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Movies, TV and Comic Books

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    On Tuesday ABC is set to air the hour-long documentary special Marvel Studios: Assembling a Universe, which will show off new footage from Marvel's various Phase Two offerings, including our very first look at The Avengers: Age of Ultron. But, in the meantime, a few images have arrived online via Idle Hands from the Guardians of the Galaxy segment, which give us our first look at Ronan the Accuser (Lee Pace) and Nova Prime Rael (Glenn Close), as well as new shots of Star-Lord (Chris Pratt), Gamora (Zoe Saldana), Drax (Dave Bautista), The Collector (Benicio del Toro) and Nebula (Karen Gillan)...

    Guardians of the Galaxy

    Guardians of the Galaxy

    Guardians of the Galaxy

    Guardians of the Galaxy

    Guardians of the Galaxy

    Guardians of the Galaxy

    Guardians of the Galaxy

    "From Marvel, the studio that brought you the global blockbuster franchises of Iron Man, Thor, Captain America and The Avengers, comes a new team — the Guardians of the Galaxy. An action-packed, epic space adventure, Marvel’s “Guardians of the Galaxy” expands the Marvel Cinematic Universe into the cosmos, where brash adventurer Peter Quill finds himself the object of an unrelenting bounty hunt after stealing a mysterious orb coveted by Ronan, a powerful villain with ambitions that threaten the entire universe. To evade the ever-persistent Ronan, Quill is forced into an uneasy truce with a quartet of disparate misfits — Rocket, a gun-toting raccoon, Groot, a tree-like humanoid, the deadly and enigmatic Gamora and the revenge-driven Drax the Destroyer. But when Peter discovers the true power of the orb and the menace it poses to the cosmos, he must do his best to rally his ragtag rivals for a last, desperate stand — with the galaxy’s fate in the balance."

    Guardians of the Galaxy is set for release on August 1st, with James Gunn (Super) directing a cast that also includes Vin Diesel (Riddick) as Groot, Bradley Cooper (American Hustle) as Rocket Raccoon, Djimon Hounsou (Blood Diamond) as Korath and John C. Reilly (Step Brothers) as Rhomman Dey.



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    New images have been released into the internet wilderness this weekend, giving us a good look at the new Batmobile, some new moves, and some supporting characters. Check them all out below...

    Batman: Arkham Knight

    Batman: Arkham Knight

    Batman: Arkham Knight

    Batman: Arkham Knight

    Batman: Arkham Knight

    Batman: Arkham Knight

    Batman: Arkham Knight

    In the explosive finale to the Arkham series, Batman faces the ultimate threat against the city he is sworn to protect. The Scarecrow returns to unite an impressive roster of super villains, including Penguin, Two-Face and Harley Quinn, to destroy The Dark Knight forever.'

    Batman: Arkham Knight introduces Rocksteady’s uniquely-designed version of the Batmobile, which is drivable for the first time in the franchise. The addition of this legendary vehicle, combined with the acclaimed gameplay of the "Batman: Arkham" series, offers gamers the ultimate and complete Batman experience as they tear through the streets and soar across the skyline of the entirety of Gotham City.

    Batman: Arkham Knight will be released on October 14th for the PlayStation 4, Xbox One and PC.

    Chris Cooper

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  • 03/16/14--03:46: Wolverine to actually die!?
  • There have been reports over the last year or so that the X-Men's main man, Wolverine, would be meeting his maker. As Logan is as ubiquitous in the comics as he is in the movies, this is big news...


    So, after decades of service, Marvel Entertainment is teasing that Wolverine's final days are upon him with the announcement of a new storyline entitled "3 Months to Die."

    The publisher has been teasing the potential for some time, starting with a storyline in the Wolverine series last year that stripped the character of his enhanced healing abilities. This new plot, which will run from Wolverine #8 through #12, hints that things are going to get a lot worse for the X-Man before they get better.

    "We're not messing around with the title,"Wolverine editor Mike Marts told Comic Book Resources. "We are going to fully explore Wolverine's mortality -- what that means to him, what that means to the X-Men, what it means to the Marvel Universe. And we're not going to be shy."


