REVIEW: SEVEN POUNDS

 

CAST

Will Smith (Suicide Squad)
Rosario Dawson (Sin City)
Michael Ealy (Flashforward)
Barry Pepper (Battlefield Earth)
Octavia Spencer (Insurgent)
Woody Harrelson (The Hunger Games)
Bill Smitrovich (Ted)
Amanda Carlin (Liar Liar)
Audrey Wasilewski (Red)
Charlene Amoia (How I Met Your Mother)
Kevin Cooney (Legally Blonde)

Tim Thomas (Will Smith), while carelessly sending a text message while driving, veers across the center line into oncoming traffic and causes a multi-car crash in which seven people die: six strangers and his fiancée, Sarah Jenson (Robinne Lee).Two years later, in a bid for atonement, Tim sets out to save the lives of seven good people by donating his own vital organs, a process that will be completed after his planned suicide. A year after the crash, having quit his job as an aeronautical engineer, Tim donates a lung lobe to his brother Ben (Michael Ealy), an IRS field agent. Tim then steals his brother’s federal IRS identification badge and credentials, puts his picture over Ben’s, identifies himself by his brother’s name, and uses Ben’s privileges to check out the financial backgrounds of further potential candidates for his donations. In each case he “interviews” them first to determine if they are good people.In one case, the director of a hospice nursing home facility, who had an unsuccessful bone marrow transplant, seeks a six-month extension on his back taxes. Tim, now going by his brother’s name, is unsure of the man’s ethics, because he claims to be insolvent, yet drives a new BMW. To resolve the issue, “Ben” passionately asks a resident patient, an elderly bedridden woman, to tell him whether he is a “good man”, only to discover that the man is punishing the woman for refusing to take a new medication by not allowing the nurses to bathe her. Six months later, “Ben” donates part of his liver to a Child Protective Services social worker named Holly (Judyann Elder). He then finds George (Bill Smitrovich), a junior hockey coach and donates a kidney to him. He then donates bone marrow to a young boy named Nicholas (Quintin Kelley), opting to have no anesthesia during the procedure, an evident consequence of his desire for atonement. In each case he does not tell the people what his intentions are for his donations, despite being repeatedly asked.Two weeks before he dies, he contacts Holly and asks if she knows anyone “in the system” who needs and deserves help but is too proud to ask for it. Holly suggests Connie Tepos (Elpidia Carrillo), who lives with her two kids and an abusive boyfriend, but can’t afford to leave. When “Ben” arrives to “interview” her under the guise of dealing with the IRS, Connie is embarrassed and humiliated that he knows what’s been going on. She defends her boyfriend, is offended by “Ben”‘s suggestion that she should leave with her kids, and kicks him out of her house. In the meantime, “Ben” moves out of his house and into a local motel, taking with him his pet box jellyfish—decidedly the most venomous creature on earth, with its sting causing death in three to five minutes. That night, after being beaten by her boyfriend again, Connie contacts “Ben”. He meets her, tells her not to be weak, and gives her the keys and directions to his beach house. She takes her two children and they move into the house. Then she reads a letter from “Ben” which includes the deed to the house, again giving no explanation, and asking for her to (1) respect his wishes, (2) not try to contact him, (3) not tell anyone how she got the house, and (4) “live life abundantly”.

