REVIEW: WATER FOR ELEPHANTS

CAST

Robert Pattinson (Twilight)
Reese Witherspoon (Wild)
Christoph Waltz (The Green Hornet)
Paul Schneider (Lars and The Real Girl)
Jim Norton (American History X)
Hal Holbrook (Lincoln)
Richard Brake (Spy)
Ken Foree (The Devils Rejects)
James Frain (Gotham)
Sam Anderson (Angel)
John Aylward (Alias)
Brad Greenquist (Pet Sematary)
Tim Guinee (Iron Man)
Ilia Volok (Power Rangers Wild Force)
Andrew Connolly (Patriot Games)

Charlie O’Brien, Circus Vargas’ owner, encounters an elderly man named Jacob Jankowski, who is separated from his nursing home group. The two strike up a conversation and Jacob reveals he had a career in the circus business and was present during one of the most infamous circus disasters of all time, equal in seriousness to the 1944 Hartford circus fire and the Hagenbeck-Wallace Circus wreck.Jankowski tells his story to O’Brien, starting in 1931 when he was a 23-year-old veterinary medicine student at Cornell. During his final exam, he is informed that his parents were killed in a car accident. His father has left huge debts, and the bank was foreclosing on Jacob’s home. Feeling there is no point in returning to school, and having no home to go to, he jumps onto a passing train where he meets a kind old man named Camel.Jacob wakes up the next morning and discovers that he jumped on the Benzini Bros. circus train. He sees a beautiful young woman named Marlena Rosenbluth, and meets August, the circus’s ringmaster, head animal trainer, and Marlena’s husband. Jacob reveals he studied veterinary science and August hires Jacob as a vet for the circus animals after Jacob tells August that Silver (a show horse) has laminitis. August instructs Jacob to fix Silver and keep him performing as long as possible. But Jacob cannot bear to see Silver’s suffering and takes it upon himself to tell Marlena and shoots Silver. August is furious with Jacob’s decision to euthanize Silver against orders. To show Jacob who is boss, he threatens to throw him off the moving train — telling him that an animal’s suffering is nothing compared to a man’s, and that Jacob must carry out all of August’s future orders if he wishes to keep his job.August eventually procures Rosie the elephant as Silver’s replacement. He invites Jacob to his car for dinner and cocktails with him and Marlena. Jacob watches the married couple flirt and dance in front of him, but it becomes clear that their relationship is complicated because August is possessive, jealous and rough with Marlena. In the next few weeks, August becomes frustrated when Rosie seems impossible to train. August is brutal with Rosie, beating her with a bullhook when she fails to follow orders. After a brutal beating that August gave to Rosie when she ran away after fleeing from the event and dropping Marlena, Jacob realizes that the elephant only understands Polish commands. After that, Rosie performs beautifully and the circus enjoys a short period of success. While working together to train Rosie, Jacob and Marlena fall in love. After August discovers this, he cruelly taunts the two. Marlena discovers that August plans to throw Jacob from the train and they run away together, hiding in a local hotel. Soon after consummating their relationship, they are ambushed by August’s henchmen who drag Marlena away and beat up Jacob.Jacob returns to the circus to find Marlena. Marlena tells Jacob that his friends Walter and Camel were thrown from the train and killed. Several circus employees have become fed up with August’s murderous cruelty and unleash their revenge by unlocking all the animals’ cages while the big top tent is jam-packed with an audience enjoying Marlena and Rosie’s performance. Jacob attempts to find Marlena in the chaos and August attacks him. When Marlena tries to stop August from beating Jacob, he turns his fury on her and chokes her, while one of August’s henchmen beats Jacob. Wade and Grady, two of Jacob’s best friends and one of the circus workers save Jacob and he sees Rosie hit August on the back of the head with an iron stake, killing him. As a result, Benzini Bros. is officially shut down, and no one is charged with releasing the animals.Back in the present, Jacob explains to O’Brien in flashbacks that he returned to Cornell and finished his degree. He and Marlena took several horses and Rosie, and got jobs with the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus. Jacob worked as a veterinarian and she continued to perform with Rosie. They married, had children and kept Rosie until her death. He took on a job as a vet at the Albany Zoo and after more children and many happy years together Marlena died. O’Brien then asks Jacob to work as the ticket taker, which Jacob agrees to.I would recommend anyone who wants to see a well-played and twisted but unique storyline to see this movie whether you read the book or not, it was one of the best movies I have seen in a while. It really is amazing story that will make you cry,mad, and laugh all at the same time.

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REVIEW: THE WHITE QUEEN

CAST

Rebecca Ferguson (Mission Impossible 5)
Max Irons (Red riding Hood)
Faye Marsay (Game of Thrones)
Aneurin Barnard (Dunkirk)
James Frain (Gotham)
Janet McTeer (Insurgent)
David Oakes (Victoria)
Eleanor Tomlinson (Jack The Giant Slayer)
Juliet Aubrey (Primeval)
Caroline Goodall (Hook)
Freya Mavor (Skins)
Elinor Crawley (Ordinary Lies)
Amanda Hale (Catastrophe)
Veerle Baetens (The Verdict)
Michael Marcus (Lucan)
Michael Maloney (The Young Victoria)
Hugh Mitchell (Nicholas Nickleby)
Rupert Young (Island at War)
Robert Pugh (Love Bite)
Rupert Graves (Fast Girls)
Andrew Gower (Outlander)
Shaun Dooley (Cuffs)
Arthur Darvill (Legends of Tomorrow)
Emily Berrington (Humans)

