REVIEW: HIDE AND SEEK

CAST

Robert De Niro (Joy)
Dakota Fanning (Taken)
Famke Janssen (X-Men)
Elisabeth hsue (Hollow Man_
Amy Irving (Carrie)
Dylan Baker (The Cell)
Melissa Leo (The Fighter)
Robert John Burke (Robocop 3)
Josh Flitter (Ace Ventura Jr)

Following his discovery of the body of his wife (Amy Irving) in a bathtub after her apparent suicide, Dr. David Callaway (Robert De Niro), a psychologist working in New York City, decides to move with his 9-year-old daughter Emily (Dakota Fanning) to Upstate New York. There, Emily makes an apparently imaginary friend she calls “Charlie”. Her friendship with Charlie begins to disturb David when he discovers their cat dead in the bathtub, whom Emily claims was a victim of “Charlie”. Meanwhile, David suffers from nightmares of the New Year’s Eve party that occurred the night before his wife died.
When a family friend, Dr. Katherine Carson (Famke Janssen), comes to visit David and Emily, Emily reveals that she and Charlie have a mutual desire to upset her father. Soon, they meet Laura (Melissa Leo) and Stephen (Robert John Burke) who are their neighbors. David is wary of their unusual interest in Emily. He later discovers that the reason for this is that the couple had a daughter who recently died from cancer and looked like Emily. Later, when David visits Laura, she nervously and ambiguously implies that her husband has begun abusing her in response to their child’s death, emotionally and perhaps even physically. David meets Elizabeth Young (Elisabeth Shue), a local woman, and her niece, Amy, who is roughly the same age as Emily. Hoping to cultivate a new, healthy friendship for Emily, David sets up a play date for her. Amy is anxious to become friends immediately, but the play date is spoiled when Emily cuts up Amy’s doll’s face. After Amy runs out of the house, Emily tells David that she doesn’t need any more friends. Despite the unsuccessful play date, David and Elizabeth hit it off. David invites her over to dinner one night, where Emily acts increasingly hostile towards her. Some time later, Elizabeth visits the house, hoping to make peace with Emily. When Emily tells her that she is playing hide-and-seek with Charlie, Elizabeth indulges her by pretending to look for Charlie. When she opens the closet, someone bursts out and pushes Elizabeth out a second-story window to her death.
After the police discover her car crashed near David’s house, David asks Emily what happened. Emily claims Charlie caused her death by pushing her out the window and forced Emily to help him move the body. She tells David the location of her body. A terrified David discovers Elizabeth’s body in the bathroom in a bathtub full of blood. David asks Emily where Charlie is, and Emily tells him that Charlie has “just left”. David, armed with a knife, goes outside, where he meets the neighbor who has become friends with Emily.David assumes that his neighbor is Charlie and begins to act aggressively. Becoming suspicious that David has killed his own daughter, the neighbor asks to see Emily, but David cuts the neighbor with his knife. The neighbor then calls the police. Back in the house, David finds that, although he has been in his study many times (listening to his stereo and writing a journal), the boxes were actually never unpacked after the move. With this, David realizes that he has split personality and that Charlie is not imaginary at all, but that in fact “Charlie” is David himself. Whenever “Charlie” would emerge, David was in his study. Charlie was actually in control. David also realizes that under his Charlie personality, he killed his wife and then made it appear to be a suicide. He also fully recalls the events of the New Year’s Eve party the night before his wife’s death. Immediately after the countdown to midnight, David noticed his wife slip away. He followed her and caught her having sex in a stairwell with another guest. “Charlie” was created as a way for David’s rage to destroy his wife, something that the docile David himself was too decent to do. Emily knew the entire time about her father’s split personality, but did not tell him out of fear that he would revert to Charlie and hurt her.

