Wednesday, January 27, 2010

At the Circus (Buzzell 1939)

At about fifteen minutes in, I could already tell what the problem with Edward Buzzell’s At the Circus was: it wasn’t a Marx Brothers’ film. Yes, the Marx Brothers are in it (well, the most famous three: Groucho, Chico and Harpo), and some of their classic wit and humour manages to come through, but the filmmakers so misunderstand the Marx Brother’s and their comedy styling’s that At the Circus is left a mostly lifeless affair, with the comedy trio only occasionally getting to flex their muscles.

The film follows the story of Jeff Wilson (Kenny Baker), a young circus owner who needs to pay off a debt to a man named Carter (James Burke), who is looking to take over the circus. All appears well for Wilson to payback the debt and finally marry his star attraction Julie Randall (Florence Rice) when Carter has two of his thugs rob Wilson. Hoping to help his boss and save the circus, Antonio (Chico Marx) brings in the lawyer J. Cheever Loophole (Groucho Marx) to investigate and find the money, with circus clown Punchy (Harpo Marx) helping (or hindering) along the way.

While At the Circus is hardly a horrible film, the entire setup of the film runs counter to the Marx Brothers’ unique comedy. The Marx Brothers are comic anarchy incarnate, savagely attacking the targets of their humour without mercy and bouncing from one bit of insanity to the next. This is why in their best films they are usually going after the “respectable” elements in society: the wealthy, the elite, etc. There are no real values that they uphold, and they are not really heroes in any sense of the word, as they are far too dangerous and usually selfish to make heroic decisions.

At the Circus almost completely fails to get anything about the Marx Brother’s right in the first half of the film. The controlled chaos of the circus gives the trio nothing to work with, as they all too easily blend into the world around them. Take Harpo for instance: as a silent comedian of physical gags and immense musical talent, Harpo fits right in with the circus rather than standing apart, as does Chico. Groucho as Loophole doesn’t fit in at the circus, but neither does anyone at the circus provide him with any real material to work with. Groucho Marx works best when he is tearing down those who have built themselves up or are too slow witted to realize he is insulting them. The members of the circus are far too bland for the Groucho to have anything to say about them.

This poor set up for the film results in having Groucho being the comic victim rather than victimizing others. Groucho is so powerful a screen presence that he often dominates the proceedings. When he shows up on screen, he owns it and everyone around him, controlling them and manipulating them from the minute they meet him. Yet in At the Circus, Groucho spends the first half of the film as the butt of the jokes. Compare how Groucho enters into the film Duck Soup to his introduction here, and the difference is night and day. In Duck Soup, Groucho arrives and takes swift charge, beginning his reign of comic terror with pure energy. In At the Circus, he simply arrives by car and is quickly undermined by Chico, which would have been fine if the next thirty minutes were not like that as well.

The film also suffers from its poor excuse for a story and “protagonists” that we are supposed to care about. While Kenny Baker and Florence Rice try and make due with the material they have, the simple fact is that Jeff and Julie are dull, cloying characters with absolutely nothing interesting about them. Why are we supposed to care about them? Well, apparently because they are nice, in love and young. Absolutely no effort is made to give any depth to these two, serving more as plot devices than anything else. Well, plot devices that sing poor excuses for love songs. After all, this is an MGM film.

Yet, once the film gets away from the circus and its performers and into the upper class world of Mrs. Susanna Dukesbury (the wonderful Margaret Dumont, once again the comic victim of Groucho), the film finds its footing and gets back into being a real Marx Brother’s film. Yet, by the time this happens, the film is already at its halfway point with very little laughs. Furthermore, the second half of the film still insists upon cutting back to the young lovers story that stopped mattering from the minute it was introduced, and kills any momentum that is built up by the real stars of the film.

