Doctor Who Series 1 Dalek Review

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Dalek

Review by Paul Bowler

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Once seemingly forgotten and unloved by the BBC, Doctor Who was lovingly resurrected from the enforced exile of cancellation in 2005 by Russell T Davies, Julie Gardener, Mal Young, and Phil Collinson. Together they crafted a new vision of the worlds longest running Science Fiction programme, capitalizing on their heartfelt love of Doctor Who and its rich mythology to successfully regenerate the concept in a way that would appeal to fans of the classic series whilst simultaneously capturing the imagination of a whole new generation of fans.

One crucial element, however, was initially missing – the Daleks. So when the TARDIS brought the Doctor (Christopher Eccleston) and Rose (Billie Piper) to Henry Van Stattens vast underground museum of alien artefacts near Salt Lake City, Utah, in the series one episode Dalek (2005), we watch transfixed as the Doctor is led to a gloomy cell for an encounter with the proprietors prized exhibit – The Metaltron – little knowing that the hate-fuelled horror trapped inside will prove to be a terrifying reminder of his own not-so-distant past in which he sacrificed everything to save the universe from a war of eternal oblivion

Its hard to believe now, that this momentous moment almost never happened. The BBC had initially been unable to gain the permission of Terry Nations estate to use Skaros eponymous metal mutants in the new series of Doctor Who. Thankfully the matter was soon rectified, allowing Russell T Davies to incorporate Robert Shermans own adaptation of his Big Finish audio Jubilee – a story which quite rightly instigated a renaissance for Colin Bakers undervalued 6th Doctor – as well as providing this seasons Big Bad for Christopher Ecclestons battle hardened 9th Doctor to fight.

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The episode Dalek effectively stifled any chance of a mid-season lull by whipping up a frenzy of speculation with a trailer that was little more than a strangled voice in the dark: DOC-TOR…” The Daleks were back, and with them in place the enduring legacy of Russell T Davies bold vision was assured, Doctor Who would soon become an unparalleled success – spawning two spin-off shows, Torchwood and the Sarah Jane Adventures (with new spin-off Class (2016) set in Coal Hill School begin the most recent addition to the Doctor Who universe), animated adventures, merchandise galore, and critical accolades from around the world.

The Doctors initial terror at being trapped in the Cage with the Dalek quickly dissolves into pious joy as he realizes the Dalek is unable to exterminate him; although the ranting diatribe which then ensues between the mortal enemies almost chews up the scenery, we, like the Doctor, are all too aware of the destructive capabilities even this solitary Dalek could pose to humanity. The war of words culminates in a chilling realization for both Time Lord and Dalek – for without orders to govern it the Dalek is devoid of purpose or function, while the Doctor, bereft of his people, has been left broken by the terrible consequences of his actions.

To coin a phrase, Christopher Eccelston is absolutely fantastic in this episode. His embittered portrayal of the 9th Doctors fury is almost palpable here, matching Nicholas Briggs superb delivery as the voice of the equally war ravaged Dalek antagonist word for word, and it is only now in hindsight that we realize how just pivotal this moment was for the new series. Bear in mind that at this point in the new shows mythology the Doctor and the Dalek were as much in the dark as we were, having already learned of the cataclysmic fate that befell Gallifrey during The End Of The World (2005), but nothing more beyond that point.

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Of course, the Daleks with all their ingenuity have indeed managed to survive the Time War: The Emperor has been rebuilding his Dalek Empire in orbit above Earth in the far future (2005‘s Bad Wolf & The Parting of the Ways), the Cult of Skaro have escaped into The Void (2006‘s Army of Ghosts & Doomsday), even Davros ship somehow evaded destruction after being consumed by the maw of The Nightmare Child (2008‘s The Stolen Earth and Journey‘s End), but perhaps most audacious of all is the lone Dalek Cruiser that travelled back in time to become part of Winston Churchills war effort during the Blitz (2010’s Victory of the Daleks), infiltrating Churchills War Room with tea-making Ironsides in an ingenious ploy to trick the Doctor into activating The Progenitor – effectively resurrecting the Dalek race with a pure genetic matrix unblemished by their past defeats.

