Tuesday, 13 September 2011

Big Gay Longcat reviews Daleks' Invasion Earth 2150 A.D.

Foreword by Duncan

Citizen Kane (1941), The Godfather (1972), Star Wars (1977), Transformers: The Movie (1986), Daleks’ Invasion Earth 2150 A.D. (1966). Five classic films that have stood the test of time and shaped our culture and our lives to such an extent that, if Monkey accepted Buddha’s challenge today and flew on his cloud to the end of the universe, the five pillars there would take the forms of Orson Welles, Marlon Brando, Darth Vader, Optimus Prime, and a Dalek.

How much has been written about these films in the years since they have been made? Essays, books, screeds of internet forum posts, whole libraries of text. But all of them, with hardly any exceptions, written by human beings. Big Gay Longcat has, so far, confined himself to reviewing only obscure TV shows and films, such as Blakes 7, Doctor Who, and Star Trek, which receive very little in the way of literary criticism, save only in obscure corners of the world wide web.

It is brave of him, a three-year-old cat made from a pair of stripy long socks, to take on such a challenge. I wish him well, and would like to thank him for giving me this opportunity, in writing this foreword, to give my own perspective on how this great film has touched my life and, perhaps, place it in some sort of context.

1988 was Doctor Who’s 25th anniversary year. I was 9 years old then, and playing at ‘Doctor Who’ was a popular playground pastime at my primary school. Thanks to some of the older children - friends or brothers of friends of mine - videos of the older stories (and older Doctors) were for the first time becoming available to us. So the Tetraps and Cleaners of Season 24 were slowly replaced, in our games, by Zygons and Robots of Death.

But there was one constant foe that the 9-year-old Doctor (and Harry and Tom and Sarah-Jane) would come up against time and again: Daleks!

This was thanks to my copy of Daleks’ Invasion Earth 2150 A.D, taped off the TV, by my parents, for me. I can’t tell you how many times I must have watched that film (this was over 20 years ago, after all), but it must have been almost as many times as we played those scenes over: the Robomen turning upon the Daleks; the bomb being deflected by heroic Tom Campbell (or sometimes by Harry Sullivan instead); the Daleks going out of control and loudly announcing that fact to all and sundry.

Of course later that same year we got a TV story that would prove to be even more popular in the playground than any other, even my beloved Daleks’ Invasion Earth 2150 A.D. But not to worry, because it too starred the Daleks, and what Daleks! The 25th anniversary year of Doctor Who was a golden age for the series at my primary school, and it is that time that I always think of when I think of Daleks’ Invasion Earth 2150 A.D.

Perhaps this is the best way to view classic films such as this - through a nostalgic haze (or the proverbial ‘rose-tinted spectacles’)? Well maybe looking at the film through the googly eyes of a big, gay, long cat will give us a fresh perspective…

Review by Big Gay Longcat

This film is the sequel to Dr. Who and the Daleks. It stars Peter Cushing as Dr Who, with Bernard Cribbins as Tom Campbell, Roberta Tovey as Susan and Jill Curzon as Louise.

It starts with a manny in a car. He is waiting for something but we don't know what - already there is a mystery. Bernard Cribbins appears, maybe the manny was waiting for him?

The manny attacks Bernard Cribbins and knocks him down. There is an explosion! Two more mannys run out and get in the car with the other manny and they drive away. Bernard Cribbins chases them but they are too fast for him because they are in a car.

Bernard Cribbins sees TARDIS and runs to it for help. He is surprised to find that it is bigger on the inside and he faints. Dr Who makes TARDIS disappear - they have taken Bernard Cribbins with them. Cue titles!

Bernard Cribbins is playing Tom Campbell. Tom wakes up and Dr Who tells him they are in 2150AD. He introduces Susan and his niece Louise. Ian and Barbara are not in this film, so we have Tom and Louise instead.

Tom doesn't really believe they are in 2150AD until he goes outside and sees they are in a different place. A lot of bricks and things fall down and Tom saves Susan from being squashed, but it means they can't get back in to TARDIS.

Dr Who and Tom have to go and look for something to help them move all the rubbish. They go into a building and find a dead Roboman. Susan and Louise meet Wyler and they see a flying saucer before he takes them to the London Underground.

Dr Who and Tom meet more Robomen (alive ones this time). David tries to help them but a Dalek comes out of the river and they are captured.

Wow, I didn't expect a Dalek to be there. It is less than 14 minutes into the film before a Dalek appears, this story has really got going fast.

In the secret Underground base Susan and Louise meet Dortmun and find out about the Daleks when they hear them on the radio. They are trying to order all the mannys to obey them but Dortmun is not impressed: "Obey motorised dustbins? We'll see about that!"

