Category Archives: Film & TV
Its been a difficult few weeks for Star Wars fans who have been rocked by the death of Carrie Fisher. Even more so consider her reportedly large role within the upcoming instalment of the series. Fortunately, the filming for Episode 8 has wrapped and Fisher will be making a posthumous return, but what about the final episode in this trilogy that also considers her role extremely important?
If we take a step back and look at the latest Star Wars adaptation, we can see Disney and Lucasfilms have a potential solution. Peter Cushing or as some may know him, Grand Moff Tarkin was digitally imprinted into Rogue One. Cushing, who died is 1994 was brought back to life by VFX artists and magicians to reprise the iconic role with express permission from his estate. Personally, had I not been told, I wouldn’t have known about this until after the release of the film which prompted a lot of controversy. Towards the end of the film we also witnessed a young Princess Leia using the same technology but was far more apparent.
Its being reported that Disney have already begun talks with Fisher’s estate to utilise her image as Princess Leia so they can finish this trilogy. As of what the talks will consist of or if there will be any script/story changes, we can’t be sure, but its hoped by many that if they come to an agreement, Leia will be done gracefully, not overdone and her role heavily reduced or ended appropriately.
Considering the impact of the character on the universe and the film industry, I can see a deal going ahead. Fisher’s estate owes a lot to the Leia character and the fans that have supported them the over decades and I feel that justice can be done for both Carrie and Leia to round out her career with respectfully.
What do you think of this? Would you like to see Fisher maintain her role through CGI? Let us know in the comment section below!
The biggest film of 2015 is finally here after years, almost decades of an excruciating wait for a true continuation of George Lucas’s original trilogy, something of which would attempt to eradicate the wholly mediocre memory that the prequels imprinted on the Star Wars community, whilst expanding the well and truly cherished universe for a whole new generation of young children who’s experience of The Force Awakens may indeed be their first taste of Star Wars on the big screen. With George Lucas handing directorial duties to renowned sci-fi enthusiast, J.J. Abrams, the man behind the reinvention of the Star Trek series, The Force Awakens was already heading in the desired direction with Lucas finally understanding that money can only go so far and what was truly needed with The Force Awakens was to return to the imaginative and truly immersive spectacle the original trilogy portrayed all the way back with the release of A New Hope in 1977. Has it succeeded? Is The Force Awakens the magnum opus of the Star Wars universe many have proclaimed it to be? Not exactly, but one thing is for sure, it is a resounding homecoming and like the original trilogy, a whole lotta fun.
Beginning once again with the legendary line of “A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away”, John Williams famous overture blasts onto our screens over the scrolling opening crawl that informs us of Luke Skywalker’s apparent disappearance and the rise of the First Order, a seedy, evil faction of the fallen galactic empire who are attempting to discover the location of the lost, legendary Jedi, an opening backdrop much more streamlined than the tax credit political nonsense that The Phantom Menace began with. So far, so good, and the film takes no time at all settling into the introduction of the both the film’s antagonist and protagonist with the Sith-ridden Kylo Ren being introduced through ruthless murder and an understanding of the force similar to that of Vader himself, whilst Oscar Isaac’s Poe Dameron comes across as the cocky, swaggering second shade of Han Solo himself, and already I’m sold. Within the first ten minutes of the film we are exposed to an understanding of the force unlike anything I have ever seen before and this is a riff played extensively upon throughout the course of The Force Awakens, resulting in a villain both ominous and ambiguous who is crippled by, excuse the pun, the force of expectation brought upon him due to his rather muddled family tree. No spoilers here.
Where Kylo Ren proves to be a real win in terms of the evil side of the force, the introduction of Daisy Ridley as Rey and John Boyega as Finn are welcome entries into the Star Wars universe, with Rey particularly being a strong, independent, and well-developed female lead, expanding the rather limited female base of characters established in the universe so far and for that I’m glad. Following in the footsteps of the universally recognised R2-D2 also, is that of BB-8, the orange coated roller-ball who, along with the return of Chewbacca, brings the greatest comedic elements of the film, particularly in a scene where it responds to Finn’s thumbs up which resulted in the entire screening laughing in hysterics. As for the return of the golden-oldies, Harrison Ford’s Han Solo is the obvious winner with him not only getting the greatest screen time, but also the best lines, most of which hark back to the original trilogy or his relationship with his favourite Wookie, a true bromance is ever there was one whilst it is his character which takes the front-line in the film’s most shocking twist, a cinematic moment on par with “I am your father”, and one that is set to send shock-waves across the Star Wars universe.
