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A View to a Bond Baddie: Dr. Julius No

‘To celebrate James Bond’s 50th birthday on screen, we’re going to take a look at the character and his films. We’ve already reviewed all the classic movies, so we’ll be looking at his iconic baddies, and even at the character himself.

In many ways, Dr. No feels like a rather strange first instalment for a franchise that has managed to persist from half a century. Many of the trademarks we associate with the series are absent. There’s no pre-credits sequence. No powerful theme song involving the title of the film. Even the music playing over that iconic gun barrel shot sounds weird. There are no gadgets and gizmos, save for a Geiger Counter. The movie’s iconic Bond girl, Honey Rider, only shows up past the mid-point of the film.

As such, it’s amazing that the Bond villain emerged almost fully formed, with Dr. No providing perhaps the archetypal James Bond baddie.

He didn’t spend 6 years in evil physics school to be called “Mister”…

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Doctor Who: Dinosaurs on a Spaceship (Review)

You know when Amy and I first got married and we went travelling…

To Thailand?

More the entirety of space and time… in that Police Box.

– Rory and Brian Williams share some truths

There is a strange listlessness to the seventh season, despite its position on the cusp of the big anniversary year. In many ways, the seventh season feels awkwardly positioned between the “timey wimey” ambitiousness of the sixth season and the “new beginning” aesthetic of the eighth season. The fact that the seventh season is split in half doesn’t help matters; it feels like an epilogue to the story of Amy and Rory, and a prologue to the story of Clara. It feels very much like a “light” year, which is a strange way to head into a big anniversary celebration.

There is a curious sense of idleness to all this. There is, for example, no clear story that links both halves of the season – Jenna-Louise Coleman’s role in Asylum of the Daleks notwithstanding. The seventh season has no real purpose beyond clearing out the ensemble and building towards the anniversary. As a result, it can feel more than a little rudderless and indulgent. Steven Moffat has described the “blockbuster” aesthetic of the year, and long stretches of the season feel like the show is just doing stuff because it can.

Gone to the birds?

Give Amy and Rory a five-episode coda? Sure, why not! Actually shoot a western in a country that could pass for the United States? Go for it! It’s been a while since we’ve seen the Ice Warriors, hasn’t it? Throw them in there! Neil Gaiman wants to write a Cyberman episode? Ah, go on! Develop those quirky supporting characters from A Good Man Goes to War into a part of the show’s ensemble in Victorian London? It just makes sense! Richard E. Grant as a villain from two Second Doctor stories? We’d be crazy not to!

There is a sense that the seventh season is a victory lap for the show and many involved in the production. Deservedly so. What is the point of an anniversary year if you can’t go a little wild? That is the kind of thinking that leads to Dinosaurs on a Spaceship, a simple “because we can!” story. After all, one of the stock cringe-inducing Doctor Who images is the dinosaur special effects from Invasion of the Dinosaurs. What’s the point in turning the show into a hit if you can’t take an episode to prove how far your dinosaur effects have come in four decades?

Locking horns…

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Non-Review Review: The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen

The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen is a wasted opportunity. The superb graphic novels by Alan Moore are among the best that comics have to offer, and even the basic concept of picking a variety of public domain character to base an action adventure around has a sort of pulpy thrill to it. It could have been a very witty and a very clever film, or it could have just been an effective big-budget blockbuster. In the end, unfortunately, the film is neither – it ends up feeling more like a waste of effort for all involved.

I feel like shredding this film...

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The Absolute League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, Vol. II (Review)

I don’t think it’s really fair to split up The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen into two separate volumes. I’d argue that they are instead two halves of the same tale. It’s to the credit of this second storyline that it doesn’t feel like a sequel to the original – it feels like the second half of a circle, closing it out.

Out of this world!

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The Absolute League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, Vol. I (Review)

The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen is, like most works from writer Alan Moore, a strange beast. Essentially a pulp comic book narrative banding together several iconic fictional characters from Victorian fiction (Allan Quartermain, Mina Murray, Captain Nemo, Hawley Griffin and Edward Jekyll form the main cast), the series is much more than that. Cleverly and insidious cross-referencing and weaving its way through a slew of existing fictional and non-fictional elements. I spent as much time googling a rake of obscure and semi-obscure names and events and locations, all tying back to the great authors at the turn of the last century. How ironic that a pulpy Victorian tale would be perhaps the first classic of the internet age.

Nothing to Hyde...

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Alan Moore’s Run on Swamp Thing – Saga of the Swamp Thing (Books #1-2)

Before Alan Moore was the superstar writer of The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, V For Vendetta, Watchmen or even From Hell, he was a writer at DC Comics. While he wrote some truly fantastic Superman stories (collected in the well recommended deluxe edition of Whatever Happened to the Man of Tomorrow?), he was most famously associated with a run on Swamp Thing. When he took over writing duties on the title, Swamp Thing was a series on the verge of cancellation. Which meant that he had a huge amount of freedom to work on the title, with the capacity to do just about anything he wanted.

It isn't swamped with continuity...

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Non-Review Review: Watchmen (Theatrical Cut)

Probably the best we could have hoped for. Which is a guarded compliment at best. The movie has several gaping flaws, both as an adaptation of Alan Moore’s seminal work and also as a film in its own right. And yet it contains more interesting ideas than most prestige dramas, and at least two standout performances. The film is widely inconsistent, sometimes feeling too long in its gratuitous acton or sex scenes, but too short on the actual big ideas that make it thought-provoking. Ultimately, what ties the film down is also what props it up, in a manner: the fact that it is based on one of the most important books of the last quarter century.

Just the three of us...

Just the three of us...

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