REVIEW: HIGHLANDER: THE SERIES – SEASON 4

Starring

Adrian Paul (Arrow)
Stan Kirsch (Shallow Ground)
Jim Byrnes (Sanctuary)

maxresdefault

RECURRING / NOTABLE GUEST CAST

Kristin Minter (Home Alone)
Matthew Walker (Ginger Snaps Back)
Carsten Norgaard (The Three Musketeers)
Anna Hagan (Reindeer Games)
Laurie Holden (The Americans)
Scott McNeil (Beast Wars)
Robert Moloney (Power Rangers)
Gerard Plunkett (Travelers)
Philip Akin (Robocop 2014)
Liliana Komorowska (The Art of War)
Wolfgang Bodison (A Few Good Men)
Pruitt Taylor Vince (Identity)
Callum Keith Rennie (Impulse)
Chilton Crane (Final Destination 2)
Louis Ferreira (Stargate Universe)
Travis MacDonald (In The Name of The King)
Venus Terzo (Beast Wars)
Rachel Hayward (Jake 2.0)
Yee Jee Tso (50/50)
Elizabeth Gracen (Marked For Death)
Nicholas Campbell (Naked Lunch)
Myles Ferguson (Edgemont)
Lisa Howard (Rarth: Final Conflict)
Dave Ward (So Weird)
Peter Outerbridge (Saw VI)
Kevin McNulty (Stargate SG.1)
Jill Teed (X-Men 2)
Peter Bryant (Legends of Tomorrow)
Veena Sood (Hope Island)
Brent Stait (Andromeda)
Molyl Parker (Lost In Space)
Suleka Mathew (Claws)
Emmanuelle Vaugier (Two and a Half Men)
Peter Wingfield (Sanctuary)
Ann Turkel (Modesty Blaise)
Rae Dawn Chong (Commando)
Ron Halder (Stargate SG.1)
Ocean Hellman (Along Came A Spider)
Byron Chief-Moon (Twilight: Eclipse)
Benjamin Ratner (Wonder)
Carl Chase (Alien 3)
Michael J.Jackson (Coronation Street)
Ricco Ross (Aliens)
Peta Wilson (Superman Returns)
Jamie Harris (Carnival Row)
Nadia Cameron-Blakey (Batman Begins)
Crispin Bonham-Carter (Relic Hunter)
Simon Kunz (The Cave)
Dougray Scott (Batwoman)
Roland Gift (Brakes)
Stacey Travis (Mystery Men)
Jeremy Brudenell (The House of Eliott)
Roger Daltrey (Tommy)
Graham McTavish (The HObbit)
Jesse Joe Walsh (JCVD)
Peter Hudson (Hitman)

