Wednesday, September 20, 2017

My Review of American Horror Story: Cult - Neighbours From Hell

Written by James Wong
Directed by Gwyneth Horder-Payton

Meadow: "Hello les. I think you're a horrible person."
Ally (to Ivy): "That bitch hung up on me."

In this episode, Ally's accidental killing of Pedro could've had more consequences for her but it didn't. Basic self defense laws (in spite of Pedro being an innocent man) meant that she didn't face any jail time for her actions but it certainly brought about a lot of ire as she became labelled the "lesbian George Zimmerman" and incurred the wrath of her quirky neighbours from hell.

The Obama hating, gun collecting half gay/straight coupling of Harrison and Meadow decided to spend a chunk of this episode being suitably vile to Ally by calling her out on cultural appropriation (hilarious when they were wearing the sombreros themselves), putting up some horrible ads on Craigslist and giving Oz a pet guinea pig, which later came to an unpleasant ending that wasn't entirely shocking for this show.

Ally tolerated some of their new neighbours torments but the last one was enough to make her slap the shit out of Harrison before threatening to kill both him and Meadow. In those moments, I quite liked Ally. For the rest of the episode, the character still grated at times that when Ivy slapped her over the whole Winter situation from last week, I actively cheered the latter on.

However, whatever animosity there was between Ally/Ivy and Harrison/Meadow, the episode ended with them both set up as future targets for the killer (that smiley face in blood) and with Meadow supposedly missing as well. I don't know if Meadow actually is missing but I do know that both her and Harrison are linked to Kai and he certainly seemed to working on turning the pair against each other during his pinky scenes this week.

Kai mainly seemed to be taking a bit of a backseat this week but at the same time, it's like every episode has to go out of it's way to find some way to have him and Ally interact though. This week he was commending her for defending herself while trying to protect her from an angry mob. I have no idea what their next encounter is going to look like but I get the feeling that Kai will sink his hooks into Ally pretty soon as she's further isolated from Ivy.

- Rudy the therapist definitely seems to be involved with the cult in some way as that couple at the start were trapped in coffins to die pretty soon after his session with them.
- We properly saw Beverly Hope this week in at least two scenes and next week another familiar actress is back. Also are Harrison and Detective Samuels an item too?
- So is who is spraying the gas on Ally and Ivy's lawn in the middle of night and why hasn't Winter been fired yet?
- Chronology: From where the previous episode left off.

Bit of an oddball episode for me. Neighbours From Hell didn't advance the cult stuff too much and again, Ally's hysteria is beginning to lose my sympathy for her, even if she is being gaslighted by certain people. The scene where she talked about "cisnormative pet names" was some of the most vomit inducing dialogue ever spoken on the show. On the other hand, next week's episode looks really good.

Rating: 6 out of 10

Saturday, September 16, 2017

Halloween 2018 Movie: The Night Laurie Strode Came Home

Yeah, you heard right, people. Even Michael Myers can't keep the most iconic final girl in the horror franchise down and he's certainly spent several decades trying to.

Yesterday through her own Twitter account, actress Jamie Lee Curtis (and on Instagram too) tweeted the following ....

"Same porch. Same clothes. Same issues. 40 years later. Headed back to Haddonfield one last time for Halloween."

Despite the fact that Curtis's character, Laurie Strode was murdered by relentless killing machine, Michael Myers at the start of 2002's Halloween: Resurrection, it seems that she will be appearing in next year's untitled Halloween movie, which could mean anything. Perhaps Laurie's death will be ignored or maybe she'll be some kind of ghost but seeing Curtis kitted out in her original costume in the picture above certainly generated a lot of buzz online. It has been rumoured that the movie will be a sequel to Halloween 2 though I thought 1998's Halloween: H20 somewhat covered that.

The original Halloween movie came out in 1978 with seven sequels spawning between 1981 and 2002, before the franchise was rebooted (rather pointlessly) by Rob Zombie in 2007 and 2009 with Scout Taylor-Compton in the role of Strode and plenty of unwarranted backstory to boot and other unpleasantness, because you know it's from that director. As you can tell, I'm not big on those particular movies, which deserve to be purged from existence.

The new movie will be made by Blumhouse, Miramax and Trancas. The director of the original movie/co-creator of the franchise, John Carpenter will executive produce along with Gordon Green and McBride’s Rough House Pictures. Danny McBride will be scripting the movie along with David Gordon Green.

Also because of this news, I'm gonna have to speed up and complete my reviews for the remaining Halloween movies I've not reviewed yet. I'm absolutely delighted by this news. I never thought we'd see Laurie Strode in a non reboot movie again and now we are. How cool is that?

Press Release:

The upcoming/untitled Halloween movie will be released on October 19th 2018.

Thursday, September 14, 2017

My Review of American Horror Story: Cult - Don't Be Afraid Of The Dark

Written by Tim Minear
Directed by Liza Johnson

Ally: "That's not true, those numbers don't seem right to me. Where are you getting your information from?"
Kai: "Facebook!"

Ah yes, because the instant reactionary that is social media evidently is the best to make an argument for virtually anything. I'll give Ally points for calling out Kai on his readiness to believe random statistics from Facebook but everything else about the character is starting to grate on me a little.

I get that she's got fears (clowns, holes, bees etc) and that she's on the edge and while I definitely think Sarah Paulson is doing a commendable job nonetheless, unless something happens really fast, then Ally is going to further grate on me as a character. There's only so much the show can milk out of the character's growing paranoia and two episodes in, it's starting to feel like we're already at saturation point with her.

This week though when Ally wasn't freaking out about seeing clowns in bed with her, she also had the misfortune of finding her chef's dead body in the restaurant and ended the episode by accidentally shooting Pedro when the power went out and her new neighbour intensified the paranoia with his talk of terrorist threats.

Speaking of the new neighbours - this week we were introduced to married couple, Harrison and Meadow Wilton (Billy Eichner and Leslie Grossman) and already, I'm both fascinated and a little creeped out by them. Both besties - the gay beekeeper and his cancer surviving/pharmaceutical saleswoman wife certainly gave us a lot of information about themselves which managed to send Ally into something of a tizzy at times. Still though they did add a bit of colour to an episode that felt a bit beige at times.

Keeping with the inappropriate for a moment, I genuinely cannot decide what Winter's game actually is. While Kai used his 'beating' to garner some public support and a bid to run for city councilor, Winter seemed more intent on playing mind games with both Oz and Ally for her own amusement. She forced the former into the pinky thing that her and Kai have going on while trying to seduce the latter with a bubble bath. The only person she hasn't manipulated so far is Ivy but I'm sure that will happen soon enough.

As for the political commentary - eh, it was still OTT at times here. I think had this season aired earlier in the year, a lot of the themes (fear, immigrants, walls/bridges etc) would have been a lot more effective but despite some of the show's best intentions, a lot of it is simply not coming together as strongly as it should be.

- Harrison/Meadow aside we were also introduced to Adina Porter's reporter, Beverly Hope for a brief moment this week.
- Oz is short for Ozymandias, which seems appropriate for this season. We also got another Twisty cameo this week.
- Both Ivy and Rudy seemed like they could be planning another solution for Ally if they figure out that she isn't taking her medication.
- Chronology: From where the end of the previous episode left off.

Don't Be Afraid Of The Dark was solid enough but again, the show needs to move away from the election commentary because at the moment, it seems to be holding it back. It's time to really embrace the horror and go mad with the clowns and get the actual cult theme up and running instead of treading the post Trump political blues.

