REVIEW: THE HOBBIT: AN UNEXPECTED JOURNEY – EXTENDED EDITION

CAST
Martin Freeman (Captain American: Civil War)
Ian McKellen (X-Men)
Richard Armitage (Hannibal)
Ken Stott (Spivs)
Graham McTavish (King Arthur)
William Kircher (Xena)
James Nesbitt (Monroe)
Stephen Hunter (All Saints)
Dean O’ Gorman (Young Hercules)
Aidan Turner (Being Human)
John Callen (Power Rangers Jungle Fury)
Peter Hambleton (A Twist In The Tale)
Jed Brophy (Heavenly Creatures)
Mark Hadlow (King Kong 2005)
Adam Brown (Pirates of The Caribbean 5)
Ian Holm (Lord of The Rings)
Elijah Wood (Sin City)
Hugo Weaving (The Matrix)
Cate Blanchett (Hanna)
Christopher Lee (Star Wars – Episode II)
Andy Serkis (Avengers: Age of Ultron)
Sylvester McCoy (Doctor Who)
Barry Humphries (The Howling III)
Jeffrey Thomas (Spartacus: Gods of The Arena)
Lee Pace (Pushing Daises)
Manu Bennett (Arrow)
Conan Stevens (Game of Thrones)
Benedict Cumberbatch (Atonement)
Jarred Blakiston (Power Rangers Dino Charge)
 The release of the three Lord of the Rings Extended Editions were something of a revelation a decade or so ago, particularly for J.R.R. Tolkien fans that wanted to immerse themselves even further in the cinematic landscape of Middle-earth. The nature of the LOTR novels dictated that the film adaptations would be packed to the brim with characters and locations while still excluding a wealth of material that couldn’t possibly be included in the movies, so introducing more material made for a fuller experience.
Peter Jackson and company have taken a similar approach with The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey Extended Edition Blu-ray release, but the new cut of the film doesn’t feel like the definitive version that the LOTR extended cuts did. Instead, a movie that is already stretched too thin simply becomes longer, feeling like an indulgent director’s cut rather than a noteworthy superior cut.
All of that being said, An Unexpected Journey Extended as a Blu-ray release is still a worthwhile purchase for fans of the movie or the universe. The real selling point is the continuation of the Appendices, which even pick up the numbering from the LOTR Extended Editions so that this set holds Appendices 7 and 8. Spread across two different discs, the documentary material is just as rewarding to watch as the LOTR Appendices were, spanning about nine hours of in-depth production footage and interviews. The Appendices cover all aspects of building Tolkien’s world, from returning to the original LOTR sets to casting the new characters to developing the culture of the Dwarves to the score and even the early involvement of initial director Guillermo del Toro.
For fans of Middle-earth or just the process of making a film, these Appendices stand as the most thorough documentation of blockbuster movie-making in recent memory. But perhaps the most engaging part of the behind-the-scenes footage is the depiction of the friendships and bonds forged in the trenches of making a movie of this stature. For such a large scale production, seeing these relationships blossom in this footage is inspiring. The only downside to the Appendices is that unless you opt for the “Play All” option from the beginning, each segment will kick you back to the main menu after it ends rather than just continuing on from where you begin.
 The commentary track from Peter Jackson and Philippa Boyens is insightful and entertaining, even if a lot of the same content is covered in the Appendices at various points. Still, their rapport was amusing enough to keep me engaged throughout the length of the movie. The other special feature included on the movie disc is the “New Zealand: Home of Middle-earth” featurette that’s a holdover from the initial Blu-ray release of the movie.

The first Hobbit Extended Edition feels bloated as a movie, but the bountiful supplemental content and absolutely stunning audio/visual presentation

Advertisements

REVIEW: THE HOBBIT 1,2 & 3

 

CAST

Martin Freeman (Captain American: Civil War)
Ian McKellen (X-Men)
Richard Armitage (Hannibal)
Ken Stott (Spivs)
Graham McTavish (King Arthur)
William Kircher (Xena)
James Nesbitt (Monroe)
Stephen Hunter (All Saints)
Dean O’ Gorman (Young Hercules)
Aidan Turner (Being Human)
John Callen (Power Rangers Jungle Fury)
Peter Hambleton (A Twist In The Tale)
Jed Brophy (Heavenly Creatures)
Mark Hadlow (King Kong 2005)
Adam Brown (Pirates of The Caribbean 5)
Ian Holm (Lord of The Rings)
Elijah Wood (Sin City)
Hugo Weaving (The Matrix)
Cate Blanchett (Hanna)
Christopher Lee (Star Wars – Episode II)
Andy Serkis (Avengers: Age of Ultron)
Sylvester McCoy (Doctor Who)
Barry Humphries (The Howling III)
Jeffrey Thomas (Spartacus: Gods of The Arena)
Lee Pace (Pushing Daises)
Manu Bennett (Arrow)
Conan Stevens (Game of Thrones)
Benedict Cumberbatch (Atonement)
Jarred Blakiston (Power Rangers Dino Charge)

