HALLOWEEN OF HORROR REVIEW: THE GRUDGE

CAST

Sarah Michelle Gellar (Ringer)
Jason Behr (Roswell)
William Mapother (Powers)
Clea DuVall (The Lizzie Borden Chronicles)
KaDee Strickland (American Gangster)
Grace Zabriskie (Armageddon)
Bill Pullman (Independence Day)
Ted Raimi (Ash vs Evil Dead)
Ryo Ishibashi (Blue Tiger)

MV5BMjAyNTM0Njg1NF5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTcwMDE2ODcyMw@@._V1_SX1777_CR0,0,1777,989_AL_The Grudge describes a curse that is born when someone dies in the grip of a powerful rage or extreme sorrow. The curse is an entity created where the person died. Those who encounter this evil supernatural force die; and the curse is reborn repeatedly, passed from victim to victim in an endless, growing chain of horror. The following events are explained in their actual order; the original film is presented in a non-linear narrative.
MV5BMjE1Mzc5ODAzMl5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTcwMjI0ODcyMw@@._V1_SY1000_CR0,0,1404,1000_AL_The Saeki family lived happily in suburban Tokyo, but housewife Kayako Saeki fell in love with her college professor, Peter Kirk, obsessively writing about him in her diary. However, her husband Takeo discovered the diary. Believing Kayako was having an affair, he became mentally disturbed and murdered his wife by pushing her off the stairs, snapping her neck to a 90 degree angle and crushing her throat. He then drowned his young son Toshio – who witnessed the act – in the bathtub to cover his tracks, along with the pet cat, Mar. Takeo hid the bodies in the attic and closet, before Kayako’s ghost murdered him by hanging him with her hair in Toshio’s bedroom. Peter came to the Saeki house to speak to Kayako after receiving a letter from her, only to find her corpse. Shocked, he fled the house, killing himself the next day by falling over the balcony of his building complex in front of his wife. The Saeki family rose again as ghosts due to their rage and sorrow, notably Kayako, who appears as an onryō ghost, leaving the curse on the house.
MV5BMjI2ODc1MjUxNl5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTcwMzA2ODcyMw@@._V1_SY1000_CR0,0,1467,1000_AL_The present timeline starts a few years later with the Williams family moving in from America. While husband Matt is thrilled with the house, his wife Jennifer and dementia-ridden mother Emma feel uncomfortable. Jennifer is quickly consumed by the curse. Matt returns home to find the house trashed, Emma upset, and his wife dying. Matt and Jennifer are killed by Toshio. Yoko, a careworker, arrives at the house the next day to find Emma alone, and encounters Kayako, who attacks her. Concerned about Yoko’s disappearance, her employer Alex sends another careworker, Karen Davis, to take over the care for Emma. At the house, Karen is shocked when she finds a seemingly alive Toshio and Mar in the closet, contacting Alex for help.
MV5BMTQ0MjU5OTA1NV5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTcwNzk0ODcyMw@@._V1_SY1000_CR0,0,1734,1000_AL_Alex finds Emma dead in the house and Karen in a state of shock after her first encounter with Kayako, and summons the police, including Detective Nakagawa. Nakagawa and his partner Igarashi explore the house, finding the bodies of Matt and Jennifer in the attic along with a human’s lower jaw. Matt’s sister Susan disappears after being followed and attacked by Kayako, and Alex is killed when visited by a Kayako-possessed Yoko missing her lower jaw. Karen begins to be haunted by Kayako herself, informing her boyfriend Doug of the situation. She researches the origins of the house, eventually confronting Nakagawa, who explains three of his colleagues investigating the Saeki deaths all were consumed by the curse. That night, Nakagawa goes to the house and tries to burn it down, but is killed by Takeo.
MV5BNTg2MTMyNDg1Ml5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTcwNDI0ODcyMw@@._V1_SX1500_CR0,0,1500,999_AL_
Karen races to the house upon learning Doug has ventured there to look for her, experiencing a vision in which she sees Peter visiting the house and finding Kayako’s corpse. Karen finds Doug paralyzed by fear, and attempts to flee the house with him, only to witness Kayako as she drags herself down the stairs and crawls on Doug, causing him to die of fright. Karen spots the petrol and manages to ignite it with Doug’s lighter just as Kayako is about to kill her. Karen is whisked to a hospital, but learns the house survived the fire. Visiting Doug’s body, Karen realizes she is still haunted by Kayako, who appears behind her as the camera circles to reveal her wide staring eye.MV5BMTY4ODkzNzcxNV5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTcwNzU0ODcyMw@@._V1_SY1000_CR0,0,1235,1000_AL_Ju-On already ranks as one of the scariest movies ever made, and The Grudge is a worthy attempt which has some pluses and minuses over the original. The story is certainly easier to follow and more is explained, although it refuses to be told in a linear fashion. This adds to the uneasiness we feel while watching it, but is less confusing than the previous version.

