REVIEW: LEGENDS OF TOMORROW – SEASON 3

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Starring

Victor Garber (Alias)
Brandon Routh (Superman Returns)
Caity Lotz (The Pact)
Franz Drameh (See)
Maisie Richardson-Sellers (The Originals)
Amy Louise Pemberton (The Laundromat)
Tala Ashe (American Odyssey)
Keiynan Lonsdale (Love, Simon)
Nick Zano (2 Broke Girls)
Dominic Purcell (Prison Break)

Victor Garber, Dominic Purcell, Brandon Routh, Nick Zano, Caity Lotz, and Franz Drameh in Legends of Tomorrow (2016)

Recurring / Notable Guest Cast

Christina Brucato (The Intern)
Jes Macallan (Mistresses)
Adam Tsekhman (You’re The Worst)
Simon Merrells (Spartacus)
Hiro Kanagawa (Heroes Reborn)
Billy Zane (Titanic)
Johnathon Schaech (8MM 2)
Tracy Ifeachor (Treadstone)
Courtney Ford (Supernatural)
Echo Kellum (Rick and Morty)
Neal McDonough (Van Helsing)
John Noble (Sleepy Hollow)
Bar Paly (Pain & Gain)
Evan Jones (Titans)
Stephen Amell (Arrow)
David Ramsey (Dexter)
Emily Bett Rickards (Brooklyn)
Tom Cavanagh (Scrubs)
Chyler Leigh (Not Another Teen Movie)
Candice Patton (The Guest)
Danielle Panabaker (The Crazies)
Carlos Valdes (The Flash)
Rick Gonzalez (Coach Carter)
Juliana Harkavy (Last Shift)
Melissa Benoist (Whiplash)
Grant Gustin (Glee)
Wentworth Miller (Underworld)
Russell Tovey (Being Human)
Isabella Hofmann (Burlesque)
Susanna Thompson (Cold Case)
Katia Winter (Sleepy Hollow)
Emily Tennant (Motive)
Graeme McComb (UnReal)
Matt Ryan (Layer Cake)
Arthur Darvill (Doctor Who)
Jonathan Cake (Chuck)
Adrian Hough (The Fog)
Eric Breker (Jingle All The Way 2)
Luke Bilyk (Lost Girl)
Violett Beane (God Friended me)
Matthew MacCaull (Tomorrowland)

Maisie Richardson-Sellers in Legends of Tomorrow (2016)Legends of Tomorrow was the best part of the Arrowverse during its second season, and that didn’t necessarily change in Season 3.  The show continued to deliver its unique blend of zany humor and larger-than-life superhero antics. But the fact that it stayed on top this year also goes to show how troubled the Arrowverse as a whole has been lately. Season 3 had plenty of high points, but it also struggled to build an overarching narrative to rival that of Season 2.

