Tuesday, 27 December 2011
Doctor Who was a bit odd. I don't mean odd as in strange or weird as its normally strange and weird. I mean odd as the story was a bit more straightforward than what I've come to expect from Stephen Moffat. Then again, maybe I'm getting used to his stories.
In any event it concerned the doctor crashing to earth in 1938 in a borrowed space suit and being helped by a lady played by Claire Skinner. He promises to help her in return, all she has to do is wish. Yeah.
So it's 1941 and she's had a telegram to say her RAF husband is missing presumed dead. She and the kids end up at a big house in the country wher the doctor is playing the part of the caretaker.
To cut a long story slightly less long, one of the kids goes through a present to a snowy tree world and disappears while following a wooden tree person.
Ok, that is a bit weird, I'll grant you that.
The doctor and the other kid follow and then the mum follows them. It turns out they are on Androzani Major (in a bit of name-checking to the last Peter Davidson story) and the bad humans are about to kill the trees with acid rain and the tree souls take refuge in Claire Skinner who pilots a big globe thing through the time vortex back to earth. And it turns out her husband isn't dead as he follows her trough the vortex as well.
So that's all ok, it's fine, not bad, I think as I look at my watch.
Then it goes brilliant as Claire Skinner convinces the doctor to go tell his friends he's not dead. He arrives outside Amy Pond's house and knocks on her (TARDIS blue) door. Amy answers and they stare at each other for a bit.
'So, you’re not dead,' Amy says. 'And a happy New Year,' smiles the doctor, embarrassed. 'River told us,' Amy finally reveals.
Karen Gillan is in full Amy frown mode. Is brilliant. That couple of minutes of them standing at the door makes me realise how sad it will be when Karen leaves next year. Sniff.
So, on to Downton Abbey.
According to the tv listings the episode lasted 2 hours. It probably did but in some ways it seems to have lasted about a week. There must have been about 27 advert breaks in it. Ok, 27 is an exaggeration. It was probably only 24.
For such a long running time not much actually seemed to happen. The main plot thread concerned Mary's impending marriage to Iain Glen, that actor bloke with the cool voice. It turned out that he was blackmailing her to marry him. As long as they were to be wed he was preventing the scandal getting out. You know, the scandle about her and the Turkish gentleman who went and died in her bed?
She discovers her dad knew about it when he tells her not to marry Iain Glen. Then she tells Wet Matthew. You remember Wet Matthew? He's the one who was paralysed in the war and then 'got better'. He was the one engaged to that nice Miss Swire who made the deathbed plee that he should get together with cousin Mary in order to be happy. Which then prompted him to go off in a huff and say that he could never marry cousin Mary and never forgive himself, etc.
Well, guess what? He's forgiven himself and asked cousin Mary to marry him. Honestly, you can't rely on him to make up his mind at all.
What helped the episode immeasurably was the complete absence of Lady Sybil and the Irish chauffeur. Let me state that I have no problem with the actress ho plays Sybil as she is quite pretty, and I don't object to the character. But that story line where she and the Irish chauffeur hooked up after displaying zero chemistry felt like a crudely engineered plot development that was jammed into the script as an afterthought.
Some other stuff happened involving a dog, and Bates was found guilty for murder much to the other character's surprise. Bates and his wife became slightly more interesting characters as they had to do all their scenes together in prison, and him in period manacles.
So, a slightly longer post than intended.
Saturday, 24 December 2011
Monday, 19 December 2011
Sunday, 18 December 2011
On Christmas Day there is of course Doctor Who on BBC1 at 7pm. I expect there will be lots of running around and a soppy ending. Flying sharks will be unlikely this year. That's so 2010.
Later that evening there is a two-hour special of Downton Abbey. If there isn't anything better on I expect I'll give it a go while eating After Eights and Terrys Chocolate Orange segments.
(I'm still a bit miffed that they killed off the nice Miss Swire in the last episode. The poor thing had doomed written all over her the moment she turned up with Wet Matthew.)
Anyway. Back on the BBC from Tuesday 27 December to Thursday 29 December we have a new adaptation of Charles Dickens Great Expectations. Do we need another one so soon since the last one in 1999? Maybe not, but we're getting one and I'll be watching. Gillian Anderson (returning to Dickens after 2005's Bleak House) plays Miss Haversham. But here's a photo of Vanessa Kirby as Estella, mainly because she looks prettttyyyy.
Finally on New Years Day we can look forward to the return of Sherlock and the long awaited event that is Lara Pulver as Irene Adler. I expect I'll have something to write about that.
Monday, 12 December 2011
Therefore I spotted what was some unexpected good news online this morning, namely the discovery of two more missing episodes of 1960s Doctor Who. It had been a number of years since an episode was discovered and the count of missing episodes now stands at 106.
The episodes discovered were from the William Hartnell story Galaxy Four and the Patrick Troughton story The Underwater Menace. Hopefully this will inspire film buffs to double-check their attics for episodes from The Power of the Daleks or The Wheel in Space!