“Ben”‘s sixth candidate is Ezra Turner (Woody Harrelson), a blind telemarketer for a meat company, who plays the piano. “Ben” calls Ezra and harassed him at work weeks earlier, to see if he was quick to anger; when Ezra remains calm and humble through the abuse, “Ben” decides he is worthy. “Ben” then contacts Emily Posa (Rosario Dawson), a wedding announcement/greeting card printer who has a congenital heart condition and rare blood type that has left her with only weeks to live. “Ben” “interviews” her at her home, again under the guise of an IRS investigation, and more or less stalks her at the hospital. But then he starts to spend time with her, walking her Great Dane called Duke, weeding her garden, and fixing her rare Heidelberg Windmill press. He visibly fights his affections for her, again seeking atonement for the death of his fiancée, but he slowly falls in love with her.At one point, while comforting Emily (who’s in the hospital after an emergency), he tells her the ‘tale of a young boy named Tim, who wanted to fly and became a space engineer.’ Emily recognizes this is an actual story of his childhood and suggested the boy was named Ben, but “Ben” corrects her by sheer reflex, telling her that the boy is called Tim… obviously himself. Tim’s brother, the real Ben, finally tracks “Tim-Ben” down at Emily’s house, saying that he must return his IRS credentials. After a passionate sexual interlude with Emily, and with Ben waiting outside her house, Tim disappears out the back door, leaving her sleeping. He returns on foot to the motel, first stopping by the hospital to ask the doctor if there is any chance that Emily will improve. Discovering that she will likely die before a donated organ becomes available, he decides “it’s time”.Tim then fills the motel bathtub with ice water to preserve his vital organs, calls 9-1-1 emergency and reports his own suicide, climbs into the tub, and releases his box jellyfish into the water with him. The jellyfish wraps its tentacles around his arm, causing a quick but excruciatingly painful death. At the hospital, his best childhood friend Dan (Barry Pepper) acts as executor of Tim’s living will to ensure that his organs are donated to Emily and Ezra. Ezra receives Tim’s corneas, which cure his blindness, and Emily receives his heart. Afterward, Ben finds letters from Tim that he is to give to each person explaining why he did what he did. This leaves Emily heartbroken. Emily finds Ezra (now a school teacher) at his kid’s choir concert at a park and stops him as he passes by. Having never met before, Emily is fixated on Ezra’s eyes, knowing they belonged to Tim. Emily begins to break down, which clues Ezra in to who she is. When he says, “You must be Emily,” she breaks into tears and they share a heartfelt embrace out of mutual love and respect for Tim.An excellent film. Brilliant acting from all. And, yes, Smith truly shines in this role.

 

REVIEW: IRON MAN (2008)

 

CAST

Robert Downey Jr. (Sherlock Holmes)
Terrence Howard (The Brave One)
Jeff Bridges (R.I.P.D)
Gwyneth Paltrow (Contagion)
Leslie Bibb (The Skulls)
Shaun Toub (Lois & Clark0
Faran Tahir (Supergirl TV)
Clark Gregg (When A Stranger Calls)
Bill Smitrovich (Ted)
Paul Bettany (Legion)
Jon Favreau (Daredevil)
Tim Guinee (Blade)
Stan Lee (Avengers Assemble)
Samuel L. Jackson (XXX)
Nazanin Boniadi (How I Met Your Mother)
America Olivo (Bitch Slap)

MV5BMTUzODkyNDE2OV5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTcwMzEzNTIzMw@@._V1_SX1777_CR0,0,1777,999_AL_Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr.) isn’t just an industrialist or one of the most brilliant minds on the planet: he’s practically a rock star. C’mon, when was the last time you saw a billionaire weapons manufacturer on the cover of “Rolling Stone”? Following in his late father’s footsteps and mentored by Stark Industries CEO Obadiah Stane (Jeff Bridges), Tony keeps the world safe for democracy — and rakes in eight figure paychecks and a parade of “Maxim” cover girls in the process — by engineering the most efficiently destructive arsenal that the U.S. military has ever had at its fingertips.During a trip to Afghanistan to show off the latest and greatest missile technology that Stark Industries has on the table, Tony’s convoy is attacked by an underground group of soldiers using his own weapons against him. Despite being on the brink of death from the shrapnel embedded deep in his heart and kept alive only by a jury-rigged electromagnet in his chest, Tony is ordered by his captors to recreate the Jericho missile. Tony’s brilliant mind immediately starts spinning — not to build a missile but to create a suit of armor that’ll carve through the waves of heavily-armed thugs and get him and his newfound friend Dr. Yinsen (Shaun Toub) far out of harm’s way. Fueled by months of bottled-up rage and the miniature arc reactor that keeps the shards of shrapnel from skewering his heart, Tony does manage to escape in his armor, and the devastation he’s seen his own weapons wrought makes him vow to leave that life of arms manufacturing behind.Stane nods his head when Tony drops that bombshell in a press conference, asking the weaponeering wunderkind to lay low for a few months while he smooths things over with the company’s board of directors. Tony uses that time to rebuild and refine his armor technology, assembling a more efficient arc reactor and learning to fly with boot-jets and flight stabilizing gauntlets. He’s not setting out to build a weapon, but when Tony learns that his company’s hardware is being sold under the table to butcher untold thousands of innocent people, he slips on his newly-crafted armor to destroy every last trace of that arsenal. This attracts the unwanted attention of the U.S. military — including Tony’s old friend Jim Rhodes (Terrence Howard) — as well as what’s left of his captors in Afghanistan, who start piecing back together the scraps of the ramshackle suit that Tony used to escape.Robert Downey Jr. is the most inspired casting choice for a superhero flick since Christopher Reeve back in the Superman days. Even before the camera pans over to Downey’s face for the first time — when all we see is a hand holding a glass of scotch, with chunks of ice clinking around as a Humvee bounds up and down a barren stretch of Afghan desert — he is Tony Stark. The smirking charm, that swaggering confidence, a brilliance that he tends to keep restrained until he’s off by himself…Downey’s so perfect in Iron Man that it’s hard to believe the script wasn’t written with him expressly in mind. One of the hallmarks of a truly great superhero story is if it’s still compelling when the character isn’t in the suit, and that’s certainly the case here.Still building it for most of the movie — but some of Iron Man’s best moments are when he’s working out the kinks in the hardware. Tony’s inventiveness and half-bungled experiments in refining the tech in the Mark I armor score some pretty enormous laughs while also bringing out that wide-eyed sense of wonder I had reading comics growing up. As for the supporting cast, Gwyneth Paltrow — looking more drop-dead gorgeous than she ever has on-screen — captures the dogged loyalty of Tony’s right-hand, Pepper Potts, while infusing her with a charming sort of awkward energy.MV5BMTMwOTIwMTk2Nl5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTcwNDEzNTIzMw@@._V1_SX1777_CR0,0,1777,999_AL_Iron Man is and always will be one of my all time favorite movies.

