REVIEW: HEROES – SEASON 3

Starring

Milo Ventimiglia (This Is Us)
Adrian Pasdar (Supergirl)
Jack Coleman (Spawn)
Sendhil Ramamurthy (Beauty and The Beast)
Cristine Rose (How I Met Your Mother)
Zachary Quinto (Star Trek)
Hayden Panettiere (Nashville)
James Kyson Lee (Sleepy Hollow)
Masi Oka (Get Smart)
Greg Grunberg (Alias)
Ali Larter (Final Destination)
Dania Ramirez (Mojave)

Sendhil Ramamurthy in Heroes (2006)

Recurring / Notable Guest Cast

Brea Grant (Halloween II)
Ashley Crow (Minority Report)
Željko Ivanek (X-Men: Apocalypse)
Jamie Hector (All Eyez on Me)
Ntare Mwine (Treme)
Blake Shields (The Hollow)
Robert Forster (Automata)
David H. Lawrence XVII (Lost)
Kristen Bell (The Good Place)
Randall Bentley (Upside)
Jimmy Jean-Louis (Arrow)
Malcolm McDowell (A Clockwork Orange)
Alan Blumenfeld (Pathology)
George Takei (Star Trek: TOS)
Dan Byrd (28 Days)
Francis Capra (Veronica Mars)
Noah Gray-Cabey (My Wofe and Kids)
Demetrius Grosse (The Rookie)
Lisa Lackey (Planet of The Apes)
Eric Roberts (The Finder)
Adair Tishler (Dollhouse)
Stephen Tobolowsky (Groundhog Day)
Bruce Boxleitner (Supergirl)
Loren Lester (Red Eye)
Jessalyn Gilsig (Nip/Tuck)
David Anders (Izombie)
William Katt (Carrie)
Seth Green (Family Guy)
Breckin Meyer (Garfield)
Taylor Cole (The Originals)
Aarti Mann (The BIg Bang Theory)
Justin Baldoni (Jane The Virgin)
John Glover (Smallville)
Swoosie Kurtz (Mike & Molly)
Kevin Alejandro (Arrow)
Kenneth Choi (Spider-Man: Homecoming)
Diana Scarwid (Psycho III)
Ravi Kapoor (Bones)
Edwin Hodge (Red Dawn)
Alexa Nikolas (Red State)
Cam Clarke (The Lion Guard)
Ellen Greene (Little Shop of Horrors)
Clint Howard (Apollo 13)
Michael B. Silver (Jason Goes To Hell)
Michael Dorn (Star Trek: TNG)

Hayden Panettiere and Milo Ventimiglia in Heroes (2006)I love the concept of a weekly show about people dealing with superpowers and an evil government agency coming to get them. I also really like that it doesn’t shy away from the violence, especially when it comes to the ruthless power collecting ultimate bad guy (who at times shows his good side) Sylar. What I don’t like is how scattered and uneven this show has become. I dare anyone to try and make sense out of the first half of the season titled “Villains”. The only crime committed was a lack of concern for a coherent plot. Luckily the second half of the season “Fugitives” got the show focused in and back on track. More after the jump…Masi Oka, James Kyson, and Brea Grant in Heroes (2006)The first half of the season “Villains” was advertised with big campaigns claiming that this season “Heroes will battle Villains.” I was super stoked because the way my mind pictured the structure of the show was switching the narrative focus over to the villains and showing the events through their perspective making all the good guys side characters. I realize this sounds a bit ambitious, but coming off of a lackluster sophomore season I thought the creators were pulling out all the stops. This is not what happened. Instead what came out of the first half was a jumbled, messy plot that had moments of brilliance mixed in with a heavy dose of confusion. I still was thoroughly entertained, but I’m an easy sell when it comes to anything comic book oriented.Zachary Quinto in Heroes (2006)The plot of “Villains” centers around the revelation that Arthur Petrelli is in fact alive and planning some dastardly things at Pinhearst, in his search for the catalyst (the nebulous source that gave all these characters powers). If Arthur can get his hands on the formula then he can create a whole slew of super humans to do his bidding. This is a pretty cool plot, especially when a ton of super baddies are released from Level 5 during a crisis leading to HRG and Sylar teaming up to round them up. Sylar has a lot of moral issues this season as he grapples with his true nature, is he a monster or was he programmed by the Company to be this way?Jack Coleman in Heroes (2006)There are some really fun things he gets to do this season, especially the buddy cop-esque episode where he and HRG are trying to stop a bank robbery being held up by super villains. The plot gets confusing when time travel keeps being thrown in and the actual source of the catalyst was jumbled for me. Is it Claire or Hiro’s mother or both or just a formula? I have no idea. There’s also a two-part episode where another eclipse happens and they all lose their powers. I understand why in the dramatic arc of the story this was put in, but it’s not fun to watch superheroes without powers and these two episodes dragged a bit. I liked the initial idea and towards the end the showdown with Arthur and the Petrelli boys is great, but this half loses steam here and there with just too many ideas on the table.Now comes the second half of the season “Fugitives,” which I thought was awesome! Nathan outs himself to the President as being a person with abilities and is then put in charge of rounding up all people like him in the interest of Homeland Security. Nathan’s motives are a bit sketchy, has he turned to the Dark Side or is this all a way to help Claire, or is it a way to work the system from the inside and eventually destroy it? I’m not telling, but there are a decent number of twists throughout. The reason this half of the season works so much better is because there is a clear through-line and the story is way more focused. Basically it’s the U.S. government versus everyone with abilities, as villains team with heroes and the lines of good and bad are blurred to fight a bigger enemy that threatens all their existence. It’s also a classic comic book plot that works well for a reason, because it seems realistic that this is how our government would react if living Weapons of Mass Destruction started popping up all over the country.Hayden Panettiere, James Kyson, and Brea Grant in Heroes (2006)“Fugitives” has a clear bad guy in the ruthless Agent Danko, who will stop at nothing to detain and sometimes simply destroy anyone with abilities. HRG and Angela start playing both sides and their characters have some great moments. Sylar takes a trip down memory lane to try and find out who his real parents are and some interesting new developments come up leading him down a darker path then before. And Sylar acquires his best power yet, when he kills a shape-shifter, could he be any more unstoppable? While Nathan grapples with the morals of the decisions he’s made and how to fix this manhunt he’s started. Not to mention a great deal is revealed when the gang of heroes goes to Coyote Sands to find out about a mysterious project called “Icarus” which turns out to be a concentration camp for people with abilities where some pretty bad stuff went down. Lots of action, suspense, twists, and a more focused plot makes “Fugitives” a bad ass return to form for a series that has had some ups and downs, but is still dear to my nerdcore heart.Hayden Panettiere, Masi Oka, and James Kyson in Heroes (2006)The first half of season three meandered a bit, but was still fun to watch. The second half reminded me why I started watching the show in the first place and gives a great deal of hope for season four, especially with the cliffhanger we were left with at the end of “Fugitives.” Let’s just say it won’t be politics as usual this coming season…

 

REVIEW: HEROES – SEASON 2

Starring

Milo Ventimiglia (This Is Us)
Jack Coleman (The Vampire Diaries)
Masi Oka (The Meg)
Greg Grunberg (Alias)
Adrian Pasdar (Agents of Shield)
Hayden Panettiere (I Love You, Beth Cooper)
Noah Gray-Cabey (My Wife and Kids)
Ali Larter (Obsessed)
Sendhil Ramamurthy (Beauty and The Beast)
David Anders (Izombie)
Kristen Bell (The Goood Place)
Dania Ramirez (Mojave)
Dana Davis (10 Things I Hate About You)
James Kyson Lee (Sleepy Hollow)
Zachary Quinto (Star Trek)

Masi Oka in Heroes (2006)

Recurring / Notable Guest Cast

Jimmy Jean-Louis (Arrow)
Adair Tishler (Dollhouse)
Stephen Tobolowsky (Groundhog Day)
Shalim Ortiz (Grand Hotel)
Kiernan Shipka (Chilling Adventures of Sabrina)
Nicholas D’Agosto (Gotham)
Katie Carr (A Perfect Man)
Eriko Tamura (Dragonball Evolution)
Cristine Rose (How I Met Your Mother)
Ashley Crow (Cake)
Dianna Agron (Glee)
Barry Shabaka Henley (The Terminal)
Holt McCallany (Justice League)
Lyndsy Fonseca (Agent Carter)
George Takei (Star Trek: TOS)
Dominic Keating (Star Trek: Enterprise)
Randall Bentley (Upside)
Adetokumboh M’Cormack (Lost)
Nichelle Nichols (Star Trek: TOS)
Tohoru Masamune (Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles)
Mark Christopher Lawrence (Chuck)
Alan Blumenfeld (Wargames)
Cary-Hiroyuki Tagawa (Mortal Kombat)
Elya Baskin (Spider-Man 2)
Leonard Roberts (Smallville)
Rena Sofer (Traffic)
Sabrina Perez (Terminator: TSCC)
Saemi Nakamura (The Wolverine)
Joanna Cassidy (Blade Runner)
Jaime Ray Newman (The Punisher)

David Anders and Masi Oka in Heroes (2006)Initially, I wasn’t watching Heroes when it aired on TV, though I did manage to catch the first season when it came out on video, and I was amazed. I think it did a couple of things exceptionally well. Combining the nature of a hero and villain into the framing of a comic book, it managed to capture the feeling of serialized television at a level that not many shows reach. Almost every week, you were left with a scene that made you immediately want the next seven days to go by as fast as humanly possible. Additionally, creator Tim Kring made the heroes global. While many were in America, one was located in Japan and spoke Japanese with his friend. I don’t recall a prime-time show devoting an entire storyline to one foreign-speaking character in awhile, but I don’t watch as much as others to know for sure.Katie Carr and Milo Ventimiglia in Heroes (2006)Nevertheless, Heroes has captured the hearts and minds of many, and Season Two was full of expectations following the Season One cliffhanger, where Nathan Petrelli (Adrian Pasdar, Judging Amy saved his brother Peter (Milo Ventimiglia, Rocky Balboa) from blowing up the world by grabbing him and flying the brothers into the atmosphere while Peter’s niece/Nathan’s biological daughter Claire (Hayden Panettiere, Remember The Titans) watched from below. The first episode of Season Two found the characters in many different positions. Peter was alive but severely burned. Claire was starting school in California, away from the comforts of Odessa, Texas, but under the watchful eye of her father Noah (Jack Coleman) and away from the mysterious yet diabolical “Company.” Nathan’s friend Matt Parkman (Greg Grunberg, Alias) was becoming a New York Police Detective and staying with Mohinder (Sendil Ramamurthy) while the two raised Molly (Adair Tishler, Pop Star). Niki (Ali Larter, Legally Blonde) seemed to have her power under control and has D.L. (Leonard Roberts, Drumline) and Micah (Noah Gray-Cabey, Lady in the Water) with her as well. Finally, remember that Japanese character I spoke of earlier? Well Hiro (Masi Oka, Get Smart) is in 17th century feudal Japan, wondering what it is exactly that he’s doing there. And Sylar (Zachary Quinto, Star Trek) was last seen crawling into a sewer, never to be seen again?Dania Ramirez and Shalim Ortiz in Heroes (2006)It’s from here that things get a little complicated. Kring, Executive Producer Jeph Loeb and the rest of the show’s cast and crew listen to fan feedback and truly take it to heart, and I’d be remiss to not mention Kring’s interview with Entertainment Weekly in which he seemed to creatively say “My bad!” when discussing the viewers’ reaction to the second season. Among the things discussed were the character development of new heroes and villains, which might work in other places, but not when you have an already established cast of characters. To borrow from another show for a second (specifically Lost), if the fanbase is there, you can get away with dropping in a new character or two, and bring character development along at your own pace. Do we know all there is to know about Ben’s backstory? And he’s been on the island for a couple of seasons now. The balance between keeping a new character fresh while advancing the older characters’ arcs is a challenge, but maybe virtual abandonment wasn’t the best way to go for Kring. It also didn’t help Kring that Maya and Alejandro were his version of Nikki and Paolo either. With the exception of Elle (Kristen Bell, Veronica Mars), Kring would have been better suited to keep the familiar faces more at the forefront. But hey, what’s done is done.Kristen Bell in Heroes (2006)There were other elements of the show that Kring rued over as well, but one other thing that occurred that impacted the show and was out of his control was the Writers’ Guild Strike which forced Kring to curtail the season, along with a story arc that would have had apparently significant ramifications, if the supplements on this set are any indication. The main stories for Season Two surrounded the characters’ physical and emotional states after their initial mammoth confrontation, but also for several older cast members who were being stalked and eventually eliminated by a hero with a grudge. And hovering over everyone’s heads was a virus that, if released, would have wiped out the world, as Peter finds out in a flash forward of sorts.David Anders in Heroes (2006)Upon further review, perhaps Season Two of Heroes doesn’t deserve as much scorn and ridicule as it’s received. If we were to examine the season as a living breathing figure, it would be comparing it to someone who committed murder, but in the time after the act, showed remorse for the act and the loss. When it starts to take tangible steps on the road to recovery, the townspeople put down their pitchforks and torches, but the murderer gets hit by lightning before the townspeople can accept or forgive him. As a post-script to all of this, the moral of the story appears to be that you can learn from your mistakes, and Kring debuted the Season Three episode at the 2008 Comic Con in San Diego. The show hit the ground running after nine months in creative cold storage, but there are still components of it that make revisiting Season Two a slight prerequisite, so spend the time in doing so.Eriko Tamura in Heroes (2006)One of the reasons why I devoted so many words to Heroes is that, well, there’s a lot to talk about. It’s worth revisiting Season Two not only for what happened, but for what might have been as well. The storylines are decent, and the band came back for another tour so to speak, and with this presentation you get solid technical specs and a multitude of extra material. Fans of the show should snap this up promptly.

REVIEW: X-MEN: THE LAST STAND

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CAST

Patrick Stewart (American Dad)
Hugh Jackman (Swordfish)
Ian McKellen (The Hobbit)
Halle Berry (Catwoman)
Famke Janssen (The Faculty)
James Marsden (Westworld)
Rebecca Romijn (Ugly Betty)
Anna Paquin (true Blood)
Shawn Ashmore (Earthsea)
Aaron Stanford (The Hills Have Eyes)
Daniel Cudmore (Twilight: New Moon)
Kea Wong (Snow Day)
Kelsey Grammer (Frasier)
Vinnie Jones (Mean Machine)
Ellen Page (Juno)
Ben Foster (The Punisher)
Olivia Williams (Dollhouse)
R. Lee Ermey (Full Metal Jacket)
Anthony Heald (The Silence of The Lambs)
Dania Ramirez (Heroes)
Michael Murphy (Batman Returns)
Shohreh Aghdashloo (The Adjustment Bureau)
Bill Duke (Bird on a Wire)
Eric Dane (Grey’s Anatomy)
Meiling Melançon (Rush Hour 2)
Ken Leung (Lost)
Cameron Bright (Godsend)
Stan Lee (Avengers Assemble)
Bryce Hodgson (Izombie)
Adrian Hough (The Fog)
Julian Richings (Man of Steel)
Aaron Pearl (Staragte SG.1)
Chelah Horsdal (Hell on Wheels)
John Pyper-Ferguson (Caprica)

Twenty years in the past, Professor Charles Xavier and Erik Lehnsherr meet young Jean Grey at her parents’ house to invite her to join their school, the X-Mansion. Ten years later, the industrialist father of Warren Worthington III discovers his son is a mutant as Warren tries to cut off his wings.In the present, Worthington Labs announces it has developed an inoculation to suppress the X-gene that gives mutants their abilities, and offer the “cure” to any mutant who wants it. The cure is created from the genome of a young mutant named Jimmy, who lives at the Worthington facility on Alcatraz Island. While some mutants are interested in the cure, including the X-Men’s Rogue, many others are horrified by the announcement. Lehnsherr re-establishes his Brotherhood of Mutants with those who oppose the cure, warning his followers that the cure will be forcefully used to exterminate the mutant race.With help from Pyro, Lehnsherr recruits Callisto and several other mutants. They attack the mobile prison holding Mystique to free her, also freeing Juggernaut and Multiple Man. Mystique saves Lehnsherr by taking a shot of the mutant cure aimed at him, rendering her human. Hateful of humans, Lehnsherr abandons Mystique, much to her shock. Meanwhile, Scott Summers, still distraught over the loss of his fiancée, Jean Grey, drives to her resting location at Alkali Lake. Jean appears to Summers but, as the two kiss, Jean kills him. Sensing trouble, Xavier sends Logan and Storm to investigate. When they arrive, they find only telekinetically floating rocks, Summers’ glasses, and an unconscious Jean.When they return to the X-Mansion, Xavier explains to Logan that when Jean sacrificed herself, she also freed the “Phoenix”, a dark and powerful alternate personality which Xavier had telepathically repressed, fearing the Phoenix’s destructive potential. Logan is disgusted to learn of this psychic tampering with Jean’s mind but, once she awakens, he discovers that she killed Summers and is not the Jean Grey he once knew. The Phoenix emerges, knocks out Logan, and escapes to her childhood home.Lehnsherr learns of Jean’s resurrection through Callisto, and the X-Men arrive at the Grey home at the same time as the Brotherhood. Lehnsherr and Xavier go in alone, and both vie for Jean’s loyalty until the Phoenix resurfaces. She destroys the house and disintegrates Xavier before leaving with Lehnsherr. The Brotherhood decides to strike Worthington Labs, and the government sends multiple teams to attack the Brotherhood’s base in the forest, with information gained from Mystique, furious over Lehnsherr’s betrayal. However, the life forms in the camp are all copies of Multiple Man, and Lehnsherr uses his powers to move the Golden Gate Bridge so he and his army can get to Alcatraz and facilitate the attack on Worthington Labs. The remaining X-Men confront the Brotherhood, despite being significantly outnumbered, and arrive just as the military troops who thus far have been neutralizing the attacking mutants are overwhelmed by the Brotherhood.During the fight, Kitty Pryde saves Jimmy from Juggernaut, who had been sent to kill him. Logan has Colossus throw him at Lehnsherr and distract him long enough for Hank McCoy to inject Lehnsherr with the “cure” and thus nullify his powers. Army reinforcements arrive and shoot at Jean just as Logan had calmed her down. The Phoenix is awakened by the attack and disintegrates the troops in retaliation. The Phoenix then begins to destroy Alcatraz and anyone within range of her powers. Logan realizes that only he can stop the Phoenix due to his healing factor. When Logan approaches her, Jean momentarily gains control and begs him to save her. Logan fatally stabs Jean, destroying the Phoenix, but mourns for her death.Sometime later, mutant rights are finally obtained and Xavier’s school is still operating with Storm as headmistress. The President of the United States appoints McCoy as ambassador to the United Nations. Rogue reveals to Bobby Drake that she has taken the cure, much to his disappointment. Meanwhile, Lehnsherr sits alone at a chessboard in a San Francisco park. As he gestures toward a metal chess piece, it wobbles slightly, indicating his powers to be returning and the “cure” to be temporary. In a post-credits scene, Moira MacTaggert checks on a comatose patient who greets her with Xavier’s voice, leaving her startled.Not the greatest of the X-Men films, but not too bad nonetheless. I enjoyed it, some of the action set pieces are very impressive.