Doctor Who Series 8 Review – “The Caretaker” (Writers: Gareth Roberts and Steven Moffat)

Last year saw the fiftieth anniversary story for “Doctor Who” start with Clara having a teaching job at the place where the “legend” began, Coal Hill School. Somewhat belatedly, the Doctor made his return to the school following his previous adventure at this school (more on this later) as he took on the role of John Smith, the new caretaker.

The Doctor pretending to be human is nothing new. After all, Gareth Roberts has done this take on the lead character twice before with “The Lodger” and “Closing Time”. However, despite the threats of a Silent time craft or the Cybermen, these two stories were, for want of a better phrase, cute and fluffy – and this is not a criticism of those stories. They suited the more comedically alien incarnation that Matt Smith portrayed. But with a new Doctor comes a fresh take on the “Doctor pretends to be human” story which whilst still maintaining the humorous tone of the previous two stories is as spiky as the lead.

The main story follows the Doctor as he goes undercover on a “thing” to track down and stop a one robot artillery called a Skovox Blitzer. Apparently, the Blitzer has been attracted to Artron energy, which the Doctor admits (in a roundabout way) could be down to the Doctor’s previous travels to this location (in “An Unearthly Child” (1963) and “Remembrance Of The Daleks” (1988)). Amongst this, the Doctor must impersonate a human, whilst preventing Clara and fellow teacher, and her boyfriend, Danny Pink from getting in the way of his plan. However, I have to admit that the Doctor chasing around an alien war machine wasn’t the most interesting aspect – firstly, because… well, I have to admit that the Blitzer looked a bit naff as an adversary. It looked like something from the classic series rather than what we’ve been used to since 2005. The second was that the sub-plots were more interesting as a storyline.

There are two sub-stories which bounce in and out of this plot. The first is Clara’s trouble with keeping her “Coal Hill Life” and “Doctor Life” separate due to her controlling behaviour, which is harder for her than the Ponds, for example, who unashamedly revelled in the “Doctor Life” whilst he popped in and out of their lives. The second is that a new person has pushed her way in to the Doctor’s life in Courtney Woods – the school’s disruptive, formerly very disruptive influence.

The humour from this script comes from the fact that the very fact that right from the outset, the Doctor can’t impersonate a human. Yes, he looks like one and sounds like one, but from the moment he greets himself as “John Smith”, you can see through Peter Capaldi’s performance that the Doctor can’t be a human for the same reason that he can’t be a caretaker (even though he has taken on this role in “The Doctor, The Widow And The Wardrobe) – “Twelve” is a great big show off.

Why do I say a “show off“? Well, this comes through in both the humourous and serious sides of this script. An example of the humourous nature of his showing off is when he gatecrashes Clara’s lesson on “Pride and Prejudice” and tells her in front of the class that she’s wrong because he’s read the notes to the book. An example of the more serious showing off is in the scene when Danny uses the invisibility watch to hide on the TARDIS. The Doctor shows off that he can detect an invisibility field due to his nature as a Time Lord. However, this attempt at showing off backfires on the Doctor once Danny uses his past as a soldier to serve as an uncomfortable reminder of his actions as the “War Doctor”, in particular that Danny is the type of person to rescue people whilst the Doctor is the person who causes the problem in the first place – an uncomfortable to parallel to the War Doctor’s message that great men are forged in fire whilst lesser men serve to light the flame. How many “Danny’s” were there in the Time War to make the Doctor this uncomfortable?

In fact, whilst Clara is the hub of this particular sub-plot in the story, it’s the Doctor’s encounter with Danny that makes it interesting. Danny is, understandably, a little out of depth with the Doctor and Clara’s relationship. Of course, he’s going to be suspicious of the Doctor’s use of alien tech (the Chronodyne Generators) to defend the school and it’s natural that Danny would want to protect the school both from the Blitzer and from the Doctor, but whilst he’s out of his depth, you can see that Danny genuinely cares about Clara. Whilst the shock that Samuel Anderson portrays in the scene when he first meets the Doctor attract comparisons with Mickey’s behaviour at the end of “Rose”, Danny’s protective nature throughout is more in tune with Rory than Mickey along with his “Alpha Male” attitude as far as where Clara’s concerned.

