May 2018~ Solo: A Star Wars Story

SPOILER FREE!

Solo: A Star Wars Story is the second stand-alone movie to be released as part of the expanded SW universe, the first being Rogue One.

The film is set 10-15 years prior to the events of the first Star Wars film and tells the story of a young Han Solo and how he escaped his home planet of Corellia, met up with Chewbacca, won the Millennium Falcon and became the legend we all know.

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The film suffered a few setbacks, namely a change in director as Lucasfilm felt that the original directors were turning it into too much of a comedy. Ron Howard was brought in to fix it and did an outstanding job!

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If you are expecting a traditional Star Wars film then you are in for a shock and a pleasent surprise at the same time. The best way I can describe it is Star Wars meets The Italian Job. There is just enough comedy without going OTT and the story is fun. Its not mind-altering but a good, fun romp with enough easter eggs (35 at last count I believe) to keep the most ardent Star Wars fan happy.

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Alden Ehrenreich had big shoes to fill as the young Han and he did an amazing job. He didn’t try to copy Harrison Ford but got just enough of Han’s quirks/mannerisms down pat and managed to make the character his own.

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Donald Glover was awesome as the younger Lando Calrissian. He brought an air of sophistication and cockiness to the role made famous by Billy Dee Williams.

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Emilia Clarke stood out as brand new character Qi’ra, Han’s childhood friend from Corellia. No spoilers, but for me she was the most interesting character with the most development. Not JUST because its Emilia as some of my friends would have you believe!

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Ignore the critics! They’ve never liked Star Wars. Go with your head and heart open and enjoy the film as its a great little addition to the Star Wars universe!!

PS: If you go to Odeon you can pick up an awesome set of Sabacc-style character cards!

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May 2018~ Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom @KingsCross

The fifth film in the Jurassic Park franchise (and second of the new trilogy), Jurassic Park: Fallen Kingdom is due for release in early June. Set three years after the exploits of Jurassic World, it tells the story of the fight to save the dinosaurs of Isla Nublar from a second Extinction Level Event.

In the weeks before, a number of promotional events took place throughout the UK involving a large T-Rex, Blue the Raptor and a Jurassic World gyrosphere. Limited edition posters were also being handed out.

UPDATE:  (Mini spoiler-free review!)

Jurassic World Fallen Kingdom itself is awesome. In my opinion its the best one since the original back in 1993 and I LOVED Jurassic World- once again lots of hidden easter eggs and call backs to the earlier movies. Chris Pratt and Bryce Dallas Howard once again steal the show and it leaves the options open nicely for what will be the final film of the new trilogy in as few years time.

Photos below!

May 2018~ Heroes & Villains Fan Fest

This was the second HVFF event put on by FanFest in London. It’s a far better organised event than its sister show, WalkerStalker Con which had some problems this year. For me though the big difference is the fan base. The fans that attend HVFF are far friendlier than those who attend WSC- they seem to really believe they are in a zombie apocalypse and can act like arseholes!

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Like last year the event wasn’t oversold which meant you could move around without too much hassle. I’d rather pay more for that to be honest than pay a cheap entry/autograph price and be packed in like sardines.

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Over the last  year I have really gotten into Arrow- I already watch most of the other Arrrowverse show including Supergirl and Legends of Tomorrow but quickly caught up with Oliver Queen and co. Just The Flash to do now. All of the guests I was interested in meeting were from one of those shows. They were Caity Lotz (Sara Lance- LoT/Arrow), Katie Cassidy (Laurel Lance- Arrow), Emily Bett Rickards (Felicity Smoak-Arrow), Stephen Amell (Oliver Queen/Green Arrow- Arrow), David Ramsey (John Diggle- Arrow) and Juliana Harkavy (Dinah Drake/Black Canary- Arrow).

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All of the guests were lovely to meet and its especially nice when a guest actually remembers you and your name. They do pay attention! (Thanks Caity Lotz!)

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I also attended a number of panels, including John Barrowman Unleashed which was absolutely hilarious. John came on in a Wonder Woman costume!

The Torchwood Panel, again with John and the rest of the cast which was equally as funny. Eve Myles paid a touching tribute to JB at the end, telling everyone how selfless he is and how giving.

The Arrow villains panel with Josh Segarra, Kirk Acevedo and Katie Cassidy gave a good insight as to what it is like to play a villain on the show and how intense it can be.

