Jodie Whittaker to be the 13th Doctor

Jodie Whittaker

So it’s finally happened, after months of speculation Doctor Who has announced its 13th Doctor will be Jodie Whittaker. That’s right Doctor Who is getting its first female Doctor.

It’s certainly a risk with some corners of the internet crying out that its political correctness gone mad and threatening to stop watching the show altogether. Personally, while I’m not sure if Whittaker is quirky enough to be the Doctor, she is a good actress as her work on Broadchurch showed (which was created by Doctor Who’s new show runner Chris Chibnall). It’s also a good sign that Chibnall is not going to play it safe with the new series. Doctor Who has always been about regeneration so why not completely revamp the show and try something different? At least the good thing about this show is if something doesn’t work then the Doctor can just regenerate again in a few years time anyway.

For me I will try to hold off judgement on Whittaker until I’ve seen her first full episode. Hat’s off to Whittaker she’s got a tough year ahead of her with her critics wanting to see her fail before she’s even begun. I’m going to keep a positive attitude and hope this heralds an exciting and innovative new time for Doctor Who.

What do you think? Is a female Doctor Who a good thing? Are you a fan of Jodie Whittaker? Or is Doctor Who just for massive geeks and you couldn’t care less about who the next Doctor is? Let me know in the comments below.

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Rapid Review: Baby Driver

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Baby Driver tells the story of a getaway driver called er, Baby (Ansel Elgort) who constantly listens to music to drown out the severe tinnitus he got after a car crash in his childhood. After he meets a pretty waitress named Debora (Lily James) Baby  is determined to leave the life of crime behind him once his debt is paid. However it’s not going to be that easy.

I wasn’t sure from the trailer if this was going to be my type of film but I was actually pleasantly surprised how much I liked it. Yes it is mostly style over substance but for the most part it’s a good style. Director Edgar Wright breaks away from his usual comedies and it’s good to see Wright is taking risks as a director. Baby’s music provides the soundtrack for the film and provides some great moments including the great car chase/getaway scenes.

As the lead character Baby, Elgort has bundles of geeky charm that elevates a character that could come across as annoying in the wrong hands. The rest of the supporting cast are good although the two main females are underwritten (however James’ effortlessly chemistry with Elgort does a lot to cover up how undeveloped the role is). It’s just a shame that some of goodwill the movie built up is then lost with an ending that goes on for about 20 minutes too long.

Rating 3.5/5 – a cool, humourous movie that’s destined to have a cult following

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Baywatch

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In this reboot of the popular 90’s TV series Baywatch a team of lifeguards led by Mitch Buchannon (Dwayne Johnson) attempt to foil a drugs plot while also dealing with cocky new recruit Matt Brody (Zac Efron). Can they catch they catch the bad guy and keep their beach safe?

As a kid I loved Baywatch from the opening theme song (“Some people stand in the darkness…”) and the ridiculousness of the slow running lifeguards. I was hoping that the reboot would be fresh and funny like the 21 Jump Street movie managed to be. Unfortunately while I think they were trying to reach that level Baywatch falls far short. The majority of jokes are just not funny, revolving around crude body humour and relying on swearing as punch lines. It doesn’t help that the female characters are criminally underserved given the thinnest of characterisation and sidelined for the most of the heroics, yet Mitch, Brody and the dorky Ronnie (Jon Bass, whose given a number of unfunny moments in the film) all perform heroics in the big climax while the women are left on the sidelines. After the amazing heroics of Wonder Woman this is a cold reminder that Hollywood still sees females as beautiful bystanders.

It’s not all bad news though there are flashes of good jokes that find their way through. As usual Johnson retains his charm and star charisma while Zac Efron does his best with the material and at least has a character arc throughout the film. As head villain duties Priyanka Chopra (star of the great TV series Quantico) oozes charisma and glamour though she’s underused like the rest of the female cast.

Rating 2/5 – unfunny and unoriginal, this reboot sinks on arrival

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Wonder Woman

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One of DC’s most iconic superhero finally gets her big screen début after 75 years. Here to rescue DC films from mediocrity (although I quite liked Man of Steel) Diana Prince and director Patty Jenkins have a lot of expectations on their shoulders. Can they rise to the challenge?

Raised amongst the Amazons on the island of Themyscira Diana (Gal Gadot) trains and fights whilst never leaving the island. When Captain Steve Tanner (Chris Pine) crashes onto the island Diana finds herself leaving the safety of her home for the horrors of the First World War.

Breathe a sigh of relief because the good news is that Wonder Woman first film is actually good! As one of the best things about Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice  Wonder Woman now gets a solo film that does her justice. Early scenes show Diana being trained by the Amazon’s on their island, a bright and peaceful paradise which nicely contrasts with the cold and less colourful scenes off island. We also gets to see a glorious sight of Amazon’s vs soldiers which is cool and its great to see actresses like Robin Wright and Connie Neilson kicking ass. As we follow Diana to London and beyond the film turns into part origin story/part fish out of water/part coming of age for Diana as she navigates the world of men. The setting feels fresh and for an origin story it doesn’t get too bogged down by having to explain everything.

Director Patty Jenkins manages to balance the different story elements well and the action scenes look great with Wonder Woman looking powerful and full of strength as she faces her foes. Gadot does a lovely mix of strength, vulnerability and charm. She also displays Diana’s journey from naïve optimist to more world-weary but still hopeful warrior that we saw in Dawn of Justice.

