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    Matt Smith reviews episode 8 of The Following season 2...
    With last week’s start on the road back to good TV, The Following gave itself the chance to redeem itself in this critic’s eyes. A new cult introduced, Joe Carroll seemingly getting back to his full strength and Agent Weston falling deeper and deeper as he’s pushed further and further.

    This week there’s the fallout from the latter, as Weston’s family and friends bury his father. Meanwhile, Ryan Hardy is given legitimate legal power in chasing down Carroll with the a-okay from the higher ups. Carroll himself deals with the fallout of the new cult’s handling of Emma, while trying to position himself in a better position in this mysterious organisation. A question that hasn’t quite been answered is what this new cult actually does. Does the leader Micah have anything in mind apart from getting as much devotion from as many followers as possible?

    This is answered somewhat with the new developments between Micah and Carroll. Who in this new cult is really surrendering? Is it Carroll by doing Micah’s bidding? Or Micah by giving in to a seemingly new, murderous excitement? This new development seems like little more than an excuse to introduce more grisly murders to the screen, however, and isn’t as interesting as the show thinks it is. Like the short-lived union with Lily Gray’s group there is, once again, a power struggle within a new cult that is seemingly resolved, and all too quickly. While I called for Lily Gray’s storyline to be culled from the series, and it seems I got what I asked for this week, it seems too obvious that the show is trying the same idea again with a different twist. Perhaps next week will see newer, more interesting developments. And the show does well enough to keep me at least willing to watch next week, if not exciting me to the point of not being able to wait.

    The show does keep you guessing, in that the question of whether this new character will or won’t become a recurring villain always pops up. This week, it’s a doctor who taught Carroll that murder is okay, if you really have to. Could he be a new chief antagonist, the man who could be better than Carroll at what he does? How is he different from Carroll? How is he the same, but perhaps worse (his egotism is put on full display as he offhandedly mentions exactly how many former students acknowledged him in their books)?

    I was hoping for more time with the potentially very interesting doctor, but the episode gave way for more of the same to show that both sides are shades of grey as opposed to black and white. Are the good guys as bad as the bad guys? It’s a question this show has posed a number of times, with each answer either non-existent or superficial.

    While the show has gotten better over the last couple of weeks, it’s been trying so hard to ensure the time given to each character is enough and that the flow towards a conclusion isn’t stalled that it hasn’t got the strength to then grab attention. At the moment, it isn’t necessary. I find myself increasingly putting effort into caring about these characters and their stories, as opposed to naturally becoming connected with the series. As it gets deeper and deeper into moving plots and arcs to be completed, The Following is unfortunately only reaching the levels of the passable when it comes to what else is on offer.

    Matt Smith - follow me on Twitter.

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    Fans of Doctor Who will be able to relive some of the Time Lord's past adventures this April, with The Horror Channel set to air a selection of classic episodes from the long-running British sci-fi series this April with a specially curated season featuring the first seven Doctors. Here's the full schedule for 'Who on Horror'...

    Fri 18 April, 19:00 to 21: 10 - AN UNEARTHLY CHILD (4 parts)
    From the misty November nights of London 1963 to the arid caves of Earth 100,000BC, this is our very first encounter with the mysterious time traveller (as played by William Hartnell), who kidnaps teachers Ian (William (Russell) and Barbara (Jacqueline Hill), and, along with his granddaughter Susan (Carole Ann Ford), travels back in the distant past to confront caveman as they discover the power of fire. First broadcast on 23 November 1963.

    Sat 19 April, 13.20 to 15:45 - THE MIND ROBBER (5 parts)
    Trapped in a world outside of space and time, the second Doctor (Patrick Troughton) along with his companions, Jamie (Frazer Hines) and Zoe (Wendy Padbury), find themselves facing a world of fiction inhabited by unicorns, Medusa, and Gulliver. They seem to be writing their own story but will the mysterious storytelling Master of the realm allow them a happy ending? Originally broadcast in 1968.

    Sat 19 April, 15:45 to 17:55 - TERROR OF THE AUTONS (4 parts)
    If the 70s was an age of plastic then what would happen if it turned against us? The Doctor (Jon Pertwee), now exiled to Earth in his third incarnation, confronts killer dolls, deadly daffodils, telephone cables that strangle and inflatable chairs that suffocate. A second appearance for the returning enemy the Autons, this also introduces new assistant Jo Grant (Katy Manning) and rogue Time Lord, The Master (Roger Delgado). It also finds a new nemesis in Mary Whitehouse. Originally broadcast in 1971.

    Sat 19 April, 18:00 to 19:00 - BRAIN OF MORBIUS (Parts 1 & 2)
    Our jellybaby-loving Time Lord ventures into Frankenstein territory as The fourth Doctor (Tom Baker) and Sarah Jane Smith (Elisabeth Sladen) arrive on the stormy planet of Karn where they find themselves caught between the immortal Sisterhood, who are guardians of the precious elixir of life and the fanatical surgeon, Solon, who’s trying to create new life from dead aliens to house the brain of criminal Time Lord, Morbius. Originally broadcast 1976.

