Welcome to Marvel Phase Three. Another Free Comic Book Day, another Marvel Movie. I have to ask: Just what the whiskey tango foxtrot happened to Age of Ultron while Civil War is amaze balls. Don’t get me wrong, Age of Ultron had it’s moments, like the farmhouse which I personally loved because sometimes you need the heroes to rally and lick their wounds. Less, cave of exposition and more farmhouse.
“Don’t turn round.” This is the episode that horror writers/directors should watch to see the tension get wretched up without the cheap thrills, blood or music. Written by Stephen Moffat it takes it’s themes from Don’t Blink and Silence in the Library without the use of the Angels that have become the Borg to the Doctor’s Enterprise. Listen begins with Doctor positing a theory: Are we actually alone when we talk out loud or do we have a companion? He does this by himself in the TARDIS. Writing things down and pacing around the set. Capaldi nails it like Tennent would’ve while Smith probably wouldn’t have nailed the dismount. I know some Smith fans may not want to hear this but the Doctor on a caffeine high has left the building. I hope a Neil Gaiman Capadi episode but it doesn’t look like that’s gonna happen this season. While the Doctor sets the mood, Clara and Danny Pink have a first date. The date doesn’t go well and Clara comes home to find the Doctor and the TARDIS occupying 3/4 of her bedroom. In the post haze of the bad date, the Doctor uses the TARDIS to focus on Clara’s timeline and pop back to see where Clara had that dream everyone has about something under the bed. Except, instead of Clara’s timeline we get to Rupert Pink and soon find out that yes, there probably is something under the bed and all it takes is a bed sheet, Capaldi and good direction and we get a successor to Blink. But, it doesn’t stop there. Clara asks to go back to the date and retry with Danny until Clara name drops Rupert and everything implodes again because Danny is Rupert. It implodes even more when the orange spaceman suit walks into the restaurant and motions Clara to follow him. It’s at this point no one gets up and demands to know why, this is Cardiff after all, the populace is so desensitized to the Doctor’s shenanigans that no one blinks at the strange. Torchwood should’ve been like this: Oh, more alien crap, thattaway, Torchwood and go back to their tea. The man in the spacesuit isn’t the Doctor but Orson Pink and the Doctor found him 100 years into Clara’s timeline, they launched him into space and he promptly got Buck Rogers and now he’s the last man in the universe but he’s not alone. Once Orson saves the Doctor, Clara tries to fix things and goes back down the timeline and lands in a barn and gives a crying child a good speech about the things that go bump in the night. The barn didn’t make sense at first until we find out why. The why was nicely done and I won’t ruin it here but it’s a great call back that I didn’t see coming and it really worked. Clara’s dialogue with the new Doctor continues to be a highlight while she gets her history filled in even if it’s possible future. Danny’s soldier days while not big speed bump like they were in Into the Dalek is better this time round. I think he’ll make a good addition to the companions once we see him in action and not him as a child or his great grandson. It was a good episode all around and highly enjoyed it.
For everyone who complained (not me) about episodes 1+2 being off and Episode 3 being back on track were half right. Episode 3 is a classic Doctor Who historical episode. Clara makes a request to go see a fictional character and while the Doctor tries to dissuade her, she puts down her foot and we return to Nottingham, 12th century and are instantly greeted by Robin Hood much to the Doctor’s annoyance. The tropes are there, Doctor and Robin fight on a bridge, each man besting each other. #3’s fencing comes in handy, although not as one might expect. The Merry Men are all introduced and the Sheriff while not as menacing as Alan Rickman, he’s still wants power and is willing to do anything to get it. And they all fight with English accents. Ha za! As always something is wrong and the Doctor begins looking for it within the men then the environment and finds it when as the tale goes, Robin walks into a trap and the Sheriff unleashes his robotic knights and thus begins our trip down the rabbit hole to figure out: 1. Is Robin and the Sheriff robots? 2. Why is the Sheriff taking all the gold? 3. Robotic knights with cross lasers in their foreheads? The fact Robin and the Doctor don’t get along is better than expected. Most of the time, the Doctor and his new friends generally get along well but the constant back and forth between him and the Earl of Loxley was refreshing. All the while, Clara can’t stand any of it since the Doctor’s normal plan is to use his now stolen sonic screwdriver. I’ve been enjoying Capaldi since episode 1 and this episode felt right on the money. No picking up Clara, just straight into the story. Tardis arriving shot and the whole nine. Clara gets a bit more to work with besides the added tae kwon do (which makes great sense with all the adventuring) when she’s interrogating the Sheriff of his plans. Thankfully, he’s not a robot because we’ve had that trope before and it’s been done to death. The robots from episode 1 make a re-appearance but not as clockwork as they were before and we’re given enough backstory that they landed here from the 29th Century headed to The Promised Land to make repairs to the engines and forged an alliance with the Sheriff. The Doctor rallies the prisoners in the Sheriffs dungeon and destroys most of the robots in the simplest fashion for the time without his sonic screwdriver. The only thing missing is Missy and not welcoming the Sheriff to The Promised Land but we don’t want to repeat ourselves from last episode. Overall, great episode. Throughly enjoyed it.
