REVIEW: ALIEN VS PREDATOR

CAST

Sanaa Lathan (Blade)
Lance Henriksen (The Terminator)
Raoul Bova (The Tourist)
Ewen Bremner (Black Hawk Down)
Colin Salmon (Resident Evil)
Tommy Flanagan (Sin City)
Joseph Rye (V For Vendetta)
Agathe de La Boulaye (Highlander: The Raven)
Carsten Norgaard (The Man In The High Castle)
Sam Troughton (Hex)
Ian Whyte (Game of Thrones)
Tom Woodruff Jr. (Severed Road)

In 2004, a satellite detects a mysterious heat bloom beneath Bouvetøya, an island about one thousand miles off the coast of Antarctica. Wealthy industrialist Charles Bishop Weyland (Lance Henriksen) discovers through thermal imaging that there is a pyramid buried 2000 feet beneath the ice. He attempts to claim it for his multinational communications company, Weyland Industries, a subsidiary of the Weyland Corporation, and assembles a team of experts to investigate. The team includes archaeologists, linguistic experts, drillers, mercenaries, and a guide named Alexa Woods (Sanaa Lathan).As a Predator ship reaches Earth’s orbit, it fires a beam that creates a passage through the ice towards the source of the heat bloom. When the team arrives at the abandoned whaling station above the heat source, they find the passage and descend beneath the ice. They locate the mysterious pyramid and begin to explore it, finding evidence of a prehistoric civilization and what appears to be a sacrificial chamber filled with human skeletons with ruptured rib cages.Meanwhile, three Predators consisting of Scar, Celtic and Chopper arrive and kill all the humans on the surface. They make their way down to the pyramid and arrive just as the team unwittingly activates the structure. The Alien Queen awakes from cryogenic stasis and begins to produce eggs. When the eggs hatch, several facehuggers attach themselves to humans trapped in the sacrificial chamber. Chestbursters emerge from the humans and quickly grow into adult Aliens. Conflict erupts between the Predators, Aliens, and humans, resulting in several deaths. Celtic and Chopper are killed by an Alien, and Weyland buys Alexa and Italian archaeologist Sebastian De Rosa (Raoul Bova) enough time to escape from Scar, giving his life in the process. The two witness Scar kill a facehugger and an Alien with a shuriken before unmasking and marking himself with the blood of the facehugger. After Alexa and Sebastian leave, another facehugger attaches itself to Scar due to him not wearing his mask.Through translation of the pyramid’s hieroglyphs, Alexa and Sebastian learn that the Predators have been visiting Earth for thousands of years. It was they who taught early human civilizations how to build pyramids, and were worshiped as gods. Every 100 years they visited Earth to take part in a rite of passage by which several humans sacrifice themselves as hosts for the Aliens, creating the “ultimate prey” for the Predators to hunt while being able to survive in the pyramid without being killed; if overwhelmed, the Predators would activate a self-destruct device to eliminate the Aliens and themselves. The two deduce that this is why the current Predators are at the pyramid, and that the heat bloom was to attract humans for the sole purpose of making new Aliens to hunt.Alexa and Sebastian decide that the Predators must be allowed to succeed in their hunt so that the Aliens “do not reach the surface”. Then Sebastian is captured by an Alien, leaving only Alexa and Scar to fight the Aliens. The two form an alliance and use a self-destruct device to destroy the pyramid and the remaining Aliens. Alexa and Scar reach the surface, where they battle the Alien Queen. They defeat the Queen by attaching its chain to a water tower and pushing her over a cliff, dragging the Queen to the ocean floor. Scar, however, is impaled through the torso by the Alien Queen’s tail and succumbs to his wounds and dies. A Predator ship uncloaks and several Predators appear. They retrieve their fallen comrade and an elite Predator presents Alexa with one of their spear weapons in recognition of her skill as a warrior symbolized by the alien blood Scar burned on her cheek before he died. As the Predators retreat into space, a chestburster with a hybrid form of an Alien and a Predator erupts from Scar’s chest.Alien vs Predator was not overdone, which is the main point to its success to deliver a great movie, that involves crossover characters. It is a well done movie in which fans of both franchise have something to enjoy.

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REVIEW: LIMITLESS: THE SERIES

MAIN CAST

Jake McDorman (American Sniper)
Jennifer Carpenter (The Exorcism of Emily Rose)
Hill Harper (The Skulls)
Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio (The Abyss)

RECURRING / NOTABLE GUEST CAST

Bradley Coooper (The Hangover)
Ron Rifkin (Alias)
Blair Brown (Dogville)
Megan Guinan (Gossip Girl)
Tom Degnan (As The World Turns)
Michael James Shaw (Constantine)
Colin Salmon (Arrow)
Desmond Harrington (Wrong Turn)
Georgina Haig (Crawl)
Daniel Eric Gold (Ugly Betty)
Sam Robards (A.I.)
Patch Darragh (The Path)
Mark Noonan (The Deuce)
Analeigh Tipton (Lucy)
James McDaniel (Sleepoy Hollow)
Michelle Veintimilla (Gotham)
Michael Devine (Inside Man)
Wolé Parks (The Vampire Diaries)
Marc Blucas (Buffy: The Vampire Slayer)
Simone Bailly (The L Word)
Tate Donovan (Shooter)
Julie Lauren (Rabbit Hole)
Jacob Pitts (The Pacific)
Christina Vidal (Freaky Friday)

