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Preview: The Truth Behind...

The Truth Behind...

Taking a look at life around us and showing what is really going on...

Updated: 2017-11-18T01:32:19.918+13:00


Red Dwaf XII.V


This episode starts so well.

The ship has been missing some updates, so when they occur the ship now becomes the property of M-Corp. And Dave can't see anyone who isn't M-Corp property. I'll give you three guesses as to who then Dave can't see. And then something about how corporations charge you for everything, because that hasn't been done before.

The first half of the episode is great. Interesting set up with the M-Corp and what happens to Dave, but then the second half just is either stuff we've already covered in better comedies, or boring plot stuff that manages to be extremely boring. The wrap up is again nice and easy, although right at the end there is one call back that...if it's funny, it's only because it's OG writing.

So far this season is running one and a half good episodes, with one to go. Not great odds.


Thor Thagnathok


Marvel time, and this time Taika is involved, so I'm already more favourable towards it.

Thor finds out the threat of Ragnarok is around, and in attempting to stop it finds out that it might be too late, and also Hela, the Goddess of Death, has been released. While trying to stop her, he ends up on a random planet, and slowly puts together a team. If you've seen the trailer, you know who is involved, and really there's not much more to say.

This is indeed a lot of fun. Thor is really lightened up for this, partly because Chris Hemsworth was complaining about how unfun it was, and partly because Taika is the director. (And yes, Taika has a role, as such.) Chris seems to enjoy himself, as do the other cast members. Although I'm not 100% convinced that Jeff Goldblum didn't just wander on to set, they painted him up, and he managed to say some stuff that could be used in the movie.

And from this we got to get into Infinity Wars... okay, I'm still in.


Twoman vs Bat-Face


Oh yeah, I forgot this was out. So.. surprise?

Two-Face is created in the opening segment, but he's also defeated during the credits, so that's all right. Instead we spend time with the great villain King Tut... and then Bookworm... but surprise (again), it was really Two-Face all along!

This doesn't really feel like 66 Batman, but again an Adam West Batman in a more modern adventure. Things are kicked off by Hugo Strange, but a modern take on Strange, not Warden Crichton, who was in charge of the penitentiary where the criminals were housed. He had a mockingly naive take on trusting/reforming criminals, whereas Hugo Strange is basically playing Emile Keller and has a device to extract the evil out of people. That doesn't feel very 66y to me.

Neither does what happens to Two-Face. It's a very cartoon thing, certainly, but again not a 66 thing. Even being hammed by William Shatner doesn't help.

But speaking of actors, Adam West takes it as seriously as possible. And while Burt Ward is back, his Robin feels very incidental. More effort is given to Julie Newmar's Catwoman... and hey, Lee Meriwether is here too, and gets a Catwoman moment as well!

While the previous movie felt "what if Batman mocked modern style?" this feels more like "what if Batman straight up was more modern style", and doesn't work as well.


Universal 1940A


Hey, again with the lack of monster, but with the crime thriller, with a bit of a sci-fi twist. This is Black Friday.

A professor gets into a car accident with a bunch of hoodlums leaving him in hospital and the lead criminal dead. However, the lead criminal knows where the money is, and the friend of the professor is a morally flexible doctor who decides the best way to save the professor is to put the criminal's brain into the professor's body, with the benefit of maybe accessing where the money is. When stressed about the criminal's past, the professor becomes the criminal and goes on a killing spree of his old companions, until many many people are dead.

This does have the hook of the brain transplant (which doesn't explain how the new brain has both sets of memories...), leading to the crime thriller. Karloff is the doctor, and Lugosi is one of the crooks, so while Karloff does have something interesting to do, Lugosi just feels like "bad crook #7" and doesn't add anything with his presence. This looks to be due to actor casting shuffling around that leaves Stanley Ridges with the meaty role.

Anyway, I like their crime thrillers, so I'm on board with this.


Red Dwaf XII.IV


Okay, I'm gonna skip to the end here... this is the most pointless episode in this series (okay, only so far).

There's a problem and they have to abandon ship, but not take the various vending etc machines. Which have only ever turned up in random moments, but they have a whole episode about them now. The point being there will be someone who represents their interest, so cue electioneering jokes. Like, for the rest of the episode. And since we'll never heard of these machines again, you can just guess how important this will turn out to be. (At least, I'm guessing, but I doubt I'll turn out to be wrong.)

There is a surprise guest, which makes me feel a lot of this episode was set up to bring the guest back, but then the exact same jokes are rolled out, so really? Did we need that?