Dortmun explains about the Daleks' invasion of Earth, the Robomen, and the Daleks' big mine in Bedfordshire (this will be important later on). David comes in and tells them that Dr Who and Tom have been caught and taken to the flying saucer.

At the flying saucer Dr Who, Tom and other mannys are prisoners. One of the mannys runs away but he is caught by the Daleks and steamed to death while the Daleks shout "Exterminate!"

The other prisoners go inside the spaceship. Dr Who, Tom and Craddock are put in a cell together. Dr Who uses Tom's comb to open the door and they escape. Except they are captured again straight away.

"Back in the cell?" Dr Who is sad at being caught after having been so clever.

The Daleks are going to turn them into Robomen. They are made to dress like Robomen first and are then put in a machine that will "robotise" them.

The rebels have a plan to attack the Daleks with David disguised as a Roboman. They get to the spaceship before a Dalek sees through his disguise, so he pushes the Dalek down a ramp and it explodes.

Daleks raise the alarm while rebels run around and attack them with bombs. They rescue Dr Who and Tom, but not Craddock - he is now a Roboman.

Louise hides in a cupboard and is knocked out by an explosion. Tom looks for her but he can't find her. There are so many Daleks and Robomen that most of the rebels run away. Dr Who gets away with David and they escape from Daleks by going down a hole where the Daleks can't follow. Wyler gets away but the rest of his mannys are steamed by Daleks.

Tom and Louise are still on the spaceship. The dramatic music of the last scene turns into silly music, heralding a silly scene coming up.

Tom pretends to be a Roboman and hides among a group of other Robomen. They do everything at the same time, including having noms and sleeps, and Tom tries to copy them but ends up looking very silly because he is always a little behind the rest of them. This scene is very funny.

The film goes serious again when Wyler gets back to the secret Underground base and meets Dortmun and Susan, both of whom stayed behind - Dortmun because he is in a wheelchair and Susan because she's only little. They are going to have to run away from London now so Susan writes a message for Dr Who telling him what they're going to do.

Still on the spaceship, Tom gets away from the real Robomen and he meets up with Louise. Tom takes off his Roboman clothes; he is wearing his normal clothes underneath.

Dr Who and David do the same with their Roboman clothes. They are back at the secret Underground base (but the others are gone now). Dr Who finds out about the Daleks' mine in Bedfordshire and decides to go there. David agrees to go with him.
"Most unlike Susan not to leave me a message," says Dr Who, and then the door closes behind him and we see the message written on it - he doesn't because he is on the wrong side.

The humour in this film is much subtler than in Dr. Who and the Daleks - there it was all caused by Ian being clumsy, but here there is always a dramatic undertone to the funny bits. Tom looked silly to us while he was copying the Robomen, but he had to do it or he would have been caught and maybe steamed by a Dalek. And while it is funny to us that Dr Who missed Susan's message because it was on the door, it means that they don't know where to meet and that has serious implications.

The spaceship takes off with Tom and Louise still on it.

Wyler, Dortmun and Susan find a van to drive away in, just as Daleks are coming to get them. Dortmun tries to blow them up with his bombs before they can steam him, but the explosion is so big that it knocks down a building and he is killed as well.

More Daleks come so Wyler drives the van through them and manages to make some of them explode. The Daleks get their spaceship to chase the van and blow it up, but Wyler and Susan get out in time. These scenes where they are escaping from London are very exciting because they are in constant peril from lots of Daleks.

When it lands Tom and Louise escape from the spaceship by using a Disposal Chute (handily marked "Disposal Chute"). They are at the Daleks' mine and there they meet Conway. Tom knocks out a Roboman and they have to hide in a shed.

Wyler and Susan find a cottage where two old mannys stay. They get some noms and have a rest there.

Dr Who and David get to the mine where they meet Philip Madoc. He is not friendly and points his gun at them, but he offers to take them into the mine without them getting captured by Daleks or Robomen.

The two old mannys have told the Daleks about Wyler and Susan to get more food. Wyler finds out and they try to sneak away but a Dalek catches them and takes them to the mine.

The narrative of the film has cleverly separated the main characters into three groups for the middle of the story (Dr Who and David, Tom and Louise, Wyler and Susan) so they could all have different adventures, yet they have all ended up in the same place for the end of the story.

Philip Madoc takes Dr Who and David to the shed where Tom and Louise are hiding with the help of Conway. Conway tells Dr Who the full extent of the Daleks' plan with the mine:
"The Daleks are going to extract the metallic core of the Earth. Some insane idea of piloting the planet and using it like a giant spaceship."
Wow! That's an amazing idea. Dr Who thinks so too, and he thinks the Daleks can make it work.

