REVIEW: THE PURGE: ELECTION YEAR

CAST

Frank Grillo (Captain America: Civil War)
Elizabeth Mitchell (Lost)
Mykelti Williamson (Three Kings)
Joseph Julian Soria (Superfast!)
Betty Gabriel (Get Out)
Terry Serpico (Hannibal)
Raymond J. Barry (Alias)
Edwin Hodge (Red Dawn)
Kyle Secor (Veronica Mars)
Ethan Phillips (Bad Santa)

The film opens in the year 2022, concurrent to the events of the first film. A masked purger taunts a young woman named Charlie Roan (Cristy Coco) and her family. He then tells them they are going to play one final Purge game, called “Mommy’s Choice.” When she refuses, the man moves slowly towards the family as they struggle. Eighteen years later, two days before the Purge, riots are breaking out all over Washington, D.C., claiming that the New Founding Fathers are using the Purge to help their economic agenda; likely thanks to the last film. This is having a great effect on the upcoming Presidential election. Charlie Roan (Elizabeth Mitchell), now a Senator, is gaining ground over the NFFA’s candidate, Minister Edwidge Owens (Kyle Secor). The NFFA, headed by Caleb Warrens (Raymond J. Barry), view Roan as a threat to their rule and plan to use the upcoming Purge to eliminate her from play.Meanwhile, Roan and Owens attend a debate and, while Owens states how America’s crime rates are lowering, Roan gets a standing ovation after she declares the Purge only serves to eliminate the poor and benefit the rich and powerful, after which she then breaks security protocol, by stepping into the audience. At a convenience store, owner and proprietor Joe Dixon (Mykelti Williamson), assistant Marcos (Joseph Julian Soria), and their friend, EMT Laney Rucker (Betty Gabriel), watch the coverage on television. While Joe and Laney believes that Roan may not have a chance, Marcos replies that she would win and make changes.
On March 20, the day before the Purge, the NFFA revokes the Purge rule that protects ranking 10 government officials, appearing to attempt to regain public favor, but is actually a front to kill Roan. That same day, Joe and Laney confront a teenage shoplifter named Kimmy (Brittany Mirabile) and her friend (Juani Feliz) both attempting to steal a candy bar. Later, an enraged Joe discovers that his Purge insurance rates have been raised beyond his affordability, prompting him to stake out and guard his store. Roan decides to wait out the Purge from her unsecured home in order to secure the popular vote of the common people. Her head of security, former police sergeant Leo Barnes (Frank Grillo), initially disagrees with the idea but accepts her reasons. He then revamps security and has Roan’s house re-secured with new barricades and surrounded by secret service agents and SWAT snipers standing watch outside, with his partners Chief Couper (Ethan Phillips) and Eric Busmalis (Adam Cantor) as well as three more secret service agents partly supervising the event from indoors. Meanwhile, a group of South African tourists deplaning and claiming their baggage at Dulles Airport are interviewed by a news anchor wherein their response is to join the Purge. News of airports across America flooding with more tourists traveling to the United States to witness or join the Purge make the press dub them as “Murder Tourists”.
After Purge Night commences, Joe and Marcos repel an attack by the teenage shoplifters, injuring Kimmy. Laney and her partner Dawn (Liza Colón-Zayas) patrol the city in a heavily modified ambulance, rendering medical care to the wounded. Roan and Barnes are betrayed by Couper and Busmalis, who signal a Neo-Nazi paramilitary force led by Earl Danzinger (Terry Serpico) and secretly let them into the household, having killed all the secret service agents and SWAT snipers. As the troops assassinate the three remaining secret service agents, Barnes manages to get Roan to safety, but is wounded in the process. He detonates a bomb in the house, killing Couper, Busmalis, and a few troops. Navigating through the hostile streets of Washington D.C. to seek safer shelter, Roan and Barnes are ambushed and taken captive by a group of Russian Murder Tourists. While the group taunts them, Marcos spots the commotion, prompting him and Joe to leave the store’s roof and rescue the duo. They shoot the group dead and take Barnes and Roan to Joe’s store. Roan converses with the two while Marcos tries to tend to Barnes’ wound. As Barnes and Joe get into a light argument, Marcos then witnesses the teenage shoplifters returning in two groups, causing Joe to call Laney and Dawn for backup, who can’t respond immediately as they are treating a teenage boy named Rondo (Jared Kemp). As Barnes, Roan, Joe and Marcos prepare to defend themselves, Laney and Dawn arrive and run over Kimmy and her friend with their ambulance. Laney then guns down the other shoplifters before finishing off a heavily wounded Kimmy with a point-blank headshot. The group then leave the store for a safer hideout.
With Barnes, Roan, Joe, Laney, Dawn, Rondo and Marcos safe in the ambulance, the group is ambushed by a helicopter piloted by Danzinger, who end up killing Rondo. The surviving six then seek refuge underneath a highway overpass wherein Barnes deduces they were found because the bullet in his chest is a tracker. After he extracts the bullet, the group is confronted by members of the Crips but when Joe gives the gang’s trademark whistle call (revealing that he was once their member), the Crips calm. The gang leader asks the group to tend to his wounded “boy” to which the group agrees. In return for the group’s actions, the Crips plant the bullet in another area to trick the paramilitary forces after telling the former to leave. When two of Danzinger’s ground team members find the bullet, the Crips emerge from hiding and eliminate them.
 Barnes, Roan, Joe, Laney, Dawn, and Marcos are led to a hideout beneath a hospital protected by anti-Purge rebels led by Dwayne Bishop (Edwin Hodge) where volunteer doctors and nurses administer to wounded Purge victims while other professionals supply food, water, and medicines. Joe, Marcos, and Laney decide to go back to the store, but spot several NFFA death squad trucks heading to the hideout. Meanwhile, Roan discovers the rebels are planning to assassinate Owens and tries to dissuade them, as she wants to win the election fairly. They are forced to flee as Dawn alerts the entire hideout of death squad forces arriving. Barnes and Roan survive the hostile alleyways and they meet up again with the ambulance. However, before the group can escape the city, the ambulance is rammed by Danzinger, and Roan is seized.
Roan is delivered alongside a drug addict name Lawrence by Danzinger to Owens, who is presiding over a midnight Purge mass in an NFFA-captured Catholic cathedral, while Barnes and the others give chase. The group meet up with Bishop and his team wherein they formulate a plan to rescue Roan by infiltrating the cathedral through a tunnel system. Meanwhile, at the cathedral, Owens has his friend Harmon James (Christopher James Baker), another NFFA loyalist, stab Lawrence as a cleansing ritual for his longtime vice. As he invites the high-ranking members of the NFFA to the altar to sacrifice Roan with Warrens to lead them in the purging, the group and Bishop’s team reaches the cathedral wherein Barnes and his team stealthily eliminates the NFFA Secret Service Agents and get to the choir loft to position.When Warrens begins to slit Roan’s throat, Marcos assassinates him from the choir loft, instigating a chaos that signals Bishop’s team to invade the cathedral. As the entire congregation begins to disperse and flee in panic, the group fires into the fleeing crowd, killing a vast number of them and leaving only a few, including Owens and James, to escape. A second horde of NFFA secret service agents attempts to eliminate the group but are gunned down by Bishop’s team. After the rebels untie Roan, the group head to the cathedral’s crypt to find Owens. Bishop captures Owens and contemplates killing him, to the protests of Roan and Barnes, while Owens goads him on to kill him. Bishop refrains, and spares him on the condition that Roan wins the election. As Barnes knocks Owens unconscious with Joe watching, the group also discovers a large number of bound and gagged Purge mass sacrifice victims that Owens had stashed in the crypt.Bishop and his men decide to secure transport to leave the cathedral while Barnes, Roan, Joe, Laney and Marcos attempt to untie the captives. However, they are soon ambushed by Danzinger and his mercenaries, leaving the rebel team killed and Bishop wounded. Barnes rushes out to help him, leaving Roan in the care of Laney and company. Bishop manages to dispatch the remaining mercenaries but is fatally gunned down by Danzinger. Seeing this, Barnes engages Danzinger in a vicious melee combat wherein the former gains the upper hand, killing the latter. As Roan frees some of the last of Owens’ imprisoned victims, James emerges from hiding and fires at the group, killing one of the newly freed victims. After incapacitating Laney and wounding Marcos, he targets Roan but Joe steps in and engages in a furious crossfire with James, finally killing him with a headshot. Before succumbing to his injuries, Joe urges Roan to win the election and tells Marcos and Laney to take care of his store.
On May 26, two months after the Purge, Roan defeats Owens in the presidency by a landslide while Barnes is promoted to her head of Secret Service while continuing his service as her chief of security. Marcos and Laney renovate the store and continue to run it in Joe’s honor while they watch the news of Roan’s victory and another report indicating that outlawing the Purge has become Roan’s top priority. Further reports state that many NFFA supporters have reacted to the election results with violent protests in the streets as the film ends with Marcos looking at an American flag hanging outside his store.When it comes to The Purge franchise, they get better and better with each installment. The Purge: Election Year builds on the groundwork of the first 2 movies, With the heavy political message it conveys, it won’t please everyone but it’s one hell of a greatfilm.

