David Tennant and Michael Sheen with more Staged for BBC One

After a tremendous first series, it’s been announced there will be a series 2 of Staged. The new series sees the pair attempt to navigate their ‘new normal’ at home with their increasingly exasperated families whilst simultaneously trying to tackle the world of ‘virtual Hollywood’ and their ever more fragile egos.

Also returning for the new series are Georgia Tennant, Anna Lundberg and Lucy Eaton alongside Nina Sosanya and Simon Evans with a new addition to the regular cast Primetime Emmy-winner Ben Schwartz, playing the assistant to Michael and David’s agent.

Following on from the surprise appearances in series one of Judi Dench and Samuel L Jackson this series sees the regulars joined in their virtual hell by a whole host of unexpected guests.



Michael Sheen said: “It’s been so great to see how much people enjoyed the first series. Seemed like the laughs were much appreciated. It made us really excited about taking it further and going in some surprising and hopefully enjoyable directions this time.”

Georgia Tennant added: “The prospect of getting my husband back into employment alongside the divine Ben Schwartz and the hairy, Welsh legend that is Michael Sheen all makes me very happy to be back for series two!”

Created by Simon Evans and Phin Glynn, Staged is written and directed by Evans and is an Infinity Hill/GCB Films/No Mystery production for BBC One. It was commissioned by Charlotte Moore, BBC Chief Content Officer. The producers are Phin Glynn, Victor Glynn and Georgia Tennant. David Tennant and Michael Sheen are also executive producers of the series. Executive Producers for Infinity Hill are Axel Kuschevatzky and Cindy Teperman and for GCB, Geoff Iles.

Jared Leto returning as The Joker

Well, here’s something I didn’t see coming. THR has reported that Jared Leto will be reprising his role as The Joker for Zack Snyder’s Justice League. Leto is a part of the additional shooting that is being done, for the four-part HBO Max special.

It’s been 4 years since we last saw Leto in the role. The character didn’t appear at all in the theatrical release of Justice League and, only appeared as a caricature drawn by Margot Robbie’s Harley Quinn in Cathy Yan’s Birds of Prey. In that time, we’ve also seen Joaquin Phoenix bring his own Oscar-winning take on the iconic villain, in Todd Phillips’ Joker. How exactly Joker will be integrated into Snyder’s brand new cut of Justice League remains to be seen. However, fans are speculating that he’ll appear in a flashback scene involving the death of Jason Todd’s Robin.

Director Zack Snyder is currently shooting additional footage, with Ben Affleck, Ray Fisher, and Amber Heard. Henry Cavill has previously stated that he isn’t part of these re-shoots but fully supports the project.

It’s no secret that Leto’s incarnation as well as, Suicide Squad didn’t go down well with critics. But personally, I didn’t think Jared Leto was bad as The Joker. I just think he was badly used. I’m very interested to see what his role will be.

Review-Borat: subsequent Moviefilm: Delivery of Prodigious Bribe to American Regime for Make Benefit Once Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan

It’s difficult to believe it’s been 14 years since ‘Borat: Cultural Learnings of America for Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan’ took the world by storm. Things have changed a lot since those heady days of 2006, as Borat himself remarks “They’ve all gone calculator crazy” (obsessed with our phones).


When we first catch up with Kazakhstan’s fourth most famous celebrity, he’s doing hard labour in a gulag. After the release of the first film the country felt he had turned them into a laughing stock. It caused exports of potassium and, pubis to plummet. Borat became a pariah, with all but one of his kids despising him. Premier Nazarbayev offers him one last shot at redemption, he’ll receive a full pardon if he travels to America and gifts Johnny the monkey to Vice President Mike Pence.


So, how does a sequel mockumentary work when the entire world knows the character? Pretty spectacularly it turns out.
The film mostly follows the same plot structure as the first, they’re happy travelling together for a bit. Then they have a falling out, then they reunite.
For the most part, Sacha Baron Cohen plays Borat in disguise, the public stunts are mostly performed by his daughter, Tutar, played excellently by newcomer Maria Bakalova.




Cohen is a dedicated method actor and reportedly stayed in character for 5 days straight, whilst shooting this. That’s quite a commitment to the craft and it shows, he’s easily the Peter Sellers of our time.

