For the fortieth anniversary of Doctor Who – with no hope of a TV reboot (or any other celebration) of the show on tap – a couple of BBC employees decided to create an animated web series. Doctor Who: Scream of the Shalka was that web series – a Flash animation adventure of a slightly vampiric-looking Ninth Doctor voiced by Richard E. Grant.
Doctor Who has always been known for spinning interesting, even classic yarns; for somehow managing, despite serious budgetary constraints, to create visual effects that could be creepy, scary and effective – some of the time. What Doctor Who had never done – before The Green Death – was consciously produce a message story. In the final adventure to feature Jo Grant, Doctor Who took on the challenge of environmental issues – and the possibilities of artificial intelligence – in one of the show’s most rewarding serials.
If you’ve ever been ticked off by a jerk who not only zips into that parking space you were heading for, but parked diagonally across its neighboring space as well; if you’ve ever wanted to wring the necks of a group of kids chattering through a movie, or put a definitive end to reality shows built around screaming, spoiled brats or self-indulgent bimbos, then God Bless America might just be the movie for you.
AMC’s The Killing debuted to rave reviews and hit us with four or five amazing episodes of television before seeming to wander off and devolve into self-indulgence for four episodes before roaring back with three amazing episodes to finish its first season. The season finale puzzled some, infuriated others and intriguing just as many. The extras on the first season DVD set go a long way toward explaining the series plan in a way that should win back the most frustrated and infuriated viewers – they’ve certainly got me anticipating season two.
When I reviewed David Fincher’s The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo for its theatrical release, I noted that it surprised me because it was as good as the earlier, Swedish version that made Noomi Rapace familiar to an international audience. Considering its length and the fact that it’s very much a film that should be seen in a theater, Fincher’s film plays extremely well on the much smaller screen in my living-room.
Battle Royale – and its sequel, Battle Royale II – are among the most brutally beautiful movies I’ve ever seen. The original film is about a class of junior high school students are dumped on a deserted island and forced to kill each other off; the sequel, finds another ninth grade class being forced to attack the survivors of the first film – who have declared war on the adults responsible for the Battle Royale law.
Previously available in North America only in bootleg editions with dodgy subtitles, or very basic releases, these two films have a four-disc DVD release that comes with both the original theatrical release of the first film and the Special Edition that followed, the second film, and over two hours of bonus features.
Dreamworks Animation’s Puss In Boots was a big hit in 3D, but, as the DVD release shows, it’s great fun in 2D, too – and the DVD Double Pack contains both a new Puss adventure – The Three Diablos – and plenty of bonus material.
The Gantz Saga is a two movie adaptation of the popular manga. At first, it seems like a straightforward superhero vs. aliens tale – albeit with an odd origin – but as the story progresses, it begins to ask questions and shift from one perspective to another.
Generally speaking, uplifting/inspirational movies tend to be clusters of clichés gathered together in a group and wallowing in mushy scores and ham-fisted acting. The Way opts to go another way – it’s a gentle, almost meandering story about a man coming to grips with the loss of a son and both finding himself and finding his way into a community – a blessedly cliché-free take on what Joseph Campbell called the Hero’s Journey.
Doctor Who and the Sensorites was the seventh adventure of the first Doctor. It’s a tale of trapped humans, scared aliens and thwarted ambition.
The Caves of Androzani was the one hundred and thirty-sixth adventure of Doctor Who’s original run, comprising four episodes – and the finale for the fifth Doctor. Its mix of corrupt corporate behavior, the most important/valuable substance in the universe and a dash of Phantom of the Opera is one of the most complex and rewarding of the entire series, past and present.