As for the film’s production, The Force Awakens is a particularly handsome movie with spectacular scenes of vast, endless landscapes, gorgeous looking CGI spaces battles, and a unnerving attention to detail that highlights the love and dedication to which the film has been made with. Where the film ultimately succeeds is in its’ sheer diversity to the prequels, with the dodgy CGI of the early 21st century being totally outclassed with the use of practical, real life props, giving the film that rustic aesthetic which makes you feel these places actually do exist and aren’t created on somebody’s computer, a brilliant change of direction, and one that leaves me reeling for more. For all the film’s brilliance, there are certain degrees of similarity in terms of plot which reduces the film’s overall originality, yet one can afford to overlook such weaknesses and exhale in relief. The Force Awakens is a true return to the magical wonder of the saga’s original trilogy, incorporating new, interesting characters whilst working a winning nostalgia appeal with the return of the series’ most famous faces. A real triumph. How many years until the next one?
Overall Score: 9/10
The hype is real and totally worth it!
Usually in these duo reviews it seems that I’m the one to poke holes in the plot, but I don’t know if I’m “fanboying” too much while mentally blocking most of them out. There isn’t many films that I would say that I’d gladly sit in the cinema and watch again, back to back, but I would for this. If you haven’t yet, go see this film!
As obvious as the statement is, this is undoubtedly a Star Wars film. What I mean by that is that it feels like a continuation of the originally trilogy. J.J Abrams decision to use more costumes and animatronics instead of relying solely on computer effects is a noticeable improvement, bringing a more organic feel to environments and sets.
The return of the previous cast is a welcome sight and a good measure of the passage of time. good to see that none of the previous actors have forgotten their roles despite it being 32 years since they were last in their characters shoes. Moving on to the new characters, as Dan said huge praise for Daisy Ridley’s character Rey, loved the character progression which was done at the right pace. Along with Oscar Isaac’s character Poe which immediately resembled a Han Solo personality and humour but thankfully not to the extent which he mirrors him. John Boyega’s character Finn slightly recalled me to how Luke was in the original film. Its often hinted throughout the film that there is something special about him but he struggles to become it but that’s not say that his character doesn’t also make loads of progression. I’m sure I wasn’t the only one who left the cinema wanting a BB-8 for Christmas. The lovable droid despite only commuting with limited gestures was hilarious and adorable even more so than I dare say R2-D2.
No Star Wars film is complete without the Dark Side. Though I admit I was originally sceptical to Adam Driver as the First Order’s Kylo Ren, however, he did an impressive job…while the mask was on. Without the mask he just didn’t seem as big nor as threatening, yet maybe that was deliberate. What Kylo Ren can do with the force though brings a new evil with the Sith (torture) and I love his character for that.
One little complaint I have would be with Gwendaline Christie’s character, Captain Phasma. Despite being one of the most advertised characters her role was minuscule with hardly any dialogue. She didn’t even fire her blaster once! Hopefully she will have a larger role in the future upcoming films.
The fight choreography is perfect for the setting of the film. No force triple back flips or over the top dance fighting which is how it should be. Every swing has the characters emotion in it, along with the amazing camera work and epic music it creates truly enjoyable fight scenes.
After watching the film you can clearly tell that J.J Abrams is a huge fan of the original trilogy and directed “The Force Awakens” for fans. Its safe to say that he hasn’t let us down at all. There are throw backs to the previous films but not so many that we are chocking on it or that it disrupts the pacing of the story. I am really looking forward to seeing what happens next and hopefully it continues with this momentum.
If this had came out before I did my top 5 this would’ve easily been my number 1!
“None Of This Makes Any Sense!”
As a huge advocate of horror movies in general, this week’s episode of Doctor Who attempted to hop aboard the well-and-truly-used trope train that is the “found footage” genre, a film-making technique that has now begun to strike fear into the heart of many critics who believe the invention of franchises such as Paranormal Activity and subsequent admirers, including this years’ terrible The Gallows, have well and truly sealed the fate of the once ground-breaking mode of movie-making which although came to the attention of many with the release of The Blair Witch Project in the late 1990’s, can be traced all the way back to the release of Cannibal Holocaust in the mid-1900’s. For me personally therefore, “Sleep No More” was bound to be an interesting and slightly off-key episode of Doctor Who, yet the signs were inherently positive from the beginning. Doctor Who meets The Blair Witch Project? Sounds unmissable in my book.