REVIEW: BATMAN BEYOND – SEASON 1

Main Cast

Will Friedle (Batman Ninja)
Kevin Conroy (Batman: TAS)
Cree Summer (Bambi II)
Frank Welker (Transformers)

Terry_and_Bruce

Recurring / Notable Guest Cast

Teri Garr (After Hours)
Michael Gross (Tremors)
Sherman Howard (Sueprboy)
George Takei (Star Trek)
Ryan O’Donohue (Toy Story)
Lauren Tom (Bad Santa)
Seth Green (Family Guy)
Sam McMurray (Raising Arizona)
CCH Pounder (Avatar)
Clyde Kusatsu (Midway)
Corey Burton (Critters)
Shannon Kenny (7th Heaven)
Stockard Channing (Grease)
Mari Devon (Digimon)
Kevin Michael Richardson (The Cleveland Show)
Melissa Disney (Superman vs The Elite)
Bill Smitrovich (Ted)
Gregg Berger (Transformers)
Pauley Perrette (NCIS)
Linda Hamilton (The Terminator)
Michael Ansara (The Message)
Tress MacNeille (Futurama)
Robert Davi (The Goonies)
Kevin Dunn (Transformers)
Jeff Bennett (Enchanted)
Chris Mulkey (Cloverfield)
Olivia d’Abo (Conan The Destroyer)
George Lazenby (Gettysburg)
Amanda Donohoe (Liar Liar)
Brian George (The Big Bang Theory)
Peter Jason (They Live)
Ian Ziering (Sharknado)
Larry Drake (Darkman)
Jon Cypher (Masters of The Universe)
Vernee Watson (The Kid)
Dorian Harewood (Terminator: TSCC)
William H. Macy (Shameless)
Kimmy Robertson (Speed 2)
Barry Dennen (The Dark Crystal)
Victor Raider-Wexler (Minority Report)
Paul Winfield (The Terminator)
Miguel Sandoval (Medium)
Cary Elwes (Saw)