    Sun 20 April, 11:00 to 12:00 – THE BRAIN OF MORBUS (Parts 3 & 4)
    Continuation from Saturday night, the last two episodes of this ‘Frankenstein’ story as The Doctor (Tom Baker) and Sarah Jane Smith (Elisabeth Sladen) find themselves caught between the immortal Sisterhood and the fanatical surgeon, Solon, who’s trying to create new life from dead aliens to house the brain of criminal Time Lord, Morbius

    Sun 20 April, 12:10 to 14:20 - THE CAVES OF ANDROZANI (4 parts)
    Frequently voted by fans as the best story of the whole classic series, this also marks the end of Peter Davison’s time as he regenerates into Colin Baker. A real actioner which finds the fifth Doctor and Peri (Nicola Bryant) caught up in a war between a corrupt corporation, smugglers and masked outlaw Sharaz Jek , all fighting for control of spectrox, an invaluable but toxic substance mined on Androzani Minor that when refined, can slow ageing. Originally broadcast in 1984.

    Sun 20 April, 14:30 to 16:40 - ATTACK OF THE CYBERMEN (4 parts)
    Travelling from their own future, the Cybermen stalk London in 1985 to perfect a plan for Halley’s Comet to crash into the Earth, saving their own planet Mondas from destruction. The Sixth Doctor (Colin Baker) and Peri colourfully attempt to thwart their plans, save the cold-thriving Cryons, natives of Cyber-controlled Telos and maybe finally fix the TARDIS’s chameleon circuits. Guest starring Brian Glover, Maurice Colborne and Blue Peter presenter Sarah Greene. Originally broadcast in 1985.

    Sun 20 April, 16:50 to 19:00 - REMEMBRANCE OF THE DALEKS (4 parts)
    It’s back to November 1963 as the seventh Doctor (Sylvester McCoy) returns with Ace (Sophie Aldred) to Coal Hill School, He’s determined to complete unfinished business but if he hadn’t forgotten the Hand of Omega, then it’s inevitable the Daleks would remember too and they’re determined to outwit their greatest enemy and proved that they can climb stairs. The most popular tale of McCoy’s era guest stars Brian Sewell and Simon Williams. Originally broadcast in 1988.

    Mon 21 April, 10: 00 & 10:35 - THE DALEKS (Parts 1 & 2)
    Having survived their first adventure together, the TARDIS team land on Skaro, a planet devastated by nuclear war. Is anyone left alive? Contaminated by radioactive poisoning, they encounter the pacifist race of Thals and a number of hidden perils, but the greatest threat waits in the impressive citadel. They’re set to come face to eye-stalk for the first time with those exterminating pepperpots, the Daleks. A legend is born and our Saturday nights will never be the same again. Starring William Hartnell, William Russell, Jacqueline Hill and Carole Ann Ford. Originally broadcast 1963-4.

    Tues 22 April, 10: 00 & 10:35 - THE DALEKS (Parts 3 & 4)
    Continuation of adventure in which the TARDIS team come face-t-face with the Daleks for the first time.

    Wed 23 April, 10: 00 & 10:35 - THE DALEKS (Parts 5 & 6)
    Continuation of adventure in which the TARDIS team come face-t-face with the Daleks for the first time.

    Thurs 24 April, 10: 00 - THE DALEKS (Part 7)
    Finale to adventure in which the TARDIS team come face-t-face with the Daleks for the first time.

    Thurs 24 April, 10:35 - SEEDS OF DEATH (Part 1 of 6)
    Earth in the 21st Century and instantaneous travel is now possible thanks to the T-Mat based on the Moon. However, when the Doctor arrives with Jamie and Zoe, the machine has broken down and strange alien seeds have been discovered which explode with a lethal fungus threatening to wipe out life. It’s all part of the plan to take over the planet by the Martian reptilian race, the Ice Warriors, (who were recently revived to fight Matt Smith’s Doctor). Starring Patrick Troughton, Frazer Hines and Wendy Padbury. Originally broadcast in 1969.

    Fri 25 April, 10:00 & 10:35 - SEEDS OF DEATH (Part 2 & 3)
    Continuation of adventure where the Ice Warriors are threatening to wipe out life with a lethal fungus.

    Mon 28 April, 10:00 & 10:35 - SEEDS OF DEATH (Part 4 & 5)
    Continuation of adventure where the Ice Warriors are threatening to wipe out life with a lethal fungus.

    Tues 29 April, 10:00 - SEEDS OF DEATH (Part 6)
    Finale to adventure where the Ice Warriors are threatening to wipe out life with a lethal fungus.

