Kevin McNally

V is for Village of the Angels

Series 13 of Doctor Who did something a bit different and had one larger story told over the course of six episodes. It was called “Flux” and there was a lot of moving parts to it, personally there were some I liked, some I didn’t, and some stuff I still didn’t quite understand even having now watched it twice but one thing that did stand out was the fourth episode in this story arc; “Village of the Angels”.

It’s my favourite episode of this story arc because it’s one of the more self-contained ones. Set in Devon in the 1960s, a little girl has gone missing, Professor Eustacius Jericho (Kevin McNally) is conducting psychic experiments, and in the village graveyard, there is one gravestone too many – it’s the Weeping Angels.

As mentioned before when I talked about “Blink” which is the first episode these creatures appeared in, the Weeping Angels are proper scary when done right. By this point it’d been a while since we’d had an episode with Weeping Angels, and the last time they were used it had got a little samey for me so they didn’t feel as terrifying as they once were. “Village of the Angels” changed that and made the Weeping Angels a proper threat again. Characters got caught by the Angels and sent back in time, some characters we care about, others we don’t, and the realities of getting stuck in the past feels real and dangerous.

As well as giving us a scary villain, “Village of the Angels” gives us some great new characters in Professor Jericho and Claire (Annabel Scholey). There’s a lot happening in these Flux episodes and new characters are introduced all the time but those two really stood out. Jericho is smart, kind and quickly adapts when the Doctor arrives and starts talking about moving statues and the importance of not blinking. Claire is a woman out of time with some psychic abilities meaning there’s the opportunity to do something different with the Weeping Angels and her mind. The highest accolade I can give to characters like Jericho and Claire is I’d love to see them have more adventures in the TARDIS. They are both companion-material.

“Village of the Angels” is a really atmospheric story that does push the overarching “Flux” plot on, but also puts characters in proper peril, has a relentless villain, and has the kind of cliffhanger that is almost impossible to live up to the potential it sets up.

REVIEW: Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest (2006)

Captain Jack Sparrow (Johnny Depp) races to find the heart of Davy Jones (Bill Nighy) to avoid succumbing to Davy Jones’ Locker while Will Turner (Orlando Bloom) and Elizabeth Swann (Keira Knightley) search for Jack to serve their own agenda.

Dead Man’s Chest loses some of the fun seen in The Curse of the Black Pearl (2003). There’s still moments that are delightful, like the sword fight on a giant wheel between Sparrow, Turner and Norrington (Jack Davenport). While that sequence leaves you with a huge smile on your face, there definitely isn’t as many laugh out moments compared to the first film.

That’s in part to how the main trio spend pretty much the first hour apart from each other, or as a duo and when the third arrives, someone else disappears. There’s still the other members of Jack’s crew like Gibbs (Kevin McNally), Pintel (Lee Arenberg) and Ragetti (Mackenzie Crook) to add to the dynamics but when the main trio’s not together for convoluted reasons it does drag the film down a bit.

Convoluted is a good way to describe the plot of Dead Man’s Chest. There’s a lot of threads that different characters are following and it’s just a little messy at times. This is in part due to the villains. There’s Davy Jones, who doesn’t appear on screen till almost midway through the film but he certainly makes an entrance, and there’s also Cutler Beckett (Tom Hollander), the Chairman of the East India Trading Company. Cutler Beckett is a different kind of villain, he has power and ties different from your average pirate making him a foreboding presence looming from the shadows.

The effects still stand up, especially the work on Davy Jones and his crew, and the battles between the Flying Dutchman and the Black Pearl are still exciting and look great. It’s the exposition that doesn’t always work.

Dead Man’s Chest is not a bad film by any means. It just loses a lot of the family-fun/action-adventure vibes present in the first film, making it a bit less enjoyable. 3/5.