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REVIEW: THE PURGE: ANARCHY

CAST
Frank Grillo (Beyond Skyline)
Carmen Ejogo (Selma)
Zach Gilford (The Last Stand)
Kiele Sanchez (Lost)
Zoe Soul (Prisoners)
Justina Machado (Final Destination 2)
Noel Gugliemi (The Fast and The Furious)
Michael Kenneth Williams (Gone Baby Gone)
Edwin Hodge (Red Dawn)
On March 21, 2023, the media credits the Purge for low unemployment and poverty levels across the country. Hours before the annual Purge begins, people either prepare to commit violence or barricade themselves indoors. Meanwhile, an anti-Purge resistance group intermittently hacks into TV programs to broadcast messages challenging the system, stating that the Purge does not cleanse aggression, but rather eliminates the poor. In Los Angeles, a waitress named Eva Sanchez (Carmen Ejogo) rushes home to her daughter Cali (Zoë Soul) and her terminally ill father. As they prepare to lock down for the evening, Eva’s father slips out and into a waiting limo. A note left behind explains that he has sold himself as a Purge offering for $100,000 to be paid to Eva following the Purge.
Married couple Shane (Zach Gilford) and Liz (Kiele Sanchez) are driving to Shane’s sister to wait out the Purge. Their car dies just as the Purge commences. A gang that cut their fuel line when they stopped at a market appears, forcing Shane and Liz to flee on foot. Elsewhere, an unnamed off-duty police Sergeant (Frank Grillo) tells his ex-wife that he must Purge to avenge the death of his son, and goes out into the streets heavily armed.
Moments after the Purge commences, a truck pulls up at the apartment house and disgorges heavily armed paramilitary men into the neighborhood. The apartment building’s superintendent Diego, who felt rejected by Eva in the past, bursts in with a shotgun intending to rape and kill them both. Diego sexually abuses Eva as he hears noises outside. As Diego stands up and challenges the paramilitary men, they shoot him to death, and drag Eva and Cali out into the street to their leader Big Daddy (Jack Conley) for his own personal Purge. As Big Daddy prepares his minigun to murder Eva and Cali, the Sergeant exits his car, murders all the surrounding paramilitary men and shoots Big Daddy in his cheek, incapacitating him. He rescues Eva and Cali, offering them protection. Returning to his car, the Sergeant finds Shane and Liz hiding in the back. The Sergeant is forced to take them when Big Daddy begins firing the minigun at the Sergeant’s car. When the heavily damaged car breaks down a few blocks later, Eva promises him the car of her co-worker Tanya (Justina Machado) if the Sergeant takes them to her apartment.
The group descends into the city’s underground subway system where the homeless are hiding to avoid the Purgers on higher ground. They think they are safe, but a Purge pyrotechnics gang wielding flamethrowers and a minigun arrive in the tunnel and begin to set the homeless people on fire, while also starting to advance on the Sergeant and the others. The gang attempts to murder the group, but Shane and Liz use the Sergeant’s machine guns and open fire on their assailants, creating a massive explosion which kills the murderers, and the five leave the tunnel to reach higher ground.
As the five survive intense street fighting, they notice a man in a suit tied to a wall outside with a knife in his stomach, implying that many wealthy Purgers and paramilitary men are being murdered by Anti-Purge resistance fighters. After reaching Tanya’s apartment, Eva admits that there is no car. As Tanya’s family aids the five with food and medicine, her sister Lorraine (Roberta Valderrama) suddenly shoots and kills Tanya for having sex with her husband. Lorraine shoots at family members and engages in a gunfight with the Sergeant as he tells Eva and the others to leave, and they exit the apartment. As the group flees, Big Daddy, who has tracked them through traffic cameras, arrives with more armed guards. The group evades Big Daddy only to be captured by the gang that was pursuing Liz and Shane.
Liz asks the gang why they are doing this, and one of the masked members responds that they will not kill them, but that they will die that night. The gang leaves the five at a building where they are delivered to a theater where wealthy Purgers bid on them, and if they are chosen then will be forced into a chamber to be killed. Five wealthy Purgers bid on the group, and they are forced into the chamber. However, the Sergeant and the others gain the upper hand over the Purgers. The observers of the event alert the theater’s elite security forces of the activity after the Sergeant kills five of the wealthy Purgers, and they swarm the chamber and kill Shane. Just before the security can kill the four, Anti-Purge insurgency forces storm the chamber and begin to murder the security guards, killing a large number of them. Liz chooses to join the fighters to avenge Shane’s death. The Sergeant hijacks a wealthy Purger’s Cadillac with Eva and Cali, and threatens her before they drive away.
The Sergeant drives to a suburban neighborhood. He explains that a year earlier, a man named Warren Grass (Brandon Keener) was driving under the influence one day when Grass hit the Sergeant’s son, killing him. Sergeant attacks Grass and his wife in their bedroom, threatening Grass with a knife before the camera cuts away. Leaving the house, the Sergeant is shot and wounded by Big Daddy, who says the New Founding Fathers believe the Purge eliminates too few of lower class and they have secretly dispatched death squads to increase the body count. He states the unwritten rule: do not save people. But before he kills Sergeant, Grass appears and shoots Big Daddy, killing him, revealing that Sergeant chose to forgive and spare him. Eva, Cali, and Grass have a standoff with Big Daddy’s death squad when the siren blares, ending the 12-hour Purge and forcing the death squad to leave the scene. Grass, Eva, and Cali rush the Sergeant to the hospital as emergency services begin cleaning up after the Annual Purge.
Yes the movie isn’t perfect- we don’t get to know our characters well enough to care too much. But there is this underlining dread about the movie, like waiting for something to happen that grips your most inner fears, and this movie has that down to a tea. It could have been better and the climax isn’t as rewarding as it promises to be, but The Purge: Anarchy is a real surprise.

REVIEW: THE PURGE

CAST
Ethan Hawke (Training Day)
Lena Headey (Game of Thrones)
Max Burkholder (Daddy Day Care)
Adelaide Kane (Reign)
Edwin Hodge (Red Dawn)
Rhys Wakefield (The Black Balloon)
Arja Bareikis (One Life to Live)
On March 21, 2022, James Sandin (Ethan Hawke) returns to his home in an affluent Los Angeles suburb to wait out the night with his wife, Mary, (Lena Headey) and their two children, Zoey (Adelaide Kane) and Charlie (Max Burkholder). James is the top salesman for elaborate security systems designed specifically for Purge Night, and the family is assured that the security system manufactured by James’ company will keep them safe. Their neighbors attribute the size and fittings of the newly extended Sandins’ house to his success in selling security products to them for Purge Night.
While the family awaits the start of the Purge, Zoey sees her boyfriend Henry (Tony Oller), an older boy whom James dislikes. James enables the security system, and as the Purge begins, the family disperses in their home to go about their normal routines. Zoey returns to her room to unexpectedly find Henry, who managed to sneak back in before the security system was engaged, and says that he plans to confront her dad about their relationship. Meanwhile, Charlie watches the security monitors and sees a wounded man calling for help. He temporarily disables the system to allow the man (Edwin Hodge) into the house. James races to re-engage the system and holds the man at gunpoint as Henry comes downstairs and pulls a gun on James. Henry fires at James and misses, but James fires back, mortally wounding and eventually killing Henry. During the chaos, the man disappears and hides. James takes Mary and Charlie back to the security control room.
As James is reprimanding Charlie for letting the man into their home, they view over the surveillance cameras a gang of masked young adults armed with guns, axes and hammers coming up to the front lawn. Their leader (Rhys Wakefield) removes his mask and compliments the Sandins on their support of the Purge, and then tells them that if they do not give them the homeless man, they will be forced to “release the beast”, implying they will forcefully enter the house and kill everyone inside. Mary asks James if the security system will help protect them, but James admits the system is only supposed to discourage potential invaders and would not actually protect them against heavy force. The gang cuts the power to the house, and Zoey disappears but then goes to Charlie’s remote control live stream camera car. Zoey finds Charlie’s toy car and speaks to the camera, as she knows Charlie is watching, and tells him that she will hide in his secret hiding place. The man takes her hostage, but James and Mary subdue him. The family realizes that they are no better than the gang that is waiting outside, and they decide not to turn the man over, but to fight back instead.
With their deadline having passed, the gang uses a truck to rip the metal plating off the front door and enter the house. James kills four of them before he himself is fatally stabbed by the leader. Charlie views the surveillance cameras and notices the family’s neighbors leaving their homes, and fatally shooting some of the Purging gang waiting outside. Just as the gang is about to kill Mary, several of the family’s neighbors arrive and kill most of the Purge gang. The leader attacks the family, but Zoey steps out from a hallway and shoots him dead. Mary thanks the neighbors for their support, but the neighbors reveal that they are angry at the Sandins for their wealth acquired by the money the neighbors paid the Sandins with for various security products. They tie Mary, Charlie and Zoey up with duct tape, pulling them out into the hallway to kill them.
As the neighbors make final preparations for the murder, the homeless man from earlier appears, shoots a neighbor to death and holds Grace Ferrin (Arija Bareikis), another neighbor, hostage. He forces the other neighbors to cut the Sandins’ ties, freeing them. He asks for Mary’s call to kill the neighbors, but Mary decides to leave them alive, instructing the neighbors there will be no more killing for the remainder of the night. As dawn arrives, a few minutes before the Purge ends, Grace attempts to grab a shotgun off a table, but Mary pulls the gun away and uses the stock of the gun to hit Grace in the nose, and then throws her face down into the glass table and breaks her nose. Mary strictly reminds her there will be no more killing for the rest of the Purge in the house. After some time, the sirens go off, announcing the end of the annual Purge. The neighbors leave for their own homes. After the man leaves, Mary, Zoey and Charlie wait and watch as emergency services come to retrieve the dead. During the credits, news reports state this year’s Purge is the most successful Purge to date.
Visceral and violent, the movie is also articulate and thought-provoking – but most of all it is extremely unsettling. All of which adds up to a great film.

