Friday, December 29, 2023

Doctor Who: 60th Anniversary Specials

Yeah sorry, couldn't let it slip by.

Doctor Who! Also known as oh God Russell what will I do with you? Yeah after my....less than enthused reaction to seeing David back, the 60th anniversary has come and the 14th Doctor is on our screens for a brief jaunt in time and space. The real question is, have I mellowed on it and what do I think? The answer is somewhat, cause I was fuming and dreading just a big nostalgic fanwankery throwback to 2008 Doctor Who and it not progressing the character of the Doctor, but I am greatly happy to announce they did confront it and acknowledge it. So I will now laugh in crazed Time Lord manner at the imbeciles and cretins who thought Jodie was just gonna get retconned and tell them to suck it. Long. And hard. You know, for a whopping grand total of four specials spanning 4 hours only there is quite a bit to unpack here so we may just have to break this down special by special. But there's more than just what is presented on screen as well to discuss, we have had some changing of the guards and I can honestly say I have no major qualms with Disney+ possibly being the home to Doctor Who now in the States but I miss watching this show on the BBC America, the budget and scale has never ever been this big or better before, we get a lot of behind the scenes personel back on the programme besides just Russell including Julie Gardner and Rachel Talalay, and I feel the future of the show is up in the air mainly due to the fact I don't keep up with the making of process and what could potentially come next in terms of distribution, writers, or just overall production. I'll touch base on certain things before jumping into the specials themselves, mainly details we knew beforehand. Love the the new logo, classic but with a modern makeover. New title sequence, it's practically kaleidoscopic and I dig it. Theme tune not sold on yet actually, bit too orchestral and not enough sci-fi if that makes any sense but it could grow on me or change outright. New sonic, quite the amalgamation of every modern screwdriver since 2005, I rather like it. New console room, holy cow is that a set! Complete with mood lighting! Sign me up I'm here for it. Onto the specials! The Star Beast is a solid entrance to the anniversary, with our Doctor literally bumping into Donna not long after his deja vu regeneration as a spaceship crashes, leading to a delicate wire balance of save the Earth but don't trigger any memories from Donna. Although that tidbit gets handwaved, and I do frick fraking mean handwaved away at the end which really just hurts the drama and emotion of not only the end of Series 4 but also The End Of Time. I just do not like it, however seeing David and Catherine back is indeed nice and adds new and old elements that have been present in this universe, never did I get bored or was uninterested in viewing it once. It's a simple story with good character interaction, great effects, and is a stepping stone to the next adventure so I can walk away liking it just fine. Wild Blue Yonder is when we get real friggin' good, probably the first time on television Doctor Who has flirted with the concept of cosmic horror as the Doctor and Donna find themselves on a derelict spaceship on the edge of the universe itself when...well just watch it. It combines stuff from Invasion Of The Body Snatchers, The Thing, and for you Big Finish fans out there I kinda got big Scherzo vibes from this episode and that is a terrifying story, seriously check that shit out if you haven't. It really did get under my skin especially when the Doctor just peers out at the sheer darkness beyond the universe, it was very effective stuff. Great episode! The Giggle oh boy here we go, the world has gone mental and one of the oldest enemies the Doctor has ever had has found his way into the universe where a series of games is played winner take all. Positives, love of my life Kate is back, Mels is back and marvellous as ever, even as a not big fan of Neil Patrick Harris he did pretty damn good and I didn't actually hate the Spice Girls number as well, Russell after a decade gets to prod and poke at societal norms today, and it gives a happy ending for David. Negatives and spoilers about to crash down on your head, the plot is kinda loose and is more a vehicle to get The Celestial Toymaker to confront The Doctor again and to get to the ohhh God...the bi-generation. I'm kinda on the fence about it, because as I have stated before I'm a dude that thinks decades into the future of the ramifications of decisions. Buuuuut at the exact same time I've come to accept the MetaCrisis Doctor, the extension of 13 faces/12 regenerations, The Timeless Child I took that shit in pure stride happily, so am I really gonna call bullshit on the bi-generation?? Welllll yeahhhh but like not really, it's a complicated matter and I can so clearly see in my mind's eye that's when some people quit Doctor Who outright. Okay let me put it this way, I don't like it but I'm accepting of it and who knows they could play about with it in the years to come to where I'm happy they did that. Minor sidebar on this episode as well, there is zero damn doubt in my mind the whole companion puppet show was entirely for the benefit of those people who quit watching when Ten regenerated, there is no way you can tell me otherwise. I am right on that. Now! However! When it comes to the man of the fucking hour Ncuti Gatwa as our new Doctor Who ho-ho-hoooo! I can