REVIEW: DARK ANGEL -SEASON 2

Starring

Jessica Alba (Machete)
Michael Weatherly (Bull)
Valarie Rae Miller (Crank)
J. C. MacKenzie (The Wolf of Wall Street)
Richard Gunn (Hemlock Grove)
Jensen Ackles (Supernatural)
Kevin Durand (Lost)
Ashley Scott (Birds of Prey)
Martin Cummins (Bates Motel)

Jensen Ackles in Dark Angel (2000)

RECURRING / NOTABLE GUEST CAST

John Savage (American Romance)
Nana Visitor (Star Trekk: DS9)
Yee Jee Tso (Antitrust)
Grace Park (Battlestar Galactica)
Nicki Clyne (Saved)
Jesse Moss (The Uninvited)
Colin Cunningham (Elektra)
Craig Veroni (Two For The Money)
Connor Widdows (X-Men 2)
Rob LaBelle (Watchmen)
John DeSantis (Arrow)
Tyler Labine (Rise of The Planet of The Apes)
Byron Mann (Arrow)
Kris Pope (Josie and The Pussycats)
Rekha Sharma (The Core)
Sarah Carter (Smallville)
Todd Stashwick (The Originals)
John Mann (Pathfinder)
Sonya Salomaa (Watchmen)
Patrick Gallagher (Sideways)
Mike Dopud (The Predator)
William Gregory Lee (Xena)
Brian Markinson (Wolf)
Gus Lynch (North Country)
Jesse Hutch (Cedar Cove)
Anita Brown (The A-Team)
Kendall Cross (Paycheck)
Emily Holmes (The Wicker Man)
Michael Bower (Evolution)
Terry Chen (Jessica Jones)
Tiffany Lyndall-Knight (I, Robot)
Fulvio Cecere (Valentine)
Michael Kopsa (Apollo 18)
Meghan Ory (Once Upon A Time)
Eric Breker (Stargate SG.1)
Ty Olsson (Battlestar Galactica)
Peter Williams (Catwoman)
Enuka Okuma (Impulse)
Sarah Strange (Men in Trees)
Jerry Wasserman (Alive)
Sam Witwer (Supergirl)
Camille Sullivan (Kingsway)
Zak Santiago (Shooter)
Tracy Ryan (The Blows)
Callum Keith Rennie (Jessica Jones)
Gabrielle Rose (Sanctuary)
Garwin Sanford (Arrow)
Malcolm Stewart (Jumanji)
Devin Douglas Drewitz (X-Men 2)
Kandyse McClure (Battlestar Galactica)
Jorge Vargas (Power Rangers Ninja Storm)
Henri Lubatti (Zoo)
Rick Worthy (The Vamnpire Diaries)
Erin Karpluk (Being Erica)

Jessica Alba and Kevin Durand in Dark Angel (2000)James Cameron’s and Charles H. Eglee’s Dark Angellasted a short two seasons back in 2000-2002, launching Jessica Alba’s Hollywood career.  Like Buffy the Vampire Slayer, this show had a similarly headstrong, wise-cracking, female superhero at the helm.Jessica Alba and Valarie Rae Miller in Dark Angel (2000)Set in the near future in rainy Seattle, Washington, Max was a bike courier by day and thief by night, struggling to get by in Post-Pulse America.  She burgles the wrong rich guy one evening who recognises her for what she is, an escaped genetically-engineered human from Manticore, a secret training facility that creates kids like Max and raises them to become soldiers and assassins.  With rich guy Logan’s (Michael Weatherly) guidance/nagging, Max grudgingly uses her physical and mental talents to do some good in the world.Did I mention she did it grudgingly? Max is not a smiley, cheerful young woman.  Most of the time she’s got a scowl on her face but deep down she’s got heart, and despite the tough, ‘I don’t care about anyone but myself’ front she puts up, she’s still a normal young woman trying to put the trauma of being raised to be a weapon of destruction  behind her.  The torture and abuse she suffered as a child at the hands of those in Manticore still haunts her. Max was among a dozen children that fled the prison-like institution ten years previously.  She tries to keep a low profile, fearful that her worst nightmare and personal bogey man Lydecker (played chillingly by John Savage) will find her.  She’s also trying to track down her “brothers” and “sisters”, the other kids who fled.  Logan agrees to help her in this quest in exchange for her help with his noble causes.  Logan is “Eyes Only”, an underground journalist and thorn in the side of criminalsJessica Alba and Kevin Durand in Dark Angel (2000)Keeping Max company is her best friend Original Cindy (Valarie Rae Miller), Sketchy (Richard Gunn) an idiot who works alongside her and Normal, the grouchy but actually easy-going boss at the courier company Jam Pony.  Normal frequently shouts ‘bip bip’ at his employees in order to motivate them to do some work.  It rarely works!  Along the way we meet Zach (William Gregory Lee), her “brother” who is totally in love with her and Alec (played by hottie Jensen Ackles from Supernatural), another Manticore soldier.   We can’t forget about Joshua (Kevin Durrand), the dog-man, one of Manticore’s earliest experiments that left many of their people/creatures looking decidedly non-human.  They were confined to the basement in Manticore until Max releases them into the world in season 2 with devastating consequences. Max looks after Joshua and along with Alec, the three of them form somewhat of a weird, dysfunctional but tight-knit family.Logan’s and Max’s relationship continues the will they/won’t they line for the duration of the two seasons.  A lot of fans wanted her to hook up with Alec but it never happened, despite a few lingering looks.  I loved the universe and characters of Dark Angel.  It’s one of my favourite supernatural/sci-fi tv shows of all time, right up there with BuffyRoswell  and The X- Files. The music was great, the characters awesome and the dialogue snappy.  For me, the most intriguing character was Lydecker.  Yes he was a bad guy, but in a creepy way he was also like the father figure of the group.

