All posts by Anthony Farrell

Pop culture addict and social commentator offering sarcasm and pointless musings on all things pop culture. From The Walking Dead to X-Men Comics and Vintage Action Figures it's all happening at Thepophub.com

How Wentworth Survived After Killing Its Queen Bea.

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It’s a risky move for a television show with such a staunch world wide fan base to kill off one of its main characters in an attempt to shake things up and introduce fresh blood and fresh stories yet oddly enough, despite the hark from fans claiming they’ll never watch again, the bold move usually works.  Homeland, House of Cards, Grey’s Anatomy, M*A*S*H and 24 are just some of success stories where killing off main cast have worked in their favor.

Wentworth, is the most recent entry into this world with the murder of main player Bea Smith (Danielle Cormack) at the end of the shows fourth season and questions quickly began to flit about how this show could survive without the driving force that Wentworth sprouted itself from.

The tour de force that was Bea Smith and the story around her propelled the show from a generic Prisoner remake into a modern day drama-come-love-story with an incredibly dedicated fan base, devastated their “Queen Bea” had been mercilessly slaughtered at the hands of series villain Joan “The Freak” Ferguson (Pamela Rabe) leaving her girlfriend Allie Novak (Kate Jenkinson) to pick up the pieces and exact her revenge.

This death, so surprising and utterly shocking, risked putting Wentworth fans off-side with the belief the show was supposed to be a telling of Bea’s entrance into prison and her rise to ‘top dog’ status and while, in point, we did get that tale, the killing off of a main character is still none the less a gusty move for any show.

What we didn’t notice however was the growing importance and build-up of the other characters within the show, each getting story lines that played quietly along the Bea Smith/Joan Ferguson/Allie Novak main story arc, all ready to take effect when the time was needed.

These stories involving Vera’s (Kate Atkinson) battle to maintain control of her governor position, Franky Doyle (Nicole da Silva) struggling to develop a healthy life outside of the Wentworth with girlfriend Bridget Westfall (Libby Tanner), the buddy buddy snitch snitch relationship between Sonia Stevens (Sigrid Thornton) and Liz Birdsworth (Celia Ireland) and current top dog Kaz Proctor (Tammy MacIntosh) feeling her grip loosen on her top dog status were all slowly bubbling along and came to flourish and hit the ground with both guns blazing when the time was right.

This move not only forced us to move on after Bea’s death but implemented a newer relationship with these characters on the back of strong writing and even stronger acting from the cast, allowing the show to thrive in a time of viewer devastation.  The fact that this death wasn’t used as a way to end an ugly love triangle or to move on a story arc that just wan’t working is even more testament to the writing on the show.

Bea’s death was personal but it was also a propeller, not just for the show but for each an every character within the world of Wentworth.  Killing off a Queen Bea can be dangerous but when done right, breathes new life into an already fascinating and intense show.

Wentworth continues Tuesday nights on Showcase and will see production begin this month on season six.

Where to Next for the Call of Duty Series. WWII and Beyond.

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The official announcement of the next installment in the Call Of Duty series has just been announced confirming the setting to be in World War 2 bringing the first person shooter series back to its ‘boots on ground’ origins (Call of Duty 2 from 2005) but this time with Sledgehammer Games (MW3 and Advanced Warfare) taking the reins.

Taking the series back to its beginnings, according to Activision CEO Eric Hirshberg (in an interview with Polygon.com) was a plan that was put into motion three years ago and was not based off the less than positive player response to 2016’s ultra futuristic based Infinite Warfare, noting back in 2014 when the decision was made, the player passion for the historical war setting.

With the high praise for Modern Warfare remastered, which came as an add-on to the Infinite Warfare release, it really is no surprise that Activision have decided to go back to what CoD players loved most from the series but there is that lingering worry of bringing back a classic while keeping it fresh and modern so as not to bring about that ‘seen it, played it’ feel that is always lurking when playing Modern Warfare Remastered.

While the game (MW Remastered) itself is a stellar moment within the series, (and one I am enjoying playing at the moment over the Infinite Warfare release) the remastered release of the 2007 issue showcases just how dated the game is when compared to more modern releases.  Developed by Raven Software, the remastered issue offered nothing really new to the original release with updated graphics, rendering, sounds and animations.  The inclusion of semi-customizable multiplayer characters (including female skins) were a nice touch along with the ‘depot’ which allowed players to spend their game earned tokens on mystery cases filled with player skins, weapon skins and calling cards and emblems.

