REVIEW: ANDROMEDA – SEASON 2

Starring

Kevin Sorbo( Hercules: TLJ)
Lisa Ryder (Jason X)
Keith Hamilton Cobb (All My Children)
Gordon Michael Woolvett (Bride of Chucky)
Laura Bertram (50/50)
Brent Stait (Blade: The Series)
Lexa Doig (Arrow)

Kevin Sorbo in Andromeda (2000)

RECURRING / NOTABLE GUEST CAST

Gerard Plunkett (Sucker Punch)
Anthony Lemke (Robocop: Prime Directives)
Peter Kelamis (Stargate Universe)
William B. Davis (The X-Files)
Anne Marie DeLuise (Strange Empire)
Enuka Okuma (Impulse)
Rachel Hayward (Jingle All The Way 2)
John DeSantis (Arrow)
Roger Cross (First Wave)
Kendall Cross (X-Men 2)
Steve Bacic (Flash Gordon)
Kurt Evans (Izombie)
Françoise Yip (The Order)
Sam Sorbo (Hercules: TLJ)
James Marsters (Runaways)
Jud Tylor (That 70s Show)
Alex Diakun (Agent Cody Banks)
Steven Grayhm (White Chicks)
Timothy Webber (North of 60)
Mark Hildreth (V)
Kimberly Huie (Deep Impact)
Kevin McNulty (Fantastic FOur)
Travis MacDonald (Highlander: The Series)
Kristin Lehman (The Loft)
Heather Hanson (G-Spot)
Costas Mandylor (Saw V)
Cynthia Preston (Carrie)
Sonya Salomaa (Watchmen)
Michael Hurst (Hercules: TLJ)
Christopher Judge (Stargate SG.1)
Andee Frizzell (stargate: Atlantis)
Matthew Walker (Highlander: The Series)
Dylan Bierk (Jason X)
Marion Eisman (Riverdale)
David Lovgren (Antitrust)
Ellie Harvie (The New Addams Family)

