Today’s Art (22nd June 2018)

Woo hoo! I am very proud to present the third comic in “Damania Retroactive” – a webcomic mini series about time travel (it’ll hopefully be self-contained, but it is also a sequel to this mini series, then this one, then this one, then [sort of] this one and then this one). Yes, I’ve decided to go back to making narrative-based mini series again (in order to stay inspired).

And, this time, Harvey, Roz, Derek and Rox have travelled back to the distant year of… 2017. You can catch up on previous comics in this mini series here: Comic one, Comic two

And, yes, this comic was prepared quite far in advance. So, hopefully, the dialogue about the world still being in one piece in the second panel will be accurate when it goes out. Then again, if it isn’t, then no-one is going to be reading this anyway. And that’s how to make timeless comics!

As usual, this comic update is released under a Creative Commons BY-NC-ND licence.

[CLICK FOR LARGER IMAGE] “Damania Retroactive – Duplicity” By C. A. Brown

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Today’s Art (21st June 2018)

Woo hoo! I am very proud to present the second comic in “Damania Retroactive” – a webcomic mini series about time travel (it’ll hopefully be self-contained, but it is also a sequel to this mini series, then this one, then this one, then [sort of] this one and then this one). Yes, I’ve decided to go back to making narrative-based mini series again (in order to stay inspired).

And, this time, Harvey, Roz, Derek and Rox have travelled back to the distant year of… 2017. You can catch up on previous comics in this mini series here: Comic one

Today’s comic update was kind of an interesting one. Originally, it was going to be one type of satirical comic, but it quickly ended up turning into another type of satirical comic fairly soon after I started making it. But, yes, things tend to go disasterously whenever Derek decides to express himself.

As usual, this comic update is released under a Creative Commons BY-NC-ND licence.

[CLICK FOR LARGER IMAGE] “Damania Retroactive – Time Troll” By C. A. Brown

Today’s Art (20th June 2018)

Woo hoo! I am very proud to present the first comic in “Damania Retroactive” – a webcomic mini series about time travel (it’ll hopefully be self-contained, but it is also a sequel to this mini series, then this one, then this one, then [sort of] this one and then this one). Yes, I’ve decided to go back to making narrative-based mini series again (in order to stay inspired).

And, this time, Harvey, Roz, Derek and Rox have travelled back to the distant year of… 2017.

As usual, this comic update is released under a Creative Commons BY-NC-ND licence.

“Damania Retroactive – Again” By C. A. Brown

Review: “Ghost In The Shell (2017 Remake)” (Film)

Well, I thought that I’d review last year’s remake of “Ghost In The Shell” because – the day before I originally prepared the first draft of this review- I got a copy of it on DVD as a birthday present 🙂

Surprisingly though, I only really watched a remastered version of the original 1995 version of “Ghost In The Shell” back in 2016, when I was going through (another) cyberpunk phase. Needless to say, I was impressed enough to end up watching almost all of “Ghost In The Shell: Stand Alone Complex” on DVD, as well as both the second and third anime movies. So, yes, I’m a fan of the franchise.

Needless to say, when I first heard that Hollywood was remaking the original film, I was somewhat sceptical. Although I was amazed to hear about 1980s/90s-style cyberpunk films being made again, my scepticism was further enhanced by the fact that the remake had a 12A/PG-13 certificate upon it’s release. I was worried that it would be some kind of simplified Hollywood remake that would miss the point of the original films. Of course, as soon as I started watching it, I realised that I was wrong about this.

So, that said, let’s take a look at “Ghost In The Shell (2017)”. Needless to say, this review will contain some SPOILERS for both the remake and the anime film that it is based on.

The UK DVD release also has a really cool-looking reflective sleeve too.

“Ghost In The Shell (2017)” is set in a future where cybernetic enhancement of humans is common. However, a government-funded company called Hanka Robotics wants to take this even further by transplanting a human brain into a cybernetic body. They try this technique out on an orphaned refugee called Mira who it is said has drowned. The transplant is a success.

