Ahh Christmas! That beautiful time of the year with the lights, and tinsel, and balls, decorations, gifts, family, friends and FUN! Now if you follow the website you will know that we LOVE theme parks, in particular Movie World on the Gold Coast is one of our favourite destinations. This year they turned up the decorative heat and delivered a dazzling light show with a heart stopping parade that captures the beauty of Christmas. Normally we go to theme parks for the rides and the thrills, White Christmas completely changes the atmosphere to an unforgettable experience. The vibe is family orientated and warm (no I am not referring to the blistering Queensland heat!) The rides you can jump on are Batwing, Superman Escape, Justice League : Alien Invasion, Scooby Doo Spooky Coaster and the brand new Doomsday Destroyer and DC Super Villains Unleashed precinct. All of these are unbelievably thrilling at night (particularly Superman Escape in complete darkness!) If rides aren’t your thing, there is still plenty to do! Decorate your own Christmas bauble. if you want to spend some extra money kids (sadly only kids!) can dress up as elves and be part of the parade. For the hardcore christmas nuts the North Pole Pass is definitely the way to go. It includes a christmas buffet dinner with Mrs.Claus before the event starts, gives you access to fast track for the rides for the whole evening so you avoid those pesky queues, a christmas goodie bag and exclusive VIP viewing area for the Christmas parade. The official opening and switching on of the lights is a grand event, the light show is worth the wait and the falling “snow” helps create an inviting and festive atmosphere. There is an “elfie” stand that is buzzing around social media #elfie (you know you want to do it!) as well as a fairy garden for family photos. If you want something really out there, the awkward family photo booth next to the main stage is definitely worth checking out. With oversized christmas sweaters, scarves, candy canes, hats and a hilarious set, the opportunities are endless. All in all White Christmas is a spectacular event, with something for everyone, the only real let down was the run time. The park opens at 5:30 and closes at 8:30pm. While I understand that this is a family event, maybe a 9:30 or 10 pm close time would have allowed more time to experience everything at a leisurely pace. Definitely stick around for the big parade, it is meticulously detailed and majestic. Movie World have pulled out all the stops for Christmas this year creating a memorable experience for young and old. If you haven’t bought tickets yet, you better hurry!
Only 25 Days to Go! Merry Christmas from Novastream
11 & 16-18 White Christmas runs Dec 9ast only at Movie World, Gold Co
Red Billabong remains one of our best reviewed movies of 2016 and after much deliberation we are very proud to announce that it stood out as Novastream’s Movie Of The Year 2016. We were fortunate enough to sit down with some of the people that made the film. Director Luke Sparke and Producer Carly Imrie. Congratulations to the cast and crew of Red Billabong for delivering a fantastic film and being Novastream’s Movie Of The Year! How did you come up with the creature in the outback. Now, I’m a concept for Red Billabong? ‘BIG’ fan of Thriller/Horror genre films, so I thought this was definitely Luke - I was looking for a way to something I could sink my teeth into. create my first feature on a small Luke, myself and his writers group budget but big impact. I’m a huge fan that he leans on for ideas/advice of 80’s and 90’s action films, so I knew just kept building on the story and I wanted some sort of film in that making our creature something that vein rather that a straight up Aussie we would like to see bought to life on drama. I looked to past mythologies the screen. here in Australia and remembered the legend of this creature, “Why Was it always planned as a movie? hasn’t this been explored more?” I thought. So, I went to work writing Luke - It was always a movie. But TV it around two brothers, this was in and streaming have come so far since 2007, and just kept developing the writing it, it’s really exciting times. idea, mythology and more. Carly - It was initially always a movie Carly - Luke told me back in 2013 concept and then we would go off the that he was developing a script success of the film to see where we around an Australian mythological could take it next.
The production quality is Hollywood level on this film - how did you make this happen and have it look as amazing as it did? Luke - Most of that credit goes to the producers and the excellent local crews. It also comes down to a lot of proper planning, storyboards, pre-visualization and knowing what you want vs what is achievable. There were a few sequences that were scripted bigger, but having a team around you that can tackle big ideas and help work them into something tangible for a particular budget is always a godsend. We shot this in 5 weeks, which is insane - I would have liked another few weeks, but I’m very happy with what we got.
Luke - An idea does exist for a continuation. Whether that is a film, or a TV series is being discussed right now. I really want to delve deeper into other Australian creatures, or myths. So, if there’s fans of Red Billabong or Australian mythological creatures, make some noise for a sequel! Carly- We are actually asked about a sequel a lot which is humbling that our fans would want to see more Red Billabong. Put it this way - we wouldn’t say no to a sequel, or possibly a TV series in the future.
WITH LUKE SPARKE AND CARLY IMRIE
Are there any discussions for a sequel or possibly continuation in a TV series for this?
Carly - Having a Writer/Director like Luke was amazing as I thought I was always a bit of a film buff he took it to another level to the point he inspired great ideas. So, we would sit down and watch ‘BIG’ budget Hollywood films and have conversations about ways we could make the same magic happen, but on a much lower budget. We shot it in some very picturesque locations which was not easy to find. We worked with some of the best crews available to us in a very tight shoot schedule, but I am proud of what we all accomplished in that time. It just comes down to being money smart and having the right conversations with the creatives on board to make it look larger than life on screen.
Luke - I’ve got about 5 projects, all very different from each other, that are floating around at the moment. We’re aiming to gear up on another one very soon. It will probably be another genre pic, but a different genre from RB. Stay Tuned! Carly - We have a few scripts in circulation and development at the moment so we will wait and see which one comes first - I can say that the next one may be another genre film with a very different big bad. Red Billabong is avaliable on BluRay, DVD and digital download from December 21st.
What’s your next project?
Australian films have seen a resurgence lately with great films like The Babadook and Wyrmwood : Road Of The Dead. The trailer and aggressive social media campaign for Red Billabong left my expectations high and as I was ushered into the cinema at the Gold Coast premiere event, the turn out and audience expectation was extremely high. Fortunately I was not disappointed, Red Billabong dares to draw on Aboriginal mythology with top notch production and plenty of jump scares that make this one of the freakiest and best movies of 2016. Red Billabong follows estranged brothers Tristan (Tim Pocock) and Nick (Dan Ewing) as they reunite at their old family farm in Queensland. They meet there after the death of their grandfather and need to decide what to do with the land. The brothers are approached by the uneasy Mr Richards (Felix Williamson) who wants to purchase the property, but after holding a party with their friends they get curious and believe there is something in the bush surrounding the house. A warning from Mr Garvey (Gregory J Fryer) who leads a band of Aboriginal supernatural fighters (and no I am not making this up!) leads to a supernatural mystery that will have everyone guessing right till the end. This film is the directorial debut for Luke Sparke and you wouldn’t know it. Every moment of this film has been planned and shot so carefully and beautifully. The Gold Coast landscape is breath taking and the talented cast are infectious to watch, this combined with the stunning and well crafted CGI creature is Hollywood quality and doesn’t leave you with any doubts that this is real. Go into this movie without knowing much about the plot as you can, this is how this movie is meant to be consumed and with plenty of nods to creature features like Jurassic Park and Aliens, this offers a unique and definite Australian spin on the classic 90’s monster creature feature. Adding in Aboriginal mythology and indigenous cast members is something that movie goers have been crying out for, and Billabong delivers this in such an original and interesting way, who wouldn’t want Mr Garvey and his band of Aboriginal fighters defending the bush against a myriad of monsters. The blend of indigenous mythology and creature feature is well crafted and spun into a movie that you can feel the love and care for this story but also for Australian cinema and the art of film making Red Billabong has surpassed all my expectations, seeing an Australian movie of high cinematic and production quality mixed with a great story and showcasing outstanding indigenous actors is not an easy feat for a CGI monster romper. Sparke and his crew have delivered one of the finest Australian films of the last few years and this deserves to be seen in cinemas. The movie is led successfully with outstanding performances by Ewing and the rest of the cast as they clearly love the source material.