Laura Bertram in Andromeda (2000)Andromeda starred Kevin Sorbo (Hercules: The Legendary Journey’s) in a science fiction series created by Gene Roddenberry (Star Trek) with a variety of executive producers Robert Hewitt Wolfe (The 4400, Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, Majel Rodenberry (Earth: Final Conflict), Allan Eastman (Star Trek: Voyager), Robert Engels (seaQuest DSV), Jay Firestone (Mutant X, La Femme Nikita), and Adam Haight (Mutant X, Highlander: The Raven). With its diverse crew of producers with extensive experience in science fiction and drama productions, Andromeda put in five solid seasons from 2000 to 2005 and totaled one-hundred and ten episodes. The premise of Andromeda is about the adventures of the crew the Andromeda and their efforts to rebuild a massive civilization that spanned the universeLexa Doig in Andromeda (2000)In season two, Dylan’s quest becomes more of a reality. The Renewed Systems Commonwealth represents more than just the unity and peace Dylan envisions; it is, as Dylan hunt says, a necessity. In the season one finale “It’s Hour Come ‘Round at Last”, Harper took a look around inside Andromeda’s code and found a backup copy of Andromeda’s core. He accidentally restored the backup. Andromeda went out of control and took the crew on a top secret mission. To make matters worse, the mission takes the crew deep into Magog territory, where the Andromeda runs into a Magog Worldship. The Worldship is a transportable solar system, with multiple planets and an artificial sun.Keith Hamilton Cobb in Andromeda (2000)The Worldship houses trillions of Magog and gives them the power to destroy stars. The Magog are traveling towards the known worlds with plans of conquest and destruction. In the close of the episode, the Magog have overrun the Andromeda and the crew’s fate is desperate: Trance, Beka, and Dylan are unconscious and near death, Tyr and Harper are being held by the Magog, Rommie had a pike shoved in her stomach, Rev Bem is being converted to the Magog cause, and the Andromeda Ascendant is in critical condition.Laura Bertram in Andromeda (2000)The second season premiere episode “The Widening Gyre” continues where season one left off. Despite the direness of the situation, they overcome their individual situations and manage to free themselves of capture. The real excitement introduced in this story is the notion of the Magog and the Worldship. The Spirit of the Abyss, a being that acts as the Magog’s God, is leading the Magog on a quest of utter destruction. This threat becomes a staple for the Andromeda crew to fight off. A Renewed Systems Commonwealth is a necessity. Fortunately for the crew, they have some time until the Worldship reaches space of the known world–two or three years. In the fourth and fifth seasons, the Spirit of the Abyss and the Magog are a major port of the season story arcs. In the meantime, season two has an episode “Into the Labyrinth” with another assassin sent by the Abyss that runs into the crew.Laura Bertram in Andromeda (2000)The Magog still are at the front of the stories and a key reason for the new Commonwealth. And Dylan works feverishly to recruit planets to his cause. In the episode “Home Fires”, Dylan receives a message from his long dead fiance. After the initial fall of the Commonwealth, a group sought refuge on a planet called Tarazed and for three hundred years, they have survived as the last remnants of the old way of life. Dylan learns that the people of Tarazed and goes to the planet to get them to join the new Commonwealth. They, however, do not. When he arrives at the planet, he finds a familiar face, that of his former first officer Gaheris. But it is a genetic clone named Telemachus Rhade. Dylan and Rhade are hesitant to trust each other. The story takes an interesting turn in the development of the relationship Dylan had with Gaheris, as well as introduces Rhade, who joins the cast in season four.Sonya Salomaa in Andromeda (2000)The episodes “Into the Labyrinth”, “Bunker Hill”, and “The Prince” are more episodes focused on the restoration of the Commonwealth with the cast in diplomatic missions, facing with spies, political corruption, and other such things. “Into the Labyrinth” sees a Nietzschean clan Saber-Jaguar joining the Commonwealth. In “Bunker Hill” the Saber-Jaguar clan invokes the Mutual Defense Pact, which requires the Andromeda join their side in combat against the Dragan clan. At the same time, Dylan sends Harper and Rommie to Earth to join the resistance movement to free human slaves under Dragan control. In “The Prince”, the crew travel to Ne’Holland to save what is left the royal family from being slaughtered. Dylan wants the planet to join the Commonwealth because it is in a key position to defend against the upcoming Magog onslaught. However, in order to get them to join, he has to save its leaders from its own people. But what Dylan did not know was that the royal family’s actions have not always been just.Lisa Ryder in Andromeda (2000)“Ouroboros” is a major episode in the series. It is the first major cast and crew changes. Rev Bem leaves the series as a regular cast member. He apparently went away to find himself. Stait, who plays Rev Bem, talks about the reason he left in his interview featurette. Another change deals with Trance. Harper builds a machine he hopes will help rid him of the Magog larvae that was implanted in him in the season premiere. The machine works, but it also does a little more and bends space and time. The crew is able to glimpse into future versions of themselves. Trance, in particular, meets her future self, who proclaims the future unfolded very badly. The present and future Trance’s switch places in hope future Trance can set the timeline in the right direction. The new Trance is physically different, without a tail and has golden skin. The other major change is in the crew. Robert Hewitt Wolfe was released because the direction he envisioned for the series was much different than wanted.Michael Hurst in Andromeda (2000)In “Knight, Death, and the Devil”, the crew are on the verge of completing the first stage in restoring the Commonwealth. Beka and Harper negotiate with the fiftieth planetary world to join the cause. Dylan, Tyr, and Rommie also find a decommissioned high guard ship. When they interact with the ship’s AI Ryan (Michael Hurst), they find out there is a solar system with over fifty other relic ships in hiding. Dylan goes to the solar to convince the ships to rejoin the Commonwealth (remember some AI’s have emotions and they were abandoned long ago). Christopher Judge guest stars as one of the AI’s.Kevin Sorbo and Laura Bertram in Andromeda (2000)The season finale “Tunnel at the End of the Light” is a literally explosive episode. Representatives from fifty worlds come to the Andromeda to sign the Commonwealth charter. It is an exciting time to see the Commonwealth officially come back into power. Unfortunately, there are forces that would rather not see the chartered signed. Sabotage hits the Andromeda and the charter signing goes up in flames. It is up to the crew to make necessary sacrifices to see it through.Laura Bertram in Andromeda (2000)Overall, I was pretty happy with the second season of Andromeda. Like the first season, I was not in love with this season. The fact remains the show has a cast who over-performs and spouts cheesy dialogue. The storylines from episode to episode offer some enjoyable content, but nothing you should think too hard about. In addition, the story arcs that span the episodes offer intriguing aspects with the formation of the Commonwealth, the Magog, and the Spirit of the Abyss. In the end, I think season two makes for a good watch if you enjoy science-fiction/fantasy oriented shows.

