Posts Tagged ‘Miracle Day’

The Flu – would you survive this epidemic!!!!!

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If you watch one film this year make it Kim Sung Soo’s epic disaster movie The Flu. This is a piece of exciting and emotionally evocative film making from South Korea. I was lucky enough to see the film at the premier at the Korean Film Festival London with the director himself. Kim Sung Soo had admitted that while being an action director he loved the script for this film so much he had to make it. He recalled the swine flu epidemic in Korea and the way the pigs were treated and thus decided to make a film that showed this horror but with humans instead. It worked amazingly and a masterpiece was created.
Now I know that many like me will have seen various disaster and epidemic movies so it’s hard not to compare this film to its predecessors but that doesn’t make it any less of a great film that delivers a clear view. I could see traces of films such as Contagion and Blindness in this movie and these are also great examples of the epidemic genre. Like these genre pieces Flu looks at the big picture as well as the street level difficulties. It follows not only the people at ground zero, the doctors, the civilians but also the government, ministers and bureaucrats.
The story is simple and clear, South Korea has never had an outbreak of avian flu and this is a hypothetical telling of what would happen if they did. A container of Hong Kong illegals is shipped into Korea, amongst them one is sick. During their transportation the virus is able to mutate in the container into a super version of avian flu which is highly contagious and has a 36hr incubation period. Container is opened and the virus is set free able to infect its first victims before spreading through the population of Bungdang, a smaller city just outside of Seoul. What transpires is one of the most realistic portrayals of disaster response, human courage and weakness and tragedy. This film does not hold back in any way, it is harsh and exposing; it is emotional and thought provoking. I was equal parts horrified by some of it as I was inspired by other parts.
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The film’s star is Min-ah Park who plays 6 year old Mireu. I have never seen such a strong child actress who had to go through so much during this movie. The story follows the characters that surround Mireu, her mother Kim In-Hae who is a doctor and the first to discover and identify the virus and rescue worker Ji-koo. Ji-koo first meets In-Hae when he rescues her from a car accident and from that moment their lives are intertwined and they work together in a race against time to survive the horror of the epidemic and find the anti-bodies that will provide a cure.
On the street level we follow the bother of the first victim of the flu a violent thug that wants revenge for his brother death against the one remaining immigrant from the container. Momsshin is the only one who survived the container but he is so spooked by what is happening around him he goes on the run and it’s a desperate search to hunt him down and discover why he did not die from the virus. Meanwhile government officials come together to try and work out how to contain the outbreak. A power struggle between the medical specialists and the bureaucrats develops as the minster is worried about public opinions and the polls rather than the full connotations of this epidemic. The power plays are amazing, seeing it from the point of view of politicians gives us a counter view, issues such as how the world will view the decisions they make, do they sacrifice the few to save the many, what are the human rights of the infected, how do you measure public opinion and who has the final say, the president, the prime minister, the CDC or the foreign disaster response team that are looking at how this epidemic might affect the global population if not contained.
The film is fast paced and never slows for a second; we have intense scenes as well as small moments of grief and despair. In Korean style there are moments of light hearted comedy that make the characters endearing and this almost family unit come across as very human, very determined, very likable and very compelling. In-Hae’s struggle between being a single mother and the research doctor trying to find the cure. Does she go and look for her daughter and be caught in the chaos erupting around her or does she stay safe in the labs researching a cure. Mireu the strong child who find herself lost and confused, she doesn’t understand what’s happening around her or the decisions of the adults but still stands up for what she believes when the time comes. Ji-koo who has found himself a guardian to a small child, does he stay and protect her, a child he barely knows or does he abandon her to the chaos. Ji-koo has a sense of honour as a rescue worker and can’t just let people die when he can do something to help them, he is a strong hero for the story and never compromises his ideals.
The film has a lot of action and really hits the ground running, rioting, car accidents, violent deaths, and the breakdown of command and control all feature. The virus is harsh and destroys its victims and soon the body count is running into the thousands. It shows what would happen when people get desperate, when people think their rights are threatened and when politics and these rights collide. The answer is to shut down Bungdang and keep the entire city as a quarantine zone. But you can’t just lock people up, when people get scared and panic it only breed chaos and this film depicts this perfectly. The rising sense of urgency like a time boom ready to go off is at the heart of the film. The score is very reminiscent of Danny Boyles 28 days later and this gives is the extra punch.
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I thoroughly enjoyed the movie, I laughed and cried and I could feel myself panic. I was on the edge of my seat not only though the scenes of rioting or characters getting ill but also during the bureaucratic debates. This is definitely the best epidemic movie to be made, blending the social commentary of Blindness and issues of quarantine and the breakdown of the chain of command, with Contagion and mass panic, chaos and human nature to riot. It also had elements of 28 days later with the bleakness, the viciousness of the virus and the idea that people could become monsters when they panic. Another interesting comparison is with Torchwood Miracle day and how to treat the infected, what is the best way to get rid of the bodies, how would society breakdown and what happens when the truth of the politicians decisions are learnt by the public.
Do remember to take tissues with you this film and be prepared for a rather large shock in the movie. The director warned us about it but still to see it was frightening. I would normally give away spoilers but this is one scene that you don’t want spoilt and I was happy the director just said be prepared. A must see film, a champion of Korean cinema that is full of strength in acting, effects, scoring, action, emotion and storytelling. It has strong characters, doesn’t force feed us too much cliché’s and “isn’t this awful” storytelling. It hides nothing about what could happen in this situation but allows us a very human and relatable way into the story. It never alienates the viewer and lets us make up our own minds. It shows both side of human nature and admits that we can panic and do awful things just as we can do courageous and meaningful things. It is full of human emotion and yet also realistic about what could happen and how government and media plays a part in disaster control.

