REVIEW: GOTHAM – SEASON 4

Ben McKenzie and David Mazouz in Gotham (2014)

 

Starring

Ben McKenzie (Batman: Year One)
Donal Logue (Shark Night)
David Mazouz (Incarnate)
Morena Baccarin (Deadpool)
Sean Pertwee (Dog Soldiers)
Robin Lord Taylor (John Wick 3)
Erin Richards (The Quiet Ones)
Camren Bicondova (Girl House)
Corey Michael Smith (Utopia)
Jessica Lucas (Cloverfield)
Chris Chalk (Homeland)
Drew Powell (Straw Dogs)
Crystal Reed (Swamp Thing)
Alexander Siddig (Game of Thrones)

Robin Lord Taylor in Gotham (2014)

Recurring / Notable Guest Cast

Anthony Carrigan (The Flash)
Maggie Geha (The Rewrite)
Peyton List (Flashforward)
Nathan Darrow (Preacher)
Michael Cerveris (Ant-Man and the Wasp)
Cameron Monaghan (Reign of The Supermen)
Benedict Samuel (The Walk)
Michelle Veintimilla (The Gifted)
Michael Maize (Power Rangers In Space)
John Doman (The Boys)
Dakin Matthews (Child’s Play 3)
B.D. Wong (Jurassic World)
Camila Perez (Who We Are Now)
Peter McRobbie (Daredevil)
Francesca Root-Dodson (Free Spirit)

Gotham started out as a raw, , and unfocused show. We have the death of Bruce Wayne’s parents and the germ of his literal growing pains on display. Then there’s Jim Gordon, the core focus of Gotham, presented under the guise of a procedural cop drama, solving fanservice cases with his no-nonsense partner. And the subplot involving turf wars? It was only digestible thanks to the profound talent of Robin Lord Taylor as The Penguin (who is still easily one of the best parts of the show).Sean Pertwee and David Mazouz in Gotham (2014)Gotham was, quite frankly, all over the place until somewhere into season two, when the show embraced its characters, started to connect them, and let the actors run wild with the personas they had crafted over the course of that previous year. Even throwaway characters like Barbara Kean scrapped and fought for a rightful place on the show. Each year it doubles down on its insanity, and it’s been paying off in a big way.Alexander Siddig and Erin Richards at an event for Gotham (2014)The huge arcs for this season of Gotham involve Professor Pyg’s live-action debut, more Ra’s al Ghul/League of Assassins drama, Penguin’s ongoing war with the Falcone family, and more Joker. You might notice a recurring theme on “more,” and that partially plays into the concept of doubling down. The latter is really the focus though, and why not in the penultimate season? Batman adaptations usually fall back on The Joker, but this time, because of the way Gotham strays from the source material, it works to the show’s benefit.Sean Pertwee and Ben McKenzie in Gotham (2014)While the first few seasons were content with giving us plotlines that went nowhere or were thrown for a loop after actors exited the project, now we’re getting to the point where the writers finish what they started. The Joker’s true identity has been something that’s been teased before the program even debuted, and now the arc has been fully completed into what is probably the most engrossing storyline, capped by an inspired double-duty performance by Cameron Monaghan.Andrew Sellon, Robin Lord Taylor, and Anthony Carrigan in Gotham (2014)The Gotham showrunners actually did it — they adapted The Killing Joke. Even just bringing in elements of the always-controversial classic, even more so due to the latest DC animated adaptation’s alterations, has the potential to misfire; but they mostly trod lightly here. In turn, this Joker feels like his own man, free from the shackles of tradition while still paying homage to various bits of Batman history, most notably the visage of Jack Nicholson.Morena Baccarin and Cory Michael Smith in Gotham (2014)Ben McKenzie in Gotham (Season 4) – image for this review provided by FOX.
It’s interesting how, like the Nolan films, the crew takes bits and pieces of the Batman mythos while still forging their own story. It doesn’t always work out, and at this point, Gotham, in turn, is even taking things from Nolan, but it’s just deviant enough to keep you guessing rather than say “oh, this is exactly like the comics, but worse” — a sentiment that used to apply to Gotham in spades.Ben McKenzie, Billy Peck, Dennis Rees, and Kelcy Griffin in Gotham (2014)This season of Gotham has had a monumental impact on the series with an actual endgame, and the showrunners are getting one more year to end the story on their own terms. Despite the ups and downs several arcs have given us, it seems as if Gotham is going to be complete, and that the creators at least had some idea of where they wanted to go with it for once.