Wednesday, 7 December 2011
The new episodes are due in the new year, but just to confuse things the new Sherlock Holmes movie is also imminent.
Monday, 28 November 2011
On BBC4 we have the followup to critically acclaimed The Killing. Nordic angst, grisly murder, chunky jumpers, frowning. And a double-bill no less.
On BBC2 we have fluffy frothy pretty but empty Pan Am, Mad Men lite as it were. It's got pretty air hostesses in the 1960s wearing fetching blue uniforms. And a double-bill no less.
For the first night of The Killing I decided that it would get my vote. Bring on the murder and the frowning. I thought the first episode was pretty good. But half-way through the second one I found myself stuck in a political meeting and with a shock I realised I was bored. So I gave up on The Killing half-way through episode 2.
Then this weekend I decided to pick up with episode 3, get back in the game. Bring on the jumpers and the angst! Very quickly thereafter I found myself in another political meeting and I realised I was bored. I quickly turned over to BBC2 to watch Pan Am. Yes, it was fluffy and frothy and empty, but in a pleasant way. The girls were pretty and looked good in their blue uniforms. There was even some sort of spy plot involving Goran from ER.
So until there is a director's cut of The Killing with all the political meetings removed my vote will be with Pan Am.
Tuesday, 15 November 2011
Tuesday, 8 November 2011
The fact that Christina Ricci was on the cover in a 1960s air hostess uniform might have had something to do with me picking up the magazine in the first place...
Saturday, 29 October 2011
It's a while since I've seen Rebecca in a mag so it's nice to get an update on what she's been working on. Her next role is the lead in a 1920-set ghost story called The Awakening which is released in November.
Thursday, 27 October 2011
I'll be honest, I only bought it because there was a photo of the three Crawley sisters on the cover. I suspect it's largely to do with my strange and increasing attaction to the middle sister Edith.
Regardless of my motivations for buying said magazine here is a fairly good quality scan of the cover featuring Laura Carmichael, Jessica Brown Findlay and Michelle Dockery.
There are some actual words in an article about them inside the mag but I didn't bother scanning those.
I might tune in next Sunday night for a few minutes to see if Edith gets off with the Titanic guy.
On Monday the news broke that it seems she's had a change of heart. Wednesday's Telegraph newspaper had an interview with her and here's an excerpt.
London 2012 Olympics: heptathlete Kelly Sotherton aims to finish athletics career on a high despite losing funding
You can read the whole article at:
It remains one of the harshest verdicts ever bestowed by a coach on his own athlete. In 2004, an emerging British heptathlete named Kelly Sotherton won Olympic bronze in Athens. Yet the first thing that everyone remembers about that breakthrough result is Charles van Commenee denouncing her as “a wimp”.
Monday, 24 October 2011
At first Downton won that battle. But as the episodes went on I was unsettled to discover that it was actually, whisper it, a little bit rubbish. Meanwhile I was enjoying the non-live episodes of Spooks a lot more than I thought I would.
After week 4 I did the "switch". Now Spooks would be watched live and I would get around to Downton later. Probably.
Episode 5 of Spooks was a pretty good one. The gang kidnapped a CIA guy because they reckoned he was up to no good. This called for some action with Lara Pulver hanging out of a car firing a gun. Her cheekbones were looking particularly lovely in that episode.
After the cliff-hanger ending (Harry captured by bad Americans!) I turned over to ITV1+1 (I think) to watch the later broadcast of Downton.
I lasted about 10 minutes before I turned the TV off in disgust. That was just after Mary dropped her cup of tea juxtaposed with Matthew going over the top.
I mean, really...
I came to the sudden conclusion that I didn't care about any of the characters (with the possible exception of the middle daughter Edith who I am finding strangely more attractive as time goes on). I don't care about Bates and his on-off wedding with the maid lady. I don't care about the Irish chauffeur and his working man speeches. I certainly don't care about Matthew and Mary
So I skipped the rest of episode 5.
Sunday, 2 October 2011
And the problem is that it's always 5:02pm on 22 April 2011 because time has gone "wrong". All of history is happening at once, so Winston Churchill is the head of the Roman Empire and Charles Dickens is being interviewed on Breakfast TV about his next Christmas Special.
It's all because River Song didn't shoot the doctor in Utah. Two versions of history have come into existence and it's all a mess.
The doctor describes to Churchill how he made preparations for his forthcoming death in Utah. He met the disembodied head of the blue-skinned guy from a previous episode who explained that The Silence want to prevent the Doctor asking the question that must not be answered. And the blue head guy actually knows what the question is...
The Doctor in the messed-up universe meets up with Amy who is now some sort of special agent. (She introduces herself as "Pond, Amy Pond".) She and her fellow agents all wear the eye patch thing. It turns out it's an eye drive (probably spelt "iDrive") that lets the wearer remember seeing The Silence when they are not around. She takes the Doctor to an Egyptian pyramid that has Area 52 painted on the side. There lots of The Silence are being help captive. Only they've been biding their time, waiting for the Doctor.