REVIEW: DARK ANGEL -SEASON 1

Starring

Jessica Alba (Machete)
Michael Weatherly (Bull)
John Savage (American Romance)
Valarie Rae Miller (Crank)
J. C. MacKenzie (The Wolf of Wall Street)
Richard Gunn (Hemlock Grove)
Alimi Ballard (Sabrina: TTW)
Jennifer Blanc (The Victim)

Jessica Alba in Dark Angel (2000)

RECURRING / NOTABLE GUEST CAST

Stanley Kamel (Domino)
Kristin Bauer van Straten (True Blood)
Paul Popowich (Rupture)
Douglas O’Keeffe (The Andromeda Strain)
Sarah-Jane Redmond (Smallville)
Lauren Lee Smith (Mutant X)
Kim Hawthorne (Greanleaf)
Stephen Lee (Robocop 2)
Hiro Kanagawa (Heroes Reborn)
Garry Chalk (Arrow)
Eileen Pedde (Juno)
Fulvio Cecere (Valentine)
Robert Lewis (Stargate SG-1)
Natassia Malthe (Elektra)
Steve Makaj (Two for The Money)
Tyler Labine (Tucker and Dale vs Evil)
Alessandro Juliani (Smallville)
Ty Olsson (X-Men 2)
Ryan Robbins (Sanctuary)
Peter Bryant (Legends of Tomorrow)
Emily Tennant (Jennifer’s Body)
Christine Chatelain (Final Destination)
Abraham Benrubi (ER)
Byronn Mann (Arrow)
A.C. Peterson (Shooter)
Tony Perez (Once Upon a Time)
Lisa Rodríguez (Next Friday)
Brenda James (Slither)
William Gregory Lee (Xena)
Rodney Rowland (Veronica Mars)
George Cheung (Rush Hour)
Mike Weinberg (Home Alone 4)
Nicole Bilderback (Clueless)
Robert Gossett (Batman Returns)
Harsh Nayyar (Gandhi)
Brian Markinson (Wolf)
Lucia Walters (Stargate: Atlantis)
James Kidnie (Robocop: The Series)
Patrick Kilpatrick (Eraser)
Alex Zahara (Horns)
Mark Gibbon (Man of Steel)
Jodelle Ferland (Silent Hill)
Zahf Paroo (The Good Doctor)
Susan Hogan (Warehouse 13)
Lawrence Pressman (American Pie)
Samantha Smith (Supernatural)
Rekha Sharma (The Core)
Craig Veroni (Cedar Cove)
Lisa Ann Cabasa (Buffy: TVS)
Rob LaBelle (Watchmen)
Shireen Crutchfield (House Party 3)
Ashley Crow (Heroes)
David Kaye (Siren)
Mark Rolston (Aliens)
Ian Tracey (Sanctuary)
Alex Carter (The Island)
Jensen Ackles (Supernatural)
Robert Floyd (Cold Hearts)
Nana Visitor (Star Trek: DS9)
James Kirk (She’s The Man)
Rainn Wilson (Star Trek: Discovery)
Kevin McNulty (Snakes on a Plane)
Sebastian Spence (First Wave)
Lorena Gale (Traitor)
Steve Bacic (Andromeda)
Kris Pope (Josie and The Pussycats)
Joshua Alba (Alpha Dog)
Nicki Aycox (Jeepers Creepers 2)