In one of the more original Alien invasion films to grace the silver screen in some time, Arrival captures a different approach to the human reaction. It may come as a surprise to many that it’s not a “blow ‘em up and kill ‘em” movie. It shows a side of humanity that can actually make educated decisions and show our out-of-space friends, human kind aren’t a bad lot. But for those that are expecting a “blow ‘em up and kill ‘em” movie, they do try. The movie opens with a beautiful score, which happens to bookend the film and a montage of the tragic story of the death of the daughter to Linguist Louise Banks, played by Amy Adams. We meet Banks again as she gives her University lecturer on language when she is interrupted by her students as the invasion of the aliens come to Earth. Adams conveniently happens to be on the books for the US Army and is recruited by Colonel Weber played by Forest Whitaker once more to help communicate with the Aliens. Working alongside Banks is Physicist Ian Donnelly played by Jeremy Renner, they manage to win over the aliens trust and learn a whole lot about the Aliens or Heptapod’s nicknamed Abbott and Costello. Arrival is a beautiful look at language and how limited the human brain can be when it isn’t challenged or trained. Throughout the film there are incites to the English language from Bank’s daughters name, Hannah which is a palindrome. If you scroll the Internet long enough you will find other connections to the English language. Such as the shape of the spacecraft being that of a comma or hyphen. The film also has this beautiful connection to things that don’t have a start of finish, which happens to be the way the Heptapod’s write in their language.
Leading the story is Amy Adams who is maybe best known for her work in Batman v Superman, American Hustle, Her and Julie and Julia. Adams has come a long way in her career and you can see a great deal of strength in her ability since her earlier career which hasn’t gained a great deal of recognition. While Adams still has a long way to go this could be her year for an Oscar after having missed out the last 5 times. Adams plays a lost soul who finds direction in the Heptapod’s visit to Earth. She finds a way to hold a mostly blank face throughout the film that gives you a sense that there is always something else going on in the back of her mind. And it isn’t until the final scenes we realise that this is exactly what is going on. It is fair to say that while there is a long way for Adams to master her art, this is possibly her best performance so far. Alongside Adams is action man, Jeremy Renner known for his roles in Marvel’s Avengers films, American Hustle and the Born Legacy. While Renner is a bankable actor, he has mastered the art of being the action hero. Watching him play a nerdy Physicist doesn’t quite come across, as you would believe. Renner brings a slight comedy delivery to his lines which adds a nice touch to an otherwise serious and at times visually and scripted intensity.
Visually the film is spectacular, as most space-orientated films tend to be with the available technology to film. The spaceship, which the Heptapod’s are in, is nothing like what you have seen in alien films before. So much detail has gone into the creation of the aliens and their craft that there is no point you pull yourself out of the moment and think about it. The one moment that you do is when Amy Adam’s character is taken into the spacecraft and is bouncing around in a different gravity. She looks so Arrival is based on Ted Chiang’s book “Stories of Your Life unrealistic that you remember that it’s just a film you are and Others”. It took a number of years to adapt the book watching. and sell it to the studio before Director Denis Villeneuve came on board. Villeneuve’s previous directorial work Overall this is a beautiful and different take on an alien isn’t extensive to the main screen, his most popular invasion film. It challenges how this genre has to be work is Prisoners which starred Hugh Jackman and Jake perceived. If you can get your head around the subject Gyllenhaal and Sicario with Emily Blunt. Arrival doesn’t and take it all in, this film offers a lot in the way of social shy from Villeneuve’s typical style who gives you only commentary and the language lesson. It manages to show just enough information so you are on the quest the same a great deal of differences on how the advanced alien race as the main character which paves the way for the final and human race have come to live their lives and what twist at the ending. He also manages to demand emotion would be the better. In addition to the stunning visuals through the reality of his work, which in the most part is is the beautiful score which complements each other death or violence of some kind. In Arrival he manages to perfectly. And with only one explosion, it’s still a film for capture this with the death of Bank’s daughter Hannah everyone not just your “blow ‘em up and kill ‘em” fans. and the immediate connection to her.
Jason Cook on a sci-fi muscling into awards candidate season, starring superhero support systems Lois Lane and Hawkeye.
After the rampant success of Harry Potter, Iâ€™ll admit even I was surprised when Warner Bros announced a series based on the Fantastic Beasts companion book, trying to recapture the magic (pun definitely intended!) that made a whole generation fall in love with JK Rowlingâ€™s stories. Set in New York in the 1920â€™s is a completely different setting for the Potter-
verse and while remaining skeptical, I was quickly won over by the charming characters, well thought out story and of course fantastic beasts that light up the screen everytime they grace it. The setup is the same although instead of Muggles they are called Nomaj in the American magician term, their is a evil wizard rising to power and some unknown events happening
Alaisdair Leith on the Potter-less prequel starring Oscar winner Eddie Redmayne in New York City start occuring when Newt (Eddie Redmayne) steps foot from England into the city. Written by Rowling and directed by Harry Potter veteran David Yates, Fantastic Beasts centers around Newt Scamander (Eddie Redmayne) who when entering the city with zza briefcase full of fantasy creatures. When the briefcase is accidentally changed with that of a potential bakers, Newt must set out on a journey to retrieve the creatures that escaped from the briefcase. When he is seen by ex-auror Goldstein (Katherine Watson) she attempts to take them to the Ministry Of Magic USA and when her superiors don’t believe her, she takes them home so the non-maj can recover after being bit by one of the creatures. They are then introduced to Goldstein’s sister Queenie (Alison Sudol) a mind reader who has never met a non-maj becomes infatuated with Kowalski (Dan Fogler). The first half of the film hints at who the villains could be, there is a family of witch hunting preachers led by the terrifying Mary Lou Barebone (Samantha Morton) and is held up by her creepy adopted-son Credence (Ezra Miller). The head of the wizarding secret police Percival Graves (Colin Farrell) is more than meets the eye and then there is Henry Shaw Senior (Jon Voight) a non-maj media mogul who wields power in politics and the media. If that wasn’t enough there is a rogue Obscurus, a black haze that manifests itself when a child is forced to repress their wizardly powers. The cast work together perfectly, the main four work extremely well together and fell into their characters completely. Redmayne is perfect as the geeky and awkward lead who is not good with people, Fogler is the perfect counterpart as the thoroughly likeable Kowalski with his love of pastry and adventure. He also serves as the catalyst for the characters to explain everything going on around them that we don’t understand in the magic world. Watson and Sudol are perfect as sisters with different personalities, their chemistry with Newt and Kowalski provides some of the best parts of the film. Colin Farrell seems a bit lost in this film, his character flails around a bit and doesn’t really offer up much till the end of the film.
Special effects wise this film showcases just how far things have come since the Harry Potter series, the beasts and magical creatures are beautifully animated, and while there are a few blatantly obvious green screen moments, the majority of the film manages to whip up the wonder and excitement of its Potter predecessors. Speaking of creatures, I did like that the film was split up into two different storylines that intertwine at the end, one that serviced the purpose of this film well, and one that lays the groundwork for however many sequels WB feels they can milk out of this franchise and name. If the standard of the future films are anything like this one, then this is only a positive thing. I could barely wipe the smile off my face during this movie, it has some incredibly entertaining and humorous moments, while providing a story that is well thought out and inviting us back into the wizarding world in style. Credit needs to be given to JK Rowling who acknowledges that her Harry Potter audience are now adults and the film is really geared towards that audience (and receives a M15 rating notice appropriately) with a elf lounge cocktail bar scene, brutal and violent deaths and adult themes, Rowling openly shows her connection with her readers and provides an appropriate story for them. Overall Fantastic Beasts & Where To Find Them blew away my expectations for the movie and offered so much more than a simple cash in. It was funny and heartwarming and proved why it should exist and laid the groundwork for future installments and interest in this incredible world that Rowling has created. Yates does play it a little safe with Potter-style direction but I think he needed to here to secure the future of the series. Even though the series is set in a different time and country, it still has the charm that Harry Potter managed to have without compromising on the story. If you are at all hesitant like I was to see this film don’t be, it is so much better than any of those horrible trailers that were put out and will please even the most skeptical of Potter fans that this film and franchise deserve a place in our lives.
Thirty-five years after his breakout acting role in Gallipoli Mel Gibson, director of Braveheart and Passion of the Christ, tells the true story of a WWII soldier that refuses to fight.
Review by Jason Cook.