As a history buff I was sceptical about this series but I was also interested to see the story of these historical women who helped shape history as we know it today.  The series is based on the Cousins War series written by Phillipa Gregory, author of The Other Boleyn Girl. The Cousins War consists of five books, each focusing on a different woman who has a hand in the battle for the crown of England. The first book is The White Queen focusing on Elizabeth Woodville; the second book is The Red Queen looking at the mother of Henry Tudor, Margaret Beaufort as she looks to secure her son’s position as a future king. The Lady of the Rivers looks at the mother of Elizabeth Woodville, Jaquetta Woodville, a Burgundian Duchess who marries out of duty before marrying a lowly squire for love. The Kingmaker’s Daughter follows the daughter of Lord Warwick, Anne Neville, and her journey as she is sold as a pawn in her father’s bid for power before finally becoming the Queen of England, wife of Richard III.The series follows the story of Elizabeth Woodville, Margaret Beaufort and Anne Neville; three women who are largely forgotten in history. With its debut it has received mixed reviews; the daily mail found the inconsistencies laughable – the drainpipes in the background; the telegraph believed it left much to be desired on all fronts; however Harry Vennings reviews that “somehow the show succeeds as a historical drama” despite being “unashamedly romantic in it’s approach”.I myself was sceptical but have since jumped on the bandwagon and was hooked. It is the women who are the focus of the show as they plot to stay in power or gain power, or simply to just stay alive, and they are interesting in their own right. The one who stands out from the beginning is Jaquetta Woodville, former confidante of Margaret D’Anjou, who made her first appearance in episode 4. Jaquetta is a very shrewd woman who knows how to take care of herself; the best example is her trial in which Warwick accuses the Lady Rivers of witchcraft and she leaves the kingmaker speechless – I don’t want to spoil it for you, but it is a great scene.The character who grew on me is Anne Neville who was a sweet but naive young girl forced to grow up fast as she is married off to the Lancastrian Prince Edward and heads off to battle in the train of Margaret D’Anjou, even gaining respect from the self proclaimed “Queen Militant” who I found fascinating too. A woman in a man’s world with a husband incapable of remembering what day it is never mind ruling a kingdom; so she takes a stand to secure her son’s crown. When you think about it, would you stand back as someone steals what you believe rightfully belongs to your child? Wouldn’t you at least try to fight for their inheritance? By the end of episode five I had a great respect for the vilified “she wolf” and the kingmaker’s daughter.My least favourite is Margaret Beaufort who seems as if she has some kind of mental disorder the way she walks around talking to God. She is not very likable, but you can understand that she hasn’t had a happy life – she was only twelve when she was married and pregnant with her only child Henry. She was then forced to give him up and marry another man, but her life is devoted to her son and God and she believes that her son is the next King of England, so she becomes determined to see it come true.The series has received a lot of negative reviews, but personally I enjoyed the show. It’s not The Tudors but it isn’t meant to be and I like that it brings the women to the foreground.

REVIEW: GOTHAM – SEASON 2

CAST

Ben McKenzie (Batman: Year One)
Donal Logue (Ghost Rider)
David Mazouz (Mike & Molly)
Morena Baccarin (Firefly)
Zabryna Guevara (All Good Things)
Sean Pertwee (Dog Soldiers)
Robin Lord Taylor (Another Earth)
Erin Richards (The Quiet Ones)
Camren Bicondova (Girl House)
Corey Michael Smith (Carol)
James Frain (The Cape)
Jessica Lucas (Cult)
Chris Chalk (12 Years a Slave)
Nicholas D’Agasto (Final Destination 5)
Michael Chikilis (Fantastic Four)

RECURRING / NOTABLE GUEST CAST

Richard Kind (Stargate)
Clare Foley (Win Win)
Carol Kane (The Princess Bride)
Todd Stashwick (The Originals)
Peter Scolari (The Polar Express)
Anthony Carrigan (The Flash)
Cameron Monaghan (The Giver)
Dustin Ybarra (Hop)
Drew Powell (Straw Dogs)
Maria Thayer (Hitch)
Natalie Alyn Lind (The Goldbergs)
Michelle Veintimilla (Limitless TV)
Ron Rifkin (Alias)
Michelle Gomez (Highlander: The Raven)
Tommy Flanagan (Sin City)
Lori Petty (Tank Girl)
BD Wong (Jurassic World)
Tonya Pinkins (Enchanted)
Nathan Darrow (House of Cards)
Michael Bowen (Lost)
Melinda Clarke (Spawn)
Paul Reubens (Batman Returns)
Ned Bellamy (Termiantor: TSCC)
Jada Pinkett Smith (Collateral)

The origin story continues on Gotham and the stakes are higher than ever, as Super Villains more ambitious and depraved are introduced, and a shift of alliances shakes up the fight for power in Gotham City. In season two, Detective Jim Gordon (Ben McKenzie) and the ethically questionable veteran Detective Harvey Bullock (Donal Logue) remain at the forefront of the fight against crime in this dangerously corrupt city. While confronting Gotham’s most notorious criminals, however, Gordon’s moral compass begins to waver, but he is taken under the wing of Nathaniel Barnes (Michael Chiklis), a law-and-order zealot who is unafraid of making enemies. At the same time, Gordon continues his quest to gain the trust of the young Bruce Wayne (David Mazouz), who is on a clear path towards the man he is destined to become, after discovering his father’s deepest secrets, with the help of his trusted butler and mentor, Alfred Pennyworth (Sean Pertwee), and newfound ally at Wayne Enterprises, Lucius Fox (Chris Chalk).

