Wednesday, 27 April 2016

On 27.4.16 by KieronMoore in , , ,    No comments

Issue 14 of Doctor Who Adventures is out now, and I've written the comic strip, SKY MANOR!

The story sees the Doctor having to play detective and find a missing child on a mansion high above the clouds. As you'd expect, the house starts to fall and he gets chased by angry gorilla-themed aliens.

The talented Russ Leach and John Burns are on art and colour duties.

Doctor Who Adventures 14 is available from your local supermarket or newsagent, or you can find info on how to subscribe on the official website.

Here's the cover and a preview:

Monday, 25 April 2016

Based on Emma Donoghue’s novel, itself inspired by the Josef Fritzl case, Room doesn’t have the most cheery of concepts – Larson plays Joy “Ma” Newsome, who was abducted at seventeen and now lives in a squalid shed as a sex slave to Old Nick (Sean Bridgers). But the film rightfully doesn’t linger too long on Nick’s abuse of Joy. Instead it’s told from the perspective of Jack (Tremblay), Joy’s son. Jack believes that their home, ‘Room’, is all there is. And then one day, Joy decides it’s time to tell Jack the truth about ‘The World’.

It’s not too much of a spoiler (hey, it’s on the poster) to reveal that, at some point in the film, Joy and Jack escape Room – and the sequence in which they do is knuckle-chewingly tense. Life in The World isn’t easy, though, as Jack finds himself overwhelmed by the onslaught of new people and places.

The emotional ups and downs are numerous, yet perfectly handled by Donoghue’s touching script and Lenny Abrahamson’s sensitive direction. The performances are flawless, too; while Larson’s Oscar was well deserved, Room is Jack’s story, and Jacob Tremblay is that rare thing – a child actor who convinces with a full range of emotions and hits all the right notes.

Saturday, 23 April 2016

From 2006 to 2011, Sheridan Smith portrayed Lucie Miller alongside Paul McGann’s Eighth Doctor, giving us one of the most memorable and well-loved companions of the audio format. After five years, Smith makes her return to Big Finish as the narrator of this Short Trip.

It’s February 1974, and Britain is enduring regular power cuts. In an old folks’ home, one elderly lady, Cecille, is enduring far worse than others, troubled by ghosts from her past. Having become Cecille’s carer, Lucie enlists the Doctor’s help in getting to the truth.

The Curse of the Fugue is a touching story from writer Alice Cavander, with the reveals about Cecille’s wartime past exploring old age and the burden of memory. The slow pacing and half-hour format, however, do limit the tension of the story, with little exploration of the 1970s setting and the only extraterrestrial element being not much more than a MacGuffin.

Nevertheless, Smith does a great job of the narration, and Cavander’s script gets the dialogue of this popular time-travelling duo spot on. It's almost, but not quite, like having her and McGann back together again!

In 2014, Monty Nero’s sex-and-superpowers graphic novel Death Sentence shocked and entertained in equal measure. Set in a world in which the sexually transmitted G+ virus gives superpowers to those it infects, but also limits their lifespan to six months, it followed struggling musician Weasel and frustrated artist Verity as they sought meaning to their lives in the face of a very imminent death sentence.

The sequel, London, begins where Death Sentence left off, in a city torn into chaos, and follows a variety of characters. Verity is on the run from various groups who are after her powers. Weasel is taking advantage of his newfound heroic standing, while coping with his son’s death via sex, drugs and rock & roll. Drug dealer Roots is using her plant-manipulating powers to monopolise the cannabis market. FBI agent Jeb is balancing a secret mission and a collapsing family life. And London mayor Tony Bronson (who’s clearly Boris, but too prominent a character for Nero to get away with saying so) is fed up of all this riff-raff. 

Nero’s writing has a distinctly anarchic tone, with the story motivated by anger against the establishment. The government are pompous and selfish, while the chaos that breaks out in London is a clear mirror of the 2011 riots, sparked by an act of police brutality which feels all too familiar. Nero sympathises with these dissidents, even quoting directly from one of the real 2011 protestors at one point, while being careful to criticise those who turn political protests into mindless violence.