Beginning with a notable dismissal of the opening theme tune and credits, something of which I believe has not occurred throughout the shows’ 52 year history, we are introduced to a spectacle-wearing mystery, a man who appears to be the last survivor of a deserted space station, and a man who is very clearly telling us not to watch any of what is to come in the next 45 minutes. Intrigued? Sure, and add into the equation a minor rescue squad and the rather swift introduction of some rather eerie deathly creatures, this weeks’ episode sets the tone straight away, with “Sleep No More” essentially being Doctor Who meets Event Horizon with a dash of Blair Witch, and it’s rather brilliant. Although it can be easily argued that Who has kind of missed the boat when it comes to embracing the lost art of the found footage genre, it can also equally be argued that with all the nonsensical releases that adhere to such a format released in the past few years, that Who in 45 minutes has accomplished what some feature films completely miss out on, a sense of threat and drama which uses the found footage technique to its’ advantage in creating a spooky and fundamentally organic episode of Doctor Who, of which, I believe, will be one of the most memorable episodes of the Capaldi era in years to come.
Where the episode strangely both succeeds and fails is in its’ attempt to coherently paint a picture of what is actually happening aboard the spaceship, with the Doctor’s ramblings of “None of this makes any sense!” essentially mirroring the exact same feelings from the viewer with Mark Gatiss’ script obviously attempting to be rather ambiguous in a similar vein to last years’ Series 8 episode, “Listen”, a trait I believe will cause some viewers to underrate the episode because of its’ desire to not paint out a whole picture by the numbers and instead leave it dangling by a titillating thread. Ending on a rather spooky cliff-hanger, “Sleep No More” continues the trend of Series 9’s surprising consistency, mixing the found-footage genre in with the sci-fi wonder that is The Doctor and Clara’s ventures around time and space, making it for me personally, one of the best of Capaldi’s reign so far.
Overall Score: 9/10
“You Have Left Us With An Impossible Situation, Doctor…”
This week I have to admit to taking a slight and minor kop-out when it comes to our weekly review of Doctor Who wherein instead of focusing on just one episode, I felt it was plausible to review both stories of the returning Zygon menace at the same time due to not only having all the facts and all the answers to the questions from both parts of the story, but mainly because it fits in rather well with my over-burdened work schedule (Screw you real life!). Returning from their short stint in the 50th anniversary episode, “The Day of The Doctor”, an episode where we were left with the notion that the remaining Zygon threat had successfully been integrated into society via that of a rather flimsy peace treaty, “The Zygon Invasion/Inversion” focuses on the uprising of a rogue Zygon threat, hell bent on releasing chaos throughout the world whilst attempting to break free from the secretive nature of their newly found Earth-based lifestyle. It is no surprise that this season of Doctor Who has definitely been more on the solid and consistent side than those previous with the return of the two-parter no doubt being one of the many reasons why with this week’s story only adding to the quality that has been inherent throughout this year’s entry into the Who canon so far.
The fundamental image that comes to mind whenever the Zygons are on-screen in Doctor Who, whether it be their first appearance in the 1975 Tom Baker serial Terror of the Zygons, or in today’s NuWho, is that of the alien race present in the many versions of Invasion of the Body Snatchers, a tale in which the titular “body snatchers” slowly take over the earth by hatching duplicates of those they have captured and then integrating themselves into society. Sound familiar? Of course, but what this week’s tale effectively managed to do was increase the paranoia and sense of unknown of which the alien Zygon race automatically bring about with them whenever they appear on our screens culminating in a rather spectacular appearance of the “evil” Clara, a Zygon doppelganger of our beloved companion who tortuously attempts to bring about the death of not only Clara, The Doctor and that UNIT, but the entire world, with Jenna Coleman clearly having bundles of fun with her newly found evilness in such a role.
Where part one of this latest Zygon tale sought to show the uprising of the Zygon threat, the second part ultimately concluded in a resolution that not only was similar to that of the discussion that took place between human/Zygon Kate in “Day of the Doctor”, but also gave Peter Capaldi another chance to shine, with his speech in which he describes the horror of war and the consequences it brings being another accolade in the Twelfth Doctor’s already star-studded reign as the travelling Time Lord, a speech both incredibly heart-felt and powerful whilst being incredibly apt for a British audience in terms of its’ relevance to Remembrance weekend. Not only does “The Zygon Invasion/Inversion” show how the two-part format most definitely has added a new level of consistency to NuWho, but it also shows that when a story is given that extra amount of time to breath and to metaphorically spread its’ legs, can result in a quality that may have been absent if squeezed into the relatively short and rather familiar, 45 minute time slot, something of which we seemingly are returning to next week in the Mark Gatiss penned, “Sleep No More”. Will it hold up to the quality of Series 9 so far? We shall see.