A year later, Mira is a Major in the elite “Section 9” counter-terrorism unit. However, following a mission to prevent the assassination of the president of Hanka robotics, the Major comes into contact with a mysterious cyber-terrorist called Kuze whilst analysing one of the hacked robots from the crime scene. Needless to say, she begins to investigate…..

And, yes, this is slightly more of an action movie than a detective movie.

One of the very first things that I will say about this film is that it isn’t an exact remake of the original anime. Stylistically and narratively, it is very much it’s own thing.

But, this is hardly a bad thing. Although there are a few homages to scenes from the original anime, this film tells a somewhat different story – which is still just about within the traditions of the series (if anything, it’s probably a tiny bit closer to “Ghost In The Shell II: Innocence” and “Ghost In The Shell: Solid State Society” though).

For example, this scene is fairly close to the original anime, even if the film’s main story diverges somewhat.

In short, the film focuses a lot more on the Major and her history. An important theme in the film is whether our memories define who we are and, like in “Blade Runner“, there’s also a sub-plot about artificial memories too. Whilst this works as a homage to “Blade Runner” it is also in keeping with the themes of the original anime and also slightly topical in this age of fake news etc… too.

This focus on the Major also allows for much deeper characterisation than in the original anime. However, this comes at the expense of the characterisation of the other characters. Even so, we still get to – for example – learn why Batou has artificial eyes. But, the team-based storytelling that is so key to the original films and TV episodes is missing somewhat here. But, this allows the film to be a much more focused thriller in some ways though.

Yes, Togusa still has his Mateba revolver. Although there’s no explanation for it here, and we only see it for a couple of seconds.

Batou still has his pet beagle, although the beagle only appears in a couple of scenes.

Still, this focus works. In an age where Hollywood films can be bloated things that can drag on for two hours or more, the fact that this film has a relatively slender 103 minute running time (at least five minutes of which is taken up by the end credits) helps to keep it focused and compelling. Yes, the pace isn’t as “relaxed” as the average cyberpunk film – but it’s hardly an “action for the sake of action” film either.

And, yet, although this film contains more action than the original anime, it’s still very much in keeping with the tone of the series. Although this is an action movie, it isn’t a mindless superhero-style action movie. There’s still some philosophical and/or science fiction stuff going on within the film.

However, since the film is very much about the Major’s quest for self-understanding, the philosophical issues in the film aren’t explored in quite the depth that they could have been. Still, they’re still there, which is reassuring.

Yes, there’s actually some serious character-based drama here, rather than just a series of mindless gunfights.

However, one slight change between the Hollywood remake and the original film is that some of the main characters seem a little bit more vindictive. This mostly takes the form of several members of Section 9 occasionally summarily executing disarmed criminals/terrorists, rather than arresting them. Whilst this is no doubt meant to be a depiction of how dystopian the futuristic setting of the film is, it perhaps adds a little too much moral ambiguity to otherwise sympathetic characters. Especially since these scenes are often presented in a slightly “badass” kind of way.

When the film originally came out, there was some online controversy about the fact that the Major was being played by Scarlett Johansson (since, in the original anime, the Major is Japanese).

Whilst the idea of the Major’s cybernetic body looking significantly different to her brain is very much in keeping with the themes of the series (and the ending of the original anime film too), it still caused a lot of internet controversy in America and Europe (although it was apparently much less controversial in Japan).

But, controversies aside, the cast is a lot more international in this film than in the original anime. Plus, one cool thing about this film is that people realistically speak different languages (with subtitles for the audience and, presumably, translation software for the characters) rather than the typical Hollywood thing of everyone just speaking English.

Best of all, despite the “12” certificate, the film still thankfully manages to retain a fair amount of the grittiness and uncanny psychological horror that made the original films so good. The robots and robotic elements of the film all look suitably creepy and, although a lot of the action scenes are eerily bloodless, they still manage to be surprisingly intense too.