firmly and safely say, hand over my hearts, for the first time in my life, I am so stoked for the new Doctor. Never ever has my excitement and love for a new incarnation even existed let alone be this high before, and not only that this is the first Doctor Who actor I've ever seen prior to the show. Chris, David, Matt, Peter, Jodie, never seen them in something before Doctor Who (I know David was in Goblet Of Fire but that revelation didn't click until a whiles later and I wasn't watching Doctor Who yet so I don't count that.) so it really feels like all the rules be broke and damned for this iteration. My mans kinda stole my heart and he can damn well keep it, I cannot wait to see more of him! So pure 10/10 for Ncuti, but how do the performances stack up for the rest of the cast? The day David Tennant gives a bad performance Hell will freeze over, pigs will have learned to fly, and I will become a monkey's uncle. Is he pretty much the Tenth Doctor all over again? Yeah, but there are added layers to the performance to make it unique enough. Catherine Tate I liked better when she didn't have her memory back but just the unbreakable bond of friendship she has with David off screen practically oozes from the interactions and dynamic they have on screen, and she has a spectacular standout moment at the end of Wild Blue Yonder just oh my God that woman can still act her ass off. Again Neil Patrick Harris is a surprisingly good casting choice and can hold some menace even though he really only has one episode to spread his wings. The Noble family are class, and I thought Yasmin Finney as Rose Noble was quite nice and her presence was felt even when it was just the Doctor and Donna, and okay we have to talk about Bernard Cribbins. That was a hard day after hearing he passed away and knowing this was his final acting role made it special but also sad, and I'm not saying this out of anger or resentment or "how dare they" but I genuinely expected more footage of him in the specials when in truthful reality it was a cameo. I mean clearly I wanted him to be in it a lot cause I love that man, everybody loves him, so I'm not upset at the production team far from it in fact. It just sucks you know? But on the brighter end of things Ruth Madeley as UNIT scientific advisor Shirley Bingham instantly had my attention, I don't know what it is but I would love to see her in more Doctor Who and she is just so goddamn pretty and lovely, that character is Kino. Production values from the costumes, sets, effects both practical and CG, it still wholeheartedly fits in that Doctor Who style but it unmistakenly has had a major facelift and I was impressed, happy, and even nodded approvingly at the silly bits. It truly is a new era for this show and it's just a tiny taste of what is yet to come. Now I would be remiss to not include the Christmas special, Ncuti's first full fledged adventure, so let's shift gears over to that. It may have the most average and dirt simple story of not just all the Christmas specials beforehand but all previous episodes but The Church On Ruby Road is easily one of the most fun and fancy free, ludicrous, and just plain entertaining installments in this whole series. I don't think I can adequately explain why that is, but if you just roll with it and are here for the ride you get a lot of fun! It's basically the Fifteenth Doctor meeting his companion Ruby Sunday as they try to stop meddling goblins, but the story barely matters because how the dialogue is written and vastly more importantly how the actors handle the material and interact with one another is practically electric. It's sheer emotional storytelling and I was smiling like the biggest dweeb on the face of the Earth but it has sad moments to it as well, but the energy and passion presented pretty much made me think, "Wow this is what it must have been like when Doctor Who premiered in 2005 with Rose." like it was kind of amazing. Ncuti Gatwa, 10/10, could not adore him more if I tried. Millie Gibson, I'm pretty much already cherishing the ground she walks on, oh my days and stars! The chemistry is flawless, it really does seem like they are the greatest of friends more so than even Ten and Donna with almost sibling energy at times, it really is exactly what I wanted for Christmas. Twelve and Bill are my pinnacle of modern Tardis teams, but man if this keeps up they will be usurped like yesterday. The positives almost outrageously outweigh the negatives, which really is just I'm still getting used to Ncuti's sonic screwdriver, it almost is like the sonic lance in terms of different (but I love with a capital L the story behind the Gallifreyan text on it) but that can so easily change with time. The goblin song is kind of a groove man, and while the Doctor bursting out into song is no Gallifreyan Buccaneer I still unashamedly dig it. Also shoutout to Ruby's mum that woman is a saint and I want you to acknowledge her, that's how I would have kids I would most certainly adopt and not subject any woman to the body horror show of pregnancy thank you very much. But anyway, easily my favorite of the 60th specials and I can't stand the thought of having to wait March at the earliest and May at the latest for the next proper series. If I had to give individual ratings for each special The Star Beast gets a solid 7/10, Wild Blue Yonder gets an 8/10, The Giggle gets a 7.5/10, and The Church On Ruby Road gets a 9/10. Not bad at all for the special occasion and the hype has never been more real for this show. 