Rating: 7 out of 10

Saturday, September 09, 2017

Aladdin - Further Casting & New Roles Created

A couple of weeks ago I talked about the castings for Aladdin, Jasmine and the Genie for the upcoming live action reboot of Disney's Aladdin, directed by Guy Ritchie. Now further casting has been revealed and one in particular is a rather controversial choice too.

In a role not featured in the movie and where the controversial bit comes in, Billy Magnussen has been cast in the role of Prince Anders. A newly created role for the movie, the Into The Woods actor will play a potential suitor for Princess Jasmine (Naomi Scott) from the fictional place of Skanland. Already this casting decision has seen accusations of whitewashing for the movie and while I'm not sure the movie actually needs the character, I also don't think Anders will be taking any spotlight away from the main characters.

As for the villain of the piece, it seems the role of Jafar will be going to Marwan Kenzari. The actor known for his roles in The Mummy and the upcoming Murder On The Orient Express will play the evil vizer of the Sultan who will scheme to take over Agrabah while also taking on the title character himself, as played by Mena Massoud. I got to admit that Jafar looks pretty hot, casting wise.

As for the Sultan himself, the role will be going to Navid Negahban. The actor who has appeared in Homeland as Abu Nabir and in the US version of Mistresses will be the father of Princess Jasmine, trying to marry her daughter off while also falling fowl to Jafar.

Meanwhile it seems that the villainous Raoul is either being replace or simply renamed as Numan Acar will be playing the role of guard Hakim, who seems to be Jafar's right hand man in the movie. I hope this doesn't mean we're losing Iago though.

The last bit of casting for now (but revealed weeks ago) is Nasim Pedrad. The Scream Queens actress will be playing an original character in the movie named Dalia, who has been described as a handmaid and confidante for Princess Jasmine.

I think that's probably it for casting announcements now. Filming for Aladdin should be starting within the next few months for released on May 24th 2019.

Friday, September 08, 2017

My Review of American Horror Story: Cult - Election Night

Written by Ryan Murphy & Brad Falchuk
Directed by Bradley Buecker

Kai (to Mr Chang): "I said there is nothing more dangerous in this world than a humiliated man."

Okay, I've had some mixed feelings on this upcoming season to be honest. On one hand, I'm surprised it's taken the show until it's seventh season to actually do a season involving cults but on the other hand, I cannot be the only one who has become fatigued by Trump infecting the media.

I hate the guy as much as the next person and I certainly think he shouldn't be president either but sifting through this first episode alone as our lead female character of the piece Ally Mayfair-Richards (Sarah Paulson) and her wife, Ivy (Alison Pill) watched the results of the orangey one's victory back in November and despite sympathizing with Ally's reaction, I also found it as cringe inducing as Kai Anderson's (Evan Peters) more elated reaction to proceedings.

Seeing the contrasting reactions would've been more interesting had I not seen the same thing over social media for the last ten months, so I kind of feel like we've already done this even before the episode was ten minutes into proceedings already. What we didn't see were the more neutral or muted reactions to the election but with ten episodes left to go, it's likely we will at some point.

Trump becoming president however is a part of this season's narrative and also motivating both Ally and Kai's actions in this one and for the season. Ally seems to be driven by fear, mainly of clowns as she freaks out when she catches her son, Ozzie reading a Twisty The Clown comic book while imagining clowns everywhere she goes, including one volatile moment in the supermarket, much to Ivy's own frustrations.

Kai on the other hand, when he wasn't taking pleasure in forcing his sister, Winter (Billie Lourd) in making some confessions and throwing coffee over Ally and Ivy also took the time to spread some racist rhetoric around town while also getting himself beaten up for a scheme that we should see the results fairly soon I bet.

As for the gross out moments of the moment, we did get to see Twisty murdering another couple in the comics while a group of clowns also broke into the Changs home and murdered them, which gave some justification for Ally's triggered fears of them. Then there was also Winter becoming Ozzie's babysitter and being all kinds of inappropriate by showing the kid gruesome videos online and gaslighting him in front of his concerned parents. Safe to say that Winter is just as unhinged as her 4Chan inspired sibling is to be honest.

- Other characters we saw in the episode briefly were Gary Longstreet (Chaz Bono), Rudy Vincent (Cheyenne Jackson) - Ally's therapist and Detective Samuels (Colton Haynes).
- Ally and Ivy run a restaurant called The Butchery On Main. This season is also set in Michigan. I also found it interesting that Ally didn't actually vote Clinton either. Nice enough twist there.
- Is Twisty going to be kept to comics or will he actually surface in the present day?
- Chronology: November 2016 before swiftly moving into early 2017 it seems.

Election Night wasn't the strongest opening episode we've had and while the commentary is timely, it has been so prevalent on social media that I think part of it's impact didn't quite land as it should have done. Still though, there were plenty of great moments in the episode and if we can move away from the Trump/Clinton bits and focus on the clowns that would be nice.

Rating: 7 out of 10

Saturday, September 02, 2017

Titans - Cast Members For Upcoming DC Digital Series Announced

I've been waiting to do a blog on this one for a while and now seems like the right as three cast members have been announced for the upcoming DC Comics Digital Service series, Titans.

Brenton Thwaites, recently seen in Pirates Of The Caribbean 5 has bagged the role of Dick Grayson. However the press release has started that he will be the future leader of the Titans, while also giving up life as a cop to resume his heroics. I got to admit I'm surprised with Thwaites's casting. I honestly thought if he were going to be involved in the DC universe, it would be on the big screen but this is an interesting development. As for the controversy with Thwaites casting, I can see both sides of the arguments but I'd rather give the guy a chance before writing him off though.

Meanwhile Anna Diop has been cast as Starfire. The actress who recently appeared in 24: Legacy will play the orange skinned alien and there has been some comments on her casting. Having not really seen her in action, I have no informed opinion but I'm sure Diop will be great as Starfire.

The last bit of casting for now is that Teagan Croft will be playing the role of Raven for the digital series. The upcoming series is being spearheaded by Arrow universe showrunner Greg Berlanti along with Akiva Goldsman, Geoff Johns and Sarah Schechter. I'll post more updates when Beast Boy and the rest of the series main players are cast.

Press Release:

Titans will be released on DC Comics streaming services in 2018.

Tuesday, August 29, 2017

Defenders Assemble But Not Yet Though

Yup, this one is a bit of a Marvel/Netflix special in some ways as I completed two of their shows and started the other one though.

Game Of Thrones: The last three episodes of Season Seven certainly ramped up basically everything, didn't it? We had some welcome deaths (Littlefinger, you won't be missed), some shocks (Viseron being taken over by the Night King) and that melee with Jon, Daenerys and Cersei as the latter took her self preservation to a new level, which meant even isolating Jaime of all people. The reveal of Jon's heritage from last season got more expansion during the worst/most clickbait grabbing moment and with six episodes left before the end in 2019 (the current rumour for the eighth season to air), the final moments as the White Walkers make their biggest attack yet was a hell of a way to end an overall excellent penultimate season.

Iron Fist: The weakest of the Marvel/Netflix shows still, but I'll admit things did pick a little in the second half of the season. Adding both Bakuto and Davos into the mix livened up the interactions between Danny, Colleen and Claire as the Hand storyline took something of a brief pause in the finale while Ward and Joy both had to deal with the fallout of Harold's increasingly unhinged behaviour. While I do think there were times where Finn Jones struggled a bit in the role, I am hoping that between The Defenders (which I've just started) and this show's proposed second season the show gets a better handle on Danny. There's certainly potential for that.

