MOVIE REVIEW: Doctor Who: The Day of the Doctor

Wil Avitt
Wil Avitt's picture

As most of you know, this past Saturday saw television history being made. At 19:50 GMT (Greenwich Mean Time, also the time in London, England) the BBC television network held the world's largest simulcast of a television program in broadcasting history. All across the world people turned on their television sets, and a few select groups piled into movie theaters, and saw "The Day of the Doctor", the 50th anniversary feature-length episode of the television series Doctor Who. For many of us, this was the culmination of years of anticipation and speculation. Who will return? Will there be multiple Doctors? And, there had BETTER be multiple Doctors. Will Christopher Eccleston return? Tom Baker? Will they recast Doctors past who have shuffled off this mortal coil? Here it finally was, for better or worse, all of our questions answered, all of the secrets revealed. Be forewarned, dear readers, that here there be spoilers. If you have yet to see this film, turn back now or know that the staff of are not responsible for any surprises that may be ruined if you continue to read at your own risk.

You may have noticed that this is filed under Movie Reviews and not Episode Reviews. The reason for that is because I saw this in the theater and the film has a very theatrical feel to it, so, at least to me, this should be regarded as a legit movie and not simply another episode of the series. To do that, in my opinion, is to severely underestimate the cinematic effort put forth by all involved. "The Day of the Doctor" stars Matt Smith, David Tennant, Jenna Louise-Coleman, Billie Piper and two-time Academy Award nominee Sir John Hurt as a before unmentioned incarnation of the Doctor.

The film opens with the Doctor (Matt Smith) and Clara assisting UNIT in investigating a strange occurance in which several paintings seemed to have had their subjects escape from the landscapes they were painted on. One painting, called either No More or Gallifrey Falls, depicts the last day of the Time War which saw the destruction of the Doctor's homeworld Gallifrey. The audience is then taken inside the painting where we meet up with the Doctor (John Hurt) in the thick of the war and faced with the decision of destroying Gallifrey to save the rest of the universe from the evil pepper shakers known as the Daleks. The Doctor comes across an artificial intelligence called the Moment, who takes the appearance of Rose Tyler, companion to both the Ninth and Tenth incarnations of the Doctor. We are then transported to England in the Sixteenth Century where we find the the Doctor (David Tennant) cavorting with Queen Elizabeth I. The couple are soon attacked by Zygons and during the fight a fissure in the space/time continuum is opened and our three Doctors are soon thrust together by the Moment.

The three Doctors then travel from Elizabethan England to modern London in an attempt to defeat the Zygons. They all eventually find themselves on Gallifrey, on the last day of the Time War, trying to convince their younger self that destroying Gallifrey can't be the right answer. As the three men argue the decision, which comes off sort of as the personification of the internal struggle the Hurt Doctor was going through when we first met him, they soon come to the realization that destroying Gallifrey was always the only choice. Until, with the three of them together, they realize that they can send Gallifrey away, isolated in a single moment of time. To the universe, Gallifrey would seem to have been destroyed, but the people on the planet would be allowed to live on.

As with the Schwartz, this movie has its upsides ans downsides. I will say, however, that the good far outweighs the bad. Most of the criticism I've heard and read seem to come from people that don't seem to understand Who at all. Many people have decried it for tampering with continuity. It actually expands on continuity, explaining things that before made little sense. For example, in The End of Time Rassilon and the Time Lords break through some type of barrier, attempting to destroy all of reality. If the Doctor destroyed them, where are they coming from? They are coming from that single moment in time our three Doctors trapped them from, obviously. I've also read comments that it jumped around too much and was hard to follow. Balderdash, say I! Stuff of nonsense and phooey! To even the untrained eye, I found this story to have a very distinct beginning, middle and end. The acting was superb all around, the writing was solid, the direction and cinematography were, in the words of one Doctor, fantastic. The special effects were very cinematic and above par from what they normally do in the series, which is still usually pretty good, and, if you saw it in 3D, the 3D work put to shame even some big budget feature films. The Day of the Doctor was stunning. And, as an added bonus, Tom Baker returned for a memorable cameo.

The film wasn't, of course, without its disappointments. I missed Christopher Eccleston, who was actually in mind when Steven Moffat wrote the episode. Eccleston, who was previously thought to be a lost cause, seriously considered returning to the role, but ultimately decided not to. Moffat knew he was a long shot and crafted a brilliant story that would work with or without Eccleston. I missed Eccleston as the Ninth Doctor because I really felt this was the culmination of everything that's happened thus far since the show returned in 2005. Eccleston really needed to be there and I think the final shot, of all 12 Doctors, would have been much more iconic if the three modern Doctors had been standing in the center. To me, no Eccleston was the crowning disappointment of the piece. Of course, we all knew going in that the Doctor who (no pun intended) kicked off Doctor Who's modern age would not be there. Another disappointment for me was that Billie Piper didn't actually play Rose Tyler, but just the Moment taking Rose's form. For me, Rose has always been my favorite companion and Eccleston my favorite Doctor, so when Rose wasn't actually there I kinda felt gipped on two fronts. But we got what we got and overall, what we got was spectacular. I, for one, will be counting the days until The Day of the Doctor is released on blu-ray a d DVD on December 10th. I give The Day of the Doctor a 4 out of 5.

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