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In what feels like seven decades in the making, two of DC’s mightiest heroes go toe to toe in an all-out no holds barred smack down. This, we’re assured by Jesse Eisenberg’s Lex Luthor several times, will be the gladiatorial fight of the century. Is it though?

Don’t let the action figures and pint sized pyjamas on sale in Kmart fool you. Batman v Supermanis not a kid’s film. Nor is it even a family film. This cinematic interpretation is aimed squarely at the adults who want, nay demand, that their childhood obsessions grow up with them. This is translated into a cinematic universe where Batman tackles paedophiles and sex traffickers by branding them with a hot bat symbol, where Superman’s deeds in Man of Steel resulted in the deaths of thousands and Lex Luthor waxes lyrical about the abuse he suffered at the hands of his father and sends jars of urine to his enemies before blowing them up. This is a DC comic filtered through the lens of a bad fan fiction. This not a universe I want to live in.

It may be an old fashioned way of thinking, but superhero movies need to show their heroes being, well, super. In Batman v Superman – a title bout that doesn’t happen till around the two-hour mark – both of our heroes are rarely seen doing anything remotely so.

As Bruce Wayne/Batman, Ben Affleck is in danger of tripping over his brow due to how furrowed it is. He lives in a modern condo down river from a desolate Wayne Manor. He spends his nights with literally faceless women and having violent visions about Henry Cavill’s Superman. Having seen the blue tighted one effectively turn Metropolis to dust two years previously, the playboy millionaire is concerned for the welfare of America at the hands of aliens. In a sense, he’s the Donald Trump of superheroes.

Meanwhile, Clark Kent (Henry Cavill) struggles with his work life balance as the media slowly becomes obsessed with Superman and the untold damage his heroics have caused over the years. Would it have hurt the film to have a simple scene of Clark enjoying being a superhero? Evidently so. If you enjoyed moody space Jesus in Man of Steel, you’re going to get a kick out of watching him crying in the aftermath of a terrorist attack.

Perhaps the brightest spot in the whole murky affair – and director Zack Snyder has really gone out of his way to drain this comic book movie of most hues – is Gal Gadot as Wonder Woman. Though even then, it’s hard not to feel her appearance would have had more effect had it not been spread thinly across every trailer in the last six months.

Later this year, Marvel will throw their own one on one into the cinema with Captain America: Civil War. It’s important to mention this, because with ten films down, Marvel has earned the right to have Captain America and Iron Man square off. This only the second film of the DC Cinematic Universe, and quite frankly everyone needs to be given time to breathe and think about what they really want to do. Sony’s aborted Amazing Spider-Man trilogy shows that trying to capture the same lightening as Marvel is going to be hard. DC can pull it off if they stop trying to rush everything and overstuff the film; spending close to three hours throwing everything at the screen in the hopes that something sticks.

There are several cameos, and (so. many.) dream sequences, that obviously hint at future adventures, which is fine. However, when a certain Justice League member turns up from the future to warn Batman about the past, and who is never referred to again for the rest of the film, its evident that DC comics doesn’t care for the casual viewer. They want the fans. They want the fan’s money. It’s marketing at it’s most cynical.

Overlong, dull and pretentious, Batman v Superman is the superhero movie that dyes its hair black, plays Lana Del Rey songs repeatedly and refuses to call Mum’s new lover Dad no matter how much Steve insists.

 

This review originally appeared at earlybirdfilm.wordpress.com

And so it ends. Series 8 has possibly been one of the more satisfying series of Doctor Who under Moffat’s reign. Stripped of its recent dependence on timey wimey nonsense, the show has felt reinvigorated. It’s been suggested that Moffat doesn’t listen to the fans, and nor should he, but it couldn’t have escaped anyone’s attention that this series has had more in common with the first four than anything else.

In Dark Water/Death in Heaven, several story arcs came to an end as an old enemy returned to cause havoc upon planet earth with a little help of the Cybermen. It was big, it was brash, but it also managed to be highly emotional in way that Doctor Who hasn’t been for a long time. These two episodes have seen Moffat doing what he likes to do best: referencing the past (a lot) and messing around with everyone who has access to the internet.

