Sunday, 19 May 2013

Doctor Who 'The Name of the Doctor' Review

So far series seven of Doctor Who has been a series of ups and downs, with some of the shakiest episodes since the show returned.  However, the final episode ‘The Name of the Doctor’ comes along and delivers what was one of the most amazing episodes to watch in a very, very long time.  An episode that makes it feel like a celebration of the 50th Anniversary already and stunningly sets the stage for the 50th Anniversary Special in November.

‘The Name of the Doctor’, whilst an amazing episode in its own right, is nothing more than set up for the special, but when the quality was that good who cares?  So full of nostalgic look backs on the history of the show giving us clips and sound bites of previous Doctors and references galore it services long term fans in such without alienating the new.

Right back to the beginning.
Okay, the episode wasn’t perfect, their were things that didn’t quite make sense and a couple of Strax lines that ended up feeling forced and detrimental to what was happening but these faults couldn’t take away from those other moments that made this the best episode since the show returned with Christopher Eccleston way back in 2005.

The episode begins with an amazing pre-credits scene that goes a little towards explaining who and what Clara is without revealing all too early and is sure to make the hairs on the back of the neck stand on end.  After that it takes us a while before we see the Doctor, but the slow build to his arrival, the set up of the central mystery and threat and ramping of tension makes this first section jump out of the screen with energy.  It also provides us with what is only the first of many moments of heartbreak as poor Jenny Flint comes to the realisation that she’s been killed during the groups ‘psychic call’.

The Great Intelligence and the creepy Whispermen.
From here on out the heartache doesn’t stop and we get to see some of the absolute best acting that Matt Smith has ever been given during his tenure on the show.  The moment he realises what Trenzalore is and that he has to go there is one of the most frightening, not because of any kind of monster or threat but because we see the Doctor afraid, truly terrified to the point of tears.

River Song is also used wonderfully well throughout the episode, unable to interact with anyone but Clara she’s reduced to a ghost, which is appropriate as this is the River from after her death in ‘Silence in the Library’.  The moment when the Doctor and her say goodbye is so tender and so sad that it will guarantee to make even the hardest of fans cry.  We get to see that despite their strange start the Doctor and River really do love each other, and that her loss has deeply affected the Doctor.  With her final line in the episode ‘Goodbye sweetie’ and this being the latest version of River leads me to think that this is probably the last time that we will be seeing her.  It is a shame if that is true as I love her character, but this feels like the perfect ending to her and the Doctors story.

A goodbye to River?
After all of the spectacle and wonder of the rest of the episode Moffat had a hell of a task giving us the spectacular ending he promised, boy did he deliver.  The slow reveal of Doctor we had not yet seen, the man whose actions mean he does not deserve to use the name Doctor was so stunning and sets up so perfectly for the upcoming special.  

Roll on November!
Despite not revealing the Doctors name (something which I am grateful for) Moffat has set up such an intriguing mystery that the wait to November is going to be one of the toughest six months.  An amazing episode that made up for the fairly lack lustre series so far and left me shocked, stunned and in tears.  10/10.


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Saturday, 11 May 2013

Iron Man 3 Review

WARNING - This review will contain spoilers - WARNING

Iron Man 3 is the first film in Marvel Studios ‘Phase Two’ following hot on the heels of last years massive hit Avengers.  Unfortunately Iron Man 3 feels like a misstep rather than the run away hit they needed at this stage.  The first film of ‘Phase Two’ will go a long way to shape the style of this second batch of movies, and unfortunately it feels like Thor 2 is going to have to pick up the pieces that Iron Man 3 let slip through its fingers.

The plot focuses on Tony Stark as he deals with the aftermath of the alien invasion in New York whilst combating the threat posed by the international terrorist known as The Mandarin.

Tony is initially on the periphery of the Mandarin and his campaign of terror, but when his friend Happy Hogan is injured in one of the terrorist attacks Tony issues a challenge to the Mandarin, one that is very quickly accepted with dire consequences.

On the run, with failing equipment and a shattered psyche Tony is forced to confront The Mandarin head on, and instead finds a much deeper web of intrigue.
Iron Man faces the Extremis enhances soldiers.
Iron Man 3 takes a lot of inspiration from the comic book story line Extremis and takes the ideas from the book in their own direction, pushing the character of Aldrich Killian to the fore as the films main antagonist. 

Taking a page from other Marvel stories the team behind Iron Man 3 also give don Cheadle’s Rhodey a make over, upgrading his armour from the classic War Machine to the much more colourful Iron Patriot.  Despite being a whole other character completely Rhodey’s transformation makes complete sense within the film and gives him a stunning look.

Despite the film feeling like something of a missed opportunity the change of directors from Jon Favreau to Shane Black gives the film a completely new feel and prevents the franchise from becoming stale, especially when Black is able to work some of his Lethal Weapon style magic by having Tony and Rhodey taking on the bad guys out of their armour.
War Machine upgrades to the Iron Patroit.
The main fault with the film, however, has to be the portrayal of The Mandarin.  Iron Mans most iconic villain, bringing him to life on screen was bound to be something of a challenge.  Instead of stepping up to the challenge the team behind the film don’t actually deliver The Mandarin, but instead give us a ‘fake’ villain who is simply a front man for the films real puppet master.  For the casual viewers this probably won’t be a problem, but for comic book fans it feels like we were promised one thing and given another.  No matter how good the rest of the film might be having spent several months waiting to see The Mandarin and being given nothing is a major, major let down and has me doubting the future Marvel movies.

An entertaining film with some great action sequences and character moments that the casual viewer will enjoy but the hardcore comic fans will be disappointed with.  6/10.


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Thursday, 9 May 2013

The Daily Mail Does it Again

It completely astounds me that the Daily Mail have once again produced an article that targets transgender people.  With their previous articles receiving many negative responses, and having led to the death of one of the people they wrote about, you’d think that perhaps they would shy away from doing it once again.  Yet here we are, reading yet another article where it appears they have learnt nothing.

Writing about a young trans girl in America whom is undergoing hormone blocking treatment the article is filled with misgendering and sensationalism.  Personally I don’t see where the story is in this article, yes there is a trans girl who’s going through this situation but that’s not very different from hundreds, if not thousands, of trans girls across the planet. 

However, the ‘hook’ that the Daily Mail seems to have latched onto is the fact that Tammy has two mothers.  The article seems to view this not as a loving family, but as two women who are forcing their son to become a girl.  They even mention the fact that her parents are lesbians in the title, for no other apparent reason than pure sensationalism. 

Worse still is the fact that each and every time they talk about Tammy they refer to her as him.  They seem to refuse to acknowledge the fact that she is a girl and that she should be referred to with female pronouns. 

I’m simply astonished that the Daily Mail has produced another article like this.  It just makes me believe that they have some kind of mission against transgender people, that despite whatever criticism they receive they will continue to write these kinds of negative articles. 

Something worth noting about the article is that the comments section has been disabled, most probably in order to ensure that they do not start another incident like the Burchill article at the Observer.  They know that they are playing with fire here, but rather than stand up and take criticism they simply shut down their comment section, refusing to face up to the fall out of what they have written.

I simply cannot understand the logic behind articles such as this and question exactly what their aims are.  I know that there is not much that can be done about articles such as this, we can complain and protest but the simple fact is that they will keep on writing such tripe.  The best thing we can do is to continue to make others aware of what they are doing and make sure that people know that they are targeting groups in negative ways simply to sell papers.


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