Wednesday, 21 October 2015


Title:  Moon
Director:  Duncan Jones
Released:  2009
Starring: Sam Rockwell, Kevin Spacey, Dominique McElligott, Kaya Scodelario, Benedict Wong, Matt Berry, Malcolm Stewart

Plot: In 2035 an alternative fuel helium-3 has solved the oil crisis, while the automated facility setup to mine this fuel source on the Moon is watched over by a lone astronaut Sam Bell (Rockwell) who is currently coming to the end of his three year work contract when he begins to suspect that everything might not be as it seems.


Review:  The feature debut of director Duncan Jones, who it seems is  another director who will despite receiving a large amount of critical acclaim for this films to date, still never seems to be a name that makes anyone one’s top 5 lists with his films no doubt being better known than the man himself. Jones is also another director who like Spike Jonze and David Fincher before him also comes from a background in commercials and as a result brings with him for this debut a very visual driven film while also one which recalls the blue collar sci-fi movies such as Silent Runnings, Dark Star and Alien which it would seem were all a clear inspiration for this film.

Sam is every bit the blue collar astronaut who has worked his long stint at the facility alone with only the base computer GERTY (Spacey) for company he longs to return to Earth to see his wife Tess (McElligott) who he receives the occasional recorded message from, with any live feed having long since been disabled due to communication issues on the base. Despite the isolation Sam is generally happy in his work, finding distractions around the base such as his model making and talking to his plants when not required to do the occasional bit of manual labour. However things might not be exactly what they seem Sam soon discovers thanks to a world shattering discovery.

Okay to really get into this film there are going to be some spoilers throughout this review so in case you haven’t seen this film already I will urge you now to check it out and then come back to read to read the rest as while this film largely rests on a twist, its one which opens the door to a much larger aspect of the film much like the discovery of the hatch in “Martyrs”. So please consider yourself warned as spoilers lie ahead.

Its during what would appear to be a routine repair that Sam suddenly makes a startling discovery as finding a crash rover he is surprised to find that the astronaut driver is himself. What follows is where the film really gets interesting as Sam is faced with working with his exact double to discover what is happening on the base, while at the same time knowing that a supposed rescue party could also equally be a clean-up crew from the company. At the same time Sam is faced with the knowledge that he is a clone in an endless cycle while the real Sam is back on Earth, let alone the three year work contract is nothing but a cover used by the company so that clone will voluntary disintegrate themselves under the guise of being sent home, while another clone is awoken to take their place.

The twist here is certainly being a surprising one it’s also one which adds a whole new level to the film as the two clones are forced to work together to figure out their situation and the secret behind what is happening at the base. At the same time while they might be clones their personalities are wildly different with the senior Sam being quite mellow and laid back in his attitude, while the new Sam is quick to angry and frequently aggressive which it would seem that the original Sam was prior to finding an inner peace during his work contract as further hinted at in one of the recordings from his wife on Earth. It really only makes it the more surprising that Rockwell didn’t get an Oscar nod for his performance which is yet another standout to rival his scene stealing role in “The Way Way Back”. Here though he manages to top it by giving us two sides to the same character let alone the fact he’s acting with himself. Equally enjoyable is Kevin Spacey’s performance as the HAL-like Gerty who despite giving the impression of another cold and emotionless machine shows a surprisingly high amount of emotion despite only ever speaking in monotone. Sam’s relationship with Gerty is a confusing one as it’s never explained why he is so loyal to Sam and frequently willing to break company guidelines to help him when its fully expected that such a machine would be free of any kind of emotion. Its a point which is also frustratingly never explained here.

Despite the fact that I’ve no doubt made this sound way more complex than it is, this is surprisingly a straightforward yet undeniably stylish film, which is only made the more impressive by the fact that Jones shot the film on a budget of a mere $5 million which the end result certainly rivals that of a more mainstream production, with Jones using his background to full potential here it would seem as he crafts a complete world on limited sets of sterile whites with the occasional burst of personalisation that Sam has chosen to add and the result unquestionably makes this an immerse film to watch as you find yourself pulled into this isolated world.