Despite the relative lack of blood, the fight scenes still seem appropriately impactful and dramatic.

Likewise, there’s still some creepy robot-related stuff here. Albeit not to the extent of, say, “Ghost In The Shell II: Innocence”

Plus, the film also still – sort of – manages to show how realistic robots have affected people’s attitudes towards nudity in the future too. In other words, it’s absolutely no big deal whatsoever. I’m kind of surprised how much of this the Hollywood remake managed to keep – albeit with a few slight “robotic body suit” changes in order to stay on the right side of the censors. But, even this works really well – since it ensures that the robot nudity is “functional” (rather than comedic or titillating), which is much more in keeping with the spirit of the original films.

In terms of set design, lighting design and costume design, this film is outstanding!

In addition to taking influence from the original anime, the set designs and lighting here also take a lot of influence from “Blade Runner” 🙂 Not only that, they’re also their own unique thing too – with brightly-coloured holograms and some truly outstanding lighting. Seriously, anyone who has seen some of the art I’ve posted here will know, “colourful cyberpunk” is my favourite type of cyberpunk 🙂

Seriously, this street looks really awesome 🙂

Seriously, this is both it’s own thing and a homage to “Blade Runner” 🙂

And, even the background characters here have a slight “Blade Runner” look (eg: the transparent jackets etc..)

In addition to this, the setting has a fairly Hong Kong-like “look”, in a similar way to the original film. Plus, whoever designed the sets obviously took some inspiration from Kowloon Walled City too.

As well as Kowloon Walled City, this also reminds me a little bit of an awesome film from 2012 called “Dredd” too.

Likewise, the costume design here is surprisingly good too. Not only does it take a bit of influence from “Blade Runner” (with regard to the background characters), but it also manages to be both “realistic” and “futuristic” at the same time.

For example, one of the most interesting costume designs in the film is probably the strange cagoule/trenchcoat/biker jacket hybrid that the Major wears at the beginning and end of the film. Seriously, it looks really cyberpunk in both an 1980s-style way and a modern way.

Seriously, this outfit manages to look both retro and futuristic at the same time.

Plus, like in any good cyberpunk film, the background characters often look at least slightly futuristic too 🙂

In terms of the music, it’s reasonably good. However, the only truly stand-out musical moment in the film is the fact that a version of the background music from the awesome Hong Kong montage in the original anime (which, sadly, isn’t included in the remake) plays during the end credits.

Even though the awesome montage scene (aside from this brief visual reference) doesn’t appear in the remake, the music appears in the credits.

All in all, on it’s own merits, this is a really good cyberpunk movie. It looks really cool, there’s some good characterisation, there’s a bit of intellectual depth and the pacing is reasonable good too. Yes, it isn’t as good as the original anime – but, for a Hollywood remake, I’m genuinely surprised at how good it is 🙂 It’s kind of like “Ghost In The Shell lite”, but this probably still makes it better than many modern movies.

If I had to give it a rating out of five, it would get four.

Full Review: “Blade Runner 2049” (Film)

Well, although I wrote a rambling, in-depth “first impressions” article about “Blade Runner 2049” after seeing it at the cinema last October, I’ve now got a DVD copy of it (as something of a belated Christmas present). So, as promised in the “first impressions” article, here’s a full review. However, it’s more of a general review than an in-depth essay.

Annoyingly, although a special edition of the DVD was apparently available for pre-order on Amazon before Christmas, this planned special edition DVD release was cancelled before the film’s home video release.

Still, the “standard” DVD edition of the film isn’t exactly a ‘bare bones’ release, since it also contains all three short prequel films and a few short featurettes about the “world” of the show. Even so, it would have been nice if they’d released the special edition DVD they’d planned to release.

Anyway, let’s take a look at “Blade Runner 2049”. This review will contain some mild-moderate SPOILERS.

“Blade Runner 2049” is the 2017 sequel to the 1982 cyberpunk masterpiece “Blade Runner“.

