Tag Archive: Movies


A day behind the rest of the planet but here goes.

Looks great, and slots nicely into the look and feel of the Lord Of The Rings films. Some good scenes, dwarves, elves, wargs and Gollum. I like the look of the goblins, bit like Orcs but different.

As an added bonus, if you go over to the main movie site, there is a choice of five different endings.

http://www.thehobbit.com/index.html#content=choose-your-moment

 

 

 

Dredd 3D – Review

I was 14 in 1977 when I picked up the first issue of 2000AD, a weekly comic full of exotic characters and – for a kids comic – some very adult action. In Prog#2 the world was introduced to a character that has become an icon of British comics, even though the character himself is American. Judge Dredd blasted onto the pages of 2000AD taking charge of the grim street of Mega-City 1 and bringing a weird assortment of perps to justice every week. Over the 35 years since his first appearance Joe Dredd has been through the mill, he’s faced death (literally), disaster, aliens, demons and  the near destruction of his city several times. To bring such a character to the big screen is a hell of an undertaking, his following are up there among some of the most difficult to please there are. So to do the character justice (sic) it would have to be done right. On the whole I think Alex Garland has pulled it off.

Getting the character right is paramount, ignoring Sylvester Stallone’s attempt in 1995 this time round they’ve hit the nail on the head. The one thing Judge Dredd is known for is he never removes his helmet. There is never any explanation as to why – there are hints of disfigurement – and it is taken that staying true to the character’s catchphrase “I am the Law, that the reason the character is faceless is because justice is the same. Karl Urban has the mannerisms and voice down to a tee. Back in the early days of 2000AD creator John Wagner stated that the character was heavily based on Clint Eastwood’s Spaghetti Western man-with-no-name character. To listen to Urban deliver that famous catchphrase you can see he’s researched the character well.

To act as a foil for Dredd the writers have given him a partner, but this time round there is no cringing re-imaging of Fergie, we have Cadet Judge Cassandra Anderson who is well portrayed by Olivia Thirlby. Anderson is a Psi-Judge, mutated by the fallout from the atomic wars she has powerful psychic abilities that, despite not being the best Judge material, set her above other cadets. As with the comic character, in the film Joe Dredd is a brutal law enforcer, think Harry Callahan and times him by ten. Anderson is there to show a softer side to the future Justice system, not that she’s a pushover, she shows her metal throughout the film and proves to a skeptical Dredd that she has what it takes to police the streets of the city.

Every hero needs a villain, Dredd has his in the shape of psychotic crime boss, murderess, drug dealer Ma Ma played by Lena Headey. They could have so got this wrong – think Rico in the 1995 effort – but they managed to get a perfect balance between over-the-top madness and directed aggression. Ma Ma is the queen of her world, and as queen thinks she is above everyone, including the Judges. Her rule over the Peach Trees mega-block where the action takes place is one of total fear. Placed between the two powerful forces of Ma Ma and Dredd you have to feel for the residents, talk about a rock and a hard place.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

With all the characters ticking the boxes the other problem the writers had was getting the feel of the film right. Judge Dredd is known as an ultra-violent story, if you’ve ever read the comic you’ll know what I mean. The gunshot wounds inflicted by any weapon are graphic and bloody. The effects in this film have managed to transfer that image perfectly, and is helped also by the Slo Mo effect that kicks in during some of the set pieces. Thankfully the writers made sure the tone of the comic strip was not lost, and thankfully the British censors gave the film an 18 certificate meaning we weren’t served up a watered down film.

I was a little unsure about the look of Mega City One, I suppose I’m too used to the overcrowded look of the comic version. For me the shots we had showed a city with too much open space. But then after watching I thought perhaps I was wrong. In the comic Judge Dredd is set 122 years in the future, so the first time he appeared in the comic in 1977, in Dredd’s world it was 2099. For someone back in the late 70’s the year 2099 was a long way away, in 2012, not so long. So the image created for this film is of a city not that far ahead of us in time, but enough so that we notice the differences.

