Doctor Who Spyfall Part 1 Review

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Doctor Who Spyfall Part 1

Review by Paul Bowler

Jodie Whittaker’s second year of adventures as the 13th Doctor begins as Doctor Who series 12 gets under way with Spyfall, the first episode of a blockbusting action packed two-part story written by show runner Chris Chibnall and Directed by Jamie Magnus Stoneas.

Spyfall kicks off this new season of adventures with a bang! Secret intelligence agents from all around the world have come under attack by mysterious alien forces. The victims have been left in a coma and their DNA corrupted. MI6 seek help from the Doctor and her companions Ryan (Tosin Coyle), Yaz (Mandip Gill) and Graham (Bradley Walsh) as the crisis spreads. The Time Lord and her friends scour the globe for answers as threats strike from all sides, Earth’s security now rests on the TARDIS team’s shoulders, but where will this world-endangering conspiracy finally lead them?

In true series premier fashion, Spyfall hit’s the ground running, and the pace hardly falters for a moment. The opening attacks, especially on the aeroplane cleverly introduces a nameless menace of deadly shimmering beings that can phase through matter. With the alien threat quickly established, the Doctor, Ryan, Yaz and Graham are soon thrown right into the heart of the action. As the name suggests, Chibnall’s script for Spyfall is a wry spin on James Bond. The Doctor even swaps her usual trademark rainbow t-shirt for a tuxedo and a darker version of her flowing coat as the Time Lord becomes embroiled in this sci-fi spy-caper. Indeed, the whole gangs attire gets a spy themed makeover. Spyfall also features some impressive guest stars, with Stephen Fry as suave spy boss C, and Lenny Henry as the shady technology company CEO Daniel Barton.

The security of this entire planet is at stake. Can we rely upon you?

The action in this hour-long opening episode is spread across several countries and locations; there are lots of big Bond style action-set pieces to enjoy, including a thrilling chase with the Doctor riding a motorbike, and hints of underlying themes to come as the high stakes builds towards a rather momentous cliffhanger. To fully achieve the globe trotting scale of this story filming for the first part of Spyfall took place in South Africa, the stylish direction by Jamie Magnus Stoneas takes full advantage of this, and the result ensures Spyfall boasts a slick blend of frenetic action with stunning panoramic visuals to launch the new season in fine style.

Jodie Whittaker continues to refine her performance as the 13th Doctor, infusing a genuine sense of fun and warmth to her role as the adventure unfolds. Series regulars Tosin Coyle, Mandip Gill and Bradley Walsh are also on fine form as the Doctor’s companions, and collectively the TARDIS team get some great moments to shine in Spyfall. The episode shows the Doctor’s companions catching up with their lives in Sheffield as the everyday reality of their adventures begin to hit home, Yaz is getting into trouble with her superiors because of her frequent secondments, Ryan’s friends are feeling neglected, and Graham also finds time to fit in his latest medical check-up. Perhaps most intriguingly Spyfall also reveals how the Doctor hasn’t been quite as forthright about her Time Lord past and former incarnations with her friends as we thought; potentially sowing a hint of conflict as the series progresses.

The new crystalline TARDIS interior has also been tweaked slightly for the new series. Most notably the roof has been raised slightly, giving a greater sense of scale to the set. Then we have the addition of hexagon style steps leading up to another level, and the screens now utilise an ethereally holographic means to convey information.

Decked out by C with a complement of nifty Bond style gadgets, the Doctor and her companions split up into two teams to carry out their mission. Ryan and Yaz investigate the ruthless tech CEO Barton while the Doctor and Graham try to uncover the truth about the aliens with help from the Doctor’s old friend O (Sacha Dhawan) from MI6. It is interesting to see a simple plot device like this being used to capitalise on using the four person cast to the full to tell a much bigger story than if it were just the Doctor and one companion, and it shows just how good the new TARDIS team can be when its done so well like this.

The name’s Doctor, the Doctor!