There are moments in At the Circus that work, including a lovely musical number that gives Harpo a chance to really show off his harp playing abilities, a scene involving the worst ever interrogation of a possible criminal, and an excellent crack at the Hay’s office. Still, the whole thing feels like a miss for all involved. For those interested in the Marx Brothers’ films, it is worth checking out At the Circus, but keep your expectations low, and don’t watch after Duck Soup or Horse Feathers.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Update: Jan. 26th, 2010

Hey everyone! A new review will be up tomorrow: At the Circus, the 1939 Marx Brother's comedy.

Also, as a reminder, if posting, it will not appear until I have approved it, so don't expect it to show up ASAP.

Anyways, back to work!

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Black Legion (Mayo 1937)

Why is it that seemingly decent people can descend into vicious, racist hate? The answers suggested to that question by Archie L. Mayo’s 1937 social drama Black Legion are surprising not because of their complexity and thoughtfulness, but because they shockingly speak to the modern state of Western society as a whole. While the film overtly tackles the issues of racism and hate crimes as its subject matter, the greater target in the film is Capitalism as an ideology and backbone of American life. Black Legion attacks Capitalism as a corrupting force which thrives on the fears of many, undermining the values of community, family and ultimately the individual itself.

Black Legion follows Frank Taylor (Humphrey Bogart in his first ever lead role), a seemingly hard working and family oriented factory worker passed up for a promotion in favor of a young, intelligent man who happens to come from a family of immigrants. Hurt, angry and feeling humiliated, Frank finds himself seduced into joining the Black Legion, a white supremacy group which claims to be protecting the families and jobs of “real” Americans. Engaging in brutal beatings and acts of terror, and enjoying it all the while, Frank’s life starts to unravel after a seeming upswing the further he becomes involved with the group and its activities, before finally crashing when a friend attempts to intervene and save Frank from himself.

While Black Legion is a highly predictable film, its raw power comes from just how dedicated it is to telling its tale without sugar coating it or preaching, at least until the end (more on that later). Frank is a fully realized character rather than caricature, and the viewer is invited early on to both like and feel sympathy for Frank at the start of the film, heightening the horror at his fall into bigotry. While it isn’t Bogart’s greatest performance, his turn as Frank Taylor is perhaps Bogart at his most vulnerable: Frank is a well meaning but not particularly bright or amazing individual, and they manner in which Bogart plays the role reveals that Frank is more than aware of his own limitations, even if he won’t openly admit it. The viewer is not only invited to feel horror, but disappointment at Frank’s decisions before finally arriving at disgust with Frank. All the while though, Bogart is able to keep giving viewers fleeting glimpses of possible conflict in Frank over what he does, even at his worst.

The rest of the characters are nowhere near as well developed as Frank, but seeing as the film is Bogart’s show, it doesn’t harm the film too much. Perhaps the best developed character other than Bogart’s Frank is Ed Jackson, played by Dick Foran. The character is pivotal to the film in many ways I won’t spoil, but one of his key scenes is a moment in which he tries to intervene in Frank’s descent and help turn his life around. While the writing during the scene is a bit too on the nose and preachy, the scene works because of how Ed himself has been set up as far from a saint. Established as a drinker and womanizer early on, Ed slowly transforms into a strong moral center over the course of the film. He holds authority precisely because we know that he isn’t preaching from a moral high ground. Ed is a flawed man trying to do better, and is demanding better from a man he once respected. Foran provides a solid performance that, while not as great as Bogart’s work, never the less remains memorable.

As noted earlier though, the real surprise is the way in which the film addresses the role of Capitalism in the horrors that take place. Frank not only buys into the capitalist ideology, it becomes blended in his mind with his concept of masculinity. When the promotion is first announced in the film and Frank believes that he has a chance at the job, his first thoughts are of the things he can buy for his family, and when he begins to listen to the racist rants, it is over the radio after angrily telling a car salesman he cannot afford the car he had hoped to buy. While the scenes between Frank and his son are among the worst in the film given the absurdly “boyish” writing and presentation of the son character, the conversations further expand on Frank’s feelings of failing masculine identity, as his son desires not only to show up another kid through Frank’s success, but also because the son identifies with the super heroics of a radio adventurer. It is no coincidence that Frank first listens to the racist rants after rejecting the son’s idea of listening to his favorite radio action hero: the empowered hero of fiction will not help Frank regain his supposed sense of agency.