Luke Cage: Like it's other Marvel series, this is a show that could do with better pacing but saying that, the second half was pretty solid stuff. I liked the Mariah/Shades team up after Cottonmouth was taken out of the picture along with Luke and Diamondback finally going head to head. The finale didn't feel quite like an event compared to other ones but it was a good way to end the series. I also have to give props to both Misty and Claire, both of whom got better as the series went along, so I'm looking forward to seeing more of them next season.

Midnight, Texas: I've been sticking with this show and while it's not gripping as True Blood was back in the day, it's still a lot of fun to watch. Focusing on characters like Lemuel, Olivia and Fiji certainly doesn't hurt the series as they're easily the three strongest of the bunch but there isn't anyone I actively dislike. Manfred and Creek's budding relationship isn't hugely compelling but it's nice enough and the mix of baddies like a Succubus and that biker gang does keep things moving along at a nice pace along with the arc hints here and there. Just five more episodes to go.

Orange Is The New Black: I've loved this season and given that the riot arc could've easily wore thin after a few episodes, I'm genuinely surprised that the writers managed to get a whole season's worth of a story out of it. Of course it had to come to an end but with the cliffhanger we've got, there's also the chance we might lose a character or two going into the show's sixth season. In terms of flashbacks, I quite enjoyed Piper and Alex's (even with the return of Larry) and their engagement was rather sweet. Next season should be very interesting.

The Defenders: Blitzing through both Luke Cage and Iron Fist in the last week meant getting to the first two episodes of this team up and so far, so good. I've loved seeing the various characters from each show interacting with one another and while we've only had half the gang interacting so far - Luke and Danny, Matt and Jessica, the build up has certainly been rather fun to see. As for Alexandra/Madame Gao/The Hand stuff - at least it's actually going somewhere now and with Elektra and Stick in the mix, I can imagine a lot of bad shit is about to go down in the remaining episodes of this crossover series.

- Ben Platt will be guesting in Will & Grace while Minnie Driver will also reprise her role as Lorraine in the upcoming season.
- Robbie Amell and Lauren Ambrose will be returning for Season 11 of The X Files.
- Lena Dunham will be playing Valerie Solanas in American Horror Story: Cult. Emma Roberts will be playing a newscaster named Serina Belinda for an episode. Angela Bassett will direct the ninth episode in the upcoming season.
- UK viewers will be able to see The Gifted on FOX from October.
- UK viewers also can see the first season of Star on 5* from this Thursday. It's also been rumoured that Empire will be moved there as well instead of E4 for it's upcoming fourth season.
- Jane The Virgin's fourth season will now be 17 episodes.
- Richard Flood will recur in Shameless's eighth season.
- Kevin Ryan will guest in Once Upon A Time's seventh season.
- Anna Diop and Teagan Croft have been cast as Starfire and Raven respectively for the upcoming live action Teen Titans TV series.
- Katee Sackhoff has a recurring in The Flash's fourth season as the villain, Blacksmith.

Thursday, August 17, 2017

My Review of The Lego Batman Movie (2017)

Written by Seth Grahame-Smith & Chris McKenna & Erik Sommers & Jared Stern & John Whittington
Directed by Chris McKay

Batman (to Joker): "There is no "us." Batman and Joker are not a thing. I don't need you. I don't need anyone. You mean nothing to me. No one does."

After the more dark depiction of the Dark Knight in Batman V. Superman: Dawn Of Justice, it seems that Lego felt compelled to do their own spin-off on the Caped Crusader with a version that's more of a gently mocking commentary on the brooding hero than anything else.

Will Arnett reprises his role as Batman, living the high life in Gotham City, catching the bad guys and enjoying the admiration that comes with it but at the same time, he's a Batman that has some serious issues with letting people in. Even the poor Joker (Zach Galifianakis) finds himself being rather friend zoned by Batman and that results in something truly interesting.

As we all know, the Joker is a man who clamours attention and when Batman himself is too emotionally closed off to admit that the Clown Prince is his greatest enemy, the Joker's only choice is to surrender himself and virtually everyone else in the Rogues Gallery to new Commissioner Barbara Gordon (Rosario Dawson).

Of course Batman suspects that something's afoot and along with his adopted son, Dick Grayson/Robin (Michael Cera), he's soon breaking into the Fortress of Solitude, attempting to distract Superman (Channing Tatum) while his new protege steals a projector in order to send the baddies into the Phantom Zone.

However, what Batman didn't bargain on was the Joker actually wanting to go there in the first place where he manages to escape but not before bringing the likes of the Daleks, the Wicked Witch of the West, Sauron, Godzilla, King Kong, Agent Smith and Voldemort to name a few in order to destroy Gotham once and for all while invading Wayne Island and breaking into the Batcave. That moment led to a hilarious mistake as the Joker assumed that Batman and Bruce Wayne were roommates.

With the new set of baddies reigning chaos on Gotham City, this finally meant that Batman had to put his "working alone" mantra to one side as Barbara became Batgirl, Robin became useful and Alfred (Ralph Fiennes) was just generally awesome as the new team and the Rogues Gallery worked together in order to stop the Joker's latest scheme.

That said, the biggest theme of this movie was getting Batman to accept that he wasn't alone and while it took nearly the end of the movie for him to embrace having a new family as well as a best enemy, it was still a fun journey to see unfold. The moment where both Batman and Joker admitted to hating one another is without a doubt one of the funniest and touching moments we've seen in that 75+ year relationship.

- I loved the various nods to previous Batman movies during this one. I also liked how the likes of King Tut and Condiment King also appears along with the usual suspects. Oh and the Shark Repellent bit too was hilarious.
- Mariah Carey popped up for a few scenes as the Mayor of Gotham City.
- A Justice League party without the Batman - sacrilege!
- The musical numbers made me laugh, but points especially for Who's the (Bat) Man.

The Lego Batman Movie is an unbridled joy. Purely silly, purely heartfelt and extremely funny, I regret that I didn't see the movie in the cinemas during it's release but catching up with it now, I'm really glad this was a success too. It's easily one of the daftest Batman movies you'll ever see but also one of the best too.

Rating: 8 out of 10

Tuesday, August 08, 2017

A Town For Outcasts

Summer's nearly over but there's still be some highlights (and catching up for me) as I look into some of the recent stuff I've watched.

Game Of Thrones: It seems that moving this mammoth of a show to the summer for it's seventh and penultimate season hasn't hurt it in the slightest as the ratings have continued to impress. In spite of leaks and one truly unwarranted cameo from Ed Sheeran in the opening episode, this season has been amazing so far. We've had two epic battle sequences as both Cersei and Daenerys have fought for supremacy while the latter's meeting with Jon Snow has intensified pretty fast too. Along with some characters (Sand Snakes, Ellaria and Olenna) and the reunion of the three Stark children, this season certainly hasn't been idle so far and with three episodes left to go, I can't wait to see what else is in store for us.

Iron Fist: I'm halfway through this series and it's still in dire need of picking up the pace. Out of all the Marvel/Netflix shows, it's definitely emerging as the weakest as even I'm struggling a little with Finn Jones as Danny Rand. So far, he's been a bit too meh for my liking in the role. On the other hand, Colleen is more interesting, Claire has popped up and the Meachums are also picking up a little as well. The plotline with the Hand isn't much better than what we've gotten on Daredevil so far but hopefully it'll pick up in later episodes.

