REVIEW: CRITTERS 4

 

CAST

Don Keith Opper (Android)
Terrence Mann (As The World Turns)
Angela Bassett (Green Lantern)
Brad Dourif (Curse of Chucky)
Anne Ramsey (Class Action)

Image result for critters 4The film begins in 1992 as Charlie McFadden (Don Keith Opper), still in his role as alien bounty hunter, is about to destroy two Critter eggs. He is suddenly stopped by a hologram message from his alien friend Ug (Terrance Mann), who tells him the eggs are the last two Critters in existence and that it is against intergalactic law to cause their extinction. Charlie protests that the Critters are too dangerous to keep alive, but he obeys Ug’s orders to place the eggs in a preservation capsule that suddenly falls from the sky. As Charlie puts the eggs in the pod, the hatch closes on him and he is launched into space.
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Over a half-century later, in 2045, the crew of the salvage ship RSS Tesla finds the pod in deep space and bring it aboard. The ship is crewed by the shady and lecherous Captain Rick Buttram (Anders Hove); along with his eccentric engineer Al “Albert” Bert (Brad Dourif); pilot Fran (Angela Bassett); cargo specialist Bernie (Eric Da Re); and young engineer apprentice Ethan (Paul Whitthorne), who anxiously anticipates seeing his father back on Earth. While Rick and Bernie bully Ethan, Fran and Albert show him more appreciation.
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After examining the pod, Ethan discovers the emblem of the old Intergalactic Council on the side and questions the legality of claiming it for salvage. After reporting their find, the ship gets a communication from Councilor Tetra (Terrance Mann), of TerraCor, who offers Rick three times the going rate if he brings the pod to a nearby station. Fran, Bernie and Albert encourage Rick to accept the deal, but Ethan disputes going off course as it will delay his trip home.
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Eventually the crew decides to go to the station, but find the facility abandoned and a barely kept running by a malfunctioning central computer named “Angela” that won’t obey orders unless given the exact opposite instruction. Things get more problematic when Albert learns the station’s reactor is also leaking radiation but doesn’t anticipates it going critical for a month or so. In the meantime Rick has bigger plans and secretly decides to rip off the others and take the contents of the pod for himself.
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Eventually Ethan stumbles upon Rick tampering with the pod, and Rick offers to cut him into his scheme saying his plan will get them back to Earth sooner. When Ethan refuses to abandon the others, Rick knocks him unconscious with a fire extinguisher. Rick manages to open the pod and encounters an excited Charlie who quickly jumps out. Infuriated, Rick refuses to believe Charlie is the only thing in the pod and crawls inside for himself. There he discovers the freshly hatched baby Critters who quickly attack and kill him.
Image result for critters 4Charlie tries to shoot the Critters with Rick’s gun but the critters manage to run off. He then revives Ethan and goes off to pursue the Critters with the confused boy in tow. Eventually they meet up with the rest of the crew and Charlie explains who he is and how he came to be in the pod. While the crew contemplates his wild story, Bernie departs refusing to believe that “man-eating furballs” are running loose on the station. Ethan then uses a computer keycard he earlier found outside a research lab to access a report made by a Dr. McCormick (Anne Ramsay), who reveals that she was conducting research on various alien organisms for use as a bioweapon. Unfortunately her creations couldn’t reproduce on their own and she requested finding a suitable organism capable of rapid reproduction. After realizing what has been going on aboard the station, Albert strongly suggests they all leave it immediately.