The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey is Peter Jackson’s return to the land of middle earth, and it’s another epic adventure that is sure to delight moviegoers of all ages. The story of The Hobbit takes place before The Lord of the Rings. It connects some of the dots to Jackson’s earlier trilogy and it’s once again an adaption of the beloved writing of J.R.R. Tolkien as brought to cinematic life. This is one journey you are absolutely going to want to make because this is one of the most exciting motion pictures released in the fantasy genre since this film adventure began with The Lord of the Rings. The story takes place before the events that unfold in The Lord of the Rings. Things start to unfold in flashback style through the storytelling of a much older Bilbo Baggins (Ian Holm), reflecting upon his earlier adventures as he reminiscences with Frodo. We learn about how a powerful dragon named Smaug destroyed much of the land where Dwarfs lived, and claimed their Dwarf Kingdom, leaving the dwarfs without a place to call home. Flash forward and onto the beginning encounter between young Bilbo (Martin Freeman) and Gandalf the Grey (Ian McKellan) who informs the merry hobbit that he’ll be going on an adventure and that he needs to prepare. Before the evening is even over with, Bilbo is joined at his quiet home with the presence of thirteen dwarves, including the warrior leader Thorin (Richard Armitage). The company is quick to make themselves at home, feasting and celebrating, and all before Bilbo learns of their journey to reclaim the Dwarf kingdom known as Erebor. Reluctantly at first, Bilbo eventually joins the ranks of the team as their “thief”  and journeys with them on an adventure he never expected in the first place. Gandalf saw something in him that he couldn’t even see for himself.

As the perilous journey continues, they face great danger against Trolls, Orcs, Goblins, and other obstacles on their way to Erebor. What no one expects is that Bilbo will accidentally stumble upon a small golden ring, and that there would be a chance encounter between Bilbo and a creature named Gollum. The rest of the history of Middle Earth waits from here. There was so much anticipation for this film that it is nearly unparalleled in the history of film. It sounds like an exaggeration to state that there was that much hope and anticipation surrounding this film, but the fan-base surrounding this production is unlike anything else out there. The fan base is so dedicated and enthralled in the works of Tolkien and in director Jackson’s vision for bringing these stories to life. There is a lot of dedication from the fans and from those who are involved with making the films happen.


How many big-budget films are given a prequel treatment that is massively enticing to loyal fans and the masses at large? The only film to compare it to  is that of Star Wars’s prequel The Phantom Menace. Unfortunately, we know the results of that prequel film and series was disappointing for many fans. So the question soon centers upon whether or not fans felt the same way about The Hobbit on film. Luckily, the comparisons can end there, because while some viewers may quibble over sentiments that express disappointment that The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey isn’t exactly on the same precise level of filmmaking found in The Lord of the Rings trilogy it’s clear this film isn’t underwhelming, even if for some it failed to live up to the built-up anticipation.

The Hobbit is also a revolutionary film that changes the game of filmmaking. This is the first production of films to be filmed with 48fps (frames per second) technology. The entire idea behind it was to make these films take full advantage of 3D technology so as to remove the effects of motion-blur commonly found and to increase the overall resolution and clarity. It wasn’t something the studio had in mind. This was all a part of Jackson’s vision for how to impact the future of filmmaking. Theaters projecting The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey and future installments had to upgrade their theater equipment just to project these films in the best format possible and that still isn’t realistic as a possibility for many theaters. Yet consider the fact that this is the first film ever produced with 48fps. And it was all because Jackson wanted to do something even greater; something audiences hadn’t even had the opportunity to experience before.

The industry standard of 24fps won’t disappear anytime soon (especially considering the higher costs associated with the technology of 48fps cameras) but at least it seems Jackson wasn’t all alone in wanting to advance the filmmaking game as James Cameron has already announced plans to film his next motion-picture with the same 48fps frame-rate. This is really quite the accomplishment. Almost everyone involved with The Lord of the Rings films creation in prominent roles came back to work with Peter Jackson in making The Hobbit films. This is perhaps one of the most notable elements of the entire production. Howard Shore has crafted another score that is just essential to the backbone of the film. Although it is highly enjoyable it is also a bit repetitive compared to earlier outings, with the greatest accomplishment in this entire outing being the stellar Misty Mountains song. Director of photography Andrew Lesnie is also back to being brilliant as the official photographer of Middle Earth and New Zealand.

Speaking of returning individuals, not only does Andy Serkis return to reprise his legendary performance of Gollum but he receives a promotion to second unit director. He continues to prove that he deserves a special Academy Award for outstanding acting in an uncomfortable outfit and suit thingymagig. Of course, he’s also brilliant all around and a real asset to these films (and now apparently in several ways). While Jackson also keeps things interesting for the adults in the audience  he clearly seems to keep in mind that the story needed to be a more jubilant one and the results are the funniest and most simply enjoyable film in the series to date. It’s the kind of film you could simply put on and get lost within for a few joyful hours. The whole family can share in enjoying this adventure story. The journey continues with an unlikely team of heroes that have set out to reclaim Erebor, their homeland, from the all-powerful Smaug (Benedict Cumberbatch). Bilbo Baggins (Martin Freeman) is the hobbit that fits the role of the thief to steal from the living dragon. Little does the rest of his team know that he’s in possession of the mysterious and magical ring that he took from Gollum. The leader of their team, Gandalf the Grey (Ian McKellen) goes off course in order to fight the very darkness that threatens the world. They soon realize that they will need the help from every race, and more, if they ever hope to defeat the great darkness that will soon overtake all of the lands.