maxresdefaultThe goodness continues in 1995 for the fourth season of Highlander: The Series. In fact, the immortal angst just keeps getting better and better- and dare I say it- even great. Duncan MacLeod (Adrian Paul) and his on again off again immortal love Amanda (Elizabeth Gracen) must face deadly rogue immortals and even a Dark Quickening while 5,000 year old Methos (Peter Wingfield) falls in love with a dying mortal woman. When the Watcher Tribunal investigates watcher Joe Dawson (Jim Byrnes) for his friendship with Duncan and fellow immortal Richie Ryan (Stan Kirsch), Joe must fight for not just his status in the secret organization sworn to observe immortals but never interfere- but also for his very life. MV5BMTcyODg2Mjk1Ml5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTgwODQ0NTEzMjE@._V1_Well, Highlander: The Series is now a class unto itself, complete with some seriously sweet opening credits. Everything you need to know about immortals, Duncan MacLeod, and the Watchers is swiftly tressed out in style with this introduction! At this point, Highlander: The Series is a completely separate entity from the inferior sequel films, even the sword sparring shot of theatrical Highlander Connor MacLeod is gone from the opening designs. Season 4’s opener “Homeland” rekindles Duncan’s Scottish roots in fine form, exploring not just immortals freely beyond the film series’ restraints but also filling in Duncan’s timeline with both new places from the past and contemporary individual dilemmas. Not oft touched subjects such as Vietnam are mixed with lovely immortal examinations on war, death, and revenge. Mental illness is debated in “The Innocent,” creativity and human genius versus immortality are questioned in “Timeless,” and immortals seeking fame compared to those who are best left forgetting their immortal transgressions are contrasted in “The Immortal Cimoli” and “Through a Glass, Darkly.” Highlander-TV-640x362Oh dear oh dear, Duncan MacLeod can certainly be a melancholy bloke, can’t he? His continued somber stance and high road in each weekly dilemma is a wonderful contrast to his dishing out periodic beheadings. Can he be both a warrior and loyal to moral oaths he has promised to himself and other immortals over the years? “Reluctant Heroes,” “The Wrath of Kali,” and “Chivalry” put Mac between the mortal rock and the immortal hard place again and again. Sure, there may be great action and battles when we meet an immortal villain of the week, but Highlander: The Series is more wonderful when it brings immortal friends together and puts MacLeod in the middle. Naturally then, it’s just great to see Mac go bad in “Something Wicked” and “Deliverance.” Not only can Paul- who also directed two episodes this season- be crazy cool, but it is so sweet to see Duncan knowingly struggle against doing wrongs he has fought against for centuries. Golly, Dark Duncan does a lot of using and abusing of any and all in his wake! Likewise, the restored MacLeod pains over being called to assassinate in “Promises.” Wow, immortality isn’t all it’s cracked up to be- who knew? highlander31Fortunately, MacLeod’s sexy run and gun lady foil Amanda adds some much needed cheerfulness and fun in “Double Eagle.” We even get to see a more tender and loving side to Elizabeth Gracen’s vixen in “Reunion,” where she bonds with Mac’s pregnant ex, Lisa Howard guesting as Dr. Anne Lindsay. “The Colonel” provides some great WWI action that comes back to haunt Mac- with Amanda being the one who saves the day for a change! By contrast, Peter Wingfield as Methos is wonderful as the angry and pesky advocate to MacLeod. Despite his often sidelined observant and pacifist stance, Methos is not afraid to do what Mac cannot for the good at hand- or even the personal if it suits him. He wouldn’t have gotten very far without being selfish would he? It’s never out right stated, but you have to wonder if Amanda and Methos have met before. “Methuselah’s Gift” may be one of the best non-MacLeod centric episodes of the series, and every time I watch it, it drives me insane that Wingfield and Gracen are not series regulars. Why can’t they be in the credits? These two appear in the same amount of episodes, if not more, than credited regulars Stan Kirsch and Jim Byrnes do. If all four were listed, it wouldn’t seem like such a disparity, but rather a rotation of supporting players. Yes, its stupid things like this that keep me up at night!7d63cd4f132b0f1812754e6a27dd5592And yes, Richie finally has something to do in “The Innocent” and “Leader of the Pack.” Even if it’s goodness at the time, he always ends up disappearing. Lisa Howard’s final appearance as Anne in “The Blitz,” tells us so much more than Richie’s sporadic appearances. If Kirsch is actually used like a guest star as needed, then why does he get to be in the ^&*(%#@ opening credits? Ahhh! Fortunately, Roger Daltry and Roland Gift also return for “Till Death” and “Double Jeopardy.” Even if there are 7 immortals in one episode, it seems no more than 4 or 5 are ever onscreen together- what’s up with that? Is that some sort of rule like Holy Ground that we don’t know about? This season I also feel like we don’t get enough of Joe Dawson- especially because what we do get teases us with the notion that there’s so much more to tell. “Brothers in Arms” wonderfully highlights how Dawson came to the Watchers while also giving closure for Philip Akin and his Charlie DeSalvo. Although they are almost clip shows recapping some of the immortal and watcher hijinks, the two-part finale “Judgment Day” and “One Minute to Midnight” recap the best parts of Highlander: The Series thus far. All those times you have questioned how Joe and MacLeod got away with all the death and secrecy have indeed come back to haunt them.highlander-the-seriesI’ve already commented previously that some of the Quickenings in Highlander: The Series seem a little orgasmic, to say the least. However, in this recent rewatching, I’m also seeing more homosexual innuendo and gay subtext than I used to notice. Bare butt shots and picking out wallpaper together? Some of the relationships implied here and in Season 5- both male and female- even the entire notion of men cutting off each other’s heads to take one’s essence, the swordfights themselves, each immortal having a teacher or mentor who shows them the ways of it all. Dear Lord, the way they hide on Holy Ground and become Priests with secrets! Maybe I’m just older and wiser on seeing such themes onscreen now, or perhaps it is bemusing for some to look for such tongue in cheek goodness. It isn’t so overt to ruin Highlander: The Series for those not interested in such topics, but audiences who enjoy the male bonding and non traditional relationships may find some frank discussion of true companionship- with immortal twists of course. For the series not to acknowledge the special life long relationships immortals can share would simply be unrealistic.239581Again, I must say those opening credits are sweet- capturing the essence of the show in proper 90s style. We simply don’t get fine introductions like this anymore! The period designs are again great, from the French Revolution to the Old West and World War II. The house that Mac rebuilds is also neat- even if the real estate prices and square footage given onscreen don’t quite match up! The leather jackets and trench coats still look cool and timeless compared to some of the more colorful and crazy fashions from some immortals. What were they thinking? The jazzy period music and Swing styles are also sweet as are new times and places like India. Even past places we are used to seeing look good, more than good, high end even. Fans who want to know all the behind the scenes ins and outs are again welcome to a smorgasbord of features. Almost every episode offers some or all of the following: an audio and/or video commentary, a 5 or 10 minute behind the scenes and/or retrospective interview with cast and crew, Watcher’s Chronicles, deleted scenes, bloopers- and there’s a CD with every script and the series call sheets. Simply put, if you are a fan of intelligent timeless action and adventure fantasy, there is no reason you shouldn’t love Highlander: The Series. We’re done Season 4 now, come on get with it before you loose your head!

