Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Let's Review: The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies

To be honest I have been having a hard time with the Hobbit films. I enjoy them, but not as much as I think I should and I don’t hate them as much as other people do. I think my position on The Hobbit movies is similar to my stance on the Star Wars prequel trilogy. I enjoy it, but I do understand that it is significantly less than the original trilogy’s quality. So how do I feel about the final Hobbit movie? Let’s review The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies.

The Negative

The cliffhanger from the last film was completely unnecessary. If you know the story of The Hobbit, then you know that Smaug the dragon dies. The cliffhanger from the previous film ends with Smaug flying to Laketown in order to destroy it. This film opens with Smaug already at Laketown setting it ablaze. Smaug then proceeds to die within the first 10 minutes of the film before the opening titles are even up. If Smaug was going to die so early I feel like there wasn’t much of a point to that cliffhanger. I get that it allows for a major action piece to come early in the film, but it just feels like we were manipulated into expected a bigger confrontation.

I’m not sure if I liked this movie because it was good or because it was so over the top ridiculously bad that I enjoyed it anyways. This film included scenes such as Gandalf desperately trying to get a fix from his pipe, Legolas riding a giant bat upside down, giant war worms that appear and then never again, a dwarf who wields a giant hammer but uses headbutts more, a battle-moose, and a Were-Bear air drop. Are these moments good or are they so bad that they are good? To be perfectly honest, I saw this film awhile ago and I still can’t decide.

The Positive

I really liked the design of this film. The Middle Earth films have always had beautiful designs and set pieces, but this film definitely pulled it off. There is a moment where every member of our band of dwarves puts on new armor to prepare for the upcoming battle and each of the new armaments looked absolutely stunning. There were very few pieces of armor in this film that I wouldn’t want to own myself. As a final romp into the realm of Middle Earth, this movie was beautiful to look at.

This film was very well paced. I understand that this was the shortest of the Middle Earth films and it feels like it. The majority of the film is the title battle and the film keeps a breakneck speed throughout the fight. Normally I find myself checking my watch on longer films due to some flabby piece in the middle that probably could have been shortened, but this filmed did a good job with every minute of its screen time.

In Conclusion

Did I have a good time? Yes, and that’s what this review really comes down to. Whether the film was just good or so bad that it was good, I still enjoyed the film and had a great time. I feel like one little book didn’t have to be spread so thin across 3 movies, but overall this series has been a fun ride for me. I feel like it’s time to put Middle Earth to bed…..and not returned to. There really isn’t much else that can be adapted to film and they shouldn’t try to be honest. Leave Middle Earth to these two wonderful trilogies that we got. 3.5 out of 5.

Let's Review: The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 1

The Hunger Games is a series I enjoy but don’t love. I feel like the series has a brilliant plot, but I feel like each of the films have one critical error to them that stops me from fully enjoying this series as much as I should. The first film had very tight and choppy camera work while the second film took far too long to actually get to the Hunger Game which was ultimately just a brief part of the movie. I was very excited to see this film, but at the same time I was concerned that something else was going to let me down. Did I enjoy the film or did it disappoint? Let’s review The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 1.

The Negative

I don’t really hate this film, I hate Harry Potter. Rather I hate the trend that the Harry Potter films started. It made since to split the final Harry Potter book into two films as it was a ridiculously large book and squeezing it all into one film would have had to cut out major portions of the story. Unfortunately, this has caused film producers to take on an ‘every final book in a series needs to be split into two films’ approached to adaptation. Not every book series needs this approach though. Mockingjay is 390 pages long; the final Harry Potter book was 759 pages long. The reason I bring this up is because the pacing in this film was terrible. There are definitely some awesome action pieces and plot moments that occur in this movie, but in between those moments was some serious flab that could have been cut out.