As her love interest Chris Pine is a likeable presence and interestingly in a reversal of the male gaze we get a whole lot of female gaze with a practically naked Pine featured in one scene.the scene is played for laughs and Pine gamely plays along. The fact that Tanner is portrayed as almost as heroic as Diana did make me worry that Wonder Woman was going to be overshadowed in her own movie. Was it just that they wanted to give Diana a worthy love interest or were studio bosses nervous about having a woman doing all the heroics? Ultimately though Wonder Woman is the main hero here and it’s her journey that we are invested in.

Perhaps all too aware of the criticisms of the previous DC movies Wonder Woman looks brighter and has more humour. Like the other movies the film is still too long in the last act and has underwhelming villains. However Wonder Woman is a serious step forward for the DC extended universe. Let’s just hope the upward trend continues and Wonder Woman is at the forefront of the Justice League movie.

Rating 4/5 – a wonderful (sorry!) solo effort for an iconic DC character

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Guardians of the Galaxy Volume 2

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Its predecessor was an action packed, laugh a minute, wonderful surprise that threw Marvel universe into space. Of course a sequel was inevitable and hopes are high with director James Gunn returning to oversee the madness. But can lightening strike twice?

Set two months after the events of the last movie, we catch up with the Guardians who have managed to upset the Sovereign race due to Rocket’s thieving impulses. Their escape eventually leads them to an unexpected reunion between Peter Quill (Chris Pratt) and his father, a living planet called Ego (Kurt Russell). However it’s not long before the Guardians find themselves in trouble again and have to fight to keep the gang together.

It was always going to be an uphill battle to match the same rebellious, unexpected spirit that Guardians of the Galaxy gave us. While Volume 2 doesn’t quite hit those highs dues to the lack of element of surprised it’s still a rollercoaster of fun and laughter. Humour was a strong part of the first movie’s success and Volume 2 delivers on many funny one liners and great sight gags.

The Guardians themselves are still a loveable ragtag group of misfits with Baby Groot (Vin Diesel) often being a scene stealer. We also gets more development on the sisterly rivalry between Gimora (Zoe Saldana) and Nebula (Karen Gillan) which more often than not spills into violence. New characters Mantis (Pom Klementieff) is also introduced and fits in seamlessly with the other Guardians and has a funny odd couple friendship with the blunt and tactless Drax (Dave Bautisa).

The film’s excitable energy does starts to waver towards its last act and while Michael Rooker is great as returning character Yondu (“I’m Mary Poppins”– it makes sense in context), I didn’t quite buy his redemptive arch or the film trying to make out he was a good guy all along. Didn’t he still beat Peter as a kid? However these quibbles aside Volume 2 shows that there’s still life in these loveable rogues yet and there encounter with the more professional Avengers in next years Infinity Wars movie should make for an entertaining encounter.

(As an aside note this film rivals the last Fast and Furious Movie with the amount of time the word ‘family’ is mentioned. Does Vin Diesel have some kind of contract where the word must always be referenced?)

Rating 4/5 – a less surprising but still a riveting ride with Marvel’s funniest heroes

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Rapid Review: Alien Covenant

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I was actually quite hopeful about the latest Alien prequel as I heard reports that it was better than 2012’s Prometheus. However I forgot how low a bar that was. So while Covenant is indeed better than it’s predecessor it’s nowhere near as satisfying as it should be.

It starts promising with the Colony ship Covenant damaged during it’s voyage and it’s crew making the unwise decision to investigate a radio transmission from a nearby planet. The characters are thinly drawn but it goes along OK and there are some gory scenes when the aliens do make some appearances. However once David (Michael Fassbender) appears sprouting the creation/creator philosophy nonsense that was so prevalent in Prometheus the film goes downhill. Instead of intense action/horror scenes we have Michael Fassbender playing opposite himself as the two identical androids (the Covenant ship’s android Walter and the android from Prometheus David) which devolves into some weird Michael Fassbender fan fiction. Add in some really stupid decisions by certain characters and a final twist that the audience would have spotted a mile off and you get a lacklustre result. The GCI effects of the Xenomorph and some of the other creatures are also disappointing.

Rating 2.5/5 – a solid start descends into a less than stellar result

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Rapid Review: Their Finest

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Set in Britain during the Second World War, Their Finest centres on a young woman named Catrin (Gemma Arterton) who is hired to write morale boosting films for the Ministry of Information.

It’s hard to define this film into one category, it’s a behind the scenes drama with some comedic elements and insights into the way women’s roles were changing during this period. Small moments of sexism are all in a normal working day for Catrin as she hired to write ‘slop’ (women’s dialogue). Rather than this being an ‘issue’ film these elements are woven naturally into the story and it’s a fascinating insight into the work behind these propaganda and moral boosting films. I can imagine there are scenes that scriptwriters are all too familiar with such as producers making changes to the script or finding out their American lead (Jake Lacey) can’t act. These scenes are much more engaging than the sub plot with Catrin’s artist husband (Jack Houston) which feels a bit by the numbers.

Director Lone Scherfig brings the 40’s to life without hitting us over the heads with it, and captures the confusion and panic of living through the Blitz whilst its characters have to get on with everyday matters like finding work. She also brings out the best from her cast. Arterton is a sympathetic and likeable lead who can easily go between comedy and drama and has good chemistry with Sam Clafin as her co-writer Tom Buckley, who is sometimes infuriated and also infatuated with Catrin. As always Bill Nighy is great as an actor who still wants to be cast as the handsome lead despite his age. He steals scenes with his comedic one liners but is also poignant in some of the more sombre scenes.

Rating 4/5 – a great British drama that’s a welcome relief for anyone who wants a break from the blockbusters

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