REVIEW: THE FLASH – SEASON 3

The-Flash-Season-3-Poster-e1497470774907

Starring

Grant Gustin (Glee)
Candice Patton (The Guest)
Danielle Panabaker (The Crazies)
Carlos Valdes (Vixen)
Keiynan Lonsdale (THe Turning)
Tom Cavanagh (Scrubs)
Jesse L. Martin (Injustice)
Tom Felton (Harry Potter)

Matt Letscher and Grant Gustin in The Flash (2014)

Recurring / Notable Guest Cast

Alex Désert (Swingers)
Michelle Harrison (Tru Calling)
Matt Letscher (Her)
Todd Lasance (The Vampire Diaries)
John Wesley Shipp (Dawson’s Creek)
Tobin Bell (Saw)
Emily Bett Rickards (Brooklyn)
Joey King (Slender Man)
Violett Beane (God Friended Me)
Peter Flemming (Staragte SG.1)
Wentworth Miller (Underworld)
Danielle Nicolet (Central Intelligence)
Grey Damon (Aquarius)
Ashley Rickards (Pretty Little Stalker)
Patrick Sabongui (Power Rangers)
Susan Walters (The Vampire Diaries)
Greg Grunberg (Heroes)
Victor Garber (The Orville)
Franz Drameh (See)
Stephen Amell (Arrow)
Willa Holland (Legion)
Caity Lotz (The Pact)
Dominic Purcell (Prison Break)
David Ramsey (Dexter)
Brandon Routh (Superman Returns)
Melissa Benoist (Whiplash)
Audrey Marie Anderson (The Unit)
Christina Brucato (The Intern)
Donnelly Rhodes (Battlestar Galactica)
Jerry Wasserman (I, Robot)
Robin Atkin Downes (Babylon 5)
Mark Hamill (Star Wars)
Nicholas Gonzalez (Sleepy Hollow)
Jessica Camacho (Watchmen: The Series)
Stephen Huszar (Faces In The Crowd)
Andrea Brooks (When Calls The Heart)
Keith David (Pitch Black)
Vanessa Williams (Candyman)
Robbie Amell (The Duff)
Rick Cosnett (The Vampire Diaries)
John Barrowman (Torchwood)
David Harewood (Homeland)
Jeremy Jordan (The Last Five Years)
Chris Wood (The Vampire Diaries)
Darren Criss (Glee)
David Dastmalchian (Reprisal)
Anne Dudek (White Chicks)

 

John Wesley Shipp and Grant Gustin in The Flash (2014)Season 3 appears to be the real test for The CW’s Arrowverse shows. Arrow followed up its first two seasons with a much rockier third season, leaving that series in a hole of which it’s only just now managed to climb out. The Flash went through a similar series of hurdles this year. The Flash: Season 3 was noticeably more uneven than its predecessors, suggesting that maybe Barry Allen’s best days are behind him. Luckily, the show was able to recapture its footing where Arrow continued to struggle. The strong last couple months of the season went a long way towards making up for the mistakes that came before.Grant Gustin and Violett Beane in The Flash (2014)It was clear right away that Season 3 faced a long, uphill battle. Season 2 ended with an exciting cliffhanger, as Barry (Grant Gustin) traveled back in time, undid his parents’ deaths and created the alternate timeline known as Flashpoint. Anyone who’s read the Flashpoint comic or watched the animated movie Justice League: The Flashpoint Paradox was surely salivating at the thought of seeing a twisted, dystopian vision of the Arrowverse. What the premiere episode, “Flashpoint,” actually delivered was slightly less exciting. Aside from a few key differences, this world wasn’t a particularly dramatic change from the norm. There was still a definite appeal in seeing Barry briefly granted the happy, quiet life he’s always dreamed of.Tobin Bell in The Flash (2014)
Looking back at  the first half of Season 3, it wasn’t until the midseason finale that any episode scored above the low 8 range. That pretty much encapsulates the problems with the season right there. The show was often perfectly fine on a week-to-week basis, but it was rare for any episode to really stand out from the pack. The general status quo in the first half of the season too often struggled to measure up to the Reverse-Flash and Zoom conflicts from seasons past. The end result of Barry’s three months spent living in Flashpoint was a handful of changes to the Team Flash dynamic, many of which became all but irrelevant after a week or two. Flashpoint also resulted in the rise of two new villains – Doctor Alchemy and Savitar (both voiced by Tobin Bell). Alchemy never amounted to much more than a shadowy, mysterious string-puller, while it wasn’t until the final few episodes of the season that Savitar truly came into his own.Danielle Panabaker in The Flash (2014)There was plenty of character drama to work through early on, much of it the direct result of Barry’s time-meddling. Iris (Candice Patton) and Joe (Jesse L. Martin) dealt with a mutual estrangement. Cisco (Carlos Valdes) mourned the death of someone close to him. Both Caitlin (Danielle Panabaker) and Wally (Keiynan Lonsdale) dealt with the spontaneous appearance of metahuman powers (with the former dreading her transformations into Killer Frost and the latter relishing his opportunity to follow in Barry’s footsteps). That’s to say nothing of the complications created by Barry’s new co-worker/frenemy, Julian Desmond (Tom Felton). When all else failed, the Team Flash family drama could usually be relied upon to keep the show humming along.Stephen Amell and Grant Gustin in The Flash (2014)Julian proved an entertaining and somewhat unpredictable addition to the recurring cast, adding a unique voice and temperament to the Team Flash dynamic. But the best addition this year was H.R. (Tom Cavanagh), the latest alternate universe incarnation of Harrison Wells. It’s part of The Flash’s charm that there must always be a Wells in the picture, even if Cisco and friends have to go on a recruitment drive to find one. Cavanagh again proved to be one of the show’s MVP’s, playing H.R. as a wholly distinct character compared to Season 1’s Dr. Wells and Season 2’s Harry. There were even a few opportunities to see Cavanagh play multiple Wellses in the same scene, just for kicks.Grant Gustin and Keiynan Lonsdale in The Flash (2014)