Please go see this film you won’t be disappointed!!!!

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Torchwood Miracle Day – oh how Torchwood has evolved!!!

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Ok so this review is long overdue but since the DVD just came out and I just came back from the Hub convention I feel inspired to write about my beloved series.

So after reviewing Children of Earth I was so torn on whether I could handle more Torchwood.
http://www.lzsy.co.uk/2009/10/torchwood-children-of-the-earth-a-critic-and-a-fans-review/
Then I did in fact watch the new series and ended up loving the first ep.
http://www.lzsy.co.uk/2011/07/torchwood-miracle-day-–-an-early-review-because-i-can’t-help-myself-it’s-my-biggest-fandom-and-i-love-john-barrowman/

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Ok so there’s no point reinstate things we know by now that in my head there are 2 torchwoods and the show has now evolved into a new animal and therefore must be taken as this. But I have to say I loved the series because it did what I love most in television and use the medium of science-fiction/horror to express a social commentary on how as a race we aren’t so heroic and that when faced with great danger it brings out the worse in a lot of us. Take falling Skies I didn’t like it because it played it safe, no grey area, no exploiting the darkness in the human heart and every character was so clichéd. This is why as sci-fi Miracle day kicks Falling Skies arse. I loved the social commentary the show of human weakness and characters that don’t fit the mould. God so much to say about how this show has evolved. But let’s start with the basic plot that no one can die and how it affects the whole world throwing the planet into a situation they have no control over.

When nobody dies, hospitals fill up, supplies run low, laws have to be re-thought and people’s religions fall apart. All these things are addressed and I was so surprised by how in depth these issues were focused on this series really brought a serious social concern to light, overpopulation and the strain on our resources. We saw that laws had to change Murder no longer exists but this can breed a whole new way to torture and kill knowing your victims won’t die. How do you cope with hospital cases, who has top priority, what about coma patients, the terminally ill, those in accidents so horrific they’ll never be the same again, what is the policy for giving out drugs, how do you control the spread of disease. So many brilliant ideas all explored and that just one area of a problem likes nobody dying. How about the prison system, those with life sentences, those on death row how do you deal with crime when the punishment can be forever. Overpopulation is no one dies what about housing, nursing homes, people are still aging what kind of long term care is there, how do we feed all these people, would the poverty line drop again and what is the financial implications of all this. Then there’s problem of religion and soul, what direction will faith go in when you live in a world without death or where you should have died and your still alive, do you have the right to still live, what are you living for and if the medical is reversed what state would you be returned to. Who would have thought a series that homage classic horror and had episodes about alien sex gas possessing people would have turned into a series that asked such harsh and intense questions.

