REVIEW: REIGN OF FIRE

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CAST

Christian Bale (Batman Begins)
Mattehw McConaughey (Interstellar)
Izabella Scorupco (Exorcist: The Beginning)
Gerard Butler (300)
Alexander Siddig (Game of Thrones)
Alice Krige (Star Trek: First Contact)
Laura Pyper (Hex)

The film opens at an unspecified date in the early 21st century. During construction on the London Underground, workers penetrate an underground cave. A huge dragon emerges from hibernation, incinerating the workers with its breath. The only survivor is a boy, Quinn Abercromby (Ben Thornton), whose mother, Karen (Alice Krige)—the construction crew chief—is crushed to death protecting him. The dragon flies out of the Underground, and soon more dragons appear. It is revealed through newspaper clippings and the narration that dragons are the species responsible for the extinction of the dinosaurs. They are speculated to hibernate after destroying most living creatures until the planet repopulates. After the dragons reawaken, humanity resists with military force, including with nuclear weapons in 2010. This, however, only hastens the destruction, and within a few years, humans are nearly extinct.In 2020, Quinn (Christian Bale) leads a community of survivors in a Northumberland castle. They are starving while awaiting harvest. Although most trust Quinn, some are restless and defiant. Eddie (David Kennedy) and his group steal a truck to pick tomatoes, though it is too soon for harvest. They are attacked by a dragon; one man is killed, and the rest are surrounded by fire. Quinn, Creedy (Gerard Butler), and Jared (Scott Moutter) rescue them with old fire engines, but the dragon kills Eddie’s son before escaping. The Kentucky Irregulars, a group of Americans led by Denton Van Zan (Matthew McConaughey), arrive with a Chieftain tank and AgustaWestland AW109 utility helicopter, the latter of which is piloted by Alex Jensen (Izabella Scorupco). Van Zan has a system for hunting dragons and knows their weakness: poor vision before sunset. He and Quinn kill the dragon who destroyed the crops.

Van Zan tells Quinn all the dragons they have found have been female. The Americans believe there is only one male—if they kill it, the dragons can no longer reproduce. Although Quinn knows about the male dragon, which killed his mother, he refuses to help. Van Zan orders his soldiers to enlist the castle’s best men. Quinn argues that if they find the male, it will kill them and find the castle. Van Zan’s group is attacked by the dragon in the ruins of a town 66 miles (106 km) from London. The dragon then finds the castle and kills most of its inhabitants. Quinn tries to get the survivors to a bunker; Creedy saves him and is killed by the dragon in his place. Van Zan and Jensen return and free those in the bunker. Quinn tells Van Zan he will help them hunt the male dragon. They fly to London and find hundreds of dragons, with smaller ones cannibalized by the larger male. Van Zan tells Quinn about a plan to shoot explosives down the dragon’s throat with a crossbow. Van Zan fires, but the dragon destroys the arrow and eats Van Zan. Quinn and Alex lure the dragon to ground level, where Quinn fires into the dragon’s mouth, killing it.

Later, Quinn and Alex erect a radio tower on a hill overlooking the North Sea. There has been no dragon sighting for over three months. Jared arrives to say they have contacted a group of French survivors who want to speak to their leader. Quinn tells Jared he is now their leader and dedicates himself to rebuilding.

Overall it took time to get going and it never lives up to the marketing hype but it’s still enjoyable. Once you get past the first part then you’re free to enjoy the second half of the film and a really enjoyable climax.

REVIEW: GAME OF THRONES – SEASON 6

MAIN CAST

Peter Dinklage (The Boss)
Nikolaj Coster-Waldau (Headhunters)
Lena Headey (The Purge)
Emilia Clarke (Terminator: Genisys)
Kit Harington (Pompeii)
Aidan Gillen (The Dark Knight Rises)
Liam Cunningham (Dog Soldiers)
Carice van Houten (Black Book)
Natalie Dormer (The Forest)
Indira Varma (Human Target)
Sophie Turner (X-Men: Apocalypse)
Nathalie Emmanuel (Fast & Furious 7)
Rory McCann (Hot Fuzz)
Maisie Williams (Cyberbully)
Conleth Hill (Serena)
Alfie Allen (The Other Boleyn Girl)
John Bradley (Patient Zero)
Tom Wlaschiha (Valkyrie)
Gwendoline Christie (Star Wars: The Force Awakens)
Hannah Murray (Dark Shadows)
Jonathan Pryce (Stigmata)
Kristofer Hivju (After Earth)
Michiel Huisman (The Young Victoria)
Michael McElhatton (Blow Dry)
Iwan Rheon (Misfits)
Dean-Charles Chapman (Will)
Isaac Hempstead Wright (The Boxtrolls)
Jerome Flynn (Ripper Street)
Iain Glen (Tomb Raider)