Brian Finch (McDorman), a 28-year-old burnout and struggling musician, is introduced to NZT-48, a miracle drug that gives him access to every neuron in his brain. For twelve hours after taking the pill, he becomes the smartest person in the world, able to perfectly recall every detail of his life and capable of prodigious leaps of intuition and reasoning. With the mysterious US Senator Eddie Morra (Cooper) providing him with an immunity shot to counteract NZT’s deadly side effects, Brian uses his enhanced abilities to help F.B.I. agent Rebecca Harris (Carpenter). The FBI doesn’t know about the shot and Brian has to keep both worlds separate.Limitless was fleshed into an exciting new TV series after the launch of the successful film with the same title. The film starred Bradley Cooper who also features in this TV series and follows on from events of the film.Limitless had a very interesting premise, very promising storyline and as far as creativity goes it gets top marks in that field. It was great to see a regular Joe stumble upon the powerful drug that enhances every brain cell. This made for great viewing and a character we could relate to. The story arc with Bradley Cooper and his agenda that tied into Brian’s existence was its strongest story lever.Despite its promise and potential Limitless certainly had its issues. After viewers were swept away with Brian’s abilities we saw him employed with the FBI and then episodes took on an all too familiar routine almost like Criminal Minds or CSI even. Perhaps what hurt the show most was the lack of seriousness and blurred lines. Brian should have had a tough and no nonsense relationship with the FBI rather than be too familiar. Bradley Cooper’s story should have featured with more intensity and appeared more rather than routine cases. Still this show was great considering its flaws and I enjoyed watching this show. It was a great shame it was cancelled after 1 season and I wish another network had picked it up.

 

 

REVIEW: RESIDENT EVIL: RETRIBUTION

CAST

Milla Jovovich (The Three Musketeers)
Sienna Guillory (Eragon)
Michelle Rodriguez (Machete)
Aryana Engineer (Orphan)
Shawn Roberts (A Little Bit Zombie)
Li Bingbing (Transformers: Age of Extinction)
Johann Urb (A Little Bit of Heaven)
Boris Kodjoe (Starship Troopers 3)
Oded Fehr (The Mummy)
Kevin Durand (Devil’s Knot)
Colin Salmon (Arrow)
Megan Charpentier (The Shack)

Alice and the others on the Umbrella Corporation freighter Arcadia face an attack by a fleet of tiltrotors led by Alice’s former ally, Jill Valentine. Alice is captured in the attack, while the fates of Chris Redfield, Claire Redfield and K-Mart are left ambiguous.Alice awakens in an underground facility and is interrogated by Jill. During a power failure, Alice escapes her cell and the laser grid, finding herself in a simulated Shibuya Square, Tokyo. Fighting her way out against zombies, she enters a control room and encounters Ada Wong, one of Albert Wesker’s top agents. Ada explains that they no longer serve Umbrella and the power outage was staged by Wesker hacking into the facility’s computers. Wesker appears on a screen, revealing that the Red Queen now controls Umbrella. Ada explains that the facility is underwater, located in Kamchatka, Russia, that served as a former Soviet naval outpost. The facility was designed by Umbrella in manufacturing clones and created simulated outbreaks to show the effect of the T-virus. Ada and Alice plan to rendezvous with a rescue crew, which includes Leon Kennedy, Barry Burton, and Luther West, Alice’s ally who survived after the outbreak in Los Angeles. Leon’s team plants explosives near the entrance of the facility, which will detonate in two hours to ensure the facility’s destruction. The group plans to meet with Alice and Ada in the Raccoon City suburbia area. In a New York City simulation, Alice and Ada defeat two Axemen. Leon and his team enter a Moscow simulation, but are attacked by armed Las Plagas Undead.In the Suburban setting, Alice and Ada encounter Becky, the deaf daughter of another Alice clone who mistakes the real Alice for her mother. They also encounter clones of Alice’s former compatriots, the One, Rain Ocampo and Carlos Olivera, who are sent to capture them. Ada gives Alice her smart glasses so that she and Becky can find their way and become split up. They encounter another clone of Rain, who was a friend of Becky’s mother and Alice gives her a weapon. She then rescues Leon’s surviving crew from the barrage of zombies and a giant Licker. Once united, the heroes head for the facility exit but are assaulted by the clones and Becky is captured by the Licker. Alice rescues her, using Leon’s bombs, kills the Licker and allows the heroes to escape; the good Rain clone and Barry are killed during the battle.On the surface, their snow-mobile is knocked over by Jill Valentine’s submarine. Jill and Rain confront the heroes with Ada as their hostage. Jill and Alice begin fighting each other, while Rain – now also enhanced with Las Plagas, granting her superhuman power and healing, fights Leon and Luther. Rain knocks out Leon and kills Luther. Alice is able to tear the mind-controlling scarab from Jill’s chest, returning her to her normal self. Realizing that they can’t kill Rain, Alice shoots the ice under Rain’s feet and she is dragged down by the swimming zombies from the undersea installation and killed. Alice, Ada, Becky, Leon, and Jill travel to Wesker’s headquarters, the heavily barricaded and fortified White House, staffed by STARS and the U.S. military. Alice meets Wesker in the heavily-barricaded Oval Office, where he injects her with the T-virus, returning her superhuman abilities; as only Alice successfully bonded with it, she is the ultimate weapon. On the roof, Wesker explains the Red Queen is trying to wipe out humanity, and all of the remaining uninfected are in the base; it is humanity’s last stand. A pull-away shows the military defending the White House alongside the remaining Umbrella Corp. soldiers against enormous hordes of T-virus abominations swarming all over the walls.Another great Resident Evil adventure, Milla Jovovich is on form as usual, a great sequel for fans of the franchise.

 

REVIEW: RESIDENT EVIL

CAST

Milla Jovovich (The Three Musketeers)
Michelle Rodriguez (Machete)
Eric Mabius (Ugly Betty)
James Purefoy (Solomon Kane)
Martin Crewes (DOA)
Colin Salmon (Arrow)
Jason Isaacs (Peter Pan)

Underneath Raccoon City exists a genetic research facility called the Hive, owned by the Umbrella Corporation. A thief steals the genetically engineered T-virus and contaminates the Hive with it. In response, the facility’s artificial intelligence, the Red Queen, seals the Hive and kills everyone inside.