What follows is a cutting satire of our modern-day lives, mixed with a really sweet Father/Daughter bonding narrative. Bakalova and Cohen are completely believable as family. It’s amazing what this humble Kazakh duo can get people to do. When Borat casually asks a store owner if a can of propane would gas 20 Gypsies, the store owner replies with “maybe the bigger one”. He also happily puts Tutar in a cage.
However, because Borat is in disguise so much, certain scenes can feel more like Cohen’s ‘who is America?’ than a straight up Borat sequel.


Like the first film, this gleefully basks in its very un-PC humour, but that is part of what makes it work so well. This is a serious work of social criticism, that also happens to be incredibly hilarious. Cohen and director Jason Woliner have made the unthinkable funny- which might just get us all revaluating how we think about racism, bigotry and sexism. Is it offensive? Yes. But if you are easily offended, don’t watch it. It’s only a film.

Exclusively on Amazon Prime Video on Friday, October 23, 2020




Mandip Gill stars in Five Dates

Wales Interactive and Good Gate Media have announced that FIVE DATES – a completely live-action, interactive rom-com film about the unpredictable world of digital dating will be released worldwide for digital download.

Entirely conceptualised, filmed and developed during lockdown – Vinny, a millennial from London, joins a dating app for the first time while living in lockdown during the coronavirus pandemic. With five potential female matches, Vinny explores whether compatibility, chemistry and connections are still possible in a world where a physical touch is no longer an option. He must pluck up the courage to video date with wildly different personalities.

The viewer’s choices will define Vinny’s interactions with each date and their interest in seeing him again. Vinny is faced with digital game dates, awkward scenarios and unexpected truths.

Five Dates is an exploration of the unpredictable modern dating experience. Through his journey, the decisions the viewer makes for him will challenge their own conceptions of attraction and compatibility. Throughout the game, your choices and your interactions will either strengthen or weaken your relationship with your date. The relationship scores are calculated from the start right through to the very end and will affect certain scenarios as well as having consequences in the concluding scenes.

Following Black Mirror’s ‘Bandersnatch’ and the award-winning The Complex written by Lynn Renee Maxcy (The Handmaid’s Tale)and by the same writer/director Paul Raschid, FIVE DATES is directed by visionary new talent Paul Raschid (The Complex, White Chamber) and stars Taheen Modak (Two Weeks To Live), Demmy Ladipo (The Last Tree, Enterprise), Mandip Gill (Doctor Who, Suspicion, The Flood), Georgia Hirst (Vikings, Ravers), Georgia Small, Marisa Abela (Lena Dunham’s Industry, Cobra) and Sinéad Harnett (UK singer/influencer).

The interactive film is highly unique in that it offers multi-optional storytelling with 10 different outcomes and a real-time Relationship Status Tracking that influences the story as you play.

  • Over 7 hours of filmed footage
  • Real-time Relationship Status Tracking that influences the story as you play
  • Multi-optional storytelling with 10 different outcomes

FIVE DATES is Produced by John Giwa-Amu (The Machine, The Silent Storm, The Party, The Complex) of Good Gate Media, Executive Produced by David Banner MBE and Richard Pring of Wales Interactive and shot by DoP Haridas Stewart (The Conversations, Dark Signal). The multi-award-winning video games company Wales Interactive is the technology developer and publisher of the interactive film.

Richard Pring, Executive Producer/Co-Founder, Wales Interactive said: “During these trying times, we are really excited to be collaborating with Good Gate Media to bring a modern British rom-com to PC and consoles. Building on our extensive experience of interactive movies and video game development, we’re proud to be introducing FMV to a brand-new genre! We’re once again using our WIST scripting tool, bringing choice-based mechanics alongside our signature relationship-tracking system — this coupled with a diverse cast and top talent in acting, promises to be a unique and exciting experience for all to enjoy.”

John Giwa-Amu of Good Gate Media said: “Five Dates is the world’s first live-action interactive rom-com aimed at Millennials and Gen-Z. The world needs a dose of warm and funny right now and we hope it’ll spark some new ideas for romance for those who play.”

FIVE DATES is released worldwide for digital download on Windows & Mac via Steam on 17 November and closely followed by PS4, Xbox One and Nintendo Switch.

