Posts Tagged ‘commentary’

I kept the title basic enough, but you should know this post has SPOILERS, sweetie.

So. Peter Capaldi is going to be the new Doctor.

I think most of the world collectively said, “Who??” when they made the announcement, but he looked really familiar and it didn’t take me long to find out why. Peter Capaldi has been all over our TV and movie screens for years, it’s just that he’s usually a character actor. We see him all the time.

The reason I recognized him was from his role in The Hour, which is a BBC drama I love. He came on for the second series (it’s a mini series with six episodes per run) and was fantastic, fit right in with the rest of the cast. He’s known for other things, too, but I think the most entertaining is one of his most recent billings: as “W.H.O. Doctor” in World War Z.

Anyway, that’s enough of the summary, you can get more of that elsewhere. Here are my two cents about it.

I like the casting choice. The Doctor has been getting younger looking lately, and I think it’s about time we had an older actor in the role. It’ll be interesting to see him not as the “heartthrob” any more, but as the over 1000 year old guy he is. And I’m really hoping that with a new Doctor that the writers will maybe fix Clara’s character up a bit, too. It’s been known to happen, where the characters get a bit, well, edited between seasons. It even happened with the Seventh Doctor (and I liked him a LOT in his second season).

All of that being said, I know there are people very upset about Matt Smith’s departure from the show. My friends’ six year old daughter bawled her eyes out about it, channeling fan-girls everywhere, I suspect. The thing is, the actors who play the Doctor always change. That’s the point, if you will. And I’m interested to see where the show is going next.

I also can’t help but remember the heartbreak over David Tennant’s departure, and how people said they just couldn’t see Matt Smith as the Doctor because he wasn’t David Tennant. Well, we (almost) all grew to love Matt Smith’s Doctor, and I’m sure we’ll love the new one, too. The Whovians are all in this together, and I think it’s going to be exciting.

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If you haven’t seen this episode yet, just STOP. There are SPOILERS, sweetie!

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Now that I’ve seen the Doctor Who episode called “The Cold War,” I have some observations. They are below the cut because SPOILERS, sweetie.

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((SPOILER WARNING))

Tonight we saw Oz, the Great and Powerful, the new movie from Disney that is a prequel to The Wizard of Oz. Strange, perhaps, to release a prequel 74 years after the original movie, but maybe we needed this long for Oz to permeate our pop culture, and for us to be ready for another trip there.

Personally, I’ve never especially liked the original movie. I know, I know, it’s a Classic Film, but there are a handful that either I saw at the exact wrong time as a child or that have never held my interest. E.T. is one I’ve never liked because I had nightmares about the titular character jumping out of the very-familiar-pile-of-toys on my bed. He terrified me, and to this day I will not watch that movie. I suspect the Wizard of Oz falls into the latter category; it’s never been very interesting to me. I’ve always liked the first bit, with the tornado and landing in Oz and all, but somewhere around the poppy field I always get bored or distracted and never seem to finish.

All of that being said, I was actually looking forward to Oz, the Great and Powerful. It looked and sounded promising, and if nothing else it would be a relatively entertaining Disney jaunt. It was much better than that.

Things I liked about the movie included the conflict between the witches. I liked that Glenda wasn’t dumb, and that Theodora is a surprise of sorts. I knew since neither of those first two witches was named “Glenda” that we should be careful of them, but they didn’t seem all that bad really. Not until they needed to be properly wicked. I also liked the scenes when they flew through Oz itself, with the land (sometimes literally) unfolding beneath and around them. It was also, as J observed, a very good movie in which no one died.

The best parts were the nods to the original work, not just to the 1939 movie, but to the Oz books themselves. The circus at the beginning is “Baum’s Circus” and the girl-left-behind goes off to marry a John Gale, and I can only assume they are Dorothy’s parents. There is a lion called cowardly, and useful scarecrows, and other such things, but there are also Quadlings and Tinkers and people of Oz! I enjoyed that a lot.

Things I didn’t like included the parts that were obviously included for 3D. We saw it in 2D and it was bright and colorful and gorgeous, but there were certain parts (water fairies, I’m looking at you) that were only there for the sake of the 3D, and we had to wait patiently for those bits to be done as they tended to be slow (so as people watching in 3D could appreciate them, I suppose). I also didn’t like how quickly Theodora became a wicked witch. I thought she’d fight it a little more, that she would be more complicated and that she wouldn’t turn to complete wickedness just over a man. I wanted more depth from that character. Another note on her: Mila Kunis really got the Margaret Hamilton, Wicked Witch laugh down. It’s hard to fill those black, pointy shoes, but she did a pretty good job.

The most interesting part of watching the movie itself I’m not sure was even intentional. Maybe it was, but I’d have to see it again to be sure. At any rate, the movie opens in old-school, small frame black and white, and then opens into color when we arrive in Oz, just like the original. The interesting thing to me was that the movie was almost annoyingly quiet in the black and white portion. I was extremely aware that I was in a (very full) theater; people whispered, candy wrappers rustled, popcorn crunched… and then as we got to Oz and the picture expanded and the color turned on, the sound became encompassing and there we were. The more I think about it, the more I think this had to be on purpose. How else would a shift to color (and very saturated color at that) be such a big moment in the movie, unless the filmmakers could recreate the wonder of that Technicolor moment with a modern audience? So you aren’t fully immersed until you enter Oz. It’s very clever.