A stunning and intelligent debut this film really marked out Jones as a talent to watch and a promise which he
followed up with the equally enjoyable “Source Code” though it remains to be seen at the time of writing if he can bring the same visionary direction to the fantasy world with his forthcoming adaption of “World of Warcraft”. That being said this is an impressive debut and one which manages to dance around the usual sci-fi cliché’s to present a believable vision of the future in what Jones has hinted at being the first film of a proposed trilogy making it only the more tantalising to see where he would take the story next.

Monday, 19 October 2015

Elwood's Essentials #12 - Scream

Title:  Scream
Director:  Wes Craven
Released:  1996
Starring: David Arquette, Neve Campbell, Courteney Cox, Matthew Lillard, Rose McGowan, Skeet Ulrich, Drew Barrymore, Jamie Kennedy

Plot: One year after her mother’s murder Sidney (Campbell) finds herself wondering if there is a connection between her mother’s murder and a new spate of murders being carried out, as both Sidney and her friends soon find themselves being targeted by the killer.

Review: While it might not seem it today “Scream” is unquestionably an important horror film let alone one  which was released when horror was essentially a dead genre. The genre itself having long since sunk into cliché characterisation and plotting leaving all but the most hardcore of horror fans tuning out. However this films release came as something as a breath of fresh air to the genre as it acknowledged with almost a knowing wink the rules which had been established by the films which came before it while at the same time feeling like giving the audience something new and fresh as it toned down the violence and nudity which had been such a key element of the 80’s in exchange for genuine tension and shocks.

At the time of its release Wes Craven had like his preferred genre seemingly lost his edge as one of the original masters of horror as he floundered with attempts to revitalise “The Nightmare on Elm St.” franchise with the meta “Wes Craven’s New Nightmare” to mixed reception, while his newer films such as “Vampire In Brooklyn” and “Shocker” seemed to lack the same magic of his early films which had established his name as a horror director of note. Here though he seems to have fully rediscovered his mojo as here he attempts to reinvent with some considerable success the slasher movie while at the same time giving the horror community a new icon with the “Ghostface” killer.

Right from the start Craven is keen to ensure that he keeps the audience guessing as he opens with the now legendry death of Drew Barrymore who had been marketed as being the lead character in all the promotional for the film ensuring that her death not only made for an opening which grabbed its audience by the throat especially if they hadn’t had it spoiled ahead of time, which frustratingly seemed to happen for most viewers thanks to the gory payoff. However it’s the simplicity of this opening in which Barrymore’s airhead high school student is forced to answer horror questions in an attempt to save her life as well as that of her boyfriend tied up on the porch, while the mysterious caller reminds her of horror movie conventions which he soon proceeds to play out as she finds herself unwittingly drawn into her own horror movie.
Sidney while on the surface might seem like another typical final girl, here she is not so much the shy and retiring virgin, as she is introduced having a heated relationship with her boyfriend Billy (Ulrich) but one which has been severely hampered by the death of her mother, leaving her emotionally unwilling to take things further despite Billy’s best attempts. Billy on the other hand is perhaps one of the big flaws here…okay lets just accept that there will be spoilers from here, but then like “The Sixth Sense” and “The Empire Strikes Back” it’s a twist is now pretty much common knowledge. That being said Billy is so obviously the killer from the first time we see him, while Ulrich’s who had been cast due to his similarity in looks to Johnny Depp and who here attempts for dark and moody instead end up coming off more psycho, let alone the fact he continues that bizarre 90’s trend of guys coming in through bedroom windows, having started with “Clarissa Explains It All” and continues here as we are left wondering why no one can seemingly use a darn door! 
Sidney and her friends are all interesting in their own way, while at the same time seemingly written to avoid the usual cliché archetypes (the jock, the slut etc) with perhaps Randy (Kennedy) being the exception here as the film geek and whose role other than to provide the humour quota is to fill in the gaps in the audience horror movie knowledge as he so memorably outlines the rules for surviving a horror movie at the finale party. This however is not to say that any of them are any less disposable than your usual slasher cast, it’s just they are more interesting and developed than most. Even outside of the main group we still have some great moments with Tatum’s (McGowan) dim witted police officer brother Dewey (Arquette) and driven news reporter Gale Weathers (Cox) whose luminous green suit I only somehow noticed on this recent rewatch, while leaving me wondering if this could ever have been considered a good look.
One of the standout elements back when the film was released was how toned down the violence was, especially compared to the splatter of the 80’s and at the same time the highly suggested scenes of violence we get here don’t leave you with the feeling that your missing something with the opening drawn out death scene undeniably more haunting to watching than had it been a splatter heavy quick kill. That being said Craven still knows when to tease the audience and when something more graphic is required such as the scene in which Billy and Stu (Lillard) take turns stabbing each other, which is shot with such an unflinching eye that the fact that Craven refuses to cut away only adds to the rawness of the scene. At the same time when it comes the death scenes themselves the film really works for maximum effect with most of them coming with a certain amount of a chasing or tormenting before the payoff. At the same time there is also a real sense of originality and even now most of them still as fresh as they did when the film was released even if Tatum getting stuck in the catflap is none the less amusing even after numerous viewings.