This season also got a lot of mileage out of John Wesley Shipp’s new role as the real Jay Garrick. Like Cavanagh, Shipp successfully managed to set his new character apart from the old, casting Jay as a grizzled veteran not entirely comfortable with his status as mentor to Barry and his fellow speedsters. The only complaint here is that the season never used Jay as often as it could. That was especially true with the midseason finale, “The Present,” which offered a tantalizingly brief glimpse of Jay’s rivalry with Earth-3’s Trickster (Mark Hamill).Grant Gustin, Keiynan Lonsdale, and Violett Beane in The Flash (2014)Looking back, the one character who felt oddly underutilized this year was Wally. On paper, it was a big year for Wally, as he gained his speed powers and took his place alongside Barry. That paved the way for several memorable speedster team-ups (including one with Violett Beane’s Jesse Quick thrown in for good measure). But there was a specific point in the season where it seemed like the writers completely lost interest in Wally. He all but completely faded to the background and never recovered as a result. Andre Tricoteux in The Flash (2014)The character drama gave the early episodes weight where villains like Alchemy faltered, but that drama brought about its own set of problems. Not only was the scope of Flashpoint itself disappointingly limited, the fallout often felt small and perfunctory. Some subplots, particularly the Joe/Iris rift, were quickly resolved and forgotten, almost like they never happened at all. And at some point, the series simply felt too mired in darkness. Character drama is great, but this series has always thrived on its ability to balance that drama with lighthearted adventure and that ever-important sense of hope. But Barry Allen became more morose than ever this year, and his misery seemed to envelop everyone around him. It didn’t help that The Flash was airing new episodes at the same time as fellow Arrow-verse/CW series Supergirl and Legends of Tomorrow, two shows that did a much better job of balancing character drama with lighthearted fun this year.Melissa Benoist and Grant Gustin in The Flash (2014)Once the reveal came and Savitar’s true endgame became apparent. The final five episodes went a long way towards reviving the Savitar conflict and building the character into someone worthy of Reverse-Flash and Zoom. That doesn’t necessarily excuse the writers for keeping their cards close to the vest for so long, nor their decision to focus on a third speedster villain when there are so many other worthy Flash villains who haven’t gotten their due yet.. But at the same time, the reveal did make it apparent why that prolonged secrecy was necessary. Moreover, the reveal wound up tying the season together, forcing Barry to confront his mistakes and his habit of being the architect of much of his own misery. For a villain who remained so aloof for much of the season, Savitar wound up becoming a surprisingly personal villain in the end.Grant Gustin in The Flash (2014)It also didn’t hurt that the later episodes placed so much emphasis on Caitlin’s fall from grace. I still maintain that Killer Frost should have been the central villain of Season 3. But even as a supporting player in the Savitar conflict, Caitlin added a great deal of dramatic weight to the series, with the writers banking heavily on the strong bond linking Barry, Cisco and Caitlin and the tragedy that arose when those bonds were shattered. This was also a valuable chance for Panabaker to play Killer Frost not as an overt villain, but someone torn between her twisted metahuman side and the good, loyal friend that still remained within.
As for the dark tone, it’s no coincidence that some of the best episodes this season were those that diverged from the Savitar conflict and focused on the lighter side of Barry’s world. The two-part Gorilla Grodd storyline was very entertaining, offering fans their first real glimpse of Earth-2’s Gorilla City and suggesting that Grodd would make for an excellent recurring villain if not for the sheer expense involved in bringing the character to life. The series even took the opportunity to throw in a little levity right before the end, as “Infantino Street” offered a wonderfully entertaining Flash/Captain Cold team-up before moving into the dramatic fallout of Savitar’s final attack.But nowhere did the series shine brighter this season than in the long-awaited musical episode/Supergirl crossover “Duet.” For one glorious hour, all the darkness fell away and Grant Gustin and Melissa Benoist were given free reign to sing, dance and just have fun playing superheroes. It certainly didn’t hurt that so many actors involved, including Victor Garber, John Barrowman and Jesse L. Martin have serious musical theater chops of their own. Not only did that episode strongly suggest that the musical crossover needs to become an annual tradition, it served as a crucial reminder of how enthralling The Flash can be when it focuses on the lighter side of Barry Allen’s life. Hopefully that episode, and the generally improved state of the series in the second half of Season 3, are signs of what to expect when the show returns in the fall.
The Flash: Season 3 is a clear step down from the show’s first two years. It’s not that there were many truly bad episodes this year, but more that the show struggled too long to find a compelling status quo and make the most of the fallout from “Flashpoint.” Some of the best episodes this season had little to do with the overarching Savitar conflict. Luckily, the show did find its footing in the final two months of Season 3, and that strong finish went a long way toward redeeming the season as a whole.