Artist Martin Simmonds, picking up from Mike Dowling’s work on the first volume, reflects this tone in his work, filling each panel with increasingly chaotic dynamism while nevertheless keeping it easy to follow and giving each character a distinctive look.

Tuesday, 19 April 2016

Full review on Starburst.

The planet Aoris is at war with itself – people from the future going back in time to steal from the past, people from the past laying bombs to kill those from the future. Stuck in the middle of this are the Doctor, Romana, and K9, who seems to have found himself a cult following (and not in the sci-fi fandom sense). That’s where last month’s The Paradox Planet left off, and Legacy of Death, the second part of the story, develops it with style.

This is a good choice of story to tell as a two-parter, as the time travel shenanigans render the plot rather complex. Writer Jonathan Morris handles this complexity well, though, keeping the twists coming but never letting them become confusing, and successfully tying up the story with satisfying neatness. The satirical edge to the plot – with both time zones equally complicit in their planet’s ruination – is strongly developed, and the tension is ramped up effectively as both eras launch their fiercest attacks on each other.

It goes without saying that Tom Baker, Lalla Ward, and John Leeson are on fine form, with all three leads getting major roles to play in the fate of Aoris – K9 in particular gets to be much more the star of the show than he has in a long while.
On 19.4.16 by KieronMoore in , , , ,    No comments

Avant-garde Soviet documentary may not be the most enticing movie night idea, but anyone interested in film history should know the name Dziga Vertov. The key figure in the ‘cinema-eye’ collective of filmmakers, Vertov rejected ‘staged’ cinema – actors, scripts, all that rubbish – and developed a Marxist style inspired by newsreel footage, using the camera to capture real life then editing the footage into a coherent overview of society. 

Man With A Movie Camera is about the people of Russia; the life of the city (it was filmed in Kiev, Kharkov, Moscow and Odessa) is shown in all its detail. People get up, go to work, and play sports. People get married, others get divorced. A child is born. Intricate editing places the factory machines and switchboard operators perfectly in time with the film’s music, turning the city into a symphony. Vertov’s use of film is very playful, showing us the eponymous cameraman as he sets up the shots we then see, and even making use of optical illusions, such as placing the cameraman inside a beer glass. It all comes together to create an innovative and remarkable piece of cinema that, even in 2016, is an engaging, energetic watch, as well as a fascinating historical document.

The other films on this new box set are similarly intriguing, if not as consistently watchable. Kino-Eye (1924) has a similar style, portraying the lives of children in a small village. Kino-Pravda #21 (1925) is a memorial to the recently deceased Lenin, incorporating newsreel footage of his life before showing us his funeral and reactions to his death. Enthusiasm: Symphony of the Donbass (1931) goes down into the mines of the Don coal basin, focusing on the miners as they work hard to fulfil the Five Year Plan. Finally, Three Songs About Lenin (1934) celebrates the achievements of the Soviet Union’s founder.

Friday, 15 April 2016

On 15.4.16 by KieronMoore in ,    No comments

Issue 424 of Starburst Magazine is out now!

It's an X-Men issue, with a preview of the upcoming Apocalypse and a retrospective look at Marvel's Mutants' journey through cinema and comics so far.

It also features my regular Doctor Who news column, Outside the Box, as well as my review of The Black Archives: Rose.

Pick it up from Tesco, WH Smiths, or online.

Wednesday, 13 April 2016


[Some big spoilers further down this review. But they're all in the trailer anyway.]

Faced with some free time, I ran a Twitter poll this week asking followers what films I should catch up with, and Batman V Superman came last. Plus, I’d already heard a number of bad things about it, and I’ve not enjoyed any of Zack Snyder’s previous films. And yet some masochistic instinct within me brought me into a screening.

It’s abysmal. Every bad thing I’d heard about it was true.

Many of the problems stem from the fact that it’s trying to be several films at once. Snyder wants to make a film about Superman as modern-day god, in the dark, political style of Christopher Nolan’s Batman movies. DC want to make a film which sets up the Justice League series, in the lighter style of the Marvel films. And, somewhere along the way, someone decided that this should also be a film about Batman taking on Superman, in the brutal style of Frank Miller’s Dark Knight Returns.

