Tag Archives: Karen Gillian

The Circle (2017): Just Watch “Black Mirror” Instead

      “The Circle” is an unfocused mess full of hack characters and no discernible theme. I hear the book is good so just read the book. I’ll go into why I went from disliking to hating this film in a moment because there is quite a lot to unload on this film, but the biggest parts are that lack of theme, half-formed characters and with all of that, failure to go full ham. If you are going to be cheesy you should bank on it and in doing so create your own form of malformed beauty.

  The film was directed by James Ponsoldt who was also one of the producers, written by Dave Eggers who also wrote the book and produced by Anthony Bregman and Gary Goetzman.

    The story involves Mae (Emma Watson) getting a job at The Circle (A facebookish tech. company) thanks to her friend Annie (Karen Gillan). She soon finds it is not the paradise it seems to be when the public sharing among the circle and constant call for interaction begins to unfold leading to dark consequences.

SPOILERS ahead

The Pros: The Concept – The concept is a lot like a “Black Mirror” episode. What happens when social media becomes a society and you are under pressure to reveal your life and what you are doing at all times? I like this concept but this isn’t the focus or the theme of the film, even though the trailers seem to set it up that way.

The Cinematography – The cinematography looks great, there are great uses of shadow and holograms to really illustrate the future. You can tell the director put a lot of love into this film…

The Cons: Hack Characters – Dave Eggars wrote the book, but apparently can’t write screenplays. None of these characters feel fully fleshed out. Mae the main character is almost set up to have a rise to power only to become a reformer…but the reasons with that don’t feel all that explored.

   She has an off the grid ex who is the “hero” of the film, which in turn shuts down her becoming a professional within her own life. He also gets harassed for his antler art? What the hell. He is a paranoid guy in the woods whose paranoia ends up being justified but we never get to know him. He is an idealized version of the off the grid blue collar hero. What the ever living hell…He’s not a character and they turn him into a martyr when people stalk him on a new program and he drives off a bridge. We are told they do things together or did things together, but we never see it. It is all tell and now show. Again, he’s an idea not a character.

Her best friend Annie is rising in the company and disappears. I wanted to see her rise and fall arc. But she is barely around…Same Ty Lafitte…John Boyega’s character who is fighting the Circle and invented another giant tech. media company…and finally Hanks’s Eamon, one of the founders whose agenda is never known and who is only around as a vague threat. These aren’t characters, these are concepts in a terrible script.

Social Media and Tech. Paranoia – We are told to fear tech. (her parents telling her not to trust the Circle and her ex being off the Grid) and we see how it turns her and Annie into monsters at times…but that is also contradicted with the ending. This is a vague theme that exists but doesn’t go anywhere and is never fully explored.

A Missed Corruption Arc – This is a hackneyed script in a hammy story…so knowing this, they should have just made Mae a villain. Her life is public, make her a Trump figure who can lampoon people she talks too and win by being horrible…since we see her do this a few times till “noble” ex gets the axe. I wanted her to take out the owners and gain control of the company. That would have made this film a beautiful disaster that is “So bad it’s good.” Sadly this potential is missed. They should have embraced tech and information as power that corrupts…what a waste.

Lack of any Theme – There is no core theme. There is a vague sense of distrusting smart phones and social media…but Mae makes everything public in the end to take out The Circle’s founders. So, what was the ever living point of this film? If you don’t have a purpose, why were you made? The sad thing is the author of the book was the screenwriter…A writer should know the themes they intend to explore.

  I don’t recommend this garbage. This was a film that could have been “So Bad it’s Good,” if it had been comfortable in tech. and information as corrupting influences of power theme, or it could have gone full revolution and had Boyega, Gillan and Watson team up early to take on the Founders. That’d be asking too much of this film though. This is a film that doesn’t know what it wants and doesn’t have any real characters, jut half formed ideas in a broken mess. Seriously, save your money and watch “Black Mirror,” you’ll get well focused themes of technology fears that have a clear focus in theme and character. This film is one of the worst I’ve watched in quite some time.

