30 October 2014

Fury offers a fresh spin on a tired genre

Set near the end of the Second World War, Fury follows a close-knit tank crew and their new member, Norman Ellison, as they continue the advance into Germany under the command of Don 'Wardaddy' Collier in the eponymous tank 'Fury'.

It's the first film set during the Second World War that I've seen in a long time, and considering the vast wealth of films that have exhausted this period, Fury actually has a fair amount of originality to it. The time frame of the end of the war, when the Allies where guaranteed victory and the fighting from the Axis was more desperate, gives the film a much different feel to other war films in that regard - there is a much greater sense of desperation from both sides, tired from a war, with any kind of organisation of troops lost as things got more chaotic - and that only works in Fury's favour.

28 October 2014

Doctor Who S8E10 "In the Forest of the Night" fails on multiple levels

Doctor Who has always been somewhat of a question mark in terms of quality - you never know just what an episode has in store for you the majority of the time, and you can be in for a real treat one week and an unmitigated disaster the next. Admittedly, the show levelled out somewhat when Moffat took over, removing both the highs and the lows in order to preserve a consistent line of good enough, a line that has been slowly creeping higher and higher as this new, Peter Capaldi led season goes on. But "In the Forest of the Night" perfectly encapsulates the ever oscillating quality of Doctor Who, providing an episode that, despite potential, ends up doing an almost aggressive amount of things wrong.

"In the Forest of the Night" follows Clara, Danny and a gaggle of school kids as they discover that the entire surface of the Earth has been covered in thick foliage over night. Naturally, this has pretty much shut down the entire world, so Danny takes it upon himself to get the school children under his care home safely. However, one of the more troubled children has gone missing (great job Danny), and has somehow stumbled upon The Doctor and his TARDIS.

22 October 2014

Agents of SHIELD S2E3 "Making Friends and Influencing People" continues to develop the Agents

A lot of people have been wondering where Simmons is and what she is up to in the wake of last season and Fitzs condition, and "Making Friends and Influencing People" answers that question while continuing the shows significant increase in quality since the second season began. This episode mainly follows Simmons as we learn about her whereabouts and reasons for leaving SHIELD, before throwing us into a conflict with an character we last saw in season one.

Without getting spoiler-y, there simply isn't a whole lot that can be said about this episode. There are a lot of reveals here - this may be the episode that moves the plot of the season forward the most so far, giving us a ton more information about the layout of the Marvel Cinematic Universe after the events of Captain America: The Winter Soldier, while also having a lot of really good, but very much plot-centric, character moments back at base.

21 October 2014

Doctor Who S8E9 "Flatline" finally gets Clara right

I've moaned in the past about just how often Clara is promoted to leading an episode, but "Flatline" seems to really make it work. Set predominantly in Bristol, the majority of the running time is spent following Clara and her unlikely gang of misfits as they attempt to survive while they figure out the cause of a series of disappearances in the local area. It's another Doctor-lite episode - The Doctor is trapped inside the functionally useless and rapidly shrinking TARDIS for nearly all the episode.

The actual concept of "Flatline" is that people are being transformed into two-dimensional objects by forces unknown, demonstrated by the pre-opening credits segment of the episode. It's an interesting concept, certainly unique in Doctor Who as far as I know, but in the end it's only used to provide another 'monster of the week' like set of villains for the Doctor to ultimately defeat. Although slightly underwhelming in that sense, the design of these monsters is amongst the best that the series has ever offered, with some excellent CGI being used to provide a creepy, unique enemy that seems genuinely dangerous, a feeling that is only heightened by The Doctors inability to take action throughout most of this episode.

14 October 2014

Agents of SHIELD S2E2 "Heavy Is the Head" proves a show can get better

I was worried that last weeks episode of Agents of SHIELD, "Shadows", was going to be a fluke. I sat through the first season patiently as it got better, but the show never got great - it always suffered from slightly dull characters and slow, plodding dialogue, even as the show got better after the events of Captain America: The Winter Soldier. I was hoping - no, I was basically praying - that Agents of SHIELD could retain the new found quality of "Shadows" for as long as possible.

