REVIEW: DIRECT HIT

Direct Hit (1994)

CAST

William Forsythe (The Devil’s Rejects)
Jo Champa (Out for Justice)
Richard Norton (Blood Street)
John Aprea(Full House)
George Segal (For The Boys)
Juliet Landau (Buffy: The Vampire Slayer)

maxresdefaultMost of what comes about during this action melodrama is precisely what must be expected, given the rather ordinary pedigrees of those responsible, in a narrative of John Hatch (William Forsythe), an assassin for the CIA whose activities unaccountably seem to be confined to stateside assignments. Presumably recognizing after a lengthy career that his original aspirations for patriotic service have been mislayed due to the callous aspects of his occupation, Hatch has determined that he will retire from the life of a “hit man”. Compelled by CIA chieftain James Tronson (George Segal) to implement one last murder more than he desires, Hatch stalks his designated target: Savannah (Jo Champa) who purportedly is blackmailing a public figure, a former CIA director who is campaigning for a position of U.S. Senator. Having had the precepts he once believed in buried by the nature of his activities Hatch decides, in an attempt to partially redeem himself, not to complete his obligation but instead protects Savannah from the Agency after discovering that she is a victim of governmental deception and not an extortioner.juliet-landau-as-shelly-in-direct-hit-1994Forsythe, a true original, performs his role as well as he can under the circumstances, and with his wonted low-key manner, here marked with a more than usual emphasis upon throatily aspirating his lines. He can, however, be heard and understood, a condition not consistently achieved in this production wherein the dubbing is often misaligned and the editing is uneven, manifest despite all of the violent proceedings. The script is nearly totally nonsensical as Forsythe, whose physique resembles an outhouse, magically evades hundreds of rounds fired directly at him by CIA operatives and others, while finding the time to demonstrate his need for a new plan of living by bedding rangy and sensuous Savannah in a mild scene (he is thankfully not in the buff) composed more of nuzzling and nibbling than the customary thrashing about – his cinematic force rests in his quietly ominous demeanor, not often tinged with a stripe of vulnerability.

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REVIEW: JUSTICE LEAGUE UNLIMITED – TASK FORCE X

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MAIN CAST

Phil LaMarr (Free Enterprise)
Carl Lumbly (Alias)
Michael Rosenbaum (Smallville)

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GUEST CAST

Adam Baldwin (Chuck)
Juliet Landau (Buffy: The Vampire Slayer)
Donal Gibson (Braveheart)
Alan Rachins (Showgirls)
Chris Cox (Family Guy)
CCH Pounder (Avatar)

mv5bnjk3mti1nzk2of5bml5banbnxkftztywodqzndez-_v1_uy317_cr820214317_al_At Belle Reve Correctional, Floyd Lawton, aka the hitman Deadshot, is being led to execution, displaying defiance for his fate, even towards the priest. Upon entering the execution chamber, however, it is to find another man who hands some official papers over to the warden. After reading them, the warden orders Deadshot to be released and handed over to the newcomer. On the drive away from the prison, Lawton’s savior introduces himself as U.S. Colonel Rick Flagg who wants Deadshot to assist in a top-secret mission. Flagg also reveals that miniature devices have been infiltrated into Deadshot’s body and will kill him if he does not cooperate. The mission is a simple break-in and theft – from the Justice League’s Watchtower HQ.
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They arrive at a warehouse formerly used by Lex Luthor and thus very secure against super-hero surveillance. Lawton is introduced to the rest of “Task Force X”: explosives expert Bette Sans-Souci, a.k.a. “Plastique”; inventor George Harkness, a.k.a. “Captain Boomerang”; and planning expert Temple Fugate, a.k.a. “The Clock King”. With the exception of Flagg, they are all criminals being offered amnesty in exchange for their services. The plan is to infiltrate the Watchtower disguised as members of its support staff, at a time when only three major obstacles are aboard: Green Lantern John Stewart, Captain Atom, and J’onn J’onzz. Flagg warns the other members of Task Force X that there is to be no unnecessary killing. While the others go to the tower, Fugate will stay at base coordinating their progress.
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The first phase goes off perfectly: The squad ambushes a group of four Watchtower staff members before they are teleported up. Once there, Flagg uses a device in a pair of prop glasses in order to cause a computer to break down thus enabling them to proceed without a security check. Deadshot and Plastique then head to the lower levels and into the generator room, while Flagg and Boomerang make their way to the high-security storage area. Plastique sets off a bomb on the reactor to cause a diversion from Boomerang’s breakthrough into the vault. There, Flagg takes control of the “package”: a powerful combat robot called the Annihilator. The damage to the reactor causes a radiation leak and an evacuation is ordered. Captain Atom flies down to contain the reactor explosion and reports to J’onn that it was done intentionally.
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Deadshot and Plastique sprint up to join Flagg and Boomerang and together they and the Annihilator make their way to the bridge. Along the way, they are stopped by Shining Knight, Vigilante, and Atom-Smasher, but manage to defeat them with the Annihilator’s help. Reaching the bridge, they are confronted by J’onn, who easily defeats them until the Annihilator literally tears him in half, disabling him long enough for the team to reach the transporter. J’onn recovers and defeats the Annihilator, but Plastique gets him to stand back by holding a bomb above the throat of an unconscious Atom-Smasher, and he is forced to allow the others to mount the transporter platform. Just as Plastique is about to join them, Captain Atom arrives and tackles her and one of her bombs goes flying. Deadshot detonates it with a shot from his pistol and, in the confusion, three of Task Force X and the Annihilator transport away. Plastique is left behind, severely wounded. J’onn checks the transporter console, which has been sabotaged and blows up before he can trace the coordinates.
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Flagg turns the Annihilator over to Amanda Waller and Tala of Project Cadmus. Before leaving, Waller commends Flagg, telling him his father would be proud of him. Deadshot bids everyone a cheerful goodbye, but Flagg decks him with a punch and informs him that he is to serve in Task Force X for five years before he can go free, otherwise he can go back to prison for execution. Deadshot snidely asks Flagg how Waller is blackmailing him, to which Flagg gives a sneer of contempt and states that he isn’t being blackmailed at all: He is a patriot who serves his country loyally. Aboard the Watchtower, J’onn has discovered that Vance, a member of the bridge crew, passed inside information to Cadmus, using an anti-telepathy device to mask his thoughts. J’onn is tempted to wipe Vance’s mind, but Stewart tells him it would be pointless since Vance has already leaked everything he knows, and they can’t trust any of their staff now.mv5bnjk3mti1nzk2of5bml5banbnxkftztywodqzndez-_v1_uy317_cr820214317_al_Task Force X really does stand as one of the best examples of what Justice League Unlimited had to offer – a show starring a bunch of random characters that found time to tell an engaging story and humanize each of them a bit. Sure, it plays into a grand over-arching plot, but – on its own terms – Task Force X is really just an example of what the DC animated universe did really well. A fun story well told featuring an interesting cast.