Final Score: 3 / 10

12 Days of Doctors – The 11th Doctor – Series 5, Episode 1 – “The Eleventh Hour” – The Time Traveler

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We continue 12 Days of Doctors with “The Eleventh Hour” the first episode in Series 5 and the introduction of Matt Smith as the 11th Doctor as well as his main companion for this season, Amy Pond. The episode was written by Steven Moffat, who became the showrunner after this point (for better and for worse) and was directed by Adam Smith.

The story of “The Eleventh Hour,” is that the Doctor’s TARDIS is nearly destroyed after his regeneration so he needs to get it fixed and healed up, so he arrives at the home of Amelia Pond where his TARDIS crashes and she helps him heal. They than go to her room where the Crack in Time is and the Atraxi send out a warning that Prisoner Zero has escaped. The Doctor than jumps forward to fix his TARDIS, but jumps forward too far and Amy is no longer a little girl. Together they must stop Prisoner Zero from causing the Atraxi from destroying the Earth as well as re-establishing that he is the same Doctor she met as child and their current relationship.

Doctor and Amy

Here is the assessment of the episode:

The Pros: The 11th Doctor / The Eleventh Doctor – Matt Smith is the Peter Pan Doctor, he is the Doctor who will whisk you away from reality and takes joy in the little things, and also the one who is openly pretty full of himself and confident, as well as oblivious. It is thanks to Amy Pond that he survives his regeneration when he is trying to find his footing and how Prisoner Zero is defeated. He has eccentricities and also has some of the Tenth Doctor’s savvy, though he is much more of the child-like Doctor than David Tennant’s as everything is extreme with him, and he is earnest, even when he lies…which he does a lot. Matt Smith definitely deserves his place among the Doctors and is one of the most joyful to watch.

Amelia Pond / Amy Pond – We see Amy when she is a little girl, alone in her house with a haunting crack in her wall, and grown up when she’s a kiss a gram with a boyfriend. After watching this episode, I think some of the criticism against her character isn’t as deserved. She is Independent, to the point that she takes action when her boyfriend Rory does not, she risks the adventure at the end with the Doctor and she holds her own against Prisoner Zero…her boogeyman from childhood beyond the mysterious crack throughout the episode. The Doctor is only able to defeat Prisoner Zero because of Amy facing her fears making her an active agent with a lot of agency in this episode. Also, as a small thing…she’s the one pulling the Doctor and telling him to run, which is a nice subverting of the usual Doctor/Companion relationship. Karen Gillian is fantastic.

Rory – We only see him briefly, but he helps fight against Prisoner Zero with the evacuating of the hospital and he is the one who helps the Doctor figure out Prisoner Zero is masking itself from the Atraxi by tapping into people’s dreams who are in a coma. You see how powerless he feels for a lot of it too, as Amy doesn’t admit they are a couple to the Doctor. He still does quite well though and respects Amy.

Prisoner Zero – What an awesome baddie, this enemy who committed unknown crimes is the haunting space eel thing that can shape shift into multiple people, but can’t match the voices to the bodies. It is a good threat and wants to let the world burn rather than be caught again, so it’s motivation makes sense. It also gives the Doctor the warning that “Silence Will Fall,” which is a major plot point over Eleven’s Arc. The fact that it takes the Doctor and Amy together to defeat it along with the Atraxi is a testament to it’s power. Also it has the Moffat playing with senses deal as it’s true form can only be seen from the corner of your eye.

The Atraxi – Giant Space Crystal’s with large eyes…unless that is what their ships are…these guys are good Galactic Police as they cannot see beyond their own people until the Doctor reminds them that they can’t bully other planets or the Earth in their hunt for criminals or simply just because. He shows them the planet is defended.