    Tues 29 April, 10:35 - THE DAEMONS (Part 1 of 5)
    Excavations at an ancient burial mound unleash an ancient evil. There’s darker magic at work in the quiet village of Devil’s End, and the new vicar seems to have a Master plan under his cassock as rogue Time Lord joins forces with Azal, last of the star-spanning Daemons. With the help of UNIT and Jo Grant, the Doctor fights to stop May Day from becoming the last day for mankind. Starring Jon Pertwee, Katy Manning, and Roger Delgado. Originally broadcast in 1971.

    Wed 30 April, 10:00 & 10.35 - THE DAEMONS (Parts 2 & 3)
    Continuation of adventure where The Doctor (Jon Pertwee) fights to stop May Day becoming the last day for mankind.

    Thurs 1 May, 10:00 & 10.35 - THE DAEMONS (Parts 4 & 5)
    Continuation of adventure where The Doctor (Jon Pertwee) fights to stop May Day becoming the last day for mankind.

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    More from Kevin Feige about a potential Black Widow solo movie
    Last month, Marvel Studios chief Kevin Feige confirmed that there's been "some development work" on a potential solo movie for Scarlett Johansson's S.H.I.E.L.D. super spy Black Widow, and now the producer has offered a few more comments on the possibility during a press conference to promote the upcoming release of Captain America: The Winter Soldier.

    "I think the idea [of a Black Widow] movie would be great. We've got various outlines and ideas of where to take that. As Scarlett already said, there's a big element that explores her back story in an upcoming Marvel feature. The question really is, 'When will we take her out of the ensemble and have her do her own thing?' As you saw in [Captain America: The Winter Soldier], as you'll see in The Avengers: Age of Ultron, she's really the key to so much of the plot development."

    Between Ant-Man, Thor 3, Captain America 3 and the not-yet-confirmed-but-looking-highly-likely Doctor Strange, it would seem that Marvel is pretty much set for Phase Three of the Cinematic Universe, which would take us through to 2018 and The Avengers 3 but would you like to see them squeezing in a Black Widow movie too? 

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    The Suicide Squad are set to embark on their first mission in next week's episode of Arrow, and to build excitement for the arrival of the team of anti-heroes, The CW has released a Producer's Review featurette for the episode, which you can check out after the official plot description...

    "AMANDA WALLER SENDS THE SUICIDE SQUAD OUT ON THEIR FIRST MISSION — Following Slade’s (Manu Bennett) return and his promise to make good on his threat to destroy Oliver’s (Stephen Amell) loved ones, Oliver focuses all his energy on preparing for battle with his former friend. Sarah (Caity Lotz) tries to help but, fearing for her safety, Oliver pushes her away. Meanwhile, Diggle (David Ramsey) is recruited by Amanda Waller (guest star Cynthia Addai-Robinson) and A.R.G.U.S. to stop a warlord (guest star Lee Majdoub) he knew from his time in Afghanistan. Always the solider, Diggle agrees to help. However, he’s not prepared when Amanda introduces him to the rest of the team – Deadshot (guest star Michael Rowe), Bronze Tiger (guest star Michael Jai White) and Shrapnel (guest star Sean Maher), all criminals he and Arrow helped put away. Lyla (guest star Audrey Marie Anderson) defends the team and explains the world is a complicated place, but Diggle isn’t sure he agrees. When the mission takes a dangerous turn, Diggle is forced to make a difficult decision."


    'Suicide Squad' airs on March 19th.

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    Anghus Houvouras reviews the fifteenth episode of Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D....

    Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. - Episode 15 ReviewCoulson's trying to figure out the origins of the alien being whose blood is coursing through his veins. A rogue Asgardian Sorceress is being tracked down by one of Thor's noble warrior friends.  And on top of that, there's a mole on the team who is keeping tabs on them.

    Isn't this exactly the kind of show you wanted when Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. started last year?

    It's amazing how much fun  is to watch when the show is firing on all cylinders, which happens about 47% of the time.  The last few episodes have been markedly more interesting than the uneven batch that made of the first half of the season.  There's that grand sense of Marvel coolness pulsing through each episode.   The last episode we got blue skinned aliens and Bill Paxton to bring some chutzpah to the proceedings.  This week it's Lady Sif (Jaimie Alexander) who shows up on Earth to track down the treacherous man-manipulating sorceress Lorelei. 

    With S.H.I.E.L.D. acting as the welcome wagon, they help Sif track down the escaped spell weaver.  It turns out to be easier said than done.  Lorelei gets Agent Ward under her spell and the pair go on the offensive invading the team's base of operations and catching them off guard.  Lady Sif gets ejected at 30,000 feet and the male Agents become putty in Lorelei's hands.  It's up to the women to save the day, which feels SO Whedon it's not even funny. 

    "Yes Men" is a superbly entertaining episode, mainly because it allows the show to get grand.  By now we are all aware how well this show works when they open the spicket all the way and let the craziness of the Marvel Universe flow in.  "Yes Men" gives us a connection to Thor, provides a villain that is not only otherworldly but a real potential threat, and starts to reveal a Coulson who is slowly becoming unhinged.  We also learn that one of the crew members is keeping tabs on Coulson and may not be on the up and up.  This is the kind of layering this show has been in desperate need of.  Not every show has to have a House of Cards level of manipulation and shenanigans, but for a show about secret agents in the Marvel Universe, this show has been lacking any real cloak and dagger moments.

