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“Shin Godzilla” Proves No One Does the King of the Monsters Like the Japanese

Due to the success of the 2014 Godzilla movie from Legendary Pictures, Toho decided to reboot their beloved monster franchise. Originally the movies were supposed to end with Godzilla: Final Wars in 2004, but the King of the Monsters proved to be so popular in the latest American film that the Japanese couldn’t resist dusting off the original and putting him back in action.

Except it’s not quite the original. This was a complete reboot, meaning that all of the previous movies from 1954 onwards didn’t happen. It felt a bit weird at first, especially when everyone was gasping in awe at “How can he do that!?” and “Why is he destroying Tokyo!?” Guys, if you had kept the original movies, you’d already know the answers to those questions. And interestingly enough, it was not an actor in a suit this time–apparently they tried the suit, but it didn’t work, so they used motion capture instead. I must say they did a darn good job; it looked like a suit.

The good news is that it kept a lot of the spirit of the original movies–ordinary weapons being useless, important lessons about the dangers of nuclear weapons, Godzilla’s radioactive breath razing Japan to the ground…they even kept the original Godzilla theme! There were some cool new things about Godzilla as well, especially his evolutionary stages (I call Stage 2 Godzilla the Awkward Teenage Years).

Yep, even Godzilla had to put up with puberty.

Speaking of appearances, the Shin Godzilla design was pretty controversial when it was first revealed, but on the whole I liked it. It was definitely more menacing than we’ve seen before. I just didn’t particularly like the arms or the tail; they looked way too disproportionate to the rest of the body. Then again, Godzilla hadn’t reached his final form yet, so perhaps when he was fully grown, everything would have looked fine.

In terms of effects, I think this is the most visually stunning Godzilla movie we’ve ever seen. This was especially evident with the radioactive breath.

Burn, baby, burn…

It wasn’t perfect; the parts without Godzilla seem a bit dull, but I think that’s been true of all the Godzilla movies–we’re here for the monster fights, not the human subplots. But I must say that they did come up with a clever, not-too-pseudo-sciencey way of defeating Godzilla, proving that they actually thought about the story.

What’s my final decision? The Japanese are the only ones who know how to do a decent Godzilla movie; the Americans should never have tried, and I hope we start to see more of Godzilla’s frenemies make a comeback as well.

Long live the King!

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Thirteenth Doctor Announced

The wait is finally over…

I can’t say I’m sold on the choice of actor, but I’m going to watch a couple of episodes before passing judgement.

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Some Thoughts on “Doctor Who: Kinda” and “Snakedance”

Recently I had the opportunity to view a pair of Fifth Doctor episodes, “Kinda” from 1982 and its sequel “Snakedance” from 1983. Since the two stories are so closely connected, I thought it made sense to review them together.

Both stories feature Peter Davison as the Doctor, Sarah Sutton as Nyssa, and Janet Fielding as Tegan Jovanka; Matthew Waterhouse appears as Adric in “Kinda” but is not present in “Snakedance” (being trapped on an exploding spaceship will do that to you). In “Kinda”, the TARDIS lands on the peaceful planet of Deva Loka, but, of course, the TARDIS crew manages to stumble into trouble. While Nyssa is confined to the TARDIS as the result of mental distortion the planet effects of those of her species, the Doctor and Adric become the captives of a mad commander. As for Tegan–well, she becomes possessed by an alien force known as the Mara, who hopes to use her as a gateway to regaining corporeal form and destroy Deva Loka. In “Snakedance” we learn that although the Mara was banished to another dimension at the end of “Kinda”, it retained its hold on Tegan; through her it pilots the TARDIS to its old home world of Manussa and once more works to regain a flesh appearance.

“Kinda” really made an impression on me for several reasons–Hindle was a truly insane villain; Todd was a fun character that I would have liked to see join the TARDIS (she was smart, savvy, and willing to listen to the Doctor’s theories but also not afraid to put him in his place), and the Kinda were a truly unique, intriguing civilization. Also, Janet Fielding gave an outstanding performance not only when Tegan was trapped inside her own mind but also when the Mara gained control of her body. But as outstanding as she was in “Kinda”, she was absolutely on fire in “Snakedance”. Seriously, I was a little bit sad when Tegan was finally freed of the Mara’s influence; she made such a good villain. That snake skull was a good yet creepy addition, too.