And then we have the problem all these episodes have had of an overly long unfunny skit that is irrelevant to the episode, and a quick tie up of events that dashes an ending off in under a minute. All the episodes have done this, and this one is particularly bad given how useless the entire episode feels.

So... I'm not a fan of this episode.


Geo Sturm


Hey, somehow this Syfy movie ended up on the big screen. Someone made a mistake?

Someone made a network of satellites to control earth's weather... and basically you can tell the rest of the plot from there. Something goes wrong, people need to put themselves in danger in order to find out the next elements of the plot (such as it is). Various cities get destroyed, but none of them matter until it is somewhere in the USA. And the hero makes a sacrifice at the end.

Ultimately... this movie is just dull. It does nothing different to the bajillion other disaster movies before it, expect that it has a larger budget to be boring on a bigger scale. Gerard Butler gets out his lines (although apparently he kept forgetting them), and Jim Sturgess pretends to be an action star. Abbie Cornish gets the better part, so she isn't featured much.

Really, I can't even recommend this as a big dumb movie to enjoy. It's just a bunch of nothing that can't sustain the interest.


2 Stranger 3 Things


Three more episodes, and we are out!

We start off with more Eleven plot... and this feels so incidental. I have no idea if there is going to be a third season or not (probably), and if so this feels like a set up for a third season story, but that leaves it not really part of this season.

Then we get basically a two-parter ending with various groups rushing about and doing things to achieve the end. There's a decent/satisfying mixture of characters and plot points swapping around at the end that I did enjoy it, however...

Last time, I made the observation that it felt like a movie idea that was padded out to eight episodes, and this time it was padded out to nine episodes. Sean Astin and Paul Reisner are good adds for this season.

And just checked, there will a third season, with them wanting a fourth and fifth, so we'll continue to have padded movies for a few more years yet.


2 Stranger 2 Things


Okay, the next three set of episodes.

The menace is built up and we get some actual development of the monster. Well, okay, not actual development of the monster itself, but development of the threat of the monster. After all this, still have no clue where any possible big bad fills in. (It's only because I watch with subtitles on that I know they are shadow creatures.) And Dustin gets to act real dump so the plot can advance.

Which is just one of those really annoying things. Dustin has to act in a clearly stupid way or otherwise sensible results might happen and then bang goes the story. Although the other kids aren't exactly helping a lot either.

And then there is a the other plot around Eleven which is going nowhere so hard I wonder why they even bothered to include her in this.

So while things are happening, and it feels like the story is developing, as we head into the last chunk I'm not feeling that this needed to be nine episodes.


2 Stranger 1 Things


The first season seemed to be immediately popular so of course there is a second. In this season I've seen... three episodes so far of the nine, so let's talk about them.

The theme so far is... introduction. We get some hints about the upcoming plot line for the season, but most of this season seems to be reintroduction. Which helps to a degree because I can't remember most of the characters, but we also get a new one. Or rather two, but the other guy I can never tell from one of the other chaps, and speaking of chaps there are two kids I can't tell the different half the time either.

But anyway, we get a lot of "hey, there are these people from the first season" and... not much else. Yes, there are hints, as I said, but they are really drawing it out and while we have a creature from Evolution just ready to go, but we are so eeking this out that either this is the most boring tease ever, or there is a bigger twist coming. I do hope the later, but even now I'm not sure I'm going to be surprised.

Come on, let's get on with this.


Universal 1939B


Not a monster movie, per se, because man is the real monster all along. It's political thriller time with Tower of London.

Richard the IIIrd has plans on the throne, and we get to see the various machinations he puts into place to get there, with the help of his executioner friend Mord. Lots of people get caught up, and there is more than one battle sequence, but he's a bastard to wins... for a while.

Okay, this isn't Shakespeare (and there's a set of movies/plays I should get into sometime), and while it isn't really my thing, and not usual Universal fare, I kept with it. As Richard III is Basin Rathbone (so not the standard hunchback either), Karloff is Mord, and some new guy named Vincent Price is Duke of Clarence, I wonder if he'll move on to do anything interesting?

While taking a break from straight monster movie is a thing, hopefully we won't get this too often.


Red Dwaf XII.III


Well, I can see what they were going for. However...

After five minutes of driving a terrible joke into the ground, the crew encounters a ship on which criticism is forbidden. Of course they can't keep their lips shut, so are stuck right in it. And guess what gets them out?