Luke Cage: Like it's other Marvel/Netflix show, there are some pacing issues but I am overall finding this one a bit better than the other one. Once again, you've got Claire Temple added into the mix and the ongoing rivalry between Luke and Cottonmouth has heated up nicely along with Mariah's own machinations as well. Much as I like Misty though, the show could do a little better with her other than her finding out about her corrupt partner and being a thorn for Luke though. I did however enjoy the flashbacks to how Luke got his powers though.

Midnight, Texas: Nine years ago, HBO adapted Charlaine Harris's Sookie Stackhouse books and turned it into one of their most successful shows with True Blood, which ran for seven seasons. Now in 2017, NBC have done the same with one of Harris's more recent works and are probably hoping for a similar success story. This show has a lot in common with the former HBO hit  - a medium type protagonist, an assortment of colourful characters and an array of all kind of craziness and monsters that go bump in the night. Manfred might be our leading man but it's the other characters that I think people will stay for. Whether that's vampire Lemuel and hitwoman Olivia or witch Fiji (and her talking cat) or angel Joe and his husband, Chuy, this is a show that's hokey but filled with a memorable group of characters but whether or not it will around for long given NBC's history with supernatural themed shows is the other thing. Here's hoping though.

Orange Is The New Black: I have only two episodes left to go and I'm still rather surprised that the riot storyline hasn't completely tested my patience. Maybe it's because we've had some interesting flashbacks (Piscatella's) or the whole situation with Red and Piscatella coming to a head while Tasytee has also been trying to get Joe and Figuaro to actually work things out for the prisoners but either way, it's worked out pretty well so far. That said, after the last two episodes are watched, I do wonder how the show will go as things have definitely been changed a lot this season.

- Jeff Ward will have a recurring role in Agents Of Shield's fifth season. His character name has yet to be revealed.
- ITV are planning another adaptation of Pride & Prejudice for 2020 from the same production company as Poldark and Victoria.
- Hartley Sawyer has been cast as Elongated Man for Season 4 of The Flash.
- Carlos Bernard will play Maggie's father in Season 3 of Supergirl.
- Annabeth Gish will return for Season 11 of The X Files.
- Will & Grace has been renewed for a tenth season while it's upcoming ninth season will now be 16 episodes.
- Brianna Brown will recur in Dynasty's first season. Netflix have picked up the show for UK viewers.
- Emma Roberts will be returning for American Horror Story: Cult but Kathy Bates will not.
- Esai Morales and Benito Martinez will be back for How To Get Away With Murder's fourth season.
- Sydelle Noelle will recur in Arrow's upcoming sixth season.

Saturday, August 05, 2017

My Review of Batman: Under The Red Hood (2010)

Written by Judd Winick
Directed by Brandon Vietti

Red Hood: "Tell me, how does that feel?"
Joker: "You know, it only hurts when I laugh. But hey... I gotta know. Who are you? You said we knew one another. You do seem really familiar. We double at the prom? Or maybe blow up a school bus together?"

And here's another animated movie adapting a popular comic within the Batman franchise. This time around, it's Under The Red Hood which starts with a handy recap of A Death In The Family where the Joker kidnapped and bashed in Jason Todd's Robin's brains in before an explosion killed him. Back in the late 1980's, people actually voted for the second Boy Wonder to be killed but you know, the thing about comic book characters is that very few of them actually stay dead for long.

Now a few decades later and Jason Todd is back, resurrected by the Lazarus Pit in some attempt by Ras al Ghul (Jason Isaacs) to give Bruce back his other son but the process went a bit wrong and now Jason has gone into a weird hybrid of vigilante meets serial killer by donning the moniker of Red Hood, a name formerly used by someone else all those years ago.

Voiced by Supernatural actor Jensen Ackles, Jason's on a one man mission of revenge against the Joker (John DiMaggio) and he does this by targeting Black Mask's (Wade Williams) criminal organisation, bringing it to it's knees and making the gangster so desperate to take out the Red Hood that the Joker suddenly becomes the best option here.

To say that Black Mask is a patsy in this story would almost be complimenting him. He's never been one of my favourite members of the Rogues Gallery but he's absolutely useless in this story. All he seems to do is shout like an imbecile at his beleaguered staff, with even one member Ms Li (Kelly Hu) treating him with little more than contempt and disdain for him. At no point in this movie is he remotely interesting or threatening as a villain.

As for the Joker, he's not got the best voice actor in this one. I've heard DiMaggio in other DC animated movie roles and he's fine but he simply doesn't cut it as the Joker, even though he's given a decent script to work with here. His Joker is certainly lethal in the flashbacks and the delight he takes when he realises that Jason is alive and crazy is amusing enough but the voice just doesn't sound right, no matter how many times I've seen the movie. Sometimes you just need a Mark Hamill for this type of movie.

As for Batman (Bruce Greenwood), he fares a little better but mostly he's reacting to Red Hood's antics or remembering Jason's formative years as Robin before their confrontation with the Joker in the warehouse. There's a nice supporting role for Nightwing (Neil Patrick Harris) who's a bit more cheerful but sadly he's also taken out of the mix a little too quickly for my liking. The movie does however end on a rather poignant and bittersweet note.

- Nice reference to The Killing Joke, which happened a year after the events of Jason's murder. Shame we didn't get an Oracle cameo in this one.
- Judd Winick wrote the comic and adapted this movie. Apparently he prefers the latter iteration.
- There's a clever reference to the Joker's first ever comic appearance with his prison number.
-  We've seen allusions to Jason's murder in two of the DCEU's movies. Oh and a brief Riddler cameo in flashbacks too.

A strong movie, Under The Red Hood provided a great adaptation of it's comic counterpart. While I do think the Joker could've been voiced better and found Black Mask useless, Jason made for a compelling character as Red Hood than he ever did as Robin and the reunion with him and Batman was definitely handled well.

Rating: 7 out of 10

Monday, July 31, 2017

My Review of Batman: Year One (2011)

Written by Tab Murphy
Directed by Sam Liu & Lauren Montgomery

Batman: "Ladies, gentlemen, you've eaten well. You've eaten Gotham's wealth. Its spirit. But your feast is nearly over. From this moment on, none of you are safe."

A few years before landing the role of James Gordon in Gotham, Benjamin McKenzie actually had the honour of playing the Dark Knight himself, albeit in animated form in this pretty faithful adaptation of a popular Frank Miller comic of the same.

Year One is telling us the readers/viewers of Bruce Wayne's first year as Batman and it's a pretty fascinating enough look into things as after several years of being out of the city, Bruce returns to Gotham with a mission statement in mind and a determination to help clean up the city of the crime that the police themselves just haven't been able to manage to do since his absence.

With flashbacks to his calling with a bat flying into his house, we get to see Bruce going undercover to tackle a pimp mistreating one of his girls while also getting into a fight with Selina Kyle (Eliza Dushku), who in this universe is a dominatrix before taking on her more famous role. Bruce then manages to get arrested before escaping police custody and escalating his fight even further by attracting the wrath of mafia boss Carmine Falcone (Alex Rocco).

However while this might be exploring Batman's first year, it's also delving into Detective James Gordon's (Bryan Cranston) as he not has to deal with a crime riddled city, but also corruption within his own station thanks to both Flass (Fred Tatasciore) and Commissioner Loeb (Jon Polito) playing their own role in the city's corruption.