REVIEW: JUSTICE LEAGUE: THRONE OF ATLANTIS

CAST (VOICES)

Sean Astin (Cabin Fever 3)
Rosario Dawson (Daredevil)
Nathan Fillion (Firefly)
Christopher Gorham (Ugly Betty)
Matt Lanter (Disaster Movie)
Sumalee Montano (Beware The Batman)
Shermar Moore (Birds of Prey)
Jerry O’Connell (Mockingbird Lane)
Jason O’Mara (Resident Evil: Retribution)
Sam Witwer (Smallville)
Steve Blum (Wolverine and The X-Men)

In the Atlantic Ocean, the USS California submarine picks up incoming human-like threats approaching the sub by sonar. The sub is attacked, leaving the entire crew dead by the invading hostiles. At S.T.A.R. Labs’ Justice League headquarters, Cyborg, who has recently received environmental upgrades in an operation that replacing his remaining lung, is given news by Colonel Steve Trevor, the liaison for the Justice League, over the sunken sub. Cyborg decides to check it himself, deciding against Trevor’s idea of calling the other superheroes, as he puts it “there is no Justice League”, feeling there is truly no unity to them as they have never come to help each other since Darkseid’s invasion. At Mercy Reef in Maine, Arthur Curry, drunk over the recent death of his father, picks a fight with a group of tough guys over them wanting to eat the lobster Arthur was talking to. He defeats them using inhuman strength and when the last man tries to stab him, his knife breaks into pieces against Arthur’s chest. After throwing him into the ocean, Arthur leaves, unaware that he is being watched by Mera and Dr. Shin. Cyborg uses a Boom Tube to teleport down to the sunken sub and discovers hand prints on the hull and that several nuclear missiles are missing from the launch bays. He is then attacked by the same hostiles that attacked the sub and suffers damage to his servos through his escape, though manages to take a knife-like weapon off one of his attackers when they stab him with it.

Back at their HQ, Cyborg gets help from Flash and Shazam to get Superman, Wonder Woman, and Green Lantern, leaving Batman the last one remaining. Green Lantern decides to head to Gotham City to get Batman, who is currently chasing henchmen of the Scarecrow. Green Lantern captures them for Batman, but Batman is angry as he needed them to head to where Scarecrow was and about his plot against Gotham’s City Hall. With the entire team together, they check the raised sub and Cyborg’s assault. They realize the enemy is not related to Darkseid but warriors from Earth’s origin. Thanks to Diana’s knowledge, she reveals these warriors are from Atlantis, beings saved from death after their land sunk into the ocean after being turned into underwater creatures by their king’s mystical trident, after seeing the weapon Cyborg was stabbed with, with the theory of war related to the missing missiles. Using Shazam’s suggestion, Superman and Batman decide to meet Atlantis-expert Dr. Shin, while the others are tasked in finding Atlantis.

At Atlantis, Prince Orm and Black Manta, the latter of whom secretly accompanied Dr. Shin when he was watching Arthur disguised as a man named David, meet with Orm’s mother, Queen Atlanna. They argue over declaring war on the surface world because of the damage during the events of Darkseid’s attack, with Atlanna saying that the volcano that killed Orm’s father the king, was due to Darkseid’s forces while Orm says it was the Justice League’s fight with Darkseid that killed him. Orm also says that the humans polluting the Earth will eventually destroy it and Atlantis in the process, which he believes is a reason to attack them first. Atlanna silences Orm with the Trident of Neptune, the king’s trident of the Atlantean legend with immeasurable powers, which seem electrically based, that can only be accessed by Atlantean royalty and asks Mera to bring Arthur, her other son, to Atlantis.Black Manta uses a craft holographically disguised as a submarine to attack Atlantis using the same stolen missiles, framing the surface for their “unprovoked” attack. Arthur answers the door to Dr. Shin, who tries to tell him that his father contacted him before his death to help Arthur. Moments later, Dr. Shin is killed by Atlantean soldiers sent by Black Manta. Arthur is overwhelmed by the attack, being knocked out and blasted out of his collapsing house, until he is saved by Mera, who dispatches the soldiers by using her control over water and its density, and taken underwater. Batman and Superman enter Dr. Shin’s home discovering that his work is destroyed. Superman recreates a photograph of Arthur Curry and a letter from his father revealing that his son is half-Atlantean.Batman decides they must find him. The attack on Atlantis leads the citizens and Orm to demand for war and to break the seal on war plans created by the former king in the event of conflict with the surface. Queen Atlanna decides that they might need to reveal themselves after centuries of being hidden and contact the Justice League. Arthur wakes up with gills on his neck in underwater Atlantean ruins with Mera, who explains his situation. Atlanna met Arthur’s father and gave birth to him. Due to her being royal, she could not be with him nor Arthur, so she had to leave to be with her king and Orm, though she still loved Arthur greatly and had even been watching Arthur when he was a child. Arthur had once encountered Atlanna when he was swimming by the shore. Now, Atlanna believes Arthur can help Atlantis be the bridge between the two worlds. Mera then dresses him with the kings royal garb, hidden by Atlanna inside the ruins. Arthur, having difficulty process the situation, removes the armor and crown from his garb, leaving only the orange and green Atlantean bodysuit underneath, and heads to surface with Mera following him. Soon, they are attacked by the Trench. The creatures overwhelm Arthur, one of them even biting his hand, making him bleed. The Justice League arrives in time to defeat the Trench. Orm hears from Black Manta that the Trench failed to kill Arthur. Orm and Queen Atlanna argue because Orm wants to start a war as per his late father’s wishes and reveals his knowledge of Arthur Curry. Queen Atlanna reveals to him that she knows he attacked Atlantis. With this news, Black Manta confronts the queen, but is overpowered due to her trident. Orm then stabs her from behind, killing her and taking over Atlantis as the new king.Arthur, Mera, Superman, Wonder Woman, Green Lantern, and Cyborg arrive at Atlantis and learn of Queen Atlanna’s death, the Atlantean people being under the impression that a surface dweller killed her. The heroes are then defeated by Orm, who has assumed the mantle of “Ocean Master” and uses the trident to incapacitate and restrain them inside cacoon like pods. Superman even sheds blood when attacked with the trident. The group is sent to be consumed by the monstrous Dark Trench, while Ocean Master leads Atlantis’ army to the surface. Arthur destroys his pod by tapping into the power of the trident and with Superman’s help, as well as his telepathic control over sea creatures, they save the rest and defeat the monster. In Metropolis, a massive tidal wave created by Ocean Master’s trident is used to conceal Ocean Master’s army, which reaches the shores and begins their attack. The military fights back but are powerless until the League arrive. During the fight, Superman saves John Henry Irons, and Wonder Woman saves Lois Lane and Jimmy Olsen. Arthur is attacked by Black Manta, who reveals that he manipulated Ocean Master and plans to kill him when the time is right and take Atlantis for himself. While Black Manta is revealing his plan, Arthur calls a megalodon to attack him, dragging Black Manta underwater.Mera and the League attack Ocean Master but are once again defeated and unable to gain an advantage over him due to his Trident’s power, as Shazam turned to his normal form, Billy Batson, and Cyborg is electricuted and disabled. Wonder Woman successfully disarms him of the Trident, though she is nearly incapacitated by its energy when she holds it. Superman is further wounded with the trident, being pierced in the chest with it. Arthur becomes the last to face Ocean Master, who has an upper hand during the fight until the end due to Orm being unable to use the trident’s true power on Arthur due to his own status as Atlantean royalty. Despite this, Ocean Master manages to defeat Arthur with the trident’s power by not using it directly on it and causing a massive blast of power to incapacitate him. Batman saves Cyborg from dying by electrocuting him with a taser device, and Cyborg reveals that he has video of Ocean Master confessing to killing his mother when they were captured. As Ocean Master is killing Arthur, nearly impaling him on his trident, Cyborg broadcasts Ocean Master’s confession all over Metropolis for Atlantis’ soldiers to see. Stunned by his treachery, the soldiers do not obey Ocean Master’s commands and Arthur uses the distraction to defeat him. He then convinces the soldiers to stand down and declares his desire to bring Atlantis and the surface world together in peace.