RECURRING / NOTABLE GUEST CAST

Daniel Portman (Outcast)
Natalia Tena (Harry Potter)
Max Von Sydow (Conan The Barbarian)
Ellie Kendrick (An Education)
Alexander Siddig (Star Trek: DS9)
Ian McShane (Hercules)
Keisha Castle-Hughes (Star Wars – Episode III)
Kristian Nairn (Ripper Street)
Gemma Whelan (Gulliver’s Travels)
Joseph Mawle (Abrham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter)
Diana Rigg (The Avengers)
Julian Glover (Troy)
Finn Jones (Iron Fist)
Art Parkinson (Dracula Untold)
Owen Teale (King Arthur)
Patrick Malahide (Fortress 2)
Joe Naufahu (Power Rangers RPM)
Ben Crompton (All or Nothing)
Brenock O’Connor (Dickensian)
Charlotte Hope (The Musketeers)
Elizabeth Webster (Cockneys vs Zombies)
Tim McInnerny (Notting Hill)
Bella Ramsey (The Worst Witch 2017)
Michael Condron (High-Rise)
David Bradley (Harry Potter)
Tamer Hassan (Sucker Punch)
James Faulkner  (Underworld: Blood Wars)
Toby Sebastian (The Hollow Crown)
Clive Russell (The 13th Warrior)
Brian Fortune (The Inside)
Jacob Anderson (Adulthood)
Jessica Henwick (Iron Fist)
Ian Whyte (Prometheus)
Luke Roberts (300: Rise of an Empire)
Murray McArthur (The Last Legion)
Anton Lesser (Wolf Hall)
Roger Ashton-Griffiths (The Brothers Grimm)
Eugene Simon (Casanova)

Following their escape from Winterfell, Sansa Stark journeys to the Wall, while Theon Greyjoy returns to the Iron Islands. In Winterfell, Ramsay Bolton secures his claim on the North by killing Roose and Walda Bolton and his new-born half-brother. At the Wall, Melisandre resurrects Jon Snow, who is reunited with Sansa; they gather loyalists and a battle ensues. Aided by the Knights of the Vale, the Starks defeat the Bolton forces. Sansa feeds Ramsay to his hounds and Jon is proclaimed the King in the North. At King’s Landing, Jaime Lannister and the Tyrell army attempt to liberate Margaery and Loras, but Margaery capitulates to the High Sparrow and Tommen forges an alliance with the Faith. During Loras and Cersei’s trial, Cersei uses wildfire to burn the Great Sept, killing the High Sparrow, Margarey, Loras, Mace, Kevan, and Lancel, while Tommen kills himself after witnessing the events. Unopposed, Cersei is crowned Queen of Westeros. Ellaria Sand and three of Oberyn Martell’s daughters kill Doran and Trystane Martell and seize control of Dorne, and Olenna meets with Ellaria to discuss an alliance. In Braavos, Arya continues her training with the Faceless Men, and soon regains her eyesight. When she refuses to accomplish a mission, the Waif is ordered to kill Arya, who kills her instead. Arya reasserts her identity as a Stark and returns to Westeros. In the Riverlands, the Hound pursues the Brotherhood Without Banners for massacring the people who saved him. He finds Lord Beric Dondarrion executing his quarry, and is asked to join the Brotherhood traveling north. Jaime Lannister besieges Riverrun and takes the castle, killing the Blackfish after forcing Edmure Tully to order a surrender. Walder Frey celebrates the victory before being killed by Arya. Beyond the Wall, Bran Stark trains with the Three-Eyed Raven but alerts the Night King, who launches an attack of White Walkers. Bran and Meera escape and are rescued by Benjen Stark. Sam Tarly, Gilly, and Little Sam travel to the Citadel at Oldtown, stopping to visit Sam’s family. In Essos, Daenerys Targaryen is captured by Khal Moro who takes her before the khals; she burns them alive and takes command of the Dothraki. Tyrion Lannister brings a short-lived peace to Meereen, which is reinforced when Daenerys returns and flies her dragons into battle against the slavers. Yara and Theon arrive and pledge allegiance to Daenerys after Euron Greyjoy kills their father and usurps leadership of the Iron Islands. Jorah Mormont departs to find a cure for greyscale and Daario is left in command of Meereen, while Daenerys sails for Westeros. Game of thrones is without a doubt the best show on tv ever! Hooked from the very beginning. Season 6 is packed full of beautifully shot battle scenes and exquisite smaller moments, all of which showcase the immense talent of the entire cast and crew.

REVIEW: STAR TREK: DEEP SPACE NINE – SEASON 1-7

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MAIN CAST

Avery Brooks (Roots: The Gift)
Nana Visitor (Dark Angel)
Rene Auberjonois (Boston Legal)
Alexander Siddig (Game of Thrones)
Terry Farrell (Hellraiser 3)
Colm Meaney (Intermission)
Cirroc Lofton (Soul Food)
Armin Shimerman (Buffy: The Vampire Slayer)
Michael Dorn (Ted 2)
Nicole de Boer (Rated X)