Where the film really takes Capitalism to task though is with the Black Legion itself, which openly uses fear tactics and ideas to exploit money from its members. When Frank first attends a Black Legion meeting, it is held in the back of a store where the owner refuses to lower his prices; after being sworn in, Frank is informed and agrees to the cost of buying both his cloak and gun from the organization itself. The most explicit scene is one in which the highest up members of the Black Legion discuss the need to turn a larger profit and demand that each member recruit two more, leading to a scene in which Frank tries to sell a co-worker on joining the group, only for an accident caused by this sales pitch to cost him his promotion instead. While there is no question that many of these scenes are heavy handed, the inclusion of the material complicates the issues, extending them beyond the boarders of the film proper. While the film’s narrative comes to a conclusion, its political complexities require the efforts of the viewer to grapple with the disturbing notion that one of the cornerstones of American society is inexplicably tied to the hate and violence depicted in the film.

Where the film falters is in its final moments. While I won’t spoil what happens, I will say it involves a long speech which attempts to suggest that elements such as the Black Legion are alien to American society, aberrations rather than elements that come from within American society itself. The whole ending feels like it was tacked on, and it most likely was at the behest of the Hayes Office. Luckily the genius of the film preceding the ending is strong enough to overcome the false conclusion, but one cannot help but feel a more appropriate, cynical ending existed at some point and time, at least in script form. While I won’t go so far as to suggest the film be remade, as it doesn’t need to be, I could easily see a more open version of the story being crafted now, under the right conditions.

The direction from Mayo is solid work, through reportedly Michael Curtiz of Casablanca fame did shoot some material for the finished film, so I am not sure who to credit with some of the more striking moments. Whoever the filmmakers are, many scenes are strikingly staged and photographed, particularly the acts of violence on the part of the Black Legion, which manage to disturb without going into the use of excessive violence. The filmmakers also manage to make particularly great use of Bogart’s face, utilizing a series of close ups over the film that always manage to capture a different side to the character throughout.

In all, I highly recommend Black Legion for everyone to see, and more importantly, to discuss in light of the current economic situation. You might be just as frightened as I have been at how easy such events and hatred could come about again, if not already in the extreme edges of Western society.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Film Geek Flashback: Space – The Imagination Station

The kind of film geek one is can largely be understood by the situation in which one grows up. I myself have been one of those to benefit from the era of home video, particularly VHS growing up. It was a short walk from home down to the local video rental shop, and it was a pretty good one before it was completely altered by new management early in the last decade. Packed with a large selection of titles, and before the era in which video stores had to check your age, I was able to usually rent a good number of titles to watch over the course of my youth, from classics such as Gone with the Wind, Blade Runner, Alien, and the Vincent Price version of The Fly, to selections of the James Bond series and absolute crap like the straight to video Captain America film. There was just one little problem with the place, and that was that it cost money to rent from them. Truly shocking, I know.

There were other options for watching films though. For starters, there was TVO and "Saturday Night at the Movies", back when it was hosted by Elwy Yost, which exposed me to many of the greats, such as Citizen Kane and The Seventh Voyage of Sinbad. However, as great as the Yost program was, it was always seemingly in the era of Classic Hollywood, leaving me without any real access to many of the films that followed. Furthermore, it seemed to avoid airing genre films of old most of the time. How on Earth was I ever going to get to see The Day the Earth Stood Still or Invasion of the Body Snatchers? To top it off, our family didn’t have cable, so that wasn’t an option either.

