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Star Trek – The Pandora Principle by Carolyn Clowes (Review)

This August, to celebrate the upcoming release of Star Trek: Into Darkness on DVD and blu ray, we’re taking a look at the Star Trek movies featuring the original cast. Movie reviews are every Tuesday and Thursday.

We’ll be supplementing our coverage of the movies with tie-ins around (and related to) the films. We’ll be doing one of these every week day. This is one such article.

It’s amazing to think how much tie-in material the character of Saavik has generated, considering that she only appeared in three Star Trek films. There are regular characters who have never attracted the same degree of attention as Saavik. There’s probably a reason for this. After all, Saavik was introduced as an important character in Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan. There’s even some speculation that she might have been originally intended as a replacement for Spock, had Leonard Nimoy decided not to return to the franchise. As such, she was introduced as a surprisingly developed character with a background rife with storytelling potential.

It’s a bit of a disappointment, then, that she was first re-cast as Robin Curtis in Star Trek III: The Search for Spock and then she was quietly shuffled off-stage at the start of Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home, never to be seen again. Perhaps that squandered potential is at the root of the fascination with Saavik. The Pandora Principle, the only Star Trek novel from author Carolyn Clowes, offers us an origin and a history for the character, building off hints and character attributes that were never even mentioned on-screen.


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Doctor Who: Kinda (Review)

To celebrate the fiftieth anniversary of the longest-running science-fiction show in the world, I’ll be taking weekly looks at some of my own personal favourite stories and arcs, from the old and new series, with a view to encapsulating the sublime, the clever and the fiendishly odd of the BBC’s Doctor Who.

Kinda originally aired in 1982.

My dear, you can’t possibly exist, so please go away.

– a figment of Tegan’s imagination… or is it?

Every once in a while, there’s a story that undergoes something of a critical reappraisal among Doctor Who fans, as particular fans champion a forgotten story as a classic, attack the assertion that a given story is a classic or even suggest a stinker is in serious need of reevaluation. I actually like that, even fifty years after the show originally aired, there are still discussions to be had around what the good, bad and indifferent stories are. I think Kinda has cycled through this process quite a bit – a story initially overlooked in Peter Davison’s “much better than you remember, if you can get past the cheesy production values” first season, but one that has been somewhat re-appraised in the decades that followed.

A hot-shot colonist...

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Non-Review Review: G.I. Joe – Retaliation

I’m actually just a little bit divided on G.I. Joe: Retaliation. It is not, by any measure, a good film. It’s messy, it’s muddled, it’s over-complicated and under-developed at the same time, it’s nonsense, it’s dumb, it’s loud and it’s all over the map. However, some small part of me sort of admired that G.I. Joe: Retaliation had managed to so perfectly evoke the sensation of playing with toys. Had you given my eight-year-old self a box of G.I. Joe toys and told me to play for two hours, my playtime might have been plotted somewhat similarly to this film. I will concede that I admire the way that G.I. Joe: Retaliation feels more like a bunch of kids playing with toys than a carefully constructed action movie.

At the same time, however, I’m not afraid to admit that my eight-year-old self would have directed a pretty terrible action film.

Rock on...

Rock on…

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Doctor Who: Revenge of the Cybermen (Review)

To celebrate the fiftieth anniversary of the longest-running science-fiction show in the world, I’ll be taking weekly looks at some of my own personal favourite stories and arcs, from the old and new series, with a view to encapsulating the sublime, the clever and the fiendishly odd of the BBC’s Doctor Who.

Revenge of the Cybermen originally aired in 1975.

Then what is it? You’ve no home planet, no influence, nothing. You’re just a pathetic bunch of tin soldiers skulking about the galaxy in an ancient spaceship.

– the Doctor pretty much sums it up

To be fair, the title should the first clue that something is not quite right here.

Tom Baker’s first season of Doctor Who contains two genuine classics in the form of Genesis of the Daleks and The Ark in Space, along with the quite good Sontaran Experiment, but it was bookended by two absolute clunkers. Indeed, Revenge of the Cybermen and Robot both feel like holdovers from the Barry Letts era of the show, and they’d both probably seem a whole lot more entertaining as vehicles for Jon Pertwee rather than Tom Baker.

Sadly, we’ve got what we’ve got, so let’s just try to work through this.

Sadly it's A bomb, not THE bomb...

Sadly it’s A bomb, not THE bomb…

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Non-Review Review: Critters 3

I have a confession to make. I have never seen a Critters film before. They were always sitting there on the lower shelves of the horror section in the shop where I used to rent DVDs, but I just never picked one up. I can’t quite explain why – that sort of trashy horror-comedy would probably have seemed right up my street, but I guess I was probably more fascinated with the more iconic horror monsters and menaces. Anyway, my better half has always had a bit of affection for Leonardo DiCaprio, and when we discovered that his first big screen role was as a kid in Critters 3, I suggested that we could watch both watch it. And, I’m surprised to admit, it was nowhere near as bad as I thought it was going to be.

Laugh it up, fuzzball…

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Dude, Where’s My Midnight in Paris Blu Ray?

I own a blu ray player. I still like to buy my blu ray and DVDs, even if I accept that Netflix might render that a thing of the past. However, I can’t help but feel that some of the distributors are shooting themselves in the foot in how they are handling the medium. I mean, Criterion have suddenly decided to region-lock their blu ray releases, making the highest-quality home media releases less accessible than the DVD editions of the same films. Last week, I went to pick up a copy of Woody Allen’s Midnight in Paris from HMV, making my weekly trip and, while the DVD was present, there was no blu ray to be found.

A long, dark midnight of the format...

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A Long Time Ago: The Star Wars Prequels Did Not Ruin Your Childhood…

This weekend, Fox are beginning their process of re-releasing Star Wars into cinema, converted into 3D. I’m fairly agnostic on the idea. I like the idea of eventually being able to see The Empire Strikes Back again in the cinema,but I’m withholding judgment until I see the post-conversion 3D in action. Part of me does think that it’s a mistake to begin with Star Wars: Episode I – The Phantom Menace, if only because it’s the weakest entry in the franchise. I would have liked to see the re-release following the original release order. Still, the fact that the franchise is once again invading theatres seems to have stirred up a lot of underlying resentment, from the core fans who seem to have been struggling with Lucas’ three prequel films – many claiming that the writer and director’s decision to revisit the franchise has retroactively ruined their childhood viewing experiences. It seems that, to fans, the original trilogy are almost tarred by association.

To be entirely honest, it’s hard to take this argument in any way seriously.

Feel the power of the dark side...

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