RECURRING / NOTABLE GUEST CAST

Patrick Stewart (American Dad)
Felecia M. Bell (Nightman)
Marc Alaimo (Total Recall)
Aron Eisenberg (Puppet Master 3)
Max Grodenchick (Apollo 13)
J.G. Hrtzler (Roswell)
April Grace (Lost)
Majel Barrett (Babylon 5)
Andrew Robinson (Hellraiser)
Gwynyth Walsh (Taken)
Vaughn Armstrong (Power Rangers Lightspeed Rescue)
Rosalind Chao (I Am Sam)
Edward Albert (Power Rangers Time Force)
Scott MacDonald (Jack Frost)
Jennifer Hetrick (L.A. Law)
John De Lancie (The Hand That Rocks The Cradle)
Tom McCleister (Angel)
Gregory Itzin (Firefly)
Fionnula Flanagan (The Others)
Julie Caitlin Brown (Babylon 5)
Chris Latta (Transformers)
Barry Gordon (Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles)
Wallace Shawn (The Princess Bride)
Cliff De Young (Glory)
Jonathan Banks (The Lizzie Borden Chronicles)
Keone Young (Men In Black 3)
Jack Shearer (Star Trek: First Contact)
Harris Yullin (Rush Hour 2)
Louise Fletcher (Heroes)
Frank Langella (Masters of The Universe)
Stephen Macht (Galaxina)
Steven Weber (Izombie)
John Glover (Smallville)
Tim Russ (Samantha Who?)
Daphne Ashbrook (The Love Letter)
Don Stark (That 70s Show)
Brian Thompson (The Terminator)
Salli Richardson-Whitfield (I Am Legend)
William Schallert (Innerspace)
K Callan (Lois & CLark)
Chris Sarandon (Child’s Play)
John Colicos (Battlestar Galactica)
Michael Ansara (Batman: TAS)
William Campbell (Dementia 13)
Tony Plana (Ugly Betty)
Michael Bell (Rugrats)
Alan Oppenheimer (Transformers)
Salome Jens (Superbot)
Martha Hackett (Leprechaun 2)
Ken Marshall (Krull)
Mary Kay Adams (Babylon 5)
Bumper Robinson (Sabrina: TTW)
Brett Cullen (Lost)
Jeffrey Combs (The Frighteners)
Tricia O’ Neil (Gia)
Dick Miller (Gremlins)
Deborah Van Valkenburgh (Free Enterprise)
Clint Howard (Apollo 13)
Richard Lee Jackson (Saved By The Bell: The NEw Class)
Andrew Prine (V)
Tracy Scoggins (Lois & Clark)
Erick Avari (Stargate)
Carlos Lacamara (Heroes Reborn)
Leland Orser (Seven)
Chase Masterson (Terminal Invasion)
Penny Johnson Jerald (Castle)
Andrea Martin (Wag The Dog)
Diane Salinger (Batman Returns)
Sherman Howard (Superboy)
Robert O’ Reilly (The Mask)
Obi Ndefo (Stargate SG.1)
Patricia Tallman (Babylon 5)
Galyn Gorg (Robocop 2)
Jeremy Roberts (Veronica Mars)
James Cromwell (Species II)
Charles Napier (The Silence of The Lambs)
Conor O’Farrell (Lie To Me)
Robert Foxworth (Syriana)
Brock Peters (Soylent Green)
Casey Biggs (Broken Arrow)
Tony Todd (The Flash)
Robert DoQui (Robocop)
D. Elliot Woods (Agents of SHIELD)
Jason Marsden (Full House)
Ron Canada (Just Like Heaven)
James Black (Anger Management
Meg Foster (Masters of The Universe)
Tracy Middendorf (Scream: The Series)
John Prosky (The Devil Inside)
Hilary Shepard (Power Rangers Turbo)
Phil Morris (Smallville)
Charlie Brill (Silk Stalkings)
Kurtwood Smith (That 70s Show)
Eric Pierpoint (Alien Nation)
Robert Picardo (Stargate: Atlantis)
Marjean Holden (Hostage)
Brian Markinson (Arrow)
Christopher Shea (Bounty Killer)
Marc Worden (Ultimate Avengers)
Gabrielle Union (Ugly Betty)
Shannon Cochran (The Ring)
Iggy Pop (The Crow 2)
Brad Greenquist (Alias)
Leslie Hope (24)
Stephen McHattie (300)
Michael Weatherly (NCIS)
Henry Gibson (Sabrina: TTW)
James Darren (T.J. Hooker)
Bill Mumy (Babylon 5)
Kevin Rahm (Bates Motel)
Adrienne Barbeau (Swamp Thing)
William Sadler (Roswell)

DS9 is one of my all-time favourite television shows. It edges out Star Trek’s original series just barely as my favourite in the franchise. I am not going to state that it’s the best Star Trek series, because it definitely will not appeal to everybody, but it is my favourite.

DS9 deviates from the Trek franchise formula in an important way – it is based on one location – a Cardassian-built space station near the planet Bejor. So even the architecture of the main set is alien – not another sterile militaristic star ship inhabited by a primarily white European crew – but a true Babel. Bejor has just been liberated from 60 years of occupation by an expansionist militaristic race – the Cardassians. Both Bejorans and Cardassians will play important roles throughout DS9. Since the station does not move much during the show’s seven year run, DS9 has a much stronger sense of place than the other ST series, and is able to develop story arc and character continuity much more powerfully than the others.

All of the major characters and most of the frequent returning characters have their own interwoven story arcs – most of which span the entire series. Ben Sisko (Avery Brooks), the station’s commander, is a somewhat disgruntled Star Fleet officer who has several personal vendettas which have almost driven him from Star Fleet. He is also a single parent and a genius. In the very first episode, Sisko’s arc begins and it is clear that his story will be the frame within which the entire series is organized – though the reasons for this will no become entirely clear until near the end. Also memorable are the gruff, shape-shifting Chief Constable Odo(Rene Auberjunois) who does not know what he is and where he came from; Kira (Nana Visitor) Sisko’s aggressive and intense Bajoran second officer; Garak (Andy Robinson) a Cardassian Tailor and – possibly – spy, who is easily the most well-developed, well-acted and interesting recurring guest star Star Trek has ever had; Jadzia Dax (Terry Farrell) – the beautiful Trill science officer whose consciousness is enhanced by the memories and personality of a 600 year old symbiotic slug who lives in her stomach and has inhabited dozens of previous hosts; Julian Bashir (Alexander Siddig) the station’s young, brilliant, adventurous and naive doctor; and Quark (Armin Shimmerman), the greedy, conniving, but entirely lovable Ferengi casino owner.

