Tuesday, 29 January 2013

Torchwood 'Countrycide' Review

The Torchwood team swaps the city for the country.

The Torchwood team leave Cardiff and head to the Brecon Beacons to investigate into the disappearances of seventeen people inside a twenty mile area.  Whilst setting up camp the team see a pair of hooded figures in the woods, and after making chase find a body.  As the team investigate the body to try and find a cause of death they hear their range rover start and drive off without the team.

Tracking the range rover to a nearby village the team search the houses and find another two corpses.  Other than that they are deserted, apart from one lone survivor who accidentally shoots Gwen with a shotgun, thinking that ‘they’ had come back for him.  Barricading themselves in the pub the team tend to Gwen’s wounds as they come under attack. 
Can the team avoid a grizzly fate?
‘Countrycide’ is one of the few episodes of Torchwood not to have an alien threat and to be se outside of Cardiff.  

Set up very quickly as the ‘horror’ episode of the series it takes its time to set up the threat, keeping the villains in the shadows as long as possible to maintain the mystery of exactly what is hunting our heroes. 

Unfortunately the episode is a part of the first series of the show where they seemed to be hung up on the ‘adult’ content of the show, which they seem to used anger and sex to create.  As such there is not a great deal of character development beyond some arguments and nasty comments. 
The team have to fight to survive.
One for the greater disappointments of Torchwood is that it took them a while to figure out the tone and feel of the show and this episode does suffer a little for it.  If this episode had taken place during series two you  might have had a greater connection and empathy with the Torchwood team and felt the tension more, as it is it’s just like any old horror film with a cast of characters that don’t mean a great deal to you.

Despite these flaws the episode is still very engaging and at the end where the villain gives his reasons for doing what he does it’s one of the most chilling moments in the show.

A good horror episode that’s only let down by the fact that the show’s still finding its footing at this early stage. 7/10


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Sunday, 27 January 2013


I’ve never been comfortable with dating.  In fact, I’ve avoided it where possible if I’m being honest.  There have been a number of situations over the years where the opportunities for a fling or a relationship have come along, but some part of me wouldn’t let me do it.  I never really felt comfortable with the idea of dating someone, even though I was desperate for some sense of companionship and love. 

I now know that it was being trans that was standing in my way.  I wasn’t comfortable with the gender roles in relationships because they just didn’t apply to me.  Even before I’d figured out I was transgender some part of me must have known it and stopped me from being in a relationship.  I can see it all quite clearly now, though at the time I just didn’t understand what was wrong with me.

Now I am out to both myself and the people around me and much, much more comfortable with myself as a person, even though I am very early in the transition stage, and couldn’t even begin to hope to pass as female I am at least being treated as one by my friends.  The thing is, now that I am comfortable with myself and acknowledge the fact that I am Trans I still feel like I can’t date anyone.

I find myself in this horrible situation where I don’t even know where to begin, how I’d go about doing it.  I look male.  I’m trying my hardest to start transitioning but to be 100% honest people will look at me and see a man, not in a million years would they see a woman.  So how do I deal with being a trans woman that looks male when dating?

I guess I just don’t understand how anyone would want to be in a relationship with me when I am at this point in my transition.  Personality is definitely the biggest factor when choosing someone to be in a relationship with, but lets all be honest, what the person looks like is a huge part too.

I’d like to believe that there are people out there who would turn around and say that they are attracted to someone for who they are 100% and that their looks don’t play any part of it, but would that be true?  Surely the thing that separates friendships and relationships is the physical attraction.

As such I look at myself and question how anyone would be able to enter a relationship with me when at the moment my whole physical being is going to change.  I’ve not even started hormones yet so there isn’t even a hint at what I might end up looking like.  Surely if someone wanted to be in a relationship with me they’d be taking a complete gamble on what I’d even end up looking like.

I know that there are people that are attracted to trans people, and that they wouldn’t find anything wrong with dating a trans person, but when the trans person doesn’t fit that model because they’re physically all male what then?

The main reason this is bothering me at the moment is that I just feel incredibly lonely.  I’ve been single most of my life, and am fairly used to it, but when everyone around you is either in a relationship or starting a relationship and you can’t help but think about your own romantic situation.

Because of these concerns I have about relationships whilst transitioning I can’t help but fear that I’m going to at least thirty or more before I’m even going to be able to have a relationship with anyone.  I know that thirty isn’t especially old, but I can’t help but feel like I’ve already lost out on so much of my life, so many experiences, that having to wait is just going to add to that list of stuff that I’ve missed out on.