What makes Torchwood’s evolution so amazing is while all this larger picture issues are being explored its still Torchwood; Jack will always be Jack with his larger than life personality, his heroics, his quiet vulnerability that he doesn’t show to anyone, his lust for life and desire to protect humanity no matter what it has thrown at him. Gwen has evolved the most to a person who is focused and determined she has her own problems torn between the needs of her family and the bigger picture of protecting the world. She is a wife and mother and her duty love and care lies with them, we see that if it came down to it she would even kill Jack if it meant saving her family but she also is a hero she feels that need and duty to protect those innocent and in need of help. Her and Jack’s relationship has also matured, there is a deep love and bond stronger than any bond 2 people can have, but it’s not romantic it is beyond that, it is beyond the hero worship, respect and devotion and now its 2 people that understand the path they have chosen and a shared sense of duty. They need each other; they support each other but also hate each other and the sides they bring out of each other that no one else will see. Jack make Gwen reckless inspires her to fight for her beliefs and cross a line that she doesn’t want, Gwen makes Jack question his humanity, exposes his vulnerability and pushes him to make the right choices. Gwen dislikes the fact that sometimes jack is the only person ready to cross that line to get the results and she lets him, she can’t do that last bit and the guilt she feels is visible. Gwen is ready to let Jack shoulder the guilt and responsibility and live with the consequences and I feel sometimes Jack is jealous that she still has that freedom and a place to return to, a family and a life jack will never know. Jack envies the life Gwen can have and he feels bad that he needs their connection and is ready to pull her into his world even though he knows she’d be better without that life he needs her. But when it comes to it they would kill for each other and even more importantly kill each other if it meant saving the life they have made for themselves. They are both desperate to protect their life, their purpose and their humanity and if one threatened the other they would end that person’s life.
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I do love how dark this series got and it really exposed the monsters that lurked inside humanity, the depths we go to and the decisions we make when in desperate situations. We wouldn’t all come together and make nice, our governments would make harsh decisions for us and we would even know half of what was happening. The camps were a brilliant idea at first just a place to send all those that were alive but in no state of living and the even worse category 1, coma victims and terminally ill being burnt alive because there isn’t space or anything that can be done for them. It was so harsh and moving, Gwen’s struggle with her dad broke my heart. Desperate to keep him with her but knowing that he was going to die, not wanting unseen forces making the decision of when he should die but allowing the family the time to come to terms with this heart breaking situation. Who really has the right to say when someone is dead and gone, what makes governments think they can play god and that they have the right to reject the emotions and wishes of families and loved ones.
The series continues to expose man’s greed, desire and turmoil. Especially in characters like Oswald Danes, where would a death row paedophile becomes a spokesperson for the forgotten, loved by people for being able to say what everyone else is thinking? He wants to preserve his life so badly he’ll do anything but at the same time he is a dark and twisted person. He feels no remorse for what he’s done, even in his dying moments to the last breath he feels no regret for his crimes, he relishes in his twisted being and his dark path. He is a truly brilliant character ready to stand up and say that people aren’t being treated fairly in this new world, riding his publicity train to fan and using the system to ensure he continues to live and then even when he decides to die for the cause he doesn’t ask for forgiveness no he is the monster to the end.
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So much great plotting and characters make up this dysfunctional and dangerous world and then we have the actual alien element. This I must say got a bit confusing; there is a shaft that runs from Buenos Aires to Shanghai that somehow affected the whole world through a field and jacks blood. So ok some of it got a bit weird, it’s all connected to a beautiful love story from jack past, a secret family organisation that took jacks blood and tried to find the secret of immortality and ended up reorganising the shape of the world. The thing that interested me was the fact that unless you saw the Christmas special of Doctor Who ‘The Runaway Bride’ you would have missed something important. Jack say’s the Doctor told him about a legend about the world being formed around the spine of a ship, which we know is the Racnoss ship. So somehow the Christmas special also ties into Miracle day but I don’t mind I like my DW references and reminders the shows are still linked.

