REVIEW: VERONICA MARS – SEASON 3

Starring

Kristen Bell (The Good Place)
Jason Dohring (The Originals)
Percy Daggs III (Detention)
Francis Capra (Izombie)
Enrico Colantoni (Flashpoint)
Ryan Hansen (2 Broke Girls)
Tina Majorino (Waterworld)
Michael Muhney (The Young and the Restless)
Julie Gonzalo (Cherry Rush)
Chris Lowell (GLOW)

Kristen Bell in Veronica Mars (2004)

RECURRING / NOTABLE GUEST CAST

Ken Marino (Agent Carter)
Patrick Fabian (Better Call Saul)
Jason Beghe (One Missed Call)
Charisma Carpenter (Angel)
Brandon Hillock (Villains)
James Jordan (Destroyer)
Andrew McClain (Alienate)
Rodney Rowland (Legacies)
David Tom (Swing Kids)
Samm Levine (Inglourious Basterds)
Rider Strong (Cabin Fever)
Chastity Dotson (Patriot)
Keri Lynn Pratt (Samllville)
Rachelle Lefevre (Twilight)
Dan Castellaneta (The Simpsons)
Ryan Devlin (Izombie)
Armie Hammer (The Lone Ranger)
Lindsey McKeon (One Tree Hill)
Krista Kalmus (Fired Up!)
Ed Begley Jr. (A Mighty Wind)
Parry Shen (Hatchet II)
Robert Ri’chard (House of Wax)
Michael B. Silver (Jason Goes To Hell)
Daran Norris (Izombie)
Blake Shields (Heroes)
Ryan Pinkston (Will & Grace)
Jaime Ray Newman (Bates Motel)
Richard Grieco (21 Jump Street)
Adam Rose (Santa Clarita Diet)
Dianna Agron (Glee)
Laura San Giacomo (Pretty Woman)
Amanda Walsh (Disturbia)
Michael Grant Terry (Bones)
Sandra McCoy (Power Rangers Wild Force)
Charles Shaughnessy (Sabrina: TTW)
Patricia Hearst (Cry-Baby)
David Blue (Stargate Universe)
Jamie Chung (The Gifted)
Eric Jungmann (Not Another Teen Movie)
Brittany Ishibashi (Runaways)
Brianne Davis (Six)
Amanda Noret (She’s Out of His Mind)
Chris Ellis (Armageddon)
Carlee Avers (The Changed)
Toni Trucks (Grimm)
Juliette Goglia (Mike & Molly)
Jeremy Roberts (The Mask)
Anthony Azizi (Lost)
Jack McGee (Gangster Squad)
Fred Stoller (Little Man)
Duane Daniels (First Strike)
Paul Rudd (Ant-Man)
Suzanne Cryer (Two Guys and a Girl)
Edi Gathegi (Beauty and The BEast)
Tangie Ambrose (Why Him?)
Patrick Fischler (Birds of Prey)
Kyle Secor (The Purge: Election Year)
Max Greenfield (New Girl)
Christopher B. Duncan (Legacies)
Jim Jansen (A.I.)