There's a not so thrilling affair subplot with Detective Essen (Katee Sackhoff) thrown into the mix which doesn't really threaten or endanger Gordon's marriage to his pregnant wife, Barbara but it does come to a head when Bruce manages to successfully get Gordon off his scent (for a bit), even though it adds little to the storyline. However by the time Barbara actually gives birth, the baby in question is then used as leverage between Loeb, Falcone's men as both Gordon and a barely disguised Bruce rush to save the child and take down the baddies.

For an insight into one year, it covers a decent amount of stuff. We get to see both Gordon and Bruce's journeys play out really well and there's space for Selina to go on her journey as Catwoman, even if she's treated as being in the way during one particular altercation between herself, Batman and Falcone. While I definitely could've done with more of Selina and am critical of Miller's depiction of her in this story, it was nice to see both her and Batman still share some screen time together.

- The DVD for this has a 15 minute Catwoman cartoon, which sees Dushku reprise the role and take down a baddie of her own.
- Vicki Vale was added to this movie, though the character did not appear in the comic itself.
- Prior to Batman Begins, there were some plans for a Year One movie but they were scrapped.
- The movie ends with a set up for the Joker.

Year One is a dynamic enough adaptation of the popular comic. While I think McKenzie might make a better Gordon than Batman on another show, he does a decent job even though he's slightly overshadowed by Cranston's depiction of Gordon. It's a strong animated movie though, one that really should get a sequel at some point.

Rating: 7 out of 10

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

SDCC 2017 - Highlights Part 2 (DC Special)

I did this last year - covering most of the DC related stuff at San Diego Comic Con and this year again, I'm also doing it because there was a lot of exciting stuff unveiled over the weekend.

- First of all, a brand spanking new trailer for Justice League was unveiled, giving us more details into the upcoming movie (November 17th, people) as well as hints that Superman fans will be pleased with the movie itself.
- There was also some footage from Aquaman but it's yet to be officially released.
- Ben Affleck also confirmed that despite, adamant media reports, he's not leaving the role of Batman just yet.
- Future movies announced as well include Shazam, The Batman, Batgirl, Justice League Dark, Green Lantern Corps, Flashpoint and sequels for both Wonder Woman and Suicide Squad.
- It's now been confirmed that the Wonder Woman sequel will be released December 13 2019.
- While I had wished that there was some new casting announced for some of these upcoming movies, it's nice that we have a definite slate coming up. We just need some filming and release dates though along with further cast announcements.

Justice League Trailer:
Comic Con Panel:

Meanwhile in the television universes ....

We got some obligatory trailers for the CW verse shows and a lot of spoilers to boot. Let's discuss, shall we?

- Michael Emerson will be joining Arrow's sixth season (October 12th) in a mysterious role. The trailer revealed a few survivors but not all of them as of yet.
- Danny Trejo will play Gypsy's father while Neil Sandilands will play the Thinker on The Flash's fourth season (October 10th). The Mechanic (Kim Engelbrecht) and Elongated Man will appear this season as well.
- Supergirl's third season (October 9th) will see Calista Flockhart reprise her role as Cat Grant in a recurring capacity while Adrian Pasder, Yael Grobglas, Emma Tremblay and Carl Lumbly have joined the cast as Morgan Edge, Psi, Ruby and M'yrnn J'onzz respectively.
- Legends Of Tomorrow's third season  (October 10th) will see returns from Leonard Snart, Damien Darkh and Rip Hunter in regular and recurring roles while Sara's bisexuality will be further explored. Matt Ryan may also be appearing as John Constantine in a later episode of the season. Kuasa (Anika Noni Rose) will be the main antagonist this season. Also expect a new hero not from any of the other shows to appear.
- Black Lightning (Spring 2018) has added both James Remar and Damon Gupton to it's lineup.
- Robert Knepper will be a regular for iZombie's fourth season.
- Tom Welling has joined the cast of Lucifer for it's third season.
- Krypton will feature versions of Brainiac and Hawkwoman in it's first season.

Meanwhile no new details have been given yet for the upcoming four way crossover, other than a reveal that it will happen properly in the Supergirl part of the show.

Arrow - Season 6 Trailer:
The Flash - Season 4 Trailer:
Supergirl - Season 3 Trailer:
Legends Of Tomorrow - Season 3Trailer:
Black Lightning - Season 1 Trailer:

Meanwhile Gotham's fourth season (September 21st) is certainly heading into darker territory as well. With the subtitle, Dawn Of Night, the trailer released over the weekend gave us plenty to mull over. First of all, there was seeing Bruce (David Mazouz) and Selina (Camren Bicondova) embracing their respective destinies while Oswald (Robin Lord Taylor) and Ivy (Maggie Geha) unveiled a frozen Nygma (Cory Michael Smith) as part The Iceberg Lounge's main feature. Other highlights in the trailer include a confrontation between Alfred (Sean Pertwee) and Zsasz (Anthony Carrigan) along with Tabitha (Jessica Lucas) facing off a not so dead Barbara (Erin Richards), Gordon (Benjamin McKenzie) facing off a clown thug and the arrival of Jonathan Crane's The Scarecrow (Charlie Tahan). Not shown in the trailer but confirmed on the panel would be that Barbara would be working with Ras Al Ghul (Alexander Siddig) this season as will Lee (Morena Baccarin) with Nygma and Solomon Grundy (Drew Powell) while Bruce will be getting armor and weapons for his vigilante lifestyle. Viewers can also expect to meet Sofia Falcone (Crystal Reed) and Professor Pyg (casting tbc) this season as well. The fourth season will also draw influences from both The Long Halloween and Year One. Benjamin McKenzie will also be writing the season's fourth episode too.

Gotham - Season 4 Trailer:

Last but not least, a preview of the CWSeed's upcoming animated series, Freedom Fighters: The Ray. Announced last year, the show will finally be making it's debut in the autumn and will see the titular hero (actor tbc) fighting evil versions of the Green Arrow, the Flash and Supergirl in an alternative universe. Touted as the first superhero show where the main hero is gay, the trailer does look promising and I'm hopeful at some point that like with Vixen, the character will eventually appear in a live action Arrow universe show. As in within this current TV season.

Freedom Fighters: The Ray Promo:

That's a warp for all the DC related stuff, until another while folks.

SDCC 2017 - Highlights Part 1

It was that time of year again. Last week, San Diego Comic Con was all over the press and here are some of the highlights of the events, spread out on two blog entries.

Doctor Who: In the past, this would've been given a blog to itself but I don't think I had enough to justify that this time around. The panel this year comprised of Steven Moffat and Mark Gatiss along with outgoing stars Peter Capaldi, Pearl Mackie, Matt Lucas and Michelle Gomez and it was certainly an emotional panel as the focus was rightly on the 12th Doctor's era, resulting in Peter himself getting a much deserved round of applause from the audience. While there was some brief discussion from various Whoverse people surrounding Jodie Whittaker's casting as the 13th Doctor, the focus was primarily on the current era. A minute long trailer was released for the Christmas special, now titled Twice Upon A Time, which sees both the 12th and 1st Doctors (latter played by David Bradley) dealing with time being wrecked once again. The special will also see the return of Pearl Mackie's Bill Potts for the last time on the show as well as Lily Travers taking on the role of 60's companion, Polly Wright (the role played by Anneke Wills) previous while Mark Gatiss will be playing a character named the Captain along with Toby Whithouse as a German soldier during the WW1 setting. Unlike last year's entry, this one does look a little more Christmassy by comparison. You can watch the trailer for it here ....