There was a lot riding on this film. Not only was it Mel Gibson’s big come back having not directed since Apocalypto some 10 years ago. Andrew Garfield hasn’t really been seen since he was fired from the Spiderman franchise. But most of all not only is this film a horribly gruesome war film, but it’s also a movie about religion. What you see is a film that speaks for itself. Gibson is an amazing Director with great vision. Garfield, though he may be a diva, has such a wonderful ability to capture emotion and take you on a ride with him. And the juxtaposition between war and religion works perfectly. Based on the true story of religious but ever so kind, Desmond Doss, played by Andrew Garfield (The Amazing Spider Man 1 and 2, The Social Network). After nearly killing his brother and suffering the backlash of an alcoholic father Desmond finds peace in God. After his brother decides to head to war, he follows suit feeling he owes it to his country. But as part of his religious beliefs, he wont touch a gun, his position within the Army is challenged. But with determination and with the love of his wife by his side, Desmond goes to war as a medic and ends up saving many of his fellow soldiers. As with most war films, finding a balance between back-story and action is hard to work. With Hacksaw Ridge, it gets to a point where you slip out of being immersed in the film and start to think when do we see some action. And at that very point, you are thrown into the brutal and gruesome actions scenes. There is no denying this film has a great religious line running throughout it, cleverly however you aren’t forced into it. Within the film Desmond doesn’t force his religion upon anyone, though by the end his fellow soldiers come to respect his decisions and allow for him to practice his belief. So much so it comes to a point where they don’t go into battle until he is ready. To balance out the religion the battle scenes are without doubt the most gruesome to have graced the screen in a long time.
managed to bring out what can only be imagined the true essence of Desmond Doss and his life, while also putting together a great and powerful battle at Hacksaw Ridge. The cast is full of recognisable faces, most of which are Australian. One of the few foreign actors is Andrew Garfield who plays Desmond Doss. While we haven’t seen Garfield on the big screen for a few years it is easy to see why he has done so well in Hollywood. Garfield truly holds his own in the film proving he is a bankable actor. He manages to capture not only the joy of finding love with his giant smile; he also manages to capture an almost pure stupidity in the decision not to have a gun to protect himself in battle. Vince Vaughn (Wedding Crashers, Dodgeball) plays the squad leader Sergeant Howell. It’s a perfect fit for Vaughn who adds a humorous quality to the film, but it’s also a great change to see Vaughn act and show he has a range that is further than just setting up jokes. Mind you, he does run rather funny though I’m sure that isn’t intentional. Hugo Weaving (Lord of the Rings, The Matrix) as Tom Doss, Desmond’s father, captures the brutal effect war can have on an individual and in addition how draining the dependency on alcohol can have. Along side is another Australian A-Lister Rachel Griffiths (Muriel’s Wedding, My Best Friends Wedding, Brothers and Sisters) who plays Desmond’s mother. For the most part of the cast they are all Australian and this is great for the industry. What happens though is you start to hear little slips in accents. And a number of times you catch yourself playing the game of pick the Australian or pick what Australian TV show they are from. When the film is about an American fighting for America having a mostly Australian cast doesn’t give it an authenticity that you would expect.
And while you see men getting dragged around after having their legs blown off, there is almost a poetry in the way the gun fires or the smoke slowly parts enough to see the enemy. Some of the scenes are so confronting, you find yourself looking away or holding your breath.
Director of Photography is Simon Duggan who brought to life The Great Gatsby and I, Robot. Duggan brought a world of hope and love through vibrant colours and beautiful landscapes then crossed it with the dark and empty horror that is a war ground. But what you don’t find in this war film is the back and forth of a firing gun, you look down on the firing gun and follow the bullet to the bloody mess at the end, almost poetically.
There are few Directors who can find the balance between the complexity and beauty of religion and belief and the complexity and horror of war. You can understand why Mel Gibson is the only person for the job after his efforts on Passion of the Christ. This is his first directorial effort in 10 years, the last being Apocolypto. Mind you Gibson had been approached numerous times before he officially signed on to direct. Gibson found a perfect blend of beauty in religion and beauty in war and how the struggle to identify with either is what drives Desmond to act so valorous. He
Overall this film was greatly executed with what can only be described as an outstanding cast and crew. But what makes it even better is this film is for the most part greatly accurate, it isn’t about blowing anyone’s trumpet like most American war movies do. This film is one mans story of how he stood up against the system and fought for his country that way he believed he should. And once the film has ended and before the lights come on, we meet the man himself Desmond Doss tell the stories exactly how the movie portrayed them.
The fourteenth chapter of the Marvel Cinematic Universe has already grossed over half a billion dollars.
More than iron Man on its opening weekend.
Thanura Rivanda on the new threat to Thanos
Marvel’s “Doctor Strange” directed by Scott Derrickson based upon the comics by Stan Lee and Steve Ditko centres upon Dr. Stephen Strange(Benedict Cumberbatch), a brilliant neurosurgeon who encounters an unfortunate car accident resulting in severe and unfortunate consequences for his hands. Strange then seeks spiritual help and training giving him the ability to perform magic as the titular hero. Along with Strange, we have Christine Palmer (Rachel McAdams), a fellow surgeon and a sort of linchpin to Strange’s normal life in New York City as well as Mordo (Chiwetel Ejiofor), a fellow magician with a strict set of principles and a student of the main mentor character the Ancient One (Tilda Swinton). The movie also stars Wong (Benedict Wong), a master of the mystic arts and protector of Kamar-Ta’s relics and books along with Kaecilus (Mads Mikelsen), the antagonist of the film who is described as a former student of the Ancient One turned evil. The supporting characters while minor, both ground Strange and provide a connection to his civilian life. Rachel McAdams as Christine Palmer gives decent back and forth banter characteristic to many Marvel movies. If I were to rank her character among the supporting characters of the movies, she wasn’t the worst but not the best, especially when compared to Captain America’s supporting characters. On the mystical side of the movie, Tilda Swinton as the Ancient One was satisfactory and her deadpan demeanour provided humour which contrasted with Strange’s skeptical nature initially. Benedict Wong’s character also provided humour that had the whole cinema laughing too. The clashing of two different worlds provided the humour in both instances. To go further into this would be spoiling it. The most interesting supporting character in my opinion would be Mordo played by Chiwetel Ejiofor. More on that later.First off, Benedict Cumberbatch’s performance of the titular character deserves praise. Cumberbatch is certainly no stranger to roles within the genres of action, fantasy and science fiction so it was no surprise that he could make a master magician work on film. He has made a character that was on the lower end of the totem pole of comic characters digestible for a newer audience following the similar beats in a number of previous solo movies. It will be interesting to see how this characters interacts with the larger Marvel Cinematic Universe and its characters down the line. The villain of the movie is Kaecilus played by Mads Mikelsen. Although like most Marvel villains in most Marvel solo outings, they did not get explored as much as some would have liked to, the consequences he leaves would provide an interesting outcome. What made Loki great as a villain was that he had more time to develop as a character having been in three films already with a fourth on the way. When it comes to Mordo’s character and his journey, we may see an eventual return to that, especially given that the comics have a precedence in that Mordo has been noted as a villain to Strange. As was promised by trailers, teasers and previous reviews, the visuals do deliver and are well worth the 3D ticket. They really do “expand your mind” and go to places doctor-strange-movieimage-galleryprevious Marvel movies have not really explored, whether it would be when cityscapes change reminiscent of Inception or otherwise. It’s also pleasing to see that the CGI used in the movie was used well when actors had scenes involving it compared to other comic book movies released this year. This especially rings true in a number of action scenes and the later acts within the film. For a while now, a number of Marvel movies did not really have a theme score for their character with Captain America and occasionally Thor. For the movie here, I found myself humming to the theme music Michael Giacchino made for the movie. It was very fitting and was true to the character and his mystical nature. I hope that Giacchino’s theme for Doctor Strange makes its was into other movies the character will appear in, be it Avengers: Infinity War or other sequels. As usual with Marvel movies, there are two after-credits scenes placed. Both of these teased sequels for Doctor Strange as well as the larger Marvel Cinematic Universe using an appearance that had the cinema cheering. Once again I’m interested to know what’s in store for these characters.
FIVE PROJECTS THAT
NEVER SAW THE
LIGHT OF DAY
In the superhero dominated world of pop culture it feels as if there’s only a matter of time before the Marvel Cinematic Universe becomes the only universe available to us as entertainment and eventually, when it becomes bored, develops its own literal universe and f#@ks off. With over thirtytwo thousand comics, forty-six films and at least two good TV shows (you decide) to the Marvel name it’s hard to imagine that any project with a whiff of Stan Lee’s moustache would die on its arse. Well imagine it peeps ‘cause it’s happened a load!