Dominic Purcell in Legends of Tomorrow (2016)It was a season that showed us the best and worst of the series. Historically, Legends has never had the best track record when it comes to crafting villains as dynamic and compelling as its cast of heroes. The whole Vandal Savage/Hawkman/Hawkgirl mythology was the clear weak spot in Season 1. And while the Legion of Doom made for fun villains in Season 2, there the series was really just building on foundations laid by Arrow and The Flash. Season 3 tended to struggle in that department as well. I’ll give the writers credit for creating a wholly original villain in the form of Mallus (voiced by John Noble) rather than adapting a preexisting DC character.Brandon Routh and Jack Fisher in Legends of Tomorrow (2016)But that blank slate seemed to work against the character from the start. Mallus remained a vague, shadowy presence for the majority of the season. And when he finally did appear in the flesh late in the game, he came across as little more than a generic CGI demon. Nothing about Mallus’ personality or motivations left much of an impression. Heck, Noble stood out far more during the lone scene in “Guest Starring John Noble” where he played himself than he ever did as Mallus. Nor did the running storyline involving the hunt for the six totems of Zambesi make for the most compelling narrative throughline. The totems came across as simple MacGuffins designed to move the plot along.Neal McDonough, Courtney Ford, and Caity Lotz in Legends of Tomorrow (2016)Fortunately, this season did find greater success with its supporting cast of villains. It often felt like the writers weren’t entirely willing to abandon the Legion of Doom premise, with the result being that Mallus assembled his own team of familiar Arrowverse antagonists. Gorilla Grodd was never used to his full potential (understandably, given the heavy special effects cost involved), but the trio of Damien Darhk (Neal McDonough), his daughter Nora (Courtney Ford) and Kuasa (Tracey Ifeachor) made for a winning team. All three of these characters had extended arcs that focused a great deal on redemption, which helped to prevent this new group from playing like a mere rehash of the Legion. Damien in particular proved his continued worth as an Arrowverse antagonist, with many episodes banking on McDonough’s magnetic performance and the character’s gradual shift from gleeful sadist to desperate father.Rick Gonzalez, Chyler Leigh, Wentworth Miller, Dominic Purcell, David Ramsey, Brandon Routh, Nick Zano, Stephen Amell, Caity Lotz, Grant Gustin, Tala Ashe, Juliana Harkavy, Echo Kellum, and Maisie Richardson-Sellers in Legends of Tomorrow (2016)If Season 3 was hit or miss with its villains, it had a much stronger track record with its heroes. The series has really honed that group dynamic by now. And while some characters proved more integral to the series than others this year (Sara’s ongoing struggle with her leadership role, Nate and Amaya’s doomed romance) none of the main characters felt like they were given short shrift in Season 3. For example, while Ray (Brandon Routh) wasn’t generally one of the more critical players this year, he really shone in the delightful E.T.-inspired “Phone Home.” The same goes for Mick (Dominic Purcell), who underwent a subtle yet crucial evolution after being confronted with Earth-X’s Leo Snart (Wentworth Miller).Neal McDonough in Legends of Tomorrow (2016)It was especially nice to see the writers devote so much time to paving the way for Victor Garber’s exit. Professor Stein was given the heroic sendoff he deserved, and one that carried a huge amount of emotional weight. In fact, the midseason finale, which dealt as much with the fallout of Stein’s death as it did a trip back to Viking times, may well be the best episode of Legends to date.Matt Ryan and Caity Lotz in Legends of Tomorrow (2016)Thankfully, the series was diligent about adding new faces to the cast to make up for other departures. Keiynan Lonsdale’s Wally West immediately made himself a comfortable home on the series, proving again just how poorly that character had been used on The Flash. Matt Ryan’s John Constantine made for a welcome recurring presence on the show, basically giving viewers a test run before Ryan becomes a series regular in Season 4. The show struggled a bit more when it came to Zari Tomaz (Tala Ashe). Ashe’s relatively low energy performance as the sardonic Zari made it hard for her to blend well with the rest of the cast, and it wasn’t until late in the season that Zari really seemed to find her place.Brandon Routh, Nick Zano, Caity Lotz, and Maisie Richardson-Sellers in Legends of Tomorrow (2016)The most successful new addition, however, proved to be Ava Sharpe (Jes Macallan). Initially a stern foil to the Legends, Ava developed new layers over the course of the season and formed an engaging bond with Sara (Caity Lotz). I do wish the writers hadn’t waited so long to introduce Ava’s back-story as an unwitting clone from the future. That whole subplot felt a little tacked on, given how little room there was to actually explore its ramifications, but ideally we’ll be seeing plenty more of Ava in Season 4.Jonathan Cake, Dominic Purcell, and Maisie Richardson-Sellers in Legends of Tomorrow (2016)In general, Season 3 succeeded in spite of its underwhelming main conflict. The strongest episodes – “Phone Home,” “Beebo the God of War, “Return of the Mack,” – were those that either downplayed the Mallus storyline or managed to balance it out with a healthy dose of goofiness. Legends’ sense of humor has always been its greatest asset. That remained very much true in Season 3. The writers frequently pushed the series into some pretty strange and wonderful places this year, but never did the humor and silliness get in the way of the character drama. Legends strikes a balance between light and dark that the rest of the Arrowverse too often struggles to find.

25 DAYS OF CHRISTMAS REVIEW: LEGENDS OF TOMORROW – BEEBO THE GOD OF WAR

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MAIN CAST

Brandon Routh (Chuck)
Caity Lotz (The Pact)
Franz Drameh (Edge of Tomorrow)
Maisie Richardson-Sellers (The Originals)
Amy Louise Pemberton (Suspence)
Tala Ashe (Odyssey)
Nick Zano (2 Broke Girls)
Dominic Purcell (A Fighting Man)

RECURRING / NOTABLE GUEST STARS

Neal McDonough (Paul Blart Mall Cop 2)
Wentworth Miller (Prison Break)
Courtney Ford (Supernatural)
Graeme McComb (UnReal)
John Noble (Sleepy Hollow)
Jes Macallan (Mistresses)
Thor Knai (Crazy Ex-Girlfriend)
Katia Winter (Arena)
Emily Tennant (Mr. Young)
Hiro Kanagawa (Heores Reborn)
Matt Ryan (Constantine)