The aliens prove to be a palpable threat, one seemingly capable of even getting into the TARDIS, and to make things worse for the Doctor they don’t even give a reading on the sonic screwdriver! Her conversation with one of the beings mind-way through the episode is equally chilling. Lenny Henry’s character, Daniel Barton, also has a secret, namely that he’s only 93% human! As for that extraordinary cliffhanger that we’ve all been teased about so much, well it certainly blindsides you. It also works on several levels, the end result is dramatic, potentially game changing, and ‘masterfully’ executed! Yes the Doctor’s greatest foe, The Master, brilliantly played by Sacha Dhawan, is back with a vengeance! It was a great surprise, and nice to enjoy the start of a two-part story with a proper cliffhanger again too, as this was something that Series 11 sadly lacked.

Overall then part one of Spyfall gets this new series of Doctor Who off to a relatively strong and confident start. Although the blend of familiar Doctor Who and Bond tropes does make the episode feel a little uneven in places, they even squeezed in a nod to the X-Files infamous catchphrase, there’s still a fairly good balance between the action and humour. Characterisation is also strong, and the epic cliffhanger sets up some exciting prospects for the second half of the story. It was lovely to see the dedication to the late Terrance Dicks at the end of the credits as well, especially as the former script editor, author and writing legend who died last autumn co-created and named the Master back in the 1970’s. Much like the 13th Doctor’s debut season, Series 12 begins promisingly enough with Spyfall. Let’s just hope that this early momentum can be built on in Spyfall Part 2 and sustained as the series progresses.

Images Belong BBC

What did you think of this Doctor Who episode? Let me know in the comments

About The Author

Hi, I’m Paul Bowler, blogger and reviewer of films, TV shows, and comic books. I’m a Sci-Fi geek, a big fan of Doctor Who, Star Trek, movies, Sci-Fi, Horror, Comic Books, and all things PS4.You can follow me on Twitter @paul_bowler,or at my website, Sci-Fi Jubilee, and on YouTube and Facebook

Happy Christmas, On The Mend & Looking Foward to 2020!

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On The Mend and Looking Forward to 2020!

Well, first I’d just like to say a big thank you to everyone for supporting me and Sci-Fi Jubilee in 2019 while I’ve been off recovering from my recent operation. Its been a long, tough few months, but I’m well on the mend now.

At times its was a bit frustrating not being well enough to focus on my blog or YouTube Channel, but I had to follow Doctor’s orders and rest. Sadly I did miss several of the comic books I was looking forward to reading, and there were films like Joker and Terminator Dark Fate that I never got around to seeing. On the plus side I had plenty of time to relax and enjoy lots of my favourite classic TV shows, especially Doctor Who and Star Trek, and lots of classic movies, Sci-Fi and Horror, that I haven’t watched in ages either.

Now it’s time to look forward to the end of the year and everything that 2020 has to offer! First off there’s Star Wars The Rise of Skywalker, so will be sure to see that over the holidays. Doctor Who returns on New Year’s Day as Series 12 begins. I’m glad  to see the Cybermen return as well as they are my favourite Doctor Who monster. Also excited for The Witcher, Lost In Space Season 2, and Star Trek Picard! There’s lots of movies I’m looking forward to in 2020, including Black Widow, No Time To Die, and Wonder Woman 1984, to name just a few, and I’m sure there’ll be plenty of comic books to enjoy as well.

Most of all though I’d like to take this opportunity to say a huge thank you for all the get well messages you’ve sent me here on Sci-Fi Jubilee and on Twitter. I was totally bowled over by your kind words and good wishes while I was recovering, you helped me keep my spirits up through the tough times after my surgery, and for that I truly cannot thank you all enough.

So, here’s to a very merry Christmas and happy holidays to you all as the festive season approaches, and I look forward to an exciting New Year in 2020 with Sci-Fi Jubilee!

Cheers everyone, and see you soon.

Paul.

 

Been In Hospital For An Operation.