Later in Atlantis, Arthur is crowned as king, with the Justice League among the audience celebrating. Batman suggests that, with new threats appearing, they need to solidify the team and Cyborg reveals plans for a watchtower. Arthur joins as Aquaman (which is a nickname everyone on the Internet gave him and he hates), and soon heads with now-love interest Mera against the Trenchers outside Atlantis.  In the post-credits, Ocean Master is incarcerated at Belle Reve, yelling at the guards to release him. He is approached by Lex Luthor who has a proposition for him to consider.maxresdefaultThis was enjoyable, it is nice to see a story about other characters in the DC universe.

REVIEW: GREEN LANTERN: FIRST FLIGHT

CAST (VOICES)

Christopher Meloni (Man of Steel)
Victor Garber (Legends of Tomorrow)
Tricia Helfer (Battlestar Galactica)
Michael Madsen (Species)
John Larroquette (The Batman)
Kurtwood Smith (Agent Carter)
Larry Drake (Darkman)
William Schallert (Santa Barbara_
Malachi Throne (Catch Me If You Can)
Olivia D’Abo (Conan The Destroyer)
Juliet Landau (Angel)

Before any other sentient beings existed in the universe, a race of beings calling themselves the Guardians of the Universe harnessed the power of the green element, the greatest power in the universe, to create the Green Lantern battery. However, the battery was vulnerable to the color yellow, the one part of the light spectrum that could resist green. The Guardians hid the most concentrated source of yellow energy, the yellow element, to prevent others from using it against them.

After the death of Abin Sur, several Green Lanterns arrive to take Ferris Aircraft’s test pilot Hal Jordan (Christopher Meloni) to the Green Lantern Corps on Oa. He is placed under the supervision of respected senior officer Sinestro (Victor Garber), who is investigating Abin’s murder. While undercover on the ship of Kanjar Ro (Kurtwood Smith) searching for the whereabouts of the stolen yellow element, Abin had come under attack. Fleeing to Earth, he had his ring find his successor and died of his injury shortly after. Unbeknownst to the other Green Lanterns, Sinestro had provided Kanjar with the location of the element in order to have it fashioned into a weapon of comparable power to the Green Lantern battery.

Jordan quickly comes to understand that Sinestro’s beliefs are not in line with those of the Guardians: Sinestro believes that the Guardians have reduced the Corps to merely picking up the messes criminals create as opposed to proactively dealing with the problem. During a mission to capture Kanjar Ro, Jordan is knocked unconscious by Kanjar’s energy staff. Sinestro comes in and kills Kanjar, pinning the blame on Jordan. As punishment, the Guardians strip Jordan of his ring.  While Jordan waits to be taken home, Sinestro uses his ring to temporarily animate Kanjar’s corpse, allowing him to learn the location of Qward where the yellow element weapon is being fashioned. Jordan convinces fellow Lanterns Boodikka (Tricia Helfer) and Kilowog (Michael Madsen) that Sinestro is not what he seems. When they catch Sinestro red-handed, Boodikka reveals her true allegiance and incapacitates Kilowog, allowing Sinestro to escape. Jordan tricks her into destroying Kanjar’s unstable energy staff, the explosion launching her into the tools hanging from the ceiling and killing her.

On Qward, the Weaponers bestow Sinestro with the yellow ring and battery, the latter of which resembles Ranx the Sentient City. Using its power, he lays waste to Oa, the yellow light easily overpowering the Green Lantern rings. The yellow battery destroys the green battery, rendering all the Green Lantern Corps’ power rings inert and causing death by asphyxiation of countless Green Lanterns who were in space at the time of their rings’ failure. Jordan, having recovered his ring moments too late, finds the battery and pounds on the inert green element. He places his ring on the small crack that appears, absorbing the whole of its power. Imbued with the full might of the green energy, he destroys the yellow battery by crushing it between two moons.

Having exhausted most of the green power to destroy the yellow battery, Jordan is left to fight against Sinestro under his own power. After an intense hand-to-hand battle without constructs, Jordan uses the last of his power to knock Sinestro to the surface of Oa where Kilowog crushes the yellow ring (as well as Sinestro’s hand) with his foot. Having regained partial power to his ring earlier, Kilowog takes to the air and saves Jordan from a fatal fall to the planet’s surface. Once Oa is rebuilt and the Green Lantern battery restored, the Guardians give the privilege of leading the Corps in reciting the Green Lantern oath to Jordan. Jordan then leaves for Earth to check in with his other boss, Carol Ferris (Olivia d’Abo), remarking on the long “commute”.The animation is excelent  Some things are computer generated and they do stand. The action scenes do look very good, especially with all the various ring generated colour auras flying around the screen. And some of them are quite pacy and exciting. All of it builds to an epic and involving big action finale.

