Sunday, 27 December 2015

OJ's TV Review - Doctor Who series 9

It's been ten years since Doctor Who has been back on our TVs!? It can't be!

Series 9 gives us Peter Capaldi's second run as The Doctor and what a run it was. Even the pre-title sequence in the first episode can give a long-term fan a mind-blow. The opening two parter was an interesting one and although was unusual gave us some great appearances and easter eggs.
   As the series went on I noticed that there wasn't really a continuing story-arc, you know that little scene they usually put in every episode that has a pay-off in the finale, there wasn't really one here. I really liked that; there are maybe one or two lines of dialogue you can look back on now as a foreshadow but all in all each story was self contained. I enjoyed there being a lot more two-parters as well, it allowed for a more paced plot rather than a rushed ending. All-in-all the majority of episodes I really enjoyed, making series 9 one of the best series since 2005.
   Of course there were bad episodes, in my opinion The Girl Who Died, Sleep No More, and The Husbands of River Song were just dreadful. I know they have their fans but for me personally, I disliked a good portion of each of them.
   In the end I think series 9 was one of the best series so far and Peter Capaldi is still an excellent Doctor, Jenna Coleman was good, as always, despite my dislike for the character and I rather enjoyed the finale, which is usual for me and Doctor Who.


Thursday, 24 December 2015

OJ's Movie Review - Star Wars: The Force Awakens

After so much hype and speculation, the force has finally awoken!

I don't need to explain what this movie is; everyone knows what Star Wars is, we all know there were three good ones and then there were three not-so-good ones. It's no secret that this movie is the most important film of the year to a lot of what did I think?
   I'll star off with what I enjoyed, which was a lot. I always love a J.J. Abrams film and so I enjoyed seeing his directing now in this Universe. He gives you some absolutely amazing shots showing you this fantastic world and it's characters, a highlight for me being the opening scenes. He also does action pieces well, and a few times I could see things reminiscent of 2009's Star Trek; so on a directing front I can't think of anyone else who could've done it. In a similar vein to that, I love the use of practical effects in this; the film of course had CGI and used it well but I always smiled when seeing what I knew was really there, weather it be some alien bird pecking away or a monstrous thug lounging in a bar, it really worked well. 
   Script-wise was not bad at all. I think they did humour pretty well, I definitely laughed out loud at scenes, maybe for me personally one or two didn't land as much but as a whole it's entertaining on that front. The drama as well was done excellently; you really fell in love with these characters and were invested in their lives, including even the little BB-8 droid and Oscar Isaac's cool-guy pilot character, which added to the emotional beats and shocks of the plot. A high point for me was the Finn and Poe friendship that had very short screen-time but in those moments you could see these guys were bros.
  Just mentioning the cast quickly, Harrison Ford and Carrie Fisher did great jobs reprising their roles, couldn't fault them really and they jelled so well with the new guys, Daisy Ridley and John Boyega who were phenomenal and can definitely see them having future careers. I loved their characters and am looking forward to seeing them again. Mark Hamill was also in this film and all I'm going to say is that I enjoyed every moment he was on screen.
  Now for some things I didn't enjoy as much. Don't get me wrong, The Force Awakens is definitly it's own thing and gives us places and concepts we've not seen before but unfortunately it did slip into a similar problem Jurassic World had which was that it just recreated too many moments and plot points from it's predecessors. Scenes were happening where I was thinking "Really? We're doing this again?" and that was it's main weakness for me, too much of what we'd already had and so it made it predictable in or or two places. 
  Another point that I'd like to mention, that may only be something I feel, but the climax didn't seem very....climactic. It wasn't until we were in the middle of a scene and I thought about how long it had already been on that I realised I was watching the final battle, as it were. It was fine in itself, definitly some tense and action packed moments but I think due to the fact that the movie was constantly fast paced it didn't transition well that this was now something big.
  In the end Star Wars: The Force Awakens is a fantastic movie and entertaining on it's own, it gives some exciting references and cameos for the long-term fans but if you're not a casual viewer then you may feel it's retreading some familiar ground.


Saturday, 19 December 2015

OJ's Movie Reviews - Star Wars: Episodes I to VI

With Star Wars: The Force Awakens out this week, I did a movie marathon to look back at the previous six films and tell you my opinion on the franchise.