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Been In Hospital for an Operation

Hi everyone! Sorry been a lack of posts recently. I’ve been in hospital for an operation for a longstanding condition that’s been giving me a bit of trouble for a while now. As I have a somewhat weaker lung function as well (you may recall I spent time in hospital last November because of a bad chest infection), I was also advised to have a spinal for my operation as it would be safer for me than a general anaesthetic.

It was a bit of a scary experience being awake while I was being operated on, but the staff were all really nice and looked after me. Its been just over a week since my operation. I’m home now and recovering well. Obviously I’m going to have to take things easy for a bit. So that’ll mean lots of binge watching box sets and movies for me while I recover – just what the doctor ordered!

Take care and I’ll see you all soon.

Paul.

Terminator Dark Fate New Official Trailer!

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Terminator Dark Fate New Official Trailer!

Welcome to the day after Judgment Day! Check out the new the official trailer for Terminator Dark Fate, in theatres 11.1.19.

Linda Hamilton (“Sarah Connor”) and Arnold Schwarzenegger (“T-800”) return in their iconic roles in Terminator: Dark Fate, directed by Tim Miller (Deadpool) and produced by visionary filmmaker James Cameron and David Ellison. Following the events of Terminator 2: Judgment Day, Terminator: Dark Fate also stars Mackenzie Davis, Natalia Reyes, Gabriel Luna, and Diego Boneta.

And here’s the new official poster as well!

 

Justice League #30 Review

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Justice League #30

Review by Paul Bowler.

The Justice / Doom War kicks off big time Justice League #30 as writers Scott Snyder and James Tynion IV take this sweeping comic book opus to a whole new level. With their arch nemesis Lex Luthor now transformed into a super-powered apex predator powered by the dark entity Perpetua, the Legion of Doom look even closer to defeating the League and succeeding in their goal to bring chaos and destruction to the DC Universe.

With the Year of the Villain now well under way Justice League #30 presents a chilling glimpse of the consequences of Luthor’s scheme if indeed that grim fate should come to pass. Snyder and Tynion collectively bring the far reaching threads of numerous story-arcs together in this issue. Indeed, it is now clear just how much has been set into place to bring everything to this point, the sheer scale and ingenuity of it all is really quite astonishing, and the Justice / Doom War looks set to take things even further – across, space, time and even the Multiverse itself!

Arguably one of the biggest revelations in this run of Justice League has been Snyder’s and Tnyion’s reintroduction of Starman’s character. Now as the core members of the Justice League gather their forces against their impending doom, Starman not only galvanises the heroes into action, his place at the heart of the plot entwines beautifully with the overarching narrative of the mythologies and forces that bind the DC Universe together.

Jorge Jimenez’s art in Justice League #30 easily rises to the occasion to match the high drama of the plot. Utilizing bold, striking page layouts, Jimenez skilfully builds the pace, the characters dramatic poses are beautifully framed, and the sheer scope of the issues grand design is quite simply breathtaking to behold. The colors by Aljandro Sanchez vibrantly complement Jumenez’s art, dazzling the eye with a glorious blend of tone and hues.

Each branch of the issues key storylines has villains plotting to strike while the heroes embark on a daring plan to turn the tide in their favour. Set against this dramatic backdrop, some grave reservations are voiced, and darkness lurks waiting to strike as the issues time-warping cliff-hanger builds to the momentous return of some old favourites…

Justice League #30 crams a hell of a lot in but there’s no denying that the final page is the one that is really this issues big selling point. I won’t spoil it – even though its already been well documented that this issue of Justice League features the return of some much beloved characters – but people who know me know that I’m a big fan of these classic Golden Age characters and needless to say that final page left me with a big silly grin on my face.

For an issue that has so much going on and so many plates spinning in the past, present and future its all the more remarkable that Justice League #30 is also an excellent jumping on point for new readers. If you haven’t been following this version of Justice League, or read Metal, or any of the other tie-in issues from previous events then this issue will quickly bring you up to speed as it sets up some tantalizing possibilities for the future. Most of all though Justice League #30 is one of those joyous issues that makes you punch the air with delight. Providing both a blockbusting opening to the Justice / Doom War and a most welcome return to the classic era of comics, this is indeed one of the finest issues of Justice League that Snyder and Tynion have crafted so far!