In the epic turf war that occurred at the conclusion of season one, Oswald Cobblepot aka The Penguin (Robin Lord Taylor) battled his way into power over Gotham’s underworld. Heading into season two, Gotham will continue to follow the evolving stories of the city’s most malevolent villains: Edward Nygma/The Riddler (Cory Michael Smith), whose transformation from Gotham PD’s forensic expert to psychologically unhinged villain continues; Selina Kyle/the future Catwoman (Camren Bicondova), whose hard-knock existence propels her into a life of crime; and the increasingly unstable Barbara Kean (Erin Richards), who is out for Gordon and his girlfriend, Dr. Leslie Thompkins (Morena Baccarin). Also hoping to leave his mark on the city is Theo Galavan (James Frain), the billionaire industrialist, who appears to be the savior for whom Gotham has been waiting. Theo, along with his sister and lead enforcer, Tabitha Galavan aka Tigress (Jessica Lucas), keep their centuries-old vendetta hidden, as they manipulate their way to power.

Here in Season Two, there is far less dependence on self-contained episodes and more emphasis on the development of long running and serialised story arcs. In my opinion, this is better than Season One.
This remains a highly entertaining show.

12 DAYS OF CHRISTMAS REVIEW: FLASHFORWARD – A561984

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A561984
MAIN CAST
Joseph Fiennes (Killing Me Softly)
John Cho (Sleepy Hollow)
Jack Davenport (Pirates of The Caribbean)
Zachary Knighton (Happy Endings)
Peyton List (The Flash)
Dominic Monaghan (Lost)
Brian F. O’Byrne (Million Dollar Baby)
Courtney B. Vance (Terminator Genisys)
Sonya Walger (Terminator: TSCC)
Christine Woods (The Walking Dead)
Ryan Wynott (The Cape)
GUEST CAST
Shohreh Aghdashloo (X-Men 3)
Michael Massee (The Crow)
James Frain (Gotham)
Ivar Brogger (Andromeda)
Michael Ealy (Underworld 4)
Gabrielle Union (Ugly Betty)
Nhadra Udaya is in deep thought in her office with the same view through the windows as that seen from the balcony in “White to Play” while she ponders her version of the Mosaic Investigation wall. In direct violation of Stan Wedeck’s orders, Mark Benford and Demetri Noh fly to Hong Kong to find the woman who called Demetri with the warning that he would be murdered on March 15, 2010. Upon landing on December 15, 2009, they are met by Marshall Vogel, who introduces himself as a member of the legal attaché’s office in Hong Kong. He tells Mark he should answer his ringing telephone call because it is Wedeck calling. Mark begins introductions and Vogel interrupts, displaying his foreknowledge of the reason for their journey and reminding them that they have come to a country, China, that has been labeled as being responsible for the Global Blackout by the United States Government. Vogel advises Mark and Demetri to return to Los Angeles while they still have jobs. When Mark’s phone rings with a second call from Wedeck, he answers it and is promptly reprimanded for flying to Hong Kong; Mark attempts to justify his actions and terminates the call by telling Stan that he had lied to Demetri and told him that Stan had changed his mind about letting them make the trip. He explains to Demetri that if things go badly, Demetri will need to be carrying a weapon.
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The agents begin with linguists information that the mysterious caller is in Hong Kong, is from Tehran, and is London educated; they add to that Demetri’s observation that her voice sounds like that of a smoker. With the coerced assistance of a man in a restaurant, they identify the restaurant where the woman routinely has a late supper. They confront the woman, who is eating her meal in the company of four armed men. Nhadra sends one of her men on an unidentified errand. She reluctantly reveals that Mark will be the one to murder Demetri in March using his service weapon, A SIG-Sauer model P226 with the serial number A561984. The situation flies out of control when Mark takes Nhadra into custody as a material witness, an act which is questionable on foreign soil. Marshall Vogel shows up and defuses the situation by telling Nhadra, addressing her by her first name, to have her men lower their weapons. When Mark and Demetri do the same, they are forcefully arrested by the Hong Kong police.  Vogel escorts Mark and Demetri to the airport. When Mark wants to know why Vogel is keeping them away from Nhadra, Vogel responds that they do not need to know what she knows. When Vogel again refers to the legal attaché’s office, Mark challenges his statement. Vogel admits to an affiliation with the Central Intelligence Agency. Mark’s phone rings again. When he answers, Wedeck tells him that he had seen the video of the confrontation with the police outside the restaurant. He orders Mark to surrender his badge and weapon to Demetri and, after hanging up, Mark complies. While Mark and Demetri are waiting for their flight, Mark assures Demetri that he will not shoot him. Meanwhile we find Nhadra in her office talking with D. Gibbons who entered Hong Kong against her advice.
Lloyd and his associates hold a press conference. Gordon Myhill introduces himself as the director of the National Linear Accelerator Project and tells the audience that they have information about the events of October 6, 2009. While he is making his introductory remarks, Simon Campos cautions Lloyd Simcoe that he is to stay within the talking points the three had discussed. Myhill introduced Lloyd and Simon and Lloyd as the associate directors of the Plasma-Wakefield Program. Lloyd speaks first and discloses that they were experimenting in the production of energy levels that existed just after the Big Bang and they conducted such an experiment at exactly “1100 hours” on October 6. The crowd erupts with questions, but Lloyd is able to calm them until he adds that the scientists believe that their experiment caused the GBO. Oscar Obregon asks if the scientists are taking responsibility for results of the GBO. Lloyd becomes flustered and Simon steps in to say that the results were totally unforeseeable and to remind the audience that scientists conduct experiments all the time without being able to predict the results. Myhill returns to the podium to attempt to conclude the conference and announce that NLAP would be releasing an official statement. Lloyd interrupts his colleague and tries to offer an apology for the GBO, adding that he lost his own wife and that he would give anything to have her back. An outraged woman grabs a security officer’s revolver and attempts to shoot Lloyd. Security officers subdue the woman and usher Lloyd and Simon off the stage. Simon accuses Lloyd of losing his objectivity. Lloyd responds that he was trying to be definitive. Simon rejects Lloyd’s argument and tells him that if they can not agree on Simon’s terms, then they are at