Tuesday, 31 December 2013

End of year Doctor Who review.

Alright. The year ends and I’ve got a job to finish. Now I’ve tried reviewing recent Doctor Who adventures all year but life, being what it is these days I’ve never had the chance. Now I do.

So what am I gong to review here. In short; Matt Smith’s last two adventures and whatever I can tag on…

So to begin the 50th anniversary special, Day of the Doctor. I loved this episode, great fun to watch and well written. Tenant slipped back into the role like he was riding a bike, he even still fit the old brown suit (something he and Piper joked about behind the scenes). Smith bounced off both him and Hurt expertly, having buckets of fun along the way laughing at himself. Hurt was going to be my big sticking point, I couldn’t be sure he would be the Doctor or a parody. No disrespect to his acting (he is good) but you need time to create and settle into a role. Coming in for a one off special doesn’t give you that time. I forgot about Moffat’s writing, Hurt hit all the right notes to be one of the best Doctors we never had.

Supporting cast had to pull up their game to match these three and they did. Piper came back, but not as Rose. Big point that. As I’ve said before I hate Rose, she was badly written to start with. While we were told she was kind, and cared all we saw was a silly girl more than willing to sacrifice the whole world for a sleeting selfish moment. Instead of the badly written Rose Piper came back as the Bad Wolf / interface of The Moment. Proving that while I might not like the roles she played Piper is actually a good actress.

Tuesday, 3 September 2013

Linkara's Creative Challange

Okay Linkara (AKA Lewis Lovhaug) An on line video reviewer just posted a creative writing challenge. I've been thinking about this and here we go.

First of all background; during his reviews of comic books both old and new Linkara has vast storylines with some fairly competent plots. Basically it's his way of saying "Yes I can do it too, and better than you" to the comics he reviews. Believe me when I say he really can. Having little to no life to speak of I've been following these storylines for awhile and enjoyed them. 

The challenge is how would you defeat a villain like the Entity? Now the Entity was one of the threats that Linkara has faced. A non-corporal creature with the ability to create glitches in the fabric of reality. Erasing people objects and things from existence at a whim. As it self is a glitch it exists outside of what we would call reality, making it invincible. An unstoppable force of pure chaos it considered itself a Lovecraftian Outer God. Skipping across all realities, inhabiting all and none of them. A true multi-versal being  

Linkara defeated it (spoilers by the way) by using the Kirk method of the logical half nelson. Basically convincing it that it's endless conquering of existence would and could only end with it having to eventually destroy itself. Spurred on by the classic; "If you know everything, tell me what happens when YOU die?" The Entity un-made itself.

So the question is how would I defeat it if I was writing it. The logical half nelson works pretty well, but I'd have gone a different route. Multi-verse theory states that every decision and every possibility must happen, just some where else. The Multi-verse is simple too big. Imagine the million possibilities and decisions we make every second. One person, everything we do is a decision. The amount of ways I could write this article is almost uncountable, and those spelling mistakes I catch and those I don't. So while Linkara's option was "What then?" my first reaction is to point out just how futile the idea is in the first place.

Another option would be the recursive "Why" trick. Just respond to every answer with the question "But why?" Eventually you unravel their intentions to the point where even they aren't sure why they are doing anything. That or when you have the ultimate motivation you shred that with common sense, more logic and of course common sense.

They are still both variations on the same theme, I on the other hand always like to be a little more original. So how would I go for it? Appeal to another Outer God, warning them of the problem and letting them deal with it? Time travel to before it became a threat and lay a trap before giving myself the ability to travel in time, Bill and Ted style? Convince it to divide by zero? Appeal to it's vanity and convince it to spare me in the name of entertainment while it gobbles up all the rest of existence? 

All valid plans, in context at least, but no. They all have too many holes, relying on outside forces that may or may not work. If I was going to gamble I'd gamble big. I'd have challenged it to a game. It would have to be chess, or some other game with strict rules that it would have to agree to, but that's the best alternative. Or mix it with the Kirk method. Talking while playing.

There's enough evidence that this would work, during the storyline the Entity toys with, plays with Linkara as a cat would play with a mouse. It's obviously looking for entertainment. From my understanding of the character it would jump at the chance to prove just how clever it was, how superior. Hubris is often the best weakness to exploit. Even knowing what you're doing your opponent will still walk right into it.

That's my answer to your challenge Lewis. Challenge The Entity to a game:- the winner lives, the loser dies. The game in question however would not be chess, but Yu-gi-oh! Oh and your finishing trick, the item in you're third inventory slot could have been a Kuriboh card… Boom, using the entity's own trick against it!


Friday, 19 July 2013

At Worlds End Review

You ever watched a football match, or Cricket, or any sport really and this happens:- It's your favourite team, they're legendary in your eyes, and been a good match so far. Sure there's something off about the way your team's playing, but you chalk that up to nerves, or that they're playing tactics you're not familiar with. Then, in the last few minutes, the other side scores an equaliser. Your heart's in your mouth as the ref calls extra time. Boom, they come out swinging while your team just flounders. The match is lost and you head down to the pub to blitz the whole thing from your memory.

