productions of that ilk released in the last few years. To her credit, Jolie looks set to own the stage with her turn as one of Disney's most infamous villainesses, and Ellie Fanning seems perfectly suited to the role of the Sleeping Beauty herself, Princess Aurora. What remains to be seen is just where our sympathies as an audience are intended to lie come release day, a currently ambiguous narrative situation which the marketing team could benefit from clarifying before the Summer months creep up on us.

Maleficent casts its spell on cinemas worldwide this May 30th.

First Avengers: Age of Ultron Concept Art Released

The Earth's Mightiest Heroes re-assemble to battle their ultimate foe next Summer.
Walt Disney Pictures and Marvel Studios have today released the first promotional images (below) of their upcoming superhero ensemble blockbuster Avengers: Age of Ultron. Tying together the events of Iron Man 3, Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., Thor: The Dark World, Captain America: The Winter Soldier and Guardians of the Galaxy, the highly anticipated sequel will once again be written and directed by The Cabin In The Woods and Much Ado About Nothing's Joss Whedon.

With good reason, we shan't waste much of your time by describing what said images entail. In short, the first depicts Elizabeth Olsen's Scarlet Witch, while the second pic features Aaron Taylor-Johnson's Quicksilver (who'll also be seen amongst the ensemble of X-Men: Days of Future Past this May, though played by Evan Peters instead and coming off the back of a very different origins story) and the last two follow Robert Downey Jr's Tony Stark as he re-dons his Iron Man armour (now in the form of the classic Hulkbuster model) in the midst of an intense battle with Mark Ruffalo's Incredible Hulk. As if the wait until next Summer hadn't seemed long enough already, these glorious visual previews are sure to make that extensive period more difficult to endure than ever before.

Avengers: Age of Ultron hacks into cinemas worldwide on May 1st, 2015.
Concept art of Elizabeth Olsen as Scarlet Witch in Avengers: Age of Ultron.
Concept art of Aaron Taylor-Johnson as Quicksilver in Avengers: Age of Ultron.
Concept art of the Iron Man (in Hulkbuster armor) vs. Hulk battle in Avengers: Age of Ultron.

Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales Cancelled?

Dead Franchise's Chest? At Wit's End? We'll be here all year, folks...
The seas may be turning rough for Walt Disney Pictures' Pirates of the Caribbean saga in the near future, judging by the studio's latest shareholders' meeting. Speaking on the future of the hit fantasy film franchise, CEO Bob Iger confirmed today that its proposed fifth instalment has yet to get the green-light.

What this essentially means for the sequel (currently going under the oh-so-creative working title of Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales) is that there's no surefire guarantee it will enter production anytime soon, or indeed at all. Whereas The Curse of the Black Pearl, Dead Man's Chest and At World's End each generated enough commercial and critical acclaim to warrant fast-tracked follow-ups, the same can certainly not be said of On Stranger Tales, a mediocre successor which failed spectacularly in its attempt to reinvigorate the increasingly outrageous escapades of Captain Jack Sparrow. Once upon a time, our faith in the film industry would have been tested by the axing of a cash-hoarding, relatively quality-consistent series such as Pirates, but eleven years on from Curse, the time appears to be right to cast the franchise adrift, or better yet, to send it to the depths of the ocean and seal it in Davy Jones' Locker forevermore...

On the bright side, a Pirates of the Caribbean-themed land (featuring a new attraction based on the films called Battle of the Sunken Treasure) will open at the new Disneyland Shanghai theme park in 2015.

Final The Amazing Spider-Man 2 Trailer Released

"Do you know what I love most about being Spider-Man? Everything." Well, there's a surprise!
Sony Pictures have today released the final theatrical trailer (below) for their imminent superhero film The Amazing Spider-Man 2. Directed by Marc Webb, this second instalment of the rebooted blockbuster franchise sees Andrew Garfield and Emma Stone reprise their roles as the titular web-slinger and his his damsel-in-distress Gwen Stacey, as well as introducing Jamie Foxx, Dane DeHaan and Paul Giamatti into the fray as Electro, the Green Goblin and Rhino respectively.