Kristen Bell and Jason Dohring in Veronica Mars (2004)In its third season, Veronica Mars steps away from any season-length stories. Slightly truncated to twenty episodes, season three is neatly grouped into three distinct chunks of episodes. The season opens with Veronica settling into her freshman year at Hearst College, but the campus continues to be plagued by a spree of sexual assaults. Mac’s bubbly roommate Parker (Julie Gonzalo) is the latest victim to be roofied and raped, with the attacker leaving his calling card by shaving her head. Having suffered through the past couple of years as a rape victim herself and unwittingly in a position to have caught Parker’s rapist during the attack, Veronica’s grim determination to put an end to this reign of terror makes up the first and the lengthiest of the season’s arcs.The season’s second arc picks up a couple of months after the grisly final shot of “Spit and Eggs” as the police have shrugged off the death of someone close to Veronica as a suicide.Kristen Bell in Veronica Mars (2004)A devastating emotional blow delivered just hours earlier, a gunshot to the temple, a vague suicide note typed on a PC…it’s tragic, yes, but the pieces fit neatly together just the same. Still, it’s a scenario lifted directly from a paper Veronica penned for her criminology class on how to commit the perfect murder. Throughout the course of their investigation, Veronica and her father become entangled in a pair of other murders, among them the death of one of Veronica Mars’ most enduring characters.Facing cancellation and attempting to make the largely serialized series more accessible to new viewers, Veronica Mars draws to a close with a set of five standalone episodes. There aren’t any overarching investigations, although some threads leak from one episode to the next, including a sheriff’s race between Keith Mars and an unlikely contender.The season premiere introduces two other Hearst students who’d go on to stick around for the rest of the year: Wallace’s roommate Stosh “Piz” Piznarski (Chris Lowell) and Mac’s roomieuntitledThe hunt for Hearst’s rapist, which runs for the nine of the season’s twenty episodes, is the highest point of the set. It’s the most engaging of the season’s various arcs, which is impressive considering that these episodes have to juggle the weekly mysteries, the overarching search for the rapist, and introduce the new characters and Hearst College as a whole. There seems to be some connection between the rapes and the Greek system at Hearst, pitting Veronica against a group of feminists determined to bring the frats down, forcing her to defend the same lecherous halfwits she thought were tied to the rapes last season, and clawing her way into the Zeta Theta Beta house.Kristen Bell in Veronica Mars (2004)This first half of the season also gives the supporting cast a reasonable amount of screentime, including Wallace and Logan on opposite ends of an Abu Ghraib-inspired prison experiment, Logan stumbling onto a life-changing discovery when trying to find out why his trust fund is dwindling so quickly, and Keith making the same sorts of excuses with a married client as the skeevy men whose infidelities pay his rent. The arc comes to a close with “Spit and Eggs”, which, in true Veronica Mars form, plays like more of a thriller than a mystery, and it’s by far the most intense episode of the season. Veronica Mars was an excellent a show spread across 3 seasons and become a great cult show, and with the arrival of the movie saw resurgence in its popularity.

REVIEW: MY BLOODY VALENTINE (2009)

CAST

Jensen Ackles (Supernatural)
Jaime King (Sin City)
Kerr Smith (Final Destination)
Betsy Rue (Halloween II)
Ed Gathegi (X-Men: First Class)
Tom Atkins (Halloween III)
Kevin Tighe (Lost)
Megan Boone (The Blacklist)
Marc Macaulay (Swamp Thing: The Series)

On the Valentine’s Day of 1997, in a small town, a cave-in on the north side of a Hanninger mine trapped six miners. Six days later, rescue teams found five dead miners and the comatose Harry Warden (Richard John Walters), who survived by killing the other miners with a pickaxe, allowing himself to breathe. Tom Hanniger (Jensen Ackles) the owner’s son, was blamed for the mine disaster because he forgot to vent the methane lines and caused a cave-in, but also Harry Warden for killing the miners.
A year later, Valentine’s Day, Warden wakes from his coma in the hospital, and goes on a murderous rampage. Soon after, Sheriff Burke (Tom Atkins) arrives, finding multiple mutilated bodies many of which have been severed in half and the heart of a nurse inside a candy box. Burke and his partner come to the conclusion that Warden had awoken from his coma and, realizing they don’t have much time left, they try to figure out where he’s headed. Meanwhile, at the abandoned mine shaft that was the site of the disaster, a party is in full swing, attended by many teens, including Axel Palmer (Kerr Smith), his girlfriend, Irene (Betsy Rue), Tom Hanniger and his girlfriend, Sarah (Jaime King). Tom was initially reluctant to go, but he goes anyway. He leaves Sarah and goes back to his car to pick up some beers before going inside.