1. SINISTER SIX & VENOM
Back in the good ol’ days. No scratch that, back in the ol’ days when Sony still controlled Spidey there were plans to build a film franchise surrounding the villains of your friendly neighbourhood arachnid bloke with the catchy title, SINISTER SIX…and Venom. Two films were announced, no prizes for guessing that they were both Sinister Six and Venom. Venom being one of the more interesting Spider-Man villains (when not portrayed by Topher Grace) had potential, whereas Sinister Six was a bit too reminiscent of that squad that never delivered on their promise of suicide. The team was never announced but considering the end of The Amazing Spider-Man 2, it would be a safe bet that Green Goblin, Electro and Rhino would join the team. Post Disney/Sony deals and Civil War this project is yet to be cancelled with Sony remaining firm on the idea that it will one day make it to the screen. Either way, don’t expect to see Dane DeHaan, Jamie Foxx and Paul Giamatti talking about how much they hate Andrew Garfield anytime soon (unless it’s on Twitter).
2. EA���S FIGHTING GAME We can all sit down and have a big laugh about how Marvel is smashing DC in the box office at the moment but it’s more than fair to say that DC is throwing its weight around in the video game realm. Ok fair enough it’s mainly the Arkham series but don’t forget the Telltale Batman, Lego Batman, ALL THE BATMEN! But there is also that other slightly less but not entirely Batman free game, Injustice. Well just like any good superhero company would, Marvel tried to rip that off a few years ago.
Codenamed “Marvel”, this 3-D smash-emup was being developed by EA’s Chicago branch before they were shut down in 2007(ok so maybe it wasn’t a rip-off). Marvel was not as Mortal Kombaty as Injustice and utilised a third person perspective that would allow the characters to move around a larger environment. While the game looks a bit clunky in this early beta footage it still seems like a great idea and hopefully another studio one day gets the chance to work on a Marvel fighting game.
3. ARTISAN CINEMATIC UNIVERSE Before Micky Mouse started to morph into the Monopoly Man, Artisan Entertainment was planning a huge deal with Marvel to start their own empire of superhero films. In 2000 the two companies brokered a deal that gave Artisan Entertainment the rights to fifteen of Marvel’s characters. Thor, Captain America, Deadpool, Iron Fist and Black Panther were included in this deal along with a few lesser known characters including Longshot, Morbius the Living Vampire and Mort the Dead Teenager.
Who knows how Artisan planned on structuring these films and it’s hard to believe that Captain America would ever interact with a dead teenager. Perhaps that is why the plan to develop films, TV series and direct-to-video fell flat and the rights were not repurchased by Artisan. Although that’s not before they managed to hurl out films for The Punisher and Man-Thing.
4. FRANK MILLER’S DOCTOR STRANGE Frank Miller is one of the comic world’s most renowned artists, having created Sin City, 300 and one of the most famous Batman stories, The Dark Knight Returns. So Doctor Strange fans were pretty excited in 1981 when this was announced; “Watch for the new adventures of Earth’s Sorcerer Supreme - - as mystically conjured by Roger Stern and Frank Miller!” As it turns out Frank Miller’s really busy so he never done it. The End. Oh but he did managed to illustrate the cover for issue forty-six. But that’s it, he never did Doctor Strange with Roger Stern.
5. X-MEN ORIGINS MAGNETO Somewhere out there this exists an alternate reality where Michael Fassbender and blue Jennifer Lawrence never met, instead some attractive twenty-something went on to become a huge star off yet another disappointing X:Men film. In 2004 plans were being laid for a Magneto origin story to hit the big screen following X-Men Origins: Wolverine but alas they never came to fruition. Who’s fault was that? Hugh Jackman’s, well X-Men Origins: Wolverine to be fair but Jackman played a Hugh part in it. After the Wolverine origin story did worse than expected, Fox scrapped the plans and moved onto First Class. This one is quite a shame because the synopsis was honestly much more interesting that First Class. Set from 1939 to 1955, young Magneto struggles to survive in Auschwitz but is rescued during a liberation by the Americans. Among these American soldier is a young Charles Xavier who disagrees with Magneto’s lust for vengeance. If that hasn’t sold it for you then let me just say that the story was going to be told through a series of flashbacks narrated by Ian McKellan.
ARTICLE BY DANIEL PRIMAN
The third season of ‘Murder’ raises its game. Mark Halyday on bringing back the intiial spark and that twist. How To Get Away With Murder has always lived close to the edge. It’s part of the reason it’s so appealing. It constantly pushes its characters and plot to the edge of plausability. How could a team of law students get away with murder? How could their office get away with two, three or four? It takes some smart scripting to make it work.
back of a historic Emmy win there was no way in hell the series would let go of Viola Davis.
#UndertheSheet was infinately more interesting. A change of CEO at ABC put ‘Murder’ on trial and they needed a win. The abstract directorship on the show lends to some fantastic visuals and a truthfully heartbroken Annalise sobbing in front of her ruined And it does. Broadcast television is losing viewers in home was really powerful. droves because it refuses to take risks. Now ‘Murder’ isn’t a risk on paper. Produced by the same company As the episodes rolled on a cast member was revealed behind Grey’s Antatomy and Scandal, starring Oscar to be alive. First Oliver, then Bonnie, Laurel, Michaela, nominee Viola Davis and a slew of up-and-comers, Asher, Wes and Connor. The series is learning. Nobody and given a low-pressure MA15+ time slot. Yet still thought for a minute than Annalise or Wes were dead people were hesitant. so it was good to see them revealed before the night of the fire. The first season was so wonderfully crafted that there was no way the second season could compare. And in The only options left on the table were Nate and Frank. truth it didn’t. The first season finale painted the writers into a corner and the first chunk spent too much time Nate was involved in the earlier episodes of the series on exposition to compensate spinning the show in a and triggered Annalise to battle the raging alcoholism different direction. B-players Asher, Bonnie and Frank that was quickly consuming her. The series gets points got more meat on their plot and there were a whole for tackling a bleek issue with honesty. And by killing lot of Wes flashbacks but ultimately the mystery just him the series gets its desired ‘shock factor’ while still wasn’t there. getting the emotional payoff. #WhoShotAnnalise was a no-spark for two reasons. The other option was Frank. The series failed to conjure The culprit was certainly Wes - and it was - and on the an interesting villian in dues ex machina incest killer
Phillip last season and have returned to their main cast for this season’s villian. It lends the same introspection that made Sam such an engaging presence and plays with the same grey areas of morality. After a season of hype and justification the series could have buried Frank in a ditch and nobody - including golden boy Wes - would have batted an eye.
charity case she took on following a client’s suicide the same day as her miscarriage. It also reveals that while we know Wes’ life story from back to front we only know sparse details about the rest of the office.
Also excitingly is the narritive freedom this gives the writers. Similarly to Rebecca the plot kept naturally turning inward to Wes and his murder of Sam. Now the remaining cast members are only accessories to The easy way out is Frank and the more shocking murder - aside from Asher - and have more legal but ultimately less consequential choice is Nate. flexibility. Until next season’s big event. So when the series burnt off half of Wes’ face I was gobsmacked. As always a lot of questions are still on the table. Season three has outdone itself it seems as though Not a word usually printed in Novastream and not the rest of the series could write itself. Time for the a word generally attributed to broadcast television. writers to turn their attention to next year. Of the ten or so main characters up for the chop Wes was the least likely after Viola Davis. He was the plot Alfred Enoch will certainly work again. He’s very lightning rod and central to a lot of the relationships. likable and has a strong CV that includes BBC’s Sherlock and the original Harry Potter films. Murder How To Get Away With Murder grew some balls. has launched his star and a show like Chicago Fire or Last season there were no main cast deaths aside NCIS should pick him up quickly before he ends up from Rebecca in the premiere. The cast are so loved starring in the next Divergent-type franchise. by their fans - especially Annalise, Connor and Asher - that killing them was an impossibility. A show How To Get Away With Murder has infused new life that banks on suspense and intruige was quickly into an excellent premise very early into its run. A becoming stale. strength to make the right call rather than the easy call ensures it will be on our screens for many years Now the show has essentially rewritten itself. It yet. And that’s a very good thing. Just maybe not for is more focussed on Annalise and less about the it’s nervous actors.
