Ramblings (Blog)

This review of Star Wars: The Force Awakens is 100% spoiler free. With that comes the possibility that chunks of it’ll seem quite mystical if you haven’t seen the film, as I’m not even going to reference character names or reveals in the trailer – but spoiler free is spoiler free, right? Let’s get one thing out of the way first: I grew up with Stars Wars all around me. It’s still with me now (there’s an AT-AT walker to my right as I scribble this). So if you’re looking for an unbiased, emotionally distant review of Episode VII, you’re not going to get it here. Then again, if you’re reading reviews for Episode VII on a site like this, you’re either lost, or not looking for an outsider’s perspective… The short version goes a little like this: The Force Awakens is a great action-adventure space opera romp. It’s also a good (but noticeably imperfect) film. Does it capture the feel of the original trilogy? Yes. Is it better than the prequels? Goodness, yes. Is it as good as the original trilogy? Yes and no. I’ll try to explain that last one in a moment, but let’s get into a […]
The better part of a year and half ago, I wrote a wee blog about how popular sci-fi and fantasy handle feminism. If you’ve not read it, you can find it here, but my woeful conclusion was ‘not very well at all.’ Well, eighteen months on, things are better, right? I’ll have to go with a solid ‘sort of’, on that. See? There are lots of superheroines in the Marvel universe. Mind you, when Dazzler’s one of your leading punches… Superficially, things seem much improved. Since my original piece, we’ve had female-led films like Jupiter Ascending, plenty of mainstream comics titles centered around women, and even the Assassin’s Creed franchise (which I may have lambasted a touch) has found the resources to add a double X chromosome player character in the forthcoming Assassin’s Creed Syndicate. Of course, Jupiter Ascending is near-universally regarded as a muddled narrative (which isn’t enormously relevant to the topic at hand) in which the titular lead is a constantly hapless damsel in need of rescue (which is totally relevant). Could Tauriel have been any more peripheral in Battle of Five Armies? She’s built up as a kick-ass warrior, then… *sigh*… fumbles her fight against one of […]
As some of you have probably realised, BBC reform is on the breeze again. The telltale signs are all there. The main ones, of course, are that it’s a day of the week, and water is wet. Government poking at the BBC – or threatening to poke at the BBC – is hardly even a news story any more. The question comes again and again: Why Do We Need the BBC? It’s just something that happens, like the sun rising in the morning. The other indicator is a steady stream of TV personalities proclaiming far and wide that the BBC is a vital service, and a pillar of the nation. I’m honestly not sure how much good this does. Given that most of the lads and lasses in question receive a sizable income from the BBC (or at least a lot of exposure), then it’s not a huge leap to question their objectivity. Now, I’ve never so much as taken a penny from the BBC (although don’t be shy, producers – I’ve some stories that would make for enthralling fantasy serials on a drama budget). I’ve no vested interest, no axe to grind, and I’m going to share my thoughts […]
Batman v. Superman. It’s not a great title, is it? In fact, it doesn’t get a hell of a lot better when you add the subtitle Dawn of Justice. Nevertheless, I find the idea of Bats versus Supes interesting. Oh, not in how it plays out on the big screen. Every crossover comic ever has a scene where the two main characters duke it out for a bit, and then realise that they’re really on the same side. Daredevil/Batman? Check. Punisher/Batman? Check. JLA/Avengers? Yarp. If there’s a winner, it’s normally a foregone conclusion (Hulk vs. Iron man in Avengers: Age of Ultron, anyone?) so there’s never any real dramatic tension to be had. Without drama, you’re really just judging one fight scene against another, and such fight scenes almost always feel disconnected from the rest of the story because, by their nature, they’re contrived as hell. No, the Bats versus Supes idea I’m interested in is the one that plays out in the real world. Batman and Superman are two of DC’s ‘Trinity’ (the third member being the oft-overlooked Wonder Woman). It’s a grouping that’s served DC well for decades, even to the point that Marvel had a crack at […]
Last week, I posted on Facebook about the release of Frostgrave: Tales from the Frozen City – a short story anthology to which I contributed. I also mentioned that it contained a story by a writing hero of mine, David A. McIntee. He’s a writer who’s turned his hand to plenty of different works over the years, but I know him through his entries in the Missing Adventures and New Adventures lines of Doctor Who novels. ‘Writing hero’ isn’t an accolade I wave around much. As I’m sure I’ve mentioned before, I’m a grumpy bastard, and see the flaws much more readily than I acknowledge the shiny. I reckon it’s therefore worth explaining why I make an exception here. Hard to believe now, but there was a time when Doctor Who wasn’t popular. By the end of the eighties, after years of steadily decreasing budgets (I remember reading that by the time Sylvester McCoy’s final season rolled around, one episode of Red Dwarf had a bigger budget than an entire fourteen episode series of Doctor Who. I can’t verify that claim, but I believe it.) and other woes too numerous to list  here, the BBC finally cancelled the series.  In […]