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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12 DAYS OF CHRISTMAS REVIEW: LOST – THE CONSTANT

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MAIN CAST

Matthew Fox (Alex Cross)
Evangeline Lilly (Ant-Man)
Naveen Andrews (Planet Terror)
Jorge Garcia (Alcatraz)
Elizabeth Mitchell (V)
Henry Ian Cusick (24)
Jeremy Davies (Hannibal)
Rebecca Mader (Iron Man 3)

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RECURRING / NOTABLE GUEST CAST

Anthony Azizi (Eagle Eye)
Alan Dale (Ugly Betty)
Kevin Durand (X-Men Origins)
Jeff Fahey (Planet Terror)
Fisher Stevens (HAckers)
Sonya Walger (Flashforward)
Graham McTavish (The Hobbit)

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Desmond, Sayid and Lapidus experience turbulence while flying the 130 kilometers (about 80 miles) distance from the island where they were stranded to Lapidus’ team’s freighter, the Kahana. Desmond’s consciousness travels back eight years to 1996, when he is serving with the British Army’s Royal Scots Regiment. Moments later, when his consciousness returns to the present day, he neither knows where he is nor recognizes his companions, and has no memory of his life since 1996. After the helicopter lands, Desmond continues to jump between 1996 and 2004. He is taken to the sick bay, where a man named Minkowski is strapped to a bed because he is experiencing similar problems. Minkowski explains that someone sabotaged the radio room two days earlier and that Desmond’s ex-girlfriend Penny Widmore (Sonya Walger) has been trying to contact the freighter. Sayid uses the satellite phone to contact Jack Shephard (Matthew Fox) on the island and explains that Desmond appears to have amnesia. Daniel Faraday (Jeremy Davies), a physicist from the freighter, asks Jack whether Desmond has recently been exposed to a high level of radiation or electromagnetism. Jack is unsure, and so Daniel speaks to Desmond and asks him about his situation. Desmond responds that he believes that he is in 1996 and is serving with the Royal Scots. Faraday understands and tells Desmond that when he returns to 1996, he needs to go to the physics department of The Queen’s College, Oxford University in England to meet with Daniel’s past self, and gives Desmond some mechanical settings to relay, along with an extra phrase that Daniel assures him will convince Daniel’s past self that the story is legitimate.lost-constantDesmond’s flashbacks become more frequent and longer. In 1996, Desmond tracks down a younger Faraday at Oxford, who takes Desmond into his laboratory where he is experimenting with a time machine. Setting his electromagnetic device with the settings that Desmond has given him, Daniel places his laboratory rat, Eloise, in a maze and exposes her to electromagnetic energy. The rat appears to become comatose, then awakens and runs the maze. Daniel becomes excited because he had just built the maze and had not yet taught Eloise how to run it. Desmond realizes that, like the rat, he is caught in a time warp that is moving his consciousness between two different bodies at two different points in time and space. Eloise dies of a suspected brain aneurysm brought on by the exposure to the time lapse. Desmond becomes worried that he will die like Eloise, and Daniel instructs him to find something or someone—a constant—who is present in both times and can serve as an anchor for Desmond’s mental stability. Desmond decides that Penny can be the constant; however, he must make contact with her in 2004. To find out where she lives, Desmond gets her address from her father Charles (Alan Dale), who is at an auction buying a journal owned by Tovard Hanso written by a crew member of the 19th century ship called the Black Rock. hqdefaultIn 1996, Desmond finds Penny, who is still distraught over their break-up and is not willing to see him. However, he gets her telephone number and tells her not to change it because he will call her on Christmas Eve 2004. In 2004, Sayid, Desmond, and Minkowski escape the sick bay and begin to repair the broken communications equipment. Meanwhile, Minkowski enters into another flashback, and dies. Showing signs of suffering the same fate as Minkowski, Desmond telephones Penny, who tells Desmond that she has been searching for him for the past three years and they reconcile before the power is cut off. Having made contact with his “constant”, Desmond stops alternating between 1996 and 2004. Back on the island, Daniel flips through his journal and discovers a note that he had written, “If anything goes wrong, Desmond Hume will be my constant.”676

No other episode since the beginning has touched on this many of the themes of Lost. Rather than the showing the present with the flash-forward/backward tying in symbolically, which is the shows usual template, this episode ties the present to the flash in a very real and deadly way, also revealing a big, nay, gigantic clue as to the island’s origins. Or at least lets us in on a part of the big secret.

