Friday, December 31, 2010

Doctor Who 6.00 A Christmas Carol Review

 Live blogging - Doctor Who 2010 Christmas Special: “A Christmas Carol”
Alright this was something I’ve been really looking forward to for a long time now. I was so surprised by this past series of Doctor Who was really good. I wasn’t expecting much going into it – I still hadn’t gotten over the loss of Rose, and it gets painful that they brought her back in series 3 and 4 and David had left so I wasn’t looking forward to this new series. That being said I was really surprised, I love the new Doctor, and Amy is fantastic and poor Rory – you know I must like him, he’s been killed off like 3 times already. I’ve always liked the Christmas specials and they do seem to get better with each passing one so I go into this with the hope that this will by far be the best one yet.

I’m glad that they included Rory in this, now that he and Amy are married it will make for an interesting dynamic to have the Doctor with two regular companions (watch now that I type this Rory will get killed off for good with 6x01.) I’m not going to lie, it was pretty damn funny to see the ship going down and Amy comes running out in her policeman’s costume and then a few seconds later Rory runs out dressed up in his Roman gear – that’s.. umm.. adventurous to put It politely.
Doctor Who’s take on A Christmas Carol is interesting mostly because it is futuristic and ‘classic’ at the same time. I do like the twist of the ‘Scrooge’ type character keeping people frozen in ice until their families can pay off their debts to him. The Doctor falling down the chimney was funny, this particular incarnation is rather fanboy-ish when it comes to things so I can’t help but think that it would have been more interesting to see him up on the roof instead of explaining what he was doing up there before he fell.
The bit where Amy is on the phone trying to keep the Doctor from being distracted from the flying fish was funny but it would have been better if they didn’t say ‘fish’ practically every other word. It doesn’t help that in the very next scene they keep saying fish no less than 10 times, but at least we get a quick explanation as to why Kazran didn’t hit the child but at the same time you could pretty much see it coming. Although I honestly didn’t expect to see the Doctor travel back to Kazran’s childhood and talk to theolder version of Kazran. I was a little let down by the scenes where the Doctor is in the past with the child version of Kazran, it seemed to move a little too slowly before the giant shark showed up.
I do hate to say it but I think it would have been far more entertaining if Amy, Rory or even River (who hasn’t been in the special – yet oddly enough was in the commercial bumper with Matt and Amy wishing everyone a Happy Holiday.) It’s not that Matt and the boy didn’t play well off of each other it just felt like the scene needed more. Someone to really question what was going on. Okay – really, I need to create a drinking game for every time someone says a variation of the word ‘fish.’

The thing that I’m having the most trouble with here is when the scenes cut to the older Kazran and he’s watching these events on the projection in his room but he’s freaking out. I know that the rules need to be a little lax when it comes to time travel stories, but you would think that if the older version of Kazran is watching his younger self it should be pretty safe to assume that he didn’t die as a child. It’s also a little annoying that halfway into the special they introduce a new character – it wouldn’t be that big of a deal if they hadn’t shown Amy and Rory before. What was the point of even including them if they’re only in one-two scenes and the focus is on the one shot characters?

Hah the Fez is back! I wonder what the countdown is for? Is it the amount of times Abigail’s pod can be opened? Is it a countdown to an army of giant sharks that will come and destroy everything? Is it the amount of times that Abigail has to interact with Kazran before he can fully change? I like the idea of the Doctor going back on Christmas every year to visit Kazran and to let Abigail out of her pod and they all spend one day together, but it is a little bit annoying when you consider the fact that it seems like the Doctor has forgotten that Amy, Rory and everyone else aboard the ship are all falling to their deaths. I know that back in the ‘current’ time only a few seconds have passed but it is a little annoying.

Well of course it stands to reason that as soon as I complain about that up pops Amy as ‘the Ghost of Christmas Present.’ Hmm… so it turns out that the countdown on Abigail’s pod was a countdown of how many days she had left to live – I guess I was sort of right considering that is also the amount of times the pod could be opened. The big revelation that Kazran has become his father isn’t really surprising – it’s pretty obvious that is where they were going with the story. One thing I wasn’t too clear on was if the Doctor got his screwdriver back, did he leave the half with Kazran and Abigail, did he go back and get the two halves and join them together?

