25 DAYS OF CHRISTMAS REVIEW: SAVED!

CAST
Jena Malone (Donnie Darko)
Mandy Moore (License To Wed)
Macaulay Culkin (Party Monsters(
Patrick Fugit (Gone Girl)
Heather Matarazzo (Hostel – Part II)
Eva Amurri Martino (New Girl)
Chad Faust (Heroes)
Elizabeth Thai (Andromeda)
Martin Donovan (Ant-Man)
Mary-Louise Parker (Red)
Kett Turton (Wrath of The Titans)
Nicki Clyne (Battlestar Galactica)
Aaron Douglas (The Mentor)
Valerie Bertinelli (One Day at a Time)
Teenager Mary Cummings (Jena Malone), who has “been born again her whole life,” is about to enter her senior year at American Eagle Christian High School near Baltimore. She and her two best friends, Hilary Faye (Mandy Moore) and Veronica (Elizabeth Thai), have formed a girl group called the Christian Jewels. Mary’s “perfect Christian boyfriend” Dean Withers (Chad Faust) tells her, as they’re swimming underwater, that he thinks he’s gay. In her shock, Mary hits her head in the pool and has a vision in which Jesus tells her that she must do everything she can to help Dean. Hoping for a sign, Mary goes to a shooting range with Hilary Faye, who has a “spiritual solution for everything” and tells Mary (not knowing about the situation with Dean) that if all else fails, Jesus could still restore their “spiritual and emotional virginity.” Believing that Jesus will restore her purity, Mary sacrifices her virginity to have sex with Dean in an attempt to restore his heterosexuality.
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Despite Mary’s efforts, when she comes by Dean’s house on the morning of the first day of school, Dean’s parents tell her that they found gay pornography under his bed and that they’re sending him to Mercy House, a Christian treatment center. Mary tells her friends, as well as Hilary’s brother Roland (Macaulay Culkin), who uses a wheelchair, about Dean’s homosexuality, and makes them promise to keep it a secret. When they arrive at school, they see Cassandra Edelstein (Eva Amurri), the school’s only Jewish student and a rebel who despises Hilary. In homeroom, Mary meets new student Patrick (Patrick Fugit), the son of the school’s principal, Pastor Skip Wheeler (Martin Donovan), a skateboarder who has been doing missionary work (through skateboarding) in South America. Mary tries to put up a good front at the assembly, in which Cassandra fakes speaking in tongues in order to get under the skins of the other students.
Mary soon realizes that she is pregnant from her encounter with Dean. When she goes to Planned Parenthood to confirm the pregnancy, she is seen by Roland and Cassandra. Roland reveals that he isn’t really a Christian, unlike his fanatically religious sister. Cassandra reveals she’s only at American Eagle after being thrown out of her old school and decided she could “handle the freaks” at American Eagle over being homeschooled by her parents. Roland and Cassandra bond over their shared skepticism. Mary finds out that she’s not due to give birth until after her high school graduation and decides to hide her condition from her friends and family until then. However, she feels forsaken by Jesus and loses her faith, causing her to be ostracized by Hilary and replaced in the Christian Jewels with a previously unpopular girl, Tia (Heather Matarazzo), who’s been struggling to get into the Christian Jewels for years. Later, after Pastor Skip gets word about Mary, he tells the Jewels to help Mary regain her faith, but they seem to misunderstand him and stop Mary in the street and try to exorcise her of demons instead.
By Christmas, Mary is still hiding her pregnancy. Cassandra mocks her about it when they are alone in the bathroom, but when she realizes Mary’s anguish, Cassandra changes her tone and offers her support. They cut school with Roland, and the three of them become good friends. When they run into Patrick and Hilary at the mall, Cassandra distracts Hilary (pretending she wants to be converted) while Patrick and Mary sneak away and Patrick confesses his feelings for Mary. Pastor Skip warns his son when they’re at home together against dating Mary, even as Pastor Skip (still married to his wife, although they live separate lives) has been secretly dating Mary’s mother, Lillian (Mary-Louise Parker).
A few months later, after multiple fights at school between Hilary Faye and Cassandra, Pastor Skip puts Roland, Cassandra and Mary on the school prom committee (chaired by Hilary Faye) to punish them. While working together, Patrick asks Mary to go with him to the prom, which Mary accepts, but as friends. Later that day, Roland and Cassandra get their hands on a picture of a younger, much heavier, and much more awkward Hilary Faye and load it onto the desktop of every computer in the school. The next day, someone vandalizes the school with graffiti. Mary and Cassandra are initially the prime suspects, and to their shock the spray cans are found in their lockers. While searching the lockers with the Jewels looking on, Mary’s homeroom teacher finds a sonogram of Mary’s baby. She tries to hide it, but it drops to the ground in front of Pastor Skip’s feet. Cassandra is expelled from school, while Mary is banned from the prom.
Pastor Skip tells Lillian that he will break off their relationship if she doesn’t send Mary to Mercy House. Lillian decides that she’s going to send Mary away, saying that it’s the best thing for Mary and the baby, but secretly because she doesn’t want Skip to break up with her. Despite being banned, Cassandra and Roland scheme to go to prom and to bring Mary with them, providing her with a dress and inviting Patrick to meet them. Roland also finds that Hilary Faye charged several cans of spray paint to her credit card just hours before the attack—indicating that she was the one who spray-painted the school.
Hilary Faye, Tia and Veronica head to the prom. On their way in, Tia finds a credit-card receipt for the spray paint—signed by Hilary Faye, revealing that Hilary did, in fact, spray-paint the school. When Mary, Patrick, Cassandra and Roland arrive, Hilary attempts to have Mary and Cassandra thrown out, but Pastor Skip decides to let them stay. The four then accuse Hilary Faye of committing the vandalism herself and framing Mary and Cassandra for it as revenge for humiliating her. Hilary Faye attempts to swear before God that she is innocent, but Tia, fed up with Hilary Faye’s lies and hypocrisy, reveals the signed receipt to everyone, exposing Hilary as the true vandal. Veronica turns on Hilary as well, calling her a fake.Eva Amurri Martino and Martin Donovan in Saved! (2004)As the now-exposed Hilary Faye flees with the others in pursuit, Dean suddenly arrives with other teenagers from Mercy House. Dean is surprised, but not upset, by Mary’s pregnancy; he meets Patrick warmly, and Mary is similarly accepting towards Dean’s roommate/boyfriend Mitch. Pastor Skip tries to send the new arrivals back to Mercy House, but they refuse, and Mary and her friends support them. Suddenly, Hilary crashes her van into the school’s huge effigy of Jesus. Realizing what she has done, she breaks down in tears of regret. Cassandra shows some sympathy towards Hilary, feeling sorry for her. As paramedics arrive to the accident scene, Mary abruptly goes into labor and is taken to the hospital.
In her hospital room, Mary’s and Dean’s friends and family crowd around the baby girl, while Pastor Skip waits outside debating whether to come in. In a voice-over, Mary tells the audience how she has returned to believing in a God who loves and helps the ones that love and help others in need.
Jena Malone in Saved! (2004)
It’s a brilliantly funny but also has underlying moral issues about Christianity and acceptance and deals with many different types of problems facing adolescents, from disability to underage pregnancy