Sarah goes alone and gets lost looking for Axel and Irene. She runs across a teen and a few seconds later, he is stabbed through his eye. She is confronted by Warden in full miner’s garb, carrying a bloody pickaxe, and she flees, finding several dead bodies. Axel grabs her and they, along with Irene, hide from the killer. Warden eventually sees the trio, and they run out of the mine, meeting Tom as he comes in. Warden hits Tom with the pickaxe, injuring him, while the other three run for the car. Sarah tries to go back for Tom but Warden throws a pickaxe into the windshield of Axel’s truck, just an inch away from stabbing Sarah in the eye. Axel, realizing he has no other choice starts up his truck and leaves Tom behind. Warden turns his attention towards Tom, who runs back into the mine in an attempt to escape from him. Before Tom can be killed, Burke and his partner arrive and shoot Warden, who makes his getaway back into the mine. Tom also appears shocked by the events.  Ten years later, in 2008, Tom’s father, from whom Tom has been estranged, dies and Tom inherits the mine. Tom returns to town after his father’s funeral to sell the mine, having vanished since the incident; it was unknown where he was, since he was devastated by the events and unable to see Axel and Sarah after they had abandoned him in the mine to die. Axel is now sheriff and married to Sarah and they have a son, but he is cheating on her with Megan (Megan Boone), who works with Sarah at Sarah’s grocery store.

After Megan and Axel have sex at his family’s old house in the woods, Megan gives Axel a Valentine’s Day card and a box of candy and tells him that she is pregnant with his child. Meanwhile, at the motel where Tom is staying, Irene is having sex with a local trucker named Frank (Todd Farmer). After they finish, Frank reveals that he has been filming her. Irene goes out completely naked and angry about the events, drawing a gun on him. After he reveals that the gun is empty, she throws it and hits him, but he ignores her. Just as he enters the truck, he is impaled with a pickaxe through the head by a man in full miner garb, face completely covered by his mask. The killer chases Irene through the motel, but she hides under the bed. The noise draws Selene (Selene Luna), the midget motel owner, into the room, and the miner kills her by impaling her whole body through the head on the lights above. Irene makes a noise and is discovered by the killer, who removes the bed mattress and stabs her to death. Axel is called to the scene of the crime, and finds Irene cut open, her heart missing; he also discovers Tom’s name on the register of people staying at the motel.

He returns to his office, where he sees a video of the miner following Irene. Axel and his partner Martin talk about how it can’t be Warden, despite the rumors. Then Axel receives a candy box with Irene’s heart inside, just like Warden had done with the nurse ten years ago. Meanwhile, Tom is visiting his newly inherited mine. In the mine, the killer traps Tom in a cage while William “Red” Kirkpatrick (Jeff Hochendoner) is calling for Ben, who is an old friend of the Hannigers. ‘Warden’ proceeds to murder Red and a group of miners show up seconds later. Suspicion falls on Tom, despite the fact that he was locked in a cage the entire time. At the hospital afterwards, Axel asks Burke what happened to the killer. Burke says that he and Ben Foley (Kevin Tighe), the mine manager, killed and buried Warden. But when Axel, Tom, and Sarah accompany them to the burial spot, Warden’s body is no longer there. Later on, Foley is at his house when he hears a noise. He goes outside with a shotgun to find nobody there, but when he goes back inside he is attacked by ‘Warden’, who knocks him down and impales his head with the pickaxe. The police find his body at the burial spot with his chest cut open. Axel, angry about the events, orders a police guard on his home to protect his son.Meanwhile, Sarah is with Megan at the store when ‘Warden’ arrives. He chases them through the store, but they lock themselves in the office. The window is locked, but Megan finds the key while Sarah is blocking the door with a table. Just as ‘Warden’ breaks a hole in the door and unlocks it, Megan goes through the window and Sarah, who is right behind her, turns around and notices that ‘Warden’ has disappeared from the office door. She quickly tries to pull Megan back into the office, knowing that ‘Warden’ is going to the outside window but she’s too late, as ‘Warden’ arrives outside and grabs Megan. Sarah runs back through the store and encounters Axel outside. They find Megan’s mutilated body in the alley with the message “Be Mine 4 Ever” scrawled in blood on the wall above. Sarah ponders why Megan was killed when she had no relation to the mine. Sarah comes to the conclusion that the killer was trying to get at Axel, and she admits she knew about their affair. Axel then sends her to the hospital. Meanwhile, at Axel and Sarah’s home, their son Noah is watching TV with his babysitter Rosa (Joy de la Paz), while Deputy Ferris (Karen Baum) is in the squad car watching the premises. Suddenly, ‘Warden’ arrives and impales Rosa with the pickaxe and throws her into the washing machine, scalding her. Burke arrives and warns Ferris about ‘Warden’s’ presence.