    Wolverine has died before (hasn't everybody?), but this time Marvel are really playing it up as a big deal.
    "The effects are line-wide," promised Marvel editor-in-chief Axel Alonso. "I'm actually a bit surprised that my publisher allowed us to do this."

    Wolverine #8, the first chapter of "3 Months to Die," will be released in comic book stores and digitally in June.

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    Thomas Harris reviews the second episode of Hannibal Season 2....

    Hannibal Season 2 - Episode 2 Review
    At times, watching Hannibal feels less simply a police procedural, more an adrenaline boost. The opening of Sakizuki encompasses this. Following directly from the previous episode, victim Roland Umber is tearing himself from dead bodies. It's a startling image and one that continues to haunt days later. It is this in which Hannibal continues to succeed, it shocks and humours, forcing the audience into submission. By no means does this make it an easy watch but it certainly stands tall above all other major cable television shows currently broadcasting.

    Mads Mikkelsen continues to play Hannibal with a gross and unsettling glee, most evident in his remark, "I love your work," while clad in a quite dashing plastic suit. Mikkelsen seems to relish the opportunity the psychopathic elements of the character with his newfound sense of comedy. Even Hugh D'ancy's Will Graham, now behind bars relishes in his ability to find light in darkness, "Hannibal Lecter's therapist. What's she like."

    Thankfully, humour doesn't take hold of the episode. Religious undertones continue to thread through, "The eye looks beyond this world and into the next and see the reflection of man himself. Is the killer looking at God." Under a different show-runner, this may feel heavy handed, take Lost for instance. Hannibal's existence is almost defined by biblical ideals and his role in the series feels God-like, manipulating those around him.

    It's Hannibal's manipulation of those around him which has lead the series to its current point. Jack Crawford finally accepts Will as a serial killer, not as a result of his own personal beliefs, but due to Hannibal's gross manipulation. This ultimately leads to his therapist, played superbly by Gillian Anderson, to abandon Hannibal as a client. Slowly, those closest to him are realising he isn't as he seems. The darkness is rising and it can't be long before it takes over.

    Now True Detective has come to a close, Hannibal has the opportunity to lead the way as the strongest show on television. There is nothing on television more disturbing and bleak at this current moment and it's joyous knowing we have only just started.

    Thomas Harris



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    Grant Morrison's 'Batman and Son' is this latest comic book story to get the DC Universe Animated Original Movies treatment, with the direct-to-video feature Son of Batman set to arrive on shelves in May, and a new image has arrived online featuring Dick Grayson in his Nightwing guise; check it out here courtesy of Watchtower of Babel News...

    Nightwing in Son of Batman

    Hidden atop a secret mountain stronghold lies the League of Shadows and its fearless leader, Ra’s al Ghul. Together with his equally dangerous daughter Talia, he oversees a trained army of assassins with plans for global domination. But an uprising from within the league now threatens to shift the balance of power and sends Talia and her young son, Damian, fleeing to Gotham City. With assassins on their trail, Talia seeks the protection of Batman, who, unbeknownst to him, is the boy’s father. With his son in tow, Batman wages war against the villain Deathstroke and the League of Shadows, all while teaching his headstrong boy that one can’t fight crime by becoming a criminal. With help from Gotham’s finest, including Commissioner Gordon and Nightwing, Batman will soon discover that his son and most trusted ally are one and the same!

    Son of Batman is set for release on May 6th, with a voice cast that includes Jason O'Mara (Justice League: War) as Bruce Wayne / Batman, Stuart Allan (Rise of the Guardians) as Damian Wayne / Robin, Morena Baccarin (Homeland) as Talia, Giancarlo Esposito (Once Upon a Time) as Ra's Al Ghul, David McCallum (The Man from U.N.C.L.E.) as Alfred Pennyworth, Xander Berkeley (24) as Kirk Langstrom / Man-Bat and Thomas Gibson (Criminal Minds) as Deathstroke / Slade Wilson. Watch the first trailer here.


