REVIEW: IN HER SHOES

CAST

Cameron Diaz (Bad Teacher)
Toni Collette (Japanese Story)
Shirley MacLaine (Rumor Has It…)
Ken Howard (The Net)
Brooke Smith (Bates Motel)
Candice Azzara (Catch Me If You Can)
Richard Burgi (Cellular)
Anson Mount (Inhumans)
Mark Feuerstein (Royal Pains)
Eric Balfour (Haven)
Francine Beers (Keeping The Faith)
Alan Blumenfeld (Heroes)
Ivana Milicevic (Gotham)

Maggie (Cameron Diaz) and Rose Feller (Toni Collette) are sisters with nothing in common but their shoe size. They were raised by their father Michael (Ken Howard) and stepmother (Candice Azzara) after their mother Caroline died in a car accident. Rose is the eldest; an ostensibly plain and serious lawyer who is protective of Maggie despite her flaws. Maggie is a free spirit who is unable to hold a steady job (due to her virtual inability to read) and turns to alcohol and men for emotional and financial support. Rose grudgingly allows Maggie to move in with her in her Rittenhouse Square apartment in Philadelphia when their stepmother throws her out of the house. Their already difficult relationship ends when Rose catches Maggie in bed with Jim (Richard Burgi), her boyfriend. Maggie subsequently disappears from Rose’s life.A few days before, while secretly looking through her father’s desk for money, Maggie discovered a bundle of old greeting cards containing cash. She was astonished to discover that the cards were addressed to both her and Rose and were from their grandmother Ella (Shirley MacLaine). Now, homeless and without job prospects, Maggie travels to Florida to find her and hopefully a new source of income. When Ella first hears from Maggie, she invites her to stay in her home, She admits to her close friend Ethel how Caroline was bipolar, and sent her a note several days before her death to look after her girls. So she letting Maggie stay with her partially out of guilt for abandoning her responsibilities as a grandmother. However, as time passes, Ella discovers that Maggie has come to do nothing but sunbathe and take money from her. Maggie asks Ella to finance an acting career for her; Ella agrees to match her salary dollar for dollar if she accepts a job with the assisted living section of her grandmother’s retirement community. Meanwhile, Rose has decided to quit her job, become a dog-walker, and date Simon Stein (Mark Feuerstein) whom she had previously ignored. They become engaged.Maggie befriends one of her patients, a blind retired professor of English literature (Norman Lloyd), who has asked Maggie to read works of poetry to him. She does so, but with great difficulty. After asking if she is dyslexic, the professor encourages Maggie to continue reading to him while offering emotional support to her. Maggie finds a friend in the professor, the first person in her life who does not ridicule her difficulties with reading (and actually helps her to improve in this area). As time passes with the professor, Maggie’s confidence grows not only with reading but with her general image of herself. In addition, she also becomes friendly with the residents of the retirement community. In doing so, Maggie discovers a livelihood that is greatly needed among the elderly women: a personal clothing shopper, an activity for which Maggie shows enormous talent. Ella (who also does not ridicule her difficulties with math) offers to run the financial aspects of the business. In the process, they become close and resolve their history. Meanwhile, Rose’s reluctance to talk about Maggie is straining her relationships with those around her, such as Simon, her father, and stepmother. While Michael remains oblivious to his daughters’ falling out and the stepmother does not care much of the sisters, Simon tries to get Rose to talk about Maggie. When he sees Rose and former boyfriend Jim converse about how Rose cannot talk about Maggie to anyone, Simon’s patience has grown thin and effectively dumps Rose after she keeps protecting Maggie by staying silent.Ella has also secretly contacted Rose and sends a plane ticket asking her to come for a visit. Rose is excited to hear from her long-lost grandmother, but her pleasure quickly sours when she arrives and discovers that her sister already lives there. After a long conversation with Ella, Rose reveals that after Caroline took Rose and Maggie on a spontaneous trip to New York (without Michael’s knowledge), Michael and Caroline got into a huge argument, with Michael threatening to put her in a mental institution. Caroline killed herself 2 days later and sent a note to Ella, pleading with her to take care of her daughters. Maggie does not remember this as Rose shielded her from the events to protect her. Ella never recovered from Caroline’s death and never resolved her feelings towards Michael; for she felt he ignored the signs that his wife had problems. The three women bond and learn to resolve their complicated past. Meanwhile, Maggie has contacted Simon telling that Rose is in Florida and “in trouble” and arranges him to meet Rose at the elderly residents’ party. The two rekindle their engagement after Rose finally opens up about Maggie’s personality and Rose’s desire to protect her fearing that Simon will come to hate Maggie. Maggie decides to throw Rose’s wedding, preparing the Jamaican/reggae theme in order to show Rose how much she loves her. At Rose’s wedding, Ella also reconciles with Michael and Maggie reads a poem to Rose as a wedding gift.Compassionate, moving yet hilarious. Through the hardest negative efforts to find a flaw to this, I just can’t insult this honest faultless gem.