REVIEW: ALL THE BOYS LOVE MANY LANE

CAST
Amber Heard (Machete Kills)
Anson Mount (Non-Stop)
Whitney Able (Monsters)
Michael Welch (Twilight)
Edwin Hodge (The Purge)
Melissa Price (The Kid & I)
At a Texas high school, Mandy Lane (Amber Heard) is an outsider who becomes a “hot chick” over the summer and starts getting a great deal of attention from her male classmates. One of those classmates, Dylan, invites Mandy to a pool party at his house and she accepts with the provision that her best friend, Emmet (Michael Welch) (another outsider and bullying victim), can come along with her. At the party, Dylan attacks Emmett, and holds his head under water in the pool until Mandy intercedes. As revenge, Emmet convinces a drunken Dylan to jump off the roof into the pool, but he hits his head on the cement and dies.
Nine months later, Mandy has since befriended many of Dylan’s popular friends, while Emmet has been almost completely ostracized and is subjected to even more intense bullying. Stoner Red is having a small party at his father’s cattle ranch and invites Mandy along, which she accepts after receiving permission from her aunt.
Mandy, Chloe, Bird, Red, Jake, and Marlin, arrive at the ranch, and meet the ranch hand, Garth (Anson Mount). That night, while playing drinking games, Jake gets offended over a joke and storms off to a nearby cattle barn, where Marlin performs oral sex on him. They have another argument, and after he walks off again, Marlin is knocked out with a double-barreled shotgun by an unseen assailant, and has her jaw broken. After getting rebuffed by Mandy while making a move, Jake steals Red’s shotgun and pickup truck and goes off in search of Marlin, before finding her sitting by a lake. The hooded killer is revealed to be Emmet, as he wants revenge for all the humiliation he suffered. He proceeds to shoot Jake in the head and then break Marlin’s neck with the butt of the shotgun, killing them both. While the remaining friends sit on the house porch, Emmet shoots fireworks at them from Red’s truck; Bird gives chase, believing the driver to be Jake. When he realises it is in fact Emmet, they get into a fight, which results in Emmet slashing his eyes with a knife, and then stabbing him to death. The rest of friends, along with Garth, fall asleep in the house.
The next morning, Garth, sensing someone in the house, goes downstairs and finds the words “wake up” spelled out in bloody alphabet magnets on the refrigerator. As the group attempts to flee out the front door, Garth is shot by Emmet and wounded. While Mandy looks after Garth, Red and Chloe try to run to Chloe’s car, but Red is shot in the back by Emmet, who then chases after Chloe in her car. Mandy retrieves the keys to Garth’s Bronco from his shack and finds the bloody knife that Emmet used to kill Bird. She goes outside to find Chloe being chased in her direction; Mandy embraces her, but then stabs her in the stomach, revealing that she is helping Emmet with the murders. She leaves her to bleed to death (her fate is left unknown) and meets up with Emmet. Mandy and Emmet then discuss their suicide pact they had planned but she refuses to go through with it. Refusing to let her back down, Emmet prepares to shoot her but Garth intervenes by wounding Emmet with his shotgun, before being nearly killed. An irritated Emmet chases Mandy into the fields, where they both fall into a ditch filled with cattle carcasses and get into a fight; Mandy manages to hold out against Emmet’s repeated attempts to swipe her with his machete, and finally hacks him to death with his own machete which was stuck to a tree log. She returns to the critically injured but still alive Garth, and they both drive away from the ranch, where Garth thanks Mandy for saving him, incorrectly assuming her to be a victim in Emmet’s murder plot.
A flashback shows the group back at a railroad track, where they took a break from their drive. While they are all goofing off, Mandy is shown balancing on the tracks, watching her future victims
All the Boys Love Mandy Lane isn’t your average slasher film and that’s its biggest strength as it brings something fresh to the table.This is worth seeing for the ending alone as while it does reveal why the killer is doing what they’re doing and things of that nature, it leaves a lot of things open ended.

REVIEW: RED DAWN (2012)

CAST
Chris Hemsworth (Thor)
Isabel Lucas (Immortals)
Josh Hutcherson (The Hunger Games)
Adrianne Palicki (Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.)
Edwin Hodge (The Purge)
Josh Peck (Aliens In The Attic)
Brett Cullen (Ghost Rider)
Alyssa Diaz (The Vampire Diaries)
Will Yun Lee (Elektra)
Jeffrey Dean Morgan (Watchmen)
Kenneth Choi (The Terminal)
An introductory montage shows the fallout of the economic crisis in the European Union and a weakened NATO alliance, amid increasing co-operation between an increasingly militant North Korea and ultranationalist-controlled Russia. The increased deployment of U.S. troops abroad (and the highlighted threat of cyberwarfare) leaves the mainland vulnerable.
U.S. Marine Jed Eckert is home on leave in Spokane, Washington. He reunites with his father, Spokane Police Sergeant Tom Eckert and his brother, high school football player Matt Eckert. The morning after a mysterious power outage, swarms of invading North Korean paratroopers and transport aircraft attack the city. The two storm out of the house and Matt witnesses an F-16 shoot down a Korean transport plane while they leave in a pick-up truck. Their father tells them to flee to their cabin in the woods while he helps the townspeople. They are later joined there by Matt’s fellow students Robert, Daryl, Toni, Danny, Julie, Greg and Pete. Tensions build as the teens try to decide whether to surrender to the invaders or resist, with Pete ending up betraying their position. North Korean soldiers, under the command of Captain Cho, bring Sergeant Eckert and the mayor out to convince the group to surrender, but Cho executes Sergeant Eckert after he refuses to cooperate and actively encourages them to resist (or die trying).
Jed intends to fight and the others agree to join him, calling themselves the Wolverines after their school mascot. After acquiring weapons, establishing a base in an abandoned mine, and being trained by Jed, the Wolverines begin a series of guerrilla attacks against soldiers and collaborators, including Pete. During one attack, they lose Greg, but rescue Matt’s girlfriend, Erica. The North Koreans retaliate by bombarding the surrounding woods to destroy the Wolverines’ base, killing Danny and Julie, with the remaining survivors fleeing deeper into the woods. The Wolverines encounter Marine Sergeant Major Andrew Tanner and Marines Smith and Hodges. They reveal that the Russian-backed North Korean invasion used an electromagnetic pulse (EMP) weapon that crippled the U.S.electrical grid and military infrastructure, followed by landings of the invasion of the entire East and West Coasts. American counterattacks eventually halted their advances, leaving an area stretching from Michigan to Montana and Alabama to Arizona as “Free America.” They also reveal that Captain Cho carries a suitcase containing an EMP-resistant radio telephone that would enable the U.S. command to monitor invasion force radio traffic and regroup for a counter-offensive. The Wolverines assist Tanner, Smith, and Hodges in infiltrating the North Koreans’ center of operations at a local police station. They succeed in stealing the suitcase with Jed avenging his father’s death by killing Cho, though Hodges is mortally wounded.
The Wolverines escape with the radio and regroup at their base. The Wolverines are ambushed by Russian Spetsnaz, and Jed is killed by a sniper as he walks past a window. Matt and the rest of the Wolverines escape with the radio to the Marines’ extraction point. The next day, Robert comes to the realization that during the police station escape, Daryl had been tagged with a tracking transmitter and that the Russians have been homing in on him ever since. After some thought, Daryl accepts the fact that he cannot go on with them, Robert gives Daryl his M249 SAW, and Daryl decides to stay behind, presumably to ambush the pursuing group and likely die in the encounter.
The group delivers the radio to Tanner and Smith, who depart in a helicopter. The remaining Wolverines stay behind and continue to fight; a scene shows the Wolverines recruiting more members and raiding prisoner camps. Matt uses Jed’s speech to convince others to join their cause. In the end of the film, the Wolverines, under Matt’s command, raid a North Korean prison camp, setting hundreds of prisoners free.
Rising above the flaws of Red Dawn, i found it to offer an action packed & emotional ride along a fictional story that is somewhat as semi-believable now, as it was back in the 80’s. I quite like this version.