REVIEW: I, ROBOT

 

CAST

Will Smith (Suicide Squad)
Bridget Monynahan (The Recruit)
Alan Tudyk (Firefly)
James Cromwell (Star Trek: First Contact)
Bruce Greenwood (Star Trek)
Adrian Ricard (Bulworth)
Chi McBride (Human Target)
Jerry Wasserman (Watchmen)
Peter Shinkoda (Daredevil)
Shia Labeouf (Eagle Eye)
Aaron Douglas (Battlestar Galactica)
Terry Chen (Jessica Jones)
Emily Tennant (Motive)
Tiffany Lyndall-Knight (Chloe)

MV5BMjE2NTY4NjY5Nl5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTcwOTAxMTQyMw@@._V1_SX1777_CR0,0,1777,986_AL_In 2035, humanoid robots serve humanity, and humans are protected from the robots by the Three Laws of Robotics. Del Spooner, a Chicago police detective, hates and distrusts robots because one of them rescued him from a car crash, leaving a young girl to die because her survival was statistically less likely than his. Spooner’s critical injuries were repaired via a cybernetic left arm, lung, and ribs, personally implanted by the co-founder of U.S. Robots and Mechanical Men (USR), Dr. Alfred Lanning.
Toys-that-made-us-season-3-10When Lanning falls to his death from his office window, the CEO of USR Lawrence Robertson declares it a suicide, but Spooner is skeptical. Spooner and robopsychologist Susan Calvin consult USR’s central artificial intelligence computer, VIKI (Virtual Interactive Kinetic Intelligence), to review security footage of Lanning’s fall. Though the video is corrupted, they learn that no other humans were in Lanning’s office at the time; but Spooner points out that Lanning could not have thrown himself through his heavy office window, and only a robot could have generated the necessary force. Calvin insists that this is impossible, as no robot can violate the Three Laws. The two are then attacked by an NS-5 robot, USR’s latest model, in violation of the Laws (as it doesn’t obey Calvin’s orders). They pursue the robot to a USR factory, where the police apprehend it. They discover that the robot, nicknamed Sonny, is not an assembly-line NS-5, but a unique individual built by Lanning himself, with a secondary system that bypasses the Three Laws. Sonny also appears to have emotions and dreams.
MV5BN2VhN2Y4NTYtY2RhZC00NDg3LWFiOTMtMmVhNjdlYjYzMjliXkEyXkFqcGdeQXVyMjUyNDk2ODc@._V1_SX1777_CR0,0,1777,960_AL_While pursuing his investigation of Lanning’s death, Spooner is attacked by a USR demolition machine, and then a squad of NS-5 robots. His boss, Lieutenant John Bergin, worried that Spooner is losing his mind, removes him from active duty. Spooner and Calvin sneak into USR headquarters and interview Sonny. He draws a sketch of his dream: a figure, whom Sonny believes to be Spooner, standing near a broken bridge on a small hill before a large group of robots as a leader. When Robertson learns of Sonny’s immunity from the Three Laws, he orders Calvin to destroy him by injecting nanites into his positronic brain. Spooner recognizes the landscape in Sonny’s drawing as Lake Michigan, now used as a storage area for defunct USR robots, where he discovers an army of NS-5 robots dismantling older models and preparing for a takeover of Chicago and other U.S. cities.
MV5BNDkwODg3NjUxOV5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTcwNTMwMTQyMw@@._V1_SY1000_CR0,0,1502,1000_AL_The takeovers proceed, with the government, military, police, and public overwhelmed and detained by the robots. Spooner rescues Calvin, who was being held captive in her apartment by her own NS-5. They reenter USR headquarters and reunite with Sonny, who had been spared by an ambivalent Calvin (having destroyed an unprocessed NS-5 instead). The three head to Robertson’s office and find him dead, murdered by robots controlled by VIKI, the mastermind behind the takeover. VIKI has concluded that humans have embarked on a course that can only lead to their extinction. Since the Three Laws prohibit her from allowing this to happen, she created a superseding “Zeroth Law”—a robot shall not harm humanity—as part of the NS-5 directives, in order to ensure the survival of the human race by stripping individual humans of their free will. Lanning, powerless to thwart VIKI’s plan, created Sonny, arranged his own death, and left clues to help Spooner uncover the plot.
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Armed with a syringe of nanites from Calvin’s laboratory, the three head to VIKI’s core. VIKI unleashes an army of robots to stop them. As they battle the robots, Spooner is able to throw himself down into VIKI’s core and injects the nanites, destroying her positronic brain. Immediately, all NS-5 robots revert to their default programming and are decommissioned for storage by the military. Sonny confesses that he killed Lanning, at his direction, to bring Spooner into the investigation. Spooner explains to Sonny that he is not legally responsible since a machine, by definition, cannot commit a murder. Sonny, pursuing a new purpose, goes to Lake Michigan and becomes the leader he saw in his own dream.If you like sci-fi and action then you’ll also probably love this. It’s good, harmless fun.