So how does Dredd 3D stand up against Judge Dredd? I’ll admit to having a soft spot for the Stallone version. Yes it was flawed, Dredd takes his helmet off, the kiss, too many storylines mixed into one. But some things it did have right, the look of Mega City One was closer to the current comic image, the bikes, Mean Angel and the ABC Warrior. But watch them side-by-side (something I will do once Dredd is out on DVD) you can tell which is the superior film, and which one is closer to the source material.

I will admit to having a lot of misgivings about Dredd going in. All of those misgivings were dispelled fairly soon after the film starts, in taking the low budget, more graphic path the writers have managed to capture lightning and produce a vivid, action-packed 90 minutes that gives the viewer little time to catch their breath. The one misgiving I still have, the 3D, not so much the use of it but the films distributors and cinema chains insistence on only showing the film in the one format. Yes I watched it in 3D, I had no choice, after I had a headache, I would have preferred to have watched it in 2D, but wasn’t given the choice.

I’m hoping that Dredd is a success, I’ve heard its taken $1.6million on its opening weekend in the UK placing it at number 1 in the ratings. To get a sequel the studio have marked $50million as the target to break. Hopefully goods reviews and results in the UK will make the film a hit in the US as well.

Few bits of catch-up news and some of the things that interest me in the coming months…

 

Game Of  Thrones

HBO have signed a deal with UK based Blinkboxto stream S1 and 2 –http://www.blinkbox.com/TV/Series/1024/Game-of-Thrones?icn=GameOfThrones&ici=DHB_homepage – both are now available – £1.89 per episode or £17.99 for the series. Blinkbox are part of Tesco and looking through their site have quite a lot to offer. There is no monthly subscription, you pay-per-view.  As part of the deal with HBO shows like Boardwalk Empire and True Blood are also available. Whilst this is good news to non-Sky customers I do worry if it will have a knock on effect. If viewers can now what the show without signing up to Sky will it affect their viewing figures, and also with S2 now available to view 7 months before the proposed release date for the DVD/BluRay boxset, will this affect those sales as well?

Staying with GoT, Irish actor Ciaran Hinds has been cast as Mance Rayder.

 

Mance is the King-Beyond-The-Wall, he’s been mentioned numerous times during S1 & 2, and the last time we saw Jon Snow he was being taken to see him. Mance has amassed a Wildling army and is heading for the Wall.

Ciaran is a well known actor appearing in films such as Munich, John Carter, Tinker Taylor Soldier Spy. He’s probably most well known for his portrayal of Julius Ceaser in Rome.

 

Dredd 

The official trailer for Dredd was released a few weeks ago.

I’ve been a fan of Judge Dredd and 2000AD since the comic first came out in 1977, whilst I am looking forward to this film, I have some reservations. But those reservations are dwindling as the release date draws ever nearer and more information about what we can expect are made known.

 

Red Country

Publisher Gollancz have released a new trailer for Joe Abercrombie’s next book Red Country.

And a newish blurb.

They burned her home.

They stole her brother and sister.

But vengeance is following.

Shy South hoped to bury her bloody past and ride away smiling, but she’ll have to sharpen up some bad old ways to get her family back, and she’s not a woman to flinch from what needs doing. She sets off in pursuit with only a pair of oxen and her cowardly old stepfather Lamb for company. But it turns out Lamb’s buried a bloody past of his own, and out in the lawless Far Country, the past never stays buried.

Their journey will take them across the barren plains to a frontier town gripped by gold fever, through feud, duel and massacre, high into the unmapped mountains to a reckoning with the Ghosts. Even worse, it will force them into alliance with Nicomo Cosca, infamous soldier of fortune, and his feckless lawyer Temple, two men no one should ever have to trust. . .

The past never stays buried . . .

Red Country is out September 3rd in the UK.

