REVIEW: THE PURGE – SEASON 2

The Purge (2018)

Starring

Derek Luke (13 Reasons Why)
Max Martini (The Order)
Paola Núñez (Los inadaptados)
Joel Allen (Never Goin’ Back)

Derek Luke in The Purge (2018)

Recurring /. Notable Guest Cast

Rochelle Aytes (Criminal Minds)
Connor Trinneer (Star Trek: Enterprise)
Charlotte Schweiger (Rapid Eye Movement)
Jonathan Medina (The Laundromat)
Matt Shively (Paranormal Activity 4)
Chelle Ramos (The Gifted)
Jaren Mitchell (21 Jump Street)
Danika Yarosh (Heroes Reborn)
Denzel Whitaker (Black Panther)
Christine Dunford (Love & Basketball)
Dermot Mulroney (Young Guns)
J.D. Evermore (Cloak & Dagger)
Jay Ali (Daredevil)
Rachel G. Whittle (Immortal P.I.)
Ethan Hawke (Predestination)

Max Martini in Everything Is Fine (2019)The first season of USA’s television extension of the popular (and probably eternal) The Purge franchise was little more than a rehash of the various films that had come before. The decision to stay in the franchise’s chosen lane of government-sanctioned anarchy and the annual madness that ensues during a 12-hour period makes sense; after all, the show’s producers likely wanted to avoid alienating their devoted fan base by venturing too far from what happy ticket-buyers had come to expect. That’s all set to change with season 2, however, as the series takes a much-needed turn away from the actual Purge, and finds itself with an intriguing premise that helps color a world obsessed with and largely run by its anticipation of each successive Purge.Joel Allen in Blindspots (2019)To do so, the series shifts its attention to the 364 days between Purges. That shouldn’t worry Purge fans, though, as the season premiere, ‘This is Not a Test,’ takes place in the waning hours of the most recent wave of anarchy, introducing a new crop of characters, notably (the always fantastic) Derek Luke as Marcus Moore, a doctor who finds his expensive anti-Purge security system circumvented by a masked intruder trying to kill him and his wife Michelle (Rochelle Aytes).Rachel G. Whittle in The Purge (2018)Like season 1, the story is sprawling, and tells a number of parallel, sometimes overlapping stories, only this time, it works to bring something new to the table. This time the series includes a couple of frat bros, Ben (Joel Allen) and his cowardly buddy played by Matt Shively, who make the mistake of venturing out on Purge night in order to go full Logan Paul and snag photos of people who’ve taken their own lives under a suicide bridge. At the same time the fraternity brothers’ excursion turns elaborately violent, when Ben falls into the trap of a Purger in a white mask with ‘God’ scrawled on the forehead, a group of high-tech thieves are robbing a bank, only to be caught unawares by a group of Jackals (i.e., thieves who steal from thieves on Purge night). The standoff between the two groups puts them all in a time crunch, as Purge rules state anyone still in the process of committing a crime when the bell sounds will be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law. This puts team leader Ryan Grant (Max Martini) in a bind when his reckless teammate risks being in violation of the rules for some extra cash.Before the Sirens (2019)This time, The Purge also introduces Esme Carmona (Paola Nuñez), a security professional who monitors activity during and after the Purge, to seek out violators and keep those whose governmental rank is high enough to make it illegal for any harm to come to them during those chaotic 12 hours. At first, this seems like an extension of the franchise’s behind-the-scenes look at the confounding bureaucracy that helped create and implement something as ridiculous and disturbing as the Purge, but, like all the other storylines, it soon reveals itself to be fundamentally different than what’s come before. That is mostly due to the fact that these characters will soon be abiding by the laws that govern society during the other 364 days of the year, and will do so in the direct aftermath of the bedlam they’ve either witnessed, participated in, or were the victim of just hours earlier.Before the Sirens (2019)The shift effectively creates a brave new world for The Purge franchise, one where the writers are given a chance to more fully explore the consequences of that single 12-hour period, and to draw a more complete picture of a world that has effectively become addicted to the lawlessness of a single night. And by placing its narrative and characters in a society still mostly governed by laws that more closely resemble the world viewers recognize, the series must rewrite its own rule book. As it turns out, doing so results in a clever reinvention of the franchise, one that’s reinforced by some strong performances – particularly Luke’s, as Marcus discovers there’s more to his Purge nightmare than meets the eye.Still of Alexa Ketchum, Lacy Hartselle, Raquel Ascension in The PurgeSeason 2 seems particularly interested in examining how the Purge’s sanctioned violence and criminality only begets more violence and criminality. That might threaten to turn the series into Purge Preppers, were it not for examples of how the world has become increasingly unfazed by the Purge, and how the population have either become numbed to its violence and lawlessness (unless it impacts them directly) or, worse, are inspired to take to streets and participate. It’s a positive sign that, of the episodes made available to critics ahead of time, The Purge appears committed to using its time away from the Purge to more fully consider the world it has created.If nothing else, The Purge season 2 offers welcome new spin on the long-running franchise, one that has the potential to venture down avenues always hinted at but never explored. It may be overdue for a franchise that has largely stuck to a single successful formula (and who can blame them?), but better late than never.

 

REVIEW: HEROES REBORN

CAST
Jack Coleman (Kingdom Hospital)
Zachary Levi (Thor: The Dark World)
Robbie Kay (In Bruges)
Danika Yarosh (Shameless USA)
Kiki Sukezane (Death Yankees 2)
Ryan Guzman (Pretty Little Liars)
Rya Kihlstedt (Deep Impact)
Gatlin Green (Criminal Minds)
Henry Zebrowski (The Wolf of Wall Street)
Judith Shekoni (Garfield 2)

RECURRING / NOTABLE GUEST CAST

Toru Uchikado (Underdogs: Rising)
Jimmy Jean-Louis (Arrow)
Krista Bridges (Narc)
Pruitt Taylor Vince (Identity)
Jake Manley (The Order)
Carlos Lacamara (The Mexican)
Francesca Eastwood (Outlaws and Angels)
Hiro Kanagawa (Caprica)
Eve Harlow (Jennifer’s Body)
Clé Bennett (The Tick)
Nazneen Contractor (Star Trek Into Darkness)
Dylan Bruce (Orphan Black)
Tammy Isbell (Bitten)
Sendhil Ramamurthy (Beauty and The Beast)
Masi Oka (Get Smart)
Michael Therriault (Reign)
Cristine Rose (How I Met Your Mother)
Greg Grunberg (Alias)
Ari Cohen (Smallville)
Nesta Cooper (See)
Lucius Hoyos (What If)
Sara Mitich (The Expanse)
Rachael Ancheril (Star Trek: Discovery)

A year ago, a terrorist attack in Odessa, Texas, left the city decimated. Blamed for the tragic event, those with extraordinary abilities are in hiding or on the run from those with nefarious motives.

Tim Kring pulled off a minor miracle, reviving the Heroes franchise after it sank so far during its first four seasons. In those seasons, there were elements of each that I really liked, but the overall story quality seemed to become more disconnected and surreal. Heroes truly has been reborn.

Kring and the Heroes crew have revived a universe of mystery and wonder. These people–these “evos”–do things that no human body could physically do, like the miracles of old. It gives us hope. They call them “evolved ones” or “evos,” but there is something wonderfully spiritual about this. We have new characters, new abilities, new mysteries and new challenges. I call it a “minor miracle,” because the hot potential Kring originally created, was always there, heavily squandered in seasons 3 and 4. Here, I like what they’ve done. I’m enjoying these new friends and enemies. I especially like how they portray the enemy as unknowingly selfish and arrogant, but who also accuse others of being selfish for wanting to save their own lives. There is so much of that going on in the American government these days, as it did in Nazi Germany nearly a century ago. The parallels are chilling. Yet, the promise of the heroes is gratifying.

The fact that Earth’s magnetic field goes to zero and leaves the planet vulnerable to a violent, civilization-ending solar storm, is a wonderfully solid scenario — far better than the “2012” film’s neutrino absorption nonsense. It reminds me of the wonderfully upside-down deliciousness perpetrated by the UN, NASA, governments and the Corporate mainstream media — turning science into a popularity circus (“consensus”) and stifling debate with cute catch phrases like “settled science” and “deniers,” all the while distracting people from the real horror story that Global Cooling is bad and Global Warming is good. Why? Because we’re in an Ice Age. When the Holocene ends, 7+ Billion people will be in jeopardy, just as they are in this mini-series. Art mimicking reality, despite all the propaganda to keep us from seeing that reality. Nice when entertainment can wake some people up, instead of making them brain dead. The show has some flaws but all in all its a decent mini series with the only problem being the cliffhanger ending knowing that this is just a one off season.

REVIEW: THE STEPFORD WIVES (2004)

CAST
Nicole Kidman (Australia)
Bette Midler (Hocus Pocus)
Matthew Broderick (Election)
Glenn Close (Guardians of The Galaxy)
Christopher Walken (The Prophecy)
Jon Lovitz (The Simpsons)
Carrie Preston (Doubt)
Danika Yarosh (Heores Reborn)
Joanna Eberhart (Nicole Kidman) is a successful reality television executive producer. She is fired after her latest project, a show called I Can Do Better, where spouses choose between each other or prostitutes, results in one of the jilted men going on a shooting spree and attempts to assassinate Joanna, and she has a nervous breakdown. With her husband Walter (Matthew Broderick) and their two children, they move from Manhattan to Stepford, a quiet Connecticut suburb. Joanna becomes friends with Bobbie Markowitz (Bette Midler), a writer and recovering alcoholic, and Roger Bannister (Roger Bart), a flamboyant gay man who has moved to town with his long-time partner, Jerry (David Marshall Grant). Joanna, Bobbie and Roger witness an incident in which Sarah Sunderson (Faith Hill), violently dances and then collapses. A man named Mike (Christopher Walken) arrives and directs all men to crowd around Sarah so that no one can see what’s going on, although Joanna sees Mike touch Sarah and she puts off sparks. After Sarah is carried away, Claire (Glenn Close), the town’s leading lady, announces to Joanna that Mike essentially runs Stepford and says that she’s his wife.
Joanna argues with Walter about the incident with Sarah until he loses his temper and yells at her. He tells her that her children barely know her, that their marriage is falling apart, and that she’s so domineering people literally want to kill her. Realizing how unhappy she is, Joanna apologizes and agrees to try and fit in with the other wives. The next day, as she cleans the house and tries wearing more make-up, she talks with Bobbie and Roger, and they decide to visit Sarah. Entering the house, they hear Sarah having loud, passionate sex with her husband. Roger starts tiptoeing up the stairs to have a peek, and the women follow until they hear someone suddenly walking out of the room. They quickly return downstairs to hide, and they find a remote control labeled SARAH. While playing with it, they inadvertently cause Sarah’s breasts to enlarge before she falls on the staircase behind them. Frightened, they retreat to Bobbie’s house, where Joanna suggests that they seriously try to live in Stepford. During this time, the Stepford women appear extremely vapid and shallow; in the Stepford book club, their story is a catalogue of Christmas and Chanukah collectibles and decoration tips. Meanwhile, Walter has been bonding with the Stepford Men’s Association. When he wins $20 in a game from Ted, one of the Stepford Husbands, Ted summons his wife and puts a credit card in her mouth. She spits out $20 in one-dollar bills, revealing that she is a robot like the other women.
One evening, Walter and Mr Markowitz go to the Men’s Association with Roger and Jerry, but Joanna and Bobbie hire a babysitter and follow them. Sneaking around the Men’s Association, they find a long line of family portraits. They make a noise and Roger is sent out to see what’s going on. Although he does not reveal their presence to the other men, he tells Joanna and Bobbie that nothing illegal is going on there, and Joanna and Bobbie leave. Roger is directed through a door and he finds himself on a balcony overlooking the main hall. Looking down, he sees something puzzling, turns to the camera and softly utters “Jerry?” The next day, he is completely transformed, running for State Senate as a conservative gay Republican.
Terrified, Joanna tells Walter that she wants to move. Walter apologizes, saying that if she’s so miserable, they can leave tomorrow. She thanks him. That night, she is awakened by their robotic dog bringing her a bone. She is horrified to find that it’s actually a remote control, like Sarah’s but labeled JOANNA. She goes online to research the women of Stepford and learns that the women used to be scientists, CEOs, engineers and judges. The next morning she runs to see Bobbie, only to find that she, too, has become fawning and stupid. Joanna realizes that Bobbie isn’t human any more when Bobbie fails to react to the open flame of a lit stove. Joanna tries to flee but finds that her children have been taken hostage by the men.
She storms into the Men’s Club demanding that the men return her children, but the men, who have been lying in wait for her, capture her. The men explain that when their wives were scientists and engineers, their wives reduced them to low-level support roles. Enraged, the men implanted microchips into their wives’ brains and then transplanted their minds into cloned bodies, which became the men’s patient, subservient and impossibly beautiful robot mistresses. As Mike reveals Joanna’s new body, Walter voices his frustration at being second best to her. The men corner Joanna and Walter and force them toward the transformation room, but before Joanna enters, she makes a final appeal by asking whether the new wives really mean it when they tell their husbands that they love them. Later, Joanna appears at the grocery store, calmly purchasing groceries alongside the other wives.
With Joanna and Walter as the guests of honor, Stepford hosts a formal ball. During the festivities, Joanna distracts Mike and entices him into the garden while Walter slips away. Walter returns to the transformation room where he destroys the software that makes the women obedient. This in turn burns out all the implanted microchips, causing all the Stepford Wives to revert to their original personalities. Walter returns to the ball, where the baffled husbands are cornered by their vengeful wives. Walter reveals that Joanna never received the microchip implant; her argument during the struggle had won him over, and out of his love for and loyalty to the human being he married, he joined her plan to infiltrate Stepford by pretending to be a robot. Mike threatens Walter, but before Mike can attack, Joanna hits Mike with a candlestick, decapitating him and revealing that he himself is a robot. It is revealed that his wife Claire is a real woman and not a Stepford Wife as implied earlier. Distraught over the loss of her husband, Claire explains that she created Stepford because she, too, was a bitter, career-minded woman, a tired brain surgeon. When she discovered that Mike was having an affair, she murdered him and his lover in a jealous rage. Deciding to make the world ‘more beautiful’, she created her robot husband, partly because he was someone other men would listen to. When Joanna wonders aloud why Claire didn’t simply make the men into robots, she replies that she planned to turn the whole community into robots. Claire then electrocutes herself by kissing Mike’s severed robotic head.
Six months later Larry King is interviewing Joanna, Bobbie, and Roger. After their experiences in Stepford, they have all met with success; Joanna made a documentary, Bobbie wrote a book of poetry, and Roger won his state senate seat as an Independent. Joanna also notes that while her and Walter’s relationship isn’t perfect, it is still real, and that is what is important. Before ending the interview, King asks about the men’s fate. Bobbie reveals that they are being retrained back in Connecticut. The closing scene of the film reveals that the irate wives have taken over Stepford and forced their husbands to atone for their crimes by placing them under house arrest, making them complete many of the same domestic tasks that the men had forced the women to do.
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The remake is more comedic and a more docile to a serious subject matter, its rather clumsy romance-comedy that does nothing to surpass the original. Its entertaining but it quickly fades when compared to the brilliance of the original film. It’s not an awful remake but its nothing special either.