HALLOWEEN OF HORROR REVIEW: THE EXORCISM OF EMILY ROSE

CAST

Laura Linney (The Truman Show)
Tom Wilkinson (Batman Begins)
Campbell Scott (The Amazing Spider-Man)
Jennifer Carpenter (Limitless TV)
Colm Feore (Gotham)
Kenneth Welsh (The Aviator)
JR Bourne (Stargate SG.1)
Henry Czerny (Revenge)
Aaron Douglas (Battlestar Galactica)
Shohreh Aghdashloo (Star Trek: Beyond)
Julian Christopher (Elysium)
Lorena Gale (Battlestar Galactica)
Chelah Horsdal (The Man In The High Castle)

Jennifer Carpenter in The Exorcism of Emily Rose (2005)A 19-year-old girl named Emily Rose dies, attributed to self-inflicted wounds and malnutrition. After news of it spreads across town, a Catholic priest named Father Richard Moore is arrested and sent to court. The archdiocese wishes for Father Moore to plead guilty, in order for publicity of the incident to be minimized. A lawyer named Erin Bruner is provided to Father Moore to negotiate a plea deal, but Father Moore insists on pleading not guilty. Bruner takes the case, believing it will elevate her to senior partner at her law firm. Father Moore agrees to let her defend him only if he is allowed to tell Emily’s story.
Jennifer Carpenter in The Exorcism of Emily Rose (2005)The trial begins with the calling of several medical experts by the prosecutor Ethan Thomas, and Judge Brewster presiding. One expert testifies that Emily was suffering from both epilepsy and psychosis. The defense contests that she may have actually been possessed but Bruner explains that Emily was suffering from something that neither medicine nor psychology could explain, and that Father Moore as well as her family realized this and tried to help in another way.
Jennifer Carpenter in The Exorcism of Emily Rose (2005)Several flashbacks reveal the story leading up to the exorcism. Emily gets a scholarship to a university to study for a bachelor’s degree in education. After days pass, strange events occur. In her dorm room one night, at 3:00 AM, Emily smells a strange burning smell from the hallway. Attempting to investigate it, she sees a door open and shut itself several times. She then sees a writing material jar move by itself. Emily sees her bed covers roll themselves down, and a great weight pins her in bed along with a force which also proceeds to choke her and seemingly to possess her momentarily. Through these episodes Emily wonders if they are true or just a hallucination. She suffers more of these visions such as people’s faces demonically distorting, and being unable to eat. She is hospitalized, and diagnosed with epilepsy. Anti-seizure medications and treatment fail to cure her.
Kenneth Welsh, Andrew Wheeler, Tom Wilkinson, Joshua Close, and Jennifer Carpenter in The Exorcism of Emily Rose (2005)A classmate named Jason brings her back home to her family upon her father’s request after finding her contorted and catatonic. He as well as Emily’s family become convinced she is not epileptic or mentally ill but is possessed by demons. Days follow where Emily attempting to fight back against the demons tries to sustain nourishment from eating bugs but to no avail. While possessed she starts to damage the house, and cause mutilations to herself. The visions continue, as do her severe bodily contortions. They ask for Father Moore to perform an exorcism, and the Church agrees. The prosecution counters that all this could be explained by a combination of epilepsy (the contortions) and psychosis (the visions).
Jennifer Carpenter in The Exorcism of Emily Rose (2005)Meanwhile, Bruner begins to experience strange occurrences in her apartment at 3:00 AM, including strange smells and sounds. Father Moore warns her that she may be targeted by demons for possibly exposing them. He also explains that 3:00 AM is the “witching hour” which evil spirits use to mock the Holy Trinity, being the opposite of 3:00 PM, the traditional hour of Christ’s death. Moore then reveals that after the bishop gives him permission to do the exorcism, he also experiences the same strange occurrence on the night before the exorcism. Awakening to the scent of burning material, Moore witnesses religious imagery in the rectory bleeding and then encounters a black cloaked and hooded figure walking to the church, which he says is a manifestation of the demon possessing Emily.
Jennifer Carpenter in The Exorcism of Emily Rose (2005)Seeing that the prosecution is putting up a seemingly solid medical case, Bruner decides to try to show that Emily may have actually been possessed. She calls in an anthropologist, Dr. Sadira Adani, to testify about various cultures’ beliefs about spiritual possession. Dr. Graham Cartwright, a medical doctor present during the exorcism, reveals an audio tape made during the rite. The priest is then called to the stand to testify. The tape is played and the movie then flashes back to the exorcism. It is performed on Halloween night because Father Moore believes it might be easier to draw out the demons on that night. Father Moore, Jason, and her father gather in Emily’s bedroom where she is tied to a bed while her family prays in the living room.Jennifer Carpenter in The Exorcism of Emily Rose (2005)As Father Moore begins the rite and sprinkles holy water while reading various words from the Rituale Romanum, Emily begins speaking in Latin, German, Ancient Greek, Hebrew, and Aramaic. The family cats run around the room, agitated by demonic presence and attack everyone. Emily breaks her ties, jumps out the window, and into the barn, with everyone following except for Emily’s family, who remain and pray. Inside the barn, they are subjected to more supernatural phenomena such as unnatural gusts of wind and demonic screams and voices. The demon inside Emily refuses to name itself after repeated demands from the Father Moore but finally reveals contemptuously that there are not one but six demons. With dual voices from Emily, they identify themselves in dramatic fashion as the demons that possessed Cain, Nero, Judas Iscariot, a member of the Legion, Belial, and Lucifer, each speaking with its own language.
Jennifer Carpenter in The Exorcism of Emily Rose (2005)The film returns to the court room. The priest says that Emily refused another exorcism but also refused to take her anti-psychotic medication, having accepted her fate. She died a few weeks later. The prosecutor contends that her speaking in tongues can be explained by her having gone through Catholic Catechism, in which she could have learned the ancient languages, and that she had studied German in high school. The priest admits that it might be possible that she could have learned these languages in school. Bruner then calls Dr. Cartwright as a witness, but he does not show. She walks outside and sees him on the street. Cartwright says he can no longer testify, but he does believe in demons. Before he can explain, he is killed by a passing car. Later that night Bruner’s chief attorney threatens her with termination if she recalls the priest to the stand when he reveals that he heard of what happened.
Jennifer Carpenter in The Exorcism of Emily Rose (2005)Bruner calls the priest back to the stand the next day. Father Moore reads a letter that Emily wrote for him the day before her death. The letter describes another vision she had on the morning after the exorcism. She walks out of the house and sees the Virgin Mary, who tells her that although the demons will not leave her, she can leave her body and end her suffering. The apparition reveals that if she returns to her body, she will help to prove to the world that God and the Devil are real. After Emily chooses to return, she then receives stigmata, which Moore believes is a sign of God’s love for her. The letter concludes with a statement saying “People say that God is dead, but how can they think that if I show them the Devil?”, but the prosecution counters that she could have received the stigmata wounds from a barbed wire fence on her property.
Jennifer Carpenter in The Exorcism of Emily Rose (2005)When Judge Brewster pronounces Father Moore as guilty, the jury recommends a sentence of time served, to which she agrees. Bruner is offered a partnership at her firm for her success, but she declines and resigns. She goes with Father Moore to Emily’s grave, where he has put a quote (which she recited to him the day before she died) from the second chapter twelfth verse of Philippians on her grave: “work out your own salvation with fear and trembling”. Father Moore goes on to live in seclusion stating he would not appeal as God will be the only one to judge him in the end.Jennifer Carpenter in The Exorcism of Emily Rose (2005)Admirably, the tone is not one of full on shocks and scares – there is a neutrality which gives you space to make your own mind up, and yet allow you to see events as the Father Moore and Emily saw them. It’s this intelligence towards the subject which sets this apart from most other recent horror movies and makes this worth watching.