By returning to the Mara’s home world in “Snakedance”, we got the chance to learn more of the backstory than was featured in “Kinda”, and we also got to see the effects it had on the culture despite having been banished from Manussa about 500 years ago (at which point it fled to Deva Loka). Interestingly enough, it was prophesied that the Mara would return, but most people passed it off as a myth. It’s entirely possible that the people might have assumed the Mara was a myth as well if its banishment hadn’t been a well-documented historical event.

On the whole, I think these were two of the Fifth Doctor’s best stories (I think “Kinda” might even outrank “The Caves of Androzani” as my favorite Fifth Doctor episode now), and I definitely recommend you watch them. You won’t be disappointed.

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Some Thoughts on “Doctor Who: The Doctor Falls” *Contains Spoilers*

Why, oh, why does Moffat hold out on us? He can write good stories when he wants to! And this was undoubtedly one of his best, from Missy and the Master’s interactions with each other to Nardole’s character development to Heather’s return to Capaldi blowing everyone out of the water and proving beyond a shadow of a doubt that he is the best of the modern Doctors.

Seriously, Twelve’s monologue about how he refuses to change yet again is one of the highlights of season 10 (and of his entire tenure as the Doctor). And I loved all of the callbacks to previous companions and regeneration scenes (including “I don’t want to go” and “I will always remember when the Doctor was me”). And that special appearance by One at the end–oh, man, I have never looked forward to a Christmas special so much as I am this year. My excitement is almost enough to drown out my sorrow at the upcoming regeneration.

I’m a bit sad that Bill and Nardole won’t be back with the new Doctor. I quite liked how Nardole’s character has evolved since we first met him in “The Husbands of River Song”, and as for Bill, I think this was her strongest performance in the show. I really wish she had stayed at least one more season. I didn’t start to like Clara until she was with Twelve, so I wondered if I might start to like Bill a little better if she was paired with a different Doctor. Either way, Pearl Mackie’s performance as CyberBill was outstanding and one not soon to be forgotten.

The Master and Missy together was every bit as electrifying as expected, proving that a multi-Master story has been long overdue. Part of me was hoping for a spinoff with the two of them causing havoc through time and space…up until Missy triggered her own regeneration, and the Master shot Missy with the laser screwdriver to prevent her going to help the Doctor. Are we ever going to see the Master again? He implied that Missy wouldn’t be able to regenerate because he shot her with the full strength…but that doesn’t mean Missy didn’t try after the Master left. I do hope we see the Master again. I guess the big question is will Missy continue being a woman, or will she return to being a man?

Well, folks, thus ends season 10. It has been my honor and my privilege to serve as your reviewer for these last twelve weeks. We’ll all just have to hang in there until the Christmas special (unless I find some Classic Who to review in the meantime).

Anyway, allons-y!

 

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I Was Going to Write a Review of “Logan”…

…except I couldn’t think of the words I wanted. It’s…it’s almost beyond words, in a way. It was tragic and satisfying and totally deserves to be Best Picture of the Year, except the awards committees are too snobby to even consider it.

Well, if this was the last time we’re ever going to see Hugh Jackman as Wolverine, he went out with a bang. Hollywood is full of idiots–well, more idiots than usual–if they think they can ever recast this role. Let Logan rest in peace. He’s earned it. And if they feel they must make more Wolverine movies, at least wait for Daphne Keen to get a little older so Laura can carry on her father’s legacy.

Rest in peace, Wolverine. And thanks for giving us seventeen years of stabbing things.

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Some Thoughts on “Doctor Who: World Enough and Time” *Contains Spoilers*

This is it, folks–the finale is upon us! Though it is a bittersweet reminder that we are just that much closer to saying goodbye to Capaldi, finales are still exciting, heart-pounding forays that hurl us into the conclusion of season-long story arcs. And this was an episode that, even though I knew certain things were coming–still left me in happy shock.