Besides the Doctor, the only Time Lord who initially seemed to have evaded the apocalyptic demise of Gallifrey was The Master in Utopia, played initially by Derek Jacobi before he regenerated into John Simm’s incarnation of the renegade Time Lord for The Sound of Drums, and Last of the Time Lords (2007), but a small handful of Time Lords also became stranded in a pocket universe The Doctor’s Wife (2011) where they, and their TARIDS, unfortunately succumbed to the interstellar parasite known as House. Even Rassilon (played by Timothy Dalton) and the Time Lords would later use their esteemed power and knowledge to attempt to transcend the laws of time to escape the all consuming Time Lock of the final conflict as Gallifrey burned along with the ten million strong Dalek Battle-Fleet in The End of Time Parts 1 & 2 (Dec 25th 2009 / Jan 1st 2010)

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So, in retrospect, when the Doctor confides in Rose Tyler that he would be able to sense if any of his people had survived; a point which further emphasises this 9th incarnations inherent loneliness. Interestingly it is this one inherent weakness of the Doctor which the imprisoned Dalek in the Series One episode Dalek uses here to its advantage: And the coward survived…” it grates during their initial encounter in the Cell, then later deflecting the Doctors incandescent fury after it has ruthlessly exterminated the security teams sent to cover Rose and Adams escape by stating: You would make a good Dalek!

Of course, one of the big mysteries in 2005 was how did the 8th Doctor regenerate into the 9th Doctor? It wasn’t until the 50th Anniversary special min-episode The Night of the Doctor (2013) that we learned the exact nature of the 8th Doctors (Paul McGann) regeneration and how his role evolved into something far darker in the Time War. The catalyst for this most ignoble of the Doctors incarnations regeneration, however, also became entwined with a hitherto unknown aspect of the Time Lord that actually existed before Christopher Eccelston‘s 9th Doctor, after John Hurt was revealed as another incarnation of the Doctor – The War Doctor – in the Season Seven finale: The Name of The Doctor (2013). The Time War itself was finally realised in all its glory on screen in The 50th Anniversary special The Day of the Doctor (2013), effectively rebooting the series once more, with the Time Lords later granting the 11th Doctor (Matt Smith) a new regeneration cycle in The Time of The Doctor (2013), and fuelling the quest to find Gallifrey that would ultimately lead to the 12th Doctor’s (Peter Capaldi) eventual rediscovery and return to his home world for the Series 9 finale Hell Bent (2015).

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But it is in the episode Dalek where the genesis of these tangled plot threads inadvertently rests. Of the supporting cast in Dalek, Cory Johnson plays the suitably odious billionaire Henry Van Statten. For all his wealth and power, Van Statten has been unable to capitalise on his most treasured exhibit from another world – the Dalek. Even though it has been tortured remorselessly by the sadistic Simmons (Nigel Whitmey) the Dalek steadfastly refuses to talk to Van Statten. The entrepreneur has built his fortune on the back of extraterrestrial finds such as this, but he also has a contemptible attitude towards his staff – wiping the minds of those who fail him and turning them into homeless junkies. It is perhaps fitting then that he suffers the same fate at the end of the episode when his PA Diana Goddard (Anna Louise Plowman) usurps him and closes the facility down.

Then we have Adam (Bruno Langley) a teenage genus who claims to have almost started WWIII on his home computer. Whether or not Adam was just showing off to impress Rose, it seems he was plucked from obscurity by Van Statten to serve as his personal scientific advisor – cataloguing and discerning the use of every exhibit. Indeed, when the Doctor shows Adam and Van Statten how to play a strange musical instrument, we see a faint glimmer of a potential in Adam, but its soon quashed when Adam is revealed as something of a misguided and gutless wannabe after his one – and only – journey in the TARDIS (2005‘s The Long Game).

When the Dalek crash landed on the Ascension Islands it burned in a crater for three days, screaming helplessly within the chaotic embers of a decaying temporal shift, leaving it critically damaged and at the mercy of Henry Van Statten. It soon took pride of place in Van Stattens collection, which also includes a Slitheen arm and the head of a Revenge style Cyberman, where it was tortured to within an inch of it life. The new Dalek design is chunkier than the classic version we all know and love: enhanced with ablative armour plating, a wider, more angular skirt, and bedecked with a golden livery that belies this Daleks role as a ruthless weapon of mass destruction. Even in this damaged state, the Dalek is mightily impressive to look at. The new eye stalk is particularly unsettling with its blue optics and dilating iris. Once regenerated by Roses touch this Dalek displays a wealth of new abilities: it bristles with enhanced firepower, a rotating mid-section, astonishing computational skill, and most sensationally of all – the power of flight. Yes, that age old joke about the Daleks and stairs is finally laid to rest as Rose, Adam, and De Maggio (Jana Montana) make their escape – looking on in horror as the Dalek gracefully rises into the air to follow them up a staircase.