On top of the pyramid the Doctor and River get married, mainly so he can whisper his name in her ear, Except the Doctor lies and is not his name he is whispering, but rather "Teselecta", the name of the time-traveling humanoid space ship that has a miniature crew inside it from episode 8.
We discover that he asked the Teselecta to make itself look like him so it gets shot and the Doctor lives and all is right with the universe.
So having typed all the above I am struck by the fact that (a) it's not a stand alone episode and (b) it all sounds a little bit silly. In fact it's the second time that Steven Moffat has ended a season in a "not real" universe. While entertaining enough it does leave me with the somewhat dissatisfied feeling that the season adds up to less than the sum of its parts. I applaud the intent to do a complicated time travel story across two seasons but perhaps it would be better to stick to a more stand-alone season in 2012.
The glimpse of the Dalek in the trailer was slightly misleading, I'm sure intentionally. One Dalek briefly appeared at the start of the episode.
It's nice to see the Brigadier get a mention. The Doctor is told that he passed away at his nursing home.
Oh, I forgot, the question that must not be asked:
Sunday, 25 September 2011
Craig now has a baby son, Alfie, although the Doctor claims to 'speak baby' and that Alfie actually calls himself Stormageddon.
The lights are flickering in Colchester so the Doctor does the logical thing and gets a job in a department store, complete with name tag reading 'The Doctor'.
Along the way we get a glimpse of Amy and Rory in the shop when a little girl asks Amy for an autograph. The Doctor is watching from a distance and notices a big perfume advertisement using Amy's face, 'For the girl who is tired of waiting'.
The main plot involves Cybermen teleporting from their spaceship into the shop's lift where they grab unfortunate staff for the cyber conversion process. The Doctor deactivates the teleporter but the Cybermen keep coming. It turns out that the spaceship is not actually in space but is buried under the shop.
The Cybermen decide to use Craig as their new cyber leader but he hears the sound of the baby crying and his emotional feedback makes the Cybermen's heads blow up.
This was an entertaining enough episode, but it's a pity to see the Cybermen appear so useless and unthreatening. I remember the thrill of watching Earthshock for the first time back in 1982. This was no Earthshock. It was nice to see the return of the cybermats though.
It's another stand-alone episode, although the last few minutes get interesting. As the doctor is about to embark on his last journey he sees three kids watching him. They know something is up and we hear voiceovers looking back describing what they saw.
Then we are with the newly qualified doctor River Song who has been researching the Doctor's last days. In walks the eyepatch lady accompanied by the silent scream aliens. It turns out that River is still under the control of The Silence and is placed in the space suit in preparation for next week's episode...
Speaking of which, is that a Dalek eyestalk I saw in the trailer?
Monday, 19 September 2011
Downton as expected turned out to be a solid piece of duvet tv. It ticked a lot of boxes for manufacturing some angst for most of the main characters. It is now 1916 and the Great War is raging in France.
The main event of the episode was the return of heir to Downton Abbey from the front. He turned up with a shock fiancee. The Michele Doherty character was doing some serious gazing-across-the-room acting. Later she is found doing some uncharacteristic praying by her bedside for his survival. They had a farewell scene at a train station as he returned to the front. Those are always good. I liked that he was all convinced he was not coming back from France, almost like they are setting him up for a shock exit? She insists on giving him her 'lucky' stuffed toy.
I expect that stuffed toy to be in the shops for Christmas.
I also liked the Penelope Wilton butler approaching the doctor as he tries to get out of being called up on account of his 'bad lungs'. He could have at least coughed.
And remember the nasty footman? He's now a stretcher bearer in the trenches and is desperate to get home. He holds a lit cigerate lighter above the trench in order to get his hand shot by an obliging German sniper. He sobs his thanks as the blood pumps from his ruined hand. I actually think the episode was quite successful in this sequence as they made me have sympathy for an unlikable character and made it quit believable that one would go those lengths to get out of the madness of the trenches.
The Bates story seemed a bit contrived to me though. One minute he's planing his future with the maid he's sweet on. The next minute his wife turns up. She was was a bit too much boo-hiss evil and was clearly added to the story just to split up Bates and his true love. He is forced to resign his position and leave in order to stop some scandal spreading and Hugh Bonniville's resulting whine about Bates leaving service didn't ring true.
In other developments the youngest daughter baked a cake and the Irish driver expressed his love for her.
I think I might like Amy Nuttal's new maid lady. Must be a redhead thing.
I'll be keeping my eyes out for any melodramatic bar of soap incidents.
Spooks was ok in a tired sort of way. The characters uncovered a plot to kill a Russian and Lara Pulver managed to shoot the assassin while wearing an evening gown. I expect that we will see her staring into a mirror a lot to signify that it's the first person she's killed. Her voice reminded me a bit of Eva Green.
