Dr Who – Planet Of Evil (1975 UK)

This adventure is the start of moving the series onward from the Earth based, UNIT adventures into new territory. UNIT had an excellent story Terror of the Zygons, prior to this, with the Brigadier and Benton on top form. But to expand the series scope back out to space was a good move even if it meant sadly phasing out UNIT. But Planet Of Evil is not regarded as a classic story by most Who fans. It rips off 1956’s Forbidden Planet along with Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde. So it does get rather formulaic in places, but director David Maloney played up Louis Marks script to its main strength: atmosphere. Plus there’s a jungle to get lost in… [Read more…]

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The Venture Bros (USA 2003 – )

Some adult cartoons like modern Family Guy just try to disgust their audience to show how “edgy” they are. True, we get into some pretty dark territory with the Venture Bros every now and then, but it never really goes too far. It portrays the characters realistically and never has them try to gross out the viewers. We really do see character development and more of a story go on. Every character has their own quirks, and it’s too hard for me to pick a favourite one. [Read more…]

Midsummer Century (James Blish)

The average quality of this work perhaps can be excused by the fact that during the early 70s Blish was chronically ill (he died in 1975 from lung cancer). But unless you are a dedicated fan of Mr Blish, ‘Midsummer’ is best passed over by those looking for memorable works from this era. This book actually contains one novella-length story, “Midsummer Century,” and two short stories: “Skysign” and “A Style in Treason.” In “Midsummer Century,” a scientist troubleshooting a radio telescope, falls (what a surprise!) into the antenna and, due to a construction error, has his consciousness projected 23,000 years into the future. [Read more…]

The End of Eternity (Isaac Asimov)

I’ve never had much time for Asimov, partly because of the media hype that surrounds his name. The problem I have with his writing here is that emotional situations seem to be taken to extremes: going from dry clinical detachment to wildly-in-love, blackmailing, murderous and suicidal, without any sort of in-between. Also, for a supposedly thoughtful and incredibly precise guy, his ability to jump to extreme conclusions based on minimal evidence is very jarring. His style is immature and his characters are flat. They are people who are so superficial and tedious that it is hard to care about any of them. So, lets turn to the plot… [Read more…]

Blade Runner 2049 (USA 2017)

images(This new Gutenberg–style of posting is taking some time to get used to. It feels like I’m typing this from the future) Anyway, the Hollywood hacks struck again last year with this beautiful looking flop. When it comes to sequels and prequels, the suits of Tinseltown cannot help themselves from reaching for that same old bottle. Despite increasing public scorn for some of these unnecessary products its become an addiction that Hollywood cannot give up.  [Read more…]

The Time Machine (1960 USA)

This film is truly a gem. There are problems with it when compared to H.G. Wells’s original story, but many of the additions and changes are actually improvements, in my opinion. The movie is fine without being like the original story. As far as the special effects go, they’re good enough for 1960, but really this film is not about how real it looks. Its about the warmth of the characters and their philosophical curiosity about the future. The tone of this version is innocent and subtle, completely unlike the violently harsh FX extravaganzas of today. [Read more…]

A View From A Hill (2005 United Kingdom)

In the 1970s the BBC used to include a ghost story, usually by Dickens or M.R. James, in their Christmas schedules. They dropped the habit later on, but this millennium saw them reboot the series again from time to time. Here is one of the better examples. Directed by Luke Watson, this goes back to the series’ roots; the period setting instantly lends itself a quality and timeless feel, meaning it’s very hard to pin point and define exactly when it was made. [Read more…]

The Jungle Book (2016 USA)

Too much CGI can go stale very fast if the story cannot keep up. The seams will start to show and the minutes will turn to hours. Looking at all the frames of The Jungle Book, other than Neel Sethi as Mowgli, everything is wall-to-wall CGI. But the sense of story is so compelling I lost myself totally in this world. I was awestruck by the level of visual details of each creature that occupies the screen. The facial expressions mirroring its running gamut of emotions, the physical movements of each animal, the pitch-perfect voicing – who wouldn’t believe they possess a human soul? Jon Favreau really cemented his directing skills with this film.
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The Hour Of The Oxrun Dead (Charles L Grant)

Those staples of horror–the rundown graveyard, the sinister shape in the fog, the strange noises in the night–they’re all here in spades, but rather than feeling clichéd, the late Charles L. Grant (who wrote under 5 other names as well) has fashioned them into an engaging little novel of 1970s paranoia. And his style is very moody and languid. He makes you wait, and if you enjoy the journey, that seemed to be his goal. Grant was a leading proponent of the quiet horror movement. Other than the odd quirk that might annoy the reader, like his heroine repeatedly fainting, if you like misdirection and mystery this just might be your cup of tea.
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Groundhog Day (1993 USA)

I think one of the smartest ideas here is that the setting, pure and simple: it could be anywhere but nowhere important. Of course, it is important for our character to get stuck in the middle of nowhere – then it wouldn’t come as such a curse to spend every day on a nice island or a big city. Here monotomy hits us hard. And here comes the life lesson: people in their 30s & 40s can easily get the metaphor, that ‘every day looks the same’. We work, sleep, eat, …. and what else? Something is missing, right? Maybe words that begin with L and H. [Read more…]

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