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De Maggio sacrifices herself to buy Rose and Adam more time to escape from the Dalek, but Rose becomes trapped in the Vault with the Dalek. The Dalek may have tricked Rose into touching it, thus enabling it to absorb the energy of a Time Traveller and escape, but it didn’t bargain on the exchange being a two way street! Rose notices the change in the Daleks behaviour, even stopping it from killing Van Statten, before leading the Dalek towards the upper levels where it blasts a hole in the concrete overhead. The sun pours in through the gap as the Dalek opens its casing to reveal the mutant inside. It basks in the sunlight a moment, perhaps lost in some latent Kaled race memory, to a time before Skaro was consumed by war

Rose is horrified to see the Doctor train the energy cannon he is carrying on the Dalek. Billie Piper gives a magnificent performance here, as Rose makes him see what has really happened to the Dalek, how it has been changed by her DNA, and the Doctor almost falls to his knees with the horror of what he has become. The Dalek asks Rose, in another standout moment for Billie Piper, if she is afraid, as if seeking some bizarre recompense for the contamination that her DNA has caused it. She realizes how horrific it must be for the Dalek to survive in this state, so she complies, and orders the Dalek to self-terminate so that its twisted; miserable existence might finally come to an end.

Dalek is one of the major highlight of Doctor Who Series One, but its also the episode that really made us all see the Daleks as more than just mindless killing machines. Brilliantly directed by Joe Ahearne, it also featured a critical juncture in the relationship between the Doctor and Rose, reaffirming the vital role which the companion plays in providing the light that tempers the Time Lord’s steely resolve. Dalek is still my favourite episode from Christopher Ecclestons brief tenure as the 9th Doctor, it stands as a powerful portent of the many adventures that followed, and indeed those that no doubt are still to come, and remains a landmark event in Doctor Whos triumphant return!

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The X-Files #11 Review

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The X-Files #11

Review by Paul Bowler

Special FBI Agent Fox Mulder unearths more clues in The X-Files #11 about the Cigarette Smoking Man’s and the now defunct Syndicates clandestine role during the Iran-Contra scandal. Mulder has been contacted by a man with links to his father’s past, someone who miraculously survived an execution ordered by the Smoking Man, but it wasn’t just an illegal arms deal that brought the CSM and Bill Mulder to Nicaragua in 1987…

Building on the success of the X-Files triumphant return in the Fox TV event series in 2016, Mulder and Scullys investigations into conspiracies, the paranormal, and uncanny extraterrestrial phenomena continues in this issue of the all-new ongoing X-Files comic book series from IDW Publishing, written by Joe Harris, with art by Greg Scott, and colors by Wes Dzioba, together with the participation of Chris Carter.

The X-Files #11 The Contrarians Part 2 (of 2) is a sublimely crafted issue by Joe Harris. From the opening flashback to 1987, in Nicaragua, we gain further insight into the full extent of the dark machinations, both professional and personal, that have defined the Cigarette Smoking Man’s and Bill Mulder’s dark association, which has ultimately brought them to this secret location at such a critical juncture in history. Meanwhile, in present day Washington, DC, Fox Mulder’s investigation has inadvertently led to him being sought out by the same man who survived a firing squad back in Nicaragua in 1987. It’s an encounter that brings Mulder closer to a secret from the past, one with strong ties to his father and the CSM that will bring him closer to the truth than ever before.

Punctuated by a heavy metal beat that seamlessly splices past and present for Mulder in more ways than one, The Contrarians Part 2 is a bold, grim, and powerful issue of the X-Files. Joe Harris’s story skilfully emulates the same tone and style of The X-Files fourth season episode Musings of a Cigarette Smoking Man (written by Glen Morgan and James Wong) from 1996, which also explored the shadowy past of the TV series archetypical villain and his part in key historical events and assassinations during his dark rise to power. This time in The X-Files #11 the backdrop is the Iran-Contra affair, as we discover how the Cigarette Smoking Man played a major role in shaping events, as well as his influence over President Regan, who also features in this issue – although to a lesser (yet far more poignant) degree than his appearance in The Contrarians Part 1 last issue.

