Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Produced for almost MYR1 billion, each planet in Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets costs a cool Million!

In the year 1975, the last American Apollo rocket and the Soviet Soyuz 19 capsule docked in orbit around Earth for a project called Alpha. Around the year 2000, 16 nations worked together to build the International Space Station (ISS). Later in 2045, ISS was renamed back to Alpha. In 2099, a communication satellite named Omega made first contact with an extraterrestrial species. The first extraterrestrial ship docks with Alpha in 2135. In the centuries to come, more and more extraterrestrial species have joined to built their habitats on Alpha. Welcome to Alpha, the city of a thousand planets.

Official Synopsis:
VALERIAN AND THE CITY OF A THOUSAND PLANETS is the visually spectacular new adventure film from Luc Besson, the legendary director of The Professional, The Fifth Element and Lucy, based on the ground-breaking comic book series which inspired a generation of artists, writers and filmmakers. In the 28th century, Valerian (Dane DeHaan) and Laureline (Cara Delevingne) are a team of special operatives charged with maintaining order throughout the human territories. Under assignment from the Minister of Defense, the two embark on a mission to the astonishing city of Alpha - an ever-expanding metropolis where species from all over the universe have converged over centuries to share knowledge, intelligence and cultures with each other. There is a mystery at the center of Alpha, a dark force which threatens the peaceful existence of the City of a Thousand Planets, and Valerian and Laureline must race to identify the marauding menace and safeguard not just Alpha, but the future of the universe.

Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets is directed by Luc Besson (The Professional, The Fifth Element, La Femme Nikita, Lucy). Starring Dane Dehaan (The Amazing Spider-Man 2, Chronicle) as Major Valerian and Cara Delevingne (Suicide Squad, Paper Towns) as Sergeant Laureline. Alongside them is an accomplished troupe of performers. Clive Owen (Children of Men, television’s “The Knick”) as Commander Arün Filitt, Ethan Hawke (The Purge, Training Day) as Jolly the Pimp, John Goodman (Atomic Blonde, 10 Cloverfield Lane) as the voice of Igon Siruss, Kris Wu (XXX: Return of Xander Cage, Journey To the West: The Demons Strike Back) as Captain Neza, Rutger Hauer (Blade Runner, Batman Begins) as President of the World State Federation and Herbie Hancock (Oscar® and Grammy®-award winning composer) as Defense Minister. Making her fantasy film debut is global pop sensation Rihanna as Bubble.

Valerian (left) and Laureline with Director Luc Besson (centre)

Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets is based on the French sci-fi comic series called "Valerian and Laureline", originally called "Valerian - Spatiotemporal Agent", created by writer Pierre Christin and artist Jean-Claude Mézières. This series was first published in "Pilote" magazine in 1967. The final installment was published in 2010. It was a space opera with time travel plots. It has been compiled into a 21 volume graphic novel, with a short story collection and an encyclopedia. An animated television series called "Time Jam: Valerian and Laureline" was released in 2007. And now it has been adapted to the feature film format with the title Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets.

Specifically, the movie is based on the 6th volume of the comic series titled "Ambassador of the Shadows". While Alpha is not in the comics, it is inspired by Point Central, a space station of a thousand planets; A home to many extraterrestrial species and a center for intergalactic trade; An ever expanding metropolis where species all over the universe have gathered together over centuries to share their knowledge, intelligence and cultures. Valerian and Laureline were in charge of maintaining order throughout the human habitats. A dark force threatens the peaceful existence of Alpha and the duo has to identify the menace, protect Alpha and safeguard the future of the universe.

Scenes in Star Wars inspired by Valerian comics

For decades, "Valerian and Laureline" has influenced the sci-fi genre in many ways. You can see traces of the comic in Conan the Barbarian (although its not acually sci-fi), Independence Day and Star Wars to name a few. Let's take Star Wars since there are very profound similarities. A well-known Han Solo scene in "Star Wars: Episode V - The Empire Strikes Back" in 1980 is similar to the scene where Valerian was encased in liquid plastic in the issue "The Empire of a Thousand Planets" released in 1971. Leia's slave girl outfit in "Star Wars: Episode VI - Return of the Jedi" is similar to Laureline's slave girl outfit in the issue "World Without Star" released in 1972. And Jabba the Hut's palace also seems similar to a setting in the issue "The Empire of a Thousand Planets". Besson's "Fifth Element" was also heavily influenced by "Valerian and Laureline", with Jean-Claude Mézières providing the concept art for the movie. This is something to keep in mind if you see something familiar or have a feeling of déjà vu when watching Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets.