As you'll no doubt hear across the internet this evening, any fan who's been paying attention to Sony's marketing campaign so far will probably be somewhat alarmed at just how much of the sequel the studio have been willing to showcase over the course of their various promotional previews. While we're all for the idea of trailers demonstrating some of a motion picture's finest setpiece moments, at this point it seems as if the promotional team would be well advised to lay off the new footage and simply focus on generating enough hype based on what they've already shown to ensure a successful launch in a month or so's time. Secrets may well have a cost (or so we've heard repeatedly from Sally Field's Aunt May), but in this case, it's difficult not to put the argument out there that being too open with audiences in the months preceding a blockbuster's release can have its fair share of detrimental effects too.

The Amazing Spider-Man 2 powers up in UK cinemas nationwide this April 18th.

First Star Wars Episode VII Plot, Production Details Announced

A long time ago in a galaxy far, far...well, you get the gist.
Walt Disney Pictures have today announced the first plot and production details for their upcoming science-fiction film Star Wars Episode VII. The seventh full instalment in George Lucas' iconic saga of intergalactic adventures will be directed by J.J. Abrams and feature the return of everyone's favourite astromech droid, R2-D2 (and yes, in case you're wondering, he's still the only character whose appearance we can officially confirm!).

In terms of narrative chronology, Disney CEO Bob Iger confirmed at a recent shareholders' conference that Episode VII will take place 30 years after the events of Return of the Jedi. Released in 1983, Return centred on the Rebel Alliance's final desperate confrontation with the weakened Galactic Empire, bringing the Original Trilogy to an explosive close as Luke Skywalker bested the near-omnipotent Emperor and even managed to redeem his dying father in the process. Fast forward three decades, and it looks as if Luke, Han and Leia have left the business of galactic protection to their successors (though there's no news to speak of yet as to whether those descendants are genetically linked to the series' original protagonists), since Iger was able to reveal in addition that the next chapter in the saga will pack "a trio of new young leads along with some very familiar faces". Last but not least, you can rest safe in the knowledge that Abrams and his intrepid production team will set to work on the much-vaunted project this May here in the good ol' UK...

Star Wars Episode VII flies out of hyperspace and into cinemas worldwide on December 18th, 2015- we'd advise that you pre-order your tickets for the day of release now, since there's no telling quite how early on George Lucas will kick-start the editing process...

The Incredibles 2 & Cars 3 Announced

Two of Disney Pixar's biggest franchises return to the big-screen for new outings!
Walt Disney Pictures and Pixar Animation Studios have this week announced the production of further instalments in the Cars and The Incredibles film franchises. Currently going under the working titles of Cars 3 and The Incredibles 2, these much-anticipated follow-ups will feature many of the beloved characters who made their respective franchises' début outings such instant hits with audiences across the world.

If we didn't make our stance on such matters abundantly clear in our coverage of Disney's upcoming re-release slate, it's the confirmation of a return for the studio's now-iconic superheroic family which has instilled the most joy in us here at On-Screen during this surprisingly warm third week of March. The very man who brought us the screenplay of The Incredibles back in 2004 (doesn't a decade fly?), Brad Bird, has returned to draft up a script for the sequel, meaning that there's already a virtual guarantee in place of Pixar knocking the ball out of the park once again. Hearing that the Cars series is entering third gear isn't quite so reassuring, on the other hand, especially in light of the mediocre Planes spin-offs we've been receiving of late, and yet it's a small sacrifice to make given how long fans such as us have yearned to return to the world of Mr Incredible, Elastigirl, Dash and Violet- if anyone manages to work out how to speed up time so as to shorten the wait until the second instalment's as of yet unspecified release date, then let us know ASAP!

The Incredibles 2 and Cars 3 will launch in cinemas worldwide sometime after 2016 (the year in which we'll see Finding Dory hit our screens).

Monday, 17 March 2014

Arrow Season 2 Episode 19 Title, Details Announced

Just who is The Man Under The Hood? The answer may not be as obvious as you think.
Showrunner Marc Guggenheim has today revealed the first details on the nineteenth episode of the second season of The CW's superhero drama Arrow. Based on the adventures of DC Comics' iconic archer, the series chronicles the ascension of Oliver Queen into the mantle of the Green Arrow as he battles villainous adversaries in Starling City.