 

 

CAST

Martin Freeman (Captain American: Civil War)
Ian McKellen (X-Men)
Richard Armitage (Hannibal)
Ken Stott (Spivs)
Graham McTavish (King Arthur)
William Kircher (Xena)
James Nesbitt (Monroe)
Stephen Hunter (All Saints)
Dean O’ Gorman (Young Hercules)
Aidan Turner (Being Human)
John Callen (Power Rangers Jungle Fury)
Peter Hambleton (A Twist In The Tale)
Jed Brophy (Heavenly Creatures)
Mark Hadlow (King Kong 2005)
Adam Brown (Pirates of The Caribbean 5)
Hugo Weaving (The Matrix)
Cate Blanchett (Hanna)
Sylvester McCoy (Doctor Who)
Lee Pace (Pushing Daises)
Orlando Bloom (Elizabethtown)
Evangeline Lilly (Ant-Man)
Stephen Fry (Bones)
Luke Evans (Dracula Untold)
Manu Bennett (Arrow)
Benedict Cumberbatch (Atonement)
Ryan Gage (The Musketeers)

The tales are still unravelling and a lot of the characters are still telling their backstories. However, Peter Jackson and co. don’t allow this picture to go without any action. The orcs continue to follow the protagonists from one place to the next, with the intention of killing each one of them. As this danger comes upon each village, audiences are introduced to a batch of insanely entertaining action sequences. One of the most impressive happening down the rapids of a fast-moving stream. Even through the more subtle scenes, The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug has a much better sense of pacing that keeps it moving. Gandalf explores numerous environments, as he ventures the darkness of the curses that threaten the entire world. This team of writers don’t need to have constant battles in order to keep their audiences engaged. While some of the dialogue is intentionally cheesy, the majority of it holds its own fairly well. As expected, the film is humorous when it wants to be. There are a lot of gags against the stereotypes of dwarves that will surely gain some laughs from moviegoers. This works extremely well in bringing a change of tone to the picture every now and then. While the team continues to fight towards the mountain in which Smaug is underneath, they encounter a wide variety of different people and creatures. It’s all a matter of being able to tell the difference between friend and foe. Of course, a lot goes wrong along the way.

Despite having Smaug’s name in the title, he’s the antagonist held for the third act of the feature. This dangerous dragon makes for a meaty portion of the running time, as Bilbo attempts to sneak around the beat’s chamber without being detected. Once the group is faced with the task of fighting off the dragon, they’re forced to draw deep inside themselves in order to find the bravery and courage needed to at least put up a fight. There’s plenty of running around and fighting here, but Smaug gets quite a bit of time to speak with Bilbo before things start spinning out of control. Not only is the dragon threatening in size, appearance, and name, but is actually rather witty in his dialogue. This makes for a great final act that pulls everything together.

 

CAST

Martin Freeman (Captain American: Civil War)
Ian McKellen (X-Men)
Richard Armitage (Hannibal)
Ken Stott (Spivs)
Graham McTavish (King Arthur)
William Kircher (Xena)
James Nesbitt (Monroe)
Stephen Hunter (All Saints)
Dean O’ Gorman (Young Hercules)
Christopher Lee (Lord of The Rings)
Aidan Turner (Being Human)
John Callen (Power Rangers Jungle Fury)
Peter Hambleton (A Twist In The Tale)
Jed Brophy (Heavenly Creatures)
Mark Hadlow (King Kong 2005)
Adam Brown (Pirates of The Caribbean 5)
Ian Holm (Lord of The Rings)
Hugo Weaving (The Matrix)
Cate Blanchett (Hanna)
Sylvester McCoy (Doctor Who)
Lee Pace (Pushing Daises)
Orlando Bloom (Elizabethtown)
Evangeline Lilly (Ant-Man)
Stephen Fry (Bones)
Luke Evans (Dracula Untold)
Manu Bennett (Arrow)
Benedict Cumberbatch (Atonement)
Ryan Gage (The Musketeers)

The Battle of the Five Armies proves to be an accurate title for the last entry in the series. This entry picks up directly where The Desolation of Smaug left off with the impending doom of Laketown because of the approaching dragon Smaug. The people of the Laketown struggle during their confrontation with Smaug and try to defeat the dragon. It is ultimately up to the heroic Bard (Luke Evans) to try and stop Smaug from obliterating everything in the path and save Laketown. Thranduil (Lee Pace) now seeks the sacred jewels of his people and arrives with the elves to get them back from the dwarf kingdom. The humans of Laketown seek shelter and gold so they can rebuild their town. The dwarves, having been without their home for so long, unite and fight to protect the reclaimed mountain kingdom. Increasing chaos ensues as the orcs arrive and bring with them bats bred for war and goblins. The threat of the rise of Sauron (the Necromancer) looms in the background.

As the story progresses, it becomes clear a war is brewing in Middle Earth between the dwarves, the elves, the orcs (under the separate commands of Azog and Bolg), and the men of Laketown (who are fighting alongside Bard). Gandalf (Ian McKellen) must try and prevent the battle that looms but is faced with escaping the grasp of the necromancer with the help of Galadriel (Cate Blanchett). Upon arriving outside of the dwarf kingdom before the battle begins, Gandalf tries uniting the men, dwarves, and elves as he senses the impending war approaching with the orcs and wants the armies strengths combined so they can defeat the orcs. Bilbo Baggins (Martin Freeman) also tries to unite the divided armies of men, dwarfs, and elves. Legolas (Orlando Bloom) and Tauriel (Evangeline Lilly) continue to be an aid to the dwarfs as needed and are thrust directly into the ensuing battle.