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REVIEW: SPREAD

CAST

Ashton Kutcher (Two and a Half Men)
Anne Heche (Wag The Dog)
Margarita Levieva (Adventureland)
Sebastian Stan (Captain America: TWS)
Ashley Johnson (Dollhouse)
Rachel Blanchard (Road Trip)
Eric Balfour (Skyline)
Sonia Rockwell (Wild Child)
Shane Brolly (Underworld)
Maria Conchita Alonso (The Running Man)
Sarah Buxton (Listen)
Hart Bochner (Die Hard)

Narcissistic gigolo Nikki (Ashton Kutcher) lives in Los Angeles, drifting from one relationship to another without a steady job or even a place to live. He preys on women who can provide for him. After meeting Samantha (Anne Heche) at a club he moves in with her, using his looks and sexual prowess to keep her happy.
Before long, however, Nikki starts cheating on Sam, first with his friend Emily (Rachel Blanchard), then with Christina (Sonia Rockwell), whom he met at another party. Emily disapproves of Nikki’s free-wheeling lifestyle and has expressed a desire for a relationship, but Nikki has no real interest in her except for sex. Samantha catches Nikki with Christina, but they come to an uneasy arrangement where she will ignore his infidelity.
While Sam is out of town, Nikki meets a waitress named Heather (Margarita Levieva). He enlists his friend Harry (Sebastian Stan) to help him get Heather interested, but she does not fall for his charms. Although he eventually gets a date with her, she abandons him afterwards. Soon after, Heather unexpectedly shows up in Nikki’s pool and they end up having sex. The next morning Nikki is moving Heather’s car and realizes it does not belong to her but to her “boyfriend”, after she told him she was single. Nikki throws her out in anger. However, he cannot stop thinking about her, and his obsession frustrates Samantha to the point that she gets fed up and throws him out, quickly taking him back. Nikki, however, leaves on his own accord, still enchanted by Heather.
Nikki searches for a place to stay, but has a falling out with Harry and cannot get into the parties he once did. He runs into Heather at a swanky hotel, and she admits that she was only interested in him for his house, believing him to be rich. It transpires that she is the same as Nikki, scamming rich men for money in the same way he does with women. She lets him move in with her and her stoner room-mate Eva (Ashley Johnson) and they begin dating, though Heather continues to scam and hustle, with some reluctant assistance from Nikki.
Image result for spread filmOne day, an upset Heather reveals to Nikki that she just broke up with her fiancé because she is in love with Nikki. She further tells him her fiancé’s family owns the New York Rangers and that he is the one who has been paying her bills and living expenses. Nikki, who has also fallen in love with Heather, is nonetheless angry that she kept her engagement from him, and leaves the house in a huff. When he returns he only finds a note that says she has left for New York City. At Eva’s urging and with Harry paying for the airfare, Nikki follows her. He finds her at a plush penthouse and begs her to come back to LA with him. She refuses, telling him she cannot afford to let him chase his fantasies around while she runs down the funds they would need to live. He then proposes to her, but she tells him that she is already married, breaking his heart. Heather says that she cannot get a divorce because she needs the luxuries and high expenses. Her husband (Hart Bochner) returns home and Heather passes Nikki off as a grocery boy, dismissing him.
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Nikki returns to LA, getting an honest job delivering groceries and living with Harry. He delivers groceries to Samantha’s house, where they are picked up by the kept man who has replaced Nikki. The ending credits show Nikki feeding a mouse to Harry’s African Bullfrog.

A nice flick with a lot of essence. I didn’t expect it to have any point whatsoever and i was pleasantly surprised the way the movie builds up. Its certainly not another kind of teen movie..it has style and substance.

 

 

REVIEW: WHAT WOMEN WANT

 

 

CAST

Mel Gibson (Mad Max)
Helen Hunt (As Good as It gets)
Marisa Tomei (The Wrestler)
Alan Alda (the Aviator)
Ashley Johnson (Dollhouse)
Mark Feuerstein (Defiance)
Lauren Holly (All My Children)
Delta Burke (Designing Women)
Valerie Perrine (Superman)
Judy Greer (Ant-Man)
Sarah Paulson (Serenity)
Ana Gasteyer (Mena Girls)
Lisa Edelstein (Daddy Day Care)
Loretta Devine (Crash)
Diana Maria Riva (17 Again)
Eric Balfour (Skyline)
T.J. Thyne (Bones)
Audrey Wasilewski (Pushing Daisies)
Cristine Rose (Heroes)
Bette Midler (Drowning Mona)
Martha Stewart (2 Broke Girls)

Nick Marshall, a Chicago advertising executive and alpha male, who grew up with his Las Vegas showgirl mother, is a chauvinist. He is skilled at selling to men and seducing women. Just as he thinks he’s headed for a promotion, his manager, Dan, informs him that he is hiring Darcy McGuire instead, to broaden the firm’s appeal to women. Also, his estranged 15-year-old daughter Alexis is spending two weeks with him while his ex-wife Gigi goes on her honeymoon with her new husband Ted. Alexis is embarrassed by Nick, and resents his being protective when he meets her boyfriend.

Desperate to prove himself to Darcy and Dan, Nick attempts to think of copy for a series of feminine products that Darcy distributed at the day’s staff meeting. He slips and falls into his bathtub while holding an electric hairdryer, shocking himself. The next day, Nick wakes up and comes to realize that he can hear the innermost thoughts of all women. This proves to be an epiphany for him as he realizes that most women, especially at work, dislike him and consider him to be sleazy. When he goes to his old divorce therapist, Dr. Perkins (who also disliked him), she realizes his gift and encourages him to learn to use it to his advantage.

Nick eavesdrops on Darcy and sabotages her ideas to use as his own. As he spends more time with Darcy, he realizes he is attracted to her. When he tries to get closer to his daughter, she resents him for trying after so many years of neglect. He is able to bond with her by helping her shop for a dress for a prom dance. Using his gift, Nick detects that her boyfriend, who is older than Alex, plans to sleep with her and then dump her, but she does not want Nick’s advice.

Nick and Darcy begin to spend more time together, and ultimately they kiss. When he manages to trump Darcy out of her idea for a new Nike ad campaign aimed at women, he later regrets his selfishness, especially as it leads to her being fired. Nick persuades his boss to give Darcy her job back by saying that it was all Darcy’s idea.

Nick’s mindreading talents gradually subside, and over time he rekindles some of his female acquaintance/ relationships. Nick loses his gift during a storm while trying to find a company secretary, Erin, who (telepathic ability revealed) is contemplating suicide. He stops her just in the nick of time and offers her a position for which she previously applied. When Alex’s boyfriend rejects her for refusing his sexual advances, Nick consoles her and is able to restore their relationship. Nick finally visits Darcy and explains everything. She forgives him and agrees to save him from himself, to which he responds “My hero.”