And it has!

"Heavy is the Head" opens with an exciting pursuit, set immediately after the events of "Shadows". It's a great way to start the episode, throwing the viewers straight into the action - something that season 1 of Agents of SHIELD would most likely have saved for an episode finale. The main plot continues from there, with Agent May in pursuit of Creel after the death of Agent Hartley and Idaho in the car crash at the end of last episode. Meanwhile, Hunter is captured by General Talbot, and coerced into betraying Coulson in exchange for $2 million and a proper burial for Hartley. 

13 October 2014

Doctor Who S8E8 "Mummy on the Orient Express" keeps the season on track

After last weeks polarising and yet also really interesting "Kill The Moon", the post-episode teaser for "Mummy on the Orient Express" looked to be a much more fantastical episode that would be rather forgettable in the grand scheme of things, but, more importantly, the first episode of the season without Clara Oswald in it. This seemed to be the start of that part of the season when the Doctor gets to "go it alone" for a while  - similar to how Tennant had several adventures companion-less during his last season.

I was wrong. Clara is still around in "Mummy on the Orient Express", despite the revelations of "Kill The Moon". It feels like an episode was skipped somewhere that would have dealt with The Doctor as he has to travel alone for a while - instead, we get an awkward apology and the sense that one of the most important events in their relationship (The Doctor contacting the Clara to apologise or to try and make amends) happened off screen.

"Mummy on the Orient Express" takes place on the only train called The Orient Express to travel through space. It's a 'last date' type affair for Clara and The Doctor after their argument in "Kill The Moon", Clara's way of ending on a good point (or so she keeps telling herself). But, as is prone to happen whenever The Doctor takes his TARDIS somewhere, it's not long before they are in the middle of murder mystery type affair, with victims claiming to see the decaying remains of a mummy walking towards them exactly 66 seconds before they drop dead.

9 October 2014

Gone Girl may be one of the best films of 2014

Gone Girl is a film that primarily revolves around the idea of perspective, whether that be a husbands perspective of his marriage, a wife's changing perspective of her husband, the perspective of the police in a missing persons investigation or the perspective of the media as the investigation develops. It follows the disappearance of Amy Dunne from the small town where she lives and the growing media circus surrounding her husband, Nick Dunne, told from both Nick's point of view during the investigation and Amy's point of view in flashbacks taken from her diary, two narrations that offer very different perspectives of the same marriage.

6 October 2014

Doctor Who S8E7 "Kill The Moon" - The most controversial episode yet?

Oh, good god. And I thought the weirdly old fashioned gender roles in "The Caretaker" was a problem. "Kill The Moon" may end up being the most controversial episode of Doctor Who yet, and if there were allegations of Doctor Who being slightly sexist before, this episode will not have helped at all, at least to anyone who understands the importance of allegory and symbolism. There is a reason that companies advertise and government use propaganda to influence a population - humans are extremely susceptible to suggestion, whether they are aware of it or not.

"Kill The Moon" follows The Doctor, Clara, and (for some reason) Courtney, Clara's problem student as they travel to the moon in the year 2049 in order to make Courtney feel special as the first woman on the moon. When they get there, they find that the Earth is in serious peril from the moons ever growing weight, which has caused havoc with the tides, sinking major cities and resulting in Earth sending a small crew of astronauts to the moon in order to destroy it.

1 October 2014

Why Dredd deserves a sequel

Dredd deserves a sequel. Released in 2012, it achieved a cult following nearly overnight despite performing poorly at the box office thanks to just how good it actually was, and how refreshing it was to see an 18 rated action film amongst the terminally 12A landscape. Shortly after the announcement that Dredd hadn't made enough money to fund a sequel, the imaginatively titled "Make A Dredd Sequel" campaign was started, with the intention of proving that there was an audience for a second Dredd film.

Today marks the second Dredd Day of Action, a day organised by the Make A Dredd Sequel campaign where anyone who wants to see a Dredd 2 is meant to do everything they can to promote the film, such as buying new copies, watching the film through streaming services and introducing the film to new people. I'm going to be telling you why Dredd deserves a sequel.