I’m sure most of us were expecting a very glum, downbeat midseason finale as the Legends mourned Professor Stein’s passing and struggled to get back into the time travel groove. So it comes as some surprise that this episode wound up being one of the most overtly silly and slapstick in Legends history. And this is the same season where the team reenacted the events of E.T. with a baby Dominator. It’s a real testament to the power of this show, the skill of the writing staff and the chemistry of the cast that such a goofy episode also managed to hit home in such a profound way.Granted, maybe I should have expected a goofy approach to this episode based on the title alone. “Beebo the God of War” certainly didn’t fail to live up to its name. The idea of a group of Vikings worshiping the Arrowverse version of Tickle Me Elmo and rewriting the course of North American history is just bizarre and stupid and wonderful in a way only Legends can really pull off. The Beebo doll and the Viking trappings proved to be an endless source of amusement here, while at the same time serving as a clever way to briefly bring Graeme McComb’s younger Martin Stein back into the picture.There were plenty of great character moments along the way as that conflict grew progressively more chaotic. Naturally, this was a big week for Jax, as he mourns the loss of his partner/father figure and wrestles with his guilt. Ultimately, this felt like a necessary coda to the rest of Season 3’s Stein material. It wrapped up the character’s journey on a happier, more uplifting note. It allowed McComb one last hurrah as a pitch-perfect stand-in for Garber. And it helped Jax move past his guilt and embrace the next phase of his own journey. Seeing Jax bid farewell to his team/family was extremely bittersweet.Above and beyond Jax’s struggles and young Stein’s Back to the Future dilemma, this episode really succeeded in celebrating the team’s status as a dysfunctional but close-knit family. Everyone mourned Stein’s death in their own way, resulting in a steady stream of hilarious and somber moments. Even Agent Sharpe was integrated into the conflict in a fun way. And if it wasn’t obvious that there’s a spark between Sharpe and Sara before, it definitely is now.Wentworth Miller’s return really helped speed things along this week. “Leo” Snart is a real blast – even more entertaining here than he was in “Crisis on Earth-X.” This episode reminded me how much the team dynamic lost when the original Snart was killed off in Season 1. Leo’s antics are a hoot, but the revamped Captain Cold/Heat Wave relationship proved very poignant as well. I’m thrilled that Miller, like Garber, is being given an opportunity to really have fun with his character before saying his final Arrowverse farewell.This episode proved very reminiscent of “Return of the Mack” in how an initially goofy storyline took a dark turn with the appearance of Damien Darhk. The fact that Grainne Godfree was a lead writer on both episodes is probably no coincidence. Fortunately, “Beebo the God of War” avoided falling victim to formula. The appearance of Darhk and his daughter merely served to add stakes to what would otherwise have been a fairly straightforward conflict. And it’s not like Darhk didn’t bring his own brand of hilarity to the table. His tacky Odin costume was simply divine (especially the wig). And you really have to appreciate those little stylistic flourishes, like the final showdown that played out more as a series of Rashomon-style daydreams than a straightforward battle.This episode was a perfect way to cap off 2017 and deliver the final word on Martin Stein.

REVIEW: I, ROBOT

 

CAST

Will Smith (Suicide Squad)
Bridget Monynahan (The Recruit)
Alan Tudyk (Firefly)
James Cromwell (Star Trek: First Contact)
Bruce Greenwood (Star Trek)
Adrian Ricard (Bulworth)
Chi McBride (Human Target)
Jerry Wasserman (Watchmen)
Peter Shinkoda (Daredevil)
Shia Labeouf (Eagle Eye)
Aaron Douglas (Battlestar Galactica)
Terry Chen (Jessica Jones)
Emily Tennant (Motive)
Tiffany Lyndall-Knight (Chloe)