A Very enjoyable. It’s a bit of a laugh and a light hearted film. Great to relax and unwind with.

REVIEW: SKYLINE

CAST
Eric Balfour (Lie With Me)
Scott Thompson (Star Trek)
Brittany Daniel (Sweet Valley High)
Crystal Reed (Teen Wolf)
Neil Hopkins (Lost)
David Zayas (Gotham)
Donald Faison (Scrubs)
Tanya Newvould (The Victim)
Jarrod and his girlfriend Elaine have flown to Los Angeles for Jarrod’s best friend Terry’s birthday party. They celebrate with Terry’s wife, Candice, and his assistant, Denise. During the party, one of Terry’s employees, Ray, welcomes Jarrod to L.A., thinking he has moved there to join Terry’s special effects company. During a private argument about whether or not they should move, Elaine reveals she is pregnant.
The next morning, blue lights descend from the sky, hypnotizing anyone who looks at them. The light affects them physically, causing them to become zombie-like. Any immobilized humans are collected by the light machines. Ray is taken, but Jarrod is saved when Terry tackles him, and he slowly returns to normal. He and Terry go to the apartment roof to investigate the lights. They see large alien spaceships descending through the clouds and vacuuming up thousands of screaming people. They are attacked by one of hundreds of flying alien drones and forced to retreat from the roof. As they attempt to open the door before the alien can get them, Elaine quickly opens it from the other side and accidentally looks directly into the aliens light. The alien hypnotizes Elaine with its blue light, but Jarrod and Terry are able to save her and close the door.
Back in the apartment, Jarrod believes the open water would be a safer place, since there are no machines over the sea. They attempt to reach the marina by car, splitting into two cars: Terry and Denise in the first, followed by everyone else in the other. They encounter a bickering couple, Colin and Jen, also getting ready to flee the building. As Terry’s car exits the garage it is flattened by a massive two-legged alien. Denise is killed but Terry escapes. As he begins to run he is abducted. The others run back into the garage, where they encounter another alien lifeform in the shape of a large multi-tentacled squid that takes Colin. It corners the rest of the group before the building’s concierge, Oliver, slams into it with an SUV. They find Colin is still alive inside the creature. As they try to free him, the squid creature comes back to life, sucking out Colin’s brain and regaining its energy. As they run back into the building, Jen is abducted. The next day, the United States Air Force launches an attack against the alien spaceships and flying alien drones using stealth unmanned combat aerial vehicles and conventional drone aircraft armed with air-to-air missiles (a “jet engine” powered MQ-9 Reaper). Only one stealth plane (an X-47B) gets through the carnage and just before it gets destroyed it fires a nuclear missile, hitting the mothership. The huge detonation blows the ship apart, but minutes later as the mushroom cloud clears, the alien ship rises back into the air and begins to slowly repair itself. After Jarrod tells Elaine that the alien light made him feel powerful, he is adamant that safety must be found outside. Oliver wants to stay inside and tries restraining him. Jarrod physically starts changing as he lifts Oliver off the floor and vows that he will protect his family.
Helicopters arrive, inserting squads of soldiers. Jarrod and Elaine go to the roof hoping to catch a ride to safety. Oliver and Candice stay in the penthouse, but are found. Candice is hypnotized by the blue light and is abducted; Oliver attempts to kill a tanker alien by turning on a gas stove and igniting a lighter, causing the room to explode. The soldiers are thrown off the roof by the aliens and a squid alien attacks Jarrod and Elaine. They kill it, but with Jarrod badly hurt. They are surrounded by the aliens, so resigned to their fate, they look into the blue light, embrace and are sucked up into the mother ship as it slowly flies over the building. A brief montage shows that cities all over the world have been overrun by the aliens.
Inside the alien spacecraft, Elaine wakes up on a pile of human corpses. Tubes are sucking human brains into machines; probes go through the pile looking for what they can find. Elaine sees Jarrod in the pile but has to watch helplessly as his brain is removed. She is probed, but left alone since she is pregnant. Elaine is transported to another chamber where other pregnant women have been sent. Meanwhile, Jarrod’s brain, glowing red instead of the usual aliens’ blue, is inserted into a new alien body. Animating the alien body, Jarrod seems to retain control, and comes to the aid of Elaine and their unborn child. He destroys the machine that is probably trying to extract the fetus. Elaine recognizes him when he caresses her belly and her head. He then turns around to confront advancing aliens, and in between the credits, a series of still images depict “Jarrod” protecting Elaine and their child from the other aliens.
This is a film that that is greater than the sum of its parts in my opinion. A bad script, and by extension bad acting actually do little to harm it. What really redeemed this film was the action scenes, as well as the most engaging alien threat committed to film since the War of the Worlds remake. Make no mistake, the aliens are not as threatening or original as can be found elsewhere, but they do have a sense of overwhelming doom that most end of the world films really fail to convey. In the end, the relatively small budget is evident in the acting and not the action, and in reaching for the sky and coming up short this ambitious film is destined to garner bad reviews and a lot of hate, but will be considered a flawed gem by a cult following.