When director Luc Besson was 10 years old, he found a magazine called "Pilote". Inside it he discovered the comic series "Valerian and Laureline" and instantly fell in love with it. This pair of sci-fi heroes have long fascinated generations of European children. They didn't have capes or superhuman abilities or machoistic elements. Valerian and Laureline were more like two normal cops, but they were in the weird and amazing 28th century. They were thinking liberal humanists with a green conscience. Cerebral shoot-'em-up heroes.

Major Valerian and Sergeant Laureline are two young agents working for the Spatio-Temporal Service, a source of law and order in the 28th century. Valerian always follows orders and is straight-edged, while Laureline is an independent free-spirited rebel. In the age of instant space-time travel, their mission is to patrol both history and the universe. They travel in a XB982, the B model of the Spatio-Temporal ships that can go back to 30 centuries in average and can go up to 1000 million light-years in time. Agents can go to the past with authorization, but not to the future. But unfortunately we won't see time-travel play in this movie because Besson has mentioned the movie is already complex enough without time-travel. Besson has hinted time-travel may play a role in a sequel if it were to be made.

Valerian (above) is a native of Galaxity, the capital of the Terran empire, and joined the Spatio-Temporal Service in the year 2713. He has been trained to think that Galaxity is always right even when his orders go against his morals. He is a man of action, has a sixth sense for tactics and is a brave warrior. Valerian met Laureline during a mission to 11th century France where she lived as a peasant. Laureline saved Valerian's life but accidentally discovers Valerian is a time-traveller. Valerian is forced to bring her to the 28th century. Laureline was trained to become a Spatio-Temporal agent and assigned to be Valerian's partner.

Laureline (above) is a redheaded female agent in the comics, but is a blonde in the movie. She has innate intelligence matched by her steely determination and impressive strength. “It was the 1970s, and it was the first time we saw this modern girl kicking ass,” Besson shares. Laureline was brave, kind, and always outsmarting her enemies. This was long before Hollywood discovered female empowerment.

Pop music artist Rihanna as shape-shifter Bubble.

Fans of Rihanna, a multi-platinum global pop star and rebellious fashion icon, will be delighted to know that she was Besson's first choice to play Bubble, the shape-shapeshifting "glampod". And she accepted straight away because she interested in tackling her first film role in the fantasy genre. She told Besson "I'm a beginner at acting and unless I work with someone who is good, I won't learn." Such honesty from a superstar! Besson explains "In our film, glampods are artists who've gone to school, so they know masters such as Shakespeare, Molière and Rimbaud, by heart. In that way, Bubble is the ultimate actress." Thus playing the role of Bubble is a very tall order. Just don't expect Rihanna to be singing or have a song in the movie. Besson specifically mentioned she wants her only as an actor.

K-Tron, security droid for Commander Arün Filitt. 
In the movie, fans of the comic series will see familiar faces come to life. Valerian and Laureline, The Spatio-Temporal Service, K-tron (those expensive ruthlessly efficient combat androids), Melo (a rainbow-colored pet lizard) and the many varied extraterrestrial species. Among those species, from the trailers, we can see some notable ones will appear in the movie: the Kortan Dahuk, the Khodar'Khan, the aquatic Marmaka, the Kamuniks, the Omelite, the Doghan Daguiz in the form of The Shingouz (a trio of information brokers) and the Pearls.

The Shingquoz are information brokers from an alien species called Doghan Daguiz.

This the most expensive independent European production ever. Luc Besson initially thought it was impossible to make, but he started write a script after he finished "The Fifth Element". Still the technology was not available to make such a movie... until "Avatar". Besson then saw that he could do everything. "Avatar" proved that imagination is the only limit. Then he threw away his script because he thought it was not good enough. James Cameron pushed the levels too high, so Besson wrote a new script.

Writer-Director Luc Besson on the set of Valerian.

"Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets" took Besson 7 years to conceive, purportedly €197 million / RM0.975 billion to produce, and almost 2 years to edit. With those numbers, it is remarkable that the number of major studios involved is zero. America has not heard much about the Valerian comics, so Hollywood would be very hesitant to invest in a movie about the comics. Besson needed his own film studio. With his success with a string of TV and film projects that he wrote and produced, Besson started EuropaCorp to distribute his movies in France without any help from an outside distributor. With an established portfolio and his own studio ready, he took his script and sketches to buyers at the Cannes Film Festival three years ago with hopes of securing funding for the project. Besson secured 90 percent of the funding in one day.

Creators of Valerian Pierre Christin Jean-Claude Mézières with Luc Besson (centre).
So here's what we get for a production of almost RM1 billion:

Well actually the real cost might be around 150 million reported by Forbes recently. What currency the costs is quoting in this article is not very clear. Whether Euro or US dollars it's still a massive amount when converted to over MYR 0.5 million per minute of film for it's 137 minute run time.

The official movie tie-in mobile game, Valerian: City of Alpha.

There is already mobile game movie tie-in out now for Android and iOS. This game has more extraterrestrial species from the comics than can be seen in the movie and is still improving. For more information, check out the official Valerian game website.

The official boardgame Valerian: The Alpha Missions coming out soon from Ultra Pro.
For tabletop gaming fans, Ultra Pro will release Valeran: The Alpha Missions in August, the first game under its license for games. Valerian: The Alpha Missions is a cooperative game where teams of agents go on a series of missions to explore the city and collectively decide to work together or split up to complete mission objectives. Intended for 2 to 4 players, ages 11 and up, each mission takes about 30 minutes to play.

Find Valerian's Skyjet at Pavilion KL, level 3, Fashion Avenue.

The Lexus Skyjet, pre-order now for delivery in the 28th Century!

At Pavilion KL there is a display of the Skyjet seen in the movie, provided by Lexus. Apparently Lexus and the Valerian creative team came up with the design of this single-seat pursuit craft. For more information, check out the official Lexus Malaysia website.

The Outpost Movie Recon Team (M.R.T.) has discovered some means to win some Valerian bounty. GSC Cinemas have 2 contests for you to win exclusive merchandise. The first one is on video at their Facebook page which ends this weekend on 23 July.

The second contest is on their website with more goodies, including an iPhone 7 Plus Special Edition. Just take a photo on a Valerian standee in any of the listed GSC cineplexes then post it to Instagram with hashtag #GSCvalerian. To see the prizes and other terms and condition head over to the GSC website.

UPDATE (21/7): The Outpost Movie Recon Team (M.R.T.) has 2 more contests to win Valerian merchandises. Honestly these 2 new contests will be blow your mind away.

mmCineplexes is running a Facebook contest which includes an exclusive tumbler. Like/react, answer a question, comment and tag 3 friends, and share the post for a chance to win something. Contest ends on 2 August 2017.

TGV Cinemas' contest has very surprising prizes. The Grand Prize includes, among other great items, a trip to Boracay, Phillipines for two! And the Second Prize includes, among other great items as well, a Samsung Gear VR with Controller! Contest ends on 03 August 2017.

A childhood fantasy coming to life, an epic sci-fi series that influenced the entire genre, a vision a lifetime in the making.

Valerian and the City of a Thousand Cities will be in Malaysian cinemas on 20 July 2017 with this year coinciding with the 50th Anniversary of Valerian first published in 1967.

The official Twitter account of the movie is @ValerianMovie.

Disclaimer: Valerian & Laureline, Valerian & The City of a Thousand Planets and other trademarks are copyright to series creators  Pierre Christin & Jean-Claude Mézières and/or EuropaCorp, referenced here for fan service engagements without intent to infringe. Valerian & The City of a Thousand Planets is distributed in Malaysian by Rainfilms.

Monday, July 10, 2017

Literally Gorilla Warfare in Planet of the Apes

Hold on to your butts, homo sapiens. A war is coming. A war between apes and humans to determine which species will survive. This is the War for the Planet of the Apes, the third installment in the Planet of the Apes reboot series. An emotionally charged blockbuster so powerful it could be one of the best movies of 2017.