REVIEW: GOTHAM – SEASON 3

 

MAIN CAST

Ben McKenzie (Batman: Year One)
Donal Logue (Ghost Rider)
David Mazouz (New Girl)
Morena Baccarin (Homeland)
Sean Pertwee (Dog Soldiers)
Robin Lord Taylor (Cold Comes The Night)
Erin Richards (The Quiet Ones)
Camren Bicondova (Girl House)
Corey Michael Smith (Wonderstruck)
Jessica Lucas (Cloverfield)
Chris Chalk (12 Years A Slave)
Drew Powell (Straw Dogs)
Maggie Geha (Ted 2)
Benedict Samuel (The Walk)
Michael Chiklis (Fantastic Four)

RECURRING / NOTABLE GUEST CAST

Leslie Hendrix (Arthur)
James Carpinello (Gangster Squad)
Jamie Chung (The Gifted)
John Doman (Blue Valentine)
Jada Pinkett Smith (Magic Mike XXL)
B.D. Wong (Jurassic World)
Chelsea Spack (Blue Bloods)
Raymond J. Barry (Training Day)
Richard Kind (Stargate)
Naian Gonzalez Norvind (The Devil You Know)
Anthony Carrigan (The Flash)
Ivana Milicevic (Vanilla Sky)
Cameron Monaghan (Amityville: The Awakening)
James Remar (Black Lightning)
Nathan Darrow (Preacher)
Camila Perez (Star)
Tonya Pinkins (The Book of Henry)
Paul Reubens (Batman Returns)
Alexander Siddig (Game of Thrones)
Clare Foley (Sinister)
David Dastmalchain (Ant-Man)

Maggie Geha in Gotham (2014)Gotham is the crime drama series based on DC Comics’ Batman universe. Having premiered on Fox in the autumn of 2014, the show initially focused on young versions of James Gordon (Ben McKenzie) and Bruce Wayne (David Mazouz). Over time, though, the series introduced younger iterations of well-known villains in the Batman franchise, as well as lesser-known characters to provide a wider representation of the Dark Knight’s universe. Additionally, with Season Two, the episodes were grouped into “Rise of the Villains” (Episodes 1-11) and “Wraith of the Villains” (Episode 12-22), and that concept was continued in Season Three, with Episodes 1-14 grouped into “Mad Love” and Episodes 15-22, under the subtitle of “Heroes Rise.”Benedict Samuel in Gotham (2014)Concepts deriving from the overarching themes were weaved throughout the various storylines. Betrayal is often associated with love, and this theme was well represented throughout the season. Between lovers, siblings, work colleagues, and enemies, betrayal was a symptom of the deterioration of Gotham. Gordon tried to take the high road with his ex-fiancé Lee (Morena Baccarin) who moved on to a relationship with Dr. Mario Falcone (James Carpinello) and fell into an uneasy sexual relationship with Valerie Vale (Jamie Chung) that included a number of lies and betrayals due to their goals arising from their respective jobs – bounty hunter and reporter. But, the downfall between Gordon and Vale came when he is forced by Jervis Tetch (Benedict Samuel) to choose between Vale or Lee in “Follow the White Rabbit” (Episode 6). Although he chooses Vale, all parties easily infer that Gordon is still in love with Lee. Later in the season, Bruce commits a deadly betrayal against Alfred (Sean Pertwee) in “Destiny Calling” (Episode 21) after being kidnapped by the Court of Owls to spend time with The Shaman (Raymond J. Barry) and meeting Ra’s al Ghul (Alexander Siddig). Surprisingly, one ray of light occurred between Fish Mooney (Jada Pinkett Smith) and Penguin (Robin Lord Taylor). Desperate to know why she didn’t kill him, Penguin was surprised and humbled that Fish saw in him her greatest creation (“Burn the Witch” Episode 2).Robin Lord Taylor and Cory Michael Smith in Gotham (2014)

As often that a character was turning on another individual, sometimes the betrayal came from within. Edward Nygma (Cory Michael Smith) seemed to be one of the most conflicted characters through the season, trying to answer the question, “Who am I?” His identity, publicly as Penguin’s Chief of Staff, and privately as Penguin’s mastermind, resulted in a vacuum of questions after Nygma shot Penguin, believing he had killed his best friend who overshadowed and defined him. As a result, Nygma tested a number of the city’s intelligent people for assistance in determining his own identity separate from Penguin. The Tetch virus enhanced and brought out certain traits of characters and finding themselves at odds with themselves. Captain Nathaniel Barnes (Michael Chiklis) received a drop of blood from Alice Tetch (Naian Gonzalez Norvind) which heightened his commitment to the concept of justice, becoming judge, jury, and executioner as well as embodying the law (“New Day Rising” Episode 4). Marios jealousy was amplified, and Lee became a bad girl looking for the bad boy in Gordon, who was forced to self-infect the virus on himself in “Pretty Hate Machine” (Episode 20). As one of the heroes, Gordon was the only one who could control his magnified emotional state.