HALLOWEEN OF HORROR: THE VATICAN TAPES

Starring

Olivia Taylor Dudley (Chernobyl Diaries)
Michael Pena (Americanc Hustle)
Dougray Scott (Mission Impossible II)
John Patrick Amedori (The Butterfly Effect)
Djimon Hounsou (Guardians of The Galaxy)
Kathleen Robertson (Bates Motel)
Michael Pare (Bloodrayne 2)

Olivia Taylor Dudley in The Vatican Tapes (2015)In the Vatican, Vicar Imani (Djimon Hounsou) shows Cardinal Bruun (Peter Andersson) the case of Angela Holmes (Olivia Taylor Dudley), a young American woman who is suspected of harboring an evil spirit.Peter Andersson, Michael Peña, and Olivia Taylor Dudley in The Vatican Tapes (2015)Three months earlier in the United States, Angela is given a surprise birthday party by her father, Roger (Dougray Scott), and boyfriend, Peter “Pete” Smith (John Patrick Amedori). While slicing her cake, she cuts herself and is rushed to the hospital, where she briefly meets with Father Lozano (Michael Peña). She is injected with a serum that causes an infection; at home, she experiences a seizure and is placed under care at a hospital. A few days later, Angela is released, but on the way, she violently takes the wheel, causing an accident that puts her in a coma for 40 days. Just as her life support is about to be switched off, Angela comes round, seemingly in perfect health.Olivia Taylor Dudley in The Vatican Tapes (2015)However, Angela begins to show symptoms of demonic possession when she almost drowns a baby, followed by forcing a detective (Jarvis W. George) to commit suicide. Lozano chooses to send her to a psychiatric hospital. A distraught Roger then confesses that Angela’s mother was a prostitute; she was pregnant just a few months after Roger met her before she abruptly left, implying that Roger merely adopted Angela. Angela’s possession becomes even worse as she frequently sleepwalks, taunts her psychiatrist, Dr. Richards (Kathleen Robertson), eventually culminating in her speaking in Aramaic that induces hysteria and mass suicide in her fellow patients. Deciding that nothing can save her, the hospital releases her.Olivia Taylor Dudley in The Vatican Tapes (2015)The movie returns to the timeframe of the prologue. Bruun concludes that Angela is possessed by the Antichrist due to the presence of the crows around her, which are agents of Satan, and instructs Imani to stay back while he personally heads to the United States to cure Angela. An exorcism he plans involves a Eucharist, where Angela reacts by vomiting blood and spitting three eggs, meant to symbolize a perverted Trinity. Bruun also comments that her birth from a prostitute perverts the virgin birth of Jesus Christ. Bruun then realizes that the Antichrist is already a part of Angela; killing him would mean Angela’s death as well. However, just after Bruun kills Angela, she rises up as the resurrected Antichrist, mirroring the Resurrection of Jesus, and proceeds to kill Bruun, Roger, and Pete. She spares Lozano, though, and tells him to inform the Vatican that the Antichrist is roaming the Earth.Olivia Taylor Dudley in The Vatican Tapes (2015)Three months later, Lozano, having been released from the hospital, visits the Vatican and is allowed access to the archives by Imani. He is shown footage of what has happened since: Angela returns as the only “survivor” of the exorcism besides Lozano and is now performing miracles to gather followers. The film ends with Angela entering a large room to greet her followers by stretching out her arms.Michael Peña and Olivia Taylor Dudley in The Vatican Tapes (2015)The Vatican Tapes is a decent and underrated horror film, one of the best about exorcism. The plot is based on Catholic beliefs but is engaging. Most of the cast is excellent and has good performances; maybe only Michael Peña has an inexpressive performance. The conclusion has an open end maybe with the intention of a sequel. But in general, The Vatican Tapes is satisfactory with an appropriate use of Handycam or surveillance video.