Cut to 1996. My grandparents took advantage of a special deal that gave them access to some upcoming, newer channels that were about to launch on the Canadian cable system. Not having cable ourselves, these channels held no interest to me, until I noticed a little name on the list of new channels they were to receive:

Space – The Imagination Station.

For any viewers outside of Canada, you probably have no idea what the hell this channel is. Well, in an attempt to prevent American broadcasters from entering Canadian markets, many Canadian channels were launched to offer similar choices to that of American cable but keep the control in Canadian hands. Space was launched as a counter to the American Sci—Fi channel, with the intention of broadcasting science fiction, fantasy and horror programming from all over the world.

And it was glorious.

Now, like I said, we didn’t have cable at our house, but you can bet that I took full advantage of asking my grandparents to tape programming off of Space. While some might have complained about the lack of original programming at the time, I wasn’t one of them. The bizarre mish mash of quickly cancelled sci-fi series, serials, and anime imports gave Space its own quirky identity, furthered by the intermixing of brief snippets of science facts, interviews and quotes from historical and literary sources in between shows. It was truly a geek paradise.

Then, there were the films. Oh lord, were there the films.

Every night at midnight, as well as on weekends, Space would air, uncut (though not commercial free) science fiction, fantasy and horror films from every decade under the sun. Not only that though, they were almost always aired as part of theme weeks, mixing and matching the best, the worst, the middle ground and the just plain interesting together. One week, it was Martian invasion films; the next was a week dedicated to all five Fly films, allowing viewers to see the evolution from Vincent Price to Cronenberg’s tragic exploration of sex in the modern world, followed by the underrated B-movie joy that was The Fly 2.

How about outright classics of the genre? Not only could you find relatively recent genre classics such as Alien, but the original 1950s golden age of Sci-fi cinema was always well represented, with classics such as The Day the Earth Stood Still and Forbidden Planet. When you needed a break from the good stuff, there was always an airing of Santa Clause Vs. the Martians around the corner along with other great B-move oddities. This was the channel that first introduced me to these greats that even Yost was ignoring, and for that, I will always be thankful.

Every week, when the TV Guide arrived, the first thing I would turn to would be the midnight listings on Space. I didn’t think every film was worth taping, and some of what was taped was outright painful to sit through (I’m looking at you Scanners 2), but it was always worth giving it a shot, particularly when it was films and filmmakers I had no clue about at the time. A great example was the work of Ralph Bashki, which I was introduced to through the film Wizards when it aired on Space. While I am no Bashki fan on a whole, there is no arguing his work is unique and worthy of study, and I am happy to look back and know that it was Space that introduced me to the filmmaker among others.

While I love film as a whole, there is no question that I have a deep rooted love of sci-fi, fantasy and horror cinema that dominates all others, and Space was a large part of developing this love. Heck, if it weren’t for Space and their catchy style of advertising these films, there are a many films I more than likely have ignored rather than give a chance. This developed my willingness to give pretty much anything a try and the knowledge that all films have some place in film history, hence, being worthy of study.

Even into my early days of university, Space was a great place to catch films that might have slipped my attention or were worth seeing again. One night I remember distinctly was finishing a fall term with the handing in of my final paper, and being unable to sleep due to the bucket loads of caffeine in my system from the combo of Jolt Cola and coffee. Playing on Space was David Cronenberg’s Rabid, and it turned out to be the perfect way to unwind from the previous few days of steady work.

Sadly, as with all good things, it had to come to an end. Well, the Space I knew and loved had to come to an end. About two years after that viewing of Rabid, I tuned into Space on a Saturday night to unwind once again. However, I was surprised by what I found: they were airing Backdraft. Now, I’ve got nothing against the film (well, actually I do, but that is for another rant), but it certainly wasn’t a science fiction, fantasy or horror film. I was convinced it was an error, but sure enough, it was correct: Space was airing Backdraft, followed by Daylight.