Image result for critters 4Meanwhile, Bernie sneaks into the station’s pharmacy to steal drugs. The Critters sneak up on him and he becomes their next meal. After the others find his remains, Angela announces that the reactor will go critical within hours and starts sealing off sections of the station. Albert realizes the reactor was in far worse shape than he originally thought. The crew are then forced to crawl through tight service tunnels to reach their ship, during which they find a clutch of freshly laid Critter eggs and learn the Critters are breeding. Unknown to the crew, the Critters have made their way to the Tesla and program the ship to head for the nearest inhabited planet – Earth. One Critter tells the other to “get the kids” while it preps the ship for take off. Once the crew arrive, Albert hands Charlie the only weapon he has; an antique Colt revolver. Charlie wastes no time using it when they encounter the Critters on the ship, but his shots not only kill the Critters, but destroys the flight controls leaving the ship dead in the water.
Image result for critters 4While the crew attempt repairs, Ethan takes the gun to hunt down the last Critter himself. He finds the creature in the science lab using the equipment there to rapidly grow several baby Critters to full size. He then runs back to the ship to warn the others just as a Terracor ship carrying Tetra and his troopers arrives. The surviving crew rush to meet Tetra, but finds the troopers leveling their weapons at them. Tetra demands the Critter eggs but Albert refuses to be threatened. Ethan arrives just as Tetra shoots and kills Albert. Tetra then knocks Fran to the deck while Charlie stands confounded that his old alien friend Ug has turned selfishly evil. Ug says “things change” and then orders his troops to go find the eggs.
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Still unnoticed, Ethan runs back to the science lab and sets up a trap for Tetra’s troopers. When they arrive he seals them inside with the pack of hungry critters. He then retrieves the Critter eggs from the tunnel and brings them back to Tetra while juggling them carelessly in the air. To Tetra’s astonishment, Ethan purposely drops and breaks two of the eggs leaving one left. After Tetra threatens to kill Fran, Ethan tosses the last egg to distract him. Fran then notices the revolver hidden in Ethan’s waistband and quickly strikes Tetra in the head with it, knocking him out. Charlie and Fran then rush aboard Tetra’s ship to prepare for take off, but Ethan lingers to mourn over Albert’s body. Suddenly the last Critter appears and attacks him, but Ethan manages to flash freeze the Critter with a fuel hose. As Ethan recovers he finds Tetra pointing a gun at him. Charlie returns and points the revolver at Tetra who doubts that Charlie even has the guts to pull the trigger. Charlie utters, “Things change, Ug”, and shoots Tetra in the head.
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Angela then warns that the reactor will go critical in a matter of moments and the survivors rush aboard Tetra’s ship to escape. As Angela counts down to detonation, the station suddenly explodes a few seconds early leaving Ethan to laugh at how stupid the computer was, and that it couldn’t even correctly tell time. The film ends with the three flying off toward Earth.
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This sequel lives up to to the others and is in some cases even better. It has a good story, nice visual effects, and a quick pace. The cast are very good in their parts as well, it was especially good seeing Angela Bassett before she became a big name. The ending is pretty pathetic, but it still is a lot of fun .

