About these ads
  • Following Us

  • Categories

  • Check out the Archives

  • Of Interest…

    nightcrawler9 furye gonegirl9 theequaliser7 sincity-adametokillfor8 ifistay6 intothestorm7 howtotrainyourdragon2g jerseyboys1a xmen-daysoffuturepast3 theamazingspiderman2q rio2e captainamerica-thewintersoldier14 noah13 muppetsmostwanted6 needforspeed7 thegrandbudapesthotel7
  • Awards & Nominations

Star Trek: Voyager – Jetrel (Review)

This September and October, we’re taking a look at the jam-packed 1994 to 1995 season of Star Trek, including Star Trek: Deep Space Nine and Star Trek: Voyager. Check back daily for the latest review.

Jetrel is an interesting episode for a number of reasons. It’s another example of how the first season of Star Trek: Voyager seems anchored in the aftermath of the Second World War. The episode exists primarily as a meditation on guilt over the use of atomic weapon, with the Metreon Cascade attack on Rinax standing in for the dropping of the atomic bomb on Hiroshima and Negaska in 1945. Jetrel aired three months shy of the fiftieth anniversary of the bombing, and amid a national period of reflection about the morality of Harry S. Truman’s actions.

Whatever the context of Jetrel in 1995, it serves as another example of how Voyager seems like a relic from a bygone age, a snapshot of atomic age science-fiction. Cathexis was the show doing Invasion of the Body Snatchers. Faces was an old-fashioned monster movie. Jetrel wasn’t even the first time that the first season had traded in atomic imagery. The aftermath of the polaric detonation in Time and Again was very clearly designed to evoke the aftermath of an atomic blast.

The devil in the pale moonlight...

The devil in the pale moonlight…

Even without all this baggage, Jetrel still feels like a mess of an episode. The heart of the story finds a member of the ensemble confronting a former war criminal while dealing with issues of war guilt and responsibility – a structure that evokes Duet the penultimate episode of the first season of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine. While that episode worked brilliantly, there’s a sense that Jetrel is burdened a little bit trying to offer a two-hander about guilt while tackling the issue of the atomic bomb.

The problem is compounded by a somewhat messy final act that eschews all the episode’s heavy character-based drama in favour of a contrived techno-babble climax that involves a lot of characters spouting nonsense while playing with light-emitting diodes. Jetrel begins as the strongest and boldest episode of the show’s first season, but ends as one of the prime examples of Voyager‘s preference for techno-babble over character work.

Burn with me...

Burn with me…

Continue reading

About these ads

Non-Review Review: Fury

Fury is an apocalyptic glimpse of warfare.

Unfolding in the last days of the Second World War, as Allied forces pour into Germany from all sides, there’s a sense that this is the end. This is the abyss. As the introductory text explained, Hitler had declared a doctrine of “total war” against these invading forces. Every man woman and child was to be mobilised against the advancing armies, in the hope that it might somehow slow down the Allied war machine. If you throw enough people at it, you might do some damage – even if it is just clogging the gears.

He will strike down with Fury-ous anger...

He will strike down with Fury-ous anger…

A movie about a tank crew enduring these last few days, Fury gets considerable mileage out of that image – of human flesh falling before the unstoppable and inevitable machine. At a couple of points in the movie, characters die with their faces quite literally down in the mud. At other points, bodies are crushed beneath the tracks of the eponymous vehicle. Towards the climax, we encounter a body so thoroughly squashed beneath the weight of the Allied advanced that it seems like an empty uniform.

Fury is at its best when it captures the sheer unrelenting terror and horror of the advancing war machine – the nihilism of fighting a war that has already been decided, and the bleak inevitability of large-scale slaughter.

Fog of war...

Fog of war…

Continue reading

Non-Review Review: Book of Life

Book of Life bristles with energy – almost too much energy at times.

Book of Life is a sumptuous feast for the eyes, dynamic and beautiful, elegantly crafted and lovingly staged. It is packed with eye-popping visuals and an electric energy. In many ways, these help to compensate for a script that is simultaneously under-plotted and hyperactive. The basic plot arc of Book of Life – and the trajectory of all the featured characters – can be mapped from the opening scenes, while the movie is over-stuffed with pop culture references and snappy asides.

Book of Life is exhausting and exhilarating in equal measure, almost perfectly calibrated for its ninety-minute runtime. The result is a stylish and suave animated film that pops out of the screen, even if it doesn’t lodge in the memory. There’s little here that hasn’t been done before, but rarely has it been done so stylishly.

bookofthedead3 Continue reading

Doctor Who: Flatline (Review)

Same time, same place… ish.

…ish? Don’t give me an ish.

These readings are very… ish-y.

In many respects, Flatline can be seen as the flipside of Midnight.