Once Charlie’s identity and horrible deeds are realized to David, he becomes completely consumed by Charlie, leading him to murder the local sheriff (Dylan Baker), who arrives to investigate the previous altercation. Emily calls Katherine for help. Katherine arrives and is pushed down the basement stairs by ‘Charlie’. Charlie/David, determined to play a hideous game of hide-and-seek with Emily once again, starts counting. Emily dashes and hides. She tricks Charlie and manages to lock herself in her room. As Charlie tries to break in, she climbs out from the window and runs into the cave where she originally met Charlie. Meanwhile, Katherine takes the gun from the dead sheriff, breaks out of the basement, and finds Charlie looking for Emily in the cave. Charlie pretends to be David and attacks Katherine when she lowers her guard. Katherine begs for David to come out and fight his murderous other personality. Charlie tells Katherine that David no longer exists; from the minute David discovered the truth about himself, this enabled Charlie to fully take over. Emily emerges from her hiding place, begging Charlie to let Katherine go. Her distraction allows Katherine to shoot Charlie, killing him at last.
Sometime later, Emily is preparing for school in her new life with Katherine. But Emily’s drawing of herself with Katherine has two heads, suggesting that due to the trauma of witnessing what happened to her father, Emily now also suffers from split personality.Overall, with a good storyline, great performances, a creepy feel, a bit of suspense, you will never want to play Hide and Seek again.

Advertisements

REVIEW: THE RAGE: CARRIE 2

CAST

Emily Bergl (Blue Jasmine)
Jason London (Untold)
Dylan Bruno (The One)
Amy Irving (Alias)
J. Smith-Cameron (Man on a Ledge)
Zachary Ty Bryan (Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift)
John Doe (Roswell)
Rachel Blanchard (Snakes on A Plane)
Charlotte Ayanna (Training Day)
Justin Ulrich (How High)
Mena Suvari (The Losers)
Eli Craig (Zombieland TV)
Eddie kaye Thomas (American Dad)

Barbara Lang paints a barrier around her living room to protect her telekinetic daughter, Rachel, from the devil. Barbara is soon institutionalized for schizophrenia. Years later Rachel, living with foster parents, talks with her best friend Lisa, who has lost her virginity to Eric, a football player. The football players have a game where they sleep with girls and receive points, revealing Eric never cared for Lisa. After Eric rejects her, Lisa commits suicide.

Rachel discovers a photo of Lisa and Eric. She tells school counselor Sue Snell and Sheriff Kelton that Lisa and Eric slept together. Kelton looks into charging Eric with statutory rape. Walter, Rachel’s dog, is struck by a car, but Rachel flags down Jesse as he drives past. After taking Walter to an animal hospital, they get coffee. Learning that Rachel gave Kelton the photograph, Eric, Mark, and several other football players attempt to intimidate her into not talking. They become victims of her powers and flee when her foster parents arrive. Sue meets with Rachel. When Sue asks about moving objects with her mind, Rachel screams, and a snow globe on Sue’s desk shatters; Sue realizes Rachel is telekinetic. Sue brings Rachel to the original high school where the disaster took place years before and tells Rachel that Barbara revealed to her that Rachel and Carrie White had the same father; to protect her, she did not tell Rachel. Rachel does not believe her. Jesse pursues Rachel, angering popular cheerleader Tracy. Jesse convinces Rachel he was unaware of her attack, and Rachel agrees to date him.

The Senior D.A covers up the statutory rape because of the political influence of the families of the players. Encouraged, Mark plots to humiliate Rachel for what she did to Eric. He apologizes to Jesse and offers his parents’ cabin so Jesse can spend the night with Rachel. The two share a romantic evening, and Rachel loses her virginity, both unaware that a hidden video camera is filming them. After a football game, one of the players, Brad, and his girlfriend Monica invite Rachel to a party at Mark’s. She leaves with Monica, while Jesse is sidetracked by Tracy, who attempts to seduce him. Rachel is with Jesse’s friends when the football players reveal their sex game and claim that Rachel was added to Jesse’s list, making Rachel believe Jesse never cared for her. They also play the videotape and abuse her. As it triggers Rachel’s telekinesis, she closes the doors and kills most of the party-goers. Sue takes Barbara from the mental hospital and goes to Mark’s house. As Sue peers in the door, Rachel kills both Sue and Brad.

Rachel later kills Monica and Eric. While distracted by her mother’s voice, Marks shoots Rachel with a flare gun as she falls into a pool, causing a sensor to extend the cover. Rachel pulls Mark into the pool, and, with the cover fully extended, uses his spear gun to free herself while he drowns. When Barbara sees Rachel’s current state, she believes Rachel is possessed and flees. Rachel prays for help to die.