The question now begs, with WWII the official setting for the next Call of Duty outing, do Activison have plans to continue down the route we’ve traveled down once before?

The series has delved into WWII numerous times with 2003’s Call of Duty, 2005’s Call of Duty 2, 2006’s Call of Duty 3 and 2008’s Call of Duty: World at War.  2010’s Call of Duty: Black Ops took place in the Cold War and partially within the Vietnam War while all other outings have focused on fictional modern era and futuristic warfare.

One setting that the franchise has never delved into (and one I personally would like to see) is gangland/urban warfare.  While Call of Duty is military based, there’s nothing stating the series couldn’t delve into this area without compromising their tactical themed game-play.  The gangland-and-or-urban warfare theme has featured within games such as Grand Theft Auto and the Saints Row series, but is yet to be given the first person shooter treatment that games like Call of Duty offers.

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Saints Row feature Gangland Warfare, a theme yet to be seen within the CoD Series.

Details about the multiplayer within CoD WWII are still sparse to none but it has been revealed that a ‘social space’ called Headquarters will see players, much like that in Destiny, all converge to show off gear and interact with each other before heading off into a match with Sledgehammers Chief Development Officer Michael Condrey confirming to me that character customization AND playable female soldiers will both feature in this next game.

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Call of Duty: World War II drops November 2nd with exclusive pre-order beta access for PS4 users (date to come).  Pre-orders now open either on line or in store with your local retailers.

Foxtel Brings X-Men Pop Up Channel for Easter

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In a first for Australia, Foxtel are bringing the entire X-Men movie catalog to its dedicated pop-up channel (channel 400) for fans to binge on X-Men goodness over the Easter break.

Starting from 6am on Good Friday with 2000’s X-Men, nine movies in total will screen back to back ending with 2016’s Deadpool on Monday April 17th.

From characters including Storm, Psylocke, Nightcrawler and Magneto, the mega movie franchise has raked in just shy of 5 billion dollars in wold wide ticket sales and doesn’t appear to be slowing down with the majorly anticipated Deadpool 2 due later this year and the next installment for the X-Men, which is due to be announced sometime soon.

From Foxtel’s press release, the run will see the following movies shown:

X-Men (2000)  Born into a world of prejudice are children who possess extraordinary powers under the tutelage of Professor X, the outcasts learn to harness their powers to protect mankind from the evil Magneto.

X-Men 2 (2003)  Following a shocking attack on the President, the X-Men must stand united with their deadliest enemies to combat a menace that threatens every mutant on the planet – and possibly all of mankind.

X-Men: The Last Stand (2006)  In this 3rd installment of the X-Men Trilogy a cure is found for mutancy, threatening to alter the course of history. Opposing viewpoints of the mutant leaders trigger the war to end all wars.

X-Men: First Class (2011)  Two young men discover their superhuman powers for the first time, working together in a desperate attempt to stop the Hellfire Club and a global nuclear war.

X-Men: Days of Future Past (2014)  When Sentinels created to hunt and kill mutants begin to target humans too, Wolverine is sent into the past to stop a war that will end with no victor.

X-Men: Apocalypse (2016)  The X-Men must battle the original and most powerful mutant – Apocalypse, when he is set free after being entombed for several millennia.

X-Men Origins: Wolverine (2009)  The story of Wolverine’s violent and romantic past, his complex relationship with Victor Creed, and the ominous Weapon X program.

The Wolverine (2013)  Out of his depth in an unknown world Wolverine faces his ultimate nemesis in a life-or-death battle, confronting not only lethal samurai steel, but also his struggle against his own immortality.

Deadpool (2016)  A former Special Forces operative turned mercenary is subjected to a rogue experiment that leaves him with accelerated healing powers, adopting the alter ego Deadpool.

 The franchise features a stellar lineup of Hollywood’s best actors across the nine films, including Halle Berry, Michael Fassbender, James Marsden, Ian McKellan, Jennifer Lawrence, Ryan Reynolds, Patrick Stewart, Olivia Munn and Australia’s own Hugh Jackman in his iconic role as ‘Wolverine’.

Oddly enough, the run of movies only seems to ‘sort of’ hit in chronological order versus release date order with 2009’s Wolverine Origins movie and the subsequent The Wolverine from 2013 showing after 2016’s Apocalypse film.

Home to a series of successful movie marathons (Harry Potter and Star Wars) Channel 400 is available to Foxtel Movies and Foxtel Platinum subscribers only.