The Doctor also displays an “Alpha Male” attitude where Clara is concerned and this brings out some qualities that, I have to admit, I’m uncomfortable with. Yes, he’s vain enough to think that Adrian is Clara’s boyfriend rather than Danny and there is a sweet smile of recollection as though he thinking to himself “That was was Clara and I at one time”, but it brings out an ugly side to his character. You get the high handed arrogance of the Time Lord within the Doctor, something that has been pretty well hidden in the modern era of Who, except for “The Time Lord Victorious”. He protests that he doesn’t want to be saluted or spoken of as “Sir” by Danny, but he treats Danny as somebody who requires his approval to be Clara’s boyfriend and as a bit stupid and, with that, he condemns humans as being stupid and boring with an element of contempt, which reminded me of Christopher Eccleston‘s interpretation of the Doctor.

But Danny is far from stupid or simply the former soldier that the Doctor despises. It’s Danny’s bravery that saves Clara and the Doctor when the plan to use her as bait to lure the Blitzer goes wrong, and it’s his emotional intelligence that works out that the Doctor is angry because he’s testing Danny to ensure that Clara is safe with him. Danny also parallels Rory significantly when he says that the Doctor behaves like an officer in the army by pushing his companion to please him, something that Rory accuses the Doctor of in “Vampires of Venice” when he states that the companions want to go through danger just to please the Doctor.

The only person, in this story, that the Doctor does seem impressed with is Courtney and that’s because she openly says that she’s a disruptive influence. Who better to impress the Doctor, the universe’s biggest disruptive influence? She has a curiosity that matches that of the Doctor, she challenges authority and she displays little fear when she realises the Doctor’s true nature as an alien being. Okay, she may end up with a little time sickness on her journey into space at the end of the episode, but even if it’s not Courtney who joins him at some point as a permanent fixture, you can see the start of the Doctor thinking of “life after Clara”.

At the end of the story, we have the coda to the Nethersphere/Promised Land as the PCSO who was killed by the Blitzer at the start of the story meets Missy’s assistant, with Missy herself in the background. I have heard one theory as to Missy’s true nature and it’ll be interesting to see if this pans out at the end of the story.
Casting wise, this, like most of the stories for Series 8, have been pretty intimate affairs with Ellis George being the guest star of note in the role of Courtney.

At the start of the story, Ellis gives Courtney a gobby and cheeky attitude with all her “Love to the Squaddie” references to Clara. As the story progresses, it’s her scenes with Peter Capaldi which really shine through with her verbal sparring making her worthy of the “Potential Companion” tag.
The regulars are also on form in this episode.

Peter Capaldi himself is definitely hitting his stride in the role of the Doctor. Granted, his Doctor is a bit of a shock to the system in comparison to the more “companion friendly” Doctors as of late. There is a sense in Capaldi’s portrayal that, on the one hand he’s steeling himself for letting go of Clara – something that’s been building as far back as “Deep Breath”, but on the other, he is reluctant to let her go and behaves in a possessive manner – such as in the scene when they first encounter the Blitzer when he says that Clara needs to explain her relationship with Danny to him. He also gives the Doctor an air of behaving in a morally superior way which borders on pompous, more alien and wanting a “hands off” relationship to people other than Clara. Bringing these things together and you end up with a character that is an uncomfortable and unsettling shift from the Doctor that people may be aware of since 2005. However, there are light touches in his portrayal which acts as a counterbalance including his bursting in on Clara’s English lesson, his bantering Courtney and I loved the reference to Pink Floyd’s “Another Brick In The Wall” when Clara told the boys off for playing football on the outdoor chess area.

Jenna Coleman turns in another great performance in the role of Clara. The character likes to be in control of the two worlds in which she exists, so it’s great to see how the Doctor’s world pushes into her day to day existence and how she, unsuccessfully, tries to minimise the damage of this intrusion which includes trying to the put the Doctor in his place when he interferes in her English lesson and coming up with an unconvincing cover story when Danny first meets the Doctor as he truly is.

Samuel Anderson is also excellent in this episode as Danny. He informs the audience more of who Danny truly is. Yes, on the surface the character, Danny could be your typical male companion-figure, given the chance, with Clara treating him as a bit of an idiot in the aforementioned scene when she tries to explain the Skovox Blitzer as a Summer Fair play. Underneath though, Danny is a man who believes in honesty – whether it’s him sticking it to the Doctor in the TARDIS when he challenges him on his attitude or making a request to Clara for a relationship built upon honesty. There are still layers in the character to be explored, specifically his reasons for leaving the Army, and I hope these layers pulled away by the time Series 8 ends.
Messrs. Roberts and Moffat have served up and episode which works on two levels. It serves as a part-comedic/part-serious examination of the leading man and how his actions impact upon his companion and the people who his adventures encounter (something that Steven Moffat promised prior to the series commencing). It also serves as an ominous portent that as the series continues, we may be seeing a change occurring in the Doctor/Clara friendship – whether it be a parting of the ways or a change of emphasis.