Set thirty years after the events of that film, this film focuses on Officer K – a replicant (a human-like clone/android) police officer in a futuristic version of Los Angeles who has been tasked with locating and killing rogue replicants who went underground after a terrorist attack in 2022 wiped all records of their existence.

Needless to say, this isn’t going to be a “cosy” detective mystery…

After he tracks one of these replicants (Sapper Morton) to a protein farm outside the city, they begin a fight to the death. However, once Officer K gets the upper hand, Morton makes a cryptic remark about how Officer K is only comfortable with doing humanity’s dirty work because he has never witnessed a miracle.

Puzzled, Officer K shoots Morton before returning to his car to send a video report to police headquarters. Yet, Morton’s comment still lingers in his mind. And, after noticing a flower beside a nearby tree, he dispatches a drone to scan underneath the tree. To his surprise, a chest has been buried there. The chest contains a skeleton. But, upon further examination, it turns out that this is no ordinary skeleton…..

Plus, it raises the intriguing prospect of a “CSI: Blade Runner” spin-off too…

One of the first things that I will say about “Blade Runner 2049” is that it is one of the best modern films that I’ve seen. It’s intelligent, visually complex, sensibly paced, it respects the audience’s intelligence and it is very well-written. However, after re-watching it, I found that I slightly prefer the original “Blade Runner” to the sequel. Even so, if you’re a fan of that film, then the sequel is well worth watching (if you haven’t seen it already).

In terms of the film’s story, it tells a reasonably complex (but direct) story which is thematically consistent with the original film and also resolves some of that film’s loose ends too. This film’s story will require you to pay attention, but it isn’t too confusing.

And, yes, it also contains a couple of literary references too. But, even if – like me- you haven’t read “Pale Fire”, then the film will still make sense.

Although the film tells a reasonably complete story with a satisfying emotional payoff, a few things are left unresolved for different reasons. The sub-plot about the replicant resistance is left slightly open, presumably in case there’s ever another sequel (although this unfortunately seems unlikely, given the box office for this film). And, of course, the question about whether Deckard is a replicant is, in keeping with tradition, left tantalisingly unresolved.

There’s also a really cool call-back to the origami unicorn from the original film, that is also a reference to Philip K. Dick’s “Do Androids Dream Of Electric Sheep?” too 🙂

However, as brilliant as the film’s story is, it leans towards grand, large-scale drama. Although this isn’t an inherently bad thing, it means that the film lacks some of the atmosphere and vivid intensity of the much smaller-scale drama of the original “Blade Runner” film.

Seriously, all of the grand drama is really cool, but I prefer the small-scale storytelling of the original film.

In terms of the film’s pacing, I really liked it, but it is something of an acquired taste. In contrast to typical hyper-fast modern movies, this film tells it’s story in a slightly more contemplative and slower-paced way that is more like a well-written TV mini series or a good novel.

Personally, I feel that this helps to add depth and humanity to the film, whilst being in keeping with the fact that the film is an intelligent cyberpunk detective thriller movie. However, if you’re used to modern superhero movies etc.. you’ll probably find this film to be “too slow” or “boring” or whatever.

Yes, this film actually contains *gasp* dialogue, characterisation, atmosphere-setting scenes etc.. instead of just mindless fights and explosions.

In terms of characters, this film is reasonably good. Not only do we get to see a few familiar faces (eg: Deckard, Gaff, Rachel etc..), but the film’s new characters are fairly good too.

By making the main character (Officer K) a replicant, the film can explore the theme of what it is to be human. Although Officer K is presented as a fairly human character (who is treated like a second-class citizen by some humans), his replicant nature is noticeable through his slightly emotionless and mildly upbeat demeanour (this is different to the typical world-weary protagonists in the film noir genre). Yet, he is also often presented as a somewhat lonely figure, which is in keeping with the film noir genre.

Hmm… a table for one again, it seems.