The Positive

One of the greatest aspects of The Hunger Games series is its depiction of propaganda and manipulating the populace. This is a war that can be fought and won on either side, but it entirely depends on who the people are rooting for. Katniss isn’t so much a warrior for District 13 to rely on but she is their weapon of propaganda. Katniss is a symbol that the people can rally behind, sure it’s great that she can hold her own in a fight and she is very level-headed, but ultimately it is the idea of Katniss that will set the flames of war ablaze. This is why I love this series so much as it rings true that wars are won by having the people on your side. The propaganda caused by this war is almost more important than fighting it as the media war is the true battlefield.

The tone of this film was significantly darker. The Hunger Games series has always had a dark tone but this was the film that truly felt like war was being waged between The Capitol and District 13. This tone shift really makes this movie, as we are no longer witnessing a game of survival but a war for freedom. The film regularly cuts out of the main characters to show how the various districts are responding to the propaganda battle and it beautiful sets the tone of the severity of the situation as well as the importance of winning this battle.

In Conclusion

I am growing concerned with book to film adaptations as the film industries seems to think that extending them out for as long as possible is a good thing. While extending the plot of a book can lead to interesting changes or insights we never thought about before, true thought should be put into how a plot can be improved before just going ahead and splitting it just to have another film. I think Mockingjay has a very good plot and characters but ultimately suffers from being spread too thin among 2 films. 3.8 out of 5.

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Doctor Who: The Master's Timeline

One of the greatest aspects about Doctor Who is that it is a show that can last forever. Over the course of its history, Doctor Who developed some fascinating concepts that have given it this privilege. One of these concepts is regeneration. What happens when your lead actor can no longer hold the position of the main character? Typically you’d just replace the character, but what if you could just replace the actor. Thus the concept of regeneration was created. The Doctor can essentially be played by an infinite number of actors, one story arc said that a time lord can regenerate 12 times having a total of 13 incarnations but the show can easily find its way around this plot point. One character who has demonstrated this is one of The Doctor’s greatest enemies, The Master. The Master is a fellow rouge Time Lord who has taken up a darker path. The Master has run out of regenerations ages ago, yet still appears on the show today.

One of the most avid debates in the Doctor Who fandom right now is what incarnation numbers are Matt Smith and Peter Capaldi (it’s very simple, Smith is 11 and Capaldi is 12, the amount of regenerations that occur does not change what number the Doctor decides to call himself). This debate to a lesser degree applies to the Master as well. Fans have been trying to number The Master’s incarnations but it has proven difficult without a proper timeline.

As such this article will try to piece together a proper timeline of The Master, based on episodes, audios, comics, novels, fan theories, and my own thoughts on the subject. I say this as a warning to any casual reader or fan, this article will delve heavily into Doctor Who lore and may be confusing to anyone who hasn’t read up on that material. This article is also just a timeline of the different incarnations of The Master and how he moved from form to form and not an episode by episode look at the character. Now without further delay, here is the unofficial timeline of The Master.

The First Master? – William Hughes

The possibly first incarnation of The Master was depicted briefly in flashback by child actor William Hughes. I assume this is the first incarnation of The Master since he is supposed to be 8 years old in this flashback, but we have seen children regenerate before. We also know that Time Lord children are born with the ability to regenerate.

The properties of regeneration energy are not something the series has heavily gone over, and I doubt it’s something we would like to know more about (see Midichlorians in the Force). Assuming that regeneration is a biological function of Time Lords, we can infer that whatever part of their body allows them to regenerate also moderates their ability to store the energy for 12 separate regenerations. It can also be assumed that Time Lord society was a bit loose on regenerations, such as Romana regenerating just to have a new appearance. Thus we cannot know for sure whether or not this is the first incarnation of The Master, all we know is that this is the form The Master was in when he went through the Time Lord initiation ceremony and gazed into the time vortex, possibly driving him mad.

After this point we know little of his early life, only that he went to school with The Doctor and scored higher than him academically. The Master chose to become a renegade Time Lord just like the Doctor. Some information says he left after but I believe he left before as the Third Doctor refers to him as being a long time nuisance to the Time Lords.