HALLOWEEN OF HORROR REVIEW: SLENDER MAN

Starring

Joey King (The Dark Knight Rises)
Julia Goldani Telles (The Affair)
Jaz Sinclair (Chilling Adventures of Sabrina)
Annalise Basso (Ouija: Origin of Evil)
Alex Fitzalan (The Society)
Taylor Richardson (Ruise)
Javier Botet (The Conjuring 2)
Kevin Chapman (THe Equalizer 2)
Michael Reilly Burke (Mars Attacks)

Joey King in Slender Man (2018)In a small town of Massachusetts high school, four best friends – Wren (Joey King), Hallie (Julia Goldani Telles), Chloe (Jaz Sinclair), and Katie (Annalise Basso) approach a group of guys to ask what they are doing that evening, but they tell the girls it’s top secret. Wren picks Hallie up that night to go to Katie’s house, along with Chloe. They hang out in her basement while her dad (Kevin Chapman) is passed out drunk. The girls then discuss that the guys are trying to summon the Slender Man (Javier Botet), a monster known through the internet that takes children. They find a video online to see how one can summon him. The girls close their eyes as they wait to hear the tolling of bells.Joey King and Julia Goldani Telles in Slender Man (2018)A week later, the girls are on a field trip with their class to a cemetery when Katie suddenly becomes spooked by something in the trees. After a while, she disappears without a trace, and her whole class is left there for hours until the police show up to begin searching for her themselves. Hallie is in her room with her sister Lizzie (Taylor Richardson) when they hear a thumping sound coming from downstairs. They get frightened, and Hallie goes to check it out. It’s Katie’s dad, drunk and asking if Katie is with Hallie. He gets mad, accusing Hallie of getting Katie into some occult business, and he tries to attack Hallie. The police arrive, and Katie’s dad is arrested, just as Hallie’s parents are outside and her father is yelling at him.Javier Botet and Alex Fitzalan in Slender Man (2018)Hallie goes with Wren and Chloe to Katie’s house to investigate. Wren distracts Katie’s dad while the other two sneak in from the back. They go into Katie’s room and take her laptop. After they leave, they look into the laptop and find videos of others that have encountered Slender Man. The girls read Katie’s messages and see that she was talking to someone with the handle “AleeyCat93”. Katie had been messaging her about how to deal with Slender Man. Hallie then talks to AleeyCat93 again to ask what they can do to get Katie back, and she responds that they must give up something they hold near and dear to them.Javier Botet and Julia Goldani Telles in Slender Man (2018)The girls go into the woods to give up personal items to Slender Man. Wren has been doing research on Slender Man, and she tells the other two to put on blindfolds and to not take them off even if they hear something. Sure enough, Chloe takes hers off, and she runs off screaming when she thinks she hears Slender Man. She runs until she actually comes into contact with him. When Hallie and Wren find her, Chloe appears too calm and claims she just lost a shoe. Soon, Chloe stops coming to class. At home, she sees a video on her phone from the point-of-view of someone going through her house. Slender Man appears in her room and starts to choke her, but when she looks in the mirror, her own hands are on her throat. Wren and Hallie later visit Chloe’s house, and she her eyes appears sunken. She has gone mad because of Slender Man.Julia Goldani Telles in Slender Man (2018)Wren goes to the library to try and find more information on Slender Man. The lights go out and she is alone. She turns on the flashlight on her phone and sees Slender Man lurking in the shadows. He goes near her and touches her, causing Wren’s face to disappear. She runs until she stumbles into one of the library employees, and she appears normal once more. Hallie is approached by her crush Tom (Alex Fitzalan) to see if she wants to hang out. While he talks to her, Hallie thinks she sees Slender Man in the bushes. Wren and Hallie have an argument over Hallie hanging out with Tom and avoiding their Slender Man issue. Hallie goes to Tom’s house that night where they try to hook up, but Hallie gets freaked out by nightmarish visions of Slender Man. At Hallie’s house, Lizzie suffers a major panic attack and is hospitalized. She yells to Hallie “He has no face!”, meaning she has seen Slender Man as well. Hallie looks into Lizzie’s laptop and sees that Wren took her into the woods to make contact with Slender Man.Julia Goldani Telles in Slender Man (2018)Hallie goes to Wren’s house to confront her. The door is open so she goes up to Wren’s room and finds a bunch of information that she gathered on Slender Man’s victims. One of them that was driven insane was named Allison Riley – AleeyCat93. Hallie finds Wren about to jump out the window, but Hallie pulls her back inside. Wren feels guilty for what happened to Lizzie, but she tells Hallie that Lizzie came to her with interest in Slender Man. Wren tells Hallie that he doesn’t want their stuff, he wants them. Slender Man then pulls Wren through her window with his tentacles. Hallie runs into the woods to face Slender Man herself. When she sees the creature, she tells him to take her so that Lizzie can be okay. Slender Man tries to grab her, but she runs for it. He uses his tentacles to move around like a spider before he grabs Hallie and pulls her toward him. He starts to turn into a tree, and Hallie becomes fused to the tree until there is nothing left of her. Lizzie wakes up in the hospital screaming for Hallie. She is left to reflect on what has happened to her sister and her friends.Julia Goldani Telles in Slender Man (2018)Slender Man is okay. Basic formula you’ve seen before in these cheap horror movies. It’s not scary, nor is it bad enough to be enjoyable in that sense. Surprisingly some of the cinematography looks good and there’s some interesting surrealist moments, but the acting is okay at best and the dialogue is sometimes quite cringey. “Scares” are mostly just jump scares and a lot of the scenes felt the same.Joey King in Slender Man (2018)The source material is hard enough to work with so those familiar with Slendy’s origins will find this strangely adapted. Slender works more for creepypastas and video games, not so much cinematically. Far from the worst horror movie made, but definitely disappointing, although what would you expect from a Slender Man movie coming out in 2018? Some will hate this movie because of how bland it is, and I could totally understand that, but from a more objective perspective, it’s a functional film that lacks spirit.

