TV Review – Dr Who (Cold War) series 7 part 2 episode 3, Aired BBC1 Saturday 13th April

New episode to the season and we see the classic space traveller landing the Tardis on a sinking Russian submarine. The episode is set sometime in the cold war and we see a sudden problem when a random soldier suddenly decides to defrost an Ice Warrior that’s stored in the sub’s hold. Wait… lets slow down. So, the marine, part of the team the captain says are ‘so trustworthy’, simply decides to defrost a ‘precious find’ because he ‘couldn’t wait’? I would hope these trained men would follow orders a little more strictly.

Ah well, so the doctor appears and he rushes around trying to save the day. It’s all very plain. Not many jokes, a little bit of fear, an old monster from the past. Not that it’s a bad episode, but it’s very ‘seen that’. The monster was… ok. The puppet used for the creature’s claws were awfully fake and looked stupid when it was clasping onto the marine’s heads. The rest of the creature looked good though, especially a shot where you see it part in shadow later on in the episode. It’s a bit of a mixed batch. The actions of the creature were pretty cool, I guess. He went on a bit of a rebel streak and the doctor was a little scared. There were just a few unanswered questions, such as: why was he so vengeful? Sure he might be a bit upset he’s been sitting down there for a few thousand years… but you’d get over it. You surely wouldn’t care about some random planet’s problems and decide to destroy the world.

I don’t know, it was an average episode: fairly entertaining but nothing spectacular.

Rating: 4/10

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Film Review: Contagion, Directed by Steven Soderbergh

Every so often these apocalyptic films pop up, sometimes being good (The Road, War of the Worlds and Children of Men) and some less so (The Happening and Skyline). Few of these are films following the progression of viruses (unless you go the way of the Virus-aftermath such as in I am Legend). Perhaps this film can show us why there aren’t many. Contagion was directed by Steven Soderbergh (Ocean’s Eleven) and stars people such as Matt Damon (Saving Private Ryan), Judge Law (Sherlock Holmes) and Kate Winslet (Titanic).  While this movie sounds promising, something must have slipped it up.

The first main issue is that it’s so boring. It tries to show a true depiction of responses of the U.S Centres for Disease Management. By staying true to government reactions it takes the entire scare out of the prospect. It takes you through all of the painstaking details of finding where the disease comes from, stopping the spread, finding a cure and dealing with the dead almost like it’s a government ‘how to’ video. I feel like I should get paid for watching this film; like it expects me to sit with pen and paper taking notes. Not only does it go all official on you, it also spits out medical jargon and chemistry at you. Maybe you can make a film for intellects, but I’m sure even they like to have fun in their movies too.

If the slow paced action wasn’t enough, some of the scenes and camera angles were a bit off, too. You’d be watching one plot thread and it’d flick to a flashback with no real warning. This was perhaps meant to be clever (making the audience work it all out and all that) but it wasn’t clever, just annoying. These flashbacks were linking to one character thread of the several we had to try and follow. The personal character stories weren’t even that good because you never found out much about any one character. The two most likeable characters were, perhaps: Mitch Emhoff (Matt Damon) and Dr. Ellis Cheever (Laurence Fishburne). However, neither of these stories were interesting… I guess Mitch’s was a little touching as an ending note.

Overall, it wasn’t a great movie. Where was the action? Where was the screaming? The plot threads were there, but they were badly written in. Everything tied together to create a bland soup of realism. Bring on the fantasy. A good star cast, but very disappointing.

Rating: 1/10

TV Review – Dr Who (The Rings Of Akhaten) Series 7 Part 2 Episode 2, Aired BBC1 Saturday 6th April

I approached this episode thinking it was going to be too flashy: One local episode with Clara followed by her seeing a whole-new-planet? I thought it’d be too big for its boots and fall, but yet again I was pleasantly surprised. Thee episode struggled for a whole new set of reasons. Not to say it was a bad episode, of course. In fact on face value it was quite brilliant. The bold colours, some slight humour, some touching scenes, kids singing and being sacrificed: a nice soup of episode gold. What brought it down was its… well content?