The artwork by Greg Scott deftly integrates both eras in which the story unfolds. Page layout are clear and stylish, almost giving you the sense that you are yourself leafing through an X-File plucked straight from Mulder’s filing cabinet, striking close-ups, sweeping panoramic flashbacks, and the neat use of perspective all effortlessly serve to immerse you in dark, intricate layers of the plot, and Scotts rendering of all the characters involved is also uncannily precise. The tension between Bill Mulder and the Cigarette Smoking Man in Nicaragua is almost palpable, with snide asides cutting the air like a knife, and CSM’s vested interest in Fox Mulder’s life and career already clearly evident. The colors by Wes Dzioba blends tone and shade in remarkable ways, heightening the drama, whilst accentuating the extraterrestrial overtones to the max, and the gritty, washed out, newsreel style Dziba uses to embellish event in Nicaragua is utterly sublime.

Scully’s investigation at the FBI Lab in Quantico into the package of metal fibres Mulder was given, yields some surprising results, setting in motion a chain of events that will lay old ghost to rest while a close encounter of the third kind unravels across history as Agent Mulder stumbles into something that will make him want to believe more than ever…

The Contrarians has been a great story from Joe Harris, Greg Scott, and Wes Dziob that exemplifies the distinct blend of fact, fiction, and the unexplained that always makes The X-Files so engrossing and thought provoking. The Truth is well and truly out there in The X-Files #11, so, if, like me, youre a big fan of the original X-Files TV series and enjoyed The X-Files 2016s special TV event series, then IDWs X-Files is the comic book series for you, and Id certainly recommend it as theres plenty for new fans to enjoy here as well.

Publisher: IDW Publishing

Writer: Joe Harris / Art: Greg Scott / Colors: Wes Dzioba

Letters: Chris Mowry / Cover: Menton 3

Sci-Fi Jubilee My YouTube Channel Horizon Zero Dawn

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Sci-Fi Jubilee My YouTube Channel Horizon Zero Dawn

Thanks for checking out my YouTube Channel everyone! After having a short break from walkthrough videos because I’ve been busy reviewing some of the latest comic books and films recently, I thought I’d check out the new PS4 game Horizon Zero Dawn. It’s a great game where you play as Aloy, a young female warrior in a lush, post apocalyptic world where nature has reclaimed the ruins of a long forgotten civilization, and pockets of humanity live on in primitive hunter gatherer tribes. Their dominion over this new wilderness has been usurped by the machines – fearsome mechanical creatures of unknown origin!

I’m really enjoying playing Horizon Zero Dawn, there’s a vast open world to explore, and I’ve become completely engrossed by the storyline and the characters. Gameplay is also excellent and the controls are easy to master. Overall there’s a great mix of all-out action, stealth, weapons, traps, and skill crafting, and the graphics are amazing!

This video I’ve edited together features the a scene where Aloy helps destroy a “Demon”, a fearsome Corruptor machine, along with the Corrupted machines it leads in an attack on the sanctuary of Mother Heart. It’s a really action-packed moment in the early stages of the story, I think it gives you a good sense of what the game is like, and the graphics are stunning. After the battle we also see how Aloy can use the override device from the Corruptor to control some of the machines herself, and even turn one into a trusty steed for her journey.

Horizon Zero Dawn is a huge game, so I might not do walkthroughs for it, but I’ll probably post some more gameplay videos on my YouTube Channel as I play through the game. Please feel free to like, share, and subscribe if you enjoy them, and thank you once again for all your amazing support for Sci-Fi Jubilee and my YouTube Channel!

 

All Star Batman #8 Review

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All Star Batman #8

Review by Paul Bowler

An uncanny, mind-bending adventure awaits in All Star Batman #8 as the Dark Knight’s mission to save the world leads Batman into a fateful encounter with one of the most deranged members of his infamous Rogue’s Gallery… the Mad-Hatter!

Fittingly, this penultimate instalment of Ends of The Earth unites the all-star team of acclaimed writer Scott Snyder and artist Guiseppe Camuncoli to bring us the most intriguing and bizarre chapter in this saga so far. Batman’s quest to contain and neutralize the deadly spores Mr Freeze unleashed upon the world has already been partly successful, thanks to a cure provided by Poison Ivy, brining a temporary reprieve to the crisis, but the creeping death could begin spreading again at any moment. Now, with a team of camouflaged adversaries called the Blackhawks hampering Batman’s efforts and Duke suddenly MIA, the trail of clues has led him to a secluded house in the dank depths of the Batchaloo swamp where Batman must now confront the Mad-Hatter.