MV5BZTIyYjQ5OWQtNjVjNC00ZGY2LWI4NmItNjRiOTZlMzA1NWJmXkEyXkFqcGdeQXVyMzExODYzNzc@._V1_SY1000_CR0,0,1333,1000_AL_Fifty years after Batman: The Animated Series came to a close, Gotham City is without a protector. Failing health and a chilling act of desperation prompted Bruce Wayne to give up Batman’s cape and cowl, and the corporation that had stayed in his family for generations has been wrest from him by a corporate raider named Derek Powers. Never married and abandoned by his sidekicks, the elderly, embittered Wayne lurks inside a sprawling mansion that seems more like a mausoleum than the stately manor of old. Derek Powers is using the remnants of WayneCorp to illegally manufacture an endlessly destructive but extremely profitable nerve gas, a secret that Wayne/Powers employee Warren McGinnis stumbles upon and pays for with his life.DziRsC4XQAEU01AHis troubled son Terry blames himself for the murder, but a chance encounter with Bruce Wayne results in the theft of a Batman suit brimming with cutting-edge technology and the revelation of the man truly responsible for his father’s death. By the time the two-part episode “Rebirth” is over, Bruce Wayne has agreed to guide Terry as the new Batman, and an irradiated Derek Powers is a walking fusion reactor.batman-beyondBatman: The Animated Series, Superman, and Justice League all drew heavily from the established mythos, but Batman Beyond is a largely original creation. Sure, there are quite a few nods to the original series — it’s still set in Gotham City, Barbara Gordon has taken the mantle of police commissioner, and there are winks to fans like the Grey Ghost costume in the Batcave.MV5BMjI4Nzg0NTQ4OV5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTgwNzY5OTQ1MjE@._V1_Terry McGinnis is a very different lead character than Bruce Wayne was in Batman: The Animated Series. In the previous series, it seemed more as if Batman was who this man really was and Bruce Wayne was just an occasionally convenient mask for him to wear. Terry is seen out of costume much more frequently than Bruce ever was and feels like more of a fleshed-out character. He has friends, he has family, and he has a life outside of the pointy-eared hood. Gotham City is still teeming with bad guys, but even though Batman has been transplanted to the future, he’s not squaring off against Joker II or The Riddler Redux. The rogue’s gallery of this futuristic Batman doesn’t lift much from the previous animated series or even from the comics. The only familiar faces are Mr. Freeze, The Royal Flush Gang, and, briefly and unrecognizably, Bane. The other villains are original creations with some striking character designs, such as the amorphous corporate saboteur Inque, sound-engineer-with-a-power-suit Shriek, and the hypnotic Spellbound. This season also doesn’t rehash the same villains over and over again, with Inque being the only baddie other than Derek Powers’ Blight to strike more than once.MV5BMTQ0ODcyNjYwOF5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTgwOTU5OTQ1MjE@._V1_Several of the supervillains aren’t costumed-threats-of-the-week, but ordinary people in extraordinary situations: Willie Watt in “Golem” is a nerdy high schooler who seizes control of a two-story-tall construction robot to exact revenge on the bullies who torment him, and “The Winning Edge” is about high school athletes using steroids yet deftly avoids playing like ‘a very special episode of Batman Beyond’. One thing Batman’s adversaries, costumed and plainclothes alike, have in common is their origins. Nearly all of the villains in Batman Beyond are born of tragedy or greed, and that gives these episodes more of a resonance than something like The Joker pumping Gotham City with laughing gas for no reason in particular.AscensionAnother stand-out is “Shriek”, pitting Batman against an enemy whose technology enables him to manipulate sound. One of the most inventive sequences in the entire run of the series is set in a car factory where Batman starts setting off every piece of equipment in arm’s reach as a distraction. Shriek uses his technology to block out the noise and isolate Batman’s movements, resulting in an almost entirely silent battle with no dialogue, few sound effects, and a sparse, subtle score.126915This first season of Batman Beyond is remarkably consistent, offering perhaps the strongest debut of any DC animated series to date.

REVIEW: TWO AND A HALF MEN – SEASON 12

Starring

Ashton Kutcher (The Ranch)
Jon Cryer (Supergirl)
Conchata Ferrell (Krampus)
Amber Tamblyn (Girlfriend’s Day)
Marin Hinkle (Jumanji: Welcome To The Jungle)
Edan Alexander (Irreplaceable You)
Holland Taylor (D.E.B.S.)