Overall Score: 8.5/10
After the enormous success of Sam Mendes’ Skyfall back in 2012, a film which celebrated Bond’s fiftieth anniversary in rather spectacular fashion which not only gained sumptuous critical plaudits but also managed to become the highest grossing movie in the UK to date, any potential follow up was set to be under a huge amount of pressure from the outset, yet the return of director Sam Mendes and the continuation of Daniel Craig as the world’s greatest secret agent put Skyfall’s successor in rather safe hands, strengthened not only by the return of the titular SPECTRE, the seedy, shadowy criminal organisation last featured in Sean Connery’s Bond swansong Diamonds Are Forever, but by the inclusion of cast members such as Lea Seydoux, Monica Bellucci, and the two-time Oscar winning Christoph Waltz. Although the shadow of Skyfall’s success was inherently creeping up on the newest incarnation of 007, Mendes himself made it clear that Spectre was set to be a very different beast indeed, and within all the explosions, helicopter battles, car chases, and secret lairs, Spectre grabs all the best bits of the Bond canon and ramps them up to produce a highly enjoyable blockbuster, reminiscent more of the camp, gadget-induced Bond of years previous whist nicely tying up the plot threads that have been rife since Craig’s first outing in Casino Royale.
After Bond (Daniel Craig) is sent a cryptic message from the past, he is sent on a journey to discover and unravel the secrets of the seedy organisation SPECTRE, a criminal organisation at the heart of Bond’s past. Whilst M (Ralph Fiennes) battles forces in London with the newly appointed C (Andrew Scott), the head of the newly created Joint Intelligence Service, Bond seeks out the truth behind SPECTRE with the help of Madeline Swann (Lea Seydoux), the daughter of an old foe, in an attempt to destroy the organisation’s evil deeds once and for all. If Skyfall came across to the audiences as a much more elegant, character and emotion driven piece of cinema, helped directly by the handy-work of not only the acclaimed Sam Mendes but the long awaited Oscar recipient, Roger Deakins, then Spectre attempts to completely divert away from repeating the trick once more and attempts to go full on 80’s Bond mode, with much more action set pieces including a brilliantly tenses opening scene and a bruising and bloody fight on a sleeper train, nodding back to Bond’s fight with Grant in From Russia With Love. Aside from the abundance of action and wasted ammunition, we witness Bond well and truly stamp his passport with him travelling across the globe from Mexico City to Rome, from Austria to Morocco, all of which are beautifully shot by Interstellar cinematographer Hoyte van Hoytema, eventually leading back to the capital city of London for the final act.
With Christoph Waltz on the payroll, Spectre was inevitably going to buildup to certain revelations regarding the character of Franz Oberhauser, all of which were done in an overly entertaining and eye-winking manner, something of which as an overtly dedicated Bond fan, I couldn’t resist from laughing at with sheer joy, particularly when we are treated to a shot of a rather fluffy particular breed of household animal. Although Waltz isn’t in the film long enough at all, the camera is completely transfixed with his eerie demeanor each and every time he appears, starting with a completely blacked-out board meeting in which he quietly whispers instructions to his dedicated servants, and resulting in a tense revelation scene within the confines of a 21st century update of a well-established Bond lair, complete with hideously ludicrous torture equipment, and the coincidentally accessible escape vehicle, all of which our favourite super-spy uses without question. Kudos to the film-makers for not choosing to kill off our underused villain, restoring faith in the notion that you can’t have too much of a good thing. See you around Mr Waltz.
Uproariously entertaining and extremely watchable from the outset, Spectre fundamentally wants to be everything that Skyfall wasn’t, with an abundance more amount of action, brilliant comic timing from the likes of Ben Whishaw as Q and Fiennes as M, with one scene in particular with C bringing the whole audience to a spout of laughter, and a much more laid back temperament, harking back to the gadget strewn Bond era of Moore and Brosnan, with Craig ultimately having fun with the role as the world’s great agent, who this time does get the girl in the form of Leas Seydoux’s Madeline Swann, a rather perfect match for our battle-worn Englishman, who breaks from the reigns of cliched Bond girls and actually comes across as a three-dimensional, intelligent female in the land of Bond. Who would have thought? If this is to be the last round for both Craig and Mendes, it sure is a fine way to call it a day, with Spectre being pretty much everything a Bond fan in the 21st century would want from the opening credits. Farewell Mr Craig and Mr Mendes, it’s been emotional. Unless you do one more. Please. Please do.