The Phantom Menace began the unloved prequels, it was supposed to be the origin of all including the famous Anakin Skywalker. For me, I like this movie. I have a bias opinion because this was the only Star Wars film my family had on VHS when I was growing up so I watch this film with nostalgia. I acknowledge there are problems, terrible CGI, the great Jar Jar Binks and many more, but without this movie we wouldn't have Darth Maul, that fantastic John Williams piece and quite a revealing behind the scenes documentary. So in the end, I like Episode I.
   Attack of the Clones came next. This film makes me laugh everytime; no not because of George Lucas' jokes but the unintentional dialogue. The screenplay for this film is so bad it makes Anakin out to be a whiny and sometimes very creepy teenager who gives us his detailed opinions on sand. Along with that and some plot points that don't make sense, for me Episode II is the worst Star Wars film.
  Revenge of the Sith is the third of the prequels and eventually ties into the original trilogy. Most people say it's the best of the prequels and I can see where they're coming from. It still has a multitude of problems but the plot isn't as all-over-the-place as the previous two and the climactic showdown, although entirely green screen, can be entertaining. Some things though don't follow continuity and and other events are little hard to swallow (in the context of the universe, not real life) and so Episode III upped the quality a smidgen but that really isn't saying anything.
   A New Hope, although not titled that on original release, was a game changer in cinema. It spawned and inspired so many great ideas and the fandom is still as strong as ever that you can't deny Star Wars is something special. The story is a nice, satisfying one filled with action, charm and adventure. It is a thrill for any sci-fi fan and you love the characters it shows us. I do have to admit that upon first viewing I was little underwhelmed due to so much hype but now after revisiting I enjoy it quite a bit and appreciate it's influence.
  The Empire Strikes Back is next and is, I think, the most referenced Star Wars film and has a lot of recognisable scenes. It gives us the Yoda we all love, the famous "Father" scene and some cracking lines of dialogue we quote to this day. The action is still top notch, the special effects were great for the 80s and it's the film George Lucas messed about with the least. In my opinion, Episode V is the best Star Wars film.
  Finally we come to Return of the Jedi. Like the previous two, it's not bad at all if not for a few weak points where you kind of have to gloss over. It gives us some great sequences on the planet Tatooine at the beginning and a very tense moment aboard the Death Star. The little Ewoks are annoying to some but they don't bother me at all and in the end Episode VI serves as a fantastic end to the original trilogy.

So that's it. My short opinions on Star Wars so far. I cannot wait to see what The Force Awakens has to offer and my review for that should be up soon!

Tuesday, 1 December 2015

OJ's Movie Review - The Good Dinosaur

Pixar Animation - the studio that has given us top-quality movies such as Toy Story, The Incredibles, and Inside Out, now brings us....this?

The Good Dinosaur is a film that has been in the making for four years. Being a Pixar movie I was excited, and it was about dinosaurs which I love; then due to a lot of story problems and various people leaving the project, it was eventually pushed all the way back to November 2015. Now it's here and I get to review it.
  To start off I'll go straight for the things I enjoyed about The Good Dinosaur. The animation is some of the best animation I have seen in my life; the textures, the rain, the landscapes, everything about the look of this movie is stunning, some of which is so well-done it looks real. It is all shown brilliantly as well through the directing, which Wikipedia tells me was done by Peter Sohn, a long-time employee of Pixar.
  Now for the things I did not enjoy about The Good Dinosaur. If you go into this movie, do not expect award-winning material or a unique family experience, like we've come to expect from Pixar. Instead get ready for a bland, cliché and sometimes inappropriate story. It's about a young dinosaur called Arlo who is separated from his family and must find his way home, this could be interesting and give us some fun adventures but for me, it just wasn't. Despite the fact that it took forever to get going, Arlo's journey was the same thing over and over again which is that he is scared by something, and then more scared and then scared by something else and is constantly followed by a human boy who for some reason acts like a dog. I may be to harsh but there were very few scenes I found entertaining, don't get me wrong, they were some, but few and far between. Also, for a movie about dinosaurs it doesn't actually feature that many dinosaurs, and the ones our main character, Arlo, does meet are walking stereotypes we've seen hundreds of times. And I don't want to spoil it but does the line "I drowned him in my blood" belong in a kids movie? I don't have kids so I'm just throwing that out there.
In the end, it pains me to say that Pixar's The Good Dinosaur did not overcome it's behind the scenes disasters and so I have to give it...


Sunday, 1 November 2015

OJ's Movie Review - Spectre

Hail HYDRA!... I mean SPECTRE!

So Bond 24 has come in the form of Spectre and according to the trailers it shows us who has been behind all of Daniel Craig's pain. Did you realise someone was behind it all? Me neither! But who doesn't love some retconning.
  I've not been the biggest of Bond fans over the years, it was just never my thing. In fact I think this is the second Bond film I've properly seen so this review won't be coming from the viewpoint of the last 50 years. I will however say that as a movie on it's own, Spectre is an entertaining thrill. It's got action all over, some well-placed humour and a cracking theme song. All the cast of course was great and especially Craig as the man himself, still believable that he could do all those things. Christoph Waltz was a fantastic villain, but then again, when ins't he? And who I really enjoy a lot is Ben Wishaw as Q; definitely has some great moments.
  Story-wise, it was good and moved along nicely but there wasn't too much intrigue because it wasn't hard to piece together from the trailers and official synopsis' who this big bad was to Bond. And if you knew anything about Bond there is a twist that shocked no-one (al a Khan from Star Trek Into Darkness). Other than that though the stunts were great, the script was on point and all-in-all an enjoyable film. Others have told me this "is how Bond used to be" which is a good thing I assume. Personally I enjoyed Skyfall more but everyone's probably got a favourite. What did you think? Comment below and spread your opinions!