Official synopsis:

In War for the Planet of the Apes, the third chapter of the critically acclaimed blockbuster franchise, Caesar and his apes are forced into a deadly conflict with an army of humans led by a ruthless Colonel. After the apes suffer unimaginable losses, Caesar wrestles with his darker instincts and begins his own mythic quest to avenge his kind. As the journey finally brings them face to face, Caesar and the Colonel are pitted against each other in an epic battle that will determine the fate of both their species and the future of the planet.

An upcoming sci-fi film directed by Matt Reeves (Cloverfield) and written by Matt Reeves and Mark Bomback. Sequel to Dawn of the Planet of the Apes. It stars Andy Serkis returning as the majestic Caesar, Karin Konoval returning as Caesar's trusted advisor Maurice, Judy Greer returning as Cornelia, Caesar's wife, Terry Notary as Rocket, Caesar's right-hand man, and Toby Kebbel as Koba. New to the series are Woody Harrelson as The Colonel, Steve Zahn as Bad Ape, and Amiah Miller in her first major motion picture role as Nova, the human child who becomes an unexpected link between the apes and humanity. Michael Giachinno returns to compose the score for this film. Visual effects are provided once again by Weta Digital.

This is the sequel to 2014's Dawn of the Planet of the Apes. Let us recap what has happened so far in this trilogy reboot.

The first movie in this reboot series is called Rise of the Planet of the Apes, released in 2011. In the movie, at a facility called Gen-Sys labs, we see the birth of an intelligent species of apes created by a virus called ALZ 113, or the Simian Flu as it became to be called afterwards. This virus is a result of scientific experiment gone wrong and it nearly caused the extinction of the human race. The intelligent apes escape into the wilderness led by alpha chimp Caesar.

In the second movie called Dawn of the Planet of the Apes, a decade has passed. The human population is nearing extinction due to the virus while the ape population has thrived and grown. A small band of human survivors encountered tribe of apes. Led by Caesar, there seemed to be hope towards a way to peace between apes and humans. But then an ape named Koba wanted revenge against his human captors from Gen-Sys labs and shattered this little hope for peace.

Summary of the two preceding movies prior to War.

In this third movie, War for the Planet of the Apes, human soldiers have been searching for Caesar and his tribe for 2 years and fate has brought them to him. It is the final showdown between Caesar and The Colonel, the leader of the human army. Will you cheer for the apes if they win the war? Will you sympathize with the humans if they lose? Witness the pivotal moments that determine the fate of the human civilization.

 Two-time Oscar® nominee Woody Harrelson is The Colonel, the main antagonist in this War for the Planet of the Apes.
12-year old Amiah Miller is Nova, an orphaned child living with the apes.
Also new in this movie is Nova, a mute young girl afflicted by the Simian Flu. She is "adopted" by orangutan Maurice and follows on the apes on their journey to a new home. Ironically Nova becomes the silent human amidst talking primates like in atypical animated fairy-tale of talking animals.

Actor & comedian Steve Zhan portrays Bad Ape, a product of the Simian Virus spreading to other parts of the world.

One unique and intriguing character introduced in this movie is an ape called Bad Ape, voiced and motion captured by Steve Zahn. He is.... let's just say, not like the other apes of the tribe. Caesar's encounter with him will play a very important role in the war against the human army.

Watch this video above and stand a chance to win movie merchandise from our Facebook & YouTube Contest (see below for Terms & Conditions, closing Tuesday 18 July, 11.59pm).

Background on some of the recurring apes are available at the Official Planet of the Apes website.

The war action has moved from forests to rugged mountains and snow.
Reviews are now out from those that have seen the early screenings. The results are overwhelmingly positive. (some of the reviews have SPOILERS so don't click on them if you don't want to be spoiled)

Here are feedback from reviewers:

New Zealand's Weta Digital provides leading edge motion capture technology allowing apes to emote better than Star Trek stoic Vulcans.
This motion picture values emotion very highly. And its shows very clearly when you look at the faces of the apes and realize how realistic they look like. It is amazing how motion capture has evolved to allow the emotions and subtle facial movements of the actors to be conveyed even through all those layers of digital effects. Weta Digital has really done an amazing job. And Andy Serkis really deserves an Oscar for his motion capture performance during the whole trilogy. You really want to watch this movie on the biggest and largest screen you can find: TGV's IMAX, GSC's Maxx or MBO's Big Screen.