If Midnight was a story about the Doctor trapped in an adventure without his faithful companion, Flatline is very much the story of the companion trapped in an adventure without the Doctor. Flatline acknowledges this repeatedly, with the Doctor handing Clara the sonic screwdriver and the psychic paper while Clara describes herself as “Doctor Oswald.” Indeed, at the end of the episode, Clara seeks an evaluation of her performance as the Doctor, taking charge of the situation and managing the crisis as best she can.

Drawn together...

Drawn together…

Flatline is a very shrewd piece of Doctor Who. Writer Jamie Mathieson demonstrated that he could craft an effective episode with Mummy on the Orient Express, and Flatline feels like a more self-aware story. It is an episode of Doctor Who that doesn’t just offer a superb execution of a tried-and-tested formula, it actually plays with that formula and explores the implications of that core idea. It is a story explicitly about monsters, but is very careful and precise about the use of that word.

If Mathieson’s Mummy on the Orient Express was a pitch-perfect play on a familiar template, Flatline is a much more playful piece of work.

It's smaller on the outside...

It’s smaller on the outside…

Continue reading

The Flash – Fastest Man Alive (Review)

So, I’m considering reviewing this season of The Flash, because the pilot looks interesting and I’ve always had a soft spot for the Scarlet Speedster. I’m also considering taking a storyline-by-storyline trek through the 1987-2009 Flash on-going series as a companion piece. If you are interested in reading either of these, please let me know in the comments.

In many ways, Fastest Man Alive plays like the second part of a pilot for The Flash. Like City of Heroes before it, Fastest Man Alive is written by Andrew Kreisberg and Geoff Johns, with Greg Berlanti credited on the story. It is also directed by David Nutter, one of television’s most respected pilot directors – even if his famous “hot streak” of pilots going straight to show was interrupted when CBS did not pick up The Doctor in 2011.

Fastest Man Alive is still about building the world around Barry Allen. City of Heroes established the basics, the ground rules of the world in which Barry operates. Fastest Man Alive exists to delineate them a bit further. It defines the ensemble better, clarifying the roles of Joe West and Iris West in the grand scheme of things; it gives Barry the confidence he needs to do what he does; it imposes limits on Barry’s ability; it clarifies that Harrison Wells is not entirely heroic.

CGI flames! My fatal weakness!

CGI flames! My fatal weakness!

Given the amount of attention and effort that Fastest Man Alive devotes to cementing the foundations of The Flash, it’s understandable that there really isn’t too much room for anything else. Fastest Man Alive is about settling the cast and the writers into a sustainable status quo for the next stretch of episodes – maybe even the entire first season. It makes sure that everybody knows where everything lies and that there’s a solid base upon which to build.

So, while Fastest Man Alive might not be an especially brilliant episode of television, it does a very good job of setting up what it needs to set up.

Born to run...

Born to run…

Continue reading

The Flash (1987-2009) #3-4 – The Killg%re/Kill the Kilg%re! (Review)

So, I’m considering reviewing this season of The Flash, because the pilot looks interesting and I’ve always had a soft spot for the Scarlet Speedster. I’m also considering taking a storyline-by-storyline trek through the 1987-2009 Flash on-going series as a companion piece. If you are interested in reading either of these, please let me know in the comments.

In many respects, The Kilg%re and Kill the Kilg%re are indicative of Mike Baron’s approach to plotting The Flash. There’s never really a sense of an over-arching plot. It often feels like the comic is not being written with a structured story in mind. As the reader follows the story, it seems to develop and grow and move in odd directions. It’s hard to figure out exactly where any of these stories are going, because Baron himself never seems entirely certain from one moment to the next.

In a way, this style of storytelling suits The Flash as a character and as a comic. The Scarlet Speedster is all about forward momentum, a sense of urgency and dynamism. The sense that Baron is making all this up on the spot is energetic at points, because it feels like the comic is being written by the seat of his pants. However, it also means that the character and plot beats can feel arbitrary and illogical, as if to demonstrate that what works in a particular moment is not guaranteed to work in a larger context.

Hate to burst his bubble...

Hate to burst his bubble…

Continue reading

Star Trek: Deep Space Nine – Explorers (Review)

This September and October, we’re taking a look at the jam-packed 1994 to 1995 season of Star Trek, including Star Trek: Deep Space Nine and Star Trek: Voyager. Check back daily for the latest review.

Explorers is a wonderful piece of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, an episode produced by a show entirely comfortable with itself. Indeed, the entire point of Explorers seems to be stressing just how comfortable Deep Space Nine has become in its own skin. It’s a leisurely and relaxed celebration of what makes the show unique in the Star Trek franchise, wallowing in the things that make Deep Space Nine the show that it is.

With a smart script by René Echevarria adapted from a solid premise by Hilary J. Bader, Explorers is an episode that never feels like it has anything to prove. And that’s the charm of it all.

Open to new cultures...

Open to new cultures…

Continue reading

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 6,193 other followers