One of the worst parts of being trans is that I feel like my life isn’t real, that everything I do doesn’t count or isn’t real because right now I’m not really me. I look around me at other people living their lives, building their futures and being happy and I feel like I just don’t have any of that.  Despite everything I’ve achieved in my life I just can’t take any real pride in it. 

For years I wanted to be a published writer, to have a book with my name on it.  I did that.  I set my sights on that goal and I achieved it, but it wasn’t what I thought it would be.  I can see why now, once again it was being trans that was ruining it for me without me even understanding why.  I look at the books I have worked on and all I see is the name Mark Walker, mocking me.  ‘Here’s your published work’ it says ‘but it doesn’t even have your real name on it.’

I hate being alone when everyone else around me is happy, but I can’t even begin to figure out how to change that.  I’m too hard on myself, and too cynical about the world.  I’m sure that if I really tried that I’d find a man or a woman who’d like me for who I was and what I was wouldn’t be an issue, but it just seems too fantastical to be true.  I just can’t believe that it would happen.


Saturday, 26 January 2013

Doctor Who 'The Lazarus Experiment' Review

The Doctor returns Martha home to her flat twelve hours after they first left in the Tardis, telling her that her reward is done and it’s time for her to get back to her normal life.  Under instructions from Martha’s mother Francine they turn on the television to see Martha’s sister Trish.  Trish is part of a news report about her boss, Professor Lazarus, who is claiming that later that night he will ‘change what it means to be human’.  Intrigued by his statement the Doctor and Martha decide to investigate.

That night the two of them attend a function held at Lazarus labs and meet up with Trish, Francine and Martha’s brother Leo.  Francine is initially distrustful of the Doctor and his interest in her daughter but the two of them are interrupted when Lazarus begins his demonstration.  Stepping into a capsule in the centre of the room Lazarus claims he will perform a miracle.  The machine activates and is flooded with energy.  When it comes to a stop Lazarus emerges, now a young man.

Concerned with the effects the machine may have upon the subjects DNA the Doctor and Martha get a sample of Lazarus’ DNA to test, which they discover is fluctuating and highly unstable.  Meanwhile Lazarus mutates into a giant scorpion like creature and must drain the life force from victims in order to regain his human form, using it to stabilise his own DNA.  The Doctor and Martha must find a way of stopping the monstrous Lazarus before he kills again, with Martha’s family potential victims.
Lazarus activates his machine.
‘The Lazarus Experiment’ is by no means a complicated episode.  Boiled down to its simplest description it’s simply a creature movie where the mad scientist has made himself a monster and must be stopped.  There is nothing wrong with this style of episode, there’s no great thinking going on, you don’t have to pay a lot of attention, just simply be taken along for the ride and enjoy the action for what it is.

The Lazarus monster is a cool creation, though the CGI effects felt dated when the episode first aired.  It’s a real shame to see what could have been a very memorable creature be reduced to ‘wasn’t it crap looking’ status.
The Lazarus monster prepares to attack Francine and Leo.
Lazarus himself if performed brilliantly by long time Who contributor Mark Gatiss, who manages to play the elderly Lazarus convincingly enough and brings a lot of depth and age to the younger version of the character.  The addition of Martha’s family is also done well, with the mysterious Mr Saxon sending people to manipulate them against the Doctor, adding to the series’ through plot.

An entertaining monster movie like episode with a great creature and excellent supporting cast.  Easily overshadowed by some of the better episodes in series three it’s still a great little episode.  7/10.


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Thursday, 24 January 2013

The Sarah Jane Adventures 'Whatever Happened to Sarah Jane?' Review

The Trickster captures Sarah Jane.

The story begins with Sarah Jane giving Maria a puzzle box that was given to her by a passing alien seer that ells her to ‘remember’ and pass it along to the person she trusts the most.  A meteor is on a collision course for earth and Sarah Jane has set up, yet not activated, a force field through Mr Smith that will deflect the threat away.  With everything seemingly in hand Maria returns home for the night and falls asleep.

The next morning she wakes to find that no one has heard of either Sarah Jane or Luke Smith and that a woman named Andrea Yates is now living in Sarah Jane’s house.  Investigating into Andreas past Maria discovers that in 1964 a thirteen year-old Sarah Jane drowned after falling from a pier when she was playing there with her friend Andrea Yates. 

With no one else remembering that Sarah Jane existed and the meteor still on its way to earth Maria must find out how this change of history has happened and if possible find a way of reversing the effects and bringing Sarah Jane back before it’s too late.
Maria is surprised to find Andrea in Sarah Jane's place.
‘Whatever Happened to Sarah Jane?’ is the first episode where The Sarah Jane Adventures showed audiences that it could be more than just a kids version of Doctor Who.  The story is filled with grown up concepts and deals with life and death without shying away from the emotion that comes with it.  The scenes where Andrea realises that she must ‘kill’ herself in order to bring Sarah Jane back are amazingly well written and acted and tug at the heart.