REVIEW: NEW GIRL – SEASON 5

Starring

Zooey Deschanel (Bridge to Terabithia)
Jake Johnson (Jurrasic World)
Max Greenfield (Veronica Mars)
Lamorne Morris (Game Night)
Hannah Simone (Oldboy)

Zooey Deschanel in New Girl (2011)

RECURRING / NOTABLE GUEST CAST

Anna George (The Lovely Bones)
Rob Riggle (21 Jump Street)
Nelson Franklin (Scott Pilgrim vs The World)
Nasim Pedrad (Scream Queens)
Taran Killam (12 Years A Slave)
Julie Hagerty (Airplane)
Henry Winkler (Happy Days)
John Cho (Sleepy Hollow)
Curtis Armstrong (American Dad)
Tony Amendola (Annabelle Creation)
Fred Armisen (Anchorman)
Kiersey Clemons (Dope)
Ally Maki (Cloak & Dagger)
Megan Fox (Transformers)
Clea DuVall (Better Call Saul)
Elizabeth Berkley (Showgirls)
Peter Gallagher (American Beauty)
Lucy Punch (Bad Teacher)
Gillian Vigman (The Hangover)
David Walton (Bad Moms)
Busy Philipps (Made of Honor)
Sonequa Martin-Green (Star Trek: Discovery)
Kal Penn (House)
Damon Wayans Jr. (Let’s Be Cops)
Nora Dunn (Bones)
Kim Wayans (Pariah)
Meaghan Rath (Being Human)

Zooey Deschanel, Max Greenfield, Hannah Simone, Lamorne Morris, and Jake Johnson in New Girl (2011)The laughs continue as one of television’s wittiest comedies returns for a hilarious fifth season–and it’s landmark 100th episode. Although Jess (Zooey Deschanel) and Nick (Jake Johnson) remain broken up, Schmidt and Cece (Max Greenfield and Hannah Simone) are headed down the aisle. Disaster arrives when the loft becomes an Airbnb, Schmidt’s bachelor party hits the road and Cece’s judgmental mum shows up. Meanwhile, Jess lands a fantastic teaching gig, only to learn her boss is dating her ex and Winston (Lamorne Morris) gets a great new girlfriend – or does he?Zooey Deschanel and Anna George in New Girl (2011)

Episode Highlights Include

Big Mama P

Schmidt and Cece give the honor of best man and maid of honor to Nick and Jess, respectively. Jess plans an elaborate engagement party for the couple, with the intent of surprising Cece with a visit from her mother, Priyanka (Anna George). Nick is given the responsibility of picking up Cece’s mother from the airport, but picks up the wrong woman. After saving a boy’s life from under the weight of a car, Winston becomes tired of being labeled as a hero instead of being known for his pranking side.Zooey Deschanel in New Girl (2011)

 

Jury Duty

Jess is thrilled when she is called for jury duty, but an opportunity to be acting principal presents itself with her now wanting to get out of jury duty. Nick and Cece’s constant bickering about the apartment rules puts Schmidt between them.

No Girl

With Jess sequestered at jury duty, Nick turns the loft into an air b-n-b in order to help pay for Schmidt’s upcoming bachelor party. Meanwhile, Winston asks Cece for help when he suspects KC is cheating on him in the all-new.

Megan Fox in New Girl (2011)

Reagan

A beautiful pharmaceutical rep enters the gang’s life when she agrees to sublet Jess’ room while she is on jury duty.
Megan Fox and Lamorne Morris in New Girl (2011)

Wig

When Nick’s attraction to Reagan starts affecting Schmidt and Cece’s relationship, they enact a plan to demystify her, in hopes of helping Nick get over her. Meanwhile, Winston teaches Reagan the art of the breakup.
Zooey Deschanel and Megan Fox in New Girl (2011)

Goosebumps Walkaway

Jess returns from jury duty and attempts to uncover the real identity of a juror sequestered with her. Meanwhile, Reagan prepares to move out of the loft and out of Nick’s life, and Winston and Cece help Schmidt get over his fear of public dancing.

Zooey Deschanel in New Girl (2011)

D-Day

After Cece receives an exciting new job offer, Jess agrees to help Schmidt with the wedding preparations, but things don’t go as planned when Schmidt’s dad, Gavin, appears. Meanwhile, Winston and Nick get into a competition over whose job is harder.

