Sunday 24 November 2013

The Day of the Doctor


Yesterday was a very big day for Doctor Who fans - the 50th anniversary film special, The Day of the Doctor, aired across 94 countries and was shown in over 1500 cinemas across the globe, selling over a million tickets and attracting around 10 million viewers in the UK alone. The special was met with hugely positive reactions from Doctor Who fans and critics, but was it really that good?

No, is my answer. I enjoyed it and I liked what it was trying to do, but it simply didn't work perfectly. The pacing, narrative and overall polish was very iffy and an opportunity at making a very complex story has failed miserably. Moffat has a good idea, but it isn't executed in the best way it can. My disappointment has to be vented somehow: so here are five main reasons why I think it was a letdown.

The Zygons were stupid

I'm still a bit unsure if Steven Moffat came to a final decision as to whether or not the Zygons were to be the villains of the film, as they sort of have fluctuating importance depending on what the script needs. They show up for a few moments, mimicking characters to just create awkward comedy and some tension, and then it seems as if they have a really sinister goal which drives the plot. But when the climax arrives, the script just forgets about them and their role within the story is left without a solid conclusion. If the Zygons were removed, the film would be no different - in fact it'd probably be a lot better in terms of pacing.

The War Doctor was totally misused

The War Doctor sounded like one of the best characters to ever come out of the new series of Doctor Who. A mysterious, dark and possibly violent incarnation who committed a controversial act to end the Time War and save his species? Great! Sadly, when he shows up and begins to interact with the other incarnations, he's just like a father keeping his two childish sons in order. They point their screwdrivers and he tells them to stop. They blabber and he comments jokingly on their mannerisms. It seems whenever they were interacting, all possibility of tension was thrown out the window in favour of awkward comedy and irritating banter. The character was left as a very boring and uninteresting one, even with a great performance from John Hurt.

More generic time stuff

The film prides itself on more generic time logic and confusing twists to make it sound clever, but these only serve as minor wow factors when we see how Moffat has linked each event and made the Doctors meet in a certain point in history. This aside, the whole crack in time and timeline synchronisation is complete nonsense, conveniently causing the other Doctors to forget about saving Gallifrey in order to try and avoid plot holes. Moffat seldom explores his time logic either - it's as if he just pulled the crack in time stuff out of the crack in his ass to make nerds orgasm over David Tennant and Matt Smith sharing scenes together. In the end, it just screws with its own logic to the point of endless whatthefuckery.

Companion is a moralfag

Remember that ridiculous moment in The Fires of Pompeii when Donna, a whiny cow, begged the Doctor to save a family from the eruption of Vesuvius? The Doctor had to leave them as this was a fixed event in time and he simply could not change it, but his whiny fuck of a companion decides to impose her moral nonsense on him to at least try and force a happy ending. Same thing happens here - Clara cries over the Doctor preparing to detonate the device which will kill all the Daleks and Time Lords to finally end the Time War and all its bloodshed. Rather than ignore her and create a complex moment where the Doctors unite to make a difficult but necessary decision, her sad outlook on the situation makes them conjure a deus ex machina where they all go 'Yes! Brilliant!' and think of a way to avoid killing, completely destroying the complex history of the Doctor from the Time War and reducing him to a moralfag because of his stupid companion. Stupid.

England 1562 graphic

Seriously BBC, what the hell is this?

So yeah, I wasn't very fond of it. Again, I liked the idea, but the execution left a lot to be desired. Before you Doctor Who fans kill me, look over there! *runs away*

Thanks for reading!

Thursday 21 November 2013

Dreamworks Animation - Worst to Best (Part 1)

As a prime competitor to Pixar and Walt Disney Animation Studios, Dreamworks Animation is quite often compared to these respective powerhouses in terms of its film revenue and quality. Many say Dreamworks is far more focused on nothing but pop culture jokes and exploiting famous A-listers, and the studio are known to pump out at least two movies per year to usual success. They've made some stinkers and some classics, so let's take a look at the long list of their filmography and see what movie ranks where...

