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Movies I want to see get made

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I have a very obvious passion for movies and as someone who wants to get involved in the film industry, I have some ideas of my own to pitch to Hollywood. So here we go-

  • A sequel to the Nightmare Before Christmas
    tnbc

I know, sequels sometimes suck, and making a sequel to one of my favourite films would be hard to get right. But I believe it can work, just as long as it’s done in stop-motion and the songs are good. The reason I pick this movie to have a sequel is because the film established a brilliant universe, and we only see Halloween and Christmas Town, meaning there’s a lot more potential. In a sequel, Easter Town could be explored, as well as others like St Georges Town (a dragon as their ambassador perhaps?) a Chinese New Year’s Town (with 12 rotating ambassadors) and a Valentine’s Day Town (with Cupid as the ambassador). So here’s the plot. The Krampus, the Sandman, Nian and the Bunyip have risen from the dark corners of myth and folklore and launch an attack on the collective Holiday Towns. So Jack must team up with Santa and the other holiday ambassadors to fight them off.

  • A Ben 10 movie

ben 10

One of my childhood shows, Ben 10 appealed to me because I was 10 and I’m called Ben. The show is about a young boy who discovers an alien watch that turns him into different aliens, each one unique and interesting. The series evolved into a more mature show called Alien Force, with Ben and his friends as teenagers and a slightly darker tone with cooler, less childish aliens, which has my all time favourite alien from the show, Brainstorm, who still sits on my shelf. Also, he’s a psychic crab. This was my favourite version of the show. Ultimate Alien then followed with even more awesome aliens. I don’t watch the show now obviously but I think it was genuinely great and it has fantastic potential for a movie. There were two TV movies but I don’t remember much from them and a Hollywood movie would bring the show to life. I know I’ll be there opening weekend.

  • A Dungeons & Dragons film

dungeons and dragons

This is excrutiatingly easy to do. D&D is one of the reasons nerds exist, so a film based on it should happen, and apparently is happening. The genius of D&D is that there are no characters or storylines, so whoever writes the film can create an original plot while using the D&D world as a template. Fantasy is very popular thanks to Lord of the Rings saving the genre (not to mention the awesome Merlin TV show), but the D&D film needs to be different enough to distinguish itself. Incidentally, Lord of the Rings would be an awful D&D campaign. Too much walking and not enough dungeon crawling, and the Battle of Minas Tirith would take about a year’s worth of gaming sessions. A D&D movie would star a wide variety of species and different types of characters to reflect the 11 different classes, and the film could use D&D monsters such as the beholder and mind flayer and of course, dragons.

  • A Skulduggery Pleasant movie

skull dude

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again- this awesome book series deserves a Harry Potter style movie franchise. Just as long as it’s done with respect to the book series then us fans will be happy. Today’s technology will make Skulduggery easy to present on screen, and to have a film franchise with an unconventional hero, strong female characters and not having a dark, depressing and gritty tone would be refreshing indeed. While I’m perfectly content with the books, having a film would be the perfect way to introduce this great series to a wider audience. But, if it is made, the characters must stay Irish. I say this as a British person who loves the fact that they actually let everyone in Harry Potter have British accents, rather than American accents (which they considered) so it seems right that the Irish Skulduggery Pleasant series has Irish actors.

  • A Brexit movie
united we stand

I can’t find anything suitable so I’ll put up a Civil War poster seeing how that’s basically what was happening to the Tory Party.

This needs to happen. Seriously. A comedy-drama about the EU referendum which will probably win a lot of awards will be fascinating to watch. Everything about this whole situation is film material, from the civil war (Cameron vs Johnson), to the logistics in how David Cameron handled the referendum, to the fact that everyone involved heavily in Brexit (Johnson, Gove and Farage) have all quit/been kicked out of important positions, leaving the state of events in this country in a bit of a pickle. I would love to see how a movie presents the events that have transpired in the past few months here. Have some big name British actors (Peter Capaldi as an angry SNP member would be hilarious) to play the politicians and go nuts. I predict in a few years this movie will be nominated for Best Picture/Director and possibly Best Actor for whoever plays David Cameron or Boris Johnson.

So those were five movies I want to see get made. Honestly, I’d be fine if none of them were made, as we live in a world where geek franchises and movies are being more and more popular and mainstream. Let’s hope the trend of great geek films doesn’t come to an end.

My 5 favourite Pixar films

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One of the main reasons for my passion for film developing was my childhood watching animated films, in particular Pixar. Large chunks of my childhood was dedicated to watching them and even today I still love them. So to commemorate the release of Finding Dory (it’s not out in the UK for another month but it’s out in the US), today I’ll discuss my five favourite Pixar films-

  • Finding Nemo

Finding_Nemo

This is probably the reason why I love ocean life and aquariums. I remember as a kid just loving the giant whale and the hammerhead shark (I love hammerheads). Like most Pixar films, it has strong characters and themes which appeal to a universal audience. In Finding Nemo’s case, it is about trust and family. The characters in this film are so memorable, with my favourites being the sharks, the pelican and Dory. It’s clear why she is getting her own movie. The funniest moments are when the seagulls say “mine, mine, mine” all the time. It’s so funny, and it’s hard to take seagulls seriously afterwards.

