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Archive for the ‘out of this world’ Category

The Secret of Crickley Hall (2012)

In BBC, Crime, new, out of this world, Recommendation, Review, series, supernatural, war on 04/12/2012 at 7:53 pm

There’s nothing like a big old house that used to be an orphanage as a backdrop for a spooky story. It’s a bit of a cliché, admittedly, but then this 3-part BBC mini do is so tense, intriguing and well acted that it overpowers its obvious setting.

Eve and Gabe Caleigh (Suranne Jones and Tom Ellis) are a happy, busy urban couple with three kids. One day, Eve briefly dozes off at the playground and her young son Cal goes missing. A year later they move to the remote Crickley Hall, where Gabe hopes his wife might be able to start letting go of their son. But, Eve has a sort of telepathic connection with Cal, and she can hear his voice inside the heavily haunted house.

Crickley Hall was a small orphanage during WWII, and all the children supposedly drowned in a flood. However, there’s a complex mystery to be unravelled, especially since Mr Cribben (Douglas Henshall) is spooking about with his cane, terrorising the ghosts of the children as well as all the living people in the house.

The plot is complex, running between present (missing son and family dynamics), past (what really happened to the children?) and past meets present (survivors who get involved). It’s not predictable and avoids sappiness and melodrama, even though the heavy emotions involved easily provoke both. A good watch. Not if spooks spook you out, though. It’s not terrifying, but very intense and absolutely quite spooky.

 

Lost Christmas (2011)

In feel good, film, Giggles, new, out of this world, Recommendation, Review, supernatural on 29/12/2011 at 1:09 am

This is a very charming little Christmas film you simply must see. Not only because it is small and charming; it also stars one of my all time favourite people: Eddie Izzard.

Izzard’s character has lost all recollection of his life and identity, but he gained something of a superpower: he gets visions of things lost to people when he touches them. He meets a thieving little boy called Goose (Larry Mills) who lost his dog and he embarks on an adventure that seems to unite people and repair relationships. Meanwhile, Anthony (Izzard) hasn’t a clue if that’s his actual name and still needs to solve his own mystery.

The plot is clever and the story is very entertaining, mainly thanks to the young and talented Mills and a perfect display of underacting by Izzard, which creates good suspense. I wouldn’t wait till next year to watch it.

The Hitchiker’s Guide to the Galaxy (1981)

In Amazing, BBC, feel good, Giggles, hilarious, out of this world, Recommendation, series on 18/10/2011 at 7:21 pm

Someone went and made a film of this legendary, genius and hilarious Douglas Adams creation recently – and they really shouldn’t have. It’s nothing compared to the 1980s series, I tell you: nothing. Don’t even think about watching that.

We wouldn’t have an official Don’t-forget-your-towel Day without this priceless BBC television series though, and what’s more, it survived despite – or maybe because of – all the clumsy sci-fi props and special effects of the time.

For those of you who aren’t acquainted with the Hitchiker’s Guide: as all good (British) comedy it ruthlessly reflects the silliness of the human species in general, and then some. A countless amount of philosophical truths may be taken from this story, and besides, it will leave you a) desperately wanting a Babel fish and b) never again forgetting your towel.

 

 

The First Men In the Moon (2010)

In based on novel, BBC, feel good, film, out of this world, period drama, Recommendation on 27/07/2011 at 7:37 pm

A BBC Four adaptation of H.G. Wells’ beautiful tale of who really were the first men to fly off to the moon.

First of all, the cuteness factor of this film is tremendously high. This probably isn’t suitable for sci-fi pundits. The tale – just think aliens instead of fairies and it’s a fairy tale – is one deserving to be told and retold as many times as possible, for it’s such a perfectly fantastic story.

The film begins with a little boy who gets lost on a fairground and meets a very, very old man. It’s 20 July 1969 and the first moon landing in history is about to take place. The old man, however, begs to differ, and he tells the young boy about his adventures. The story is as magical as it is because it takes on human prejudice, it deals with greed as an incentive, overcoming natural fear, and finally, how knowledge can create as well as destroy entire societies.

Mainly though, The First Men in the Moon is just a lot of fun.

 

 

Hawking (2004)

In Amazing, BBC, film, out of this world, period drama, Recommendation on 24/07/2011 at 3:16 pm

This BBC film tells the story of Stephen Hawking’s first years of great accomplishment at Cambridge, which coincided with the emergence of the auto neurone disease that left him almost completely paralysed today.

Even if time, space and the beginning of the universe aren’t your favourite topics, this film is a beautiful watch. Benedict Cumberbatch, who won a Golden Nymph and was nominated for a BAFTA for this part , plays a convincing and compelling young Stephen Hawking as he is confronted with this terrible disease and quite rapidly loses control over his muscles. I had to watch an episode of Sherlock to convince myself that Cumberbatch is still quite capable of walking and talking as well as any healthy person.