Dwarf leader Thorin (Richard Armitage) has become obsessed with finding the Arkenstone: the heart of the mountain. It is kept by Bilbo Baggins as he dislikes the way that power and greed has overtaken Thorin’s mind. Bilbo tries to remind Thorin of his important duties to those in need. Thorin, blinded by gold and the rage of his past, has to overcome his demons to fight as a hero once more before the war has ended. Bilbo, a true friend to Thorin, remains by his side as he faces a inner struggle to regain his sanity and to fight for what is right.

Following An Unexpected Journey and The Desolation of Smaug, The Battle of the Five Armies is easily the most action-packed of the three films. The entire film serves to act as a concluding act to the series. It concludes the story that was established in the first Hobbit film and brings additional closure to the entire six-film saga as it creates a bridge between series. With great adventure, action, and dramatic closure, The Battle of the Five Armies is another excellent experience in the cinematic land of Middle Earth.  The performances are impressive across the board in this film. Martin Freeman serves as a sort of anchor to the proceedings with his lovable performance as Bilbo.  Richard Armitage brings dramatic weight to the character of Thorin with his remarkable performance. As always, the great Ian McKellen makes Gandalf one of the series most beloved characters. Rightfully so. Evangeline Lilly does a superb job in the role of Tauriel. She brings her best to the part and makes an excellent action-hero. It’s a lot of fun to see Orlando Bloom bringing the character of Legolas back. Cate Blanchett is as good as always and Luke Evans brings something uniquely special to the film with his role as Bard. These performances mesh together remarkably well and help the film to succeed during both moments of spectacle and dramatic events occurring between the characters.

 

 

REVIEW: XENA: WARRIOR PRINCESS – SEASON 1-6

Logo Xena Warrior Princess by XENA-96

MAIN CAST

Lucy Lawless (Ash Vs Evil Dead)
Renee O’ Connor (Boogeyman 2)

NBC Says The XENA: WARRIOR PRINCESS Reboot is Happening

RECURRING / NOTABLE GUEST CAST

Jay Laga’ala (Home and Away)
Darien Takle (The Ugly)
Stephen Hall (Get Ace)
Willa O’Neill (The Price of Milk)
Jeffrey Thomas (The Hobbit)
Nathaniel Lees (Power Rangers Jungle Fury)
Bruce Hopkins (Power Rangers Ninja Storm)
Simon Prast (Filthy rich)
Latham Gaines (Power Rangers Dino Thunder)
Paul Norell (Power Rangers SPD)
Bobby Hosea (Independance Day)
Stephen Tozer (Young Hercules)
Iain Rea (Shortland Street)
Kevin Smith (Jubilee)
Kevin Sorbo (Julia X)
Michael Hurst (Bitch Slap)
Christopher Graham (Power Rangers Mystic Force)
Kieren Hutchison (Cleopatra 2525)
Erik Thomson (All Saints)
Danielle Cormack (Wentworth Prison)
Alison Bruce (Young Hercules)
Mark Ferguson (Power Rangers Mystic force)
Kevin J. Wilson (Pictures)
Galyn Gorg (Robocop 2)
Scott Garrison (Swamp Thing: The Series)
Cameron Rhodes (Deathgasm)
Dean O’ Gorman (The Hobbit)
David Weatherley (Power Rangers Operation Overdrive)
Peter Daube (Traffic Island)
Jeremy Roberts (The Mask)
Jason Hoyte (Power Rangers RPM)
Bruce Campbell (The Evil Dead)
Tim Thomerson (Trancers)
Karl Urban (Red)
Tom Atkins (Halloween 3)
Peter McCauley (The Locals)
Robert Trebor (Universal Soldier)
Ted Raimi (Ash Vs Evil Dead)
Hudson Leick (Tru Calling)
David Taylor (Rain)
Mark Ferguson (Power Rangers Operation Overdrive)
Paul Gittins (Power Rangers Jungle Fury)
Todd Rippon (King Kong)
Antony Starr (Outrageous Fortune)
Anthony Ray Parker (The Matrix)
Peter Vere-Jones (Bad Taste)
Simone Kessell (San andreas)
John Sumner (Power Rangers Dino Charge)
Melinda Clarke (Gotham)
Murray Keane (Power Rangers RPM)
Alison Wall (Funny Business)
Craig Parker (Reign)
Alexandra Tydings (Suncahser)
Craig Walsh-Wrightson (Spartacus)
Jeremy Callaghan (The Great Raid)
John D’Aquino (3rd rock from The Sun)
Rachel Blakely (The Lost World)
Charles mesure (V)
Tony Todd (Chuck)
George Henare (The Dead Lands)
Marton Csokas (XXX)
Meighan Desmond (When Love Comes)
Jennifer Ward-Lealand (Full Frontal)
Grant McFarland (Power Rangers Ninja Storm)
Jacquelien Kim (Star Trek: Generations)
Daniel Sing (A Soldier’s Sweetheart)
Gina Torres (Firefly)
Megan Nicol (Power Rangers Ninja Storm)
Amy Morrison (Jack of All Trades)
Shiri Appleby (Jack of All Trades)
Patrick Fabian (Veronica Mars)
Stig Eldred (Dick Tracy)
Katrina Browne (Power Rangers Ninja Storm)
Angela Marie Dotchin (Jack of All Trades)
Jodie Rimmer (Young Hercules)
Victoria Pratt (Mutant X)
Kate Elliott (Power Rangers Samurai)
Sheeri Rappaport (Little Witches)
Claire Stansfield (The Flash 90s)
Kathryn Morris (Cold Case)
Olivia Tennet (Power Rangers RPM)
Timothy Omundson (Human Target)
Mark Hadlow (The Hobbit)
David Franklin (Farscape)
Jennifer Sky (Cleopatra 2525)
John Leigh (Power Rangers Mystic Force)
David de Lautour (Power Rangers Jungle Fury)
Jay Ryan (Beauty and The Beast)
Antonio Te Maioha (Spartacus)
Jenya Lano (Mutant X)
Mfundo Morrison (Vet)
Marie Matiko (Date Movie)
Anthony Wong (Haywire)
George Cheung (Starsky & Hutch)
Rose McIver (Izombie)
James Gaylyn (Power Rangers RPM)
Geoff Dolan (Jack of All Trades)
Stephen Lovatt (Cleoaptra 2525)
Musetta Vander (Stargate SG.1)
Claudia Black (Farscape)
Morgan Reese Fairhead (Power Rangers Dino Thunder)
Peta Rutter (Young Hercules)
Selma Blair (Hellboy)
Manu Bennett (Arrow)
Miriama Smith (Filthy Rich)
Josephine Davison (Power Rangers SPD)
Paris Jefferson (The Counselor)
Jed Brophy (The Hobbit)
Adrienne Wilkinson (Renegades)
William Gregory Lee (Dark Angel)
Joel Tobeck (Ash Vs Evil Dead)
Tsianina Joelson (Bring it On)
Sela Apera (Crooked Earth)
Zeus Mendoza (Port Charles)
Tandi Wright (Black Sheep)
Michelle Langstone (Power Rangers SPD)
Gina Varela (Sione’s Wedding)
Owen Black (Maddigans Quest)
Ian Harcourt (Power Rangers Megaforce)
Brittney Powell (That Thing You Do)
Renato Bartolomei (The Cult)
Alexander Petersons (Redheads)
Luanne Gordon (King Kong)
Alexis Arquette (Pulp Fiction)
Li Ming Hu (Power Rangers RPM)
Elizabeth Hawthorne (Filthy rich)
Katrina Devine (Power Rangers Ninja Storm)
Michelle Ang (Triple 9)
Mike Edward (Filthy Rich)