Sunday, 18 September 2011
The Doctor once again promises Amy and Rory another exciting planet. Instead they materialise in what appears to be an hotel done out in 1980s decor
They soon encounter a group of people from Earth (and elsewhere) who have been gathered in the hotel for some reason. They appear to be compelled to open bedroom doors at random where they are faced with someone's greatest fear, e.g. a clown, a PE instructor, girls laughing at a stutter, the Weeping Angels, etc. Eventually they stumble upon their own fear and start to 'praise him'.
Him being a big monster bloke with horns who is wandering around the hotel looking for the person currently doing the praising. Whereupon they are dead.
So understandably the Doctor wants to get his chums out of danger. Along the way he works out that the monster doesn't want their fear, rather he feeds on their faith. The fear is just a way of exposing one's faith.
Amy is next to utter the dreaded 'praise him' and the Doctor finds the room with her fear: It's young Amelia sitting waiting for the doctor to return as promised. Amy's faith is in the Doctor so he he convinces Amy that she shouldn't have faith in him, that he only tool her along in the Tardis to impress her.
That pretty much defeats the monster bloke and the hotel is revealed to be a space prison. The unfortunates that ended up there were basically delivered as the monster's food.
The Doctor brings Amy and Rory back to Earth and gives them a house and a red sports car. It's goodbye as he's worried he'll get them killed.
So it appears to be goodbye Amy, at least for now. However given that the series finalie is almost upon us I would expect it to deal with the Silence, River Song, the astronaut in the lake that kills the Doctor, and that woman with the eyepatche thing. I think Amy needs to be back for all that.
Ah, but I have forgotten something. While exploring the hotel the Doctor opens the door to room 11. We don't sew what's inside but the Doctor says 'of course' and we hear what sounds like the Tardis cloister bell... Interesting.
Next week: the bloke from last years Lodger episode and Cybermen.
Friday, 16 September 2011
First of all there's a nice big article in the center pages of today's Daily Mail newspaper.
You can read the article at www.dailymail.co.uk
There's a little piece at www.whatsontv.co.uk
From the Evening Standard...
Spooks star Lara Pulver has told of the "crazy adrenaline buzz" she got from holding a gun.
The actress was armed with a Walther PPK semi-automatic, the same gun used by James Bond, for a scene in the 10th and final series of Spooks, which starts on Sunday.
She described the weapon as "the girlie version, all silver and sexy but just as deadly as 007's".
Pulver, who plays Erin Watts in the BBC1 show, added: "It felt empowering in a very rude way."
Finally there's an interview with Lara in the current issue of Reveal magazine. Which is a magazine I had never heard of up to a few minutes ago.
Tuesday, 13 September 2011
I've just discovered this interview with Lara on a site called cultbox so I thought I would post it here.
Update, I found another interview: http://www.tvchoicemagazine.co.uk/interviewextra/lara-pulver-spooks
PS I've just realised that this is my 300th post to this blog thing.
However while the Radio Times and most other mags do have some Spooks content there is very little Lara-specific stuff going on.
Fortunately Total TV Guide (somewhere between the TV Times and Whats On TV in terms of quality) does provide us with a nice full-page photo of Lara looking very lovely indeed...
It would appear that she spends the episode in an evening dress running around with a gun. I can only assume there is yet another embassy siege with her colleagues being held hostage. Sounds good to me.
It is worth noting that all the TV guides are presently having a collective swoon of excitement with the return of Downton Abbey. The TV Times has even produced alternate Downton Abbey covers to collect and be passed on to future generations. The Radio Times has a foldy-out cover to fit in bigger picture of the stars, no doubt worth framing and hanging in the living room.
All well and good, but Spooks and Downton are on at the same time on Sunday. And my DVD Recorder has packed in. I may resort to recording on on good old VHS. Remember that?
Sunday, 11 September 2011
The Doctor, Amy and Rory are off on holiday, so it appears that any pretense of looking for baby Melody/River has been well an truly jettisoned. When the Tardis materialises on the universe's second most popular holiday destination they are presented, not with glittering colonnades, but a sterile white featureless room. Rory and the Doctor enter another room by pressing a green anchor button. Amy has been lagging behind and presses a red waterfall button instead. She ends up in the same room but there's no Doctor or Rory.
It transpires that there are two time streams, one faster than the other with Amy in the fast stream. The reason given has to do with the planet being under quarantine from a virus that kills you in a day. Uninfected people could live out their lives in the fast stream and still have the company of their infected loved ones who stay in the slower stream. At least thats my interpertation. The Doctor seemed to suggest the opposite and I think that the point was poorly explained.
The Doctor promises to slip over to the fast stream to rescue Amy, however when he arrives he discovers that she has aged 36 years. Oops. She's not the same Amy after being left alone to fend for herself. Rory wants to go back and somehow rescue Amy when she first got trapped so she doesn't have to wait all that time. Understandably the older Amy wants to live and not vanish from existence.