Ends of the Earth Part 3, like all of the issues in Scott Snyder’s latest All Star Batman story-arc, begins with Batman walking – quite literally – into the story; with a monologue-like introduction that gives us a tantalizing taste of what to expect from this issue as Batman emerges from the waters of the swamp. In essence while the narrative is more prose than comic book in many respects, these entrances have all felt like metaphors for the far wider scope of the overall story itself. Yet in other, more subtle ways, they also feel deeply personal and frank, non more so perhaps than with this issue, as Snyder writes from the very heart and soul of his being in a way that resonates as powerfully with the reader as it does with the characters on the page.

There are battles with some familiar faces and those not so familiar as well, but they are over before they are even instigated really. Batman doesn’t have time to hang about, the clock is ticking, the world is at stake, and nothing is going to make him late for this tea party! I’ll be honest with you, I’ve never rated the Mad-Hatter that highly, and in fact I’ve always considered him to be a decidedly second rate Bat-villain. However, Snyder does indeed work his magic – weaving in some intriguing connections from the past – to make the Mad-Hatter a truly dangerous and compellingly cunning adversary to be reckoned with in this issue.

All Star Batman #8 features some of this arcs most distinctive artwork yet, with Giuseppi Camuncoli’s pencils beautifully rendering the swampy locale, the initial fights are a joyous blend of instinct, strategy, gadgets, and wise fashion choices that prove Batman’s way never goes out of style. I can’t decide whether its Camuncoli’s depiction of the Mad-Hatter’s warped dreams for his inventions to send the world collectively though the looking glass or the terrifying plunge through the raw psyche of the Dark Knight’s grey matter that is the biggest highlight of the issue, but one thing’s for sure, with such gloriously atmospheric inks from Mark Morales and hauntingly psychedelic colors by Dean White, this issue is deliriously brilliant experience on every level.

The Cursed Wheel Part 7, continues the back up story written by Scott Snyder, and featuring stunning artwork by Francesco Francavilla. Although the focus for the majority of this storyline has been on Duke’s training, here we take a bit of time out for this beautifully crafted interlude – which also nicely links in with past events – as Duke finds inspiration in the most unlikely of places.

Our trip down the rabbet hole ends as All Star Batman #8 draws to a close in a fittingly explosive, and reality warping fashion. So, has this issue changed my mind about the Mad-Hatter? Well, yes, almost… While I don’t think the Mad-Hatter will ever be amongst my favourite villains from Batman‘s Rogues Gallery, this issue from Scott Snyder and Guiseppe Camuncoli has certainly altered my perceptions of the character. All Star Batman #8 is a wild, psychological, and chilling mind-trip though a Bat-themed Wonderland and it sets everything up for the thrilling conclusion of Ends of The Earth where the true villain will finally be revealed!

Publisher DC Comics

Writer: Scott Snyder / Pencils: Giuseppi Camuncoli

Inks: Mark Morales / Colors: Dean White / Letters: Steve Wands

The Cursed Wheel Part 7 / Writer: Scott Snyder / Art: Francesco Francavilla

Regular Cover & Variant Cover: Camuncoli & White

Variant Cover: Francesco Francavilla

Doctor Who Series 10 Trailer Released!

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Doctor Who Series 10 Trailer Released!

Check out the awesome new Doctor Who Series 10 trailer! Staring Peter Capaldi as the Doctor, with Pearl Mackie as new companion Bill, along with Matt Lucas as Nardole, Doctor Who Series 10, begins on Saturday 15th April 2017! I think it’s a great looking trailer, lots of locations and monsters, can’t wait for the new series!

Images Belong BBC

Kong Skull Island Review

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Kong Skull Island

Review by Paul Bowler

Kong Skull Island sees Hollywood’s most iconic movie monster of them all, King Kong, smashing his way back onto the big screen, together with an all-star cast, including Tom Hiddleston, Samuel L Jackson, John Goodman, Brie Larson, and John C Reilly for Director Jordan Vogt-Roberts blockbusting reboot of the Kong Kong franchise.