The Doctor Revealed – The best reveal of the Doctor as a Time Lord happens in this, both as him visiting Amy as a child and when she is grown and his unawareness of how much time has passed, and at the end when the Atraxi scanning screen reveals how all the Numbered Doctors from 1-10 have defended the Earth. We see their images, ending on a big picture of Ten before Eleven walks through and tells them, “Basically, run.”

The cinematography – Is the best it’s ever been. This is a beautiful episode and it captures the mystery and subtext of scenes very well, as well as the threats of the Atraxi and Prisoner Zero.

The Music – This is some of Murray Gold’s best work, from Amy’s scene, to the Doctor Triumphant and the music inbetween. Definitely one of my favorite composers.

I highly recommend this episode. It keeps the fairy tale theme that is referenced in the episode, but unlike the fairy tale theme…the princess doesn’t need to be saved. The Doctor and Amy work together, and Rory too defeat the threats that appear and they are treated like fully fleshed out characters. Prisoner Zero is a great threat as are the Atraxi in their obliviousness and Matt Smith as the Peter Pan Doctor is a pleasure in all the joy he takes out of things. Definitely the best episode thus far…I’m curious how “Deep Breath” and the 12th Doctor are going to compare now…we shall see. Until then, bow ties are cool.

10 / 10. Good enemy, great Doctor, companions are partners against the threat, great music and cinematography, and establishes the Doctor as a Time Lord, that there were Doctor’s who came before, and his role as defender of the Earth.

11th Doctor

Guardians of the Galaxy (2014): A Masterpiece of Sci. Fi., Action and Comedy Gold

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I really want to see more of James Gunn’s movies after this. I haven’t seen any of his other stuff, but it has been a while since three things (sci. fi., action and comedy) have gone so well together. Marvel Studios you have done it again, and what a spectacular way to end the “Disney Marvel Franchise Adventure,” at least until “Ant-Man” and “Avengers 2: Age of Ultron,” later.

“Guardians of the Galaxy,” follows the story of Quill after he watches his mother die of cancer and he is kidnapped by aliens. In the future he has become an outlaw dubbing himself Star-Lord, from here he finds a device that a buyer has promised him a lot for which brings Gamora (one of the daughters of Thanos) and Rocket the Raccoon and Groot trying to capture the device. They all end up in prison where Drax’s attempt to kill Gamora allies them together to take out the main baddy Ronan who works for Thanos and wants to destroy Xandar, home of the Nova Corps. From here the story unfolds as their personalities collide.

Warning – Spoilers ahead

Here is the assessment of the film:

Pros: Drax – Who would have thought a professional wrestler would end up being an amazing actor. Dave Bautista owns this role and has a lot of comedic moments as his character doesn’t understand figurative expressions. He is the one who brings the team together too besides Rocket and Groot protecting Star-Lord because they want what he has. Drax is the most reckless of the group and more than a little insane. He also has a heart, that we get to see in the end and we know why he is the way he is since Ronan slaughtered his wife and child. Can’t wait to see what they do with this guy in the sequel. After Gamora saves his life she becomes part of the team to him too.

Rocket – Bradley Cooper is fantastic as the snarky, sarcastic raccoon with a major chip on his shoulder. His character is an inventor and was experimented on to become the creature he is today. This becomes a plot point when he gets really drunk in the outlaw hideaway Knowhere and Quill and the others finally understand what he is going through. There sticking up for him leads to him eventually them as family. He has a touching scene with Drax after Groot is gone and we see his humanity in a plant in a pot carries at the end.

Groot – “We are Groot,” is one of the best lines in the film and it is when Groot sacrifices his body so that the Guardians of the Galaxy will survive. He is the heart of the group and the one who acts for the best in any situation. Vin Diesel’s voice acting gives a lot to this role given for most of the film Groot can only say, “I am Groot,” in different inflections to get his point across.