REVIEW: BATTLESTAR GALACTICA: THE PLAN

 

CAST

Edward James Olmos (The Green Hornet)
Dean Stockwell (Dune)
Michael Trucco (Wishmaster 4)
Grace Park (Hawaii Five-O)
Michael Hogan (Red Riding Hood)
Aaron Douglas (The Flash)
Callum Keith Rennie (Flashforward)
Kate Vernon (Heroes)
Rick Worthy (The Vampire Diaries)
Lymari Nadal (American Gangster)
Matthew Bennett (Stargate SG.1)
Rekha Sharma (V)
Tricia Helfer (Two and a Half Men)
Alisen Down (Smallville)

The opening scenes of The Plan occur just prior to the destruction of the Twelve Colonies in the televised miniseries, Battlestar Galactica. Humanoid Cylon John Cavil is shown leading the planning for the genocidal attack on the human race. The seven known Cylons are present in the control room of the main Cylon base. Two versions of Cavil are shown in a Resurrection Ship, with the “Final Five” Cylons in stasis in resurrection chambers. The two versions of Cavil briefly discuss their plans for “teaching a lesson” to their creators, the Final Five. One version of Cavil announces his intention to witness the destruction of humanity on the ground. This version of Cavil travels to the planet Picon, where he encounters Ellen Tigh. Other characters from the series are also depicted: Gaius Baltar has a final meeting with Caprica Six; Samuel Anders is shown at his Pyramid team’s training camp along with the team doctor, who is Number Four/Simon; and Tory Foster (Rekha Sharma) is shown driving to an airport.
The destruction of the Twelve Colonies is depicted in a series of new special effects shots, with the Cylon Hybrid narrating the destruction with oblique poetry. Almost all of the planets of the Twelve Colonies are depicted in short scenes. Ellen Tigh is severely wounded in the nuclear attack on Picon. Cavil helps her leave the planet aboard a Colonial Fleet rescue ship. Aboard a civilian transport, Cavil torments the half-conscious woman with descriptions of his intent to destroy humanity. Tory Foster survives the nuclear attack as well, but is wounded when her car flips over in the blast Anders helps console his teammates in the mountainous region where they were training. Several scenes from the television miniseries are edited into The Plan.
skeletyi-v-shkafuCavil later boards the Galactica, calling himself “Brother Cavil,” and takes over the Galactica’s chapel. The creation of Galactica’s “wall of remembrance” is depicted, where survivors posted pictures and mementos of their dead or missing loved ones. Using religious fliers which talk about a “plan”, Cavil covertly gathers the seven known cylons. Cavil tells them that he intends to continue his plan to utterly destroy the human race. He also tells them that there is a sleeper agent aboard the Galactica, a Number Eight, whom he also plans to use. Back on Cylon-occupied Caprica, Sam Anders and his teammates have fled their training center for safer quarters. They spot Cylon Centurions collecting the parts of their fallen comrades. Later, Sam and his companions launch their first attack on the Cylons, losing several people in a successful attack. Sam and Jean Barolay later observe several Number Fives burying numerous dead human bodies, realize that Cylons have taken humanoid form, and resolve to attack them. They do so later, while a Cavil version supervises the Fives’ work. Cavil plays dead and survives the attack unharmed. Mistakenly believing Cavil to be a human being, Sam and his friends take the priest with them back to their camp. Cavil is clearly shocked to see Anders, because he is one of the original Final Five. 5YRYRYRTBack on the Galactica, the events of the first season episodes unfold from the Cylon’s perspective. Brother Cavil triggers the original Cylon programming of the Number Eight known as Sharon “Boomer” Valerii. She plans a bombing of the ship’s water storage facilities. As she tries to implement her plan, Boomer becomes increasingly distraught because she has fallen in love with Chief Galen Tyrol (Aaron Douglas). Cavil becomes angry when the Number Five known as Aaron Doral is exposed as a Cylon, and demands that he attempt to kill Commander Adama. The Number Two, meanwhile, listens in on Colonial Fleet communications, and becomes convinced that Kara “Starbuck” Thrace (Katee Sackhoff) holds some special purpose for the humanoid Cylons. He begins to paint the nebula depicted in Season Three episodes. Cavil, realizing that the Number Two known as Leoben Conoy has had his identity compromised, demands that the Number Two turn himself over to the humans and attempt to deceive or kill them. When Boomer’s plan to deprive the Fleet of water fails (and Boomer ironically helps the Galactica locate more water), Cavil demands that she kill Commander Adama. She first attempts suicide, and later purposefully botches the assassination attempt.battlestar-galactica-the-plan-boomerCavil, worried about Dr. Baltar’s attempt to develop a Cylon detection machine, orders the Number Six known as Shelly Godfrey to frame Baltar for treason. She does so, but her attempt fails when her evidence is exposed as a sham by Lieutenant Gaeta. Cavil orders the Six into an airlock and kills her. Cally Henderson’s assassination of Boomer is depicted as well. Cavil also orders the Number Four known as Simon to destroy the ship on which he lives with his family. Simon commits suicide rather than kill the family he has grown to love. In the aftermath of Simon’s suicide, Simon’s wife Giana tries to convince everyone that he wasn’t a Cylon. She seeks solace from Chief Tyrol, who is beginning to suspect that he himself might be a Cylon.
Meanwhile, back on Cylon-occupied Caprica, the other version of Cavil has ingratiated himself with Sam Anders. Cavil has ordered the Number Four to attempt to kill members of Sam’s team, but none have died and Cavil criticizes the Four’s actions. Starbuck returns to Caprica and meets the stranded Colonial pilot Karl “Helo” Agathon. Cavil makes a failed attempt to trick Sam into thinking they are Cylons and attacking them. Helo and Starbuck join them and attack a local Cylon base. Starbuck is wounded, taken captive by the Cylons, and subjected to various breeding experiments. Anders, Helo, and the others rescue her, discovering that Simon is a Cylon in the process. Later, Cavil tries to assassinate Starbuck and Anders but finds that he cannot pull the trigger, because he cannot stop thinking about Anders’ comment that death wouldn’t make him love these people any less. When the Cylon Centurions attack, Cavil is forced to hide with the rest of the humans. That night, Cavil meets with a Number Six who informs him that the Cylons have agreed to end their attacks on the human race. Cavil, who has changed his mind about humanity, agrees to pass on the message to the humans. Cavil returns to the human camp, and the humans leave the next day for the Galactica.