  • WALL-E

walle

This was the first movie I remember seeing in a cinema, so I have always had a personal connection to it. Once again the characters are fantastic, with the robot on the ship who is constantly cleaning being a comedic highlight. The themes in this film are some of the strongest Pixar has dealt with, as themes about the environment and consumerism are addressed. The animation is some of Pixar’s best, with the robots and futuristic spaceship looking amazing. I also really like the villain in this movie, Auto, as he is only doing what he believes is right. That’s the best kind of villain.

  • Toy Story- all of them

toy story

Yeah, I’m cheating here. I have very fond memories of this trilogy, and I consider it to be one of three perfect trilogies (along with Star Wars and Lord of the Rings). I saw the third one in cinemas and love the other two just as much, with the second one being my favourite. There is so much to love about these movies, from the amazing characters (my personal favourite is Rex, because dinosaurs), the mature themes and the humour. As someone who recently gave a lot of toys away, it’s going to be hard to re-watch Toy Story 3. I don’t think I need to say more- these movies are a classic.

  • Inside Out

inside out

I missed this film when it was released but I saw it on the plane back from holiday and I’m glad I did. It once again goes to show how accessible Pixar is, as this movie is for everyone. It’s a truly brilliant concept with plenty of high concept ideas (I adore the train of thought). Once again the emotions and themes are really strong and prevelant, with plenty of funny moments. My favourite character is Anger, where most of the comic relief comes from. However, the main characters of Joy and Sadness are fascinating and have a great, complex relationship.

  • Up

up

I’ve mentioned this before as one of my favourite movies a while back, and when I update my list this movie is staying on. This was the second Pixar film I saw in cinemas and I have loved it ever since. The characters and emotions here are the most mature and compelling out of any Pixar film, while the ideas and imagery are hilarious. It’s amazing how a film with a flying house and talking dogs can be so human and dark, while never forgetting to be entertaining and appealing to everyone. Up is without question my favourite Pixar film.

 

So those were my five favourite Pixar films. I’ve seen every film except the Cars movies and The Good Dinosaur and I’ve enjoyed them all. I hope Pixar continue to make brilliant films for a long time.

Big Finish Doctor Who is awesome!

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It’s a hard time being a Whovian. As the show goes through a mini hiatus, us fanboys are forced to find other means to keep ourselves occupied. Fortunately, as a fanboy of practically everything, I’ve been occupied with classic Stan Lee Spider-Man. On the Doctor Who front, I’ve been surviving this long wait by watching Classic Who (The Mind Robber is spectacular) and New Who (The Zygon Invasion was hands down my favourite story of Series 9. More like this in Series 10 please) and, without sounding too pompous, meeting the Fifth Doctor himself, Peter Davison at London Comic-Con.

ben peter davison 290516 (1)

That’s one down, nine to go!

Perhaps the best way I’ve found to keep myself from going through Doctor Who withdrawal however, are the Big Finish audio dramas. Yesterday I ordered the Tenth Doctor audio dramas, with Donna as his companion. My absolute favourite Tardis team are back! How could I not want this?

allon-sy!

In short, the Big Finish Doctor Who adventures are television stories except without visuals. They were originally started during the late 90’s during the Wilderness Years (that long gap between Classic and New Who) to give the Fifth, Sixth and Seventh Doctors extra stories, with the original actors reprising their roles. This eventually extended to the Eighth Doctor to give him a proper run of stories. Tom Baker joined later, and now both John Hurt and of course David Tennant have joined in.

One of the joys of the audio dramas is that they can get away with ideas that couldn’t have been done on TV. They go dark, they go silly, they go epic, all while maintaining the Doctor Who spirit. It also made me a huge fan of Paul McGann’s Eighth Doctor. His Doctor is a blend of Two, Five and Ten, who embodies the playful, optimistic aspects of the character with the cunning and emotional gravitas. Colin Baker’s Sixth Doctor also has really really good stories, including a whole run of stories which were supposed to be made for TV but cancelled for Trial of a Time Lord. I agree that his Doctor had the worst run of stories on TV (though I love the Sil stories) but in audio his Doctor has allowed to evolve in a way similar to the Twelfth Doctor.

So now I’ll list some audio stories that I particularly enjoyed listening to. I haven’t listened to all of them (there are over 200 and cost money) so I’m sure I’ve missed some really good ones, but of the ones I’ve heard, these were the ones I liked the most-

  • Cradle of the Snake

mara

The Mara is one of my absolute favourite Doctor Who monsters and it is one I really want to see return. I consider the two stories it features in (Kinda and Snakedance) to be two of the highpoints of the Fifth Doctor era. Kinda in particular is one of my all time favourite stories. This audio features the Fifth Doctor, Tegan, Nyssa and Turlough once again facing the Mara as it tries to resurrect itself in its own past by going to Manussa in the past and takes over. What’s particularly great is how the Doctor is controlled by the Mara, forcing the companions to try and save him. I just wish this fantastic monster returns in the new series in a style similar to the Zygons in Series 9.