I’m not going to go too much into the plot just go watch the series and discover all the great plotting, character developments and how far this series has come. The one thing I will talk about is Jack’s love life in this series and how people got all offended. So in one ep we get like a 1 minute sex scene where jack decides to have some fun with a barman, and why not he’s human and horny and Captain Jack Harkness, the scene is brief and at the same time Rex and Vera are having their own very strait sex scene. Why this caused controversy I have no idea one gay sex scene and one hetro, both got equal screen time both just not really explicit, both showing that the characters have these needs and feeling and that we are watching a show for adults. I hate it when people start complaining that they don’t want their children watching gay sex scenes, their children shouldn’t be watching Torchwood at all its for adult. Ever since DW we’ve known Jack in omisexual, and after three seasons and the development of his relationship with Ianto we know he’s been in gay relationships so why so shocked that he sleeps with a barman. It’s stupid that it got cut from the UK version for not having plot relevance, there are about a million shows and movies that have pointless striate sex scenes and no one complains, I for one am sick of watching those scenes they do nothing for the plot. I totally reject the whole hetro monogamous couple its boring to watch, I can be in those relationships I want to see something I can’t be a part of and relationship that is beyond me and far more interesting. Plus gay sex is hotter to watch!!! So this lead onto a very important episode which introduces Angelo, Jacks lover from the past and a relationship that put in the foundations that allowed jack to later learn to let someone in and love, there would have been no jack and Ianto if jack hadn’t had this earlier relationship. Also there would have been no Miracle if not for Angelo and how this relationship literally tore Jack apart allowing his ability to be exposed to people that want to use it for their own good. But plot aside people started complaining about the gay agenda, it was one ep with one sex scene and it detailed a beautiful and important relationship. It was another world and place where homosexuality was so much more difficult, we saw another side of jack and what was missing from his life and we saw that sometimes love isn’t enough. I am so sick of putting in a relationship just to keep strait people happy, why shouldn’t there be beautiful gay relationships, why shouldn’t I be allowed to watch 2 beautiful men fall in love and make love, we live in a modern world and therefor people should be more open with the nature of modern desire.
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Well I’ve talked a lot more about the social and cultural importance of this series but it really is great and I’m waiting for my box set to arrive and watch it again.
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Torchwood Miracle Day – an early review because I can’t help myself it’s my biggest fandom and I love John Barrowman!!!!

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Now I know that I usual wait to the end of a show to review it as then I can rant about everything plus spoil it rotten but I just have to give me first impressions of the new torchwood. It will be interesting to see what kind of review I’ll give at the end of the series. So before Miracle Day I listened to the radio plays, first 2 were ok was nice to have some old school stories but god did it make me sad about Ianto. Now I loved Ianto so I was excited at first to have some more episodes even just audio ones with him in it now that I was out of Torchwood books to read. When it came down to it having Ianto back just made me realise how much I missed him and wished he hadn’t died reminding me what the fandom had lost. Now the 3rd radio play, my god did it break my heart. At first it was all yay Jack and Ianto together solving a case until that mega twist of doom!!!!! House of Ghosts was so brilliant for that and heart breaking. What can you say as a Janto fangirl when confronted with the wonderful plot of Jack missing Ianto so much he goes to see his ghost? Ianto as a ghost, the one person in all of Jacks life, with all his loves and loss he wants to see again. That alone spoke volumes to us of how much Ianto meant to Jack.
The whole thing was torturous; they fought beautifully, the combination of Jack’s own selfishness combined with desperation to see Ianto again. Ianto so in love with Jack but appalled by Jacks actions while also coming to terms with what that means and how strongly jack does love him and that they have to be separated again. Even just as voices the pain of finding and losing each other came across through fantastic acting. Jack willing to give up life rather than be without Ianto, his world being empty and just not willing to continue, Ianto convincing him to give up the fight let someone else deal with it so they could have a chance just for it to be a rouse because he doesn’t want Jack to die. How many times can I say heart-breaking but it was and then Janto fangirls around the world rejoiced for Jack told Ianto “I Love You”? There’s no implications, no doubt no room for denial Jack loves Ianto and it’s Ianto he wants to see at the end of it all!!! I like to believe that when Jack does finally die it will be Ianto he meets again in the afterlife and Ianto will be waiting for him probably with a strong cup of coffee in hand.
This finale radio play gave me a lot of closure because I finally got the confession they never gave us in COE and it allowed me to go into Miracle Day knowing that no matter what Jack does his love for Ianto was real and when it’s said and done they will find each other in the afterlife. So I was very happy to accept Jack in Miracle day understanding that he may be depressed and isolated but Ianto gave him a chance to live again and he has a duty not to waist his life but live to protect and be Captain Jack Harkness in all his glory saving the human race and making a difference, his journey isn’t over and if we believe in Doctor Who he has to become the Face of Boe and live a very long life as Earths observer, saviour, protector and make the great sacrifice before he can die.