Zooey Deschanel and Lucy Punch in New Girl (2011)

Sam, Again

Jess applies for a job at a progressive new school, but things take a turn when she finds out the principal is dating her ex-boyfriend, Sam. Meanwhile, Nick gets a cold and Schmidt quarantines the roommates to prevent himself from getting sick before his big presentation.

Zooey Deschanel in New Girl (2011)

300 Feet

When Jess is served a restraining order by her former boyfriend, Sam, she sets out to clear her name with Winston’s help. Nick and Schmidt plot against the owner of a trendy new bar that opened on their street.
Max Greenfield and Jake Johnson in New Girl (2011)

Road Trip

After being emasculated in front of Cece, Schmidt insists on a manly bachelor party weekend in Vegas, but the road trip goes awry when the guys end up at a desert biker bar and he must put his newfound bravado to the test.
Zooey Deschanel in New Girl (2011)

Dress

The wedding is coming up and Jess hasn’t finished Cece’s wedding dress. Schmidt has been ignoring work while doing the wedding planning.
Cece_bride

Landing Gear

Schmidt makes a last ditch effort to convince Cece’s mom to come to their wedding, but in doing so, he might miss the special day himself.
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 Featuring fresh writing, standout performances and popular guest stars Henry Winkler, Julie Hagerty, Fred Armisen and Nasim Pedrad, New Girl is as lovable funny as ever!

REVIEW: BONES – SEASON 5

Starring

Emily Deschanel (Boogeyman)
David Boreanaz (Angel)
Michaela Conlin (Yellowstone)
Tamara Taylor (Lost)
T. J. Thyne (Ghost World)
John Francis Daley (Game Night)

David Boreanaz and Emily Deschanel in Bones (2005)

Recurring / Notable Guest Cast

Cyndi Lauper (Here and There)
Patricia Belcher (Jeepers Creepers)
Michael Grant Terry (Grimm)
Christopher B. Duncan (Veronica Mars)
Michael Arden (Bride Wars)
Riki Lindhome (The Muppets)
Eugene Byrd (Arrow)
Tiffany Hines (Nikita)
Michael B. Jordan (Black Panther)
Kaitlin Doubleday (Empire)
Pej Vahdat (Shameless)
Leonardo Nam (Westworld)
Reggie Austin (Agent Carter)
Billy Gardell (Mike & Molly)
Cheryl White (Major Crimes)
Paula Newsome (Guess Who)
Josie Davis (The Hot Seat)
Amy Gumenick (Arrow)
Carla Gallo (Superbad)
Diedrich Bader (American Housewife)
Andy Umberger (Buffy: TVS)
Tracy Middendorf (Scream: The Series)
Joel David Moore (Avatar)
Stephen Fry (V For Vendetta)
Ryan Cartwright (Alphas)
Dan Castellaneta (The Simpsons)
Debbie Lee Carrington (Total Recall)
Wynn Everett (Agent Carter)
Martin Klebba (Scrubs)
Sarah Rafferty (Suits)
Lindsay Hollister (Get Smart)
Ralph Waite (The Waltons)
Nakia Burrise (Power Rangers Zeo)
Mickey Jones (Total Recall)
Zooey Deschanel (New Girl)
Ryan O’Neal (Love Story)
Dorian Missick (The Cape)
Dale Dickey (Iron Man 3)
Penny Johnson Jerald (The Orville)
Richard T. Jones (Terminator: TSCC)
Brendan Fehr (Roswell)
Dilshad Vadsaria (The Oath)
Fay Masterson (Eyes Wide Shut)
Robert Gant (Supergirl)
Joshua Malina (The Big Bang Theory)
Henri Lubatti (Angel)
Amanda Schull (Pretty Little Liars)
Rusty Schwimmer (Highlander 2)
Clea DuVall (Better Call Saul)
Eric Millegan (Phobic)
Megan Hilty (Smash)
Jenica Bergere (Rat Race)
Victor Webster (Mutant X)
Ben Falcone (New Girl)
Suzy Nakamura (Dead To Me)
Robert Englund (A Nightmare On Elm Street)
Ravil Isyanov (Transformers: Dark of The Moon)
Rena Sofer (Heroes)
Michael Des Barres (Poison Ivy 3)
Kate Vernon (Battlestar Galactica)
William Stanford Davis (A Lot Like Love)
Deirdre Lovejoy (The Blacklist)
Billy Gibbons (Two and a Half Men)