  • Spare Parts

spare parts

Another Fifth Doctor one, this story involves my favourite Doctor Who monster, the Cybermen, and it is essentially Genesis of the Cybermen. The Doctor and Nyssa arrive on Mondas where the population are trying to survive by upgrading and replacing their body parts, which of course leads them to turn into the Cybermen. It’s a dark story which is miles ahead of anything done to the Cybermen in the New Series (Death in Heaven got the concept right but they were still underused). As with Genesis of the Daleks, the Doctor is forced to make hard choices, as he has to let history play out. This story also serves as a great sequel to Earthshock and a prequel to the Tenth Planet.

  • Mission to Magnus

ice warriorsssss

This is one of those stories which was written for TV and then scrapped. It involves the Sixth Doctor and Peri arriving on Magnus and getting caught up in a lot of trouble, which includes the Ice Warriors and Sil the Mentor, one of my favourite Classic Series villains and another one who really needs to come back. I’m also a fan of the Ice Warriors and this is a great showing for them. It’s a story that New Who really needs to do more- just a fun romp packed with great ideas. What makes Sil such a fascinating villain is that he isn’t out to destroy the universe or take over the world- all he cares about is manipulation and control. The Doctor is also great in this. The Sixth Doctor isn’t my favourite, but on audio he really shines.

  • The Apocalypse Element

the apocalypse element

There’s going to be a lot of Sixth Doctor here. In this story, the Doctor and Evelyn (his audio exclusive companion who is a history teacher and acts as a contrast to the Sixth Doctor’s boisterous attitude) arrive back on Gallifrey in the midst of a conspiracy involving the Daleks. This story also features Romana, another one of my favourite companions. The Daleks are at there best in this one. They are ruthless and relentless in their destruction. This is one of the opening sparks of the Time War, and the Doctor is once again at his best, delivering a great speech and having great scenes with Daleks. I love stories involving Gallifrey (another reason why Hell Bent failed spectacularly) so this one was for me.

  • Point of Entry

point of entry

Another one written for TV, this one is another really dark one. The Doctor and Peri arrive in Elizabethan England and team up with Christopher Marlowe to combat Velez, a scarred Spaniard who has sinister plans. It has a dark tone but it works really well, with the Doctor’s respect for life coming into the forefront as he tries to find a peaceful solution to the situation. The villains in this one work really well and the plot has multiple layers to it, with the Doctor being partly responsible for the whole crisis. I love historical stories and this one is just fantastic.

  • Jubilee

jubilee

This one’s a classic. It was the inspiration for the Series One story Dalek, another one of my favourite stories. In this one, the Doctor and Evelyn end up in an alternate timeline where the Daleks were defeated and have been commercialized, while a lone Dalek is kept alive. It’s very dark and the Doctor/Dalek relationship is brought to a boiling point, as in this alternate timeline the Doctor defeated the Daleks in 1903 and has been locked up in the Tower ever since. This alternate Britain has been turned into a fascist dictatorship like the Daleks themselves. On top of all this, an actual Dalek invasion from the Doctor’s universe is approaching and the Doctor is caught in the wrong universe. It’s an incredibly complex story about the evils of humans.

  • The Fearmonger

the fearmonger

The Seventh Doctor and Ace is one of my favourite Tardis pairings and this story brings the dynamic to life very well. It’s a political thriller where a political party is gaining control of the UK through fear (insert satire about modern-day British politics here) and the Doctor is trying to figure out what the true treat is. It’s got a lot of great action and the Doctor is just brilliant here. In the opening he breaks into a radio broadcast and mocks the presenter. The monster in this is great too. It feasts on fear and hides in people to keep itself sustained. The story also uses the radio broadcasts as a framing device to convey further aspects of the plot. It’s really clever and something the show needs to do more.

  • Invaders from Mars

invaders from mars

OK, the rest of this list will be Eighth Doctor, seeing how awesome he is. In this one, the Doctor and his companion Charley arrive in New York in the 1930’s during the time of Orson Welles’s War of the Worlds broadcast. Of course, this being Doctor Who, there are actual aliens involved. There’s also some gangsters, a Russian scientist and a nuclear bomb. I love stories that combine historical events with the sci-fi nonsense of Doctor Who. The aliens are really cool and the whole story is very traditional but also very enjoyable. These are the kind of stories that the TV show really needs, just a nice fun adventure with great action and a clever plot. Character pieces are fine, but the show needs to remember that sometimes, a bit of adventure is good too.

  • The Chimes of Midnight

the chimes of midnight

Another classic one, this one is often considered the Eighth Doctor’s best. It has many awesome Who elements, as the Doctor and Charley play detective to solve murders at a mysterious house. However, it is not that simple. The Eighth Doctor had a story arc running through his stories, as his first audio adventure, Storm Warning, had him rescue Charley from her death on the airship R101, causing ripples in time. In this story, the consequences of his action affect the story and characters, and the Eighth Doctor is pushed to the limits. It’s a really complex and creepy story with great characterisation and an engaging plot. The atmosphere is allowed to build through the four episodes and the emotions are well-earned and warranted. A must buy.