Arrow is yet to hit its mid-season finale, but it’s clear to see that season five is going to be heads and shoulders above its previous season. Words by Brittany Howarth. Paving the way for its sibling shows, Arrow has had a winding track record. Season one started strong with The Hood bringing down the high and mighty; season two had The Vigilante battling with a very real ghost from his past; season three brought to question this hero’s identity; while season four followed The Green Arrow in what is currently the worse season across all CW’s superhero shows.
The original cast within this show still creates strong performances, especially Stephen Amell as he steps into a roll quite different than previous seasons. Both The Green Arrow and Oliver Queen have become someone else, something else. While hitting the streets, The Green Arrow is showing a new aggression toward the small-time criminals and taking his role from team leader to team mentor. The change in Oliver Queen is more upbeat than before. He’s still stubborn, but is This created a lot of doubt for season five. Yes, the quicker to listen to others. audience was finally blessed with Oliver Queen taking on the title of The Green Arrow. But the cost of an However, in listening to others he has gone against his unorganised season of Damian Darhk and magic made own sound judgement that I whole heartedly agree with. me question the validity of a fifth season. Oliver choses to listen to Felicity and reveal his identity to the recruits very early on, which is completely out And yet, the CW has somehow turned the show of character. Yes, Stephen Amell’s character is being around. shown in a new light, but revealing his identity so soon is reckless. The repercussions come as soon as episode With his old team disbanded, Oliver Queen struggles five. to balance his life as the Star City mayor and The Green Arrow. The only other remaining Team Arrow One fun moment so far has been the inclusion of Cody member, Felicity, urges Oliver to take in and train Rhodes, the professional wrestler Stardust. For those some new vigilantes. But as he trains his motley crew outside of the loop, last year Amell stepped into the of armature heroes, new villains start to plague his city. wrestling ring at Summer Slam after being “provoked”
by Stardust. The beat down lead to a couple of very entertaining fights, and now a cameo in season five, episode 3 of Arrow. The episode integration was a lot more seamless than Constantine’s cameo last season and created the opportunity for The Green Arrow to perform a very cool arrow-grapplepunch. Trick arrows and fight choreography have also improved dramatically from last season. There have been plenty of zip lines, tripping arrows, and an arrow that caught one recruit before he fell off a building! The improvement of these fight scenes might be due to the lack of magic this season. Not that there isn’t magic, but there is a limitation of it which allows The Green Arrow to really get his hands dirty.
Prometheus. I can’t help but anticipate Ragman being wrongly identified and hunted by the police. Along with Ragman, Team Arrow now plays home to Artemis (a season four anti-hero who dressed as Canary), Mister Terrific (Curtis Holt), and Wild Dog (think Casey Jones from TMNT). They each have started to fill the typical roles, with Curtis almost overplaying the comedic relief, but Artemis hasn’t grown passed the token female. Artemis, a.k.a. Evelyn Sharp, has taken a code name from a Young Justice original hero. The character from this show has a twisted past and is trying to turn over a new leaf, which is almost parallel to Arrow’s Artemis. However, I hope Arrow doesn’t take as long to develop her character as they did with Laurel Lance and Thea Queen.
But the other improvement would be the Green Arrow’s new recruits, vigilantes specifically training After leaving season four with little hope, season to work as a team. five has made me excited to see what Arrow brings to the CW universe. The ferocity that Green Arrow This new team is actually where the magic is. Quite now brings certainly differentiates itself from its literally. Introduced from a tragic event last season, sister shows, and the potential they have in the Ragman offers the team a power beyond what they new Team Arrow is very intriguing. There is a lot can achieve alone. This inclusion does sometimes riding on how they develop these new characters, make the team feel superfluous, as Ragman is especially because of how much time the audience uninjured from bullets and explosions, and has a has spent with the old team. But if the first episodes strength beyond a typical man. His costume also are anything to go by, Arrow’s audiences have a hell greatly resembles season five’s biggest bad guy, of a ride in front of them, and it looks good.
WHY SHOULD JOIN By Mark Halyday I know it sounds like crazytalk, but stay with me. This month I’ve taken a stroll down memory lane with the only Superman I can truly identify with. Yes, Christopher Reeve is an icon but his 70’s portrayl of truth, justice and the American way is dated because it was released nearly four decades ago. Henry Cavill is modern and big-budget but ultimately boorish and morbid. DC Films is polarising at best, in my opinion. DC TV is a hundred fold better. Berlanti and co have crafted a rich multiverse that rivals the mighty Marvel Cinematic Universe and even outshines it in some areas. Arrow, Flash, Legends of Tomorrow and Supergirl have told engaging stories in world-class fashion for hundreds of episodes on a far smaller budget than their cinematic counterparts. Looking back at Smallville it’s much of the same. Over two hundred episodes that got under the skin of the Superman lore with the added challenge of ‘no tights, no flights’. From Lana Lang to Lois Lane, the death of Jonathon Kent and the ascension of Lex and Lena Luthor - as well as intermittant but not overshadowing appearance from a host of DC’s best characters. But how could this work? There is already a Superman on ‘Supergirl’, and there was a Supergirl on ‘Smallville’. And a Green Arrow. And a Martian Manhunter.
Here’s the one thing DC has that Marvel has never grabbed with both hands: the Multiverse. In the comics the most significant example was the widespread acclaim of casting an inter-racial Spiderman. When the universes merged - as they regularly do - he was kept around. DC does this about once a decade. The most significant was Crisis on Infinite Earths in 1985 and it remains the golden standard. It arose after mass confusion from consumers that were trying to follow many character’s adventures from one series to another. Now imagine the Star Labs cortex. A breach appears and Cisco alerts the team. Barry swooshes in and Justin Hartley’s Green Arrow says he has been sent by Tom Welling’s Superman. Confused, Barry hops over and asks Tyler Hoechlin’s for the details. Oliver meets his doppleganger from Earth-Smallville. At the first episode’s close Tom Welling and Erica Durance appear. Lois and Iris investigate. Melissa Benoist’s Supergirl meets Tom Welling’s Superman. Tyler Hoechlin’s Superman is nonplussed. Earth-Smallville’s Supergirl - Laura Vandervoort, who has since portrayed Brainiac 8 on Supergirl - appears also. Two Supermans. Two Supergirls. Two Green Arrows. That’s the thing about Crisis. Dopplegangers everywhere.
This is DC’s premiere title. Bigger than Civil War and maybe even bigger than Batman V Superman. As a result a couple of big names are dead and buried.
At the end of the day - nomatter how you slice it - Supergirl is a tertiary character. An extension of the Superman story rather a journey in and of itself. The choice to spotlight her was the right call for this generation but it relies on the power of the Superman story.
Spoilers for a thirty-one year old comic ahead, but ultimately Supergirl and the Flash die. This works out perfectly for the heroes assembled on TV so far. The Superman story has been done perfectly once before on the same channel by the same production house. For casual viewers multiple versions of the characters Why not integrate the new shared universe and give the for seasons at a time can be jarring. As such, the special’s fanservice that makes this franchise - not the movies - a endpoint should be a Tom Welling/ Melissa Benoist billion dollar behemoth. partnership. It also solves one of Supergirl’s biggest issues - the distance of Superman. By sending Tyler Hoechlin Smallville sales spike for the first time in years. The and Laura Vandervoort out as matyrs it lends the network universe grows richer and one step closer to a fullya Superman worthy of the title that has an excuse not to formed TV Justice League. That’s the new endgame. Not rush to National City every time Kara has an issue. Crisis, but rather a massive Justice League spectacle. As for the Flash? Well we can’t kill Barry. If everyone is that committed to the idea we could substitute him for Wally or even Jay. But in the comics he eventually returns after a long siesta in the Speed Force - similar to the penultimate episode of season two.
Superman. Supergirl. Flash. The Green Arrow. The Atom. Vibe. Firestorm and the other Legends. And from the ashes of this mega-crossover births one of the most important figures in DC history. One of the most profitable comic books characters to ever hit television.