Most people have some kind of guilty pleasure they watch on television. I have several. One of my past guilty pleasures was Xena: Warrior Princess (as well as the show that spawned it-Hercules). Seeing a bunch of attractive gals running around, showing ample amounts of cleavage and leg while they went through their paces seemed like such harmless fun.  The show developed quite a fanbase over the years and it all began with a few appearances on Kevin Sorbo’s old show, Hercules: The Legendary Journeys. In Hercules, Xena played a female warrior who torn through the countryside killing and pillaging as she and her armies went. Hercules stopped her and eventually showed her a different path and the Xena series started off with that premise (hey, it was a cute idea for a spin off and eventually surpassed the parent show in ratings).

Season 1 begun with Xena meeting Gabrielle whilst trying to atone for her past, the rest of the season saw several highlights such as the introduction of Ares (Kevin Smith), Autolycus (Bruce Campbell) and Callisto (Hudson Leick), with each episode the shy got better and better.

The show really kicked into overdrive with Season2, the biggest highlight was Julius Caeser (Karl Urban) who once had a relationship with Xena and betrayed her. Gabrielle became an Amazon Queen and we saw Xena’s arch nemesis Callisto return with a vengeance. It was with Season 2 where the show surpassed Hercules and became the huge it is today.

Season 3 saw the the beginning of The Dahak storyline a story that would dart backwards and forward between the two shows and eventually conclude on Hercules (Season 5). This season also saw what fans refer to as the Rift story where gabrielle and Xena relationship was tested to breaking point eventually sending them to the land illusia where they had to sing. The Xena Musicial was a huge hit and well put together, to this day i smile every time I watch it.

Season 4 saw a new villain introduced, Alti (Claire Stansfield) A sharman who killed a tribe of Amazons, but the main story of this season was about Julius Caeser, his rise to power and Xena trying to prevent the vision of her and Gabrielle’s death from coming true. The Caeser story was excellent and in the episode The Ides of March, everything comes to fruition, we even see the return of Callisto.

The fifth season was written around Lucy Lawless and her real life pregnancy. The Producers decided to write it in to the show making it easier on production. With the birth of Xena’s child brings fourth the twilight of the Gods, the moment Zeus is killed they all come after Xena with a vengeance. Athena was the main antagonist, the show also explored a possible relationship with Ares and Xena. The last four episodes saw a time jump so we get introduced to a grown up Eve/Livia (Adrienne Wilkinson),  who ended up on a similar path to her mother.

Season brought the show to an end, six years of action and adventure. Highlights in this season were the Norse trilogy showing Xena as a Valkyrie, Michael Hurst playing a reporter called Nigel, Ares living on an farm and the return of Ares and Aphrodite to godhood. It’s always sad to see a show come to an end, with the shocking finale seeming to be a hard to beat ending it does seem like the show had a satisfying ending.

