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Female Dr. Who – from dissappointment to trepidation to excitement

Jodie Whittaker Doctor

The more I think about Jodie Whittaker as the Doctor the more excited I get.

Something in my head told me that the new Doctor would be a woman but when it was first announced that Jodie Whittaker would be taking over I was a little disappointed. Not out of any sexist agenda but more because having a female Doctor could change the whole dynamics of the show. It has been said that changing male roles to female is not the way forward and that writers should just create more strong female characters. I am great believer in this. That is one reason I love Star Wars so much, each main character is designed well and there are both female and ethnic minority roles who do not feel like they are just shoe horned in.
The more I thought, and the more rubbish I read on the Internet, I realised I was being unfair. We need to give Jodie a chance like we do all Doctors and judge her on her performances (hoping the writers do her justice and do not write her as a strong woman but a strong Doctor with plenty of quirks). She is a great actress after all. But as I was thinking this something else happened, I started to think about Michelle Gomez as Missy. She was great in that role and her performances did not distance her from the role of the Master, she was an excellent addition to that character’s timeline.
So why can’t Jodie Whittaker make an excellent Doctor? I for one will give her a chance. I am now interested to see who the companion will be, will it be a male? Let’s hope it is not just some eye candy or Dr. Who will have gone backwards. Maybe Bill can come back and fancy the Doctor leading to an interesting relationship.
Maybe all my concerns are because I wanted Idris Elba, but he would make a better Master anyway (if he/she has survived)! Right, now the only disappointment is that we need to wait till Christmas to see Jodie Whittaker’s Doctor. I want to see it now!

 

Is Snoke the last Jedi? A twist on that theory (SPOILERS)

I suppose I should say that there are SPOILERS in this post, if you have not seen Episodes 3 to 7 of Star Wars then stop reading. But then again, if you have not watched them then why are you reading this? Go get them on your telebox now! So, on to the post…

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the-last-jedi-logoIf you have read any of my previous Star Wars posts you will know that I am a massive fan of the movies but I do not read the books or comics or even play the games. For this reason all my ideas come from the movies. What I like about the new films are that they allow us to keep guessing and coming up with theories (of which mine are probably completely wrong!). I had this theory about Rey being one of many young Jedi that escaped Kylo Ren’s attack and need to be awakened. However, recently, given the title of the new film, I am thinking that Snoke might be the aforementioned last Jedi.

A theory, based on some information from a novel, has come out but I have a slightly different idea. In Episode 3 we see the Jedi wiped out bar two, Obi-Wan and Yoda. Both of which go into hiding. The deaths in the film do not account for all the Jedi in the galaxy. What if another got free and was left searching the galaxy for his kin, wanting to battle the dark side but filled with rage about what happened? What if that Jedi finds out about Yoda and Obi-Wan and feels betrayed? He has been searching but effectively these, more senior, Jedi have left him for dead. He starts to become twisted and evil (sound familiar) and turns to the dark side. He hates the Empire but does not feel affiliated to the Jedi. He watches from a distance, waiting for his time to strike. When the Jedi start to rebuild through Luke he can wait no longer, using the ashes of the Empire to start his plan of destroying all the Jedi and, unfortunately, becoming more like the Empire than he planned. That Jedi has become Snoke. He could have been scarred by the Order 66 attack but got away and has been using Sith powers to keep himself alive.

It is a theory that has buzzed about my head since they released the title of Episode 8 and what is more, it fits in with my Rey theory. Maybe I will now go and watch Episode 3 again to see if any of the Jedi survive!

Rogue One: The Star Wars movie we have been waiting for (SPOILERS)

Some people think that the measure of a good movie is the number of effects or the cleverness of the script or that it pushes boundaries and goes where no other films have gone. To me, there is only one thing I really want, entertainment. The best films, in my opinion, are those that feel a lot shorter than they are, the ones where you realise you are at the final act and it seems that no more than half an hour has passed. This is why I think Rogue One is so good, I found myself sitting in the cinema knowing we were near the end but for the life of me I could not understanding how that much time could have passed so quickly. On leaving to cinema I started to think about the film a little more and I realised that this was the Star Wars film we have all been waiting for. Before I go on I must say that there will be spoilers (if you had not worked that out from the title of the post!) so if you have not seen the film then DO NOT read on. In fact I will make it all even clearer…