Ferris goes to check the house, while Burke is at the porch. Ferris finds Noah and warns him to hide, and she finds Rosa’s mutilated body in the washing machine. She warns Burke, but he is killed by ‘Warden’. Meanwhile, Sarah is in the hospital and Tom calls her and convinces her that Warden is not the killer. He tells her that he needs her to trust him as he has found something he needs to show her. On the road Tom tries to convince Sarah that Axel is the killer. Axel calls Sarah while she and Tom are in the car; Axel tells her that Tom has been in a mental hospital for the last seven years since Harry Warden’s rampage and that he is the killer.

Shocked, Sarah attempts to get Tom to drive her home and, when he refuses, she grabs the wheel and crashes Tom’s car. Tom is knocked out momentarily and Sarah escapes. She calls Axel and he instructs her to go to his father’s old house. When she enters she finds hundreds of candy heart boxes and her old picture with Tom. The killer, confirming that he is not Warden, appears. Sarah distracts him and runs into the mine shaft where the original murders took place. She runs into Axel and steals his gun. Pointing the gun at Axel she asks him about the hundreds of candy boxes. He seems confused and blames Tom. Tom then appears and Sarah points the gun at him too. Both men accuse the other of being the killer.
Tom gives himself away when he points out that the message over Megan’s dead body (“Be Mine 4 Ever”) was the same as what Megan wrote to Axel in the Valentine card, revealing that he knows Megan is dead which is information that only Axel and Sarah knew. Tom begins to hallucinate when what seems to be Warden appears in the mine with them. Tom tries to warn Sarah but Axel points his flashlight into the area that Tom is pointing to and shakes his head no, she tells him that nothing is there. Warden walks right up to Tom then disappears. A montage then plays out all the murders in the film again, revealing Tom to be the true killer. Sarah tells Tom that Harry isn’t there with them, to which Axel replies “Oh, he’s here, aren’t you Harry? You living inside Tom?” Tom turns to him, smirks, and says, “Oh, I’m right here”. This also reveals that Tom has developed a split personality: as himself and as Harry Warden. Axel is infuriated and grabs the pickaxe, rushing at Tom. The two fight, Axel gains the upper hand and knocks Tom onto the ground, but Tom injures him with the pickaxe. Tom runs off and Sarah and Axel try to hide. Tom comes and finds them, smashing out lights with the pickaxe as he goes. As each light goes out, Tom flashes between being him, and being the miner. Sarah shoots Tom through his side and the bullet hits a gas tank, causing an explosion that causes the mine to collapse.