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REVIEW: SIGNIFICANT OTHERS (1998)

MAIN CAST

Scott Bairstow (The Postman)
Eion Bailey (Ray Donovan)
Michael Weatherly (Dark Angel)
Jennifer Garner (Alias)
Elizabeth Mitchell (V)

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RECURRING / NOTABLE GUEST CAST

Gigi Rice (The Man)
Jennifer Salvidge (Evolution)
Channon Roe (Boogie Nights)
Kenneth Kimmins (Lois & Clark)
Nicki Aycox (Jeepers Creepers 2)
John Billingsley (Star Trek: Enterprise)

significant-others-jennifer-garner-elizabeth-mitchell-scott-bairstow-eion-bailey-michael-weatherly-dvdbash-wordpress03I originally watched this series when it debuted in ’98 because I adored Scott Bairstow. Only 3 episodes were aired I had forgotten all about it until it was released on dvd.

significant-others-jennifer-garner-elizabeth-mitchell-scott-bairstow-eion-bailey-michael-weatherly-dvdbash-wordpress01When I initially watched the show I found the way that the three lead characters (played by Scott Bairstow, Jennifer Garner & Eion Bailey) interacting in a love triangle, to be sweet & adorable. I was a teenager at that time. Now, rewatching it has more resonance, because it’s also about the characters’ journey to find themselves. Campbell Chasin (Eion Bailey) is still looking to carve out a name for himself in a family where everyone else is expected to go into the family business, just like his brother Ben Chasin (Dark Angel’s Michael Weatherly) has. family-guy-christmas-santa-choke-peter-s15e09-how-the-griffin-stole-christmas-simpsons-son-of-zornBen is also applauded by his parents, because he is getting married. He seems to have it all together, until we see him with regret at a missed female fling opportunity right after his wedding. Campbell decides that he can make a killing selling children’s videos & tries to get either of his friends to go in on it with him. He’s also upset, because he discovers that Nell Glennon (Jennifer Garner), one of his best friend’s & ex, is now hooking up with his other best friend, Henry Calloway (Scott Bairstow). Nell is an excellent worker who is so afraid of getting stuck in one track for the rest of her life that she actually quits her job after getting promoted. Her major issue is committing to anything. Henry fancies himself a serious writer. However, he has to pay the bills & does so by writing soft core porn. His boss is the slightly older Charlotte (Gigi Rice) whom he lusts after. The first 3 episodes had me intrigued. This set includes all 6 episodes (the other 3 of which were unaired) It’s a short and sweet series but it does introduce us to Jennifer Garner who a few years later would go onto do Alias.

REVIEW: LOST – SEASON 1-6

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MAIN CAST

Matthew Fox (Alex Cross)
Evangeline Lilly (Ant-Man)
Naveen Andrews (Planet Terror)
Jorge Garcia (Alcatraz)
Emilie de Ravin (Roswell)
Maggie Grace (The Fog)
Josh Holloway (Colony)
Yunjin Kim (Shiri)
Daniel Dae Kim (Insurgent)
Dominic Monaghan (Flashforward)
Harold Perrineau (Constantine)
Malcolm David Kelley (Saving Grace)
Ian Sommerhalder (The Vampire Diaries)
Terry O’Quinn (Alias)
Michelle Rodriguez (The Fast and The Furious)
Cynthia Watros (Finding Carter)
Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje (Suicide Squad)
Elizabeth Mitchell (V)
Henry Ian Cusick (24)
Rodrigo Santoro (Westworld)
Kiele Sanchez (30 Days of Night: Dark Days)
Jeremy Davies (Hannibal)
Michael Emerson (Saw)
Rebecca Mader (Iron Man 3)
Ken Leung (X-Men: The Last Stand)
Jeff Fahey (The Lawnmower Man)
Nestor Carbonell (Bates Motel)
Zuleikha Robinson (Homeland)

