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STAR TREK: STRANGE NEW WORLDS | A Nostalgic Exploration

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Today the 22nd of June is certainly an important date for UK-based Trekkies as the highly-anticipated streaming service Paramount+  finally lands on our shores and with it comes the first three episodes of the latest iteration from the Star Trek universe, Strange New Worlds. A show that truly harkens back to the original ideology and themes of episodic exploration. This is the twelve TV show in the franchise’s history and the sixth one to arrive on the streaming service. After Discovery’s innovations and Picard’s personal mind-bending adventure, creators Akiva Goldsman, Alex Kurtzman, and Jenny Lumet have stroked gold as Star Trek: Strange New Worlds has perfect action, humour and heart. These are the founding principles of the show that Gene Roddenberry started, it’s a show that features a deeply personal story of the captain at its centre. 

Space, the final frontier. These are the voyagers of the Starship Enterprise. Its five-year mission is to explore strange new worlds, to seek out new life and new civilisations. To boldly go where no one has gone before. Before this review, I was lucky enough to see the first three episodes thanks to the Paramount+ team. 

Synopsis

Based on the year’s Captain Christopher Pike manned the helm of the U.S.S. Enterprise, Star Trek: Strange New Worlds follows Captain Pike (played by Anson Mount), Science Officer Spock (Ethan Peck) and Number One (Rebecca Romijn) in the decade before Captain Kirk boarded the U.S.S. Enterprise, as they explore new worlds around the galaxy. 

Review

It’s truly been a long time coming for Paramount+/Star Trek content in the UK as fans like myself are eager to see the new adventures of Pike, Spock and the Enterprise crew. With Picard’s both seasons, Lower Decks and Prodigy now on our screens it was only a matter of time before the Enterprise landed and successfully today is that day, so get ready to boldly go to uncharted territories. The self-titled premiere initially picks up with everyone we originally met on Discovery, and the series showcases where their stories have gone. Strange New Worlds introduces Pike as a man who’s haunted by his inevitably, as he’s foreseen his death ten years into the future, this is a key event in Star Trek lore, one that launches the career of Captain Kirk. This makes him very reluctant to return to space, but its Number One’s (Rebecca Romijn) disappearance on a mission that brings Pike and the Enterprise crew back to space, though slightly earlier than originally scheduled. This introduces us to the rest of the series’ main cast, which includes a mixture of new and familiar faces. 

Intergalactic Cast of Characters

Everyone will definitely know Spock and how his vulcan knowledge made him famous across the galaxy. Spock has had serval appearances in Star Trek from television and film. We as viewers gradually learn more about him and as Spock entered Star Trek: Discovery we learned that Michael Burnham was his adopted sister. 

Una Chin-Reilly might not be a name you may recognise, but Number One most certainly is. She is the second in command to Captain Pike and Strange New Worlds perfectly broadens her story.

There’s Nyota Uhura (Celia Rose Gooding) the show’s new take on the younger version of the iconic character portrayed by Nichelle Nichols. The character was a Lieutenant and Chief Communications Officer in the Original Star Trek series. Now in Strange New Worlds, she begins her Starfleet journey as a Cadet. She’s also an incredible linguistic prodigy who is deeply anxious and excited about all the adventures that await her. 

Dr M’ Benga (Babs Olusanmokunn) is a character who first appeared in the original series for only two episodes. He interned on Vulcan which is certainly good news for Spock. He’s running things in Sickbay alongside Nurse Christine Chapel (Jess Bush) who also worked for Dr McCoy in the original series. She demonstrates smartness and the ability to think outside the box to any solution. 

New Security Officer La’an Noonien-Singh is a character new to the franchise but also a character that has a familiar name and a dark history of her own. feisty helmsman Erica Ortegas (Melissa Navia) has the coolest job of all steering the Enterprise. Lastly, another new character in the franchise is Hemmer played by Bruce Horak, he’s an Aenar, which is a type of albino Andorian species. 

Set Phasers to Stun

Star Trek: Strange New Worlds does a phenomenal job of incorporating modern visual effects with the original materials, costumes, and gadgets. I love the 1960s influence which is nostalgic to the Original Series as the clunky hand-held devices are here such as the phasers, communicators, and tricorders, all are futuristic but certainly not dated. I also love the use of practical and visuals, technology is so advanced now that Strange New Worlds, as well as Discovery, use an AR wall to help create the alien worlds but also create virtual backdrops and sets for the U.S.S. Enterprise. Thanks to Pixomondo who utilise this technology through Unreal Engine. I’m also a big fan of the costuming as the Starfleet uniforms are simple, yet minimal and updates the classical look. 