Andy Serkis transformation into Caesar by the magic of Weta Workshop

One of the great things about this trilogy using motion capture is that it shows to the world that there is no need to utilize actual great apes and chimpanzees in entertainment. For many years, these primates have been taken as pets or as attractions. They are being threatened by wildlife trafficking and hunting. This trilogy proves that there are alternatives that are morally correct. In honor of the upcoming release of War for the Planet of the Apes, 20th Century Fox has partnered with the Jane Goodall Institute in Virginia, US, to provide care for rescued chimpanzees.

Gentle orangutan Maurice with orphaned girl Nova.
Expect a lot of emotional drama as well in the conflict between Caesar and The Colonel. Both are self-righteously defending their own species from destruction in a world gone wild.

Woody Harrelson and Andy Serkis were highly moved by each others performance.

Take a selfie or wefie with Caesar at Starling Mall, Damansara Uptown.
Typically the Outpost Movie Recon Team (M.R.T. ) will be sharing valuable intel on where to find movie stuff locally with tips on where to win merchandise. Well this time thanks to the nice people at 20th Century Fox Malaysia, we will the ones giving away the following goodies: Survival Gear to make it through this War for the Planet of the Apes!


Follow these instructions below for a chance to win these official movie merchandise and maybe even some in-season movie passes to War for the Planet of the Apes:

1. Like our Facebook Page, Outpost Productions, and this article post.
2. Share this Blog post on Facebook and/or Twitter (set your post privacy to Public). 
3. Submit your personal details and answer 3 questions plus write creative caption in the online form below.

Make sure your entries reach us by Sunday 16 July 2017, 11.59pm and stay tuned to our Facebook Page for announcement of winners.

Terms and Conditions for Outpost War for Planet of the Apes Blog Contest (CLOSED):
  • Participation only for residents in Malaysia.
  • Only 1 entry per person. Multiple entries after the first entry will be automatically rejected.
  • Selection of winners will be based on answering all 3 questions correctly and our selection of the most creative captions.
  • Winners will announced on our Facebook Page anytime from Monday 17 July 2017 onwards. It is the winners' own responsibility to lookout for the announcement and respond accordingly to the redemption instructions given.
  • Prizes may be collected in person at Visual Arts Expo on 22-23 July 2017 at Shah Alam Convention Centre, or alternative locations at dates & times to be advised. Prizes that remain uncollected by 31 July 2017 will be deemed forfeit.
  • We reserve the right to revise these terms and conditions at any time without prior notice.
We are also giving away an exclusive USB thumbdrive loaded with Gen-Sys research on apes via Instagram.


Teams and Conditions for Instagram contest (13-16 July - CLOSED):
  • Participation only for residents in Malaysia.
  • To participate, Follow OutpostMY on Instagram and Like the contest post.
  • Comment with your vote of either #TeamMan or #TeamApe
  • Tag 3 friends on Instagram
  • All entries to be posted by Sunday 16 July, 11.59pm.
  • Only 1 entry per person. Multiple entries after the first entry will be automatically rejected.
  • Winner will be selected amongst entries from the most number of either #TeamMan or #TeamApe.
  • Selected winner will be contacted by direct message for collection instructions.
  • Prizes uncollected by 31 July will be forfeited.
  • Just kidding on the Gen-Sys research!
  • We reserve the right to revise these terms and conditions at any time without prior notice.
Teams and Conditions for Facebook & YouTube contest (15-18 July) ONGOING:
  • Participation only for residents in Malaysia.
  • To participate, first Like Outpost Productions / OutpostMY Facebook Page and the contest post.
  • Then share the post with hashtags #WarforthePlanetMY and #OutpostGiveaway.
  • Open the YouTube video "Bad Ape" on new browser (click YouTube on the lower right portion of this video to automatically open in new browser window) and Subscribe to our YouTube channel myscififanoutpost.
  • Watch the video for answer to this question: “Where did Bad Ape come from?”
  • Send Message to our Facebook Page Outpost Productions / OutpostMY with the following info: Name & NRIC, YouTube subscriber name, Email, Mobile Tel, Answer to Question.
  • All entries to be posted by Tuesday 18 July, 11.59pm.
  • Only 1 entry per person.
  • Prizes consist  of 1 Cap and 1 Torchlight from War for the Planet of the Apes.
  • Winner will be selected from entries with the correct answer.
  • Selected winner will be contacted by direct message for collection instructions.
  • Prizes uncollected by 31 July will be forfeited.
  • We reserve the right to revise these terms and conditions at any time without prior notice.
Now especially for you folks who have watched War for the Planet of the Apes, we seek your movie review to share with friends to stand a chance to win this official merchandise:

Watch with compass and dogtags to help survive the Planet of the Apes.
Follow us on Twitter at OutpostMY and retweet / RT our contest post with your creative captions of the movie by words and hashtags ending with #OutpostGiveaway, e.g. #WarforthePlanet dramatic masterpiece worthy of Ape #Oscar #TeamApe #Caesar #FTW #mustsee. Contest closes Monday 24 July, 11.59pm (Malaysian time)

Terms and Conditions for Twitter contest (18-23 July) ONGOING:
  • Participation only for residents in Malaysia.
  • To participate, Follow OutpostHolonet @OutpostMY on Twitter.
  • Retweet the Contest Tweet (link above).
  • In retweet add Comment with your review of War for the Planet of the Apes in most creative caption and hashtags, e.g. #TheEndIsNear #PlanetoftheApes #ApeSmart #ManStupid
  • End tweet with hashtag #OutpostGiveaway
  • All entries to be posted by Tuesday 24 July, 11.59pm.
  • Only 1 entry per person. Multiple entries after the first entry will be automatically rejected.
  • Selected winner will be contacted by direct message.
  • We reserve the right to revise these terms and conditions at any time without prior notice.

Also Follow us on all our social media channels for the latest geek intel and chance to win more cool stuff:  OuptostMy on Twitter, MySciFiFanOutpost on YouTube.

War for the Planet of the Apes is roaring into theaters in Malaysia on 13 July 2017. Follow 20th Century Fox Malaysia on Facebook to stay tuned to the latest monkey business and grab your tickets not for this climactic chapter of the critically acclaimed blockbuster trilogy.  

Disclaimer: Planet of the Apes and other trademarks are copyright 20th Century Fox, referenced here for fan service engagements without intent to infringe.

Tuesday, July 4, 2017

Spider-man Homecoming: Welcome home Spidey to the Marvel Cinematic Universe

by contributing writer Azrin Madin

Friendly neighborhood web slinger Spider-Man is coming to the big screens and this might be the best Spider-Man movie ever. So get your popcorn ready. You wouldn't want to miss this movie.

Official Synopsis:
A young Peter Parker/Spider-Man (Tom Holland), who made his sensational debut in Captain America: Civil War, begins to navigate his newfound identity as the web-slinging super hero in Spider-Man: Homecoming. Thrilled by his experience with the Avengers, Peter returns home, where he lives with his Aunt May (Marisa Tomei), under the watchful eye of his new mentor Tony Stark (Robert Downey, Jr.). Peter tries to fall back into his normal daily routine – distracted by thoughts of proving himself to be more than just your friendly neighborhood Spider-Man – but when the Vulture (Michael Keaton) emerges as a new villain, everything that Peter holds most important will be threatened.

Spider-Man Homecoming is directed by Jon Watts with screenplay by the writing teams of Jonathan Goldstein and John Francis Daley, Watts and Christopher Ford and Chris McKenna and Erik Sommers. It stars Tom Holland as Spider-Man, Michael Keaton as Vulture, Jon Favreau as Happy Hogan, Zendaya as Michelle, Marisa Tomei as May Parker, Robert Downey Jr. as Iron Man, Gwyneth Paltrow as Pepper Potts, joined by Jacob Batalon as Ned Leeds, Laura Harrier as Liz Allan, Logan Marshall-Green as Jackson Brice, Bokeem Woodbine as Herman Schultz, Donald Glover as Aaron Davis and Michael Chernus as Tinkerer.

Some moviegoers may feel they have seen enough of Spider-Man. This is after all Sony Pictures' third attempt at the franchise. So what is special this time?

As some of you folks would be aware, licensing rights for trademarked Marvel characters are spread out amongst various movie studios. The more widely popular successful transitions from comic books to films are the X-Men mutants by 20th Century Fox, the Spider-man saga via Sony Pictures and more recently the Avengers by Marvel Studios. Due to licensing rights, movies by each studio existing in it's own "pocket universe" and thus characters that regularly team-up in Marvel Comics could not happen in live-action productions.

Marvel Studios (red), Sony Pictures (purple), 20th Century Fox (blue), Universal (yellow).
Source: www.thegeektwins.com 

The Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) was launched in 2008 by the first Iron Man movie paving the way for a handful of solo superhero titles leading up to the ensemble team of The Avengers in 2012 to massive box office success exceeding USD1.5 billion . Previous Spider-Man movies typically score the USD $700-800 million mark. No doubt seeing a most lucrative opportunity with Marvel's most popular superhero to swing higher in the box office, Sony Pictures and Marvel Studios revisited the licensing rights for Spider-man in 2015 allowing web-head to be part of the MCU. And that's what makes Spider-man Homecoming so special this time around: Welcome home Spidey to the Marvel Cinematic Universe!

Director Jon Watts (far left) and Marisa Tomei (left) as Aunt May with the "kids": Jacob Batalon as Ned (centre), Tom Holland as Peter Parker (right) and Laura Harrier as Liz (far right).

British actor Tom Holland is the first teenager to play the role of Peter Parker/Spider-Man. Which makes sense. You get a teenager to play a teenager. Why hasn't this been done before with Spider-Man? At only 5ft 7in, he looks boyish and he can perform back, side and front flips. Manohla Dargis of the New York Times, a long time film critic, says “Mr. Holland looks and sounds more like a teen than the actors who've previously suited up for this series”.

15-year old high-school student Peter Parker (right) tries to solve a technical puzzle with his best friend Ned.

We were first introduced to Spider-man in the MCU last year in Captain America: Civil War. Recruited by Tony Stark, he fought along side Iron Man and stole Captain America's shield in his superhero debut. He then traded blows with many of the MCU's veterans is one of the most epic superhero battles on screen. Let's just watch it again, ya?

The Airport Battle: One of the greatest action sequences in superhero cinema.

In Spider-Man: Homecoming, Peter Parker returns from his experience with the Avengers, under guise as the Stark Internship Program, to resumes his high school life. But being left with Stark's awesome Spidey suit, Peter's yearns to prove himself for admission into the Avengers and swings into action as the "neighborhood" Spider-man in New York's suburb county, Queens.

Introducing Stark Industries Spidey suit, A.I. "Karen" included.

After 2 months of mundane superhero-ing after school, webhead gets into trouble with some serious bad guys and learns what it takes to truly be a hero. Enter the Vulture, one of Spidey's iconic villains from the comics.

Find out more about Michael Keaton's villain, Vulture.

Early reviews for Spider-man Homecoming are out now and it seems to be overwhelmingly positive. It is currently sitting at a fresh 93% over at Rotten Tomatoes. Vox has listed 5 reasons why this is the best Spider-Man movie yet. Screenrant says “Spider-Man: Homecoming works as both a (very) funny high school comedy/drama and strong standalone superhero movie set in the MCU”. Newsweek calls it "the best Spider-man movie to date". IGN has rated the movie 8.7.

Tom Holland with Jacob Batalon takes a wefie with Singapore fans during movie press junket in early-June.Take a look at Tom's arm muscles!Photo credit Ore Huiying/Getty Images for Sony Pictures
Whilst locally written reviews are not out yet, listen to At The Movies where Umapagan, Iain McNally and Bahir Yeusuff compare Spider-man movies past and present.

Be sure to stay during the end-credits as well as there will be 2 post-credit scenes. The first scene takes place mid-way and the second at the very end. So when the credits roll, don't leave your seats yet!

Marvel movies are definitely popcorn movies. For your popcorn needs, GSC Cinemas has a cool concession counter combo consisting of one Spiderman: Homecoming Figurine Cup (3 designs) and a regular popcorn.

GSC Cinemas is also offering 2000 pieces of Spider-man keychains at selected locations. Every 4 movie tickets purchased from 6 July will be entitled for 1 keychain (while stocks last).