Recurring / Notable Guest Cast

Kris Iyer (Buffy: TVS)
Michael Bolton (Teen Titans Go To The Movies)
Mimi Rogers (Ginger Snaps)
Courtney Thorne-Smith (Melrose Place)
Maggie Lawson (Santa Clarita Diet)
Ryan Stiles (Hot Shots)
D.B. Sweeney (Ice)
Clark Duke (Kick-Ass)
Alessandra Torresani (Caprica)
Melanie Lynskey (Heavenly Creatures)
Richard Riehle (Office Space)
Deanna Russo (Burning Love)
David Denman (Power Rangers)
Bill Smitrovich (Ted)
Gary Anthony Williams (Batman: The Dark Knight Returns)
Vernee Watson (The Big Bang Theory)
Judy Greer (Jurassic World)
Angus T. Jones (Bringing Down The Hous)
April Bowlbry (Doom PAtrol)
Missi Pyle (Gone Girl)
Arnold Schwarzenegger (The Terminator)
John Stamos (Full House)
Jennifer Taylor (Shameless)
Christian Slater (True Romance)
Sophie Winkleman (Chronicles of Narnia)
Emmanuelle Vaugier (Human Target)

Jon Cryer and Ashton Kutcher in Two and a Half Men (2003)Walden has a near-death experience, which causes him to take a good, long look at his life. Realizing his life has amounted to a whole lot of nothing so far, he tells Alan that he would like to adopt a child in order to add some meaning to his life. Walden soon discovers that it is next to impossible to adopt a child as a single dad, so he proposes to his roommate and long-time friend, Alan, and the two pose as a gay couple and ultimately adopt Louis. Of course, it wouldn’t be a season of Two and a Half Men if our guys didn’t behave badly, so it’s not long before Walden and Alan are scrambling to keep their secret while figuring out how to have some manly fun with the women in their lives!Ashton Kutcher in Two and a Half Men (2003)The Season story is mostly about the adoption of Louis, its a nice heartfelt story of two men trying t oraise an adoptive child, whilst trying to hide the fact they are both straight. When we get to the last few episodes we see both men in happy relationships, but the main event is obviously the last episode which features great guest stars such as Arnold Schwarzenegger, Christian Slater, and a whole host of returning cast members including, Jake. after 12 season the show still surprises and the final episode is a worth while conclusion to a show that has been on the air for 12 years.

REVIEW: INDEPENDENCE DAY

CAST

Will Smith (Suicide Squad)
Bill Pullman (The Grudge)
Jeff Goldblum (Jurassic Park)
Mary McDonnell (Battlestar Galactica)
Judd Hirsch (Tower Heist)
Robert Loggia (Psycho II)
Randy Quaid (Kingpin)
Margaret Colin (Gotham)
James Rebhorn (Meet The Parents)
Vivica A. Fox (Idle Hands)
Harvey Fierstein (Kull The Conqueror)
Adam Baldwin (Firefly)
Brent Spiner (Star Trek: TNG)
James Duval (Gone In 60 Seconds)
Lisa Jakub (Mrs. Doubtfire)
Giuseppe Andrews (Cabin Fever)
Mae Whitman (Boogeyman 2)
Bill Smitrovich (Iron Man)
Kiersten Warren (13 Going on 30)
Harry Connick Jr. (The Iron Giant)
Frank Welker (Transformers)
Erick Avari (Stargate)
Leland Orser (Daredevil)
Devon Gummersall (Roswell)
Raphael Sbarge (Risky Business)
Bobby Hosea (Xena)
Jay Acovone (Stargate SG.1)
Thom Barry (Cold Case)
Robert Pine (Red Eye)
Derek Webster (Stargate)
Rance Howard (Nebraska)
Kevin Cooney (Legally Blonde)
Jim Piddock (Mascots)
Tracey Walter (Batman)