Just what the hell was going on? While I am sure that there are a series of ownership changes, policy shifts and other real life answers to that question, the simple fact was that Space was going mainstream rather than playing to the fringe anymore. In early 2009, while working on assignments for my professional program, I occasionally switched to Space during my breaks and was disappointed by what I saw. Gone were the random collection of shows, the weekend serials and the mix of classic films and oddities. In its place were recent action films that had nothing to do with the original intention of the channel. The cool little interviews with writers, artists and scientists were gone. Instead, we now had (and have) camera friendly vapid youths who do little more than peddle recent films and shows in the style of Entertainment Tonight. Space was dead, and the animation centered network Teletoon was left to pick up the geek friendly audience.

Still, there are some redeeming qualities for the modern Space. After the CBC mishandled the broadcasting of the brilliant "Doctor Who" revival, Space has stepped in to make sure the series airs with proper support and with a limited waiting time between the Canadian and BBC broadcasts. But such effort does not change the fact that the channel of my youth is gone, and with it, all the opportunities it provided me to grow as a film geek.

Of course, perhaps Space is no longer needed for the little film geeks growing up now. For those truly seeking to explore genre cinema, there are endless resources and methods for seeing these films.

I still can’t help but feel sad though that such a resource as Space, for all its flaws, is reduced to a shell of its former self. So goodbye Space – The Imagination Station. You will always live on as a memory and as part of what made me, well, me.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Sherlock Holmes (Ritchie 2009)

The funny thing about Guy Ritchie’s 2009 film adaptation of Sherlock Holmes is that the film reminds me of the stories of a different fictitious detective rather than Arthur Conan Dole’s creation. Structurally and in terms of focus, the film seems oddly more emulative of Peter Faulk’s immortal Columbo, in that the emphasis is on watching the detective solve the case rather than the case itself. Well, Columbo, mixed with a bit of James Bond, a dash of buddy comedy, and a hint of Captain Jack Sparrow quirkiness. Together, it makes for a light, fun little film that, while not going down as a definitive interpretation of the character, is worthy of seeing in a theatre.

The film is set at a point when the relationship between Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson (Robert Downey Jr. and Jude Law) is undergoing change, as Watson is set to marry and work as a private doctor, leaving Holmes on his own. However, this change is delayed when it turns out their last case isn’t quite as closed as they thought: Lord Blackwell (Mark Strong), who practices dark “magic” and was caught for a series of sacrificial murders by Holmes and Watson, mysteriously disappears from his grave after his hanging. Has Blackwell returned from the dead, and if so, for what reason? Holmes and Watson race to find the answers.

The odd irony of Sherlock Holmes is that, for a film in which the titular character reminds those he works with (and hence, the viewer) of the need to pay close attention to the details, the viewer themselves really don’t need to. The film doesn’t particularly have any depth to it, mining contemporary issues of terrorism, fear and failed leadership more for exploitation’s sake, rather than exploring the issues in any depth. As for the mystery, putting aside the fact that it is mostly solvable right from the get go without any detailed clues, the important information is only doled out in a manner that allows Holmes to give a drawing room explanation of events towards the film's conclusion rather than giving an audience a chance to piece together the mystery themselves, if the mystery was hard to begin with.

However, I am hard pressed to take the film to task for these points, as the film works wonderfully as an entry in the “buddy cop” subgenre, with everything that the subgenre has become well known for: homoerotic undercurrents, playful bickering between the lead characters, and the rivalry with other officers, etc. The Victorian setting and utilization of the famed detective duo add just enough freshness to the proceedings to prevent the staleness of more recent entries in the genre, and forcing the filmmakers to get innovative with traditional elements such as the car chase and the 1980s favourite cliché, the industrial sector set fight (the factory replaced here by the boat yard).