Amongst chaos, the heroes rise; however, the idea of heroes is a double-edged sword, so the viewer’s traditional definition of hero will be challenged in Season Three. Executive Producer John Stephens said, “Everyone goes through a major character metamorphosis throughout the course of the yea,r” in an interview with Comicbook.com. What is the most dramatic event that a character could go through? Well, it seemed that death (or near-death) and rebirth was a common event for most of the characters. For instance, Ivy Pepper (Maggie Geha) was touched by one of Dr. Strange’s (B. E. Wong) monsters and not only did she age about 10 or so years, but it was the belief of Selina (Camren Bicondova) that Ivy had died. Fish Mooney, Victor Fries (Nathan Darrow), who became Mr. Freeze, and Bridgit Pike (Camila Perez), who became Firefly, actually died and were reborn. It should be noted that while some characters died, they did not embody their familiar mantle: Ivy isn’t known as Poison Ivy, Selena hasn’t become Catwoman, and Jerome Valeska (Cameron Monaghan) may have the iconic creepy wide smile, but nary a whisper of “Joker” has been heard – yet.David Mazouz and Camren Bicondova in Gotham (2014)The parallels amongst pairs of characters did deliver intriguing comparisons. For example, viewers witness the very public destruction of Penguin, each layer of his personae being taken away from him. The betrayal is deliberate, a conscious effort on the part of Nygma, Barbara Keen (Erin Richards), Tabitha Galavan (Jessica Lucas), and Butch Gilzean (Drew Powell). Eventually, even Penguin’s life is taken from him; however, there is also a private betrayal occurring in Lee. She has internalized her loss and although she argues for justice and grabs for the preverbal straws, she finally realizes that she is the root cause of her own betrayal. She hits rock bottom and as a result, injects herself with the Tetch virus, embracing her ruin.Robin Lord Taylor in Gotham (2014)Due to the large ensemble cast of regular cast members, plus the recurring and special guests through the 22 episodes, one of the inherent issues is affording enough screen time to each character so that their origin story is fully explored, resulting in a well-developed character. While Gordon and Wayne/514A (David Mazouz, in a dual role) are central characters and will typically appear in each episode, some of the other regular characters, such as Selina Kyle, Lucius Fox (Chris Chalk), or Butch, seem to disappear from the storyline. For example, in the closing minutes of “How the Riddler Got His Name” (Episode 15), Edward Nygma/The Riddler reveals to Lucius that he is struggling with defining his identity separate and outside of the shadow of Penguin. After announcing to Lucius that he is the Riddler, Nygma knocks Lucius out in his car. Viewers next see Lucius in “Light the Wick” (Episode 18). Fish Mooney is another character that is missing for most of the season after appearing in the season’s opening episode, “Better to Reign in Hell…” Their disappearances do cause some gaps, such as where was Lucius for two episodes, 16 and 17 – one would assume that someone from the GCPD would notice Lucius sleeping off Nygma’s attack in the front seat of his car, parked across the street from the precinct.Drew Powell, Jessica Lucas, and Cory Michael Smith in Gotham (2014)The third season of Gotham provides intriguing complexities to the overarching denigration of the city into chaos and the telling of individual character origin stories. While the origin stories are fascinating, the fact that there is foreknowledge that most of the characters cannot die because they will one day face Bruce Wayne as Batman does cause a wrinkle with the audience’s engagement with the storylines. To compensate, spending more time on character development would alleviate some of the indifference inherent to the nature of prequel narratives. That said, Gotham is a binge-worthy show. The city is visually stunning, and the Steampunk feel captivating. Audiences unfamiliar with the origin stories will likely enjoy the show just as much or more so than those that come to the show with familiarity from reading the comics.

 

REVIEW: THE SPY (2019)

Sacha Baron Cohen in The Spy (2019)

Starring

Sacha Baron Cohen (Alice Through The Looking Glass)
Noah Emmerich (Jane Got a Gun)
Alexander Siddig (Game of Thrones)
Hadar Ratzon-Rotem (Homeland)

