The Captain [German: Der Hauptmann] dir. Robert Schwentke (2018) [Subtitled] A German deserter in the final weeks of the Second World War stumbles upon the uniform of a Luftwaffe captain and assumes his identity. A tense, grimly realised true story that unflaggingly defies audience expectation of some high-minded purpose behind the deception.
Guns Akimbo dir. Jason Lei Howden (2020) Daniel Radcliffe works hard to carry this stylised and at times highly violent action comedy. (‘Comedy’ is used here advisedly; a pervasive graphic novel vibe all but obliterates the film’s understated New Zealand humour.) Clunky characterisation and scripting undercut the intended satire.
The Diary of River Song: The Furies by Matt Fitton (Big Finish, 2018) Audially a bit chaotic and not much of a story in its own right, though sufficiently holistic to tie up the third series. Peter Davison has a small role but the true strength of this production lies in its otherwise all-female cast.
The Diary of River Song: My Dinner with Andrew by John Dorney (Big Finish, 2018) A diverting timey-wimey story spoilt only by the cod-French maître d’ (British actor Jonathan Coote). Given modern-day cognizance of ethnic and cultural representation, is this casting choice any less offensive than John Bennett’s playing Li H’Sen Chang in The Talons of Weng-Chiang?
Lucifer, Season 2 (2016-2017) One season in and Lucifer already exhibits the artificiality that comes from injecting new drama into characters who’ve completed their arcs. Newcomer Tricia Helfer (Lucifer’s mum) fails to alleviate this problem, though Aimee Garcia does breathe some fresh life as Ella Lopez.
The Left-Handed Booksellers of London by Garth Nix (Allen & Unwin, 2020); audiobook read by Marisa Calin (Bolinda, 2020) The fantasy setting is instantly appealing—London in 1983, home to a hidden world of old gods and lesser creatures of legend, policed by an extended family of booksellers. The characters are well drawn but Nix’s storytelling is nothing more than workmanlike.…
Doctor Who: Revolution of the Daleks by Chris Chibnall (BBC, 2021) Despite impressive credits elsewhere, Chris Chibnall has always seemed a little at sea when scripting Doctor Who. His writing here is clunky, the emotional moments forced (and overscored). It doesn’t help that the Daleks have outstayed their welcome by half a century.
Tunnel of Bones by Victoria Schwab (Scholastic, 2019); audiobook read by Reba Buhr (Scholastic Audio, 2019) On the one hand less enthralling than City of Ghosts, as the premise is already established. On the other it’s refreshing that Schwab doesn’t raise the stakes too much, offering instead a simple continuation. Cassidy’s ignorance of other cultures remains mildly off-putting.
Endeavour, Series 3 by Russell Lewis (ITV, 2016) The crimes are more measured this series and Morse is less of a socially gasping savant. Though stepping back from the overt prefiguring of John Thaw’s portrayal, Endeavour remains both an enjoyable character drama and a noteworthy time capsule of 1960s Oxford.
Death Note dir. Tetsurō Araki (Nippon TV, 2006-2007) This epic (37-part) anime series falls roughly into thirds. The first sees a dramatic psychological struggle between killer and detective. The second reboots but continues the mind games and machinations. The third loses its way trying to carry on after the denouement.