This story marks the introduction of The Trickster, who would go on to appear in a number of other Sarah Jane stories and becomes something of her biggest foe over the course of the show.  The Trickster’s scary design along with the brilliant acting skills of Paul Marc Davis create a villain worthy of Sarah Jane, one that is a welcome addition to the Doctor Who universe.

Brilliantly acted by the main cast and with a great performance from Jane Asher as Andrea Yates this story marks a turning point in the show where it becomes more than kids fighting monsters and develops into a show that can have a very serious edge that doesn’t shy away from emotion or consequences.  7/10


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Wednesday, 23 January 2013

Metal Gear Rising Demo Impressions

When Metal Gear Rising was first announced I was initially sceptical of the concept.  Then I replayed Metal Gear Solid 4 and saw cyborg ninja Raiden in action again and my initial doubts were replaced with excitement.  I mean, who wouldn’t want to play as Raiden now we’ve seen what he’ capable of?  What wouldn’t be amazing about killing Metal Gears with a samurai sword?

The first of the game footage came out and showed u that the game would let you cut anything and everything you could imagine.  The swordplay looked amazing and could actually make you feel like you could actually experience the coolness of being a cyborg ninja.
Then they released more footage and the game started to take a slightly different turn.  It suddenly struck me that the game looked more like Devil May Cry or Darksiders than any kind of Metal Gear game I had ever seen before.  My heart began to lowly sink and my excitement turned once again to scepticism and doubt.

However, today was the day that the first demo for Rising was released on Xbox Live.  Downloading it as quickly as I could and loaded it up.  Despite my misgivings I wanted to get a feel of the game, to see if my doubts were justified or not.

I still don’t know what to make of the game though.  It does feel a lot like Metal Gear Solid, but down to small things like the inclusion of the Codec, getting to fight the Gecko’s and certain sound effects.  Other than that the game just didn’t feel like a Metal Gear Solid game.  Maybe I’m just so used to sneaking around and avoiding enemies that the idea of fighting them intentionally just seems weird to me.
Despite the major differences in game play to other titles in the series I’m still holding out hope that the story will engaging enough to capture my imagination.  For me the best parts of the Metal Gear Solid series has been the amazing stories and characters that have been such a staple of the series.  Hopefully Rising will continue to uphold these traditions of story telling.

For now I’m still uncertain as to how the game will be outside of a demo, and a lot of what my opinion will be will be based upon how the story continues on from Metal Gear Solid 4 and how well it lives u to the legacy of its predecessors.  For now I’m going to go into rising with some fears, but some hope as well.


Tuesday, 22 January 2013

Thai Anti-Trans Advert

I was surprised to see an article in the news today concerning an anti-trans advert that has been airing in Thailand over the Christmas period.  Anti-trans content in film and cinema is, unfortunately, nothing new but what surprised me the most was that it came out of Thailand.

As far as I was aware Trans people are more visible and accepted in Thai culture than other countries, generally being treated with respect.  Yes, I’m sure we’ve all heard about the stereotypes of ‘Thai Lady Boys’ being sex workers, which I’m sure is true, but there is more to any gender, race or religion than those few who work in the sex industry.  Thailand has had many Trans beauty queens, champion Trans Volleyball teams and even Thai Boxers.

For a country that seems to be so progressive with their acceptance of Trans people and acknowledge that they are just ordinary folk living normal lives it’s shocking to see a television advertisement where they are so openly mocked.
The advert in question if for Ikea, and is called Luem Aeb which translates to ‘forget to deceive’.  The advert show a couple that are walking through an Ikea store when the woman is so surprised by the deals that she slips into a male voice, much to the horror of her male companion.  The woman is then seen carrying a heavy box as her companion runs away.

Thai Transgender Alliance has issued a letter of complaint to Ikea and has said that the company should issue an apology.  
It seems like ever step forward the Trans community takes we have to deal with another knock back.  I don’t understand why people see to still think that it’s okay to be able to use the Transgender community as a joke subject.  The advert isn’t one of the worst offenders, but even small slights against the Trans community can have a devastating effect.


Monday, 21 January 2013

The Waiting's The Worst

I first went to see my doctor about being Trans over a year ago, November 2011.  Before that I’d been on a number of websites and forums and talked to other Trans people, found out what I could about the process of transitioning.  One of the things that stuck out that people seemed to always tell me was that it was going to take a long while.  I just didn’t expect how long it would actually be.