REVIEW: BONES – SEASON 1-10

Image result for bones tv logo

MAIN CAST

Emily Deschanel (Boogeyman)
David Boreanaz (Angel)
Michaela Conlin (Enchanted)
T.J. Thyne (Ghost World)
Eric Millegan (The Phobic)
Jonathan Adams (Castle)
Tamara Taylor (Serenity)
John Francis Daley (Waiting…)
John Boyd (Argo)

RECURRING / NOTABLE GUEST STARS

Larry Poindexter (Blade: The Series)
Tyrees Allen (Robocop)
Bonita Friedericy (Chuck)
Chris Conner (Walk of Shame)
Anne Dudek (White Chicks)
Heavy D (The Cider House Rules)
Toby Hemingway (The Finder)
Alex Carter (Out of Time)
Bokeem Woodbine (Spider-Man: Homecoming)
Morris Chestnut (Kick-Ass 2)
Rachelle Lefevre (Twilight)
Michael Mantell (Angel)
Jeffrey Nordling (Arrow)
David Starzyk (Veronica Mars)
Heath Freeman (Nancy Drew)
John M. Jackson (JAG)
Josh Hopkins (Cold Case)
Leonard Roberts (Agent Carter)
Rachel Miner (The Butterfly Effect 3)
Alicia Coppola (Bull)
Jim Ortlieb (Roswell)
Billy Gibbons (Two and a Half Men)
Ty Panitz (Because I Said So)
Harry Groener (Buffy)
Michael B. Silver (I Am Sam)
Penny Marshall (The Simpsons)
Suzanne Cryer (Two Guys and a Girl)
Lawrence Pressman (Dark Angel)
Jaime Ray Newman (Bates Motel)
Zeljko Ivanek (Heroes)
Judith Hoag (Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles)
Ivar Brogger (Andromeda)
Josh Keaton (Transformers Prime)
Adriana DeMeo (Killer Movie)
Robert LaSardo (Nip/Tuck)
Jose Pablo Cantillo (Standoff)
Emilio Rivera (Renegade)
Michael Bowen (Lost)
Adam Baldwin (Firefly)
David Denman (Power Rangers)
Brian Gross (2 Broke Girls)
James Parks (Kill Bill)
Robert Foxworth (Evil Beneath Loch Ness)
Rodney Rowland (Veronica Mars)
Cullen Douglas (Agents of Shield)
Michelle Hurd (Jessica Jones)
Patricia Belcher (Mike & Molly)
Giancarlo Esposito (Son of Batman)
Alexandra Krosney (Lost)
Loren Dean (Apollo 13)
Ray Wise (Robocop)
Sam Witwer (Smallville)
Shane Johnson (Birds of Prey)
Jessica Capshaw (Valetnine)
Chris Conrad (Young Hercules)
Leah Pipes (The Originals)
Christie Lynn Smith (Swamp Thing: The Series)
Keri Lynn Pratt (Cruel Intentions 2)
Carlos Lacamara (Heroes Reborn)
Cerina Vincent (Cabin Fever)
Kali Rocha (Buffy)
Kyle Gallner (Smallville)
Lisa Thornhill (Veronica Mars)
Ariel Winter (Kiss Kiss Bang Bang)
Nelson Lee (Blade: The Series)
Benito Martinez (Million Dollar Baby)
Julie Ann Emery (Hitch)
Charles Mesure (V)
Sali Richardson-Whitfield (I Am Legend)
Joshua Leonard (The Blair Witch Project)
Michael Trevino (The Vampire Diaries)
Eddie McClintock (Agents of SHIELD)
Alex Winter (Waynes World)
French Stewart (Mom)
Stephen Fry (The Hobbit 2 & 3)
Ernie Hudson (Ghostbusters)
James Hong (The Big Bang Theory)
Deborah Theaker (Best In Show)
Eric Stonestreet (Modern Family)
George Coe (The Entity)
Johnny Lewis (Felon)
Ryan O’Neal (Love Story)
Brian Hallisay (Bottoms Up)
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Cleo King (Mike & Molly)
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Ron Canada (Ted 2)
Michael Cudlitz (The Walking Dead)
Christina Cox (Earth: Final Conflict)
Erin Chambers (Stargate: Atlantis)
Beth Grant (Wonderfalls)
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Lyndsey Bartilson (Grounded for Life)
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David Deluise (Vampires Suck)
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Chris William Martin (Dollhouse)
James Black (Anger Management)
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Whitney Anderson (Zombie Strippers)
Taylor Kinney (Zero Dark Thirty)
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Austin O’Brien (The Lawnmower Man)
George Wyner (American Pie 2)
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Carla Gallo (Superbad)
Elizabeth Lackey (Heroes)
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Richard Grant (Rocky V)
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Devon Gaye (Dexter)
Adam Rose(Veronica Mars)
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David Gallagher (7th Heaven)
Bruce Thomas (Legally Blonde)
Blake Shields (Heroes)
Jonathan LaPaglia (Seven Days)
Nichole Hiltz (Smallville)
Eric Lange (Lost)
Brendan Fehr (Roswell)
Gina Torres (Firefly)
Ryan Cartwright (Alphas)
Mageina Tovah (Spider-Man 2 & 3)
Andy Ritcher (Arrested Development)
Stephen Lee (The Negotiator)
Bianca Lawson (Buffy)
Nathan West (The SKulls 2)
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Tara Buck (True Blood)
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Tania Raymonde (Texas Chainsaw)
Brian Tee (Jurassic World)
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Rick Peters (Veronica Mars)
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Ryan Pinkston (Bad Santa)
Scottie Thompson (Skyline)
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Michael Arden (Anger Management)
Christopher B. Duncan (Veronica Mars)
Riki Lindhome (Million Dollar Baby)
Tiffany Hines (Lie To Me)
Billy Gardell (Mike & Molly)
Josie Davis (Sonny)
Amy Gumenick (Arrow)
Diedrich Bader (Vampires Suck)
Andy Umberger (Angel)
Tracy Middendorf (Scream: The Series)
Dan Castellaneta (The Simpsons)
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Bones very quickly garnered rave reviews and amassed a loyal following. Bones is loosely inspired by real life forensic anthropologist and author Kathy Reichs. This funny, clever, sometimes gross, and totally addictive crime drama centers around forensic anthropologist Dr. Temperence Brennan (Emily Deschanel), who toils out of the Jeffersonian Institution and, on the side, writes mysteries starring her fictional heroine (and here’s the twist) Kathy Reichs. Because Brennan has an almost supernatural ability to generate accurate assumptions based on her examination of the corpse’s bones, she is often consulted by the FBI on difficult, seemingly unsolvable cases. She is frequently partnered by brash wiseacre FBI Special Agent Seely Booth (David Boreanaz), who seems to hold a bias against science and those who practice in that field. It’s Booth who breezily saddles Brennan with the nickname “Bones.” Naturally intuitive and freewheeling, Booth immediately is at odds with the clinically analytical Brennan. But, despite their personality clashes, and with the aid of Brennan’s gifted and quirky colleagues, the cases do get solved.

It’s no great secret that the palpable chemistry between Deschanel and Boreanaz is what actually propels the show and is what separates it from the other, more formulaic, dispassionate crime dramas. Every week, fans tune in for the leads’ deliciously caustic banter more so than for the weekly dose of mystery. You see, the mystery jones can be fixed by viewing any other one of the gazillion forensic dramas so currently prevalent on the airwaves. So the mystery is basically the MacGuffin that drives the show forward. But the cantankerous chemistry – that palpable “something” between the two leads as they hilariously bicker and wrangle – is definitely unique to this show.
Emily Deschanel is a find. I haven’t seen her before but she’s awfully good and ingratiating enough with her acerbic character. She imbues Brennan with a cooly detached yet vulnerable and lonely quality that intrigues and endears her to the fans. Her social awkwardness and pop culture ignorance are also quite charming. It’s pretty funny that a mention made regarding a pop culture reference almost always elicits a response of “I don’t know what that means” from the clueless Bones. And, of course, her expertise in the martial arts doesn’t detract from her allure.

And David Boreanaz. Yeah, I found it difficult going, at first, watching him in a new role, seeing as how I’m a fan of Buffy and Angel. But it helps that Booth isn’t much like our vampire with a soul. This ex-Army Ranger Special Agent is breezy, personable, and outgoing, not brooding, tortured, and introspective like Angelus. So, the transition, while disconcerting for me, was ultimately smooth enough. Boreanaz brings such command, self-assurance and charm to his character that I bought into it soon enough.
My favorite episodes are the pilot episode, where we are introduced to the cast; “The Man in the Fallout Shelter” – the team is quarantied together in the Jeffersonian during Christmas and we learn personal stuff about the characters; “Two Bodies in the Lab” – character development galore in this episode as Brennan dates on-line and is targeted while she works on two cases; “The Superhero in the Alley” – a decomposed body is found wearing a superhero costume; and “The Woman in Limbo” – a gripping, emotional season finale as Brennan discovers shocking facts about her parents.

The start of the season sees a new boss, Cam, arrive at the Institute. Not only is she very hands on, she is a former love of Booth, and Tempe and Cam do not hit it off in the early episodes. The new character is well written and softens as the season progresses until it is hard to imagine the team without her input. Meantime Zac undergoes a make-over in order to secure a permanent place on the staff once he gains his doctorate, and Hodkins and Angela begin a tentative office romance.
Booth and Brennan continue to spar verbally with each other and some of their exchanges will have you laughing out loud. When a fellow agent, Sully, begins a relationship with Tempe, Booth’s feelings are confused – but as is observed, Tempe “is rubbish at being a girl” and her own complicated life does not bode well for a permanent relationship. Tempe continues to put her foot in it socially, particularly when a case involves Booth’s Catholic religion.