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    We're still a few weeks away from the release of the second movie in Sony's rebooted Spider-Man universe, but that hasn't stopped the studio from mapping out the future of the franchise. We already know that director Marc Webb and Andrew Garfield will return for The Amazing Spider-Man 3 in 2016, while there's planned spin-offs for Venom and The Sinister Six, not to mention The Amazing Spider-Man 4 in 2018.

    Now, we've heard a few comments previously from Andrew Garfield which seemed to indicate that he's undecided about a fourth outing as the wall-crawler, and now Marc Webb has confirmed himself that he has no plans to return to the director's chair for the fourth movie, telling The Daily Beast that, "I'd like to be involved as a consultant. I’ve already talked to these guys about it, but in terms of directing it, that will close out my tenure. I’ve had so much fun doing it, but after the third movie, it’ll be the time to find something else."

    So, if Garfield and Webb do depart the franchise for the fourth movie, who would you like to see continuing the story? Or will it be time for yet another reboot?

    The Amazing Spider-Man 2 is set for release on April 18th in the UK and on May 1st in North America, with a cast that also includes returning stars Emma Stone (Gwen Stacy), Sally Field (Aunt May), Chris Zylka (Flash Thompson), Campbell Scott (Richard Parker), Embeth Davidtz (Mary Parker), Martin Sheen (Ben Parker) and Denis Leary (George Stacy) and new additions Jamie Foxx (Django Unchained) as Electro, Dane DeHaan (Chronicle) as Harry Osborn, Paul Giamatti (12 Years a Slave) as The Rhino, Chris Cooper (American Beauty) as Norman Osborn, Colm Feore (Thor) as Donald Menken, Marton Csokas (The Lord of the Rings) as Dr. Kafka, B.J. Novak (The Office) as Alistair Smythe, and Felicity Jones (Like Crazy) and Sarah Gadon (Cosmopolis) in as yet unrevealed roles. 


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    Dwayne Johnson has taken to Instagram to give us our first look at the upcoming disaster flick San Andreas, which will reteam Johnson with Journey 2: The Mysterious Island director Brad Peyton and sees 2013's biggest box office star as a Los Angeles First Department Air Squadron Rescue pilot looking to save his estranged daughter in the aftermath of a devastating earthquake....


    San Andreas is set for release on June 5th 2015, with a cast that also includes Carla Gugino, Alexandra Daddario and Art Parkinson.



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    Shawn Michaels and WWE's biggest annual event go hand-in-hand. He's been involved in so many memorable matches and now is your chance to relive these classics along with comments from the man himself about them.

    Shawn Michaels - Mr. Wrestlemania is available to own on DVD and Blu-ray from 17th March, and to celebrate we have a copy on DVD to give away! (Courtesy of FremantleMedia International). Read on for a synopsis details of how to enter....

    "For 30 Years, WWE and its Superstars have created a pantheon of iconic WrestleMania moments that are immortalized forever in history- but only one man can lay claim to the nickname Mr. WrestleMania , Shawn Michaels. Whether giving Undertaker all he could handle in a quest to break the streak, revolutionizing the business in a Ladder Match with Razor Ramon, or descending from the rafters for an exhausting 60-minute Iron Man Match with Bret Hart, Shawn Michaels always accomplished his one goal at WrestleMania. That goal was to steal the show." 

    Pre-order Shawn Michaels - Mr. Wrestlemania here. 

    To be in with a chance of winning, firstly make sure you like us on Facebook (or follow us on Twitter)...



    ...Then complete your details below, using the subject heading "WWE". The competition closes at midnight on Saturday, March 29th
    . UK entrants only please.

     
     By entering this competition you agree to our terms and conditions, which you can read here.


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    New trailer for Disney's Maleficent
    Walt Disney Pictures has released a new trailer for Maleficent, its upcoming live-action retelling of the classic Sleeping Beauty story starring Angelina Jolie as the Mistress of All Evil and Elle Fanning as Aurora; check it out after the official synopsis...

