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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Where the spooks get their coffee fix: The busiest Starbucks in the US is also the most secretive

The secret CIA Starbucks

The coffee shop is deep inside the agency's forested Virginia compound
Revealed: How the Establishment closed ranks over fallout from Loch Ness Monster 'sighting'

How the Establishment closed ranks over fallout from Nessie 'sighting'

The Natural History Museum's chief scientist was dismissed for declaring he had found the monster
One million Britons using food banks, according to Trussell Trust

One million Britons using food banks

Huge surge in number of families dependent on emergency food aid
Excavation at Italian cafe to fix rising damp unearths 2,500 years of history in 3,000 amazing objects

2,500 years of history in 3,000 amazing objects

Excavation at Italian cafe to fix rising damp unearths trove
The Hubble Space Telescope's amazing journey, 25 years on

The Hubble Space Telescope's amazing journey 25 years on

The space telescope was seen as a costly flop on its first release
Did Conservative peer Lord Ashcroft quit the House of Lords to become a non-dom?

Did Lord Ashcroft quit the House of Lords to become a non-dom?

A document seen by The Independent shows that a week after he resigned from the Lords he sold 350,000 shares in an American company - netting him $11.2m
Apple's ethnic emojis are being used to make racist comments on social media

Ethnic emojis used in racist comments

They were intended to promote harmony, but have achieved the opposite
Sir Kenneth Branagh interview: 'My bones are in the theatre'

Sir Kenneth Branagh: 'My bones are in the theatre'

The actor-turned-director’s new company will stage five plays from October – including works by Shakespeare and John Osborne
The sloth is now the face (and furry body) of three big advertising campaigns

The sloth is the face of three ad campaigns

Priya Elan discovers why slow and sleepy wins the race for brands in need of a new image
How to run a restaurant: As two newbies discovered, there's more to it than good food

How to run a restaurant

As two newbies discovered, there's more to it than good food
Record Store Day: Remembering an era when buying and selling discs were labours of love

Record Store Day: The vinyl countdown

For Lois Pryce, working in a record shop was a dream job - until the bean counters ruined it
Usher, Mary J Blige and Will.i.am to give free concert as part of the Global Poverty Project

Mary J Blige and Will.i.am to give free concert

The concert in Washington is part of the Global Citizen project, which aims to encourage young people to donate to charity
10 best tote bags

Accessorise with a stylish shopper this spring: 10 best tote bags

We find carriers with room for all your essentials (and a bit more)
Paul Scholes column: I hear Manchester City are closing on Pep Guardiola for next summer – but I'd also love to see Jürgen Klopp managing in England

Paul Scholes column

I hear Manchester City are closing on Pep Guardiola for next summer – but I'd also love to see Jürgen Klopp managing in England
Jessica Ennis-Hill: 'I just want to give it my best shot'

Jessica Ennis-Hill: 'I just want to give it my best shot'

The heptathlete has gone from the toast of the nation to being a sleep-deprived mum - but she’s ready to compete again. She just doesn't know how well she'll do...