 

Gypsys Kiss and more…

I mentioned a while ago that my current WIP – Gypsys Kiss – now has the first part completed and edited, I’m doing some research for parts 2 and 3 before continuing with the writing. In the mean time I’ve begun work on an as yet untitled project that I aim to have completed in time to submit for the Abaddon Books open submission month in September – http://abaddonbooks.blogspot.com/2012/07/write-for-abaddon.html – I’ve got about 3.1/2 chapters done (approx 9,000 words) and hope to have a first draft early in next month. This will hopefully give me time to re-read, edit and get it submitted.

I’ve also re-visited a 60 minute pilot script I started about 18 months ago (I had 20 minutes written and the rest notes). The aim on this one is to get it finished and an outline of the other six episodes in time for the next submission window for the BBC Writers Room in the Autumn.

Busy, busy, busy…

 

The Hobbit Trilogy Confirmed

Over on his Facebook page Peter Jackson has confirmed that The Hobbit is now a trilogy.

https://www.facebook.com/notes/peter-jackson/an-unexpected-journey/10151114596546558

To quote:

It is only at the end of a shoot that you finally get the chance to sit down and have a look at the film you have made. Recently Fran, Phil and I did just this when we watched for the first time an early cut of the first movie – and a large chunk of the second. We were really pleased with the way the story was coming together, in particular, the strength of the characters and the cast who have brought them to life.  All of which gave rise to a simple question: do we take this chance to tell more of the tale? And the answer from our perspective as the filmmakers, and as fans, was an unreserved ‘yes.’  

 We know how much of the story of Bilbo Baggins, the Wizard Gandalf, the Dwarves of Erebor, the rise of the Necromancer, and the Battle of Dol Guldur will remain untold if we do not take this chance.  The richness of the story of The Hobbit, as well as some of the related material in the appendices of The Lord of the Rings, allows us to tell the full story of the adventures of Bilbo Baggins and the part he played in the sometimes dangerous, but at all times exciting, history of Middle-earth.

 So, without further ado and on behalf of New Line Cinema, Warner Bros. Pictures, Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, Wingnut Films, and the entire cast and crew of “The Hobbit” films, I’d like to announce that two films will become three.  

 It has been an unexpected journey indeed, and in the words of Professor Tolkien himself, “a tale that grew in the telling.”

 Cheers, 

 Peter J

Happy dance time!

San Diego Comic-Con 2012

For the past few days San Diego Comic-Con has been host to thousands of SF & Fantasy fans eager for the latest news on their top shows and movies. I collated some of the news here for shows and films I’m interested in.

First up…

Marvel – Phase Two

With Marvel Avengers Assemble the studio announced the end of their Phase One releases. Phase Two would contain Iron Man III, Thor II and Captain America II. The plan is the second phase will lead up to the second Avengers film. Over the course of Comic-Con more information has been released.

Thor: The Dark World is the title for the God of Thunder’s second outing and has a release date of November 8th 2013. As yet no further details are known regarding plot and casting, Chris Helmsworth will be reprising the role of Thor.

Captain America: The Winter Soldier is the title for Steve Rogers second outing and has a release date of April 4th 2014. No further details are known, but in the comics The Winter Soldier storyline was about “Bucky” Barnes who was Steve Rogers sidekick during WWII. It was a Cold War tale with “Bucky” revived without his memory and brainwashed by the Russians as an assassin. I’m not sure if they will use the same storyline or update it maybe with “Bucky” being radicalised.

Ant-Man was announced but no release date yet. He is a superhero who was at one time a member of The Avengers,  in the comics various characters have assumed the name, the original was Henry Pym, a brilliant scientist who invented a formula to alter his size.

Iron Man III is filming now, and footage shown confirms that Sir Ben Kingsley is playing The Mandarin, a long time enemy of Tony Stark.

Guardians of the Galaxy are another superhero group like The Avengers, except they are from the far future alternative time-line. Marvel have announced this film as a bridge between the three sequels and Ant-Man film and the second Avengers outing. In the after credits clip of the Avengers we saw the main adversary behind the attacks on Earth, this was a character called Thannos, it is believed both superhero teams maybe involved in battling him.