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Right, now the large spangly banner is out the way let’s get down to business. Before we go any further I must say I was a lot more excited by Rogue One pre the film’s release than I was The Force Awakens, maybe it was that I knew it was going to feel nostalgic. In some ways this makes me more critical, I was expecting it to be good whereas The Force Awakens came after the prequels in release order and was Disney’s first Star Wars so I was skeptical. I think this high expectation is what makes Rogue One even better in my eyes. Whereas The Force Awakens seemed to be a clone of the other movies, Rogue One really pays homage by including links to the other Star Wars films without allow them to dictate the story. From the blue milk in Galen’s house to cameos such as that from Cornelius Evazan and Ponda Baba and onto mentions of Obi-wan being in hiding, Rogue One gives you the feeling of nostalgia but not deja vu. Possibly my favourite scene in the whole film is a hark to the past, at the end where Vader brutally kills the rebel soldiers much like he did when he was Anakin Skywalker trying to save his mother from the sand people. All these make your feel part of the Star Wars universe but if you took the scenes or references out of the movie the story would not really be different.

I also like that that the movie is not so much about the Death Star but the band of rebels who are trying to steal the plans. I have read a lot of comments and reviews that complain that it is another Death Star story but I think it works as it takes it from a different angle. I love the way they have explained why the problem with the thermal exhaust port exists, it stops doubters and moaners whining about plot holes. I also think the fact you know this movie is not about destroying the Death Star but a reconnaissance mission makes it a different type of Star Wars film. Another triumph is the lack of Jedi and Sith, it would be so easy to shoe horn in someone like Obi-Wan or Yoda then them leave and say they will not tell anyone or that they will wait for a signal before starting Luke’s training. Instead the film just completely ignores them, bar one mention of Old Ben.

My major concern going into the movie was the introduction of new characters and how they were going to deal with where these were later in the series but the idea of killing them all off is great. It is dark, dark like The Empire Strikes Back was, and ties up any loose ends. The way they kill them all is not an ‘oh and they are all dead or cannot be found,’ type affair, it is a legitimate part of the story line. The characters I was most concerned about were the Death Troopers. Whilst I actually quite like the prequels (ok Attack of the Clones is pretty bad) I did not like the idea that the Clone Troopers were so different from Storm Troopers. Now there are new ones that never existed in the original trilogy. Oh wait, they are Krennic’s personal guard and are all killed along with everyone else. Got it, that is why they are not there.

Another great part of the film for me was that there are parts that are set up that will clearly lead to bits in the new films, particularly the idea of the former Jedi Temple on Jedha. This adds to the mythology and we might hear more about that as Luke has visited the first Jedi Temple. I wonder if Rey’s parents are somehow set up or linked to in Rogue One, we just do not know about it yet. I also love that they have woven the story into the existing films, little touches like having Krennic die and there is an empty chair on the head table on the Death Star and us seeing Red Five be destroyed, the call sign that becomes Lukes.

Also the development of character was good, it really was all about them and not the tech. You really felt for Erso and Andor and could see why they were justified in their decisions even though they came to them from different places. I liked that you had both a strong male and strong female lead, that lots of people could identify with them. I really enjoyed the hints at a relationship between them, that sort of ill fated love, the knowledge there was something special between them, something they almost realised before they were annihilated. My favourite character by far, however, was K-2SO. He was so cocky, sarcastic and clever but also very insecure. I love the way that Star Wars makes droids more than machines and I truly feel that K-2SO is the most human feeling of the lot. I had that Darth Maul moment when he was killed allowing Erso and Andor to get the Death Star plans, I wish he was actually in Episode 7 so they could have kept him for more movies. I love R2, C3PO and BB-8 but K-2 steals the show for me.

That massive love in is not to say that there were not areas of the movie I would change but they were not the large ones involving characters and plot I thought they might be. My main gripes are really that Darth Vader’s voice does not sound quite right, I know it is James Earl Jones but maybe the changes in his voice in third odd years means he may not have been the right man for the job. The CGI versions of Tarkin and Leia were good but they did not quite feel right, maybe they can be revisited in the future as technology advances. Also the title screen looked a bit naff, I understand not going with the classic opening scrawl but it looked a little bit like bad word art to me. A pale recreation of the Star Wars text, it may have been the same font but it did not look right to me. Finally, the soundtrack was good but it was not quite up to John William’s standard. A grade A copy but not quite the real thing. These things I can forgive, they are minor blips in an otherwise excellent movie.

So, Rogue One is definitely a great movie, one of the best I have seen at the cinema for a long time. It is a different sort of Star Wars movie but feels part of the whole saga and ties all the films together. It is definitely worth a watch, a second viewing and buying on Blu-ray. It also makes me more excited for Episode 8. Maybe I was not as excited for Episode 7 as it was all a bit new and I did not know where it was going. Rogue One was safe territory, albeit it one that was executed with aplomb. A Star Wars movie where the Storm Troopers can actually shoot is not a bad thing!

