Doctor Who

Those of you that know me, and read this -so about one- know that I tend to review films, games on occasion; but only when I feel up to it. So I felt that I would be unorthodox and review a television series… how strange.Anyway, as some of you may know that on Sunday 2nd July 2006 I am attending a convention, and present will be various film and comic related people. Now of course I want to meet as many of the guests as possible, and very hopefully get pictures of them with moo.
Now, with a large number of the guests affiliated with the recent Doctor Who series on television. I felt it most appropriate to watch at least the episodes pertaining to the guests. So, forth-with I obtained the whole of series one and most of series two.
Now I must say I would have otherwise had no intention to watch the programme. Undoubtedly due to Billie Piper’s appearance as a main supporting character, as well as my automatic adherence to the show. Though to quote Ransom it is pretty awesome, and most probably down to the same two words that he had stated; ‘Christopher Eccleston

Unknown to myself; it is an actual fact that Doctor Who is the longest running science fiction drama in existence, though really I could care less about the old series’ full of cheap British set designs, and a very 70s-ish look I would never choose to look back upon the old series’. But if there is one thing television does well, it is improve. Now we’re talking humour, drama, character interaction, even believability through special effects. Though through all these changes I still try and distance myself as far as possible from most British television, simply because, in my opinion, we can do nothing more than comedy well -and even with comedy there are some real ifs. Though something very rare to find the UK produce is good science fiction, which is most probably the reason for my dislike of programmes such as Doctor Who.
Anyway, I very much digress, I should get on with this thing.

Doctor Who is based upon the surviving time lord, known only as ‘the doctor’ -played by Eccleston, who if perhaps was not chosen for the role, would have been the downfall of the show. He is really the complete opposing actor that you would give to the position of the doctor to. After all I only know him as that guy from 28 Days Later, and Shallow Grave. Or the guy that dies at the start of eXistenZ. Both roles not exactly shining as heroes, when I first heard that he would be assuming the role I thought it a bit strange and could never imagine him in such a television programme; as set in my mind Eccleston was a relatively serious actor... boy was I wrong
Now to my surprise the series began with the introduction of Rose; setting her as a rather important character, as well as identifying the doctor and giving a little bit of info along the way. Throughout the whole episode I was telling myself “thats Billie Piper, she can’t act” But I must say that by the end of the first episode I was actually ‘liking’ her character.

Now I think the main part of the show that surprised me was how little of it was actual science fiction. Now this is the reason I do not prefer to watch programmes like Star Trek and Stargate; because I find them boring, they’re all about the science, and space etc. Though I like shows such as Firefly and the X-files because it gets to a point where you are really rooting for the characters, and you begin to like them. Rather than focusing on the science in the episode, you have emotions, history, and dialogue that is funny to anyone joining in.
And as much as I dislike British television, it's always an extra bonus to be able to understand what people are talking about as well as understanding the jokes -as it is set in my country.

I must say though, one problem I did have with this series was in fact the special effects. Now I hear that they were spending out £1 million on each episode, which is quite a bloody lot! And I feel that for this, in terms of special effects there isn't really much to show. Creatures like the Slitheen just looked really silly when running about. I know many people have commended it on having amazing special effects, but if you ask me... on a show like Doctor Who -with most creatures- you should go animatronics all the way, simply because they are so much cooler, and that they are corporeal, I mean sure, some things cannot be handled without special effects, but other things can also be handled with animatronics. (Then again, they’re most probably more expensive... if anyone knows this to be true I would be interested in finding out)

When it got to the final episode I was rather put out that there would no longer be any Eccleston; with David Tennant already taken over the role. Especially as the newer series feels very different; Eccleston brought out a dark, but funny character, not afraid to insult though quite a loner, yet caring, and alongside his portrayal also came pretty much joint screen time with Billie Piper.
Now I prefer guys as much as the next girl, but it was a nice change to watch a show where the two main characters were actually equals; whereas now with the newer series, her role seems to be much smaller and insignificant somewhat of a downfall if you ask me.

Billie Piper... Billie Piper, Billie Piper, Billie Piper... it's hard not to imagine her outside of her ‘singing career’ especially acting. Though I must say I was pleasantly surprised by her performance in the role. Apart from the fact I didn’t think I could stand her... she was completlely bearable, and a hell of a lot better than the majority of female heroines. Billie Piper is pretty much a good representation of Britain –unlike some females they stick in television, and for that I like her exceedingly in the role, she plays it very human.
But with Billie Piper leaving, I feel that the show may not be itself. Of course it wasn’t really the same since Eccleston left. It just goes to show that the overall character development in the show is pretty spectacular, as otherwise I wouldn’t give a damn if a character left or not.