Speaking in a press interview today, the executive producer firstly confirmed that Episode 19 will go by the name of The Man Under The Hood. Unlike the titles of the next three episodes- Suicide Squad, Birds of Prey and Deathstroke- this one doesn't reveal quite so much about the premise of the mid-season première, nor does it offer up hints as to who the week's antagonist will be (Oliver's psyche, perhaps?). What we do know, though, is that Danielle Panabaker and Carlos Valdes will feature as Man's major guest stars, taking on the roles of two professors from S.T.A.R. Labs, a scientific organisation which was introduced in Season Two's two-part mid-season finale The Scientist and Three Ghosts.

Seasoned fans will no doubt recall that those two particular instalments introduced us to Barry Allen, better known in the DC-verse as the Flash, and while Barry won't make any more appearances in Season Two due to his comatose state, both Panabaker and Valdes' characters will return later this year in The CW's spin-off show The Flash. If nothing else, by making their débuts in Arrow first,  the pair of up-and-coming thespians will start to gain sympathy from the viewership months before they acquire recurring roles in Flash, allowing us a degree of familiarity with Grant Gustin's Barry, Panabaker's Caitlin and Valdes' Cisco months ahead of their regular stints. As if all of that info weren't enough to process, Guggenheim even went on to reveal that more characters will know the Arrow's true identity before season's end and Detective Lance will come closer than ever before to learning the truth. Exciting times ahead...

Arrow continues on The CW with Suicide Squad this Wednesday March 19th and on Sky1 with Time of Death this Thursday March 20th.

New Disney Animated Classics Re-Releases Announced

Find out which beloved animated hits will be making a return to the big screen soon...
Walt Disney Pictures have today announced two more of their animated films set to receive a box office re-release. The studio's (relatively successful) initiative began with a renewed big-screen run for The Lion King in 2011, and since then, we've been lucky enough to play host to five more beloved Disney flicks including Beauty and the Beast, The Lady and the Tramp, Toy Story and Peter Pan.

No re-launches of this ilk have been announced for 2014 as of yet, but the next animated instalments set to undergo the Diamond Edition treatment should definitely be enough to raise the excite-o-meters of fans the world over. For us, it's the confirmation that The Incredibles is the latest classic outing on Disney's re-release roster that bodes most promisingly of all, since Incredibles represented nothing less than a tour-de-force in cinematic storytelling and a colossal step forward both for its genre and its medium. The news that a Diamond version of Ratatouille is in the works, however, isn't likely to be met with such a warm reception by the interwebs, not least since that particular France-set cooking romp was one of the least remarkable Pixar contributions in recent history. We can only hope that Incredibles in particular attains a much-deserved second lease of life at the box office in the near future, enough so that Ratatouille's near-guaranteed diminishing return doesn't dissuade Disney from continuing their re-release campaign overall.

For all the latest news, previews, reviews and features on Disney's upcoming projects, keep it On-Screen in the days ahead!

Sunday, 16 March 2014

First The Wolverine 2 Production Details Announced

Could James Mangold's high-octane sequel feature Hugh Jackman's final performance as Wolverine?
Director James Mangold has today revealed the first details on the production schedule of 20th Century Fox's upcoming superhero film The Wolverine 2. The sequel to 2013's The Wolverine will pick up in the aftermath of this Summer's X-Men: Days of Future Past's continuity-bending storyline, as Hugh Jackman's Wolverine faces a deadly new international challenge and responds with an assertion that's sure to send shivers down the spines of villains everywhere- he's got absolutely nothing to lose this time.

