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Doctor Who: Flux – Chapter One: The Halloween Apocalypse (Review)

“You know, Yaz. I can’t help but feel like some of this is my fault.”

In the lead-up to the broadcast of Doctor Who: Flux, there was some debate about the marketting of the series.

After all, it seemed like fans knew more about the distant fourteenth season of the revival than they did about the looming thirteenth season. Information about Chibnall’s third season tended to escape into the wild rather than derive from a single coherent source. Former showrunner Steven Moffat seemed to (accidentally) confirm that the Weeping Angels were appearing. Part of the publicity campaign for Flux involved deleting the show’s social media presence. The first trailer was released only three weeks before the premiere. In interviews, Chibnall openly worried about “giving too much away.”

Dogged pursuit.

In some ways, this is typical of the larger Chibnall era. After all, Chibnall took great pride in seeding the phrase “the Timeless Child” in The Ghost Monument, only to eventually pay it off with twenty minutes of expository flashbacks in The Timeless Children. The Chibnall era is very plot-focused, which means that it is paranoid of potential spoilers, and it is reasonable to wonder whether that paranoia makes it harder to sell the show to the general public. For a sprawling six-part epic built around one of the BBC’s flagship properties, Flux seemed to fly in under the radar.

Then again, this makes a certain amount of sense watching The Halloween Apocalypse. The season premiere doesn’t really feel like an episode of television, at least not in the traditional sense. There is a relatively minor self-contained plot within the episode focusing on Karvanista and Dan, which is neatly wrapped up within the episode proper. However, that is just one thread of a story that cuts frantically from one thread to another, introducing a host of set-ups that promise the possibility and the potential of chaos.

Tracing an outline of the season ahead.

This is itself pure and unfiltered Chris Chibnall. It is the ultimate acceleration and culmination of the style that he adopted in The Woman Who Fell to Earth. Inheriting the series from Russell T. Davies and Steven Moffat, Chibnall was a writer who lacked his predecessors’ skill with character and dialogue. Watching The Woman Who Fell to Earth, it seemed like Chibnall’s solution to this problem was to ensure that there was always something to cut away to – that he could get into and out of scenes quickly, to distract from the fact that his dialogue and characters felt rather generic.

The Halloween Apocalypse takes that idea to its logical extreme. It introduces a variety of disparate and disconnected elements that are presented as a series of mystery boxes, hoping that the audience will be enticed enough to keep watching – the Swarm and his history with the Doctor, the transformed Azure, the mysterious Vinder, Claire who appears to be from the Doctor’s past and/or future, the Sontaran invasion fleet, the mysterious excavations in 1820. None of these elements get any pay-off, or even development. Instead, they are simply spinning plates positioned for the rest of the six-episode arc.

With that in mind, the marketting strategy makes a great deal more sense. Why would Flux need heavy advertising, if the first episode was essentially a fifty-minute trailer?

Being a little cagey about spoilers.

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Watch! Terminator Genisys Trailer!

Well, I guess Dawn of the Planet of the Apes demonstrated that Jason Clarke is the guy you go to for your post-apocalyptic franchise films.

To be fair, Terminator films not directed by James Cameron feel like a risky proposition – it feels like so much of the first two films was tied up in Cameron, that any subsequent attempt is imitation rather than innovation. It is, perhaps, quite telling that the most surreal sequences in the new trailer for Terminator: Genisys featured a version of the T-1000 not played by Robert Patrick.

And, nevertheless, there is something interesting here. A story about how time travel has muddled and muddied a narrative universe so much that the story seems to reboot and remix itself feels like a self-aware take on the contemporary fascination with reworking and retooling classic franchises. Terminator: Genisys looks like a self-aware cocktail of the most iconic bits and pieces of the first two Terminator films.

That self-awareness could be the key; after all, trying to mimic James Cameron feels like a fool’s errand. However, a more playful approach just might work. Terminator: Genisys probably has an uphill battle ahead of it, but this trailer’s not a bad start.

Watch! The Wolverine Trailer!