Jesse and Tracy find the house in flames and their friends dead. When Rachel sees Tracy, she kills her. The videotape of Rachel and Jesse is still playing; when he sees it Jesse tells her he did not know they were taped. Rachel calls him a liar as a notebook hits him, opening to the score page. Jesse says he loves her, but she does not believe him until she hears him say it on the videotape, realizing he told the truth. When the ceiling collapses over Jesse’s head, Rachel pushes him out of the way and is pinned. She tells him she loves him, and they kiss. Rachel pushes him out of the house before allowing herself to be consumed by the flames.

A year later, Jesse is at King’s University, sharing his room with Rachel’s dog, Walter, which he kept as a memory of Rachel. He is haunted by what has happened.

This is a very underrated horror sequel I feel, its actually very good movie with a good story that’s similar to the original but with a few more added twists, the character in the movie is related to the original Carrie in a way which links it up with the original movie, the young cast is pretty good and its fun to watch unfold up to the bloody finale which this time is at a party, the budget is pretty decent too with some cool kills at the end as she unleashes her powers, some good gore scenes in places, overall its worth picking up if your a fan of the series, most of the movie has a cool rock soundtrack too, there are certainly worse sequels out here.

REVIEW: CARRIE (1976)

CAST

Sissy Spacek (The Help)
Piper Laurie (The Faculty)
Amy Irving (Alias)
William Katt (Sparks)
John Travolta (The Punisher)
Nancy Allen (Robocop)
Betty Buckley (Eight Is Enough)
P.J. Soles (Halloween)
Priscilla Pointer (Blue Velvet)
Sydney Lassick (Alligator)

Carrie White (Sissy Spacek), a shy and friendless 17-year-old girl, is the scapegoat and outcast of her school. At home, she is abused by her mentally unstable mother Margaret (Piper Laurie), who is a Christian fundamentalist. While in the showers after gym class, Carrie unexpectedly experiences her first period and fears she is bleeding to death. The other girls, including Chris Hargensen (Nancy Allen) and Sue Snell (Amy Irving), add to her shame and humiliation by pelting her with tampons and sanitary pads. The gym teacher Miss Collins (Betty Buckley) intervenes and as Carrie becomes more frantic, a light bulb bursts in the showers.
Further examples of Carrie’s telekinetic power are shown: when the school principal repeatedly calls her “Cassie” instead of “Carrie”, an ashtray on his desk spontaneously flips onto the floor; as Carrie walks home a boy on a bicycle taunts her, but falls off his bike when Carrie glares at him; and when Margaret tells Carrie that the “curse of blood” is divine punishment for sin and forces her to pray for forgiveness, Carrie stares at her bedroom mirror until it shatters.  Miss Collins punishes Carrie’s P.E. class with a week-long detention, threatening the students with suspension from school and the prom if they do not attend. Chris becomes defiant and is slapped by Miss Collins; Chris storms out angrily swearing vengeance.Ashamed of her participation in Carrie’s taunting, Sue persuades her boyfriend Tommy Ross (William Katt) to invite Carrie to the prom, but Carrie declines, fearing a trick. Tommy later visits Carrie’s house and repeats his invitation, which she eventually accepts. Carrie tells her mother she is going to the prom, but Margaret declares the prom to be a sinful occasion. Carrie demonstrates her power by causing all the windows to slam shut, leading Margaret to believe she is a witch. Chris tells her delinquent boyfriend Billy Nolan (John Travolta) that she wants revenge on Carrie. He sneaks into the school and places a bucket full of pig’s blood above the school’s stage. At the prom, Chris’ friend Norma (P.J. Soles) rigs the voting so that Carrie and Tommy are named prom king and queen. When the crown is placed on Carrie’s head, Chris drenches Carrie in the pig’s blood. Chris and Billy leave the gym laughing, as Carrie hallucinates that everyone (including Miss Collins) is laughing at her.Immediately concerned, Tommy tries to help Carrie, but he is knocked unconscious by the bucket falling from the beam overhead before he can do anything. Carrie telekinetically seals the exits and attacks the students with a fire hose, killing Norma. She kills Miss Collins by pinning her to the wall with gym equipment as the horrified and helpless Chris and Billy watch from a window. She electrocutes other staff before igniting a massive fire, killing all the remaining students and staff. Carrie calmly leaves the inferno and begins walking home, still covered in blood. Chris and Billy attempt to run her down, but Carrie telekinetically flips the car over and causes it to explode, killing them both. Upon returning home and taking a bath to wash off the pig’s blood, Carrie prepares for bed, but encounters Margaret and breaks down in her arms. They recite the Lord’s Prayer together, but halfway through, Margaret stabs Carrie in the back with a butcher’s knife. Carrie falls down the stairs and is cornered in the kitchen by a crazed Margaret, who attempts to stab her again. Carrie sends all the kitchen knives and sharp objects hurtling into her mother, crucifying her in the doorway. The house starts to shake and then collapses around them as Carrie embraces her mother’s body.Some time later, Sue, the sole survivor of the prom massacre, has a dream in which she visits the lot where Carrie’s house once stood. As she places flowers on the ground, Carrie’s bloody hand shoots out of the ground and grabs her elbow. Sue jolts awake in her own bed with her mother desperately trying to calm her.Perhaps for younger generations this may be a bit lame as the thing these days seems to be loads of blood and gore from start to finish, with no proper strong story. Carrie is still a great little chiller and Sissy Spacek in the title role really makes it her own and brings the character to life in a thoughtful way.