True this isn’t the most perfect film with the twist over whose the killer being essentially signposted with Billy coming off as more of a characture than an actual real character, with the real mystery here being why they are carrying out the killing rather than whose actually doing them, but even that doesn’t really make a huge amount of sense and is only stopped from being more of a detriment thanks to the rest of the film being such a fun and entertaining ride. Equally while the film is supposedly following the rules of a slasher, its interesting that despite emphasising the rule that if you have sex you die, Sidney only finds the empowerment to defeat the killers after she has sex with Billy, equally this is not so much of a gripe seeing how it abolishes the idea of the virginal beauty being the final girl, it was just strange to see the film establish its rules only to break them for some tasteful titillation.

While this film seems to have been written off by many horror fans due to its popularity, let alone the spot on parody of “Scary Movie” (which was also the original title for this film) which burned this film and “I know What You Did Last Summer” which left most people with more than a humorous impression of what this film was like.  However it cannot be ignored how this film would revitalise the horror genre, while inspiring a wake of imitators such as the aforementioned “I Know What You Did Last Summer”, “Urban Legend” and err “Valentine” all which would fail to capture what Craven gives us here, which even Craven himself would fail to replicate even despite “Scream 2” coming close this remains not only an important film within the horror genre, but also a reminder that the horror genre can still produce a surprise like this even when mired in cliché.

Tuesday, 13 October 2015

Men, Women and Children

Title:  Men, Women and Children
Director:  Jason Reitman
Released:  2014
Starring: Rosemarie DeWitt, Jennifer Garner, Judy Greer, Dean Norris, Adam Sandler, Ansel Elgot, Kaitlyn Dever, Emma Thompson, J.K Simmons, Jason Douglas, Shane Lynch, Dennis Haysbert, Phil LaMarr, Olivia Crocicchia, Elena Kampouris, Travis Tope, Tina Parker, Will Peltz, Kurt Krakowian

Plot: A group of High School Teenagers and their parents attempt to deal with their issues, with the film taking the slant of how they all choose to use the internet and technology to chase their goals and deal with their issues.

Review: After riding high for so long since he made his directorial debut with the sadly now underappreciated “Thank you for Smoking” aswell as the trilogy of films he made with Diablo Cody which lead to the pair affectionately calling themselves “Team Juno”. However despite the success he’s had as a director Reitman remains a director who few people would be able to name a film he directed let alone name him in their top 5 list, which is something of a shame considering how he has constantly produced entertaining and Whitty social satires and here attempts to do the same again, only to stumble at the first fence by choosing to make the internet the focus of this latest film.