war. In  a meeting with Stan Wedeck, Simon says that he does not believe his group caused the blackout. When Stan points out that Simon said he did, Simon replies that it was not his choice and that Lloyd Simcoe tends to be emotional. Simon tells Wedeck that he does not know who is responsible, but that he can “divine” the answer if allowed access to the Mosaic files, adding that he has a security clearance. Wedeck rejects Simon’s offer until Simon points out that, if the cause of the GBO is believed to be known, the funding for Wedeck’s investigation will evaporate. Wedeck offers to meet again the following morning and provided some information to Campos. In the next meeting, the two are joined by Janis Hawk, who shows images to Simon of Ganwar Region that have supposedly been sterilized to mask the location; Simon immediately identifies the area as Somalia by recognizing the terrain. Simon asks that Janis zoom in on a tower and pronounces that he designed the tower and identifies it as a specialized pulsed laser for a plasma afterburner; he adds that the concept should win a Nobel Prize in about two years. He compliments the agents on the Government’s modelling software, explaining that the tower looks real. Campos is taken aback when Janis tells him that it is real. He explains that scientists are still running simulations. Janis tells him that the picture was taken in 1991, a year before he thought of the idea. Simon has trouble believing that anyone else could have come up with his idea and points out that people like him thrive on fame and immortality. He ponders the idea that the person who thought of the existing tower might be both brilliant and reclusive. Wedeck shows Simon a composite drawing of D. Gibbons; he explains that Gibbons has been hacking into high-tech facilities and plays chess. Simon denies knowing Gibbons, but says he will help the FBI find the fugitive because he wants revenge.
Bryce Varley, thinking he is being surveilled, becomes nervous while Janis Hawk is waiting for Lloyd Simcoe. Janis assures him that he is not the subject of her interest. He tells her that he had heard about her being in the hospital and asks how she is doing. She responds that she is doing well but not well enough to have a baby. She explains that she was having a prenatal sonogram during her Flash. Janis continues that she may just give up the idea. She tells him that she was four months pregnant during the Flash. Bryce asks if she still wants to have a baby. When she says she does, he tells her not to give up. Janis sees Lloyd Simcoe and excuses herself to talk to him. Later, Janis returns and asks for Bryce’s advice on how to proceed. When he starts prescribing a prenatal vitamin, Janis tells him that she is gay and needs to get pregnant without involvement with a man. Bryce tells her about the Zoey Andata makes what she claims is her last attempt to speak with Demetri Noh’s parents; she leaves a message on their telephone telling them that she had seen them at her wedding, assuring them of her love for Demetri and begging them to help the two of them be together. As she finishes, the call, she encounters Paul Becker, a senior partner of her law firm, who asks if she will be attending the memorial for Joyce that evening, even though she did not know Joyce well. Zoey responds that Joyce was friendly to her and she would be there.  That evening, Zoey is in the group attending the memorial. As the priest reads from Revelation 21:2, Zoey’s attention is drawn to a white rose; she relives a portion of her Flash in which she drops a white rose onto the sand of the beach. Realizing that she has mistaken Demetri’s memorial service for their wedding, she begins to sob and runs from the room.
The next day she rings the bell at Demetri’s parents’ home. Mrs. Noh admits her and Zoe explains that she has finally understood her Flash. She asks why the Nohs did not tell Demetri and her what they had seen in their Flashes, Mrs. Noh explains that not talking about it made ther truth less real. She goes on to tell Zoey that they had difficulties with the idea of Zoey marrying their son until they realized from their Flashes how much she loved Demetri. They now wish that the future was Zoey and Demetri marrying instead of Demetri dying. Zoey tells Mrs. Noh that they are going to change the future.
After the announcement, Lloyd returns top Angeles Hospital to make arrangements to transfer his son Dylan to another facility. He rejects an offer from Janis for protection from the U. S. Government and encounters a very unsympathetic Mr. Dunkirk, who offers Southland University Hospital as the only option. Lloyd says that Southland less secure than Angeles. Dunkirk becomes critical of Lloyd and suggests his has some guilt for his involvement with the GBO. Lloyd responds that he needs to find a secure facility for his son. Olivia intervenes and suggests Travers, a private children’s hospital. Dunkirk continues to be unhelpful, stating that he doubts they have any beds available. Olivia responds that she will make the arrangements. Lloyd admits to Olivia that he can not expect very many people to want to help him in the future. Olivia is successful and brings transfer papers to Lloyd. She asks him if he is sure that there will not be another blackout and he responds that there will not be as long as he and his colleagues do not repeat their experiment. She tells him that she thinks he is brave to have come forward and they discuss the line between bravery and stupidity. Olivia and Lloyd talk about his attending Harvard University and her not attending because she followed Mark to Los Angeles. They discover that, if she had attended, she would have lived next door to him in the building his deceased wife did live in. Lloyd explains the many-worlds interpretation of quantum mechanics, in which they may have been neighbors and met in another universe. After a pregnant pause they agree that that is not the world in which they live. After dark, Olivia comes by while Dylan is being wheeled out to what appears to be an ambulance. One of the operators, John, introduces himself and his partner, Reed. When Dylan becomes agitated, Olivia points out that he is autistic. John responds that they have had training. When Dylan becomes agitated a second time, the situation spirals out of control. Olivia calls a security guard. Reed draws a weapon and shoots the guard, then threatens Olivia. Lloyd stands in front of Olivia, but the operators force him into their vehicle and drive away, leaving Olivia and a screaming Dylan behind.
Flashforward was a great series but suffered from a long break in the middle. The Christmas episode was where the break happens so fans had to wait for 3 months to find out what happened next. As a Christmas episode its hard to watch as a stand-a-lone episode but is still enjoyable to look back on a short lived series.

