REVIEW: BATTLESTAR GALACTICA (2004) – SEASON 1

Starring

Edward James Olmos (Blade Runner)
Mary McDonnell (Donnie Darko)
Katee Sackhoff (Riddick)
Jamie Bamber (Marcella)
James Callis (Flashforward)
Tricia Helfer (Powers)
Grace Park (Hawaii Five-0)
Michael Hogan (Red Riding Hood)
Aaron Douglas (Chaos)
Tahmoh Penikett (Dollhouse)
Kandyse McClure (Mother’s Day)
Paul Campbell (Knight Rider)
Alessandro Juliani (Smallville)
Samuel Witwer (Smallville)

Mary McDonnell, Edward James Olmos, Jamie Bamber, James Callis, Aaron Douglas, Michael Hogan, Grace Park, Katee Sackhoff, and Tricia Helfer in Battlestar Galactica (2004)

Recurring / Notable Guest Cast

Nicki Clyne (Saved!)
Donnelly Rhodes (Legends of Tomorrow)
Callum Keith Rennie (Impulse)
Matthew Bennett (Stargate SG.1)
Richard Hatch (InAlienable)
Kate Vernon (Heores)
Lorena Gale (The Exorcism of Emily Rose)
Leah Cairns (Interstellar)
Bodie Olmos (Walkout)
Luciana Carro (Helix)
Alonso Oyarzun (Reindeer Games)
Connor Widdows (X-Men 2)
Brent Stait (Blade: The Series)
Jill Teed (Godzilla)
Tobias Mehler (Disturbing Behavior)
Terry Chen (Jessica Jones)
Dominic Zamprogna (Stargate Universe)
Eric Breker (Stargate SG.1)
Camille Sullivan (Unspeakable)
Robert Wisden (Highlander: The Series)
David Kaye (Beast Wars)
Alex Zahara (Horns)
Patrick Gallagher (Glee)
Malcolm Stewart (Jumanji)
Jen Halley (Red Riding Hood)