It seems like my whole process of getting from my first time talking with my GP to the Gender Clinic has been one long struggle.  I’ve had to fight every step of the way.  Every time I’ve been referred from one person to the next I’ve had to fight for my appointments, has to phone and email and visit people again and again to get any kind of answers.  I’ve never just been given an appointment.

After struggling for months to get, and finally pass, my psychologist appointments I’ve been waiting on my actual referal with the Gender Clinic for over nine months.  Every time I call them to find out when my appointment is I get told another story, another reason why it’s taking so long.  I’ve been pushed around from person to person and given excuses time and time again.

Last week I was told that if, IF, my doctors send out a certain piece of documentation to the Gender Clinic immediately then the earliest I will get my appointment will be November.  That will mean that if for the first time in this whole process things actually go my way, that if I’m not given any more excuses or ignored or forgotten then I can get an appointment almost a year from now.  Great!  Right?  I mean, who wouldn’t want to spend two years getting an appointment?

Then again, that’s if things move along quickly and things happen for me with some kind of speed.  Based on my past experience with the process so far I very much doubt that this is going to be the case.  Which means that it probably won’t be November when I get my appointment but quite a while after.

I’m not ashamed to admit that being told this broke me a little, that I’ve spent most of the time since something of a wreck.  I’ve spent half of the time around people, pretending I’m fine, half on my own crying my eyes out.  It feels like my whole future is up in the air at the minute, I don’t know what’s going on, other than the fact that I’m going to be stuck in this limbo for at least another year.

I know things will be moving forward eventually and that I’ll get where I need to be in order to be happy, but I don’t know when.  Each day is a struggle, a constant pain because I just can’t be me.  I feel like my life is slipping away from me a day at a time and no matter what I do I’m never going to get that time back because I’m relying on other people to move the process along. 

People have advised me to go private, but at the minute I can’t afford that short of getting a loan and/or selling everything I own.  I’ve also been told that it’s possible to buy the hormones I need off the Internet, though this option can be very dangerous.  To be honest though, at the moment both of these options aren’t completely off the table, just because waiting on the NHS is hurting me so much.

I know that the NHS is a good service, that I’m lucky to have it, but I don’t understand why it has to take this long.  Do they want to weed out those people that aren’t serious about transitioning by making the process so long and hard?  If so the only thing that achieves is hurting those people that really need it, that have to keep on living in a hellish existence. 

Transitioning is hard enough, the challenges and prejudices hard enough without the people who are supposed to be helping making the process even harder than it already is.  Right now my confidence in the whole system has been shaken, and I feel like my life is going nowhere right now.  I don’t now what’s going to happen to me, how I’m going to be able to stay sane whilst I wait for this appointment. 

I knew that this was going to be long and hard, but I didn’t expect it to hurt me as much as it has.


Doctor Who 'Inferno' Review

The evil Brigade Leader from the alternate Earth.

‘Inferno’ is the final story of Jon Pertwee’s first series on Doctor Who and also marks Caroline John’s final appearance as Liz Shaw.

‘The Inferno’ is the nickname given to a project to drill into the Earth’s core to reach the pockets of Stahlman’s Gas, which is theorised to provide abundant amounts of cheap energy.  The project, headed up by the ill-tempered Professor Stahlman, begins to experience some problems when one of the workers comes into contact with a toxic green slime during a repair on one of the drill pipes and proceeds to kill another of the technicians on the project.

Unit is called in to deal with the security problem.  They are joined by the Doctor, who is using some of the facilities resources to work on his own project on the control console from the Tardis, trying to repair the locks the Time Lords placed upon it, stranding him on Earth.

During these experiments the Doctor is thrown sideways through time and space, materialising on an alternate Earth.  In this new reality, where Great Britain is a republic ruled by a fascist regime, the ‘Inferno’ project is moving ahead at an accelerated rate.  This more advanced project is also home to the British Republican Security Forces, which include ‘Brigade Leader’ Lethbridge-Stewart, ‘Section Leader’ Elizabeth Shaw and ‘Platoon Under Leader’ Benton.

Having to contend with these alternate versions of his friends the Doctor must find a way of contending with the threats coming from the ‘Inferno’ project, and return home before the same fate befalls his own reality.

The Doctor must make the R.S.F. trust him if they are to survive.
‘Inferno’ is one of the best stories from the classic series and Pertwee’s run in particular.  The use of a parallel word allows both the writers and the actors to try new things and give the audience something new. 

The alternate versions of the Brigadier, Liz and Benton are vicious and at times vindictive versions of the characters we have come to love over the course of Pertwee’s first year as the Doctor.  It also allows the writers to deliver on the threats in the story.  In this new reality these familiar characters, even the world itself, can perish.

With anyone and everyone at risk and the Doctor completely alone without any allies or companions makes this a particularly impressive story, with more tension than normal. 