Rescue teams enter the mine, searching for the survivors. One lone rescuer finds Tom, barely conscious and covered in debris and planks of wood. He tells Tom not to worry, help is coming, when Tom suddenly grabs his pickaxe and impales the rescuer through his mask. Sarah and Axel get out, and Axel is taken away in an ambulance while Sarah is taken by Martin. Then a miner holding his injured side is seen leaving the mine. It is revealed to be Tom as he takes off the mask and walks away.Overall My Bloody Valentine, delivers an entertaining ride through dark alleys, mine shafts and the evil minds of writers Todd Farmer and Zane Smith. Slightly on the lighter side of the horror genre this film develops enough jump scares, with the help of three dimensional effects to deliver a fun and fast 101 minutes. See this one with a friend and laugh out loud when a 20′ branch comes screaming at your head (and try not to duck)!

 

REVIEW: GONE BABY GONE

CAST

Casey Affleck (The Killer Inside me)
Michelle Monaghan (Mission Impossible III)
Morgan Freeman (The Dark Knight)
Ed Harris (The Abyss)
John Ashton (Midnight Run)
Amy Ryan (Birdman)
Titus Welliver (Agents of Shield)
Amy Madigan (Uncle Buck)
Michael Kenneth Williams (The Road)
Edi Gathegi (Beauty and The Beast
Mark Margolis (Breaking Bad)

“Gone Baby Gone” is the first film I’ve seen in some time to confront the veracity of consequences, that unbearable burden of conscience, with fearless authenticity. There are no happy endings here, just life walking despondently down a dark path, making this picture glow with heavy dramatic nuance that’s impossible to flush out of your system. It’s the directorial debut of actor Ben Affleck, and it announces a mighty talent behind the camera to come.

When a little girl is abducted from her Boston home, relatives (including Amy Madigan) hire private investigators Patrick Kenzie (Casey Affleck) and Angie Gennaro (Michelle Monaghan) to help augment the search. Hitting the local dives to rustle up clues to the girl’s whereabouts, Kenzie starts to share information with two cops (Ed Harris and John Ashton) who are working the case. With the coked-up mother (Amy Ryan, in an incredible performance) deceptive and the police captain (Morgan Freeman) seemingly unaware of the details, Kenzie finds his eyes opened by the depth of betrayal, lies, and death that accompany this otherwise straightforward missing child case. What makes “Gone” such a remarkable foray into neighborhood crime is the source material. Adapted by Affleck and Aaron Stockard from Dennis Lehane’s novel of the same name.

Right from the starter pistol, “Gone” drips with the kind of beer-splattered cultural meticulousness that  sucks the viewer into the setting. We are there with Kenzie as he makes his rounds in the seedy bars, grungy drug hovels, and unlit street corners to collect his information. Affleck treats the locations as hallowed ground, retaining the uneasy neighborhood pride that defends even the most derelict of shelters. “Gone” is a place where despair meets fatigued dignity, and Affleck emphasizes every last beat of Beantown bravado with his amazing attention to community detail.

“Gone” is an idiosyncratic tale of crime, told from the perspective of Kenzie and his weary ways, but twisting through a myriad of subplots covering corruption, abuse, and pedophile horrors. Couple that with the screenplay’s machine-gun-like unloading of plot points and character names, and the effect can be dizzying; to counter the weight of the story, Affleck offers rich streams of bruiser dialogue, which rolls off the actors’ tongues with roller-coaster malice. This is sold exceptionally well by Casey Affleck, who defies his beanpole frame to become Lee Marvin Jr., keeping to a strident Boston code of ethics as he pushes himself up into the faces of his enemies and informants. “Gone” contains a rich tapestry of performances that deepen the psychological well of the moment, but Affleck is the anchor, and under his big brother’s watch, he gives a career-best turn as an innocent sent on a mission that will curse his life forever.“Gone Baby Gone” pushes through an incredible amount of left turns in the final act, sorting out the subplots and positioning itself in a manner that explores the shrapnel left behind when steadfast morality is detonated. Throughout the film Affleck cushions the central nightmare with reoccurring images of religious icons and law enforcement camaraderie, leading to a conclusion that places the idea of right and wrong on trial, with Affleck putting Kenzie’s final judgment call into the hands of the audience.