Finally the Green Arrow. Send him off into the sunset retired to live happily ever after. Bonus points if Allison The Batman. Not a series - as the substandard Gotham Mack or Smallville’s Black Canary cameos. would have a stranglehold on the rights and there is such a thing as overcrowding the audience. Rather a veteran When should this special occur? As soon as humanly TV actor that could slip in for these extravaganzas. possible - which is to say quite a while yet. While the newspaper pictured - from the Flash’s pilot - cites 2024 He would appear as sparingly as Tom Welling - perhaps the amount of abandonned timelines gives plenty of only at the yearly crossover. Each year a new face - the room to wiggle. much-hyped Green Lantern and eventually Aquaman and Wonder Woman. And Cyborg could slot so The Flash’s 100th episode is during 2018’s crossover organically into the plot of the Flash it’s dazzling it hasn’t special. This would be the opportune moment for Barry’s happened yet. TV forgets the power of the one off-special. big ‘sacrifice’ while the remaining shows Arrow and A Berlanti-produced Trinity special is the definition of Legends clean up the loose plot threads. event television. But why would they do this? Surely a more easily accessible Superman in Tyler Hoechlin would benefit Supergirl. Perhaps, but not enough.
It’s time to take stock and start simplifying these infinite Earths. Give the fans what they want and money will certainly flow.
NETFLIX HAVE DONE IT AGAIN! Eight years after the series finale Gilmore Girls makes a grand continuation on the streaming service to rapturous applause.
Alaisdair Leith on everyoneâ€™s guilty pleasure.
FULL DISCLOSURE: Up until earlier this year I had never experienced the magic of the Gilmore Girls. My fellow gay friends were shocked that I had never seen it and insisted that I immediately binge all seven seasons available on Netflix. I did this in the space of a couple of months and have discovered that my life has been enriched by the smart and clever writing combined with the typical small town tropes and intriguing characters that make this show what I am going to say is THE best written television show of all time. Putting my bias aside here is my review of the first two episodes of Gilmore Girls: A Year In The Life. From the opening monologue spoken by Lorelai Gilmore (Lauren Graham) complete with long winded phrases and pop.culture references, fans immediately will be drawn back into the charming town of Stars Hollow. It has been 9 long years since we last left the Gilmore Girls and in this first sequence in the new season it feels like nothing has changed.
tense and awkward moments help this season prove in two episodes why it was needed.
The lengthy flashback to Richard’s funeral and wake is hands down the best written twenty minutes of television. The gravity of the situation and the tension between Lorelai and Emily reaches boiling point and unresolved issues from their past are brought to light Netflix have successfully revamped the WB series with no buffer to intervene. It is well scripted, sharp with original screenwriter Amy Sherman-Palladino and brings out the best performances from Graham to bring four new 90 minute long specials to the and Bishop that the show has ever produced. streaming service and although the cast may look a little older, some skinnier, the razor sharp wit and t’s not all serious though, Stars Hollow is still littered classic characters are still intact in providing a fitting with colourful characters and they are not watered end to the series that left a lot of questions unanswered down this season. Kirk still has numerous startup in its surprise final season back in 2007. business ventures he is trying his hand at, Luke’s ever changing passwords at the diner, Taylor running The four episodes are broken down into seasons around trying to improve Stars Hollow is still as Winter, Spring, Summer and Fall. Each episode takes entertaining as ever, and with some fresh ideas up his you through a journey of the lives of Lorelai and Rory sleeve it helps balance the serious tone that this bold (Alexis Bledel) as they struggle with the death of the new direction takes. late great Richard Gilmore (Edward Herrmann) and how Emily Gilmore (Kelly Bishop) deals with her life Your favourite characters are all back. Miss Patty, after he is gone. To put it simply if you are already Lane, the town trubadore and Paris as well as some emotionally invested in these characters, bring a box impressive celebrity cameos and an expanded storyline of tissues (or several if you are a big girl like me!) for Michel (Yanic Truesdale) that a lot of fans have with some comfort food (the girls demand chinese of been asking for and will not be disappointed. course!) and red wine as required. Although time has passed since we first left Stars We join Lorelai and Rory in winter as they are at a Hollow, the move to Netflix boasts a more mature turning point in their lives. Lorelai has settled into life and deep approach to this world that has captured running the inn and being an empty nester, Rory is the hearts of so many around the world. The brilliant an accomplished freelance journalist with articles in writing and performances cannot be stressed enough, The New Yorker and The Atlantic and has reached a there are plenty of jaw dropping moments that peel point in her life where she is deciding exactly what back more layers on this characters. Even if you have it is she want’s to do. Lorelai and Emily are at a point never seen an episode of the Gilmore Girls before you in their life with Richard’s passing that the buffer that will easily fall in love with this world and an amazing stood between them is now removed and they are near 8 seasons of this show await you. Gilmore Girls : forced to reevaluate their relationship and the writers A Year In The Life is a triumph in television and in two unashamedly delve into that with some extremely episodes embodies the best made television of 2016. 4
Words by Aral Bereux Admittingly, this isn’t for the staunchest of Republicans, but the new Netflix series, The Crown, does have an alluring quality to it. Over the course of a week I sat myself down, expecting another tribute to dear old Queen Lizzie in a tone reserved only for the monarchists of pure heart. This, I thought, was aimed at the Crown loving audience who wished to partake in another nostalgic journey. And boy, was I wrong. The Crown has a lot to dish up. The series engaged in my inner historian as it accurately depicted events of the war down to the stutter of King George himself. Winston Churchill’s battle with his own ego – and political party – threaded its way throughout all ten episodes, crafting the fine detail that left me wanting for more. The brilliant performances by a cleverly picked cast complimented the research and writing that went into the scripting, and the wardrobe department was equally successful. Claire Foy’s part as Queen Elizabeth is admirable and resounding, right down to the way she cut through someone with her gaze as she politely disagreed with them. The world was believable without being over the top; enough that it sparked a small riot in my household between Republican and Monarchist alike.
The main plot is simple enough: Queen Elizabeth’s rise to the throne, perhaps unwillingly, after her father’s death. King Phillip is the protagonist that we all love to hate and hate to love, and in the end, we kind of feel sorry for everything he has had to put up with. The Queen’s sister, Princess Margaret (played by Vanessa Kirby) shines light on the difficulty of living in one’s shadow, and the abdication of their uncle leaves a bitter taste in your mouth. At the end of each episode, you’re grateful for your own dysfunctional family because in comparison to the royal family portrayed in The Crown, they’re actually not so bad to live with. But what truly enriches each episode, and the series as a whole, is the portrayal of Sir Winston Churchill, his role to the young Queen and his own personal demons. Played by talented actor John Lithgow, there’s a lingering sadness in each scene portrayed. An emptiness. For if Churchill isn’t Britain’s Prime Minister, then who is he? It’s a continuing question that the towering man asks himself through his body language, his ego, and in his suffering, bleeding through the television and into our living rooms. It’s the haunting question we all ask ourselves: Who are we? The ongoing psychological battles that hold each character on a chain, are the very reasons why this series is a winner. There’s nothing simple about State and Church, politics and its people. The dog eat dog world exists within Buckingham’s walls, and it’s with this that the audience is left wondering about what happens next, even though history has already spoken.
FULLER HOUSE SEASON 2 - 9TH DECEMBER FAUDA SEASON 1 - 2ND DECEMBER CLUB DE CUERVOS SEASON 2 - 9TH DECEMBER DIRK GENTLY’S HOLISTIC DETECTIVE AGENCY - 11TH DECEMBER NOBEL SEASON 1 - 13TH DECEMBER CRAZYHEAD SEASON 1 - 16TH DECEMBER NO SECOND CHANCE SEASON 1 - 16TH DECEMBER VAN HELSING SEASON 1 - 17TH DECEMBER TEN PERCENT SEASON 1 - 20TH DECEMBER TRAVELLERS SEASON 1 - 23RD DECEMBER CHASING CAMERON SEASON 1 - 27TH DECEMBER AJIN SEASON 2 - 28TH DECEMBER
SPECTRAL - 9TH DECEMBER BARRY - 16TH DECEMBER REGGIE WATTS: SPATIAL - 6TH DECEMBER RICARDO O’FARRILL: CHRISTMAS - 20TH DECEMBER
FULL LIST OF TITLES: NOVASTREAMNETWORK.COM.AU
__ NEW ADDITIONS
WESTWORLD SEASON 1 WENTWORTH SEASON 1-4 INSECURE SEASON 1 DICKENSIAN SEASON 1 JUST FOR LAUGHS AUSTRALIA SEASON 1-3 THE MUSKETEERS SEASON 1-3 HOME AND AWAY: REVENGE MARIAH’S WORLD SEASON 1 AUSTRALIAN BAKE OFF SEASON 1 AUSTRALIA’S NEXT TOP MODEL SEASON 10
MOVIES JUST ADDED
FULL LIST OF TITLES: NOVASTREAMNETWORK.COM.AU
with Matt Hewson Occasionally we play something that deserves your attention but probably doesn’t need a full review. Be it a DLC for the latest AAA title, a little indie game or even an Android/iOS title. We play these titles for a blockbusting amount of time (2-5 hours) and report back.
