Sunday 24 November 2013

Review: Doctor Who - The Day of the Doctor

World of Blackout Film Review

Doctor Who: The Day of the Doctor 3D Poster

Doctor Who: The Day of the Doctor (3D) (Spoiler-Free)
Cert: PG / 82 mins / Dir. Nick Hurran

As a preface, I should point out that I watched this as civilian. I certainly don't dislike Doctor Who at all, but I can't seem to warm to regularly watching it (largely because I haven't seen an episode better than Blink, either before or since). However, I get to enjoy the full-range geekiness vicariously through my Whovian friends, and even I can appreciate the cultural importance of the 50th anniversary. So naturally, I was going to watch it in the cinema as I got the chance. Especially as I don't have a sixty-foot wide 3D television…

After a few trailers to make the audience fidget impatiently, the cinematic broadcast opened with a short piece featuring Strax of the Sontarans, informing the patrons of cinema etiquette. It was basically a turn your phone off and shut up piece, with a slight tongue-in-cheek feel, but it's still better than most shorts of its kind. Next up was five minutes or so of Matt Smith and David Tennant welcoming the audience and telling them to put their 3D glasses on. Again, out-of-universe and humorously scripted, but a nice extra for those who'd ventured out into the cold to see the show.

And so, to the episode itself. I thoroughly enjoyed it. I won't go into the plot details or Easter Eggs (if only because that's what the rest of the internet is for), but from where I was sitting the episode did a bloody good job of catering to long-time hardcore fans, new-generation hardcore fans, and casual viewers; giving deference to all, but preference to none. It was good to watch a programme that's fifty years old be simultaneously amusing, thought-provoking, and take a few moments to completely re-write one of its central conceits*1 I'm aware, of course, that you can't please all of the people all of the time (especially with Fandom), but I sensed only good vibes in the cinema, during and afterwards, and the crowd I was with were merrily chuckling along to the gags (even the ones I personally thought were a bit broad).

On a personal note, I could have done without the segments featuring an English monarch, and I thought that Billie Piper's presence was shoehorned in a little*2. But if those are the only low-points that stand out in my mind, the 50th anniversary team have done very well indeed. I should also say that this is probably the best live-action 3D I've seen in the cinema. It's used constantly without being distracting or forced, adding depth to the scenery, and with no ghosting. 3D rarely makes a film better (especially with live-action), but can frequently make one worse, and The Day of the Doctor is a best-case scenario of this. It's a perfect example of why film-makers should be taking the extra time and effort to shoot in 3D instead of using post-conversion facilities.

And so, it goes without saying that this is One For The Fans™, but it's made with enough love and conviction as to be contagious. If you've tried and failed with Who in the past, it's worth giving The Doctor another chance with this. The prequel shorts, The Last Day and The Night of the Doctor are up on YouTube, and The Day of the Doctor is on BBC iPlayer for UK folks for the next week (or longer, depending on TV repeats). Outside the UK? I'm sure you'll find a way.

I like sandshoes. I haven't heard sandshoes since the late seventies.
Can we bring back sandshoes, please?


Is the trailer representative of the film?
It's a good set-up.

Did I laugh, cry, gasp and sigh when I was supposed to?

Does it achieve what it sets out to do?
I'd say yes, but that's not my call to make.

Pay at the cinema, Rent on DVD or just wait for it to be on the telly?
You've missed the boat at the cinema now, but you should aim for watching this in hi-def.

Will I think less of you if we disagree about how good/bad this film is?

Will I watch it again?
Probably, yes.

Is there a Wilhelm Scream?
I didn't hear one. Plenty of opportunities on Gallifrey. Sort it out, eh?

And because you won't be happy until I've given it a score...

And my question for YOU is…
Where was Tarkin? Hmm?

*1 SPOILERS: I did find the "so, I won't remember?" moment a bit wince-inducing, but I know with time-travel, you have to make concessions so far as existing material is concerned.
*2 And on a completely bitchy note, the clarity of the hi-def in the cinema made Piper's moustache almost as impressive as Hurt's...

• ^^^ That's dry, British humour, and most likely sarcasm or facetiousness.
• Yen's blog contains harsh language and even harsher notions of propriety. Reader discretion is advised.
• This is a personal blog. The views and opinions expressed here represent my own thoughts (at the time of writing) and not those of the people, institutions or organisations that I may or may not be related with unless stated explicitly.

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