Now Christopher Eccleston came on with his outlandish behaviour, his ‘fantastic’s and most notably of all his strange face: the sort of face that science fiction should have, someone who has character.
Also if there is one thing I love, it's discovering ‘new’ actors, it's always so great to realise that someone has been there under my nose, and I had an inkling to who they were; but really knew nothing about them, and I’m pretty sure I can vouch this with most actors. That I am always very successful (in my opinion) that when I spy a good actor, that it always turns out that they are in fact a pretty darn good actor, and Christopher Eccleston has gone on to join that list.
Either way his portrayal brought with it, a sort of annoyance, but you also couldn't help but be on his side and laugh along the way, and from this I must say there were no actual annoying characters... sure some of the antagonists can be roll-your-eyes-increasingly... but antagonists are there to be stupid and annoying -at least, they always seem to be with myself.

The writing is pretty darn humorous I must say! With most episodes written by Russell T. Davies, who wrote Casanova -which was hilarious- and Queer as Folk, his dialogue is snappy, monologues not too long and all-round amazing writing, almost on par with Joss Whedon in my books!

The music of Doctor Who was also something rather surprising -not sure who the exact composer is- showing that it could be emotional, actiony and intense and all work really well with everything else going on. Whereas most British television just sticks the latest pop songs in the background.

Not since firefly has a science fiction show seemed so fun. Sure Doctor Who had it's moments when I think, ‘this is lame’ (Parts of ‘Bad Wolf’ in particular), or ‘this has to be meant for children’ (World War Three and toilet humour...), rolling my eyes etc.
But Doctor Who has proved to be a most exhilarating ride. Though from what I have already seen, I don't feel that the 10th doctor lives up to Eccleston’s weird eccentricity in the slightest. But then of course, it's all down to the writers. Which seem rather eccentric themselves.

I’m not too sure if its possible for myself to grade something like this… so at the very least, I’ll give it a Cptalbertwesker thumbs up : )


The Proposition

If you have not yet seen the film, there may be some spoilers in here for you! :O
Add line relating to the film, of what will happen if they have not seen the film

I would have seen the Proposition when it was showing at my local Odeon, though they were only showing it late at night for a week, so I missed my chance until our small cinema picked it up

Directed by John Hillcoat –Whom I have never heard of before; probably because he is Australian- Starring Guy Pearce (Charlie Burns), Ray Winstone (Captain Stanley), Emily Watson (Martha Stanley), Tom Budge (Samuel Stote), David Wenham (Eden Fletcher), John Hurt (Jellon Lamb), Richard Wilson (Mike Burns), Danny Huston (Arthur Burns)

The film pretty much followed both Captain Stanley (Winstone), and Charlie Burns (Pearce); of the burns gang as a resolution is sort after Captain Stanley offers Charlie a proposition that will save himself and his younger brother, Mike’s life; though giving him the remaining –and much more violent- members of the Burns gang.

One comment to Guy Pearce was just how famished he looked, after seeing him in Adventures of Priscilla which was made over ten years ago, he most definitely looks like a different person, still his performance as Charlie Burns was none-the-less decent  as was Ray Winstone. Danny Huston also shone out along with Emily Watson and John Hurt. Pretty much a good ensemble cast.

The soundtrack was great, something every western deserves is a fitting soundtrack; and Nick Cave got it just right, with the great backdrop of 1800s Australia alongside breathtakingly extraordinary landscapes gives the film a lasting appeal.

One big reason for me liking a film like the Proposition, is it’s setting; now I am not much of a Western fan, but that is really due to the thousands of John Wayne films; which, sorry but I find sort of boring. There are some Westerns: Destry Rides Again, Once Upon A Time in the West, Paleface (if it counts) and also (if it counts) Serenity, and currently I am only just getting into the Western genre, but moreover Spaghetti westerns are usually the most enjoyable, because the violence and action that follows them makes good cinema, and the Proposition’s gritty setting is just the sort of film that appeals to myself.
As I have already slightly mentioned, one other great point of the film, were the deserted landscapes that encompassed the film, never before have I seen such beautiful desolate horizons and authentic stifling heat in a film.

I must admit that it was a little slow in some parts, though this was usually accompanying breathtaking views, which you really cannot complain about, one problem I did have; which may or may not have been down to our cinema, but similarly with Breakfast on Pluto, it was a little hard at times to understand what people were saying… or perhaps I am not good at deciphering the Irish accent.

