Sunday, 21 November 2010

Recent Remakes Watched

This is me trying to get back into the discipline of blogging so this will be a slightly useless one to get started with.

Remakes. I've seen three remakes recently, one from 2003, one from a few years ago, one from this year.  I'm not actually too bothered about remakes. You used to fads, such as TV show adapations, (which have fallen away recently), Die Hard rip-offs, rogue cop movies, comic book movies (still being popular for now). There's always a fad.

So there was The Italian Job, The Day The Earth Stood Still, and The Clash Of the Titans. The more recent the film, more more obvious a decline in quality.

The Italian Job was the most fun. The original is a bit better but its a fun heist movie, has the edge on the Oceon's 11 remake of a few years before by having surprises and events going wrong, as well as better jokes. Its a film that there's nothing much to write about as its depth is in presentation, in the fun of the play. Buts its a good example of a remake in that they took a few solid ideas from the first and made a film that's like the first but is not dependent on the first.

The other two remakes fail on that. The Day The Earth Stood Still remake is by far the better, even though its first ten minutes are genuinely awful. Its not until Keanu Reeves shows up as the alien that it gets watchable. It pretty much works as an alien among us film, the alien being a bit of a dick at times, which keeps it interesting. Reevies is by far the most interesting thing about it. But it truly needed a lot of script work, and a better director to succeed. (Shots seem to be very samey, which kills tension or interest.) But its simply a slightly failed remake of an over-rated original.

Clash Of The Titans, on the other hand, is a pretty incompetant remake of a very flawed original. Its one of those films where everything is effects so nothing is surprising. The film has no real characters, just cliches that wander in for a few minutes, in a series of vaguely motivated actions scenes, that are then killed. Sam Worthington makes a dull hero. Liam Neeson's Zeus makes no sense, and the film just sits there, with great mythic potential being squandered, most of the monsters being bland representations of myth. Only the River Styx and Hades has any real interest and Ralph Fiennes isn't given much to do as the latter. A truly bad example of a remake, and a pretty weak film from a  director who was once promising in the action sphere, but who gets worse the more money he gets (Frenchman Louis Letterier).

Influences. I've been watching Mad Men (terrific, much better than expected) and there's a real Patricia Highsmith influence. Not just in the idea of a central character who is fake in a sixties backdrop but in the various types of unease, pretense, and developing but stunted emotion. As a Highsmith fan its good to see worked on in a TV show. I've only seen season one so far of course.

Direct to DVD. I've recently seen Universal Soldier: Regeneration. Its a fun movie. The downside is in the writing, which is clunky at times, which plot movement that's not always interesting. On the plus side, Van Damme is trying hard and is effective as a damaged soldier (I generally dislike Van Damme), and Dolph Lungren is back from the dead, and steals the movie in a glorified cameo. He also has a funny ending (Admission, I've always kinda liked Dolph, although he's better and has more to do in The Expandables). There's not much dialogue, which means its more of a stripped down b-movie, which is always fun. The best thing in it is actually its direction, from John Hyams. Despite budget limitations, the film is always on point to story, has some very good and clear action that always has punch, has good use of atmosphere. The best bits are an opening kidnapping and a section where Van Damme takes out a group of mercenaries, which is just brutal. Its got a good early Walter Hill vibe, despite the fact that its a Universal Soldier sequel (its far supierior to the original). So this is a director to watch, who should be getting a bigger budget. Its also much better directed than the above remakes. (another good Direct to DVD title is Undisputed 2)

Saturday, 23 October 2010

Am still here.

I haven't been posting for a while due to being busy but will start up again pretty soon. So am still around.

Saturday, 26 June 2010

Dr Who: The Big Bang

Well the first Matt Smith/Steven Moffat Dr Who series comes to an end with a terrific, twisted romantic episode, where the Doctor jumps between different time zones with a fez and a mop, fights a stone dalek (not very well, he gets shot) dances horribly but somehow saves the universe.

Its a terrifically enjoyable story, the early parts a riot of time zones and fairy tale logic, with some lovely moments of a man protecting his lover for 2000 years, the idea of a man saving himself by turning himself into a fairy story idea given to his companion when she was young, the idea that the cracks seen were the Doctor watching his past as his life ran out, of the universe being rebooted by one person's memory, of a box collapsing into a burning sun to save the universe. The tone was wonderful throughout, was full of ideas that were given with a light touch.