    It's also been lacking Cloak & Dagger, but that feels like an unrelated argument.

    "Yes Men" is the road Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. should be travelling.  Blending the real world perspective of S.H.I.E.L.D. with the super powered comic book thrills that Marvel has an infinite supply of.  Let's hope this momentum builds.

    Anghus Houvouras is a North Carolina based writer and filmmaker. His latest work, the novel My Career Suicide Note, is available from Amazon.

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    Earlier today we brought you a behind-the-scenes image from the Constantine TV pilot which gave us our first look at Matt Ryan (Criminal Minds: Suspect Behavior) as the title character, and now we've got an official promo image of DC's supernatural detective, which you can see right here...

    Matt Ryan as Constantine

    Constantine has been written by David S. Goyer (Man of Steel) and Daniel Cerone (The Mentalist), with Neil Marshall (The Descent, Game of Thrones) directing a pilot that sees Ryan joined in the cast by Harold Perrineau (Lost), Lucy Griffiths (Winter's Tale) and Charles Halford (True Detective).

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    With Warner Bros. opting to push back the release of Batman vs. Superman ten months, Warner Bros.' big Man of Steel sequel will now hit cinemas on May 6th 2016 - which puts it firmly up against another as-yet-unrevealed superhero movie from Marvel Studios (which looks likely to be either Thor 3 or Captain America 3). So, how has that impacted Marvel's plans? Well, according to Kevin Feige, it hasn't...

    "We're still on that date and we're going to be announcing soon what the movie will be on that date," Marvel chief Kevin Feige tells IGN. "That's what we're sort of actively working on as we get ready to firm up and get into pre-production what will be the two films for '16 and the two films for '17."

    Asked if the announcement of Marvel's Phase Three movies - which is also thought to include Doctor Strange alongside the previously announced Ant-Man, Feige responded: "It's not about the best time to make an announcement for us. It's about when the team coalesces and when we find a group of collaborators that we want to spend the next two or three years with to bring one of the movies to life."

    Meanwhile, a Brazilian website is claiming to have heard from Warner Bros. that Batman vs. Superman will in fact be the movie to move, with the studio bringing its release forward a week to April 29th. Of course, given the fact that it was Warner Bros. who chose to go up against Marvel in the first place by shifting Batman vs. Superman, I think we need to take this report with a rather large pinch of salt.

    Assuming both Marvel and Warner Bros. do keep that date, does Marvel have any chance against the might of DC's biggest superheroes? Let us know in the comments below or head on over to The Flickering Myth Forum...

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    The Grand Budapest Hotel, 2014.

    Directed by Wes Anderson.
    Starring Ralph Fiennes, F. Murray Abraham, Adrien Brody, Willem Dafoe, Jeff Goldblum, Tilda Swinton, Harvey Keitel, Jude Law, Bill Murray, Edward Norton, Saoirse Ronan, Jason Schwartzman, Tom Wilkinson, Owen Wilson, and Tony Revolori.

    Movie Review - The Grand Budapest Hotel (2014)


    A layered retelling of the misadventures of the hotel’s flamboyant former concierge and his trusty lobby boy.

    Movie Review - The Grand Budapest Hotel (2014)

    Wes Anderson’s latest voyage into quirkiness is perhaps his most star-studded outing yet, with cameos from what you feel must be his entire address book. However, despite filling nearly every role with a recognisable face, it is the two central characters (and the relationship between them) that remains The Grand Budapest Hotel’s greatest asset.

    The film starts off with a narrative structure similar to a set Russian Babushka Dolls: it turns out that the main plot is actually being told and retold by four different framing devices, set at four different times. This story-within-a-story approach just about works, but it is still nice when we finally get into the meat of the plot. The central story follows the hotel’s eccentric concierge, Mr. M. Gustave (Ralph Fiennes), as he is wrongly accused of murder. What follows is vintage Anderson: wacky, episodic and wonderful.

    While the story is equal parts inventive and enjoyable, Anderson’s real achievement here is the creation of Gustave himself. The director has already said that he wrote the role specifically for Fiennes, which to be honest shows remarkable foresight; if someone had described the character to me beforehand, I’d never have considered it a ‘Ralph Fiennes role’.

    The role is beautifully written, but the performance is another thing entirely. In fact, I feel a bold, sweeping statement coming on; the type of statement that usually brings down droves of comment-box vengeance down upon me. However, I’ve thought about it, measured it and am willing stand by it for the rest of my days. Here it comes:

    The Grand Budapest Hotel is my favourite Ralph Fiennes performance… ever.