REVIEW: NEW GIRL – SEASON 1

Starring

Zooey Deschanel (Bridge to Terabithia)
Jake Johnson (Jurrasic World)
Max Greenfield (Veronica Mars)
Damon Wayans, Jr. (Let’s be Cops)
Lamorne Morris (Game Night)
Hannah Simone (Oldboy)

Zooey Deschanel and Hannah Simone in New Girl (2011)

RECURRING / NOTABLE GUEST CAST

Mary Elizabeth Ellis (Santa Clarita Diet)
Gillian Vigman (The Hangover)
Ian Wolterstorff (The Neighbours)
Lauren Dair Owens (Astrid Clover)
Katie Cassidy (Black Christmas)
Natasha Lyonne (American Pie)
Lake Bell (In a World…)
Justin Long (Jeepers Creepers)
Eva Amurri Martino (Saved!)
Michaela Watkins (Casual)
Stephen Amell (Arrow)
Blake Garrett Rosenthal (Mom)
Lizzy Caplan (Cloverfield)
Rachael Harris (Lucifer)
June Diane Raphael (Year One)
Kali Hawk (Bridesmaids)
Clyde Kusatsu (Midway)
Jeff Kober (Buffy: TVS)
Clark Duke (Two and a Half Men)
Ryan Kwanten (True Blood)
Joey King (The Conjuring)
Randall Park (The Interview)
Dermot Mulroney (Young Guns)
Martin Starr (Spider-Man: Homecoming)
Natalie Dreyfuss (The Originals)
Katrina Bowden (Piranha 3DD)
Rizwan Manji (The Dictator)
Annalise Basso (Ouija: Orin of Evil)
Rebecca Reid (I Live With Models)
Thomas Lennon (17 Again)