The problem with choosing to make a film based around technology is that its development moves so fast that by the time the films released its already out of date. At the same time unless you’re making a film dripping in techno babble and flair you risk the audience thinking that you’re in some way talking down to them, which seems to be the main bug bare for those folks who don’t like this movie, feeling it take the luddite approach to how it views the internet and its characters use of it. That being said if you can just get your head around what feels like quite a dated approach to the internet, much like you have to get around characters not knowing how to use the internet in “Perfect Blue” there is actually a lot to enjoy here.

Opening on Don played here by Adam Sandler giving us one of his rare straight performances, as he uses his son’s computer to search for porn, while Emma Thompson’s gives her opening narration while her well-spoken British accent only adds a unintentional comedic edge to the scene much like many of the scenes in which her sporadically used narration appears throughout the film. Don’s porn use we soon discover is part of his attempts to deal with the issues in his marriage to Helen (DeWitt). The pair soon choosing to find their own solutions with Helen opting to use “Ashley Madison” while Don finds satisfaction through escort services. At the same time their son Chris (Tope) finds himself no longer able to get aroused without the extreme porn he’s long since graduated onto as the result of his long term obsession with internet porn. Elsewhere Hannah (Crocicchia) is desperate to be famous, while her mother Joan (Greer) lives her own failed dreams as an actress by now channeling through her daughter, who she takes risqué pictures off for her daughters website unaware of how the pictures are being viewed.

While these main stories are all pretty standard, with the film suprisingly not opting for the same porn shaming angle that “Don Jon” randomly threw at its audience, this is still not a film without a misguided opinion thrown into the mix as here the paranoia aspect of internet usage is represented by Brandy’s (Dever) over-protective mother Patricia (Garner) who remotely monitors her daughters phone and internet usage, even deleting messages from her obsessed gamer boyfriend Tim (Elgot). Tim of course has his own issues like everyone else in the film as he uses an MMORPG to escape the reality of having to deal with the fallout of his parents’ divorce, which lead his to quit as the school star football player and now leaves him the constant target of his former team mates.

As I mentioned already this is a film which needs you to ignore how some of the information is presented and instead view it as more of a connecting plot device, especially when the enjoyment comes from the interactions these characters have and how each other and how their individual stories unfold. At the same time it’s a vein of natural humour which runs throughout with Reitman forgoing his usual Whitty dialogue and instead relies on the charm and performances of his cast to keep the audience’s attention. That being said we do get several darkly comedic moments such as Chris attempting to cure his impotence issues by attempting to have sex with a lubed up football.

The stories themselves are all interesting and while each one focuses on a different aspect of the internet, you never get the feeling that Reitman is trying to make any kind of major statement on the dangers of the internet or how we’ve all become slaves to it now that it has worked its way into never every aspect of our day to day lives.  I guess the closest film that I could compare this to would unfortunately be “Crash” only atleast this one does suffer from the same smugness and attempt to pull some kind of surprise revelations like the “We’ll All Racists” revelation that “Crash” tried to pull off. Instead this is a film which wears its messages in plain view and leaves it for the audience themselves to decide on where they stand on the characters actions than trying to drive home any kind of opinion we are supposed to have about any of them.

True this is far from a perfect movie while some moments such as the overly melodramatic suicide attempt by one character, while Garner’s overbearing Patricia at times come off as more of a cartoon villain than a concern parent, especially when she goes into her rant about the danger of online gaming in particular what an avatar is supposed to represent.

While this is far from Reitman’s best film to date, it is equally not as bad as it has unfairly been made out to be, though for newcomers I would recommend starting with one of his earlier films than this one.

Sunday, 11 October 2015

From Beyond

Title:  From Beyond
Director:  Stuart Gordon
Released:  1986
Starring: Jeffrey Combs, Barbara Crampton, Ken Foree, Ted Sorel, Carolyn Purdy-Gordon

Plot: Dr. Edward Pretorius (Sorel) has created “The Resonator”, a machine which allows people to see beyond normal perceptible reality. However when the initial test run goes wrong leaving Pretorius decapitated and his assistant Dr. Crawford Tillinghast (Combs) committed to a psych ward. Now released into the custody of Dr. Katherine McMichaels (Crampton) she sets out to find out more about the experiment they were running.