    From Disney comes “Maleficent”—the untold story of Disney’s most iconic villain from the 1959 classic “Sleeping Beauty.” A beautiful, pure-hearted young woman, Maleficent has an idyllic life growing up in a peaceable forest kingdom, until one day when an invading army threatens the harmony of the land. Maleficent rises to be the land’s fiercest protector, but she ultimately suffers a ruthless betrayal—an act that begins to turn her pure heart to stone. Bent on revenge, Maleficent faces an epic battle with the invading king’s successor and, as a result, places a curse upon his newborn infant Aurora. As the child grows, Maleficent realizes that Aurora holds the key to peace in the kingdom—and perhaps to Maleficent’s true happiness as well.


    Maleficent is directed by Oscar-winning production designer Robert Stromberg (Avatar, Alice in Wonderland) and also stars Sharlto Copley (Elysium), Imelda Staunton (The Pirates! Band of Misfits), Miranda Richardson (The Hours), Juno Temple (The Dark Knight Rises), and Lesley Manville (Romeo and Juliet). The film is set for release on May 30th.

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    After killing off Peter Parker in the pages of The Amazing Spider-Man #700 leading into The Superior Spider-Man, writer Dan Slott and artist Humberto Ramos will bring the original wall-crawler back from the dead next month with the release of the relaunched The Amazing Spider-Man #1. Among the artists supplying variant covers for the issue is Adi Granov, and you can check out his work right here via CBM...


    The world may have changed since Spidey’s been gone, but so has Peter Parker. This is a man with a second chance at life, and he’s not wasting a moment of it. Same Parker Luck, new Parker attitude. Putting the “friendly” back in the neighborhood, the “hero” back into “super hero,” and the “amazing” back into “Spider-Man!” Also returning: The recharged and reenergized ELECTRO!


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    If you were holding out any hope that Cartoon Network might air the remaining episodes of Beware the Batman, then I'm afraid we've got some bad news for you.

    It appears that our fears have been confirmed and the show has gone the way of Young Justice and Green Lantern: The Animated Series, with Newsarama reporting that the CG-animated series is absent from Cartoon Network's 2014-2015 schedule. Teen Titans Go! is set to return later in the year for more episodes, although there's no new DC animated show planned for the upcoming season.

    Beware the Batman was abruptly pulled from the schedule back in October after just eleven episodes, while the first thirteen were released on DVD as Season One - Part One. It remains to be seen whether the remaining episodes will see the light of day but it certainly won't be on Cartoon Network.



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    With just over a month to go before its UK release, Sony's marketing blitz for The Amazing Spider-Man 2 continues with two new promo images for the superhero sequel featuring Andrew Garfield's wall-crawler and his love Gwen Stacy (Emma Stone)...



    Meanwhile, Sony is also counting down to the arrival of the latest trailer (yes, there's going to be another one), releasing the following promo images which sees Spidey battling The Rhino (Paul Giamatti) and chasing down the Green Goblin (Dane DeHaan)...



    The Amazing Spider-Man 2 is set for release on April 18th in the UK and on May 1st in North America, with a cast that also inlcudes returning stars Sally Field (Aunt May), Chris Zylka (Flash Thompson), Campbell Scott (Richard Parker), Embeth Davidtz (Mary Parker), Martin Sheen (Ben Parker) and Denis Leary (George Stacy) joined by new additions Jamie Foxx (Django Unchained) as Electro, Chris Cooper (American Beauty) as Norman Osborn, Colm Feore (Thor) as Donald Menken, Marton Csokas (The Lord of the Rings) as Dr. Kafka, B.J. Novak (The Office) as Alistair Smythe, and Felicity Jones (Like Crazy) and Sarah Gadon (Cosmopolis) in as yet unrevealed roles.


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    Escape Plan, 2013.

    Directed by Mikael Håfström.
    Starring Sylvester Stallone, Arnold Schwarzenegger, 50 Cent, Jim Caviezel, Vinnie Jones, Sam Neill, Faran Tahir, Vincent D’Onofrio, and Amy Ryan.

    DVD Review - Escape Plan (2013)


    SYNOPSIS:

    When a structural-security authority finds himself set up and incarcerated in the world's most secret and secure prison, he has to use his skills to escape with help from the inside.