The back-to-back binge starts Friday April 14th at 6am with X-Men on channel 400.

 

Toy Review: 2017 Black Label Wonder Woman Barbie

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Taking inspiration from the up-coming live action Wonder Woman movie starring Gal Gadot, Mattel are releasing three Black Label Barbie dolls based off three of the characters within the film.  Gal Gadot as Wonder Woman, Connie Nielsen as Queen Hippolyta and Robin Wright as Antiope.  The first of the three to be released is Gadot’s Wonder Woman, seen first here in Australia.

While Mattel are still yet to officially reveal any images of the trio, this 2017 black label release has already begun to hit selected stores in Australia.

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Thepophub.com has got your first in-hand look at this new doll but note, as I am not a de-boxer, this review will only take in-to account what can be seen without removing the doll from her plastic/cardboard prison!

Releasing as part of Barbie Loves Pop Culture series, this new doll features many similarites to that of the Batman Vs Superman: Dawn of Justice Wonder Woman barbie released last year (that was never released in Australia) with the articulated body, the dark rooted hair and Gal Gadot/Wonder Woman facial screening.

The box art is bright and colorful featuring the movies Wonder Woman logo with the outside of the plastic sheet surrounded by a printed gold lasso.  The back of the box showcases a promotional photo of Gadot as Wonder Woman with a short bio of the character.

The doll features shoulder, elbow and wrist articulation along with articulation in the knees – the feet remains unknown as I did not take of the boots.  One hand is molded in a clasping pose to hold her sword while the other is in a fist, so as to hold her shield.  The shield itself is held by the doll via two straps that link over Wonder Woman’s arm.

Wonder Woman’s outfit remains screen accurate with the bodice made out of light plastic in the red and blue signature look with a faux leather pteruges skirt with gold imprinted details.  The bodice and skirt are somewhat flimsy to the touch and I cannot confirm how these are attached to the body.  The faux fur and fabric cape is quite lush and ample in size and while the official description does state there is in-fact a hood, the final product has no such addition to the cloak.  This cloak is held closed by a single button and elastic loop combo with the elastic loop feeling strong and capable of holding with some decent play.

Other accessories include a gold plastic armband, silver plastic bracelets and gold plastic boots with red imprinted details and black elastic.  There’is also a brown faux-leather scabbard with gold plastic hardware, gold cord lasso which appears to be non-removable, gold plastic sword with silver imprinted blade, gunmetal silver plastic shield with gold imprinted details and black elastic bands, and a clear plastic doll stand with black plastic base that is not branded in any form.

The hair is styled in loose ringlets and is held with some form of setting gel leaving parts of the hair feeling dry and ‘crunchy’.

Pre-Order your case of all three dolls from Entertainment Earth here!

The facial screening and mold remains stunning just as it was with last years release.

 

This black label release comes with a certificate of authenticity and remains an non-numbered limited edition release.

Currently available in selected stores in Australia (David Jones and GoFigureCollectables.com.au as of writing this) Wonder Woman Black Label Movie doll is scheduled for a USA release in mid April – though Mattel’s site is stating May 2017.

Also, check out the first look at the Connie Nielsen as Queen Hippolyta black label Barbie below!

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Modern Warfare Remastered Shows Just How Far the Franchise Has Come

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Female soldier skins are a new addition to MW Remastered

As someone who stood steadfast in avoiding the most recent outing of Call of Duty due to it’s overtly futuristic spacey feel, the lure of an addition of the series fourth installment, Modern Warfare remastered, finally drew me in to nab the game (5 months after it’s release mind you). This updated flashback to one of Call of Duty’s more finer releases showcases just how far the series has come since its early days and just how dated this version really is when compared to where the series has gone.

While major improvements have been made to graphics and even the inclusion of semi-customizable soldiers – with female skins available too, Modern Warfare Remastered brings players back to a cumbersome grounding, taking away the speed and finesse that plays in more modern outings for the series.

Playing my first team death match game on the ‘Bog’ map, simple and instilled tasks of sliding, wall running and reloading while sprinting that we have all become accustomed to, do not exist.  Blasting yourself sky high and popping off a sniper shot or speeding yourself across the map to dodge a hail of bullets does not happen.  Instead, your’e left hurriedly scurrying to a safe spot, trying to scope out the enemy, hoping to make a mercy dash to your next location or out of the way of falling bombs.