imagesIn Netflix’s new six-part miniseries The Spy, Sacha Baron Cohen plays Eli Cohen, an Israeli intelligence agent who spent years in the Sixties undercover in Syria under the name Kamel Amin Thaabet. It’s a big dramatic showcase for an actor best known for broad sketch-comedy characters like Borat and Ali G. While comic actors are generally better equipped to play drama than serious performers are to be funny, not everyone has the skill to cross that stylistic divide. But Baron Cohen couldn’t have found a role more well-suited to his gifts and career to date. The Spy is a thriller played entirely straight, but it also feels like Baron Cohen’s persona with vastly higher stakes. His specialty, after all, is to adopt a character like Borat, or like Who Is America? conspiracy theorist Billy Wayne Ruddick Jr., and portray him out in the wild, opposite strangers who have to believe the character is real for the joke to work. If someone sees through one of Baron Cohen’s disguises, everybody just leaves and the sketch gets left on the cutting room floor, whereas Eli Cohen had to stay in character for months on end, with his life at stake if he slipped. But the basic principle is the same.MV5BNmJkYmNlMDEtMGQ4ZC00MjVmLWI3OTgtMzZjZTgwNzAxZTUzXkEyXkFqcGdeQTNwaW5nZXN0._V1_UX477_CR0,0,477,268_AL_Created by Gideon Raff (whose Israeli drama Prisoners of War was remade here as Homeland), The Spy doesn’t dwell on the parallels between the careers of the two (unrelated) Cohens. Still, it’s hard not to see them, particularly once Eli goes from nervous rookie operative to a smooth operator who charms his way into the highest echelons of Syria’s government and society. And while there are times in Baron Cohen’s sketch career where it seems unlikely that no one is questioning the reality or a Borat or Bruno, he seems utterly plausible as Kamel, a wealthy importer/exporter who throws the best parties in Damascus.the-spy-feat-960x430It is, by design, a decidedly unflashy performance. Eli’s goal was to make powerful friends, but to do it by blending in rather than standing out. As his anxious handler Dan Peleg (Noah Emmerich) puts it, “Noticeable spies end up dead.” Baron Cohen is convincingly understated as both Eli and Kamel in a way that’s suited to the material, even if there are only brief flashes of a wider range. Most of those flashes come fairly late in the story, as Eli begins to wear down from years of being largely absent from the lives of wife Nadia (Hadar Ratzon Rotem) and the children he was able to conceive but not raise during his brief home visits, and from the constant danger that Dan keeps placing him in.The-Spy-Netflix-810x456Until those final chapters, The Spy is an effectively meat-and-potatoes espionage story, where the details of Eli’s mission are remarkable and taut enough to require little embellishment. But neither is there much in the way of the moral complexity you often find in this genre (including on Emmerich’s last TV spy role on The Americans). Eli never seems particularly conflicted about betraying all of the friends he makes as Kamel. There are occasional references to the idea that Eli, born in Egypt and darker of skin than many Israelis, is treated as a second-class citizen by the nation he is risking his life every day to protect — “You know what they see when they look at me,” he tells Nadia early on. “They see an Arab. That’s it. Jewish, yes, but just an Arab.” But Raff and his collaborators don’t dig too deep in that corner of their hero’s psyche. He is presented as a noble patriot who did his duty and missed his wife terribly, period.the-spy-2019-sacha-baron-cohen-netflix.The story is still enough to satisfyingly fill six hours, and Raff deploys some interesting stylistic touches along the way, like a muted color palette that occasionally creates the illusion we’re watching a black-and-white film from the period, or the way that Eli’s Morse code dispatches to Israel leap onto the screen so that we’re not just watching him tap on a telegraph machine for minutes on end. And Baron Cohen is ably backed by a supporting cast full of actors — including Emmerich, Waleed Zuaiter (as Syrian military officer and politician Amin Al-Hafez), and Alexander Siddig (as a Syrian official who is rightly suspicious of Kamel from the start) — whose presence in a show like this is less surprising than his own.Screenshot-2019-09-03-at-17.49.07-2The Spy won’t necessarily convince you that Baron Cohen will, like Robin Williams or Jim Carrey before him, prove to be just as potent at playing serious as he was going for belly laughs. But it’s a promising start if he wants to start disappearing into characters whose goals are more dangerous than a prank.

 

REVIEW: WHAT WE LEFT BEHIND: LOOKING BACK AT DEEP SPACE NINE

What We Left Behind: Looking Back at Deep Space Nine (2018)

Starring

Max Grodénchik (Rocketeer)
Andrew Robinson (Hellraiser)
Armin Shimerman (Buffy: TVS)
Nana Visitor (Dark Angel)
Colm Meaney (Layer Cake)
Jeffrey Combs (Re-Animator)
Aron Eisenberg (Puppet Master III)
Rene Auberjonois (Boston Legal)
Alexander Siddig (Gotham)
Casey Biggs (Broken Arrow)
Terry Farrell (Hellraiser III)
Penny Johnson Jerald (The Orville)
Avery Brooks (American Hsitory X)
Chase Masterson (Yesterday Was a Lie)
Michael Dorn (Arrow)
Wallace Shawn (Young Sheldon)
Marc Alaimo (Total Recall)
Bill Mumy (Lost In Space)
J.G. Hertzler (Zorro)
Robert O’Reilly (The Mask)
Cirroc Lofton (Beethoven)
Nicole de Boer (Cube)