And Doctor tells Rory that he must make a choice.
The old Amy make up is pretty well done and Karen Gillan does a good job playing the same character differently. At the episodes heart is the relationship between Rory and Amy with the doctor actually taking a bit of a back seat. The story doesn't shy away from having what is actually a bit of a downbeat ending. Credit to Arthur Darvill for taking the potential fifth wheel Rory and making him essential to the show.
On another note I quite enjoyed the white rooms which reminded me a little of the empty white space where the Second Doctor, Jamie and Zoe find themselves in The Mind Robber. And I've just realised both stories have mysterious white robots...
Wednesday, 7 September 2011
In the last ever series of acclaimed spy drama Spooks, the team has been left reeling by Lucas North's betrayal, and with Harry Pearce on gardening leave, Section D has a new leader. Erin Watts is acting head and she has brought Calum Reed with her, a brilliant officer and technical genius.
You can read the complete press release at www.bbc.co.uk/pressoffice/proginfo/tv/2011/wk38/images/206_spooks.jpg.
Hopefully the BBC will release a larger photo soon.
Tuesday, 6 September 2011
No, it's not better than Blink, but I was silly for thinking it could be.
So we have a Mark Gatiss written stand-alone episode in a series that has pretty much steered clear from stand-alone episodes. Basically a little boy is scared of his bedroom wardrobe. And the little boy turns out to be an alien. And that's about it really apart from stuff where our heroes run around a dolls house and Amy gets turned into a wooden doll. But she gets better I am happy to say.
The guy from Outcasts who reminded me of Danny Dyer is in is as the alien boy's human dad.
Sunday, 28 August 2011
But what an episode to begin with! Let's put it this way, this is not an episode to use as an introduction to the show.
The last episode shown was 'A Good Man Goes to War' where there was a cliffhanger of sorts. Amy's baby had been taken by The Silence to be used as a weapon and we discovered that Melody Pond = River Song so Alex Kingston was actually Amy and Rory's kid.
The new episode kicks off with the introduction of Amy's old childhood friend Mel who we have never met before. In an enterataining sequence we see her being a bit of a trouble-maker at school with young Amelia and Rory. She turns up with a gun and hijacks the Doctor and the Tardis, and forces the Doctor to take her to 1938 Berlin to kill Hitler.
This is where things get a little bit complicated.
Because also in 1938 we meet the miniaturised crew of a human-shaped space ship tha travel through time to punish war criminals. They are here for Hitler but get sidetracked when the Tardis delivers a better catch.
Mel gets shot and STARTS TO REGENERATE! Next thing we know Alex Kington is back.
Mel is Melody is River. 'You named your daughter after your daughter,' the Doctor tells Amy.
This River does not yet call herself River so we've gone right back to her first meeting with the Doctor. Probably.
And now things get complicated. Again. Because Mel/River tries to kill the doctor and ends up poisoning him with her lipstick. But that actually makes sense if we remember that The Silence took her and programmed her to do that.
In the end Mel/River uses up her regenerations to heal the Doctor, although we are reminded that he will get killed in Utah by the Astronaut in the lake.
So overall it was an entertaining episode that answers a few questions about the River Song saga, but obviously raises a few more. I expect it will be worth rewatching when the series is finished in a few weeks time.
Sunday, 7 August 2011
Given that there is not much on TV during the summer I thought I'd give this a go. At first I was a bit "meh" about it but as the weeks went by I found myself enjoying the show a little more and then one day I realised that I was actually looking forward to the next episode.
The first episode opened with king Uther Pendragon getting poisoned by his shape-shifting daughter Morgan, played wonderfully by Eva Green, who thinks getting her hands on the crown is a done deal.
Merlin installs Arthur in the ruined castle of Camelot while Morgan glowers and plots from Castle Pendragon.
As this production comes from the people that gave us The Tudors you can be sure of the requisite amount of naughty bits, especially when Arthur and Guinevere head down to the beach for some quality time in the sand.
And this is a neat twist on the King Arthur legend which has Arthur being betrayed when his wife Guinevere hooks up with Lancelot. In this version it's Arthur doing the betraying as Guinevere is to wed Leonties who by all accounts is your trademarked Decent Chap.
I found the last few episodes particularly gripping. At one point Morgan captures Arthur's mother Igraine and shape-shifts to look like her so she can go plant some discord in Camelot. Claire Forlani did a great job playing Morgan pretending to be Igraine, even getting a little Eva Green inflection in her voice.
Thursday, 4 August 2011
Anyway I enjoyed the first episode very much. There's not a lot of fantasy elements as such. To me it feels a litte more like Dune in the sense that you have different families, or houses as they are called, vying for power and influence. Sean Bean plays Lord Eddard Stark who guards the colder lands to the North on behalf of the king. The northern border is marked by the Wall, a vast man-made ice barrier that was built to keep something out.