Danny Pink joins the ranks of Rory and Mickey as people get caught in the crossfire when the Doctor and his companion are in town. Hit by a car, facing your demons in a fake heaven and being cyber converted is not the first thing one would ask for in the event of their death. But here he was, defiant in the end. His final scenes with Clara were heartbreaking. When the Doctor appeared on the scene, his anger was well and truly justified. Through no fault of his own Danny was about to pay the ultimate sacrifice. And as he proved The Doctor’s skepticism of soldiers was unwarranted, my heart broke further. Danny probably deserved more in life. He was a tortured man, who didn’t need to prove anything, but found himself having to do so.

And poor Clara. There was no glory in death for her. Remember the bubbly wide-eyed innocent we met in Series 7? It’s fair to say the Doctor has chewed her up and spat her out. Handing her a lottery ticket with next week’s numbers on it, ala the Tenth, is just not going to cut it this time. She tried to do by right the Doctor, by Danny and more importantly by herself. She was clever and resourceful. Look how she handled the cyber men by pretending to be the Doctor (further acknowledgement that Moffatt sees a future for a female Doctor): she deserved better. And she knew this too. As they both lied to each other in that final scene, her relationship with the Doctor is like that metaphorical ball of paper. It can be flattened out, but you’re still going to see the marks.

UNIT returned to boss the Doctor around and make him the President on Earth. A storyline that didn’t really go anywhere, but at least gave us an excuse to see? Kate Lethbridge-Stewart and Osgood again. There are accusations that Moffat can only write one type of female character, which I find to be completely unfounded. Moffat can’t write ‘sexy’ femme fatales very well. See Irene Adler and Melody Pond in Let’s Kill Hitler. However, in this series we had four distinct female characters. Four? Yep four. And if you don’t know what I’m talking about, stop reading now.

Missy was in fact the Master!

Those who brush away the reference to the Corsair’s gender-swapping antics in season 7 are going to struggle now. It’s official. Time Lords can and will change gender. Maybe one day we will have a female Doctor too and I look forward to it. I will be there cheering on the change, as well as warming myself by the heat of the anger from Twitter. Did the dynamic change with Michelle Gomez in the role? For me, not really. Once I quickly accepted her preference of pronouns, I was fully on board. When the Master first resurfaced under RTD’s reign, he was a coward, having hidden himself away from the Time War. He forced his regeneration to put him on par with the Tenth’s youthful appearance. No goatees here, my good man. Except something wasn’t right. With youth cam a little bit of madness. He was erratic, sexual and not shy of abusing his wife. Even in defeat, he had to get the upper hand on the Doctor by refusing to regenerate. And then, after some Harry Potter BS, he was back as blonde jacked-up super villain. The drumming that drove him mad, revealed to be the work of Rassilon.

The last appearance of the Simm-Master saw him fighting against Rassilon and weirdly defending the Doctor. And where was the Doctor? Well, he got a poorly tummy from radiation sickness and went off to cry about Rose. So, it’s understandable that the Master might have been a bit pissed to have been left in the lurch. And so here she is, having orchestrated the meeting of Clara and the Doctor simply to prove a point. That The Doctor is basically The Master. Two sides of the same coin. And to prove it, she gave him control of her cyber-army. As she pointed out several times, she’s bananas.

Gomez’s portrayal of the Master was superb. Channeling a touch of Simm as well Sue White from Green Wing, she was a whirlwind of villainy and 80s pop songs. It’s good to know that no matter what happens to the Master, they love their Earth pop culture. Then there was that kiss. It could be argued that Moffat was injecting some heteronormative behavior in the role, but another way to look at it is that the Master is bloody enjoying the fact that The Doctor doesn’t recognize her. And whereas the Eleventh Doctor might have been up for the snog, Twelvy clearly wasn’t. If you wanted further proof that Moffat has put the pretty-boy Doctor to bed then that scene was it.

Sadly, we couldn’t enjoy her company for too long before she had back against the wall and the Doctor being called upon by Clara to take her out. Not just in revenge for Danny but for everyone that has died at the hands of the Master because the Doctor always lets them get away. Would the Doctor have gone ahead with it? Who knows because someone did it for him. Brigadier Lethbridge-Stewart did the job for him. Now you may not have liked how he was brought back, but I certainly think it was in character. If Danny Pink was going to override his cyber-programming to find Clara, then the Brig was not going to stand away and be told what to do by the Master. And like Danny’s sacrifice, it proved once again that the Doctor needs to ease up on his armed forces bashing. His solitary salute was beautiful.

