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Doctor Who: Dragonfire (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.

Dragonfire originally aired in 1987.

You’re going to go looking for the dragon?

Absolutely.

Oh, cool. Can I come too?

– Ace introduces herself to the Doctor smoothly

Dragonfire is better than Delta and the Bannermen, which is certainly damning with faint praise. Like the rest of Sylvester McCoy’s first season, Dragonfire suffers because of a gap between concept and execution. There is a wealth of good ideas here, but Dragonfire can’t seem to develop any of them to the point where they stand out. Of this troubled first season, it’s perhaps the serial where the conflict between the show’s old-fashioned production and more modern writing are thrown into sharpest contrast. Dragonfire looks like it wants to be a classic Doctor Who episode, even though it’s written like anything but.

"I'm melting!"

“I’m melting!”

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Non-Review Review: Tremors

Man, I love Tremors. I’m a professed B-movie geek who grew up on the particularly cheesy Wes Craven and John Carpenter films of the seventies and eighties, who has always harboured a soft spot for playful monster movies, so I reckon I’m the film’s target audience. Tremors is one of those affectionate throwbacks, those movies that don’t just aim to evoke a particular genre and time period (as The Expendables was a generis eighties action movie produced twenty-five years too later) so much as offer an up-to-date and self-aware reinvention of them (as Spielberg produced a thirties adventure serial with modern sensibilities in Raiders of the Lost Ark, or Rodriguez offered a brutally hilarious modern-day Mex-ploitation film in Machete). Tremors is basically a fifties B-movie produced with late eighties A-list talent and self-awareness.

The town's gone to ground...

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Non-Review Review: Anaconda

Anaconda is a B-movie. It’s not a homage to a B-movie, or a love letter to that type of film. It’s not a nostalgic throwback, or an attempt to capture some of the elements of those old cheesy productions. It actually is a B-movie. There’s no real attempt to execute the film in a manner that rises above those, or even captures that type of filmmaking at its best, it’s just a solid example of what a B-movie might look like, were it produced today. It’s hard to argue that Anaconda is a good film – and I’ll readily concede that it’s actively a badone – but there is some charm to be found it, if only from the way that all the hyper-trashy elements seem to come together in what appears to be a perfect storm of creature feature cheese.

I always had a crush on Jennifer Lopez...

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Tintin: The Crab With the Golden Claws (Review)

In the lead-up to the release of The Adventures of Tintin: The Secret of the Unicorn, I’m going to be taking a look at Hergé’s celebrated comic book character, from his humble beginnings through to the incomplete post-modern finale. I hope you enjoy the ride.

The Crab With the Golden Claws is the first of three Tintin stories that were used as the basis of Steven Spielberg’s upcoming The Adventures of Tintin: The Secret of the Unicorn (the other two being, obviously, The Secret of the Unicorn and its sequel, Red Rackham’s Treasure). The Crab With the Golden Claws was originally written during the Nazi occupation of Belgium, when Hergé feared that his then on-going storyline The Land of Black Gold would have proved too politically charged for the country’s new governing force. So the adventure was essentially written as filler, a bit of light entertainment to take the minds of his headers as far away from the political reality as possible. And it certainly succeeds as one of the lighter and brisker adventures in the series, with one major addition to the franchise’s mythos in the form of Captain Archibald Haddock.

This could be the start of a beautiful friendship...

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Non-Review Review: Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets

Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets works much better as an episodic collection of scenes than a single story. It’s prone to fluctuate between rather brilliant moments and a few misfires here and there. It definitely feels extremely childish, as if the studio was attempting to construct a G-rated Raiders of the Lost Ark, with the John Williams soundtrack adding to the effect, the set design of the eponymous chamber looking like some forgotten archeological tomb, and even Julian Glover being afforded a small cameo (okay, he was in Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, but the point stands). It’s strange to look back at the second instalment, after all that has unfolded since, and look at how much more juvenile and simplistic it all seems in retrospect.

Malfoy drives stick...

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The Sequel Myth and the Death of Originality in Hollywood…

It seems that every other day somebody is taking the opportunity be bemoan Hollywood’s creative bankruptcy. The decision not to press ahead with Del Toro’s version of The Mountains of Madness sparked a similar debate a little while ago, and the success of films like The Fast & The Furious Five seem to be raising the topic once again as we enter summer. It’s become something of a mantra for film fans, quietly chanted and repeated, something that we can use to continually bash the studios over the heads with. And, truth be told, I’m tired of it.

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Non-Review Review: Raiders of the Lost Ark

To “celebrate” the premiere of Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull (what’s to celebrate?), Sky Movies ran all three of the original movies back-to-back over the weekend. That’s a pretty good start to the weekend. I caught the first and third films, as well as rewatching the fourth. I’m going to try to catch Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom during the week. So, how do does the newly-formed tetralogy stand up?

"Doctor Jones, Doctor Jones... Calling Doctor Jones..."

"Doctor Jones, Doctor Jones... Calling Doctor Jones..."

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