Edward James Olmos and Michael Hogan in Battlestar Galactica (2004)When you try to reinvent a popular TV icon one of two things can happen. It will fly, or crash and burn. Back in 2003 the SciFi Channel took a huge gamble and aired a mini-series that took the original Battlestar Galactica concept and turned it on its head. It was a risky undertaking considering how revered the 1978 version is by science fiction fans. Would they accept it? Would this new show find a following? The answer was yes.Jamie Bamber and Richard Hatch in Battlestar Galactica (2004)SciFi’s gamble paid off big time and the new Battlestar Galactica has provided the best ratings numbers that the network has ever seen. It has become an icon for science fiction yet again and the new series stands shoulder to shoulder with other giants in the genre. When it originally aired cult followers of the franchise were critical about the differences between the two (of which there are many), but to the untrained eye there was little to gripe about. The basic concept of the original show, Cylons and Humans fighting against each other in a never ending war, is still intact. You still have the same 12 colonies, same major characters, same Battlestar. Everything else has been overhauled to the nth degree.Edward James Olmos and Jamie Bamber in Battlestar Galactica (2004)In a far distant quadrant of space, the war between Cylons and humans has been over for forty years. Every year, humans send an ambassador to a remote space station to meet with the Cylons and sign a peace treaty, but nobody ever shows up. Then one year they finally appear and begin the eradication of the human species. The twelve colonial home worlds are nuked into oblivion and all that is left of mankind are those that were lucky enough to be somewhere else on a ship. All together, less than 50,000 people.Grace Park and Tahmoh Penikett in Battlestar Galactica (2004)Fortunately for those remaining, the Battlestar Galactica is still functioning and even though it’s archaic, it is up to the task of protecting those who escaped. Led by Commander William Adama (Edward James Olmos) the military takes control of the fleet and begins the necessary steps to ensure the survival of our race. He can’t lead the people alone though so he reluctantly teams up with the new President, Laura Roslin (Mary McDonnell). The two characters are at odds almost immediately and while Adama wants to storm into battle with guns blazing, Roslin, who before her battlefield promotion was the Secretary of Education, would prefer to make a run for it and start having babies.Katee Sackhoff in Battlestar Galactica (2004)The future of mankind is also put in the hands of Galactica’s officers such as the alcoholic Colonel Saul Tigh (Michael Hogan), the tomboyish Lt. Kara Thrace “Starbuck” (Katee Sackhoff) and Commander Adama’s son Lee (Jamie Bamber) who goes by the call sign Apollo. Every character adds something to this show even the treacherous Dr. Gaius Baltar (James Callis) who sees visions of a human/Cylon model Number 6. Fans of the original will also be pleased to know that Richard Hatch (the original Apollo) makes an appearance on the show as a political terrorist known as Tom Zarek.Edward James Olmos and Jamie Bamber in Battlestar Galactica (2004)This ragtag group of survivors teeters on the brink of annihilation throughout the entire season. As if dangers like running out of fuel, death by dehydration, or suicide bombers aren’t enough, the Cylons are never far behind. But throughout the course of this season we do see characters grow closer together and we learn more about their previous lives. There are so many personal conflicts that put everything on the line and you can almost cut the tension with a knife at times. The biggest change in the new Galactica is that the Cylons have “evolved” themselves and now appear completely human. The old “toaster” models are still kicking around (with a slick CGI upgrade) but the human models are the ones pulling all of the strings and carrying out the orders of God. This little change adds huge elements of distrust and paranoia to a show that is already weighed down by overwhelming obstacles.James Callis in Battlestar Galactica (2004)Several minor details in the show have also been tweaked including the forty years of peace to updated weaponry and vehicles. Several character changes have come about as well in SciFi’s new creation. The character of Adama is more militaristic and his relationship with his son Apollo is more than a little rocky. Starbuck and Boomer have gone through sex changes and are now female characters in this new version. Overall many personality traits are true to the original characters but there are quite a few disparities.After undergoing such radical changes, it’s understandable how fans of the original may have been skeptical when the show first started airing. However, it is quite clear this show was careful constructed to appeal to both die hard fans of the original and those looking for a new spin on an old concept. It is important to keep in mind that this version is a reinvention of the classic instead of a continuation. That means that a new audience can get into it without being lost in the mythology. In fact, the only way you will get lost in this new Battlestar Galactica is if you miss an episode or the introductory miniseries. Those of you who have already purchased the miniseries when it was released (like I did) may be a little irritated with the double-dip here, but it’s essential in order to understand what’s going on in the show.James Callis and Tricia Helfer in Battlestar Galactica (2004)It’s very rare in a show that every actor clicks with the material but that is defiantly the case here. The team that was responsible for casting deserves a big pat on the back because they nailed every character perfectly. Of course the real heart and soul of a show comes from the script. That’s another area that Battlestar Galactica has covered thanks to a team of veteran writers. The developer of the show, Ronald Moore (of Trek fame), was responsible for penning the mini-series as well as some of the tenser episodes of the first season. His scripting talent sets up the beginning of the season and closes it on such a high note that it will leave you dying for more.Grace Park and Tahmoh Penikett in Battlestar Galactica (2004)In the case of this show, the visual aspect has a big impact on the overall mood. Everything is cast with stark contrast between light and shadow which keeps the dark tone front and center. Another interesting look comes from the filming technique since the camera is constantly in motion. Angles are slightly skewed and there is a sense of urgency to the picture even during the simplest of conversations. This is undoubtedly one of the more unique looking sci-fi shows around and trust me when I say that’s a good thing.Everything about Battlestar Galactica proves that it is the anti-Star Trek. There is no exploration, first contact or light hearted comedy episodes. Daily problems on board Galactica include finding food, finding power sources, and constantly running from an enemy that outnumbers and out guns them at every turn. Even on Star Trek’s worst day they never had it as bad as the team on Galactica. This is easily one of the darkest science fiction tales I have encountered as nothing seems to go right for our heroes. They are dogged at every turn by the Cylons, are forced to make difficult decisions for the good of their race and treachery threatens to tear the fabric of their very existence. But make no mistake, this is quality television that fans of the original or science fiction in general should definitely not miss out on.