Who is Rey? My theory

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Rey is an excellent character but who exactly is she?

Everyone and their dog is giving out Star Wars theories after watching The Force Awakens. I have not really given it much thought until recently. I managed to see Episode 7 in the cinema once but then got back to my hectic life before watching it twice in a week since the blu-ray was released. Many fans said it was much better the second time around as you got over that, ‘Oh yes, I’m watching a new Star Wars,’ feeling and I have to say that I agree. I am starting to move away from the it’s just a rehash of A New Hope and noticing themes and scenes from all six movies in there. It really is a homage and I hope that means they have got the sentiment out of the way for the next two films.

Amongst the list of questions about Episode 7, one of the biggest is, who is Rey? I had a great, if unlikely, idea when I first watched it in that Rey was a descendent of Palpatine and that she has been left on Jakku when Luke realised she could be dangerous. Since rewatching I have a new theory, one that has some form of evidence to back it up, well a few quotes from the film. I suppose I should say SPOILER ALERT but if you have read the title of the post then you probably know there are going to be spoilers.

Right, here goes. I will start off with my theory then try to explain it. Rey is one of a handful of Jedi Younglings that escaped the massacre by Kylo Ren and has had her memory wiped. I must admit I have not read any of the material around The Force Awakens and base my theories completely on seeing the film. So the real question is, why do I think this? Well first I will look at why I think that Rey was a Jedi Youngling. Firstly there is the awakening, she has clearly been trained in the Jedi arts and some of her training is coming back to her as she gets involved in the conflict. Secondly, although J.J. Abrams did says this was a mistake, Leia ignores Chewie to hug Rey so it would appear they may have met before. Next we have the fact that Luke’s lightsabre calls to Rey and she gets some flashbacks of what has happened leading up to this point. So I think with all that we could assume she has been trained as some sort of Jedi. Another piece of information comes from the fact that Kylo Ren keeps asking, “what girl?” When they meet he does not seem to know her but could it be that he knows some people escaped the massacre and that she may be one of these people? Also when he looks into her mind he sees that she dreams about an island in the middle of a great ocean, remind you of anything? Yep, the first Jedi Temple that Luke has exiled himself too. Does this mean that she has been there before, for training, or could it be Luke sending her a message as to where he is? Could Luke also be sending a message to her through the lightsabre? Also, in terms of her being left on Jakku, she could not have been put in a more horrible position. A place where people could easily disappear and if you are searching for someone, a place you would not think to look. Potentially a really good place to hide from the First Order. On top of this we did have Obi-wan keeping an eye on Luke on Tatooine, could Lor San Tekka be tasked with making sure Rey does not get into any trouble?

So those points may add up to show she is a former Jedi Youngling or at least has some Jedi training. But I did say one of many Jedi. It makes sense that if they are hiding one Jedi they may be hiding more. Another point on this is that Snoke mentions that if they get to Luke first they can stop the Jedi returning. Is it that Luke has the power to give them back their memories? That he knows where all the Jedi Younglings are hidden so the First Order want to get to him to stop this happening. If it was just about killing the last Jedi then surely the First Order would let the Resistance have the map and follow them then attack and kill Luke? Without Luke’s knowledge of where all the Younglings are then the First Order may not find them and they may all start to awaken, with memories flooding back they may come together and create the Jedi once again. Is that why Snoke wants the girl as he can look into her head and see the memories so he can find the rest of the Younglings?

The final shot of the film has Luke looking remorseful and downbeaten, is that because he knows that this is the real start of the fight, that he now needs to awaken the other Younglings to take down the First Order so the Jedi can flourish once again?

Well, there we go, that is my take on it, I may be completely wrong but at least it is fun to theorise. Also one of the greatest things about this trilogy is we have no idea where it is going, I do really like the prequels (they are nowhere near as bad as everyone says in my opinion) but you knew how they would end. The only really downer is that we now need to wait till December 2017 to get some answers and with the third installment not until 2019 we may not even get half the answers we want. Oh well, at least Rouge One is on the horizon.

The RoboCop reboot actually made me think!

It’s not very often I like a blockbuster and even less often I think one more than some mindless action, but I have got to say that I really enjoyed the RoboCop reboot. Maybe it is because I have never seen the 1987 original but I would like to feel that it is more to do with it being a film that makes you think. Yes there is the obvious upgraded digital effects, predictable storyline and masses of explosions and gunshots with a complete abandon to the damage that is actually being done. But more than this there are some interesting issues. I think the technical term is themes. I have never liked using the word themes as it gives an air of pomposity and RoboCop is by no means a pompous film.