While all the actors were good, Matt Smith dominated as the Doctor, giving lots of energy, anger, absurdity, the fez making him look absurd and oddly grinch-like menacing.

This has been a real high-quality level season for Dr Who. What's great is that not everything is answered, leaving mysteries for the future, such as who is River Song (the doctor's future wife?) and what is the silence, both of whom have fairy tale logic and feeling, which suggests a complicated resolution to come.

Saturday, 19 June 2010

New Dr Who episode

Will go into detail more next week but "The Pandorica Opens"  was a wonderful, twisted episode, with cybermen reassembling to kill, the companion getting killed by a clone of her dead love, the Tardis blowing up, and the Doctor always one step behind, ending up trapped by the box he was investigating (but was actually studying him).

What was terrific about the episode was the way that set things up. After a very fast intro, the story settled down, like many Moffat scripts do, to a base few locations and people talking and interacting over a tricky problem (be it Coupling or The Empty Child). Slowly the problem builds, with some nice horror bits in this story, leading to a gleeful monster barrage that would do Godzilla proud, played off against more intimate moments of horror for all characters (all leading to some sort of death), as the universe begins to explode around them. Great stuff. Can't wait for next week.

Sunday, 6 June 2010

Vincent And The Doctor

This was an excellent comeback for the series after the quality dip of last week. It had a good monster, who was't what it seemed. It gave Matt Smith's Doctor weird gadgets for him to have fun with while running away from a monster, and some nice moments of Doctor boredom as he studies the painting of a masterpiece with palpable impatience. Best of all it had Van Gogh, a tortured genius who can see an invisible monster.

Tony Curran was terrific as Van Gogh, depressed but not over-doing it, still human and focused enough to be a credible painter. He played well off the leads and never begged for sympathy. The episode, like an earlier story The Unquiet Dead (with a dying Charles Dickens) gave enough monster moments for a Dr Who story but was primarily focused on character beats, a dying genius meeting an eccentric immortal time lord and his companion, then developing be the story of famous man who is losing his way. Now this can go wrong. The Tennant era, for all its good points, never got the famous character type of story right, only Moffat's The Girl In The Fireplace ever truly working, and that one wasn't quite as good as The Unquiet Dead or this one. When underplayed it can be a moving story. The people involved got the tone here perfectly.

Of course it was the Richard Curtis script. Famous from Blackadder and comic relief, his script was a lot more dramatic than expected. What was good about it is that it played fair with the audience, keeping the story simple, on the people, had plot points that were developed properly and made sense, and had a wonderfully slight, short story feel.

Saturday, 29 May 2010

Dr Who - first dull episode of the series

It started at a good pace. The first episode, The Hungry Earth was fun, had a good set-up and many nice character moments. It delivered efficiently, was not the best Dr Who but was enjoyable.

And then Cold Blood, well, people were captured, escaped, captured, escape, sit and talk for a while, are captured and escape. It just felt like a lot of running around for no real purpose. There is twenty minutes of running around at the start of the episode, everyone is where they would be if they hadn't done anything. Then there are lots of dull talky scenes where the direction of every conversation was obvious and telegraphed by the situation, without any real character work. Ultimately, there was not enough story here for two parts. The writer and producers never found a way for the narrative to kick up a gear for the second half. Victory of The Daleks needed that kind of space as it had too much story for one part. For capture and escape you need dread, surprise, ingenuity to get out of peril. Here people got out of trouble because the other side wasn't very good, or backed away, for no solid reason. Repeatedly. As this is something that hasn't happened this year under Steven Moffat's command then it felt like a cheat, as the show has been intelligent in the get-out-of-peril situation. So putting all the lazy escapes into one episode is angering.

Worse was the dialogue, which felt in style like the Russell T Dvaies era, as if the story was written for Tennant. But not done very well. It felt like first draft, we'll write vague cover dialogue and then work out the real talk later. But then the filler was shot. As the first episode was good yet the second so dull, the reason for the extreme quality drop is confusing.

The direction in this second story was pedestrian. The script never gave the director much room but all the camera moves and set-ups seemed samey, and the actors never were directed towards sharpness of intent. Everyone seemed to wander through the episode.

So this was the duff one. There was some interesting moment about the over-all arc at the end and a companion died but the death should have had impact but didn't (odd, as the character was good). Next week looks moody and odd, so hopefully this is a one episode blip.

Sunday, 16 May 2010

Changing your opinion on a film.

