Sunday, 25 September 2011

REVIEW: Doctor Who - Closing Time

Review in a Tweet: Craig returns in this just-for-fun standalone episode. The Cybermen attack but the Corden-Smith comic interplay is the real star here.

Best Line: "Of course! It must be shielded against meta-static energy. Don't worry - I have an app for that." - The Doctor (Matt Smith)

Something for the Girls: a cute baby! Yay!

Something for the Kids: Cybermats! I want one for Christmas!

Something for the Fans 1: Cybermats! I've already got one! These were first seen in The Tomb of the Cybermen with the Second Doctor and mark the return of another monster from the pre-revival years.

Something for the Fans 2: the Doctor plays with a toy called "Yappy! The robot dog! Not as much fun as I remember!" Cheeky little reference to K-9.

Scary Bit: Craig (James Corden) getting upgraded into a Cyberman.

Episode Highlight: the reoccuring 'SSSHH!' gag. Try it on your friends.

DW Confidential Highlight: Smith and Corden making their own Who home videos involving a miniturised Dalek attacking baby Alfie's toys. Corden provides the theme tune. Awesome.

WTF: the Cybermen were defeated by love? Really? At least they mocked this a little bit in the episode.

Hats off to the Writer: Gareth Roberts scripts his fourth episode of Doctor Who. The other three were The Shakespeare Code, The Unicorn & the Wasp and The Lodger. Roberts is king of the light-hearted standalone episodes.

And the BAFTA goes to: Matt Smith putting baby Alfie to bed and lamenting on how old he feels.

Food for Thought: this episode was a lot of fun but a bit of an odd choice for a penultimate episode. It was also the first time since the revival that a series hasn't ended on a two-parter. This isn't necessarily a problem but it puts a lot of pressure on next week to wrap everything up. Good job Moffat will be scripting.



Sunday, 18 September 2011

REVIEW: Doctor Who - The God Complex

Review in a Tweet: The plot is mostly an excuse to bring together lots of primal fears but who cares. Creepy, psychological and claustrophobic. Classic Who.

Best Line: "It's times like this I think of my old school motto: resistance is exhausting." - Gibbis (David Walliams)

Something for the Kids: scary gym teacher!

Something for the Fans: the Doctor's room is number 11 because Matt Smith is the eleventh Doctor. Also, Amy and Rory's house is Tardis-blue.

Scary Bit: the roomful of chattering ventriloquist dummies slowly silencing and turning to face the Doctor.

Episode Highlight: David Walliams. Brilliant as the cowardly, comical and sinister alien Gibbis.

Tearjerker: the Doctor and Amy part ways before he gets them killed.

Hats off to the Writer: brilliant concept. Like a Doctor Who version of Cube.

Hats off to the Director: great shooting of the hotel. Every camera trick in the book was deployed. Especially loved the overhead shots of the winding staircase.

Food for Thought 1: the Minotaur was great and everything but they could have done better. A concept as creepy as this (with clowns, ventriloquist dummies and even Weeping Angels) deserved a better antagonist than another clumsy, prosthetic, silent grunt of a monster.

Food for Thought 2: I bet we see Gibbis again next season.

Friday, 16 September 2011

Marathon Man


I ran my first ever marathon last Sunday in Nottingham and it was a great success. One week later and I'm still high on endorphines!

The first half was a breeze (I've run four half-marathons before now) but things really got interesting during the second half. Aches, cramps, stitches... the whole gruelsome shebang.

And it was so damn windy. We had to run into the wind around Holme Pierrepont lake between miles 19 to 21. I swear I was running on the spot for most of the time.

The stitches were a serious nuisance, most likely caused by drinking too much on the go. In fact, I almost had to walk the final mile. Luckily, a random man with a ponytail gave me some advice towards the end. Basically, you can assuage a stitch if you clench-then-unclench your hand on the opposite side of your body. And it worked remarkably well. Definitely wish I'd known that from the start. In any case, it got me moving again and I nailed that last mile.

I finished in under four hours (3:55:53) which was my aim from the beginning. High fives all round!

All money raised went to the mighty Kids Adventure. And if you have any spare cash then you can still sponsor me here.

Looking back, two things are for certain: the marathon was one of the best things I have ever done and I won't be doing it again in a hurry!


Thursday, 15 September 2011

REVIEW: Doctor Who - The Girl Who Waited

Review in a Tweet: not much fun to be had in this depressing & tragic episode. Great emotive performances by Darvill & Gillan but ultimately a bit of a downer.

Best Line: "I bring you to a paradise planet two billion light years from Earth and you want to update Twitter!" - The Doctor

Something for the Girls: Amy's speech about Rory's beautiful face.

