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Non-Review Review: Animals

Animals lacks any real bite.

At its core, Animals is the story of the unhealthy relationship that exists between Laura and Tyler. Laura is a Dublin girl, with close ties to her extended family. Tyler is an American abroad, a young woman who seems to be running as far away from her family as possible. A chance encounter on a night out brought the two together in their twenties, and they have since become inseparable. Laura lives with Tyler in her lavish city centre apartment, while Tyler is a welcome guest at all of Laura’s family gatherings. The two seem to share a single life.

Putting the matter to bed.

Naturally, that relationship has begun to strain and fray as the women enter their thirties – Laura is about two years older than her best friend, while Tyler’s thirtieth birthday is a significant event in the context of the film. Laura seems to want to move on, to embrace adulthood and responsibility; she courts a young professional pianist named Jim and tries desperately to work on the novel she’s been picking over for the last decade. Tyler pushes back against this, terrified at the prospect that her best friend might leave her behind to wallow in her own hedonistic insecurities.

Animals is too generic to make a meaningful impression. Its major character and narrative beats are all helpfully signposted from the get-go, its destination obvious from the end of the first few scenes. However, there’s not enough substance present to justify that sense of inevitability, the leisurely-paced journey towards a foregone conclusion that hits every expected plot point and character moment along the way. Animals feels very much like every other “young person has a life crisis and has to find a way to be comfortable with themselves” narrative of the past decade, with little to distinguish it.

At home on the (G)rainger.

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The X-Files (Topps) #38 – Cam Rahn Bay (Review)

This May and June, we’re taking a trip back in time to review the fifth season of The X-Files and the second season of Millennium.

Cam Rahn Bay returns to one of the recurring themes of John Rozum’s run on Topps’ X-Files tie-in comic book.

It is essentially a cautionary tale amount mankind tampering with nature and the unforeseeable repercussions of such meddling. As such, it feels very much in keeping with scripts like Skybuster or Scum of the Earth. This idea of human hubris is a theme that is very much in keeping with The X-Files as a franchise, perhaps most keenly reflected in Chris Carter’s deep affection for Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein and for environmental causes. Cam Rahn Bay is very much in keeping with that aesthetic.

All at sea...

All at sea…

However, there are problems with the story. Most obviously, Rozum’s prose seems a little clunky and awkward. Cam Rahn Bay is a heavy-handed and clumsy meditation on mankind’s fixation with imposing its will over the natural world. However, there is also something slightly hypocritical about the story. As much as Cam Rahn Bay criticises the use of animals in a military capacity, it never seems to question the use of animals in captivity. While the training of dolphins to do military work is treated as deplorable, training them to do tricks for entertainment is lauded.

Cam Rahn Bay feels a little tonally ill-judged, with this fairly significant blindspot undermining a lot of Mulder’s impassioned rhetoric about how mankind treats the natural world.

"Sorry, I was just thinking abotu Deep Throat..."

“Sorry, I was just thinking abotu Deep Throat…”

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The X-Files – Fearful Symmetry (Review)

This August (and a little of September), we’re taking a trip back in time to review the second season of The X-Files. In November, we’ll be looking at the third season. And maybe more.

Fearful Symmetry is an embarrassing mess of an episode. It’s ambitious, but it’s clumsy and over-wrought. It aspires to great things, but is instead completely banal. For a show featuring an invisible elephant, that’s no small accomplishment.

Tyger, Tyger...

Tyger, Tyger…

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