STAR TREK: DISCOVERY, 1.1 – “The Vulcan Hello” (Netflix Review)

Streaming on UK Netflix from: Monday 25th September 2017

Story by: Bryan Fuller and Alex Kurtzman

Teleplay by: Akiva Goldsman and Bryan Fuller

Directed by: David Semel


 

LIGHT THE BEACON

“They are coming.”

After a century of only fleeting interaction between the Starfleet of Earth and the warriors of the Klingon Empire, a war is on the horizon as the Klingons pursue a “crusade of self-preservation” against those who purport to “come in peace.” Captain Philippa Georgiou’s (Michelle Mechanic: Resurrection Yeoh) USS Shenzhou is the Federation starship which first encounters the oncoming storm…

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THE HANDMAID’S TALE, 1.1 – “Offred” (TV Review)

Channel 4 – 9pm – Sunday 28th May 2017

Teleplay by: Bruce Miller

Based on the novel by: Margaret Atwood

Directed by: Reed Morano


 

BREEDING STOCK

As intrigued as I was by its release (and Channel 4’s acquisition for UK transmission), I am a week behind on Hulu/MGM’s new ten-part adaptation of Margaret Atwood’s speculative dystopian novel because I wanted to view the 1990 film version first. While not out-and-out disappointed by the Natasha Richardson-starring production (which you can read my review of HERE), my enjoyment was tempered by the outdated feel which crippled the suspension of my disbelief and meant I never felt truly engaged enough to appreciate the abject horror of the notion. A reader on my blog commented that I should still give the new series a try, as it improved upon the earlier attempt.

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THE GRAND TOUR, 1.1 – “The Holy Trinity” (Amazon Video Review)

Image result for the grand tour episode 1

71mins – Amazon Video – Streaming from Friday 18th November

Hosted by: Jeremy Clarkson, Richard Hammond, James May

Produced by: Andy Wilman

Directed by: Phil Churchward, Brian Klein


 

BACK IN THE DRIVER’S SEAT

“I can see clearly now the rain has gone” rather arrogantly boasts the theme tune as persistent motor-mouth and infamous producer-puncher Jeremy Clarkson finds a new platform for him and his car-crazy bezzie mates to bicker, banter and blaze around race tracks in blooming expensive vehicles for an hour every week.

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CLASS, 1.1 – “For Tonight We Might Die” (TV Review)

BBC Three – available from 22nd October 2016

Created and written by: Patrick Ness

Directed by: Ed Bazalgette


A DOCTOR CALLS

Arriving in a blaze of hype and publicity this third recent-times spin-off from the BBC’s flagship sci-fi drama may suffer from the most bland and unimaginative title ever, but it does boast perhaps the strongest continual link to its parent show, set as it is in Coal Hill Academy, a stalwart of the long-running serial right up to its most recent run, with Clara Oswald and Danny Pink both teaching there, and even the Doctor (Peter Capaldi) briefly becoming a caretaker.

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Porco Rosso (DVD Review)

PG – 94mins – 1992


 

THE CRIMSON PIG

“I don’t fight for honour – I fight for a pay check!”

Italian WWI ex-fighter pilot Marco Rossolini (Michael Keaton) is an anti-fascist now living as a hostage-rescuing freelance bounty hunter, spending his days chasing “air pirates” in his Savoia S.21 above the Adriatic Sea. Written and directed by Studio Ghibli head Hayao Miyazaki, Porco Rosso is based on his own 3-part Manga, Hikōtei Jidai, and could easily pass as an ode to history and aviation, were it not for the fact that the lead character is cursed by “divine punishment” into the form of an anthropomorphised pig!

“God was telling you it wasn’t your time yet…”

Despite this single concession to fantasy, Porco Rosso is otherwise fairly geographically and historically accurate, with a surplus of politically-charged dialogue giving it the air of a satire. It’s a pity that a succession of “outsider” quips and tiresome “pig-headed” wordplay diminishes any deeper and more complex subtext by overstating the ‘pigs might fly’ comedy. In my opinion, that’s a single joke stretched waaaay too far.

Elsewhere there are flashes of sensitivity and sympathy (“Maybe I’ve just run out of tears,”), even if Keaton dubs Rocco with suave indifference. Irritatingly, there are also further glimpses of some outmoded sexism (“Don’t you have any males relatives?”; “We’re not baking a cake here,”) – but at least, unlike Ocean Waves, this was set in a less open-minded time period.

As is to be expected from the Japanese anime giants, the film is animated gorgeously, however some overly cartoonified injury detail does diminish the honour of Porco’s climatic dual-cum-bareknuckle-fistfight with love rival Curtis (Cary Saw Elwes). Nevertheless, Porco Rosso’s charm carries it through; this is still more swell than swill – and I’m not bacon that up! Ahem.

CR@B’s Claw Score: 3 stars