 

REVIEW: NO ORDINARY FAMILY

MAIN CAST
Michael Chikilis (Gotham)
Julie Benz (Angel)
Kay Panabaker (Two and a Half Men)
Jimmy Bennett (The Amityville Horror)
Autumn Reeser (Human Target)
Romany Malco (Blades of Glary)
Stephen Collins (Star Trek: The Motion Picture)
RECURRING / NOTABLE GUEST CAST
Christina Chang (28 Days)
Tate Donovan (Argo)
Jamie Harris (Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.)
Josh Stewart (The Dark Knight Rises)
Jason Antoon (Minority Report)
Reggie Lee (Drag Me To Hell)
Joanna Walsh (Faster)
Guillermo Diaz (The Terminal)
Jonathan Adams (Bones)
Rahcel Miner (The Butterfly Effect 3)
Max Greenfield (New Girls)
Amy Gumenick (Arrow)
Jackson Rathbone (Twilight)
Cybill Shepherd (Moonlighting)
Bruce McGill (Collateral)
Amy Acker (Dollhouse)
Mimi Kennedy (Mom)
Katelyn Tarver (Dead on Campus)
Annie Wersching (The Vampire Diaries)
Jason Wiles (Zodiac)
Luke Kleintank (Bones)
Rebecca Mader (Lost)
Joanne Kelly (Mutant X)
Katrina begin (Zookeeper)
Betsy Brandt (Breaking Bad)
Ethan Suplee (My Name Is Earl)
Anthony Michael Hall (The Dead Zone)
Tricia Helfer (Battlestar Galactica)
Eric Balfour (Skyline)
Lucy Lawless (Ash vs Evil Dead)
Robert Picardo (Star Trek: Voyager)
Michael Maize (Eagle Eye)

The Powells are a typical American family living in fictional Pacific Bay, California, whose members gain special powers after their plane crashes in the Amazon. The show is very light hearted and manages to mix comedy with action and drama extremely well. The family are quite cliché and the powers aren’t exactly ‘original’ but they make it work.The cast do a great job portraying their characters, Michael Chiklis (Star of The Shield and Fantastic Four) does a brilliant job as the father while Julie Benz (formerly Rita Morgan in Dexter) puts on a strong performance as the mother of the family. You also have Kay Panabaker and Jimmy Bennett as the kids.

The character development in this series is great and the story is  highly entertaining. The characters relationships are believable and very engrossing. I think the pairing of Jim Powell (Michael Chiklis) and George St. Cloud (Romany Malco) is brilliant. The second prize for most hilarious character in this show has to go to Stephanie Powells best friend and work colleague Katie Andrews (Played by Autumn Reeser), she is incredibly geeky and so socially awkward, hilarious to watch.

It’s light hearted, fun and easy to watch. Yes it has the sci-fi/fantasy element to it which is akin to shows like Chuck, Heroes, Supernatural, Buffy, Smallville etc. But it also has a more family oriented feel to it at times and what this show does brilliantly is applying super powers to every day events. A lot of people have been comparing it heroes but I find it far to light hearted to be compared to heroes. It’s nowhere near as dark and serious and has far more comedy integrated throughout. I’d say it’s more like Chuck than Heroes. It was cancelled after only 1 season but still its very much worth a watch.

REVIEW: BUFFY: THE VAMPIRE SLAYER – SEASON 1-7

Buffy the Vampire Slayer Logo 3840x2160 wallpaper

CAST

Sarah Michelle Gellar (Ringer)
Nicholas Brendon (Children of The Corn III)
Alyson Hannigan (How I Met Your Mother)
Charisma Carpenter (Scream Queens)
Anthony Stewart Head (The Iron Lady)
Davis Boreanaz (Bones)
Seth Green (Austin Powers)
James Marsters (Caprica)
Marc Blucas (Red State)
Emma Caulfield (Supergirl)
Michelle Tractenberg (17 Again)
Amber Benson (The Killing Jar)