Review:  Why is it that Stuart Gordon never seems to receive the same amount of respect as his “Masters of Horror” counterparts? It’s something that has constantly confused me especially when he was responsible for giving the world “Re-Animator”. A film which in turn would become the first of his “H.P. Lovecraft” adaptations for whom he has remained a source of constant obsession for the director, with this film once again being based on a Lovecraft short story, originally published in “The Fantasy Fan” in 1934.

Shot back to back with “Dolls” in Italy and with an Italian crew as part of a cost cutting measure which Gordon has stated helped him keep the film under budget as what would have cost fifteen million dollars ended up costing around two and a half million instead. Still its a simple enough “Horrors of Science” story with “The Resonator” enables those in its field to enter into an alternative dimension and of course this being based on a Lovecraft tale means that monsters are very much the order of the day. What makes this film standout though is the approach that Gordon chooses to take with the material which is strange to say the least.
Opening with Crawford switching on the machine for the first time and soon discovering the first of the creatures on the other side taking the form of a flying moray eel, which almost immediately attacks him, which honestly would be enough for most folks to call it a day. However Pretorius has other ideas as he insists on a second test which soon goes horribly wrong, while more humorously incurring the wrath of their neighbour who ventures over in her rollers to shout at them some more and get her dog back which for some reason or another feels the need to run over there. What only adds to this opening is when she runs in terror from their house seemingly in slow motion, that is until you see Crawford barrelling down the stairs behind her and you realise that she’s just in fact that slow. As great as this opening is it does have the downside of essentially giving the mystery away and means that we pretty much know what the group is going to encounter when they return to the house.

Gordon really works the potential of the short story (a whopping seven pages) with some interesting additions of his own, let alone bringing the story into the present day. That being said it’s the plotting of this film which were the film falls apart as how he chooses to play the story is frequently quite baffling with the opening being the major one for myself seeing how it effectively kills any mystery the film has within its opening ten minutes, so that when Crawford returns to the house / lab with Katherine we already know to an extent what they are in for. For some reason we also get an S&M element added to the story with Pretorius having his own dungeon and which seems to only have been included so that Gordon had an excuse for Katherine to dress up randomly in some sexy leather gear, when suddenly appears to be possessed. I suppose Gordon does try and balance things out by giving us Ken Foree running around in the smallest pair of pants ever.

As I’ve mentioned already, the other side which “The Resonator” opens the door to comes with a host of intresting monsters and which thanks to the work of four different special effects teams and effects created by John Carl Buechler who here comes close to besting those designed by Rob Bottin for “The Thing” which still remains the benchmark for practical effects. That being said there the effects on show here are still extremely impressive as Buechler combines practical effects with elements of stop motion all of which still look great especially with the more gooey effects.  The centrepiece here though is Pretorius who returns in a heavily mutated form and one which continues to change as the film progresses as he unleashes a variety of interesting mutated appendages. As well as Pretorius who provides a suitably demented villain we also get a giant worm thing in the basement which keeps things fun when you have Crawford and Bubba (Foree) battling it with Bubba in just those lovely underpants no less.
While this film might not be in the same league as “Re-Animator” its still fun enough to balance out the negatives such as the aforementioned horrible plotting which at times doesn’t seem to know which way to take the film, especially when logic and plausibility are seemingly afterthoughts here. That being said if you’re in the mood for slimy monsters and strange mutations then this one delivers in spades while making you wonder why Gordon remains so overlooked when it comes essential horror directors.

Wednesday, 7 October 2015


Part of "Simplistic Reviews" Horror Time Capsule check them out!!

Title:  Valentine
Director:  Jamie Blanks
Released:  2001
Starring: David Boreanaz, Denise Richards, Marley Shelton, Hedy Burress, Jessica Cauffiel, Katherine Heigl

Plot: Five girls who rejected the school geek at the school dance now years later find themselves being targeted by a mysterious Cherub-mask wearing killer.