Until now, you may not have realised that rumours are abound regarding Jackman's future in the X-Men franchise, and it seems pretty likely that his turn as the iconic immortal mutant in The Wolverine 2 will mark his final contribution to the film series overall. Could he be replaced by another actor? One thing's for sure, we wouldn't envy his successor in the slightest, and a good length of time may well pass before the role officially changes hands to allow fans to come to terms with Jackman's departure. Either way, here's the tweet which Mangold posted over the weekend:
From this comment, then, the production schedule for the next three X-Men films appears pretty clear: Days of Future Past will wrap up on post-production in time for its release in two months' time, at which point director Bryan Singer and his writing team will get to work on X-Men: Apocalypse ahead of its May 2016 release, after which Mangold will pick up the baton and start filming his Wolverine follow-up. Jackman probably won't be involved in Apocalypse (bar perhaps a brief First Class-esque cameo), so we'd best make the most of his headline appearance in this Summer's time-travelling in-between-quel and his final solo venture five years (or so) from now.

X-Men: Days of Future Past claws its way into UK cinemas nationwide on May 22nd, while X-Men: Apocalypse rises from its tomb on May 27th, 2016.

Angry Birds: Epic Announced

Dark Souls II is just the beginning of our fantasy RPG adventures this year, apparently!
Rovio Entertainment have this weekend announced the development of Angry Birds: Epic for release later this year. A new instalment in their best-selling multi-medium franchise, Epic will take the form of an intricate role-playing game with classical turn-based combat and levelling elements and an entirely original narrative experience (no Star Wars or Rio riffs here, folks!).

Unlike past chapters in the series, though, the distribution scheme for this ambitious RPG will represent a trial-and-error approach of sorts from Rovio. Epic will appear first on iTunes down under and in Canada, and provided that "soft launch" (IGN's words, not ours) goes to plan, then we can expect to see the product moved over to the UK via the various digital mobile marketplaces (iOS, Windows Store, Google Play etc.). Look for more details, videos and our definitive verdict on the game itself in the weeks ahead, and stay tuned to On-Screen for coverage of each and every one of 2014's major industry announcements.

Angry Birds: Epic is available on the Canadian and Australian iOS App Store now and will launch in the UK in late March.

Nintendo & McDonalds Commercial Partnership Announced

A Happy Meal is now a Happy Mario (well, not really, but you get the idea)...
As part of their renewed focus on marketing their key video game franchises in other mediums, Nintendo have this weekend confirmed that toys based on the Super Mario series will be packaged with Happy Meal boxes at McDonalds in both the UK and the US. This unprecedented commercial partnership is set to mark merely the first chapter in the former publisher's quest to attain much-needed new sales for their fledging WiiU and 3DS home and handheld consoles respectively.

Here's a full list of the action figures which Mario fans can expect to pick up should they head over to their nearest McDonalds restaurant, indulge their inner child and purchase a Happy Meal starting next week:
  • Mario holding a Brick Block atop a Gold Coin
  • Donkey Kong carrying a Barrel over his shoulder
  • A Power Mushroom
  • A standalone Mario figure
  • Mario rising out of a Warp Pipe
  • A standalone Luigi figure
  • A standalone Toad figure
  • A standalone Yoshi figure
The Super Mario range of toys will début in McDonalds' Happy Meal boxes on Wednesday March 19th.

Saturday, 15 March 2014

Captain America 3 Release Date Announced

We can now add another hero to Batman and Superman's Vs. match- the Cap himself...
The Hollywood Reporter have today confirmed the global release date for the recently-announced third instalment in Marvel Studios' Captain America superhero film franchise. Taking place after the events of this month's Captain America: The Winter Soldier, the threequel will again star Chris Evans as the titular All-American Avenger (and in light of Sebastian Stan's confirmation today that he's still contracted for seven more films in the role of the Winter Soldier, expect to see Bucky's covert alter-ego return as well).

Release date boffins among you may well have come to the realisation that by placing itself on the particular date in 2016 which you'll see below, Captain America 3 is going directly head-to-head with Batman Vs. Superman. As if that particular clash of the titans weren't enough to startle and excite us, May 2016 will also play host to big-screen behemoths like X-Men: Apocalypse (which, according to director Bryan Singer, will feature "more of the mass destruction that X-Men films, to date, have not relied upon", "take place in the '80s" and "introduce familiar characters in a younger time") and Alice In Wonderland: Through The Looking Glass, both of which are sure to provide hefty competition for the two major superhero instalments. Add The Amazing Spider-Man 3, How To Train Your Dragon 3, Finding Dory, Angry Birds, Thor 3 (or Doctor Strange), Independence Day 2, Tarzan and Planet of the Apes 3 to the fray, and we're all but guaranteed another Summer of Film for the ages in two years' time.