 

REVIEW: STARGATE UNIVERSE – SEASON 2

Starring

Robert Carlyle (One Upon A Time)
Louis Ferreira (Saw IV)
Brian J. Smith (Sense8)
Elyse Levesque (The Originals)
David Blue (Ugly Betty)
Alaina Huffman (Samllville)
Jamil Walker Smith (General Hospital)
Ming-Na Wen (Agents of Sheild)

SGU Stargate Universe (2009)

RECURRING / NOTABLE GUEST CAST

Julie McNiven (Doom Patrol)
Mike Dopud (Arrow)
Caroline Cave (Van Helsing)
Peter Kelamis (50/50)
Julia Benson (The Order)
Jennifer Spence (You Me Her)
Alisen Down (Smallville)
Robert Knepper (Izombie)
Lou Diamond Phillips (Young Guns)
Louise Lombard (CSI)
Jeffrey Bowyer-Chapman (UnREAL)
Reiko Aylesworth (24)
Kyra Zagorsky (See)
Kathleen Munroe (Patriot)
Camille Sullivan (Kingsway)
Michelle Harrison (The Flash)
Vincent Gale (Van Helsing)
Bill Dow (Izombie)
French Stewart (Mom)
Victor Garber (Legends of Tomorrow)
David Hewlett (Rise of TPOTA)
Robert Picardo (The Orville)
Anna Galvin (Tin Man)
Sarah Smyth (Supergirl)

The Stargate franchise has literally run its course, some may feel. While others feel, similar to the “Star Trek” franchise, there are many stories that can still be told.From “Stargate SG-1′ to the animated series “Stargate Infinity” and then “Stargate Atlantis”, here we are with the final season of “Stargate Universe”, a series that met with fans who were split on whether they enjoyed or disliked the series. Unfortunately, for this series which began in 2009, there was no renewal for a third season and thus the second season ended with a cliffhanger, just when the series had made some major changes and had gotten better.SGU Stargate Universe (2009)Should Stargate Universe had a chance to prove itself? Afterall, even the popular syndicated series “Star Trek: The Next Generation” had its haters and also didn’t do well initially in the ratings, but given the chance to make the series better, it became one of the best “Star Trek” spinoff.SGU Stargate Universe (2009)I’m sure that this will be a debate in which these split fans will continue to have varying opinions but the fact is,Alaina Huffman, Jamil Walker Smith, Patrick Gilmore, and Brian J. Smith in SGU Stargate Universe (2009)“Stargate” is over and in April 2011, “Stargate” producer announced that any plans for continuation of “Stargate” have been cancelled and that he had officially packed his desk. 17 years of “Stargate” on television and it looks as if this was the final nail on the popular franchise.ursini1I do dislike when a series never receives its full run and in this case, ending with a cliffhanger but still, the creators and the fans did all they can to keep the series going. But for the fans who stuck with this series from beginning to end. perhaps one day the franchise will be brought back in some shape or form.

REVIEW: DARK ANGEL -SEASON 2

Starring

Jessica Alba (Machete)
Michael Weatherly (Bull)
Valarie Rae Miller (Crank)
J. C. MacKenzie (The Wolf of Wall Street)
Richard Gunn (Hemlock Grove)
Jensen Ackles (Supernatural)
Kevin Durand (Lost)
Ashley Scott (Birds of Prey)
Martin Cummins (Bates Motel)

Jensen Ackles in Dark Angel (2000)

RECURRING / NOTABLE GUEST CAST

John Savage (American Romance)
Nana Visitor (Star Trekk: DS9)
Yee Jee Tso (Antitrust)
Grace Park (Battlestar Galactica)
Nicki Clyne (Saved)
Jesse Moss (The Uninvited)
Colin Cunningham (Elektra)
Craig Veroni (Two For The Money)
Connor Widdows (X-Men 2)
Rob LaBelle (Watchmen)
John DeSantis (Arrow)
Tyler Labine (Rise of The Planet of The Apes)
Byron Mann (Arrow)
Kris Pope (Josie and The Pussycats)
Rekha Sharma (The Core)
Sarah Carter (Smallville)
Todd Stashwick (The Originals)
John Mann (Pathfinder)
Sonya Salomaa (Watchmen)
Patrick Gallagher (Sideways)
Mike Dopud (The Predator)
William Gregory Lee (Xena)
Brian Markinson (Wolf)
Gus Lynch (North Country)
Jesse Hutch (Cedar Cove)
Anita Brown (The A-Team)
Kendall Cross (Paycheck)
Emily Holmes (The Wicker Man)
Michael Bower (Evolution)
Terry Chen (Jessica Jones)
Tiffany Lyndall-Knight (I, Robot)
Fulvio Cecere (Valentine)
Michael Kopsa (Apollo 18)
Meghan Ory (Once Upon A Time)
Eric Breker (Stargate SG.1)
Ty Olsson (Battlestar Galactica)
Peter Williams (Catwoman)
Enuka Okuma (Impulse)
Sarah Strange (Men in Trees)
Jerry Wasserman (Alive)
Sam Witwer (Supergirl)
Camille Sullivan (Kingsway)
Zak Santiago (Shooter)
Tracy Ryan (The Blows)
Callum Keith Rennie (Jessica Jones)
Gabrielle Rose (Sanctuary)
Garwin Sanford (Arrow)
Malcolm Stewart (Jumanji)
Devin Douglas Drewitz (X-Men 2)
Kandyse McClure (Battlestar Galactica)
Jorge Vargas (Power Rangers Ninja Storm)
Henri Lubatti (Zoo)
Rick Worthy (The Vamnpire Diaries)
Erin Karpluk (Being Erica)

