Transformers and Why We Persist With Bad Movies

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TransformersI attended an advance screening of Transformers: The Last Knight ahead of its Australian release. Before I go any further, I must point something out. I have never been a fan of the franchise. I only became interested in this latest instalment – the fifth in the series based on the popular Hasbro toys – when it was announced that Santiago Cabrera (who, as Aramis, was my favourite musketeer in BBC’s The Musketeers series) had been cast in the movie. I have seen the earlier movies and always felt each one could benefit from shaving off at least an hour off the screen time.

Putting aside the notion of cars that transform into super strong robots from another planet fighting some other super strong robots that have all somehow ended on Earth, The Last Knight drags one of the most-loved and popular mythologies of King Arthur and his faithful Knights into its apocalyptic battle. If you’re already a fan of the Transformers franchise, you will find everything oh-so-familiar: LOUD explosions, HUGE battles between the robots, lots of fast cars that might make Vin Diesel a tiny bit envious, the US Army trying to outgun the machines (at this point, I am not even sure if the military are the good guys or the bad guys anymore), female characters that are worse than the worst cliched character you have ever seen, and a human hero who could have won the battle on his own. Continue reading

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Revisiting Poldark Series 2 – Episode 10

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WarleggansNow that he is the new master of Trenwith, George Warleggan wastes no time in making his presence felt, beginning with removing all reminders of the previous master, Francis (Oh how Francis must be rolling over in his grave right now!). Young Geoffrey Charles, playing merrily away, asks Elizabeth when “Uncle George” is leaving, only to be told by his mother that he is here to stay and that he should start thinking of him as his new Papa.

As if making changes inside the house is not enough, George also starts making his claim on Trenwith more obvious by building a fence to stop locals from walking through the property as they have been accustomed to do, and placing armed guards to keep out the riff-raff. Even Tankard feels this is a bit much, knowing it will only make enemies of their new neighbours but George is not to be deterred.

While going through Elizabeth’s financial records, George finds the sale of Geoffrey Charles’s shares in Wheal Grace. He suspects something illegal with the sale and asks Elizabeth about it. She doesn’t know anything so he writes to Ross demanding answers. Ross counters that it is none of his business as Elizabeth is the trustee for Geoffrey Charles. However, Elizabeth has now given her new husband power of attorney. Ross reveals to George that he is the “mysterious buyer” and that he had done so in order to give Elizabeth the money she needed to settle some of the debts she inherited from Francis. After a war of words, Ross punches George. With all the training George has been doing, he manages to give as good as he gets, until Ross gets a brief upper hand, shoving George’s face almost into the fireplace. Tankard calls for back-up and Ross is eventually pulled off, screaming insults as he is thrown out of the house. Continue reading

Revisiting Poldark Series 2 – Episode 9

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For days after Ross spent the night with Elizabeth, she stares longingly out the window of Trenwith, waiting for word from him, expecting him to leave Demelza and marry her. The ever-watchful and all-knowing Aunt Agatha will not be fooled by Elizabeth’s insistence that nothing happened. She tells Elizabeth that she never married because she spent her life waiting for “the better man” which is better than the “convenient man”, implying that the latter is exactly what George Warleggan is.

Wareleggan weddingMeanwhile, George is over the moon that he has finally won – not just Elizabeth’s hand in marriage, but the fact that he thinks he has now got everything he believes Ross wants: Elizabeth, Trenwith and his mines. Elizabeth may have wanted a low-key wedding, but there is no way George is going to not show off his victory to all the most important people in town. After the wedding, which Ross avoided, George surprises Elizabeth by saying that he wants to make Trenwith their home. Poor Agatha!

For his part, Ross, appearing repentant about what he did and trying to explain away his black eye to Henshawe as “my wife took exception to something I said”, is still in the dog-house at home. Demelza offers to help him pack for Trenwith, expecting that Elizabeth is busying herself preparing the house for a Poldark to return to it. He tries to explain himself, but the more words that came out of his mouth, the more ridiculous he sounds, as if “I didn’t know what possessed me” would excuse his betrayal of his marriage. (The more he spoke, the more I wished Demelza would punch him again and give him another black eye!) Continue reading

Revisiting Poldark Series 2 – Episode 8

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26811C5300000578-3006230-image-a-3_1427015905514Despite Captain McNeil and Harbour-master Vercoe failing to locate Ross following the ambush at Nampara Cove, Ross is nevertheless sent to face court once again for associating with the smugglers. Reverend Halse, like the rest of us, wonder when he will learn from his mistakes but Ross swears he was not home the night of the ambush. He then presents his own witnesses who all say they saw him in St Ives on the night in question. So, with only Vercoe’s testimony that he saw Ross on the beach that night, Halse has no choice but to dismiss the case again him.

Dwight does not get off quite as easily. When asked what he was doing on the beach and why he started the fire which signalled to Ross and Trencrom’s crew of danger, he simply explains that he was cold. With no other evidence, Halse fines him £50, which is no small sum for a doctor who only gets paid £40 a year in salary! Outside the courthouse, Jud passes on a message from Trencrom offering to pay his fine for saving the day but he refuses.