So yes, the episode does nearly have a point about criticism doesn't always help. Then makes the point of "#notallcriticism". Then throws that all away for the gags. And because we don't have any criticism allowed, we get a man in a dress and other men in pink outfits, and aren't we supposed to laugh at that?

There is a good bit of make up for Chris Barrie, but otherwise most of the choices of this episode is just weird.

Again it feels like a familiar retread of old ideas, but just done badly. Halfway through the series and the score is 1/3.


Happpy Death Dayy


The main gimmick of this movie is that the lead dies and then comes back to life at the start of the day. Sound familiar? A bit. They even lampshade Groundhog Day at the end. But you know what? This is no Groundhog Day.

So yeah, the woman Tree wakes up in a guy's dorm room, goes about her business, then is killed. This keeps happening. What makes it worse is that it's her birthday. She struggles to find out who is killing her by... failing to not get killed. But at least she works it out. Or did she?

This is a stupid, stupid movie. And not a good stupid. This is a bad stupid. An angering stupid. She stays on campus and gets killed so she... stays on campus. Hello? First thing to do would be to go far, far away. And why is this happening? I'm going to reveal that... this isn't revealed, because the director wants to do that in the sequel. Sequel? This shouldn't have gotted a first movie!

This is just bad and stupid. Some might be able to enjoy how stupid it is, but it just made me mad.




So, the latest Dan Brown, let's talk about it.

It starts off with a Prologue that announces that Science has disproved all religions. Oh, so that's going to go down well. And we spend the entire of the book teasing what that revelation is (because that's how Dan Brown works). But here's the thing... it's not that exciting. The revelations aren't going to surprise anyone, and it certainly isn't worth the build up of the book to get there.

Although there isn't much build up either. Langdon spends time wandering around trying to find the next set piece. And there isn't much treat from the villain of the piece either. Instead we get tons of flashbacks to how he got there, but not really much in the way of credible danger.

Frankly, this is, as Dan Brown books go, this is one of the most boring/worst.


Universal 1939A


Suddenly, after two years, we jump up to a 100 minute movie. Wasn't expecting that, but we would be getting there anyway. And we do it with Son of Frankenstein.

Rather than "everyone survived!" we have it that the son of the original Frankenstein turns up at his old castle because... because. But, speaking of everyone survived, Ygor is still around, and he has the monster nearby. Wolf (the son) is taken with the monster, and decides to get it up and running, and then, surprise surprise, terror and death is unleashed! And there's no way the monster survives this one!

Basil Rathbone is the titular son, and he plays it while accompanied by a pencil thin mustache that wouldn't notice most of the time. Bela and Boris are around as Ygor and the Monster... but I didn't even suspect it was Bela as Ygor, so well does he play the role. Lionel Atwill is the inspector with a fake arm that would, in any other movie, be played for laughs but is played with sincerity here. And Donnie Dunagan is a classic example of a child actor.

There is quite a slow development here, and the performances do carry the movie through. I hope this level of characterisation keeps up.


Red Dwaf XII.II


It's a Kryten episode! Woo! And... it isn't terrible!

The short version: Kryten and the crew get grabbed by a ship of mechanoids (of the Mechanoid Integration Liberation Front...), and while Kryten is freed, the others are made to pay for making Kryten a slave.

Even the jokes in this episode are less overstated. Chris Barrie gets to put on a better performance, and show off his vocal range a bit more. While this does feel a little like a gimmick episode ("what if we made everyone this?"), it mostly works.

However, the ending falls over really badly. Like "hey, we've only got a minute to go and need to hit the reset switch" badly.

Outside of that, a thumbs up episode.


Rade Blunner 24013232894


I haven't seen the original in a long time, so went in very little knowledge (frankly, I remember Daryl Hannah, and Rutger Hauer..and there was some other chap there?). But since I was willing to test my bladder, I went in, spent too much, and saw this one.

K is a cop that hunts Replicants... and finds out there was something that Replicants shouldn't have been able to do. And since I haven't seen the trailer, I'm not going to reveal anything more. Suffice to say there are some leads where you think 'we are supposed to think this' and I wasn't sure if I was supposed to think that because that's what it was, or we were supposed to think that because then it could be turned around.

But, howie, it's long. That's my main take away. There are some long lingering shots. Very well shot, and some great work on sets and the like, but wowie there were many, many pauses in the speeching. Now, you can say I've been ruined by watching on double speed (pauses for you to say that), but I can still appreciate a well timed scene.  This just felt like the director had pauses to show off that he could have pauses.

