When I first heard that Disney had bought Lucasfilm, I cringed. I had a vision of Mickey Mouse running aaround with a lightsaber and Minnie Mouse with those Princess Leia ear buns. Then they announced that from 2015 onwards they planned to launch a new Star Wars movie every year. This peaked my interest. I was still worried that they would “kiddyfy” or dumb down the new films for a younger generation, but I was more hopeful. Then it was announced that J.J.Abrams would be the director of the first movie and I knew they meant business. Abrams did a really great job of bringing the Star Trek franchise into the 21st Century and as such the new movies that he directed had something for both the old and the new. However, I still think that he did a poor job of translating the warp core and engine room designs into the modern era – you could tell it was a brewery.

So, it was with a mixed set of feelings that I approached my first viewing of the movie. I say first, because I have seen it three times now and each time I find something different. When I sat down, the cinema was packed out. This was the 2D showing and as far as I could see there was not a Jedi robe in site. In fact I noticed that most of the people sitting in the Cinema seemed to be only a few years younger than me. There were a few teenagers dotted here and there, but most of the crowd was thirty plus years of age. This surprised me. However, I patiently waited throughout the trailers and obligatory adverts.

The cinema suddenly darkened and after a quick viewing of the BBFC certification, the film started. Instantly, I was thrown back to my first viewing of the Phantom Menace, and I became nervous. The title crawl, explaining the current state of the Star Wars universe scrolled down the screen and set the scene in a concise and matter of fact manner. Then the scene shifted to the planet of Jakku and my worries fell away.

It soon became clear that this was Star Wars. Proper Star Wars with models and explosions and real locations and animatronic puppets. Yes, the characters were different. Po Dameron is a fighter pilot, the best that the resistance has to offer. He is confident, always smiling and willing to look past the fact that Finn is a stormtrooper. He even gives Finn his name, using word play based upon his “FN” serial number. He has obvious skills, an almost complete lack of fear and is one of the most influential but underused characters in the film.

Next we move to Rey. Rey is like a harder and more fearless female version of Luke Skywalker. Her fighting skills are already honed by years of having to struggle for everything in an unforgiving environment and society. She had grown up with the hope that the parents that had abandoned her would one day return, and lived with that hope until she was forced to change her viewpoint later in the movie. She is strong in the Force. Very strong. However, it is not until she discovers this ability that she truly starts to test her limits.

Then there is Finn, the ex-stormtrooper. He is skittish and nervous but walks with a confidence that belies the fear he holds deep inside. The fear that the First Order will one day reclaim him. That fear only acts as a counterpoint to his courage in the face of danger and his willingness to risk his life for his friends. He is not the most complex of characters, but without him the movie wouldn’t be the same.

These new characters are fighting for the survival of their way of life and the freedom to live without tyranny. Sounds like a rehash of the original trilogy and in many ways it is. However, that does not matter. It sells the movie for me, because new fans will not recognise these references and old fans will merely smile at the familiar feel of a galaxy that we thought we had lost along with the prequels. There is genuine wonder in this new movie and so much fun and fast paced action that it is easy to look past its bad points – but it wouldn’t be a fair review if we didn’t.

SPOILERS FOLLOW

The bad points? Only three points irked me:

1)Han dies without us ever really getting a chance to get to know him again. In addition, it is so predictable that even if I hadn’t known about this plot point in advance, I would still not have been surprised. What shocked me more was the way he died. It was completely pointless. He achieved nothing by sacrificing himself. He just made a Wookie mad and Rey sad. I say mad, but not enraged. Chewbacca should have been completely inconsolable and uncontrollable. Instead his rage was focused and completely un-wookie. Maybe he has spent too many years around humans.

2)We see the beams from Star Killer Base destroy the planets and not the sun as written in the novelization. What’s the point of calling a machine Star Killer if it doesn’t destroy stars? Okay, maybe it has to destroy a star to power the beams, but that’s not obvious enough. Or is it? Anyway, my point stands.

3)R2D2 miraculously wakes up just in time to provide the rest of the map leading to the location of the planet where Luke Skywalker is hiding. Yes I know that JJ has provided an explanation for this, but it is too convenient.

There are of course many other points both good and bad that have been picked up and flogged to death by other reviewers, but having seen the film so many times now I could forgive most of them. It really is a film that stands watching several times.

If you have not already seen it then go. If you saw it but you were a little puzzled by its pace and plot, see it again. If you haven’t seen it, then you probably spoiled the whole movie by reading this review – but see it anyway – and don’t complain about the spoilers. You were warned.

Okay so the title was a bad pun, but there is a growing number of people in the UK that would like to see Donald Trump banned from the U.K. for his racist and some would call extremist remarks. A petition was raised on the government website, and time has now been set aside to discuss this in the houses of parliament. The petition is still growing:

https://petition.parliament.uk/petitions/114003

What happens if the government actually listens to the population? What if they ban Trump? What if he becomes US President?

So much drama. I think I need a drink.