REVIEW: SUPERNOVA

CAST

James Spader (Avengers: Age of Ultron)
Angela Bassett (Green Lantern)
Robert Forster (Heroes)
Lou Diamond Phillips (Young Guns)
Peter Facinelli (Supergirl TV)
Robin Tunney (Hollywoodland)
Vanessa Marshall (Star Wars: Rebels)

Supernova chronicles the search and rescue patrol of a medical ship in deep space in the early 22nd century and its six-member crew, which includes captain and pilot A.J. Marley (Robert Forster), co-pilot Nick Vanzant (James Spader), medical officer Kaela Evers (Angela Bassett), medical technician Yerzy Penalosa (Lou Diamond Phillips), search and rescue paramedic Danika Lund (Robin Tunney) and computer technician Benjamin Sotomejor (Wilson Cruz). Aboard their vessel, the Nightingale 229, they receive an emergency distress signal coming from an ice mining operation on the moon Titan 37, more than 3,000 light years away.

The crew answers the call and dimension jumps — during which Captain Marley suffers fatal injuries due to a malfunction of the ship’s equipment — arriving in the path of Titan 37’s debris cloud, some of which damages the ship and causes the loss of 82 percent of its maneuvering fuel. Worse still, Titan 37 orbits a blue giant, and its high gravity field will pull the ship to the point where it will be incinerated in 17 hours, 12 minutes — which happens to be almost the same amount of time that the Nightingale 229 will need to recharge its jump drive, their only possible hope for escape. With only an 11-minute window for escape, the surviving crew soon find themselves in danger from the disturbing young man (Peter Facinelli) they rescue, and the mysterious alien artifact he has smuggled aboard. This artifact is analyzed by the ship’s computer and is said to contain nine-dimensional matter.

It is ultimately discovered that the young man who called for rescue is actually Karl Larson, an old former lover of Kaela (it is implied they had an abusive relationship). Karl came into contact with the nine-dimensional matter after recovering the artifact. It somehow enabled him to acquire super strength and supernatural healing abilities, and made him younger (such that Kaela did not recognize him). Karl murders most of the crew except Kaela and strands Nick on the mining platform. Karl unsuccessfully attempts to romantically reconcile with Kaela. Nick finds his way back to the medical ship through a rescue pod left on the mining platform, and a battle ensues between Nick and Karl. Karl is ultimately killed by Kaela using explosives placed near the alien artifact which Karl was obsessed with retrieving. The explosion ejects the artifact into space, hurtling it towards the blue giant.

With moments left before the dimension jump activates, Kaela and Nick place themselves into the only remaining dimensional stabilization chamber (Karl had destroyed all but one), which is the only thing that enables human beings to survive the ship’s dimensional jump drive. The pods are meant to hold only one person, however — two subjects might be genetically mixed during the dimensional jump. Before Nick and Kaela enter the only remaining pod, the computer warns them that the nine-dimensional matter is reacting with the gravity of the blue giant sun and will cause a nine-dimensional reaction that will spread in all directions, such that the reaction’s resulting supernova will reach Earth within 51 years. The computer hypothesizes that the reaction will either destroy life on Earth or “enable humankind to achieve a new level of existence.” Just before the blue giant supernovas, the ship engages in a dimensional jump which brings Nick and Kaela back to Earth. As a result of their being in the same pod, the two of them each have one eye of the other person’s original eye color. The ship’s computer also reveals that Kaela is pregnant, which may be the result of them being in the pod together during the jump, or the result of their copulation hours earlier.

This is a fantastic little sci-fi movie from 2000, still looking good after all these years. The special effects are top notch and still look great, if you love a good sci-fi its really worth digging back up as its thoroughly entertaining!

REVIEW: GREEN LANTERN (2011)

 

