REVIEW: AGE OF HEROES

CAST

Sean Bean (Game of Thrones)
Danny Dyer (Severance)
Aksel hennie (The Martian)
Izabella Miko (Clash of The Titans)
James D’Arcy (Agent Carter)
William Houston (Dracula Untold)

The film follows the exploits of Corporal Bob Rains (Danny Dyer) as he is inducted into the newly formed 30 Commando unit in the Second World War, after being freed from a war prison for cowardice and striking an officer during operations in France. Rains and the rest of the platoon are put through intensive training under the watchful eye of Major Jack Jones (Sean Bean), where their skills and endurance are pushed to the limit as they prepare for their first highly classified and dangerous mission: to parachute into occupied Norway and capture new radar technology from the Germans which could change the outcome of the war.The newly formed band of brothers are joined in their task by Norwegian immigrant Steinar Mortensen (Aksel Hennie), now a US Marine Lieutenant with vital knowledge of the terrain, and beautiful spy Jensen (Izabella Miko). All their lethal commando skills are put to the test as they attempt to escape fierce gun battles and attain the German radar technology. The mission objective bears much resemblance to Operation Biting. Their plan is thrown into crisis when their extraction is delayed and they must fight their way to the border of Sweden. With the Nazis desperate to hunt them down and stop them, the commandos realise how important their mission is to the war effort.After a long trek in the snow, the commandos try to resupply by returning to a previously visited farm. Its inhabitants had been shot by German units after they refused to collaborate with them. To make things worse, the Germans catch up with them at the farm, bringing the one commando captured alive during the earlier fire fight. The Germans urge the commandos’ surrender in exchange for the life of their captured comrade. The commandos refuse, and instead open fire on the Germans. Jensen and radar specialist Roger Rollright are ordered to make a run for the Swedish border, while the rest of the commandos provide cover for them.Major Jones realizes that there are too many German soldiers pouring into the fire fight. He orders Rains and Steinar to run for the border, while two others stay to cover them. Those who remain at the farm are last seen firing on and suppressing the Germans. The Germans catch up to Rains and Steinar retreating; Steinar is shot and killed. Out of ammunition, and with several enemy soldiers advancing on him, Rains prepares to cut his own throat. But before doing so, Jensen and Rollright kill the two Germans, thus enabling them to escape overland to Sweden. The last scene shows the two surviving team members and Jensen standing on a hill looking down into a snow-covered valley that leads to Sweden.Unfortunately as it nears towards the end, the story seems to have been “chopped off” with a somewhat quick ending to a nicely built up story. I believe this could have been better done with a proper ending to the story.

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REVIEW: STRAIGHTHEADS (AKA CLOSURE)

CAST

Gillian Anderson (Hannibal)
Danny Dyer (Severance)
Anthony Calf (Dead Cool)
Francesca Fowler (The Golden Hour)
Ralph Brown (Alien 3)
Steven Robertson (Kingdom of Heaven)

Adam, a 23-year-old self-employed security technician, is hired by a businesswoman, Alice Comfort, to set up a security system in her flat. After finishing the work, Adam falls asleep on a lawnchair on her roof-garden. When Alice arrives home and finds him there, she impulsively asks him to accompany her to a housewarming party for her boss. He is unsure, but eventually agrees. After a drive, Alice and Adam arrive at the party. Alice leaves Adam to speak to some people at the party. Adam leaves the house, feeling out of place. Alice later finds Adam outside in the grounds, then leads him into some woods and they have sex.On the way home from the party, Alice and Adam are caught behind a slow-moving vehicle, which Alice frustratedly overtakes whilst Adam shouts out an obscenity at the driver. Shortly thereafter, Alice is distracted from driving and accidentally hits a stag. She brings the car to a stop, and they drag the stag off the road. While they are moving it, the car that Alice had earlier overtaken pulls up behind Alice’s car. Three men get out, badly beat Adam and then rape Alice. A month passes, during which Adam and Alice physically heal – the only reminder of the attack being an eyepatch that Adam must wear to protect an eye wound he received during the beating – but both remain emotionally wounded. Upon returning to work, Alice receives notification that, while she was hospitalized following her rape, her father died. Alice drives out to his country estate to put his affairs in order, where she discovers a locked chest that she recognizes from her childhood. On the way home, she passes by a group of riders on horseback, one of whom she recognizes as having raped her. She gets his name – Heffer – from one of the other riders.hqdefaultAlice then contacts Adam, and he makes his way to Alice’s father’s house where she tells him that she’s found one of the men responsible for attacking them. Alice shows Adam the contents of her father’s locked chest: a sniper rifle and silencer that her father apparently smuggled home after being discharged from the army. Alice then tells Adam that she intends to avenge herself against Heffer. Adam and Alice move into Alice’s father’s home, and spend their days practising shooting with the rifle. After they have become proficient with it, they take a trip out to the edge of Heffer’s land and begin plotting the best way to kill him. During their reconnaissance, they learn that Heffer has a dog on his property, which barks whenever they approach the house. Alice shoots the dog, then makes Adam collect its body so that they can dispose of it. A moment later, Heffer comes outside looking for the dog; Alice is preparing to shoot him when a young woman (later identified as Heffer’s daughter, Sophie) comes out of the house to help find the dog. Alice and Adam, disturbed by seeing their attacker as a human being, return home.28085-StraightheadsOver the next several days Alice and Adam try to determine if they should follow through with their plan. Adam, who has been impotent since the attack, steadily becomes more aggressive and committed to the idea of murdering Heffer. Alice, however, has grown reluctant to kill Heffer now that she has seen him in a human context; instead, she sends Adam to clandestinely set up security equipment in Heffer’s house in an attempt to determine the identities and locations of his friends who participated in the gang-rape. Adam succeeds in breaking into Heffer’s house, where he learns that Heffer is the submissive party in his relationship with the other attackers. In need of money, they have decided to blackmail Heffer with their knowledge of the rape, forcing him to give them money in exchange for not anonymously tipping off the police as to his identity.MCDSTRA EC042Adam, seeking a means of escape, ends up in Sophie’s room; initially, he merely attempts to keep her quiet so that he can get out of the house, but he has a sudden fit of rage and begins raping her. In the middle of the attack, she escapes from his grasp, and Adam returns home, able to maintain an erection for the first time since the attack. He and Alice begin to have sex, but when he starts to become too rough with her she throws him off. Adam leaves the house and heads out into the woods.The next day, Alice uses a laptop computer that controls the security cameras and watches Heffer in his house. She quickly realises his intention is to kill himself and after grabbing the rifle she drives over, and stops her car just in front of a garage upon hearing a car horn sounding. Alice gets inside the garage and finds Heffer, sitting in his running car, attempting to kill himself with carbon monoxide poisoning. Alice gets Heffer out of the car and into fresh air, saving his life; once he regains consciousness, she helps him back into his house. In the midst of a delirium from the carbon monoxide, Heffer—who doesn’t recognize Alice—confesses that, a month ago, his friends voiced their intentions to rape his daughter, but that he convinced them to rape and beat a woman and her friend in the middle of the road instead.28085-StraightheadsJust then, Alice and Heffer hear Adam calling from outside, and Heffer suddenly turns violent, grabbing her roughly but Alice hits him and frees herself. Adam then bursts into the house, beats Heffer, duct-tapes him to the kitchen table, and holds him down while Alice sodomizes him with the barrel of the rifle that she has fetched from her car; once she is finished, she prepares to kill him, but now feeling pity for him because of the circumstances surrounding the rape, she decides not to pull the trigger. Adam, infuriated, takes out a hunting knife and carves out Heffer’s eye. Horrified, Alice runs away; driving back to her father’s home, Alice spots Sophie hitch-hiking, and invites her into her car. When Sophie realizes she isn’t being taken home, she asks Alice where they’re headed; Alice replies, “Somewhere safe.” Back at Heffer’s house, Adam taunts Heffer until he hears a car pulling up; as one of the attackers approaches the house, Adam fatally shoots him in the head before pursuing the remaining attacker through the grounds of Heffer’s house. Adam shoots him in the leg as he flees, causing him to fall to the ground. Adam then approaches the wounded man and bludgeons him to death with the butt of the rifle. In the final shot of the film, Adam walks away from his final victim and approaches the screen for a close up shot. He effectively breaks the fourth wall by glancing at the audience – leaving the viewer to reflect on the violent act of revenge Adam has committed.hqdefaultAnderson and Dyer give brilliant, understated performances, who undergo a real journey in the course of the film. They are ably supported by the rest of the cast. A pertinent film, that deserves viewing.

REVIEW: HIGHLANDER: THE SERIES – SEASON 1-6

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MAIN CAST

Adrian Paul (Eyeborgs)
Alexander Vandernoot (Pret-A-Porter)
Stan Kirsch (Shallow Ground)
Amanda Wyss (A Nightmare On Elm Street)
Elizabeth Gracen (Death of The Incredible Hulk)
Jim Byrnes (Sanctuary)
Philip Akin (Robocop 2014)
Michel Modo (My Father’s Glory)
Lisa Howard (Earth: Final Conflict)
Peter Wingfield (Caprica)

RECURRRING / NOTABLE GUEST CAST

Christopher Lambert (Fortress)
Richard Moll (Scary Movie 2)
Wendell Wright (Power Rangers Wild Force)
Peter Deluise (21 Jump Street)
Matthew Walker (Andromeda)
Soon-Tek Oh (Mulan)
Vincent Schiavelli (Buffy)
John Novak (Wishmaster 3 & 4)
Garry Chalk (Dark Angel)
Joan Jett (The Sweet Life)
Gary Jones (Stargate SG.1)
Wes Studi (Mystery Men)
Marc Singer (V)
Brent Stait (Andromeda)
Joe Pantoliano (The Matrix)
Stephen Macht (Galaxina)
Scott McNeil (Beast Wars)
Vanity (52 Pick-Up)
J.G. Hertzler (Star Trek: DS9)
Tom Butler (Freddy vs Jason)
Werner Stocker (The White Rose)
Peter Howitt (Defying Gravity)
Roland Gift (Brakes)
Dee Dee Bridgewater (Another Life)
Jason Isaacs (Peter Pan)
Nigel Terry (Troy)
Anthoyn Head (Buffy)
Marion Cotillard (Contagion)
Peter Guinness (Alien 3)
Roger Daltrey (Tommy)
Peter Hudson (Hitman)
Michael Shanks (Stargate SG.1)
Cameron Bancroft (Legends of Tomorrow)
Douglas Arthurs (Stargate SG.1)
J.H. Wyman (Sirens)
Geraint Wyn Davies (Cube 2)
Traci Lords (Zack & Miri Make a Porno)
Andrew Jackson (Earth: Final Conflict)
Kendall Cross (Caprica)
Sheena Easton (Young Blades)
Don S. Davis (Stargate SG.1)
Robert Wisden (Watchmen)
Mitchell Kosterman (Smallville)
Dan Castellaneta (The Simpsons)
Robert Ito (Quincy M.E.)
Dustin Nguyen (21 Jump Street)
Bruce A. Young (Jurassic PArk III)
Andrea Roth (Ringer)
Roddy Piper (They Live)
Bill Dow (Stargate Atlantis)
Gabrielle Miller (Down River)
Bruce Weitz (Hill Street Blues)
Nicholas Lea (V)
Lochlyn Munro (Little Man)
Jonathan Banks (The Lizzie Borden Chronicles)
Ed Lauter (The Number 23)
Roark Critchlow (V)
Jeremy Brudenell (Wish Me Luck)
Peter Firth (Victoria)
Angeline Ball (My Girl 2)
Nia Peeples (Pretty Little Liars)
James Faulkner (X-Men: First Class)
Nadia Cameron-Blakey (Batman Begins)
Emile Abossolo M’bo (Hitman)
Martin Cummins (Bates Motel)
Stephen McHattie (300)
Tamlyn Tomita (Heroes)
Hiro Kanagawa (Heroes Reborn)
Randall Cobb (Liar Liar)
Chandra West (White Noise)
Brion James (Blade Runner)
Jason Gray-Stanford (Bones)
Alan Scarfe (Andromeda)
John Pyper-Ferguson (Caprica)
Myles Ferguson (Little Criminals)
Jesse Moss (Ginger Snaps)
Sherry Miller (Bitten)
Laura Harris (Dead Like me)
Garwin Sanford (Stargate SG.1)
Anthony De Longis (Masters of The Universe)
Vincent Gale (Van Helsing)
Tamara Gorski (Hercules: TLJ)
Stella Stevens (General Hospital)
Barry Pepper (The Green Mile)
Vivan Wu (Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles III)
Richard Lynch (Puppet Master III)
Eugene Lipinski (Arrow)
David Robb (Downtown Abbey)
Lynda Boyd (Sanctuary)
Kim Johnston Ulrich (3rd Rock From The Sun)
Ben Pullen (Elizabeth I)
Paudge Behan (Veronica Guerin)
Carsten Norgaard (Alien vs Predator)
Anna Hagen (The Messengers)
Laurie Holden (the Walking Dead)
Gerard Plunkett (Sucker Punch)
Kristin Minter (Home Alone)
Wolfgang Bodison (A Few Good Men)
Pruitt Taylor Vince (Heroes Reborn)
Callum Keith Rennie (Flashforward)
Louis Ferreira (Stargate Universe)
Travis MacDonald (Warcraft)
Venus Terzo (Arrow)
Rachel Hayward (Jingle All The Way 2)
Nicholas Campbell (Da Vinci’s Inquest)
Peter Outerbridge (Beauty and the Beast)
Jill Teed (Battlestar Galactica)
Molly Parker (Deadwood)
Emmanuelle Vaugier (Two and a Half men )
Ann Turkel (The Fear)
Ron Halder (Stargate Sg.1)
Ocean Hellman (Voyage of The Unicorn)
Rae Dawn Chong (Commando)
Carl Chase (Batman)
Michael J. Jackson (Coronation Street)
Ricco Ross (Wishmaster)
Peta Wilson (La Femme Nikita)
Jamie Harris (Agents of Shield)
Crispin Bonham-Carter (Basil)
Stephen Tremblay (Unnatural Pursuits)
Jesse Joe Walsh (JCVD)
Tracy Scoggins (Lois & Clark)
Real Andrews (Born on The 4th of July)
Eric McCormack (Will & Grace)
Ian Tracey (Bates Motel)
Michael Kopsa (Dark Angel)
Alastair Duncan (The Batman)
Sandra Bernhard (2 Broke Girls)
April Telek (Walking Tall)
Andrew Divoff (Wishmaster)
Steve Bacic (Andromeda)
Kira Clavell (Ninja Turtles: Next Mutation)
Ron Perlman (Hellboy)
Peter Hanlon (Scary Movie)
Musetta Vander (Stargate SG.1)
Valetnine Pelka (8mm 2)
Sonja Codhant (Navarro)
Jonathan Firth (Withering Heights)
Danny Dyer (Severance)
Rachel Shelley (The L Word)
Alexis Denisof (Angel)
Anita Dobson (Eastenders)
Jasper Britton (The New World)
Alice Evans (The Originals)
Andrew Bricknell (Victoria)
Justina Vail (Seven Days)
Sandra Hess (Encino Man)
Claudia Christian (Babylon 5)
Jack Ellis (Bad Girls)
Paris Jefferson (Xena)_
Martin McDougall (Batman Begins)

Few television series’ that are based on movies live up to the original version, either because they simply don’t have right qualities that made the movie great or they the people making the show just don’t give a damn. “Highlander: The Series”, however, is one of those rare exceptions.

Image result for highlander the seriesBased off of the original 1986 fan favorite and produced by same the executive producers William Panzer and Peter Davis, it continued the saga of the immortals, a race of beings destined to fight one another in sword fights in a centuries long event called the game and who can only be killed by decapitation, with the opponent taking their head and their power. In particular, the show centers around one such immortal named Duncan Macleod (Adrian Paul in his best role) of the Clan Macleod, a descendant of Connor Macleod (Christopher Lambert who reprises his role for the pilot) from the first film.Image result for highlander the seriesBorn in the highlands of Scotland in 1592, Duncan has roamed the world for 400 years, seen many different events, and has fought in many different wars and many battles with other immortals. And that last part is one of the things that made the show great. You could count on almost every episode to feature a spectacular sword fight with the villain of the week, a battle of life and death, with Duncan Macleod emerging victorious from yet another trying ordeal and even more spectacular quickening.

Image result for highlander the seriesBased on that, you might expect a show centering on such a plot to become boring or same old, same old, and the show might very well have become so. But, the truth is the show managed to constantly entertain and thrill for most of its run in large part because of the talent the show had. Adrian Paul was more than capable of carrying a show, bringing not only charm and charisma to the role of Duncan but also a strong sense of honor and chivalry, thus making Duncan Macleod one of the great television heroes.Image result for highlander the seriesBut it wasn’t just Adrian’s acting that made the show great; it was also due to the well blending of strong supporting actors, guest stars and villains, writers, and set designers and directors. You had Richie Ryan (Stan Kirsch), a young man who becomes a part of Duncan’s world in a way he never imagined. Joe Dawson (Jim Byrnes) a member of a secret society of mortals called the Watchers who dedicate themselves to watching and recording the deeds and actions of the immortals; the always enjoyable Methos (the wonderfully charismatic Peter Wingfield), a 5,000 year old immortal and the oldest living of his kind; Amanda (Elizabeth Grace), an immortal who’s had an on again, off again relationship with Duncan throughout the ages and who’s not put off by an occasional high-value heist or two to make a living, and a slew of guest stars, villains and other supporting actors that added to the show every week.Image result for highlander the seriesPlus, one must also give credit to behind the scenes people, who not only managed to make things interesting in the present, but the past as well. Every episode featured dazzling historical flashbacks, flashbacks that were so good there isn’t one where you didn’t believe the characters weren’t where the show said they were, be it World War I France or British Colonial India (these flashbacks are even more remarkable when you consider the fact that the show, because it was syndicated, had a much smaller budget than shows tied directly to a network). It was also a show that, like the original film, caused the viewer to wonder what would it be like to live indefinitely and witness the changing of the times? What kind of person would you become if you witnessed your time, your religion, possibly even your entire culture disappear into the mists of time?Image result for highlander the seriesAll this must be credited to the writers, led by creative consultant David Abramowitz, who had a lot to do with the magic of the show. Not to say, of course, that weren’t imperfections; some episodes dragged, and one or two of them were pretty bad (the episode “The Zone” is a good example of this), not to mention the fact that the show badly lost steam in the last season, a thing that tends to happen to most shows in the end. However, that being said, the show did far more for the Highlander franchise than any of the sequels ever did. For that reason, it’s a show that all fans of action and fantasy should check out.

REVIEW: SEVERANCE

CAST
Danny Dyer (Straightheads)
Laura Harris (Dead Like Me)
Tim McInnerny (Notting Hill)
Toby Stephens (The Machine)
Claudie Blakeley (Gosford Park)
Andy Nyman (Black Death)
The film opens with George (David Gilliam) and two women (Juli Drajkó and Judit Viktor) running through the woods. The women fall into a large pit trap while George is caught by a snare. As he hangs helplessly, a masked man approaches and disembowels him with a knife.
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What is later revealed as some days prior to this, the European Sales division of Palisade Defence military arms corporation are on a bus to a team-building weekend at a “luxury lodge” in the Mátra Mountains of Hungary. When a fallen tree blocking the road halts the bus’s progress, the driver (Sándor Boros) refuses to take a dirt road through the woods and, after an argument, drives off leaving the group to walk the remaining distance to the lodge. Eventually the group reaches the lodge, which is old and in serious disrepair, but the manager Richard (Tim McInnerny) convinces the wary but tired group to enter. Inside, Harris (Toby Stephens) discovers a file cabinet full of cryptic Palisade documents, written in Russian. The group discusses the documents, leading Harris to relate a story he’d heard about the lodge: the lodge was previously a mental institution, and in the early 20th century a Palisade-made nerve gas was used to clear it out after the inmates took over. Jill (Claudie Blakley) responds with the story she’d heard: the lodge was a “reeducation center” for Russian war criminals, and after an escape a Palisade-made nerve gas was used to clear escapees out of nearby buildings. Both mention a lone survivor who swore revenge on Palisade. Steve (Danny Dyer) starts to tell his own story about the lodge’s past as a clinic staffed by busty nurses when he finds a human tooth in the meat pie the group is eating for dinner. Chastising Gordon (Andy Nyman) for serving a pie he just found in the kitchen, everyone goes to bed.
 That night Jill sees someone looking into the lodge from the trees. Though nobody is found outside, everyone but Richard agrees that they should leave the lodge. The next morning Richard grudgingly sends Harris and Jill to the top of the hill to call the bus driver back, on the condition that the rest participate in a team-building game of paintball. Reaching the hill, Harris and Jill find the bus abandoned and the bus driver dead in a nearby creek. Back at the lodge, the game of paintball has just finished when Gordon steps into a bear trap. After several failed attempts by Steve and Billy (Babou Ceesayu) to pry the trap open, Gordon’s left leg is cut through completely under the knee. Harris and Jill arrive in the bus, load everyone in and head back for town. On the way, a spike strip is thrown in front of the bus, which causes it to crash. Harris is thrown clear of the bus in the crash, and is decapitated by a masked killer with a machete. Jill is captured and tied to a tree, then gagged, doused with gasoline and burned alive. The rest discover Harris’s body, prompting them to head for the lodge to hide for the night.
 While Steve and Maggie (Laura Harris) smoke, a masked figure (Levente Törköly) “quietly” grabs Gordon and carries him into the basement. Discovering Gordon’s absence and a newly opened door, the four head into the basement which leads to an underground prison. Through one door Billy and Maggie find the now-dead Gordon who has had the Palisade logo carved into his torso and a now-unmasked killer who fires a shotgun at them. The two hide in a nearby cell, where Billy dies from a chest wound. Steve hides on the second floor while Richard escapes out the back into the woods. While the killer searches for Steve, Maggie sneaks up on him with a large knife she took from the prison in the basement, but she falls through the rickety floor. The killer turns round and takes aim at Maggie, but, at the last second, Steve saves her by impaling the killer through the back. The killer falls down and becomes lodged in the main level floor, and Maggie takes his shotgun and shoots the killer in the head.
 Maggie and Steve exit the lodge believing they are safe, but discover that a group of several more armed, Russian-speaking killers are awaiting them outside. Maggie shoots one before he can fire on them, and the two run into the woods. They come across Richard, who has stepped on a Palisade-made land mine and cannot move without detonating it. Richard guides Maggie and Steve through the minefield. The killers know that the area is a minefield and do not enter; they use a fallen branch to pass over the minefield close to Richard and torment him with insults and stones as they pass overhead. Accepting his situation Richard does his best to save the others and steps off the mine, blowing up himself along with two of the killers. Steve and Maggie come to another lodge, the real Palisade lodge. Inside they find their boss George, who is partying with two escorts Steve ordered via the Internet earlier. George brings out a prototype missile launcher and fires it at the approaching killers, but the missile locks on to a passing commercial jet instead, destroying it. The five run into the woods, leading to the events shown in the beginning of the film. Maggie is snared, then about to be molested by a killer, but manages to smash his head with a rock. Steve encounters two attackers and gets beaten and stabbed, but eventually kills them both with a knife and a submachine gun. Maggie is chased by a flamethrower-wielding killer into an abandoned prison camp, filled with crates bearing the Palisade logo. There, Maggie breaks her leg, but is saved when one of the escorts, rescued by Steve, arrives and shoots the man. Steve, Maggie and the escorts make it to a rowboat on the shore of the nearby lake, and as they paddle off to safety Steve jokingly quips, “Foursome?”
Good performances all round, a good script and overall good pacing make this film never boring. It may be a tad predictable in the ‘whos gonna die next’ kinda way and the romantic subplot, but the fun is in seeing how it unravels.