The New, Magic VENOM Has Been Revealed By Marvel

Eddie Brock and his Venom symbiote have parted ways in Marvel Comics, but with the War of The Realms event plunging the entire universe into battle, it’s time for a replacement. The question now is… whose side will Venom be on?

It should be a no-brainer, considering Venom left his villain days behind him years ago. But the last time Marvel readers saw Eddie the symbiote had left him for good, deciding it was better for his host to look after his son, Dylan Brock. We knew that the separation wasn’t going to be easy on Eddie… but in our exclusive preview of Venom #13, it becomes clear that he’s willing to do anything to be Venom again. Even if it means accepting a magic symbiote instead of an alien one.

RELATED: Marvel Just Killed Loki & Odin in ‘War of The Realms’

For those fans who may have missed the opening issues of War of The Realms, it’s no understatement to say Malekith, leader of the Dark Elves has unleashed the nightmares of the realms upon Earth. Fire Goblins, Frost Giants, avenging angels, and so much more. And as the heroes unite to form some kind of defense, it seems Eddie Brock is sought out. Not by the Avengers of Earth–but by Malekith’s own War Witches. A magical sorceress with an offer too good for Eddie to pass up: what weapon would he want more than anything in the world?

Fans can guess, but seeing the new version of Venom born of the Dark Elf magic is a sight to behold. Take a look at the preview pages below:

There’s a bit of poetry and, honestly, sadness to the confirmation that even his biological son can’t break Eddie’s connection to his symbiote “Other.” But it’s a need that Malekith obviously understands, sending his War Witch with an offer Brock can’t refuse. Of course this offer is not going to be made if it means bolstering the heroes’ side of the war, so let’s all hope that the dark magic symbiote isn’t too strong for Brock to master.

The cover images for War of The Realms and its many tie-in comics have used Venom in a starring role, which raised some suspicions once the symbiote and Eddie broke up. Now the presence of a Venom makes sense… but Marvel has yet to reveal where the symbiote itself has gone after leaving Eddie behind. If we were gambling, it seems safe to that bet it will have something to say about being replaced so easily. For everyone concerned, it’s worth hoping Eddie and his original symbiote are reunited sooner rather than later. This War of the Realms may be bad and all, but with Carnage hunting down every symbiote on Earth, and Venom’s new role as a Savage Avenger, the Marvel Universe need him to survive the coming battles (relatively) unscathed.

  • VENOM (2019) #13
  • Published: April 24th, 2019
  • Writer: Cullen Bunn
  • Art: Iban Coello
  • Cover: Ryan Stegman
  • WAR OF THE REALMS TIE-IN! The Marvel Comics event of the year makes landfall in the world of the wicked web-slinger as Venom gets swept up in Malekith’s campaign to take over the Ten Realms! But Malekith has designs for the sinister symbiote…and they may prove fatal!

Venom #13 will be available from your local comic book store on April 24th, or direct from Marvel Comics.

MORE: What Readers Need to Know About WAR OF THE REALMS

2019-04-18 05:04:47

Andrew Dyce

Magic Arena Adding 3D Cards In Next Update

Magic: The Gathering Arena will be implementing a unique new card animation in its next update, allowing players to acquire 3D versions of cards they already own. The new feature will be called “card styles” and will be introduced in Arena‘s next major update, following a long period of the beta remaining relatively unchanged outside of a few select quality-of-life changes.

Magic Arena is the central conceit of Magic‘s esports plan in 2019, and will soon feature as the platform of choice for Wizards of the Coast’s Mythic Invitational tournament. That event will award $1 million in prizes to its participants, and will be run using Magic Arena‘s best-of-one match style. While that has caused a bit of controversy, it’s also the easiest way to introduce a new audience to Magic, which is clearly part of the philosophy behind the creation of a tournament series that rewards dedicated streamers and interested celebrities with an opportunity to compete.

Related: New Magic: The Gathering Set Will Have Planeswalker In Every Pack

The March Update for Magic Arena will prioritize allowing new levels of customization to players that simply hasn’t been available in-game as of yet. The card styles update will be the most noticeable by far, introducing a new, 3D element to cards that will completely alter the way they look on a battlefield. Players will be able to shift the card around slightly while holding it, getting a glimpse into more of its art as they go. Check out the latest State of the Beta video to get a glimpse of card styles in action, which will be implemented when the update releases on March 27, 2019:

Some more details on card styles: once they’ve been unlocked, they’ll be unlocked for all cards, so they don’t need to be unlocked four times for the same card. They’ll be obtained through bundle deals, seasonal rewards, playing through daily or weekly quests, or through purchase in the deckbuilder. The latter one will probably be something of a sticking point for the community, especially since the price of card styles for mythic rare cards (the hardest to obtain and typically the most powerful) seems a little steep:

The March Update will also introduce another feature that’s been heavily requested by fans in the form of cardbacks. Called “sleeves” in Magic Arena, they function identically to Hearthstone‘s existing system that allows players to earn stylized cardbacks that they can then apply to the decks they play. It’s a nice way to separate visuals on-screen, too, and will likely make watching Arena events a bit more colorful than they already are.

The game is also totally revamping its progression system, featuring a very RPG-inspired layout that looks a lot like a skill tree. Players will be able to play and unlock rewards like gold, deck upgrades, and more while watching a much more satisfying visual representation of that progress. Arena will also add Huatli, Angrath, and the ten guild leaders from Ravnica for purchase as new, alternative avatars. Finally, the update will include a practice mode that lets players test against an AI opponent to hone any new deck ideas before venturing out into the game’s online multiplayer.

It’s a sizeable batch of updates in store for Magic Arena, then, but they’re all positives that makes the game feel much closer to an esport. Wizards of the Coast is still relatively new to the world of competitive online gaming – at least, the way it’s been structured by competitors – but updates like this seem like an indicator that acclimitization is moving well and quickly. We’ll see more evidence either way when the Mythic Invitational kicks off Thursday, March 28th at PAX East.

More: Magic: The Gathering’s New Challenger Decks Make Standard More Accessible

Source: Magic: The Gathering

2019-03-20 02:03:04

Cody Gravelle

Elaine Chase Interview: Magic Arena Jumps Into Esports

Vice President, Esports for Magic: The Gathering Elaine Chase is ready for Magic to kick the door down and enter the world of esports in a big way. After over twenty years spent working for Wizards of the Coast, Chase is a veteran of the gaming industry and has been integral in Magic’s growth into the dominant tabletop presence it is today. Now, her and the rest of the company have their eyes set on an even bigger prize: the lucrative and burgeoning esports scene, which was tagged to make upwards of $900 million in revenue in 2018 alone. That’s why Wizards of the Coast and Hasbro are launching Magic esports, an esports program that will infuse Magic: The Gathering Arena and paper Magic with an extra $10 million in prizes in 2019.

We spoke with Chase about the launch of Magic esports and the company’s lofty goals regarding Magic’s place within the online scene, and she revealed some exciting details about how the new program will dramatically alter the landscape of Magic – both in its digital and paper forms. With the esports industry growing at a rapid pace, Chase and Wizards of the Coast are finally ready to launch Magic: The Gathering into the future of competitive gaming.

Related: Hasbro and Wizards of the Coast Announce Magic esports

Obviously this announcement is a lot to unpack, so the first thing I wanted to ask was just, how long has the decision to launch Magic esports been in the works?

Elaine Chase: So, as you know Magic has been around for 25 years, we’re in our 25th anniversary, and we’ve been pioneers in a lot of different spaces over those 25 years right – we’re the first, and I think the best, TCG in the world, we were the first digital TCG when Magic Online released in 2002, we were the first competitive gaming with the Pro Tour when it launched in 1996 – but for us, coming out with MTG Arena as a new, modern digital platform, to be able to play the awesome game of Magic, is a perfect opportunity for us to expand on our legacy in competitive gaming and with Magic and really make a big splash and a big push into esports proper.

So it’s something that you’ve been planning for a number of years at this point?

