CHRISTMAS 2017 REVIEW: SLEEPY HOLLOW – THE GOLEM

CAST

Tom Mison (venus)
Nicole Beharie (The Good Wife)
Orlando Jones (Bedazzled)
Katia Winter (Arena)

GUEST CAST

John Noble (Lord of The Rings)
Jill Marie Jones (Ash vs Evil Dead)

“The Golem” had some deeply unsettling moments, a running undercurrent of humor, answers to vital questions and some straight-ahead scares.   All these disparate elements mixed together comfortably, as they have since the pilot, and it looks so simple.  But the fact of the matter is that what Sleepy Hollow has been able to pull off in this first season is remarkable, as it has kept its high-degree-of-difficulty tone while never losing sight of the characters that make us come back each week.  As if there were any doubt, it began and ended with the most important relationship on the show, as Abbie and Ichabod worked through his emotions about having a son and shared the anxiety about Moloch coming for them.   The groundwork that the writers and actors have done made these two characters seem naturally close as they get to know one another better with every week.  The wonderful opening scene (and Crane’s explanation of the origins of eggnog) served as a lovely reminder that even as their team might expand it’s all about the two of them.

Of course, in between those bookends we had the marvelous John Noble returning as Henry the Sin Eater.  You would think that Noble showing up to guest star would overwhelm the proceedings and be desperately missed when he’s gone, but instead he fits right in with this show.  Here we found out that Henry isn’t just a one-trick pony, as his talents extend to sensing sin and providing valuable exposition on the miserable childhood of Ichabod and Katrina’s son.  Still, the coolest bit for me was his making the librarian with ease: “Lying is a sin. I can sense a sin a mile away.”

Meanwhile, Frank went back to the city to visit his daughter.  It might be that his story seems drab compared to the wild stuff going on elsewhere, but at the moment his ex-wife and daughter feel more like plot devices than actual characters.  It’s not something I’m all that concerned about, given this show’s brief track record, but tonight they were simply time-fillers to get us to that super creepy vendor in the park.  That last “we have one, too” delivered by the possessed woman might have been the freakiest thing in an episode that also featured a gigantic killer doll. As for the doll itself, they did a great job showing the violence he was capable of, and tying it into Jeremy’s rage made it all the more disturbing.


This was a Sleepy Hollow episode that covered a lot of ground and also managed to be alternately creepy, disturbing, scary and funny.

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CHRISTMAS 2017 REVIEW: LEGENDS OF TOMORROW – BEEBO THE GOD OF WAR

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MAIN CAST

Brandon Routh (Chuck)
Caity Lotz (The Pact)
Franz Drameh (Edge of Tomorrow)
Maisie Richardson-Sellers (The Originals)
Amy Louise Pemberton (Suspence)
Tala Ashe (Odyssey)
Nick Zano (2 Broke Girls)
Dominic Purcell (A Fighting Man)

RECURRING / NOTABLE GUEST STARS

Neal McDonough (Paul Blart Mall Cop 2)
Wentworth Miller (Prison Break)
Courtney Ford (Supernatural)
Graeme McComb (UnReal)
John Noble (Sleepy Hollow)
Jes Macallan (Mistresses)
Thor Knai (Crazy Ex-Girlfriend)
Katia Winter (Arena)
Emily Tennant (Mr. Young)
Hiro Kanagawa (Heores Reborn)
Matt Ryan (Constantine)