What We Left Behind: Looking Back at Deep Space Nine (2018)Star Trek: Deep Space Nine was the fourth television series in the Star Trek franchise. It ran for seven seasons and a hundred and seventy-six episodes in syndication. The finale, “What You Leave Behind”, aired on June 2nd, 1999. DS9 was markedly different from Star Trek and Star Trek: The Next Generation. The show setting was a recovered enemy space station near the planet Bajor. A grieving Starfleet commander, Benjamin Sisko (Avery Brooks), assigned to help the Bajorans recover from a devastating occupation; discovers a wormhole to a distant region of the galaxy, the Gamma Quadrant. What followed was a thrilling, slow-burn escalation to the epic, Dominion War; a conflict against powerful Gamma Quadrant adversaries that threatened the United Federation of Planets.What We Left Behind: Looking Back at Deep Space Nine is a wonderful retrospective and coda to the beloved series. The documentary is produced and directed by Ira Steven Behr, DS9’s showrunner/executive producer, and filmmaker/Star Trek enthusiast David Zappone; who produced The Captains and For the Love of Spock. Originally crowdfunded to celebrate DS9’s twenty-fifth anniversary, Behr was astonished by the legions of fans that contributed money. It changed the scale of the documentary, and provided an opportunity to pursue fandom’s dream scenario; a look at the story for a possible season eight of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine.ds9-cast-1200x786What We Left Behind reunites the original cast, writers, filmmakers, and studio executives for interviews. DS9, though it ran for seven seasons, was pilloried by critics at the time. The show was too dark, political, and not adventurous enough. The sci-fi mainstream decried a Star Trek series that was serialized, not episodic. They wanted each week to be a new adventure on a different planet, mimicking the format of the incredibly popular Star Trek: The Next Generation. DS9 had elaborate storylines that stretched over multiple seasons and embraced controversy. From racial and ethnic issues, religious strife, to television’s first lesbian kiss, it was a Star Trek series that obliterated boundaries. Ira Steven Behr has frank discussions with the Paramount studio executive who didn’t understand his vision for the show. Luckily, his persistence and a cult following allowed DS9 to continue its risque path; albeit with some major changes forced by the suits.what-we-left-behind-looking-back-at-star-trek-deep-space-nine-still-1-1160x480Without delving too deep into the details of the interviews, two pivotal events are explored. The first was the addition of Star Trek: The Next Generation’s bad-ass Klingon, Lt. Commander Worf (Michael Dorn), in season four. The cast, Behr, Rick Berman (overall Star Trek TV producer), and several Paramount execs discuss bringing the popular character to the struggling show. What was already a tight-knit crew had doubts, but welcomed Dorn into the fold. The decision turned out to be exactly as hoped; a shot in the arm that revitalized DS9. The same cannot be said for the killing of Worf’s wife and series regular from the start, Lt. Commander Jadzia Dax (Terry Farrell). What We Left Behind takes a frank look at the turmoil caused by firing her. Terry Farrell’s treatment and decision to leave was a blow to all. Behr also shows the professionalism and resilience of the core players. Nicole de Boer’s Lt. Ezri Dax, who replaced Terry Farrell, was a key character during the final season. Seeing the players and producers discuss this tumultuous time is riveting. They developed lifelong bonds from their time on DS9. The show profoundly impacted them on a personal level. Defining the acting careers for many of the cast members.1266412299-What-We-Left-Behind-Looking-Back-At-StarIn true DS9 fashion, What We Left Behind gets political. The doc explores the casting of Avery Brooks as Star Trek’s first black captain and series lead. We see how Brooks, who unfortunately is only interviewed through archival footage, steered the path of DS9. Captain Sisko was a father foremost. DS9 had an incredible story arc with his son, Jake Sisko (Cirroc Lofton), growing up on the space station. Brooks wanted the show to portray a positive black male role model as a parent and leader. DS9 was filmed during the LA riots of 1992. Anyone who watched DS9 knows how thoughtfully the series tackled such heady issues. Fandom will also be quite surprised what Behr has to say about the relationship between Garak (Andrew J. Robinson) and Dr. Bashir (Alexander Siddig).what-we-left-behind-terry-farrell-nana-visitorWhat We Left Behind does not forget the talented production designers, effects teams, and make-up artists that made DS9 so realistic. Some of the funnier scenes have Armin Shimerman, who played Quark the Ferengi bartender, and René Auberjonois, who played the shape-shifting security chief Odo, cursing the other cast members, particularly Colm Meaney (Chief O’Brien). They had to sit for hours in make-up, and then work in the uncomfortable prosthetics; while the “human” actors had mere touch-ups. It’s all in good humor, but illustrates the physical toll of playing DS9’s alien characters.armin-shimmerman-what-we-left-behind-star-trek-deep-space-nine-1170189-1280x0The most thrilling aspect of What We Left Behind is the plotting for a potential season eight. Behr gathered the original writers, including Robert Hewitt Wolfe, for a storyboard session. The breakdown is accompanied by CGI animation and pre-vis sketches. Prepare to be blown off your couches. Set twenty years after Captain Sisko defeated the Dominion and vanished into the wormhole, the season eight storyline is jaw-dropping. It’s loaded with surprises that will melt the minds of every DS9 fan. Behr and the writers acknowledge this is pure fantasy, but does it have to be? CBS and Paramount allows fan made Star Trek, as long as it’s not for profit. I would shell out in a heartbeat to have a crowdfunded, CGI adaptation of DS9 season eight. Voiced by the original cast of course. Behr raised the money for What We Left Behind in a weekend. I’m pretty sure fandom can make that happen… What We Left Behind: Looking Back at Deep Space Nine is a must see for fans, and anyone who appreciates great science fiction. DS9 is the perfect series for the binge-watching, streaming audiences of today. It’s remarkable that a show which ended two decades ago, and was misunderstood by the masses, has found a new generation of ardent supporters. I think Star Trek: Deep Space Nine is not only the best Star Trek series, but arguably, the best sci-fi series. Seasons five through seven were masterful, exhilarating and engrossing television. We need to see season eight. What We Left Behind: Looking Back at Star Trek: Deep Space Nine is available now on DVD/Blu-Ray from Shout! Factory.

