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My Top 10 Movies of 2009

We’ve known this was coming for a while. From the moment I ran through the Irish Times’ Top 20 Films of the Decade through to my own Top 50 Films of the Decade (why stop at 20?) and even on my Top 10 TV Shows of the Decade. It seems only fair and natural to offer a top ten countdown of my favourite movies from the past twelve months. I make no apologies for how populist or anti-populist the list may seem, and I hope that it doesn’t offend anyone – I’m just a nerd on the interweb afterall. If you think I missed something, or overpraised something, just let me know in the comments below. Cheers. Now enjoy.

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Doctor Who: The End of Time, Part I

That was… an episode of Doctor Who. I don’t know. I’m not sure what I was expecting, but I know that wasn’t quite it. And there are enough cringe-worthy moments here to prevent the episode from becoming a classic (or even just a great episode) there are more than a few diamonds in the rough hidden amidst the mess of an episode. It is very much a Russell T. Davies episode, with all that involves – the ridiculously over-the-top moments paired with a fantastic grasp of character. Is it a fitting end to perhaps the most iconic version of the Timelord (I’m an Eccleston man myself, but only Tom Baker could be said to challenge Tennant as the most recognised face of the Doctor)? I don’t know – I should probably wait for the second part, to be honest. On the otherhand, it certainly doesn’t feel like a crowning moment for the first five years (or even Tennant’s last four) of the revival.

The Master in a hoody... and the establishment did tremble...

Note: This review will be discussing the episode in depth (including spoilers). If you are looking for a quick recommendation, it’s a decided ‘meh’. It isn’t a highpoint in the new series, but some good ideas and some nice character moments (as well as three fantastic lead performances) make something out of the mess that is the rest of the episode. I’m not sure what exactly, I’ll let you know next week. Continue reading

Robert Kirkman’s Run on Ultimate X-Men – Vol. 7-9 (Hardcover)

Ultimate X-Men is a tough title to get a read on. The fact that the run has been broken down into blocks by all manner of superstar writers means that there’s really no consistent underlying principle feeding through the eight-year life of the title. On the other hand, the fact that none of these big name writers like Mark Millar or Brian Michael Bendis could create a book living up to the series’ potential indicates that maybe there wasn’t a writer who could steward the book through its entire life cycle. Ultimate Spider-Man serves in many ways as a fulfillment of the promise of the Ultimate line, it’s almost a single, decade-long story of growth and development, the very evolution of a world of superheroes. Ultimate X-Men is very much the opposite, the constantly bending backwards over itself, jolting, starting and reversing as it seems unable to decide where exactly it’s going at any given moment. Robert Kirkman’s run is perhaps the best examples of the series’ strengths and ultimately (ha!) its weaknesses.

Somebody's been watching Terminator a bit too often...

Note: Some of Aron Coleitte’s work is covered in the Hardcover Volume 9 (with the rest of his short run spilling over into the Ultimatum Hardcover). If I can bring myself to pick up Ultimatum, I will run a review of his rather short tenure on the title. This review is only concerned with Kirkman’s run – up until the end of the Apocalypse arc.

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Avatar Backlash Backlash – Is “It Looks Beautiful” Ever Good Enough?

I’ll be honest. I didn’t like Avatar. Part of the movie made me uncomfortable. The implications of the whole “white man leads a bunch of noble savages to a victory they couldn’t have acheived without him” bit are worrying when place in the context of a metaphor for the genocide of the Native Americans. But, beyond that, it just isn’t a very good film. The dialogue is terrible. The characters don’t seem half as real as James Cameron’s wonderfully brought-to-life planet Pandora. On the other hand, I will concede that the visuals are stunning. They are breathtaking. What really amazes me, though, is the tone of backlash that most negative reviews seem to be generating, which can be effectively summed up with: just shut up and look at the pretty picture – who cares about plot and characters?

King of the new world...

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My Top Ten Shows of the Decade

Yep, it’s retrospective time. I’ve done my top 50 movies of the past ten years, so it’s time for me to reflect on my top 10 television shows of the 00s. Prepare to be awed and mazed, shocked and astounded, angered and enraged, by the inclusions (and omissions) from my list. The good folks over at Television Without Pity included their favourite episode in each choice, so I think I’m going to run with that idea.

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Kevin Smith & David Mack’s Runs on Daredevil (Hardcover Vol. #1)

It’s said that imitation is the sincerest form of flattery. It’s also been said that Frank Miller’s Born Again pretty much defined Daredevil. So it should really come as no surprise that Kevin Smith borrowed from that particular story wholesale for his relaunch of the character back in 1999. It’s not necessarily a bad thing – Smith has the decency to admit that the concept isn’t incredibly original – and in a way it provides a suitable note upon which to relaunch the title.

Bring your child to work day was not the resounding success Matt Murdock expected...

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Non-Review Review: Avatar

Yes, it is as visually stunning as you have heard. No, the special effects and 3D don’t combine to give you massive headaches. No, you’re never really dizzy or disorientated. Yes, it is the most technically impressive movie since… well, Titanic. But, with all that said, there’s really very little here. Cameron might be a master chef, and is an expert at serving up meals that look incredible, but here it seems that he spent more time on the decoration than on the ingredients. The movies is easily the most incredible technical accomplishment of the decade, but does that really matter when the plot is not only recycled (in fairness, that suits the green tone of the movie), but recycled poorly? Is watching two-and-a-half-hours of visually stunning work enough if it can’t generate any sort of emotional investment?

I wish I could say it blue (geddit?) me away...

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