That is exactly what happens in Pegg and Wright's new film At Worlds End. They had all the ingredients, but in the end it all went wrong. And, more importantly, I can tell you why and exactly where it fumbled. And that's the end of that metaphor, I hope.

Quick summery, and there are spoilers so if you don't want them you've already got my opinion. Good start, fun middle, botched ending but still worth seeing.

Saturday, 15 June 2013

Man Of Steel Review

Trying to review Man Of Steel is more difficult than you might think. You see it's like the egg fried chilli chutney sanwidge (see Red Dwarf) All the ingredients are wrong. The director is wrong, Zack Snyder is only slightly better than Michael Bay when it comes to hack direction. Just see 300 and Sucker Punch. David S. Goyer is infamous for balls-ing up his own scripts. Seriously he might have done the first take on Batman Begins but he is also directly responsible for both the abysmal Blade Trinity and Nick Fury, Agent of Shield (back when it was played by the Hoff. Seriously look it up) So he's hit and miss. Christopher Nolan, most famous for his Batman Films, is great with psychological stuff but that's just an aspect of Superman. Not the whole thing.  On top of that we have a complete reboot of the franchise. Always decisive.

These are all bad ingredients, but together they sort of worked. It's first hurdle was to set itself apart from the Chris Reeve movies, which it did. It's second was to not distance itself too much from the source, again made a good job of that. We got some nice motivation from Zod and Jor-El that played into the overall plot, but not enough exploration of that concept. At least for me, but more on that later.

Spoilers after the Jump but if you just want an arbitrary score, Good film that has it's flaws, but still very enjoyable. If you like action, Superman or just a couple hours of mindless entertainment go and watch but it ain't as good as it could have been

So, Jump

Sunday, 31 March 2013

Doctor Who:-The Bells of St John

Alright, I might as well write a review about this episode. I've tried to write reviews for all the episodes recently but got nowhere with time being a problem. Still this episode deserves an in-depth look. Or at least as in depth as I can get.

First things first, the so called bells of StJohn. Yes it was the TARDIS phone ringing. Next. Well not quite, lets look at this point for a second. The Doctor has retreated to a 13th century monastery and taken up the role of a monk in an effort to find Clara, the woman twice dead. When you have a TARDIS, something that has access to pretty much all the information in the universe, it might take awhile but just throw the TARDIS randomiser on and travel. If you're going to bump into her you will. I love Steven Moffat's run on Doctor Who, but these pointless asides are getting grating.

The whole point was the phone call and the line "Some woman in the shop gave it me, supposed to be the best helpline in the universe." Fan theories are ten a penny as to who gave Clara the number to the TARDIS. Most people betting on River. Me, I'm leaning in the direction of either Amy or Rose. But I'm fairly sure that it's a dead end. It won't effect the overall mystery of who, or how Clara is who she is. Speaking of which, neither will this episode. Other than the Doctor meeting her I highly doubt what happens here is going to have more than a tangential impact on the overall story, much like the giant floating Eyeballs in Amy's first episode. Still they are the focus of this episode so that's what I'm going to look at

Monday, 14 January 2013

Dredd (AKA DREDD 3D)

Trying to write a review of Dredd is sort of difficult. In some ways even more so than Batman or Superman. Just about everyone knows the two DC characters so what about ol' Stony Face?

Well rather than pick a random point in it's history I'm going back to the beginning of the comic that spawned him, 2000AD, and going through a much condensed summery of his background both as a fictional character and how he came about. I'm fairly sure if the almighty Tharg finds out about this he's going to give me an enema with a Rigellan Hotshot for my impudence, but I'll have to learn to do with out sitting.

2000AD kicked off in 1977 when a bunch of writers for the British comic book industry were disillusioned at the lack of any serious story telling in the countries comic industry. The US had a recent boom in underground horror comics that rebelled against the stifling Comics Code Authority (Long story short, an independent group in the US that kept anything more graphic than a bruise locked away where innocent children couldn't learn about them) and we in the UK were still stuck with things like Korky the Cat. Well the boys were, for some bizarre reason comics aimed at girls were far more adult.

Thursday, 3 January 2013

Timothy Dalton, the best Bond?

Alright I'm very late to this party, but on the other hand who cares. One of my presents this christmas was an iTunes Voucher, I know, I'm spoilt here and I used it to FINALLY get the fourth season of Chuck.

While it's not important to me I've always liked the show, just never had the time to get past the third year. So over the last week or so I've been watching the episodes and kicking myself over what I've missed. And the reason why could be summed up in two words:- Timothy Dalton.

Let's shoot, or at least wound, the elephant in the room; Dalton was and still is, in my opinion, the most underrated Bond. Often dismissed as the "oh yeah, him." of the Bonds. Not as infamous as Lazenby, nor as popular as Connery I still think he's one of the best Actors to play the role and deserves to be a lot more recognisable for roles outside of the franchise.