REVIEW: TAKEN 3

Starring

Liam Neeson (Non-Stop)
Forest Whitaker (Black panther)
Maggie Grace (Lost)
Famke Janssen (X-Men)
Dougray Scott (Mission: Impossible II)
Sam Spruell (Snow White & The Huntsman)
Leland Orser (Twisted)
Jon Gries (Operation Chromite)
David Warshofsky (Human Nature)
Jonny Weston (Beyond Skyline)
Don Harvey (Tank Girl)
Dylan Bruno (Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.)
Al Sapienza (Person of Interest)
Andrew Borba (Interstellar)
Andrew Howard (Bates Motel)
Robert Pralgo (The Vampire Diaries)
Catherine Dyer (The Blind Side)
Wallace Langham (CSI)

UntitledFormer covert operative Bryan Mills visits his daughter, Kim, to deliver a birthday gift. After an awkward visit, he invites his former wife, Lenore, to dinner. Although she declines, she shows up at his apartment and tells him about her marital problems. He agrees to let her try to work things out with her current husband Stuart. Stuart comes to see Bryan and asks him never to see his wife again—despite the fact he is aware they have a daughter together. Without Bryan’s knowledge he uses his phone to arrange a meeting with Lenore making out it is Bryan that wants to meet her then promptly deletes the message after it is sent. It is in this location she gets kidnapped.UntitledThe following day, Bryan receives a text from Lenore asking to meet him for breakfast. After Bryan purchases breakfast, he returns to his apartment to discover Lenore’s lifeless body. L.A.P.D. units immediately appear and try to arrest him, but he resists and escapes. Meanwhile, L.A.P.D. Inspector Frank Dotzler familiarizes himself with Bryan’s background and issues an APB for him.UntitledBryan retreats to a safe house equipped with weapons and surveillance electronics. He retraces Lenore’s travels to a remote gas station convenience store and finds surveillance footage of her being abducted by unidentified men with unique hand tattoos, but L.A.P.D. detectives arrive and arrest him. While in transit, Bryan frees himself, hijacks the police cruiser, escapes, and downloads phone records from an L.A.P.D. database onto a thumb drive. He contacts Kim at Lenore’s funeral via a camera hidden in his friend Sam’s suit, instructing her to maintain her “very predictable schedule.” She purchases her daily yogurt drink with a “Drink Me Now” note which, unknown by her, is drugged by Bryan. During a lecture, she feels nauseated and runs to the restroom where Bryan is waiting. He surprises her and gives her the antidote to the drug. Bryan removes a surveillance bug that, unknown to her, was planted by Dotzler. He tells her that he is looking for the real murderer and that she should keep safe. Kim tells Bryan of her pregnancy and that Stuart is acting scared and has hired bodyguards, which he has never done before.UntitledBryan tails Stuart’s car but is ambushed by a pursuing SUV that pushes his car over the edge of a cliff. He survives the crash, hijacks a car, follows the attackers to a roadside liquor store and kills them. Bryan then abducts and interrogates Stuart, who confesses that Lenore’s murder was caused by his failure to repay a debt to his former business partner and ex-Spetsnaz operative Oleg Malankov and that he exposed Bryan’s identity to Malankov out of jealousy.UntitledWith assistance from his old colleagues and a nervous Stuart, Bryan gains entry to Malankov’s heavily secured penthouse. After killing the guards, a furious gun battle, and a brutal fight, a mortally wounded Malankov reveals that all that happened was a setup: Stuart planned Lenore’s murder and framed Bryan as part of a business deal to collect on a $12M insurance policy. Malankov adds that when he failed to kill Bryan, Stuart used Bryan to kill Malankov and keep the insurance money. Meanwhile, Stuart injures Sam, and abducts Kim, intending to flee with the money. Under police pursuit, Bryan arrives at the airport in Malankov’s Porsche as Stuart’s plane is taxiing for takeoff. After destroying the landing gear, preventing the plane from taking off, Bryan overpowers Stuart and prepares to kill him but pauses at Kim’s pleas. He tells Stuart to expect final punishment if he escapes justice or completes a reduced prison sentence. Dotzler and the LAPD arrive to arrest Stuart. Bryan is cleared of all charges. In the aftermath of Stuart’s arrest, Kim, who is pregnant, informs Bryan that she wants to name her baby after her mother if it is a girl.__595352c2362a2-mediumTaken 3 remains an entertaining and action filled ride, though with some flaws and not as consisted as the original. Taken 3 still is quite a fun watch. As a second rewatch opinions remain the same  Although the film is quite silly at times it still remains highly entertaining and a fun ride.