Something for the Kids: Robot Rory with a smiley face!

Scary Bit: Amy left alone for 36 years. Freaky.

Episode Highlight: Amy fighting handbots kitted out in hockey gear with a samurai sword!

Coolest Gadget: a tie between the giant magnifying glass and Clark Kent video glasses.

Tearjerker: old Amy left to die. Sad times.

WTF: Imelda Staunton was the voice of the Interface. Another actor wasted.

And the BAFTA goes to: Arthur Darvill juggling loss, grief and anger whilst still being funny. Give the man an award.

Food for Thought: here we have yet another example of a character coming face-to-face with 'themselves'. We have had Flesh avatars, the Tesselecta and now two Amy's from different timestreams. All of this means that the writers have several Get Out Of Jail Free cards when it comes to writing around the future Doctor supposedly getting shot in the first episode.



Saturday, 3 September 2011

REVIEW: Doctor Who - Night Terrors

Review in a Tweet: a lacklustre, low-budget episode compared to last week. Awesomely creepy dolls & Daniel Mays was great but a bit of a slowburner.

Scary Bit: creepy wooden dolls. Everywhere.

Something for the Kids: the Doctor makes George's toys dance. Lovely!

Something for the Fans: the Doctor mentions Jammy Dodgers again. Continuity!

Episode Highlight: the Doctor bouncing theories off a very bewildered Alex (Daniel Mays).

Food for Thought: Daniel Mays was massively wasted here. He would have been an awesome Master to pitch against Matt Smith's Doctor. Then again, he was the villain in Ashes To Ashes so maybe the BBC wouldn't want him as a bad guy in another long-running TV show. Ah well. There's always Jack O'Connell.


REVIEW: The Skin I Live In

Antonio Banderas reunites with director Pedro Almodovar for this Spanish psychological thriller.

The premise is not unlike the recent barage of torture porn films churned out by Hollywood. As such, we have a helpless victim held captive by a psychopath and put through unthinkable torment. However, this is an Almodovar film and therefore it is very different in terms of both style and tone to a Saw or a Hostel feature.

For starters, the film is very bright: both well-lit and full of colour. Their is even a bizarre few scenes when one of the characters is dressed like a carnival tiger. It is a bit of a strange observation but you would expect most horrors of this nature to have a pitch-black palette, set in dank warehouses or dungeons.

It is also very clean. There are no flying body parts or torture devices. The victim is actually put through very little physical pain. Their suffering is very gradual, systematic and executed with patience over several years. Natually, all of this makes it even more terrifying. Their suffering is prolonged and inescapable, making Antonio Banderas' obsessive plastic surgeon an even more fearful nemesis than Jigsaw.

And standing ovation for Antonio Banderas. After making it in Hollywood, he has starred in over-the-top action flicks, the Spy Kids films and now he even voices an animated cat. So it is great to see him return to a serious role, especially one as dark as this. Banderas has never been so unnerving.

Lastly, no review for The Skin I Live In can end without at least one mention of the twist. It occurs halfway through the film via a series of flashbacks and really up-ends everything you have seen in the first act of the film. The twist is truly haunting (easily the Twist Of The Year) and will stay with you for days afterwards. As such, this film is certainly not for the typical gore-hungry horror fan. But repeat viewings will be rewarded for those interested in looking for subtle clues foreshdowing the big reveal.

In short, The Skin I Live In is further proof that Spanish film-makers own the patent to psychological, character-driven horror. Espantoso!


Friday, 2 September 2011

REVIEW: Doctor Who - Let's Kill Hitler

Review in a Tweet: The Doctor returns with new revelations about River Song’s past against a Nazi-era backdrop. Great twists, a shape-shifting robot and Hitler cameos! Welcome back.

Best Line: "I'm inside a giant mechanical version of my wife. I'm really trying not to see this as a metaphor." - Rory Williams

Coolest Gadget: Sonic cane!

Tearjerker: the Teselecta transforming into River Song, showing Melody her future self. Penny in the air... penny drops!

Something for the Girls/Kids: Rory tells Hitler to shut up! Yay!

Something for the Fans: Rose! Martha! Donna!

Something for the Film Geeks: Melody calls the Doctor 'Benjamin'. This is a reference to The Graduate.

Episode Highlight: Mel getting shot by Hitler and regenerating into Melody!

Hats Off To Moffat: tying together so many loose ends from previous cliffhangers in one tidy (but exciting) adventure.

Hats Off To The Director: the montage of Amy, Mel and Rory's school days was classic.

Food For Thought: the future Doctor got shot at the start of the series, right? By now most people have assumed it was a Flesh replica of the Doctor. But could it also have been a Teselecta copy?