I’m sure most of us were expecting a very glum, downbeat midseason finale as the Legends mourned Professor Stein’s passing and struggled to get back into the time travel groove. So it comes as some surprise that this episode wound up being one of the most overtly silly and slapstick in Legends history. And this is the same season where the team reenacted the events of E.T. with a baby Dominator. It’s a real testament to the power of this show, the skill of the writing staff and the chemistry of the cast that such a goofy episode also managed to hit home in such a profound way.Granted, maybe I should have expected a goofy approach to this episode based on the title alone. “Beebo the God of War” certainly didn’t fail to live up to its name. The idea of a group of Vikings worshiping the Arrowverse version of Tickle Me Elmo and rewriting the course of North American history is just bizarre and stupid and wonderful in a way only Legends can really pull off. The Beebo doll and the Viking trappings proved to be an endless source of amusement here, while at the same time serving as a clever way to briefly bring Graeme McComb’s younger Martin Stein back into the picture.There were plenty of great character moments along the way as that conflict grew progressively more chaotic. Naturally, this was a big week for Jax, as he mourns the loss of his partner/father figure and wrestles with his guilt. Ultimately, this felt like a necessary coda to the rest of Season 3’s Stein material. It wrapped up the character’s journey on a happier, more uplifting note. It allowed McComb one last hurrah as a pitch-perfect stand-in for Garber. And it helped Jax move past his guilt and embrace the next phase of his own journey. Seeing Jax bid farewell to his team/family was extremely bittersweet.Above and beyond Jax’s struggles and young Stein’s Back to the Future dilemma, this episode really succeeded in celebrating the team’s status as a dysfunctional but close-knit family. Everyone mourned Stein’s death in their own way, resulting in a steady stream of hilarious and somber moments. Even Agent Sharpe was integrated into the conflict in a fun way. And if it wasn’t obvious that there’s a spark between Sharpe and Sara before, it definitely is now.Wentworth Miller’s return really helped speed things along this week. “Leo” Snart is a real blast – even more entertaining here than he was in “Crisis on Earth-X.” This episode reminded me how much the team dynamic lost when the original Snart was killed off in Season 1. Leo’s antics are a hoot, but the revamped Captain Cold/Heat Wave relationship proved very poignant as well. I’m thrilled that Miller, like Garber, is being given an opportunity to really have fun with his character before saying his final Arrowverse farewell.This episode proved very reminiscent of “Return of the Mack” in how an initially goofy storyline took a dark turn with the appearance of Damien Darhk. The fact that Grainne Godfree was a lead writer on both episodes is probably no coincidence. Fortunately, “Beebo the God of War” avoided falling victim to formula. The appearance of Darhk and his daughter merely served to add stakes to what would otherwise have been a fairly straightforward conflict. And it’s not like Darhk didn’t bring his own brand of hilarity to the table. His tacky Odin costume was simply divine (especially the wig). And you really have to appreciate those little stylistic flourishes, like the final showdown that played out more as a series of Rashomon-style daydreams than a straightforward battle.This episode was a perfect way to cap off 2017 and deliver the final word on Martin Stein.

REVIEW: THE LOST WORLD – SEASON 1-3

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MAIN CAST

Peter McCauley (Herecules: TLJ)
Rachel Blakely (Neighbours)
Jennifer O’Dell (Nip/Tuck)
William Snow (Dead End)
David Orth (2012)
Michael Sinelnikoff (300)

RECURRING / NOTABLE GUEST CAST

Lauara Vasquez (The Beast)
Lara Cox (The Marine 2)
Jerome Ehlers (Water Rats)
Robert Coleby (Chopper Squad)
Lani John Tupu (Farscape)
George Henare (The Dead Lands)
William DeVry (Earth: Final Conflict)
Wayne Pygram (Farscape)
John Bach (Lord of The Rings)
Grant Bowler (Ugly Betty)
Nicholas Hammond (Stealth)
Nicholas Bell (Mighty Morphin Power Rangers: The Movie)
Gigi Edgley (The Circuit)
Jane Badler (V)
Michala Banas (Winners & Losers)
Jeremy Callaghan (Young Hercules)
Alan Dale (Ugly Betty)
Marton Csokas (The Equalizer)
Jessica Napier (McLeod’s Daughter)
Simone Kessell (Terra Nova)
John Noble (Sleepy Hollow)

A spin off of a 1998 TV-movie, the series follows the adventures of an early 20th century party of explorers, stranded on a mysterious plateau in South America where multi-dimensional ‘rifts’ have allowed animals and cultures from past and future to co-exist. Led by brilliant Professor George Challenger (the wonderful Peter McCauley), a bearded, wild-haired scientist who thrives on facing the unknown, the party consists of handsome big game hunter Lord John Roxton (Australian actor/model Will Snow), mysterious benefactress Marguerite Krux (beautiful Australian actress Rachel Blakely), American journalist Ned Malone (Canadian actor David Orth), and elderly scientist, Professor Arthur Summerlee (Michael Sinelnikoff, whose character would ‘die’ by season’s end). The TV-movie introduced a new character to the mix, blond ‘native girl’, Veronica, whose scientist parents had disappeared eleven years earlier. Portrayed by “Beverly Hills 90210” alumni Jennifer O’Dell, the voluptuous ‘savage’, scantily dressed, raised the level of sex appeal for the program immediately, and quickly became a fan favourite.Working out of Veronica’s huge tree house (, the characters would, each week, encounter everything from dinosaurs, to sophisticated cultures practicing human sacrifice, to demons and wizards, to nearly any kind of bizarre civilization one might imagine. Glimpses of each character’s past allowed the cast to ‘grow’, and become more interesting, each season, and provided enjoyable subplots; Lord Roxton falls in love with the greedy, but lovely Marguerite, but her past includes espionage and other unsavory activities, so she only gradually accepts his advances; Veronica, drawn to Ned, must deal with his moodiness  and his sense of wanderlust. It is a tribute to the writers and talented cast that the subplots never sank into mini-soap operas!Australian tax laws nearly sabotaged the series’ third season; Canadian Orth and American O’Dell were forced to limit their appearances because of their being non-Australians. So Ned Malone was often away on a ‘identity-crisis’-fueled quest, and Veronica, whisked away by a runaway balloon, returned later in the season with a pendant her mother had left for her with a distant tribe, and new responsibilities as ‘Protector’ of the plateau. A new character was introduced, a wise-cracking girl named Finn, from a hundred years in the future, who was transported back to the plateau by a Challenger invention. Portrayed by 24-year old Australian actress Lara Cox, she was a survivor of a radiation-poisoned Earth, and was quickly ‘adopted’ by the scientist, who made it his mission to prevent her future world from happening.