Your desire to watch New Girl is probably predicated by Zooey Deschanel, her cutesy fringe and massive possum eyes but rest assured there is a lot more to this show than that. If you aren’t already a Zooey fan please don’t let the somewhat annoying portmanteau “Adorkable” put you off seeing this great show.In my opinion the first few episodes of the show’s run are a little weak, but as season 1 continues this show goes from strength to strength as the writers seem to be figuring out what works and getting rid of what doesn’t. If you have seen the first few episodes on TV and are not sure if this show is for you I would definitely recommend sticking with it as the characters become less cartoonish and more fleshed out. While there are lots of comedies about people in their 20s and early 30s struggling with quarter-life crises, this show find a fresh approach to these issues that both men and women of this age in particular should enjoy.Zooey Deschanel, Max Greenfield, Jake Johnson, and Ian Wolterstorff in New Girl (2011)There is lots of cringe-inducing humour and the show benefits from a great deal of physical humour and sight-gags as well as nerdy rapid-fire verbal comedy (which is my favourite!). I would definitely recommend getting this show on DVD, as it is incredibly rewatchable. Not only will you quickly come to really enjoy `hanging-out’ with these characters but sometimes the jokes and quips come so quickly you will definitely pick up on jokes you missed during the first watch.Zooey Deschanel, Max Greenfield, and Jake Johnson in New Girl (2011)The actors are all excellent and are perfectly cast in their different roles bringing a real warmth to the relationships between the main characters. Zooey is excellent as Jess and is a really refreshing comic lead. It is great to see a quirky, laid-back female character as so often actresses in sit-coms are relegated to being the nagging girlfriend/wife or to just commenting on the funny situations the male characters get themselves in to. Not only is Jess a witty character but also her lack of tact and weirdness are frequently sources of humour, as are the gaffs of her three roommates. Schmit is the break out character of the show for me. While in the first episode he comes across as an arrogant, shallow meat-head he quickly becomes more nuanced and sensitive and in my opinion is far and away one of the funniest characters on TV.

REVIEW: INDEPENDENCE DAY: RESURGENCE

INDEPENDEDNCE DAY 2 3D

CAST

Liam Hemsworth (The Hunger Games)
Jeff Goldblum (Jurassic Park)
Jessie Usher (Almost Christmas)
Bill Pullman (The Grudge)
Maika Monroe (The 5th Wave)
Sela Ward (Gone Girl)
William Fichtner (The Dark Knight)
Judd Hirsch (Tower Heist)
Corin Nemec (Stargate SG.1)
Brent Spiner (Star Trek: TNG)
Vivica A. Fox (Idle Hands)
Angelababy (Hitman: Agent 47)
Robert Loggia (Psycho II)
Joey King (The Dark Knight Rises)
Chin Han (Arrow)
Ryan Cartwright (Bones)
Mckenna Grace (I, Tonya)

Twenty years after a devastating alien invasion, the United Nations has set up the Earth Space Defense (ESD), a global defense and research program to reverse-engineer alien technology and serve as Earth’s early warning system against extraterrestrial threats. The main defense force utilizes equipment salvaged from the remains of the alien forces and operates military bases built on the Moon, Mars, and Rhea. The Area 51 base in Nevada has become the ESD Headquarters.The world is preparing to celebrate the twentieth anniversary of their survival after the invasion. In the provincial African state Republique Nationale d’Umbutu, ESD Director David Levinson meets with Dr. Catherine Marceaux and warlord Dikembe Umbutu, who lead him to an intact alien destroyer. Aboard the ship, they discover that the alien occupants sent a distress call to their home planet before being defeated. Furthermore, Umbutu, former U.S. President Thomas Whitmore, and Dr. Brackish Okun (who awakens at Area 51 after a twenty-year coma)—all of them once telepathically linked with the aliens ever since their personal encounters with them—have of late been receiving strange visions of an unidentifiable spherical object.An unidentified spherical ship, with design and technology different from that of the aliens who attacked 20 years earlier, emerges from a wormhole near the ESD’s Moon defense headquarters. Levinson believes that it belongs to another extraterrestrial race that might be benevolent and urges the world’s Security Council not to attack, but they vote to shoot it down regardless. Against the Council’s orders, pilots Jake Morrison and Charlie Miller pick up Levinson, Marceaux, Umbutu, and U.S. federal controller Floyd Rosenberg on a space tug, and they head for the wreckage near the Van de Graaff crater, where they recover a container. An alien mothership 3,000 miles (4,800 km) in diameter suddenly emerges and destroys Earth’s planetary defenses before approaching the planet. The space tug is caught in the mothership’s gravitational pull, which lifts objects from across Asia, causing massive damage on its path. The debris falls all over Europe, where the tug manages to escape before heading on to Area 51. The mothership lands over the north of the Atlantic Ocean, destroying cities on the Eastern Seaboard, and begins drilling a hole through the bottom of the ocean floor to harvest the Earth’s core for fuel, which will destroy both its magnetic field and atmosphere in the process, killing all life.Whitmore’s group interrogates one of the aliens held in captivity from the war, who has recently awoken from a 20-year catatonic state. The ESD learns that the aliens exist in eusociality and that one of their colossal Queens is commanding the invasion. Levinson hypothesizes that, if they kill the supervising Queen, her forces will cease drilling and retreat. An ESD aerial fleet, led by Captain Dylan Dubrow-Hiller, stages a counterattack on the Queen’s chamber, but they are caught in a trap within the mothership, which nearly wipes out the entire unit. In Area 51, Okun opens the container and releases a giant white sphere of virtual intelligence; indeed benevolent and more advanced than the attacking aliens. It reveals that its mission is to evacuate survivors from worlds targeted by the aliens, whom it calls “Harvesters”, and that it has gathered a viable resistance force against the Harvesters, hidden in a refugee planet at a location unknown to the Harvesters. Despite being the last of its kind, the sphere implores the humans to destroy it in order to prevent the Harvesters from discovering the location of the planet where it has hidden the survivors. In the mothership, Dylan, Jake, and other survivors manage to escape by hijacking enemy attack craft, and pursue the Queen’s personal ship, which is heading to Area 51 with its convoy.Knowing the Queen has become aware of the sphere’s presence, the ESD forces hide it in an isolation chamber and use a decoy to lure the Queen’s ship to a trap filled with fusion weapons. Against his daughter Patricia’s wishes, Whitmore volunteers to pilot the space tug on the suicide mission, leading the warship to the trap and detonating the bombs, thus sacrificing himself and destroying the ship. However, the Queen survives by using an energy shield on her biomechanical suit. Several fighters fire at the Queen, but the shield protects her.However, Patricia manages to fire through a gap in the shield when the Queen prepares to fire her own gun, thereby disabling the Queen’s shield, allowing Dylan’s arriving party to kill the Queen before she can take the sphere. With the Queen dead, all the remaining alien fighters are rendered inactive, while the mothership stops drilling and retreats to space. Okun reveals that the sphere has asked humanity to lead its resistance and has offered the humans new technology in preparation for a counterattack to assault the Harvesters’ home world and take the fight to the aliens.The action is decent. The jeopardy level is good. What it can’t quite offer is the shock of the new that the original gave us. But for fun science fiction action blockbuster escapism, it’s not bad. So it’s an entertaining watch.