Christmas 2017 Promo:

American Horror Story: The show is back yet again, for a seventh season, which now has the subtitle of Cult and with it, at least two scary-ish promos involving sinister looking clowns to boot. Over the last few days, it was confirmed that the show would be moving to Tuesdays and airing from September 5th. On top of that, we also learned that this season will now have eleven episodes and that Sarah Paulson and Evan Peters characters are named Ally and Kai, who have "a love story for the ages" while both Mare Winningham and France Conroy will be back this season along with Lena Dunham guest starring in an episode. Oh and Twisty the Clown from Freak Show too.

AHS: Cult Promo:

Star Trek: Discovery: Another show given quite the push over the weekend with Netflix and CBS releasing another trailer for the prequel series. I've seen a lot of debate surrounding the fact that this is a prequel (that and the new looking Klingons) and while I'll admit that it feels unnecessary after Enterprise, the second trailer sold me more to the series than the first one did (and I quite liked the first one). It's also come to my attention that Anthony Rapp's character, Lt Stamets will also be in a relationship with Wilson Cruz's Dr. Hugh Culber, the Starship Discovery's medical officer. US viewers will be able to see the show on Sundays from September 24th with UK viewers getting it the very next day on Netflix.

Star Trek: Discovery Trailer:

- Once Upon A Time's seventh season will see Dania Ramirez playing a new version of Cinderella/the mother of Henry's daughter, Lucy. Also joining the cast this season are Gabrielle Anwar as Lady Tremaine, Adelaide Kane as Drizella, Rose Reynolds as Alice and Mekia Cox as Tiana. Emma, Henry and Belle will return for an episode each and there will be a gay character introduced this season as well.
- The Originals fifth season will be it's last season.
- Michelle Pfeiffer will play Janet van Dyne in Ant Man And The Wasp. Laurence Fishburne will also be a part of the movie.
- Samuel L. Jackson's Nick Fury will also be appearing in Captain Marvel.
- Iron Fist has been renewed for a second season and Misty Knight will be joining the series.
- Game Of Thrones released another trailer for the remaining episodes of it's seventh season and more chaos is come for all concerned.
- Supernatural's female led spin-off, Wayward Sisters has it's cast with Briana Buckmaster, Kathryn Newton and Katherine Ramdeen heading up the series.
- Vanessa Morgan will be joining the Riverdale cast for it's second season. The show will also introduce a bisexual character too.
- Charlize Theron will guest star in The Orville.
- Jonathan Tucker and Neil Jackson will guest star in Westworld's second season.
- Isaiah Washington will return for the fifth season of The 100.
- Wynonna Earp has been renewed for a third season.

That's it for Part 1. Part 2 will be up and it'll be a DC related one. 

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Aladdin - Live Action Movie Cast

And this also happened during the weekend. A few days ago,  Guy Ritchie apparently had trouble finding the leads for his upcoming live action version of Disney's Aladdin but during the weekend, three prominent cast members were announced.

The title tole itself will be played by Egyptian-Canadian actor Mena Massoud. A relative newcomer, Mena's previous credits have included a short film named Americanistan and a role in the upcoming Jack Ryan TV series. Mena will now be the infamous street rat turned prince and while I haven't really seen any of his past credits yet, he does look the part.

Meanwhile the role of Princess Jasmine herself will go to British-Indian actress, Naomi Scott, who earlier this year played Pink Ranger Kimberly Hart in the Power Rangers reboot movie. Needless to say, Naomi's casting has generated some comments on the usual places but personally, I'm pretty fine with her playing the headstrong princess.

Elsewhere Will Smith will be taking on the role of the Genie for this live action production. He's been rumoured for the role for a while now, so I wasn't too shocked when his casting was confirmed over the weekend. The casting so far looks pretty solid and it'll be interesting to see who they get for Jafar, Iago and the Sultan. The live action movie is being written by John August.

Press Release:

Filming for Aladdin begins soon with a release date to be confirmed.

Monday, July 17, 2017

Doctor Who - Jodie Whittaker Is The 13th Doctor

I think in the last twenty four hours prior to the announcement, we probably all saw this one coming, huh?

On July 16th at 4.30pm on BBC1, history was made when a minute long trailer aired during the Wimbledon Men’s Final as it showed us the new Doctor walking through a forest, all hooded up, only for the last few seconds to reveal that the thirteenth incarnation of the Time Lord was in fact, Jodie Whittaker as she smiled and headed towards the TARDIS, key in hand.

The 35 year old actress, best known for her roles in both Broadchurch (created by incoming showrunner, Chris Chibnall) and Attack The Block was confirmed as the 13th Doctor and to say the reaction on social media was strong would be an understatement. The reaction primarily being one of near universal support for Whittaker’s casting but like with any actor casting in the role of the Doctor, there was also some opposition and some concerns too.

Now anyone who’s followed my tweets or read my comments on GallifreyBase will be more than aware of the fact that I haven’t been keen on the idea of a female Doctor and while I  would’ve preferred a male for the Doctor too, I am however in complete support of Whittaker’s casting in the role. Did you really think I was going to drop the show because the Doctor’s a woman now? As if!

However I do feel that there are some things from both sides of the female Doctor debate that should be addressed a little here, so here goes ....

1: Labelling people who either didn’t want a female Doctor or have concerns about what the casting means for the show as misogynistic fails to address the fact that there have also been female fans too that have shared similar viewpoints on the matter. Sorry social media, but it’s not just men who may have an issue with a female Doctor.
2: The feminist critics and ‘woke’ social media types who do this are exactly the same people who would’ve reacted in a similarly childish manner had the BBC and Chibnall cast a conventionally attractive white male Doctor.
3: Framing Whittaker’s casting as a feminist victory comes across as pretty extreme response, considering that the show itself has always had fantastic female characters since it’s debut in 1963 and that the revived series has been more inclusive to female fans and generally everyone since it’s return in 2005. The show hadn’t been lacking a strong female presence, so not let’s not act like it was people, okay?
4: There is nothing wrong with having concerns about a female Doctor. Whether people like it or not, the casting is a huge risk, but it’s also one that obviously both the BBC and Chibnall considered but felt they could pull off. Vilifying people for expressing concern on this also reeks of hypocrisy.
5: Casting a female Doctor does change the show’s dynamic. It’s naive to assume otherwise. While I don’t think it’ll help the show if it overemphasises the Doctor now being a woman, it’s still something the show has to address too but I have confidence that Chibnall will not treat it in a gimmicky way.
6: With a female Doctor now at the helm, I do think it’s time for the main companion of the series to be male. By all means, introduce a secondary female companion towards the latter half of Series 11, but for now the main companion should be male.
7: The show has been in something of a rut for a while and it needed a jolt. This might not have been the one I had in mind, but the fact that it got people talking in a way that Peter Capaldi’s era hasn’t certainly indicates that Whittaker’s casting might bring some viewers back and add some newer ones in this mix.
8: Gender swapping characters still doesn’t address the gender imbalance issue in the media either. Spotlighting existing female characters and creating newer ones should be the way to tackle this thorny issue as well as acknowledging the plethora of female led shows we’ve had in the last several decades.

That said and going back to one of my earlier statements – Jodie Whittaker is the 13th Doctor and therefore she has my support and I can’t wait to see what she brings to the role. I still do have some concerns but I will admit the trailer alone did inspire confidence that she’ll bring an interesting new side to one of the best characters of all time and I liked her costume, even though it's not actually her official one.