 

REVIEW: ALIAS – SEASON 1-5

Image result for alias logo

 

MAIN CAST

Jennifer Garner (Elektra)
Ron Rifkin (Gotham)
Michael Vartan (Bates Motel)
Bradley Cooper (Joy)
Merrin Dungey (Edtv)
Carl Lumbly (The Alphabet Killer)
Kevin Weisman (Clerks 2)
Victor Garber (Legends of Tomorrow)
Greg Grunberg (Heroes)
David Anders (Izombie)
Lena Olin (Mystery Men)
Melissa George (Triangle)
Mia Maestro (Poseidon)
Rachel Nicols (G.I. Joe)
Balthazar Getty (Young Guns 2)
Elodie Bouchez (Reality)
Amy Acker (Angel)
Image result for alias pilot
RECURRING / NOTABLE GUEST STARS

Edward Atterton (Firefly)
Angus Scrimm (Phantasm)
Ric Young (The Transporter)
Evan Parke (King Kong)
Ravil Isyanov (The Jackal)
Sarah Shahi (Old School)
John Aylward (Armageddon)
Gina Torres (Serenity)
Keone Young (Men In Black 3)
Miguel Sandoval (Medium)
Faran Tahir (Iron Man)
Arabella Holzbog (Across The Universe)
Tom Everett (Air Force One)
Lori Heuring (Mulholland Drive)
Yvonne Farrow (The Hard Truth)
Tristin Mays (The Vampire Diaries)
John Hannah (Spartacus)
Maurice Godin (Boat Trip)
James Hong (Blade Runner)
Derek Mears (Friday The 13th)
Tobin Bell (Saw)
Aharon Ipale (The Mummy)
James Handy (Jumanji)
Quentin Tarantino (The Hateful Eight)
Joey Slotnick (Nip/Tuck)
Agnes Bruckner (Blood and Chocolate)
Patricia Wettig (City Slickers)
Jennifer Tung (Masked Rider)
James Lew (Traffic)
Amy Irving (Carrie)
Michelle Arthur (The Number 23)
Roger Moore (Octopussy)
Lindsay Crouse (Buffy)
Derrick O’Connor (End of Days)
Terry O’Quinn (Lost)
Peter Berg (Collateral)
Tony Amendola (Stargate SG.1)
Marisol Nichols (Riverdale)
Ira Heiden (A Nightmare On Elm Street 3)
Derek de Lint (Deep Impact)
James Lesure (Las Vegas)
Marshall Manesh (How I Met Your Mother)
Faye Dunaway (Supergirl)
Courtney Gains (Children of The Corns)
Rutger Hauer (Blade Runner)
Olivia d’Abo (Conan The Destroyer)
Ethan Hawke (The Purge)
Christian Slater (True Romance)
Lindsey Ginter (S.W.A.T.)
Tracy Middendorf (Scream: The Series)
Ahmed Best (Star wars – Episode I)
Bonita Friedericy (Chuck)
Richard Lewis (Drunks)
Stacey Scowley (The Brotherhood 2)
Danny Trejo (Machete)
Robert Joy (The Hills Have Eyes)
Jonathan Banks (The Lizzie Borden Chronicles)
Amanda Foreman (Super 8)
Kurt Fuller (Ghostbusters 2)
Brad Greenquist (Pet Sematary)
Ilia Volok (Power Rangers Wild Force)
Mark Bramhall (Vanilla Sky)
Justin Theroux (American Psycho)
Clifton Collins Jr. (Pacific Rim)
Djimon Hounsou (Stargate)
Alec Mapa (Ugly Betty)
George Cheung (Rush Hour)
Erick Avari (The Mummy)
Pruitt Taylor Vince (Heroes Reborn)
Richard Roundtree (Shaft)
Erica Leerhsen (Wrong Turn 2)
David Cronenberg (Resurrection)