Jessica Alba and Kevin Durand in Dark Angel (2000)James Cameron’s and Charles H. Eglee’s Dark Angellasted a short two seasons back in 2000-2002, launching Jessica Alba’s Hollywood career.  Like Buffy the Vampire Slayer, this show had a similarly headstrong, wise-cracking, female superhero at the helm.Jessica Alba and Valarie Rae Miller in Dark Angel (2000)Set in the near future in rainy Seattle, Washington, Max was a bike courier by day and thief by night, struggling to get by in Post-Pulse America.  She burgles the wrong rich guy one evening who recognises her for what she is, an escaped genetically-engineered human from Manticore, a secret training facility that creates kids like Max and raises them to become soldiers and assassins.  With rich guy Logan’s (Michael Weatherly) guidance/nagging, Max grudgingly uses her physical and mental talents to do some good in the world.Did I mention she did it grudgingly? Max is not a smiley, cheerful young woman.  Most of the time she’s got a scowl on her face but deep down she’s got heart, and despite the tough, ‘I don’t care about anyone but myself’ front she puts up, she’s still a normal young woman trying to put the trauma of being raised to be a weapon of destruction  behind her.  The torture and abuse she suffered as a child at the hands of those in Manticore still haunts her. Max was among a dozen children that fled the prison-like institution ten years previously.  She tries to keep a low profile, fearful that her worst nightmare and personal bogey man Lydecker (played chillingly by John Savage) will find her.  She’s also trying to track down her “brothers” and “sisters”, the other kids who fled.  Logan agrees to help her in this quest in exchange for her help with his noble causes.  Logan is “Eyes Only”, an underground journalist and thorn in the side of criminalsJessica Alba and Kevin Durand in Dark Angel (2000)Keeping Max company is her best friend Original Cindy (Valarie Rae Miller), Sketchy (Richard Gunn) an idiot who works alongside her and Normal, the grouchy but actually easy-going boss at the courier company Jam Pony.  Normal frequently shouts ‘bip bip’ at his employees in order to motivate them to do some work.  It rarely works!  Along the way we meet Zach (William Gregory Lee), her “brother” who is totally in love with her and Alec (played by hottie Jensen Ackles from Supernatural), another Manticore soldier.   We can’t forget about Joshua (Kevin Durrand), the dog-man, one of Manticore’s earliest experiments that left many of their people/creatures looking decidedly non-human.  They were confined to the basement in Manticore until Max releases them into the world in season 2 with devastating consequences. Max looks after Joshua and along with Alec, the three of them form somewhat of a weird, dysfunctional but tight-knit family.Logan’s and Max’s relationship continues the will they/won’t they line for the duration of the two seasons.  A lot of fans wanted her to hook up with Alec but it never happened, despite a few lingering looks.  I loved the universe and characters of Dark Angel.  It’s one of my favourite supernatural/sci-fi tv shows of all time, right up there with BuffyRoswell  and The X- Files. The music was great, the characters awesome and the dialogue snappy.  For me, the most intriguing character was Lydecker.  Yes he was a bad guy, but in a creepy way he was also like the father figure of the group.