The cast play their parts perfectly, giving the audience two brilliant performances, with some beloved characters being transformed into versions of themselves that you actually want to watch be killed.

The monstrous Primords.
The alternate versions of Unit are not the only threat the Doctor has to face on the alternate earth, he must also contend with the monstrous Primord.  Creatures created when people come into contact with the strange green substance coming up from the very centre of the Earth itself.  The Primords are one of the best monsters used in the history of the show, they will either attack you and rip you to pieces, or change you into one of them.  With a single touch from the Primords meaning a fate worse than death the stakes are once again risen higher as our heroes try to fight for their lives.

An amazing story that shows us new and interesting versions of the Unit family, with a stand out monster and high stakes.  One of the show’s best.  10/10


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An Apology For My Absence

I just wanted to take a moment to apologise for my absence from the blog for the past few days. 

Unfortunately I received some bad news on Thursday last week and it knocked me back.  I spent most of the weekend either trying to forget what was happening or spent my time thinking about it, crying my eyes out.  

Because of this I neglected my blog.  I had set out to update it every single day, and wanted to upload a Doctor Who related post every day as part of my celebration of the show’s 50th anniversary.  For those people that are regular readers of my blog and have subscribed to the Facebook page I sincerely apologise for letting you down.

Even though not all of the issues that resulted in my being away are resolved I am endeavouring to make up for my absence and will try not to let you down again in the future.


Thursday, 17 January 2013

Doctor Who 'Magic of the Angls' Review

‘Magic of the Angels’ is a 2012 Quick Read Doctor Who novella.  Set during present day it follows the Doctor, Amy and Rory as they take a break from fighting aliens and exploring other times and places to have a quiet day in London.  Having been thrown out of several establishments due to the Doctor’s misbehaviour the trio decide to head to the theatre.

On their way to the theatre the three of them notice an unusually large amount of pissing person’s flyers, all of girls aged around twenty.  At the theatre they watch a show by an up and coming magician Sammy Star, however, things take a turn for the sinister during the grand finale when the Doctor, Amy and Rory realise that the way Sammy Star makes his assistant disappear is with a little bit of help from a Weeping Angel.

‘Magic of the Angels’ clocks in at 110 pages, and is easily read in one sitting.  Filled with fast moving scenes and quick and easy descriptions the book doesn’t take any tie to set the mood or build upon the characters.  Instead this short story focuses purely on the story, moving along at a nice brisk pace to its conclusion.

Despite this it still finds the time to give you some nice character moments, allowing the scenes between Rory and the victims f the Weeping Angel to feel quite genuine and fairly moving.  

This book won’t take long to read and is very easy to get to grips with.  If you’re a fan of the show, and the Weeping Angels in particular, it’s a nice little story that will entertain you for an hour.  6/10


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3000 Hits!

Wow!  Up to 3000 hits already, only 11 days after reaching 2000!  Thank you everyone that has been visiting my blog and taking the time to read my work.  Your comments and messages of support have been amazing.

Remember, if you want to keep up do date with all my new posts and latest news you can join up to Trans Girl Writer's Facebook Group.


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Wednesday, 16 January 2013

Doctor Who 'Closing Time' Review

Craig looks on as the Doctor examines a Cybermat.

Nearly two hundred years have passed for the Doctor since he left Amy and Rory behind and started travelling on his own and is on a ‘farewell tour’ of his friends before he returns to Lake Silencio to face his death.  The doctor decides to visit his former ‘housemate’ Craig and notices some strange electrical disturbances in the area and decides to investigate.

The Doctor tracks the disturbances to a department store and gets a job there in order to investigate.  He end up meeting up with Craig a second time and Craig finds himself and his baby son drawn into the mystery. 

Discovering that the department store is built on the remains of a crashed Cybership the Doctor and Craig must find a way of stopping the last few remaining Cybermen before they find a way to attack the surface world.
The Doctor is captured by the Cybermen.
‘Closing Time’ is the last episode leading to the final episode of series six and the Doctors confrontation with the Silence and his potential death.  However, it feels like a waste of an episode.  I can’t help but feel that there should have been something special in this penultimate spot, instead we get a silly and dull story that once again makes the Cybermen look awful.

Having the Doctor run around a department store whilst his comedy side kick gets mistaken for a pervert, then his boyfriend is almost embarrassing to watch.  Plus the Cybermen get blow up by love.  Blown up by love?  What in holy hell is going on?