REVIEW: BUFFY: THE VAMPIRE SLAYER – THE HALLOWEEN EPISODES

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MAIN CAST

Sarah Michelle Gellar (Ringer)
Nicholas Brandon (Children of The Corn 3)
Alyson Hannigan (How I Met Your Mother)
Charisma Carpenter (Scream Queens)
David Boreanaz (Bones)
Anthony Stewart Head (Ghost Rider 2)
Seth Green (Family Guy)
James Marster (Smallville)
Marc Blucas (Red State)
Emma Caulfield (Darkness Falls)
Michelle Tractenberg (Black Xmas)
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GUEST CAST

Robin Sachs (Jurassic Park 2)
Juliet Landau (Ed Wood)
Armin Shimerman (Star Trek DS9)
Larry Bagby (Hocus Pocus)
Kristine Sutherland (Legal Eagles)
Adam Kaufman (Taken)
Lindsay Crouse (Alias)
Walter Jones (Mighty Morphin Power Rangers)
Amber Benson (Ringer)
Amber Tamblyn (Two and a Half Men)

HALLOWEEN

Buffy and Angel finally agree to a date, but Buffy is delayed at Pop’s Pumpkin Patch by a vampire. Another vampire films the fight from hiding. As Angel waits at The Bronze, Cordelia shows up and starts flirting with him. When Buffy finally arrives, she is turned away by Cordelia’s sharp tongue. Cordelia continues to hit on Angel, unaware of his history.The next day, Principal Snyder forces Buffy and her friends to chaperone small children while they trick-or-treat. Buffy would rather take a break during the only slow night for vampires. Later, Larry, the school bully, threatens Xander while asking him about Buffy, who smashes Larry into a soda machine. Xander is angered by the damage that does to his reputation. After Xander leaves, Buffy and Willow’s conversation eventually turns to speculation about Angel’s past. The two decide to sneak into Giles’ office and borrow the passed-down Watchers’ Diary. From this, they hope to learn more about what type of women Angel used to be attracted to as a human. Buffy is slightly mopey after her date with Angel didn’t fly, and is eager for information on how to win him over.  The gang has to dress up for Halloween. They head to Ethan’s Costume Shoppe, where Willow gets a ghost costume and Xander buys a toy gun to go with his army fatigues from home. Buffy and Xander make up, but then she spies the most beautiful pink 18th-century gown—one that matches what she has spied from Giles’ Watcher files on Angel. Ethan Rayne, the proprietor, appears and gives it to Buffy.Spike is reviewing Buffy’s fight. Drusilla comes to tell him that someone will make Buffy weak on Halloween night. Meanwhile, Ethan is chanting to a statue of Janus in the back room of his shop. On Halloween night, Buffy persuades Willow to wear a black miniskirt and a long-sleeved crop top, but Willow’s shyness returns; when Buffy goes to answer the doorbell, she covers up with her ghost costume. Later that night, Ethan’s spell takes effect and everyone wearing a costume from his store turns into the respective persona. Willow becomes a real ghost, able to walk through walls; Xander a soldier; and Buffy an 18th-century noble woman.With Buffy incapable of leading and fighting the threats around them, and Xander armed and skilled in combat because of the spell, Willow is forced to take the lead. She persuades Xander not to shoot the monsters now roaming the streets (as most of them are the trick-or-treaters), and to obey her. They find Buffy disoriented, frightened, and confused by the modern world. Willow rushes them to Buffy’s house, where her mother is conveniently not home. Outside, Cordelia screams and Xander rushes out to save her. They find that Cordelia has not changed into what she is wearing—a cat—because she bought her costume from another store. Willow goes to Giles for help. While Cordelia searches the house, Angel shows up and takes Buffy into the kitchen. As Angel tries to kill a vampire that has sneaked into the house, he reveals his vampire face. Buffy is horrified and runs from the house. Arriving at the library by walking through walls, Willow, after scaring Giles by just showing up where there isn’t a door, tells him about Ethan’s costumes. They head to the shop, where Giles reveals that he knows Ethan. He orders Willow to leave and forces Ethan to tell him how to reverse the spell.Spike is looking for Buffy, who enters an alley and meets Larry, now a pirate. Xander arrives to beat up Larry while Willow shows up to warn them of Spike. The gang tries to barricade themselves inside a warehouse, but Spike’s gang breaks in. Spike is trying to kill Buffy; Willow orders Xander to shoot the vampires with his now-real M16, but just then, Ethan reveals the secret to ending the spell and Giles smashes the statue, breaking the spell. Buffy recovers to defeat Spike and he flees. After being corporeal again, Willow, despite the ordeals, also feels confident, discarding her ghost costume and heading home. Oz sees Willow around town again, asking himself “Who is that girl?” Buffy admits to Angel that she was trying to impress him. He tells her that he hated those people back then. The women were dull; he wanted someone exciting. They kiss. The next day, Giles returns to the store to find a note. Ethan has promised to return soon.Halloween was a superb episode of Buffy The Vampire Slayer’s Second Season. This episode introduced us to a new villian from Giles’s past, and I have a feeling we will be seeing him in the future as well. Chaos was the order of the night, on All Hallows Eve in Sunnydale as people started turning into their costumes. It was fun to watch this episode seeing what people were and how they changed. It was also interesting to note that Oz keeps seeing Willow in different aspects, which is a neat way to build their story line. I think that this was another Classic Episode of Buffy Image result for buffy the vampire slayer fear, itself

FEAR, ITSELF
While carving jack-o’-lanterns in Xander’s basement, the gang discusses plans for Halloween; Buffy continues to mope over her situation with Parker. They decide to go to the Alpha-Delta house for a party. The next day at school, Buffy and Oz both express their concerns for Willow and her use of magic. Buffy spots Parker and immediately runs away. Willow follows her, explaining that she should get over it and have fun at the party that night, but Buffy thinks that Giles will want her to patrol. When Buffy goes to visit Giles, she’s surprised to find him embracing the Halloween spirit. He discourages her from patrolling and encourages her to go party. At the Alpha-Delta house, the members are getting ready for the party. One finds a symbol in an old book to paint on the floor. Anya goes to see Xander, wanting to know where their relationship is heading. He agrees that they’re somewhat dating, inviting her to the party. Buffy, who skipped her psych class, visits the professor and asks for her assignment, but she receives a cold response. Riley, however, gives her the assignment, telling her to have fun on Halloween. Oz and Xander carry a sound system to the Alpha-Delta house, and Oz installs it while one guy paints the symbol from the book. Oz cuts his hand, spilling drops of his blood, which activates the ritual to summon Gachnar. Joyce alters one of Buffy’s old costumes, Little Red Riding Hood, and talks with her about how things used to be. Buffy waits outside the house for her friends, and Xander shows up dressed as James Bond. They run into Willow, dressed as Joan of Arc, and Oz, going as God. Everything at the party starts to go awry as fears begin to become real, and the fake scary objects like plastic spiders and skeletons, become alive. The gang enters the house, but they encounter several obstacles. Later, Anya arrives at the party, dressed as a bunny, but she is unable to get inside because the entrances to the house have become sealed up. She sees a girl screaming at a window, and the window then disappears from the house. Inside, Buffy tells the gang to find a way out and get help. A skeleton attacks her from behind, but after she attacks, it becomes fake again. Buffy and Willow fight over Buffy rejecting help from her friends and pushing them away, as well as Buffy and Oz arguing with Willow about her use of witchcraft. Willow insists she can safely do a guidance spell. Meanwhile, Anya goes to Giles for help.
Xander tries to talk to the gang but finds that he’s become invisible to them. Willow and Oz find a staircase and head up. As they’re walking, Oz begins to change into a werewolf and scratches Willow before running away from her. Xander approaches a mirror, and a head on the table behind him says that he can see him. Oz sits in a bathtub, chanting to himself that he isn’t going to change. Willow conjures her spell. However, it quickly spins out of control, and she screams for help as it attacks her. Buffy, hearing Willow’s cries, tries to get to her, but she falls into the basement where bodies come up from the ground and grab at her. Giles and Anya are unable to find a way inside, so Giles cuts a door using a chainsaw. While fleeing through the house, the gang ends up in the room where the mystical symbol is painted. Giles and Anya break into the room. They determine the sign on the floor to be the Mark of Gachnar, and Buffy and Giles express fear about how scary the demon looks in the illustration. Buffy destroys the symbol before Giles can tell her that destroying the symbol will bring Gachnar forth. But when the demon has manifested, it turns out to be merely a few inches in height. After a laugh at absurdity of giving in to one’s fears, Buffy squashes Gachnar with her shoe. At Giles’ place, the gang eats candy while Giles makes a discovery: the arcane footnote below the illustration of Gachnar in his book reads “Actual Size” .
This is one of the best of season 4. We get a thoroughly entertaining plot, the usual wittiness, useful character insight, and a whole lot of fun. This is a modern version of “Nightmares” (1×10), and the fear demon plot works because the characters have changed and new ground is being covered.  Much of what happens here is further setup for the internal conflicts of the season: Willow’s use of magic and growing power, Oz’s beast coming out and having serious repercussions, Xander feeling that he’s not important in the group, Giles’ aimlessness, and Buffy’s relationship issues.