Elsewhere there’s still one more episode left from departing Doctor Peter Capaldi and this week (July 23rd), the 12th Doctor actor along with Pearl Mackie (Bill), Matt Lucas (Nardole), Michelle Gomez (Missy), Steven Moffat and Mark Gatiss will be attending San Diego Comic Con for a special panel, complete with a preview clip of the Christmas special, rumoured to be titled The Doctors that will also include David Bradley as the First Doctor and a glimpse of Jodie Whittaker’s Thirteen Doctor as well. Further casting for the special has yet to be confirmed but both Bill and Nardole will appear in some capacity along with rumoured appearances from some other past faces as well. Either way, we’re moving into a bold new era for the series.

The Doctors will air on Christmas Day on BBC1 and BBCAmerica respectively. Series 11 of Doctor Who is rumoured to begin filming around November.

Saturday, July 15, 2017

Riot, Riot

A bit of a Netflix special here with three shows I've been catching up on.

Iron Fist: The most divisive of the Marvel/Netflix shows and aside from the moaning about Finn Jones's casting, which I've long since decided to drown out, the biggest crime this show has committed has been how ridiculously slow paced it is. I'm all for build up as much as the next person but even I have to admit that the first two episodes were something of a slog to get though. As for Jones himself, he's okay as Danny Rand but I'll admit the fight scenes are a little underwhelming so far while the flashbacks are only okay. Other characters like brother/sister duo, Ward and Joy Meachum are pretty decent and I already like Colleen Wing. Harold Meachum on the other hand is a little hokey on the baddie front but at least we're getting more on the Hand threat though.

Luke Cage: Like the other Marvel/Netflix show mentioned, I've only just started this one and while there are some pacing problems with this show too, I didn't find the first two episodes to be quite as slow moving though. The Harlem setting and the use of musical acts like Faith Hill in nightclub Paradise are a high point of the series along with the deft handling of Luke's backstory and characters such as Misty Knight, Cornelius and Mariah herself. The gang and political related storylines are also strong enough so far too. In some respects, the series feels like something from a different era and that's one of it's strengths so far. I plan to have both this and Iron Fist completed before moving onto The Defenders.

Orange Is The New Black: The fifth season of the popular prison drama came back last month and I've so far managed to watch about seven episodes. Setting the seasons entirely around a prison riot in the aftermath of Poussey's death seemed like a risky venture but so far, it's actually working pretty well. While the prisoners themselves are going overboard in getting their revenge on the guards, I've liked the various group dynamics and the flashbacks have helped break up the riot scenes a little so things haven't felt too bogged down. Now onto the remaining six episodes of the season.

- Colton Haynes, Charlie Carver and Tyler Hoechlin will be appearing in the second half of Teen Wolf's final season, starting later this month.
- Jared Gilmore will appear in Once Upon A Time's seventh season in a guest role. Dania Ramirez has also joined as a regular this season.
- The 13th Doctor will be revealed tomorrow on BBC1 after the Wimbledon's Mens Final.
- Brit Morgan will recur in Riverdale's second season.
- Manu Bennett will be returning for Arrow's sixth season as will a rumoured character from the show's first season.
- Lady Gaga will not be appearing in the seventh season of American Horror Story but Allison Pill will be while Twisty the Clown will also be returning. Adina Porter and Cheyenne Jackson are also returning.
- FOX are planning a crossover event with both Empire and Star this season.
- Erica Durance will be playing Alura in Supergirl's third season, replacing Laura Benanti in the role.

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

The L Word - Sequel Series In Development For Showtime

Well, this was a little unexpected, huh? I mean I know we're living in sequel/reboot culture for TV shows but I was surprised to read this one.

A quick brush up though - The L Word was a series that focused on the lives of lesbian and bisexual women in LA, starring Jennifer Beals, Leisha Hailey, Mia Kirshner and Katherine Moennig and ran for six seasons on Showtime between 2004-2009. The show was extremely popular at the time and even generated a reality TV spin-off called The Real L Word, which managed to last three seasons between 2010-2012 before it was axed.

Now it seems that the original series itself will be coming back for another season. However there's some twists - the first one being that the show will be brought back with a different showrunner as creator Ilene Chaiken is currently working on FOX's Empire and it will be a new set of women that the show will focus on.

However Chaiken will be an executive producer the rebooted series as will former stars of the show, Jennifer Beals (Bette), Kate Moennig (Shane) and Leisha Hailey (Alice). There is also speculation that along with a new cast for the show, some of the characters from the original series may also have some involvement if Showtime push ahead with the series.

The L Word joins Will & Grace as a prominent LGBT centred series that is currently being revived while US audiences will soon also get their own version of Russell T. Davies's Cucumber/Banana series with ABC's upcoming, Adult Behavior. Considering how massive the show was for Showtime back in the day, I can see this being a hit all over again, provided it goes ahead.

Press Release:

The complete series of The L Word is available on DVD. I'll post more about this revival as the information comes along.

Monday, July 03, 2017

My Review of Doctor Who's 10x12: "The Doctor Falls"

Written by Steven Moffat
Directed by Rachel Talalay

The Doctor (to Missy/the Master): "It's not because it's fun and God knows it's not because it's easy. It's not because it even works, because it hardly ever does. I do what I do, because it's right. Because it's decent. And above all, it's kind."

In that speech is everything that has ever and will ever capture the Doctor's motives for helping people and I have to admit, like a certain speech in the Zygon two parter, it's moments like this where the Twelfth Doctor well and truly shines. In this penultimate episode/finale, did he truly shine though.

Opening up with getting smacked about by both the Master and Missy, it didn't take long for the Doctor to get his old frenemies to get on side when he made the Cybermen go after Time Lords for conversion and having the Master and Missy helping certainly livened proceedings a bit as everyone went up another level of the ship from last time.

Having a bit of a mood whiplash here, we've got from a city polluted by fog and Mondasian Cybermen on the rise, to a nice countryside with a bunch of kids and an overprotective woman named Hazran (Samantha Spiro), who seemed to have a thing for the not equally receptive Nardole. Despite some of the popular rumours that floated around and that even I believed, Hazran was just a new character. A good one, but not the one we were expecting though.

Speaking of Nardole, he had his moments in this episode. I liked his pragmatic stance with both the Doctor and Cyber-Bill and I certainly enjoyed his scenes with both Masters but his exit was a little on the rushed with him being volunteered as protector for Hazran and the kids though against the evading and evolving Cybermen though.

This episode was all about the exits though. The Master and Missy in particular had one of the best with the pair of them stabbing and shooting each other in the back. Despite all their flirting, their conflict over whether or not to help the Doctor was the thing that turned them on each other. Missy was edging towards some form of redemption while the Master himself still revelled in being evil as his mocking of both the Doctor and Bill more than demonstrated. As exits go, it was a dramatic one for both of them, excellently played by Michelle Gomez and John Simm but while the character will be undoubtedly rested for a bit, we will see the Master again in some form though.

Then there's Bill herself. She spent most of this episode pulling an Oswin by perceiving herself as still human while outwardly looking like a Cyberman but she did forgive the Doctor for endangering her and she did stick around during the final battle itself to actually help him. However for those of us who feared that Moffat contributed to the 'bury your gays' trope with Bill, well he did manage to subvert it at the very last minute.