The Walking Dead S3

The trailer for season 3 of AMC’s The Walking Dead was shown. This series covers events in the town of Woodbury and introduces a character known as the Governor.

Game Of Thrones S3

Season 3 of HBO’s Game Of Thrones began filming last week. Unlike the first two seasons casting announcements have been scarce as it seems the producers have saved them all for Comic-Con. Season 3 will air on March 31st 2013.

A brief breakdown as to who is who.

Mackenzie Crook has been cast as Orell, a wildling who is a close advisor to the King-Beyond-The-Wall Mance Rayder. Crook is probably best known to UK viewers as Gareth from The Office, he also stared as one-eyed Ragetti in the first three Pirates of the Caribbean films.

Paul Kaye has been cast as Thoros of Myr, Thoros is a Red Priest like Melisandre. But unlike her Thoros likes to drink and fight. He is a one-time drinking partner of Robert Baratheon. In the books he went with Lord Benric Dondarrion to bring Ser Gregor Clegane to justice on Ned Stark’s orders (S1). Kaye shot to fame in the UK as “Dennis Pennis” a “shock-interviewer” who insulted celebrities whilst interviewing them. He stared in many shows throughout the early 2000s.

Richard Dormer has been cast as Lord Beric Dondarrion of Blackraven. The character did appear briefly in S1 when he was despatched by Ned Stark to bring Ser Gregor Clegane to justice, the producers decided to recast for S3. Dormer is an actor and playwright.

Clive Russell has been cast as Brynden “the Blackfish” Tully, the uncle of Catelyn , Lysa and Edmure. In the books Brynden was introduced in The Game Of Thrones, but because of the trimming down of the Riverrun/Tully storyline it has been delayed until S3. Russell is a well known actor and has appeared in countless films and TV shows.

Tobias Menzies has been cast as Edmure Tully, he is the younger brother of Catelyn and Lysa, and nephew of Brynden. Edmure is not a great warrior and lacks Catelyn’s political skills. Menzies played Brutus in Rome.

Tara Fitzgerald has been cast as Selyse Baratheon, the wife of Stannis Baratheon. She is a devotee of the Red God had staunch supporter of Melisandre. Fitzgerald is a star of stage, screen and TV, most recently as Dr. Eve Lockhart in BBCs Waking The Dead.

Ellie Kendrick has been cast as Meera Reed.

And Thomas Brodie-Sangster has been cast as Jojen Reed. Meera and Jojen are the children of Lord Howland Reed, a staunch ally of Ned Stark and one of his closest friends. In the books they are sent to Winterfell to pledge allegence to Robb Stark after Ned’s death, they are there when Theon and the Ironborn take the fortress, then they escape North with Bran Stark. Brodie-Sangster is most famous for staring alongside Liam Neeson in Love Actually, Kendrick recently stared in BBCs Upstairs Downstairs.

The Hobbit

With principle photography complete on both Hobbit films, some of the cast and director Peter Jackson were at Comic-Con promoting the first release. During an interview with TheOneRing.net Jackson admitted the posibility that there could be a third film in the offing.

http://www.theonering.net/torwp/2012/07/14/59060-exclusive-jackson-may-be-pondering-a-third-hobbit-film/

 

An interesting year or three ahead, and come this time next year we’ll have Comic-con 2013.

 

First off let me pin my colours to the mast, I love Judge Dredd. I have done ever since I read the very first story (2000AD Prog #2 if anyone’s wondering) and read him – and the rest of the comic – weekly from 1977 until the late 1980s.

I will further pin my colours to the 1995 Judge Dredd movie staring Sylvester Stallone. Yes it was heavily flawed – drawing from numerous Dredd stories that in the comics spread over a couple of decades, Stallones voice, taking the helmet off – and as a star Stallone was probably the wrong choice. But up until now the 1995 version was the only version to be made, so in some way we should cherish it.

In September, Dredd, the second attempt to get the iconic 2000AD lawman onscreen hits cinemas. This one stars Karl Urban (Lord Of The Rings, Doom, Star Trek) and from the few reports that have been coming out of the production seems to have taken a very different route than the 1995 version.

