Monthly Archives: November 2013

Doctor Who: 50th Anniversary

As you might have noticed from previous posts: I am a Whovian – a fan of the British (Sci-Fi) series Doctor Who.
A series about a time-traveling alien, a Timelord, (credited as Dr. Who, Doctor Who or The Doctor) that picks up (mostly) human companions to show them all of time and space in his spaceship the T.A.R.D.I.S (Time And Relative Dimension In Space), that also has the „convenient“ ability of completely changing his body (regenerating) when he is about to die.
Today (23.11.2013) it has been 50 years since the very first episode „An Unearthy Child“ aired (in 1963, with William Hartnell as Dr. Who) in British television.
Therefore:

Happy 50th anniversary Doctor Who!

And a big „Thank you!“ to all the people involved in the creation of this brilliant show, for all your hard work and efforts to make this show into this special something that it is!

Within the Who(ni)verse

I have to admit that I haven’t been in the Who(ni)verse for that long, but I blame that on the weird scheduling and synchronization of the German version of the episodes. It was either too early or too late for me to watch it. But I do not regret ever setting foot into this strange world. A world with brilliant characters, incredible stories and quite a strange fanbase…
The first ever episode that, I think, I watched was „Tooth and Claws“ with David Tennant as The Doctor. I decided to watch this episode because it had Werwolves in it and as I am actually not that much into Sci-Fi and more into Fantasy stuff I just wanted to see how they did that. Needless to say I was pretty confused by it and didn’t watch more of it for quite a while.
But as I still also had enjoyed watching it and some other snippets from flipping through the TV channels and I later wanted to know what all these quotes and pictures on Tumblr pages were about, I gave it another try.
And what can I say? I’ve been hooked ever since.
Christopher Eccleston’s Ninth Doctor with his grinning in the face of danger just made me keep watching. It’s a pity he’d only been with the show for one season, but it was a fantastic season.
He was succeeded by David Tennant, who smiled differently, but still had three seasons of great stories and companions, including my favourite: The utterly brilliant Catherine Tate as Donna Noble.
When Matt Smith took on the role as The Doctor it was strange, as there was a longer time to get accustomed to his predecessor as before. He was so different to both Nine and Ten, yet he put as much heart into the role as both of them. I enjoy his childishness and the way he can switch from goofy to serious in the blink of an eye. He had some really brilliant speeches throughout his run, but I think I still never completely warmed up to him. Especially with all this family-stuff going around him, but he still is a great Doctor.
As you can see, my experiences are more with New-Who than the classic series, which was never really broadcasted in Germany. Nevertheless I have seen a couple of episodes from the very first Doctor and the movie of the Eighth Doctor, Paul McGann, and of course scenes and stuff surrounding the other Doctors. When I have a little more time at hand I am going to watch the old stuff. (Some more thoughts on the classic Doctors here)

Specials everywhere

Anyway, this year – this day – marks the 50th anniversary of a show that managed to capture an audience all across the globe with its uniqueness. The special that will air later today is simultancast in about 80 countries, in cinemas and on television, and has many other specials accompanying it. But as I am not sure if I’ll be able to watch the The Day of the Doctor right away, I’ll only cover the other specials I have seen so far.
Many fans have created stuff to celebrate the anniversary throughout the year and this month especially. Among them Diana Dekajlo and Michael Nixon from Geek Crash Course, who made short clips about one of the Doctors each month and this month they made special videos, with additional information. For someone who hasn’t seen much of Classic-Who the monthly specials helped me to get a better overview about it. If you want to catch up before the big thing tonight, I highly recommend it.
The BBC itself obviously made many things for the celebration and I am pretty sure I don’t know every last bit of it.
The most intriguing thing they created were two prequels to the special:

The Night of the Doctor and The Last Day

As it is tradition for anniversaries in this one there will also be more than one Doctor: The Tenth, the Eleventh and an unknown incarnation that has been introduced in The Name of the Doctor – the last episode of the seventh season.
The Night of the Doctor adds a piece to the unknowns puzzle: It shows how the Eighth Doctor chooses to regenerate into the War Doctor, played by John Hurt.
After 17 years Paul McGann was given a chance at reprising his role from the TV movie and he did so brilliantly. I clearly wouldn’t mind seeing more of his adventures.
The Last Day shows Gallifrayan soldiers – I suppose – who discover that their worst enemy a Dalek, a being without consciousness and full of hate, had indeed managed to break through the impregnable barrier surrounding the city. With weird transmission signals interfering this one is quite bizarre and a bit creepy.
Judging from the trailers The Day of the Doctor includes the long foreshadowed, well rather after-shadowed, Time War. The war between Timelords and Daleks that effected all of creation until The Doctor ended it. By the time of The Night of the Doctor people seem to fear the Timelords as much as Daleks, which subsequently let to the choice the Eighth Doctor had to make. Incarnations Nine and Ten still suffered greatly from it and Eleven is at least capable of hiding it better than them.
Something that covered the beginnings of the show was the making-of-drama

An Adventure in Space and Time

written by the brilliant Mark Gatiss. It shows how Doctor Who was created in 1963, what struggles they had to go through until William Hartnell (portrayed by David Bradley) left the show. It was really interesting to watch, quite emotional at points and with a glorious finale, where (SPOILER if you still haven’t seen or read about it) the first Doctor takes a look across the TARDIS console and sees a glimpse into the future of what he was a part of creating, in the form of Matt Smith, fondly smiling back at him, before proceeding to turn switches on the console. (SPOILER END)
You just can see how much Gatiss is a fan of the show himself with all the effort he put into its writing. I clearly enjoyed it.
There are several more things that accompanies this landmark: An audio play from Big Finish Productions with the Doctors 4 to 8 called, The Light at the End for one and a lot of other stuff that I feel too lazy to add, just have a look at this compilation from BBC America: *click*.
I really look forward to watching The Day of Doctor, it will be spectacular and funny and weird and wibbly-wobbly-timey-wimey and so much more.
It will be especially weird to SEE John Hurt, as I only know his voice from Merlin – I know he was in Harry Potter too, but I haven’t seen his scenes in English yet – as gigantic dragon… I’m curious what that will be like. (Judging from trailers and stuff: It will probably take me a while to get used to it…)
If I find the time, I will write my thoughts on the special afterwards.
I hope you all have fun on this day, The Day of the Doctor! 🙂
PoiSonPaiNter

In Concert 2013: Avantasia – Berlin

As I said in the review for Letzte Instanz: I split apart what I wanted to write about the concerts I attended this year.
So here is the continuation of my reviews.

Journey to the Tempodrom…

For the next concert I did not find any company. I had asked a couple of people – even including a woman I know through giving lifts – but no one had time or was interested in it. Besides, with ~40 Euro the concert was my most expensive one so far. But it kind of was a reasonable price as the concert wasn’t only in the Tempodrom in Berlin, but also three hours long, with a good dozen of different musicians from all kind of bands. Well, if you read the list from the post above properly you know which concert this was: The long awaited Avantasia concert. 🙂 (Which I also mentioned in my review for their Album The Mystery of Time)

As Berlin is a bit further away then Rostock and I did not want to drive through the night I had asked Liathano if I could take up the offer she had given me for the Paganfest and stay at her place again, which I then did. When I was about to depart for the concert she and her boyfriend gave me instructions as to which train-thing (I think it was a tram) I needed to use to get there. I’m always nervous when I take these things alone and checked my notes a few times…

On my way to the Tempodrom a guy with an Avantasia shirt entered the train-thing as well and sat himself right across from me. I couldn’t help myself but to grin at him as we most likely would have the same destination. Especially as he even resembled Tobias Sammet – the mastermind behind the project – a little…
But before we exited the train I entertained a little kid that his mum had placed beside the scary looking black-clad person. He was moving around his stuffed doggy(?) and I was making faces accordingly. He even waved at me when they left. 😀
When we arrived at my final station Shirt-guy finally asked: „I guess we have the same destination?“ and we started talking about the band, it’s musicians and the question of where the hell we would have to go…
Let’s just say we struggled a bit with the actual direction, but in the end we did find the Tempodrom – after some asking around – on the other side of the road… 😀
There he said he’d meet up with friends and as they had tickets for the ranks and mine was for the arena itself I parted from him and entered the building.

