Monday, 30 October 2017


So, the latest Dan Brown, let's talk about it.

It starts off with a Prologue that announces that Science has disproved all religions. Oh, so that's going to go down well. And we spend the entire of the book teasing what that revelation is (because that's how Dan Brown works). But here's the thing... it's not that exciting. The revelations aren't going to surprise anyone, and it certainly isn't worth the build up of the book to get there.

Although there isn't much build up either. Langdon spends time wandering around trying to find the next set piece. And there isn't much treat from the villain of the piece either. Instead we get tons of flashbacks to how he got there, but not really much in the way of credible danger.

Frankly, this is, as Dan Brown books go, this is one of the most boring/worst.


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Saturday, 28 October 2017

Universal 1939A

Suddenly, after two years, we jump up to a 100 minute movie. Wasn't expecting that, but we would be getting there anyway. And we do it with Son of Frankenstein.

Rather than "everyone survived!" we have it that the son of the original Frankenstein turns up at his old castle because... because. But, speaking of everyone survived, Ygor is still around, and he has the monster nearby. Wolf (the son) is taken with the monster, and decides to get it up and running, and then, surprise surprise, terror and death is unleashed! And there's no way the monster survives this one!

Basil Rathbone is the titular son, and he plays it while accompanied by a pencil thin mustache that wouldn't notice most of the time. Bela and Boris are around as Ygor and the Monster... but I didn't even suspect it was Bela as Ygor, so well does he play the role. Lionel Atwill is the inspector with a fake arm that would, in any other movie, be played for laughs but is played with sincerity here. And Donnie Dunagan is a classic example of a child actor.

There is quite a slow development here, and the performances do carry the movie through. I hope this level of characterisation keeps up.


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Friday, 27 October 2017

Red Dwaf XII.II

It's a Kryten episode! Woo! And... it isn't terrible!

The short version: Kryten and the crew get grabbed by a ship of mechanoids (of the Mechanoid Integration Liberation Front...), and while Kryten is freed, the others are made to pay for making Kryten a slave.

Even the jokes in this episode are less overstated. Chris Barrie gets to put on a better performance, and show off his vocal range a bit more. While this does feel a little like a gimmick episode ("what if we made everyone this?"), it mostly works.

However, the ending falls over really badly. Like "hey, we've only got a minute to go and need to hit the reset switch" badly.

Outside of that, a thumbs up episode.


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Wednesday, 25 October 2017

Rade Blunner 24013232894

I haven't seen the original in a long time, so went in very little knowledge (frankly, I remember Daryl Hannah, and Rutger Hauer..and there was some other chap there?). But since I was willing to test my bladder, I went in, spent too much, and saw this one.

K is a cop that hunts Replicants... and finds out there was something that Replicants shouldn't have been able to do. And since I haven't seen the trailer, I'm not going to reveal anything more. Suffice to say there are some leads where you think 'we are supposed to think this' and I wasn't sure if I was supposed to think that because that's what it was, or we were supposed to think that because then it could be turned around.

But, howie, it's long. That's my main take away. There are some long lingering shots. Very well shot, and some great work on sets and the like, but wowie there were many, many pauses in the speeching. Now, you can say I've been ruined by watching on double speed (pauses for you to say that), but I can still appreciate a well timed scene.  This just felt like the director had pauses to show off that he could have pauses.

Still, it is a nice looking film. I'm not entirely sure of what below the surface thoughts I was supposed to have, but no doubt someone is just itching to point out all the bits I've missed (and put them up in video in "Here's what you missed in BR2049!")

Oh, acting-wise, Ryan did a good job of now showing emotions. And Harrison did a good job of nearly looking awake. Grammys for all!


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Saturday, 21 October 2017

Universal 1937

Wait a minute... this isn't a monster movie! But it does have Boris Karloff? And it is... Night Key.

David Mallory invents a new detection system, which is an improvement on the previous system he made. However, Ranger basically stole his old idea for his own profit (store protection via electronic circuits) and buys David's new idea (breaking light beam) but plans to sit on it. David is incensed by this, and goes on a spree... breaking into Ranger protected stores and moving the merchandise around, signing Night Key. However, crooks get their hands on the device and David must do what he can, with his daughter in danger.

While not a monster movie, it is a great crime movie. This is rather more light hearted fare too, and... I really enjoyed this. Boris Karloff gives a great performance and Jean Rogers is... so dreamy!

I hope there are more like this to come. While I like the monsters, it's nice to have this to break it up.


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Friday, 20 October 2017

Red Dwaf XII.I

Season 12, and we now have as many seasons without Rob Grant as with, and it just hasn't been the same since he left.