Writers: Scott Snyder & James Tynion IV

Art: Jorge Jimenez / Colors: Alejandro Sanchez

Letters: Tom Napolitano

Cover: Francis Manapul / Varian Cover: Jay Anaceleto & Romulo Fajaroo JR

Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker D23 Sizzle Reel Released!

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Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker D23 Sizzle Reel Released!

Lucasfilm have now released the much talked about sizzle reel of the Star Wars films which was shown at the D23 Expo last weekend. It begins with footage from the original film trilogy, and makes its way right through to The Last Jedi and beyond. With new glimpses of footage from Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker, this final part of the new trilogy is shaping up to be an epic conclusion!

Images & Video Belong Disney

 

Batman Curse of the White Knight #1 Review

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Batman Curse of the White Knight #1

Review by Paul Bowler

Dark secrets and old scores wait to be settled in Batman Curse of the White Knight #1, the hotly anticipated sequel to the critically acclaimed Batman White Knight, when the Joker sets out to recruit Azrael to his cause to ruin the Wayne legacy and bring chaos to Gotham City once more!

Writer and artist Sean Murphy’s new eight-part mini-series continues to build on the foundations set up during Batman White Knight which established his unique spin on the Dark Knight’s world, one where Joker reclaimed his sanity to become the good guy, while Batman’s increasingly brutal methods effectively painted him as the bad guy. Now in the sequel Curse of the White Knight the Joker is back with an axe to grind, and determined to have the last laugh on Gotham as Batman contemplates his future as the Dark Knight.

From the foreboding flashback to Arkham, 1685, to the Clown Prince of Crimes ingenious escape in the present, right up to Batman and Gordon’s grim discovery, Sean Murphy’s script quickly sets up the premise of this new mini-series and runs with it for all its worth. The warped existential fallout of Joker’s and Jack Naper’s psyche in the aftermath of Batman White Knight allows Murphy to skilfully fuel the chilling narrative via the Joker’s character, and fan the flames of Jean Paul’s equally fractured psyche to bring Azrael to the fore.

Gordon knows Bruce is Batman now, but that doesn’t really seem to have changed the dynamic between them. If anything, their relationship now seems more assured and measured in Curse of the White Night. The mystery they uncover offers up some tantalizing clues early on. However, the big highlights this issue are the character driven Bat-Family moments: such as the powerful scenes between Bruce and Dick Grayson in the Bat-Cave, where Murphy’s blisteringly sharp dialogue shows just how much Bruce’s perceived failure has had on him, there’s some wry humour to defuse the darkness as Batman and Batgirl assess the case evidence so far, and the late Alfred Pennyworth’s deeply moving note is sure to melt even the coldest of hearts.

Sean Murphy’s art is on top form and brings everything to the page that you’ve probably come to expect from this series already. The dark, gritty rendition of this alternative slant on the Dark Knight’s world is swathed in deep shadows and a mesmerising gothic grandeur that seems to encompass even the smallest scene. Arkham is more sinister than ever, Murphy’s grizzled Batman seems even more intimidating this time around, fan boy cinematic flourishes such as the Joker’s gun are an added bonus to enjoy, and the Bat-Cave depicted here is a sweeping vista of Bat-paraphernalia the likes of which feels more like a frame in a movie than a panel in a comic book. Matt Hollingsworth’s colors complements Murphy’s artwork perfectly as you’d expect, with the opaque shades of the earlier scenes giving way to subtle greys and earthier tones as the issue progresses to a fiery denouement. The lettering by AndWorldDesign is crisp and clean – essential in a dialogue heavy issue like this – and together with the sumptuous art and colors you will soon find yourself immersed in the multiple twists and turns of the plot.