Set in 1973, as the Vietnam War is drawing to a close, representatives of Monarch (the same corporation from Gareth Edwards’ Godzilla) scientist Bill Randa (John Goodman) and his colleague Houston Brooks (Corey Hawkins), recruit British former S.A.S officer / James Conrad (Tom Hiddleston) for his tracking skills, along with anti-war photographer Mason Weaver (Brie Larson), and a crack team of soldiers led by Samuel L Jackson’s no-nonsense Colonel Packard, to escort them to a fabled uncharted island to uncover its mysteries.

But when their helicopters are attacked by Kong, the downed survivors of the expedition of scientists and soldiers face a daunting trek across Skull Island to rendezvous with a rescue team. On the way they encounter the local natives, and Marlow (John C Reilly), a WWII pilot who became stranded on Skull Island back in 1944, and with his help they continue their journey, running a dangerous gauntlet with the other gigantic monsters on the island amidst their epic clashes with Kong in their desperate bid to escape from Skull Island.

Kong Skull Island is an entertaining adrenalin fuelled monster movie, the screenplay by Dan Gilroy, Max Borenstein, and Derek Connolly is fast paced and exciting. You can’t really go wrong though when you have a cast of the calibre of Tom Hiddleston, Brie Larson, Samuel L Jackson, and John Goodman, even though the story gives scant time for much in-depth characterization, but, aside some odd moments of cheesy dialogue, there are strong performances all around, and John C Reilly totally steals the lime-light from everyone as Marlow.

The real “star” of the movie, though, is of course King Kong himself, and the other bizarre array of creatures that inhabit Skull Island. Kong looks magnificent, standing at 100ft tall; the gigantic monster ape has never looked more menacing and as powerful as he has here. His introduction is swift, tossing helicopters left right and centre, in a terrifying display of bestial fury, and from there on in every time Kong appears to menace the expedition or battle monsters, your jaw will hit the floor as the rampaging carnage unfolds. As well as Kong, Hiddleston and Co encounter all manner of other wild and dangerous beasties during their arduous voyage across the island, the most fearsome of which are the Skullcrawlers, who in turn are also Kong’s most formidable adversaries on the island.

Sidestepping the more usual Kong tropes to go for a full-on reboot in terms of tone and style, the distinct Apocalypse Now vibe that Director Jordan Vogt-Roberts has going on with the stunning visuals epitomizes Vogt-Roberts vision for the film, which, together with the terrific 70’s soundtrack, effectively ensures that this adventure to Skull Island hardly ever hits a dull moment. Its a monster movie epic that makes Kong the revered king of all he surveys – in every sense of the word. Sure, the plot and the human characters may be a bit inconsequential next to all the mega-buck B-Movie monster action set-pieces, but let’s face it, where all here to see Kong in action and unashamedly wallow in the sheer spectacle of it all anyway.

Kong Skull Island does exactly what it says on the tin, and then some. It all rounds off with a titanic smack down as Kong tackles his most powerful adversary of all, and there’s even some tantalising post-credit franchise cross pollinating to look out for as well. Big on action and high on fun, Kong Skull Island is a triumphant reimagining of the King Kong mythos for fans old and new, and a sure-fire monster hit not to be missed.

 

New Wonder Woman Origin Trailer Released!

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New Wonder Woman Official Origin Trailer Released!

Check out the stunning new Wonder Woman official origin trailer released by Warner Brothers and DC Films. It looks brilliant, even more excited for this Wonder Woman film now!

From Warner Bros. Pictures and DC Entertainment comes the epic action adventure starring Gal Gadot, Chris Pine, Connie Nielsen and Robin Wright, directed by Patty Jenkins.

Before she was Wonder Woman, she was Diana, princess of the Amazons, trained to be an unconquerable warrior. Raised on a sheltered island paradise, when an American pilot crashes on their shores and tells of a massive conflict raging in the outside world, Diana leaves her home, convinced she can stop the threat. Fighting alongside man in a war to end all wars, Diana will discover her full powers…and her true destiny.

Wonder Woman is in theaters June 2, 2017.

And here’s the beautiful new Wonder Woman poster!

 

Logan Film Review

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Logan

Review by Paul Bowler

Logan embarks on a violent, bloody, finale stand as Hugh Jackman returns to the role of Wolverine, the iconic Mutant X-Man with the unbreakable adamantium skeleton, retractable claws, and incredible healing factor. Based loosely around the Marvel Comics classic Old Man Logan storyline by writer Mark Millar and artist Steve McNiven, Logan is tenth instalment in the X-Men film series from 20th Century Fox where Jackman originally debuted as Wolverine in X-Men (2000), its also the third Wolverine film after the less than favourable X-Men Origins: Wolverine (2009) and the far superior The Wolverine (2013).