Its a funny thing with the Coen brothers. A year or so ago a friend of mine rewatched Intolerable Cruelty, having hated it before. On rewatch he found it to be a lot better, funnier, not the disaster he initally felt in first viewing. Yesterday I rewatched Burn After Reading. I remember seeing it with friends and being in a rage for some reason about it. Don't know why. I found the story dull, the dialogue pedestrian, the acting obvious and one-note. Basically not in the same league as Old Country For Old Men, one of the Coen's best films. Not even at the same level of Intolerable Cruelty or The Ladykillers, two of the least-loved Coen films (which I have a soft spot for). On the rewatch it improved quite a bit. It is still not among the Coen's best (its dialogue still lacks the weirdness and precision of their best), and slight compared to No Country For Old Men, but a lot better than I thought it would be. The aimlessness I hated in the first viewing seemed more interesting, as these idiots squabble and fight, ego run amuck as everyone is terrified of being found to be old and useless, now seemed interesting and true to life. Funny that.

Also watched that great old Chris Walken b-movie The Prophecy, about an attempt to stop a second war in heaven, placed against the backdrop of the American west. Watching Walken as the angel Gabriel rant about killing thousands and turning towns into salt does wonders for your mood. Eric Stoltz, always an under-rated actor (see him recently keep the annoyingly bitty but fascinating Caprica moving forward) is terrific as a lone angel trying to stop armaggeddon, getting killed half-way through. (the film is vicious in this way) Best of all was Viggo Mortenston as Satan. He out-evil's Walken, which is an achievement in itself, and is one of the better devils in recent years, just subtle and malicious, only needing words and gestures to get his point across.(But is also very good at eating angel's hearts, eating petals and placing his hands on people's shoulders in very creepy ways)

I have essentially gone through the Blackadders in the past few weeks. Wonderful comedies.

To end, Steven Moffat's take on Dr Who is still going strong by the series mid-point. The last two episodes were high-level entertainment. Vampires In Venice was more of a romp while Amy's Choice was more psychological horror with fun monsters. Of the two I preferred Amy's Choice, although Vampires In Venice had a lot of entertainment value, with the Doctor's reactions to meeting vampires "Oh this is like Christmas!" to his showdown with the sympathetic villlainess, as well as being told that he looks like a nine-year old. And of course his library card with the picture of William Hartnell on it.

Amy's Choice had fun villains, whether it be crazy old folk to an ice sun that the tardis is floating towards slowly (used two top-class villain ideas in one episode) but also had a bit more dramatic meat. Two realities, which one is real (turns out neither are), one representing the fears of the Doctor (his tardis slowly dies and gets cold, trapping him and his friends on board to perish) of that or Amy's boyfriend Rory (that his ideal village life goes insane, with all that he helps trying to kill him). Its good stuff, especially as we find that the antangonist is the Doctor's subconsious, so he's the villain.

So the series is gearing up to be the best of the relaunch for me. Hope it keeps going this way.

Sunday, 2 May 2010

Director's Cuts

I'm doing another blog on this as I've seen two in the past week that make we wonder why studios butcher their own films so badly.

I've seen Kingdom Of Heaven and Dark City Directors Cuts and wondered why in hell they were not released in these versions initially. In both films the films are longer but feel shorter to watch, as they are paced properly, so you don't look at your watch, wonder why the stories feel like they have bits missing from them.

Dark City suffered from a terrible introduction in its original theatrical form, that took all the mystery out of a mystery noir film, meaning that you were always watching, impressed by the atmosphere but knowing where it was going. So it was marking time and then whatever they threw at you as an image made an impact but made the film seem disjointed and unsure of itself. This new cut allows the film to be a mystery, seems to have had a few more additions but importantly allows you to enter the world as it was originally intended, meaning that the film feels myserious and interesting, engaging you to follow the images. I hadn't seen it for so long that I'd forgotten some of it. It felt likea  proper story for the first time, and its strange ending worked, in a way that was clunky and odd before.

