Doctor Who Face the Raven Review

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Be warned, Big Spoilers follow.

Very quick plot summary. The graffiti artist Rigsy from last year’s Flatline phones up the Tardis to ask for help with this mysterious tattoo he found on his neck which is counting down to zero. The doctor helps him find a secret street in the middle of London where aliens live in disguise. And guess what, Arya from Game of Thrones is in charge of things.

Apparently Rigsy killed some alien woman and the countdown is to his death as a punishment. Along with some contrived memory loss.

It turns out that it’s a trap for the Doctor and Arya was somehow coerced into doing it for someone yet to be revealed. I guess we find out in the next episode and it may or may not be Missy. Yawn.

At one point Clara transfers the tattoo from Rigsy to herself as she’s convinced that Arya won’t let her die.

So basically this is the episode where Clara is toast.

Jenna and Peter were acting their little hearts out over Clara’s impending demise. She made the Doctor promise not to take revenge on the secret alien folk, etc. And then she goes out to die in slow motion. Death by Raven flying into her chest. In slow motion. It took about 23 minutes. Ok, so I exaggerate but it did take ages.

But the point is I didn’t feel any emotion. Because I just was not convinced that she is dead and gone. There are two more episodes left of the season and her departure just felt a bit forced. I’m convinced she will be back in a not-dead capacity.

Now maybe I’m totally wrong. But my point is that while I was watching the episode it’s what I thought. So I felt no emotion. At all.

Otherwise not a bad episode to be sure.

Doctor Who Sleep No More Review

I really don’t have too much to say about this episode.

The story (such as it is) involves the Doctor and Clara arriving on a space station in orbit around Neptune. They encounter some soldiers on a rescue mission who are investigating… something or other.

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The episode was made in that dreadful gimmicky “found footage” format. Which I pretty much despise. And unusually there were no opening credits.

It was initially quite moody. And it looked like it was going to get interesting when Clara somehow “fell” into a sleep pod thing. There was a nifty little hologram of some girls singing that “Mister Sandman” song that I’ve heard in Back to the Future if my memory is correct.

But that’s as interesting as things got.

So. Get this. Users of the sleep pod things will have the “sleepy dust” (that gathers in the eye) eventually turning into a monster.

Yeah. Right. Seriously.

As the episode went on it just became more boring. I was looking at my watch constantly.

Some people love the episode. Some people hate it. I’m very much in the middle as I really don’t feel strongly enough about it to either love it or hate it. I just don’t particularly care about it.

At least I know that last year’s In the Forest of the Night is an episode that I hate.

This one, I just don’t care. It’s a bit of a mess frankly.

Oh well. At least it was not a two-part episode and hopefully next week’s will be more…. Good.

Doctor Who The Zygon Invasion/Inversion (and That Scene)

I’m not going to go into too much detail about this two parter, The Zygon Invasion and The Zygon Inversion. But it is worth discussing if only for one scene in particular.

Spoilers below.

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As far as the plot goes this two parter was ok. Basically it worked as a follow-up to a sub plot from the 50th anniversary special The Day of the Doctor where the Doctor(s) helped broker a peace treaty between Earth and some shape-shifting Zygons.

Now two years on there are 20 million Zygons living peacefully on Earth in human disguise. A faction of Zygons don’t want to live under the conditions dictated by the peace treaty and are trying to start a conflict that will drag in all Zygons with the objective of taking over the earth.

Episode 1 had a bit of shape-shifting paranoia. It wasn’t a bad episode at all but there was a lot of faffing around and I felt strangely detached from it. There was a nice reveal at the end where it transpired that Clara had been replaced by the Zygon rebel commander.

But episode 2 on the other hand…

Initially there’s lots of guff featuring the “Osgoods”. Apparently the Osgood character is a “fan favourite”. Whatever.

And then there was some guff about some mysterious “Osgood Box”.

And then we get to the pivotal scene of the episode which was basically Mr Peter Capaldi showing what he can do.

And it was stunning.

INVERSION OF THE ZYGONS (By Peter Harness and Steven Moffat)

In a long ten minute scene that is largely a monologue Capaldi’s Doctor pleads with the Clara Zygon (whom he calls Zygella) and Kate Stewart of UNIT not to start a war. It’s amazing stuff. He’s on fire.

On a table in UNIT’s Black Archive are the Osgood Boxes, two super weapons that Zygella and Kate Stewart are considering activating. At one point Capaldi indicates the weapons and says “this is a scale model of war.” So for me this is forever the “Scale Model of War Speech”.

And it all ties into The Day of the Doctor where during the a Time War the Doctor almost activated The Moment, a Time Lord super weapon that would have wiped out both Gallifrey and the Daleks.

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My words can’t do justice to Mr Capaldi doing The Acting. It has to be seen.

Simply stunning.

It’s probably the most exciting scene in Doctor Who since the show came back.

Additionally the scene is more powerful because the makers don’t bother playing any music over the top. It’s Capaldi’s performance and the words that make it work. Then they loose their courage and they stick a bit of music in towards the end. But it doesn’t need it.

Mention must also be made of Jenna Coleman who plays the Zygon rebel commander Zygella. The scene also depends on her reactions to Capladi’s performance as he pleads for her to think, “a fancy word for changing your mind.”