Jessica Alba in Dark Angel (2000)Dark Angel stars Jessica Alba (Idle Hands) as Max, a genetically-engineered supersoldier who escaped from an expectedly top-secret government facility as a child. Despite the passing of a full decade, the agents of Manticore, led by Donald Lydecker (John Savage), remain determined to retrieve their multi-million dollar killing machine. Max ekes out a living in a scarcely-recognizable 21st century Seattle, avoiding capture while trying to locate the brothers and sisters that fled from Manticore with her. Max’s search brings her in contact with underground cyberjournalist Logan Cale (Michael Weatherly), and together, they try to make Seattle a more palatable place while unveiling the secrets of Max’s past.Jessica Alba, William Gregory Lee, and Michael Weatherly in Dark Angel (2000)Just as Max is a genetically-engineered hybrid of various people and creatures, Dark Angel has been stitched together from the remnants of various other genre television series and movies. The most obvious point of comparison is Buffy the Vampire Slayer, with its beautiful, sassy, headstrong, ass-kicking female lead, a predominately female supporting cast, and an older male mission-dispensing mentor with an answer to every question and a solution to every problem. Hell, both series have even had a recurring character named Kendra. Similarities can also be drawn to The Pretender, which features a gifted child raised in an isolated institutional setting and pursued in adulthood. Both series take every available opportunity to flash back to childhood and draw parallels to the present. The X-5s also bear a passing resemblance to the powerful young aliens of Roswell. Toss in a dollop of a Mad Max post-apocalyptic future for good measure, and you’re in the general ballpark.Jessica Alba in Dark Angel (2000)By the time I’d waded through the 90-minute pilot and the other two episodes on disc one, I was fully prepared to write Dark Angel off as a loss, resigning myself to wading through another thirteen hours of mediocrity. The feature-length pilot carried a hefty price tag, touted at the time as the most expensive ever produced. I’m not sure how much of that reported $10 million made it on-screen or was siphoned off to line James Cameron’s wallet, but the end result is plodding and dull. Thankfully, Dark Angel improves after these early fumbles, though the quality remains uneven throughout. For every decent episode, there’s one as dismal as Red or Haven. Douglas O’Keeffe has been cast in enough movies and TV series that someone out there seems to think he has some modicum of talent, but not a glimpse of it is on display in his embarrassingly inept performance as Bruno in Red. Bruno isn’t the only carryover from the pilot. A disturbing amount of footage appears in flashback form, making it the most shameless rehash outside of a Silent Night, Deadly Night sequel. Haven consists of 43 of the most painfully boring minutes I’ve spent in front of my television this year, and even the most staunch fans of the series seem to consider it pretty dreadful.Jessica Alba and Douglas O'Keeffe in Dark Angel (2000)Dark Angel was, at least in part, a victim of Fox’s determination to air sci-fi programming on Friday night, a timeslot that has claimed such genre casualties as Firefly, The Lone Gunman, M.A.N.T.I.S., Harsh Realm, Strange Luck, and VR.5. Despite not attracting enough viewers to warrant a third season, Fox’s home video arm has enough confidence in Dark Angel’s fan base to release both seasons of the series in relatively quick succession.Jessica Alba in Dark Angel (2000)Established fans of the series ought to find Dark Angel to be well-worth the modest asking price. As for the uninitiated, I wouldn’t recommend this set as a blind purchase. I’d suggest checking out at least a couple of episodes first, which admittedly might prove to be fairly tough seeing as how Dark Angel has been off the air for years now. If the premise sounds intriguing and you never got around to watching the series during its original run on Fox, I’d recommend this set.

REVIEW: ALPHA DOG

CAST

Emile Hirsch (Speed Racer)
Justin Timberlake (The Social Network)
Ben Foster (The Punisher)
Shawn Hatosy (The Faculty)
Anton Yelchin (Star Trek)
Sharon Stone (Total Recall)
Bruce Willis (Die Hard)
Chris Marquette (Freddy vs Jason)
Dominique Swain (Praire Fever)
Olivia Wilde (Cowboys & Aliens)
Amanda Seyfried (Ted 2)
Vincent Kartheiser (Angel)
Lukas Haas (Mars Attacks)
Heather Wahlquist (John Q)
Harry Dean Stanton (Avengers Assemble)
Joshua Alba (Unrest)
Amber Heard (Zombieland)
Paul Johansson (Highlander: The Raven)
James Molina (Veronica Mars)
Alan Thicke (Growing Pains)
Holt McCallany (The Losers)