Set in 2029 where Mutantkind is on the brink of extinction, Logan (Hugh Jackman) finds our erstwhile hero now a shadow of his former self, ravaged by age, world weary, and slowly being poisoned by the Adamantiun in his body. Logan is carving out a meagre living as a chauffeur in El Paso, his only ally is the albino Mutant Caliban (Stephen Merchant), and together they care for the X-Men’s former leader Professor Charles Xavier (Patrick Stewart) – who is now suffering from a degenerative neurological condition – in a derelict hideout across the border in Mexico.

But danger and tragedy strikes when the nurse Gabriella (Elizabeth Rodriguez) from the secret Transigen project entrusts Logan with a mission to escort Laura / X23 (Dafine Keen), a mute child with powers savagely akin to Wolverine‘s own abilities, to a sanctuary in North Dakota. Logan and Laura set out a dangerous cross country journey, closely pursued by Transigen’s deadly operatives The Reavers and their vicious cybernetically enhanced leader, Donald Pierce (Boyd Holbrock), and as the final stand looms on the Canadian border Logan must confront the dark secrets of his past as he faces his ultimate destiny…

Hugh Jackman give a powerful, emotive, and rip-roaring performances as the aging Mutant, who proves he’s still a force to be reckoned with even though his fabled healing factor isn’t exactly what it used to be. If anything, Jackman’s grizzled portrayal as the old man Logan is probably his finest turn yet in the iconic role that he‘s undeniably made his own since he first played it seventeen years ago. Despite Logan’s ragged and downtrodden appearance, Jackman’s brooding physical presence is still every bit as imposing as ever, and when those claws pop you better watch out bub!Just like 20th Century Fox’s smash-hit X-Men spin-off, Deadpool, Logan positively revels in its fifteen certificate. The violence is brutal, visceral, and unflinching, but it feels good to see Jackman portray Logan in a movie that finally allows Wolverine a chance to really cut loose against his enemies with the full-on savage fury that the character is so well-known for in the comics.

Patrick Stewart is also on fine form as the ailing Professor X, and his scenes with Hugh Jackman are utterly sublime. Charles is like a surrogate father figure to Logan now, the bond between them is as unbreakable as adamantium itself, and the combined tragedy of their circumstances coupled with the Professor’s terrifying psychic seizures brings added gravitas to many of Logan’s most poignant and powerful moments. Stephen Merchant is also excellent as the Mutant tracker Caliban, while Dafne Keen is a revelation as Logan’s young prodigy, the stoic, and sometimes frighteningly feral, Laura / X23. Richard E Grant is also good as the sinister Dr Zander Rice, the head of Transigen, and Boyd Holbrock is brilliant as the ruthless Reaver henchman Donald Pierce.

Directed by James Mangold, who also helmed 2013’s The Wolverine, Logan is a film that side-steps the usual superhero movie conventions to take us, much like the comic book storyline that inspired it, into much darker territory. Logan is a no-nonsense, uber-violent, blend of western and road movie, tinged with a razor keen sense of humour, and a strong character driven plot.

There are a few pacing issues, but nothing too major. Mangold also skilfully bends in nods to the previous X-Men films and comic book references – quite literally in one instance – for fans, but don’t expect colourful costumes, or huge CGI action set-pieces. Logan is a bleaker, far grittier experience, and it makes for a film that feels all the more richer as a result.

Logan is the Wolverine movie we’ve always wanted. It takes us on an epic journey for what is, purportedly, Hugh Jackman’s final adventure as the ferocious Wolverine, and it brings the characters cinematic saga full circle. It’s beautifully filmed, the story is dark and compelling, and it races to a rampaging action-packed finale which in turn provides a brutally fitting and emotional swansong for Jackman’s time in the role.