Interestingly, he falls in love with a companion hologram called Joi. And this is where the film also explores what it means to be human. Although Joi displays something of a personality, it is implied that she has been programmed to please whoever has bought her. This is shown by the fact that she initially appears to be some kind of 1950s-style Stepford Wife character. But, as the story progresses, she becomes more like the kind of intelligent, courageous side-kick that Officer K needs during stressful/complex situations.

As the film progresses, Joi goes from this…

… to this. But, whether it is organic character development or merely programming is left up to the viewer to decide.

In addition to this, Deckard also makes a return too. However, the years have not been kind to him and he has turned into a grumpy, bitter old man. This character evolution fits in perfectly with the events between the two films and it really helps to emphasise how much time has passed between the films.

And, yes, this is how Deckard greets Officer K when they first meet.

The film’s villains (and, yes, there’s much less moral ambiguity in this film than in the original “Blade Runner” 😦) are something of a mixed bag. The main villain, Niander Wallace, is only seen during a couple of scenes and he comes across as a bit of a cartoonish sociopath character.

Villain? Moi?

However, his replicant henchwoman (Luv) is a slightly more interesting character. Although Luv is a merciless killer, she comes across as a more complex and unsettling character (than Wallace) due to her fanatical devotion to Wallace.

And, yes, it’s a bit strange that the villain’s side-kick is actually a better character than the main villain is.

This taps into one of the film’s themes, namely that of authority, devotion, servitude and slavery. Officer K has been manufactured to serve the LAPD (despite some cops despising him for being a replicant), yet he rebels against them… because he has been designed to investigate things. It is implied that he is paid for his work, but he is sometimes treated more like a machine than a person.

Likewise, there are a lot of parallels between Joi and Luv. Joi is designed to be devoted enough to die for Officer K, and Luv is designed to be devoted enough to Wallace to kill for him. Both characters show devotion taken to creepy extremes (in addition to emphasising the dystopian gender politics of the film’s dystopian world).

In addition to all of this, Wallace also gives a rather ominous speech in support of slavery. Yet, in a scene where he cruelly murders a “defective” prototype replicant, it is shown than even he is a slave to his own twisted sense of perfectionism. The only “free” character in this film is Deckard, who has lived most of his depressing life in hiding.

Ok, he’s been hiding in a swanky hotel, but still…

Yet, whilst the film covers many of the themes explored in the original “Blade Runner”, I didn’t really notice many more when I re-watched it. When you re-watch the original “Blade Runner”, you almost always notice something new (thematically, visually etc..). Yet, to my surprise, I didn’t really get this when I re-watched “Blade Runner 2049”. It was still as good as I remembered, but there didn’t really seem to be as many hidden depths to it as I had thought there might have been when I wrote my “first impressions” article.

In terms of set design and lighting, this film is really good. It contains a lot of the beautifully gloomy, neon-lit, dystopian cyberpunk locations that you would expect from a “Blade Runner” film, but it also has it’s own distinctive visual style too. Likewise, although the lighting occasionally includes the obligatory modern blue/orange colour scheme (like on the DVD cover), it also includes other colour schemes too.

Yes, there’s still a fair amount of classic “Blade Runner”-style stuff here.

But the film also has it’s own unique visual flourishes too.

However, it also takes a somewhat minimalist/realistic attitude towards set design sometimes.

For this most part, this change works well. However, just like how the grand sweeping drama of the film lacks some of the intimacy of the small-scale storytelling of the original film, the set design here is often missing one of the key components of the original “Blade Runner”. I am, of course, talking about visual complexity.

Yes, there are lots of sweeping cityscapes, grim wastelands and “realistic” interior locations – but the film often lacks the beautifully complex, chaotic messiness of the original film. In the original “Blade Runner”, you will always notice some new visual detail whenever you rewatch it because the set designs are so visually complex. On the other hand, this isn’t really the case with “Blade Runner 2049”. Even so, it is still one of the best-looking films made within the past decade or two.

All in all, this is a brilliant film which shows that good, intelligent, complex films can still be made these days. Yes, it isn’t quite as good as the original “Blade Runner”, but this is only because it is impossible to surpass perfection. But, taken on it’s own merits, this film is one of the best films that I’ve seen in quite a while.