Elaine Chase: Yeah, it’s really been baked into the entire strategy of MTG Arena. MTG Arena was built from the ground up to be just as much fun to stream and watch it as it is to play it, and it is going to  be that entry into esports for us.

How much of Hasbro and Wizards of the Coast’s stance on Magic: The Gathering and esports, and how much it is going to impact the future of Magic, has changed with the reception of Magic Arena?

Elaine Chase: We’re very much building a system that in 2019 has ten million dollars in prizes on the line across both MTG Arena and tabletop. We’re building the system to leverage our legacy that we have in tabletop competitive gaming and even amplify that as we build it side by side with the MTG Arena Esports program, so the two of them kind of intertwine and compliment each other.

Was it always the plan to split the prize pools for this evenly between paper and Arena, or did that change because Arena has become so popular so quickly?

Elaine Chase: It’s always been the plan for us to kind of look at both MTG Arena and tabletop as key pillars of the business. To be honest, one isn’t more important than the other, we want players to be able to play Magic when and where they want to play Magic, and we want to be able to support their choice either way.

Magic esports is described as allowing “all Magic players the opportunity to compete.” Are you referring to both casual and competitive players, and how will you get both those groups to compete?

Elaine Chase: Our program has two main pillars to it. One pillar is the formation of the Magic Pro League, which is us creating a new level of professional play, with a league that’s comprised of 32 of the highest ranked players from around the world. So those players are going to be kind of the core of what you see stories built around as the events unfold over the course of 2019. But those MPL players will be playing against challengers from the community who have a chance to qualify both in tabletop and in MTG Arena and to be able to play in those Mythic Championships and challenge those MPL players.

The 32 players are going to be a major part of this program. Is this a new step in player branding for Wizards?

Elaine Chase: Certainly! We want to be able to take our players who have proven themselves as the world’s greatest Magic players throughout our tabletop competitive scene and kind of help them with the transition into MTG Arena esports.

Quick question on the 32 as well – is there already a system built into place on how you’re going to determine the 32 initially

Elaine Chase: We’ll be talking about the player roster over the next couple of weeks.

Now with Arena being a major point of focus – and I know this has been asked several times before but maybe not in the context of Magic esports – where does Hasbro and Wizards see Magic: The Gathering Online fitting into this?

Elaine Chase: Magic Online offers a fundamentally different experience than MTG Arena. Magic Online continues to offer all of the cards throughout Magic’s robust history and lots of different formats in play that MTG Arena doesn’t focus on. MTG Arena is really focusing on the best fun way to play front list Magic and all the new cards that are coming out. So Magic Online will continue to exist and to support that kind of extended card list and format play.

That being said, Modern continues to be one of the most popular formats in Magic. Is there any kind of inclination or planning that might see that implemented in Magic Arena in the future?

Elaine Chase: Right now we’re focusing on getting the game through open beta and leading up to our wide launch and we’ll consider other kinds of formats and card sets and things like that in the future.

I know that there’s been a lot of discussion within the pro player community about how Magic can help its players out, how it can push esports further, and Magic kind of responded to that recently with the introduction of Pro Player Consultants. How much input did they have in the way Magic Pro League is being structured?

Elaine Chase: Significant. We’ve been working very closely with them, they’ve been giving us blunt and brutal and honest feedback as we’ve built the program, which has been wonderful. It’s really given us a pipeline into the players’ thoughts and minds and wishes and desires.

Is there any information yet on how Magic esports is going to affect things like the Pro Player Club?

Elaine Chase: Players in the MPL, and other players who are the challengers who are able to rise through the ranks and have good finishes in those Mythic Championships, will end up getting ranked based on their performances in those Mythic events, and the Pro Club itself will end up phasing out over 2019.

So the pros and challengers will be ranked by Mythic events – is there going to be a ranking system for the vast majority of Arena players [who might not play these events] as well?

Elaine Chase: Over the next couple weeks we’ll be talking more about MTG Arena ranking systems.

Arena is eventually going to have to deal with Standard rotation and players having cards that aren’t useable anymore. Are there any plans in place already on how Wizards is going to handle that?

Elaine Chase: Our intent for sure is to have Arena’s Standard plus format. We don’t have any details to share on exactly what that looks like but don’t worry, players will still be able to use all their cards that rotate out.

You said that there were a lot of changes coming for the Pro Players club. Does that mean there are a lot of changes coming for Grand Prix and Pro Tours as well?

Elaine Chase: The Grand Prix schedule for 2019 is going to remain exactly how it has been announced. It’s still a very critical part of our program and rewards 2 and a half million dollars in prizes alone by itself in its dozens of events that it has throughout the world. The Pro Tours themselves are actually going to be transitioning into Mythic Championships themselves. We’re making it different because we really want to separate out the professional Magic players in the MPL from the tournaments that are open to the public that can come in and challenge them. So we’re unifying all our flagship championship events under the banner of Mythic Championships whether they’re in tabletop or MTG Arena.

Will the World Championships still be separate from that banner?

Elaine Chase: The end of 2019, the capstone event is going to be a spectacular World Championship event, and we’ll have more to talk about [regarding] that as the year starts up.

Does this mean we’ll see less of the top professional players playing paper Magic?

Elaine Chase: All of the players in the MPL are also invited to all of the tabletop Mythic Championships so you’ll see them playing in both platforms.

Will the Mythic Championships that are online and the paper ones coincide in any way or are they separate from each other?

Elaine Chase: They’re separate events.

We’ve got this big outline for 2019 for Magic Arena, obviously there’s a lot that’s going on and that hasn’t been announced yet, but what does the next year look like? Where do we see Arena in five years?

Elaine Chase: MTG Arena is really going to move forward as becoming the best digital experience of the Magic trading card game as it can possibly be and that means figuring out what are the features and experiences and formats that players want that we can respond to most effectively. In terms of esports, our restructuring here of our entire program is really a long-term commitment to a comprehensive esports program – but I will say the one thing I know for sure is that we don’t know everything. Because with such a massive undertaking, and the introduction of something as big as MTG Arena esports, I’m sure there are things we’re going to learn this year and we’re going to want to adapt and be flexible as we move into 2020 and the future.

Are there any sponsorships lined up for the esports program? Is it entirely Wizards of the Coast and Hasbro?

Elaine Chase: We don’t have any sponsorships to announce at this time.

How much internal discussion and work is going into MTG Arena on mobile and Mac? Especially with the esports announcement, being accessible to be a big priority now.

Elaine Chase: Being accessible certainly is. As I said before though, we’re really focused on getting the PC version of MTG Arena up and running and the best it possibly can be to go to a wide launch and then we’ll start talking about other platforms after that.

Do you have any target windows for wide launch on MTG Arena yet?

Elaine Chase: Nothing to talk about at this time.

Are there any concerns right now that the overlap of Arena, Magic Online, and paper Magic is going to burn players out and maybe cause a bit of cannibalization in any of those areas?

Elaine Chase: Actually it’s the exact opposite. We find that when players can choose when and where to play Magic on their own schedule and in the way that makes the most sense to them they actually get more engaged and we see players who pick up Magic in a digital form start going into picking up physical cards and moving into Friday Night Magic and vice versa.

With the introduction of Magic esports, will we see Magic Arena at other online venues, things like Dreamhack – I know Magic’s already had a presence at some of those, are you looking to get Arena as a major competitor there too?

Elaine Chase: We don’t have anything to announce at this time, but I will say that both this and the sponsor question that you had before, we’ve definitely built our esports program to be something that’s attractive and lucrative for everyone from the pros to players and to partners, so nothing to announce now but we’ll see what happens.

Ok, so at the very least, player sponsorships are on the table.

Elaine Chase: Yep, correct.

Do you anticipate there being more Arena and paper Magic crossover the way we had Guilds of Ravnica prerelease kits give out digital codes for Magic: The Gathering Arena?

Elaine Chase: The digital codes in the prerelease kits were very popular and were very successful. So we’re going to be looking for ways to make sure that players are able to sample both platforms and figure out what makes the most sense for them.

Who does Wizards see, if anybody, as their competitors in esports right now?