(Image courtesy of David Catterall) The carry over from the Matt Smith years continues with the Doctor in the beginning of his journey only to have to pick Clara up from school before dashing off to face down the pepper shakers of doom. The ole’ Daleks are back! Ha za! No more Skittle colored Daleks to be found! No Devros. No Emperor Dalek. No eye stalks coming out people’s heads. No creep factor that was Asylum of the Daleks. Instead, we do actually go to the most dangerous place in all the universe. Taking place on a human ship hiding in an asteroid belt from the Daleks, the Doctor rescues, Journey Blue played by Zawe Ashton just as her space ship is about to be blown up and returns her to her uncle, Col. Morgan Blue played by Michael Smiley on board the aforementioned spaceship, Aristotle and is greeted by an imprisoned Dalek that cares. Meanwhile, Clara is introduced to Danny Pink played by Samuel Anderson, a former soldier who from most reports will be another companion this year. Danny isn’t dragged along this time and is left for most of the episode so the Doctor, Clara, Journey and 2 red shirts can be micronized into a Dalek to see what’s wrong with it. Yep, it’s Doctor Who meets Fantastic Voyage (which oddly enough hasn’t been remade, yet). The interior of the Dalek is a fun set piece. It may look like people climbing through a big computer. But anything with roving eyes that act as anti-bodies is pretty creepy cool. It feels more real than the dungeon set piece from Deep Breath. The Daleks and the Doctor may have been enemies before but since the Time War it’s gotten worse. Once the Dalek’s problem is fixed it goes back to the same ole’ Exterminate routine and the solution to the problem works until the Doctor goes one step further and we get a similar problem to The Fourth Doctor’s situation in The Face of Evil. Kids, never imprint your 900+ year old brain onto anyone, m’kay? The conclusion feels foreboding enough and one might wonder if the Doctor’s hatred will cool because of this or if two angry people are going to their separate corners of the universe only to come back for a rematch. Capaldi continues to handle things well. He’s a bit sharp around the edges which is both good and bad. His treatment of the red shirts and women in particular does need a bit fine tuning to say the least. Most of the time he’s great then sometimes you have to wonder why the writers typed that in. Thankfully he’s surrounded by strong women this episode and more than once gets slapped and pushed against the wall demanding to know why he just let someone die after giving them false hope. Journey tries to hop a ride but the Doctor turns her down due to her tenancy to shoot first and ask politely later. If and when the next companion slot opens up, I hope they’d return to the character to see if she’s changed. The ongoing plot thread for this season is Missy. First introduced in last weeks episode and welcoming the antagonistic robot to the “promised land”, she welcomes one of the red shirts to “Heaven” and offers her tea. So who is Missy, exactly? Theories are running the gamut from Rani to TARDIS to Master. I’m happy we’re getting something. The last season with the Great Intelligence wasn’t so great and lack any emotional punch or set up. The Doctor does need an ongoing plot in the background to keep things interesting from a crack in the wall to John Saxon.
So as the E3 continues to roll on, the Ubisoft fallout over no playable women characters continues on blogs from Bennett North‘s to Chuck Wendig. I hope James Therien isn’t the biggest whiner in the world because his sound bytes sure sound like he’s biggest whiner, ever. Did some fact checking via the web*: Aveline de Grandpré from Assassins Creed III and Black Flag was a playable character. So that means, all the code these whiners are complaining about is already in the computer. And sure, it may take a while to “update” aka spend time but it’s already been done. If the code for a playable female character is already in the computer why are we even having this conversation? Instead of continuing with the playable female character that had been a plus for Ubisoft like it was for BioWare when female Shepard popularity shot through the roof, instead, we get a speed bump and negative traction on social media. MMORPGs have been doing player customization for years while console games have struggled to catch up to make sure their On-Line version can be played out of the box. Patches come later. Personally, I enjoy customizing characters. I’d rather get shot by someone different then just a different tinted Master Chief. Why isn’t Cortana a playable character? It’d be fun to get killed by a giant blue naked A.I.. She’s a reverse Dr. Manhattan. Hell, even EVE On-line got into it. Downloadable Content (DLC), Season Passes and pre-order to play XYZ character is unfortunately the next big thing. I say unfortunately for several reasons: 1. I want to customize and choose playable characters (like Harley Quinn) out of the box. 2. Oh, right, is this extra feature going to work next year when the iteration of the game drops? Question 3. See question 2. Question 2 is big problem if like me you play Call of Duty Games. Call of Duty has become a annual national holiday in upon itself. And none of the DLC’s or levels are portable. Player customization for sandbox games like GTA, Saint’s Row, Watchdogs and Dead Rising is half the fun of these games. It should be half the fun of any game. Code and time be damned. Tiger Woods’s golf games have character creation trees that put WOW to shame. ** Ubisoft should be able fix this problem by the time the next game launches. Ask for forgiveness and pledge that playable female characters will be on their to-do list going forward. Hey, if Microsoft can dump the Kinect out of Xbox One then Ubisoft can do this. If they can’t and if their upcoming game The Division has no playable female characters then it’s more than time to start a letter writing campaign. Maybe get Aiysha Tyler to knock some sense into them… * If I got my facts wrong, I blame the web. Move along. ** Yes, I’m repeating myself with that Tiger Woods line.
Live. Die. Repeat. Based on Hiroshi Sakurazaka’s book with the title All You Need Is Kill, Edge of Tomorrow is directed by Doug Liman and stars Tom Cruise, Emily Blunt and a cast of rememberable grunts fighting off hordes of alien spaghetti monsters called Mimics.
Scott Kurtz from PVP Webcomic covered a lot of the misgivings I had with X-Men Days of Future Past. I’ll try and find other things to complain about. If you haven’t seen X-Men: First Class, I recommend watching it because it’s a breath of fresh air after X3 and X-Men Origins: Wolverine. Read my review of it: here. X-Men: Days of Future Past assembles both casts and directed by Bryan Singer who directed X-Men 1+2. The plot is bumpy because the movie doesn’t know what it wants to be.