Alice awakens naked in the bathroom of a deserted mansion with amnesia. She dresses, checks the mansion, and is subdued by an unknown person. A group of Sanitation Team commandos led by James Shade breaks into the mansion and arrests Matt Addison, who just transferred as a cop in Raccoon P.D. The group travels to the underground train under the mansion that leads to the Hive, where they find Spence. The commandos explain that everyone in the group except Matt is an employee of the Umbrella Corporation, and Alice and her partner Spence are security guards for a Hive entrance under the disguise of a couple living in the mansion. Five hours prior, the Red Queen had shut down the entire facility and released a gas which killed everyone inside, flooded the labs, and destroyed the elevators, also causing Spence and Alice’s amnesia.

At the Queen’s chamber, a laser defense system kills Shade and three more commandos. Despite the Red Queen’s urgent pleas for the group to leave, Kaplan disables the Red Queen systems, and the power fails, opening all of the doors in the Hive. This releases the zombified staff and containment units containing Lickers. When everyone regroups, they are ambushed by a horde of zombies and a gunfight ensues. J.D. perishes as the group becomes overwhelmed. A bitten Rain retreats with Kaplan and Spence; Matt becomes separated from Alice, who starts regaining her memories.

Matt looks for information about his sister Lisa and finds her zombified. Alice saves him, and Matt explains he and Lisa were environmental activists, and Lisa infiltrated Umbrella to smuggle out the evidence of illegal experiments. Alice remembers she was Lisa’s contact in the Hive but does not tell Matt. The survivors reunite at the Queen’s chamber, and the commandos explain they have one hour before the Hive traps them inside automatically. Alice and Kaplan activate the Red Queen to find an exit. To force her cooperation, they rig a remote shutdown. As they escape through maintenance tunnels, zombies ambush them, and a reanimated J.D. bites Rain before getting killed. The group reaches safety, but Kaplan is bitten and separated. Alice remembers that an anti-virus is in the lab, but they find it missing. Spence remembers he stole and released the virus. He hid the T-virus and anti-virus on the train. Spence is bitten by a zombie, which he kills before trapping the survivors in the lab. He retrieves the anti-virus, but is ambushed and killed by a Licker. The Red Queen offers to spare Alice and Matt if they kill Rain, whose health is fading and who has been infected too long for the anti-virus to work reliably. As the Licker attempts to reach them, a power outage occurs. The lab door opens to reveal Kaplan forced the Red Queen to open the door. The group heads to the train, where Alice retrieves the T-virus and kills a reanimated Spence before escaping with the others.On the train, they inject Rain and Kaplan with the anti-virus. However, the Licker is hiding on the train and attacks them, clawing Matt and killing Kaplan. In the ensuing battle, Alice subdues the Licker before Matt is attacked by a now-zombified Rain. He shoots Rain dead, causing her head to hit a trapdoor button, opening it and dropping the Licker under the train which ultimately kills it for good. At the mansion, Matt’s wound begins mutating. Before Alice can give him the anti-virus, the mansion doors burst open and a group of Umbrella scientists seizes them. They subdue Alice and take Matt away, revealing he is to be put into the Nemesis Program. Some time later, Alice awakens at the Raccoon City Hospital strapped to an examination table, with no memory of what happened since her capture. After escaping, she goes outside to find Raccoon City abandoned and ruined. Alice arms herself with a shotgun from an abandoned police car as the camera pans out.

The film did an excellent job establishing characters without too much unnecessary background, developing them just enough to make you want to know what they’ll do next, to make you care before the sudden and gruesome happens to them. The acting was above par for a Resident Evil, certainly much better than the first game. The plot was no more comic bookish than any of the games. My one complaint was that the characters were too battle-trained, too slick, too good at fighting for them to be sympathetic horror subjects. This could’ve been balanced out with more reaction shots showing the soldiers wetting themselves. But Alice’s over-the-top commando-style action made her too much of a super heroine to really make anyone concerned about her survival; characters made of Teflon make good action but apathetic horror subjects.