RECURRING / NOTABLE GUEST CAST

Fredric Lehne (Zero Dark Thirty)
L. Scott Caldwell (The Net)
Kimberley Joseph (Xena)
Greg Grunberg (Heroes)
Billy Ray Gallion (Castle)
John Terry (Zodiac)
Veronica Hamel (The Last Leprchaun)
Neil Hopkins (The Net 2.0)
Michael Deluise (Wayne’s World)
Kristin Richardson (Rock Star)
William Mapother (Powers)
Mira Furlan (Babylon 5)
Andrea Gabriel (2 Broke Girls)
Nick Jameson (24)
Keir O’Donnell (Wedding Crashers)
Charles Mesure (V)
Tamara Taylor (Bones)
Robert Patrick (Terminator 2)
Swoosie Kurtz (Mike & Molly)
Kevin Tighe (K-9)
Zack Ward  (Postal)
Julie Bowen (Modern Family)
Daniel Roebuck (Final Destination)
Beth Broderick (Sabrina: TTW)
Anson Mount (CDollhouse)
Saul Rubinek (Warehouse 13)
Katey Sagal (8 Simple Rules)
Sam Anderson (Angel)
Marguerite Moreau (Easy)
DJ Qualls (Road Trip)
Brett Cullen (Injustice)
Rachel Ticotin (Total Recall)
Michael Cudlitz (The Walking Dead)
Lindsey Ginter (Hercules: TLJ)
Francois Chau (Stargate SG.1)
Adetokumboh M’Cormack (Blood Diamond)
M.C. Gainey (Django Unchained)
Kim Dickens (Hallow Man)
Kevin Dunn (Samantha Who?)
Theo Rossi (Luke Cage)
Tania Raymonde (Texas Chainsaw 3D)
Evan Handler (Californication)
Gabrielle Fitzpatrick (MMPR: The Movie)
Michael Bowen (KIller x)
April Grace (A.I)
Alan Dale (Ugly Betty)
Paula Malcolmson (Caprica)
Andrew Divoff (Wishmaster)
Aisha Hinds (Cult)
Nathan Fillion (Firefly)
Fionnula Flanagan (The Others)
Diana Scarwid (Wonderfalls)
Cheech Marin (Machete)
Sung Hi Lee (Nurse Betty)
Shaun Toub (Iron Man)
Clancy Brown (Highlander)
Cleo King (Mike & Molly)
Patrick J. Adams (Legends of Tomorrow)
Billy Dee Williams (Star Wars)
Sonya Walger (Flashforward)
Marsha Thomason (White Collar)
Carrie Preston (True Blood)
Tracy Middendorf(Scream: The Series)
Lance Reddick (Fringe)
Fisher Stevens (Hackers)
Thekla Reuten (Highlander 5)
Anthony Azizi (Eagle Eye)
Graham McTavish (The Hobbit)
Andrea Roth (Ringer)
Grant Bowler (Ugly Betty)
George Cheung (Dark Angel)
Kevin Durand (X-Men Origins)
Faran Tahir (Supergirl)
Michelle Forbes (Powers)
Raymond J. Barry (Cold Case)
Said Taghmaoui (American Hustle)
Reiko Aylesworth (24)
Eric Lange (Cult)
Alice Evans (The Originals)
Mark Pellegrino (Chuck)
Titus Welliver (Agents of SHIELD)
Brad William Henke (Fury)
Hiroyuki Sanada (The Wolverine)
John Hawkes (Winter’s Bone)
David H. Lawrence XVII (Heroes)
Dylan Minnette (Goosebumps)
William Atherton (Ghostbusters)
Jodi Lyn O’Keefe (Halloween: H20)

Lost Season 1 succeeds first and foremost in character development. Lost is about relationships and before we can understand the dynamic behind the various relationships that develop over the course of a season, we need to understand what motivates these characters. This shows approach of having an individual episode focus on a single character through flashback, while formulaic, is a brilliant decision.

Episodes like “The Moth” (Charlie), “Confidence Man” (Sawyer) and “Walkabout” give us a wealth of information about the people we are being introduced to. These episodes and others are entertaining, exciting and contain pivotal character moments that are still important to the story even in season four and undoubtedly beyond. As I’ve said, this is the foundation for the whole universe that we are being presented and the team behind Lost nailed it right from the “Pilot”.

With character being such an important focus of the first season, the major story and mysteries surrounding the island are deliberately underdeveloped. After the survivors’ first night and their encounter with the monster we know this island is anything but normal, but we are only given glimpses from that point on. Over the course of the season we discover that there are other people on the island but beyond that we really don’t learn anything. The truth is that if the writers had tried to develop the story at the same pace as the characters it would have all been too much, too soon and the whole world they are trying to build would have come tumbling down like a deck of cards. Saying that the story is underdeveloped may sound like a complaint but I feel that it was the best decision. We are given a thin vertical slice of what is to come in later seasons and that is all we really need.