  • Seasons of Fear

seasons of fear

Another one that uses historical settings with the Doctor Who tropes, this one is a really fun romp. It starts in Singapore (yes!) as the Doctor and Charley try to hunt Sebastian Grayle, an immortal man who made a deal with unknown forces to live forever. The story starts as the Doctor finds out that Grayle has seemingly killed him, and he goes back in time to find out the truth and stop Grayle’s plans. Much like the Chase or Keys of Marinus, every episode has a different setting, meaning it is never boring. There’s a brilliant sword fight in this story, and the twist surrounding the true nature of the villains was unexpected. I won’t give it away, but there’s a link to my all time favourite story involved…

  • Neverland

neverland

This is everything Hell Bent should have been. Hearing the Eighth Doctor’s story arc unfold through his stories was immensely satisfying, and the conclusion brought all the arcs full circle. through the series, the Doctor had been aware that rescuing Charley was causing time ripples, that linked with Chimes of Midnight and Seasons of Fear, as she was supposed to die on R101. This culminated with Gallifrey fighting temporal shifts and mysterious forces from another universe attacking the Time Lords. The similarities between this and Series 9 are obvious, but the reason this story works and Hell Bent didn’t was because-

A) The Doctor didn’t break character and shoot someone in cold blood

B) Charley was a great character who hadn’t died two episodes before

C) The Doctor’s actions had consequences. Which leads into…

  • Scherzo

scherzo

Once again, the comparisons between this and Series 9 are obvious, in this case Heaven Sent. However, this time the television story is just as good as the audio version. This is a two-hander between the Doctor and Charley as they are trapped in a world where nothing is what it seems, as the Doctor’s actions during Neverland caused him to banish himself to an alternate dimension as punishment. Now that’s how you write compelling drama! Rather than resort to memory wipes and fan fiction like “perfect” endings for the characters, Big Finish pushed the Doctor/companion dynamic to the limits and created a story that dived into the Doctor’s psyche and why he does what he does. It’s amazing how audio dramas can have more drama and creativity than the actual show. The nature of this story means it could only work as an audio drama.

So those were my twelve favourite Big Finish audio dramas. I can’t wait for my Tenth Doctor stories and I have found these to be the best way to survive the hiatus. I highly recommend you check them out, as many of them are very cheap on their website.

 

British cliches and stereotypes- and the truth

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Every country has a series of sterotypes and cliches associated with them, so today I’ll dissect a few surrounding the UK. Let’s dive into the land of James Bond, Shakespeare and good comedy-

  • Cliche: All British people live in London

architecture Tower bridge London

Truth: The majority of British people live all around the country. Yes, London is the biggest city in the country and is the capital city, but out of the UK’s population of roughly 65 million, only about 8 million reside in London. While that’s larger than any other city in the country by far, the fact is that London is not the only place in the UK where people live.

When the UK is shown in film, it usually has London first and foremost and pictures London as the only interesting or populated place in the country. The rest of the country either doesn’t exist or is a giant field full of quaint villages with Stonehenge in the middle.

In reality, the majority of people live in large cities with plenty of towns and suburbs surrounding them. Other major cities in the country include Birmingham, Manchester, Liverpool, Leeds, Nottingham, Sheffield, Glasgow, Edinburgh, Cardiff, Bristol, Belfast, Portsmouth and Southampton, which is the major city I’m closest too (I live in Chandler’s Ford, a place so unknown and dull barely anyone who lives in the country has heard of it, let alone people from abroad).

  • Cliche: Everyone loves tea and eats in pubs

British flag tea

Truth: Well, I don’t and I’m British. Though tea is a phenomenon here, not absolutely everyone is drinking tea 24/7. Other beverages do exist here, such as water, coffee and Coke.

Pubs, like tea, are very prominent, but restaurants and fast food chains are just as common. Pubs are for sitting down, eating an expensive meal and talking for a long time. A seriously long time. Most food in the UK is multi-cultural- my favourite foods come from Italy and Japan. I also adore Swedish meatballs. The British foods such as fish and chips are very commonplace and that cliche is true (though I personally prefer chicken nuggets).

  • Cliche: It rains all the time

raining_david_tennant

Truth: Yeah, this is true. We actually have many words for rain. There’s drizzling, spitting, pouring, raining cats and dogs and pelting. To be perfectly honest the weather isn’t just rain, however it is very inconsistent. One second it’s pouring with rain, the next second it’s bright and sunny. When the weather is good, it is superb, but the constant rain is true.

On the plus side, recently the weather has behaved, so hopefully we won’t get another downpour anytime soon.

  • Cliche: Everyone speaks like Stephen Fry, Benedict Cumberbatch or the Queen
bramblypatch mumberdack

How awesome does Doctor Strange look?

bahahahaha

Queen Elizabeth II

To most people, the English accent is the one used by the Queen or high calibre actors, which has led to the assumption that everyone in the UK is posh. While the accent used by the Queen is very common down here in the South (it’s called Received Pronunciation) the country is very diverse in the dialects. Scottish, Welsh and Northern Irish accents are very different in their own right, with different dialects of their own. In England there’s the Cockney accent, the West Country accent, the Yorkshire accent and the Scouse accent to name a few. Practically every county has a different dialect.