The Maze runner by James Dashner, a book review.

Hi my hot cute girly geeks and boy geeks of course. I’ve been meaning to get back to book reviewing, but somehow it didn’t work out. So as soon as Tekira mentioned to me she wanted to do the film review of the Maze Runner and I just happened to finish reading that book I decided to give you the book review. Remember, you may find spoilers ahead.

maze runner

Synopsis according to Goodreads:

“If you ain’t scared, you ain’t human.”

When Thomas wakes up in the lift, the only thing he can remember is his name. He is surrounded by strangers – boys whose memories are also gone.

“Nice to meet ya, shank. Welcome to the Glade.”

Outside the towering stone walls that surround the Glade is a limitless, ever-changing maze. It’s the only way out – and no one’s ever made it through alive.

“Everything is going to change.”

Then a girl arrives. The first girl ever. And the message she delivers is terrifying.

REMEMBER. SURVIVE. RUN.

 

My thoughts:

I liked the book, but not loved it. The fact that I began reading it months ago, put it away and picked it back up again says it all. And to be fair. The only reason I wanted to read it, is because I hate seeing films before I had a chance to read the book. (Come on, books are always better than the movie!) That, and the fact that my puppy (a.k.a Stiles from Teen Wolf, a.k.a. Dylan O’Brien) (and yes I know he’s not a werewolf in TW, but humour me.) was going to play the main lead in the film made it more interesting for me to pick it up in the first place.

I have a bit of mixed feelings about the current YA dystopian uprising. I like dystopian stories, post-apocalyptic worlds and such, but they are all the same. Whether you’re reading the Hunger Games books, the Divergent series or in this case the Maze Runner, it all has the same feeling and flavour to it.

Also, I expected a great deal more about the maze, it sounds really intriguing but we just see a bits and pieces and like the film, where isn’t a lot explanation about things or really graphic descriptions about the maze, monsters and such.

I think the story is a good one, but overall and especially towards the end it really feels rushed, as if the author was trying to get all his thoughts about his story to get down on paper. And I think that’s a shame. It really has potential, the overall story arc is great but it feels all too one dimensional for me.

It’s a reason I won’t be picking up the second book in this series. I imagine in the second part of the book we get more explanation about the maze and why and how it was created. Bu I guess I’ll never know and I’m ok with that. This isn’t a book where I need to know what happens next.

I’m sure a lot of people do love the book, and that’s ok. It’s a fun read, for me a something in between, but I don’t feel emotionally involved with the characters, I don’t get sucked into the story eager to know what is happening on the next page.

I do however am still curious to see the film, like I said, my puppy is in it and for me that’s reason enough to check it out. Reading Tekira’s review I think you better still read the book first before watching the film. It seems to get just a bit more background story and explaining.

Have you read the book? Or watched the film? Should I? Let me know in the comments.

Love, your own hot cute girly geek, Mendy

GamerGate: a serious issue regarding the gaming community and feminism

Today there is a dark and serious matter that I want to discuss with you. Although I’d like to refrain from writing about serious political issues here, since this blog is initially aimed at girls (and guys should be aware of this too!) and I write about games, this issue cannot be ignored any longer. To give you a gist of the scale of this matter: on gaming websites, GamerGate is given as much attention as I.S. on regular news. Since this subject is extremely sensitive and complicated, I’ll try to write a brief overview to give you a main idea on this matter. More detailed articles can be found all over the web.

So what is GamerGate? Something like a nipplegate or the iphone 6 bendgate? I’m afraid not. It all started in August of this year. Gaming developer Zoe Quinn released a text-based game about her own fight against depression, called Depression Quest, on Steam. Around that same time, her ex-boyfriend posted a tweet about Quinn cheating on him with 5 other men, including Kotaku journalist Nathan Grayson. This has led to a group of ‘gamers’ becoming outraged; they threatened to rape, attack, and even kill Quinn. Quinn was forced to leave her house. As she stated herself:

“the Internet spent the last month spreading my personal information around, sending me threats, hacking anyone suspected of being friends with me, calling my dad and telling him I’m a whore, sending nude photos of me to colleagues, and basically giving me the ‘burn the witch’ treatment”

#GamerGate was born. Why would this anyone do this? According to the movement itself, there are 2 important reasons. The first is to protect the integrity of game journalism. According to GamerGate, Quinn has slept with Grayson to get good reviews. GamerGate states that game journalists, bloggers and youtubers are too closely affiliated with game developers, resulting in corrupt journalism. The fact is however, that Grayson did never write a review of Quinn’s game.

