Monday, 20 March 2017

On 20.3.17 by KieronMoore in , , ,    No comments

Full review on Starburst.

Seok Woo, a busy fund manager and single parent, has let his work take over his life to the extent that his daughter Soo-an can no longer stand living with him and demands to be taken to spend her birthday with her mother in Busan. And so father and daughter board the eponymous train – on the day the zombie infection breaks out.

Zombie movies may be ten-a-penny these days, and so it’s difficult to find a new approach to the genre, but this South Korean effort has a unique selling point in its claustrophobic setting; as many films before it have discovered, from Bond outing From Russia With Love to Snowpiercer, the confined and inescapable train is an excellent setting for brutal action. It’s even better with zombies on board. 

The theme of selfishness vs. selflessness is laid on heavy, particularly when it comes to supporting characters such as a one-dimensionally swinish COO and a pair of sisters who have opposing political views. And yet this is never a problem for long, as there’s always another pants-shakingly relentless action scene around the corner. 
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Full review on Starburst. 

And my interview with director G. J. Echternkamp is published in Starburst Magazine 435, in stores now!

The premise is basically the same as the original – in a post-apocalyptic America, the most popular sport is the annual Death Race, in which five drivers zoom across America, earning points for killing civilians along the way.

Being a low-budget affair, this isn’t the slickest looking car movie you’ll have seen, but it’s nevertheless entertainingly brutal, with the racing scenes coming fast and heavy and the gore reminding us what we love about the cheap and nasty exploitation movies of the ‘70s. 

Script-wise, the humour is the real appeal. Here there’s a difference in tone between the 1975 and 2000 films – whereas the original went full-on Wacky Races, Death Race 2050 is more satirical, as ridiculous and overblown as that satire is. It’s got a broad range of targets, from radical Christianity to AI technology to reality TV.

But the most striking satirical target is not any of the racers but the film’s take on America itself, now a post-apocalyptic wasteland ruled by – be warned, this is where it may feel a little close to the bone right now – Malcolm McDowell’s silly-haired and egotistic Chairman of the United Corporations of America.

That’s right, Death Race 2050 is the anti-Trump satire we all need. Sure, the budget shows, but what shows even more is this film’s angry, anarchistic spirit.
On 20.3.17 by KieronMoore in , , , ,    No comments

Full review on Starburst.

In October 2015, Big Finish began an epic story set in the later days of the Eighth Doctor’s life. Almost a year and a half later, Doom Coalition 4 has completed that story, which now spans sixteen episodes across four box sets. The Doctor and his companions Liv and Helen have uncovered a great conspiracy among the ranks of the Time Lords, which threatens the entire universe...

Doom Coalition 4 doesn’t resolve the previous instalment's cliffhanger immediately, but spends an entire episode, Ship in a Bottle, following the three leads trapped in a time capsule. It’s a stripped-down episode – you could say a ‘bottle’ episode – with just the three characters, allowing writer John Dorney to create an intimate character study.

Next up is Songs of Love, a Doctor-lite episode in which River Song finds herself on Gallifrey, amongst the conspirators. It’s heavy on the exposition, having to put a lot of pieces in place for the finale, and on Gallifreyan politics.

The Side of the Angels takes us to 1970s New York, where the Doctor discovers another group of Time Lords with their own plan to counter the universe’s destruction. Matt Fitton’s script brings many disparate elements together into an entertaining adventure; it’s the most like a traditional Doctor Who episode of the bunch. And Rufus Hound is great as the Monk.

Finally, there’s Stop the Clock. In order not to spoil the surprises, I won’t say much about this, other than that it feels like a properly epic finale.

All in all, Doom Coalition 4 is a great success for Big Finish, as is Doom Coalition as a whole – an epic story told across sixteen episodes, with each episode contributing to the arc while standing out on its own.
On 20.3.17 by KieronMoore in , , ,    No comments

Full review on Starburst. 

Cosmonaut and psychologist Kris Kelvin is sent to a space station orbiting the planet Solaris to investigate strange transmissions coming from its three remaining crew. When he gets there, he finds that an alien intelligence has been manifesting itself as simulacra of the crew’s memories. This strange phenomenon soon hits Kelvin hard, as he’s visited by a being who appears to be his wife Hari – who died ten years ago.