Captain America 3 mobilizes in cinemas worldwide on May 6th, 2016.

We Will Rock You Axed

Another One Bites The Dust- the hit West End musical closes its doors this Spring.
The Dominion Theatre have this week announced that the West End stage show We Will Rock You will bring its decade-spanning run in the UK venue to a close next month. Penned by Ben Elton, the production premièred to the world back in 2002, bringing with it a whole host of classic Queen songs including Under Pressure, Who Wants To Live Forever and (naturally) Bohemian Rhapsody and a charming British dystopian narrative to boot.

Suffice to say that if you haven't experienced this superb musical for yourself as of yet and you would go so far as to call yourself a dedicated follower of the band in question, then the best piece of advice that we can offer at this stage is that you open a new window on your internet browser and book a ticket for one of its final performances immediately. While it may lack the classical grandeur of The Phantom of the Opera or the sheer aesthetic audacity of The Lion King and Wicked, this is a production that nevertheless excels in every department, and this writer isn't ashamed to admit that his scepticism regarding Queen and their back-catalogue was instantly dissolved during his first viewing a few years back. Although it'll be departing the West End later this year, expect to hear news of UK tours from up-and-coming dramatic companies in the not too distant future...

We Will Rock You will conclude its Dominion Theatre run this May 31st.

Friday, 14 March 2014

The LEGO Movie 2 Director Announced

Bricks are laid for the sequel to one of 2014's greatest films so far!
Warner Brothers Pictures have today announced the director of their upcoming animated comedy film The LEGO Movie 2. The sequel to last month's The LEGO Movie was announced just days after the first instalment's launch, although no returning cast members from the original's all-star ensemble (which included but was by no means limited to Chris Pratt, Elizabeth Banks, Morgan Freeman and Will Artnett) have been confirmed as of yet.

Next up on the franchise's directorial slate will be Chris McKay, who takes the place of co-directors Chris Miller and Phil Lord this time around (both of whom are currently working on projects such as 22 Jump Street at present). McKay served as The LEGO Movie's animation co-director (or its third helm, if you will), making him a worthy choice to serve as the sequel's aesthetic commander-in-chief in his predecessors' absence. Deadline have warned that there's every chance Warner Brothers could focus on a specific LEGO sub-brand rather than the overarching toy franchise in the follow-up, with the Ninjago range apparently being one of those under consideration, yet our hopes remain sky-high that we'll get another overarching effort that satisfies to just as great an extent as February's spellbinding début outing.

The LEGO Movie 2 completes construction in cinemas worldwide on May 26th, 2017.

The Big Bang Theory Eighth, Ninth & Tenth Seasons Commissioned

Did someone say "BAZINGA!"? No? It must just have been us, then...
CBS have this week announced the commissioning of three more seasons of their hit comedy show The Big Bang Theory. Currently broadcasting its seventh run on E4, the programme focuses on four socially-inept young adults who must attempt to avoid and/or overcome the obstacles of teenage life including romance, alcohol and their friends' inability to recognise their growing academic intellect.

Seeing such a ratings-hoarding production as Big Bang receive further episodes for the 2014/15 season on CBS comes as no great surprise, but it has to be said, this near-unprecedented three-season commission threatened to take us off our feet when we first caught wind of it. Once it hits Season Ten, Chuck Lorre and Bill Prady's pet project will match NBC's iconic sitcom Friends, and given how rapidly that particular comedy began to lose steam in its final hours, we can only hope that Big Bang doesn't follow suit too quickly in the years ahead. Stay tuned to On-Screen for all the latest details on new commissions, cancellations and developments for the 2014/15 season of US TV.