Trailer-Borat:Subsequent moviefilm

Below is the trailer for the upcoming sequel to the 2006 hit, Borat: Cultural Learnings of America for Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan.

In the sequel, Borat again travels to America seeking redemption for the shame he brought Kazakhstan with the last film.

The sequel was shot in secret over the summer. Fans wondered what was happening, when Cohen was seen driving as Borat in June.

The original “Borat” was a box office smash in 2006, grossing over $260 million worldwide. Sacha Baron Cohen won the Golden Globe for Best Actor in a Motion Picture Comedy or Musical.

Film to Launch Globally on October 23rd Exclusively on Amazon Prime Video

Lion King 2 confirmed

After the success of the “live-action” Lion King remake, it’s no surprise that Disney is moving forward with a sequel. However, Jon Favreau is out and Barry Jenkins will take over directing duties.

Writer Jeff Nathanson is returning to pen the script.

Jenkins said:

“Helping my sister raise two young boys during the ’90s, I grew up with these characters. Having the opportunity to work with Disney on expanding this magnificent tale of friendship, love, and legacy while furthering my work chronicling the lives and souls of folk within the African diaspora is a dream come true.”

No plot details have been revealed yet, but according to Deadline, the “story will further explore the mythology of the characters, including Mufasa’s origin story. Moving the story forward while looking back conjures memories of The Godfather: Part II, set on the African plain with a continuation of the tradition of music that was a key part of the 1994 animated classic, the 2019 film, and the blockbuster Broadway stage transfer.”

Casting and release date have yet to be set.

Big Finish review-Torchwood: Ex Machina

Ianto Jones is Torchwood. Ianto Jones is the defender of a deserted city, a lone crusader who keeps the empty streets safe.

One day he meets one of the few survivors. She needs his help – because she’s being chased by a darkness. A darkness which says it loves her.


Ex Machina is the debut Torchwood story by writer, Alfie Shaw. Shaw says he came up with the idea, after passing a book shop he used to visit with an ex. He suddenly felt like the shop was off-limits to him. Along with mutual friends etc. That’s something that really resonated with me whilst listening.




This audio focuses on fan-favourite Ianto, as he tries to help Abigail, who can’t understand what’s happened to her parents. In every photograph, she’s impossibly alone. Even in the memory, she has of moving to Cardiff, it’s just her at 6-years-old in the car. Alone.
The only tether she has to her old life is her neighbour Mrs. Evans – and she has problems of her own.

Gareth David-Lloyd and Laura Aickman work extremely well together. This audio was recorded remotely and entirely during lockdown. It’s a testament to the actor’s abilities and Big Finish as a whole, that you’d never guess. Perhaps the remote recording helped the performers feel isolated, like their characters. Jacob Dudman also puts in a fun performance, as a completely unlikeable character.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, Torchwood on Big Finish is Torchwood at its very best. This is another top-notch entry in the range.

Cast:

Gareth David-Lloyd (Ianto Jones)

Laura Aikman (Abigail Forehill)

Jacob Dudman (Luke)

Misha Malcolm (Fran)

Joshua Manning (The Absence)

Kerry Joy Stewart (Mrs. Evans)

Cover Art: Lee Binding

Music: Blair Mowat and Murray Gold

Writer: Alfie Shaw



Nicholas Cage rumoured to play Superman in The Flash

The Flash is shaping up to be one hell of a film. Not only are Ben Affleck and Michael Keaton set to reprise their roles as Batman, but it’s also been rumoured that Christian Bale, Val Kilmer, and George Clooney are set to don the cowl again, to co-star alongside Ezra Miller’s Barry Allen.

FandomWire claims not only has Chris O’Donnell been approached to reprise his role as Robin, but Nicholas Cage has also been approached to play Superman, from the cancelled Tim Burton ‘Superman Lives’.

What’s interesting, is Warner Bros has stopped calling the film series ‘The DCEU’ and the TV stuff ‘The Arrowverse’. It’s all now just part of the ‘DC Multiverse’.



With everything that’s been rumoured about this film so far, I’d say that anything is possible. I’ve always wondered just how Cage would’ve played Kal-El, we got a slight glimpse in Jon Schnepp’s excellent documentary ‘The Death of Superman Lives: What happened?’. Cage even voiced the character in ‘Teen Titans Go to the movies’.