The Final Master? – Roger Delgado

The first time the audience meets The Master he appears in this incarnation portrayed by Roger Delgado. The true rivalry between The Doctor and The Master started here as The 3rd Doctor was exiled to Earth and the Master set his eyes upon conquering it. Slowly but surely this want to conquer Earth transformed into a bitter grudge against The Doctor as The Master’s schemes were regularly foiled by him. Many believe that Delgado’s Master may have been the 13th and final incarnation as the next form of the Master to appear is highly decomposed with no regenerations left, but I don’t believe that to be the case. After this form The Master continues his schemes to become ruler of all time, but his main goal is the pursuit of more regenerations which was something never brought up by Delgado’s Master. Why would The Master waste his final life on Earth of all places? I personally believe that The Master is probably somewhere between his 4th and 7th regeneration in this form.

Delgado’s Master perishes in the story Legacy of the Daleks. In the novel, The Master kidnaps The Doctor’s granddaughter Susan and steals a Dalek super weapon known as a matter transmuter. Susan managed to break free from The Master and stole his classic weapon, the Tissue Compression Eliminator or TCE. Susan attacks The Master with the TCE while he is holding the matter transmuter. The resulting explosion is what caused this version of The Master to die. I don’t believe he was in his final incarnation, I believe that the energies from the Dalek super weapon combined with the TCE may have damaged The Master’s biological function to regenerate. Whatever regenerative energies survived the explosion possibly saved The Master’s life and allowed him to partially regenerate into his next form.

The Decayed Master – Peter Pratt

The Master was saved by a Time Lord, Chancellor Goth, who was seeking power, power that only The Master could provide him with. Pratt’s Master was in a massive state of decay and very close to death, but even in his dying form he was still able to manipulate the Chancellor into doing his bidding. The Master was desperate to find a way to fully regenerate; he managed to get a hold of various artifacts of Rassilon which he believed would fill him with the energies needed to allow regeneration to occur. The Doctor eventually put a end to The Master’s scheme stopping him from absorbing all the energies of the artifacts. The end of the story notes that The Master could have possibly absorbed enough of the energies to at least regenerate once, ending on a very ominous note. I believe that the Master did absorb enough energy to allow him to at least partially regenerate into his next incarnation.

The Decaying Master – Geoffrey Beevers

Many fans believe that Beevers and Pratt’s Masters are both versions of Delgado’s Master but as I’ve let on, I do believe that they are different incarnations altogether. This version of The Master was also in a state of decay like the Pratt version, but was far more stable, meaning he could continue to exist for a much longer time without worrying about death. Beevers’ Master started delving into higher powers, to not only increase his own abilities but to also gain vengeance on The Doctor for leaving him in this state. Whatever rivalry they had before transformed into a burning hatred for his nemesis.

Beevers’ Master first appears on the show in the story The Keeper of Traken which was this versions final tale. I believe Beevers’ Master began to reach Pratt’s level of decay and desperately needed to regenerate again. The Master went to the planet Traken whose people held a massive power known as The Source. The Master fused with The Source in the hopes of fully regenerating but The Doctor once more prevented him from fully absorbing the energies there. Partially fuelled with the powers of The Source, The Master fused his body with a Trakenite known as Tremas allowing him to take up his next form.

The Tremas Master – Anthony Ainley

Ainley’s Master was in a completely stable body, but still without any regenerations. This version split his time between enacting schemes against the Doctor, attempting plans to take over all of time, and pursuing more regenerations. This is also the form where we learn that the Time Lord Council has the ability to grant new regeneration cycles to other Time Lords. The Council would at times offer this to The Master in order to gain his cooperation in a story, but due to The Master betrayals during these tales, would regularly refuse to grant him the regenerations in the end. 