Despite very respectable ratings, “The Lost World” was canceled after the third season (with a cliffhanger ending to end ALL cliffhanger endings!), because of spiraling production costs. The Lost World may never please Doyle ‘purists’, but it was certainly a most enjoyable guilty pleasure.

REVIEW: THE LORD OF THE RINGS: THE RETURN OF THE KING

 

CAST

Elijah Wood (Sin City)
Ian McKellen (X-Men)
Viggo Mortensen (Eastern Promises)
Sean Astin (The Goonies)
Liv Tyler (Super)
Cate Blanchett (Babel)
John Rhys-Davies (Beyond The Mask)
Billy Boyd (Seed of Chucky)
Dominic Monaghan (Lost)
Bernard Hill (True Crime)
Orlando Bloom (Kingdom of Heaven)
Christopher Lee (Star Wars Episode II & III)
Hugo Weaving (The Matrix)
Miranda Otto (I, Frankenstein)
David Wenham (Van Helsing)
Brad Dourif (Curse of Chucky)
Karl Urban (Dredd)
Andy Serkis (Rise of The Planet of The Apes)
John Noble (Sleepy Hollow)
Ian Holm (Alien)
Marton Csokas (Xena: Warrior Princess)
Bruce Spence (Mad Max 2)
Bruce Hopkins (Power Rangers Ninja Storm)
Ian Hughes (Hercules: TLJ)
Bruce Phillips (Power Rangers RPM)
Joel Tobeck (Ash vs Evil Dead)
Stephen Ure (Xena: Warrior Princess)
Jed Brophy (The Hobbit)
Craig Parker (Reign)