It has been tentatively proved that the Higgs Particle, or Higgs Boson, exists and as such we can therefore theorise that the Higgs Field must also exist. If this is the case, then might we not also theorise that should you be able to prove the existence of a field of extraordinary energy, that interacts and binds the universe together, might we not also theorise that it might be possible to neutralise this field in some way?

If interacting with the Higgs Field is what gives an object mass, then it might be theorised that stopping an object from interacting with the Higgs Field also nullifies its mass. If that object was a craft that was designed to travel through space, and if that object has zero mass, then it might also be theorised that by introducing a manipulation of that field around the object we might be able to cause that object to move through normal space at extraordinary speeds.

Einstein’s theory of relativity, allowed him in simple terms to express that the energy required moving an object is equivalent to the mass of the object multiplied by the speed of light squared. In very simple terms it means that as an object approaches the speed of light its mass increases as its inertia increases. If an objects mass increases as a product of its inertia, then as you get closer and closer to the speed of light that object would gain more mass. This would potentially require an almost infinite amount of energy, far more than can be found in our universe. However, if you could somehow nullify that objects mass, say by removing its interaction with the Higgs Field, you could potentially reduce the need for infinite energy. Therefore there is more potential for higher velocity.

If the object described is a space craft, then by nullifying the Higgs Field you give that craft the potential to traverse space at speeds close to or indeed beyond the speed of light. In fact, light speed travel becomes an immediate possibility. The big problem is that everything within the field has relatively zero mass and as such no potential for inertia. That means that although the field could be produced, using something like an ion propulsion unit or similar device would be useless. For the field to work, it must be complete. If it is complete, then it must cut off the interaction of any propulsion device that uses thrust as a means of producing inertia. That thrust will not react with the Higgs Field.

So how do we get around this?

We use the neutralising field by cycling it around the object and in effect causing it to swim the object through the Higgs Field itself. This has great potential because like an object travelling through water, the better the dynamics of the anti-field shape that travels through the Higgs Field – the less drag we encounter and the faster we can travel.

What we have in effect theorised in describing this method, is the need for a Higgs Field Warping Device or a Warp Field Generator. To create such a Warp Field might require extremely high levels of energy that simply do not exist in this current age, but that doesn’t mean that they may not exist in the future. In fact, if we are ever able to create a field of energy that does not interact with the Higgs Field and we are able to place humans or devices safely inside it, we would have to be far more in tune with the universe than we are now. It would take a coalition of the worlds minds, resources and governments to reach this goal.

Could it be that with this discovery of the Higgs Particle we are finally evolving towards an era when we are enlightened and intelligent enough to progress out amongst the stars safely? Or will we be hampered by our own fears, trust issues, greed and avarice? Only time and the stars will tell, but I would like to live to see that day.

John Doe is one of those movies that somehow got past my normal radar. Jamie Bamber, he of Battlestar Galactica and Law & Order (UK) fame, is the protagonist called John Doe. A man that commits 33 murders to make the point that the law isn’t protecting the innocent.

“Some call him a hero. Some call him a villain. He’s “John Doe: Vigilante” – an ordinary man who decides to take the law into his own hands. Frustrated with a failing legal system that continues to allow violent criminals to go free, John Doe begins exacting justice the only way he knows how – by killing one criminal at a time. Soon he becomes a media sensation and inspires a group of copycat vigilantes, but who is the real John Doe – a pillar of justice or a cold-blooded murderer? You decide.” ((c) Main Street), is a very succinct way of describing this movie. I personally think that society doesn’t need to go as far as Doe, but I do think that punishment for crimes like those discussed in the movie is woefully inadequate.

I would recommend everyone sees this film. It’s shocking in its content, but not because of the murders. It has a raw truth about it. Society is getting soft. We look away when we should defend and we put up with things that should never be allowed to come to pass in the first case. Prevention is better than the cure was never a truer phrase.

Let me know your thoughts.

It would seem that Constantine the TV show may not be picked up for a second season, which is a damn shame. If you are a fan of the comic, the on screen characterisation by actor Matt Ryan is nothing short of excellent.

I am a fan. I read the comic. Now all I can hear is his voice and mannerisms whenever I read that same comic.

I hope to G_D I am wrong though. All the support characters are interesting, the main character is kick ass and the plots and story are developing into something akin to Supernatural on steroids. Not everyone is going to have a good ending. Many die along the way. Thats the point though isn’t it? Using magic has consequences and there is always a price to pay.

In the US it’s the season for the kull. Yes, shows are currently being renewed and killed in a desperate bid to maintain ratings.

Why?

In the UK, shows build fans over years. They gain a loyal following and it takes a great deal of bad decisions by writers and showrunners to lose that following. The latest season of Dr Who may have just been an example. It caused a lot of bad fan response and ratings have dropped.

In the US, large networks are driven by their profits and costs. It sucks. Many good series are killed before they even get a chance to develop. It takes 5 seasons to get a show to progress to a point where it has a loyal and dedicated following. Although many would say that the original series of Star Trek, and the one series of Firefly, are the exceptions to this rule.

We don’t always watch these shows for the stories, at least not the weekly ones. The ones that draw the interest are those that develop the characters and draw you into their world.

