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Final Countdown!

It’s March 15, and you know what that means–it’s officially one month until Doctor Who returns! And look at what we have to look forward to!

Ice Warriors! Mondasian Cybermen! A trip to Egypt! The Fourth Doctor’s sonic screwdriver! David Suchet!

Allons-y!

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French “Beauty and the Beast” Adaptation was Totally Worth the Wait

Long about three years ago, I stumbled upon a trailer for a French adaptation of Beauty and the Beast starring Lea Seydoux as Belle and Vincent Cassel as the Beast.

I thought the trailer looked amazing and decided to put it in the Netflix queue. Well, it took Netflix three years to actually make this movie available. Don’t ask me why; it was annoying. But the good news is that it finally became available, and I finally got to watch it, and it was completely worth the wait.

This version is more in line with the French fairy tale–Belle’s father is a merchant who takes a rose from the Beast’s garden; the Beast issues an ultimatum that if the merchant does not return, he will kill his entire family; Belle takes her father’s place as the Beast’s prisoner; Beast tries to get Belle to fall in love with him; Belle must learn to see the man behind the monster. Because the story is already so well known, however, the writers added a few extra twists to surprise the people who know and love this tale as old as time.

For example, Belle had extra motivation in taking her father’s place as the Beast’s prisoner. In this version, we learn that Belle’s mother died giving birth to her, and Belle blames herself for causing her mother’s death (she also suspects her siblings think the same thing even if they’ve never told her to her face). Her unwillingness to be the cause of her father’s death, too, is what prompts her to return to the Beast’s castle in her father’s stead.

The Beast’s story is the one that sees the most changes. While staying in the castle, Belle’s dreams show her how her captor was once a prince, a prince whose love of hunting was rivaled only by his love for his wife (yes, you read that right. The Prince was married before). The ultimate goal that the Prince pursued was the Golden Deer, but his wife asked him to give up his quest because she didn’t like spending so much time alone in the castle while he was off hunting with his buddies. At first the Prince agrees to give up searching for the Golden Deer, but he later breaks his promise and continues his pursuit. When he finally corners and shoots it, the terrible truth is revealed–the Golden Deer was the true form of his wife, who was really a wood nymph (dryad?) who took human form because she wanted to experience love. As she lay dying, she begs her father, the god of the forest, to spare the Prince’s life. Instead of killing the Prince, the forest god curses him to remain trapped in the form of a beast until a woman’s love should set him free…but since the only woman who loved him was currently dead, that wasn’t going to happen anytime soon. Oh, I should also mention that the wood nymph was pregnant, so in addition to being trapped in animal form, the Beast had to live with the guilt of knowing he was responsible for the deaths of his wife and unborn child.

I have to say that I really enjoyed this version. I wasn’t sure what to expect since I had heard mixed reviews of it, but it was incredible. The biggest complaint seemed to be that the love story between Belle and the Beast didn’t feel very well formed, but come on, people–this is a fairy tale. In fairy tales, people usually get married after two days; no one seriously expects fairy tale romances to be an accurate reflection of reality! Also, I think several complaints came from people who were expecting something more in line with the Disney version of the story. The fact is that Disney was not the first to adapt this story, and they won’t be the last. And as far as adaptations go, this 2014 version is definitely one of the better ones. In fact, part of me wonders if I’ll find the live-action Disney version underwhelming after this sumptuous, stunning film.

Eh, I’ll probably still like it. But after watching this and Jean Cocteau’s 1946 masterpiece, I’m starting to think no one can adapt this story quite like the French.

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Mauve Alert! Peter Capaldi Announces He’s LEAVING DOCTOR WHO!

Peter Capaldi announced today that the 2017 Christmas special will be his last appearance as the Doctor. He will be regenerating to make way for a new Doctor in 2018, which will also be seeing Chris Chibnall taking over as showrunner from Steven Moffat.

I am not taking this well. I feel as if he’s being forced out of the show because all the nuWho fangirls hated that he was older and not a pretty boy. The Doctor was never supposed to be your boyfriend! Watch some classic Who and get an education!

And if they use his departure as an excuse/opportunity to cast a woman as the Doctor because something something diversity, something something open-mindedness, I will be so done with the modern series. So. Done.

On the other hand, I suppose I could try looking at it as another opportunity for my dream-casting of Hugh Laurie as the Doctor. But…drat it all, we just got Capaldi! I’m not ready to let go yet!

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Doctor Who Review: The Return of Doctor Mysterio *Contains Spoilers*

Considering this was the only new episode of Doctor Who we could expect to see this year, writing a review of it was kind of a no-brainer. I did miss having new episodes to review each week, so I looked forward to having a chance to write down my thoughts on the 2016 Christmas special. It’s been exactly one year since our last new episode–was it worth the wait?