The second reason is that GamerGate states that they are opposing a ‘anti-gamer’ movement. By the end of August, a great number of news websites stated that the ‘gamer-identity’ no longer exists. With that, they meant that the ‘traditional’ gamer population, that of young white men, is expanding to women, children, elders, and casual gamers. Games as Depression Quest would only promote this expansion. GamerGate sees this as a grave insult to the ‘core gamers’, as according to them, these news website and games are denying their identity.

While hiding behind these 2 ‘noble’ statements, incidents start to pile up. Feminist and game critic Anita Sarkeesian has been making youtube videos about the roles of women in video games and other media for the past few years. Her main point is that women in games are often objectified and that the game industry should focus more on their female audience. Like Quinn, Sarkeesian has to deal with major threats from GamerGate. In fact, she has been threatened far before the birth of GamerGate, but her attackers now have a name.

The most recent case concerns Brianna Wu, developer of Revolution 60 and a vocal opponent of the movement. Last weekend, after Wu retweeted some of her fans making fun of the movement, Wu’s personal information was posted online, including her home address, which lead people to threaten her and her family with acts of violence and rape. She reached out to local police and on their advice she is no longer at her home address. Additionally, Wu may have evidence that her company’s financial accounts are being tampered with and the FBI is investigating.

Does it seem like GamerGate is a movement that stands for integrity of game journalism and defense of the ‘core gamers’? No. GamerGate is a dangerous movement that hates women and wants the gaming industry and audience to be strictly male. As Anita Sarkeesian states:

So yea, a serious subject on a blog about media and entertainment, but an issue that shouldn’t be ignored. I wanted my readers to be aware of this problem. Like I said, this is only an overview on what GamerGate is and this information is not complete. Sadly, this is only a small part of everything that is going on. What is your opinion about this matter? Do you have any negative experiences as a female in a male community? Let me know in the comments.

Anita Sarkeesian’s youtube channel: https://www.youtube.com/user/feministfrequency

The Strain, a series review.

Hi my hot cute girly geeks and boy geeks of course. Today a review about the Strain. And although it’s been going on for several weeks now. I still think it’s worth mentioning as a series you should watch. That is, if you like vampires or strange virus / disease programs. Without further ado and with spoilers I give you my opinion.

the strain

Synopsis according to IMDB:

A Boeing 767 arrives at JFK and is on its way across the tarmac, when it suddenly stops dead. All window shades are pulled down. All lights are out. All communication channels have gone quiet. Crews on the ground are lost for answers, but an alert goes out to the CDC. Dr. Ephraim “Eph” Goodweather, head of their Canary project, a rapid-response team that investigates biological threats, gets the call and boards the plane. What he finds makes his blood run cold.

In a pawnshop in Spanish Harlem, a former professor and survivor of the Holocaust names Abraham Setrakian knows something is happening. And he knows the time has come, that a war is brewing.

So begins a battle of mammoth proportions as the vampiric virus that has infected New York begins to spill out into the streets. Eph, who is joined by Setrakian and a motley crew of fighters, must now find a way to stop the contagion and save the city – a city that includes his wife and son – before it’s too late.    

My thoughts:

First of all, let me state that this isn’t the best vampire series out there, or viral series for that matter. However, when something comes along about vampires, I am bound to check it out and I am a sucker for vampire series and films who give a different outtake to the ‘original’ vampire myth (sparkling not included).  Although it did remind me a bit of Blade II

I love the fact that they see vampirism as a virus and the vampires actually turn into some sort of zombies. Well, vampires are after all undead, and if you read the Anita Blake novels, you know they respond to her necromancy.

Going back to the Strain. It is sometimes gory, which you must love. Me? I love the old-fashioned hack and slash movies, so blood and gore is cool with me. It has an interesting backstory about the main vampire or I think first vampire? And the fact that they do keep a bit of the old rules (with a twist) in tact is great.

What or who I don’t like is the main vampire. I mean, at first we don’t get to see the main vampire, or just his form and some tattered clothes/drapes whatever. As the series progresses you do get to see the vampire full frontal and it is really disappointing. The prosthetics are terrible and he looks like he took a trip to many to a Botox clinic.