And now to reveal the plan for next year. I'm sensing a drought is going to occur because of the strikes and to level with you this year's amount of written material tied with my first year ever and while I greatly enjoyed the time off I wish to contribute more than I did this year. So I'm not quite gonna get back up to 3+ reviews every week but I will try to punch up a review or two every week besides just new movies once the anniversary arrives. Year 9 here we come, the long way around.

Friday, December 22, 2023

Aquaman And The Lost Kingdom

Last new movie, how was it?

Decent. It's no masterfully written film but if you dig comic stuff, DC stuff, Aquaman in general, or just Jason Momoa it's a competently made entertaining watch. So we flash forward a brief while since Arthur has taken up the throne, he's a full time dad and part time king who is in the crosshairs of Black Manta's seething vendetta and trouble comes a knockin' when Manta finds an ancient cursed trident, so Arthur enlists the help of Orm to stop him. It's a very basic story with not a lot of frills or bells and whistles, it takes moments to progress the characters a notch but mostly it's a status quo movie. Not at all that it's a bad thing the movie does this, simplicity can be highly entertaining and indeed the film has solid good aspects to it, but at the end of the day it's trying to be a fun distraction and not an amazing film. I have no real qualms stating I went to see this primarily for Jason Momoa, the dude is just friggin' cool and I challenge anyone to badmouth seeing Arthur as a papa because those scenes are gold star stuff and I love his just fun, wiseass, bright energy he brings to this role. It took me by surprise we got Orm back in this and to be a good guy after the fairly irredeemable nature of his character in the last movie, but I attest that to the power of Patrick Wilson who trumps all dastardly writing because well...not to make a shameless scene of myself once again but I think I'm hopelessly in love with that man. Like seriously, I've liked him a great deal since Schumacher's Phantom but the crush is kinda real these days guys. Moving swiftly on. Yahya Abdul Mateen still brings his all to this role, granted it's undeniably one dimensional in his lust for revenge, but never once is he uninteresting or dull to watch and I give him fair dues for that! And never to shirk away from unpleasant business, Amber Heard, do I think they should have just fucking recast the bitch and on? Absolutely. Now my statement made in my Flash review still stands, there is characters and there is actors. They are seperate entities. You can hate an actor but still view the character as simply a character. I love Mera, I think she is one of the best comic book characters this century, the woman is so badass it frankly scares me, and it is a joy to see her in various adaptations. She's barely in this movie, I can understand your feelings if you can't disassociate enough and there is nothing wrong with that, we can't change it we simply must accept it and move along. And I'm also very happy they gave Dolph Lundgren a lot more to do this time around than previously, I am always down to see some Lundgren. I actually also rather like quite a lot of expansion on the world and mythos of the sea, you get to see a lot of different and new stuff that wasn't present before, and the visuals are still really nice! Bioluminescence for the win! We get expanded history on the kingdoms which is interesting, new creatures, new locales, I dig that. Soundtrack is also unique and neat too. Now the negative aspects are incredibly far from film breaking or even just plain dumb, but there are things that could have been written better and or just edited out. I feel the main scientist guy is crossing into sheer stereotypical, scientist who works for the bad guys but isn't a bad guy himself, and just plain superflous territory. Whoever the living shit made these stupid location title cards, Jerry on the 3rd floor who wanted to contribute to the movie somehow, God fuck almighty you want to talk about waste? The less than in depth writing of Black Manta which I know could have been better but it's overall serviceable to the plot. It's just small things that could have been done better and chips away at the final score a good bit, but this is not a bad sit and you can enjoy