Isabella Rossellini (Death Becomes Her)
Arnold Vosloo (G.I.Joe)
Francois Chau (lost)
James Kyson (Heroes)
Vivica A. Fox (Idle Hands)
Stana Katic (Castle)
Griffin Dunne (After Hours)
Ricky Gervais (The Invention of Lying)
Raymond J. Barry (Training Day)
Peggy Lipton (The Mod Squad)
David Carradine (Kill Bill)
Angela Bassett (Green Lantern)
Rob Benedict (Birds of Prey)
Rick Yune (The Fast and The Furious)
Kelly Macdonald (Brave)
Jim Pirri (3rd Rock From The Sun)
Julie Ann Emery (Fargo)
Sebastian Roche (Odyssey 5)
Jason Segel (How I Met Your Mother)
Sonia Braga (Angel Eyes)
Kevin Alejandro (Arrow)
Robin Sachs (Buffy)
Michelle Forbes (Powers)
Joel Grey (Cabaret)
Michael McKean (Smallville)
Jeff Yagher (V)
Andrew Divoff (Wishmaster)
Tyrees Allen (Robocop)
Larry Cedar (Deadwood)
Kevin Cooney (Roswell)
Patrick Bauchau (Secretary)
Angus Macfadyen (Chuck)
Michael Masse (Flashforward)

Alias is the creation of “Felicity” creator J.J Abrams and stars Jennifer Garner (“Dude, Where’s My Car”). The choice of Garner as Sydney Bristow is one of those things where most will likely not imagine anyone else in the role. Able to portray a natural sweetness and likability, Garner turns Sydney into a highly engaging character with complex and conflicting emotions, as well as one who is an expert in martial arts.

At the opening of the show, Sydney works for a top-secret organization called SD-6, who is searching for a mysterious device by a scientist named Rambaldi. It’s not long before Sydney realizes that SD-6 isn’t the branch of the CIA that it says it is, leading Sydney to work as a double agent for the real CIA to investigate SD-6. It’s not long before Sydney finds herself in the midst of double-and-triple crosses, not to mention surprises, as she finds out her father (a terrific Victor Garber) is an agent, as well.

The show does take a bit from previous efforts such as “Mission: Impossible” and “La Femme Nikita” (the latter was also turned into a well-liked TV show), while also running on the techno-pulse of a “Run Lola Run”. Still, the show manages to add its own twists and turns on a familiar genre. The show’s production design, cinematography and costumes are all first-rate, while the occasional jump to a foreign location or new gadget intro make the show fun and compelling. As with “Felicity”, Abrams and the show’s music supervisors make interesting choices that fit with the show rather than showcase certain artists. Quentin Tarantino makes a great guest appearance in “The Box”; while he might not win an Oscar for acting, Tarantino is never less than a fun, unpredictable presence in any acting appearance, and this is no different.

.