The trailer for series six.. oh man… lots of Amy, Rory and River. What’s going to happen now after series five? What will the repercussions of that be, are we really done with the whole Silence thing, or the Pandorica? The Ood are back, will we see any huge event big enough to bring back other characters? And the thing that I’m really interested in… what were all those countdown marks on River and Amy? How did they get there, why are they there, what are they there for, what do they mean? Oh man, the new series cannot come fast enough for me.

Rating: A+ (was there ever any doubt?)

Thursday, December 30, 2010

X-Men: Pryde of the X-Men

So I stumbled upon this and decided to give it a watch. X-Men: Pryde of the X-Men first aired back in the 80s as what was intended to be a pilot for an animated series for X-Men. Like with almost every single X-Men cartoon out there the lineup is kind of odd. You have Charles Xavier, Cyclops, Storm and Wolverine – all of them have been staples of the various X-Men cartoons over the years; the rest of the lineup is what always changes. The team is fleshed out by Nightcrawler, Colossus, Dazzler and we’re introduced to their world via the arrival of Kitty Pryde. The villains are also a little random: Pyro, Blob, Toad, Juggernaut, Magneto, the White Queen and Lockheed the dragon.

Some of the casting choices are odd due to their lack of explanation. Obviously they included Lockheed because he is Kitty’s pet/friend in the comics, but why is he with Magneto up until the very end? Dazzler, who at the time in the comics loved being a mutant as long as she could perform her music and have nothing to do with the X-Men or super heroics in general is suddenly an active member of the X-Men. Scott is around yet there’s no Jean or hints of the original X-Men so who knows if they would have dealt with the whole Phoenix/Dark Phoenix thing. The Brotherhood of ‘Terrorist’ Mutants (I’m not sure why ‘terrorist’ was less harsh of a word for children in the 80s than ‘evil’) seems to be a smash up of the original incarnation of the Brotherhood: Magneto, Toad; and Mystique’s incarnation of the Brotherhood by using Blob and Pyro. Juggernaut was never a member of the Brotherhood, but considering he was a frequent rival for the X-Men I can see why they included him.

There were two things that I had huge problems with and if the show did get turned into a series it would have wrecked the ability to rewatch the show. The first one wouldn’t have been too bad, I could have always used fast forward or the mute button to get through the HORRIBLE theme song. The other thing though – that would have really ruined it for me; for some reason Wolverine - you know the Canadian super spy government lab rat who is the best at what he does… and what he does isn’t very nice has an Australian accent for no reason whatsoever. On the other hand the inclusion of Dazzler was a plus because Alison had always gotten the shaft (she was in like 2 episodes of X-Men the Animated Series, I don’t remember if she was in X-Men Evolution, and it’s a shame Wolverine and the X-Men was cancelled before season two since it was supposed to be the Age of Apocalypse arch and Dazzler was very noticeable during that arch. The White Queen also hasn’t had the best luck with her turn in the cartoons, she had an odd accent in Pryde of the X-Men, was only in a handful of episodes (4 max) of X-Men the Animated Series, was completely omitted from X-Men Evolution, she was a huge part of Wolverine and the X-Men but also she’s got an odd accent, for some reason she’s British.

The art, even for the time was really good which surprised me. Another surprise was the actual voice cast. Almost every single voice sounded familiar to me and when I looked up the cast and I could see why. If you watched TV at all from the 80s up until 2000 you have heard almost every single one of the cast’s voices. This first came out in 1989 when I was seven but for some reason I never saw it up until today and I was actually entertained by it today. I can see if this had been turned into a series and I had known about it when I was a kid I totally would have gotten into it.

Rating: C+

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Stonehenge Apocalypse Movie Review

Live blogging: Stonehenge Apocalypse movie review:

So today I’m going to take a break from comics and this time do a little movie review. Today I’m going to talk about the Syfy movie ‘Stonehenge Apocalypse.’ Now I don’t normally like too many of the Syfy made for TV movies, usually it’s a mixture of bad plot, bad acting, bad special effects – but I’ve wanted to watch this movie for some time now. Part of the reason is the casting, you’ve got Torri Higginson from Stargate: Atlantis, and Misha Collins from Supernatural playing fairly large sized roles. Of course there’s Hill Harper (from CSI: NY) too; I’m not a fan of his character on CSI: NY but I’m willing to give the movie a shot.