REVIEW: SAW IV

4

CAST

Tobin Bell (Boogeyman 2)
Scott Patterson (Gilmore Girls)
Costas Mandylor (Bite)
Betsy Russell (Knock ‘Em Dead)
Lyriq Bent (Mother’s Day)
Athena Karkanis (The Lottery)
Louis Ferreira (Stargate Universe)
Simon Reynolds (P2)
Donnie Wahlberg (Blue Bloods)
Angus Macfayden (Braveheart)
Shawnee Smith (Anger Management)
Bahar Soomekh (Crash)
Dina Meyer (Birds of Prey)
Julian Richings (Cube)
Emmanuelle Vauguer (Two and a Half Men)
Noam Jenkins (Earth: Final Conflict)

A wax-coated microcassette is found in John Kramer’s stomach during his autopsy. It reveals to Mark Hoffman, the detective called in to hear it, that the games, including his own, will continue. Elsewhere, two men – one with his eyes sewn shut, the other Art Blank, who has his mouth sewn shut – awaken in a mausoleum, chained at the neck to a winch. The blinded man panics and activates the winch while attacking the muted man, who kills him and removes a key from his collar to free himself.Four days after Allison Kerry’s death, a SWAT team led by Hoffman and Lieutenant Daniel Rigg finds her body, and Hoffman warns Rigg for breaking through an unsecured door to reach her. The scene is also investigated by Peter Strahm and Lindsey Perez, Kerry’s FBI contacts, who received a message and a key from her. Noting Kramer’s and Amanda Young’s physical limitations, Strahm states they are looking for an unidentified accomplice; he soon becomes suspicious of Rigg, who has developed an obsession with saving people in the six months since the disappearance of Eric Matthews. That night, Rigg is attacked in his home; he awakens to learn that Matthews is alive and has ninety minutes to save himself, with Hoffman’s life also at risk. Meanwhile, he must play his own game to face and overcome his obsession. The detectives are shown to be at each end of a large seesaw: Matthews is held atop an ice block by a chain-noose, and Hoffman is strapped to a chair with electrodes at his feet. If Matthews slips or too much ice melts, both men will die. A man later arrives to oversee the game.Rigg finds a pimp, Brenda, bound to a chair in his living room, which he accidentally turns on the trap, which slowly tears apart her scalp. Rigg frees her, but kills Brenda in self-defense when she attacks Rigg with a knife. Rigg is then led to a motel and instructed to abduct the owner, Ivan Landsness, who Rigg finds out is a serial rapist. He forces Landsness onto a bed, which blinds only one of Landsness’ eyes, and the trap dismembers him. Rigg is led to a school, where he finds a married couple, Rex, who is already dead, and Morgan, who already has her spikes pulled out of her body. Morgan pulls out her last spike and Rigg gives her a key to save herself. Rigg turns on a fire alarm and goes to the location of his final test.MV5BOGJmNWRmZTMtZWM3Yi00Yzk5LWI3YTUtNWUzNDhjZDEwOWNkXkEyXkFqcGdeQXVyNjQ4ODE4MzQ@._V1_The agents alternate between investigating the scenes and questioning Jill Tuck, Kramer’s ex-wife. Jill reveals Kramer’s work with civil engineering and property development, and that she miscarried her son Gideon after seven months when Cecil Adams, a drug addict, slammed a door into her stomach while robbing her health clinic. At the motel, the agents learn that the room was rented out to a lawyer named Art Blank, who vanished two weeks prior, and survivor of the mausoleum trap. Blank is revealed to be the man overseeing the game when he stops Matthews’s attempts at jumping and gives him a gun. At the school, the agents learn that all three victims, as well as Jill, were Blank’s clients. They find a puppet and a tape recorder in another room, which plays a cryptic message for Perez before its face explodes, sending shrapnel into her face. After Perez is hospitalized, Strahm furiously questions Jill, now convinced of Blank’s involvement, and how Kramer ended his work with the wake of Blank’s depression, and that Cecil became the first victim of Kramer’s “games”. Rigg connects her story and a prior clue to the Gideon Meatpacking Plant, the location of his final test.

