TV Review – DOCTOR WHO: WORLD ENOUGH AND TIME / THE DOCTOR FALLS (2017)

Image result for doctor who world enough and time the doctor fallsDoctor Who: World Enough and Time / The Doctor Falls (TV) (2017: UK: Colour: 106m) ∗∗∗∗½  pr. Peter Bennett; d. Rachel Talalay; w. Steven Moffat; ph. Ashley Rowe; m. Murray Gold. Cast: Peter Capaldi, Matt Lucas, Pearl Mackie , Michelle Gomez, John Simm , Oliver Lansley, Paul Brightwell, Alison Lintott, Briana Shann, Rosie Boore, Samantha Spiro, Simon Coombs, Nicholas Briggs, David Bradley.   Friendship drives the Doctor into the rashest decision of his life. Trapped on a giant spaceship, caught in the event horizon of a black hole, he witnesses the death of someone he is pledged to protect. Is there any way he can redeem his mistake? Are events already out of control? For once, time is the Time Lord’s enemy. Moffat’s season finales have generally been a case of excellent set-up and disappointing pay-off. This story comes close to meeting that trend, but ultimately wins out because of the superb performances, a witty script and its no-win situation. Capaldi excels here in fighting his moral dilemna. Gomez and Simm spark well with Capaldi and each other and there is a sense of irony about the resolution of their story.  The first episode set up the premise brilliantly in one of the best ever episodes of the series. The resolution felt a little contrived in places and overly sentimental in the resolution of Bill’s story, but this is otherwise an excellent finale with a superb twist right at the end leaving us looking forward to the Xmas special to come. [12]

Film Review – STARGATE (1994)

Stargate (1994; France/USA; DeLuxe; 121m) ∗∗∗  d. Roland Emmerich; w. Dean Devlin, Roland Emmerich; ph. Karl Walter Lindenlaub; m. David Arnold.  Cast: James Spader, Kurt Russell, Jaye Davidson, Viveca Lindfors, Alexis Cruz, Mili Aveital, Leon Rippy, John Diehl, Carlos Lauchu, Djimon Hounsou, Erick Avari, French Stewart, Gianin Loffler, Christopher John Fields, Derek Webster. An interstellar teleportation device, found in Egypt, leads to a planet with humans resembling ancient Egyptians who worship the god Ra. It makes up in scope and heart what it lacks in originality. This may not challenge the brain, but is a rousing and action-packed sci-fi/fantasy adventure. Spader scores as a linguist forced into the centre of the action and Russell emits cool as the leader of the military reconnaissance team. Special Edition runs 128m and Director’s Cut 130m. Followed by a TV franchise commencing with Stargate SG-1 (1997-2007). [PG]

TV Review – DOCTOR WHO: THE EATERS OF LIGHT (2017)

Doctor Who: The Eaters of Light (TV) (2017: UK: Colour: 42m) ∗∗∗½  pr. Nikki Wilson; d. Charles Palmer; w. Rona Munro; ph. Mark Waters; m. Murray Gold. Cast: Peter Capaldi, Matt Lucas, Pearl Mackie , Michelle Gomez, Rebecca Benson, Daniel Kerr, Brian Vernel, Rohan Nedd, Ben Hunter, Sam Adewunmi, Billy Matthews, Aaron Phagura, Jocelyn Brassington, Lewis McGowan. A long time ago, the ninth legion of the Roman army vanished into the mists of Scotland. Bill has a theory about what happened, and the Doctor has a time machine. But when they arrive in ancient Aberdeenshire, what they find is a far greater threat than any army. In a cairn, on a hillside, is a doorway leading to the end of the world. Another variant on the ‘monster of the week’ theme, working slightly better than EMPRESS OF MARS thanks to a more polished script from Munro (the only writer from the original series to pen a story since the 2005 relaunch – 1989’s SURVIVAL, the last broadcast story of the original run. What lets the episode down is the variable performances given by the young guest cast, contrasting with the confident ones from the regulars, some dodgy CGI and an overly neat ending. Its familiarity actually makes a welcome break from Moffat’s high concept episodes and is a diverting enough tale. [12]

TV Review – DOCTOR WHO – EMPRESS OF MARS (2017)

