REVIEW: BLOOD TIES

CAST

Marion Cotillard (The Dark Knight Rises)
Billy Crudup (Watchmen)
Clive Owen (Sin City)
Mila Kunis (Black Swan)
Zoe Saldana (Avatar)
Matthias Schoenaerts (The Danish Girl)
James Caan (Elf)
Noah Emmerich (Last Action Hero)
Domenick Lombardozzi (Public Enemies)
Jamie Hector (Heroes)
Griffin Dunne (War Machine)

After serving twelve years for murder (for killing a rapist and murderer he caught in the act), Chris (Clive Owen) is released from prison in 1974. His ex-wife, Monica (Marion Cotillard), is a drug-addicted prostitute. She has a son and a daughter. Chris tries to go straight with his new girlfriend Natalie (Mila Kunis) but is betrayed and sabotaged in his pursuit of a legitimate business venture. Returning to his criminal ways puts him in direct conflict with his brother Frank (Billy Crudup) who happens to be a New York City cop. Their sister, Marie (Lili Taylor), and their sick father, Leon (James Caan), want Chris and Frank to just get along with each other.When arresting Anthony Scarfo (Matthias Schoenaerts) at his house Frank happens to meet his ex-girlfriend Vanessa (Zoe Saldana) again. Though Vanessa is now married to Anthony and has a daughter by him, Frank and Vanessa get back together again anyway, and she decides to divorce Anthony. But in the meantime Frank becomes conflicted over allowing his brother Chris to flee the scene of a felony murder. After Anthony is released from police custody his first act is to seek revenge against Frank for destroying his home life. Chris uncovers the plot and must decide between saving his own skin and stopping Anthony in his tracks.Blood Ties may not be a breakthrough movie in itself, but it is powerful cinema nonetheless. Requires some patience as the plot builds up.

 

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REVIEW: HEROES: HARD KNOX

CAST
Jamie Hector (Max Payne)
Jim Titus (Finding Forrester)
Luke Massy (Thor)
Greg Grunberg (Alias)
18 months ago. Cop Matt Parkman(Grunberg, well-meaning, not too self-assured. See, he *can* get a big role without being picked out of J.J.’s much-referenced rolodex) tries to talk some sense into a young guy he’s picked up a number of times. So he won’t keep knocking over houses. …is…is that why they call him…? Or is it because he is the one who… Knox(Hector, intimidating)? Yes, this is about the dull, bland “scary” villain. …well, the one who, inexplicably, got a lot of screen-time, of them. At least Flint connected to… anyway. His power is to become physically stronger via the fear of other people, and this is of course where he realizes this. This has some pretty decent tension.
This  aired as webisodes before the show itself went off the air, and has since been put on the season 3 set of it. This one was placed as deleted scenes, since if there’s one thing the show did, it was take footage and bits and cut and/or move them around, vastly changing the character dynamics. This comes to 8 minutes, and 4 parts. Adds more background to the Knox character and shows where he came from in connection within the series.

REVIEW: MAX PAYNE

CAST

Mark Wahlberg (Ted)
Mila Kunis (That 70s Show)
Beau Bridges (My Name Is Earl)
Ludacris (2 Fast 2 Furious)
Chris O’ Donnell (Batman & Robin)
Donal Logue (Gotham)
Amaury Nolasco (Prison Break)
Kate Burton (127 Hours)
Olga Kurylenko (Oblivion)
Jamie Hector (Heroes)
Brea Grant (Halloween II)