Of course, there are a plethora of individual character stories that thrive over the course of the season. Jin and Sun’s tumultuous relationship and betrayal, Charlie’s battle with drug addiction, Claire copping with being a parent and the love triangle between Kate, Jack and Sawyer are just a small few of the intriguing storylines that take place. All of these work to strengthen our understanding of the survivors and

Definitely of note is the story of John Locke and his relationship with the island. It’s a fascinating story to watch unfold over the course of the season and Locke’s journey is very different from the rest of the survivors. He starts perceiving the island as a living entity and develops an understanding of it that everyone else fails to understand and they fear him for it. I wouldn’t call him the villain of the show — for the first season I would say “the unknown” is the nemesis — but Locke definitely has his own agenda. Terry O’Quinn does an exceptional job of portraying Locke’s development over the course of the season. He brilliantly presents a troubled and destroyed man who has experienced a profound miracle and is now trying to make sense of what has happened to him.

As long time fans have come to expect, Michael Giacchino’s score adds an extra amount of depth to the season. He stands out as one of the premiere composers on television and Lost would simply not be the same without him. Most of Lost’s twists and turns may not have the same impact the second time around but that doesn’t mean that their importance isn’t appreciated. This show’s opening season set the foundation for things to come over the course of the series.

Attempting to build on the strength of Season One, Lost Season Two introduces several new characters and a new mysterious group to keep viewers enthralled. The introduction of the tail section characters does serve a purpose early in the season as it reinforces the Others as formidable villains. While the survivors on the beach have had it relatively easy, the tailies experience 48 days of hell in which their numbers shrink to a handful. Beyond that, Libby slides into a cute love story with Hurley while Ana Lucia stands around and takes up space until she is shot to death by Michael. Neither contributes a substantial amount to the season or the series besides being canon fodder for Michael.

As for Mr. Eko, he does have a couple of good flashback episodes but it also feels like the writers are never quite sure what to do with him. At some points he’s a passive observer to events unfolding and the later he actively gets involved in the pressing of the button. Those last few episodes in which he finds himself destined to push the button almost seem as if the were a scramble to give the character something substantial to do. Don’t get me wrong, I’m a big fan of Eko but I feel as if his character was completely mismanaged from the outside.

Only Bernard, who really doesn’t do much himself, feels like a relevant addition from the tail section as he ties up the loose end regarding Rose’s husband. Their reunion alone makes his introduction worth the effort. The best new addition to the Lost cast is the person we see the least throughout the season – Desmond David Hume. His appearance in the first couple of episodes of the season were used solely to introduce the concept of the button but his flashback and story in the two hour finale presented an intriguing new character. He’s a hopeless romantic on a quest to regain his honor and reunite with his true love. Desmond’s story is leaps and bounds more exciting than the rest of the new cast.

Locke’s journey this season doesn’t really start to get interesting until the introduction of Henry Gale. For the first half of the season we get to see Locke at his most confident. He’s finally opened his hatch and discovered a bevy of new treasures inside to support his claims that the island and his connection to it are part of some much larger destiny. However, Gale’s arrival brings with it seeds of doubt as John’s world begins to fall apart. This culminates in the discovery of the Pearl Station and Locke’s complete loss of faith in the button and the island. It’s a good journey that has a great conclusion in the finale.

I really enjoyed Sawyer’s return to form midway through this season. Sure it didn’t make much sense for Sawyer to turn the entire camp against him in “The Long Con” but it was one of my favorite story lines of the season. His return to a nastier, less fan-friendly Sawyer was short lived however as he fairly quickly crept back into the good graces of the rest of the group.

Michael’s battle to get Walt back from the Others had him depart midway through the season but his return in the final few episodes of the season were thoroughly entertaining. His murder of Ana Lucia and Libby gave way to an interesting game of deception as Michael is forced to convince the survivors that Henry was behind their deaths. His absolutely disgust in himself for taking a life mixed with the continued desperation he has to reunite with his son makes for some of the best character moments of the entire season. Harold Parrineau does a fantastic job of portraying Michael’s spastic range of emotions in those final few episodes.

The real gem of this season and my favorite story arc is the introduction of Michael Emerson as Henry Gale. He spends most of his time confined in the Swan Station but that doesn’t stop him from being a formidable foe for the survivors of Flight 815. With the survivors fractured and keeping secrets from one another, Henry frequently manages to turn one survivor against the other. He’s favorite prey is John Locke who we already know is quite susceptible to snide comments and underhanded suggestions. Henry turns Locke inside out and uses him against Jack causing the group of survivors to lose focus. Its brilliant to watch unfold and Emerson brings a lot of weight to the role.