Basically, MW Remastered neuters players who are neck deep in the futuristic COD game play style and brings them back to a place of beginner level and a lot of this can be attributed to two reasons – the maps with the game and the restricted load outs.

Unlike recent releases, the maps in MW Remastered were not designed for vertical run and gun play but instead, grounded gritty and strategic warfare.  In maps especially like Bog and Shipment (which are no bigger in size than say Nuketown), cover is very hard to come.  Strategy team death match play goes out the window and a battle for survival and attempts to build kill streaks take its place.  These maps force players to completely change their usual play style to that they would use in other COD games.

I for instance haven’t heavily used a sniper rifle since Call of Duty: Ghosts thanks to the introduction of boosts, wall running and the large amount of ‘Swiss cheese’ styled maps that just don’t allow for the comfortable use of those kinds of weapons.  Those fast paced games of modern COD games have crafted me into a run and gun player so falling back into long range paced play was a welcome but clumsy change.

The restricted load outs are also big change from the norm we’ve come to expect with players forced to use weapons with a single attachment, one tactical item and three perks.  A far cry from the 10 point load out system where a single weapon can yield 4 attachments that we’ve come to know.  It becomes frustrating deciding to chose between adding the silencer or ACOG scope to your weapon, both which drastically effect how you play the game.

All in all, releasing a much loved classic on the back of one of the least anticipated Call of Duty releases to date was a smart move by Activision but the stripped back classic game will provide a mixed bag of opinions, divide fans and more than likely push those invested in the more modern and accommodating releases back to what they know and love.  I however have begun to relish the old-school style of game-play, even with its major playing restrictions.

Call of Duty Modern Warfare Remastered is available now as part of the Infinite Warfare Legacy Edition release.

First Look at the Black Label Wonder Woman Movie Barbie Doll

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The first sneak peek look at one of the new Wonder Woman black label Barbie dolls, based off the up-coming movie, has been leaked the final product looks amazing!  With three new black label movie based dolls due for release, only a blurry image of Robin Wright’s Antiope has managed to make its way online leaving us wondering about Gal Gadot’s Wonder Woman and Connie Nielsens’ Hyppolyta releases.

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Prior this is leak, no images, previews or news had been released about these black label dolls – we just knew they were coming and now, a first look of the Wonder Woman black label Barbie has dropped showcasing the new doll with the wonderful Gal Gadot screening as used in the Batman Vs Superman but with the addition of the black woolen cloak Wonder Woman sports in the new movie.

Check out the two images below.

While some of the new movie based action dolls have begun to hit US Wallmart stores (We should expect to see them end of April here in Australia) there is no exact street date (April 4th has been floating around on some collector sites) and the rrp is around the US$50 mark.

Wentworth Season 5 – What We Know and What Could we Expect?

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We’re only a few short weeks away from finding out what the fallout is following Bea Smith’s (Danielle Cormack) death at the hands of former prison warden and current inmate Joan Ferguson (Pamela Rabe)  in the new season of Wentworth starting April 4th on Showcase.

While most of us are hoping for some miracle, it’s no secret that those involved with the show have been very vocal in letting us all know that Bea is in fact very dead and that Cormack is off perusing other projects. That said, the impact of Smith’s murder will play heavily into this upcoming fifth season affecting inmates and prison staff alike.

Foxtel have confirmed that contrary to earlier suggestions, there will be no time jump between the end of season four and the start of season five, with this new season picking up right after Bea’s death with the focus heavily on the theme of revenge as shown in various teaser promos released by Foxtel.

So what do we know so far about season five?  Kaz Proctor (Tammy McIntosh) cements her role as the new top dog within Wentworth but will her ‘no violence’ policy react negatively with the inmates when it comes to the punishment of Ferguson – especially with that of Allie Novak (Kate Jenkinson) whom unbeknownst to Ferguson, survived her lethal hot shot.

 

Liz Birdsworth (Celia Ireland) continues her top secret mission with  Don Kaplan (Steve Bastoni) to get Sonia Stevens (Sigrid Thornton) to confess her crimes though has Sonia cottoned on to what Liz is doing?

Boomer (Katrina Milosevic) continues to support Maxine (Socratis Otto) through her battle with breast cancer.

Franky (Nicole DaSilva) and Bridget’s (Libby Tanner) relationship outside the walls of Wentworth continue to go from strength to strength but will Bea’s murder push Franky to do something that will send her right back?