RECURRING / NOTABLE GUEST STARS

Mark Metcalf (Drive me Crazy)
Brian Thompson (Hired To Kill)
Ken Lerner (The Running Man)
Kristine Sutherland (One Life To Live)
Julie Benz (No Ordinary Family)
Eric Balfour (Skylive)
Persia White (The Vampire Diaries)
Mercedes McNab (The Addams Family)
Elizabeth Anne Allen (Bull)
Robin Riker (The Bold and The Beautiful)
Musetta Vander (Stargate SG.1)
Christopher Wiehl (Cold Hearts)
Geoff Meed (Little Miss Sunshine)
Andrew J. Ferchland (The Last Leprechaun)
Jennifer Sky (Cleopatra 2525)
Chad Lindberg (The Fast and The Furious)
Armin Shimerman (Star Trek: DS9)
Dean Butler (Little House on The Prairie)
Clea DuVall (The Lizzie Borden Chronicles)
Robia LaMorte (Spawn)
Michael Bacall (Django Unchained)
Juliet Landau (Ed Wood)
Ara Celi (American Beauty)
Clayne Crawford (Roswell)
Danny Strong (The Prophecy II)
Kavan Smith (Stargate SG.1)
Robin Sachs (Jurassic Park 2)
Larry Bagby (Walk The Line)
Jason Behr (Roswell)
Will Rothhaar (Kingpin)
Julia Lee (A Man Apart)
Bianca Lawson (The Vampire Diaries)
Saverio Guerra (Becker)
John Ritter (8 Simple Rules)
Jeremy Ratchford (Cold Case)
James Parks (Kill Bill)
Vincent Schiavelli (Batman Returns)
Jack Conley (Fast & Furious)
Willie Garson (Stargate SG.1)
Christopher Gorham (Ugly Betty)
John Hawkes (Winter’s Bone)
Meredith Salenger (Lake Placid)
Charles Cyphers (Halloween)
Wentworth Miller (Legends of Tomorrow)
Shane West (Nikita)
Max Perlich (Blow)
Richard Riehle (Office Space)
Carlos Jacott (3rd Rock From The Sun)
Nancy Lenehan (Two Guys and a Girl)
Jason Hall (American Sniper)
K. todd Freeman (The Dark Knight)
Fab Filippo (Guidestones)
Jeremy Roberts (The Mask)
Eliza Dushku (Tru Calling)
Ian Abercrombie (Army of Darkness)
Harry Groener (About Schmidt)
Jack Plotnick (Rubber)
Nicole Bilderback (Dark Angel)
Jeff Kober (New Girl)
Harris Yulin (Training Day)
Dominic Keating (Star Trek: Enterprise)
Michael Cudlitz (The Walking Dead)
Alexis Denisof (Dollhouse)
Christian Clemenson (Lois & Clark)
Ron Rogge (Power Rangers Lightspeed Rescue)
Ethan Erickson (Jawbreaker)
Andy Umberger (Deja Vu)
Katharine Towne (Evolution)
Lindsay Crouse (The Insider)
Phina Oruche (The Forsaken)
Adam Kaufman (Taken)
Walter Jones (Mighty Morphin Power Rangers)
Kal Penn (Van Wilder)
Bailey Chase (Longmire)
Leonard Roberts (Heroes)
Andy Hallett (Chance)
Doug Jones (Hellboy)
George Hertzberg (Too Much Magic)
Alastair Duncan (The Batman)
Rob Benedict (Birds of Prey)
Erica Luttrell (Lost Girl)
Kathryn Joosten (desperate Housewives)
Connor O’Farrell (Lie To Me)
Rudolf Martin (Swordfish)
Tom Lenk (The Cabin In The Woods)
Charlie Weber (Gacy)
Clare Kramer (Bring it On)
Ravil Isyanov (Alias)
Amy Adams (Man of Steel)
Brian Tee (Jurassic World)
Kali Rocha (Buried)
Kevin Weisman (Alias)
Abraham Benrubi (Open Range)
Cynthia LaMontagne (That 70s Show)
Oliver Muirhead (The Social Network)
Shonda Farr (Crossroads)
Adam Busch (Sugar & Spice)
Joel Grey (Cabaret)
Karim Prince (Mighty Morphin Alien Rangers)
Wade Williams (Gangster Squad)
Todd Stashwick (The Originals)
Amber Tamblyn (Two and a Half Men)
Jordan Belfi (Surrogates)
Mageina Tovah (Spider-Man 2 & 3)
Ivana Milicevic (Casino Royale)
Lee Garlington (Flashforward)
Jan Hoag (Scream Queens)
Nicole hiltz (Smallville)
Alexandra Breckenridge (The Walking Dead)
D.B. Woodside (24)
Zachery Ty Bryan (The Fast and the Furious 3)
Sarah Hagan (Freaks and Geeks)
Jonathan M. Woodward (Firefly)
Stacey Scowley (The Brotherhood 2)
Felicia Day (The Guild)
Megalyn Echikunwoke (Arrow)
Ashanti (Resident Evil: Extinction)
Indigo (Broken City)
Nathan Fillion (Firefly)
Dania Ramirez (Heroes)
Julia Ling (Chuck)

Buffy The Vampire Slayer is one of the wittiest, most well developed, and consistent cult fantasy shows on television. Unlike other shows in the genre, it has been able to showcase a wide balance between fantastic character development, humor, topical plotlines, heart wrenching drama, science fiction, and horror- a horn a plenty of styles all in one 44 min episode. While entertaining, everyone probably can’t relate to the technobabble machinations of a Star Trek episode, or the convoluted paranoia of and X-Files episode, but we all went through high school and whether you were average, popular, or an outcast, we know, we remember, all too well, the emotional highs and lows of growing up. Its something everyone can relate to, and its the central fire that keeps Buffy grounded.


But, Buffy began as a humble mid season replacement on a non entity network, and its early days when it was gaining its footing, starting its mythology, seeing how far they could tweek the drama and the horror with a minuscule budget… well, its not nearly the powerhouse it would quickly become in its second season. There are of course, subtle signs of the drama and humor to come, little hints that it was more than a teen show with vampires. And, honestly, if you were going to try and impress someone who had never seen The X-Flies, you certainly wouldn’t show them the first season without saying, “It gets much better.”

KEY EPISODES ARE –


Episode 1: Welcome to the Hellmouth- Buffy Summers, a high school sophomore, transfers to Sunnydale High. There she meets her “Watcher” and learns she cannot escape her true destiny.— Like most pilots, its all about introductions- Buffy the reluctant Slayer, her pals and soon to be Scoobies, spazz with a heart of gold Xander, shy brain Willow, her stuffy Watcher Giles, the mysterious Angel, and the snobbish beauty queen Cordelia. Also, of course, establishes the first main villain, The Master, and the Hellmouth, the demonic portal that would provide the show with its main mythological device keeping the town of Sunnydale infested with all manner of creatures for Buffy to slay

Episode 2: The Harvest:- A Stranger named Angel tells Buffy that if she does not stop the Harvest, the Hellmouth will open and the Master roam free.— Whereas the first episode was focused on introducing the characters and didn’t have much room for tension or action, The Harvest provides a look at Buffy having to accept her role as Slayer as she realizes the deadly consequences if she abandons her destiny.

Episode 5 : Never Kill a Boy on the First Date:

While awaiting the arrival of a warrior vampire called the Anointed One, Buffy’s big date at the Bronze ends with an assault on a funeral home. — Once again, showing Buffy’s attempts to balance a normal life with her secret life as the Slayer. While a little weak and cornball, it also manages to show the villain thread well, how most main Buffy villains will have some sort of evolution, twists and turns to keep the viewer guessing.

Episode 7: Angel: A moment of passion turns to terror as Buffy discovers Angel’s true identity and learns about the Gypsy curse that has haunted him for almost 100 years.— Probably the most weak, ill-defined character early on, this episode finally showcased more about Angel and gave his character some considerable fleshing out. Taking into account the large part his character would play in the Buffyverse, and the leaps and bounds of change he would undergo, his affect on all the characters, particularly Buffy, in one way or another, it makes this one of the seasons better episodes.