It seems these days that you can’t turn around without another remaster or re-release being shoved in your face. The quality of these remakes range from great to terrible and there seems to be a tidal wave of them hitting our consoles and PCs. It is hard to pay attention or care anymore about these old games getting a prettier coat of paint and a few extra details. But, when one of the biggest games of the last generation goes down the remake route people are bound to pay attention, regardless of remaster fatigue and Skyrim is just the game to do that. People have been calling for a Skyrim remaster since the PS4 and Xbox One were released so it is no surprise that Bethesda, seeing the chance for a quick cash injection, chose to heed those calls. The problem being with this remaster in particular is that there isn’t much that has been improved. That may sound harsh but when the game was so well loved upon original release about the only thing developers can improve on is the graphics. On console the improvement in textures, resolution and detail is immediately apparent. There are quite a few comparison videos out there so make sure you check them out if you are interested in the differences. For PC players however, it is a different story. The remake does little to improve how Skyrim looks on a high-end PC. Textures look a little sharper and there is a little more fine detail in the world but it isn’t a drastic improvement at all. When this upgrade is compared to the many mods out there that improve the look of Skyrim, well sadly it falls short. Thankfully though the remastered version is free for PC owners who already had the original version and all of its expansions. The new version also includes much better mod support so making the game look even better isn’t a chore. As for gameplay, this is the same Skyrim you played 50, 100, 400 hours of back in the day. The world and lore are wonderful, mission structure and story engaging and there is a huge amount of content for people to discover. Sadly the bad points from Skyrim have also returned with the wonky combat and fiddly menus seeming especially dated. The simple fact is though, in a world that has The Witcher 3 as a Fantasy RPG option, Skyrim doesn’t have the impact it once did. That isn’t to say it is a bad game, just that there is a superior option available to get your fantasy fix. This remake is really best for those that played it originally on a console and those that missed it all together. These are the people that will get the most out of discovering or rediscovering the world of Skyrim. However, it would be impossible to recommend for PC players if it weren’t for the fact it is free, due to the very minimal upgrades that don’t even surpass the free mods that are available. Skyrim Special Edition is a great version of a great game but it is hard not to feel like it could have been even better with a little more work.
I made no secret of my love for the original Titanfall. To me, it was exactly what I was looking for in an online shooter and it actually became the first game of its type that I put some serious hours into. The combination of exciting weaponry, amazing movement and the Pilot/ Titan gameplay mix spoke to me in a way that no other competitive FPS had done before. It had its problems and sadly the number of players online dropped off quickly but I still think it is one of the best experiences I have had on this generation of consoles. So to say that I was looking forward to Titanfall 2 would be an understatement, but the question is can the sequel fix the original’s problems and improve on the formula or are Respawn a one trick pony? The biggest change in the sequel is, without doubt, the single player campaign. Honestly, I held little hope for this mode, thinking it would simply be tacked on to get a tick on the back of the box. Boy, was I wrong. The campaign starts off much as you would expect with “Joe Grunt” earning his Titan after the previous pilot bit the dust. Thankfully though it quickly moves into unique territory thanks to the relationship that Cooper (the previously mentioned grunt) and BT (his Titan) enjoy There are some wonderful moments that these two main characters share and it felt to me that there was at least a little inspiration taken from the animation classic The Iron Giant. The story its self isn’t anything super exciting but the two leads more than make up this fact. There are doses of humor, tension and excitement peppered throughout the dialogue and the fact there are some simplistic conversation trees helped to add a personal touch to proceedings. The other massive selling point of the campaign mode is the spectacular level design. Every single level has been crafted to make the most of the excellent movement system that the game is built on. Dashing from wall-run to wall-run over a vast expanse of open sky, sliding under barriers to immediately be faced with enemies and pausing on a wall to line up the perfect headshot are all supremely entertaining and super satisfying. There is even one section that introduces a time travel mechanic which is truly inspired but I won’t say any more for fear of ruining the experience. When the story ended (about 6-7 hours I would say) I
wanted more. In fact, I would happily purchase single player DLC just to get some more of these well thought out levels. Another cool feature worth mentioning is the ability to swap BT’s Titan loadouts on the fly. This allowed me to bring the appropriate weapon to the fight and not be stuck with something that is unwieldy for the conditions. It is a system that shows Respawn have very carefully thought about how players will approach the game and gives them the freedom to do it in entertaining ways. While the Single player was a massive shock, the multiplayer was exactly what I expected and wanted from Titanfall 2. The multiplayer component brings a host of new modes, improved weapons, fancy gadgets and some fresh networking features into the mix, all of which will hopefully add to the game’s lifespan and address the primary shortfall of the original Titanfall. The classic gameplay modes from the first game are all here but the real delight is the new additions. Amped Hardpoint is a domination mode that mixes things up with one of the control points offering double points. This creates a chaotic push for this location causing spectacular Titan and pilot battles. My favourite however, was Bounty Hunt. This mix of Horde from Gears of War and Titanfall’s Attrition has captured almost all of my play time. The goal is to kill the AI controlled enemies that come in waves, each of these enemies earn a bounty which must be brought back to a central “bank” for collection. The catch is the other team of human-controlled pilots are trying to do the same and can steal half of your bounty by killing you. It is the most fun I have had in a competitive multiplayer mode in quite some time, I just hope the rest of the community feels the same way and doesn’t simply revert to playing Attrition all the time. The new gadgets are also a nice addition. There are flaming ninja stars that burst into a napalm-like substance, knives that act as a sonar point revealing hiding enemies, a grappling hook that allows for even faster traversal and gravity grenades the pull enemies towards them before exploding. There is a wonderful range of tactics that open up with these devices and all of them feel like they have a purpose and are not just tacked on. The weapon selection is also healthy with
Matt Hewson on the satisfying mega-sequel
a nice mix of more traditional SMGâ€™s and Shotguns to double barrel sniper rifles and laser powered LMGs. Once again all weapons are appropriate and well balanced, making for a fair and even playing field. Finally the Titans, arguably the stars of the show, have had a serious upgrade. Gone are the simple light/ medium/heavy classes of the original and in their place are six new, specialised classes that all approach the battlefield in a different way. There is a shotgunner that also carries a sword for massive melee damage, a flame throwing Titan that can use fire to hurt over a wide area and a Sniper class that excels in a long distance battle. All the Titans came with secondary attacks and a variant of a shield that I could swap in and out depending on how I wanted to play. In fact, the Titan loadout system is every bit as customisable as the pilot one, allowing me to truly tailor my experience to my playstyle.
other competitive shooter does and I canâ€™t wait to simply spend more time with it. The movement and multiplayer modes are better than ever and the single player mode was such a joy that I have started it again on the hardest difficulty. The only worry I have for the game is the fact that EA released it so close to Battlefield 1 and it looks like many will pass it over as a result. This is a crying shame because the two games are very different experiences and both deserve your full attention. Titanfall 2 is everything I could ever Honestly, I couldnâ€™t really find much to dislike want in a sequel to one of my favourite games and about Titanfall 2. It speaks to me in a way that no much more. Bravo Respawn. Bravo.
Ubisoft had a mega hit on their hands with the original Watch Dogs in 2014. It was one of the first big open world games on our shiny new consoles (PS4 and Xbox One) and with the promise of being able to hack and play, we were all excited for the promise of this game. Unfortunately the release was more than a little lacklustre with a lot of promises left unfulfilled and after barely making it through the single player campaign, I resigned myself to the fact that this game just sucked. The announcement of Watch Dogs 2 (and a lot less hype this time around) came around and none of my friends seemed keen to venture back into the hacking world, a lot of this due to the bland and boring character of Aiden Pearce, instead of continuing his story (or lack thereof!) they shifted the scenery to San Francisco and introduced us to a more personable hacker vigilante Marcus Holloway. Marcus is motivated by philosophy not by revenge and doesnâ€™t take himself too seriously (a million and one dad jokes ensue!) what he does offer is an endless amount of cool and style that is hard to pull off in a game like this. Together with his group of hackers Sitara, the female lead who is an artist, Horatio who is the quiet achiever who seems to have a strange and close connection to Marcus, Josh has aspergers and an extremely dry sense of humour The final team member is Wrench who is an expert builder and brings a lot of humour in situations when things get quite intense in the game. They seem to have reached a great balance of characters and personalities this time around and it helps maintain interest in the game. The hackers take on a group by the name of Blume Corporation who seem to have infiltrated everywhere in San Francisco, speaking of the city change is such a welcome and noticeable difference. The colouring and shading is bright and beautifully detailed (without the grid lock traffic!) The city feels vibrant and alive which is a much needed contrast from the first installment. The city extends beyond the centre to surrounding boroughâ€™s and beach areas too which offer a variety of colour and victims/characters to interact with.
