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October 30th, 2014 Movie – Dalekmania

dalekmania

Hah. This is probably going to be one of the shortest reviews I will ever do. So when I bought the Doctor Who film set, it also came with this documentary. The documentary focused a little bit on the films backstory as well as the popularity of the Daleks back in the 60’s. It was interesting to hear about how and why they decided to make these films. It also amazed me how much some of the original Dalek/Dr. Who merchandise goes for now. Actually, it doesn’t surprise me considering what I have seen some Transformers going for.

So if you are a fan of Doctor Who, this might be worth watching. But it most likely isn’t for everyone.

Rating: 2 1/2 out of 5

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October 29th, 2014 Movie – Dalek’s Invasion Earth 2150 A.D.

daleks invasion earth 2150 ad

I learned a long time ago that I have a pretty active and strange imagination. I am quite all right with that because the majority of the ideas in my head are entertaining, at least to me. Take today’s movie for instance. When I saw this movie, I started imagining what the thought process for making this movie was like, which was something like this. “Hey, we should do another Doctor Who movie.” “Are you serious? The first one did ok in England but was did pretty poorly in the states.” “It will be fine. We will just do another movie with the Daleks. People like them so they will go see the new one. Quick, what’s another story arc featuring the Daleks?” “There’s the one where they invade the Earth in the future.” “Perfect. Let’s do that one.” And thus, we are given Dalek’s Invasion Earth 2150 A.D.

The plot: Police constable Tom Campbell is struck over the head during a jewel heist and manages to stumble into what he thinks is a police call box but is actually the T.A.R.D.I.S. Doctor Who, his niece Louise, and his granddaughter Susan, decide to take Tom with them as they go to visit Earth in the year 2150. When they get there, they find London is a deserted city full of demolished buildings and being patrolled by people in strange uniforms. When the Doctor and Tom are captured, they learn that the Daleks are behind all of this and that they have some sort of plan involving a mine outside the city. The Doctor and his companions must find a way to stop the Dalek’s plan and free the slaves at the mine.

Well, I will say that this was better than the first film, but that isn’t saying much. I am curious about what happened with his other granddaughter Barbara from the first film and where his niece came from. I think Peter Cushing did a better job in this film than he did in the first. The effects were about the same as the previous movie. The one thing I found funny about this movie is Bernard Cribbins role. Fans of the recent Doctor Who series will recognize him as Wilfred Mott, Donna Noble’s grandfather. Bernard managed to face the Dalek’s twice as the companion to two different Doctors, albeit his first appearance is not considered canon. In this movie, he was generally used for comic relief. The scene where he is pretending to be one of the Robomen and is mimicking their actions as they eat was pretty funny.

While I still think you would be better off watching the original TV serial, this movie is marginally better than the first one. At least you won’t get annoyed by lousy make-up on the actors.

Rating: 2 out of 5

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October 28th, 2014 Movie – Doctor Who And The Daleks

doctor who and the daleks

Today’s movie may or may not piss off some of the Whovians out there. So what happens when you take a landmark serial from an iconic TV show, and condense it to an 80 minute movie? You get this watered down version of a classic story arc. Filmed in both color and widescreen and using different actors, the movie is not intended to be a part of the normal Dr. Who TV storyline. Thus we have today’s movie, Doctor Who And The Daleks.

The plot: A scientist named Dr. Who is relaxing at home with his granddaughters Barbara and Susan when they receive a visit from Susan’s boyfriend, Ian. Dr. Who uses this visit to show off his latest invention, the T.A.R.D.I.S. When Ian accidentally presses a lever, they find themselves transported to an alien planet. Investigating a nearby city, the travelers are taken captive by a race of aliens called Daleks. With the aid of a peaceful race of people known as Thals, the four earthlings must find a way to escape the Daleks and put a stop to the Dalek’s plan to destroy the Thals.