Elaine Chase: Well, there’s a lot of competitors in esports. Esports has really grown over the last couple years especially, but we wanted to make sure that when we came into this space, we were able to come in in a very big and bold way and kind of reassert our dominance in the TCG space. Like I said before, we were the first, and I still believe the best, TCG out there and I expect nothing less from our esports presence.

Are there any plans to reach out to some of the pros who have kind of lapsed into other games but are still an online presence for Magic as well? Guys like Brian Kibler, Stan Cifka?

Elaine Chase: The first big kick-off event that we have at PAX East in March is going to be a million dollar prize pool invitational. The 32 players in the MPL are going to be participating in that, and then we’ll be talking about who else is invited to that elusive tournament as we get into January.

We’ve been talking about the formats a little bit on Magic Arena and what’s going on there. I know that the Streamer Events got introduced recently – what’s been the feedback from players so far on that?

Elaine Chase: The Streamer Events have been received super positively both from the streamers themselves and the players who get to participate in these cool, unique formats. We are really fully embracing our streamer community and trying to do everything we can to help amplify them and their love for MTG Arena.

Do you think in the future there’s a possibility we’re going to see events that are not necessarily streamers but are the pro players themselves as well?

Elaine Chase: It could be a possibility.

I was just curious – how much of the esports league and the Magic Pro League was influenced by the very vocal players over the past year in professional Magic, thinking specifically of Gerry Thompson’s protest of Worlds?

Elaine Chase: To be honest, we’ve been working on this esports program ever since we started working on MTG Arena. So this has been in the works for a very long time.

So no real influence there, just kind of business as usual?

Elaine Chase: Well, I mean we’re always trying to be responsive and listen to our players, and kind of understand where there friction points are and how we can make things better.

With these new Magic Pro League standings, or the 32 players involved, will there be more opportunities for these players to kind of jump into streaming with partnerships with Wizards?

Elaine Chase: Yeah, absolutely. In fact, the players in the MPL have been offered contracts that are both a combination of play and streaming contracts that are worth $75,000. So you’ll be able to follow all of your favourite pros and watch them stream.

Is that $75,000 annually for the contract?

Elaine Chase: For 2019.

Do you know how rotation of those 32 players is going to be handled, or is that something that’s going to come up later?

Elaine Chase: That’s something that’s going to come up later. As I said, we want to make sure that we’re being very flexible and ready to adapt as we learn, as we go through this year.

With the introduction of player contracts, is this kind of Wizards finally saying, being a professional Magic player is something you can do full time on your own?

Elaine Chase: Well this is us creating a new level of professional play and a way to give players a platform and a model to kind of build their own brand, build their own skills, to let them comfortably play Magic and build up their streaming presence at the same time.

Are there any plans in those contracts to have these players produce written content for Wizards as well?

Elaine Chase: Not at this time, although many of them on their own already have contracts with some of our biggest Magic strategy sites.

Are there any plans to introduce something like the Holiday Cube drafts that we see on Magic Online into Arena?

Elaine Chase: I don’t have any information to share on that.

How do you envision this Magic esports 2019 season impacting the future of Magic as a brand?

Elaine Chase: I very much see Magic esports being a thing that can help us introduce Magic, especially via MTG Arena, to a whole host of new players. Especially players who might play TCGs today but have never really tried Magic. Being able to have the content and the events that are broadcast out on Twitch and have our players out there streaming, I really see it as a way to get Magic in front of a whole new audience of potential players.

Will ChannelFireball be involved in these Mythic Championship events as well?

Elaine Chase: ChannelFireball is responsible for all the Grand Prix events, and as we’ve previously announced those tabletop Mythic Championships will be held at the MagicFests that they host.

So online is going to be handled separately then?

Elaine Chase: Yes, MTG Arena events will be handled separately.

Anything else you’d like to say?

Elaine Chase: We’re really looking forward to that $1 million dollar prize pool Invitational kick-off at PAX East, and the biggest thing I would say to people out there who want to get involved is to download MTG Arena and to start building up your skills and your reputation today and get ready. I hope to see you in game!

Thank you!

More: Magic Arena Gets Overdue Friend Challenges

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2018-12-07 01:12:10

Magic Arena Will Eventually Have A “Standard Plus” Format

Magic: The Gathering Arena is joining the esports scene in a huge way, but that hasn’t stopped Wizards of the Coast from looking into the future of Arena‘s constructed formats. In an interview with Screen Rant, Elaine Chase, Vice President of Esports at Wizards of the Coast, revealed that the company already plans to introduce a “Standard Plus” format to Arena when rotation is scheduled to happen for the cards currently implemented.

For those unfamiliar, Magic Arena follows the same principles as tabletop Magic in that new sets are released, introduced to the Standard format, and then stay around for a few years before they are eventually pushed out of the format by subsequent new releases. This is done to maintain a fresh environment, ensuring no deck remains dominant for too long, and to push new product – there would be little reason for players to invest in new cards if they already owned one of the best Standard decks available and didn’t need to switch every now and then. In tabletop Magic, however, there are non-rotating formats that let players use their older cards.

Related: Hasbro and Wizards of the Coast Announce Magic esports

Magic Arena has no such format, consisting of just Limited and Standard (alongside some one-off Streamer formats available for limited times), and the last time rotation happened, the game transitioned from closed beta to open beta and reset everyone’s card collections, avoiding the problem of players getting stuck with cards they can’t use. When asked about how Wizards will eventually address the issue of players investing resources into cards that will become unusable once they leave the Standard format, Chase delivered some exciting news:

“Our intent for sure is to have Arena‘s Standard Plus format. We don’t have any details to share on exactly what that looks like but don’t worry, players will still be able to use all their cards that rotate out.”

Right now, Standard is relatively small, being comprised of five sets after several just rotated this past fall. Furthermore, Wizards restructured the way rotation works mid-way through 2014, then again in 2017, causing some unintuitive rotations. The result is a Standard format that won’t see cards become unusable until sometime in Q4 of 2019.

With that said, the confirmation of Wizards of the Coast’s intent to have an extended Standard format – Standard Plus, it sounds like – is a massive one for people looking to invest in Magic Arena. One of the main drawbacks of the platform has been the fact that it is very condensed in terms of what formats it offers, accompanied by the other detriment of cards having a set time on them for being useful. While other online games have systems in place that let players get rid of extra cards to craft new ones, Arena‘s is different, so those cards would just sit there and collect virtual dust without something to do with them.

Related: Magic Esports Means The End of Pro Tours

If we are getting a new format eventually, too, tabletop Magic: The Gathering players will likely get to play it as well. Magic Arena is an incredibly popular game that has had over 100 million matches played in its first month of open beta, and if it introduces a new format, there will be plenty of online players who want to pick it up at their local game store or at other tournament settings as well.

There aren’t any details yet, but the future of Magic appears to be running directly through Magic Arena, and that includes a new format in the relatively near future.

More: 15 Magic: The Gathering Cards So Powerful They Should Have Been Banned

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2018-12-06 08:12:48

Hasbro and Wizards of the Coast Announce Magic esports

Magic: The Gathering Arena will be a major part of the esports scene in 2019, as parent company Hasbro and developer Wizards of the Coast teamed up during The Game Awards broadcast to announce Magic esports. Wizards of the Coast also announced that the company would be introducing a $10 million prize pool for 2019 alone across both Magic: The Gathering Arena and the tabletop version of the card game.

Magic: The Gathering Arena isn’t the first online adaptation of the world’s most popular trading card game, but it appears to be the most palpable iteration thus far. A combination of the game’s aesthetics, easy-to-follow gameplay and faithful recreation of Magic: The Gathering’s entire Standard format has revitalized the property’s online presence while also fuelling a resurgence in interest in Magic’s paper tournaments as well. As more Magic: The Gathering pro players transition to Arena, its becoming clear that Wizards of the Coast has finally found a way to translate the immense success of paper Magic into a significant online presence as well.

