It’s been quite a film-y sort of time recently. I’ve managed to wangle my way into a number of screenings for free – some just because I’m great, but others because I actually have to – cuh – review the things. Anyway, while you don’t get to see my detailed thoughts on Pirates 4 (bit crap) and Attack the Block (bit excellent), I now have reviews up of what are likely to be two of the best films I see this year: X-Men: First Class over at Film4, and Senna on Den of Geek. I also did a fluffy tie-in piece for X-Men at Den of Geek (in a confusing bit of crossover since it wasn’t DoG I reviewed it for, but), looking at five other superhero properties that would make great “period piece” films – one for each decade from the ’30s through to the ’70s. Meanwhile, I also interviewed (well, co-interviewed) the director of Senna recently, but was a bit slow in getting the piece over to the DoG folk, so that probably won’t be up there until early next week. Have a look, though, it’s interesting stuff.

And also, although it was a few weeks ago, I’m quite pleased with my main contribution to the Doctor Who review canon this year (we’ll ignore my sloppy, far-too-short and unfocused review of “Day of the Moon”) – I’ve been waiting a long, long time for Neil Gaiman to write an episode of the show, so there’s a good reason why my write-up of “The Doctor’s Wife” is somewhat long and rambling. But I think I hit upon a nice theme with it, and that it’s a good piece all in all, so… yeah.

Three weeks in, and I’ve finally gotten around to getting down some thoughts on the Moffat era of Doctor Who (although not doing so sooner is less through laziness, and more because other people took on Unlimited Rice Pudding!’s reviewing duties for the first two eps). So here’s what I had to say about Mark Gatiss’ “Victory of the Daleks” – an episode that I seemed to like more than most of the internet did. And as it was my first opportunity to write about the current series, I also used the piece to start to pull together what I’m making of Matt Smith so far:

The man is a miracle, frankly. It’s far too early to start talking about his place in the pantheon, especially with his distinct character still in the process of being established, but he just gets it. He is the Doctor – it’s telling that he seems to echo so many of his predecessors at different times, but it’s as if he’s studied them all, and adheres to Moffat’s notion that “there aren’t eleven Doctors – there’s one Doctor with eleven faces” resolutely, in a way that Tennant (who had echoes of one or two, particularly (of course) Davison, but generally felt specifically Tennantish) never really did. He’s got a brilliantly nuanced awkwardness to his poise that makes him feel like the old man in a young and unfamiliar skin. He’s got the comedy fingers. He’s got the mixture of genuine authority and perpetual-verge-of-getting-called-out bluff that the Doctor should carry into any environment. He’s absolutely at home in the role, and to have been so from his first moments onscreen is an astounding feat. My only hope for him is that he can keep it up.

Quite good, then.

I’ve also been pounding out a few bits and bobs in Comics Daily’s new non-review format recently – a quick think-piece on DC’s current problem of having two characters with identical names, powers and costumes running around entitled How Do You Solve A Problem Like Wally West? ended up getting picked up and discussed by a couple of forums, which means it’s probably the most-read thing I’ve written since I was last in a magazine. And we’ve been having a bit of fun this week by taking advantage of the volcano-induced lack of new US comics to do something we’ve called “Ash vs Britain” week – so I’ve reviewed the latest 2000AD (featuring two strips by Friend of Some Of You LiveJournal Lot Al Ewing), and recommended a few excellent back issues.

Oh, and hey, did I ever link to my Kick-Ass review? A bit late now, I suppose, since the film’s been out here a few weeks, but it’s good to have the link up for posterity. As hinted at a while back, I really rather liked it (and a second viewing did nothing to change this) :

Against the odds, this is going to take some beating as the most purely entertaining action film of 2010 – and the best superhero flick since The Dark Knight. Your move, Iron Man.

I should be writing on this thing a bit more, anyway. And not just linking to stuff, either, but actually using it to post halfway worthwhile original content. I’ve a few ideas kicking around, so expect something soon. Bet you can’t wait.

It’s been a Film4 sort of a month, January, with a few pieces of mine going up on the recently-relaunched website, so I thought I may as well round up links to ’em all. First of all, there was a quick blast through the films of James Cameron – timed to coincide with the release of some new film or other – and then, split into two parts, a similar history of Pixar, which made for quite good fun trawling through the backstories of the various films. I also found the time to head over to the premiere of a documentary about Blur and spin out a few words on it. No swanky VIP journalistic privileges at said event (I think you have to be from Empire, or at the very least Total Film, to get that) but the band themselves were in attendance, which was nice. Graham Coxon has a very similar duffel coat to me.

Speaking of writing for websites, meanwhile, I don’t think I’ve mentioned it on here, but it’s worth noting that at the start of the month we finally did the decent thing and closed down Noise to Signal. Time pressures (not to mention losing some writers) were simply the main factor in our not feeling able to keep up with it as much as we used to – and we felt that only having sporadic updates, particularly given how wide the site’s remit for subject matter was, meant it simply couldn’t establish and hold enough of a niche. We’re leaving the site’s archives open indefinitely, though, and our last article was of course a self-indulgent trip through our “best” bits. I was also sad to see, recently, that one of the main sites that inspired NTS’ creation, Off the Telly, is also closing (for the second time). One of the things that made me proudest of NTS was the fact that Graham Kibble-White was enough of a fan to include us in the “favourite blogs” sidebar, and the site (similarly staying up as an archive) is home to some of the best writing about telly on the internet (I suppose not that hard an achievement, given that there’s so little on the subject of true quality out there, but that shouldn’t be held against it).

In other news, I imagine there will be a fair few people reading this who probably have an interest in writing some Doctor Who one day… and so just in case any of those people haven’t seen Big Finish’s current new writers opportunity… well, there’s a link to it just there. I’m not sure they’re aware just how much bad fanfic they’re going to be leaving themselves open to, but… fair play to them. I’ll be interested to see what comes out of it.

Oh, and I’ve been thinking up slightly lame but (I think) amusingly nerdy t-shirt ideas recently, so I’ve decided to hell with it and started up a shop on Spreadshirt for them. The way I see it, even if everyone thinks they’re absolutely rubbish and no-one buys any, at least it doesn’t cost me anything (nor will it make me much, either, the percentage earned from each shirt sold is pretty low, but I’m not really bothered about that). But if you might be interested in shirts that slyly reference comic books and Ghostbusters and Weezer and font nerdery and Choose Your Own Adventure books and the like, then you might want to have a look.

And that’s all the weather!