Stephen Amell’s Green Arrow panel was equally as interesting and was hilariously moderated by Aisha Tyler (of Archer fame). It saw Stephen’s young daughter come on stage and tell everyone about his secret identity. Stephen also came down into the audience to comfort a young child who was trying to ask him a question but was too overcome with it all to ask the question. A truly lovely guy!

Finally, I sat in on the Gotham panel. I’ve never watched the show but after hearing the actors talk I may just have to.

The photo op section was run like a well-oiled machine and I had my prints and FREE digital download within a minute. The print quality is awesome.

As usual, there were lots of people in cosplay. Some amazing, others not so but at least they tried!

A big thanks to my friend Fudge for giving me one of her BOGOF VIP tickets and letting me share a couple of her photo ops! Roll on HVFF 2019!

May 2018~ Starfury Ultimates

This event was announced shortly after the previous years’ event (it may even have been at the event itself) and last year had got some very mixed reviews. It had been a number of years since I attended a Starfury event so I kept a close eye on the guest list.

A number of guests were announced, mainly from the DC shows Supergirl, Arrow, The Flash and Gotham plus a number of guest from Agents on SHIELD and Jessica Jones. This was enough to get me interested so I purchased a weekend ticket as all the gold had sold out. The one good thing I like about the weekend or gold tickets is that all the autographs for regular guests are included. Any bonus or extra guests that are added you have to pay for but are still cheap as are the photo shoots of which I purchased eleven in the end.

As the event drew nearer a number of guests cancelled. It’s unfortunate but happens if the working actor gets offered a new role. My photo-ops were refunded at the event via a credit note which enabled me to buy a few more.

The event venue was the Norbreck Castle Hotel in Blackpool. A fairly run-down venue but large enough to handle the sheer number of attendees. Luckily I wasn’t staying at the hotel but somewhere nearer the centre of Blackpool. I arrived midday Friday and went to collect my pass and photo-op tickets. I then went back to my accommodation for the night to chill out.

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I arrived the next morning bright and early as I had photo shoots with a number of guests. 6 on Saturday to be precise. I must admit that apart from the big signing events like WalkerStalker and Heroes & Villains, these were by far the smoothest photo-ops ever. Very long, yes, but well run. Both Floriana Lima and Chyler Leigh were beyond amazing. Friendly and beautiful both insde and out! Elizabeth Henstridge took one look at my matching cap, shirt and lanyard and proceeded to call me a SHIELD nerd which she though was funny! Too cute!

I then proceeded to watch a few panels by various actors including the SHIELD panels, Supergirl and Jessica Jones panels. They were both insightful and hilarious and gave a great sneak peek into what goes on behind the cameras.

After that, it was autograph time. We were called by badge number and yes, once again it was busy but fun. Brett Dalton (Agent Grant Ward- SHIELD) did deface my badge with some Hydra propoganda! He’s well known for it and very funny-cool dude!

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It was then I collected all my photos from earlier in the day. All professionally printed on glossy 10×8. Very nice!

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I then hung around for the costume contest and as usual there were some awesome entries. Thanks to those people on the Facebook Ultimates group for letting me steal some photos as I had an issue with my phone and didn’t get any!

I then headed back to chill about before doing it all again the next day.

More photo-ops….

More panels….

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More autographs….

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and lots more costumes.

A big thank you must go to all of the stewards, staff and the organiser, Sean Harry for an amazing event.

Hopefully I get to do it all again next year when the event moves to Birmingham

Most of all a HUGE thank you must go to all the guests. Without them doing what they do and being the fun people they are, the event would have been nowhere near as good!

Thanks to:

Krysten Ritter & Carrie-Ann Moss (Jessica Jones)

Elizabeth Henstridge, Brett Dalton, Mallory Jansen, BJ Britt & Max Osinski (Agents of SHIELD)

Chyler Leigh, Jeremy Jordan, Floriana Lima & Briana Venskus (Supergirl)

Willa Holland & Paul Blackthorne (Arrow)

Violett Beane (The Flash)

Maggie Geha (Gotham)

 

April 2018~ Secret Cinema- Blade Runner: The Final Cut

SPOILERS BELOW- DO NOT CONTINUE UNLESS YOU WANT TO BE SPOILED!

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Secret Cinema are back and this time they are celebrating their 10th anniversary by going back to their first event with Blade Runner, only this time it was to be bigger and better.

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The whole premise of the event this time was around humans moving off-world to live on colonies in outer space (as in the film) because the Earth was polluted. Replicants and companions are quite common (again, as in the film) but the Nexus 6 model was banned due to it being a danger- just like the film.

