Doctor… Who? Spoilers, Sweetie.

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It was that time of year again. Late Christmas evening, the family sit down and wait for the familiar sound of a TARDIS materialising on the TV. We’ve had Sycorax, flying Titanic replicas, flying sharks, living snowmen… this year we have… all the monsters from Matt Smith’s era!

Sound familiar? *cough* Pandorica *cough*

Except the millions of aliens flying overhead didn’t seem to be the real enemy here. Time itself did. Matt Smith aged considerably over the episode as he protected one small town called Christmas (though why the TARDIS couldn’t have gone back in time and retrieved him earlier, I don’t know).

So when Doctor Who returns with Series eight, will these monsters even scare us anymore? The weeping angels (one of two Doctor Who aliens that I actually find scary) made a small appearance to grab Clara’s ankle, and then they left for the rest of the episode with no explanation.

The Silence and Cybermen’s roles were also unimportant – the only real threat were (as always) the Daleks. After all, the Time War only had the two races – why were the other aliens even relevant? As soon as the Daleks were defeated, everything else vanished. They were there to make up the numbers and play a part in the ‘This is Your Life’ episode of Matt Smith. They had so much more potential.

Clara spoke to the crack in the wall we thought was finished with in series five, which conveniently returned for the Time Lords to talk through. She gave them a good talking to, so that they could send the Doctor some magic regeneration dust… just as the Daleks decided to attack (after hundreds of years of patiently waiting for the Doctor to just die of old age).

Matt Smith blasted the Dalek ships out of the sky with his regeneration energy. It looked like he was about to get his new face.

After the explosions, Clara returned apprehensively to the TARDIS, and we all held our breath for the first appearance of…

Matt Smith. Back to his young, cosmetic-less self. We were confused, but then surely it was just Capaldi using the hologram machine from the beginning of the episode?

But no. He hadn’t regenerated yet. It was “taking longer than usual.” There was a little more reminiscing about previous Matt Smith episodes, and then he discarded his bow tie. Thanks for the extra kick in the feels, Moffat!

But as sad as the scene was, it was ruined by the abrupt (and I mean VERY abrupt) regeneration. One minute Matt was stood there, the next it was Capaldi.

His first line was something like, “I have new kidneys!” This reminded me all too much of Tennant’s “new teeth… that’s weird,” and Smith’s “Legs! I’ve still got legs!” Was the recycling of old lines intentional or has Moffat just run out of new material?

So overall I think it’s clear I was extremely disappointed with The Time Of The Doctor. Nothing truly interesting happened; it was a way of explaining why the Doctor has more than thirteen regenerations, and to say goodbye to Matt. A few of Matt’s lines and mannerisms made me chuckle as usual, but nothing spectacular. If anything, the only good part I remember is Matt Smith being naked. But that’s just personal preference.

The Hunger Games: Rampaging Rafikis

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SPOILER ALERTS! (Though you should have read the books already… so it’s your own fault).

So after a slight mishap of reading the wrong cinema times that had nothing to do with me (honest!), we finally sat down to watch Catching Fire. It begins with a montage of forest images, and then goes straight to Katniss in the woods with Gale. I found this scene a bit of a drab beginning… it seemed pointless, and going straight into the action would have been much better.

In fact the entire beginning was quite boring, so much so that I can’t remember much of it. Until they shot the man in District 11. Then things started to get interesting.mockingjay-pin-300x298

The film captured the adrenaline and fear and fire of the uprising perfectly. They did it quite subtly; the scribbled messages and symbols, the secret videos of fighting and massacres… it really gave a feel of a suppressed nation. And the Peacekeepers had a feeling of ruthlessness about them; killing anyone who happened to show the slightest sign of rebellion. We felt along with Katniss the guilt and sorrow she must feel.

The sexual involvement with Gale was overdramatised. I don’t remember her kissing him as much in the book as she did in the film… but the way she kissed both of them didn’t make her look good. She was like every other generic 21st Century heroine – caught in a love triangle (or pentagon in some cases *cough True Blood cough.*

After Gale is publicly whipped and his back is mended by Prim, a television appearance from Snow announces the Quarter Quell; the 75th anniversary of the Hunger Games. This year,  the previous 24 victors will return to the arena. Katniss, her mother, Haymitch and Peeta’s expressions were perfect in this scene. They all reacted exactly how they should, and it brought tears to the eyes. Again, at the Reaping, it is painfully sad to watch (despite the humour of Effy Trinket pulling one piece of paper out of an otherwise empty jar).

Effy herself was a lot more likeable in this film. Her dresses are wackier (and there’s more in her wardrobe than Katniss’), but she’s also a bit less ditsy. Haymitch is his usual drunken self, as the books dictate he should be. Some of his quips about alcohol, and drug induced victors are great, and they light the darkness of the story. For instance, in the moment when Peter announces, “we’re expecting a baby,” Haymitch raises his hip flask to him in the audience.

Unfortunately, as I was watching, I remembered the events that were about to happen from the book. I haven’t read it in well over a year, and Cinna’s death came back to me just before the unveiling of the dress. The reveal of the mockingjay dress was beautiful, and his composure, his knowledge of his own self-condemnation was heart-breaking.

However, when it came to the actual scene, it was a bit of a let-down. When his face hit the glass, I was expecting a really gory scene; enough blood and screams to REALLY upset Katniss, but he just sort of lay there whilst they kicked him and then dragged him off with a little bit of blood round his mouth. I don’t think they did that scene justice.

But one thing they did get right was the arena. It was almost exactly as I pictured it; with the obscure clock face and the different, deadly things in each section. The mist was horrible – they blistered to the touch. The monkeys were genuinely terrifying; so much so that half the cinema jumped when one screeched. I never thought I was scared of monkeys. Suddenly I never want to be near one.

Anyway, away from the monkeys.

The casting was spot on. “Nuts” and “Volts” (or Beetee and Wiress) were awesome, but Johanna Mason was by far the best. It was good to have someone who wasn’t compliant to the rules of the Capital, but genuinely angry and a bit of a loose cannon. Jena Malone portrayed her well, and I found myself liking her more in the film than I did in the book.

Finnick’s relationship with Mags is also lovely. Just the image of this young (and rather good looking) man carrying a tiny old woman on his back was so sweet, and it made it all the more depressing  when she disappeared into the mist to save Peeta. You could tell she meant an awful lot to Finnick.

The ending was a bit anti-climatic after the big lightning drama and everything falling apart around Katniss. It was an eerily beautiful scene, and I think it would have been better to leave it there… especially when they’re making Mockingjay into a two parter (like every other move franchise is currently doing). But Jennifer Lawrence’s facial expressions say a lot about Katniss’ emotions at the very end of the film.

So overall, I’d give The Hunger Games: Catching Fire a 7/10. It was good, a bit boring to start with but as the action kicked in, it was gripping. They missed next to nothing from the book which is a rare circumstance in film these days (though it may have had something to do with Suzanne Collins being on the production team). I’d definitely recommend going to see it… and reading the books if you haven’t already!!