The Big Bang Theory continues on E4 with a repeat of Season Seven's The Itchy Brain Simulation next Thursday March 20th, and will return to both CBS and E4 for Seasons Eight, Nine and Ten in Autumn 2014, Autumn 2015 and Autumn 2016 respectively.

Elementary Third Season Commissioned

The Great Detective will return, and in this case, it WON'T take two years.
CBS have today announced the commissioning of a third season of their detective drama Elementary. Based loosely on Arthur Conan Doyle's Sherlock Holmes novels and short stories, the series stars Jonny Lee Millar as the iconic Baker Street detective and Lucy Liu as his ever-faithful assistant Joan Watson (not to mention Game of Thrones' Natalie Dormer in an incredible turn as Jamie Moriarty).

On the basis of its early episodes, we wouldn't have blamed you for skipping Elementary's first season altogether. Make no mistake, though, the programme has gone from strength to strength ever since the second half of Season One (which featured Dormer's stunning début), introducing a number of compelling new renditions of classic characters including Rhys Ifans' incarnation of Mycroft Holmes and Sean Pertwee's Inspector Lestrade and providing worthy takes on some of the most beloved Holmes tales in the franchise's history. Even if it came off as a tedious Sherlock rip-off at first, the series has come into its own now and could certainly warrant a look from the sceptics among you when it returns for another twenty-two episode run.

Elementary continues its season season on Sky Living with All In The Family this Saturday March 15th at 9pm and will return to both CBS and Sky Living for Season Three this Autumn.

New Doctor Who Series 8 Guest Star Announced

Ashes to Ashes' Keeley Hawes signs on to the fifth episode of the science-fiction drama's next run.
The BBC have today announced a new guest star set to feature in the eighth season of their science-fiction drama Doctor Who. Taking place immediately after the events of last year's Christmas Special, The Time of the Doctor, the latest series will star Peter Capaldi as the Twelfth Doctor, Jenna Coleman as Clara Oswald and Samuel Anderson in the recurring role of Coal Hill School teacher Danny Pink.

Our knowledge of Season Eight's list of guest stars so far has been relatively limited, but it's with great excitement that we can reveal that Keeley Hawes will be amongst the supporting cast of its (as of yet untitled) fifth episode. Based on a "strange and puzzling" alien world, the standalone instalment is penned by Journey to the Centre of the TARDIS scribe Stephen Thompson (who was also behind The Sign of Three in the latest run of Sherlock earlier this year) and is directed by Cold War's Douglas McKinnon. Hawes is set to play the central antagonist of the piece, Ms Delphox (a classic sci-fi name if ever there was one), "a powerful out of this world character with a dark secret" who, Steven Moffat says, will aspire to "the greatest villainy yet attempted on Doctor Who [since] she plays a banker"!

Doctor Who returns for its eighth season of intergalactic voyages and alien confrontations this Autumn on BBC One.

Tuesday, 11 March 2014

The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt Delayed

Geralt's final adventure (and his first next-gen outing, no less) has been pushed back to 2015!
CD Projekt RED and Warner Brothers Interactive Entertainment have today announced that their upcoming fantasy role-playing video game The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt has suffered another delay in its release schedule. Until now, fans were anticipating a Summer 2014 launch for the third and final chapter in the notoriously challenging franchise, and as such, their patience will no doubt be tested considerably in the additional nine months or so that now separate them from experiencing the final product.

Where does this development leave the video gaming industry and its roster for 2014, then? Thankfully, the delay in question shouldn't have too much of a profound effect on our enjoyment of what's to come, since between now and the newly-announced release date, we've got Titanfall, Dark Souls II, Metal Gear Solid V: Ground Zeroes, LEGO The Hobbit, The Amazing Spider-Man 2, Watch Dogs, Transformers: Rise of the Dark Spark, Destiny, Batman: Arkham Knight and Assassin's Creed V to look forward to, and better yet, those are only the instalments that we know about before this year's E3 conference and the wave of game reveals that come with it over the Summer months. If it's a dense RPG that players are looking for, then they'd be well advised to try out South Park: The Stick of Truth or The Elder Scrolls Online (a beta for which can be accessed on CVG.co.uk at this very moment, if that's of interest to you, dear reader) in the meantime.

