Saturday, November 9, 2013

Doctor Who (1996) Review

I am a huge fan of Doctor Who. But others are not. And this movie was apparently intended to welcome these people. Well... it failed. So let me try instead.

In 1963, BBC began running vague sci-fi/history show called Doctor Who. The show was about a mysterious old traveler known simply as the Doctor, who traversed through time and space in his sentient time machine, the TARDIS.

It was a huge hit and made many serials featuring either historical or futuristic storylines. The first bump in the road came when William Hartnell(the actor who played the Doctor) became increasingly ill and frail, necessitating a change. As such, the writers had the Doctor "regenerate" into a new body with a different personality and appereance, but still the same mind.

At the end of the Second Doctor's era, Doctor Who began suffering from serious budget issues, forcing the Third Doctor spend the majority of his time in exile on Earth. To make things more interesting, a new character called the Master was created to be the "Professor Moriarty to the Doctor's Sherlock Holmes". He was played by Roger Delgado.

Unlike the Doctor, who had plenty of regenerations left, the Master was at the very end of his life cycle and his ultimate mission to take over the universe had to wait while he looked for immortality. After stealing the body of a hapless scientist, the Master(now played by Anthony Ainley) continued to pester the Doctor.

In their final confronation, the Seventh Doctor left the Master to his fate on an unstable volcanic planet, infected by the Cheetah Virus.

There. That was a LOT of information, wasn't it? But if you're new, you NEED this.

This movie was made seven years after the series was canceled and was supposed to be the pilot episode to a new series of Who, run by FOX. However, the show was not meant to return before 2005 and this remains a unique film, not quite the old series, but definitely not the new one either.

As the movie opens, we are told that the Daleks have put the Master on trial(why Nazi-like killing machines have those, I do not know) and that his final request was to be transported back to his and the Doctor's homeplanet. On route, his ashes come back to life(I have no idea how) and break out of their container.

In his goo-ey form, the Master causes the TARDIS to land in 1999 San Fransisco, where the Doctor is accidentally shot and taken to a hospital. Since no one can understand his alien biology, he dies on the operating table and regenerates into his eighth self(played by Paul McGann).

At the same time, the Master possesses the body of a paramedic named Bruce and apparently switches from evil goatee villain to evil Terminator villain.

Anyway, the Doctor goes around San Fransisco, looking for a beryllium atomic clock to fix the TARDIS(???), not knowing that an Asian kid called Chang-Lee has the key to his ship and has broken in along with the Master.
Together, the evil duo open up the Eye of Harmony(a supernova frozen right before it becomes a black hole) that causes all matter on Earth to start breaking down.

Eventually, the Doctor finds his atomic clock and rushes back to the TARDIS where he gets captured by Chang-Lee. The Master(now drezzed for the occasion) plans to somehow use the Eye of Harmony to steal the Doctor's regenerations.

With some jiggery-pokery, the Doctor then reverses time(????) and resurrects his companions(????) and they finally kill the Master by pushing him into the Eye of Harmony once and for all.

The movie made less sense than this review, I swear. At least I left out "temporal orbits" and the Doctor's newfound ability to read people's futures. The movie was just confusing and so full of Whovian terms and stuff that it just turned into a Doctor Who bingo game, basically.
But other than the writing, it was pretty awesome. The movie had a sense of awe and mystery that neither the old series or the new series has managed to duplicate, the TARDIS console room was absolutely beautiful.

Paul McGann's performance as the Doctor was purely innocent and optimistic. He was bubbling with charisma.
Eric Roberts gave us a Master who did not only rely on his ruthlessness to fight the Doctor. We actually see him "befriend" someone and his interaction with Chang-Lee is great. I also rather liked the Terminator suit.
The companions were decent, but overall forgettable.

The design of the film was gorgeous. I loved the continous sound of clocks ticking, the jelly babies and just the way everything worked. It was a brilliantly done movie. If only the plot had been a little better...


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