On July 2, 1996, an enormous alien mothership that has one fourth the mass of the Moon enters orbit around Earth, deploying 36 smaller spacecraft, each 15 miles (24 km) wide, that take positions over some of Earth’s major cities and military bases. David Levinson, an MIT-trained satellite technician, decodes a signal embedded in the global satellite transmissions that he determines is a timer counting down to a coordinated attack. With the help of his former wife, White House Communications Director Constance Spano, Levinson, and his father Julius, gain access to the Oval Office and warn President Thomas J. Whitmore that the aliens are hostile. Whitmore orders large-scale evacuations of New York City, Los Angeles, and Washington D.C., but it is too late; the timer reaches zero and the ships activate devastating directed-energy weapons, killing millions. Whitmore, the Levinsons, and a few others, narrowly escape aboard Air Force One as the capital is destroyed, along with other locations over which the ships are positioned.On July 3, international military leaders begin ordering individual counterattacks. Their aviation forces attack destroyer ships positioned above the ruins of the cities, but they are protected by force fields. Each destroyer launches a swarm of attack fighters, which wipe out the human fighter squadrons. Captain Steven Hiller, a pilot with the Marine Corps squadron VMFA-314 based out of Marine Corps Air Station El Toro, survives by luring his attacker to the enclosed spaces of the Grand Canyon and sacrificing his plane, forcing the alien to crash-land. He subdues the injured alien pilot and flags down a convoy of refugees, hitching a ride with former combat pilot Russell Casse. They transport the unconscious alien to nearby Area 51 where Whitmore’s group has landed. Through Secretary of Defense Albert Nimzicki, they learn that a faction of the government has been involved in a UFO conspiracy since 1947, when one of the invaders’ attack fighters crashed in Roswell. Area 51 houses the refurbished alien fighter and three alien corpses recovered from the crash.When eccentric scientist Brackish Okun examines the alien captured by Hiller, it regains consciousness and attacks. It telepathically invades Okun’s mind and uses his vocal cords to communicate with Whitmore before launching a psychic attack against him. Whitmore sees visions of the alien’s plans: their entire civilization travels from planet to planet, exterminating all indigenous life and harvesting the planet of all natural resources. After Secret Service agents and military personnel kill the alien, Whitmore reluctantly authorizes a nuclear attack; a B-2 Spirit fires a nuclear cruise missile at an alien destroyer positioned above Houston, but the ship remains intact.On July 4, Levinson demonstrates that the key to defeating the aliens lies in deactivating their force fields, and devises a way to do so by uploading a computer virus into the mothership. He proposes using the refurbished alien fighter to implement the plan, which Hiller volunteers to pilot. The two are able to implant the virus and deploy a nuclear weapon on board the mothership. With military pilots in short supply, Whitmore enlists the help of volunteers with flight experience, including Casse, and leads an attack on a destroyer ship bearing down on Area 51. With the alien’s shields deactivated, the fighters are able to inflict damage but their supply of missiles is quickly exhausted. As the destroyer prepares to fire on the base, the last missile, equipped on Casse’s plane, jams, and Casse decides to sacrifice his own life. He flies his plane kamikaze-style into the directed-energy weapon port, which results in an explosion that destroys the ship. Human resistance forces around the world successfully destroy the other craft using this vulnerability. As humankind is rejoicing in victory, Hiller and Levinson return to Area 51 unharmed and reunite with their families. They and military officers nearby accompany Whitmore and his daughter in watching the wreckage from the mothership burn up, resembling a fireworks display as it enters Earth’s atmosphere.Independence Day is arguably one of the greatest SF disaster movies of all time. With REM’s ‘It’s the end of the world’ sampled near the beginning of the movie, you definitely know that Roland Emmerich’s view about alien encounters is more akin to War of the Worlds than E.T. Filled with stunning special effects, stirring music, unpretentious sentimentality and laced with good natured humour there is no need to bemoan the lack of character development or obvious narrative coincidences. There is no pretence at being a great cinematic masterpiece examining deep philosophical themes. This is a two hour long, ludicrously enjoyable, preposterously pompous, unbelievably incredible ‘backs against the wall’ slice of SF fantasy which still entertains after numerous viewings.

REVIEW: FANTASTIC FOUR (1994): THE COMPLETE SERIES

CAST
Beau Weaver (Transformers)
Lori Alan (Family Guy)
Chuck McCann (Ducktales)
Brian Austin Green (Anger Management)
Quinton Flynn (Digimon)
Neil Ross (Being John Malkovich)
Tony Jay (Lois & Clark)
Stan Lee (Avengers Assemble)
Ron Perlman (Hellboy)
Robin Sachs (Buffy)
John Rhys-Davies (Lord of The Rings)
Mark Hamill (Star Wars)
Michael Dorn (Ted 2)
Jane Carr (Star Trek: Enterprise)
Edward Albert (Power Rangers Time Force)
John Vernon (Batman: TAS)
Simon Templeman (The Neighbours)
Brad Garrett (The Crazy Ones)
Richard Grieco (21 Jump Street)
Clyde Kusatsu (Bird on a Wire)
Kerrigan Mahan (Mighty Morphin Power Rangers)
Alan Oppenheimer (He-Man)
Gary Owens (That 70s Shows)
Bill Smitrovich (Ted)
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Launched in 1994 as part of Marvel’s Action Hour in the USA (alongside Iron Man), this then new cartoon attempted to bring Marvel’s First Family  to the attention of a new generation. The main US comic book of the time included a free ‘animation cel’ with #394 to promote the series and later a spin off comic book of the cartoon was launched. In its first season, the show is disappointing. Reduced to a crude sitcom, the show is creaky, toe curling and cheesy beyond belief.  Worst of all, Sue Richards is reduced to mere ‘damsel in distress’ for the entirety of the season, functioning only as a simpering wife and mother to the men on the team. Compared to the superior Batman: The Animated Series of the time and even Marvel’s other cartoons of the period Spider-man, X-Men and Iron Man, its not hard to feel disappointed with the translation of the Fantastic Four to the small screen.