Xena: Warrior Princess images Xena - A Friend in Need (Season 6) HD wallpaper and background photos

REVIEW: HERCULES: THE LEGENDARY JOURNEYS – SEASON 1-6

 


MAIN CAST

Kevin Sorbo (Julia X)
Michael Hurst (Bitch Slap)

 

RECURRING / NOTABLE GUEST CAST

Clare Carey (Stargate SG.1)
Elizabeth Hawthorne (Cleopatra 2525)
Tawny Kitaen (Witchboard)
Richard Moll (Scary Movie 2)
Kim Michalis (Jack of All Trades)
John Sumner (Power Rangers Dino Charge)
Norman Forsey (Lord of The Rings)
Bruce Allpress (Power Rangers Jungle Fury)
Todd Rippon (King Kong)
Peter Muller (Step Dave)
Kelson Henderson (Ash vs Evil Dead)
Mark Ferguson (Power Rangers operation Overdrive)
Lisa Chappell (Coffin Rock)
Lucy Liu (Kill Bill)
Lucy Lawless (Ash Vs Evil Dead)
Alison Bruce (Young Hercules)
Jeffrey Thomas (The Hobbit)
Erik Thomson (All Saints)
Reb Brown (Captain America 70s)
Robert Trebor (Universal Soldier)
Tony Todd (Chuck)
Matthew Chamberlain (Avatar)
Dean O’ Gorman (The Hobbit)
Peter Daube (Traffic Island)
Anthony Ray Parker (The Matrix)
Nathaniel Lees (Young Hercules)
Bruce Campbell (The Evil Dead)
Kevin Smith (Jubilee)
Liddy Holloway (Without a Paddle)
Simone Kessell (San Andreas)
Simon Prast (Filthy Rich)
Brian Thompson (Hired To Kill)
Bruce Phillips (The Lovely Bones)
Martin Kove (The Karate Kid)
Rose McIver (Izombie)
Paul Norell (Power Rangers SPD)
Teresa Hill (Cruel Intentions 2)
Stig Eldred (Dick Tracy)
Glenn Shadix (Beetlejuice)
Bridget Hoffman (Frozen)
Jed Brophy (District 9)
Karen Sheperd (Cyborg 2)
Latham Gaines (Power Rangers Dino Thunder)
Willa O’Neill (The Price of Milk)
Audie England (Free Enterprise)
Bruce Hopkins (Housebound)
Corinna Everson (Natural Born KIllers)
Jason Hoyte (Nothing Trivial)
Alexandra Tydings (The Sunchaser)
Stephen Tozer (Trial Run)
Marton Csokas (XXX)
Josephine Davison (Power Rangers SPD)
Joel Tobeck (Ash vs Evil Dead)
Lisa Ann Hadley (Infested)
Paul Gittins (Power Rangers Jungle Fury)
Ashley Laurence (Hellraiser)
Owen Black (Netherwood)
Jeremy Roberts (The Mask)
Alastair Duncan (The Batman)
Julian Garner (Home and Away)
Galyn Gorg (Robocop 2)
Cynthia Rothrock (Undefeatable)
Grant Heslov (True Lies)
Karl Urban (Dredd)
Sam Sorbo (Andromeda)
Rene Naufahu (Power Rangers Samurai)
Catherine Bell (Bruce Almighty)
Hudson Leick (Tru Calling)
Ted Raimi (Spider-Man)
Renee O’Connor (Boogeyman 2)
Peter Vere-Jones (Bad Taste)
Amber Sainsbury (Hex)
Danielle Cormack (Xena)
Kara Zediker (Rock Star)
Grant McFarland (Power Rangers Ninja Storm)
Lindsey Ginter (S.W.A.T.)
Ian Bohen (Pearl Harbor)
Claudia Black (Farscape)
Gina Torres (Firefly)
Kimberly Joseph (Lost)
Meighan Desmond (When Love Comes)
Alistair Browning (Vertical Limit)
Katrina Browne (Young Hercules)
Stuart Devenie (Jack of All Trades)
David Weatherley (Power Rangers Operation Overdrive)
Jacinda Barrett (The Last Kiss)
Peter McCauley (The Lost World)
Lacey Kohl (Two Guys and a Girl)
Amy Morrison (Jack of All Trades)
Christopher Graham (Power Rangers Mystic Force)
Roy Dotrice (Hellboy 2)
Chris Conrad (Young Hercules)
Scott Michaelson (Sabrina Down Under)
James Gaylyn (Power Rangers RPM)
Antonio Te Maioha (Spartacus)
Tamara Gorski (Angel)
George Henare (The Dead Lands)
Geoff Dolan (Power Rangers Megaforce)
Ryan Gosling (The Ides of March)
Susan Brady (Without a Paddle)
Jodie Rimmer (Filthy Rich)
Angela Marie Dotchin (Jack of All Trades)
Neill Rea (The Warrior’s Way)
Stephen Lovatt (Cleopatara 2525)
Traci Lords (First Wave)

Shows based on ancient mythology have been common over the years, both in the written form and other media. The myths were a way for people to deal with the uncertainties of their lives, much like religions help people today. Nearly ten years ago a television show, Hercules: The Legendary Journeys, became the latest in this long line of tributes to age-old stories, albeit with a certain modern flair. The show didn’t stick very close to the original material and updated the language, mannerisms, and sensibilities in order to make the legendary strongman more palatable to modern audiences. After all, there wouldn’t be a big market for a show centered on a demi-god that rapes women, enslaves them, killed his family, and solved problems with brute strength alone No, this was a kinder, gentler guy who was as politically correct as anyone coming out of a Southern California ACLU meeting. The series itself started off with this little monologue: “This is the story of a time long ago. A time of myth and legend, when the ancient gods were petty and cruel, and they plagued mankind with suffering. Only one man dared to challenge their power, Hercules. Hercules possessed a strength the world had never seen, a strength surpassed only by the power of his heart. He journeyed the Earth, battling the minions of his wicked stepmother, Hera, the all-powerful Queen of the gods. But wherever there was evil, wherever an innocent would suffer, there would be Hercules.”

