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The X-Files – Release (Review)

This December, we’re taking a trip back in time to review the ninth season of The X-Files.

Release is a breath of fresh air.

There are problems with the episode, serious problems. The plotting is incredibly loose, with Release relying upon a series of incredible contrivances even once you get past the supernaturally-gifted crime-solver who only joined the FBI so he could solve a murder that happens to connect back to Luke Doggett. At best, Release is clumsy and inelegant. At worst, it makes absolutely no sense. More than that, there is the question of whether or not the episode is actually necessary. Does The X-Files actually need to resolve the murder of Luke Doggett?

Picture perfect...

Picture perfect…

These are fairly sizable and fundamental problems. There is no getting around them. However, Release offsets those problems by being a spectacularly-produced piece of television. Everything works, from Robert Patrick’s performance to Mark Snow’s piano-heavy score to Kim Manner’s stylised direction. Release is a reminder of just how sleek and well-oiled The X-Files could be. That is quite a relief after the triple whammy of Scary Monsters, Jump the Shark and William. Release is a good episode on its own terms; in context, it is a masterpiece.

It also helps that Release feels like the first attempt to give the show actual material closure since Improbable. That closure is thematic rather than literal, with the mystery of Luke Doggett’s death serving as a vehicle through which the show might finally resolve some of its own lingering threads. In the case of Release, the show is tidying away the strands that have been woven into the fabric of The X-Files from the beginning; strands that paid homage to Silence of the Lambs and gave birth to Millennium. Release bids farewell to the forensic side of The X-Files.

The old man and the sea...

The old man and the sea…

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Re-Release Me… Let Me Go… Hollywood and Re-Releases…

So, yep. It’s a bad time for the US box office. The Lion King, a movie first released in 1994, managed to hold on to the number one spot at the top of the charts for two whole weeks, and ranking higher than any new release in its third week. If anything, the major movie studios have been very quick to jump on any trend that offers even the slightest hint of a money-making opportunity. It’s a trend one can easily see from the way that Hollywood pursues ideas. After Harry Potter was a breakout hit, every studio in town was looking for a young adult franchise to adapt to the big screen. After The Dark Knight, it became customary to plan for the superhero sequel before the original even hit theatres. It’s a trend even more obvious with technological gimmicks. After Christopher Nolan proved that you could make money in Imax, it seemed every other movie was being released in the format (even if it didn’t warrant it). Avatar led to a wave of 3D releases, which seemed to be growing old fast. So the success of a film originally released nearly two decades ago in the cinema, remastered in 3D, is pretty much assured to be the next big thing.

I'd be lion if I didn't admit I want to see it...

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When Cinemas Strike Back…

Hmm… I knew there wasn’t good news on the horizon when Disney announced they were steamrolling ahead with their plan to truncate the cinematic run of Tim Burton’s upcoming Alice in Wonderland adaptation. Obviously driven by the home entertainment market (and the fact that parents would be look for distractions for the kids as the summer holidays approach), they want to release the DVD 12 weeks after the movie premieres, rather than the standard 17 weeks. As you can imagine, this has ticked off the cinemas who make more money the later into a film’s release you see it, so it looks like we may have a boycott – in the UK at least. 95% of 3D screens may not be showing it. Including Cineworld, the largest cinema in Dublin.

Through the looking glass but not necessarily on the big screen...

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