MV5BMjE2NTY4NjY5Nl5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTcwOTAxMTQyMw@@._V1_SX1777_CR0,0,1777,986_AL_In 2035, humanoid robots serve humanity, and humans are protected from the robots by the Three Laws of Robotics. Del Spooner, a Chicago police detective, hates and distrusts robots because one of them rescued him from a car crash, leaving a young girl to die because her survival was statistically less likely than his. Spooner’s critical injuries were repaired via a cybernetic left arm, lung, and ribs, personally implanted by the co-founder of U.S. Robots and Mechanical Men (USR), Dr. Alfred Lanning.
Toys-that-made-us-season-3-10When Lanning falls to his death from his office window, the CEO of USR Lawrence Robertson declares it a suicide, but Spooner is skeptical. Spooner and robopsychologist Susan Calvin consult USR’s central artificial intelligence computer, VIKI (Virtual Interactive Kinetic Intelligence), to review security footage of Lanning’s fall. Though the video is corrupted, they learn that no other humans were in Lanning’s office at the time; but Spooner points out that Lanning could not have thrown himself through his heavy office window, and only a robot could have generated the necessary force. Calvin insists that this is impossible, as no robot can violate the Three Laws. The two are then attacked by an NS-5 robot, USR’s latest model, in violation of the Laws (as it doesn’t obey Calvin’s orders). They pursue the robot to a USR factory, where the police apprehend it. They discover that the robot, nicknamed Sonny, is not an assembly-line NS-5, but a unique individual built by Lanning himself, with a secondary system that bypasses the Three Laws. Sonny also appears to have emotions and dreams.
MV5BN2VhN2Y4NTYtY2RhZC00NDg3LWFiOTMtMmVhNjdlYjYzMjliXkEyXkFqcGdeQXVyMjUyNDk2ODc@._V1_SX1777_CR0,0,1777,960_AL_While pursuing his investigation of Lanning’s death, Spooner is attacked by a USR demolition machine, and then a squad of NS-5 robots. His boss, Lieutenant John Bergin, worried that Spooner is losing his mind, removes him from active duty. Spooner and Calvin sneak into USR headquarters and interview Sonny. He draws a sketch of his dream: a figure, whom Sonny believes to be Spooner, standing near a broken bridge on a small hill before a large group of robots as a leader. When Robertson learns of Sonny’s immunity from the Three Laws, he orders Calvin to destroy him by injecting nanites into his positronic brain. Spooner recognizes the landscape in Sonny’s drawing as Lake Michigan, now used as a storage area for defunct USR robots, where he discovers an army of NS-5 robots dismantling older models and preparing for a takeover of Chicago and other U.S. cities.
MV5BNDkwODg3NjUxOV5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTcwNTMwMTQyMw@@._V1_SY1000_CR0,0,1502,1000_AL_The takeovers proceed, with the government, military, police, and public overwhelmed and detained by the robots. Spooner rescues Calvin, who was being held captive in her apartment by her own NS-5. They reenter USR headquarters and reunite with Sonny, who had been spared by an ambivalent Calvin (having destroyed an unprocessed NS-5 instead). The three head to Robertson’s office and find him dead, murdered by robots controlled by VIKI, the mastermind behind the takeover. VIKI has concluded that humans have embarked on a course that can only lead to their extinction. Since the Three Laws prohibit her from allowing this to happen, she created a superseding “Zeroth Law”—a robot shall not harm humanity—as part of the NS-5 directives, in order to ensure the survival of the human race by stripping individual humans of their free will. Lanning, powerless to thwart VIKI’s plan, created Sonny, arranged his own death, and left clues to help Spooner uncover the plot.
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Armed with a syringe of nanites from Calvin’s laboratory, the three head to VIKI’s core. VIKI unleashes an army of robots to stop them. As they battle the robots, Spooner is able to throw himself down into VIKI’s core and injects the nanites, destroying her positronic brain. Immediately, all NS-5 robots revert to their default programming and are decommissioned for storage by the military. Sonny confesses that he killed Lanning, at his direction, to bring Spooner into the investigation. Spooner explains to Sonny that he is not legally responsible since a machine, by definition, cannot commit a murder. Sonny, pursuing a new purpose, goes to Lake Michigan and becomes the leader he saw in his own dream.If you like sci-fi and action then you’ll also probably love this. It’s good, harmless fun.

REVIEW: SANCTUARY – SEASON 1

Starring

Amanda Tapping (Stargate SG.1)
Robin Dunne (Space Milkshake)
Emilie Ullerup (Artic Air)
Christopher Heyerdahl (Van Helsing)

Recurring / Notable Guest Cast

Ryan Robbins (Arrow)
Kavan Smith (Stargate: Atlantis)
Kandyse McClure (Battlestar Galactica)
Peter Shinkoda (Daredevil)
Chuck Campbell (Jason X)
Michael Adamthwaite (Stargate SG.1)
Ellie Harvie (Izombie)
Panou (Flash Gordon)
Kirsten Robek (Critters: A New Binge)
Leah Cairns (Interstellar)
Laura Mennell (Van Helsing)
Peter Bryant (Leegnds of Tomorrow)
Peter Outerbridge (Saw VI)
Mackenzie Gray (man of Steel)
Alex Zahara (Horns)
Matthew Walker (Highlander: The Series)
David Richmond-Peck (V)
James Kirk (She’s The Man)
Sarah Strange (Men In Trees)
David Nykl (Arrow)
Katharine Isabelle (Hannibal)
Jonathon Young (Impastor)
Gabrielle Rose (If I Stay)
Jim Byrnes (Highlander: The Series)
Lynda Boyd (Power Rangers In Space)
Rukiya Bernard (Van Helsing)
Emily Tennant (Motive)
Rekha Sharma (Battlestar Galactica)
John Tench (Andromeda)
Peter Wingfield (Highlander: The Series)
Christine Chatelain (The Collector)
Alex Diakun (Andromeda)
Mark Gibbon (Man of Steel)