Let’s face it, I am going to compare/contrast this movie and the TV episodes it was based on so let’s just include that in my what I like and don’t like about this movie. I did like that it was in color. Also, Peter Cushing was pretty good in his portrayal of the lead character. Ok. Now for what I didn’t like. They completely rewrote the character of the Doctor. The character was introduced in 1963 as an alien time traveler from the planet Gallifrey who traveled to Earth with his granddaughter Susan in their T.A.R.D.I.S. His name is never revealed and he is referred to only as The Doctor. In the movie, he is a human scientist named Doctor Who, he lives with his two granddaughters, Barbara and Susan, and he built the T.A.R.D.I.S. Now I don’t mind a movie made of some TV episodes but at the very least, they could have kept the damn origin the same. I didn’t mind that they made Barbara his granddaughter in the movie or Ian her boyfriend (in the TV show they were both teachers that taught at the same school that Susan attended) as that had little influence on the plot. Another problem I had was with the Daleks voices. In the TV show, the lights on the top of the Dalek’s heads would flash with every word they spoke. In the movie, they flashed at random intervals. This made some of the dialogue seem even more robotic and staccato sounding than it normally would have sounded. For a major film, I expected a little better as far as the set and special effects go but they all seemed rather plain.

So if you are a fan of Doctor Who, you might enjoy this. But honestly, you would be better off watching the original serial.

Rating: 2 out of 5

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October 27th, 2014 Movie – Dr. Tarr’s Torture Dungeon (aka The Mansion Of Madness)

dr. tarrs torture dungeon

Man, I am surprised by the movies I have. Most of them are movies I intentionally bought. But some of the movies I own are movies that I never heard of but are part of a collection of movies. Those movies are always interesting to watch. Some have been surprisingly good, while others have been fairly bad. Today’s movie is….interesting, to say the least. From the Chilling Classics movie pack, today I watched Dr. Tarr’s Torture Dungeon.

The plot: Gaston Leblanc has recently graduated from the school of journalism and is returning to his homeland of France to do a story on a asylum with an unusual practice. The asylum run by Dr. Maillard has been utilizing a “soothing method”, meaning they allow the inmates to run free, which has been causing quite a stir in the medical community. When Gaston arrives, he discovers that the inmates have actually taken over the asylum and locked away all of the doctors and staff in the dungeons. Now Gaston must find a way to escape the asylum, before he finds himself a permanent guest.

Based on a short story by Edgar Alan Poe, this was a confusing, but decent movie to watch. Claudio Brook, who played the fake Dr. Maillard and leader of the inmates, was really good in his role. He did an excellent job of switching back and forth from a scholarly sounding doctor and a madman. Arthur Hansel (Gaston) was okay in his role but simply looked to old to have just graduated (I know it is only a movie but I am sure they could have at least cast someone that looked younger than this guy). The plot was simplistic enough but there was a lot of things going on at the beginning of the movie that can be distracting. It’s not until about halfway through the movie that things start coming into focus, plot wise. Still, once you tough it out, the movie goes from confusing to entertaining, with a couple of loose ends being cleared up.

We have all heard the phrase “the inmates are running the asylum.” Here is a film that shows just that.

Rating: 2 1/2 out of 5

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Flashback Review: January 17th, 2014 Movie – 007: Goldeneye

007 goldeneye

In 1995, there were a lot of changes that occurred in the Bond universe. The end of the Soviet Union meant an end to the standard enemy that Bond dealt with for most of his career. We also had a new Bond as Pierce Brosnan took over the role, a role he should have had 8 years earlier. But the most noteworthy thing about the new Bond movie was that we would have a new M and, as pointed out several times throughout the movie, M is now a woman. All of these things made today’s movie, Goldeneye, one of the must see movies in the fall of ’95.

The plot: In 1986, MI6 Agents James Bond & Alec Trevelyan are sent to destroy a Soviet chemical weapons plant. 006 winds up being captured and killed by Colonel Ourumov but Bond manages to detonate his explosives and escape. 9 years later, Bond is investigating the movements of a criminal group known as Janus. When Janus steals an experimental helicopter, which they use to attack a Russian installation housing a satellite weapons system, Bond heads to Russia to try and meet up with Janus. When he meets Janus, Bond realizes that it is really his old partner Alec. Now Bond, along with satellite programmer Natalya Simonova, Bond must stop Alec before he unleashes the Goldeneye weapon on London.