Image result for empress of marsDoctor Who: Empres of Mars (TV) (2017: UK: Colour: 44m) ∗∗∗  pr. Nikki Wilson; d. Wayne Che Yip; w. Mark Gatiss; ph. Stuart Biddlecombe; m. Murray Gold. Cast: Peter Capaldi, Matt Lucas, Pearl Mackie , Michelle Gomez, Anthony Calf, Ferdinand Kingsley, Richard Ashton, Adele Lynch, Glenn Speers, Ian Beattie, Bayo Gbadamosi, Ian Hughes, Lesley Ewen.  The Doctor, Bill and Nardole arrive on Mars, and find themselves in an impossible conflict between Ice Warriors… and Victorian soldiers. As the Martian hive awakens around them, the Doctor faces a unique dilemma – this time the humans, not the Ice Warriors are the invaders. When Earth is invading Mars, whose side is he on? A return to the “monster of the week” format and a hark back to the stories of the 1960s with a post-modern twist. It’s all entertaining enough without really generating any suspense. The underground setting proves restrictive and the Ice Warriors lack the menace of old, being portrayed as hulking monsters with thudding footsteps. [12]

TV Review – DOCTOR WHO – EXTREMIS/THE PYRAMID AT THE END OF THE WORLD/THE LIE OF THE LAND (2017)

Image result for DOCTOR WHO EXTREMISDoctor Who: (1) Extremis/(2) The Pyramid at the End of the World/(3) The Lie of the Land (TV) (2017; UK; Colour; 140m) ∗∗∗½   pr. Peter Bennett (1 & 2), Nikki Wilson (3); d. Daniel Nettheim (1 & 2), Wayne Che Yip (3); w. Steven Moffat (1 & 2),  Peter Harness (2), Toby Whithouse (3); ph. Ashley Rowe; m. Murray Gold.  Cast: Peter Capaldi, Pearl Mackie, Matt Lucas , Michelle Gomez, Jennifer Hennessy, Corrado Invernizzi, Joseph Long, Jamie Hill, Togo Igawa, Nigel Hastings, Eben Young, Rachel Denning, Tony Gardner, Andrew Byron, Daphne Cheung, Rosie Jane. (1) In the Haereticum – the Vatican’s secret library of blasphemy – there is an ancient book known only as The Veritas. Throughout history, anyone who has ever read it has immediately taken their own life. Now a new translation is online, and the danger is spreading. The Vatican appeals to the Doctor. Will he read The Veritas? But can even the Image result for DOCTOR WHO THE LIE OF THE LANDDoctor survive the ultimate truth? (2) A 5,000 year-old Pyramid stands at the centre of a war zone, where the Chinese, Russian and American armies are about to clash. There are many problems with that, but the one that intrigues the Doctor is this: there wasn’t a pyramid there yesterday. The Doctor, Bill and Nardole face an alien invasion unlike any other, and before conquest can begin, these aliens need the consent of the human race… (3) The world is gripped by a mass delusion and only Bill Potts can see the truth. When even the Doctor is fighting on the wrong side, it’s up to Bill to convince the Time Lord that humanity is in deadly danger. And if she can’t do that, she may just have to kill her best friend. Frustratingly close to being a superb example of the series at its best, but let down by a weak resolution. The second segment is the strongest with the tension building to a superb cliffhanger only to be undone by a confused and rushed finale. [12]

Film Review – TARZAN ESCAPES (1936)

Image result for tarzan escapesTarzan Escapes (1936; USA; B&W; 89m) ∗∗∗  d. Richard Thorpe; w. Cyril Hume; ph. Leonard Smith; m. William Axt.  Cast: Johnny Weissmuller, Maureen O’Sullivan, John Buckler, Benita Hume, William Henry, Herbert Mundin, E.E. Clive, Darby Jones. An expedition seeking to bring Jane back to civilization, and Tarzan into captivity, gets more than it’s bargained for. Re-treads themes explored in the previous two movies with an increased emphasis on comic relief – provided by Rawlins and Cheetah – at the expense of jungle action. Production values are strong – notably in the effective swamp cave segment – and the Weissmuller/O’Sullivan chemistry gives the story its emotional heart. Original director, James C. McKay, who filmed many gruesome scenes was replaced by John Farrow and then Thorpe who practically re-shot the entire film. Re-uses footage shot for TRADER HORN (1931) as well as the first two Weissmuller Tarzan movies. Followed by TARZAN FINDS A SON! (1939). [U]

Film Review – TARZAN AND HIS MATE (1934)