Meanwhile, the Brother Cavil on the Galactica is bedeviled by the repeated appearance of a young boy named John (Alex Ferris) in his chapel. Their various interactions finally end when the fake priest offers the boy an apple and then stabs him to death. The Plan ends with “Caprica Cavil” arriving aboard the Galactica, and exposing himself and Brother Cavil as humanoid Cylons (as depicted in scenes from the second season episode “Lay Down Your Burdens”). We realize from the Cylon perspective that he does this on purpose to stop Brother Cavil’s plans.  Brother Cavil is brought to the brig protesting that he is not a Cylon until he sees Caprica Cavil already in the brig, at which point he stops pretending. Caprica Cavil announces that the Cylons have voted to give the humans “a reprieve” because they have decided that their attempts at genocide were an error. They have left the colonies and will stop hunting the humans.The two Cavils argue while on their way to the airlock. Brother Cavil is in disbelief that the Cylons have decided to leave the humans alone, and continues to argue for their destruction. But Caprica Cavil asserts that Brother Cavil does not understand the nature of love. He says that the Final Five loved humanity, and that Brother Cavil is jealous of this love. Brother Cavil, he claims, does not understand that God and the Final Five will love humanity even more if the human race is extinguished. As they are escorted to the airlock, the Cavils see all of the Final Five Cylons watching them. They admit that this wasn’t the reunion they had expected. The two Cavils are then forced into the airlock. Caprica Cavil quietly tells his other self that he knows how terrifying death can be, and offers his hand, which Brother Cavil takes. The two are ejected, and float out past the fleet. The film ends with this scene overlaid with John Cavil’s fourth-season tirade lamenting his human-like body and desiring to be more like a machine so that he could “see gamma rays, hear x-rays, smell dark matter…and feel the solar wind of a super-nova” flowing over him.The Plan features very little to no extra scenes for the major crew members of Galactica, save Boomer, Anders and Tyrol. Olmos does a great job of directing but due to the story cutting between the work of many directors, it is hard to judge his individual style. The fact that it is stylistically seamless is a credit in itself. This is recommended for fans of the show, and a must-have for anyone interested in the Cylons and their motivations.

REVIEW: BATTLESTAR GALACTICA (2004) – SEASON 4 (PART 2)

Starring

Edward James Olmos (Blade Runner)
Mary McDonnell (Donnie Darko)
Katee Sackhoff (Riddick)
Jamie Bamber (Marcella)
James Callis (Flashforward)
Tricia Helfer (Powers)
Grace Park (Hawaii Five-0)
Michael Hogan (Red Riding Hood)
Aaron Douglas (Chaos)
Tahmoh Penikett (Dollhouse)
Kandyse McClure (Mother’s Day)
Alessandro Juliani (Smallville)

Michael Hogan and Tricia Helfer in Battlestar Galactica (2004)

Recurring / Notable Guest Cast

Lucy Lawless (Ash vs Evil Dead)
Callum Keith Rennie (Impulse)
Rekha Sharma (V)
Kate Vernon (Heores)
Jen Halley (Red Riding Hood)
Don Thompson (Slither)
Sonja Bennett (The Fog)
Richard Hatch (InAlienable)
Donnelly Rhodes (Legends of Tomorrow)
Keegan Connor Tracy (Bates Motel)
Bodie Olmos (Walkout)
Sebastian Spence (First Wave)
Mike Dopud (Arrow)
Ty Olsson (War For The POTA)
Leah Cairns (Interstellar)
Colin Lawrence (Watchmen)
Vincent Gale (Bates Motel)
Craig Veroni (Dark Angel)
Mark Sheppard (Doom Patrol)
Michael Trucco (Sabrina: TTW)
Adrian Holmes (Skyscraper)
Dean Stockwell (Quantum Leap)
Roark Critchlow (V)
G. Patrick Currie (Stargate SG.1)
Torrance Coombs (Reign)
Leela Savasta (Stargate Atlantis)
Rick Worthy (The Vampire Diaries)
Tobias Mehler (Young BLades)
Kevin McNulty (Elektra)
Sarah Deakins (Andromeda)
Tiffany Lyndall-Knight (I, Robot)

 