Before I continue I suppose I better issue the obligatory SPOILER ALERT. Although this is not a review but more of a, ‘oh, that was surprisingly good,’ I will need to reveal some story details. So now you have been suitably warned.

The first time I stopped thinking RoboCop was nothing more than a blast-em-up was when they were going to present him to the Detroit public. Yes, at this point I understood that OmniCorp were an evil corporation with a scientist that did questionable things to gain funding for the good he was doing and thus there was a question over his morality and as such we were asked to wonder if effect outweighed cause, but I only saw this as a plot device that was used to get more explosions. However, when RoboCop could not handle all the data being put in his head and they used dopamine to suppress his emotions so he could be controlled I started to think more, especially about the fact that he was now more machine than man. He really was a product of OmniCorp and not a human any more. This made me think more about the way they had manipulated his wife to allow them to experiment and what kind of life would RoboCop actually have? He was never in control, never had a say and could be switched on and off when required. He was nothing more than a glorified executive toy like a sports car or speed boat, an expensive piece of equipment that served one purpose, to allow a multinational company to shift more product in an uncapitalised market. This is made worse by the control that OmniCorp seem to have over areas of the Government and it is only one opposer who is really stopping them gaining access to the American market. They clearly have sway over a popular news program which might be talking about how multinationals today influence us through their use and manipulation of the media.
So I suppose we can boil the themes (I know, I said I hate that word!) down to the following…

    • Multinational companies controlling populations and having power over Government and media
    • People being deceived by multinationals so said companies can gain more profits
    • The lengths and depths people will go to to achieve their own goals, even if those goals are positive to society as a whole
    • Corruption within Government departments
    • At what point is a human no longer a human? What do we need to replace for them to still be human? Is an arm or leg enough or do we need to take away their free will?
    • Can we ever truly control someone or will, like RoboCop did, they break free from their programming?

Now I know the script is not the best and the acting is not amazing, Gary Oldman, Samual L. Jackson and Michael Keaton were good but Joel Kinnaman was just gruff and that was it. However, I don’t expect to be challenged whilst watching a Hollywood blockbuster, I really don’t expect to be thinking about complex social and moral issues. For RoboCop to make this happen for me I am very thankful. Maybe it was all me reading too much info an ok action movie, but I will say this, it kept my attention much more than any blockbusters have for a long while and has at least made me think about certain issues more deeply. I can’t say anything like Transformers or Clash of the Titans has even given me more than the thought I could have spent two hours of my life a lot more productively.

Marvel’s Agents of Shield:Worth Sticking With

It is fair to say that I know most of what I do about comic books from cartoon adaptations from when I was a child. I loved the Spiderman and X-Men adaptations made in the 90s as they dispensed with the fluffy ‘the world has to be nice and the hero always wins tripe’ and gave us serial stories that felt more believable whilst still not being too adult in content. I have read some X-Men comics but all other understanding of the universes out there are from trawling the internet or watching the myriad of superhero films. It is the films in particular that I find very hit or miss. Many stories are predictable and for every ‘good’ superhero movie there are three or four ‘average’ or worse ones. For example, whilst X-Men 1 and 2 are fantastic the whole line of Spiderman films are just a tad boring for my liking. Iron Man is fantastic, largely due to Robert Downey Jr., but we also have to put up with Daredevil, Hulk and Ghost Rider. The Batman reboot is fantastic, excellent acting and dark storylines, but this has grown out of epic failures such as Batman and Robin and the cult but very camp 1960s TV series.

It was on the back of this scepticism of superhero movies that I started to watch Marvel’s Agents of Shield. To keep the trend of ‘good’ going hand in hand with ‘poor’, I like the Thor movies as well as Iron Man however I was not fully won over by Captain America, and The Avengers (or Avengers Assemble in the UK) left me feeling a bit cold. The first episode of Agents of Shield was interesting, an intreaging underground network known as The Rising Tide, a corrupt organisation using dangerous technology to create superheroes (centipede) and the do-gooders S.H.I.E.L.D. at loggerheads with one another. It set up an interesting premise and the fact it tied so well into the movie franchise only added more gusto. It seemed as if the series would build up to reveal dark secrets, have recurring enemies and leave you guessing at every turn. To my disappointment this did not really happen. As the series continued the lack of peril made uncomfortable viewing, you knew that whatever scrapes the team got into either Ward or May would come out swinging and get them out of it. If they needed some new tech to beat an enemy then Fitz and Simmons were there and when they needed some unknown information they would turn to Sky. Although well acted, unusual for a superhero series, there was very little care for the characters. It all felt a little sterile and somehow distant from the movies. There was a cameo from Samuel L. Jackson as Nick Fury but other than that, and some events from the films being mentioned, there were few links. There are a few other areas that irked me too, particularly that they keep mentioning the lack of people with psychic super powers however this is the same universe as X-Men and I only need point you towards Professor X and Jean Gray.