This season is easily broken down into two separate parts; the first six episodes that aired before an eight week hiatus and then the rest of the season. Even though the first six are considered part of the third season, they feel much more like a prologue. Very little time is spent with the survivors on the beach and the main focus of the story is Jack (Matthew Fox), Kate (Evangeline Lilly) and Sawyer’s (Josh Holloway) imprisonment by the Others. T

The second half of the season also featured some of the show’s best episodes to date. Including the brilliantly told “Flashes Before Your Eyes”, which is an interesting twist on Lost’s  flashback scenario. Other episodes like “The Man from Tallahassee” and “The Brig” answered long asked questions while “The Man Behind the Curtain” and “One of Us” gave us a much needed back-story on both Ben (Michael Emerson) and Juliet (Elizabeth Mitchell).

Really, the only weak point of the final sixteen-episode run would be “Stranger in a Strange Land”, an episode that primarily focused on the origins and meaning of Jack’s tattoo. We still don’t really understand the significance and we’re not too sure if the writers do either as they never bring up the subject again for the rest of the season. Even “Expos¿”, an episode that featured fan-hated Nikki (Kiele Sanchez) and Paulo (Rodrigo Santoro), told an interesting “Twilight Zone” style story and we couldn’t be happier with the conclusion.

If you were to suggest that the theme for season one was man vs. the unknown and that season two’s was man vs. machine  it would be fair to suggest that the theme for season three is man vs. man, as the main crux of the season deals with the survivors of Flight 815 dealing with the Others. There is a constant power struggle between the two groups and the narrative frequently shifts back and forth from the Others camp to the survivor’s beach. Intertwined throughout, are personal struggles for several of the characters in both camps and we realize as the story pushes forward that even though they are enemies, their survival appears to be dependant on each other.

At the core of this struggle is Benjamin Linus, and it would be a sin not to mention Michael Emerson’s fantastic performance as the enigmatic leader of the Others. He never once falters in portraying a creepy and unnerving nemesis for the survivors of Flight 815 and in particular, John Locke. Terry O’Quinn puts in an equally inspired performance and every time these two appeared on screen together, you knew something special was about to happen. Everything culminates in what can be described as one of the best season finales in recent memory. Carlton Cuse and Damon Lindelof deliver a brilliantly told story that is full of emotion, suspense and action.

After a stunning conclusion to the show’s third season, the bar was raised and much was expected of the fourth season of Lost. With the final three seasons reduced to sixteen episodes each and a clear finish line. The creative team could now focus on telling their story without having to worry about how many episodes they had left to work with. Season four is the first to benefit and delivers a faster paced and leaner story that expands the Lost universe in some unexpected ways and delves into the mystery that was introduced at the end of last season.The “flash-forward” at the end of last season introduced an exciting new way in which Lost stories could be told. The use of these flash-forwards continues through the fourth season, revealing that even more Oceanic survivors made it off the island and also introduces an intriguing conspiracy of silence regarding those who weren’t so lucky. This storyline is the backbone of the fourth season as we discovered who was fortunate enough to escape the island and who was left behind. This is arguably the series’ best story arc since the mystery surrounding the hatch and is a well-developed, tightly paced narrative that actually has a satisfying conclusion at the end of the season.

The benefit of a shortened schedule is apparent and this season has far less “filler” than previous outings. Less episodes means that every minute of screen time becomes that much more precious and the outcome is a season that doesn’t have what we’d consider a bad episode in the bunch. Even this season’s Kate-centric episode is decent when compared to previous years’ outings. There are plenty of episodes that you will want to revisit here, including the pivotal “The Constant” that is a game-changer when it comes to the series’ mythology. It also features Henry Ian Cusick’s best performance as Desmond to date and one of the more memorable Michael Giacchino scores. The rest of the season is filled to the brim with moments that will have any Lost fan riveted.


Acting wise, all the great performances that you have come to expect from the series’ regulars are present. Michael Emerson and Terry O’Quinn continue to put in stellar performances as Ben Linus and John Locke respectively. As has been stated many times throughout the last couple of seasons, these two have some phenomenal chemistry on screen and they spend a great deal of time verbally sparring with each other this season. The newcomers to the show are no slouches either. Veteran actor Jeff Fahey is memorable as helicopter pilot Frank Lapidus. Ken Leung has already become a series favorite as the sharp-tongued Miles Straume and while some fans have had a negative reaction towards Rebecca Mader’s Charlotte Lewis, it is hard to deny that she puts in a respectable performance here.

Jeremy Davies deserves special recognition for his portrayal of physicist – Daniel Faraday. Simply put, Davies’ is awesome as the polite and awkward scientist whose unique viewpoint of the island’s core mysteries is a benefit to the series. If given more screen time he would have probably stolen the show and he stands alongside Ben Linus and Desmond Hume as yet another exceptional new addition to the series.