Despite there being no continuation since The Pilot, Heather came back and yanked Bill out of her Cyberman suit and the pair of them shared a kiss before putting the Doctor back in his TARDIS and exploring the universe. It's hard to deny that it's an exit that mirrors the Clara/Ashildr thing from last series but it works decently enough as a way to write Bill out of the series though.

As for the Doctor himself, he spent most of the episode holding back his regeneration, wanting to take out the Cybermen while also trying to save his friends and redeem both Masters too. He might have mostly failed with the latter and even Bill to a point, but he did succeed elsewhere and the near regeneration sequence was pretty stunning.

Of course with Christmas on the way, it was still held off but this time around we saw the Twelfth Doctor actually meet the First Doctor. It was rumoured for months and while I do have some reservations about a multi Doctor story for an outgoing Doctor's last episode, I did like the bit of David Bradley as the original you might say that this particular episode ended with.

- David Bradley previously played William Hartnell playing the First Doctor in An Adventure In Space And Time. He was also Solomon in Dinosaurs On A Spaceship.
- We saw both the 2006 and 2013 Cybermen in this episode. I think Moffat missed an opportunity by not including some 70's or 80's Cybermen while he was at it.
- Companions we saw in Twelve's head were Rose, Martha, Donna, Jack, Sarah Jane, Amy, River, Clara, Bill, Nardole, Vastra and Jenny along with Missy. Odd there was no Mickey or Rory though.
- Nice references to past regenerations and encounters with the Cybermen in this episode too.
- Rachel Talalay has now directed three finales in a row. That's got to be a record for the series, right?
- Chronology: Two weeks after the events of World Enough And Time.

The Doctor Falls could've let the side down after such a brilliant set up with it's previous episode but I genuinely think it didn't. Yes, Bill's exit was too similar to Clara's and the Cybermen were relegated to being blown up but with all the emotional beats and the hook for Christmas, it really does look like Peter Capaldi will go out on a high note.

Rating: 10 out of 10

Saturday, July 01, 2017

Sense8 - Netflix Commissions A Two Hour Special

June was the month for Pride and while we had some great stuff last month, one of the misfires was Netflix announcing that Sense8 would come to an end after two seasons. Fans were upset and angry, especially as the second season had ended on a cliffhanger that was looking unlikely to be resolved.

Then we head towards the end of June and it seemed that fan outcry actually worked for once. Netflix announced on Thursday that the show would be coming back as a two hour special next year. Netflix shared the letter on its official account, along with a video tribute to the sci-fi series. "After seeing that the cancellation was a total cluster, we decided to give Sense8 fans the ending they totally deserve," said a Netflix spokesperson.

This is fantastic news and while this doesn't guarantee anything more than this upcoming special, at least it means we'll get a resolution to the overall series arc and have one more episodes of our favourite Cluster members. I cannot wait to see it and I'm imagining that it'll possibly be another Christmas special as well.

Press Release:

Sense8's second season is currently streaming on Netflix if you haven't caught up. The special will be released in 2018.

Monday, June 26, 2017

My Review of Doctor Who's 10x11: "World Enough And Time"

Written by Steven Moffat
Directed by Rachel Talalay

The Master: "Hello Missy, I'm the Master. I'm very worried about my future. Give us a kiss."

After ten weeks of episodes that ranged from good to great to middling and an overwhelming sense that things were maybe coasting along a little too much until the next era, we finally got an episode where things actually happened in a big way and appropriately enough, it was the first part of the finale to boot.

For weeks we've had the hype of both Mondasian Cybermen and two Masters in the mix, so the anticipation for this particular finale was a little higher than usual. The good news is that this episode more than delivered. The bad news - Bill really got fucked over, big time here.

It's not unusual for companions to put in tricky fates and Moffat's penchant for doing that to his main players has been noteworthy throughout his reign on the show, River Song herself is now a data ghost after sacrificing herself for the Doctor while her parents Amy Pond and Rory Williams got sent back in time by Weeping Angels to live out their lives and never see the Doctor again.

Last series, Clara Oswald's own hubris became her undoing when a raven marked her for death and while there was a cheat of sorts with both her and Ashildr gallivanting in a TARDIS, the former's days were still pretty numbered though. Then there's Danny Pink.

He was hardly the most popular character on the show and yet he was given both a gruesome exit by being somewhat converted into a Cybermen for Missy's arm back in 2014 and then he sacrificed himself to save the world or Clara, depending on your stance in the matter. The reason why I bring up Danny is because thanks to this episode, Bill underwent a similar but somewhat horrifying fate.

The episode opened with the Doctor persuading Bill and Nardole to aid him in a test to see if Missy could be good after all by exploring a spaceship heading into a black hole and dealing with time dilation. This resulted in the blue skinned Jorj shooting Bill for being human and then Bill being dragged away by a group of bandaged patients in order to give her a new heart.

The focus of the episode then is on Bill stuck in the creepiest of hospitals with the most ill and dying of patients suffering the worst kinds of pain ever while befriending the offbeat caretaker Razor and waiting for the Doctor to come and get her. Despite knowing exactly who Razor was from the get go, I actually quite like the 'friendship' of sorts between him and Bill and when he handed her over to that surgeon and nurse from hell, I was a little bit shocked.

Having Bill converted into the first Cyberman ever was not something I expected the show to do. I knew that when she first appeared in the show that Bill was going to be a one series only companion but even I didn't think that Moffat would give her such a horrifying ending of sorts. Whether or not this fate sticks though is the other thing, considering Moffat's track record with death.

However horrible as Bill's current predicament, it's also a timely reminder of how dangerous the Master actually can be. Sure, Missy might be making some of the right noises about wanting to change but we all know that the Master can never be good. It's why this two parter has given us two of them, so that the former Master (Simm) can stop the current one (Gomez) from turning over a new leaf.

I've enjoyed Michelle Gomez's take as the Master/Missy immensely during Capaldi's era of the show but it was nice to see both her and John Simm finally meet and I'm genuinely surprised that it happened. While Simm was largely in disguise as Razor for most of the episode and worked well with Pearl Mackie, his brief scenes with Gomez and Capaldi at the end were the highlight of the episode.

As for the rest of the episode, it was delightful enough. I loved the use of flashbacks and a flash forward to an impending scene and bonus points for the Doctor giving Bill a summary of his complicated relationship with the Master to boot. Nardole didn't really have that much to do in this one though but that was hardly a bad thing.

- The episode opened with the start of the Twelfth Doctor regenerating on a snowy planet. Expect to see that scene again next episode but we still have him until Christmas.
- I had to laugh at Missy's meta commentary on the show's title as well as her dabbling. And then I laughed a little at the Master's accent while pretending to be Razor.
- We can thank Steven's son for the use of black holes and time dilation for this episode. I do think it worked rather well though.
- The Doctor and Bill have adventures on Saturdays? I guess not anymore though.
- Previous origin stories for the Cybermen have included the likes of Big Finish audio, Spare Parts as well as comics such as  The World Shapers and The Cybermen. There was a Genesis Of The Cybermen story planned but it never materialised.
- Chronology: Mondas for the most part, or specifically a ship that seemed to be connected to it. I'm not sure how long since The End Of Time it is for Missy's "ex" though.

World Enough And Time provided a thrilling punch to proceedings. The start of a regeneration, the death of a companion, the origins of the Cybermen and two Masters all in one episode? I don't know how the next episode will live up to this one but I definitely can't wait to find out though. It's just a shame the ratings are still not great this series though.

Rating: 10 out of 10