And, of course, these three films intersect awfully. Now, I do sympathise with the criticisms that superheroes should be heroic, hence the popularity of the Marvel series, but I'm also a fan of letting talented filmmakers do their personal takes on well-known characters (The Dark Knight was 100% Christopher Nolan's take on Batman, and all the better for it), and that first 'superheroes as gods' film does sound interesting to me. Unfortunately, Zack Snyder is not a talented filmmaker. He does indeed come up with some impressive visual ideas exploring this theme – the montage of Superman saving people, Lex Luthor’s Heaven and Hell painting which “should be upside down” – but ultimately, visuals is all it is. He’s not an astute enough storyteller, and is hampered by all the other things the film is trying to be, leaving this theme concluded in only a heavy-handed, unsatisfying fashion.

He's also hampered by his fascistic admiration for that which he sets out to criticise; Snyder’s treatment of these modern gods, and of the Miller-esque angle too, ends up revelling in the violence way too readily, seemingly unaware of the satirical intent of The Dark Knight Returns. Snyder’s camera revels in billionaire Batman torturing and casually killing, his victims being small-time criminals and even security guards just doing their jobs. There’s a training montage, played entirely seriously, in which Bruce Wayne pulls a tractor tyre around. “Phwaor, look at his muscles”, the film says. I think Snyder reckons he’s getting deep into Batman’s psyche with that scene. I think he reckons the muscles are his psyche. The desire to criticise the actions of superheroes is countermanded by the desire to fetishise them (compare this to the recent second season of Daredevil, which manages to get deep into serious issues of vigilante justice and violence, while having interesting characters and retaining a sense of fun, deftly keeping the action entertaining while condemning the Punisher's merciless killing).

Character motivations are nonexistent. Batman fights Superman because he sees him as causing too much collateral damage – OK, not too bad. Superman fights Batman because Luthor, holding Martha Kent captive, tells him to. Despite Superman having previously been exceptionally good at finding and saving people held captive. And why does Luthor want Superman dead? I’m honestly not sure. Jesse Eisenberg’s Luthor is a caricature, his Zuckerberg ramped up to eleven, with shockingly little actual character, and is annoying rather than sinister. Again, why does he create Doomsday other than for one task he already had a different plan in place for? If Doomsday had survived, what would Lex have done with him?

So this conflict between Batman and Superman - the one in the title - lasts for one fight scene of about five minutes. Now, I’d been spoiled about what it is that makes them stop fighting, but I hadn’t quite believed it. But fuck me. It’s worse than it sounded. They genuinely do stop because Batman realises their mums had the same name. It’s the most idiotically scripted scene I’ve ever seen in a cinema. How did anyone involved let that get shot?

Then there’s the problem of the film’s use of its female characters. Just how many times does Lois Lane get kidnapped? At least it varies it a bit towards the end by having Martha Kent be the kidnappee. And then Lois somehow gets herself trapped underwater.

And all these character and thematic issues are compounded by just how incompetently the film is structured… About half the scenes have no bearing on the story at all. Scenes sometimes forget what they’re doing half way through. Batman fails to steal Kryptonite and then, a few scenes later, has it anyway. Clark Kent and Bruce Wayne learn each other’s secret identities between scenes. There really is a bit where it cuts away from the tense action to Wonder Woman at a computer basically looking at trailers for the next DC films. And the dream sequences – what?


Batman V Superman is the Donald Trump of superhero movies – right in the centre of the ‘nasty’ and ‘incompetent’ Venn diagram.

Tuesday, 12 April 2016

On 12.4.16 by KieronMoore in , ,    No comments

Exciting news! The first episode of Union, the web series Tom Woffenden and I produced at university, is going to be screened at Pilot Light TV Festival, a new event focusing on the best of TV and web-based episodic content.

Tom and I may also be doing a Q&A. Which should be fun, and not at all awkward.

Book free tickets and find more information on the festival here.

And, if you can't make it, you can still catch all of Union on YSTV.