Ainley’s Master would continue on for the remainder of the classic Doctor Who series run, plaguing Doctor’s 4 through 7, meaning The Master retained this form for a very long time. As this is the form that ended with the series, this Master’s death occurs off screen and unfortunately in multiple contradicting stories. However, most of these stories seem to agree that this form of The Master underwent a process that forcibly separated his Time Lord DNA from the Trakenite DNA. Thus The Master degenerated back into his Beevers form.

The Deformed Master – Geoffrey Beevers

The Master returned back to the form he held before combining with Tremas. I believe that this form was not in a state of decay but heavily scarred and deformed often utilizing a mask to hide his deformations. Very little is known about the fate of this version of The Master, only that by the time he appears in the 1996 film he has taken up a new form.

The Old Master – Gordon Tipple

How did this form come to be? How did he become captured by the Daleks and set up for execution? These are questions often asked but never answered. This was but a brief appearance by a Master we will probably never know and just a set up to the story of the film. What we do know is that this Master escaped his execution by possessing a native creature known as a Deathworm Morphant. If The Master had the worm on him it would make sense that it survived the execution. A native creature of the Daleks' home planet of Skaro would have to evolve to survive in the heavily irradiated atmosphere, thus probably being able to survive the energies used in the execution. This would make sense as to why the worm was locked up with The Master’s remains when it came into the hands of The Doctor. Either way, The Master was able to escape the Doctor, leaving the form of the worm and possessed the body of a human ambulance driver named Bruce.

The Bruce Master – Eric Roberts

As human bodies are unable to contain the soul of a Time Lord, The Master’s new human body begins to rapidly decay. The Master attempts to use the Eye of Harmony to steal The Doctor’s remaining regenerations. He of course fails in this plan and is ultimately sucked into the Eye of Harmony’s well of power and becomes a part of The Doctor’s TARDIS. Before moving on I’d like to briefly discuss the controversy that came up in the film where both The Doctor and The Master believe that The Doctor is half human. In the story The Doctor had just freshly regenerated and The Master was in a rapidly decaying form. I believe that the two of them were both madly out of their minds at the time and could easily make mistakes, let’s leave it at that.

The Mirror Master - ?

This form appears only in comics and novels. This Master briefly escaped The Doctor’s TARDIS and fought over a new power called the Glory before ultimately ending up trapped in The Doctor’s TARDIS again. I call him the Mirror Master as this incarnation had a tendency to taunt The Doctor by appearing in various mirrors in the TARDIS itself as he was trapped there. I’m half certain this Master could be a returned Tipple Master but we can’t know for sure. Eventually the Master escaped from his captivity once more existing as little more than a ghost.

The Ghost Master – Geoffrey Beevers

I’m not entirely sure why or how but The Master regresses entirely back into the Beevers form in this incarnation. This could mean that his last few forms (Ainley, Tipple, and Roberts) have all just been the Beevers incarnation leeching off of bodies utilizing the powers he gained from The Source. Either way, this Master was trapped on Earth in the year 1906. Not being able to survive in a human body for very long, The Master had to move from body to body through the decades before finally reaching UNIT’s Vault in the 21st century, where one of his TARDISes was unknowingly being kept.  The Master then escaped Earth for adventures unknown.

The Renewed Master – Alex MacQueen

We don’t know what the situation was but The Master was rescued from a predicament by the Time Lords. The Time Lords were preparing for something (possibly the Time War) and decided to bring The Master back into the fold in anticipation for this event. Thus The Master finally received what he had been yearning for a very long time, a whole new regeneration cycle. Though it is unclear whether the Time Lords gave him his current form or if he had it before.  As this is the form that is currently being written in the 8th Doctor Adventures it can be assumed that it is this incarnation of The Master that entered the Time War.


Warning – Spoiler Alert

I leave this warning now to all readers, everything after this point deals with the modern era of the Doctor Who show. If you do not want these events spoiled for you then I suggest you discontinue here. If you don’t care, have seen the show, or are already aware of the events that occur then please enjoy.