Michaela Conlin, Emily Deschanel, Tamara Taylor, and T.J. Thyne in Bones (2005)At the beginning of the fifth season of the wildly popular forensic drama “Bones,” many viewers tuned in trepidatiously after the spectacularly strange fourth season finale. Thankfully, all fears were allayed and relieved when the fifth season kicked into high gear in the very first episode and maintained that pace throughout the season; “Bones”‘ fifth season is perhaps its greatest yet.David Boreanaz, Emily Deschanel, and Randy Oglesby in Bones (2005)The one thing that has always set “Bones” apart from the countless other procedurals on the airwaves right now is the focus on the characters solving the crimes rather than the crimes themselves, and the strength of this approach shines through brilliantly in every episode of this season.David Boreanaz and Emily Deschanel in Bones (2005)David Boreanaz and Emily Deschanel return to the roles of Booth and Bones and deliver their strongest performances yet as each character is shaken to their core. As Booth struggles to regain his sense of self, he has to confront the knowledge of his feelings for his partner, while Bones herself goes through a whirlwind of emotion as the emotional barriers she has erected around her heart begin to crumble down, leaving her questioning not only herself but her relationship with Booth as well as her work at the Jeffersonian itself. The tension between the two has never been more delicious or more addictive, and both lead actors knock their roles absolutely out of the park.David Boreanaz and Emily Deschanel in Bones (2005)But while the relationship between Booth and Brennan becomes increasingly more complex, the wonderful supporting cast of engaging characters at the Jeffersonian keep the show moving along briskly and lightly. Cam (Tamara Taylor) must run the lab while dealing with the challenge of being a good mother, guiding the team effectively toward each conclusion; Sweets (John Francis Daley) continues to provide invaluable insight into the minds of the team; Angela (Michaela Conlin) remains the emotional heart and soul of the team as she opens her heart to love’s possibilities; and Hodgins (TJ Thyne) struggles with his feelings for Angela as he returns to his abrasive, loveable self.David Boreanaz, Dan Castellaneta, and Emily Deschanel in Bones (2005)The cases themselves have regained a fascinating light as the mysteries the team confronts become more complex, and the special effects department has outdone themselves in the gore and goop department this year as Booth and Bones investigate some of the most gruesome crime scenes in history, all moved along by the brisk black humor the show excels at; the team investigates a possible secret agent locked in a truck for days, a would-be rocker torn to pieces by an industrial washer/dryer, a gamer literally melted in a vat of fast-food grease, and a dozen more cheerfully disgusting cases where the outcomes of the mysteries hold the power to shock and surprise the audience; the writers have once again caught the perfect balance between the whodunnit and the drama to craft a truly unique show.David Boreanaz and Ralph Waite in Bones (2005)But it’s not merely the cases that hold the viewers’ attention this season; season five is full of true powerhouse episodes: heartbreaking cases like “The Plain in the Prodigy”; darkly comical shows like “The Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood”; truly shocking mysteries like “The Proof in the Pudding,”; and even a historically fascinating case written by the author of the original Temperance Brennan novels Kathy Reichs herself (“The Witch in the Wardrobe”) — however, all of these merely lead up to the three knockout moments of the season:David Boreanaz and Emily Deschanel in Bones (2005)In the fifth season, “Bones” reaches its 100th episode, “The Parts in the Sum of the Whole.” Likely the most beloved and most contested episode in the show’s history, the 100th episode completely redefined Booth and Brennan’s relationship as it showed the viewers the pair’s first meeting, something never before revealed, and circles around to one of the most hearbreaking and yet most powerfully hopeful moments of the series. “Parts” was also directed by David Boreanaz, one of the series’ leads, and the sheer emotion wrung out of Boreanaz and Deschanel by the end speaks volumes to the talent of the show’s leads.David Boreanaz and Emily Deschanel in Bones (2005)As the series continues, however, the characters were shocked to their cores as they were forced to come face-to-face with their most terrifying adversary yet: the cunningly frightening sociopath dubbed The Gravedigger, in “The Boy with the Answer,” a nail-bitingly tense hour of television that had viewers’ hearts pounding as Heather Taffet, the Gravedigger, proved that her true arena was the courtroom, tearing apart her victims and throwing the entire future of Brennan’s life into question.David Boreanaz and Emily Deschanel in Bones (2005)This only segues into the season’s amazingly dramatic finale, “The Beginning in the End.” As the team investigates the home of a hoarder, Bones questions what she truly wants to do with her life, Booth’s past comes calling, and Angela’s father blows back into town, all leading to a truly shocking season ender, a masterful finale that not only redefined the very foundations of the show and the characters but also continued to set the show on a rising point, ensuring that every faithful viewer of “Bones” will be frantically waiting for the sixth season to premiere in the fall.