There is a lot of back story to this tale. Some years previously the reigning Targaryen king was deposed and his family slaughtered. Across the sea Viserys Targaryen plots to be returned to the throne and marries his sister Daenerys off to the warlord Khal Drogo to gain an army. I felt very sorry for poor Daenerys as played by Emilia Clarke. I'm particularly interested in seeing how her story plays out.
The episode has a shocking ending but I won't give it away. Lets just say that some of the Lannister family are quite nasty people.
There are a few "naughty bits" in the episode, but it didn't feel like HBO were including them for the sake of it. It always felt important to the character and plot development.
I bought the tie-in edition of the novel a while back and finally got reading some of it. In fact I had pretty much read the material that was covered by the first episode. So what I'm going to try to do is read the book just ahead of each episode. I think I've covered the material of the second episode so I'll treat myself to watching it very soon!
Worth mentioning is the opening credits sequence. The music is memorable and the animation of the castles and landscape is pretty unique. Here's a youtube video but it doesn't really do it justice. You need to see it on a widescreen TV with the volume up.
Wednesday, 3 August 2011
She will be playing Irene Adler, a character that originally appeared in Conan Doyle's story A Scandal in Bohemia. If I recall correctly she has the distinction of managing to best Holmes. The first line of the story reads,
To Sherlock Holmes she is always THE woman.
I look forward to seeing how she is used in the new version.
Tuesday, 2 August 2011
Some spoilers may follow but I’ll try to keep them to a minimum
I have a general knowledge of the character but nowhere near as much on say spider-man or the x-men. But I knew enough to hope that the movie might end with Cap being frozen in ice with a view to him being thawed out in time for next year’s Avenger’s movie. So I was surprised and quite happy to see the opening scene set in the present with a team in the Arctic finding the wreckage of a mysterious aircraft frozen in the ice.
Then we go back to the 1940s and encounter Hugo Weaving as Johann Schmidt, a Nazi looking for a cosmic cube left behind by the gods. He is head of an organisation called Hydra and harnessing the energy of the cube through science will give him ultimate power to remake the world in his own image. When he finds the cube in Norway there is a nice little nod towards Raiders of the Lost Ark when Schmidt says “and the Fuhrer is too busy digging for trinkets in the desert”.
Then over to 1940s New York where we meet a very weedy Steve Rogers is trying to enlist, somewhat unsuccessfully given his long list of ailments. There’s a nice glimpse of the Marvel version of the period with the Expo display of future technologies and Howard Stark's flying car. I’m very intrigued how they did Chris Evans as a wimp. I’ll need to look it up. It’s extremely well done though.
Eventually Steve gets picked for the super soldier programme and gets turned into a taller and less weedy version. It’s now that we meet Hayley Atwell as Peggy Carter who works for the research organisation behind the super soldier program. It’s nice to see her with an English accent because it give the SSR an allied component rather than being purely American.
While he wants to serve his country on the battlefield it is felt that Steve would be of more use in the propaganda war. Cure a very entertaining sequence with Cap on tour to raise money for war bonds in a cheesy costume. It’s mounted as a full musical number in the middle of a World War Two superhero move. Wonderful!
While on tour to troops in Europe Steve finds out his old friend Bucky has been captured by Hydra and with a little help from Peggy and Howard Stark he goes alone behind enemy lines to rescue them. I’m not sure why Schmidt is so quick to blow up his own base when the prisoners escape but I’ll overlook it. It’s now that Schmidt is revealed to be the Red Skull, Captain America’s nemesis.
Some of the prisoners cap frees become his team, a combination of the Howling Commandos and The Invaders from the comics. I know because I looked it up.
The action moves to an embattled London where our heroes plan to take out the Red Skull’s other bases. Here I have a couple of niggles. For example a newspaper headline reads “London burns”. I think the people of London would have noticed. Later a voice is heard on a loudspeaker telling citizens to stay indoors until the all clear. Surely they would have known about the all clear after however many years of war. But those are nitpicking niggles.
Without giving too much away the Red Skull and Captain America are fated to meet again on a large flying wing aircraft. (Another Raiders reference I wonder?)
I was a little disappointed by the music by Alan Silvestri. There was no identifiable “Captain America” theme and it was all fairly forgettable.
Overall I enjoyed the movie very much. I think it stands as one of the best Marvel movies so far.
If you sit through the end credits you will be rewarded with a tiny glimpse of a movie coming out next summer. Plus you get to hear the musical number again.
Wednesday, 29 June 2011
Thanks to George for the alert.
Saturday, 25 June 2011
I saw Tron Legacy on DVD a few weeks ago and I've been meaning to post my thoughts on it.
I can't say I'm a giant fan of the original. I do remember seeing it in the cinema as a child and I can remember doodling light cycle races on the page of my school exercise book when I should have been paying more attention to what the teacher was saying.
The new movie appeared in cinemas at the end of 2010 and seemed to get a good number of mediocre reviews. Therefore when I popped the disk into the player I had low enough expectations.