Overall Score: 9/10
Bond Is Back! (Couldn’t help myself with that) to finish what was started all that time ago in Casino Royale (2006), which luckily I decided to watch the previous night at 01:00 in preparation, and if I had the time I would have watched Quantum of Solace and Skyfall but I digress. In terms of Spectre therefore, I have to start with that opening. It isn’t a Bond film without a slow song mixed in with silhouette ladies dancing along. I personally loved it with the visuals mixing in well with Sam Smith’s chart-topping single “Writings on the Wall” which felt like it was written directly for the film and is one of the reasons why I am listening to it now non-stop as I write this review. Back to gadgets (*Face palm*) where despite in Skyfall Q saying they had gone past explosive pens and other absurdities, here we are only one film later with explosive watches! A problem with gadgets is that they are always used in obvious situations and act almost like the “get out of jail free card” on a monopoly board, resulting in such tropes feeling as if the film-makers were trying to justify product placement by giving it an actual role, which of course will result in hundreds of people attempting to buy such objects (Yes, I did have a look myself).
Daniel Craig’s Bond this time feels much more refined than he was in Skyfall with Craig being back in top form in both athleticism and wit, therefore being much more comparable to previous Bonds instead of the raw violence seen in his previous outings. Oscar winner Christoph Waltz’s performance as Oberhauser was enjoyable to watch however, I was disappointed with how the character was written. It seems we are back to villains seemingly playing tempestuously with their food (James Bond) who in the meantime share their master plan away whilst giving too many chances for the hero to escape. I mean come on, what was the point of that torture scene, a scene which felt weak in comparison to Casino Royale’s chair and bollocks scene, with Spectre’s particular torture scene having few too many chances where Bond could easily slip his head out from the chair. Throughout the course of the movie, Oberhauser had more than enough chances to put a bullet in him and even had the chance to destroy him once for all in the final act. I mean why not set the bomb for 2 minutes and fly away instead?
The car chase with Mr Hinx (Dave Bautista) was a fairly big disappointment with it being more comical than action based, with the chase itself rife with comical perseverance in which it hardly showed what the cars are capable of. Another example of undermining the action for comedy would be in Mexico City, in which we witness Bond falling through decaying buildings only to land square on a conveniently placed sofa. Yes comical, however incredibly childish. Not all of the action within Spectre was lacklustre however, with the fight scene with Mr. Hinx (Dave Bautista) in particular being by far one of my favourite scenes of the movie, with the sheer amount of destruction against a towering foe is what I love about Daniel Craig’s portrayal of Bond. Furthermore, some of the jump-cuts between locations felt unexplained with vital clues seemingly being partially pulled out of a hat, making following some parts of the plot very difficult, to an extent that I would have to re-watch it in order to understand it completely, with the major one for me being linking the previous Bond villains just with single ring. I mean if it was the symbol on the face of the ring couldn’t they have linked all of these previous threats before without the ring? Surely so with one of them actually managing to kill the the previous “M” and blow up MI5.
Spectre seems to be returning Bond to its’ organic roots, with more wit than destructive violence, and with gadgets popping up Bond’s sleeve and into his car, something of which the old Bond fan in me loves, however it isn’t the Bond film I was expecting with Daniel Craig. Yes, you could argue that such tropes and traits is the result of his character growing into the older Bond we know, however his violent side was what we loved about him in the 21st century. Although the plot does seem to jump around quite heavily and it features some poor 1940’s villain writing, Spectre was highly enjoyable but I hope that’s that with Daniel Craig’s portrayal of Bond, with Spectre being a good note to leave Bond behind, particularly with Craig’s recent outbursts about regretting being Bond in the first place.