With the introduction of new characters and the already expanded Lost cast, some regulars take a step back and are not featured as prominently as you would expect. Most notable are series heavyweights Jack and Kate, who are present and accounted for, but see their roles slightly reduced as other characters are brought to the forefront. As the cast and story expand, it has obviously become a necessity to focus on a wider range of characters. The series’ writers are equal to the task and do a good job of handling a large cast without forgetting anyone in the mix.

Last season, Lost successfully made the transition into the realm of science fiction with classic episodes like “The Constant” and of course, making the island literally disappear in “There’s no Place Like Home.” Season 5 dives head first into weighty science fiction concepts with time travel playing a major role in the narrative for the entire year. There are inherent risks with introducing time travel into a story that is already as complex as the one Lost has become over the past few years. For the most part, the writers do a good job of keeping the time travel aspect of the story from becoming too complicated, but there is no dispute that it is the driving force of the season’s narrative.

The first half of the season is comprised of two very distinct storylines. One of those being Jack Shephard’s desperate attempt to reunite the Oceanic Six in order to return to the island and the other being the journey of those left behind as they find themselves inexplicably traveling through time. The Oceanic Six storyline is definitely the weaker of the two. The story of the Six, hours before they return to the island was weakened by a slow start with the somewhat Hurley-centric “The Lie.” This is an episode that featured a little too much of Hugo Reyes’ wacky exploits as he transports an unconscious Sayid around Los Angeles. The rest of the Oceanic Six story is essentially a waiting game as we watch the pieces fall into place so that these characters can return to where we really want them to be – on the island. In fact, their return to the island in “316” feels rushed, almost as if the writers realized that the best place for these characters is back on the island.

The aptly named “The Life and Death of Jeremy Bentham” is the best episode that takes place almost entirely off the island. The story chronicles John Locke’s attempt to convince the Oceanic Six that they need to return to the island in order to save those left behind. It’s a tragic story for John Locke who has spent the last four seasons in the belief that the survivors of Flight 815 are tied by a single destiny but only in death does he finally make people believe. It’s a well-scripted story and wonderfully acted by Terry O’Quinn who does a great job of portraying an interesting transition for Locke on screen.

Locke isn’t the only one who goes through a transition this season as Benjamin Linus is forced into a situation that is quite surprising for the character. Without delving into too much detail, the dynamic between Locke and Ben changes quite a bit but the great chemistry between O’Quinn and Michael Emerson is still as exceptional as it has always been. Linus fans should not be disappointed by some of the great developments for the character this season.

On the island, Sawyer and the rest of the survivors left behind are forced to cope with the fact that they are constantly flashing through time, either to the past or the future. The approach taken here is straightforward and clearly laid out in the first episode of the season; you cannot change events in the past – whatever happened, happened and couldn’t of happened any other way. Faraday acts as the mouth piece for much of the technobabble in the early part of the season with Sawyer playing the part of the ‘everyman’ who constantly questions why things are happening the way they are. This allows the writers an opportunity to ease the audience into this shift of events without making things too complex to follow. There is plenty of exposition, but with Sawyer’s classic charm to offset Faraday’s jargon, it makes it a lot easier to swallow.

Time travel is utilized to its fullest here to reveal some of the island’s back-story over the last 50 years. Sawyer and co. pay a visit to the Others of the 1950s and are introduced to past leaders of the mysterious group. We also see some much-needed loose ends tied up as we finally learn more about Rousseau and her research team and we also discover why Richard Alpert visited a young Locke just one season ago. As secrets are revealed and key puzzle pieces are slid into place it’s surprising to see just how well everything fits together. Some of this is certainly due to the asset of knowing how many episodes you have left to tell your story in, but I’m hard pressed to find many plot holes in any of the explanations given. Cuse and Lindelof deserve credit for maintaining a watertight narrative throughout most of the season.

Season 6 of Lost is quite possibly the most scrutinized season of television in history. With both longtime fans of the series and curious outsiders wondering if this season would deliver both on answers and a satisfying conclusion, series show runners Damon Lindelof and Carlton Cuse had an incredible task on their hands. With an edge-of-your-seat conclusion to Season 5, the small band of survivors we’ve grown to love set out on their final journey against a villainous shape shifter on an island of mystery.