Then there was the Doctor. Ah Twelvy. You wanted to know if you were a good man and you realized like the rest of us, that we’re capable of being anything at any time and as long as you keep fighting the good fight, you have nothing to fear. Too bad the Master managed to give him the finger one last time by giving fake coordinates to Galliffrey. When the told The Master she had won, he didn’t know the half of it.

And then there was a further tip of the hat to the Davies era, with a credit sting leading into the Christmas special, with Capaldi’s raised eyebrow replacing the Tenth’s triple what.

It’s been a fantastic series and I look forward to revisting it over the next couple of weeks to catch things I may have missed. If Moffat can keep up this momentum for series 9, things can only get better.

I wish I had reams of things to say about this weeks, but unfortunately there was very little there to hook me. Bugger.

This was the chill out room of episodes. Not even the threat of the world being set ablaze by solar flares could stop you from thinking, ‘Everything is going to be okay.’ Which is a bit of a problem when you’re trying to create tension, isn’t it?

As I sit here typing, I’m struggling to think of anything to say aside from ‘fine.’ The performances were fine, the script was fine, the denouement was fine. It was all just… fine. At the time, I was caught up in it all. London had succumbed to tree squatters. There were wolves. There was a tiger. Nelson’s Column nearly crushed some kids. But in the cold light of day, I’m thinking there wasn’t much else to it. It wasn’t a bad episode of Doctor Who. It was just… and episode of Doctor Who. Something I imagine the Fifth Doctor getting involved in. ‘Oh look, Tegan. Trees. Is it nap time yet?’

A large part of why I stuck around was because of Sheree Folkson’s direction which was magical. Often positioning the camera to look up to the Doctor, we were reminded how daunting he must be to children and how much he is just like one of them.

In the Forest of the Night was very much like getting trapped in a forest of wonder – bear with me – in that whilst it was fun to get lost in and appreciate everything that was going on around me, once I’m was back in the real world, I’m not sure I want to go back.

About The Author
My name is John Noonan. I’m a freelance writer that specialises in arts and entertainment. From genre flicks to chick flicks, I love the stuff. So much so, I started a film review blog at earlybirdfilm.wordpress.com. I also contribute to online and hard copy press, including FilmInk magazine.

If you like what you see, I am available for hire. You can contact me via the social media channels above or the form on my home page.

Confession time… I bloody love Gareth Roberts. Like with Mark Gatiss, as soon as I hear that he’s written an episode, I’m chomping at the bit to watch it. As a writer on Doctor Who, he has never let me down. And it’s at this point I’m supposed to write, ‘until now’ but I won’t because once again he knocked it out of the park with The Doctor going undercover at Coal Hill School to hunt down a murderous robot. Of course, much like the Lodger, his attempts to play human go awry to humorous effect; Capaldi reminding me of a certain Northern regeneration as he blustered around the school insulting anyone in his path.

Except that wasn’t really the plot was it? No, it wasn’t. Well done. Have a biscuit.

Indeed, The Caretaker was really about The Doctor meeting the new love in Clara’s life, Danny Pink. And boy did it fail to run smoothly. Danny, sensing when someone is looking down their nose at them, undermined The Doctor at any given opportunity. Whilst the Doctor seemed to be bruising from the fact that Danny was a sign of Clara destined to leave him. For a soldier no less! Strange behavior for a man who sent Martha Jones to work for UNIT. Or maybe, it was because Clara wasn’t attracted to her floppy-haired, bowtie wearing colleague. Maybe not. Either way, the episode ended with begrudging acceptance from both men; the likes of which we haven’t really seen since The Doctor first met Mickey Smith all those moons ago.

I’d like to think that Danny isn’t going to make her choose, but that’s mostly because I don’t want to think Clara could be told what to do. And the only reason I haven’t suggested the Doctor might make her choose is because I don’t think he’d bloody dare. What happens from this point on is hard to judge. Will Danny step on board the TARDIS? I don’t think so now. His mistrust in the Doctor is two great. Though by the end of the season, he could be in a big yellow truck trying to open the heart of the TARDIS. Hmmm, that would make a good episode.

About The Author
My name is John Noonan. I’m a freelance writer that specialises in arts and entertainment. From genre flicks to chick flicks, I love the stuff. So much so, I started a film review blog at earlybirdfilm.wordpress.com. I also contribute to online and hard copy press, including FilmInk magazine.

If you like what you see, I am available for hire. You can contact me via the social media channels above or the form on my home page.