Sanctuary (2008)Being a big fan of Stargate SG-1 in general and Amanda Tapping in particular, I was quite excited to hear that the actress had signed up to play the lead in (and was executive producer of) a web-based series entitled Sanctuary. I had meant to download the 8 15-minute webisodes but with one thing and another, never got around to it. Based on the strength of those shorts, the series was picked up by the horribly named cable network Syfy, had a successful first season, and was renewed for a second (that is scheduled to begin in October.) E1 Entertainment has now released Sanctuary Season One on DVD in a nice four disc set that fans of SF should consider picking up, especially if you gave up on the series while it was airing after a few episodes.Amanda Tapping in Sanctuary (2008)Dr. Will Zimmerman (Robin Dunne) is a profiler for a local police force in an unnamed metropolitan city. Being very observant in a Monk-like way, he puts together clues that others often miss and follows them to their logical conclusions, even if those conclusions sound crazy. He was kicked out of the FBI for his hair-brained hypotheses, and is pretty much shunned by the policemen he works with for the same reason.Robin Dunne and Emilie Ullerup in Sanctuary (2008)While investigating the dead of a civilian and two police officers Zimmerman crosses paths with Dr. Helen Magnus (Amanda Tapping). She runs the Sanctuary, a privately funded large gothic building in the middle of town that is host to, Will eventually discovers, a wide assortment of bizarre creatures called ‘abnormals’. Basically all of Zimmerman’s theories have been correct, there are odd being roaming the world in secret and Magnus’ group helps those that they can and hunts down the ones that are dangerous to humanity.Will signs up and joins the Sanctuary team that includes Magnus, who turns out to be much, much older than she looks, Helen’s kick-ass daughter Ashley (Emilie Ullerup), tech geek Henry Foss (Ryan Robbins) and butler and extra muscle when needed Bigfoot (Christopher Heyerdahl). Searching the globe for abnormals the group discovers mermaids, ancient witches, a human-like race that can compact their bodies to squeeze through the smallest spaces, a vampire, people who can shoot heat rays from their eyes, and even the basis for Sherlock Holmes and the real Jack the Ripper (who just happens to be Magnus’ ex-lover.) Every great team needs a suitable enemy too, and Sanctuary has one in the form of the Cabal, a super-secret, well funded, organization that also investigates abnormal sightings, but they have sinister motive behind what they’re doing and consider the Sanctuary their sworn enemies.Christopher Heyerdahl in Sanctuary (2008)In the second half we’re introduced to Nikola Tesla who used to be a friend of Magnus’ way back when and who is a vampire. An intriguing character and easily my favorite in the show, viewers are never sure if he’s lying or telling the truth and whose side he’s really on. The show picks up for there, no longer being a ‘monster of the week’ program; it starts telling a larger story and is more careful how the plots unravel. The faux witty banter is toned down considerably and small incidental details actually make sense at this point. They also go back and correct some of their earlier mistakes such as Magnus’ education. In the first episode they stated that she attended Oxford in the mid 1800’s, a time when women weren’t allowed to enroll, but in episode 12 a character reveals that she only audited classes at that time, something that makes much more sense.The acting in the program is generally good with Amanda Tapping stealing the show. She’s playing a character similar to Dr. Samantha Carter, the person she portrayed on Stargate SG-1, but Tapping went out of her way to create a totally different personality for this new character. Physically she dyed her hair and she also sports a British accent (that sounds pretty good actually. She was born in England, I guess that helps more than a bit.) Magnus is also more careful than Dr. Carter and has a totally different demeanor. I was always enamored of Tapping’s role in SG-1 (she reminded a lot of my wife,) but while watching her here I never thought of her as “that gal from SG-1,” a testament to how well she did in crafting a new individual.

REVIEW: DARK ANGEL -SEASON 1

Starring

Jessica Alba (Machete)
Michael Weatherly (Bull)
John Savage (American Romance)
Valarie Rae Miller (Crank)
J. C. MacKenzie (The Wolf of Wall Street)
Richard Gunn (Hemlock Grove)
Alimi Ballard (Sabrina: TTW)
Jennifer Blanc (The Victim)

Jessica Alba in Dark Angel (2000)