Episode 11: Out of Mind, Out of Sight: As Cordelia prepares for Sunnydale High’s May Queen competition, an invisible force starts attacking her closest friends.— Another of the seasons better episodes, and a clever look an always pertinent issue, showing yet another sympathetic foe, those fringe kids who are always ignored, sometimes until it is too late.

Episode 12: Prophecy Girl:

As the Spring Fling dance approaches, Giles discovers an ancient book foretelling the Slayers death at the hands of The Master.— While a tad abrupt, this finale serves up everything one wants, tension, conflict, and turns you don’t quite see coming. Pivotal in the series for all players, but mainly Buffy, showing that she isn’t just an invulnerable buttkicker able to save the day alone, but through banding together her and the Scoobies will take on many a Big Bad to come.

Season 2 of Buffy the Vampire Slayer is quite possibly the best season of the bunch. Season 2 is by definition, where things get darker and more complex, this was the season that really made Buffy an unpredictably smart series.

The season opens with ‘When She Was Bad’ which deals with the fallout of Buffy’s momentary death in the previous year one finale; this episode is appropriately handled and sees Buffy acting rather out of character after returning from her summer away from Sunnydale. The preceding episodes are a fun affair and help the viewer to settle back into the rhythm of the series with various episodes focusing upon certain characters.

The ‘Big Bads’ of the season appear early on and come in the form of Drusilla and Spike, the former being a rather off-her-rocker vampire and the latter a bleached, leather wearing, cocky undead Englishman! As villains they are a lot of fun and help to shape season 2 as something unique and well constructed. However, come the end of the year things are considerably shaken up in terms of ‘the Big Bads’, with the appearance of Angelus.

Willow, Xander and Giles all find themselves venturing into new territory: dating! Cordelia continues to redeem herself and becomes a fully fledged scoobygang member, whilst Buffy and Angel undergo many changes to their relationship which is mostly the driving force of the season. By the middle of the season the episodes gradually become darker and a more coherent storyarc begins to emerge, starting with the events of ‘Surprise (Part 1)’ which culminate in the emotional and incredibly shocking ‘Innocence’ (Part 2). Said episodes are some of the best in the history of the series and set in motion events that help to lead to the end of the season. The circumstances surrounding this two parter does literally change everything once established between Buffy and Angel; and brings into question their future. The continuity, witty one liners, oblique use of language does continue into this season and helps to boost the chemistry between the actors as they discuss, for example the oddness of some TV movies and sore thumbs. These subtle touches give the season a vibrancy and kooky edge; what makes Buffy such an enjoyable show is the warmth and heart it retains, mostly provided by the actors but also by the wonderfully consistent writing.

The two part finale ‘Becoming’ is well set up as a consequence of the episode ‘I Only Have Eyes For You’, which happens to be beautifully moving and tragic respectively. The complexity of the Angelus arc presented here really sets up and supports the actions that lead to the occurrences of the finale. ‘Becoming’ part 1 & 2 with all it’s flashback goodness brings about tumultuous change and throws one through the emotional wringer all the while its still surprising, sad and gut wrenching upon each rewatch. The issues dealt with this season are far more adult and dark than is the usual, and in turn it delivers a wonderfully realized arc which never fails to amaze.


This third season of Buffy the Vampire Slayer contains some of my favourite episodes from the entire run of the show and also has the fewest offbeat episodes. This year Buffy and the gang are in their final year of high school but living on the Hellmouth is never easy and in addition to the usual demons and vampires they must deal with the schemes of the Watchers Council, a new slayer and a politician after even more power.

Buffy has really found its feet with this season and I would say that it is this year that the show reaches its peak. All the regular cast members give their usual brilliant performances but the season is really stolen by the new cast members, specifically Eliza Dushku as Faith the new Slayer and Harry Groener as the eccentrically evil Mayor Wilkins, who is probably my favourite of all the Buffy villains.

It is difficult to choose favorite episodes from this season as it includes so many great ones. `Bad Candy’, `Amends’, `Earshot’ and the two part season finally `Graduation’ are all excellent episodes being both funny and enthralling but my favorite episode has to be `Lover’s Walk’ where a lovesick Spike returns to Sunnydale after breaking up with Drusilla in order to find a way to get her back. James Marsters is truly excellent in this episode and livens up the series brilliantly. Another couple of episodes of note are `The Wish’ and `Doppelgangland’ both of which involve a parallel universe where vampires have taken over and feature a vamped up Willow, brilliantly portrayed by Alyson Hannigan who seems to enjoy the role immensely. Although none of the episodes could truly be considered awful, `Gingerbread’ and `The Zeppo’ are the weakest episodes of this season and are slightly painful to watch in places.

Overall this season is truly great, with brilliant writing and a plot that never ceases to be in turns exciting, funny and touching.

With the loss of David Boreanaz and Charisma Carpenter to the spin-off show, “Angel”, there were voids to be filled in this, the first season out of high school, and Marc Blucas and Emma Caulfield suitably obliged. The fragmentation of the Scooby Gang was for many the core reason why Season Four didn’t match the heights of the previous three: nobody seemed to care enough about each other any more. With Giles out of work, Xander flitting from one deadbeat job to another, and Buffy and Willow settling in to life on campus, there was concern that the old gang would never get back together.


A big risk was taken in introducing a more sci-fi element with the arrival of a secret government demon-hunting operation. But there’s a big difference from other genre shows: the Initiative was never in control of its actions. And that’s the gist of the season: that Buffy and her traditional methods will always be superior, and that it’s through her skills and her friends that evil is defeated, not bureaucracy. Which is why there’s no big finish in episode 22 (the grand climax happens in episode 21), because the most important storyline is about the reaffirmation of friendships, demonstrated in the most bizarre way imaginable in an episode composed almost entirely of dream sequences.