REVIEW: THE BUTTERFLY EFFECT

The Butterfly Effect (2004)

CAST

Ashton Kutcher (Two and a Half Men)
Amy Smart (Road Trip)
Elden Henson (Daredevil)
William Lee Scott (October Sky)
Jesse James (Jumper)
Cameron Bright (Twilight: New Moon)
Melora Walters (Ed Wood)
Eric Stoltz (Caprica)
Ethan Suplee (My Name Is Earl)
Kevin Durand (Dark Angel)
Callum Keith Rennie (Flashforward)
Lorena Gale (Battlestar Galactica)
Logan Lerman (The Three Musketeers)
Kendall Cross (The 100)
Camille Sullivan (Unspeakable)
Jesse Hutch (Arrow)
Douglas Arthurs (Stargate SG.1)
Magda Apanowicz (Caprica)

Growing up, Evan Treborn and his friends, Lenny and siblings Kayleigh and Tommy Miller, suffered many severe psychological traumas that frequently caused Evan to black out. These traumas include being coerced to take part in child pornography by Kayleigh and Tommy’s father, George Miller (Eric Stoltz), being nearly strangled to death by his institutionalized father, Jason Treborn (Callum Keith Rennie), who is then killed in front of him by guards; accidentally killing a mother and her infant daughter while playing with dynamite with his friends; and seeing his dog being burned alive by Tommy.Seven years later, while entertaining a girl in his dorm room, Evan discovers that when he reads from his adolescent journals, he can travel back in time and redo parts of his past. His time traveling episodes account for the frequent blackouts he experienced as a child, since those are the moments that his adult self occupied his conscious, such as the moment his father strangled him when he realizes that Evan shares his time-traveling affliction. However, there are consequences to his revised choices that dramatically alter his present life. For example, his personal time-line leads to alternative futures in which he finds himself, variously, as a college student in a fraternity, an inmate imprisoned for murdering Tommy, and a double amputee. Eventually, he realizes that, even though his intentions to fix the past are good, his actions have unforeseen consequences, in which either he or at least one of his friends does not benefit. Moreover, the assimilation of dozens of years’ worth of new memories from the alternative timelines causes him brain damage and severe nosebleeds. He ultimately reaches the conclusion that he and his friends might not have good futures as long as he keeps altering the past, and he realizes that he is hurting them rather than helping.Evan travels back one final time to the day he first met Kayleigh as a child. He intentionally upsets her so that she and Tommy will choose to live with their mother, in a different neighborhood, instead of with their father when they divorce. As a result, they aren’t subjected to a destructive upbringing, don’t grow up with Evan, and go on to have happy, successful lives. Evan awakens in a college dorm room, where Lenny is his roommate. As a test, he asks where Kayleigh is, to which Lenny responds “Who’s Kayleigh?”. Knowing that everything is all right this time, Evan burns his journals and videos to avoid altering the timeline ever again.Eight years later in New York City, an adult Evan exits an office building and passes by Kayleigh on the street. Though a brief look of recognition passes over both of their faces, they both decide to keep walking.

Directors’ cut

The director’s cut features a notably different ending. With his brain terribly damaged and aware that he is about to be committed to a psychiatric facility where he will lose access to his time travel ability, Evan makes a desperate attempt to change the timeline by travelling back to his pre-birth self (by viewing a family film of his father’s), where he strangles himself in the womb with his umbilicus so as to prevent the multi-generational curse from continuing, consistent with an added scene where a fortune teller describes Evan to Evan and his mother as “having no lifeline” and “not belonging to this world”. Kayleigh is then seen as a child in the new timeline having chosen to live with her mother instead of her father, and a montage suggests that the lives of the other childhood characters have become loving and less tragic.

Despite mixed reviews prior to seeing this, I thought this film was an absolute gem. The cast were well introduced at the start and you were led thru the film with mysterious gaps which were filled later on, shocking the audience at times. Subject matter was occasionally difficult but this made it all the more believeable in our hero’s responses. Anything that offers a temporal paradox allows the mind to fulfil the ‘whatif’ question. It gets you thinking but this movie was difficult to 2nd guess which in my view makes for a great and unpredictable film

REVIEW: DEAD RISING: ENDGAME

CAST

Jesse Metcalfe (Dallas)
Keegan Connor Tracy (Bates Motel)
Dennis Haysbert (24)
Patrick Sabongui (Power Rangers)
Billy Zane (Zoolander)
Camille Sullivan (The Unseen)
Marie Avgeropoulos (50/50)
Ian Tracey (Sanctuary)
Jessica Harmon (Hollow Man 2)
Victor Webster (Mutant X)
Lee Majdoub (Sonic The Hedgehog)
Peter Kelamis (Stargate Universe)
Ben Cotton (Bates Motel)
Stephen Lobo (Painkiller Jane)