Gandalf leads Aragorn, Legolas, Gimli, and King Théoden to Isengard where they reunite with Merry and Pippin. With Saruman defeated, Gandalf retrieves Saruman’s palantír. Overcome by curiosity, Pippin steals a glance into the seeing-stone, and suffers a mental attack from Sauron himself. Gandalf deduces that Sauron will attack Gondor’s capital Minas Tirith, so he rides there to warn them, taking Pippin with him because Sauron thinks Pippin is the ring bearer.Meanwhile, Frodo Baggins and Samwise Gamgee are led by Gollum to Minas Morgul where they witness the Witch-king of Angmar leading an Orc army to drive Denethor’s younger son Faramir and his men from Osgiliath. At Gollum’s urging, the three begin climbing a precarious stair carved in the cliff face that will take them into Mordor via a ‘secret way’. But having overheard Gollum’s plot to regain the Ring, Sam keeps a suspicious eye on him. In Gondor, Pippin follows Gandalf’s instructions and secretly lights the beacon to signal Théoden to assemble the Rohirrim and come to Gondor’s aid.While helping Théoden gather his forces, Aragorn is approached by Elrond who says Arwen is dying. After seeing a vision of her son she refused to leave Middle Earth. Elrond then gives Aragorn the sword Andúril, Isildur’s sword Narsil reforged, so he can reclaim his birthright while gaining reinforcements from the Dead Men of Dunharrow. Joined by Legolas and Gimli, Aragorn travels to the Paths of the Dead, recruiting the Army of the Dead with the promise to release them from their curse once they fulfil their oath to Isildur.Faramir is gravely wounded after a futile effort to retake Osgiliath, and believing his son to be dead, Denethor falls into madness. Gandalf is left to command the city defences against the Orc army led by Gothmog. But as Gothmog’s forces eventually force their way into the city, Denethor tries to kill himself and Faramir on a pyre. Pippin alerts Gandalf and they save Faramir, but Denethor leaps to his death from the top of Minas Tirith just before Théoden and the Rohirrim arrive. Initially the Rohirrim have the advantage at the Battle of the Pelennor Fields, but are eventually overwhelmed by the Oliphaunt-riding Haradrim while the Witch-king mortally wounds Théoden. Though Théoden’s niece Éowyn, having posed as a male soldier, battles and slays the Witch-King with Merry’s help, Théoden dies of his wounds. Aragorn arrives with the Army of the Dead, they overcome the Orcs and win the battle. The Dead are released from their curse, and the wounded are tended to. Aragorn and the other captains of Men decide to lead all who can march upon the Black Gate as a distraction, so Frodo and Sam can get to Mount Doom.Meanwhile, Gollum manipulates Frodo into leaving Sam behind before they arrive at the tunnel leading to Mordor, and then tricks him into lair of the giant spider Shelob, who paralyses and binds Frodo. Sam arrives and drives Shelob away, but believing his friend to be dead takes Frodo’s sword Sting and The One Ring for safekeeping. When he sees Frodo’s body being taken by Orcs to Cirith Ungol he realises that Frodo is still alive, and gives chase. Sam rescues Frodo from the Orcs, and returns the Ring to him.Aragorn’s army draw out Sauron’s forces and empty Mordor, allowing the exhausted Hobbits to stagger to the volcano, but they’re attacked by Gollum when they reach Mount Doom. Frodo finally succumbs to the Ring’s power and claims it as his own, and refuses to destroy it. Gollum attacks Frodo and bites his finger off to reclaim the Ring, but Frodo fights back and knocks Gollum, who is holding the Ring, into the volcano. While Frodo holds onto the ledge for dear life, Sam manages to save him and both escape the volcano at the last second. The Ring and Sauron are both destroyed, causing a chain-reaction that consumes the mountain, topples Barad-dûr, and kills most of the fleeing Orcs as the ground crumbles beneath them. Gandalf flies in with eagles to rescue the Hobbits, who awaken later in Minas Tirith and are reunited with the surviving Fellowship members.Aragorn is crowned King of Gondor and takes Arwen as his queen. They, and all others present at his coronation, bow before Frodo and the Hobbits. The Hobbits then return to the Shire where Sam marries Rosie Cotton. Frodo, while happy for his friends, is unable to cope with the traumas of his journey, and departs Middle Earth for the Grey Havens with his uncle Bilbo, Gandalf, and the Elves. He leaves Sam the Red Book of Westmarch which details their adventures. Though saddened by Frodo’s departure, Sam is gladdened by the warm welcome he receives upon returning home.

This is one of the best series of all time, Fellowship Of The Ring still nicks it as my fave of the three movies if I was pushed to choose. You can’t really detract from what Peter Jackson has achieved with this film, Tolkien himself gave the film rights away for practically nothing, deeming the book impossible to translate to film. Peter Jackson proved him wrong and we now have a great trilogy of films that will stand the test of time.

REVIEW: THE LORD OF THE RINGS: THE TWO TOWERS

CAST

Elijah Wood (Sin City)
Ian McKellen (X-Men)
Viggo Mortensen (Eastern Promises)
Sean Astin (The Goonies)
Liv Tyler (Super)
Cate Blanchett (Babel)
John Rhys-Davies (Beyond The Mask)
Billy Boyd (Seed of Chucky)
Dominic Monaghan (Lost)
Bernard Hill (True Crime)
Orlando Bloom (Kingdom of Heaven)
Christopher Lee (Star Wars Episode II & III)
Hugo Weaving (The Matrix)
Miranda Otto (I, Frankenstein)
David Wenham (Van Helsing)
Brad Dourif (Curse of Chucky)
Karl Urban (Dredd)
Andy Serkis (Rise of The Planet of The Apes)
Craig Parker (Reign)
John Leigh (Power Rangers Samurai)
Bruce Hopkins (Xena: Warrior Princess)
John Bach (Spartacus)
John Noble (Sleepy Hollow)
Sean Bean (Game of Thrones)
Stephen Ure (Ash vs Evil Dead)
Paul Norell (Young Hercules)