With all the ugly business of smuggling and the arrests behind them, Demelza asks Dwight when he would be leaving for Bath to meet Caroline, not knowing that the elopement has now been called off. Dwight simply explains that they are not suited and resumes his duties tending to his patients. In truth, Dwight has been writing to Caroline, begging her understanding and forgiveness, but his letters are all returned. She tells him that she is more convinced than ever that she made the right decision and asks him to never write her again. Oh, no!  Continue reading

Revisiting Poldark Series 2 – Episode 7

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Dwight and CarolineHaving finally professed his love for Caroline, Dwight and his love plan their elopement. He is still not happy about having to marry her in secret and making her give up her fortune. She explains that she doesn’t want a direct confrontation with her uncle but thinks he will forgive her in a year’s time, after it is too late to change anything. They plan to leave in a few days’ time, just before she is due to travel to London with Ray, so that he will not be suspicious of her packed bags.

For his part, Dwight has fixed Rosina Hoblyn’s hobblin’ (sorry, I couldn’t help myself) and now he is paying a visit to Harbour-master Vercoe’s sick son. Vercoe tells him they are close to catching the free traders so he goes to warn Ross but he is too late. In any case, he says his goodbyes to Demelza, who encourages him to start a new life with Caroline and reminds him that marrying for love is a good thing.

At Trenwith, Elizabeth receives notes from George warning her of tinners who may start prospecting on her property. There is increasing unrest in France of such activities and he fears that locals would take their lead and do the same. While Elizabeth writes to Ross for help and guidance, Aunt Agatha decides they stand a better chance arming themselves (Aunt Agatha with a shotgun is a most delightful sight). Continue reading

Revisiting Poldark Series 2 – Episode 6

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Poldark ElizabethWith everyone still in mourning over Francis’s sudden death, more bad news is headed the way of the Poldarks. It turns out the samples Francis collected were of quartz, also known as “fool’s copper”, and is worthless. While Ross keeps Elizabeth updated on all the news of the mine – after all, as Francis’s heir, she now has a half share in the mine, Demelza is preparing for the worst if Ross is sent to debtors’ prison. The Warleggans want their loan fully repaid the day after Christmas, so at least Ross can have one last supper with his family.

It has now been seven months since Caroline left Cornwall but she is back, and just as enamoured with our good doctor as ever. She tries to convince Dwight to move to London, or to Bath, to earn more money, even though she knows he is a doctor for the love of helping people and not for money.

Ray Penvenen is not completely ignorant of his niece’s interest in Dwight. Keen to discourage their relationship from developing any further, he asks Dwight to come by the house at a time when he knows Caroline will not be home. He reminds Dwight of his lowly station and that Caroline cannot marry without his consent. The more insults he threw at Dwight, the more determined Dwight became that he just might have a real shot with Caroline.  Continue reading

Revisiting Poldark Series 2 – Episode 5

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If you have managed to get through the first four episodes of Poldark series 2 without shedding a tear, then this is the episode that breaks the drought. Episode 5 brings out all kinds of feelings and emotions (unless you have a heart of stone). There’s hope, jealousy, love, happiness, regret, loss and sadness – pretty much the norm but multiply the norm by ten and you’ll get how I felt the first time I watched this episode.

So, here goes the recap…

Poldark 205 Francis

Aunt Agatha feigns sickness and calls for Verity to return home to look after her. Francis goes to work with Ross at Wheal Grace with renewed fervour and hope. He is finally taking adulthood seriously, and this includes his role as the local magistrate, which he is called to perform when one of Ross’s tenants is arrested for smuggling into Tregunna Cove. They suspect there is an informer among them. Francis manages to convince Reverend Halse (Robin Ellis) to pass a sentence of three months’ hard labour instead of prison.

Poldark Dwight and CarolineIn Sawle, our good doctor can’t figure out what is causing young Rosina Hoblyn’s (Amelia Clarkson) limp. She flirts with him but he assures her he is wedded to his work, but we all know he is quietly pining over Caroline, who has been in London for the past year. He thinks she is about to announce her engagement to Unwin when George casually informs him of a big dinner party at Killewarren set for that evening. When Dwight bumps into Caroline moments later, he is rude and sulky. Continue reading

Revisiting Poldark Series 2 – Episode 4

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Poldark 204 Dwight

Life continues to be harsh for the villagers in Sawle. Some have taken to smuggling as the war in France rages. The lawmakers are taking a hard line on smuggling and are making their presence felt with frequent arrests. In addition to this, malnutrition has seen villagers fall victim to scurvy, something that Dwight has limited power to cure.

In her own little world, Caroline Penvenen is sulking over Dwight’s neglect of her since his fish bone extraction three months earlier. She writes to him and demands that he pays her a visit with a follow-up examination. He dutifully obliges and explains that he has had patients with more serious conditions to tend to. He tells her of the villagers who can scarce afford fresh fruits. She responds matter-of-factly that the poor should spend their money on oranges instead of gin and breed less. Dwight is offended by her attitude and returns the fee that she insisted on paying him for attending to her. Continue reading