parts of it. I know some people are looking at this movie and saying what's the goddamn point when the DCEU is effectively done and over lasting 10 years since Man Of Steel? And while I fully and passionately agree that this series of films had a ton of bullshit interference from the studios, more so later on near the end, to say it was all worthless and "a decade of nothing" as one unproductive member of society said it could not be farther from the truth. I really liked Man Of Steel, Wonder Woman was great, Shazam was fun and fancy free, Birds Of Prey I actually rather enjoyed, The Suicide Squad was class, Blue Beetle had surprising amounts of heart, and even the ones I wouldn't consider the greatest of the lot still held entertainment and interest for me. Am I biased towards DC over Marvel? Yeah, but I'm also wise enough to know every movie has it's problems objectively but it's your perspective that matters whether you like something or not. I can't truthfully speak on what will come for DC and whether I shall be onboard or not, but how will I know if I don't come and see? Will I see and behold a white horse and the name that sat upon it was Death, or will it be a great new beginning? This chapter of history is over. Turn the page. 2 stars, 6.5/10, a passable end to a decade of actually decent flicks.

Friday, December 15, 2023


I...will accept that.

Again, had next to zero inkling what this movie would be but I stepped in happy and open minded and was rewarded for my efforts. I feel the trailers did kind of a disservice, it was really pushing the Gene Wilder-isms and origin story card to get butts in seats, when in actuality the film is a beast of it's own entirely. In fact it is folly and a waste of time to compare this with the 70s film, it's like seeing a person with the same hair color, eye color, and even the same shape of their noses but everything else is different entirely. Even the angle of it's a prequel to Willy Wonka & The Chocolate Factory is null and void, it uses elements of that film with some being more on the nose than others but ultimately is a fun and fancy free film with plenty of ludicrous nonsense. But a little nonsense now and then is relished by the wisest man. So our tale begins with a young Mr. Wonka setting foot back on dry land after seven years of seafaring to a city where he wants to open his first shop. Now the odd thing about this town that I noticed is everyone is for the most part british and cockney in accent, but I swear I saw a street sign in german but no architecture was german. Very strange. But anywho! So, and this is a no horseshit Jack statement, there is a chocolate cartel conspiring against the candyman and on top of that this movie gets a tiny bit little orphan Annie, and a squad of workers chip in to help open the store. That's the basic gist and for a film around the 2 hour mark keeps a very good pace, with more musical numbers than Willy and Charlie combined and it is exactly as I suspected. You get every flavor of song you can think of, introductory song, aspiration song, villain song, sad song, the works with full blown can-can dancing included at times. The songs are passable, I didn't adore nor despise any of them, and Timothée actually has a pretty decent singing voice. And yeah his performance is entirely his own, he has moments of Gene but at the end of the day is his own unique iteration. The emotion and humor is there from all the characters, with a good bit of love going towards Paterson Joseph, Jim Carter, Keegan-Michael Key, and of course Rowan Atkinson who were a joy to see. Though I feel slightly bait and switched when it came to Sally Hawkins but all is forgiven for I got to see her rapturous beauty if only for a moment. And to be honest I was fawning a bit over Rakhee Thakrar too. The sets and colors are great, the movie is actually really dang funny and I was probably the only one cracking up in that theater, even the plain absurdity of Hugh Grant as an Oompa-Loompa works surprisingly well I mean this director knew what tone and style he wanted and nailed it pretty succesfully! It is a fun movie and thankfully not terribly saccharine, so it is a recommendation. It's honestly tied with the 70s version for me but I give it 3.5 stars, 7.5/10! And I think the end may almost be here, but I may have a trick or two up my sleeves for you to enjoy.

