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Sunday, June 29, 2008

The two-part series finale of Doctor Who is always a guaranteed televisual treat, but this year they certainly seem to have outdone themselves. Some people have felt the current run took a while to pick up, but the last five or so shows have been steadily increasing in quality, culminating with episode 11, Turn Left, one of the smartest, best episodes ever (despite hardly featuring The Doctor himself). Last night's* episode 12 though was on a whole another level, ranking as about the best 45 minutes of TV I've seen so far this year. Brilliantly for fans it featured pretty much every contemporary character from the show's recent history (including characters from adult spin-off Torchwood) and showed a scale and ambition unheard of in British TV. Somewhere along the line the effects in Doctor Who have got good, and the effects shown last night rivalled a Hollywood blockbuster (and I never thought I'd say that). I'm still in shock however from the cliffhanger ending (which I won't spoil for anyone who wants to watch it but hasn't yet) which is either the best kept secret in sci-fi or possibly a spectacular cheat. I actually hope it's the latter, but i can't say why without going into spoiler territory. I can't wait for the resolution, but sadly I won't be around to watch it live next Saturday, so I'm going to have to wait even longer, dammit!

*this was the transmission date for UK only. It should be on the Sci-Fi Channel in the USA within the next few weeks I believe.

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Friday, June 27, 2008

George Romero, the director of the classic Dead trilogy (and the not classic but fun Land Of the Dead) has returned with a new zombie film that is arriving on Region 2 DVD (and shiny Blu-ray) this week. As a zombie fan, I had to check it out. Not a sequel to the earlier films (despite the name), this one goes back to the beginning of the Zombie Apocalypse (the sequels to Night Of The Living Dead all take place some time after the event) but shows in through the eyes (well cameras) of some film students- yep it's a zombie flick Cloverfield style (although they were almost certainly in development at the same time, so it's no rip-off). Much as it pains me to say so, unfortunately George Romero's Diary Of the Dead is a dud. Yes dear reader, it fails in almost every respect- the acting is awful, the 'scares' aren't scary, and while it's interesting seeing the Don Of The Dead trying to keep things fresh, the overall effect is like watching your Dad dance at a wedding*. It would be a great shame if this proved to be his last Dead film. Here's hoping he'll make at least one more that will be able to stand up next to the classics. But based on the evidence here, I'm not holding my breath.

*not my dad, your dad

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Saturday, June 14, 2008

It's not fashionable to like M. Night Shyamalan. Pretty much from Unbreakable on, it's been the done thing for crtics and audiences alike to call him a one-trick pony, complain about his love of twist-endings and mock him for his apparent arrogance. But while he does seem to be rather full of himself (and he needs to stop writing himself roles into his films) I have to say that I've always rated his films. The Sixth Sense is a classic, Unbreakable is underrated, and despite being flawed I was still impressed by Signs and The Village. I am even one of only about seven people on earth who actually rate Lady In The Water. So I'm pretty eager to see his new flick The Happening which is now in cinemas. It'll probably flop, as most people seem to have made up their mind before seeing it (or even knowing anything about it) but I saw the 'Red Band' (uncut) Trailer today and to be honest it creeped me out. When a trailer makes the hairs on the back of your neck stand up ( and only a trailer!) then it promises a pretty spooky film. It's just a shame most people probably won't even give it a second look.

EDIT// Upon watching the film, I TAKE IT ALL BACK! This film is a masterpiece.... OF SUCK! Avoid it like the plague!


Thursday, June 12, 2008

Strangely there's a campaign online to save Joss Whedon's new TV series Dollhouse. Nothing unusual there you might think, except that the show hasn't even aired yet. So the idea the show has fans in the first place might seem a little daft- how do they know if they like it? Basically to explain- Joss Whedon's last few shows- Buffy, Angel and the under appreciated Firefly got axed (as have many decent cult shows) by ratings-obsessed US network bosses, so some of Whedon's fans have assumed the worse and that the same thing will happen to his new show- and that it'll be worth saving- so some bright spark came up with the idea of starting the campaign preemptively- before a single episode has even aired. Now that's what you call a dedicated cult following!

Check out the trailer here (and it does look pretty awesome!)

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Tuesday, June 03, 2008

Film buffs and collectors the world over are like asking themselves the same question. Now the pesky High Definition Format War is over, is it time to upgrade to Blu-ray? For most people it's probably worth waiting a little longer. For starters, if you don't have an HD compatible TV there's no point, as you wont be able to watch films in HD anyway. If it's time to get a new TV then it's worth getting one with HD compatibility, but if you don't have one already then buying a new set, as well as a Blu-ray player is going to set you back loads of money. Which brings me to the next point- you won't find many BR players below £250, meaning that the most economical way of getting Blu-ray is currently to get a PS3 (as it's a similar price, and also lets you play the latest games). The discs are mightily expensive too, whereas DVD's have really gone down in price. BR players play DVD's too (and up scaled on HDTV's making them look better than ever), so there's no real need to rebuy your collection (unless you're a real film geek who has to have the best of everything). In time, both hardware and discs will go down in price, so the sensible option is really to wait. But then again, they do look awesome. Watching something like Sweeney Todd in HD is fantastic and you really can see the difference. So should you upgrade yet? Common sense would say probably not. But my inner Film Geek and Gadget Freak would say... "Hell yeah!" It's completely unnecessary, but boy is it pretty!

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