After poker shenanigans (which involves laughter after each and every line), we get to the space station with the bulk of the plot, meeting various evil people who have now been cured: Joseph Stalin, Messilina, Vlad the Impaler, and, of course, Adolf Hitler. We spend most of the time with Adolf, because he is the campiest one, and even have an overlong guitar jamming session between him and Lister (who can play?). But of course it goes badly so someone is still evil. And... it's the one you expect.

They go really heavy on the jokes, and... well, over load them into the story. This reminded me a lot of the Waxworld story in which we have an excuse to meet various famous people from history and have fun with them.

Not a great start to the season, but I've seen worse episodes. And will I see more of them?


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Monday, 16 October 2017

TELOS: The Dalek Factor

This is it. The big story to wrap everything up. Simon Clark writes the last novella, although it is the longest and at what point is “novella” not even applicable any more?

While giving nothing away, this features Daleks. Well, sort of. It’s about Thals who are hunting Daleks and are possibly finding them on this planet. However, one things after another happens, and along the way they come across a mysterious figure who seems to know a lot, but can’t remember, but call him Professor. The whole thing is mysterious, but eventually we find out what’s really going on and… that doesn’t make it better.

Okay, confession time? I didn’t really find the Daleks scary. Not on screen. Now, I have seen them (as a prop) up close and moving around during the music show, so they can have presence. But not on screen. And certainly not in a book which is really trying to set them up as the ultimate evil… but casually kills them with one shot. Not much of a threat then?

And then Simon is trying to something different with the Doctor (which Doctor is it?), and slowly has him get with what the audience already immediately realise (frankly, and this is not a spoiler, I would have been far more impressed if he is revealed to be the Master).

Yeah, I can’t really be surprised this series was cancelled.


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Saturday, 14 October 2017

Universal 1936

It's the return of... no wait, no it's not! A villain we thought dead actually remains dead! (For now at this.) This is in fact about Dracula's Daughter.

With Dracula dead, perhaps his daughter might have a chance to turn her life around. While she reaches out to Jeffrey Garth, he is distracted by other matters, and she can't help herself. Garth slowly manages to put things together, and maybe, just maybe, the threat of the vampires can't be dismissed that easily. A final pursuit leads back to Transylvania, and the final scene doesn't play out as you'd expect.

Gloria Holden gives a rather commanding performance as Countess Marya Zaleska (Dracula's Daughter) (hey, credits, spoilers!). Otto Kruger is Garth, and is quite believable. Others are on screen and are not complete inept comic relief as per some other movies I've seen.

This takes the idea of a sequel quite seriously, but of course there can't be any other kin of Dracula lying about.


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Friday, 13 October 2017

Batmanning 66.3

This is it, season 3, the last season. And the final words are "What happened to Batgirl?" "Who knows? Who ever knows?" [And trivia, the final villain is Zsa Zsa Gabor as Minerva.]

So, speaking of Batgirl... we have Batgirl now! And she is clearly an addition to the series, made painfully obvious in the opening titles which have two slides of sudden Batgirl moments. She even has an amazingly stupid theme. (And this is nothing on Yvonne Craig, who is... I think restrained heavily into her outfit?) But so often we get huge slabs of time spent with Batgirl that you begin to wonder who's series this is.

But talking of the series, they do something extremely different. At the end of each two parter, they have a brief teasing scene of the next villain, either a specially shot moment, or (more often) a clip from the next episode. And yet despite being told 'this villain is around' they are always surprised in the next episode when that villain turns up.

We also take a special three parter set in Londinium where the good guys help out venerable Ireland Yard... I see what they did there! Compare with the most sexist episode pair ever as Nora Clavicle ousts Commissioner Gordon and replaces all the staff with women, which every man (and even Barbara) despairs over. The hell?

However, that's it. (Aside from the movies.) I don't care that these are camp, I enjoyed them... but I doubt I'll be watching them back to back again like this any time soon...


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Wednesday, 11 October 2017

The Over du Change

A New Zealand film? Based on a Margaret Mahy novel? Okay, I'll give this a go.

A school girl, Laura, has to look after her younger brother while her mother works (and her father isn't around). She gets warnings and feels that Jacko will be in trouble. Certainly they meet a creepy man, but he likes Jacko a lot. But then bad things start to happen, and only she can do something about it.

This has a lot of a feel of an abbreviated adventure about it. I do wonder how much extra the book had? Because there is a lot of "conveniently, this happens", where Laura just so happens to find the local witches and just so happens to do the right things at the right time and... yeah. It's only 90 minutes, so it feels like there is more that could have been done.

This movie is the introduction of Erana James as Laura, and she carries the movie well. Although Lucy Lawless gets a higher billing, she isn't more than a cameo. But we do get a really creepy performance from Timothy Spall. And Nicholas Galitzine seems to be channeling Robert Patterson.