Just so you know, I am only including their more popular computer animated hits, and the list excludes Flushed Away and Over the Hedge as I have not seen them. Don't really want to either.

Let's begin!

#17 - Bee Movie (2007)

With a worldwide box office gross of $287 million, Bee Movie ranks alongside the recent Turbo as one of Dreamwork's lowest grossing films and is even more of a disappointment considering it had a $150 million budget. There's no real surprise as to why it bombed; the humanoid bee protagonist has an awkwardly terrifying look and the film is forgettable nonsense from start to finish. Rarely funny and often boring, Bee Movie is an fine example of Dreamworks using nothing but famous actors and pop culture gags to desperately find an audience.

#16 - Megamind (2010)

I could easily repeat my words toward Bee Movie in regards to the 2010 film Megamind, which is also a dull and often cringeworthy effort from Dreamworks that exploits a famous cast and endless gags. The story is hollow and predictable trash and rarely is the film as funny as it aims to be. Thankfully, audiences chose to go with the much better Tangled during November 2010, which crushed Megamind into a final underwhelming gross of $323 million.

#15 - Puss in Boots (2011)

The Shrek series came to respectable conclusion with 2007's Shrek the Third, but Dreamworks felt the need to force in a fourth installment and dub that the final chapter instead. When that was over, the series still couldn't end - a Puss in Boots spinoff was released in 2011 to excellent box office takings of $554 million. It also earned positive reviews from critics but I myself wasn't that charmed; the story is once again predictable, cliché and poorly paced, with awkward twists and an abrupt climax. It's not horrible, but so forgettable I just didn't care.

#14 - Monsters vs. Aliens (2009)

Monsters vs. Aliens is another Dreamworks effort that isn't bad, but just not very memorable or interesting. The premise is generic but the film still doesn't make use of it in a comedic or parodic way - everything feels cliché and repetitive and it just seems much younger audiences are the only ones who will really find a lot to enjoy. Alongside other Dreamworks genre parodies such as Bee Movie, Shark Tale and Megamind, this film performed poorly at the international box office, leading Dreamworks to eventually avoid this formula for future projects. Thank god.

#13 - Shark Tale (2004)

Shark Tale made me laugh on some occasions, but if we ignore the boring story and hollow characters, there's something else much worse - the visuals. Shark Tale models its fishy characters after the actors who portray them, so protagonist Oscar looks like Will Smith, and so on. This approach makes the film look extremely awkward and creepy, much like Bee Movie, of which Shark Tale shares many other qualities: stereotypes, endless pop culture gags and obnoxious music. It's funny, sure, but not consistently, and has nothing much to offer outside of shallow comedy.

#12 - Shrek Forever After (2010)

A fourth installment for the Shrek franchise was a must for Dreamworks after the series' continuous success, and it lived up to expectations by earning more than $700 million worldwide. However, while its predecessor crafted a solid conclusion to the series, the fourth Shrek feels like a tacked on addition with no real depth or purpose. There's some fun to be had in its admittedly interesting premise, but it's largely quite boring and sadly enjoys treading on familiar ground.

#11 - Rise of the Guardians (2012)

Rise of the Guardians is an admirable attempt from Dreamworks to show they can do more than generic comedies; the animation is absolutely gorgeous and the idea behind the story is very strong. It also boasts a brilliant cast made up of Chris Pine, Alec Baldwin, Isla Fisher and Hugh Jackman, but this isn't enough to save it from underwhelming execution. Jude Law performs the film's generic and underdeveloped villain embarrassingly, and the story is predictable and dull from beginning to end. Audiences weren't very enthralled either; after performing poorly at the box office, Rise of the Guardians led to a studio writedown of $83 million and the layoffs of around 350 employees. Ouch.

#10 - Madagascar 3: Europe's Most Wanted (2012)

Alongside Shrek, the Madagascar franchise remains one of my favourites from Dreamworks, and the third installment thankfully continues the trend of great humour and charming characters. The pacing as the film begins feels extremely rushed, and it's far from a masterpiece, but Madagascar 3 remains a hilarious and wonderfully animated effort from Dreamworks, providing a surprisingly satisfying conclusion to the story arc of the loveable animal quartet trying to return home.