Kingdom Of Heaven, meanwhile, lost about fifty minutes of story. Not sub-plots, not just character bits but mostly actual story and character elements that make sense of what is going on. Its original cut felt like an epic ruined. It aspired to be epic but had a TV-movie feel to its story-telling. No-one had weight. Now adding the rest of the story, all the characters have interesting motivations that cannot avoid causing disaster in response to others, the fights now mean something, the actual story means something. Its one casting flaw, Orlando Bloom, in the lead, remains. He feels too young and there are times when you know there's more in the set-up than what we see. But its director's cut is still a real epic and one of Ridley Scott's best films. (I've recently seen Body Of Lies, one of Ridley Scott's worst, most boring films, which had so many problems, including beign too long)

I still don't get why studios butcher their own films. People watch films for stories. They may like the story of not but why butcher the chance of people seeing the actual story, instead making it alieanating by strange tactics. All it does is make you lose money. Both of these films were financial failures. I can't help but think they would have done better if they were released the way they were meant to be shown.

The Election Polls

After checking in with the Election Polls and all the back and forth with debates, it turns out that they haven't changed at all. I think its now just best to wait until Thursday and ignore them. No-one has a clue the exact make-up. It seems to still be hung parliament, which seems to be the best thing as not one party seems to have enough of an idea how to get out of this mess to deserve a true win.

Dr Who Series 5

Its five episodes in and the new Dr Who series is looking very good. Funny, eccentric, with quite a bit of old-fashioned technology design. Its a terrific reworking of the show.

Earlier posts show that I was getting a bit annoyed with the increasingly tired specials but this series has gotten the series back on track. I don't think its had this type of purpose since the Ecclestone year, which was Russell T Davies' first year in charge and had a similar energy in set-ups and making an impression with the set-up.(I think the series got a bit too variable in quality following that first year).

What's especially interesting is the a slight Avengers influence and the new show has a bit more of a fifties/sixties sci-fi movie feel (including the Peter Cushing movies), has a new team, and a surer feel to what its about in regard to its world. Matt Smith has energy and is pretty odd as the Doctor, the weirdness of the world working better in reaction to his strangeness, especially when talking to a giant eye, done intentionally as a 50's sci-fi giant eye, as if its normal. Its one of the interesting elements of casting and mood set-up. Get it right and everything clicks, as if the world is there and ready to be explored, (and allows for weaker plot elements) but get it wrong there is a widening gulf of interest in story that can't be successfully covered, as the internal pacing of all the small details of that world is all wrong.

The first episode, The Eleventh Hour, had a terrific first half, as good as the show gets, then got a slightly obvious plot resolution, and a finale that brought it all together beautifully. But the charm and atmosphere carried everything, the out-there visuals bringing it all toghether. Best moments were Smith's Doctor talking to the little girl post-regeneration. Best joke is that for the entire epsiode Smith's Doctor has not seen what he now looks like but keeps on getting recognised due to a time travel twist, then an alien imitates him, which doesn't work on him because he still hasn't looked in a mirror, saying "That's rubbish, who's that!"

The show truly kicked into high gear with the atmospheric The Beast Below, full of glasses of water, masks, crazy smilers and a joke about democracy, which had another one of the great early Smith moments "I'm going to stay out of trouble... badly." It also had a great moment with him revealing his past to his companion, done with power and precision within ten seconds. It's end may not have had a twist to rival its build but its ending worked and it's an excellent illustration on how to put together a story for a 45 minute running-time.

Victory Of The Daleks was the weaklest of the bunch so far, being a little short, needing a little bit more at the front end of the story, had the fun idea of the Daleks playing nice (taken for an old lost story Power Of The Daleks) and annoying The Doctor, goading him to make a series of bad decisions. Into that we have a series of world war 2 moments that don't feel as interesting as the rest of the plot. There was also a Dalek win and a redesign of the daleks, which apparantly annoyed a lot of people by changing the daleks to colourful 60's style designs, which I of course loved.

The Time Of Angels and Flesh And Stone were a weeping angels two-parter, probably the strongest story of the series so far, definately the most atmospheric, even if the dire circumstances meant less humour at times, although there are subtle jokes that might not be appreciated. (Priests being killed off by going into a giant white light.). The story was very interesting, paying up a wider story arc while keeping to the threat, playing up the terrific visual idea of people fighting for their lives in a tomb, priests fighting images of godhood and losing their lives and past existance because of it. It had a great openign gag, with Smith moving through a museum saying "Wrong!" to almost eveyrthing to keep score and also had a terrific cliff-hanger moment, with Smith facing off the angels with a great speech, and a funny resolution, that's hilarious because it buys them about ten seconds before the next attack.

Three great dialogue moments:

That's not the plan.
There's a plan?

