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Non-Review Review: Friend Request

Friend Request does not work.

There is a great horror film to be made about the internet age. After all, the best horror has always reflected the time around it. The witch hunts of the fifties paved the way for The Invasion of the Body Snatchers, while the AIDs panic of the eighties gave way to body horrors like The Fly or The Thing. There is undoubtedly a classic horror waiting to be made about the perils of online life and the strange connections that form through computer monitors. Unfortunately, Friend Request is not it.

"I CAN HAZ FRIEND?"

“I CAN HAZ FRIEND?”

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Doctor Who: Planet of the Ood (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.

Planet of the Ood originally aired in 2008.

How many Ood in total?

I’d say about two thousand, sir.

We can write them off. That’s what insurance is for.

– Halpen and Kess remind us that these are not nice people

Planet of the Ood is a bit blunt. And by “a bit”, I mean “a lot.” It’s an allegorical exploration of unchecked capitalism and slavery, using the science-fiction setting to tell a story with a familiar moral.Then again, Planet of the Ood largely works because that moral remains rather timely and relevant, but also because it’s a fantastically produced piece of television. It’s fast and pacey, it looks stylish, it has a fantastic cast and an efficient script. Sure, there are rough edges, but Planet of the Ood continues a fairly strong start for the fourth season.

Soaring...

Soaring…

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Non-Review Review: World War Z

World War Z is a lesson in compromise, a Frankenstein’s monster stitched together out of necessity with the lines very clearly showing. It goes this way and then that way, never really sure where it wants to be in the next act, save that it’s a safe bet there might be zombies. World War Z isn’t as bad as it might have been, but the problem is that it feels like it’s trying so hard to find an ending that it never bothers to excel. It’s not that World War Z is bad, it’s a competently made thriller that works as well as it can with a script that spent most of production in triage. The problem is that it’s never bold enough to do anything genuinely exciting.

Pitting our best man against the zombie horde...

Pitting our best man against the zombie horde…

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Star Trek: The Next Generation – Encounter at Farpoint (Review)

To celebrate the twenty-fifth anniversary of Star Trek: The Next Generation, and also next year’s release of Star Trek: Into Darkness, I’m taking a look at the recent blu ray release of the first season, episode-by-episode. Check back daily for the latest review.

It is very hard to believe that it has been a quarter of a century since Star Trek: The Next Generation first appeared on our screens. It is actually quite nice that Paramount and CBS are using the opportunity to give the series a bit of a visual overhaul, going back to the original films and special effects and updating them for high definition. This is not the same approach adopted by George Lucas with his remastering of the original Star Wars trilogy.

Instead, the aim of these high definition re-releases is to bring what was already there up to modern standards, rather than to retroactively re-do the special effects. The project is being overseen by the wonderful Mike and Denise Okuda, and Mike has argued that this restoration is a very bold endeavour, suggesting, “it’s the largest – as far as we know – the largest project of its kind that has ever been attempted.”

And I am proud to support it. In a large way, my interest in this high definition release is in large part grounded in recognition of the scale of the work involved. Because, let’s face it, the first season of Star Trek: The Next Generation is a solid contender for the worst year of Star Trek ever produced for television.

“Let’s see what’s out there…”

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Non-Review Review: Paranormal Activity 4

I actually quite liked the opening set-up of Paranormal Activity 4. As far as horror franchises go, the Paranormal Activity series is still much more spry than most other long-running series, and there’s a certain charm to the opening hour of Paranormal Activity 4 that seem almost playful. It feels strange to talk about a movie featuring an ominous demon hunting a small suburban family in these terms, but there’s a surprisingly warm and endearing sense of humour to be found in the first two-thirds of the film. Things definitely come off the rails towards the finalé, as the movie (and the series) become too burdened down with mythology and story – and the last third certainly becomes a little over-crowded and generic, threatening to collapse under its own weight as so many modern horrors do.

While it’s nowhere near as innovative, clever or genuinely frightening as Paranormal Activity, Paranormal Activity 4 measures up reasonably well to the standard set by the sequels, ending up much stronger than Paranormal Activity 2, and about on-par with Paranormal Activity 3.

Something to watch over me…

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Non-Review Review: Short Cuts

Short Cuts is perhaps “the” big defining ensemble drama. Even those who haven’t seen it are familiar with Robert Altman’s epic three-hour twenty-two-character crisscrossing drama about life modern Los Angeles. It’s bold, ambitious and challenging. Personally, I prefer Altman’s skewering the studio system in The Player, there’s no denying that this big drama has its charms.

Altman casts a long shadow...

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GoSave Deals…

The guys over at Simply Zesty sent this link on, and it’s something close to my better half’s heart, so I thought I’d share it. Basically, GoSave.ie is a website that runs deals on Irish businesses, and donates a certain percentage of their costs back to charity. It’s a very handy way of supporting the local economy, which is – understandably – a source of concern for many people in this day and age. If you’re Irish, and interested in this, you can check them out on Facebook here or by clicking the link below.

Note: I am sharing this link because I think it’s the kind of thing that might be important people viewing the blog, and I know that supporting local industry matters to some people very close to me in my personal life. I’m not earning or receiving anything in return for this post, nor does it represent a direct endorsement of the service – I’m merely sharing something that some readers might find interesting. It’s unfortunate that this sort of thing needs to be clarified, but it’s important that I am open and transparent with you, the reader, on why I post a link to a corporate website.