REVIEW: ATLANTIS – SEASON 1

MAIN CAST

Jack Donnelly (House of Anubis)
Mark Addy (Game of Thrones)
Robert Emms (Mirror, Mirror)
Aiysha Hart (New Blood)
Sarah Parish (The Holiday)
Juliet Stevenson (Being Julia)
Jemima Rooper (Hex)
Amy Manson (T2: Trainspotting)

42d7fbf19f6ca3589a26340db40b7dba

RECURRING / NOTABLE GUEST CAST

Ken Bones (Troy)
Alexander Siddig (Gotham)
Hannah Arterton (The Five)
Lucy Cohu (Ripper Street)
Joe Dixon  (The Cold Light of Day)
Oliver Walker (Lake Placid vs Anaconda)
Ciarán Griffiths (The Mill)
Nora-Jane Noone (The Descent: Part II)
Richard Dillane (Argo)
Donald Sumpter (Game of Thrones)
Julian Glover (For Your Eyes Only)
Robert Lindsay  (Wimbledon)
John Hannah (Spartacus)
Ron Donachie (Game of Thrones)
Anton Lesser (Game of Thrones)

Hunger_PangsWhen Jason set out to find his father, he could never have anticipated where his journey would lead… Far from home and desperate for answers, Jason washes up on the shores of an ancient land. A mysterious place; a world of bull leaping, of snake haired goddesses and of palaces so vast it was said they were built by giants–this is the lost city of Atlantis. But beneath the surface of this enticing place is a dark and simmering past, a complicated web of treachery and deceit, in which Jason himself now seems inexplicably bound. He soon finds himself embroiled in a perilous game of politics and power from which there is no escape. Aided by the studious young Pythagoras and the overweight, overbearing Hercules, Jason embarks on a voyage of discovery, which sees him brush shoulders with Medusa, come face to face with the Minotaur and even do battle with the dead. uktv-atlantis-s01-e05-5I bought the Blu-Ray set it really is a great show, so don’t bother too much about the negative reports. Of course there’s no accounting for taste, but in my opinion most of the negative reviewers were probably triggered by the title and storyline of this new show (mythology, classical history) and were expecting something like a combination of Rome, Spartacus and Game of Thrones, with faultless historical accuracy and graphic violence and sex. They forget however, that this is supposed to be a family-oriented show, yes, indeed (as many for some strange reason seem to find offensive too), just like Merlin was. p01klt27Taken that into account, I cannot for the life of me understand why people wouldn’t be charmed with this series. The storyline is entertaining and evolves with every new episode in more and more exciting and unpredictable twists; the settings are sumptuous and extremely convincing (partly very authentic, shot in Marocco!); the heroes are partly dashing and wildly attractive (Jason and Ariadne), partly endearing (Hercules and Pythagoras) and partly very sinister (the queen); and for those who know their mythology there is this constant opportunity of recognition, with the script playfully tip-toeing along many famous names and persons (Medusa, Daedalus; the minotaurus; etc.). Sure, they don’t follow the “official” paths, but come-on, it’s mythology, as in make-belief! Is there some law that forbids to give these old stories a little twist? Popular movies like Thor and series like Hercules are made of it!! Then there’s this wonderful tongue-in-cheek quality of the script, that along with all the serious goings-on (treason and poisoning and executions!) grants you several broad smiles in every episode.v1.bjsxMDYwNDYzO2o7MTc3ODc7MTIwMDszODQwOzIxNjAIn a show with so many characters and extras you cannot expect everyone to be a superb actor. But I really think that the main characters are doing a great job and are very well suited for