I dunno yet - I haven't finished talking.
Then there's-
Bishop: "Doctor Song, I've lost three clerics today, you trust this man?"

River: "I absolutely trust him."

Bishop: "He's not some kind of mad man?"

River: "... ... I absolutely trust him."
"Amy, listen to me; I am 907 years old. Do you know what that means?"
"It's been a while."
So its been great so far. Other terrific elements are Amy Pond, a companion who doesn't take any of the Doctor's rules as something to be followed in any way, a sense of excitement of the universe at large, and an emerging threat that wipes out events from history, that's tied to the companion in ways that are not yet obvious.
So its a great new series.
Other new series I've been watching are Ashes To Ashes, which is better than it has been during its run, now having a real threat, but still isn't up to the standard of Life On Mars, as it heads for the series end (I don't think the end will be that clever. It's red-herrings feel a little too clear). Also Burn Notice, a terrific, light spy series that keeps things fast-paced and has a solid set-up of a CIA forced out and now has to find out who set him up while making a living as a freelance problem solver.
Finally I saw Iron Man 2. Its fun, pretty good, if a little slow at the start. I like the first one better. This one never manages the character/plot balance of something like The Empire Strikes Back, Aliens or Superman 2 but is still well worth a look. It has some funny character beats and situations, even if Mickey Rourke isn't used as much as he should. Nor is Downey Jnr's "I'm dying " dynamic worked as cleanly as it could have been. But can't complain as its good entertainment that sets up a wider world that could be interesting to see in future films.
So there we go. Back to the batcave.

Saturday, 1 May 2010

More Election Nonsense

Actually I was thinking how exhausted Gordon Brown must be. He's been at it for 13 years solid, plus the 1997 election campaign for Blair and its build-up. Then working under Blair for so long (I don't think Blair would make an easy boss). The guy must be so tired.

Its one thing I notice in the debates. The other two leaders have the natural advantage of no real experience, just what they could do. They really have not had the kind of disaster that affects any administration, nor the building of programmes that don't work, funding short-falls, dealing with not alienating voters while doing what you think is best long-term. Not that I'm saying he's right all the time. I don't think he is. But he definitely has the disadvantage in that distinctive "no, that's impractical" knowledge that becomes a hinderence after a while, especially while trying to get people moving behind your ideas.

I think he's doing okay. He was stuck with Blair's legacy, a worldwide financial collapse as soon as he took office, and general media love of seeing him fail. While he made some bad mistakes, I don't think he had a chance ultimately.

Every so often you see a change coming. I don't like the change, think its a disaster in lots of ways, but am stuck with it, hoping the liberals can make a dent now.

Friday, 30 April 2010

So Its Election Time

Is it just me or do you trust nobody?

I just look at them all and wonder, what the hell?

David Cameron remains vague as hell, talking about tough measures, cut taxes etc (fill in cliche Tory policy). No suggestion in anything he says that he has a clue how to re-build an economic infra-structure. I see nothing in his comments that he has a clue beyond let big business do what they want. As someone unemployed (at the moment) living in central Scotland this is terrifying. We literally have companies offering jobs with 16 - 20 hours to save themselves playing people proper scale or benefits, amidst many people chasing the same few jobs. How exactly do you make a living on these types of absurdly low wages? Its very scary. David Cameron will give these types of people even more power. God knows where that's going to take us. Let's face it, he is still a man who supports the people who got us all into this mess, and is going to cut vital services and economy-building measures that directly affect Scotland and the North Of England, as well as vital social and community-building enterprises. Against a strong leader he would falter badly, as he doesn't engage in answering questions, explaining himself. I think he'll alienate the country against Europe pretty quickly.

Gordon Brown isn't exactly Mr wonderful. He allowed much of this economic absurdity to go through under his charge, worked with banks, allowed as chancellor the policies that aided the economic failure. Never engaged enough in economic re-building. That's essentially been the huge failure of new Labour. 13 years and little re-building, re-engagement in trying to build anything, which leaves everyone in dire straights as the economy fails. He's not exactly doing well, calling voters bigots. On the other hand, he probably does have the best clue how to slowly but surely bring us back to stability. He is concerned with not letting the economy collapse to save a few pounds. I like that. I still don't think he's that bad, just is a natural background player. (As someone with similar public speaking defects I can view some of these areas as something that's not important). He still says what he means, unlike David Cameron. But alas now gives the scent of a dying animal.