The characters, cast, and serialized stories make DS9 stand apart from the franchise as the most powerfully plotted, intensely dramatic and politically charged Star Trek ever. The show is, however, not for those with limited attention spans and a disdain for complexity. While it isn’t exactly hard to follow, the dialog is often dense and DS9 – more than any other Trek show – uses non-verbal communication very well. Brooks, Visitor and Robinson – all of whom are masters at this – are particularly non-verbal and make a big impression from the first few episodes.

Throughout the series, there are constant underlying political intrigues and surprisingly little filler. Almost every story connects with the main story arc (Sisko’s and Bejor’s) in one way or another, and no time is wasted with aimless experimentation by the writing team (a problem Voyager and Enterprise both suffered from).

The production is consistently theatrical in scope. The special effects are still – even today – above average for television, and even the new BSG doesn’t approach the scope and coherence of the plot.Highly recommended for bright people looking for something more than typical TV drama normally delivers.

REVIEW: STAR TREK: THE NEXT GENERATION – SEASON 1-7

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MAIN CAST

Patrick Stewart (X-Men)
Joanthan Frakes (Roswell)
LeVar Burton (Roots: The Gift)
Denise Corsby (Dolly Dearest)
Michael Dorn (Ted 2)
Gates McFadden (Franklin & Bash)
Marina Sirtis (The Grudge 3)
Brent Spiner (Dude, Where’s My Car?)
Wil Wheaton (Powers)
Diana Muldaur (Born Free)

RECURRING / NOTABLE GUEST CAST

DeForest Kelley (Gunfight at the O.K. Corral)
John De Lancie (The Secret Circle)
Michael Bell (Tangled)
Colm Meaney (Intermission)
Cary-Hiroyuki Tagawa (Elektra)
Brooke Bundy (A Nightmare on Elm Street 3 & 4)
Armin Shimerman (Buffy: The Vampire Slayer)
Tracey Walter (Batman)
Stanley Kamel (Domino)
Marc Alaimo (Total Recall)
Majel Barrett (Babylon 5)
Robert Knepper (Izombie)
Carel Struycken (The Addams Family)
Dick Miller (Gremlins)
Carolyn McCormick (Enemy Mine)
Katy Boyer (The Island)
Michael Pataki (Rocky IV)
Brenda Strong (Supergirl)
Vaughn Armstrong (Power Rangers Lightspeed Rescue)
Vincent Schiavelli (Batman Returns)
Judson Scott (Blade)
Merritt Butrick (Fright Night: Part 2)
Leon Rippy (Stargate)
Peter Mark Richman (Friday The 13th – Part 8)
Seymour Cassel (Rushmore)
Ray Walston (The Sting)
Whoppi Godlberg (Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles)
Chris Latta (G.I.Joe)
Earl Boen (The Terminator)
Billy Campbell (The Rocketeer)
Teri Hatcher (Lois & Clark)
William Morgan Sheppard (Transformers)
Brian Thompson (The Terminator)
Clyde Kusatsu (Doctor Strange 70s)
Paddi Edwards (Halloween III)
Sam Anderson (Lost)
Robert Duncan McNeill (Masters of The Universe)
Mitchell Ryan (Lethal Weapon)
Nikki Cox (Las Vegas)
Lycia Naff (Total Recall)
Robert Costanzo (Batman: TAS)
Robert O’Reilly (The Mask)
Glenn Morshower (Supergirl)
Scott Grimes (American Dad)
Ray Wise (Agent Carter)
Andreas Katsulas (Babylon 5)
Simon Templeton (James Bond Jr.)
James Cromwell (Species II)
Corbin Bernsen (The Tomorrow Man)
Christopher McDonald (Fanboys)
Tricia O’ Neil (Titanic)
Hallie Todd (Sabrina: TTW)
Tony Todd (The Flash)
Harry Groener (Buffy: The Vampire Slayer)
Dwight Schultz (The A-Team)
Saul Rubinek (Warehouse 13)
Mark Lenard (Planet of The Apes TV)
Ethan Phillips (Bad Santa)
Elizabeth Dennehy (Gattaca)
George Murodck (Battlestar Galactica)
Jeremy Kemp (Conan)
Sherman Howard (Superboy)
BethToussaint (Fortress 2)
April Grace (Lost)
Patti Yasutake (The Closer)
Alan Scarfe (Andromeda)
Bebe Neuwirth (Jumanji)
Rosalind Chao (Freaky Friday)
Jennifer Hetrick (L.A. Law)
Michelle Forbes (Powers)
David Ogden Stiers (Tweo Guys and a Girl)
Gwyneth walsh (Taken)
Paul Winfield (The Terminator)
Ashley Judd (Divergent)
Leonard Nimoy (Transformers: The Movie)
Malachi Thorne (Batman 60s)
Daniel Roebuck (Lost)
Erick Avari (Stargate)
Matt Frewer (Watchmen)
Ron Canada (Wedding Crashers)
Liz Vassey (Two and a Half Men)
Kelsey Grammer (Frasier)
Ed Lauter (The Number 23)
Tony Jay (Lois & Clark)
Famke Janssen (X-Men)
Shay Astar (3rd Rock From The Sun)
Thomas Kopache (Stigmata)
Susanna Thompson (Arrow)
Richard Riehle (Texas Chainsaw 3D)
Alexander Enberg (Junior)
Lanei Chapman (Rat Race)
James Doohan (Some Things Never Die)
Olivia D’Abo (Conan The Destroyer)
Ronny Cox (Robocop)
David Warner (Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles II)
Stephanie Beacham (The Colbys)
Reg E. Cathey (Fantastic Four)
Scott MacDonald (Jack Frost)
Alexander Siddig (Game of Thrones)
Cristine Rose (How I Met Your Mother)
Richard Herd (V)
Tim Russ (Samantha Who?)
Patricia Tallman (Babylon 5)
Salome Jens (Superboy)
Andrew Prine (V)
Alan Oppenheimer (Transformers)
Eric Pierpoint (Alien Nation)
Richard Lynch (Puppet Master 3)
Robin Curtis (General Hospital)
Julie Caitlin Brown (Babylon 5)
Kirsten Dunst (Bring it On)
Lee Arenberg (Pirates of The Caribbean)
Fionnula Flanagan (Lost)
Mark Bramhall (Alias)
Terry O’Quinn (Lost)
Penny Johnson Jerald (Bones)
Brian Markinson (Arrow)

