THE GRUDGE

Aieee!! THE GRUDGE is bloody terrifying. I? a big tough bloke and I don? scare easily but this tense, sparse remake of the classic Japanese horror JU ON: THE GRUDGE had me leaping about in my seat and, if I? been on my own, very probably squealing like a girl when the scary stuff happens – which is frequently.

Karen (Sarah Michelle Gellar, finally earning her acting spurs on the big screen) is a na? young exchange student relocated to Japan with her boyfriend Doug (Jason Behr from the underrated cult TV series ROSWELL). Karen? a trainee care worker who becomes inextricably linked with something creepy and supernatural – quite literally a grudge which reaches out from beyond death – when she is assigned to look after a mad old woman living in a big creaking house. Something nasty? lurking in the house and, surprisingly early in the movie, it looks as if ]]>

BIG FISH

With the horribly impersonal mess that was PLANET OF THE APES (2001) director Tim Burton broke a chain of great movies that included classics the like of SLEEPY HOLLOW and EDWARD SCISSORHANDS. POTA simply seemed like Burton had lost all the quirky zest and invention that had been so prevalent in his earlier works. It seemed like he was in a rut. Because of this, BIG FISH has much to prove. Coming out in a season where samurai battle and kings are just about done returning, the movie is not only a return to form for the talented auteur, but a refreshing change of pace from the films of late. It? an intimate movie, with locations and set pieces galore, but this is nothing like the epic fare currently doing the box office rounds. It does however share traits with THE LAST SAMURAI and THE RETURN OF THE KING. It? bloody good.

The basic plot revolves around the efforts of beleaguered son Will Bloom (an excellent B ]]>

X-FILES: RESIST OR SERVE

Game Review By Peter Edwards Introduction

As an ex-phile! I hadn? really kept up to date with the show for a long time, but when the opportunity arose to review an X-Files game came along I jumped at the chance. The game is divided up into 3 episodes, they all start and end as any other X-Files TV show which makes this a fully interactive X-Files experience.

Story

You can play either Fox Mulder or Dana Scully (another thing that impressed me about this game is that they had the cast and writers.) The story starts off in Siberia with a meteor crash and then forwards to the present day with Mulder and Scully investigating murders in a town in Colorado then the fun starts. Then zombies, conspiracies and extra-terrestrial? all enter the mix.

Gameplay

Very reminiscent of Resident Evil 2 and Silent Hill which can? be bad. It is fun to use your torch and gun at the same time just like the show. Some of the camera angles do get you a bit muddled at times this area could have been improved.

Graphics

The graphics are certainly above average if you look closely the lip-syncing looks like a 70? kung fu movie but that is just a small gripe

Sound

The sound and background music is eerie. The best thing though is the voices as they are voiced by the actual actors.

Conclusion

A very enjoyable game a must for any X-Files fan and if any non-fans want to play a very good Resident Evil style game this is highly recommended. All in all a very good game and for only ?0 The Game Is Out There!! Go buy it

9/10
]]>

SYMPATHY FOR THE DEVIL

In the second of these What If plays Big Finish wonders what if the Doctor wasn’t on hand to help Unit along with the likes of The Auton Invasion and Dinosaurs in London?

Well here we have it, the Doctor arrives in Hong Kong 1997 just after his forced regeneration and exile to Earth by the Time Lords in the guise of David Warner. This is a piece of dream casting for the old Doc, Mr Warner commands alot of respect for his portrayal of the Doctor and I would like to see more of him with the old Type 40.

The plot is actually a good UNIT story and the ‘what ifs’ that I have previously talked about, are played nicely in the form of hints and throw away comments. Despite the Brigader’s now darkend past his character shines through as Nicholas Cortney returns to the role as if he had never left (in some ways he never has though!).

For this alternate Third Doctor Story there could only be one villan (if you cannot guess who I won’t tell you).

I am now pining for more Warner Who as the climax to the story leaves the whole thing begging for a series to follow, indeed if Dr Who was to come bact to our screens this play would form a nice opening chapter either as is or altered for nineth Doctor continuity.

It is a bit early for Christmas Wish lists but to start mine

1) New Series of Doctor Who starring David Warner

I just hope Auntie Beeb sees this before Santa

]]>

LARA CROFT TOMB RAIDER – THE CRADLE OF LIFE

?ello boys. You?e all wet.?p>

Having spectacularly tanked at the US Box office and having attracted the sort of notices usually reserved for infectious diseases, LARA CROFT TOMB RAIDER – THE CRADLE OF LIFE looks like the end for the cinematic exploits of the pneumatic Lady Croft, adventurer extraordinaire and all-round saucy poutress. What a shame; the Lara Croft films may not be high art (all right then, they?e definitely not high art) but they?e loads of fun and a Hell of a lot more enjoyable than certain big budget action films of this long, repetitive summer (cough HULK, cough MATRIX RELOADED).