    DVD Review - Escape Plan (2013)

    Over the last few years both Sylvester Stallone and Arnold Schwarzenegger have tried hard to revamp their careers. Stallone has done fairly well with his Expendables franchise and Schwarzenegger had cameos in both films, however on their own neither have found much success. Last year we saw The Last Stand with Schwarzenegger, which was decent, and Bullet to the Head with Stallone, which was not so great, and neither of those fared too well. Despite that, both actors tried once more, this time together in Escape Plan. It's safe to say that Escape Plan is the best thing both actors have done in the last couple years, but that's not really saying much either.

    Here Stallone plays Ray Breslin, the best in the business when it comes to cracking prison escapes. He's analyzed just about every high security prison and uses his skills to design escape-proof prisons. His skills are put to the test when he is framed and incarcerated in a master prison that he designed. The strict warden (Jim Caviezel) wants him there for the rest of his life, but with the help of an unlikely ally (Arnold Schwarzenegger) Breslin may have a shot at finding a way out.

    This may be one of the most run of the mill action films to come out in a while and yet I couldn't help but be interested throughout. Through all of the predictability and all of the times you have to suspend your disbelief, it does have it' moments that make it worth watching. Right from the get go it's hard to take the film seriously because Stallone is so miscast here it's not even funny. However, despite him not giving a particularly good performance the chemistry between Stallone and Schwarzenegger is a definite highlight. In fact Schwarzenegger himself is the best part here, displaying a good amount of charisma and really making you remember why he was so much fun in his older films.

    My biggest issue here is how little I actually cared about what was happening. Sure I was fairly interested most of the time and it definitely held my attention but the film never did anything that was memorable. It just felt like it was going through the motions until the inevitable outcome that I could easily tell was going to happen. Despite all its shortcomings the film does manage to have some decent action scenes and a nice amount of humor that definitely adds a little something. There's also a talented supporting cast that sadly doesn't get anything to do except for Jim Caviezel as the warden.

    Escape Plan has its moments here and there but there's nothing that sets it apart from other routine action films. While it had potential, it ends up being nothing more than a rental, unless you're a really big Stallone or Schwarzenegger fan.

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

    Jake Peffer

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  • 03/17/14--00:15: Preview of Sovereign #1
  • Described as an epic fantasy in the tradition of Game of Thrones and set in a world which once knew gods, demons, and magic, and to which all three are returning, New York Times bestselling author Chris Roberson (Edison Rex, iZombie) joins artist Paul Maybury (Popgun, Catalyst Comix) for the new series Sovereign, which tells the story of masked undertakers facing the undead with swords, of civil wars and cultures in collision, of ancient threats emerging from the ashes of history to menace the future. Check out a preview of Sovereign #1 here...

    Sovereign #1

    Sovereign #1

    Sovereign #1

    Sovereign #1

    Sovereign #1

    Sovereign #1

    Sovereign #1

    Sovereign #1 is released on Wednesday, priced $2.99.



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    Having mapped out its Marvel releases for the next few years with May's X-Men: Days of Future Past set to be followed by The Fantastic Four in 2015 and X-Men: Apocalypse in 2016, it seems that 2017 could see fan-favourite Logan returning for his third solo outing, with director James Mangold revealing via Twitter that he plans to shoot The Wolverine sequel after production wraps on Apocalypse.

    At this point, it's not yet confirmed whether Hugh Jackman will don the claws for what would be his ninth appearance in the X-Men franchise, assuming of course that he reprises the role of Wolverine for X-Men: Apocalypse. Jackman has previously stated that he's undecided on his future as the adamantium-clawed mutant, but with his Wolverine the crown jewel of Fox's franchise, not to mention the fact that his last solo outing pulled in almost $415 million around the world, you'd have to imagine the studio will be keen to keep him in the role as long as possible.

    Jackman will next be seen as Wolverine in X-Men: Days of Future Past on May 23rd, which sees him joined in the cast by X-Men veterans James McAvoy (Professor X), Michael Fassbender (Magneto), Nicholas Hoult (Beast), Jennifer Lawrence (Mystique), Patrick Stewart (Professor X), Ian McKellen (Magneto), Lucas Till (Havok), Halle Berry (Storm), Anna Paquin (Rogue), Ellen Page (Kitty Pryde) and Shawn Ashmore (Iceman) alongside franchise newcomers Evan Peters (American Horror Story) as Quicksilver, Booboo Stewart (The Twilight Saga: Eclipse) as Warpath, Fan Binbing (Iron Man 3) as Blink, Adan Canto (The Following) as Sunspot, Josh Helman (Mad Max: Fury Road) as William Stryker, Evan Jonigkeit (Girls) as Toad, and Peter Dinklage (Game of Thrones) as Bolivar Trask.