When the TNG series premiered in 1987, it wasn’t greeted well by many of the old-time Trek fans, including myself. It didn’t help matters that one of the earliest episodes, “The Naked Now” was a superficial retread of the classic “The Naked Time” from ’66. The new episode should have served as a way of spotlighting several of the new crew, but all it did was show them all in heat. I wasn’t too impressed. What did work was keeping the central theme of exploration (something lost in the offshoots, DS9 & Voyager). The new Enterprise was twice as large as the original, with about a thousand personnel aboard. Capt. Picard (Stewart) was a more cerebral, diplomatic version of the ultimate explorer we had known as Capt. Kirk. Again, Picard wasn’t too impressive in the first two awkward seasons, as some may mistake his caution for weakness. The Kirk-like first officer Riker (Frakes) was controlled by Picard, so the entire crew of Enterprise-D came across as a bit too civilized, too complacent for their own good. It’s interesting that this complacency was fractured by the most memorable episode of the first two years, “Q Who?” which introduced The Borg. All of a sudden, exploration was not a routine venture.

Other memorable episodes of the first 2 years: the double-length pilot, introducing Q; “Conspiracy”-an early invasion thriller; “Where No One Has Gone Before”-an ultimate attempt to define the exploring theme; “The Big Goodbye”-the first lengthy exploration of the new holodeck concept; “Datalore”-intro of Data’s evil twin; “Skin of Evil”-death of Tasha Yar; “11001001”-perhaps the best holodeck story; and “The Measure of a Man”-placing an android on trial. Except for “Q Who” the 2nd year was even more of a letdown from the first. Space started to percolate in the 3rd season. I liked “The Survivors”-introducing an entity resembling Q in a depressed mood, and “Deja Q” with both Q & Guinan squaring off, as well as other alien beings. A remaining drawback was the ‘techno-babble’ hindering many scripts, an aspect which made them less exciting than the stories of the original series. As Roddenberry himself believed, when characters spoke this way, it did not come across as naturalistic, except maybe when it was Data (Spiner), the android. The engineer La Forge (Burton), for example, was usually saddled with long, dull explanatory dialog for the audience.

In the 3rd year, truly innovative concepts such as the far-out parallel-universe adventure “Yesterday’s Enterprise” began to take hold, topped by the season-ender “The Best of Both Worlds,part 1” in which The Borg returned in their first try at assimilating Earth. After this and the 2nd part, the TNG show was off and running, at full warp speed. There are too many great episodes from the next 4 seasons to list here, but I tended to appreciate the wild, cosmic concept stories best: “Parallels”(s7); “Cause and Effect”(s5); “Timescape”(s6); “Tapestry”(s6); and the scary “Frame of Mind”, “Schisms” and “Genesis.” There’s also the mind-blowing “Inner Light”(s5), “Conundrum” and “Ship in a Bottle”(s6), “Second Chances.” The intense 2-parter “Chain of Command” was almost like a film, and the great return of Scotty in “Relics” was very entertaining, though it showed you can’t go home again. The show also continued to tackle uneasy social issues, as in “The Host”, “The Outcast”, “First Contact” and “The Drumhead” as well as political:”Darmok”, “Rightful Heir”, “Face of the Enemy” and “The Pegasus.” The series ended on a strong note, “All Good Things…” a double-length spectacular with nearly the budget of a feature film. But it wasn’t really the end. A few months later, an actual feature film was released “Star Trek Generations”(94). It’s rather ironic that the TNG films couldn’t match the innovation and creativity of the last 4 seasons of the series. “Star Trek Insurrection”(98) for example, is a lesser effort than any of the episodes mentioned above.