    As Gustave, Fiennes is on sublime, sparkling, incandescent form. He’s camp, he’s witty, he plays fast and loose with obscenities, but above all else it’s a performance filled to the brim with the most endearing genuineness. He’s one of Anderson’s most colourful characters to date (which is really saying something), but beneath all that eccentricity he’s got the most relentlessly likable sincerity. I think it speaks volumes that, in a film where even the extras are household names, you simply can’t take your eyes off Fiennes.

    That being said, this is far from a one-man show. All the supporting players deliver their characters brilliantly in the short screen-time they have. Adrian Brody proves to be a perfectly hiss-able villain (there’s even a hint of a moustache-twiddle in one scene), while Willem Dafoe brings his custom-made creepiness to a dishevelled hit-man. There’s also a stunning introductory role for young Tony Revolori, playing Gustave’s Lobby Boy/Sidekick, Zero.

    The Grand Budapest Hotel is a cinematic joy. True, it lacks some the charismatic melancholia of some Anderson’s best films, but it makes up for that fact with razor-sharp wit and immaculate storytelling. It’s as aesthetically pleasing as any of the director’s back-catalogue, has as a mesmerizing turn from Ralph Fiennes at its core. It’s Wes Anderson’s funniest film to date, and his most enjoyable in years.

    Flickering Myth Rating - Film: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ / Movie: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★

    Jackson Ball - follow me on Twitter.

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    We've seen an awful lot of promotional material for Captain America: The Winter Soldier this week, but as the release of the first superhero movie of 2014 draws ever nearer, Marvel's marketing machine looks to be showing little sign of slowing down, with a new batch of propaganda-style character posters arriving online, along with a new featurette focussing on the Falcon (Anthony Mackie)...

    "After the cataclysmic events in New York with The Avengers, “Captain America: The Winter Soldier” finds Steve Rogers, aka Captain America, living quietly in Washington, D.C. and trying to adjust to the modern world. But when a S.H.I.E.L.D. colleague comes under attack, Steve becomes embroiled in a web of intrigue that threatens to put the world at risk. Joining forces with the Black Widow, Captain America struggles to expose the ever-widening conspiracy while fighting off professional assassins sent to silence him at every turn. When the full scope of the villainous plot is revealed, Captain America and the Black Widow enlist the help of a new ally, the Falcon. However, they soon find themselves up against an unexpected and formidable enemy — the Winter Soldier."

    Captain America: The Winter Soldier is set for release on March 26th in the UK and April 4th in North America, with Marvel veterans Chris Evans (Captain America), Scarlett Johansson (Black Widow), Sebastian Stan (Bucky Barnes / The Winter Soldier), Samuel L. Jackson (Nick Fury), Cobie Smulders (Agent Maria Hill), Hayley Atwell (Peggy Carter), Toby Jones (Arnim Zola) and Maximiliano Hernandez (Agent Jasper Sitwell) joined by franchise newcomers Emily VanCamp (Revenge) as Sharon Carter / Agent 13, Frank Grillo (Zero Dark Thirty) as Brock Rumlow / Crossbones, George St-Pierre (Death Warrior) as Georges Batroc / Batroc the Leaper, and Robert Redford (All Is Lost) as Alexander Pierce.

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    Sony Pictures has announced that the world premiere of The Amazing Spider-Man 2 will take place in London on April 10th (as well as 20 regional premieres around the country).

    In attendance at the Leicester Square premiere will be director Marc Webb, producers Avi Arad and Matt Tolmach, and stars Andrew Garfield, Emma Stone, Jamie Foxx and Dane DeHaan.

    "I’m delighted to see the World Premiere of The Amazing Spider-Man 2 take place in my home town," said Garfield as part of today's official annnouncement. "I can’t wait to present this movie to audiences across the UK."

    Meanwhile, with Marc Webb revealing earlier this week that Paul Giamatti's Rhino will only feature for four minutes in the upcoming sequel, we can now watch almost a quarter of that screentime thanks to the latest clip from the Spidey sequel...


    The Amazing Spider-Man 2 is set for release on April 18th in the UK and on May 2nd in North America.

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    The Hollywood Reporter has revealed that Captain America 3 will fill one of Marvel Studios' three mystery Phase Three release slots, with Chris Evans' third solo outing as Steve Rogers set to go head-to-head with Warner Bros.'Man of Steel sequel Batman vs. Superman on May 6th 2016.

    Earlier today, Marvel chief Kevin Feige confirmed that there are no plans to shift the film from the release slot, despite what will surely be fierce competition from Henry Cavill's Man of Steel and Ben Affleck's Dark Knight. It is of course highly unlikely that both films will open against each other, but for the time being the stage is set for the biggest superhero showdown in cinema history.

    Captain America 3 is set to be directed by Captain America: The Winter Soldier helmers Anthony and Joe Russo, while Zack Snyder is back in the director's chair for Batman vs. Superman, which will also introduce Wonder Woman (Gal Gadot) as well as Jesse Eisenberg's Lex Luthor.