REVIEW: THE CONJURING

 

CAST

Vera Farmiga (Bates Motel)
Patrick Wilson (Watchmen)
Lili Taylor (American Crime)
Ron Livingston (Swingers)
Shanley Caswell (Detention)
Joey King (The Dark Knight Rises)
Mackenzie Foy (Interstellar)
John Brotherton (Fuller House)
Hayley McFarland (Lie To Me)

In 1971, Roger and Carolyn Perron move into a dilapidated farmhouse in Harrisville, Rhode Island with their five daughters Andrea, Nancy, Christine, Cindy, and April. During the first day, their move goes smoothly, though their dog Sadie refuses to enter the house and one of the daughters finds a boarded up entrance to a cellar.
Batman-Bad-Blood-640x360A few paranormal events happen within the first few nights, including all of the clocks stopping at exactly 3:07 AM and Sadie being found dead in the back yard. One night, while they are both in bed, Christine feels a tugging on her leg, which she first expects to be Nancy, but is a spirit only she can see. She begins to scream and tells her family that the spirit wants the family dead. Carolyn is folding laundry in the night when she hears clapping in the hallway. When she goes to investigate, all the picture frames along the wall fall and shatter on the floor. She goes downstairs following laughter and finds the basement door opening slowly. When she goes inside to investigate, she’s trapped there by the spirit who claps beside her as her matchstick flickers out. At the same moment, Andrea and Cindy are attacked by a spirit on top of the wardrobe.
MV5BMjE0OTIwMDA5MV5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTcwNjY2MTQ3OQ@@._V1_SX1500_CR0,0,1500,999_AL_Carolyn decides to contact noted paranormal investigators Ed and Lorraine Warren, who agree to take on the case. The Warrens conduct an initial investigation and conclude that the house may require an exorcism, but they need authorization from the Catholic Church and further evidence before they can proceed. While researching the history of the house, Ed and Lorraine discover that the house once belonged to an accused witch, Bathsheba (a relative of Mary Towne Eastey), who sacrificed her week-old child to the devil and killed herself in 1863 after cursing all who would take her land. The property was once more than 200 acres but has since been divided up into smaller parcels. They find reports of numerous murders and suicides in houses that have since been built upon parcels that were once part of the property.MV5BODE1NjMzODE0OV5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTgwNDExNDQyNzE@._V1_UX477_CR0,0,477,268_AL_Ed and Lorraine return to the house to gather evidence to receive authorization for the exorcism, placing cameras and bells around the house. A bell goes off near Cindy after they finish setting up. They catch a glimpse of Cindy sleep walking into Andrea’s room, and from the EVPs coming from the radio, they hear a spirit luring Cindy into the wardrobe, where she reveals a secret passage inside. Lorraine enters the passage and falls through the floorboards into the cellar, where she sees the spirit of a woman whom Bathsheba had long ago possessed and used to kill her child. Another of the Perron children, Nancy, is violently dragged by her hair along the floor by an unseen force.Batman-Bad-Blood-640x360The Perron family decides to take refuge at a hotel while Ed and Lorraine take their evidence to the Church to arrange an exorcism. While the Warrens are on their way home, their daughter Judy is attacked in their own home by the spirit of Bathsheba, along with the haunted Annabelle doll from the Warrens’ previous case, though Ed arrives in time to prevent her from being harmed. Carolyn, now possessed by the spirit of Bathsheba, takes two of her daughters, Christine and April, and drives back to the house. Ed, Lorraine, Roger, their two assistants, and a police officer rush to the house where they find Carolyn in the cellar trying to stab Christine with scissors. After subduing Carolyn and tying her to a chair, Ed decides to perform the exorcism himself. Though Carolyn escapes and attempts to kill April, who is hiding under the floorboards, Lorraine is able to temporarily distract the possessed Carolyn from killing her daughter by reminding her of a special memory she shared with her family, allowing Ed to complete the exorcism, saving Carolyn and April and lifting Bathsheba’s curse forever.