12 DAYS OF CHRISTMAS REVIEW: DECEPTION (aka The Reindeer Games)

CAST

Ben Affleck (Batman V Superman)
Charlize Theron (Prometheus)
Gary Sinise (The Green Mile)
Dennis Farina (Get Shorty)
Donal Logue (Ghost Rider)
James Frain (Gotham)
Danny Trejo (Machete)
Isaac hayes (South Park)
Clarence Williams III (The Butler)
Ashton Kutcher (Dude, Wheres My Car?)

Nick Cassidy and Rudy Duncan are cellmates in prison two days away from release. Nick has been corresponding with a young woman named Ashley Mercer, who is waiting for him on the outside. After Nick takes a shiv in a prison fight and dies, Rudy, who just wants to have a cup of hot chocolate after he reunites with his family, takes his place and lets the beautiful Ashley think he is the one who has been writing her. Gabriel, the leader of a gang who assaults Rudy and Ashley in their cabin, and is Ashley’s brother and tells “Nick” that the gang, with Nick’s help, will rob the casino he used to work at. Rudy reveals he is not Nick, but Ashley continues to confirm he is and that she wrote to him knowing Gabriel was going to kidnap and force Rudy to assist in the robbery. Rudy, while furious with Ashley, is reluctantly forced to go along with his ruse.

Using the information from the real Nick’s prison cell stories, Rudy is able to devise a robbery plan and informs Gabriel that the biggest loot is hidden inside a safe in the manager’s office (the “PowWow” safe). On the night of the robbery, Rudy breaks out of his holding in order to find a way to arm himself as he knows Gabriel will kill him after the robbery. He stumbles upon Gabriel and Ashley and learns that they are lovers and partners in crime.

The group robs the casino, each dressed as Santa Claus. Rudy, forced to take part in the robbery, hides the fact that he knows Ashley’s secret. Shots are fired and security guards and Santas are shot. Ashley drives into the Casino and lets Nick/Rudy know she is in on the heist. All meeting in the manager’s office, Gabriel introduces Rudy to the casino manager as Nick but the manager recognizes that he isn’t Nick and Rudy confesses. Gabriel, furious at Rudy’s deception, spares him for a moment when he demands to know where the “PowWow” safe is. When the manager opens the safe, he grabs guns from inside and kills one of the robbers as the rest flee. Rudy kills another one of the robbers and is then grabbed by Gabriel and Ashley who tie him up in their 18-wheeler truck.

They plan to drive him off the edge of a cliff in a burning vehicle with a little of the money so that officials will guess all had been burned. After accidentally revealing too much information during an argument with Rudy, Ashley shoots and kills the now suspicious Gabriel. Shortly after, Nick appears, having staged his death at the prison. It is revealed that Ashley’s real name is Millie Bobeck and Rudy learns that the two had collaborated to rob the casino using Rudy and Gabriel and his gang. Ashley had known the entire time who Rudy truly was. Nick also informs Rudy that the prison stories were part of a set-up.

After they tie Rudy to the steering wheel to drive off the cliff, he produces a knife he had gotten earlier, cuts his bindings, hot wires the car, sets it to reverse and crushes Nick. With Ashley firing at him, he rams the fiery car into her and dives out as the car and Ashley go over the cliff. Nick tries to convince Rudy that they can share the money but Rudy locks him in the truck and also sends it over the cliff. Rudy picks up the stolen cash and begins distributing it in mailboxes he comes across on the way home to his family, and eats a Christmas dinner with them. The film closes with Rudy smiling.