REVIEW: KINGDOM OF HEAVEN

CAST
Orlando Bloom (Lord of The Rings)
Eva Green (Sin CIty 2)
Liam Neeson (Krull)
Nathalie Cox (Jumper)
David Thewlis (Harry Potter)
Branson webb (The Dark Knight)
Kevin McKidd (Brave)
Nikolaj Coster-Wadau (Game of Thrones)
Marton Csokas (Aeon Flux)
Alexander Sidding (Reign of Fire)
Brendan Gleeson (Troy)
Jeremy Irons (Lolita)
Edward Norton (The Bourne Legacy)
Ulrich Thomsen (The Thing)
Iain Glen (Tomb Raider)
In 1184 France, Balian (Orlando Bloom), a blacksmith, is haunted by his wife’s recent suicide. A group of Crusaders arrives in his village; one of them introduces himself as Balian’s father, Baron Godfrey of Ibelin (Liam Neeson). Godfrey asks Balian to return with him to the Holy Land, but Balian declines and the Crusaders leave. The town priest, Balian’s half-brother (Michael Sheen), reveals that he ordered Balian’s wife beheaded before burial. In a fit of rage, Balian kills his brother and flees the village.
Balian joins his father, hoping to gain forgiveness and redemption for himself and his wife in Jerusalem. After he reaches Godfrey, soldiers sent by the bishop arrive to arrest and assassinate Balian. Godfrey refuses to surrender Balian, and in the ensuing attack, Godfrey is struck by an arrow that breaks off in his body, wounding him.
In Messina, Godfrey knights Balian and orders him to serve the King of Jerusalem and protect the helpless, then succumbs to his injuries. During Balian’s journey to Jerusalem his ship runs aground in a storm, leaving Balian the only survivor. Balian is confronted by a Muslim cavalier, who attacks him over his horse. Balian reluctantly slays the cavalier but spares the man’s apparent servant (Alexander Siddig), asking him to guide him to Jerusalem. Upon arriving, Balian releases him, and the man tells Balian that his deed will gain him fame and respect among the Saracens. Balian becomes acquainted with Jerusalem’s political arena: the leper King Baldwin IV (Edward Norton); Tiberias (Jeremy Irons), the Marshal of Jerusalem; the King’s sister, Princess Sibylla (Eva Green); and her husband Guy de Lusignan (Marton Csokas), who supports the anti-Muslim activities of brutal factions like the Knights Templar. After Baldwin’s death, Guy intends to break the fragile truce with the sultan Saladin and make war on the Muslims.
Guy and his ally, the cruel Raynald of Châtillon (Brendan Gleeson), attack a Saracen caravan, and Saladin advances on Raynald’s castle Kerak in retaliation. At the request of the king, Balian defends the villagers by charging Saladin’s cavalry, despite being overwhelmingly outnumbered. Balian’s knights are captured, and he encounters the servant he freed, who he learns is actually Saladin’s chancellor Imad ad-Din. Imad ad-Din releases Balian in repayment of the earlier debt. Saladin arrives with his army to besiege Kerak, and Baldwin meets it with his. They negotiate a Muslim retreat, and Baldwin swears to punish Raynald, though the exertion of these events weakens him. In his camp, Saladin assures his impatient generals that he will claim Jerusalem, but only when he is confident of victory. Baldwin asks Balian to marry Sibylla and take control of the army, knowing they have affection for each other, but Balian refuses the offer because it will require Guy’s execution. After Baldwin dies, Sibylla succeeds her brother, and Guy becomes king. Guy releases Raynald, asking him to give him a war, which Raynald does by murdering Saladin’s sister. Sending the heads of Saladin’s emissaries back to him, Guy declares war on the Saracens. Guy sends three Templar assassins, disguised as Teutonic knights, to kill Balian, the most strident voice against war, though Balian survives the attempt.
Guy and the Templars march Jerusalem’s army to war, despite Balian’s advice to remain near water. Saladin’s army annihilates the Crusaders in the ensuing desert battle, executes Raynald, and marches on Jerusalem. Tiberias and his men leave for Cyprus, believing Jerusalem lost, but Balian remains to protect the people in the city. Balian knights the men of the city and hopes to hold out long enough for the Saracens to offer terms. After a siege that lasts three days, a frustrated Saladin parleys with Balian. When Balian reaffirms that he’ll let the city burn before surrendering, Saladin agrees to allow the Christians to leave safely in exchange for Jerusalem—though he ponders if it would be better if there were nothing left to fight over.
Balian is confronted by the disgraced Guy one final time, but defeats and spares him. In the marching column of citizens, Balian finds Sibylla, who has renounced her claim as Queen. After returning to France, English knights en route to retake Jerusalem ride through the town to enlist Balian, now the famed defender of Jerusalem. Balian tells the crusader that he is merely a blacksmith again, and they depart. Balian is joined by Sibylla, and they pass by the grave of Balian’s wife as they ride toward a new life together. An epilogue notes that “nearly a thousand years later, peace in the Holy Land still remains elusive.”
All things said and done i found this movie to be very entertaining. It’s visually stunning, reasonably well acted with a decent script and some nice characters. What it lacks in coherence and story it makes up for with a strong and quick pace and some truly impressive action scenes.