The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt will retail for PlayStation 4, Xbox One and PC in February 2015.

The Flash Full Costume Promotional Image Released

Grant Gustin runs circles around his predecessors this Autumn!
The CW have today released a new promotional image for the pilot episode of their new superhero drama The Flash. This much-anticipated Arrow spin-off will see Grant Gustin reprise his role as Barry Allen and his super-powered alter-ego the Flash (whose full costume can be seen below!) as the iconic DC character investigates the murder of his mother and other unexplained supernatural occurrences in Central City.

Tonally, we've been told to expect a show that falls more in line with the science-fiction genre than Arrow's weekly action-adventure/thriller-style exploits, yet given that Smallville blurred the line between these two generic categories on regular occasions, it's unlikely that a great deal of problems will come about as a result. There's still two months yet until The CW's Upfront event, where they'll confirm which new projects have received the greenlight for a full season, but with all of the marketing momentum that The Flash has gained in the space of a few short weeks, anything other than an instant commission will surely come as a major shock to everyone involved and Arrow's ever-growing fandom.

The Flash premières on The CW this Autumn.
Grant Gustin as The Flash.

The Inbetweeners 2 UK Release Date Announced

The Boys Are Back, and they're going down under this Summer.
Film4 Productions have today announced the UK release date for the upcoming sequel to their hit 2011 comedy film The Inbetweeners Movie. Now officially titled The Inbetweeners 2, the follow-up will see Simon Bird, James Buckley, Blake Harrison and Joe Thomas reprise their roles as Will, Jay, Neil and Simon respectively as the gang heads to Australia for the ultimate gap year experience.

Since this particular announcement marks one of the definitive steps in terms of the film industry's finalisation of the structure of this year's Summer of Film, we're going to do things a little differently in our coverage. We could give you all of the gossip on the sequel's supporting cast, including Emily Berrington (who did a wonderful job in the role of Stacy in Outnumbered's final season this month), Freddie Stroma (who played the Gryffindor student Cormac McLaggen in the final three Harry Potter films) and David Field (an esteemed Aussie thespian), but instead, we're going to provide a comprehensive summary of the Spring and Summer film line-up (with the hottest releases marked in yellow for your reading convenience)...
  • MARCH- The Grand Budapest Hotel; Need for Speed; Muppets Most Wanted; Captain America: The Winter Soldier; Noah
  • APRIL- Oculus; Rio 2; A Haunted House 2; Transcendence; The Amazing Spider-Man 2
  • MAY- Belle; Legends of Oz: Dorothy's Return; Neighbors; Godzilla; X-Men: Days of Future Past; Maleficent; A Million Ways To Die In The West
  • JUNE- Edge of Tomorrow; The Fault in our Stars; 22 Jump Street; How to Train Your Dragon 2, Transformers: Age of Extinction
  • JULY- Dawn of the Planet of the Apes; Step Up All In
  • AUGUST- Guardians of the Galaxy; The Inbetweeners 2; Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles; Sin City: A Dame To Kill For
The Inbetweeners 2 surfs into UK cinemas nationwide this August 6th.

Monday, 10 March 2014

Archival Disc Announced

Were you hoping for yet another iteration of the Blu-Ray format? No, nor us.
The Sony Corporation have today announced the development of a new format of optical disc to début later this year. Branded as the 'Archival Disc', this format will eventually allow for a data capacity of up to 500GB or 1TB, and even at the time of its première, its storage will amount to 300GB, which in itself is six times more than the current Blu-Ray format will allow.

In all honesty, though, to us it feels as if the Blu-Ray format has barely had its time to shine in the spotlight, since many late adopters (us included) have only owned players for a few months or so now. There's nothing wrong with technological development within the entertainment industry from time to time, certainly, yet Sony may be pushing this particular advancement forward a little too quickly for the market's liking, and as such may well find themselves regretting it in a few months' time. Stay tuned for On-Screen in the weeks ahead for all the latest details on the 'Archival Disc' format and its implications for the wider industry...

'Archival Disc' players will launch alongside Panasonic TV sets in Summer 2015.