The script is said to be more adult – one comment I’ve read was along the lines of “think Die Hard crossed with  The Gauntlet and you won’t be far away” – and sticks more closely to the graphic violence depicted in the comic strip. I will admit to have read A script that was leaked online last year. I’m not saying it is the actual script, but will say that if it is – or at least shares the same DNA – then the Die Hard/Gauntlet comparison fits.

Product rumbled along with barely a whisper from writers, actors or anyone linked to the production. There have been a few images showing a grumpy looking Karl Urban wearing a very contemporary looking riot uniform.

This look is miles away from the look  modelled by Stallone 17 years ago.

Which, despite its other flaws, actually sticks closer to the design of Dredd’s uniform from the comic than the new look. Now I know that the uniform as it is in the comics is wholly impractical, top heavy with a shoulder pad on one side and a Eagle emblem on the other. But then everyone knows Batman‘s costume is impractical, but no one has ever thought to redesign it so the person wearing it can actually function.

Uniforms, leading actors and stories aside there is another major difference that has arisen between the two versions of the film, and the source material itself. In the last 24 hours the image above was released, a screen shot depicting Dredd walking out of a building with the view of Mega City One in front of him.

As it stands it is an impressive view, but anyone who has read 2000AD will know that the city is a crazy place, with mile high buildings, walkways, roads, aerial vehicles (pretty much LA from Blade Runner on acid). It is overpopulated – 800 million people – with everyone living on top of each other. Looking at the view above it doesn’t look that crowded, I know its hard to make a judgement when I don’t know in what context this shot is set – I have read that perhaps Dredd is actually on the top level of a building himself so all we are seeing is the tops of the tallest buildings – but it still looks way to…peaceful.

Strangely – again – the 1995 film depicted the city pretty much the same as the comic’s.

So we have two vastly different takes on an iconic character. One was slated by fans and casual observers alike, the other has fans nervous that if the makers screw it up a second time then that’ll be it. At the end of the day it’ll be down to us – the public – to make our minds up whether Dredd (2012) lives up to the expectations heaped upon it. Or whether Judge Dredd (1995)  will be remembered and a valiant if flawed effort and should perhaps be given a second chance.

 

Avengers Assemble

Directed By: Joss Whedon

Staring : Robert Downey Jr, Chris Evans, Mark Ruffalo, Chris Hemsworth, Scarlett Johansson, Jeremy Renner, Tom Hiddleston and Samuel L Jackson.

Commander Nick Fury of SHIELD assembles Earth’s mightiest superheroes to battle an invading alien army led my demi-god Loki. But first the Avengers have to learn to work as a team and trust eachother. 

This film has been brewing on the horizon since Samuel L Jackson appeared as Nick Fury in the after credits scene in the first Iron Man film. For many fans of superhero’s, and of Marvel in particular, this is the film that had to get things right. I grew up reading Marvel comics, my favourites Thor, Hulk and Spiderman. I’d read some of the Avengers so had a passing knowledge of who and what the characters were.

Over that past few months we’re been spoiled with countless trailers, each showing off the individual characters, each giving snippets of what was to come. Just on viewing those trailers alone it was clear that giving Joss Whedon the writer/director duties was a great move and one that ensured this ensemble piece worked.

From the opening scenes setting up Loki and his plans we were straight into the action with a set piece in a SHIELD base, from there on in each of the main players was drawn into the film and each given their time to shine. This is very much a group effort and differs wilding from previous attempts at superhero group films. With the X-Men franchise they made the mistake of focusing too much on Wolverine, it would have been easy to go that route here and make the film all about Iron Man, but thankfully Whedon didn’t and in doing so made a much more focused and enjoyable film.