Wednesday, December 13, 2023

Charlie And The Chocolate Factory

I think there's a reason I haven't watched this since 2005.

I mean, it's not bad. It really isn't, it just didn't do anything for me. Now I watched it a fair bit when I was like 10, though I speak from experience when I say not to watch it when you're sick and you got a fever and your brain feels all mixed and scrambled, but it's good to compare notes on with the Gene Wilder film. Same basic story with a few alterations, imaginings, and some delvings in Wonka's past to make it indeed a film of it's own and not a straight up remake. I feel Tim Burton is a rock solid choice for the film because you know he's a visual director with a distinct style and can give such a wild and weird look once you're in the factory and I feel he somewhat delivers but I also feel it's one of his more "normal" looking films like Edward Scissorhands. Johnny Depp I love you man, you are a very talented performer, and I ain't got a clue why you're here. Not that it's bad writing or a poor performance, I think I fully understand the angle they were working, it's a reclusive guy who's headspace is still very much childlike and immature with a dose of parental trauma I understand that part, but it ain't fully realized. He's just kinda out there, spacey, awkward, very much in his little world, and for lack of a better term alien. There was one moment where I feel he got it, captured a spark of Gene Wilder, when he was trying to unlock the gate so Veruca could be saved, that was rich! Charlie ain't much better, unbelievably categorized in that nice kid mold with barely a lick of personality though I'm happy Freddie kept acting and has gotten good stuff since. The kids are a bit meaner which I rather like cause that's incredibly believable for children, and they still are as one dimensional as the characters in the 70s version so that's a small improvement. Major props to Deep Roy who had to play every single Oompa Loompa on camera, that is commitment and he got paid accordingly as well for all his work. I'm rather split on the musical cues because it's not a musical per se as the previous film, we only get the what I like to call the comeuppnace songs after each kid gets bumped off, it's a neat touch that each song focuses on a decade of music from the 50s to the 80s (not in that particular order) but the songs are kinda ehhh. I rather enjoy Danny Elfman's music, both in cinema and in his band Oingo Boingo, but this is his lowest for me on the ranking of his film scores. It's not all negatives of course, but hey man people have their preferences. The movie did a decent job getting a few really good laughs out of me, the set design goes from mundane to beautifully realized, any screen time with Christopher Lee is a win, the kid actors were good with the material they had, to hear Geoffrey Holden as the narrator was a real treat for me, and I even appreciated the House Of Wax nod that Tim slipped in there. It's okay, I can take it or leave it, but who says it can't work for someone? As for the upcoming Wonka...oh my God I am so perplexed as to how this will go. It seems to be appropriately out there just in the overall movie landscape of 2023. Full blown musical dance numbers and all, the tone feels light and leaning towards über cutesy to where you could get the diabeetus from watching it, it is unashamedly different in it's style and tone, all I'm hoping for is a good movie but I have a sneaking suspicion it'll be the bridgehead of quality between Charlie and Willy Wonka. Final scores, 2.5 stars, 5.5/10, and here's hoping for Friday.

Monday, December 11, 2023

Willy Wonka And The Chocolate Factory

No better time to take a small jaunt down memory lane.

