Monday, 3 February 2014

Arts Award - Reviewing Arts Events (The Day of the Doctor)

I am a huge Doctor Who fan. I have posters. I have the box sets. I have a TARDIS dressing gown, a sonic screwdriver, and even a model of Matt Smith in his Who get-up. I love Doctor Who. And I would say that I was excited for the 50th Anniversary special more than anything else that I'd ever seen.

And it did not disappoint.

The Day of the Doctor was a brilliantly written, impressively directed, and very important episode of Doctor Who. The writing was particularly inspired, and balancing so many plot threads so perfectly is no mean feat. The episode started with Clara and the Eleventh Doctor being carried off to the Tower of London in the TARDIS. This was an unnecessary, but ultimately very fun scene, that did make me laugh. The Doctor was shown a painting of his home planet, Gallifrey, being destroyed. Thanks to a very clever plot device in which real places can be locked inside a painting, we get a beautiful 3D effect of the painting that really does stand out.

The Tenth Doctor, meanwhile, is in Elizabethan England, and hanging out with ol' Liz herself. He seems to believe that she is in fact a Zygon, a shapeshifting alien, leading him to hurl a few unpleasant insults her ... She isn't a Zygon. But their horse is! This was a ridiculous introduction for the Tenth Doctor that was really quite good. Although, I was not that big a fan of Gwen Page as Elizabeth, and I think a better actress could have been used. She didn't do a very good job of disguising her Welsh accent. In fact, I'd go as far as saying that she was my least favourite part of the whole thing.

John Hurt as an earlier incarnation of the Doctor was amazing, and he contrasted brilliantly with the younger and more fun-loving 10th and 11th Doctors. A simply astounding actor, he is able to tell you a thousand things with just one look. But I can't not mention the impeccable Matt Smith, who holds his own against his comparitively more experienced co-stars, David Tennant and John Hurt. His portrayal of the character will be remembered for many years to come, and rightfully so - it's one of the best! The 'banter' between Smith and Tennant were joyful to watch, and I laughed out loud a number of times.

This story changed the past and future of the show forever, and it was exciting to watch. It was especially exciting to watch in a room filled with Doctor Who fans, in a building filled with Doctor Who fans, on a planet filled with Doctor Who fans, as we all watched exactly the same episode simultaneously. We all experienced it together, and it was a really great moment, that I will remember for a long time.

Suitable for everyone, this is one of the most amazing events I've ever been a part of. A 10/10.

Arts Award - Reviewing Arts Events (Gravity)

Gravity is a film like no other. I can't say I've seen many films that I could honestly say were completely different from anything I'd seen before. Gravity was an overwhelming experience, and one of my favourite films of 2013. I saw the film in 3D.

I'd heard all of the hype surrounding Gravity, but I for some reason wasn't hyped for it myself. I went to see it on a whim. I went into the cinema with no idea what to expect, having not even seen a trailer for it. I think that may have improved my viewing, not knowing what to expect. Whilst I thought the film was very tense and exciting, I would say that it would be more suited to slightly older teenagers and adults than children, as it was not a very conventional film. I would expect children to get slightly bored. I'd suggest that anyone aged 16+ would be able to enjoy this film.

Anyway, onto the review. We'll start with the cinematography - it's stunning. This is my favourite section of the film. Filled with super extreme long shots to emphasise how alone the main characters are. There are a lot of subtle things I noticed, such as how these establishing shots will be facing towards the Earth in scenes that reflect the characters' humanity, and out into the desolation of space when emphasising their loneliness. The whole first 17 minutes or so is all one continuous shot, and it is beautiful.

The sound is used to great effect too, building up tension by slowly building up the intensity of the music. And then abruptly cutting out, jarring you and reminding you of the unknown nature of space. The sound of breathing is also really significant in this film, as it is used to show when the characters are stressed. When they're stressed the breathing is fast, when they're calm the breathing is slow. It's a simple, yet brilliant little detail that just adds to the film.

The plot is the only slightly weak point in the film, and whilst I would say it's my least favourite part of the film, I don't think that matters. That's not what this film is about. It's supposed to be a very physical experience, and it was. I've never felt so immersed in a film, never so invested in a character. And Sandra Bullock's performance is really damn good.

Overall, a phenomenal film. I'd give it a 9/10.