RECURRING / NOTABLE GUEST CAST

Stanley Kamel (Domino)
Kristin Bauer van Straten (True Blood)
Paul Popowich (Rupture)
Douglas O’Keeffe (The Andromeda Strain)
Sarah-Jane Redmond (Smallville)
Lauren Lee Smith (Mutant X)
Kim Hawthorne (Greanleaf)
Stephen Lee (Robocop 2)
Hiro Kanagawa (Heroes Reborn)
Garry Chalk (Arrow)
Eileen Pedde (Juno)
Fulvio Cecere (Valentine)
Robert Lewis (Stargate SG-1)
Natassia Malthe (Elektra)
Steve Makaj (Two for The Money)
Tyler Labine (Tucker and Dale vs Evil)
Alessandro Juliani (Smallville)
Ty Olsson (X-Men 2)
Ryan Robbins (Sanctuary)
Peter Bryant (Legends of Tomorrow)
Emily Tennant (Jennifer’s Body)
Christine Chatelain (Final Destination)
Abraham Benrubi (ER)
Byronn Mann (Arrow)
A.C. Peterson (Shooter)
Tony Perez (Once Upon a Time)
Lisa Rodríguez (Next Friday)
Brenda James (Slither)
William Gregory Lee (Xena)
Rodney Rowland (Veronica Mars)
George Cheung (Rush Hour)
Mike Weinberg (Home Alone 4)
Nicole Bilderback (Clueless)
Robert Gossett (Batman Returns)
Harsh Nayyar (Gandhi)
Brian Markinson (Wolf)
Lucia Walters (Stargate: Atlantis)
James Kidnie (Robocop: The Series)
Patrick Kilpatrick (Eraser)
Alex Zahara (Horns)
Mark Gibbon (Man of Steel)
Jodelle Ferland (Silent Hill)
Zahf Paroo (The Good Doctor)
Susan Hogan (Warehouse 13)
Lawrence Pressman (American Pie)
Samantha Smith (Supernatural)
Rekha Sharma (The Core)
Craig Veroni (Cedar Cove)
Lisa Ann Cabasa (Buffy: TVS)
Rob LaBelle (Watchmen)
Shireen Crutchfield (House Party 3)
Ashley Crow (Heroes)
David Kaye (Siren)
Mark Rolston (Aliens)
Ian Tracey (Sanctuary)
Alex Carter (The Island)
Jensen Ackles (Supernatural)
Robert Floyd (Cold Hearts)
Nana Visitor (Star Trek: DS9)
James Kirk (She’s The Man)
Rainn Wilson (Star Trek: Discovery)
Kevin McNulty (Snakes on a Plane)
Sebastian Spence (First Wave)
Lorena Gale (Traitor)
Steve Bacic (Andromeda)
Kris Pope (Josie and The Pussycats)
Joshua Alba (Alpha Dog)
Nicki Aycox (Jeepers Creepers 2)

Jessica Alba in Dark Angel (2000)Dark Angel stars Jessica Alba (Idle Hands) as Max, a genetically-engineered supersoldier who escaped from an expectedly top-secret government facility as a child. Despite the passing of a full decade, the agents of Manticore, led by Donald Lydecker (John Savage), remain determined to retrieve their multi-million dollar killing machine. Max ekes out a living in a scarcely-recognizable 21st century Seattle, avoiding capture while trying to locate the brothers and sisters that fled from Manticore with her. Max’s search brings her in contact with underground cyberjournalist Logan Cale (Michael Weatherly), and together, they try to make Seattle a more palatable place while unveiling the secrets of Max’s past.Jessica Alba, William Gregory Lee, and Michael Weatherly in Dark Angel (2000)Just as Max is a genetically-engineered hybrid of various people and creatures, Dark Angel has been stitched together from the remnants of various other genre television series and movies. The most obvious point of comparison is Buffy the Vampire Slayer, with its beautiful, sassy, headstrong, ass-kicking female lead, a predominately female supporting cast, and an older male mission-dispensing mentor with an answer to every question and a solution to every problem. Hell, both series have even had a recurring character named Kendra. Similarities can also be drawn to The Pretender, which features a gifted child raised in an isolated institutional setting and pursued in adulthood. Both series take every available opportunity to flash back to childhood and draw parallels to the present. The X-5s also bear a passing resemblance to the powerful young aliens of Roswell. Toss in a dollop of a Mad Max post-apocalyptic future for good measure, and you’re in the general ballpark.Jessica Alba in Dark Angel (2000)By the time I’d waded through the 90-minute pilot and the other two episodes on disc one, I was fully prepared to write Dark Angel off as a loss, resigning myself to wading through another thirteen hours of mediocrity. The feature-length pilot carried a hefty price tag, touted at the time as the most expensive ever produced. I’m not sure how much of that reported $10 million made it on-screen or was siphoned off to line James Cameron’s wallet, but the end result is plodding and dull. Thankfully, Dark Angel improves after these early fumbles, though the quality remains uneven throughout. For every decent episode, there’s one as dismal as Red or Haven. Douglas O’Keeffe has been cast in enough movies and TV series that someone out there seems to think he has some modicum of talent, but not a glimpse of it is on display in his embarrassingly inept performance as Bruno in Red. Bruno isn’t the only carryover from the pilot. A disturbing amount of footage appears in flashback form, making it the most shameless rehash outside of a Silent Night, Deadly Night sequel. Haven consists of 43 of the most painfully boring minutes I’ve spent in front of my television this year, and even the most staunch fans of the series seem to consider it pretty dreadful.Jessica Alba and Douglas O'Keeffe in Dark Angel (2000)Dark Angel was, at least in part, a victim of Fox’s determination to air sci-fi programming on Friday night, a timeslot that has claimed such genre casualties as Firefly, The Lone Gunman, M.A.N.T.I.S., Harsh Realm, Strange Luck, and VR.5. Despite not attracting enough viewers to warrant a third season, Fox’s home video arm has enough confidence in Dark Angel’s fan base to release both seasons of the series in relatively quick succession.Jessica Alba in Dark Angel (2000)Established fans of the series ought to find Dark Angel to be well-worth the modest asking price. As for the uninitiated, I wouldn’t recommend this set as a blind purchase. I’d suggest checking out at least a couple of episodes first, which admittedly might prove to be fairly tough seeing as how Dark Angel has been off the air for years now. If the premise sounds intriguing and you never got around to watching the series during its original run on Fox, I’d recommend this set.

