Wednesday, 22 February 2017

On 22.2.17 by KieronMoore in ,    No comments

The latest issue of Starburst Magazine is available now! The main features cover the past and present of the Power Rangers franchise - not one I've ever followed personally but the writers involved seem to know their stuff. I've contributed my usual Doctor Who news column and a couple of my reviews - The Diary of River Song and Judge Dredd: Every Empire Falls - are printed.

Go go buy it now!

Sunday, 19 February 2017

Full review on Starburst.

When we join the Fourth Doctor, Romana and K9 at the beginning of this latest adventure from Big Finish, they’re travelling to the Lake District in order to visit the Pencil Museum. Of course, no listener actually expects them to make it there. The time travellers in fact find themselves in a warzone populated by Sontarans, zombies, and zombie Sontarans. The rain’s similar to the Lake District, though.

Though the zombie genre may have been worn out a while ago, pitting Sontarans against the undead versions of themselves is an irresistible pitch, and regular Who franchise writers Cavan Scott and Mark Wright get a lot of great material out of it.

It’s particularly interesting to have the Sontarans on the same side as our heroes for once. The pairing of the Doctor with Commander Stom, a kind of companion figure, is a highlight of the story; Tom Baker and Dan Starkey are both naturally funny actors and the script makes fun of the Sontarans’ overly militaristic manner in a witty way, rather than resorting to wackiness like some recent TV appearances.

Wednesday, 8 February 2017

On 8.2.17 by KieronMoore in , ,    2 comments

“How much sorrow can one man have to bear? As much as a river of spring water flowing east” goes the poem from which The Spring River Flows East derives its name. Indeed, a whole lot of sorrow – plus some action and drama too! – is spread across the three-hour running time of Chusheng Cai and Junli Zheng’s epic, often cited as one of the masterpieces of Chinese cinema.

The film begins in 1931 and ends in the late 1940s, covering the lives of one family before, during and after the Second Sino-Japanese War, and is split into two parts. In part one, we meet a young couple, Zhongliang and Sufen. Zhongliang leaves his wife, mother and infant son behind to fight in the war, where he’s captured by the Japanese. 

By the second half, Zhongliang has escaped his captors and been taken in by a wealthy acquaintance. Finding himself in bourgeois society, he forgets about his family and his morals. Meanwhile, Sufen suffers more and more, turning to desperate measures to feed her son.

It’s a Chinese equivalent of a David Lean epic – the personal struggles of a small group set against the sweeping backdrop of history. Though actual action sequences are sparse, the filmmakers cut in genuine newsreel footage, which builds up both tension and veracity.

In Zhongliang, we have an excellent portrayal of a man who starts out as a revolutionary and a romantic but is changed by the situations he’s thrown into, becoming a coward and a cad. But the tears referenced in that poem surely belong to Sufen; her increasingly harrowing conditions have a real sense of desperation to them, and you’ll be rooting for the family to find some solace.