The only good pieces in this episode are the return of the Cybermats, though I can’t help but think they were included just for merchandising and producing the hot new Doctor Who toy that Christmas and the final scene featuring River Song and the Silence.  In this final scene we see a young River, having only met the Doctor once at this point, searching for information about him when she is captured by Madame Kovarian and the Silence and forced into the space suit, ready to kill the Doctor.
River is made ready to kill the Doctor.
This final scene was what the whole episode should have been, a dramatic build up to the big finale, instead we get silly comedy and some of the worst Cybermen to date.  A  massive disappointment.  4/10


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'Dredd' Review

Last night I watched ‘Dredd’ for the first time, a film that my housemate saw when it first came out in the cinema and has raved about since.  With all of the praise he had given it, and remembering what the last film based on Judge Dredd was like, I went into this film with a little trepidation.  Despite this I was hoping for the best.  Boy did this film deliver!

Set in the massive surroundings of Mega City One ‘Dredd’ follows a day in the life of Judge Dredd as he is assigned to assess rookie Judge Anderson.  Having technically failed her entrance exams but offered a place as a Judge due to her extra-ordinary psychic abilities Dredd is initially harsh and distrustful of his rookie partner.

Respond to what they believe to be a routine murder investigation the two Judges’ find themselves drawn into a web of murder, torture and drugs as they become sealed inside the Peach Trees mega block, a two hundred story building home to thousands.  Central hub of the Ma-Ma gang and the manufacture and distribution centre of the drug Sol-Mo the inhabitants are told to kill the two Judges or remain sealed inside the building forever.

Judge Dredd and Anderson are forced to fight their way through the levels of Peach Trees and a small army of gang members in order to find Ma-Ma and end her reign of terror.

‘Dredd’ is a beautifully made film, with a great combination of science fiction and the modern world that creates a unique and very believable future.  Some characters look like they belong in science fiction, others look like someone you would pass on the street but both styles work together brilliantly. 

Despite the simplicity of the plot of the film, trapped in a building forced to fight their way to the top, the story never lags and has plenty of time for some stunning action sequences as well as interesting character moments.

The action in the film doesn’t bother pulling any punches and whilst not the goriest action film I’ve ever seen doesn’t shy away from showing the brutal effects of violence.  The heroes are not afraid go gun down the villains, but as police officers they offer them every chance they have to surrender peacefully, only taking lethal action when forced to.

All of the main cast members have been brilliantly cast, with Karl Urban playing a much more believable Dredd than Stallone ever did.  His Dredd feels like a regular human being, a man dedicated to his job and hardened by years on the streets.  Yes, he’s a comic book character, but he’s not a super hero.  He’s a cop.  Urban gets this message across brilliantly.

Olivia Thirlby plays Judge Anderson, another of the main characters from the 2000AD comics and is an important part of the Judge Dredd mythos.  Thirlby plays the character well, making her the light to Dredd’s dark.  She also shows a great deal of character progression too, going from a fresh faced rookie judge to a battle hardened warrior by the end of the film.

Lena Heady plays the main villain Ma-Ma, a brand new character for the film, does so will relish.  Heady plays such a horrid looking and vile woman that it’s hard to remember that she’s an attractive woman beneath the scars and rotten teeth she wears in this film.  A devious, some times almost psychotic, villain that proves to be a great threat for our heroes, throwing hundreds of her people against them and not being afraid of collateral damage.

‘Dredd’ is one of those great comic book movies that have started to become a staple of the genre in this age.  Unfortunately unlike such films as The Avengers, The Amazing Spider-Man and The Dark Knight Rises, all of which came out the same year as Dredd, it was a commercial failure.  Perhaps there isn’t as large a fan base out there for Judge Dredd, maybe the general public were put off by how violent it looked or maybe there were just not enough people aware of it.  In any case it is an absolute crime that we will not be treated to another film.  We can only hope that the DVD and Blu-Ray sales are sufficient enough to warrant a second film.  So go out and buy a copy now, and encourage your friends to do so.  And if you’re going to buy it get it from HMV! 


Tuesday, 15 January 2013

Recent Attacks On The Trans Community In The Media

As some of you may be aware there were a number of articles in the British press over the last few weeks that were very transphobic, and in some cases just down right disgusting.  Normally I don’t react to the comments and opinions expressed on the Internet.  I know what to expect, the types of people that hide behind their computer screens and spout their backwards opinions.  This time however I couldn’t help but to drawn in to what was happening, because of not only the content but where it was appearing.

All of this started when ‘The New Statesman’ published an except from journalist Suzanne Moore’s new book.  The piece looked at the concept of anger, and why women should remain angry in society during the current political climate.  The main problem with the except, however, came when she was discussing the physical ideal that women are expected to live up to she expressed that women should look like ‘Brazilian Transsexuals’.