Overall it was a very enjoyable movie, and I recommend it to anyone, whether they need a kick of nostalgia or if they just want to see Oz in a new way.

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Because this is the new episode, all of my THOUGHTS will be after the page break. After all, SPOILERS, Sweetie.

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Last night I saw Jurassic Park in 3D.

The interesting thing (to me) about this movie is that I remember when it came out in theaters, but I never went to see it. Maybe because I wasn’t quite 11 and the movie was PG-13 (though, seeing it now, it’s a very tame PG-13 compared to current movies) or maybe because by the time I was nearly 11 I was over the dinosaurs thing and had moved on to horses, or maybe a little of both. At any rate, I remember this movie in the cultural landscape of, oh, fifth grade or so and what a big deal it was.

I also remember going to Universal Studios this past November and walking through the Jurassic Park section, and thinking how exciting it must have been when that bit of the park opened, and how much things have changed (with a comparison to, say, the Harry Potter section there now). It puts things into a cultural context where you can see things age.

All of that being said, it is important to know that I have never seen this movie, from start to finish, in its entirety until tonight. The only time I’ve seen it before was probably ten years ago, edited for TV on a tiny, square screen. Somehow the t-rex just doesn’t have the same impact in such a situation.

The movie absolutely withstands the test of time, apart from the obviously dated electronics (the theater audience all had a good laugh at the “interactive CD-ROM” in the Jeeps). The storytelling and pacing are still good, as are the visual effects, which really surprised me. There is no obvious green/blue screen, and I had no trouble buying into the humans interacting with the dinosaurs.

The 3D was some of the best I’ve seen, and I’ve seen a good bit. Most people complain about the “dimness” of the screen in 3D , or how the images look like cut-outs after conversion (like a diorama) but this movie doesn’t seem to suffer from either. The 3D was seamless from my perspective, and actually enhanced the movie– when I took off my glasses to squint at the “original” film on screen, the movie took on a dated look, but with the 3D it was like seeing something fresh. Which, of course, to me it mostly was, but I wasn’t aware that I was looking at a twenty-year-old film.

Besides all of that, it’s just a fun movie. It’s scary in all the right places, it’s got just the right amount of suspense, and a good sense of wonderment at the dinosaur sightings. I kept expecting the floor to shake with the t-rex’s footsteps.

So (if my opinion counts for anything) I completely recommend seeing this one in theaters. I know it’s expensive to see it in the 3D, but it’s a great experience and, I think, worth it.

And, for what it’s worth, now that I’ve seen the movie start to finish, the Jurassic Park section at Universal did a remarkable job recreating the Visitor Center.

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WARNING: Spoilers, Sweetie.

My thoughts on the first installment of the new Hobbit trilogy, after having seen it twice.

First, I’m not sure that the 3D added to my enjoyment of the movie, except that the scenery was more immersive. I enjoyed all of the New Zealand vistas, and getting to see both familiar and new locations. Some places looked familiar that probably weren’t quite the same, but that’s what you get filming in a single (gorgeous) country.

Second, the casting is really good. I was hesitant when I saw Thorin at first, since he doesn’t look quite dwarf-y enough to me, but I really like it given the rest of the plot.

And now to that plot… The added orcs, the added characters (Radagast), etc, are heavily drawn from (or inspired by) the descriptions of concurrent events and histories in the Appendices of Lord of the Rings and from the other writings of JRR Tolkien. I know some people (purists, I’d guess) have complained, but really I thought it was well done and took what would have been an episodic children’s story and turned it into something cinematic. 

Radagast was one of my favorite additions. He’s always been fascinating to me as a background character in LotR, and to see him actually realized (and so well done!) is really fun. He might be my favorite part. And who wouldn’t want a rabbit sled?

Finally, the main complaint I’ve seen is that the movie is entirely too similar to Fellowship of the Ring. And if you haven’t read the books, or if you don’t know why Tolkien wrote Fellowship, then it’s understandable. The thing is, The Hobbit was surprisingly successful. The publisher wanted a sequel, and so Tolkien tried to give them the text of what would become Silmarillion, his mythology that he’d been writing for Great Britain. The publisher didn’t want to deal with all of that, they wanted another episodic children’s book, so Tolkien tried again. He wrote about Bilbo having another adventure, then he wrote about Bilbo’s son (who no longer exists) and eventually it morphed into Bilbo’s cousin, Frodo. The story kept expanding, and became a blend of Hobbit-like plot with Silmarillion-like depth, and Lord of the Rings was the result. But if you keep in mind that each hobbit’s journey began with a trip toward Rivendell, and given that Fellowship began as a sequel, it’s no surprise that the two seem alike. The journeys are similar because they are moving from west to east, they encounter elves and goblins, and they must use their wits to survive in a scary world that’s in conflict.

At any rate, I thoroughly enjoyed the movie and can’t wait to see the next installment.

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