Arts and Entertainment

A riff on a cosmic joke turns this space comedy into something far greater

Will Smith stars in Columbia Pictures'

After Earth 'is worst movie of 2013': Is Will Smith's reign over the summer box office over?

With rotten reviews for father-son sci-fi adventure,  After Earth, the Fresh Prince of Bel-Air's decades-long run of good luck seems to be over

Fifties-set French romcom Populaire fails to convince you that its story is worth the telling

Film review: Populaire - You need more than 140 words per minute to write a decent script

The publicity for Populaire is selling it as "Mad Men meets The Artist", and you can see where it's coming from. Brylcreem, sharp suits and cigarettes by the truckload? Check. Feelgood French tribute to the cinema of a bygone era? Check. But it would be just as appropriate to compare Populaire to every film ever made about somebody competing in a contest, from The Karate Kid to Pitch Perfect.

Yoda's been around for the best part of a millennium

Organisers use the Force as Star Wars and Doctor Who fans clash at Norwich convention

Trouble flared at the fourth Norwich Sci-Fi and Film Convention at the University of East Anglia, which was organised by the Norwich Star Wars Club

Pastoral starring Anna Calder-Marshall as crazy old Moll

Theatre review: Pastoral, Soho Theatre, London

Thomas Eccleshare’s first play won the 2011 Verity Bargate award, so named in honour of the Soho’s founding co-director, and it arrives in London from a season at the High Tide Festival in Halesworth, Suffolk (where I saw it), full of bleak poetry and hilarious stage action.

The Ballad of Halo Jones, By Alan Moore and Ian Gibson

An ordinary superwoman who broke the mould

'What we've traditionally called 'the universe' – the aftermath of 'our' Big Bang - may be just one island, just one patch of space', says Sir Martin Rees

Sir Martin Rees: Six ways to infinity... and beyond

The Astronomer Royal believes humanity's future lies in the stars. But, as he tells Paul Bignell, we will first have to change our ways

Tom Cruise stars in next year's All You Need Is Kill

Ground control to Major Tom... When did Tom Cruise last play a ‘normal’?

Gillian Orr reports on the star’s odd choice of movie roles

The 10 Best free web games

No apps necessary ... here are the 10 finest games you can play online without spending a solitary penny.

DVD review: Argo

In Ben Affleck's true-life thriller, a CIA agent plans to whisk six American diplomats out of Iran in 1980 by claiming that they're a film crew scouting locations for a sci-fi movie.

Editorial: A small step for Ratty, a giant leap for neuroscience

Direct, brain-to-brain communication? Digitally enhanced nervous systems? “Organic” computing? If Professor Miguel Nicolelis has his way, such hi-tech enhancements are not as far off as you might think.

Reddit, and four other things that failed to impress William Shatner

Trekkies on Reddit face divided loyalties as William Shatner, former captain of the SS Enterprise, has cast judgement on the popular forum, claiming it fosters bigotry and racism.

Buffy the Vampire star Robin Sachs dies

English actor Robin Sachs best known for his appearance in Buffy the Vampire Slayer has died aged 61.

Trekkies take on Wikis in a grammatical tizzy over Star Trek Into Darkness

A debate is currently rumbling between two deadly internet factions – Wikipedia editors and Star Trek fans.

Jesco von Puttkamer: Nasa engineer who worked with Wernher von Braun

Jesco von Puttkamer, who died on 27 December at the age of 79, was a member of Wernher von Braun's rocketry team in Alabama. Von Braun and his team's work led to the development of the Saturn V rocket, the rocket responsible for landing the Apollo 11 astronauts on the moon in 1969.

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The Queen of Christmas television?

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Isis hostage crisis: Militant group stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

Isis stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

The jihadis are being squeezed militarily and economically, but there is no sign of an implosion, says Patrick Cockburn
Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action

Virtual reality: Seeing is believing

Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action
Homeless Veterans appeal: MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’

Homeless Veterans appeal

MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’ to help
Larry David, Steve Coogan and other comedians share stories of depression in new documentary

Comedians share stories of depression

The director of the new documentary, Kevin Pollak, tells Jessica Barrett how he got them to talk
Has The Archers lost the plot with it's spicy storylines?

Has The Archers lost the plot?

A growing number of listeners are voicing their discontent over the rural soap's spicy storylines; so loudly that even the BBC's director-general seems worried, says Simon Kelner
English Heritage adds 14 post-war office buildings to its protected lists

14 office buildings added to protected lists

Christopher Beanland explores the underrated appeal of these palaces of pen-pushing
Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

Scientists unearthed the cranial fragments from Manot Cave in West Galilee
World War Z author Max Brooks honours WW1's Harlem Hellfighters in new graphic novel

Max Brooks honours Harlem Hellfighters

The author talks about race, legacy and his Will Smith film option to Tim Walker
Why the league system no longer measures up

League system no longer measures up

Jon Coles, former head of standards at the Department of Education, used to be in charge of school performance rankings. He explains how he would reform the system
Valentine's Day cards: 5 best online card shops

Don't leave it to the petrol station: The best online card shops for Valentine's Day

Can't find a card you like on the high street? Try one of these sites for individual, personalised options, whatever your taste
Diego Costa: Devil in blue who upsets defences is a reminder of what Liverpool have lost

Devil in blue Costa is a reminder of what Liverpool have lost

The Reds are desperately missing Luis Suarez, says Ian Herbert
Ashley Giles: 'I'll watch England – but not as a fan'

Ashley Giles: 'I'll watch England – but not as a fan'

Former one-day coach says he will ‘observe’ their World Cup games – but ‘won’t be jumping up and down’
Greece elections: In times like these, the EU has far more dangerous adversaries than Syriza

Greece elections

In times like these, the EU has far more dangerous adversaries than Syriza, says Patrick Cockburn
Holocaust Memorial Day: Nazi victims remembered as spectre of prejudice reappears

Holocaust Memorial Day

Nazi victims remembered as spectre of prejudice reappears over Europe
Fortitude and the Arctic attraction: Our fascination with the last great wilderness

Magnetic north

The Arctic has always exerted a pull, from Greek myth to new thriller Fortitude. Gerard Gilbert considers what's behind our fascination with the last great wilderness