Frodo Baggins and Samwise Gamgee continue their journey to Mordor to destroy the One Ring by throwing it into Mount Doom. They are attacked in the night by Gollum, former owner of the Ring, but they capture him. Sympathising with Gollum for their shared burden, Frodo asks Gollum to lead them safely to Mordor, despite Sam’s objections. Meanwhile, Aragorn, Legolas, and Gimli pursue the Uruk-hai who kidnapped their friends Merry and Pippin. The Uruk-hai are slaughtered by the Rohirrim army of Rohan, but the two Hobbits escape into Fangorn Forest where they meet the Ent Treebeard. Aragorn’s group later meet the Rohirrim who have been banished by their king Théoden, who is manipulated by Saruman’s servant Grima Wormtongue. Tracking the Hobbits in Fangorn, Aragorn’s group encounter a resurrected Gandalf who perished in Moria, but was revived to help save Middle-earth.Gollum leads Frodo and Sam through the Dead Marshes whilst evading the Nazgûl. They reach the Black Gate to Mordor but Gollum stops them, saying it’s too risky and that there is another entrance, finding himself becoming loyal to Frodo for his kindness. The trio later are captured by the Rangers of Ithilien, led by Faramir, brother of the late Boromir. When Faramir discovers Frodo has the Ring, he intends on taking him to Gondor, capturing Gollum when Frodo exposes him. Aragorn, Gandalf, Legolas, and Gimli travel to Rohan’s capital Edoras where Gandalf releases Théoden from Saruman’s power and Wormtongue is banished. Learning Saruman plans on wiping out Rohan with an army of Uruk-hai, Théoden decides to move his citizens to the protection of Helm’s Deep, but Gandalf departs to find the Rohirrim led by Théoden’s nephew Éomer. Aragorn strikes up a friendship with Théoden’s niece Éowyn who quickly falls in love with him. During a Warg attack, Aragorn falls off a cliff into a river, but is found by his horse and taken to Helm’s Deep.In Fangorn, Merry and Pippin attend an Ent council but learn Treebeard and the others will not participate in the war. They convince them otherwise when they show the destruction Saruman has unleashed on the forests around Isengard. The Ents storm Isengard and imprison Saruman in his tower. The Uruk-hai army arrive at Helm’s Deep, finding a makeshift army of peasants and Elves from Rivendell waiting for them. A great battle follows with Théoden losing hope until Aragorn convinces him to ride out and meet them. Gandalf and the Rohirrim arrive, turning the tide of the battle and destroying the Uruk-hai.Frodo, Sam, and Gollum are taken to the fallen Gondor city Osgiliath but they are attacked by the Nazgûl and Mordor army. Sam informs Faramir of how the Ring nearly drove Boromir mad, stunning Faramir. Frodo is nearly captured by the Nazgûl but Sam tackles him down a flight of stairs, saving him. After the attack ends, Faramir frees the trio and sends them on their way. Gollum, hurt by Frodo’s seeming betrayal, decides to reclaim the Ring by leading Frodo and Sam to a creature he refers to as “her”, leading them away towards Mordor.The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers Extended Version might rasie a few eyebrows when one sees how long the extented version is, however the extra 40 minutes added to the theatrical cut actually make the ‘The Two Towers’ a better film to enjoy as a lord of the rings and/or film fan. The extra footage, adds depth and suspense to the story, which makes it more gripping, particularly during some of the extended scenes during the battle of Helm’s Deep. There is more character evolution, which gives one a more indepth view of the more mystical sides of the main characters (their backgrounds and their power), particularly Aragon and Gandalf.Furthermore, the extended material gives a larger role to Merry and Pippin, to which many hardcore lord of the rings fans is a great boost to the story. They are a greater aspect of the story and unlike in the theatrical cut, don’t just sit in a tree all the film.What I enjoyed most however, was the realism of the film that the extented edition gave to Tolkein’s writings, though true some aspects were not entirly accurate to the The Two Towers book, the extended editon gave one the feeling more that they were in Middle-Earth, than the theatrical cut.The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers Extended Version is an ideal viewing for any lord of the rings fan, but furthermore, it is a great epic to watch of any person, even those who saw the theatrical cut, before reading the book.