Image result for tarzan and his mate 1934Tarzan and His Mate (1934; USA; B&W; 104m) ∗∗∗∗  d. Cedric Gibbons; w. James Kevin McGuinness, Leon Gordon, Howard Emmett Rogers; ph. Charles G. Clarke, Clyde De Vinna; m. Herbert Stothart.  Cast: Johnny Weissmuller, Maureen O’Sullivan, Neil Hamilton, Paul Cavanagh, Forrester Harvey, Nathan Curry, Doris Lloyd, Everett Brown, Yola d’Avril, Paul Porcasi, Desmond Roberts, William Stack. The idyllic life of Tarzan and Jane is challenged by men on safari who come seeking ivory, and come seeking Jane as well. Follow-up to TARZAN THE APE MAN is another exciting jungle adventure. The action is fast-paced and often gruesome. Weissmuller and O’Sullivan continue to spark well together, whilst the plot was to become over-familiar as the series progressed. The finale with the safari surrounded by hungry lions is extremely tense. Gibbons was replaced as director by Jack Conway. O’Sullivan does not appear as Jane during the film’s famous nude swimming sequence in the restored 116m version, instead is doubled by Olympic swimmer Josephine McKim. Added to National Film Registry in 2003. Followed by TARZAN ESCAPES (1936). [PG]

Film Review – TARZAN THE APE MAN (1932)

Image result for TARZAN THE APE MAN 1932Tarzan the Ape Man (1932; USA; B&W; 100m) ∗∗∗∗  d. W.S. Van Dyke; w. Cyril Hume, Ivor Novello; ph. Clyde De Vinna, Harold Rosson; m. William Axt (musical director).  Cast: Johnny Weissmuller, Neil Hamilton, Maureen O’Sullivan, C. Aubrey Smith, Doris Lloyd, Forrester Harvey, Ivory Williams. A trader and his daughter set off in search of the fabled graveyard of the elephants in deepest Africa, only to encounter a wild man raised by apes. The first talkie Tarzan movie set the bar for what followed. This is an energetic and exciting production. Weissmuller makes an athletic and savage Tarzan superbly conveying a life spent growing up amongst the apes. O’Sullivan is his Jane and their chemistry makes their scenes together playful. Be aware this splendid production is an adult entertainment due to the levels of violence on screen. Based upon the characters created by Edgar Rice Burroughs. Considerable stock footage used from TRADER HORN (1931). Followed by TARZAN AND HIS MATE (1934). [PG]

TV Review – DOCTOR WHO: OXYGEN (2017)

Image result for doctor who oxygenDoctor Who: Oxygen (TV) (2017; UK; Colour; 45m) ∗∗∗∗  pr. Nikki Wilson; d. Charles Palmer; w. Jamie Mathieson; ph. Mark Waters; m. Murray Gold.  Cast: Peter Capaldi, Pearl Mackie, Matt Lucas, Kieran Bew, Justin Salinger, Peter Caulfield, Mimi Ndiweni, Katie Brayben. The Doctor, Bill and Nardole answer a distress call in deep space, and find themselves trapped on board space station Chasm Forge. All but four of the crew have been murdered – and the dead are still walking! Tense episode benefits from a strong script and Capaldi at his best. The plot is a thinly diguised allegory for corporate greed with its cast of zombified workers having been exploited by the “suits”. The visual effects are very impressive and there is a cliffhanger ending that adds a twist. [12]

TV Review – DOCTOR WHO: KNOCK KNOCK (2017)

Image result for doctor who knock knockDoctor Who: Knock Knock (TV) (2017; UK; Colour; 45m) ∗∗∗∗  pr. Nikki Wilson; d. Bill Anderson; w. Mike Bartlett; ph. Damian Bromley; m. Murray Gold.  Cast: Peter Capaldi, Pearl Mackie, Matt Lucas, David Suchet, Mariah Gale, Mandeep Dhillon, Colin Ryan, Ben Presley, Alice Hewkin, Bart Suavek, Sam Benjamin.  Bill is moving in with some friends and they’ve found the perfect house – so what if it’s strangely cheap to rent, and the landlord is a little creepy? The wind blows, the floorboards creak, and the Doctor thinks something is very wrong. What lurks in the strange tower at the heart of the building – and why can’t they find any way to enter it? This effective variation on the haunted house plot is a perfectly paced and creepy episode with Suchet excellent as the mysterious Landlord. Capaldi and Mackie are making a great team with their interplay and banter. Great visual effects and make-up. [12]