Though it is a basic Action Thriller, there are many subdivisions, that will leave fans of any genre satisfied. Don’t know why they changed the name for the UK.

REVIEW: AGENT CARTER – SEASON 1

MAIN CAST
Hayley Atwell (Cinderella)
James D’Arcy (Hitchcock)
Chad Michael Murray (House of Wax)
Enver Gjokaj (Dollhouse)
Shea Whigham (American Hustle)
RECURRING AND NOTABLE GUEST CAST
Dominic Cooper (Dracula Untold)
Lyndsy Fonseca (Kick-Ass)
James Frain (Gotham)
James Landry Hebert (Looper)
Meagen Fay (Species 4)
Ray Wise (Robocop)
Ralph Garman (Ted)
Bridget Regan (Beauty and the Beast 2012)
Jack Conley (Angel)
Neal McDonough (Arrow)
Leonard Roberts (Heroes)
Rick Peters (Veronica Mars)
Ralph Brown (Alien 3)
Toby Jones (The Hunger Games)
Considering it was a 1940s period piece starring an already-established, likable character and was created by the guys who wrote Captain America: The Winter Soldier, you’d think people would have been more excited going into Marvel’s Agent Carter. Not that I didn’t see plenty of excitement as well, mind you, but I also saw a lot of cynicism – stuff about how it was a “prequel” and thus “wouldn’t matter” and also about how because Peggy and the other characters didn’t have superpowers, “Who cares?”But Agent Carter didn’t need to succeed by setting up something to pay off in another film it just needed to be an entertaining, involving show. And boy, was it.
Yes, it only got better as it went along, but Agent Carter — which came from executive producers/showrunners Michele Fazekas & Tara Butters — was a lot of fun from the start. Hayley Atwell had already established how great she is as the character and easily slid into the lead role, and pairing her with Edwin Jarvis (James D’Arcy) was an inspired move. Atwell and D’Arcy had terrific, non-romantic, chemistry together, playing Peggy and Jarvis as an instantly lovable, quirky duo and making the scenes where Jarvis accompanied Peggy on missions really pop – even before Peggy got to beat up bad guys.
With only eight episodes, Agent Carter moved quickly, in a satisfying manner. Bridget Regan was introduced as Peggy’s neighbor, Dottie, and just a week later – with fans already speculating on what her character could really be – she’s killing a guy, leading into a really awesome reveal that Agent Carter was introducing the Black Widow program into the mix.

Agent Carter wasn’t tied into the modern Marvel movies in a direct way, but there were a ton of cool connections throughout, beyond Peggy’s important history with Captain America. Howard Stark (Dominic Cooper), while only appearing in three episodes, was crucial to the story, and we got an intriguing look into his psyche in the season finale.
Dum Dum Dugan and the Howling Commandos showed up, we got to see more than one Black Widow at work and then there was Dr. Ivchenko, AKA Fr. Fennhoff – who is also known as the Marvel villain Dr. Faustus and who turned out to be tied into the Winter Soldier by the end, via a cool Marvel-movie type final scene.
In general, all the characters were really clicked. It was surprising to see Lyndsy Fonseca play a non-action role here, but she made Angie incredibly likable and charismatic and the scenes between her and Peggy were very sweet, showing Peggy making a far more normal connection than her life usually allows. Early on, I was concerned by the portrayal of the men at the SSR. Except for Enver Gjokaj’s sympathetic Daniel Sousa, they all felt pretty one note. Yes, it was important and fitting, given the era the show was set in, to show just how dismissive the guys in the office, in general, were of Peggy, unable to see just how skilled she was and the contributions she could bring. But the first couple of episodes had Thompson (Chad Michael Murray), Dooley (Shea Wigwam) and Krzeminski (Kyle Bornheimer) all feeling pretty similar and one-note, in a way that could have quickly become grating. Fortunately, the most annoying of this bunch, Krzeminski, was soon dead and Dooley and Thompson became much more nuanced as the season continued.
Dooley doing his own investigating and seeing that things didn’t ad up as  Howard Stark being the culprit was a great touch, letting us see why this guy was in charge in the first place. And the mission in Russia in “The Iron Ceiling”(a standout episode) gave us a ton of insight into Thompson and who he really was versus the image he projected. The season culminated in a very satisfying manner, with Dooley’s noble sacrifice, the reason behind Fennhoff’s anger at Howard revealed and a big cathartic release for Peggy, who got to beat Dottie in combat and finally really and truly put Steve Rogers to rest. This latter part was especially handled well and reinforced something that had been occurring to me all season – that it was especially silly to dismiss Agent Carter as “a prequel” when, if anything, it worked as a pretty direct sequel to Captain America: The First Avenger, simply following what happened next for Peggy (and, to a lesser extent, Howard) after that film’s events, instead of Steve.