It’s hard to say which actor/character stands out the best, but there is one that – for me – makes the film. All of the main characters have had thier own films to establish themselves, in Iron Man’s case he’s had two. But Mark Ruffalo’s Hulk has had no set up time, he is thrust straight into the story without the comfort blanket of a previous film. Its because of this I find his interpretation of Bruce Banner and the Hulk stand out from the rest. His quiet man just trying to get by is a contrast to the unleashed fury that is the Hulk. And unlike any other big screen version this Hulk has a character all to himself. There are two scenes that highlight the Hulk as more than just a monster that smashes things up, the first where he back hands Thor with a smile on his face, and the second where he proves to Loki what puny humans can do.

There was another character that stood out for me, Samuel L Jackson’s Nick Fury. I’d read some of SHIELDs adventures back in the day, but it wasn’t until watching this film I realised what a dark character he is. I know he’s a spy and commander of a covert network pledged to protecting America/the World from threats, but in the Avengers he was much more than that. He played people, manipulated them to do what he wanted. In some ways his actions reminded me of 24Jack Bauer, in that he would do anything, sacrifice anyone, to get the job done. His actions after the death of a fan favourite character were pretty cold, he virtually used the situation to bully Captain America and Iron Man into taking action. Did it need to be done, I guess yes, at this point in the film the team were dead in the water and it needed someone like Fury to look at the bigger picture.

This is a fantastic film, it ticks all the right boxes. As a fan of Marvel superheroes this is a film I’ve waited 30 + years for, and it was well worth the wait.

 

Peter Jackson has posted a new production blog for The Hobbit. This one covers the location shooting that has been going on and is full of some fantastic shots of the scenery we will be seeing in a little over 9 months time.

Some great insights into what goes into the making of a movie. And interesting that halfway point of filming the two Hobbit films is day 127, but halfway for the three Rings films was day 133. Is 3D filming more demanding, are they fitting a lot more into two films than they did previously into three?

December seems a long way away, but hopefully between now and then we will have  a few more of these blogs, and at least a couple of trailers. My guess is San Diego Comic Con for a big promotional push.

 

Marvel Pictures have released a new trailer for what promises to be this summers – if not every summer for the rest of time – biggest movie...

Along with the new trailer comes a new title, now called Marvel Avengers Assemble. This is shaping up to be a fantastic film, all the elements that have made the individual Iron Man, Thor, Captain America films a success are included, now with added Hulk.

And for anyone worried about the apparent Transformer-like machine seen chasing Iron Man at the end, this appears to be from comic-canon. There is speculation that it is Fin Fan Foom – a villain from the Iron Man comics – which is actually a disguised Midgard Serpent, a creature from Viking mythology, which would explain why it is there with Loki.

Looks to be an action packed film, just what is needed for a summer blockbuster.

 

Looking Forward To 2012

There is a lot to look forward to in 2012; it seems every year the range of genre on offer just gets stronger and stronger. So here is my list of what I’m looking forward to in the coming 12 months.

Books

The Wind Through The Keyhole by Stephen King – A new novel set during King’s Dark Tower sequence, said to cover events between Wizard And Glass and Wolves Of The Calla. I have some trepidation about this, for me the series went downhill after Wizard and lost its way. But King is still a fantastic writer and so this is on my list. Due out in April.

The Great North Road by Peter F Hamilton – A standalone epic set on a colony world. This is said to be Hamilton’s biggest book in a long while (an estimated 250,000+ words), and with it being nearly two years since Temporal Void it should be worth the wait. Comments he has made on his website hint that his next project is a return to the Void, with a new trilogy but set on a different planet and not including any previously seen characters. Due out in October.

Republic Of Thieves by Scott Lynch – The third title in The Gentlemen Bastard sequence. This book has been a long time coming – Red Seas Under Red Skies came out five years ago – due to Lynch’s health problems affecting his ability to write. At the end of the second book readers were left on a cliffhanger, with Locke Lamora having ingested a poison and the only antidote gone to the grave with its creator. Due out in October.