REVIEW: HEROES – SEASON 1

Starring

Milo Ventimiglia (Gotham)
Hayden Panettiere (Nashville)
Jack Coleman (Spawn)
Tawny Cypress (Brooklyn’s Finest)
Leonard Roberts (Smallville)
Santiago Cabrera (Transformers: The Last Knight)
Masi Oka (The Meg)
Greg Grunberg (Alias)
Adrian Pasdar (Supergirl)
Noah Gray-Cabey (Code Black)
Ali Larter (Final Destination)
Sendhil Ramamurthy (Beauty and The Beast)

Hayden Panettiere in Chapter One 'Genesis' (2006)

RECURRING / NOTABLE GUEST CAST

Ashley Crow (The Secret Circle)
Thomas Dekker (Terminator: TSCC)
James Kyson (Sleepy Hollow)
John Prosky (True Blood)
Richard Roundtree (Shaft)
Clea DuVall (Argo)
Nora Zehetner (Brick)
Cristine Rose (How I Met Your Mother)
Stacy Haiduk (Superboy)
Matt Lanter (Disaster Movie)
Danielle Savre (Boogeyman 2)
Deirdre Quinn (Miss Congeniality)
Adair Tishler (Dollhouse)
Maurice LaMarche (Futurama)
Tina Lifford (New Jack City)
Elizabeth Lackey (Planet of The Apes)
Eugene Byrd (Bones)
Jimmy Jean-Louis (Monster-In-Law)
Riki Lindhome (The Lego Batman Movie)
Erick Avari (Stargate)
Randall Bentley (Upside)
Archie Kao (Power Rangers Lost Galaxy)
Nicole Bilderback (Bring it On)
Matthew John Armstrong (Bones)
Rick Peters (Dexter)
Rena Sofer (Traffic)
Jayma Mays (The Smurfs)
Sakina Jaffrey (The Equalizer 2)
Zachary Quinto (Star Trek)
Tiffany Hines (Bones)
Graham Beckel (L.A. Confidential)
John Ross Bowie (The Big Bang Theory)
Christopher Eccleston (Thor: The Dark World)
Brad Greenquist (Ali)
George Takei (Star Trek: TOS)
Jessalyn Gilsig (Nip/Tuck)
Monica Louwerens (Power Rangers Lightspeed Rescue)
Bill Fagerbakke (How I Met Your Mother)
Rusty Schwimmer (The Perfect Storm)
Stana Katic (Castle)
Stan Lee (Avengers Assemble)
Missi Pyle (Gone Girl)
Missy Peregrym (Van Helsing)
Eric Roberts (The Finder)
Malcolm McDowell (Star Trek: Generations)
Kellan Lutz (Twilight)
Sterling Beaumon (Powers)
Ellen Greene (Little Shop of Horrors)
Jack Guzman (Power Rangers Wild Force)