REVIEW: SLEEPY HOLLOW – SEASON 1 & 2

Image result for SLEEPY HOLLOW LOGO

MAIN CAST

Tom Mison (One Day)
Nicole Beharie (American Violet)
Orlando Jones (Evolution)
Katia Winter (Arena)
Lyndie Greenwood (Nikita)
John Noble (Fringe)

RECURRING / NOTABLE GUEST CAST

John Cho (American Pie)
Clancy Brown (Highlander)
Nicholas Gonzalez (The Flash)
Monique Ganderton (Mutant X)
Carsten Norgaard (The Three Musketeers)
James Frain (Gotham)
Craig Parker (Reign)
Neil Jackson (Blade: The Series)
Erin Cahill (Power Rangers Time Force)
Jill Marie Jones (Ash Vs Evil Dead)
Laura Spencer (Bones)
Sakina Jaffrey (House of Cards)
Matt Barr (7 Below)
Zach Appelman (Beaut yand The Beast)
Cynthia Stevenson (Dead Like Me)
Aunjanue Ellis (The Help)
Michelle Trachtenberg (Buffy: The Vampire Slayer)
Jaime Murray (The Finder)
Steven Weber (Izombie)
Shelby Steel (Powers)

To say that I was skeptical about Sleepy Hollow as a series would be an understatement. After all, how could Ichabod Crane vs. the Headless Horseman get dragged out far enough to fill all those hours and remain watchable? But in the most delightful surprise of the fall season, Sleepy Hollow quickly proved to be more than up to the task. With a perfectly matched pair of leads, the show hit the ground running and never looked back.
From their first scene together Nicole Beharie and Tom Mison displayed an easy chemistry that only grew stronger as the weeks went by, aided immensely by sharp writing that understood these two were the most essential ingredient for Sleepy Hollow’s success. In the first half of the season the small supporting cast suffered in comparison, as it took time for characters like Jenny and Frank to be brought into the fold and have us get to know them. But by the finale all the time spent with Abbie and Ichabod paid off beautifully in scenes where the emotions ran deep without having to spell everything out to the audience. By the time they had to dive into Purgatory together and eventually part ways all the decisions they made were believable since they were character-based and not simply the writers forcing them in directions for the sake of the plot.
 This attention to character was particularly impressive, since the show trades in some wild plots: Headless Horseman, George Washington’s secret war, Crane’s witch wife in Purgatory, etc. The creative team behind Sleepy Hollow seems to have an instinctive understanding that if the audience doesn’t care about these people, it doesn’t matter how cool it might be to see the Horseman with an automatic weapon. That being said, it is really cool to see the Headless Horseman blazing away, and when he showed up it was always a show-stopper. The season also had more than its share of other great effects as well, whether it was whatever was happening to poor Andy (head knocked backwards, cocooned and turned into a slithery bald dude) or some of Moloch’s freaky, fast-moving minions.
With all of the insanity going on it would have been easy to fall into the trap of letting the humor undercut the stakes, but Sleepy Hollow’s very difficult tone was maintained throughout the season. Oddly enough for a show about a British Revolutionary War soldier who wakes up in 2013 and partners up with an overqualified police lieutenant to fight a war against evil, the key to maintaining that tone has been restraint. Nothing overstayed its welcome on Sleepy Hollow. The Headless Horseman was a remarkably intimidating physical presence who immediately gave a jolt to any episode he rode into – he’s an ace in the hole that could have become all too familiar very quickly. But aside from the brief time that our heroes imprisoned him we rarely got a glimpse of him. His absence, sometimes for weeks, made his appearances carry far more weight and dread than if we had gotten a weekly dose of him riding around the forest.
The same goes for the show’s keen sense of humor. The comedic opportunities presented by Crane waking up in the 21st century are a rich vein, one that they’ve managed to tap each week without being repetitive or overwhelming. Instead it came in bite-sized portions while informing the character – Mison’s bemused reactions from everything from OnStar agents to dry cleaning were wonderfully understated and telling as Ichabod became more accustomed to life in the modern age. By the end of the season he was complaining about his apps failing to load in the middle of the forest, which was both hysterical and showed how much he had changed.
This attention to detail when it comes to Abbie and Ichabod was marvelous, but it didn’t leave much room for anybody else. It took awhile, but Frank and Jenny were eventually brought up to speed with their troubled histories and joined the team. Unfortunately Katrina remained in limbo in every sense – Ichabod longed for her (it’s a credit to Mison that this was always believable) but she never registered as anything other than a plot device/exposition delivery system. And while the Horseman and Moloch were scary, larger-than-life enemies they couldn’t do much more than occasionally show up and threaten everybody. There were few real, flesh-and-blood villains here and when there were it was usually because somebody has been possessed or otherwise coerced. The Hessians were a potentially far-reaching group that could provide all kinds of problems for our heroes, but they were largely forgotten in the stretch run of the season- hopefully they’ll return next year. Happily, the last 15 minutes or so of the finale signaled a change in all this, as Katrina was freed ( and a fantastic bad guy was introduced… …or was unmasked, to be more accurate. John Noble dropped by enough for me to stop questioning what secrets he might have – he had simply become loveable Henry, always welcome and able to help our heroes out of a jam. So when he finally revealed himself to be Ichabod’s son Jeremy and the Second friggin’ Horseman, it landed like a thunderclap. It was the rarest of things in today’s television landscape: a well-earned plot twist. It also doesn’t hurt that Noble seems to be able to do anything.
In addition to Noble, the guest star MVPs were Clancy Brown and John Cho. While their characters couldn’t have been more different, both had parallels in their relationship to Abbie. Brown was wonderful in his role as Abbie’s mentor and every time he showed up, whether it was a flashback or archival footage or a dream, his loss was felt. His quick exit was both disappointing and perfect, since his absence leaves Abbie without a safety net, personally and professionally. And Andy was the polar opposite: a weak-willed servant of Moloch who never stopped pining for her.