Of course, a buddy cop film is only as great as its buddies, and the film is blessed with the talents of Downey Jr. and Law. The two share an excellent comic rapport, avoiding the pitfalls of other buddy comedies by dodging overacted moments of conflict for more restraint. Downey in particular walks the fine line between crafting a real character and going into caricature with skill, grounding his peculiarities rather than allowing them to overtake his character. Law, with the less flashy role of Watson, manages to imbue his character with more of a boyish joy than is traditionally seen with Watson. He is responsible without becoming stoic, letting the viewer in on the fact that Watson really does get a level of fun out of the situations he finds himself in.

Oddly enough, director Guy Ritchie may have found a perfect fit for his style of filmmaking with Sherlock Holmes despite his history of modern set gangster fare. While Ritchie has crafted some great films before in the gangster epics Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels and Snatch, his attempts at “weightier” fair have thus far fallen flat. Revolver was a fascinating mess of a film, filled with interesting ideas but little idea of how to execute them, and the less said about his remake of Swept Away, the better. While I applauded ambition, Ritchie at heart is a slick action director with a fascination with the sometimes disreputable members of British society. Sherlock Holmes, with its Victorian setting and status in popular culture, allows Ritchie to play to his strengths without indulging his lesser excesses. Even his stylistic flourishes have been toned down, giving them more impact when they do appear.

Where the film does falter to a degree is with its supporting cast of characters, few of whom are particularly fleshed out. As traditionally seems to happen with the buddy film, the female characters are pushed to the margins with little to do. Rachel McAdams as Irene Adler, Holmes love interest, serves more as a plot device than as a well thought out character, which is all the more apparent when it is discovered that her reason for being in the film is to set up a potential sequel rather than functioning in the narrative of the film proper.

Still, Sherlock Holmes comes highly recommended. My one recommendation for the next outing, which looks to shoot this summer, is that they should hire Shane Black to work on the script. As anyone who has seen his film Kiss Kiss, Bang Bang can attest, the man not only knows how to write fantastic dialogue, but can craft a complex mystery with the best of them. And since he has worked with producer Joel Silver and star Robert Downey Jr. on that film, I would hardly think that it is outside the realm of possibility.

Sunday, January 10, 2010


Hey everyone!

First up, the Sherlock Holmes review will be up Tuesday. Just need to edit.

Second, the Star Trek series of reviews have been pushed to next month. The little emergency delayed much of my writing, but things will be back on track soon.

And thank you all for your putting up with the delays. I needed to take care of some other things, and your patience is appriciated :)

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Dr. Who and the Daleks (Flemyng 1965)

Is there such a thing as a “just war”? If so, who gets to decide what is or isn’t just? That is the central question at the heart of the original television serial “The Daleks”, the second ever story from the television series Doctor Who, back in 1963. Despite its original intended function to serve as both an adventure series and partial educational program, “The Daleks” radically altered the series by giving it not only its most famous foe in the Nazi inspired Daleks, which became an outright phenomenon, but also delved heavily into ethical debates and social commentary in a fairly mature and dark manner for what was intended as a children’s program. So naturally, in hopes of expanding the awareness of Doctor Who and the Daleks across outside of Britain, a film adaptation was done, in full colour and with a decent, though not large, budget. Thus, Dr. Who and the Daleks was born.

In the film, Dr. Who (Peter Cushing), a human inventor rather than alien Time Lord as in the series, is introduced by his eldest granddaughter Barbra (Jennie Lindin) to her boyfriend Ian (Roy Castle), a bumbling and accident prone young man. Dr. Who takes Ian and his granddaughters (including a young girl named Susan played by Roberta Tovey) to visit his latest invention, the TARDIS (Time and Relative Dimension Space), a space and time machine housed inside a British Police Box. Thanks to one of Ian’s accidents, the TARDIS lands on the planet Skaro, where a hateful species known as the Daleks have evolved into mutant creatures, housed in protective, tank-like armour, after the fallout of a massive nuclear war. Another group, known as the Thals, are committed pacifists and have found a drug to prevent the effects of the radiation poisoning. Running out of food, the Thals wish to make peaceful contact with the Daleks in hopes of helping one another. However, the Daleks seek not only the drug, but the extermination of the Thals entirely. Trapped on Skaro and in need of a vital component for the TARDIS, Dr. Who and his fellow travellers become involved in order to find a way to get home.

