Sunday, August 24, 2014

Doctor Who - Now With More Peter Capaldi

At some point in the next month or two, someone will say to me, "Hey Deesher, what do you think of the new Doctor?".  At which point, I could try to rant about my feelings, only to have someone interrupting me with their own running commentary as I speak, followed by me forgetting my train of thought because my train never runs on a schedule and makes way too many stops.  Or, I could just write a quicky blog and just give you the link to read... or at the very least, I could memorize everything here and repeat it verbatim. 

To be clear, when I say 'New Doctor', I am not talking about my new personal physician (although for the record, he does seem good and fairly competent, which is a wonderful change from my last doctor before he regenerated.  And by regenerated, I mean I looked through the list of other doctors available in my area who will take my insurance).  No, I am talking about the longest running series on television, Doctor Who, and the first appearance of Peter Capaldi as the newly regenerated Doctor.

Doctor Who began in 1963, and for the most part, kept a certain continuity since it began.  There have been some great episodes, and some not so great episodes over the years.  I have a lot of respect for the wonderful original sci-fi elements and some powerful acting contained in many episodes.  I wrote a whole thingy on how much I love this show, and you can read all about it here.

Last December 2013, we said farewell to Matt Smith's Doctor when he regenerated at the end of the episode The Time of the Doctor, (is that still considered a spoiler at this point?).  And after what felt like an overly extended hiatus, we finally get to see Peter Capaldi as the Doctor, in the first episode of the new season, Deep Breath.

So, the first thing you might notice... he's old.  For the record, I have no problem with an older Doctor, but after his appearance continued to get younger and more energetic in the last few Doctors, it does feel like there is a certain amount of grinding to a halt.  And for the record part deux, of course there have been older Doctors in the history of the show, starting with William Hartnell who was the very first Doctor in 1963.  But it is most definitely a different sort of dynamic having someone in their late 50's playing the lead in any series.

During the course of Deep Breath, The Doctor asked himself, why he would be older.  It seemed a big concern and it's possible there is a deeper purpose yet to be determined.  It also seems to indicate that his body knows more about his future than his mind.  Or maybe it was writer Steven Moffat making notes on the corner of the script that Capaldi read during filming, not knowing they were only notations. 

Whatever the reason for his older appearance, it seems our lovable goofy style of Doctor is gone for now, replaced by someone who is much more serious and dark.  The show still had moments of humor, but the overall tone of the new Doctor seems like he isn't here to sonic screw around much.  This isn't necessarily a bad thing, however traditionally, the more successful Doctors have been more fun to watch, (i.e. Tom Baker and my fav, David Tennant). 

Of course my initial feelings could be completely wrong, because he is still finding his place in the Who-niverse.  And, as with every regeneration, it takes a while for each Doctor to find their specific niche. 

The episode itself, (Deep Breath) was a good solid Steven Moffat written kick-off for the new season.  There was nothing that really overly wowed me, but it was a decent premiere after waiting... 8 PAINFUL MONTHS!!  We got to see the team of Madame Vastra, Jenny and Strax, and I always love them.  I'm seriously very eager to see them in a spin-off series, but for now, it's fun to watch them do their thing with the Doctor... whoever he may be.

As an actor, Peter Capaldi was good and he'll definitely add something new to a long line of unique versions of the Doctor.  So of course I'll keep watching, because the BBC and Steven Moffat know how to write a decent sci-fi series.  But I do feel like we are in for a more serious version of the Doctor.  Which is too bad, because I love to laugh too.

And for now at least, we still have the sweet sexy Clara (Jenna Coleman) to help ease us through this transition period.


Monday, August 11, 2014

Oculus Review

Mirror mirror on the... no, I'm not doing that for sooooo many reasons, even though I'm reviewing a movie about a haunted mirror.   Horror films are one area that Disney has not taken over... yet. 

Oculus was released in 2014, and many were eager to see it in the theater.  I don't normally watch horror movies in the theater, because there is too much room for failure in horror, and because the last thing I need is giggly 14 year old girls suddenly screaming directly through my skull.

So now that it's released on video, was it any good?

To answer your first question, according to dictionaries, the definition of oculus is:
oc·u·lus - ˈäkyələs 

noun: oculus; plural noun: oculi 

  1. a round or eyelike opening or design, in particular.
  2. a circular window.
  3. the central boss of a volute
And, no I am not looking up volute for you.  And secondly, I have no idea what this has to do with a haunted mirror.  Maybe you can watch the movie and educate me?  

