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Doctor Who: Daleks in Manhattan (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.

Daleks in Manhattan originally aired in 2007.

We must evolve! Evolve! Evolve!

– Dalek Sec has perhaps the most out-of-character moment for a Dalek ever

The concept of Daleks in the past is a great idea. However, with the exception of Evil of the Daleks, it is also a bit of a tricky one. Steven Moffat found that out with the first Dalek story of his tenure, Victory of the Daleks, bringing the Daleks to the Second World War. However, Russell T. Davies tried telling a Dalek story set in the past as part of the show’s third season. The Parting of the Ways had featured a Dalek story set in the future, while Doomsday saw the fiends lay siege to modern-day London. Placing the Daleks in 1930s New York seems a staggeringly ambitious proposition.

It's a hell of a town...

It’s a hell of a town…

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Doctor Who: The Angels Take Manhattan (Review)

The decision to build Steven Moffat’s third season of Doctor Who around a series of done-in-one stories has been a bit of a mixed blessing. Asylum of the Daleks was suitably madcap Saturday tea-time telly, and A Town Called Mercy was an affectionate homage to Americana, but Dinosaurs on a Spaceship barely had room to breath, overloaded on cool moments with little room left for plotting.

The Angels Take Manhattan suffers the most from this sense that it is being compacted. Watching the episode, it feels like Moffat is trying to cram too much story into a single forty-five minute episode. It makes the viewer long for the days when Russell T. Davies would gleefully run his episodes over the allocated forty-five minute slot. Here, Moffat’s big high-concept “timey wimey” ideas and his farewell to his two companions eating up so much of the run-time that the plot itself still feels like an afterthought, running on contrivance and coincidence rather than anything more substantial.

That doesn’t mean it isn’t an affective farewell to Rory and Amy, or that it doesn’t draw fantastic performances from its central quartet, but it does mean that The Angels Take Manhattan is never quite as sturdy as it should have been.

A walk in the park…

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Non-Review Review: Premium Rush

This movie was seen as part of Movie Fest, which was as much of a joy this year as it was last year. If not moreso.

Although a tad over-written and a little awkward in places, Premium Rush is a diverting high concept chase thriller that actually manages to produce something just a little unique. Set within the high-octane world of New York couriers, it sees our lead character racing to make a 7pm deadline while dealing with a whole host of problems. Much like the title character, the movie is at its best when it’s moving – zig-zagging and free-wheeling at a decent enough pace that the flaws fade away. However, it runs into a bit of bother when it tries to slow things down a bit. Still, it’s an entertaining city thriller.

Wheeler dealers?

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Non-Review Review: Sleeper

Sleeper is an enjoyable Woody Allen film, coming from relatively early in the director’s career. He had yet to direct either Annie Hall or Manhattan, arguably his two most popular works, but was coming off a string of well-regarded movies. Sleeper is an affectionate look at many of the science-fiction movies that Hollywood was producing in the late sixties and early seventies, to the point that Allen himself actually sat down with Isaac Asimov to make sure the science-fiction elements of the script were kosher. However, Sleeper is remarkably fluid, allowing room within that framework for Allen to really explore any and all ideas that might possibly have occurred to him. The result is, to borrow a quote from the poster, a highly enjoyable and almost whimsical “nostalgic look at the future.”

Robot in disguise…

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Non-Review Review: Man on a Ledge

I was at the launch of the Jameson Film Fest last night, so Ciaran bravely jumped in to review Man on a Ledge for me. What a ledge(nd).

Man on a Ledge has a fairly simple premise. Nick Cassidy (Sam Worthington), a former policeman, is pushed to the ledge of a Manhattan hotel in an attempt to clear his name after he was convicted of stealing a 40M$ diamond from David Englander (Ed Harris), a well established real estate investor. Nick demands to talk to officer Lydia Nercer (Elizabeth Banks), who was unsuccessful in her last negotiation with a suicidal cop, in order to form a large crowding the street below. This crowd acts as a distraction while Nicks brother, Joey (Jamie Bell), and Joey’s girlfriend Angie (Genesis Rodriguez) break into one of David Eglander’s buildings, which is located across the road. The plan is to steal the diamond and prove Nick’s innocence.

Exactly what it says on the tin...

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Right In Time: Are Some Concepts Just Too Silly For Movies?

I think it’s happened to all of us at some point. We see a poster for a film, or the start of a trailer that looks fascinating – all the right talent is involved to grab our attention, the technical stuff looks well-executed, it’s stylish and smart… and then we catch the plot of the film. It’s a plot that kind of makes us pause, drawing an almost unconscious, “huh?” from our collective lips. Maybe we read it twice to try to make some sense out of it, but there’s no joy. It still sounds as absolutely and impossibly silly as it did when we first read of the plot. It has happened to me quite a few times over the years, as I’ve found myself wondering how the hell such a concept could work on the big screen. I’ll confess, it happened when I read the plot summary for In Time, directed by Andrew Niccol, which drew this appropriate response

More at The Shiznit...

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Non-Review Review: Staten Island

Staten Island is a convoluted little film that seems to shameless emulate several anthology films, with the most obvious influence being seen in Quentin Tarantino’s Pulp Fiction, borrowing the device of telling three interlocking but distinct stories set in different timeframes relating to the same bunch of characters. Still, that’s not necessarily a reason to dislike the film, which manages to offer an interesting, if not comparable, set of tales. James DeMonaco probably should have realised that borrowing so heavily from a classic film sets a ridiculously high standard, and one the movie falls far short of reaching. Still, there are moments where the film does work, even if they seem evenly-spaced with awkward and pointless sequences.

One psychotic mobster, sitting in a tree...

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