REVIEW: ANOTHER LIFE- SEASON 1

Katee Sackhoff in Another Life (2019)

Starring

Katee Sackhoff (Battlestar Galactica)
Selma Blair (Mom and Dad)
Tyler Hoechlin (Supergirl)
Justin Chatwin (War of The Worlds)
Samuel Anderson (The History Boys)
Elizabeth Ludlow (Max Steel)
Blu Hunt (The New Mutants)
A.J. Rivera (Grandfathered)
Alexander Eling (Make It Pop)
Alex Ozerov (Bitten)
Jake Abel (Percy Jackson)
JayR Tinaco (always be My Maybe)
Jessica Camacho (The Flash)
Barbara Williams (Thief of Hearts)

Katee Sackhoff in Another Life (2019)It’s been ten years since we last saw Katee Sackhoff suit up as Kara “Starbuck” Thrace in the critically acclaimed series Battlestar Galactica, and now she’s taking to the stars once again in her new Netflix series Another Life. This dark intergalactic adventure sees Sackhoff leading a team of scientists on a mission to uncover the truth about a mysterious alien vessel that has appeared on Earth. Unfortunately, despite the show’s best efforts to channel Sackhoff’s earlier sci-fi success (along with several other notable staples of the genre), it struggles to establish its own identity in a season filled with underdeveloped characters and stakes that somehow manage to simultaneously feel both too high, and not quite high enough.A.J. Rivera and Alexander Eling in Another Life (2019)From creator Aaron Martin (Slasher), Another Life opens on influencer-journalist Harper Glass (Selma Blair) watching as an alien spacecraft (which resembles a giant, metallic Möbius strip) passes outside her window. It eventually lands in a field, where it promptly cocoons itself in a shimmering crystalline shell, reminiscent of Annihilation’s Shimmer. This is the last we see of Harper in the pilot episode; she won’t reappear until midway through episode two, which feels indicative of the show’s general lack of focus when it comes to its large supporting cast. They appear when the plot requires it, and feel as though they fizzle out of existence the second they leave the screen.Katee Sackhoff and Elizabeth Faith Ludlow in Another Life (2019)Following the arrival of the alien craft, Another Life jumps ahead six months in time, switching perspectives to Niko Breckenridge (Sackhoff), her husband, Erik Wallace (Justin Chatwin), and their young daughter Jana (Lina Renna). Erik is a scientist who has been studying the “Artifact,” as the humans have come to call the alien structure. While he and his team haven’t made much headway in determining who the aliens are or what they want, they do know that the Artifact is sending signals out into space, and Niko has just been appointed as the commander of the ship tasked with following those signals to their destination, Pi Canis Majoris. Neither of them really want Niko to go, but she worries that without her, the mission will fail, putting their family in jeopardy.Tyler Hoechlin and Jessica Camacho in Another Life (2019)So Niko heads off on the Salvare, where the plan is to spend most of the months-long mission in induced soma sleep, but of course, there wouldn’t be much of a series if everything went according to plan. A month into their journey, Niko is awakened by William (Samuel Anderson) the ship’s holographic onboard computer, who has been programmed to be the ideal complement for Niko — which makes sense — and also, bafflingly, to feel human emotions, including fear, anger, and uncertainty, which is a little perplexing given that William controls every system on the ship. I have a hard time coming up with a scenario in which it makes sense to give a glorified auto-pilot the potential to have a panic attack if things get intense (and they do indeed get very intense), but okay. Despite taking itself extremely seriously, Another Life is not a series that welcomes peeking underneath the hood to examine its internal logic, so it’s best to just let it be.another-lifeUnsurprisingly, William informs Niko that the Salvare has encountered a complication while en route to Pi Canis Majoris, and soon the entire primary crew has been awakened in order to deal with it. I say “primary” crew because the Salvare also has a seemingly limitless supply of backup crew members still in soma sleep, conveniently stowed away in their soma pods until the moment they’re needed to take over for a member of the primary crew who is no longer able to serve their function. But we’ll get to that in a minute. This crew consists of a dozen diverse twenty-somethings, ostensibly chosen at least in part for their youth; one character explains in the pilot that cowardice tends to flare up after people turn 27, and that it therefore makes sense to staff a dangerous mission with a crew who won’t shy away from risks. This logic doesn’t entirely track — both Niko and her second-in-command, Ian Yerxa (Tyler Hoechlin)are in their 30s — and is one of many, many examples throughout Another Life’s first season of the show doing its best to answer small questions no one was asking, while ignoring other, much bigger ones.another_life-publicity_still_2-h_2019Chief among them: who are all these people? Another Life has an intimidatingly large cast, and with the exceptions of Niko and Erik, it doesn’t seem particularly interested