It does have a bit of comic relief in it, which sometimes feels really misplaced for a ‘scary’ program, but it isn’t distracting. The characters sometimes feel over the top, as I said, not the best series out there. But for some reason I am drawn to it and I keep watching every episode in a weekly basis.

Oh and I almost forgot to mention it. Sean Astin, everyone’s favourite Hobbit Samwise Gamgee plays a part as well!

Have you seen it? What did you think? Let me know in the comments!

Love, your own hot cute girly geek Mendy.

Doctor Who Series 8 Review – “Time Heist” (Writers: Stephen Thompson and Steven Moffat)

It’s strange experience when you have an expectation of an episode of a television programme only for it to be something totally different.  “Time Heist” is one of those episodes as the pre-publicity sold it as “Doctor Who meets Ocean’s 11″… or in this case “Doctor’s 4″.  What we got instead was a fascinating episode which uses the time travel premise of Doctor Who’s remit and a reminder of who the Doctor actually is, and I don’t just mean the grumpy old man of Time and Space.

 

The episode starts unusually with an apparent domestic beginning with the Doctor and Clara bantering about her latest date, only for it to cut to the story proper thanks with our heroes, along with two apparent criminals – Psi and Saibra, being informed that they have had their minds wiped (Psi – an augmented human who can download information directly into his brain wiping it – through the use of technology, whilst Saibra – a woman who has the ability to change her form to match other organic lifeforms, the Doctor and Clara uses Memory Worms (last seen in the 2012 Christmas Special “The Snowmen”) to wipe their respective memories.

Under threat of having their mind wiped by the mysterious Teller, a being who can sense guilt, the foursome break into the Bank of Karabraxos on the instructions of the mysterious “Architect” for items that the Architect knows that they all want.

Whilst the “Heist” itself is a clever plot as we, along with the Doctor and his team, are guided along by the Architect’s plan using their abilities such as Saibra’s genetic morphing condition, Psi’s ability to download information and personalities into his brain, Clara’s humanity and the Doctor’s ability to use information and build plans “on the hoof”, until we find out why they all volunteered to rob the bank, who the mysterious Director Karabraxos is and whether they will all survive unscathed, this is a deceptively cleverer story than the “wibbly wobbly timey wimey” premise than even the Doctor realises as he breaks into the vault.

As we see the Architect’s plan play out – and through the episode as a whole, we are treated to a character study of who the Doctor is – both on the surface and underneath.  Some of it is very much the Doctor that we know – the man who champions the underdog (when he realises why he has been given this bank job, thanks to his memory being restored by the Teller), the man who wants days where “everybody lives” (through his use of the “Shredders” that are actually teleporters) and, despite apparent evidence to the contrary (namely Psi’s reaction), that the Doctor gives a damn about people – especially his reaction to Saibra’s apparent death by “Shredder” once the Teller locks on to her guilt.  He also carries some of the Doctor’s flirty nature where Clara is concerned at the end of the episode when he challenges Clara to top robbing a bank for a date.

He also shows the darker aspects of his character – not only as the Doctor, but when it is finally revealed that he is the “Architect”.  He is a clever tactician, very much in the mould of the Seventh Doctor portrayed by Sylvester McCoy, maneuvering himself and his team (unwittingly due to his mindwipe) to succeed in the mission by laying breadcrumbs along the way.  “Twelve” definitely has a Game Face which makes him unreadable and cold not only to the opposition but to his friends as well.  This comes to the fore when Psi confronts the Doctor on the selection of his title.  Rather than the man who makes people better, this is a man who has his armour on show.  None of the touchy-feely stuff for this Doctor.  Doctors Nine, Ten and Eleven have all been accused of being the man who can’t look back because of the damage he does.  Messrs. Thompson, Moffat and Capaldi bring together a Doctor where you can genuinely believe that he has to keep his emotions buttoned up and bulletproof.

But the most telling aspect of this Doctor is that even though he has to be this darker, more confrontational and more strategic persona, he hates it.  Why?  It comes in two passages – the first when Saibra tells the Doctor about the fact that she can tell that the Doctor is lying because she can see it in the way he behaves due to her knowledge of people and the second when he states that he hates the game playing, controlling, callous and ego-maniacal behaviour displayed  the Architect.  He’s guessed that it’s he who has set all this up the plan, but he waits for the evidence of the Teller’s mind scan to confirm it – but even so, he knows that he hates the Architect who came up with this plan and it’ll be interesting to see how this progresses as the series moves on.