The Tempodrom is a huge building which kind of resembles a circus tent. You have the stage on the far side, which is the entrance of the artists. In front of it there is a round flat area, the arena. And then the whole things is surrounded by the tribunes, with quite a number of seats. As I said, I had a ticket for the arena, so I made my way to a position where I could see well.

Soon enough the musicians entered the stage, but the audience didn’t really do the same. My guess is, that the arena was only half full, while the ranks were nearly empty. Tobias even claimed that a Berlin audience is always hard to catch and hard on the musicians, but that they still would give their best to turn the Monday into a Friday (or Saturday, I don’t remember, but it was something like that).

Pleasing the foreign audience

As he had seen a couple of foreign flags in the crowd Tobias also decided to use English for his (far too long) monologues. Well, I certainly don’t mind people from abroad to visit or be on concerts in different countries, but I don’t really get why a German musician would have to not talk in his native language just because of that. I don’t know if this counts as considerate on Tobi’s part or as simple misjudgement as to the amount of people with no knowledge of the German language in comparison to those who did. I mean, I don’t expect a musician to change into a different language, just because I’m waving a flag, showing that I am not native to this country. I go to the concert for the music, not for the ramblings of the artist – though Tobias is well known for long ramblings/rants…

To digress a moment I’d like to give you two examples of bands, who wouldn’t change the way they speak:
At the Blind Guardian concerts at Wacken and at the Metalfest the singer didn’t speak English, though he knew of the multinational audience. This might as well be due to the fact that he has quite a horrible accent, but still.
On the other hand, when Sabaton play in Germany they talk English with a few German words here and there, but if a German were to attend a concert of them in Sweden, I doubt they would do that throughout the whole concert. For a few things probably, but not for the whole thing.
In conclusion: I have no idea why he decided to switch to English, regardless of the people expecting him to use his mother’s tongue.

Three great hours

Regardless of that and the fact that he really talks a lot, the concert was great. Not as great as I had expected due to the weird atmosphere of a half-full location, but still great.
They played a nice mix of old and new songs – even some that are around 10 minutes long – and showed me that all those ballad-like songs from the latest album are indeed quite rock-ish (Black Orchid has become one of my favourites of the record). The songs just have so much more energy when played live, with all these brilliant musicians. I mean they had Kai Hansen, Michael Kiske, Bob Catley, Amanda Somerville, Eric Martin, Ronnie Atkins and more.

It was great to see and especially hear all these amazing singers.
It was also great that some of the songs where usually Tobias sings the main part in the vocals were sung by other people and I have to say that those sounded even better.
The chemistry between the musicians was also quite amazing.
Even when Bob had just finished his first part their wonderful duet The Story Ain’t Over and it was time for Tobias to sing his part, but he instead just started laughing, Bob took over for him. Ronnie and Eric joked about Tobias‘ endless monologues and so on. You could just see that, even though there were not as much people as they had expected, they still enjoyed playing for the audience. And it is always fun to see Catley perform. He is always smiling and moves his hand according to the rhythm of the lyrics. 🙂

During their song Stargazers, a song that I don’t like that much, I got out to get some water – only to realize at my return that there also was a bar within the arena and I wouldn’t have had to go outside…
Though it gave me the chance to see that there were still a few people standing outside, for whatever reasons, but they wouldn’t have managed to fill up the arena either.

Anyway, some of my highlights, beside the ones I’ve already mentioned, were definitely: The Scarecrow, Twisted Mind, Dying for an AngelThe Seven Angels and Sign of the Cross. Unexpectedly also What’s Left of Me, due to the amazing performance of Eric Martin.
On a side note: I shortly wondered why the actor Benedict Cumberbatch was sitting on the stage, when Eric had first appeared…
In my defence: I just saw the the short black hair and was strangely reminded of him. And I didn’t know the faces of all of the musicians. I rarely do, because it’s about their voices not their looks…

Well, after the concert when I went back to the station – which I found through following random people and again asking for directions – I saw the guy from before again, typing away on his phone. Until he had to get off the train we continued our conversation, this time obviously about the concert itself. He was positively surprised that they had played so many of their longer (~10 min) songs, but I assured him that they also did that during their performances at Wacken, which was much shorter than the concert here.
When we parted again he said that we’d see us again when Avantasia would return to Berlin, but I doubt I would recognize him again…I can’t even remember what his name was….