Nick Clegg looks more like a second in command. He doesn't stop himself saying stupid things, easy platitudes. On the other hand, I like the liberals. I think they can potentially grow into something interesting in they get more of an in-road into middle England, could make Labour and the Tories need to be more original and actually do some actual planning. But its not quite there yet. Still feels like a lot is being thrown out, see if it will stick.

But I do think for now a hung parliament might be the best solution. I feel, and I don't think I'm alone, that both Labour and the Tories look tired, uninspired. They both need to be better.

Sunday, 28 February 2010

Video Links

Below are links to short webisode entertainment/documentaries that have been created on the subject of the August 2009 broadcast and uploaded on youtube. These are the first of many and shall begin to appear on the run-up to the new broadcast.

The first webisodes is for that of our Chairman/Station Manager, The Wullie Jamison Show, which was our daily mid-morning slot. This show had interviews, competitions and local history spotlighted.

Part 1 is at

Part 2 is at:

Linked to this is footage of the first ever broadcast of Irvine Beat FM, hosted by Wullie. A few teething problems but it soon got up to speed. Link is at:

Next is the daily weekday opening morning slot, the Sandy Clark show, which brought Irvine at new start to the day during August 2009, with news, sports, obscure information and a wide range of music.

Next to look at is the Danielle McLaughlan show, called the Youth Zone, which went out nightly between 6 - 8 pm on weekdays. It's a mix of interviews, very modern music, local bands spotlighted and some silliness.

Part 1 is at:

Part 2 is at:

Then there is The Alan Wallace Show, aka The Beat Man. Alan had a few different shows from Fridays to Sundays, with dance music and an interest in older music, which he explains at the below link.

We developed certain shows as the first broadcast went on, as volunteers got to know one another.  Below links are for a two host conversation show with Drew Hanvey and Danielle MacLaughlan.

Part 1 is at:

Part 2 is at:

For the local area information, Irvine Beat provided Look North, hosted by Jim McHarg, which gave Irvine residents information on services in the area that could potentially be of great use to them, and which we wish to expand upon in upcoming broadcasts.

From Garnock Valley area we have the Ben Harrison/Norrie Barr shows. While having their own slots in the afternoon, these two would team up at times so it seemed best to show them as a pair.

Part 1 is at:

Part 2 is at:

Part 3 is at:

Next we have The Louis Blair Show, which was a daily slot during the month's weekdays. Louis is the station manager at 3TFM and helped with our initial broadcast with both general advice in the lead-up and through his experience during the broadcast.

Friday, 12 February 2010

The Wolfman

I saw The Wolfman. Its nothing like those terrible trailers that have been on tv. The studio look ashamed of the film they made in those trailers.

Its loads of fun. really, made for people who watch hammer and old universal movies. Anyone who doesn't like these will not like this. The film is moody and odd like those films, loves its eccentric accents, stupid villagers and people not saying anything while walking through villages/forests/old houses. Basically its shot like a black and white movie with a few colours shown ( red blood and yellow lights. The rest are shadows). Its also a werewolf movie and only that. It doesn't try and be post-modern, witty in a smug way. We're in the old world and they stick to old rules, which may annoy some but is great if you're a little sick of those "clever" modern films. Its guy gets bitten by wolf, guy turns into wolf, wolf kills lots of people, manwolf is killed by his love. That basic romantic gothic story is all it is. a terrific peice of horror hokum. That's not an insult. Its great for that reason.

All the cast are in on the fun. They know what movie they're in. Anthony Hopkins is a riot. Its the most fun he's been in years, being basically an awful man the entire film, who kills his wife, sends a young Del Toro into the looney bin, lusts after the fiancee of, then kills his other son brutally, then he turns into a wolf. (The entire film is all his fault basically. He even looks wolf-like and quotes hamlet in an astonishly OTT bit, Hamlet in a werewolf film. and it works in that b-movie cheeky way). You're kind of amazed he was never in a late era Hammer film. Emily Blunt is basically a lust object whose men keep getting killed, so she looks haunted a lot, which she does well. Its one of those tricky have to be interesting without the back-up of much writing and dialogue. But she does it very well, gets into the older style of acting.

For their wolfman, they know that casting Benecio Del Toro is enough (not since Oliver Reed in Curse Of The Werewolf has a man been so aptly found to be a man who should turn into a wolf). You don't need much dialogue. Give him a candle, let him be tortured, let the cameraman go wild for ten minutes at a time, let him sniff Emily Blunt once in a while. That's enough. Then he turns into a wolf and kills everyone. Basically what I'm saying is roll on Frankenstein Versus The Wolfman remake, which won't happen. This film will not make enough money. Its too old fashioned. Del Toro should be doing these movies mixed with films like Che.

The wolf attacks are great. A wolf attack is very fast and kills most people before they know they are being attacked. Its very brutal. People are slshed, burned, slashed again. Policemen are decapitated, killed and further mocked for being useless. The wolfman attacks a london tram and no-one gets out alive. Everything you could want from a wolfman attack. The CGI is not too obtrustive, has some great sound effects.

The film came out astonishingly well, which is surprising as it lost its director not long before it began shooting. Joe Johnstone (who directed two early gems Honey I Shrunk The Kids and The Rocketeer before falling away) took over and did a great job of it. The film is very confident and focused, knows what its about. Its paced a little too fast in early stages but these are minor defects. It still very much works.

Sunday, 7 February 2010

Saturday, 2 January 2010

Dr Who - End Of Time

The Russell T Davies-Dr Who era unfortunately ends with a whimper.

After seeing all of these specials I wish they hadn't bothered and finished at the end of the last season, which had a strong second half, and generally had a pleasing sense of purpose and most of Davies' strengths, with his pacing and character focus.

The specials droned on, all of them having the feel of being second-hand ideas that should have stayed unused. All had a tired feel, like the fun was over and the hard work to tie the character energies to plot wasn't there, all of them killing time to the regeneration. A year off would have been better as these were damaging. The scripts flaws in keeping interest became apparant as each special dragged on. Also not interesting was Tennant, who was oddly blank on his way out. He seemed as bored as late-era Tom Baker, but without the jokes. The worst offender was the direction throughout the specials, which didn't have much pace, covering events but never really leading any emotions. It was a little shocking to see an exit where people aren't really delivering despite having a general set-up that should provide a platform a very emotive conclusion.

The End Of Time had a better lead-up than conclusion, Part 1, while being messy and slow, at least had a point most of the time, with the regeneration build-up occuring as part of the mood, and John Simm being in a humorous rage. Part 2 basically ignored part 's build-up and implications with a few tricks, left Simm in a room with bad dialogue, having the Doctor and a few characters holed up in an old ship for half the episode before returning for a quick fight that covers what you wanted to see in a way too brief conversation, has a bit of shooting and things returns to what they once were. What they tell us about Gallifrey and the Time war, how the Master was used, is interesting but needed so much more time. Basically it needed interaction and there was none for the episode. Finally the Doctor makes a stupid sacrifice, leading to his regeneration. Its a neat twist on the he will knock four times to be his companion, and it not to be part of an evil plot, but the guy was 80, and they never sold the reason why he doctor would take his place. Its not sold in an intriguing way, is just a twist, which is damaging aftera year of build to this. Then you had the usual companion round-up, an unfortunately weak final line "I don't want to go.", which is whiney and annoying.

Then Tennant regenerates and the story becomes fun for about a minute, as Matt Smith is one eccentric actor, having the license to go nuts. "I have legs! I have ears!", yelling Geronimo as his tardis crashes towards the earth. And in that minute you realise what the episode and the specials have been missing. Life. The lacklustre quality, when the Doctor shows no real backbone or fight, becomes apparant here.

Davies did all of this far better in The Parting Of The Ways. That was actually a moving regeneration story, with intimidating villains who are defeated in a way which made sense within the frame-work of the story, and had a sacrifice that felt earned. It also had lead actors working well and a central actor going out at peak. Not to mention The Caves Of Andronzani, the Peter Davidson regeneration story and the best over-all, which was a fast-moving melodraama and had the threat of the regeneration running throughout. Tom Baker's Logopolis was also pretty intriguing, Baker almost a ghost walking to his own death, as the universe collapses around him, something I think The End Of Time attempted but it never worked.

Its a shame Davies' era sputtered out a little at the end. I genuinely loved the first series with Eccleston and Series 3 with Tennant, also finding the second half of season 4, after a shaky start, to have wonderful moments. Which makes it annoying that he stayed a little too long. I'm sure it was with the best of intentions, to finish the Tennant era, but these stories just never caught fire and seemed trapped by the conventions already set-up, and they just dragged on.

So he had a weak exit. It happens. It was still a confident era, with next series looking really odd and interesting.