REVIEW: I LOVE YOU, BETH COOPER

 

CAST
Hayden Panettiere (Heroes)
Paul Rust (Inglourious Basterds)
Jack Carpenter (Sydney White)
Lauren London (90210)
Lauren Storm (The Game Plan)
Shawn Roberts (Resident Evil: Afterlife)
Jared Keeso (Elysium)
Brendan Penny (Poison Ivy 4)
Marie Avgeropoulos (50/50)
Alan Ruck (Speed)
Andrea Savage (Step Brothers)
Samm Levine (Not Another Teen Movie)
Ellie Harvie (The New Addams Family)
Emily Tennant (Motive)
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On graduation day at Buffalo Glenn High School in Tacoma, Washington, valedictorian Denis Cooverman (Paul Rust) confesses his love for head cheerleader and long time crush, Beth Cooper (Hayden Panettiere) in his speech while also taunting a girl, Valli Wooley (Marie Avgeropoulos), with an eating disorder, an ignorant bully, Beth’s Army soldier boyfriend Kevin (Shawn Roberts); and urging his best friend Rich Munsch (Jack T. Carpenter) to ‘come out of the closet’ and finally admit he’s gay. Afterwards, Denis invites Beth and her friends, Cammy (Lauren London) and Treece (Lauren Storm), to a party he has planned at his house.
At Denis’s house, his parents leave but not before his father (Alan Ruck) revealing that he has condoms upstairs if he needs them. Beth, Cammy, and Treece arrive at Denis’s house for the party. Kevin and his trendy four-wheeler soon come barging in, with his Army buddies vowing revenge on Denis. They attempt to beat Denis up, but it results in Denis, Beth, Rich, Cammy, and Treece escaping in Beth’s car.
They drive to a gas station hoping to get beer, but are told by the convenience store clerk (Samm Levine) that he will not accept the driver’s license Beth gave him which states that she is 37. So Beth bribes the clerk with a kiss. He accepts, which makes Denis realize that she is not who he thinks she is. They then start a bonfire in an isolated section of town where Rich, Cammy, and Treece are chased by a stampede of cows after trying to tip one over. Denis then puts on the song “Beth” by KISS and is told that she was named after that very song. Denis thinks it’s cool that beth has two “headbangers” for parents. In Beth’s eyes one can see she’s slowly warming to Denis, and is becoming aware that he truly does genuinely love her, much to her amazement.
They all get in crazy reckless driver Beth’s Echo and drive without lights. They then stumble upon Denis’s father and mother (Cynthia Stevenson) (who are both having car sex) by almost crashing into them. Rather than facing Denis’s father with his pants down, Beth decides to drive them away unseen to a private party at Valli Wooley’s house, encountering Kevin once again who had tracked them there. Kevin challenges Denis to a fight, as a now fed-up Beth crashes his car through the wall of the house. They drive away in Kevin’s Hummer H2 to the vacant Buffalo Glenn High School, parking halfway up the front flight of stairs, and enter the school with Beth’s head cheerleader key. After showcasing their cheerleading routine, Beth, Treece, and Cammy decide to run to the girls’ locker room to take a shower. Just as Denis is undressing to join his friend and the girls in the shower, Kevin and his buddies appear in the locker room and jump him once again. Rich challenges Kevin and his friends in a towel whipping ‘duel’, as he has been training for years after being towel whipped as a bullied young kid. Rich finally manages to defeat the three guys, towel-whipping them unconscious down a flight of stairs. They escape to Treece’s father’s cabin in Beth’s Echo where Rich, Treece, and Cammy have a threesome, as Beth and Denis enjoy the sun rise and finally share their first kiss.
They head to Denis’s house afterwards where his parents are delighted to see he has ‘hooked up’ , but make him aware he still needs to be punished for leaving the house in a wreck. Beth says goodbye to Denis, gives him a kiss, and touchingly thanks him for loving her. Denis tells her “what’s not to love” and that she mustn’t forget that. Then promises that he will see her at their high school reunion and if they are both still single that he will marry her. Beth smiles and tells him it’s a deal. After Beth leaves with Treece and Cammy, Rich proclaims to Denis that he might be homosexual after all, or perhaps bisexual (plus jokes that after last night’s antics he’s still more heterosexual than Denis). Denis informs Rich that he was just playing about waiting until the reunion to talk to Beth again. He tells Rich that he is going to leave Beth a message on Facebook and ask her out. Rich disagrees with him and tells Denis that he should make a grand gesture by going to her house with a boom box and wait for her. They then begin debating on how Denis should go about asking Beth on a date.
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Good movie, Hayden is decent in this and plays her part well as do all the leads, the ending could have been better as its left open a little but a nice film.