Detective Max Payne (Mark Wahlberg) is a three-year veteran in the Cold Case Unit of the New York City Police Department (NYPD). He is consumed with investigating and finding the murderer of his wife Michelle and their infant child Rose. Max’s snitch, Trevor, supplies information that leads Max to three drug addicts in an empty train station. They attempt to rob Max in a bathroom; instead, Max interrogates one of them about his family’s murder, with no results. While one of the drug addicts runs away he is attacked by shadowy, winged man-creatures and is hit by a train. At Trevor’s apartment, Max meets Natasha Sax (Olga Kurylenko), who gets into an argument with her sister, Mona (Mila Kunis). When Natasha storms off, Max searches for her in the back where partiers are using the drug “Valkyr”. Max is silently confronted by Jack Lupino (Amaury Nolasco), but Natasha takes Max back to the party. Max notices Natasha’s tattoos and wants information about them, so he invites her back to his apartment. However, when Natasha tries to seduce Max, she makes insensitive comments about his wife, and Max kicks her out. Natasha leaves through an alley, and is attacked by the winged shadow creatures.The next morning Natasha is found dead, and Max’s wallet is discovered at the crime scene. Max becomes the prime suspect in the case, with his old partner, Alex Balder (Donal Logue), taking part in the investigation. Alex notices the tattoo on Natasha’s arm is similar to one found in the case file of Max’s wife. Alex tries to contact Max, but getting no response, he quickly leaves for Max’s apartment. When Max arrives home, he finds the door ajar and his place a mess. Alex lies dead inside, and as Max investigates, he is knocked unconscious from behind.Max wakes up in a hospital with his trusted friend BB Hensley (Beau Bridges), his father’s former partner in the NYPD, at his bedside. Hensley is now head of security of the pharmaceutical company Aesir Corporation. Max leaves the hospital early to pay his respects to Alex, but is kicked out by Alex’s upset wife Christa (Nelly Furtado). While being questioned by Lieutenant Jim Bravura (Chris ‘Ludacris’ Bridges) of Internal Affairs, Max storms out and searches Alex’s desk, finding Owen Green’s name in Natasha’s case file. Later, Max is confronted by Mona, who assumes Max killed her sister, but Max persuades her to help him find the actual killer. Max and Mona find Green (Joel Gordon) but cannot save him, as Owen was hallucinating and as a result falls out of a building to his death.Max and Mona visit Natasha’s tattoo parlor. The tattoo artist tells them Natasha’s tattoo represents the wings of a Valkyrie, which, in Norse mythology, are creatures that decide the fate of warriors in battle. Max then goes to take some of Michelle’s belongings out of storage and ends up discovering that documents from when she worked at the Aesir Corporation have gone missing. Max meets BB at a diner and demands the name of Michelle’s old supervisor.Max interrogates the supervisor, Jason Colvin (Chris O’Donnell), in his office at Aesir and learns that Michelle was associated with a military contract to create super-soldiers using the highly addictive drug Valkyr. Only a few subjects showed positive results; the rest saw hallucinations and eventually went insane, so the project was terminated. Jason agrees to testify, as long as Max protects him. When a skeptical Max asks Jason who he is supposed to be protecting him from, Jason answers: “The man that killed your wife!” Max agrees, and starts to escort Jason out of his office, but as they leave, armed Aesir security forces appear and kill Jason.

Max escapes with the evidence and shows the video to Mona. It explains the Valkyr project; Lupino is a former Marine and his testimony explains that, while taking the drug, Lupino feels invincible, with no side effects (unlike most other test subjects). Max goes to Lupino’s hideout, Ragna Rok. While fighting Lupino, Max’s defeat appears to be certain until BB arrives and kills Lupino. Max gets knocked unconscious after the brawl as he is leaving the hideout. BB explains that he is selling Valkyr and admits to killing Michelle because she inadvertently came across incriminating documents. BB plans to drown Max in the river, with a weight secured to his ankle and Valkyr in his pocket, hoping to make it look like a drug-induced suicide. But before he can be tied to the weight, Max escapes by jumping into the icy river. He swims to shore and, to prevent hypothermia, consumes both vials of Valkyr, transforming himself into a super-soldier with visions of Valkyries. Max follows BB back to the Aesir building. Assisted by Mona, he kills many Aesir security employees. Max eventually confronts BB on the building’s helipad and kills him. His vengeance complete, he falls to his knees, ready to die. He sees a vision of his daughter and wife, who tells him “Not yet, Max.” He comes to, as the sun cuts through the clouds and a SWAT team surrounds him. In a post-credits scene, Max meets with Mona at a bar, where she shows him a newspaper article about Aesir’s soaring stock price, with a picture of CEO Nicole Horne, presumably their next target.

All in all, I think it was beautifully done. It set out to capture Max Payne from every angle and did just that. It took ample time to make fanatics of the game go “holy crap, that scene was straight from the game”, but yet also write in some originality of it’s own that worked well within the plot. As far as some of the characters, I thought every one of them played their part to near-perfection. Mila Kunis actually did surprisingly well and it was fun to see her play the femme fatale badass. Chris O’ Donnell had a very short role, but I thought he played it amazingly. Not a perfect movie, but definitely a good one.