Overall Score: 7/10
As Dan has so elegantly described, Spectre harks back to its origins with its classic villains, witty banter and excessive action scenes. It was a very enjoyable film and sits as a very good blockbuster but personally, its sits outside of Daniel Craig’s Bond. When Craig first appeared on the scene, audiences were skeptical. A blonde hair, blue eyed Bond was very much out of the ordinary but he turned that around with Casino Royale and reinvigorated the series with a sense of realism and darkness that we’d never seen before in this particular universe. In Skyfall we actually get a far grittier and darker tale. Javier Bardem is his usual fantastic self, creating an extreme threat that even worries Bond and puts him through hell. Christoph Waltz in Spectre is the apparent mastermind behind the operation and Bond’s cruel luck that has seen him dragged through hell, but in reality, he isn’t scary. His background story is so cringe worthy, it seemingly fell from the latest teen flick, full of teen angst and jealousy of another child. Josh also speaks volumes for the progression of the story. It often felt that we moved too quickly. Links were being established and any sort of reasoning behind it was ignored. A simple ring linked to every villain Bond has faced so far through a somewhat over complicated scanning device and being the longest one so far, you’d suspect that it wouldn’t have been such an issue.
The classic Bond element didn’t hit me. After Skyfall, a lot could have been done and I feel that choosing to stray from the metric was a really poor idea. Daniel Craig has also been very vocal about not wanting to play the character any more as he hates him. It seems as if this is the straw that broke the camels back. The dramatic shift from a character torn apart by loss and the realities of his job only to be swept under the rug and made jolly with a lot of sarcasm and a new women. As a Bond movie, it was great. For a Daniel Craig Bond flick, it was alright. Visually the film is stunning and the action scenes were fantastic. The Aston Martin DB10 should have got a little more show time for the press it received but what little of it we saw was great fun. Some points with the awful taste in music of 009 and the empty ammo canisters screamed fond memories of Rowan Atkinson’s Johnny English and classic bond humour. The opening’s explosive Day of the Dead scene with the aero-acrobatics of a helicopter over the heavily populated area was amazing. Its not something we see very often and will probably sit with me for quite some time as one of the best stunt scenes of recent years. Although these are the guys who received the world record for most rolls of a car in a single take from Casino Royale so its fairly understandable that they could pull something like this off.
However, Spectre did have its cheesy moments, the final scene on the bridge in particular shunned the Bond of the past for Rom-com Bond. For me, I sit right on the wall. The run up and the hype was all well and good but I expected a darker, more emotional tale with a villain that was truly genius and mad as can be. What I got was a throwback to the classics that was fun but didn’t bowl me over. Visually and musically the whole spectacle was awesome and Sam Smith’s “Writing’s on the Wall” is an amazing theme song, albeit not as powerful as Adele’s “Skyfall” or Chris Cornell’s ” You Know My Name” but it captured the essence of what I really wanted from this.
Pete’s score – 8/10
Overall Score: 8/10
“I Should Have Stayed At Mum’s…”
When it comes to a juggernaut of a release such as Spectre, there is always a few films that attempt to grab the minorities attention and attempt to sway them away from Mr Bond and his exploding watch. Unfortunately for those who part of such a minority, one of the few films release side-by-side Spectre this week is Paranormal Activity: The Ghost Dimension, the newest and supposedly last incarnation of the well-worn found footage franchise that began all the way back in in 2009 with Paranormal Activity, which to be fair was rather creepy and overtly intelligent, satisfyingly so considering its’ tightrope budget was well and truly recuperated around a million times over by audiences via word of mouth and critical praise rather than overblown advertisements and propaganda. Once the first film was seen as a highly effective money-making scheme, producers decided to repeat the process over and over and over again with The Ghost Dimension proving to be the final nail in the coffin of the original which in effect has been completely tarnished by the reputation of its’ successors.
Paranormal Activity 2? Pants. Activity 3? Bit better. Activity 4? Real pants. The Marked Ones? Completely pointless. Am I missing anything? Do I care? No. Neither seemingly do the film-makers of The Ghost Dimension who seem not to realise that the overly boring setup of found footage films nowadays is really starting to become rather grating with The Ghost Dimension ticking all of the many boxes of what you expect with such a movie. People filming the house? Check. Cleaning the lens? Check. Wobbly, shaky, running scenes? Check. Camera catching no-so-creepy entity and then people looking at it again therefore repeating the same scene twice just so our so called cast can catch up with stuff we have already seen? Check. Get the picture? The one redeeming feature of The Ghost Dimension is that it puts to bed the overly tedious and overstretched plot-lines that apparently connects all of the Paranormal series, something of which I couldn’t care less about but does make me happy that we will never see any shaky-cam captures of the demonic and stupidly named Toby ever again.
Overall Score: 2/10
“You’ll Have To Remind Me, What’s Sorrow Like?”