Quick history lesson. When work was started on The Living Daylights, Pierce Brosnan was one of the three men in the lead to take over the role. There were even promotion poster of him for the upcoming movie. But on the last day possible, NBC decided to renew Remington Steele for a final season, thus costing Brosnan the role of Bond (and also costing Stephanie Zimbalist a role in Robocop). So how eager were people for a new Bond movie? With an earning of $350 million worldwide, it was the 4th highest grossing film of 1995 and the highest grossing Bond film since Moonraker. Critics were mostly positive with the film, praising both Brosnan’s performance and the interaction with he had with Judi Dench (M).

This was such an entertaining Bond movie. Pierce Brosnan did a great job as Bond, able to bring back some of the sophistication to the character that had been lack in the past few films. I liked the idea of Judi Dench as M and thought her calling out Bond as a “sexist, mysoginist dinosaur” was funny because, to an extent, it is true. Sean Bean was a great call for the villain and Famke Jansen’s character of Xenia Onatopp made for a much better female henchman/killer than in any previous film. The action scenes were a bit predictable at times but they didn’t fail to provide some entertainment, such as the tank chase scene. All in all, this definitely ranks as one of the better Bond films of the series.

So if you want to see how the new Bond deals with the end of the Cold War, definitely watch this film.

Rating: 4 out of 5

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October 26th, 2014 Movie – Dr. Strangelove Or: How I Learned To Stop Worrying And Love The Bomb

dr strangelove

The phrase “timeless classic” gets tossed around so much that it can sometimes lose it’s meaning. It seems like almost every movie that comes out in recent years get’s branded as a “timeless classic” or “instant classic” before it is even in theaters. To truly be a “timeless classic”, it means that the movie can withstand the test of time, that it has the same impact now as it did when it first came out. I don’t usually use the phrase “timeless classic” very often but today’s movie, Dr. Strangelove, can definitely be considered on such movie.

The plot: Jack D. Ripper, a paranoid general in command of Burpelson Air Force Base, has ordered an unauthorized first stike on Russia. Being the only person with the recall codes, Ripper orders the base on lockdown and all outside communication to be severed. While the planes head towards their targets, the president and his cabinet try to find a way to stop the attack from happening. The problem is compounded by the news that the Russians have a doomsday device that will activate if any nuclear strike occurs on their country and will encircle the Earth in a radioactive cloud, killing all life on the planet. After a fierce battle at Burpelson, where Ripper kills himself, the code is recovered and the planes are called back, except for one plane, whose radio was damaged, and still on course to start a nuclear war.

This is British-American dark comedy is definitely one of the greatest comedies of all time. It has a 100% fresh rating on Rotten Tomatoes (how many comedies can boast that). In 1989, it was among the first group of films selected for preservation in the National Film Registry. It was ranked # 3 in the AFI’s 100 Years, 100 Laughs list and # 39 in the AFI’s 100 Years, 100 Movies list. Strangelove has also been parodied in numerous shows and comedies. It was nominated for 4 Academy Awards including Best Picture and Best Director. This just shows what an impact this movie has had.

I love dark comedies because they make you think about the jokes instead of just your typical slapstick comedy situations. And I love Dr. Strangelove. It is probably one of the best political satires ever written. Released during the height of the Cold War, it did a great job of playing on everyone’s paranoia about a Russian attack and nuclear war, while at the same time, making light of the situation so that the audience wouldn’t take it too seriously. A lot of the jokes are subtle, like a play on words concerning Strangelove’s name. Some are situational, such as a bunch of soldiers fighting in front of a billboard that reads “Peace is our Profession”. Peter Sellers was good in his multiple roles as Dr. Strangelove, President Merkin Muffley, and Captain Lionel Mandrake. Slim Pickens, as Major T.J. “King” Kong, has arguable one of the most memorable and iconic scenes in movie history. The scene with him riding a nuclear bomb like a bronco, while clutching his cowboy hat and yelling, is one of those scenes that everyone recognizes, even if they have not seen the movie before.

So if you want to see one of the greatest comedies of all time, then definitely watch this movie.

Rating: 5 out of 5

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October 25th, 2014 Movie – Doctor Strange (2007)

doctor strange (2007)

When it comes to comic books, while the live action movies are entertaining, I have always enjoyed the animated movies more. After all, since the original medium is a bunch of drawings, they just seem to translate better as a cartoon, in all seriousness, like the pages came to life. However, an animated movie can suffer from the same fate as normal movies. If the story isn’t good, then the movie has less of a chance of being good. It is a shame that this happened with this movie because if any comic book could have been turned into a good animated movie, Doctor Strange is one of them.