Still, it is a nice looking film. I'm not entirely sure of what below the surface thoughts I was supposed to have, but no doubt someone is just itching to point out all the bits I've missed (and put them up in video in "Here's what you missed in BR2049!")

Oh, acting-wise, Ryan did a good job of now showing emotions. And Harrison did a good job of nearly looking awake. Grammys for all!


Universal 1937


Wait a minute... this isn't a monster movie! But it does have Boris Karloff? And it is... Night Key.

David Mallory invents a new detection system, which is an improvement on the previous system he made. However, Ranger basically stole his old idea for his own profit (store protection via electronic circuits) and buys David's new idea (breaking light beam) but plans to sit on it. David is incensed by this, and goes on a spree... breaking into Ranger protected stores and moving the merchandise around, signing Night Key. However, crooks get their hands on the device and David must do what he can, with his daughter in danger.

While not a monster movie, it is a great crime movie. This is rather more light hearted fare too, and... I really enjoyed this. Boris Karloff gives a great performance and Jean Rogers is... so dreamy!

I hope there are more like this to come. While I like the monsters, it's nice to have this to break it up.


Red Dwaf XII.I


Season 12, and we now have as many seasons without Rob Grant as with, and it just hasn't been the same since he left.

After poker shenanigans (which involves laughter after each and every line), we get to the space station with the bulk of the plot, meeting various evil people who have now been cured: Joseph Stalin, Messilina, Vlad the Impaler, and, of course, Adolf Hitler. We spend most of the time with Adolf, because he is the campiest one, and even have an overlong guitar jamming session between him and Lister (who can play?). But of course it goes badly so someone is still evil. And... it's the one you expect.

They go really heavy on the jokes, and... well, over load them into the story. This reminded me a lot of the Waxworld story in which we have an excuse to meet various famous people from history and have fun with them.

Not a great start to the season, but I've seen worse episodes. And will I see more of them?


TELOS: The Dalek Factor


This is it. The big story to wrap everything up. Simon Clark writes the last novella, although it is the longest and at what point is “novella” not even applicable any more?

While giving nothing away, this features Daleks. Well, sort of. It’s about Thals who are hunting Daleks and are possibly finding them on this planet. However, one things after another happens, and along the way they come across a mysterious figure who seems to know a lot, but can’t remember, but call him Professor. The whole thing is mysterious, but eventually we find out what’s really going on and… that doesn’t make it better.

Okay, confession time? I didn’t really find the Daleks scary. Not on screen. Now, I have seen them (as a prop) up close and moving around during the music show, so they can have presence. But not on screen. And certainly not in a book which is really trying to set them up as the ultimate evil… but casually kills them with one shot. Not much of a threat then?

And then Simon is trying to something different with the Doctor (which Doctor is it?), and slowly has him get with what the audience already immediately realise (frankly, and this is not a spoiler, I would have been far more impressed if he is revealed to be the Master).

Yeah, I can’t really be surprised this series was cancelled.


Universal 1936


It's the return of... no wait, no it's not! A villain we thought dead actually remains dead! (For now at this.) This is in fact about Dracula's Daughter.

With Dracula dead, perhaps his daughter might have a chance to turn her life around. While she reaches out to Jeffrey Garth, he is distracted by other matters, and she can't help herself. Garth slowly manages to put things together, and maybe, just maybe, the threat of the vampires can't be dismissed that easily. A final pursuit leads back to Transylvania, and the final scene doesn't play out as you'd expect.

Gloria Holden gives a rather commanding performance as Countess Marya Zaleska (Dracula's Daughter) (hey, credits, spoilers!). Otto Kruger is Garth, and is quite believable. Others are on screen and are not complete inept comic relief as per some other movies I've seen.

This takes the idea of a sequel quite seriously, but of course there can't be any other kin of Dracula lying about.


Batmanning 66.3


This is it, season 3, the last season. And the final words are "What happened to Batgirl?" "Who knows? Who ever knows?" [And trivia, the final villain is Zsa Zsa Gabor as Minerva.]

So, speaking of Batgirl... we have Batgirl now! And she is clearly an addition to the series, made painfully obvious in the opening titles which have two slides of sudden Batgirl moments. She even has an amazingly stupid theme. (And this is nothing on Yvonne Craig, who is... I think restrained heavily into her outfit?) But so often we get huge slabs of time spent with Batgirl that you begin to wonder who's series this is.