Jake Stewart (Bernard Curry) deals with the consequences of his actions with Ferguson that led to him murdering the key witness in Ferguson’s trial and the smuggling in of the drugs used to give Allie the not-so-lethal hot shot.  This begins to put stress on his relationship with Governor Vera Bennett (Kate Atkinson) who is still blind to his unlawful actions.

All will be revealed when the fifth season of Wentworth begins April 4th on Showcase.

 

Amy Schumer’s Leather Special Keeps with the Schumer we Know All Too Well.

AmySNetflix1When it comes to comedian Amy Schumer and her stand-up comedy shows, we pretty much know what we’re going to get.  Themes of self depreciation, sex, fat jokes and offering her own take on the vagina monologues are constant in Schumers work, so much so, when bursting onto the scene, she was applauded for delving into those ‘no-go’ topics.

Now a best selling author and big screen actress (Trainwreck and the upcoming Snatched with Goldie Hawn), the jokes and topics that found Amy stardom continue to pull her along the dark and vulgar path she’s traveled down many a time before.  In her most recent outing for Netflix titled Amy Schumer: The Leather Special, jokes about her feminine hygiene, copious amounts of alcohol and oral sex are once again present and feel somewhat ‘old-school’ Amy Schumer and by old-school, I mean the Amy we first met back in 2014 when Inside Amy Schumer began to gain traction for being a very on point and wickedly blunt comedic sketch show.

Schumer, as witnessed in The Leather Special, rarely strays away from topics that seem to hit with audiences and while topics such as double standard within Hollywood, female sexuality and empowerment and body insecurities are tackled, there’s an uneasy feeling of ‘heard this once before’ as these topics feel rehashed but with added vagina.

But all is not lost for Amy as among all the smut and vomit jokes, she manages to set aside her vagina for a moment and approach the hot topic of gun control, a subject close to Schumer after a gunman (in 2015) opened fire in a cinema showing her film Trainwreck in which two people were killed and nine other injured.

It’s a sidestep into the real world that will undoubtedly get people talking and divide audiences (the special briefly cuts to a small number of audience members walking out when gun control is mocked) but also one that she should visit a bit more often as sadly, this ‘raunch comedy’ that has become so synonymous with Schumer has me fearing that she may never get out of this sexual gag cycle.

Amy Schumer: The Leather Special is currently streaming on Netflix.

New Mattel Wonder Woman Line Coming to Australia

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The New York Toy Fair held earlier this year revealed some very cool new merchandise from Mattel to coincide with the new Wonder Woman solo movie which hits theaters in June.  From Wonder Woman action figures to dress-up action gear and movie themed articulated dolls, Mattel are going all out to ensure that Wonder Woman receives as much love as her male superhero counterparts.

With the Wonder Woman Black Label Barbie from the Batman Vs Superman movie not being released here in Australia (oddly enough, a version of the SDCC exclusive was available here in Australia via Toys R Us), there was some worry this new line may not make it to our shores.

See more photos of what’s to come at nerdyrottenscoundrel.com

As it turns out, we need not worry as Mattel have confirmed to me that Wonder Woman merchandise including those revealed at New York Toy Fair are expected to hit the market around mid April, and mega toy retailer Toys R Us have also confirmed to me that they will be stocking items including the Justice League 12″/30cm Wonder Woman figure, the Barbie Wonder Woman Collector Doll, the Wonder Woman Doll and Horse Set, Wonder Bow and the Wonder Woman assorted Fashion Doll range.

And for those interested in the DC Superhero Girl line, Mattel noted that new additions will hit the market “mid year, if not earlier”.

There is still no official word on pricing yet.

Exciting news for Wonder Woman fans!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sheryl Crow Returns to 90’s Roots with Ninth Studio Album ‘Be Myself’.

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After taking a side step from her pop roots to record the country themed “Feel Like Home”, singer Sheryl Crow is returning to what she knows and what she does best with her ninth studio album titled “Be Myself”.

Joining Jeff Trott and Tchad Blake with whom she collaborated with on hits including “My Favorite Mistake” and “Everyday Is a Winding Road“, Be Myself saw Crow, Trott and Blake fall back effortlessly into a flow that produced some of her biggest hits.

Check out Sheryl’s interview with Rolling Stone all about Be Myself.

Announced today, Be Myself hits April 21st 2017 with pre-orders starting today including through Sheryl’s official website where a limited edition CD and signed lithograph pack can be pre-ordered.

Check out the first single off the album, titled Halfway There below:

Be Myself drops April 21st in digital and CD formats and June 2nd on vinyl.