Johnny Truelove is a young marijuana dealer living in Southern California. His father, Sonny, supplies him with marijuana, which Johnny distributes to his gang of friends, including Jake Mazursky, who owes Johnny a $1,200 drug debt. Mazursky makes a failed attempt at asking his father, Butch, and stepmother Olivia for the money. Meanwhile, Butch and Olivia are dealing with their rebellious teenage son Zack- Jake’s half-brother. A fight breaks out between Jake and Johnny when Jake tries to pay Johnny only part of his debt. After back and forth retaliation, Johnny and his two henchmen, Frankie Ballenbacher and Tiko Martinez, go to confront Jake in person, but when they go to his house he is nowhere to be found. As they leave, they find Zack walking and decide to kidnap him with the intent of holding onto him until Jake pays his debt.
Wanting a break from his home life, Zack makes no effort to escape. Johnny pawns Zack off on Frankie, who offers him a chance to escape, but Zack declines the offer, not wanting to cause any trouble for his brother. Zack stays with Frankie at his father’s house, and the two strike up an unlikely friendship. The next day, he ingratiates himself with Frankie’s friends, including Keith Stratten and Julie, the youngest member of the group. A number of friends of the gang learn of Zack’s kidnapping, though Susan is the only one who seems concerned. Frankie grows nervous when Johnny tells him they could be in serious trouble for the kidnapping, and hypothetically offers him $2,500 to murder Zack. Frankie furiously declines and Johnny claims it was just a joke. Instead, Johnny agrees to Frankie’s plan to pay Zack to keep his mouth shut. However, after a threatening phone call from Jake, and his lawyer who reveals that he could face life in prison for kidnapping, he decides the risk of ending up dead or in prison is too great to let Zack go. Johnny calls Elvis Schmidt and offers to erase his drug debt if he kills Zack. Frankie and his friends still believe Zack will be returning home at the end of the night and throw a raucous going away party. Zack has a good time at the party and later goes skinny-dipping with Julie and her friend Alma in the pool, which leads to a three-some. After the party, Julie gives Zack her number and Alma gives him a good-bye kiss on the cheek.
Elvis arrives at the hotel where Zack is waiting to be picked up, and Frankie and Elvis begin to argue when Elvis reveals that Johnny has sent him there to kill Zack. Frankie ends up leaving, and Elvis takes Keith to dig a grave. Frankie offers Zack a final opportunity to escape, but believing that he is now part of the group and will be returning home soon, Zack prefers to wait at the hotel for Elvis to return. Meanwhile, Sonny, Cosmo (Johnny’s godfather), and Johnny’s lawyer confront Johnny, who refuses to call off the hit. Elvis and Keith return to the hotel, and Frankie and Elvis go outside to talk. Frankie, reluctant because of the friendship he has formed with Zack, finally relents when Elvis tells him they could face life in prison if Zack tells someone what happened.
Frankie, Elvis, Zack, and Keith arrive at the grave site. Zack is not aware of what’s going on and grows suspicious when a deeply saddened Keith tells Frankie he can’t go through with it, and goes to wait in the car after giving Zack a goodbye hug. Zack sees the grave and begins to break down, begging Frankie and Elvis to let him go. Frankie tells Elvis they shouldn’t go through with it, but Elvis is keen on the job he’s been given. Frankie calms Zack down, and ties him up with duct tape. He is surprised when Elvis knocks Zack into the grave with a shovel, and shoots him multiple times with an automatic Tec 9, killing him.
Zack’s body is found three days later. The epilogue shows the aftermath of the crime: Olivia, now suffering from obesity and depression, is interviewed, and talks candidly about her failed suicide attempts and the loss that she has experienced from her son’s death. Susan angrily confronts Frankie over Zack’s death and goes to the authorities. Elvis is caught while trying to secure a ride out of L.A. Johnny flees the city and arrives at the house of old classmate Buzz Fecske, who drives him back to his godfather Cosmo’s house, where he enters and is not seen again. Tiko, Keith and Frankie are arrested. After being convicted, they all serve their respective sentences: Tiko serves nine years in prison for kidnapping; Keith serves time at a juvenile facility until the age of 25 for digging Zack’s grave; Frankie serves seven years to life for kidnapping and second-degree murder; and Elvis is put on death row for murdering Zack. Johnny, however, is nowhere to be found. The interviewer asks Sonny how Johnny was able to escape authorities for four years without help, but Sonny assures him that he doesn’t know where Johnny is. In 2005, after over five years of being on the America’s most wanted list, Johnny is finally found and arrested in Paraguay. Text informs the audience that Johnny is in California awaiting trial, and, if proven guilty, faces the death penalty.
Alpha Dog is based on the real life story of LA drug dealer Jesse James Hollywood who may just have a sillier name than his onscreen counterpart.  The story jumps around a lot but there are some very well filmed and well acted moments that make this better than just another LA crime film.