12 DAYS OF CHRISTMAS REVIEW: ARROW – YEAR’S END

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CAST
Stephen Amell (Screamer 2)
Katie Cassidy (Black Xmas)
David Ramsey (Dexter)
Willa Holland (Legion)
Paul Blackthorne (The Dresden Files)
Colin Donnell (Pan Am)
Susanna Thompson (Cold Case)
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YEARS END
GUEST CAST
Colin Salmon (Hex)
Byron Mann (Catwoman)
Sebastian Dunn (Blackwood)
Brian Markinson (Izombie)
Emily Bett Rickards (Brooklyn)
John Barrowman (Torchwood)
Adam Hunt is on the phone trying to raise money for a deal despite the fact that he was recently taken down by The Hood. An unseen figure, who Adam seems to recognize, makes an unexpected visit. Adam asks the visitor if he is here to extract another pound of flesh. The intruder responds by firing three arrows into Adam’s chest, killing him.
Oliver and John spar in the Arrowcave. John points out that Oliver has really thrown himself into his vigilante work since his breakup with Helena, having taken down three of the men on the list in a single week. He tells Oliver that he’s taking his nephew to the mall for Christmas shopping and Oliver realizes that it’s Christmas. He explains that on the island he was too busy trying to survive to keep track of things like holidays, and remembers how his father Robert, would put Christmas trees in every room of the manor. John tells Oliver that he deserves a break and to go spend time with his family on Christmas. Yao Fei unseals the cave and is surprised that Oliver is still alive. He leaves Oliver a jug of water and a rabbit for food. When Oliver inquires as to where he has been Yao brings in a surprise prisoner, Edward Fyers. Oliver’s first thought is to gain revenge on the man who tortured him, but Yao Fei tells him that he is more valuable to them alive, as they can use his private plane to return to civilization.
Oliver returns to Queen Manor and discovers Thea leaving their parents’ dinner party. He asks about the lack of Christmas decorations and Thea hesitantly says that everyone was just too busy to bother. Oliver then joins the dinner party where Moira and Walter are hosting several rich and important guests, including Malcolm Merlyn and Police Commissioner Brian Nudocerdo. They discuss The Hood and whether his actions are justified. While Brian voices his disapproval of vigilantes, Malcolm notes that the crime rate has gone down for the first time in 5 years. Brian insists that his new departmental policies are responsible, but Walter suggests that The Hood has put the fear in the criminal element. Malcolm asks Oliver his opinion. Feigning neutrality, Oliver says the vigilante needs a better codename than “The Hood.” Malcolm suggests “Green Arrow,” which Oliver snidely dismisses. Their conversation is interrupted when Walter gets a call from Felicity. He takes it in the other room and she tells him that seven of the men on the list have been taken down by The Hood. Walter is not surprised by this, but Felicity quickly gets his attention by revealing that Dr. Doug Miller, the head of Applied Sciences at Queen Consolidated, is also on the list. Felicity suspects that Doug may be the Hood’s next target. Meanwhile, Brian’s aide whispers a message to him and he tells the guests that arrow has struck again and killed Adam Hunt, his first victim. Oliver fakes a call from a contractor and promptly excuses himself.
Quentin Lance arrives at Adam’s apartment and meets with Brian Nudocerdo, while The Hood eavesdrops from a balcony. Brian suggests the vigilante is responsible, but Quentin disagrees; the arrows used to kill Adam were black instead of green, and The Hood had already shut down Adam’s Ponzi scheme and left him a broken man, killing him now would make no sense. He suggests a copycat is responsible. The next day, Oliver and John try to work out who killed Adam. Oliver points out the placing of the three arrows in Adam’s chest and figures that the killer is an expert archer. He figures the archer used custom arrows that can be traced and tells John that they’ll get one from the police. At the police station, Quentin receives a disposable cellphone, which begins ringing almost immediately after he picks it up. Using a voice distorter, Oliver tells Quentin The Hood is not a very good nickname for him. He then insists that he didn’t kill Adam, but he needs Quentin’s help to track the real killer. He insists that he can go places that the police can’t Quentin isn’t interested, but Oliver warns that the killer will likely strike again, and instructs him to call the pre-programmed number if he changes his mind.
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Walter calls Dr. Doug into his office and tells him that security red-flagged him as someone The Hood might come after. Doug claims that he has no idea why the vigilante would want him. Oliver and Thea are having lunch at Big Belly Burgers, and Oliver again inquires about the lack of Christmas celebration. Before she can answer, a young man named Shane Colvin comes in and asks if Thea wants to hang with him and his friends. She passes, explaining that she’s with her brother. After Shane leaves, Oliver returns to the topic and Thea explains that after Oliver and Robert disappeared at sea, no one felt like celebrating Christmas. After that they just kept avoiding it for the next 4 years. Thea doesn’t consider this a big deal, but Oliver clearly does. Later, Oliver gathers his family and expresses his desire to resume the annual Christmas party. He went without Christmas during his time on the island, and he knows that he was the reason they stopped celebrating, so now, he can be the reason they celebrate it again. “I know that I haven’t been the son, the step-son, or the brother that all of you deserve, especially lately, but this feels like the right moment to start making up for lost time”. Moira agrees and Oliver tells them that he’ll handle all of the arrangements. As the family leaves, Walter tells Oliver that he’s a good man.
Yao Fei leads Edward and Oliver through the forest, and Edward tells Oliver that he can tell that he’s a good man, since he suffered torture rather than betray Yao Fei. Edward asks Oliver what he knows about Yao and explains that Lian Yu was a prison. The Chinese army kept the prisoners there that were too dangerous to imprison anywhere else. When they shut down the island 8 years ago, they sent Edward and his men in to purge the facility. Only two prisoners were spared. Yao Fei and Billy Wintergreen. When Oliver points out that Edward had Wintergreen torture him, Edward says that he only did it to find Yao, who had “slaughtered dozens of people,” and asks what Oliver would have done in his position. Moira meets with Malcolm at a secret location. He tells her that Doug reported to him, and that Walter knows more than he should about the list. Moira suggests she talk with him, but Malcolm says they are past the point of conversation. He recalls how she blackmailed him into staying away from her family. He has honored that agreement, but now it seems her family isn’t staying away from him. He wonders if they need to bring in their “associate” to clean things up. Moira nervously assures him that she will handle it.
A businessman, Nelson Ravich, is walking home when The Dark Archer kills him. Brian and Quentin arrive sometime later and close the crime scene. They know that The Hood terrorized Ravich into giving up his embezzlement funds a week ago. Brian tells Quentin to accuse The Hood of the two murders but Quentin refuses, pointing out that it doesn’t match The Hood’s normal pattern of leaving his victims alive once he gets what he wants from them. Brian takes Quentin off the case and leaves, while Quentin goes back to the station. After careful consideration, Quentin calls Oliver and tells him that he left one of the black arrows at a heating vent. However, he warns the Hood that he has until Christmas to find the killer, after that, he’ll come after him, “copycat or not”.