Strahm arrives after Rigg, but ends up following Jeff Denlon. After finding Jeff in the sickroom, Strahm shoots him dead in self-defense when Jeff demands his daughter back. Meanwhile, Blank pulls out a device which will free them when the timer expires; if used before then, a pair of pincers will sever his spine. Rigg finds them and is shot by Matthews as he breaks into the room, releasing two overhead ice blocks which swing down and crush Matthews’ head, killing him. Rigg shoots and kills Blank, believing him responsible for the game, only to learn from Blank’s tape recorder that his interference caused Matthews’ death. Hoffman, the actual accomplice, releases himself from the chair, but leaves Rigg to bleed to death. He seals Strahm in the sickroom and leaves the plant. The scene cuts to Hoffman at the morgue, while John’s final tape to Hoffman plays once again

There were too many loose ends at the end of Saw III that needed tying up, and I believe that Saw IV accomplished this to the degree that it was supposed to. Sure; as a stand-alone movie, it’s quite confusing. I would strongly recommend viewing the previous three before this one; otherwise, as aforementioned, you’ll be lost throughout the movie. As expected, IV had all the down-right blood, gore and grisly traps that I’ve come to know and love from the series in addition to explaining a bit more about Jigsaw’s past and the inner workings of his little ‘set-up’.

REVIEW: SAW III

3

CAST

Tobin Bell (Boogeyman 2)
Shawnee Smith (Anger Management)
Angus Macfayden (Braveheart)
Bahar Soomekh (Crash)
Donnie Wahlberg (Blue Bloods)
Dina Meyer (Birds of Prey)
Leigh Whannell (Raze)
Mpho Koaho (Falling Skies)
Barry Flatman (Earth: Final Conflict)
Lyriq Bent (Mother’s Day)
Costas Mandylor (Bite)
Betsy Russell (Knock ‘Em Dead)
Alan Van Sprang (Reign)
Frank G (The Italian Job)
Timothy Burd (Septic Man)

The aftermath of a Jigsaw game is discovered by a SWAT team. The victim, Troy, was meant to rip chains from his body in order to escape from a bomb. Lieutenant Daniel Rigg calls Detectives Mark Hoffman and Allison Kerry to the scene. Kerry, who is guilt-ridden over the disappearance of Eric Matthews, points out that the room’s only exit was welded shut, breaking Jigsaw’s modus operandi of giving his victims a chance to survive. That night, while reviewing the videotape, she is abducted and awakens in a harness that is hooked into her ribs. She manages to retrieve the key from a suspended beaker of acid and unlock it before the timer expires, but it tears her rib cage apart anyway, killing her.