REVIEW: GAME OF THRONES – SEASON 5

MAIN CAST
Peter Dinklage (Threshold)
Nikolaj Coster-Waldau (Kingdom of Heaven)
Lena Headey (Dredd)
Emilia Clarke (Termiantor: Genysis)
Kit Harington (Pompeii)
Aidan Gillen (The Dark Knight Rises)
Charles Dance (Last Action Hero)
Natalie Dormer (The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 1 & 2)
Stephen Dillane (The Hours)
Liam Cunningham (Clash of The Titans)
Carice van Houten (Black Book)
Indira Varma (Human Target)
Conleth Hill (Serena)
John Bradley-West (Borgia)
Sophie Turner (X-Men: Apocalypse)
Maisie Williams (Cyberbully)
Hannah Murray (Dark Shadows)
Jerome Flynn (Ripper Street)
Alfie Allen (Agent Cody Banks 2)
Michiel Huisman (The Young Victoria)
Nathalie Emmanuel (Fast & Furious 7)
Gwendoline Christie (Star Wars – Episode VIII)
Kristofer Hivju (After Earth)
Tom Wlaschiha (16 Blocks)
Dean-Charles Chapman (Before I Go To Sleep)
Michael McElhatton (Blow Dry)
Iwan Rheon (Misfits)
Iain Glen (Tomb Raider)
RECURRING / NOTABLE GUEST CAST
Alexander Siddig (Star Trek: DS9)
DeObia Oparei (Doom)
Keisha Castle-Hughes (The Almighty Johnsons)
Rosabell Laurenti Sellers (Mia and Me)
Jessica Henwick (Silk)
Toby Sebastian (Barley Lethal)
Nell Tiger Free (Mr Stink)
Diana Rigg (The Avengers)
Jonathan Pryce (Stigmata)
Julian Glover (Troy)
Anton Lesser(Charlotte Gray)
Roger Ashton-Griffiths (A Knight’s Tale)
Ian Beattie (Alexander)
Finn Jones (Iron Fist)
Will Tudor (Humans)
Eugene Simon (Casanova)
Daniel Portman (River City)
Lino Facioli (Get Him To The Greek)
Ian McElhinney (Hornblower)
Jacob Anderson (4.3.2.1.)
Joel Fry (10,000 BC)
Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje (Lost)
Charlotte Hope (les Miserables)
Elizabeth Webster (Call The Widwife)
Tara Fitzgerald (I Capture The Castle)
Kerry Ingram (Wolf Hall)
Ciarán Hinds (The Woman In Black)
Peter Vaughan (Chancer)
Owen Teale (Stella)
In Meereen, the insurgent “Sons of the Harpy” have started to revolt against Daenerys Targaryen’s regime by murdering citizens and Unsullied, also taking the life of Barristan Selmy. In order to regain peace and control, Daenerys complies with the request of re-opening the fighting pits. Tyrion Lannister arrives in Pentos along with Varys, and they begin their journey to Meereen together. They pass through Volantis, where Tyrion is abducted by Jorah Mormont, who takes him to Meereen as a way to redeem himself to Daenerys. Daenerys takes Tyrion as her advisor, but orders Jorah exiled once more. After the Sons of the Harpy mount an attack on Daenerys and her retinue at the fighting pits, Jorah saves her life. Drogon reappears and Daenerys flies away on his back. Drogon flies far away from Meereen and Daenerys quickly finds herself surrounded by Dothraki horsemen. Jorah and Daario Naharis leave to search for Daenerys, while Tyrion, Varys, Missandei, and Grey Worm remain to rule Meereen.
At the Wall, Stannis Baratheon has Mance Rayder burned alive for treason. Stannis promises Jon Snow legitimacy and rule of Winterfell should he ride with him against the Boltons, but Jon declines the offer and stays at the Wall. As newly elected Lord Commander of the Night’s Watch, Jon forms an alliance with the Wildlings, much to the dismay of the rest of the Night’s Watch. They begin evacuating Wildlings at Hardhome, when the settlement suddenly comes under attack from White Walkers and their wight armies. Though many die and are revived as wights, the brothers still manage to rescue a large number of Wildlings and Jon leads them through the tunnel to Castle Black, south of the Wall. After Samwell Tarly and Gilly leave for Oldtown and Maester Aemon passes away, the majority of the Night’s Watch become disillusioned with Jon’s leadership and see him as a traitor. They lure Jon into a trap and stab him, leaving him to die.
In the Vale, Littlefinger puts Robin Arryn in the care of House Royce and leaves for Winterfell with Sansa Stark. Brienne, still loyal to the oath she swore to Catelyn Stark, and her squire Podrick follow them. In Winterfell, Sansa is reunited with Reek and marries Ramsay Bolton to form an alliance between the Vale and the Boltons. Ramsay subjects Sansa to physical and psychological abuse, including raping her on their wedding night while forcing Reek to watch. After Reek reveals to Sansa that he did not kill her brothers Bran and Rickon, the two escape together, jumping off the castle walls.
At his camp in the North, Stannis reluctantly acquiesces to Melisandre’s demands to burn Shireen alive as a sacrifice to the Lord of Light. As a result, his wife Selyse is found hanging from a noose and half of his forces desert him. The remaining Baratheon forces ride for Winterfell, but are soon defeated by the Boltons. In the aftermath of the battle, Stannis is apparently killed by Brienne of Tarth. Melisandre flees for Castle Black.
In King’s Landing, Lancel Lannister returns, now a member of the devoutly religious “Sparrows”. Following the wedding of Margaery Tyrell and Tommen Baratheon, Cersei Lannister begins losing control of Tommen, and with him her power source. She tries to regain her status by authorizing the revival of the Faith Militant, the military wing of the Faith of the Seven. The Sparrows quickly begin imposing their puritanical views upon King’s Landing by ridding it of all “sins”, in the process also seizing Loras Tyrell for being homosexual. They proceed to imprison him, as well as Margaery and Cersei herself for committing various sins. Cersei is released after confessing to adultery with Lancel and being forced to march naked through King’s Landing.
In Dorne, the Sand Snakes, the bastard daughters of Oberyn Martell, seek vengeance against the Lannisters for the death of their father. After a threatening message arrives, Bronn and Jaime Lannister travel to Dorne, planning to rescue Myrcella Baratheon. Oberyn’s brother Doran Martell discovers that Ellaria Sand had sent the message and allows Jaime and Myrcella to leave for King’s Landing, provided Myrcella’s betrothed Trystane Martell joins them and obtains a seat on the Small Council. En route to King’s Landing, Myrcella dies, having been poisoned by Ellaria.
Arya Stark arrives in Braavos and starts training with the Faceless Men, guided by Jaqen H’ghar and another young woman. She disguises herself as an oyster seller and is told to kill a dishonest insurance agent at the harbor. But after Meryn Trant’s arrival, Arya steals a false face from the temple and assassinates him instead. Doing so causes her to go blind.
The adaptation continues to hit its sweet spot of getting complex stories from the novels across on screen in a simpler form, but one that is also clearer, more concise and retaining the thematic essentials whilst paring away unnecessary  supporting material and characters. King’s Landing particularly benefits from this, with lots of minor politics involving new or vanishingly minor characters swept aside in favour of a more ruthless focus on Cersei’s growing hatred of the Tyrells and the arrival of the High Sparrow, played with flawless passion by Jonathan Pryce. This culminates in the excellent, distressing “Walk of Shame” sequence, in which Lena Headey knocks it out of the park as Cersei is humiliated to the point where even the most hardened viewer may feel sorry for her, despite her many crimes.