There are some classics (the Emmy-nominated “Hush” was possibly the boldest piece of television attempted before “The Body” the following year). And in the final scene of the season, we get a great setting-up of what’s to come, without knowing any specific details. All in all, a season that left a few minor gripes, but which in the overall scheme of things, has continued the journey of life into adulthood. Now they’re all supposed to be grown up, but the future still holds a great deal of uncertainty, and that can only be good for the show.

Although Season 5  still has comedic moments, it also has many more serious moments. Not to spoil it for those who have not seen the series yet, two major deaths rock the Sunnydale Slayage Crew. These are excellently handled, and in no way seem like they are tying off loose ends.

The episodes are excellent. From fighting Dracula, to multiple Xanders. From a new sister, to an old foe swapping sides. This season is excellent. the first disc houses such gems as the introduction of Dawn, without any back story or any clues into why she is there. These facts are revealed slowly through the next disc, with amusing storylines for Spike, clearly an excellent addition to the principal cast. Anya also comes into her own, and becomes revels in the joys of capitalism.

Through the next disc a departure of a relatively new character, Riley, hurts Buffy tremendously, whilst the appearance of a troll lightens the mood considerably. The fourth disc includes the fun episode where the Watcher’s Council return to Sunnydale, and reveal a shocking secret about the main enemy of this series. Spike also has a choice to make, whether to fall back into the arms of his old flame, Drusilla, or to move on and persue his newest conquest, a source of exasperation for Buffy.

The fifth disc is a solemn affair, with the death of a principal cast member, who had been with Buffy from the beginning. As Buffy and her ‘Scoobies’ attempt to cope, the attacks on them by the villain of the series grow more violent and frequent, leaving a dissuaded Buffy sure that she cannot beat the villain. When his new enemy learns of an importance in the Scooby gang, and this member of the gang get captured, Buffy goes into meltdown. With the help of Willow, Buffy recovers and faces the most terrifying villain ever in the history of Buffy The Vampire Slayer, with a conclusion that is heart wrenching.


“The Gift”, the season five finale, ended with Buffy dead and buried after battling deranged fallen goddess Glory. Dying is kind of old hat for Buffy, and I don’t think I’m giving too much away by revealing that the show’s title character quickly gets over the whole death thing. Although the ensuing gang of biker demons is corny, I thought her return from the grave in the feature-length “Bargaining” hit all the right notes. Her reappearance is heartbreaking and almost horrifying, and it avoids undermining the events that concluded the previous season.

Rather than just toss her back in this mortal coil as if she’d never left, Buffy is distant and depressed, not quite the elated response her friends were expecting to see. The opening of the season offers an evenhanded blend of humor and drama, particularly the early escapades of the Troika. The all-nerd supersquad — robotics whiz Warren (Adam Busch), clumsy sorceror-lite Jonathan (Danny Strong), and summoner Andrew (Tom Lenk). They added a well-needed dose of geeky comedy to the season, which made the bitter pill of the agony Buffy and friends endure later on easier to swallow.

The darker spin the three of them eventually take also resonates more having seen several episodes worth of their giddiness at being supervillains. I also thought the aftermath of Buffy’s return, seen in “After Life”, “Flooded”, and “Life Serial”, worked well as she tried to find her place in the world (and her friend’s worlds) after being plucked from the afterlife. These episodes also manage to strike that perfect balance between humor and drama.

Another early highlight is “Tabula Rasa”, where a spell gone awry robs the Scoobies of their memories.  Of special mention from this chunk of the season, of course, is the musical episode “Once More with Feeling”. The version presented here is the original broadcast, a few minutes lengthier than your average Buffy installment. Although the concept of characters in an established drama singing and dancing for an hour screams ‘gimmick’, it’s not a standalone episode, tying in heavily to the previous episodes of the season and setting up some of what would soon follow. The songs are surprisingly good, particularly impressive considering that they were written by someone without much of a musical background.Image result for buffy once more with feeling

The season closes out with a series of strong episodes. “Hell’s Bells” features the chaos of a wedding between a human raised in a dysfunctional family and his millennia-old former vengeance demon fiancee, the aftermath of which is explored in “Entropy”.

One of the season’s best is “Normal Again”, which questions the reality of what we’ve seen for the past six seasons, and Buffy’s assault on her possibly-delusional friends and family is as chilling as anything seen up to that point on the series. The darkness pervasive throughout much of the season culminates in “Seeing Red”, which has two monstrous turning points. Its fatal closing events lead into the three-episode arc that rounds out the season. Similar to Angelus’ appearances on both Buffy and Angel, the immeasurably powerful antagonist in these final episodes tear down the main characters.

In its final season, Buffy the Vampire Slayer issued a mission statement you might not expect from a series that’s been on the air for seven years: go back to the beginning. After a foray at college and a year spent toiling away in the working world, Buffy’s going back to high school. Several years after its destruction at the hands…or giant coiled tail, whatever…of the ascended Mayor Wilkins, Sunnydale High has been rebuilt from the ground up. The Hellmouth beneath the school happens to lurk directly below the office of Principal Robin Wood (D.B. Woodside), who’s harboring some sort of dark secret that may or may not work to Buffy’s favor. Anyway, Wood continually stumbles upon Buffy as she spirits Dawn off to her first day of school as a freshman and ensuring both Summers girls make the most of the lovingly-crafted Sunnydale High set, Wood offers Buffy a job as a part-time counselor. Holed up in the bowels of Sunnydale High is Spike, who’s been driven mad by a combination of his newly-acquired soul and an entity that’s been haunting him, one that’s soon going to expand its grasp to the rest of the Scooby Gang and the world at large.