If I had to give it a rating out of five, it would just about get a five.

Top Ten Articles – December 2017

Well, it’s the end of the month (and the year). So, I thought that I’d do my usual thing of compiling a list of links to the ten best articles about making art, making comics and/or writing fiction that I’ve posted here over the past month. As usual, I’ll include a couple of honourable mentions too.

All in all, this month has been something of a variable one in terms of the quality of my articles. It was probably a better month than the previous one, although it’s still probably not quite the best one that I ever had.

Anyway, here are the lists 🙂 Enjoy 🙂

Top Ten Articles – December 2017:

– “Two More Ways To Disguise “Talking Head” Webcomic Updates
– “Three Things To Do When You See A Better Webcomic (Than Yours)
– “Three Sneaky Ways To Show Off In Your Art
– “Four Reasons Why Some Creative Works Become Better With Time
-“How To Deal With Self-Critical Uninspiration – A Ramble
– “Some Thoughts About Indirect Influences – A Ramble
– “The “30-50% Black Paint” Rule (And How To Use It)
– “Remember – Inspiration Isn’t Always Instant
– “Three Ways To Make Art In A Genre You Find Difficult”
– “Two Ways To Know Which Comic Update Ideas To Use

Honourable mentions:

– “Implication In The Horror Genre – A Ramble
– “Why It’s Important To Be Open To Artistic Influence – A Ramble

Review: “Doctor Who – Twice Upon A Time” (TV Show Episode)

Well, although it’s a little on the late side of things, I thought that I’d review this year’s Christmas episode of “Doctor Who”.

So, let’s take a look at “Twice Upon A Time”. Needless to say, this review will contain some SPOILERS.

“Twice Upon A Time” begins with a recap… of an old episode from the 1960s starring William Hartnell as the first Doctor.

Yes, if you were expecting a recap of the ending of the series from earlier this year, you’re in for a surprise…

Dying, he stumbles out of the TARDIS into the South Pole whilst displaying a Churchillian level of determination to stay alive. However, much to his surprise, he meets the current Doctor (who is also dying) – but doesn’t recognise him.

As they begin to talk, the falling snow around them suddenly freezes in the air. A rather confused WW1 officer then interrupts their conversation. It quickly becomes obvious that something is wrong with time itself..

Don’t worry, I’m sure that Baldrick has a cunning plan…

One of the first things that I will say about this episode is that it is classic “Doctor Who”. It is able to be serious without being miserable. It is able to be poignant without being depressing. It is able to be profound and deep, but is still able to be intriguingly mysterious. It is able to be morally complex without being too morally ambiguous. As send-offs go, this is one of the best ones that I’ve seen.

As you would expect, this is an episode about memory and death. A lot of the episode’s story revolves around whether our memories make us who we are. Not only is this shown in the many humourous and dramatic interactions between the two Doctors, but the premise of the episode also allows for a few appearances from familiar characters from earlier in the show (eg: Bill, Clara, Nardole etc..). And, in a lot of ways, the episode’s theme of memories also reminded me a little bit of both “Blade Runner” films. Which is never a bad thing 🙂

Of course, “Blade Runner” isn’t the only thing this episode reminded me of. This scene contains a brilliant parody of and/or homage to “Alien” too 🙂

Another cool thing about this episode is that time travel is a really central part of it. Although the entire show revolves around time travel, it is often more of a background detail or an excuse for the characters to be somewhere interesting. This episode, on the other hand, is all about how time affects people. A lot of the episode’s story revolves around the complex interactions between the past, the modern age and the distant future – and this is handled really well.

Such as this brilliant little moment when a man from the 1910s finds a piece of 1980s/90s technology whilst standing inside a time machine from the distant future.

The episode also approaches the topic of death with the high level of maturity, complexity, compassion and humanity that you would expect. The episode is also something of an exploration of the fear of death too (albeit in a somewhat stoical and understated way). Seriously, I cannot praise the writing in this episode highly enough.