“The Return of Doctor Mysterio” sees, well, the return of Peter Capaldi as the Doctor with Matt Lucas reprising his role of Nardole from last year’s Christmas special, “The Husbands of River Song” (yes, there is an explanation as to why he is back in one piece after he was beheaded last year). After his twenty-four-year night with River on Darillium, the Doctor reattached Nardole’s head to his body and offered him a place aboard the TARDIS–with both Clara and River gone, he didn’t want to travel alone (although he denies this reason). They turn up in New York City investigating Harmony Shoal, suspecting it’s a front for alien activity. Their investigation leads them to cross paths with Lucy Fletcher, a journalist trying to get background information on Harmony Shoal’s real purpose, and the Ghost, a masked superhero who has made it his mission to protect the city from all threats. Plot twist–the Doctor and the Ghost have met before. Twenty-four years ago, there was a little boy named Grant who had a conversation with a madman on a roof, and during the course of the conversation, he accidentally swallowed a Hazandra gemstone. Known as the “Ghost of Love and Wishes”, this gemstone has the ability to grant any wish–to a young boy with a love of comic books, it gives him super powers. The Doctor made Grant promise never to use his powers, but Grant saw an opportunity to help people, and he took it.

This wasn’t the best of the Christmas specials, but it was very good, nonetheless. There was much poking of fun at common superhero clichés and wry commentary. What I noticed, though, is that Moffat seemed to have toned down his writing this time; it seemed less frantic and manic than previous specials. Frankly, I think the story benefitted from that change of pace–when Moffat slows down and takes the time to work out the plot, his writing is much better. Also, I hope we get to see Grant and Lucy again in the future; they were fun characters. They started as parodies of Superman and Lois Lane but turned into characters I genuinely cared about.

Something else that struck me was a change in Nardole’s character–he seemed wiser, somehow, and seemed to have a good understanding of the Doctor. I’m not sure if that wisdom came from having a drastic perspective shift from being beheaded or if it came from many previous travels, but he definitely understands the Doctor’s pain and wants to help him heal. The Doctor certainly trusts him, or else I don’t imagine he would have taught him how to fly the TARDIS. But Nardole is showing he can be more than an inept bumbler, and it will be interesting to see how that plays out in season 10.

And speaking of season 10…

Allons-y!

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Some Thoughts on “Doctor Who: Scream of the Shalka”

If you’re scratching your heads over this one, thinking, “I’ve never heard of any Doctor Who episode called ‘Scream of the Shalka’,” you’re not crazy. It’s not a well-known episode, and it’s actually not canon–at least, not anymore (although I’m not sure if it ever was considered canon). “Scream of the Shalka” was an animated serial that ran on the BBC’s Doctor Who website in 2003. Yes, 2003, two years before the modern revival, two years before anyone even knew Doctor Who would be returning to television. Consequently, the Ninth Doctor in “Shalka” bears zero resemblance to the one we saw in “Rose”. Instead, we got this guy, voiced by Richard E. Grant, who would later go on to play Dr. Simeon/the Great Intelligence in “The Snowmen” and “The Name of the Doctor”.

Alternate Ninth Doctor from Scream of the Shalka

Alternate Nine doesn’t need no leather jacket.

Frankly, I liked this version of the Doctor more than I expected because he had a definitive classic vibe that the modern series hasn’t really emulated. Oh, and I loved how Derek Jacobi was voicing the Master–nice little foreshadowing of how he would later play the Master in “Utopia”. Plus, I really loved his version of the Master in “Utopia” and was sad that we only got to see him for one episode. I should note, however, that in “Shalka” he was technically an android version of the Master because…actually, I was a bit fuzzy on why the Doctor was traveling around the universe with an android Master.

The story itself was nothing overtly spectacular–the Time Lords send the Doctor to Lancanshire to stop an invasion that’s coming from the ground, and he teams up with a local barmaid named Alison (Sophie Okonedo, who would later play Elizabeth X in “The Beast Below”), who’s the only one who seems interested in fighting back–but it does get exciting towards the end. As the above artwork indicates, it looked a lot like a comic book in animated format, which was a bit weird at first, but after a while it didn’t really bother me.

What I liked most about it, though, was its thoroughly classic vibe. Don’t get me wrong; I enjoy the modern series. I just thought this was an interesting look at how Doctor Who might have evolved if it hadn’t been for Russell T. Davies and Christopher Eccleston. The revival was Doctor Who updated for a twenty-first century audience whereas “Scream of the Shalka” was more like classic Who set in the twenty-first century. The modern feel was probably the best way to go in the end because an overly classic feel would likely have turned off new viewers, and chances are the show would have been canceled by now. However, I can’t help but feel just a little bit wistful that we almost had a modern series that kept all of the good bits from the classic one.