I’m pretty convinced that at some point in my seventh year on this earth I was approached by some guys in suits who sat me down and said, ‘Now look here, kid. We wanna make a picture, see. What are the kind of things you like?’ Immediately, I spouted off a list of things including zombies, killer robots and at least one of the three boxers from Rocky IV. As soon as I was finished, the two men disappeared in a blinding light. I never had the evidence to prove this had happened. But now, finally, I do. The film that I sold to those (clearly) time travelling film execs was Battle of the Damned.

Read the full review: http://horrornews.net/88271/film-review-battle-damned-2013/#ixzz3EhVIAO00

…we came in?

A few years back, in the early part of my relationship with the woman I proudly call my best friend/wife/listener to the worst of my pop culture rants, I used to have a terrible time shutting my brain off. I’d start thinking about little things that bugged me. Really pointless inconsequential things. These little ticks would snowball and before I knew it, I’d be turning to my best friend/wife/person who makes a cracking stir fry and cry, ‘I’ve done it again. I’ve thought too much.’ I could construct monuments to paranoia and anger; the biggest ball of introspection in the west. After a while, I managed to sort it out and can get through the day quite reasonably without starting a fight with myself…

I’m sure everyone has a similar story, which is why the latest episode of Doctor Who, Listen, worked so well. We’ve all talked to ourselves, we’ve all debated ourselves into a knot and we’ve all thought about the worst case scenario. And that’s where we find the Doctor; talked into a corner by himself and trying to find out whose fault it is.

Grabbing an almost unwilling Clara, The Doctor bounces around time trying to work out why we all talk to ourselves and why we sometimes have that sense of dread that we’re not alone. The genius of this episode is how Steve Moffatt manages to lay out two co-existing plots here, and I’m not just talking about the sub-plot with Danny Pink, but we’ll get to that. No, I’m referring to the following:

Storyline 1: The Doctor believes there is a creature out there with a terrific ability to hide. You can feel it just behind when you’re in the dark. It plays with you by moving things around. Everyone at some point in time will meet it. The Doctor pieces together the clues to hunt it down.

Storyline 2: Lost in thought he recalls a time in his childhood when he felt most terrified. The Doctor begins to overthink things, which leads him into failing to see the woods for the trees. He turns a molehill of a memory into a mountain of misunderstanding, corrupting the facts to fit his hypothesis.

Look on the internet and you’ll see that people are divided as to whether there was anything out there. Even when there’s other witnesses, such as a young Danny Pink and his descendent Orson Pink, the story is written to fit a number of conclusions. Young Danny could be the victim of a practical joke, whilst Orson has been on his own for so long his mind is playing tricks on him. Or maybe not?

Staying focused on Danny for a moment; He is, for me, fast becoming our sense of reality on Doctor Who. He’s Wilfred. He’s Jackie Tyler and Mickey Smith. Suffering from PTSD, part of me feel he’s  a reason for Clara to stay in the present should the opportunity arise. But then, Orson did mention that one of his great-grandparents used to tell him stories about time travel… Why must we assume that it’s Clara? To assume that is to assume everything works out for Danny and her in the end. I don’t think Moffat works like that. Danny may step on board the TARDIS one day, but I’m not sure he’ll be with Clara forever. Especially if she continues to put in her foot in her mouth. She may very well be able to stand up to alien creatures and overlords, but she is not so good on a first date.

And then there’s that scene in the barn and a young weeping time lord. Some will, or already have, cried foul. Ooh, Moffat is messing with Doctor Who canon, blah, blah! But then those people, politely, need to get over themselves. Not to sound dismissive, but as the last 50 years of Doctor Who have been built on chopping and changing the show’s canon, I couldn’t care less. Whenever you get really angry about someone changing something in the show you hold dear, just remember that a long time ago, Doctor Who was about an old man with a time machine and one heart. Psychic paper, time lords, Adric and regeneration limits were the stuff of fancy. Times change and so must we.

Anyway, yes, it all turns out that the Doctor was comforted back to sleep by Clara, who soothed him with words she learnt from the older him only hours earlier. And then, and THEN! She ends up telling him something that he’ll end up saying when he kidnaps a couple of teachers in his future. It turned my brain in to a pretzel, but I loved it and, honestly, it brought a tear to my eye.

Listen was a brilliant episode and possibly one of Moffat’s best since Blink. Since the problematic sixth season, he has been upping his game and if this is the kind of thing he can do, then I look forward to more of the same. Come on Moffat. I know you’ve got it in you.