While the conflict that drives the story is one of war vs. pacifism, the main question raised and debated in the television version is if there ever is a right reason to go to war. The question comes to the forefront in the television version as the TARDIS crew debates asking the Thals to fight the Daleks: the Doctor (William Hartnell), seeking to recover a portion of his ship the Daleks have, believes they are fully within their right to ask the Thals to fight; Ian (William Russell), a school teacher and strong moralist, believes that they have no right to ask the Thals for help. Rather, the Thals have to come to fight for their own sake, rather than that of others. The debate is vital not only to the themes of the story, but crafts real characters out of the TARDIS crew as they face an ethical dilemma. Furthermore, when Ian puts a plan in action to try and convince the Thals to fight for their own good, the parallels in his plan to the Doctor’s own earlier manipulation of the TARDIS crew leave the viewer in conflict over whether Ian is right or not.

Such moral complexities and rich characterization are not to be found in Dr. Who and the Daleks, which simplifies the conflict down and transforms most of its characters into stock types. Rather, the film becomes an unquestioning salute to human (ie Western) values, as our characters sweep in and become a “guiding light” to the “poor Thals” who have taken pacifism too far. The film thus becomes oddly colonialist and paternalistic, reducing the Thals as a race and society while the film ironically tries to decry the Nazi-like racial hatred of the Daleks.

Central to this problem is the character of Dr. Who. While Cushing, ever the professional, delivers a solid performance and makes his character into a quirky and loveable grandfather figure, he cannot overcome the problem in the film handing over too much moral authority to the character. Not only does it dramatically hurt the film as there is no one for Dr. Who to talk to on the same level, but in transforming the character of the Doctor into a human rather than alien, he becomes an embodiment of Western values and ideals, a “proper” man to whose example should be followed. Ironically, this is the exact opposite problem the series tends to run into these days, where the Doctor is often transformed into some osrt of alien messiah.

The end result of these alterations makes Dr. Who and the Daleks a rather hollow experience, rather than the rich one the television version is. However, that isn’t to say that Dr. Who and the Daleks is entirely devoid of value. One of the flaws of the original story, the pacing, is dealt with, offering a far brisker telling of the tale that adds some life to the events. Furthermore, Dr. Who and the Daleks benefits from its larger budget. A colour production, the film gains a level of scope that was entirely unachievable on television, from the trek to the city through the wastelands of the planet, too even the Dalek’s city, which, while not the stuff of legends as far as production design goes, does manage to impress.

The film also does manage to have a few nice touches throughout, such as the opening scene of the film which introduces Dr. Who reading a comic book in contrast to the physics texts his granddaughters are reading. And while the score of the film will never be as iconic as the Doctor Who theme proper from the series, the music by Barry Gray and Malcolm Lockyer is a fun little jazz score which gives a little punch to the events of the film.

As it stands though, I have to make my recommendation the same as the last Doctor Who review I did, and state that the film will probably only be of interests to hardcore fans of the show as a historical oddity. Of course, the film was successful enough to spawn one sequel. Could it be any better? I wonder...

Sunday, January 3, 2010


Due to an emergency, there will be no posts for the next few days.

Saturday, January 2, 2010

I HATE Doing This, But,...

...the review will be delayed till tomorrow, AGAIN. Between work, fitting in a screening of the next film for review, and recovering from a headache, I am not going to try and rush edit my new review. Sorry folks.

Friday, January 1, 2010

One Day Delay

Sorry folks, thanks to real life, the next review has been delayed till tomorrow.