The now celebrity theoretical  physicist and cosmologist  Hawkins gained fame with his contributions to science, mainly to do with gravity, black holes, the Big Bang theory, the time-space continuum and other things we still no too little about. Needless to say, this scientist has been a great inspiration to all science-fiction writers since the late 1960s.  He is now almost entirely paralysed and communicates through a device which he can only operate with his cheek.

 

 

Doctor Who (2005-)

In Amazing, BBC, out of this world, Recommendation, Review, series on 01/07/2011 at 6:38 pm

Despite the series being immensely popular in the UK, I say The Doctor is the cultest super-hero around. The guy is +900 years old, can travel through space and time, flies around in a blue box which is bigger on the inside, has no weapon but a bleepy screwdriver… should I go on?

Originally one of the first sci-fi series around, Doctor Who is now a shiny state-of-the-art family TV-show and, well, a part of what defines Britain. The new series began in 2005 with Christopher Eccleston as The Doctor, who died and regenerated into the body of much adored David Tennant. The latter was chosen ‘Best Doctor Ever’ and made three and a half seasons. Now it’s Matt Smith – a new Doctor, who didn’t only change body, but much of The Doctor’s character too. The opinions on the latest Doctor vary, and I can’t say I’m much in favour of the new guy. Where Eccleston and Tennant were undisputed geniuses with a tortured soul, a romantic heart and a touching sense of humour, Smith is this 900 year old guy who keeps needing to remind himself of who he is. He is rather too clumsy for a super-hero and he says ‘iew’ when people kiss.

Nevertheless, five amazing seasons were made, and the new seasons are still very entertaining (albeit sometimes a wee bit predictable). By now, The Doctor and his friends have seen the Earth being annihilated, they’ve seen many versions of future New Yorks, they’ve met Queen Victoria and werewolves, Shakespeare and alien witches, they’ve solved the mystery of the four day disappearance of Agatha Christie, they met Charles Dickens and found where he got his idea for A Christmas Carol, the Doctor got to play the Ghost of Christmas past, present and future, he got to snog Kylie Minogue too, oh and Sophia Myles as Madame de Pompadour as well. I’m genuinely envious of everyone who hasn’t seen all of this yet.

Sunshine (2007)

In film, out of this world, Review on 01/07/2011 at 6:29 pm

Just a year before Danny Boyle won Academy Awards for Slumdog Millionaire (2008), which fully deserved the credit it got, he did this. Heaven knows why. Sunshine is a very badly written sci-fi, using quite mediocre means despite being a large production, and the acting is pretty terrible on top of it. The only one who really does a good job here is Irish actor Cillian Murphy as the story’s hero Capa.

Eight astronauts are on their way to the sun in 2050 because it’s dying and they need to blast a great big nuclear bomb into it so it can continue warming the Earth. It’s supposed to be a psychological drama about saving human kind versus saving one of your colleagues or your own skin, but the power play is weakly executed. The women mainly sigh and cry, while the men keep getting into childish fist-fights following painful, tasteless insults (they‘re dead because you said we should do this or that). This might have been more  likely in an army of some sort, but these people are supposed to be the world’s best scientists, not emotionally unstable testosterone-driven boys.

I’m not even mentioning the countless impossible occurrences like having a very difficult-to-get-out-of space suit on one moment and being magically out of it the next sequential shot.

Overall, Sunshine is extremely melodramatic because one is expected to sympathise with characters in peril, which doesn’t quite work out. The sloppily written story (how did they get in that mess in the first place?) and not knowing anything about the characters, save the couple of unoriginal lines they spat out, make it quite difficult to care whether they burn alive, freeze to death or go stardust on you any other way. It does pick up and get tense towards the end, in a surprising but not particularly good way.

Very sorry for ranting on, but The Guardian’s Peter Bradshaw actually gave this film four stars. That review is is dire need of counterbalance if you ask me.

Misfits (2009-)

In Amazing, Crime, feel good, Giggles, hilarious, out of this world, Recommendation, Review, series, supernatural on 01/07/2011 at 6:14 pm

Now this is what I call a highly original, frantically funny, utterly impossible and sometimes just a tad outrageously over-the-top supernatural spectacle. And it won a BAFTA for best drama series.

The basic idea of Misfits is this: five Asbos (for non-UK readers: that’s young offenders. Read: pesky, asocial, ill-behaved teenagers) get hit by a tremendous scary thunderstorm on their first day of Community Service. After that, the whole world goes funny and they’re all left with some sort of superpower – not all of these convenient ones, mind.

The best thing about this series is that, well it’s hilarious, but also it doesn’t follow the predictable narrative of the powers turning these kids into ‘better people’. Rather, it shows why these five young people are such misfits, without judging whether that’s good or bad. The teleportation, turning back time and and going invisible – to name some superpowers – just make it a very entertaining watch.

Well into its third season, Misfits doesn’t cease to charm the pants off you. Be sure to catch the 2011 mini-episode called ‘Vegas Baby’ explaining what Nathan, one of the first two seasons’ quintessential characters finally gets up to.