The special effects are what you’ve come to expect from Syfy movies, but maybe because it’s Christmas time and I’m used to watching Doctor Who around this time of year the opening sequence with Stonehenge rotating and the giant electrical blots vaporizing people remind me a lot of Doctor Who. Like I said it could be timing, or the fact that I’m all geared up to watch the latest Christmas Special – who knows. I’m not a fan of the musical score for certain scenes, it’s louder than the dialogue and honestly the fact that it’s the same piece that plays for like three minutes straight is kind of annoying.

I don’t know if anyone else who watches this movie will have as difficult of a time with this as I did but I found it really hard to move past Misha’s voice. I’m so used to it being gravely on Supernatural that it sounds weird hearing him speak any way differently. On a similar note I ran into the same problem with Torri and her character’s accent as well. I know it’s really superficial but I’m only like ten minutes into the movie now. Speaking of superficial for some reason Stonehenge to me just seems to always look a bit off, but I actually prefer it looking off over the fact that the camera tends to jump around a lot. I know that was done for budget reasons, I mean this movie is about the end of the world, they need to save up the money to use on those standard oh so cheesy sub-par special effects. I can move past the shaky camera work during the action scenes, but when they’re just standing around talking (like after the volcanic eruption in Mexico) I don’t need to see the camera shake as much as it did. Between that and the music this movie is kind of giving me a headache.

For a Syfy movie this was particularly good. I like that they sort of kept away from showing the natural disasters that were happening around the globe as a result of the events in the movie – it let you leave things up to your imagination instead of relying on overusing special effects. I do think that the movie could have been better if they threw in more humor, the only really funny line in the movie just so happened to be the best line as well: “I never said it was aliens on the moon… it was a robot head.” The acting also was better for Syfy movies and that has to be attributed to Torri and Misha who have had to pull off some strange scenes in their own respective shows. I’d have to say the weakest of the main cast had to have been Hill – I don’t think this was the right genre for him.

Overall the movie is pretty good; it is entertaining and doesn’t seem to drag on longer than it needs to. You know what I’m talking about sometimes you can watch something for ten minutes and feel like four hours have passed and there are things that you can watch ten times in a row and not be sick of it at all – Stonehenge Apocalypse falls somewhere in the middle and for a Syfy made for TV then released to DVD movie that’s pretty damn good.

 Rating: B-

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Chronological X-Men - Marvel Super Heroes Secret Wars Part 1 Review

Marvel Super Heroes Secret Wars!

The New Mutants #15 – Scaredy Cat!
The New Mutants #16 – Away Game!
The New Mutants #17 – Getaway!

Well this particular story takes place right after the X-Men vanish. Kitty is being held captive by Emma Frost – who has woken up from her coma with no real explanation as to why, and Doug is now at Emma’s Massachusetts Academy and being telepathically controlled by Emma.  Wet get several new characters thanks to Emma’s own team of teenaged mutants The Hellions: Catseye, Empath, Jetstream, Roulette, Tarot and Thunderbird (II) – who is really James Proudstar who has joined Emma’s team to take down the X-Men and Charles Xavier whom he blames for his older brother’s death. Some of the team’s powers act as direct opposition to the New Mutants- Catseye can switch from cat form to human, but she performs her feline form, so she’s their version of Rahne. Jetstream’s abilities are similar to Cannonball’s only Sam is stronger, but Jeatstream has better control over his abilities. Thunderbird is the powerhouse, much like Sunspot is for the New Mutants. Tarot who can create psychic visions based off of her tarot cards is Dani’s counterpart. Empath and Roulette are kind of just extras, and since Emma didn’t know about Amara or Illyana she never recruited counterparts for them. The plot revolves around the New Mutants (which now includes Magik) going after Kitty and Doug to rescue them from Emma Frost once Illyana spies on the Massachusetts Academy while in her astral form and sees what is really going on. There are some interesting things here: Illyana’s ability to use astral projection (so far only a few characters could do this, and with the exception of Magneto they all had telepathic powers,) Dani’s growing ease with using her powers yet they’re taking a toll on her soul – it would be really nice to do some bonding with Illyana and Dani, I always wished the two of them were closer and this would have been the perfect opportunity to do it. I really love Tarot’s powers and I wish she would have had a more visible role over the years. There are a few things though that I wished they cleared up, or explained. Illyana wants to keep her sorceress side hidden from everyone, then maybe she shouldn’t have chosen the codename Magik (the secrets out now though), another odd thing was the fact that Kitty could see Illyana’s astral form, yet Kitty has no psionic powers. How did Emma wake up? Why did she want Doug so badly, when even Charles Xavier didn’t consider him ‘worth’ recruiting? Why did Emma go through all this trouble of taking Doug just to let him go? Why does the team have such a hard time even being in the same room as Magik because they’re afraid of her and what she is and can do, yet the team watched Roberto kill Selene and bury her in her temple? The plot was good, it got us some good new characters and it will provide future material for people to pull from – but there were a lot of unanswered questions that created too many loose ends. One thing I’m really excited for though is to see where they’re going with the whole Demon Bear. It was rather surprising to see him suddenly appear in front of Dani and tell her that he’s coming to claim her soon.