Overall, this is a very YA take on a YA adventure.


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Monday, 9 October 2017

TELOS: Blood and Hope

Finally we have a Fifth Doctor novel! But because this is Iain McLaughlin, we are in fact tying in with his Big Finish audios and have Peri and Erimem.

The Doctor and crew land in the American Civil War, and immediately they are split up with the Doctor ending up with the Union and Peri and Erimem with the Confederate. Where Erimem is seen as non-white and thus is a slave/property. Iain mixes Peri’s story with letters from soldiers to explain the setting and detail the Doctor’s side of the story. Of course nothing is simple as they try to get together, and Peri in particular has quite a struggle.

I was reminded a lot of the Rebel’s Gamble, the choose your own adventure where the Doctor and Peri are in the American Civil War (although the Sixth Doctor, natch). That aside, Iain does get into detail with some of the war events and it is not presented in any way that promotes it as a glorious battle.

A decent story, but I would have liked more Doctor in it.


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Saturday, 7 October 2017

Universal 1935C

What? No Karloff? No Lugosi? Are they allowed to make movies without them? This astounding possibility is Werewolf of London.

Would you believe it? You are out in the mountains in Asia and just so happen to get bitten by a werewolf. What are the odds? But back in London, Dr Glendon is looking into various things, but is told about a special flower that can put off Lycanthropism. Unfortunately, not for long enough, and soon he is back to attacking people by moon light while in a wolf form. People still insist on having parties and such, but eventually he is tracked down and told he's a bad dog.

When you talk werewolf, you need to talk effects. But first let's talk plants. There's a scene where people are wandering around a display and we see a not at all felt Venus Fly Trap closing on a perfectly stationary fly. And then there's the large plant that isn't folded material that eats a frog. While these are good, it is really obvious what they are.

So onto the werewolf make up. There is one transformation scene where whenever Glendon passes behind a pillar, he transforms more. That's really good. And then there's the classic locked off camera with mix from one transformation to another, and while you can spot it... what the hell, these are good effects. We aren't going to be winning Face Off any time soon, but I'm gonna buy it.

Not a bad movie, but the bulk of it is just repeating stalking and attacks, so it can't hold attention that way.


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Friday, 6 October 2017

Batmanning 66.2

Season 2 is quite impressive in that there are a TON of episodes. Like two actual seasons worth.

What we get is largely the same though, in that they are two episodes with campy guest villain of the day. What is interesting is the odd extra bit.

Like the wall crawling guest spots. Did you know what Batman is in the same universe as Lurch from Addam's Family? (And that Lurch actually talks!) And that Batman knows Colonel Klink and Colonel Hogan.

And after establishing around with "Same Bat-time!", they start playing it up with things like "Same Cat-time!"

We also get a three parter episode, with two exciting cliffhangers as Joker and Penguin. And yes there is the special episode with the Green Hornet and Kano cross over (this is after previously having a Green Hornet related wall crawling cameo).

We also get a hint or two that Commissioner Gordon has a daughter named Barbara...


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Wednesday, 4 October 2017

K2: T'GC

It's the sequel no-one really asked for, and if they did, did they really want this?

If you've seen the trailer, you've seen the basic plot. Kingsman gets blown up, so they go to America and the Statesman happen. I don't think they reveal too much who the villain is? But it gets revealed early that it is Julianne Moore, so there is that. Really... there isn't much of note that happens. We get various scenes that happened to be in this movie, and there isn't anything surprising to surprise you.

Performances are fine, production is similar to the previous movie and... did we need this movie? It felt like no-one really put any effort into anything, up to and including the return of Colin Firth's character.

I have no doubt that this will make its money back, and so we'll probably get another one, but we didn't need this, so I can't say I'm waiting for a third.


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Monday, 2 October 2017

TELOS: Companion Piece

Here’s something different, Robert Tucker and Mike Tucker wrote a Seventh Doctor story! But, no, it really is different, because it doesn’t have Ace in it!

The Doctor and Cat land in a future religious settlement who are freaked out there is a Time Lord around. The Inquisition is called, and the Doctor and Cat are captured, in various ways, and are taken away.

And the plot is all over the place. The pacing is terrible. Was this a first draft they never spent any more time on? We bounce between the Doctor getting so much tortured you’d think Kate Orman wrote this, to philosophical discussions about the nature of Roman Catholicism in the future. Although they aren’t very good discussions, despite what the opening foreward would have you believe.

I’ve seen this duo do so much better and that final twist… were we supposed to work it out before the end, ‘cos I realised it a while before, so I’m not sure how surprised I’m meant to be. Not a great story.


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