 
I should explain. Let’s start from the beginning. So, the Doctor and Clara decide to go on a trip to see a far, distant planet (Clara’s first other-worldly encounter). She steps out into a market street full of various aliens. She’s not all that shocked to see the swarms of creatures she’s never seen before… why? Even with the TV and movies I watch about aliens, I think I’d be a little more shocked to see one. In fact I’m amazed enough to see something I recognise from Earth, say a giraffe at the zoo. Anyhow, ignoring that small touch, a short while later and we’ve had a touching scene between Clara and a little girl, the little girl has gotten in trouble, and the Doctor and Clara try to save her.

 
Here’s the first problem. The doctor makes a speech. He says an awesome speech that’s full of emotion, images of Clara looking proudly on (despite being miles away and not hearing, huh…), powerful music behind powerful words, an insight into the Doctor’s thoughts and all the things that makes for a good Doctor speech. The problem here is that the writers seem to be coming to the conclusion that because the speeches are gladly welcomed, that they should include them in more episodes. These grand speeches are meant to make the end-of-series and the special, dramatic, episodes more powerful. They’re meant to be one-off things the Doctor does to warn off enemies and show that he is there to protect all that’s holy and good in the universe. Him making strong speeches everyday just makes them ‘normal’, like giving me an excuse to buy Easter eggs every day of the year because chocolate makes the day better.

 
Ah well, there’s been a speech… I guess it was really powerful and it settled the problem, I guess I could let it slide. But then… the Doctor’s wasn’t good enough! Clara has to get in on the action and add to the speech. She brings out her backstory in a neatly (leaf wrapped) package and adds her own piece. No Clara… while, again, it’s quite nice… we didn’t need more. We don’t need metaphors to say that the doctor isn’t strong enough alone. We don’t need that bit of loveliness added to add to the impact. It was just… tagged on the end so Clara could have her starring role.

 
I don’t know, while I can complain, I did like this episode. While the speeches are annoyingly frequent, this one was very emotional. We also learnt a lot about Clara, which is nice as her character needs some padding out. It wasn’t flashy or too big for itself, and we saw a new cultured planet. So, while I hope the writers stop trying to make each episode epic by just adding in a speech-formula, I also rate this episode quite highly.

 
Rating: 8/10

 

 

Extended(SPOILERS): . Oh, I forgot about the other annoying parts.. like how they just went ‘well this is fairly bad… oh wait.. it was just the alarm clock for THIS THING HERE RAWERRRRR…. and what did it do?.. destroy things? Kill the doctor?!?!… oh… it ate the doctors memories and then ate a leaf. The leaf that that idiot at the beginning pledged his soul to…. riiiight.

Film Review: The Prestige, Directed by Christopher Nolan

This mystery drama came out back in 2006, but I only recently had it suggested to me. Christopher Nolan is more well known for his take on Batman (Batman Begins in 2005, The Dark Knight in 2008 and the Dark Knight Rises in 2012) and I feel The Prestige has been lost under the super-hero hype. The film tells the tale of two magicians in the 19th century. The two become rivals after the death of Robert’s wife Julia in one of their tricks. Both become famous but also obsessed with the others tricks, trying to expose their competition.

As with a few of Nolan’s films, it’s very cleverly made.  The interactions between the two rivalling characters flow smoothly and we can root for either side. Forget ‘Team Edward’ or ‘Team Jacob’; bring on ‘Team Hugh Jackman’ or ‘Team Charitian Bale’. Either side you choose, both characters are great and their plans of sabotage even greater. One of the main interests of the film is getting to see a glimpse of history not really covered in history books: magic. Magic has always entertained audiences and I gain a certain mild inside knowledge as my fathers a magician. This magic knowledge unfortunately let me have a good stab at the ending twist (or fortunately on my count, I find certain sweetness in being able to guess a twist). However, there were still things that were a surprise and the twist is very well done.

Whether you just like Nolan films, or you have an interest in magic… or if you enjoy watching two people try and mess the other’s life up, give this film a shot!

Rating: 9/10

And, for your entertainment, heres a video about Christian Bale that ran through my head as I watched the film: (Contains swearing and cartoon nudity)

Darn my internet-loving friends…