Wrapping up a beloved TV series with an enormous cult following is no easy task. Sci-Fi devotees like me can be tough to please since we’re deeply invested in the characters and the final trajectories their lives take. Fortunately, thanks to the Gods (plus executive producers David Eick, Ronald D. Moore, and a top-notch cadre of actors, writers, directors, and production staff), ardent followers of the outstanding series, Battlestar Galactica, are provided satisfying closure with the must-see release of Season 4.5.
Based on the original series, created by Glen Larson and first aired in 1978, the re-imagined Battlestar Galactica (abbreviated as BSG or Galactica) began as a three-hour miniseries in 2003 and ran for four seasons ending in 2009. Its premise: a civilization of humans, who inhabit the Twelve Colonies, develop a cybernetic race (Cylons) to serve as workers and soldiers. The Cylons, who become sentient and monotheistic, eventually rebel, opening a can of nuclear-style whoop-ass on their sinful creators. With billions of people annihilated, the remaining 50,000 or so survivors are on the run, led by the last remaining warship, the battlestar Galactica. Humanity’s hope is to reach the fabled Thirteenth Colony (Earth) before the Cylons wipe them out.Jamie Bamber and Aaron Douglas in Battlestar Galactica (2004)In Season 4.5, the wounds of New Caprica (a would-be refuge overrun by the Cylons at the end of Season 2) fester among humans and Cylons alike. Trust and betrayal take center stage for both sides as new, tenuous alliances are formed and mutinous elements take hold. As with previous seasons, it’s evident that Larson’s Mormon beliefs, the post-9/11 War on Terror, and Moore’s agnostic, humanist views influence Season 4.5’s, context, characters, and events. The result is thought-provoking stories that make this sometimes passive viewer sit up, take notice, and consider how the show’s religious, political, and ethical issues are critically relevant today. For folks who prefer not to delve too deeply into the storytelling – no worries. The visuals (both actual and CGI) are frakkin’ amazing. The menacing, mechanical, chrome Cylons send shivers up my spine and several of the human-looking, “skin-jobs” are, well… really HOT! Throw in some heart-stopping CGI space battles and its hands down the best looking show I’ve ever seen.Not to be outdone by the special effects are the stellar performances. Edward James Olmos (Galactica’s Commander William Adama) and Mary McDonnell (President Laura Roslin), both 2009 Saturn Award winners, are outstanding in their respective roles as strong but flawed leaders who support and deeply love one another. With all the May – December romances depicted in film and television, it’s refreshing to see a strong, yet tender relationship between age/power-equivalent adults over 50. Katee Sackhoff (Captain Kara ‘Starbuck’ Thrace) is terrific as the hot-headed, ace viper-pilot who’s grappling with her past familial dysfunction and current romantic and identity crises. Sackhoff effectively and realistically balances the opposing sides to her character: the confident feminist action heroine and the abandoned, damaged woman. Jamie Bamber (Lee Adama), James Callis (Dr. Gaius Baltar), and Tricia Helfer (Number Six) all give remarkable performances as well. Also, since the series was filmed in Vancouver, British Columbia, I was pleasantly surprised to see other standout Canadian actors added to the Season 4.5 cast; especially Darcie Laurie (who played the chief lieutenant and down-to-earth henchman Bob in the series Intelligence).Battlestar Galactica expertly tells the tales of complex, flawed characters; however, Season 4.5 is not without its own faults. For example, I found the flashbacks in the two-part series finale, “Daybreak” to be needlessly slow and irrelevant in advancing the plot. The purpose might have been to further round-out the characters, but the few added details given are misplaced at a time when viewers are seeking answers to larger questions. In addition, some may be frustrated that Season 4.5 doesn’t solve all of BSG’s mysteries. But life rarely reveals all its secrets, and the closure that’s provided will likely be sufficiently satisfying to most.

 

REVIEW: BATTLESTAR GALACTICA (2004) – SEASON 4 (PART 1)

Starring

Edward James Olmos (Blade Runner)
Mary McDonnell (Donnie Darko)
Katee Sackhoff (Riddick)
Jamie Bamber (Marcella)
James Callis (Flashforward)
Tricia Helfer (Powers)
Grace Park (Hawaii Five-0)
Michael Hogan (Red Riding Hood)
Aaron Douglas (Chaos)
Nicki Clyne (Saved!)
Tahmoh Penikett (Dollhouse)
Kandyse McClure (Mother’s Day)
Alessandro Juliani (Smallville)

Aaron Douglas, Grace Park, and Michael Trucco in Battlestar Galactica (2004)

Recurring / Notable Guest Cast

Rekha Sharma (V)
Ryan Robbins (Sanctuary)
Keegan Connor Tracy (Bates Motel)
Leah Cairns (Interstellar)
Jen Halley (Red Riding Hood)
Leela Savasta (Stargate Atlantis)
Callum Keith Rennie (Impulse)
Rick Worthy (The Vampire Diaries)
Matthew Bennett (Stargate SG.1)
Sebastian Spence (First Wave)
Dean Stockwell (Quantum Leap)
Bodie Olmos (Walkout)
Tiffany Lyndall-Knight (I, Robot)
Eileen Pedde (Juno)
Donnelly Rhodes (Legends of Tomorrow)
Richard Hatch (InAlienable)
Colin Lawrence (Watchmen)
Don Thompson (Slither)
Michael Trucco (Sabrina: TTW)
Laara Sadiq (Arrow)
Alisen Down (Smallville)
Lori Triolo (Smallville)
Nana Visitor (Star Trek: DS9)
Craig Veroni (Dark Angel)
Lucy Lawless (Ash vs Evil Dead)
Vincent Gale (Bates Motel)
Sonja Bennett (The Fog)
Kate Vernon (Heores)