In Season 4, “The Constant” established Lost as a science fiction series when it introduced time travel into the equation. From that point forward, until the conclusion of Season 5, the series maintained and expanded on that concept by sending the survivors hurtling through time until they eventually landed in 1974 (or 1977, for those on Ajira 316). Season 6 drops the time travel story completely and introduces a different sci-fi concept: alternate realities. It appears that the detonation of Jughead in “The Incident” created a parallel universe in which events played out slightly different and Oceanic Flight 815 never crashed.Much like flash-backs and flash-forwards, we experience this parallel universe through a series of “centric” flash-sideways featuring the lives of these characters as if the crash had never happened. This gives Lindelof and Cuse a unique opportunity to reexamine the lives of these characters from a completely different perspective. The flash-sideways giving us incredibly important character moments and an intriguing new story that’s both surprising and engaging. With each “centric” flash-sideways story, parallels are drawn to the character’s plight while they are on the island. This relationship between timelines establishes a key connection between both storylines that give the flash-sideways an importance outside of simply being a different perspective on how things could have ultimately played out.

Connections between the two universes are explored more thoroughly as the series progresses and we do ultimately get a resolution to the flash-sideways storyline. How satisfying that resolution is will ultimately be based on a number of factors that stem from your own expectations. In other words, it’s a polarizing conclusion to a very unique story and you’re probably either going to love it or hate it. I loved the way the flash-sideways story ended because it satisfied the need for closure.

“Happily Ever After” stands out as the episode that had the most impact on both universes. Living, breathing Desmond David Hume (Henry Ian Cusick) has his consciousness transported into what we now know to be the afterlife and acts as the genesis for everything that happens in the “flash-sideways” realm after his departure. Desmond is also the catalyst for most events that occur leading up to and including the finale. He’s seen as nothing more than a tool by those around him; a means to an end. However, Desmond is infused with his own sense of purpose. With the events he experienced in the other universe infecting his mind, Desmond sets out to free those remaining on the island from their pain and suffering and take them to a better place. It’s funny how both Desmonds are essentially driven by the same goal, with only one succeeding. But Desmond’s error on the island gives Jack and Kate (Evangeline Lilly) the window they need to stop the Man in Black.untitledTerry O’Quinn, who spent most of the past five seasons playing John Locke, slips into his new role as the embodiment of dark temptation with ease. We actually saw him as the Man in Black last season, but even O’Quinn didn’t realize that he was technically playing a different character until close to the finale. Here he’s allowed to truly enjoy portraying a villain and it’s obvious he’s having a hell of a lot of fun in the role.The Man in Black tests the survivors like never before. Offering them freedom, survival and even  answers to some of the island’s more pressing mysteries. The way that the survivors respond to this temptation ultimately defines who they truly are, even if it takes them some time to make the right decision. Again, just like the flash-sideways, this gives us yet another fascinating new perspective on these characters. We see them at both their weakest and their strongest this season.Season 6 does a good job of explaining some mysteries while others are left up to the viewer to dissect for years to come. Lost: Season 6 is a strong conclusion to what has been an extraordinary series. All the elements that made the past five seasons so great are here, with the added bonus of this being the final season and the stakes being raised for all the characters. Whether or not the answers provided are satisfying or cover enough ground will vary drastically for different viewers, but ultimately, Lost: Season 6 delivers closure on a story that has captivated us for so long.

REVIEW: RUNNING SCARED

 

CAST

Paul Walker (Hours)
Cameron Bright (juno)
Vera Farmiga (Bates Motel)
Chazz Palminteri (Analyze This)
Karel Roden (Hellboy)
Johnny Messner (Tears of The Sun)
Ivana Milicevic (Vanilla Sky)
Michael Cudlitz (The Walking Dead)
Elizabeth Mitchell (V)
John Noble (Sleepy Hollow)

Joey (Paul Walker) is a small-time mobster hired to dispose of ‘hot’ guns for his bosses. One of these weapons (with particular value over all the others) falls into the hands of his son’s best friend and is used to startling effect. Here is where the real fun starts. Joey can find neither the child nor the weapon in question, and he has only 18 hours before either the police, the Russian mafia or his own employers catch up with him.

Walker is surprisingly impressive, here he plays Joey as someone well aware of his impending death should he fail, and throughout he is totally watchable and believable. The story occasionally flags, particularly in the middle of the film, but Kramer is not afraid to play with the camera-work to keep the audience’s attention – whip-pans, CSI-style extreme close-ups, super slow-motion, sepia filters and colour bleaching are all used to give the film a gritty and somewhat unique look.


The film’s charcoal-dark tone may be too relentless for some viewers, and the paedophilia subplot could be considered as taking things one step too far, but as long as you’ve got a strong stomach and can face hearing lashings of creative swearing, there’s a lot of enjoyment to be found here.