The movie opens with a scene set in the 1980s with a younger computer generated Jeff Bridges aka Kevin Flynn telling his son Sam a story about his adventures in The Grid. I noted the Black Hole poster on the bedroom wall! Flynn leaves and is never seen again. Two decades later and Flynn's company is making lots of money from their operating system. It's making Sam rich but he isn't taking an active part in running the company.
As you will have seen in the trailers Alan Bradley, played again by Bruce Boxleitner, turns up with the news that he was paged from Kevin Flynn's old phone that has been disconnected for 20 years. Sam zooms off to check out the old Flynn video arcade and promptly gets zapped into The Grid.
At this point I have to say I do like the look of The Grid. Everything is shiny and glassy. No, not quite glassy, but there is a pleasing almost-translucent quality to all the surfaces.
Sam's quest sees him try to make it to the portal that will let him return to the real world. Along the way he takes part in the games, including I am glad to say, a light cycle race. He also meets the young computer generated Bridges character CLU who informs him "I am not your father" in a nice reversal of the famous line from The Empire Strikes Back. Later Olivia Wlide's Quorra takes him to meet the older Bridges who is indeed his dad and has been trapped in the Grid by his own creation.
Overall I liked it and right away it went on my list of movies to buy on DVD.
Friday, 3 June 2011
Saturday, 2 April 2011
Lara Pulver is to join the cast of the BBC's spy drama Spooks when it returns for it's tenth series later this year. She will apparently replace the Sophia Myles character who only joined the cast last year.
Her character is described as “ambitious, hungry and determined to make her mark”.
I'm quite a Lara fan after her appearance in Robin Hood in 2009 so I'm looking forward to seeing her in the new series.
Saturday, 26 March 2011
I finally got to watch Let Me In on DVD during the week. This was a movie I was really looking forward to seeing after reading the novel Let the Right One In and watching the original Swedish adaptation at the end of 2010 .
I should say right from the start that I love the novel. You can read my thoughts on it on my "book blog" at http://bookswhatilike.blogspot.com/2010/11/let-right-one-in-by-john-ajvide.html
I was naturally curious as to what the hammer-produced American version would be like. Would they have ripped the soul out of the tale and released a trashy remake? Thankfully not. The new version is remarkably close to the story told in the book and the other movie. All the main plot developments are here. The action may have moved from Blackburg to Los Alamos in New Mexico but this is essentially the same story with the same characters.
Kodi Smit-McPhee and Chloe Grace Moretz are perfect in their roles as twelve-year-old Owen and vampire Abby, also twelve, but she's been twelve "for a long time". Their loneliness and burgeoning friendship is perfectly captured. Atmospherically the move feels a lot more "real" than what normally gets labeled as a horror movie. The characters are completely believable and, as in the novel, I couldn't help but feel sympathy for each and every one of them. Even when the "father" is trying to kill people for their blood he's doing it out of love for Abby.
There are a few changes. For example there is a new scene set in a car with the "father" lying in wait for a victim, but it's very effective and tense.
There's another little moment that is new that essentially changes the back-story of how the "father" and Abby meet. At one point Owen finds photo-booth style photographs of Abby and a young boy with glasses. The implication is that Abby met the "father" when he was about the same age as Owen and suggests that Owen will take over the roll of "father".
As with the earlier movie the last shot is of Owen on a train with a large trunk, tapping out some Morse code. It manages to be chilling and hopeful at the same time.
In summary an excellent movie.
Wednesday, 23 March 2011
I don't recall seeing this show as a kid, although I do have memories of owning a broken and battered Dinky UFO Interceptor toy. It was broadcast on the BBC a few years ago and I would have seen bits of it then, although not complete episodes.
Recently I bought the DVD box-sets and have been making my way through the early episodes.
The premise of the series is that Earth is under threat from aliens. A secret organisation called SHADO is set up to to combat the threat. There's an early-warning space station that alerts Moonbase, the first line of defence. If a UFO makes it past the Lunar interceptors and reaches Earth then other aircraft and ground vehicles respond.
Head of SHADO Ed Straker runs the secret organisation from a hidden base under a film studio and is played by Anderson regular Ed Bishop.
What is quite charming is that they've set the show in the far off futuristic year of... 1980! That's only a decade on from when the series was being made. In that time men have stopped wearing ties and lady astronauts have started wearing purple wigs. One nice detail they did get right was the use of cordless telephones.
Notable among the purple-haired ladies is Gabrielle Drake who plays lieutenant Gay Ellis. She would go on to appear in Crossroads among other things.
Monday, 14 March 2011
If you were reading this blog a couple of years ago you will have seen lots of Lara Pulver content as she was appearing in the the third series of the BBC's Robin Hood as Isabella. The last I knew she was in America appearing in musicals, so this DVD is a welcome surprise.