Review:  Yet another film that I’ve been meaning to watch for years only to continually get distracted by other films in the watch pile. It is also a film I remember coming out when I was in college surrounded by heavy advertisement only to suddenly disappear without it gaining any real traction with audiences it seemed.  Despite this the idea of a Cherub mask wearing killer did sound an appealing one and no doubt the reason it remained on my watch list for so long.

Opening on Valentine’s day 1988, here we see the hopeless romantic geek Jeremy going from one girl to the next asking if they want to dance, only to continually get shot down. However it appears that his luck might be in when the overweight Dorothy accepts his invitation to dance which soon leads to them making out underneath the bleachers. Sadly things don’t exactly work out for Jeremy as when the pair are spotted by the school bullies, she claims that he sexually assaulted her leading the bullies to then turn into a pack of vigilantes as they publicly strip Jeremy before preceding to beat the holy out of him while the students and teachers seemingly do nothing about this! Of course the girls meanwhile all go on to grow up to become popular and attractive, while the film seemingly insists that these girls were friends back in school, even if their childhood versions seemed to belong to different groups to each other with no indication of any of them ever being friends. It’s also really once we see the girls all grown up exactly what sort of casting decisions were made for the film, seeing how all the girls seemingly have been cast more for their looks than their acting abilities, something which soon become blatantly obvious when faced with another 70 mins of their vacant expressions ahead of you.

Despite being released in 2001, this film still appears to be aiming for the same filming style of the 90’s horror movies which followed in the wake of “Scream”  which revitalised the horror genre and generated a slew of counterparts it generated and certainly a wave of films which you’d be forgiven that this film belonged to. I was equally surprised to learn that this film was directed by Jamie Blanks who previously gave us one of the more underrated 90’s horror movies with “Urban Legend”. Sadly this film is nowhere near as good which to Blanks credit he has apologised while seemingly indicating that it was a less than smooth production for the film which also had to contend with the TV schedules of  both Katherine Heigl who was attached to “Roswell” and Boreanaz who was attached to “Angel” meaning that both actors only had a limited amount of time to shoot their scenes with Heigl in particular only having three days for her scenes which equate to little more than a fleeting appearance here as blanks gives his own spin on the classic “Scream” opening which despite having a cool kill lacks the same kind of impact.

One of the main issues the film has though is that none of the cast are particularly likable, more so when they constantly seem so self-involved and wrapped up in their own issues that it makes it impossible to form any kind of connection, let alone believe that they are as good a friends as they claim to be. At the same time every male character in the film is portrayed as being a horny sleaze ball who cares only about picking up one of the four girls. Even the detective whose supposed to investigating the killer stalking them isn’t amused from this as he randomly tries to pick up the sexually aggressive Paige (Richards) which seemingly all he does apart from making some half-baked attempts at trying to identify the masked killer. The only exception here is Boreanaz who appears as Kate’s (Shelton) boyfriend but even then his appearances throughout are so sporadic that it leaves you wondering if the was any real direction for his character other than to help setup the finale, while Boreanaz continues to prove that movies are not were his talents lie (see “The Crow: Wicked Prayer” for further proof) as most of his performance seems to revolve around him recycling his broody performance for “Angel”.

Elsewhere not even the killer is free from the many issues of this film as while the mask makes for a cool look especially when combined with his all black ensemble. What the mask also unfortunately does is to give him the impression of him having a tiny head when we see him in any full length shots, which perhaps takes away some of the threat that he could have processed had he not looked so unintentionally funny during these shots. At the same time when it comes time to do the big reveal what could have been a clever twist ends up feeling strangely clumsy thanks to the events leading up to the showdown making little sense with characters suddenly showing sides to them which feel that they were written in while filming.

What saves this film from being a complete write off those is that it contains some really inventive kills, the majority of which are shot with like an 80’s slasher, making them a strange fit for the rest of the film which is very 90’s in its style and more so when a number are far more graphic than the majority of movie deaths from this period which tended to favour the less is more approach spearheaded by “Scream”. Amongst the kills we get a nasty looking throat slit, death by bow and arrow (well he is wearing a cherub mask) with the best of course involving a hot tub and a power drill! One trick that the film does miss though is during the scene leading up to the hot tub death in which it appeared that Blanks was going to recreate the raptor attack from “Jurassic Park” and have the killers face suddenly appears out of the plants, but sadly it does happen.  Still the kills are all well-handled and no doubt the one good thing you’ll take away from this one.