Among the classy episodes are ‘The Girl with the Curl’ about child beauty Queens, (with a wonderful scene of Tempe trying to talk to a group of 8 year olds at a dance class!), ‘Aliens in a Spaceship’ which has Tempe and Hodgkins buried alive by a serial killer, and ‘The Headless Witch in the Woods’ which has more than a nod to The Blair Witch Project. Guest stars this season include Stephen Fry as a laid back, insightful Psychiatrist whom Booth must see after he shoots an ice cream van, and Ryan O’Neal as Tempe’s estranged and mysterious father whose elusive character comes into his own when Booth is targetted by the Mob. And, once again, Angela’s instantly recognisable father – from ZZ Top – pops up!

BONES keeps on keeping on. Two excellent seasons under its belt, and a truncated Season 3 (damn you, writers’ strike!) finally all wrapped up, and predictably, these are good episodes, as well. But only fifteen of them! As Season 3’s first episode (“The Widow’s Son in the Windshield”) opens up, we learn that Bones has been reluctant to go in the field with Booth and she won’t say why. However, a head flung off a bridge forces her to reconnect with Booth. This episode also begins a new serial killer arc, this one being particularly even more gristly and diabolical than most, and of which resolution later down the season would have tragic consequences.

Season 3 doles out several other subplots. As per the startling news learned at the altar from Season 2’s finale, Angela is already married. An ongoing story arc becomes Hodgins and Angela’s search for her long-time but vaguely remembered husband. “The Secret of the Soil” introduces Dr. Sweets, a 22 year old psychotherapist assigned to counsel Bones and Booth, this stemming from the FBI’s concern due to Booth having arrested Bones’ father. These sessions are generally funny stuff as, mostly, Booth can’t help but treat Sweets like a kid. Plus, these scenes tend to open things up even more between Bones and Booth.

I’ve a couple of Season 3 favorites. “The Widow’s Son in the Windshield” introduces the cannibalistic Gormogon killer, which would become a key ongoing story arc of the season. “Mummy in the Maze” is a very neat Halloween show, wherein Booth’s shameful phobia is unveiled and Bones’s costume is…simply awesome. “The Knight on the Grid” is a taut thriller as the Gormagon killer returns, this time with a personal vendetta against Bones and Booth. And “The Santa in the Slush” is a standout sentimental episode and provides one of the best moments in the series as Bones cuts a deal to have Christmas brought to her incarcerated father and brother. Cool ending, too. “The Baby in the Bough” has Bones forced to babysit an infant involved with a case (you see the potential, right?). Meanwhile, “The Wannabe in the Weeds” (in which Zach and Bones both sing) and “The Pain in the Heart” are striking for their ability to stun the audience, even if the latter episode definitely had a rushed feeling to it. I feel that the after-effects of “The Wannabe in the Weeds” should’ve been developed further in “The Pain in the Heart.” In fact, “The Pain in the Heart” – which wraps up the Gormogon killer storyline and, by the way, will upset busloads of fans.
The cases are still bizarre and the corpses borderline grotesque. But the draw remains Emily Deschanel and David Boreanaz, and that electric “thing” between them. These two still get aces in chemistry, and are still the smokingest hot couple on television. Emily Deschanel continues to nail her role of Temperance “Bones” Brennan. And while her character might’ve loosened up a little bit (not too much), there’s still that endearing naivette and vulnerability which peek out occasionally. And, of course, her refreshing bluntness (some call it social awkwardness) has never left. Boreanaz, he’s just a great leading man. Confident and charming, bristling with machismo, yet with a sensitive side. His unveiling of his Christmas present to Bones in “The Santa in the Slush” is one of the best, most touching scenes of the season.

World-renowned forensic anthropologist Temperance “Bones” Brennan is as brusque and tactless as ever, as confounded by the subtleties of social decorum as ever (or as Sweets exclaims: “She is wicked literal!”). Bones is still very much that intimidating icy intellect, still a wounded soul, and still solving murders. FBI Special Agent Seeley Booth is still the one with the people skills and that well-developed bump of intuition. More onions are peeled in this season as we learn even more about the underpinnings of our core characters. The absolute big draw of this show is that sizzle between David Boreanaz and Emily Deschanel, their fabulous interplay tantalizing and frustrating the viewers. Could this be the season that they get together? Well, kind of, sort of. Taking what the show is giving, I wallow in their ever evolving relationship.

Staying on the personal, Hodgins and Angela are trying to move past their break-up. “The Skull in the Sculpture” demonstrates that Angela is more ready to move on than Hodgins, and if you thought Angela was a free spirit before, well, now… This episode also has Sweets demonstrating the best way ever to fire someone. Young FBI psychologist Lance Sweets, by the way, becomes a regular cast member in this season, and I like him more and more as each episode progresses, even if Booth and Bones continually treat him like a pesky little brother. Even Dr. Saroyan’s past is delved into.

Zack Addy, apprentice to the Gormagon Killer, has been institutionalized, which doesn’t keep him from strolling out to help the squints on a baffling case. Still, this gives rise to a running theme, that of the rotating roster of interns as Saroyan and Bones attempt to fill Zack’s spot, and the fun thing is that each of these interns comes with baggage. There’s the morbid one, the excessively chirpy one, the one constantly dispensing trivia, etc. The most martyred one may well be that repressed intern who insists on keeping things professional at all times – except that, the squints being a tight bunch, he keeps getting exposed to a deluge of innuendo and gossip in the workplace.

There isn’t really a running mystery arc to tie these episodes together – no one like the Gormagon Killer running around, for example. But that doesn’t mean that the cases aren’t gripping; some of them are really interesting. The season opens with “Yanks in the U.K.”  which plants Brennan and Booth in jolly old England, investigating a murder and running into a British version of themselves. In “The Passenger in the Oven” Bones and Booth are on a flight bound to China and have only four hours to solve a murder before the plane lands and Booth loses jurisdiction. “Double Trouble in the Panhandle” has Booth and Bones infiltrating the Big Top as “Buck & Wanda and their Knives of Death,” and their circus act is actually fraught with more suspense than in just about any other scene in this season.

Some other favorites? In “The Double Death of the Dearly Departed,” Bones and Booth steal a corpse due for cremation from a funeral home, Bones believing that the body had been “translated,” which is Booth’s made-up code for murder. “Mayhem on a Cross” unveils some dark stuff about Sweets’ past, this episode also featuring the return of the awesome Stephen Fry as FBI shrink Gordon Gordon Wyatt. It also had me cracking up whenever Bones insisted on correctly pronouncing “skalle” (the Norwegian word for “skull”). “The Hero in the Hold” features the return of the Grave Digger serial killer. “The Princess and the Pear” plonks Bones and Booth’s temp replacement in the world of comic book conventions, and Bones finally gets another chance to flash her martial arts mojo.
Image result for bones the critic in the cabernetIn “The Critic in the Cabernet” Bones drops a bomb on Booth and Booth gets advice from a cartoon character, a frivolous conceit which goes on to have a terrifying payoff. Finally Season 4 closes with a quirky fantasy episode featuring a re-shuffling of roles. In this reality, Dr. Saroyan and Booth’s brother are homicide detectives and Booth and Bones are a married couple who run a nightclub and who end up as suspects in a murder case. It’s neat that just about everyone is in this one.

At the beginning of the fifth season of the wildly popular forensic drama “Bones,” many viewers tuned in trepidatiously after the spectacularly strange fourth season finale. Thankfully, all fears were allayed and relieved when the fifth season kicked into high gear in the very first episode and maintained that pace throughout the season; “Bones”‘ fifth season is perhaps its greatest yet.
The one thing that has always set “Bones” apart from the countless other procedurals on the airwaves right now is the focus on the characters solving the crimes rather than the crimes themselves, and the strength of this approach shines through brilliantly in every episode of this season.
David Boreanaz and Emily Deschanel return to the roles of Booth and Bones and deliver their strongest performances yet as each character is shaken to their core. As Booth struggles to regain his sense of self, he has to confront the knowledge of his feelings for his partner, while Bones herself goes through a whirlwind of emotion as the emotional barriers she has erected around her heart begin to crumble down, leaving her questioning not only herself but her relationship with Booth as well as her work at the Jeffersonian itself. The tension between the two has never been more delicious or more addictive, and both lead actors knock their roles absolutely out of the park.
But while the relationship between Booth and Brennan becomes increasingly more complex, the wonderful supporting cast of engaging characters at the Jeffersonian keep the show moving along briskly and lightly. Cam (Tamara Taylor) must run the lab while dealing with the challenge of being a good mother, guiding the team effectively toward each conclusion; Sweets (John Francis Daley) continues to provide invaluable insight into the minds of the team; Angela (Michaela Conlin) remains the emotional heart and soul of the team as she opens her heart to love’s possibilities; and Hodgins (TJ Thyne) struggles with his feelings for Angela as he returns to his abrasive, loveable self.