Even with all the slightly negative stuff I mentioned, I really enjoyed the concert and I’d like to see them again one day. Maybe in four years, as Tobias had promised during the concert. 😀

PoiSonPaiNter

Thor: The Dark World

This time a quite on time review about Thor: The Dark World as I have just watched it in the cinema.

But before I start I’d like to say: Back in 2011 I refused to watch the Thor movie, due to my dislike for Marvels approach on the myths. I only did it because someone in The Forum claimed it would be essential for understanding The Avengers, which I’d really wanted to see. So I borrowed a copy of the DVD from Iron Eve and watched it the day before we went into the cinema.
And what can I say?
Looking at it as just a movie it was pretty entertaining.
I only had to not think about it as Marvels (crippled) version of the Norse Mythology, (otherwise I’d be pretty much like the comic artist Humon in this comic).
For the Marvel Cinematic Universe to move on they had to continue with stories about the supposedly demi-gods of Space-Asgard.
So one kind of had to at least watch it to see if there is any major link from this towards the next Avenger movie.
My reasons for actually watching it in the theater were kind of weak…

#1 Christopher Eccleston plays the villain: As I probably won’t get to see „The Day of the Doctor“ I at least wanted to see „my“ Doctor on the big screen.
#2 Tom Hiddleston reprises his role as Loki: Apart from the fact, that Hiddleston is a brilliant actor, the character is pretty fun, but more to that later.

So much for my motivation to see this movie…*cough*

But what’s the movie about?

One of the official posters.

(If you can’t guess from the meaningful trailer)

Unsurprisingly Thor: The Dark World or Thor 2 is the continuation of the events of Thor and The Avengers. The nine realms went into chaos after the Byfrost (The Rainbow Bridge of Asgard, that is used for travelling between realms) was destroyed and Thor and his Warriors Three and the Lady Sif have to sort it out after it was repaired, while Loki is put into prison underneath the palace. All the while life on Earth continues and we meet Jane Foster, Darcy Lewis and Dr. Eric Selvig again, trying to cope with live after everything that had happened. While doing that Jane discover an anomaly and is transferred to a different realm where she accidentally re-awakens an old power source called the Aether, which then inhabits her.

With it the Dark Elve Malekith awakens as well, striving to get a hold of it. Long before the current events his kind has battled Odins father Bor to gain control over it. He wanted to return the universe into the state of darkness it was before the light and the realms were created and for that he needed the Aether and a special constellation of all the realms, the so called convergence, when all realms are within a straight line, which is coincidentally close by.

So all the hammer-wielding hero needs to do to save the day: Free the imprisoned brother, save the girl and stop the elve.

The watching experience

As I don’t really have much time the upcoming weeks I spontaneously decided to go this week. Eve would have accompanied me, but didn’t get my message in time so I went on my own, which had the only downside that I couldn’t discuss it right away with someone. But that’s beside the point.

The movie was in 3D, again, but it could have worked just as well without it. Some scenes were nice to look at, but most of it was nothing special.
Additionally, it was pretty weird to read the 3D-subtitles used for the Elvish.

Which brings me to the point that you could at least hear Ecclestons voice throughout those scenes, while everything else was dubbed. The German dub is quite well done though, especially Peter Lontzek, the voice actor of Hiddleston in all three movies, does a great job as he manages to capture quite a bit of the original portrayal of the character.

Other than that it was not surprising how empty the cinema was (roughly 20 people), even though the movie had only started a week ago. Even less surprising was the number of men compared to women, the movie is after all aimed more at men and as by now most people knew that there always comes a scene after the credits quite a few waited for it.