their parts. Of course Mark Addy is the salt and pepper of our trio of friends, he is really great in his comical ad-libs. And Jack Donnelly as Jason is an absolute find, he’s very attractive in a puppy-like way, has a great athletic body (and is allowed to show it!) and is equally convincing in the adventurous, the comical and the dramatic sides of his role. Aiysha Hart as Ariadne is a classical beauty in the appropriate exotic sense and succeeds very convincingly in evolving her character from aloof and passive royal princess to a hot-blooded young woman that stands up for herself and for her people and her friends. Star of the show as to the acting is, next to Addy, no doubt Sarah Parish as the vicious queen Pasiphae. She pairs mature beauty with a regal demeanor and a very sinister and machiavellistic character and I loved every scene that she’s in. Robert Emms as young Pythagoras has the misfortune to somehow fade away against the others, his part is not very rewarding, which is a pity because you can see that he is a gifted actor. I hope his character gets more depth in the second series.atlantis-series-1-cast-1Are there no flaws? Well, just a few. Sometimes logic seems to be defied. In various episodes our friends either distinguish themselves as heroes (they manage to kill the minotaur!) or as scoundrels who in the nick of time can get away without being caught, but every new episode they seem to be able to lead the same totally unobtrusive life as beforehand. Then there’s the priestess: are we really to understand that her life only exists of waving her hands aimlessly through a bowl of smoky something, 24/7 around, sitting with her back to the front door?? In spite of the impressive (CGI??) temple that surrounds her and her serious lines, her part almost turns into a caricature thanks to this silly pompous loitering. Surely actress Juliet Stevenson deserves a more challenging part than this. Biggest flaw to me however is the basic premise: Jason is a 21th century guy who within the first 10 minutes of the first episode magically is transported to historical Atlantis, but absolutely nothing is done with this in the rest of all the episodes, nothing ever refers to it. Even Jasons himself never seems to think about it anymore, and he doesn’t even bother to enlighten his very close friends about his coming from the future (while they don’t seem to be astonished about any other of all the weird or magical goings-on!) and he never ever uses any of his modern intelligence. So what’s the use of Jason being from the 20th century anyway? Maybe they’ll come up with the answer in season 2, but as far as I’m concerned they might as well drop the whole thing, nobody will miss it.

 

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)
Gerry O’Brien (Veronica Guerin)
Ned Dennehy (Good Omens)
Jack Gleeson (Game of Thrones)

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)
Deobia Oparei (Santa Clarita Diet)
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)
Anton Lesser (Allied)
Clive Russell (The 13th Warrior)

Essie Davies (Mindhorn)
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)
Roger Ashton-Griffiths (The Brothers Grimm)
Eugene Simon (Casanova)
Staz Nair (Supergirl)
Rosabell Laurenti Sellers (Spides)
Hannah Waddingham (Krypton)
Kae Alexander (Maleficent: Mistress of Evil)
Nell Tiger Free (Servant)
Hannah John-Kamen (The Stranger)
Lino Facioli (Get Him To The GReek)
Richard E. Grant (Logan)
Pilou Asbæk (Ghost In The Shell)
Faye Marsay (The White Queen)
Freddie Stroma (Pitch Perfect)
Tobias Menzies (The Crown)
Richard Dormer (Fortitude)
Paul Kaye (Anna and The Apocalypse)