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    It looks like Terminator: Genesis has added another name to its expanding cast, with The Hollywood Reporter revealing that Spider-Man star J.K. Simmons is in negotiations with Skydance and Paramount about joining the upcoming reboot, with the site stating that he's "play a weary and alcoholic detective who has followed a bizarre case involving Sarah Connor and robots for more than three decade."

    Terminator: Genesis is set to be directed by Alan Taylor (Thor: The Dark World) and will reportedly blend together elements from James Cameron's original two movies, The Terminator and Terminator 2: Judgement Day. Emilia Clarke (Game of Thrones) will portray Sarah Connor, with Jason Clarke (Dawn of the Planet of the Apes) as John Connor, the leader of the Resistance, and Jai Courtney (A Good Day to Die Hard) as Kyle Reese, the man sent back to protect Sarah from Arnold Schwarzenegger's cybernetic killing machine.

    Terminator: Genesis is set for release on July 1st, 2015.

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    El fantástico mundo de Juan Orol, 2012.

    Directed by Sebastian del Amo.
    Starring Roberto Sosa, Gabriela de la Garza, Mauricio Galaz, Roger Cudney, Karin Burnett, Alfonso Borbolla and Juan Manuel Bernal.

    ¡Viva! Film Festival 2014 Review - El fantástico mundo de Juan Orol (2012)


    A highly-stylized biopic chronicling the life of the Hispanic B-movie legend, Juan Orol.

    ¡Viva! Film Festival 2014 Review - El fantástico mundo de Juan Orol (2012)

    Many biopics act as a love-letter of sorts to the person whose life they are depicting. However, there aren’t too many that act as a love-letter to the particular culture surrounding that subject. El fantástico mundo de Juan Orol (The Fantastic World of Juan Orol) is definitely one of the latter, using Orol’s life-story as a means to showcase the neglected side of Spanish-speaking cinema and culture.

    As part of this year’s ¡Viva! Spanish and Latin American Film Festival, the film’s premiere screening was preceded by a one-hour introductory talk about popular Mexican cinema. In front of a small audience in the Cornerhouse cinema in Manchester, the talk was hosted by university lecturer and world cinema authority Dr. Andy Willis. Exploring the roots of conventional Mexican cinema, the lecture was the perfect companion-piece to the film, and yet another example of the well-organised events this year’s festival has to offer.

    If the one-hour talk introduced the audience to the conventions of popular Mexican cinema, then delves deeper to celebrate them. Of course, the story follows much of Orol’s early life, predating his arrival into show-business (he originally tried to form careers in baseball, boxing and bullfighting), but the film doesn’t really hit its stride until he makes his directional debut.

    Orol finds himself right in the middle of Mexico’s ‘Golden Age’ of cinema, and thanks to some excellent direction and set-design so do we. Even in black and white, the glamour of the era explodes off the screen in dramatic style. It’s a dizzying effect, made all the more encompassing when entwined with reconstructed clips of Orol’s own films.

    For those not familiar with the actual filmmaker, Orol has become known as the ‘accidental surrealist’, because his films were so ‘bad’ that they were unintentionally surreal. I must confess, I’ve seen very little of the directors original films, but judging from the way they are lovingly recreated here, they clearly hold a dear place in the hearts of many people, including the filmmakers of this biopic.

    El fantástico mundo de Juan Orol is a well-structured, technically-sound film, and probably unlike any biopic you’ve seen before. The filmmakers have made the bold, but effective decision to saturate the film with the ‘surrealism’ that made Orol so fascinating. The result is a stylish and enjoyable adventure which you can easily forget is actually based on a real human being. There is clearly a lot of admiration for Orol himself, but the real love-letter here is addressed to the glitzy time-period itself. The clue is in the title: it’s the Orol’s ‘world’ that is fantastic, not necessarily the man himself.

    Flickering Myth Rating - Film: ★ ★ ★ ★ / Movie: ★ ★ ★

    Jackson Ball - follow me on Twitter.

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    Casting on Warner Bros. live-action Peter Pan origin tale Pan is picking up the pace. A couple of days ago it was announced that Rooney Mara (The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo) had joined the film in the role of Tiger Lily, and now The Wrap has revealed that Four Lions star Adeel Akhtar will play Smee, the right hand man of Hook, played by Garrett Hedlund (TRON: Legacy).

    The film is to be directed by Joe Wright (Atonement) and will tell "the untold story of how a young orphan boy from London is spirited away to the magical Neverland where he finds grand adventures that shape him into the hero known to generations as Peter Pan." Hugh Jackman (The Wolverine) is set to appear as Blackbeard, the primary antagonist of the film before Hook turns on Peter and takes his rightful place as the moustache-twirling villain.

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    Warner Bros. has released the first featurette for the upcoming sci-fi Transcendence, which marks the directorial debut of regular Christopher Nolan cinematographer Wally Pfister and sees Johnny Depp (The Lone Ranger) leading a cast that also includes Morgan Freeman (Now You See Me), Cillian Murphy (Inception), Rebecca Hall (Iron Man 3), Kate Mara (House of Cards), Paul Bettany (Iron Man 3), Clifton Collins Jr. (Star Trek), and Cole Hauser (A Good Day to Die Hard). Check it out after the official synopsis....