But talking of the series, they do something extremely different. At the end of each two parter, they have a brief teasing scene of the next villain, either a specially shot moment, or (more often) a clip from the next episode. And yet despite being told 'this villain is around' they are always surprised in the next episode when that villain turns up.

We also take a special three parter set in Londinium where the good guys help out venerable Ireland Yard... I see what they did there! Compare with the most sexist episode pair ever as Nora Clavicle ousts Commissioner Gordon and replaces all the staff with women, which every man (and even Barbara) despairs over. The hell?

However, that's it. (Aside from the movies.) I don't care that these are camp, I enjoyed them... but I doubt I'll be watching them back to back again like this any time soon...


The Over du Change


A New Zealand film? Based on a Margaret Mahy novel? Okay, I'll give this a go.

A school girl, Laura, has to look after her younger brother while her mother works (and her father isn't around). She gets warnings and feels that Jacko will be in trouble. Certainly they meet a creepy man, but he likes Jacko a lot. But then bad things start to happen, and only she can do something about it.

This has a lot of a feel of an abbreviated adventure about it. I do wonder how much extra the book had? Because there is a lot of "conveniently, this happens", where Laura just so happens to find the local witches and just so happens to do the right things at the right time and... yeah. It's only 90 minutes, so it feels like there is more that could have been done.

This movie is the introduction of Erana James as Laura, and she carries the movie well. Although Lucy Lawless gets a higher billing, she isn't more than a cameo. But we do get a really creepy performance from Timothy Spall. And Nicholas Galitzine seems to be channeling Robert Patterson.

Overall, this is a very YA take on a YA adventure.


TELOS: Blood and Hope


Finally we have a Fifth Doctor novel! But because this is Iain McLaughlin, we are in fact tying in with his Big Finish audios and have Peri and Erimem.

The Doctor and crew land in the American Civil War, and immediately they are split up with the Doctor ending up with the Union and Peri and Erimem with the Confederate. Where Erimem is seen as non-white and thus is a slave/property. Iain mixes Peri’s story with letters from soldiers to explain the setting and detail the Doctor’s side of the story. Of course nothing is simple as they try to get together, and Peri in particular has quite a struggle.

I was reminded a lot of the Rebel’s Gamble, the choose your own adventure where the Doctor and Peri are in the American Civil War (although the Sixth Doctor, natch). That aside, Iain does get into detail with some of the war events and it is not presented in any way that promotes it as a glorious battle.

A decent story, but I would have liked more Doctor in it.


Universal 1935C


What? No Karloff? No Lugosi? Are they allowed to make movies without them? This astounding possibility is Werewolf of London.

Would you believe it? You are out in the mountains in Asia and just so happen to get bitten by a werewolf. What are the odds? But back in London, Dr Glendon is looking into various things, but is told about a special flower that can put off Lycanthropism. Unfortunately, not for long enough, and soon he is back to attacking people by moon light while in a wolf form. People still insist on having parties and such, but eventually he is tracked down and told he's a bad dog.

When you talk werewolf, you need to talk effects. But first let's talk plants. There's a scene where people are wandering around a display and we see a not at all felt Venus Fly Trap closing on a perfectly stationary fly. And then there's the large plant that isn't folded material that eats a frog. While these are good, it is really obvious what they are.

So onto the werewolf make up. There is one transformation scene where whenever Glendon passes behind a pillar, he transforms more. That's really good. And then there's the classic locked off camera with mix from one transformation to another, and while you can spot it... what the hell, these are good effects. We aren't going to be winning Face Off any time soon, but I'm gonna buy it.

Not a bad movie, but the bulk of it is just repeating stalking and attacks, so it can't hold attention that way.


Batmanning 66.2


Season 2 is quite impressive in that there are a TON of episodes. Like two actual seasons worth.

What we get is largely the same though, in that they are two episodes with campy guest villain of the day. What is interesting is the odd extra bit.

Like the wall crawling guest spots. Did you know what Batman is in the same universe as Lurch from Addam's Family? (And that Lurch actually talks!) And that Batman knows Colonel Klink and Colonel Hogan.

And after establishing around with "Same Bat-time!", they start playing it up with things like "Same Cat-time!"

We also get a three parter episode, with two exciting cliffhangers as Joker and Penguin. And yes there is the special episode with the Green Hornet and Kano cross over (this is after previously having a Green Hornet related wall crawling cameo).

We also get a hint or two that Commissioner Gordon has a daughter named Barbara...