The cases themselves have regained a fascinating light as the mysteries the team confronts become more complex, and the special effects department has outdone themselves in the gore and goop department this year as Booth and Bones investigate some of the most gruesome crime scenes in history, all moved along by the brisk black humor the show excels at; the team investigates a possible secret agent locked in a truck for days, a would-be rocker torn to pieces by an industrial washer/dryer, a gamer literally melted in a vat of fast-food grease, and a dozen more cheerfully disgusting cases where the outcomes of the mysteries hold the power to shock and surprise the audience; the writers have once again caught the perfect balance between the whodunnit and the drama to craft a truly unique show. But it’s not merely the cases that hold the viewers’ attention this season; season five is full of true powerhouse episodes: heartbreaking cases like “The Plain in the Prodigy”; darkly comical shows like “The Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood”; truly shocking mysteries like “The Proof in the Pudding,”; and even a historically fascinating case written by the author of the original Temperance Brennan novels Kathy Reichs herself (“The Witch in the Wardrobe”) — however, all of these merely lead up to the three knockout moments of the season:
In the fifth season, “Bones” reaches its 100th episode, “The Parts in the Sum of the Whole.” Likely the most beloved and most contested episode in the show’s history, the 100th episode completely redefined Booth and Brennan’s relationship as it showed the viewers the pair’s first meeting, something never before revealed, and circles around to one of the most hearbreaking and yet most powerfully hopeful moments of the series. “Parts” was also directed by David Boreanaz, one of the series’ leads, and the sheer emotion wrung out of Boreanaz and Deschanel by the end speaks volumes to the talent of the show’s leads.
As the series continues, however, the characters were shocked to their cores as they were forced to come face-to-face with their most terrifying adversary yet: the cunningly frightening sociopath dubbed The Gravedigger, in “The Boy with the Answer,” a nail-bitingly tense hour of television that had viewers’ hearts pounding as Heather Taffet, the Gravedigger, proved that her true arena was the courtroom, tearing apart her victims and throwing the entire future of Brennan’s life into question.
This only segues into the season’s amazingly dramatic finale, “The Beginning in the End.” As the team investigates the home of a hoarder, Bones questions what she truly wants to do with her life, Booth’s past comes calling, and Angela’s father blows back into town, all leading to a truly shocking season ender, a masterful finale that not only redefined the very foundations of the show and the characters but also continued to set the show on a rising point, ensuring that every faithful viewer of “Bones” will be frantically waiting for the sixth season to premiere in the fall.

To resuscitate a dead team out of their scattered disappearance is not an easy task. Luckily the DA in Washington DC is a powerful woman, stubborn and resolute, and she generally gets what she wants. So she brought Agent Booth back from Afghanistan, and Temperance Brennan, aka Bones, from the exotic place where she was trying to get some archaeologically interesting bones with Daisy, Dr Sweet’s girl friend, and Dr Sweet from his hideout somewhere in Paris where he was having a showbiz career as a cabaret singer. They all come back, change clothes and back in the business in a jiffy. Angela and Dr Hodgins are also back though from not so far away and Angela is pregnant.
As usual one case per episode, clean and neat, always dealing with a lot of bones, gross and dirty, soaked in a lot of decomposed muck with a tremendous number of maggots, worms and other corpse parasites. A series not to watch while eating anything more delicate than dry cookies.
Angela and Dr Hodgins have a full plate with the pregnancy and the delivery of the baby. For them that’s enough and that will require some help from a friendly psychiatrist because it is hard for the father not to become overprotective and it is hard for the mother to accept the physical handicap this pregnancy may represent. Yet they decided that working with the people they are used to work and live with was the best thing for the pregnancy, the mother and the child. Angela was not alone at any moment of her days or nights.
Agent Booth brought a journalist back from Afghanistan, a sort of love substitute for Temperance. But will that not cause some problems, like conflicting interests between the two professions? And Booth with his own son is already very busy in life. Will that new woman in the picture be able to cope with a child, what’s more the child of another woman? And the question of marriage will come up sooner or later and how are the two going to react to that eventuality? Probably not very well, maybe not too bad. A decision that is always difficult to take for someone who is constantly in the field of police investigation and for a journalist just back from a war zone.

You have the interns still rotating, the four of them. They are the surprise of each episode because they are so different and they can be so funny, though at times they are just funny for us because they are mismatched with what is happening around them, but that’s what interns are all about. Unluckily one will end up very badly. That’s not the first case, but so far none had ended up that badly. But a song will carry him through: lime and coconut, sung in a chorus all together, mellow and heart stirring.
There will be a case that will run over the whole season, the case of a sniper who had been a colleague and friend of Booth in Afghanistan and who came back slightly berserk and decided that what he did over there was good enough for the USA too and he started killing those who were rotten, and those who were in his way for his type of justice and these were only collateral victims for him, hence justified by the end. It will take the whole team to stop him and it will bring a lot of suffering and even mourning to that team.

This refreshingly different season of Bones is gearing up to be one of the series’ best! It is just the reinvigoration the show needed! Life has changed at the Jeffersonian since we last saw our favorite crime-solvers. After last season’s pregnancy bombshell of an ender, we pick up with forensic anthropologist Dr. Temperance Brennan entering her third trimester, hormones all over the place as she bumbles in that adorable way that only Brennan can into the frightening role of motherhood. As always, her partner FBI Agent Seeley Booth is there by her side, more loving and more happy than we’ve ever seen him.

I think David Boreanaz and Emily Deschanel slipped into this new relationship quite easily. What’s great is that not a lot has changed, and yet, everythinghas. They live together, they’re planning on buying a house, they kiss and cuddle on the couch and Booth croons to Brennan’s belly in the cutest baby voice you will ever hear… and yet, they’re still “Booth and Bones”. They still solve murders. They still bicker good-naturedly over everything under the sun.

They banter. They get overprotective. They make mistakes- and own up to them after. They’re like any new couple expecting a child. But are they normal? Far from it, because at its core, Bones is still the same show: a journey of love between two very different people… one a woman who views the world through utmost rationalism and who is still learning how to open her heart; the other a man who relies on instincts and gut feeling to do his job, and who lets faith and emotion drive his personal life. Both coming from traumatic pasts and both craving a new beginning.That, and the other characters are still as charming and as “comedic gold” as ever. Hodgins and Angela’s baby situation juxtaposes nicely with Booth and Brennan’s, Cam struggles with keeping the workplace professional, there’s a new intern, a new recurring villain, and other familiar faces return.

The end of the seventh season of “Bones” left Bones on the run with her infant child after being framed for murder by the highly skilled serial killer Christopher Pelant. The opening of the eighth season finds Booth and her colleagues at the Jeffersonian Institute trying to clear her name. Fortunately for the series, they succeed, although Pelant eludes justice to pose a future threat. This eighth season continues to feature crime-of-the-week murders for Bones, Booth, and the Jeffersonian lab rats to solve through clever forensics and Booth’s old-fashioned police work. One of the most interesting episodes is told through the eyes of the murder victim, with the assistance of a psychic (a well-cast Cindy Lauper). Another standout episode involves a group effort to resolve a cold case whose victim turns out to be a forgotten hero of the 9/11 attack on the Pentagon.

Outside the lab, Bones has an uncomfortable but touching period of readjustment to living with Booth, after her time on the run. Her changed perspective will lead to some of the most interesting conversations as she and Booth commute to crime scenes. Just to complicate things, staff psychiatrist Dr. Sweets will temporarily move in with the couple right after he breaks up with girlfriend Daisy, a technician in the lab. Series regulars Angela and Hodgins will have their own challenges as working parents. The continuing parade of interns through the Jeffersonian crime lab will feature in several episodes, and one of them will become a surprising emotional complication for Dr. Saroyan. Christopher Pelant will return to menace the team in a gut-wrenching season finale.

“Bones” returns for a welcome ninth season with its core cast, clever plots, and sense of humor intact. Forensic anthropologist Dr. Temperance “Bones” Brennan and her crack team of specialists at the Jeffersonian Institute continue to work with their FBI liaison, Special Agent Seeley Booth, on new and challenging criminal cases. First, however, the team will have to resolve their long-running, lethal battle with cyber-genius serial killer Christopher Pelant, who has stayed one step ahead of them while inflicting pain on each member of the cast.
When we last saw the team, they had barely survived their most recent encounter with Pelant. In a final twist of spite, Pelant blackmailed Booth into withdrawing his marriage proposal to Bones, while forbidding him to reveal the reason why. Booth’s promise puts a strain on his relationship with Bones. He will reach out to old Army buddies, including a CIA agent and a former priest turned bartender, for advice. Pelant has his own plan for separating Bones from Bones from Booth, permanently. The entire team will have to be on its mettle to head off Pelant’s insidious plot.
The ninth season continues to feature crime of the week murders for Bones, Booth, and the Jeffersonian lab rats to solve. One episode will have Booth and Bones resurrecting their undercover “Tony” and “Roxie” identities for a hilarious marriage retreat in which they talk all too frankly about their relationship. Psychologist Dr. Sweets will take a leave of absence to work in an outreach center, only to find himself drawn back into a gut-wrenching case involving a gang feud. As in past seasons, other members of the team, including Lab boss Dr. Saroyan, Dr. Hodgins, Angela, and the interns will have their moments in the spotlight.
The biggest highlight is the Woman in White, featuring the  wedding of the two leads after nine years they final tie the knot.