Well… hmm it was a good film, ranking pretty high, some gorgeous landscapes and interesting characters, I suppose I would recommend it to fans of Westerns, for this film is something of a new route of westerns, I not being much of a hardcore fan thoroughly enjoyed it, and would recommend to all.

Cptalbertwesker Rating – Orthodox 7/10
A nicely slow-paced western, strangely also receiving bad press, similar to that of A History of Violence and the countless other films I seem to be reviewing.


The Da Vinci Code

If you have not yet seen the film, there may be some spoilers in here for you! :O
But then I’m pretty sure millions of you have read the book, and therefore have some idea of what the film is about.

Choosing to see the Da Vinci Code was no way intentional, but when Catherine won free tickets to go see it at our local cinema, I was not one to give up the chance.

Directed by Ron Howard –Of Splash, Willow, Cinderella Man and hosts of other films- Starring Tom Hanks (Robert Langdon), Audrey Tautou (Sophie Neveu), Ian McKellen (Sir Leigh Teabing), Jean Reno (Captain Fache), Paul Bettany (Silas), Alfred Molina (Bishop Aringarosa), Jurgen Prochnow (Andre Vernet) and Jean-Yves Berteloot (Remy Jean).

Well unlike the 60 million people that have bought copies of the book, I am not one of them, and so I write an unbiased view; the film mainly telling the story of Robert Langdon (Hanks) who is caught up in a conspiracy of the whereabouts of the Holy Grail; along the lines being offensive to Christian’s claiming that Jesus was married to Mary Magdalene and that they had a child together; this mystery/thriller takes the protagonists across Europe in a final resolution in pretty much the death of the main antagonists, while Robert and Sophie live happily ever after finding out the ‘truth’ that they were searching for.

Aside from the fact it seemed like a rather long film, it has to be said that it is a film for those with patience; no stereotyping here, but after it ended the amount of men complaining how boring it was, was unprecedented. While all of the women thought it was rather good, no problems with its length.

The obvious saving grace for the film was most definitely Ian McKellen’s performance, as the witty old Englishman, otherwise no other performances were shining out, which was surprising seeing as it had quite a few decent actors thrown in there.

The story seemed pretty much like a standard thriller, not exceptionally brilliant, but neither did it come off as awful. There is a lot of press on the film damning it as the worst film this year, but how can you say that with the Date Movie’s and Big Momma’s Houses out there?!

One thing I can say that I felt looked a tad cheesy were the effects showing ‘old’ London etc, and although I know a couple of critics loved these effects, I thought that they looked pretty much ridiculous, especially when Robert and Sophie was walking through them. The same can be said when Robert was working puzzles out, I just thought that it all looked too silly. Otherwise it seems pretty hard to remember what was bad or good of the film, and unfortunately I can only give it a low score and not explain myself, obviously the film did not shine out to myself as exceptional, or perhaps I would remember certain points.

Overall it was a decent thriller, similar to silent hill, it would seem that only the critics have given the film a bad time, whereas normal folk seemed to have liked it.

Cptalbertwesker Rating – Orthodox 6 ½ /10
Undoubtedly the best part of the film was watching the religious discussion had at the end; which was highly entertaining.


Silent Hill

If you have not yet seen the film, there may be some spoilers in here for you! :O
With such a film as Silent Hill I will most likely rip it apart and constantly compare it to the series, so if that is not want you wish to hear, then I am not forcing you to read, but perhaps you will be interested to see how I felt the film was.

Well obviously, like most other films I see there was a reason, and the reason for watching Silent Hill was simply because I am an extremely big fan of the video game series; that put forth intriguing plots and twisted ideas into a media that does not always get such great ideas.

Directed by Christopher Gans -of The Brotherhood of the Wolf, which I have yet to see; though it can be said that I have actually heard of him- Starring Radha Mitchell (Rose), Sean Bean (Christopher), Laurie Holden (Cybil), Deborah Kara Unger (Dahlia), Kim Coates (Officer Gucci), Tanya Allen (Anna; who reminded me quite a bit of Christina Hendricks), Alice Krige (Christabella) and Jodelle Ferlan (Sharon/Alessa; whom I found extremely annoying).

The film is basically a re-telling of the story that the prolific Silent Hill set out to tell - except with a load of changes along the way, leading to pretty much overall confusion, but leaving you with the satisfying feeling that you have witnessed the telling of a story of Silent Hill.