This list will continue in Part 2, coming soon!

Friday 15 November 2013

CarrCom Blubs - Nightmare

Well it's been well over a year since a CarrCom Blubs post, and seeing as our latest film Nightmare hit cinemas worldwide in May, it's time to sniff through it and prove how easy it is to mess up when working on such a big project. Here are most of the goofs you will find in the film, from beginning to end!

  • Revealing (2:30) - A disastrous attempt at using my old camera's manual focus. Instead of the focus racking from Henry to the demon in the background, the entire shot is out of focus and then suddenly becomes more sharp.
  • Continuity (6:45) - The shot eases in on a set of photos beside Henry's bed. Check back at previous shots in this scene - the photos weren't there.
  • Plot hole (11:00) - Are we to assume that Bill went downstairs and never heard the same loud noise Henry heard, and also did not hear Henry shout his name? Talk about being deaf.
  • Plot hole (22:07) - Henry heard a loud crash from his room - turns out it was just Bill dropping a frying pan. It then took Bill the same amount of time it took Henry to leave his room, go downstairs and enter the kitchen to pick up the frying pan.
  • Revealing (26:47) - When Henry hits the floor, some coats and a tripod bag are visible behind him. They then disappear in the next shot.
  • Revealing (43:07) - When the camera pans down to the front of the house, you can see myself and Nathan filming in the window reflection.
  • Revealing (51:02) - In the reflection of the cabinet beside Bill, you can see a strange person wearing a bizarre Panda hat...
  • Continuity (53:47) - Henry throws Bill his diary using his left hand. When we cut in, the diary is now in his right hand.
  • Continuity (54:07) - In this cut, Henry and Bill completely change positions from the previous shot.
  • Revealing (55:19) - Henry hits the floor and then rushes from the room. In the reflection of the glass next to him, we can see a strange person with orange leggings perched on the bed.
That's all I could be bothered to find. And please take note: never take me seriously in these posts.

Thanks for reading!

Saturday 9 November 2013

Movie Review - Gravity

It's currently earned nearly $500 million worldwide. It's garnered more praise than any film currently released in 2013. It's attracted the attention of casual audiences despite being an original project with no famous source material. Marketed in a vague but interesting manner, Alfonso Cuaron's latest project Gravity is a sci-fi thriller grounded in the modern, realistic world - and is easily one of the greatest film of the year by far.

Gravity stars Sandra Bullock as Dr. Ryan Stone, a scientific engineer experiencing her first mission in outer space, monitored by experienced space veteran Matt Kowalski (George Clooney). Though the mission runs smoothly despite Stone's evident anxieties, a catastrophic situation soon develops putting her and the entire team in mortal danger.

Gorgeously shot by the still excellent Emmanuel Lubezki and powerfully acted by its leading stars, Gravity constantly keeps viewers hanging on the edge of their seats - and then sinking into them as the tension unfolds. The film gets off to a quick start with its disruption to the narrative - every trailer has barely hinted at the meat of the story, which just makes it all the more interesting and approachable. All the surprises are definitely worth waiting for; the entire 90 minutes is spent in outer space but thanks to flawless pacing and enigmatic storytelling, dragged out scenes and moments of disinterest are pretty much non existent.

A huge cast is never necessary for the beautiful storytelling - the isolation endured by our main characters beams into the audience as we join them in their perilous situation. Every single technique possible in film is exploited to benefit the atmosphere; the shots wonderfully depict this dark, lonely but beautiful area of space, the Earth glowing below, while the sound design, acting and editing also compliment the atmosphere. Truly, the amount of effort put into the film is apparent from the minute it begins.

Gravity is highly deserving of its exceptional reputation, as it is an original, thrilling and well written sci-fi flick that manages to develop interesting characters in a very restricted situation. It's genuine from beginning to end; none of the tension is forced, none of the development is cheesy and there is not a single moment of unconvincing special effects. Aesthetically, everything is as rich as it can be - and beneath the surface is a film definitely worth viewing.