I'm sure for my generation and the one previous, this film has been an early watch in our childhoods but I'm rather curious as to what people think of it today. Whether they be kids or adults, because while I've always liked the movie I've never loved it. It's not been a staple of my childhood, but I'm sure it is for someone. So the story goes a poor young lad named Charlie is living his less than good life when the reclusive owner of the biggest candy making factory in the world sends out five golden tickets to gain entry to the factory and see all the fantastical and wonderous things within. Now what I really have to commend the film for is actually the fact that it's age kinda helps it work. It's shot in 1970s West Germany, the clothing and production design are embedded in the 70s, and you'd be surprised how much the film...not necessarily lolligags about but rathers does a fair bit of world building cause you see news coverage, and TV interviews, and even just random scenes of superflous characters, which makes it almost seem like you're watching a piece of real world history. All the contraptions and inventions in the factory are absurd and ludicrous but have that children's story twinge to it like you really just stepped into another world entirely. Yeah you can poke fun at the movie almost from minute one to end credits a lot of people do, but credit goes to all the people who worked on the movie to make it as good as they did. Speaking of children's stories this was one, in a series of books written by Roald Dahl the guy who also wrote The Witches (90s family film that probably traumatized a few kids), The BFG (not to be associated with Doom), and also Matilda (underground gem feverishly lauded by adults my age), and it may be a bit of a shock to learn he really did despise and detest this adaptation of his work. Also surprising was that the movie didn't do all that well in theaters and more got it's reputation through video rentals as time went on. I can very firmly say the reason to watch the film is Gene Wilder as Willy Wonka, and the film does a pretty good job building up this mystery of the factory and it's proprietor I mean you don't even see the guy until the 40 minute mark in this one hour and forty minute film, but once he's there you can't. Look. Away. And I LOVE the potrayal here, cause you can't get a read on him! He's kind and yet dispassionate at instances, he clearly is a well read individual but he's a bit off his damn rocker at the same time, I mean you kinda have to be to come up with all this edible foolishness but there's this wide eyed sparkle and stare about him not far off from a mad scientist in one certain shot. Maybe that's why they picked him for Young Frankenstein. Gene is a walking talking marvel in this picture and still probably won't be topped anytime soon. Not ever to discredit the kids in this movie, in all seriousness this is actually pretty great child acting for the time, each with memorable and easily definable characters with individual flaws. It does take on a Grimm's Fairy Tales aspect with each kid having a vice or deadly sin as it were and it bites them in the ass sooner rather than later, but even Charlie is still a kid with wants and woes and isn't pigeonholed into a "good kid" category. It's interesting to watch it again and pick up on so much that didn't even register as a kid, even if the tunnel really doesn't make that much sense still and yeahhh let's discuss the tunnel shall we. Um, I love it. It's a bad acid trip in the middle of a children's film, has the balls to show a live chicken beheaded in full, scary ass poetry is recited which of course I know by heart, and ends almost as quickly as it began. Why??? How?? I don't know why it's there or how they came to that decision to make it, but I'm so happy they did. I really love when kid's films get just creepy and weird, it happens more with films from the 70s and 80s, another great example that I see no one talk about is the scene where Charlie is outside the gates of the factory at nightfall and for absolutely no reason this man who has a rickety cart filled with friggin' cleavers and butcher knives recites some creepy ass poetry about little men then walks off. Why is it there? Beats me man but it's something memorable. Maybe there's a message to the offbeat weird shit, maybe it's just to give people the heebie jeebies. Probably the latter. And it's a musical to boot, there's a fair few songs in this film! Now I attribute that more to the fact that it's a children's film and that's more common in such features, but the songs aren't bad even if some are strangely brief. It's just such a tiny bit of an anomaly this movie, I dare say there isn't another film like it even if compared to next time's review, I'm sure it was an oddball picture when it released and it hasn't lost it's unique individualistic bizzare quality since. It's a sure fire watch for the sole reason of seing Gene do what he does beautifully and make an opinion of your own. I give it 3 stars, 7.5/10, Tim Burton version next time.