Tawny Cypress and Santiago Cabrera in Chapter One 'Genesis' (2006) Set on present day Earth, the show details how a growing number of people are developing special abilities outside of government control with a variety of consequences to them and the population at large. Unlike the truncated second season, the first had a full 23 episodes to explore the concept, resulting in a number of smaller, multi-episode arcs that all built toward a bigger picture as the season progressed. Unlike the old style of comic books though, the cast is made up of all sorts of regular people that start to notice they are “special”, some of whom learn to increase their abilities with concentration or training, stumbling at times but honing said powers in numerous ways.Masi Oka in Heroes (2006)In overall terms, the story uses the Human Genome Project as something of a starting point, using scientist Mohinder Suresh (Sendhil Ramamurthy) as a focal point for identifying gifted people as he follows a trail set forth by his father, a formerly distinguished geneticist that chased what were considered crazy ideas about human evolution until he was killed. Mohinder discovers that certain trace markers in human DNA predict people with abilities and having observed firsthand exactly how gifted some of these people are, he ends up trying to warn them of a serial killer named Sylar (Zachary Quinto) and what appears to be secret agents out to capture them. Needless to say, his efforts are not universally appreciated and he himself is cast into the mix as a pawn, forced to face both powered and mundane humans out to stop him. The show also uses a dozen or so other main characters that either have powers or interact heavily with them, many seemingly patterned after specific comic book characters in terms of abilities, though not so much in terms of their personalities.Greg Grunberg in Heroes (2006)Take Hiro Nakamura (Masi Oka) for example, he can bend the space time continuum if he concentrates hard enough, the Japanese office worker slaving away at his father’s corporation while dreaming of his special destiny. The guy is a stereotypical science fiction/comic book nerd too, wanting more than anything to become a hero rather than follow the path laid out for him by his father Kaito (George Takei of Star Trek fame). His hit or miss attempts to control his powers provide some of the comic relief of the show but he also serves as someone genre fans can identify with as he tries to uncover his own future with the help of his best friend, the mundane Ando Masahashi (James Kyson Lee).Hayden Panettiere in Heroes (2006)Then there was Claire Bennet (Hayden Panettiere), a gal with Wolverine-like healing powers who figures out she will regenerate no matter what happens to her, the gal finding out her adopted father Noah (Jack Coleman) is working for an agency with special plans for anyone with her kind of talents. The Texas high school cheerleader becomes an integral part of the main picture as she is stalked by Sylar, a man with the ability to take special powers by decapitating those he encounters, their showdown predicted long before by Isacc Mendez (Santiago Cabrera), a precognitive that draws the future while under the influence of heroin.Masi Oka and James Kyson in Heroes (2006)The cast also included internet stripper Niki Sanders (hotty Ali Larter) whose multiple personality disorder grants her alias Jessica super strength, Nathan Petrelli (Adrian Pasdar) a district attorney running for Congress that can fly, his brother Peter (Milo Ventimiglia) that finds out his ability is especially powerful as time moves forward, Matt Parkman (Greg Grunberg) a street cop that can read minds, and DL Hawkins (Leonard Roberts) who can become intangible at will. Some of them try to keep their secret, like Nathan since he is running for office, while others are on the run from the agency searching such folks out (their point man being Noah with the aid of a Haitian that can negate powers and erase minds played by Jimmy Jean Louis), the conspiracy something straight out of shows like The X-Files, Jericho, or Angel. The interactions of the cast make the show quite special too, capturing the spirit of modern comic books better than anything else I have seen to date.Adrian Pasdar and Rena Sofer in Heroes (2006)Particularly appealing is the manner in which most of the powers are not overly flashy, the dramatic elements allowed to keep the science fiction elements present but downplayed so that a larger audience won’t be alienated. Some of the episodes were gaudier than others in this respect but the exploration of human nature made this a wonderful show to appreciate, the sheer number of extras requiring me to take a lot longer to review this one but the quality of extras was such that I can see why so many fans found this show (in previous releases) to be such a winner, making it a high end Highly Recommended or better, reports of the second season being somewhat less inspiring but still interesting to me now that I’ve gotten a taste for the show. Also, fans of comic books and science fiction will likely find the great many references to other works interesting to find, things such as character names, addresses, license plates, or other minutia standing out to the dedicated few willing to pay stricter attention.Heroes Season 1 may not have tread completely new territory in terms of vast conspiracies (the manner in which Micah manipulated the election seemed to come straight out of the Gore camp), super powered humans, or the way in which human nature deals so readily with conflict but it was the kind of comic book for TV that I have been waiting for all my life and despite a few writing quirks in this first season, it was most entertaining with the kind of replay value few TV-on-DVD sets provide these days. It dealt with numerous situations that non-fans could appreciate too (rape, alienation, “being different”, and the balance between individual rights versus those of the public being only a few to speak of) and left the show open enough for following seasons to take the characters in all new directions. The use of a formulaic process in the episodes was proven to not impact the quality of the show too, my initial concern about the time travel arcs being a series of “do overs” covered well before the finale showed a healthy respect for making our own destiny instead of a predestined outcome as originally implied.