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So Miracle day, I was rather excited I was so ready for the return of Captain Jack Harkness to my screen and the trailers looked good and the reviews had been good. I have decided to be good and watch it on the BBC rather than get it from the states as I want to make sure it gets the ratings to prove how well it’s doing. So here’s where I stand on TMD and the TW fandom. Its kinda like 2 different series really you could almost say there set in two different realities. TW series 1 and 2 was cheesy, fun and silly, it had its darkness and angst but it wasn’t too harsh in my opinion plus it followed the weekly formula so wasn’t as epic. Now I loved TW that way, I mean all it needed was jack running around and I would love it as John Barrowman can do no wrong. Though I also loved Ianto and it was his and Jacks relationship that interested me the most. I wanted more than the plot and storylines to see the two of them interact and for Ianto to deliver his brilliant one liners. There were brilliant episodes that could carry themselves based on the great writing then there were episodes I liked less for the plot and more for the amount Janto scenes in them.
Now there are two types of shows I like, shows that aren’t the best dramatically but have an awesome slash pairing that blinds me to any of the shows weaknesses and then there are shows so good dramatically that I don’t care that there isn’t a slash paring in them for me to focus on. Good examples of these are Merlin, Hawaii 5.0 and Vampire Diaries for slash though I have to admit I love the first 2, VD even I have given up on. Then there are shows like Fringe, Xfiles and SGU which are just so good I don’t care that nobody is gay. Of course you get shows that fulfil both these criteria like Oz, Glee and Nip/Tuck but series 1 and 2 of TW was for me more about the slash than the plot a lot of the time. Don’t get me wrong TW is my top fandom and I would never let anyone say a bad thing about it because it was brilliant and great fun but lacked the intelligence of great sci-fi like Fringe or the gritty harsh reality of Oz and the extreme dramatic tension and killer style of SGU. But then things shifted in COE which I did a review on back when it came out so I won’t go on about it again.

http://www.lzsy.co.uk/2009/10/torchwood-children-of-the-earth-a-critic-and-a-fans-review/
Now back then I had no intentions of re-joining the fandom but I couldn’t help myself!!! You see COE was a turning point making a new show out of the ashes of the old. Miracle Day has all the epic qualities of COE with the one on-going and intense plot line. With this new style of an epic plot comes far more dramatic tension and the writing has become another level. From the first ep we have a new Torchwood a show where the intelligence of the plot, dramatics and harsh reality become such a driving force that I’m hooked. I’m so intrigued and invested that I don’t miss the slash. TW has become a show like Fringe where my interest isn’t just focused on gay storylines and moments of slashability but truly interested in what’s gonna happen to these characters. Now being TW and having read spoilers and JB interviews I also know that we will still be getting the gay and I am very much looking forward to a bit of naked Jack and sexy times. Though I do wish Ianto had lived to this point but I have my knowledge of that no matter how much sex and boyfriends Jack has in life its Ianto he will return to and is waiting to see after his death. After all it’s not fair to ask Captain Jack Harkness, immortal 51st century omisexual time traveller to stay celibate for the next 6million years.

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As for all the other concerns I had about the show from ep one it doesn’t feel too American and it never can with brilliant lines from Kai Owen, how much love do I have for Rhys and “Captain Jack Bollocks”. Also Gwen has matured so much and with her love for Rhys and their child she is no longer the character I felt was a threat to my Janto pairing but honestly a strong women who is very close to Jack and they make a strong team. I loved Gwen in the first episode, baby ear muff shooting down helicopters was just awesome and I very much hope we see more of the kick arse side of Gwen. Yes I know a lot more of the show will be in America but you can take Gwen out of Wales but you can’t take the Welsh out of Gwen. Jack has always been timeless and impossible to place so he will just always be Jack wherever he is so I don’t fear for him apart from the not being immortal anymore. It’s a very interesting place to go dramatically and I hope they use it well but I will miss the ha ha I’m not dead even though you blew me up moments. I think a lot of the faith I have in this series comes from the fact it was co-produced with Starz and they gave me Spartacus: Blood and Sand which is one of the best shows on TV.
So I know they won’t dumb down the actions, violence or sex they now have the freedom to do. As for the other characters so far Rex seems interesting so concerned with his own goals and advancements he doesn’t mind who gets hurt because of his ambition. He’s going to be a disliked character at first but I think he has a journey to go on so not going to paint him as a bad guy yet just a guy whose priorities need work and is going to make some bad decisions even though he thinks he is doing the right thing. Ester is our other main character who is just the American answer to Gwen series 1, she’s the character that comes in and introduces the American audience to TW. She seems nice and because she is clearly in love with Rex she’s not a threat as a potential Jack love interest but she will also probably grow and have a similar journey to early Gwen. The other character I’m intrigued by is Bill Pullmans paedophile murderer, a brave and bold choice for a character who looks like he has some major weight in the overall plot. I do love a villain that is charming and ruthless and you don’t know exactly where you stand with him so I’m very interested to see his journey as I’m sure nothing in this series is going to be black and white.

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That’s its so far the series has dramatic weight, tension, epicness, global appeal as well as that home grown feeling, interesting characters, great action and one liners and I for one can’t wait to see where this series is going to go.

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