Now bedridden from cancer, John Kramer instructs Amanda Young to abduct Dr. Lynn Denlon from her hospital. She is brought to Kramer and instructed to keep him alive until the other victim has completed his game. As Kramer explains the rules, Amanda locks a collar around Lynn’s throat that connects to Kramer’s heart rate monitor and will detonate if Kramer dies or Lynn moves out of range. The other victim, Jeff, awakens in a box in an abandoned meatpacking plant and learns from a microcassette recorder that he must undergo tests which will lead him to “the man responsible for the loss of his child”. Jeff has become unstable and vengeful in the three years since his son Dylan was killed by a drunk driver, and is now estranged from his wife and neglects his daughter Corbett.Jeff’s first test leads him into a meat freezer. He finds Danica Scott, the only witness of Dylan’s death, who refused to testify in court; she is naked and chained at the wrists between two poles which begin spraying ice-cold water at random intervals. She manages to convince Jeff to help her, but freezes to death before he can retrieve the key. His second test leads him to a vat, at the bottom of which Judge Halden, who gave Dylan’s killer six months in jail, is chained at the neck. The vat slowly fills with liquefied pig corpses, but Jeff reluctantly incinerates Dylan’s belongings in order to retrieve the key and save Halden. His third test brings him before Timothy Young, Dylan’s killer, who is strapped to a machine that will twist his limbs and neck in turn until they break. The key is tied to the trigger of an enclosed shotgun. Jeff eventually tries to free Timothy, but taking the key discharges the shotgun and accidentally kills Halden, and Jeff is unable to stop the machine before Timothy’s neck breaks.During an improvised surgery, in which Lynn removes a piece of Kramer’s skull to relieve pressure on his brain, he hallucinates about another woman and declares his love out loud, distressing Amanda. She leaves, and flashbacks show her time with Kramer, as well as her abduction of Adam, which left her guilt-ridden to the point she gave him a mercy killing out of guilt some time after his game. In the present, she reads a letter addressed to her which drives her to hysterics. As Lynn confesses to Kramer that her ordeal has given her new appreciation of her family, Amanda returns with the news that Jeff has completed his tests, but refuses to remove Lynn’s collar. She reveals that she no longer believes in Kramer’s philosophy, and has designed her traps simply to kill, including Troy’s and Kerry’s. She also fought with Eric Matthews after he escaped the bathroom by breaking his foot; she implies killing him, but Kramer believes she left him to die.Refusing to listen to Kramer’s warnings, Amanda shoots Lynn in the back just as Jeff arrives. He retaliates by shooting Amanda in the neck with a gun provided by Kramer during his tests. As Amanda slowly dies, Kramer reveals that Lynn’s test was actually hers: aware of her modus operandi, and unwilling to allow a murderer to inherit his legacy, he decided to test “her will to keep someone alive”; to this end, he told her nothing about Jeff and Lynn, including their marriage. Kramer then addresses Jeff, offering to call an ambulance for Lynn if he accepts one final test: he can choose to kill Kramer or forgive him. Jeff tells Kramer he forgives him, but then slashes his throat with a power saw. The door to the sickroom seals itself as a dying Kramer plays a final tape, which tells Jeff that he has failed his test by killing Kramer, the only person who knows Corbett’s whereabouts; to save her, Jeff must play another game. The tape ends as Kramer dies, and the collar promptly detonates and kills Lynn, leaving a screaming Jeff trapped in the sickroom with the three corpses.Saw III is as fast paced as its predecessors and the gruesome torture scenes don’t disappoint. See it, if you’re looking for mindless fun, but don’t expect it to knock you off your feet the way the original did.

REVIEW: BEOWULF

CAST

Anthony Hopkins (Westworld)
Angelina Jolie (The Changeling)
Ray Winstone (Elfie Hopkins)
Crispin Glover (Alice In Wonderland)
Robin Wright (Forrest Gump)
Sebastian Roche (The Originals)
John Malkovich (Red)
Brendan Gleeson (Troy)
Costas Mandylor (Saw V)
Dominic Keating (Heroes)
Alison Lohman (Big Fish)
Fred Tatasciore (Hulk Vs)