in exploring who any of them are. I spent most of the ten-episode season barely able to recall any of the Salvare crew’s names or jobs, and there’s a few whose roles I still can’t quite pin down. It doesn’t help that Another Life has a shockingly high body count, with multiple members of the Salvare’s crew dying horribly every couple episodes. However, those deaths don’t carry the weight they should, for either the viewers or the characters. We never get to know these characters well enough to really mourn their loss, and the endless supply of backup personnel ensures that the Salvare will never have to operate with less than a full crew, making the life-or-death stakes feel both too extreme — watching one shallowly drawn character after another die excruciating deaths becomes rapidly exhausting — and weirdly meaningless.AAAABWDQDqrL-l-hBEBHjJ51Yx47hUQzwWmO1Dw_amNoig7V7dK-xaVhmyy5nknFcoNWr3O45AvHLK7HmTUDqqRNVaf7gq8iZIZgCgThe only characters Another Life imbues with any real sense of history or interiority are Niko and Erik, who each do their admirable best to carry their respective storylines, Niko on the Salvare, and Erik back on Earth, doing his best to solo parent Jana while continuing to study the Artifact. Sackhoff and Chatwin each give earnest performances (although Sackhoff does occasionally succumb to the urge to chew the scenery, and often defaults to a facial expression I can best describe as “Blue Steel intensity”), making it easy to buy into their relationship, despite their limited screen time together. But for every flashback (or occasionally, more inventive method) used to explore their identities and backstories, it becomes even more glaring how little Another Life is willing to dig into the rest of its characters. With so many people to keep track of, I found myself longing for the show to deep-dive one supporting character at a time, rather than spend so much energy on Niko while giving the rest only the most surface-level treatment.94c04b8770a38df67ba71b5fca00aac12802c6c9Throughout its first season, Another Life intentionally channels a number of intense sci-fi films such as Alien, Arrival,or Annihilation, although it’s debatable whether including such heavy parallels to highly acclaimed properties works in its favor, or whether they simply function as a reminder of all that Another Life isn’t. However, as I watched, I couldn’t help drawing comparisons to other, perhaps less-obvious shows like LOST or even Game of Thrones, which also had large ensemble casts and a tendency to brutally kill off principal characters without warning, but were skilled in developing those characters in ways that made their deaths uniquely devastating. Even in their first seasons, deaths on those shows were heartwrenching, not just because death is innately painful, or because the circumstances were objectively horrifying, but because we had emotionally invested in those specific characters, and it hurt to lose them.0475c1200ce9f4d1c1bb05b74ec58ed78e63af09More than anything else, it’s this lack of specificity that holds Another Life back in its first season. Despite its familiarity, its premise is still intriguing, and while the pacing can occasionally get bogged down in undercooked subplots that don’t seem to tie neatly into the main thread of the series, the show is adept at ending each episode in a way that had me immediately reaching for the remote, eager to start the next one. And although I wished for more conflict that stemmed from the characters’ actions as opposed to originating externally, Another Life still manages to keep the moment-to-moment excitement pretty high. But the series’ failure to invest in any of its cast outside of Sackhoff and Chatwin means that even when Another Life is functioning at its best, it still feels as though it’s holding its audience at arm’s length.3lEzD6kE_oIt’s a shame, because there’s a ton of unmined story potential in the characters of Another Life, who are diverse across a variety of spectrums, including race, sexuality, and gender. It’s only toward the end of the season that the show begins hinting at more in-depth storylines and relationships for a few of its secondary characters, who have spent most of the season running, screaming, and spouting exposition-heavy technical dialogue. Yet even those brief glimpses at what might lie ahead already feels more compelling and interesting than most of the narratives they’ve been given up until that point. There is a much better, more emotionally affecting show lying just beneath the generically futuristic trappings of Another Life, but in its first season, it fails to develop its characters in a way that would give its extraterrestrial threats and space-horror scares any sort of significant weight. As such, despite some intriguing central mysteries — what is the Artifact? Who sent it? And what do they want? — the series has a hard time getting me to invest in finding answers. I can only hope that, should Another Life receive a second season, it spends a little more time building up the connections and conflicts within the Salvare itself, so that it’s all the more terrifying when the dangers lurking outside threaten to rip them apart.