MV5BMjE0OTIwMDA5MV5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTcwNjY2MTQ3OQ@@._V1_SX1500_CR0,0,1500,999_AL_Returning home, Lorraine tells Ed that the priest whom they sought for the exorcism had called back and left a message, saying that he had gained approval from the Catholic Church to perform it. In addition to this, he also has another case for them to investigate on Long Island. When they leave, the music box that April had found opens and plays music as the camera lingers on it. Once it stops, the screen cuts to black.MV5BODE1NjMzODE0OV5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTgwNDExNDQyNzE@._V1_UX477_CR0,0,477,268_AL_Based  on a haunting investigated by real-life paranormal investigators Ed & Lorraine Warren whose body of work also inspired the Amityville Horror. The Conjuring” is an exceptional piece of film that pulls all the right stops to frighten the audience, leaving a lasting impression on your mind as well the recently tired genre of horror.

 

REVIEW: AVENGING ANGEL

 CAST

Kevin Sorbo (Julia X)
Nick Chinlund (Training Day)
Cynthia Watros (Lost)
Richard Lee Jackson (Bring It On Again)
Lorin McCraley (True Blood)
Wings Hauser (The Insider)
Joey King (The Dark Knight Rises)
Sam Sorbo (Andromeda)
Willow Greer (The Grinch)

Preacher Kevin Sorbo’s family is killed by evil town boss Wings Hauser’s hired goons, after a family of homesteaders take refuge in his church. Not wanting to soil their memory by seeking vengeance, he instead becomes a bounty hunter in order to sate his desire for revenge, that is until he finds a real reason to take on the despicable Hauser and his villainous cronies. A religion friendly movie, this is a bit familiar but it’s well written with lots of comic book style action. Sorbo is surprisingly good as a western hero and Hauser is great too as an urbane, educated heavy.

In all, Avenging Angel is quite enjoyable but the climax is a little too tame. The final scene between Hauser and Sorbo is good though.

 

 

 

 

REVIEW: THE DARK KNIGHT RISES

CAST

Christian Bale (The Machinist)
Gary Oldman (Robocop)
Tom Hardy (Inception)
Joseph Gordon-Levitt (Looper)
Anne Hathaway (Interstellar)
Marion Cotillard (La Vie En Rose)
Morgan Freeman (High Crimes)
Michael Caine (Quills)
Matthew Modine (Full Metal Jacket)
Aidan Gillen (Game of Thrones)
Nestor Carbonell (Ringer)
Juno Temple (Horns)
Josh Stewart (The Punisher)
William Devane (Lois & Clark)
Joey King (Oz The Great and Powerful)
Liam Neeson (Taken)
Cillian Murphy (Red Eye)
Desmond Harrington (Wrong Turn)
Ben Mendelsohn (Rady Player One)
Burn Gorman (Game of Thrones)
Daniel Sunjata (Gone)
Thomas Lennon (17 Again)
Glen Powell (Scream Queens)
Ian Bohen (Young Hercules)
Noel Gugliemi (Training Day)
Patrick Cox (2 Broke Girls)
Wade Williams (Ganster Squad)
Josh Pence (Battleship)
Christopher Judge (Staragte SG.1)
Michael Papajohn (Spider-Man)

The story takes place eight years after the events of the second film in the Christopher Nolan Batman film series. The Dent Act, dedicated to the late district attorney Harvey Dent, grants the Gotham City Police Department powers which nearly eradicate organized crime. Police Commissioner James Gordon (Gary Oldman) feels increasingly guilty for covering up Dent’s crimes. He writes a resignation speech confessing the truth but decides not to use it.