At once an epic and a very insular movie, a combination that much sci-fi aspires to but falls short of, Solaris cuts between sweeping shots of the mysterious planet and deep psychological exploration of how these ‘guests’ affect the crew. It’s a film that’s been discussed at length with regards to what it has to say about faith and memory, but which at heart seems to be about the need for human connection.

At times, it’s a captivatingly beautiful film, with this thought-provoking drama taking place against the backdrop of an impressive but worn-down space station, which seems to fall apart alongside the protagonist’s mind. At other times, the movie’s lingering nature can irritate; one particular shot of a car travelling down a road before we’ve even gone to space lasts uncomfortably long.

Saturday, 18 March 2017

On 18.3.17 by KieronMoore in , , ,    No comments

Full review on Starburst.

Film is often described as a collaborative medium, but if there ever was one movie that could be described as authored – the work of one artistic mind – it’s Endless Poetry. Not only does it show off Alejandro Jodorowsky’s style at its most bizarre, but it’s also about the surrealist filmmaker’s own life, following 2013’s The Dance of Reality as the second part of an autobiographical trilogy.

The young Alejandro leaves his family behind to join a bohemian community of artists in Santiago, Chile’s capital. Across the 1940s and ‘50s, this eclectic bunch frequent bars way into the early hours, improvise poetry at each other, and have a raucous time being abrasively avant-garde. The astonishingly weird story isn’t afraid to depict its characters in unusual ways – Alejandro’s mother sings all of her dialogue in an operatic style – or to go off on narrative tangents – at one point, he decides almost spontaneously to become a clown.

But all of this is carefully composed to capture both the vivid and extraordinary life of this cultural scene and this important period in Alejandro’s life, with the overall tone being that of a director looking back fondly but analytically on his past. The concept has potential to become indulgent or patronising, but instead Jodorowsky presents it with a sense of humour and a deftness of touch.

Friday, 17 March 2017

It's time for my monthly plug for the latest issue of Starburst Magazine!

It was my pleasure to interview GJ Echternkamp, the director of Roger Corman's Death Race 2050, for this issue. Also, I look back on the Paul McGann Doctor Who audios, give a controversial headline about Danny Dyer, and review some things of varying medium (from audio to visual!) and quality (from 7/10 to 8/10!).

And there's lots of stuff about Guardians of the Galaxy. Other people wrote that, but they're good too.

Starburst 435 is available in shops or online.

Sunday, 5 March 2017

On 5.3.17 by KieronMoore in , ,    No comments

Full review on Starburst.

Julia Davenport has a problem in her sex life – whenever she orgasms, she releases a mysterious demonic entity with an unfortunate predilection for killing anyone in the vicinity. They didn’t cover that in sex ed lessons. Though the concept of Off Girl may invite comparisons with the acclaimed series Sex Criminals, it’s an interesting twist on the concept, with Julia’s superpower being more of a burden than a benefit. 

Fine uses this to explore the idea of a woman struggling with an overpowering need for sex. This, however, does factor in to one of the problems with this first issue. Because it’s not made clear (or even acknowledged) why she’s so damn horny all the time, some of the decisions Julia makes make her difficult to like as a lead character. This isn’t helped by the fact that the story starts with Julia already knowing about her power, which does add pacing but also leaves us confused at points, nor by the rushed manner in which a lot of the scenes are written, with dialogue being very to the point.

What does make the comic stand out, however, is Mark Reihill’s distinctive art style, which looks something like the cel-shaded style of A Scanner Darkly crossed with a modern noir. Moody and evocative, Reihill’s art forgoes detail in favour of striking character designs and strong chiaroscuro, a style which particularly fits one expressionistic sequence at the – ahem – climax of the issue.

Friday, 3 March 2017

Vastra, Jenny and Strax find themselves protecting an important figure from a vicious alien killer as their train hurtles through the French countryside in ASSASSIN ON THE RAILROADS, my Paternoster Gang Investigates story in issue 22 of Doctor Who Adventures.

The issue also features a new and exciting comic strip written by Andrew Cartmel. Both this and my story are brilliantly illustrated by Russ Leach.

It's on sale now in supermarkets and newsagents!