CAST
Ryan Reynolds (Deadpool)
Blake Lively (The Town)
Peter Sarsgaard (Orphan)
Mark Strong (Grimsby)
Jay O. Saunders (JFK)
Tim Robbins (Antitrust)
Taika Waititi (Eagle vs Shark)
Angela Bassett (This Means War)
Temuera Morrison (Spartacus: Gods of The Arena)
Jon Tenney (The Phantom)
Geoffrey Rush (Mystery Men)
Michael Clarke Duncan (The Finder)
Salome Jens (Star Trek: DS9)
Clancy Brown (Highlander)
Billions of years ago, beings called the Guardians of the Universe used the green essence of willpower to create an intergalactic police force called the Green Lantern Corps. They divided the universe into 3600 sectors, with one Green Lantern per sector. One such Green Lantern, Abin Sur of Sector 2814, defeated the malevolent being Parallax and imprisoned him in the Lost Sector on the desolate planet Ryut. In the present day, Parallax escapes from his prison after becoming strengthened by an encounter with crash survivors on the planet, feeding off of their fear to gain strength before pursuing and nearly killing Abin Sur, who escapes and crash-lands on Earth where he commands his ring to find a worthy successor.
Hal Jordan, a cocky test pilot working at Ferris Aircraft, is chosen by the ring and transported to the crash site, where the dying Abin Sur appoints him a Green Lantern, telling him to take the lantern and speak the oath. At home he says the oath and is later whisked away to the Green Lantern Corps home planet of Oa, where he meets and trains with veteran Corps members Tomar-Re and Kilowog and Corps leader Sinestro, who believes he is unfit and fearful. Jordan quits and returns to Earth, keeping the power ring and lantern.
Meanwhile, scientist Hector Hammond is summoned by his father, Senator Robert Hammond, to a secret government facility to perform an autopsy on Abin Sur’s body. A piece of Parallax inside the corpse enters Hammond, giving him telepathic and telekinetic powers, at the cost of his sanity. After discovering that he was chosen for the secret work only due to his father’s influence, Hammond attempts to kill his father by telekinetically sabotaging his helicopter at a party. Jordan saves the senator and the party guests, including his childhood sweetheart Carol Ferris. Later, Hammond successfully kills his father by burning him alive, and Jordan learns of Parallax coming to Earth.
Back on Oa, the Guardians tell Sinestro that Parallax was once one of their own until he desired to control the yellow essence of fear, only to become the embodiment of fear itself. Arguing that the way to fight fear is by fear itself, Sinestro requests that the Guardians forge a ring of the same yellow power, preparing to concede Earth’s destruction to Parallax in order to protect Oa. Jordan appears and tries to convince the Guardians that fear will turn the users evil if its power is used, but they reject his pleas, and he returns to Earth to try to defeat Parallax alone feeling defeated.
Upon returning to Earth as the Lantern, Jordan saves Ferris from Hammond after a brief showdown with him. Parallax arrives, consumes Hammond’s life force, killing him and then wreaks havoc on Coast City. After a fierce battle, with new-found strength, Jordan lures Parallax away from Earth and toward the Sun, destroying and killing Parallax. He loses consciousness after the battle and falls toward the sun, but is saved by Sinestro, Kilowog, and Tomar-Re. Later, the entire Green Lantern Corps congratulates him for his bravery. Sinestro tells Jordan he now bears the responsibility of protecting his sector as a Green Lantern.
In a mid-credits scene, Sinestro steals the yellow ring and places it on his finger, causing his green suit and eyes to change to yellow.
Some people who hate on this film obviously couldn’t suspend their disbelief long enough to enjoy it. It’s not the greatest DC film, but the outer space sequences were really cool, especially in 3D, and Ryan Reynolds’ suit effects were cool. The final battle may have been weak, but I’m sure they were hoping to set up sequels with larger battles.

REVIEW: THIS MEANS WAR

CAST

Reese WItherspoon (Walk The Line)
Chris Pine (Star Trek)
Tom Hardy (Mad Max: Fury Road)
Til Schweiger (King Arthur)
Chelsea Handler (Fun Size)
John Paul Ruttan (Robocop 2014)
Abigail Spencr (Oz The Great and Powerful)
Angela Bassett (Green Lantern)
Rosemary Harris (Spider-Man)
Goegre Touliatos (Cosmopolis)
Leela Savasta (Black Xmas)
Natassia Malthe (Bloodrayne 2 & 3)
Laura Vandervoort (Bitten)
Patrick Sabongui (The Flash)
Emilie Ullerup (Sanctuary)

This Means War images Movie Stills HD wallpaper and background photos

CIA agents and best friends Franklin “FDR” Foster (Chris Pine) and Tuck Hansen (Tom Hardy) are deployed to Hong Kong to prevent international criminal Karl Heinrich (Til Schweiger) from acquiring a weapon of mass destruction, but the mission goes awry, resulting in the death of Heinrich’s brother, Jonas. Heinrich swears vengeance against them. Upon returning to America, their boss, Collins (Angela Bassett) assigns them to desk duty for their protection. FDR is a womanizer, whose cover is a cruise ship captain, while Tuck, who presents himself as a travel agent, has an ex-wife, Katie (Abigail Spencer) and a young son, Joe (John Paul Ruttan), who believes his dad is a weakling.