At this point I have to admit I was not too bothered by her comment.  Yes, it was bad I admit that and Brazilian Transsexuals made up over a hundred names in the 2012 Transgender Day of Remembrance list.  Despite the stupidity of her statement I felt like I had read worse elsewhere and that was something said out of ignorance rather than any kind of hatred towards Trans people.

A number of people did not share my views on this situation and were angry, as they were within their right to be.  These people took to twitter and expressed their views on Moore’s statement.  This would have been a good time for her to apologise for her comment and accept the criticism give to her.  Instead she fought back, replying with more offensive statements which in turn caused more criticism igniting a whole twitter argument.  Unable to compete with the in pouring of comments Moore quitted twitter, though not before posting a flippant comment on The Gurdian.

So that’s the end right?  Unfortunately not.  It was at this point that Joe Burchill, a writer and friend of Suzanne Moore, joined the debate.  Unfortunately Burchill has long been known for her transphobic and frankly disgusting views on Trans issues.  She even at one time called for all sex workers to be shot.  Definitely a level headed woman then.

Burchill’s piece appeared on The Guardian’s website, though rather than being a professional journalistic opinion piece read more like a hate message from an extremist blog.  Burchill blatantly admits that she is attacking Trans people because of the comments her friend received.  She doesn’t even try to hide it.  What’s worse is the language she uses.  Stating that she knows how offensive the words are she goes on to use the terms ‘trannys’, ‘she-males’, ‘shims’ and ‘dicks in dresses’ on numerous occasions.  She even attempts to justify using these terms because she finds offence in the word Cis when used to describe non trans people.

Now, anyone with a single shred of common sense would try to find out what this word means before turning around and attacking other people for using it.  Burchill does not, simply stating that it ‘sounds like syph, cyst, cistern; all nasty stuff’.  What she would know if she took all of a minute to research before attacking is that Cis is short for Cissexual, a standard medical term for someone born into the correct body.  It is simply the opposite of Trans being short for Transsexual and not an insult in any way.  Instead of learning this though she just proceeds to throw around insults and slurs because she’s ill informed and upset that her friend got told off.

These horrid statements light a fire under the Trans community that I’d never seen before, with many Trans and Cis people coming to the dense of the Trans community.  Normally when reading through the comments section for an article like this there is a mixture of support and disagreement on the points made in the article, this time however all I saw was people outraged by what was written.

Within hours of being published there were a number of petitions made and advice given out about where to complain to.  Government Minister Lynne Featherstone, former Equalities Minister, spoke out calling for Burchill to be ejected from The Observer.

Suzanne Moore quickly returned to twitter and issued an apology and Burchill’s article was withdrawn.  The speed at which this was done was amazing, with so many people rallying to the cause.  Its very heart warming to see so many people coming to the defence of the Trans community the way they did.

My biggest concern, however, is that Burchill should not have even been allowed to publish such an article within the mainstream press to begin with.  Even someone that is not Trans, or knows anyone that is Trans, would find offence reading the article.  It dripped venom.  So why was it even allowed to be published to begin with?  If it were any other minority group being attacked in this way the publisher wouldn’t dare touch the piece, let alone put it up on their website.

Tighter checks need to be put in place to stop things like this happening in the future, as attacks like this are simply unacceptable in what is supposed to be an enlightened society.  Trans people go through enough pain and have to deal with enough prejudice in their daily lives as it is, without the media allowing these very public, very personal attacks.

I know that there are some people reading this that will disagree with me, that will think that I’m just another Trans person who thinks that the whole world is out to get me, or wants attention or is finding insults where none really exist.  To these people I simply say that I’m sorry you believe that, but most of all I’m glad that you don’t have to read articles like the one Burchill produced.  This is not me blowing things out of proportion, or crying wolf.  Instead I am simply saddened at the way the world is that things like this are allowed to happen to begin with.


Torchwood 'Adam' Review

Who, or what is Adam?

Torchwood has been infiltrated by an alien entity, Adam, that has the ability to alter peoples memories, and has convinced them that it is a part of the team.  Adam’s actions have dramatic effects on the members of the team, Gwen loses all memory of Rhys, Jack is haunted by the memories of his lost brother Gray, Toshiko becomes more confident and believes that she and Adam are in love, Owen has been transformed into a shy geeky version of himself that is madly in love with Toshiko.

After reading through his hand written note books Ianto realises that there is no record of Adam.  Adam confronts him and implants him with false memories, making him believe that he is a serial killer.
Adam forces Jack to relive his worst memories.
Jack finds a deeply distraught Ianto and the two of them search through the Torchwood files until they learn the truth about Adam. Jack realises that the only way that they can get rid of Adam and undo the changes that he has made to their personalities is by all of them taking amnesia pills.