REVIEW: SUPERMAN UNBOUND

CAST (VOICES)

Matt Bomer (Tru Calling)
Stana Katic (Heroes)
John Noble (Sleepy Hollow)
Molly C. Quinn (Castle)
Diedrich Bader (Batman: The Brave and The Bold)
Jason Beghe (X-Men:First Class)
Frances Conroy (How I Met Your Mother)
Melissa Disney (In A World)
Alexander Gould (Weeds)
Will Yun Lee (The Wolverine)
Stephen Root (King of The Kill)
Wade Williams (Gangster Squad)

Offering herself as a hostage, Lois Lane is caught in an aerial confrontation between her terrorist captors and the unpredictable Supergirl before Superman arrives to save the day. Soon after, knowing Superman’s civilian identity, Lois attempts to get Clark Kent to make their relationship public despite his fear of the consequences, but their argument is halted by a Daily Planet staff meeting before Kent leaves after being alerted to an approaching meteor. Intercepting it, Superman learns the meteor is actually a robot that he promptly defeats before activating its beacon and taking it to the Fortress of Solitude. With help from a fearful Supergirl, Superman learns the robot is actually a drone controlled by a being named Brainiac, a Coluan scientist who subjected himself to extensive motor, skeletal and cybernetic enhancements, turning him from a human like, thin, and hairless being to a muscular, red eyed giant with computer like components and enhanced physical abilities compatible to Superman’s. Supergirl, horrified at seeing Brainiac, reveals from her experience with the monster. Brainiac seized and miniaturized Krypton’s capital city of Kandor prior to the planet’s destruction with her father and mother attempting to track him down before they mysteriously lost contact with Krypton. She is now worried that Brainiac will do to the world what he did to Kandor.

Fearing more drones would come, Superman flies through the galaxy with a Kryptonian spacecraft in an attempt to track down Brainiac before finding his drones attacking a planet. Though he attempts to stop them, Superman witnesses Brainiac capture the planet’s capital like he did with Kandor before firing a Solar Aggressor missile to consume the planet in its exploding sun. The explosion knocks Superman unconscious and he is brought on board Brainiac’s skull shaped, tentacled ship. Coming to in the examination room, he fights his way through the vessel before he discovers a room full of bottled cities prior to being attacked by Brainiac. At this point, confirming that he spared Krypton because of its eventual destruction, Brainiac is shown that he has been collecting information on all the planets he visited and uploading it into his neural core before destroying them. Using Superman’s spacecraft and his telepathic abilities, Brainiac discovers that he has been living on Earth. Brainiac decides to chart a course to Earth while sending Superman into Kandor. Inside Kandor, his strength waning due to the artificial red sun, Superman meets his uncle Zor-El and aunt Alura. They explain that Brainiac was instructed to learn all that is knowable about the galaxy. Being a cyborg, Brainiac interpreted his directive literally and realized that he could not achieve this goal because life keeps changing. His knowledge of one world would become out-of-date as soon as he moved on to the next world. Brainiac therefore destroys civilizations after studying them so that they cannot change further, thus leaving him with a literally complete and up-to-date knowledge of them.

Superman formulates a plan and escapes Kandor using the subjugator robots. From there, Superman disables Brainiac’s ship and takes Kandor with him back to Earth. At that time, Lois learns from Supergirl why Superman left and alerts the Pentagon of a possible invasion by Brainiac, who eventually repairs his ship and arrives in Metropolis.

Despite everyone, including Supergirl, doing their best to fend his drones off, Metropolis is encased in a bottle and both Superman and Supergirl are captured. Having hooked Superman up to his ship, Braniac reveals that Earth offers nothing to him, tortures Superman by overloading his mind with data to obtain Kandor and attempts to destroy the planet. However, telling his captor what Earth means to him, Superman breaks free and then frees Supergirl and convinces her to stop the Solar-Aggressor from hitting the sun. Remembering Zor-El’s words about Brainiac’s ideals, Superman knocks him out of the ship and they crash into a swamp. As he fights Braniac, Superman forces the cyborg to experience the chaos of life itself outside of the safe, artificial environments he has created. Eventually, the combined mental and physical strain takes its toll on Brainiac and he combusts and is reduced to ash and molten machinery. After restoring Metropolis, taking Kandor to another planet to restore its normal size and establishing a Kryptonian colony, Superman makes his love life with Lois as Kent public with a marriage proposal. However, placed in the Fortress of Solitude, Brainiac’s remains glow, indicating that Braniac still has some degree of his power.file_204535_4_Black_Moon_Rising_Tommy_Lee_JonesThe movie has plenty of action not just between Superman and Supergirl vs. Braniac; but the people of Earth and Krypton fighting back as well. I like that fact that Brainiac is one of the villains that can match Superman physically

REVIEW: SLEEPY HOLLOW – SEASON 1 & 2

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MAIN CAST

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

RECURRING / NOTABLE GUEST CAST

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

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

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