Verdict

The first three episodes take time to build up moments for main cast and all the supporting players as the quality of writing in this show is outstanding. Strange New Worlds truly delivers a narrative-driven plot and can leave feeling like you on the edge of your Captains Chair. Nami Melumad’s score is otherworldly and ethereal which is beautifully connected to Jeff Russo’s epic main theme with Mount’s opening narration. The show is truly something special and will continue to be a joy to watch. 

The first three episodes of Star Trek: Strange New Worlds will be available to stream exclusively on Paramount+ UK from 22nd June 2022. Then expect new episodes weekly every Wednesday. 

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Streaming & TV

‘Knuckles’ Review | A Warrior’s Journey of Self-Discovery

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This review was made possible by advance screeners of all six episodes of Knuckles. All episodes of Knuckles release on Paramount+ on April 26 and April 27 in the UK.

Paramount+ has made a triumphant return to the Sonic the Hedgehog universe with their latest event series, “Knuckles,” celebrating the 30th anniversary of the beloved character this year after his first appearance in Sonic the Hedgehog 3 back in 1994. Knuckles the Echidna, portrayed brilliantly by Idris Elba, truly gets his time to shine in this six-episode streaming series that I thought truly delivers a fresh and captivating take on the iconic Sega character. Plus It’s only fitting that Paramount’s version of the character should get a chance in the spotlight, and boy do they deliver. 

This series stands out as one of the best interpretations of Knuckles we’ve seen thus far, capturing his stoic and proud nature while also infusing moments of comic relief. Throughout, the six episodes seamlessly weave an original narrative while simultaneously staying true to the essence of Sonic’s world, and the Paramount franchise offers a cohesive and visually striking continuation of the previous two Sonic movies. 

Paramount

The second installment of Sonic the Hedgehog found Knuckles (Idris Elba) choosing to remain on Earth and guard the master emerald. The Paramount+ series begins with Knuckles getting used to life in Green Hills and is ultimately tasked with mentoring the bumbling sheriff’s deputy Wade Whipple (Adam Pally). Knuckles takes on the role of a guide and leader as the series takes them both on a hilarious and action-packed road-trip journey of self-discovery as he agrees to train Wade (Adam Pally) as his protégé and teach him the ways of the Echidna warrior. The series takes place between the films Sonic The Hedgehog 2 and Sonic the Hedgehog 3. However, despite Knuckles being the title of the show, Wade Wipple plays a significant role, adding to the dynamic and charm of the storyline as a beloved character from the previous movies.

Paramount

Wade is on a journey from zero to hero in a tale of self-discovery. Whipple is an underdog in every sense of the word, and while he has a good heart, he’s significantly lacking in skills and self-confidence. The dynamic between him and the lovable Green Hills deputy Wade Whipple, portrayed by Adam Pally, adds depth and humour to the storytelling. Pally’s portrayal of Wade as an underdog on a journey of self-discovery brings a refreshing and endearing touch to the series, balancing the comedic elements with heartfelt character development.

While Sonic is cheerful and embraces Earth’s pop culture, Knuckles is a lot more dis-trusting and judgmental. Meanwhile, Wade’s pretty much a Sheriff’s deputy and fits none of the cop cliches. He’s nothing resembling a warrior, and he’s underestimated by every single person in his life. Knuckles and Wade are both remote in unique ways, and that’s the key to the series’ success. Both Pally and Elba are outstanding but as a result, Pally ends up stealing the show. By adding layers to the character and driving the narrative with humour and heart. The series is arguably more about Wade than it is about Knuckles, but Idris Elba does get some moments to shine another favourite of mine was Stockard Channing as Wade’s Mum, Wendy Whipple. 

Director Jeff Fowler expertly reintroduces familiar faces like Sonic, Tails, and Maddie Wachowski, grounding the series in its established universe while creators John Whittington and Toby Ascher explore new depths for Knuckles and Wade. The offbeat and unpredictable dynamic between the two leads sets the series apart, offering a fresh perspective on the Sonic universe that fans will appreciate.

Paramount

Idris Elba’s portrayal of Knuckles shines, showing a different side of the character. Ultimately, the incorporation of comedy, action, and heartwarming moments kept me engaged throughout the series. With warming themes on finding ones home, it is apparent that Knuckles is the last remaining member of his species, and from the beginning, it is evident that he holds the belief that “an echidna warrior has no home.” Therefore, it is expected that by the conclusion of the season, we will witness his transformation as he embraces a newfound sense of belonging. Whipple is instrumental in facilitating this change by providing Knuckles with the support of a loving family, complete with Stockard Channing, as I’ve mentioned being a standout in the role of his mother, who introduces him to the comforting embrace of their Jewish-American customs.