Terminator Genisys is Actually Quite Good Shock

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Note: There are some general plot spoilers in the following review.

But then the trailers for the movie effectively spoiled the plot by revealing what happens to John Connor….

More on that later.

I had planned to see Terminator Genisys in the cinema this summer but frankly the word of mouth I heard put me off. From what I gathered it seemed to be an unnecessary addition to the series at best, but many opinions were considerably stronger.

So now that it’s out on blu ray I thought I’d give it a go. I was ready for it to be rubbish although I understood that apparently the first 40 minutes set in 1984 were supposed to be decent.

The movie starts with a future war segment where John Connor and Kyle Reese break into the Skynet facility that has the time travel device. We glimpse the first T-800 going through and then Reese volunteers to go back and save Sarah Connor.

So far so good. In fact I seem to recall a scene like this in the original T2 script. So it’s nice to see it actually on screen after thirty years.

Then the movie begins a fairly faithful recreation of early scenes from the 1984 movie involving the arrival of the T-800 and Kyle Reese in Los Angeles. There are some shot-for-shot recreations here.

But things soon take a different path and a second, older, Arnold Terminator arrives and we see the two Arnies fighting each other. The older Terminator we come to discover is “Pops”, a T-800 that was sent back to protect Sarah Connor in 1973. The name Pops is appropriate because this is the machine that had to bring Sarah Connor up after her parents were killed in 1973 by another machine.

Now that’s quite an interesting twist. Remember back in Terminator 2 how annoyed Sarah Connor was that her son John was using the machine as a father figure. Well now in this new timeline Sarah is doing the same thing.

Incidentally it is never revealed who send Pops back. We may find out if they ever make a new movie.

Emilia Clarke from Game of Thrones plays Sarah. She looks very young in the part but that’s totally appropriate because I believe the 1984 Sarah was only supposed to be 19 years old or something like that.

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A liquid metal T-1000 is also in 1984 and goes after Kyle and the others. Again, Sarah and the machine have had ten years to prepare for the fight and take care of business.

So keep in mind that I was expecting the movie to be a bit rubbish based on that bad word of mouth. Well, during the 1984 sequences I did find myself having some edge of seat moments. There were some quite tense moments, especially when an endoskeleton was going after Kyle at one point.

After about 40 minutes the action shifts forward 33 years to 2017 when Sarah and Kyle jump forward to try to stop a new iteration of Skynet. Sarah actually wants to jump to 1997 to stop Judgment Day but Kyle has to convince her that the real threat is in 2017 based on something strange he experienced when time traveling. Sure enough when they get there it turns out that the 1997 Judgment Day never happened.

Which means that the events in the new 1984 have been enough to stop Judgment Day. I assume because the original Arnold T-800 was destroyed and Cyberdyne didn’t get its hands on it to use as the basis for Skynet.

I have to admit I’m a bit confused about the timeline. When Kyle and the original T-800 jump back to 1984 they arrive in a slightly different timeline because some other time traveling machines arrived in 1973. The only way I think this can work is if the travellers to 1973 left 2029 after Kyle did.

Later we discover that the altered John Connor went back from 2029 to 2014. So he must have jumped back to the newly established non-Judgement Day timeline later still. But I’m not sure that makes sense. Surely one can only jump back to their own timeline and not an altered one. I’ll need to think on this some more.

Some have criticised the convenient time machine that Sarah and Pops built. But I quite liked that. I was a big fan of the Sarah Connor Chronicals tv show and in the first episode of that Sara and John jumped forward from 1999 to 2007 in a time machine that had been built by time travelers from the future.

By the way when Sarah and Kyle travel forward in this movie they end up naked in the middle of night time freeway traffic. This is what happened to Sara and John in the tv show.

Another thing I liked about this time travel story device is that they use it to explain how Pops is being played by a much older Arnold. He has exposed metal so he can’t time travel with them and has to take the “long way round”, i.e. wait 33 years for them to appear in 2017.

There’s some nice nods to Arnie’s age plus an enjoyable little scene with Kyle and Pops loading ammo into guns that turns into a competition.

Now I’ve already alluded to an altered John Connor. This was the movie’s big plot twist that would have been surprising to say the least. If only the trailers had not revealed that John Connor had been altered into a shape shifting Terminator.

This is a very neat plot twist with Skynet realising that they have never managed to defeat John Connor so who better to carry out their plans. But the trailers revealed all. That’s a great pity.

Many have objected to the use of humour in the movie. There seems to be particular annoyance to the numerous uses of the “Arnie smiling” gag. It’s fair to say that the sight of Arnie grinning in character as a Terminator pushes lots of buttons. But I discovered that I really didn’t mind. James Cameron introduced the gag in his original script for Terminator 2 where John tries to teach the machine to smile in order to fit in. That’s good enough for me.

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So in the end I enjoyed the movie very much it for what it was. It was quite tense in places and effectively done.

Viewers just have to accept that this is a franchise action movie with CGI effects instead of the original’s low budget grittiness. I have to admit that the helicopter stuff towards the end looked very video game-y. But the stuff with the bus on the Golden Gate Bridge was well done and had some tense moments.

So in summary watching this movie was a very pleasant surprise. It’s certainly miles better than T3.