Tuck goes to Joe’s karate lesson where Joe loses his match, Tuck tries to give Joe advice but Joe rolls his eyes and asks how he would know since he is just a travel agent. Tuck walks Joe to the car where he attempts to rekindle his connection to his famIly, but Katie makes excuses as to why they can’t go out for supper together. After being rebuffed by Katie he sees a commercial for online dating. Tuck decides to sign himself up and is paired with Lauren Scott (Reese Witherspoon), a product-testing executive who is dealing with the recent engagement of her ex-boyfriend. Her best friend, Trish (Chelsea Handler) enrolled her in the same online dating website. FDR insists on being Tuck’s backup for the date and hides nearby, but Tuck and Lauren hit it off right away. Shortly thereafter, FDR runs into Lauren at a video store and tries to flirt with her, not knowing she’s Tuck’s date. She surmises that he’s a ladies’ man and ignores him. Intrigued, FDR crashes into one of Lauren’s test groups and persuades her to go on a date with him. FDR and Tuck soon discover that they are seeing the same woman and decide not to tell her that they know each other, not to interfere with each other’s dates and not to have sex with her, letting her instead come to a decision between them.  Tuck takes Lauren on a date to a circus (after hours) where they swing on the trapeze and have a really great date.
Hottie vs. Hottie!
The date with FDR does not go well at the start, with Lauren storming out of the club FDR takes her to. After arguing in the street, FDR walks away from Lauren but seconds later, Lauren sees her ex-boyfriend and his fiancée approaching. Desperate, Lauren grabs FDR and kisses him and lies to her ex that she and FDR are together, as FDR plays along with the ruse. Her ex and his fiancée both seem jealous at the passion displayed, and later move along. FDR demands that Lauren explain what just happened and suggests they grab some dinner at a nearby pizza parlor, where they talk seriously and hit it off. Later, after dating both men a few times Lauren feels guilty about dating them at the same time, but is persuaded by Trish to make the best of the situation. By this time both men have bugged Lauren’s home and cell phone so they can spy on her when she is on dates with the other one, they over hear her tell Trish that she is going to need to have sex with them both to decide which one is the right one. This leads to both men taking steps to ensure she does not sleep with the other one.  After a few more dates Lauren and Trisha discuss the pros & cons of dating more than one guy, especially since Tuck has told Lauren he loves her, Trish tells Lauren “don’t pick the right guy, pick the guy that’ll turn you into a better girl”. After a while, Lauren invites Tuck to lunch, while FDR discovers that Heinrich has arrived in town to exact his revenge. He interrupts Lauren’s date to warn Tuck but Tuck doesn’t believe him. They engage in an extended fight, after which Lauren discovers that they are in fact best friends and, feeling made a fool of, leaves with Trish. At that moment, the women are kidnapped by Heinrich and his men, who are pursued by FDR and Tuck.

FDR and Tuck rescue Lauren and Trish after a car chase, in which they reveal that they are not who they say they are. On Lauren’s advice, they shoot out the headlights on Heinrich’s SUV, deploying the airbags and sending the car rolling out of control towards them all. With Lauren standing directly in the path of the approaching SUV, FDR and Tuck, on different sides of the road, urge her to come to their side and she is saved as she ultimately chooses FDR’s side, while Heinrich dies when his car rolls off the elevated freeway and crashes below. Lauren has decided to be with FDR and Tuck makes amends with him, as they declare their brotherly love for one another, and FDR says they’re “family, and forever.” Lauren and FDR kiss. The car chase is picked up by the news, Katie and Joe see it, Joe tells his Mom that his Dad is not a travel agent. Later Joe is at his karate lesson with Tuck, Katie comes to pick Joe up, Tuck and Katie reintroduce themselves to each other and she invites him out for supper as a family.