Sydney Bristow (Jennifer Garner) is back as the double agent who works for the CIA and the evil organization known as SD-6. Sloane (Ron Rifkin) is the leader of SD-6, and Agent Vaughn (Michael Vartan) is Sydney’s handler. He’s also her would-be lover. Add to the mix another double agent who happens to be Sydney’s father (Victor Garber), and you have a show that seems like it would be too weird to work. But it does.

What surprises me most about this series is the fact that the action, and the reason for the action, is often the least important aspect of any particular episode. Sure, it gets all the glory, but the whole idea of chasing Rambaldi artifacts is nothing more than Hitchcock’s McGuffin. These chases are a means to get the characters in motion. What matters, however, is how the characters react and grow.

Season two continues the trend of letting the secondary characters in on the big picture. They’re not around just to give Sydney someone to talk with when she’s not at work. Instead, they have a life of their own; a life that is vitally important to the show, with intrigues that really drive the show’s emotion. In season two, Will (Bradley Cooper) gets a bigger roll, and it’s plausible and exciting. Francie (Merrin Dungey) even gets in on the act. These “smaller characters,” and many others, are used and developed throughout the show, an idea that other television shows can learn from.

Season two also features more humor, and this can only mean one thing. Yep, more Marshall. Lots more. This character, played perfectly by Kevin Weisman, adds the much-needed comic relief to the show, and at times, he’s outright hilarious. Add some subtle humor provided by Will, Vaughn, Weiss (Greg Grunberg), and even Jack, and you have some great stuff.

Image result for alias phase one

But that doesn’t mean this season turns its back on the bread and butter of the series. If anything, the action and excitement have multiplied. Sydney goes on 33 missions, many with counter-missions for the CIA. That’s an awful lot of action and suspense for 22 one-hour episodes. Lena Olin joins the cast as Sydneys Mother who turns her self into the CIA, and it becomes a question of can she be trusted.

In the episode Phase One the entire Alias world is  turned upside down, beginning with the mysterious disappearance of Sloane that brings Anthony Geiger, the new head of SD-6 into Jack and Sydney’s life. As the Bristows struggle to stay one step ahead of having their secret blown wide open by Geiger, Will and Francie make a startling discovery of their own as she prepares to open her new restaurant. After an airborne mission to recover something called a Server 47 dive, Sydney uncovers a crucial weakness, one that could bring down the entire Alliance. But to put her plan into action, she must tell Dixon the truth about everything when Jack is captured, and Dixon has to make the decision to reveal the security code… enabling the CIA to launch a world-wide offensive against all SD cells to bring down. This allows Sydney to no longer be a double agent and just work for the CIA to take down Sloane.

The third season of Alias continues to bring an interesting mix of high-paced and intense action, drama, mystery, and suspense. This season picks up right at the end of the second season. For that reason, if you’ve missed the earlier seasons in this series, you should most definitely check them out before viewing the third season.


In the third season, the show focuses upon a major mystery, covering the details about Sydney Bristow’s past. At the end of the second season, she awakens without memory of the last two years. This season uncovers the truth of those missing two years and the truth is far from what Bristow expected. There are also some stories that touch upon the previous seasons. But it’s not specifically these stories that make the season entertaining, but rather the characters.

The cast of the previous season is the same, with the addition of Lauren Reed (Melissa George). But since this season is set two years after the previous season, the characters return with slightly different roles. Nothing is the way it was before. I enjoyed this change, because it gave this season a slightly different pace from the previous seasons. There’s also a lot of focus on these characters, which give new insights, making old enemies friends, and friends enemies. In a few cases, old enemies who became friends once again become enemies, which shouldn’t be too much of an eye-opener. This is done in a manner that makes it almost difficult to like or trust most of the cast. For this reason, you’re repeatedly left in suspense, wondering if this character will backstab our hero or someone close to her.

