Tuesday, 2 September 2014


Remember the film society? Yeah, me neither, but last night they screened If....

In an old school in Engerland, the boys at a school are given a hard time. The Whips (older boys) run the place, the Crusaders (slightly younger but still older boys) chaff under their rule, and all the younger boys are basically tortured because this is Engerlish school. Eventually the Crusaders snap and play battle turns all too real...

This is presented as slices of school life, and... it's rather slow, I have to say. It takes a while to get into it, but it does become watchable in a lot of parts. There could easily have been trims without sacrificing the spirit of the movie. Which is about rebellion, but it takes a while to get there.

Most notably in the lead is Malcolm McDowell, although he had his whole film career ahead of him at this point. There's also one Count Grendel, Peter Jeffery. Also making a notable debut is a fair amount of nudity.

Not really a movie for me, although it's not terrible. Check it out for yourself!


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Monday, 1 September 2014

DW 8.02

Oh, it's just... sigh. Really? We want good stories, but this... there is one moment worth noting, but it isn't really anything new.

Take Dalek. Add in The Invisible Enemy. And The Carnival of Monsters... and blammo, this episode! In fact, let's skip past the whole miniaturisation thing, because that's just another excuse for corridors and sonicking things, and that's not interesting. Let's also skip past the Coal Hill School thing, because that's just bringing in another earth relationship, and we have nothing but that. Let's go straight to the idea of the 'good Dalek'. Turning the Daleks back on themselves dates back to The Evil of the Daleks, but it wasn't because 'it saw the birth of a sun', but rather because they were deliberately made human. Here, it's a complete accident, and we 'learn' that this is the first time we've ever had a good Dalek... despite those other times. (And what of Dalek itself, which all it wanted was the sunlight.)

The interesting point here is that the Doctor is full of hate for the Daleks... but as I've said, that's not the first time we've seen this. Again, Dalek. Hell, the fact that it was called "Russ T" is probably a dig at the certain someone who brought them back anyways.

That's actually really what this episode feels like. "Hey, remember these other episodes? Yeah, they happened! Think of those because we haven't decided what to do with the Doctor yet!"

Next time: Oh look, a historical... and let's guess what the alien presence shall be, shall we?


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Sunday, 31 August 2014


I like me some mirror based horror movies, so of course I had to see this one some time.

Kaylie and Tim had a tough childhood. Their father and mother tried to kill them, and the son killed the father. And then Tim ended up in a psychiatric ward for eleven years. But the cause of this all is an evil mirror and now that Tim's out, Kaylie wants them to deal with the mirror. And so we switch back and forth between now and then as events unfold and the family slowly goes crazy. The mirror makes things not as they seem, so what seems crazy might be perfectly fine, but the mirror doesn't want them to succeed...

And the big problem with this movie is "the mirror makes things not as they seem". It's all very well creating horror of ghosts and strange things in the mirror and such, but when the scare is supposed to be "that thing you were eating isn't what you thought you were", this doesn't work when the audience can't trust what's going on. Certainly I wasn't surprised by anything, because I wasn't taking anything I saw at face value, which meant the big shock moments didn't subvert my expectations... indeed, I picked most of the scary moments before they happened, because they were also really obvious.

This features, as notable, one Karen Gillan, with red hair and random accent. We also get Katee Sackhoff, so someone for UK and US nerds to see! Otherwise... there are other people around. The acting is decent, but they are constrained by the needs of the effects.

Not horror. Well, certainly not effective horror.


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Saturday, 30 August 2014


Well, this is what happens when we don't get a Black Widow movie. Other people make action movies featuring Scarlett Johannson.

Because this movie is short, it gets to the point quickly. We know from the trailer that Lucy gets drugs put inside her which then infects her... and yep, that's exactly what happens in the first act, and it gets done quickly. There are cuts of Professor Norman to bring in his character, and there's a lot of background exposition, but still we quickly get to the action scenes of Lucy going hard. And surreal. This is Luc Besson, so we get a lot of imagery, with some of it so obvious it's Lord Privy Seal, and other times you need to know fairly obscure cosmic theory to get what's happening.

And let's take a moment to talk about the "10%" problem. The movie makes it clear that it is talking about "cranial capacity"... but what the hell does that mean? And it certainly doesn't address the misconception. They could have had someone directly reference it if the movie is trying to distinguish itself from that myth, but nope. And then what happens when you start using more... not even Morgan Freeman can make that credible. I don't care how much brain power is chugging along, you aren't doing the things in the trailer.