Related: Artifact Review: A Legit Card Game Contender

Magic esports is a game-changer in the same vein of Magic: The Gathering Arena. Magic esports will consist of a ten tournament series called Mythic Championships alongside partner-run events, and will include $5 million in prizes dedicated to Magic: The Gathering Arena and $5 million for traditional tabletop Magic. The fledgling esports program will begin in a big way with a $1 Million Invitational Mythic Championship that will take place at PAX East 2019 in Boston, Massachusetts.

Magic esports will also bring about major changes for a professional scene that had started to lag significantly behind competitors. Wizards of the Coast will introduce the Magic Pro League, which will include the 32 top ranked Magic: The Gathering players. Players who are in the Magic Pro League will be automatically qualified for each of the Mythic Championships, and, perhaps most significantly, will receive pro contracts that might make Magic: The Gathering a legitimate full-time job for the first time in its 25 year history. The pro contracts will be for $75,000 USD in 2019, an enormous leap from the support pro players have received in the past.

Some details – like how other plays can qualify for Mythic Championships – will be revealed later in 2019, and the full scope of Magic esports has yet to be fully demonstrated. What’s obvious, though, is that this is Hasbro and Wizards of the Coast making a significant investment into the future of Magic: The Gathering. With esports a greater presence in global culture now more than ever, and with other online card games making their presence known, now seems like one of the last chances Wizards had to act before risking bleeding players to potentially more lucrative properties. Magic: The Gathering Arena seems poised to make a run at one of the most important online games in 2019, and we’ll see how the player base reacts – and if it expands significantly – as the year carries on.

More: No Esports in Olympics Until Violence Removed

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2018-12-06 07:12:46

Magic esports Means The End of Pro Tours

Magic: The Gathering Arena is heralding a massive shift in the way competitive Magic will be played in 2019, and it will also spell the end of the game’s most iconic tournament series – the Pro Tours that showcase the game’s best professional players and brand new deck ideas. Wizards of the Coast Vice President of Esports Elaine Chase went on record in an interview with Screen Rant earlier this week to confirm the departure of Pro Tours from the competitive Magic: The Gathering scene.

Pro Tours have existed in Magic since 1996, and have been a fixture of the game’s competitive play since then. An invitation-only event that is usually held four times a year, the Pro Tour represented the highest stakes tournament series annually, outside of one-off events like the World Championships. For many Magic: The Gathering players, the dream of “making the Pro Tour” by winning a qualifier or placing highly at Magic’s Grand Prix events is at the core of their decision to play competitively.

Related: Hasbro and Wizards of the Coast Announce Magic esports

Pro Tours will be no more after Magic esports is fully implemented, but that doesn’t mean Magic won’t have similar tournaments – in fact, the competitive tournament series replacing Pro Tours will feature even more in prizes. In Screen Rant’s interview with Elaine Chase, she described how Wizards of the Coast sees the future of professional Magic after Pro Tours are gone:

“The Pro Tours themselves are actually going to be transitioning into Mythic Championships…we’re making it different because we really want to separate out the professional players in the MPL (Magic Pro League) from the tournaments that are open to the public that can come in and challenge them. So we’re unifying all our flagship championship events under the banner of Mythic Championships whether they’re in tabletop or MTG Arena.”

The Mythic Championships announced during the Magic esports reveal at The Game Awards 2018 will be the game’s new version of the Pro Tour, with an intent to showcase an elite class of pros across both tabletop and Magic Arena. The latter is an important fixture; previously, Pro Tours were kept distinctly separate from Magic’s previous online client, Magic: The Gathering Online. It is clear that Wizards of the Coast believes the future of Magic lies in a more balanced split between its premium digital offering in Magic Arena and its already established tabletop presence.

While the change is likely a net positive one – there are more prizes available in Mythic Championships, and using Magic Arena for some of them will help bring more eyeballs onto Wizards’ product – the transition is still bittersweet. There was a mystique about the Pro Tours that had been built up over decades of the tournament series existing, and it will not be one that is easily replaced. For many, the desire to end up playing a Pro Tour was what kept them going through the competitive grind’s ups and downs. While the Mythic Championships appear to be an upgrade, it may be a while before they build up the same legendary vibe that made Pro Tours so appealing.

More: Magic: The Gathering Arena Adding Direct Challenges & Streamer Events

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2018-12-06 07:12:02

Wonder Woman Does The Unthinkable To Save DC’s Magic

Warning: SPOILERS For Wonder Woman #56

The latest chapter of The Witching Hour crossover has seen Wonder Woman and her allies in Justice League Dark joining forces with her most powerful enemy – the sorceress Circe. Given Circe’s long-standing grudge against the Amazons and Diana, it would take extraordinary circumstances for her to put aside her legendary spite for a common goal.  Of course with magic itself dying in DC’s Universe, describing the current circumstances as “extraordinary” is putting things lightly.

Based on the character from Greek mythology, the DC Comics version of Circe first appeared in Wonder Woman #37 in 1949. The precise reasons for Circe’s hatred of The Amazons and Wonder Woman have changed several times over the years, but the most common reasons are that The Amazons were responsible for imprisoning Circe for her crimes against humanity and that a prophecy predicted that Circe’s doom would be brought about by the Amazon princess. Though she first appeared during the Golden Age of Comics, it was not until George Perez’s revamp of Wonder Woman in 1987 that Circe was redeveloped into a major player in Princess Diana’s Rogues’ Gallery. It is a position of dishonor she has held ever since.

Related: Wonder Woman Unlocks New Powers of Witchcraft

The first chapter of The Witching Hour revealed that Wonder Woman was a conduit for hereto unknown magic powers – the result of her having been branded as a child by followers of Hectate, the Ancient Greek goddess of Magic. With Zatanna having discovered the meaning of the magical brand, Justice League Dark was able to start seeking answers as to what was happening to Wonder Woman and why.

This led them to Aeaea – the island home of Circe, according to The Odyssey. It was hoped that Circe, who drew her powers from a connection to Hectate, might know something of what was going on and be willing to bargain for that knowledge.

Though she was hostile at first, Circe was mollified the moment she saw what she called “the witchmark” on Diana’s forehead. Circe went on to explain the history of Hectate and how she was truly a power far older than the Olympian gods. The first wizards tried to tap Hectate’s power for their own uses unsuccessfully, caging a far more evil source of power that would come to slowly infect the world, and Hectate herself, with darkness.

This led Hectate to take the majority of her power and split it among five mortal vessels, The Witchmarked, who would hold Hectate’s pure and unsullied essence until a time when the magic of the rising darkness had begun to fade. Then Hectate would reclaim her power to defeat it, once and for all. As each of The Witchmarked died, the followers of Hectate would find another woman to hold Hectate’s power, passing her energy down from generation to generation.

The problem, Circe reveals, is that the passing years have corrupted Hectate’s mind and she is now a being born of spite and hatred rather than love and light and it was that desire for revenge that made Circe into a perfect avatar for Hectate’s power. The practical upshot is that while Hectate may be capable of fighting the rising darkness, she will forever destroy magic as it is known on Earth, with no magical power but her’s existing. This leaves Justice League Dark with few good options, as Wonder Woman seems doomed to die no matter what and the best option involves all magic being under the control of a single vengeful goddess. Of course all this assumes that Circe is telling the truth and this isn’t part of her own plan for revenge on Diana.

Wonder Woman #56 is now available from DC Comics.

More: Say Goodbye To Magic in DC’s Comic Universe

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2018-10-11 01:10:54 – Matt Morrison

Harry Potter: 20 Crazy Details Only True Potterheads Knew About Wormtail

For a lot of reasons, Peter Pettigrew, AKA “Wormtail”, may be one of the creepiest characters in all of the Harry Potter series. First and foremost, is the rather strange decision on the part of author J.K. Rowlings, to make Pettigrew’s animagus form hang around so closely with a preteen Ronald Weasley. With that particularly large elephant out of the room, we can get into some of the more unnerving, crazy, and interesting facts about this Voldemort supporter.

