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The X-Files – Herrenvolk (Review)

This February and March, we’re taking a trip back in time to review the fourth season of The X-Files and the first season of Millennium.

After Talitha Cumi, Herrenvolk cannot help but seem like a little bit of a disappointment.

Towards the end of the episode, the Alien Bounty Hunter hunts down Jeremiah Smith. Mulder begs for mercy, but the Bounty Hunter will hear nothing of it. “He shows you pieces, but tells you nothing of the whole,” the Bounty Hunter remarks to Mulder. It feels like that sentiment encapsulates Herrenvolk in a nutshell. Mulder goes on the run with Jeremiah Smith and sees a collection of vague but compelling things that may or may not tie into colonisation.

"Now you're thinking, 'I hope that's shepherd's pie in my knickers!'"

“Now you’re thinking, ‘I hope that’s shepherd’s pie in my knickers!'”

Like a lot of the mythology in the fourth and fifth seasons, it feels like a holding pattern. Talitha Cumi was surprisingly candid in its revelations. The aliens were plotting to colonise Earth in collaboration with the human conspirators. The date had been set, the plot was in motion. That was a pretty big bombshell, confirmed in unequivocal terms. It was arguably the clearest and most transparent that the conspiracy arc would ever be. There was a clear goal, a deadline, and a sense of purpose.

Almost immediately, Herrenvolk works to muddy the water. It stalls, it procrastinates, it delays, it evades. It is a plot structured around a collection of ominous conspiracy buzz words (DNA, smallpox, colonies, clones) without a clear purpose or objective.

A bloody mess...

A bloody mess…

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Non-Review Review: The Creature From the Black Lagoon (1954)

In many respects, The Creature From the Black Lagoon feels like a brass band funeral for the golden age of the Universal monster movies. The subgenre would continue ticking over for quite some time. Abbott and Costello Meet the Mummy would be released the following year, The Creature From the Black Lagoon would spawn two sequels for the two years following, and Universal would try a spate of monster movies up until The Leech Woman in 1960. However, it’s clear that – by 1954 – the golden age of the Universal monster movie was well over.

And I think that part of the reason that The Creature From the Black Lagoon works so well is because it’s almost a mournful eulogy for the genre.

Out of the depths…

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Non-Review Review: Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1978)

The Invasion of the Body Snatchers is a wonderful science-fiction premise, so it’s really no wonder that the story has been taken to the big and small screens so often. It’s a great example of how a story can strike different notes in different eras, and how something can easily be about one thing in one era, and take on an entirely different meaning in a later one. The 1978 adaptation is a wonderful piece of high-concept science-fiction, which skilfully takes the ideas from the original classic film, and shakes them around just a little bit.

It's a scream!

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Brian Michael Bendis’ Avengers – New Avengers Vol. 3-4 (Hardcover) (Review/Retrospective)

This is the eighth in a series of comic book reviews that will look at the direction of Marvel’s continuity (and, in particular at their “Avengers” franchise) over the past five or so years, as they’ve been attempting to position the property at the heart of their fictional universe. With The Avengers planned for a cinematic release in 2012, I thought I’d bring myself up to speed by taking a look at Marvel’s tangled web of continuity.

And now we’re entering a continuity-heavy area. You have been warned. As if we’ve been in a continuity-free zone for the past couple of weeks, remarks you, trusted reader. This is where my little experiment to venture deep into the heart of Marvel’s comic book continuity becomes a little bit more complicated and a little bit more difficult. Whereas the first part of Bendis’ run on New Avengers was relatively stand-alone (while still drawing on decades of events and continuity), it’s at this point the series becomes irrevocably intertwined with the on-going events at the heart of the Marvel Universe. It’s been described as “a spine”, and that’s pretty much exactly what it is: it’s a support structure which ties together the big Marvel events year-on-year, a thread that joins events like Civil War and Secret Invasion and Siege to each other and the greater fictional universe.

Wolverine learns the hard way not to bring claws to a gun fight...

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Non-Review Review: The War of the Worlds

Stephen Spielberg helmed something of a loose science-fiction trilogy in the early years of this century. A.I. and Minority Report are still relatively contentious (perhaps the former more than the latter) when it comes to discussing the place of his modern output in the context of his wider filmography. However, it’s the third film of the three which I’ve always been most fascinated with, despite the fact it has been mostly forgotten on his somewhat impressive list of accomplishments. Never afraid to stick up for a film that most people seem to have just shrugged their shoulders about, I’m going to stand up for the not-quite-so-little-but-not-so-big-you’d-notice-him guy. I think that War of the Worlds is the best film Spielberg has directed in the last decade.

This invasion hasn't got three legs to stand on...

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Verdict on V: Needs More Lizards

Well, the first four episodes of V have aired now. It’ll be 2010 (March, I believe) before we see any further action on that front. It seems like a very long break if the show wants to retain its audience (we’re talking the bones of four/five months – a third of a year), but it probably makes sense since ABC decided to clean house behind the scenes. And – looking back over the first four episodes, it seems like a necessary decision. Despite the Obama-centric publicity which followed the first episode, I don’t think I’m alone in being a little bit disappointed with the initial run. Being honest, there are a whole rake of problems with the episodes that have aired, but these are typified by one thing that everyone I’ve been talking to over the past few weeks has observed: it needs more lizards.

I always found Diana oddly a-peeling

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