Most people already knew the plot–the Doctor decides to test Missy’s decision to be good and sends Bill and Nardole with her to answer a ship’s distress signal, and during the course of answering the signal, they encounter the Mondasian Cybermen and the old Master. But the way in which this was all executed was brilliant.

The idea of Bill and the Doctor being on the same ship but in different time zones definitely added a new dimension of desperation. What’s been a few minutes for the Doctor has been years for Bill, which makes her final declaration of “I waited for you” all the more heartbreaking. (Confession: since the Cybermen in “The Tenth Planet” had names, I had to do a brief check to see if that episode had any Cybermen named Bill. It didn’t.) And Bill being turned into a Cyberman–well, let’s just say I found that as shocking as when Missy killed Osgood in “Death in Heaven”. What really drives this home, though, is that there very likely won’t be a reset button–no two Osgoods like in “The Zygon Invasion”, no extractions from timelines like in “Hell Bent”. There’s a very strong likelihood there is no going back from this development–this will be permanent.

That Master reveal, although I knew it was coming, still managed to surprise me. I figured the Master was probably being held prisoner somewhere in the ship, but, nope, he was right in the middle of the action, helping to create the Cybermen! And remember, too, that these Cybermen are the ones responsible for the First Doctor’s regeneration, so this is getting to be quite the wibbily-wobbily storyline. Missy’s reaction was fascinating to watch, too, because she has clearly forgotten these events…but she clearly enjoys being back with her old self.

And this is going to be completely random, but hooray for the Venusian Akido making a comeback!

Next week, we hurl onwards to what’s sure to be an exhilerating conclusion in “The Doctor Falls”! More Master/Missy goodness! More hints about Bill’s ultimate fate! And maybe–just maybe–a resolution to those tantilizing regeneration teasers!

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Some Thoughts on “Doctor Who: The Eaters of Light” *Contains Spoilers*

Before I get into the latest episode, I have to freak out about the trailer for next week’s episode before I explode.

AAAAHHHH, MONDASIAN CYBERMEN!!!!!! AAAAAAAAHHHHH, JOHN SIMM!!!!!!! WE’RE GONNA HAVE TWO MASTERS SHARING THE SCREEN, AAAAAAHHHHHHHHH!!!!!!!!!

There, that’s better.

Okay, so we’ve got Picts and Romans facing off in “The Eaters of Light” as well as a wasted opportunity to see the Twelfth Doctor in Pictish war paint (Nardole indulges himself, though). Bill accomplishes her mission of finding the missing Ninth Roman Legion, but she, the Doctor, and Nardole also encountered the titular Eaters of Light. The Picts had warriors whose lifelong mission was to defend a transdimensional portal that allowed the Eaters to enter our world, but Kar, the latest Gatekeeper, decided to let an Eater through the portal with the hope that it would destroy the Roman army threatening their land (and figuring the army itself could kill the Eater). But although the Eater destroyed the army, the army was not strong enough to destroy the Eater, and now Romans and Picts alike–heck, the entire world!–are in danger.

This episode was written by Rona Munro, who wrote the last-ever Classic Who episode “Survival” with the Seventh Doctor and Ace. To date, this is the only time a writer has contributed to both old and nuWho, which I think is completely awesome, and they need to do more of it in the future. Since the Master also appeared in “Survival”, this may explain why Missy felt more like a classic Master than in other episodes.

Speaking of Missy, I am so glad the Doctor is not blindly trusting her. I know he wants his friend back, but Missy’s done so much evil that he knows he can’t blindly trust her. We’ve thought we could trust her before, and it turns out it was all part of some clever scheme. Missy’s got to try extra hard to prove herself, which is probably what leads into next week’s episode (where we see the Doctor leave Missy in charge of an adventure with Bill and Nardole to help her).

“World Enough and Time” is the first half of the two-part season finale, and can you believe it’s time for the finale already? I still don’t think I’m ready for Capaldi to leave…but I am definitely stoked about the Mondasian Cybermen and John Simm’s return–complete with a Master goatee! It will be interesting to see two different versions of the Master interacting with each other, more importantly to see how this affects Missy. Will she abandon her quest to become good, or will she ultimately prove to the Doctor that she can change? Time will tell, I guess!

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