Oliver recovers the black arrow and goes over it with John. They confirm that it’s a custom job and that The Dark Archer is deliberately trying to call Oliver out. Oliver takes the arrow to Queen Consolidated and asks Felicity if she can confirm the point of origin so he can order more for a friend. She does so, and discovers that the company holding the patent on the arrow is called Sagittarius, after the famous archer on the Zodiac calendar. Felicity locates the address of the shipment and gives it to Oliver, who wishes her a happy Hanukkah and departs.
When Laurel comes home, she finds her father listening to Brian’s press statement on the news. She figures that The Hood isn’t the killer, reminding Quentin that the Hood protected her during the prison breakout. Tommy arrives at the apartment and Quentin rebuffs his attempts to impress him. Laurel reminds Tommy that she wanted to be with her father on Christmas, but he says that Christmas is a time for people to be together, and points out that she’s holding something back. When he invites her to the Queen holiday party, Laurel refuses and Tommy gives her his Christmas present and leaves. Quentin complains about how Tommy and Oliver are selfish and Laurel should stay away from both of them. She’s surprised and touched to discover that Tommy’s gift is an old photo of herself, Quentin, and Sara. Oliver dons his Hood costume and goes to the address that received the black arrows. A single black arrow is rammed into a table and as Oliver examines it, the door slams shut behind him. A bomb lights off and begins a countdown, and Oliver blasts the door open with an explosive arrow and gets out just in time. He goes back to the manor where the party is in full swing and tells John what happened. As they talk, Shane comes in with flowers for Moira. Oliver has his family pose for a Christmas party and then Thea goes off with Shane, Moira tells Walter that they’ll talk later and goes off. Tommy and Laurel arrive and Oliver goes to greet them. Tommy still thinks things are weird between Laurel and Oliver and goes off to get drinks.
When Walter finds Moira, she reminds him that he promised not to investigate any further. Walter reminds his wife that Robert was his oldest friend and that he had no intention of letting the murderers go free. He asks his wife if whatever she is protecting is worth the lies, and Moira explains that she salvaged the boat to use as leverage against the organization. Walter offers to help fight them, but Moira says that she is one of them, and that she hoped Walter’s love could save her. He accepts her explanation for the moment and tells her that the time for lies is over, and Moira promises to tell him everything after the party. Laurel and Oliver talk privately and she figures out that he’s still uncomfortable with the fact that she’s with Tommy. Oliver insists that he’s fine and Laurel admits that since Oliver was declared dead, she hasn’t been able to connect emotionally with anyone. She tells Oliver that Tommy is the first person that she has been with in 5 years, and Oliver assures her that he’s happy for them.
Once Laurel leaves, Oliver goes to find Thea and discovers her in bed with Shane. He kicks Shane out and demands to know why Thea is skipping the party. She angrily explains that the party is something he’s doing to make himself feel better and that all it’s doing is digging up old memories that she rather forget. Oliver wonders why she wants to forget, and Thea tells him that things will never again be as they were before his disappearance. As she walks away, John comes in to tell Oliver that the copycat situation has escalated. They turn on the news and discover that The Dark Archer has captured five hostages and is holed up at an abandoned warehouse. One of the hostages reads a statement from The Dark Archer, accusing the police of lacking the will do what justice demands. He will execute one hostage every hour unless The Hood faces him alone. John suggests that the police handle it, but Oliver insists that it’s his responsibility and assures his partner that he handled much worse on the island.
Image result for ARROW YEAR'S ENDYao Fei tells Edward to radio his troops and instruct them to bring the plane. Edward tells them that won’t be necessary, as they should be arriving any minute. “Do you not think it convenient to capture me so easily”? As Yao and Oliver realize they’ve been lured into a trap, Wintergreen emerges from the jungle, flanked by two mercenaries armed with AK-74 assault rifles. As Wintergreen draws his ninjato, Yao engages him in melee combat while Oliver draws the gunmen away. Oliver manages to lose the gunmen, but Wintergreen overpowers Yao, who is forced to surrender as more troops arrive. The police gather outside the warehouse but quickly discover that The Dark Archer has booby-trapped all of the doors. As Quentin arrives, the police see The Hood slide into the warehouse through a window. He quickly frees the hostages and gets them to the roof, and then goes down to find the archer. The Dark Archer, wearing a mask which disguises his voice, tells The Hood that he’s eager to see which one of them is the better archer, and took hostages because he knew it would take something dramatic to lure him out. The two archers duel throughout the bowels of the warehouse, they seem to be evenly matched, but The Dark Archer Catches him by surprise. The Hood is brought down by two arrows to the back. As he mercilessly kicks the vigilante in the ribs, The Dark Archer reveals that he knows about the list, and the man who wrote it wants “the Hood” dead. As The Dark Archer moves in to unmask his prey, the Hood stabs him in the leg with one of his arrowheads. and knocking him out cold with a single punch as The Dark Archer flees shortly after that, Oliver radios John for help, and then passes out.
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When Oliver wakes up, he’s in the hospital with John at his side. John explains that he cleaned up the evidence and carried Oliver away. Oliver’s injuries include a collapsed lung, a few cracked ribs, and a concussion. Walter, Thea, and Moira, arrive and John tells them that Oliver was in a motorcycle accident. They’re all relieved to see that he’s okay and they admit that they weren’t at their best during the party. However, they’re all there now for Oliver and that’s what matters. Thea stays behind to apologize to Oliver, she realizes he is not the same person that he was 5 years ago, but neither is she. They agree to accept each other as they are now and share a hug. The Dark Archer returns to his hideout and removes his mask, revealing his identity as Malcolm Merlyn. Walter checks in at his office. After taking a call from Felicity, he gets into the elevator and the other passenger injects him with a sedative. Moira demands a meeting with Malcolm, well aware that he’s had Walter abducted. Malcolm promises that Walter won’t be harmed and that he will never know that Moira is involved. When she complains, Malcolm reminds her that the Tempest Organization is only six months away from rebuilding the city to their dreams. Moira realizes that Malcolm feels nothing despite the fact that their plans will cost thousands of people their lives, but Malcolm tells her that he’ll feel a sense of accomplishment, and Walter will be returned to her when it’s over.
In the hospital room, Oliver admits to John that he failed the city, because he almost didn’t win the fight, and he let The Dark Archer live, but John reminds him that he saved five lives. He figures that Oliver will capture The Dark Archer, but Oliver believes that the author of the list is the true threat, and resolves to find him.
The first Arrow Christmas set the trend for the last few years, making sure the Christmas episode is a good hour of television and making sure it leaves fans on a mid-season cliff-hanger to bring you back into the new year. The big reveal of the season 1 big bad was brilliant and set the tone for the last part of the season, Arrow season 1 got better and better with each episode during its opening year and by the time Christmas came along it showed just how far the show came along. Year’s end is an outstanding bit of television