Set in 507, Beowulf is a legendary Geatish warrior who travels to Denmark with his band of soldiers, including his best friend, Wiglaf. They meet King Hrothgar, who needs a hero to slay Grendel (Crispin Glover), a hideously disfigured troll-like creature with superhuman strength. Grendel attacks Heorot, Hrothgar’s mead hall, whenever the Danes held a celebration, and Hrothgar has been forced to close the hall. Upon arriving, Beowulf becomes attracted to Hrothgar’s wife, Queen Wealtheow, who reciprocates his interest.Beowulf and his men celebrate in Heorot to lure Grendel out. When the beast attacks, Beowulf engages him unarmed and naked. During the fight, Beowulf discovers that Grendel has hypersensitive hearing, which is why he interrupts Hrothgar’s celebrations – the noise they make is physically painful to him. After his eardrums are ruptured by Beowulf, Grendel attempts to escape. Beowulf restrains Grendel and severs his arm with the door. In thanks for freeing his kingdom from the monster, Hrothgar gives Beowulf his golden drinking horn, which commemorates Hrothgar’s victory over the mighty dragon Fafnir.In his cave, the dying Grendel tells his mother what was done to him, and she swears revenge. She travels to Heorot and slaughters Beowulf’s men while they are sleeping. Hrothgar tells both Beowulf and Wiglaf, who had been sleeping outside the hall during the attack, that it was the work of Grendel’s mother. She is the last of the Water Demons, who were thought to have left the land. Beowulf and Wiglaf travel to the demon’s cave to slay her. Beowulf enters the cave alone and encounters the demon, who takes the form of a beautiful woman. She offers to make him the greatest king who ever lived, in exchange for a son to replace Grendel and Hrothgar’s drinking horn.Beowulf agrees to the deal and returns, claiming to have killed her. Hrothgar, however, realizes the truth. He indirectly tells Beowulf that, much like him, Hrothgar was seduced by her, and Grendel was the result of their tryst. Hrothgar crowns Beowulf king, much to the dismay of his royal advisor, Unferth, who was hoping to take the throne. Hrothgar then commits suicide by jumping from the castle parapet onto the beach below. A wave momentarily engulfs Hrothgar’s body, there is a golden flash underwater, and the body is gone.Years later, the elderly Beowulf is married to Wealtheow. Over the years they had grown apart, husband and wife in name alone. Beowulf takes a mistress, Ursula, but his tryst with Grendel’s mother has left him sterile. One day, Unferth’s slave Cain finds the golden drinking horn in a swamp near Grendel’s cave and brings it back to the kingdom. That night, a nearby village is destroyed by a dragon, which leaves Unferth alive to deliver a message to King Beowulf: the dragon is Beowulf’s son born to Grendel’s mother. Removing the horn has voided the agreement between Beowulf and Grendel’s mother, who has now sent their son, the dragon, to destroy his kingdom.Beowulf and Wiglaf go to the cave once again and Beowulf enters the cave alone. When Grendel’s mother appears, Beowulf gives her the golden horn, but she refuses to stop the attacks. The dragon flies straight towards Beowulf’s home, threatening Wealtheow and Ursula. Despite his age, Beowulf goes to great lengths to stop the monster, even severing his own arm. Eventually, he kills the dragon by ripping its heart out. A mortally wounded Beowulf watches the dragon transforming into a humanoid body and being washed out to sea. As Wiglaf approaches him, Beowulf tries to tell the truth about his affair with Grendel’s mother, but Wiglaf insists on keeping his legacy intact. Beowulf then dies.As the new king, Wiglaf gives Beowulf a Norse funeral. Grendel’s mother appears and gives Beowulf a final kiss before his burning ship sinks into the sea. Wiglaf sees the golden horn in the sand while Grendel’s mother floats in the sea, looking at him seductively. The movie ends ambiguously with Wiglaf holding the horn and staring back at her.The plot isn’t much to write home about. The acting is variable – Robin Wright-Penn is fine, Hopkins is his usual reliable self, Ray Winstone is suitably heroic as the heroic, self-aggrandising Beowulf, and Crispin Glover is just brilliant as Grendel. Grendel is a lovely creation, oozing slime and blood, and wracked with pain. It’s entertainment. And I was royally entertained.