Everyone knows Wormtail to be the man who betrayed Lily and James Potter’s location to Voldemort, who sought to destroy them and their newborn son after finding out that Harry may one day defeat him. Although Voldemort’s attempt on Harry’s life backfired (quite literally), this moment it did cement Wormtail as one of Tom Riddle’s most famous supporters. In addition to this, Wormtail also got away with it all by blaming Sirius Black for that horrible night.

In many ways, Wormtail was the most unlikely member of Voldemort’s inner circle. He didn’t have the dedication to Voldemort’s evil agenda that Lucius Malfoy did. Nor did he have the obsessive nature of the deranged Bellatrix Lestrange. At the end of the day, Wormtail was a coward, and that why he let betrayed his friends to become part of one of the darkest cults of all time. Despite all he has done, Wormtail was still a far more engaging character than most fans may recall.

Without further ado, here are 20 Crazy Facts About Wormtail.

20 He Was Almost Not Sorted Into Gryffindor

When Peter Pettigrew arrived at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, he lined up with the rest of the First Years to await The Sorting Hat’s decision on which House he would join. While in line, he met both Sirius Black, who uttered his contempt for Slytherin House, and James Potter. Immediately, Pettigrew took a liking to these boys and longed to be Sorted with them.

When he finally was placed under The Sorting Hat, Pettigrew waited a whole five minutes to be placed in Gryffindor.

This is what was called a “Hatstall.” The Sorting Hat clearly saw that this character was suitable for more than one house. Although Slytherin would be the obvious alternative choice, Hufflepuff was one as well.

19 He Was A Member Of The Order Of The Phoenix

Due to Peter Pettigrew’s friendship with James, Remus, and Sirius, he joined The Order of the Phoenix after his time at Hogwarts School for Witchcraft and Wizardry.

The Order of the Phoenix was a secret society founded by Albus Dumbledore to combat Voldemort and his sycophantic followers during the First Wizarding War. This was the time when Voldemort returned from traveling abroad and sought to overthrow the Ministry of Magic and persecute Muggles and Muggle-born magical folk. Although Pettigrew wasn’t a fan of Voldemort’s ideology, he was part of the Order purely because his friends were. It was a community for him. He did not have the same passion for the cause as the other members did.

18 He Wasn’t A True Believer In Voldemort

Much like Peter Pettigrew wasn’t a true believer in the Order of the Phoenix, he wasn’t one of Voldemort’s dedicated followers either. He did not share the same lust for dominance over the Wizarding World, nor the same level of intolerance.

When Pettigrew became a spy for Voldemort, it was purely out of fear.

Wormtail, at the end of the day, is an opportunist. He is someone who will do just about anything to survive, and that included betraying his best friends in order to remain on the powerful dark wizard’s good side. In many instances, especially in the books, Wormtail even couldn’t bear Voldemort’s violence and occasionally attempted to suggest alternative measures to achieve his dark desire.

17 McGonagall Didn’t Like Him, even as a kid

If there’s one thing that Minerva McGonagall has never done, it’s mince words. First and foremost, this Transfiguration professor and Gryffindor Head of House is brutally honest. In the books, she was honest about how she felt about Peter Pettigrew during his time at Hogwarts.

Of course, McGonagall taught him Transfiguration as well as watched over him as the H.O.H. She claimed that Pettigrew “hero-worshipped” both James Potter and Sirius Black. In fact, she even described him as a “lump of a boy” who constantly followed Sirius around like his lap-dog. She even claimed that Peter was “stupid” as well as “foolish.” However, Minerva clearly grew to have some respect for him once he joined the Order. She even spoke sadly about him before she learned that he was the one responsible for the betrayal and not Sirius.

16 He Lived As A Rat For 12 Years

As most fans know, Peter Pettigrew was one of the Mauraders, the small group of friends that consisted of James Potter, Sirius Black, and Remus Lupin. Peter even decided to become an animagus in order to make Remus feel more comfortable with the fact that he was tragically turned into a werewolf. The fact that Pettigrew could turn into a rat at will was something that came in handy after he was forced to fake his own demise in order to properly frame Sirius Black.

Due to his fear of being caught, Pettigrew lived as a rat for a solid 12 years.

He was eventually discovered by Sirius and Remus in Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban.

15 He Chose The Weasleys As Owners To Avoid The Death Eaters

After Pettigrew faked his demise, he chose to live as a rat in order to both keep up his lie as well as to avoid the Death Eaters. At this stage, many of Voldemort’s followers were unknown to the authorities and lived amongst the common-folk. Due to the fact that Voldemort’s apparent demise happened due to Pettigrew’s information, the Death Eaters believed that Pettigrew was a traitor and therefore sought to destroy him.

Wormtail knew that he stood a better chance at staying alive if he picked a “good” family to stay with. Eventually, he came to be Percy Weasley’s possession and was handed down to Ron. Presumably, Wormtail (as “Scabbers”) stayed with the Weasleys because he knew that the family would treat him right as well as shield him from Voldemort’s secret followers.

14 He Almost Ruined Ron And Hermione’s Relationship

Although Wormtail didn’t mean to, he almost completely ruined Hermione and Ron’s friendship in Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban. Throughout the book and the film (to a lesser extent), Ron was constantly trying to save Scabbers (AKA Wormtail) from Hermione’s carnivorous new cat, Crookshanks. When Wormtail heard that Sirius Black had escaped from Azkaban and was poking around the Hogwarts grounds, he decided to flee, faking his demise a second time.

In the book, he bit himself in order to leave blood that suggested that Crookshanks had finally taken him out.

It completely convinced Ron, and the pair’s relationship nearly ended until the truth was revealed. This is just another instance of Peter Pettigrew doing anything necessary to remain alive.

13 Rats helped him find Voldemort

A lot of fans of Harry Potter who haven’t paid close enough detail to the books wonder how Wormtail and Voldemort were reunited before the events of The Goblet of Fire. Well, the truth is Wormtail learned from fellow rats that a dark force was living in a forest in Albania. This force ended up being Voldemort himself, who was living off the animals in the forest. However, Voldemort was just clinging to life in his shriveled-up form.

Wormtail lured a prominent ministry witch, who was on vacation in Albania, into the forest and then proceeded to force information out of her that helped persuade Voldemort to take him back into his good graces.

12 He Fed Voldemort Nagini’s Milk to Save Him

Aside from finding Lord Voldemort in a forest in Albania and giving him some vital information about the upcoming Triwizard Tournament from the ministry official he lured into the forest, Wormtail also stayed in Voldemort’s good graces due to the fact that he kept him alive. At this point, Voldemort was simply a shriveled up humanoid creature who barely had any power at all.

With Wormtail’s help, he managed to stay strong enough to last until the end of The Goblet of Fire when he was “reborn.”

Wormtail was able to do this because he milked the venom out of Nagini, Voldemort’s giant snake who will appear in human form in Fantastic Beasts 2: The Crimes of Grindelwald. This venom provided Voldemort with the rudimentary body we see in Goblet of Fire.

11 He Helped Capture Mad-Eye

When Wormtail traveled to Albania to seek Voldemort, he ran into a ministry official who he forced into telling him legitimate information about the goings on at Hogwarts. This included the upcoming Triwizard Tournament that they would get Harry Potter to take part in, as well as the fact that Alastor “Mad-Eye” Moody would be the next Defence Against the Dark Arts teacher.

Another piece of information this ministry official gave was that there was a Voldemort supporter hiding out in England. This ended up being Barty Crouch Jr., who, with the help of Wormtail, tracked down Mad-Eye Moody and captured him. Crouch then famously continued to take locks of Mad-Eye’s hair in order to brew a Polyjuice Potion that turned him into Mad-Eye.

10 Snape Got His Revenge On Pettigrew

As we found out through various flashbacks during Harry’s time learning legilimency from Severus Snape, Severus was teased and pushed around by Harry’s father, Lupin, Sirius, and Peter Pettigrew as a child. Pettigrew probably wouldn’t have been the one to instigate this, but he was happy to play along with what the “cool kids” were doing. That, after all, was sort of his M.O. However, in their later years, Snape got his revenge on Wormtail after Voldemort ordered Wormtail to live with Snape at Spinner’s End in order to help him with various things.