Thankfully, the approach of Season One , with its comedy landlord and irksome stereotypes don’t seemed to have found favour with audiences either and the show was given a serious overhaul for Season Two. The improvement in storytelling is immense and does a much better job of servicing the characters and situations they find thermselves in. The theme tune and accompanying score are still pretty naff though, all synthesized fanfares and flat sounding parps.
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The Inhumans three parter is my favourite, giving all its key characters a chance to shine and the romance between Johnny Storm and Crystal is nicely done, There’s also some neat guest appearances for The Avengers, Black Panther and even Ego – The Living Planet. As with all of Clear Vision’s Marvel releases, the set is attractively packaged with some nice artwork by Simon Williams and the picture is pin sharp and vibrant. The sound is superb as well, being dolby 5.1 stereo. There’s nothing in the way of any extras though, just the usual language and episode selections.

REVIEW: MANHUNTER

 

CAST

William Petersen (CSI)
Kim Greist (Brazil)
Tom Noonan (Robocop 2)
Dennis Farina (Romeo is Bleeding)
Brian Cox (X-Men 2)
Joan Allen (Pleasantville)
Stephen Lang (Avatar)
Frankie Faison (Luke Cage)
Chris Elliott (Scary Movie 2)
Bill Smitrovich (Ted 1 & 2)
Marshall Bell (Total Recall)

Thomas Harris’ extremely popular “Hannibal Lector” character has appeared in 80% of the author’s novels and five separate feature-length films. Most would find Lector synonymous with 1991’s landmark The Silence of the Lambs, in which Anthony Hopkins turned the soft-spoken cannibal into a cultural icon. The character’s subsequent film appearances are all more exaggerated than the last, so it makes sense that 1986’s Manhunter shows Hannibal at his most…normal? It also serves as director Michael Mann’s third film, but it flopped at the box office and still stands in the shadow of its more popular young brother. Based on Harris’ second novel Red Dragon (and remade in 2002 by Brett Ratner), Manhunter deserved a bigger audience then and still deserves a bigger one today.

Part thriller, part character study and part horror film, this tale of FBI profile expert Will Graham (William Petersen) often crackles with suspense. Having retired to his peaceful family life due to exhaustion, Graham is approached by his former boss Jack Crawford (Dennis Farina) after an unknown killer’s quiet rampage has already left two families dead. Hannibal isn’t the culprit, of course: he’s safely behind bars due to Graham’s tireless efforts with the FBI, but he might be personally linked to the killer at large. Fearing another series of murders may be only weeks away, the intensely dedicated Graham decides to pursue the case, using his behavioral knowledge to carve away at the killer’s unknown location.

As in Silence of the Lambs, the character of Hannibal Lector (here spelled “Lecktor”, and portrayed by Brian Cox) only pops up occasionally to offer twisted guidance, but his presence looms heavily over the entire film. Silence’s menacing Buffalo Bill is one-upped, though, by the more sympathetic, layered and quietly intimidating Francis Dollarhyde (Tom Noonan), a lab worker whose dark personal life fuels violent impulses. Working on a lunar cycle, Dollarhyde’s third slaughter grows closer as Graham and Crawford attempt to track him down. Manhunter’s approach to Dollarhyde is extremely effective: the film’s almost half-over before we even catch a glimpse of him, and the slow reveal works wonderfully.Tom Noonan and William Petersen in Manhunter (1986)Manhunter is arguably the least-known of the “Hannibal Lector” films…and that’s a shame, because it’s easily second best behind Silence of the Lambs. Michael Mann’s solid direction anchors this cat-and-mouse thriller quite well.