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ALL THE WAY

It is Halloween and Anya has set the gang to work in the magic shop. She sends Buffy to the basement, where she runs into Spike. At his suggestion, Buffy attempts to leave to go patrol with Spike, but Giles points out that Halloween is an inactive day for most evil creatures, and engages Buffy in helping with bagging products.
An elderly man, Kaltenbach, is seen walking down the street humming “Pop Goes the Weasel” while carrying a bag of what appears to be groceries. He enters his home, peers out of a window at the children in costumes walking by, and says he’s going to give them something “special” this year. He then pulls a large knife out of his kitchen drawer.
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The Magic Box has enjoyed its busiest day ever, to Anya’s delight. Xander decides that the time is right to announce his engagement to Anya, and the group makes its way back to Buffy’s house to celebrate. Back at the Summers home, Willow conjures up decorations for the party, but Tara now shares Giles’s concerns about Willow’s frivolous use of magic. Willow brushes off these concerns. Dawn tells Buffy that she is going to her friend Janice Penshaw’s house, but really meets Janice and two older boys: Justin and Zack. Dawn becomes attracted to Justin. When the foursome stops in front of “old man” Kaltenbach’s house, Dawn, on a dare, walks up to the porch to smash a pumpkin. She is caught by Kaltenbach, who warns her not to mess with them, then laughs and invites them all inside for a “special treat”. Inside, Justin volunteers to help Kaltenbach with his preparations in the kitchen. The old man is about to cut into a baked dish when Justin, now revealed as a vampire, bites and drains him. Justin then returns to the others and announces that they need to flee because he stole the man’s wallet.
Meanwhile, at the Summers home, Xander, who was already nervous in response to Giles’s serious talk with him about his and Anya’s future plans, becomes even more nervous when Anya chatters with Giles, Buffy and Xander about the wedding and plans for children. On patrol, Buffy runs across an accident scene with a corpse that was left behind by Zack while he was stealing a car. While she is tracking the culprit, she encounters Spike, who passes on a message from Giles: Dawn has misled the adults regarding her plans for the night. Now the whole gang is on the case. At The Bronze, Willow wants to use an extremely risky spell to locate Dawn, but Tara stops her, and an angry argument ensues. In the stolen car, Justin drives Dawn and the others out into the forest and stops. Zack and Janice depart, leaving Justin and Dawn alone in the car. Justin kisses Dawn – her first kiss – and then reveals his vampire face. Dawn attempts to escape from Justin, but he catches her. Giles is quickly on the scene to help, but vampires emerge from several cars, ready to fight. As they close in, Spike and Buffy show up to assist. Dawn runs away from the fight, but Justin finds her. He attempts to change her, but as he is leaning in to bite her neck, Dawn stakes him with a crossbow bolt, fired earlier in the melee.
The gang returns home, where Buffy is quick to leave the job of chastising Dawn to Giles, who is unhappy about how Buffy is relying on him so much. Meanwhile, Willow casts a spell on Tara to make her forget their quarrel.

All The Way was a great episode of Buffy the Vampire Slayer. This was a great Halloween episode. Zander finally announces that he and Anya are going to get married, much to every ones surprise! I thought Dawns little adventure was fun, and had some mystery and suspense. This episode definitely had the Classic Buffy feel to it. I think there was some character development here for a few characters like Dawn, Willow, and Tara. Willow has been using magic for every little thing and Tara is getting worried.

REVIEW: ED WOOD

CAST

Johnny Depp (Into The Woods)
Martin Landau (North By Northwest)
Sarah Jessica Parker (Sex and The City)
Patricia Arquette (Stigmata)
Jeffrey Jones (Howard The Duck)
Vincent D’Onofrio (Daredevil)
Bill Murray (Ghostbusters)
Lisa Marie (Sleepy Hollow)
Juliet Landau (Buffy)
Maurice LaMarche (Futurama)

In 1952, Ed Wood (Johnny Depp) is struggling to join the film industry. Upon hearing of an announcement in Variety magazine that producer George Weiss (Mike Starr) is trying to purchase Christine Jorgensen’s life story, Ed is inspired to meet Weiss in person. Weiss explains that Variety‍ ’s announcement was a news leak, and it is impossible to purchase Jorgensen’s rights. The producer decides to “fictionalize” the film, titled I Changed My Sex!. Ed tries to convince Weiss that he is perfect to direct I Changed My Sex! because he is a transvestite, but is unsuccessful since Weiss wants a director with experience. One day, Ed meets his longtime idol Bela Lugosi (Martin Landau), after spotting him trying out a casket. Ed drives Bela home and the two become friends. Later, Wood persuades Weiss to let him direct I Changed My Sex! by convincing him that having a star in the film would sell tickets, and they could sign Bela for a low price.