REVIEW: IDENTITY

CAST
John Cusack (2012)
Ray Liotta (Hannibal)
Amanda Peet (The Ex)
John Hawkes (Winters Bone)
Alfred Molina (Spider-Man 2)
Clea DuVall (The Lizzie Broden Chronicles)
John C. McGinley (Highlander 2)
Jake Busey (Fast Sofa)
Pruitt Taylor Vince (Heroes Reborn)
Rebecca De Mornay (Jessica Jones)
Carmen Argenziano (Stargate SG.1)
William Lee Scott (October Sky)
Jake Busey (Starship Troopers)
Marshall Bell (Total Recall)
Leila Kenzle (Mad About You)
Matt Letscher (Legends of Tomorrow)
Holmes Osborne (Donnie Darko)
A convict introduced as “Malcolm Rivers”—who was abandoned as a child at a motel by his prostitute mother—awaits execution for several vicious murders that took place at an apartment building. Malcolm’s psychiatrist, Dr. Mallick, has discovered his journal that may explain why he committed the murders. With this late evidence brought forth, a new hearing takes place.
Meanwhile, ten strangers find themselves stranded in the middle of a torrential rainstorm at a remote Nevada motel, run by Larry Washington. The group consists of an ex-cop, now limousine driver, Ed Dakota; Caroline Suzanne, an actress popular in the 1980s; Officer Rhodes, who is transporting serial killer Robert Maine; Paris Nevada, a prostitute; newlyweds Lou and Ginny Isiana; and the York family, George and Alice, and mute 9-year-old son Timmy. The Yorks are in crisis because Alice has been struck by Ed’s car. With both ends of the road completely flooded, the group prepares to spend the night. However, they quickly find there is an unknown murderer present, killing off each of the guests. Caroline is the first to be killed. Ed, finding her severed head in a clothes dryer, thinks Maine killed her. When they check the convict, they discover he has escaped.
All the others become worried, and Ginny flees in terror to her room. Her husband Lou chases after her but is also murdered. Maine runs through the hills, only to be dumbfounded when he finds himself back at the motel. He enters the diner, where Ed and Rhodes jump and beat him into unconsciousness, putting Larry on guard duty. However, Maine is later found dead. Paris discovers a dead body in Larry’s freezer, which is revealed to be the real hotel manager. Larry attempts to escape in his truck, claiming he did not kill anybody; he accidentally runs over George, killing him.
Each body is accompanied by a numbered room key, the order of which suggests a countdown. The survivors tie Larry up, and as he tells them his story the others start to believe he really did not kill anyone. Subsequently, Alice is discovered to have died from her injuries. Ginny and Timmy die when their car blows up, but their bodies are nowhere to be found. The remaining four discover that all the bodies have disappeared and that all ten share the same birthday; Ed realizes that all ten names are linked to US states (Caroline being the Carolinas, Lou Isiana being Louisiana, etc.). Paris discovers that Rhodes is actually a convict as well; he killed the corrections officer transporting him and Maine cross state and assumed the cop’s identity. Rhodes attempts to kill Paris, but she is saved by Larry, who hits Rhodes with a fire extinguisher, only to be shot and killed by him.
Back at the hearing, the contents of Malcolm’s journal are revealed, indicating Malcolm suffers from an extreme case of dissociative identity disorder, harboring ten distinct personalities. Mallick is able to bring forth one of Malcolm’s personalities: Ed – all of the events happening at the motel are concurrently occurring inside Malcolm’s mind, and each one of Malcolm’s personalities is represented by one person at the motel. Mallick explains to “Ed” that the events at the motel are a result of treatment Malcolm is receiving: the killings at the motel are Malcolm’s mental attempts to eliminate his nine excess personalities. Mallick further gives “Ed” the mission of making sure that the hostile personality (i.e., the one responsible for Malcolm’s committing the crimes for which he is being tried) is eliminated to prevent Malcolm from being executed.
Back in the motel setting, Ed believes Rhodes is the murderer, and the two shoot each other to death, leaving only Paris alive. When Mallick demonstrates that the homicidal personality is dead, the Judge decides to place Malcolm in a mental institution under Mallick’s care. In the final scene, Malcolm is driven in a van, along with Mallick to the institution. In Malcolm’s mind, Paris has driven away from the motel to her hometown in Frostproof, Florida. As she tends an orange grove, she discovers the room 1 motel key, and finds Timmy behind her. Timmy, the true homicidal personality, had orchestrated all the deaths at the motel, and made it appear that he had been killed as well; he finishes his task by killing Paris. Now driven only by Timmy, Malcolm strangles Mallick and then attacks the orderlies and the van driver, forcing the van off the side of the road.
The plot is designed to keep you guessing, as each plot twist throws up another series of questions and seemingly inexplicable situations. What is the relevance of the court case? How come keys are found by each body as the death toll mounts? Who is innocent and who is guilty? Here is a thriller that not only buckles the formula, but almost completely demolishes it. Each actor does a superb job of maintaining the suspense.