The show started off with a series of five made-for-television movies, most likely designed to test the readiness of the market for a series, and it did so well that the series was made as a mid-season replacement. Hercules was shown as a kind, compassionate man who never took advantage of others using his strength. He assisted people in need, usually people that were victims of the gods or other supernatural forces, since he felt a sense of obligation to do so. His father was Zeus, the king of the gods, and his mother a regular human, so he was caught between both worlds. His step mother, Hera (Zeus’ wife) was always attempting to kill Hercules using whatever means necessary, and this led to a lot of people getting hurt because they were pawns in the epic struggle between these two powerful forces.

As one of the most popular shows in syndication history, the show was somewhat preachy in terms of morality, but a fun ride on the camp wagon, if you catch my drift. After season one, a spin off series, Xena: Warrior Princess, found a huge audience and both shows had large followings (Xena was a bit darker most of the time, but that was in line with the character’s past), outlasting all the critics predictions about the campy, quirky humor used to draw in audiences all over the world.

The show’s strong point was that it never took itself too seriously, even when preaching the virtues of friendship, loyalty, tolerance, and justice. The ladies would appreciate seeing Kevin Sorbo prancing around in tight leather pants with loose or non-existent shirts, getting all hot and sweaty while there was also plenty of eye candy for the guys (Cory Everson’s cleavage and ass come to mind that there was a whole lot more as well). The special effects were cheesy, as was much of the writing but it was all good fun without too much thinking needed to appreciate the situational aspects of the show. Season One established the basic characters and situations they’d get in and later seasons would get lighter in terms of what happened more often than not. The movies themselves were slightly different than the weekly episodes in how Hercules wasn’t quite as refined in them.

 

The second season was where the show really got its stride. The darkness of Season One was excised and sent over to the new Xena: Warrior Princess show and almost all of the shows displayed a lighter tone. There was still the fighting and conflict, still special effects all the time, and still the silly banter (especially in the episodes with Bruce Campbell and Robert Trebor) you’d expect of the tongue in cheek show.

 

 

In season 3, the tales of Hercules as depicted by producers Robert Taper, Christian Williams, Sam Raimi, and a horde of writers produce some of the episodes of the series. Perhaps the most exciting and entertaining episode of season 3, “The End of the Beginning”, features the return of Autolycus, the King of Thieves (Bruce Campbell). Autolycus manages to still the Chronos gemstone, a device that gives the holder the ability to manipulate the strands of time! In this episode Hercules chases Autolycus into the past, where they get stuck. In order to return to the future (the present), Autolycus must team up with a five year younger version of himself and steal the Chronos gemstone again. There are also a few comical Army of Darkness references.

The biggest highlight was the Golden Hind Trilogy showing Hercules falling in love Serena (Sam Jenkins) a creature Half Human, Half Deer. It also brought him into conflict with Ares (Kevin Smith). This will always remain one of my all time favorites as it also includes guest appearances with Xena (Lucy Lawless) and Gabrielle (Renee O’Connor).

 

http://vignette3.wikia.nocookie.net/hercxena/images/3/32/Widow_Twanky.jpg/revision/latest/scale-to-width-down/640?cb=20090720053309

 

 

 

Season Four was the season where Kevin Sorbo was ill, episodes had to be created around him not being there.These included using Young Hercules (Ian Bohen) flashbacks, bringing back Autolycus (Bruce Campbell) & Salmoneus (Robert Trebor) to showcase episodes. the most strangest of all would be the introduction of Widow Twanky (Michael Hurst) A Dance Tutor who helps Hercules learn to dance. the Dahak storyline from Xena also crossed over in the excellent  Armageddon Now. We also get to see an alternate Hercules in the brilliant Stranger in The Strange World. Season four despite Kevin Sorbo’s illness Season four still turned out to be a great season.

 

The majority of the episodes in season five are used to tell one story. It follows one central theme, where Hercules undergoes a dramatic life changing event and doesn’t end up the same person. After the death of a very close friend, he loses his desire to help others. Instead, Hercules broods and his character becomes slightly dark. This approach holds great intrigue, because it isn’t everyday that we get to see the overly altruistic hero in a dark fashion. This season is stranger for it. It finally brings closure to the Dahak story.

Iolaus_as_Dahak

Hercules: The Legendary Journeys: Season 6, the swan song of the show on television. It only had 8 episodes and served to finish the long run with some decent shows. The main highlight of the season is the finale, Full Circle which sees the return of Zeus and Hera. also featuring the Titans. The episode brings nice closure to a great series.  Hercules would also return in the Xena (Season 5) episode God Fearing Child, after that this would be the last time we would see the Hercules and Iolaus. This show will always remain one of my all time favorite shows and i’m glad to have it on DVD.