Those of us who don? spend every waking moment hunched over a red-hot joystick (stop it,missus) will have last seen Lara foiling the plans of some looney tunes psycopath intent on destroying the world with the help of a long-lost artefact (alright, ]]>

CYPHER

Well there go ninety-five minutes of my life I’ll never get back. Director Vincenzo Natali made quite a splash a couple of years ago with his claustrophobic, nightmarish SF thriller CUBE. Sadly he’s hit his head on the diving board with this dreary and utterly uninvolving hi-tech fantasy espionage thriller which is probably the most tedious cinematic experience I’ve endured since THE USUAL SUSPECTS (yawn).

The plot involves Morgan Sullivan (a nice, out-of-his-depth performance by Northam, the film’s only strength) who is a bit tired of his dull accountancy job and his nagging wife. When he’s offered the chance to get involved in some fancy industrial espionage he wanders into a bizarre and rather uninteresting brainwashing scheme where he begins to question not only his own identity but the very nature of identity itself. Who’s who? Who can you trust? Who’s double cross ]]>

THE GHOSTS OF MENDEZ

John’s development as a real person as well as a Tomorrow person continues apace in ‘The Ghosts of Mendez’ where we meet him actually on a date with an ex-girlfriend preparing for the opening of a new art gallery. But there’s weirdness afoot as two construction workers are involved in a ghastly accident and the gallery itself may be more than just an unusual piece of architecture. ‘The Ghosts of Mendez’ is the most complex of the three stories and in some ways the least interesting. The problem is that the central idea – the living gallery absorbing the human life – is too visual to be successfully depicted by electronic wailing and lots of white noise. The narrative itself gets a bit muddied in places although another potential ‘story arc’ – that human beings are now not only aware of the existence of the Tomorrow People but are also quite clearly wary of them and are at the moment tolerating them while they’re still not too numerous – is one which it’s to be hoped will be explored in future releases.

Big Finish are to be congratulated on their fond reinvention of one of the 1970’s better cult creations. On the regular casting front Nicholas Young as John and Philip Gilbert as Tim are clearly relishing being back in the old routine and slip effortlessly back into their roles despite the passing of over twenty years since their last new TV episode. THE TOMORROW PEOPLE on audio is clearly one of the nichest examples of niche marketing in recent history; the releases are likely only to appeal to those of us old enough to remember the originals although they may attract a few new followers through the recent DVD releases of the show’s first season. Whoever ends up buying them, I hope they’re numerous enough to ensure a good long run of regular releases. There’s a lot of promise here and I’m interested to find out what’s in store next for the next stage in human evolution. For now, I’m outta here….where did I put that jaunting belt? (cue jangly sound effect…)

]]>

NEKROMANTEIA

“IUI’m NakedU”

“I’m trying not to think about it”

For those in the know, this is Doctor Who’s fortieth year in existence, and, fittingly, BF are treating 2003 as one big party. Towards the end of the year we have treats galore- the fifth, Sixth and Seventh incarnations of the Doctor get to battle some of his greatest foes- Omega, Davros and The Master respectively. 2003 will then be rounded off by Zagreus, a special story featuring four Doctors- Davidson, Baker, McCoy and McGann. But that’s what’s to come, and for this month, we have new audio Nekromanteia to keep us sustained.

Nekromanteia is described as writer Austin Atkinson’s attempt to create a ‘Blakes 7 style outer space romp’ in the style of our favourite Timelord. This is very well achieved- characters are double crossing each other all over the shop in this story, and this is definitely not set on Earth! Massive battle ships, lazer guns- all add to the real outer space feel, but never cross into Star Wars territory- this is a grim beast indeed.

Cults, drug use, sexuality- all are addressed in this tale, but never feel as if they have been put in for the sake of it- each subject has a valid and relevant place in the plot.

The main bulk of this release revolves around the Fifth Doctor, Peri and new companion (created for audio) Erimem landing the TARDIS on a planet in the Nekromanteia system after the new crew member feels strangely drawn to this area of the galaxy. What follows I wont spoil for you, although it is a play full of questions- why is Erimem drawn to the Nekromanteia system? What is the secret of the Witches deity Shara? Why was the entire corporation star fleet sent to Nekromanteia- and what does corporation big wig Wendle Marr want on the surface? Questions like this run through the brain as the play advances, and as one problem is solved, another rears its ugly head.

The cast is generally good, with Glyn Owen as the gruff Commander Harlon and Nicola Bryant as companion Peri giving excellent performances. However, the cast is marred by a flat lead and a very poor villain. Firstly, Gilly Cohen as the leader of the Nekromanteian witches, Jal Dor Kal. Kal should be a terrifying, black figure who adds the thread of menace to the play- however, Cohen reduces a potentially strong antagonist to a cackling, hissing pantomime queen. She has the evil voice, mannerisms and hideous laugh that after a few scenes just get old- Cohen is a capable performer elsewhere, but here she is the evil witch that every 5-10 year olds school play should have.