 

The direction by Douglas Mackinnon is, yet again, top notch with jump cuts and scene changes moving at a rapid pace appropriate to the script.

 

For such a grandiose plot, the main cast is very small and intimate, making for a great character study.

Keeley Hawes creates a clever “villain” in the twin roles of Ms. Delphox and Director Karabraxos.  Delphox/Karabraxos counterpoints the Doctor’s deceptive nature with a character who has to be totally truthful because Delphox can’t lie to Karabraxos – the very reason that she uses clones.  But, it’s wrong to call Delphox and Karabraxos as true villain.  They both simply wish to maintain the security of the bank, whilst Karabraxos has some level of decency within her by, in effect, arranging for the Doctor to plan a robbery so that he can release the Teller’s mate along with the Neophyte Circuit to restore Psi’s memory and the Gene Suppressant for Saibra.  It’s to Ms. Hawes’ credit that, despite these revelations, she can still make the characters cold hearted enough to make them both unlikeable.

Jonathan Bailey and Pippa Bennett-Warner are great in the roles of Psi and Saibra respectively.  It’s a mark of their acting ability, along with the script, that they make these two thieves sympathetic to the audience.  Both characters carry some level of damage in their wake with Psi losing the memories of his loved ones whilst Saibra cannot make physical contact.  It’s little wonder that the Doctor wants to include them in his band of robbers as they are reflections of him.  On the inside, he is Psi, a man who has to make the choice to forget loved ones whilst, on the outside, he is Saibra in that he knows that he can’t allow emotional contact because of the damage that follows in his wake.  I really enjoyed Psi and Saibra with both becoming potential companion material if the time was right.

Jenna Coleman continues to challenge in the role of Clara as she continues to be the Doctor’s “carer”, not only being the Doctor’s emotional buffer to people for his actions but his fiercest advocate, even though he appears callous to the point of being ruthless.  Clara believes that she knows the Doctor’s methods, after all, she’s seen multiple aspects of him, but he really throws a curve ball by openly displaying a disregard to Saibra’s apparent death by Shredder even though we as the viewer see him agonise with this decision.  Jenna really sells the emotion that although the Doctor is apparently cold and detached, she knows what he’s really like and defends him to the hilt.

But it’s Peter Capaldi who has the best character progression in this story.  He has to sell multiple and conflicting attitudes within the Doctor’s portrayal in this story.  On the one hand, the Doctor is ice cold – callous, gameplaying and detached to the point of being unlikeable and I’m talking pre “The Edge of Destruction” First Doctor nasty.  On the other, this cold and callous nature is done for a purpose – to protect his friends in the process of a robbery that isn’t for gold or money, but for the altruistic reasons of returning a person’s treasured memories, or allowing contact for the first time or saving the last two members of a race – something that surely serves as a parallel to his own predicament as the Not Quite Last of the Timelords.

In the hands of a less skilled actor, this portrayal of the Doctor could come across as unlikeable, but Capaldi manages to balance the light and dark of this incarnation so that he manages to shock and surprise without coming across as a Doctor who you wouldn’t want to travel with, but the synopses from the rest of the series makes that as something to be seen.

 

“Time Heist” is a story that works on multiple levels.  On the face of it, it’s a crime caper that moves at a rate of knots.  Underneath, you get a great character study of the leading man in this series.  It’ll be interesting to see how “Twelve” progresses going forward given the apparently darker path he is looking to tread later in the series.

Movie Review: The Maze Runner

So I just got home from the movie The Maze Runner. And WOW. It is bad. I did not read the book so I might miss some important information that has been explained in the book but then again, the movie should be understandable on it’s own right? To explain why the movie is so bad, I have to give away the plot. So beware: SPOILERS! Although it doesn’t really matter because I don’t recommend you to go see the movie anyway.

The movie starts with our main character (Thomas) waking up in an elevator. When the elevator stops, he finds himself in the middle of a field with a lot of boys staring at him. It turns out he has lost his memory and every single boy there has gone through the same. All of them seen reluctant to explain anything to him though. So of course, Thomas starts to ask questions, which aren’t being answered. This field is actually some sort of prison, surrounded by a gigantic maze, which is only open at daytime. But no-one is allowed to enter the maze, except for the maze-runners. So of course Thomas asks questions about these rules and the maze, but nobody answers them for some reason. They just don’t bother. So logically Thomas tries to enter the maze and then everyone is mad at him (well then, should’ve answered his questions in the first place, didn’t you?). Thomas also asks why they didn’t built a ladder or something, but the only answer he gets is: ‘that doesn’t work’. Hello, plot-device!