Are we ready to continue?



The Yana Master – Derek Jacobi

It is entirely possible that the Master took up different forms between now and the MacQueen version, but I highly doubt it and even if they did exist the events of the Time War will probably never be covered by Doctor Who. What we do know is that this is the form The Master took when he became scared of the war and ran to the ends of the universe. The Master then transformed himself into a human with no knowledge of his past life and re-named himself Professor Yana. After encountering the 10th Doctor, Yana regained his memories as well as his Time Lord essence and became The Master once more. This version was ultimately mortally wounded by Professor Yana’s former lab assistant and The Master chose to regenerate into a younger form like the one The Doctor had currently.

The Saxon Master – John Simm

In a new youthful body, The Master decided to take over Earth in a massive revenge plot against The Doctor, taking up the persona of Harold Saxon and eventually becoming Prime Minister of the UK. This Master was far more insane than previous incarnations, mentioning a constant drumming that was continuously going off inside his head that possibly started with the Jacobi Master. The Master appeared to be victorious in his world domination scheme, but was eventually defeated by The Doctor once more. Instead of being held in the captivity of The Doctor for all eternity, The Master finally allowed himself to die from a gunshot wound….OR DID HE? He didn’t.

The Undead Master – John Simm

The Master’s next appearance showed him coming back from death through an elaborate ritual by his followers which was interrupted, thus The Master came back only half formed constantly switching between his regular form (though now blond) and an electrified skeletal form. This Master also held a tremendous hunger that could not be sated. Eventually it was revealed that the constant drumming in his head was actually a signal placed there by the Time Lords in the hopes of escaping the Great Time War. The Master, immensely angry about this fact, jumped back into the Time War in order to gain vengeance.

Before moving on I would like to address the drumming. The story suggests that the drumming was planted inside The Master’s head when he went through the vortex ceremony as a child and that this was what drove him mad for his entire life. I don’t think that’s true, mostly because it is never mentioned before or after this story arc. I think that the drumming was actually planted within the new regeneration cycle as a failsafe. My theory is that the Time Lords foresaw The Master being a great asset or at the very least surviving the Time War, as the Master has always escaped impossible situations before. Thus when they granted him a new body and a new regeneration cycle, the drumming didn’t start until after he started to regenerate again. The Time Lords probably believed that if The Master was near death he would escape the war and regenerate, allowing them to have a beacon outside the limits of the war. This is just a theory but I feel like it works.

The Missy Master – Michelle Gomez

The latest incarnation of The Master is the first onscreen version that is female, taking on the name Mistress or Missy for short. This new Master still has a high level of insanity but the level headed mastermind is making a return as well. Many questions arise with this new form, which I fear will go unanswered. How The Master escaped the Great Time War is not my concern as The Master escaping certain death is one of the character’s main features. What really concerns me is how this new form came to be. Did The Master figure out how to cure the drumming? It’s never mention with this new form so I’m going to assume that it is gone. When the Simm Master was only half resurrected, did he lose all of his other regenerations or was he using up the life force of his current form? Little else can be determined without future stories as this is the current form.


Determining how many incarnations The Master has had is a near impossible task as we have never actually been given a number to any of his forms. Even worse the number also depends on what you count and what you don’t as The Master has also possessed a great number of other people's bodies. Do we count the people he has possessed or do we just list them under victims? Here is what we can assume. The Master got a new lease on life with his Alex MacQueen form due to the Time Lords prepping him for the war. If The Master still retains that new regeneration cycle, then Missy is the 4th form in his new cycle. I assume MacQueen was a new body they gave him then they refilled his regenerations, so that should mean that The Master has about 9 more regenerations on him currently. As The Doctor currently has 11 more, I believe we won’t have to worry about a regeneration shortage any time soon. Thank you for reading this character study of The Master and have a Merry Christmas.