In the 10th season of Bones, suspense is at an all-time high as Seeley Booth (David Boreanaz) is framed and jailed for the murder of three FBI agents while Temperance Brennan (Emily Deschanel) considers committing blackmail to get him out of prison.


The new season brings some changes. The team will lose a key player at a dramatic moment early in the season, and have to work in a replacement after an emotional farewell. Another primary character will develop a emotional bond with one of the rotational lab interns, one that threatens their official relationship. Still another will strike it rich, a couple of season after having been cleaned out by a particularly nasty serial killer. Yet another character will revisit a gambling habit that threatens a job and a relationship. And, one key character will become pregnant. And those events are just character development. There is a fresh lot of challenging cases that will need solving.

Those week to week cases continue to be innovative and interesting, challenging the team and the viewer to keep up. At the same time, the series hasn’t lost its sense of humor, or its willingness to experiment. As an example, you just have to see this season’s throwback Hitchcock episode. “Bones” is still good fun and recommended to its loyal fans in its tenth season.

REVIEW: ANGEL – SEASON 1-5

 

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MAIN CAST

David Boreanaz (Bones)
Charisma Carpenter (Scream Queens)
Glenn Quinn (R.S.V.P)
Alxis Denisof (Dollhouse)
J. August Richards (Agents of SHIELD)
Amy Acker (The Cabin In The Woods)
Vincent Kartheiser (Mad Men)
Andy Hallett (Chance)
James Marsters (Smallville)
Mercedes McNab (The Addams Family)

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RECURRING / NOTABLE GUEST STARS

Tracy Middendorf (Scream: The Series)
Christian Kane (Just Married)
Josh Holloway (Lost)
Sarah Michelle Gellar (Ringer)
Michael Mantell (The Ides of March)
Elisabeth Rohm (Joy)
Obi Ndefo (Stargate SG.1)
Johnny Messner (Anacondas)
Jennifer Tung (Masked Rider)
Seth Green (Family Guy)
Andy Umberger (Deja Vu)
Tushka Bergen (Mad Max 3)
Beth Grant (Wonderfalls)
Bai Ling (The Crow)
Jesse James (Blow)
J. Kenneth Campbell (Mars Attacks)
Henri Lubatti True Blood)
Christina Hendricks (Mad Men)
John Mahon (Zodiac)
Kristin Dattilo (Intolerable Cruelty)
Carlos Jacott (3rd Rock From The Sun)
Lee Arenberg (Once Upon A Time)
Jeremy Renner (Avengers Assemble)
Ken Marino (Veronica Mars)
Stephanie Romanov (Thirtten Days)
Tamara Gorski (Man With The Screaming Brain)
Julie Benz (Punisher: Warzone)
Eliza Dushku (Tru Calling)
Alastair Duncan (The Batman)
Sam Anderson (Lost)
Todd Stashwick (The Originals)
Justina Machado (Final Destination 2)
Matthew James (American Crime)
J.P. Manoux (Birds of Prey)
Tony Amendola (Stargate SG.1)
David Herman (Futurama)
Edwin Hodge (The Purge)
Daisy McCrackin (Halloween 8)
Juliet Landau (Ed Wood)
Brigid Brannagh (Army Wives)
W. Earl Brown (Bates Motel)
Tony Todd (Wishmaster)
Jim Piddock (The Prestige)
Julia Lee (A Man Apart)
Gerry Becker(Spider-Man)
Eric Lange (Lost)
Leah Pipes (The Originals)
Thomas Kopache (Catch Me If You Can)
Brody Hutzler (Days of Our Lives)
Persia White (The Vampire Diaries)
Daniel Dae Kim (Lost)
Mark Lutz (Bitch Slap)
Alyson Hannigan (How I Met Your Mother)
Keith Szarabajka (The Dark Knight)
Frank Salsedo (Power Rangers Zeo)
David Denman (Outcast)
Justin Shilton (Little Miss Sunshine)
Rance Howard (Chinatown)
Kristoffer Polaha (Ringer)
Jack Conley (Payback)
Jim Ortlieb (Roswell)
Laurel Holloman (Boogie Nights)
Jeffrey Dean Morgan (The Losers)
Sunny Mabrey (Snakes On A Plane)
Summer Glau (Firefly)
John Rubinstein (Red Dragon)
Alexa Davalos (Clash of The Titans)
Kay Panabaker (No Ordinary Family)
Joel David Moore (Bones)
Adrienne Wilkinson (Xena)
Gina Torres (Hannibal)
Annie Wersching (The Vampire Diaries)
Danny Woodburn (Watchmen)
Sarah Thompson (Cruel Intentions 2)
Jonathan M. Woodard (Firefly)
T.J. Thyne (Bones)
John Billingsley (Star Trek: Enterprise)
Simon Templeman (Black Road)
Roy Dotrice (Beauty and the Beast)
Brendan Hines (Lie to Me)
Tom Lenk (Argo)
Navi Rawat (Feast)
Roy Werner (Power Rangers Time Force)
Alec Newman (Dune)
Adam Baldwin (Chuck)
Jaime Bergman (Soulkeeper)
Stacey Travis (Easy A)
Dennis Christopher (Django Uncahined)

When Joss Whedon pitched Angel: the Series, he described it as a detective-style film-noir-themed take on the supernatural, much in the same way Buffy was pitched as a look from the viewpoint of the Horror genre. Buffy’s style took some time to get right, but the aesthetics of this show in its first year are well thought out and crafted; darkness and emotive shadow creep over, tense musical swells linger, and the picture is shot in a large resolution to provide just a bit of grain. I’d be damned if it didn’t seem intentional. Joss also said that where Buffy looked, metaphorically, at the hell of High School, Angel’s show would look at life past it in your early adulthood and the life and relationship issues of that unique, big city world. This metaphor is dominant in the first season, and is one of the main themes.

Angel, as a series, is always and will always be about redemption, but the themes of its respective seasons are about the different facets to it. Exploring what it is, losing the chance at it or the responsibility one pledges to it is all covered over the duration of the show. With season one, it was most direct: How do you get it? At the start of the season we see Angel arrive in LA, see him save lives, but we also watch him slip deeply into apathy about his goal. To understand the importance and worth of a human and life and soul, Angel learns in “City of” (1×01) that one must have a human connection; friends and allies that make his life worth living so his mission can be worth fighting for, and most importantly so that he doesn’t become detached from (and even dangerous to) those he hopes to save.

The season, as I mentioned, does lack a cohesive arc, but it also has a tremendous amount of hugely entertaining and well-written standalones. Many of them focus on Angel’s mission: “helping the helpless.” Angel makes it his goal to not only save lives, but save souls and make life worth living for others, and as a result of this his connections are solidified as he carries this out. He and his group slowly form into a legitimate investigation team which takes cases and makes money off of them, and many of the seasons situations out of which the characters are developed are a result of these cases. Cordelia, who in “Rm w a Vu” (1×05) is still defining herself by her possessions, searches for a place to live. Instead what she finds is a stronger sense of self, and in that a connection to the world of humans rather the one of plastic. Doyle and Wesley both find their own connections, as well. Episodes such as these are the season’s order, in every one of which something new happens that alters the main or supporting characters, or teaches the audience something about them.

This is, in my opinion, what sets shows like Buffy and Angel apart: relevance. More than any other show, each episode contains progressive, ongoing development that charts development in a very realistic way. On a more specific level, this particular season has an extremely strong episode to episode consistency, with each individual showing striking its own tone and exploring the main theme in different ways. A few larger, more exciting events may have helped, but at the same time I appreciate this season for what it is and how it does something a bit different from most other seasons of Buffy or Angel. There’s a lot more to talk about, including the metaphorical basis’ used and what we’re being fed through them, as well as the general ups and downs. The strongest suit this season has is its extremely fluid use of theme. Though the ponderings on connection, redemption and starting a new life are not as intricately detailed, subtle or socially penetrating as the themes of any other season, the careful and consistent way they’re used to develop characters and give the stories real world relevance is masterful. Angel made it his mission to save souls, and we were shown him connecting with people by helping them, failing to help them, or losing them altogether. All the supporting characters followed, gaining their own redemption through helping Angel and the helpless.

With the exception of Wesley being overly bumbling at times, nothing felt out of character this season, and that’s extremely impressive considering the length of a season. Doyle’s sacrifice in “Hero” (1×09), Angel’s re-ignited belief in himself in “To Shanshu in LA” [1×22] or Kate’s decision to see Angel kiss daylight in “Sanctuary” [1×19] were all thematically conclusive, resonant and well built up to.