The Dalek control room is very large and impressive (and colourful), even compared with their control room in Dr. Who and the Daleks.

In the Dalek control room the Black Dalek and the Gold Dalek are in charge and they are making their bomb ready. It is big and red so we know it is dangerous.

Dr Who has a plan to deflect the bomb so it blows up the Daleks instead of the Earth's core. Philip Madoc doesn't want to help so he leaves. Tom, Conway, David and Louise go to start the plan while Dr Who stays in the shed.

Tom and Conway meet Craddock (who was made into a Roboman earlier but they don't know that). He fights with Conway while Tom gets away, but both of them fall down the mine.

Philip Madoc comes back into the shed with lots of Daleks and they capture Dr Who.
"I'm so sorry," he says.
"Oh, don't apologise. I expected it," replies Dr Who.

Dr Who leaves with one Dalek. The rest of them stay behind.

Philip Madoc tries to hide in the shed but the Daleks all steam the shed and it blows up with Philip Madoc inside.

Dr Who meets Susan and Wyler. They are taken to the Dalek control room. Dr Who sees the Black Dalek giving orders to Robomen using a microphone. He looks down the hole where the bomb will be dropped and sees Tom hiding there.

Dr Who pretends to talk to the Daleks but really he is talking to Tom, telling him how to beat the Daleks.
"One mistake; one deviation in the aiming of your bomb and enough magnetic energy will be released to destroy you."
Tom understands what he has to do.

The Daleks think Dr Who is the rebel leader (maybe Philip Madoc told them he was?) and they are about to exterminate him when he fools them with another brilliant trick - he offers to help them overcome their weakness, but he is only pretending because he shouts "Look!" and when they all look up at the bomb he runs to the microphone.

"Attention all Robomen! Attack the Daleks! This order cannot be countermanded: attack the Daleks!"
Straightaway all the Robomen start attacking Daleks and the Daleks have to start steaming their own mannys. There is a big fight and the Robomen all get steamed, but the prisoners at the mine have all managed to escape.

The Daleks begin their countdown for the bomb. Yay, a countdown! It will explode after 50 rels.

The bomb drops down and Tom deflects it with planks of wood. He then runs away.

The bomb explodes too soon, before the time that the Daleks had set for it.
"Danger! Danger!" shouts the Black Dalek. The Daleks try to abandon the base but they all go out of control.
"Cannot control!" shouts the Black Dalek, "Cannot control! Cannot control!"

Then he falls down the hole. Silly Dalek.

The spaceship tries to take off but it crashes into the mine and blows up in the biggest explosion of all.

All of the mannys have escaped into the hills. Dr Who, Tom, Susan and Louise get back to TARDIS.

They take Tom back to before the start of the film, when the manny is still in his car, waiting for something (only this time we know what, and so does Tom). Tom knocks the manny out and gets in the car. After the explosion happens the other two mannys run out and get in the car so Tom knocks them out too. He waves to TARDIS as he drives the car past.

Dr Who, Susan and Louise wave back, and that is the end of the film.

This film is even better than the first one. It is exciting from the very first explosion all the way through to the last (which is the same as the first explosion due to time-travel - now that's clever).

This is not a long film, but it wastes no time in establishing its characters, setting and plot while going from one thrilling scene to the next, so it still has time to do clever things like separating the main characters and bringing them back together again, or having the Daleks being defeated by their own weapons - the Robomen and the big red bomb.

Speaking of the big red bomb, this film is very colourful and fabulous to watch, which is important because it is a spectacle and helps it feel epic in scale. The first film was very colourful, of course, but they had to top it for this one and for me they succeeded.

This film also had some great guest-stars, such as Bernard Cribbins and Philip Madoc. Philip Madoc's character did have a name, but I can't remember it and it doesn't really matter - he was Philip Madoc!

Bernard Cribbins played the important character of Tom Campbell. He was important because Ian's story was told in Dr. Who and the Daleks, so they needed a new character to fill the role of Ian Chesterton in the TV version of this story.

Tom is different from Ian because he is not clumsy - we can tell this early on when he saves Susan from the falling things. Later on he saves the whole of planet Earth, and he is rewarded by being able to undo his mistake of letting the baddys get the jump on him at the start of the film.

Starcat tells me that this was made in 1966, which is the same year that Star Trek began. I asked him which he liked better and he said Star Trek. Well he would; he's Starcat. I don't know myself, I think I will have to watch more Star Trek before I make a decision...

1 comment:

  1. Bloody hilarious review! What exactly is a "Manny"? As for the Daleks "Steaming" ...... PMSL! The Robomen look really sexy in their shiny black PVC suits! You didn't mention that? LOL! The Daleks must be kinky?