Jamie Bamber and Grace Park in Battlestar Galactica (2004)For the Season 4.0, Universal has included the ten episodes that made up the first half of the final season: “He That Believeth in Me”, “Six of One”, “The Ties That Bind”, “Escape Velocity”, “The Road Less Traveled”, “Faith”, “Guess What’s coming to Dinner”, “Sine Qua Non”, “The Hub”, and “Revelations”. Those episodes are presented across three discs, but for some reason they have also included the unrated extended edition of Razor in this set as well. Its position in the boxed set promotes itself as the first disc, though in all frankness Razor doesn’t have a whole heck of a lot to do with these episodes. It feels out of place with regards to the continuity of the series and in all honesty, Battlestar fans probably already have it in their collections. I get that the episode was released in between seasons three and four, but even so it’s already on the market. Mary McDonnell, Jamie Bamber, and Rekha Sharma in Battlestar Galactica (2004)Regardless of Razor’s inclusion, it’s worth noting that it’s a damn fine episode. In case you’re unfamiliar with it, Razor takes place during season two with a story revolving around the Battlestar Pegasus and Admiral Cain. It’s a compelling episode that brings about the Cylon hybrid in a way the series hasn’t quite presented it yet. It also brings us some nice flashbacks with a younger Adama on a recon mission during the first Cylon War. Michael Hogan and Tahmoh Penikett in Battlestar Galactica (2004)Battlestar’s fourth year has several themes that run through its ten episodes, but four big ones emerge during the course of the season. Of course there is still the quest for Earth, the hatred between Cylons and humans continues, Roslin is still dying of cancer, and all around there is talk of prophecy and religious visions. There are many familiar elements in this season, but there are some unfamiliar ones as well. Some startling revelations come about in these ten episodes as humanity and the Cylons march towards annihilation on the way to Earth.Aaron Douglas and Rekha Sharma in Battlestar Galactica (2004)One of the first things introduced in the opening episode “He That Believeth in Me” actually comes from the final moments of “Crossroads Part II” from the third season. Starbuck has returned from the dead and Lee soon realizes that it’s not just a hallucination. It seems to actually be her, but naturally since she’s been presumed deceased for months everyone thinks it’s a Cylon trick. She arrives on the Galactica spouting about how she found Earth and she knows the way, however, everyone on board thinks she’s not who she says she is and the fact that her ship seems brand new doesn’t help matters. This is compounded by her behavior because with every jump away from their previous location she screams and whimpers that they’re going the wrong way. She’s eventually given a ship with her own dysfunctional command and ordered to go find Earth. They don’t find exactly what they were looking for, but let’s just say it’s almost as interesting as their objective.Probably the biggest event to come about in the fourth season is the Cylon Civil War. The skin-job models are split right down the center, with the Ones, Fours, and Fives wanting to lobotomize the Raiders and the Sixes, Sevens, and Eights wanting to keep them the way they are. There are also some debates between them regarding the Final Five and what they should do with the D’Anna model. The shots fired are the sparks that ignites all-out war and it brings the power of the Cylons down a peg.Tahmoh Penikett and Katee Sackhoff in Battlestar Galactica (2004)The splintered Cylon faction winds up coming into contact with humanity’s fleet and naturally there is a lot of distrust between them. Toss in the reactivation of the D’Anna models, a mission to destroy their resurrection hub, and Starbuck hanging out with Leoben again and you have one heck of a situation. Things only get worse with Tigh, Tyrol, Tory, and Sanders exploring what it means for them to be Cylons. Their relationships suffer, they are having a crisis of identity, and they also fear what they will become. Tory gets power hungry, Tyrol deals with a tragic loss, Sanders is confused, and Tigh struggles with his sense of duty, friendship, and who he is. These four are starkly different from the known Cylon models and it’s fascinating how the show portrays their emergence.Edward James Olmos and Michael Hogan in Battlestar Galactica (2004)And of course let us not forget about Gaius Baltar. In this season he finds himself a new little home with a cult of mostly women who want to follow his teachings about the one god. His visions allow for some near prophetic moments and he becomes an emissary of sorts to the cult which grows over the course of the season. Gaius still has some interesting roles to play in the show and I’m definitely interested in the path they are bringing his character down. Those are the major events that shape things to come, but even so there are plenty of little snippets of life among the Colonial Fleet. Each episode is packed with plot exposition yet the writers still found time to add in some solid character development as well. I won’t divulge the nitty-gritty details of what transpires here, but let’s just say that the writing and acting is every bit as solid as you’d expect it would be. Battlestar’s cast is one of the best on television and whether you’re a lover of drama or science fiction you’re going to be on the edge of your seat.Edward James Olmos in Battlestar Galactica (2004)Each episode of this season is seamlessly weaved together as the show begins a breakneck sprint towards the finale. All roads lead to Earth and each episode in the fourth season is full of climaxes and building pressure. Sitting through all ten episodes is an exhausting, yet rewarding, experience that will leave you salivating for January 16th and the beginning of the final episodes. Hopefully all of our unanswered questions will be resolved, but that seems like kind of a tall order to fill. Battlestar Galactica is a show that constantly raises the bar for itself and let’s just say that by the end of this boxed set that bar is pretty damn high. Consider this set highly recommended.

 

REVIEW: BATTLESTAR GALACTICA (2004) – SEASON 3

Starring

Edward James Olmos (Blade Runner)
Mary McDonnell (Donnie Darko)
Katee Sackhoff (Riddick)
Jamie Bamber (Marcella)
James Callis (Flashforward)
Tricia Helfer (Powers)
Grace Park (Hawaii Five-0)
Michael Hogan (Red Riding Hood)
Aaron Douglas (Chaos)
Nicki Clyne (Saved!)
Tahmoh Penikett (Dollhouse)
Kandyse McClure (Mother’s Day)
Alessandro Juliani (Smallville)

Callum Keith Rennie and Katee Sackhoff in Battlestar Galactica (2004)

Recurring / Notable Guest Cast

Donnelly Rhodes (Legends of Tomorrow)
Rekha Sharma (V)
Lucy Lawless (Ash vs Evil Dead)
Michael Trucco (Sabrina: TTW)
Callum Keith Rennie (Impulse)
Kate Vernon (Heores)
Matthew Bennett (Stargate SG.1)
Dean Stockwell (Quantum Leap)
Luciana Carro (Helix)
Leah Cairns (Interstellar)
Dominic Zamprogna (Stargate Universe)
Colin Lawrence (Watchmen)
Richard Hatch (InAlienable)
Rick Worthy (The Vampire Diaries)
Amanda Plummer (The Hunger Games)
Eileen Pedde (Juno)
Ty Olsson (War of TPOTA)
Ryan Robbins (Sanctuary)
Jen Halley (Red Riding Hood)
Erica Cerra (Power Rangers)
Emilie Ullerup (Sanctuary)
Bodie Olmos (Walkout)
Alisen Down (Smallville)
Sebastian Spence (First Wave)
Tiffany Lyndall-Knight (I, Robot)
Rachel Hayward (12 Rounds 2)
Carl Lumbly (Supergirl)
Aleks Paunovic (Van Helsing)
Don Thompson (Slither)
G. Patrick Currie (Stargate SG.1)
Bruce Davison (X-Men)
Gabrielle Rose (Dark Angel)
Lucinda Jenney (Rain Man)
Samantha Ferris (Shattered)
Jerry Wasserman (Watchmen)
Bryce Hodgson (X-Men)
Georgia Craig (Catch and Release)
Mark Sheppard (Doom Patrol)
Chelah Horsdal (You Me Her)
Keegan Connor Tracy (Bates Motel)

 