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    Matt Smith reviews the fourth episode of True Detective....

    After the creepy shot of a suspected murderer in last week’s episode, the question preying on the back of my mind the entire week was whether Cohle and Hart were going to catch their guy. Part of me knew it wouldn’t happen, as True Detective is, delightfully, a slow burner of a series, and this week bought us the next steps taken by the protagonists.

    True Detective works because of its atmosphere. It’s a testament to the direction of the series, which this week should come into more obvious praise for the final scene, but it takes real skill to try what this series has done and it actually work. These dark characters wouldn’t work as well without the brooding, disgruntled nature of their surroundings. The standout moments are an equal mix of the great acting people are talking about (and which deserves to be recognised) and the slower moments where the story is told through something that is more than just style. The depths these characters have fallen into and become trapped by just comes through the screen.

    The locale fits the feelings perfectly. The talk of devil worshipping and church folk pushing their wares while the deep dark pervades both fits the religious overtone of the location all these events take place in.

    Something else that fits the location is the thick accent every character sports. For all the great scenes, with everything working together to create something of such high quality, it’s a shame that some scenes have to be made imperfect just because of the mumbled dialogue (sometimes leading me to having to ask someone else in the room what was just said). Mumbled dialogue may fit the mood, but too low and incomprehensible takes an audience out of a scene.

    And it’s strange thinking that what is said on screen might not even be what happened in the reality of the series. Cut to the ‘present’ and each character gives away that what came before could be completely different. With such unreliable narration, is anyone telling the truth? Everyone would fill in blanks, change details, just to make themselves look a bit better when it comes to writing the history of things.

    Though how real all the negative aspects of each character are is another question. The things shown to us the audience (and, presumably, the interviewing detectives) show our two main characters on different chemical dependencies. The mixture of anger and sorrow, made so palpable by Woody Harrelson even when he has nothing to say, fits his history as a drunk. It’s a cruelly ironic need of his to openly ask his wife for ‘just another shot’, a sign that this show is smarter than your average cop chasing a gruesome murderer show.

    These characters aren’t all headstrong, but a lot of them do have their own opinions and philosophies that crash into one another. Another reason that True Detective is so good apart from the dark nature of everyone and everything is the way everyone collides. What makes it interesting is watching what happened when two characters who’re after the same thing, but who have such different methods, came to work together. It’s been said many times already, along with the praise for the five-minute action scene used to end this week’s episode, but at the halfway point of this series, it’s still possibly the best thing on television.

    Matt Smith - follow me on Twitter.



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    Goku's final tale. Dragon Ball GT: Season 2 includes the Super 17 and Shadow Dragon Sagas, and as a bonus A Hero's Legacy movie.

    The destiny of a legendary warrior, his long path wrought with peril, reaches its apex. The fate of Goku is now tied to that of the world and the most epic toil ever rested on the shoulders of one man has come to be. As one apocalypse is thwarted, another looms! Gokus heroic friends fall around him and the warrior must steel his nerve, for two evil scientists have created the perfect killing machine: Android 17. As the abomination deals out terror with mechanical precision, horrible villains from battles past rise again. Yet even more chaos awaits. The most dangerous power of all time is stirring. The people of Earth have relied upon the power of the Dragon Balls to maintain peace and order, but the mystical relics are cracking and from their creeping chasms, seven Shadow Dragons are unleashed. Each more deadly than the last. Also includes the epic season finale movie.

    Dragonball GT: Season 2 comes to DVD on Monday 17th March, and we have a DVD box set to give away courtesy of Manga Entertainment UK. Read on for details of how to enter... 

    Pre-order Dragonball GT: Season 2 via Amazon. 

    To be in with a chance of winning, firstly make sure you like us on Facebook (or follow us on Twitter)...