Shortly thereafter, FDR and Tuck go on a mission. They are about to parachute out of a Chinook helicopter when FDR reveals that he will marry Lauren, and asks Tuck to be his best man. He reveals that he had sex with Katie before she met Tuck, but no longer feels guilty about it because Tuck had sex with Lauren. Tuck, however, reveals that they did not go all the way and angrily tackles FDR out of the helicopter.

This Means War on paper at least sounded like a complete disaster but manages to be  a completely ridiculous very silly but very funny action comedy. If not intended to be taken seriously then it is a lot of fun with good action scenes.

REVIEW: ALIAS – SEASON 1-5

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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)
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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.

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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.

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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.

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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: MR. AND MRS. SMITH

CAST

Brad Pitt (Killing Them Softly)
Angelina Jolie (Maleficent)
Vince Vaughn (Weddign Crashers)
Adam Brody (The OC)
Kerry Washington (Django Unchained)
Keith David (Pitch Black)
Chris Weitz (American Pie)
Michelle Monaghan (Kiss Kiss bang bang)
Stephanie March (The Invention of Lying)
Jennifer Morrison (Amityville: The Awakening)
Jeff Yagher (V)
Angela Bassett (Green Lantern)
William Fichtner (The Dark Knight)

Mr. and Mrs. Smith, while not flawless, is a feature that works well despite the realization as the credits roll that there’s not a great deal to it. Of course, everyone knows by now that stars Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie are a couple, the mere fact of which has somehow managed to be covered in every single edition of every single tabloid in every single country. The film, from “Bourne Identity” director Doug Liman, stars Pitt and Jolie as Mr. and Mrs. Smith, a suburban couple who lives in a large, beautiful and ultra-modern house on a quiet street. The two met cute and got married, despite keeping a rather large secret from one another – that both are actually assassins who are working for rival organizations.The marriage has obviously cooled over the years, and now discussions over decorations and minor dinner changes are the only thing keeping things from falling into uncomfortable silences. Things get nasty, however, when the two are sent in on the same job – an operative (Adam Brody, from “The O.C.”) and find that their cover has been blown by the person they’d have least expected. From there, Smith turns into a more violent War of the Roses as the two, despite still being together, wage war on each other in their suburban estate.However, when it becomes clear that their bosses want them eliminated, they realize they have to turn to each other. Liman, who brought urgency and tension to even the quietest moments of “The Bourne Identity” manages to handle both the action and dark comedy of “Smith” wonderfully. Pitt, who proved he was a surprisingly sharp comedic talent in “Ocean’s 11” has the same off-beat delivery here, and it works well. More surprising is Jolie, who successfully gives the performance a bit more warmth and dark glee than she has in her roles in the past. Vince Vaughn also steals a few scenes as a co-worker who lives with his mother.Director Liman and writer Simon Kinsberg wisely keep things light for the most part,  and yet don’t go so breezy that the film loses urgency and we lose interest. The two stars also manage to portray their subtle inner feelings for each other well during the film’s few quiet moments. Technically, the film is superb, with well-choreographed action sequences, excellent production design, slick cinematography and a superb sound mix.Overall, Mr. and Mrs. Smith’s mixture of very dark comedy and action certainly walks a fine line, and yet Liman and the two leads have managed to work it out very well.