REVIEW: VERTICAL LIMIT

CAST

Chris O’Donnell (Batman &Robin)
Robin Tunney (Hollywoodland)
Stuart Wilson (Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 3)
Temuera Morrison (Spartacus: Gods of the Arena)
Nicholas Lea (Andromeda)
Scott Glenn (The Silence of The Lambs)
Bill Paxton (Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.)
Alexander Siddig (Game of Thrones)
Colon Moy (Xena)
Alistair Browning (Hercules: The Legendary Journeys)
Josephine Davison (Power Rangers S.P.D.)
Craig Walsh-Wrightson (Spartacus: Blood and Sand)

While climbing in Monument Valley, siblings Peter (O’Donnell) and Annie Garrett (Tunney) lose their father, Royce (Stuart Wilson). After two falling amateurs leave the family dangling, Royce forces Peter to cut him loose to save Peter and his sister. Peter has since retired from climbing, becoming a full-time wildlife photographer, and Annie has gone on to become a renowned mountain climber. Three years later, during a wildlife photo shoot for National Geographic in the lower Himalayas in Pakistan, Peter’s assistant falls and breaks his leg. Peter is dropped off at K2 Base Camp and searches for Annie who is planning a summit attempt on K2, the world’s second highest and most dangerous mountain. The expedition is funded by wealthy industrialist Elliot Vaughn (Paxton) who is also part of Annie’s expedition, with the help of renowned climber Tom McLaren (Nicholas Lea).

The climb turns out to be a disaster—as a storm closes in and the winds begin to wreak havoc, causing an avalanche. Annie, Vaughn, and Tom fall through a patch of ice and become trapped in a crevasse, while the other expedition members are killed. Peter, who initially radioed Tom to turn around, stands by the radio and begins to hear Annie using Morse code to inform base camp that they are alive. Peter manages to assemble a rescue mission with some of the climbers at base camp, including brothers, Cyril and Malcolm (Le Marquand and Mendelsohn), Monique Aubertine (Izabella Scorupco), Kareem Nazir (Alexander Siddig), and Skip Taylor (Robert Taylor). Skip and Peter also visit the reclusive Montgomery Wick (Glenn), reported to be the world’s best climber and foremost expert on K2, who agrees to join in the rescue attempt to reach the team before they die of pulmonary edema. Skip is unable to go as Wick says he needs someone he can trust at base camp directing the mission.

The teams pair off: Malcolm and Kareem, Monique and Cyril, and Peter and Wick. Each team takes different entry points up the mountain to increase chances of success. Monique and Cyril enter trouble when Cyril loses his balance and clings to the side of a cliff. After Monique secures her harness to him, the peak cracks, and Monique also falls over the edge with the leaky nitro canisters exploding beneath them. Cyril is able to climb back up, but an avalanche throws him over the edge of a steep cliff. Monique pulls herself up and radios base camp that Cyril has been killed. Back at the military station, the nitroglycerine canisters come into contact with the sun and explode. Base camp tells the teams to get their cases of nitroglycerin into the shade. Kareem and Malcolm do so, but, while resting after covering the cases, the leaked nitroglycerin eventually gets into contact with the sun and explodes, killing the two.

Meanwhile, underground, Annie begins to suffer from pulmonary edema. Tom is in a more severe state, with his leg and ribs broken. Vaughn is the only one unharmed and possesses dexamethasone. Vaughn’s story from his first disastrous climb on K2 detailed that the dexamethasone was swept away, but Wick later discovers an empty box of dex, proving his assertions that Vaughn used it for himself and ultimately let Wick’s wife die from pulmonary edema to which Wick swears revenge on Vaughn.

Meanwhile, in the crevasse, Vaughn administers dex to himself and kills Tom with the syringe full of air to save the remaining dex for himself. Wick wakes up to find Peter and Monique gone, having continued climbing the mountain. He soon locates where Annie and Vaughn are trapped, and they use the nitroglycerin to blast a hole, enabling access to the survivors. Wick descends into the cave and harnesses Annie, and although a weakened Vaughn thinks he is about to attack him, Wick attaches a harness to him as well. Along with Peter, he attempts to pull Annie out of the crevasse, but an ice boulder falls, knocking Wick and Vaughn from the ledge in the crevice and pulling Annie and Peter down. Monique alone remains on the ledge holding the rope with the other four hang on to it. To save Annie and Peter, and to fulfill his revenge on Vaughn, Wick pulls a knife from his pocket, says a Buddhist prayer and cuts the rope holding himself and Vaughn (similar to Royce Garrett’s death) dropping the two to their deaths.

Recovering at base camp, Annie reconciles with Peter, who finally pays his respects at a memorial for those killed on K2, including Wick, Vaughn, Kareem, his cousin Ali, Cyril and Malcolm, Tom McLaren, and Wick’s late wife who was a guide.

This is a surprisingly well done little film, mixing the climber/mountain drama with some additional elements. Very good movie plenty of dramatic action, and a very good quality picture