The story is about happy family moving into a new house, until suddenly their parents seem to go batshit insane (in medical terminology).  And, as in most cases of insanity, it's obviously the mirror's fault.  Eleven years later, the kids are all growed up (adult versions played by Brenton Thwaites and yummy ex-Doctor Who companion/Nebula, Karen Gillan) and they want to study and hopefully destroy the mirror. 

Okay kids, blaming the mirror seems a very sudden huuuuuge leap of faith.  I'm not saying the mirror is completely innocent, and there is a great moment where we discover the history of deaths surrounding the mirror.  But, other than the father standing in front of it, there seems to be zero evidence to convict this old mirror.  So, is the mirror really evil, or just misunderstood? 

Other than wrapping my tiny brain around that, it was enjoyable.  In terms of a horror movie, I didn't find it scary, and there are many predictable jumps, but it was still fun to watch.  Director Mike Flanagan really helped make this interesting psychologically as the mirror (allegedly) plays tricks on them.  I can see this as the beginning of an interesting franchise, but unfortunately I think another director might just make it into a silly goof horror film, instead of giving you something to think about.  

Most people don't want to think so hard when watching a horror film, so maybe that's why it wasn't so successful.  But I do think it has a future because it is an interesting concept.  

If nothing else, even without an accent... it's still Karen Gillan....


Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Guardians of the Galaxy Review

The year was 1968.  The first ATM machine was installed in the US, the first Big Mac was sold, and 911 was invented (all totally unrelated... probably). And Marvel Comics, who had only recently brought you The Incredible Hulk, Spider-man, Fantastic Four and X-Men, decided to create a sci-fi story set in the year 3007.  It revolved around a group of unusual heroes from different planets, gathering together to battle the evil race of lizard creatures who had taken over their home worlds.  It was called, Guardians of the Galaxy!

And it has very little to do with the 2014 Marvel movie release of the same name!

I know what you're saying, "WTF, Deeesher?!?"  First, watch your language.  And second, Marvel created a huge universe of characters, and sometimes over the years... things change.  The movie is more closely related to the 2008 Marvel comic, called Guardians of the Galaxy (vol. 2).

If you're into "reading", like some of the kids do today, this book really is a lot of fun, with great unique characters and interesting storylines.  And in the tradition of Marvel comic book movies, (not to be confused with Sony, Fox, OR especially Warner Bros. comic book movies), they nailed it again! 

Imagine being eight years old, and your life on modern day planet earth sucks.  Then suddenly aliens kidnap you, take you to space, and you get to grow up and essentially become Han Solo.  You get to fly around in spaceships, meet strange aliens and visit different planets.  That's the life of Peter Quill, aka Star-Lord.  Cast perfectly by the actor who was born to play him, Chris Pratt.

Not enough fun for you?  I could go on about how awesome and unique the entire cast of characters are, but I would just be rambling (more than I normally do).  Maybe I should talk about what a great sense of humor the movie has, but still knows when to be serious.  Maybe I should say something about how solid the story is, and how well it connects with everything else in the Marvel universe, both movies and comics.  And yes, it does have connections to other Marvel movies as well as hidden easter eggs from the comics and movies that I am eager to freeze frame.  And to be clear, some things are a bit different from the comic, but I have always said, if you are going to change something from the source material, make it a good change... and it is.

I could also talk about what a great job director James Gunn did, creating a beautiful galaxy you want to explore and live in.  I could say things about how the action scenes are well shot and you can see what's happening *gasp*!

If I wanted to say anything bad about this movie, I don't think I could.  BUT... if I want to be nitpicky, as beautifully as it was created, there were no visually over the top moments.  For example, in a movie like Avengers, we have a few great scenes that Joss Whedon created that felt epic.  James Gunn did a fantastic job, and Knowhere, for example, looked amazing!  But... I don't know.  Maybe I should just shut up now.

Many people have compared this movie to the feelings they had seeing the original Star Wars: A New Hope.  I can easily agree with this comparison, especially since I don't see JJ Abrams doing anything with that franchise to impress me!  This is the type of movie that can be made when they have respect for the fans and source material.  So please, promote good things, (since it seems too rare these days), and go see Guardians of the Galaxy!

Then we can have conversations about who is hotter, Gamora (Zoe Saldana) or  Nebula (Karen Gillan)