As time passes, more details are explained (why not from the start though? This is just frustrating). Every month a boy comes up with the elevator along with some supplies. This has been happening for 3 years. The maze opens at day and closes at night, and the maze-runners are trying to map the maze. Nobody survives a night in the maze so the runners have to be back on time. And there are monsters called Grievers. But they only appear at night so nobody ever saw one (why would they know they’re there then?). Everyone seems to be at peace with the current situation, except for Thomas. As noted by several characters, Thomas is different. Because he’s curious. Yes, because curiosity isn’t a basic human trait. Oh wait, it is.

Then suddenly, Thomas is attacked by a maze-runner named Ben. It turns out Ben has become insane because he’s being stung (by a Griever supposedly). Obviously everyone is familiar with the concept of being stung because everybody knows what’s going on and they even have some sort of sting-protocol. And everybody is amazed because Ben has been stung during the day. So here’s the thing. They know that people stung  by Grievers become insane. Grievers only appear at night. Nobody survives a night in the maze. HOW do they even know that Grievers sting and what the effects are then!? Anyway, Ben is being locked into the maze and that’s it.

The day after a maze-runner called Minho and Alby (the leader) enter the maze, but when they return the door is already closing and Alby’s being stung so Minho is too slow because he’s dragging Alby’s unconscious body with him. Thomas is unable to watch this and rushes into the maze, locking himself in. Soon after, Grievers appear and while Thomas is trying to hide Alby, Minho flees. So we’ve just seen that the standard protocol for stung people is to lock them into the maze. WHY is Minho slowing himself down by trying to get Alby out of the maze, just to flee after he’s locked himself in? It just doesn’t make sense. Oh yea, the maze changes at night, so Thomas manages to splat a Griever between 2 walls (yea, it was that easy) and so he and Minho survive the night.

When he and Minho return, a character called Gally is angry because Thomas has broken the rules (no-one is allowed to enter the maze). So this character Gally really likes rules. That’s kinda logic because the only way the remain order is to follow some rules. But his character is SO one-dimensional it’s just frustrating to watch.


Suddenly the elevator appears again, this time with a girl with a note saying: ‘this is the last one’. So I thought: ‘this is interesting, the makers of this maze give the boys a way to procreate’. WRONG. That girls is there because… I have no idea, she has no meaning to the plot AT ALL. Except that that she seems to know Thomas’ name. Then she passes out. Thomas and some other maze-runners go back to the maze to investigate the splatted Griever. They discover some kind of device which I will tell you more about later. And Gally is angry again. And Thomas is promoted to maze-runner.

With being a maze-runner comes the privilege to know more information, and Minho tells Thomas that the maze is already fully mapped and that there is no exit. There are 7 sections (if I remember it correctly) which always open and close in a certain order. But the device may be the key to finding about more. The girl wakes up and only seems to trust Thomas, but after a short talk she seems perfectly comfortable with being in a group of 15 to 18 year old boys who haven’t seen a girl in 3 years. Oh yea, she has to antidotes for people who’ve been stung, so they use one on Alby (who is still unconscious though).

Minho and Thomas go back into the maze and soon discover that this functions as a key the the exit that the grievers use to get in and out of the maze. Section 7 is still open (for a reason which isn’t explained) but closes up as soon as they find the exit (also for no reason). They manage to escape and when they return Alby’s woken up. He seems heavily traumatized but seems to got some of his memories back.

Suddenly, the door of the maze doesn’t close at night and more doors open (no explanation again). The village is attacked by Grievers and Alby’s being killed. Thomas manages to get the sting-device and stings himself to get his memories back. Yes, great plan. You have ONE antidote and you just deliberately poisoned yourself. GREAT THINKING. When he wakes up, Gally’s got himself in charge and wants to offer Thomas and the girl (her name is Teresa btw) to the Grievers because he believes that they caused all the trouble. Thomas, who got some of his memories back, explains that he and Teresa are ‘one of them’, the ones that put them into the maze. We don’t get any more explanation than that though. But nobody really cares (exept Gally).

Thomas manages to get some rebels together and flees into the maze, leaving Gally’s group behind. Carrying the key, they just walk towards the exit in section 7 (which is open again, no explanation). They defeat some Grievers, and walk out. YES. Some of those boys have been trapped there for 3 freaking years but Thomas comes in, and because he’s the only one on Earth who has the power of curiosity, they walk out in 5 days or so. They discover some kind of lab with a lot of dead people, and an explanation is given through a television screen.