Some of the stories covered a sordid and twisted love affair. There’s also the introduction of the National Security Council’s (NSC) involvement with daily interactions of the CIA. This adds an interesting development, simply because the CIA and NSC do not always “play” well together. It’s your basic struggle for power. There’s also the development of older characters with new faces. The big bad guy of the previous two seasons, Arvin Sloane (Ron Rifkin) isn’t such a bad guy anymore. The development of his character adds a new layer of mistrust. With the earlier seasons seeing the major terrorist organization in the can, some new faceless bad guys have surfaced. It’s no surprise that the weasel of the earlier seasons, Julian Sark (David Anders) makes his bed with them. This pretty much gives the season a purpose to continue. Someone has to stop them and it might as well be Sydney and her friends at the CIA.

Image result for alias the two

The third season of Alias brings another strong season, filled with action, drama, and suspense for the fans. It’s pretty much extension of the previous seasons, with a few subtle changes to the overall format. The character roles are slightly different and there are new faces, new bad guys, new missions, and new gadgets. I found that it was solid with plenty of entertainment.

In season four we see the cast Alias come back together as one happy family. In the earlier seasons the cast worked together in an odd mish of double agents between SD6 and CIA. Now we find them all working together on the same team for a black ops CIA organization called APO, which stands for Authorized Personnel Only. It is an odd arrangement to see Sidney, Jack, Vaughn, Weiss, Marshall, Dixon, and a few others working along side each other and under the command of none other than Sloane.

The first two episodes “Authorized Personnel Only” parts 1 and 2 has the cast being put back together with Sloane acting as director, Jack the second in command, Marshall in charge of tech, and Sydney in the field with Dixon. Vaughn and Weiss also return to take a more active role. No longer are they the voice behind the microphone as we have seen them in the past. Instead we find them along side Sydney and Dixon more often than not. There is also an episode when Marshall gets put in the field and the combination of his comical geeky personality and the high pace seriousness of the situation make it pretty entertaining to see him working along side Sydney in this fashion. The major addition to the cast this season is Nadia Santos, who was introduced at the end of season 3 as Sydney’s half-sister (Sloane and Irena’s daughter) in season three. She joins the rest of the crew working for APO.

There is still plenty of action, suspense, and drama to keep you tuned in. This season uses the same tact previous seasons do, plenty of misdirection and dramatic shifts. The episodes do well keeping the characters, whether from the main cast or supporting roles, hard to make out. You just can’t tell if they are good or bad. Their loyalties seem to shift enough throughout the stories to keep you second guessing who will betray who and whether or not the betrayal really happened. Mix that well worked angle of suspense with plenty of action, some corny drama, and the ever-so-goofy Marshall and you’ve a pretty exciting addition to the Alias series.

Since Nadia is a new character, a majority of the season is about her relationship forming with the rest of the cast. It is a slightly odd setup as Sydney is her step-sister, Sloane is her father, and Jack is the man who was married to her mother. The back stories that tie into Nadia are. She becomes an integral part to the Rambaldi dream and there are a few other great tie-ins to other stories. The Rambaldi story found in the previous seasons comes to the fore and plays a big role in the season with the Derevko sisters acting as the villains. There are also familiar faces like Sark and Doren who make several appearances. We also see another back story with Vaughn trying to unravel mysteries about his father. This season has many other stories to keep you hooked and they do a pretty good job at building suspense and leaving you on the edge of your seat!

Season five sees several changes in the cast and how APO does their business. First off, Vaughn leaves the show. In season four’s cliffhanger, it was revealed that Vaughn was not exactly who he said he was. He was someone named Andre Michaux. Vaughn has a back story that ties into the bigger picture. After the season premiere, his character disappears after being shot several times in the chest by agents from the Shed, a rogue operation that is similar to SD-6 in nature. Another change is Weiss. While he has been a main character for the past two seasons, in the early parts of season five announces he was offered a job in Washington, D.C. heading covert ops for the NSC. He decides to take the job. Without Vaughn and Weiss, some new faces are brought into APO to replacement them.

There are two new characters in APO. Thomas Grace (Balthazar Getty) joins the cast in the season’s second episode. Grace is not your average going guy. He is tough, has a temper, and we first meet him as he is getting his ass kicked in a bar fight. Everyone in APO is hesitant to accept him into their ranks. Grace has his own back story that includes his family and an assassin. Rachel is a computer genius who has been in a situation much like Sydney. She has been working for the Shed, a criminal organization that pretends it is a black ops division of the CIA. Rachel had been working with the impression she was on the good guy’s side. When she found out the Shed was not part of the real CIA, she turned coat. Rachel and Sydney connect on a personal level, because Sydney understands the torment she is going through.