Marvel Super Heroes Secret Wars #1 – War Begins
Marvel Super Heroes Secret Wars #2 – Prisoners of War!
Marvel Super Heroes Secret Wars #3 – Tempest Without, Crisis Within!

Okay let me get one thing out of the way first: this is a huge massive event that was created back in the 80s in order for Kenner Toys to have a publishing event to help promote the sale of their Marvel properties toys. That being said, the cast is HUGE: Captain America, Captain Marvel II (not the original guy, but a new lady taking the name), Hawkeye, Iron Man, She-Hulk, Thro, Wasp, Human Torch, Mr. Fantastic, The Thing, Colossus, Cyclops, Nightcrawler, Professor X, Rogue, Storm, Wolverine, Lockeed, The Hulk, Spider-Man, Magneto, Dr. Doom, Dr. Octopus, Enchantress, Galactus, Kang, Lizard, Molecule Man, Ultron, Absorbing Man, Bulldozer, Piledriver, Thunderball, and Wrecker. That being said we get (so far) three new characters introduced: The Beyonder, Titania and Volcana. All this and I’m only on issue three. It turns out that The Beyonder has been responsible for the recent disappearances on Earth and he has also been the one who was behind the psychic probing of various characters over recent months. There’s a lot going on here which at times makes the series a bit hard to follow, but I don’t know if it would be easier if I was up to date on the books of the non X-characters. I’m going to try to be more objective about this story until I read all of it. I mean the storyline is pretty popular, but at the same time it was created just to sell toys so it’s either going to be awesome or awful.

Marvel Super Heroes Secret Wars #4 – Situation: Hopeless!
Marvel Super Heroes Secret Wars #5 – The Battle of Four Armies!
Marvel Super Heroes Secret Wars #6 – A Little Death…

As the first half of this story closes out we get two apparent deaths – Doom kills Kang for questioning his orders and in the process of trying to bring Lizard back into the villain’s fold it appears that the Wasp was killed trying to save him. We get the introduction of new characters in the form of Spider-Woman II aka Julia Carpenter – but it’s just a cameo, and we meet Zsaji – a healer who fixes Johnny’s broken arm, heals up Spider-Man and saves Colossus. I did find it a little odd that Johnny and Peter have apparently fallen in love with her after she healed them. It’s not odd, but it would make more sense if Spider-Man was also affected by this weird love obsession – especially if it is caused by Zsaji’s healing abilities. Speaking of odd, Piotr’s love for Kitty comes off a little like he’s obsessed with her. It definitely amps up the creepy factor that was always there because of their age differences. We also get the resurrection of Klaw (who had been killed by Dazzler) – honestly I don’t mind this one at all. I know that over the years quite a few of the X-Men have had to kill people but still. I mean out of all the ‘active’ mutants pretty much the only ones who hasn’t killed someone are Sam and Rahne. I do find it a little odd that Charles is so upset that he manipulated Spider-Man’s mind only because over the years he has done that to quite a few people. His guilt over it starts to ring a little hollow when he keeps doing it. So the story has really picked up: why does the Thing keep changing from human to ‘thing,’ is Wasp really dead, is Kang really dead, who is in the shadows watching everyone, is Galactus really about to eat the planet?

The New Mutants #15 – Scaredy Cat!: A
The New Mutants #16 – Away Game!: A
The New Mutants #17 – Getaway!: A
Marvel Super Heroes Secret Wars #1 – War Begins: C
Marvel Super Heroes Secret Wars #2 – Prisoners of War!: B
Marvel Super Heroes Secret Wars #3 – Tempest Without, Crisis Within!: B
Marvel Super Heroes Secret Wars #4 – Situation: Hopeless!: A
Marvel Super Heroes Secret Wars #5 – The Battle of Four Armies!: B
Marvel Super Heroes Secret Wars #6 – A Little Death…: A