The Earth has been burnt to crisp because the sun is expanding. But that is not all, there is also some kind of zombie-virus. Why both? Why and expanding sun AND a zombie-virus? That doesn’t make sense at all! Anyway, the children are immune to the virus so they’ve been tested on their whole lives. And what is the best way to test immunity to a virus? Of course, by dissecting brains and trap them into a giant maze and sending monsters to them so a great deal of them die. Why? WHY?

Oh yea, Gally’s followed them, but he’s being stung and he has found a gun an he doesn’t want to leave so he shoots someone. Then they kill Gally. DRAMA WHOO, didn’t see that coming (wait I did, that character that died was solely written to die). How is it logical for Gally to shoot? NO IDEA! So it turns out that the lab was attacked by some kind of terrorists/rebels and they free the kids from the lab and that’s the end. But we see the woman on the video (that supposedly died) saying that the kids ‘took the bait’ and that it is time for phase 2.

That’s it! That’s the movie. Why didn’t they explain everything to Thomas from the start? Because. Why didn’t they build a ladder? Because. Why did no-one manage to kill a Griever before? Because. Why is Thomas the only one who doesn’t accept this fate? Because. Why didn’t Gally want to leave the mazes and shoots someone? Because. Why did section 7 stay open, closes again and opens again? Because. Why was the girl added to the plot? Because. Why did they know about the concept of being stung? Because. How is there enough food for them to survive? Because.

I can go on and on about the questions that aren’t being answered, but this blog is too long already. I know a great deal of things is probably going to be explained in the next movies (like why Thomas and Teresa are ‘one of them’ and what the hell the purpose of the maze was), but I suspect that a lot things are just there because they are. And that is enormously frustrating. Technically, this is a good movie, the CGI was good and the pace was good and the actors aren’t bad. But the story is abominable. I’m going to read the book because I can’t believe that a book so bad as this movie could’ve been made into a movie and I want to know the true explanation of things. This movie has so many plotholes a black hole would be impressed.

RANT OUT.

Z Nation, a series review.

Hi my hot cute girly geeks and boy geeks of course. I am so glad summer hiatus is over, and new series are starting. This time we look at Z Nation. And as always, there will be spoilers, oh and zombies.

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Synopsis according to IMDB:

Three years after the zombie virus has gutted the country, a team of everyday heroes must transport the only know survivor of the plague from New York to California, where the last functioning viral labs awaits for his blood.

My thoughts:

I love monster movies, weather its mummies, vampires, werewolves or zombies. Bring them on. There are a lot of bad ones out there, which shall not be named, but just remember something sparkly and you know what I mean.

Zombies are a hot item at the moment. I’ve seen my classics like night of the living dead. We had a bit of an uprise in the ’90’s with resident evil, and only a couple years ago an epic movie came out. Zombieland! If you haven’t seen it already, I really recommend it. I mean, Bill Murray and a quest for twinkies, mix that with zombies, hell yeah! (It tried to have a spinoff series, which failed, but rumours are Zombieland 2 is in the making).

And of course for the last couple of years we have the Walking Dead. An epic, scary well-written zombie series (which is starting again in a couple of days).

New on your telly is Z Nation, which combines the humour of Zombieland with the epicness of scary zombies from the Walking Dead. This can’t go wrong, right? Oh and not to forget, it has my favourite hunter / newly made vampire in it as well! I’m obviously talking about the DJ Qualls.

He plays the hilarious role of Citizen Z. Basically the last NSA person still alive, surrounded by some epic computer shit so he can hack his way into, well everything, and in those lonely cold nights he also plays a DJ, cheering up survivors with good music. In one word, brilliant.

I like the zombies, I mean, they look like zombies, but I like theses fast zombies. It makes it a bit harder to get away. Also, apparently they react to specific noises or frequencies. It’s always nice to have a new twist in your favourite monster.

The rest of the survivor group is pretty much what you expect. Die hard veterans, bimbo girl, couple in love and so one. Also nice to know that no matter what happens, human beings are willing to do everything to survive.

Although I’m not a big fan of creepy CGI babies and zombie animals.

I’m curious to see where it goes and if there is room for two zombie series on TV.

That’s it for this review. Check it out or let me know what you think about it.

Love, your own hot cute girly geek, Mendy.