The Walking Dead #165 Review

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The Walking Dead #165

 Review by Paul Bowler

Opportunity strikes as the battle for survival rages on in The Walking Dead #165, Alexandria has fallen before the terrifying might of the Walker herd unleashed at the end of the Whisperer War, and now the shambling tide of the dead threatens to overwhelm them all. Trapped inside Alexandria, Rick and Negan must work together to have any hope of escape. Meanwhile outside, Carl leads a group of Hilltop survivors into battle with Dwight and his team to thin out the herd while Maggie, Andrea, Eugene, Michonne, and Jesus set out on horseback to drive the horde away from Alexandria and towards the ocean, as the Saviors continue to watch, and wait for their moment…

The war with the Whisperer might be over, at least for now anyway, but there have been major losses on all sides. Father Gabriel is dead, the Hilltop has been completely raised to the ground, and Beta’s parting act to set the massive Walker herd on Alexandria has placed Rick’s community and his friends in dire peril.

Rick Kirkman always writes The Walking Dead in a way that often challenges and defies out expectations with the completely unexpected. In hindsight of Negan’s and Rick’s impromptu hear-to-heart last issue – now there’s a sentence I never EVER thought I’d write in a million years – the dynamic between them has been radically altered, but as they fight side-by-side against the Walkers in this issue there’s still that gnawing doubt that the reluctant trust this situation has forged between them is more a case of better the devil you know for both of them. Still, it will be interesting to see how this pans out. Its also good to see the rest of the Alexandrians following their lead – especially after they all high tailed it and left Rick and Negan to fend for themselves when the gates of Alexandria fell – and rise up to fight alongside them against the undead masses.

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Charlie Adlard’s artwork for The Walking Dead #165 provides us with a veritable tour de force of action and drama, with bold, stylishly structured page layouts building the tension. The 16 panel page grid is once more utilized, arguably to ever greater effect that even during the Whisperer War, to condense the action featuring Rick and Negan, Carl and Lydia, Dwight’s team, Andrea, Maggie, Dante, Jesus, Michonne, and Eugene as the battle inside with the zombies and the plan outside to ferry the herd away form Alexandria unfolds at break neck speed! Stefano Gaudianos stunning inks and the impeccable grey tones by Cliff Rathburn bring added fervour and intensity to every scene. The panoramic Cliffside two-page spread is both beautifully and horrifically realized by Adlard, Guadiano, and Rathburn, succinctly and sharply polarizing the simplicity of Eugene’s assessment of the success of their plan with the potential environmental consequences such action will bring to coldly illustrate that – zombie apocalypse or not – humanity is still probably going to end up dumping its shit into the sea until the end of the world and beyond anyway.

This issue frenetically intercuts between a number of plot strands, with attempts to prevent sections of the Walker herd turning back towards Alexandria putting key characters in moral jeopardy, and the Saviors – who have been observing from the sidelines for so long – finally decide to make their move. To think, only a few issues ago, it looked like Rick had won the Whisperer War, but as Beta retreated the Walker herd was released, and with all the communities in disarray everything that Rick and the survivors have fought so hard to build looks like it could be swept away overnight.

The Walking Dead #165 is another terrific issue from Robert Kirkman and Charlie Adlard that takes this Image Comics series to new heights of unparallel drama and suspense. Things that have been foreshadowed are slowly coming to pass, the spoils of victory are there for the taking, it just remains to be seen who will be left standing to claim them! The Walking Dead #165 certainly has a cliff-hanger to end all cliff-hangers as well, and its one that’ll sink its teeth into the collective fandom of The Walking Dead like never before!

Publisher: Image

Writer: Robert Kirkman / Art: Charlie Adlard

Inks: Stefano Gaudiano / Grey tones: Cliff Rathburn / Letters: Rus Wooton

New ALIEN: COVENANT Official Trailer released!

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New ALIEN: COVENANT Official Trailer released!

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Check out the new official trailer 20th Century Fox has released for Alien: Covenant! Wow, this looks so good, we get a good look at the alien at last, can’t wait for this film! Ridley Scott returns to the universe he created, with ALIEN: COVENANT, a new chapter in his groundbreaking ALIEN franchise. The crew of the colony ship Covenant, bound for a remote planet on the far side of the galaxy, discovers what they think is an uncharted paradise, but is actually a dark, dangerous world. When they uncover a threat beyond their imagination, they must attempt a harrowing escape!

Directed by: Ridley Scott and staring: Michael Fassbender, Katherine Waterston, Billy Crudup, Danny McBride, Demián Bichir, Carmen Ejogo, Amy Seimetz, Jussie Smollett, Callie Hernandez, Nathaniel Dean, Alexander England, Benjamin Rigby

And here’s the teaser poster… HIDE!

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ALIEN: COVENANT is in Theaters – May 19, 2017