    ...Then complete your details below, using the subject heading "DRAGON BALL". The competition closes at midnight on Saturday, March 29th
    . UK entrants only please.

     
     By entering this competition you agree to our terms and conditions, which you can read here.



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    A teaser trailer for a new fan made web series focusing on Batman's original sidekick has been released on-line. Here's the blurb:

    Nightwing: The Series centers around Batman’s first sidekick, Dick Grayson aka Robin. After a falling out with his mentor, Dick disappears from Gotham eventually resurfacing in the City of Bludhaven under the guise of “Nightwing”. Dick has chosen to stand alone against a new threat that emerges in his city. Can he defend the city and the lives of it’s inhabitants alone? Only time will tell in this epic mini-series."


    The team behind the series have also seen fit to provide a good quality image of the titular hero. Nice use of the Nolan Era Belt...


    We'll be sure to keep you posted on its progress.


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    Brogan Morris continues our Al Pacino Retrospective with Donnie Brasco...

    Goodfellas is a clear precursor to Donnie Brasco – Mike Newell’s film is so obviously indebted to Scorsese’s mob epic that it emerges as an unofficial ‘sidequel’, exploring the ruthless mafia family and navigating around mob vernacular in much the same way. But whereas Scorsese’s superior film could be said to glamorise that world by streamlining and removing supposedly superfluous details, Donnie Brasco puts those details back in; Brasco is more intimate, showing low- and mid-level guys watching nature documentaries at home or trying desperately to hammer open parking meters to steal the change inside.

    Donnie Brasco doesn’t feel more real per se, but it puts mafia life in a more open, relatable light. The gangsters of Donnie Brasco have small ambitions, and plans don’t always pay off – mafia veteran Lefty’s (Al Pacino) decision to set up an operation of his own in Florida results in his new bar being raided by cops on the first night. Maybe Sonny Black’s (Michael Madsen) reaction to some grim celebrity news is most telling of the kind of film Donnie Brasco is: “How can John Wayne die?” It’s recognition that no one is untouchable, and a throwaway piece of conversation between friends, simultaneously humanising the criminals and making them seem that bit more pathetic.

    Performances in Donnie Brasco are impressive, helped along by a script with a superb ear for naturalistic dialogue. Johnny Depp’s best serious role is here, for what that’s worth – as the undercover cop infiltrating New York's Bonnano crime family, Depp’s less self-consciously acting and instead delivering something quieter and more exciting than any number of wigs and camp theatrics have made him since. He matches Pacino, who tones down his gravelly histrionics to give an atypically ordinary performance as the man taking Depp's 'Donnie Brasco' under his wing (it's atypical for the Pacino of this era, that is). Al plays his age, and generously works with Depp to make the friendship between Joseph/Donnie and Lefty genuinely touching.

    It’s their relationship, and not the one between Joseph and wife Maggie (Anne Heche, also excellent), that forms the backbone of the film. Pacino makes his grouchy killer avuncular and loveable, highlighting the once supremely intense actor’s penchant for comedy during this period (“Whackin’ the boss, another thing I get left out of”, he remarks after Sonny Black and co. mercilessly execute the higher-ups). Depp, meanwhile, gives his more unreadable lead unexpected depth – his subtle change from a mild-mannered “college man” to an honorary mobster obsessed with the lifestyle may surprise those unfamiliar with Depp outside of Tim Burton movies. Together, Depp and Pacino help make a period film about old men following old values feel sprightly.

    Brogan Morris - Lover of film, writer of words, pretentious beyond belief. Thinks Scorsese and Kubrick are the kings of cinema, but PT Anderson and David Fincher are the young princes. Follow Brogan on Twitter if you can take shameless self-promotion.




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  • 03/17/14--11:47: The Rise of Mobile Games
  • The amount of users playing mobile games is on the up, according to a recent study. With the popularity of sites such as jackpotcity on the rise, gaming on the go has become the latest trend to hit the technology circuit, and especially now companies like Apple and HTC are developing their smartphones. The figures of found from the study highlights how the amount of mobile gamers looks set to increase even higher in the years to come. See below for an infographic showing the research found...



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