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. Hertzler (Roswell)
April Grace (Lost)
Majel Barrett (Babylon 5)
Andrew Robinson (Hellraiser)
Gwynyth Walsh (Taken)
Bertila Damas (Brooklyn Nine-Nine)
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)
Jeffrey Nordling (Flight 93)
Gerrit Graham (Child’s Play 2)
Cliff De Young (THe Craft)
Jim Jansen (Death Becomes Her)
Tom Towles (Fortress)
Philip Anglim (The Elepehant Man)
Bruce Gray (Cube 2)
Ron Taylor (The Simpsons)
Larry Cedar (Deadwood)
Bill Mondy (Smallville)
Michael Reilly Burke (Mars Attacks)
Heidi Swedberg (Hot Shots)
Amanda Carlin (Friends)
Bernie Casey (Under Siege)
Molly Hagan (Izombie)
Michael Jace (The Fan)
Dennis Christopher (IT)
Joseph Ruskin (The Scorpian King)
Lawrence Pressman (Dark Angel)
Jill Sayre (Hercules and The Amazon Women)
Jonathan Frakes (Sar Trek: TNG)
Tina Lifford (Babe)
Bill Smitrovich (Ted)
Lark Voorhies (Save By The bell)
John Doman (Gotham)
Marshall R. Teague (Babylon 5)
Susanna Thompson (Arrow)
Clarence Williams III (The Butler)
Loren Lester (Batman: TAS)
Charlie Brill (Silk Stalkings)
Vanessa Williams (Ugly Betty)
Brian George (The Big Bang Theory)
Lawrence Tierney (Resevoir Dogs)
Thomas Kopache (Catch Me If You Can)
Rick Worthy (The Vampire Diaries)
Paul Popowich (Rupture)
Courtney Peldon (Out on a Lamb)
Michelle Krusiec (The Invitation)
Clayton Landey (Staragte: Atlantis)
Kevin Rahm (Bates MNotel)
Mike Starr (Ed Wood)
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)
Jonathan 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)
Amy O’Neill (Honey, I Blew Up the Kid)
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)
Elrich Anderson (Unfaithful)
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)
Beth Toussaint (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)
Theodore Bikel (Babylon 5)
David Ogden Stiers (Two Guys and a Girl)
Gwyneth Walsh (Taken)
Paul Winfield (The Terminator)
Ashley Judd (Divergent)
Bob Gunton (Daredevil TV)
Leonard Nimoy (Transformers: The Movie)
Malachi Throne (Batman 60s)
Henry Darrow (The Hitcher)
Daniel Roebuck (Lost)
Kathryn Leigh Scott (Three Christs)
Pamela Adlon (Better Things)
Erick Avari (Stargate)
Matt Frewer (Watchmen)
Ron Canada (Wedding Crashers)
Elizabeth Hoffman (Stargate SG.1)
Stephen Lee (Wargames)
Kevin Peter Hall (Predator)
Richard Cox (Alpha House)
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)
Lance LeGault (Stripes)
Mark Margolis (Breaking Bad)
Richard Cansino (Mighty Morphin Power Rangers)
Anne Ramsay (Mad About You)
Diedrich Bader (American Housewife)
Suzie Plakson (How I Met Your Mother)
Michael Berryman (The Hills Have Eyes)
Max Grodénchik (The Rocketeer)
Lanei Chapman (Rat Race)
Barbara Tarbuck (S. Darko)
Mike Hagerty (Overboard)
Michele Scarabelli (Alien Nation)
George Coe (Kramer vs Kramer)
James Doohan (Some Things Never Die)
Olivia D’Abo (Conan The Destroyer)
Ronny Cox (Robocop)
Clive Revill (Batman: TAS)
Jean Simmons (Spartacus)
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)
J.C. Brandy (Halloween 6)
Alan Oppenheimer (Transformers)
Eric Pierpoint (Alien Nation)
John Neville (The Fifth Element)
Ned Romero (The Lost Child)
Stephen Hawking (Futurama)
Mark Rolston (Aliens)
Joel Swetow (The Orville)
Bruce Gray (Starship Troopers)
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)
Stephen Root (Dodgeball)
Terry O’Quinn (Lost)
Penny Johnson Jerald (Bones)
Jonathan Del Arco (The Closer)
Brian Markinson (Arrow)
Alexander Enberg (junior)
Ellen Albertini Dow (The Wedding Singer)
Brenda Bakke (Hot Shots 2)
John Pyper-Ferguson (Caprica)
Paul Sorvino (Goodfellas)
Erich Anderson (Friday The 13th 4)
Lawrence Tierney (Reservoir Dogs)
Robert Ito (Quincy M.E.)
Vyto Ruginis (Moneyball)
Richard McGonagle (3rd Rock From The Sun)
Time Winters (Thinner)

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-Waldau (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)
Robert Pugh (Game of Thrones)
MV5BMjE3NjU1MjU1NV5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTcwMTE2ODUyMw@@__V1_SY1000_CR0,0,1552,1000_AL_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.MV5BMTMxNjIyNzUyM15BMl5BanBnXkFtZTcwOTA2ODUyMw@@__V1_SY1000_CR0,0,1518,1000_AL_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.
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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.