Someone that knows little of the franchise could probably see the film as pretty much a moderately successful horror film, the film's premise and middle are altogether a great cinema outing, though I believe past the story of Alessa the film falls on its knees..

As I have already mentioned; I could not stand that of Jodelle Ferlan (Sharon/Alessa) now, if you know me -I badger on about it time and time again- if there is one thing I cannot stand it is child actors; now there are exceptions, I did not mind Dakota Fanning in War of the Worlds, and you cannot possibly hate Drew Barrymore in E.T, or Natalie Portman in Leon. but Silent Hill is a horror film; and if there’s one thing horror films succeed it, it's creating -'stupid, I'm really evil'- children that I cannot help but roll my eyes at (be careful more ranting is in store). Now that all of that nonsense is out of the way, Radha Mitchell, Sean Bean and Laurie Holden were bearable, I could not stand Dahlia, but then I could never stand her in the game either; she always had a big case of overacting, and suffice to say I do not think there was much acting present that I could call outstanding.
Except of course -enter fan girlish pathethicness- that of Pyramid Head. Now I am extremely unsure if they were using a real actor, or if he was CG, but he was awesome; amazingly capturing the raw strength and atmosphere that he sufficiently deems in Silent Hill 2 (the videogame).

As for the screenplay, I'd have to say the film faired pretty well; other than the whole cult thing (which was really silly if you ask me) the film had a pleasant vibe of Silent Hill.
When it came to the soundtrack it was the one part of the film which could never fail; but then again, I was expecting full on Yamaoka, after all one of the most memorable parts of any Silent Hill game is its music. Though I must say I was a little put-down by what the film had to offer, only being given a few tracks thrown in every now and again; lyrical songs on the radios, and composed ones popping up at the most inappropriate of times, making it feel at times uncomfortable because it just didn't feel right. I suppose they should be given props for actually including some of the Silent Hill series' best tracks.

The film probably fairs well in this review because it’s based on the fictional town of Silent Hill; and anything and everything that they throw at me is held in high regard. The story seemed very different to that of the game, which was refreshing; though I would have much rather preferred a straight out original tale of Silent Hill. The acting was ok, the music was good, and the ending was... well... confusing. The film had some lovely set designs, and some nice CG going for it; the other side of Silent Hill looked magnificent and the endless supply of fans, mesh fences and rust was a warming sight; the strange cult members in their gasmasks were also a rather nice overall touch. There really isn't so much bad as there is good, which surprised me for a series that I feel so strongly about.

Ok, ok, now stop me if you've heard this before. But if there is one thing I cannot stand its child actors! I do not care if they are good actors or not, it is just that their portrayal or all-round characters always end up getting on my nerves... I think two films that summarise my hatred are Identity and Pet Cemetery wherein a child takes down an adult three times their size; it’s just ridiculous and stupid. (If you ask me)
Now I realise that Silent Hill needed Cheryl (or rather Sharon in this case) but I just couldn’t stand the girl -that whole stupid “I’m on fire” thing just seriously irritated me. Secondly on the same note, audience’s are going to be leaving Silent Hill thinking they have just seen some sort of Japanese orientated film, now of course on a few levels it is, but they made Sharon to look like a “ghost-girl” as my media class would say, which irritated me just as much as the fact that she was a small girl.
The only other problem I have with the film is the third act; completely unnecessary, I did not need to know about the cult or anything else, the film could have ended just fine at the telling of Alessa's tales of woe and I would have been satisfied, but instead they needed more of the ridiculous cult; with no mention of Samael, and all their stupid witch burning, but I shall not dwell, because ultimately Silent Hill is my least favourite of the series.

Although the critics have really attacked Silent Hill; strangely I have not heard any untoward comments of it. Specifically of people I know, loved the film... so it completely baffles me as to who will like the film. Though if you are a die-hard fans of the series, it can most definitely be enjoyed as more of a Silent Hill story, than a remake of the original, though I suppose if they had set it on Silent Hill 2 and butchered it, I would be up-in-arms, but then who is that really going to benefit?

Cptalbertwesker Rating - Orthodox 7/10
Although the film went off on a tangent after about an hour and a half it faired pretty well, and as a stand-alone film it was pretty good. I would be very pleased to hear any opinions non-players had of the film, or if you were simply able to get along with the film, regardless of the fact you were watching it with no prior knowledge to the series.
Nice little anecdote here; apparently the directions that Rose has to memorise are none other than, that’s right, the Konami Code!!!