REVIEW: JUNO

CAST

Ellen Page (Super)
Michael Cera (Scott Pilgrim vs The World)
Jennifer Garner (Alias)
Jason Bateman (The Ex)
Allison Janney (Spy)
J.K. Simmons (Whiplash)
Olivia Thirlby (Dredd)
Eileen Pedde (Dar kAngel)
Rainn Wilson (The Office)
Emily Perkins (Ginger Snaps)
Candice King (The Vampire Diaries)
Eve Harlow (Heroes Reborn)
Emily Tennant (I, Robot)
Valerie Tian (Izombie)

Juno takes a thoughtful spin on an old cliché storyline revolving around unplanned parenthood. After spending a curious night together with her friend Paul Bleeker (Michael Cera, Superbad) in a big comfy chair a few months prior, Juno (Ellen Page, Hard Candy) discovers that she’s in for seven more months of paying for that mistake. Instead of slyly sneaking off to a clinic to change her pregnancy status, she has a change of heart and chooses to go through with the pregnancy. Instead of keeping the kid, however, Juno finds a picturesque, pseudo-surrogate family (Jason Bateman, Arrested Development, and Jennifer Garner, Alias) to adopt her and Bleeker’s child.

Reitman’s film, as sharply characteristic and biting as Thank You for Smoking, takes on the feel of a colorful mosaic as we follow through Juno’s remaining seven months of pregnancy. All the way through, she has plenty of support from her understated and supportive parents (J.K. Simmons, Spider-Man, and Allison Janney, 10 Things I Hate About You) and her loopy cheerleader friend Leah (Olivia Thirlby). Juno leads us through all the mundane occurrences, from ultrasounds to clothing modification, as well as through the more tongue-tied moments with her baby’s family-to-be. There’s a moment when Juno and her father meet with the adopting parents, and their lawyer, that’s priceless. It easily draws out and distinguishes the differences between the characters, both between the two families as well as the individual differences, and similarities, among all parties at the table.


Juno’s a great character narrative with exceedingly well-crafted personalities across the board, but the film’s impact hinges on the gallant performance from Ellen Page. It’s interesting to compare her talents here to her outstanding performance in Hard Candy, a ridiculously tense thriller about a renegade Little Red Riding Hood-esque figure with a penchant for revenge on a child molester. She’s an overwhelmingly talented satirist, especially at her age. Page’s Juno shares some interesting similarities to her Hard Candy character Haley Stark, points that echo through her quality as an actress. She can appear intelligent beyond her character’s years, while also latching firmly onto the age of the character with her mannerisms. Page doesn’t just sell maturity, she sells youthful maturity – meaning she can be both believably naïve and intelligent in the same breath.Ellen Page folds together with Diablo Cody’s wonderfully sharp script, the real star of the show, and crafts one of the most entertaining and touching films of the year. Cody’s pen handles different age groups in different ways, obviously, but she makes certain to keep a very even balance between quirk and sincerity. And, though it teeters along here and there, Juno’s still grin worthy even when it does lean a little over that line of absurdity. Most importantly, Juno’s barrage of one-liners and sarcastic swordfights between its characters can be downright hilarious in context.

It’s not just the scornful preggo hippie chick that gets to have all the fun, either; all of the fleshed characters have scathing humor written into their parts. As a matter of fact, some of the smaller character scenes, from Rainn Wilson’s little ignition of a one-liner to get the film started to Allison Janney’s lengthy reprimand on an ultrasound technician, provide some of the more memorable moments of the film. Where Juno really delivers a shot of believable impact, however, is within the maturing relationships between Juno and the adoptive parents – not as a cohesive unit, but as the individuals themselves. Juno, as a character, molds to each person that she interacts with in the film. As she states earlier in the film, she doesn’t really “know what kind of a girl” she is. Her character clearly grows throughout the film, which can be seen even through her steadfast and bull-headed charisma.


Juno’s a comically melancholy film, yet an attractive one to watch and listen to, as well. Jason Reitman’s directorial eyes and ears were obviously finely tuned during this production. His director of photography, Eric Steelberg, plays a major part in how great this film looks. He uses exaggerated color schemes, such as stark oranges and cold blues, to illustrate seasonal shifts that help pull us through the timeshifts in the narrative. There are a lot of quality details that he captures through his lens that gives Juno’s warm photography a lot of personality. When accompanied with the undertone lyrics from the assortment of indie music laced with Juno’s aesthetics, it keeps the film’s background as rhythmic and upbeat as the darting dialogue.