REVIEW: V (2009) – SEASON 1 & 2

CAST

Elizabeth Mitchell (Lost)
Morris Chesnut (Kick-Ass 2)
Joel Gretsch (Taken)
Logan Huffman (Final Girl)
Lourdes Benedicto (Drive Me Crazy)
Laura Vandervoort (Bitten)
Morena Baccarin (Gotham)
Scott Wolf (Go)
Charles Mesure (Xena)

RECURRING / NOTABLE GUEST CAST

Alan Tudyk (Dollhouse)
Christopher Shyer (Smallville)
Dacid Richmond-Peck (Sanctuary)
Britt Irvin (The Vow)
Scott Hylands (Earthquake)
Roark Critchlow (Mr. Deeds)
Michael Flipowich (Earth: Final Conflict)
Mark Hildreth (Earthsea)
Michelle Harrison (The Flash)
Ryan Kennedy (Caprica)
Nicholas Lea (Andromeda)
Rekha Sharma (Dark Angel)
Lexa Doig (Stargate SG.1)
Jessica Parker Kennedy (The Secret Circle)
Samantha Ferris (Along Came A Spider)
Paul McGillion (Stargate: Atlantis)
Bret Harrison (That 70s Show)
Jane Badler (One Life To Live)
Keegan Connor Tracy (Bates Motel)
Oded Fehr (The Mummy)
Martin Cummins (Dark Angel)
Ona Grauer (Arrow)
Michael Trucco (How I Met Your Mother)

A City-sized alien ships have appeared over twenty-nine cities worldwide, and the aliens’ leader “Anna” (Morena Baccarin) declares that, “We are of peace.” The Visitors offer their advanced technology to better the world, and cause massive changes — social, religious, medical, and so on.

While hunting a terrorist cell FBI agent Erica Evans (Elizabeth Mitchell) stumbles across an anti-Visitor resistance — and the shocking discovery that not only are the visitors reptilian creatures in humanoid skins, but some Visitors are hiding among us. She and the skeptical priest Father Jack (Joel Gretsch) begin forming their own little resistance cell, along with the V-in-hiding Ryan Nicholas (Morris Chestnut) who is trying to reactivate an alien rebellion known as the Fifth Column. At the same time, news anchor Chad Decker (Scott Wolf) finds himself the media ambassador of the V’s, caught between ambition and his growing doubts.

But the resistance has more than Anna’s cruel, duplicitous nature to deal with — Erica’s gullible son Tyler (Logan Huffman) has become a “peace ambassador” for the V’s and is falling in love with Anna’s daughter Lisa (Laura Vandervoort). Ryan’s girlfriend is pregnant with a hybrid baby. One of their number is captured by the V’s and brutally tortured, even as Anna hatches terrifying new plots to wipe the Fifth Column from existence…

“V: The Complete First Season” is very different from the 1980s version — there are sweeping changes to the story, characters, the political commentary and the aliens’ manipulation.  the writing is good — it’s full of suspense and some amazing plot twists. The characters are painstakingly sketched out and developed, along with strong dialogue, and  yeah, there’s some creepy stuff too, such as when Erica gets her shocking first glimpse of a V face. Not so much rodent-eating, though.

Season 2’s most welcome surprise was the introduction of lizard Queen Anna’s mother, Diana, played to perfection by the original series’ Jane Badler. Though Jane played a character with the same name over 20 years ago, this Diana was not the same Diana audiences loved to hate in the 1980’s. This Diana was a Queen in exile playing cat and mouse with her own daughter. The dynamic between both actresses was electrifying and you frequently felt Anna had met her match. While the humans stumbled around trying to figure out how to save humanity from a vastly superior alien force, Diana tormented her daughter, creating doubt and sewing division with the raise of an eyebrow and a carefully planted suggestion.

 

In addition to Jane’s highly publicized return, season 2 also gave audiences a great many twists and turns, including:
– the return of Mark Singer, the original series’ Mike Donovan;
– an international resistance that finally started to do something other than debate the need to take action;
– technology versus the power of the human soul;
– Visitors without their human skin;
– critter eating in all its disgusting iconicness;
– Erica Evans finding her inner bad ass;

If season 1 was good, season 2 was excellent. Yes, it has it’s short falls like any young series, but in a remarkably short time the series found it’s feet and created a drama that was exciting and surprising. With outstanding performances from actors like Elizabeth Mitchell, Morena Baccarin, Joel Gretsch, Scott Wolf, Morris Chestnut, Laura Vandervoort, Charles Measure, Christopher Shyer, Josh Hildreth and Jane Badler, season 2 was a lot of fun and incredibly easy to watch and get lost in.

As with the original series it ends on a cliffhanger and then cancelled so we will never know what was to be.