These early episodes really do capture the feel of the first few seasons of the series, a very welcome change after the grim year that came before it. This is one of the stronger opening salvos of Buffy. “Him” is played pretty much for laughs, revolving around a football player whose letter jacket makes him irresistible to the fairer sex, compelling Dawn, Buffy, Willow, and Anya to take drastic and wholly over-the-top measures to win his complete adoration.

 

Three of the season’s best episodes run back-to-back. “Same Time, Same Place” follows Willow’s return to the group, still reeling from the near-apocalyptic events of the previous year and further disheartened when she’s apparently abandoned by her friends. Buffy and company really are there for Willow, but the problem is that there are kind of two separate and distinct “there”s. The cannibalistic Gnarl is one of the most effectively creepy creatures of the show’s entire run, and his confrontation with Willow is unsettling and horrifying…and I mean that in the best possible way. “Help” quickly follows, chronicling Buffy’s quest to save the life of an awkward, introverted poet who foretells her own death.

Although I really like all of the first batch of episodes, this season has two particularly strong stand-outs. Following the excellent “Same Time, Same Place” and “Help” is “Selfless”, which features Anya returning to form as a mass-murdering vengeance demon, a decision that awes her demonic coworkers and conflicts her former friends as Buffy must make a difficult decision. The episode makes use of flashbacks from several vastly different time periods and juggles drastically different tones. We see what led young Aud to become the vengeful Anyanka in a hysterical glimpse back at her life with her wench-drenched, troll-hating brute of a husband, Olaf. There’s also a flashback to “Once More, With Feeling”, complete with a new musical number, followed by a brutal, brilliant cut to the present.

The other standout is “Conversations with Dead People”, an inventively structured episode penned by four different writers. The title is a decent enough synopsis, as a number of characters communicate in varying forms with the dearly departed. Buffy allows herself to be psychoanalyzed by a recently-risen Psych major, Dawn is haunted by a poltergeist that takes on a shockingly familiar image, Willow is delivered a message from a lost love one, Spike goes out on the town, and the remnants of last year’s nerdy Troika return to Sunnydale.

In general, season seven feels like Joss Whedon and company had a clear beginning and a clear ending. The Finale does give the show a nice ending, but is left open should the show ever return in any format.

REVIEW: TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE (2003) / THE BEGINNING

 

CAST

Jessica Biel (The A-Team)
Jonathan Tucker (Hostage)
Erica Leerhsen (Wrong Turn 2)
Mike Vogel (Bates Motel)
Eric Balfour (Skyline)
Andrew Bryniarski (Batman Returns)
R. Lee Ermey (Full Metal Jacket)

It’s August 1973 and a group of five thrill-seeking, twenty-something hippies in a Dodge camper van are heading through Texas bound for a holiday in Mexico. The group includes two loved up couples and a token nerdy guy. The scalding hot Jessica Biel plays Erin, who’s the alpha female of the friends, and spends the entire movie in a very figure hugging outfit.


The chilled out pals pick up an extremely distressed young woman at the roadside, who starts mumbling about “the bad man”‘, and then promptly commits a very bloody suicide inside the van with a powerful handgun. The shocked friends continue on down the road and end up at a derelict barn house, where they meet a very creepy looking kid named Jediah, and discover a grim collection of ugly, worn out toy dolls and mannequins. Erin and her boyfriend go exploring the surrounding environs and end up at a grubby nearby farmhouse, the infamous Hewitt residence on Route 17, which is home to a maladjusted redneck family that you wouldn’t want to meet in your wildest nightmares.


Meanwhile, the other three pals run into an extremely mean and surly traffic cop, who’s bedside manner as a law enforcer makes Dirty Harry look like Mother Theresa, and who’s idea of a police forensic investigation is to re-enact the crime in every small detail. This is a classy and extremely competent horror flick. It’s perfectly cast, well acted, cranks up the tension in the opening minutes and then never lets up. The atmospheric and chilling sound effects are especially well done, on a par with any other horror movie. The iconic, hulking serial killer Leatherface is a man mountain of maniacal mayhem, and who’s physiognomy is the stuff of nightmares – he’s comfortably one of the all-time horror genre greats. Jessica Biel is absolutely fantastic in the lead role as a headstrong and ballsy woman, who’s early shock and terror at her hellish predicament is quickly subsumed by her sheer determination to survive against all the odds.

 

CAST

Jordana Brewster (Fast & Furious)
Taylor Handley (Zerophilia)
Diora Baird (Wedding Crashers)
Matthew Bomer (Chuck)
R. Lee Ermey (Full Metal Jacket)
Lee Tergesen (Oz)
Andrew Bryniarski (Batman Returns)

The Prequel to the 2003 “Texas Chainsaw Massacre” giving us the origin of Leatherface and his twisted family. That’s all done within the first 20 minutes…then it’s just a virtual redo on the original with four likable 20-somethings being captured and tortured by Leatherface and his family. Considering it’s basically a remake of the 2003 film, it works remarkably well.

It takes place in 1969 and has two brothers (Taylor Handley and Matthew Bomer) going to enlist (after being drafted). Along are their two girlfriends (Jordana Brewster and Diora Baird). But they’re stopped by crazy Sheriff Hoyt (R. Lee Ermey) who is Leatherface’s uncle…and the “fun” begins.

Very grim and graphic with no humor and shot in muted color…just as the 2003 one. The gore is strong and disgusting (this got trimmed to get an R rating) and I can’t say I liked it…but it did it’s job. It scared me. I was cringing in my seat a few times and jumped more than once.

Another plus is all the acting is good. Brewster, Handley, Baird and Bomer are all good-looking and likable–when the violence starts you really are horrified at seeing such great characters being tortured. Ermey is on hand giving another terrifying performance as Hoyt. His character is so twisted, violent and sick that when he got a taste of his own medicine most will applause. Also there’s good old Leatherface and his chainsaw chasing everybody.