What do I mean by that? Simple; I say Connery and you think Bond. He's iconic in the role, that doesn't mean it's his only one though. Hunt for Red October and Highlander are two very strong roles but in the end he's always going to be Connery and you're always going to think Bond. It's the same as Leonard Nimoy and Spock. He's done hundreds of other roles but he'll always be that iconic character. The key difference is that Nimoy is a better actor.

Sorry he just is, for one if you asked him to play a Russian or Egyptian he wouldn't do it in a board Scottish accent! What does this have to do with Dalton? Simple, he's such a good actor that Bond shouldn't be the first thing you think. He should have a dozen roles fighting for attention. People should be discussing which role was his best and there should be a dozen answers.

Now his role, or roles, in Chuck have cemented this for me but go back and see what he's accomplished. The best way I've found to tell a good actor is to watch as many of their roles and interviews as possible and see where they overlap. Watch Dalton's Bond, then watch Hot Fuzz and throw in a bit of the Rocketter. Chuck shows his range, but I promise after seeing the last two I can forget about Bond. Which is harder than you'd think.

Still I'm going to look at that signature role. The biggest problem playing Bond is the layers. Connery pulled off a hard nosed, womanising killer with a sarcastic sense of humour that always came out when the more ridiculous things happened. Lazenby was the same man, sort of, but looking for a way out. He found that in his short lived wife. Connery's Bond was having too much fun to retire. Moore, well Moore was a wet lettuce. He's my least favourite, the humour was reduced to almost slapstick levels, the plots comical (Moonraker and Octopussy, Really?) and I still feel Moore himself played the role more slimy than smooth. Then came Dalton.

It was the end of the cold war, Russia was no longer the threat it once was and the more criminal elements Bond would go after weren't what they once were. The whole  atmosphere was changing. Now was the time for the old spy looking for retirement plot line, a man out of step with the current situation. And that's what we got, at the same time we got Bond. Datlon's take walked the knife's edge. A man that would do whatever was necessary with charm and skill, while at the same time knowing that his humanity was being stripped a wafer thin slice at a time.

Unlike Moore there's a cold anger to Dalton, while Connery laughed at the more incredible events Dalton made the quip to hide that vain of ice that would quickly turn to lava. Dalton's Bond has done things he's not proud of for queen and country, the shine has worn off. The glitz and glamour has unfortunately given way to the very 80's defeatism. Alright so the films were made in the late 80's but who cares if they were a little behind. They are far from perfect, but Dalton does a bang up job in both and it's a shame he didn't get the third film he was contracted for.

I'd also say he was influential. Both Brosnon and Craig have portrayed a darker, perhaps more sadistic, Bond than before. In some ways a much more flawed version of the role, following in his footsteps. Thanks to Dalton's portrayal James is a lot more human, not to mention more understandable now than the smug, self confidant Moore or the sarcastic, smirking Connery. Still he had the charm, wit, sophistication  and silver tongue necessary to pull off some fairly stunning stunts and cons.

But like I said that's not all. In the Rocketter he played Neville Sinclair. Basically Errol Flynn, if he was a Nazi sympathiser and spy (a whole kettle of worms I'm not going to go into, only to say that the character was undoubtedly based on the allegations). He played the character wonderfully; amoral, selfish and greedy. A monster who played at being a man, living it large in the spotlight at the hight of Hollywood glamour all the while being this dark evil force. As soon as the heroine scratched the surface she revealed the dark core.

Then we have Simon Skinner in Hot Fuzz. Another villain, but a lot different. By running the Supermarket he basically has a monopoly on the small town's shopping and a respected place in the community. While the true bad guys are a cabal of… well let's not give that away… Skinner obviously thinks of himself as the lord of the Mannor, going as far as to declare it his village. Again Dalton pulled out that sardonic wit to literally be the mustachio twirling vaudevillian villain. You can't help but laugh as he doesn't even bother to hide it this time.

Then comes Chuck, in which he plays three different people. The chief bad guy (noticing a pattern, well great actors always prefer that role, it let's them keep their teeth sharp), the bad guy playing a bumbling fool and a regretful father. I wouldn't call it a tour-de-force but it comes close. After all the above to see the character that Dalton ends up playing just proves that he's, after all that, a great actor.

I have to admit that I do feel a bit guilty going on for what is about one and a half pages of A4 about the guy, but the honest truth is I do respect him and feel that he is really under appreciated out there. I've said my piece, I hope I've made my point.


PS I'd be remiss if I didn't mention his stint on Doctor Who as Rassilon himself! While I hate that two parter with a passion that grows even more every time I see it the shear menace and bombast he made in the first half was brilliant. You felt the threat building in his actions and his delivery, while not at all subtile really made his lack of pay off that much worse. Seriously he could have at least walked around a bit. Just because he's talking doesn't mean he should stand around like a statue...