REVIEW: HITMAN (2007)

CAST
Timothy Olyphant (Catch & Release)
Dougray Scott (Mission Impossible 2)
Olga Kurylenkio (Max Payne)
Robert Knepper (Cult)
Ulrich Thomsen (Killing Me Softly)
Henry Ian Cusick (Lost)
James Faulkner (X-Men: First Class)
Peter Hudson (Highlander: The Series)
At an unknown location, near a remote asylum, a group of young bald boys are receiving tattoos of bar codes on the back of their heads; men observe, direct, and coordinate the training of these young boys in firearms and hand-to-hand combat, as well as stamina and strength. In these scenes, it is shown that these young boys are trained from an early age to be professional, international hitmen-for-hire.
Years later, Interpol agent Mike Whittier (Dougray Scott) arrives at his house and discovers Agent 47 (Timothy Olyphant) in his study, where the two talk about 47’s life as a professional hitman, working for a mysterious unknown paramilitary group known as The Organization. The movie unfolds as he tells the story, and Whittier tries to capture him.
Three months prior, 47 is completing a hit on a gang leader named Bwana Ovie (Eriq Ebouaney) in Niger. He is told by his Organization contact, Diana (Lisa Jacobs), to kill his next target, Russian President Mikhail Belicoff (Ulrich Thomsen), publicly. He completes his mission as ordered, but before he can leave Russia, he is contacted by his employers. They tell him that there is a witness to the assassination and order him to intercept her. When Agent 47 pulls his gun to shoot her on the street, he realizes she has never seen him before. He does not shoot her, but just misses being assassinated himself.
His employers reveal his location to agents of FSB, who make plans to intercept him. As he is about to be taken, Diana personally calls him to warn him. She tells him that Belicoff ordered the hit on himself. After a dramatic escape from the hotel, 47 intercepts Nika (Olga Kurylenko), the woman who supposedly witnessed his hit and Belicoff’s mistress. He interrogates her about Belicoff and discovers that Belicoff had a body double, who ordered the hit on the real Belicoff so that he could take his place as the president of Russia. 47 was to be killed after the hit to ensure total secrecy. As Nika and 47 attempt to take a train further into the Russian interior, they are intercepted by more assassins from the Organization. 47 kills three of them before disarming Agent Whittier and wounding his partner. Infuriated at yet another escape, the FSB and Agent Marklov (Robert Knepper) order Interpol to leave the country immediately. In the meantime, 47 contacts Agent Carlton Smith (James Faulkner) of the CIA. He offers Smith a deal—he will kill Udre Belicoff (Henry Ian Cusick), Mikhail’s brother, in exchange for a favor from the CIA. Udre is an arms dealer and slave trader whom both the CIA and FSB have wanted dead for some time. Agent Smith informs 47 that Udre had been planning something with a German arms dealer named Price. Intercepting him could lead 47 to Udre.
47 and Nika travel to Istanbul, where 47 abducts Price from a restaurant in order to pose as Price at a meeting with Udre. 47 later kills Udre and his henchmen, so Belicoff’s double is forced to attend Udre’s funeral. 47 kidnaps Agent Marklov and forces him to have his own FSB agents try to shoot Belicoff’s double as he delivers a eulogy for Udre. Disguised as a soldier, 47 manages to kill all of Belicoff’s double’s guards and takes him into the archbishop’s chamber in the church. 47 instead kills him and then allows himself to be taken into custody by Interpol and Agent Whittier. At this point Agent Smith delivers on his end of the deal, having the agents under his command intercept the Interpol convoy that is transporting 47 to the airport, giving 47 the distraction necessary to escape. The scene then flashes forward to the conversation between Agent Whittier and 47 occurring at Agent Whittier’s house. After wrapping up their conversation, 47 reveals the body of a dead Organization hitman. 47 suggests Agent Whittier go along with 47’s plan, saying that he will notify the police that he has killed the fake Agent 47, implying that Whittier will not survive if he does not. Nika is shown picking up an envelope from an undisclosed sender. Inside it, there are papers and a message saying that she now owns a vineyard (she had told 47 of her childhood dream of having one). Meanwhile, 47 is watching her from afar, through the scope of a sniper rifle. He then looks at the corpse of another Organization hitman, lying close to him, and says, “I told you to leave her alone. You should have listened.” He then turns back, and walks away.
For once the film sticks close to the style of the games and doesn’t try and change anything that didn’t need changing. The story isn’t too complicated and doesn’t require much thinking, which is what you’d expect from this kind of movie. The action is pretty much non stop and there are some really impressive fight scenes all the way through, so there is never a dull moment. Basically, if you take this movie for what it is, it is a very fun, very enjoyable film that is entertaining from start to finish .