If last week’s episode of Doctor Who attempted to cram in as much craziness as humanly possible, with electric eels, spider mines, testosterone craving alien race, and of course, Arya Stark, then this week’s concluding half of the story of Ashildr, was much more composed and carefully designed to focus on the possibility of immortality from someone else’s point of view, rather than that of the wandering Time Lord who seems all too secure with the notion that he may just carry on travelling around the galaxy for eternity. What “The Woman Who Lived” attempted to embrace was the notion that immortality and the chance to live throughout Earth’s long and arduous history is in fact a terrifying nightmare, with young Ashildr, played tremendously once again by Game of Thrones’ Maisie Williams, facing the fact that all her gift brings her is heartbreak and pain. Kudos must surely go to not only the writers and the actors, but the general distributors of this particular episode in the form of the BBC who even though are continued to be getting a hard time in the press, continue their argument for success with the balls out approach in releasing an episode of Doctor Who that wasn’t all spaceships and mud monsters and instead focused on the coldness of loss and the painful nature of death.
Such a notion of death and loss was clearly emphasised to reach out to the impending departure of Jenna Coleman as long-serving assistant Clara Oswald, who even though only showed up in the last few minutes of this week’s episode, had just enough screen-time to emphasise that her bubbly demeanor and classy Blackpudlian accent will well and truly be missed by everyone, particularly The Doctor himself, who ended the episode staring at our beloved companion with a sense of sadness in the knowledge that he well and truly knew the answer to Ashildr’s question of how many Clara’s had been lost throughout the Doctors’ own long lifespan. Ultimately, the slight reservations of the episode was when it duly swerved off course from the deep characterisation study and then remembered it was in fact a science-fiction show, resulting in a concluding act that felt rather rushed and wholly out of place for an episode in which the first half was truly something rather genius in retrospect and different from the usual swing of Doctor Who, something of which we look like getting more of next week with the return of the Zygons. Solid Who once again, this season is one to keep an eye on.
Overall Score: 8/10
“Immortality Means Watching Everyone Else Die…”
Five weeks into this latest series of Doctor Who and it is fair to say that this week’s episode, written two-fold by both chief writer Steven Moffat and Jamie Mathieson, the mastermind behind two of last series’ best episodes in “Mummy On The Orient Express” and “Flatline”, is completely bonkers. Not only are we rushed straight between space, spider mines, and Vikings within the space of five minutes, but “The Girl Who Died” also featured not one, but two fake reincarnations of Odin, with the latter screaming an oath to Valhalla in a similar vein to the War Boys in Mad Max: Fury Road, an alien battle fleet known as the Mire, and Game of Thrones’ Maisie Williams as the mysterious Ashildr, who although carried speculation of being someone of vital importance to the Doctor such as Susan Foreman or someone of similar familiarity, simply was in the end, a Viking girl, albeit a rather extraordinary one who is set to feature quite a bit in the concluding part next week.
In the midst of all this complete and utter mayhem, which although was pretty darn fun from the outset, resulted in a overly flashy, if rather underdeveloped episode in terms of certain aspects such as character development and plot threads (I mean is it just me, or did the reasoning behind the creation of the massive eel thing seem rather brushed over?), is the performance from Peter Capaldi who once again showed the flawless nature in which he can divert his incarnation of the travelling time lord from the humorous, sarcastic stick insect, to the snarling, emotion-riddled old alien that he is, with the speeches in which he explains the curse of immortality and the realisation of why his face is something in which is overly familiar, a real standout of the episode. As for immortality, this week’s cliffhanger showed how such may have affected one young viking girl in particular with next week once again setting up a whole new range of questions that need to be adequately answered. Man, I’m glad these two-parters are back.
Overall Score: 8/10
“Beware Of Crimson Peak…”
Sometimes a film can be so incredibly mouthwatering and exciting, whether it be a release from a new favourite director, a return to acting from an esteemed actor or actress, or even something as minute as a certain film featuring a song that you admire on the soundtrack, (take Muse on the World War Z soundtrack for instance; a mediocre movie but one that holds a place deep in my heart for the use of one Muse song) that no matter what the final result is in terms of the film’s overall critical appeal, such a film is always set to be brilliant in the eyes of a small contingency of followers. In the case of Crimson Peak, the hype-train was well and truly boarded months back when I realised the core ingredients was made up of director and writer Guillermo Del Toro, the visionary mastermind behind the pretty-much perfect Pans Labyrinth and other horror pieces such as The Devils’ Backbone and The Orphanage, if only on production duties, and the holy trinity of recent acting favourites of Mia Wasikowska (Stoker), Tom Hiddleston (The Avengers, Only Lovers Left Alive) and Jessica Chastain (Zero Dark Thirty, The Martian). Sound too good to be true? Indeed, with Crimson Peak not being a case of complete disappointment, but something that seemingly had all the tools to become a masterpiece on the same level as Pans Labyrinth yet ultimately, has failed to become so.