Over at TGV Cinemas, their Spider-Man: Homecoming combo serves popcorn in a limited edition Spider-man head bucket with a regular soft drink for RM31. They also have a limited edition “Spider-Man: Homecoming” Movieclub card available to new members whilst existing members can swap their card at RM5.

mmCineplexes variant of the popcorn combo offers a Spider-Man Head Tumbler with a 32oz drink (like sucking brains out of Spidey!) and a regular popcorn for RM20.

MBO Cinemas does not have a popcorn combo but instead a mini-Spider-man figurines for RM7.90 and exclusive tshirts for RM39.90 available with purchase of 2 movie tickets. The figurine can also be used to for their Facebook and Instagram contests to win movie merchandise.

They also have their limited edition Spider-man Homecoming Allstar member card. Members are really in for a treat as purchase of only 2 tickets will entitle to participate in the "Be A Spidey" contest to win a holiday package to London plus Sony Experia smartphones. Members may also bid for movie premiums. Find out more directly from MBO Cinemas.

Whilst we can't figure out Spidey's association with London, we do know he comes from New York and Maybank has certainly caught on to this by offering their customers a chance to win a trip to the Big Apple. This Grand Prize is only applicable to new credit or charge card holders though. Existing cardholders can instead redeem free popcorn with purchase of 2 movie tickets from TGV Cinemas using their Maybank card from 6 July. Head over to the official Maybank website for full details on their promotions.

For the chance to win Spider-man Homecoming Movie Premiums, join the KLIPS contest before 7 July. There are tshirts, sunglasses, wallets, Funko POP keychains and more to be won as shown in the visuals above.

Sony Pictures Malaysia Facebook Page contest.
Sony Pictures Malaysia is likely to be giving away similar Movie Premiums via their Facebook Page contests. The first "Photobomb" contest ask to share creative photos ends 6 July whilst the 2nd "Caption" contest to post creative answers ends 13 July.

A giant Spider-man statue at the entrance of Pavilion KL shopping mall.
Photo credit user "anordinarymouse" on www.skyscrapercity.com forum
More of these movie premiums are available from GSC Cinemas through their Instagram contest for Spidey fans visiting Pavilion KL shopping mall in downtown Kuala Lumpur. Post your photo with the giant Spider-man display on Instagram to participate.

As for toys, lotsa official Spider-man Homecoming action figures and role play products from Hasbro are available from major toy retailers like Toys R Us. LEGO also has 2 building sets for the movie.

Hasbro's Spider-man Homecoming toys.

No one is ever too old of LEGO!

Welcoming all Spider-Verse cosplay to a Fan Screening this Thursday 6 July, 8pm at mmCineplex Damansara.
Photo credit John Gullidge.

To celebrate Spider-man coming home to the Marvel Cinematic Universe, Outpost brought together Spidey cosplay fans for a special Fan Screening of Spider-man Homecoming on Thursday 6 July at mmCineplex Damansara, e@Curve. Together with Spiderpools of Malaysia (SPM) and The Ultimate Cosplayers (TUC), this could be the most diverse number of Spider-Verse cosplayers to-date in Malaysia.

Numerous cosplayers attended as Spider-man from Homecoming in Stark-tech suits, plus at least one in Peter's homemade suit. Other Spideys comprised costumes from the original Sam Raimi Spider-man Trilogy as worn by Tobey Maguire (both hero and symbiote editions), Andrew Garfield's Amazing Spider-man 2, comics Ultimate Spider-man, SpiderGwen, Spider-man 2099, Iron Spider and more! Also present were Tony Stark, Iron Man, Captain America, Venom, Vulture, and Mary Jane, with Deadpool crashing the party.

Can you identify all those Spider-men?

Deadpool, it's NOT your party!?!
Fans cheer on Spidey in Homecoming.

Check out more photos from this Spider-Friends gathering at the Facebook Pages of Outpost Productions and mmCineplex. Also thanks to The Star for featuring us in the news; read the online edition here.

For every 2 tickets of Spider-man Homecoming purchased at mmCineplexes, customers can participate in Spin & Win for a guaranteed chance to win goodies like movie merchandise, Spidey tumbler, movie tickets, & more. Get the full details from mmCineplexes website.

Spider-Man: Homecoming swing into in Malaysian cinemas 6 July.

Must-Watch Movie of the Year!

Disclaimer: Spider-Man and other trademarks are copyright to Marvel and/or Sony Pictures, referenced here for fan service announcements without intent to infringe.