I am now nearing the end of series one and am glad I stuck with it. I have little time to watch TV and can only put it down to the fact there is little on I want to watch at the moment that I am still tuning in every week. However, the game seemed to change a few episodes ago. A random message from *spoiler alert* Hydra twisted the whole plot on its head. Suddenly I care what they did to Phil Coulson, they explained what happened then turn it round so you don’t know if that is really what went on. Now I am cringing every time I see any of the team doing something for Ward, knowing where his allegiances lie. Or do I? Is he going to turn back to the light for Sky? May is a lot more interesting now we know her purpose and even more so since going AWOL. We also know there is something special about Sky, buy what? I understand that they may have dragged the series out because of when films will be released but I wish they had started this change of momentum earlier.

Agents of Shield has been worth sticking with, but there are a few ways it could be improved. I would like to see more cameos from The Avengers. I hope that the agents in the show will appear in some of the films, even if only bit parts. I also hope that Deathlock gets a large part in a film or at least teams up with other villains in the TV series. So basically Agents of Shield has pulled itself back from the brink. Let’s hope it can continue to move forward and not drag out again to simply become an advert for the big screen adaptations.

Does every tale need a love story woven in?

Recently I read To Kill a Tsar by Andrew Williams. Whilst I enjoyed the book I found the love story between Anna and Hadfield to be a bit of a distraction. I understand it is a literary device to bring an Englishman into the Russian Revolution and in many ways make it more accessible to British audiences, however I really did not enjoy it. At one point there was a sex scene which seemed a little at odds with the rest of the story. I wanted more of the revolution, of people’s struggles and the differences between the revolutionaries and the government. Maybe I am just more intrigued by historic fact, by what people are hiding rather than what they do and say. I like the mystery, I like to be kept guessing and coming up with my own theories of what is behind character’s decisions. I feel good when I am proven right but love it more when a twist in the tale moves it in a direction I was not expecting. This got me thinking about other books I have read and the shows that I watch on TV. Nearly all have a love story woven in, by that I mean boy meets girl or boy likes boy or even girl falls for girl. But I do not read or watch for that reason. I am fed up of the X-Factor style sob story or the idea that a character is motivated by doing it for the love of their life. I don’t mind the love between a family but that lusty, sickening I can’t live without you stuff just makes my head spin and my stomach churn. The only genre that seems to dispense with this ideal is comedy. Not many Terry Pratchett novels have a love story and most sitcoms use it as more dysfunctional couples or are set in places where love like that is abnormal, I am talking about things like The IT Crowd or Father Ted. These are shows and books that I feel most passionate about. It was then that I started to think about my own writing. Not a single piece I have written or plan to write has a love story in it. I am in a very settled place in my personal life, I have a wonderful wife and a gorgeous son so don’t need to think about this stuff. OK I do do the odd romantic thing but I am not thinking ‘I would die for you!’ The thing is I would die for my wife and son I just don’t portray that in everyday life. Therefore when I write I don’t thinking about these things, yes I feel uneasy writing a love story and would feel physically sick writing a sex scene, I think that is largely down to mentioning anatomy that is generally hidden from view and it all feeling a bit low-class porn, however, in some stories I actively avoid it. The Wings of Aysh-Karal is about ideas other than love and a teen fiction book I am planning moves away from that as I feel it would detract from the story. So the thing that I realise about myself is that I like subterfuge, I like twists and turns, a story taken into an unexpected place and don’t want a love story cluttering that up or taking me away from the real point of the tale. But is this the correct way to think? Do we need a little love to bring different audiences in? Can we really have a tale devoid of the traditional idea of a love story? I think we can, I think we need to be bold and I think we need to tell the story we want and not have to place in plot devices that we feel do not fit just to conform to social norms. I intend to send one or two of my stories to publishing houses, it will be interesting to see if they notice the lack of a love story and want that woven in just to reach a larger audience or they see what I write for what it is, a story that is intended to intrigue and entertain, and hopefully keep people guessing.