If the networks sell via syndication they make a fortune. Much more than they get from advertisers and much more than they spend on the shows themselves. If they create a show to be syndicated, more loyal fans will develop and the shows themselves will sell more merchandise, DVD’s, Blu-ray box sets etc. It’s short sighted. It makes the viewer cynical and it alienates the fans. Fans are more likely to buy a series of box sets with hundreds of episodes because they can forget and rewatch over time. A few dozen do not make the grade.

It took them a whole season to do it, but the BBC restored my faith in Dr Who and in doing so they provided us one heck of an emotional season finalé. What a blast!

SPOILERS HERE:

So Mr Pink becomes a Cyberman, the dead rise up, the Doctor becomes a hero once more and there is a cameo by a dead man too… You have to watch it to get it all, but if you haven’t seen it then look at the iPlayer, get it downloaded and enjoy.

Dr Who, Good or Bad?

Posted: November 8, 2014 in Articles, Dr Who, TV Reviews

Like him or loathe him, Peter Capaldi has made the roll of Dr Who his own. His character is irreverent, quirky, both hard and soft, pushy and at times surprising in his empathy. He sees Clara as a lost love, the woman he could have dated. A missed opportunity. Her humanity frustrates him, but at the same time endears her to him. He can only do without her company for so long. He also turns out to be a hard nosed mentor as well as her best friend.

Forget the bad stories, and there have been a few. Forget the confusing sub plot and the strange aliens as well. This series of Doctor Who has been the most challenging, the most frightening, (not least because of the direction the Doctors character has taken), and at times the most endearing. It has caused frustration, endless internet debate and has opened out eyes to the way the Doctor thinks and acts.

This regeneration is one of the most interesting since John Pertwee and Tom Bakers era. This version of the Doctor reminds us that he is very, very old, quite jaded, completely eccentric and above all – a Time Lord. A member of that race of beings that birthed the Master, the Rani and many more.

I started out hating him, and now I like him. Capaldi as the Doctor has grown on me.

It’s not because of the writing though. At times this has been worse than mine, full of quick fixes and unexplainable silliness. It has mostly been down to the way Capaldi is able to bring his acting ability into play. One moment unintentionally comedic, the other deadly serious.

There are other factors that come into play too.

BAD: Mr Pink. Good actor, great sub plot = get rid of him. Not needed. A robotic destroyer that looks like it came from the 1970’s? Come on guys, even a kid wouldn’t be frightened of that. The Moon is a space egg? Cybermen, again? Tired!

GOOD: Chatting up dinosaurs, Clara, 2D Monsters, a man wrapped in bandages killing people, Clara being The Doctor for a day, new TARDIS interior, that Robin Hood episode, (he’s just a fairy tale), and spoiler of spoilers – The Master is now a woman.

Whoever said TV wasn’t interesting?

Nightcrawler Makes You Squirm

Posted: October 29, 2014 in Uncategorized

It’s been a day since I saw the film Nightcrawler and I am still feeling slightly uneasy about it. It got to me. Not because it’s a bad film, but because it contains a character that is so disturbed and irredeemable that you find yourself turning away when he is at his worst and rooting for him when he is just plain nasty.

Jake GyllenhaalRene Russo and  Bill Paxton all have driven characters, but it is Gyllenhaals portrayal of Lou Bloom that makes you squirm. The man is driven, desperate to find a job, mostly self educated and completely ruthless in his pursuit of the next big story. He goes as far as manipulating a desperate news editor into sleeping with him, moving a body at an accident to get a better picture and even gets to crime scenes before the police. He is intelligent, without moral compass and single minded. Gyllenhaal deserves an oscar for this performance.

I could say more, but that would reduce the impact of the movie. See it, because whether you love it or hate it, it is one of those movies that offers up an acting treat.

Constantine Hits The Mark

Posted: October 29, 2014 in TV Reviews

Since the rather lacklustre film starring Keanu Reeves, I have been waiting for a deserving screen version of the DC Comics character Constantine. So it was with some excitement and nervousness that I sat down to watch the pilot for the new TV series. I shouldn’t have been worried, because even before seeing the first episode there was plenty of promise.

When making a TV series based upon a well loved fictional character you need a great writing team, good production values and a decent actor to play the lead role. The Smallville team almost got it right, the Arrow team do a damn good job of making it interesting and Flash is proving to be bloody brilliant. Constantine follows in the tradition.

Having David S. Goyer and Mark Vereiden involved in the production means that it is starting in very safe hands. Add in Matt Ryan, who plays the lead role, and life becomes very interesting.

From the start Ryan does the job of nailing the character. It’s almost as if he jumped straight out of the pages of the comic. It’s not just the way the character looks either. His voice, his mannerisms and the way they have written in a disdain for all things authoritarian all add to the overall effect. This is the Constantine I have been hearing in my head every time I have read the comic.

Bravo for creating everything the fans wanted without dumbing him down.

NBC aired the first episode on 24th October and it has already been picked up for airing in the UK. Keep watching this space for more information as it arrives.