Bruce Wayne (Christian Bale) has become a recluse, broken by the death of Rachel Dawes. Batman, whom Bruce deems no longer necessary, has disappeared. Cat burglar Selina Kyle (Anne Hathaway) obtains Bruce’s fingerprints from his home and kidnaps congressman Byron Gilley (Brett Cullen). She hands the fingerprints to Phillip Stryver (Burn Gorman), an assistant to Bruce’s business rival John Daggett (Ben Mendelsohn). In return, she asks him to have her criminal record erased. Stryver double-crosses Selina, but she uses the Gilley’s phone to alert the police to their location. Gordon and the police arrive to find the congressman, and then pursue Stryver’s men into the sewers while Selina flees. Bane (Tom Hardy), a masked mercenary, captures Gordon and finds his resignation speech. Gordon escapes and is found by John Blake (Joseph Gordon-Levitt), a patrol officer. Gordon promotes Blake to detective, with Blake reporting directly to him. Bane attacks the Gotham Stock Exchange, using Bruce’s fingerprints in a transaction that bankrupts Bruce. Alfred Pennyworth (Michael Caine) reveals that Rachel had intended to marry Dent before she died. Alfred then resigns in an attempt to convince Bruce to move on from being Batman.

Wayne Enterprises is unprofitable after Bruce discontinued his fusion reactor project when he learned that the core could be weaponized. Fearing that Daggett, Bane’s employer, would gain access to the reactor, Bruce asks Wayne Enterprises board member Miranda Tate (Marion Cotillard) to take over his company. Catwoman agrees to take Batman to Bane but instead leads him into Bane’s trap. Bane reveals that he intends to fulfill Ra’s al Ghul’s (Liam Neeson) mission to destroy Gotham with the League of Shadows remnant. He engages Batman and delivers a crippling blow to his back, before taking him to a foreign, well-like prison where escape is virtually impossible. There, the inmates tell Bruce the story of Ra’s al Ghul’s child, born in the prison and cared for by a fellow prisoner before escaping—the only prisoner to have ever done so. Bruce assumes the child to be Bane.
Bane lures Gotham police underground and traps them there. He kills Mayor Anthony Garcia (Nestor Carbonell) and forces Dr. Leonid Pavel (Alon Abutbul), a Russian nuclear physicist he kidnapped from Uzbekistan six months prior, to convert the reactor core into a nuclear bomb. Bane uses the bomb to hold the city hostage and isolate Gotham from the world. Using Gordon’s stolen speech, Bane reveals the cover-up of Dent’s crimes and releases the prisoners of Blackgate Penitentiary, initiating anarchy. The wealthy and powerful have their property expropriated, are dragged from their homes, and are given show trials presided over by Dr. Jonathan Crane (Cillian Murphy), where all are sentenced to death.

After spending months recovering and re-training, Bruce escapes from the prison. He enlists Selina, Blake, Tate, Gordon, and Lucius Fox (Morgan Freeman) to help stop the bomb’s detonation. He hands the Batpod to Selina, tasking her with helping people evacuate and saving herself. She asks him to come along, leaving Gotham to its fate, but he refuses. While the police and Bane’s forces clash, Batman overpowers Bane. He interrogates Bane for the bomb’s trigger, but Tate intervenes and stabs him. She reveals herself to be Talia al Ghul, Ra’s al Ghul’s daughter. Bane is her protector, who aided her escape from the prison. She uses the detonator, but Gordon has successfully approached the bomb and blocks her signal, preventing remote detonation. Talia leaves to find the bomb while Bane prepares to kill Batman, but Catwoman returns on the Badpod and kills Bane. Batman and Catwoman pursues Talia, hoping to bring the bomb back to the reactor where it can be stabilized. Talia’s truck crashes, but she remotely destroys the reactor before dying. With no way to stop the detonation, Batman uses the Bat to haul the bomb over the bay, where it detonates. In the aftermath, Batman is presumed dead and is honored as a hero. With Bruce Wayne also presumed dead, Wayne Manor becomes an orphanage, and Bruce’s remaining estate is left to Alfred. Fox discovers that Bruce had fixed the Bat’s autopilot, Gordon finds the Bat-Signal refurbished and Alfred sees Bruce and Selina together while visiting Florence. John Blake resigns from the police force and inherits the Batcave.Christian Bale in The Dark Knight Rises (2012)A great end to the Dark Knight trilogy, this along with the first two will always remain three of my favorite films.