I’ve been a bit less than impressed with the publicity work for The Wolverine. A trailer for a trailer? Exclusive teaser footage released via two avenues? It just seems a little counter-productive and more frustrating than intriguing. Following the reaction to both X-Men III and X-Men: Origins – Wolverine, you’d think that the trick would be to offer as much proof that things had turned around as possible, and as quickly as possible. Suspense works if we’re already sold. It doesn’t work if we’re more cautious than curious.

And I say that with a hint of optimism for The Wolverine. I actually quite like James Mangold. I even sort of enjoyed Knight and Day, probably much more than I should have. Hugh Jackman is charming enough you can forgive him anything. And the movie is based on the character’s defining solo story. Plus, you know, the trailer looks to borrow that pulpy charm of inserting Wolverine into popular history (in this case, World War II), which as much Wolverine’s mutant superpower as healing or claws. So I’m still on board.

Anyway, check out the trailer below and let me know what you think.

Watch! New Star Trek: Into Darkness Trailer!

I’m pretty excited for the upcoming Star Trek: Into Darkness, especially since it’s now releasing a week earlier in the UK and Ireland. Anyway, there’s a new trailer released, which continues the trend of telling us absolutely nothing about the film while teasing the sense of fun and character dynamics that we all know and love. Check out the trailer below.

Watch! Iron Man 3 Trailer!

Disney have released the first Iron Man 3 trailer. Check it out below and let me know what you think.

Watch! The Trailer for The Man With The Iron Fists…

Universal Pictures Ireland sent over the trailer for Russell Crowe’s next film, The Man With the Iron Fists, written, directed and starring RZA. It looks interesting, at the very least, and there’s certainly a fascinating cast assembled for the film, including Pam Grier and Lucy Liu. With Eli Roth collaborating with RZA on the script, I’m hoping for a pulpy action film. Let me know what you think.

Watch! Spielberg’s Lincoln Trailer…

The first full trailer for Spielberg’s Lincoln has appeared on line. I have to admit, I’m looking forward to this one. I actually liked his two films from last year much mroe than most – while neither came that close to making the end-of-year best-of list, I thought they were solid pieces of film-making for what they were. I’m hoping for a bit more from Lincoln, and I guess time will tell, but Daniel Day Lewis looks an inspired choice.

Let me know what you think.

New Dark Knight Rises Trailer

Man, it is taking enormous self-restraint not to look at every single one of the TV spots being released for The Dark Knight Rises. With less than a month to go, I think I’m doing quite well, limiting myself to these larger trailers. Anyway, here’s the latest two-minute look at the film. It’s more action-packed than the last couple, and it has a lot more humour. (I’ve always felt that people overplay the seriousness of Nolan’s Batman films – yes, they are quite heavy, but they don’t take themselves too seriously.) And, I feel like an idiot, but I just got that “what are you?” and “I’m Gotham’s reckoning” are a conscious call back to “what are you?” and “I am Batman” from Batman Begins. D’oh.

Just Not My Hype of Thing: Countdown to Teaser Trailers, Hype Build-Up and Other Pre-Release Concerns…

There is a tendency to romanticise the past, to engage in nostalgia for an era that never really was. Still, I can’t help but wonder if the internet has been a bit of a mixed blessing for movie fans looking forward to the next big Hollywood release. Sure, it’s full of commentaries and interviews and trailers. Occasionally, a film like Tron: Legacy or The Dark Knight will do something utterly wonderful to grab the attention of various film fans. However, it also feels, sometimes, that there’s a conscious attempt to push the hype machine into overdrive. I have no problem with anticipation, but I think making a teaser trailer for an actual trailer or even staging a countdown to a release date of a trailer might be a bit much, even to me.

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Prometheus Second Trailer (& International Trailer)

How far would you go to get your answers? What would you be willing to do?

– David

Ridley Scott’s Prometheus is getting gradually closer and the mystery seems to be unfolding a bit. These two trailers give a bit more background information on his latest science-fiction epic, and even hint at the possible link to Alien that the direct (and his cast and crew) have been so coy about. Those wishing to go in completely blind might want to skip them, but they can only raise anticipation. My own anticipation can’t get much higher. It’s my third most anticipated movie of the year (behind The Dark Knight Rises and Django Unchained), so it can’t climb too much further.

Anyway, here’s the second American trailer:

And here’s the international trailer which is a bit slower but has a bit more back story: