REVIEW: IMPULSE – SEASON 1

Impulse (2018)

MAIN CAST

Maddie Hasson (The Finder)
Sarah Desjardins (Van Helsing)
Enuka Okuma (Slasher)
Craig Arnold (Heartland)
Tanner Stine (The Thundermans)
Keegan-Michael Key (Why Him?)
Missi Pyle (Gone Girl)

Impulse (2018)

RECURRING / NOTABLE GUEST CAST

Matt Gordon (Rookie Blue)
Daniel Maslany (Chained)
David James Elliott (Trumbo)
Callum Keith Rennie (Battlestar Galactica)
Aidan Devine (A History of Violence)
Shawn Doyle (Reign)
Michelle Nolden (Earth: Final Conflict)
David Alpay (The Vampire Diaries)
Allison Hossack (Reaper)
Danny Pudi (Powerless)
Lulu Antariksa (Legacies)
Hiro Kanagawa (Caprica
Lauren Collins (Degrassi: TNG)
Will Chase (Sharp Objects)

Maddie Hasson in Impulse (2018)YouTube Red’s new series is part of the ‘Jumper’ family, but it’s driven by a very strong lead performance from Maddie Hasson that makes it more of a character drama about sexual assault than a YA thriller.  Directed by Doug Liman, the pilot for YouTube Red’s Impulse begins with a bang. Two men, one played by Keegan-Michael Key, are engaged in a full-on teleportation brawl, exchanging punches as they shift between a remote iceberg and a busy subway train full of confused passengers. It’s a thrilling spectacle. Over the rest of the 10-episode first season of the show, there is no scene of comparable action or scope, and Key’s role in the series is negligible.the-simpsonsAnd if you’re curious why, as I initially was, despite the presence of Liman and source material from Steven Gould, YouTube Red isn’t selling Impulse on its ties to the Jumper book and movie brand, know that the series’ quantity of teleporting fun is minimal and its fidelity to Gould’s novel is close to nonexistent.  Having dispatched and dismissed the major selling points for Impulse, it’s possible to really respect the show for what it actually is, namely a surprisingly effective exploration of a young woman dealing with the aftermath of sexual assault, while at the same time learning very little about her newfound ability to travel through space in moments of extreme emotion. It’s often quite solid and Maddie Hasson effectively leads a fine ensemble, but Impulse really isn’t the show you might be expecting.imageHasson plays Henrietta “Henry” Coles, a vagabond teen who struggles to make friends and connections because her mother (Missi Pyle) keeps moving from one boyfriend and town to the next. Henry’s latest home is somewhere in upstate New York and comes with a popular, dismissive new pseudo stepsister (Sarah Desjardins) and the challenges of being unable to drive due to several recent and unexplained seizures. A conflict with a teacher in class leads to Henry’s latest seizure and to attention from Townes (Daniel Maslany), who’s on the autism spectrum and a bit of an outcast himself, when he notices that Henry’s condition also causes objects around her to move. That’s nothing, though, compared to what happens when basketball star Clay (Tanner Stine) ignores Henry’s boundaries and vocal protestations after some initially benign making-out. Before she knows what happened, Henry is back in the safety of her bedroom and Clay’s life is changed forever.impulseUsing the sexual assault of a young protagonist as a character catalyst can be effective and fertile instigation for drama — see Veronica Mars or Jessica Jones — but it can also be exploitive when ramifications and emotional scarring are ignored to push the narrative forward. Impulse showrunner Lauren LeFranc is admirably determined not to let the series fall into that second category. What the show does best is deal with consent and the lingering trauma a sexual assault can cause a victim. It’s a multi-episode process that’s almost always in the foreground as Henry faces the constant presence of her attacker; suffers self-doubt as her story is questioned; and shies away from other intimacies in her life, already a problem for the new girl in school and for one of those sci-fi characters whose burgeoning adolescence and nascent powers are intermingled.IMPULSE-Maddie-Hasson-YouTube-Premium1Hasson’s balance of tough-girl exterior and inner fragility is exceptional. There’s a volatile minutelong uncut shot of the young actress in the second episode that sold me completely on the performance and her ability to carry the series. Episodes are preceded by sexual violence content warnings and end with hotline callouts to the Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network. LeFranc and the writers, plus a team of post-Liman directors dominated by women, including Helen Shaver, Alex Kalymnios and Cherien Dabis, do right by this sensitive, difficult side of the story. The performances by Desjardin; Maslany (Tatiana’s brother); and David James Elliott, as the father of Henry’s attacker and a local automotive kingpin, are all totally overhauled as characterizations go from one-dimensional to much more nuanced. The series badly needs the comic touches Desjardin and Maslany provide in their finer moments.22c11def757c6d1c4d1d8056a72353faHenry’s understanding of her power is being laid as an interesting foundation for future seasons, but I accused Freeform’s new drama Cloak & Dagger of slow progress in its superhero narrative and that show is positively steaming along compared to Impulse. Much too much of what drives the first season comes from a mostly ludicrous plotline involving Elliott’s character and a Mennonite-run opioid empire that recalls the way the first season of Bates Motel was about small-town Oregon marijuana trade more than Norman Bates’ introduction to motel maintenance.  The drug story, probably developed with confidence that YouTube Red’s core audience didn’t watch the far more outrageous take on similar material in Cinemax’s Banshee, at least offers another reason for Henry to feel guilt and remorse, and another tense situation to highlight how good Hasson is. It’s weakly plotted, but appropriate for a show that wants to make you think it’s a YA action-franchise starter, when it’s really an interesting and somber character study with a heroine who, very rarely, teleports.

 

REVIEW: CAPTAIN AMERICA: THE WINTER SOLDIER

 

CAST

Chris Evans (The Losers)
Samuel L. Jackson (Jurassic Park)
Scarlett Johansson (Lucy)
Robert Redford (The Sting)
Sebastian Stan (Spread)
Anthony Mackie (The Hurt Locker)
Cobie Smulders (How I Met Your Mother)
Frank Grillo (The Purge 2)
Maximiliano Hernandex (Warriors)
Emily Vancamp (Revenge)
Hayley Atwell (The Duchess)
Toby Jones (The Hunger Games)
Stan Lee (Avengers Assemble0
Alan Dale (Lost)
Chin Han (Arrow)
Garry Shandling (Over The Hedge)
Steven Culp (Jason Goes To Hell)
Gary Sinise (Deception)
Thomas Kretschmann (Dracula)
Elizabeth Olsen (Godzilla)
Danny Pudi (Powerless)
Aaron Taylor-Johnson (Kick-Ass)
Callan Mulvey (Batman V Superman)
Jenny Agutter (Child’s Play 2)
Adetokumboh M’Cormack (Lost)
Evan Parke (King Kong)
Henry Goodman (The New Pope)

MV5BMTYxNTI5OTkyM15BMl5BanBnXkFtZTgwNTUwMDM0MTE@._V1_Two years after the Battle of New York, Steve Rogers works in Washington D.C. for the espionage agency S.H.I.E.L.D. under Director Nick Fury, while adjusting to contemporary society. Rogers and Agent Natasha Romanoff are sent with S.H.I.E.L.D.’s counter-terrorism S.T.R.I.K.E. team, led by Agent Rumlow, to free hostages aboard a S.H.I.E.L.D. vessel from Georges Batroc and his mercenaries. Mid-mission, Rogers discovers Romanoff has another agenda: to extract data from the ship’s computers for Fury. Rogers returns to the Triskelion, S.H.I.E.L.D.’s headquarters, to confront Fury and is briefed about Project Insight: three Helicarriers linked to spy satellites, designed to preemptively eliminate threats. Unable to decrypt the data recovered by Romanoff, Fury becomes suspicious about Insight and asks senior S.H.I.E.L.D. official Alexander Pierce to delay the project.MV5BMjIzODY0NzA4NF5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTgwODQwMDM0MTE@._V1_On his way to rendezvous with Maria Hill, Fury is ambushed by assailants led by a mysterious assassin called the Winter Soldier. Fury escapes to Rogers’ apartment, and warns Rogers that S.H.I.E.L.D. is compromised. After handing Rogers a flash drive containing data from the ship, Fury is gunned down by the Winter Soldier. Fury dies in surgery, and Hill recovers the body. The next day, Pierce summons Rogers to the Triskelion. When Rogers withholds Fury’s information, Pierce brands him a fugitive. Hunted by S.T.R.I.K.E., Rogers meets with Romanoff. Using data in the flash drive they discover a secret S.H.I.E.L.D. bunker in New Jersey, where they activate a supercomputer containing the preserved consciousness of Arnim Zola. Zola reveals that ever since S.H.I.E.L.D. was founded after World War II, Hydra has secretly operated within its ranks, sowing global chaos with the objective of making humanity willing to surrender its freedom in exchange for security. The pair narrowly escape death when a S.H.I.E.L.D. missile destroys the bunker, and realize that Pierce is Hydra’s leader within S.H.I.E.L.D.MV5BNDQzMjcwMzA0NF5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTgwNjIwMDM0MTE@._V1._CR1,116,932,390_Rogers and Romanoff enlist the help of former USAF pararescueman Sam Wilson, whom Rogers befriended, and acquire his powered “Falcon” wingpack. Deducing that S.H.I.E.L.D. agent Jasper Sitwell is a Hydra mole, they force him to divulge that Zola developed a data-mining algorithm that can identify individuals who might become future threats to Hydra’s plans. The Insight Helicarriers will sweep the globe, using satellite-guided guns to eliminate these individuals. Rogers, Romanoff, and Wilson are ambushed by the Winter Soldier, who kills Sitwell. During the fight, Rogers recognizes the Winter Soldier as Bucky Barnes, his friend who was captured and experimented upon during WWII. Hill manages to extract the trio to a safehouse where Fury, who had faked his death, is waiting with plans to sabotage the Helicarriers by replacing their controller chips.MV5BMTk0NDI5ODQwNV5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTgwMjIwMDM0MTE@._V1._CR1,116,933,389_After the World Security Council members arrive for the Helicarriers’ launch, Rogers broadcasts Hydra’s plot to everyone at the Triskelion. Romanoff, disguised as one of the Council members, disarms Pierce. Fury arrives and forces Pierce to unlock S.H.I.E.L.D’s database so that Romanoff can leak classified information, exposing Hydra to the public. Following a struggle, Fury kills Pierce. Meanwhile, Rogers and Wilson storm two Helicarriers and replace the controller chips, but the Winter Soldier destroys Wilson’s suit and fights Rogers on the third. Rogers fends him off and replaces the final chip, allowing Hill to take control and have the vessels destroy each other. Rogers refuses to fight the Winter Soldier in an attempt to reach his friend, but as the ship collides with the Triskelion, Rogers is thrown out into the Potomac River. The Winter Soldier rescues the unconscious Rogers before disappearing into the woods. With S.H.I.E.L.D. in disarray, Romanoff appears before a Senate subcommittee and Fury, under the cover of his apparent death, heads to Eastern Europe in pursuit of Hydra’s remaining cells. Rogers and Wilson decide to find the Winter Soldier, while Rumlow, who was a double agent for Hydra, is hospitalized following the Triskelion’s destruction.MV5BMjExMDA3Nzc1N15BMl5BanBnXkFtZTgwNTMwMDM0MTE@._V1_In a mid-credits scene, Baron Wolfgang von Strucker, at a Hydra lab, proclaims that the “age of miracles” has begun as scientists examine an energy-filled scepter and two prisoners: one with superhuman speed, the other with telekinetic powers. In a post-credits scene, the Winter Soldier visits a Bucky memorial at the Smithsonian Institution.MV5BMTQxNDc0MjM4M15BMl5BanBnXkFtZTgwMDc0MDI5MDE@._V1_SX1500_CR0,0,1500,999_AL_Seeing Cap and Black Widow banter about his dating life,  plays on the established chemistry between Evans and Johansson, working both the humor and the inherent pathos that defines their roles. That Mackie and Redford both effortlessly slide into this established dynamic is testament to what skilled performers they are. There is also some nice continuity to having the same writers return from The First Avenger to craft its sequel. There are plenty of parallels and callbacks here. when  watched back to back, you not only get to appreciate the original more, but enjoy how they connect.

 

REVIEW: STAR TREK BEYOND

CAST

Chris Pine (Into The Woods)
Zachary Quinto (Heroes)
Zoe Saldana (Avatar)
Karl Urban (Dredd)
Simon Pegg (Paul)
John Cho (Total Recall)
Anton Yelchin (Alpha Dog)
Sofia Boutella (Monsters: Dark Continet)
Idris Elba (Thor)
Greg Grunberg (Alias)
Danny Pudi (Community)
Shea Whigham (Agent Carter)
Melissa Roxburgh (Arrow)

Three years into its five year mission, the USS Enterprise arrives at Starbase Yorktown, a massive space station, for resupply and shore leave for her crew. Struggling to find continued meaning in the endless nature of their mission of exploration, Captain James T. Kirk has applied for a promotion to Vice Admiral and commanding officer of Yorktown. He recommends Spock as the new captain of the Enterprise. Meanwhile, Hikaru Sulu reunites with his husband and their young daughter, Montgomery Scott works to keep the ship operational, and Spock and Nyota Uhura amicably end their relationship; Spock also receives word from New Vulcan that Ambassador Spock (Spock’s future self from the original timeline) has died.

The Enterprise is dispatched on a rescue mission at short notice after an escape pod drifts out of a nearby uncharted nebula. The survivor, Kalara, claims her ship is stranded on Altamid, a planet within the nebula. The rescue turns into an ambush when the Enterprise is quickly torn apart by a massive swarm of small ships. Krall and his crew board the ship, and unsuccessfully search for a relic called an Abronath that Kirk had obtained for a failed diplomatic mission. Krall captures and removes many crew members from the ship. Kirk then orders the crew to abandon ship as the Enterprise’s saucer section hurtles towards the planet.

On the planet’s surface, Sulu, Uhura, and other survivors are captured by Krall. Kirk and navigator Pavel Chekov, accompanied by Kalara, locate the wrecked saucer section. Kalara is discovered to be following Krall’s orders when she tries to retrieve the Abronath. To escape Krall’s soldiers, Kirk activates the still-functional thrusters, causing the saucer to lurch forward, crushing Kalara. Meanwhile, a wounded Spock and Dr. Leonard McCoy search for other survivors. Spock confides to McCoy that he intends to leave Starfleet to continue the late Ambassador Spock’s work on New Vulcan. Meanwhile, Scott is rescued by Jaylah, a scavenger who previously escaped Krall’s encampment. She takes Scott to her makeshift home, the grounded USS Franklin, an early Starfleet vessel reported missing over a century earlier. Scott is reunited with Kirk, Chekov, McCoy and Spock. Using the ship as a base, they plot to raid Krall’s camp and transport the crew to the Franklin, then escape the planet in the repaired ship. Meanwhile, Krall coerces Ensign Syl to hand over the Abronath that she had kept hidden for Kirk, then kills her with it. The Abronath is the missing half of an ancient bioweapon, created by the planet’s original inhabitants, which can disintegrate any humanoid. With the device complete, Krall intends to attack Yorktown and kill its inhabitants, and, using its advanced technology, go on to attack the Federation. Kirk and the others free the crew as Krall launches into space with the bioweapon, leading his drone fleet to Yorktown.

The Starfleet crew pursues Krall in the Franklin. Scott transports Spock and McCoy into one of Krall’s drone ships. After dispatching the pilot, they learn that VHF transmissions can disrupt Krall’s communications. Matching the drone fleet’s frequency and using the ‘classical’ song “Sabotage” by the Beastie Boys, they destroy almost the entire fleet. Krall and his three surviving ships crash in Yorktown. As Krall flees into the city, Uhura and Kirk discover from the Franklin’s logs that he is actually Balthazar Edison, the former captain of the Franklin. A pre-Federation human soldier, Edison became disillusioned with the newly founded Federation, rejecting its principles of unity and cooperation with former enemies, like the Xindi. When he and his crew were stranded on Altamid by a rogue wormhole, he believed the Federation had deliberately abandoned them. The three survivors prolonged their lives with the technology of the planet’s extinct natives (at the cost of their human physiology and their numerous victims’ lives), and repurposed their dormant drone workers into the swarm. Krall now plans to destroy the Federation and resume galactic conflict. Kirk pursues Krall into Yorktown’s ventilation system, where Krall activates the bioweapon. Before it can be unleashed, Kirk ejects the weapon and Krall into space. Spock and McCoy save Kirk moments before he is also blown into open space.

Commodore Paris closes the unsolved cases of the fate of Captain Edison and the USS Franklin crew. Kirk decides to remain as a captain, and Spock chooses to stay in Starfleet and resumes his relationship with Uhura. Jaylah has been accepted into Starfleet Academy based on Kirk’s recommendation. As the crew celebrates Kirk’s birthday, they view the construction of their new ship, USS Enterprise-A, and after its completion, they depart on their next mission.This film feels in many ways like a completion of the work done to establish the rebooted series. The actors have now made the characters their own and no longer feel like imitations of the original incarnations. The film ends with the commissioning of an all-new Enterprise. As Paramount has already confirmed that a fourth instalment is on the way, we can be sure that Kirk and his crew will continue their little Trek through the Stars for some time to come.

REVIEW: HOODWINKED TOO! HOOD VS EVIL

CAST (VOICES)
Hayden Panettiere (Heroes)
Glenn Close (Guardians of The Galaxy)
Patrick Warburton (Family Guy)
Joan Cusack (Addams Family Values)
David Ogden Stiers (Two Guys and a Girl)
Bill Hader (Superbad)
Amy Poehler (Inside Out)
Martin Short (Mars Attacks)
Brad Garrett (Finding Nemo)
Andy Dick (Road Trip)
David Alan Grier (Jumanji)
Cheech Marin (Cars)
Tommy Chong (That 70s Show)
Phil LaMarr (Free Enterprise)
Tress MacNeille (Futurama)
Danny Pudi (Powerless)
Rob Paulsen (Animaniacs)
Bridget Hoffman (Hercules: TLJ)
Wendee Lee (Masked Rider)
Wolf (Patrick Warburton), Granny (Glenn Close), and Twitchy (Cory Edwards) are on a rescue mission to save Hansel and Gretel (Bill Hader and Amy Poehler) from an evil witch named Verushka (Joan Cusack). The plan goes wrong however and Granny is kidnapped as well. Meanwhile, Red (Hayden Panettiere) is in training with a mysterious group called the Sisters of the Hood where she learns that a secret all powerful truffle recipe has been stolen. She teams up with Wolf and Twitchy to find the recipe and save her grandma, but she and Wolf can’t get along and the team splits up. Meanwhile, Verushka, who stole the truffle recipe, tries to force Granny into making it for her.
Granny escapes and finds Hansel and Gretel, but learns that they are actually the masterminds behind the plot. Granny is recaptured and learns that Verushka was an old classmate of hers when they were both in training with the Sisters of the Hood; Verushka was always second behind Granny’s accomplishments. Eventually Red, Wolf, and Twitchy team back together and infiltrate Hansel and Gretel’s base. Red accidentally reveals the final ingredient for the truffle recipe and the truffles are made.
Hansel and Gretel eat the truffles transforming into giants and go on a rampage through the city. Hansel and Gretel betray Verushka, whereupon Granny convinces her to join forces with her, Red, Wolf, and Twitchy. They trick Hansel and Gretel into eating more truffles which make them so obese that they can no longer move their arms and legs, before the two are arrested.
MV5BMTMzMDAwMjMxN15BMl5BanBnXkFtZTcwMzg3MDQ2NA@@._V1_SY1000_CR0,0,1773,1000_AL_
The Plot is not nearly as clever or well written as the original. However, since the characters are already developed, the the jokes are well presented, well timed and come quickly. This movie is far more action driven than the original. The plot seems merely the vehicle. Don’t expect unique take on an old tale as the movie primarily moves forward developing current characters and back stories. Additional fairly tail intersections are used for story structure. Overall it’s a fun movie and if you enjoyed the first one you will enjoy this.