Although some of the episode’s poignancy and emotional resonance will only “work” if you’ve seen Peter Capaldi’s other episodes on the show, the episode packs one hell of an emotional punch if you have. However if, like me, you haven’t really seen any of the pre-2005 episodes of the show, then some of the episode’s references may seem a little bit confusing.

For example, whilst these two characters are obviously the first Doctor’s companions, I have no clue what their names are etc….

The characters in this episode are absolutely brilliant. Although William Hartnell’s version of the Doctor is obviously played by another actor, he certainly seems like a character from an old TV show.

He’s a grumpy, patronising and stubborn old man – who somehow manages to be both steely and Churchillian, yet hilariously old-fashioned, at the same time. He could have easily turned into a caricature, but he comes across as a character who is both set in his ways and yet highly inexperienced at the same time. It’s a really difficult balance to get right, and the episode nails it perfectly.

Plus, he even wears a monocle at one point too.

Likewise, the WW1 officer in the episode is also a more nuanced character than he appears to be. Although he is something of a typical “stiff upper lip”-style character, he doesn’t really stray too much into the realm of Blackadder-esque caricature most of the time, and he comes across as a surprisingly nuanced and complex character.

The Doctor and Bill are, as you would expect, the same excellent characters as they have been for the past couple of series of the show too. And it is great to see them getting a proper ending to their story (as opposed to the “deus ex machina” ending of series ten):

Yay! There’s some proper resolution to this chapter of “Doctor Who” 🙂

Jodie Whittaker’s much-anticipated appearance as the next Doctor is also a really cool moment. The scene in question is dramatic, funny (eg: the Doctor’s amazed reaction when she looks in a mirror) and is quintessentially “Doctor Who”. But, it is literally just a moment. This awesome scene is over within the space of about a minute… and with a cliffhanger ending too!

And, in contrast to Capaldi’s gloomy portrayal of the Doctor, Whittaker’s Doctor seems to be more of the eccentric and/or cheerful David Tennant/Matt Smith school of Doctoring. Well, this is what I guessed from the few seconds she actually appeared for…

As you would expect, the dialogue in this episode is absolutely brilliant. Although there are lots of serious lines (such as the Doctor’s brilliant soliloquy before he regenerates), the episode is also filled with lots of amusing and witty dialogue segments too. Again, as a send-off for this era of the show, it is absolutely brilliant!

Seriously, this is the best “ending” episode that I’ve seen 🙂

The set design and lighting in this episode are brilliant too. Not only does the episode sometimes use lighting to create atmospheric colour schemes (eg: red and blue, blue and orange etc..) but there’s also lots of beautiful chiaroscuro/ tenebrist lighting here too. Seriously, the lighting in some scenes looks like something from a Caravaggio painting 🙂

Yes! THIS is how to use lighting 🙂

Seriously, this scene could almost be a Caravaggio painting!

However, this episode does have the annoying modern habit of using lots of lens flare sometimes….

This is also complemented by some brilliant set design too, with many of the episode’s locations evoking a theme of oldness, bleakness and/or decay.

Including a segment set on a post-apocalyptic planet that looks like something from an old horror movie 🙂

And check out this location that manages to look ancient and futuristic at the same time 🙂

The episode’s special effects are also reasonably ok too. Although the CGI effects are sometimes a little bit obvious, this doesn’t really matter as much as you might think since the story of the episode is so gripping that you’ll probably be willing to overlook any minor flaws with the effects. I mean, it could have 1980s special effects and it would still be a compelling episode.

Yes, some of the CGI effects look like something from at least a decade ago. But, the story is so compelling that this doesn’t matter.

All in all, this is a brilliant way to end this era of the show. This episode is poignant, funny, dramatic, spectacular, intelligent and visually brilliant. My only real complaint about it is that the scene introducing the new Doctor was far too short.

If I had to give it a rating out of five, it would get a five.