The reason Received Pronunciation is the most well known dialect is because whenever a British person appears in Hollywood, they usually use Received Pronunciation. Most villains of course have RP as most villains are British, including Loki, Magneto and Count Dooku. It makes them sound sophisticated and charming, so their evil deeds are intensified.

So those were four British cliches explained. There are a lot more I’m sure but these are four that seem to be the most common. Hopefully I have debunked several cliches surrounding the UK.

 

Captain America: Civil War review- The squeeing is strong in this one

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Wow. That is all. Just wow. Captain America: Civil War is in my opinion a brilliant, brilliant movie which is easily the best Marvel Studios movie and up there with the best comic book movies along with Spider-Man 2, The Dark Knight, X-Men: Days of Future Past and Civil War’s predecessor The Winter Soldier. I was blown away by this movie, as it got everything I wanted from it and more. I will keep this spoiler free, so it’s safe to read if you haven’t seen it yet (it’s weird how here in the UK we got Captain AMERICA a week before the US. If there’s ever a Captain Britain movie, the US should get it first). I won’t reveal anything that hasn’t been revealed in trailers.

united we stand

The main plotline revolves around a dispute between the remaining Avengers about whether they should be controlled by the United Nations, who have created the Sokovia Accords, or whether it’s better to remain free from control. Iron Man, feeling guilt over Ultron, decides to sign the Sokovia Accords along with Black Widow, War Machine and the Vision, while Captain America, not being able to trust authority after SHIELD’s takeover by HYDRA, decides not to. Things get more complicated when the Winter Soldier reappears with both the Black Panther and a mysterious figure tracking him down. I won’t get into details, but it’s amazing how everything fits into place.

While I liked Age of Ultron a lot, one problem with it was how some characters felt pushed to the side, Thor in particular. In Civil War, every character feels important, whether it’s for the plot, advancing their individual arcs or just there for comic relief, which is needed in this film. The tone is overall more lighthearted than Winter Soldier, thanks to the presence of Spider-Man and Ant-Man, but at the same time it’s the most mature and compelling film in the MCU. A character driven plot has only really happened in Iron Man 3, and Civil War takes a similar look at the psychological effects of being a superhero.

My favourite character this time around was Black Panther, without a doubt. While Spider-Man was brilliant (more on him later) Black Panther felt much more crucial to the story. The way his character ties in with the rest of the story was really well done, and he is just such a cool character. He moves and talks in a unique manner, has his own fighting style and the soundtrack momentarily switches to an African vibe whenever he enters. I cannot wait to see his solo movie. Black Panther is such a unique character in the comics and it’s great that the MCU has done justice to him. The trailers show him being on Team Iron Man, but in the movie he’s more complex than that.

black panther

The action is incredible. There’s fistfights like in The Winter Soldier and there’s also an epic chase scene involving Bucky, Black Panther, Captain America, Falcon and the German police. The main fight however is the fanboy pleasing airport fight which felt like a comic book come to life. The stakes are real, the characters all have motivations for fighting and it’s just brilliantly handled in every way. Spider-Man and Ant-Man steal the show, with the two characters providing the funny moments and some of the standout scenes in the fight. The dynamics in the fights are great, with nearly everybody fighting everybody else. The build up is fantastic, as the characters try to talk before hitting each other. And of course there’s an epic group shot for each side.

So what about Spider-Man? I’m a huge fan of the original Spider-Man from the older movies but I have to admit this one was just as awesome. His mannerisms are right, his quips are on point and he blends into the action brilliantly. Unlike Black Panther, Spider-Man isn’t vital to the story, but he doesn’t feel forced. His world was set up well and just seeing Spider-Man fighting Captain America along with Iron Man just made the Marvel fan in me squee in delight. While I can’t say he’s my favourite version so far, hopefully Spider-Man: Homecoming will change my mind.

spider man yay

But where this movie really works is the character interactions and the realistic motivations and conflicts. The villain of the film is hard to talk about without spoilers, but he isn’t a throwaway Marvel villain like Malekith, Ronan or Yellowjacket. His plot works and he is actually quite complex and ties into the film’s themes. The conflicts within the protagonists are even more compelling. Captain America and Iron Man have had a complex relationship since meeting, and here both characters are pushed to the extreme. Age of Ultron has affected them both, while themes from Iron Man 3 and The Winter Soldier are revisited. It’s such a layered movie which is so much more rewarding if you’ve been following the MCU like I have. The plot is complex but not confusing and there are plenty of twists and turns that make the film ridiculously engaging and more importantly, fun.

In conclusion, Civil War is to me the new Marvel highpoint. Everything worked, and it has set a high bar for the rest of Phase 3. My new most anticipated movie from Marvel is Black Panther, with Thor: Ragnarok and Doctor Strange close behind. I hope the rest of the MCU sticks to the tone established by Civil War- dark and mature, yet still fun and entertaining.