Batman Curse of the White Knight #1 gets this new series off a fantastic start. Sean Murphy and Matt Hollingsworth make a fantastic team, the Joker’s plot in Curse of the White Knight is sure to test Batman and his allies to the limit, the introduction of Azrael to their Dark Knight’s mythos is also an intriguing one, and I really like how this storyline follows on from the events of the previous mini-series in so many unexpected and surprising ways. One thing’s for sure, this new chapter in the White Knight saga looks set to shake Gotham to the core!

Publisher DC Comics (DC Black Label)

Writer, Art, & Covers by Sean Murphy

Colors & Cover Colors by Matt Hollingsworth

Letters by AndWorldDesign

Star Trek Picard First Official Trailer Released At SDCC 2019!

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Star Trek Picard First Official Trailer Released At SDCC 2019!

The first official trailer for Star Trek: Picard has been released at SDCC 2019, and it hits warp speed on every level! I’ve been looking foward to this series ever since it was announced, and the trailer looks awesome! Can’t wait to see Patrick Stewart return as Picard! It has also been confirmed that Jonathan Frakes, Marina Sirtis, Jonathan del Arco, Brent Spiner and Jeri Ryan will be reprising their roles as Will Riker, Troy, Hugh the Borg, Data, and Seven of Nine.

The trailer is packed with fan pleasing moments, seeing Data and Seven on Nine again was awesome, and I’m sure Star Trek Picard will be well worth the wait.

Engage! Check out the trailer for Star Trek Picard!

 

Spider-Man Far From Home Film Review

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Spider-Man Far From Home

Review by Paul Bowler.

Tom Holland returns as Peter Parker in Spider-Man Far From home, the next chapter in Marvel’s web-spinning Spider-Man film series. Serving as a coda of sorts to this year’s blockbusting smash hit Avengers Endgame; Spider-Man Far From Home is a fun filled blend of high-school romcom, spy drama, and dazzling superhero action.

After cleverly addressing the events and aftermath of the last two Avengers films, Spider-Man far From Home quickly gets under way as Peter Parker (Tom Holland) joins his friends Ned (Jacob Batalon), MJ (Zendaya), and the rest of the classmates on a European vacation. However, Peter’s plan to take a break from all the super heroics are soon thrown into turmoil when Spider-Man’s recruited by Nick Fury (Samuel L Jackson) and teamed up with the dimension-travelling Mysterio (Jake Gyllenhaal) who is wracked by guilt because he failed to save his own world.

Together Spider-Man and Mysterio must confront the mysterious elemental creatures that have begun appearing and unleashing havoc across the continent. Peter Parker’s quest takes him across Europe battling elementals, but soon a new threat emerges, and only the friendly neighbourhood Spider-Man can save the day!

It’s a good job Aunt May (Marisa Tomel), now in the know about her nephew’s superhero alter-ego, decided to pack his Spidey-suit for him as there’s no rest for Spider-Man on this vacation! Tom Holland is on fine form once again as the wall-crawling hero, with Peter’s anguish over Tony Stark’s death in Avengers Endgame brining extra emotional depth to the role. Reunited with his pals from Spider-Man Homecoming for this European vacation, Peter also plans to confess his love for MJ, brilliantly played by pop star Zendaya, and it is the fizzing chemistry between Peter and MJ that provides the movie’s warm emotional core.

Of course with Spider-Man themes of great power and responsibility are never far away, and screenwriters Chris McKenna and Erik Sommers, and director Jon Watts skilfully craft further angst for Peter Parker by having Nick Fury see him as a kind of replacement for the late Tony Stark as the worlds most prominent superhero. Fury gives Peter a special pair of computerised glasses as well – equipped with an AI which Stark had intended for his successor to have – which only compounds the internal conflict further whilst also reiterating the fallout from Avengers Infinity War and Endgame. It creates an interesting and somewhat fraught dynamic between Fury and Spider-Man as Iron Man’s legacy proves a daunting prospect for the teenager, something that Peter’s not sure he even wants, or is capable of living up too as all he really wants is to do is live as normal a life as he possibly can given his extraordinary life now as Spider-Man.