‘Adam’ is one of the episodes from the second series of Torchwood and is a great character focused episode.  Where a number of other Torchwood episodes have focused on the action side of the show ‘Adam’ takes the time to look into the characters histories and personalities.  Despite having aspects of their personalities changed we get to see parts of the characters that we never normally see, that they do their best to guard.
Adam has some strange effects on the Torchwood Team.
This episode is very similar to the Torchwood novel ‘Border Princes’ by Dan Abnett, which also features an alien that has infiltrated Torchwood by altering the memories of the team.

A slower paced episode that takes the time to look at the Torchwood team and what makes them tick.  The episode gives each of the characters their own moment to shine and sets up a number of story threads that will continue to play out over the rest of the season.  7/10


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Monday, 14 January 2013

Doctor Who 'The Waters of Mars' Review

The Doctor and Adelaide must stop the terrifying Flood.

The Doctor, now travelling alone, lands on Mars in the 2059 and whilst wandering the landscape of the red planet comes across ‘Bowie Base One’.  Initially the Doctor is delighted to find the crew of ‘Bowie Base’, the first human colonists on Mars led by their captain Adelaide Brooke, but his delight is quickly wiped away when he finds out the exact date.  The Doctor discovers that he has arrived at the base on the very day that it is destroyed in a nuclear blast, killing the whole crew.  This event, though tragic, would spur humanity and Adelaide’s grand daughter in particular to continue exploring into space and as such is a ‘fixed point’ in time.  If the Doctor was to try and save the people on the base it could have tragic effects.

The Doctor tries to leave before he becomes dragged into the course of history he is not allowed to alter, but before he can exit the base Adelaide looses contact with the crew members in the bio-dome.  Suspicious of the Doctors sudden appearance at the same time that they have lost contact with members of their crew Adelaide investigates the bio-dome, forcing the Doctor to join her.

In the bio-dome they discover the lost crew members, who have become infected by some kind of virus present in the base’s water supply.  The virus causes the victim to produce large amounts of water from their body, water that can infect others with a single drop, and attack their fellow crewmates. 

The Doctor and Adelaide barely manage to escape from them and return to central control, where they manage to seal off the bio-dome.  By studying an infected crewmember they discover that the infected personnel desire to go to the water rich earth, something that they cannot allow to happen.  Despite knowing that he cannot interfere without running the risk of severely altering the timeline a large part of the Doctor wants to stay and help, whilst his rational side tells him to leave while he can.  The Doctor must face the impossible decision, does he try to save the crew of Bowie Base One and risk the entire course of history, or does he let events play out on their own, leaving everyone else to die?
The Flood begins to infect and change the crew of Bowie Base One.
‘The Waters of Mars’ is one of the episodes from the year without Doctor Who, one of a handful of special episodes that aired over 2009, and is my personal favourite of these.  The story is a classic base under siege tale that has an effectively creepy menace.

The Flood, as the infected are called, are a creepy concept, with even a single drop of infected water on your skin can turn you into one of these evil, twisted creatures.  This threat is used to great effect when it’s not just the infected the humans have to be afraid of, but any source of water that the Flood uses to block off certain routes and trap people within the base.

The crew themselves are a great mixture of characters, representing a wide range of the nationalities of earth.  A few of the characters are more engaging than others, and I would have liked to have had more screen time with them, but as it is the pacing is so good that any more scenes with the characters may have run the risk of slowing down the pacing of the rest of the show.

The standout of the guest characters has to be Adelaide Brooke, who acts as a one off companion for the Doctor in this story.  It’s great to have an older companion someone who is played by a seasoned actor that can bring much more depth to their character, especially as she is only in this one episode.  Lindsey Duncan plays Adelaide brilliantly, showing us the characters strength and her vulnerability, making her such a well crafted and well played character that it becomes and absolute joy to watch her work.
Has the Doctor gone too far this time?
Lindsey Duncan plays off against Tennants Doctor wonderfully, especially towards the end of the story when the Doctor begins to go off the rails.  Having flaunted the rules of time the Doctor begins to show a darker side to him, acting more like one of the renegade Time Lords.  Seeing the effect her survival has had on the Doctor Adelaide takes matters into her own hands and kills herself, putting the timeline back on a roughly similar course.  This is an amazing scene, showing how much the doctor relies in the rules he has imposed upon himself and the effect breaking them can have.  It also shows the bravery and sacrifice of Adelaide, the lengths she will go to to ensure that the future the Doctor told her about will come to pass.

A great chase story that ends with an incredible emotional punch, ‘The Waters of Mars’ is one of the best examples from the Tennant and Russell T Davies era, and the best of the ‘special’ episodes.  8/10


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