My 5 favourite MCU movies

Age of Ultron review

Why the Doctor Who companion is important

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Finally! After months of waiting for news, the announcement all Whovians have been waiting for is here. The new companion has not been revealed yet- but will today. This is of course a good time to discuss the role of the companion in the show. While I’ve discussed the companion before, here I will explain why the role of the companion is so important and why the new companion needs to work. Here are three pointers for the new companion-

Relatability

Let’s talk about the previous companion- Clara. One of the reasons I never really connected with her during her tenure was that she didn’t feel real. She became too overpowered, completely ruining relatability towards her. Now of course I won’t fully relate with Clara- she’s a female teacher, I’m a teenage boy, but the point still stands. Rose, Martha, Donna, Amy and Rory all felt real. They had real lives and real flaws and behaved like real people. I’m a huge fan of Donna because she felt so relatable. If someone was travelling in time and space, chances are that they’ll act like Donna. I would.

I rewatched the Bells of Saint John today and while I like the episode, I noticed a fatal flaw in it- Clara wasn’t the focus. She isn’t introduced until five minutes in the episode and she barely has any impact on the story. She gets captured twice and the focus is on the mystery surrounding Clara and the whole wi-fi plot. The other companion introduction stories- Rose, Smith and Jones, Partners in Crime and the Eleventh Hour all introduced the companion almost immediately, with the plot being driven around them. In short, we the audience need to feel like the companion is a real person before they meet the Doctor.

Now the new series does a much better job of introducing companions in their first episode than the classic series did. Sometimes a companion would just stumble in at the tail end of the story and then do nothing for the next story. Yet there’s a lot more variety in the classic series companions- there’s modern day (for the time) people like Sarah Jane, Ian and Barbara, yet there’s also savages (Leela) robot dogs (K9), Scottish Highlanders (Jamie), Time Lords (Romana, Susan) and aliens (Nyssa, Adric). In the new series, only Jack and River are truly unique.

Relatability does not mean 21st century Earth. A good character is relatable to everyone, no matter where they’re from. Star Wars has relatable characters- Luke and Rey both strive to travel and do good, Han Solo is cocky and always has a smart remark and Kylo Ren is torn between good and evil. Relatable character traits can apply to any character no matter what genre they’re in or what species they are. I know there needs to be an audience surrogate, someone who the audience can relate to, but they do not need to be from Earth. And if they are from Earth, make them different and make them a strong, fleshed out character who anyone can relate to. Also, if they’re a teenager, don’t make them a walking sterotype. I know what a teenage acts like.

No mystery, make them normal

Amy and Clara had both had mysteries surrounding them, and while it worked for Amy (man I love Series 5) with Clara it devalued her character. I want a companion who has a normal life, with no hint of a mystery. I really don’t like this trend in the new series of the companions being so powerful. Rose fairy dusts a Dalek armada to death (urgh), Donna became a hybrid (A HYBRID!) and destroys a Dalek empire and Clara is there at every victory the Doctor ever had. Martha’s victory was normal and human, and Amy, while still a mystery, was still pretty normal. Let’s have the companion travel for the joy of it, and save the day through wit, skill and cunning and not a prophecy or deus ex machina. Sarah Jane did not need the Bad Wolf to talk the Doctor out of genocide. Ace did not need the DoctorDonna to beat a Dalek with a baseball bat. They were normal people who proved to be strong characters through their actions, not by chance. I know Ace had a mystery surrounding her, but she was still a character first.

My favourite Clara moments are the little moments, like when she confronts the Half Faced Man, beats the Boneless by using their own powers, distracts the Cybermen using her wit and tricking Bonnie using logic. These are all actions done by Clara that feels natural and doesn’t overpower the character, instead making her character stronger. That’s why I loved her departure in Face the Raven- it was sad, but also showed her selflessness and willingness to accept her fate. Then Hell Bent came along and completely devalued the point of her character arc to make her an overpowered being again.

The new companion needs to prove herself. She needs a defining moment where she saves the day or tricks the monster, but it needs to be natural. No mystery, no prophecy and no overpowering. Just a character who travels because it’s fun and who learns and grows through the course of the series.

Who else is ridiculously excited? I’m obviously not going to watch Match of the Day just to find out, but it’s the Internet so I’ll know soon enough. Where will the show go after this? I’m hoping the new companion can bring some magic and mystery into the show again, as we can experience the Whoniverse through new eyes.

My Cornish holiday

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This week, I had a holiday in Cornwall. It was a great and unique experience which I really enjoyed. Cornwall is a very interesting place with some complex history linking back to the Celts, and I loved learning about it and experiencing Cornish life.

We stayed in a B&B near Par, a small village near the largest town, St Austell. On the first evening, the village seemed pretty lifeless and quite deserted, with no nightlife to speak of. This was probably because it was early evening when we arrived. We never spent much time in Par, as we went to other towns around Cornwall. Read the rest of this entry

Thoughts on Batman vs Superman

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When it comes to comic book companies, it may seem like I prefer Marvel (which is true on the movie front) but in reality I prefer DC. I own more DC comics, I find the characters more interesting and the world more diverse. My anticipation for this movie was quite high. I know the trailers made it look dark and gloomy (which is not the tone of most DC comics, excluding Batman) but I loved what the film was going for and where the cinematic universe was heading. I watched the film wearing my Batman shirt and expecting a good time. Due to the negative reviews I was quite anxious, but I ended up quite liking it. There is a lot to work on in terms of making this cinematic universe better, but as an introduction to most of the Justice League it’s a decent set up.