Even if all those actors didn’t want to appear, I’m sure they could repurpose some archive/unused/test footage to tell a compelling story.

Here’s what director Andy Muschietti had to say about the multiverse:

“This movie is a bit of a hinge in the sense that it presents a story that implies a unified universe where all the cinematic iterations that we’ve seen before are valid. It’s inclusive in the sense that it is saying all that you’ve seen exists, and everything that you will see exists, in the same unified multiverse.”



Review-Mulan

With the exception of The Jungle Book, I haven’t enjoyed any of the Disney live-action remakes. It’s not that I’ve thought any of them were terrible, it’s just that none of them hit me the same way. However, I was genuinely interested in Mulan. It’s packed, with a cast full of martial artists experts and on paper is arguably, the only Disney film that could really work as live-action.

This version of Mulan vastly deviates from the 1998 source material. There are no musical numbers and the romantic subplot, is nowhere to be seen. It also replaces the wisecracking dragon, Mushu, with a soaring phoenix whose presence beats you over the head, with obvious metaphors.



With a cast consisting mostly of Chinese actors, with costumes and sets so impeccably designed. It seemed like a sure-fire hit. The film does look genuinely beautiful in places, the blend of New Zealand and China’s locations is seamless. However, the film doesn’t really have a lot going for it. There’s some really dodgy CGI and green screen work and, as great as her performance is, Liu Yifei never convinces as a man. She’s recognisably a woman throughout, it’s difficult to suspend your disbelief when the film isn’t even pulling off its central promise.

The film has many promising parts but fails to bring them together in a satisfying way. The action set pieces, that should be spectacular are either bad or mediocre, which is a shame considering the film boasts a cast that includes Donnie Yen, Jet Li, Jason Scott Lee, and Gong Li. These are all actors renowned for their martial arts expertise. This could have been so good.

Mulan 2020 is just Mulan 1998, with the fun taken out. My advice would be to wait until it’s free to stream on Disney+.



Review: Ghosts series 2-The Grey Lady

In the first episode of the highly anticipated second series of Ghosts. Alison and Mike try to find new money-making ventures to fund the restoration of Button House.


When a photographer takes a photo of the property, for a potential wedding venue. He spots a blurry Lady Button (Martha Howe-Douglas) in the upstairs window. The photo of the house goes viral, with social media users dubbing her “the grey lady”. When paranormal fans from far and wide show up at the house, Mike spots a lucrative opportunity. He convinces Alison they should give people an authentic haunted house experience. Unfortunately, Julian (Simon Farnaby) has convinced the rest of the ghosts to go on strike.

Made by most of the creative minds behind Horrible History, Ghosts was a personal highlight of 2019. With so many comedies nowadays having a bleak edge, It’s refreshing to see a family-friendly comedy, that reminded me of the type of shows I watched with my parents as a kid.


An unspecified amount of time has passed since we were last with the residents of Button House. As soon as she wakes up in the morning, Alison checks the bathroom is clear of specters, so Mike can use it. She then attends to the Ghosts needs. She starts records, helps with crosswords, turns pages in books, opens laptops, and, times the Captain (Ben Willbond) running a lap, he feels he isn’t achieving his best. This was a great way to show the passage of time and just how comfortable the residents have gotten with each other. Mike even has a board, with photos and sketches of the ghosts. So he can picture who Alison is talking to.



Charlotte Ritchie and Kiell Smith-Bynoe have such great natural chemistry and remain totally believable as a kind-hearted couple, who are completely out of their depth. They also deal with the disbelief young home-owners experience, when they tell visitors they own the house.
The rest of the cast are all equally outstanding, everyone involved with this is at the very top of their game. There’s even a great guest turn from Colin Hoult, who never disappoints. My personal highlight was Pat (Jim Howick) and Thomas (Mathew Baynton) pretending to be 80s disc jockeys.

2020 has been a dark year for us all, it’s great to finally see some light.

Ghosts returns tonight at 8:30 pm on BBC One. With all episodes on iPlayer after that.

Stars Charlotte Ritchie, Kiell Smith-Bynoe, Mathew Baynton, Simon Farnaby, and others.