REVIEW: THE FLASH (1990)

CAST

John Wesley Shipp (Dawsons Creek)
Amanda Pays (The Knife)
Alex Desert (Swingers)
RECURRING / NOTABLE GUEST CAST
Paula Marshall (Veronica Mars)
Michael Nader (All My Children)
Tim Thomerson (Trancers)
Priscilla Pointer (Carrie)
Lycia Naff (Total Recall)
Richard Belzer (Law & Order)
M. Emmet Walsh (Blade Runner)
Vito D’Ambrosio (Arrow)
Biff Manard (Zone Troopers)
Mike Genovese (Point Break)
Sven-Ole throsen (Mallrats)
Joyce Hyser (This Is Spinal Tap)
Dick Miller (Gremlins)
Elizabeth Gracen (Highlander: The Series)
Ian Buchanan (Panic Room)
Jonathan Brandis (Seaquest)
Remy Ryan (Robocop 3)
Adam West (60s Batman)
Mark Dacascos (Crying Freeman)
Ian Abercrombie (Birds of Prey)
Gloria Reuben (Timecop)
Robert Shayne (Adventures of Superman)
Angela Bassett (Green Lantern)
Mark Hamill (Star Wars)
Timothy Stack (My Name is Earl)
Yvette Nipar (Robocop: The Series)
Bryan Cranston (Breaking Bad)
Robert Z’Dar (Maniac Cop)
Robert O’Reilly (Star Trek: DS9)
Richard Burgi (Firefly)
Michael Champion (Toy Soldiers)
Jeffrey Combs (Gotham)
Francois Chau (Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 2)
David Cassidy (Instant Karma)
Carolyn Seymour (Congo)
Claire Stansfield (Xena)
 The series is a mash-up of the Barry Allen and Wally West eras of the comics. The show’s producers, Danny Bilson and Paul De Meo, wisely chose to use the Barry Allen version of the character (played by John Wesley Shipp). This was probably due to the greater story possibilities that Allen’s job as a police forensic scientist could offer. It didn’t matter that Barry had been killed off in the comics five years prior to the show. The character of Dr. Tina McGee (played by the savoury Amanda Pays) comes from the Wally West comics. She is a scientist who helps Barry understand and cope with his new powers of super speed.  The solid performances of the core cast make this show work despite its cartoony conventions. Barry Allen is an easy character to like because we can appreciate and empathize with his underdog-makes-good nature. Barry has always been inferior to his Dad and his overachieving older brother Jay. When he gains his extraordinary powers we can’t help but think that it couldn’t have happened to a more deserving guy.

Also noteworthy is the impish chemistry between Shipp and Pays. Their characters have an intimate, yet platonic relationship that is almost as charming as Pays’ accent. Alex Désert is underused as Barry’s friend and coworker, Julio Mendez. Désert’s easy-going, friendly presence provides a necessary counterpoint to Barry’s no-nonsense ‘get-the-job-done’ attitude. It’s too bad that he didn’t have more to do than set Barry up on blind dates and make wisecracks.

The show was produced in the wake of the massive success of Tim Burton’s 1989 Batman film. The mood and tone of that movie is a huge influence on the first few episodes of The Flash, especially the Pilot episode, “The Origin of a Super Hero.” That episode begins with an establishing shot of Central City that is a blatant copy of the opening scene in Batman where we first see Gotham. We also see the same ‘evil steam’ shooting up from the sewers and citizens scurrying to get indoors, away from all the immoral activity that abounds on the mean streets of Gotham . . .er. . . Central City. Later on, the confrontation between Flash and the bad guy is also an obvious lift from Batman, complete with the “You made me!” line.As the series progresses, it stops trying to ape the manner and feel of Batman and takes on more of a 1940s film-noir motif – only a lot more colourful. The ‘Tim Burton Effect’ still lingers though. One such pastiche, which ironically is not in the Pilot episode, is the use of period props such as 1950s automobiles. Burton can get away with such an aesthetic because his films often take place in an ambiguous timeline where stylistically, anything goes. In The Flash, the out-of-time props are an unnecessary distraction. They’re especially irrelevant during the episode titled “Ghost in the Machine” where The Ghost, a villain from the 1950s, comes out of a deep freeze to again wreak havoc on Central City in 1990. It’s hard to buy into The Ghost’s future shock when people are still wearing trilbies and driving around in Ford Fairlanes.
The show didn’t have great villains but like most genre entertainment, thinking is the real enemy. The Trickster, played by Mark Hamill, is definitely the show’s greatest and most memorable antagonist, even if he is just a check-in-the-box inclusion of a Joker-like homicidal clown. Hamill is great, playing the character as an obsessed, erotomaniacal master-of-disguise while the script, unfortunately, wants him to be a poor man’s Joker. Ironically, he would later go on to recycle his Trickster performance as the voice of the Joker on Batman: The Animated Series. Even Captain Cold works reasonably well within the context of the series, reinvented here as an albino mercenary with an ice gun. Actor Michael Champion plays the role relatively straight and plausible, as if shooting people up with frost is an everyday occurrence. He even gets to deliver the line, ‘The Iceman Cometh,’ six years before Arnold Schwarzenegger would as Mr. Freeze in Batman and Robin.