REVIEW: LIE TO ME – SEASON 1-3

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MAIN CAST

Tim Roth (The Incredible Hulk)
Kelli Williams (Army Wives)
Brendan Hines (Terminator: TSCC)
Monica Raymond (Chicago Fire)
Hayley McFarland (The Conjuring)
Mekhi Phifer (Divergent)

RECURRING / NOTABLE GUEST CAST

Jake Thoams (A.I.)
Tim Guinee (Iron Man)
Nolan Gerard Funk (Arrow)
David Anders (Izombie)
Rance Howard (A Beautiful Mind)
Anthony Ruivivar (Scream: The Series)
Isabella Hoffman (Legends of Tomorrow)
Sasha Roiz (Caprica)
Kristen Ariza (Startup)
Mekenna Melvin (ChucK)
Sean Patrick Thomas (Save The Last Dance)
Deidre Lovejpy (Bones)
Carlos Lacamara (Heroes Reborn)
Megan Follows (Reign)
Christine Adams (Agents of SHIELD)
Ajay Mehta (Anger Management)
Shea Whigham (Agent Carter)
Cheryl White (Major Crimes)
Virginia Williams (Fairly Legal)
Pej Vahdat (Bones)
Jennifer Beals (Flashdance)
Kevin Tighe (Lost)
Currie Graham (Stargate: The Ark of Truth)
D.B. Woodside (Buffy)
Jason Beghe (Californication)
Clea DuVall (The Faculty)
Mageina Tovah (Spider-Man 2 & 3)
Melissa Tang (Mom)
Jonathan Banks (The Lizzie Borden Chronicles)
Erika Christensen (Flightplan)
John Pyper-Ferguson (Caprica)
James Marsters (Buffy)
Gretchen Egolf (Roswell)
Marc Blucas (Red State)
David Kaufman (Superman: TAS)
Karina Logue (Bates Motel)
Sean O’Bryan (The Princess Diaries)
Garret Dillahunt (Terminator: TSCC)
Lennie James (The Walking Dead)
Alicia Coppola (Another World)
Roy Werner (Weeds)
Jason Gedrick (Beauty and The Beast)
April Grace (Lost)
Todd Stashwick (The Originals)
Ricky Jay (Flashforward)
Miguel Ferrer (Robocop)
Felicia Day (Dr. Horrible)
Jason Dohring (Veronica Mars)
Ashley Johsnon (Dollhouse)
Howard Hesseman (That 70s Show)
Mark Harelik (The Big Bang Theory)
Melissa George (Triangle)
Max Greenfield (Veronica Mars)
Bruce Weitz (General Hospital)
Enver Gjokaj (Agent Carter)
Alona Tal (Cult)
Khary Payton (Teen Titans)
Michael Beach (The Abyss)
Yara Shahidi (Ugly Betty)
Alyssa Diaz (The Vampire Diaries)
Kenneth Mitchell (Odyssey 5)
Richard Burgi (Chuck)
Conor O’Farrell (Stir of Echoes)
Catherine Dent (Termiantor: TSCC)
Kenny Johnson (Cold Case)
Erick Avari (Stargate)
Carmen Argenziano (Stargate SG.1)
Natalie Dreyfuss (The Originals)
Tiffany Hines (Bones)
Haley Ramm (X-Men 3)
Monique Gabriela Curnen (The Dark Knight)
Jennifer Marsala (Hart of Dixie)
Shawn Doyle (Reign)
Jamie Hector (Heroes)
Audrey Marie Anderson (Arrow)
Brent Sexton (Birds of Prey)
Katherine LaNasa (The Campaign)
Daniela Bobadilla (Anger Management)
Tricia Helfer (Battlestar Galactica)
Kathleen Gati (Arrow)
Noel Fisher (Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles)
Maury Sterling (The A-Team)
Jessica Parker Kennedy (The Secret Circle)
Brandon Jones (Pretty Little Liars)
Jim Beaver (Mike & Molly)
Barry Shabaka Henley (Heroes)
John Diehl (Stargate)
Keith Robinson (Power Rangers Lightspeed Rescue)
Michael B. Jordan (Fantastic four)
Frankie Faison (The Silence of The Lambs)
Paula Malcomson (The Hunger Games)
Victoria Pratt (Mutant X)
Adam Godley (Powers)
Dylan Minnette (Goosebumps)
Annabeth Gish (Flashforward)
Alexandra Lydon (Mockingbird)
Ashton Holmes (A History of Violence)