The characters

Let’s start this part with Thor, so I am done with that. And yes, I don’t like him. But that has nothing to do with Hemsworths way of portraying him, which he does quite well, and more with the fact that I generally don’t like main characters. What we see of him throughout the three movies is just not enough to make him remotely likable for me. At one point in the story my brain even shortly went into a sing-song of „Thor is being clobbered. Thor is being clobbered.“ before I told it to stop and quietly enjoy the scene. Still this movie had some nice scenes that made him a bit less shallow and a bit deeper, but those were more thanks to his interaction with Loki.
Also his movie relationship with Jane is just plain weird. I mean: They knew each other for like three days, from what I’ve read about the comics, this whole things makes a bit more sense, but movie-wise it’s far too rushed. But I better stop right here before I get completely Off Topic. Again: This is my dislike for the characters, NOT the actors. They still do a pretty good job.

Loki on the other hand is a completely different matter. For a semi-side character he is shown to have quite an emotional depth, though that might come from Hiddlestons portrayal of him, which I think is utterly brilliant. You kind of can see all the suffering he is put through, yet he still manages to surprise the audience with his actions. Apart from that do I simply like this kind of character and I already rambled enough about it in my post about Faust’s Mephisto – which also was my first encounter with a character of this kind. I also drifted into the topic again when I introduced our devilish character from the book I’m co-writing – and yes he is based on Mephisto not Loki.

As mentioned above my other reason for watching this movie was Christopher Eccleston playing Malekith the Dark Elve. Apart from the fact that I imagine Dark Elves to not be blond and pale, he had far too little screen time, but what little he had was quite interesting. You couldn’t completely understand his reasoning as the movie kind of rushed through that part and as Icewolf put it so nicely: One could ask if he exchanged his brain with a wet bread roll during his sleep as he simply tried to do the same thing again after his first failure. Only this time getting into trouble with the offspring of those that had defeated him the first time.
And it was fun to see him attack London, a city that Eccleston had saved as The Doctor before. 😀
By the way: Is the English version of his name pronounced with „th“? They kind of dropped the „h“ in German.

In this movie they tried to include the side characters a bit more.
We learn a bit about Hogun. We see a bit more of what Sif thinks about/feels for Thor. We learn how protective everyone is about him, with a quite funny queue-joke. And we learn that even though Zachary Levi replaced Josh Dallas it didn’t really make a difference. Though I buy the philandering Fandral a bit more from Levi.
What we also learn is that Dr. Selvig apparently didn’t take Lokis mind control as well as Hawkeye, but judging from the post credit scene of Thor the „god“ might have stayed with him a little longer than the Chitauri invasion. All of this resulting in quite some hilarious scenes. Another unintentionally funny scene was when Jane tried to date someone, who is none other than Chris O’Dowd, known as Roy from The IT Crowd, which was quite a nice surprise as I hadn’t expected him to be part of the movie.

One of the visually most beautiful scenes concerned Frigga, the (adopted) mother of Thor and Loki. We learn a bit more about her and her relationship with her husband and son(s). I don’t know how much Joss Whedon(, who is said to have re-written some of the scenes) had a say in those scenes but it looked pretty much like his writing…

All in all the characters gained a bit more colour throughout this movie, though Darcy still is pretty much only a comic-relief character.
And even Hugin and Munin, Odins ravens, had a proper cameo this time. 😀
And speaking of cameos: Stan Lee’s was pretty fun again, too.

General opinion

The movie again was fun to watch. It had pretty great humor and action, but also conveyed some parts with much emotions. It all felt a bit rushed at times (e.g. the Frigga scene) and was mostly carried forward through character interaction, but I can live with that. I don’t mind seeing it again this time with the original voices, as that is always a bit different.

However, I still prefer the Myth-version of the characters and stories. Marvel does well in creating a world that makes sense on its own, but it still has this weird aftertaste of wrongness. Especially as Marvel leaves out all the fun: The Horse, the Cross-dressing and the Monster Babies. 😀

Stuff I’d like to add

Apparently the movie was released in Germany/Europe before it was broadcasted in the States. Which doesn’t happen that often and quite surprised me upon finding out.

And „The Dark World“ is a „Kingdom“ in the German version, for whatever reason.

They also had a funny advertisement before the movie:
They showed a trailer for Call of Duty and started with a shot if a satellite called „Odin“ and who was the narrator? Odin >_< (Or at least his German voice actor.)

PoiSonPaiNter

© Rights for the poster belong to Marvel.