REVIEW: VERONICA MARS (MOVIE)

CAST

Kristen Bell (Frozen)
Jason Dohring (The Originals)
Krysten Ritter (Jessica Jones)
Ryan Hansen (2 Broke Girls)
Francis Capra (heroes)
Percy Daggs III (Izombie)
Chris Lowell (Enlisted)
Tina Mojorino (Santa Fe)
Enrico Colantoni (Powers)
Gaby Hoffmann (Wild)
Jerry O’Connell (Sliders)
Brandon Hillock (Villains)
Martin Starr (Spider-Man: Homecoming)
Ken Marino (Agent Carter)
Max Greenfield (New Girl)
Amanda Noret (City Guys)
Daran Norris (Izombie)
Sam Huntington (Superman Returns)
Duane Daniels (Murder on Vine)
Lisa Thornhill (Rush Hour 3)
Christine Lakin (Family Guy)
Jamie Lee Curtis (Scream Queens)
Justin Long (Mom)
Dax Shepard (Hit and Run)
James Franco (Spider-Man)
Eddie Jemison (IZombie)
Jessica Camacho (The Flash)

Kristen Bell and Jason Dohring in Veronica Mars (2014)The world of cult TV is a peculiar one. Television shows are canceled all the time, but through the world of DVDs, Netflix, and Amazon, shows pulled from network schedules before their time now have the opportunity to grow a loyal, faithful audience long after the grass has grown over their graves.Kristen Bell in Veronica Mars (2014)Those fans often wonder if they’ll ever see their favorite characters again, and every once in awhile that wish comes true. Seven years after it was canceled, Veronica Mars, which became a cult phenomenon since it premiered its last new episode on The CW in 2007, returned for one more mystery, this time on the big screen. As any true fan can tell you, Veronica Mars was a witty, one-of-a-kind teen noir series that tackled everything from rape and murder to class warfare.A social outcast after her sheriff father (Enrico Colantoni) wrongfully accused a very rich, very powerful man of murdering his daughter (who was Veronica’s best friend and the sister of Veronica’s boyfriend), Veronica Mars (Kristen Bell) was largely on her own in a town full of obnoxious and privileged children of movie stars and CEOs. But the Southern California town of Neptune was divided along class lines. Veronica didn’t fit in with the popular kids, known as the 09-ers, after her father’s wrongful accusation, but she didn’t fit in with the working class either on account of her former association to those same 09-ers. She became a fierce, independent teen whose weapon of choice against her enemies was her mind, her wit, and the occasional stun-gunning. Each episode of the series tackled a new mystery for Veronica to solve, while an overarching larger mystery unfolded over the course of the entire season. It’s not every day a series like Veronica Mars shows up on TV, and so it makes perfect sense that Veronica Mars in its film incarnation be as unique as the series from which it was born.veronicamarsFunded by fans via a Kickstarter that broke several records and reached its goal of $2 million in less than 12 hours, the Veronica Mars film was a labor of love for all parties involved. The movie, which looked great despite not having had the funds it would have had if it had been completely backed by the studio, felt like an extended episode of the TV series. Some people might look at that and see a failure, but to any Veronica Mars fan, that’s the highest form of praise. Instead of an ending, the movie felt like a brand-new chapter recently discovered at the end of a favorite book.Series creator Rob Thomas has always been cognizant of the fact that the film would not exist if it weren’t for the fans, and has said on more than one occasion that it was imperative that they make a film that would do right by the fans who donated their hard-earned cash to bring this beautiful work to life. And that’s what he did. He created a film that he knew the fans would love. And he should know, because he’s probably the series’ biggest fan outside of Kristen Bell herself. Without Thomas and Bell keeping alive their dream of one day shooting a film, fans might have given up hope of ever returning to the seedy seaside town of Neptune, California.Kristen Bell and Ryan Hansen in Veronica Mars (2014)By the time Veronica traded in her pin-straight hair and fancy New York lawyer duds for the jeans, jacket, and beach waves uniform she wore for three seasons, it was clear Veronica was never going to go back to the seemingly perfect life she had in New York with Piz (Chris Lowell). It doesn’t matter if everyone knew going in that she’d end up choosing Neptune over New York and ex-boyfriend Logan (Jason Dorhing) over Piz, because it’s exactly what the fans wanted to see. It’s what the fans paid upfront to see. It’s the open-ended ending the fans waited seven years for. In short: The film delivered.rs_560x415-140311131242-1024.Veronica-Mars-Kristen-Bell.ms.031114_copyThe movie, which followed the first case Veronica had worked since she transferred to Stanford after one year at Hearst College, and which happened to coincide with her 10 year high school reunion, felt exactly like that: A reunion. Because Thomas wanted to please the fans, the movie attempted to bring back as many original cast members from the series as possible, from the still-bitchy Madison Sinclair (Amanda Noret), to the dirty and shameless Vinnie Van Lowe (Ken Marino), who might actually be living in a van now, to the effortlessly charming Deputy-now-detective Leo (Max Greenfield). The movie was a parade of familiar faces, but to fans of the series, it felt a bit like home. Each time a character appeared on screen, it was a wink and a nod to fans.Kristen Bell and Jason Dohring in Veronica Mars (2014)It makes sense that the person to pull Veronica back to Neptune and the private eye world was Logan. He’d been part of the reason she’d left town and their self-proclaimed epic love story was left unfinished. If I take issue with anything in the film, however, it would be the way in which it portrayed her relationship with both Logan and the job of being a private investigator as a drug. Over the course of the series, it was clear her relationship with Logan was toxic, but Logan has grown up and matured considerably in the nine years since we last saw him. Yes, he was quick to resort to violence when Veronica’s sex tape played at the reunion, but that doesn’t change the fact that Logan has come very far since his self-destructive days. He joined the navy and became a pilot. He became a stabilizing force for his girlfriend, Carrie Bishop, whose murder was the central mystery of the movie.Kristen Bell and Jason Dohring in Veronica Mars (2014)Keith’s vocal opposition to Veronica leaving New York and the opportunities there felt real and were grounded in reality. He’s a father who only wants the best for his daughter. But it was never going to happen. The mystery of who killed Carrie Bishop wasn’t the most exciting or intricate case Veronica has ever tackled, but once again, the movie had to find a way to work in a case that would draw Veronica back to Neptune, as well as find a way to work in the cameos fans desperately wanted to see in a short, finite amount of time. Revealing Martin Starr’s new character Stu “Cobb” Cobbler to be Carrie’s murderer made sense, because having it be someone fans knew and loved would have been crushing to the audience. The fact that Dick really never knew the truth about what happened to Susan Knight on that boat was in line with the Dick that fans have come to love or come to love to hate. In short, everything that happened in the film felt just right.Success in this industry will always be measured by how much money a film makes, and there is a special dollar amount the movie must bring in to warrant a sequel, but to fans of the series, none of that really matters. It was never about the money, it was about seeing Veronica, Logan, Keith, Wallace, Mac, Dick, Weevil, and Piz again. Veronica Mars’ success will never be measured in dollar signs, but in whether or not the film made fans happy, and to that end it definitely succeeded.