Wormtail ended up being Snape’s punching bag and personal servant.

In fact, Snape treated him quite poorly, which, without a doubt had more to do with Wormtail betraying Lily Potter than anything else.

9 Voldemort Loathed Him

Lord Voldemort may not have had the ability to love anything except for himself, and even that is arguable, but he certainly had some appreciation and respect for certain members of his cult. At one time, he had immense respect for Lucius Malfoy, but that went away after Lucius continued to fail him. Bellatrix and Snape seem to be in his good graces constantly as they appeared to be his most ardent supporters. Snape, specifically, was the one he thought was infiltrating Dumbledore and the Order.

Wormtail is a different story entirely. Voldemort never liked Wormtail at all. He put up with him because Wormtail helped to keep him alive. But even before Voldemort’s first downfall, the villain knew that Wormtail was only around out of fear, not out of duty or respect.

8 He Wasn’t Skilled At Magic

Throughout the course of the Harry Potter series, two very different powerful magical folk made comments on Wormtail’s lack of power. The first was Wormtail’s old Transfiguration teacher, Minerva McGonagall, who claimed that he was far less talented than his friends when it came to magic. Then there’s Voldemort, who always regarded his servant as particularly weak. The truth is, they were mostly right about him.

He was a hopeless dueler, only besting opponents when catching them off-guard.

However, there are a couple of instances where he’s shown more potential than even he believed. One of these moments was when he caused an explosion that ended the lives of twelve Muggles and allowed him to get away from Sirius Black.

7 He Was Surprisingly Intelligent And An Opportunist

You can say a lot about Peter Pettigrew, including his cowardly demeanor, but one thing you can’t say is that he was dumb. On the contrary, Wormtail was actually pretty intelligent. This cunning helped him frame Sirius for the crime that he committed, as well as search out Voldemort.

Wormtail’s intelligence also allowed him to be quite the opportunist. This trait perhaps sums him up the most, as from the start of things he knew how to get in with the “right” crowd. When the tides changed and there was a better group to be associated with, that’s exactly where Wormtail would end up. A fool wouldn’t be able to navigate situations like this, let alone stay on Voldemort’s good side.

6 The Other Death Eaters Didn’t Like Him

Being an opportunist didn’t quite go over well when it came to Voldemort’s closest servants. First of all, many of them, including Bellatrix Lestrange, were there because they either believed in Voldemort’s cause or Voldemort himself.

Many of these Death Eaters saw Wormtail as a clinger; someone who was merely there to survive and never truly fought for what they believed in.

Another major source of the dislike the Death Eaters had for Wormtail had to do with Voldemort’s first downfall. This event happened on Wormtail’s information. When Voldemort was seemingly annihilated after attacking Harry Potter, many Death Eaters saw Wormtail as a traitor who purposefully led Voldemort to his grave.

5 His Hand Was Cursed

Although the filmmakers behind the Harry Potter movies didn’t explore Wormtail’s silver hand, it was certainly talked about in detail in J.K. Rowling’s novels. Wormtail first got this magical silver hand after he severed it from his body while resurrecting Voldemort in The Goblet of Fire. However, it came with a catch.

The catch with Wormtail’s replacement hand was that it was cursed. Sure, the hand had magical properties, including being impervious to certain jinxes, but it also led to his downfall. Though Wormtail didn’t receive a proper final scene in the films, his demise in the books occurred when he was planning to do good on his “life debt” to Harry. Wormtail’s magical hand turned on him, wrapped around his neck, and took his life.

4 He was insecure about his body

Every single person on the planet has their own set of insecurities. This is true of all of the characters within J.K. Rowling’s masterful series. For Wormtail, it was his stature. Not only was his short height an issue for him, but his weight and shape particularly bothered him. He no doubt compared himself to the more traditionally handsome James Potter and Sirius Black while growing up.

Due to actor Timothy Spall’s height, Wormtail was portrayed a taller than he was in the books.

However, when he first appeared in Prisoner of Azkaban, he was around the same height as a 13 and 14-year-old Harry and Hermione. Both Harry and Hermione would grow to be taller, while Pettigrew remained the same height.

3 He Was Made More Rat-Like For The Films

J.K. Rowlings described Peter Pettigrew has had some of the qualities of a rat, especially after living as one for a solid twelve years. These traits included watery eyes, grubby skin, a pointed nose, and even a squeaky voice that followed him after he revealed himself in The Prisoner of Azkaban.

Azkaban director Alfonso Cuaron wanted to make sure audiences absolutely knew that Pettigrew would have maintained some of his rat-like qualities after his twelve-year stint. These added details included extra nostril hair, knuckle hair, two big teeth, and a consistency between Scabbers’ fur and Wormtail’s locks. Hiding his neck with the right coat also made Wormtail’s rat-like look more believable. These details also came in handy for Wormtail’s visual transition back into his animagus form as he escaped.

2 He Took Voldemort’s Wand

Wormtail didn’t keep his distance the day after Voldemort’s downfall in Godric’s Hollow. He made sure he was nearby as he hoped his information would be useful. Voldemort, of course, wanted to take out a young Harry Potter due to the prophecy that stated that the boy could lead to his demise. Unfortunately for Voldemort, his attempt on Harry’s life backfired and he was practically disintegrated.

Wormtail deduced this once he came across the rubble of the house. He then found Voldemort’s iconic phoenix-feathered wand and took it for safe keeping.

He later gave it back to Voldemort once he was strong enough to use it once more.

There’s no telling where exactly Wormtail stored the wand while living as a rat for twelve years.

1 His Demise Was Connected To The Marauders

Wormtail’s connection to the Marauders, Lupin (Mooney), Sirius (Padfoot), and James (Prongs) was fully realized the day that he met his end. This is because Wormtail’s demise (at least in the book) was very similar to those of his three classmates.

All four of them, in one way or another, passed away while trying to protect or save Harry.

James met his end at the hands of Lord Voldemort that day in Godric’s Hollow. Sirius was protecting Harry when he was struck by Bellatrix’s curse. Lupin fought in the Battle of Hogwarts, giving Harry a moment to escape from Dolohov, who was later revealed to have taken Lupin out. Finally, Wormtail’s cursed hand turned on him the moment he was about to let Harry go, honoring his life-debt.

What do you think is the craziest fact about Wormtail in Harry Potter? Let us know in the comments below!

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2018-10-10 06:10:32 – Dylan Parker

18 Best Sequels, According To Rotten Tomatoes (And 8 Stuck With 0%)

We live in an age where sequels are all the rage. Every major studio is chasing those franchises that can keep their cash flow healthy for years to come. Sometimes, they’re exhausting. Other times, they can be our most anticipated movies. Maybe we could do without more Transformers movies, but Marvel and Mission: Impossible sequels are event movies that drive us to the theater in droves.

Sequels are tricky and unpredictable, though. On one hand, they’re often necessary for expanding stories and the good ones continue sagas we want to see progress. On the other, some are soulless cash grabs that shouldn’t exist. In the worst cases, some of them completely derail promising franchises by failing to deliver the goods. Then again, in some instances, sequels can get a series back up and running after they’ve experienced setbacks.

This list will look at those rare sequels that are considered worthy — and even superior — follow-ups. Those rare beasts that make us grateful for multiple movies in a series. Furthermore, we’ll also be discussing the most maligned sequels that brought no critical good will to their respective franchises whatsoever. It’s more fun this way. In order to fully appreciate the best of the best, we also must acknowledge the worst of the worst. Without evil, we wouldn’t be able to understand all that’s good and pure. Without terrible movies, we wouldn’t be grateful for the good ones.

With this in mind, here are 18 Best Sequels According To Rotten Tomatoes (And 8 Stuck With 0%).

26 Best: Captain America: Civil War (91%)

The decision to keep the same team of writers for all three Captain America films paid off in the end. The trilogy just went from strength to strength with each passing entry, though some would argue that The Winter Soldier is equally as good — if not better — than Civil War. Either way, they’re both prime examples of how to do sequels right.