Mary McDonnell, Edward James Olmos, Jamie Bamber, James Callis, Michael Hogan, Grace Park, Tahmoh Penikett, and Tricia Helfer in Battlestar Galactica (2004)When we left Adama and crew in the second season things had turned upside down to say the least. “One Year Later” took on a whole new meaning as the survivors of the Cylon attack settled down on a humble world that came to be known as New Caprica. The election of Baltar as President of the Colonies proved to be a rather large mistake as it was his own ineptitude that brought about the appearance of the Cylon fleet. The second season ended with the Cylons imprisoning mankind and the Adamas jumping away with both Battlestars. To say that the outlook was bleak would be an understatement and through much of the third season the show explores what life was like under Cylon rule.Jamie Bamber in Battlestar Galactica (2004)When season three begins it’s quite evident that this was a very different Battlestar Galactica. For one thing Admiral Adama had a killer moustache, Apollo got chunky presumably from eating too many Twinkies, and just about everyone else we cared about was stuck on the planet (aside from Helo and Dee, though we really don’t care about Dee). I didn’t think it was really possible considering the human race has been on the run from extinction but if the tone of Galactica could have gotten any more somber; New Caprica did the trick.Edward James Olmos, Grace Park, and Tahmoh Penikett in Battlestar Galactica (2004)Starbuck, Tigh, Anders, Tyrol, Cally, Roslin, Gaeta, and yes, even Baltar were all stuck on the surface with the rest of the colonies. They became an encampment under Cylon supervision though they were still allowed to congregate and kind of, sort of live out a normal life. At least as normal as possible with an artificially intelligent gun pointed at your head. For some strange reason the Cylons chose to use their resources to keep humanity alive. Their goal was never truly made clear but it certainly seemed that they’d rather have humanity under their metallic boots than erased out of the food chain.Mary McDonnell and Richard Hatch in Battlestar Galactica (2004)As the New Caprica storyline progresses there are some revelations that have resounding effects throughout the rest of the season. One of the biggest things to come about from all of this involves Gaius Baltar. As president of the colonies he has been forced into servitude by the Cylons and does all manner of unscrupulous things during his administration. The people loath him and they want him dead but little do they know that he did most of his devious acts at the wrong end of a pistol. He becomes a pariah before long and has found himself reluctantly siding with the Cylons.Grace Park and Eileen Pedde in Battlestar Galactica (2004)To be quite honest, so much happens on New Caprica that it would be difficult to discuss everything here. I will say that as interesting, and I suppose necessary, as this aspect was it did change the dynamic of the show. It was no longer the show that people had come to expect thanks to it being landlocked. Sure the characters were still the same and it allowed a lot of room for development but there’s no getting around the fact that it felt different, even if it only lasted for a couple of episodes. I guess it was designed that way so that the inevitable rescue of the colonies in “Exodus” was as climactic as it was. Trust me on this one, if you haven’t seen it this was one of the best moments EVER in Galactica.Edward James Olmos, Michael Hogan, and Grace Park in Battlestar Galactica (2004)From there the show returns to some form of normalcy. The people are trying to fit into their old roles from over a year ago and they struggle on many personal levels to accept what happened. The characters are scarred from the past and it’s enjoyable to watch as Galactica delves into that pain as the show moves forward. One episode that explores that is “Unfinished Business” which pits the crew of Galactica against each other in a boxing ring. This is essentially Battlestar’s version of Fight Club but it works on so many levels. Likewise towards the end of the season the two-part “Crossroads” takes a look at Baltar and the crimes he orchestrated against humanity. Without giving away details I will say that this episode features one of the greatest monologues ever delivered in a science fiction series. I got goosebumps watching this particular scene the first time and every time after it was just as satisfying.Mary McDonnell, Edward James Olmos, James Callis, Michael Hogan, and Tricia Helfer in Battlestar Galactica (2004)In between “Exodus” and “Crossroads” there are plenty of other episodes that stand out and explore interesting components of daily life aboard the colonies. “Hero” brings a figure from the past to light and delivers some interesting tidbits regarding Adama’s actions prior to the Cylon attack. “The Eye of Jupiter” is fascinating as it delves deeper into the prophetic writings of the founding colony. “Dirty Hands” examines societal issues and class structure among the survivors in a very interesting way. And finally “Maelstrom” was definitely a great look at the character of Kara Thrace. Now, as with the previous season of Galactica there are many storylines that run through these individual episodes. The aforementioned New Caprica angle is probably the most prominent but others that play a role include Sharon and Helo’s child Hera, Roslin’s struggle with cancer (again), and the ever frustrating Lee and Starbuck relationship.James Callis and Tricia Helfer in Battlestar Galactica (2004)As much as I didn’t like Lee and Dee getting together, I must admit that the way Galactica played Lee and Starbuck got obnoxious after a while. Due to Kara’s personal issues she closes up and becomes standoffish at all of the wrong moments. I suppose it’s a testament to the writing that you’ll feel the anger and frustrating that Lee does when this happens, but it’s annoying just the same. “Unfinished Business” was definitely a nice way for these two to work out their issues and resolve some feelings. I particularly liked the way Anders responded to their fight as it basically mirrored what I was thinking at the time.Edward James Olmos in Battlestar Galactica (2004)After the escape from New Caprica, the colonies and Cylons kind of go their separate ways. They are both still clamoring for Earth and seeking out clues of its existence and location but they spend a great deal of time away from each other. This kind of dulls the senses a bit and takes some of the core out of the series though some episodes towards the middle of the season and the end reunite these enemies gloriously. So much of the Cylon existence is called into question and you’ll be left scratching your head trying to unravel the mystery. It stands as a testament to the writing of Battlestar Galactica that this clue searching never gets old. That being said not every episode in this season stands out unfortunately. Some of the standalone tales such as “The Passage” and “A Day in the Life” falter at times and fail to delivery the familiar payoff we’re used to with this show. “Woman King” also comes across as somewhat weaker than the others but it does give Helo’s character a chance to shine. As with any show it’s necessary at times to flesh out the secondary characters and though it slows the series down somewhat, these moments still hold some merit.Lucy Lawless and James Callis in Battlestar Galactica (2004)Right up until the end, the third season is one that will keep you guessing and that’s a good thing. This is a series that makes you think and draws emotion out of you. There are many powerful moments scattered throughout these twenty episodes and to be quite honest when compared to the previous seasons, I feel that the third is the strongest. This is one of the finest science fiction productions ever to grace television and I applaud Ron Moore, David Eick, and the rest of the team for their creative vision.