burnt-01The reporter Chase Carter (Jesse Metcalfe) returns to East Mission City to investigate a mysterious building where prisoners are transported to be guinea pig on experiments to find a cure of the zombie infection. He uses a camera to record and transmit the images to the reporter Jill (Jessica Harmon) and to the skilled computer hacker Sandra Lowe (Marie Avgeropoulos) and finds that General Lyons (Dennis Haysbert) in involved in a secret government conspiracy. Carter is found and has to flee from Lyons’s henchmen. However the editor is afraid to broadcast the images since the TV network would certainly be sued by the government. The former executive George Hancock (Ian Tracey) from the pharmaceutical corporation Phenotrans meets Carter and tells that the army is hunting him down. Further, they should go to East Mission City to shut down the servers since Lyons plans to kill 1.5 million-people that have an implanted chip, including Sandra, and stop the cruel scientist Rand (Billy Zane), who uses humans to test his experiments. Will they succeed to stop Lyons’evil plan?
maxresdefaultDead Rising: Endgame is a good sequel to Dead Rising: Watchtower. The non-stop action in the zombie infected city is highly entertaining.

REVIEW: TAKEN (2002)

CAST

Dakota Fanning (War of The Worlds)
Eric Close (American Sniper)
Catherine Dent (Terminator: TSCC)
Joel Gretsch (V)
John Hawkes (Winter’s Bone)
Tine Holmes (Half Nelson)
Steve Burton (Cyber Tracker)
Julie Benz (Angel)
Stacy Grant (Shanghai Noon)
Jason Gray-Stanford (Bones)
Michael Moriarty (Courage Under Fire)
Rob LaBelle (Jack Frost)
Julie Ann Emery (Fargo)
Adam Kaufman (Buffy: The Vampire Slayer)
James McDaniel (Sleepy Hollow)
Ian Tracey (Bates Motel)
Ryan Robbins (Arrow)
Willie Garson (Stargate SG.1)
Ryan Hurst (Bates Motel)
James Kirk (X-Men 2)
Anton Yelchin (Star Trek)
Kevin Durand (X-Men Origins)
Brenda James (Slither)
Chad Morgan (The Purge: Anarchy)
Jonathan Young (Sanctuary)
Ryan Merriman (Final Destination 3)
Brent Stait (Andromeda)
Emily Holmes (The Wicker Man)
Erin Karpluk (Being Erica)
David Paetkau (Flashpoint)
Fulvio Cecere (Valentine)
Jim Byrnes (Highlander: The Series)
Matt Frewer (Watchmen)
Desmond Harrington (Ghost Ship)
Alessandro Juliani (Smallville)
Emily Bergl (Carrie 2)
Britt Irvin (V)
Camille Sullivan (The Birdwatcher)
Ben Cotton (Stargate: Atlantis)
Elle Fanning (Super 8)
Gabrielle Rose (Dark Angel)
Roger Cross (Arrow)
Brian Markinson (Izombie)
Colleen Winton (Van Helsing)
Peter Bryant (Legends of Tomorrow)
Justin Chatwin (Taking Lives)
Gwynyth Walsh (Van Helsing)
Heather Donahue (The Blair Witch Project)
Malcolm Stewart (Jumanji)
Connor Widdows (Battlestar Galactica)
Laurie Murdoch (Spotlight)
Enid-Raye Adams (Good Boys)
Andrew Jackson (Sea Wolf)
Mark Hildreth (V)
Patrick Gallagher (Glee)
Aaron Pearl (Lost In Space)
Nolan Gerard Funk (Truth or Dare)
Kurt Evans (Izombie)
Terry Chen (Jessica Jones)
Frederick Koehler (Death Race)
Sarah-Jane Redmond (Smallville)
Jay Brazeau (Bates Motel)
Matthew Walker (Highlander: The Series)
Devin Douglas Drewitz ( I Love You, Beth Cooper)
Kendall Cross (Caprica)
Bill Marchant (Stargate SG.1)
Eileen Pedde (Juno)
Don Thompson (Watchmen)