    Dr. Will Caster (Johnny Depp) is the foremost researcher in the field of Artificial Intelligence, working to create a sentient machine that combines the collective intelligence of everything ever known with the full range of human emotions. His highly controversial experiments have made him famous, but they have also made him the prime target of anti-technology extremists who will do whatever it takes to stop him.

    However, in their attempt to destroy Will, they inadvertently become the catalyst for him to succeed—to be a participant in his own transcendence. For his wife Evelyn (Rebecca Hall) and best friend Max Waters (Paul Bettany), both fellow researchers, the question is not if they can…but if they should. 

    Their worst fears are realized as Will’s thirst for knowledge evolves into a seemingly omnipresent quest for power, to what end is unknown. The only thing that is becoming terrifyingly clear is there may be no way to stop him.

    Transcendence is set for release on April 18th.

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    Andy Naylor reviews Judge Dredd #17...

    Comic Book Review - Judge Dredd #17
    "'Cold Cold Ground' The morgue full of 13 dead Judges were only the beginning of the end!

    Dredd's most vicious and unstoppable enemies the Dark Judges are clawing their way into Mega-City One, determined to transform it into a new city of the dead. That's right: Judges Death! Mortis! Fire! Fear! (And some new friends!) But the only thing more horrifying than the Dark Judges' onslaught are drastic measures the Justice Department is willing to take to repel them."

    I have been dreaming of getting my grubbing mitts on this issue since I reviewedJudge Dredd #16, Now Judge Dredd #17 has finally arrived and all hell has been unleashed upon the inhabitants of Mega City One. Judge Dredd has been framed and banished to Titan, thanks to the actions of the repulsive Judge Cal – he really is a slimy, vile, little weasel of a character who has been magnificently brought to life through some superb writing and art.

    It’s not just Judge Cal that looks great throughout Dredd #17, the art as a whole is simply fantastic. It fills with me jealously that there are people this talented in the world, able to produce something so strikingly amazing that as a reader you can’t help but appreciate it and be envious of their capabilities all at the same time. Each individual Dark Judge is beautifully horrific in their own unique and terrifying way. However, there are that many that I can’t help but fear that as this plot plays out of future issues we might see the Spider-Man 3 problem raise its ugly head. There may simply be too many bad guys for Dredd to realistically defeat in any way that could leave the reader satisfied. Furthermore, each villain might not get the required amount of page time for us to enjoy thoroughly. Already in this issue there simply isn’t enough Judge Death, to be honest, there isn’t enough Judge Dredd. The star feels like an afterthought, tucked away at the back of the comic like a dusty pair of boots in a wardrobe. But I’m sure as the issues roll out, the big guy will be back to his usual prominent role.

    What we see of Dredd is enticing and tense. His position is extremely perilous and I am eager to learn how he can return to Mega City One and save the day, because at present the Dark Judges are a juggernaut of murder ploughing through city with only the self-serving and utterly detestable Judge Cal to look to for help.

    Andy Naylor - Follow me on Twitter

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    With the eagerly-anticipated fourth season of Game of Thrones just around the corner, HBO has released a 25-minute featurette entitled Game of Thrones Season 3 Recap: The Politics of Power, which provides a handy refresher of the (generally shocking) events of the last season....

    And here's the blurb for the upcoming fourth season, which gets underway on April 6th:

    Encouraged by the Red Wedding slaughter in the Riverlands that wiped out many of their Stark nemeses, the Lannisters’ hold on the Iron Throne remains intact … but can they survive their own egos, as well as new and ongoing threats from the south, north and east? While an unbowed Stannis Baratheon continues to rebuild his army in Dragonstone, a more immediate danger comes from the south, as Oberyn Martell, the Lannister-loathing “Red Viper of Dorne,” arrives at King’s Landing to attend Joffrey’s wedding to Margaery Tyrell, and perhaps act on an ulterior agenda. In the north, a depleted Night’s Watch seems overmatched against the inexorable Wall advances of Mance Rayder’s army of wildlings, which in turn is being trailed by an even more formidable foe: the undead White Walkers. As if that weren’t enough, Daenerys Targaryen, accompanied by her menacing trio of dragons and army of Unsullied, is poised to liberate Meereen, the largest city in Slaver’s Bay, which could ultimately provide her with enough ships to sail to Westeros and reclaim the Iron Throne.

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    Screen Junkies have posted their latest 'honest trailer' - a four minute or so piece of film criticism using the 'In a world...' voiceover style. And this time round they have their icy glare on Disney's recent musical Frozen. Watch the video below, in which they address...

    -how Disney have finally learned how to make Pixar movies.

    -those strange half-rock/half-gnome troll-like things.

    -And...wait, since when did Elsa's magical powers include 'creation of life'!?

    "We are about to pooooork." I love that one.

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    Anghus Houvouras is drowning an ocean of media....