A heavily  flawed film with its clunky script and unlikable characters make this far from the easiest film to sit through even if you’re just watching it for the death scenes.

Monday, 5 October 2015

Filmed In Supermarionation

Title:  Filmed In Supermarionation
Director:  Stephen La Riviere
Released:  2014

Plot: Documentary about Gerry and Sylvia Anderson who developed with their production team the now iconic puppetry technique known as "Supermarionation" which would used on the now legendry cult shows he created including Thunderbirds, Stingray and Captain Scarlett.

Review:  If you grew up in the UK chances are that you will have watched at least one show created by Gerry and Sylvia Anderson. For myself it was an obsession with their work which began with “Stingray” with its promise that “Anything  can happen in the next half hour!” and would later be followed up by “Thunderbirds” and “Captain Scarlett and the Mysterons”. Surprisingly I never put my love for these shows in the same category as the giant monster / Kaiju movies that I was equally obsessed with and which used similar model techniques, with my attention instead being held by the fantastical stories and lifelike puppetry which made you forget you were watching a puppet show.

Clocking in at almost two hours and heavy on nostalgia value this documentary sets out to chart the history of their shows and the development of the “Supermarionation” technique from the now twee looking early projects such as “The Adventures of Twizzle” and “Torchy, the Battery Boy” through to the end of the golden period for their productions which came to a close with the likes of “Joe 90” and “The Secret Service” and in doing so ignoring his later projects  like “Space 1999” and “Space Precinct” which saw him move into live action projects which still contained elements of his miniature work. As such this does mean that this documentary isn’t a definitive history but instead a look at the key years in which Anderson and his team were perfecting their technique.
Despite the limited scope of the film this is still a treat for the fans with Riviere not only assembling interviews with both Gerry and Sylvia Anderson, aswell as many of the original voice actors and production team who all have a wealth of stories to share from their experiences working on the show from the evolution of the puppets through to special effects issues such as trying to find a way to make “Supercar” go underwater it seems that there is no subject left uncovered. What would have been impressive enough is only added to further by the fact that the film is narrated and presented by Lady Penelope and Parker from “Thunderbirds” which was certainly an added fanboy bonus.
While this is the kind of film which will unquestionably please the established fans, especially with the wealth of classic footage on show here. At the same time its never afraid to show the darker side of the productions with Gerry Anderson in particular frequently voicing his frustrations that he was never able to make the live action productions he wanted and how he instead channelled his ideas into the projects he would become best known for producing, while the brutal fallout from the breakdown of his marriage is thankfully skipped over outside of a passing mention he gives it which seemingly is more to do with adding to the timeline than a major plot point. The rest of the team however seem to relish the chance to discuss their work helping to balance the film out and keep things light hearted and fun without you feeling that you aren’t getting the full story.
When it comes to the productions themselves the huge amount of footage really makes the film accessible even if you’re not familiar with any of the shows while for an established fan like myself it was great to see the shows which came before “Thunderbirds” and “Stingray” such as the western “Four Feather Falls” and the more traditional Anderson productions such as “Supercar” and “Fireball XL5” which for some reason never got the same reruns the other shows did. The downside to this of course being that I now have a bunch of shows that I now want to track down as this documentary will no doubt leave you hankering to revisit some of these shows thanks to the careful clip selection only further selling their charms while the feature length adaptation of “Thunderbirds” imaginatively titled “Thunderbirds Are Go” makes it seem a lot more surreal than I remember it being.
For the fans this will no doubt be the film you’ve been waiting for and even with its weighty run time and limited scope there is still plenty here to ensure that you’re not left disappointed, especially when Riviere hits all the main favourites while digging out a few surprises along the way. This is a great slice of classic cult TV while ensuring that Anderson and his teams puppet work is never forgotten.
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