REVIEW: HEX – SEASON 1 & 2

MAIN CAST

Christina Cole (Jupiter Ascenmding)
Jemima Rooper (Urban Gothic)
Michael Fassbender (300)
Jamie Davis (Casulty)
Amber Sainsbury (Young Hercules)
Anna Wilson-Jones (Hotel Babylon)
Colin Salmon (Limitless TV)
Joseph Morgan (The Originals)
Zoe Tapper (Mr. Selfridge)
Laura Pyper (Reign of Fire)
Joseph Beattie (Brideshead Revisited)
Samuel Collings (Doctors)

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RECURRING / NOTABLE GUEST CAST

Geraldine James (The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo)
Jessica Oyelowo (Sleepy Hollow)
Stephen Wright (Highlander: The Source)
Sam Troughton (Robin Hood)
Ronan Vibert (The Panist)
Laura Donnelly (Sugar Rush)
Leon Ford (East West 101)
Anatole Taubman (Band of Brothers)
Jemuna Avey (Eastenders)
Katrine De Candole (X-Men: First Class)
Jemma Powell (The Hole)

Hex is set at a remote English school, Medenham Hall, which occupies the former manor house and grounds of the McBain estate. It was the site of an 18th-century witchcraft scandal in which the female members of the line, the Medenham Witches, were tried and executed. Cassie, who raised herself in a single-parent household caring for her mentally unstable mother, has latent telekinetic, pyrokinetic and clairvoyant abilities that are awakened when she touches an antique vase that had been used in Voodoo rituals by the Medenham Witches. Her roommate, Thelma (who harbors an ill-concealed crush on Cassie), discovers that Cassie is a descendant of the Medenham Witches. Cassie has startling visions and dreams that she strives to interpret, and also struggles with controlling her growing telekinetic and pyrokinetic powers, which she is only able to summon in times of stress.

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Cassie is stalked by a “dangerous looking” stranger who calls himself Azazeal. Initially glimpsed fleetingly, he becomes increasingly bold, even entering into the student’s rooms later in the series without warning or permission. Azazeal is revealed to be the leader of the biblical Nephilim, fallen angels, and he claims to be in love with Cassie. He has had previous relationships with schoolmistress Jo Watkins and Cassie’s own mother, which may have contributed to her mental illness.

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Frustrated by his inability to convince Cassie that his claims are sincere, Azazeal kills Thelma before Cassie’s eyes as a sacrifice to increase his power and prove that he is truly who he says he is. This act has two unintentional consequences: his power over Cassie is initially weakened by the shock, and Thelma thereafter continues to share Cassie’s room as a ghost that only Cassie, Azazeal and other ghosts can see. Thelma never forgives Azazeal for her own death, and is a strong voice against him to Cassie, who has grown to have feelings for him. Thelma is unable to touch the living, but she can touch other ghosts and presumably manipulate inanimate objects (including clothing, artifacts, books, doors, window sashes, and vending machines) and eat, which she does constantly (since ghosts cannot gain weight). Thelma works behind the scenes to spy on Azazeal and gather evidence from places where Cassie cannot enter. Cassie, while horrified by some of Azazeal’s behaviour, ultimately finds herself drawn into his power. Azazeal possesses Cassie, and while under his power, she gives herself to him and they conceive a child.

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Thelma learns from Peggy, the ghost of a woman who died in the 1918 influenza pandemic, that the gestation of Azazeal’s child is weakening the veil between worlds, allowing more ghosts to appear to the living. If the child is born, the veil will be torn, allowing the rest of the Nephilim to enter our world. If the pregnancy is terminated, the veil will heal, preventing the Nephilim from returning and leaving Azazeal the only one of his kind in our world. But there is a side effect: ghosts will also vanish from this world. Cassie, after much convincing from Thelma decides that her fetus must be aborted, although it is growing at an alarming rate. A week after conception, the doctors believe she is nearing the end of her second trimester. Thelma assists Cassie, without telling her that success means that she may never see Cassie again. Azazeal tries to interfere and save his son, but Cassie goes through with the abortion…or so she thinks. When Thelma realizes that Cassie can still see her, Thelma knows that something has not gone right. Cassie discovers weeks later that the doctor who performed her procedure has been influenced by Azazeal, and that the baby is alive and in Azazeal’s care.

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Hex is sometimes compared to Joss Whedon’s classic Buffy the Vampire Slayer, and it’s easy to see why a surface connection can be made. Both shows focus on pretty young women with supernatural powers, who face all sorts of strange demons and creatures. There’s even some scenes set at a local club, where Cassie encounters some foes, that will evoke memories of The Bronze for Buffy fans.

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However, the shows aren’t truly identical. Hex is a much more somber affair, playing almost everything very straight and without the knowing comic edge Buffy had. This isn’t a bad thing in and of itself, but it does lead to the show sometimes straining to not become too campy, as some of the plot points are pretty out there, and more of an acknowledgement of that within the show would be nice. Also, in the early episodes, there are some redundant moments that nearly become comical – note how many times we cut to Fassbender ominously standing and watching from afar. Thankfully Rooper is present, as her character, who goes through some rather huge changes early on, adds some much needed sarcasm and humor, and the actress is a very quirky and appealing presence.