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Three of us were planning on going so bought tickets (unfortunately, our friend Fudge had to pull out at the last minute).  Within a few days we were sent an email inviting us to sign up for our identities for the evening. A quick questionnaire determined your job of which there were many. I was assigned to be Dennis Lockwood, an ambassador for The Utopia Corporation who run all the off-world colonies. My friend David was to be a Private Detective whilst Fudge would be a ‘Professional Friend’. We were given a list of things to bring (including goggles or glasses, a transparent umbrella or jacket, a notepad and more) and told how we should dress. Regular updates gave us more information leading up to the event. We also had to print off our ID card and bring it with us.

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The day of the event arrived and we had to be at Canning Town Station by 6pm. A couple of LAPD Police Officers directed us to the World Terminus, just across the road. Upon arrival we had our tickets scanned and was given a seal-able bag for our mobile phones.

We then entered Downtown LA 2019- the people at Secret Cinema had painstakingly created the stalls, the people, the whole environment, right down to the acid rain! Many key characters from the film could be seen wandering around including Rick Deckard, Rachael, Detective Harry Bryant, Taffey Lewis, JF Sebastian, Gaff and more. There were also plenty of replicants of various models (including Leon, Pris, Zhora and Roy Batty) wandering around. You could eat at any one of the Chinese food stalls, get drinks at nearby bars, visit The Snake Pit, LAPD HQ and Tyrell Corp. Every area had actors in who never break character.

David went off to LAPD to get his assignment and was pretty quickly chasing around The Snake Pit with other detectives. My assignment was to report to Utopia Corp to be inducted. The induction took the form of listening to and taking part in a sales pitch for those wanting to move off-world. At the end, Eve, the Utopia liaison, told me to report to Tyrell to undergo testing.

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On arrival at Tyrell, we were separated by wrist band colour. Mine was red and there were only a few of us- there were not many reds in the box when we were given them at the entrance (something on our ID cards told the staff what colour to give us).

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I was taken, with 4 others, to a back room and shown a rather disturbing ‘mental conditioning’ video. At the end of the video we were told that we were all Nexus 6 replicants and had to do our best to avoid the Blade Runners and stay alive. We had two choices- 1) Go back to Utopia Corp and persuade Eve to get us off-world quickly or 2)Try our best to blend in and stay undetected.

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We left Tyrell. I chose to go with option one, however, someone had beaten me to it. When this other Nexus-6 approached Eve, she worked out he was a dangerous replicant and called the police. He was very quickly chased down. I then decided to blend in and hit the various bars and different districts whilst David ran around being a detective. I had to avoid the scavengers area as they were all diseased. I had a close encounter with someone trying to sell me illegal off-world tickets.

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Then, I decided to fall down the stairs and twist my knee. An LAPD cop and the First Aid guys were awesome and after applying a freeze bandage I headed back out into Chinatown. I met up with David shortly before the film began and the same LAPD cop helped get us to the front to get a decent seat. There were 3 massive screens that all became part of the set and key scenes were, as normal, acted out along with the film.

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Both I and David had an absolute blast and were both upset that Fudge could not join us as she would have loved it! My only complaint (and David’s) was that the cinema seating was too small and too cramped. Luckliy, Detective Krause (they are ALWAYS in character) moved me to a VIP seat due to my dodgy knee. It was better but not by much.

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If you are a big fan of Blade Runner then you must do this. It’s awesome!

A HUGE thanks to David for coming out of his way to pick me up and drive me home again!

April 2018~ Out Of The Ashes Reunion

Since the Out of the Ashes Con in April 2017 ended, many attendees wanted to meet up again and have fun. Some of the attendees got together along with a couple of the FCD crew to organise a reunion event in April 2018. It was to be a one-day event with a buffet and party in the evening.

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Friday April 6th came and the attendees began descending on The Telford-Ironbridge Holiday Inn. After a not-so-enjoyable visit to a local restaurant, the fun began quite quickly and carried on at the hotel bar into the wee small hours of Saturday morning.

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Other folks began arriving on Saturday morning and registered for the event, which began at 12pm with a variety of board games. The crew of the USS Iceni were running a raffle and at 2pm the event would be officially opened.

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I had been asked a few months ago to come up with some kind of quiz along with my FCD sidekick (or am I the sidekick) Neil Green. It was to start out as a team event with The Tribblemakers taking on Team DISCO.