From none other than visionary Steven Spielberg comes TAKEN (2002), which I first saw during it’s initial run on the BBC. I admire the scope, ambition, and emotion attached to this entertaining mini series.It starts off in 1944, with Russell Keys, along with his bomber crew, being ‘taken’ by an alien spacecraft during their WWII mission. The crew is experimented on, but Keys is essentially the lone survivor. Keys returns home with PTSD, not due to war, but due to the alien experience. This compels him to leave his wife and child to solve the mystery. Eventually, the aliens take Russell’s teen son Jesse Keys. The aliens obviously see an internal resolve in the Keys’ men that distinguishes them from the rest of the human race.
A second parallel story starts around 1947, and involves the lone survivor of a downed alien spacecraft that manages to take human form as “John” , who seeks refuge on a Texas farm owned by Sally Clarke, a hard-working waitress and single mother of two. John and Sally bond and she is impregnated, leading to a human-alien hybrid Jacob Clarke (superbly played by then-newcomer Anton Yelchin, now known for being the new Chekhov in the re-booted Star Trek franchise).The final parallel story also starts in 1947 in the infamous Roswell, New Mexico, where the local Air Force has found John’s downed ship and his 4 alien compadres who did not survive. Backed by the government, the military takes over the super-secret project, which starts off being briefly led by Colonel Campbell and is soon taken over by his ambitious son-in-law Captain Owen Crawford (brilliantly played by Joel Gretsch), military intelligence officer. Gretsch perfectly essays the role of megalomaniacal Crawford, who runs the project with unapologetic brio. I really felt that Gretsch’s character carried the first few episodes (spanning 1947 to 1962) with strong support from the other actors.
Taken’s first half  storytelling is strong, a perfect balance of science fiction, politics, speculation, and drama. One really buys into the premise that these goings-on could have actually happened. It’s definitely not fiction that many an American have reported UFO sightings and alien experiences over the years, and this miniseries is one of the better attempts at relaying this message to the viewer.
With the second half of the mini series the puzzle pieces finally start to come together to an interesting conclusion. Emily Burgl (as Lisa Clarke) and Andy Kaufman (as Charlie Keys) were commendable as the adult versions of the last respective offspring of the Clarke-Keys clans, the main highlight of the second half was  was the performance of newcomer Dakota Fanning (who plays Allie) whose wonderful narration is a key to the series overall success. She stole the show from all of her adult counterparts. I would definitely recommend the miniseries based on ambition and overall scope and the tightly woven storytellingthe show demonstrates. It’s an epic Sci-Fi story that is intriguing and at times touching. It wasthe series that made Dakota Fanning a star.

REVIEW: ICE SOLDIERS

CAST

Dominic Purcell (Legends of Tomorrow)
Adam Beach (Cowboys and Aliens)
Michael Ironside (Total Recall)
Gabriel Hogan (Wonderfalls)
Camille Sullivan (The Birdwatcher)

MV5BMjEzMjU0MjUzOV5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTgwODk1OTc0MTE@._V1_SX1500_CR0,0,1500,999_AL_In 1962 during the Cuban Missile Crisis a team of Canadian troops in the arctic capture three Soviet soldiers with super human abilities. They are examined but later break free and kill much of the troops stationed in the north. Fifty years later, a team of Canadian scientists discover them buried beneath the Arctic ice. They debate what to do with them but can never reach an agreement. When the soldiers are revived, they again go on a killing spree and kill much of the military and scientist personnel. Malraux walks through the wilderness after them when he stumbles across a Cree aboriginal who agrees to team up and fight these intruders to stop them from reaching south. They succeed in catching up to them and kill them after surviving many atrocities.MV5BMzUxMjcwOTgyOV5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTcwMjM1MDY3MQ@@._V1_I didn’t expect to have such a good time with Ice Soldiers. The plot sounded like a hybrid between The Thing and Frankenstein, and I expected it to be a piece of crap, but it ended up being a very competent B-movie with good direction, solid performances and a good dominion over the suspense. Dominic Purcell makes a credible work in the leading role, expressing his character’s internal turbulence with his body language and his intense looks. The rest of the cast includes some famous faces from the fantastic genre (Michael Ironside, Camille Sullivan) and other ones which are unknown (like the trio of Russian super-soldiers), but they all bring conviction and enthusiasm to their characters. The special effects are sporadic and not very flamboyant; after all, this isn’t a gory film and it didn’t require any spectacular moments… just the tension of the “human hunt” in the frozen Arctic tundra, accentuated by occasional fights and a few explosions to season the recipe. I’m glad to say that that was enough for me to enjoy this amusing movie. On the negative side, the ending is kinda anti-climatic, and there are a few absurd scenes. But, for the rest, I liked Ice Soldiers pretty much, and I think it deserves a recommendation.

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