After the idealistic young novelist Edith Cushing (Wasikowska) falls in love with the dashing, if rather mysterious Sir Thomas Sharpe (Hiddleston), much to the disdain of her father Carter Cushing (Jim Beaver), she decides to accept his hand in marriage and follow him to his place of residence, the rustic, ancient Allerdale Hall in Cumbria, England, home not only to Thomas but to his sister Lucille (Chastain) who is reluctant at the thought of her brothers’ choice in marriage. Living in the screeching, clay-ridden confines of Sharpe’s mansion, Edith begins to witness a wide range of activity from both the abnormal and paranormal, with her husband and newly proclaimed sister-in-law perhaps hiding their true intentions for Edith and her involvement in the prophetic notion of the cryptic and titular Crimson Peak. In terms of the films’ successes, both costume and production design are enigmatic and entirely flawless, with the construction of the dying, decomposing Allerdale Hall being a sight to behold and arguably being the star of the show, with the design being made to within an inch of its’ life and surely bringing with it a well-deserved Oscar nod and hopefully, win.
Within the success of the production, it’s a shame that Del Toro couldn’t spend a similar amount of time on the script, with the plot to Crimson Peak being rather cliched and wholly un-original, something of which made the surprises not entirely surprising and the creepy, if rather obvious foreshadowing. rather plodding, resulting in a conclusion that was quite inevitable, something of which I can’t can’t quite comprehend from the director and writer of the wonderfully complex and deliciously dark Pans Labyrinth. Even with the minimal plot in hand, each of the three leads make the most of the script they are given and fully embrace the Gothic romantic nature of the film’s tone, with Wasikowska and Hiddleston being undeniably perfect in their casting, albeit if sometimes the chemistry between the two did seem rather off, perhaps due to the ambiguous nature of Sharpe’s true intentions. Pans Labyrinth it is not, but Crimson Peak remains a rather gorgeous experience in terms of its’ visual presentation yet suffers from a rather underwhelming script, resulting in a flawed but fun piece of cinema that manages to explore the heavily-examined Gothic theme in the hands of Del Toro.
Overall Score: 7/10
“Who Composed Beethoven’s 5th?”
Beginning this week’s latest episode of The Doctor’s travels in time and space was an unusual change of atmosphere with the fourth wall being well and truly broken by Mr. Capaldi in a vein that heavily reminded me of John Normington in The Caves of Androzani when, after misunderstanding the script and stage direction, directly addresses the viewer with his lines, much to the enjoyment of both the producers and die-hard Doctor Who fans across the globe who all agree in coherence that Peter Davison’s farewell was rather splendid indeed, with that scene in particular being one to remember. Although “Before The Flood” is not entirely in the league of classics that include “The Caves of Androzani”, the concluding part of Toby Whithouse’s two-parter definitely attempted to stir the brain-cells with more mind-bending timey-wimey action, a frightening, if underused, monster-of-the-week, and a final moment to ponder upon cemented around the confounding notion of The Bootstrap Paradox, a theory in which the fourth wall was shattered down and explained to the audience by the guitar-wielding Twelfth Doctor of whom we all are beginning to cherish and love.
If last week’s episode upped the ante on the scares and solidified a focus on character development, aiming towards more of a direction of horror, then “Before The Flood” chose to replace such with full-out monster mayhem; think Aliens rather that Alien, with The Fisher King being a ominous presence from start to finish, who although seemed way too much of a physical threat for The Doctor and co, was defeated in roundabout fashion, linking back to one of the questions that was being asked right from the start of Whithouse’s two parter; what or who is in the stasis chamber? Surprisingly, all of the remaining questions that were left hanging at the conclusion of “Under The Lake” were all dealt with in a satisfactory fashion, particularly the origin of The Doctor’s ghost form and the real point of the creepy apparitions in the first place. Where the episode ultimately succeeded however, was the way in which the origin of the Bootstrap Paradox, in which the legend of Beethoven was well and truly questioned, fashionably attempted to cover all the holes opened wide by the timey-wimey nature of Whithouse’s script, emphasised by the final shrug and smirk of the Doctor, who, like us, must have been pondering on whether his meddles in time and space actually do make sense after all.
Overall Score: 8/10