The preceding season was,strong and coherent. While looking at the tribulations of life after High School in the big city, it managed to do so in a way that developed the characters within another major theme: Connection; Human emotions and growth that make us a part of the world, make us human. By the end of the season, Angel had been given a purpose, both short and long term, and a mission to fight for: Fighting in the final battles and surviving to be made a breathing human being again. Season Two, with a much broader theme, builds logically on that, and asks our vampire hero just what it means to really be human. Much of the season’s development is split in that way, with Angel increasingly being led off into his own world, with his friends developing entirely in a place away from him.screen-shot-2016-09-09-at-10-18-22-am-e1473430782777While he and the fate that ties him to Darla explore the complexities of human existence, Cordelia, Wesley and Gunn become forced to suffer through and succeed in it on their own. Though not as characterized by pain and hopelessness as much as S3 post “Sleep Tight” [3×16] through to the end of the series is, there’s much darkness and suffering abound, especially for Angel. His epic trials and will for revenge separate him harshly from humanity, only for him to realize that his worst actions are indeed wholly human, and that this is what humanity really can be. Season Two has such interesting ideas in spades, and its theme looks at all the best (“Untouched” [2×04], “Guise Will Be Guise” [2×06], “Epiphany” [2×16]) and worst (“Reunion” [2×10], “Reprise” [2×15]) sides of our existence: forgiveness, self-control, image, obsession, revenge, victory, belonging and the very nature of evil itself. By the time the season closes, Angel’s re-examined entirely what his mission is and how he’s to fight it, and goes from a champion vampire-with-a-soul to simply a genuinely good human being who helps people.fake-dwarvesWith the exception of the brilliant period piece Are You Now or Have You Ever Been?, and a few rare others, the season doesn’t have quite as much use for pure standalones. Its arc employs its best metaphors and situations in the interest of exploring all sides of the characters’ journey, and as such, the season gives the impression that more happens this year than last because of the depth of each phase of the arc: the four episode standalone period, the first part of the Darla arc (“Dear Boy” [2×05] to “Reunion” [2×10]), the second part of the Darla arc (“Redefinition” [2×11] to “Epiphany” [2×16]), another couple of standalones (“Disharmony” [2×17] and “Dead End” [2×18]) and the Pylea arc (“Belonging” [2×19] to “There’s No Place Like Plrtz Glrb” [2×22]).

This is likely why the season finds such a strong and undivided following. While some dispute the worth of the standalones or the Pylea arc, others like them, and everyone loves the story arc; there’s something for everyone. The best aspect of this year of the character’s journey in L.A. is how broad and all encompassing the season is. With the exception of Season Five, I find this to be the best season of the show. It has a few great metaphors, an engaging, unpredictable story arc, fun standalones, important character development, strong drama, and some of the most intelligent moral and social considerations I’ve ever seen on a TV show or in a movie.

Like at the start of Season Two, the writers seemed to have a clear direction in mind at the start of Season Three, and they wisely picked up the story at the logical introductory point: With Angel having conquered his innermost doubts about his own humanity. He begins to live a truly human life. He’s accepted his role in the world as a good person rather than a champion, and recognizes the world as a wide-open, random place with no greater destiny or order about it. It’s the kind of world where even the smallest acts of kindness mean everything, because they mean someone is able to shrug off the horrible burdens of life long enough to make another life better.screen-shot-2016-09-09-at-10-18-22-am-e1473430782777It opens with a six episode prelude looking at various facets of the responsibilities and obligations of normal human life, and then really begins with “Offspring” [3×07] when Darla returns to L.A. in a very, very pregnant state. Like “Dear Boy” [2×05] was for S2, this is where the beginning of S3 truly lies. With Darla’s death and the birth of baby Connor (“Lullaby” [3×09]) as the emotional forces driving the season, the writers used the question of responsibility and all the ideas that fall under it (justice, deserving, chaos and guilt) to create some truly, gut-wrenchingly impossible situations for our characters to face. If I have to commend this year for one thing alone, it’s the painstaking drama that the writers plunge the characters into throughout the main arc and in the mini-arcs that follow. Although there’s not nearly as much thematic depth as S2 or as much consistency as S1, the tragedies and difficult moral situations our beloved Angel Investigations team members are forced to face moved me deeper than a lot of other episodes in the series.

Aesthetically, S3 also has a much more sprawling scope than the previous two seasons. While the first six episodes were essentially standalones, everything that followed “Offspring” [3×07] was in some way tied to the main plot arc of the show, even when some of its key players disappeared following the epic tragedy of “Sleep Tight” [3×16]. Just when it seemed the story was about to move in another Pylea-like offshoot after the main storyline concluded, Connor and Holtz returned and the plot kept on chugging. This led to some problems, of course, as all season-long arcs eventually do. Tension sometimes tried to take the place of real content and it often showed. It also led to there being an uncomfortable setup/payoff ratio on the episode list. But on the plus side, S3 (and S4, which moves even further in this direction) had a feeling of epic scope that no other seasons manage, so to even think of the better aspects that lie within strikes me. Such a sprawl is one of the reasons many people love S3 even if they haven’t looked very deeply at it.Image result for angel forgiving“Forgiving” [3×17] was another gem, as it looked at the human need to assume we live in an ordered world where someone is responsible for everything that happens. But it’s never that easy, and watching Angel struggle with that was fascinating. The final three episodes (“A New World” [3×20], “Benediction” [3×21], “Tomorrow” [3×22]) made up another interesting stretch where we saw how our characters could be motivated by pain, hatred or love and the effects of all those things.

Having already been on the air for three years, Angel had more then enough time to establish its theme, characters, and relationships. It was in its fourth year that it would bring all of these elements to the forefront and then mix them up in a season that would come to be known for its complex twists and turns.The season begins with our title character trapped at the bottom of the ocean – put there by his son – with the rest of his gang broken up. From this grim beginning, things only get darker – literally. Enter the Beast, a rock-encrusted devil whose arrival is heralded by a rain of fire and promptly blocks out the sun over L.A. All signs are pointing to the apocalypse, and it’s up to Angel and the rest of his demon-fighting crew to put a stop to it. From a storytelling point of view things just keep getting worse and worse and it’s a credit to the writers that they somehow manage to end it all on a positive note.Since Season 2 Angel has been a very arc-heavy show, but in its fourth year it would approach almost 24 levels of continuity and follow-through. In addition to being very cool to watch, the interlinked episodes add up to a season that is one big experience unto itself. It’s as if the entire season is one episode with many chapters.This year we get to watch everything get shaken up. Wedges are slowly driven between certain relationships while jealousy quickly divides others. The great thing about it is that you get to see what has caused all of these problems. Despite their best efforts to hold together, these characters have no choice but to push each other apart. It makes for gripping television.Visually and stylistically the show is very well put together. The directing efforts of Joss Whedon (who is always excellent), Tim Minear (who has grown by leaps and bounds over the course of the series), and even Sean Astin (yes that Sean Astin) give the show a very polished and theatrical feel. The producers repeatedly stated that they were going for an ‘operatic’ feel to the season and they pulled it off very well. The use of darkness and shadow deserves special mention as does the great use of wide shots and the directors’ ability to fill each frame with as much information as possible. Wesley goes from bumbling dork to dark James Bond. Cool! While the twists and turns are great, the really cool thing to the season is the multiple layers that you’ll find within. Just when you think you know who the real ‘big bad’ is or in which direction the show is going, the rug is pulled out from under your feet. The entire season keeps you guessing from start to finish. Of course, our heroes win in the end — but everyone is left wondering if they did the right thing. And that’s what sets the show apart: It’s action with substance.

Nobody, not the producers, not the actors, and certainly not the fans could have predicted where this show would go. Where it could go. After all, this is an hour-long fantasy about a guy who spends so much time sitting in the shadows and brooding so much he would give Batman a run for his money. Or utility belt, as the case may be. So why is it that after five years and over a hundred episodes this show was still one of the freshest on TV? Simple: this is a story about something. What started off as just a Buffy spin-off has ended up as a massive epic that challenges, if not surpasses, its parent show. Unfortunately, the WB didn’t think so. After giving the producers a hard time and insisting on several changes, the network decided to bring the show back for a fifth, and what would be its final year.

 

So, in previous seasons we’ve had operatic apocalypses, quests for meaning, and our hero even went evil for a while. There’s only one place left to go. Into the belly of the beast, into hell itself: a law firm. Based on the out-of-left-field plot twist that was thrown at Angel and the gang in previous season’s finale, the team is now in charge of wolfram and hart the evil law firm that they’ve spent the entire series battling. The trick then becomes changing the system from the inside, all the while making sure that it doesn’t change them.


Unfortunately when the network decided to renew the show for a fifth year, there were conditions. First and foremost, it had to be more stand-alone. No more back-to-back cliffhangers. Next, the budget was cut. And finally, to sweeten the deal, the producers decided to bring over Spike – who was barbequed in the Buffy finale – in the hopes that his fans would follow. Luckily the introduction of Spike worked out well. He added a nice flavor to the show and helped flesh out Angel’s character in a way that nobody else could have. The punky vampire brought out the worst in our hero, which ended up resulting in some great comedy. Even if this Spike was different from whom he became on Buffy, he made for a nice addition.

The most unwelcome change was the standalone mandate. Yes, it can work, but it’s just not as good. The greatest strength of this show has always been its own history and tying the hands of the writers was a mistake. It resulted in a bump in the show’s overall flow. Even though it seems rushed, things tie up nicely and the finale certainly puts the “grand” in grandiose; now there’s a balls-to-the wall showstopper for you. Most people will agree that the show finished with perfect thematic closure. These characters fight an impossible fight knowing they’ll probably lose, but that’s not the point. They fight, not to win, but because that’s who they are. They don’t give up. No matter what.