The Plot: Stephen Strange is a gifted but arrogant neurosurgeon but an car accident crushes his hands to the point that he lost the fine motor skills needed for surgery. Wasting all of his money on treatments that were useless and depressed to the point of suicide, Strange heads to Tibet for one last chance at the healing he wants. There he meets with The Ancient One, who not only helps Strange heal, but also realize there is a world of magic, which he is becoming a part of. When The Ancient One dies protecting Earth from a monstrous, other dimensional demon, Strange must assume the mantle of Sorcerer Supreme and defend the Earth from the evil force.

In the mid 2000’s, Marvel studios started releasing some direct to DVD animated movies. Doctor Strange was the 4th film that they released. I thought the animation was really well done. They did a better job of keeping to the origin shown in the comics than the 1978 TV movie did. However, the problem I had was that they tried turning Doctor Strange into some sort of sword weilding martial artist instead of the bad ass Sorcerer Supreme he was meant to be. Instead of being able to cast the awesome spells he did in the comics, such as the Flames of the Faltine, the Crimson Bands of Cyttorak, the Winds of Watoomb, etc, we have him conjuring up a sword and training on how to sword fight. There was a bit of magic use in the fight with the demon, but overall, this movie was a let down on that end.

So while it was not a great movie, it was entertaining (which is what a movie should be anyways) and worth a watch.

Rating: 3 out of 5

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October 24th, 2014 Movie – Doctor Strange (1978)

doctor strange (1978)

You have to wonder if people look back at a project and think “what the hell were we thinking?” With the upcoming Doctor Strange movie as a part of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, there are probably a couple of people in the Marvel offices that are thinking just that when it comes to this little 70’s gem. I first saw this years ago late at night on WGN, but fell asleep before the movie was over. I never saw it on TV again and could never find it for sale or rent. Over the years, I would think to look for it on occasion but then would get sidetracked so it wasn’t until this year that I finally manged to obtain Doctor Strange.

The plot: 500 years ago, a sorcerer named Thomas Lindmer defeated Morgan Le Fay and prevented her master, a demon called The Nameless One, from gaining access to the Earth. Now Morgan is back to try and kill the sorcerer or, failing that, kill the person destined to be Lindmer’s successor. Morgan takes control of a young girl named Clea and uses her to try and kill Lindmer, but he manages to survive. Clea is plagued by nightmares about what happens and winds up in the hospital, where she meets a psychiatrist named Stephen Strange. Stephen thinks there is something odd concerning Clea’s problem, especially after he winds up sharing a dream that Clea was having. Lindmer meets with Stephen and tells him what is happening and how Stephen is the only one that can stop it, forcing Stephen to make a choice on whether he can accept that the strange happenings are real.

Wow. This is such a 70’s movie, and I don’t know if that it a good thing or a bad thing. This movie was full of costumes from a disco nightmare and lots of flashy energy blasts. Peter Hooten did look the part but his acting left a lot to be desired. Actually, the acting was pretty bad all around in this movie. As for the story itself, parts of it were ok and parts of it drove me crazy. I liked Morgan Le Fey being the main villain in this movie. Not only is she one of the most famous sorceresses in literature, she is also a legitimate villain in the Doctor Strange comics. They also included Wong and Clea, who are also regular characters in the comics. The main gripe I had with this movie was that they changed the origin for Stephen Strange. I enjoy when movies are made out of comics but some things shouldn’t be changed. Superman came to Earth as a baby from Krypton. Bruce Wayne’s parent’s were murdered when he was a kid and he devoted his life to justice and became Batman. Spider-Man’s uncle was killed and when he caught the man responsible and realized it was a crook that he could have stopped earlier, his guilt cause him to attempt to stop crimes instead of seeking fame. These are comic origins that are as deeply ingrained into pop-culture as well as comic history. Just because Doctor Strange isn’t as well known of a comic doesn’t mean you should change his origin just to try and fit into the script for your movie. But, since this was meant to be a pilot for a TV series, maybe it’s a good thing that it wasn’t that good of a movie.

So if you want to see an early example of Marvel’s filmography, then watch this if you want.