Civil War tackles the same themes you’d expect from a movie about a do-gooder like Cap, but where the film truly soars is during its wild third act. The airport showdown is the best action showdown in the MCU, and that’s saying something.

25 Worst: The Bad News Bears Go To Japan (0%)

If you didn’t know that sequels to The Bad News Bears exist then no one would think any less of you. While the first movie is a cult classic about an underdog baseball team, the sequels have faded from the collective memory with the passing of time, lost like tears in the rain. That’s for good reason.

None of the sequels are good, but The Bad News Bears Go To Japan is especially bad.

While the idea to relocate to Japan for a big game is good on paper, the sequel is just bland, forgettable, and was made to cash in on the brand name.

24 Best: Star Wars: Episode VII – The Force Awakens (93%)

Some fans argue that The Force Awakens is essentially a retread of A New Hope in many ways. However, clearly the critics and audiences didn’t necessarily agree, given its stellar Rotten Tomatoes score and its audience score of 87%, not to mention its impressive box office haul.

As far as Star Wars movies go, it hits the spot. The new characters are great, the return of some old faces is a trip down memory lane, and the story still made significant effort to push the franchise forward. In those regards, the film definitely succeeded.

23 Best: War for the Planet of the Apes (93%)

Anyone who has a problem with classics being rebooted needs to watch the most recent Planet of the Apes trilogy.  The finale pits the apes in a brutal battle against the humans, which leads to an epic confrontation between the Caesar the Ape and humanity’s ruthless colonel (played by an utterly wicked Woody Harrelson). As far as concluding trilogies goes, War for the Planet of the Apes has everything.

By no means is this a pleasant movie, but it is rewarding. And not only does it wrap up an epic story, but the film boasts some of the great CGI wizardry out there. The action is also ridiculously impressive and compelling, which is crazy considering it’s a movie about people versus monkeys.

22 Best: Logan (93%)

James Mangold’s Logan, the gloriously violent and heartbreaking farewell to Patrick Stewart’s Professor X and Hugh Jackman’s Wolverine, is an all-timer. Taking cues from the Old Man Logan comics, the movie has just as much in common with neo-westerns as it does with superhero yarns, which makes for a gritty, character-driven elegy to characters many of us grew up with.

Logan deserves praise for going R-rated and taking some stylistic risks.

The movie is proof that audiences will still flock to see superhero movies with some edge. If you’re going to send off some icons, this is the way to do it.

21 Worst: Return to the Blue Lagoon (0%)

Considering that no one liked The Blue Lagoon (it currently holds a 9% rating on RT), why anyone would want to return to the franchise is beyond comprehension. Of course, every sequel is a perfect opportunity to right some old wrongs if handled with care. Unfortunately, this was not. The story follows two children who are marooned on a tropical island as the grow up and fall in love, etc. The characters don’t wear enough clothes either, which makes for some weird, uncomfortable viewing.

There are some unintentional laughs to be had at the poor script and performances.

Otherwise the Blue Lagoon isn’t a scenic cinematic paradise worth spending time in unless you want to punish yourself for some reason.

20 Best: The Dark Knight (94%)

Few superhero movies are ever regarded as anything more than popcorn fare. However, if there were ever a superhero movie that proved the genre could be prestige cinema, it would be The Dark Knight. Christopher Nolan’s take on Batman is an exploration of chaos and just how far people are willing to go to achieve their goal.

The Dark Knight — for better or worse when you consider how devoid of fun some DC movies have been since — also brought a gritty, realistic touch to the genre. The movie feels more like a Michael Mann crime saga than it does a story about superheroes versus their outlandishly evil counterparts.

19 Best: Finding Dory (94%)

In recent times, Pixar has been criticized for relying too heavily on sequels, but if it ain’t broke… Finding Dory was released 13 years after Finding Nemo, and it was a smash with critics and audiences alike.

Its 94% on Rotten Tomatoes is complemented by an 84% audience score.

Upon release Finding Dory was praised for being as funny and thought-provoking as the first movie, while also adding a new dimension to the story. As with any Pixar movie, Finding Dory can be appreciated by audiences of all ages. 

18 Worst: Staying Alive (0%)

No other actor on the planet has experienced a career of ups and downs like John Travolta has. When he broke out he had the world at his dancing feet. After that, his career experienced a downturn until it was resurrected briefly following Pulp Fiction until it ultimately plummeted when he started starring in movies like Battlefield Earth. Staying Alive was released in 1983 when Travolta was experiencing his first fall from grace. Following up a classic like Saturday Night Fever was never going to be easy, but it shouldn’t have been this difficult, either.

The sequel lacks the gritty realism of its predecessor, and instead tries to get by on dance sequences. What’s the point in dancing when we don’t care about who’s doing it?

17 Best: Creed (95%)

No franchise tends to remain compelling seven sequels in, but Creed is proof that the Rocky franchise is the rare exception. Granted, some Rocky movies aren’t exactly knockouts, but Creed got things back on track and showed that it’s game for a few more rounds.

By serving as both a sequel and a spin-off/soft reboot, Creed gave the franchise a breath of new life.

It passed the gloves on to Michael B. Jordan as the eponymous character.  Creed 2 is right around the corner. Let’s see if it can do what the original saga failed to do and deliver a second outing that’s as good as the inaugural entry.

16 Worst: Leprechaun 2 (0%)

The first Leprechaun movie doesn’t come close to being certified fresh rating on Rotten Tomatoes, so it should come as no surprise that the sequels didn’t receive any critical acclaim. Especially not the second movie, which no critic seemed to enjoy at all.

Here, the infamous critter resurfaces in Los Angeles to find a bride, which leads to him abducting a young woman and trying to claim her as his own. This isn’t high art by any means, nor does it try to be.

15 Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2 (96%)

The Harry Potter books were an emotional roller coaster that affected millions of readers worldwide. Reliving those adventures on the big screen was also a great time to be alive, and the grand finale lived up to expectations. In the final installment of the saga about the Boy Who Lived and his fight against the forces of darkness, the ultimate showdown finally happens as our hero and his pals face off against Voldemort in Hogwarts castle.

It’s a true epic in every sense of the word.

As far as wrapping up the story goes, Death Hallows: Part 2 delivered the goods and gave us cinematic closure in style.

14 Worst: Looking Who’s Talking Now (0%)

Look Who’s Talking is a perfectly serviceable comedy that should never have received any sequels. In a bid to end to the trilogy on a high following the disappointing previous sequel, Look Who’s Talking Too, someone thought it would be a good idea to introduce talking dogs to the mix for the series’ swan song. 

Needless to say, Look Who’s Talking Now wasn’t the glorious goodbye the series was looking for, but at least the film did cast some cute dogs.

13 Best: The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly (97%)

The third installment of Sergio Leone’s influential Dollars trilogy, The Good, The Bad and the Ugly is the creme de la creme of spaghetti westerns. 

The story centers around two men who form an uneasy alliance following a scam.

This leads them on a quest as it turns out there’s money buried in the desert and they want to find it. However, they have to compete against another who won’t hesitate to put a bullet in them to claim the prize. On top of being one of the most acclaimed movies out there, the film has been hailed as a major influence on directors like Quentin Tarantino.

12 Best: The Godfather: Part II (97%)

The continuation of Francis Ford Coppola’s Best Picture-winning 1972 crime saga, The Godfather: Part II chronicles Michael Corleone’s further ascendency in organized crime while simultaneously taking us back to the past to explore his dad’s humble beginnings.

Like its predecessor, the sequel also won Best Picture and is hailed by many a critic and film buff as one of the best movies ever made. Whether it’s better than the original is up for debate, but they’re like two sides of the same coin. These movies set the bar for mob pictures, and to this day, other directors are still trying to recreate the formula.

11 Mad Max: Fury Road (97%)

Director George Miller was in his seventies when he unleashed Mad Max: Fury Road, but the energy and madness imbued in every frame of this extravaganza suggest a man half his age.

Maybe we’ll never see another Mad Max movie, but the world needs a Furiosa spin-off eventually.