Of course it all comes down to Abbie and Ichabod in the end. Their relationship was so carefully constructed by the writers and actors over the course of the year that by the end they were able to have whole conversations with just a couple of looks. This can be one of the craziest shows on TV and it’s such a blast when it is, and yet when I look back on the season as a whole I keep coming back to their quiet scenes in the cabin, teasing each other about plastic or finding hidden messages from George Washington. All of this has added up to a thoroughly entertaining show which is, after all, the whole point. Sleepy Hollow’s freshman season set the bar high with the expected scares, unexpected humor, and impressive lead performances. And a Headless Horseman wielding automatic weapons, which is always nice.
Making the balance between humor, horror and action look easy, season 1 of Sleepy Hollow set the bar high. An expanded season 2 (jumping to 18 episodes from 13) more than met that standard in the first half, throttling though the high-stakes plot of Moloch trying to escape Purgatory and the Witnesses gaining more allies. And while the series struggled to find itself after that story came to end—likely due to the network-mandated order to become less serialized—the show always remained worthwhile and very enjoyable due to the solid characters and relationships that had been established.
 This season felt inspired from the start, with the terrific premiere episode “This is War” displaying sly storytelling as Abbie and Ichabod struggled to escape Purgatory. The later introduction of Benjamin Franklin (in flashbacks), more revelations about the Mills family history and the remarkable episodes leading up to the midseason finale all made for a rollicking first half. Despite meandering with the back half standalone episodes, the finale more than made up for any aimlessness by giving us what we watch for in the first place: Abbie and Ichabod, BFFs.
With Abbie and Ichabod already firmly entrenched as partners in the war against evil, the show was able to widen its focus to other characters. The best results were with Jenny, who became better-rounded and an integral part of the team. But Abraham/Headless benefitted from more attention as well, as we got to know his motivations. Even the risky addition of Hawley paid off better than expected, and by the time he got his send-off episode his connection to Jenny and the Witnesses felt earned and real. Irving also wound up being a bit shortchanged, as the show had written him into the corner of the psych ward for murdering cops. When he was tricked into signing over his soul to Henry it looked like a rich storyline in the making but nothing much ever came of it and everything involving him seemed made up on the fly, almost as an afterthought (for instance, the cloudy reason behind him being released but not exonerated—I’ll admit I glided past that as a viewer, but the more you pay attention to his story over the season, the shakier it gets). Despite this I was glad to see him get some terrific moments, both big and small—his sacrifice (which wound up being temporary) in the midseason finale and his intimate scenes with Jenny towards the end.
 John Noble continued to be a tremendous presence whenever he appeared. The reveal at the end of season 1 that he was the Crane’s son gave him plenty to dig into this year and Noble made Henry’s bitterness and hurt come through with intensity. Once he dispatched Moloch, though, the show didn’t seem to know what to do with him and his death wound up being pretty anticlimactic, even it did serve to set off the season endgame for the marvelous “Tempus Fugit”. More problematic was the character of Katrina. She simply never worked. Not as a damsel in distress, not as the third wheel and not as an abruptly-turned villain. It certainly wasn’t for lack of trying, as the writers tried to integrate her into Team Witness several times with lukewarm results. I didn’t buy her sudden shift from ally to enemy, but it was a quick and painless way to give her character a good exit in service of the story. The trouble was that Beharie and Mison had established such rare buddy chemistry that Ichabod finally getting his lost love out of Purgatory threw a wrench into it. Even at her best, as in “Pittura Infamante”, it wasn’t enough to match any given scene between Abbie and Ichabod. That pretty much left the show with few options; either relegate her to the sidelines or kill her off.
But the biggest stumbling block this season came down from on high: FOX wanted to series to become less serialized, and Sleepy Hollow tried hard to accommodate the order. The result was an awkward stop-and-start second half, with several scenes of Abbie and Ichabod wondering out loud what their purpose was now that Moloch had been defeated. I had no problem with the death of Moloch, since he wasn’t much of a bad guy, but the absence of a Big Bad was immediately felt. Knowing full well that this might have been it for the series, the show rallied and came up with a very satisfying ending that conclusively wrapped up loose ends while leaving the door wide open for a possible return. Sleepy Hollow’s best hours have been the ones dealing with ongoing stories while the self-contained episodes were much more hit-and-miss, but this is a creative team that’s proven it knows how to put together a great show I’m hopeful that they get a chance to find that balance because when this series is in a groove it’s a joy to watch. Despite any problems Sleepy Hollow ran into, though, Nicole Beharie and Tom Mison were the rocks at the center the show. Their extraordinary chemistry has been the single greatest asset of an awfully good series from the start, able to shift gracefully from easygoing humor to partners in lockstep to dear friends dealing with life and death stakes in a single hour. They’re a microcosm of the show itself, one that at its best could deliver laughs and thrills side by side with terrific characters we cared about throughout.
Despite difficulty adjusting to less-serialized storytelling in the back half, season 2 of Sleepy Hollow started and ended strong enough to measure up well with its stellar first year.