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Hex is a very attractive show, and not just because its stars are easy on the eyes – There’s a good deal of sex going on throughout the series, which never quote pins down just how old these kids are. The show is very well shot and cinematic, with the beautiful grounds of the school looking ominous and impressive. The soundtrack is also very cool.

Thelma discovers that Azazeal is raising the child, who is walking already, in an abandoned nearby church. She and Cassie decide that they must somehow get the child, whom Azazeal has named “Malachi”, but are clueless as to how to accomplish this. Azazeal becomes aware that they are watching him and tries to convince Cassie that he only wants her to join them so that they can be a “real family”. Cassie, still partially under his spell, is obviously attracted by the prospect but retains enough of herself to know that this is something she should not want.

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While Cassie and Thelma strategize, new characters are introduced at the school while old ones depart. Troy, convinced that Cassie’s child is his, left the school at the end of the first series. Jo Watkins, having “really let herself go,” is seldom seen at school as she has become Azazeal’s live-in nurse and nanny. The school gains a new chaplain, Jez Heriot, who doesn’t “wear the uniform” except when conducting services and also teaches Ethics. When Jo effectively disappears, David Tyrel asks Jez to take her classes as well. The students don’t initially realize that he is a priest, and Roxanne is quite taken with him, so much so that she can’t help but seduce him even after the truth is known. A new student arrives at Medenham: Ella Dee. Her wardrobe instantly wins her points with the boys, evokes jealousy in the girls, and makes the faculty uncomfortable. Thelma is mildly attracted until she realizes that Ella can see her. There are other anomalies: Ella’s tuition is paid by a corporation and her family background is unknown. She also seems to know entirely too much about Cassie… and Azazeal.

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Ella (Laura Pyper) drawing a magical Hexagram in order to protect Cassie (Christina Cole) in the episode “Death Takes the Mother.”  It is quickly revealed that Ella is definitely not what she seems. She is 445 years old and the daughter of John Dee. Ella is also a witch and has been hunting Azazeal for centuries. So far, she has been very successful in preventing Azazeal from begetting a son by a mortal witch. This time, however, Ella was too late. Her mission: kill Malachi.

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Ella instantly takes charge of both Cassie and Thelma, and formulates a plan to kidnap Malachi and sacrifice him in the school chapel. They are successful in grabbing the child, but Azazeal follows them and a series of alternately foolish and selfish decisions leads the girls inexorably to tragedy. With Azazeal present, Cassie loses her resolve and throws her body between Ella and Malachi. She dies instantly when Ella can’t stop her killing blow, and Azazeal regains Malachi and retreats.

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Ella tries to devise a new strategy while Thelma tries to deal with her deep sense of loss, but Ella loses her edge as she feels herself falling for Leon. Azazeal appeals to Thelma’s own selfish desires and convinces her to steal and give him the Stone of Belial, one of Ella’s objects of power, in exchange for a last meeting with Cassie. Jez is revealed to be Ramiel, another Nephilim and Azazeal’s “right-hand entity”. With the Stone in their possession, Azazeal and Ramiel conspire to drive Ella insane by forcing her to relive the 17th century witch trial in which she was found guilty and nearly executed. Azazeal uses the Stone of Belial on Thelma, who travels back to Ella’s witch trial and rescues her from execution in the past. Ramiel’s scheming and manipulation leads to Ella’s commitment in an insane asylum, where a triumphant Azazeal seemingly abandons her.
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Ella rapidly ages as she is stripped of her powers, but after Leon is brought in on her secret and is granted the power to see Thelma, he helps to revive her using the Volta. A friend of Leon’s who helped him get Ella out of the hospital (where she was cared for by Azazeal’s lover Perie the Faerie) is tortured by Azazeal and the now teenaged Malachi, who kills him out of pity. Azazeal is asked to leave by “higher powers” and enlists Malachi at Medenham Hall. He and Ella say their goodbyes; with Malachi born, Ella has no desire to kill him, and Azazeal leaves the Stone of Belial in Malachi’s possession. Ella kills Jez and makes it look like suicide, precipitated by the revelation that he was having an affair with a student, which deeply affects Roxanne, who felt responsible because she had seduced him.
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Ella and Malachi romance one another magically and otherwise, and their respective mentors, the Archangel Raphael and the demon Mephistopheles, both use psychological tactics to get them to do as they wish. Ella and Malachi eventually have sex, as the evil side had wanted, and by fulfilling Ella’s true desire (to be normal), she is made a slave to Malachi – his succubus. Malachi kills a lesbian girl named Maya so that her ghost can consort with Thelma and give him leverage. Ella’s enslavement to Malachi is ended by Thelma, who invaded her dreams and invoked her greatest fear: fire. Leon attempts to kill Malachi, but is betrayed by Thelma (in hopes of keeping her and Maya together in the living world) and saved by Ella after Malachi sends a fallen Archangel, Sariel, to attack him. Mephistopheles betrays the cause of evil by helping Ella save Leon, who he feels did not need to die, and is subsequently punished and has his eyes removed. Raphael falls from grace by trying to rape Ella, who announces at this point that she no longer works for Raphael’s master, God, and is a freelance agent at last.

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Ella loses all her feelings for Malachi, who quickly moves on to romancing Alex and other girls in the school. He eventually seduces the entire student body, creating an army of succubi and incubi that makes him too powerful for Ella to kill. The only students who are not converted are Roxanne (who becomes a “pure soul” in her quest for forgiveness from God for seducing Jez and causing his apparent suicide), Tom (who is secretly gay, in love with Leon, and impossible to convert because Malachi cannot make Leon love him back), Thelma (because after Ella later kills Maya, he has no hold over her), and Ella herself, who had already been freed from Malachi’s spell. Ella digs up Maya’s corpse and beheads it, which destroys Maya’s lingering presence on Earth. Leon tries to kill Alex but cannot go through with it, leaving him feeling inferior to Ella. Jo Watkins, Cassie’s former teacher and Azazeal’s former lover, returns as Malachi’s new emissary from the “higher powers” and restores her position as headmistress by framing David Tyrel for embezzlement of school funds. Malachi cannot convert Tom, so he fakes the “mark of Malachi” on his neck and ensures that Leon will see it. Fooled by the false mark, Leon kills Tom, but by doing so, he achieves his greatest desire (not being inferior to Ella) and becomes an incubus of Malachi’s.