REVIEW: SPARTACUS: GODS OF THE ARENA

CAST

John Hannah (Agents of Shield)
Lucy Lawless (Ash vs Evil Dead)
Manu Bennett (Arrow)
Peter Mensah (Sleepy Hollow)
Dustin Clare (Wolf Creek TV)
Jaime Murray (Ringer)
Marisa Ramirez (Blue Bloods)
Antonio Te Maioha (Zoolander 2)
Nick E. Tarabay (Arrow)
Craig Walsh-Wrightson (Vertical Limit)
Daniel Feuerriegel (Winners & Losers)

RECURRING / NOTABLE GUEST CAST

Jeffrey Thomas (The Hobbit)
Temuera Morrison (Tatu)
Stephen Lovatt (Neighbours)
Jessica Grace Smith (Home and Away)
Steven A. Davis (Power Rangers Samurai)
Peter Feeney (30 Days of Night)
Jason Hood (Power Rangers Megaforce)
Stephen Ure (Deathgasm)
Andy Whitfield (The Clinic)

“Spartacus: Blood and Sand” was one of 2010’s great television surprises.  it soon established itself as a smart, well acted, viscerally entertaining piece of entertainment that defied conventions by knowing just how much to take itself seriously while not being too embarrassed to be over-the-top and sleazy. Two of the biggest revelations of “Blood and Sand” were John Hannah as Batiatus  and Andy Whitfield as Spartacus, an unknown actor at the time, who over the initial 13 episodes of the series made a steadfast march towards stardom, displaying a healthy balance of humanity and brutality, giving viewers a true hero to root for. Sadly, Mr. Whitfield was forced to pass the mantle to another actor as his ongoing bout with cancer proved to be too much to handle while shooting such a physically taxing series. In place of a second season, a six-episode prequel was commissioned, titled Gods of the Arena, it would tell the tale of Batiatus’ rise to power in Capua as well as provide much desired backstories for some of Blood and Sand’s more memorable supporting characters. While, a prequel in nature, Gods of the Arena begins where Blood and Sand left off, so new viewers take heed and leave this title be until you’re caught up, otherwise face having the many twists and shocking revelations of Blood and Sand spoiled. That said, Gods of the Arena manages to shake off many issues inherently present in prequels, but falls victim to a few nearly unavoidable ones. Without Spartacus to focus on, a new hero must step forward and Gods of the Arena provides two. First up is perhaps the most fearsome and brutal gladiator to enter the Spartacus mythos, Gannicus (Dustin Clare), a practically unstoppable warrior whose boredom with low-level fights results in him toying with opponents, grandstanding, and ultimately taking a lax attitude towards training. Clare steps up to the task of giving a hero viewers can cheer for, bringing a level of humanity to the character that echoes Whitfield’s own talents in Blood and the Sand. Gannicus’ quieter moments come in private conversations with his friend, fellow champion, Oenomaus (Peter Mensah), who viewers will surely recognize as”Blood and Sand’s”head trainer, Doctore. The inclusion of a pre-Doctore Oenomaus, is a stellar example of the little character details Gods of the Arena is able to provide.Also returning are Manu Bennett as Crixus, Spartacus’ main rival throughout Blood and Sand, however here, Crixus finds himself a newly purchased slave and raw gladiatorial talent, making his attitude toward the brash Spartacus resonate with greater meaning. Bennett really puts in overtime playing a character we know, but don’t fully recognize as first. As his story progresses, Gods of the Arena manages to nicely fit in backstories for Ashur (Nick Tarabay), who has yet to become the crippled Assassin for Batiatus and Barca (Antonio Te Maioha), one of Blood and Sand’s more pleasant supporting surprises. Added to the chaos of the arena, is Batiatus’ current Doctore, a much welcome Temuera Morrison. As fascinating as the politics of the arena and training grounds are, what likely has fans checking the series out is John Hannah and Lucy Lawless as Batiatus and Lucretia, respectively. Gods of the Arena is truly their show, giving Hannah and Lawless free range to go over-the-top without once losing credibility. While Blood and Sand was firmly the story of Spartacus’ rise in the gladiator circuit, Gods of the Arena is the tale of Batiatus’ entry into the big time fights and his first step into the web of Roman politics that came as a shock in the preceding series. Hannah firmly sheds any mainstream association with his goofy sidekick roles in “The Mummy” films and every moment of his screen time is a treat as the writers up the ante on the absurd and profane statements spilling from his mouth, that only Hannah seems to be able to make sound Shakespearean. Likewise, Lawless is as over-the-top, but not as blatantly animated as Hannah and there is no question her character’s true love for her husband despite known infidelities, as Lucretia positions herself as a deadly Roman viper, refusing anyone stand in the rise of Batiatus.Gods of the Arena introduces some new characters, namely Batiatus’ father (Jeffrey Thomas) and Oenomaus’ wife Melitta (Marisa Ramirez) whose fates are probably easily guessed by their obvious absence from the previous series. That’s not to say every new character in Gods of the Arena leaves a corpse, the reality is quite the opposite. The events set-up here will have ramifications that will continue throughout the series. Ultimately, a few characters, namely Melitta come off as more necessary evils than flesh and blood characters we should emotionally invest our selves in.Fans of  Blood and Sand should be entirely pleased by this solid prequel.