Ed and Weiss argue over the film’s title and subject matter: Weiss has already had the poster printed, which Ed changes to Glen or Glenda and writes the film about a transvestite rather than a sex change. In the end, Weiss allows Ed to shoot whatever he wants as long as the film meets the required length. Ed takes to film production with an unusual approach; usually shooting only one take per scene, giving actors very little direction, and using stock footage to fill in gaps. After filming, the movie is released to critical and commercial failure. Because of this, Ed is unsuccessful in getting a job at Screen Classics, but Ed’s girlfriend, Dolores Fuller (Sarah Jessica Parker), tells him that he should try financing his next film independently. Ed is unsuccessful in finding money for Bride of the Atom, but is introduced to the psychic The Amazing Criswell (Jeffrey Jones) who gives him advice on how to sell himself better.
At a bar, Ed meets Loretta King (Juliet Landau), who he thinks has enough money to fund Bride of the Atom and ends up casting her as the lead instead of Dolores as originally planned. Dolores was extremely angry about it. Filming begins, but is halted when it is revealed that Loretta is actually poor, and therefore Ed has no money to continue production. Ed convinces meat packing industry tycoon Don McCoy (Rance Howard) to take over funding the film, who agrees as long as the film stars his son Tony as the leading man and the film ends with an explosion. The filming of Bride of the Atom finishes, with the title being changed to Bride of the Monster, but Dolores breaks up with Ed after the wrap party because of his circle of friends, his work, and transvestism. Also, Bela, who is revealed to be highly depressed and a morphine addict, attempts to conduct a double suicide with Ed after the government cuts off his unemployment, but is talked out of it. Bela checks himself into rehab, and Ed meets Kathy O’Hara (Patricia Arquette), who is visiting her father at the same hospital. Ed takes her on a date and reveals to her his transvestism, which she accepts.

Ed begins to shoot a film with Bela outside his home. When Ed and company attend the premiere for Bride of the Monster, an angry mob chases them out of the theater. Sometime later, Bela passes away, leaving Ed without a star. Ed convinces a church leader named Reynolds that funding Ed’s script for Grave Robbers from Outer Space would result in a box office success, and generate enough money for Reynolds’ dream project (the Twelve Apostles films). Dr. Tom Mason (Ned Bellamy), Kathy’s chiropractor, is chosen to be Bela’s stand-in for resembling Lugosi (with half his face covered). However, Ed and the Baptists begin having conflicts over the title and content of the script which they want to have changed to Plan 9 from Outer Space along with Ed’s B movie directing style, his casting decisions and his transvestism. This causes a distressed Ed to leave the set and immediately take a taxi to the nearest bar, where he encounters his idol Orson Welles (Vincent D’Onofrio). Welles tells Ed that “visions are worth fighting for”, and filming for Plan 9 finishes with Ed taking action against his producers. The film ends with the premiere of Plan 9 with Ed believing it will be the film he “will be remembered for”, and Ed and Kathy taking off to Las Vegas to get married.

This is an immensely entertaining film, both comic and endearing. It masterfully portrays Wood in a humorous light, while not being demeaning or insulting. The strong acting, writing, and directing make this unique movie a film worth seeing

REVIEW: ANGEL – SEASON 1-5

 

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MAIN CAST

David Boreanaz (Bones)
Charisma Carpenter (Scream Queens)
Glenn Quinn (R.S.V.P)
Alxis Denisof (Dollhouse)
J. August Richards (Agents of SHIELD)
Amy Acker (The Cabin In The Woods)
Vincent Kartheiser (Mad Men)
Andy Hallett (Chance)
James Marsters (Smallville)
Mercedes McNab (The Addams Family)

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RECURRING / NOTABLE GUEST STARS

Tracy Middendorf (Scream: The Series)
Christian Kane (Just Married)
Josh Holloway (Lost)
Sarah Michelle Gellar (Ringer)
Michael Mantell (The Ides of March)
Elisabeth Rohm (Joy)
Obi Ndefo (Stargate SG.1)
Johnny Messner (Anacondas)
Jennifer Tung (Masked Rider)
Seth Green (Family Guy)
Andy Umberger (Deja Vu)
Tushka Bergen (Mad Max 3)
Beth Grant (Wonderfalls)
Bai Ling (The Crow)
Jesse James (Blow)
J. Kenneth Campbell (Mars Attacks)
Henri Lubatti True Blood)
Christina Hendricks (Mad Men)
John Mahon (Zodiac)
Kristin Dattilo (Intolerable Cruelty)
Carlos Jacott (3rd Rock From The Sun)
Lee Arenberg (Once Upon A Time)
Jeremy Renner (Avengers Assemble)
Ken Marino (Veronica Mars)
Stephanie Romanov (Thirtten Days)
Tamara Gorski (Man With The Screaming Brain)
Julie Benz (Punisher: Warzone)
Eliza Dushku (Tru Calling)
Alastair Duncan (The Batman)
Sam Anderson (Lost)
Todd Stashwick (The Originals)
Justina Machado (Final Destination 2)
Matthew James (American Crime)
J.P. Manoux (Birds of Prey)
Tony Amendola (Stargate SG.1)
David Herman (Futurama)
Edwin Hodge (The Purge)
Daisy McCrackin (Halloween 8)
Juliet Landau (Ed Wood)
Brigid Brannagh (Army Wives)
W. Earl Brown (Bates Motel)
Tony Todd (Wishmaster)
Jim Piddock (The Prestige)
Julia Lee (A Man Apart)
Gerry Becker(Spider-Man)
Eric Lange (Lost)
Leah Pipes (The Originals)
Thomas Kopache (Catch Me If You Can)
Brody Hutzler (Days of Our Lives)
Persia White (The Vampire Diaries)
Daniel Dae Kim (Lost)
Mark Lutz (Bitch Slap)
Alyson Hannigan (How I Met Your Mother)
Keith Szarabajka (The Dark Knight)
Frank Salsedo (Power Rangers Zeo)
David Denman (Outcast)
Justin Shilton (Little Miss Sunshine)
Rance Howard (Chinatown)
Kristoffer Polaha (Ringer)
Jack Conley (Payback)
Jim Ortlieb (Roswell)
Laurel Holloman (Boogie Nights)
Jeffrey Dean Morgan (The Losers)
Sunny Mabrey (Snakes On A Plane)
Summer Glau (Firefly)
John Rubinstein (Red Dragon)
Alexa Davalos (Clash of The Titans)
Kay Panabaker (No Ordinary Family)
Joel David Moore (Bones)
Adrienne Wilkinson (Xena)
Gina Torres (Hannibal)
Annie Wersching (The Vampire Diaries)
Danny Woodburn (Watchmen)
Sarah Thompson (Cruel Intentions 2)
Jonathan M. Woodard (Firefly)
T.J. Thyne (Bones)
John Billingsley (Star Trek: Enterprise)
Simon Templeman (Black Road)
Roy Dotrice (Beauty and the Beast)
Brendan Hines (Lie to Me)
Tom Lenk (Argo)
Navi Rawat (Feast)
Roy Werner (Power Rangers Time Force)
Alec Newman (Dune)
Adam Baldwin (Chuck)
Jaime Bergman (Soulkeeper)
Stacey Travis (Easy A)
Dennis Christopher (Django Uncahined)

When Joss Whedon pitched Angel: the Series, he described it as a detective-style film-noir-themed take on the supernatural, much in the same way Buffy was pitched as a look from the viewpoint of the Horror genre. Buffy’s style took some time to get right, but the aesthetics of this show in its first year are well thought out and crafted; darkness and emotive shadow creep over, tense musical swells linger, and the picture is shot in a large resolution to provide just a bit of grain. I’d be damned if it didn’t seem intentional. Joss also said that where Buffy looked, metaphorically, at the hell of High School, Angel’s show would look at life past it in your early adulthood and the life and relationship issues of that unique, big city world. This metaphor is dominant in the first season, and is one of the main themes.