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Leon almost kills Ella with knowledge gained from the Book of Orokiah, but Thelma helps to save her. He is locked in a cage and sedated, at which point Thelma saves him from Malachi by invoking his greatest fear (having his penis amputated). Returned to normal, he still ends his relationship with Ella and leaves the school. Roxanne is given the ability to see ghosts, and Thelma pretends to be an angel to get her to steal the Stone of Belial back from Malachi. Ella uses the Stone to travel back in time and attempts to kill Malachi while he is still a baby (at the end of Series 1), but she is attacked by Perie the Faerie and receives a mortal wound to the chest. Ella returns to Medenham Hall where she confesses her love for Leon as she lies dying under the watchful eyes of Thelma. Rejected by Hell, Mephistopheles convinces Leon to return, where he saves Ella by cauterizing her wound. Malachi sacrifices the pure-of-heart Roxanne to “enrage God” by killing one of “His creatures.” The school is set ablaze and Thelma, Ella, and Leon escape from it to a field somewhere. As Malachi has started the “End of Days,” described by Mephistopheles as the final battle between good and evil, the series ends with blood pouring from a rock bearing the mark of Azazeal, similar to Malachi’s.

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The pacing of these episodes are much quicker compared with the first season, New character  Ella is dark, interesting, unpredictable and can fight like the best of them! Leon is also brought to the forefront and undergoes a great deal of character development; which was nice to see. Thelma is as always a joy to watch, and manages to get herself into some considerably grey moral areas. Over the course of the season a lot changes and we see these characters attempt to deal with the events that take place with varying degrees of success. This leads to a lot of character growth and dark subject matter. Hex as a show is very dark, not just in the way its lit, but in its tone and ambiance. Which is partly what I enjoy the most, that while its a very dark almost adult show, it retains a great deal of realism at the same time.

REVIEW: PUNISHER: WAR ZONE

CAST

Ray Stevenson (Divergent)
Dominic West (300)
Julie Benz Angel)
Colin Salmon (Arrow)
Doug Hutchison (Shaft)
Dash Mihok (Gotham)
Wayne Knight (3rd Rock From The Sun)
T.J. Storm (VR Troopers)

 

The film follows Frank Castle (Ray Stevenson), a man who was out for a picnic with his wife and son one day and who happened to witness a mob hit. The mob, never pleased with events like this, opened fire on the Castle family and sent all but Frank to their graves. With nothing else to live for, Frank decides to arm himself to the teeth and with the help of his friend and weapons supplier, Microchip (Wayne Knight), wage a war on crime. Taking care of the criminals who fall through the cracks of the legal system, Castle’s managed to accumulate a pretty massive body count, but the N.Y.P.D. tends to turn a blind eye to his activities until one night Castle accidently kills Nicky Donatelli (Romano Orzari), an undercover F.B.I. agent trying to infiltrate the gang run by Billy Russoti (Dominic West).

When the feds learn that Castle has killed one of their own, they send Special Agent Paul Budiansky (Colin Salmon) to work with Detective Martin Soap (Dash Mihok) to bring Castle in for good. Meanwhile, Billy Russoti, whose face was mangled during the incident and who now calls himself Jigsaw, wants revenge. He springs his brother, James (Doug Hutchinson), better known as Loony Bin Jim, from the local asylum and decides he’s going to take out Donatelli’s widow, Angela (Julie Benz) and daughter, Grace (Stephanie Janusauskas) and then the Punisher himself. On top of that, Russoti is in the middle of a deal with the Russian mob involving some biological weapons, a deal that the feds and N.Y.P.D. alike absolutely do not want to happen.

While the plot is fairly thin, there’s enough meat on the bones of the plot to work. Each of the central characters has sufficient motivation that their actions make sense and with the plot established and the characters set up, director Lexi Alexander wisely chooses to not waste anymore time and get on with the action. Sure there are a couple of sentimental flashbacks in the movie, but those serve to remind us that there is a living, breath, feeling human being underneath the skull emblazoned Kevlar armor.

The real heart of this film is in its action scenes and it is in these scenes that the picture really excels. When Castle kills someone, he really kills them. A face is punched in (literally), throats are slit, a head is cut of, brains are blown out, there are squibs galore and in one remarkably ridiculous scene a balletic gang banger is blown up, mid maneuver, by a rocket launcher. The violence in the film is hard hitting and completely over the top – just as it should be!

Equally as ridiculous are the film’s villains. Dominic West and Doug Hutchinson are having so much malicious fun as Jigsaw and Loony Bin Jim that, while you want the Punisher to take them down, you can’t help but want them to come back for a sequel. These guys play the parts with completely unwarranted but very welcome enthusiasm, playing everything to the hilt – the mannerisms, the New Yawk accents – to the point where they are literally comic book villains incarnate. Stevenson’s Frank Castle is perfect in the lead, bringing a nice sense of brooding menace to the character and scowling his way through the film just as you’d want him too.

Helping the over the top performances and ultra violence immensely is some fantastic camerawork and lighting. There are large portions of the movie that are bathed in Bava-esque primary colors, really upping the comic book come to life aesthetic that Alexander was obviously going for here. It works, and it works well. Not only does the movie zip along at a great pace but it looks fantastic doing so.