Gamora – I want to know more about her relationship with Thanos given Thanos kidnapped her and destroyed her family in order to make her a weapon. Her sister Nebula I believe went through something similar. She is great as the guarded assassin but shows a lot of humanity. She is the one who reminds Quill that there is more to the galaxy than money, and teaches him the meaning of honor. They have a great complex friendship/romance and her friendship with the rest of the team, especially Drax who first sees her as an enemy, is a pleasure to watch. Zoe Saldana is once again fantastic in sci. fi.

The Collector and Knowhere – First Nowhere is a fantastic location. A Titan’s head made into a city as the organics are processed from it is a masterful idea. It makes sense the Collector would make this his home. He is creepy as always and shows us the device is a purple infinite stone of which there are six. When they are distracted his slave destroys everything having him finally face some accountability for treating people like objects. Knowhere is where Ronan arrives with Nebula and his army after Drax gives them a call. The Collector has a funny scene at the end too.

Nova Corps – Nova Corps is a like a futuristic military made up of mostly humans or humanlike aliens. Glenn Close plays Nova Prime and John Reilly plays Corpsmen Dey her unspoken second in command. When Ronan attacks having consumed an infinite stone (He is a Kree Zealot who sees the Xandar’s as needing to be cleansed). She risks everything including trusting the Guardians of the Galaxy to protect them from Ronan using the Infinite Stone to consume their world.

Nebula – Karen Gillian has a lot of range. I loved her as Amy Pond on Doctor Who and as Nebula…one of Thanos’s daughters who hates her sister Gamora and Thanos…she makes a complex baddy. She can also regenerate her body and escapes during the last battle managing to survive. We don’t know where her loyalties are, and I love that.

The Comedy – From Drax’s inability to understand language expressions, to Quill’s sarcasm, or Gamora’s obliviousness or Groot’s Grootness…contrasted by Rocket’s crazyness creates some great moments of comedy. Better comedy than “The Avengers,” for sure, which didn’t always know what tone it wanted.

The Final Battle – The final battle is fantastic and has a cost. Groot loses his body, the Nova Corps is decimated, and their capital is at least partially in ruins. There is the moment of awesome too when Drax, Quill, Gamora and Rocket use the power of friendship to contain the infinity stone and use it to destroy Ronan.

Quill / Star-Lord – This guy is wonderful. He starts out as the scoundrel and becomes the accidental hero. There is not a moment this guy is unfunny though. I love his arc in becoming a hero too since we do see much of his motivation is money. I really want to see Chris Pratt in other things now. Not much more to say, beyond his hero journey is fun and in the end he isn’t a total hero as he plans to do a little bit of good and a little bit of bad with the team.

The Music – Using the mixed tape that Quill’s mother gave him when she was alive we get some amazing 80’s music throughout the film, all the songs work perfectly and also contribute to the comedy too as Quill embraces every song so fully. I loved the soundtrack and plan on using it for writing inspiration.

Okay/Good – Ronan – Nebula is the Loki of this movie…Ronan is the Malekith. We know he’s a religously fanatical Kree who follows Thanos, but we don’t know what his religion fully intends. He hams it up perfectly though and is a great threat, since unlike Loki in “The Avengers,” this guy can actually succeed, and he nearly does.

Thanos – He is just a shadow in the background and doesn’t feel like a threat yet. We know he’s a powerful manipulator…but so is Loki. What sets him apart from Loki besides number of followers in the MCU? That is one thing I hope we learn as the Infinite Arc unfolds. He wasn’t bad, but he seemed powerless to do anything about Ronan’s betrayal, which was a shame…I was hoping he would come to Xandar to take the infinite stone himself and shut down his subordinate for the betrayal.

This is one of my favorite movies of the year, and in many ways on par with “Winter Soldier,” the only reason I can’t give it a ten is because within the Marvel Cinematic Universe H.Y.D.R.A. now feels like a much greater threat than Thanos. I would like that to change, since this guy is a destroyer of worlds. We’ll see what happens. Character, action and humorwise this film did everything it needed to do and I very highly recommend it.

My final score is 9.8 / 10. One of my new favorite films.