I’ll do things slightly different from my usual reviews. I’m going to look at the good points and bad points separately, before looking at where the cinematic universe could go and how to improve. Let’s call the good portion Yay, and the bad will be Nay. Let’s look at the good first, and there will be spoilers ahead-

Read the rest of this entry

My 5 favourite MCU movies

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Yes, I know Batman Vs Superman has come out this week, but seeing how there’s not much to talk about in regard to the DC Cinematic Universe, I’ve decided to talk Marvel again. Now, I love DC and I prefer it overall, and The Dark Knight is a really really awesome movie. But honestly, while I love the look of Batman and Wonder Woman in Batman vs Superman, I can’t really look forward to the movie as much as Civil War, as I know nothing about the conflict happening in BvS from a character level, while Iron Man and Captain America are established characters, so the conflict is organic. Also, Black Panther.

So now I’ve decided to talk my favourite films from Marvel Studios, having seen all twelve movies-

  • Thor

thor

I called this one of my favourite movies a while back (a list which I need to severely update) and while I don’t think it’s the best movie ever (that would be Return of the King) or my favourite MCU movie (that’s coming up) I still really really like this movie a lot. I love Asgard and I love all the creatures, from the frost beasts to the Destroyer. My favourite aspect of the movie is the simultaneous character growth of Thor and Loki. While Thor is learning humility, Loki is falling apart as his plan to gain Odin’s trust is failing. Loki is easily the best villain in the MCU and he steals every scene he’s in. While there isn’t much action, the character growth of this movie stops it from being boring.

As for The Dark World, while it’s hilarious and very entertaining, it really isn’t as complex as the first film. The action is better and the use of London is awesome, but the villain is weak (one does not simply waste the Doctor as a villain) and the script hasn’t got much substance. I’m hoping Thor: Ragnarok can combine the action of The Dark World with the character building and themes of the first film.

  • Iron Man 3

iron man 3

I loved the first Iron Man, but in my mind, Iron Man 3 is slightly better. It’s funnier, more action-packed and does an excellent job of wrapping up the themes of the trilogy. Using the fragile nature of the suits is a great visual metaphor for Tony Stark’s instability after the Avengers and how he is determined to protect the Earth at all costs, yet his state of mind makes him unable to focus clearly on building the Iron Man suits. The action is also great, with the skydiving sequence in the middle of the film being one of my favourite action scenes in the MCU.

I also enjoy the fact that Tony’s detective skills come into play here. While I know Iron Man is barely in the movie, the point of the movie was that it’s not the suits who define Iron Man- Tony Stark is Iron Man, suit or no suit. The suit is just a way to protect himself from harm and a way to hide his fears and emotional turmoil.

As for the controversial twist concerning the Mandarin, it didn’t bother me. Maybe it’s because I don’t read Iron Man comics but also because my knowledge of the Mandarin character from the comics is that he is kind of bland, a one dimensional bad guy for Iron Man to fight. I loved the modern retelling of the character- a figurehead used by Killian to install fear and panic, similar to the way Tony uses the suits to install hope. This was far better than just another physical tough guy.

  • Guardians of the Galaxy

guardians of the galaxy

If my knowledge of Iron Man from the comics isn’t great, my knowledge of Guardians of the Galaxy is even worse. No one had heard of these characters before this movie, and it shows that Marvel Studios can do anything. While DC have only just started making a Wonder Woman solo movie and insist on making their movies all dark, moody and with no jokes (which works for Batman but not Superman), Marvel make a movie about a talking raccoon and a tree who is able to have emotion despite only saying one sentence through most of the movie.

This movie is just so fun and imaginative. The characters aren’t heroes- they’re conmen, bandits and criminals. However, one thing binds them together- they need to stop Ronan from using one of the Infinity Gems to destroy Xandar. The characters are all well developed and very likeable, despite not being heroes. My favourite character is of course Groot, who manages to be one of the most profound characters. His interactions with the rest of the characters are very funny, with Rocket being the sarcastic, witty counterpart to Groot’s loveable persona. I actually find Ronan to be quite a good villain. He’s not Loki, but he is still a threat, unlike Malekith.

Not to mention, the film is so funny, yet very thematically rich. The whole movie is about letting go of the past and looking to the future, with the characters all filling in that common theme. I simply cannot wait for the second movie and how this team will link in with the Avengers.

  • Avengers: Age of Ultron

all of me versus all of you

Yes, this movie has flaws. Thor is pushed to the side, Ultron could have been more like his harsh robotic comic book counterpart and there is a lot of set up for future movies. But ultimately, I find this movie more entertaining and thematically fufilling than the first film. I like the Avengers a lot, but it is ultimately set up for the other movies, albeit really entertaining set up. Age of Ultron needs no set up- most characters have been introduced and the dynamics are established, meaning the story can be told without needing as much exposition.