Rating: 1 1/2 out of 5

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October 23rd, 2014 Movie – Doctor Cyclops

dr cyclops

Time to take a break from the modern era of movies and watch a classic sci-fi movie, Doctor Cyclops. When I first watched this movie, I was mislead by the title. I expected a movie about a one-eyed doctor performing experiments on people. Well, I was half right. Still, a sci-fi movie by any other name is one that I will wind up watching.

The plot: A group of scientist are summoned to Peru by the reclusive scientist Dr. Thorkel to aid in his experiments. When they get there, they find out that the only reason they were brought down there was to view some samples for Dr. Thorkel, whose eyesight has become bad. Feeling slighted, the group demands to know what Dr. Thorkel has been working on. Thorkel agrees and shows them his experiment right before he shrinks the scientist as well as his assistant Pedro. Thorkel intends to study the tiny people, but when he realizes that the effects are temporary and that the scientists will attempt to stop his experiments when they regain their full size, Dr. Thorkel kills one of the scientists while the others watch. The remainder of the group manage to escape into the jungle but now they must survive the dangers of the jungle as well as Dr. Thorkel himself.

Fun facts concerning this film. This film was directed by Ernest B. Schoedsack, who helped direct King Kong. This was the first American science fiction film to be filmed in technicolor. It also was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Visual Effects at the 13th Academy Awards.

I always enjoy watching classic sci-fi movies and seeing how far the genre has come. This had an interesting concept as instead of having a giant monster as the bad guy, the bad guy shrunk his enemies, so in effect, the normal sized bad guy became a giant monster, from the perspective of the shrunken people. I loved how they made references to Odysseus and the Cyclops early in the movie and then somewhat reenacted it towards the end of the film. The effects were pretty good considering when the movie was made. Albert Dekker, who played Dr. Thorkel, did a good job and really gave off the vibe of a scientist that would stop at nothing to succeed in his experiments. The rest of the actors were ok, although Pedro did provide for several bits of comedy throughout the movie.

So for a great classic science fiction film, this is definitely worth watching.

Rating: 3 out of 5

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October 22nd, 2014 Movie – District 9

district 9

No Roger Corman movie today. I know everybody is sad to hear that. Well, I am at least. Oh well, instead I am watching a different type of science fiction film. District 9 is a film that is just as much a movie about social issues as it is a movie about aliens. Much like South Park was a way to create a new Archie Bunker like character, District 9 was an original way to point out an ongoing issue in South Africa.

The plot: In 1982, a huge spaceship appeared over Johannesburg, South Africa, carrying a large quantity of alien creatures. Originally, they are placed in a refugee camp outside of Johannesburg, but after 28 years, the human population is tired of dealing with the “prawns” and want them relocated further from the city. Wikus van de Merwe, an employee of munitions company Multi-National United, is in charge of the relocation operation. However, during the course of the operation, Wikus is exposed to an alien chemical that slowly starts turning him into one of the aliens. With MNU wanting to both disect and experiment on him, Wikus is forced to ally himself with two of the aliens in order to get the chance to cure himself.

Critics generally tend to view movies about social issues in a favorable light, but what about when it is a sci-fi movie? Turns out that the critics really loved this movie. Almost every critic thought that this movie was both well written and well executed. About the only negative thing that they had to say was about the ending. The audiences definitely loved the movie. It made over $210 million off of a $30 million budget and was nominated for 4 Academy Awards including Best Picture. In fact, it was the first “mockumentary” style film to be nominated for this award. However, this film was not without some controversy. The film would wind up being banned in Nigeria due to complaints about the negative portrayal of Nigerians in the film as criminals and cannibals.

Personally, I thought this was one of the most original and well done sci-fi movies I have seen in a long time. The story was great and I thought the way the handled themes like racism and xenophobia by relating them towards the aliens was a great way to showcase it. It also did showcase how some people can take advantage of people who are at their lowest point in their lives. Sharlto Copley did a good job in his portrayal of Wikus, especially his reactions as he slowly transformed into an alien. The aliens were very articulate and well done and I thought some of the aspects regarding them, such as their love of catfood, was pretty humorous. The special effects were well done and did not have to be overly flashy as that would have taken away from the overall story of the movie. All in all, this is a great movie.

So if you want to watch a great sci-fi movie with a great story, then you have to give this a try.

Rating: 4 out of 5

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