And then I began to think… How do we actually know that it was the Doctor Clara was talking to? Who’s to say that it wasn’t a young boy who had stared into the time vortex and was driven mad? Who’s to say that Clara’s soothing words weren’t accidental encouragement for a pre-destined goateed maniac who will try and conquer 1970s UK and then the world? Look, I’m not saying it WAS the Master, but it could have been. But it probably wasn’t. But it could have been. Though it’s doubtful. But it might not be. I’m drifting. Have I ever told you I over think things?

Isn’t this where…

About The Author
My name is John Noonan. I’m a freelance writer that specialises in arts and entertainment. From genre flicks to chick flicks, I love the stuff. So much so, I started a film review blog at earlybirdfilm.wordpress.com. I also contribute to online and hard copy press, including FilmInk magazine.

If you like what you see, I am available for hire. You can contact me via the social media channels above or the form on my home page.

Warning: We’ve tried to keep spoilers to a minimum, but please advised that if you’ve still yet to see the 50th Anniversary Special of Doctor Who, you’re best looking elsewhere for now.

You’ll have to have been trapped in some distant nebula to not know that that Doctor Who is now into its 50th year. As part of the celebrations, the anniversary special has made it the cinemas in glorious 3D – and not 12D as the good Doctor (Matt Smith) suggests in the opening promo.

Steven Moffat was always going to have to a hard time of it with The Day of the Doctor. On the one hand, we have the hardcore, dyed in the wool fans who want to see a special that carts out William Hartnell’s corpse to appease them. To them the show goes beyond pin-up boy David Tennant and his lovey-dovey Doctor. They want a dark doctor! On the other hand, we have the youngsters, the ones who helped make the show’s resurgence. They embraced Russell T. Davies’ reboot and The Day of the Doctor should acknowledge them. And on the third hand – This is sci-fi! We’re allowed three hands – there will be people who know Doctor Who as nothing more than that show with the metal pepperpots, and will be tuning in to see what all the fuss is about.

So, how did it go?

Well, pretty well actually. In fact, very well. In actual fact, we’re still recovering from it all.

Moffat seems to have managed to address concerns on all fronts; embracing the show’s canon, whilst providing a narrative that embraces newcomers one and all. A series of events leads to three incarnations of the Doctor having to join forces to save the world from the Zygons. Well, that’s not really the A-Story, but it’s the one we’re going to tell you. The Day of the Doctor is a bit like opening presents on Christmas Day. You don’t really know what you’ve got until you open them, and then there’s that giddy joy of finding one or two extras tucked away behind the tree. From Gallifrey, to long scarves, to mockney accents, references appear like little chunky nuggets of fun that won’t confuse the casual viewer.

It’s not just Moffat’s script that’s worth mention, Nick Hurran’s direction is particularly dynamic. It’s very easy for a show-runner to say his script is dynamic, but it’s the director that has to realise it. From to barren deserts to war-torn cities, Hurran has added some real weight to the visuals. We are far, far, far from the days when two school teachers turned up at a junkyard to talk to an old man in a blue box.

Whilst we take a break from the gushing praise, we should address the elephant in the room. John Hurt. Yes, he’s a forgotten Doctor, but it’s quite obvious that the character was originally the Ninth Doctor, played by Christopher Eccleston. Whilst Moffat has provided a backstory to explain all this away, it does irk a little. But only a little. Hurt is superb as the earlier and grumpier incarnation of Smith and Tennant. He acts as a bridge not only from the classic series to the new, but he also plays mouthpiece to the numerous old school fans who have had quibbles with the new show’s tropes, such as the overuse of sonic screwdrivers as a weapon. ‘What are you going to do? Assemble a wardrobe at them?!’

The other major problem is a cameo from the show’s past that comes out of nowhere and doesn’t really add anything to the story. But then again, who are we to fault a desire to please everyone.

The Day of the Doctor is a funny, moving, fast paced adventure. It’s big and bold and it’s a standing testament to the endurance of the show. Not bad for something that was cobbled together 50 years ago to fill a gap between the football and Top of the Pops. Not bad at all.

About The Author
My name is John Noonan. I’m a freelance writer that specialises in arts and entertainment. From genre flicks to chick flicks, I love the stuff. So much so, I started a film review blog at earlybirdfilm.wordpress.com. I also contribute to online and hard copy press, including FilmInk magazine.

If you like what you see, I am available for hire. You can contact me via the social media channels above or the form on my home page.