Thursday, 1 October 2015

OJ's Movie Review - The Martian

Last time we saw Matt Damon he was stranded on a planet in Interstellar, now we get to see him...oh wait.

So The Martian is Ridley Scott's latest film and stars Matt Damon as an astronaut left behind on Mars by himself because his crew thought he was dead. Going in I wasn't sure what to expect, I thought what can you do for two hours on a desert planet? Well, it turns out that it's something good because The Martian is one of the best films of the year.
   I mean seriously, this movie is so good in so many ways I couldn't believe it. The cast, first off, were amazing, you've got people like Jessica Chastain, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Sean Bean, Jeff Daniels and of course Matt Damon; they all do an amazing job in their roles, you couldn't fault them. But obviously one man has to carry the movie and Damon does it brilliantly, playing a man completely alone, isolated on an entire planet having to use only the stuff that was left behind and his own intelligence to survive, incredible acting there, especially with some of the darker moments when you can see this man is about to break but carries on relentlessly.
  The story is also a fascinating one, there wasn't any point where I was bored watching The Martian; you mostly wanted to be with Damon on Mars watching him do various things as it was both thrilling, exciting, relieving and funny, yes that's right, this film is hilarious, it's just a fantastic script, the movie handles it's comedy really well and some parts are just so uplifting and makes you smile. The Earth scenes are entertaining as well, they didn't drag at all, watching these NASA guys trying to work out if they can actually save this Mark Watney from Mars and balancing that with handling the press and media it makes for some good acting and screenplay.
   One other thing that surprised me was the music, the original score was amazing and adds real feeling to the scenes and then I'm not going to spoil it but you are going to remember the soundtrack and songs they use in The Martian.
  The only negative I can say I had with this film was just the opening, I felt that from the very start to when the crew actually leave Watney on Mars it felt a little off or choppy and just wasn't as good as the rest of the movie but that may just be me, it didn't bother me too much because that's only like ten minutes of set-up.
  In the end I loved The Martian, it's definitely one of the biggest surprises for me and like I said, one of the best films this year.


Tuesday, 29 September 2015

OJ's TV Review - Heroes seasons 1 - 4

With Heroes Reborn airing this month I decided to take a look at the much-discussed Heroes, something I'd heard a lot about but never seen.

Being a big science-fiction fan and common Internet-user I'd heard about Heroes from various places
and I knew the general gist but never really had the opportunity to watch it. Thankfully, Netflix helped out with that.
 So season 1 to start obviously and the general opinion is that this the best season. They're not wrong. Season 1 of Heroes is absolutely brilliant, I love it. It introduces a bunch of characters straight out the gate all with completely different backgrounds and lives and most importantly, powers. As the season progresses they slowly start to connect and it all builds up to really nice, satisfying conclusion. All the actors in it are really well cast, everyone is playing the everyman, the normal person, who wake up one day with an extraordinary ability, which is really fun to watch. Zachary Quinto plays the main villain Sylar who is a really good bad guy, his presence and scenes are really thrilling and threatening. A truly unique piece of television.
  Season 2 comes along with only half the amount of episodes. Although the mystery was intriguing and some of the new characters were fun to watch; overall I felt it was a little underwhelming. Because season 1 was so good, season 2, although wasn't a terrible season, just didn't quite stand up to the first, possibly due to the limited number of episodes and a very similar story-arc due to a writer's strike.
 Season 3. Oh my, what can I say. The third season of Heroes is an absolute mess. The plots were all over the place, it was if the season didn't know where it was going. They'd start one story arc in an episode and then two or three down the line they'd end it quite abruptly with hardly any satisfying resolutions. Some of the people we'd come to know and love suddenly either lost their powers or did things completely out of character which made for a lot of episodes where I just sighed. I struggle to think of positives for this season; I mean there was the odd good episode and a few guest appearances I enjoyed but for the most part, it was like a bad fan-fic.
  Season 4 thankfully started to pick up, they focused on a new character Samuel and his mysterious carnival which drove the series arc and that was actually a really entertaining thing to watch. A bunch of new characters were introduced who were good and some of the ruined ones of season 3 fell into the odd appearance which was a good move. Still not quite as good as the first season but in terms of quality I think it was better than the other two.

So in conclusion, I'm glad I watched Heroes, even if the quality was a bit up and down, the characters were so interesting to me and I adored the various pop culture references the show gave (mostly from the character Hiro). It was truly a roller coaster ride in many ways and a show any sci-fi fan should watch.