Fury Road is essentially one non-stop chase that barely lets up from the get-go all the way to the climactic ending. Furthermore, it’s a movie that defied expectation by taking the focus away from the titular character and making Charlize Theron’s Furiosa the real hero of the adventure. 

10 Worst: Jaws: The Revenge (0%)

Is Jaws: the Revenge a good movie? Definitely not. Is it an entertaining movie, though? Definitely yes.

How many other movies have sharks that make a conscious decision to get revenge on the humans that wronged them? Not only that, but the shark here followed its target to the Bahamas from Massachusetts. And why would someone who wants to avoid sharks go to an island surrounded by ocean? The movie is illogical, silly, nonsense, but it does offer sheer entertainment value for bad movie buffs.

9 Best: Aliens (98%)

Alien and Aliens are quite different in some regards, but they complement each other perfectly. The first is an exercise in pure suspense and terror. The sequel, on the other hand, retains the horror elements but adds a lot more action to proceedings.

Aliens shows how to make a successful sequel: acknowledge what came before but don’t be afraid to bring some fresh ideas to the table.

James Cameron was on fire in the ’80s and he wasn’t afraid to make Ridley Scott’s baby his own.

8 Best: Mad Max 2: Road Warrior (98%)

While George Miller’s inaugural Mad Max caper is a cult classic, most film buffs would agree that a couple of the sequels are slightly superior. Taking nothing away from the first movie, Road Warrior is a vast improvement when it comes to world building and sheer action spectacle. The story follows the eponymous character as he helps a group of people steal oil from a tyrannical madman and his band of goons.

As far as cinematic thrill rides go, few movies are on par with Road Warrior. Here, Miller turned up the volume significantly by making the post-apocalyptic terrains feel more dangerous and the action sequences more gung-ho and grander in scale.

7 Best: Evil Dead 2 (98%)

Sam Raimi’s first Evil Dead movie was a huge achievement for independent filmmaking when it was released back in 1981. The movie still holds up to this day with its innovative camera work, effective scares, and excellent cast as well.

The sequel is a triumph in its own right.

While the first movie contained moments of dark comedy, the sequel amps up the zaniness to become what is essentially the splatter flick equivalent of a Laurel and Hardy flick. For 90 minutes, Bruce Campbell is tormented by laughing ornaments and his own severed hand. As silly as that sounds, Evil Dead 2 still manages to pack more punch than your average MMA fighter.

6 Worst: Police Academy 4: Citizens on Patrol (0%)

In the third installment of the Police Academy franchise, the cops are understaffed and in need of some help. Naturally, the force turns to America’s civilians to help aid in their mission. Things don’t go smoothly, for the characters in the film and the movie itself.

Rotten Tomatoes describes Police Academy 4: Citizens on Patrol as “Utterly, completely, thoroughly and astonishingly unfunny” and  a movie which sent “a once-innocuous franchise plummeting to agonizing new depths.” That sounds about right.

5 Toy Story 3 (99%)

Few franchises manage to strike three home runs in a row. Even The Godfather stuttered when it came to the third outing. Toy Story, on the other hand, never ceases to replicate the magic time and time again.

This emotional installment sees Andy get ready to leave for college and neglect his old toys.

He’s all grown up and has no use for them anymore, and what ensues is what is by far the most heartfelt movie in the series.

4 Worst: Highlander II: The Quickening (0%)

As far as pure entertaining action-fantasy goes, the first Highlander movie is a fun slice of popcorn entertainment that aficionados of cult cinema lose their head over. The sequel, meanwhile, is an incomprehensible mess.

Highlander II is too overplotted to explain, but the cusp of the story revolves around the hero from the first movie taking on a corporation after being led to believe that they don’t have the world’s best interests in mind. In this one, our hero is a defender of the ozone as well. What makes Highlander II so awful is that it completely retcons everything good about the original film and the mythology it introduced.

3 Best: The Bride of Frankenstein (100%)

We all desire to be loved by someone special– even bolt-head monsters made up of the remains of other people. But to find them a mate, one must dig up some more corpses and create a suitable partner that’s similar in genetic make-up. This is also the storyline behind James Whale’s 1935 masterpiece, Bride of Frankenstein.

There are too many Frankenstein movies to keep track of at this point, but this sequel remains the pinnacle of the original series.

The movie is a masterpiece that successfully blends campy fun with Gothic beauty and genuine chills that’s stood the test of time as a result.

2 Paddington 2 (100%)

No one expected the the first Paddington to be as good as it is. That movie is a bona fide classic in the making in its own right, but the sequel is some next-next level brilliance.

Paddington 2 sees the lovable bear go to prison and, unsurprisingly, all the mean criminals fall in love with him as well. Critics, like the fictional convicts, were also full of praise for the titular bear and his second big onscreen adventure as well. At one point, Paddington 2 was even the best reviewed movie in history.

1 Best: Toy Story 2 (100%)

Following up a movie like Toy Story was never going to be easy, but that didn’t stop Pixar from trying and succeeding. In this one, we find out that Woody is a collectible when he’s discovered and stolen by a greedy museum owner. Naturally this prompts Buzz Lightyear, Mr. Potato, and the rest of the gang into action and they set out to save their friend.

General consensus on Rotten Tomatoes states that Toy Story 2 is that rare sequel that improves upon its predecessor.

The sequel raises the stakes and ups the element of adventure while retaining the humor and heart that made audiences fall in love with the franchise in the first place.

What’s your favorite sequel? Let us know in the comments!

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2018-10-10 04:10:39 – Kieran Fisher

Roger Ailes Movie Dropped By Annapurna Shortly Before Production

Annapurna Pictures drops director Jay Roach’s untitled film about former Fox News chairman Roger Ailes, just weeks before it was set to begin production. The studio had been developing the project, which chronicles the sexual harassment allegations against Ailes, for quite some time – recruiting an all-star ensemble cast to boot.

Earlier this year, Charlize Theron signed on to portray former Fox reporter Megyn Kelly, and it was only a couple of months ago John Lithgow was cast as Ailes. Other prominent thespians involved include Margot Robbie and Nicole Kidman, giving the film a tremendous amount of clout and prestige. Particularly in today’s climate, the Ailes movie seemed like the socially relevant film any studio would love to have on their slate, but Annapurna has to pass on it at the last minute.

Related: The Trailer for Annapurna’s If Beale Street Could Talk

THR reports Annapurna dropped the Ailes film, with the official reasoning unknown. Some sources claim there were budgetary concerns, but that isn’t confirmed. It’s worth mentioning the project hasn’t been scrapped, and is now on the lookout for a new home. Per Variety, Focus Features may wind up distributing it.

The reported budget for the Ailes movie is roughly $35 million, which is a relatively small amount by Hollywood standards. However, Annapurna is going through quite a rough period. A separate Variety report stated Annapurna President of Film Chelsea Barnard is leaving her position as the studio also let go of the upcoming The Hustlers at Scores, which stars Jennifer Lopez as a stripper out for revenge. THR also notes the studio is hurting financially, which would explain their decision to drop two high-profile films. Last year, the indie house got in the business of distributing their own movies – an endeavor that likely hasn’t gone as well as they’d hope. To date, their biggest hit as a distributor is Eli Roth’s Death Wish remake, which earned $41.4 million worldwide.

Hopefully, Annapurna is able to find its footing soon, as it still has plenty of noteworthy films on deck. As of now, they’re distributing two of this year’s biggest Oscar hopefuls in Barry Jenkins’ If Beale Street Could Talk and Adam McKay’s Vice and handling the Stateside release of Bond 25. That’s a fairly tall order, particularly for a studio trying to keep its head above water. It would be a sad day for the film industry if Annapurna ends up going under, so ideally studio founder Megan Ellison will be able to work some magic and get things back on track. In the meantime, they desperately need Vice (receiving a wide release on Christmas) to be a hit this holiday season.

More: Watch The Official Vice Trailer

Source: THR, Variety [2]

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2018-10-09 04:10:51 – Chris Agar