REVIEW: BONES – SEASON 10

Starring

Emily Deschanel (Boogeyman)
David Boreanaz (Angel)
Michaela Conlin (Yellowstone)
Tamara Taylor (Lost)
T. J. Thyne (Ghost World)
John Francis Daley (Game Night)
John Boyd (Argo)

David Boreanaz and Emily Deschanel in Bones (2005)
Recurring / Notable Guest Cast

Patricia Belcher (Jeepers Creepers)
Carla Gallo (Superbad)
JD Cullum (The Lone Ranger)
Sam Anderson (Lost)
Rance Howard (Far and Away)
Ignacio Serricchio (Lost In Space)
Laura Spencer (The Big Bang Theory)
John Billingsley (Star Trek: Enterprise)
Sean Gunn (Super)
Nora Dunn (Bruce Almighty)
Pej Vahdat (Shameless)
Amy Davidson (Girl on The Edge)
Danny Woodburn (Watchmen)
François Chau (The Tick)
Brian Klugman (Cloverfield)
Gil Bellows (Sanctuary)
Charlene Amoia (How I Met Your Mother)
Sean Marquette (The Goldbergs)
Chastity Dotson (Veronica Mars)
Billy Gibbons (Two and a Half Men)
Andrew Leeds (Office Christmas Party)
Mather Zickel (Mike & Molly)
Michael Grant Terry (Grimm)
Ryan O’Neal (Love Story)
Cyndi Lauper (Vibes)
Steven Williams (Jason Goes To Hell)
Nathaniel Buzolic (The Originals)
Jason Gray-Stanford (Stargate SG.1)
Shalita Grant (Santa Clarita Diet)
Arden Myrin (Insatiable)
Eric Allan Kramer (The Incredible Hulk Returns)
Todd Williams (The Vampire Diaries)
Vito D’Ambrosio (The Flash)
Jeremy Ratchford (Cold Case)
Eugene Byrd (Arrow)
Mike Starr (Ed Wood)
Noel Gugliemi (The Fast and The Furious)
Kurt Fuller (Ghostbusters II)
China Anne McClain (Black Lightning)
Jessica Camacho (The Flash)
Linda Lavin (The Good Wife)
Taylor Spreitler (Melissa & Joey)
Michael Cram (Flashpoint)
Rick Overton (Eught Legged Freaks)
Amanda Brooks (Aquarius)
Lindsey Kraft (The Big Bang Theory)