What is really going on is "being in tune with the universe", which isn't much better, but they could have phrased it like that instead of going for cranial capacity.

Acting wise, we get some great performances, but Scarlett Johansson is clearly doing the heavy lifting... and not quite managing it. Not on her, that, but the script is asking us to buy some big supposed revelations, and that just isn't happening. Just because someone says something that could be philosophical and awe-inspiring doesn't mean it is.

A pretty movie that is trying to make a point that switches between being a blunt sledgehammer and so sharp it cuts itself.


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Friday, 29 August 2014

DW 8.01

I think I'm now too cynical for Doctor Who. Or maybe this just wasn't the best episode ever? Certainly there are huge chunks where not much happens and... then the episode's over. [Note that this contains spoilers, rather severe ones, so the bulk of this post, and all new DW episode posts, are hidden on the main page, click through for the full entry.]

Isn't it wonderful how in new regeneration stories the Doctor is always involved and we get great insights into the new character? Oh wait, that never happens, and it's just a big tease so we can muck about before settling down to anything concrete. Like an accent. Sometimes it's strongly Scottish, other times you can barely detect it.

Ah, but I kid. Seriously now... this was just a lot of nothing. The first half, before they get to the restaurant, was all padding. And trying to give Clara some character moments, but since it's been ages since I saw her in anything, I can't remember what her character was before to know if this reinforced anything or contradicted it... or maybe it just gave her a personality? I can't tell. And the Doctor is just running around, looking at newspapers and being mad, and marking time.

But then the restaurant happens, and we spend the next while hearing them bicker and having the Doctor leave Clara, only to make a triumphant return, and needing to be rescued by the leather lesbians and the comedy Sontaran. And why is the Sontaran having a hard time fighting these robots? He should be loving this!

Still at least we have Peter Capaldi and... his eyebrows? His hoarse madness? His ultimately getting upstaged by Matt Smith? Hopefully the next episode will develop his character and not be based on some gimmick... never mind. And yet another long term Moffat tease with Missy (whom I immediately associate with Iris Wildthyme, but fortunately Moffat won't be going there).

As I said, too cynical these days. And I do seem to be the only one who isn't overly impressed by it.

Next time: A new and innovative idea... a competant Dalek?


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Thursday, 28 August 2014

Gondola to Walter Peak

A busy day had me going on the Skyline Gondola and Lugeing (and incompetently getting out of Luges...)

And then I went out to Walter Peak on the TSS Earnslaw. I highly recommend the BBQ lunch if you go out there, the food was delicious! And then we saw some farm operation in action, and so can you!


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Wednesday, 27 August 2014


It's classic 80s movie time! And this one is from the start of the decade when we saw a young man who would later be from "the upper vest side". As ever, go check in with Peter and Paul for their views.

What do you do when someone asks you to kill a dragon? Get killed, of course! And then it's up to an upstart apprentice to step into his shoes and get the magician they want. And right royally screw things up. Literally royally too! While this is swords and sorcery, this doesn't go for the standard tropes too much, and people die because the dragon is just that much better, or because people are as competent (or not) as they are supposed to be. No special snowflakes with sudden surges of abilities here. And I also want to make the point here is that this movie does have strong females (within the limited scope of being a medieval fantasy movie). The victim tries to save herself, the princess isn't willing to turn a blind eye, and the main female lead isn't sitting around waiting for guys to do things.

[And I'll admit that yes, for the first time in a movie, I was taken in by her deception.]

And then the MacGuffin steps in to wrap the movie up, but it looks visually nice. Which is one of the unexpected surprises of this movie. The dragon is well realised, the puppet dragon kids are good, the make and other effects are competent... the one weakness is the composition that puts them together sucks a lot. Bad edges everywhere. Otherwise quite successful.

On the acting side, the main leads are fine. The king is a bit off (the crown didn't help), and there's a whole Christian subplot that people aren't committing to and thus hard to follow. The wizard is going full pants on head crazy, but has fun with it. Aside from Peter MacNicol, the other names I note are Ian McDiarmid and John 'Ghost from Ghostlight' Hallum.

A decent movie that holds up well even today.


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