We have all told a lie at one point in our lives. While our the lies we have told may be small, one needs to look no further than his or her local news to see that not all lies are harmless. Sometimes though lies seem like a last resort and getting the truth isn’t as simple as a lie detector. Dr. Cal Lightman (Tim Roth) would be the first to tell you a lie detector is garbage and he illustrates this point in an early episode in the series.  A lie detector establishes a baseline for truthful statements and then measures body factors like pulse rate, skin conductivity and temperature; any changes from the baseline readings indicates a lie. The problem is as Dr. Lightman shows in his trademark sardonic fashion, do something as simple as introduce an attractive woman in the room and the most honest man will instantly be a liar to the machine. His solution? Himself.


Lie to Me throws viewers into the world of human lie detector, Cal Lightman. His lie detecting skills rely on universal facial expressions and how a well-trained individual can detect a liar from reading “micro expressions.” Lightman heads up the private deception detection firm The Lightman Group and throughout the course of Lie to Me’s thirteen freshman episodes, Lightman and his associates Dr. Gillian Foster, Eli Loker, and new protégé Ria Torres will put their finely trained skills to the test as their group is hired from clients ranging from billionaires worried about potential gold diggers to law enforcement in stopping a copycat serial rapist. As absurd as the notion of Lightman being able to read facial expressions to determine whether a person is lying is, prepare to be blown away, as it’s all based on the very real and groundbreaking research of Dr. Paul Ekman.


Dr. Ekman pioneered the study of micro expressions and universal emotion and serves as a creative inspiration for Roth’s character. The creators have kept Ekman in the loop throughout the creative process and Fox allows Ekman to blog about what is factual and what is exaggerated on the show’s website, which earns this new series bonus points for giving viewers something to think about once the episode ends.

Once Roth is able to establish himself in the role of Lightman and we get bits and pieces of his human side (his relationship with Dr. Foster as well as his teenage daughter). Fortunately, the formula of the show does allow for Lightman’s other colleagues to hold their own as there is almost always a secondary case assigned to the pair not working with Lightman on the primary case. This allows for character bonds to be formed, in some cases from scratch as Monica Raymund’s character, Ria Torres, is a new addition to the team and provides some great dramatic tension from time to time as her ability is natural, which often draws the ire and jealousy of her brilliant boss.


Finally, the most unique positive aspect of Lie to Me comes from viewers being able to play along at home. As we learn little explanations of micro expressions from Lightman, in later episodes it’s fun to try and spot character motivations before they are revealed to us by one of the team.

Back for a second longer season, this show is every bit the show that I so enjoyed in the first season and even a little bit more. As with all shows, the first season suffers from a few growing pains. Actors need to settle into their roles, writers need to discover their characters’ true personalities and basically the show needs to settle. Thats why the second season is often a bit better than the first and Lie to me is no exception to that. The show was smoother, the acting more comfortable and the character relationships had chance to really blossom in a believable manner.

In this second season Cal seems to be much more lively, a great deal more fun to watch. HIs mock nervous energy, dry sense of humour and heart of gold is a more likeable. The other key element I liked in this series was the advancement of the relationships. There’s not any major romantic steps forward in this season, but Cal’s relationship with his daughter is a real high point of the show, as are his relationships with Foster and the rest of the gang. Every character seems to enjoy real chemistry with the others and that’s rare in any show, yet alone a procedural drama.

Overall this is another strong season. The show is funny when it needs to be, fast paced and action packed when thats called for, and finally it is interesting enough to more than keep your attention with every episode. Quite frankly, by the end of this season I would normally be hooked for the long hall. Shame then that there’s only one season left to watch

I was aware going in that this was going to be the final season of the show however it quickly becomes apparent that show runners weren’t similarly informed . The series really didn’t have the feel of a final season and indeed the show seemed to be picking up pace as it approached its final episode with new characters getting screen time and relationships moving forward with the usual pace of a procedural show finding its feet.

Because of this not only did the season not feel like a final season, the finale lacked any kind of closure whatsoever. It’s a shame as this show deserved more than just to fizzle out in what felt like a mid-season break rather than a complete end.

All I can say to finish is that once again a good show has been cancelled early while so many bad shows remain, which is a real shame. However, don’t let the poor ending to this show put you off.