Michael Nader’s stone-faced overacting as outlaw motorcycle gang leader, Nicholas Pike is way too over-the-top to be taken seriously. Casting soap opera or sitcom actors as villains is always a bad idea. The difference between Hamill and Nader’s performances is that Hamill is trying to be humourous, Nader isn’t. David Cassidy and his widow’s peak are unfortunately a non-presence as Mirror Master in “Done with Mirrors.” He comes off as more of a Bizarro-Keith Partridge than a threatening adversary. One of the highlights of the series is “Fast Forward” where Flash is accidentally propelled 10 years into a bleak future where his powers are unstable. He’s got to find a way to get back to his own time and set things right. Every super hero / sci-fi show has to have its ‘evil parallel universe’ or ‘undesirable future’ story and The Flash is no exception. This episode reminds me of the 1960s Spider-Man cartoon where Spidey would be sucked into some twisted alternate dimension that he would have to fight his way out of. The scene where Flash is “falling” into the psychedelic void is a direct homage to that show. It really is an entertaining story if you can plow through the painful first act of Nader’s scenery chewing and hamming it up.One episode that is way more endearing than it probably has any right to be is “Twin Streaks” where an obligatory mad scientist type tries to clone Flash and ends up creating a sort of Bizarro-Flash in a story that vaguely resembles Bride of Frankenstein. The laughs, intentional or not, are effortless. Bizarro-Flash or Pollux as he’s called, wears a blue Flash costume. It would have been a nice wink-nudge to the fans if they had given him a yellow suit as a reference to Professor Zoom, the Reverse-Flash. Zoom was mentioned in another episode, after all. One of the show’s major clunkers is “Be My Baby” where Barry has to care for an infant that was left on his doorstep. It’s nothing but recycled humour from 3 Men and a Baby and countless sitcoms. This episode reads like an attempt to inject some feel-good, warm fuzzy moments into the show. I actually felt sorry for the then-unknown Bryan Cranston, who had the thankless job of playing the bad guy on this one. If the show’s producers truly wanted to feature more heartwarming stories they could have done an episode or episodes that focused on the heroic endeavors that Flash has performed for the medical community. There was one story from Mike Baron’s run on the comic where Wally West was charged with transporting a human heart across the US to a transplant patient. Story lines such as these could have been an untapped goldmine of drama and suspense as long as they didn’t get too sappy with it. It also would have been a welcome break from the hit-or-miss villain of the week.

Shirley Walker’s score music is tailor made to suit the flavour of each individual episode. “Beat the Clock”, a story about a jazz musician falsely accused of killing his wife, appropriately has a lonely sounding Chicago jazz score while “Watching the Detectives” features music that evokes old private-eye films of the 1940s to compliment that episode’s subject matter. The Flash’s opening theme song is composed by Danny Elfman and sounds like a recycled version of his Batman theme. The Flash is a keen show that had the potential to be much greater than it was. Its adherence to the original source material and the earnest portrayal of the characters by the core cast give the series its irresistible allure. This is essential viewing for comic book and sci-fi fans and it definitely deserves a spot on your DVD shelf.