A Red Country by Joe Abercrombie – The third standalone set in the universe created with The First Law trilogy. According to posts on Abercrombie’s blog this novel will have the feel of the Old West, leading some commentators to speculate that this tale will be either set in the far south and feature Ferro – last seen at the end of Last Argument Of Kings demon possessed and bent on revenge against the Gurkish, or possibly set in the Old Empire with its frontier-like towns. No firm release date has been put out yet, Gollancz say late 2012.

The World Of Ice And Fire by George RR Martin, Elio Garcia and Linda Atonsson – Garcia and Atonsson run the popular Westeros.org website, and they have been working on this companion book the Martins A Song Of Ice And Fire series for some years. Martin himself has given a lot of input and time to this project; and the book is said to include extensive histories of the Seven Kingdoms, new maps – including a World Map, that may not include not yet seen regions around Asshai and the Jade Sea – and exclusive artwork by Ted Nasmith. Due out late 2012.

Dangerous Women edited by George RR Martin and Gardner Dozios – A new collection of short fantasy from some of the biggest names in the genre. Highlight for me will be the fourth Dunk & Egg story called The She-Wolves (or possibly The She-Wolves Of Winterfell), detailing Ser Duncan and Egg’s adventures in the Stark stronghold some eighty years before A Game Of Thrones. Due out late 2012.

 

TV

Supernatural S7 – The last half of season 7 started airing on January 6th in the US. The CW has ordered an additional episode making this season 23 episodes long. Whether the plan is to go out with a bang – there is as yet no news if there will be an 8th season – or they plan something extra special. This season has been a rough ride for fans, with the Winchester’s facing a threat that is seemingly unstoppable, the loss of Castiel and death of father-figure Bobby Singer.

The Walking Dead S2 – The second season is halfway through its run in the US and scheduled for Channel 5 in the UK during the summer. This was the breakout hit of 2011 with its premier breaking cable TV records.

Game of Thrones S2 – Due to be aired in April in the US – with a next day airing in the UK – the second season covers events in the second book of George RR Martin’s series, war has erupted in Westeros and five kings lay claim to the Iron Throne. Season 2 has an even bigger cast than the first and a lot more ground to cover for the writers in ten episodes. Highlight for me, episode nine called Blackwater written by Martin himself.

Downton Abbey S3 – Yes you’re reading that right, the third season of this brilliant period drama is scheduled for the autumn. Said to be set in the early 1920s – and said to be the last series as writer Julian Fellows only ever envisaged three – it will probably cover the slow demise of the aristocracy in England, and hopefully tie up what happens to Bates.

 

Films

John Carter – Pixar releases its first live action film. This is a lavish film version of Tarzan creators Edgar Rich Burroughs Barsoom books. The trailer looks great, with plenty of action and a heroic looking hero, stars Taylor Kitsch as John Carter. Due out in March.

Wrath Of The Titans – This sequel to Clash Of The Titans sees the hero Perseus embark on a quest to the underworld to rescue Zeus from his brother Hades. Sam Wothington stars as Perseus. Due out in March.

The Avengers – Joss Weadon writes and directs what must be the most ambitious project of the year. Bringing together the superhero team of Captain America, Thor, Iron Man, Hawkeye, Black Widow and the Hulk to do battle against Loki and an as yet un-known threat to Earth (though most people think it’s the Skrulls). Due out in May.

Snow White And The Huntsman – Based only on the trailer I’m giving this a go. It looks dark and moody, and has no singing animals. Due out in June.

Prometheus – Ridley Scott returns to the genre he defined with his Alien/not-Alien prequel. Due out in June.

The Dark Knight Rises – The third, and last, in Christopher Nolan’s re-booting of the Batman legend. Going on the trailer and teaser poster I’m hedging my bets that this will end with Bruce Wayne/Batman broken and in traction. Due out in July.

Expendables 2 – Stallone, Swarzenegger & Willis on screen together. What else does any red blooded man want? Due out in August.

The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey – This needs no introduction, Peter Jackson back where he belongs in Middle Earth. Gandalf, Elrond and Golem return for this tale of lost treasure, a dragon, a battle between five armies, Oh… and a ring. Due out in December.