Paramount

We also witness the family and sibling dynamic, especially at the dinner table between Edi Patterson’s Wanda and Pally’s Wade, which is delightfully juvenile and petty. Though they both portray cops in this, she gets to one-up him a bit as an actual FBI agent, rubbing that in her brother’s face. The Whipple family, I found, brought further depth and entertainment to the series, enhancing the overall viewing experience. Episode three is a firm favourite.

However, hot on their tails are Agents Mason (Scott Mescudi, AKA Kid Cudi) and Willoughby (Ellie Taylor), who are in close pursuit, revealing the underlying tensions within the narrative. I found the Team Rocket-like dynamic of the G.U.N agents particularly engaging. However, I found some of the antagonists lacking in intrigue, especially when compared to the compelling portrayal of Jim Carrey as Doctor Robotnik in the previous films. The goals of these antagonists felt derivative, echoing a familiar yet diluted plot from the first Sonic the Hedgehog movie. The Knuckles trailer, featuring the iconic 1990s rap song “Knuck if You Buck,” showcased Rory McCann in a mysterious villain role. Known for his role as the Hound in Game of Thrones, McCann’s talent feels underutilised in this series. The character of The Buyer is disappointingly underdeveloped. However, Scott Mescudi (Kid Cudi) and Ellie Taylor deliver enjoyable performances as the antagonists, bringing a sense of fun and charisma to their roles. While their motivations are not deeply explored, their association with G.U.N. provides enough context for their menacing presence. Despite the lack of character development, the actors’ performances elevate the portrayal of these antagonists.

Paramount

As a fan of Sega’s iconic Hedgehog and the games I found that the series is enriched with thoughtfully placed Easter eggs and references, catering to fans like myself with a keen eye for detail. To my amazement, Knuckles undergoes a surprising transformation into a rock opera midway through, featuring spectacular needle drops and a soundtrack. The choice of the ’80s rock anthem ‘The Warrior’ by Scandal is a stroke of genius. It elevates the narrative and sets the tone for the action-packed adventure. The animated credit sequence features rewritable CDs organised in a binder, adds a unique touch to the overall presentation.

FINAL THOUGHTS

Overall, “Knuckles” masterfully incorporates humour, action, and heartfelt moments, providing a captivating portrayal of the beloved Sonic character. The series excels in storytelling, performances, and hidden gems, ushering in an exciting new chapter for the Sonic The Hedgehog Cinematic Universe and leaving audiences eagerly anticipating more. Adam Pally delivers a standout performance in the six episodes alongside Idris Elba’s Knuckles. This lighthearted and entertaining series strikes a perfect balance between adventure and emotion, making it a hit with families.

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Comic Book Movies

The Penguin | Official Teaser — HBO Max

Following the events of ‘The Batman,’ Oswald Cobblepot, aka The Penguin, makes a play to grab the reigns of the crime world in Gotham.

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Genre:

Crime, Drama, Fantasy

Release Date:

2024

Director:

Craig Zobel

Cast:

Colin Farrell, Cristin Milioti, Rhenzy Feliz

Plot Summary:

Following the events of ‘The Batman,’ Oswald Cobblepot, aka The Penguin, makes a play to grab the reigns of the crime world in Gotham.

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Action

‘Warrior ‘ Cancelled After Three Seasons

Netflix has acquired the rights to ‘Warrior’

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Ah Sahm (Andrew Koji) has fought his final fight over at MAX, as the beloved martial arts show, Warrior, has been cancelled after just three seasons. However, fans may be happy, and hopeful to learn that streaming giant, Netflix has recently acquired all rights to the three seasons of the show set to start streaming February 2024. Does this mean we could get a fourth season after all? Well as we’ve seen with previous shows like Cobra Kai, one of Netflix’s biggest successes’, if Warrior does become a successful addition to the Netflix catalogue, then a fourth season is all but guaranteed. But only time will tell.

Starting its journey on Cinemax for its first two seasons, before landing an temporary place on MAX for its recent third season, Warrior now finds its third home in four years. Its first season premiered in 2019 on Cinemax through to 2020 before the the network announced the cancellation of all original programming. A year later, in 2021, MAX announced a third season of the show which premiered this summer.

Still from Warrior (MAX)

Series creator Jonathon Tropper shared in an exclusive article from Deadline that “Warrior is a show that simply refuses to die. Through platform and regime changes, the writers, producers, cast, crew, and our stunt team continued to make something powerful, relevant, and wildly unique. And now, thanks to Netflix, we’ve been given yet another lease on life, and I’m thrilled for everyone involved that millions more viewers around the world will discover it”.

Based upon the writings of legendary martial artist Bruce Lee, Warrior follows Ah Sahm, a martial arts prodigy from China, who immigrates to San Francisco and a hatchet man for the most powerful Tong in all of China town.

For now though, Warrior is still available to stream on MAX

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