Angel, as a series, is always and will always be about redemption, but the themes of its respective seasons are about the different facets to it. Exploring what it is, losing the chance at it or the responsibility one pledges to it is all covered over the duration of the show. With season one, it was most direct: How do you get it? At the start of the season we see Angel arrive in LA, see him save lives, but we also watch him slip deeply into apathy about his goal. To understand the importance and worth of a human and life and soul, Angel learns in “City of” (1×01) that one must have a human connection; friends and allies that make his life worth living so his mission can be worth fighting for, and most importantly so that he doesn’t become detached from (and even dangerous to) those he hopes to save.

The season, as I mentioned, does lack a cohesive arc, but it also has a tremendous amount of hugely entertaining and well-written standalones. Many of them focus on Angel’s mission: “helping the helpless.” Angel makes it his goal to not only save lives, but save souls and make life worth living for others, and as a result of this his connections are solidified as he carries this out. He and his group slowly form into a legitimate investigation team which takes cases and makes money off of them, and many of the seasons situations out of which the characters are developed are a result of these cases. Cordelia, who in “Rm w a Vu” (1×05) is still defining herself by her possessions, searches for a place to live. Instead what she finds is a stronger sense of self, and in that a connection to the world of humans rather the one of plastic. Doyle and Wesley both find their own connections, as well. Episodes such as these are the season’s order, in every one of which something new happens that alters the main or supporting characters, or teaches the audience something about them.

This is, in my opinion, what sets shows like Buffy and Angel apart: relevance. More than any other show, each episode contains progressive, ongoing development that charts development in a very realistic way. On a more specific level, this particular season has an extremely strong episode to episode consistency, with each individual showing striking its own tone and exploring the main theme in different ways. A few larger, more exciting events may have helped, but at the same time I appreciate this season for what it is and how it does something a bit different from most other seasons of Buffy or Angel. There’s a lot more to talk about, including the metaphorical basis’ used and what we’re being fed through them, as well as the general ups and downs. The strongest suit this season has is its extremely fluid use of theme. Though the ponderings on connection, redemption and starting a new life are not as intricately detailed, subtle or socially penetrating as the themes of any other season, the careful and consistent way they’re used to develop characters and give the stories real world relevance is masterful. Angel made it his mission to save souls, and we were shown him connecting with people by helping them, failing to help them, or losing them altogether. All the supporting characters followed, gaining their own redemption through helping Angel and the helpless.

With the exception of Wesley being overly bumbling at times, nothing felt out of character this season, and that’s extremely impressive considering the length of a season. Doyle’s sacrifice in “Hero” (1×09), Angel’s re-ignited belief in himself in “To Shanshu in LA” [1×22] or Kate’s decision to see Angel kiss daylight in “Sanctuary” [1×19] were all thematically conclusive, resonant and well built up to.

The preceding season was,strong and coherent. While looking at the tribulations of life after High School in the big city, it managed to do so in a way that developed the characters within another major theme: Connection; Human emotions and growth that make us a part of the world, make us human. By the end of the season, Angel had been given a purpose, both short and long term, and a mission to fight for: Fighting in the final battles and surviving to be made a breathing human being again. Season Two, with a much broader theme, builds logically on that, and asks our vampire hero just what it means to really be human. Much of the season’s development is split in that way, with Angel increasingly being led off into his own world, with his friends developing entirely in a place away from him.screen-shot-2016-09-09-at-10-18-22-am-e1473430782777While he and the fate that ties him to Darla explore the complexities of human existence, Cordelia, Wesley and Gunn become forced to suffer through and succeed in it on their own. Though not as characterized by pain and hopelessness as much as S3 post “Sleep Tight” [3×16] through to the end of the series is, there’s much darkness and suffering abound, especially for Angel. His epic trials and will for revenge separate him harshly from humanity, only for him to realize that his worst actions are indeed wholly human, and that this is what humanity really can be. Season Two has such interesting ideas in spades, and its theme looks at all the best (“Untouched” [2×04], “Guise Will Be Guise” [2×06], “Epiphany” [2×16]) and worst (“Reunion” [2×10], “Reprise” [2×15]) sides of our existence: forgiveness, self-control, image, obsession, revenge, victory, belonging and the very nature of evil itself. By the time the season closes, Angel’s re-examined entirely what his mission is and how he’s to fight it, and goes from a champion vampire-with-a-soul to simply a genuinely good human being who helps people.fake-dwarvesWith the exception of the brilliant period piece Are You Now or Have You Ever Been?, and a few rare others, the season doesn’t have quite as much use for pure standalones. Its arc employs its best metaphors and situations in the interest of exploring all sides of the characters’ journey, and as such, the season gives the impression that more happens this year than last because of the depth of each phase of the arc: the four episode standalone period, the first part of the Darla arc (“Dear Boy” [2×05] to “Reunion” [2×10]), the second part of the Darla arc (“Redefinition” [2×11] to “Epiphany” [2×16]), another couple of standalones (“Disharmony” [2×17] and “Dead End” [2×18]) and the Pylea arc (“Belonging” [2×19] to “There’s No Place Like Plrtz Glrb” [2×22]).

This is likely why the season finds such a strong and undivided following. While some dispute the worth of the standalones or the Pylea arc, others like them, and everyone loves the story arc; there’s something for everyone. The best aspect of this year of the character’s journey in L.A. is how broad and all encompassing the season is. With the exception of Season Five, I find this to be the best season of the show. It has a few great metaphors, an engaging, unpredictable story arc, fun standalones, important character development, strong drama, and some of the most intelligent moral and social considerations I’ve ever seen on a TV show or in a movie.