I really liked Black Widow, Hulk and Hawkeye in this film. I’m not a big Hulk fan, but watching the Hulkbuster fight him was a huge nerd moment, and the Hulk did get some much needed development in this film, as did Black Widow and Hawkeye. Hawkeye in particular became one of my favourite Marvel characters, with his quips, awesome costume and sense of humour really helping to even the tone. All the characters, except for Thor, were used well, which is surprising seeing how many characters there are.

This movie is all about legacy and how people will remember the Avengers. At the end of the first film, they were seen as heroes. At the end of Age of Ultron, they are seen as a more powerful and dangerous threat to the world, which is something I’m sure Civil War will expand upon. Incidentally, I’m Team Cap. I know Iron Man has Black Panther, Vision and Spider-Man, but I just prefer Captain America. It’s great that both sides are portrayed equally.

  • Captain America: The Winter Soldier

Captain_America_The_Winter_Soldier

My favourite Marvel Studios movie is the most serious, action packed and complex one yet, with a tone I hope Civil War will have. I love the banter of the Avengers, but the gritty espionage thriller is suitable for Captain America. Before this movie, I didn’t care for the character much, and I watched the movie out of interest to see if I would like him. Turns out I did like him- a lot. He is now one of my favourite Marvel heroes.

Aside from the amazing action, the best part of this movie is the subtext. Captain America is a propaganda symbol stuck in a world with conspiracy, violence and a lack of a strong icon. Now he is forced to confront a system he used to trust which is now turning on him, as well as literally fighting the past in the form of his former friend, now the Winter Soldier. Like Iron Man 3, Captain America doesn’t suit up much, but when he does, it’s fantastic.

Everything about this movie works. The villains are great and the fact that SHIELD was infiltrated by HYDRA means it makes perfect sense for Captain America to be against being controlled in Civil War. I love how Cap and Black Widow team up and how there’s no romance between them. It also has the best Stan Lee cameo ever.

So those are my five favourite Marvel Studios movies. I cannot wait for Civil War or Doctor Strange, and with Spider-Man, Black Panther and Captain Marvel joining the ranks of the Avengers as well, I yearn for more of this universe and the brilliant characters it has created.

My Belgium history trip – Ypres and chocolate

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This weekend I got back from a school trip to Ypres in Belgium. It was a very tiring two days but it was well worth it to explore a different country and culture. I was there for a history trip to look at the history of Ypres and its importance in WWI. It was a very insightful trip into how the war’s legacy has affected the country.

The first trip was to Tyne Cot Cemetery, the largest Commonwealth cemetery in the world. Literally hundreds of graves from British, Canadian, Australian and New Zealand soldiers were there, with different countries marking the graves differently. Hundreds more names were on the walls. The whole area is massive and it truly shows the scale of the fighting and how many people died.

Tyne Cot

Tyne Cot Cemetery Memorial

Tyne Cot cemetery

Tyne Cot cemetery

Another highlight of the trip was the gigantic Menin Gate in the centre of Ypres. This was unveiled in 1927 and a daily service of remembrance takes place there every single night. The Gate also has a giant garden of sorts to the side where there are even more names on the side. The inside of the gate is full of names of people who were missing in battle or unidentified after the war. We attended the service of remembrance and there were hundreds of people there. It’s astonishing how the ceremony has survived since the 20s and it truly shows how much the war affected Belgium.

Menin Gate

Menin Gate

Menin Gate

Menin Gate

Menin Gate garden

The Menin Gate Garden

Menin gates names

Hundreds of names on the wall

The following day we went to a chocolate shop, so naturally I was eager to get a hold of a lot of it. I got two bags of marzipan, two white chocolate bars (white chocolate is the best, no question) and a bag of marshmallows. Belgium chocolate is out of this world, in fact Belgian food is great all round. I had a pancake and a hot dog for lunch, both of which were excellent. For dinner on the first night I had chicken, which was delicious and very filling.

The In Flanders Fields museum was very informative and engaging. It told the whole story of Belgium’s involvement in the war, from before 1914 to the aftermath. There were hundreds of items from British, French, German and American soldiers and items from the battlefield. There was also an interactive wristband which contained a story about someone linked with the war. The museum is huge and has lots of information and models.

In Flanders Field museum, Belgium.

In Flanders Fields Museum, Belgium.

Flanders Fields museum

Outside the museum

The final part of the trip was exploring a real life trench. It was very muddy but I had good boots so fortunately I didn’t get muddy. It must have been chaotic in the trenches during the fighting, and I’m glad the weather was decent when I walked in the trench!

Walking in the trenches

Walking in the trenches

Trenches

Trenches

Overall, this was a fantastic trip. I loved visiting Belgium (and a bit of France) and seeing the history behind the war was eye-opening. It improved my awareness of the war, and I’m now more aware of the global impact of the war. While seeing lots of Australian graves, I was reminded of the exhibits which I saw last summer in the Western Australian Museum in Perth. Many Australians died in the war and the graves in Tyne Cot showed respect to them and the whole Commonwealth.

I can’t wait for my history trip to Berlin next year.

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