All rounds had some kind of geeky link but were based on a classic gameshow from the 70s onwards. Examples included ‘Play Your Cardassians Right,’ ‘The Next Generation Game’ and ‘Odo’s Weakest Link’. After the first four rounds, one team was eliminated and the remaining team had to compete against each other with one person leaving at the end of each round.

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One round involved the final three contestants having to sculpt a model of Odo from Star Trek: Deep Space Nine out of modelling clay. Our surprise guest, Rainbow Sun-Francks from Stargate Atlantis, hilariously judged this particular round.

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At the very end, the one remaining contestant took part in ‘Who Wants To Be A Millionaire Geek Edition. Our Grand Champion was Mark Cottam.

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Everyone left to go and get ready for our Mask Party and buffet. I’m not a fan of masks but found one I was happy with- Captain Chaos from Cannonball Run.

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People began arriving in a variety of outfits, including Holly, one of the organisers who came as an Andorian from Star Trek. After a few opening remarks and a guest announcement for the upcoming FCD Stargate con, Cal Mah, the party began.

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Many people headed home the next day but a few of us hung around to chill out before heading home on the Monday.

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I really hope it becomes an annual event as its good to catch up with good friends and family and do it away from a full blown con.

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A huge thanks to the organisers! A job well done!

April 2018~ 2001: A Space Odyssey 50th Anniversary

50 years ago today ‘Something wonderful’ happened. A film was released that would split the sci-fi world in two. You either loved it or hated it.

Most fans have their own theory about the meaning behind the plot and indeed the plot itself. Many of these theories overlap. Here’s my interpretation.

4 million years ago, a group of apes lived in Africa, fighting over food and water with another tribes of apes. One night, an Alien artifact, a large black monolith, suddenly appears, near this tribe. This black slab represents a challenge for the apes as they were naturally fearful but also curious creatures. Their curiosity eventually won and led Moonwatcher, the leader of the tribe to touch the Monolith. This touch sparked the next stage in evolution and led the apes to create the first tool which was then used as the first weapon.

Skipping forward 4 million years to the year 2001 we see the Earth, surround by a variety of space stations and nuclear weapons platforms. Humans have evolved, are rational and still curious but lacking the fear the apes had. There is no gravity space space so humans need to learn to walk again and be toilet trained and eats baby-style food. In essence, they are babies again.

The tools have evolved too, in many cases becoming more human-like. In space, humans can easily lose control of their tools.

Another large monolith is discovered beneath the surface near the crater, Tycho. A group of humans visit the now-uncovered monolith. As this new contact is made, a high-pitched transmission is beamed from the slab and out towards Jupiter (Saturn in the first novel). This monolith is acting as some kind of sentry- letting its creators know that humans have now evolved to a stage that is taking them out into space- a possible potential threat??

18 months later, the Discovery One ship, under the command of Dr Dave Bowman and Dr Frank Poole is approaching Jupiter where another Monolith has been detected. On board Discovery, along with Dave, Frank and three crew in cryo-sleep is HAL- HAL is the name of the ship’s on-board HAL9000 computer, the brains and nervous system of the whole ship. HAL sees Dave, Frank and the other humans as mere maintenance men, just there to look after and service him. To HAL, humans have gone as far as they can go and he is the next stage in evolution. HAL believes he is a living, sentient being. Superior to humans in every way.

HAL detects an error in the AE-35 unit. This eventually turns out to be a mistake, causing Dave and Frank to attempt to deactivate HAL. However, HAL is one tool that man has lost control of. He doesn’t need air to breathe or food for fuel. HAL was also given conflicting orders, preserve the mission above all other orders as well as take care of the crew- this in turn also added to his downfall. A battle between man and tool begins and leads HAL to cause the death of Frank Poole as well as the other 3 crew members in cryo-sleep and leaving Dave Bowman stranded in an EV-Pod outside of the ship.

HAL didn’t figure on Dave’s human, ape-like ingenuity kicking in and Dave is able to get back on to the Discovery and shut-down HAL with the simplest tool of all. A screwdriver.

Dave now finds himself alone and facing certain death. His crew are dead as is his ship.

Dave decides to go and investigate the Monolith and heads out in one of the EV-Pods. On arrival, he is instantly transported through a star-gate to another dimension where he sees himself as an old man facing humanities final challenge- death. Like the broken wine glass and spilt wine, he understands that the human body is just a vessel for the human spirit.

Human evolution had relied so much on the tools it created that it the end it was the tools (HAL) that almost killed him. This realisation shows that man is ready for the next evolutionary leap and thus the star-child is born.

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