Now onto the lead- Davidson’s Doctor. I must admit I have never seen Peter as the Doctor on TV at all, nor have I heard any fifth Doctor audio’s. It just struck me in this play that he was a little flat, and he never really leaped out of the story, making every scene without the Doctor seem to miss something like Paul McGann did so well on Storm Warning. Maybe its because I’m not used to the fifth Doctor, but he seemed dull in this audio at least.

Minor quibbles aside though, Atkinson’s plot is engaging in parts, with a few scenes here and there not totally riveting as they might be, but on the whole Nekromanteia has a sparkling premise, nice dark undertones and, in places a refreshingly adult feel. Oh, and how could I forget- episode two’s cliff hanger is BRILLIANT!.

ANY GOOD?: Nekromanteia is a mixed bag. The quality of the sound and the feel of the play is excellent-also the plot holds out well. I think this really show’s, with work from BF’s talented team how well Blake’s 7 would work on an audio format. The cast isn’t always brilliant, the script not always engaging, but when it’s good, it’s well worth the effort. Hey, they’re not all classics!

THREE POINT FIVE OUT OF FIVE

]]>

THE LORD OF THE RINGS:THE RETURN OF THE KING

Wow.

I could probably leave it there really. You?e going to see THE RETURN OF THE KING whatever the reviews say – and they?e all been quite positive on the whole (this is irony, by the way) – so you don? need any endorsement from me to encourage you to part with your coinage of the realm over the Christmas period and beyond. But make no mistake, THE RETURN OF THE KING is a masterpiece, modern cinema? finest hour, a blast from start to finish. I liked it.

But I?l admit I was worried. I felt like a freak because (whisper it) I never really took to THE TWO TOWERS; the theatrical version was just too bitty, too disjointed. I had problems with the film? tone and I couldn? take the talking trees seriously. Peter Jackson? Tolkein saga looked in danger of crumbling into fa ]]>

ROSWELL – SEASON THREE

I approached this third season boxset of ROSWELL with some trepidation. With the second season revamp – away from soft-focus lovey-dovey teen angst and deep into the realms of fast-paced high-concept sci-fi – having done little to improve US ratings, season three, on its new home at the UPN Network, promised a return to the show? ?ore themes?- most particularly the will-they/won? they Liz and Max dynamic. Much of season two had alienated the show? fan base and even the cast were heard to mutter that they weren? too comfortable with the full-on SF of the series. It seems odd, though, that the show choose to abandon the progress it ahd made in season two to return to a style which hadn? ben all that popular in year one. So it was that, armed with the knowledge that season three was more DAWSON? CREEK than BUFFY THE VAMPIRE SLAYER I journeyed into the last eighteen episodes of ROSWELL not really expecting very much. What a fool I?e been.

ROSWELL season three is wonderful television. It? true that there? a lot less science-fiction here and that the style of many of the relationship-based episodes takes its lead from season one. But season three works so well because of the lessons learnt in season two. Clearly inspired by the comedy-drama dynamic of BUFFY, ROSWELL in its third year is a slick, witty beast coasting a confidence remarkable in a series which was never far away from cancellation from the moment it first hit the air. SF fans may get restless but ROSWELL works because by now the groundwork has been done and done well; Liz, Max, Maria, Michael, Kyle and the others have, over the course of the previous 44 episodes, become fully-rounded, mature individuals and the writers are now able to play to the strengths of each and every one of them. Paring back the sci-fi doesn? hurt the show because the mythology of the characters runs through the series like blood; we know our heroes are aliens and we know there are people out there who know it too. But the fun of the series is the playful and relaxed way it shows them trying to find their way in the world and keep their secret hidden from everyone around them.

Season three opens with Liz and Max holding up a convenience store. Some months have passed since the end of season three and Max is still determined to track down his newborn son, taken back to his home planet by the duplicitous alien killer Tess (Emillie de Ravin) at the end of season two. Once again Max and Liz are kept apart by their protective parents but this season the writers have wisely chosen to make the lovestruck pair just one of a number of equally-riveting story strands. There? Isobel and her secret relationship with Jesse Ramirez, the new hotshot lawyer in her father? law firm. Fiery Maria? romance with the deadpan alien Michael hit? the rocks when Maria gets the chance to live her rock star dream and the lives of the entire group are threatened when Max and Isobel? father determines to find out the truth about his mysterious children.

At eighteen episodes, season three was clearly cut short by weak UPN ratings. But at least early notice of cancellation allowed the production team to give the series a decent conclusion. As the episodes roll by – and there are some great shows here, including ? Married An Alien?which drifts dangerously close to BUFFY territory in terms of its innovative use of television – there? a real sense of danger here, of events spiralling out of control and rushing towards a conclusion. Loose ends are very neatly tied up when Tess returns to earth with her baby – and does the decent thing to redeem herself. And I can honestly say that, having said a fond farewell to some great television shows in the last few year, ROSWELL manages a truly affecting and utterly-satisfying finale, an episode which ends the show? story on a note of joyous optimism.

ROSWELL? failure to catch the BUFFY demographic is baffling and frustrating.