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Happy 50th, Star Trek!

“Space…the final frontier.” It’s hard to believe, but it really has been 50 years since those iconic words were first uttered, 50 years since Captain Kirk commanded the USS Enterprise on its five-year mission to explore strange new worlds, to seek out new forms of life and new civilizations, and to boldly go where no man has gone before. The original show only lasted for three years, but in that short time it gave us moments both comedic

and tragic.

It showed us how to be brave in our duties

and loyal to our friends.

Star Trek has lived on in its various spinoffs and reboots, but nothing will ever quite compare to the (sometimes cheesy) magic of the original Enterprise crew. Their efforts and passion were the reasons the fans never forgot Star Trek and the reasons it will continue to last for another 50 years.

 

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Some Thoughts on “Star Trek Beyond” *Spoilers Ahead*

The latest installment of the rebooted Star Trek franchise debuted just in time for the 50th anniversary year of exploring strange new worlds, seeking out new forms of life and new civilizations, and boldly going where no man has gone before. It was a thrill to experience on the big screen, but if you want to know more, you run the risk of spoilers.

To prove how serious I am, I got River Song to come and tell you all about the spoilers.

If River hasn’t convinced you to go away, nothing will, so I may as well commence.

It’s Year Three of the famous five-year mission, and Captain James Tiberius Kirk is wondering why he’s still here. He complains that his life is beginning to feel episodic (the franchise has become sentient! They’re going to figure out to break out of the Matrix!) and hopes that a temporary layover at the starbase Yorktowne will help break up the monotony. What he hasn’t told his crew is that he’s applied for a vice-admiral position and plans to leave Spock in command of the Enterprise. Naturally enough, all of this changes when they rescue a survivor of an alien exploratory mission who needs help rescuing the rest of her crew. The planet they’re stranded on lies in the middle of a dense nebula, and guess which ship has the best navigational equipment in the fleet?

So off they go to assist the aliens only to find that it was an ambush to lead them directly into the hands of the mad warlord Krall. The Enterprise is destroyed (The Search for Spock wants its plot device back), and the majority of the crew are Krall’s prisoners. It’s up to Kirk, Spock, McCoy, Chekov, Scotty, and their new friend Jaylah to set them free and stop Krall from destroying the entire Federation. But Spock is badly wounded, and their only vessel is the broken-down USS Franklin, an NX starship that went missing over a hundred years ago (and can hit a whopping warp 4 without exploding).

There are so many points I want to cover that I hardly know where to start. I think I’ll just start with Jaylah. I loved her character, and I loved how well she meshed with the rest of the crew. I know they won’t be recasting Chekov for the next movie, but I hope they’re able to bring Jaylah back; I would love to see her continue to grow as a character and have a chance to explore deep space.

I enjoyed the twist about Krall being Balthazar Edison, the Franklin‘s original captain. Most people hated Enterprise, but I loved it, and I’m always glad when they’re able to reference that show in some way. Granted, I haven’t watched enough to remember if the Franklin was ever mentioned, but the mere fact that we had Kirk and Co. on an NX-era bridge pleased me greatly. Also, I thought it was a good idea to follow the idea of the original 2009 film and create an original villain; Benedict Cumberbatch aside, one of the big flaws of Into Darkness was that they tried to recast one of the most iconic villains and remake one of the best storylines Star Trek ever had. But Idris Elba didn’t have to worry about being compared to any other actor in the role, which gave him a certain amount of flexibility.

The regular actors have really grown into their roles; Karl Urban and Simon Pegg have especially reached new heights in their respective roles of Dr. McCoy and Commander Scott. I think Karl Urban in particular is having a bit too much fun as McCoy, but it makes for a good performance.

Mini-rant time: I was so hoping we finally saw the end of the pointless Spock/Uhura romance, but they seem determined to keep dragging it out. Why? Why!? I beg you; end it in the next film already! Apart from being annoying, I feel it interferes with Zachary Quinto’s portrayal of Spock. His logic feels less…sharp, somehow, since he’s in a relationship, but he’s still a master of zingers.

Speaking of Spock, they handled Leonard Nimoy’s death in a very respectful way. It was still sad, but at the same time you felt that your grief was shared by every single person watching the movie, so that made it a little easier. They couldn’t do much about Anton Yelchin’s death because he died after filming was complete, but the simple “For Anton” at the end of the movie was a welcome touch. Any future movies will feel empty without him.

The first two movies were fun romps, but Beyond feels as if it the reboot has finally grown up. It had the most Trek-like feel of all of the modern movies, for which I credit Simon Pegg’s influence. Mr. Pegg, if by some chance you should stumble upon this humble little corner of the internet, you did good.

Final verdict: it was brilliant and a perfect way to celebrate the 50th anniversary. If you haven’t seen it yet, go do so.

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