Eugene Byrd, Michaela Conlin, Emily Deschanel, and T.J. Thyne in Bones (2005)In the 10th season of Bones, suspense is at an all-time high as Seeley Booth (David Boreanaz) is framed and jailed for the murder of three FBI agents while Temperance Brennan (Emily Deschanel) considers committing blackmail to get him out of prison.David Boreanaz and Emily Deschanel in Bones (2005)The new season brings some changes. The team will lose a key player at a dramatic moment early in the season, and have to work in a replacement after an emotional farewell. Another primary character will develop a emotional bond with one of the rotational lab interns, one that threatens their official relationship. Still another will strike it rich, a couple of season after having been cleaned out by a particularly nasty serial killer.David Boreanaz and Emily Deschanel in Bones (2005)Yet another character will revisit a gambling habit that threatens a job and a relationship. And, one key character will become pregnant. And those events are just character development. There is a fresh lot of challenging cases that will need solving.Those week to week cases continue to be innovative and interesting, challenging the team and the viewer to keep up. At the same time, the series hasn’t lost its sense of humor, or its willingness to experiment. Bones is still good fun and recommended to its loyal fans in its tenth season.

REVIEW: MINORITY REPORT: THE SERIES

MAIN CAST
Stark Sands (Chasing Liberty)
Meagan Good (The Love Guru)
Nick Zano (2 Broke Girls)
Daniel London (Gotham)
Laura Regan (My Little Eye)
Li Jun Li (Damages)
Wilmer Valderrama (That 70s Show)
RECURRING / NOTABLE GUEST CAST
Michael Copeman (The Fly)
Tina Lifford (Catch and Release)
Alex Paxton-Beesley (Alphas)
Jessica Camacho (Veronica Mars)
William Mapother (Lost)
David Nykl (Stargate: Atlantis)
Sheila Vand (Argo)
Azura Skye (28 Days)
Reed Diamond (Dollhouse)
Audrey Marie Anderson (Arrow)
Christopher Heyerdahl (Sanctuary)
Tom Butler (Blade: The Series)
Steven Williams (Jason Goes To Hell)
Andrew Stewart-Jones (Gotham)
Derek Webster (Staragte)
Rizwan Manji (Charlie Wilson’s War)
Colin Lawrence (Staragte SG.1)
Peter Macon (The Orville)
Kenneth Mitchell (Odyssey 5)
Peter Bryant (Legends of Tomorrow)

Compared to recent surge of sci-fi series, Minority Report is looking more refined with clearly better production. However, this doesn’t have the same thrilling spirit from Tom Cruise’s action thriller. The precognition concept has been reduced to typical paranormal investigation.


If you’re not familiar with the source, or understandably forget the story, the show opens with brief narrative about the movie. In near future authority used precog system by plugging three siblings into a machine, a mix between psychic and technology to determine crime before it happened. Unfortunately, Tom Cruise proved that it had flaws and the project was scratched.

One of the siblings, Dash (Stark Sands) now leads a normal witness protection life, but he still has the clairvoyance gift. With the help of a female police officer Lara Vega (Meagan Good) he helps solve crime in a rather timid sci-fi crime drama. The cast is leaning towards light comedy than thriller, which is perhaps intentionally made to suit the series.

The problem is the two leads don’t mesh together well. Stark Sands has the quirky savant look, but he doesn’t possess the on-screen presence for a capable lead.  Meagan Good is attractive for the lead female, but she’s an odd choice for tough female role. While she does look fit, it doesn’t translate to serious femme fatale personality. Its change to more humorous tone is different from the futuristic noir of the movie, it’s not bad and probably better to accommodate TV series. It does rely too much on casual cop spectacle, yet doesn’t really have the draw or chemistry. Not to mention the use of psychics is getting old, the foreshadowing gimmick feels like a puzzle played too many times.

The presentation is impeccable though. It’s obvious that the show invests a lot on making the world looks brightly inviting. The details for gadgetry, environment and investigation are splendid. This world definitely could work for foundation for TV series, although the narrative and characters are not as intriguing. It was originally given 13 episodes but shortened to 10 now that all 10 have aired it looks like this show was put to sleep.