Another new face to this season is a well-known criminal named Renee Rienne (Elodie Bouchez). She is number eight on the CIA’s most wanted list. Vaughn has been working with her to gain information about his father and Prophet Five, which is the main season five storyline. Renee unofficially works with APO in their efforts against Prophet Five. Her back story ties directly into Prophet Five and she has sworn on her life to see it end. Kelly Peyton (Amy Acker) is the final addition to the season five line up. In the later half of the season, she is listed as a main character. Kelly worked with Rachel at the Shed under Gordon Dean. While Rachel did not know about the Shed’s true intentions, Kelly did. She is a bad girl.
As for the storylines, the season five introduces Prophet Five, which is filled with lots of mysterious and intrigue tied into all of the old and new players. Prophet Five is a criminal organization that is much like the Alliance. It houses smaller cells like the Shed. The APO team sets their sights on Prophet Five and stopping them from reaching their endgame. Another interesting aspect that continues to bring intrigue to the show is Sloane and his story. In season four, he was imprisoned for his crimes. He cuts a deal with some bad guys to be a mole in APO, which continue to give his character intrigue as you never know whose best interests he has in mind. Other storylines revolve around the characters, Rachel getting accustomed to her new life as an APO field agent, Grace fitting into the group, Sydney overcoming the loss of Vaughn and being pregnant.

 

REVIEW: TRAFFIC

CAST

Michael Douglas (Wall Street)
Amy Irving (Alias)
Benicio del Toro (Sin City)
Erika Christensen (Swimfan)
Topher Grace (That 70s Show)
James Brolin (The Amityville Horror)
Jacob Vargas (Get Shorty)
Albert Finney (The Bourne Legacy)
Catherine Zeta Jones (Entrapment)
Dennis Quaid (Jaws 3)
Clifton Collins Jr. (The Bad Pack)
Don Cheadle (Iron Man 2 & 3)
Luis Guzman (McBain)
Miguel ferrer (Robocop)
Peter Riegert (The Mask)
Benjamin Bratt (Demolition Man)
Viola Davis (Suicide Squad)
Salma Hayek (Ugly Betty)

Scripted by Stephen Gaghan, Traffic is adapted from the famous British miniseries Traffik and takes a hard look at the illegal drug trade from multiple perspectives. All sides of the issue are explored via a series of intersecting storylines. On the front lines, a Mexican cop (Benicio Del Toro) witnesses the rampant government corruption that facilitates the smuggling of drugs across the U.S. border. In the halls of American power, a politically ambitious judge (Michael Douglas) is picked as the new Drug Tsar and quickly runs into obstacles implementing new policies.

In fact, even the judge’s own daughter (Erika Christensen) and her privileged rich kid friends experiment with freebasing and begin the downward spiral of addiction. In the netherworld between these two extremes, a DEA agent (Don Cheadle) in California attempts to take down a drug running ring but finds the effort futile; even if he succeeds all he’s done is clear the way for new competition to move in. Meanwhile, a society wife (Catherine Zeta-Jones) whose husband is indicted on trafficking charges is forced into taking over his smuggling racket to pay their debts and protect her family.

The movie has a huge cast of other recognizable faces (Dennis Quaid, Albert Finney, Luis Guzman, Amy Irving, and Miguel Ferrer among others), but it’s Del Toro who stands out in a star-making turn; he won the Oscar for Best Supporting Actor but actually carries a big chunk of the movie and proves he can be an effective leading man. The story has an ambitious reach and a complicated structure. Soderbergh juggles all these elements with masterful control, maintaining a steady tone that emphasizes the tragedy of the situation without overstepping into preachiness, overwrought theatrics, or heavy-handed sermonizing. The movie asks many questions but is frank that it can deliver no answers. It takes no political stance either for or against our government’s policies other than to point out that they clearly aren’t working. The war on drugs is a self-generating, never-ending cycle of corruption, hypocrisy, and hopelessness with seemingly no possible solution.