    I'm drowning in media.  An ocean of movies, TV shows, video games, comic books, podcasts, webcasts, websidoes, and enough streaming media to choke Godzilla. My already fractured attention span is under assault from a dearth of high quality entertainment. 

    I can remember a time when you had to really search to find geek related media.  When you were lucky to get a comic book themed movie or TV show every few years.  When shows about comic book characters were rare, and when they did get produced they were off the air faster than the Flash.  There were so few 'must see' shows back then.  Television was a wasteland of poorly produced garbage and movies were barely capable of generating the kind of jaw dropping FX to produce the kind of spectacle that would appropriately sell the kind of sci-fi, fantasy movies nerds like myself craved.

    Times have changed.  In the last week i found myself binge watching House of Cards season 2 while getting caught up on True Detective on HBO Go prior to the finale, digesting the weekly comic book offerings, watching regularly scheduled shows like Resurrection, Community, Rick & Morty, Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., Brooklyn Nine-Nine...  Then there's the webcasts and online video series I follow regularly.  Honest Trailers from Screen Junkies, the Everything Wrong With series from Cinema Sins.  The great weekly content from the guys at Red Letter Media.  Jerry Seinfeld's extremely entertaining webseries Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee.  I hear there's this great new show called... Hold on: I've got mail.

    Son of a bitch.  I just got an email that season four of Archer is now available on Netflix Streaming.  Wait, what?  From Dusk Till Dawn the series just hit the air?  Mad Men is back on April 15th?  Captain America: The Winter Soldier comes out in two weeks?  Sherlock Season 3 is already available for streaming?  I gotta figure out how Sherlock faked his own death before someone spoils it.  Excuse me, I need to go breathe into a brown paper back for a few moments.

    I'm now staring at a note taped to my monitor that says 'Start watching Arrow season 1 NOW!", because frankly I haven't even started.  The Suicide Squad (my favorite core comic concept) is coming and I haven't even finished the pilot.  The same thing goes for Game of Thrones, a show that has been irreparably spoiled, every major twist and turn having been telegraphed on every form of social media.  I know that Ned Stark doesn't make it past the first season.  The Red Wedding holds no surprises to me.  Such is my burden.

    Keeping up with all this is exhausting.  I haven't even mentioned the number of AAA Video Game titles that sit pristine and unopened on my desk waiting to be played. 

    There is so much quality programming out there.  It's an orgy of excess.  The amount of quality geek related product out there is daunting.  And it's only going to get worse.  The Flash is coming to the CW.  They're making a Constantine TV series.  Marvel is putting out a half dozen new series to Netflix including fan favorites like Luke Cage, Iron Fist, and Daredevil.  Batman is going to donkey punch Superman and the Avengers are taking on Ultron.  I feel like Jesse Spano in that episode of Saved by the Bell where she becomes addicted to caffeine pills. I'm seemingly moments away from breaking down and singing "I'm so excited... I'm so excited... I'm so... scared!"

    This is the our shared modern problem.  Not that there isn't enough cool stuff to watch, but that there's too much.  A sense of panic and anxiety that grips us.  The fear of missing out on something cool because the flow of product is relentless, and frankly tiring.  'Must See TV' used to be a slogan used by NBC to describe two hours of comedy programming that came on Thursday nights including classics like Cheers and Seinfeld.  Though to be fair it also included dreck like Wings.  But now, everything is 'Must See'.  Every network is producing a high percentage of geek friendly fare.  The entire entertainment industry, who once spurned my geeky advances is now courting me with hours upon hours of programming.

    It's unfortunate, because I lack the time to watch it all.  This is a selfish rant from a grown up geek that has witnessed first hand the transformation of the entertainment industry that seems to be catering more and more to my own tastes.  A buffet of countless gourmet courses being laid out but a limited number of trips that can be taken.  This is a golden age for geeks in almost every medium. It's a glorious time for younger geeks, or  shiftless layabouts with too much time on their hands.

    I am, unfortunately neither. I'm the old man at the end of the Twilight Zone episode "Time Enough At Last" who wants nothing more than to be able to read his books but can't find the opportunity, slowly driven into insanity by the stories I'll never get to.

    This is my burden. 

    Anghus Houvouras is a North Carolina based writer and filmmaker. His latest work, the novel My Career Suicide Note, is available from Amazon.

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    Commencing with a foreword by Michael Avon Oeming (Powers, Mice Templar), the tales crafted by writers Adam P. Knave and Sean E. Williams as well as Andrew Losq who handles the colouring and illustrations get accompanied by pin-ups drawn by some of the top comic book artists.

    Fifty years after a time traveller brings science and technology to the medieval ages, corporations have replaced kingdoms, and the future teeters on a bleak precipice. Agents and assassins, hired for their specialties by the rivalling companies, stem the flow of information with the flow of blood. But the current system can't hold, and the balance of power is shifting...

    Artful Daggers: Fifty Years Later arrives on March 19, 2014.


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