Like at the start of Season Two, the writers seemed to have a clear direction in mind at the start of Season Three, and they wisely picked up the story at the logical introductory point: With Angel having conquered his innermost doubts about his own humanity. He begins to live a truly human life. He’s accepted his role in the world as a good person rather than a champion, and recognizes the world as a wide-open, random place with no greater destiny or order about it. It’s the kind of world where even the smallest acts of kindness mean everything, because they mean someone is able to shrug off the horrible burdens of life long enough to make another life better.screen-shot-2016-09-09-at-10-18-22-am-e1473430782777It opens with a six episode prelude looking at various facets of the responsibilities and obligations of normal human life, and then really begins with “Offspring” [3×07] when Darla returns to L.A. in a very, very pregnant state. Like “Dear Boy” [2×05] was for S2, this is where the beginning of S3 truly lies. With Darla’s death and the birth of baby Connor (“Lullaby” [3×09]) as the emotional forces driving the season, the writers used the question of responsibility and all the ideas that fall under it (justice, deserving, chaos and guilt) to create some truly, gut-wrenchingly impossible situations for our characters to face. If I have to commend this year for one thing alone, it’s the painstaking drama that the writers plunge the characters into throughout the main arc and in the mini-arcs that follow. Although there’s not nearly as much thematic depth as S2 or as much consistency as S1, the tragedies and difficult moral situations our beloved Angel Investigations team members are forced to face moved me deeper than a lot of other episodes in the series.

Aesthetically, S3 also has a much more sprawling scope than the previous two seasons. While the first six episodes were essentially standalones, everything that followed “Offspring” [3×07] was in some way tied to the main plot arc of the show, even when some of its key players disappeared following the epic tragedy of “Sleep Tight” [3×16]. Just when it seemed the story was about to move in another Pylea-like offshoot after the main storyline concluded, Connor and Holtz returned and the plot kept on chugging. This led to some problems, of course, as all season-long arcs eventually do. Tension sometimes tried to take the place of real content and it often showed. It also led to there being an uncomfortable setup/payoff ratio on the episode list. But on the plus side, S3 (and S4, which moves even further in this direction) had a feeling of epic scope that no other seasons manage, so to even think of the better aspects that lie within strikes me. Such a sprawl is one of the reasons many people love S3 even if they haven’t looked very deeply at it.Image result for angel forgiving“Forgiving” [3×17] was another gem, as it looked at the human need to assume we live in an ordered world where someone is responsible for everything that happens. But it’s never that easy, and watching Angel struggle with that was fascinating. The final three episodes (“A New World” [3×20], “Benediction” [3×21], “Tomorrow” [3×22]) made up another interesting stretch where we saw how our characters could be motivated by pain, hatred or love and the effects of all those things.

Having already been on the air for three years, Angel had more then enough time to establish its theme, characters, and relationships. It was in its fourth year that it would bring all of these elements to the forefront and then mix them up in a season that would come to be known for its complex twists and turns.The season begins with our title character trapped at the bottom of the ocean – put there by his son – with the rest of his gang broken up. From this grim beginning, things only get darker – literally. Enter the Beast, a rock-encrusted devil whose arrival is heralded by a rain of fire and promptly blocks out the sun over L.A. All signs are pointing to the apocalypse, and it’s up to Angel and the rest of his demon-fighting crew to put a stop to it. From a storytelling point of view things just keep getting worse and worse and it’s a credit to the writers that they somehow manage to end it all on a positive note.Since Season 2 Angel has been a very arc-heavy show, but in its fourth year it would approach almost 24 levels of continuity and follow-through. In addition to being very cool to watch, the interlinked episodes add up to a season that is one big experience unto itself. It’s as if the entire season is one episode with many chapters.This year we get to watch everything get shaken up. Wedges are slowly driven between certain relationships while jealousy quickly divides others. The great thing about it is that you get to see what has caused all of these problems. Despite their best efforts to hold together, these characters have no choice but to push each other apart. It makes for gripping television.Visually and stylistically the show is very well put together. The directing efforts of Joss Whedon (who is always excellent), Tim Minear (who has grown by leaps and bounds over the course of the series), and even Sean Astin (yes that Sean Astin) give the show a very polished and theatrical feel. The producers repeatedly stated that they were going for an ‘operatic’ feel to the season and they pulled it off very well. The use of darkness and shadow deserves special mention as does the great use of wide shots and the directors’ ability to fill each frame with as much information as possible. Wesley goes from bumbling dork to dark James Bond. Cool! While the twists and turns are great, the really cool thing to the season is the multiple layers that you’ll find within. Just when you think you know who the real ‘big bad’ is or in which direction the show is going, the rug is pulled out from under your feet. The entire season keeps you guessing from start to finish. Of course, our heroes win in the end — but everyone is left wondering if they did the right thing. And that’s what sets the show apart: It’s action with substance.

Nobody, not the producers, not the actors, and certainly not the fans could have predicted where this show would go. Where it could go. After all, this is an hour-long fantasy about a guy who spends so much time sitting in the shadows and brooding so much he would give Batman a run for his money. Or utility belt, as the case may be. So why is it that after five years and over a hundred episodes this show was still one of the freshest on TV? Simple: this is a story about something. What started off as just a Buffy spin-off has ended up as a massive epic that challenges, if not surpasses, its parent show. Unfortunately, the WB didn’t think so. After giving the producers a hard time and insisting on several changes, the network decided to bring the show back for a fifth, and what would be its final year.

 

So, in previous seasons we’ve had operatic apocalypses, quests for meaning, and our hero even went evil for a while. There’s only one place left to go. Into the belly of the beast, into hell itself: a law firm. Based on the out-of-left-field plot twist that was thrown at Angel and the gang in previous season’s finale, the team is now in charge of wolfram and hart the evil law firm that they’ve spent the entire series battling. The trick then becomes changing the system from the inside, all the while making sure that it doesn’t change them.


Unfortunately when the network decided to renew the show for a fifth year, there were conditions. First and foremost, it had to be more stand-alone. No more back-to-back cliffhangers. Next, the budget was cut. And finally, to sweeten the deal, the producers decided to bring over Spike – who was barbequed in the Buffy finale – in the hopes that his fans would follow. Luckily the introduction of Spike worked out well. He added a nice flavor to the show and helped flesh out Angel’s character in a way that nobody else could have. The punky vampire brought out the worst in our hero, which ended up resulting in some great comedy. Even if this Spike was different from whom he became on Buffy, he made for a nice addition.

The most unwelcome change was the standalone mandate. Yes, it can work, but it’s just not as good. The greatest strength of this show has always been its own history and tying the hands of the writers was a mistake. It resulted in a bump in the show’s overall flow. Even though it seems rushed, things tie up nicely and the finale certainly puts the “grand” in grandiose; now there’s a balls-to-the wall showstopper for you. Most people will agree that the show finished with perfect thematic closure. These characters fight an impossible fight knowing they’ll probably lose, but that’s not the point. They fight, not to win, but because that’s who they are. They don’t give up. No matter what.