Jake Gyllenhaal is also really good as Quentin Beck, AKA, Mysterio, who Peter initially sees as a similar kind of mentor figure like he did Stark. Beck claims to have come from an alternative Earth, he’s here to help stop the Elementals from destroying this world like they did his. I’ve always been a big fan of Mysterio in the comics and I was thrilled to see the character handled so well in this movie. Mysterio’s abilities look spectacular, Gyllenhaal makes the role his own, and his distinctive costume with its cloudy domed helmet looks great.

Amidst all the fun, romance, and big action set-pieces, director Jon Watts keeps Spider-Man Far From Home on an even keel. The added weight of recent events in the MCU’s continuity slots in well with the films quirky spy caper narrative, and there’s even a smattering of darker themes such as big corporate manipulation and fake news. With our amazing Spider-Man donning a number of old and new Spidey suits as his adventures take him across Europe, the callbacks to previous movies come thick and fast, and the overall geeky sense of fun is sure to delight fans. Other familiar characters also return, including Cobie Smulders as Maria Hill, and Jon Favreau as Happy Hogan.

With its great cast, crisp direction, and spectacular action Spider-Man Far From Home is sure to get your Spider Sense tingling! Brilliant fun from beginning to end, Spider-Man Far From Home provides a fitting epilogue to Avengers Endgame, and paves the way for a potentially bold new era for Spider-Man. Needless to say, this is a Marvel movie, so be sure to stay right through the credits where one of the films biggest secrets is waiting to be revealed!

Detective Comics #1006 Review

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Batman Detective Comics #1006

Review by Paul Bowler

Dark, supernatural forces stalk Gotham in Detective Comics #1006 as the Spectre enlists Batman’s help in solving the mysterious disappearance of Jim Corrigan – the GCPD detective who is the host for the spirit of God’s Vengeance.

With this issue of Detective Comics writer Peter J Tomasi weaves a grim, suspenseful tale featuring the Spectre. This otherworldly character hasn’t featured prominently for a while now, so Kyle Hotz’s eye-catching cover immediately caught my attention, and I found myself instantly caught up in the gripping story within.

Tomasi quickly sets the tone by setting up a beguiling mystery for the Dark Knight when he is recruited by the Spectre after he can no longer feel Jim Corrigan’s presence. Though we are privy from the outset to Detective Corrigan’s ambush and abduction by bizarre green hooded cultists, who also murder his partner, we are still left just as much in the dark as the Spectre and Batman as to what has happened to Corrigan. The plot is skilfully crafted by Tomasi to keep us guessing every step of the way. From the striking opening scenes when Corrigan is attacked, through to Batman’s daunting initial rooftop encounter with the Spectre, and their eventual investigation of the gruesome crime scene the pace of this issue doesn’t let up for a moment.

The artwork by Kyle Hotz conjures up a wonderfully creepy atmosphere and gothic looking Gotham. Indeed, Hotz’s impressive work here in realizing Batman’s grim world reminded me a bit of Kelley Jones’ take on Batman, albeit in far more restrained in style, but still nevertheless equally as captivating if, like me, you are a fan of somewhat darker supernatural themed Batman stories and atheistics for the Dark Knight. The Spectre’s aforementioned rooftop recruitment of Batman is a big highlight, as is the gore soaked charnel house crime scene that serves as the primary focal point which drives much of the issues narrative. Similarly, the sombre color palette employed by colorist David Baron stylishly complements Hotz’s artwork to accentuate both the gritty and paranormal elements of Tomasi’s story perfectly.

It was great to see the Batman working alongside the Spectre in this issue and I thoroughly enjoyed this change of pace and tone following Tomaski’s Arkham Knight storyline. With its mysteriously compelling story by Peter J Tomaski and atmospheric artwork by Kyle Hotz Detective Comics #1006 is well worth checking out – especially if a decidedly stranger and more unearthly tale of the Dark Knight is your thing.

Publisher: DC Comics

Writer: Peter J Tomasi / Artist: Kyle Hotz

Colorist: David Baron / Letterer: Rob Leigh / Cover: Kyle Hotz