Where this games shines is the single player story mode. The story revolves around this rag-tag group of hackers who take on the Blume Corporation who have taken control of the city. It sounds pretty straight forward but there is so much more that I don’t want to spoil but I can tell you it is an intricate tell with many twists and turns and some of the characters, in particular Dusan Nemec (the company’s chief technology officer) is hollywood blockbuster style stuff. It does sound like a story we have seen time and time again with a group of young people feeling powerless against “the man” but this empowering tale of using technology to go up against them, particularly in this time on our planet with things like Brexit, Trump and ISIS. While this may sound heavy it is not all serious, there is a very strong focus on technology and having some fun in the open world environment. You can fill a van with C4 and remotely hack it to drive into an enemy hotspot and remotely detonate for an impressive explosion. The hacking has been completely reinvented for this game so you can choose how you approach each mission and what devices you use. This is leaps and bounds ahead of the first game and serves as a “this is how it should have been” Gameplay wise apart from the open world and Ubisoft expectant side missions, there are also puzzles, infuriating, game stopping puzzles that will test not only your skill level as a gamer, but your patience as a human being. I don’t mind difficult puzzles but when you put a ridiculously low timer on them and interfering background noise it can be distracting at first and then infuriating when you are still trying to get past it half an hour later. There were too many of these roadblocks in my opinion and felt like it was just trying to offer up something different rather than do it well. My only other criticism of the game is the multiplayer, now this is effectively broken at launch (and still is!) so I will have to update this review when it actually works and I can get some decent time with it. Ubisoft promise that you players will be able to drop in on others games directly and assist with hacks so time will tell if this becomes a thing or doesn’t.
The WRap Up
Words by Alaisdair Leith
I went into this game expecting to hate it, after the negative experience with the first one it was admittedly hard to keep an open mind, but this game essentially won me over with a great and timely story, characters that I laughed with and at and enjoyed their banter. Shifting cities was definitely a step in the right direction and really brought the game to life with vibrant and engaging colour and the added beach areas kept that in good rotation as well. The improved gameplay and hacking mechanics help this move forward in the right direction and while it is not a massive step forward, it is a great one that should ensure the future of the series and possibly reignite rumours of the Watch Dog movie that were circulating for a while there. If you were excited for the original and felt let down, this game is well worth laying down your money for.
HARDWARE by Matt Hewson When someone mentions PAX most people immediately think about the indie games, tabletop gaming or exciting cosplay. There are so many exciting parts to the show that it is easy to forget that there is a very impressive Hardware contingent on display. The big tech makers from around the world all turn up with an eye to convincing the Australian public that their wares are the perfect gaming solution. I managed to get some good time with three of the big companies on display, Razer, Alienware and Hyper X and managed to get a good feel for what each company stands for and where their products are heading in the future.
A relative newcomer to the PC gaming scene, Hyper X made its name with high-quality RAM and SSDs. Using this as a base the brand has moved into keyboards and headsets. The keyboards lacked some of the bells and whistles that brands such as Razer touted but they made up for it with durable construction and a solid set of practical features. I got my typing fingers on their flagship keyboard and it was clear that this was something that had been engineered beautifully. Tactile response, well thought out features and comfortable positioning were evident from my time with it. The only problem I had with it was the fact that it felt a little small for my aforementioned monster hands but that is an issue that won’t affect 90% of the population. The next product line I took a look at was their range of headsets. The Cloud series is once again a solidly built, excellently designed range that places an emphasis on build quality and comfort. I have always felt that for comfort, the Steel Series range is the best available but these Hyper X Cloud models may just take the cake. The sound quality was exceptional as well so I really can’t recommend them enough. Even with their low priced model the Cloud Stinger (which I took home on the day and have been using since) comfort and sound quality is great. In my experience, you simply cannot get a better headset and mic for the measly price of $69. For a new company in the accessories market, Hyper X are making a statement that they can’t be ignored. Speaking with their staff let me get an idea of what is next for the company. They are taking a “one at a time” approach to their products. They entered the market with keyboards, then followed with headsets and next on the list is a mouse range. They stressed however that will only occur once they are satisfied with the product and won’t simply be rushing it to market because it is expected. I like this approach and as long as they can keep up the quality Hyper X has the potential to be a huge force in the market. In all my time with on the hardware side of the floor at PAX AUS gave me the impression that these manufacturers are all hell bent on creating high quality, long lasting products. It is clear that the days of gimmicks and flash are gone and in their place are accessories that can stand up to some serious abuse while still being comfortable and easy to use. I am delighted to see this happen and I hope it continues long into the future.
Alienware have built themselves a reputation for high-end, high-cost gaming rigs and that message was being driven home at the Alienware booth. It is clear the company philosophy of creating gaming systems that are ready outof-the-box to take on the toughest gaming challenges. Unfortunately, there weren’t many new products on display at the booth, just high-end PC’s and Laptops that the company had released over the past 12 months. But don’t let that mislead you though as these are exceptionally wellmade gaming rigs that are sure to meet even the toughest demands. I have always felt that the cost of these machines is a little excessive but there is something to be said for a gaming system that works without any of the usual fiddling/upgrading/building that is commonly associated with PC gaming and for many that convienience is worth the extra dollars. It seemed to me that Alienware wanted to push their Steam Machines a bit more but were at the mercy of Valve and couldn’t yet. They haven’t officially been released in Australia yet and that, I feel, hamstrung their booth this year. I am very interested to see what they have to offer in that space in the future though.
Razer is a company I have always had a lot of respect for. Their gear has always been of a high quality and over the years I have used a wide range of their products. At PAX AUS they quite a large display of all their current and future ranges, with everything from keyboards to high-end PCs on display. A big part of their booth was taken up with the new Razer gaming laptops. The Blade range has gained a reputation for high-quality gaming on the go and these new models seem to reinforce that. Perhaps the most interesting component for me is the Razer core, an external video card case that connects to Blade systems via USB-C to give them extra graphics grunt. The Core supports the latest cards from Nvidia and AMD and is upgradeable. I like the concept of this, as it allows gamers to have the best of both worlds. The portability of a Notebook and the bells and whistles of a high-end graphics card. As always Razer also had a range of high-end accessories and gadgets on display. Their ever dependable keyboards and mice are always a popular choice for serious gamers and the latest additions to these ranges seem to further enhance their reputation. The latest mouse in their collection, the Deathadder Elite, boasts the most accurate laser in any mouse on the market. How that translates into gaming for an everyday user I am not actually sure but the extra accuracy will surely come in handy for the elite gamers out there. The nice thing for me is that it fit wonderfully into my enormous hands, so I didn’t feel like a giant playing with a tiny little plastic toy. On the keyboard side of things, the highlight was the Ornata Chroma. This new keyboard is a combination of mechanical and membrane technologies and I must say the results are impressive. I don’t think I have ever used a keyboard that has felt so good to type on. As for gaming, I can only imagine that the new features like cushioned wrist rest and adjustable key heights are going to make long sessions that much more comfortable. The biggest draw of the Razer booth however, was the OSVR. This modular VR headset is still in its early stages as far as commercial users are concerned (Install software is still in beta, occasional crashes) but it is ready to go for developers and tech enthusiasts. The headset boasts full 1080p VR and being an open source platform it creates a sense of community among the developers. The exciting part of it all is that its price is very reasonable ($650 AUD) meaning that once it hits full commercial release it will be a very attractive option for PC VR. Add to this the fact that it is one of the most comfortable VR headsets I have used and that it supports the full range of Steam VR titles and this could be a potential VR winner for home users.