Here's the blurb from http://www.legacythemovie.co.uk/
Taking refuge in a shabby Brooklyn motel after narrowly surviving a failed mission in Eastern Europe, Black Ops soldier Malcolm Gray (Idris Elba) is torn between retribution and personal salvation as he broods over the legacy of his actions.The movie seems to be a bit low budget and set all indoors but it might be good. I have a feeling I'll end up buying the DVD during the week. If so expect a review in due course.
Haunted by his demons while holed up in his room, Malcolm ponders the ascent of his brother (Eamonn Walker), an ambitious senator with designs on the presidency in this dark and tense action thriller packed with stellar performances.
Sunday, 6 February 2011
This is one of the storylines I would have seen bits of pieces of when it was originally broadcast back in 1984 without really following what was going on.
Revisiting it after more than 25 years I note three things:
One, the production values are probably worse than I remember. The underground dragon creature is a particular low point.
Two, it's quite a good little story with a fair amount of "which faction is working for who?" going on. There's Scottish gunrunners, soldiers, androids impersonating soldiers, a substance that gives eternal youth, political blackmail and assassination.
Three, Nicola Bryant as companion Peri is gorgeous. I dare say I am influenced by the 13 or 14 year old version of myself. But she is.
Early in the first episode she and the Doctor get stung by some webby alien egg thing they find in a cave. It turns out they have caught a bad case of "spectrox toxaemia" and poor Peri gets weaker and progressively more wheezy as the episodes progress. Meanwhile one of the the villains, the masked Sharaz Jek, captures Peri and wants to spend eternity gazing on her beauty. Fair enough.
|"Peri, I don't fancy yours much."|
I'll make an effort to watch the first episode of The Promise even though it's a long one as it starts at 9pm and lasts until 10:45pm. But I'll give it a go because Claire is in it. She has become a sort of surrogate Ruth Wilson for me!
Monday, 31 January 2011
OHMSS is one of my favourite Bond movies, based on my favourite Fleming novel, featuring one of my favourite Barry soundtracks... You get the idea...
Here's a favourite piece of music from Moonraker to accompany the space battle near the end of the movie. It has some unmistakable Barry sounds.
Here's a track from his last Bond soundtrack, The Living Daylights. This music accompanied a sequence early in the movie where Bond helps a defector escape across the iron curtain.
The Black Hole was a Disney movie that came out in 1979 to cash in on the Star Wars SF craze. It ticks a lot of the usual boxes, e.g. cute robots, laser battles, etc. It also had a great cast including Maximilian Schell, Anthony Perkins and the voice of Roddy McDowell. However it had a very unexpected ending. I must have been eight or nine when I saw the movie in the cinema and to this day I'm still not sure what it means. Check out the creepy visuals along with Barry's magnificent score.
And I forgot he did a great score for Enigma, the move based on the Robert Harris novel. Now I want to watch it again...
Wednesday, 26 January 2011
I've been pretty much avoiding reading too much about the new movie, X-Men First Class, that is due out this summer. I knew that it had young Magneto and young Xavier but that was about it.
Last night I did allow myself to read the following Entertainment Weekly interview with the director, Matthew Vaughn, and the movie does sound interesting. For example I didn't know that it was set in the 1960s and the focus on Magneto's character looks promising.
Check out the article at http://insidemovies.ew.com/2011/01/22/x-men-first-class-matthew-vaughn/
Just four-and-a-bit months to go!
Monday, 24 January 2011
I've only seen bits and pieces of the new series and have been pretty much giving it a miss. But I'll be keeping a close eye on the next episode as Lucy is back!
George got in touch with these photos he found on a Primeval site. Apparently she is in the next episode (number six) this coming Saturday 29 January 2011.
Photographic proof follows!
Tuesday, 18 January 2011
Looking at the cast list I also noticed Amy Manson is in it. She played one of the pre-raphaelite models in 2009's entertaining Desperate Romantics. Although it took me a while to regonise her because in that she was a redhead and now she looks very different with dark hair.
It's nice to see the BBC doing some original science fiction. Lately I've been watching some Blakes 7 for the first time since it was on way back when. It got me thinking that the time is right for British TV to try something like that again.
By the way, Outcasts seems to be eight episodes long. I'm shocked! After Sherlock, Upstairs Downstairs and Zen I thought the BBC was only doing three episode series from now on!
There's some basic info and video clips at www.bbc.co.uk/outcasts
PS Here's a picture of Amy as she will not appear on an alien planet.
Monday, 17 January 2011
It seems that they will be filming the script they have but severing the contunity with the existing movies. The new movie will be called Prometheus and will be released in March 2012.
I don't know if we can expect face-huggers or chest-bursters in the new movie but I do hope we're 'going on a bug hunt'.
Find out more here:
Saturday, 15 January 2011
Well, the toy people have seen sense and Amy is now available as part of the Pandorica wave of figures. Each figure in that wave comes with a side of the Pandorica cube containing a CD audio adventure from the Doctor's past adventures.
They sell for a considerable £9.99 each but at least it's an improvement from having to spend three times that.