REVIEW: ARGO

 CAST

Ben Affleck (Batman V Superman)
Bryan Cranston (Godzilla)
Alan Arkin (Get Smart)
John Goodman (10 Cloverfield lane)
Victor Garber (Legends of Tomorrow)
Tate Donovan (Shooter)
Clea DuVall (The Lizzie Borden Chronicles)
Scoot McNairy (Monsters)
Kerry Bishe (Red State)
Kyle Chandler (Super 8)
Zeljko Ivanek (Heroes)
Chris Messina (Devil)
Titus Welliver (Lost)
Keith Szarabajka (The Dark Knight)
Bob Gunton (Dardevil TV)
Richard Kind (Gotham)
Karina Logue (Bates Motel)
John Boyd (Bones)
Michael Parks (Django Unchained)
Adrienne Barbeau (Swamp Thing)
Tom Lenk (Buffy)
Nelson Franklin (New Girl)
Lindsey Ginter (S.W.A.T.)
Rory Cochrane (Empire Records)
Matthew Glave (The Wedding Singer)
Michael Cassidy (Batman V Superman)
Barry Livingston (The Social Network)
Michael Chieffo (Roswell)
Taylor Schilling (The Lucky One)
Philip Baker Hall (Hard Eight)

hqdefaultAfter Iranian militants stormed and took control of the U.S. Embassy in Tehran in November 1979 taking 56 Americans as hostages, six Americans managed to get away and took refuge in the home of the Canadian Ambassador. After two months of the Canadians putting their lives on the line everyday, the CIA and the US State Department try to come up with a plan to get their people out.Ben Affleck in Argo (2012)Tony Mendez is a specialist who proposes that they pose as a Canadian film crew scouting locations for a science fiction movie called Argo. Using Hollywood connections, Mendez creates a back story for the movie – ads in Variety, casting calls, inviting he media to a production launch – and then heads off to Iran to lead the six Americans out. When I first heard this film was being made, I had no education on the history of the movie, all I knew is that is was a true story based on something political in the middle east, with a really strange title.Affleck once again proves just how good of an actor her is in Hollywood and the way he mixes comedy with intense drama is wonderful. Some scenes are just genius, like the scene where there is a rehearsal, and the captives are treated to a pseudo execution, and then Affleck showing us that both sides can put on a show.Arkin And Goodman are the brilliant comic relief, and whenever they are on screen, the tension is ever so slightly lifted and relief sets in, apart from one scene involving a phone. Affleck, considering he is the director, is really restraint in this movie, and plays it down, whilst the rest of the cast go for it, and it’s to his credit, as it shows that his character has a lot riding on this. It never lets up on tension, even when the six are enjoying their final meal, there is a sense that the door could be broken down at any second.The final third is genuinely edge of your seat stuff. All in all, it’s a wonderful movie, a perfect antidote to some of the dross movies that get dumped on us around the time of year, and really worthy of your attention

REVIEW: THE FACULTY

 

CAST

Jordana Brewster (Chuck)
Clea DuVall (The Lizzie Bordan Chronicles)
Laura Harris (Dead Like Me)
Josh Hartnett (Lucky Number Sleven)
Shawn Hatosy (Alpha Dog)
Salma Hayek (Ugly Betty)
Famke Janssen (X-Men)
Piper Laurie (Carrie)
Christopher McDonald (Fanboys)
Bebe Neuwirth (Jumanji)
Robert Patrick (Terminator 2)
Usher (She’s All that)
Jon Stewart (Jay & Silent Bob Strike Back)
Elijah Wood (Lord of The Rings)
Jon Abrahams (Scary Movie)
Summer Phoenix (The Believer)
Danny Masterson (That 70s Show)
Eric Jungmann (Not Another Teen Movie)

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Herrington High School, just your everyday place of learning. That is until the teachers start behaving strangely. It seems there is an alien plot to take over world and only a rag-tag group of students can save us. The film has rightly been tagged as a cross between Invasion Of The Body Snatchers and any teen led Highschool movie. This is intentional, something that’s apparent as our intrepid students discuss Snatchers amongst other movie references, and one of them, Stokely {Clea Duval}, is a sci-fi aficionado . As things progress it’s also evident that the makers here are movie fans making a movie for movie fans, all be it one aimed solely at the teenage demographic. There’s much satire around and cliché’s are widely embraced, but again it works because there is no hidden agenda. There’s gore and hugely effective scenes involving blood, slugs, heads and an eyeball, whilst slasher fans are catered for in a couple of, if seemingly pointless as regards the alien’s intentions, memorable scenes.

The youngsters in the cast, all playing total stereotypes, all do what is required, with Josh Hartnett, Duval & Elijah Wood particularly shining. But it’s with the adult actors that The Faculty really gains its tongue in cheek momentum. Robert Patrick, Famke Jansen, Salma Hayek, Piper Laurie, Bebe Neuwirth and even Jon Stewart all file in for a bit of alien parasitical fun.

Come the end of the mania, with the staple alien queen reveal and showdown, there’s the overriding feeling that the film could have been so much more. Certainly it’s guilty of being a touch too derivative, a little focus lost in the self referential and knowing in-jokery genre winks. But it’s a groovy ride is this one, not in the least bit serious.